Friday, September 29, 2017

Golden Smoothie

So let's talk about the oh-so-trendy Golden Milk. If you run in certain circles, particularly those involving a lot of yoga pants, you may have heard of this concoction. At it's base, it's an ages-old Ayurvedic medicinal drink meant to tame inflammation. With the recent resurgence in alternative medicine, the Lulu-clad crowd are rallying around things like turmeric, coconut oil, and the like. I'm by no stretch of the imagination a health nut, but I've always had a bit of a hippie bent, and I literally always have all of the ingredients in the house, so I figured I'd give it a try. As usual, I needed to put my own spin on things, and mine is served cold where tradition dictates taking this as a warm beverage. Without further ado, I give you-

The Golden Smoothie
It all starts with cashew milk-homemade, of course. This recipe makes 5 cups exactly if you do it right, and I use 1 cup per smoothie.

For cashew milk-
1 cup raw cashews, covered by at least an inch of water, soaked overnight

Drain and rinse cashews, then add to your blender with 1 1/2 cups of water and blend until smooth. Or not, if you like a chunky smoothie.

Add to that-
1 13.5oz can coconut milk (regular or low fat - but don't use that fake stuff in the carton that's like almond milk)
1 teaspoon honey, optional (I used manuka honey to be a super hippie)
1 TB ground turmeric, or 1 inch piece of fresh, grated
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger, or 1 inch piece of fresh
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Blend til smooth, pour into a storage container and refrigerate. This mix is your fairly traditional golden milk and can be imbibed as-is, or warmed.

To make your smoothie-
Combine 1 cup of mix with one small frozen banana, 1/2 cup of buttermilk (or regular milk), and 1/2 cup of kefir or yogurt (I recommend mango) - blend until smooth, and enjoy.

I don't know if it's had any anti-inflammatory impact, but I do know that it makes a great breakfast or lunch when you're in a rush or just don't feel like eating solid food. It has a fair amount of protein from the cashews and coconut milk, so it will keep you feeling full for a while. I'm sure a lot of folks wouldn't consider this a "health" food, but that's kind of subjective, and I do.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Been a while...

So apparently it's been 5 years since my last post, nigh exactly. A lot has changed for me in those 5 years. I had a big breakup, a few moves (one out of state), found a great new guy, and switched jobs, all of which are blog-worthy, but I just had no energy or motivation while all of that was happening. But here we are. Dust settled, I'm ready to get back into it. Hopefully there are a few folks out there willing to join me on my new adventures in weirdo living. I'll try not to disappoint.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

fall hard.

the end of the farmer's market is always depressing for me. i have to start relying on grocery stores for my produce again, and the options become more limited. the only thing that saves my mood is cooking with the root vegetables that i stock up on in the final weeks of the market. boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew...whatever, i'm all about them. soups and gratins are my favorite applications for them, so here's a chowder that sort of combines the two.

Roots Of Autumn Chowder

3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 stalks celery, diced small
1 medium onion, diced small
1 Tbsp curry powder (i used Penzey's Vindaloo, but you can use whatever kind you're partial to)
1 Tbsp dill (dried or fresh)
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida (optional)
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (homemade, either way. no excuses.)
1 cup heavy cream (or light cream if you prefer)
2 Tbsp butter
olive oil
salt and pepper

firstly, i'd like to mention that you can go ahead and use any combination of root vegetables you'd like for this. turnips, rutabegas, sweet potatoes, even golden beets would probably work just as well in this. in fact, you could even throw in some squash if you were so inclined.

start out with your trusty dutch oven over medium high heat and splash in enough olive oil to cover the bottom, melt the butter, then add your onions and celery. cook them til they're softened and translucent. add the curry powder and asafoetida (if you're using it) and stir just to work it into the oil. dump in the chopped parsnips and carrots (but NOT the potatoes yet) and cook until everything takes on a little bit of brown around the edges.

add the stock and potatoes, season with salt and pepper, raise the heat and boil until the potatoes are tender. remove from heat and stir in the cream and dill. oyster crackers or saltines will go nicely with this.

