Saturday, July 9, 2016

Lentil Salad Plus Leftovers = Lunch



My favorite way of eating beans during the hot summer months is in salads, and lentil salad, although not so pretty on its own, is quite delicious and quick to make.

As I go through the week, I like to build off of the previous day, incorporating yesterday's leftovers into today's meal that will have one freshly made dish. This way I'm not cooking everything from start to finish every day, can often put a really nice meal together in a half hour, but I'm always serving something fresh along with leftovers.

On Tuesday, I had leftover rice and cooked greens from the day before. While I worked in my office in the morning, I cooked the lentils and let them cool. When it was time to start making lunch I chopped the vegetables for the lentil salad, mixed the dressing in with the lentils and vegetables, made rice pilaf with the leftover rice and - voila - lunch was ready. Prep time not counting the time the lentils were cooking while I worked was probably about 20 minutes.

Wednesday I used the rice pilaf and made sesame green beans, and blanched some daikon and kale for side dishes.

And the following day, I had leftover lentil salad but didn't want to serve the exact same meal we had had two days before so I made couscous pilaf out of the couscous left from Sunday dinner.

Planning and cooking this way allows you to observe the rhythm of the week and to make adjustments according to the weather, time of year, activities, and any number of other considerations that go into planning and cooking a meal. It takes practice, and I will be addressing these things in my upcoming cooking series from Life in Christ Cooking.

LENTIL SALAD

2 cups lentils picked over and rinsed
3 ½ cups water

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 medium tomatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 unwaxed cucumber, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1.     Put lentils and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, lower flame, cover and simmer until lentils are just tender (30 to 45 minutes). Thoroughly drain the lentils.
2.     While the lentils are cooking, prepare the dressing by mixing together the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper and pouring into a large bowl.
3.     Add cooked hot lentils to the dressing.
4.     Add chopped tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and parsley to the lentils and mix well. Cover and let stand in the refrigerator an hour before serving.





Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bread Salad





½ loaf coarse day-old bread
1 red onion, sliced very thin
3 large tomatoes
20 large leaves of fresh basil (1/2 cup chopped)
1 clove garlic
½ cup olive oil
2 T vinegar

1.     Cut crusts off bread and cut into chunks. Place in a bowl and cover with water. Leave for 15 minutes. Drain and squeeze the bread dry. Tear bread into rough chunks, place in a large salad bowl. You should have at least 2 cups of bread.
2.     Add onion and mix well. Cut tomatoes into large bite sized chunks and add. Chop basil and add.
3.     Mix garlic, oil, vinegar and salt in a separate bowl and mix well.

4.     Add dressing to the bread mixture and mix well. Set aside, covered in a cool place for an hour or longer.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Lenten/Vegan Pizza

I developed a taste for pizza rather late in life. I grew up in Istanbul and probably didn't even set eyes on my first pizza until high school by which time I was living in Rome. But, since I had not yet acquired a taste for cheese, Italian style pizza didn't tempt me even a little bit. And when, after college, I slung deep-dish pizzas at Gino's East for two years, I never touched the stuff I served up 30 hours a week.

I do like pizza now, both the cheesy and the non-cheesy varieties. I can't eat the cheesy variety very often without feeling ill effects, but quite enjoy the occasional dinner out with my boys sharing a large pizza. Lenten/vegan pizza is also something I can't eat a lot of, but it's quite delicious and, without the cheese, leaves me feeling less depressed and dragged down than when I have all that dairy, delicious as it may be.

The crust makes or breaks the pizza, I think. This crust is fool-proof and utterly delectable. You can make your own choice of toppings, but the fried eggplant is a great replacement for cheese. You have to work a lot harder for this pizza than you do for the one you pick up on your way home from work, but I think it's well worth the effort and, if you're missing your pizza during Lent, might ease that pain a little.

