Monday, May 28, 2007

Grilled Cheese and Apple Sandwich

This was a delicious twist on a classic sandwich. We made grilled cheese sandwiches by buttering millet bread on the outside and spreading stone ground mustard on the inside, paired with smoked cheddar cheese and slices of Granny Smith apples.
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Friday, May 25, 2007

LynnH's Teff Spice Muffins

I am finally easing out of my baking funk. I tried LynnH's enticing recipe for Teff Spice Muffins, and they were absolutely lovely. The photo doesn't do them justice. I first took photos of the three most attractive muffins, and then we ate them for breakfast. After breakfast, I realized the colors in the photos were way off, and I couldn't adjust them to my liking. So, I ended up taking retakes with the leftover muffins. I'm still learning the ins and outs of my new camera. So, use Lynn's photo as a guide for how beautiful they look. But enough of that.

I used three tablespoons of date sugar as a substitute for the sugar in the recipe, and that worked out great. And the spices are so nice. Actually the color and flavors remind me a bit of old fashioned gingerbread, despite the lack of ginger in the recipe.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Polenta, Tomato and Basil Bread with Butternut Squash Soup

I have been in a baking rut for quite some time. Really ever since my muffin disaster last month, nothing I have baked has turned out. But I haven't given up. The closest to a success I've had is this Polenta, Tomato and Basil Bread. It was delicious! It didn't really rise very much, but it's hard to make dough rise that is mainly spelt flour, so I didn't have high hopes in the first place. Plus, I have very little experience making bread by hand, so I certainly could use more practice. Despite all of that, it wasn't overly heavy or dry. It was plenty flavorful and moist. The recipe is surprising because it contains no oil. Maybe the tomato flavor was too dominant though. Anyway, I think I'll try the recipe again sometime, as it was tasty and went nicely with soup. By the way, I substituted date sugar for the brown sugar.

To make the soup, all I did was make a batch of Sauteed Squash with Onions and then blended it in the blender with some vegetable broth. But, you can make it easier by skipping the step of sauteing, and putting the sliced raw onions and raw whole garlic cloves in the baking pan along with the raw chopped squash, toss everything with olive oil and bake for about a half hour, or until everything is soft. Then blend it in the blender. Place it in a saucepan with about a cup of vegetable broth, or more if needed, to get a soupy consistency. Simmer until hot. Season with salt and pepper.

Hmmm, I guess the theme of this week must be polenta. Oops! I guess I better move on to another grain!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Xek' (Jicama Orange Salad)

This salad, called xek' in Yucatan, is spicy and refreshing. It's often eaten by children as an afternoon snack when it is hot outside. If I had been able to find tangerines, I would have added one, as it would have given a nice sweetness. At Mexican grocery stores it is possible to find a chile spice mixture that is blended especially for dishes like this. But as it contains refined sugar, I don't use it. Instead I use either cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.


1 small jicama
1 or 2 oranges
1 or 2 tangerines
1 lime
cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
salt if needed
finely chopped cilantro, as an optional garnish

Cut away or peel the skins of the jicama, oranges and tangerines, removing the bitter white pith of the oranges. Slice into desired shape. Sprinkle with the juice of the lime. Sprinkle chile to desired spice level, salt if needed, and garnish with cilantro.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Anasazi Bean Cassoulita

I found this recipe on a few sites when looking for anasazi bean recipes. It is called Cassoulita with Pasilla Braising Sauce. The recipe is rather lengthy, both in the number of ingredients and the amount of time it takes to prepare. But it was worth it! Absolutely delicious.
I was supposed to top the entire dish with cheese before baking it, but I only put cheese in the middle, for fear it would get too greasy. But the cheese got so nice and crusty, that I suppose it would have been OK to follow the recipe. Also, the recipe called for the vegetables to be minced, but I cut them in chunks to give them more focus. I also added zucchini along with the other vegetables.

I ate my cassoulita with sliced avocado and my leftover polenta. But, I think the beans would be even better eaten as tacos. So tomorrow I will make tacos using fresh corn tortillas, the bean mixture, and avocado slices with lime juice and chopped cilantro. The recipe called for serving it with sour cream, but I didn't think it was needed.

White Asparagus

We lucked upon some nice white asparagus this weekend in addition to some fine aged Italian Parmesan cheese. They were great finishing touches for our rustic meal of whipped cannellini beans, polenta, roasted vegetables. All of the dishes, including the asparagus were sprinkled with the cheese. The roasted vegetables contain portabella mushrooms, zucchini, onion, orange bell pepper and garlic with olive oil, oregano and Italian seasoning.

