food

RI: berry beet compote

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I haven’t been cooking much creatively lately as I sort of fell out of line with my one true passion for a while. For a number of reasons, I thought I needed a different hobby; needed to get involved in a new creative venture. I’m slowly getting back into the kitchen, starting with simple, whole foods recipes that don’t require much effort. And, with the move, I’m trying to use up the random things left in my pantry, so I guess things do tend to get a bit interesting!

This RI: Recipe Inspiration series is intended to be a round up of flavor combinations, recipe techniques and ingredient profiles to encourage you to be playful and experimental in the kitchen. I don’t follow recipes very often, and I think it’s a good thing! We can flex our creative muscles and find things to fill up our dinner plate from what we have already lying around. Here we go!

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MIXED BERRY + BEET COMPOTE

Week after week, my CSA box was full of beets. I love beets, but it was a bit much. I steamed and froze some of them for future use, and the future of cleaning-out-the-freezer-before-the-move was coming up quick. Along with a bag of frozen mixed berries, I stewed everything together. Berries are a low-sugar fruit, and beets are a high-sugar vegetable, so #balance, and earthy-meets-sour notes abound. Paired with one the of the many options listed below, the flavor combo is right on. It’s absolutely delicious.

What you will need:

  1. Mixed berries (fresh or frozen), such as blueberries, black berries, raspberries, strawberries
  2. Fresh or frozen steamed beets, chopped
  3. Coconut sugar or other natural sweetener (honey or maple syrup work well)

What to do:

  1. To a saucepan, add berries and beets. There will be juices after a while; continue to stir while it comes to a low boil and the juices begin to evaporate.
  2. Add in coconut sugar. I added one tablespoon per cup of fruit and it’s still pretty tart. If you want it sweeter, add more.
  3. Once the sauce is the consistency you like (I like it not too thick, but not runny), transfer some of the compote (especially the beets) to a blender and quickly blend to chop up the beets. Add back to saucepan and stir to combine.

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How to use:

  • Serve over pancakes, waffles, cereal, toast.
  • Swirl into yogurt, ice cream.
  • Fill crepes, jam bars, thumbprint cookies.
  • Spread on sweet and savory sandwiches.
  • Can be used as a sauce for baked chicken or fish.
  • Shown here stirred into full-fat coconut milk for a yogurt-style snack.

Tips:

  • If your compote is still pretty tart, serve it with fatty, sweet components to mute it down a bit.
  • I like to eat it with plain coconut milk because the heavy, creamy mixture supports VATA balance.
  • If you are feeling KAPHA or PITTA, you might enjoy it with a bit of ice cream.
  • You can make a compote out of any fruit. Fruits that are more ripe and sweet likely won’t need an added sweetener.
  • You can blend it smooth if desired.

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i said i would

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It’s like I’m on the verge of my future.  I sit at the edge of my seat, broad face into the sun, the breeze.

There’s a whole world out there, wide and silent.  The moment you’re celebrating a birthday in a dark, moody bar someone else is running for their life down a dusty dirt road.  The flames go up for a stranger halfway around the world while you’re cozy inside listening to the rain beat down the window.  There is a constant balancing of energy, weight pulled this way and that, echoing times past and present and just near enough upon which to exhale.  Meanings and signs and symbols and explanations and possibilities can all be found but do they ultimately exist?  Can I face the world and the continuation of time if there’s no reason for it all?  Can I turn my back if there is?

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It’s the rainy season here.  In my past lives it was an inconvenience but here, it’s everyone’s sigh of relief.  How perspective can change everything.  I wonder how I so easily absorb into the soil upon which I step.  When I was so decidedly an urbanite on the gritty Chicago streets.  When I lazed away in Rome, smoked up in Denver, suburban mommed for my parents and brothers in Iowa.  And now, here, what?  In this small town that gets smaller as the days go on.  I’ve said it over and over again how much I’m enjoying it here, but my heart still yearns for the city life; I’m always craving something.

