Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sifting Through Life

I have a new Sifting Through Life over at the new blog site.

"This past week has been thought provoking. I thought of not writing my thoughts down in the event that it will hurt some people.  I should know from reading countless articles that as a writer we can't control how people will react to the words that we write but I care.  I care a lot about a variety of people in our life. We have butted heads over LGBT issues and the current political events shared by the media. 

I care so much that at times I have held my tongue.  I have turned the other cheek.  I have accepted their opinion and moved forward.  Then there are times like now.  That I can't stand to read one more post by someone whose opinion is so far away from mine that it hurts.  Their ideas and opinions stir up emotion and anger deep within me". 

You can find the link and read more here:  Sometimes My Love is Conditional

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oyster Mushroom Quesadilla #vegan

I have moved to a mushroom paradise.  I never fully appreciated how abundant Oregon is brimming with mushrooms: wild and locally grown.  We are over the moon to discover this in our backyards at the Oregon coast.

Our family enjoys all types of mushrooms and in almost every form: raw, cooked, steamed, in soups, deep fried, and pickled.  We just love mushrooms.

I remember camping in the mountains of Utah about 10 years ago and finding a Snowball mushroom.  It was huge.  My husband was afraid to eat it but another camper also recognized it for what it was.  We agreed to fry it up in some olive oil with salt and pepper.  Oh that was a treat!

I don't do that very often.  We don't eat any wild mushroom we find unless we get a second opinion.  It just isn't worth it and we are not experienced enough to put our family in that kind of danger.  Some mushrooms are lethal.  Always know what you are eating before you eat it.

I have used several sites for my own personal identification purposes.  When we go out hiking or frisbee disc golfing we will encounter a variety of mushrooms along the trails.  I like this site HERE.  He has a great picture and brief description that helps me to TRY and identify what we have found.

We are lucky enough to live close to a mushroom farm.  This family is at our local Farmer's Market each week with tons of brown bags.  Inside each bag you will find a selection of mushrooms. Each bag is labeled, she has samples and generously shares her knowledge with us.  Their site is HERE.  Their farm is located in Eddyville which is about 35 miles from Corvallis, Oregon.

We use our mushrooms in everything.  I usually buy two or three bags and this will last us a week.  Our new favorite way of eating them is in a quesadilla. 
I buy whole wheat organic tortillas from a local coop in town.  I like these because they have few ingredients and taste fresh.  

We don't include cheese in our quesadillas.  I have used a tofu like cream cheese before but usually I just toast the tortillas on my grill, add the mushrooms and then toss in some arugula at the last minute for a fresh element.  I fold it over and serve it with our homemade Salsa Verde.  That recipe is coming soon.

For this recipe I sautéed the mushrooms in a bit of olive oil with salt and pepper. I also added some red onions.  I cook them until they are tender and a bit wilted. 

I haven't included a step by step because these are pretty straight forward to make.

This is what you do:

-saute the mushrooms
-toast the tortilla
-add the mushrooms and anything else you desire
-fold in half and cut
-serve with a dipping sauce 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Food for Thought #LGBT

