Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dread-uary (link to AWESOME cookies and huevos rancheros)

It is February. Chopper refers to this month as dread-uary. The first year we were together, after a romantic summer and fall, followed by fun filled first holidays and Chopper's birthday celebration, our relationship seemed to take this sad turn. I worried things were fizzling. Then March came, the sun came out, the wind died down, and our hearts thawed.

The other night I asked Chop to help me come up with 10 things we love about February, I thought we could both use the shift in attitude. This is what we came up with over dinner, while bouncing Wes around the living room.

10 Things WE love about February
1. March is coming
2. It is the end of winter
3. Persephone's birthday is getting closer
(March 6th-this was one of Chopper's)
4. Makes us appreciate spring
5. Shortest month
6. Valentine's Day (a little color and warmth)
7. Inexpensive organic oranges (99 cents a lb!)
8. The occasional windless day
9. The Winter Farmer's Market
10. Tea, Smartwool socks, Wes' car seat sleeping bag

I have to admit the list is a bit redundant and lacking much richness- much like February.
OK the list is weak. If the best bits about a month have to do with the month ending, that probably isn't worth listing. I think what I love most about February is the blank canvas of it all-the room for possibility.

Last night, as I sat up with Wes for his 3 am feeding, my mind was keeping up with my body. What do I love about February? Perhaps I need to narrow it down. What do I love about this February? All the others are past and it is important to leave room for growth, I could easily stay in the I hate Dread-uary club but then I would never Love it, ever.

10 Things I Love about February 2010
1. These cookies

Oh my, they are nice. I think my favorite part about them besides the chocolate/peanut butter combination is that Hannah has named them Protein Cookies-so go ahead have a few (find the recipe here-so easy and yummy!!).
2. Mama-baby Yoga
We just started going and Wesley (and I) L-O-V-E love it! A room full of gooing babies and aching mama's. Take time to nurse if you need to, babies laugh, babies cry, mom gets to stretch while caring for babe, the best (and I get to leave the island for it-woo woo big city)
3. Our House
So warm and cozy. When we are there we are surrounded by our life, our memories, our energy. Our home cannot be beat (for us of course).
4. California and Georgia(!) farmer's
I would prefer to get all my produce and well-everything from as close as possible, but when you cannot. Chard from California can make a meal in February.
5. Maine Shrimp
local, wild, small, and sweet
6. 3 boat Thursdays
never have we felt such freedom
7. Valentine's Day

Modern sweethearts.

More than I enjoy celebrating it, I love watching others celebrate. I used to love in SF watching men in suits carrying roses or balloons. This past Saturday, I loved seeing the line out the door at Wholefoods- men, mouths somewhat agape (I think it was disbelief at the line), waiting to purchase flowers. Or the odd teenage boy choosing between roses and gerber daisy's. And seeing women, dressed so nice, being appreciated.
8. My green hat

When a splash of color is needed

Huevos Rancheros

This month I have regularly been indulging myself.
  • Local corn tortillas (bought at winter farmer's market-see list 1)
  • Local cheese (bought at winter farmer's market-Narragansett Creamery)
  • 1 Local egg (bought at winter farmer's market)
  • Avocado (thank you Florida farmers!)
  • Brown rice
  • Hot sauce
10. Hand me downs
My friend Rosemary has a boy (Zane is his name and so cute!) who was born in February of last year (another reason to love February), so it just happens to work out age wise, size wise and season wise-she has given us some really great things. It totally works for us two fold, we are able to provide Wes with some really fun stuff and we are recycling!

Warning: Shameless photos of my guy

Hand me down bouncy play thing. The first few times we put him it took him about 2 minutes to burst into tears. I didn't take pictures. Here he is testing the water.

Checking out the local flavor.

Boy verses frog

Getting acquainted

Bouncy time=fun time

February doesn't look so dreadful when you have a face like that to share it with.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Nut Soaking (almond milk)

Been soaking mad nuts this week. I've been waiting to say that. There is so much I know about food preparation which I am not in the habit of of practicing. Nut soaking is one of them. Grain soaking is another. I know I should soak and cook my own beans, but I have a hard time finding the patience and the space on my counter. The last time I was home, my mother was making almond milk (how lucky am I?), she sent some home with me and it was so delicious, so white, sweet, and cold- I couldn't wait to make more. Part of the reason I had never made it before was because I thought it would be very expensive to make. Turns out you need many less almonds than I had anticipated.

