A home for all things crafty, health-conscious, cake-related, or in need of a wagon!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Clean Eating's Black Bean Soup

This is a really great soup I made the other night. Enjoy!!

Chipotle Black Bean Soup

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced stewed tomatoes
2 ribs celery
1 carrot
1/2 large red onion
3 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. chipotle powder (or more chile powder)
1 tsp. oregano
4 cups water or veggie broth (I used water + bouillion cube)
1 1/4 cups corn (I used frozen)

Chop up all veggies into small pieces. In a large stockpot, heat the oil, onion, pepper, and garlic. Let it cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the other vegetables, except for the corn. Add the beans, spices and broth. After cooking for about 15 minutes, start blending small amounts of the soup in a blender until smooth. Add back to the pot, and blend some more. I like to keep a bit of it unblended, just to add more texture. Add the corn, and cook for a few more minutes. (You can blend some of the corn too, if you like.)

Serve alone, or topped with cheese. I went with the cheese.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Catnip = Cat Nap

This is what is left of my catnip:

My friend Shelley had gotten some for me just in case we got a cat this summer. (We didn't.) It had been safe on our back porch until J. decided that we needed to move all of the plants from the porch to the front yard; aka: CatLand. I'd even forgotten what it was until a few days ago, the neighbor cat discovered it. He rubbed all over it, then flopped down on the ground. It was really cute, so I went in to get my camera. When I came back, this is what I saw:

Loved to death.

Then the culprit came back the next day, but couldn't find the plant (or what was left of it.) I offered him a small piece.

He ate it up, and was very happy.

The End

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Making a Spiral Garden

Ever since I first saw one of these at Seattle Tilth a few years ago, I've wanted to make one in my yard. They seem relatively easy, you just need some large rocks and plants that do well in a shallow amount of dirt.

You basically arrange the rocks into a spiral formation, fill in the rest with dirt, and select your plants. It seems best to put the shorter ones on the bottom and taller ones on the top.

My plan is to put one of these in our front shady yard, where we have a lot of space, but the ground is pretty difficult to dig up due to the large amount of trees and their roots. Since you build it off of the ground, you don't need to dig things up. Due to the spacing, you can also have things grow close together and fill in the gaps. I think this could also be really awesome if you had a lot of sun, and you could pack it with succulents!
Tomorrow, I'm off to City People's, where they have the most amazing collection of plants I've ever witnessed. Until recently, I'd only been to the inside of the store- and while I always found things I wanted to buy, I was not as impressed with their plant selection. After a visit to the back nursery, I was completely blown away. They arrange plants by type (annual/perennial) and shade/sun. There's also a section of entirely native plants! They also label ones that are liked by hummingbirds/bees/butterflies/etc. I'll be sure to take some pictures to share!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vegetarian Convenience Foods

Sometimes you don't feel like cooking. Sometimes you just want something easy to microwave or cook really fast. Rejoice, because today is that day! I've compiled (through the help of my pantry) a photo gallery of easy-to-find vegetarian convenience foods!

Starting in the freezer, we have taquitos from Trader Joe's. They can be microwaved or baked, and served with salsa and sour cream, you have an easy snack! (or with some salad or other veggies... a meal!)

Most ramens are not vegetarian, but this one is! (vegan actually!) Just some spices in the spice pack, no chickens or cows. :) Add lots of veggies and some tofu, and you are done.

Lentils are one of the easiest to cook bean-type-things you will ever come across. They cook in about 20 minutes, and these ones will turn to mush- which I like as a thickener in soups, or Indian dal.

This says vegetarian right on it! It does have a little dairy though, so not vegan. I like to add a cut up tomato or some onions on top, or serve it on top of some pasta.

I'm pretty sure I got this curry mix at Uwajimaya, but they sell them at Safeway too. Just break out half the package, add some water, and chopped up veggies. Turn on your rice cooker, and you're done!

This soup is vegetarian and low in calories. Not vegan though, because of the noodles.

This is my favorite canned soup. I usually just add some spinach, and that's it!

