Friday, November 25, 2011

thanksgiving 2011

My favorite holiday has come and gone, and I have to say, it was a great one.

This past month has been fantastic in terms of cooking, and I'm sorry to report that I haven't missed the blog. I'm still blog stalking and trying new recipes, still creating new dishes and using up the last of the CSA (this week was its last- sob!). I just don't think I'll keep chronicling it all on the blog. So for my farewell (maybe forever, maybe just for now) post, I thought I'd show you Thanksgiving.
Per tradition, EDW and I hosted Thanksgiving. I do everything but pie-- thanks, Arnaudins, for bringing the wine, pumpkin pie and black walnut cake! Also, I don't make gravy. I'm terrible at it. I hate it. So my pals at Earthfare whipped some up and we heated it for the meal. I was told it was delicious. (I was also told the turkey was delicious, but I tried a bite and reaffirmed my decision to not eat meat.)
This was the first year I worked all day Wednesday, and it was also the first year I didn't make a plan and schedule. I (turkey)winged it, and it was perfect. Here's what I made, from scratch. Fun fact: every vegetable you see is local except the brussels sprouts.
Thanksgiving 2011

slow roasted turkey with gravy
autumn harvest dressing with butternut squash, mushrooms and collards
brussels sprouts with figs and blue cheese
roasted green bean salad with toasted pecan vinaigrette
roasted mashed sweet potatoes with parmesan
turnip apple mash with thyme
cranberry sauce
cranberry fig compote
whole wheat oatmeal rolls

pumpkin pie
black walnut cake
whoopped cream
I'm thankful for blogs and leftovers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

cheeze sauce

After reading about Angela's cheeze sauce, I not only starred it in my reader but I took the time to email myself the link. The message to me from me with lots of cheezey love has been in my inbox for a few weeks now, and I finally got around to making the basic cheeze sauce over the weekend.

I followed the instructions pretty closely, except I microwaved my almond milk for a minute before stirring in the cornstarch, because I find things dissolve quicker in almond milk if it's not straight out of the fridge cold.

I did a basic there's-not-much-in-my-kitchen-right-now pasta with just whole wheat penne, spinach, and the sauce. And y'all. It was unbelievable.
I won't say it's incredibly cheesey, but it is incredibly creamy and flavorful. It is definitely better than mac and cheese sauce from a box, and I know I'll make it again and again. It helps that I always have the necessary ingredients on hand. It also helps that EDW loved the sauce just as much as I did.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

how to make soup

It took me a long time to learn to improvise in the kitchen, but I do feel fairly confident in my abilities now, which is why the blog has taken a slightly new direction. Once upon a time, I only made soup if I had the exact ingredients prescribed by the recipe, but now I throw them together any time I have a whole mess of vegetables to use up.

Here's my method:

Take stock of the kitchen. What vegetables are on hand? What spices will be nice with them? Are there beans in the freezer so dinner has some protein content?

Start souping.

Saute onion, garlic, and maybe a hard vegetable like carrots.

Add spices, followed by liquid and vegetables.

Bring to a boil. Add beans. Reduce heat and simmer.

Stir in greens and add more liquid as needed.

Adjust spices, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve, knowing the soup will be even better the next day and the day after.

I followed the above method twice in the past few weeks, writing down what I threw in the pot as I went. Most of the vegetables came from our CSA and dictated what I'd be putting in. Both soups yielded 4-6 servings, and both were perfect to our taste. I added the ingredients in the order they're listed.

Vegetable Soup #1:
2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 T minced garlic
1 cup chopped carrots
1 bay leaf
1 T dried parsley
1 t each of the following dried herbs: marjoram, thyme, oregano, basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups green beans
1 qt vegetable broth
2 cups chickpeas
1 bunch kale, thinly slice
(4 cups additional water needed)

Vegetable Soup #2
2 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1.5 T minced garlic
1 hot pepper, seeded and minced
1 T chili powder
2 t cumin
1 t paprika
1 t mexican oregano
3 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups water
2 cups black beans
4 ears corn, kernels removed
1 bunch kale, thinly sliced
Neither of these is a firm recipe, but it's the kind of cooking I've been mostly doing. EDW is happy. I'm happy. The vegetables are happy.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


If you've been following for a while, I'm sure you've noticed the recent drop in posts. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I should be a blogger anymore.

I started my cooking resolutions in 2009 to keep myself accountable in learning to cook. At first, I was trying one new recipe a week. The next year, I vowed to blog about it. This year, I decided to make up more recipes. I've done them all, and I really do feel like I know how to cook now. I'm good at following recipes, but more exciting to me is that I'm good at throwing together a delicious meal on the fly. I have this blog (and my beloved CSA membership) to thank for it.

