Friday, July 3, 2009

Victory! (vegan oregano ricotta)

I love (slash hate) her demonic face. This is what happens to us when we eat cheese people!

Cheese cheese cheese cheese cheese. Everyone loves cheese, most people can't get enough if it. Many people can't eat cheese without some adverse reaction and sometimes, that adverse reaction effects those around them as well. Cheese is the vegetarians hanger on. What keeps a veg from a vegan, the last great temptation. Cheese makes us smile and then snotty (not in attitude, in literal terms). Cheese will hurt our bellies, make us fat, break out our skin, trigger our asthma and allergies, and yet we forgive it, we let it back in for its sharp, salty, creamy flavor.

When asking my cleanse groups what they are nervous about giving up the top answer always is cheese. The second is wine. Perhaps the french have it right (and have it made) they drink the best wine and eat the ripest cheese, most of it not pasteurized... there is something to that way of eating. Do you think there may be a difference between a fresh piece of cheese from the farm and our american and cheddar at the deli?

Anyway this post is not about the French's cheese, although when I experience it for myself I will be in touch. It is about an alternative. Noooo, horror, boring! Listen, we need it people, you know it, I know it. Cheese is making us poopy (pun intended) and we need to help ourselves along with this little addiction of ours.

In my column to the left you'll find Ani's Raw Food Kitchen cookbook (or uncookbook as Ani would have it) and in there is a beautiful collection of nut based cheeses. I have had nut cheeses many times in the past, but had never made any for myself. I was excited to try out a recipe and happy I did. You may want to give this a try as well, especially if you are recently realizing that cheese doesn't work for you anymore (or if you've always known it, but choose feeling ill over skipping it at a party).

Oregano Ricotta
Enjoy as a substitute for pizza cheese, lasagna, or simply serve it between slices of heirloom tomatoes.

2 medium garlic cloves
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups cashews
juice of 2 lemons, about 4 Tbl
1 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T oregano
1/2 cup water as needed

Process garlic and salt into small pieces. Add cashews and process into powder. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and oregano and process. Add only enough water to make chunky ricotta cheese texture.

Will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.

Since I was experimenting, I chose to half the recipe (I wanted to use it all at once and have none left over). Making lasagna? Make all of it. Pizza? half it, unless you want to eat it with heirlooms...yum.

I used my new cheese on pizza with roasted eggplant, mushrooms, and onions. Because the cheese is raw I didn't want to heat it too high a temperature. So I cooked all the veggies, and pizza crust in the oven, then spread the cheese, topped with fresh tomato slices and warmed it in the oven after it was turned off. Delicious!

And now, to peel a mushroom.....

You aren't "supposed" to rinse mushrooms. They are spongy and will absorb water. A chef would never do it. I always used to. Mostly, because the best way to clean a mushroom, is to brush it clean using a cloth or paper towel. Because my kitchen is never stocked with paper towels (not a necessary paper product) and it always seemed more of a hassle to muddy a dish towel and have to wash it. I would rinse my mushrooms very quickly, trying not to get too much water on their spongy underbelly. Now I peel them, really easy, really quick, and no used towels.

Just grab the lip from the underbelly side and peel up towards the middle.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Greens and Sun (fried rice)

Wow, I just read my last two posts! Has the weather gotten us down or what!? Thoughtful, insightful, depressing!! Yesterday we had some real summer fun, real summer weather, and got some real summer sun, way to go Vitamin D.

Walking the foggy beach in the morning I was feeling inspired to paint a piece driftwood with a myriad of colors and birds. Birds have been a theme lately. Then I came home and the sun came out and the driftwood had to wait. Its raining today, but where has the inspiration gone?

Last night, after a relaxing time on the beach, I pulled out the bounty from our latest CSA goodie bag. Everything growing is green this time of year, packed with fresh nutrients, minerals, and flavah! Chopper had made rice, so simple yet so nice. There was snap peas, bok choy, rabe greens, green garlic, garlic snapes, and leeks to make a delicious stir fry.

The greens glorious greens. Some vitamins are fat soluble (Vit. A, and K), adding the oil will help your body make the most of the vitamin filled green vegetables.

Heat 2 Tbl Sesame Oil in a big pan (or wok), when nice and hot, add green garlic, leeks and/or onions. Once softened, add 1 inch piece of thinly sliced fresh ginger. Add 2 Tbl soy sauce. Everything should be sizzling, stir quickly. Toss in snap peas, cook 1 minute. Toss in chopped and rinsed greens. Once all is bright green and softened add in cooked rice (about a cup), and a little more sesame oil for flavor. At this point you can shake in a little red chili flakes, garlic powder, fish sauce, or chili oil to enhance the flavors. When everything is done and nice and hot make room in the middle of the pan for some egg. Break the egg in the middle of the hot veggies and rice and beat till cooked through.

Egg action shot

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Diet for Dogs

I had my sweet dog Lu, with me last week. Lucious is my first born, beautiful boy, whom came into my life during a previous relationship. He lives with his father most of the time, but I take him for quality time blasts, throughout the year. Lu is turning 10 this year on September 21st (my due date coincidently), and we have been looking into Holistic Vets to take him to, for an "old man" check up.

In our search we came across a vet who focuses on diet and food based supplements as the cure for many dog afflictions. Reading over her information, I realized how much sense this made, and I almost felt a little silly for not recognizing the link before this. It makes sense for humans, certainly makes sense for cows, and of course it would make sense for our domesticated animal friends.

Lucious has had chronic ear infections since he was a puppy. We always thought it was because he had big beagle ears that held moisture. In the last few years he has started to break out in chronic skin rashes, as one goes away, another will arise. Again, we weren't sure what to attribute this to, and although we would treat it topically, we knew somehow it was an internal condition. If it was a child who had chronic skin ailments we would look to food first, but for some reason both Dan and I (both Health Counselors) overlooked this for our pup.

Dry dog food is esentially cereal for dogs, highly processed, grain based, dry (no water content) food that has been heated to such high temperatures that any nutritional value before processed is now stripped. Dogs are carnivores and therefore need to eat meat, ideally raw meat (though there is controversy there as well). Their systems are not designed to digest grain and therefore "hot spots", ear infections, and skin rashes are all too common. This was music to Lu's ears, to learn that there was a solution and our poor pup could stop suffering. Dan will now be making all of his food. He will get mixed organ meats, green vegetables, and meat scraps with bone powder, fish oil, and sea vegetables, to make mineral and nutrient rich meals to heal our dog and keep him happy in his old age. This experience has opened my eyes. This, another way our modern conveniences has taken just a little bit of "something" from our lives, and our poor animals lives.