LENTEN PIZZA

Crust:

3 cups flour
½ cup very warm water
2 ½ teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup additional very warm water
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons Italian herbs (optional)

1.     Make a well in the flour. Add ½ cup warm water, yeast, honey and salt. Don’t skimp on the salt! Stir to dissolve and don’t worry if some of the flour gets into the liquid ingredients.
2.     Allow to stand 5 minutes. When it resembles a heady beer,  add the final cup of water, oil and herbs. Mix well.
3.     Knead the dough, adding enough flour to make a soft dough that doesn’t stick to your fingers (about ¼ additional flour).
4.     Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about an hour, until it about doubles.
5.     Punch the dough down, knead again for 3 to 5 minutes, and let rise for another hour. (I often skip this step if I’m pressed for time. Crust still comes out great.)
6.     Make a round ball out of the dough and shape into a round crust. Start by making a fist and placing the dough on your fist, making the dough stretch down past your fist. Keep stretching the dough until it is the right size for a round pizza pan.
7.     Brush the crust with olive oil, if desired, and then add your choice of toppings. Bake the pizza at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
            This recipe will make a thick large round crust. You can make two thinner crusts if you prefer thinner crusts. The thicker dough will take longer to bake.

Topping:

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 medium eggplant, peeled
3 fresh tomatoes, sliced thin
1 tin anchovies, diced
10 kalamata olives, diced
2 T  capers
½ red onion, thinly sliced in half moons

1.     Peel the eggplant and slice in rounds. Salt liberally, toss and let the eggplant sit at least ½ hour to draw out the bitter liquid.
2.     Oil a cookie sheet and place the sliced eggplant in a single layer on it. Brush with olive oil, and broil until the tops are lightly browned. Turn eggplant over with a spatula and brown on the other side.
3.     To assemble the pizza, spoon tomato sauce on the crust, then layer broiled eggplant, sliced tomatoes, anchovies, olives, capers and sliced onions.
4.     Bake at 350 about 20 minutes









Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bananas



According to James and Laurentine of Food Matters, bananas are a super food. Read the article, look at the picture of a vibrantly healthy and beautiful young couple and you'll want to go out and buy stock in a banana farm. These people have done their research and walk the talk.

On the other hand, here's what Denny Waxman says about bananas. His arguments are less convincing, not at all scientific, and not very eloquently presented. As the commenter below the blog says, what do elephant skins have to do with whether I should eat a banana or not?

Here's the thing. What Denny has that James and Laurentine do not is more than forty years of watching what happens to people who eat bananas, but more specifically bananas and dairy. This is a no-brainer for him, akin to watching someone walk into a door and making the correspondence between that and the bump on his head.

I've accompanied a number of people to consultations with Denny and have watched their faces when he recommends they stop eating bananas, always with a little smile, anticipating the look of bewilderment. Having paid their money for the advice, they usually follow it, and two weeks without bananas and dairy are enough to make them true believers.





Saturday, February 27, 2016

Before you have your gall bladder removed....




...try the Gall Bladder Flush.

For ten years, on a fairly regular basis, I got to stand by and watch my husband writhe in the most excruciating pain with what he had diagnosed as a duodenal ulcer. All I could do was make him hot tea with shoyu and umeboshi and wait until he stopped screaming to spoon some into his mouth. That seemed to help, and he could go for months at a time without another attack. But we were always waiting, knowing the problem was still there.

In Texas, while we were still trying to make a go at a cooking school that ultimately failed, we met a lot of wonderful Texans, one of whom had battled gall stones for years. When you teach macrobiotic cooking, conversations often turn to discussions of internal organs. In one such conversation, our friend, Connie, described her gall stone attacks, and the flush that saved her from the surgeon's knife. John was listening to her description of the pain and thought it sounded an awful lot like his "ulcer."

"Why not give the gall bladder flush a shot?" he thought out loud. He did, it worked, and he's never had an attack since.

I've shared this gall bladder cleanse recipe with a number of people since then and it works like a charm, or some might say miracle, every time.

