About mycookinglifebypatty

Been cooking all my life and loving the way I can create big effects by creating delicious and healthy food. Most of the things I would want to say "about me" will be in my blogs!

A Day in Corrales and a Vegan Lunch

My husband picked a beautiful day to take us to Corrales, New Mexico where we took a tour of artists’ studios.

New Mexico is chock full of artists and while you’ve probably heard about the art colonies in places like Taos or Santa Fe, every New Mexican town—large or small—has a cache of wonderful local art. Corrales, or should I say “Corraleans” call their place a village. I suppose with only 7300 people that is true.

The tour included 75 artists which was more than we could manage to visit in one day. As we drove through the village, we saw Villa Acequia, an historic building circa 1862 on Corrales Road. There they had a sampling of all the artists’ work so you could decide which ones to visit. We didn’t want to be that organized. We just wandered around all day but we did stop into this Villa. It was shaping up to be a very warm day.

ENTRANCE TO VILLA ACEQUIA
EASIL
BATHROOM SLASH WINE CELLAR
wine in the bathroom

We’re flirting with summer over here in New Mexico. I was fascinated with these shadows on the front walkway of Villa Acequia. Inside was beautiful too. The owner recently restored this historic building and isn’t sure yet what he’s going to do with it. I thought it would be a beautiful place for a wedding or an event. Inside was all the art and a lot of information. I didn’t photograph art but I did photograph a lovely easel I found inside. This is not an unusual objet d’art, I know, but it was inviting me to come try my hand at painting! I also took several photos of this:   This is the restroom/wine cellar.  Ladies, did you bring your corkscrew when going into the facilities?

We really only got around to seeing about a dozen of the seventy-five artists. We found several that we truly admired including a family of photographers, a glass infusion artist, and wonderful potters.  My Hubbin’ bought me a beautiful pottery serving plate made by Sandy Lipka. You will see more about that when I feature it in a cooking post!

Of course, we got hungry. We went to one of the small, gourmet restaurants in the village (there are many) called The Indigo Crow Cafe. Indigo Crow Cafe is by no means a vegetarian or vegan restaurant but they do feature several suitable choices on their menu. More and more restaurants are doing that these days.

PORTOBELLO SANDWICH 1
FLOWERING CACTUS

My Hubbin’ opted for Sunday Brunch and I chose a portabello mushroom sandwich which was excellent! Unlike most I’ve had, they do not smother it with cheese and it was not in the least bit oily so the mushroom and vegetables actually stayed in the sandwich instead of sliding out of the multi-grain ciabatta..   This was perfectly refreshing and satisfying! It was a lovely day in Corrales!

It’s Breakfast Time!

SCRAMBLED TOFU BREAKFAST

Good Morning!

cooking game logo

A big part of The Healthy Cooking Game is that in order to play like the pros, you need to start finding out what foods do for you.  

Huh?  What foods do? Don’t they get somewhat chewed up and digested and, voila! You don’t need any more for a little while?

Yes. Yes, that’s right in the most basic sense. But there’s so much more to know! Take breakfast for instance. If you eat eggs, do you know what they do for you?

The Incredible Edible Egg website says an egg has about 6.2 grams of protein, 4.8 grams of fat (1.6 of that is saturated), 186 grams of cholesterol and a few vitamins and minerals. But the nutritional data is not the only thing I’m talking about.

Eggs are a very concentrated food. After all, a fertilized egg is the beginning of an entire chicken. Technically speaking, you could consider an egg to be a whole food for that reason. When a food is so concentrated with fat and protein, it takes much longer to digest and in order for your body to really break it down to become useful, you’ve got to be able to balance that egg with things that help with that breakdown and assimilation. (Cruelly, bacon, hash browns and pancakes with butter and syrup just don’t do the trick.)

I would think that in order to create BALANCE with an egg, you would eat at least 3-4 times the volume of dark leafy greens and other vegetables. You might want to know what veggies are really great for helping to break down that fat, too. Like shiitake mushrooms and daikon radish. Or that throwing in some ginger, onions and garlic could be helpful.

