The FoodShed: Cooperative Transformation

foodshed

Published 4/2/2015 in The FOODshed Coop blog.

I admit I am something of a skeptic about the possibility of experiencing sudden (and lasting) transformation. That’s not to say I don’t believe in the possibility that we can be transformed.  I experience that and see it around me every day. These lasting transformations happen over time, though, through small steps.

In my experience, transformation in a person happens when, by choice or by accident, they are surrounded with a different reality. In the context of that different reality, a series of moment-by-moment experiences can reshape a person, transform them. When people are transformed through experiences in a different environment, their relationships are also transformed.

It works the other way around too. In a different structure, people relate to each other differently. When relationships are different, the people in them change as well. It is a reciprocal and dynamic arrangement: transforming individuals impact relationships, and transforming relationships impact individual experience.

An example of a path to transformation is in the idea of the Sabbath. Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel calls the Sabbath “a palace in time.” Specific activities are directed toward setting aside a regular space in the long continuum of time, a “palace.” Within that palace, certain actions serve to create an ideal world, a reality that is different from the every day reality that surrounds us.

A second century rabbi says that if two Jews observe the Sabbath in all its details twice in a row, the Messiah will come. Just two people can transform the world! How?

If two people participate with whole hearts in a reality that is different from the one in which they live every day, each individual will have taken a large step in the journey toward transformation. Their relationship will begin its own journey toward being transformed and transforming. Who knows where that might lead as others see and are inspired by this process?

I have now seen Food for Change three times and recommend it enthusiastically to anyone who hasn’t seen it. One of the things that struck me as I watched it were the transformative possibilities in the cooperative movement.

A cooperative, like the Sabbath, is a structure that is different from the one in which we live every day. In the framework of that structure, people have the possibility for transformation as do their relationships. As people see and experience how this works, more will be drawn into the “palace,” allowing themselves to be shaped and to develop a different understanding of how they can relate to their world.

Something I learned from Food for Change was how the cooperative movement began to alleviate the effects of the depression. The cooperative movement was composed of many cooperatives, a different philosophical, social and economic structure than what existed at the time in the United States.

The path out of the depression via the cooperative movement was slow but steady. Sadly, we will never know the end of that story of possibility because its progress was interrupted by a world war that catapulted the United States out of the depression.  The war was a sudden change that produced welcome results for many in the economy and led the way to a period of unparalleled prosperity. The early cooperative movement declined.

Remember what I said about being skeptical of sudden transformations and the possibility of them lasting?

Despite all the supposed safeguards that were put in place after the Great Depression and despite all the claims that it could never happen again, it pretty much did happen again in our time. We scramble around looking for another quick fix. Is that what we really need?

Rich and poor are further apart than ever in our current structure. Neighbors often don’t even know their neighbors much less help them or work with them toward their mutual benefit. Our food supply has been corrupted and poisoned, and the poor, as always, suffer from the effects of a broken system more than the wealthy. Some say our democracy no longer exists.  Will a quick fix help this situation, or do we need to look more deeply at the structure of how we live and conduct our relationships?

So I wonder: what might have happened had the cooperative movement of the early 1900s continued its slow, step by step growth? If the cooperative movement, with its different philosophy and different social and economic structure, had continued to play its role in slowly bringing the country out of economic depression? Where would we be today? What would we look like?

In Woodstock, we are fortunate. It seems the time is right to try out another cooperative vision. In the course of building our cooperative, we will have an opportunity to create a structure that is different from the one in which most of us live now. Building this cooperative unit gives us an opportunity to transform ourselves and our relationships. We will be able to create a structure that provides opportunities for relationships among those at each juncture of the food chain to begin a process of transformation.

The FoodShed cooperative we are building might be just a small corner of our world right now, but our success will lead to other efforts.

Two people whole-heartedly creating a world. That’s all that is required for transformation to begin! We already have so many more than two people working hard to build our new reality.

If you’re not already active in this wonderful effort, isn’t it time for you to join us as slowly, step by step, we create the lasting structure of a better future?

