Yummy Vegan Veggie Lentil Soup

My doctor totally depressed me cos she told me her husband’s best friend just died from Covid-19 and because she’s on the frontlines treating patients, she cautioned me to be extra careful and stay home and away from people.

I decided it was a great day to make another version of my favorite hearty and healthy soup.

Lentil Tofu Veggie Soup

Ingredients:
*Carrots, 3 large
*Celery, 2-3 stalks including leaves
*Tofu, whole package
*Lentils,1.5 cups
*Kale, 2 cups
*Broccoli, half head
*Canned organic tomatoes, 28 ounce can
*Bay leaves and other garden herbs

–Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large pot.
–Add roughly chopped carrots and celery. I don’t like onions so I didn’t add them, but go ahead and chop up half an onion if you like them.
–When they’re nicely browned and have released a lot of flavor, add dried lentils and six cups of water along with a couple bay leaves.

–Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer.
–Add bite-sized pieces of broccoli and tofu along with chopped kale.
–Simmer for about an hour, stir every once in a while. Add more water as needed.
–Add a large can of diced tomatoes in juice and any herbs to taste.
–I picked sage and oregano and thyme from the garden.
–Add 1/2 teaspoon pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt (optional).

–Serve in a large bowl with freshly chopped cilantro and basil. I’ve been lucky enough to have beautiful lettuce this season, so I picked a few fresh leaves for a salad to accompany this delicious soup.

Sometimes I make a crusty French bread but I didn’t feel like it because I’m sad about almost losing our precious democracy but I might make vegan biscuits tomorrow cos I’ll eat this soup for a few days.

It gets better every day.

Adding Spice to My Life

I don’t know if it’s similar to the Great Toilet Paper Hoarding of 2020 or a supply chain issue, but when I used the very last drop of my Tapatio hot sauce, every store I went to was out of it.

I tried them all: Target, Stater Brothers, even WalMart, and there was the little sign on an empty space where the Tapatio should have been.

There were other hot sauces to choose from: Valentina, Crystal, Cholula, whatever Trader’s brand is, but not Tapatio. I was looking specifically for Mexican hot sauce, not Tabasco or Sriracha–it had to be Tapatio, my favorite.

I didn’t really want to order it online but I would have, except that at my final stop at Vons I found the VERY LAST BOTTLE of Tapatio, a giant thirty-two ounce size, so I’ll be happy and spicy for quite a while.

Funny enough, they were also completely out of the small sized bottle, so that’s all there was to choose from.

Now I can enjoy a yummy quesadilla with vegan cheese!

Do you have a favorite hot sauce?

Super Healthy Vegan Protein Smoothie

Happy Sunday!

The color of this smoothie was such a gorgeous jade green, I just had to pour it in a pretty cocktail glass and take a pic.

Ingredients:

+Vegan Pea Protein
+Moringa powder (Organic)
+Wheat grass powder (Organic)
+Spirulina powder (Organic)
+Kale
+Banana
+Mango Peach Juice

So easy; toss it all in a blender and enjoy!

Garden Treasures. Winter Gratitude.

Freshly picked gifts from Mother Earth in all the brilliant colors of the season.

Red leaf lettuce, peppery arugula, baby romaine, and baby kale fill a pristine white bowl.

Accompanied by steamed brown rice and a glass of crisp chardonnay, it’s a purely simple and fulfilling dinner.

75D502DE-62EA-439C-A21B-0E48D0830406

A Practical Guide to Weaning Fast

Let me first say that the one and only time I weaned my one and only child was in 1982, so what am I doing writing about weaning, you might ask?

My thirty-six year old son weaned himself on his first birthday with no warning, and my poor body suffered while he loved the autonomy of his burgeoning independent nature.

This is a guest post written by my DIL, who is now the mother of my one and only amazing and brilliant grandson.
___________________________________________________________________

My son turned one at the beginning of March.

I had been toying with the idea of weaning him for a couple of months.

Initially, I had tried the “only when he asks” approach, but babies are creatures of habit, so he continued to ask and I continued to feed on demand.

As soon as my son had his twelve-month wellness check and his pediatrician said he was physically and emotionally ready, I was eager to start the process of weaning.

The thought of dragging this out for six-plus weeks was too much for me, but the risks of going cold turkey are very real (infection, blocked duct, emotional trauma) so I proceeded with caution. If you do need to wean quickly for whatever reason, or your baby just suddenly rejects the breast, here are some tips to get through it more quickly.

