mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: zucchini

zucchini mushroom pasta for dinner . . .

DSCN0656DSCN0655I’ve been reducing the amount of red meat that we eat although it isn’t always easy. For instance, I usually use meatballs made of beef for spaghetti. Sometimes, though, I’ll rescue some zucchini from the vegetable bin and some mushrooms reaching out to be cooked: you know, still good to eat but not looking their best.

Since there was a sale this morning at the grocery store of three jars of Ragu traditional spaghetti sauce for $5, I thought I’d use half of one for dinner tonight (and freeze the rest.) Into the cart went a box of angel hair pasta as well. I already have a wedge of parmesan to grate on top when we’re ready to eat.

I trimmed the zucchini ends off, rinsed them under cold water and sliced them in three, lengthwise. Then, I piled them up on each other and cut narrow strips on a slant with a sharp knife. The mushrooms took a quick rinse also and I cut them in thick slices, sauteeing them in a little butter and oil until golden brown. I set them aside in a small dish and heated up some olive oil, cooking the zucchini on medium-high heat until they wllted slightly, sprinkling them with some Lawry’s garlic salt.

I let the cooked zucchini and mushrooms cool on the stove until it was supper time. I often do some sous-chef cooking during the day which provides a head start to putting dinner on the table. This is especially convenient on evenings that G. goes to visit his mother at the nursing home. When we’re almost ready to eat, I’ll boil a pot of water and cook up some angel hair pasta, heat up half a jar of the Ragu sauce separately and plate a couple of wood-fired pottery plates with a slight bowl to them.

The well-drained angel hair will go into the bowls first. A thin layer of sauce on top, the reheated zucchini and mushrooms on top and another ladle of sauce around the edge of the pasta. The cheese grater and chunk of parmesan goes in its own bowl for us to help ourselves at the table.

Bon Appetit!

macro-bowl #3 . . .

macro-bowl-3

So tonight, we’re branching out a little bit – from the two previous macro-bowls with freshly cooked brown/sweet rice. Instead, I’m going to cook a batch of cellophane noodles added to ground pork, soy and cooking sherry. Green onions and a little chicken broth to help it all meld together. This recipe is known as “ants crawling up a tree” – but don’t ask me why. All I know is that it’s a tasty dish that we enjoy.

At the same time that’s simmering on the stove as it cooks down, pieces of cut up chicken thighs marinated in Korean Bulgogi barbecue sauce are broiling in the oven. In a small skillet, some zucchini squash is pan fried to round out the one-bowl meal.macro-bowl-3-c

[“Ants crawling up a tree:” Soak cellphane noodles in warm water until soft. Cut into smaller pieces with a knife. Marinate a quarter cup of ground fresh pork with soy, cooking sherry and a spoonful of cornstarch. Mix well – (the cornstarch will tenderize the pork as it cooks.) Cut up a stalk or two of green onions. Heat up some vegetable oil in a skillet; brown the ground pork and separate. Add more soy, sherry and chicken broth until well mixed. Cook until all liquid is absorbed.]macro-bowl-3-b

 

 

millet! . . .

cooked millet with zucchini and onions. . .

cooked millet with zucchini and onions. . .

Well, I’ve been reading about millet for quite some time and even bought some once. I didn’t get around to trying it out though and bought a new batch this week. It’s one of those grains like barley and brown rice that macrobiotic recipes contain every once in a while. It sounded a little bland to me though, cooking it with just plain water.

All the recipes suggested that you dry toast the millet in a pan before

raw millet toasting in the pan. . .

raw millet toasting in the pan. . .

adding liquid to cook it. So, I did that and could smell the little particles moving around the pan that was heated to medium. I made a separate broth with instant dashi and a little soy to use as the cooking broth. After toasting for about 8 minutes, I added the broth, turned the heat down and put a lid on the pot to cook and simmer the millet.

cooked millet, fluffed up in the pan. . .

cooked millet, fluffed up in the pan. . .

millet-3

Meanwhile, I cut up some onion and a medium sized zucchini, stir frying it in a little olive oil until it was cooked through, adding just a little pinch of Maldon salt. I thought this vegetable mixture might go well, served on top of the millet when the grain was finished cooking.millet-2

The other part of our meal consists of roasted butternut squash – cut pieces brushed with melted butter and maple syrup before roasting in a 400 degree oven.

butternut squash glazed with butter & maple syrup. . .

butternut squash glazed with butter & maple syrup. . .