My first vegan seder

passover

Since I moved away from the city twelve years ago, I haven’t had a seder in my own home. That has been a function of scheduling issues as much as geographic issues. I went to work outside my home in a community at some distance, and that’s where my friends are as well. I am no longer in a walking (Jewish) neighborhood, where foods, friends and synagogues are in easy reach. Having people in my home was a hardship in a number of ways, for them and for me, so I went to them or enjoyed a seder in the synagogue.

This year my work life changed again, and I am able to spend more time at home. I am fortunate that my son, his wife and my grandson live next door and that I share my home with two other people — that makes a total of six people including me — enough for a seder “in the ‘hood!” Special Passover foods still aren’t part of the nearby shopping environment. Since my occupation was running a cafe, though, I think I can probably manage to put together a creditable Passover meal.

I was excited about the possibilities of returning the seder to my home, but there’s a dilemma. For many years I was the only vegetarian in my family. Now I’m taking steps toward becoming vegan.  As my son said to me, eating vegetarian when he comes here has been a bit of a stretch for him (and has been for twenty years!)…but vegan?!

So what shall I do? As the sole vegetarian I have often taken the path of least resistance. I go to family members’ homes for holidays because it’s easy for me to find things to eat as a vegetarian. It appears it’s not so easy for them to do without meat or chicken as they would have to do in my home.

Now I’m taking next steps. I’m eager to be in my own home for a family holiday again. I’m also eager to experiment with my special foods for a holiday. The festival is, after all, very much centered on food. The seder is all about sharing our history and our deepest beliefs through food. We communicate via food, celebrate via food and just plain…enjoy all these special foods.

It has been many years since I have had meat or chicken or fish at a seder — but one of my favorite parts is the egg, symbol of spring, rebirth and fertility. Practically speaking, that egg is the one thing I could depend on being able to eat at others’ seders in lieu of an entree.

And what about those wonderful fluffy matzah balls?  And the sponge cakes? How on earth will I make a seder for my family that feels like a seder for them (and for me) that doesn’t contain any animal products at all, including eggs?

On the other hand, how can I celebrate the Festival of Freedom knowing of the abuses that occur at all levels of the food chain? How can I enjoy this special freedom-meal knowing that I am eating the food of afflictions that continue, both for humans and for animals, in order to bring this food to me?

So first I thought, well, I’ll get eggs from a local farmer whose practices I know. I’ll make the seder vegan except for the eggs. That way I can honor some of our most well-loved traditions: eating a hard-boiled egg, enjoying matzah ball soup before the main part of the meal and sponge cake after it.

Then I thought, what better time to think about and discuss the important reasons for considering the value of veganism in today’s world? To use foods in the seder that raise questions, just as foods have been used through the centuries to raise the four questions? And so I decided to take the step of planning a vegan seder and inviting my family to it.

Here is my menu for the evening. I’ll share recipes after the seder in time for next year!

  • Seder Plate – replace lamb shank with roasted beet (I have already done this for many years as a vegetarian) and roasted egg with sprouts and grapes. Grapes are a Chinese symbol of fertility. Sprouts are a Persian symbol of rebirth. I wish I had thought of this before so I could have grown my own sprouts in time! I’ll use a small pot of hyacinths as the centerpiece. They are a Persian symbol of spring.
  • Korech/Hillel Sandwich – At first I thought I would like to use fresh pomegranate in place of the egg with the Hillel sandwich “course”. Like eggs, they are a symbol of fertility and resonate deeply with Jewish symbolism and practice. Unfortunately pomegranate season ends in February. Grapes and sprouts will work nicely tho.
  • Matzah Ball Soup – I already make a delicious vegan broth with a sephardic style sofrit. I’ll try my hand at vegan matzah balls. Time to experiment anyway since my beloved Streit’s Matzah Meal may not be available much longer.  I’m going to make the matzah balls on Wednesday in case they fail. Then I’ll still have time to make Potato & Leek Soup instead of Matzah Ball Soup.
  • Salad Course – that’s an easy one! I have a long list of delicious salads, many of which are published in this blog, and all except those with kitniyot (legumes) are appropriate for Passover.  Well, Tabouleh is also out because of the cracked wheat, but I’m going to make mine with quinoa this time.
  • Main Course – Carrot Tzimmes (can’t beat that for tradition), Quinoa Stuffed Mini-Peppers with a zesty (fresh) tomato/pepper sauce, Roasted Potatoes and Sauteed Balsamic Brussels Sprouts or Asparagus. Who knows? I may even make a first attempt at vegan cheese, in which case those peppers will be Peppers Parmesano.
  • Dessert – Chocolate Toffee Matzah Crunch and Dried Fruit Treats (I stuff dates with an apricot-walnut mix; some are rolled in coconut; some are just the apricot-walnut mix rolled into balls, then rolled in chocolate).