As a disclaimer, my son was already eating three meals a day plus snacks, so it wasn’t like I was still producing a massive amount of milk. He was clearly obtaining his nutrition from other sources.

Where to start…
Start with the easiest feeds. For me, those were the ones when he woke up. I first eliminated those after naps, then morning, then before day naps, before bed, and then the dreaded night feeds…

Tips for baby…
I have been a RIE (Resources for Infant Educarersmom since day one, otherwise known as respectful parenting. The philosophy centers around honest and authentic communication as soon as baby is hours old. Even though I was tempted to put band aids on my nipples and say “mommy is sick”, or apply garlic so it would taste gross, my son and I faced the challenge together.

 

Make it positive — I bought my little guy a special cup for homemade smoothies to replace the nursing experience from his wake up feeds. My son loves rabbits, so I got him the biggest rabbit cup I could find; since he has no problem with a straw, that’s what we use, but a sippy cup would be equally successful.

Do not place yourself in familiar nursing situations — I love to read books in bed with my son in the morning, but during weaning I would get up, shower and dress, so that as soon as he woke up I took him out of the bedroom for banana and almond milk smoothie in “Rab Rab”.

(Smoothie recipes below.)

Sport the high-necks — I wore three layers to minimize the odor of milk, as well as high neck shirts that he could not pull down.

Stay busy — As we eliminated the day feeds, I made those days extra busy. We were barely ever at home so as not to place ourselves in situations where he would even think to ask.

Mr. Mousie — I bought a special blanket that I sprayed with Chanel Mademoiselle (my familiar scent), which I use to cuddle him with during Rab Rab smoothie time. (Smoothie recipes below.) This was a blanket that I could also use to place in the crib for naptime. Extra cuddles and love during weaning will help to bridge the emotional loss of breast feeding.

Change of scenery — I chose to do it while visiting Grandma. There were so many exciting things for little one to do and experience, and I got the support I needed as my body and emotions went through the change and the challenge.

Watch out for hunger — As I worked on eliminating the night feeds, I needed to make sure that he was not waking up because he was hungry. Toddlers burn through so much energy! When they have been asleep from 6.30pm, it is reasonable that at 4:00 am it might be that they need a little something in their tummy. I was focused on eliminating the breast so my milk would fully dry up, and I decided to replace those feeds with a bottle of warm milk. Try what works for you; regular organic milk, almond milk, or coconut milk.

Boundless love — I got lots of advice to let Dad go in at night so he cannot ask for milk. As part of the RIE I mentioned earlier, I faced this head on. I went in and there were moments that were heart-breakingly sad. But in my heart I knew it was time, and so I told him — I know this is hard for you. I love you so much. And found lots of ways to be close, tight cuddles, cheek to cheek.

Success! After two weeks, my little guy is completely weaned, sleeping through the night, and started walking. What a great first year!

(If your little one is also teething, try the teething biscuit recipe below. My son LOVES them!)

Tips for mom…

Sage — 
I drank fresh sage tea and infused sage water pretty much constantly. I also included fresh mint and lemon balm, but sage was my primary fluid. I was advised that you should drink it every six hours, but I had a cuppa going all day.

Cabbage Leaves — These have been used for centuries and I can see why!! I was a little skeptical at first, but they work amazingly well. For the first few days, I used them continuously during waking hours. I kept them in the fridge so they were nice and cold, which feels wonderful if you start to feel engorged. Place the stems out, and change every 30–90 mins depending upon flow.

Antihistamine — This is also meant to dry up milk. I took a non-drowsy type every 24 hours.

Warm showers — The first day I took three warm showers. I would massage my breasts and hand express just enough to make sure the ducts still had an outlet, but not too much to stimulate production.

Heating pad — I read varying accounts of this, but I did use a heating pad at times when the engorgement made my breasts feel hard and lumpy.

Ice-pack — I used this in-between the heating pad to cool down swelling. I was also using cold cabbage leaves, so the icepack was used when I was taking a break from the cabbage leaves.

Topless Sunbathing — Luckily I was weaning at Grandma’s house in Southern California, so while my little one was napping, I could enjoy some au naturale topless sage tea!

