late winter roots

winter vegetables

Hello friends.  It’s been a while.  Things have been good, I’ve just been working hard, I won’t bore you with the details of things but unfortunately the blog here has suffered.  I do love writing here, I always mean to, but sometimes it feels like when you’re a child and contemplating getting on the escalator, the steps seem to be going just a touch too fast and you watch the steps forming, meaning to get on each one as it comes up, but it takes you a few to finally do it.

Anyways, things are nice here.  This is the first winter since I can remember that my mood hasn’t always matched the weather: bleak and gray, a little bit rough and bare and vacant.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, but seasonal affective disorder always kind of gets me, I can be prone to ruts especially in winter even though ours here in California is quite mild.  I take lots of vitamin D/K2 blend (this one if you’re curious), I am always low in vitamin D in my blood tests and this one really helps, especially in the cold months.  In addition, this year I’ve made it an absolute sticking point to go for a walk each day, no matter if its raining, windy etc which is pretty easy when it doesn’t ever snow where you live.  We most often go late afternoon, during golden hour when the sun is low and getting lower, tinging everything golden, including my mood.  If you live where you can’t get out and your mood is affected, light therapy can help a lot.  Often, your insurance can cover costs for such things, too.  Take it seriously if you do have SAD and seek help.  Mental health is not a joke nor something to be embarrassed, shamed about or shoved under the rug.

radishes

What’s helped so much too is shifting perspective, this year I consciously decided that I would make a point of finding, seeing, searching for the beauty in things.  Even though winter is not my favorite season as a summer baby through and through, I started noticing things.  The beauty of the tonal grays and browns in the landscapes.  The way you can see all the kinks and gnarls and stories in the skeletons of the trees, it feels intimate, like peering into someones purse.  Noting and drawing parallels between the themes of death, introspection, hibernation, rest, and applying them into my life- it’s the perfect time to slow down and reevaluate now so when rebirth comes in spring, things are fresh, stripped down and not weighed down by staleness.

market zero waste

California is gorgeous, always, and even though the landscapes may be less colorful than normal, the market sure isn’t.  This weekend, we were supposed to hike with friends and it ended up with a storm ruining our plans, washing them down the drain so to speak, and I was in a pretty bad mood about it.  I had been really looking forward to getting out, its a tradition we keep every year on the superbowl, my silent rebellion against something I’ve always detested.  After I pouted a good part of the morning, we headed to the market in a nearby town and my mood was lifted.  Something about food, markets, that connection to such a primal pleasure, always makes me feel good.  A rainbow surrounded me- carrots in every color, all kinds of potatoes, sunchokes, greens of all shapes sizes and textures, saturated colors of citrus galore, really a huge abundance, with the rain coating everything and making it glitter and glisten.  I came home with the mood lifted and things to cook, the fridge full and a certain satisfaction that comes from having good things to eat.

carrots

I had picked up a lot of root vegetables, fitting for the season, jeweled beauties living underneath the dirt, ready to be pulled when you are.  Turnips, multicolored carrots and radishes, sweet parsnips, sunchokes.  I decided to cook them in a creamy sort of sauce, like a gravy I guess almost, along with white wine, thyme, pepper.  With a pile of mashed potatoes or some good crusty bread on the side and a nice green salad, perhaps a glass of wine, you’ve got a nice full meal.  I thought I’d share the recipe here- I’ve been testing and cooking so much for the ebook that I haven’t been sharing much here.

Right.  So lets cook: turn some good music on (my favorite cooking playlist is HERE), pour a glass of wine, cut up the veggies and sear them in a nice wide skillet.  You’re going to reduce some of your wine with them, add in the flour, add the broth, and let it simmer to cook through, adding more water or broth as needed.  Then add in the beans to warm through, and serve.  Easy.  Enjoy and stay warm.  xx

root vegetable stew

root vegetable stew 

serves 4 

This is a lovely and creamy way to serve humble root vegetables.  It can also be turned out into a gratin dish, sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and run under the broiler till the top is toasty.  Serve with a simple salad and some mashed potatoes or bread for a light dinner.

1 shallot, sliced
4 carrots
3 medium turnips
2 parsnips
8 small radishes (1 bunch)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, diced fine
3/4 cup white wine, like sauvignon blanc
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 cups broth, plus more as needed
1 cup cooked giant white beans or 1/2 cup cooked chestnuts
salt + pepper
to serve: a few tbsp chopped fresh parsley 

Peel the carrots and parsnips and slice lengthwise.  Halve the radishes and quarter the turnips.  

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven, and sear the vegetables in batches, with salt and pepper, so they get browned and golden on the bottoms.  Remove from pot and set aside.  In the same pot (don’t wash it out!), heat the onion and sauté until translucent and a bit browned, about 10 minutes.  

Return the vegetables to the pot and add the wine, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated.  Sprinkle over the flour and thyme, and stir very well to combine, cooking about 1 minute.  Pour in the broth and stir well, scraping up any stuck bits from the pot, reduce heat to low.  