The thing is though, the writing of the blog posts has become a chore. I feel obligated to take photes of what I cook, and I feel pressure to write about it. I still think it's great fun-- sometimes. So I'm scaling back. I'm not deleting the blog, and I'm not going away forever. But the weekly CSA posts will probably stop, because I'm bored with them, and honestly, does anyone really want to see another version of my latest beans and greens combinations or hear me ruminate on the beauty of sweet potatoes and winter squash?

In case you do, here's two photes from this week. One is sweet potatoes, black beans, and chard. The other is fresh crowder peas (like black eyed peas) and roasted acorn squash with chard over rice. Both delicious. Both created by me. Neither with formal recipe to be shared.
I'm not gone forever. I'm just going back to my true passion in blogging: silently stalking the ones I love.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CSA Wednesday!

For the week of September 26, we received:

Sweet Potatoes (3 LB)
Cabbage (2)
Bell Peppers (4)
Collard Greens (1 LB)
Green Beans (1.5 LB)
Scuppernog and Muscadine Grapes (1 LB 12 oz)
It might have been my favorite box ever. First of all, I love scuppernogs. LOVE them. And muscadines? (pronounced musk-EE-dines if you're cool like me). So good. EDW hadn't had either grape before, and he was quite impressed. Lucky for us, he preferred the muscadines, while I am obsessed with scuppernogs, so sharing was easy. We each took lots to work for lunch, but we got more of the grapes we liked best. Edwin's comment on his first taste of a muscadine? "It tastes like a jolly rancher!"

We didn't do anything special with the peppers, unless you count slicing them up to take at lunch special.

I used some of the sweet potatoes (some were white and some were orange) and collards to make an Arnaudin favorite, curried lentils and sweet potatoes, on Tuesday. It was the best meal of the week, but we always think curry is the best.
One head of cabbage went into Wednesday's dinner, which was just a saute of onion, cabbage, chickpeas and raisins with smoked paprika and cumin. It's an easy meal, and we had ours, as we often do, over quinoa.
I used the green beans to make a pasta on Friday. I parboiled them first, and then I sauteed the beans with earth balance, garlic, and parsley. I also added in a bunch of spinach and the juice of a lemon. We topped ours with nutritional yeast and were quite happy.
On Sunday, I used the remaining cabbage and sweet potatoes to make caramelized onion and cabbage chowder with sweet potatoes and chickpeas.I'm already dreading the end of CSA season, which will be the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. What will I have to look forward to on Tuesdays come December?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

about the soup

About that caramelized onion and cabbage chower: It became, as it settled, one of the best soups of my life. It is no longer merely adequate-- EDW and I LOVE it. Make it. Add the sweet potatoes. Add the chickpeas. Don't eat it until the next day, and you'll be sublimely happy. And on day 3? Get ready. It's fantastic.

Monday, October 3, 2011

caramelized onion and cabbage chowder with sweet potatoes and chickpeas

I made a cabbage chowder on Sunday night. If you think you don't like cabbage, I think you don't know what you're missing.

I used the recipe for caramelized onion and savoy cabbage chowder from Vegetarian Times as my base, taking inspiration from this blog post along the way. I wanted to keep the apple cider from veg times, add the sweet potatoes from Marcus Samuelsson's website, and put my own protein filled spin on it with chickpeas.

I couldn't decide whether to use rosemary or thyme as my herb of choice, so I ended up using a bit of both ( I used dried). I also used a combination of vegetable broth and water for my liquid, and I sauteed everything with a combination of Earth Balance and olive oil, which made my version vegan.

So yeah. Lots of things happening here. Also, my sweet potatoes were white, which is exciting. As you may recall, I'm not a fan of regular white potatoes, but white sweet potatoes? Bring. Them. On. We got a pile of sweet potatoes in our CSA this week, and some were brown skinned with white innards, some were brown with red, and some were red with white-- very exciting times here in the Arnaudin house of sweet potato love. The ones Sunday night happened to all have white flesh. I stirred in some chickpeas once I got to the simmer, partially covered bit of the recipe.
The chowder was chunky and full of vegetables, but as I suspected, EDW wasn't crazy about the beans' presence. He was also thrown by the lack of orange in the chowder after I told him there were sweet potatoes. The white sweet potatoes were certainly still sweet, but I would say they didn't have as pronounced a yammy flavor as their orange counterparts.
We enjoyed our chowder, but I'm not sure I'd make it again unless I already had the ingredients on hand. It just didn't seem all that special-- it was much more in the adequately flavorful and filling category-- and won't be added to our favorites list.