Spring vegetables

April 5, 2012

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“Oh par-snap”, was M’s reaction to these giant parsnips when we opened our delivery from Valley Green Feast last week. Root vegetables that make it through a cold winter take on a delightfully sweet characteristic, and these did not disappoint!

First draft of my thesis is printed and being edited, I’ve got lots to blog about when it’s done! In the mean time, check out the blog I get paid to write, http://www.earthaction.org.

Injera success!

March 22, 2012

Spring break is winding down, the temperature has been in the high 70s and is about to drop 20 degrees, flowers have prematurely bloomed and I have further procrastinated both on studying for a midterm next week and writing my thesis. Pretty perfect. Two nights ago we went on an evening hike with some friends  (because the sun sets at the glorious hour of 7pm thanks to daylight savings) and then returned home to enlist them in a culinary adventure.

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Our (mostly)Ethiopian inspired meal consisted of a pumpkin and sweet-potato red lentil stew and some homemade injera, the traditional Ethiopian flat bread. Using the recipe from Wild Fermentation (can you tell we love that book?) we used some of my super active sourdough starter and 50/50 teff and whole wheat flour. The whole lot fermented about 24 hours and then was poured crepe-like into a skillet and cooked for about 2-3 minutes a piece.

The bottom cooks flat and browns more like a pancake, but it only cooks on one side so you get these great craters all over the surface that help scoop and soak up sauce. We made the whole recipe and ended up with enough for 4 very stuffed folks and leftovers. The texture is delightfully spongy but strong enough to hold lots of stew and the taste is slightly nutty and sweet with a bit of a fermented, sour tang that played nicely with the pumpkin and sweet potato combo.

The stew we served on top was mostly a whatever was in the house sort of deal- onion, garlic, cumin, a pint of home canned local tomatoes, two organic sweet potatoes, a few handfuls of red lentils, pumpkin which was baked down and frozen last fall from our CSA and some vegetable broth for extra saucy-ness.

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Injera is served under the food and used as the only utensil for the meal. Above you can see it in action, yum! We cheated a little and ate a salad first course with forks- but everyone had to surrender them to their plate sides when it came time for the main course.

In researching traditional injera recipes I ran across this company in Idaho that sells either whole grain teff or ground teff flour grown in the US. It sounds like a pretty neat venture, and the price per pound is unbeatable compared to what we paid at Whole Foods. Check out that nutritional information- one 1/4 cup serving has 20% of your daily iron, 8% of your calcium and 5g of protein. That makes me pretty scoop happy.

It seems, from my cursory research, like the recipe in Wild Fermentation is pretty similar to most traditional ones but relies on sourdough starter to jumpstart the fermentation process, taking only 24 hours rather than a few days.

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And, finally, say hello to my brand new best friend. My new baby is the silver one in front, I picked it up this afternoon at Hampshire Bike Exchange for under $200 and soared all the way home. Don’t our bikes just look too darn cute together on the porch?

Happy riding,
-W

Projects

March 19, 2012

Spring break is here and our home is full of projects, although the majority of my time will be spent thesis writing, I am attempting to find time to catch up on some things I have been putting off and to start new projects that were put on hold until some free time came around.

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This one is technically M’s, he’s working on a batch of Ethiopian Honey Wine from Wild Fermentation. The water and honey mixture sat out in a wide-mouthed bowl for about a week to cultivate some wild yeast and now it is bottled in a half-gallon glass jar and topped with a one-way air lock. All those bubbles up top show that the yeasts are working hard and we’ll have a nice treat in a few weeks time.

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Another recipe from Wild Fermentation, this one is a mixture of sourdough starter, teff flour and whole wheat flour, making a slightly nontraditional injera batter. We’ll be making a lentil and pumpkin stew tomorrow night to share with friends and serve with this yummy Ethiopian flat bread after its 24-hour fermentation time.

These two aren’t food projects, but crafty home projects I’m hoping to get ahead on in upcoming weeks. This summer I have a graduation and a wedding to attend (in the same day, let’s not talk about what a crammed few hours that’ll be..) to both I plan to wear a dress made from this pattern. It looks pretty challenging as it will be the first item of clothing I’ve made from a pattern in several years, so I may end up making one for practice before the one I’ll wear to the events. This week I hope to pick up fabric to get the process rolling!

 

20120319-175119.jpg I fell in love with this scarf pattern when I found it, and also with the yarn, which is less of a neon orange that it appears in this picture. I started it over a year ago (embarrassing, I know) but it is the first project I have embarked on that includes cables and is the hardest knitting pattern I’ve ever attempted. I’m hoping to finish it for next fall, and I’m not letting myself start any new knitting projects until I finish one of the ones I am already invested in. There’s a whole list of socks and mittens I want to try my hands on, but for now, I’m finishing what I’ve started.

Wish me luck and productivity!

-W

Saucy Vegan

March 14, 2012

Generally, when people ask what the hardest thing to give up as a vegan was, they already have a presupposed answer. It goes something along the lines of a description of delicious, ooey, gooey, melty, cheese, followed by reminiscence about the smell of a pizza parlor or the taste of a meal of orange mac ‘n cheese of yesteryear as if they were the ones who hadn’t eaten their beloved food for several years. For me, the story isn’t quite the same love story of human meets cheese. As a self-conscious teenager obsessed with health and calories, cheese was barely part of my diet, making my transition to veganism five and a half years ago lacking in the midnight cheese cravings that haunt some omnivores-turned-vegans or the specifically pleasant memories of gourmet cheeses of some foodie friends.

Possibly because of my relationship with the dairy counterpart, I rarely eat vegan cheese now. When I do, I prefer it to be a homemade, saucy, nutty cheese instead of some of the chemical-laden, plasticy ones that line the shelves of grocery stores. Granted, in recent years the vegan cheese market has boomed with impressive products that I’ll happily top my Hillside Pizza with, but generally speaking, they disappoint.

Isa’s Post Punk Kitchen, on the other hand, never fails to delight with exciting new projects. This unusual recipe for Sunflower Mac from February caught my eye, relying on sunflower seeds in place of the standard cashews for creaminess.

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I followed her recipe with the addition of a pinch of turmeric to hide the weird gray color that my seeds produced. Her’s looks far more orange without the addition of any turmeric, leading me to believe my carrot count was a bit low. This recipe made A LOT of sauce, making about 5-6 servings at first and then, stretched a bit on the last day with some extra veggie broth, made another two.

I served it first night over whole wheat thick spaghetti with some steamed broccoli frozen last summer from our farm share. The sauce was pleasingly salty and nutty from the seeds and nutritional yeast and the texture was a slightly grainy but not gritty texture that reminded me  I was eating seeds, something I didn’t mind a bit. With a newer food processor or faster blender yours might turn out a bit smoother.

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Last fall we used a butternut squash and a sugar pumpkin from our CSA to make homemade raviolis. We have had about a dozen and a half left in the freezer since our pasta making party and pulled out twelve to top with leftover sunflower sauce for a delightfully simple meal. The frozen ravioli cooked up well in a skillet with two T of vegetable broth, one T of olive oil and some salt and fresh cracked pepper.

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Served with a simple salad of local greens or the addition of frozen farm share broccoli, these meals really demonstrated the beauty of having delicious, homemade foods canned in the cupboard or frozen in the fridge to make busy nights easier.

Spring in March

March 12, 2012

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Despite the mild winter 70 degree days in March still feel like a respite from the gray months past. This morning I put on a skirt and was greeted by these perennials planted by someone who must have lived in our place last spring.
The forecast for this week brings good news- many more skirt weather days, happy spring!