Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday's Cooking

Some days you just need noodles to make you feel whole.  Today was one of those days - it's rainy and muggy here and work is bordering on unbearable.  So, to refresh my spirit, I felt the need for Noodle Soup. 

Vegetable Soba Soup


1 pt. container White button mushrooms - if you're using large mushrooms, it will take about six mushrooms, sliced thin. If you're using small button mushrooms, in half will do.

2 large stalks celery, sliced very thin on the diagonal

3 scallions, white part and a small quantity of the green, also sliced thin on the diagonal

1/3 to 1/2 chile, seeds removed, diced very fine - I had a poblano on hand, so I used a 1/4 of that. I've used a half of a seeded jalapeno

1 1/2 T white miso paste

1 T low sodium soy sauce (or more to taste)

2 cups of water

1 large box container (32 oz) vegetable (chicken will work as well) broth

You can julienne some carrots, but I was too lazy. 

1/2 package of buckwheat soba noodles (cooked separately - otherwise the broth gets very starchy)


Combine the miso with the liquid ingredients and heat over low flame, stirring until the miso has dissolved (taste - if you like it a bit salty, you may want to add another teaspoon of the miso).  Bring to a brisk simmer and then add the veggies. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the veggies are tender. I sprinkled chopped cilantro over the top.  



Picture 003


It smelled so good the kitties actually woke up from their mid-afternoon coma:

Picture 001

Picture 002

Monday, May 26, 2008

I'm baaaack......

Late last Friday, I got the opportunity to attend a large IT Forum in Las Vegas. The forum was held by my old employer, so it was a great opportunity to see old friends and colleagues.  The event was great - interesting and providing me with a number of presentations that will help me tremendously in my current position. It was also a blast to hang out with my old buds, listening to them play music (it must be a requirement somewhere that when you put a bunch of geeks together in one place, SOMEONE has to play a mean guitar - in this case, we have several).  Almost every night was a sing along. As usual, you drink a bit too much in Vegas, and it made me remember why I recently cut down on my martini intake...;-)

The thing that really sucks about Vegas (apart from the rampant consumerism, watching people that can ill afford to be there gamble away the mortgage payment and way too many folks with questionable taste), is that you've decided not to make meat or chicken a major part of your diet, there's precious little to eat out there.  I had to stick to either Italian or Mexican in order to have a decent meal and I had to order fish a lot.  Luckily, I stayed at the Venetian and they have a Canyon Ranch spa there and I ate breakfast and lunch there almost daily. 

I also came down with either a sinus infection or something - so the spa's steam room came in verrry handy.

Back on the homefront, the tomatoes and peppers are in and doing well, the herbs are taking off and the spring flowers are just gorgeous.  I have a climbing rose that I've neglected after it looked like it wasn't going to make it past the first season just take off and is full of beautiful yellow-orange blooms.

I actually missed cooking all week and got busy making a great Caribbean Stew from my new Moosewood cookbook - it's easy to make and goes great with brown rice and jerk seasoned fish or tofu (I ate it with a veggie burger and that was great, too.  My camera battery is dead, but you can imagine the colors:

1 large sweet potato - peeled and cubed into medium to large chunks

2 small zucchini, sliced thick

1 large onion, diced fine

1/2 tsps of allspice and thyme

1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice

2 to 4 cups of shredded kale (I used collards, because it was the only fresh green I had on hand). 


Saute the onion in a soup kettle on medium low for about 5 minutes or until very tender and beginning to caramelize.  Add the the allspice and thyme and stir until fragrant, about a minute.  Then add the sweet potato and saute for about two minutes, then add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for about 7 or 8 minutes until just tender.  Then add the zucchini and greens and put the lid back on simmering until all veggies are tender - about 15 minutes at most (keep checking).  Yummy!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This is the Off Off Off Broadway version of Chicago...


Five Things....

I tagged myself from Cindy's Blog and am now finally getting around to doing it....my first meme, so here goes:


1. Five things under $10 that I cannot live without:

1. Sabra Hummus


I know that it's easy so to make - but this stuff is just fabulous. It's not economical because it only lasts a couple of days in my house!

2. Alianca Vinho Verde


A Portugese white wine that is great with grilled fish and veggies in the summer - I fell in love with Vinho Verde a few summers ago in Lisbon and it's the greatest deal in the liquor store/wine shop

3. Carmex


Yes, there are tons of urban myths that Carmex is addictive, there are mad Carmex junkies prowling the streets and sharing their stash like a joint (Don't Bogart that Carmex!) - yes, I'm addicted, but because it's the only thing that works for me and keeps me from getting those old lady lines around my mouth that start creeping in in your forties.

4.  Lush Bath Bombs


Specifically, Lush GeoFizz, your skin feels incredible after a good soak.  I hate my bathtub, it's not deep enough and the back is straight up and down (I swear it was made by Calvinists) yet after a soak with GeoFizz, I feel remarkably charitable towards it.