Whole wheat pasta (and actually, all dried pastas) are very good, quick to cook, and vegan.
Add your favorite sauce and you're done! (although I'm not... I usually add some veggies like zucchini, eggplant, pepper, carrots, celery... and sometimes some soy sausage or lentils.)

This is the base for the featured dish of the day! Rice a Roni Fried Rice.

Cook up the rice as it says on the directions. While it's cooking, add a bunch of chopped veggies and some tofu. Top with slivered almonds and sesame seeds.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book Review: Honeybee

As you may or may not know, I've been thinking about keeping honeybees for a while now. It started last fall when we moved into our new(ish now) house, and I decided that we totally had a big enough yard for me to be able to do it. Then I took a class in February for my birthday, and learned about how expensive it would be to start up (between $500 and $700) and put it on hold for a little while. It's always been in the back of my mind though (that, and having a couple of ducks) but I recently decided that bees might not work so well in the part of the yard that I was imagining. (That and John keeps telling me that ducks and bees are mortal enemies, and have had "Fight Club"-type duels for years. "That's why ducks can fly you know. They used to be expert climbers and would get into the trees to get the delicious honey. Then they evolved a flight mechanism to be able to feed on the bees themselves!" You see what I have to live with.)

Anyway, I digress. Pretty much whenever I see a book dealing with bees or beekeeping, I pick it up. This time, I bought it. It's a memoir of a woman who started keeping bees, and ended up with her own honey company. So far I'm about 3 chapters in, and I'm really enjoying it. (Did you know that after honeybees sting, they release a hormone that tells the other bees that there is danger, and they should sting too? And that this hormone smells like bananas? She learns this after trying to start her first hive; after they attacked her instead of going into their new home.) I also like how much information there is about beekeeping, without being just a guidebook. I still would like to keep bees, but I'm thinking it might be a bit further down the line, after we've made the rooftop garden we have planned- then they'll get enough sun/shelter, and be less of a danger to nearby pets/people/toddlers/etc.


Caprese Sandwich: Are you jealous yet??

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fuschia and Blackberry Update

These ones are in the backyard, and they're just starting to open.

And the blackberries? Are on their way to being tamed. I check them every few days, which I think is the key. If they grow a lot unmonitored, they turn into scary cobra snake vines. These ones however, are doing really well. I keep wrapping them around the wire, and make them go where I want them to.

I've also cut back some that were too far out of range to be trained. For some reason, leaving them alone long enough to reach the trellis thingie has made all sorts of other plants grow rampant behind them. (I'm talking to you, crazy pink weed things and obnoxious overnight ferns!) We're starting to get some blossoms though, so it will be berries in no time!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Basil and Spicy Corn Chowder

This is my favorite plant:

Some people might be afraid to choose a favorite plant, like they wouldn't want to choose a favorite child. I say, "Choose away!" because basil is AWESOME and totally my favorite, and I don't care who knows it. (Lulu is also the favorite child, just in case you were wondering.)
Basil just smells good, all the time. It makes any salad taste better. And you can make pesto. Pesto! (but that is another recipe for another day) I could really almost eat it by itself. I even used to wrap a piece of tomato and mozzerella with a leaf of basil, and called it a snack. Mmm...
It just says 'summer' to me; sure you can buy it year round, but grow it? Fuggitaboutit. Once TJ's gets in their $2.99 plants, I'm sold!

Today I made Chipotle Basil Corn Chowder, slightly adapted from (*you guessed it!) Vegan Yum Yum. Enjoy!

6 ears of corn, cut off of the cob
1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder (they used a fresh one from a can, but only a teaspoon, and that's just too wasteful for my blood!)
5-6 small red potatoes, diced
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup basil, shredded
1/2 cup milk
3 cups water
1 bouillion cube

In a large pot, heat the olive oil, and saute the onions. Add the butter and stir. Add the potatoes, carrots, and chipotle. Then cut the corn off the cobs, and add that too. Pour in the water and add the bouillion cube. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes soften. Then carefully blend the soup in batches (in a blender). Keep some of it chunky if you like it that way. Stir in milk, remove from heat, and top with basil shreds.

Vegan disclaimer: This is not in fact vegan. If you would like it that way, use plain soy milk in place of the milk, and omit the butter. Butter is very tasty however, which is why I used just a little bit. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Other Things to Look Forward to...

