Thursday, September 29, 2011

Almost Vegan Stuffed Ancho Chiles

Today, a large basket of home-grown fresh ancho chiles appeared at work from a mystery gardener. I happily took a few home, and used them to make a loosely inspired type of chili relenos: stuffed, some type of cheese and baked. From yesterday, I had leftover farro and  french lentils slow-cooked with tomatoes, hot chiles, and some taco powder (this recipe would also work well for stuffing, maybe some added rice). I baked the chili on a small bed of roasted red pepper soup (Trader Joes), and with sheep's milk feta on top (Daiya chedder would have been nice, too). I baked them for 45min at 425h uncovered in the toaster oven (30min would probably have been fine). Delicious!!

Farro Beluga Lentil Stuffing: (make 3 servings):
1/4 cup farro
1/4 cup beluga lentils
1/4 cup roasted red pepper soup, lowsodium (as the Trader Joes's brand)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 ts taco seasoning
1/2 hot chili pepper, minced
1/2 cup water or low-sodium broth
1 TB tomato paste
1/2 ts brown sugar


Place all ingredients in a small slow cooker, and cook on high for ca 3h.

chili_stuffed chili_stuffed2

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Simple 1lb wholewheat sandwich bread

I love to make sourdough bread in my Zojiurushi Mini Breadmaker, but due to negligence my sourdough bit the dust in the spring. This is a simple yeast wholewheat bread without a lot of fuss. Great for sandwiches and paninis!

  • 3/4 cup +2 TB  lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 cups  wholewheat flour
  • 1 TB organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 ts salt
  • 1 TB active yeast
  • 1 TB Baker’s dry milk powder (helps to make sure the bread rises)
  • Optional: 1 TB olive oil

Place water in bottom of breadmaker, then add the flour, mix in the salt, add the sugar, yeast and milk powder, and slightly mix the dry ingredients. Turn on the breadmaker; regular bread with light crust. It takes about 3 1/2 h.

 DSC_1112gr DSC_1121gr

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sister Cats

Yesterday, I saw “Sister Wives” for the first time, the reality show about a polygamist family, who had recently moved from Utah to Las Vegas. 4 wives, 1 husband and 16 kids. I am not trying to be judgmental watching the show, but I guess it rubs everyone a bit a weird way because we don’t grow up with the notion of polygamy. This is probably what makes people watch the show:”How can this work?” Seeing it from a practical standpoint it seems to make sense as long as you share a large home: free babysitting, lots of help around the house by the other wives with cooking and cleaning, built-in girlfriend time, what’s not to like? The hubz shuttling around houses every day (or other day or week? who knows) that seems not so much fun; I guess the one big house should also work better. But, one guy, many outspoken women and 16 children, I kinda feel a bit bad for the guy ;-)

This summer I added a 5th cat to the family. More or less, we have been adopted by the neighbors’ cat, a beautiful, but not always friendly orange tabby names Tigger. Neighbors have many children (ok, not 16), and more cats and a dog and somehow it looked a bit they forgot to feed Tigger because she was skin and bones, and so I put a food bowl out for her every day. Now, if I whistle for my cats, not only my cats but also she comes running. If I forget to put something out, she already waits at my door step when I come home.

She is a little bit like sister cat, living in 2 homes with two sets of parents, and she seems to like it just fine.

tigger

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Upgrading BodyMedia

Warning: geeky post for bodymedia users ahead. Skip if you don’t want to read through lengthy techno mambojambo.

I have been using the BodyMedia fit armband for almost 3 years now. These armbands are marketed under different names and brands, but it is basically the same technology (i.e. Gowear fit, Bodybugg mostly know from the Biggest Looser, Jenny Craig’s Metabolixmax, and they were available at 24h fitness for a while). It tracks your daily movements, and measures your activity level. It does not work very well for some activities (e.g. biking is undermeasured since the arm is relatively still and you can’t obviously use it in water. I’ve heard that people turn off the device for such activities and then add the activity manually later on in the application for the time period). I don’t need to be that accurate and just need ballpark.

Overall, besides the minor flaws it has been really helpful in having an more accurate estimation of my actual, personal, daily calorie burn. Little did I know that cleaning the house for several hours burns more calories than going for a 1/2h run. Or that sitting in front of the TV, engrossed, your body (or body meter) thinks you are actually taking a nap. Well, no big insights but matching actual daily calorie burn with calorie consumption has made weight-loss (or the lack thereof) much more transparent and took the mystery out of the process.

Lately, BodyMedia made an offer for current users to upgrade to a new armband with bluetooth technology to sync with a smartphone at a 50% discounted price. I currently don’t have a smartphone, but I have an IPad, and I was intrigued enough to try it out (note, the older version comes with an wristwatch-like device that displays the current caloric usage, but I found it unnecessary to have another gizmo and just uploaded the data once a day using a USB cable).

Long story short, the device arrived yesterday, and it’s been a bit of a journey to get things to work. I am writing this up just to leave a (public) note to myself but maybe it also helps someone else since I could not google much on this subject on the web.

BM_ipad_app
Read about upgrading to the bodymedia fit bluetooth armband below .

