Pasta with Kale and Portabello Mushrooms


Earlier I took a hike across my little canyon and up the hill where I plan to build a fence so people will not drive where they are not supposed to drive.  Driving there causes rather bad erosion.  Walked back to the barn, fed the horses, and returned to the house, then noticed hunger.  This afternoon I bought some Tuscan kale and wanted to try it out.  Here’s my creation:

Extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped

3-4 medium size portabello mushrooms, sliced

3 large Tuscan kale leaves, center stem removed and chopped

Pasta–your choice.  I used rigatoni but my favorite is conchiglie from Montebello Monastery in Italy which has been doing this since 1388 or so they claim

Greek oregano

Ricotta cheese

Cover bottom of a skillet with the olive oil.  Add the onions, mushrooms, and chopped kale stems.  Saute until the onions are translucent and the kale stems are cooked but still crunchy.  While this is cooking, tear the kale leaves into bite sized pieces.  Take two dried oregano stems and lightly remove and crumble the leaves and florets into the skillet.  Discard the stems.  Add the kale leaves to the onion mixture and saute.  When done, kale leaves will be tender but still a bright green.  Pour over the pasta and place a dollop of ricotta cheese on top.

Note:  I grow my own Greek oregano and dried a bunch on my counter top this week–I live in a dry climate so this works.  I took two stems with the dried leaves and flowers still attached and stripped off the leaves and flowers and crushed them with my hands directly into the skillet.  Greek oregano is very mild.  You might want to use less of other oregano.  Without the ricotta, this recipe is vegan.  I used whole milk ricotta; I never buy low fat anything.  I tried to learn to like whole wheat pasta but gave up.  Quinoa and corn mixed pasta is ok, but give me the real thing from Italy.

 

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This photo illustrates the dried Greek oregano.  I will have to decide whether to store like this or take it all off the stems and crush it.

Summer Salad: Garbanzo Beans and Corn


The first Sunday is potluck Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Amarillo, Texas, about 14 miles from where I live.  Usually, for years, I have made a certain pie that many like.  This morning I neither felt the inclination nor the had the time because I went out to feed horses and work on my steep drive.  Plus, the forecast predicted a quite hot day, 98 degrees Fahrenheit, making me disinclined to heat up the oven.  I opened my pantry door, viewed the canned goods and created this recipe.  Several asked how I made it; apparently my experiment met with success.

2 15 oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained

1/4 medium size purple onion, finely chopped

1 medium size red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup medium size black olives, sliced

1/4 cup (or amount to suit your own personal taste) red wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. coriander seeds, ground

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all the above.  Chill and serve.  Personally, I think this might have been even better if allowed to marinate to blend all the flavors.  This is easy,  nutritious, and vegan.

Vegetables with Coriander, Cumin, and Tumeric


SAM_1010Vegetables are my favorite food.  Interspersed with the poems and essays I publish, I try to post unique recipes.  My recipes come from years of interaction and relationships with people from all over the world, husbands, exchange students who enhance my extended family, travels to Asia and Latin America, my international friends near where I live.  Recently, after a dinner party, I had left over vegetables that needed cooking so one evening home from work, I created this recipe.  It is vegan by accident not intention.  One could add fish, chicken, turkey leftovers (see recent post for turkey curry), shrimp…you get the idea.  The options are endless.  I used the vegetables I needed to use up, but take a look in your refrigerator and try what you have on hand.  Experiment.

1 medium sized beet, peeled and cut into half coins

1 poblano pepper seeded and chopped

1/2 purple onion, chopped

Several pieces of Swiss chard, stems removed and chopped, leaves cut into large, bite sized pieces

Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped–amount to your own taste

Olive oil

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground

1/2 teaspoon cumin–or extra to taste

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Saute the beets, chopped Swiss chard stems, garlic, and onions in olive oil until beets are cooked through.  Add spices and poblano pepper.  When  the pepper is nearly done, add the Swiss chard leaves and cook only until wilted.

Serve over rice.  I used equal amounts of black, red, and Jasmine rice.

How to cook rice:

1/3 cup black rice

1/3 cup red rice

1/3 cup brown or Jasmine rice–your preference

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon concentrated broth/bouillon–I use Better Than Bouillon brand which is available Vegetarian as well as Chicken, etc.

