Tuesday, June 05, 2007

June in the kitchen (part 1)

For the first time in my life, I ate something I grew myself. These are kamut spirals (100% whole grain, colored with spinach, annatto, and beet powders) with an herbed chickpea sauce (Vive le Vegan!), which includes my own oregano.

This week's unusual find is an Armenian cucumber (grown in SoCal). I haven't taken a photo yet, but it looks like a long, skinny cucumber with a U-shape. The Wiki stub says although it looks like a cucumber, it's actually a melon and shouldn't be peeled. Excellent!

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Most of our recipes for the last two weeks have come from Vive le Vegan! by Dreena Burton. We've been enjoying them so much I decided to keep at it a third week. I plan to write my first cookbook review in a week or two.


  • fantastic French toast
  • millet-amaranth porridge
  • blueberry bounty buns
  • orange-poppy seed muffins
  • chipotle corn black bean soup
  • earthy lentil soup
  • greek basmati rice
  • hummus tortilla pizzas
  • w/ cannellini bean yam hummus
  • orange-poppy seed dressing *
  • coconut-lime cookies **
* I thought this would be amazing on a baby spinach salad with fresh fruit (whatever's in our CSA box Thursday).

** I generally only have one dessert per month, and I've already selected the cupcakes for my birthday, which is still three weeks away. C. was the one who had a craving for bar cookies, so I found a couple with less sugar for him to choose between. These use shredded coconut and fresh lime peel and juice.

Those are all the recipes - I love trying out new ones, but I only plan for 3-4 days a week to allow for flexibility.

After last week's horrendous shopping trip, it was a relief to find Eliza an angel this week. She asked to sit in the cart while she examined the produce, and some strangers even came up to me to say what a "precious little girl" I have. I know she's precious, but it's nice to hear once in a while.

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The verdict is in. C's favorites were the French toast, chipotle corn black bean soup, and coconut-lime cookies, although he liked pretty much everything. Eliza's favorites were the cookies, the French toast, Greek basmati rice, and the spinach-strawberry salad, which she liked so much, she asked for it for breakfast the next day! She liked the blueberry bounty buns more than the orange-poppy seed muffins, and so did I. The whole barley in the muffins weighed them down (usually our muffins have whole wheat pastry flour), but the whole spelt was just perfect for the buns.

What did I like? I enjoyed almost everything, but I agree with C and E about the French toast. That was the first time I've made it in my life (I'm not sure why - I do make pancakes at least a half dozen times a year). I got a loaf of wheat batard from Whole Foods' bakery, which had white flour as its first ingredient and whole wheat as its second. It's unusual for us to eat any refined flours/grains (even cookies are whole grain), but it was definitely called for here. The cookbook's author, Dreena Burton, even said that a compromise was a good idea for this recipe. My only regret was that we had no fresh berries in the house for topping (the strawberries having already been used in spinach salad), but we did use organic whipped Earth Balance and pure maple syrup. I was very impressed, and I don't say that lightly because this happens to be the first vegan French toast I've ever had and the best french toast period. My only prior french toast experiences have been in places like IHOP or my family's wonder-bread-sopped-in-eggs variation. I tell you, if I knew french toast could be so good, I wouldn't have waited decades to make my own!

Chris and Eliza loved the coconut-lime cookies. They came out very well and were bursting with lime (zest and juice), despite their plain-Jane appearance. All I could think was that I'd rather have chocolate, but that's a chocoholic for you.

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CSA loot: June 7th

There's an organic farm a few miles up the road. In their CSA box this week we got zucchini, carrots, fennel, parsley, two kids of lettuce, red chard, an avocado, lemons, and strawberries - oh, glorious strawberries! How we used them . . .

lemons - "mock rice pilaf," "sunflower pâté" (both Raw Foods Made Easy), "Greek basmati rice"
zucchini - "mock rice pilaf" was mostly shredded zucchini
carrots - "earthy lentil soup," "chipotle corn black bean soup," and munching
chard - "earthy lentil soup" (it wasn't in the recipe, but I decided it would be a good addition)
lettuce - garden salads
strawberries - two meals' worth of spinach salad w/ "orange poppy seed dressing"
avocado - not yet used (just now fully ripened)
fennel - not yet used . . . maybe some raw fennel would go well with the avocado in a baby greens salad

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