My first pickles

I promised I would report back on pickles and I’m finally getting to it!

Our cucumber plant produced a TON of cukes so we had to figure out pickling. I wanted to keep them as simple as possible, so I followed Deb’s instructions for the easiest fridge dill pickles.

First, I had to use a vegetable peeler to scrape off all the little spiky bits on the cucumbers. Some of them were really sharp. Then I decided to slice mine into spears.

I didn’t have fresh dill so I used dried and I think it worked just fine. One thing I had to adjust, though, was to add water to fill the jars to the top. Maybe because I had spears instead of slices, my cucumbers didn’t let out enough water and they were super vinegar-y. Once I added the water they were just about perfect.

I thought they might go bad quickly in the fridge, but they have lasted weeks and weeks. In fact I think they get better over time.

Easy strawberry jam

I feel like jam is one of those things that seems intimidating, but is actually really easy to make. I think it’s the canning aspect that’s scary, but you can make a quick fridge jam that will disappear too quickly to bother with the canning anyway.

We were only getting a handful of strawberries from our garden every day, so I decided to save them in a bag in the freezer until I had enough to make jam. I found this recipe in Real Simple and it worked perfectly.

Basically all you do is combine the fruit with sugar and lemon juice and simmer it until the fruit has broken down into a soft, chunky mixture. Let it cool and pour the jam into a jar.

You can make a decadent toast with cream cheese and berry jam – yum!

Farro with arugula and pomegranate seeds

I had never cooked with farro before this recipe. But I found I really liked it and will make it again. This makes a light, fresh side dish.

Farro with arugula and pomegranate seeds
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup dried farro
  2. 2 cups arugula
  3. 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  4. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. Juice from 1 lemon
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 1/2 cups water and the farro in a saucepan until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes, or until the farro is tender. You will probably have to do a taste test to see if it's to your liking.
  2. Drain any remaining water. Transfer the farro to a big bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and toss together.
Notes
  1. I did not soak my farro before I cooked it, but you certainly can. It will reduce the cooking time.
Adapted from Real Simple
Adapted from Real Simple
Cara Corey http://www.caracorey.com/

No. 32 Red Curry with Tofu

I’ve been trying to perfect a veggie curry recipe for a while without success. But I think I finally got it right. Mine is kind of a combination of Heidi Swanson’s weeknight curry recipe and the red curry from the Thai place down the street from our house, which I love and order often.

The Thai restaurant always deep fries their tofu, so it has a texture that stands up to being soaked in sauce. And I like that they add bamboo shoots. Theirs are more like thin sticks, so I took the canned bamboo shoots and cut them in half lengthwise.

The other thing I figured out is that it’s better to use coconut cream instead of coconut milk because the extra water from the veggies and tofu tends to thin out the sauce.

No. 32 Red Curry with Tofu

1 10-ounce package firm tofu, pressed and thinly sliced
Olive oil – enough to cover the bottom of a large skillet
1 red or orange bell pepper, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
2 cups fresh green beans, ends cut off and snapped in half
1 onion, sliced
1 can coconut cream
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, sliced in half lengthwise
brown rice for serving

Start by frying the tofu slices. You want to heat enough olive oil in a large skillet to just cover the thin slices, somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 inch.

Fry the slices until golden on one side, then flip them over to cook the other side. When they’re done, drain them on a paper towel. You can use the remaining oil to cook your veggies.

Saute the veggies until they soften and the onions are translucent.

Next mix the curry paste with a couple tablespoons of coconut cream in a bowl.

Add this mixture to your veggies and stir until they’re all coated. Add the tofu and bamboo shoots to the pan and then stir in the rest of the coconut cream.

Let the curry simmer on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Make sure you taste the curry before you serve it. You may want to add a little salt or more curry paste. I usually end up adding some of both. The curry paste adds more heat, too.

When it’s ready, serve the curry over brown rice. Or, if you’re like us, leftover takeout rice. 🙂

Butternut squash bisque

I’ve written about this recipe before, as my version is inspired by the one in the Clean book. But I’ve never given a full recipe, and I thought that since it’s feeling all lovely and fall-ish, now would be the perfect time.

This soup could not be healthier, but it’s sweet and satisfying as well. So few recipes really have all those qualities, but this is one of them. If you want a little crunch, sprinkle some chopped toasted nuts on top.

Butternut squash bisque
If nothing else, remember the 1-2-3 measurements of the first three ingredients and add water!

1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 tart apples, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 small or 1/2 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for roasting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
4 cups water

Start by roasting the veggies. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash, carrots, and apples with a little olive oil and the teaspoon of kosher salt. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily press a fork into the squash.

In a big pot or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium and saute the onions until they are just starting to brown. Add in the turmeric and toss to coat. The smell is heavenly.

Pour in the water and vinegar and then add the roasted vegetables. (I guess technically there is a fruit in there, too.) Put the lid on and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes, just to let all the flavors meld and make sure the carrots get nice and soft.

Turn off the heat. Blend the soup using an immersion blender. Or you could do it in batches in a regular blender.

If you don’t want to eat all the soup now, freeze some of it to enjoy later!

Butternut squash bisque
The perfect healthy soup for fall.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  2. 2 tart apples, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  3. 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  4. 1 small or 1/2 large onion, diced
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for roasting
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  8. 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  9. 4 cups water
Instructions
  1. Start by roasting the veggies. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash, carrots, and apples with a little olive oil and the teaspoon of kosher salt. Roast for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily press a fork into the squash.
  2. In a big pot or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium and saute the onions until they are just starting to brown. Add in the turmeric and toss to coat.
  3. Pour in the water and vinegar and then add the roasted vegetables. Put the lid on and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes, just to let all the flavors meld and make sure the carrots get nice and soft.
  4. Turn off the heat. Blend the soup using an immersion blender. Or you could do it in batches in a regular blender.
Notes
  1. If nothing else, remember the 1-2-3 measurements of the first three ingredients and add water! -
  2. Soup can be frozen and reheated later.
Adapted from Clean Program book
Adapted from Clean Program book
Cara Corey http://www.caracorey.com/

Turmeric roasted cauliflower

This is such a yummy side dish. I will definitely make it again.

