What Life Dishes Out A Gluten Free and (almost) Vegetarian Cooking Blog

July 11, 2011

Front Yard Gardeners Unite!!!

Just a quick post about a story which is spreading like weeds, not just here in Michigan, but across the globe.   A family in Oak Park, Michigan has planted their front yard with a beautifully maintained vegetable garden and are facing persecution at the hands of the City as a result.   Here and here are a couple links to local and national news clips about the story.  And click here for this citizen’s own account of her “adventure” so far in blog format:

Although I personally don’t live in a subdivision, and don’t have to worry about complaining neighbors, in addition to the huge garden and greenhouse we plant, we are also Front Yard Gardeners.  Here’s a shot of our house taken last summer:

Tomatoes and Peppers and Basil, OH MY!!!  :-) 

Please stop on over to Julie’s Blog or her Facebook Page and show your support!  I know I’ll be watching the outcome of this story closely!   GO, Julie!!!

February 8, 2011

Love Soup

Filed under: Recipes,Soups,Vegan,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 2:15 pm

Yes, those are little carrot hearts!  Isn’t that sweet?  This is my husband’s veggie soup recipe which has always been a family favorite.  One Valentine’s Day, being the romantic that he is (cough, cough) he made it special for the occasion, turning the carrots into little love messengers!   Since that day, the recipe has been known as Love Soup! 

Love Soup Step By Step:

First, assemble your ingredients:

Note:  Those two suspicious looking jars in the back are NOT salsa.  Those are home grown tomatoes from last summer which have been blended, cooked and frozen in quart containers.  In leiu of frozen or fresh blended tomatoes, you can use canned tomatoes, but I’m warning you:  The flavor will not be near as good and I will not be held responsible for the results!

In addition to the items shown, you will also need:

1-2 Tbsp Oil – Olive or Canola

1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning Blend

Salt & Pepper

1-2 Jalepeno Peppers OR 1/2 Green Pepper

Red Pepper Flakes

First, put oil into a LARGE stock pot (this makes a ton of soup – about 8-9 quarts).  Now chop 1 large, or two medium, onions and add to the pot:

Next, chop 4 stalks celery.  Dont leave out the leaves!  (Oooh, I made a funny!)

Throw the celery into the pot with the oil and onions.

Chop 10-12 carrots. 

If you are looking for a romantic evening, you can cut them into hearts.  Heres how:

Cut a “V” into one side of the carrot.  Using a vegetable peeler, scale down the sides into the shape of a heart, and into a slight point opposite your cut-in “V”.  Like this:

Now, slice the length of the carrot. 

Aren’t they precious?  

Almost too cute to put in the pot, but do it anyway.

Turn on the heat and cook until onions and celery are slightly tender. 

While they are cooking, you can chop your potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.

Add them to the pot. 

If you are going to take a photo at this point, don’t get too close.

If you do, this is what will happen:

Then, you will have to clean your lens.

Add vegetable broth to the pot.

Drain and rinse 3 – 15 oz cans of beans.  You can use whatever variety you like. 

These are Light Red Kidney, Great White Northern, and Black Beans. 

They look very happy together, don’t they?

Add the beans to the pot.  Then, chop 1/2 head cabbage.

Throw it in!

Now, add the tomatoes and stir.  Place some of the soup mixture into your blender container. 

You’ll want it to be about 2/3 full.  Like this:

Take it for a spin!

Then, pour it in!

It looks gross, I know.  But you must trust me.

Add 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning:

We use a lot of this stuff, so I bought it in bulk. 

Here is the label:

I order most of my herbs and spices from Monterey Bay Spice Company and from Mountain Rose Herbs. 

Monterey Bay:  www.herbco.com

Mountain Rose: www.mountainroseherbs.com

Mountain Rose caters more to the organic product line, but both have great deals on bulk products.  You will pay WAY less for a 1/2 pound at either distributor than you do in the grocery store for a tiny little 2 oz bottle.  Just don’t order more than you can use in a six month period, because you don’t want your herbs to lose their health and taste benefits!

