Vegetarian baked beans

Vegetarian baked beans in a crock
Sweet, bacon-y baked beans. Would you believe they started with Jews? Well, they did. Connecting such seemingly disparate things as Judaism and pork-infused legumes usually takes a story. I recently wrote that story–with a recipe–for My Jewish Learning. Take a look at Vegetarian Baked Beans.

Photo by the author.

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Jewish goat cheese

From December 9 to 12, I attended the Hazon Food Conference – East Coast at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut. Here is a piece I wrote for The Jew and the Carrot about one “culturally” enlightening session. Photo by moi.

Goat feta

Can Cheese Be Jewish?

“Goats are the Jews of the animal kingdom,” Aitan Mizrahi told a group at the Hazon Food Conference on Friday morning. The workshop participants, gathered in the warm, cream-scented air of a small industrial kitchen at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, immediately picked up on the tongue-in-cheek theme: They wander, they are intelligent, and they are stiff-necked, they said. And, Mizrahi pointed out, “They enjoy to be in a minyan and they also enjoy to go off on their own and shmooze.”

So the gentle and friendly milk-producers make a perfect fit for Freedman, an eco-conscious retreat space in the Berkshires.

Read more on The Jew and the Carrot.

Is it Thanksgiving yet? How about now??

Picture this: You’re a kid again. The unexpected is scary, and you await the expected with baited breath. The more you plan that future trip or visit or birthday party, the more exciting it becomes.

That’s a little how I’ve felt as my family members planned out Thanksgiving menu. We have agreed on a wholesome meal, I think, with all sorts of stuff we can buy at the farmers market. (Wee! The farmers market!)

I thought I would share a little of that fun with the blogosphere. Here is what we plan to cook and eat.

For your added enjoyment, this menu is laced with a link scavenger hunt and even a recipe built in. All that’s left is the anticipation.

Snacking before the meal

Smoky black bean dip
Walnuts and raisins

First course

Squash soup

Salad with nuts, seeds, and all manner of veggie goodness Continue reading

Hanukkah in June

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June lies precisely at the midpoint of the year between Hanukkahs (Hanukkim?)  This fact, paired with the realization that the first publication rights to a few of my recipes has expired, got me thinking about oil. Coconut oil, to be specific.

Coconut oil figured into all of my baking experimentation for my “Cupcakes for Hanukkah” article on My Jewish Learning last December. (Including the recipe that served as a base for deep-fried cupcakes. Yum!)

More about coconut oil and a recipe after the jump. Continue reading

Passion

Mid-way through this 21-day cleanse, I was thinking a lot about human passion. Most animals have strong desires to eat, sleep, procreate, and recreate. Humans want to do that, too. But we want to be able to do all of those things while suspended 100 stories above the ground, after driving on enormous loops of concrete or possibly careening through the air in several tons of metal. Oh, and when we arrive and get down to addressing our basic needs, we want to have strains of Chopin glittering in the background, and room service with a sprig of parsley.

We want to build onto, break apart, dig into, and make over the world. We see what is there and think we could have something a whole lot better. Then we make that something. That’s what makes us human. Continue reading

Super Bowl snacks go all the way to the farmers market

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Potato wedges. Photo: Creative Commons/fotoosvanrobin

Though neither Super Bowl contender hails from the East Coast area that you likely inhabit, dear reader, your game day spread can still come from local sources. Why not? Local food supports the economy of your home town (or adopted city), and offers healthier options. And with year-round farmers markets in full swing, it’s easy to find ingredients for locally-sourced snacks.

To add local tang to your table, compliment tortilla chips with salsas from Toigo Orchards (just be sure to warn guests that the medium-hot chipotle is addictive). Or make a veggie platter with kohlrabi, radishes, carrots, and raw turnips from area farms. For a refined Super Bowl soiree, spread Firefly Farms goat cheese on slices of Atwater’s sourdough.

As for recipes, guacamole is out. This year, everyone from Melissa Clark of the New York Times to Bobby Flay in Parade is sharing their perfect version of bleu cheese dip. Why not try it for yourself, and make yours local? Whether it’s for vegetables, chips, or wings, Keswick Creamery’s Blue Suede Moo and Firefly Farms’ Mountain Top Bleu are at your service. The recipe below pairs a bleu cheese dip with hearty wedges of potato. That fall crop still arrives fresh at farmers markets through the winter, thanks to farmers’ root cellars. (Recipe after the jump). Continue reading

Retro recipe: Co-op injera

On my trip back from the West Coast, I finally got around to reading the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association alumni newsletter. What a joy! All the characters and the nutty news you’d expect from student-run living and dining appeared on those pages: A current Obie fresh from a national co-op conference related the perils of dating in the Twin Oaks intentional community, while a past president recalled the OSCA of the early ’80s and how he got the office moved from a tiny garret to a proper room in the student union building and launched a filing system. A recent president announced that the lactofermentation revolution had hit the co-ops.

Of course, the supporters of this fermentation trend follow radical OSCA fashion, and some of the Yogurt Makers now walk the line between dedication and health code violation by sleeping with their cultured milk. Hey–you’ve got to keep the stuff at a constant 100 degrees if you want it to be good.

In honor of OSCA, I reach back now to my Head Cook days and give you a (fermented) recipe. I think I included this in a cookbook back in the day, when I took a semester off from supervising lunch for 70 to become the Harkness dining co-op’s “nutritionist.” This is written to serve a whole co-op, but I’ve scaled down the quantities so you can make it at home. Continue reading

Thanksgiving recipes for the last minute: Tofu turkey and pumpkin cookies

stuffed tofu - whole

Days or weeks can go into planning a Thanksgiving menu. Yet something always comes up at the last minute. Need to satisfy a visiting vegetarian? Forgot a dessert?  Here are two ideas to help.

1. For the vegetarian or other adventurous eaters at your table, try. Un-Turkey and Stuffing. This is my own adaptation of a recipe I found years ago and have been making ever since. Note that “NYF” is nutritional yeast flakes, available at health food stores.

2. Need another dessert? Try these Pumpkin Cookies. These have always been a hit, and the main ingredients are easy to substitute with whatever you have. Try replacing some or all of the raisins with currents or dried cranberries. These work great with butternut or acorn squash instead of the pumpkin.

Happy cooking, and happy Thanksgiving!

Taming raw ingredients: Roasted tomatoes and a (pastured) chicken in every pot

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A tomato ripe for roasting. Photo by the author.

(Cross-posted from my Examiner.com page on D.C. farmers markets)

Cucumbers by the quart. Fifteen-pound watermelons. Hunks of farmstead cheese. Entire organic chickens. Smiling at you from a farmer’s table, they look delicious. Plunked down on the kitchen counter, they get a little more complicated. Turning them into good-for-you meals is the next step, and that task sounds mighty intimidating.

It’s a familiar feeling, though. Life is full of major chunks you have to deal with, and trying to take shortcuts isn’t the best solution. Taking the time to break down a major challenge like moving to a new city or asking for a promotion can be invigorating and ultimately lead to better circumstances. So it is with food.

“If you live a really fast-paced life, which most of us do, you’re usually grabbing and going,” says Monica Corrado of Simply Being Well, a Takoma Park-based holistic nutrition counselor who teaches holistic cooking classes in the D.C. metro area. “With a little preparation, you can grab and go with nutrient-dense meals.” Continue reading