So this is as close to macrobiotic I’m going to get tonight. I’ve been reading that it would be good to cut out all animal and vegetable oils from cooking but haven’t gotten there – at least not yet.

dscn8474All I’m hoping for is that this meal will be satisfying to eat – both with regards to taste, mouth feel and satiety of our appetites. Oh yeah, tasty would be nice too!

Postscript: Our supper was very tasty – and the flavors of the zucchini, millet and glazed butternut squash went well together. We were both pleasantly surprised!

Postscript 2: With about a cup and a half of millet left over, I’m thinking about making millet croquettes for lunch tomorrow: chopped green onion, egg, parmesan cheese, shape into balls and fry in vegetable oil until crispy on both sides.

 

‘stone soup’ for lunch! . . .

stone-soup

It’s gotten a little chilly out so instead of making a salad for lunch, I decided to put together a soup from whatever I happened to have on hand in the fridge and pantry. I call this “stone soup” like the folk tale about French soldiers who stirred up a big kettle of water and put some clean “magical” stones in it. Soon, curious villagers began to contribute to the “broth”: vegetables from the root cellar, grains from the barn, sides of beef until there was a hearty soup to be shared by everyone.

This soup is somewhat like that: I found a small piece of onion and zucchini in the vegetable bin which I chopped up along with half a carrot. There were a couple of still fresh broccoli florets in a pack that was ready to be thrown out. Into the pot they went along with a can of DelMonte diced tomatoes and a Knorr beef broth packet. Added water and it looked pretty thin. Poured in a handful of raditiore pasta, the crinkled, pretty pasta that quickly expanded as it cooked.

And what do you know? I soon had a soup that looked and tasted like a true minestrone soup for lunch! Nice to have a warm bowl on a chilly Fall day.

 

“hi-protein” life! . . .

zucchini & onion in olive oil w/cheddar cheese beside a jumbo organic egg for a hi protein breakfast!

zucchini & onion in olive oil w/cheddar cheese beside a jumbo organic egg for a hi protein breakfast!

 

My birthday was this week. It’s not a big deal to me and serves primarily as an internal milestone to adjust my life in ways that are easier and more enjoyable. So instead of waiting for New Year’s to make resolutions, I decided to make some on that day. Short and simple:

  1. DO more and buy less! (speaks volumes, doesn’t it?)
  2. Use cash for food and shop 2X a week!
  3. Read, write, play the piano and listen to music a lot!
  4. Avoid toxic people (most important for true well-being)
  5. Live fully (mindfully) and give thanks . . . every day!

That’s about it. I was tempted to put down stuff about losing a little weight or exercising but that’s so boring. But one thing I did think about this morning was what best to have for breakfast that was hi-protein, low carb, low sugar and most important – appetizing for me to eat on a regular basis.

There’s a lot to read about this topic online and some of the suggestions were either way too fussy (frittatas! eggs in avocadoes!) or expensive to make. I remembered that I had some leftover zucchini in the fridge and had just bought some jumbo organic eggs at the farmers market the other day. So I took a small frying pan, added olive oil and sauteed some chopped vidalia onion and the zucchini. Grated some fine Kerrygold cheddar cheese on top after it was cooked and fried one of those eggs with a huge yolk beside it.

It smelled wonderful and tasted even better with a sprinkling of Maldon salt and cracked pepper on top of everything. A cup of black coffee topped it off! I was so happy to discover this combination which was hiding right under my nose in the fridge! It’s not as high in cholesterol as bacon/sausage with the egg and tastier than a scrambled egg by itself. And no fruit that contains grams of carbs and sugar, no oatmeal, grits or toast, no English or corn muffins. Breakfast is my favorite meal and the carb/sugar restrictions have made it challenging since the aforementioned grains all contained high carbs along with fruit juice and fresh fruit full of carbs AND sugar!

Not anymore though with veggies and a sprinkling of cheese served with eggs. Fresh baby spinach would be good too – I even think a small braised endive with fried egg might be delicious for New Year’s Day breakfast tomorrow!

braised endive and egg with cheddar cheese

braised endive and egg with cheddar cheese

So, on New Year’s Eve, here’s to a new, repeatable hi-protein breakfast concept paired with a higher-nourishing lifestyle. . . and to living with more verve, relaxation and FUN in 2016!

tastes . . .