White Asparagus with Shallots and Parmesan Cheese

6 to 12 spears of white asparagus, sliced on the diagonal
1 pat of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 or 2 shallots, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the sliced asparagus. Boil for one to two minutes. Drain.
2. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and melt the butter into it. Saute the shallots for under a minute, add the asparagus spears. Saute for several minutes. Be careful not to overcook the asparagus or it will become mushy. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
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Saturday, May 19, 2007


Moyetes are basically Mexican bruschetta or open-faced sandwiches. They are commonly served for breakfast. Typically they are made using a French-style bread, cut in half, and spread with refried beans and topped with cheese. Then they are toasted in the oven until the bread is crispy and the cheese has melted.

Although they are not a dish that comes from the Yucatan, we have been served them for breakfast there in recent years. In Yucatan we enjoyed them on Yucatecan French bread (pan frances) with refried black beans, salsa de jitomate, and sliced cheese. It's a delicious combination, but the options are limited only to your imagination. They are also great as snacks or served at informal parties, as they are so quick to prepare and easy to eat with your fingers. They can be made appetizer-sized too. Pictured above, we used millet bread rather than French bread, as millet bread is wonderful toasted.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Purple Peppers

My find of the week at the farmers market was purple and orange peppers. Beautiful! Four for a dollar. The other great deals were lemons at 4 for a dollar (they are 75 cents each at the grocery store) and tomatoes at 8 for a dollar.
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Miso Soup

It's been several days since I've written, but I have still been cooking. Honestly the things I have cooked this week have been so normal. Pedro asked me one morning, "you're taking a photo of toast?!" I had to laugh. I really did take a photo of my toast. For your amusement, the toast photo is at the end.

Anyway, here's miso soup. Miso soup is something great to make when you are short on time. It's super fast and very nutritious. The miso that I used is Eden brand Organic Mugi Miso. It is aged and fermented barley and soybeans. You can put any vegetable in the broth that you like. Cubes of tofu are also great in it. This is what is in this version:

Miso Soup
4 cups of water
1 large stick of wakame seaweed
1 grated carrot
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1/2 of a white onion, diced
2 Tbs miso, dissolved in 2 Tbs of the soup broth
2 green onions, finely sliced (used as garnish. Sorry the photo doesn't show them)

1. Soak the wakame seaweed in cold water for at least five minutes to soften. Remove the middle stem, and cut the rest of the wakame in small strips or squares.
2. Bring the water to a boil with the cut wakame, the onion, carrot and squash. Simmer for about five minutes or until the vegetables are tender and there is a nice broth. Remove from heat. Remove a couple of tablespoons of the broth and put it in a small bowl. Add the miso to the bowl of broth and stir to blend. Add the miso mixture to the rest of the soup, stirring gently. Garnish with the green onions. Serve.

Note: if you are concerned with the soup ending up too salty, instead of adding two tablespoons of miso right away, start with one tablespoon and keep adding a bit more until it is to your liking.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Black Bean Rice

When making black beans from scratch, the broth that results is very rich. This morning I made a pot of black beans and pureed the beans in my food processor to make refried black beans, first straining out the liquid they cooked in. Pictured above are the resulting refried black beans and a portion of the reserved liquid. I like to use that liquid to make Black Bean Rice, pictured below. If you look at the photo larger, you may note a few whole beans in the rice. That's because not all of the beans made it into the food processor. It wasn't on purpose, but it turned out nicely having a few beans incorporated into the rice.

Black Bean Rice

1 Tablespoon oil (olive oil is fine)
2 cloves garlic, mashed, papery skin removed
1/2 of a small white onion, minced (optional)
1 cup of brown rice
3 cups of black bean broth

Heat the oil in a pot, add the onion if using onion and saute for about five minutes. Add the garlic and saute several more minutes, or until the onion is transparent and the garlic flavor has infused into the oil. Add the cup of rice and stir for a couple of minutes, letting the rice coat nicely with the oil. Add the black bean broth. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the liquid has absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat and let sit covered for at least five minutes. Brown rice generally takes at least 40 minutes to cook.
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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Vanilla-Apple Syrup

I have been experimenting with reductions a bit lately as a way of getting intense flavors. So, this recipe caught my eye on page 78 of the May issue of Vegetarian Times. The recipe is Fruit Salad with Vanilla-Apple Syrup. The syrup is good on fruit, plain yogurt, in iced tea to sweeten it, on pancakes as I show above, or really it is up to your imagination.

