Golden Energy: beets and nettle tea

Today I needed a healthy dose of yellow. I gathered together my favorite yellow foods, onion, turmeric, beets, lentils, potato and nettle tincture.    yellow beats

Arlo is reaching for a beet and in the arms of his grandma. He won’t eat the red ones but he loves the yellow ones. Milder perhaps? I quartered these and boiled them in an inch of water. Then I ran cold water over them and pushed their peels off easily with my fingers.

yellow1 I found a sweet onion at the market and I could smell its sweetness as I cut into it. I poured some lentils into the pan along with some sesame and peanut oil, and beet water left over from boiling the beets. The lentils will absorb this and become soft in 10/15 minutes.

potato

The veggies also include some shitake from the farmers market and a potato that I thought would be sweet, but it tasted like a pretty average potato to me. I cheated and cooked it in the microwave for 4 min.

turmeric

I used a lot of turmeric, but you can’t go wrong. It is a smokey flavor but not overly rich. It makes everything an even richer golden color. Even the onions turned into beautiful golden transparent wedges. A little dill and cilantro. A few dashes of salt.

yellow dish

Cut up some dried apricots and sprinkle them in if you have them…or golden raisins and almond slivers. I served it with plain yogurt, a nice sour side dish that also helps me digest my food.

nettle ffiled

My mom and I hiked out to the nettle bed at the opposite end of the hay field. We also found some beautiful dried purple Dock. A plant famous for it’s resilience. Arlo was a little runny in the nose from allergies, but he hung in there, literally. The nettle bed has been pushed to the side this year by long grass. You will want to clip the top four or five leaves of the plant, the new growth, so don’t wait too late in the season like I did. An ideal time for nettle is about mid July.

bag o nettle I have heard that indigenous peoples pick the nettle with a special gesture that prevents them from getting stung. I do not know this technique and have tried using rubber gloves, plastic bags and scissors. I walk away with ouchy stings every time.

nettle 2Between me starting my first period since pregnancy and my mom’s hot flashes, the nettle is perfect for balancing hormones and gives us a heavy dose of vitamin D. It is also good for weight loss I hear. I boiled the nettle leaves with lemon balm and spearmint leaves. We soaked the foliage for a few hours in a big steel pot. Then we rinsed and boiled it for about an hour on low. I pulled the leaves out before they turned brownish green.

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Wolfgang Laib

He is one of my most favorite artists. He decided to be an artist instead of a monk. Here he is sifting pollen from hazelnuts that he collected himself. His work is visual medicine. I look at this piece and I am reminded how healing yellow is. Just looking at it I feel energized. In this case, the color and the substance carry powerful meaning, of fecundity and rejuvenation.

Black rice and purple cabbage mash up

I was musing over the mysterious disappearance of black rice from my studio on facebook the other day. It lead to a request from my friend Mickey seeking an interesting black rice dish. It took me a while, but every other week or so I look at the substantial stock of black rice in my kitchen and try to figure out a new way to cook it. Honestly, it originally put me off in the past due to the lack of flavor and rough texture. Since then, my palate has become more sophisticated, I now see black rice much the way the ancient Chinese did, as “food for the emperors”. It is not so bland, as it steams the house fills with a nutty fragrance, exotic and welcoming.

black rice

After steaming the rice, in a separate pan, I cooked carrots and purple cabbage, red onion, fresh ginger and garlic. I think that color has it’s own nutritional value.

cabbage raw

My cat Gertrude has become pretty grumpy since Arlo was born. She doesn’t seem to be the least bit interested in the baby. On the other hand, Arlo is completely in love with her. Like peppy le pew, his eyes turn into little heart shapes and he sings a low humming tune.

Arlo is in love with Gertrude. But she is repulsed. You are another species Arlo.

Arlo is in love with Gertrude. But she is repulsed. You are another species little man.

I chose to use a combination of oils, peanut and sesame. Together the flavor is fairly mild, but also very nutritional. After learning that seeds are packed with essential minerals, I add flax and sesame to salads, and stir fry.

Don't use to much, it will make your texture gummy,

Don’t use too much, it will make your texture gummy.

As you can see the local wild flowers in bloom include black eyed susan and queen anne’s lace.