DSC_0127

I feel like I’ve been on a quest for Jason’s golden fleece these past few weeks. You know, go out and rescue yourself by seeking a noble impossibility. Well, it hasn’t been that bad but there have been a lot of dead ends. Expensive too when considering a new pantry of ingredients, some of which I’m not sure I’ll use again. But, that’s what trial and error means, I guess.

As described in the past few posts, I’ve gone from one extreme (foodie Paleo) to another (strict Vegan) and come out somewhere in the middle: “Pegan.” However, the one guiding principle that I intuitively adhere to during this wayward journey is that if the food doesn’t taste good to my palate and it isn’t something that I truly like to eat, then, it’s a wayward journey and not one that will be sustainable. It’s like travelling on vacation somewhere and you just don’t like the cuisine. Even if it’s good for you, you won’t keep wanting to eat it.

So.

Today, a volume in my bookshelf caught my eye called “Crisp” published by Marie Claire, the magazine. It’s a beauty to look at with imaginative, many Asian-inspired recipes for simple bites of delicious looking, light fare. Given what I’ve learned in the past few weeks, sugar and flour can be substituted with agave nectar or stevia and I now have gluten-free flour in the pantry. Most of the recipes are fresh vegetables and small amounts of protein. The difference between this approach and “Eat to Live” (Joel Fuhrman’s cookbook) for example, is that it doesn’t feel medicinal or health-food-like at ALL. It also doesn’t require a five inch list of ingredients either.

“Crisp” is beautifully photographed, contains few-ingredient recipes, and approaches healthy foodie in a good way. Finally. A “Pegan-Foodie” blend that doesn’t break the bank when going to Trader Joe’s. I am going to wait a few days to go to ANY grocery store until there’s more room in the fridge now containing kale, collard greens, zucchini, broccoli.

Tonight, I’m going to try a recipe from Julie Morris’s book, “Superfood Kitchen” for supper: zucchini “linguine” with onions, dulse (seaweed) and walnuts. A salad of butter lettuce, english cucumber and red onions with a ginger vinaigrette.

That sounds good, doesn’t it?

 

 

tried and true . . .

chicken dinnerOne of the tried-and-true favorite dishes i like to make (and we enjoy eating) is teriyaki chicken thighs. I’ve made it using a bottled marinade (Soy Vay.) But it comes out fresher and lighter (less salty) with a marinade I put together about an hour and half before broiling. This goes well for chicken cooked on the first grill of the season too.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons Ohsawa soy sauce, 2 tablespoons Billy Bee honey, 2 tablespoons cooking sherry (Holland House); a chopped up fresh green onion and a generous amount of grated fresh ginger root (on a box grater.) It will smell heavenly.marinating chicken

Rinse the chicken thighs under cold water and dry each one thoroughly with paper towels. I always do this and do not take the pieces directly from vacuum packaging to the marinade. No excess water should be left on the pieces because it dilutes the marinade. I cover the marinating chicken with a plate on top of the bowl at room temperature for about an hour or so.

To cook, heat the broiler to high and place the oven rack a third of the way down from the broiler. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and spray with Pam. The pan should hold the number of thighs you are cooking so that they are close enough for the juices to run together but not so far apart that the pieces dry out during cooking. If the pan is too close to the heat source, it burns rather than cooking the chicken; if it’s too far away, you’ll be drying out the chicken rather than crisping it up. Take a look part way through and check this proportion of space and the level of heat you’re getting from your broiler.

Broiling chicken takes a little closer watching than baking, but with the soy marinade, baking can sometimes dry out the meat too quickly. I just keep an eye on broiling chicken while I’m cooking the rest of the meal.mushrooms and zucchini

zucchini and onionWith it, I like to serve sauteed zucchini with a half an onion sliced diagonally in slivers. I use olive oil and sprinkle the cooked squash with a little Maldon salt. Tonight I’m also going to cook up a packet of Minnesota wild rice (Carolina brand) with big bits of button mushrooms browned in a little unsalted butter, then added on top of the wild rice once the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. It’s Sunday, after all, right? Now, all I have to do is get to my walker in order to find the rice in the pantry.

Even though it sounds like a straightforward meal to put together, I’m lucky to have G. help me with various steps, washing pots and bowls as they are emptied, taking hot food off the burners and serving it onto our dinner plates. He’s had a number of piano moves and tunings today so it’s been a full day of work for him.

It’s nice to finally sit down to a tried-and-true meal together on a sunny, windy Spring night.

wild rice and mushrooms