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1. BREAKFAST: Chocolate chia strawberry protein mousse with a base of coconut milk.  It was last night’s dinner and quite filling, but fermented overnight in the fridge due to the probiotic-rich protein powder.  It wasn’t the worst thing, but my coworker did comment on its funky smell and all the “weird” things I eat!   coconut milk | coconut water | protein powder | frozen strawberries | maple syrup | chia seeds | pink salt | cacao powder | vanilla | cinnamon

2. MIDMORNING SNACK: Last week was unfairly doughnut-heavy at the office, so I brought a monochromatic fruit salad to offset the junk.  Mangoes are my absolutely favorite fruit lately and pineapple is always a winner.  Featuring a serving bowl I stole (inherited) from my grandma after her funeral in December.

3.  LUNCH: Roasted butternut squash, blackened sweet peppers, steamed baby greens, and a fried egg.  Seasoned with ginger, pink salt, pepper, and ground mustard.  

4.  SWEET BITE: Here’s an easy snack trick for when you don’t plan ahead and make a hundred energy balls for the freezer (because you’d eat them all on the first day anyway).  Combine nut butter, rolled oats, vanilla, salt, cinnamon in a bowl and mix.  Add chocolate if you have it.  A deconstructed energy ball.  

5.  DINNER: Savory grits made with lotsa buttah, and a hash of sauteed vegetables, including rainbow carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, shiitake mushrooms, and baby greens.  Seasoned with coconut aminos, hot sauce, paprika, pink salt, black pepper, and chili powder.  The grits come together very simply by cooking non-GMO cornmeal with water, butter and salt in a small saucepan, like you would oatmeal.  

fu-un

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We are currently nursing a post-yoga turmeric tonic.  At lunchtime, we slammed ginger lemon shots.  One of us is sick, another feels it coming on and a third (me) feels the subtleties shifting inside me raising a flag.  Two days ago I was out of sync with the universe; or at least that’s how it felt.  I told my coworkers to look out, because I’d woken up on the wrong side of the bed.  We laughed and they joked with me and, ultimately, everything was fine.  But anytime the phone rang I was irritated.  And as if I was being plotted against, everyone on the other end of the line had dementia and a thick accent.  The stapler wanted to see me use my fine motor skills AND my upper body strength (to no avail).  My kimono with the cute little fringe on the bottom kept snagging on everything and cartoonishly pulling me backwards, knocking over chairs and signs and generally drawing attention to myself.  (Eye roll.)  I was in a funk, my head hurt, and a dear friend mentioned that she usually gets that way when she’s getting sick and her body is busy fighting for her.  I wondered; it reminded me of the Pixar movie about feelings and how, when certain ones were preoccupied, or one was left alone in the control room, things leaned precariously in one direction.

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I’m constantly striving to remain balanced in my health – physically and mentally and otherworldly – and I generally have a sense of why things are off-kilter.  And I have a wonderful community around me, including folks far far away, to set me upright when I’m tipping over.  What of people who don’t find themselves in the way of self-awareness?  What of people who don’t have social supports, or at least not ones that can help them get to where they want to go?  Side note: There’s been a rather widespread conversation about the homeless population in my small town and it has me fizzled.  I’m not doing anything in the way of direct service to that community, as I did for years in other cities.  But people’s ideas about homelessness and “what to do about it” still get my gills (seriously, colloquialisms are highly encouraged here…).  More on that another day.

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You know what I was thinking today?  That I’m having fun.  I’m having fun at my job – the office from the seventies that does everything by-the-book and with oh-so-much civil comedy.  I’m having more fun at the Y than I did when I worked there, yoga-ing with my brother and goofing around with my old coworkers.  I’m having fun with the dog (big surprise) and I’m reading a really good book and knitting a new project and going on a date.  And today I got revenge on that stapler by banishing it to the stock room.  Sometimes it’s right and necessary to set up our demons in a cool dark corner where they don’t mold or cook themselves but just set and wait until someone is willing to tinker around and fix them.