Let simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened.  If the veggies aren’t tender but the sauce is thick, add a few splashes more water, stir, and recover, cooking until they are tender.  Add the beans and stir well to combine.  

Taste and add salt as needed, then divide between plates, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.

 

yay for earth challenge III links + schedule

winter minestrone parsley pesto vegan

All the links for the Yay for Earth Challenge III in one place.

Links to the FIRST CHALLENGE and the SECOND CHALLENGE.

Link to the GROCERY LIST for this time around.

Links to the recipes, in the order they’re in (recipes serve approx 4):

MONDAY 1/14:  caesar salad with parm

TUESDAY 1/15:  walnut bolognese

WEDNESDAY 1/16:  quinoa, kale, roasted cauliflower bowl

THURSDAY 1/17:  winter minestrone with parsley pesto

FRIDAY 1/18:  roasted broccoli pasta with white beans and lemon

MUESLI anytime (optional)

VEGAN PARM recipe used for 3 of the dinners

 

 

roasted broccoli + parm pasta

pasta broccoli kale Chile

An easy, quick and comforting winter pasta with plenty of green to balance it out.  You can use any green or cauliflower or squash etc instead of the broccoli.  If you don’t want to use the oven, you can throw in the broccoli with the pasta during the last 3-5 minutes of cooking.  In the picture I used kale instead of broccoli- but you get the point, you can really adapt it to any veggie.  Just don’t leave out the parm.

2 large heads broccoli/2 bunches broccoli rabe or broccolini
dried pasta, I used 12 ounces for 4 servings
olive oil- enough to coat the broccoli + 4 tablespoons extra virgin for the rest
4+ cloves garlic
1.5 cups/1 can cannellini or great northern beans
1 lemon, skin zested finely + set aside, lemon cut into quarters
crumbly parm (or 1/2 cup well-toasted walnuts, chopped)
red chili flakes

Preheat oven to 425F.  Meanwhile, start a pot of generously salted water boiling for the pasta, and cut up the broccoli (peel the stem if tough, but use the stem + florets) into bite size pieces (if using broccolini or broccoli rabe, use it whole, trimming any tough ends).  Toss with oil and generous sprinkling of salt and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet, roasting until tender and crispy at the edges, from 15-25 minutes depending on how large the pieces are.  Keep an eye on the to prevent burning- turn pieces over if needed.

When the water boils, add the pasta and set a timer for the corresponding cooking time.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, add the garlic with 3 tablespoons olive oil and set over a medium heat, watching closely as the garlic starts to cook and removing immediately with tongs or a fork when it turns a pale gold (careful not to go over or it will taste bitter/acrid).  Set garlic chips aside on a small plate and in the same pan with residual oil, add the beans and a pinch of salt and stir to heat through.  Your pasta should be done by now- if not, just set the beans aside off-heat until the pasta is ready.  Scoop a bit of the starchy pasta cooking water out of the pot and then drain the pasta.

Into the pan with the beans, add the drained pasta and 1 tbsp more olive oil, toss well to combine, adding a splash or two cooking water if needed to moisten.  Remove from heat and add the lemon zest and a big pinch of salt.  Divide between bowls, adding the garlic chips on top and liberally sprinkling over the vegan parm or walnuts and serving each bowl with a wedge of lemon and plenty of chili flakes.

 

 

quinoa, kale + roasted cauliflower salad

This is a delicious and pretty easy dinner bowl that comes together relatively quickly and has lots of textures and greens.  Feel free to use a large crushed garlic clove instead of the shallot for the dressing, and any other toasted nut/seed instead of the almonds.

1 head cauliflower
1 cup quinoa
1.5 cups water
1 large bunch tuscan kale, sliced thinly into strips
1 large lemon, finely zested, then juiced- if yours is small or not juicy you may need to add some vinegar to the dressing to make up for that
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
2 tsp maple syrup or honey
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped

Preheat oven to 425F.  Cut up the cauliflower- I like to break into florets and then just cut in half, the flat sides make for better caramelization I find.  Toss with oil to coat and a generous sprinkle of salt, then transfer to a baking sheet and arrange in an even layer, any flat cut sides face down against the pan.  Roast for 15-25 minutes (will depend on how small/large you cut them and how tightly packed your cauliflower was- just keep an eye on it) until tender and browned.

While cauliflower is cooking, start the quinoa- in a pan with a lid, combine rinsed quinoa
+ water and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce to low and let cook for 10-15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.  Once it is done, add the kale on top and replace the lid another 1-2 minutes off heat to let the kale wilt.  Remove lid, stir through gently, and set aside.

Whisk together the lemon juice/zest, olive oil, shallot, maple/honey, and parsley in a large bowl.  Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.  When the cauliflower is finished, toss everything together in the bowl with the dressing and then scatter the toasted almonds on top and serve.