Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Macrobiotic, is it for me?

As I was perusing the Sunday paper, I saw the title of an article mentioning a macrobiotic diet. I then decided that was something I needed to try this week. Now, it was Steak Sunday so we could not start the macrobiotic diet yet. (It was also father's day and my husband, although not a father to a child, is a great dad to a kitty so we had to celebrate, with steak of course.) I did not have a clue exactly what a macrobiotic diet was but I assumed it was a vegetarian diet high in fiber and full of fruits and vegetables.
Monday came and....we had some leftover rib eye that I could not let go to waste so we had a steak salad. Not exactly the healthy vegetarian meal I had in mind but healthy enough. Tuesday, time to go macrobiotic. Now, I mentioned that I did not know what that was so I did some research and immediately saw several worrisome things, among them: everything I was eating for breakfast (including yogurt) was on the DO Not Eat list, each meal needed to include 'sea vegetables', and every recipe listed included unusual ingredients I had never heard of. It did not take me long to determine that the macrobiotic diet was not for me. That said, I did want to start a very healthy vegetarinish meal plan.
I stopped at Whole Foods, a store a frugal person would not generally shop at but they do have some really great things. Whole Foods also donates a lot of food to the food pantry that I volunteer at so I like to give them some business. The great deals one can find there are generally in the bulk section. The dried spices and herbs are a fabulous deal but I went to the dried beans area. I got some Adzuki beans and lentils. The lentils were on sale this week for $1.99 per pound.
I decided to combine the lentils with some spelt in a salad. Spelt is a whole grain that cooks up kind of chewy and flavorful. I cooked the spelt, the lentils, and sauteed some zucchini with some cumin. I added a lot of fresh oregano and the juice of two lemons. The salad turned out great with good texture and flavor. Here's the recipe.

Lentil and Spelt Salad

1 Cup Spelt, cooked according to directions
1 Cup French Green Lentils, cooked according to directions
1 Cup Oregano, chopped
2 Zucchinis, chopped
6 Green Onions, sliced thinly
2 Lemons, juiced
1 T Cumin
1 t Cayenne Pepper

Cook the spelt and the lentils according to the directions. Spelt should be soaked overnight and then simmered for about 1 hour until tender. Lentils cook pretty quickly. Bring them to a boil with water and then simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Saute the zucchini and sprinkle with cumin and salt until just cooked - about 7 minutes.
Add all of the ingredients together, toss and and salt and pepper to taste.

In place of the spelt you can substitute wheat berries, quinoa, or whole wheat couscous.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cold Cucumber Soup

Stanley's had some really great buys this week. Among them were pineapples for $.99 and cucumbers 10 for $1.00. I do not usually consume 10 cucumbers in a week but...I could not resist. So, I had to think of something to do with them and I thought I would make a cold cucumber soup which happens to be one of my husbands favorites. The really easy way to make this soup is to combine the cucs, some onions, some liquid like chicken stock, and an herb in the blender and blend them up with some yogurt. A much tastier way to do it that is a little more work is to cook some onions, add the cucumbers and then blend them. Here is the recipe.

Cold Cucumber Soup

6 cucumbers, leave skin on but take out seeds, coarsely diced
1 onion, diced
2 shallots, diced
2 Tablespoons butter
6 cups chicken stock (can use veggie stock)
2 Tablespoons fresh tarragon (can use dill but I love the tarragon flavor in this soup)
2 cups yogurt (yay, another yogurt plug!)

In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat and add onions and shallots. Saute for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add chicken stock, cucumbers, and fresh tarragon and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Allow soup to cool, blend using a hand blender or regular blender, and add yogurt. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until soup is cold and readjust seasonings.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I went to my first farmer's market yesterday, joy of joys! They do not have a whole lot of stuff yet but I did pick up some lovely rhubarb. Rhubarb is delicious in dessert like concoctions but I like to cook it as a savory side dish. It goes great with grilled or smoked meats and it just so happens that we were doing some smoking yesterday. We had smoked salmon, pork loin, and chicken. (I know that is a lot of meat but when we are going through the process of smoking meats, we make a lot of extras to eat for future meals.)
Rhubarb is very tart so even as a savory dish one must add a substantial amount of sugar. I cut it up, mixed it with some sugar, and baked it for about 30 minutes in a high oven. It really tasted great with the smoked pork.

Baked Rhubarb

5 stalks rhubarb, washed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400. Mixed rhubarb, salt, and sugar together in a over safe baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.