Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Recipe of the Week, with modifcations...

Sorry about the low quality, indoor-at-night, with-a-flash photo



I had to make a few modifications to this recipe. First of all, my local, amazing Co-op did not have water chestnuts...which is fine with me because I think canned water chestnuts are lame...so for the crunch factor I substituted half of a Chioggia beet (which is a beautiful thing) lightly blanched and cooled, and a few stalks of celery. Second, I added one fresh jalapeño, finely diced, to give it a little zip. Third, I love citrus so I used the juice and zest of a whole lime, not just a half. It improved the salad.
This salad is delicious and I will be making it regularly but next time I will cut back on the amount of onion. I find it too oniony.

Here is the recipe from Forks Over Knives and the link...

By Ann and Jane Esselstyn
Makes 4 bowls
Ready In: 8 minutes

Two 16-ounce cans black beans 
(I used beans that I soaked overnight and then cooked. Why use canned beans??)
drained and rinsed WELL!
1 very large tomato, chopped
1 package frozen corn (I bought frozen organic corn from the Co-op)
½ Vidalia onion, chopped (next time I will use less than this)
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
and rinsed (I substituted as noted above)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
½ lime, juice and zest (I used a whole lime)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or
more to taste (I used 4 tbsp.)

1. Add beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and water
chestnuts to a bowl (glass looks pretty) and mix.
Rinsing the beans well keeps the salad from looking
2. Add cilantro, lime, and balsamic vinegar and mix
again. Serve alone or with cucumber open-faced
sandwiches for a perfect meal.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

46 Recipes for 2015, Week Two

This week I am doing the Rice Casserole with Lentils from Forks Over Knives recipe page.

If anyone is looking for some new ways to cook vegetarian meals, this is a great site.

I ended up making the various components of this recipe on different days. I made the rice one day, the delicious tomato sauce and lentils the next day and then by Day Three I had enough time to prepare the vegetables and finish the casserole.

Here are all the components assembled in one place. You can see that this ends up being a total meal all by itself. Brown rice, lentils, tons of vegetables and some good healthy oil from the cashew nut topping.

I followed it more or less to the letter. I used twice the amount of garlic and our local Co-op had some purple sweet potatoes so I could not resist using one. 
Obviously everything is organic, much of it locally grown.

Here is the finished masterpiece. 
I am eating some as I write this and 
I definitely proclaim this dish "Potluck Worthy"*

*"Potluck Worthy" is a phase I use to describe a dish I would be comfortable cooking for other people as compared to the various concoctions I throw together at home that I eat but would probably never serve to someone else. 

Here is the recipe, copied from Forks Over Knives recipe section

By Darshana Thacker
Makes one (9 × 13-inch) casserole
Ready In: 100 minutes

This dish is a real crowd-pleaser, and is especially
good for big gatherings like Super Bowl parties. I love
it with rice, but it’s also really good with pasta. Both
options are given below. The lentils need to be
soaked for at least six hours, so be sure to plan

½ cup cashews
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon low-sodium tamari or soy
sauce, Bragg’s liquid aminos, or fresh
lime juice
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and soaked
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Sea salt
1½ cups brown rice, or 3 cups penne
2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
and cut into ½-inch dice
¼ medium cabbage, chopped into
½-inch pieces
½ medium red onion, cut into ½-inch
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch
1 bell pepper, any color, seeded and
cut into ½-inch dice
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with
their juice
1 teaspoon dried basil
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground white or
black pepper
Sea salt
1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil

1. To make the cashew crumble cheese, in a food
processor, grind the cashews into a meal (do not
overprocess into cashew butter). Transfer them to a
small bowl, and mix in the nutritional yeast. Little by
little, add the liquid of your choice, stirring with a fork
so that the mixture does not form clumps. The
mixture should be crumbly. Set aside to dry until
ready to use.
2. Place the soaked lentils in a medium saucepan
with the Italian seasoning, salt, and 1 cup water.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat
to medium, and cook, covered, until the lentils are
cooked but still firm, about 15 minutes. Be careful
not to overcook them. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, if using rice, place it in a medium
saucepan with 2½ cups water. Bring to a boil and stir
once. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and
simmer, covered, until the rice is cooked, about 25
minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand,
covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and fluff
the rice. Set aside.
4. If using pasta, bring a large saucepan of water to a
boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the
package instructions until the pasta is al dente. Drain
thoroughly and set aside.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
6. To prepare the sautéed vegetables, in a skillet with
a lid, combine the sweet potatoes, cabbage, onion,
garlic, dried basil, and 1½ cups of the vegetable
broth. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring
occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are almost
tender but still resist a bit when pierced with a knife,
15 to 20 minutes.
7. Add the zucchini and bell pepper and cook,
uncovered, until the vegetables are completely
softened, about 10 minutes.
8. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup
vegetable broth and the arrowroot powder. Whisk
until blended. Pour the mixture over the vegetables
and stir gently to coat them. Cook over medium-low
heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from the
heat and set aside.
9. Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce. In a
saucepan, combine the onion and ½ cup water.
Cover and cook over high heat until the onions are
very soft, about 10 minutes.
10. Add the tomatoes, dried basil, pepper, and salt,
and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens
a bit and the flavors merge, about 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the fresh
basil. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
11. Spread the rice or pasta in a 9 x 13-inch baking
pan that is 2 inches deep. Layer the lentils over the
rice to cover completely. Spread the sautéed
vegetables over the lentils. Spoon the tomato sauce
over the vegetables. Spread the cashew crumble
cheese all over
the top.
12. Bake until the cashew cheese turns light brown,
about 20 minutes.
13. Serve hot.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