Now, for the other seasonings:

2 tsp Black pepper & 2 tsp Salt

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

How’s everybody doing in there?  Okay?  Good.

Now, for my favorite….Garlic!  You need 10 cloves.

Mince them up and add them to the pot. 

Incidentally, an easy way to peel the garlic is to place the cloves (or the whole head in this case) into the microwave on high for about 15 seconds.  When you cut the end of each clove, the skin should just slide right off.

Look!  It’s a CHILLY Pepper!  (hehehehehe)

These guys just came out of the freezer, and actually they are Jalapenos from our garden last year.  We just wash, dry and freeze them whole in ziploc freezer bags.

Remove the end and seed the peppers:

These guys are ready for a dip in the “hot tub”, I think.

Almost done. 

But I know what you’re thinking.

What about the corn?  Did she forget about the corn?

No.  I would never be so cruel.

The corn is special.  We wait to add it until after the soup is blended. 

You are going to have to take my word for it, because I didn’t take a photo, but ours went in now.

I swear.

Then we lightly sprinkled in some crushed red pepper flakes for a little zip.

If foam develops on the top of the pot during cooking, just skim it off. 

You’ll need to cook this soup over low/medium heat for 1 to 2 hours, stirring every so often.  

Then, remove the peppers and let it cool.  DON”T EAT IT!   

Okay…one little taste, just to check for seasoning.  Add salt and pepper if needed.  But don’t get carried away.  You really have to wait until the following day for the flavors to fully develop.

Heat and serve topped with parmesan cheese, with a nice crusty bread or crackers on the side.  This soup is so healthy and satisfying and completely guilt free, so no matter if you have more than a couple bowls!

Enjoy! And by the way, since you have SO much soup to share, invite the neighbors over to enjoy it along with you!

July 14, 2010

A Passage To India – Part 3: Spicy Green Beans

Filed under: Recipes,Sides,Vegan,Vegetarian,Veggies — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 12:50 pm

In part three of our Indian Night Trifecta, we’ll be tackling the simplest of the three dishes.  This doesn’t even require step-by-step photos, so my obvious lack of coordination in terms of cooking and remembering to take pics at the same time won’t even come into play.

You’ll need:

Green Beans (about a pound), washed and trimmed

Canola or Olive Oil

2 Cloves Garlic, minced (or roughly 1 tsp jarred garlic)

Salt

Red Pepper Flakes

What to do:

In large skillet or wok, heat 1 Tbsp Oil. 

Add garlic and beans, then sprinkle with salt.

Stir Fry for a few minutes over high heat, then  add a bit of liquid (water or broth), reduce heat to medium, and cover.

Let cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes (to taste), and stir fry for a few more minutes before serving beside your Spicy Lentil Dal and Indian Cauliflower

Bhog keejeeae   भोग कीजिए 

(“Enjoy!” in Hindi)

July 13, 2010

A Passage to India – Part 2: Indian Cauliflower

Filed under: Recipes,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , , , — admin @ 4:28 pm

Before this Indian Cauliflower came along, we’d eat our Spicy Lentil Dal with our Spicy Green Beans (recipe to follow soon).  It was a great meal, but the discovery of this sweet and flavorful cauliflower dish completes it perfectly, and now my husband won’t let me forego this dish on Indian Night, even if I’m feeling lazy.

You’ll need:

1 Large Head Cauliflower

1 Large or 2 Medium Sweet Onions (like Vidalia)

3 cloves Garlic

Pinch of Mustard Seed

Pinch of Cumin

1 tsp Powdered Ginger (or 2 tsp minced fresh)

1/2 tsp Turmeric

2 tsp Chili Powder

Vegetable Broth (Leftover from Spicy Lentil Dal recipe from yesterday)

Chopped Cilantro for garnish

To Make:

First, wash and cut the cauliflower into florets.  Set aside.

