Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ethiopian-Style Soup

We love Ethiopian food.  I will always be indebted to my husband for introducing me to this wonderful cuisine so many (sixteen?) years ago.  My life it much better for it.  Sadly, we left our beloved Ethiopian restaurants behind when we moved to our cozy little Midwestern college town.  We discovered a little gem a couple hours away in Indy, but especially as a car free family it is a luxury to trek that far for matter how good.  I introduced several friends to Ethiopian after our homeschooling trip to the Indianapolis Children's Museum a year ago.  One of our friends was so taken with Ethiopian that she quickly ordered a pound of berbere.  She generously shared some with us and I hate to admit that the wonderful berbere has been underutilized at our house.  I recently reorganized/re-alphabetized our spices and I made a vow to make more Ethiopian.
Today, I noticed Vegan Dad's post of Ethiopian-Style Soup and I knew this was destined to be dinner.  (Dinner was late and it was dark and my silly camera refused not to flash so checkout Vegan Dad's photo, please!)  It was quite good, but I only used 1/2 teaspoon of berbere and I would at least double if not triple this amount.  My version ended up tasting a little more Indian than Ethiopian, but it will be a staple this fall if it ever cools off.  Rob picked up some focaccia from Pekara to serve with the soup. Now I notice Vegan Dad has a recipe for Teff Biscuits which we will try next time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Thai

A certain little girl had her pick of restaurants Labor Day weekend. She, of course, picked Thara Thai (as the kids usually do when we let them pick) . We had not eaten Thai for quite some time due to eating at home more often. Unfortunately, TT was closed for the long weekend. Instead we decided to dine at the newly opened, My Thai (our friend and local Vegan Meetup host, Wade, named the cool). It is Siam Terrace's second location.  It is located dangerously close to the gym I recently joined and in some ways is more convenient than the Urbana location.
I had to take this picture because my kids not only eat the appetizers (this time it was steamed pot stickers and veggie sushi), but they also eat the all the veggie garish as well.  Many a wait staff has commented on this, makes me laugh.
Dema working on his chopstick skills (they have been eating with chopsticks a lot at home lately and I'm looking for non-plastic starter chopsticks if anyone has advice)
Tofu Pad Thai (we liked this dish better than the Siam Terrace version, but the owner came out to chat with us and said you can specify that you would prefer a dish as made at ST)
Mock Duck Curry (a longtime favorite of Parker's, it is spicy and never disappoints)

The owners are super sweet and very family friendly.  They clearly mark vegetarian options and work with you to ensure a dish is vegan.  At the Siam Terrace location, they have brown rice, but I didn't see it on the menu at My Thai.  It was busy when were visited, but I will ask next time.  We'll definitely dine at My Thai again.  (They have delivery, as well.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Here is another post I started weeks ago (mid-July), but never finished.  I need to feel it today.

Josie on her beloved balance bike at the beginning of the summer.  Just say "no" to training wheels, balance is where it is at!
Climbing a central Illinois "hill".
Finding the balance.
Feeling the speed.
The reason the entire family wears helmets.
Love helps one find their balance.

Rob's meditation this summer was walking his slack line in the park.

Parker painted quite a bit in the park this summer.  I asked him what the picture was, thinking he would say a drama mask.  He said, "This is a picture of Dema."  He really captured the yin and yang of his brother.

Speaking of balance.  Some days it is hard to have a different kind of balance.  It is easy to see what goes on in the world and get depressed.  Thank goodness for Michael Franti!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Green Day

We took care of Loretta's adorable children (2 and 4 years old) Thursday, which made lunch time even more fun, I really enjoy cooking for other people's kids.  If I could just do a lunch daycare where I fed kids lunch, it would be a blast.  On this particular day, I had green on my mind because a mother had asked, on a veg parenting forum, recently, about how to get her children (around 2 and 4) to eat more vegetables**.  Loretta's kids eat great so I knew they would probably eat anything I cooked, if they weren't too distracted by playing.  Rob pressure cooked the chickpeas we soaked last night before he went to work so I also had chickpeas to use.  I reread "The Chicken Gave it To Me"* this week to my kids which has a green planet where everything is green, including the inhabitants.  Thus, I decided today was green day and everything would be green.  The kids snacked on Veggie Booty (a treat!) while they watched a Tinker Bell movie (she always wears a green dress) as I fixed lunch.
Green Mango "Ice Cream" and Green Curried Chickpea Patties

The ice cream is really one of our usual mango, shredded coconut, flax seed, kale, non-dairy milk smoothies, but I added rolled oats to make it spoonable.  Josie was asking for this for a few days so she was thrilled.  When K (four years old) first sat down, he was a little skeptical.  My kids were already spooning the ice cream in their mouths so he asked what it was.  I said "mango ice cream" and he sounded interested, but was still obviously wondering why it was green.  He ate a few tentative bites and then more and said, "I could eat this all day!" and I had to laugh.  He is so cute!  Once they had drained the Vitamix of the ice cream, they all clamored for more.  K's sister, T (two) was more interested in the Green Curried Chickpea Patties which, if I do say so myself, were even better with the addition of kale.  Instead of parsley, I added about half a dozen de-stemmed raw kale leaves.  I doubled the recipe and thought I'd keep half of the mixture to use another day, but I had to go right back in the kitchen and cook them all (probably sixteen patties) since the first plate disappeared so fast.  A couple of the kids dipped their patties in unsweetened ketchup and the others ate them as a sandwich on Strawberry Field's Veggie Seed Bread.  Parker took the green to a new level by adding avocado, pickles, and mixed greens to his.  To keep five children at the table eating, instead of running around crazy until they keeled over from lack of calories, as they are sometimes wont to do, I read "How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head" by Bill Peet.  Droofus is partially green (okay, he is more blue than green, but he becomes a vegetarian dragon and eats grass).  I love reading to a group of kids under six because they ask questions incessantly.  Parker was never like that, he just sat still for book after book from a very young age, but he is an exception.  Once their bellies were full and they were off to play trains/house/Lego, I took a second to grab a bite, but didn't get a chance to snap a decent picture.  Afternoon snacks were rice cakes with seaweed (another treat!).  We did continue green day a bit after our guest were gone, by putting kale our homemade pizzas at dinner.

