Thursday, January 7, 2010

Queen of Sheba

In celebration of our anniversary this week, Ben asked me to make Julia Childs' Queen of Sheba cake. I am anxious to cut out a sliver, but he tells me that I must wait until after our celebratory dinner of sushi at Ebisu. I have reluctantly agreed. When I finish dinner and enjoying our day, I promise to post the original recipe. Surely, it will be amazing.

P.S. Dinner was great. Below is one of the rolls we ate. The Queen of Sheba cake did not disappoint. In fact, we ate the whole thing. Oops.

Peanut, Peanut Butter...n Jelly!

Second on my all-time favorites list of breakfast dishes is peanut butter and jelly. That's right...breakfast. But, have you ever read the label on the back of a jar of Skippy, Peter Pan etc. What is that stuff? Since processed peanut butter is out in 2010, the homemade version had to be made right away! Making peanut butter is actually very easy -- not quite as fast as ripping off the foil seal of a store-bought jar, but almost.

2 cups shelled, skinless peanuts
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons canola oil

1. Set the oven to 350 degrees.
2. On a rimmed baking sheet, roast the peanuts for 40 minutes or until they begin to color and glisten. Remove from the oven, and cool until the peanuts are room temperature.
3. Pour the peanuts into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Put the lid on, and run for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. Pour in canola oil. Process the peanuts and oil for 1 minute; scrape down the sides of the bowl. Run the machine for 1 additional minute.
5. Scrape into a small jar and refrigerate. (The oil may separate out. Simply stir it back in before serving.)

Pictured here with Ben's homemade Huckleberry jelly.

Sloppy Joes

Nothing says comfort food like Sloppy Joes. Why not make it healthier by substituting lean ground buffalo for the beef and serving it on homemade sourdough rolls? Grass-fed buffalo is higher in Omega-3s (an essential fatty acid) than grain-fed cattle, balancing your Omega-6s. Unbalanced levels of Omega-6s may lead to heart disease, inflammatory diseases, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and behavioral disorders. Sourdough rolls make a better alternative to white hamburger buns since the acid in the starter lowers the glycemic index rating. Some day, when I am feeling particularly ambitious, I will post a sourdough recipe.

For this dish, use a jalapeno if you like things spicy. To mellow your joe, choose a poblano or a green bell pepper instead. We like to grind our own spices, but you may use a pinch each of ground clove, allspice and black pepper. We served them with Molly Wizenberg's pickled carrots (pictured above). The combination was pure ecstasy.

Serves 2-4, depending on how sloppy you like your joe

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1/2 pound ground buffalo
1 clove
5 allspice berries
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon ground dried chili
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon mustard (we made our own - recipe to come)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 roma tomatoes, cored and pureed in a blender
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2-4 sourdough or hamburger buns, split horizontally

1. Grind clove, allspice berries, and black peppercorns. Reserve.
2. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.
3. Add meat, breaking it up with a spoon. Cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes or until meat is browned.
4. Add ground clove, allspice, pepper, and dried ground chili. Stir.
5. Add honey, mustard, vinegar, and tomato puree. Stir well. Bring liquids to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.
6. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, if you like.
7. Distribute filling amongst buns.

Sloppy Joe Potatoes on Foodista

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One More Step in Controlling the Processes

As most of you know (Suzan!), I have a serious -- read grave -- sparkling water obsession. For a long time, I have sought a way to reduce my carbon footprint and still feed my addiction. A while back, I read an article by Marian Burros in the NY Times discussing the merits of home carbonation systems. While I was truly interested in bringing home a unit of my own, I felt strapped by a budget that is quite possibly worse than that of my new home state of CA. But, as I sit here tonight sucking down yet another can of Safeway seltzer, I realize that the time has come to tackle this problem. Enter Sodastream's Fountain Jet. I bit the bullet and ordered one, knowing that I can buy and maybe even exchange the carbonating cartriges at Rainbow Grocery (our favorite worker-owned purveyor -- more on them later!). A toast to making a difference for the environment and limiting the processes we allow giant factories to complete!

