It is too hot to do a lot of cooking in many parts of the US these days. Salads are a good alternative. However, if you get tired of just salads, here are two easy vegan dishes to enjoy that require little cooking time. If you are not vegan or vegetarian, you can add some cubed meat as you are sautéing the veggies.
Healthy and Fast Food–1
Since I like to know the source of food and never get take out when I am home, I create quick, easy, food that fits my personal health goals for food. Here is an easy recipe for one person. Just double, triple, etc. the proportions to fit the number of people for whom you are cooking.
Saute several chopped garlic cloves and cubed delicata squash–I used one half of the squash–in olive oil until almost tender. Add I filet fish (I used barramundi on which I had squeezed fresh lemon juice). When fish is 1/2 done, add 1/2 chopped poblano pepper and 1/2 bell pepper chopped. Saute until fish is done and peppers tender but still bright colored. Add whatever seasonings you prefer. I used basil essential oil. Serve over pasta or rice. I also grated asiago over the dish when I plated it. I prefer asiago over parmesan.
Note: You can also use butternut squash. Delicata has the advantage in that you do not have to peel it.
Moving 3–More Cooking with Paneer
As I mentioned in the previous post, I am left with one wok and one skillet. The wok seems to work better than the skillet for the sort of dishes I have been making. My previous Cooking with Paneer has been one of my most popular posts. Here is another edition of Cooking with Paneer.
For those who did not read the previous Cooking with Paneer post, paneer is a traditionally East Indian white cheese that does not melt when heated. It is a good source of protein for a vegetarian dish. I use it when a dish calls for tofu because I prefer it to tofu.
Here is a photo of my latest paneer dish.
The paneer in this photo is the white cubes. I sautéed chopped garlic, chopped onions, and purple potatoes in olive oil. Add whatever spices you prefer. Sometimes I use basil essential oil, sometimes the Ethiopian spice berbere. When these were tender, I added the broccoli and coarsely chopped poblano peppers. Saute just until these vegetables are tender but still bight green. Finally, add the paneer and saute just long enough so the paneer is heated through. Serve over rice or farro.
By the way, I did try the rice in a bag since I did not have a normal saucepan. I do not recommend it unless you are desperate for rice. It is extremely bland and boring.
Moving — 2 Cooking
For a few more weeks I am staying at my daughter’s house in Amarillo. A lot of stuff is packed and some of it is already in California. As a consequence I have to cook a bit differently. The usual pots and pans are gone. What is left is one skillet and one wok like pan. The other evening I decided to try one of my favorites anyway using the wok. It turned out great.
I chopped up some onion, garlic, purple potatoes, and Brussel sprouts. I poured olive oil in the pan, added the onion and garlic and potatoes. When they were almost done, I added bite sized pieces of chicken breast. When they were nearly tender, I added the Brussel sprouts with a touch of basil essential oil.
Since I had no pot in which to cook rice, I broke up some grainy bread into bite sized pieces, put the pieces in a bowl and poured the above over them. It was delicious.
Because I love rice but cannot cook it the usual way, I bought some basmati you can supposedly cook in a bag in the microwave. I remain skeptical about this but plan to try it tomorrow evening. I will let you know how that goes.
Two Healthy, Easy Dishes for Dinner
I rarely measure, I often experiment, try new flavor combinations. To create this dish I sautéed several cloves garlic, coarsely chopped, in oil–I use olive for just about everything. I peeled and cubed 1/2 sweet potato and finely chopped approximately two tablespoons fresh ginger. I added these to the olive oil. When the garlic and sweet potatoes were tender, I added 1/2 coarsely chopped red bell pepper and several handfuls of baby bok choy which I had sliced into large pieces. When the bok choy was tender, I added peanuts and Thai sweet chili sauce. I served this over Jasmine rice.
Purple Cabbage with Poblano Peppers, and Garbanzo Beans
I had some left over cabbage and decided to create a new dish. Once again I coarsely chopped several cloves garlic and sautéed them in olive oil. When they were tender and slightly browned, I added coarsely chopped purple cabbage and poblano peppers, sautéing only until they were barely tender. To this mixture I added basil essential oil. Then I added the garbanzo beans. Do not add them too soon because it makes them mushy. I served this over conchiglie pasta from Italy.
Note: I use several essential oils in cooking–basil, fennel, lemon, cumin, thyme, rosemary, cardamon. However, they are intense so if using essential oils, use only a little, taste, then add more if necessary. It is easy to over do it.
For more recipes like this, see my most recent book, “You’re Gonna Eat That?!” It is filled with many simple pescatarian and vegetarian recipes.
Some years I do a lot of baking. Not so much this one because not going to see so many people because of Covid. Today I baked anyway, made pumpkin bread using Mom’s recipe. Many go out and buy new appliances. Not I. In this photo you will see the electric mixer my parents gave me decades ago. Yes, it looks a bit used and rough; it still works perfectly–metal, not plastic, but not heavy like the popular brands now.
