Inspiration & Perspiration

I’ve been so remiss about blogging!  I have about 10 backlogged topics I could easily expound upon– and hope to one day– such as

  • stories of teaching the Arboretum Cooking Camps to the nicest bunch of 8 – 12 year olds;
  • cooking for a family with Alkaline diet needs;
  • how the government shutdown affected nutrition of low-income women & children;
  • all the catering I’ve been doing, from board retreats to a large wedding dinner;
  • new cookbooks I just picked up, like “Viva Vegan”; etc.

But that is for another day. Today I’m announcing the next 6 week-cycle of Delivered Dish of the Week (DDoW), which takes us up through Thanksgiving.

Bonanza haul from Farmers' Market, Sept (my pic).

Bonanza haul from Farmers’ Market, Sept (my pic).

I find inspiration everywhere, from my own archive of dishes and cookbooks to newsletters and restaurants.

I’m always inspired by the Farmers Markets these days. I also like to peruse the aisles of grocery stores and see what catches my eye. If I like the name of a bottled salad dressing or a sauce, I take a picture of the ingredient list and try to incorporate its flavors into something.

I also look to organic food sources such as Azure Standard (Oregon), boutique producers like Purcell Mountain Farm (Idaho) and Sno Pac Foods (from southern MN). Purcell offers heirloom beans, so I tried some last cycle. This week I was able to order cases of frozen organic ‘sweet beans’ (fresh shelled edamame) from Sno Pac, so these will be featured in December.

Perspiration is what transpires between the photo above and the photos of dishes below. I don’t always love the process but often, I find chopping and stirring rather satisfying.  I let my hands take over, while my mind listens to MPR podcasts and wanders. And, I love the results.

DDOW OCT 21 – NOV 28

OCT 21 – 26

1) Pureed Celery Parsnip Parsley Soup. V, GF, Paleo, soy-free & no added sugars. Exactly what it says, with a bit of potato added to counter the sweetness of the parsnips. Fresh parsley and lemon juice brighten it up. Very mild and comforting.

2) Barley Mushroom Lentil Pilaf. V, soy-free & no added sugars; contains gluten. A very earthy, autumnal and toothsome dish. Wonderfully chewy, in contrast to the pureed soup.

OCT 28 – NOV 1

Beautiful Beet Soup (my photo)

Beautiful Beet Soup (my photo)1) Zombie Blood Soup, aka Gingery Beet & Cabbage Borscht. V, GF, Paleo, soy-free & no added sugars.  Several clients love this and always order extra. And, if a delicious nourishing soup doesn’t do it for you, throw in some hard-boiled eggs for floating eyeballs and scare the kids.

1) Zombie Blood Soup, aka Gingery Beet & Cabbage Borscht. V, GF, Paleo, soy-free & no added sugars.  Several clients love this and always order extra. And, if a delicious nourishing soup doesn’t do it for you, throw in some hard-boiled eggs for floating eyeballs and scare the kids.

2) Rat Hot Dish, aka, Polenta Ratatouille Casserole. GF,  soy-free & no added sugars.  Reprise of ratatouille layered with smooth polenta in a loaf or pie pan, with the addition of white beans. Polenta will have butter and parmesan/romano cheese unless you indicate the no-dairy version. Probably really good with Fritos on top.

NOV 4 – 8

Diff kinds of red beans: (clockwise from top) kidney, Spanish Tolosna, Giant Scarlet Runner Beans (my pic).

Diff kinds of red beans: (clockwise from top) kidney, Giant Scarlet Runner Beans and  Spanish Tolosna (my pic).

1) Creamy Kidney Bean, Carrot & Collard Mafe Stew. V, GF, soy-free & no added sugars; contains peanut butter. Option of almond butter if you have peanut sensitivities. West African Mafe is one of my top 10 comfort foods. It becomes more than the sum of its simple parts ( tomato sauce, peanut butter, some spices) and morphs into a rich creamy sauce. Excellent with any ingredients– in this case, hearty veg. Serve over a grain or with crusty bread.

2) Millet & Sweet Potato Pilaf. V, GF, soy-free & no added sugars. Fluffy millet with roast sweet pots and caramelized onions. A staple in Africa, millet is a high-protein gluten-free grain. People ask me why mine is fluffy while theirs comes out gloppy. I use the same amount of water as with brown rice, no more, and, after taking it off the heat, I let it steam in the pot. However, millet tends to dry out quickly, so when you reheat this dish, you must sprinkle a bit of water on top beforehand.

NOV 11 – 15

Firecracker Slaw  (my pic).

Firecracker Slaw (my pic).

1) Pureed Pumpkin & White Bean SoupV, GF, soy-free & no added sugars.  Ordered a case of organic pumpkin puree for this fiber-licious thick soup. White beans add protein, mire poix adds depth, and a little lime juice & cayenne adds kick. For a treat, add a dollop of sour cream that has been mixed with lime juice.  Perfect with a tart salad…like a slaw.

2) Firecracker Slaw in Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette.  V, GF, Paleo, soy-free & no added sugars. My standby all-star dish for demonstrations and holidays. Its bright colors, lively tang and considerable crunch will wake you up. Eat all you want, it’s zero points.

NOV 18 – 22

1) Caribbean Butter Bean Stew w/ Steamed Plantains. V, GF, soy-free & no added sugars. This was a big hit when I first served it in May. A light coconut sauce binds it all together. And hey, plantains are good carbs! From the terrific, must-buy “Appetite for Reduction” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

2) Jamaican Jerk Quinoa Pilaf w/ Corn.  V, GF, soy-free & no added sugars.  Instead of the stew being spicy, this time it’s the grain. Just for fun. If you want to cool it down, add yogurt.

NOV 25 – 29 THANKSGIVING WEEK
Bring these dishes to a holiday meal and be prepared for profuse compliments!

Braised Collards, Bell Peppers & Raisins (my photo).

Braised Collards, Bell Peppers & Raisins (my photo).

1) Braised Collards w/ Red Bell Peppers & Raisins.  V, GF, Paleo, soy-free & no added sugars.  Another holiday favorite! There are many nice variations of this dish– Soul Food has one with orange juice — but my friend Carol is the source for this particular knock-out, for which I am forever thankful.

2) Roasted Tempeh & Potatoes in Chermoula SauceV, GF, no added sugars; contains soy. Savory Moroccan Chermoula herb paste does wonders for meats, beans, roots and grains. Here, it perfectly enhances nutty soy tempeh. This was a hearty vegan entree I served at a fall wedding.

Note: Please be aware that this week’s dishes will be priced slightly higher than usual.  Processing fresh collards take forever and organic tempeh is pricier than beans.

TO ORDER:  fill out & submit the online Order Form on this blog. You can order a bunch of dishes in advance or return to the form once a week, as you wish. Deadlines are Saturdays for deliveries the following week. See general info on Delivered Dish of the Week service.

PS: The Online Form lists the week, the name of each dish and its ingredients. These fuller Dish descriptions above are archived on the DDoW Menu Archive page in case you want to find them again. Or, search this blog for “DDoW”. 

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