I have a platform here that is centered around food.  Around family time.  Around our family.  
Lately there has been a lot of chatter about social platforms not sharing realistic parts of our lives.  The thought is that we show only what we want to share.  Sharing in order to make our families look happy, enriched, satisfied and full-filled.  I have been a product of this movement too.  I have shared the joys that come with being a Mom, wife and friend.  I have wanted to share the joy that we, as family, enjoy each and everyday that we are together through our dinner table chats, our food choices and our grocery shopping adventures.  In between these ideas, I have also shared, my thoughts and ideas of longing, searching and finding myself and the struggle of being human.  I started a new blog to share those stories.  That blog is still growing.  Sifting Through Life has given me a place to voice me.
Well today I am using this blog, my blog, to share a part of my family that I have not shared with you before.  WHY?  Because this is where I have the most voices, readers and listeners.  Here is where you know me.  You can relate to me.  You have watched me evolve, fail and muddle through life. You know my family at its best and at its worst.  This is a shining moment for our family and I want to share it with you.
Recently the LDS church updated their handbook in regards to baptismal covenants for children of LGBT parents.  I won't take the time to go into details because you can google that for yourself.  If you have been a reader of Simply Gourmet for a while then you know that we left this church.  
You can read that post here.
I know that in sharing this part of my family that I will lose readers.  I don't have time to worry about that anymore.  If you chose to leave I wish you well.  If you choose to not agree and stay out of an understanding that we can still interact even though we don't share the same beliefs...I applaud you.  We are not seeking or asking for everyone to go against what they believe.  Simply to have an open line of conversation that expresses love and mutual respect for our differences.  
I am not gay.  My daughter is.  We have never been a family in the closet,  When she first told us we called everyone we knew and shared the news.  The good news.  She had experienced self hate, self loathing, and a long road to get to this point.  Her admission to us was received with, "yes we already knew that."  Because we did.  It took her a while to find her level of comfort to accept herself.  To accept that it is okay to be different.  That it is okay to love who ever your heart leads you to.
This new edict from the church has thrown our family into the mix once again of having to be a champion for our daughter.  It's been hard but also eye opening. To those family and friends that have our backs,  who get us, who love us no matter what--we appreciate you.  We understand that this is hard. You may find yourself sympathizing with our side even though your life is attached somewhere else.  We know this is hard.  It's hard for us to watch.  Thank  you for reaching out to us.  We hold her extensions of love very tenderly next to our hearts.

I won't rattle on but I need to share this with you.  This is an open letter my daughter wrote on her FB page.  It is raw.  It is honest.  You may not like it.  I don't care.  
This is our family.  This is our authentic life.
It's okay to disagree with our family unit.  We want the freedom for everyone to express their families in a way that makes you feel alive, whole and loved.  This is us.  Love it or hate it...thats a choice.  We are okay with different choices because we are all different.

Here it is:

