16 January 2012

get involved with your food

I keep going deeper into DIY territory food-wise. Everything is fresher and there's no packaging, plus it is an awesome feeling to be intimately involved with my nourishment. A Grist article by Jane Mountain lit a fire under me last week! It's all about five packaged foods you never need to buy again, starting with soup stock.

I'm aware of the unhealthy BPA linings in many canned foods, so I already make my own beans, always with kombu! When it comes to soup I usually go the easy route and use a big onion, water and garlic as my base, but a stock with more complexity adds a lot of richness to the soup. I'll share my Vietnamese noodle soup recipe soon. It was noticeably better when built on this basic stock from Deborah Madison:

Basic Vegetable Stock

1 large onion
2 large carrots
2 celery ribs, including a few leaves
1 bunch scallions or chives
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, optional
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
8 parsley branches
6 thyme sprigs or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 bay leaves

In a soup pot, I sweat the vegetables, garlic, herbs and yeast (if using) in a small amount of water (you could use olive oil) for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1-2 teaspoons salt and 2 quarts cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain.

Oh my! Who knew granola could be so easy, oil free and irresistible? I used what I had on hand, which meant a handful of almonds and about a cup of walnuts (no pepitas or pecans this time), plus raisins and no oil. Tahini and candied ginger are the secret ingredients! Recipe from Rivka Friedman.

Granola with Tahini

2 1/2 cups oats
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon walnut oil, optional
2/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), either salted or unsalted, depending on preference
2/3 cup sliced almonds
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup raisins, cranberries, or other dried berry (I like half raisins, half cherries)
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 325˚.

1) In a small bowl, mix syrup, tahini, oil if using, salt, and cinnamon until incorporated. In a large bowl, mix all remaining ingredients until well-distributed.

2) Drizzle the syrup-tahini mixture overtop, stirring with a fork until all dry bits are at least slightly wet and clumps have started to form.

3) Spread granola on a large rimmed baking sheet in a thin layer and bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes.

4) Remove from oven, stir with a fork to move pieces from edge to center and from top to bottom. Make sure pieces that have started to brown are in the center and well-surrounded.

5) Return to oven and bake 10-12 more minutes, until golden brown throughout. Granola will not be crunchy when it leaves the oven; don’t worry — it’ll crisp up as it cools. Once cool, transfer to air-tight container; granola will keep this way for up to 1 month.

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