Rocky Road ice-cream — It’s important to remember that if you’re eaning fast, you’ll go through a pretty big hormone crash. Be prepared and have supplies. Pamper yourself with whatever you need to do for self care to get through PMS — ice-cream, movies, cuddles. I kept laser focused on the end-game — no more night feeds, no more gross nursing bras, and no more sanitary pads in your BRA!!! (and all over the bathroom floor).

Sleep — sleep when you can because you may need extra energy at night. If you’ve been used to nursing, dousing, and then crashing out, remember that getting a baby to sleep without popping them on the breast takes more energy and perseverance.

WAB WAB Smoothie I

Waking up in the morning and after nap

1/2 cup milk or almond milk

1 TBS organic almond butter

1/4 small banana

Sprinkle cinammon

Wab Wab Smoothie II

1/4 cup 100% organic fruit juice

½ cup purified water

Leftover kale, spinach, chard, or other leafy veg, well blended!

1/4 cup Organic whole milk Greek yogurt

Chopped/grated apple or pear or organic blueberries/strawberries

Blend all.

Teething Biscuits

1 cup almond milk or coconut water or a combination

Blend 1/2 cup dates and 1/2 cup raisins with the liquid until well chopped.

Pour into bowl

2 TBS organic agave

2–3 TBS vegetable or coconut oil

Add 1/2 cup flax meal

1 cup organic whole wheat flour (or any flour)

Oat flour is easy to make in a blender

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

Mix all. Add a little more flour and knead briefly to make dough pliable.

Roll into 12×14

Cut into 1inch x 6 inch slices

Roll into finger sized shapes, easy for little hands to grasp.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes and then 300 degrees for another 15 minutes turn off oven and let them cool in oven.

How to Bake This Seriously Easy Rustic Savory Uber Crusty Olive/Jalapeno/Garlic Bread

This is bread heaven.

Crusty golden on the outside, chewy texture studded with olives, jalpenos, and garlic on the inside.

OK, listen to me. There is NO reason why you can’t recreate this masterpiece of textures and mouthwatering goodness.

If you think baking bread is beyond your skill set, think again.

Can you toss a few ingredients in a bowl, go away for a couple of hours, and throw a few olives and other things on top of the dough and mold it into a round shape?

Can you?

Of course you can.https://enchantedseashells.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/olivejalapenogarlicbread1.jpg

 

It’s so easy — not rocket science — and I guarantee success.

homemade bread recipe

Seriously Easy Rustic Savory Olive/Jalapeno/Garlic Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1 package regular active yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil just for the rising bowl)

1 cup rough chopped olives (pitted)
2 jalapeños
3 cloves garlic

1. You can either sauté the jalapeños and garlic for a few minutes or leave them raw; it’s your choice. I used pickled lalapenos and garlic ‘cos I had them in the pantry.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, salt, water. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, mix until it comes together in a wet ball. Add a bit more flour if it looks too wet, but you don’t want an overly dry dough.

3. If you’re doing it all by hand, old-school style, use a wooden spoon and put some muscle into it.

4. When it comes together, flour a cutting board and knead for a bit; this is a rustic bread so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

5. Oil a bowl with the reserved olive oil, place the dough in bowl, cover with a plastic bag, and set aside in a warm place to rise for a couple of hours. It helps to blanket the bowl with a towel, too.

6. After you can see the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough onto a floured wooden board. With your hands, roughly press the dough into a circle.

7. Add half the olives/jalapenos/garlic.

8. Fold the dough in half and gently press again to a rough circle.

9. Add the rest of the ingredients and form the dough into a ball shape.

Not so different than Play-Doh, right?

10. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

11. Dust the baking sheet with a teaspoon or so of cornmeal or flour.

12. Let rise again for about thirty minutes.

13. Toward the end of this second rising, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

14. Using a sharp knife, cut an X-shaped slit across the top of the dough.

15. Bake about forty minutes until the top is golden brown.

16. What I like to do toward the end of baking time is to take the bread off the baking pan and place directly on the rack to bake for another five-seven minutes. This ensures a completely even crunchy crust.

17. Take out of the oven, place on cooling rack.

It’s very important not to cut into it too soon! I know it’s hard to wait, but sometimes it’s a good idea.

Serve with homemade lentil soup and a fresh garden salad; this is truly bread heaven.olivebread3

Enjoy!

I’d like to hear from you if you try it. I taught tugboat man how and he didn’t think it was too difficult.

