Friday, September 30, 2011

Sushi Success and Edamame Mustaches

My oldest daughter really loves Japanese food. Last year for her 11th birthday we took her and her friends to a hibachi style Japanese restaurant. This year she wanted sushi, so we decided to have a party at home. This gorgeous sushi platter was made for us by a local Japanese restaurant. It was so delicious and fresh. I had never been to this restaurant before, but I picked it because it had so many vegan rolls on the menu. Great choice!

I made the rest of the meal myself. Edamame, salad with "Japanese restaurant" dressing, and garlic noodles! This summer on our annual Lake George trip, we ate at our favorite Japanese restaurant (and the only good restaurant in Lake George). It is actually a Chinese and Japanese restaurant, and I usually order Szechuan tofu there. This year we went with friends, and they wanted to sit on the hibachi grill side. They made these garlic noodles on the grill that my daughter could not get enough of. They are made of spaghetti, tons of garlic, butter (Earth Balance), soy sauce, and brown sugar. So simple and so delicious! It cracks me up to see the big gobs of butter they put on everything at hibachi restaurants. Do the real Japanese even use butter at all?

Here is the salad dressing made from this recipe. I substituted carrot for the celery. I think it really tasted like the dressing at the Japanese restaurants! I have tried many times to duplicate it and this is the closest I have come.

That is the birthday girl with the edamame mustache.

Of course the little girls only ate the noodles.

Except for this one....she eats everything I give her. It is a pleasure to have her over for dinner!

Because we are an omnivorous household, my husband grilled some chicken, thinking most of the girls would not eat sushi. I was so pleased that the chicken went almost untouched - only one girl had any! And yet the vegan seaweedy sushi was devoured. A great party all around!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mom's Special Cereal

 Doesn't my pantry look like Seinfeld's? We always have at least 5 or 6 cereal boxes open at the same time. This drives me crazy - hate stale cereal.

This one is what my daughter calls "Mom's Special Cereal." We used to be able to get a cereal called "Familia." It was raw oats, nuts and dried fruit. Not sure you can even get it anymore, and it was super expensive. So here is my own version. I have been making it for years and it never gets old!

Mom's Special Cereal

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (you can mix in other rolled cereals for variety)
1/2 c sunflower seeds, chopped
1/2 c almonds, chopped
2 cups dried fruit, chopped (have at least some tart fruit like cranberries or cherries. A bag of mixed chopped dried fruit works nicely and is super easy.)
2 t cinnamon
3 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract

Mix together the oats, nuts and fruit. Sprinkle the cinnamon and extracts over the top and mix well. Cover and wait a day before eating (to let everything get scented with the cinnamon and extracts). Pour milk of your choice (I prefer vanilla Silk) over cereal 5 minutes before eating so the cereal gets soft. 

No sugar needed!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Gluten Free Adventures

Once again I am trying to be gluten free for a while to ease my achy joints. It annoys me to be so creaky at this age - thought I had at least another ten years before that. It has been a week, and I must admit i do feel better. An interesting side benefit is that I am not even thinking about candy. I know I have mentioned what a sugar junkie I am - mostly candy and cookies. When I try to quit sugar, I always crave it. But I am not really trying to quit sugar, just gluten. And I haven't thought about candy once! Also, I do have a marked increase in energy. I have never been an energetic person. Usually I get really tired around 3 pm, and also around 9 pm. Not having those energy slumps at all this week. Don't know how long I'll be able to keep this up. It's easy at home, but really hard on the outside. I am grateful that I do not have celiac, where even a trace of gluten is dangerous to your health!

Although of course it is better to concentrate on whole foods, I wanted to try some gluten free pasta. This is a famous one, and it is pretty good. A bit too much of an aftertaste to eat plain, but it is good mixed with sauce and veggies.

Tomato rice soup with the last of the basil from my yard.

The kid who won't eat anything loves kale chips!

I am grateful to Trader Joe's who makes specialty products that are affordable. This bread is too heavy for a sandwich, but makes good toast!

Oats are naturally gluten free, but most commercial products have cross contamination from wheat (both from processing and from wheat fields grown close to oats). Trader Joe's gluten free oats are $3.99. Similar product in Whole Foods was $7.99!

I mentioned the Paula Reds last fall. They are only available for 3 weeks in September. At my old house I used to drive out to a farm a half hour away just to get them. Here I found them in my local grocery store!

Gratuitous dog shot. Their hair is finally growing back in. I think this is a good look for them!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Musical Fruit

I have been on a bean kick lately. Although it may seem odd to be eating hot soup in hot weather, to me beans are a very light and digestible protein when compared to eating animal flesh. As a kid I always hated a big grilled steak in summer, which felt like it sat for hours and hours in my stomach.

I have been cooking out of a new book, "The Indian Slow Cooker," by Anupy Singla. First up is Dad's Rajmah, a red kidney bean dish with a relish of raw onion, cilantro, hot pepper flakes, salt and lime juice.  Very delicious.

Next is yellow spit pea (split moong) dal. Here is what is looks like going in....

.....and the finished product! I didn't like this one as much as the Rajmah.  Interestingly, I read an article about slow cooking that says the long cooking can make the spices fade and give a bitter taste. That is exactly what I experienced! Perhaps that is why in traditional Indian cooking the spices are sauteed separately and added at the end of cooking. Need to do some more experimenting on this one. One thing I really like about this book is that they show pictures of all the different kinds of beans. I find that in some Indian cookbooks, the names they use often mean different things (eg. lentils don't always mean the brown ones we are used to).

This is the hummus from "Peas and Thank You." The recipe instructs you to peel the chickpeas for an ultra smooth and creamy hummus. I probably would not do that every time, but the hummus was delicious. I haven't had homemade in a while - it is so much more lemony and tahini-ish that store bought!

Here are some veggies from my neighbor's garden. I wish the perspective was better - that zucchini was as big as a small baseball bat! I used it to make a raw zucchini salad marinated in lemon dressing. I'm not much for raw zucchini, but this salad was good. I made ribbons of zucchini with a vegetable peeler. They were very thin and kind of "cooked" in the dressing - kind of like an escabeche. Pretty too - but I forgot to snap a pic.

Is there anything better than a tomato sandwich? These tomatoes were the real deal. When I ran out, I bought some at the farmer's market and they were terrible! All white and mealy inside. Next year I must grow my own!