Category Archives: Food

Roasted Vegetables (part two)

I shared my easy Roasted Vegetables here. This is a somewhat different version (in cooking/eating I find you got to mix things up to keep yourself interested, at least I do).

I used chopped carrots, sliced mushrooms, a cut up green pepper, sliced red and white onions, cut up potatoes, and green beans.

I have to show you these green beans because they were the most beautiful, fresh ones I’d seen in a store in a long time and have not seen since. I can’t bring myself to buy those tired, old gnarly green beans I usually see.

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I had not seen “store” beans this nice in years

I coated the prepped vegetables with mustard, coarse sea salt and Italian seasoning (I use a lot of Italian so I bought this big canister from Amazon & wrote on the date I opened it for reference).

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I put them on a big cookie sheet. When I go to this trouble I make A LOT so I get a couple days’ servings. Cook at 400° stirring occasionally till vegetables are tender/done.

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So good!

Because sometimes a philosophical, analytical gal needs be literal

I like cooking – and I LOVE eating – and as such have the great majority of my meals at home. To that end, I have a few kitchen conveniences: a blender, a food processor attachment for said blender, a single serve blender, a rice cooker, an electric mini chopper, a coffee maker, an electric coffee grinder, a toaster oven, a microwave, a bigger toaster oven, an unused slow cooker (I’ve been slow to figure its best uses), and a peg-legged electric skillet. I think that’s everybody.

I also like Amazon a lot. It is easy to hop online and become entranced by all the lovely things for sale. Don’t worry – I do more looking than buying. Now I knew already that a gadget that exclusively boils water existed. Such appliances have been around a long time, before Amazon existed. But I’d never had one and shopping Amazon got me to thinking wouldn’t that be a nice thing to have in winter? Hot tea? Hot cocoa? Boom! Done!

Then I remembered something. Something I knew and had forgotten. The coffee maker boils water.  Duh! Right. Coffee. Boiling water. A winter or two ago this novel idea had occurred to me but I had forgotten. All you have to do is leave the coffee grinds out. This winter, however, after I remembered I wasn’t taking any chances.

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Silly as it seems my little sign worked. I boiled water for hot tea or hot cocoa. I didn’t need a hot water dispenser. I had one. It’s so literal but sometimes my mind needs very clear instructions. I could probably take my little note down now but I kind of like it. And I might forget between now and next winter. It also makes me think of other signs for the kitchen appliances:

I keep things cold!

I nuke food!

I keep your food from rotting!

I make the noise equivalent to a pneumatic jackhammer while blending frozen drinks!

I cook everything at 350° no matter what you set my dial to!

I was salvaged from the curb and have two homemade peg legs made from screws but I still cook pancakes like a champ!

I’m an elderly kitchen appliance over 20 years old and am probably made of the plastic that’ll put you in an early grave but I still chop tiny amounts of food and am really cute!

I never get used but you keep promising you liar!

 

No-meat sandwich

I always really liked sandwiches. However, I’ve gotten away from eating/making them. This is at least in part because I think of sandwiches as meat-based and since these days – and for many years – I’m mostly-vegetarian, sandwiches just kind of dropped out of my food repertoire. Clearly I needed to broaden my sandwich horizons.

On Sunday I was milling around the grocery store trying to decide what I wanted when I struck upon the idea of a sandwich. I sprung for fancier ingredients than I’d normally buy and that, combined with foods I already had at home, could make for tasty sandwiches. I had two of them Sunday, one Monday and had the last (with all the fancy ingredients) today.

First I toasted two slices of whole wheat bread, then slathered on a thick layer of ready-made, refrigerated hummus.

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I added one slice of provolone cheese.

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Next came marinated artichoke hearts from a jar. Canned artichoke hearts could also work.

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I had bought a tomato and all I had left were these end pieces. Pretend they look better.

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One sliced, hard-boiled egg was next.

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Normally this would be a good time to pile on lettuce. You will not be seeing that here as lettuce is currently running an obscene $3/lb. I don’t need to know why; I’m sure it is because of bad weather, floods, or toads falling from the sky wherever it is the lettuce comes from. Instead – and I’m very proud here – I used the first four mature Spinach-Mustard Greens I am growing in a pot outside.

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Lastly, I almost forgot I had bought a red onion today, so I had to open my sandwich back up to add these. Red onions aren’t for everyone but I’m mad for them. If I’m going to eat them raw like this I do it if it’s the last meal of the day and/or I don’t plan to be around people because they are pungent!

