Thursday, January 23, 2014


Just one challenge, and it's for the veterans I see especially. In fact the recipes started as that, but I've had feedback from others that it's been helpful. Back to the challenge. I read a note from a friend that shared this website:  Check it out and come back; I'll still be here.

It would be great if this particular group, I'll call you 'Bay Vets,' could do this challenge. I heard on the news recently that when you ask someone that's stressed or depressed about what makes them happy, they'll answer in a general fashion, i.e., 'getting outside.' But when you ask them something that makes them sad, they have something particular in mind.

On the flip side, happy people give specifics that make them happy, and general things when it's something they don't like. So maybe if we can focus on the positive things a little more, we can take it to the next level. Yes, laughing in your sleep. Maybe not laughing, but you get the idea. Maybe you can talk amongst yourselves and find a place to post your '100 days' so you can share?

Yes, I do have a recipe, I'm going to write it tomorrow. Roasted vegetables, with squash, onions, potatoes, and garlic. Standby! In the meantime, sign up for the 100happydays challenge. I want feedback.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Recipe #2

Making the Basics: Mirepoix
Cost: About $5-6
Equipment: A large pan, a few onions, carrots, and 2 or 3 celery stalks, stock or broth
Time: About an hour

Colorful carrots
This is a fun thing to do, and it is the base for so many dishes you will want to make. It’s a great soup starter, and with the option of leaving vegetables whole or blending them, it gives you a few places to go from here. More about that after you’ve made it!

First, it’s just a trio of onions, celery, and carrots, in that order. Chop them up and sauté away. I used sheep’s butter on my last soup, and it was so wonderful. The flavor came through and it smelled heavenly. But any butter or oil will do – coconut, red palm (sustainably harvested, of course), olive, butter (even ghee, which is an Indian butter without the milk solids, which you can buy in a jar).

Now I’ve never been able to chop onions the way the chefs do on TV. I never will be able to, either. So my plan is to be careful and not lose any limbs. Use a few small onions or one large one. I chop the onion in half, from pole to pole. Then take the first half, and chop off

the top and bottom parts and peel off the skin. It should come off rather easily. Cut it in half across the equator. Now slice this quarter again and use the knife as if you were going from the crust to the interior, with the knife making longitudinal cuts so the onion falls into nice square pieces. I’m not fancy, it just gets the job done with minimal risk.

Dicing the onions, my way
Don’t think I owned a sharp knife till I graduated college, because I just didn’t trust myself. When I finally bought some sharp ones, it was a little bloody at first, but I got better at it quickly. Now do the same with the other 1/2 of the onion. Take out your pan (not Teflon!). Any large one will do. Put it over medium heat for a minute before you add the oil, then add the onions, coating them a bit with the oil. Let them soften and become translucent as they cook. Meanwhile, you will be chopping up the celery!

Celery dicing the easy way
Fancy chefs make all the pieces the same size, but they still taste the same, so do whatever makes you happy! I like to take 2 or 3 ribs, clean off the bottom and cut the top off before the first joint. The joints tend to be a bit bitter or tough, so toss them in some stock if you have some going, or put it in the compost. When slicing the celery, it’s easy to slice it down the middle, then slice it crossways, with all four to six sticks at once on the board.

About the same size
After the onions are nice and soft, add the celery. Meanwhile, if it browns, it adds some flavor, so don’t fret. Let’s get the carrots going, my least favorite vegetable to cut easily. Washing them first, it’s up to you whether you want to skin them first or not. I don’t, probably because I’m lazy. I also kind of feel like if you get some ‘dirt’ from the skin, it adds to your trace minerals! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Chop off the top and bottom, making sure you get rid of any green in the base. I like to cut it in half, then half again, if they’re thin, then crossways like the celery. But sometimes I buy these big honkin’ carrots that are as big as my wrist in circumference. Those take a little more work. You can slice them in strips, but keep in mind the vegetables should all be about the same size. And that’s the key: 'about' can mean anything you want it to mean.

Burnt spoons don't add flavor

You’re now adding the carrots to this sauté, and it’s starting to smell good. It’s time to think about what to add next. As you let the carrots soften, think about what you want. This mix is a great base for many meals, and you can stop here and think.

Here are some options:
All kinds of flavor
1. Soup
2. Miso (there all all different flavors and colors)
3. Chili (What? Never heard of carrots in chili? Cuts the acid!)
4. Chop up some more vegetables and saute them too (options: corn, peas, zucchini, potato)
5. Add some salt and pepper and eat it now, as is

No wait! I know, take that stock out of the freezer and put it into the pan! I like to hold it under warm running water for a few seconds till it starts to slide out of the container (use a finger to stop its slide!). Add it to the pan. Let it melt. You now have a wonderful soup base, after adding salt and pepper to taste (remember to taste).

Only add miso when the heat is off!

The other options (organic, please!) after adding stock:
1.     Potatoes
2.     Cauliflower
3.     Beans
4.     Jerusalem artichokes
5.     Corn (no GMO please)
6.     Pasta (least healthy but can be OK)
7.     A can of tomatoes or tomato paste
8.  Celery root, diced

Smells heavenly
Note: Fresh tomatoes have skin that turns into little red sticks when made into soup; if you don't mind it, go for it. Otherwise, you have to dip them in boiling water after scoring the sides so the skin peels off first.

Now here's the tough part. To blend, or not to blend? If you have a blender stick, be careful if you're using a shallow pan! Or you can use a blender, but make sure it's not too hot, and not too full.

Have your bowl and spoon ready, and remember, if you like it really hot, a narrow bowl will keep it hot longer. If you’re more visual, you may want a shallow bowl to enjoy the pretty picture you’ve created. Enjoy!