Sunburned, with salad

Hello there, ladies and gents! I’m back from a wonderfully lazy little trip to my friend Ingrid’s parents’ lake house. It was peeeeerfection. I caught a ride there and back with my brother and sister-in-law and their youngest little cherub, so I didn’t even have to drive. (Fun fact: I hate to drive. Hate it like I hate Chick-fil-A.) Ingrid is one of my very best friends from law school, and we always joke about how our families have pretty much the same collective personality. So, the weekend had all the comforts of hanging out with my own kin…..plus a sailboat, jet-skis, a pretty lake, and NO STUDYING. (I didn’t take my camera, sincere apologies. This is why I’m not a professional blogger–I tend to forget important things.)

There was also some really good food. (And isn’t that what we’re here for, after all?) I came home on a mission to recreate a coleslaw-esque salad Ingrid’s mom made, but things went awry. First of all, her salad had a mayonnaise-ey dressing. So I got out the blender and tried to make some mayonnaise out of soy milk and olive oil and it was literally the grossest thing my hands have ever wrought. I spit in the sink after I tasted it (even though I’m usually quite refined). Back to the drawing board on the homemade Vegannaise. Also, the salad that inspired my project had cranberries in it, and the grocery store I went to had no such thing.

But–take note, potential employers–I am nothing if not resourceful. I came home with some cabbage and some Rainier cherries, and mixed up something different. This was kind of unique and refreshing, so I submit it for your consideration.

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Cherry-Almond Slaw with Ginger Vinaigrette

Dressing:

  • 1/2 c. canola or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • S&P to taste

Slaw:

  • 4-5 c. shredded cabbage
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin (white and green parts)
  • about 1 1/2 c. Rainier cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4-1/3 c. slivered almonds

Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender, or if you’d rather, just mince the ginger and whisk everything together. I definitely did not use all of the dressing (saved some for future lunch salads), so scale back the ingredients if you’d rather not have any leftover. Toss the slaw ingredients with the dressing and serve. (Oh–and, I totally should have toasted the almonds first for more flavor, so you might try that. Way to drop the ball, DK.)

But wait–there’s more! I also found this sad little tupperware of leftover cooked orzo in the fridge.

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I’d say it was about 2 cups. Taking my cues from this Heather’s Dish recipe, I added the following:

  • the raw kernels from 1 ear of sweet corn (I <3 you, Iowa)
  • 2 sliced scallions
  • about 1/2 c. blueberries
  • a handful of roughly chopped parsley
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of agave (sub honey if you want)
  • a few generous splashes of balsamic vinegar
  • S&P

Finished tupperware (less sad):

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So, although I’m back from my little retreat and there are no boats waiting in this backyard, I do at least have a fridge full of healthy eats. We also have a make-your-own-bruschetta station….

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…….and a really swanky pool.

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Much love from the Moines…..see you again soon!

Things that are crunchy

….because it’s crrrrrrrrunchtime. Welcome to my super-secret bar exam study bunker–I’m very excited to see you.

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This is the boardroom at my dad’s office, and I’m just going to move in until the exam (which is July 26 and 27, in case you’d like to mark that down on your calendar and say a quick prayer to your higher power of choice on my behalf). I think I might spruce up the window treatments, feng shui the furniture, build a pillow fort under the table for naps, etc.

I’ve been relying on chips and rice crispie bars for learning fuel. BUT WAIT! Not just ANY chips and rice crispie bars! First, when I’m in the mood for salty, I’ve been heavily into kale chips.

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Kale chips are the third best thing I have discovered since I started reading healthy food blogs (the best is green smoothies and the second is banana soft serve, in case you were wondering). I don’t have a real recipe for them–I just spread out a layer of kale on a sheet pan, drizzle it with a little sauce of some sort or a smidge of olive oil and seasonings, zhooge it around with my hands (I’m not sure how to properly spell the word I mean to use there), and bake for about 20 minutes at 375. Type “kale chips” into the google for many, many pages that will have far more detailed and helpful instructions. My point here is only that it’s much better to realize you just stress-ate your way through a giant pile of crispy kale than it is to realize you just stress-ate your way through a pile of deep-fat fried white potatoes.

