July 29, 2009

potatoes and green beans in a mushroom gravy

Yay! A cold front came through Boulder! High of 67 and low of 49. Time for some kitchen intensive comfort food!

Serving Size: 6

4 c. potatoes, diced
2 c. green beans, sliced into 1" segments
2 c. carrots, sliced into half circles
1 lb. tofu, pressed, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and black pepper to taste
canola oil

Gravy Ingredients:
2 c. white button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. water
2 T. canola oil
2 T. white miso
1 T. tahini
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 t. thyme
salt and black pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes with a little canola oil and salt and pepper in a frying pan with a cover over medium heat for about 30 minutes. Stir them occasionally. Add a clove of minced garlic near the end when the potatoes are starting to turn golden brown. While the potatoes are cooking, saute the onion, mushrooms, and garlic in a little canola oil and salt. When the mushroom and onions are done cooking, set them aside for gravy making.

Reuse the mushroom/onion pan to steam the carrots and green beans in a splash of water over medium heat. Set them aside when they are cooked (not mushy). Reuse the frying pan again to cook the tofu in some canola oil and salt.

Onto gravy making! Grab half of the cooked mushroom, onion, garlic mixture and combine them with the remaining gravy ingredients. Use a blender to make a smooth gravy. Add the remaining mushroom, onion, garlic mixture to the gravy.

Mix everything together and eat! If you're feeling extra ambitious you could throw it all into a pie crust and you'll have a veggie pot pie. Or you could make some biscuits! Mmmm biscuits...

July 23, 2009

tofu documentary

I really recommend watching "Discover China: A Tale of Tofu." You will be shocked and amazed. Did they really just make those pure white blocks of bean curd in a traditional dirt-floor house in China? Did they just say "plaster of Paris"? Was plain tofu really not enough? How have I never ever heard of all the crazy variations of tofu - black tofu, fuzzy tofu, blood tofu??

For serious, rent it.

July 20, 2009

turnip chips

Turnips can be transformed into a salty snack perfect for porch sitting and beer drinking.

turnips, sliced thin
olive oil

Toss the turnip slices in olive oil and salt. Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake for around 20 minutes on a middle rack at 450 degrees. Flip the chips half way through. The turnip chips will turn golden brown at different times. Check on them often and remove the golden chips as they are ready.

To brighten up the snack, you can serve it with a refreshing dip like yogurt and green onions.

July 17, 2009

hard apple cider

Our apartment is a-bubbling with the sounds of fermentation! A while ago, organic apple cider was on sale at the grocery store--packaged in big glass gallon jugs, perfect for brewing hard apple cider. I finally got around to starting it the other day.

I loosely followed
this recipe. Usually we use honey when making wine/mead, but I decided to try sugar this time. In my opinion, everything but the sugar and the yeast is optional: I omitted the pectic enzyme and yeast energizer because those didn't come with our garage sale'd brewing kit. I did use the optional campden tablet--it kills any wild strains of yeast and reduces the chance of having potentially good or bad "off flavors." Campden tablets can also be used to de-chlorinate tap water. If you do use a campden tablet or other sulphite, it may be a good idea to wait 24 hours before pitching the yeast.

I poured some cider out of each jug so that they didn't foam up into the airlock, but it happened anyway, so I had to stir down the bubbles a couple times. I'm going to try ice distilling one jug into
applejack and maybe make the other one a sweet hard cider with bubbles.

Oh, leave a comment if you have a good recipe for ginger beer or root beet--I'd love to try those out. Maybe I'll try making the famous
D 'n' B--Dandelion and Burdock--there sure is a surplus of those two plants! I could go for a cold crisp Cel-Ray too. So much to do--let the fermentation begin!

July 13, 2009

wildlands restoration volunteers

Eric and I volunteered with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers this past weekend. WRV is an incredibly organized, community oriented group that repairs trails, builds new trails, and restores native vegetation in public lands.

The group worked on building a new multi-use trail near Brainard Lake. While Eric did trail work, I cooked up a storm with the Project Support Cook team. We fed 75 people for 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner. I sauteed the pile of peppers and onions shown above for burritos. They were quickly gobbled up by the hungry, hard-working volunteers!

Cooking for large amounts of people is a fascinating challenge of planning and execution. I am looking forward to future opportunities!

July 6, 2009

rhubarb jam

To enjoy rhubarb through the winter, we made rhubarb jam (rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, pectin) and canned it in our steam-pressure canner. You can can jams and other high-acid foods with a boiling-water canning process, but pressure canning uses less energy and water. Two pounds of rhubarb (and seven cups of sugar!!) made 3.5 pints of jam.

July 1, 2009

real marshmallows?

The origin of marshmallows is a little unclear, but definitely included either the root or stem of the medicinal marshmallow plant, and a lot of sugar. These original marshmallow confections were, of course, vegetarian, because they used the natural mucilage of the marshmallow plant instead of the natural bones and skins of the pig, cow, and fish animals. For a while I've been wanting to try making these original marshmallows. I found a recipe for "marshmallow treats" that uses marshmallow root, through it is about half egg whites so it isn't vegan.

2 egg whites
1 t. vanilla extract
½ c. sugar
1 T powdered marshmallow root, soaked in a bit of water

Marshmallow root often comes roughly chopped, so you can use a coffee grinder to turn it into powder. Soak the powdered root in some water until it gets mucilagey.

Use an egg beater to beat the egg whites until they are pretty stiff with little peaks. Add vanilla and then whip some more. Then whip in the sugar, a bit at a time. Mix in the marshmallow goo. The fluffy egg/sugar mixture will almost instantly turn gooey, just like the inside of modern commercial marshmallows or marshmallow fluff--pretty cool--too bad it has egg or I would just eat it like that. I baked the treats like cookies. A muffin tin works well to retain the shape of the treats. The recipe says to bake them for an hour. I tried taking some out after 15 minutes and 45 minutes too. The 15 minute ones shriveled up and were still a bit gooey but the ones in there longer lost all gooeyness and ended up being sweet airy cookies, with the taste of marshmallow root.

Making and eating these was fun--I brought them to a camping-themed potluck and made smores and weirded people out--but I don't think I would do it again. Watch out for bits of marshmallow root that didn't get fully pulverised. Maybe I'll find an even more original recipe sometime. From the wikipedia article, it sounds like boiling the pith of the stem is the way to go.