Word for word from Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, here's the recipe:

One can often quickly purge the gall bladder of stones and other sediment with a one-day ritual commonly called the "Gall Bladder Flush." There are many variations on this, but one of the simplest and most effective is the following:

  • Beginning in the morning and throughout the day, eat only apples, preferably organic, as many as desired, but at least four or five. Apples of the green variety seem most effective, although all apples will help soften the stones. Water, herbal teas, and/or apple juice may also be taken.
  • At bed-time, warm up two thirds of a cup of virgin olive oil to body temperature and mix in one-third of a cup of fresh lemon juice. Slowly sip the entire mixture, and then immediately go to bed, lying on the right side, with the right leg drawn up. In the morning all stones should pass in the stool.
We recommend this flush be done with the guidance of an experienced and qualified health practitioner. According to ur experience, we estimate this remedy has made gallbladder operations unnecessary in thousands of likely candidates.

If you want to avoid getting gall stones again, avoid eggs and dairy. Last week when John suggested this to my favorite cashier at Whole Foods following his success with the flush, he said, "But I love eggs and cheese. And now I know what to do when I have gall stones so I don't have to stop eating my favorite foods!"

As you wish. It's up to you!





Friday, December 25, 2015

Home-Made Sauerkraut


On a brief visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico with my sister in November this year, I was sitting in my good friend, Joshua Sturgill's, living room catching up. I'm not sure why the conversation went to sauerkraut, but it did, and Joshua described how he makes sauerkraut on a regular basis in a mayonnaise jar.

I've been telling myself for years that I don't have the time, space or utensils to make sauerkraut.  You need a large crock, have to keep it in your basement for weeks, and there are all kinds of things that can go wrong with it, I thought. But there I sat in Joshua's living room listening to him tell me how he chops the cabbage, bruises it with salt and then puts it in a mayonnaise jar for a couple of weeks, pressing the cabbage down below the liquid with his hand until it's sour enough for his liking. He always has a jar of his own sauerkraut in his fridge.

So I went home and tried it myself.
Wow. It was as easy as Joshua said, and so very delicious. I made it with green cabbage the first time, and then I decided to try purple.
For texture, I prefer the green. Purple isn't quite as crunchy, but if you're looking for something to put a splash of color on your plate, it's a great thing to have handy. Those days when you find out, as I often do, that you've made a mostly beige meal, purple sauerkraut will brighten up the plate!

Here's a great sauerkraut recipe. You can follow that one or just sprinkle salt over chopped cabbage, squeeze it really hard as you cover the cabbage with salt. Place in a jar with an opening large enough for you to put your hand in to press the cabbage down.
Cover with a towel and put in a cool place. Keep pressing the cabbage down to make sure it's under the liquid. Cover it with the top and keep refrigerated when it tastes the way you want it to. Mine took about 2 weeks to become as sour as I wanted it.





Saturday, October 11, 2014

Leafy Greens




In traditional grain-centered cuisine, food qualities are used instead of scientific quantities (calories, protein, fat, vitamins etc.) to choose what goes into a meal. The beauty of this is that you can look at food and understand it without looking it up on a chart that lists its scientific breakdown.

Have a look at the vegetables pictured above. A carrot grows underground, it's hard and it's orange. The downward (yang) energy makes it more yang than Napa cabbage which grows above ground, is light green and is quite watery. A radish is round and red and grows underground, but not as far down as a carrot. It's more yin than a carrot, but more yang than Napa. Kale grows above ground, is dark green and less watery than Napa, making it more yang than Napa, but more yin than anything that grows underground. Parsnips grow underground, they're light in color, more expanded than a carrot, a little softer than a carrot, therefore a little more yin than a carrot. A cucumber grow above ground, is green and very watery. More yin than root vegetables, but more yang than greens that shoot up from the ground.

Leafy greens are an essential part of every meal in grain-centered cuisine. They provide the upward energy that we need to balance the grain and beans, and possibly other vegetable dishes that might have some oil, or are seasoned in some way. Greens are light and refreshing, and, according to  traditional understanding, they're good for the liver. The bitter taste, one of the five flavors essential for a satisfying meal (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter) is found in most greens if they are lightly cooked. If the really bitter greens like arugula are too bitter to be pleasing to eat, you can mix them with a sweeter green such as blanched Napa or bok choy which makes a really nice sweet/bitter dish.



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