And now–an easy breezy recipe for some rice crispie bars that are slightly more grown-up than the ones from the recipe on the side of the cereal box. You know it has to be easy, because my brain can’t handle anything with a lot of steps these days. Just put your dry stuff in a bowl. Heat up the other stuff in a saucepan until melted and pour it on the dry stuff. Stir, mush into a pan, let it set up for awhile, eat.

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Bar Exam Crispie Bars (makes about 12)

  • 2 c. crispy rice cereal
  • 1 c. oats
  • 1/4 c. shredded coconut
  • 3/4 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or butter

Grease an 8×8 square pan or line it with parchment paper. Mix the cereal, oats, coconut, and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Heat the peanut butter, brown rice syrup, and Earth Balance in a small sauce pan over medium low heat just until everything is melted and combined. Pour over the cereal mixture and stir until everything is coated. Press into the 8×8 pan.

And now, dear friends, I must leave you until this test is over. But come back in August–it’ll be exciting, I promise! The blog will have its first birthday, and I won’t have to study anymoooooore! (We hope.)

Funny vegetables

Hello, friends! I hope all is well where you are. I know things are usually all sunshine and lollipops around this blog, but I must admit that lately I’ve been feeling a little…..blaaaaaah. Studying for the bar exam isn’t exactly fun, and although I enjoy hanging out with my family here in Des Moines, I miss a lot of friends back in Iowa City. It’s just a weird, in-between kind of feeling. Plus, I caught a really gross cold and I haven’t been to Zumba in weeks. No, months! BAH!

This evening I decided to take some initiative, ignore the bar exam paced study schedule, and bolster my mood with two all-time favorites. First, my favorite movie:

“Funny Girl” speaks to my very soul. I’m about 85% sure I was Fanny Brice (comedienne portrayed by Barbra Streisand in the film) in a past life.  I submit for your consideration these comparison photos:

Uncanny, right? I would have chosen a better leading man than Fanny’s, though. Nick Arnstein is all flash and no substance. “I don’t like to make definite plans….it makes me feel too tied down.” PLEASE.  The movie really takes a dive after she marries him, but the first act is pure gold.

Anyway, while watching my favorite movie, I also made my favorite dinner. This is what I would have for my last meal, if I was forced to choose. (Then I would also make about 6 desserts.) Please note that all of these measurements will be approximate, because I’m not really into measuring, except when baking.

Red Curry Coconut Stir-fry with Basil-Lime Couscous (serves 6-ish)

For the stir-fry:

  • about 1 tbsp coconut oil (or vegetable or peanut oil)
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (heaping) tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1.5-2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 13.5 oz. can lite coconut milk
  • 1 c. peas, defrosted if using frozen
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • coarsely chopped cashews to garnish

For the couscous:

  • 1 10 oz. box couscous
  • 2 c. water, vegetable stock, or a combination
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)
  • a small handful of basil leaves, sliced in thin ribbons

Couscous: In a small saucepan, bring the 2 cups of liquid and the lime zest to a boil. Pour in the couscous, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for about 5 minutes (check the package instructions for the amount of time–my box said 5 minutes). Remove the lid, juice the lime over the couscous, add the ribbons of basil, and fluff/mix the couscous with a fork.

Stir-fry: In a large frying pan, heat about one tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat. When it’s melted, add the yellow squash, red pepper, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add the red curry paste and stir a bit to incorporate it with the vegetables. Then pour in the coconut milk, peas, and mushroom, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Check your veggies for your desired level of doneness (I like them to be a little crunchy when done). Add the scallions at the very end of cooking. Serve the stir-fry over a scoop of the couscous, sprinkled with a few chopped cashews.

I added a little leftover baked tofu on top at the last minute. A veggie-ful feast + a movie musical = a much better mood. As the song says, “Life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter.” Happy weekend, food fans!

P.S. Sorry the pictures are tiny.  I switched to a different blogging program and I have yet to really figure out how to use it.

Rice paper wrappers full of (r)awesome

Just a very quick installment today…

My friend Katie (she also happens to be my sister-in-law’s brother’s wife, but “friend” is simpler) has a holistic health coaching business and sends out a newsletter full of info about happy, healthy food and tasty recipes.  The business is called Rooted Wellbeing and you should really check out the website, mmmkay? It will inspire you when you feel like eating Doritos for dinner.

I tried her recipe for a raw Thai “peanut” sauce yesterday and I can already tell it is destined to become a staple in my fridge.  It would be great on a pasta salad, as a dip, in a wrap, etc.  Tonight I used it as a dipping sauce for some spring rolls.

Spring roll components: broiled tofu (using this recipe from Peas and Thank You), cooked rice noodles with a bit of the peanut sauce stirred in, veggies, and the rice paper wrappers.

These are very fun to make.  You need to soak the rice paper in a shallow dish of warm-ish water for about 20 seconds to make it pliable.  This reminded me of the scene in Grease when Sandy sings “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and wistfully floats a sheet of stationery in the pool in Frenchie’s backyard.  Anybody?  No?  OK, never mind.

Then you can fill them with whatever suits your fancy and you have a pretty little appetizer or light supper.  I didn’t follow any particular recipe for these rolls, but here’s one that looks good if you want a little food for thought.  My finished product:

These were pretty decent, but the star of the meal was definitely the dipping sauce—here’s the link with the recipe.  Make it, love it…..try to resist the temptation to just eat it straight with a spoon.

Have a happy Memorial Day weekend!  (I’ll be back with another post soon, because I bought tartlet pans today.  TARTLET PANS!  I can barely contain my excitement….)

Commencement, merriment, and avocados

Hey look—we got our law degrees!

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Somehow, in between all the cookie baking and general tomfoolery that made these past three years so wonderful, I got the job done.  And so did all of my brilliant, wonderful, hilarious classmates that I already miss like crazy now that I am moved out of my apartment and back in Des Moines, where I’ll be for the summer while studying for the bar exam.

I am excited about whatever will come next…..but I’m also a little sad.  I have always loved being a student, and law school was just so much fun.  Fortunately, we had all kinds of family over to my parents’ house tonight for a graduation barbecue, so I couldn’t spend too much time being nostalgic.  There was food prep to be done!  My brother who lives in Colorado is here, as is my cousin who lives in Florida, so it was an extra-special family fiesta.

My parents made lots and lots of delicious food, but my favorite was a new dish that I have dubbed “Avocados de los Abogados.”  (Two semesters of Spanish, thankyouverymuch.)  This is essentially a zippy little corn salad that you can throw together the day before, stuffed inside half of a lightly grilled avocado.  Yesterday, my dad grilled two ears of corn.  It was not grilling weather, but we’re brave.

Then he sliced the corn off the ears and mixed up the salad, while I took photos and offered moral support.

Tonight, while grilling various meat-stuffs for the carnivorous family members, he grilled the avocados for just long enough to soften them a bit and get those sexy grill marks.  Then I filled them with the corn salad, drizzled a little lime juice over the whole situation, and took this glamour shot:

We used 6 avocados, and the following ingredients for the corn salad (all measurements except the corn approximate):

  • 2 ears of grilled sweet corn
  • 1 c. quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • pinch of cayenne pepper or chipotle powder
  • lime juice, squeezed over the filled avocado halves before serving

Tomorrow I am checking out of my cozy little Iowa City apartment.  It was a happy home for three years and I will miss it…..but I comfort myself with the thought that wherever I move next will have more counter space (to accommodate the KitchenAid stand mixer I dream of buying when someone actually hires me to do some lawyering).

Have a good week, everybody!  And—if you happen to be a member of the IA Law class of 2011…..CONGRATS!

Spring training

Isn’t spring glorious?  I love it even when the weather doesn’t quite live up to what I think spring ought to be.  The extra daylight (and the ability to go outside without first finding my mittens) makes me want to do all kinds of things I feel too lazy to do in the winter.

A couple of recent things I felt like doing recently with my new overabundance of springtime energy: signing up for a race and making some pasta salad.

I signed up for the Dam to Dam 20K in Des Moines the first weekend in June.  I’ve done both the 20K and the 5K at the same event once before.  I was signed up last summer, but it was pouring rain when I got up at 4:30 to board the shuttle and I promptly went back to bed.  At 12.4 miles, this race will be a bit shorter than a half marathon, which I survived last October, so I should be able to handle it.  In an effort to up my speed a little, I’m going to follow an actual training plan this time.  (My training plan for the half was something like “Run as far as you can as often as you can, and hope for the best.”)  Here it is:

3/21 Athlete’s Workout class 3 m run Rest 30 min cross 2 m run or cross 3 m run +
strength
4 m run
3/28 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 2 m run or cross 3.5 m run +
strength
3.5 m run 40 min
cross
5 m run
4/4 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 2 m run or cross 3.5 m run +
strength
3.5 m run Trial Run 5K 5 m run
4/11 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 2 m run or cross 4 m run +
strength
4 m run 40 min
cross
6 m run
4/18 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 2 m run or cross 4 m run +
strength
4 m run Rest 6 m run
4/25 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 4.5 m run +
strength
4.5 m run 50 min
cross
7 m run
5/2 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 4.5 m run +
strength
4.5 m run 50 min
cross
8 m run
5/9 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 5 m run +
strength
5 m run Rest 7 m run
5/16 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 5 m run +
strength
5 m run 60 min cross 9 m run
5/23 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 5 m run +
strength
5 m run 60 min cross 10 m run
5/30 Stretch &
Strengthen
Rest 3 m run or cross 2 m run 4 m run Rest Dam to Dam

I adapted this from Hal Higdon’s website—it’s the “novice” plan for a half marathon.  The plan on the site is 12 weeks, but I’ve only got 11 before the race.  I reserve the right to switch things around, but I’m going to try to cover the mileage as much as possible and post a few updates along the way.  (That way, when I want to turn off my alarm and blow off some miles, I can picture sad, disappointed blog readers.)

Also (public service announcement!), as you can see, I’ll be doing a 5K during week 3 of the plan—that’s Saturday, April 9, to be exact.  If you live in or near Iowa City, you should sign up right here for the Iowa Student Bar Association Trial Run 5K (search event: ISBA Trial).  It’s at 9 a.m. at the University of Iowa’s Ashton Cross Country Course, and proceeds will go to Iowa Legal Aid. Great cause, fresh air…and you’ll probably beat at least one person, because I’ll be there!

A (wannabe) runner’s got to have some fuel, so now let’s talk pasta salad. Here’s a springtime rendition you can throw together in the time it takes to bring water to a boil and cook some pasta.  I used this pasta:

It’s not bad, and the ingredients are happy and healthy (brown rice flour, spinach powder, and beet powder), but I think next time I would use monochromatic pasta for a more aesthetically pleasing finished product.  I also used a couple of new (to me) ingredients: fennel and Nayonaise (egg-free mayonnaise-y tasting dressing).

Spring Training Pasta Salad

  • 12 oz. pasta of your choice, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 c. peas (I used frozen, defrosted)
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Dressing:

  • 1/2 c. Nayonaise
  • Zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Boil water and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.  Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a blender.  Taste and adjust seasoning to suit your fancy.  When the pasta is done, drain it and rinse it with cold water.  Then combine the pasta, veggies, and dressing in a large mixing bowl.

