Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The breakfast of Swiss champions

So I'm not Swiss.

And I'm not a champion of anything.

But Muesli is a staple that is quick, easy to fix, requires no cooking, and tastes so delicious that it's hard to beat.

Ingredients for the base: 
1/2 dried fruit, seeds, and nuts
1/2 rolled grains 
Add your own small grains or supplements,  like wheat grass powder, "horse yeast' (whatever it is that my dad buys), chia seeds, etc.

Mix the base with equal parts of fresh, chopped fruit. Wet to a consistency you like, using milk, juice, tea, and/or yogurt... stir and yum. 

My own morning feast came together like this: toss a few handfuls of rolled oats, rye, barley, and tricale into a big mixing bowl.

Add raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raw almonds, raw sunflower seeds, chia seeds, dried raw coconut, dried cherries..

Put everything in a big mixing bowl, and choose a plate. This morning, it was an oldie but goodie we bought in Chinatown while living in Vancouver 25 years ago.

Mix, then put 1/2-1 c. of muesli mix into a cereal bowl with chopped fresh fruit (an apple from our own trees). Trust me, you don't need much of the mix: it expands and provides a lot of nutrition that will stick with you until lunch!

Then add soy yogurt. (I made my own overnight with live culture peach yogurt from Trader Joes and soy milk from Costco.)

I poured Vita-Mix-ed OJ (Costco orange plus a bit of water) over top, wrung out the teabag over the mix, and oh yum, yum. Breakfast is served.

Rating: 4/5. Depending on additives of fruit and liquids, this can taste different every time.
Taste: crunch, mix of flavors, good blend of sweet (fruit and coconut) and savory (grains and nuts) and sour (juice, yogurt, and dried cherries). Plus it sticks to the ribs: you will be full until lunch.
Time to prepare: 3-5 minutes in the morning. 3 minutes to toss ingredients together, or under a minute if you keep a mix on your countertop; 2 minutes to chop fruit, add juice, milk or yogurt, etc.
Calories: 550: 80 OJ, 350 3/4 c. grains and nuts?; 50 (3 oz yogurt); 70 small apple.
Tea: some plain old floor sweepings disguised in a tea bag (Typhoo?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ask not what asparagus can do for you...

A peek in the fridge shows some Wang's Korean noodles and leftover curry. Yum.

I boil the home-style vermicelli in salted water while the curry reheats. I can't eat brown and beige on a day like today. Even my plate needs a hint of color. I love the pale periwinkle bowl from IKEA.

I find a package of smoked asparagus spears in the freezer door. Oh good! I break the stalks in half and toss them onto the noodles to heat for a minute, then drain the pot.

It looks good enough to eat once I put the noodles, asparagus, and curry side by side.

One of the dogs comes right up to my chair to stare me down for a bite. "Nope, you get dog food, not people food. Sorry, Ziggy." But his face IS adorable!

Rating: 4/5 Curry gets better with reheating, no doubt about it.
Taste: savory, smokey, hearty, wholesome. AND filling, even though I only take half of the "one portion" of noodles.
Time to cook: 5 minutes
Calories: 500: 300 from noodles, 50 from asparagus, 150 from curry
Tea: Jasmine black, from leaves that unfurl in my cup as I walk upstairs to the office to eat.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Biscuits and curry

I pulled out soba noodles. Those are Japanese buckwheat noodles. Nope. Those won't be the right taste. It's raining outside, and my view through the sopping wet window is the boring Leyland cyprus hedge, planted fifteen years ago as two-foot seedlings by a former neighbor who hated us for cutting down 4 trees to build our house. We live in a forest...

Two years ago, the current neighbor trimmed it to fifteen feet to give us a bit of light on the south side of our house. Thanks! (Away it grows again! Scott's revenge continues, though he moved away ten years ago. Sigh.)

I'm hungry for something lighter. Maybe spaghetti? Nope. I even think about popcorn. That's the sort of light grain I'm craving. Ah well, open the cupboard to pull out TJ's Multigrain Baking Mix. Not hungry for pancakes. Coffee cake has too much sugar. Oh wait! A biscuit recipe on the side label as well...

Turn the oven to 425o as I think about it...

