Archive for October, 2007

The wildfires have been raging all week here in San Diego – so many people have been evacuated, and now over 1500 homes have been destroyed.  It’s totally surreal, because even though the fires are happening all around, you’d hardly know it from where I live.  There’s the tell-tale haze in the air, and a faint smoky smell, but we’ve been spared much of the exposure here in Ocean Beach.  Even so, they keep saying that the air quality is really bad, so we’re encouraged to stay indoors and limit activity.  To avoid becoming too news-laden and freaked out, I took on a few kitchen projects.  My camera is still traveling, so no pictures this week.  You’ll have to trust me – this is good stuff.  It’s a little time consuming, so I’d save it for a lazy Sunday.  Or a hazy Wednesday, if you’re in SD.

Three Sisters Baked Beans (adapted from Vegetarian Times)

1 cup dried beans (I used Vaquero)
1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 canned chipotle peppers
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano (thanks, Mom!) 
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
15-oz. can hominy, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
4 cups winter greens (such as collards, kale, chard)

Rinse, soak and cook the beans.  Reserve the cooking liquid and add enough water to make 4 cups. 

In a large saucepan, combine 3 cups liquid, sun-dried tomatoes, chipotles and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.  Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, and then transfer tomato-chipotle mixture to food processor and process until smooth; set aside.

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, oregano and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened, about 4 minutes. Add squash and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Stir in beans, hominy, molasses, tomato-chipotle puree and remaining 1 cup liquid. Cover, transfer to oven and bake 40 minutes.

Remove bean mixture from oven and stir in vinegar. Serve hot.

I ate the dish at this point and loved it.  On the reheat, though, I added some greens and it came to a whole new level – I’d recommend their addition – I bet even stirring them in after baking the beans would wilt them enough.  Yum.  Hearty and comforting, and perfect for eating in front of the tv, watching for any good news that might appear.

An addition: I received this attachment of homeopatic remedies to fire-related symptoms in an email from my massage school. Hopefully it will come in handy for some.

For acute anxiety, fear, shock or grief:
Rescue remedy drops or spray: Take under the tongue or pour into a water bottle and sip throughout the day. See dosage information on the bottle.
Rescue remedy be used together alone or together with any of the following homeopathic remedies:
Aconite 30c/200c: for any illness that arises from fright
Ignatia 30c/200c: for acute grief or loss.
Pulsatilla: for anxiety in children (or adults) who are weepy, clingy and want to be held.
Calcarea carbonica: for undue fear of calamities or natural disasters. They cannot sleep due to the fear of losing their homes or loved ones.
Phosphorous: for anxiety in open, excitable types who want to be able to help everyone and get ill seeing the suffering of others.
Natrum Muriaticum: These types are equally as sensitive to the suffering of others, especially if they see any injustice. They are more serious or closed than Phosphorous types. This is also useful for grief, especially long-standing or silent grief, where they are not able to cry, or hide their tears behind a brave face.

For sore throats from exposure to smoke:
Echinacea and goldenseal throat spray: take as directed on the bottle
Home-made ginger tea: Cut up fresh ginger root and add to water. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer. Drink throughout the day. (This will also help with mucus)
Zinc or Propolis throat lozenges

Eye irritation from smoke:
Try to use goggles when outside to protect your eyes. Use saline solution to rinse your eyes. If redness continues use Euphrasia eye drops or take homeopathic Euphrasia orally. For tearing, burning eyes that feel like you’ve been peeling onions, use Allium cepa (Especially if you also have a watery, burning nasal discharge)

General advice: Smoke exposure increases your need for Vitamin C, thus I recommend increasing your intake of Vitamin C during this time. Grapefruit seed extract can help your immune system deal with the air pollution.

Information provided by Tammara Guterman, homeopathic practitioner.

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I Heart Carbs

I met my good friend Jared last weekend for a meeting of awesome car crazies – a group of (mostly) dudes who are commited to greening out their cars by converting to vegetable oil or biodiesel.  Most of it went over my head, but I was only there for two reasons: because I don’t see Jared very often, and because the meeting was held at Devine Pastabilities, home of the Torpasta.


Y’all are not having some kind of a hallucination.  That, my friends, is bread stuffed with pasta.  It’s obscene, really.  They sell these at the farmer’s market every week in various incarnations (alfredo being the most heinous), but I have yet to cave.  It seems only appropriate when preparing for a marathon, which I’m not doing any time soon.  I ordered a side of holes (dirty!) and went on my merry way.