Measure the dried spices, except the Mustard Seed, into a small bowl.

Chop Garlic.

Cut off the stem end of the onions, and cut in half from root end to cut end.  Then, peel the papery skin off each half…

…and slice the length of each onion.

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp Canola Oil.

Add a pinch of mustard seed. 

When seeds begin to pop, add the remaining spices, garlic and onion and stir.

Cook until onions begin to wilt, adding broth as necessary so they don’t burn, then add Cauliflower to pan, along with a bit more broth.

Stir until cauliflower is coated in spices.

Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until Cauliflower is tender.  Sprinkle with Cilantro before serving.

Enjoy! 

As for me, I’m off to make Zucchini Au Gratin for dinner again, as our garden overfloweth!

July 12, 2010

A Passage To India – Part 1: Spicy Lentil Dal

This recipe came from a good vegetarian and fellow-homeschooling friend of mine, when our families were doing an Indian Feast as part of our Unit Study on the country.   I loved this dish immediately!  I pretty much demanded the recipe and have made it nearly weekly since.  It’s full of so many really good-for-you foods like Turmeric, Garlic, Onion and of course, Lentils.  This versitile dish can be served as your main course over Basmati Rice, or as a spread on freshly baked flatbread, or as a dip for chips! 

What you need:

2-3 cups Vegetable Broth

1 cup dried Lentils, well rinsed

1-2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 Large Onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp Yellow Mustard Seed

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

1/2 tsp Coriander

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

1 Tbsp Tomato Paste

Juice of 1 Lime

What to do:

In a medium saucepan, cook lentils in 2 Cups Vegetable Broth over medium heat until tender. 

While lentils are cooking, chop onion.  There is an easy way to do this:

Cut off stem end of onion.

Then, cut in half from root end to cut end…

…and remove outer skin.

Ooooh…they’re NAKED.

Now, cut in about 1/2 inch slices, but not all the way through to the root end.

Then, turn onion and slice the opposite direction.

Keep going…

TA DAH!  Chopped Onion – quick and easy!

Now, chop garlic. 

I can’t recommend an easy way to do this, but my preferred method is to ask my hubby to do it for me. 

He likes to play with knives anyway, just like my boys.

You can also use a garlic press or even jarred garlic, as those are my two back-up plans in the event he isn’t around and I am feeling too lazy to chop it myself.

I think my favorite step in this recipe is measuring all the wonderful, aromatic spices into a small bowl. 

It always makes me feel as if I’ve created a masterpiece.  Isn’t it pretty?

Now, heat the canola oil in a large skillet, then add the onions and garlic to the pan.

Saute for just a minute or two.  Then, add the spices. 

Warning:  This is going to smell really good.  You may need to grab a quick snack at this point, since this won’t be ready for a while.

Stir the spices around and continue to saute until your onions are translucent.

Then, add the coconut milk, tomato paste and lime juice to the pan.

Then, add the lentils.

It is with the utmost regret that I tell you I don’t have a photo of the remaining steps.

I will get better at remembering to take photos while cooking, I swear.

I just get so carried away with the cooking part to remember the photo-taking part.

I’m just not good at multi-tasking, I guess.

Again, I’m truly sorry.

Okay, so add the cooked lentils and let simmer until thickened.  You actually may have to add some vegetable broth at this point if the lentils have soaked up all the juice.  I usually add about another cup of liquid, and then let simmer until thickened back up.

Save the rest of the vegetable broth in the refrigerator (I buy mine in a 32 oz container) because you are going to need it for tomorrow’s recipe.

Fortunately, I did have sense enough to take a photo before I ate.

The Spicy Lentil Dal is up there between 12 and 3 o’clock, sitting happily atop Brown Basmati Rice, and beside Spicy Green Beans, and Indian Cauliflower.   I’ll be posting those recipes in the next two parts of this series, coming over the next couple days, so please check back!

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