Monday, October 1, 2012

something to do with tomatillos.

this recipe began it's life as a soup. never one to leave well enough alone, i messed about with it, and the results were pretty awesome, if i do say so myself. the tomatillo base is essentially a salsa verde, and you can definitely use it as such.

Mexican Chicken and Rice

tomatillo base:
2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed well and cut in half
1 habanero chili, stem removed OR 1-3 jalapenos, serranos or chili of your preference (this is how you're going to determine the heat level, so choose wisely. i went with the one whole habanero, seeds intact, and it was a good slow burn that builds rather nicely. if you're not really into spicy food, go with the 1 jalapeno, or remove the seeds before adding it to the base.)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tbsp lime (or lemon) juice
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed well, stems intact
Pinch of sugar

2 lbs frozen, boneless, skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups white rice (i used jasmine, because it's what i had, but you can use whatever you want. brown rice would probably work just as well.)
1 teaspoon dry oregano (preferably Mexican) or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
1 teaspoon dry epazote (you don't *need* this, but i like it. and obviously, use 1 tablespoon of fresh if you can find it.)

start with the tomatillo base. place chili and tomatillos, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until they just start to blacken in spots. set aside to cool for about 5 minutes, then add them to a blender or food processor with any juices that accumulated and the garlic, salt, lime/lemon juice, cilantro and sugar. blend until there are no large chunks remaining.

preheat oven to 400° and place chicken on a foil-lined sheet. spoon enough of the tomatillo sauce over the chicken to coat, then cover with more foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil, turn over, add a little more sauce and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until juices are clear and the internal temperature reads about 160. set aside to cool, then cut into 1 inch cubes.

heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium-high heat. add onions and cook until just starting to brown. add cumin, coriander, and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

add tomatillo sauce and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. add chicken stock, raise heat and bring to a boil. add rice, chicken, oregano, epazote and salt and pepper to taste and lower heat to medium-low. simmer, partially covered 25-30 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

easy stuff that will impress your friends.

a few months back i finally learned to like hummus. weird that it took so long, right? the problem was the tahini. i just hate an overpowering sesame flavor. so i came up with this recipe, which i like to think is infinitely better than that stuff you get pre-made at the grocery store.

Fruitcake Ambush Hummus

2 15oz cans garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas, but you probably know that if you're reading this)
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup sunflower butter (this is in place of tahini, but feel free to use that if you like it, or any other nut butter)
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (i also occasionally add an entire head of roasted garlic)
1-3 teaspoons Sriracha, depending on your preference
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika (one of those Penzey's spices i find invaluable)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

you will need a food processor for this, or a masher of some sort and a lot of determination.

drain one can of the garbanzos, keep the liquid from the other and add it all to your Cuisinart. pulse it a little to start the beans breaking down. add the garlic, lemon juice and zest. process until smooth. add sunflower butter, Sriracha, paprika and salt. make sure everything is combined well, proceed to making pita chips.

...what? you didn't think i was going to let you eat store-bought pita chips with this, did you?

Ridiculously Simple Pita Chips

8 pitas
3 tablespoons, or thereabouts, cooking oil (i usually use a combination of olive and safflower, and i just drizzle...i'm not much of a measurer with this stuff)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons Penzey's Forward! spice mix (optional, or you can use whatever spice blend you prefer)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

cut up pitas into whatever size and shape pleases you. drizzle with oil. toss with salt and spices. arrange on two foil or parchment lined baking sheets and bake for about 15 minutes (or until edges just start to get dark brown) at 400°. cool on a rack and enjoy with your awesome hummus and a cold beer.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

happy 100th, Julia.

