Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 17: Thanksgiving

I assembled and baked the lasagna in the morning before we left for my sister's house - about an hour and a half away. We brought the Autumn Vegetable soup - ready to re-heat - and the chopped tomatoes, chopped collard greens, some frozen chopped kale from earlier in the season, some frozen chopped red and yellow peppers,  lemon juice, spices, etc, to add and cook a bit before serving. We also brought the Apple Cranberry chutney I made the other day and a jar of Sweet Corn Relish I canned in October (my second try at canning - a story for another day).
Everyone brought something and everyone helped. Our Thanksgiving menu looked something like this:

Starters: veggies & dip & Red pepper Hummus
assorted cheeses & crackers & grapes
goat cheese rolled in cranberries

Autumn Salad (greens with celery, apples, dried cranberries and candied pecans and balsamic vinagrette)
Autumn Vegetable soup with grated Parmesan cheese
Turkey & Dressing
Butternut Squash Lasagna
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed parsnips and carrots
Perfectly cooked green beans with sauteed onions and sliced almonds
Baked Sweet potatoes
Cranberry sauce, Chutney, Corn Relish
Apple, pumpkin, & pecan pies, cranberry bread, chocolate chip cookies & Jello - because we always have Jello.

Everything was very, very good.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 15: Cavatelli & Broccoli

Spent the day cleaning and shopping for Thanksgiving. Picked up the last of the CSA shares for this season. I made stock for the soup I usually make for Thanksgiving (Autumn Vegetable Soup from Mollie Katzen's Still Life with Menu cookbook) and Cranberry Apple Chutney (tried a new recipe from the NYT Well website). Cavatelli & Broccoli is one of our favorite dishes and it is so easy to prepare - and there was broccoli in the CSA share. I sauteed a bunch of garlic cloves in oil (2 tsp oil per person). I cut up the broccoli and threw it in the pasta pot - before the pasta - for 3 minutes, then transferred it to the pan with the garlic & oil using a slotted spoon. I boiled the cavatelli in the same water - then transferred them to the broccoli - added salt & pepper and Parmesan cheese, with more on the side. We had that with some semolina bread and a salad. After dinner, we finished making the Thanksgiving soup - everyone helped chop the many, many vegetables that make it taste so wonderful (leeks, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, carrotts, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes). I left the last few ingredients (tomatoes, swiss chard, red & yellow bell peppers, tamari, dill) to be added when we re-heat it on Thursday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 11: Winter Vegetable Stew with Chick peas and Apple Slaw

We have received turnips in our CSA share for the last three or four weeks and they are all still in the refrigerator. I finally found a recipe that includes them, and some of the other winter vegetables that were part of the last few shares, and sounds tasty. We also have a surfeit of radishes, both red and purple, and no one will eat them, and we still have half a head of red cabbage (not to mention an entire head of green cabbage) and this weeks share was full of apples. So...

Chickpea and Winter Vegetable Stew

I used 1 1/2 cans of chick peas, I couldn't find the harissa, so I left it out. I used Israeli cous cous. My husband said he would have liked bigger pieces of onion. It was very good.


Apple Slaw

I used less oil (4 teaspoons) + 2 tablespoons water. I didn't have any more honey, so I used maple syrup. I chopped the cabbage but grated the apples with the food processor. It was very tasty.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 9: Lentil soup and Grilled cheese

The Lentil soup - final container from the freezer of the batch I made a week or so ago. I used the recipe from the original Moosewood cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Tonight, I added some  mini bow-tie pasta and Parmesan cheese.

Grilled Cheese: 2 slices whole wheat Lanella bread, 1 1/2 slices low fat Swiss cheese, 1 roasted pepper from a jar (Organic Mediterranean) sliced, olive oil cooking spray.

Hit the spot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 8: Veggie Strata

On hand: red onion & broccoli from the CSA share, mushrooms, fresh eggs from a friend at work, stale ends of white & whole wheat Calandra sliced Lanella bread, various cheeses to choose from.

What to make?  Strata

How I did it:

  • Diced the red onion, sliced the mushrooms, sauteed them in 1 tablespoon olive oil till starting to brown
  • chopped the broccoli - smallish pieces. steamed it till bright green and still a little crisp and mixed it with the onions & mushrooms and added 1 tsp Annie's Organic Vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • cut the bread into cubes
  • grated 1 1/4 cups low fat cheddar and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • sprayed a large shallow casserole dish with Olive oil cooking spray, then layered: 1/2 bread, 1/2 veggies, 1/2 cheese - repeat
  • Whisked 1 3/4 cups almond milk, 6 eggs, 1 1/2 tablespoons Annie's Organic Dijon mustard, and a little more  Worcestershire sauce, then poured that over the bread and veggies.
  • Put in the fridge for about 5 hours, then baked at 350F for 1 hour
Result: "Tastes like dinner and dessert at the same time"
I don't know what that means - but the strata was good.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 5: Pasta with Kale, Arugula & Beans

I was going to make a mushroom strata - but I forgot that it has to sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before baking and it was late, so I made my usual standby, pasta with whatever is in the fridge. I had kale still left from last week's CSA share and arugula from this weeks share. I was thinking greens and beans, so I googled a recipe and found this one:

I added a chopped white onion - sauteed with the garlic. I used kale and arugula, a can of cannellini beans, just a little chopped red pepper from a jar, more Parmesan than the recipe calls for, and I left out the lemon juice. I used a little of the pasta cooking water to moisten it up a little. It was quick, tasty and filling

Day 4: Black Bean Chilaquile

I was too tired to type when I got home from work last night, so here is last night's entry.

