Recipe 3/36: Potato soup

This started out as a cream of potato soup recipe, but since Lisa not a cream soup person and is working to minimize her dairy intake, I decided to forgo the dairy and replaced it with a light brown rue to add mouth feel.  I had intended to put a stick blender to some of the vegetables, but by the time it was done, it really didn’t need any more.  For Lisa, I went the extra mile and didn’t use AP flour, replacing it instead with a Bob’s Red Mill GF AP flour.   This turned out to be a really good heavy soup.  I got a loaf of artisan bread from the local bakery and we had cheese sandwiches and soup for dinner last night.

 

Ingredients
2 medium russet potatoes cubed
1 large carrot, diced
1 small stalk celery with leaves, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup crimini mushrooms
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
2 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of oil

Directions

Chop the carrot, celery and onions and sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes and then set aside.  Add the oil and flour into a pan over medium low heat and stir for 5-7 minutes until you have light brown rue.  Add the sautéed vegetables and chicken stock and set to medium heat.  Chop the potatoes and add them and all the spices to the soup, bring it up to a simmer and let simmer for 25 minutes.  Chop the mushrooms and add them when the simmer is complete, give them a few minutes to heat through and then serve.

Recipe 2/36 – My savory breakfast shake

My wife started making us breakfast shakes a couple of years ago. Fruit shakes, with yogurt and other goodness. Since those early heady days, the shakes have gone through a lot of modification as she has focused on changing her diet. The dairy disappeared, flax, vegetable powder, hemp powder, romaine, kale and other green goodness was added. Finally the shakes reached a point where my palette could not handle it any more. The flavor and consistency made it a struggle to consume and I started to give them up.

Instead I started eating junk and quickly realized that having something good in the morning was important. Som I sat down to peruse her books of shakes, but wasn’t finding any recipes that I liked. I couldn’t figure out how to balance out fruity sweetness and the savory odds and ends that were pitched in because they were good for us. Then I recalled last fall when I made a massive amount of a homemade V8 style tomato juice and thought that perhaps a purely savory drink might take care of my issues. I scrawled down a recipe on a post-it note and it worked out pretty well, with only some minor adjustments to the ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tomato
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 cup of green tea
  • 1/2 tsp. of ground pepper (I grind 8 peppercorns with the flax)
  • 2 tsp. ground flax seed
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (we use hemp, but whey, soy or your choice)
  • Any two of the following:
    • 1 romaine leaf
    • 1 chard leaf
    • 1 kale leaf
    • 3-4 spinach leaves
  • Either one of these two:
    • 1 tsp. of ground fennel
    • 1 tsp. of ground cumin
  • Some combination of 2 tsp. dried:
    • Parsley
    • Oregano
    • Basil

Directions

I grind all the spices and flax fresh and toss them in first along with the herbs and protein power, then I had the leafy staff and finally I quarter the tomato and toss it in. Take everything for a spin until its bright green and smoothish looking, glass and drink.

Lisa tried the drink and through that she might like it as a raw old soup for lunch, but didn’t see it as a breakfast drink.

This week I bought fresh parsley and tossed some in instead of dried. It seemed to make the final product a brighter green and possible a little fresher testing, but I’ll have to experiment some more. I think fresh basil or cilantro along with the fennel could be a winner, although my wife won’t drink it if it contained either fennel or cilantro.

Recipe 1/36 Dairy fee iced chai

While I am don’t include dairy or eggs as part of my weekday vegetarian goal for the week, I am trying to reduce to my overall dairy intake. I used to be a gallon or two of milk kind of guy, so cutting back and drinking other healthy alternatives was a good idea. Also, being a once a day coffee shop iced chai drinker was a habit that is not particular good for me and expensive to boot. It also slips this entry into other of my goals to cut back on what I spend in coffee shops and to drink more green tea.

I have made my own ice chai with varying degree of success over the last few years. At is best is was nearly as good as coffee shop chai at it.s worst it was… well, just not all that good.

One of my issues was the annoyance of getting the flavor of the spices out on a regular basis while retaining the health qualities of green tea. I wasn’t able to get the right mix of fresh tea, milk, spices and convenience that I wanted.

It wasn’t until I contemplated dairy free chai that I had the idea that I could integrate my dairy replacement with my spice extraction and have everything that I was looking for.

I had settled on cashew milk as my dairy replacement. I figured that the nutty flavor would meld well with the favors well and not over power the drink.

Ingredients

3 cups of water
1 cup of cashews
1 stick of cinnamon
2 tsps of whole cardamom (or 6-8 lightly crushed pods)
2 whole cloves
6 black peppercorns
Half a star anise
1 or 2 tbs of honey

Directions

Add the whole spices to the water and then bring to a full boil, stir in the honey until it dissolves into water. Turn the heat of and let set for 30 minutes. Poor the water into a container, straining out the spies, let the liquid cool to room temperature then add the water and cashew nuts to a blender. Turn on the blender on a low speed setting for 30 seconds or so, then turn it up to high for about a minute, Return mixture to container and refrigerate.

To make the ice chai, use a ratio of 2/3 green tea to 1/3 spiced cashew milk into a glass with ice. The particulates in the cashew milk will settle as it sits, so its good to give it a stir before adding it to the glass. If the glass sits for a while between sips, give it a swirl before you drink or you’ll find the bottom of the glass has a much stronger nut flavor that the first half.

Goal for the year

So in October/November I decided to try to go vegetarian during the week. I have been trying to change my eating habits for the better over the last few years. I have been fairly successful, switching to organic food and eating more sustainably. But I still feel like I was overeating to often. So while I don’t I don’t have serious moral or dietary reasons for being strict vegetarian, I find that I am more likely to overeat when eating meat. I theorized that if I cut a significant amount of meat out of my diet It might help remediate that problem.

Thus far I have been reasonably successful. I haven’t had the sort of meltdown that makes me want to give up on the plan altogether, but it does seem that every other week I end up having a little meat during the week. I am not in a place where I feel I want to give meat totally, but I am finding that I don’t want meAt on Sundays just so I don’t have left overs that I’ll need to deal with during the week.

All of that is a long prelude to one of the goals that I have set for myself for 2012. Which is to try 36 new vegetarian recipes and blog about them here. One of my issues with going vegetarian is that I lack the goto recipes to fall back on nights when I come home and don’t want to think about cooking. When I come home like that now I am likely to either go out for dinner or to fall back to meaty recipes that I like and have been cooking for so long I don’t have to think about them. I have had some success converting some of those recipes into meatless version and I have learned a few new ones as well.

Still I think I need a lot more to get me over the hump attempting 36 new recipes. Three new recipes a month should be easy to accomplish and not leaving me feeling overwhelmed. If out of the 36 I can find 6-8 that I like enough to ok often and more that I like to cook occasionally that I will be inch better shape.

so stay tuned and I’ll see what I can one up with.