Turmeric roasted cauliflower
adapted from Clean

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400. In a small bowl combine the coriander, pepper, garlic, turmeric, and salt. Spread out the cauliflower pieces on a nonstick baking sheet. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the cauliflower and then drizzle the olive oil over the top. Toss to coat — don’t use your hands unless you want your fingers to turn yellow!

Bake 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. You can tell it’s done when the tips of the cauliflower start to brown.

By the way, I made broccoli soup again and I remembered to take a picture this time. It came out a little creamier (I think I used fewer cashews). It’s definitely one of my favorite soups now.

Red lentil curry

I made this red lentil curry the other day from a random recipe I found online, and it turned out really well. You can find the recipe here, if you’re interested. I skipped the teaspoon of sugar and the can of tomato puree (no tomatoes on the cleanse), but I did add in a tablespoon or so of tamarind chutney I had in the fridge. I’m sure there’s a little sugar in it, but I OK’d it because I thought it added great flavor.

I also served it over brown rice with some peas for a little extra color. I actually really like peas.

We’ve mostly been eating leftovers the past couple days, but I did make up some quinoa burgers.

Mike had this yummy salad with chickpeas.

And we’ve been snacking on pineapple, which feels like a treat. And it’s ridiculously cheap here.

Last night we ate out for the first time. There’s a sushi place pretty close to our house that allows you to sub brown rice for the white rice in your rolls. So we had some veggie rolls and a chicken skewer. It’s so hard to be a purist on this diet because there are so many things you would normally consider healthy (tofu, tomatoes, oranges) that you’re not supposed to have because of the allergy thing or because they’re too acidic. So we’re not trying to be perfect, just as good as we can be.

I’ve already lost 2.6 pounds, so I must be doing something right!

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Here’s a Halloween treat for you. If you are carving pumpkins, you can save the seeds and toast them for a great snack.

Toasted pumpkin seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed of any goop
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or peanut oil, if you have it)
1/4 teaspoon salt

The first step is to dry the seeds out. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Spread out the seeds on a lined baking sheet and pop them in the oven. It takes about an hour at this temperature.

After the seeds have dried and cooled, switch to a shallow pan on the stovetop. Turn it up to about medium heat and add the oil. Once it’s nice and hot, drop in the pumpkin seeds and sprinkle on the salt. Keep stirring the seeds — they will whistle and maybe even pop, and eventually start to turn brown. Once most of them have some browning on them, turn off the heat. All done!

You can see the difference between dried seeds (right) and toasted ones (left).

If you want a sweet snack, you can make these:

Sweet and salty pumpkin seeds
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup pumpkin seeds
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil

You start the same way, by drying out the seeds in the oven at 250.

Mix up 3 tablespoons of sugar and the spices in a bowl.

Then heat up the oil in a shallow pan, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the seeds. Keep stirring until the seeds are a little brown and caramelized. Then transfer the seeds to the bowl of spices and toss to coat them.

These are super yummy, but I can’t eat too many of them without going into a sugar coma.

Happy Halloween!

Potato-leek soup with homemade croutons

Yesterday was kind of an epic day in the kitchen. I started off making Heidi Swanson’s recipe for oatcakes from Super Natural Every Day.

I’ve been getting a little bored with flapjacks, but wanted something similar to eat for snacks or breakfasts. The oatcakes turned out to be perfect. They’re somewhere in between a granola bar, a muffin, and a cookie — a little bit wholesome and a little bit sweet. All I can say is you must buy this cookbook!

I had some extra batter, so I made minis, too.

But onto the subject of this post — potato-leek soup. We got some leeks at the farmers market over the weekend, and I thought I would try making the classic soup combination. I cracked open “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” and sure enough there was a recipe. It’s unbelievably simple, actually.

I added cream and a few toppings, but you don’t have to. With veggie stock or water it’s a great vegan soup. I had about 2 cups of stock in the freezer, so I used that plus water for the rest.

Potato-leek soup
adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
3 medium (or 6 small) golden potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 big leeks, sliced into half moons
6 cups water, stock, or combination
8 ounces heavy cream (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional toppings: 4 slices bacon, crumbled, croutons, chopped chives

Heat the butter or oil in a big soup pot over medium and start cooking the potatoes and leeks with some salt and pepper.

Add the stock, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. I usually have to turn my heat down to low to keep it lightly bubbling.

At this point, you can leave the soup as-is, or make it creamier. I took about 2 cups of the soup and blended it up with my immersion blender, then added it back into the pot. You can do this with as much soup as you like, depending on how many potato chunks you want to keep.

Finally, add the cream, and let it cook for a few more minutes. Serve with yummy toppings.

I was thinking this soup might be good with some crispy homemade croutons, so I looked up a recipe for that, too. I was surprised to see that Bittman recommends cooking them on the stovetop rather than the oven. I’d never heard of that, but it totally works!

I used half of this lovely Italian batard from Acme Bread.

Croutons
adapted from “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 3/4-inch slices good bread, cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and garlic in a big skillet, and just when the garlic starts to sizzle, drop in the bread cubes. Toss them around and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Keep tossing the cubes until they soak up the oil and start to brown. Turn off the heat before the garlic gets too burnt.

These were so good in the soup. Part of them stayed crunchy and part of them soaked up the broth.

Next time I might use butter instead of olive oil for better flavor, or maybe a combination of both. I will definitely be making these again.