Friday, December 14, 2012

Soups: Updated (and snow)

Car Cleaning Post Snow
Last weekend we got a healthy dumping of snow (15 inches), and it looks like we are slated for another storm tonight.  I have been busily finishing the last of my shopping and non-edible homemade gifts.  Tomorrow I will start making some edible treats for Colorado friends before we head to Seattle for festivities including an adapted Italian Seven Fishes Christmas Dinner with my wonderful family.  More to come on that later.

Today's post is really just a quick update to let you know that I have recently made and updated the recipes for two of my favorite vegetarian soups and added pictures as well.  I wrote or adapted the recipes for Black Bean Soup and Quinoa Soup a couple years ago, but they remain a favorite staple.  Enjoy and Happy Christmas (season)!

Monty the Tree

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide 2012

We are taking a break from the regularly scheduled Friday Links to talk about gifts for your favorite chefs and foodie loved ones.  There are a few qualities that I think make a wonderful gift: thoughtfulness, utility, and creativity.  Give gifts that will become treasured pieces, and learn to understand what your friend or family member would want and use. Be thoughtful, not hasty, this Christmas.

The Handcrafted: Rustic Natural Edge Bread Boards from this one man Etsy shop are a unique but useful kitchen tool.

The Stocking Stuffer: the Microplane Grater/Zester is a perfect tool for new and seasoned cooks.  The sharp, well designed blades make easy work of citrus, ginger, and anything else.

The Delicate: these Peony Measuring Cups go far beyond the typical stainless set meshing utility with beauty.  They nest for easy storage, and are so pretty you will want to put them out on display.

The Splurge: the Staub Oval Coccette is a tool built to last a lifetime.  This cast iron twist on a traditional dutch oven is a true workhorse in the kitchen. The enamel makes a beautiful dish that is also non-stick, non-toxic, and easy to clean.  

The Cookbook: The Sprouted Kitchen, by star blogger Sara Forte has wonderful recipes focused on whole foods that nourish the body.  With beautiful photography and spot-on recipes, this gift will thrill cooks of all abilities.

Need more ideas?  Check out 2011's gift guide.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Healthy Treats: Raw Brownies

Praise Ullr (or whomever you attribute snowfall to), we woke up to a much needed coat of white this morning, and forecasts are calling for more in the near future.  Our sad slopes have been missing their white sheen, and friends and neighbors gathered last week to celebrate the full moon with a winter-wishing bonfire.  The lack of powder has kept me home-bound, dreaming up genius (I think) homemade holiday gifts.  I am almost done shopping, and in the midst of a few projects (which I might share next year if they succeed), which is a Christmas record for me.  

One thing I have not started yet is baking. While I love the abundance of butter and chocolate and sugar, and an excuse to eat it, sometimes I want sweets that are kinder to my waistline. If you are on the hunt for a lighter treat, a fairly healthy snack, or something that satisfies your vegan and gluten-free friends, these are a knockout.  They taste like a home-made Larabar, with sweetness from dates and coconut, protein from nuts, and a deep chocolate flavor from raw cacao.

Raw Brownies
barely adapted from My New Roots
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup raw cacao (if you are not worried about these being raw or the increased nutritional value, unsweetened cocoa powder is a fine substitute)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5-7 whole medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1. Process walnuts in food processor until finely chopped, add coconut and pulse a few more times until combined.
2. Add cacao and salt and pulse to combine.
3. While the processor is running, add the dates, one at a time, until the mixture begins to come together and can be pressed into the processor with your fingers.
4. Remove blade from food processor and loosely mix almonds in.
5. Press mixture into an 8x8 inch square baking dish lined with waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 30 minutes before cutting.