Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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A Double Rainbow and a Delicious Salad

Our morning began with the required glass of Freshly Pressed Ginger Kombucha, then a relaxing stroll on Baldwin Beach in Paia, which is about 15 minutes down the slope of Haleakala from our home.  Lifeguards were not yet on duty, and we shared the beach with fewer than two dozen early risers who wished to start their day with a soundtrack of gentle waves crashing and then receding into the vast Pacific.  The temperature was somewhere in the high 70s, with the perfect level of skin caressing breeze.  A double rainbow spanned the western sky, although the second one was camouflaged by clouds.

double rainbow at Baldwin

Of course, there were the usual dogs running willy nilly, some playing in the salty ocean, and others happily chasing each other in the sand {How did I not photograph the dogs??}.  My husband spotted one of those fluorescent green tennis balls in the sand, which he donated to a lucky dog who passed by at just the right moment; the dog, whose mannerisms reminded us of our dog Max {an Australian shepherd who passed away a few years ago}, was delighted by his good fortune.  It’s a little over two miles to walk the entire beach. . .I highly recommend it if you are in the neighborhood.

Looking north at Baldwin

After our walk, we went for coffee at Maui Coffee Roasters in Kahului.  My husband has a number of free drinks on his card, so that was the perfect way to top off our walk.

Next stop was home for breakfast.  I’ve shared my breakfast salads with you before, and for those of you who are okay with eating salad for breakfast, this one is a winner.  My husband bought some gorgeous beets from the farmers’ market last Saturday, so those definitely had a place in the salad.  There are blueberries in the freezer, which play nicely with beets and goat cheese, so in they went.  And there is more. . .

This is more of a guideline than a recipe, so play around with ingredients & make it your own.  For me, the key components are the beets, berries, goat cheese and nuts.  The black currant balsamic adds a lovely fruitiness which I highly recommend, if you can get your hands on some.  This shouldn’t be difficult, because it seems that olive oil and vinegar tasting stores are cropping up all around.  I read about such a place here on Maui, Wailea to be exact, several months ago in our local paper.  The first one I visited, however, was in Port Townsend, WA.  We moved to Maui in the summer of 2011, but I had not gone back to visit until this year, when I went twice in two months.  What fun I had!  Anyway, in Port Townsend, there it was, this fabulous store {Lively Olive} that had kegs of extra virgin olive oils and vinegars begging to be tasted.  I love vinegar and olive oil, so I was thrilled to stumble upon this place.  I brought home a bottle each of Blenheim apricot white balsamic and black currant balsamic.  I thought the black currant would be great with the blueberries and it did not disappoint.  After returning home, I thought I should visit the store in Wailea {Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars}.  The sales people were offering up all kinds of deliciousness in the form of taste combinations:  coconut balsamic + Persian lime extra virgin olive oil was the one I was particularly smitten with, so I purchased the coconut balsamic.  I decided I would make my own lime olive oil, and make some kind of salad that involved soft Manoa lettuce, sweet onion and mango, among other things.  If you are a Hawaii resident, Fustini’s offers a kamaaina discount!  Feel free to use another vinegar if you can’t find black currant balsamic. . .I’m sure your salad will be delicious!

plate salad with beets, goat cheese

Beet, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Salad with Black Currant Vinaigrette

Salad greens, washed & thoroughly dried {I used kale and romaine}

Beets, cooked, peeled and diced

Blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen

Onions, thinly sliced

Fresh herbs, torn or julienned {I used basil and mint}

Soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Walnuts, toasted & broken

Eggs, prepared however you like them, optional

Extra virgin olive oil

Black Currant Balsamic

Salt & freshly ground pepper

I like to build meal size salads on a dinner plate, but you can use whatever you like.  The lettuce goes down first, and is topped by the fresh herbs.  Add beets, blueberries, onions and goat cheese.  Top with walnuts, salt and pepper.  Drizzle salad with black currant balsamic and olive oil.  If you are putting an egg on your salad, add it right now.  Enjoy!

plate salad with eggs

Bon appetit!