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ride like the Wind

Yesterday, on my bike ride home from the farmers market I suddenly realize the true source of the US obesity problem (read this: tongue in cheek..). Forget the stories about blaming fast food, subsidized corn, sugar sodas, starchy school lunches and dirty cheap happy meals. The true problem does not even have anything to do with food. And what caused the surprising insight?

On Friday afternoon, my car decided to die and had to be towed to the shop. Since the replacement part was not readily available it still is there. Since then, I biked and walked about everywhere: work, shopping, work, to the vet, you name it. I accumulated an extensive portfolio of physical activity that did not even classify as “time spent to exercise”. So, the true obesity culprit? THE CAR.

I admit my theory might be slightly flawed since in LA, people cannot really survive without a car and most people are physically fit (maybe because there are so many malls to go to?). But excluding LA, relying more on public transportation, bicycles and walking might be the kicker.

riding a bicycle

(source)

Friday, September 16, 2011

When is fall?

When does it feel like fall and things start to change? There are the obvious changes that suddenly people in the blog world go pumpkin crazy (pumpkin beer, pumpkin spiced latte, pumpkin protein pancakes, and pumpkin decorations, …..). I must admit I had my first pumpkin beer the other day and it did not taste like pumpkin at all but like nutmeg and a hint of cinnamon.

For me fall starts, when I make hot Mint Tazo tea instead of iced Passion Tazo tea. When lunch is sauteed kale with tofu and BBQ sauce instead of a fresh salad. When I start to cook soups for dinner. When I wonder how chilly it will be on my bike ride to work, and if I need a jacket. When I wake up to my cat being nestled next to me, keeping warm. Well, I am not wearing any socks and jacket yet, the leaves are still green in the trees and it is still warm during the day. Just a hint of fall….

delicata_squash

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kale Risotto

The days tend to get colder again. With this trends the number of soups and risottos I cook increases again. This is still a very light, summery risotto: with fresh kale and fresh sweet corn. Summer comfort food!

Kale Risotto (makes 2 servings)
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • 1 ts butter
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, microplaned
  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • ca 10 kale leaves, stems cut off, and leaves cut into thin strips
  • corn of one ear of fresh sweet corn
  • 1/4 ts of fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 ts of fresh thyme
  • salt, fresh ground pepper
  • some grated parmesan
Preparation:

Heat the olive oil  and butter in a heavy sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sweat until translucent. Then add the washed rice, stir and toast for 30 seconds on medium heat. Now, add the white wine, and wait until it is cooked off. 

Turn the heat to low, and start ladling in 1/4-1/2 cup of hot vegetable stock to the risotto. Also add the kale, the corn, the nutmeg and fresh thyme. Cook the risotto gently on low heat until the liquid is evaporated (4-5 min). Once the stock is cooked off, add another 1/2 cup of hot stock. Repeat until the rice is soft and cooked (about 25 min). Add parmesan and then salt and pepper to taste. Serve!

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chili Chocolate Protein Smoothie

It is a beautiful, bright, sunny September morning, just like 10 years ago, when I had just moved to Maine. I was in a store ordering furniture for my office, when the few people were standing in front of a TV, stunned. “Have you seen this?” the shop owner said. No, I had not. Both Twin Towers sent off big billowing clouds of smoke and we looked on, stunned. I thought of the people trapped in buildings, so many people. Then, one of the towers collapsed. It still painful to think of it, of all the lives lost but also the symbolic act of the Twin Towers collapsing. And the traumatic effect it had on the US.

After watching several tributes this morning, I needed something to cheer me up and bring me back to today’s sunny Sept 11. To be grateful for all the good things in my life. I needed a kick, so what better than to kick it up a notch with a fresh chili pepper in my morning chocolate smoothie? Chocolately, thick, sweet and with quite a kick in the end.

Chili chocolate smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (or chocolate powder, if you have it)
  • 1/2 TB cocoa
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 TB chia seeds
  • 1/4-1/2 chili pepper (depending on how hot the pepper is and how hot you like the smoothie)
  • optional: crushed ice

Mix all in the blender (vitamix perferred), and serve.

chili_choco_smoothie

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Late Summer Farmers Market

Today, the weather is bright and sunny, the temperatures are starting to come down and I actually had to wear a jacket biking to the farmers market. It won’t be long and I have to bundle up. The produce was bright, tomatoes, hot peppers, goat cheeses, organic beef and endless kid cuteness.

DSC_0671

Friday, September 9, 2011

Raw pink madness

The beets and the carrots are plentiful at the farmers market. Time for a banging raw salad: grated raw beets and carrots with a dressing of 3 TB mirin, 1 TB tamari, and 1 ts Roasted Sesame oil. Nothing else necessary!