Mad nut soaking is happening right here.

The almonds soaked over night and then I was able to remove the skins. They pop right out of their skin. The skin is an enzyme inhibitor. This means that the skin blocks the assimilation and absorption of the vitamins and minerals in the nut. Soaking the nut, brings it to life allowing it to digest easily and more completely.

To make almond milk, blend 1 1/2 cup of soaked and skinless almonds with 3 cups of water. Blend until nuts are pureed completely and then strain through a cheese cloth. Squeeze all the excess water out of the cheese cloth getting all the milk. Add honey, agave, or blended dates to sweeten the milk (straining the date debris as well). You can also add vanilla, or even nutmeg or cinnamon to create a more dessert-y beverage.

Next up walnuts. Check out these walnuts and their amazing transformation. Again, we are removing the enzyme inhibitors and in the walnuts case, what gives them their bitter flavor. I am now officially over walnut skins and no longer want to eat a walnut with its skin intact. Without the skin they are so sweet, it's a whole new nut!

Look at that hot mess (not actually "hot"-just love the saying and it certainly is a "mess"). That is walnut water after just a few hours.

Rinsed walnuts with fresh water. This piece of skin floated to the surface. It's like snakeskin.

Look at the difference! I know it looks like some kind of cheesy science project. That is not chewed gum, it is a naked nut. Suppose it is after a fresh rain, perhaps as nature intended.

So now you have naked walnuts, what do you want to do with them? Most of us don't use walnuts for much more than texture and flavor in baking. I have a feeling once you taste a raw naked walnut you'll want to find more uses. I found this amazing recipe on my friend Ali's blog. I've made it twice in the past week and a half.

Stuffed mushrooms to die for. Definitely RUN don't walk to her blog to get the recipe. To make this cleanse friendly (well my version of the cleanse-nut friendly) I substituted the cheese with some nutritional yeast and ground flax seed, then broiled them to make a yummy crispy top. Today I made it again but with the cheese, I say they are great either way, honestly.

It's a serious meal.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday frittata

Scenes from an urban farmer's market. This particular urban farmer's market is extremely busy and usually pretty congested, this makes it that much more fun, but also that much more difficult to really get in there and get a good picture (I highly suggest checking out some better photo's here, especially for all you RI-ers who haven't made the trip yet). Chop was quick and caught this one as we ran into friends. These are friends from the island whom were also in our birth class, so Wes met their daughter in utero, they are very close.

Potato shopping. I bought some beautiful red potatoes that even have red centers. I liked them so much I bought some this week as well- recipes to follow.

This dude was selling fresh herbs and pea greens. For 4 bucks you can get a big container of pea greens (seen to the left of the photo). They are great in salads, omelettes, pesto or stir fry. Add them to your smoothie if you dare.

All this shopping was to prepare for a brunch with friends. Our table all set and ready to go. On the menu this beautiful Sunday morning was spinach salad, sweet and red potato frittata, quiche lorraine, and cranberry loaf. Everything was delicious and the company was spirited to say the least.

The company.

This was a big day, Wesley rolled over for the first time. The joke was he was showing off for the ladies, but I say not my boy-he's very talented but modest as well.

Though I don't have any pictures of it, I would like to share the frittata recipe here. A frittata is a great way to make up a nutritious breakfast for the week (if it can last that long). Also a good use for all those roasted veggies you have left over.

10 eggs
3-4 red potatoes
2-3 sweet potatoes
1 onion (or shallots if you're feeling saucy)
goat cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper
rosemary, thyme, any other fresh herbs you'd like

Clean, slice and toss potatoes and onion with herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil till their coated.
Roast 25-30 minutes at 425*
Let cool as you beat the 10 eggs (I cooled mine in the freezer. Cheater cheater)
Mix the eggs with the veggies and goat cheese (as much as you'd like)
Coat a 9-10 inch cast iron skillet or baking dish with a generous amount of olive oil and heat till it just starts to smoke.
Pour the eggs and veggies in the pan and cook for a minute or two in the hot oil (this will hopefully keep it from sticking by creating a nice crust.
Put frittata in oven at 350* for about 20-30 minutes or until firm in the middle

Slice and eat warm or at room temp. yummmmmmmmmmmm.