"I’m gay.
And I figured, with me being out of the closet for over 4 years now and having never hidden or lied about that fact since that that would be common knowledge at this point. However, I tend to not post about or make note of this fact about me very often, especially on Facebook. I may support the HRC here and there, or like posts about LGBTQA+ rights occasionally, but for the most part I am rather mute on this subject and my opinions of opposition groups. The reason for this, sadly, is that I worry that in doing so I may alienate or hurt the feelings of certain friends and family members who I know have very strong, opposing opinions or who belong to religions that openly preach against the rights and humanity of people like me. I’ve never wanted to make anyone feel like I hate them or think horribly of them just for holding homophobic views or for simply belonging to groups that do; and though I have serious criticisms for certain religions apart and as a whole I do tend to hold back on stating them so that those who I know to have great love and faith in those ideologies aren’t hurt by my words.
However, it would seem that for too long I’ve been trying to preserve the feelings of people who are not trying to preserve mine.
So to be clear: yes. I do see when you post about your homophobic opinions.
Yes, I do see when you share or make statuses decrying marriage rights for gay couples in America.
Yes, I did notice when you shared that article supporting business owners who refuse to serve gay customers.
Yes, I did see you like that photo showing support for Kim Davis.
Yes I did read that church article you shared talking about how gay families are not real families because they lack a heteronormative pattern. Your brother, his husband, and their child probably did too.
Yes, yes, and yes. I did see that. And not to make anyone think I see /everything/-- I certainly don’t. I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore so I miss a lot (intentionally). I guess what I’m saying, however, is that I see enough.
And to be clear; I don’t care if anyone has homophobic views. I have lived for too long fearing and worrying about and suffering from the effects of homophobia to care anymore. Actually, I would prefer you to be open about it. We live in a country where our opinions and free speech are a wonderful right that we have and social media gives us great platforms to connect with and share our views with like-minded people. However; the thing that people seem to forget is that free speech does not protect us from criticisms and/or any effects of holding views that degrade, dehumanize, or offend anyone we know.
In this case, the effect of your articles, your statuses, your likes, etc. is that they tell me that I cannot trust you; that an integral part of me is unmentionable and unwelcome to you. They tell me that you think I am lesser and that I don’t deserve the same rights as you. They tell me that you think it’s okay for me to be banned or barred from churches, businesses, services, etc. on a basis of my sexuality. They tell me that you think that for some crazy reason that *I* certainly can’t fathom that I have chosen this and just want attention for it. Or that you think I’m mentally ill and a few humiliating and degrading rounds with a shock therapist and a bible would fix me. They tell me that you think that I and anyone I fall in love with should never have the same legal protections, rights, and recognition from our government that you get. They tell me that you think I don’t deserve happiness or unconditional love until I choose to conform to a lifestyle that doesn’t work for me. They tell me maybe one, maybe two, or maybe all of these things are things that you believe. And some of you may think that if you hide behind someone else’s words-- that if you share instead of write, or like instead of post—that I can’t put you into the same exact box as the person who actually said it; and that used to work, actually. I used to make excuses for you. I used to figure maybe you didn’t read it all, or maybe it was a mistake, or maybe you don’t 100% agree with what you shared. But now that has changed and unless otherwise stated I will hold you to every word; as will probably every other loved one you know that those hurtful words apply to. If these effects are not something you wanted, if they weren’t your intention, then maybe it’s time to start using your own voice. Or maybe it’s time to choose to not say anything. This is what taking responsibility for our opinions entails. But just to be clear again: you being open about your beliefs is preferable to me. It's your right as much as it is mine-- and I can handle different political views. I can overlook that impolite meme I didn’t think was funny, and I’ll ignore that rude comment or passive aggressive status. I’ll bite my tongue about that poorly-constructed argument you wrote and I don’t at all mind you sharing doctrine from your religion as long as it’s not too accusatory or abrasive and I assume that you give me the same benefits. But when you share homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, etc… when you spread baseless hatred or fear or intolerance or assumptions about people whose condition or lifestyle hurts nobody—that is when you teach me and countless others you didn’t think about to avoid you. That is when you teach me that you don’t care about me as much as I care about you.
Whether you think it or not, when you hold such views you are holding onto the belief that you are superior in some way to any member of a massive, diverse, and more or less harmless group of people simply on a basis of one aspect of who and what they are. If you at all think that anyone deserves less rights or less consideration or less sympathy from you, a government, a church, etc. because of their sexuality; you are indeed homophobic, and that is indeed a form of hate. Please own up to it, at the very least. Again, I would rather know your opinion outright than flounder with excuses or dissonance on your behalf.
And for the record once and for all; those homophobic articles and statuses and posts you share are in fact talking about me. They are talking about your brother, your sister, your daughter, your son, your niece, your nephew, your friend, your coworker, and anyone who applies-- none of us are an exception and I doubt any of us think ourselves to be. And we see it.
And from now on you are aware of that, and I will no longer make excuses for you.
If that doesn’t bother you, then carry on.
Much Love,

Pickled Radishes

Our family has fallen in love with pickled food.  We eat something pickled every day.  I often will have pickles, onions, asparagus, radishes or carrots pickling in our refrigerator on any given days.

I find that our friends and family that visit also enjoy these lovely side dishes.  Pickled food is great by its self, on a cracker, served with hummus or used as a topping in your favorite sandwich.

My two year old loves the red onions the best.  The red radishes are my husbands favorite.  Not only are they the right blend of sweet and tart, they are still firm enough to enjoy the bite that comes from eating a radish slice.  My favorite part?  The pink brine.  The pink comes from the red skin.  It just looks pretty.  I like pretty food.

Pickling is a great way to preserve food too.  It comes in handy for our family when I notice I have purchased too much of one thing.  Cucumbers come to my mind first.  I tend to buy one or two extra cucumbers that sit in the fridge for a bit too long.  I try really hard to not waste food.

I use a simple brine mixture for all of my pickling items.  I like the combination of rice wine, water, salt, and sugar.  To vary the flavorings I also add pickling spices, fresh herbs (my favorite is dill which is pictured in the photo above) and sometimes I will use a variety of vinegars.  I like rice wine because it is mild and has the right amount of "pucker" for our taste buds.  I can use it by itself or mixed with water and achieve great results.

