Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Juicing and Smoothies

I want to talk about juicing and making smoothies.  I have long been a fan of both these methods of getting more fruits and vegetables in your diet.

First, the difference between the two.  Smoothies are made in my Vitamix.  You can use a regular blender but I found out right away that the Vitamix is much more powerful and efficient for hard products like beets or carrots.  With smoothies, you get fiber.  Not so with juicing, which removes everything except the juice.

There are two types of juicers, fast force and masticating.  The fast force is much faster but you get more pulp and less juice.  The masticating juicers are more expensive but extract more juice and supposedly last longer than the fast force type.  For years, I have used the Breville top of the line fast force model.  It has served me well after much use.  I recently bought a Tribest Green Star Juicer, after weeks of scouring the internet reading reviews and articles on the different masticating juicers.  I really, really didn't want to spend the big bucks that it cost.  But after several weeks or more of using it, I'm glad I did.  In the long run, I will save on produce because the Tribest extracts more juice from less fruits and vegetables than the fast force Breville.  You can feel the difference in the dryness of the pulp coming out of the Tribest versus the wet feel of the pulp from the Breville.

I LOVE the Tribest.  The only negative I have is the cleaning.  It is tedious to clean, but not difficult.  There are more pieces to clean than with the Breville.  There is a slight learning curve in using it.  Assembly and disassembly, from the standpoint of having more pieces to connect, can be a challenge.  I am just now getting to the point where I can do an assembly and take down without the instruction manual in front of me!

Another advantage of the masticating juicers, you can store part or all of the juice in the refrigerator for a day or two, in an airtight bottle or container.  I often get quite a lot of juice - more than I want to drink at one time, so this feature is good for me.

Recipes?  Truthfully, with the Vitamix, I simply dump whatever veggies and fruits I want to use into it.  Add a small amount of water if I think it needs it and let 'er rip!  Usually, it is something like spinach (or kale or beet roots) and a banana, apple, and kiwi fruit.  Almost any combination you use provides a very tasty and nutrition packed drink.  Sometimes if you look at the things you put in, you may think, "this isn't going to be good."  Trust me, it will!

For juicing, I have a handful of very good cookbooks with 5 star recipes so I tend to follow a recipe.  One of these - it's hard to say which is my favorite, they are all excellent - is The Juice Lover's Big Book of Juices.  It's funny.  The day I bought it, I sat down and went through it ooing and ahhing over all the recipes and I marked many that I wanted to try.  I got past the first three.  I've made each of them so many times that I just never got to the rest!  Now that's the sign of a great recipe! 

Bottom line, juicing and smoothies provide your body with more nutrition than what most people would eat  in a day. It provides variety.  I grew up with the usual eggs, bacon, toast for breakfast, a sandwich or soup for lunch, and meat, potatoes and a vegetable for dinner.  How boring!

Here are just two of my favorite recipes.  I've found with the Tribest, I can cut back on the amounts given.

Beet Slinger:  1 beet, 3 apples, and 6 large carrots

Veggie Starlet:  2 apples, 1 beet, 4 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and 4 sprigs of fresh parsley

The above recipes, in my Tribest, yield 12 to 16 ounces of juice, closer to the 16.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Baking Yeast Bread

I have been baking yeast breads for decades.  For the last 4 or 5 years or so, I drifted away from it.  Not because I lost interest, just Life 101 always seemed to get in the way.  I forgot about how baking homemade bread can drastically improve your mental state and well being.

Let's start at the beginning.  In my early 20's I bought a book on baking bread - still have it and the one, of all my other bread cookbooks, I go to most often.  It is the 1963 version of the Better Homes and Gardens Bread Cookbook.  The first loaf I made was better suited to being a baseball bat than a loaf of bread.  I was devastated.  But I persevered.  With each success, I ventured on to different types of bread.  I have made white bread, whole wheat bread, cinnamon swirl loaf, a phenomenal raisin nut braid that makes two braids that is to die for!

When my twin sons, John and Michael, were in kindergarten, I decided to make the cinnamon swirl loaf for the first time.  It was still warm from the oven when they came home from school that day.  I gave each of them a slice of it and John just kept shoving it into his mouth as if he was afraid someone would take it away from him!  That loaf didn't last long in our house!

