Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mediterranean Millet Cakes with Kalamata Olives and Capers

Last night I wanted to make a roasted beet salad for dinner, but a roasted beet salad is just a side dish.  I needed something else for the "main dish."  I wanted something vegetarian.  I did not want beans.  I did not want pasta.  I kept going back to those Asian flavored millet cakes that I last posted, but I did not think the Asian flavoring would go well with the beet salad.  I thought mediterranean flavors would go better.  So I decided to adjust the recipe I developed for the Asian millet cakes so that it would go better with the beets.  There are lots of mediterranean flavors, but kalamata olives and capers say "Mediterranean!" to me.  And I had a luscious home-grown tomato on my counter, which would go marvelously with the olives and capers.  I used the idea of cooking carrots and onions in the water with the millet  to impart a slightly sweet flavor, as it had worked well with the Asian millet cakes.  I did not have feta cheese but I bet that would go well with these.  If you have some in your refrigerator, try adding a little to the mixture if you are adventurous enough (I cannot vouch that it will work, since I did not try it, though I definitely will try it another time).  Or you could just try sprinkling a little on top so that if it turns out not to be good you haven't spoiled the whole batch.  I am pretty sure the flavors will go well together, though.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Savory Asian Millet Cakes

Millet is a very nutritious grain, with over 80 nutrients.  It is especially high in protein, manganese, tryptophan, magnesium and phosphorus.  Developing a repertoire of grain-based dishes will help you reduce your need for meat in your diet, which will in turn help preserve the Earth and our environment.  

I like to buy millet in the bulk section of the health food store.  To be extra kind to the environment, I take a clean jar with me to the store, have a cashier weigh the jar as I enter, then I fill it with millet and have them subtract the weight of the jar from the total weight.  If you find a store that sells bulk foods, and it does not have a clear system established for weighing containers before filling them, you should ask.  As more and more people indicate their environmentally conscious preferences for systems that reduce waste, businesses will respond with solutions that demonstrate their desire for sustainability.

A number of years ago, I had millet cakes from the prepared foods section of a supermarket in Baltimore.  I absolutely loved them, but never saw them again in that supermarket or anywhere else.  I tried to duplicate them more than once, with disappointing results.  I posted a quinoa recipe awhile ago that was adequate but not delicious.  This one is delicious.  It probably doesn't taste exactly like the millet cakes I ate so long ago, but I am pleased with the results of my experimentation and will definitely make it again.  Simmering the vegetables with the millet imparts a slightly sweet flavor, and the Asian seasoning is subtle but good.  I chopped the zucchini and carrots in a food processor, because that was the appliance I had on hand.  I might have tried shredding the zucchini and carrots if I had had a shredding attachment available.  Feel free to try that--and let me know in the comments how it affects it!  As an alternate method of preparing these, you could use leftover millet from another dish, and add sauteed carrots, zucchini, and celery along with the other additions to make the patties.

These cakes make a nice supper, with a green vegetable or salad on the side.  Leftovers are great warmed up for lunch.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Orange Kale and Chicken

I try to use as many local ingredients as possible.  Kale is a vegetable that you can probably find at your local farmers' market, if you don't grow it yourself.  I even included kale in my garden this year, which speaks to the ease of growing it.  Increasing the proportion of plants to meat in your diet will help sustain our planet, as plants require fewer resources to grow than animals do.  As the human population increases, and as a greater number of people globally become more affluent and eat more meat as a result of their new affluence, our food resources will become more strained.  By reducing your own meat consumption, you can set an example for the rest of the world to help sustain our planet.  

This dish includes a small quantity of chicken, relying on vegetables included in the meal to fill people up.  I find that cutting boneless chicken into bite-sized chunks and combining it with vegetables enables me to reduce the amount of chicken I cook for people.  When I serve whole pieces of chicken, I allow a piece per person, otherwise I think people would not feel they were getting an adequate amount of meat.  Using chunks of chicken hides from people the actual quantity being served, so it allows the cook to reduce the amount of meat in a way that does not make people feel cheated. While I have pretty much eliminated meat from my diet, through a gradual process, I still cook meat for other members of my family who do not want to take such extreme measures.  Last night, I created this dish and served it with roasted delicata squash slices, tossed with a lemon tahini dressing (I got the recipe from epicurious.com), and a Spanish rice dish.  I served myself only the kale from this dish, while other members of my family ate the chicken cooked with the kale.  It was a filling, wholesome and delicious meal.

2 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
½ large onion, cut into strips
Dash seasoning (or other spice blend, or use a mixture of salt, pepper, oregano and maybe basil or marjoram)
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 bunch kale, leaves stripped from ribs and chopped
1 cup orange juice
1 TBS soy sauce

Sprinkle chicken liberally on all sides with Dash seasoning.  Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Cook garlic, stirring, briefly—be careful not to burn it.  Add onions and stir.  Cook until onions begin to become translucent.  Raise heat to high and add chicken.  Brown chicken on all sides.  Mix orange juice and soy sauce.  Add kale and orange juice mixture to pan.  Reduce heat so that liquid simmers gently.  If it seems like all the kale won’t fit into the pan, be patient.  Stir the kale into the juice and, as it cooks, move it to the top and move uncooked kale to the bottom of the pan.  It will lose volume as it cooks and you can continue to fold more kale into the pan.  Continue cooking and stirring kale under the chicken as it cooks so that everything is coated with the orange juice mixture.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through and kale is cooked, about 15 minutes or so.  Serves 3-4.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Green Beans with Asian Dressing

Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best.  I love fresh green beans, best when eaten within a day or two of picking.  This is the time of year to enjoy them!  I was raised eating green beans with melted butter, salt and pepper.  Delicious, but not so good for your arteries.  Others have served me green beans with sesame oil, which is nice, but a little bland.  I wanted to develop a simple way to prepare green beans that was heart-healthy and delicious.  And not much more complicated than smearing them with butter.  This is a real winning recipe, in my opinion.  My 12 year old nephew couldn't stop eating them--he even picked them out of the pan with his fingers after we had finished eating dinner!  The highest compliment, and makes cleanup easier!  I think the secret is in the ume plum vinegar, which gives the dish a bit of oomph.

1 lb. green beans
1 tsp sesame oil
1 TBS ume plum vinegar
2 TBS tamari or soy sauce

Steam green beans until crisp-tender (I cooked them in just a little boiling water in a wide skillet, covered, for a few minutes).  Mix sesame oil, ume plum vinegar and tamari or soy sauce and toss with green beans.  Serves 4-6.