Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today's recipe!

From Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

Risotto-Style Barley

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 shallots (I used 2), chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp sea salt (I forgot this, but then I just salt to taste)
2 cups barley
1 cup good quality white wine
6 cups water
1 orange
Grated zest of one lemon (I skipped this and tossed some lemon juice in instead)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream (I used sour)
2 big handfuls of arugula (I used a little more)
Handful of toasted walnuts

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, shallots and garlic and salt, and saute until tender. Add barley and stir until lightly coated. Add wine, and allow to soak into barley. Then add 6 cups of water, one cup at a time. Only add more once the first cup is absorbed. The barley is cooked when there is not much assistance. It will not be as creamy as arborio rice. I left it on the brothy side, as the cookbook recommends.

While the barley is cooking, peel and segment the orange. Reserve any juice the leaks out. Cut the orange into small pieces. Once the barley is tender, add the cream, cheese, orange and citrus juices. Taste and adjust seasoning, then stir in the arugula. Garnish with the walnuts prior to serving.

This recipe is really good, though I think I would half it next time. The book says that it is for 4 to 6, but I think it's more like 6 to 8. I will be eating this easily for a week - I think I'm going to freeze half of it. This would definitely be great during the winter time, and I think it would be awesome with little clementine segments instead of navel orange segments, which is what I used.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Food, Food, Food

One of the things that I am trying so so so hard to do is cook for myself as often as possible as opposed to eating out. Eating out has become such a habit for me, but I have a revelation when doing it in California. In CA, they have started giving out the nutritional information with the menus at all of the restaurants. Holy crap have I been eating way worse than I thought I was. I used to cook for myself all the time, when I had a subscription to Cooking Light. Since I am a single person, I've noticed that as long as I cook about four recipes per week, that gives me enough leftovers for dinners and lunches, and then I buy cereal and fruit for breakfast.

I started on Friday night, and I kicked it off by cooking for both me and my boyfriend. I'm trying hard to concentrate on eating a lot of fruits and veggies and whole grains, with meat and other animal products taking more of a back seat. I had enough leftovers for two more meals, even after I fed both of us which was good.

I'm going to keep the recipes that I have made here because it is convenient and easy for me to tag them and keep track of it.

From Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

Wheat Berry Salad
2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed (I used hard)
6 cups water
2 tsps sea salt (I used regular)

grated zest of one orange (I omitted this)
1 tbsp lemon juice (I also added a tbsp of lime juice)
1 tbsp minced shallot
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
juice of one orange (I use an extra large one)

3 generous handfuls of spinach
1 c. toasted pine nuts
1/2 c. crumbled feta (I use more, and in blocks - vegans can omit this - B did because he is lactose intolerant and tries to minimize his lactaid intake)

Combine wheat berries, water and salt in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for an hour or until plump (if you use hard ones, you will need 2+ hours for this). The berries should stay al dente. Drain and season more with salt.

To make the dressing, whisk together dressing ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.

Toss hot wheat berries (I actually cool them) with spinach, pine nuts and dressing, then top with feta. Taste for seasoning and sprinkle with more salt if needed.

This is one of my favorite recipes, and the recipe that made me buy this book. I get wheatberries at the organic grocer.

Shredded Green Beans
3/4 lb green and/or yellow beans, tops and tails removed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or clarified butter (I used oil since B is lactose intolerant)
2 tbsp water
Grated zest of one lemon
Grated zest of one lime
1/4 cup chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste

Slice the beans on a diagonal into 1/8 inch pieces - or use a food processor at low speed and do this a handful at a time. (I cut them like I would green onions.)

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the bean and stir until coated with oil, then add the water. Cover and cook 2-3 minutes, until the beans are brightly colored and tender. Remove from heat and stir is zests and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This was a nice, fresh, lemon-y tasting green bean recipe. I loved it.

