Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Pie

No words here folks... too busy chewing... Hapfey Tanksgibbing.

No-Fault Pumpkin Pie
from the New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin or squash (canned pumpkin is fine)

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
3/4 teaspoons sea salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place pumpkin or squash puree in a medium-sized bowl, and add all other filling ingredients. Beat until smooth.

Spread into the pie crust and bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake another 40 minutes, or until the pie is firm in the center when shaken lightly.

Cool at least to room temperature before serving. This pie tastes very good chilled, with rum or vanilla spiked whipped cream, or some high-quality vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Just Another Sunday

At the Market

Every Sunday morning, I roll out of bed and walk over to our bedroom window. I spread the blinds with my thumb and forefinger, stick my nose through the hole and squint my eyes up toward the sky. Then what follows is either a "Do'oh! Still raining" or a "Woohoo! Sunshine" or a "Hmmm, looks a little cloudy out there." I suppose I'm the official weather reporter for 4753 Delridge.

This morning was definitely a 'woohoo' day, which meant that our morning would have a bit more energy radiating onto and into whatever we did. The coffee Mark made today was pumpkin spice. We never drink the flavored stuff, but I must admit that it exceeded my expectations for pre-ground flavored coffee. After we took in all the caffeine we could handle, we spontaneously got into a 'discussion' (which is really what we like to call an argument) about what furniture would go where and why in our new house (which isn't even ours yet, as the lease still hasn't been signed). Yes, that sunshine brings all kinds of energy with it - or maybe we both just had a bit much caffeine.

We worked out all our frustrations (okay, almost all) at the gym. We go to the gym just about every Sunday. We both lift weights and put in our one hour time block for the weekend so we can walk around the rest of the week saying "gosh, I'm sore" and "feel these abs, baby" and "c'mon, hit me right here." I don't cherish my gym time really, but I know it needs to be done. Kind of like washing the dishes.

We then went our separate ways to work on those things we love best. Mark went to a friend's place to play music, and I went to the farmer's market. The sunshine meant everybody was out with me, stocking up on vegetables, pumpkins and turnips for Thanksgiving. I loaded up on apples so I could bring both a pumpkin and apple pie to dinner at Michelle's this year. The West Seattle Farmer's Market is my favorite Sunday ritual, besides the coffee drinking and those fun 'discussions' I get to have with my significant other. It's my time to walk through slowly, taking time to look at all the amazing things that come from Vashon Island, Carnation and the woods... somewhere. The foragers have been displaying some pretty awesome fungi this Fall. The mushrooms they find come from all those pine forests Washington is famous for.
Today I saw giant chantarelles, hedgehogs and even black truffles! I had no idea that this area had their own version of this famous and expensive 'shroom. But instead of the hundreds of dollars per ounce you'd see for truffles from Europe, these were $8 per. Maybe next time I'll treat myself to a bit of black gold.

I made my way home with my bounty - but wishing I could have taken home a few of those expensive things that I simply cannot justify right now being a student... like dried fresh heirloom beans, those truffles, and a few fillets of Alaskan salmon from Loki.

I lamented the few hours left in the day, as I began to work on my computer, writing and planning for a couple of upcoming classes I'm teaching (I'll keep you in the loop). Just one more hour of daylight and I could have gotten in a short bike ride to the water, or maybe a walk over to the Delridge P-patch to gawk at some rainbow chard. Instead I work, and then start to make dinner before Mark gets home. A simple meal that I've mentioned before, but one of our fav's; buckwheat soba with peanut sauce and tofu.

We sit eating dinner and we're both exhausted. We've had a full weekend of socializing and being out late. An open house at the Henry Gallery on Friday, and then wine tasting and dinner with friends on Saturday. I'm tired but contented, because seeing friends is very much worth the fatigue.

