Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Coconut Curry Soup

Last summer I moved from eating any old meat in moderation to eating mostly wild game and pastured meat only sparingly.  Without knowing, that is when I wrote my Vegetarian-ish Teaser.  Flavors abound in fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, while grains and beans add bulk to meals and give us sustained energy.  Through these past 6 months I have made lots of changes that all happened little by little.  It takes some creativity and a good resolve, but eating meat sparingly is O so doable.

Traditional American fare has become a plate of separates; large portion of meat with a starch and sometimes a small amount of vegetables.  When I eat American now, I just reverse the sequence with a large portion of veggies with a starch and sometimes a small amount of meat.  Simple.  It took my husband a little bit to accept this approach, his plate doesn’t always have the same proportions, but he is learning that a meal does not have to be centered around a large portion of meat to be satisfying.

This concept is a whole lot easier when we make more casseroles and soups because using less meat is not quite as noticeable.  This soup is meatless, though could very well have meat added for beginners.  The use of real chicken stock gives great flavor and lots of nutrition

Lemon grass is one of my favorite herbs.  It is hard to find so I am trying to grow my own.  Look at Asian Food Markets, the dried pieces from the grocery store is not the same.  I have also used 2 drops of lemon grass essential oil in a tablespoon of coconut milk added at the end of cooking with good results. 

I got the idea for this soup from Wildflower Bread Company.  Sadly, it is not on their regular weekly rotation.  With so much flavor,  a nice creamy smooth texture and small, soft bits for added interest, who could miss the meat? 

One 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer portion removed tender portion only, chopped very fine
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 onion, finely minced
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder
16 ounces tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
3 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste or cayenne to taste
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

In a large pot, combine coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger and lime zest, simmer for 10 minutes.  In a separate pan, sauté onions in coconut oil until soft.  Add garlic, then remove from heat.  Puree onions and garlic with curry powder, chicken stock and tomato sauce.  Add blended mixture, salt, carrots, celery, tomatoes and red pepper to simmering coconut milk, stir to combine.  Simmer until vegetables are tender, 8 minutes or pressure on high for one minute.  Stir in curry paste, lime juice, cilantro and serve.

links; Whole Foods for the Holiday's

Monday, January 25, 2010

Slow Food Tips

I had a great time with the ladies who attended class last week. We had a lot of great discussion on what we can do to improve our relationships with food. To summarize, here are 8 tips:
  1. Grow/raise your own food.
  2. Buy your groceries from a farmer.
  3. Spend more on food and less on health care.
  4. Get your household involved in meal preparation.
  5. Take longer to eat less.
  6. Talk between bites.
  7. Pay attention to when you are no longer hungry and don't wait until you feel full.
  8. Most importantly cook from scratch, no matter what you make, you will be better off than heating up premade food.  Cooking from scratch repairs the broken relationship we have with food.  If you start with whole foods, all you have to think about is preparing them into a meal, not if they are healthy or not.  No guilt.
Michael Pollan said it best in his book In Defense of Food “In order to eat well we need to invest more time, effort and resources in providing for our sustenance, to dust off a word, than most of us do today.”

For a complete list of classes click HERE.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Creamy Vegetable-Chicken Soup

THIS is what I mean by slow food.

Onions, carrots, celery, garlic and parsley are all things you can get in season right now.  I can buy them all from local farmers who use organic farming practices.

Nutrient dense, homemade chicken stock simmered with real vegetables and contains real chicken flavors without the chicken.  Nothing beats that delicious, lip smacking gelatin from a true bone broth.

Homemade noodles add such an amazing effect.  Here is a recipe for those so inclined.  If you are not up to making homemade noodles yet, soak some barley the day before and use that instead.  Barley is just as nourishing, but homemade noodles are so lovely.  The third option being brown rice pasta as brown rice is lower in phytates than other whole grains.

For kefir cream, just culture real cream with milk kefir grains and strain for a nice, thick, rich soured cream.  We love cream around here, fresh whipped cream makes anything a treat.  It is hard to find raw cream in my area.  The dairy where I get my raw milk does not have a real cream separator, so it is not pure cream and does not whip up.  I use Trader Joes brand, which is one of the only ones around that doesn’t ultra pasteurized and doesn’t add extra -- stuff.  Read the label, it should just be pure cream.

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups chopped carrots
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups noodles or soaked barley
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup kefir cream (or sour cream)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Sautee onion, carrots and celery in butter until softened.  Add garlic, salt pepper and stock.  Simmer gently for 20 minutes.  Add noodles and peas, simmer 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir a small amount of stock into kefir cream to loosen up and add cream to soup, add parsley and serve.  Don’t rush through, take your time and enjoy.

For more slow food recipes, check these out:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Slow Food Teaser

Slow food is the opposite of fast food, you don’t eat it on the run, in your car or in front of the TV.  It doesn’t come in a box with cooking instructions, nutrition labels or health claims.  And it is certainly not “enriched,” enhanced with “natural favors” or “reduced fat.”  It is food that you build a relationship with and then enjoy to the max in the end because it is more than just fuel, it is nourishment.

