Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I didn't go grocery shopping yesterday because I was low on time...

Cross posted in Kosher Cuisine

...due to yesterday's sudden recurrence of my obsession with organic food. What did I do for dinner? The only animal protein I had available was a can of sardines -- which I didn't dare use because hubby says he doesn't like sardines -- milk, cheddar and mozzarella cheese (already used lots of cheese for breakfast and hubby's lunch), and a single egg. I did have plenty of plant protein in the form of blackeye peas (which I didn't want to use because I prefer overnight soaking), soymilk (not much left), walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and some lentils. Help!

Google to the rescue! I think I searched for "recipe lentils nuts" and came up with this useful page. I decided to tweak the following recipe from that page, even though I was a little confused because some of the words were replaced with this weird "s&bp" or "s&gp" thing. I'll write next to each ingredient and step how I tweaked it. The original recipe will be bolded.

Lentil and Nut Cakes--or loaf

fresh white bread, 2 slices, crumbed (more volume than dried) ->I used instead a container full of crumbs of Delicious Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread that were in the fridge just waiting to be used in a recipe that called for bread crumbs.
1 C lentils (for this I prefer brown) ->I just used whatever I had left, which may or have not been a full cup.
2¼ C of slightly reduced veg stock OR water ->I used water to boil the lentils. I always use water if a recipe says stock or water because when I use stock, I use this expensive vegetable broth that's basically the only thing I can find that's both kosher and not full of icky stuff like sugar and lots of salt. I looked up how to make my own stock but I don't have a strainer as of yet.
1 med yellow onion, chopped ->I found about 3/4 of a large white onion in the fridge and sauteed that. I added a tomato and sauteed further for extra veg and extra flavor.
1 can black olives, coarsely chopped ->I was going to use instead a can of green olives that I thought I'd gotten, but they were nowhere to be found! So I just used what was left of a can of capers instead.
2 sprigs rosemary (around 8 inches each), minced ->I took a random number of leaves off of our rosemary from our brand-new garden! :) I forgot to mince them. I used some whole in sauteing the lentils, the onion and tomato, and threw some more into the final concoction for extra flavor.
nut of choice, at volume of choice, only partially toasted (a couple minutes at 300°) ->I used some walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds. I didn't bother to toast them at all, as I knew they would be baked with the final dish and I didn't want them to get burnt.
salt ->I sprinkled a little in the sauteing onion and tomato.
ground black peppercorns ->I have only ground pepper but I couldn't find it until well after dinner was made. Good thing, because it came out delicious without the pepper!
ground green peppercorns ->I didn't have any of those.
white wine ->I didn't have that either but I figured the vinegar from the capers would be a good substitute. (I'm no expert, but I guess that was ok.)
butter ->I was low on butter, but I did have some Earth Balance Buttery Spread (I usually use butter but I have that on hand to use with meat) so I used that instead. I only put some into the final concoction.
ev olive oil ->I use canola oil, as it's considered to be a healthy oil and it's cheaper than olive oil.
1 lg egg, whisked ->I didn't bother to whisk the egg; I just tossed it into the mixture.
Melinda’s Extra Hot Habanero Sauce or store or home hot sauce of choice ->I used instead some 365 Everyday Value Mild Salsa that I had on hand.
cooking spray ->I never use cooking spray anymore -- it's expensive and I don't think it's natural -- and I didn't even grease the pan at all because there was already a lot of oil and buttery spread in it.

In a saucepan, saute lentils over high heat in oil with s&bp until some brown and the aroma increases. Turn heat to low, add stock or water, s&bp. Simmer uncovered (not a low boil, so 1 bubble roughly 5-10 seconds) around 1¼ hr. S&BP again around ½ hour into it. Finish with a little butter, s&bp.
->I sauteed the lentils with rosemary, added water, and let it boil before turning it down to a simmer. I think I let it simmer for approximately the time stated.