I toss in about 2/3 c. of the TJ powder, mix in a few tbsp. dried currents. Sugar? Not this time. Stir in a bit of water and a tsp. of oil. It's a bit wet: I lightly grease one side of a cookie sheet and spread the dough about 3/4" thick. Pop it in the oven to bake.

In the pantry, there's a box of Golden Curry mix with only one cube left over from a trip to Ranch 99 Market. I put the cube and some water to boil on the stove, then turn down the heat. The can that was sitting next to the curry looks like bamboo mushrooms. Yum. Sure. Good with curry, I think.

I open the can and drain it. Oops: it's some kind of vegetarian chop suey, a mix of mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and gluten "meat" in sauce. "Goodbye sauce!" as it drains from the sink. Toss in a Field Roast Vausage? Sure. The curry mixture bubbles while I choose a plain white bowl.

Ting! There's the timer. It's been 10 minutes... so take out the biscuits. I pop them in the bowl. By now the curry is thickening and reducing. Scoop out a few spoonfuls of gravy and "other stuff" and put over the biscuits, taking it to my office for lunch.

Rating: 4/5 Surprisingly hearty and tasty. Delicious, actually!
Flavor: salty and savory. The crumbly biscuit with its pop of currents goes very well with the salty, med. hot curry. Hits the spot as rain pelts down my office window.
Calories: 450: from 300 biscuits; 150 gravy and veat/mushrooms (per serving. 2 servings of curry. Maybe over noodles next time.)
Tea: Mango Black (TJ's tea bag). C'mon. I was in a hurry.
Time: 13 min including time to heat the oven.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Russian repast

I'm hungry for something heavy. Russian or Eastern European, like my grandma used to make. I have kasha (bulgar wheat) in my cupboard. The back of the package has a recipe. "Boil 1 c. Kasha in 2 c. water and a pinch of salt for 15-20 minutes. Makes 4 servings. "

Eeek. I halve the recipe and cover the pot as the kasha boils merrily.

An optional add-on is browning a diced onion in butter and adding cooked bow-tie pasta. Sounds hearty. Well, butter-ish would be better for this vegan. Add 100 calories, just like that! Oooohhh, I remember that I still have pasta cooked last week. Perfect.

After the onions are translucent from being sauteed in the fat on medium heat, I add the pasta. Shall I include some of the Portuguese olives sitting in the fridge? I flip the stones out of ten before I run out of want-to. Toss those in with the pasta. Stir.

Do I have any Eastern European plates? Nope. Maybe one from Mexico will do; it's painted in a homey style with similar colors (Pier 1).

I peek in the pot. Luckily kasha is not finicky about being peered at, as is rice. I uncover the pot for the last three minutes to steam off the remaining water while I steep some Pumpkin Black tea.

After fifteen minutes, the timer goes off. I stir together the grains and pasta mixtures in the saute pan. While it blends a bit, I have time to chop up a bit of cilantro and lettuce.

I like to line a lunch plate with greens: when they're mixed in they add crunch and vitamins, as well as beautiful color.

When I sit down to eat, it's not salty enough. It tastes too bland... and I don't even like much salt. Oh yeah, I remember now. Grandma used to add a lot of salt when cooking grains. I get the salt shaker and sprinkle some on top of the mix.

Rating: 3/5 Good but nothing special. Needs more inventiveness next time around.
Taste: hearty, somewhat bland (as mentioned earlier). If I weren't a vegan, bacon slivers and browning the whole thing in bacon fat would have "fixed" it (and added another 150 – or more – calories).
Calories: 500 per serving (2 servings)
Tea: Pumpkin Black Tea from leaves, not a tea bag.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Simply lunch

There's not much to say. Fantastic Italian pasta (Costco; 3 c. cooked), vausage (Field Roast Italian eggplant vegan sausage), one al dente carrot and one roma tomato chopped and simmered in one can Amy's Golden Lentil soup. Lunch. One serving all gone.

The rest will be supper. YAY.

Rating: 4/5. Delicious. Plain good food in 15 minutes.
Taste: Savory and robust fall flavors, with a bite of spice from the vegan sausage
Calories: 450 each (makes 2 big servings)
Tea: Second infusion of this morning's Chocolate Chai

Simply Saturday

Something baked.

I'm hungry for cake (not good for me), so pancakes sound like they could be a second-best option. First, main ingredients.