Ingredients:

  • one cup of black rice cooked in vegetable or chicken broth
  • Four large carrots
  • 1/4 of a small red cabbage
  • half of a red onion
  • one garlic clove
  • chopped ginger
  • peanut and sesame oil
  • fresh lime juice
  • drizzled soy sauce
  • equal parts cayenne, cinnamon, and cumin

 

purple cabbage

I stirred the black rice into the mixture and added some soy sauce (instead of salt), cayenne pepper, cinnamon and cumin (equal parts).

processed cabbagePour about half of the mixture into a food processor to add some complexity to the texture.

cabbage dish

Served with freshly squeezed lime, plain yogurt and marinated artichokes.

Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

The temperature dropped this week, almost freakishly. It got me thinking about Fall and many things associated. We all know that Fall is a time for squash and spices, but is also the time that many of us go back to school, or teach in my case. Not that I dislike working, it brings a full filling structure to life. But this summer has been one to always cherish with my sweet little Arlo. Watching him grow up every step of the way has been a gift I would never have traded for anything.

Arlo has begun to crawl across the floor, wave and play the drum all in the same week. It makes cooking a bit challenging (I probably say this in nearly every post) but I have begun to place him in the pack n play for short periods. He is tolerant for short durations, but today, with his horizontal stripes on he looked like a cartoon prison baby.

Arlo in the Pack n Play

Arlo in the Pack n Play

 

Anti-diabetic, antioxidant Acorn or Winter squash is considered to be one of the worlds most healthiest foods. I heard this once from a woman who ate squash while fighting cancer. It’s just one of those vegetables I think we over look sometimes, in restaurants and at home. There is really no good reason for that, squash is tasty, versatile, filling and affordable.

 

Acorn squash bake while the links simmer

Acorn squash bake while the links simmer

 

I cut the squash in half and set it face up in the oven on 350. There is butter inside the squash and about a half inch of water in the pan. I cooked some hot turkey sausages with a white onion, garlic, and fresh ginger root upstairs on the stove.

Flavors that cooperate: walnuts, ginger, orange zest and juice, raisins, onions, garlic.

Flavors that cooperate: walnuts, ginger, orange zest and juice, raisins, onions, garlic.

 

Biggest mistake that cooks make is throwing things in and tasting at the end. Always taste your food as you go people.

processor blends ingredients so they are a finer ground meat

processor blends ingredients so they are a finer ground meat

I am always a bit skeptical of meat photographs. I mean, who really wants to look at it, especially ground meat. Regardless, I promise you this is a delicious mixture. I put the sausages in the food processor with these other ingredients. I am never exact, you might have figured this out about me by now. I am however, particular about flavor.

  • 2 dash cinnamon
  • dash of clove
  • pinches of dill
  • dash of turmeric
  • handful of walnuts
  • golden raisins
  • hand full of bread crumbs
  • fresh ginger
  • A squeeze of orange
  • orange peel zest
  • Anise seeds
A little water in the pan keeps them moist.

A little water in the pan keeps them moist.

I cooked the squash for about 45 minutes. I removed them from the oven temporarily only to scrape the first half inch layer of cooked squash out, which I mixed with the meat. Next, which is plainly obvious here, I stuffed them heartily. I cooked them for another 30 minutes. Stick a knife in your squash, it should move through like butter, but not fall apart.

with salad

A salad of pickled beets, marinated artichokes, tomatoes, and greens with orange and lime juice freshly squeezed with a little olive oil and salt. The spice mixture in the turkey meat made for a lighter (than beef or pork) yet satisfying meal. The walnuts and spices with hints of orange in the turkey made for a rich but not too overwhelming flavor. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks for being patient Arlo.

 

 

Dandelion, I will eat you.

A Eurasian plant (Taraxacum officinale)

A Eurasian plant (Taraxacum officinale)

 

So I took a walk today to explore the many wildflowers that are blooming right now…

flower2Phlox, geranium, violets and wild mustard are painting the fields with the color that my winter encrusted eyes have wishes for for many months.

Duane came from the market with a bunch of freshly harvested Dandelion greens. They were quite mature and I asked myself what we would do with such bitter foliage. I sought some advice from a few internet sites and discovered that the bitter best not be covered up…for it would be no use. Better to join the bitter flavor with other complex bitters.

dandilion2

I put some fresh ginger in the pan with some peanut oil and then some garlic and onions. Can’t go wrong there. Then I added some soy sauce for salt and a splash of rice vinegar. Some toasted sesame seeds.

rice vinegar

I was also pushing and puling with the flavors of my pan cooked salmon filet. Also fresh ginger, soy, and garlic. You can see a peek of it off to the side here. The honey created a golden color.

detail dandilion

In the end I served them up side by side with some crushed walnuts (also bitter). They bit back a little, but not too hard. It was also really nice to eat them with something else kind of sweet. Sweet!

