Monday, October 25, 2010

Tomato Soup

Man, I love making soup! Almost more than eating it. Okay, not really. But in the cool fall days, it really warms you up inside. And I love to smell it simmering on the stove.

I made a half of a batch of the Tomato Brown Rice Soup with Roasted Garlic and Navy Beans from Veganomicon. Sweet! I had no navy beans, but I used great northern beans and I am pretty sure there's no difference.

This soup was yummy, and comforting. I like tomato soup, but this was different. The rice and beans make it such a complete meal. The subtle spices were perfect. I highly recommend it.

Who knew there were so many things to do with a can of crushed tomatoes? I have used it for barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce, and now tomato soup. Lovely.

I had never roasted garlic before, and it didn't go so well. I think I roasted it too long, although I did the 45 minutes the recipe called for. It was messy trying to squeeze the garlic out of the roasted cloves, but I survived. It was a great addition to the soup, and I will try roasting garlic for other recipes.

My picture doesn't do the soup justice. It was still steamy, and there are shadows, and you can't see the beans, but that's okay. Trust me. I haven't had a lot of time (or energy, or enthusiasm) to make anything too fancy lately, but it felt good to make this soup, and great to eat it. One more bowl for supper tonight, though, and that should be enough. Time to move on to another soup!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crunchy Like That

This weekend was gorgeousness and gorgeosity all rolled into some beautiful, sunshiny weather. I spent the majority of it sitting outside with a book, a crossword puzzle, or my laptop to do some writing. It was pure bliss. Unseasonably warm for October. Still is today. I had nothing major going on this weekend (besides grocery shopping) so I did some cleaning, helped Garrett with his American Indian project for school, and finally got around to making that granola I have been meaning to make.

I admit there was some trepidation in starting this process. Friday night I was sure I had lost all of my mojo, and I was really worried. Everything I made that night bombed, and bombed horribly. I wanted to make brownies, and I had a box mix, so I tried to make it using flax "eggs" instead of real ones. I have no idea what the hell went wrong. I checked on them after ten minutes or so, and the batter was boiling in the pan. It was very surreal. And sad. It all went in the garbage.

Then Drew wanted pancakes for supper, and the pancake mix had moths in it, so I attempted to make them from scratch. I used the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, which is a kick-ass recipe. Where did I go wrong? I don't know. They were horrific pancakes. They, too went in the garbage. I was frustrated, depressed, and exhausted. I told my my kids to feed themselves. I gave up.

Saturday things went much better. :)

A while back I won a free giveaway from the lovely people over at Sunfood. I received sample packs of jungle peanuts, maqui berries, and goji berries. Sample packs because this stuff is not cheap. They are raw delicious superfoods, and I was so happy to win. I ate the jungle peanuts right away. I knew if I made granola, I would not be adding the peanuts because of Grace's allergy. The berries I saved for the perfect raw granola recipe.

I spent some time online searching for the perfect raw recipe, then decided to combine a few and make my own. The oats I added are raw oat flakes that I found at my favorite food co-op. The walnuts pieces are not raw. The cashews are raw, as were the flax seeds and sunflower seeds. I made a date paste, then decided to make a larger batch, so I threw in more oats and added some agave nectar without measuring. I mixed it all together, with the help of my lovely daughter.

We ate some right away, then I dehydrated the rest for what I'm guessing was a couple of hours, but I don't know for sure because I never bother to check the time when I do things. I just dried it until it was the right kind of crunchy for me. Then wa-la! A healthy, delicious, super-packed-with-nutrition snack or breakfast, or even supper for that matter.

Possibly the recipe for this granola, give or take this or that:

1 cup flaked oats
18 small pitted dates, soaked, then processed into a paste
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped cashews
2-3 tbsp raw blue agave nectar
1/4 cup whole flax seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
pumpkin seeds
dash of cinnamon
dried fruit - I used goji and maqui berries. Just throw them in.
Chocolate chips or cacao nibs would have been nice as well :)
I should have added some raw flaked unsweetened coconut

Mix well, place on dehydrator sheets - Dehydrate at 105 degrees for a couple hours or until it reaches desired crunchiness. Or skip that part and mold it into bars. Whatever you want.

Isn't it pretty? I can't wait to try different variations of this. A much better snack than chips or cookies or brownies like I have been eating lately!

Have fun with this. You really can't go wrong.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Warming Up

Boy, it's almost like I have been too busy to blog or something! Imagine that.

The high school where I work is not a very efficient building. The district is also broke as hell, so they won't turn on the freaking heaters until maybe December or something. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration. But the nights here in Minnesota have been really chilly, even though the days have been gorgeous and sunshiny, with temps hovering around 70 degrees. During the day, the school stays colder than the part of a witch that would nurse a baby if the witch had a baby. For serious. I am a hot-blooded person, the kind that can hardly even wear a long sleeve shirt because I get too warm, or feel claustrophobic or something. Forget sweaters! I hated wearing sweaters. I couldn't bear to be bundled into one until I began working at this school. Now I need them.

This week in English class the teacher had to teach with her gloves on. I sat in the back with my arms inside my sweatshirt and my legs pulled up under me, trying to keep warm. My nose was cold. Kids were wearing their winter coats. The next day she brought blankets to school so some of the kids could cover up during her lesson. She wore her big warm scarf while she taught. I kid you not.

The thing was, the custodian wasn't going to turn on the furnace when there was an expected high of 70 degrees. Kids were escaping to go outside and warm up. Hell, I was escaping. I went outside during my lunch today to soak some of it up for about 10 minutes.

What's the point of my rambling? There really isn't one. I am getting to the food part, though...

I ate a salad for lunch one day at work, and while it was a good salad full of delicious fresh veggies, it wasn't really a salad kind of day. I needed something warm. There are a few problems to this...

One, I am really low on provisions around here. I do have food, but it's the kind of food that you need to get creative with, and take some time and do some planning with. My life has not allowed for this.

Another, and the saddest part ever, is that I am losing my ambition. Maybe it's winter coming on, and the fact that I have to fight the hibernation urge. Maybe it's because I am so freaking busy I can't see straight. Maybe because it's really getting to me, and I am starting to shut down, little by little. Maybe because every spare second my brain has is used to think about my book.

I made some rice and beans, because that is my back-up recipe. I have written about it before, and I have even written about it in my column. There's nothing that fancy or innovative about it, but it's brown rice and black beans and tomatoes and spices and all that stuff all thrown together. It's easy, the stuff is almost always on hand, it's nutritious, and it's delicious. Most importantly, it's warm...

This time, I had to brilliant idea to slice an avocado and place it on top. I had never done that before, and I didn't know how it would be.

Yes, it was awesome! It's an avocado. Was there ever any doubt?

I threw some corn on top, too. It was fabulous.

Sigh. I really need to get back into the groove of trying new recipes, new foods, new ideas. I am in a rut...

Also, a belated apology for my crappy pictures. I can't find any decent lighting in my house. I wish I was better at photography, but who has time for that when all I think about is writing?

Vegan MoFo is coming up in November. I am not going to participate this year, but maybe with all that blogging going on and the fact that I follow like 40 blogs will help jump start some creative cooking juices for me.

Happy eating!