Monthly Archives: April 2012

Green Sushi Salad

So I finally got a chance to try Green Kitchen Stories’ Green Sushi Salad (we talked about it a few weeks ago) and I have to admit, I’m not SUPER impressed, for a few reasons.

First of all, here it is!

First of all, I totally took out the seaweed about five second after snapping this picture. I thought that this would make me warm to it, but honestly, seaweed tastes super gross 😦 hahaha.

Also, I’m not really into the whole raw mushroom thing. They’re soooo much better cooked. I think next time, I would cook the mushrooms down a bit, just like they blanch the broccoli.

There ARE serious upsides to this salad, though. I used raw leeks instead of green onions, and they were fantastic. Also, the tofu marinade/salad dressing was SUPER. Here’s a picture of the tofu marinading:

Marinated Tofu
300 g tofu
5 tbsp sesame oil
5 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 clove garlic
1/2 red chili
2-inch (6 cm) fresh ginger, peeled and minced

And then you just let that chill in the fridge for two hours or so.

So I think in the future, I would make this more like a stir fry, with a bunch of raw components. (Snap peas, avocados, cucumber)

I also was a little more into this recipe yesterday than I am today. It was good when I was eating it, but I couldn’t quite get myself to take the leftovers with me to work today for lunch.

Oh well! I AM going to try their lasagna tonight when Bill gets back from Iowa, and I think later in the week I’ll also have a post about something called “Mexican Lasagna” that we had this weekend at a friend’s house. It will blow your mind!

Also, on the non-food front, I’m knitting a sweater! I don’t have any pictures right now, but I’ll show you when I’ve made a little more progress. It’s super cool.

L

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Fight the Food Fight

Hi Lauren!

So the theme of my post today is food justice. These issues are fresh on my mind after doing the food justice urban hike-a-thon this weekend with CAGJ to raise funds for the new book. I learned so much about my local food shed and the amazing work communities are doing to take back their food systems and promote social justice, self-reliance and strengthen their local economy!

What You Need to Know about Food Justice

Terms

Food: For people who advocate for food justice, food is seen as a basic human right. Good, safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in adequate quantities is fundamental to sustain a healthy life and promote human dignity. For more see: http://www.viacampesina.org/en/

Food Justice: Food Justice is when communities exercising their right to grow, sell and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate and grown locally with care for the well being of the land, workers and animals. People practicing food justice leads to a strong local food system, self-reliant communities and a healthy environment. For more see: http://justfood.org/food-justice

Food Sovereignty: A term coined by Via Campesina, namely, the claimed “right” of peoples to define their own food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries systems, in contrast to having food largely subject to international market forces. The policies surrounding food sovereignty encourage people to take back their food system. For more see: http://www.viacampesina.org/en/

Sustainable agriculture: Sustainable agriculture is a way of raising food that is healthy for consumers and animals, does not harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances rural communities. For more see: http://www.sustainabletable.org/intro/whatis/

Some Issues in Food Justice

Food desserts: Areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, which are most prevalent in low-income, minority neighborhoods and communities. These deserts are linked to diet-related health issues and obesity due to an abundance of fast food and processed foods and supermarket shortages. According to the US Dept. of Agriculture, 23.5 million Americans currently live in food deserts, including 6.5 million children.

Agricultural subsidies: Large agri-businesses get fixed prices from the government ($60 billion in 2008) for food production, making staple foods (like wheat, corn, and soybeans) unnaturally cheep. Not only has this had serious health consequences for Americans, making the least nutritious foods most affordable, but it has destroyed the livelihoods of millions of small farmers around the world and increased starvation for the international poor.

Farm worker rights: The primary goal of industrial farms is to maximize profits, even if it threatens the well-being of farm workers, the men and women who help bring food to our tables. Workers on industrial farms and those in the food-processing industry are often subject to hazardous working conditions and unfair labor management practices. Also, immigrant workers generally face hurdles in asserting their legal rights, due to limited English language skills, poverty, and lack of familiarity with the laws and regulations governing their work.

GMO crops: There is an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of genetically modified organisms in our food system. From the lack of seed sovereignty and crop diversity that goes along with GM crops, we have witnessed everything from hundreds of farmer suicides in India to issues of toxicity and patent problems, putting many smaller farms out of business.  However, there is also a flipside in the debate on GM crops, which is that they can improve the shelf life and the nutritional quality of food, feed the world’s poor, and lead to more effective bioremediation and disease treatment.