In our house the word “homemade” is used with high regard.  My four year old calls anything from our garden “homemade” and recognizes it as high value food.  For New Years Day breakfast I made homemade doughnuts and the kids were beside themselves with excitement that such a food could be made in our home.  How often would you eat doughnuts if every time you had to make the dough, roll them out, cut them, rise them, fry them, toss them in sugar and clean up?  Doughnuts are special occasion food, not everyday fair that is popped out by a machine by the thousands every day.  Picture the conference room of people who nibble bites thoughtlessly while shuffling papers and jotting down notes from the mid morning meeting, there is no joy in that.

Give “homemade” the reverence it deserves, it is an honor to prepare a meal from food that is fresh, raised with pure intent in your own community.  It is appreciated far past the time the last bite is swallowed…when you don’t get the flu aren’t prescribed blood pressure medicine and when you won’t die a miserable death from cancer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Be Inspired to Cook

The new year is in full swing and it is the perfect time to work towards your goals.  With that, I am kicking off my first six weeks of cooking classes.  They will be held at my home in East Mesa.  Contact me via email (karabagley(at)gmail(dot)com to register.  No pre-payment required.  No children please.

These classes are directed towards a broad audience as the recipes and instruction are adaptable to the variable levels of budgets, time and health.  They are also largely accommodating to those in attendance through discussion.  Come, have fun, eat good food and be inspired to cook.

Slow Food
Stepping away from fast, cheap, in a box, with a health claim.
Friday, January 22 from 11 to 12 pm
$10 per person

Meat’s role as a condiment.
Friday, January 29 from 11 to 12 pm
$10 per person

Soaking 101
How to make it happen in your kitchen.
Friday, February 5 from 11 to 12 pm
$10 per person

All About Greens
Learn how to dress all your leafy salads.
Friday, February 12 from 11 to 12 pm
$15 per person

Homemade Tortillas
Because nothing compares.
Friday, February 19 from 11 to 12 pm
$15 per person

Get Cultured
The basics of kefir, yogurt and sourdough.
Friday, February 26 from 11 to 12 pm
$15 per person

this post is part of Real Food Wednesday.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cooking Chart

Per many a request I have put together a quick reference cooking chart for grains and beans. The water ratios are for cooking, unsoaked at a gentle simmer on the stovetop, harder boil = more water. When grains and beans are soaked for 12-24 hours, half the water listed is used for soaking and the other half for cooking.  When pressure cooking reduce the water ¼ cup (per cup of grain) for both soaked and unsoaked. The times listed for pressure cooking are from the time the pressure builds up to high to the time the heat is turned off and reflect that of natural release in an insulated pot. If you are using a traditional stove top pressure cooker you may find you need to add a minute or two.

Although it is great for my stats and makes me feel like I am changing the world when you come to check back again and again, I would suggest printing this chart and keeping it in a handy place in your kitchen.

Grain: Water (unsoaked)
Cook Time (Minutes)
Pressure Cooker
Buckwheat, Hulled
Rice, Brown

Small (black, adzuki, anasazi)
1.5/3 hours
Medium (pinto, pink, cranberry)
2/4 hours
Large (lima, cannelloni, kidney)
2.5/5 hours
Extra large (scarlet runner, mortage lifter, fava)
3/6 hours

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Ever since my beloved Pasta Pomodoro shut down in Mesa, I have been searching for a recipe that replicates the unbelievable flavor of their butternut squash ravioli. It was kinda like a, fall-flavored sugar cookie if you can imagine that! Mmmm. One thing I learned when experimenting with homemade ravioli is that it ain’t easy. The dough, the filling, the assembly, then the boiling and finally the sauce. There was too much to go wrong. I usually ended up with a pot of boiling orange water and floating squares of pasta, a huge mess to clean up and only a few prized ravioli that held together.

So on to gnocchi; it is a dense dumpling type pasta, typically made with only potatoes and flour. I really found it quite enjoyable to make and although mine didn’t come out looking so hot, they tasted delectable. The whole grain sprouted flour takes away from the brilliant orange of the squash leaving you with more of a brownish gnocchi, but that was all made up for in taste.

I consider this pasta super healthy if paired with the right sauce. Many people think that means low fat, but fat is just what this pasta needs. An unhealthy sauce in my book is one that starts with a stick of margarine, fat free “cream”, or a can of Campbell’s Soup. I like a brown butter crispy sage sauce or a really thin white sauce made with real cream and a strong cheese. I wouldn’t recommend marinara for this flavor combination.

butternut squash (3 lbs)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
5 cups sprouted flour

Cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds and roast at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. Let cool and puree in blender or food processor. Spread evenly on two half-sheet pans and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to mixing bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper, add almond extract if desired and mix in the flour with dough hook for 3 minutes. The dough should be very tender and smooth and slightly sticky. Divide into 12 pieces, using extra flour roll each portion of dough into a ½-inch thick snake. Using a dough scraper, cut the snake into ½-inch pieces. Continue rolling and cutting with each piece, as you work, arrange the gnocchi in a single layer on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Let dry for up to 2 hours. Freeze flat and transfer to a container or bag once frozen, keeps in freezer for 3 months.

To cook gnocchi, boil a large pot of water, add gnocchi (frozen is fine). Continue to cook until they float to the surface. in 2 or 3 batches in a large pot of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they float to the surface of the water. Toss in a simple sauce and top with parmesan cheese.

This post is part of Real Food WednesdaysWhole Foods for the Holiday's

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fits Like a Glove

Don't you love it when someone knows you so well that they hold a special place in your kitchen? Me too.  This poster was a special Christmas gift from my SIL's.
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