Tag Archives: vegetables

well i’ll be cabbaged …and a holiday nog tip

hello everyone. i am gratified to share that we are starting to get some decent viewership on this blog! hopefully we’ll find our way together to getting more of your input and foster some dialogue. but so far, i am definitely feeling a measure of contentment knowing that the three ‘tines’ of taste, health, and low-cost are resonating out in webland. Thank you!!

this is fundamentally a blog about self care. so i must come clean. my last two to three weeks of workload definitely pulled me under. literally it felt like mounds of work came in on some huge tidal wave and landed at the mouth of my office door. well, its been handled. deadlines, quality met…in the process i did the work of 3 people. I leaned on my husband alot who was so cool about figuring out how to feed me and took on nearly every personal and household chore that needed immediate attention. even making my side dish to donate for a work event. (Green beans with coconut and mustard seed. Thank you American Masala!) am i glad that’s over. but also i gave in. we ate some frozen meals…like pizza from whole foods…we ate out more than I would have liked. so, in general, it was a challenge being present. it really was. and i am sad about that.

the weight thing is steady. I have gained about a pound at most since Thanksgiving. That includes about 3 holiday parties we have been to so far. i was present at this fabulous party last night. friends with great senses of humor to the rescue.

so here i am in a weekend where i am restoring spirit. I started the day with some meditation and will go back to it after this post. My wonderful mother in law also lifted my spirits bringing me back to my big picture…Thanks mom! I don’t know what I accomplished the last 3 weeks, it feels perhaps that the sacrifice was a little too much (again). but she reminded of feeling some accomplishment along the way. I did alot!

so today, my husband and I talked about the week’s meal planning (no we don’t usually do this but it went great!)..identifying proteins, vegetables, lunches, fruits, etc. he did the grocery shopping without me!!

in terms of cooking, i am picking up the thread from the last post in that I had a half-head of red cabbage left over from last weekend. I grabbed for it which meant i really relished our experience with the indian crepes. This time though, my inspiration was mixing cabbage wth walnuts which my husband brought home because our stock was getting low. My cookbooks did not inspire and I turned to the web.

Well, its cabbage cabbage everywhere on the web it appears. First, one of my kindred spirits in healthy eating, Margaret Rose Shulman has several cabbage recipes out in December. The one that caught my eye is the one discussing its nutritional contents. Apparently, cabbage is “an excellent source of vitamins K and C, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, folate, manganese and Omega 3 fatty acids.” Another wordpress food blog writer, Jaya, also wrote about these nutrients. She also adds that these nutrients are especially good for women. As a side it seems that Ms. Shulman is also writing about how inexpensive cabbage is as a vegetable…seems like they are starting to finally combine discussions on health and dollars. Will need to investigate this further…Overall, I am definitely curious about more experiments with red cabbage because it seems really versatile in terms of texture and taste…sweet, tart, crunchy, nutty, etc!

The link to the Shulman column is here and it contains a recipe for cabbage and lentil which is essentially a twist of what we ended up eating tonight. See previous post on lentils for their cost per serving. Cabbage just by itself is about twenty cents a serving.

I did want to point you to Jaya’s blog entry on cabbage as well. Her recipe leaves the cabbage crunchy yet baked which is an awesome way to eat it. She also combines it with nuts (savory) and sweetness/tartness (by using cranberries or raisins) which is right on the money. I was not a huge fan of the overall flavor in this one and need to experiment with it more. I would likely need less chili powder in it. It is very simple and gets huge points for that as well being nutritious. Adding a half-cup of walnuts doubles the price to about $0.40 cents a serving; with the grapeseed oil and raisins this recipe goes above $0.50 cents a serving.