Whole Wheat Rosemary Foccacia Bread:

Sweet and Sour Almond Tofu

Spicy Chickpea Tomato Soup

Tons of Indian Food!

Including Aloo Matar- AMAZING!!

Chickpea Artichoke Couscous Salad

I am hearby declaring this as the week of "Vegan Yum Yum". While it is kind of a silly name, this book is based on a blog (of the same name) and I've been making things out of it like crazy! (and surprisingly, without variation of the recipe. I know!)

Today though, I changed it up a bit. It's a chickpea/artichoke warm salad, that I added quite a few things to.. so I don't think I'm doing any copyright infringement to share.

Chickpea Artichoke Couscous Salad:

2 cans of chickpeas (aka: garbanzo beans)
1 can of marinated artichokes, drained and minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup couscous
1/2 veggie bouillion cube
1 tomato
1/4 cup parsley, finely minced
1 cup spinach (per person)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 small lemon's worth of juice

Add the oil to a frying pan, and heat it to medium high. Open, drain, and rinse the chickpeas. Add to pan. Let cook for a few minutes, until they start to brown. Add the garlic, then the artichokes. Fry until they are more brown.

In a small pot, cook the couscous with the bouillion. After the beans are browned, add the parsley and remove from heat. Chop the tomato, and add it too. Mix in the couscous after it is done, then add the lemon juice and salt/pepper. Serve over shredded spinach.

I thought about adding some feta on top, but it was really great how it was. You can serve this warm or cold, and it would be great on a picnic!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Early Bird Sale!

Just FYI... if you sign up your child for a summer camp anytime before June 15th, you will save $25!! Visit: www.homegrowncookingschool.com for details. (and for all you peeps who live far away... I'm working on a some things for you that you shall see in a few months!!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Essential Baking; Shameless Plug

I love Essential Baking Company. The bread. The sandwiches. The soups. THE COOKIES. Everything is just fantastic there, even the veggie sandwich I got on accident one time that I thought would be weird (cranberries, brie, cucumbers, lettuce, and sprouts? ok...) was really good. Who else would make a panini sandwich filled with yams, caramelized leeks, and swiss chard? Today was no exception; a sandwich with avocado, charred pepper, grilled onions, and cilantro pesto, and a lovely Greek salad that had almost as many basil leaves as it did lettuce leaves. You had me at "basil leaves". And the cookies! I've had their thumbprint cookies a few times, and Mmmm! Butter! Almonds! Raspberry Jam! So good! Yes, I love this place, and lately have been going out of my way to stop by; even if they're out of my favorite bread (rosemary with salt on top) they always have something worth eating.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rainy Day Slow Cooker Stew

Some days, you want to eat something hearty, but you really don't feel like cooking. This is where I introduce my friend, the slow cooker. When it is rainy, or I'm just overly busy (and would rather take 15 minutes at lunch to start something, than spend an hour later...) I pull the crock pot out of its' secret cupboard, and put it to work. This is the one I made last week:

Slow Cooker Veggie Stew:

4-5 red potatoes
3 carrots
1 onion
1 cup red lentils
crumbled dehydrated mushrooms, about 2 Tbsp.
1/2 cup Israeli couscous (actually used a mix from Trader Joe's that included quinoa, the couscous, and a variety of peas and beans)
1 double strength veggie bouillion cube
6-8 cups water
1 packet mushroom gravy mix
chives on top!
Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray, then add veggies, chopped up. Add other ingredients (except gravy mix), and cook over low for 6 hours, or high for 3 1/2. Add gravy mix in last hour.

Serve with bread, if the spirit moves you.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Seriously? Even more plants...

How could I resist?? Plants were 2 FOR A DOLLAR at Top Foods!!! Some noteables..

A broccoli plant: I tried growing these before in LA, and they didn't work out too well. But, for 50 cents, I will try again! (also got a cauliflower, but no picture of that one.)

Some more squash; 2 butternuts, and 1 acorn.

This gorgeous thing is an orange mint. I've never seen one before, and it smells fantastic!! (see rest of the bevy of plants in the background!)