And that’s it! I’ll get back to you on this after Pesach to let you know how it went. In the meantime, Happy Passover, Chag Kasher v’Sameach!

Falafel

I love Falafel with all its fixings — for me, that means the Falafel itself, good whole wheat Pita (I prefer Lebanese style Pita), creamy Hummus, Jerusalem/Israeli Salad, Tahina and good hot sauce, which for me is either Z’hug or Harif. What an amazing combination of flavors and textures!

FALAFEL MIX
(Makes 1.5 Pints – or 27 3/4 oz. balls or patties)

Ingredients

  • Fava beans – dried, split, peeled – about 1-1/2 cups or half a one-pound bag. You will need 3-1/2 cups after the beans have been soaked overnight & drained. If these fava beans are not available, dried chickpeas will work.
  • Garlic, 2 cloves or 1 tsp.
  • Onion, 1/2 large Spanish onion
  • Parsley, 3 oz.
  • Salt, 1 tsp.
  • Cumin, 1 tsp.
  • Allspice, 1 tsp.
  • Szeged hot paprika, 1 tsp.

Directions

  1. Wash parsley, then wrap in white cloth towel to dry.
  2. Drain pre-soaked fava beans (or chickpeas) thoroughly.
  3. Place cut-up parsley and onion in the processor bowl. Add garlic and seasonings.
  4. Turn processor on for 30 seconds, then scrape down. Process another 30 seconds and scrape down again.
  5. Add 3-1/2 cups soaked, drained beans.
  6. Pulse 10 times, then scrape down. Repeat this step 3 times (for a total of 30 pulses).
  7. Process for 30 seconds-1 minute, then stop and push mix toward the middle.
  8. Process until mixture looks uniformly processed into coarse meal.

To make the Falafel, shape into balls. A candy scoop helps this process. Drop into deep oil pre-heated to 375 degrees, and fry until done, about 3 minutes. I like my Falafel with a lot of green, which may make make them turn darker when they fry.

What’s the Beef?

cauldron

The following is part of an article that appeared in a local publication a couple of years ago:

In early August 2013, scientists held a taste-testing for burgers made from laboratory grown meat. This report came out just about a year and a half after the “pink slime” report of March 2012.

For anyone who missed that story, pink slime is filler that was found to be present in 70 percent of the ground beef sold in supermarkets and at the time constituted about 25 percent of every hamburger.  It is gelatinous material made from the most contaminated parts of the cow formerly used only for dog food and cooking oil.  To make it USDA approved “safe” for human consumption, trimmings are simmered at a low temperature, fat separated from tissue by centrifuge and the result sprayed with ammonia gases to kill germs.  Safe and delicious.  Really?

Now we have burgers created by extracting stem cells from the muscle tissue of a dead cow, nourishing them in a chemical broth and engineering them to produce something like muscle tissue. Strands of tissue are compacted into pellets and frozen, then defrosted for cooking.  The artificial meat starts out white, so dyes are added to make it look more like the real thing.  And there we have it . . . tissue created in a laboratory from a dead cow’s stem cells bathed in chemicals and dyed to the appropriate color.  Safe and potentially delicious when they get the chemicals right.  Really?

