Thursday, April 28, 2011

Braised Spring Vegetables with Grits, Poached Eggs, and Chives

Blargh!  I can't wait until the next two weeks are over with!  There's simply no fun to be had with law school finals.  And worse, I have to miss a friend's Royal Wedding Themed Sleepover Party tomorrow!  Man, a girl can't cut a break, except for this weekend when Todd and I went on a fancy bar crawl downtown!

The original recipe calls for mint, but I couldn't find it, so I omitted it.  If you have better luck than me,  add about two tablespoons of freshly chopped mint with the garlic.  Also, for as much fun I had watching the eggs poach, I don't think they're absolutely necessary to make this dish work.

In the interest of full disclosure, Todd tells me this recipe tastes healthy, so unfortunately it probably won't be making a reappearance around here.  He thought  it tasted a little bland,  maybe that's just because I omitted the mint (and butter and oil).  I like grits and eggs and vegetables a lot of their own, but it did come out a bit odd when all together (savory but maybe a little bland).  Apart from that, the vegetables came together nicely, and I'd make just the vegetable combo again, maybe over brown rice?

Braised Spring Vegetables with Grits, Poached Eggs, and Chives
Adapted from Fresh Food Fast, Serves 4

For the Grits
1tsp kosher salt
1.5 cups grits (white or yellow)

For the Vegetables and Poached Eggs
1 can of artichokes in brine, chopped into quarters (or, if your have time, 8 baby artichokes, trimmed and quartered)
1/2lb turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on bias just don't hurt yourself!  chopping carrots is dangerous business)
2 bunch scallions, white and green parts chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 bag frozen sugar snap peas
1/2lb asparagus, trimmed and sliced on bias into 1-inch pies
Freshly milled black pepper
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

  1. In a pot over high heat add artichokes, turnips, carrots, and scallions and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in garlic and flour and saute for 1 minute, stirring.  Add 2.5 cups water.  Raise heat to high, add salt, and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prep poaching liquid for eggs!  Place a medium saucepan with 2 quarts water and vinegar over high heat.  When water reaches boil, reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer.
  4. Add pea and asparagus to vegetable mixture.  Raise heat and simmer/stir for 3 minutes.  Season with pepper and salt, as desired.
  5. Poach your eggs!  Crack an egg into a small bowl and gently add it to poaching liquid. Immediately repeat with remaining eggs.  Cook until eggs are set, 2-3, then turn off heat and make grits
  6. Place large saucepan with 6 cups water over high heat and bring to boil.  Once boiling, add grits and salts and stir up the pot a bit.  Then reduce heat to low and stir occassionally until mixture thickens, about 7 minutes.
  7. Spoons grits into bowl, tops with vegetable and then poached egg.  Springle with chives and a twist of black pepper.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Series: Law School and Weight Gain, Part 1

I want to preface this by saying that I am in no way professionally qualified to give advice about nutrition.  I created this space in an effort maintain a weight that is healthy and makes me feel great.

Height - 5'1"

Current Weight - 108 lbs
Goal Weight - 104 lbs

I used to be about 15 lbs overweight.  I attribute this to the fact that I have a tendency to overeat.  If there is anything, I wish that when I was growing up, I was told when was enough food.  It seems simple, but I really needed that and never learned the skill until I wanted to lose weight.  I started to lose weight when I transferred colleges and was no longer living in a dorm, giving me more control with respect to my food choices.  

Over the course of about two years, I went from 120 to 105/104 (on the day of my wedding I was 100lbs, and obviously felt amazing!).  Unfortunately,  since starting law school, I gained about 4 pounds.  On a little person like me, that really makes a difference.  Not only do I notice a change in my appearance, but it feels rotten.  

This is a huge distraction because instead of thinking about criminal procedure, for example, I think about how I need to get rid of those 4lbs.  My time is limited while in law school, but I keep active by swing dancing, weight lifting, and cardio (admittedly, these activities vary in frequency, depending on the time of the semester).  At any rate, I know it possible for me to achieve this goal by being more mindful of my food intake because I gained the weight by stress eating, anyway.  There is unquestionably a certain amount of stress in law school.

So, this is all to say that I am trying to get a handle on stress eating/snacking and overeating so that I can feel better about myself and divert my negative thoughts about weight to working on law school.  This is not about going on some radical diet.  Rather, I want to figure how I can maintain a weight that I like, and having been on the weight loss track for so long, this is not territory with which I am familiar.  If anyone out there has any tips on losing or maintaining their goal weight, I would be very interested to hear them!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beginning Lindy-hop Series in June!

Todd and I are teaching a beginner lindy-hop series in June, and we're pumped!!

Lindy-hop is the original 1930s swing dance.  True to its Harlem roots, you can’t find lindy-hop classes in ballrooms today.  As a dance, lindy-hop emphasizes connecting with your partner, dancing to the music, and having a lot of fun.   While lindy-hop is a dance, it’s also a vibrant and welcoming community.

