Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

October 1st - Meatless Monday - World Vegetarian Day

Dear Folks,

If the meat eaters in your family think vegetarian means sticks and twigs, have I got some nice recipes for you.

The North American Vegetarian Society wants people to think about the ideas behind the preference, and you can find out more at the wiki link below.  But there are some very excellent ideas behind having meatless days which do not mean you have to embrace the whole concept.


On this blog I frequently post recipes - many with a vegetarian or vegan basis.

I hope you enjoy some or all of them.  Let me know what you think too!

First up is my more authentic recipe for chili beans - no tomatoes!

Next up is my savory oatmeal side dish with pumpkin.  I think this would go great with the chili recipe.  I developed it to highlight that oatmeal is not just for breakfast - it is a great option to rice, pasta or potatoes for lunch or dinner.  The nice thing about it is - left overs!  You can make them into patties, refrigerate and use the next morning for breakfast, browned and warmed in a frying pan.

And speaking of pumpkin - my fabulous stuffed pumpkin.  I developed it for Thanksgiving but it is great any time you have a suitable pumpkin.

A meal needs a little dessert, doesn't it?

How about a good for you candy?  This is a great holiday treat too, mixes up fast and you can swap out the best dried berries and cereal preferences.  Make sure you use an EXCELLENT chocolate.  This Ghiradelli does have milk in it.  We prefer this 60% cocoa - you can use a higher percentage, it will be less sweet.

Consider making Mondays Meatless - and make it family night too!

Have a great day.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Monday, September 24, 2012

Recipes -- Carrion On The Grill - Bye Bye Buzzards at the BTA

Dear Folks,

Here are the recipes for the sampling I did Saturday at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum for the annual fall send off to the Turkey Vultures who reside there during the summer.

I just had to use this photo, taken by Deane at Canyon Lake in 2007 - perfect don't you think?  You can almost imagine them saying - "I will take mine raw."

For my vegan and vegetarian friends and fans, the basic chili is vegan and vegetarian friendly.  The cornbread has dairy in it.

Bye Bye Buzzards Day at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum
September 22, 2012

Where possible I try to use organic or naturally grown foods, including herbs from my gardens.  Remember when using fresh where dry is listed, you need 3 times the amount of fresh to dry.

Chili Con Frijoles – Two Ways – with and without meat
This recipe is inspired by the traditional use of chili powder to create a sauce (chilies and peppers are a New World fruit originating in the Americas).  There are NO tomatoes* or tomato products (tomatoes originated in South America) in this recipe – it is all about the herbs and spices.  Also I created this recipe to be “off the shelf” easily using canned beans.  Swap out the bean varieties to suit you and your family.  I add Edamame (green soy beans) for their nutty flavor and higher protein content.

*I love tomatoes and tomato sauces.  However I think that people rely too much on tomato products as a condiment, like salt and pepper, which masks the wonderful taste of foods that can be enhanced by herbs and spices.  Using herbs and spices first before adding salt, pepper or tomato products you will learn the food has real flavor hidden by the SPTs.  Looking at so many recipes for stews, chili and sauces and you would think the only thing you need to make it taste palatable is tomato-something.  Give the herbs and spices a chance to really show off the flavor of the basic food :-)

“No Kill” Chili
Vegan and vegetarian friendly.  (In yesterday’s food sampling I doubled the basic recipe adding 1 can of Cannellini beans, including the liquid, and used 2 cups of edamame - not 4 but you can add more or less beans and liquid to suit your preferences.)  The refried beans give the thickness to the chili.  All herbs and spice measurements are listed for dry.  Triple the amount if using fresh.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon Epazote (divided)
2 tablespoons mild chili powder (yesterday’s had a zip to it because I could not find the mild)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 can (15 oz) black beans w/liquid
1 can (16 oz) vegetarian refried beans
2 cups frozen green soybeans (shelled)
Optional: Topping using favorite Corn Bread Recipe.

Heat oil in heavy pan, add onion and garlic and stir for 1 minute, add all spices, and only half of Epazote and 1/2 cup water. Continuing stirring until all are well mixed, add other 1/2 cup water, refried beans and black beans (including bean liquid). Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add soy beans and continuing cooking for additional 15 minutes adding reserved Epazote in the last 10 minutes.

Optional topping. Set oven to 400 degrees and have ready a medium casserole pan. Mix corn bread batter according to your recipe and set aside. After adding soy beans to chili cook for 5 minutes. Add epazote, stir and pour beans into casserole. Gently pour corn bread batter over beans. Bake for 20 minutes approximately, until bread is golden brown.  IMPORTANT: The chili should be hot from the stove to make the cornbread cook faster.  If you start with cold chili you may need to add 50% more cooking time +/- so keep an eye on it.

Chili recipes are all about options: Add any of the following to the top of the beans before serving or before adding the batter: shredded cheese, chopped fresh onions, chopped fresh cilantro, green chilies or jalapenos if you want heat, chopped celery (I like the crunch).

Carrion Con Carne (I should have called this Carrion Con Frijoles - my Spanish is terrible - I apologize).

To the basic bean chili recipe, I grilled up top round boneless thin steaks that I rubbed with a bit of olive oil and some of the oregano and cumin, cut into small pieces and added to the chili.

True Grit Cornbread
I am not a fan of dry cornbread.  I like it moist and slightly sweet.  The ‘grit’ in the recipe title refers to my swapping out half of the cornmeal called for with corn grits/polenta.

3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup corn grits / polenta
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white sugar (I use organic)
1/3 cup honey**
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used avocado oil this time but any good quality oil including olive works nicely)
4 ozs. shredded whiter cheddar

**Tip: use the oil measuring cup to measure the honey and it will all slide out easily into the mixing bowl

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 cake pan.

Mix the cornmeal and grits with the milk, stir and let sit for 5 minutes while you measure the other ingredients out.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In the cornmeal mixture, beat in eggs, oil, and honey, stir in cheese, add flour mix and whisk until batter is smooth.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean. (Mine was done at 32 minutes.)

Something Weedy This Way Comes Salad

Organic Baby Spring Greens (5 oz package is about a gallon of greens, fluffed)
about 1 cup of mixed fresh herbs, chopped:
Lemon Verbena
French Tarragon
Mexican Tarragon
Horseradish Leaf
Za-tar (Middle Eastern Oregano)
Basil, sweet and dark opal

I made a simple dressing of 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 6 tablespoons of olive oil and a scant ½ teaspoon of salt.

. . .

Gardening - get your garlic ready to plant October 1st, but no later than November 1st for your own head garlic harvesting in April.  Easy to grow, good for you and makes all food taste better :-)

Have a great week, and be kind to yourselves and others,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady