Category Archives: Cooking

Musings about Meatless Monday

I’ve been keeping up with the 30 Day Blogging Challenge so far. Have you noticed? It’s been fun and I hope you are enjoying it, too. Besides motivating me to blog daily, I have made new friends and learned lots of interesting things. For example, I had never heard of Meatless Monday until I read about it yesterday on The Organic Geek’s blog.

Since I hardly ever meat anymore, I thought it would hardly be any effort for me to go without meat today (Monday). In fact, the last time I had meat was last Thursday, and that was just a tiny bit of left over chicken in a mostly vegetable Indian stew that I had made up 2 days before. I certainly didn’t want that delicious concoction to go to waste!

So there I was earlier today, checking out the frig for something to eat for lunch. I just realized that I still had some left over French onion soup made earlier last week. And again, I don’t want this to go to waste. But wait, that soup has a beef broth base. Does that count as meat or not, lol?

I do have a totally vegetarian dish planned tonight with fresh mushrooms, curry and other Indian spices. I made this recipe a few weeks ago and it was very tasty. Oh well, I think I’ve mostly kept to the spirit of Meatless Monday. Did you?

‘Luck’ for the New Year

Continuing on from yesterday’s post with ‘luck’ and ‘money’ dishes to start off the new year, here was the ‘luck’ entry in my new year’s menu. It is “Whole Green Lentils with Cilantro and Mint” on page 86 of Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking.

I love lentils anyway, but had never made the complex mixture of flavorings that are in this recipe. In particular, I had never used mint quite in this way, which is what intrigued me about the recipe.

Ingredients
Ingredients
Here are the prepared and measured ingredients ready to be assembled (just like the cooks do on tv, lol). I’ve found it particularly important to do this preparation beforehand, since the assembly steps go really fast once the fire is turned on. There wouldn’t be time to stop and measure for the next step of ingredients for fear of the spices burning, or mustard seeds popping out of the pan all of the place, or whatever.

The first photo shows where I have the ingredients lined up in the order they will be assembled. The pot already has the oil. Next up is the cumin seeds and black mustard seed. Then dried hot red chiles (I used Thai peppers from my garden) and ground asafetida. Next up is chopped garlic, onion, and tomato (from the end-of-season crop of a friend’s garden; the tomatoes in my garden had long ago played out). Then the dried lentils, water, salt, ground coriander, chopped cilantro and chopped mint (the mint is from my garden).

Assembled in the pot and bringing to a boil
Assembled in the pot and bringing to a boil

The next photo shows the ingredients after they have been step-wise assembled in Indian cooking fashion, and the mixture is being brought to a boil before covering and simmering until the lentils are tender.

Here you see the finished lentils dished out in a bowl with a bit of cilantro as garnish (just to make a pretty photo, lol). The end result for this dish does not scream out at any one ingredient, which is what I particularly like about Jaffrey’s recipes. This is just luscious if you are looking for a high-protein vegetarian dish. It’s so easy to eat, that undoubtedly I am well passed eating my share of lentils to ensure good luck for all 365 days this year (at least I hope so!).

Whole Green Lentils with Cilantro and Mint
Whole Green Lentils with Cilantro and Mint

Starting the new year off semi-Southern style


Stir-Fried Green Cabbage with Fennel Seeds
Stir-Fried Green Cabbage with Fennel Seeds

Although I am a Southern gal now, I was born outside of the South. That’s my excuse for deviating a bit from the Southern tradition of starting off the new year with collard greens and black eye peas.

The idea is that green brings prosperity (i.e. the green of money) and the black eye peas bring luck (as I understand it, your goal is to eat at least 365 peas so that you have luck on each day of the coming year).

I’ve recently become very interested in Indian cooking, so I decided instead to pick recipes from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking. My ‘greens’ selection was “Stir-Fried Green Cabbage with Fennel Seeds” based on page 94 in the book.

I love the balance of seasonings in Jaffrey’s recipes, so I seldom alter her recipes for these. This one has fennel seeds, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, salt, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and garam marsala.

A view of the cabbage in the wok.
A view of the cabbage in the wok.

I did do some minor altering of the vegetables for this recipe, though. Instead of a half head of cabbage shredded, I used precut slaw from Sam’s. I also already had some Creole mix on hand that was in need of being used before it got too old, so I used that mixture of diced vegetables instead of cutting an onion into fine half rings. (Note: Creole mix is predominantly diced onions with some celery, bell papper, green onion, parsley and garlic thrown in. It’s commonly available here in the New Orleans area where Cajun and Creole cooking is popular.)

Actually, I think the addition of the carrots (per the slaw mix) and the bits of other vegetables in the Creole mix adds a little needed color to this dish (compared to the one in the book), and to my taste, the flavors are in keeping with the overall dish.

The recipe called for so much cabbage (1.5 pounds) that I initially had to put only some of the cabbage in the wok and let that wilt down a bit before putting in more.

Close-up and yummy
Close-up and yummy

The close-up view is a helping of the cabbage dished out on my plate. Really yummy and it didn’t last long after this picture was taken, lol.

I’ll be back tomorrow with photos of preparing “Whole Green Lentils with Cilantro and Mint” for the ‘luck’ side of my new year’s meal. See you then!

Halloween Count-Down

Jackie-O-Lantern Open Wrap Pizza A while back, Tink B-D invited designers to submit a remembrance related to a recipe for this year’s Halloween count-down at TheArmChairChef.com. I finally got my act together to figure out what I wanted to do, and to do a write-up and some pics for count-down.

My family never really cooked or baked for Halloween, but who is to say one cannot create new remembrances! I am calling this food concoction the Jackie-O-Lantern Open Wrap Pizza.

I will let you know when the recipe is posted on TheArmChairChef site (or if Tink thinks it is too weird and rejects it, I will post it here later, lol).