Meatless Monday in a Book

The past few months have flown by in a confetti tornado of many more activities than my introvert-self typically likes, but I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed myself…most of the time. In true hermit fashion however, I’m settling back in at home for the winter–if it ever actually arrives–and thinking about all the comforting meals I’d like to create.

Tonight’s meatless Monday meal was simple and delicious, yet unnoteworthy. But one of my Christmas 20151228_212206-1.jpgpresents is absolutely worth talking about. The beautiful book by Hugh Acheson, The Broad Fork. It’s an entire collection of recipes for fruits and vegetables broken down by season. I try to eat seasonally as much as I can, so I instantly appreciated the set up of this book.

Apparently, the idea all started with his neighbor asking him, “What the hell do with kohlrabi?” Great question. Although I know what kohlrabi is, I’ve wondered before what I would do with it were I to bring some home. In the contents lists, kohlrabi was among a few others I was drawn to learning about such as salsify, sunchokes, fiddleheads, and yacon.

20151228_213904-1.jpgI will delve into those “oddities” later, but what caught my attention most immediately were the recipes for Brussels sprouts. Being that we are in the season for them, and I adore them, I went straight to that section. My eye quickly found the fried Brussels with a lime vinaigrette recipe, and I plan on making that as a side for my New Year’s eve meal.

It’s hard not to sit here and read through this entire book tonight. The photographs are20151228_214204-1.jpg gorgeous and the recipes are the perfect instructional length. Look at that radicchio! I don’t even like this stuff, but I want to tear this page out and chomp it. The pictures throughout bring on the uncontrolled drool factor. I love vegetables, so I don’t need help with eating and preparing them in all the ways, but I can see how someone who is leary about what to do with them would find this book inspiring.

I’ll be starting with the Brussels recipe, but I’m sure that I will be trying many more throughout the seasons.

 

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Meatless Monday & Friends with Benefits

Tonight, I made a simple meatless meal–an open-faced egg sandwich. Yes, it was absolutely delicious, but the best part about it was that almost all of it was created with handmade products from friends. I’ve scored big time with homegrown/made gifts in the last couple of weeks. The season of giving apparently started early and I took full advantage of those benefits tonight.

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The bread is what my friends and I like call “tail bread” because one time an otherwise rustic-round loaf my friend made had a small, protruding piece that looked like a tail. I don’t know how she does it, but this bread is always spot-on with the flavor, crust, and crumb. I like to toast it on my cast iron griddle with a butter and olive oil combo.

Once the slices were toasted, I topped them with thin layer of Duke’s Mayo and then the most scrumptious zucchini relish ever. This relish and the dill pickle spear were made by another friend who grew the zucchini and cucumbers. Whenever I get my hands on a jar of this relish, I eat it every single day until it is gone. It pairs perfectly with the bread and over easy eggs, which I put on top with a handful of sliced, cherry tomatoes from my fall garden, a sprinkling of pecorino cheese, and then another friend-crafted delight–pickled jalapeños. The heat from the peppers she grew herself is balanced by a tiny hint of sweet from a dash of sugar in the pickling recipe. Absolutely delectable.

Again, this was a very simple meatless meal, but the fact that my friends shared their hard work and talent with me made it so much tastier than any ol’ regular egg sandwich. I have some seriously talented friends and I’m lucky to have them in my life. Not only do I enjoy the fruits of their labors–from breads and honey to vanilla extract and candles–but I also like to learn from them and share what I am able. My lovely friends with benefits.

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Although this was a meatless meal, it was enjoyed with the scent of bacon in the air. Another crafty friend sent me an all natural, soy-based Bacon-scented candle! It smells heavenly.

Today may be Meatless Monday, but I’m already thinking about my next baking adventure. I’m thinking it’s going to be a meat pie. MEAT PIE, Y’ALL.

Meatless Monday: Black Beans, Quinoa, and…

One of my go-to, easy recipes for any night that I’m too tired to care is the simple dish of black beans and quinoa. I do sometimes make the traditional version with rice, but most of the time when I’m that tired, I’m looking for that extra protein punch from the quinoa. The leftover quinoa–because I way overdo it when making it, just like with pasta–is also good to have in the mornings with a couple of over easy eggs and avocado.

To start, I use the tri-colored quinoa mix for no particular reason other than I like the way it looks. I add coconut oil and spices like oregano and cumin to the water when cooking it to infuse some flavors. While that is doing its thing, I chop up white onion, fresh cloves of garlic, and red pepper and saute those in olive oil. Once the onions are starting to brown, I pour in the can of black beans with the liquid. Remember, these are the no-energy-to-care nights, so your preferred style of canned black beans are just fine.