But are you sure you would want to eat that egg? Lately I’ve been very concientious about not eating foods that are genetically modified (GMO). You probably know that corn and corn products are big GMO foods unless they’re organic or officially labeled “non-GMO.”

Try going to the natural food store and finding eggs that you can be 100% certain have not come from chickens who were fed any GMO corn or other feed. You’ll see all kinds of “free-range,” “naturally fed,” and “from down on the farm.”  In order to be truly GMO-free, your egg has got to be organic and so does the chicken it came from and so does the food the chicken ate. They are there on the shelves too, for a price. You’ve really got to read that carton to be sure what you’re getting!

Why not skip all that worry and have your scramble and your balance?

Scrambled Tofu

Serves Two

  • 8 oz of firm organic tofu (I prefer sprouted tofu—very digestible)
  • 1 large shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 cup of diced yellow summer squash
  • 1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley
  • tumeric
  • red chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

Put about a tablespoon of olive oil into a heavy skillet and let it start heating up while adding the shallots. Add a pinch of sea salt here to bring out the flavor of the shallots. When the shallots are translucent and pretty soft (they will have a very sweet taste cooked this way) add your diced yellow squash and another pinch of salt and stir fry that for a minute or two.

Add the tumeric – about a half teaspoon. The tumeric will release a bright yellow color and you want that because when you add your tofu, it will become yellow too—just like scrambled eggs!

Take your tofu and squish it up with your hands so it looks like scrambled eggs and drop it into the pan. I love adding the chili pepper flakes at this point. Season the tofu with some sea salt. Stir the tofu around until it has become a lovely, “eggy” color.

Throw in the parsley at the end and turn off the heat. The parsley will cook a tiny bit with the heat already in the pan/food but will stay bright green. So pretty!

And what, hopefully you are asking, will scrambled tofu DO for me?

Four oz of tofu—such as one serving of this delicious recipe—contains about 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and zero cholesterol! (Sorry egg people, you’re just not all that incredible.)  Tofu has many phytonutrients and known minerals and vitamins naturally occurring. Tofu is also highly digestible and won’t take hours like the egg will. (Note though, that soy beans are another crop that is pretty much across-the-board GMO unless it is certified organic.)

And the rest? Veggies including green parsley for additional vitamins and minerals and blood-cleansing chlorophyl. Plus fiber! Sea salt cooked in the food and not added on top of food at the table helps break down the food and make it taste sweeter and more delicious. Turmeric is well-known as a super hero in fighting inflammation. Plus it contributes a lovely yellow color! Chili pepper flakes are one of my favorite ways to get a little hot taste and help get the ol’ circulation going.

Talk about Breakfast of Champions!

The Healthy Cooking Game

cooking game logo

In the healthy cooking game, there is no such thing as “running out of ideas for meals.” 

When I look at the various ways people eat, one of the first things I notice is that when you include or base your meals on whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, there is an infinity of things you can create. I myself have not eaten the exact same dinner twice in decades except for a few favorites that I intentionally repeat.

Seem like an exaggeration?  It’s not! I Googled “how many edible vegetables are there?” Most sites I found such as Ask.com and wiki.answers just said “thousands” as in—too many to count. One website points out that there are over 4,000 varieties of tomatoes alone.

The point is that you will never run out of interesting and unique combinations of grains, veggies, fruits and beans. (Ask.com says over 400,000 varieties of beans) You’ll never run out of new ways to put foods together!

Just for comparison I checked how many types of animals for eating there are. Couldn’t find a definitive answer or even an estimate. I did find a lot of places where the discussion was mainly cows, pigs and lambs chickens, turkeys, plus dog, horse, guinea pig, rabbit, squirrels, buffalo, elk, deer and I’m sure there are others. But the fact that I can pretty much list them out here should tell you something. There are quite a few more edible fish and sea life and that extends the list of choices much further.

The different preparations and cooking methods also have to be considered as do the use of seasonings, spices and herbs which change the taste and presentation of food. (By the way, when I say “cook,” I’m really saying “food preparation”: and I include raw and fermented foods in “cooking.”)