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The Anatomy of a Simple Summer Salad

“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”  ~ modified from Edward Stanley

Tis the season for salads!  Welcome Summer!  Even here in Maui, where it always feels like summer during the day, we have growing seasons for our locally grown fruits and vegetables.  Truth be told, we eat salads all year long, and did even in the depths {and despair} of cold, rainy Pacific Northwest winters {paired with something hot and hearty, of course}.  The fresh flavors and textures of salads, created from myriad ingredients, including vegetables, fruits, herbs and grains cannot be beat. Salads need not be complicated to be delicious.  They can be as simple as arugula with thinly sliced onion, salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.  This is one of my favorite flavor combinations.  Today’s lunch salad was not only gorgeous, it was a gastronomic delight!  Select whatever greens you like, but I think it is best with a tender lettuce like red leaf, Manoa, butter or some other soft variety.  Once you cut the fruit off the mango, use your impeccably clean hands to squeeze the pit, because it will release a lot of delicious juice that will become part of the dressing; I hold it over my salad and squeeze until it has given up all it has to give.   It is impossible to cut every bit of flesh off of a mango, so this is my way of getting every last bit of goodness from this tasty fruit.

 

Salad with steak, purslane & cilantro blossoms

 Salad of Greens, Mangoes, Tomatoes, Purslane and Steak

Salad greens, washed and spun dry {your choice}
Green onions, thinly sliced
Tomatoes, diced
Mangoes, diced
Steak, cut into bite size pieces
Cilantro leaves, fronds & blossoms
Purslane clusters
Champagne vinegar, or other mild white vinegar {white wine, unseasoned rice}
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Put greens in a bowl and top with onions, tomatoes & their juices, mangoes and steak.  Top with a few purslane clusters and cilantro leaves, fronds & blossoms.  Season salad with salt and pepper.  Squeeze the mango pit over the salad to release all the juice you can.  Drizzle with champagne vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to taste.  Enjoy!

Notes:

  • If you don’t have green onions, a sweet onion like Maui, Vidalia, Walla Walla Sweet, etc. would be delicious.
  • Add any protein you want, or none at all.  Chicken, salmon or shrimp would all be nice.
  • I used cilantro fronds & blossoms because I have one overachieving plant that has outgrown all the others, which are too small to harvest, and I am trying to use the whole plant.  Use whatever you have.  Mint and/or basil would be fabulous!
  • If you don’t have purslane in your garden, try to get some from the farmers’ market.  If you see little black seeds around the leaves, lucky you!  Plant those seeds and grow your own purslane, which is what I did.  It is doing quite well, thank you very much.
  • Papaya would also be good in this salad, but you won’t have any juice like with mango.
cilantro plant

Cilantro-don’t forget to use the fronds and blossoms; they are pretty & delicious!

purslaneplant

Purslane is easy to grow. In fact, you may have some in your yard, as it is considered a weed {a healthy weed}.


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A Delicious Bowl of Beans

Before getting into the nitty gritty of garbanzo beans, which I love, I want to pass along information on a couple of free online classes.  Go to Craftsy, and check out their free mini-classes.  I don’t know if these classes are forever free, or if  just a current special, but it’s worth checking into.  What I have watched of the knife skills class so far, about 30 minutes, has been interesting and helpful.  I’m also signed up for a free class called Perfect Pizza at Home, with Peter Reinhart {The Bread Baker’s Apprentice author} as the helm as instructor.  I have not started that class yet {where does my time go???}. Reinhart is also teaching a class {not free} called Artisan Bread Making, which I have started; so far it’s great!

Beans are on many people’s lists of healthy foods; they are full of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, and they taste great.  There is something very satisfying about cooking a pot of beans.  I can’t put my finger on it, but for me, it’s in the same vein as baking yeast bread.  The kinesthetic aspect of making bread isn’t present in cooking beans, but a pot of well-seasoned beans can make your house smell wonderful, and they make for some mighty fine eating.  Cooking a pot of beans can take about the same amount of time as baking bread, but it is hands-off time for the most part, which is nice.  Think of all the things you can get done while your beans are slowly simmering and bubbling away on the stove.  Many people think that beans are too much trouble because they need to be soaked overnight and their cooking time is less than speedy. . . fast food they are not.  Beans will cook faster if soaked overnight, but they do not have to be soaked.  Rarely do I think about cooking beans tomorrow.  Rather, I get up in the morning and decide to cook some beans.  The age of your beans has something to do with how quickly they cook, with fresher beans cooking more quickly.