Pickled Radishes

1 bunch of radishes, tops removed and sliced thin
1 cup of rice wine
1 cup of water
2 teaspoons of pickling spices
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
***take note: the sugar and salt are just estimates.  Taste the brine and then decide if you want more salt or sugar or both.  Sometimes I will do this after it has sat for an hour too.

1.  Use a clean container.  I like glass.  Add the sliced radishes, sugar, and salt.   If you choose to add fresh herbs, do this now too.

2.  In a small pot add vinegar, pickling spices, and water.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Add hot mixture to radishes.  Let cool on counter.

3.  Refrigerate when cool.  We eat our pickled products within two weeks.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Italian Pressed Sandwich #vegan #vegetarian

Do you need a way to use up a ton of items in your refrigerator?  If you do, then this sandwich is for you.  Our family usually does a pretty good job of eating left overs.  I just find that we still end up with a few jars with "this ----- much" left inside each one. Not enough to throw away and usually not enough for one more bite.

Food that comes to mind right away are things in jars.  We eat marinated artichoke hearts, all types of olives, roasted bell peppers, and we typically have at least one sauce in the fridge.  In this case I had some left over vegan poppyseed dressing.  Again, not enough for a full salad but a tad too much to justify throwing it out.

I remember when I made this Italian Loaf a few years ago.  This is a great sandwich if you love meat and cheese.  We don't eat those items anymore but the concept of layering my ingredients and squishing them into a sandwich bundle still works for us today.

I have a few suggestions in making this sandwich successful.  First, use a sturdy bread loaf.  I have tried French Bread but the exterior is a bit soft and might get a bit soggy.  We have used Sourdough with GREAT success.  It doesn't matter if the loaf is round or oblong.  I have used both and they taste just as good.

Secondly, I would recommend draining and drying as many of your ingredients as you can.  I often will layer stuff between paper towels to try and draw out some of the moisture.  It may all seep to the bottom and make the bottom soggy.
For the last tip, I would suggest that it sits in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours with something heavy on top.  This allows time for the sandwich to tie all the flavors together and makes for easy cutting of the loaf into individual slices.

I have included a set of pictures (FROM MY PHONE) below to show you what I used.  Remember though, that you can use anything you want.

I made a comment about my phone because I have tried to make this whole blogging thing as easy as possible for myself and my family.  My phone is easy. I don't have to hassle with a huge camera and the tripod.  With little kids under my feet and assisting me in the kitchen, it is what works at the moment.

I hope that everyone can see beyond the lower quality pictures to enjoy some delicious food for the next few months.  My heart and soul is back into blogging and I am doing my best to get yummy recipes made and up on the blog.  Thanks for understanding!!!

Italian Pressed Sandwich
Depending on size of loaf the sandwich can feed 4-6 people

1 large loaf of sturdy bread--Rustic White, Italian or Sourdough work great
1 cup of dressing or mayonnaise
lots of veggies--see pictures below
**try to combine fresh with prepared vegetables, pickled vegetables work great, steamed or sauteed vegetables work well too.

1.  Once you have decided on your ingredients, cut the bread in half.  If using a bowl or round loaf of bread --see the Italian Loaf--for special instructions.

2.  Dig the bread out of the center. I used this bread to make croutons for our soup.  Add dressing or mayonnaise to both sides.

3.  Start layering your ingredients.  See pictures below for ideas from our sandwich.

4.  When finished adding ingredients, put the two pieces together.  Tightly wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap.  Store in the refrigerator with something heavy on top.  Let cool for a minimum of 3 hours.

5.  When you are ready to eat, unwrap and slice.  Serve with additional dressing if desired.

In the picture you will see: steamed asparagus, homemade dressing, arugula, eggplant, red onion, cucumber, red pepper, artichoke hearts, garlic cloves, and olive tapenade.

Slice loaf in half, hollow out the center and add dressing.

Start layering--you see eggplant and arugula.

You see--red onion and diced artichoke hearts.

You see--olives and more arugula.

You see--diced red peppers.

I added a bit more dressing.

When I was finished layering, I closed the loaf.