Prep the griddle with 1 tbsp oil spread with a paper towel...
Hmmm, it calls for egg. How about egg-ish? And choose a plate from the china cabinet (Royal Doulton). So the plate has grapes. Don't they look a bit like blueberries?

I like to cover pancakes during cooking so the centers get completely cooked. I'm not only impulsive. I'm also impatient when I'm really hungry. "Chocolate Chai" tea steeps while I wait...

And then it's done!

... and eaten, out in the conservatory. The tea provides a splendid contrast of bitter-sweet flavor... until it's all gone.

Rating: 3/5 Pretty ordinary, I'd say. Good, but nothing special, though the tea was terrific.
Calories: 500
Taste: should have used syrup. I put in too much egg replacer, so they were a big gummy to chew. And I forgot to add 1 tbsp of sugar and a squeeze of lemon to pop up the wild berry flavor.
Tea: Chocolate Chai

Friday, November 18, 2011

Spinach and... oh, not tomato!

I'm hungry for goopy, steamed spinach. My nose imagines the bite of bacon smoke, my tongue wants the dark squishy leaves in a creamy white sauce. I've got chipotle vegan sausage in the fridge, so maybe that will deke out my nose... in a good way.

I rinse and squeeze the "sausage" a few times; it's usually too spicy and salty for my taste. After washing the spinach in a big pot, I leave a bit of water for steaming at the bottom, adding the crumbled vausage on top. Turn up the heat and cover for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up an apple and a roma tomato.

While the spinach is draining in a colander, I squish together the apple, tomato, a half avocado, a few snipped tips of green onion, and Asha's (leftover) raspberry dressing from yesterday. What about a big white bowl (Business Costco) since the ingredients are bright but bulky?

Once the dressing is mixed, I finely chop the almost-dry spinach and vausage on the cutting board and stir everything together.

It looks delicious. Colorful, a mix of tastes and textures. I left two slices of apple unchopped for side accompaniment: the apple has the watermarks around its core of almost-freezing temps when perfectly ripe - the best way to eat an apple!!!

Rating: 2/5. It's a disappointment.
Taste: The slimy spinach and tomatoes mix in a very unpleasant way. Once I let it rest a bit, the flavors mix, the spinach cools, and it tastes much better - almost a 3/5. The tomato was a "not sure, but I'll try it." My first instincts were right: no tomato next time! I wo-manfully eat about half, and leave the rest for supper, when everything will have mixed completely. I'm going to add some more seasoning too, maybe the Smoked South African Salt W got at TJs...
Calories: 545 for 2 meals from 250 vausage, 95 apple, 25 spinach, 140 avocado half, 35 tomato.
Tea: Duchess Earl Grey, Trader Joes. This is NOT a disappointment :-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Asha's feast

"look outside the door..." she rings me up and says.

so I go to the door, and there is a tote bag full

really full
of food.

On the containers are little heart-shaped notes, which I will share along with the beautiful feast my lovely friend Asha Grinnell left...

While I ate -- pure decadence to have raspberries and walnuts together in November, let's face it -- I barely simmered the soup.

It brought back happy memories of after-church get-togethers with a big group of friends... about 15 years ago. We used to eat their tomato bisque, hang out, and laugh and cry together. If Asha had catered for Larry's, everyone would have exclaimed on the beautiful texture and tang. Loved it.

With the soup, Asha had included a small box of mozzarella and tomato slices, drizzled with olive oil and herbs.

Of course, she packed a beautiful dessert... which I am about to inhale with my cup of peppermint "go to bed" tea. Asha, what a treasure you are... not only for this gift, but for many other kind acts of friendship to those who meet you - God bless and keep you. I'm off for some (tea, no milk) and honey, like a happy Bible character.

It doesn't get any better than this, does it? If you have the gift of artistic and delicious cooking, how I hope you a chance to bless someone, as Asha blessed me today! Thanks, m'dear.


Rating: 5/5 If you're eating beautiful food that tastes this good... PLUS you don't have to cook, it deserves the best rating possible.
Taste: good colors and flavors. I like the mix of mozza with a bite of salad, then a spoon of bisque. Of course, I can't wait for the baklava!
Calories: out of this world. Never mind.
Tea: Peppermint to finish.