I am a book person. I love them, and I have a lot of them. I have a bookshelf full of children's books in the guest bedroom even though my kids are grown. I have a full set of the "classics" given to me by a favorite aunt and uncle, all the books from my french literature class at college, two shelves of books on Jewish topics, and lots of paperbacks (including the full Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovitch).  I have forty-seven cookbooks on a little blue bookshelf in my kitchen, a dozen more on the top shelf of one of the cabinets and six or seven more that I never use (but can't seem to part with) on a shelf upstairs (in the guest bedroom with the children's books).

Everyone tells me that books are obsolete. I know I could put more books on one of the new electronic readers than I have on every bookshelf in my house. I know I can find just about every recipe in every cookbook I own somewhere on the web, but I like books. I can't part with the books I read to my son and my daughter in the rocking chair, I really do re-read the books I love every once and a while (have I mentioned my notoriously bad memory? Sometimes it's like reading them again for the first time).  I love to read the inscription that tells about the typeface, I love the way a new book smells, I love the way a book feels in my hands.

I have a lovely wrought-iron cookbook stand and when I cook from a recipe I prop the book up on the stand. My kids bring their laptops into the kitchen, put the recipe up on the screen, play some music from their i-tunes library, and look up the definitions for cooking terms they're not familiar with. I'm not there yet. I'm stubbornly old fashioned, yes, and I don't have laptop. Instead, I have two college educated children and four cars. Maybe by the time I can afford to buy the laptop, I will be ready to give up the cookbook on the pretty wrought iron stand...maybe I'll get a Kindle too.

The long awaited point here is that I followed a recipe for last night's dinner. I made Black Bean Chilaquile from the MooseWood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook. Of course the recipe is available on the web ( - here's one place, I'm sure you can find more). I used spinach from this week's CSA share, CSA corn I froze in August, Garden of Eatin' baked tortilla chips and low-fat instead of fat free cheddar. I used store-bought salsa. I took the chilaquile out of the oven just as I was leaving for work; took my portion with me and re-heated it in the microwave a couple of hours later, it was a little jumbled together but tasty. The family verdict was that I should make it again sometime - and I can do that - because I pretty much followed the recipe for once.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 2: Pizza with broccoli, red onions, olives, feta & sun-dried tomatoes

Two more reasons I'm doing this - my terrible memory, and my very short attention span. As my family has known for a long time, I never make exactly the same thing twice and I will have forgotten what I made for dinner tonight by this time tomorrow. This is probably because I tend to make things up as I go along, I get bored easily, I don't write down what I do, I don't always measure, and I'm likely to substitute what I have on hand for what I don't (also, I have a notoriously bad memory). I'm already excited that I can make the cauliflower risotto again because I wrote down how I made it here last night. Of course I can't promise it will be exactly the same, even with the recipe recorded here in the ether forever (because I tend to make things up as I go along, I get bored easily, I don't write down what I do, I don't always measure, and I'm likely to substitute what I have on hand for what I don't).

And  - - - - I just thought of another reason! Next week when I am wondering how long  a container of leftover something or another has been in the back of the fridge, I won't have to guess! and I won't have to argue with those who insist it has been there longer than I think it has. This will be, to quote FB, "Cool".