46 Recipes for 2015, Week One

I am trying to cook the 46 recipes I found at the Forks and Knives website... seen here if you are interested: Forks Over Knives Recipes Page
I am not doing them in any particular order, but as it happens I did the first one, named "Autumn Vegetable Stew" first. Just finished making it. I followed it (more or less) to the letter the first time.

One of my hopes while I am here in Olympia is to join or start a Potluck Club for people who like to, and/or are learning to, cook healthy can come together and share their experience with recipes and share delicious, healthy food.

Obviously all the ingredients in my version of this stew were organic. Most were grown locally, some by me others purchased at our great West side Food Co-op.

One exotic ingredient in this recipe was Saffron. This is the first time I have ever cooked with Saffron. I hope it is worth it.
Saffron on Quarter, an art piece

In this picture you see the contents of a $10 package of Saffron. I used about 1/3 of it for this recipe, so I have enough for 2 more batches.

This is the stew in the 
final stages of cooking.

As I write this I am eating a bowl of this stew. I pronounce it Delicious! This definitely fits into my category "Potluck Worthy" which, unlike foods you cook only for yourself, is a category of foods you would be happy to serve for others. I think this stew would go over better with folks who appreciate variety, are into new flavors and enjoy hearty, healthy food. The "Where's the beef!!?", Folgers Coffee folks might have a harder time savouring it the way it deserves to be savoured.

I am copying this recipe below in case Forks Over Knives goes off the air..


  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1⁄2-inch slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1½ tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • Two 1-inch pieces cinnamon stick
  • 8 cups Vegetable Stock, or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into ¾ -inch pieces
  • 1 turnip, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large pinches saffron, soaked for 15 minutes in ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro

The spices in this hearty soup are classic flavors of North African cooking—a mix of sweet, savory, bright, and earthy all in one dish. Saffron may be the world’s most expensive spice, but this recipe, like most, only calls for a small amount. This dish also calls for sweet paprika, which usually refers to a milder form of the spice.
From Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook
Place the onion, carrots, and celery in a large pot and sauté for 10 minutes. Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan. Add the garlic, ginger, paprika, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon sticks and cook for 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, squash, turnip, potato, tomatoes, and chickpeas and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Add the mint and the saffron with its soaking water and season the stew with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes more, or until the vegetables are tender. Serve garnished with the cilantro.
Photo by Keepin’ it Kind
For more recipes and convenient meal preparation, download the Forks Over Knives Recipe App for iPhone and iPod touch.

My addendum to this recipe:
1. I do no agree with a "No oil" philosophy because my research indicates that oil is a crucial part of a heathy food plan so in Step One (the onion, celery and carrot) I sauteed in 1 tbsp of good oil instead of water.
2. I would add: "Wherever possible, pick out the cinnamon stick after cooking." I chomped down on a couple of pieces of cinnamon bark and it disrupted the texture and flavor blend.
 3. All my mint froze during our cold snap. It will come back when it warms up but in the mean time  I used (face turning red) the mint from a bag of organic peppermint tea, which I tore open and soaked in a similar manner to the saffron. This would not have been my first choice, but under the circumstances I consider it genius.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Porch Garden 2013, Fruit Tree Trials

Below this post are posted some of the pictures fro Porch Garden 101, which was mostly culinary and tea herbs and a tomato pruning trial.

I am finally going to try my hand at  container fruit trees. As the founder of Rescue Tree Program® which is like the rescue animal program, except trees live longer with proper care. One time I rescued a tiny 8 inch spruce from the sidewalk out front of a Walgreens Drug store  It was dry as a bone and shedding needles. That was 9 years ago and it has been my Solstice Tree ever since. 

These little beauties were dying on the warehouse floor of a Costco. Hopefully they will appreciate their new digs and take off.

Everything is ready to begin. Porch gets kind of crowded..

