Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Edamame wasabi rice stew

This was today's lunch (yesterday's dinner). Seattle spring has been quite drizzly and chilly so far. I was a homebody hard at work on our book yesterday, so I made this hearty soup with a zing out of ingredients I already had in the house. It felt a little like stone soup, but tasted great.

4 cloves of garlic
and half a red onion, diced fine
got sauteed in a splash of sesame oil to start this one off.

Then I added thin slices of 4 crimini mushrooms, halved.

I added 4 cups of water,
a dried morel mushroom I found kicking around in my pantry (chopped up into little pieces).

Once that came to a boil, I added all the leftover
white and brown rice we had from takeout (about one cup) and kept boiling for about 5 minutes. I turned down to low heat.

Then I added
the soy sauce from two little packets
that came with our takeout the other night, plus a dash more salt.

Tossed in approximately
15 snow peas
sliced so they looked almost like green onion rounds if you squint.

To finish it up, after the rice was all soft and the broth looked thick and milky, I turned off the heat and added
1 tsp of wasabi powder and
1 cup of frozen edamame (not the in-the-pod kind!!).

Stirred it around, let those edamame cook.

Before I ladled into out, I put a few pieces of dried nori (the kind I bought euphemistcally calls itself "sea vegetable"-- which I guess seaweed is, but...) in the bottom of each bowl.

We had it with a spinach salad and from-the-freezer vegetarian gyoza for a big, satisfying dinner.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Covert Affair by Jennet Conant

I've been remiss in posting about what I've been reading. I've been busy getting the site set up for the book I'm writing with Linda Lewis Keeney, One Brave Thing a Day. (Shameless plug, I know, but I'm full of arugula!)

Here's to getting back on track with updating my current reads, though. A few days ago I finished the advance copy of the latest history by Jennet Conant (The Irregulars)-- A Covert Affair: The Adventures of Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS.

It was a great read. How could I not love a book that quotes this letter from Julia to Paul when he was being investigated by the HUAC?

"You are finer, better, more lovable, more attractive, deeper, nicer, nobler, cleverer, stronger, and more wonderful [than other men]... I am so damned lucky even to know you, much less (or more) to be married to you." (pp 20-1)

Conant does a great job of revealing bits about these now-familiar dears. What the title doesn't adequately convey is that the Childs are only about 1/3 of the book, though. The other 2/3 are dedicated to their OSS colleagues and their adventures in the Pacific during and after WWII and the horrors of McCarthyism after the war.

This was a fun-to-read history that taught me loads about the OSS, the politics in the Pacific Theater, and the Red Scare.

Buckwheat noodles with lentils, mushrooms, and arugula

That was lunch. Leftovers from dinner. I tasted better than it looks, I think, but I have decided to try to include photos whenever possible, just to give an idea of the end result.

This was a triumph. Again, Jordy declared it "one of my favorite vegan dishes." (But then as he said today at breakfast, "Anytime you want to cook, I want to eat." I think that's more a statement of his support and appreciation than proof that he doesn't love good food, though.)

If I had been smart, I would have started by cooking the lentils. Instead, I microwaved them vite! vite! in the microwave partway through the preparation of the sauce since I hadn't thought to include them until then.

Be wiser than me.

Start with a cup of lentils. Boil according to directions. (I like them best cooked on the stove in an actual pot, not boiled over in the microwave, but if you need to, microwaving in a pinch works in about 5 minutes.)

I started with/ you can move on to sauteeing

garlic, chopped (about 5 cloves) in olive oil with
3 shallots, chopped

Then I added
10 crimini mushrooms, sliced fine and cooked until they were soft.

Threw in
a handful of chopped pecans
a dash of oregano
a pinch of rosemary
a dash of salt and pepper.

Then I boiled up buckwheat soba noodles. I usually use these in Asian-inspired meals, but I thought, "Why the heck not?" Mine cooked in 6 minutes.

the juice from two wedges of lemon into your sauce.

Toss three handfuls of arugula into the sauce. Stir. Turn off heat. Stir a little more.

Then stir the buckwheat noodles and the sauce together. Ta-da! Done.

Today proved it also works well microwaved the next day. Toss in some more fresh arugula on day 2 if you have it; greens are good for you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Moroccan lentil stew (aka yuppie hobo stew)

Moroccan lentil stew for St. Patrick's Day sounds very wrong, but it actually goes well with Guinness...

Moroccan lentil stew (aka yuppie hobo stew)
a splash of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 small potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, cut in rounds
about 5 cups of water
1 can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
one cup of crimson lentils
cumin (about four hearty shakes)
cinnamon (one little shake)
ground cloves (a teensy shake)
one dried bay leaf

Sautee the onion and garlic over low heat. Then add the the potatoes, carrots, and water. Bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and simmer for at least 20 minutes over low heat. Then add the lentils and spices. Let simmer for as long as you want-- the longer you simmer, the heartier your stew.

This recipe was inspired by a customer who came in looking for simple recipes. He said, "I want a cookbook that tells me how to make a goulash. Or a hobo stew. That's all I want." I couldn't find that on my shelves, but I did write out this recipe but simpler for him to try at home--using plain canned tomatoes, no cinnamon, not even any cumin, just salt and pepper, and chopped celery at the water stage to add some flavor. (I had to explain what lentils were. I showed him a photo online and explained that they're small and flat, "about the size of my little pinkie nail." Mr. Hobo Stew thought this was one of the funniest things he'd heard all day.)

So here is my yuppie hobo stew! I don't really know what a hobo stew is, but I figure it has to be cheap and simple, it has to stick to the ribs, it is cooked all in one pot, and it must be easy to eat even without teeth, since hobos don't get to brush, floss, or see the dentist regularly.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kale soup

Here's a warming recipe to get you through to spring...

garlic (5 cloves, chopped)
onions (1, chopped)
mushrooms (I used about 8 crimini, chopped)
carrot (I used a half, cut into a rounds)
black-eyed peas (I soaked a 1/3 cup overnight)
kale (1 bunch, pulled into leeetle pieces)
peas (about 1/3 cup frozen)
2 small red potatoes, chopped into hunks
fennel seed (1/4 tsp)
6 cloves
3 bay leaves
salt & pepper

The key to this soup was the long simmer. I sauteed the garlic, onions, and mushrooms. Then I added the soaked black-eyed peas and enough water to cover them by about two inches. Then I simmered for about 2 hours. I added the kale, carrot, potato, fennel seed, cloves, bay leaves, and salt, then simmered for another hour. I added the peas and the pepper during the last half hour.

Jordy said this soup reminded him of one he had in the South of France called "boiled water." I was trying to do a vegan version of the Portuguese chorizo and kale soup they served at a diner in Rhode Island, but I guess that was a stretch.

This was a great recipe for replenishing after a stomach bug. It goes very well with Saltines.

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

If you're a fan of "Miller's Crossing" and liked "The Brothers Bloom," you must read the latest Thomas Mullen novel, out recently in paperback.
The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers is a very entertaining 1930s gangster book with an alluring element of magical realism.
I picked this up on total impulse, despite my HUUUUUGGGGE pile of things I had to read, and I have zero regrets.
Carpe diem! I encourage you to read your next book just because... It's very liberating and satisfying, kind of like playing hooky to go do something really educational.