I wrapped the loaf in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator.
 ....and the result is:  This beautiful layered sandwich.

As an added bonus, you can put this in a panini press and get a nice crispy crust on your sandwich.  We love our Panini Press that was given to us as a gift.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tomato Soup #dairyfree #vegan

If I have to pick one recipe that has quickly become our favorite for this year it is this tomato soup.  My entire family LOVES it.  I make it at least once a week.  

We have named this Isabella's Tomato Soup because she is the one that request it the most.  Last week I taught her how to make it as part of our Friday Cooking Class.  Isabella is becoming quite the culinary student.  I have enjoyed teaching her about the basics of cooking, the health benefits of cooking from scratch, and the time together in the kitchen.

This recipe is dairy free and I have made it with all types of dairy free milk: rice, almond, soy and coconut milk.  We really like the coconut milk the best.  I use the full fat and the soup is very creamy and dreamy.

We use a combination of fresh and canned tomatoes.  I think the texture and flavor from using the two benefits from having a variety of tomatoes.  

It is quick!  We whip this soup up in about 20 minutes.  I try to let it simmer for a few minutes but I usually have a handful of people asking me, "is it ready yet?" every few minutes.  The soup is great the next day too.

Tomato Soup #dairyfree #vegan
Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup red onion, diced small
1 tablespoon Italian Parsley, finely minced
2 teaspoons oil of your choice, to sauté onion
2 tablespoons flour
2 cans Organic Diced Tomatoes
2 cans Organic Coconut Milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder or garlic paste
salt and pepper to taste

 1.  Heat a small pot with oil.  Add onion and cook for 3 minutes.  Add garlic and parsley, salt and pepper.  Cook over heat for 1 minute.

2.  Add tomatoes and coconut milk.  Do not drain juice from tomatoes.

3.  Stir together.  Using a hand held blender stick, puree soup until smooth. See picture below.  It will be light pink and as it cooks, the color will change to a beautiful orange red.  If you don't have this, then add to a blender and puree and return to pot.

4.  Heat soup until thick.  I don't usually boil this soup.  Once the soup is thick, I turn the heat down and let it simmer for 15 minutes.  Taste and season according to your family's needs.

5.  We serve this with homemade croutons.  Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to Freeze Brussels Sprouts

Our family is embracing our plant based diet with surprising ease.  I say that because I wasn't sure how my husband was going to adjust.  He is doing well. He hasn't had any cravings.  His energy levels are high.  His work days are running smoothly.

The part that I am excited about is learning to work with new ingredients, new techniques and new ways to preserve our food.  I have not spent a lot of time in my life time freezing vegetables.  We mostly can them using a water bath or pressure canner.  This whole freezing idea is fun, simple and fast.

This week I walked into our local grocery store and saw these stalks of brussels sprouts.  The mound of stalks was half way up my waist and the sign read: 2 for $6.  I blinked twice.  Did I read that right?  Two for six dollars!  WOW...what a deal.  I verified with the department guy and he confirmed to me that this was right.  They are from a local farmer and organic.

To be honest, I had no idea what I was going to do with them but I just had to have them.  I felt awkward in the store as my cart was overflowing with vegetables and these two mammoth stalks sticking out like two clubs.  My Brussels sprout clubs in case any one messed with me...ha ha ha.

I have worked with Brussels sprouts before but I have never froze them.  I checked a few of my books and they all recommend the same treatment.

1.  Trim sprouts from stalk.  Remove any hard leaves and stems.
2.  Boil them for 3-4 minutes.
3.  Quickly moved them to an ice bath.
4.  Package them in freezer bags.  The recommendation was to remove as much air as possible from the bags.

Honestly, it was super easy and now I have three portions for the upcoming months ahead.

I have plans for these.  I hope to be able to pull them out during the holidays and make some fabulous side dishes.

Here is one of my favorites from last year:

Apple Brussels Sprout Salad

Do you have any recommended side dishes using Brussels Sprouts that you would like to share?  If so, comment below and add a link.  I can't wait to learn some new uses for this sturdy and hardy vegetable.


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