This series will cover everything you need to dance lindy-hop at the numerous monthly dances in Tucson.  In the first week, you’ll be listening to music and dancing from the moment class starts.  In the following weeks, we’ll build your basics with other lindy-hop fundamentals, including the swing-out and basic Charleston.  Overall, this class will emphasize swing dance basics, rhythm, and the lindy-hop spirit.

Absolutely no partner or experience necessary.  We strongly recommend wearing comfortable shoes, you may even break a sweat!

Brass Tacks
When - Sundays, June 5th - July 3rd; 7pm-8pm
Where - Arizona Ballet Theatre, 2512 E. 6th St. (across from Rincon Market)
Cost - $40/person for 5-week series

Email to sign up!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thai-Style Tofu and Vegetables in "Spicy" Coconut Broth with Jasmine Rice

Hello my pretties!  I'm in a grrreeeatttt mood today!

I went off coffee about two weeks ago because it was losing its effect, and I was having trouble sleeping.  After two weeks, the no-coffee headaches subsided, but my world was still feeling a little fuzzy.  So, I decided to get back on the coffee wagon!  Woooohooooo!  I could do somersaults I have so much energy right now!

Clearly, I'm addicted, but don't worry about me.  I only drink about a cup a day, and I'm going to try to stop over the summer when I'm not studying things like the dormant commerce clause, fee simple subject to condition subsequent, and my out of control bounded rationality.

A few quick notes about this dish.  First, it's not spicy.  And Todd likes that.  Me, I like to kick it up a knoch.  You might be surprised about the fact that it's not spicy, given how much chile you put in.  But don't worry, it's the right amount.  Also, I recommend not skipping the rice, otherwise the this will turn out pretty soupy.  Finally, I just threw in asparagus because we had it in the fridge, but it's completely optional.

Thai-Style Tofu and Vegetables in "Spicy" Coconut Broth with Jasmine Rice
Slightly adapted from Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley

  • 1 cup thinly sliced shallots, about 4 large
  • 2 serrano chiles, with seeds, thinly sliced
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 Napa cabbage, cut into 1/2-inch wide slices
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 cup sliced fresh shiitake mushroom
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1 pound firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2-4 tomatoes on the vine, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 bag frozen snow peas
  • 1 bunch asparagus, sliced into inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice, cooked
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges for serving
In a large saucepan over high heat, saute shallots for 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium, add chiles, ginger, garlic, turmeric, and saute for another minute.  Add the cabbage, carrot, and mushrooms, and saute for 2 minutes, until veggies soften.

Pour in the coconut milk and 1 cup water and bring mixture to a boil.  Add the tofu, soy sauce, and salt and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and snow peas and asparagus and simmer 3 more minutes.  Add the basic and simmer and for another minute.

Serve with jasmine rice + lime wedges.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spice-fried Tofu with Grits n' Greens (vegan)

Hey friends!  Have some vegan food!  

I've been itchin' to make Joy the Baker's Shrimp and Grits, but between the bacon and the shrimp and cheddar cheese, it seemed more decadent than we normally do around here for weeknights. So, I was pumped when I found I found this recipe.  I'm not going vegan or anything  (I mean, we have brats just about every other week and pizza's my fave food), but I like trying non-standard ingredients.

The one unusual ingredient here is nutritional yeast, which is a cheese substitute.  I've used it a couple times before and like it pretty well.  Just an FYI, you'll find it in the dried foods / bulk section and it kind of looks like flour.  There's really no limit to what you can do with it, use it just like cheese!  Just don't use too much, because then you'll remember you're not really eating cheese :(

Hope you like this!  We did!  
Spice-fried Tofu with Grits n' Greens
adapted from Food & Wine, serves 2

[Cajun-fried Tofu]
12 ounces extra firm tofu
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried minced onions
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 cup peanut oil

Cut tofu into strips and pat dry.  Combine all the spices in a plastic ziploc bag. Drop the dried tofu into the bag and shake vigorously, to coat the tofu. Let it sit for a few minutes while heating the oil in a frying pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side. Then ...

[Grits n' Greens]
2 2/3 cups water
2/3 cup quick-cooking grits
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 cup frozen chopped spinach

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then gradually add the grits and a big pinch of salt. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the grits are thick, about 7 minutes. Season with s&p, stir in the nutritional year and spinach. Top with fried tofu and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Vegetarian Cassoulet

 A lovely spring recipe that requires hardly any attention at all.  When I make this again, I'm going to have Todd slice the carrots, though.  Carrots and potatoes .... they're so unwieldy!  Todd really liked the way I did the bread, and he also liked the kick of the cloves.  This one will be making a reappearance yet!

Vegetarian Cassoulet
Adapted from Gourmet
for cassoulet
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
1 bunch celery, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 light shakes of gound cloves
3 (19-ounce) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups stock
for garlic crumbs
1 baguette, torn into chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Make cassoulet:
Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, then wash well and pat dry.
Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, then stock, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
Make garlic crumbs while cassoulet simmers:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated. Spread in a baking pan and toast in oven, stirring once halfway through, until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
Finish cassoulet:
Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with baguette pieces.