The arguments in favor of this “magic meat” are that it requires killing fewer animals, is more sustainable and vastly more environmentally friendly.  I get it.  But there are other paths to the same goal.  For me, at least, those paths are healthier, tastier and more spiritually satisfying.

Speaking of “magic meat,” I was curious if the concoction would be considered kosher.  The Jewish dietary laws are centered primarily around meat, fish, poultry . . . and insects, in other words, living creatures.  I understand this body of laws as an expression of reverence for life.

I did a little research and found that while there is as yet no definitive ruling on this question, there is an interesting Talmudic discussion about the status of “magic meat,” meat that descends from heaven or is miraculously created by human beings.  The argument was presented (in the 16th century!) that this meat could be eaten without kosher slaughtering.  The meat could even be eaten live, limb from limb — otherwise forbidden — since normal laws do not apply to it.

Biblical and Jewish dietary regulations express deep and important values about living creatures, the line between life and death and our place as human beings.  The discussion of “magic meat” along with the rest of the discussion about the status of this manufactured meat expresses those same values and lays bare the complexity of ethical dilemmas involved in meat eating.

I’m often asked why I’m vegetarian.  The assumption is that it is for reasons of health.  It isn’t.  It also isn’t environmentally driven.  Although I disagree with the agri-business model for meat production current in our country and believe it is dangerous for our eco-system, our health and our spiritual balance, I can see there is a way to include meat in one’s diet that is healthy for ourselves and the planet.  For those who do eat meat . . . as Michael Pollan says, pay more and eat less.  There are options other than meat from factory farmed animals.

My own vegetarianism is driven by my spiritual values.  In that context, pink slime and “magic meat” are no more an option for me than supermarket plastic wrapped packages.  Meat from grass fed animals is also not an option for me.  I never eat or make meat “substitutes.”  I make good food from plants, which offer a world of delicious and spiritually satisfying options.

Here’s one: Falafel.  When eaten in the traditional way with Tahina, Falafel are a complete protein package.  Along with protein, this combo packs essential fatty acids and high fiber.  Falafel were not created to substitute for anything and in their long history were never anything but Falafel.  The beans are not cooked, just soaked, so they retain a wonderfully crunchy texture.  They can be loaded with lots of green stuff and seasoned with some of my favorite seasonings.  Occasionally frying foods in good oils at the correct temperature is, in my opinion, much less likely to damage to your health than “magic meat” or pink slime.  Certainly it will do less damage to your soul.

Dal for Dinner

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Last night we enjoyed one of my favorites: Dal Makhani. It was a top pick when I visited the Indian and Pakistani restaurants on Devon Ave. near where I used to live.  When my Dad visited from Arizona, we were in heaven with those places so close by. He was late for his plane back once because he just had to visit our favorite Indian restaurant one more time before he left.

I never did know what those small round “beans” were in the Dal until I moved away from Devon Ave. and was forced to make the dish myself. Turns out they’re black lentils, “Urad Dal” in the little shop behind Joe Caputo & Sons where I purchase them: Bombay.

I made this one a little thicker than what I usually make it so we wouldn’t spill while we were enjoying this particular meal away from the table. I served up the Dal with a really nice whole grain rice mix I can get at Costco now that includes brown, red and black grains. These days I cook my rice in a 1:6 ratio of rice to water to remove arsenic.  Finally I sauteed some broccoli florets in extra virgin olive oil and garlic, then steamed briefly – and voila! We had an easy and delicious vegan meal.

Ingredients
(Serves 3-4 unless you have a big appetite like I do!)