“I am no more lonely than a single mullein

or dandelion in a pasture, or a bean leaf, or sorrel,

or a horse-fly, or a bumblebee. I am no more lonely
than the Mill Brook, or a weathercock, or the north star,

or the southwind, or an April shower, or a January thaw,

or the first spider in a new house.”

– Henry David Thoreau

 

Pesto Spinach & Feta

spinach and feta

I was craving spinach pie without all the fuss of phyllo dough so I made this spinach and feta mixture that I used as both a topping on mini spinach pizza pies and filling for an easy breakfast scramble made underway while towing a neighbors sailboat to a mooring ball down the bay.

red onion and garlic

Sauté red onion and garlic in olive oil. Thaw and press out as much liquid from a bag of frozen chopped spinach, add to sauté, warm through. Add 1-2 Tbsp of pesto sauce and stir covering spinach mixture evenly. Top with a couple spoonfuls of garlic and herb feta crumbles.

  • Chopped Red Onion
  • Clove of minced Garlic
  • 1 bag of chopped Spinach (drained if frozen)
  • 1-2 Tbsp jarred Pesto
  • 3 Tbsp Garlic & Herb Feta cheese crumbles
spinach pizza pie

Mini Spinach Pizza Pies

spinach scrambled egg filling

Flavorful leftover spinach filling used for breakfast.

spinach egg scramble

Spinach pesto and feta egg scramble cooking underway.

breakfast tortilla

A warming breakfast tortilla with salsa, yogurt and diced avocado.

katt & jazzy

Katt & Jazzy

Thomas Shoal Lighthouse

Passing the festive Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse

Shitake Collards

We have an awesome farmers market here in Athens, partially because of the variety, but mostly because they always have lots of fresh mushrooms and greens. Here is a recipe that went so well that I was reminded how much I love cooked greens.  I might eat this till I get back to the size I was before I ever got pregnant. Not only that, it is vegetarian, unless you consider that a mushroom is both plant and animal family.

shitake collards

  • Shitake mushrooms
  • Collard greens or kale
  • Soy sauce or aminos
  • Fresh diced garlic and ginger to taste…Strong flavor
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Peanut oil, sesame oil (drizzled)

 

Shitake

Shitake: rich in iron and B vitamins

While your collards are cooking, prepare your shitakes. Fresh chopped ginger and garlic in a pan with a blend of sesame and peanut oil (light oils for high heat). Brown the ginger and garlic before tossing the shitake in, add a few drizzles of soy sauce. Don’t over cook! The combination of these flavors..divine, both sweet and savory.

collards

collards: detox support and antioxidants

After tearing the leaves from the thick center stalks, I steamed my collards in a 1/2 inch of water, a tablespoon of peanut oil (or oil of choice flavor) and dash of salt. They cooked on low for 20-25 min. I did give it a stir or two. I personally think people over cook their greens…as long as they have a soft texture and are still green they are ready.

Sesame seeds: minerals and cholesterol lowering

Sesame seeds: minerals and cholesterol lowering

 

Put some of the greens in a dish, drizzle with soy sauce. Top with shitake mixture. A dash of toasted sesame seeds. Delicious!!!!

pasta eggplant and greens with roasted peppers

pasta eggplant

I made a delicious pair of dishes both using roasted bell pepper.

Spinach dill linguini. Thin slices of eggplant broiled in the oven with olive oil and tons of garlic, some salt. I removed them from the oven and stacked fresh mozzarella cheese and roasted bell pepper on top and baked again till the cheese melted. Place those yummy nuggets on top of the pasta and drizzle some more olive oil. Pepper with oregano, basil and cracked pepper.

My salad

Butter lettuce – oh so mild and tender – cucumbers, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted bell peppers, raw pumpkin seeds, dash of cayenne, cracked rainbow pepper, sprinkle dried dill, whole flax seeds, lime juice, oil, salt, and a smear of goat cheese. peppery and refreshing.

I definitely relate to your pain with the winter, we had yet another snowstorm yesterday.xo

Winter in southeastern Ohio

Winter in southeastern Ohio

Detox juice and fiber fritters

That’s it, I am done. I have been eating way too much sugar. I woke up this morning with a resolution…to cut out sugar for a month, or at least till I am not craving it so badly. This momma needs a detox juice. The timing is right, the air is feeling warm and my mood as well. No need to wallow in bad TV and Belgium chocolate bars the size of my head (thank you Trader Joes). I will be posting my juices and salads from this point on, hoping that someone out there in the eathers will appreciate and feel inspired by the food that is not only gorgeous to look at, but will increase energy, and kill some bad parasites along the way.