DSC_0610r

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chanterelle and Red Kuri Squash Risotto

It is the time of the year again when the mild mushroom start to grow plentiful. Rain and still warm temperatures make the mushroom pop up everywhere in the forest. Chanterelles and porcini are my favorite wild mushroom, and chanterelles are a delicacy when they are fresh. Last week I have been lucky to find some and besides simply sauteing them risotto is my favorite way to cook wild mushroom. This recipe also adds the first red kuri squash of the fall 2011 season.

 chanterelle risotto fresh chanterelles red kuri squash

Red Kuri Squash and Chanterelle Risotto (makes 2 servings):

  • 1/2 cup Arborio rice, washed and rinsed
  • 1 ts butter
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet white onion, finely minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup of sliced, washed leeks (ca. 1/3 of a long stalk)
  • good splash of dry white wine
  • ca. 150g red kuri squash, peeled and diced
  • ca. 200g cleaned and sliced chanterelles
  • 1 1/2 cup of vegetable stock
  • 2 TB fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 TB (vegan) sour cream

Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and sweat until translucent. Then add the garlic and the leeks and saute for ca 1 min. Add the washed rice and stir and toast for 30 seconds. Add the white wine, stir gentle and wait until the wine is evaporated. Add the kuri squash and chanterelles. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and start laddling in 1/4-1/2 cup of heated vegetable stock to the risotto. Cook the risotto gently on low heat until the liquid is evaporated (4-5 min). Once the stock is cooked off, add another 1/2 cup of stock. Repeat until the rice is soft and cooked (about 20 min). Add the parmesan cheese and gently stir in. Serve!

The grass is always greener…. and the berries are pinker

The other day I was in Boston. It is good to check up on civilization once in a while, but it looked like I hadn’t missed anything. However, on my things to do was one thing: try out pinkberry. We have fabulous, local ice cream (Mount Desert Ice Cream, and Gorgeous Gelato, which are even given the thumbs up by the President), but there is not a single fro-yo store in Maine. Forget self serve. How are the tourists surviving? Since we are living under a rock but with the internet, we still know what we are missing out on. So, fro-yo it was. Watermelon, no toppings. I guess I am missing the boat again… No toppings?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Big’ n’ Tasty--- Vegan Lasagna

Big and tasty…… that reminds me of a burger, a big juicy burger. But this dish is really the opposite: a vegan lasagna. However, it is big and tasty in flavors, texture and satisfaction I am not missing any cheese or meat. Vegan lasagna often includes a layer made of tofu and spinach, but this combination can be quite bland in taste. I added several things to make sure this does not happen: some garlic, bouillon, grated nutmeg, and white wine, and a tablespoon of mint pesto and vegan sour cream. 

vegan lasagna
Vegan Lasagna: (Makes 4 large servings a 240kcal)
Spinach Tofu layer:
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • a bundle of fresh spinach  (or a bag of baby spinach)
  • 2 TB chardonnay (or white wine)
  • 1/2 ts bouillon (powder or cube)
  • fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 package of light tofu, drained in press
  • 1 TB vegan sour cream
  • 1 TB mint pistachio pesto (or handful of fresh mint, and a TB of extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 2 TB nutritional yeast
  • slat and pepper to taste
LASAGNA
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce (Giada’s Vegetabale Marinara at Target is my favorite)
  • 2/3 of a package of at lasagna noodles (I used Fiber Gourmet since they have 40% less calories)
  • some cured kalamata olives
  • a fresh tomato, sliced
  • 0ptional: vegan cheese like Daiya

Directions

To make Spinach filling: Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic in oil 4 minutes. Chop spinach and add to pan, together with bouillon, pepper, nutmeg and white wine, and cook 5 minutes, or until all liquid is evaporated. Drain and transfer spinach mixture to the bowl of food processor. Add drained tofu, vegan sour cream, nutritional yeast, pesto and purée until the mixture is thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Spread one-quarter of the marinara sauce on bottom of small, long baking dish. Cover with one-third of the (cooked or uncooked, works with both) noodles (break them up so that they fit width-wise), then add 1/3 of spinach filling, and ladle on another layer of sauce. Repeat twice. Finish with final layer of marinara sauce, some fresh sliced tomato, kalamata olives and vegan mozzarella.

Cover lasagna with foil, and bake 30 minutes first. Then uncover, and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, or until noodles are tender and topping is melted. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Bon appetite!

 untitled shoot-051

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fall superpowers.

My elderberry shrub is really a friendly plant. It is growing taller and taller (twice as tall as me?) but when the berries ripen it bends down like a commoner would bow meeting his Queen. The branches get so heavy from the weight of the ripening berries that they bend all the way down to the ground, and it is time for the annual elderberry harvest. I snip off the berries with scissors, and gently wash then. I remove the berries and cook then in a large pot filled with water barely covering the berries. Once the pot comes to a boil, I simmer the berries for 10min, and after that let it cool to room temperature for a few hours.
I pour the berries and (black) juice into a large sieve that has a large bowl underneath and capture the juice. Then I smash the berries for the last bit of tasty juice residue and discard them on the compost pile. The juice stores well for a few days in the fridge, and just needs a bit of sweetener.
Why elderberry juice? “Black elderberry has been used medicinally for hundreds of years.” (wikipedia) They are definitely a local ninja superfood, similar to blueberries. Who needs goji berries from far away?
 elderberry cooked elderberries elderberry juice