pumpkin tempeh garbanzo cinnamon spiced curry

This is one of my all time favorite and very easy to make dishes. Something about the spicy-ness of curry with the warm sweetness of the cinnamon makes my taste buds sing. Its delicious when eaten warm, and also doubles as a wrap filling the following day when its cold and leftover. You can use any type of bean (black, pinto, kidney, etc) and you could also play around with the veggies you decide to use. Carrots work well, as does kale. Broccoli is one of my favorites to use. Mushrooms not so much in this dish because they  release a lot of water and the consistency gets funky the following day.

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If you have the time, you can cook your pumpkin from scratch. Just bake it in the oven and then puree it. Butternut squash works very well for this, as do yams/sweet potatoes. But, since I did not have time yesterday, I went for the canned variety of pumpkin.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ~2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, chopped into bite sized bits
  • 1 can beans of choice (garbanzo and black are my favorites)
  • 1 block tempeh
  • about 1 cup pureed pumpkin (canned) or pureed butternut squash or sweet potato
  • cinnamon, salt, and curry powder to taste
  • a touch of molasses (1 or 2 teaspoons) (optional, but tasty)
  • water as needed

Method

  • heat the oil in a pot. Brown the garlic and then add the onion. saute until the onion is starting to brown. 
  • add in the broccoli. you might have to add some water to the pot to prevent it from drying out. cover and cook, stirring occasionally. I like my broccoli on the mushy side, so I cooked mine for longer. If you are a fan of the crunchy broccoli, you clearly don’t need to cook it as long.
  • once the broccoli is at the desired consistency, drain and rinse the beans before adding them. crumble in the tempeh. cook this for 3-4 more minutes. again, you might have to add water to prevent pot-burning
  • add salt, curry powder, and cinnamon to taste. add the molasses too. Unfortunately I am completely unaware how much I used. Start with 1/2 teaspoon of each and go from there, is what I would say
  • finally, add the cup of pumpkin and a little more water. cook for another 4-5 minutes. The pumpkin will thicken as it cooks, so adjust with more water if you desire. Taste it again and add more seasonings if you wish.
  • enjoy warm right now, and in a wrap tomorrow!

its a wrap, folks! (punny, right?)

pumpkin curry

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Cute Animals and Veganism

I will start this post off with an assortment of cute animal pictures taken at Animal Place. Animal Place is a farm animal sanctuary that houses and rehabilitates farm rescues. I had the privilege of going on a tour, meeting the cute animals, and conversing with individuals who have a radically different view about food. After the cute pictures, I will elaborate on my experience and possibly, slightly, rant.

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Adorbs.

I think animals play a vital role in the food system. Granted, the industrial food system is broken (metabolic rift) and animals are exploited and unnecessary waste is created and there are too many antibiotics and pesticides being used. The food system I am talking about is a closed and sustainable system where animals (cows, pigs, chickens) live on a biodynamic farm that grows a variety of crops year round. Animals graze and animals poop and the poop is turned into nutrient rich compost for feeding the soil and keeping a harmonious balance. These animals would be living an animal-style life because they get to graze and wander around. They get fed and watered. They are not treated as machines, bred to produce beyond their capacity. Chickens, pigs, cows, etc get to express their intrinsic animal nature. These animals would also provide milk and eggs and at some point, even meat.

Despite being a non meat eater, I still think that eating meat is part of being human and being an omnivore [Yes, we eat way to much of it in the US and yes, we do need to cut back on meat consumption, and yes animals need to be seen as living beings because they are living beings] However, we have evolved and now live at a time where one can survive without eating the flesh of another creature. Those in a privileged position can make choices about what they decide to put into their bodies. And for those who are conscious about their ecological footprint becoming vegetarian is one of the most influential decisions one can make. But there are many who live in parts of the world where meat is a staple food and easier to obtain that fresh produce. Cold climates come to mind, or pastoral communities that raise animals as part of their livelihood. Where no produce grows it might be more efficient to be a meat eater since that meat is a local source of nutrition that conveniently turns grasses and hay that humans cannot digest into digestible meat. It is not culturally sensitive to assume that everyone in the world can be a vegan.

