Friday, February 17, 2012

Ahead of the Curve

First, I have been a blogging slacker of late. What can I say? Stomach bugs. Two rounds of colds. A lice epidemic in the kids' schools. It's been a crazy winter. But I am recommitting.

I have bunch of recipe ideas to get up, but while I am working on that, here is a little fun Friday web distraction. Do you know  Pinterest? I discovered this totally addicting site when reading the Post Punk Kitchen Blog's year end round-up. I requested a Pinterest invite right away and within a view days, I was spending far too much time on the site.

So what is Pinterest? It is an online "pinboard" for saving images from the web. Essentially, you create "boards" (like bulletin boards) with a images and the corresponding location on the web. I have one for garden ideas, books to read, favorite recipes, cool crafts. You get the idea. It is basically a visual way to create a cache of bookmarks. When you sign up, you check off some things you are interested in and Pinterest "folks" (ie complex algorithm) picks a bunch of people (real people this time) for you to follow. And, if you have a Facebook account, it will find "friends" who have Pinterest accounts and try to connect you. Even without an account, you can search other people's boards. Want to build a new patio? Redecorate a room? Bake gluten free bread? Try Pinterest as search engine.

Here is an article from the NY Times about the incredible rise of this site.

I think I am also obsessed with Pinterest because this is one of the few times in my life I have been ahead of the curve. I actually had a Pinterest account before Josh and Dave, who are way more knowledgeable about the tech universe, even knew what it was. The last time I was ahead of the curve? I had the first Sheryl Crow album way before she became super famous. So there you have it.

Seriously, Pinterest is really cool. Give it a try.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Vegan Apple Bread

Love quick breads. Love them.

Yesterday, in an effort to warm up our kitchen and use up some of the nearly inedible apples in our crisper, I made a vegan version of apple bread. It was fabulous.We have been enjoying it all week for breakfast.

Here's the recipe:

-In a small bowl combine 2 cups cooked apple chunks or chunky apple sauce or just apple sauce, 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup honey. (I also had some grated zucchini on hand so I threw that in. It was about a scant 1/4 cup.)
-In a larger bowl combine 1 cup white flour, 1 cup wheat flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 cup brown sugar, a few dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg.
-Add wet to dry plus 1 cup soy/coconut/almond/rice milk. Don't over mix.
-Pour into greased loaf pan and cook at 350 for about 1 hour.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quite a Scene

Here are some images of the tableau that Kara left in her room this morning.

Pictured are "Cheetee" the cheetah. A Christmas present from my mom. She is getting married, thus the pink veil. And, of course, she is sitting with her cubs.

As I was taking these pictures, I noticed these little cuties all tucked in for a hard day of waiting for Kara to get home.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Miso Tofu

The other day I saw a recipe for Grilled Tofu Salad with Miso Dressing on Steamy Kitchen. It looked delicious, so I gave it a try. But of course, I didn't really follow the recipe. Not exactly anyway.

Here's what I did:
-Slice a block of extra firm tofu into about 7-8 slices. Press them between dish towels to get out some of the moisture.
-In a small bowl, I mixed:
  • 4 tsp miso paste
  • dash of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1tbsp rice vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • dash of sriracha 
-Then I put the dish in the microwave for 20 seconds to warm it all up - it needs to be warm to dissolve the miso and honey.
-Season to taste and then pour half over the tofu.
-I broiled the tofu for about 7 min/side, but you could fry or grill it too.
-For the salad, I just made a basic salad. But I added the juice from the second half of the orange and little sesame oil to the remaining marinade to convert it to salad dressing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Five" Minute Pita - For Real

 In my last post I glossed over the fact that I made pita to go with our amazing falafel dinner. Lest you think that I am some kind of baking guru, let me assure you that pita bread is so so so easy to make. The only "technical" piece of equipment you need is a pizza stone. But I think you could probably use a baking sheet and make it work.

Last spring I posted about the wonders of the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes book. You can make a really good loaf of bread following their method. But you can make really incredible pita bread. What I mean to say is: You can make the best pita ever. And it really takes no time at all.

Here is their basic bread recipe with step by step instructions and photos. Once you have made a bucket, or pot, or big bowl of dough you can do all kinds of things with it. Obviously, you can shape a whole loaf of bread, or make bread sticks, or a pizza etc. But if you want to have fresh bread ASAP, make pita.