Sweat the onion in oil, s& bp. Add ¾ C white wine, s&bp&gp and a little butter. Cook around 5 minutes. Finish with s&gp.
->I heated the oil in a skillet, added onion, sauteed for bit, then decided to chop up a tomato and add it. I sauteed it for a bit longer, then added a little salt and rosemary.

Crumb bread in food processor. Pulse nuts a few times if you wish.

Whisk egg with s&bp. Add butter (about 1 inch of a quarter pound stick). Add hot sauce to taste. Combine everything. Stir. S&GP to taste. Check seasonings ->I don't currently have a food processor but my bread was basically already in crumbs. I just left my nuts and seeds whole. I began mixing everything together, without whisking the egg, and with the buttery spread instead of butter and salsa instead of hot sauce. I added more fresh rosemary to the whole mixture. I tasted it. It tasted slightly strange because of the raw egg (not recommended if you're concerned about salmonella from raw eggs) but otherwise good.

Spray and fill the ramekins (I have 1 C ones). Put into a 350° oven around 20 minutes.
->It was still kind of soft after that amount of time, but it tasted delicious!

Tons of variations/omissions/additions possible. But I think green peppercorns are pretty important. They make things so round and supple.
->I'm so glad I made it anyway, even without the green peppercorns!

This post was written in response to a comment on Facebook.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Buy organic food!

Cross posted on Environmental Tip of the Week

Yes, it tends to be more expensive but organic growing practices are much better for the environment, and for health as well. Of course, the environment and health are connected. Folks, I just learned that workers at non-organic ("conventional") farms have died due to constant exposure to chemicals!

Where to buy organic food? A lot of regular grocery stores, like my QFC at University Village, now carry some. You can also check out Whole Foods if there's one near you. Don't forget to look around you for small, local organic stores. Google it if you can't find any organic food nearby just from browsing at your regular grocery store or walking (or riding) around outside. Look for specials if you can; sometimes an organic item will be marked down to the same price as a non-organic, or even lower.

What about kosher organic? A lot of packaged items that are marked organic also have kosher certification. Of course, fresh fruits and veggies are kosher in any case, though I know some people are very careful about lettuce and such. You might have trouble finding meat that's both kosher and organic. If there's none available where you live, you can order online. (They seem to be out of stock or almost out of stock for a number of items. People have probably placed their orders already for Passover. Also it's expensive, even before shipping costs are added on. But you don't have to eat meat every day!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gratitude to Bliss Project, Day 5

Cross posted in The Daily Yay!

1. I'm grateful that I did not accidentally delete the email draft where I'd saved links to recipes I'll be using for the week.
2. I'm grateful for my father-in-law and step-mother-in-law who took us to the
Children's Museum despite the rain.
3. I'm also grateful that they treated us to kosher Chinese afterward at Bamboo Garden.
4. I'm grateful that the food was good, even though it's a vegan restaurant so the general tso's "chicken" was made with tofu. Rena, who LOVES chicken, appeared to not be able to tell the difference: She scarfed it up the way she would scarf up real chicken.
5. I'm grateful Rena has her own bedroom, where she falls asleep fast usually and often stays asleep until morning.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gratitude to Bliss Project, Day 2

Cross posted in The Daily Yay!

I received a welcome email that requested the following:

It's important to set your intention. Please take a moment to think about and write down what you are hoping to get out of your participation in this project.

My response: I hope to gain a more positive outlook on life by emphasizing the good things in life, and a greater love for G-d for having given me this wonderful gift of life.

