Thursday, January 29, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Well, I missed a week of posting. Didn't mean to, just got way too busy with the month of January. I'm back and ready for some posting action. Something new and exciting this month is I joined a CSA,or a Community Supported Agriculture delivery service. Since we are vegetarians we get one of the largest boxes of fruits and veggies delivered each week.It comes right to our door every Thursday. Quite a surprise since we don't know what to expect to receive. It's been three weeks since we started and we have received everything from Chard, Kale, Winter Greens, Carrots, Red Onions, Garlic, Russet Potatoes, Napa Cabbage, Leeks, and Fennel. We have also received lots of yummy fruit including apples, pears,and oranges, and tangerines. It's been a little difficult to change the way I cook and shop. Before I would make a list of recipes I wanted to cook and show accordingly. Now I have a box full of goodies I have to figure out what to do with. It's an adventure, but it's great!

If you live in or around the Bay Area check out Farm Fresh To You, they are awesome, reliable, and friendly. Totally worth looking into. I will try from now on listing which of my ingredients were made with my Farm Fresh to You Box Veggies. A culinary treat.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cafe Gratitude- Berkeley

What are you grateful for? It read at the bottom of my tea cup as I took a sip of my blueberry rooibos tea. I'm grateful the opportunity to eat at the raw, vegan,alternative Cafe Gratitude.

The atmosphere is "chill" and relaxed with a hippy and radical vibe. I sat at a communal table wit a few locals who engaged in simple conversation as they peacefully sipped their raw brewed cup of joe. All set with a robust raw-foods menu and my hemp napkin I was ready to enjoy myself and the experience of Cafe Gratitude.

The specials of the day included: "I am festive," a raw dehydrated spinach enchilada with a cashew pate, "I am Blissful," a stuffed "tuna" avocado and a side salad, and a multitude of other positively named foods. It took me and my friends some time choose which item to feast upon for lunch. I went with the stuffed avocado, my one friend went with the "I am Cheerful" raw burger, and my other friend went with the "I am Graceful" Indian curry with red rice.

The service was quick and efficient and we were soon munching on our raw delights like three plump rabbits...or at least, that's how we felt as we chewed on the clover and sunflower sprouts that adorned the tops of our salads. The stuffed avocado was delicious and pungent with an actual "tune" flavor. The "I am Graceful" had a spicy kick and was the most filling of the three meals. The raw "burger" was small in proportion but surprisingly filling.

We splurged on dessert, and this is truly where Cafe Gratitude shines. We ordered the special of the day a chocolate mocha layer cake and a slice of the key lime pie. All raw. No cooking. And absolutely amazing! By the end of our excursion we had racked-up quite a bill, however it was worth every penny. The experience alone is part of the fun. At the end of our meal our server asked us the question of the day, "What are you blissful for?" and my answer? I am blissful for my full belly and the time well spent with friends.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

1 Small Yellow Onion
1 TBS Safflower or Grape Seed Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Jalapeno
1 Pablono Pepper
3 Tomatoes
2 Boca Chicken Patties or 1/2 a bag of frozen Morning Star Chicken Strips
1 Can of Crushed Tomatoes
4 Dried Red Chile Peppers
1 TSP Cumin
4 Cups of Veggie Broth
2 Cups Water
1 Lime
1/2 Cup Cilantro
1 Cup Cheddar or Jack Cheese
1 Avocado
6 Stale Corn Tortillas
2 TBS Safflower or Grape Seed Oil

Pan Fried Chip Strips:
Prepare the 6 stale corn tortillas by cutting them into 1/2 inch strips and set aside while prepping the pan for frying. In a frying pan add 2 TBS of Safflower or Grape Seed Oil (anything that can handle high heat) and turn the stove onto medium heat. After a a minute, gently place the tortilla strips into the hot oil. Be careful as the oil will splatter. Saute the strips in the oil for 3 to 5 minutes. Shake a little salt over the strips. Remove when they have begun to crisp and turn a light brown. Remove the chip strips from the pan and place onto a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Set aside for later.

Griffin Bird Says: If you do not have stale corn tortillas you can use fresh or frozen tortillas instead. In an oven or convection toaster oven, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the tortillas on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until dry to the touch.

In a large pot place 1 TBS Safflower or Grape Seed oil. Turn the stove onto medium heat. Chop the yellow onion into 1 inch squares. Place into the pot and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Chop or crush the garlic with a garlic press. Add to the onions and cook for 1 minutes. Next, chop the Pablono Pepper and the three tomatoes into 1 inch pieces. Add them to the pot and simmer with the onions and garlic for 5 minutes. While those items are cooking, bring a cup of water to a full boil. I use an electric teapot. In a small bowl add the 4 dried red Chile peppers. Poor the boiling water over the peppers and cover with a clean dish towel. let stand for 15-20 minutes. With a clean knife slice the Jalapeno in half and remove the seeds. Cut the Jalapeno into very small rounds. Add the sliced Jalapeno and the cumin to the soup. Add the can of crushed tomatoes, veggie broth, and extra water to the contents of the pot. Cook for 15 minutes. When the Dried Red Chile peppers are soft, remove them from their bowl and chop them into very small pieces. Add the Red Chile pieces and their water to the soup pot. Cut the boca chicken into strips and add directly to the soup. Cook the soup for another 5 minutes. While the soup cooks, prepare your serving bowls. In each bowl place a handful of the Chip Strips. Grate the cheese and set aside. Rinse and chop the cilantro and set aside. Slice the avacado and set aside. To assemble to entre, poor a ladel of soup over the chip strips. Add 1/4 cup of the grated cheese on top and a handful of cilantro. Add a few slices of avacado and place a few lime quarters on the side of each bowl. Serve and enjoy! Makes 6 servings.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Vegetarian Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I love mushrooms and this was the first soup I ever learned how to make well. My original recipe came from the Moose Wood Cookbook, but over time I have adjusted this to my pallet. There's something about mushrooms and spice that make the winter months so comforting. One more soup to celebrate the chill in the are.

2 Tbs Olive Oil or Sunflower oil
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 cup sliced onions
32 Oz Fresh Mushrooms- Sliced
1 Tbs Dried Dill (or 3-4 Tbs freshly minced- or to taste)
2 Tbs Mild Paprika
1/2 Tsp All Spice
1-2 tsp of Cayenne Pepper
2 Tsp Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Salt to taste
4-5 Tbs Flour
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup Milk or Plain Soy Milk
1/2-1 cup sour cream
Cilantro or Parsley for Topping

1. Pour oil into a large pot. Add wine and onions and saute over medium heat from 5 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms, dill, paprika, all spice, and cayenne pepper. Stir and cover. Let cook for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Stir in the lemon juice and add the salt to taste
4. Sprinkle in the flour, stir constantly. Cook another 5-10 minutes over low heat.
5. Add the water, cover and cook about 15 minutes. Stir often.
6. Stir in the Soy Milk, reduce heat to low heat if you haven't all ready done so. Add more salt if needed
7. Whisk in the sour cream. Keep soup warm, but don't boil the soup at this point otherwise the milk products will curdle.
8. Serve with a topping of cilantro or parsley

Griffin Says:
Don't have lemons? Use a little Rice Vinegar to get that zing. Star by adding 1/2 tsp and increase to the taste you seek.