Finally, here is my tip on holiday nog. It a product called Silk (soy milk) and its seasonal flavor, Nog (look at the bottom of the page). It has 2 grams of fat for every half-cup serving, so 4 grams total, and it has only 12 grams of sugar which is much better than most processed nogs. You have only 3 grams of protein (in the half-cup). Real nog has more protein because of the egg but you leave out the fat from the yolks. It is so yummy and I am really loving it as my indulgent treat for the winter nesting season. 🙂 Its $2.99 for a quart (yes, its a treat) at Whole Foods. Enjoy!

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A bowl, a whisk, a spatula, and a frying pan; or my first fusion dish ever!

I had fun with a new creation this morning. Its made with Indian crepes called cheelas. I was inspired to make it because I had made a savory filling for a tart over thanksgiving that I never ended up making. (Plus, though I brought the filling home, I left the crust in my sister’s fridge!) Cheela batter is healthier than regular crepe batter. Here I fused it with a traditional French (Provencal) based savory filling of red cabbage and onion.

The filling was for a cabbage and red onion tart from the Martha Stewart Living website (i provide the link here). I was nervous about serving a cabbage filling (kind of a departure for me i guess) but it came out wonderfully..sweet and a touch of vinegar-y. They ended up being a perfect compliment to the indian crepes (cheela(s)). Marvelous, and my first fusion concontion to boot! There are a few reasons why I thought it was valuable to share.

  • Indian crepes are made out of chickpea flour (besan) so they are full of protein.

I checked the nutrition data tool (LOVE THIS!) and it says one cup of chick pea flour contains 21 grams of protein. I made 8 crepes which meant about 175 calories each for my husband and I, just for the crepes without the filling. The total distribution from these crepes are about 61% carbs, 25% protein and 14% fat. That is from the flour alone. It also seems to contain thyamine and is a good source of manganese and folate. So good for all you pregnant woman right?

  • The batter does not contain fat. It contains spices, chopped up chili peppers and herbs (like cilantro) and it is thinned with water. Chick pea flour can be tricky to make tasty (I used to find it so) but with a few standard Indian spices, it is getting easier. I used the recipe from American Masala (of course) for the crepes (cheela). I am not going to duplicate the recipe here since I definitely encourage people buying this lovely book. I did add black pepper to the batter since my filling was something based in French flavors and i wanted to compliment that. But I also added garam masala and cumin seeds since I did not have some of ingredients on hand that he recommended. My mom has her own recipe but it saved me a phone call. I did want to say that over time, you will evolve your own mix of spices to add to the batter. You basically whisk the batter together to a thin pancake like consistency.
  • Using Sarvan’s technique, I used only 1/4 tspn of oil for each crepe during cooking. As I progressed I was able to use less and less since the oil from the previous crepe would remain at the bottom of the pan to assist with the next one.
  • Notes, tips and observation on cooking the crepes. I originally made the mistake of putting in way too much batter…i also subconsciously thought i had to put oil in the pan to cook the crepes. The whole thing just stuck together to the bottom of the frying pan like bad eggmaking can sometimes do. I had to scrape the whole thing off and start over! The second time I used a non-stick pan and heated it with no oil at the bottom. I was careful to use about 1/4 cup of batter like Sarvan suggested and quickly circled the batter from the center out to make it as large as possible. Once I did that I drizzled a 1/4 tsp of oil over it. and then I let it cook until the bottom turned golden brown. Now, I still have room for improvement. I need to learn to make the circles thinner and wider quickly. My crepes were likely smaller than they needed to be. The heat has to be right because the chick pea flour cooks quickly and while you want to get the bottom golden brown, you also want the get the whole thing dry on the top too. Still, i’m so happy with my first batch. I have never succeeded in getting them off the pan and these turned out to be eminently flippable.

Thanks to both Sarvan and Martha Stewart for my first fusion creation! This was a perfect breakfast/brunch dish coming home from Thanksgiving.