 

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It was delicious and filling

Easy Kale chips

The word kale used to make me shudder. The way my mother served it when I was a child was to blame. My memory of it was a bitter, boiled, unseasoned soggy mess that pooled discolored water on your dinner plate which floated over and infiltrated the other foods, a further insult to trying gag the vegetable down. It was a LONG time before I went near the stuff again. It’s good I did because kale is nutrient packed (high in fiber, Vitamins A, C and K with lesser amounts of protein, Vitamin B6, calcium, folate, magnesium, copper, potassium and iron) and it does not have to be disgusting!

Kale is a cool-weather annual and tastes best in season. My opinion is that kale grown in warmer weather is more likely to be(come) tough and bitter. It should be a beautiful deep green. If it’s yellowing it’s old.

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I took a kale chip recipe and simplified it. I am ALL for short cuts in cooking. First I wash the kale. I use my salad spinner and break it up into roughly bite-size pieces, tearing off the toughest, thickest stems closest to the bottom. If you want an extra step, you can first put the kale pieces in a mixing bowl but I put them directly onto a large cookie sheet. I add a capful of canola oil, a capful of cider vinegar, a bit of cayenne pepper and a little coarse sea salt and mix them up so that all the kale is coated. Adjust the seasonings to your taste; I love spicy/hot but if that’s not for you, just eliminate the cayenne. I’ve just discovered the easiest way to mix is by hand (it keeps the kale from leaping off the cookie sheet) but a spatula works too.

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I cook the kale in a 400° oven for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times. The goal is crispy but not burnt so it’s important to keep an eye on it. A higher oven temp speeds things along but necessitates more stirring as we aren’t aiming for carcinogenic kale chips.

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Kale clearly has high water content  – see how much it cooks down (and don’t look at my discolored pan)

Now I’m not gonna kid you. These aren’t anything like potato chips but they DO have a delicate, satisfying crunch. Completely different from steamed kale, say. This is now my favorite way to cook kale.

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Isn’t that pretty? And nothing is floating around!

 

Or they may have fallen off the back of a truck in Tajikistan. Who can really be sure of these things?

These pitted prunes (aka “dried plums”) are a store brand from CVS. The carton looks normal enough from the front.

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I was idly reading the label last night when I read the origin(s) of the fruit.

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Easy Bean Soup with Vegetables

I didn’t grow up eating beans. The most I remember were baked beans that were served when we had hot dogs for dinner, the latter of which was an infrequent treat. Those beans were nasty and kind of creamed but they were non negotiable.

Many years back I started educating myself on nutrition and beans became a staple in my diet. Beans are filling, nutritious, fiber powerhouses. I love chickpeas/garbanzo beans above all others but also like black beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, white beans, and lentils. Some people don’t like beans because of the gas but one thing I read early on was that the more you eat beans the less that is a problem and it’s true (not just something they say to talk you into eating more beans).

The other day I saw a bean soup mix on sale for $2 so I bought two packs. Generally I don’t pay more than a dollar a pound for beans as one of their attributes is their low price. However, a mix of bean types is always priced higher. One time I made my own bean soup mix by combining a variety of beans I had on-hand but I assure you I got nowhere near 15.

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The first thing I did/do is toss out the little chemical packet of flavoring that comes with the soup. Dry beans need to soak overnight so I put these in a big jar covered with water in the refrigerator so they’d be ready to cook the following day.

This winter I treated myself to a wonderful purchase, a deep stock pot. I love it! In it I sautéed a smallish chopped up onion in a little canola oil, stirring occasionally. After the onion had cooked, I filled the pot half way with water and added the now-drained beans. I don’t always add vegetables but I had some ready to use, so I added half a pound of fresh green beans cut in half, and a little over half a pound of sliced carrots, all of which I brought to a boil. If you don’t bother adding vegetables it’s still a healthy, filling soup.

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I turned the pot down to a simmer and added fresh ground pepper and some fresh Rosemary from my herbs. (You can add whatever you like.) After about an hour I tasted the largest bean to make sure it was cooked as well as a green bean and carrot slice. Near the end of cooking I added a 28oz can of rinsed, diced tomatoes and a generous splash of balsamic vinegar. Vinegars are a great way to add flavor without salt or more fat (the only fat in this is the canola oil for sautéing; you can even saute with just water for no fat). I add the vinegar toward the end of cooking so the flavor doesn’t all cook off.

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With the canned tomatoes added near the end of cooking since they are already cooked

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