Vanilla-Apple Syrup
2 cups apple juice
2 2-inch strips lemon zest or orange zest (I used 4 strips of orange)
1/4 vanilla bean (I used 1/2 of a bean)

Place apple juice and zest in small pot. Slice vanilla bean in half and scrape seeds into juice. Add bean to pot as well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Depending on your pot and your stove you can leave it simmering at medium high, or reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until it becomes syrup-like and has reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove the zest and bean pod before the syrup gets too thick. Cool to room temperature. Use as a topping on your chosen dish.

Note: I have a new camera I'm testing out. Seeing if I like it. Don't know how to use all of the features yet. It's nice to at least have one that works! Also of note, if you want to see the images larger, just click on them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Sauteed Squash and Onions with Garlicky Collard Greens

I have finally gotten around to trying a couple of recipes from the May 2007 Vegetarian Times magazine. Featured here are the Sauteed Squash and Onions and the Garlicky Collard Greens. I had substituted the kale for the collard greens this time. The recipes for both were very easy, and they were delicious. They nicely accompanied our meal of Cilantro Lime Tempeh and Black Wild Rice with Shitakes and Red Onions seasoned with fresh sage, basil, rosemary, and thyme.

Garlicky Collard Greens

1 lb. chopped collard greens (or kale)
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
(a dash of red pepper flakes, optional)

1. Bring large pot of water to boil. Add collard greens and simmer about five minutes. Drain. (Rinse with cool water and then when no longer too hot to handle, gently squeeze out excess water).
2. Heat olive oil in same pot over medium heat. Add garlic (and optional red pepper flakes) and saute one or two minutes or until fragrant. Add greens and saute five minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper, and serve warm.

Sauteed Squash and Onions

2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into a one-inch dice
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 tsp salt
1 small onion, chopped (one cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat baking pan with oil or spray.
2. Place squash in a bowl with 1 Tbs olive oil and the salt and toss to coat.
3. Heat remaining oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute longer. Then add the squash and cook 5 minutes.
4. Spread the squash mixture in the baking pan. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Bake 5 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. (I actually roasted the squash for at least a half hour.) Remove from pan immediately to prevent sticking, and serve.
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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Hearty Grain Soup with Beans and Greens

I mentioned this recipe when reviewing recipes from the February 2007 Vegetarian Times. But today, I really wanted more of a stew than a soup. So, I altered the recipe quite a bit. I'm so glad I did as it hit the spot. Today started as a rough day, as the air quality was terrible from the wildfires that are now in Florida. So I have had my air conditioning on to help filter the air, even though it feels really cold with the air on. But by this afternoon we got some desperately needed rain. And it has helped a lot to clear the air. I hadn't posted the original recipe for the soup, so here it is.

Hearty Grain Soup with Beans and Greens
Serves 6, Vegan

2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (2 is better though)
4 cups filtered water or low-sodium veggie broth (plus more if needed)
1.5 cups cooked kasha or barley or brown rice
1 15 oz can (I think 24oz works better) crushed or chopped tomatoes or add 2 or 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 can or 2 cups cooked kidney beans (either cooked from scratch or from a can. If canned, rinse well before adding)
1/4 tsp dried oregano (or a sprig of fresh)
1/4 tsp dried rosemary (or a sprig of fresh) or Italian seasoning
1/2 lb kale (or chard), washed, trimmed and chopped
3 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (optional)
2 to 3 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Heat 1 Tbs oil in large pot of medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onion is lightly brown, about 5 minutes. If you are using fresh tomatoes, simmer them with the onions until soft.
2. Stir in broth, kasha or grain, tomatoes, 1 cup of the beans, and the oregano and rosemary. Bring to a boil. Press kale or chard into liquid, bit by bit, submerging it. Reduce heat to medium or simmer, for 15 minutes or so, until greens are tender. (If you use chard, it takes about 7 minutes).
3. Puree remaining beans in food processor. Add pureed beans, parsley and remaining 1 Tbs oil into soup. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve.
Per serving: 201 cal; 8G prot; 5G total fat (0.5 Sat Fat); 34G carb; 0MG chol; 535MG sod; 8G fiber; 4G sugars

As you can see from the picture, I added some extra ingredients. I added one potato, 1 large shredded carrot, 1 leek, and I had added 1/2 cup of uncooked barley to cook along with the stew. Because of that, I simmered the liquid much longer than the directions before adding the greens, to give the barley the extra time to cook. Plus, the extra veggies needed time to simmer until tender. Once everything was nearly tender, I added all of the beans and greens and let them simmer until the flavors developed and the greens were tender. I didn't puree any beans before adding them, as my pot was already very stew-like, because I was simmering everything in as little water as I could get away with.
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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

More about being a vegetarian

In the May issue of the Vegetarian Times magazine there is an article I have been thinking about. Maybe it stands out because it echoes the sentiments in a passage of a book I happened to be reading on the same day. The book is The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan.