Abandoning the mother ship

pumpkin, pumpkin stew

Soon to be pumpkin stew

DIL and sister wife left this morning to drive back up to SF. I still have my son until tomorrow. He flies out mid-morning to the east coast and I’m not looking forward to the thirty-five minute drive and the lunacy of the airport. At its best it’s not pleasant. Now they’re undergoing major construction delays and it’s another level of Hell.  For the moment, home is reminiscent of the old days; he’s sitting at the dining room table with a computer surrounded by piles of books, only this time he’s not writing a report or research paper, he’s grading essays.

Young Yale Professor

Photo of a Yale professor in action

I can’t believe this little sk8r boy of mine goes to work and fifteen college freshman call him Professor Angel Boy. Of course, they don’t REALLY call him Angel Boy, but I think they  should. It’s hard to wrap my brain around the concept. It’s mind boggling. Especially since he still derives the greatest pleasure by shocking me with offensive earsplitting and vulgar expulsions of intestinal gas that serves as his initial form of communication when he opens the front door (Insert loud breaking wind sounds here) “Hi, mom, I’m home!” or belching as commentary while we’re enjoying a lovely meal at the dinner table, like Thanksgiving. Apparently, my laughing is an ineffective method of dissuading that kind of behavior. Sometimes I tell him he’s disgusting but he finds that a compliment rather than a criticism. His wife thinks he’s funny too; even the captain finds him humorous, shaking his head, “That’s our boy!” almost, no, not almost–completely proud of him– so it’s hopeless. The dichotomy between his academic braininess and his juvenile antics is-uh-refreshing. It’s no wonder I treat him like he’s still in the third grade. It’s as if he never left elementary school with the stupid arm farts and the other robust sounds and smells that emanate from all of his orifices. I keep my fingers crossed that when he meets with his department heads or his publisher that he remembers all the lessons in good manners we practiced and he only acts out here as the living embodiment of the prodigal son. Like I said, fingers crossed. 

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

Smells DELICIOUS

I’m in the kitchen baking another loaf of Whole Wheat Bread. Tonight we had Moroccan Pumpkin Stew (recipe below) with steamed brown rice and Seared Ahi ‘cos I have to make sure he gets enough protein.

It’s kind of cold, damp, and foggy; after dinner we made a fire and  played Scrabble. He won, of course–232 to 219.scrabble

An assortment of desserts; apple pie, black bean brownies, oatmeal cookiesapple pie, black bean brownies, oatmeal cookies

Beautiful flowers from my Angel Boy

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 6 small potatoes, well-scrubbed but not peeled, cut in half
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-1/2 cups canned tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons raisins

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrot, potato, and pumpkin and saute for 5-10 minutes, stirring from time to time. When vegetables have softened, add the ginger and garlic. Continue to saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and cinnamon stick. Cook for another 5-8 minutes, then add the canned tomato and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, then add the raisins. Allow to cook for 18-25 minutes until all vegetables are soft – but don’t overcook. Serve over or with brown rice.

A Kugel-icous Recipe for Passover, too!

I posted this for Hannukah but we make it for Passover, too. I hope you try it and enjoy! Since my stupid oven broke for the 4th time yesterday as I was making my son’s birthday cake, I’m not sure I’ll be able to make Kugel since we couldn’t get a repair appointment until Thursday and the stupid part will take a week to arrive, so we are out of luck! Stupid Sears! Stupid Kenmore! Stupid planned obsolescence!
A pic of kugel (not mine) from http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/FoodAndWine/Article.aspx?id=290152

 

What is Kugel?                                                                                                                            Kugel is a savory or sweet pudding of potatoes or noodles usually served as a side dish. It’s of German/Jewish origin. Our family’s traditional Kugel is the sweet noodle kind and my mom’s version is to die for. Really. It’s spectacular hot or cold. I’ll make it tomorrow and take pics. It’s one of those recipes you can make a day in advance and it gets better and better. If you have any leftovers–which we never do- it freezes pretty good. I limit myself to making it only a couple times a year and I eat as much as I want and just work out a bit harder and a bit longer to burn off the calories.

Angel Boy’s Grandma’s Kugel

Ingredients

One large package wide egg noodles
One large can fruit cocktail in juice
One small can pineapple pieces in juice
One large can canned peaches and pears in heavy syrup, yes, you read that right.
At least 3 Granny Smith apples, sliced with about 1/3 cup sugar and 1-2 TBS cinnamon.
3 Eggs
2 tsp vanilla
One lemon,  juiced and zested.