From Cooking Light

Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Adobo Cream

1/2 c. fat free sour cream
1 tsp adobo sauce (I used 3 tsps of chipotle adobo spice for extra spicy deliciousness)

1 can no-salt added black eyed peas (I used dried and boiled them for an hour)
1/4 c. dried bread crumbs (I needed 1/2 cup to make my cakes stick better)
1 tbsp chopped onion
1/2 tsp bottled minced garlic (I used fresh and used two cloves)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (I also added 1/2 tsp cayenne)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 c. jack cheese

(1) Combine first two ingredients for adobo cream sauce and set aside
(2) Place beans in a medium bowl and partially mash with a fork. Stir in breadcrumbs and next 7 ingredients. With floured hands, divide pea mixture into 4 equal parts, shaping each portion into 1/2 thick patty (I made 8, smaller cakes which stuck together better than trying to do them larger).
(3) Heat oil in large, non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add patties to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side until golden and thoroughly heated. Remove from pan and top with cheese and adobo sauce.

I would make these again, no problem. It was super easy, and I could have done it all in about 20 minutes. I used a cast iron pan to do the bean cakes and that worked really well.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A few more photos ....


Dr. BH - name those birds!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Murder List by Julie Garwood

On my trip up to Spokane, WA I had my first ever experience listening to a book on tape. It was a little weird at first since it has been a great many years since anyone has read to me, but after a few minutes, I got the feel of it. It's a little like watching a movie with subtitles; at the beginning, it feels arduous, but by the end, I don't even notice I am reading them.

I was busy, so my mother was tasked with the job of renting books on tape. The first she chose was Rain Gods by James Lee Burke. We made it through the second disc before deciding to turn it off and use the radio instead. I don't know if it was hearing the book aloud, but I do not much like James Lee Burke's writing style. There were too many flourishes and descriptions that seemed unnecessary and out of place. The story wasn't particularly compelling - what we made it through - and my mom and I found ourselves talking over the disc which we felt wasn't a particularly good sign.

We finished the second audio book, Murder List by Julie Garwood. I would give this book two stars at the very best. Though it was classified as "romantic suspense" (please remember, not my book selection), it should have been classified as "suspense then romance" as that's really what it was. Garwood's book was badly written, sloppily planned, and poorly read.

The writing simply wasn't very good. The dialogue was predictable, as were many of the plot points. She used many of the same phrases over and over again. However, I have been known to excuse poor writing for good storytelling, but sadly in this case the storytelling was worse than the writing. The book started with a prologue which was meaningless to the plot (though the epilogue did make mention of it). The first half of the book sets up a relationship between three best friends who decide to investigate - on their own - a manipulative therapist. If the book had continued in this vein, it would have been fine, but it did not. Halfway through, Regan (the main character) parts ways with her best friends and is given a bodyguard. The rest of the story takes Regan from the cool, capable woman we were introduced to into a gibbering idiot who has to rely on her hunky bodyguard for everything. Also, don't bother to try to figure out the mystery - it is impossible, as the solution relies on characters the reader is never introduced to.

Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

The reader of the book was also not very good. She used weird accents for some of the characters which seemed to come and go. Her voice for Regan made it seem like she was a whiny little girl instead of the corporate businesswoman she was set out to be. The voice for Sophie (one of the friends) sounds like a woman who smoked cigarettes for forty years.

I do not recommend reading, nor listening, to this book.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Update... of sorts.

I've been in the Pacific Northwest. It is beautiful and restful and I'm a little sad to be trading in mountains and trees for concrete and heat in New York. Oh well.

Rosalia, WA

Steptoe Butte
Steptoe Butte, WA

Biggs, OR

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I have only this to say about Crater Lake


I have been in California for the past two weeks and am now on the road to Washington.

Had a fabulous birthday in which B and I ....

(1) went hiking in Point Lobos State Reserve;
(2) had an hour long massage (part one of my bday present)
(3) did a little wine tasting, followed by dinner (I bought 6 bottles of wine - well, B bought two of them for me.)
(4) ruined the massage by spending our last three hours of the day on the boardwalk riding old people rides and playing mini golf.

Birthday = good.