No matter what kinds of food you are eating—meats, no-meats, vegetarian, vegan, etc.—eating a wide variety of foods made different ways has never been easier.

In the cooking game, the freedoms we have are enormous. One freedom is that we have fast shipping of foods from any part of the world. If it is winter in your hemisphere, you can get summer fruits and veggies from the other hemisphere.  It’s right there in your food store.

The ability to procure foods from anywhere in the world seems so convenient.  Except that it makes it so easy to ignore an important condition for healthy cooking:

BALANCE

There’s a lot of ways to look at balance. In the healthy cooking game, it means that you are  choosing, preparing and eating food in the best possible way in order to fulfill your goals and purposes for eating.

Say what?

That is a very broad statement, I know. But the concept of “balanced diet” or “balanced cooking” covers every aspect of this part of health and living. Balance is something to achieve no matter what kind of food you choose to eat. I will talk about balance more but for now I’m talking about choosing which of the gazillions of possible foods, combinations, seasonings and cooking methods should you use for “balance?”

Think about how things were less than 100 years ago. We could not easily get foods from other parts of the world. We did not go to SUPER markets to shop. Most people had their own garden, access to locally grown foods only at their market, and what was there to purchase was also in season.

If you lived in Minnesota and it was January, you didn’t see fresh pineapple in the market or growing outside in your garden. And if you did get hold of some tropical foods and eat them in Minnesota during the winter, you would have a harder time staying warm. Because tropical fruits balance the hot climates in which it grows. They make one cooler!

Why would you start eating foods that for the most part are in season and grow in your area or climate and forego the flown-in rambutan from Queensland? Because foods that grow in your area and in season are already naturally balanced for your environment! How much easier could it be to know what foods are generally in good balance with your climate where you are living?

rambutan 2

Rambutan is a tropical fruit is native to Southeast Asia.

In the Healthy Cooking Game, we have the freedom of an international selection of foods at our fingertips and we have the challenge of balancing our food choices so we make the most of our ability to create the effect we desire with our meals.

More to follow.

Another Pretty Thing

Finding pretty things for spring is what I do—in the clothing store, on my outdoor ventures and in my kitchen. Here’s another pretty thing I whipped up for a whole-grain salad. This time I chose a gorgeous ripe mango to make a piquant sauce for quinoa and black bean salad.

MANGO SAUCE ON QUINOA SALAD

Sweet and Sour Mango Sauce

Find a ripe, un-bruised mango and remove the meat. Throw the mango into a high-speed blender or food processor with juice of half a lemon, a pinch of sea salt and a flavored white balsamic vinegar of your choice. (I used a Hawaiian coconut white balsamic and it was absolutely fabulous!) If you don’t have a flavored vinegar, it is still going to be delish with just a well-aged white balsamic.

The quinoa salad is simply cooked quinoa, black beans, celery, red onion and quite a bit of parsley. I know you’ll improvise here as well!

The outcome? Couldn’t get enough of this! It was nearly gone before I even had a chance to take a picture.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN 2

How do you make the upside down come upside right?

Easy!

Though I am not much of a baker, birthdays are the exception and we recently celebrated my Hubbin’s with his favorite—pineapple upside down cake.  I’m not one to indulge in a normal cake what with all the icing and sugar. Not that I am never tempted by sugar desserts but I really don’t like all that cloying sweetness in a cake.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • One batch of yellow cake recipe (But we are going to make a few changes for this recipe. Keep reading.)
  • Six pineapple rings. I used organic canned pineapple in water, not syrup.
  • Dark Cherries
  • 1 1/2 cups organic pineapple juice
  • sea salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 3-6 tablespoons arrowroot

The cake mix part is pretty easy. Choose whatever recipe you wish. I use this one from Christina Pirello’s website and then I alter it to suit. My alterations included using 1/2 cup of semolina flour with the cup and a half of whole wheat pastry flour to make a lighter batter; using additional flour because I’m in a high altitude; and I used a bit more baking powder also for lightness. An upside down cake is going to be very moist and heavy so these adjustments are needed.  I also added a little tumeric—not enough to affect the flavor but, along with the semolina flour, it made a yellow cake color.

