Thursday, October 23, 2008

Simple Roasted Vegetable Medley

The butternut squash in this recipe gives the medley a nice sweet note. Butternut squash tastes very similar to sweet potatoes. 

Simple Roasted Vegetable Medley:

1 butternut squash, cubed
3 lg. russet potatoes, cubed
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and halved
1/2 Tb. minced garlic
2 tsp. sage
2 tsp. crushed rosemary
about 3 Tb. olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Toss vegetables with garlic cloves, 2 Tb. oil, sage and rosemary in a large roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Roast covered for about 25 minutes. Toss once. Add minced garlic and remaining olive oil if necessary (I usually find it necessary...), and roast 25 minutes more. Toss once more. Roast until veggies are browned on edges and tender. Season with additonal salt and pepper if necessary.

Feel free to add about 1/2 lb. each of carrots and parsnips

"Sausage" and Rice Soup

Easy, good, warm. Enough said!

"Sausage" and Rice Soup: 

1 lg. russett potato, diced small
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 jar green beans (I used home-canned, but a can of regular green beans or 2 c. frozen would work)
1 stalk celery, plus tops, chopped
2-5 white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 (14-oz.) can diced Italian-seasoned tomatoes, with some liquid
2 c. vegetable broth
1 c. water
1/2 tube Gimmie Lean "sausage"
1/4 c. Basmati rice
4 springs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Sea salt to taste

1. Cook "sausage" in olive oil and minced garlic until crumbled and browned. 

2. Meanwhile, bring chopped vegetables, herbs, seasonings, and water to a boil. 

3. Add "sausage" and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes. Add rinsed Basmati rice and simmer another 35 minutes or until potatoes are soft and rice is cooked. Remove bay leaves and thyme springs before serving.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Black Beans and Polenta

Warm and delicious, this is one of the first meals I made where my focus was good eating on the cheap.

Black Beans:
In order to cut down on food costs, I used dried beans. I took half the bag and placed them in a cooking pot. I covered them with water and then picked and sorted through the beans. Remember, if they float, toss them out. And look out for stones too. It happens. I give the beans a good rinse and then cover them with water. Let them soak at least eight hours or overnight. I usually drain off the water then give them some new. This helps to reduce some of the gas-causing properties! I give them about 2-3 inches of water (above the bean line).

I bring the beans to a boil, then reduce them to a simmer. To the beans I add:
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
5 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
2 bay leaves

VERY IMPORTANT: Do not add any thing acidic, such as TOMATOES or LEMON JUICE, or SALT until after the beans have cooked themselves soft. Otherwise, they'll remain hard and you'll be very disappointed!

Cover the beans and simmer them about 1-2 hours. Once they're soft to your liking, mash about 1/2 c. of the beans to thicken up the pot. Then I add:
2 Tb. lime juice

1 Tb. lemon juice
about 1/2 tsp. of salt
Keep in mind though, I don't like things very salty so feel free to add a little more. These beans will also be pretty mild, so feel free to add a little heat to it.

Bring 3 c. water
1 tsp. salt
Some olive oil to a boil. Once boiling add:
1 c. COARSE cut corn meal*

Reduce heat and cook about 5 minutes, or until very thick. Pour into a nonstick pan and let sit until cool. Turn the pan over onto a plate. To make polenta, cut yourself a few slices and fry up in a skillet with a little olive oil until a golden brown.

*The coarse corn meal allows it to be made into polenta.

Place pan-seared polenta onto a plate and cover it with the black beans and some sauted onion (cook a sliced, yellow onion in some olive oil over medium heat until soft and golden brown). I like to serve it with a bit of Thai chili paste for some heat. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October Update - Of Food and Farmdom

And so it begins. I finally have a constant source of internet. Maybe now I can keep my blog updated without the use of the library's computers! I recently held a feast for my friends in celebration of the Fall Equinox. It was a wonderful and the food turned out great! I'll have to post some of my recipes on here. I have quite a few new favorites.

I'm looking forward to the chill of the fall. Soups, roasted veggies, homemade breads, stews, and wine are some of my favorite things. I've already found myself thinking about Thanksgiving. Hopefully, I will get to spend it with my family this year. I've been invited to a dinner at my friend's house and they've requested my homemade apple-pecan stuffing (that's another recipe I'm going to post soon). I feel like my cooking skills have improved a lot this past year, and I feel honored, and blessed, to be able to feed those around me.

I've been experimenting with dried beans and American rice lately. I've decided that with this looming economy I'm going to need a slew of recipes that can feed my wife and I on the cheap. Delicious, comforting, and nutritious is what I'm looking for. I've been looking to Mother Earth News and hand-me-down recipes for inspiration.

I've also starting creating my own incense and I have a powerful recipe or two for that up my sleeve. I'm going to be making tinctures soon, and hopefully some soap down the road. I long for the days when we live on a farm of our own. We have it planned out. Just a few acres, just a few animals, and lots of time for each other. We're both so tired of being a slave to The Man and long for the country. That's how she grew up, and that's how I wanted to. We'll get there. God will show us the way.

Anyway, more food and herbs later. I really mean it this time!

All- Purpose Baked Asian Tofu

This is a much easier process of preparing tofu than in my previous entry. I'm sure you'll find that it's easier to get tofu into your life when it's prepared this way! Be sure you press the tofu first, for about an hour (at least). You know the drill!

2 Tb. tamari

1 Tb. rice vinegar
1 Tb. oil
1 Tb. lime juice
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Thai chili paste

1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
Chopped green onion
A few drops dark sesame oil

1 block pressed, extra firm tofu, sliced into slabs (about 6 slabs)

Mix all the ingredients in the marinade in a small baking dish. Add the tofu; cover. At this point you can let it marinate a couple of hours or go ahead and bake it. Stir it around a couple of times to cover all sides of the tofu. Bake uncovered at 375 for about 45 minutes, turning once. I like to let it cook for a little longer to give it a firmer texture. Keep an eye on it in the last 15 minutes or so to make sure it doesn't burn.

You can save this tofu for later in the fridge (just reheat it later) or you can use it right away in a variety of tofu dishes.