I find all beans delicious {except maybe black-eyed peas, but I’m trying}, but my favorite bean is the garbanzo bean, also known as the chickpea.  I didn’t eat them as a kid though.  My mom used to buy canned chickpeas, and I wouldn’t touch them because I thought the name sounded gross.  Maybe that’s why I prefer calling them garbanzo beans.  I like them because they are so versatile and tasty with the flavors that I find totally irresistible {Middle Eastern flavors in particular}.  Anyway, now I eat them in a variety of ways.

  • There’s always hummus, especially with homemade pita bread or fresh fennel.
  • Garbanzos are great on top of a green salad.
  • Falafel burgers!
  • Middle Eastern Tacos!
  • You can put some beans, preferably freshly cooked & still a titch warm, into a bowl, and then drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil, a healthy squeeze of lemon, salt and freshly ground pepper.  Don’t worry about draining the beans thoroughly, because the broth is delicious and mingles nicely with your dressing.  Some diced avocado would be great here too.  Simply delicious!

My favorite way to enjoy garbanzo beans just may be this recipe from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  I love pretty much everything I’ve made from this cookbook, and this dish is right up at the top.  It’s one of my husband’s favorite things I make, and he would rather have a pot of pinto beans than garbanzo beans, so that’s saying a lot.  First, you will need some cooked garbanzo beans.  I’m hoping that you will try this recipe for preparing dry garbanzo beans, as it is excellent.

Garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, fresh parsley and kombu

Garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, fresh parsley and kombu

Freshly Cooked Garbanzo Beans
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1 cup garbanzo beans, cleaned & soaked {you don’t have to soak them, but they will take longer to cook}
Aromatics: 1 onion, quartered, 2 parsley sprigs, 4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6” piece of kombu, or a few pinches asafetida, optional {I love to eat the cooked kombu}
1 ½ tsp salt

Cover garbanzo beans with 2 quarts fresh water & add remaining ingredients, except salt.  Add the salt when the beans have been cooking for about 30″.   Simmer until completely tender, but not mushy.  I start checking at around 45”.  Let the beans cool in the broth.  I will often leave all the aromatics in the beans, except the parsley and bay leaf.

Spicy Chickpeas with Ginger and Aioli make a delicious meal!

Spicy Chickpeas with Ginger
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

3 tbsp mustard oil or vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tomatoes, peeled and diced {I usually use a 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes}
1 1/2 cups chickpea broth or water
3 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 15-oz. cans, rinsed
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Garnishes:  diced onion, minced jalapeño, chopped fresh cilantro and diced fresh tomato

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until well-browned, 12 to 15 minutes.  Lower the heat and add the bay leaf, garlic, ginger, spices, 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper and the tomatoes.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add the chickpea broth and chickpeas.  Simmer until the liquid is reduced to a sauce like consistency.  Taste for salt and season with lemon juice.  Serve with the garnishes {in small dishes} or scatter them over the chickpeas.

Spicy Chickpeas with Ginger and Aioli

Hands down our favorite way to eat this dish.  In fact, I don’t think we have ever eaten it without the aioli.  All of the garnishes, particularly the aioli, make this dish fabulous, in my opinion.

