Butternut squash pasta sauce with sun dried tomatoes
This is one of my favorite go-to recipes in Fall and Winter, and an excellent thing to do with squash. The tomatoes are from my Dad’s garden.
- Bake the butternut squash at 350F for 1 hour.
- Scoop into a large pan, add water, cover and cook on medium-high until soft.
- Saute 1 sm. onion (or ~1/3 of a large onion) in butter or olive oil in a separate pan, adding a couple cloves of garlic and any other spices you want to try - I usually use about 2 tsp Rosemary, salt and pepper.
- Add some butter (I probably use 2-4 Tbsp for a large sized squash), and some unsweetened almond/coconut/cow/goat milk if you like it creamier… around 1/2 - 1 cup.
- Mash or blend squash depending how smooth of a texture you want the sauce (I prefer mine extra smooth and use a food processor or hand mixer), and then combine both pans and let simmer.
- Throw over your favorite pasta with some Parmesan cheese and sun dried tomatoes and enjoy!
Still recovering from the toomuchfood and somanycookiescakespiescandies of the holiday season, I made this rice/lentil/veggie dish in an attempt to get back on good terms with my tummy. It is accompanied by a life-changing cilantro coconut chutney that I learned to make in my Ayurvedic cooking class. Normally I am one of those people who hates cilantro, but somehow adding lime juice, shredded coconut, ginger, and cumin and mustard seeds toasted in ghee makes it delicious.
This is a great dish for postpartum because it is so nutritious, warm, comforting, healing, and easy on the digestive system.
Kimchi: a creation story.
Kimchi is a Korean spicy pickled cabbage that is super delicious and has awesome health benefits, too. It is packed with vitamins A, B, and C, immune system boosting phytochemicals, and lactobacilli (healthy bacteria) that help with digestion. And it is surprisingly easy to make once you get the hang of it.
I looked through a bunch of kimchi recipes before I decided how I was going to make mine. The basic concept of kimchi is soaking napa cabbage and other assorted vegetables in a brine (salt water), adding some spiciness and spices, and allowing it to ferment a bit. Some recipes suggest using some kind of sweetener (traditionally either sweet rice flour or asian pears, though some recipes suggest apples or white sugar as a substitute), in order to balance out the strong flavor.
You can basically use this basic concept with any vegetables that you like. The one thing I decided to be very traditionalist about was the chile. As a New Mexican, I know that an enchilada with anything but New Mexico red or green chile is NOT an enchilada, and I can respect that the same is true for Koreans and kimchi. So I bought Korean Dried Red Pepper Powder (also called Gochugaru) at Talin, our local asian market. Make sure you get the course pepper, not the fine powdered kind.
Some of the more traditional recipes suggested using fish sauce, which I did, but many of the more American-adapted recipes left it out. Here is the recipe I ended up with.
SPICY DELICIOUS KIMCHI (MADE EASY)
- unrefined sea salt
- 1 head napa cabbage, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 sm. cucumber, cut into 1 in. matchsticks
- 1 lg. grated carrot
- 1 cup of bean sprouts
- 2 small radishes, sliced
- 4 green onions (white & green parts), cut into 1 in. pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 in. ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 asian pear
- 1 cup korean dried red pepper powder, course (gochugaru - can be found at asian supermarkets)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (optional)
- 1/4 cup whey (optional)
- Mix a brine of 3-4 cups water and 1/2 cup salt (enough to cover the vegetables).
- Slice vegetables, put into a big bowl, and soak in brine for 2-4 hours, or overnight. Turn every so often to make sure that all vegetables are soaked.
- Cut asian pear into chunks and puree in a food processor with 1/2 cup water.
- Prepare the spices: Chop the ginger and garlic. Add spices and red pepper powder to pears and blend until combined well. Add more red pepper to taste if you like it on the spicier side (I used about 1 1/2 cups). Add fish sauce if you desire. You can also add whey to support the fermentation process. It’s not necessary, but will guarantee and speed up fermentation.
- Drain brine off vegetables, reserving liquid. Taste vegetables for saltiness - you want them to taste decidedly salty, but not unpleasantly so. If they are too salty, rinse them. If you cannot taste salt, sprinkle with a couple of teaspoons of salt and mix.
- Mix the vegetables with the spice paste. It works best to use your hands, but make sure you cover them with gloves or a plastic bag.
- Stuff kimchi into clean quart jars and pack it tightly, pressing down until brine rises. If necessary, add a little of the reserved vegetable-soaking brine to submerge the vegetables. Be sure to allow at least 2 inches of space at the top for fermentation, and cover the jar to keep out dust and flies. I did end up with an exploded mason jar the 2nd day (yes! it’s aliiive!!), so I would recommend loosening the lids to let the air out each day while the kimchi does its thing.
- Ferment in your kitchen or other warm place. Taste the kimchi every day. After about a week of fermentation, when it tastes ripe, move it to the refrigerator.
On the same day as my cheesemaking fail I simultaneously experienced my first pickling success. I have LOVED pickles since I was a little girl. My Grandfather used to buy me giant gallon jars of pickles and I would eat the entire thing, and when I grew up I would always eat the capers from my Grandma’s fridge, straight from the jar with a spoon. Pickles are a pretty big deal in my life, but I have never actually made my own. Armed with some canning jars and a can grabber tool I picked up at Lowes, I preserved my very first canned food.
I used the pickling recipe from Country Women (A Handbook for the New Farmer by Jeanne Tetrault and Sherry Thomas), one of my all time favorite homesteading books and a staple for any lady farmer. The best thing about the recipe (for impatient people like me) is that it only takes about 24 hours for the pickles to be “ready.” I have taste-tested every day and they do get better with time, but they are totally edible and delicious after only 24 hours. I suggest making at least 2 jars - 1 to eat right away while you wait for the others to age. I also like that it’s not exact…a pinch of this and that allows you to experiment with the flavors and figure out which you prefer more or less of. We made pickled cucumbers, okra and peppers, and in all cases the recipe is spicy, dilly, crunchy, and everything a pickle ought to be.
First, to sterilize the jars you put both mason jars and lids face-down in an inch of boiling water for 20 minutes. The steam will sterilize the jars. Use a can-grabber or a towel to handle jars as they get super hot! You can also sterilize your stainless steel pot for heating vinegar, etc. by allowing 1 inch of water to boil, covered, for 20 minutes. The steam will sterilize the pot.
- Heat to boiling a mixture of:
2 parts vinegar
1 part water
1 Tbsp. salt to each 3 cups liquid
- Fill sterilized jars with the vegetables. Beans, small onions, and green cherry tomatoes can be used whole. All other vegetables should be cut into thin pieces.
- Add two cloves garlic, a generous pinch of both dill weed and dill seed, 8 peppercorns, and a pinch of mustard seeds to each jar.
- Place a knife in each jar to prevent cracking. Fill each jar with the boiling mixture, remove the knife, wipe the rim, seal, and invert. Let pickles stand for at least 2 weeks before eating (or not…).
Virginia’s okra recipe is my absolute favorite way to eat okra…except for maybe pickled, because I love pickled anything. But it’s definitely my favorite way to cook okra. :)
Cut into 1 inch pieces and sauteed with 1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic, most of the okra slime is absorbed into the onion. Simply add 1 tsp each of cumin, curry powder, salt and garam masala, 1 diced tomato and a few tsps of water and simmer to deliciousness…
mac and cheese
We made this vegan mac n cheez for our Sunday night potluck, and I have been munching leftovers all week. Here is the recipe:
Vegan Mac n Cheez
- 1 1/2 cups plain soymilk
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup tamari or 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 ounces firm tofu
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 1/2 lbs macaroni noodles
- 2 teaspoons mustard (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Boil water in a big pot for the pasta.
- Blend all other ingredients in a blender or with a hand mixer.
- Once pasta is cooked, drain and put it in the baking pan. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and sprinkle a layer of nutritional yeast flakes on top.
- Bake until the top of the pasta looks slightly browned and crispy - about 15 minutes.
It has recently become clear to us that one of our young hens grew up to be, in fact, a rooster. For the past 2 weeks we (and surely our neighbors) have been cursing Hedwig every morning, beginning at sunrise, and every half-hour thereafter. Because roosters don’t make the best backyard pets in the middle of downtown and there aren’t many options for getting rid of them that don’t involve someone killing and eating them, the decision was finally made that that someone might as well be us.
I personally made the decision sometime in the past year that if I was going to be eating animals, then I wanted to be able to be able to raise and kill them myself. I’m not at the point in my life where that’s totally feasible, but this seemed like a good place to start.
And so with the guidance of my new friend Jack (an experienced rooster killer), I successfully killed, skinned, and dressed a chicken. I won’t go into the gory details, but there were prayers and thanks said, as well as crying from both myself and an onlooking-in-solidarity Silvia, as we watched him go to “the big farm in the sky.” I’m proud to say that I held the knife and did it myself. It was a pretty surreal experience and one of the most intense things I have ever done…I’m still not totally sure how I feel about it all. I’ve never been much of a meat eater, and can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve bought actual slabs of meat from the store (as in chicken breasts, pork loins, steaks, etc) and cooked them myself. I’ve hardly cut a piece of grocery store meat, let alone skinned and dressed an entire alive-just-moments-ago bird.
Last night, with the advice of my herbalism teacher Jen, Silvia roasted up our backyard rooster and we had a little feast. Hedwig was Kelli’s chicken, so she opted to skip the meal (and the killing). We used the blood on our tomato plants - apparently it makes a great fertilizer - and we will use the bones for a rooster soup. Silvia had jokingly talked about killing our rooster as a sacrifice to the rain gods, since New Mexico has been in a pretty bad drought all Summer. Amazingly enough the city has been enveloped by intense thunderstorms almost every day since.
So thanks for your life, Hedwig - we are grateful!
okra + olive oil + salt & pepper + 425°F for 10 minutes = delicious.
I feel lucky since many people have told me they have had bad luck with growing okra, and our little okra plants are doing great out in the garden! I saw this okra at the grocery store though and got excited, so I decided to try out an easy recipe that I can use once ours are ready to harvest. Who ever thought of roasting okra? Not me, but it’s a winner for sure!
Today Denicia and I did laundry and made avocado milkshakes. This is something we are always wanting to buy when we eat at Vietnamese restaurants (we work in the International District and are constantly surrounded by great Viet food), but we both can’t have [cow] dairy and they are always made with milk. So we made our own yesterday with my raw goat milk and some honey. It’s probably the most healthy and refreshing milkshake imaginable, and actually requires very little (or even zero) dairy because the avocados are so thick and full of good, healthy fats!
- 4 whole avocados (peeled, pitted and quartered)
- 1 cup goat milk (substitute: cow, coconut, soy, rice milk, etc)
- 5 tbsp honey, agave nectar, or other natural sweetener
- 2 cups ice
Blend, pour, enjoy.
makes 2 servings
Vegetarian taco salad - a refreshing, cheap, simple, and salsa-slathered lunch.
Just dump chips, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, pinto beans, and salsa into a bowl and stir it up real good.
This particular salsa happens to be my favorite in the entire world… I bring it up from Andele every time I visit Las Cruces. Andele chips and salsa is pretty much an entire food group for me some days.