  • Urad dal (Whole black lentils), 1/2 cup
  • Dark red kidney beans, dry, 2 TB rounded
  • Spanish onion, 1 large, finely chopped
  • Ginger root, 1 TB, peeled and finely minced
  • Garlic, 1 clove, peeled and finely minced
  • Plum tomatoes, 3
  • Green chilies, 1-2 finely minced (Serrano is a good one)
  • Tumeric, 1/4 tsp.
  • Cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp.
  • Chili powder, 1 tsp.
  • Coriander, 2 tsp.
  • Garam masala, 1/2 tsp.
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1 – 2 TB
  • Cream (I used coconut milk for my vegan version), 1/2 cup
  • Salt, 3/4-1 tsp). (to taste)
  • Cilantro, a few leaves chopped for garnish

Directions

  1. Rinse and prepare the black lentils and kidney beans using these instructions from my post, Cooking Dried Beans – or just rinse and put on to cook with 2 cups water or to cover.
  2. Cook the lentils and kidney beans until they are overcooked.
  3. Whisk well till the dal is almost mashed.
  4. While the beans are cooking, finely dice or chop the onion and set aside.
  5. Finely mince the peeled garlic and ginger as well as the Serrano pepper (if you like it hotter, use the seeds and/or more than one pepper). Alternatively add to a food processor along with the three plum tomatoes cut up and pulse until all is well processed. Set aside.
  6. Add the olive oil to a large saute pan with a lid.  Add the cumin seeds and saute until they crackle.
  7. Add the tomato-ginger-garlic-chile mixture and saute for a moment.
  8. Add the remaining seasonings. Simmer for ten minutes or so. I made a thicker dal by simmering longer and reducing the sauce while retaining the flavor.
  9. Add the well-cooked lentils and kidney beans to the mixture and stir.
  10. Finally add the cream. I used coconut milk to keep it vegan. This is a rare instance where I prefer undiluted canned milk because it’s thicker and richer than fresh.

Enjoy!

Red Lentil Soup

Cooking up some red, red “pottage” (lentil soup)…

Red Lentil Soup is one of my great favorites. I used to enjoy a cup every day when I was making it regularly in the Cafe. Not only is it delicious but it has a long history of Middle Eastern and biblical associations. I always think of Esau so craving the “red red” stuff his younger brother Jacob was making that he sold his birthright for it.

I admit, though, I am skeptical that the lentil “pottage” or stew Jacob made was anything like the red lentil soup I make. Red lentils turn kind of a beige color when cooked, and I add some fresh tomato and a bit of tomato paste to my soup to restore the color. Tomatoes were not available to the ancient Israelites. I also use carrots for some color, and they were available — but that’s still not enough to explain Isaac doubling the “red” in his description. Sumac, a popular Middle Eastern seasoning with a lemony flavor, is a possibility. On its own it has a “red red” hue, but it would require too much to get that noteworthy color in the soup itself.

Still, I like to imagine the biblical scene when I am making Red Lentil Soup in my own kitchen and savoring the wonderful aroma.

Red Lentil Soup
Red Lentil Soup

Ingredients

(Serves 8)

  • Red lentils, dried, 1 lb.
  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Garlic, 2 tsp., minced
  • Celery, 3 stalks, small diced
  • Carrots, 3 medium, small diced
  • Onion, 1/2 lg Spanish onion, diced
  • Plum tomatoes, 2-3, petite diced
  • Tomato paste, 3 oz.
  • Water, after adding tomatoes and paste, add water to 10 cups
  • Lemon, juice of 1
  • Sea salt, 2-1/4 tsp.
  • Cumin, 1 TB, slightly rounded
  • Hot paprika, 1 tsp.
  • Cilantro, 1 bunch, chopped

Directions

  1. Petite dice washed celery, onion and carrots.
  2. Sauté minced garlic in olive oil. When softened, add diced veggies.
  3. When veggies are cooked, add lemon juice, tomatoes, water and seasonings.
  4. Bring tomatoes, veggies and water to a boil.
  5. Add prepared lentils.
  6. Cook soup until beans are tender.
  7. Check seasoning and consistency and adjust if needed.
  8. Stir in chopped cilantro and serve.

Cooking Dried Beans

kidney_beans

As a vegetarian now progressing toward veganism, I have always eaten a lot of beans. It’s a good thing I love them!