After adding the beans, I toss in some oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, and salt & pepper (I like to add fresh garden basil when I have it in season near the end) and let all that simmer together while the quinoa finishes up. Sometimes I like to have a green veggie with my meal, as well. Depending on what is in season or what I have around it could be zucchini or broccoli or a small salad of spinach and arugula with a homemade shallot dressing.

But my secret, no-prepping or cooking needed veggie addition that I absolutely adore with my black beans, regardless of whether I’m having them with quinoa or rice, as tacos, or on a salad, is Slawsa. Slawsa is a really cool condiment that is a slaw/salsa mix. My favorites are the Low Sugar and Fire styles. It’s really good with a variety of foods, from topping hot dogs and burgers to spicing up deviled eggs, but there’s something about the Fire flavor in the same bite as the garlicky beans that I’m obsessed with.

wpid-img_20150914_185634.jpgPlus, it adds that purty color to my meal and we all know how important the look of the meal is to me for that all-encompassing enjoyment. That’s it. Easy peasy black bean dinner for Meatless Mondays or those nights when your garden of cares has clearly gone dormant.

 

Ingredients

One 15 ounce can of black beans

1 cup quinoa

1 tablespoon coconut oil for the quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil for the saute

Cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, s&p (or any of your liking)

Garlic cloves

Green veggie of your preference

Slawsa

 

Use What Your Garden Gave Ya: Meatless Monday Meal

I’m a huge proponent of home veggie gardens. There are many advantages to growing your own food, but my favorite aspect is being able to walk out my kitchen door into a glorified pantry of freshness all year long.

This evening, I found a ripe ‘Black Beauty’ eggplant, basil that needed to be used or lost to the heat and rain, scallions, and just enough parsley that the butterfly caterpillars left for me to enjoy. I knew I wanted to do a quick stir fry with my finds and the rest of whatever was in the fridge that needed to be used up. I can’t stand food waste and will  frequently concoct some strange combinations just to use whatever I have on hand. This time, it actually all made came together and made sense.

The look of the food, from the prep to the plating, is important to me and I believe affects the entire experience of the meal. Presentation was something I learned while working in kitchens and it has carried over to homemade meals even when only cooking for myself. I like pretty food and that means a lot of color. Eating all the colors is also the easiest way to have a healthy diet without dieting.

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Back in the house, I pulled out the leftover red cabbage, the butt of a zucchini, half a yellow pepper, red onion, garlic, and extra firm tofu to add to my garden finds. I was craving vegetables after a weekend of many meats and carbs. Meatless Monday feels slightly hippy to me, but I’m going with it. No, I won’t be doing any yoga after dinner. I can’t even touch my toes and I like it that way.

I do try to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet to help with my syndrome, but I definitely get off course sometimes. This past weekend was one of those times and my joints told me all about it today. Starting Monday off with this meal will get me back on track to make better decisions the rest of the week.

wpid-wp-1440459274049.jpgInto the medium-heated pan went about two tablespoons (I don’t actually measure) of coconut oil along with the tofu, eggplant, yellow pepper, and a few dashes of salt. Once the eggplant started to become slightly transparent, I threw in the red onion and zucchini. At this point, I spiced it with cumin, cayenne, turmeric, and red pepper flakes (I just eye it to my preference). I cooked the red cabbage in a separate pot–to prevent it from turning everything purple–with a little water, cumin, and turmeric, and added that to the mix at this point along with garlic, basil, and a few splashes of apple cider vinegar. With the veggies and tofu browned, I drizzled a bit of olive oil over everything, added the parsley and tossed it all together to pour into a bowl and garnish with the scallions.

The tofu and eggplant soaked up all those spices so well and complemented the sweet crunch of the pepper and onions. I ate two big bowls without anything else, but this stir fry could easily be put over rice, quinoa, or wrapped up in tortillas. I just wanted all the veggies and I was pleased. It was fresh, spicy, and delectable.

ALL. THE. VEGGIES.

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So I finished this Monday on a good note and hope to continue to make healthy decisions throughout the week. Having fresh produce in my backyard is an advantage to making better choices. While I’m enthusiastic about my fall tomatoes coming in and more peppers, I’m really looking forward to getting the winter garden going and all the greens and root and tuber vegetables that will be flooding my kitchen for soups and stews, which also means the end of 90% humidity, mosquitoes, and a break from weeding. Bring on the cooler weather! I’m ready.