Thursday, December 14, 2006

what is this stuff?

Yesterday I picked up my CSA share and when I opened it up I was quite confused. Beets, potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, parsnips, carrots, cabbage - that stuff I know and like, if not love. But what is everything else? I consulted my handy 'bible' and got to searching. The giant green thing is kohlrabi, but is much bigger than any I had ever seen before. In the bag behind it is winter salsify, which I had never even heard of. Between the onions and potatoes are 2 radishes. Radishes the size of a softball. My dad would be very excited about these, but me? I'm not so sure. The final root vegetable is a giant turnip. Does anyone have any recipe suggestions for some of this stuff? Anthony is much braver than I, and said that we will try it all, but then made a very sad face and said 'are we going to be eating a lot of mashed foods?' So any non-mashed root vegetable recipes would be greatly appreciated.

I'll post the recipes I make up here as I try them.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

nutty oat cookies

Two posts in two days. Crazy, I know. I bought a new cookbook yesterday at my favorite bookstore (all Cooks Illustrated books are 10% off right now, so if you are looking for a good holiday present you should check them out) as a late birthday present to myself. Anthony already teases me for all the cookbooks I have (it's not like I have 101 or anything... yet), but I couldn't resist getting this one. First off, it's really comprehensive and there are a lot of tips and diagrams, which I always appreciate. It's huge and the recipes range from really simple to the ridiculous. There are plenty of recipes in there that are special occasion recipes (just because it's whole grain doesn't mean it's healthy), but there are even more that are simple, easy and nutritious.

Very often when I try to make a dessert that is healthy it winds up 'tasting like health', which I think is Anthony's way of saying 'tasteless' without making me feel bad. Dessert is dessert, however. It doesn't need to be fat free, sugar free and full of 100% of your daily vitamins and minerals. It's a treat and should be thought of as that, but it doesn't mean that I am going to start making cupcakes with almost 1 T of butter in them each to eat on a daily basis. There is a middle ground and I think these nutty oat cookies are a great example.

I've been seeing a lot of recipes with cashew butter in them recently. Bakingsheet had one up recently which extolled the mild flavor of the nut butter while making chewy cookies and Dreena Burton uses cashew butter to make a dip for fruits and veggies that is nice and mild. Armed with my new cookbook and a jar of cashew butter from Trader Joes, I thought I'd put both the butter and the cookbook to the test, and let me tell you they both passed with flying colors. Also, you only need one bowl to make these, so clean up is a breeze.

Nutty Oat Cookies, adapted from Whole Grain Baking

2/3 cup cashew butter (the original calls for peanut butter)
4 T (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
scant 3/4 cup sugar (I used sucanat)
1 t vanilla
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t sea salt
2 large eggs
1 cup oats (old fashion or quick, NOT instant) ground in food processor or blender for 30 seconds to form a coarse meal
1 1/2 cup oats
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c dried berries (I used a berry mix, but just cranberries would be great as well)

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper
2. In a large bowl, cream the cashew butter, butter, sugar, vanilla, baking soda and salt.
3. Add the eggs and mix until fully incorporated. Make sure to wipe down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything gets worked in.
4. Add in the oats, chips and dried berries.
5. Drop by the T onto the cookie sheets and bake for 11-13 minutes, just until the cookies begin to brown around the edges.
6. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan.

Makes 30 cookies.

It also helps to have a buddy around when you bake them to stare and sniff:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

just dump it into a pot lentil soup

This recipe is adapted from one in Fresh Food Fast. I've made it before many times, and I keep playing around with the amounts based on my mood. This time I added a lot more tomato and 2 teaspoons of minced ginger, but really there is no way you can go wrong with the soup. You put all the ingredients into a pot except for the spinach and lemon juice (the picture to the right), cook it all until the lentils are done, stir in the spinach, add lemon juice and you are done!

lemon lentil soup with tomatoes and spinach

1.5 c rinsed red lentils
28oz can diced tomatoes
3 T olive oil
8 (yes 8) cloves of garlic, peeled
2 t sea salt
2 t minced (or 4 quarter sized slices) ginger
1 spring rosemary
1 bay leaf
6-10 oz bag of baby spinach
2-3 T lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot combine everything except the spinach, lemon and extra salt and pepper. Add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.
2. Cover and reduce heat to medium low and let the soup simmer until lentils are cooked, about 30 - 40 minutes. Once the lentils are cooked remove the rosemary, bay leaf and ginger slices, if using. With the back of a spoon crush the cloves of garlic against the pot - the garlic will be soft and melt into the soup.
3. Add the spinach and stir until wilted and cooked.
4. Add lemon juice to taste, and season with salt and pepper.