Friday, April 29, 2011

Old School Photos... Like, REALLY Old School

I forgot when I started this little blog, that I was going to aim for 75% recipe posts, and fill the other 25% with craftyness, kitschyness, and bitchiness. Well, that percentage is currently way out of whack, and considering my life has been insanity lately and I've been living off of cheerios, salad, and tofurky brats, I haven't posted much lately because I forgot I could write about stuff other than food.

One of the things that I've been kept busy by in the last few weeks is looking through the one hundred years of photographs that my grandmother has collected in her life. I've looked through hundreds of photographs, slides and negatives in the last week, and that is not a hyperbole. I can now identify what my mother and my aunt looked like at any age in their childhood (though truthfully, that one is kind of easy considering I am the spitting image of my mother). I can also identify what my grandmother, my two great aunts, and my two great uncles looked like at any age, from three years old until they were well into their eighties.

I can tell you my mother and I look like my grandmothers mother, and I can tell you that my grandmother and my aunt take after the women in my grandmothers fathers family. This essentially means I look Norwegian and my grandmother looks English. I could tell you alot of things I have learned in the last week, but that's for another day. Right now I want to share some old school photographs, and when I say old school, I mean one-room school old. I mean walking 20 miles in the snow, uphill, both ways, old.

The following photos were taken by my great grandmother, on the open prairies of Alberta, Canada, using the Kodak Folding Pocket Camera she bought in approximately 1912 (which is still in working order and on a shelf in my living room). I just had the pictures printed from negatives that are almost 100 years ago, and I thrilled that these records of my grandmothers childhood have survived.

My Grandmother, on the Canadian prairie, in about 1919. She is the 2nd from the left.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Salad with Mango and Blueberries

Yesterday was the first really beautiful day this spring in Seattle. The sun was out, the tide was low, and it hit 66 degrees. It seemed like the whole city came out in full force: dudes were walking around shirtless, small children were donning their swimming suits and splashing in the sound while wishing the Coleman Pool was open for the season, and ladies in short shorts were littering the rocky beaches. I spent the majority of the day laden with 3 cameras, traipsing around the beaches on Vashon Island and hanging out with my best friend from childhood. I even got a little bit of a sunburn on my cheeks. Go figure.

Dinner today was inspired by the glorious weather yesterday. I went outside of my comfort zone and went for the "this isn't local or seasonal by any means, but I want summer!" approach and made an huge salad on baby greens, spinach, mango and blueberries, and topped it with a ginger lemon dressing.

Spring Salad with Mango and Blueberries

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kale and "Sausage" Hash

I've been super busy lately: out shooting from the hip with my holga, taking a painting class at the local community college (gotta love those continuing education classes!), still trying to finish a few quilts (I should probably finish them before the babies I am making them for graduate high school or something), and writing, writing, writing!

But a girls gotta eat, so I've been making simple fast foods like this hash, which there a bazillion different variations on. That's why I love them: chop up some potatoes, add whatever is on hand, saute everything in some oil until heated and crispy and voila: a filling and delicious meal that doesn't break the bank and only takes about 30 minutes to make.

Kale and "Sausage" Hash

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hearty Minestrone

Minestrone is, simply put, a hearty, thick Italian vegetable soup. Usually it includes some beans and often pasta, though I think the inclusion of pasta can be a bit overkill. I suppose it just comes down to an individuals personal taste. Minestrone is diverse, and can include just about anything one can find to throw in a pot, making it pretty much a stone soup, sans the stone.

Minestrone is considered one of the cornerstones of Italian cuisine, and has roots stating back to the Roman Empire. The minestrone the Roman soldiers lived on was far from the modern version: they didn't even get to enjoy the more recent additions of tomatoes and potatoes that American cooks started utilizing in the mid 16th century. Other than slight tweaks though the ages, the soup often stays true its roots by using local, season vegetables.

So, now that you are aware of the history of minestrone, here's the recipe for a batch I whipped up while visiting my mother the other day. Have at it.

A Minestrone Recipe:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cashew "Cheese" Spread 2 Ways

I used to love soft, spreadable cheeses before I was vegan. Brie, Camembert, Chevre, Cougar Gold, stinky, tart or smooth, it didn't matter. Basically, if a cheese could be served on a water cracker, I was a fan. The spreadable Sheese is quite good, but when I'm craving something a little different, it's time to break out the probiotics and raw cashews, and make my own. The last time I made spreadable "cheese", I made 2 different versions, a savory herbed version with rosemary and cracked pepper, and a soft light version, with lavender and toasted hazelnuts. They both rocked and every omnivore at the party didn't believe they were eating cashews and not cheese. Be warned though, even though this recipe is pretty simple, the prep time for this dish is about 3 days between the soaking and culturing, so remember to give yourselves ample time to make this dish.

Herbed Cashew "Cheese" Spread with Cracked Black Pepper

Cashew "Cheese" Spreads

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sweet Potato and Kale Enchiladas

These enchiladas were the star of my birthday dinner extravaganza. They're not exactly traditional by any means, but they sure are tasty!

I totally adapted this from Veganomicon, the holy bible of vegan cooking. Using sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes makes this dish jump off the page, and if you use Okinawan sweet potatoes (which are pretty much the coolest tubers ever) the combo of purple of the yam and the green of the kale looks amazing. If you can't find Okinawan sweet potatoes (and you likely won't be able to unless you live in Asia, Hawaii, or the west coast) regular ol' orange yams will suffice.

My cat kindly took off the top of this enchilada so you could see the filling


Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Simple Curry

One of my favorite things in the entire word is having friends over for dinner. I like sequestering myself in the kitchen for a few hours and tuning into Thelonious Monk, playing mad scientist with spices, and ignoring the rest of the world until friends knock on the door and it's time to set the table. Sometimes I plate and serve full courses, and sometimes I spread all the elements on the table, and let my guests put together their own plates. The following curry works best in the latter format, as people can choose how much rice, vegetables, sauce, and garnish they want. It's a good meal for a smallish (4-6) dinner party.

Cilantro, Coconut Curry Sauce, Cumin Scented Rice, Roaster Cauliflower and Carrots, Steamed Spinach and Choi Sum

Curry Powder: