• Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    smoothies in every color

    smoothie
    I’ve become rather smoothie-obsessed of late.

    Maybe I just really need the extra vitamins or something but I have been making smoothies out of almost anything I can get my hands on this winter.

    I started out with the usual line-up of ingredients: orange juice, strawberries, bananas, maybe some yogurt or a kiwi.

    But when I tired of that and started trolling Pinterest for new ideas, the same thing kept popping up: green smoothies, usually made with raw spinach or even kale.

    I was deeply skeptical of the idea of  raw kale smoothie — particularly as many of these recipes came from the kind of blogs which would also try to convince you that nutritional yeast is just as delicious as cheese.

    Which, you know, come on.

    At any rate, it was my own kid who (upon hearing my scoffing at such a smoothie recipe) remarked that a kale smoothie actually sounded pretty good to her and that was all the encouragement I needed.

    We bought a bag of washed and chopped kale and put a couple handfuls into the blender with strawberries and orange juice, and it was…delicious.

    Like, actually genuinely delicious, to the point that I texted my husband at work to tell him about it. (His reply: “huh okay i guess”)

    There’s not much of a recipe to be had here, though. Basically, I just try to put in just enough sweet ingredients to balance out the kale. And the kale will look like a TON when you put it into the blender but it will blend down into a fraction of what was there.

    Here are some ideas to get you started:

    • 2 kiwis + about a cup of orange juice + 3-4 handfuls of raw kale
    • about 1.5 cups frozen strawberries + OJ + kale
    • a sweet juice blend (like R.W. Knudsen’s Mega Green) + a handful of ice cubes + kale
  • Being Frugal,  Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    Sooo many jam puns to make.

    All of them along the lines of: aw yeah, this is my jam… 

    But it is!

    Making jam has been on my list of things I’ve been meaning to try for a long time now, so when I came home with about 4-5 pounds of Italian plums, I figured there was no time like the present.

    Ordinarily, jams need pectin in order to be more like jelly and less like, well, hot fruity goo. Plums (and apples) are naturally high in pectin so no need to go to several different stores looking for pectin only to come up empty-handed, and yes, I’m looking at you, local Target that sells canning supplies but not pectin.

    As it turns out, making jam is ridiculously easy. People should stop saying “easy as pie” because pie crust is a bitch to make and everyone should start saying “easy as jam” instead.  Because that’s how easy it is.

    Way-easier-than-pie plum freezer jam

    Combine 4 cups plums (skinned, pitted, and chopped) with 2 cups sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Bring to a slow boil and let cook for 25-30 minutes, skimming off any foam that appears. After 25 minutes, start testing the jam to see if it’s set. (I use the plate-in-the-freezer method.) I did not process this in a water-bath to be shelf stable; I just put it in jars and put one in the fridge (will last for 3-4 weeks) and another in the freezer (will last for several months assuming you don’t eat it way before then).

  • Being Frugal,  Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    DIY Muesli

    My kid loves muesli.

    No, you read that right: my kid loves muesli.

    “I don’t know,” she says. “I just like it.”

    That’s all well and good but damn, a serious muesli habit can be expensive.  Our local supermarket sells it for $5.79/pound — and that’s the cheapest one they have.

    Muesli is so simple to make… provided you can find its ingredients. In my case, I already had rolled oats but I could not find any other flaked/rolled grain nearby.

    Fortunately, my supermarket carries a small selection of Bob’s Red Mill products, where I found their 5-Grain Rolled Cereal (rolled whole wheat, rye, oats, flaxseed, barley, and triticale).

    What you see on the right is:

    a 16-ounce package of 5-Grain Rolled Cereal
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/2 cup date pieces
    2T flax seeds

    The next time I make a batch, I’ll get the exact weight of the finished product, but I’m pretty sure this comes in under $3/pound.

    I think I might make it with almonds or maybe sunflower seeds next time, just to boost its protein content a little, but you could feel free to add… well, anything you like: brown sugar, other dried fruits, different seeds, whatever!

  • Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    A squishy green miracle.

    Avocado has long been my food texture nemesis… squishy, fatty, ooky, blech.

    BUT.

    Back in April, my Master Composter class got together to make a lasagna-style compost bed at a local community garden and a bunch of my classmates brought food for lunch. So, as I was loading a plate with pasta salad and cookies and whatever else, I saw someone had brought guacamole and, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, I scooped some onto my plate.

    I took a bite (hoping not to visibly grimace) and… it was good. Like, really good. So good, I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before: I asked my classmate for her recipe. I’ve made it twice already in the past month and I kinda already want to make it again. Like right now.

    What follows is the recipe my compost classmate Lucy generously shared with me (with a few additional suggestions by me):

    Lucy’s Guacamole
    Combine the following:
    – 5 avocados
    – 1/4 red onion
    – 3tbs of fresh cilantro
    – 1 plum tomato 
    – fresh juice of 1 lime (some one told me their secret was extra lime juice, so I put a whole bunch)
    – Himalayan Pink salt (sea salt is fine)
    – fresh ground pepper

    My version
    I use four avocados, because the local market sells bundles of 4 for cheaper than buying them individually and I use two plum tomatoes because I really like the tomatoes in it.  Depending on how juicy the limes are, I sometimes end up needing two instead. Oh, and about a half-teaspoon of cumin in this is good too but then again, I like cumin in almost anything. True facts. 

  • Life in Maison Gezellig,  Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    Quick, yes. Inspiring, no.

    Poor little blog: you really get the short end of the stick, don’t you?

    What with trying to launch more freelance work, homeschooling my kid, and all the community gardening stuff (e.g. a huge opening day party to plan for next month), dinner has strictly been of the hurry-up-make-food-go-in-mouth-now-and-then-watch-Community variety — which is fine but not of much interest to anyone beyond those actually getting fed.

    So, what you’re looking at above are two beloved (if not very attractive) meals I’ve made this week.

    First up, pictured on the right, is something I look forward to making every year: corned beef fried rice, based on this recipe. Before making a traditional corned-beef-and-cabbage dinner for St. Patrick’s Day, I pick up an extra head of cabbage as well as a huge corned beef (which is always on sale that week) and then use the leftover corned beef (rather than the canned stuff) and the extra cabbage to make the fried rice. Depending on how salty your corned beef was you may want to skip the soy sauce in the original recipe in favor of rice vinegar, too.

    And on the left… a tostada with refried beans. I admit, I am somewhat in love with tostadas of late. They’re like huge unsalted tortilla chips and everything tastes better on them. I am also unequivocally in love with the salad you see perched on top of that tostada, which comes courtesy of Elise at SimplyRecipes.com, and consists of the following: shred half a head of iceberg lettuce and dress it only with vinegar and salt. Seriously. That’s it.

    You can be a lettuce snob and try a different lettuce if you want (in fact, that’s actually romaine in my photo) but take my word: it will not be as good. The cool, watery crunch of iceberg is the perfect counterbalance to earthy beans or the umami of ground beef on a tostada.

  • Being Frugal,  Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    Gigantes Plaki (and the Food Blogger’s Lament)

    It is a constant struggle for food bloggers to take appealing photos of food. In my five-plus years doing this, I’ve deleted innumerable photos of food that tasted amazing but photographed horribly.

    This is one of those times.

    Fortunately for me (and you!), Wikimedia Commons had a photo of this Greek tomato-and-bean dish which means I can now share one of the best recipes I’ve tried in ages.

  • Being Frugal,  Recipes,  Vegetarian Recipes

    Best. Banana cake. Ever.

    best banana cake ever

    Bananas don’t last long in our house. The bowl of fruit is just steps away from the front door, and it seems like I’m always saying “take a banana with you! we need to go now! here! eat this on the way!”

    But occasionally, a banana will get too ripe before we can eat it, at which point I peel it and freeze it, assuming I will use it at some point in the future. (Okay, so… sometimes I just find the frozen bananas at the back of freezer, have no idea how old they are, and chuck them, but I do usually use them. Eventually.)

    Yesterday, there were actually two bananas in the fruit bowl that were headed for the freezer — and with another two bananas there already, it seemed like a perfect time for a banana cake. This theory was immediately borne out by the fact that the entire cake disappeared within 24 hours.

    This cake is really that good: somewhat lighter and less sweet than a banana bread, but with big chunks of melty chocolate. You could probably even skip the chocolate if you don’t have any on hand and it would still be a lovely cake.

    The recipe is based on the already excellent UBC Cake posed over on Everybody Likes Sandwiches:

    3 or 4 very ripe bananas
    2 eggs
    1.5 c. flour (I used a mix of all purpose and whole wheat)
    1 c. sugar
    1 tsp. baking soda
    2 tsp. vanilla
    1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
    1 c. chocolate chunks

    Mash bananas and mix in eggs. Add vanilla. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon in a separate bowl, then add dry ingredients to banana mix. Mix well then fold in chocolate chunks. Pour batter into a buttered cake pan. (I used an 11″ x 7″ pan, but you could also use an 8″ or 9″ square pan.) Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.