A Horrifying Thought

My friend from grad school is an Associate Food Editor at Health Magazine. She posted this article today on Facebook. I am so horrified that I have yet to form a written opinion...

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Little Secret

I'm going to let you in on a little secret -- I have lost 21 pounds since September. My 5'9" frame is now happily down to 155 pounds, but I would still like to shed another 10 pounds that I have been kicking around. "Unprocessed" should help!

Having PCOS and being hypothyroidic means that I have battled the proverbial bulge for my entire life. In high school, I ran cross-country and wrestled, keeping things to a slim 145. College brought the inevitable freshmen 15 and then some. What can I say? I really like to drink! After college, I brought things back down to around 140. Unfortunately, my methods were neither advisable nor sustainable. I ate very little -- ironic since I was attending cooking school at the time -- and exercised incessantly. The only up-side to the whole charade was completing the Chicago marathon and then Bordeaux. I managed to fit into my size 10 wedding dress a few years later, and kept things reasonably under control for a little while thereafter. Things started to slip when I tried to balance 3 jobs (one of them working in a bakery) with school and a new marriage. Then, I "moved" to Argentina where all-day wine tasting and calorie-laden (but oh-so delicious) asados, consumed in the name of research, helped me balloon up to 176. Yet, all is back in balance now -- thanks to the good folks at Weight Watchers and a turn towards an "unprocessed" lifestyle. I am at my happiest between 145 and 155. Deviation happens; you just gotta reel it back in.

That being said, I offer a few motivational thoughts in case you were pondering letting go of a little extra baggage.

1. Rome was not built in a day. You didn't put the weight on in a day, or even a week. You will not and should not take it off that quickly. Slow weight loss, brought about by lifestyle changes, means it will stay off longer.
2. The silver lining theory -- if you never get fat, you never experience the joy of watching the scale go back down the other way. While I am not a proponent of yo-yo dieting or roller coaster weight loss, enjoy every pound lost if it means a healthier you.
3. Learn to cook. The more you know about food -- even basic preparations -- and what you are putting into your body, the more successful and healthy you will be.
4. You are going to have bad days. Thankfully, we get tomorrows. It's the one do-over that life gives us. Don't dwell in the past.
5. Little changes matter. Take the stairs. Drink more water. Substitute one snack item for something healthier. It all adds up.
6. Find a buddy. Workout with them. Confide in them. Have someone you can vent to when you just can't eat one more piece of lettuce!
7. Celebrate any and all victories! If you are trying to change a lifetime's worth of behaviors, one meal made with whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta is a victory. 5 pounds lost might be 1/10 of the way to the finish line. Then, challenge yourself to the next test!
8. If you aren't into working out, a 10 minute walk around the block is a great start. Go for 11 on day 2. Before you know it, you'll be logging 5 miles a day!
9. Most importantly, "unprocessed" isn't just about 2010. I am hoping to implement changes that will last for the rest of my life. If all goes as planned, maintaining a healthy weight should prove much easier.

Above: November 2009. Below: June 2009. We were a little inflated in June!

Clean Food

My mother in-law gave me a copy of Clean Food by Terry Walters for Cristmas with the hopes that the book would provide inspiration for our project. Simply put, I adore this book, and I could not agree with Walters' philosophy more. I have not tried out the recipes, but I plan to do so just as soon as I can. Check it out her site or the book -- she emphasizes many of the priciples of "unprocessed."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

1st Amendment

The past three days have been o.k. - just o.k. It seems that we should have done a little bit more prep before the project started. For example, I really wanted some brown rice and lentils last night, but who wants to eat lentils and rice without hot sauce? (Hot sauce is on this week's to-do list.) Today, I had a 95% vegan day...yum, veggies! However, I did sample a few bits of white chocolate. As I was doing so, I thought, "This can't possibly be good for me." So, that's it. Bye-bye white chocolate. See you next year???

12 Steps to Boost your Health for Life

If you haven't already made a new year's resolution, maybe you want to choose one of these 12 steps. Both simple and effective, you might just find that you are able to stick to a resolution. Come on, how hard could it be to drink more water?