In any event both of them spoke of how isolating it can feel to be vegetarian. And, how awkward it can be sometimes, especially when invited to dinner. Michael Pollan became vegetarian for a month as a part of his research for his book, and here is what he experienced (p 314):

"What troubles me most about my vegetarianism is the subtle way it alienates me from other people, and, odd as this might sound, from a whole dimension of human experience. Other people now have to accommodate me, and I find this uncomfortable.... I also feel alienated from traditions I value: cultural traditions like Thanksgiving turkey, or even franks at the ballpark...
this isn't to say we can't or shouldn't transcend our inheritance..."

Justin Rosenholtz Rogan in her article (page 54) "Full Disclosure: The Pros and Cons of Telling A Host About Your Food Preferences" gives this advice on what to say when you are invited to dinner. She says to tell them "I have to tell you I am a vegetarian. But for the love of everything that is good in this world, please do not make anything special for me. I'll be fine."

I have also been given this advice for when I am eating with others who may not know I am a vegetarian. When they offer me something with meat (or if they offer me a drink not knowing that I don't drink), I could just say, "Not tonight, but thanks."

So, anyway, just some thoughts on how to navigate without making too many waves.

Monday, May 7, 2007

A peek into my pantry

I really love beans. They are so satisfying and tasty. It's very easy to be vegetarian when you love beans. I was reorganizing my pantry today to see what I need for my grocery shopping trip this week. And there were some beans I am low on and even out of. For instance, we're out of black beans, which are a big staple in this house. But I still had seven varieties of beans on hand. From the top left going clockwise, lentils, pinto beans, aduki beans, split peas, anasazi beans, cannellini beans, and in the middle, red lentils.

As far as grains, this is what I currently have: millet, quinoa, Inca Red quinoa, corn grits, brown rice, basmati rice, Bhutanese red rice, Minnesota black wild rice, Kalijira brown rice, buckwheat soba noodles, brown rice fettuccine pasta, oats, teff, teff flour, barley, barley flour, spelt flour, corn flour, and flax seed meal. We're not eating wheat or even whole wheat right now to see if it helps during this allergy season.
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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Plantain and Black Bean Empanadas

There was an article called "Matriarchs of Mexican Flavor" in the New York Times on May 2, 2007. Thanks to Jenny for bringing it to my attention! Anyway, along with the article there were a few recipes by the featured chefs. One of which was for Plantain and Black Bean Empanadas. I found here the recipe written out at this link. Since I had plantains and some leftover beans on hand, I decided to try the recipe. I didn't follow the method described for shaping the empanadas. I made flat patties instead. But the shape really doesn't matter. I made a half batch of the recipe and ended up with 8 patties. The taste was great! I really love how sweet the plantains become when they are boiled. They made a really nice dough for the patties. I topped them with some of my homemade roasted tomato chipotle salsa, and the flavors all worked very nicely together. Overall a delicious success!

Saturday, May 5, 2007


I have ignored all of the holidays so far since I started this blog. So, I was going to ignore that today is Cinco de Mayo. Especially since this holiday is really not celebrated with much fanfare in Mexico. It's like Labor Day here, you get the day off. But, here's a meal with a bit of what some could consider some Cinco de Mayo flair. Refried anasazi beans with baked plantains, vegetable medley and chunky guacamole - in red and green colors in honor of the Mexican flag. Served with spicy roasted tomato chipotle salsa. And to drink, freshly made ice-cold limada. I was going to serve this on either a green or red plate but both were dirty and I was too lazy to wash them! So, I guess that shows the limit of my holiday spirit!


  • One pitcher of cold filtered water
  • Agave nectar to taste
  • 2 or 3 limes
  • ice cubes
  • lime wedges for garnish

In a pitcher of cold filtered water, stir in the juice from two flavorful limes. If the lime flavor isn't there yet, add the juice from another. Then stir in a couple of squeezes of agave nectar, tasting for sweetness. We like ours on the tart side. Add ice cubes to keep it nice and cold. Serve each glass adorned with a wedge of lime.

