Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roast Okra

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I know I've written about this before. But I truly think that roasted okra is one of the really good things about living in the south.

Not slimy.

At all.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Drying Stevia

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
YogiLiz picked up two Stevia plants this spring when she was wandering through the garden centers. They are extremely easy to grow and taste wonderful! Just picking off a leaf and chewing on it gives a wonderful blast of pure sweet.

I've used it here and there for garnishes, but this last weekend I cut a big bunch of it to dry. When I'm satisfied that the leaves are sufficiently dry then I'll crumble them up and put them in a couple of empty spice jars. I think they will be excellent added to tea.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Surya Namaskar A X 108

It's the summer equinox and one traditional yogi way to celebrate it is by doing 108 sun salutations. And so I thought, "why not? I've got all day..."

I gathered 27 coins and put them on the upper right corner of my mat. As I get to to pose 10 pictured there on the right, I flick a coin off the mat onto the floor.

I am not doing 4 and 9. Instead I am going back to plank after 3 and then straight to uttanasana after 8.

I did the first 54 to a sanskrit chant. After doing shoelace to rest and stretch the hips, I switched to African drums. Now I'll start the next 27 to Gregorian chants and then finish off with Donna Delory.

Happy solstice! The longest day of the year. Make the most of it!

I found this picture of the sequence on Google Images. Here.


Saturday, June 19, 2010


Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
The first of the summer. I got about 1 1/2 cups. I was not dressed for blackberry foraging (long pants, long sleeves, boots, gloves), so I did didn't get very aggressive in my picking.

In my defense, this photo looked a lot less washed-out on my computer before I uploaded it.

Oh. That's a sprig of stevia on top. We are growing some in our yogagarden.

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Tostada Night

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
When you decide to go vegetarian, and you are the only one in a family of carnivores, you really have to step it up in terms of "interestingness" when it comes to supper.

Sure, we've had tacos. Lots and lots of tacos. Using store-bought taco mix and hamburger and then all those tortilla chips or taco shells you buy in the bags and boxes. But this. Now is the BEST WAY to eat that kind of food. The old-fashioned, fried-in-oil way.

Here's what I wrote about tostada night. And I should tell you, I had to kind of hunt for yellow corn tortillas. White corn rules the market. I think it's semi-tasteless.

Tostada Night

You know how you end up with days and days of leftover pinto beans whenever you cook up a pot? I mean … I like them. Don’t get me wrong. But I can only eat them so many days in a row before I’m ready to swear off them forever.  Of course that wears off after a month or so and then I’m ready to cook up another batch.
                One way I’ve discovered to use those up is to make homemade refried beans with them. Most of us are used to just opening cans of refritos (refried beans) and using those for our tacos or whatever.  But those canned varieties really miss the boat in flavor when compared to the homemade variety. They always seem a little watery to me. And bland. I’m giving you a recipe that I’ve adapted from “The New Moosewood Cookbook,” by Mollie Katzen. I think the cumin really makes or breaks these beans. See what you think.
                Tostada night is a great weeknight dinner event, and a fantastic way to get the family together to hang out and eat. I draw them into the kitchen when I start frying corn tortillas. It works every time. When I was a kid there were no bags of tortilla chips, or prepared taco shells. My mom cooked corn tortillas in oil on the stovetop. Nothing beats that flavor. I think we gave up that practice because we started shying away from frying due to its’ status as an unhealthy way to prepare food, and it was a messy and left oil clouds hanging in the room for a few hours. I keep the mess down by putting my frying screen over the top of the fry pan. I can’t do anything about the oil clouds, but my 10-foot ceilings sure make it easier to ignore!
                Lay out some lettuce, salsa, onions, tomatoes and grated cheese (or go really authentic and use queso) and start frying tortillas. Let the family build theirs as they come out of the skillet. They will stay there and eat them, waiting for the next one to come out of the skillet. And as they stand there, you will hear a lot more about their lives. Just be careful not to fry your tortillas too long. They really only take about half a minute or less on each side. 

Refritos (refried beans)
By Karen Paulson
Adapted from “The New Moosewood Cookbook,” by Mollie Katzen

 Leftover pinto beans, drained (maybe 2 cups)
1 1/2 C minced onion
5 or 6 (or more) medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Be sure it’s an old skillet that you don’t care about scratching. Add the onions, garlic and cumin. Heat, stirring, until the onions and garlic are starting to get soft. Add the beans. Heat and smash the beans to the consistency you prefer.
If you really want to add flavor, cook your pinto beans with a couple of halved, seeded jalapeno peppers. You can also consider adding a small bell pepper to the bean mixture when you make it in the skillet.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Frittata: The Vegetarian's Meatloaf

Since I became vegetarian in January, Frittatas have become my new meatloaf. My go-to dish. The entrée I whip out when I don’t have a lot of time or imagination. Like meatloaf, frittatas are made from whatever ingredients you have on hand, they have a short prep time, and a little bit of oven time to give you a chance to gather your wits about you (read: drink a glass of wine and check out the newspaper).
                Similar to quiche, frittatas are egg-based and can be the vehicle in which to hide all kinds of edible treasures from meat to veggies to cheese or all of the above. Most frittatas are started on top of the stove and finished in the oven. That’s how I do mine, although you can do the entire dish from start to finish on the stovetop. Unlike quiche, frittatas are generally not known to have a crust. Mine does. So if you are a frittata purist stop reading now. You’ll see my version as an abomination.
                My frittata recipe culminated out of my love for all things hash browned. As far as I am concerned, no egg-y meal is really complete without hash browns on the side.  The crunchier the better, I figure. And so I played with my food one afternoon and conceived this fine frittata with a hash brown crust. I hope you enjoy it.