Pour enough olive oil into a saucepan to cover the bottom.  Add the rice and chopped garlic.  Saute at high heat until rice starts to stick, stirring constantly.  Add two cups water and the bouillon.  Stir rapidly until bouillon dissolves.  Turn down heat to low, cover the top of the saucepan with four paper towels or a tea towel folded to make several layers.  Put sauce pan lid on the top and cook for approximately one hour.  Red, brown, and black rice take twice as long to cook as white rice.  Do  not peek while rice is cooking.  Lifting the lid to check causes the rice to be mushy.

Barbara Lightle’s Potato Soup


Recent cold nights brought childhood memories of Mom’s cooking, particularly the one and only soup I recall her ever making, potato soup.  Then memories of Dad and how much he loved Mom and her cooking rushed in.  Long after Mom’s death on one of my visits home, Dad asked me to cook all the ingredients for Mom’s potato soup except for the milk.  He wanted enough to last a while so he could add the milk bit by bit on occasions when he wanted soup.  On a cold night this past week, I duplicated Mom’s soup like on that visit home long ago.  I even made extra.

Barbara Lightle’s Potato Soup

SAM_09721 onion, chopped finely

Several stalks celery, chopped finely

Potatoes, chopped finely–enough so that the ratio of potatoes to onion and celery is 2:1

Enough melted butter to saute all the above until done

Finally, add milk and salt to taste, depending on how salty and thick you like your soup.

Mom made it plain like this.  I used olive oil instead of butter and also added a few chopped portabella mushrooms.  It later occurred to me that adding green chilies or poblano peppers with some cumin would make a nice soup.  Or use coconut milk and curry for Asia style.

Vegetarian Chorizo with Potatoes and Black Beans


    This is a quick, simple recipe.  I served it with a very basic green salad of red lettuce, orange and red bell peppers, and a goat feta cheese.  Rice would make a nice addition as would fried ripe plantains.

6 small (petite) potatoes, diced

6 oz. (1 large link) soy chorizo (I used Soyrizo which is also vegan)

1/2 medium red onion, chopped

1 can black beans

Olive oil

Saute the onion and potatoes in the olive oil until tender.  Remove the chorizo from the package and crumble into the skillet with the onion and potatoes.  Stir into the onion and potato mixture.  Rinse the canned black beans and drain.  Add to the mixture and stir.  When black beans are heated, serve.

The portions in this recipe are easy to multiply to serve more people.

Pura Vida: 2, Comida (Costa Rican food)


Costa Ricans appear to be very, very healthy.  Their food mainly consists of rice, black beans, salad, cooked vegetables, chicken or fish, fruit (usually pineapple, papaya, mangoes) and sometimes fried plantain.  In fact fried plantain was the only fried food, except occasionally cheese.  The food is plain with few spices, even though hot sauce, especially their version of tobasco,  is often available if you want it.  The national dish is gallo pinto:  left over white rice mixed nearly equally with black beans and sometimes a little chopped onion and bell peppers sautéed in oil.  This is a breakfast staple, but frequently served three times a day.  Sometimes, although black beans and rice are usually served at lunch and dinner, they are not mixed together then.  Often salad is their version of cole slaw, but tastes nothing like cole slaw here.  Usually both cabbage and carrots are very finely shredded and mixed together.  I never did quite figure out the dressing, in part because it varied greatly.  When the salad was with lettuce, it was also more finely chopped than we usually do here in the US and served with various dressings including olive oil.  The freshness of the salads stood out–no little bits of brown edges in Costa Rica.

The coffee, well, just lets say, I miss it.  Pitchers of steaming, strong, mountain grown coffee served with pitchers of steaming, rich milk.  In the mountains everywhere Jersey, Guernsey, and Holstein cows roamed up to their tummies in grass.  Happy cows for sure, producing rich milk for coffee and rich white cheese, which is served for breakfast.  Yes, breakfast, sometimes plain and sometimes fried.  Oh, and I cannot forget the ice cream.  Beyond creamy and smooth and rich.

There are sweets, usually made as snacks with coconut especially.  This was my favorite.

Obesity appeared to be non-existent.  I did see a few chubby people but no one really excessively over weight.  Perhaps diet is one reason, but they walk a lot even though most have cars.  They appear to drive them only if going some distance.  In the mountains I saw a lot of people riding horses.

The biggest food adventure for me occurred while waiting around near a little family owned restaurant at the top of a mountain.  All but four of us and the bus driver had gone river rafting.  We disembarked from the bus and walked around to kill time, chit chatting about this and that in Spanish.  Suddenly the restaurant owner came out with his grandson, unlocked the fence gate, and invited us in.  While sitting at the bar conversing with him and Hector, the bus driver, I noticed the menu posted on the wall.  It included huevo de tortuga.  Previous information given to us indicated that Costa Rican law protected turtles (tortugas).  I asked how he could serve this.  He told me it depended on the species of turtle and that he could acquire only a limited amount of them.  Suddenly, in front of me, Lisa, the other woman who did not go rafting and is pregnant, and Hector appeared three glasses that looked like giant, triple sized, shot glasses.  Each one contained a raw turtle egg immersed in red hot sauce the consistency of tobasco sauce.  Instructions and gestures indicated this was to be downed like a shot of tequila.  Lisa stuck her tongue in the sauce and said it was ok.  She downed hers first and said, “This is not all that bad.”  The restaurant owner told her it held great nutrition for her unborn baby.  I translated.  It became very clear to me that I had no choice but to down mine as well.  Hector downed his; then I mine.  Lisa’s assessment was correct; it was ok inspite of the turtle egg feeling like a rather solid but squishy mass as it slid down my throat.  The hot sauce made it possible.  Lisa downed a second one; Hector and I declined.  This experience remains one of the highlights of my trip:  relaxing in the middle of nowhere with a local family in their little restaurant.  Pura vida!!!!

Pura Vida


Everywhere in Costa Rica one hears Pura Vida.  It seems to be the national motto.  I have been here for a week.  This is the greenist, healthiest, cleanist, enviromentally conscious, most mountainous place I have ever been.  Few people smoke, there is no salt on the table anywhere, the food is mostly rice, black beans, fruit, and vegetables.  No hot peppers here unless they are on the Caribbean side where I have not gone yet.  When I return home later this week, I will post photos with written details, including some food photos and explanations.  Today I saw howler monkeys, iguanas, other lizards, numerous birds, white faced monkeys, sloths, and agoutis.  Tomorrow will start out by going to a place with lots of crocodiles and scarlet macaws.  This time of year it rains incessantly.  I have been soaked several times and nothing dries out. Even though I am not a lover of rain or being wet, it is impossible not to love this place.  Pura Vida.

Vegetarian Chorizo Casserole and Roasted Vegetables


Last night 12 people were at my house for dinner, including a friend who is Muslim so no pork.  I created this dish in order to feed both my Muslim and vegetarian friends. You could use regular chorizo, but after trying soyrizo, I quit using anything else and even my Mexican friends love it.  Tastes the same, but not so greasy so probably healthier.

I package soy chorizo, removed from casing

Enough small red potatoes to cover the bottom of a 13 X 9 casserole dish when thinly sliced

3 large poblano peppers, deseeded and sliced

1 medium purple onion, chopped

10 cherry tomatoes

2 cups half and half

4 TBS flour

1 TBS chili mild chili powder

Several TBS olive oil

Cover the bottom of the casserole with olive oil.  Layer the sliced potatoes so that they totally cover the bottom of the dish.  Remove the soy chorizo from its casing and crumble it over the potatoes.  Layer the sliced poblanos over the chorizo.  Sprinkle the chopped onions over the top of the peppers.  Scatter the cherry tomatoes on top of the onions.  In a blender, combine the half and half, the flour, and the chili powder.  Pour evenly over the casserole.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees until the potatoes are tender.  You may uncover the casserole and continue baking for the last ten to fifteen minutes if you would like the top a bit browned.

I served this with roasted vegetables seasoned with cumin and ground coriander and Egyptian basil:

Cover the bottom of a heavy casserole with olive oil. Place thinly sliced potatoes–I used purple ones–to cover the bottom of the pan.  Continue layering your choice of vegetables, spices, and olive oil.  Bake at 400 degrees until the potatoes on done, stirring occasionally.  About ten minutes before the casserole is done, add kale leaves. The potatoes take longer to cook than any other vegetables I have ever used.  Last night I used these vegetables:  purple potatoes, yams, baby carrots, brussel  sprouts,  chopped onions, beets, kale, red jalapeños (seeded and halved), and whole garlic cloves.  This is also good with garbanzo beans added just before the kale.

I was going to take photos but was too busy entertaining to take them.