This view would have been rejected and torn apart had I brought it up at the animal sanctuary. They approach veganism and vegetarianism from a different lens: that of eliminating suffering and pain. I agree that animal welfare is important but I do not agree that all suffering can be eliminated (farmworkers anyone?) and I do not think that the world going vegan would solve environmental issues. Vegan alternatives are filled with strange ingredients and fillers and palm oil. Palm oil is a leading cause of clear cutting forested land which hurts animals, humans, and the environment. Isn’t real cream cheese from grass fed,  grazing cows much better for your body and the planet then fake cream cheese made from a variety of soy and oils? I would like to think that yes, it is, and I wish there was a way to measure the environmental impact of foods and their counterparts.

I was interested to learn more about the “veganic” farm that they had been cultivating. What is veganic agriculture? It means using absolutely no animal inputs. I can see how one would not want to use fish or chicken meal because both of those are biproducts of the industrial food system. But in a veganic farm, that also means using no animal poop. So, although there was an ample poop supply from the animals at the sanctuary, none if it was applied to the farm soil. They wanted to show that food can grow outside of an animal based system. So how is the soil kept fertile? Food scraps, greens, browns, cover crops, and kelp. I think that it is an interesting alternative, however I am hesitant as to how feasible it would be in a farm system that includes animals because, like I said before, I think animals and the land have an intimate relationship. It could be seen in the green pastures at the sanctuary: pastures for animals+animal poop=really green and lush grasses. See, animals are important!

Because animals are important, I think those who chose to eat meat need to have an awareness that eating chicken is, in fact, eating a chicken. I admire urban homesteaders and others who raise and slaughter their own animals because this breeds a deep appreciation for where flesh actually comes from. Furthermore, when the entire animal is used: the meat, the skin, and the bones, it is not treated like a piece of devalued trash.

I knew that many of these people had pets of their own. So the question is, what do the pets eat? I was shocked to find out that dogs and cats are put on vegan diets. I had an interesting conversation with a fellow who found it painful when his outdoor cat killed and ate a bird or a lizard or a rat. He explained that it was easy to make sure indoor pets cause no suffering to other living beings but it was difficult to ensure that his outdoor cats didn’t give in to their intrinsic predatory nature. Isn’t preventing your companion animal from eating their natural diet somewhat inhumane? Isn’t a vegan dog or cat like a cow or salmon eating corn? None of the above are natural.

What also bothered me was how, during the Q&A session, veganism was talked about as though it was the endpoint on a trajectory. The phrase “for those who are not vegan yet” was constantly being repeated. Implicitly it means that everyone would one day realize how enlightening a vegan way of life is. And, that everyone has the privilege of eating vegan. And that one day, I too might drop my farmers market cheese and replace it with a block of diaya. [Diaya and veganism have their place when the vegetarian alternative comes from a suspicious and inhumane source. And I realize that I am privileged to make the decision to avoid eating factory farm based foods]

In sum, if the goal of Animal Place is to convert omnivores and vegetarians into happy vegans, they are not going about it in a proper way. I like to think of myself as open minded and willing to listen to the points of view of others, but that was not the atmosphere being created. It was not welcoming to those who think of the food system as just that: a system. I felt uncomfortable bringing up my points of view that might come into conflict with what they believe because open dialogue was not welcome. I respect the goals of the sanctuary and I think it is important for people to realize how eating meat effects the planet, and it is important for people to know where their meat comes from. They kept talking about suffering, and I respect that that is the lens through which they approach their eating decisions. Ant yet, for individuals concerned with suffering I am surprised at how little they seemed to care about the farmworkers that spend hours in the fields in slavery-like conditions for them to have their kale salads. Fixing the food system requires fixing symbiotic relationships between plants, animals and humans. It requires better conditions for farm and kitchen workers. It requires respecting the flesh or animal bi-products that are being consumed, and consuming less of them in a more conscientious way.