Day 2
Let's Use the Broccoli before it goes to seed Boboli Pizza

The CSA broccoli from last week still looked pretty good - it is amazing how much longer things last here in my refrigerator when they haven't spent weeks traveling across the country in a truck and days sitting in the grocery store - and I'm betting there will be more in tomorrow's share, so I was looking to make something with that. We had cavatelli & broccoli (my absolute favorite thing to do with broccoli) earlier this week, so I was thinking of making some kind of veggie mix to put over polenta. This idea was vetoed by a family member who shall remain nameless - and I found a thin crust, whole wheat Boboli pizza shell in the freezer, so...
  • I pre-heated the oven to 450 F - as per the instructions on the Boboli package
  • I sliced a red onion, fairly thin, tossed it with a teaspoon of olive oil, put it in a roasting pan and put that in the oven to soften and sweeten it up a bit. The oven wasn't up to temperature yet - I put it in anyway - on the bottom shelf.
  • I cut the broccoli up into florets and threw it in a large heavy pan with a tablespoon of oil and a few cloves of garlic - the unmentioned family member said I should just throw the raw onion and broccoli onto the shell and be done with it - but I wanted them a little soft - and not mushy or steamed soft - but flavorful soft - Red onion tastes just wonderful after a little time in the oven but I thought that would dry out the broccoli, so I opted for a short stay in the sautee pan.
  • While the onions and broccoli were cooking,  I took a handful of sun-dried tomatoes out of the freezer (they keep longer in there? I've been told - we'll see) and put them in a bowl with hot water. I chopped up the 8 or 10 calamata olives (from the olive bar) left in the refrigerator into quarters, then chopped up the sun dried tomatoes.
  • By this time, the oven was up to temperature. I spread the onions on the shell, then the broccoli & garlic, olives, sun dried tomatoes. I spread some feta over the top but I was worried it would be too dry - so I drizzled on a tablespoon of olive oil, then I was worried there wasn't enough cheese - but the block of Parmesan in the fridge has funny white spots on it and we are out of mozerella, except for a couple of "sticks" - so I cut up two of those and threw them on top too.
  • Things were piled pretty high on the shell. I put the "pizza" on the pizza stone in the 450 F oven and cooked it about 12 minutes.
  • We made a salad with Red leaf lettuce, red pepper, chick peas, and green olives to go with the pizza.
Family Consensus: Pretty Tasty!
PS - Lunch today was Lentil soup made from Mollie Katzen's recipe in the original Moosewood Cookbook, very simple, very, very tasty, one of my favorites - I made a pot last week and put half of it in the freezer - don't forget the vinegar.
PSS - I'm thinking I should run these recipes through the WW calculator and get points totals on them - I am only two months into my lifetime membership, still near goal weight, and I see counting points in my future if I want to stay here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 1: Risotto with orange cauliflower, onions, garlic, and asiago cheese

I've been procrastinating. I'm going to try to blog about 365 days of vegetarian dinners, starting today. I was supposed to start on the first of the month, but today will do just as well, I suppose.

I've been a vegetarian of one sort or another for more than thirty years now and the first question that non-vegetarians ask me has not changed in all that time; "What do you eat?" I'm going to try to answer that question here.

What I eat has changed over time. In the seventies, every vegetarian recipe took out the meat and put in lots of butter, and cream and cheese, as if we had to compensate for what we'd lost. Frances Moore Lappe told us we had to eat the right combination of proteins at every meal, so I built menus around the best amino acid matches. There were no frozen veggie burgers, only TSP (textured soy protein), tempeh and tofu.

When the frozen food industry discovered the vegetarian market, I was seduced by the variety and ease of the new products appearing every time I visited the grocery store and went through a period of building meals around the latest and greatest frozen soy protein - Gardenburger, Boca, Morningstar Farms, and Amy's burgers, various veggie hot dogs, pseudo chicken patties, fake Italian and breakfast sausage, even Quorn "roasts" and tofurky.

I worked my way through every Mollie Katzen cookbook. I've tried ethnic recipes from around the globe and I am a big fan of Lately, I've joined in on the newest craze; I have a CSA share and for the last twenty four weeks I've been building meals around what is in the box I pick up every Thursday. That has been more fun than I could have imagined, and more work.

For thirty years or so, though, one thing hasn't changed, each evening I answer the question of "What's for dinner?" and the answer never includes meat. So, here goes.

Day 1
Risotto with orange cauliflower, onions, garlic, and asiago cheese

There was a lovely head of orange cauliflower in last Thursday's CSA box. Tonight it morphed into an even lovelier risotto. Here's how it happened.

  • I didn't have any stock around, so I put a potato, 3 old small carrots, part of a turnip, half an onion, a handful of green beans, some parsley, and a teaspoon of Verdurette (see below) in a pot with about 6 cups of water and set it to boiling.
  • I rinsed and cut the cauliflower into florets which I put into a roasting pan, tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and some salt and pepper, and put into a 400 degree oven.
  • While the stock boiled and the cauliflower roasted (I stirred it around every once and a while), I minced 3 small cloves of garlic and a leftover half of a white onion and began to sautee that in about a teaspoon of olive oil
  • When the onions were soft and starting to brown, I added half a box of arborio rice and sauteed that for a few minutes with the onions and garlic, then I began to add the hot broth (I left it on low and scooped out liquid from around the vegetables with a measuring cup) 1/2 - 1 cup at a time, stirring pretty constantly
  • In between stirrings, I grated some asiago cheese - about 3/4 cup I'd say.
  • After about 20 minutes or so, the rice was cooked and the cauliflower was starting to brown but not yet mushy. I mixed the cauliflower into the rice, then mixed in the cheese and a little salt and pepper.
  • We added a spinach salad (spinach from the CSA box, dried cranberries, walnuts and a little feta cheese, balsamic vinagrette) and that was dinner.
  • Yummy!
Verdurette is a recipe to preserve vegetables with salt, French, as you can tell from the name. You can find many versions if you search on-line. I leaned to make this at a food preservation class I took with Leda Meredith her recipe is basically 4 parts vegetables (1 part each leafy greens, root vegetables, alliums, & fresh herbs) and 1 part salt.