5. Vanity Fair magazine - couple that with a GeoFizz and a glass of white wine and all is good with the world.


2. Five girls names I did not use

1. Hannah

2. Zoe

3. Lucy

4. Lily

5. Jane



3. Five Boys names I did not use

1. Noah (my grandfather - R would have been Noah if she was a boy)

2. Patrick

3. Neil

4. Simon

5. Edward

4. Five favorite movies

1. Casablanca

2. Love Actually

3. Betrayal

4. Ran

5. An American in Paris

5. Five songs I can listen to over and over

1. All My Tomorrows

2. I've Got A Crush On You

3. Nature Boy

4. It's Not Over

5. Son of a Preacher Man

6. Five things always in my purse

1. Wallet

2. Carmex

3. Blackberry

4. Kleenex

5. Receipts

7. Five current obsessions

1. The environment/farmer's markets

2. Yoga

3. Finding good places to day hike and finding a pair of hiking boots I actually like

4. Moving to Seattle or Mt Airy (big difference, huh?)

5. Fixing my drive (golf)

8. Five favorite places I've been (I added this one)

1. Italy (Specifically, Rome and Venice)

2. London

3. France - all of it

4. Sonoma Valley (Liked Napa too, but found it more commercial than Sonoma)

5. Grand Canyon - the bottom

9. Five places I'd like to go

1. Patagonia

2. Japan

3. Australia

4. Greece

5. Train trip across Canada/Orient Express

Monday, May 12, 2008

Everyone Deals With a Monday in Their Own Way

I awoke this morning still feeling the affects of the brick o'prime rib in my belly.  I was sluggish and cranky because it also affected how I slept last night - bizarre dreams and waking up hourly.  I trudged down the stairs to find this.....

Picture 005

I think it was a cross between interpretive dance and bitchin' air guitar.  Once Son saw the flash of the camera, this is was the next move:

Picture 006

My youngest, R - aka surly teenager, was at my heels. Here's how she looks on a Monday:

Picture 016

She looks soooo happy, doesn't she?

There was NO way I was going to turn the camera on myself - no need to scare the little kiddies that might be poking over your shoulder.    This is how I dealt with my Monday morning:

Picture 007

Sunrise/Sunset Detox Juice

4 spears of pineapple

1/2 orange peeled (pith can remain)

4 large strawberries

small bunch of grapes pulled from their stems

Picture 014

Put all the ingredients through the juicer and enjoy......

1/2 hour of yoga (the picture taking caused me to run late)....


I feel better already!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dinner Postscript......

The prime rib was the first meat that I'd had in a week. After a week of vegetable protein or lean fish, this red meat was an absolute assault on the system.  I think I crossed a line here....the thought of eating it again is nauseating.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day.....

I got to sleep until 10:30 - well, my son did wake me up at 7 to give me my cards and a CD that I'd been wanting - then he told me to go back to sleep. 

I woke up and Matt and I hoofed it to Philly to go to Headhouse Square to the farmer's market where we picked up green garlic, baby radishes (so sweet!), baby leeks and herb plants for our container garden.  Then we headed over to South Street to wander about. 

South Street is a famous/infamous street that is at the foot of Headhouse.  It's a mix of gutter punk, old hippy and high street that is a little different than most areas in Philly.  The stores range from Garland of Letters, which is a metaphysical bookstore, to Condom Kingdom, to vegetarian restaurants to art galleries to bars such as Copa Banana to trash garb emporiums.  Imagine a place where this has a place of prominence:


Larry Fine mural over Jon's Bar & Grille.  Or the art that leads you to a pizza shop:


(Philly is known for their murals - there are dozens of them all over the city)

Anyway Matt and I enjoyed our stroll and shopping trip - we picked up some books at Garland of Letters, a game at Game Stop and a couple of hat at House of Lids, then we headed home so that I could finish potting up the tomato plants that my colleague Peter gave me and to plant our herbs and pepper plants. 


I also got to play with my latest gadgets (well, one's new, the other I dug out of the closet - new in box , but bought a while ago. 


Gadget #1 - The Breville Ikon juicer.  Back in the late 70s, early 80s, my sister's old roommate was into juicing big time.  She had an Acme juicer that was an instrument of torture to put together and to clean, but the juice was great.  I've been wanting to get back to it for some time now, so when the "bump the economy" check came in, I figured, why not?  I knew that I wanted something easier to deal with than the Acme, so I did my research and decided upon the Breville. I have other Breville products and have had good luck with them - they had the least moving parts and the most metal. When I unpacked it, it is way bigger than I realized.  It is a snap to put together and within a couple of minutes, I was enjoying wonderful fresh carrot M.


I also made scrumptious pineapple/mango juice - I think I may use that one again with some vodka tonight!  Up next, carrot, celery and beet juice. 


The other thing gadget is my yogurt maker.   I received it as a gift a year or so ago (after reading French Women Don't Get Fat).  I never used it - no time.  I love yogurt, specifically I love Greek yogurt - but at 2 bucks a container - plastic containers no less - I decided it was time to take it out. 



I just made my first batch - I over estimated the milk/starter ratio, so it came out a little thin, but the flavor is wonderful!  I will photograph my next batch.


Finally, we made prime rib for dinner (my mom's favorite dinner and yes, I had a little, but am already regretting it) with green beans (sauteed with the green garlic) salad and oven roasted potatoes. Hope everyone out there has had a wonderful Mother's day!)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Vegetarian Recipe

I was a vegetarian years ago.  I added meat back in during my relationship with my ex-husband, who thought tofu was the work of the devil.  I rediscovered my affection for a good NY strip or a leg of lamb, but lately, this affection has begun to dim.  I don't know if getting older makes meat harder to digest, or the videos of horrors at the stockyards got to me, but I began to look to rely less on meat to be a large part of my meals.  My kids are avowed carnivores, so I still have to make the stuff, but I'm not eating as much of it. Maybe it is the produce box that comes each week that makes me look for more varied ways of using vegetables, maybe it's the notice that I'm taking of my health these days, but I just feel better with less focus on meat.  


I've kept my old stand by cookbooks from my veg only days, Moosewood Cookbook, Field of Greens, etc.. and recently I've picked up some new ones to make more varied dishes.  Now on my shelf:


This one has some great recipes that I've tried and will be sharing in upcoming posts.   I also picked up this one.  An updated version of my old standby, I have fallen back in love with the folky writing and the pragmatic take on the recipes.:


These are great and they serve as a wonderful foundation to make and create different recipes.  The muse was spurring me on and I decided to take what I learned and created my own recipe:


Quinoa Stuffed Peppers with Faux Mole Sauce (pretty pretentious title, huh???)

4 large bell peppers (I used red and yellow bell peppers - I'm no fan of green bells)

1 cup quinoa (a wonderful grain that is chock full of protein)

1 1/2 cups black lentils (I used 3/4 package of Trader Joe's precooked black lentils)

1/2 block of firm tofu

1/4 poblano chile , finely diced

1 large shallot, chopped fine.

2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

2 T. chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp. chile powder

Salt and pepper to taste.


I made the quinoa in my rice maker, so I could cook it while I worked at home. I use the rice maker for everything from oatmeal, to grains to rice. It's a wonder machine.  Then I combined the quinoa, lentils, shallot, garlic, cilantro and poblano chile.  I also chopped up the lids of the peppers and added them, too.

Picture 022


While I was mixing and chopping, I drained the tofu by wrapping it in a kitchen towel and placing a heavy pot with water in it on top to press it:


Picture 021


After the 20 minutes, the tofu was pretty much drained, so I crumbled it into the mix:

Picture 023


I stuffed the peppers and put them into a baking dish.  Next comes to the faux mole:

1 15 ounce can of no salt diced tomatoes with juice

1/2 small onion, grated

1 tsp of cumin

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp poblano chile diced fine

1 tsp chile powder

3 T. Trader Joe's European sipping chocolate powder (if you don't have that, use 3 T of powdered cocoa and 1-2 tsp sugar)

Whisk the ingredients together and pour over peppers. 


Picture 024

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then sprinkle shredded mexican cheese blend over the peppers and bake until browned, melted and bubbly. 


I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, it smelled soooo good, we dug right in!  I took a small pepper to work today for lunch and it was even better! 

Does anyone have any vegetarian recipes they love? I would love to see them!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Weekend Away......

I've just returned from a weekend away with two of my besties, Em and LF.  We went to LF's family vacation home in Sandbridge Va. Beach.  It's a block from the beach and a lovely, roomy place:





We got there Wednesday night. After a beer and a snack, we all crashed and got up early the next morning to a walk on the beach and some yoga. The weather was beautiful, and we quickly took advantage of the sunshine to play golf.  We hightailed it over to Heron Ridge and prepared to check in.....except that we didn't have a tee time.  We were due to play there Friday, not Thursday and we didn't have a calendar to verify (damn us for having the temerity of leaving our Blackberries at the house!).  So off we ran to the course we were supposed to be playing - Signature at West Neck..


My outfit for the day:




It's an Arnold Palmer Course that is tough and beautiful and utterly frustrating. The homes surrounding the course are gorgeous, and it was a perfect day.  We ended it up with Prime Rib and martini night at Club Tiki (don't we sound like guys???). 

Friday, we went back to Heron Ridge and actually got to play it.



My golf outfit







The beige one.


And for apres golf:


ok, they don't exactly match, but I love them....


I crapped out on the 14th hole and rode along to the 19th hole for a beer.  We picked up salmon and fresh veggies to grill back at the house.  LF's dad and his partner were there, so we made dinner for all and consumed some lovely wine and bourbon.  Dad was charming and funny and obviously LOVED all of the female attention ;-)

Needless to say, Saturday was a lazy day.  We took a walk down and sat at the beach for a while, then watched the Kentucky Derby.  I had a horrible feeling waiting for the race to start that something would happen. It was not a great race, and my heart sank as I saw the image of Eight Belles down on the track.  I love the beauty of horse racing, but the danger to the horses is just awful. 

Sunday was back to the house and departure.  It was a lovely weekend, relaxing and much needed.  Thanks LF and MS!