I had to get this one too... English thyme (complete with British flag in background). :)

Aside from these last two herbs, everything was 2/$1.oo. I think I spent $3.00 total, and then another $5 on the herbs. So worth it! (and yes, I know I have a problem!)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Coconut Cupcakes! (vegan and gluten-free)

Last weekend, I made some coconut cupcakes from this book:

I adapted them a bit, in an attempt to use less oil and sweetener. Here is what I did:

Coconut Cupcakes:
1/3 cup agave nectar (all I had left)
1 2/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce (put in a measuring cup and add
canola or vegetable oil until it reaches 1 1/3 cups)
2 1/4 cups water
1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 cup white sugar
3 cups shredded coconut
4 cups brown rice flour
2 cups chickpea flour
Mix together all wet ingredients, then add the dry ones (pre-mixed together if you prefer). If you taste the batter, it will be kind of bitter (due to the chickpea flour) so ignore that. Pour into cupcake-papered muffin tins. Bake in a 350* oven for about 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Then make frosting!

Coconut Frosting:
1 stick margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
soy milk (approx. 1/3 cup)
powdered sugar (approx. 3 cups)
1 cup coconut
Get your mixer ready! Add the margarine, and blend until creamy. Add some powdered sugar. Then add the extracts, and a splash of soy milk. Add some more sugar (about 1/2 cup). Mix again. Add the coconut. Mix. Keep alternating sugar and milk until it reaches the consistency that you like for frosting. (This is why I don't use exact measurements... I just add sugar until it seems right.) Frost onto cooled cupcakes, and top with more coconut if you like!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Moment of Zen

This has been a difficult week, for a variety of reasons. (weather, some licensing issues that are now resolved, lots of business stuff deadlines, too much cake in the house, etc...) I've decided that we all could use a moment of calmness. Tranquility. Laughter.

I present to you, The One-Eared Lulu:

I call her "One-Eared Lulu, the Pirate" whenever she does this. It never ceases to amuse me. Enjoy! (and let's hope for an awesome Friday.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Other Things To Do When It Rains...

These are some of the cookbooks that I've bought lately (except for Flying Apron). Yes, I have a problem.

I tried to talk myself out of buying this book... but it is SO AWESOME!! I haven't made anything from it yet, but I've already marked at least 20 things to try. There are some Indian things, and Chinese foods, things with tofu, picnic foods... and I'm very excited about it!

This book is by a woman named Pam Anderson (not that one) who has written quite a few books, and is friends with Pioneer Woman. This book has a ton of breakfasts, salads, soups, and all sorts of things I want to make; plus they're healthy, and not high in calories! (also a win)

I found this in the clearance section at B&N, and there are all sorts of fun things to make with kids in here. I sometimes wonder if I do enough "fun"-type foods with kids; you know, breads that look like snakes, or food made into faces. This book has a bunch of great ideas.

I used this book the other day to make some tasty Coconut Cupcakes (altered recipe to follow soon!). So far, I've made two things from this book, and both have been good. The batter is gross though; so don't base your opinion on that. I blame chickpea flour! (who thinks that is tasty?) My only complaint with this book is that they use TONS of non-sugar (i.e. 3 cups of maple syrup, which you know is at least $9 a bottle; or agave nectar- also expensive) and too much oil. I think the cookies I did straight-up, but I used a lot of substitutions for this cake. John makes fun of me and says that I can't make any recipe straight out of a book; and it's true.

This is the lastest issue of Edible Seattle. I LOVE this magazine! And this issue? Completely vegetarian! To be honest, the reason that I don't subscribe to it is that every other month it seems like they're talking to some butcher or other killer of animals, specifically about their jobs. Or they're having recipes for lamb. Or something else that grosses me out. But I love that they have local people and local happenings. They talk about things that are in season, and where to get the best ones. And farmer's markets. And supporting local merchants. This month has an article on both beekeeping and Delancey! (somewhere I've wanted to go ever since I first heard about it.) So, I do love them. But keep the recipes for cow tongue OUT.

(Plus the cover is gorgeous. I'm totally framing it and putting it in my office!)