From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fun with food

Buddy Dave brought me some more corn pasta, one of which was a bag of little duck shapes.

I was surprised they kept their shape after boiling (al dente) and then a minute or so in the microwave until the cheese melted.

There you have it.  

A nice bowl of ..... waaaaait for it .....

Quack'n'cheese.  

Yum!


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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Time change - and taste buds too

Don't know about you, but my taste buds change with the seasons.  Over winter I crave hearty foods, hot bowls of savory dishes filled with meats and carbs like rice and potatoes.

But when the time changes in Spring, it's like a switch is flipped and heavy foods lose their appeal and I start really craving for fruits and veg.  Makes perfect sense.

Like today, I wanted a hot lunch, but not in a bowl.  Yesterday I was at the market and was picking up lots of fresh stuff.  Great for a stir fry.

Can't beat a combo of browned mushrooms and onions in EVOO.  Added some julliene peppers, chard, almonds and chunks of zuchinni to saute.  Finally chicken and leftover corn spaghetti noodles.  Season liberally with smoked seranno pepper, garlic and black peppers and about a 1.5T of gluten-free soy sauce.  

Talk about YUMMO!  

Nice thing about this combo, if I leave out the soy sauce and throw in a couple tomatoes and Italian seasoning, it works great too.  

How about you?  Ready for those summer salads and cold pasta dishes?

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Soaking cereals

During these long cold winter days I love me a big bowl of steaming oatmeal in the morning.

For years it was just that - oatmeal.  When I got ill a couple years ago, I started adding flaxseed.

Now that I've got a good grip on avoiding gluten over the past 2 years, I've turned my eye toward another bug-a-boo - anti-nutrients.  I've been reading up a lot lately about phytates and phytic acid.

Short story, in olden days cereal grains and legumes were soaked for a long time before turning them into something folks could eat.  Even breads/biscuits etc used to be mostly made with sourdough.  Why?  It seems that anything that is a seed (grains, beans, seeds, nuts, etc) contains substances that try to inhibit them from breaking down in a digestive system.  After all, if fish, animals, birds, etc. ate all the seeds, soon plant replenishment would suffer.  So the plants developed seeds that not only allowed a high percentage (like tomato seeds, etc) to survive the process, but (and here's the kicker) grab on to stuff from the body to take out with them: iron, calcium, manganese, etc.

Tricky little devils.  However, a seed that impervious would never be able to germinate even at the end of the ride.  So husks/shells also contains phytase - an enzyme that helps neutralize the phytic acid under certain conditions (like a warm moist day).

Certain grains have lots of phytase to reduce the phytic acid.  Oatmeal, on the other hand, does not.  You can soak oatmeal for 24 hrs, it won't reduce much of the phytic acid. And as you know - I love my oatmeal.   

Enter companion soaking.  If you soak a low phytase cereal (like oats) with a high phytase cereal (like buckwheat - it's not a wheat and it has no gluten), you get way more neutralization.  So now I'm soaking my oatmeal these days.

I make up enough for 3 days at a time.  Into a quart jar I add 1.25C rolled oats, 2T buckwheat groats, 1T flaxseed meal and couple of heaping spoonfuls of chopped nuts.  I cover them with warm (not hot) filtered water, a few grains of sea salt, and 1T raw apple cider vinegar (acid activates the phytase - you could also use lemon juice, whey, kefir or buttermilk).  Jarring it up only takes a couple minutes and I've added only 2 new ingredients to my 'usual' old oatmeal: the buckwheat and the vinegar.

After 24 hours (my kitchen is cool, so I keep my jar on a rack over a heating vent - keeps the mix around 85-95F), I dump the mix in a sieve, allow most of the milky liquid to drain off and divide the soaked cereal into 3 portions.

To 1 portion I add about 1/3-1/2C fresh water, mix it up and microwave for 4 minutes on medium.  The other 2 portions go in the fridge.  After microwaving, I add some milk and either maple or agave syrup to the bowl.  Talk about a creamy, flavorful, filling, and (now) much reduced phytic acid morning meal.

I know that phytic acid has benefits and I've read up on them, too.  I doubt I'll be doing much other about it except for breakfast, though I'll keep soaking my beans as I've always done (they have lots of phytic acid too).  

Best bonus? Not only do soaked rolled oats quick much faster, I have learned that I really like the added toasty taste that the buckwheat groats bring to the table.

How about you?  Ever soaked your cereals?

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