Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sherpa Pie

In my pantry today:

  • 1 c cooked chana (chickpeas)
  • 4 s/m potatoes
  • 1 med. carrot
  • 1 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 c sour cream
  • 1 med. onion
  • 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 tsp vegetable ghee
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp yellow curry powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp asaoetida
  • 3/4 tsp salt

I decided to soak and cook some chana to address and perhaps overcome the seemingly nonsensical aversion I have to the taste of their shape, which is what I imagine elves’ poop must look like. My first instinct on this path to overcoming the more human attributes of tiny mystical creatures was to think about mashing them into some manner of delicious burger, meatball, meat patty or some other such animalesque fashion. Making something familiar was a good way to make the unfamiliar feel more welcome, right?

Well, tell that to the internets.

Most often returned results of the search string “recipe chickpeas” will get you largely two answers: hummus and chana masala. Both of which I have had, made and do not mind. Granted, hummus isn’t really a hot meal and we’re low on naan. Cross it off the dinner list. Chana masala… delicious, but still contains that impish little pop in your mouth I despise. And its roots come from another continent, which is just about the opposite of “familiar” to a girl born and raised in South Carolina. Who wasn’t in the mood for rice tonight. But wait… there were potatoes in the pantry! Oh, yes, sir.

Cut up the potatoes and start them to boiling. Start 2 tsp of with the black mustard seeds in a large, deep pan heating to M. Quarter the onion, add 1/4 c water and the garlic and -ginger pastes then pulse it all in the food processor until minimally chunky. Cut your carrot into small pieces and add to the onion. Pulse it a couple of times until carrot is your desired meal size. The onion should be getting to the consistency of cold grits. By this time, your mustard seeds are surely popping — spatula out the food processor into the pan. Even out the layer and let it continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5m. Add the undrained can of tomatoes, stir everything together. Start adding the rest of your seasonings, holding back 1/2 tsp salt for the potatoes. When everything is uniform, fold in the chana.

Let this cook for just another minute or two, then turn the burner off and let it stew while you drain the potatoes and mash them with the almond milk, sour cream and salt. Move back to your chana and give it a last stir before layering it all in the bottom of a casserole dish. Top it with the mashed potatoes, cover and bake at 350° for 20m. 4 spoons — could be five if the carrots were a little more tender and the potatoes a little more hifallutin.


Leftovers Get Ethnic; Also, Turmeric!

In my pantry today:

  • 1.5 c leftover cooked black beans and tomatoes
  • 1 c leftover overcooked white beans
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed

Melt butter on L then turn up temp to M and add white beans. Coat and smash about 75% of their population as thickening. Add seasonings and tomatoes/beans. Mix. Add almond milk and stir together until thick as country gravy. And the country in India is really quite stunning — here’s a Google Image Search to prove it — so imagine you’d like their gravies. Serve over Basmati rice. 3 spoons.

The ground flax is, very hopefully obviously, not for flavor. Just healthings; the turmeric you see in most recipes is for the same reason. Did you know turmeric was an awesome little thing to add to your diet? Here are 20 reasons to add turmeric to your diet:

1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.

2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.

3. Prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs in mice.

4. May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to commit suicide.

5. Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.

6. Is a natural liver detoxifier.

7. May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain.

8. May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.

9. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.

10. Has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice.

11. Is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor.

12. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.

13. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.

14. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

15. Boosts the effects of chemo drug paclitaxel and reduces its side effects.

16. Promising studies are underway on the effects of turmeric on pancreatic cancer.

17. Studies are ongoing in the positive effects of turmeric on multiple myeloma.

18. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.

19. Speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.*

20. May help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

– from

* I highly recommend you get some for your cupboard even if you don’t add it to every meal (we don’t!). When I almost removed the top 1/4 of my thumb with a butcher knife not long ago, I kept the (ugly, gaping and probably needing stitches) wound packed with turmeric and within two weeks it was done healing. There is no visible scar or sign that this injury ever occurred. Jus’ sayin.

Polenta di Fagioli Nero

In my pantry today:

  • 2 c black beans
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 14.5 oz cans plain petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 c water
  • 4 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 c yellow ground corn (polenta/grits)
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 1.5 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp pesto sauce paste
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Parmesan cheese

You should start out with your beans mostly cooked, so canned would work in this just fine. I won’t judge you. Mine went back into the crock pot with the tomatoes, cayenne, 3 tsp of garlic paste and water for a few hours until they were meal-tender. Don’t overzealously season the entire pot in an assumption that you’re making an entire Italian meal for five; dinner tonight will only call for a fraction of the batch and the rest can be stored in universal flavor anticipation for a maybe Indian- or Mexican-inspired meal.

To make the polenta: put broth and milk with salt, pepper and 1 tsp garlic paste in a deep pot and bring to a rapid boil on H. Slowly add in the polenta whilst stirring; reduce heat to MH and stir constantly until liquid is reduced and an oatmeal-like consistency turns about. Pour into a small, greased loaf pan and bake at 350° for 15-20m. When done, let cool completely before slicing.

Upon dinner time, remove most of the batch and set aside to cool before refrigeration. To tonight’s dinner-for-two portion that still remains in the crock pot, add the pesto paste, 1/2 tsp garlic paste and stir well. Mince your fresh spinach for topping and set aside. And now, after being properly patient about it all, turn your polenta loaf upside-down on a plate, shake it out and slice it. Spoon beans and tomatoes over the slices then top that with Parmesan and minced spinach. The polenta was as velvety as if I’d made it with butter and cream, and was an excellent gentle compliment to those rowdy tomatoes and beans. 4 spoons!

Naan Burgers with Redonk Raita

In my pantry today:

  • SWAD® Garden Fresh Veggie Burgers
  • 2 slices onion naan
  • 1/4 c safflower oil
  • 1.5 c plain Greek yogurt
  • 1.5 c fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic-ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder

First, make that raita. It should be chilled for at least an hour prior to serving for best bets. Put your spinach in a pot heated to ML with a tbsp water, cover and let sit for three minutes. Remove from heat, set on a cutting board and let cool for a few minutes. Back to the spinach pot, turn the heat to M and add ghee. When that’s melted and the pan is hot, add mustard seeds and allow to cook until snapping. Sprinkle in a 1/2 tsp cumin and ginger-garlic paste; when that starts sticking to the pan in a golden glory, scrape it all up and set aside to cool. Return to your spinach and dice it as finely as you’d like. Stir it into your yogurt along with the remainder of seasonings and the cooled ghee scrapings; put it in the fridge.

When it’s time to eat, take out the veggie burger patties and heat your safflower oil in a deep-bottomed pan. When your burner reaches M, put the frozen patties in and let them turn the same golden color the box suggests they should be on both sides. Drain on a paper towel while you take that naan out of the oven where it was warming. Quarter the naan. Put a patty on each piece, top with raita then sandwich it up. It’s the Americanized Indian version of the American meal! 5 spoons!

——————-UPDATE BY REQUEST——————-

Redonk Raita:

  • 2 c chopped fresh spinach
  • 1.5 c 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vegetable ghee
  • 1-2 red chile peppers [or] hot red chile powder [or] cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp cumin  (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp confectioner’s sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder or paste (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (or to taste)

Heat a pan and add spinach and 1 tbsp water. Cook covered for 3 minutes on low heat, then let cool on a cutting board while you start your seasonings: warm ghee to M with mustard seeds and chiles (if’n you’re using those) and when the seeds begin popping, take it off the burner and stir in the rest of the seasonings, excepting the sugar. You’re going the mix the sugar directly into the yogurt, mince your cooled spinach and add it just before adding the pan seasonings/ghee. Once everything is mixed well, cover and chill the raita for at least one, but up to a day before serving. The flavor is best after a few hours of intermingling.

The White (Bean) Flag

In my pantry today:

This is how I am largely more comfortable cooking. Yeah, I admit to having a slight Flavor Boost™ problem but it feels so much more clean and respectable to go about things from MostlyScratch™ instead of sallying forth with a billionty gravy packets; that feels like the “Poor Man’s Comedy” version of cooking. And nobody wants a fart joke in the kitchen.

Now there’s a little more oil in this than I’d normally see fit to use, but I really wanted to stretch the giant tomato’s hard-cook time to its limits before adding extra liquid. Start your diced onion and mustard seeds out on MH and let the pan get them to chattin you up, then add the diced tomato. Add your garlic paste and other seasonings as you stir and smash the tomatoes down. After 6m or so of this, sprinkle on and stir in your spinach; continue on MH with a vigilant spatula until things begin to stick. Add almond milk in slowly and fold in your beans with great care. Serve over Basmati rice. 4 spoons and a cleaner conscience!

I hate to admit it, as I enjoy the flavors of animal flesh, but eating it several days in a row is a great reminder to my body how badly it aggravates a lot of my symptoms; that is the opposite of where I want to go. Meat is good in small doses, but I need to remember to treat it as a luxury choice in my diet and not as an edible given. Moo.