Notes:

  • Make the aioli-it’s totally worth it!  The warmth of the beans accentuates the flavor and aroma of the aioli when you slip a dollop of it right in the center of your bowl of beans.  Then top with the onion, jalapeño, tomato and cilantro.  Use commercial or homemade mayonnaise for your aioli, but please do try it, at least the first time.  You won’t be sorry.
  • For the best end result, cook dry beans instead of using canned.  Even though I prefer starting with dry beans, I’m not opposed to all canned beans.  However, my experience with canned garbanzo beans is that the beans tend to have more bite than I like.  A well-cooked garbanzo bean is tender enough to be mashed between your tongue and the roof of your mouth {a good test for doneness!}.  They should be soft and creamy, not al dente.
  • Soak or don’t soak, and cook your beans using whatever method you prefer, but season them well, so they will be delicious even when they stand alone.  I like Deborah Madison’s method for producing a fantastic tasting pot of beans.  If you put the kombu {seaweed} in, it is a real treat to eat when the beans are done; I love it.  Kombu adds a lot to the beans, so I encourage you to put it in, and eat it when the beans are cooked.
  • I buy Rising Tide Kombu from Mana Foods, here in Paia.  You can purchase kombu on line, or I’m sure you can find it at Whole Foods or any good natural foods store.
  • Serve with cooked brown rice, naan or all by itself with the garnishes & enjoy!

I do hope you will give this a try, and that you love it as much as I do.  Let me know what you think!Spicy Chickpeas with Ginger and Aioli

Bon appétit!

 


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Refrigerator Confidential Day #4

Welcome to Day #4 of Refrigerator Confidential!  I’m not sure if you noticed, but we can sure tell that the fridge has more room to move around.  Even though it’s great to have a well-stocked refrigerator, it is fun to “eat it down” and look forward to starting all over again on Saturday.

Tuesday’s Meals with Recipes:

Breakfast

Me- leftover baked potato from yesterday’s lunch, 1/2 grapefruit, Breakfast “Borscht”
My husband- same as the last 2 days {plain yogurt, nuts, dried fruit, local honey}

Lunch

Roasted Carrot Soup
Ryvita Crackers with Organic Cultured Butter

Dinner

Leftover Baked Salmon
Orange & Molokai Purple Sweet Potato Fries
Steamed Beet Greens

Breakfast Beet and Yogurt “Borscht”

I was going to blend up a frozen banana and some plain yogurt to make a banana lassi {although I don’t think you would use frozen fruit in a lassi}, and then it occurred to me that pickled beets and yogurt would be a good combination {think chilled beet borscht with a dollop of sour cream top}.  Mine would be kind of a speedy version of chilled beet borscht.  A big spoonful of pickled beets, with a creamy cloud of plain yogurt swirled in, and a sprinkle of dill and voila, “borscht”!  I tasted it, and thought that some capers would add a nice punch of flavor, and indeed they did.  I love capers!  Actually, I just learned on the Splendid Table podcast last week that capers are more properly called caper buds, because they are the bud of the caper flower {from the caper plant} before it opens.  When the flower drops off, what is left is a caper berry, which looks like a giant caper bud.  I have never tried caper berries, but I hear that they are not quite as pungent as the caper buds.  Had I not eaten the baked potato, I would have enjoyed my yogurt with a buttered Ryvita {a buttered Ryvita is always good}.

Roasted Carrot Soup
adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen 

This is another of my favorite soup recipes from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen .  I think I have mentioned before that it is my favorite soup cookbook, and Madison is my favorite cookbook author.

1 pound carrots, cut into chunks
2 small potatoes, cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into chunks
5 garlic cloves, peeled
2-4 tbsp olive oil {I used 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil}
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 hefty thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf {I used 2}
*1 quart vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup light cream {I used 2% milk, and the soup was delicious.  I don’t think I’ve ever made it with cream.}
2-3 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream, stirred with a fork until loosened {I used plain yogurt, but would use one of the other choices if I had them on hand.}
Fresh minced parsley or chives

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F {I used 375 degrees F.}.  Toss the vegetables with the olive oil and season with 1/2 tsp salt and some pepper.  Put them in a large baking dish sprayed with pan spray for easy cleanup {I used a 9″x13″ Pyrex baking dish.}, along with the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.  Roast until tender and glazed, about 1 hour, turning them 2-3 times.