Variation: For those who want to celebrate 5 de Mayo the American way, you can add a splash of tequila to your glass of limada. I don't drink, but Pedro tried it with one of his fine tequilas (Agavero), and he said it was really good. I'll take his word for it. It sounds like a good match, since agave nectar and tequila both come from the same plant.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Birthday Well Spent

When I lived in Michigan, my birthday fell in the heart of tulip time. I spent several birthdays taking day trips to Holland, MI during Tulip Festival. So this year I had in mind going to the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville, FL to see what flowers were in bloom there this time of year. Here is a photo we took there in March 2006 during peak azalea blooming season.

However we didn't do our research beforehand, and so we arrived there only to discover that Thursdays are the one day of the week they are closed! Another thing that we would have discovered if we had done our research is that this week is Graduation Week at University of Florida in Gainesville. So, instead of seeing scores of people donning wooden shoes like we would see in Holland, we saw lots of people posing in caps and gowns!

As it was well over 90 degrees outside, I was aware that if I was still going to get to take a nice walk, it had better be in a wooded, shady area. I knew that Devil's Millhopper State Park would definitely fit the bill. But, on the way there, we stumbled upon a trail called Hogtown Creek Greenway, so we explored it instead. The creek was all dried up due to our drought, but as always when we take walks in Florida, we saw plenty of wildlife. Of note this walk were lots of songbirds, lots of squirrels, and a red skink. But I was able to capture a photo of this:

A rabbit on the path. This is a rare occurrence for us. In Michigan we were accustomed to seeing rabbits everywhere. But in Florida, for some reason, we rarely see them. It was amazing my cracked and dying camera decided to work at all, let alone in 96 degree weather. Speaking of our drought, we were definitely seeing and breathing the smoke from all of the wildfires in Georgia and Florida. This shot was also the rare bit of sunlight that managed to peek through the smokey haze.

So, as this is a food blog, onto the talk about what we ate! Pedro made me some wonderful pancakes topped with fresh strawberries for breakfast. And in Gainesville we dined at two great vegetarian-friendly places. We lunched at the Book Lover's Cafe, which was so appropriate, as that name definitely describes me. It's a completely vegetarian restaurant set within a used bookstore. There are tables to dine throughout the place, as well as outdoor tables. And the food was great. I didn't manage to get any photos. The camera needed a break. But, fortunately, the camera did work for dinner, where we dined at The Top, a very funky-college-town-feeling place. It wasn't a vegetarian restaurant, but it had a surprising number of creative vegetarian dishes. It was actually hard to choose what to eat. It was funny though because Pedro and I both gravitated to the same style of tofu, so both of the dishes we chose ended up looking very similar, even though there were many other dishes that would have been way different from each other than the two dishes we happened to choose:

I had the Pecan-Encrusted Tofu: "pan seared and served over mashed potatoes with rosemary and brandy mushroom cream sauce and veggie du jour." Pedro had the same tofu but with Rosemary and Smoked Gouda Gnocci: "served with our potato gnocci, grilled asparagus and our rosemary and smoked Gouda cream sauce." Quoted from their menu. Yum! Very comforting and satisfying food. If I had plated the dish, I would have added more veggies and less carbs. But, all in all, it was a pleasant dinner. And for dessert, I did indulge in chocolate. The waitress highly recommended their Vegan Chocolate Cake, and I managed to get an extra large Birthday serving:

It was very very good. I may not have the credibility saying this being a vegetarian, but you wouldn't have any clue that this is a vegan cake when eating it. We were very full from dinner. So, we shared dessert and didn't manage to eat it all. But that means I have leftovers for a snack today!

The other food-related activities we did were to visit two great markets in Gainesville that I love to visit: Mother Earth and Ward's. The first of those is a national chain that many may know. But Ward's is a one-of-a-kind locally owned place. If you are into food and are in Gainesville, find Ward's.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


I have to admit, I have a huge weakness for chocolate. Pictured are some sweet treats at La Boqueria market in Barcelona, Spain. I just realized this morning, that it has been two whole weeks since I've eaten any sort of chocolate. For me that is an eternity. I haven't gone so long without eating chocolate since probably 1998. So here's my dilemma. My birthday is tomorrow. Shall I break my no-chocolate streak? I have some chocolates that I bought three weeks ago, nice beautiful gourmet chocolates. Unbelievably, I forgot about them. They have been sitting in my cupboard unopened and untouched.
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