How to get involved

The Farm Bill that will set policy for the next 5 years is currently under debate, so contact your local reps, join the fight with a local nonprofit or your community, and make your voice heard in any way you can! If these issues surrounding food, health, social justice and dignity are as important to you as they are to me, then be the change YOU wish to see…

 

Rosemary Rice & Beans

Fresh greens

Rice

Black beans

Roasted veggies

Fresh parsley and rosemary

Rinse greens and prepare rice with a large stem of rosemary. While heating beans, grill or roast veggies. Arrange greens on bottom, add rice and vegetables, and top with lots of veggies. Place lots of fresh herbs on top. Would also pair well with roasted chicken, grilled/steamed fish or fried tofu! Enjoy and remember, fight the food fight! XO

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Crazy for Kale

Hi Lauren,

This week Dennis took off to Germany to do his interview at the University of Heidelberg, so I’ve been eating out quite a bit and trying to use up what I have in the fridge to avoid going grocery shopping. I found a huge head of kale so I had some fun and tried to spice it up with a few other things I had lying around. Both of these recipes turned out to be delicious! And the fried chicken/sweet potato curry was awesome too!

Kale & Parmesan

A bunch of kale

Olive oil

Raisins

Toasted sunflower seeds

Grated parmesan cheese

Steam kale with a little bit of water, olive oil and salt for 10 min. Add raisins and steam with lid on for another 5 min. Add sunflower seeds and grate lots of fresh parmesan on top. Let it melt, and add some more. Use as a side green- it’s excellent with some fried chicken and curry which I had with it.

Spring Vegetables a la Quinoa

Bunch of kale

Carrots, chopped

Kalmata olives, chopped

Corn (I use frozen)

Garbanzo beans

Flat leaf parsley

Herbed chicken

Steam kale and carrots with a tiny bit of water and kosher salt for 15 min. Cook or fry chicken with lots of herbs and lemon, cook quinoa, and add the rest of ingredients to the kale. Serve quinoa and veggies together or separate. Top with fresh herbs and love.

p.s. I dont know if you’ve looked on my crowdrise page recently, but I’ve raised over $850 towards the new book on food justice! I can’t believe it… and you are so awesome for having contributed. Just thought I’d add that!

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Involtini di Melanzane

So, this week, MyNewRoots had a post about eggplant… I’m sorry. Aubergine. But it’s an aubergine recipe from Green Kitchen Stories that really got me pumped up about cooking today.

So good, it requires my second post of the day.

Here’s the filling, (quinoa, feta, pistachios, capers, onion, garlic, 1 raw egg):

This then gets rolled up into roasted eggplant slices:

Then top with a spicy tomato sauce:

This may be my new FAVORITE thing.

Here’s the whole recipe!

Go Make It!

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The Weekend

So, this weekend I couldn’t really post a recipe, because I didn’t cook! Bill and I went out to dinner, just the two of us, on Friday, and then Saturday was our monthly “Restaurant Club” with Raisa, Andy, Beata, Brett (not this month), Simon (not this month), Matt Chan, and various other friends.

This month, the restaurant was my choice, and I chose this ADORABLE restaurant in Pilsen, Chicago’s latino neighborhood, called “La Casa de Samuel.”

It. Was. Amazing. There is a woman who stands at this little station near the door and hand presses and makes all the corn tortillas. They’re so delicious, I can’t even describe. Here is what I got: (Carne Asada Tampiqueña)

Steak with roasted whole jalapeños and green onions, guacamole, beans, rice, and a tortilla cooked in mole. The tortilla on the left is one of the ones made fresh by the woman at the door. They were so fluffy and fantastic.

Bill took a video (see next post).

Well, because this was so good and rich, we needed to tone it down on Sunday, so we made a lovely salad which we ate with our bread (which we made again this weekend, but this time with 1/3 wheat flour) and some boiled peanuts, which I totally love. (Boil peanuts in salt and pepper for 4 hours). This stuff is easy, so you don’t need a recipe, but here’s a picture:

Then we played scrabble… which I won!

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Field of Greens

My goodness, this week has been crazy. Not only because of what I already mentioned to you, but I’m now in San Francisco and leave tomorrow for Napa! I’m also trying to juggle these internships, classes, and eat healthy meals along the way. Not so easy, but I did manage to crank out this amazing platter of veggies and other good stuff last night so my precious greens wouldn’t go to waste while I’m away. 

