The great ladies at Realmomslovetoeat.com just picked up my favorite Lentil and Veggie Soup recipe! Check them out--they've got great tips and healthy recipes to share, perfect for moms on the go.
I’ve always loved mac ‘n cheese, but have only made the from-scratch version relatively recently. It’s like a whole other experience than the boxed kind---and oh so much better. As a vegetarian, it’s a great, filling main-dish option for me and the hungry carnivores I’m serving. This recipe is part of the Wisconsin Cheese Board's 30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni & Cheese event. Find the complete recipe here.
Last year I found this divine truffle mac ‘n cheese at a local bistro; the problem is that they only have it on rare occasions, and I haven’t been able to get it again! So I decided to try and make my own. I’ve never cooked with truffle anything before, but after a little research, it looked like truffle butter would be an easy (and inexpensive) way to incorporate it. I tried with both white and black truffle butters, and much preferred Epicurean’s Black Truffle Butter.
The first step in any mac ‘n cheese endeavor (in my opinion) is to grate the cheese. I used Roth Kase gruyere, Bel Gioioso fontina, and Wisconsin Organics' sharp cheddar. I added the fontina to help tone down the stronger flavors of the gruyere and cheddar, and I think it worked beautifully. The little bit of mustard, too, adds just enough tanginess to round out the flavors of the dish.
A good next step is to get the milk heating. Once it’s in the pot, set it on medium-high heat and just stir it occasionally. You definitely don’t want it to boil, just to warm evenly throughout so that it can help melt the cheese once everything is combined.
Now get the water for the pasta boiling. Add a pinch of salt to flavor the water, then cover it to speed up boiling. The Gemelli I used called for 7 minutes of cooking, so I took it out after about 5—you want there to be a slight chewiness still, so the pasta doesn’t get too mushy after it’s been baked. I also rinsed it off with a bit of cold water to stop the cooking and to rinse off any excess starch.
The most intensive part of the mac ‘n cheese process is creating the flour-butter mixture—just keep stirring. I dropped the truffle butter in the pan, let it melt, then added the flour slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon. The idea is to let it keep heating and thickening before adding the milk, then let it heat and thicken even more.
I used a wire whisk to incorporate the milk. Once it’s come to the desired thickness, mix in the mustard, then add to a large bowl with the grated cheese (and enjoy the fantastic smell!). Mix until cheese is melted, then add the drained pasta and mix well. Spread in your 13x9 casserole dish.
As for the topping, I think the bread crumbs are an integral part to any mac ‘n cheese dish, and used more than ever for this recipe simply because the combination of creamy smooth cheese and crunchy, flavorful crumbs. Hopefully you get both in every bite. After toasting, and buttering, I did a rough chop before tossing in the food processor and adding a dash of garlic salt. Once they’re crumby, spread generously over the cheesy pasta and get ‘er in the oven!
Once it’s done, you’ll want to let it rest for just a minute or two before serving. Mac ‘n cheese tends to cool down quickly, so it’s important to get it while it’s hot. I serve it with a light salad (like my Arugula Salad) to offset the richness of the cheesy pasta.
This is the way I cook.
Step 1: Buy a random green veg at the grocery store.
Step 2: Ponder ways to cook said veg in a new and different way.
Step 3: Find recipe and realize I have to go back to the grocery store to get all the rest of the ingredients.
So goes the story--two trips to the grocery store later--for these green beans with leeks and dill from 101 Cookbooks. I'm trying it tomorrow, and will post the results!
I just got back from a trip to the northwest, including stops in Portland, OR, Port Angeles, WA, and Victoria and Vancouver, BC. As expected, I was delighted by the vegetarian options available pretty much everywhere up there. (Of course, we had to get through Idaho first, where the only dinner option was greasy grilled cheese and tater tots.)
One suggested stop was Burgerville in Oregon. I wasn't sure a spot called Burgerville was really going to meet my needs, but amazingly, they had a harvest burger, a black bean patty, even a seasonal portabello sandwich--three options are unheard of in most franchise fast-food joints in the country. I was stoked for a quick and healthy on-the-road option!
The next great spot was the Tapa Bar in Victoria, BC (located on Trounce Alley--how cute is that?). They had a whole menu section of vegetarian tapas, and I wanted to try them all. In the end, we ordered the Chile con Queso and, my favorite, the Pesto Pizza with cilantro pesto, apples, pecans & smoked mozzarella with lime. I'm pretty sure I'll be trying to recreate that pizza in the next week it was so good.
When we finally made it to Vancouver, we ate really well--everything from creative vegetarian sushi (anything with tempura sweet potatoes is delish in my book) to tomato-rosemary eggs benedict to some rockin' mac n' cheese. My favorite, though was at Abigail's Party--a duo of preserved lemon hummus (any suggestion on how to get the preserved lemon in there?) and smoked wild mushroom cream pate. So simple yet so creative. I'd love to try making the mushroom pate at some point too.
So all this got me thinking--let's share the best vegetarian restaurant options from around the country. I'll start the list...
Whenever I see articles like this claiming to know what tofu's environmental impact is, I am frightened that someone has truly beaten me to the punch. But then I read them, and it's the same old story--soy's bad because so much land is cleared, especially in South America, to grow it, and deforestation and land degradation are big contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
But what's that you say? The soy grown is South America is destined for livestock feed? It's true, just like 80 percent of the soy grown in the U.S. In my mind, this just adds to the burden of the meat eater.
When I'm done with these articles, I breathe a big sigh of relief that this is just another failed attempt at explaining the difference between meat and tofu. Can't wait until I can share my findings with the world!
I absolutely love this terribly honest treatise on the struggles Foer's had since childhood with meat eating. For me it was easy. For others--even conscientious others--it's not.
He explores the environmental issues:
Eating factory-farmed animals — which is to say virtually every piece of meat sold in supermarkets and prepared in restaurants — is almost certainly the single worst thing that humans do to the environment.
And the animal rights ones:
This isn’t animal experimentation, where you can imagine some proportionate good at the other end of the suffering. This is what we feel like eating. Yet taste, the crudest of our senses, has been exempted from the ethical rules that govern our other senses. Why? Why doesn’t a horny person have as strong a claim to raping an animal as a hungry one does to confining, killing and eating it? It’s easy to dismiss that question but hard to respond to it. Try to imagine any end other than taste for which it would be justifiable to do what we do to farmed animals.
And comes to the amazing conclusion that yes, you may feel you miss out on some of life's pleasures by being vegetarian. But in return you get a whole person who doesn't ignore reality, who takes action on their beliefs.
While I have a hard time believing the American government would ever go so far as to tell us what we should eat--especially when we're talking about environmental consequences--it's nice to know that some countries are taking the links between diet and the planet seriously.
This NY Times article talks about the Swedish government's efforts to educate consumers about the environmental impacts of their food choices, by labeling common foods, even at a fast-food joints. Though they are unsure about what effects the practice will really have, they're banking on education helping sway eaters.
"The government realized that encouraging a diet that tilted more toward chicken or vegetables and educating farmers on lowering emissions generally could have an enormous impact."
Maybe someday the US'll finally figure out how to work with farmers to make a serious dent in our carbon emissions.
The garden was amazing this summer, but we unfortch only got a handful of ripe tomatoes before Mother Autumn (or Winter, more like it) came and decided to freeze everything. We worked hard to save as much as we could, so on a tip from a friend, we pulled up the plants that still had a lot of green tomatoes on them, stripped them of foliage, and hung them upside down in the guest bedroom.
Others we picked and placed in paper bags or cardboard boxes. I read somewhere that if you put an apple or two in with the green tomatoes, it'll help speed up the ripening process, and it seems to have worked.
So what to do with all these tomatoes now? Every day we have new red ones, so I finally tracked down a way to freeze them. Here's the process:
Step One: Blanch
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once boiling, add tomatoes, a few at at a time, and let sit for 45 seconds-1 minute.
Remove from boiling water and immediately place in a big bowl of ice water until tomatoes are cool. (This was a big bowl of ice water until the end, trust me.)
That heirloom in the back kind of reminds me of Lady Gaga.
Step Two: Peel
The chilled tomatoes should be easy to peel at this point (use a sharp knife as a starter if peels don't fall right off). Remove and discard the peels, then cut off stems and bruised bits.
Step Three: Squeeze and Drain
Quarter the tomatoes, wash your hands and start squeezing. You'll want to get as much of the seeds and excess water out as possible. When you're done, throw them in a colander to finish draining the rest of the water.
Step Four: Seal em Up
To prolong the life of your frozen tomatoes, make sure they're in a super-sealed Ziploc bag, or better yet, a glass container (tomatoes can leech plastic worse than most veggies.)When you're ready, defrost them and throw them in chili, or make pizza or pasta sauce. Yum. Let me know if you have other good suggestions for these!
A recent Treehugger column by Pablo Paster assesses the various ways agriculture, including livestock, has affected land use and therefore climate change since the dawn of farming.
More than 8 billion acres of cultivated land can now no longer be used to store carbon, replacing it instead with methane-producing animals and carbon-heavy fertilizers and pesticides.
It's a quick read, but a good overview of the things we should be concerned about in thinking about our food's impact on the environment....
A side note: Paster wrote a paper a few years ago on the carbon footprint of wine from different parts of the world, and also helped guide my study on the carbon footprint of tofu.
Well, not for everyone, just when it's tainted with E. coli. But that happens far far too often. The woman in this story even ate a mostly vegetarian diet, unfortunately. She was just unlucky enough to eat a burger made at the wrong time.
The reason ground beef is dangerous is because it's a mash of cow parts rather than a whole cut of beef, saving companies like Cargill, the meatpacker in question, 30 cents a pound. But as the article states, Cargill's $116.6 billion in revenues last year made it the country’s largest private company. Sounds eerily like the insurance companies, profiting from either endangering Americans or refusing to treat them.
Companies can get away with violating their own safety procedures, endangering customers. Why aren't we demanding safer meat? I think it's ridiculous that we continue to support such suppliers who hurt their cows, their workers, and ultimately, us.