Spuds ‘n’ Kale

Autumn comfort food. So quick. So easy. So yummy.

FullSizeRender

Wash several fresh small red potatoes. Cube and cover with water in a large pot. Cover with lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender when pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, wash and tear into bite-sized pieces one small bunch of fresh tender kale. (I like the leafy kale for this dish, not the dinosaur or lacinato.)

When potatoes are done, drain. (It’s helpful to leave a thin layer of water in the pan.) Top potatoes with prepared kale and replace the pot lid. Let the heat from the potatoes steam the kale briefly. Remove lid and add enough good quality olive oil to coat the spuds. Mash by hand with a large wooden spoon, smooshing the potatoes and blending in the kale. Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

We often eat this as a late supper with a glass of apple cider or with sliced apples or sweet radishes.

 

 

No-bake Apple Butter Breakfast Bar

These breakfast bars will start your body’s engine and keep it revving all morning.

breakfast-bar

In a large bowl, combine

  • about 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • about 3/4 cup smooth “natural” peanut butter
  • about 1/2 cup apple butter
  • dash of cinnamon

Microwave for 30 seconds to one minute (optional.) Stir until smooth.

Stir in,

  • about 2 cups rolled oats
  • pumpkin seeds (raw, unsalted work best)
  • sunflower seeds (raw, unsalted work best)
  • sesame seeds
  • currants.

Spread in an 8-inch square baking pan lined closely with aluminum foil (let the edges of the foil overlap the pan). Place a square of waxed paper to fit on top and press with fingers and palm of hand until even and close-packed.

Refrigerate for 12 hours or more.

Lift out of the pan using the foil edges and place on a cutting board. Remove the waxed paper. Slice into squares. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Delicious served with juicy fresh fruit like sliced peaches. In winter, a glass of orange juice washes the bar down nicely.

Any combination of nut butter and seeds and dried fruit might work. I’ve been meaning to try almond butter and dried apricots. Another liquid sweetener might do in place of maple syrup. Try other spices, too, like ginger and cardamom.

Experiment and enjoy.

Yummy Summer Medley

Oh my gosh! I could hardly wait to get this dish up on the blog. Take farm fresh small summer vegetables like carrots and squash and cherry tomatoes and roast to tenderness. Top with a creamy sauce made from fresh, raw corn. Wowza!

yummy vegan summer medley

On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, spread prepared vegetables. I used summer squash, cherry tomatoes, radishes and carrots. Drizzle with olive oil and roast at 450 degrees from about 20 minutes or until tender. Stir once while roasting.

Meanwhile, place in a blender a couple of handfuls of fresh raw corn, a handful of fresh basil, a splash of olive oil and water enough to run the blender (be conservative). I also added one quarter of a crisp white summer onion. You could use scallions. (I’d be wary of a regular old yellow onion. Any onion flavor should be subtle.) Blend until smooth.

When the vegetables are roasted, top with sea salt, stirring to blend.

Place vegetables in a pretty bowl and pour the sauce over. Grind fresh black pepper on top.

Enjoy!

 

Mac-un-Chz

“What’s this yummy concoction?” Matt said after taking a bite.

mac no chz

Aha! It’s mac-un-chz! And it’s delicious.

Eating veg-strong can be invigorating; I do feel spunkier relying on plant-based foods. But, at least for this on-again, off-again sort-of -vegan, it hasn’t always been flavorful or fun.

Even though my parents accommodated childhood vegetarian explorations, and adult forays into raw and dairy-free, I come from meat-eating people, some who worked the land, reverently hunting wild game, and slaughtering and eating animals they raised with care.

My relatives are also gracious and curious world travelers who value and emphasize eating what’s served and trying new things. I  internalized these values and abide by them as much as I can endeavoring, like my hero Peace Pilgrim, to savor and appreciate any edible shared by a host as the gift that it is.

At home, though, vegetables and fruit rule the roost. And this time around, partly in honor of Prince (whose 1984 Purple Rain Tour remains the best show my teenaged self ever saw!) and largely in an effort to practice ahimsa, I’m giving mostly vegan another go.

[Click here for an interview I did with Breeze Harper of Sistah Vegan. Breezie offers her take on compassion, race and the environment.]

It’s working out well for this body, budget and mind so far. (Everyone’s different. Do what suits you!) For now, that means plant-based plus a few eggs a week (from my local CSA) and yogurt at breakfast. Once in awhile, butter comes into play for almond cake.

As for many Americans, macaroni and cheese is my comfort food. I’ve eaten it any which way–with fancy white cheeses, plain old orange cheese (what my family called “rat cheese,” because sometimes it baited the rat traps…what can I say? I grew up in a D.C. row house), fluorescent from a box, organic from a box, scooped from the steam table, unwrapped on the tray table, fresh, frozen as a main dish or a side.

Well, readers and friends, I present a plant-based macaroni and cheese that Matt said was “the best I’ve ever had.” And, having lived with me for lotsa years, he’s eaten lotsa macaroni and cheese and attempts at mac-un-chz.

