Cooking with Family and Friends

My kitchen remodel is nearly done and it’s looking great! We have had a ton of fun cooing together this past week and learning where things are as we go. The contractors will return after the New Year but for now it is just my kitchen. Sharing it here with my daughters, Hannah who flew in from California and Kristen who came over to bake.

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I hope you all are enjoying this season of family and friends. It has been quite busy in my kitchen and I’d like to share a couple recipes with you that we like to make. The first is so delicious and yet so simple and comes from The Kind Diet Cookbook by alicia silverstone.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups:

 ½ cup Earth Balance butter

¾ cup crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)

¾ cup almond meal

¼ cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener (I used regular sugar and it was fine)

1 cup grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate or carob chips

¼ cup soy, rice, or nut milk

¼ cup chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts

  •  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
  • Melt the Earth Balance butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the peanut butter, almond meal and maple syrup and mix well.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat. Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.
  • Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan. Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.
  • Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture. Top with chopped nuts.
  • Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving.

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The refrigerator in the background which is my living room is going to the Habitat for Humanity Re-store soon!

Chestnut Tarts:

1 cup (5ounces) whole peeled chestnuts roasted or bottled dry chestnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup maple syrup

2 large egg whites (free range, organic or egg substitute)

¼ tsp salt

2 packages 15 count phyllo pastry tarts

½ cup fresh whipped cream

  • Reconstitute chestnuts if dried, pulse in food processor until finely ground. Remove to a  medium bowl, stir in vanilla and maple syrup.
  • Beat together egg white, salt in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the chestnut mixture.
  • Place phyllo tarts into mini muffin pan and fill each with the chestnut mixture.
  • Bake at 375 for 10 minutes until golden.
  • Allow to cool and pipe a whipped cream star on top of each cooled tart.

Off to see Shakespeare and Company It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play with all my Children. Photos and story to follow.

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Kira and her pal Pooh approve of the kitchen remodel mostly because they can see out the new back door.

Be Well and Enjoy!

Life, Art and Food

A day that includes healthy real food and art is one I want to take part in. Yesterday was that kind of a day. I offered two classes in cooking for health, the first at Wild Oats http://wildoats.coop/ focusing on cooking for women’s health. I enjoyed the women who attended and working with Robin, the marketing manager at Wild Oats again. The second class focused on healthy holiday cooking and took place in a borrowed kitchen (as my kitchen is under construction) at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Pittsfield MA. http://www.uupittsfield.org/.

Again I was struck by how much I enjoyed the classes and cooking with others. I am also very grateful to have these opportunities to share information and recipes that really improve our health and are delicious too!

Imagesteamed root vegetables with broccoli

Out of the second class a very synchronistic conversation occurred which landed me and a participant from my cooking class at MASS MOCA, http://www.massmoca.org/event_details.php?id=771 to view the 9:30 lighting of Xu Bing’s “Phoenix” http://www.xubing.com/index.php/site/projects/year/2010/phoenix_project. This wonderful exhibit is leaving MOCA today to travel to New York and I find I’m grieving this loss. I fell in love with these magical creatures, the enormity, beauty and fearless presentation will stay with me forever. I am glad the moment presented itself for me to see them lit and to say farewell. I encourage anyone who has the chance to view Xu Bing’s Phoenix to do it.

Today is a day to regroup, to plan for upcoming classes as well as spend time studying and researching integrative nutrition. There is something powerful about the fact that the food we eat can and in fact does impact our health directly. We all have the power to take control of our health and change it no matter our condition. It takes courage to do so when faced with serious illness but what better time to take the leap…what have we got to lose? Like the phoenix, we can rise out of the ashes and be strong again. I want to share a nice recipe from Dr. Weil with root vegetables that can help strengthen us as we enter winter, the season of darkness and cold.

Roasted Root Vegetables

2 lbs root vegetables (yams, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, sweet potato, beet), cut into 1-inch pieces.

1 medium onion cut into 1/3 wedges

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 head garlic separated into cloves

Chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme

1) Heat oven to 400, place root vegetables and onion on roasting pan and toss with the olive oil until coated evenly.

2) Roast mixture for 45-50 minutes stirring every 15 minutes. After 30 minutes add garlic cloves and continue to roast.

3) Before serving add chopped herbs or for additional flavor add herbs for last 15 minutes of roasting.