Sourdough revival

My poor starter, Stanley, had been sitting in the refrigerator neglected for quite some time. About a week ago I reactivated him only to bake a loaf which I left in the oven for to long. Said loaf resembled a rock or brick the next morning when I tried slicing it for breakfast.

Fast forward to now.

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I baked this loaf in a loaf pan, which I generally don’t do. I usually just freely shape in and bake it on a cookie sheet. I kind of like the pan because  coating the pan with a thin sheen of olive oil gives the bread a browner and more chewy crust. The dough also retains its shape if its more on the wet side, but I like the artistic aspect of freeform loaves better. Its a compromise I suppose.

Anyways, I bake my bread with 100% white whole wheat flour. (this is NOT refined white flour, but whole wheat flour made from white wheat). I don’t keep bread flour on hand (even though it does make a better loaf) because it takes up space and I am hesitant to buy an entire bag and there is no whole wheat variety. I did however want to increase the gluten content of the bread. Enter Vital Wheat Gluten! I had an epiphany while I was meandering through the bulk section of the grocery store to try “making” my own bread flour by adding VWG to increase protein content in the regular flour. So I got a small amount (cheaper and less bulky than an entire bag) and if it failed, well, it was only a few dollars.

The ratio is 1T of VWG to 1C of flour to make “bread flour”. So, in my recipe I use 1 and 3/4C flour added to the starter. Therefore I used 1T and then a little more VWG. Looking back, I probably could have used more because I forgot that my starter contains flour too. I could tell when I was kneading that the VWG was doing something because the dough had more stringy strands form faster then usual. However, upon baking I am not quite sure if it made a huge difference. I think next time I will add 2T and then a little more and see if it is more noticeable.

In sum, VWG, I think, was a successful experiment which needs to be tampered with a little bit more.

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although strikingly similar to the above photo, it is not the same photo. but, it is the same loaf of bread

Polenta Bake with Beans and Kale

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I love polenta. I like it in mush form, when you just make it and its all warm and not shapely. I like it once baked and molded, like in the photo above. Its a perfect vessel for nearly any ingredient since its rather flavorless on its own. This recipe includes beans, mushrooms, and kale. It requires cooking polenta (from cornmeal), cooking some kale with onions, garlic, and mushrooms, and then combining them into a baking dish to pop in the oven. Its good when eaten out of the oven and warm, but today I ate it cold for lunch and it was just as tasty.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic (or more!), minced
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped or torn into bite sized pieces. I used purple kale.
  • dehydrated mushroom, soaked in water, then chopped. save the water! I used about 1/2 oz
  • 1 can of beans (black)
  • 1 cup of polenta (cornmeal)
  • 1 cube of veggie buoillon
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, plus more for sprinkling

Method:

  • In a skillet (I used my cast iron), brown some garlic. Add the onion and saute until translucent. 
  • Once the onions are done (you can also brown them if you wish, but I was to impatient) add the kale and cook until its wilted down to about half its size, if not a little more. Also add your re-hydrated mushrooms at some point, once the kale is close to being finished. Add salt to taste. Set these veggies aside
  • In a separate pot cook the polenta. 1 cup of polenta needs about 5 cups of water. I used my mushroom liquid+water+veggie bouillon to cook my polenta. Click here for your basic polenta how to, butter being optional
  • Around the 15 minute mark, add the beans and nutritional yeast and cook for 5 more minutes. Add more water if it gets very thick, since nutritional yeast has a tendency to thicken it. Add salt to taste.
  • Once your bean/polenta is done, pour a little less than half into a lightly greased 9×9 inch ovenproof dish. A little bigger or smaller is OK too.
  • Add the kale concoction to the other half and mix it well
  • Pour the kale/polenta on top of the bean/polenta in the dish, and flatten it with the back of a spoon. You can also press it down slightly into the bean/polenta. Sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool slightly and solidify before slicing and serving.