Flavor-wise, I substituted a little pineapple juice in the liquid for flavor and I added zest from a half lemon.

Now for the upside down part. Oil a medium size baking dish or cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper (I use unbleached) and arrange pineapple rings on the bottom. In a sauce pan, heat up pineapple juice, sea salt and rice syrup and get it bubbling gently. Mix the arrowroot in cold water and stir it in. Use as much as it takes to make a very thick sauce. Add the lemon juice and zest from the other half of the lemon.

I let this sauce cool a little to make sure it was really thick but not going to turn into a solid gel. I also didn’t want to pour the cake mix over really hot sauce. Once cooled, pour your sauce over the pineapple rings and spread evenly. Then pour your cake mix over that.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. This is a little more baking than the basic cake recipe calls for because you’ve got a lot of moisture in the pan and you do want the cake to be done in the middle. The cake will be slightly brown around the edges and will come out clean if you stick a knife into the middle of it (not down to the pineapple part—that should be gooey)

Let the cake cool, loosen the side with a knife and turn it out. Decorate with the cherries or whatever you want to use and voila—Upside down comes right side up!

Cauliflower Cassoulet

Hello!  Spring is here and I have emerged from hibernation. Over the last three months we have been moving our household and getting the new place set up. I am loving my new kitchen that actually has counter space, cabinet space, pantry space and a lot of other great features.

I’ve been inspired, cooking-wise to create some new things! Here is a great dish for transitioning from winter to spring. It has just enough warmth and comfort food quality to satisfy when the air chills at night and just enough lightness and freshness to energize us.

Cauliflower Cassoulet

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 cups chopped fresh parsely
  • 1-2 shallots
  • 2-3 tablespoons sweet white miso
  • 1 umeboshi plum
  • whole wheat bread crumbs (or if you can’t eat wheat, use roughly ground almonds or non-gluten crumbs)
  • herbs of choice–I used oregano, garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, crushed anise seeds, celery seeds
  • olive oil
  • (Optional) vegan shredded mozarella
CAULIFLOWER CASSOULET INGREDIENTS

I started out with a head of cauliflower I wanted to use and looked through my refrigerator and pantry for some likely ingredients. I decided on a tofu cream sauce, shallots and parsley. On the left there are umeboshi plums–a Japanese traditional pickled plum that has both a salty and a sour taste. On the right in the little tub is sweet white miso–another traditional Japanese delight made with fermented soybeans.

TOFU CREAM SAUCE

Combine a package of firm tofu with 2-3 tablespoons of sweet white miso and the meat of an umeboshi plum. If you don’t want to try umeboshi plums, you can substitute a bit of red wine vinegar and a little sea salt. Blend these up until you have a creamy sauce. You can add a little water if the mixture seems too thick.

SWEAT THE SHALLOTS

Slice 1 or 2 shallots and put them into a hot pan with some olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. You just need to sweat them a little. They glisten with the oil but will not be completely limp.

CAULIFLOWER WITH SHALLOT AND PARSLEY

Blanch pieces of cauliflower for a minute or two, chop up parsley and add the cooked shallots.  Oil a casserole or baking dish and put the veggies in.

CUSTOM BREAD CRUMB TOPPING

Customize your bread crumb topping. I used whole wheat bread crumbs and seasoned it with salt, pepper and herbs/spices of choice. I prefer seasoning bread crumbs myself so I can control the amount of salt and the taste. Can’t do whole wheat? Try topping with roughly ground almonds or gluten-free bread crumbs.

READY FOR THE OVEN

Pour your tofu cream sauce evenly over the veggies.

Sprinkle the crumb topping over the top of the cassoulet.

You’re ready to bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and everything is all bubbly good.  The last five minutes of baking, I added a sprinkle of vegan shredded mozarella. Vegan cheeses don’t appeal to me a great deal but they look nice as a garnish sometimes and they help when your family is transitioning away from dairy foods. Just know that vegan cheese is basically congealed oil and doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own.

FINISHED

Finished! Very delicious and very satisfying served with a salad.

Under De-Construction

Nothing like moving your household to disrupt things thoroughly! Not that I’m complaining. This is a move I’ve been waiting for a long, long time! My husband and I have finally decided to put apartment life in the past and we are buying a home of our own. (WAIT ’til I show you my new kitchen!!!)

Christmas packages have been replaced with boxes. Cupboards and drawers are starting to be emptied. Blogging time is mostly replaced with dekludging time. And more dekludging time, and still more . . . Nothing better than moving to take the opportunity to get rid of some of the burden!

With my schedule, there is only less than a day each week to get everything done. Cooking has become fast and minimal. Nothing fancy, just something to eat. Not exactly your gourmet, unique, photo-worthy delicacies. Not the kind of thing you blog about.

Or is it? Last fall I started to write a post that I called, “What you don’t see.” It was going to be about our day to day fare that isn’t special or unusual—just all the things that are made and eaten in between the masterpieces.

Now seems like the perfect time to share these with you while I pack and tape and label my material life. Cookbooks are in a box and shortly so will be most of the utensils and dishes. Life and menus are literally under deconstruction. But we still have to eat, don’t we?

BASIC MISO SOUP PAINT

Miso soup—the breakfast of healthy champions! This is absolutely one of the rock solid foundations of our daily fare. Alkalizing, loaded with beneficial bacteria from naturally fermented miso (as long as you don’t boil this soup), and a great way to use up bits of veggies you have in your refrigerator. This one has some red radishes that needed using. Takes just a few minutes and I usually make enough for the next few mornings. I’ve given the recipe for Miso Soup before, so I’ll just post the link here.

When I Was Supermom

I don’t know why I never thought to tell you this story before. It certainly is a “My Cooking Life” story. Probably because whenever I think about it, it kind of freaks me out. But then I also wonder at how I managed to get myself and my three little boys out of that scary situation.

Daily Prompt asks todayDaily Prompt: Daring Do. Tell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. What happened? How did you prevail?

I had just gone to the local co-op in Atlanta, Georgia and the Buick Skylark was loaded with a ton of groceries, one boy in the front seat of the car with me and two more younger boys in car seats in the back.

We all piled in and worked our way through the side streets to the highway to go home. It was a hot and sultry afternoon and I wanted to get my food home quickly and get it into the refrigerator. I remember the organic strawberries had been on sale and I had bought a lot of them.

As I merged onto the highway I sped up. I’m not a timid driver, but I never usually went over the speed limit either especially with my precious babies in the car with me. I guess I was trying to get home awfully fast, I thought, as I looked at the rising dial on the speedometer.

I slowed just a little—or at least I thought I would. That ol’ Buick had a mind of its own! It continued to accelerate. Another pump of the brakes. Still speeding faster and faster. A serious push on the brakes. The car was only barely kept in check, yet the brakes did seem to be working.

The boys in the back were nodding off in their seats. The boy in the front was chattering away. The Mom driving was starting to panic as she realized the car was accelerating on its own and not stopping.

As we zoomed down the highway, which was not very busy, I continued trying to slow down and maneuvered the car down the road realizing that soon it was time to get off the highway and back onto regular streets. Streets that had slow-moving cars and stop lights.

I picked my exit—one that went sort of flat for a short distance before there was a stop light and then, if you go right, there’s a big hill. There was nothing to do but take the exit and try it. I could see that there was no traffic, no cars.

“Ramp speed 30 miles per hour” the sign said. Not us! We would exit at over 70 miles per hour.

I glanced back at the two sleeping babies in my back seat and over to my boy in the front. Not sure if he realized something was wrong but he was about to.

I unbuckled my seat belt as we traveled the exit ramp and stood up the best I could in my car while driving down the road. I was putting all my weight onto my brakes which were now only slowing us down because of my physical pressure.

The light was green and I made a right onto a very steep hill still standing on my smoking brakes. I don’t know how I did it so fast without thinking, but I chose a spot to get off the road and stop the car. It was a small group of stores and they were on another pretty steep hill and there was a very long driveway going from the lot to behind the buildings.

I took it. The car slowed enough and I pulled on the emergency brake and brought us to a stop.

