October Unprocessed: The Latter Half

Squash and mushroom soup, topped with Greek yogurt.

Well, I slacked off on photographing the last two weeks of October Unprocessed. Work was busy, evenings have been busier, and photographing and blogging have not been my primary concerns. But it’s Halloween Night, we’re watching Shaun of the Dead and passing out candy, I’m gearing up for the NaNoWriMo kickoff event (yes, I said I wasn’t going to focus on fiction, but NaNo is infectious), and now seemed like a good time to write a blog post.

Avocado tacos with honey and sea salt.

Here are a few observations about my second year as opposed to my first year:

  • I relied on my slow cooker a lot the last two weeks. Bean-based dishes can cook on low for the entire workday, and be perfect when we get home.
  • Whereas last year was a sort of consciousness-raising event for me, in terms of realizing just how much food was processed, this year was one for experimentation with recipes. I delved into some neglected cookbooks and tried some great new recipes. I played with bread recipes, seeing how loaves calling for white flour would work with whole-wheat flour. I played around and had fun.
  • I noticed how much garlic, olive oil, and olives we consume on a regular basis.
  • I’m now obsessed with Greek yogurt. It’s a standard side in my lunch bag, usually mixed with some crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Yes, to be completely unprocessed is a challenge. But it’s worth it.

 

And now, to make up for my lack of food posts this month, I will share my recipe for Soba Noodle Salad.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz dried soba noodles (if you don’t use wheat, rice noodles work great as well)
  • 1 lb medium, firm or extra-firm tofu
  • 1 container of mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of scallions
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar

Procedure:

  • Slice up the tofu. Lay it out in a baking pan. Douse with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil until a marinade surrounds the tofu (I honestly have no idea how much I add).
  • Marinate tofu for several hours (anywhere from 3-8; my marinating time varies based on my schedule)
  • Preserving the remaining marinade, fry marinated tofu, roughly 3 minutes per side. I use sesame oil again.
  • Slice the mushrooms and put them into the pan with the leftover marinade. If the marinade doesn’t appear sufficient, refresh the sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.
  • Marinate for at least 2 hours (I prefer 4).
  • Cook the noodles at least 90 minutes before serving time. After they cook, put them in the fridge to chill.
  • Just before serving, add mushrooms to the noodles. Chop up tofu and scallions, and add them as well. If the salad looks too dry for your taste, add the last of the marinade.
Delicious!

 

 

October Unprocessed: Week 2

 

I didn’t get as many photos this week, largely because we made a number of the same recipes (avocado toast, avocado, pudding, the couscous dish, and the noodle salad are regular staples in our weekly meals). In addition, there was a bulgar wheat and lentil salad that I forgot to photograph (but fortunately, I’m making it again, so look for it in Week 3!). I also focused on making dishes that would result in leftovers. I was busy with the Austin Rocks!  event this weekend, so I wanted food on-hand without having to do much work.

Most popular ingredients this week: avocados, garlic, Greek yogurt, kalamata olives, bell peppers, feta cheese, lemons, olive oil, lentils.

Baked avocado and egg with Parmesan.

 

Roasted beet and goat cheese gratin.

 

Macedonian salad (The New Moosewood Cookbook).

 

Lentil and potato dal garnished with Greek yogurt.

 

 

 

 

October Unprocessed: Week 1

I’m doing October Unprocessed again this year. Since I know what to expect, this year will be more about sharing what, exactly I ate, rather than recording my experiences and impressions.

I used The New Moosewood Cookbook a lot this week, as most of the things in it either are or can be modified to be unprocessed, and because the recipes tend to make large portions. Leftovers are key when you’re eating almost entirely at home.

Most common ingredients in week 1: avocados (no difference from daily life), garlic (we went through an entire bulb in one week), peppers (bell and jalapeno), onions, beans, olives, and Greek yogurt. This year, I’m interested in seeing the consistent ingredients week-to-week.

Jon’s amazing homemade breakfast tacos.
Arabian Squash Casserole from The New Moosewood Cookbook.
Avocado toast on homemade bread
Multi-bean salad. Adaptation from The New Moosewood Cookbook, based on ingredients I had on-hand.
Rice noodle and fried tofu salad (my own recipe).
Gypsy Soup (The New Moosewood Cookbook)
Avocado pudding made with Greek yogurt and agave nectar, topped with flax.
Couscous with olives, capers, and feta (my friend Jerry’s recipe).
Chickpea-yogurt dip, an experiment in an attempt to use up leftovers. Unfortunately, the results were mediocre.
Stuffed tomatoes and cilantro rice. Another experiment in using leftovers, this time with fantastic results.
Jon’s amazing guacamole.