This recipe is adapted from one that came through the Animal Place Sanctuary Sweets email. If you’re wanting to be Veg Strong, I suggest subscribing. The email service offers more than sweets.

Mac-un-Chz (aka Yummy Concoction) adapted from clean food dirty girl

  • Soak 1/2 cup raw cashews in water to cover. Set aside.
  • In a small covered saucepan, simmer for 20 minutes in 2 cups of water : one peeled and chunked russet potato, 2 carrots, one small onion, 2 cloves garlic.
  • Meanwhile, start cooking macaroni or other noodles of your choice.
  • After 20 minutes, place cooked vegetables and cooking liquid in a blender, along with the drained cashews and about 1/2 cup nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add water if needed but be conservative.
  • Return sauce to pan. Add powdered turmeric (I used at least one Tablespoon), a dash of ground sage, a dash of dried basil and dried parsley, 1/4 teaspoon good quality horseradish, fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste.
  • When macaroni is cooked, drain. Place back in its pan and douse with olive oil (optional). Top with the sauce, stirring to combine. Enjoy!

Notes:

I have a regular ol’ blender. No high power needed.

The concoction thickens and turns creamier when you let it sit with the lid on, stove heat off, for 5-10 minutes.

Served here with diced fresh tomatoes marinated in lemon juice and olive oil with a tiny bit of sugar, salt and pepper.  They’re what I had on hand. Mac-un-Chz would also be delicious with a side of tender steamed broccoli garnished with lemon or a fresh green salad.

The concoction reheated superbly in the microwave.

 

 

Parsley & white bean hummus

Super yum and super easy!

parsley and white bean hummus

We dipped carrots sticks and thinly sliced turnips into this scrumptious dip. The hummus would also be tasty with French bread, bread sticks, slices of red bell pepper, rosemary crackers…you name it.

Whip it up in minutes.

It’s just a matter of blending together one can rinsed white cannellini beans with one clove peeled garlic, a dollop of tahini, handfuls of fresh parsley and a splash of olive oil. Blend with an immersion blender or combine in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt.

Green food = good food. (Most of the time.)

Salmon loaf, spinach and sweet potato

Fish is delish and by all accounts nourishing for humans to eat. I love everything about fish–how they look, where they live, that they swim and, yes, how they taste. I love docks, boats, rivers, oceans, streams, ponds, lakes and bays. I love fishermen and fisherwomen, fish mongers and fish chefs and fry cooks.

These loves lead me to struggle with the various arguments in favor of and against consuming fish. Sea life is so stressed by human  influences and we’re increasingly acknowledging  that fish feel and feel pain. When my idol Sylvia Earle stops eating fish, it might be time for me to follow suit.

In any case, if this was my last salmon meal, it was sure a great one! Recipes and tips are below in case you want to whip up your own salmon loaf, a long-time staple at my grandmother’s table, my mom’s and mine.

And whether or not you’re a fish-eater, please take note of the delicious sweet potato and spinach accompaniments!

This recipe is made with fresh, flake Scottish salmon from Jumbo Seafood on Highway 340 in Jefferson County, West Virginia, an amazing resource for sustainably harvested fish. Jumbo also sells, in season, oysters, the farming of which seems to support the waterways, scallops (which are so beautiful in and out of the shell!) and other mollusks, as well as local trout and farmed catfish–all of which may have less impact on oceans than catching the big fish. These might be tasty candidates to fry up, steam or poach for the occasional house guest in a celebration of life on earth.

This salmon loaf includes farm-fresh duck eggs from Stony Ridge Farm, spinach from the farm and some bright sweet potatoes and cherry tomatoes from the grocery store made a meal to share.

IMG_0060-2 photo-3

The salmon loaf recipe is from Taste of Home.

Here’s the TofH salmon loaf recipe.

Here are some tips and additions, if you choose to use them.

  • You’ll see the recipe calls for separating eggs and whipping the whites. I don’t own a mixer, so I placed the whites in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shook it until the whites firmed up. A trick from when I taught preschool: we’d have the little ones shake baby food jars of heavy cream until they ended up with butter. You do what you can to keep kids amused!
  • I made soft bread crumbs by grinding with the dry blade of a Cuisinart blender the heels of ordinary store-bought wheat sandwich bread that I use for pb&j. A food processor would work, too.
  • I added a smidgen of dill. My stepmother in Franklin, WV maintains an extensive garden and gifted me last fall with fresh dried herbs. I spared the last of the dill for this fish dish and I’m glad.
  • I used dried parsley as I didn’t have fresh. It worked fine. If you use fresh, mince it.
  • The loaf needed an additional 10 minutes of baking time since the salmon was fresh, not canned. You’ll know when it’s done by the the browning on the top. You can also use the skewer test.

For the spinach, roast organic cherry tomatoes with a few cloves of garlic, all splashed with olive oil, at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

(Line the baking sheet with parchment paper to to save clean-up.)