It's a short week this week, so have a fantastic Thanksgiving everyone. I'm grateful for you, for food, for friends who drink wine, for 'discussions' that may be fights, and for this blog where I get to share it all. The good, the bad, and the bread that just won't rise.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Dish to Look Forward To

Something to look forward to.  I always need something to look forward to, to get me excited when I'm feeling that cool, grey weather dreariness.  Yes, I know it isn't very buddhist-in-the-moment of me to say it, but looking forward to something, anything is just what gets me through the week when I feel stuck in the hamster wheel of my life.  Wake up. Run 6 miles in the dark.  Walk to work.  Work.  Walk home.  Have dinner with Mark.  Talk about the day and the rain.  Watch it get dark before 5.  Wish that I didn't have to get up and do it all again the next day.  Sigh.  Do it all again.

No, my life isn't awful, or really even that difficult... it's just the weather and the routine that could make anybody feel a little sodden right now.

Sometimes that something is simply thinking about that nice little kiss that Mark will give me when he walks in the door.  Sometimes it's my favorite television show full of blood, medical drama, sex and McDreamy (attention Grey's Anatomy producers:  you run the risk of losing a viewer if you fail to incorporate a hot dietitian character into the next season.)  Sometimes it's making Friday night plans to do happy hour at our favorite haunt, and other times it's picturing myself curled up in a blanket and reading a book that takes me far, far away.  

But sometimes, I agree to break out of the monotony by engaging my creativity - and of course this involves food.  This week I started with an ingredient:  wild rice.  Then I started layering ideas on top of that rice. What about something sweet?  What's in season?  What color would be exciting?  Pomegranates. Check.  Then something acidic, to give it some tang... oranges, with their zest!  Now this dish is starting to scream fall.  And then some walnuts and sage... and this may even be one to add to my cookbook.  Cookbook?  Oh yes, that's another thing I tell myself to look forward to; my future and very imaginary cookbook, published by a well-known house, promoted by the Food Network (this comes after my own show, of course) and getting publicity through Gourmet magazine and while we're at it - Oprah. (Hey, this is my fantasy-slash-coping mechanism. Deal with it.)

As I bring myself down from a creative gastronomic reverie, and remind myself that a rice salad won't bring me fame and fortune, I pick up the ingredients from the market, put them into my clunker car, and head home. Beautiful food shared with others is something to look forward to, even without a pristine photo layout and endorsement by talk show hosts... but it would help.

So here's my effort, shared with you, my adoring and multitudinous fans!  A colorful, delicious and nutritious dish, endorsed by the folks in the bamboo hut, featured and promoted in Seattle Sundays, and eaten by me. Enjoy, as I've been looking forward to this moment all week.

Wild Rice with Pomegranate and Sage
Serves 6

This dish may scream fall, but the colors remind me of Christmas.  This dish would go well with any holiday meal.  You could try this with cranberries either fresh or dried in place of the pomegranate, but why not make an excuse to explore this exotic fruit?  They aren't as complex as they seem... just go here to learn more. The wild rice I used is of this type by Lundberg organic.  If you want to substitute a wild rice blend, I'm sure that would turn out yummy as well.    

2 1/3 cups water 
8 oz Lundberg organic wild rice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
Juice from 1 medium orange
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped fine
 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
2/3 cup broken walnut halves, toasted

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt and the wild rice.  Stir once, bring the rice back to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat and cover to cook for 45 minutes.  Do not stir!  You'll know the rice is done when you lift the lid and tip the pot to one side, showing no pooling water, meaning it has all been absorbed.  

While the rice is cooking, zest the orange to gain the 1 teaspoon of orange zest, then juice it into a small bowl. Add the zest, then the olive oil, minced sage, and 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt.  Stir to combine.

Open the pomegranate to remove its arils.  Set aside 1/2 cup of the arils.  Toast the walnut pieces either on the stovetop or in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant.

When the rice is done cooking, add the orange juice and sage mixture, and then the walnuts and the pomegranate arils.  Stir and serve warmed.  