Cost per serving: Chick pea flour and cabbage and onion. Oh my god, this is like the mother of all staples. I am going to the math quickly on this, rather than too precisely. I included the price of the cabbage, red onion, 1 cup of besan flour, the thyme in the cabbage red onion filling, and the oil in the whole recipe for four servings (each serving is 2 stuffed crepes). I come up to $0.40 cents a serving

Love, American Masala style: the Cauliflower

You may feel skeptical about using the word “love” to describe one’s relationship to the cauliflower, but you can easily fall in love with how simple it is to create something delicious using Indian spices with this recipe. The recipe is from American Masala, the cook book I have recommended in previous posts and the link to which you can find on my side bar. I am not even sure what I did qualifies as cooking…I used one bowl to combine several spices with oil, then coated the cauliflower pieces (with onion) and then baked in a baking dish at 450 degrees for 45 minutes. How easy was that? Super easy and super fragrant. Be sure to pause to revel in the spices after they ground and after they are mixed into the oil.

Cardamon Roasted Cauliflower

Cardamon Roasted Cauliflower

Here are the spices. Feel free to ask me any questions about them:

  • Cardamom pods (green), 3
  • Coriander seeds, 1 tbspn
  • Cumin seeds, 1 tspn
  • Dried red chilies, 3 (I used about a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes)
  • Whole peppercorns, 1/2 tsp

Put all of this in a coffee grinder (or small food processor) until you have a fine powder. Then measure 1/3 cup of EVOO into a bowl. I used, as viewers of this blog know, grapeseed oil as substitution. I don’t mind using EVOO in this, just don’t have any on hand right now. Mix the spices into the oil (and inhale…). Then toss your cut up florets into the mixture and coat. Saran (the author) uses one whole head of cauliflower plus 1 medium size onion (sliced finely). Coat thoroughly and then place the vegetables in a baking tray and roast until they are tender at 450 degrees. He says about an hour and I found it was done in about 45 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle with kosher salt and serve. I wonder if it would add flavor to it if you chopped up an herb like cilantro finely and also mixed it in the oil/spice mix. Even without it, the flavors just pop in your mouth. I do love that part of the American Masala style! 🙂

Price per serving: for a generous serving I would say $0.71 cents a serving. This includes the price of the cauliflower and the oil, the two prime ingredients. It is a tad expensive and its because cauliflower is expensive and I used organic cauliflower to boot. As usual, the price doesn’t include spices because I do believe these are an investment unless you are able to buy them in bulk. (In which case, more power to YOU). Any suggestions on how to lower the price are welcome.

Thanksgiving feast

I would love for people over the coming week to share any recipes that they are excited about making. I am actually going to take it a tad easy this year as my energies are going to other outlets. I am contemplating something with poached pears…I will make potatoes masala from the American Masala cookbook (my mom’s request) and maybe pumpkin soup.

Sweet Potato Puree with Apples

Sweet potato puree (Margaret Rose Shulman, NYT)

Sweet potato puree (Margaret Rose Shulman, NYT)

This recipe caught my eye because it looked almost like a sweet potato pudding and also because I loved that it could be served out of a fun glass. People love being served anything out of little cups, wine glasses, or martini glasses! This is also from Margaret Rose Shulman from the NYT!

Ode to the Fig

Recipes seem to be one of the areas where people’s creativities, passion, and energies are alive and well on the internet. Figs were kind of reintroduced to my life last summer when we went to visit our friends Lindsay and Derek in Atlanta (shout out, Hi!) and Lindsay baked us this beautiful cake full of figs picked ripe from a laden tree in her yard. Simple and extremely yummy. it does seem like God gave it a hefty dose of succulence…so, what is the best way to enjoy this fruit? There are seemingly endless ways. I did want to highlight a new blog on this site, called A Mingling of Tastes. I loved her post on the fig.

Fresh Figs from A Mingling of Tastes food blog

Fresh Figs from A Mingling of Tastes food blog

Well worth checking out–she has excellent pictures and steps for each process. She has three recipes to make up her self described menage a trois:

  • Fresh Figs
  • Fig and Goat Cheese Tart
  • Fig Pizza!