Food as medicine

“All root vegetables contain healthful fiber and slow digesting carbohydrates, but beets have some special properties. Unlike most other red vegetables, which have anthocyanins to thank for their distinctive color (think red cabbage), beets derive their hue from pigments called betalains, which range in color from red-violet to yellow.  Betalains, in addition to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, trigger a family of enzymes that bind toxic substances in cells, neutralizing and allowing them to be excreted from the body. Garlic’s health benefits, many of which come from its sulfur compounds, are widely documented. Some of these sulfur-containing molecules, polysulfides, are converted by red blood cells into hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which dilates the blood vessels, helping to regulate blood pressure.

Thanks to Dr. Weil – http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/RCP00221/roasted-root-vegetables.html

bonsaiBe Well!

Joyful Life

We came to the Earth as absolutely loving beings.

That is our basic nature. And all we want is to have a joyful life together…..

A peaceful, harmonious, laughter filled, song-filled kind of life together.

Brooke Medicine Eagle

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This photo was taken at South River Miso in Conway, MA

I awoke this morning feeling grateful for the sunshine and for my lovely life. It made me smile to think about what this life has given me and to reflect on what I hope I have given back. Of late, the opportunity I am enjoying of teaching others how to cook and eat in a more healthful way.

Yesterday I got to cook with a group of young girls who were curious and willing to try new foods. They reminded me to have fun and explore, and how much I enjoy doing that with my own children even now that they are adults. I was also reminded how much fun it is to come together with new people and see what we can learn.

We prepared several dishes and then shared a meal together with their adults. One commented on how cool it was to have a class where you get to eat together afterward. I smiled. And so I will share one of the recipes we made with you in the hope it brings a smile to your face as well.

Green Rolls

 4 cups water

Collard greens large leaves or other green of choice

Cucumber cut into match sticks

Carrot, parsnip or other root vegetable, blanched and cut into matchsticks

Sauerkraut

Sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds

Mustard or hummus

Brown rice (optional)

Preparation:

 Heat water in large open skillet to boil.

Lightly blanch collard or chosen greens, remove and place on cookie sheet to cool.

Lay our blanched greens onto sushi mat making sure to cover mat completely.

Layer the cucumber or root vegetable, sauerkraut and pumpkin seeds on the greens. Spread some mustard on the filling.

Carefully roll up the green in the sushi mats squeezing out extra water. Remove from mat and cut into 5-6 sushi style rolls.

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These are actually wrapped in nori which is another great way to introduce healthy greens and vegetables into a non vegetable lovers life…and we all need some vegetable to stay healthy 🙂

Next week I will be teaching a Cooking for Women’s Health class at Wild Oats Cooperative Market in Williamstown, MA as well as a Healthy Holiday Cooking class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield. Consider coming to join our fun!

Be well

Fall Food and Beauty

The trees are beginning to change from the vibrant green of summer to the golds and reds of the fall in New England. I’ve come to find these visual changes in nature bring about a time of introspection for me. Maybe it has to do with the weather cooling, the crisp air or beautiful blue sky or maybe it is just the reminder that another year has come and is now going. Not sure but it is familiar and in some ways comforting…kind of like that wonderful soft afghan you wrap yourself in on a chilly night. What ever it is I am welcoming the change.

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I woke up this morning thinking about cooking a nice fall meal and I remembered that I picked about 2 pounds of green beans yesterday. So I’ll share a favorite green bean recipe with you.

Green Beans with Toasted Almonds

1 lb green beans

¼ cup slivered almonds

1 tblsp olive oil

¼ tsp oregano

¼ tsp thyme

¼ tsp sage

1 clove garlic crushed

1 pinch sea salt to taste

Wash and trim green beans, then steam for about 3-5 minutes. Toast almonds in a dry skillet until fragrant and golden stirring constantly so they don’t burn. Add the herbs and oil to the skillet and toss well. Then add your green beans to mix.

Green beans contain vitamin A, B-complex vitamins and calcium and potassium. And garlic is antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic and anti-fungal. It is good for respiratory problems and ear aches as well as acting to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

Along with the green beans I plan to make a brown rice and red wheat berries and adzuki beans with squash since I have some beautiful winter squash to use. The last time I prepared the brown rice and wheat berries my daughter came home with photos of our resident eagle. He had landed along the shore of the lake and was watching her as she photographed him.

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Here are the recipes for the other dishes I mentioned in this blog.

Brown Rice and Wheat Berries

 2 cups short grain brown rice, rinsed and soaked 6-8 hours

½ cup wheat berries, rinsed and soaked 6-8 hours (red winter variety)

3-3 ½ cups water

Pinch of sea salt per cup of grain

Place washed/soaked rice in pressure cooker, mix in the wheat berries.
Add the water and cook over low flame for 15-20 minutes
Add salt and cover pressure cooker.
Bring up to pressure, then lower flame to medium-low and cook for 50 minutes.
Remove from flame, and release steam from pressure cooker or allow it to release on its own.
Open cooker and let rice sit for 4-5 minutes before serving.

Brown rice is high in vitamin B which helps to reduce depressive symptoms. It is also a good source of minerals and healthy fat. Great for we New England residents who will begin to see less sun as fall brings in winter. Whole wheat berries contain 12 B vitamins, vitamin E, protein, essential fatty acids and important trace minerals such as zinc, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. If you are sensitive to wheat make the rice it stands alone.

Azuki Beans and Squash – Changing Seasons Macrobiotic Cookbook

1 cup Azuki Beans, washed and soaked at least 6-8 hours

1 cup good quality organic Butternut, Buttercup squash or Hokkaido pumpkin, washed with seeds removed cubed with skin left on.

¼ sea salt

1-2 inch piece kombu

Water

Soak kombu in ¼ cup water until pliable (5-10 minutes)
Cube squash and set aside.
Place soaked kombu in bottom of heavy pot.
Add soaked beans with soaking water on top of kombu carefully so kombu remains on bottom of pot.
Make sure there is enough water to just cover the beans.
Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
Add the cubed squash on top of beans making sure the water is covering just the beans to set up steamer effect for squash.
Continue to cook over low heat for 45 minutes checking often to assure the beans are no burning on bottom of pot.
Once the squash and beans are soft remove from heat and serve.

Adzuki beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps to keep cholesterol levels in a healthy range. They also contain folate, potassium, and magnesium, all of which are essential for a healthy heart. Adzuki beans are a good way to get B vitamins, including B6, B2, B1, B3, and folic acid.
Squash is naturally sweet and is a good source of beta-carotene and complex carbohydrates. Squash contains vitamins A and C, potassium and magnesium. It has anti-carcinogenic properties due to containing high amounts of pre-vitamin A and carotenoids.

So what are we waiting for…let’s get cooking!

Quote for this glorious day by Nancy Wood

Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of Earth.

Hold on to what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do even if it is a long way from here.

Hold on to life even if it is easier letting go.

Hold on to my hand even when I have gone far away from you…

AND as my great nephew Cooper says….Peace Out!

Mom, IKEA and the Pittsfield Farmer’s Market this weekend

Well we did it! What started out as an ordinary yet insane day closed with pizza, beer, good friends and MOM in my backyard….AND the unloading of about 2000 lbs of kitchen cabinets!

I guess an explanation is needed here for those of you who don’t know me. First a photo from the Stoughton IKEA store where my daughter Kristen, my dear friend (I think we are still friends) Helen and I had just loaded the 2000lbs of kitchen cabinets into my car and Kristen’s SUV…notice we are all smiling still!

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Ok…let me give you the context of this insanity… so we had driven 3 hours prior to this photo and got up at dawn so I could be the first person at the IKEA kitchen design center this morning to purchase my future kitchen which by the way my dear mom made possible…Thanks mom hope you know how much I love and miss you!

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Sooo…after loading our cars (with the help of a very strong…very young man who then disappeared as if by magic)… we began the the 3 hour drive home (it took longer due to the weekend travelers all returning home at the same time we were)…

En route home I was running the whole scene of how, upon arriving at my house we would unload the cars, walk the dogs, eat and survive it all…it was clear we three could not do it…so I began to panic…a little.

Then after several truly crazy moments on my part which I choose not to share here a bit of magic occurred. There were suddenly 2 strong men related to Kristen and Helen waiting at my house to help unload the 2000lbs of cabinets…another dear friend Donna had purchased beer and was on her way to my house to take care of my crazy dogs…and 2 large pizzas had been ordered to arrive right after the cabinets were safely in my basement. AMAZING I thought simply amazing.

AND yesterday all the women mentioned in this blog including my mom who is always present in my life were at the Pittsfield Farmer’s Market sharing whole foods and in particular “ALL THINGS BEANS”

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We had lots of fun at the market as we do every time we participate or visit. I want to share this recipe with you which continues to make me smile…

Chocolate Adzuki Bean Balls:

Chocolate Adzuki Bites (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Soy Free)

Ingredients:

For the adzuki balls:

  • 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
  • 3/4  cup pecans
  • 6 or so pitted medjool dates (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1-2 teaspoons rice milk (optional)

For the topping:

You can choose either shredded coconut, chopped pecans or chopped cashews. You’ll need about a cup of whichever one you choose. For the nuts, I recommend blending them in the food processor before you make the balls because then you don’t have to clean it out.

  • 1 cup of selected topping
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (the larger flakey kind if possible)

Directions:

Put the adzuki beans in a small pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Boil for about an hour, making sure you don’t let them dry out, until they are soft. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend the nuts for your topping (if using) and set aside. Add 3/4 cup cooked adzuki beans (they will have swollen up so your 1/2 cup should have turned into at least 3/4 cup), 3/4 cup pecans, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. If it is too dry to blend well, you can add rice or almond milk a teaspoon at a time to add moisture. You can also add a teaspoon of maple syrup to make it a little sweeter (if you use the maple syrup you probably won’t need the rice milk)

Scoop out the dough a tablespoon or so at a time and roll into balls. Sprinkle them with just a bit of the sea salt and then roll the balls in the topping until they are coated then put them in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

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I must admit that I am beyond tired so will sign off for this week…more to come.

I’d like to end with gratitude for my family and friends, for this glorious life I have been given and for the hope of more to come. I am truly blessed and know this each day I wake to greet the sun!

Peace and Brightest Blessings Dear Ones!

Orange Pan Glazed Tempeh

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Mahatma Gandhi

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This dish has become one of my favorite tempeh recipes and it can be made in only 30 minutes…how’s that for fitting into a busy life? I added roasted kabocha squash, steamed kale and good old short grain brown rice. The pickle is “Crimson Kraut” a mild Kimchi made by Hosta Hill.  Hosta Hill also made the tempeh I used for this recipe. Learn more about them at this link

http://hostahill.com/tempeh/

So here is the recipe for Orange Pan Glazed Tempeh:

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 Teaspoons tamari (or shoyu)

1 ½ Tablespoon mirin

2 Teaspoons maple syrup

½ Teaspoon ground coriander

2 small cloves garlic, crushed

10 ounces tempeh (or extra firm tofu)

2 Tablespoons olive oil (use light as extra virgin will smoke)

½ lime

Optional – cilantro

1)      Squeeze juice and place it in a small bowl.

2)      Grate the ginger over the bowl making sure to add the juice.

3)      Mix together the tamari, mirin, maple syrup, ground coriander and garlic. Set aside this mixture.

4)      Cut the tempeh (or tofu) into bite size pieces (if working with tofu, pat dry and then cut up)

5)      Heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.

6)      Add the tempeh and sautee for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

7)      Pout the orange juice over the tempeh and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes until the sauce has reduced to a nice glaze.

8)      Make sure to turn the tempeh while the sauce reduces to prevent sticking.

9)      Serve the tempeh with grain side dish. Drizzle the remaining tamari sauce mixture over the top.

10)  Add lime juice and cilantro if desired.

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Kira and Poohger send sloppy kisses from Kira’sKitchen

Eat healthy and be well!

Day Lilies and The Language of Flowers

In The Victoria Era The Language of Flowers was used to subtly tell people what was on your mind. Lilies represented “Majesty” which makes perfect sense to me when I am admiring my day lilies that return each year with prolific blossoms and bountiful beauty.

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Day lilies are also edible. I had the life changing experience in my early 20s to work with two wise herbalists in an herb shop in Branford, Connecticut called Bittersweet Farm Herb Gardens. These women taught me about herb lore and craft and how to properly dry herbs for use in potpourri. I learned how to grow and care for all types of herbs and edible flowers and how to make both edible and fragrant products from the herbs we grew in our traditional English herb garden. Day lilies were part of this education.

Day lilies have many edible parts including the buds, flowers, tubers and stalks. I am most fond of the flowers as they are only available for one day and then they drop away. The flowers are mostly used for their bright color and they can thicken soups and sauces in the same way okra does. The stalks remind me of wheat grass and they are high in vitamin C and fiber. The buds which are plentiful on many varieties are delicious when prepared in a simple butter saute or if you’d like a healthier version try toasted sesame oil. The butter allows for more of the natural flavor to come through so for this plant I break my own zero to very little dairy rule and go for butter. And last but certainly not least are the tubers. In New England we have an abundance of wild growing Tiger Lilies. Freshly dug the tubers are very tasty when added to butter for a simple saute. The whiter tubers are sweetest and remind me of early sweet potatoes.

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I caution everyone to approach eating wild plants and flowers with care. For some there may be allergic reactions to introducing unfamiliar foods. Try a little and see how it goes before digging up the whole bank of day lilies you find in your backyard.

For more information on edible plants try one of the following reference books:

The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America by Francois Couplan

Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide by Thomas Sam Elias

AND because I grew up in Northern California

The Encyclopedia of Useful and Edible Plants of California by Charlotte Bringle Clark.

Good eating and please remember to stop and kiss a lily they only show their pretty faces for one day!