Until this past summer, I never had any digestive difficulties with any foods at all including beans.  During the summer of 2014, I was unfortunately sick for four months, and my digestion and eating patterns were severely disrupted.  Now I’m back to normal — almost. While my difficulties aren’t severe, my digestion isn’t quite what it used to be. In particular I have some unresolved issues with beans.

Years ago, I used a particular routine for cooking beans:

  1. Rinse the beans and soak them in water overnight.
  2. Pour off any excess water, rinse the beans again and place in a pot with water to cover.
  3. Bring the beans to a boil, remove from heat, pour water and beans into a colander to drain, return beans to pot.
  4. Repeat step 3 at least one more time (twice if there wasn’t time to soak the beans the night before).
  5. After the final boil, return the beans to the pot, cover with water, bring to a simmer and cook until done.

While I was working with my vegetarian Cafe, I didn’t have time for this process and usually just rinsed the beans, put them into a pot covering them well with water, brought them to a boil then turned the heat to simmer and cooked them until they were done.

When I continued to have difficulty digesting my own food after I was sick, I thought I might return to my old method and see if that helped. It did! One day in particular I noticed that I had considerable digestive difficulty after a visit to a favorite restaurant where I can enjoy vegan burritos. The next day I made a bean dish in my own home preparing them as I described above, and I had no difficulty at all.  Sounds like a good discovery, right?

I decided to check out the science of my own experiment. There must be an explanation for my experience, right? Among others, I read an article from the LA Times called: “Don’t Soak Your Dried Beans – Now Even the Cool Kids Agree!” I didn’t let the title put me off — soaking isn’t essential to my method. Boiling and throwing off the water multiple times before cooking will work just as well. I saw right away that the article contained the scientific explanation I was seeking:

“…beans contain complex sugars called alpha-galactosides. The human body does not produce enzymes to digest these sugars. Mainly raffinose and stachyose, they pass through the stomach undigested until they reach the large intestine. There they ferment, producing gases…It was thought that soaking beans in cold water leached these sugars out of the bean. Throw away the water and you throw away the gas…”

That information coordinated well with what I learned through going on the Low FODMAP Diet of Monash University in Australia over the summer: some sugars in carbohydrates can cause difficulty for some people. Although I never had been one of those people before, I was at the time I found the Low FODMAP Diet, and the diet helped me tremendously. Never mind that the next sentences of the LA Times article stated: “Unfortunately, it isn’t true. These sugars are part of what the bean uses for nourishment as it grows into a plant, and the bean does not part with them gladly.”

OK, I can accept that and eliminate the soaking overnight. But then boiling briefly, allowing to stand and soak for a couple of hours, then pouring off the water and repeating the process does remove those pesky alpha-galactosides, at least 90% of them. Aha! That explains it.

The article went on to note, however, that this blanch-soak, blanch-soak method did not consistently reduce intestinal distress. Furthermore, the method reduces flavor slightly so is not preferred. The author of the article recommends just rinsing and cooking beans.

I’m left, though, with the experiential fact that when I eat beans that have not been boiled and the water thrown off multiple times, I experience intestinal distress. When I prepare the beans properly, I don’t. Maybe my former excellent digestion will return some day — but for now, I will prepare all my beans like this:

  1. Start with dried beans. Place them in a colander and rinse.
  2. Move the beans to a heavy pot with a lid. Cover well with water.
  3. Bring beans to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Allow beans to stand and soak (the article recommends 2 hours – I shorten this time, sometimes to just a few minutes – seems to work for me)
  5. Pour beans into colander, draining water.
  6. Repeat the process.
  7. After the second blanch-soak procedure, place beans in pot and cover with water.
  8. Bring beans and water to a simmer. Cook on low heat until done.

I do agree that some flavor is lost. I check the seasoning and adjust it at the end. I find I also need to adjust the water content of my dishes. Most of my recipes from the Cafe are designed around just rinsing and cooking the beans. When I use the blanch-soak method, I reduce the liquid content of recipes somewhat. I can always add it in again at the end if I want to thin a soup or a dish.