Transfer the vegetables to a soup pot, add stock or water and bring to the boil.  Simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20″, then puree until smooth.  An immersion blender is a great tool for this-very quick and easy.  Return the puree to the pot {if you used a blender}, taste for salt, and season with pepper.  Stir in the cream or milk.

Ladle the soup into bowls, swirl in a spoonful of creme fraiche, sour cream or yogurt into each, top with minced parsley and serve piping hot.  Delicious and super healthy!

Makes about 4 servings {6 cups}.

*I used to make homemade vegetable stock for soup until I read Deborah Madison say that if you have great vegetables, you can use water in lieu of stock.  So unless a soup calls for a specific stock {i.e. red stock for tortilla soup, mushroom stock, etc.}, I use water and the soup is great.  I do not care for store bought vegetable stock.

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We had a tasty little wine and cheese pupu {appetizer} while waiting for our Orange and Molokai Purple Sweet Potato Fries to roast.

wine and parmesan appetizer

 

Orange and Molokai Purple Sweet Potato Fries

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Roasted Orange and Molokai Purple Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Make sure you have a rack positioned on the bottom of your oven.
3 potatoes will fill up a half-sheet pan-use 2 pans if you want more fries

Cut potatoes so they are approximately the same size; you can cut them into any shape you want {slices, wedges, French fries…}.  Place potatoes on a sheet pan that has been lined with foil, sprayed with pan spray {they will stick if you don’t} and drizzled with olive oil.  Season with kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper and red pepper flakes.  The red pepper flakes add a great spicy counterpoint to the sweetness of the potatoes; I wouldn’t leave them out, but if you aren’t a fan of spicy, by all means don’t use them.  I love spicy!!

Roast the potatoes on the bottom oven rack until they are browned and starting to get crispy, stirring occasionally. They will be tender in about 20 minutes, but leave them in longer so they will brown and crisp up.  The purple potatoes can get dried out if you leave them in too long, so keep an eye on them after 20 minutes or so.

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Steamed Beet Greens

Fresh beet greens {1 pound will serve 2-4 people}
Extra virgin olive oil
Butter
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
Sherry vinegar or lemon juice

Wash greens well, making sure water is clear, as beet greens can be quite dirty.  Discard any tough stems {or cut small & sauté} and roughly chop the greens.  Spin them mostly dry, but leave some water clinging to the leaves for steaming.  Put greens in a pot large enough to hold them, cover and cook over medium high heat until tender, 10-15 minutes.  Stir occasionally so they do not burn or stick.  When the greens are tender, season with a little butter, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  If desired, sprinkle with a bit of sherry vinegar or lemon juice.

What’s gone?

  • 1 bottle kombucha
  • salmon
  • both potatoes
  • purple & orange yams {from Costco}
  • beet greens

 

Here is the refrigerator on Day #4:

Wed fridge

 

 


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“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living.  For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.”    Louis P. De Gouy, ‘The Soup Book’ (1949)

Have you noticed a change in the weather in your area?  Maybe the mornings are a bit dewier than they were last month, and a sweater hits the spot in the evening.  We have noticed that the mornings and evenings are a little cooler here on Maui, even though the days feel about the same, nice and warm.  The first day of autumn is just around the corner {9/22}, which means it’s time to get out the soup pot.  Our soup pot is never far from the stove.  Even though we live on Maui, we eat a lot of soup, and surprisingly most of it hot soup, not cold.  We live at about 1200 feet altitude, on the slopes of Haleakala Volcano, so it is often cool enough to enjoy soup, especially when the trade winds are blowing, as they are now.  While it may feel warm outside in the sun, the breeze can feel cool in the house.  We eat soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The soups we enjoy are all healthy; they are full of vegetables, high in vitamins and minerals and nutrient dense.   I realize that people who live in places with 3 or 4 seasons probably don’t eat much hot soup in the summer, but like I said earlier, ready or not, autumn is on its way.

If you haven’t made home made soup, I encourage you to try out a few recipes; you will be rewarded with several delicious meals that don’t have to be complicated to prepare.  There are some elaborate soup recipes out there, but the ones I make are pretty straightforward.  I assure you that the soup you create from top notch fresh ingredients will be far superior to any soup you get from a can.