Have a good weekend!  Oh, and if you’re here thanks to Angela’s latest recipe link post….thanks for stopping by Smile

Maple-soy marinated veggies

One more (very simple) recipe before spring break is over.  My brother and sister-in-law and their wonderful kiddos got back from spring break in Florida today, and we fired up the grill for the first time this spring.  Oh, by the way, do you want to see something adorable?  Check out baby nephew at Disneyworld:

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I made a marinade for grilled portabella mushrooms and asparagus using my tiny bottle of maple syrup from VT.  Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/8 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 clove garlic

My mom bought one of those Magic Bullet things today and blended the ingredients in that, but you could also mince the clove of garlic and just whisk everything together.

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I used 2 portabella caps and one good-sized bunch of asparagus.  To prep the veggies, break the stems off the portabella caps and use a spoon to scrape out the black gills.  Chop off the bottom third or so of the asparagus spears and discard.  (The bottom is usually kind of tough.)

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Leave the asparagus long if you want to place it directly on the grill, or chop it into smaller pieces if you’re going to be using a grill pan.  Then put the portabellas and asparagus into a pan and pour the marinade over them.

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Put the pan in the fridge for a few hours, and stir every now and then to make sure every veggie gets a chance to soak up some flavor.  Then, fire up the grill.  Cook the mushroom caps for about five minutes on each side, and the asparagus until crisp-tender.

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I love grilling nights on the patio with my family!  The prospect of having many more this summer makes studying for the bar exam sound much less painful.

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Finished product:

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My dad grilled some meat for the carnivorous family members, so almost everybody was happy with the meal.  My older nephew, however, had to head to the pantry.  He only eats one thing:

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Have a great week!  It’s back to school for me.

Crazy Sexy Cookery

Last week I got this book in the mail:

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I love Kris Carr’s blog, Crazy Sexy Life (“a super disco of health, spiritual wealth, and happiness!”), and I simply could not pass on the book when I saw the subtitle (I love both veggies AND living like I mean it).  I read most of it during the snow event of last week, and am currently on day 4 of the “21-Day Adventure Cleanse.”

Here’s the gist: avoid meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, and gluten.  Aim for mostly alkalizing foods, exercise, and meditate.  Yeah, it sounds hard…but she made the brilliant decision to call it an “adventure cleanse”–who wants to pass up an adventure?  And I must say—after 4 days I feel pretty fantastic.  I am practically high on vegetables.  The worst part, however, has been giving up my beloved Diet Coke.

My nephew painted this for me, if that’s any indication of my long-standing devotion to this particular beverage.  But…I’ve heard plenty of not-so-nice things about aspartame, so I think it’s good for me to cut it out for awhile.

The best part is that you’re supposed to meditate every morning.  I wake up, brush my teeth, sit on the floor, and think happy thoughts for 15 minutes.  The second-best part: lots of experimenting with weird stuff in the kitchen!

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On the top left: collard greens.  I had never seen these in their natural form before…just chopped up and stewed with a ham hock or something.  As it turns out, you can make wraps out of them—see this link to Choosing Raw for a nifty tutorial!  My first attempt tasted a little….leafy for my liking, but on the second try I steamed the leaf for just a couple of minutes (my cheap-o steamer apparatus is top right), and it was much more palatable and pliable.

Today, in an effort to jazz up the giant bowl of vegetables I was supposed to eat for lunch, I made some crazy sexy cauliflower salad.  I made it into a sort of “cauliflower rice” using my beloved food processor, added some other finely chopped veggies, and then made the most DELISH dressing from raw cashews in my blender.  If you’re not sold on the cauliflower concept, at least try the dressing—I kind of wanted to do a cartwheel when I tasted it.  (But that might just be my salad high talking.)

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Cauliflower “Rice” Salad

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets and pulsed in a food processor until it resembles rice

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

2 scallions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin

Dressing: 1/2 c. raw cashews, juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 c. warm water, 2 tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste

Combine the vegetables in a large mixing bowl.  Add all of the dressing ingredients except the olive oil to your blender.  Turn on the blender and slowly stream in the olive oil through the hole in the lid.  Check for consistency and add more oil or warm water if you’d like it to be thinner.  Add the dressing to the veggies and stir to coat.

Note: I would probably just go ahead and make a double batch of the dressing—it would be great as a dip or on lots of other salad combos.

Finally, perhaps you were a little confused by this photo above:

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Well, last night I wanted some chocolate.  Correction—I might have gone into a murderous rage if I had to eat one more vegetable and I wanted chocolate RIGHT THEN AND THERE.  Fortunately, there’s a recipe in the back of the book for “Chocomole.”  I know, I know, it sounds weird, but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it, people!  Scoop the flesh of one avocado into your food processor (or blender), add a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder and a healthy drizzle of agave nectar, and turn it on.  You may want a little water to thin it out, and you’ll need to taste to see if you want more sweetener.  It tastes just like chocolate pudding!  OK, maybe not just like chocolate pudding, but it’s not bad.

Must go read for class now.  I have to get up early and meditate.  Until next time, fair friends!

Soup for the snowpocalypse

As you probably know, Mother Nature had a giant snow-tantrum recently that resulted in some class cancellations (WOO!).  Consequently, I had a little staycation at my apartment.  I got some reading done, cleaned, de-cluttered, and worked out.  But, of course, it wasn’t all business.  I also figured out how to make a stylish toga out of a twin bed sheet (for an upcoming social event) and made a mess in my kitchen!

Snow events call for soup, obviously.  I have a newfound love for parsnips, and a friend of mine recently shared a recipe for parsnip soup on my facebook wall.  I don’t have internet access at home, so I couldn’t check the exact ingredients and measurements, but I did have a bag of the aforementioned root vegetables, a Dutch oven, and my lively imagination.

Chopping first: I diced half an onion, minced some garlic, peeled and diced the parsnips, and diced some carrots.  It’s good to get all the ingredients ready to party before you turn on the heat.

I sautéed the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until softened and almost translucent, and then added curry powder, pepper, and a little salt.  (Careful with the salt when you’re going to be using boxed stock/broth—they can be salty, so go easy to start and taste as you go.)  Then I added vegetable stock, brought it to a boil, and dropped in the parsnips and carrots.

Reduce the heat as needed so the veggies are simmering, not boiling like crazy, and stir occasionally until they’re tender.  Mine took 8-10 minutes, but it’ll just depend on how large or small your pieces are.  Next up: puree-ing.  (Is that a verb?  I just made it one.)  I had never pureed a soup before, so I consulted the almighty Bittman Bible of Vegetarianism:

This is a wonderful book that I got as a gift from a wonderful friend, and I look stuff up in it all the time.  I don’t use it for the recipes so much as for the charts, ideas, and exhaustive explanations of everything you need to know about cooking veggie-ful feasts.  The tofu tutorial is a tour de force, let me tell you.  Anyway, Mr. Bittman had some words about pureed veggie soups…

I took his warning to heart and let the soup cool down a bit.  In the meantime, I went outside to attempt to remove my car from its snowy parking lot prison.  Never one for winter-weather preparedness, I don’t actually own a shovel.  Luckily, a nice fellow saw me trying to move a knee-high pile of snow with a cookie sheet and let me borrow his.  After some serious shoveling, I come back inside and put a few ladles of soup into my retro-fab blender.

I think the towel on top is a good idea.  I pureed the soup in 3 batches—here’s what it looked like:

Rave, rave, rave reviews on this stuff!  I loved it.  It looks kind of like baby food, which I suppose might turn some people off, but it tastes like a big potholder hug in a bowl and it’s super-duper nutritious to boot.  I had a bowl (with some chickpeas and scallions on top) while watching Singin’ in the Rain and basking in my spontaneous day of vacation, and it was just the best.  Picture and recipe below…farewell for now and happy shoveling!