Mom always baked her pumpkin bread in cans like this and gave some for presents. One can is just plain pumpkin bread, the other two have chopped walnuts. Mom’s recipe is on page ten in the cookbook, “You’re Gonna Eat That!?” I alter it a bit and here is the general way to make it:
Sift 3 cups flour with 1 tsp cinnamon–I used cinnamon from Ethiopia, 1 tsp grated nutmeg, 1 tsp allspice, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda. Set aside. Mix 2 cups sugar with 1 cup oil–I used avocado, add 3 beaten eggs and mix in the mixer until thoroughly blended. Add 1 tsp vanilla and a couple drops of clove essential oil. Add I small can pumpkin; mix. Gradually add the dry ingredients. Blend thoroughly. At this point I spooned the mixture into one of the cans. Then I added a cup of chopped walnuts to the rest and spooned that mixture into the remaining two cans. Bake at 325 for an hour or until tester comes out clean. Cool on rack and remove from the coffee tins.
Tomorrow I will make Mom’s pumpkin pie also in the memoir/cookbook.
Happy Holidays to all of you!!!
Wandering the World–Food
My travels have not only enlightened me personally, but also enabled me to create recipes from my food adventures around the world. Due to the recommendations of friends and family worldwide, I created a cookbook/memoir with stories and recipes. Len Leatherwood, new President of the Story Circle Network, says, “This is a cookbook after my own heart, filled with a wide range of healthy recipes from several cultures that will add flavor, color, and variety to any table.” Jennifer Archer, award winning writer and editor elaborated further, “A feast for the senses…combines colorful stories, poems, and mouth-watering recipes that inspire readers to experience new places, new tastes…from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Scandinavia, and America.”
This would make a great Christmas present for foodies and people who want worldwide food adventures. It can be ordered online from: http://www.dreamcatcherbooks.com and go to Angel Books.
Recipes for the food in the photos above are included in the book. More food photos follow:
Lemon pasta with mixed salad topped with grated asiago cheese.
Many of the recipes feature berbere, a spice used in Ethiopian cooking. The book also includes four different recipes for salmon and many vegetarian and vegan recipes using spices from around the world.
You’re Gonna Eat That!? Adventures with Food, Family, and Friends
This is my new book, published last month. It is filled with stories, poems, and recipes–healthy food for vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and meat eaters with photos and detailed instructions. Currently, it can be purchased at Burrowing Owl bookstores in Canyon and Amarillo, Texas, and online at http://www.dreamcatcherbooks.com, Angel editions.
More Creative Cooking
Experimentation and creativity while cooking become really important when you are home and going out and about does not seem a very safe option. Here are some photos of two recent dishes I created for dinner.
Many people do not like certain vegetables, two of which are my favorites, beets and Brussels spouts. I remain convinced that people do not like them because no one has ever cooked them in a way they find palatable. These two vegetables keep well in the refrigerator so they are good for buying in this time when many do not want to go to the grocery often.
To create the above dish, I sautéed several chopped garlic cloves in olive oil with the chopped beets. Cook these until nearly done, then add the sliced Brussels sprouts. It takes longer to cook the beets and garlic than the Brussels sprouts. You want the Brussels spouts to be tender but do not over cook. This particular day I added basil essential oil to taste and served the dish over pasta from Italy. When I want something more spicy, I sprinkle berbere (Ethiopian spice) over the vegetables instead of using basil or other Italian spices. Sometimes I serve this over rice instead of pasta, e.g. when I use berbere. This provides a delicious vegan meal and is easy to prepare.
One of my favorite dishes includes cod loins. I create many different versions by changing the vegetables used and the spices. For this one, I first sautéed garlic in olive oil until golden, added chopped beets and sautéed until they were tender. Then I added the cod loin and chopped red bell pepper and chopped poblano pepper. At the last minute I added a handful of frozen green peas and sautéed only until they were hot. Once again I used basil and added lemon essential oil. The pasta is bucatini from Italy. If you like cheese, grate fresh parmesan or asiago over the dish.
After several days away from home, I made a quick, tasty, vegetarian dinner this evening.
Since I am leaving for California early Wednesday morning and did not want to buy more food, I used what I could find in the refrigerator: Brussel sprouts, red bell pepper, poblano pepper, broccoli, onion. I found a container of pepitas in the pantry and added some of those as well.
1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small poblano pepper, deseeded and coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and coarsely chopped
6 Brussel sprouts, sliced
Several broccoli florets
Basil essential oil or dried basil
Pour enough olive oil in skillet to cover bottom and heat on medium low. Add onions and saute until carmelized. Add Brussels sprouts. When sprouts are about half done, add remaining ingredients and six drops of basil essential oil. Saute until tender but still bright colored. Toss in a handful of pepitas. Serve over pasta or rice.
I served this with pasta and grated asiago cheese on top. Although I frequently use parmesan for grating, I actually prefer asiago. Without the cheese, this is vegan.