Winter Wonderland

Well, Nashville had a big, beautiful, panic-inducing snow this weekend.  The campus was blanketed in fresh snow on Friday which has now turned to perilous sheet of ice and gray sludge in some parts.  However, when the snow was falling softly on Friday, I decided to make some apple crisp.  I had all the ingredients, and I needed to use all the granny smith apples I got on sale at Publix.  I’d never made it before, so I adapted a Betty Crocker recipe with some touches I found in other recipes.   It was really sweet, as apple crisp tends to be, but it was great with some vanilla ice cream and a warm, homey treat while the snow was falling.

Alumni Lawn when the snow started falling…there was a lot more to come.

4 cups of tart apples, cut in slices
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs spiced rum
Pinch of salt
Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Toss the apples in lemon juice, maple syrup, and rum and place in a baking dish.  Cut the butter into the flour, oats, sugar, and salt until it forms small crumbles.  Pour over apples and place in the oven until topping is golden brown and apples are tender–about 30 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Top with vanilla ice cream and serve.


Spicy Soba Noodles with Broccoli and Cauliflower

I’ve been trying to eat up my cauliflower and broccoli before it spoils, so I last night I decided to throw it into some soba noodles with a spicy sauce.  I’ve recently become obsessed with soba noodles; they’re tasty, healthy, and have an earthy grey color that I strangely find appealing.  I made the sauce out of some stuff I had in the pantry, including one of my favorite condiments, Sriracha Sauce!  I will put that stuff on anything.  Anyway, I boiled a bundle of soba noodles and steamed my vegetables, then mixed up the sauce.

1 Tbs Sesame Oil
1 Tbs Sriracha Sauce (or to taste, less if you don’t like it really spicy)
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
Juice of a Lemon
Garlic Powder (optional, to taste)

I just tossed the noodles and vegetables in a little of the sauce, and it was done!  All in all it was delicious and fiery, just the way I like it.  If I had good eggs, I might have scrambled some in; or I could have added sesame seeds or crushed peanuts if I had them.  I actually had a lot of sauce left over so I saved it and poured it over some veggies (guess which kind) for lunch today.  Yummm.

Lentil Soup and Tostones

Mother Nature is going to make me fat if she keeps this kind of weather up.  It’s a good thing I’ve been dragging myself to the gym on a semiregular basis.  Anyway, today I actually had a hard time figuring out what I wanted for dinner.   I was actually craving ramen, but then my roommates started talking about tapeworms so…yeah.  I figured I better start cooking something or I’d starve.  I ended up doing a spicy lentil, broccoli, and mushroom soup.  Unfortunately I had no stock so it could have been so much better but it was warm, spicy, good and filling so it did the trick.

I fried some tostones (again).  That’s pretty much no fail; and delicious.  All you need are green plantains, canola oil, and salt.  Warm up some oil in a frying pan medium-high heat (enough to reach halfway up the plantain slices).  Cut green plantains in about one inch thick slices.  (They have to be green.)  Put them in the oil to fry, flipping them over to get them golden on both sides.  Next you’ll want to take them out of the oil and find something to crush them down with.  There are special tools for this but I just used the bottom of a bowl.  Once you’ve squashed them, put them in the oil to fry again until nice and crispy.  Place on paper towels to absorb some of the oil and sprinkle with salt.  Dee-lish.

Comfort for the Comfortless

It was a depressing day here in Nashville.  Near sixty degrees yesterday was merely a cruel tease, albeit a predictable one.  It’s January, after all.  As per usual in Nashville, the temperature dropped and it randomly snowed for a bit.  Combine that with a “case of the Mondays” and you get cravings for warm, fried, and/or sugary foods.   I was really craving tostones (twice-fried plantains) so I bought some green plantains, fried them up, sprinkled some sea salt, and gobbled them down before I could even take a picture.  (For dinner, by the way, I utilized that broccoli and cauliflower again, only this time I chopped it up and mixed it with couscous and red pepper flakes, yummm.)  Later on, much preferring to bake than do homework, I made those maple walnut chocolate chip cookies again.  (A few posts back.)  My roommates had no problem with this.  They were better last time (the cookies, I mean), when I had real maple syrup and brown sugar, but they’re all right.  Tomorrow I plan on trying something new……

A Shopper's Dilemma

Friday night I spent more than an hour at the supermarket and left with only a few items: almond milk, bread, brown rice, broccoli, cauliflower, grapefruit, and vegetarian hotdogs.  Ever since reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan I’ve been putting more thought into what I put in my mouth.  (Yeah, I know, “that’s what she said.”)  The book was a fascinating look into what America is feeding itself, and to sum it up…it ain’t good.  Corporate agribusiness is costing us and our earth more than we know.  There’s a lot of hidden costs to that cheap chicken breast and one dollar hamburger, and they come out of your tax dollars.  It was informative and interesting, but somewhat disheartening; Pollan doesn’t offer any solutions (which I don’t blame him for since there is no easy solution) and he is hesitant to take sides but definitely leans towards locally sourced foods from small scale farms.  In the end, I was still trapped in the dilemma:  What do I eat?

After Thanksgiving I experimented with being a vegetarian (semi-vegetarian, I couldn’t bring myself to give up sushi) in light of all the terrible things I read about factory farms.  Though I’m not completely vegetarian at the moment, I haven’t been able to eat much meat.  I’m once again on a semi-vegetarian track.  I keep thinking about those animals crowded on top of each other covered in their own shit, pumped with antibiotics.  Even the labels “organic,” “cage-free,” and “grass-fed” don’t mean anything.  USDA guidelines are lenient and clearly serving agricultural lobbyists.  “Free-range” in their definition is having “access” to the outside, which amounts to a little door at the end of their coops that can’t even utilize most of the time.

All these things made me spend over an hour at the supermarket deciding what to eat.  I actually used my phone to google unknown ingredients in soymilk.   I wanted to buy “cage-free” eggs but I was too disgusted with what I knew to buy them.  And the produce?  I was bothered by the fact that I didn’t know what was actually in season, that these foods used gallons and gallons of petroleum to get to that Kroger, and that it had probably been forever since they came from the earth.  I finally buckled and did buy some produce, realizing that part of eating in America is forgetting.  Being ignorant.  And I find that disturbing.  I love food, and I don’t just want to consume it for just for its calories; I want to enjoy the karmic pleasure of eating real food.

I realize part of my dilemma in the supermarket stemmed from the fact that I was shopping in a supermarket.  I want to explore local food options.  Check out the farmer’s market.  In my Southern Food class we’re studying all these things, the food industry, Southern food ways, etc., so it’ll be part of my curriculum anyway.  :)  Today when I was chopping my purple cauliflower and broccoli I had to stop myself from being disgusted that they were miles and days from the earth they were grown in.  I was fascinated by the purple cauliflower they used in the Iron Chef Battle with the White House Executive Chef, so I wanted to try it.

I just sautéed it in some olive oil with broccoli and sprinkled some salt and pepper.  It was good, and pretty…but I know that it could have been so much greater if it was fresher.  Crunching away on my compromise I tried to forget that instead of being recently misted with morning dew or sprinkled with rain, these vegetables were sprayed with water introduced by an artificial clap of thunder from an overhead sprinkler system in Kroger.