Curried Parsnip and Carrot Soup

  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • About 5 medium to large parsnips, peeled and diced
  • About 2 cups baby carrots, diced the same size as the parsnips
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 4 cups vegetable stock

Sautee the onion and garlic in a large pot or Dutch oven in about 1 tbsp of your preferred oil.  Cook until softened and nearly translucent.  Add 1 tablespoon of curry powder, plus salt and pepper to taste.  Stir into the onions and garlic, and then add the vegetable stock.  Bring the stock to a boil, add the carrots and parsnips, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender (test them with a fork or taste one).  Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool a bit.  Puree the soup in several batches in a blender* and then return it to the pot to heat it through again if you’re going to serve it right away.  If needed, add a bit more stock to thin it out.  Taste and add more seasoning if you wish.

*If you have a fancy-schmancy immersion blender, you can certainly use that and puree the soup right in the pot you cooked it in.

P.S. Here’s the link to the recipe that inspired my little soup project.

Green Week

Classes, man.  They really cut into my time for making food and taking pictures of it.  But—it’s great to be back in Iowa City, once again learning the laws and hanging out with my wonderful friends/colleagues.

After making it through the first week of the new semester, we had a birthday party for a certain dear friend and faithful blog reader, and the decorating committee decided to replace all of the light bulbs in the party venue with green ones.

Ever since then, everything seems to have a bit of a greenish tinge.  So, I just ran with it and made some green food.

Trader Joe’s (which has recently opened a new location in Des Moines, making my life at least 5% more joyous than it already was) sells edamame hummus.  I thought this was a pretty ingenious idea when I saw it, and figured I should try to replicate it at home with my trusty food processor.  The result was very tasty, if I do say so myself, and the ingredient list is simple and short.  Here’s most of what you need:

Throw all of the ingredients except the olive oil in the food processor and turn it on.  While it runs, pour olive oil through the spout until it reaches a creamy consistency.  I’m guessing I used about 2 tablespoons.  Stop the processor and taste for seasoning (carrot optional).

I decided it needed a little heat, so a threw in a couple shakes of these…

…and that was it! A full week’s supply of hummus—always a good feeling.

Edamame Hummus

  • 1.5 cups cooked shelled edamame (I used a bag of frozen edamame, defrosted in the fridge.)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons (approximately) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

I immediately slathered some of this in a pita pocket with some chopped scallion and snap peas…it was a monochromatic luncheon masterpiece.

Kale is another green thing I’ve been loving lately.  I’m trying to branch out from spinach and try other greens, so I’ve been eating kale raw in salads and sautéed as a side dish.  Here’s the thing about the salads: kale is kind of a high-maintenance vegetable in that it doesn’t taste very good raw unless you massage it with some sort of dressing in order to take away the bitterness.  No, I’m not kidding—google “massaged kale salad” and you will see that I’m not just making this up.  There are plenty of recipes for dressing out there, but basically you just need some sort of acid and a little oil.  Try putting your desired amount of chopped kale in a salad bowl, squeezing some lemon juice over it, and drizzling on a half-teaspoon or so of tahini (olive oil would be another good candidate).  Then just get your hands in there and massage it around—it’ll be messy but worth it. *  Make sure all of the leaves are coated.

*If I may digress for a moment (if you are not familiar with The Office you can skip this part)—it is surprisingly difficult to write a blog about cooking and eating things without numerous “That’s what she said” sentences.  I think I’m just going to stop trying.

Anyhoo—if you’d rather not massage your kale, you can sautee it.  Tear the leaves of one bunch of kale off the tough stalks, chop them into 1-inch ribbons, wash and pat dry.

Then heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a frying pan and very briefly sautee 2 cloves of chopped garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Then add the kale and gently stir to incorporate the garlic and olive oil.  You may have to pile it on, like so…

…but it’ll wilt down as it cooks.  Sautee over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender.  I cooked this batch for about ten minutes.  Feel free to sprinkle a little water over the leaves if the pan gets dry, and season with salt and pepper as you cook.

This is a great side with my current favorite easy-cooking go-to dinner: a diced and roasted sweet potato with black beans, sprinkled with a little ground ginger when I’m feeling fancy (which is usually).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta get back to work.  No time for shenanigans when school is in session….