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Friendship Pumpkin Soup

My friend Michelle gave me two whole sugar pie pumpkins a few weeks ago. Michelle is a gardener and a foodie, and a generous one too. She dropped them off on the way to her wine and food pairing class (she’s a wino like me, we met working at NHJ winery) and in an ironic exchange I gave her two gluten-free pumpkin raisin muffins made with pumpkin from a can. Poor girl, goodness knows it wasn’t a fair trade, but I just had to give her something for her generosity.

They are two beautiful, perfectly round, basketball orange gourds. So pretty I didn’t want to use them right away – why would I do that when I have nary a piece of seasonal d├ęcor in our little house? I put one on top of the television and one on the bookcase. There are few flat surfaces not yet occupied in our hut. So there they sat, looking so sweet, reminders that now’s the time for baking sweet things.

This Sunday, after looking at them for a few weeks and wondering just how many pumpkin pies I could sucker out of them, I decided it was time to make some food. I desperately wanted to make up the perfect pumpkin pie for you, my friends, but we’ve been eating enough sweets around here lately to make me think twice about generating yet another dessert for our fridge. Besides, I could always make up a pumpkin pie later, when Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. I’d surely have enough pumpkin to freeze, and enough to make up some pumpkin muffins too (though these will surely have more soul).

Pumpkin is one of my favorite things. Just last week you could find me moaning over a pumpkin cake doughnut someone told me I just had to try. Last week Mark and I split a seasonal Pumpkin Ale from Elysian Brewing Company here in Seattle (which was fabulous, pumpkin-y with a hint of nutmeg). I got to the farmer’s market late today, and by one o'clock the pasta guys had run out of their pumpkin ravioli, otherwise I would have bought a little bit to complete my week-long pumpkin binge. Chances are, if it has pumpkin as an ingredient, I’m in.

The pies would have to wait, but what about a hearty pumpkin soup? I’ve made butternut squash soup and gingered carrot soup which are lovely on a cool Fall day. Pumpkin soup might be good, with garbanzo beans and a sweet and savory spicy curry. I split both of the pumpkins in half, scraped out the innards and laid them face down in a baking dish. There is something so terribly familiar, so evocative about cut fresh pumpkin. It’s that pungent jack-o-lantern smell that you first smelled as a kid. About a month ago I was doing my daily run along the running path, red and gold leaves overhead and beneath my feet. Blue skies and sunlight - everything around me sighed like Fall. I caught a whiff of something… so… familiar. Right away I knew what it was. Pumpkin guts! I looked quickly to my left and there on a back porch, 50 feet away was a dad and his two kids and five pumpkin carcasses laid a mess. There’s just no mistaking that smell. I could have been another 50 feet away and still have recognized those pumpkins.

I set a pot of water to boil, added roughly chopped carrots and onions, and later some dried garbanzo beans and kombu. After the beans softened, I add a chopped apple. The pumpkin was roasted and cooled by this time. I took a small forkful of orange flesh and mashed it against the roof of my mouth. It was sweet and soft and wonderful. This will make a fantastic soup.

This was Slow Food for sure. I spent most of my Sunday buying kale at the farmer’s market, roasting the pumpkins and then letting those beans soften up for hours. I don’t always plan to spend most of my Sundays making food, but seemingly the food makes plans for me. I begin with an idea, and the vegetables willfully take over.

This time I won’t share a recipe with you, as this soup was so much of a little of this and a little of that, but I’d be happy to list out the ingredients and let your own vegetables take over the plans. All I can say is that the richness of the pumpkin and the variety of spices make this one of my best soups yet.

Maybe Michelle will accept a bit of this soup as a fair trade – Michelle, what do you think? Let’s pair it with a nice gewurztraminer and talk pies.

Friendship Pumpkin Soup

Water or stock


Large onion


Dried garbanzos



Roasted pumpkin

Olive oil

Kala masala spice mix



Sliced fresh ginger

Moroccan spice mix (coriander, cinnamon, cumin, mint)

Freshly grated nutmeg

Nutritional yeast

Cayenne or other ground hot pepper

Ground Black Pepper