*I will review "The Chicken Gave it To Me" in another post, I can't believe I've never reviewed it for the blog before.

**Some of my advice to this or any parent trying to get more veggies into to their kids:

  • Serve them!  Seems simple, but a lot of times we here a complaint about a food or the kids don't eat something so we stop serving it.  Don't stop!  (Of course, be mindful of allergies and food sensitivities and if a child doesn't feel well after eating something or shows a reaction, I would avoid the food and/or have them tested.)
  • Serve vegetables for every meal of the day, breakfast and snacks too.  Seriously, the more kids see a food, the more "normal" they find the food.  Many kids also eat more earlier in the day than later and if all the veggies are packed into dinner they may just miss out because they filled up at breakfast and lunch.
  • Be okay with different preferences.  If you are serving veggies (a wide variety, but always trying to get a green leafy one in daily) all day, they will consume some of them.  Parker loves garlicky kale, Josie prefers mixed green salads, Dema begs for green soup, they all go for green smoothies.  So I don't stress if all three kids don't eat every bite of everything I serve them, they get what they need throughout the day/week.
  • Variety, variety, variety.  I aim for ten different fruits and veggies a day.  It doesn't have to be ten servings and usually it is more than ten.  If you're child is only eating one, shoot for three or five.  Try different ways of preparing or presenting veggies.
  • "Sneak" them.  I often add extra veggies to dishes, but I like to make sure my kids know what is in a dish, especially if they ask for more.  I want them to reach for vegetables when they are out on their own and know that they enjoy the taste of them.  Josie from a very young age would remind me to buy kale so we could make smoothies.  If your child has been "taught" (I am always amazed at how many children's books or children's shows assume that kids won't like vegetables or show "normal" children turning up their noses to healthy foods, I will never understand why we do this type of shooting our families in the nutritional foot) to dislike the word vegetable and anything involved with veggies then just sneak and don't tell for now.
  • Eat vegetables yourself.  While this did not work for me as a child, I really do think it has an effect.  If children see their parents eating and enjoying vegetables, they are more likely to do the same.
Oh and I had the kids listen to Green Day, okay not really, but next time I will.  They did rock out to some music, it was adorable.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Crowder Peas, A Love Story

Tonight was a lazy dinner, but deeply satisfying.  Just what we needed on this drizzly late summer evening.
Baked tofu (SoyBoy organic tofu bought in 4lb package a week and half ago is finally getting used, baked with a little olive oil, a bit of Bragg's Amino Acids, a splash of blackstrap molasses, a heap of nooch, and a powdering of curry powder), mixed greens, Vegenaise, one of the last heirloom tomatoes from our garden, carrots from the co-op, avocado from Strawberry Fields and a hint of black pepper on Veggie Seed bread from Strawberry Fields.  Garlicky kale (kale provided by our sweet neighbor friend, Greg).  Crowder peas from our other sweet neighbor friend, Katie.  Katie generously gave us a bag of coveted crowder peas from her parents garden in Georgia.  We immediately froze them so they would stay fresh and finally boiled the tonight with a touch of olive oil and sea salt.  Of my, crowder peas are so good!  They remind me of Rob's grandmother.  He says the crowder peas his grandparents grew were purplish so the taste is a little different, but still worth a second or third helping.  The kids gobbled them up like they always did at MaMa's (Rob's grandmother) house.  MaMa lived well into her 90's and I think crowder peas might have something to do with her longevity.

For those of you from the North, like I am, you may not have heard of crowder peas.  They are related to black eyed peas, but I find them so much better, but maybe that is because all the crowder peas I've eaten have been fresh not dried or canned (or if they were canned they were canned at home which tastes different than canned in a factory).  They are little nutrient power houses as most beans are, but they apparently also have edible leaves which are high in protein.  We might just have to try to grow these next year.

Perfect Pasta Salad

Usually, I don't get excited about pasta salad.  Sure, it is a great addition to picnic/cookout fare, but it isn't usually the main attraction so to speak.  Not this pasta salad.  It could be the main dish for a hot summer dinner on the porch.  It is that good.  This salad also comes together in minutes and you can use pretty much any veggies you happen to have on hand.  Thus, the "perfect" in my title.
Last-Minute Italian-Style Pasta Salad from 1,000 Vegan Recipes, Garlicky Kale, Watermelon

I originally made this salad because I needed something quick to take to Wedrose Acres.  We had to leave in less than an hour so I opened up 1,000 Vegan Recipes and again it worked its magic.  The recipe called for chickpeas and fortuitously that week was my week of chickpeas.  We soaked and cooked over twenty cups of chickpeas (thus the posts on Curried Chickpea Patties and we made a huge container of hummus to share at Wedrose Acres).  Also, included in the pasta salad recipe were kalamata olives.  We adore kalamata olives and usually buy them from our buying club in bulk, but we've been trying to stay within a budget and kalamata olives are expensive so I sadly omitted them.  I did happen to have sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, peas, and capers.  I threw in some chopped Italian Field Roast Grain Meat Sausages (they were on sale that week at our co-op and I bought two packages, it was amazing how far two packages went).  The dish was not too vinegary, as I find many pasta salads, and the kids loved it.  Others seemed to like it as well since it disappeared quickly and people returned for seconds.  We had to make it again later in the week because it was so good.