 

There was also a delicious pesto-artichoke-olive pizza that I made for dinner on Sunday night. Unfortunately, I was so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture.

Stay tuned for more unprocessed photographic deliciousness next week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Independence Day in Food (and puppies!!)

I had the day off on July 4th, which meant I got to sleep in. Jon volunteered to work, but he didn’t need to be in until noon, so we got to start the day with Jon’s world-famous (okay, house-famous) breakfast tacos.

Celebrating America with tacos. Huzzah!

When Jon went off to work, I got ready for a board game party at my dance partner’s apartment. Before I headed out to his place, I whipped up a bean-and-pepper salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette.

Gratuitous dog photo!

The salad turned out to be a little too much for people with delicate palates, but those of us who favor spicy food loved it. In the future, I will probably reduce the habaneros and serranos in order to make sure this is enjoyable for all.

Carbs and fat. It’s the American way!
Maxwell would really like a burger.

After indulging in various grilled foods and unhealthy sides, we spent the afternoon playing one game after another. Then, it came time for dessert: apple pie. While in the past, I have been horrified by the prospect of cheese on my pie, the fact is that I love cheese and I love pie. So I decided to give the combination a try.

Food adventure!

The end result: I didn’t despise it. I’m glad I tried it. I’m not sure I’d do it again, but I also am open to the possibility. I can see a shaved white cheddar working quite well on a pear pie, for example.

And that is how I celebrated my independence. I hope your own holiday was just as delicious.

Max and Emma only knocked over two candleholders tearing around the house.

The holidays in food

I think I cooked more for the holidays this year than I ever have before. Or maybe it’s that Channukah and Christmas overlapped, and so all the cooking was lumped together in the span of a week, so all of my holiday cooking was lumped together in the span of about five days. Either way, I was really proud of the food I made last year. So for your viewing pleasure, here is a roundup of all of our culinary indulgences.

To celebrate the beginning of Channukah, I made sourdough challah, as well as this slow-cooker brisket. I actually have another brisket recipe I love, but it doesn’t work well in the slow cooker, and since Channukah began during the busiest time of the week, it was easier for me to prepare something in the slow cooker before work to have ready when I came home. The challah came out great, and the brisket was absolutely perfect.

 

 

A few days later, I made a lamb soup for Solstice. I’m not pagan and thus don’t observe any of the spiritual aspects of this particular day, but I do like the symbolism. I hate the short days and long nights, and the fact that the days are gradually getting longer is definitely reason to celebrate!

 

On Christmas Eve, we had latkes for dinner. I mean, Channukah was still going on, I had cooking plans for Christmas Day, and since latkes from scratch are time-consuming (but absolutely the best), we had to do it on a weekend. So Jon spent the better part of Saturday night making completely delicious latkes by hand, complete with applesauce and sour cream.

I'm apparently not great at photographing latkes. But trust me, they were amazing.

 

On Christmas Day, we went a little overboard, but it was completely worth it. We started the day late (well, Jon did; I’m a perpetual early riser and spend most of the morning working on poetry with a puppy cuddled in my lap) with a fantastic brunch. Jon prepared this sweet potato hash that is without a doubt one of the most delicious breakfast dishes I have ever tasted in my life. It did take a lot of prep work the night before, but was very easy the morning of, and completely worth all the effort. We cut the recipe in half, and we were full right up until dinner.

 

And on Christmas night, we had a lasagna, which took me well over three hours to prepare (but was totally worth it). This year (I do a different lasagna every Christmas, or at least I have for all the Christmases I have spent in Austin), I stuffed it with kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, and roasted artichokes. Unfortunately, the roasted artichokes didn’t turn out so great. This was my first time attempting to cook them, and my instructions weren’t very clear. Still, in mid-preparation I snapped a cool photo of an artichoke looking like a lotus.

 

Despite my artichoke issues, the lasagna turned out delicious, and everyone had seconds (and in one case, thirds).

 

 

We spent Christmas with friends, drinking sake and playing board games (and cooing over Maxwell). It was a lovely end to a lovely cooking spree. And I look forward to reheating leftovers and not thinking about cooking for a few more days.