Here is my favorite recipe for whole wheat bread.  It makes two wonderful loaves.  Now stop saying you "don't have time" to devote to making bread.  Find the time.  You will be doing yourself a big favor.

1 package active dry yeast and 1/4 cup water

2 1/2 cups hot water

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup shortening

3 cups whole-wheat flour

5 cups all purpose flour


Soften the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)  Combine hot water, sugar, salt, and shortening.  Cool to lukewarm.


Stir in whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all purpose flour.  Beat well.  Stir in softened yeast.  Add enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead till smooth and satiny.  About 10 to 12 minutes.


Shape dough into a ball.  Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.  Cover.  Let rise till double - about 1 1/2 hours.  Punch down.  Cut into 2 portions.  Shape each into a smooth ball.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.


Shape into loaves.  [For the beginner:  With your hands or a rolling pin, shape into a rectangle.  Roll to about 1/2 inch thick and about 8 inches wide.]  Place in two greased  8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf dishes/pans.  Let rise again till double - about 1 1/4 hours.  Bake in preheated oven at 375 for about 45 minutes.  Cover with foil, if necessary, the last 20 minutes.  Makes 2 loaves.


Notes:  (1) This recipe is old, old!  The size given for the loaf pans is kind of dated.  Just use two loaf pans you can find at the store or on Amazon. (2)  I prefer Bob's Red Mill products.  I use their yeast and their flours and have good luck with them.  There are other quality brands out there.  (3)  Over the years, I had good and not quite so good luck with getting dough to rise properly.  I recently bought a proofer.  All it is, is a flat bottom with a wire rack and a cover.  It has a small pan in the bottom that you put water in, plug it in, set the temperature desired and put your dough in to rise - first in a bowl, and for the second rise in two loaf pans.  I highly recommend it.  The company is Brod & Taylor - www.brodandtaylor.com


Now put your laptop down and go gather your items to start baking bread! 


Friday, September 10, 2021

Spinach and Garbanzo Beans

In looking back over my last several posts, one might think I am vegetarian.  Not true!  I have a lot of vegetarian recipes that I enjoy, but make no mistake, I am a life long meat eater!

I like this one for its nutritional value and ease of preparation.  This serves 4 to 6, but I adjust for myself with one or two leftovers.


1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight

1 pound fresh spinach

1/2 cup minced dill

juice of 2 lemons

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Saute the onion slices in the olive oil over medium-low heat until they are soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Drain the chickpeas and add them to the onions, turning to coat with the oil.  Cover with water and simmer gently until the chickpeas are tender, about 40 minutes.  Add extra boiling water, as needed.


Meanwhile, rinse the spinach well and cut away the stems.  When the chickpeas are tender, add the spinach along with the dill and continue cooking slowly until the spinach is tender, about 10 minutes.  At the end of cooking, add the lemon juice and adjust seasonings.  


I serve this over brown rice.



Saturday, August 28, 2021

Roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes with caper vinaigrette

This one comes from Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook, Plenty.  While I can't pronounce his name, I am intrigued by his cookbooks and his flair for the unique.  He isn't a true vegetarian.  But he got that reputation from being asked once to write a vegetarian column for a newspaper.  His other two cookbooks, Plenty More and Simple are excellent resources.

This recipe is easy to put together and the blend of flavors is delightful.

4 parsnips

4 medium red onions

2/3 cup olive oil

4 thyme sprigs

2 rosemary sprigs

1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise

salt and pepper

2 medium sweet potatoes

30 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons capers

1/2 tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard


Preheat the oven to 375.  Peel the parsnips and cut into two or three sections, depending on the length.  The cut each piece lengthwise into two or four.  You want pieces roughly 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.  Peel the onion and cut into wedges.

Place the parsnips and onion in a large mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the thyme, rosemary, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and some pepper.  Mix well and spread out in a large roasting pan.  Roast for 20 minutes

While this is cooking, trim both ends of the sweet potato.  Cut them into (with the skins) into half and then each half into wedges.  Add the potatoes to the pan with the parsnips and onion.  Stir well.  Return to the oven for another 40 to 50 minutes.