Both the apple and the cherry have more than one variety of fruit grafted onto the root stock. Many fruit trees need this variation in order to pollinate. This grafting technique, if successful, will work well in a small space where you can only have a few trees.

The Cherry Tree, bare roots soaking in water as I prepare her new home.

Pruning some of the longer roots.

Cherry Tree settling into her new home. If it lives I will give it a name, but I don't want to name this tree after someone until I see some vigor.
The Apple and the Cherry in place to get maximum light.  I really need to take down my Solstice lights.

Those root looking growths are actually Clematis vine starts. If they survive, maybe they will add a decorative touch.

 Some of the perennial herbs show signs of coming back this year. I placed them on top of the soil. The beauty of this is, as I water the herbs the runoff waters the trees. They look ragged right now, but just wait! 

Update 2015:

Here is the little apple tree during the summer of 2014. Because the porch it started in was enclosed, I hand-pollinated many of the blossoms. The tree set a lot of fruit but because it was so young I pruned most of the off. I know I probably should have pruned ALL of them off but I coud not resist letting 5 or 6 apples grow. They were delcious. The cherry tree did well in 2014 also, but never blossomed. I await spring of 2015 to see what it will do.

 Last years successful tomato pruning self-tutorial. What a great plant that was.

My living Solstice Tree

  Here it is decorated this last December. It has gone through a bad mite infestation where it was completely defoliated in 2007, and last summer someone stole it from its temporary spot at the community garden (but then anonymously returned it when I sent out a pleading email).


A Community Garden within a Community Garden: 

S.O.A.P. a GO! for 2014!

In addition to the 65+ pea-patch style garden plots, the Evergreen Community Gardens also features a large team plot, gardened by a dedicated group of people A community garden within a community garden.


A Part of the Evergreen Community Garden Club, 
a Registered Student Organization



Team gardener and Masters student Ashley on a hot summer day in 2012

 We have a HUGE plot in Evergreen Community Gardens dedicated to people who do not want an individual plot, but still want to get their hands dirty at Evergreen’s garden. It works great for anyone who thinks they might be gone for part of the summer, isn’t sure they want their own plot, can commit some time, but aren’t sure how much, and people who just like the idea of working on a team in a larger plot, with more crop options.
Originally proposed by graduate student and gardener, Matthew, the project is loosely modeled after the Wendell Berry Community Garden in east Olympia

Our beautiful sunflowers

Every year is a lot of fun. Last year we started with around 20 gardeners. A few moved out of the area and we ended up with way more of some food than we could use. Some things do really well, and some things kind of flop, so we learn as we go. Every season is different and there are no “experts”.

Team gardener and Masters of Environmental Studies student, Kim J. in our bean trellis

The basic plan behind the project:
  • 10 to 20 gardeners 
  • Regularly scheduled meetings especially during the planning and work party stages, but come and go as you please.
  • Everyone who participates shares in the harvest
Most beloved of all farm managers, Rose, holding one of many harvest baskets

As of today the soil is still too wet to work but there are several things we can start on.

Here is a general list of gardeny things we can do:

  • Get together and create our crop plan
  • Go through seed catalogs
  • Decide what we want to plant (so we can get seeds) and where we want to plant them (crop rotation from last year)
  • Draw a plan on garden map
  • Make a “To Do” check list to help guide gardeners who come at different times
  • Tool familiarization
S.O.A.P. team starting seeds in the beautifully expanded greenhouse, 2013 season
  • Start seeds in the greenhouse (can start now, on-going through the season)
  • Some good things to start now are hearty greens (kale, collards etc), onions, etc. 
  • Working the soil – creating seed beds
  •  Clear out old beds
  • Dig and/or double dig
  • Add soil amendments (compost, etc.)
  • Let rest for a week or so, then
  • Plant our starts
  • Garden Feng Shui

2012 team clowning at first work party of the season

  • Creative use of space
  • Thinning
  • Vertical gardening
  • Shape of the beds
  • Ornamental/Insectary borders (flowers and herbs)
  • Culinary herb patch 
  •   What herbs do we want to grow
  • Tending and maintenance
  • Watering
  • Weeding
  • Pruning   
  • Snacking
  • Harvesting 
  • Garden 
  • Potlucks
  • Helping with Community Garden upkeep
  • Doing our part for the larger garden
  • Pitching ideas/helping out with Harvest Festival

The S.O.A.P. garden group is forming now. There is still time to sign up. The first step is to
put together an Interest List.

All interested people should contact garden coordinators at tesccommunitygardens@gmail.com and they will compile a list of people interested in the Community Plot, or contact Matthew at nascentgrasshopper@gmail.com . We will be having on-going planning meetings and hope to have a work party in mid-February in preparation for April and May plantings.