Black plum, Walnuts, cucumber, spinach, blueberries, almond milk with cinnamon

Black plum, Walnuts, celery, organic coconut oil, cucumber, spinach, blueberries, almond milk with cinnamon

Basically, I dove into the fridge, freezer, and pantry to mix together some food that would not only compliment each other, but give me some protein. I always keep almond milk in the fridge and it has a ton of protein, including the walnuts and coconut oil. I also have issues with blood sugar levels, and nuts are great for that. They sustain you and maintain your glucose levels. Blueberries are full of antioxidants, and I keep a massive bag of them in the freezer that has survived me all winter. The cinnamon (also natural insulin) helped blend these flavors together and I can assure you with the help of this versatile spice, I did not miss any sugar.

juice blend

Here is my lovely. The cool thing is, it replaced my afternoon snacking and lunch and I did not feel hungry. There is a lot of fiber in this drink, but the texture did not bother me.

black eyedI made a juice again later in the day with some fresh collard greens, spinach, honey crisp apple, frozen raspberries, carrot, cucumber, celery, blueberry juice, walnuts, almond milk and cinnamon. Yes, quite a combination, but it was good. What made it even better was straining the juice prior to adding nuts and raspberries and putting the fiber mixture aside for later. For dinner, I mashed up some left over black eyed peas from my squash recipe, added some toasted sesame seeds and made fritters.

left over mixI saw a program the other day about food waste. One of the things that was mentioned in this program was the amount of fruits and vegetable throw away that restaurants produce from prepping. We compost our left over non-meat items, but sometimes have thrown away scraps of veggies and fruits that may not be appealing in a salad. If you have a solid blender (which I do), these parts can be pureed. Here, I have added non-glutinous rice flour, toasted sesame seeds, a shake of cayenne for metabolism and a couple of pinches of cumin.

fried mashThe mixture is separated into small ( and I mean soup spoon sized) patties, and fried in a combination of vegetable and sesame seed oils. done mash

The cooked left over fritters are garnished with a cucumber and marinated artichoke salad and yogurt blended with some fresh lemon juice.

majestic cowThis majestic white cow watched me drive past on my way into town. Lots of little black calves spotting the hills.

Black eyed peas and butternut squash with ginger

Just when spring began to peek through I caught a virus…luckily it is not a terrible one, but the sore throat and running nose motivated me to make a ginger packed dish. “What to make” I wondered scanning my cupboard, oh look, a bag o’ black eyed peas. Internet shows many dish variations for black eyed peas. Finally I decided, go hippy on this, throw in that butternut squash I bought last week, some onions and brown rice – carrots and celery. Leave out the butter and cheese and trust in the power of beans and veggies with the right combination of spices for flavor.

Ingredients:

  • One butternut squash
  • One onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Fresh grated ginger root
  • Three stalks of celery
  • Three or four large carrots
  • One cup of brown rice
  • One teaspoon cinnamon
  • One teaspoon cumin
  • One teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • One cup of broth (veggie or chicken)
My dear friend the butternut squash. Always keep one around - they store forever and a day.

My dear friend the butternut squash. Always keep one around – they store forever and a day.

After peeling and cutting my butternut squash I spread the pieces in dishes and drizzled them with oil and a dash or two of salt to draw out the flavor. These broiled on low with a stir here and there for about 30 min (until tender). What a gorgeous smell. For great directions for peeling and slicing a butternut squash: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_peel_and_cut_a_butternut_squash/

Soak those babies!

Soak those babies!

These black eyed peas are a southern favorite, and are my favorite flavored bean. I knew I couldn’t go wrong whatever recipe direction I chose. Boil the beans in plenty of water (the water should come at least couple inches above) for two minutes.  Then, let them sit off the heat for an hour. Rinse them with cool water and then cook them in water and a some broth for about an hour and a half (or until tender).

I sliced the outer bark off and shred it super fine. I remove the threads and use the pulp that comes out the other side of the grater,

I slice the outer bark off and shred it super fine. I remove the threads and use the pulp that comes out the other side of the grater,

Carrots and celery cooked in fresh ginger and garlic. Add a bit of broth for flavor, they will absorb the fluid and then brown a little bit.

Carrots and celery cooked in fresh ginger and garlic. Add a bit of broth for flavor, they will absorb the fluid and then brown a little bit.