When the tomatoes blacken and pop, turn off the oven, add chopped fresh spinach and stick the whole thing back in the still-warm oven for a minute. The spinach will wilt and you can stir it all together, top with salt and pepper and serve.

Keep the sweet potatoes simple.

Roast the sweet potatoes in the oven while the salmon loaf is cooking or roast them in a jiffy in a microwave. In Monterey, Virginia, I picked up a cloth sleeve for “roasting” potatoes in the microwave. Just wash and dry a russet or sweet potato, wrap in a clean paper towel, and stick in the sleeve. Cook in the microwave for 8 – 12 minutes depending on type of potato and size. Works like a charm.

I am not handy with a needle and thread. If you are, stitch up your own bag and an extra for a friend. Here’s a link to an instructional video that looks good.

Enjoy! Be kind. Clarify your mind. Brighten your heart. Make decisions that align with your values.

Easy Vegetable Soup and Homemade Biscuits

This soup smelled so delicious, we couldn’t wait to take a photo before diving in. This shot is of a serving of seconds.

photo-8

The biscuits are from Betty Crocker. I did sub in 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and used 1 1/2 cups white flour instead of the flour the recipe calls for. Otherwise the recipe is the same. Flakey and tender.

For the soup.

Fill a large pot about halfway with water.

Add a few cloves garlic and a few red new potatoes (skins on okay).

Add a couple heads of broccoli, chopped, and lots of white button mushroom, chopped.

Add about three carrots, chopped, and anything else you like such as parsnips.

I have some precious wild-harvested wild rice that a student brought me from Minnesota. I added a handful of that and it made the flavor nutty and buttery. You could try store-bought wild rice (unflavored).

This batch of soup includes radish tops and green garlic from the Stony Ridge Farm CSA.

Seasonings are salt and pepper, marjoram, sage, thyme. Use anything else you desire. Boil and keep at a fast simmer for about 45 minutes. I threw in a handful of frozen sweet corn toward the end.

Yummy! Simple, joyful food!

Quick butternut squash soup with sage

This butternut squash soup with sage is quick, healthy and delicious.

Purchase the butternut squash already diced in the produce section of the supermarket.

quick butternut squash soup with sage
Squash soup with sage: simple, joyful food!

 

You’ll be eating in 30 minutes.

Saute one diced yellow onion and one chopped garlic clove in a splash of olive oil.

Add salt, fresh ground black pepper and minced fresh sage (dried doesn’t work nearly as well). Add a dash of dried marjoram and parsley if desired.

Add the diced butternut squash (2-3  cups) and water to cover.

Boil it up then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Cool slightly then puree with an immersion blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

If you’re not keeping it vegan, this would be pretty topped with a swirl of plain yogurt.

And/or keep the soup dairy free and top with fried fresh sage leaves. (Just wash and pat dry sage leaves then quick fry on high heat. Use olive oil or try avocado oil.)

Fancy Grits with Quail Eggs

When quail eggs came in the weekly farm share from Stony Ridge Farm CSA, I thought they might be good hardboiled and topping some fancy grits. This was de-licious!

fancy grits with quail eggs

Here’s how:

Make grits according to package directions.

The last few minutes of cooking, add halved cherry tomatoes.

The last minute of cooking, add chopped spinach and grated Asiago cheese.

Season with fresh ground black pepper and salt.

Top with the peeled, cooked quail eggs.

(The smoothie is plain whole milk yogurt, frozen peaches, a peeled and diced orange and a banana pureed in a regular blender.)

Ramp biscuits, scrambled eggs with salmon, honey mustard dressing on greens

Springtime around here means eating ramps, a wild leek. Like onions, ramps can be fried or grilled.

I made ramp biscuits to go with scrambled eggs.

The buttery, savory ramp biscuits were delicious and still tasty the next day.

 

ramp biscuits
simple, joyful food!

Biscuits served here with greens and violets dressed with a simple mixture of honey, mustard, apple cider vinegar, black peppers and olive oil.

The flaked salmon in the eggs is from Jumbo Seafood on Highway 340. I cooked the salmon in a little olive oil, scooted it to the side of the skillet to cook halved cherry tomatoes, then added eggs (beaten with a little salt, a little water and minced green garlic).

The ramps, the salad greens, the green garlic in the eggs–and the eggs–are all from Stony Ridge Farm CSA in Harpers Ferry.

Here’s how to make the ramp biscuits.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon white sugar.

Add 1/2 cup cold butter cut into cubes. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut in the butter until the flour mixture is pebbly.

Handy tool.

Drizzle in and stir in 1 cup buttermilk.

Stir in chopped ramps (bulbs and greens, about 1/3 cup).

Drop batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with a little more buttermilk and top with fresh ground black pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, Reduce heat to 350 and bake 15 minutes more.

I didn’t have buttermilk so I made sour milk by mixing juice from half a small lemon into the milk and letting it sit.

You can use cheesecloth to brush the biscuit tops and avoid dirtying a brush.

No ramps? Mild scallions would work, too. Or chives.

Enjoy!