This minestrone is one of our new favorite soups, and I highly recommend it.  This is the link to the original; what follows is my adaptation.

Lentil, Celery and Tomato Minestrone

adapted from the recipe by Martha Rose Shulman, who is the author of “The Very Best of Recipes for Health.”

1 cup lentils, rinsed
1 onion, halved
A bouquet garni made with 2 sprigs each thyme and parsley, a bay leaf, and a Parmesan rind
1 1/2 quarts water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 medium carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced {mince & let sit for 10 minutes for health benefits}
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
Pinch of sugar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
About 1/2 small head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Very thinly sliced celery, from the inner heart, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
1. Combine the lentils, 1/2 onion and the bouquet garni with 1 quart water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add salt to taste, cover and simmer 30 minutes.

2. Chop the remaining onion. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes, and add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Stir together until fragrant, about 1 minute, and add the canned tomatoes with their liquid and the sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat and smell fragrant.

3. Add the lentils with their broth, the tomato paste, salt to taste, an additional 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, add the cabbage.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper, stir in the parsley and serve, garnishing each bowl with thinly sliced celery heart if you want some crunch, and passing the Parmesan at the table.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6Celery Minestrone Ready to Eat

Like most soup, this is even better the next day.

Nutritional information per serving (4 servings): 276 calories; 4 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 2 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 49 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams dietary fiber; 392 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 17 grams protein

Nutritional information per serving (6 servings): 184 calories; 2 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 2 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 32 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams dietary fiber; 261 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 11 grams protein

Notes:

* You may use any lentils that you like.  I usually use brown lentils, but if you like your lentils to hold their shape, you may want to use the French green lentils {lentils du puy}.

* I highly recommend the celery & Parmesan garnish.  Generally speaking, I find that if a recipe has a garnish, it’s best to put in the extra effort to put it on your soup.  A garnish can take your soup to a higher level!

*Please, please, please do not use what they call “Parmesan cheese” that comes in the green can!  Use the real thing; if you don’t use the real thing, you won’t have the Parmesan rind which adds a huge amount of flavor to your soup.  It really does make a difference!  Get more ideas on using Parmesan rinds to elevate your dishes to a whole other level here.

* If you do not have any kitchen twine, put it on your shopping list, and then you can tie your bouquet garni with a green onion top or chive {don’t tie too tight or they will break!}.

Bon appetit!


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Salad with Purslane & Ribbons of Parmesan

“When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.  If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.”  Author Unknown

I do not know if purslane comes out of the ground easily or not, but I have seen it defined both as a weed and a valuable plant.  Purslane is purported to be a healthy plant that we should be enjoying.  It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Check out the articles at the end of this post if you would like to read more about purslane’s health benefits.  My husband bought our first bunch of purslane 2 weeks ago, at the Upcountry Farmers Market.  It’s great!  What I like most about purslane is its chew, due to the fact that it is a succulent.  I think it has a subtle flavor, not at all assertive, but just tasty. . .green.  Apparently it grows everywhere, but I can’t say I’ve encountered any on my walks around Pukalani, where we live.  You will most likely not find purslane at your local grocery store, but look for it at your farmers market.  Or grow it yourself; from what I’ve read, it is easy to grow.

When I cleaned the first bunch of purslane, I meticulously removed the leaves from the stems.  I discovered on the second bunch that “de-leafing” {is that a word??} the stems is not necessary, and that the stems also add a bit of chew to a salad.  The leaves are in clusters on the stems, so that makes them pretty in a salad.

Salad with Purslane & Ribbons of Parmesan

This is not a tossed salad, but more of a composed salad, which I think is prettiest served on a plate. The ingredients are few and the salad is delicious.  When you start with excellent ingredients, you do not need much to create great food.

Place a layer of tender lettuce on a plate.  Some good choices are Bibb, Manoa or red leaf.  A crunchy lettuce like romaine doesn’t work in this salad.  Texture is important in this recipe; there is a pleasant “chew” but it isn’t a crunchy salad.

Top the lettuce with some onion that you have sliced paper thin.  Use whatever type of onion you prefer, although I wouldn’t choose green onions for this.  Slicing the onion super thin makes it seem less pungent, making it easier to eat for the “non-onion types.”

Now add a scattering of paper thin purple cabbage.

Top with purslane, preferably in clusters of leaves, as opposed to individual leaves; this adds to the salad’s texture.

Sprinkle the salad with some pumpkin seeds that you have pan roasted, preferably in coconut oil.

Season the salad with freshly ground salt and pepper, then sprinkle with fresh lemon juice {about 1/4 of a juicy lemon per salad} and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.  Use a light hand with the dressing, as you don’t want your salad to be swimming in dressing.

Finally, take a vegetable peeler and shave some nice ribbons of fresh parmesan cheese over the salad.

Salad with Purslane and Ribbons of Parmesan

Related articles

Bon appetit!


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The Bee’s Knees & Catnip

“We lived for honey.  We swallowed a spoonful in the morning to wake us up and one at night to put us to sleep.  We took it with every meal to calm the mind, give us stamina, and prevent fatal disease.  We swabbed ourselves in it to disinfect cuts or heal chapped lips.  It went in our baths, our skin cream, our raspberry tea and biscuits.  Nothing was safe from honey…honey was the ambrosia of the gods and the shampoo of the goddesses.”    Sue Monk Kidd  The Secret Life of Bees 

People eat honey for a variety of reasons-as a sweetener, because it tastes good, it has health benefits {if you eat the correct honey}.

Honey Bear  Before we go any further, let’s talk about The Bear.  If you eat honey from The Bear,  I am suggesting right here and now that you give up the plastic honey bear.  Sure, he’s convenient and cute, but how tasty is plastic squeeze bottle honey?  And, how many nutrients are in plastic squeeze bottle honey?  The “bear honey” bears no resemblance whatsoever to raw unfiltered honey; they are completely different foods.  If you want some health benefits from your honey, look for local honey that hasn’t been filtered or heated.  This kind of honey contains plant polyphenols called flavonoids; these flavonoids have antioxidant activity and are important to human health.  In general, the darker the honey, the better it is in terms of its antibacterial and antioxidant qualities.  Also, the harder the honey, the better it is for you.  We do not eat a lot of any kind of sugar, but we love this Maui Wildflower Honey that we find at the Upcountry Farmers Market .  Without a doubt, it is the best tasting honey we have ever eaten, it is dark and delicious with complex flavors.  It’s the bee’s  knees!

Maui Wildflower Honey

How do we eat honey?  Here are a few of our favorite ways to eat this sweet treat:
* drizzled on yogurt
* a wee bit in salad dressing {i.e. French dressing, mustard vinaigrette} smooths out the dressing’s acidity
* on freshly baked biscuits, cornbread or muffins
* in yeast bread
* licked off the spoon!
* great in hot tea or hot lemon water in the unfortunate event of a sore throat-this really works!

How do you like to eat honey?  What kind do you like?

Honey is still sugar, so I’m not saying that you can eat it with abandon.  Moderation is the key here, as it is with many things.  Please do not feed honey to children under one year old, as there is a risk of botulism.

Just a spoonful of honey

Sources of information:
* Super Foods Health Style: Proven Strategies for Lifelong Health {Steven Pratt, M.D.}
* The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth {Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.}

The Actual Cat Mint

Catnip

Occasionally, Gerald and Sharon like to enjoy a glass of Cabernet while they are cooking dinner.  Gerald bought me a pot of catnip {highfalutin cats may call it catmint, but I’m told that the end result is the same} at the farmers market, and I sometimes enjoy some before dinner; in fact, I find that when I have a bit of “nip” I don’t tend to eat as much, and I feel fantastic!  it’s a win-win situation, because Gerald and Sharon are watching my figure.  Sharon snapped a few photos of me after I noshed on some catnip this afternoon.  I highly recommend regular nibbling on catnip for felines everywhere!
~ Jack

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