I steamed these carrots and celery in some broth and then lifted the lid and browned them with fresh ground ginger. At this point I added a couple dashes of cinnamon and cayenne pepper, a dash of salt and pepper. Oh, and a little cumin.

I toasted the brown rice and spiced with the squash.

I toasted the brown rice and spiced with the squash.

Let me explain why I broiled and then pan fried the quash with the fully cooked brown rice: flavor and more flavor. By browning the two ingredients and adding my spices, even more of the flavor is drawn out. The ingredients mesh together even better.

All ingredients except the peas get combined - brown rice, carrots, celery, onions ginger, garlic and my spices, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

All ingredients except the peas get combined – brown rice, carrots, celery, onions ginger, garlic and my spices, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

I am adding and stirring in ingredients in increments, I have not added the peas yet. I do that last, after the mixture if spiced and seasoned to my liking. Plenty of garlic and ginger, accents of cumin, cinnamon and cayenne. Perfect to compliment the subtle sweetness of the carrot and squash.

Here is the full combination ready to eat - including black eyed peas. After giving it a good mix with my wooden spatula, I served it up with some plain yogurt.

Here is the full combination ready to eat – including black eyed peas. After giving it a good mix with my wooden spatula, I served it up with some plain yogurt.

After draining the excess water from the peas and salting them a bit I add them to the rest of the mixture in parts. Stir well so the spices can integrate with all of the ingredients. I will be eating this for a few days, which is perfect because I want to work on some other projects and make eating simple. This kind of food makes me feel really healthy and satisfied.

I often pass this guy on my way home.

I often pass this guy on my way home.

The rolling hills viewed from the ridge.

The rolling hills viewed from the ridge.

Soy Turkey Stuffed Peppers

I needed something with protein, something filling, something with a zing of flavor…of course, stuffed peppers. I love soy turkey…my mom often used in in her famous vegetarian chili. If I were to cook it again, maybe I would do a slight variation of flavors in the different peppers. With this combination of flavors, I promise you will not miss the meat.

  • 1 lb of soy turkey
  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 3-6 cloves of garlic
  • a few scoops of tomato paste
  • 1 can of stewed tomatos
  • Green or Black olives
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 2-3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
Cayenne pepper, the same color as my Calder print. Keeps the blood thin, anti viral.

Cayenne pepper, the same color as my Calder print. Keeps the blood thin, anti viral.

I love food, especially the spices that have been used for centuries – and for good reason. This Cayenne pepper combined with paprika gave my turkey a smokey rich flavor.

What can I say, I love my extra sharp white cheddar cheese.

What can I say, I love my extra sharp white cheddar cheese.

You can’t go wrong with cheese in this dish. I strongly suggest using some sharp or extra sharp cheddar. The cheese gets absorbed into the soy turkey, adding a fattiness that makes it taste just like real turkey meat.

Duane brought these beauties home and it was like getting a bouquet of flowers...that you can eat.

Duane brought these beauties home and it was like getting a bouquet of flowers…that you can eat.

These peppers differ in the nicest way – the poblanos are spicier and smokier, the red peppers are sweeter and tangy. I soaked them in a bowl of water before ‘gutting’ them. Take out the seeds and cut the top off.

some of the goods, most notable, the tomato paste. It gives the turkey a kick of flavor.

some of the goods, most notable, the tomato paste. It gives the turkey a kick of flavor.

To begin, cook in a large skillet pan some olive oil, one chopped onion and three-six cloves of garlic. Add tomato paste, and chopped canned tomato. Add your spices, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper.

yes, a lot of meat, but some rice, onion, and garlic is also in there. Oh yeah, and thanks to Katt's suggestion, Olives.

yes, a lot of soy turkey. Oh yeah, and thanks to Katt’s suggestion, Olives.

Add in small amounts gradually, soy turkey, when this is fully cooked, add the fully cooked ice of your choice (about one cup). Add olives or any other things like pickled garlic cloves or capers. Combine these ingredients with your cheese.

stuffed peppers

Here they are ready to go into the oven at 350 for about 35-40 min. Really, you could cook them longer or shorter but I like the peppers pretty well done. You want everything to congeal…you will need a fork and knife to eat these.

I don't think this pic does it justice, we were extremely happy with the results. A tomato-y ground turkey with rice and cheese baked inside of a pepper.

I don’t think this pic does it justice, we were extremely happy with the results. A tomato-y turkey flavor with rice and cheese baked inside of a pepper.

Here we are with the final result. So yummy. Let me know how you like this one. For a non vegetarian variation, try a rice and chicken combo with cinnamon, cumin and raisins.