Drenched I sat there and looked at my beautiful family. We were all awake and we were all okay. I called my neighbor and she came and got us and our groceries and took us home.

We feasted on strawberries that very day.

I have long since stopped wondering at how fast the whole fiasco went, how much danger we had been in, how badly it could have turned out and how—for the love of God—did I come up with that maneuver on the spot and keep us out of a wreck?

There’s no figuring it out. There was no time to think. I just acted and I clearly recall the feeling of knowing what I was doing and knowing I could make that instant plan work.

English: Strawberries at a market.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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Creamy Celery Root Soup

Sometimes when you meet a new vegetable, you take one look and think you know what it’s going to be like.

Take this celery root for example. This is the same one we saw last week.

CELERY ROOT CLOSE UP

Interesting looking . . . different in a big brown sort of way . . . not something you’re supposed to actually cook, right?

Yes!! Yes!! It is something you’re supposed to cook—eat—and you’ll love it!

Creamy Celery Root Soup

  • Two or three large celery roots (AKA celeriac)
  • Mirepoix (fine diced onions, celery and carrots)
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of crushed anise seeds
  • coconut milk
  • soup stock of choice

Peel all the brown skin off the celery root and remove any dark spots or ingrown roots. Cut the peeled roots into 1-inch chunks.  Steam the celery root in a little water until it is tender. Blend the steamed celery roots with a little coconut milk. I use a power blender to get a super creamy consistency but any blender will work fine as long as you blend it long enough.

Saute the mirepoix in olive oil and sea salt and add some soup broth – start with about a cup.  I used a simple broth of kombu seaweed simmered in spring water because I wanted a mild broth that would not overwhelm the taste of the celery root.  Add in the garlic, the anise seeds. Add more salt, pepper, broth and or coconut milk until you get your desired thickness and taste.

You will have the richest, thickest soup with a sweet and delicate flavor!

CELERY ROOT SOUP

Shocking Celebrity Sighting!

Today’s Daily Prompt asks:  Scour the news for an entirely uninteresting story. Consider how it connects to your life. Write about that.

Have you seen MSN or Yahoo home pages where they shout various hot stories at you? There’s always some celebrity gossip available and usually none too flattering. These don’t interest me at all because I respect artists and I’m not into cabal.

The page I saw was this one:

“CELEBRITY TOOB:  3O FAIRLY SHOCKING PICTURES OF CELEBRITIES WITHOUT MAKEUP PHOTOS”

(Gotta love the redundancy here. You can tell this is high-class news reporting.) I looked these pix over and thought most of the celebs looked pretty darned okay without their glam on. Just as I was thinking they shouldn’t be too offended, I came upon picture #25. This was a celebrity I’ve known nearly all my life. One that is beloved the world over and has personally been a part of millions of lives!

I was shocked indeed! No need to tell you who she is—you’ll recognize her in an instant.

Celebrities_Without_Makeup_25

This is just wrong. Barbie deserves way more respect than this. But even so, Barbie looks amazeballs with or without her makeup, doesn’t she? (Perfect hair. How does she do it?)

Of course this connects to My Cooking Life. I was immediately reminded of something that happened just last night!

I was cruising around my natural food store late last night after work looking for some ready-to-eat dinner. I was going through the produce section on my way to the deli hot food when I spotted them.

I couldn’t believe it! Completely whole. No trimming. No preparation. No hiding their large, rough, blemished roots. One of the most famous, world-renowned celebrity ingredients in nearly every cuisine, cooking method and dietary program.

And I caught them incognito without a speck of glam!

CELERY ROOT PAINT

True culinary stars loved by all. Do you recognize them? I didn’t at first until I took a closer look.

CELERY ROOT CLOSE UP

“We’re not quite ready for our close-up, Mr. DeMille,” they exclaimed. “Don’t worry, Miss Celli, you’re gorgeous just as you are!” I answered.

I was so thrilled, I didn’t bother asking for an autograph. I swept these two off their shelf and brought them home with me. Imagine what these will look like when they’re all glammed up! Ahhh, the things you have to endure in show biz.

Stay tuned for that. . .

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