Julia Child. what's to be said about her that hasn't been said? she's widely regarded as a saint of the culinary world. she's the person who made it okay to try scary new things in the kitchen, and goof them up, then try again 'til it comes out right. she's been an icon in my world for as long as i can remember, as i spent many weekend mornings on the couch with dad watching PBS reruns of The French Chef. i've seen every episode so many times, she feels like family. she also always reminded me of my grandmother, so there's that too.

to honor her birthday recently, i finally tried my hand at homemade mayonnaise. because why buy something in a jar that i can make myself, and better? the whole process sounds a little daunting at first, but it really wasn't that tricky at all. and the sense of accomplishment is nicely disproportionate to the actual product, so try it!

here's Julia's recipe, with some notes from me:

Julia's Homemade Mayo

3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon wine vinegar or lemon juice, more drops as needed (i used lemon because it's what i had, and also because i usually prefer lemon.)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry or prepared mustard
1½ to 2¼ cups of olive oil, salad oil or a mixture of each (i made the mistake of using a strongly flavored Spanish virgin olive oil for this. it came out a little bitter. if this happens to you, just add about a teaspoon of sugar and that should balance it out. and make sure your oil is room temperature if you're one of those people that keeps everything in the fridge.)
2 tablespoons boiling water

Start with a large-ish, round bottomed glass or aluminum bowl. Doing this on a hot day will be beneficial, as everything will already be at the right temperature to prevent separating. And don't think you have to do this with a hand whisk. Your electric hand mixer is the way to go. For this quantity, you definitely don't want to try to use a stand mixer, but if you were doing a larger quantity, it might work.

First step: warm the bowl in hot water (if not doing this on a warm day); dry it. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1 to 2 minutes until they are thick and sticky.
Add the vinegar or lemon juice, salt and mustard. Beat for 30 seconds more.

The egg yolks are now ready to receive the oil. While it goes in, drop by drop, you must not stop beating until the sauce has thickened. A speed of 2 strokes per second is fast enough. You can switch hands or switch directions, as long as you beat constantly.

Add the drops of oil with a teaspoon, or rest the lip of the bottle on the edge of the bowl. Keep your eye on the oil rather than on the sauce. Stop pouring and continue beating every 10 seconds or so, to be sure the egg yolks are absorbing the oil.

After 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil has been incorporated, the sauce will thicken into a very heavy cream and the crisis of potential curdling is over. The beating arm may rest a moment. Then, beat in the remaining oil by 1 to 2 tablespoon dollops, blending it thoroughly after each addition.

When the sauce becomes too thick and stiff, beat in drops of vinegar or lemon juice to thin it out. Then continue with the oil.

Beat the boiling water into the sauce. This is an anti-curdling insurance. Season to taste.

If the sauce is not used immediately, scrape it into a small bowl and cover it tightly so a skin will not form on its surface.

“...operational's all theory until you see for yourself whether or not something works.”
― Julia Child, My Life in France

happy birthday, Julia (tomorrow). you will always be one of my greatest inspirations.

Friday, June 1, 2012

drinking weather is upon us.

despite my love of kitchen experimentation, my history with mixology is decidedly sparse. so imagine my surprise when i managed to put together a damn-near perfect beverage last night. it's been done, certainly not too new or exciting, but here's my tasty version of a bourbon mojito:

The Fruitcake Ambush Bourbon Mojito

2 oz good quality bourbon (i used Black Maple Hill because it's my favorite)
2 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz water (still or sparkling, your choice)
1 spearmint sprig (homegrown, if you've got it)
1 tbsp raw sugar
ice, crushed if you're so inclined, and i am

firstly, if you intend to take your summer drink making seriously, it would behoove you to acquire a muddler. you will need this piece of equipment for some of the best hot weather cocktails, specifically (because it's one of my favorites), the caipirinha.

moving on, take your new muddler, mint, sugar and a Collins glass and start muddlin'. you don't want shreds of mint, so just do this enough to release some of the plant's oils.

add your ice to fill the glass, add your liquids, stir with the iced tea spoon you should all have (i have a southern grandmother), savor, repeat. best enjoyed on a wraparound porch with fragrant night-blooming flowers nearby.