Hash Brown-Crusted Frittata
2 medium-sized russet potatoes
6-8 eggs, beaten and set aside
1-2 C veggies of your choice, lightly sautéed and set aside
1 C cheese of your choice
Herbs of your choice
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Microwave the potatoes on high for 3 minutes. They should be softened, but not cooked all the way to a mashable stage. Handling them carefully so as not to burn your hands, grate the potatoes on the large side of a cheese grater. You can leave the peels on or take them off.
Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium high. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter. Swirl it around to coat the pan. Transfer the grated potatoes to the skillet, patting it down into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. DO NOT STIR AFTER THIS POINT! After about 4 or 5 minutes, gently tilt the pan that you can glimpse the underside of the potatoes. Are they getting brown and crisp? Keep checking until they look like golden, brown and delicious hash browns.
In another oven-safe skillet (cast iron is really the best), heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon butter. Drizzle it over the potatoes in the non-stick pan. Then carefully invert the second skillet over the first one and flip over. Now your potatoes are in the second skillet and on their way to hash brown perfection.
Once you are satisfied that the potatoes are well-browned on the underside, remove the pan from the heat. Arrange the reserved veggies, cheese, herbs and spices over the potatoes. Pour the eggs over the mixture and lightly tamp down anything that’s sticking up out of the eggs. If you need more eggs, go ahead and beat them up and pour them in.
Put the frittata in the preheated oven and bake until the eggs are set, usually about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to finish cooking in the pan on the counter. 


Friday, June 11, 2010

Suppertime: Eggplant Gyros

My good friend Debbie Burgess (The Hungry Fox), sent me a link to this recipe on Cuisine Recipes and I was immediately sucked in by the gorgeous photo. This is my own shot, which I'm sorry to say is not quite as nice.

Anyway, our yogafarm produced some very fine cucumbers this week, which immediately made me think of tzatziki, which then made me think of gyros, which then reminded me of this recipe.

That's how my mind works.

The recipe on this site calls for a sauce made of yogurt and feta. I'm sure that is quite good, if not a little bland. Homemade tzatziki has that tangy zip of fresh garlic, which I think is needed in this recipe.

And now I'm going to see what how the leftover eggplant stuff tastes on an omelet.
Footnote: Eggplant stuff VERY GOOD on scrambled eggs. Think of it as eggplant pico de gallo. Scramble a couple of eggs and then drop some of the eggplant mixture on top. Mix in with the hot eggs to take some of the refrigerator chill off. Sea salt finishes it off!

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

34th Regiment: Always Forward

Riley is in the 34th Regiment at For Jackson. Apparently "Always Forward" is their motto. Riley is proving himself to be always forward. At least in my mind.

His girlfriend said he got a cut on his forehead and suffered a concussion on the "Victory Tower." He went to the infirmary and they told him he may have to take 3 weeks of Basic over again. He said "no way," and went back to his platoon. That's rough.

He's struggling. I've been ok with him being gone. Ok with him being in Basic. But now I'm starting to be a little anxious. His letter yesterday said he was awaiting word on his punishment for a weapons violation. Apparently he shot his (it was loaded with blanks) prematurely during a training exercise. His buddies said they'd help him cover it up, but he elected to tell his drill sergeant about it instead.

He's lonely and usually has a lot of friends around him. He doesn't know many of the guys and I think he'll start to feel better as he gains friendships.

I'm proud of him. And praying for him. I hope you will too.


Monday, June 07, 2010

Suppertime: Shiitake and Sweet Pea Risotto

Last night Taylor grilled burgers for himself and Nate while Liz and I enjoyed this recipe from Cooking Light. I didn't take my own photo of it this time. Too hungry. And you know? Mine was not quite as appetizing-looking as theirs. Because my risotto was a darker brown color. I think it must have been because of the very rich vegetable stock I used instead of the recipe's chicken stock. But boy! Was it delicious! We accompanied it with roasted and sauteed golden beets. I love to do that: roast the beets in the oven, slip the skin off, slice and then saute in butter.

I visited the chickens again this morning before work. I usually don't do that, but I had some very bland cherry tomatoes that needed to be disposed up. Chickens love juicy, seedy things. So I sliced them in half and took them over to the yogafarm. I was there at 6:15, when the sun was just starting to think about coming up. Obviously the chickens thought I was out of my mind for being up so early. None of them came down from their roosts. They just sat up there an murmured at me. I did feed them this time, since I received instruction from YogiLiz. I'll take some videos of the birds when Bob comes back with the camera.

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Giant, Hairless Raccoon

That's what the chickens may think I am.
I went to Liz's and let them out this morning. But I could not figure out where their feeder is, so I didn't feed them (Liz was home, just not up yet). They followed me around, glaring at me and bwaawk bwaawking at me...getting all up in wing at me.
Then I took the one egg they'd laid and left.


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Proud Parent of a Soldier

Mensa Boy has that sticker on the back of his car. I don't have it on mine yet. My car is too dirty to stick stuff on right now.

Riley is safely ensconced in Basic training at Fort Jackson. I just received the letter with his address. He's in Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment. Here is his address:

Pvt2 Porter, Jack R
Company Delta Platoon 3rd
1/34 In Regt
Fort Jackson  SC  29206

Family day is July 28
Graduation is July 29

We can follow his regiment on facebook. Here is the address: