My husband has been out-of-town, which means several things. First, I cannot keep the wood stove going and we are freezing. Second, the chickens are probably not being as well taken care of as they should be. Third, I can watch all the mindless reality television I want without reproach. and lastly, I can cook whatever I want. That is not to say my husband is a picky eater, but he prefers meat, and only begrudgingly eats vegetarian for my sake.
With my husband gone, it was all about meatless meals for the girls and me. I was in total vegan bliss. I made a very satisfying marinated tofu, the remainder of which I just scrambled with some kale–it was dreamy. For real: kale is my new go to vegetable, and I feel like a total rock star when I eat it. I have been adding it to soups, salads, and smoothies. Kale, which is actually a form of cabbage, is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and fairly rich in calcium. Kale contains (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells. Kale retains the lest amount of its nutritional properties when it is boiled, so it is best to eat it raw, stir fried, steamed, juiced, or purred in a smoothie. Kale is known as a ‘super food’ which basically means it is amazingly good for you and you should probably be eating it and feeding it to your family on a regular basis.
Below is a link to a plethora of recipes featuring kale.
I also discovered a brand new (to me) super food this week while shopping at a local organic market: black rice. Being that my husband is of the Asian persuasion, we eat our fair share of rice, but I have always been uncomfortable with straight up white rice. Something in my head whispers ‘white food = bad’ as in wonder bread and fluff. I purchased about a pound of dry black rice and cooked a batch in my rice steamer that very night. I mixed in some dark red kidney beans and mexican seasoning to make a sort of red beans and rice dish. The rice itself has a wonderful nutty taste and texture. I thought it was fantastic, and the girls devoured theirs. I anticipate Henry will not be impressed, undoubtedly feeling loyalty to the white rice of his childhood.
Black rice (which is actually more purplish) is rich in fiber and iron. The healthy benefits of eating this include, prevention of cancer, prevention of diabetes, prevention of heart disease, prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, and prevention of heart attacks. furthermore, your skin will thank you because it has more antioxidants, per spoonful, than blueberries. Apparently, this stuff is also known as Forbidden Rice, because it was cultivated solely for the emperors of China, who wanted to hoard all of these awesome anti-aging properties for themselves. Nowadays, even we commoners can eat this super food with all of its helpful medicinal qualities. It is rather expensive, but undoubta blycheaper than getting sick.
Below is a link to some great recipe ideas.
Lastly, I experimented with Tempeh. I am not sure how exactly I have managed to avoid tempeh in the years I have not eaten meat, but it was certainly not intentional. Tempeh is a soy product from Indonesia. Apparently, the soy beans are fermented, allowing them to retain more of their nutritional qualities. Its texture is similar to a veggie burger, and comes in these sort of loaves that are easily cut up. I sliced the tempeh and sautéed it with some grape seed oil, and later added some kale. It immediately turned a golden brown, but when I tasted it I found it to be really bitter, although the texture was great and quite hearty. In an effort to offset the bitterness I added some soy sauce and simmered the whole thing for another few minutes.
This was not the right move and it turned out way to salty, although the girls and I managed to eat it, with the help of several glasses of water. In retrospect, I should not have added the soy sauce, but used it as a dip on the side. After lurking on some vegetarian discussion boards I learned that you can soak the tempeh in warm water before cooking to cut down on the bitter flavor. So, not really a kitchen home run for me, but I was excited to learn about tempeh. It seems like a very versatile meat alternative.
Below is a link to some tempeh recipes.
I like risk taking. I am not afraid of failure. I think you can tell a lot about someone’s personality from their kitchen. Do you play it safe, relying on the comfortable and familiar, or are you adventurous and always on the look out for something fresh and different? I am not saying that one way is better than the other, there is something to be said for the regular traditions that make us who we are, but I find variety very inspiring. It is all about balance. When Henry returns from his trip I will likely prepare a dish I know he enjoys, and old favorite like shepherd’s pie. Then I can have another go with the tempeh. It is all about balance, and being able to couple tradition with innovation.