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  1. A girl and her dog at enjoying the brightness before the sunset.
  2. A sort of baba ghanoush (originally posted on my instagram) created on the fly by pureeing a whole burnt eggplant with a roasted red pepper and some salt, pepper, and good California olive oil.  A heavy sprinkle of paprika and it becomes a meal for dipping turmeric-roasted potatoes and baby greens (which I do eat with my fingers…)
  3. Dog contemplates forest.
  4. Dog contemplates old building at the local mission site.
  5. Dog finds fresh water.  Dog does not understand why people have to drink bottled water or why cities have to contaminate their water sources with poison.
  6. Dog wishes he could’ve eaten this: spaghetti squash with the leftover Christmas turkey (steamed in parchment paper to keep it juicy), whiskey-caramelized onions, a mashed up California veggie burger, and a creamy vegan sauce made with pantry staples like almond milk and tapioca starch, happy powder (nutritional yeast) and other spices.  Topped with avocado.  THIS was decadence.

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The next time you see me, I’ll officially be a student at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition.  Words can barely describe how elated I am to begin this journey; pictures of food do a little more justice.  I have been waiting for this experience since I discovered the program shortly after it had begun last year.  Meghan Telpner has been a sort of personal hero – if not for her advocacy for an ethical lifestyle, than for unabashedly spreading her vibrant personality wherever she goes.  I am giddy for the day I can add a professional stamp to my love of food and find a way to turn my passion and, more integrally, my way of life, into my livelihood.

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CURRY NOODLE SOUP: I feel very strongly about leftovers.  There are obvious implications of food waste, and most pertinent to my current life is $$$$.  So I’m willing to eat leftovers all week.  And if the original flavor isn’t as tasty on the third day, I find a way to revamp the dish rather than feed it to the garbage monster.  This soup started as your standard vegetable – kind of bland, but good for a meal.  Then it was curried (always a good idea when you don’t know how to alter the spices appropriately).  THEN I threw in some ramen noodles and topped it with sesame seeds.  Next level.

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OAT CACAO SHAKE: I must confess, despite my appearance as a “health food” blogger/person, my life is made up of very few smoothies, shakes, and salads.  GASP!  You can’t join the mathletes, it’s social suicide!  This Bad Kid brand is ringing true more and more every day…

Allorah, they do surface every now and then, and I definitely don’t regret them.  This shake contains the following.  Why no measurements, you ask?  Everyone likes their blends a different consistency and flavor, and I don’t even own measuring spoons…

almond milk | oats | hemp seeds | maca powder | cacao powder | honey | coconut oil | ice cubes

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I can officially say I now enjoy the texture of watermelon after being exposed to the organic variety we carry at work. It’s always been too mushy and watery. Maybe it’s the overstated anthem of the age – to “go organic” – but when you can see/taste/love the difference, it makes all the difference.  Jared even said the other day, “I do think we should only buy market strawberries. They just taste so much better!” I was like, A+, brother! So we’ve been on the hunt. BUT you still have to be careful at the market because conventionally-grown produce sneaks its way in, confusing shoppers and disappointing die-hards who seek farm-to-table options. More on that in a later post.

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So it’s probably apparent, and should be by the end of this post, that I’ve been cooking almost exclusively out of Heidi Swanson’s Near & Far cookbook. It has so many wonderful interpretations of global dishes and I am hooked! It doesn’t help that I only own three cookbooks anyway… This is the Root Donburi from the Japanese chapter. It has introduced me to umaboshi (pickled plums) and I am in love!

*I’ve linked to Heidi’s book via BKK so many times that it reads as an unofficial ad.  #SNS

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Also from Heidi, the best turmeric tonic I’ve had to date. It starts with a honey-turmeric paste (shown above) which I think makes all the difference. I’ve been drinking this in the AM after our rigorous hikes as turmeric is anti-inflammatory and our muscles be achin’!

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Making sauerkraut at work!  How do you get your ferment on?

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The image above and the rest that follow are pieces of our “weekend.”  With our overlapping schedules, the only times Jared and I have to adventure together are between my shifts on Wednesdays, and Thursday evening.  The days are exhausting and leave me with that sweet Zen Zone where everything is righteous and golden.  Here we are exploring from Montecito (just outside Santa Barbara), up to San Luis Obispo.

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