But it sure did get me into the carbalicious mood.  It’s raining in San Diego, which means that it’s nesting time.  I hunkered down this weekend with two of my favorite recipes: my mom’s Herb and Onion Bread, and my favorite Banana Bread.  The full smells filled my cottage as I spent some time crafting the world’s ugliest rag rug – pictures probably not to follow.  I’ll post about mom’s delicious savory delight later, but for now, it’s breakfast time:

Coconut Banana Bread (adapted from Cooking Light)

2 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
2 eggs
3 mashed overripe bananas
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
3 Tbsp rum
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Makes one big loaf or four mini-loaves.  My friend Tam has borrowed the camera for her trip to Thailand, so no pics today.  I’ll try to update at some point when I defrost one of these minis.  Nothing like the promise of homemade bread waiting in the freezer for a carb emergency.

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I was so proud.  Two beautiful butternut squash (squashes?) greeted me from the garden, and the blooms further down the vine gave the promise of more to come.  And then I pruned.  I was getting so ready for my winter veggies to get going, so last weekend I started clearing.  I pulled out the saddest looking tomato plants, caught up on my weeding, then pulled out the shears.  I was so pleased with my progress, and I noticed that one of the vines of the butternut squash could be taken out (and would then encourage quicker growth of the rest of the plant), so I snipped it.  And it was the wrong vine.  I killed any chance of more squash this season.  Tragic. 

At least I’ve made the most of the two successes – the first I simply roasted with a little olive oil until the skin gave when I pressed it with my finger.  I had plans for this squash, but they flew out the window and I ended up eating the whole thing with a spoon.  I even ate most of the skin, it was so light and papery.  Hopefully that won’t kill me.

The second squash received a more elegant treatment – this stew is adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone… 

Thai Tofu and Winter Squash Stew

1 small onion, chopped
2 Tbsp roasted peanut oil, plus extra for tofu
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (leave some seeds in if you like to sweat)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp light brown sugar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 15oz can coconut milk
1 ½ lbs butternut squash, peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes
1 10-oz package firm silken tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes and fried in peanut oil (you can use it raw if you’re so inclined, but I like a little extra hard texture in this dish)
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup raw peanuts
¼ cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil in wide soup pot. Add onion and cook over fairly high heat, stirring frequently until partially softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeno and ginger, cook 1 minute more, then add curry, sugar and soy.  Reduce heat to medium, scrape the pan, and cook for a few minutes more.  Add 3 cups water, coconut milk, squash and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Add the tofu to the stew once the squash is almost tender, then simmer till done. Taste for salt and add the lime juice.

The recipe mentions that you can garnish this dish with chopped fried peanuts and cilantro, but I was out of both of those.  It was just as delicious without them.


Last time I made this dish, I had some shiitake mushrooms and bok choy, and I threw them in during the saute.  This is one of those easily adaptable meals that can change with the contents of your fridge.  Enjoy!

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Leftovers for Days

Luckily, I’d gotten through most of my dinner feast preparation before the finger massacre, so I’m left with some lovely homemade leftovers to tide me over until I’m feeling up to cutting anything again.

First on the menu was baked beans (a new batch of Rancho Gordo beans just needed to be cooked!), and I found a great looking recipe in this month’s Cooking Light – it made 10 servings, so I cut it in half.  Unless you’ve got a huge crowd coming over, you’ll be fine with the half.

Sweet and Spicy Baked Beans

1 cup dry beans (the recipe asks for navy, but I used Flor de Junio beans)
4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 cup light molasses
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 minced jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper 
1 teaspoon salt

Sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight. Drain beans, reserving the liquid.  Add water to the liquid to make 4 cups.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat 5 minutes or just until crisp.  Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 5 minutes or until onion begins to brown, stirring often. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring often. Add molasses, sugar, jalapeño, mustard, and red pepper; stir to combine. Stir in beans and the 4 cups of reserved bean liquid and water. Increase heat to medium-high; bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat. Cover and bake at 350° for 3 hours. Stir in remaining 1 cup water. Cover and bake an additional 1 hour or until beans are tender, but not falling apart, and liquid is almost absorbed. Remove from oven; stir in salt.

No pictures of this one to the aforementioned massacre.  You’ll just have to trust me on this one – it’s good!

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Okay, so here’s my big non-blogging excuse list:

Crazy busy work
2 week road trip on the CA coast (beautiful pictures to come!)
Sickness in the form of a cold that just wouldn’t quit

That last one is the kicker at this point, as it’s making it super hard to type.  I was all stoked this weekend on my new Fuyu knife and pleased as punch to be back in my kitchen, so I got a little too Yan Can Cook and sliced the hell out of my middle finger.

One trip to the emergency room + one doctor with an egregious display of chest hair + FIVE stitches later = bummed out Carrie.

The bonus is that emergency rooms come with the most lovely light for taking perfect Six Feet Under shots.  Behold – pre-stitches…


And in a show of respect to the squeamish among you, you can find the close up post-stitches shot after the jump.  Goody! (more…)

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