Here's what you do:
-Heat your oven with a pizza stone to 400. If you don't have a stone, put a heavy duty baking sheet in the oven and let it get hot.
-Scoop out a small handful of dough and roll it out to about 1/4 to 1/8 inch. You will need lots of flour.
-Use a pizza peel to slide the flattened dough on to the stone. Or, place the dough on parchment and use a pan or cookie sheet to slide it onto the hot baking surface.
-Turn on your oven light, call the kids and watch your flat dough bubble up and become pita. Takes about 7 minutes. Highly entertaining.
-BTW: If you prick the dough all over with a fork before putting in the oven, it wont puff and you will have lavash instead of pita. Equally delicious.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Falafel Night!

Sunday night is often Dave's night to cook. Not only is it nice to have a break from being the family cook, but I can always count on Dave to try something new. Dave, unlike me, is good at following an actual recipe, and I can count on him to research his dinner idea with his typically meticulous attention. So when he decided to give Falafel a try a few weeks ago, I was psyched. Unfortunately, it didn't really come out the way he had hoped. The falafel tasted good, but in the frying up process, many of them fell apart. And despite his best efforts, he couldn't quite get the temperature of the oil right. Bottom line, it wasn't the best falafel ever. Welcome to the world of home-cooking, hon!

So when Dave offered to cook again this Sunday, I encouraged him to climb back up on that falafel horse. (Sorry for that horribly strained metaphor.) This time he used a recipe from Fresh, a new cookbook I bought recently - which is a great source for vegan and vegetarian recipes. This time he was completely successful. These little patties were amazing. Flavorful, tender and just the right consistency. They fried up perfectly.

Here is the recipe. We played a little fast and loose with the amounts for the herbs. And we didn't have any mint, so we just left it out. You don't need to be especially precise to make good falafel.

-In a food processor combine: 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup mint, 1/2 cup parsley. Transfer to a large bowl.
-Put 3 1/2- 4 cups of cooked chickpeas in the food processor. Blend until chopped but don't puree. You want the mixture to be coarse.
-Add chickpeas to bowl with herbs and add: 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 cup flour (the recipe called for spelt flour but we just used whole wheat), 1/3 cup finely diced onion, 4 tbsp tahini (you could substitute peanut butter, I suspect), 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp coriander
-Mix it all together and then use hands to form small patties.
-You can fry them or bake them right away of refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
-If you are frying, use a heavy skillet and about 1/4 cup oil. If baking, set oven to 350 and cook for about 20 min. We tried both methods and thought they were equally yummy.

We served them with fresh made pita, lettuce, cucumbers and tahini dressing. The kids weren't that into the falafel, so we substituted hummus for them. A super-healthy Sunday dinner. They made fabulous leftovers on Monday, too.

Thanks, Dave, for conquering your falafel fears and making us a wonderful meal. You rock!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Years Review

I was planning to post holiday pictures today, but we are having computer issues. Big time praise and thanks to Dave for tackling our technology issues. To say it has been "challenging" would be a huge understatement. In lieu of cute pics of the kids, I thought I would share some of the fun and cool things that we have encountered this holiday season.

1. Xbox Kinect. This was our big ticket gift from Dave's parents. Ostensibly, the purpose was to allow Kara to play fun, age appropriate games. (Dave has already fully explored Xbox's capabilities to play Skyim. Full disclosure, I have played quite a bit of Call of Duty, as well.) We were not sure how Kara would take to the whole gaming thing, but we can say without reservation that it has been a huge success. Kinectimals is absurdly cute; the adventure game is also lots of fun. But the big hit has been Just Dance. We all, even Jamie, took part in the fun. Even Dave took a turn playing to the Pointer Sisters' classic "Jump." Best daddy ever.

2.  Buffalo chicken dip. Josh brought this for New Year's eve and it rocked. Again. So disgustingly delicious.

3.  Homemade Candied Ginger. I used this recipe by David Lebovitz. It was almost an epic fail - I couldn't get the sugar syrup to thicken and made it all boil over on my stove which set off all of the smoke alarms at 9 o'clock at night. Good times. But...the end result was gorgeous and delicious.

4. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I bought this as a Christmas present to myself. Unbelievably comprehensive resource. Totally worth it if you are even vaguely interested in eating less meat.

I hope to be back with pictures next week.
Happy New Year!