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!

 

Boo-Ya… Black Bean Burgers and Thanks-Giving

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Well it’s that time of the year again when we are thinking about feasting with family and friends. I just love this time of Thanksgiving. We have a wonderful opportunity to take a moment with those we love dearly to reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives. For some of us it is a large task as we may have faced life challenges that were not only beyond our control but beyond our capacity to endure. The Art of Thanksgiving is for us to dig deep into our hearts and find something that brought us joy…inspired us in some way and will remain tucked neatly in our soul for eternity. I am thankful for the family and friends I have been blessed with!

So this week has just flown by and today my darling Hannah arrives from California. Furniture has been rearranged and the menu for our family Thanksgiving is in the works. This year will bring some changes at our Thanksgiving table but many of the favorites from years past. After all Thanksgiving has a tradition attached to it so we come together with the expectation of seeing and experiencing those dishes. We are very blessed to be able to come together to share our meal. I am ever aware of my blessings and grateful always! Along with food changes there will be some family members absent at the table and they will be sorely missed. To mom and brother, John feast on up there in heaven and be with us as you are able.

One of the dishes I plan to add to our feast is my new favorite Boo-Ya Black Bean Burgers! They are simply delightful with a bit of secret sauce (recipe will appear in the secret sauces post at a later date) on top oh my.

So simple to make here is my recipe but you can make adjustments to taste.

1 ½ cup organic black turtle beans – washed and soaked overnight

1 cup cooked organic millet and corn – see millet post for directions

¼ cup organic whole wheat pastry flour

1 organic sweet onion finely chopped

2 large organic carrots finely chopped

2 stalks organic celery finely chopped

½ cup finely chopped fresh organic parsley

Organic Olive oil

  • Cook beans with 2inch piece of soaked kombu in just enough water to cover for approximately 45 minutes or until soft. Check the beans as they cook and add water if needed to prevent sticking on bottom of pot.
  • Cook millet and corn as directed (see previous post)
  • Chop carrots, celery and onions and sauté in 1 tblsp. olive oil until soft.
  • Mash cooked beans with potato masher until about half the beans are mashed. I like to leave some beans for texture and appearance.
  • Add the millet, vegetables and mix well.
  • Sprinkle the pastry flour over mixture and blend in thoroughly.
  • Form bean paste into patties and cook on medium heat in enough olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Turn burgers after approximately 5 minutes (or when brown but not burned).

I use my spatula to continuously shape the bean paste into patties. The millet and flour are nice binding agents and add flavor. Keep patties warm in oven until all are cooked. Top with pumpkin seed sauce or tofu cream…yummy!

Kira and I hope you all have a most joyous Thanksgiving. Be well!