Now, I wanted to add my own recent experience. A little heat goes a long way to caramelize the insides and make something that could be a little dry become succulent and juicy. 🙂 I can also recommend making a potage with dried figs, using it with meat. For example, we made a thai massaman curry this week.

  • 1 can of massaman curry from the Asian store, it came with potatoes
  • Big chunks of chopped carrots
  • Potatoes in the same size (if the curry mix doesn’t come with it)
  • Dried figs cut in half
  • Chicken thighs, skinless
  • Simmer until cooked and serve over rice (we used brown basamati)

I am betting other vegetables like cauliflower or other dried fruit like apricots would work well in this too. I just let it simmer and simmer until the chicken was cooked and the carrots were tender. The flavors were highly complimentary. The potatoes soak up the heat of the curry which is helpful to our little tongues when eating. But the carrots and the figs add a sweetness. I was most pleased with the texture of the figs after cooking. I had dried figs which i had kept air tight for nearly a year! they were pretty dry and hard when i started. I managed to cut them. after steaming in the heat though, the insides were almost like a fig newton – dark, thick, sweet. Just a great play on flavors. So there you are, a wonderful job on fig from someone else’s blog and our own modest recipe at home this week. One note on the Massaman can of curry from the asian store though. it had a ton of oil. Much of it easily separated from the main mass of congealed spices which is the essence of the curry, so we ladled more than a half-cup out for our own sanity.

Price for this may take some figuring out. I made about 5 servings, not counting the rice. I think its probably under $2 a serving but will do the math and post it when I do!

The Beet

Steamed Beet Salad with herbed goat cheese and balsamic vinegar

Steamed Beet Salad with herbed goat cheese and balsamic vinegar

When spring started slipping into summer this year, it also brought a new food to our home: the beet. There seemed to have been multiple chance meetings–an article in the NYT on the 11 best foods, a random walk through our local farmer’s market in Vienna where we felt tentative about buying some but were assured by others in the crowd about what to do, and best of all, my Trader’s Joes find of ready-to-eat steamed beets for under $2 (you get six).

The NYT post says to think of beets as red spinach. Its most healthy raw apparently. I was never brave enough to buy them raw, thinking I didn’t know what to do with them. I was at a Farmer’s Market in NJ and found that they sold them sans greens so I got some. I took out my bamboo steamer (these are cheap at Chinese markets) and placed two beets in it and let them steam away. It took a good 30 minutes but I was rewarded. I hadn’t imagined that the skins would get so soft. It was simple to peel them off and slice up the beets. I got to do whatever I wanted in those 30 minutes while they steamed, to boot. Again, since I didn’t really have a go-to recipe, I turned to my imagination which could only show me one thing, a beet salad. I drizzled or sprinkled the following:

o some grapeseed oil (obviously olive oil is good) (Trader Joes)
o some balsamic vinegar (Trader Joes Modena, good quality stuff)
o toasted pine nuts (from my store of Whole Foods bulk section pine nuts)
o goat cheese.
o black pepper

I decided to save money on the goat cheese since it didn’t call for alot and got a 5 ounce package of herbed goat cheese from Trader Joes for $2.49. This is delicious and quick and a great way to get in one or two servings of vegetables.

Cost per serving: appoximately $0.63. I made 2 servings, each using 1 beet.

Alternative approach: Interestingly enough, though I bought the beets raw, I didn’t really save much money there. The pre-steamed ones at TJ’s are also $1.99. However, the raw beets were easily much bigger so presumably I would have to use less of them. The packaging from the pre-steamed ones is also an environmental issue. But given the time and nutrional value with no price differential, I would say you doing well even if you bought them cooked. My sense is that if I had bought the beets with the greens intact, I may have likely saved a few more cents. but i’m glad i didn’t have to deal with the hassle of washing and chopping them for now. 🙂