Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Procrastinator Preps

  Meet Miss E, The Procrastinator.  If they gave out degrees in the subject, I'd be the recipient of an honorary doctorate.  I mean, Harvard would have probably recruited me.  As the saying goes: If it weren't for the last minute I'd never get anything done!
  I mention this pesky trait of mine because these past weeks I have actually surprised myself by....wait for it...planning ahead!  On the way back from Asheville, I grabbed a magazine to occupy my mind from thoughts of fiery plane crashes and failing engines.  Of course, it was a food magazine.  Well, not entirely a food magazine, but the delicious looking photo on the cover was really what sold me.   One article in particular caught my eye, and it was about advance food prep.  Now, chefs and cooks do this all the time, but I'd never dreamed how truly easy it could make my life.
  Here are the things I prepared ahead of time that I was then able to easily reheat for dinner during the week!
  • Braised shiitake mushrooms
  • Roasted Fall vegetables 
  • Caramelized onion jam
  • Whole wheat linguine 
  • Roasted butternut squash
  • Blanched cauliflower
  • Golden raisin vinaigrette 
And here are some of the fabulous things I made (and we ate!)

Braised mushrooms + WW linguine + fresh thyme

Roasted Fall veggies + lentils + Golden raisin vinaigrette

Caramelized onion jam + braised mushrooms + artichoke hearts + roasted red peppers
Roasted butternut squash + braised cauliflower + caramelized onion jam
WW linguine + artichoke hearts + capers + golden raisin vinaigrette
   What an amazingly well-fed and stress-free week that turned out to be!  And in truth, you'll be snacking on most of these things for longer than a week.  You can find the recipes on the Whole Living website.

  If this type of cooking interests you, consider buying/borrowing/checking out The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider.
In the introduction she says:
"Improvisational cooking is thrilling.  It's the key to ease and pleasure in cooking, freedom from recipes and set lists of ingredients, and liberation from other less tangible constraints: perfectionism, the voices of "I can't," fear of what will happen and maybe go wrong."
 Amen, sister.

 And here's a sneak peek at my next culinary adventure...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Warmth of Kith & Kin

Park County Aspen

  Fall is in full swing out here in the West, and Winter is already rearing its white head in the high country.  Have I mentioned how much I love this time of year?!?  Autumn has a smell- a sensation: the sweet, wet scent of decaying leaves, wisps of campfire and smoke, crisp air that cools on into the evening.  This season of death reminds us of the cyclical timeline of nature.  From marveling at the splendidly white, snow-capped peaks, to coaxing the first tender shoots out of the ground, to cooing over delicate wildflower blossoms, and then soaking in the vibrant golds, reds and oranges of the changing leaves.

  Last weekend we attended the wonderful wedding of one of my very best friends, Megan.  She and her husband Chris were married in Asheville, North Carolina in the Swannanoa Valley, surrounded by over 200 of their family and friends.  It was such a joyful occasion, and an opportunity to visit with friends that I hadn't seen in quite a while.  Probably the most heartwarming thing about this wedding was how everyone came together to help and make it happen.  All out of love for the bride and groom!
  Dunce that I am, I forgot to bring my camera.  I know, I know, I was continually kicking myself.  But let's just say that I threw my meat free, dairy free and egg free diet completely out the window!  Maybe it's better that I didn't document the absolutely uncontrolled feasting I was doing in the Cackalack...everything from pulled pork to pimento cheese!  Apparently the pimento cheese is a 'Southern Thing.'  NPR did a good story about it a few years back.
  Despite the backsliding, I did eat some other delicious things that are completely vegan...
North Carolina Muscadines
  A member of the grapevine species, muscadines have been cultivated since the 16th century and are native to the Southeastern United States.  You might also see them used to make wine, juice or jam.  They have a sweet, jelly-like consistency.  To eat just bite a hole in the tough skin and suck out the insides.  Watch out for the seeds!
Salad made from local tomatoes, greens and raw baby turnips
Vegan Tofu Scramble @ Early Girl Eatery in Asheville

  However, since I really wanted to include a yummy vegan recipe for this blog post, I've decided to share something I made recently that perfectly captures the warm feeling that being around all of those wonderful people gave me:

  I love comfort food, and it's not something I'm willing to give up just because those foods are normally made from the flesh and excretions of animals.  The Skinny Bitch cookbooks have been a great place to start when putting together vegan meals.  They tend to be heavy on vegan cheese and meat substitutes- not my favorite and not really necessary- but the basic flavors are there and you can make subtle changes to suit your palate.
  The changes I made to this recipe are:

  Clicking on the title of the recipe will take you to Google Books, where you can view the recipe along with the entire Skinny Bitch in the Kitch cookbook- but you can't print so don't even try.  I didn't post the recipe here because of copyright laws.

  Moment of zen:
Sweet terrarium w/ Red Leaf Maple Tree