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Soba Noodles with Peanut-y Tempeh

This is one of my favorite things to have. Garlic and onions go oh-so-well with mushrooms and tempeh. Buckwheat soba noodles have a way more interesting texture and taste than pasta.

Not your typical spaghetti with meatballs. Instead, its soba noodle and brussels sprouts

Not your typical spaghetti with meatballs. Instead, its soba noodle and brussels sprouts

Here is what you need:

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • dehydrated mushrooms, I used 1/2 oz i think
  • 1 package tempeh
  • brussels sprouts-1 bag frozen and cooked according to package instructions
  • soba noodles: 2/3 of a package
  • 1-2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • lemon juice and soy sauce to taste, but I used about 1 large lemon and 2-3 Tablespoons of soy sauce

Here is how you make it

  1. Put your mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water to rehydrate. Don’t throw out the liquid because you will use it throughout!
  2. Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a saucepan. When its hot, add the garlic to brown. Throw in the ginger and onions.
  3. Keep cooking the garlic/onions/ginger until the onions are soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. To prevent it from burning and sticking and drying up, add several tablespoons of the liquid from the mushrooms whenever you may need to.
  4. Chop the rehydrated mushrooms and add them in. Crumble the tempeh into the mixture
  5. Keep adding mushroom water as needed. Add the lemon, soy sauce, and peanut butter. You can adjust quantities to taste. Keep cooking for a few more minutes, until creamy and warm throughout.
  6. Cook your soba noodles and brussels sprouts according to package directions.
Final Tempeh Concoction

Final Tempeh Concoction

The Fungus Among Us

The Fungus Among Us

 

To Assemble

  1. I like to rinse a few handfuls of salad greens and place them in a large bowl
  2. While the Tempeh sauce, brussels sprouts, and noodles are still hot, add them directly on top of the salad greens. This will wilt them slightly
  3. Mix it all together
  4. Eat. With hot sauce if needed
  5. Get your other to do the dishes for you
Greens and Brussels Sprouts are your friends

Greens and Brussels Sprouts are your friends

Final Product

Final Product

 

Three Stone Hearth Tour+Lunch

On this lovely Sunday morning, I had registered for a tour at Three Stone Hearth. I originally heard about it in the documentary Edible City  and had been wanting to go there for some time. When I arrived, I was greeted by the most delectable scent: a combination of yeastiness and probably some roasted meat. The 3 tenants they follow are earth, health and heart; all intertwine in their business model and in how they source and prepare their food.

  • earth: being as sustainable as possible. food is stored and sold in reusable glass that customers return. using responsibly sourced meats and produce. taking care not to create waste, and to dispose of what is created in a responsible manner. using all parts of the vegetable and animal. 
  • health: nutrient dense foods. traditional processing techniques. fermentation. bone broths.
  • heart: 5 co-owner/founders. creating community. having classes and workshops open to the public.

I was a little start struck throughout the tour because Jessica Prentice, one of the founders who is featured in Edible City, lead the tour. It began with a “this is what we do” and ended with a walk through of the facility. They were roasting chickens and making broths. Canning pickled beets and unloading produce. The Kombucha brewing operation is intense, with huge vats of it fermenting oh-so-peacefully. Giant SCOBYs were floating on top of the different colored liquids. While it was all good and great, their products are out of reach for a large range of the population. It caters to those who can afford it. While the foods may be nutrient dense and you are getting more nutrients per dollar, for someone without many dollars it might not be the most filling thing to eat. That is nutrient per dollar=great deal, but overall amount of food per dollar=not so satisfying. I think this model could be used to create jobs and a sustainable food processing and distribution facility in areas that are dubbed “food deserts”. It would be such a great place to work, me thinks, especially as this is the only place with a business model like they have. What was also really interesting is that in order to start, they took out loans not from banks, but from community members instead. And they are currently working on a way to not use credit cards in their ordering system–its challenging. If they are hiring after summer, I want a job there.