So…my current recommendation for cooking beans: just rinse and cook if they don’t cause you any difficulty. If beans do cause you difficulty, don’t soak overnight but do blanch and soak (for some amount of time) at least twice.

Curried (Vegan) Cauliflower & Leek Soup

curry_cauliflower01

This creamy Curried Cauliflower & Leek Soup is a delicious addition to our repertoire in the Cafe and has been very popular. It was the first creamy soup I had tried using a non-dairy milk.

The original recipe that I picked up on Pinterest from Beard and Bonnet calls for canned coconut milk, which I have listed in the recipe below. It was also elegantly garnished with crushed red pepper and cilantro stems.

This last time I made it, I used fresh coconut milk, which was thinner than the canned. It was easy to adjust for this by using only milk and no water in the soup. I have a few heat-sensitive customers, so I garnished this time with cilantro and red bell pepper.

I made a few other changes in the recipes, mainly in the procedure.

Curried (Vegan) Cauliflower & Leek Soup

Ingredients

  • Cauliflower, 2 lb.
  • Leeks, 1 cup cleaned chunks (white or light green parts only)
  • Ginger, 1-1/2″ piece
  • Basmati rice, dry, 1-2 TB
  • Limes, 1-1/2 for garnish and additional flavor
  • Cilantro, 1/3 cup
  • Thai green or yellow curry paste, 2-3 TB
  • Coconut butter, 2 TB
  • Coconut milk, 4 cups (either use one can augmented with water to make 4 cups, or use 4 cups of fresh coconut milk)
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Add coconut butter/oil to the soup pot.
  2. Prepare the veggies for cooking and pureeing, beginning with the cauliflower. Remove the greenest part of the cauliflower leaves and discard or save for use in another soup stock. Cut out the core and stalk portions of the flowerets and add to the soup pot. Reserve flowerets.
  3.  Wash mud out of the leeks and cut lower portion into chunks, leaving the tougher darker green portions for another soup stock. Add prepared chunks of leeks to soup pot.
  4. Peel ginger piece and add to soup pot.
  5. Cut away any brown parts of cilantro stems. Cut of remainder of stems and put into soup pot. Reserve the leaves to mince for garnish.
  6. Add the dry rice to the pot.
  7. Add half the coconut milk (fresh or reconstituted from can) to the pot.
  8. Bring mixture in pot to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook veggies until soft.  Cool slightly.
  9. Move the contents of the soup pot to a Vita-Mix or blender and blend until very smooth and hopefully thick.
  10. Move blended ingredients back to the stock pot and add the curry paste and perhaps a little lime juice if you wish. I like to use the lime as a garnish and let people squeeze their own lime juice into the soup if they wish.
  11. Add the uncooked cauliflowerets to the pot and simmer until the cauliflower is slightly soft. This won’t take long at all.
  12. Check the seasoning and add salt to taste or more curry paste if desired.
  13. Dish up, garnish with minced cilantro and either a few red pepper flakes or chopped red bell pepper. Enjoy.

Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder

corn_chowder03

I love potatoes and consider them a great vegetable despite the bad rap they’ve gotten in recent years. I know the arguments about their role in spiking blood sugar — but the peel counteracts that. Whole foods – that’s the key.

Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Spanish onion, 1 large, small dice
  • Red bell peppers, 2, small dice
  • Red Potatoes, 16 small peel left on, quartered
  • Carrots, 6, 1″ dice
  • Water, 4 quarts
  • Cashews, 2 cups, soaked overnight
  • Cornstarch, 1 cup
  • Corn, fresh or frozen, 1-1/2 quarts
  • Salt & Szeged hot paprika to taste
  • Parsley, 1/4 cup chopped

Directions

  1. Saute the onion, bell peppers and carrots in extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Add half the water, add potatoes, and cook covered until potatoes are barely softened.
  3. Add other half of water to Vita-Mix or blender with soaked cashews and cornstarch. Blend until smooth and add to soup.
  4. Add fresh or frozen corn shortly before ready to serve. Bring back to a simmer, season and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  5. When serve, sprinkle chopped parsley on top.