Now, on to today's list of five yays:

1. Another day of life. As part of daily Jewish practice, we say a prayer first thing in the morning thanking G-d for returning our soul.
2. Hubby woke up at 5-something in the morning and asked what time it was. We don't have a clock in our bedroom so I reached for my cell phone, which serves as my time piece for the night. I couldn't find it next to the bed, so I used hubby's iPhone to call it and found it in my purse in the closet by the front door of our apartment. Yes, I could have checked the time on the iPhone, but you see, my phone also serves as our morning alarm. I'm grateful that he woke up before we had to get him ready to go to work because without the alarm next to my bed we probably would have overslept. Sure, this happens occasionally, but this is a new job that he started a few weeks ago and it would have made a bad impression.
3. I had the best, healthiest breakfast ever this morning! I started by pouring some Ezekiel 4:9 Almond cereal into a bowl. This was the first time I'd tasted it; I'd found it at Whole Foods yesterday where I'd taken the opportunity to do some shopping because I'd gone to a shoe store nearby to buy hubby new sneakers. I though it tasted kind of like Grape Nuts so it needed something extra. Last night, I'd taken some medjool dates and mixed them with unsweetened cocoa into a doughy ball to make a quick dessert for hubby. (I'd made and enjoyed some for myself for lunch during the day and he said it sounded yummy.) I got the idea from a Yahoo! article I read awhile ago, believe it or not, that suggested rolling dates in cocoa. There was some left over so I broke it into small pieces and mixed it with the cereal, then I poured fat free milk over it. I savored every bite! :)
4. My parents- Even though I'm an adult living far away, they still concern themselves with me, keep me updated on their lives, and take interest in what I've been up to.
5. Lots of healthy snacks from Whole Foods, in addition to the cereal!
 -Raw Revolution Cashew and Agave Nectar (I got a box of ten bars cuz they're so good!)
 -Food Should Taste Good Jalapeno tortilla chips
 -365 Everyday Value Thick & Chunky Salsa to go with the tortilla chips
 -three healthy varieties of Snyder's of Hanover pretzels:
   -whole wheat and oat
   -8 grains and seeds
   -honey whole wheat (we haven't tried these yet but I'm grateful for the opportunity to try a new flavor!)
 -Flamous Organics Falafel Chips (I got the spicy ones this time; another new flavor opportunity!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dancing: Great Fun and Great Exercise! :)

Cross posted on The Daily Yay!

I recently saw this video of the staff of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world's largest nutrition school, taking a dance break in the middle of their work day:

Today, while home with Rena and doing some work for my online shop, I felt really energized after eating some quinoa and mushroom skillet for lunch. I decided to take a half hour to turn on some music and dance while playing around with Rena. Sorry, there's no video of us because I can't really video while dancing and hubby is away at work during the day.

What fun I had! It made me really happy; in fact, I could pinpoint the exact moment the endorphins started to kick in. I think I'll be incorporating a half-hour dance break into my regular routine, at least on days I don't walk anywhere; i.e. days I neither go grocery shopping at QFC or Whole Foods, nor to synagogue for Shabbat services. It's much more enjoyable, and I get the chance to express myself freely and work my whole body. You can try it now, if you're alone or at least at home or another place where people won't be bothered: Press play on the above video or your favorite dance music, then get up and DANCE! :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Let's get cooking! :)

This inspirational video encourages cooking for healing.

From: BeamanGarcia  (Andrea Beaman)

It's amazing! When my husband and I first got together, I had no idea, really, how to cook. I knew I had to when we got married. Sure, I helped cook at Midreshet B'erot Bat Ayin when I went there during our long engagement, but since I had no clue what I was doing, I just kind of let whoever I was cooking with take over. She would usually assign me to chop veggies, which I'd done before. I still didn't know what I was doing when it came to the actual cooking part, i.e. how everything fit together; and I was always afraid of ruining food if I tried to cook. When I got back to the US, my then fiance just kind of threw me into the kitchen to cook dinner. Slowly, slowly, I discovered that, with enough practice, I could begin to make things up. That's hit or miss, though, and I've discovered that, for me to have almost guaranteed success, I have to follow a recipe. The bonus of using recipes is that I avoid getting stuck in a rut because I discover recipes online from sites like Food.com that have ingredients I would never have thought of on my own. How does all this relate to health? When you cook, you have complete control over what goes into your body, and it's good to experiment with a variety of foods to see what's healthiest for you. When you eat prepared food, there are so many added ingredients that you would never want to use in your own cooking, like high fructose corn syrup.