When all the vegetables are cooked through and have taken on a golden color, stir in the halved tomatoes.  Roast for another 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, capers, maple syrup, mustard, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Pour the dressing over the roasted vegetables as soon as you take them out of the oven.  Stir well and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serves 4


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

This is a great tasting soup that I make throughout the fall and winter.


One bunch of fresh kale, chopped

One or two sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

One or two cups dried garbanzo beans 

One large can tomatoes, including juice

Large chopped onion

Approximately 2 quarts (or more) chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare the garbanzo beans by soaking overnight, then cooking for 45 minutes.  Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour or more.



Friday, August 13, 2021

Eggplant Pie

Unlike a lot of people, I really like cooking with eggplant!  I could write a cookbook filled with eggplant recipes and call it "Eggplant Heaven!"  Here is my recent addition to my eggplant recipe collection.  Try it!

Ingredients

·       1 eggplant

·       1 big tomato (or 2 medium sized tomatoes)

·       1 shallot

·       2 garlic cloves

·       2 table spoons of pine nuts (actually, I use pumpkin seeds)

·       a handful of basil

·       breadcrumbs

·       1 egg

·       mozzarella cheese

·       cherry tomatoes

·       black olives

·       grated cheddar cheese


Instructions

·       Cut the eggplant into fine pieces.

·       Steam the pieces for 10 minutes.

·       Chop the shallot and the garlic finely.

·       Mix the eggplant, pine nuts and basil 

·       Add breadcrumbs and the egg and make a creamy dough out of it.

·       Slice the tomato and make a layer on the bottom of the pan.

·       Spread the eggplant dough over the tomatoes.

·       Place the remaining tomato slices on top of the dough.

·       Finish with grated cheddar cheese, halved cherry tomatoes, halved olives and mozzarella.

·       Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 350°F.

 



Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Make Veggies Fun!

We all know we need lots of fruits and vegetables in our lives.  But how to do it in innovative and desirable ways?  In my house, I frequently make smoothies and homemade juices.  


There are other ways too.  Try these.


Begin with four cups of your favorite vegetables - or get adventurous and try new ones.  Consider:

green beans

broccoli

carrots

asparagus

mushrooms

onions

cauliflower


You can combine different ones or use only one.  Cook in boiling for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Remove from water and place in bowl of ice to cool.  Then pat dry.


Next, whip up one of the following marinades.  Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and heat until steaming.  Pour over the vegetables, stir to coat well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours

Rosemary-Garlic Marinade:  

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper 


Orange-Oregano Marinade:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 strips orange zest

2 sprigs fresh oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Nut Loaf

I had every intention of making banana nut bread today.  When I began gathering ingredients, I found I only had one egg, rather than the 2 called for in the recipe.  Damn!  Wasn't of the mindset to run to the store at that moment.  My eyes wandered to the facing page of the old cookbook.  Best Nut Loaf.  Hhmm.  Never made that one before and it only calls for one egg!  What a pleasant surprise.  It is delicious.

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 beaten egg

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoons salad oil

3/4 cup chopped nuts


Combine the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, milk, salad oil, and nuts.  Pour these into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake at 325 for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This one, fresh out of the oven, is delicious!


1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 and 5/8 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1 tablespoon confections sugar (for dusting)


Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare bundt pan.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir into batter just until blended. 

Fold in blueberries.  Spoon half the batter into pan.

In small bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts.

Sprinkle half this mixture over batter in the pan.

Spoon remaining batter over the top, then rest of of the nut mixture over the top.

Use a spatula to swirl the sugar layer into cake.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Invert onto plate.

Dust with confectioners sugar. 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Cabbage Pie

This is one of my newer recipes.  Very good!


4 large eggs

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

6 cups finely sliced cabbage (about half of a medium head)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dill

2 tablespoons green onion

4 oz. (1 1/2 cups) grated mozzarella


Preheat oven to 375 and butter a 9 inch pie plate.

In medium bowl, add 4 eggs, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup mayo and whisk.

In small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch.  Whisk flour into batter until smooth.

Place cabbage in mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Scrunch cabbage for 30 seconds to soften.  Stir in 2 tablespoons green onion and 2 tablespoon dill.

Spread cabbage mixture over bottom of pie pan. Pour batter over top.

Sprinkle with the mozzarella.

Bake 35 minutes or until top is golden.