This is a good dish to make in advance especially if you’re also planning to make apple pie (which I am) ‘cos you can just prepare all the apples for both dishes. The secret to this dish is a LOT of cinnamon. If you think you have enough, add a little bit more! Cook a whole package of wide egg noodles and drain. Add 3 beaten eggs with vanilla; it will be super slippery. Add the lemon juice and zest to the apple slices. Drain all the canned fruit but keep the juices; you will need them. Mix together all the canned fruits. Butter one large and one medium deep baking dish. Add a layer of noodles, then a layer of canned fruit, a layer of apples, then another layer of noodles, a layer of the canned fruit, sliced apples, more noodles, more canned fruit and apples, ending with a final layer of noodles. Pour over any remaining egg mixture, and a cup or so of the fruit juices. Be very liberal with the juice. It will all get soaked up as the kugel bakes. Jason’s grandma would dot the whole thing with a bunch of Crisco, like ¼ cup, which sounds gross, but I still follow her recipe. Some people use butter, but we don’t. Other recipes add cottage cheese and raisins, but I’ve only made it my mom’s way, although I’m sure it would be delicious. Bake covered at 300 degrees for about an hour or so depending on the pan size. Take cover off for final 15 minutes. Excellent reheated and/or cold.

Black Bean Brownies and Lentil Cookies

These recipes were requested by TheFurFiles. I hope you and your family enjoy them as much as mine does! I’m taking a break from baking until Thanksgiving when my son, DIL, and sister wife are in town.

News Flash…I’m losing my best buddy. The captain’s leaving tomorrow for about 7 weeks. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the way it is. One day he’s here, and one day he’s not. Right now I’m in shock. We knew it would happen eventually–the call would come–but neither of us was expecting it so soon. He hasn’t even been home a full month. Oh well, I’m a glass half full kind of gal so I won’t be too upset. It’s watching him pack that’s making me sad right now!

Black Bean Brownies

  • 1 can or 3/4 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, or olive oil (I always use a bit less)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar ( I’ve tried brown sugar and I’ve tried agave, not sure what’s better, kind of a personal taste thing)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 9-inch square baking pan. In a blender, puree the beans with the oil. Add the eggs, cocoa, sugar, coffee, and vanilla. Melt half the chocolate chips and add to the blender. Blend on medium-high until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the blender and pulse until just incorporated. Stir in the remaining chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake until the surface looks somewhat matte around the edges and still a bit shiny in the middle, about 20 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting and removing from the pan. My family thinks they taste better the longer you let them sit, so the beany texture dissipates.

Lentil Cookies (Alton Brown‘s version)

  • 9 1/2 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour, approximately 2 cups*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 8 ounces sugar, approximately 1 cup (1/2 white, 1/2 brown)
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, approximately 1/2 cup***Sometimes I use half oil, half butter, or all oil. Depends on my mood and my pantry.
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups lentil puree, recipe follows
  • 3 1/2 ounces rolled oats, approximately 1 cup
  • 4 ounces dried fruit, approximately 1 cup
  • 2 1/4 ounces unsweetened dried shredded coconut, approximately 1 cup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice. In the bowl of a stand-mixer with a whisk attachment, cream together the sugar and butter on medium speed. Add the egg and mix until just incorporated. Add the vanilla and lentil puree and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and blend on low speed until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the oats, dried fruit and coconut. Form the dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving about 1-inch of room in between. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes.

Lentil Puree:

  • 4 ounces lentils, approximately 2/3 cup, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 cups water

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the lentils and the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and puree. If using immediately, let cool. The puree may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. Yield: 1 1/2 cups lentil puree.

Crazy pearly swirly watermelon

It’s too hot to go outside so I’m feverishly snapping pix and posting them wherever I can. El Capitan is somewhere in hurricane-infested waters, my son is at a conference in New York, and DIL has joined him. I’m holding up the entire west coast by myself–everyone else has populated the other side!

Check out this swirly yellow watermelon; when I took the photo, it appeared to me that the little white seeds looked like pearls embedded in the flesh. If I’m mistaken, we can attribute it to the extreme heat and cold turkey alone-ness, a powerful combination…

Am I the only one who sees pearls here?