Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cooking Couscous is Cool

Couscous is such an easy and foolproof side item for kids to cook. We find all sorts of ways of sprucing it up- the Kitchen Assistant added Curry, Clove, Nutmeg, Apples and Raisins tonight. While the spice was a little heavy handed- it had potential.

Before the spice bath...
Hub-ster made himself frozen chicken Teriyaki from Costco, and I made a baked head of cauliflower basted in curry, cumin, coriander and canola oil, with apples, onions and raisins nestled in the hollow created by cutting out the stem. As it turned out all three items, stirred together = fascinating flavor!

G-pie and I learned a lesson in the use of spice tonight, and as a whole the idea of experimenting with seasoning was explored thoroughly. We discussed how flavors are enhanced by others and agreed that cloves should be used VERY sparingly. 

We also decided salad and couscous is the perfect base for a meal, add steamed asparagus, wok'd broccoli, cooked carrots or a hearty yam and yukon stew, with baby peas and peal onions and finish with fruit. Once grilling season hits, we'll have veggie kabobs, grilled eggplant and zesty zucchini.

Last night G-pie made a stellar salad from romaine, raddichio, herb mix, carrot coins & jicama chips chilled with 1/2 t each dill & ginger, chopped apples, a pinch of cinnamon sugar and northern italian dressing. She did a great job of chopping everything down to bite size or smaller and tossed it all together with the perfect amount of moisture. A promotion may be in store for the budding culinary apprentice...  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Grab & Go Breakfast Logs

Was trying to make cookies- my Kitchen Assistant suggested they were more like Breakfast Bites, and I reshaped the next batch into logs, I plan to keep these babies on hand! Throwing a few in the freezer today to see how they fare...

Basically I blended peeled, cored and sliced organic apples (3 gala and 2 granny smiths) with 1/2 c water from boiled beets and 1/4 cup honey, until it was smooth. Then I added 1/2 cup canola oil and blended with a whisk.

In another bowl I put 2 1/2 cups oats, 1/2 cup spelt flour, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup all purpose flour, along with vegan egg substitute (Ener-G Egg Replacer powder) and a few shakes of salt.

We combined the wet & dry ingredients then folded in 1/2 cup raisins and swirled in 1/4 cup peanut butter.

This recipe is VERY loosely based on Oatmeal Cookies from Rodale's Naturally Great Foods, a cookbook I have been reading- it has a lot of information and tons of recipes... but it isn't vegan- nor even vegetarian. Labels. schmabels, it has good eats!

We also experimented with drying beets again, my Kitchen Assistant thought we could try a salty-cinnamon-sugar, and it turned out surprisingly good. Still need to adjust something as they are a bit chewier than I would like. Mary Bell's Dehydrated foods suggested boiling first, maybe I didn't do it long enough- it was a big beet! The skin came off much easier after boiling.

Many of the things we did the recipe came from ideas inspired by the newly learned cooking terms my Kitchen Assistant has added to her vocabulary. G-pie totally wow'ed me with her already accumulated knowledge of cooking terms! (I am creating a soon-to-be-downloadable homeschool cooking course as we go- see tag KitchenAsstLP for posts with resources and materials).

We reviewed the 44 words on her word search - and she knew half of them! We also colored our Farmer's Market Veggies and arranged baskets of colorful vegetables- this turned into a great time for G-pie to teach J-cakes her colors and she ended up making a flashcard set to aid in her very-seriously undertaken duty.

Hmmm... I think we need a mentoring class at S.C.H.O.O.L. Session 3 Schedule is due to be published with our newly designed website by Sunday night- we have new classes for older kids (6th - 8th grade) and more options for Science and Drawing.

My lovely Mother In Law is bringing us a meal today, I have been blessed by the outpouring of love (and food) as I heal. Today we will be having a fabulous salad from Rutabagorz- yum!

Happy Friday!

Monday, March 14, 2011

My new Kitchen Assistant Starts today!!

My first born and always eager 9 year old daughter wants to learn to cook. This came, just after I told her how I got paid an allowance to make dinner from the time I was about 11 on. She is ready to start her training. As Executive Chef of Chez Bellah, I have determined she should start as a kitchen assistant and start with prep work.

Being focused on natural and living foods, means that our kitchen processes LOTS of fruits and vegetables- one of the things that often slows me down is the peeling, seeding, chopping, slicing, dicing and storage of our fresh produce. We use our dehydrator some and have been known to freeze ahead for smoothies, soups and "personal packets" (easy to grab and reheat or thaw items pre-portioned for 1-2). We could do both more to ensure that we use all parts of our fresh produce before it goes bad. I also like the variety these items provide.

We are making aprons (well decorating ones I saved from various server jobs in restaurants over the years) and I think chef's hats would make it fun... and of course the three year old gets to join us for this activity. The girls are charged with finding any toys games or puzzles about food, and collecting all the toy food and cleaning the play kitchen today, as well.

Here are some resources I found to help me in lesson planning.

A fun word search for cooking terms and recipe terminology.

Free pdf downloads, although I would love the book just can't afford it right now!

This one is college level, but has lots of useful info and can be scaled down easily- I like the flip book activity and the writing worksheet for creating a descriptive menu.

From just these three sources there is plenty to cover a couple or weeks of daily activities, and I am sure I will be finding more!
Oats & Quinoa soaking overnight.
Wow- amazing what a delicious and nutritious breakfast does for you, huh? This morning I had Oats & Quinoa with dried fruits. Soaked both overnight then brought to a boil, simmered for 10 minutes, and added a splash of almond milk. Simple, satisfying and sweet!

Dried fruits awaiting re-hydration.
The quinoa adds a wonderful chewy "pop" and complements the re-hydrated cranberries perfectly. Next time I don't think I would use any raisins, maybe some dried mango instead?

This recipe is inspired by one in Vitality Foods for Health & Fitness by Pierre Jean Cousin & Kirsten Hartvig. I have also been perusing another favorite because I love the idea of having my own dried fruits on hand next time- and I do have a dehydrator after all!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I think I still want to be a vegan

Food has become a big deal with me lately. I like food. Growing food, harvesting food, shopping for food, prepping food, crafting recipes from foods and pairing food with palate cleansing beverages aimed at making a meal match some sort of mood. Setting the stage for a drama of words inter-tangling with emotions, peppered with frankness and laughter.

Recently I've missed eating with my family. But now that I *can* again- I do NOT want to return to a SAD menu. I love acronyms- and none are more fitting that the Standard American Diet. While I was a vegan- I learned to love the taste of natural, herb infused, spice sprinkled, gourmet garden ingredients.

My kids ate a lot of what I was making myself- and I made a big deal of the things I liked especially- abundant salads, bold soups, classy wraps, decadent nut blends. But we ate cafeteria style- the baby's introduction to solid foods occurring over these same past six months. I have been eating a largely vegan diet for health reasons. I lost nearly 50 pounds. I started doing yoga.

The health risk has been removed- literally. And I may "resume a normal diet"- the question of course is do I want to? And shouldn't I continue to teach my kids about eating a menu filled with variety, tied to traditions and celebrating the life that connect us?

Which means the occasional cupcake. It was delicious.

My newest resource- http://vegweb.com/
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