Thursday, June 28, 2012

Time to Travel and Vegetarian Curry

Next week we will be leaving for a month long trip to Germany (4 days) and South Africa (3 1/2 weeks).  On Monday I take my national board examination, and on Tuesday we fly.  We love to travel, and are thrilled to be embarking on our fifth international trip together.  In addition, this is our third (annual) trip with our dear friends Matt and Mackenzie.  We have successfully stayed true to our goal of going out of the country at least one time per year for the past four years, and hope to continue this tradition for many years to come.

Along with leaving the country comes an obligation to clean out the fridge.  For me, this is fairly easy since my refrigerator is only 3 feet tall.  Last night I pulled out all the veggies that needed attention, some leftover chickpeas, and made a vegetarian curry.  You could easily make this vegan if you left out the butter at the beginning.  This recipe is perfect for whatever vegetables you have on hand.

Vegetarian Coconut Curry
  • 2 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil 
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder, salt free 
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped 
  • 1 carrot, halved lengthwise then cut into 1 inch long sections 
  • 5 small red potatoes, cut into 8 pieces each 
  • 1 cup canned or pre-soaked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) 
  • 1 block firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes 
  • 1 15 oz can coconut milk 
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (or water) 
  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets 
  • 1 green pepper, 1 inch dice 
  • Salt to taste 
  1. Heat butter and oil in large pot or dutch over over medium low. Add curry powder and stir to form an aromatic paste. Stir in curry paste, coriander and red pepper and heat for about 1 minute more. 
  2. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and celery, cook 1 minute. 
  3. Stir in potatoes, chickpeas and tofu and reduce heat to lowest setting. Cook entire mixture for 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend 
  4. Add coconut milk and stock and allow to come to a simmer. 
  5. Cover and cook 20 minutes until the potatoes begin to soften. 
  6. Add the broccoli and pepper and recover for 5 more minutes, or until broccoli is softened. 
  7. Salt to taste and serve over rice or flat bread.
Our past adventures in a few photos:

2009: Portugal
2009: Spain
2009: Greece
2010: Peru
2010: Bolivia (summit of 19,975 Huyana Potosi)
2010: Bolivia (view from summit)
2010: Costa Rica
2011: Turkey

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Links: Gardening in Small Spaces

Our freshly planted garden
Tuesday morning we donned hats and shovels and planted our seedlings in the vegetable garden. You might think it sounds late, but gardening at high altitude requires waiting for the frost to pass and then planting short season veggies. This is my first real garden of my own, besides the herbs I grow indoors. These links show some amazing ideas for small space gardening that I wish I would have tried in my apartment days. Get your hands dirty this weekend!
Perfect for a patio: wine Crates for a mobile and edible container garden.
Hang it on a door: vertical vegetable garden, in a shoe holder.
Stack a garden: urban veggie box.
If you have a small yard: make a raised bed.
On the balcony: create a potted vegetable garden.
Pepper shoots
Tomatoes, basil and peppers started inside

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Experimenting in Raw: Vegan Tacos and Gazpacho

We just spent a rainy/cloudy week in Seattle where we celebrated graduates, spent time with family, and went backpacking (photos below). We were intending to climb Mt. Baker, but the new snow created a high avalanche danger and the weather forecast was poor. Instead we headed to Leavenworth and hiked 10 miles up the Chiwakum Creek Trail. We awoke to blue skies and a chilly morning. After a quick realization that climbing any of the nearby peaks was not an option, we hiked out and headed to fake Bavaria for lunch.

We returned on Sunday to a heat wave in Aspen (not nearly as bad as Denver, but still hot).  Yesterday at 5 pm our downstairs was 82 degrees (it was probably 10 degrees warmer upstairs).  I made a swift decision to not turn on the stove.  Instead I tried a raw menu from Roost, one of my favorite food blogs, that has been enticing me for a few weeks.  I find the raw food movement to be inspiring and interesting.  While I love cooking too much to take it on as a diet, I think experimenting with raw recipes provides a way to explore creativity, especially with vegan cooking.  The dinner was delicious.  The best part was the walnut taco filling, which tasted real.  I of course found myself dreaming about how great it would be with toasted walnuts, but that is the mind of a cook.  Here are the recipes I used.  All are from Roost except the pico de gallo which is my own.   I will make the walnut filling again and use it in vegan (cooked) tacos.

Raw Walnut Tacos
  • 2 cups walnuts 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder 
  • 2 ½ tablespoons coconut aminos (or Nama Shoyu) 
  • 1 head green cabbage 
  • Pico de gallo (recipe below) 
  • Mashed avocado (or prepared guacamole) 
  • Cashew sour cream (recipe below) 
  • 1 lime 
  • Handful of cilantro roughly chopped 
  1. Place walnuts, cumin, chili and coconut aminos in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles taco meat. 
  2. Peal off several cabbage leaves, and cut them in half depending on their size 
  3. Spoon walnut mixture, sour cream, avocado and pico de gallo onto leaf 
  4. Top with squeeze of lime juice and cilantro
Pico de Gallo
(makes 2 cups)
  • ½ jalapeno pepper 
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • Zest of 1 lime 
  • Juice of 1 lime 
  • 4 tomatoes 
  • ½ onion 
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves 
  1. Remove seeds and ribs from ½ of a medium jalapeno pepper and coarsely chop. 
  2. Combine jalapeno, garlic, lime juice and lime zest in food processor and process until finely chopped 
  3. Coarsely chop tomatoes and onion and add to mixture along with cilantro leaves 
  4. Pulse until tomatoes are approximately ¼ inch dice
Cashew Sour Cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews 
  • ½ cup water 
  • ¼ cup lemon juice 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth
Spiced Melon Gazpacho
  • 2 ½ cups fresh cantaloupe 
  • ½ avocado 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • Pinch of chili powder 
  • Cashew sour cream to garnish (recipe above)
  1. Combine all ingredients (except the cashew sour cream) in blender and blend until smooth
  2. Serve in small dishes garnished with cashew sour cream
And a few shots from Washington backpacking:

Greta the dog and me

Dad, me, Steve (Nor)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Quinoa Black Bean Salad for a Graduation Party

Congrats Chelsea Rose
It is official: my little sister Chelsea (Squirt) is a college graduate.  We are in Washington celebrating her graduation, going climbing this week, and playing with friends and family.  On Saturday, the night before her graduation, we had a big party to celebrate both of us graduating.  There were oysters, grilled chicken, pasta salad, sangria, and lots of other yummy eats. We got in late on Friday night, so I offered to contribute something easy.  This turned into 3 cakes (from Smitten Kitchen) and a quinoa salad.  Needless to say, I was very busy Saturday morning trying to finish before the intened start at 1 pm.  All went well, and we had a delightful time eating, drinking, singing and catching up. 

This recipe feeds a crowd, and is perfect for a potluck dish.  To make for a smaller group, I would cut it at least in half.  The flavors are best if made 1-2 hours ahead of time.  Saves for 2-3 days in the fridge.  Enjoy, and have a lovely week.

Quinoa Black Bean Salad
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans, soaked and cooked (or 1 (15 ounce) can drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook covered 15-20 minutes until all water has been absorbed.  Remove from heat and allow to sit 10 minutes covered.  Transfer to large baking sheet to cool (at least 20 minutes).
  2. Combine peppers, tomato, black beans, and cilantro in a large bowl.  Add cooled quinoa and stir to combine.
  3. In a small bowl combine lime juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika, coriander and chili powder.  Whisk to combine. 
  4. Pour dressing over salad and stir until evenly coated.
  5. Add salt and pepper as desired, be sure to taste first if using canned beans.
  6. Transfer to refrigerator and chill before serving.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Links: Summer Berries

Growing up a Northwest girl, I have a strong connection between summer and berries.  Beginning in June, we picked strawberries, then raspberries and logan berries, and finally blackberries and blueberries.  Early, middle and late summer was characterized by different varieties.  Now that I live in Colorado, there are virtually no local, fresh berries, and certainly none in my backyard.  However, I still long for summer berries, and I tend to go crazy when they are on sale (10 for $10 raspberries at the local market yesterday, I came home with 3 containers).  If you are so lucky to have berries nearby, rejoice.  Here are some tasty early summer strawberry recipes.  Happy weekend.

Aspen Highlands and Pyramid Peak from yesterday's ride
up to the top of Buttermilk
Fresh: Arugula Strawberry Salad
Traditional: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Gluten-Free: Browned Butter Strawberry Cake
Breakfast: Strawberries and Cream Biscuits
Liquid: Strawberry Basil Sangria

Monday, June 4, 2012

Celebration Tzatziki

Greek Dinner: Shrimp kebabs, flat bread,
sauteed chickpeas, tzatziki, salad and
wine of course
The past 3 weeks have been filled. literally.  I spent 2 weeks gallivanting around Denver and Aspen with my dear friends Megan and Katie.  We hiked, biked, sang, drank mojitos, got grumpy, made up, went to a few final classes, and most of all enjoyed precious time together.  Then one week ago, we graduated.  In caps, gowns, and hoods we became doctors.  The past week has been a celebration with family, and my wonderful mom just left Thursday.  The house feels empty, but peaceful.  As much as I want to enjoy lazy days planning my upcoming trip to Germany (4 days) and South Africa (3 1/2 weeks), I have a looming task of studying for my national boards.  That makes the celebration a little bittersweet. The last few weeks have also been filled with cooking: baked salmon, pasta salad, tacos, homemade pizza, and much more.  However, everything was a whirlwind, and I failed to take any photos.  This weekend I made two celebration dinners: roasted chicken and salad on Saturday, and a Greek spread yesterday.  I spent the weekend celebrating my love for cooking, my wonderful life in Aspen, my dear husband, and all of the love and celebration that has surrounded me for the past 3 weeks, and really the past 3 years.  Thank you to all of my dear friends and family.

Tzatziki is a Greek favorite.  While it is simple to make, good recipes seem to be lacking.  This recipe is based on one from Kalyn's Kitchen. Do not put the yogurt in the food processor, as the heat and the mechanical action will break down the protein and make runny tzatziki.  For a fun variation, substitute mint leaves for the dill.

Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
  • 1.5 cups Greek Yogurt (or regular plain yogurt, strained as described below)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1.5 T)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1 T salt for cucumber
  • 2 T coarsely chopped fresh dill (can substitute mint leaves for a slightly different version)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  1. If you don't have Greek yogurt: place a piece of cheese cloth over a fine mesh strainer and spoon in yogurt.  Allow the yogurt to drain 1-2 hours until thickened. 
  2. Peel cucumber, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.) 
  3. Slice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Rinse well and wipe dry with paper towel.
  4. In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. 
  5. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. 
  6. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.)
  7. This will keep for a few days or more in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.
Rushing in the wind.
Getting my hood.
My love and I.
Dear friends.
Sisters the weekend after graduation.