I love these nutrient-packed meals for a few reasons 1) they are super easy and 2) they are beautiful and you can mix and match tastes, textures, just like a cheese plate… except you can eat more! and 3) It reminds me of the kinds of dinners mom used to make all the time when we sat and watched movies/tv while we ate (which was not often, but surely memorable)

As you know, you can put any myriad of different things. Here is what I put, and I paired it with my homemade french loaf and aged cheddar cheese… and a beer of course. Can’t get too healthy now.

Field of Greens

greens dressed with olive oil and lemon, raw heirloom tomatoes, chopped carrots, raw salted cucumbers, artichokes marinated in olive oil and herbs, kalamata olives, and pan-fried chicken tenders with lots of spices, chili and fresh italian parsley

So thats it! Super simple and very delicious. I recommend keeping lots of canned vegetables in the cupboard (hearts of palm, red pepper, artichokes, olives, beans) so you can pull them out to make a spontaneous and plentiful field of greens! 

K

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Portabello and (Peach) Plum Burger

So, today I was a little bored at work. I don’t have a TON to do, so I spent time on a bunch of food blogs. I really wanted to jump in and make a few recipes from Green Kitchen Stories, since I’ve totally fallen it love with it!

So here’s the first of three that I bought ingredients for when Bill and I went to the store today. 

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Side Story about the Store: Where do you get all your fancy ingredients for recipes!? I have to drive to Strack and Van Till (which is not a very fancy grocery store, and anything fancy is really expensive) and my local cheap option is really limited in scope!
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Portabello and Peach Burger

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  • 6 Portobello mushrooms
  • 6 peaches
  • 6 sweet potatoes
  • 6 burger buns of your choice
  • 100 g fresh pea sprouts
  • 5 small roman tomatoes, sliced
  • 5 small spring onions, sliced
  • fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Marinade Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper

Guacamole Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 5 small Roma tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Everything is pretty self explanatory, with a few exceptions. You grill (or use a grill pan for) the mushrooms and peach/plums. Also, they have a genius way of rubbing the marinade on the peaches/plums and mushrooms. Use a stalk of rosemary as a brush! The rosemary flavor ends up coming out really strongly. Especially in the fruit. 

Also, though the recipe calls for peaches, there weren’t any at the store. We used yellow plums and they were just as good! A little more bitter, but very yummy.

I was really excited to make this recipe because I could also use my bread (the one below) as the burger buns! It worked perfectly. 

They were so good! We also made sweet potato fries with fresh thyme. They’re also excellent, and super easy (I’m sure you’ve made these before.) Bill didn’t think he would like them (since he’s not a huge sweet potato fan—too sweet) but we both ended up gobbling them up!

I’m really excited to try more recipes later this week! 🙂

Lauren

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TV Dinner done right

I whipped this up on Friday night before plunking down on the couch to watch one of my favorite go-to movies, The Princess Bride. I don’t know what to call this meal, mainly because it’s so simple to put together. It has great flavors, with guacamole and mango/papaya salsa, but what I love most about this dish is its vibrant color! I’m totally a believer that food is better when it looks fantastic too.

In case you want to make the salad for this dish, it’s really simple and delicious. I got inspired to use my sesame oil after eating this amazing lunch at a local organic cafe (below) which was a bowl of brown rice, spinach, baked tofu and grilled asparagus with a warm miso and shiitake mushroom vinaigrette. So, keeping with the Asian theme, I jazzed up these mache greens with some sesame oil, a sprinkle of good sea salt, and some shaved fresh carrots- which have a funny likeness to spaghetti… Mmm… are you thinking what I’m thinking? So, that’s it. Long gone are the days of Hungry Man. Now its just hungry Karla looking for a TV dinner done right.

Mache and Sesame Spaghetti Salad

Mache or micro greens, rinsed

Sesame oil

Sea salt, just a touch

carrots, shaved with peeler

Toasted sesame seeds

Asparagus Miso Bowl by Choco Canyon Cafe

Here’s to the joy of cooking and to us! -Karla

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Bread, plain and simple

Hi Karla,

So, today I made bread, which you already know about since I talked to you a bunch today (setting up this blog and what not) and I already sent you one picture. 

Bill and I have been into making bread for some time now, but we haven’t quite gotten it together. It’s probably been about 5 months or so since we bought all the fixings for making Russian Black Bread. If you don’t know much about Russian black bread, I can tell you this: It’s not for the amateur bread maker, which we discovered much to our chagrin. It uses white, wheat and rye flower, coffee, nuts, lots of spices, cocoa powder and much more. It’s a really rich, 18-ingredient bread. (Or something like that.) 

Needless to say, the bread came out a powdery, though edible, mess. We ate what we could and trashed the rest. Since then I have been looking for some good bread recipes for the more amateur bread maker. Thankfully, Smitten Kitchen always comes to the rescue. Deb has a great no-knead bread (which is what this is called on her website.) I was very intrigued by the no-knead part, since kneading bread is one of the most confusing parts (unless you have a stand mixer, which I don’t.) 

I’ll start here with the recipe, which is very simple.

No-Kneed Bread
from Smitten Kitchen

3 cups flour
1/3 tsp yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 5/8 cups water

You mix all the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, salt) and then mix in the water. This is very easy, and doesn’t require any sort of special mixer. Just a spoon (I used wooden, but would go metal the next time) or your hands. The resulting dough is VERY sticky and a little hard to handle. But that’s great because you don’t have to! Just cover the bowl you mixed it in with plastic wrap and put in a warm dry space. Wait 12-18 hours.

I waited 18 hours, the more highly recommended time. By that time, the dough had more than tripled and looked like this:
 

Phase 2: dough rising part deux.

Flour a work surface and dump out the dough, scraping any gooey bits that stick to the bowl. flour your hands well and roll it over on itself a few times. Cover lightly with the same saran wrap and wait 15 min. 

After letting it rest, get two clean cotton kitchen towels. You’ll have to move the dough to the side, but place the first kitchen towel down on your work space and flour it generously. Form the dough into a ball and place it seam-side down on the floured cloth. Then lightly flour the top of the dough and place the second cloth on top. Looks like this:

It should rise for two hours.

Phase 3: oven.

After the two hours, the dough should have about doubled in shape. 15 to 30 minutes before the dough reaches the two-hour mark, preheat the oven to 450 and stick a large, heavy, covered pot (cast iron, pyrex, enamel or ceramic) in there to heat up with it.

When the dough is ready, take the top towel off and use the bottom towel to dump the dough into the bottom of the (in my case) cast iron pot. Some of your loose flour will dump in with it, which is fine. If there is too much flour on the top, you can brush it away, but you should be just fine. 

Put the pot in the oven and cover it. Let that bake for 30 min. Try not to peek into the oven too often (picture):

After 30 minutes, take the top off the pot and let it continue to bake for 15-30 minutes (until it browns.) Mine only took 15. 

Hilariously, my bread crust seems to have taken on the pattern of my towels. It’s actually quite lovely, but was by no means planned. I just want to take a moment to point out how amazing my cast iron dutch oven is. I literally use it All.The.Time. since I got it from Bill for my birthday. Now I just need a cast iron skillet.

Phase 4: Stare for long periods of time at the beautiful the finished product…

No really. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it for about 10 minutes. Probably because it represented two days of work. Can I mention how much I love cooking!?

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Nuts for Chocolate Brownies

First of all… Lauren, I want me some of that eggplant spread! Looks delicious! Second, thank you so much for coming up with this amazing new way of sharing food, recipes and stories- something we take a common pleasure in.

This past week I have been experimenting a lot with new foods, especially health foods, in a search to find foods that complement each other not only with their flavors but the way they can be digested in the body. Especially for me, someone who sometimes struggles with proper digestion, I have learned that healthy food does not have to taste like cardboard, as you very well know. And with my first blog post, here is some proof food can taste wonderful and be nourishing too! 

Shown above is my new favorite chocolate fix. I call it my “nut’s for chocolate” brownies, taken from My New Roots blogger Sarah B, because they are essentially made up of nuts, along with some dried fruit and cocoa powder, which give them such a creamy and buttery consistency. Yep, thats right, NO flour, butter, sugar or cocoa butter. Just rich, chocolaty, healthy goodness! Just think of all those Omega-3’s!

Nut’s for Chocolate Brownies 

or “The Raw Brownie” taken from My New Roots

1 cup whole walnuts

1 heaping cup Medjool dates, pittted

1/2 cup good cacao/cocoa power

1/2 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped

a good pinch of sea salt, or two!

It’s really VERY simple to make these. Put the walnuts in your food processor and bland until finely ground. Add cocoa and salt and pulse to combine. Then add the dates slowly while food processor is going until they are fully incorporated. This should give you a mixture of cake-like crumbs. Add more dates to make creamier. Add the mix to the copped almonds and pack everything together in a small square container and put in the ‘fridge to chill. Dust cocoa powder, add different nuts, caramel, or add coconut or chocolate chips to experiment! Bon appetit!

Love, Karla


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