Wednesday, May 16, 2007

from 4/25/2007

Is myspace acting up for you guys, too? I see that I have some comments on yesterday's blog, but when I click to read them, I just get some freakin' ad for smartphones that never goes away. What up, Tom?

Anyway, I did a little light cookin' last night. I remembered to go by the library (where I was assaulted by Hurd and Lisa in the parking lot), and sadly surrendered Cook 1.0 (with $.10 fine for being so reluctant to bring it back). But, I picked up a bunch of other books to ease the pain. Then, over to Whole Foods to pick up a couple things for the pocket tarts I'm making for the ramp road trip, some kombucha (they were out of the gingerade and mango, so I got some guava, trilogy and some kinda passionberry or something) and some other assorted goodies. Plus, I ran into my favorite WF teammember who happened to be cutting the cheese (oh man, that makes me laugh every time).

So, when I got home and started putting my groceries away, I realized that I had three avocados on the verge of extinction. So, I made up some guacamole. I like mine chunky, garlicky and lemony. So, I used:

3 avocados, cut into large chunks (about a 1" dice)
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped fine
a little fresh mint (about 1 T.?), chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
cayenne (about 1 1/2 t.)
cumin seeds, crushed
sea salt & black pepper, to taste (i used about 1/4 t. of each)

So, I chop the avocado, and set aside. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, and then fold into the avocado gently so the avocado stays really chunky and beautiful. Of course, if you prefer more of a paste/dip, then smash it all up.

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So then I needed something to scoop up the guacamole with, so I made a batch of Heidi's tortillas. There is nothing better than a fresh, warm tortilla. And, they're so easy! Here's her recipe from Cook 1.0 [my notes in brackets]:

Flour Tortillas
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour [i like to use 1 c. unbleached flour and 1 c. whole wheat flour]
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 T. vegetable oil [i was out of veg oil, so just used a light oilive oil that i keep around for stuff like this. i save my good olive oil for drizzling and such where you can really taste the oil]
3/4 c. warm water

In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and shortening. Pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the warm water a bit at a time until a stiff dough forms--not sticky and not dry. Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces (depending on whether you are making small or large tortillas), and form each into a ball. Let the dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a cloth, for at least 15 minutes.

Roll or flatten each piece of dough into a thin circle at least 6 inches across. Cook on an ungreased skillet or griddle over medium-high heat until barely golden, about 45 seconds on each side.

[I like to flatten these by hand. One, because I don't currently own a rolling pin, and two, because I think they are just fun to do this way. I spray a tiny bit of olive oil cooking spray on my surface, and then just moosh them out with the heels of my hands until they're about 6" circles. I find that it takes me just long enough to moosh them as the previous one takes to cook on one side, so I make a little assembly line. I also like to slightly undercook them because when I eat them, I like to again heat them up in a skillet and actually brown them a teensy bit then--not too much, though, or they get hard.]

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I sliced up some grape tomatoes, and as soon as the tortillas came out of the pan, I topped them with a generous helping of the guacamole and some of the chopped tomatoes (these little jewels are so sweet they're like candy!). And, some fresh mango on the side. Yum.

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That meal was freshness personified. Soooo good. I wish I had some more right now! Well, I did actually have a tortilla sandwich for breakfast. I heated up two tortillas, then smeared one side with peanut butter, then other with fig jam, slapped them together for a warm and gooey treat, and washed it down with another mango-strawberry-banana-maca smoothie. Breakfast of champions.

Last night I was talking to a friend while I was preparing the guacamole, and she was asking about how you know what to have on hand in your kitchen for someone just starting to incorporate more cooking and more healthy ingredients. I thought about it for a while, and then looked around my kitchen and thought about what I stocked when I started getting more into this and what I think are staples that I always have on hand. So, here's a quick list of my kitchen must-haves.

-olive oil (one to use for cooking in stuff, one really good one to use for drizzling)
-vinegars: balsamic, rice wine, white, apple cider
-brown rice
-Bragg's liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
-some kind of pasta (i've been keeping spinach linguine)
-dried beans (whatever kind you like. i always have pinto beans, and usually black beans, kidney beans, etc.)
-garlic and ginger
-spices: sea salt (coarse & fine grain), black pepper, cayenne, curry, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper flakes
-fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, mint, parsley
-tofu (extra-firm and silk)
-whole wheat flour, cornmeal
-sugar and honey
-some kind of green (usually spinach or arugula or kale)
-some veggies (whatever you like; i usually have beets, asparagus, peas, green beans, onions and potatoes)
-some fruit (bananas, berries, etc. - also, if my fruit is in danger of turning, i just wash/dry it, and stick it in a ziploc bag in the freezer--always good for smoothies, and you don't have to use ice if you have some frozen fruit)
-baking powder, baking soda
-soy milk (i like the 365 brand from WF, and you don't have to refrigerate it until you open it, so it can hang out on the shelf 'til you need it)
-plain low-fat yogurt
-steel-cut oats

You should be able to weather, like, a nuclear winter or something with that stockpile.

other stuff that really isn't a necessity, but I can no longer live without:
-mesquite meal
-maca root powder
-toasted sesame oil
-an assortment of a bunch of different grains
-an assortment of a bunch of different flours
-goat cheese
-pine nuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts
-brown rice syrup
-agave nectar
-raw honey
-hunza golden raisins
-goji berries


So, we gotta process all this food, right? I've been reading about metabolism (in the book Low-Fat Living that I picked up at Goodwill), and the author talks about a couple easy ways to kick your metabolism into gear. Here are three easy tips:

1. Do some kind of exercise/activity within 20 minutes of waking. This tells your body to start burning, not hoarding. I jump on this little exercise machine thingy (glider? sorta like a hybrid of a skiing thing and a stepping thing) for five minutes right after I wake up, but you can do anything you like as long as you're active.
2. Eat within one hour of waking. Again, this signals your body to start burning.
3. Drink lots of water. Cold. Your metabolism speeds up when it has to warm the liquid to your body temperture.


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