Saturday, March 23, 2013

Leaving winter.

  • I love waking up to the rain. The sound of rain falling and gathering into puddles just makes me want to move at a slower pace. It makes me want to stay in bed longer and just listen. Then to get up and not
    do. Instead to just simply be. I love mornings where I can justify doing nothing. I’ll lay in bed thinking and listening. When I get up, I’ll drink cold water to quench my thirst, while making (really good) coffee or hot tea. Then I’ll just sit in silence and drink my hot beverage of choice while it warms my hands and my insides.

Rain makes me think of spring. And BOY do I hope we’re moving that direction. I usually fear the warm weather and have a death grip on the remains of winter, long into spring. But this year is different. I have been aching for the sun on my face. For shorts and tanks, for more casual wear (for some reason the summer is more casual for me?), and for lighter food. Don’t get wrong, I do LOVE winter stews, meat, and everything warm. But things have changed for me around here. I find myself longing for salads, smoothies, strawberries and airy cakes. I am tired of wearing jackets and goosebumps!! I’m ready for sundresses and flats. Shorts and Chacos. Running shorts and tanks.

I’m. Just. Ready.

However, before we jump into all things light and airy here, I want to share this fabulous winter / spring soup with you. Since there is still a chill in the air, this soup will warm you up but not weigh you down. It’s light but filling and warm but not heavy. It’s the perfect vegetarian soup. (To me!). I have loved making this soup every year for the past three. I originally found it on one of the first food blogs I started reading (BGSK). I have changed a few things over the years and have found several different methods, toppings, additions etc. They all work and regardless of the direction you take, this soup is fantastic. It’s good for you (check the ingredient list!) and is the perfect balance of all the things your body needs for leaving winter and heading into spring.


Roasted Carrot & Fennel Soup
Slight adapted from BGSK
Serves 4-6

1 Large Organic Fennel Bulb** (reserve the fronds!)
1 Lb Organic Carrots**
1 Large Organic Spanish Onion** (any other mild onion will suffice)
Glug of Rosemary Olive Oil*
Sprinkle of Kosher Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
½  Cup+ White Wine
1 Quart Vegetable Stock**
½ Cup White Beans (already cooked)

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees (or 400 depending on your oven).
2) Chop fennel, carrots and onion into same size chunks. Spread them on a roasting sheet and
   drizzle with rosemary olive oil, salt and pepper.
3) Roast vegetables until just done. My oven only takes 15-25 min depending on size.
4) Place vegetables, beans and most of the stock into large quart pot and using an immersion
   blender, puree into a smooth consistency.
5) Add the rest of the stock and bring pureed soup to a boil.
6) Add in wine (altering amount if needed to achieve desired consistency).
7) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
8) Chop fennel fronds for garnish.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with fronds and serve with warm crusty bread. I personally prefer to drizzle chunks of bread with rosemary olive oil and broil them. Sprinkle them with salt and dip in the soup! Num. Num.

*Rosemary Olive Oil: Simply place a few sprigs of rosemary into a jar with olive oil and let sit. I
 use right away but keep the sprigs in the jar and the flavor intensifies.

**You can use store bought vegetable stock or just make your own with the peelings of the
   vegetables you use here. While the vegetables are roasting, make your stock by boiling the
   ends and peelings in water for about 15 minutes.  

I’ve listed a few options below:

Top with fennel fronds, sesame sticks and/or feta.
Top with fennel fronds and fresh herbs and/or celery leaves.
Use potato or cream instead of white beans as the thickener.
Roast vegetables with Herbs de Provence or any other dried herbs.
Throw in celery, garlic or any other mild vegetables.
Eat hot or cold!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Family Birthdays

Sooo... it's been a while. I've been in a rut. No creative juices were flowing here! So, I didn't write. But then, I got a few comments here and there (What? I got COMMENTS???) about how it had been a while. And how, since I was now one of "those bloggers" I had better keep up! YEAY! It reminded me that I am one of those bloggers now and I get to keep up!

But I'm gonna ease in slowly. I've got a couple posts racked up in my brain but for this one it's gonna be plain and simple; What I did this weekend. You see, my family celebrated our early birthdays. We like to get together a few times a year just to celebrate the surrounding birthdays. So, this weekend we were celebrating the early in the year ones. We have quite a few actually - and it just so happens that mine had to be one of those! Infact, mine was last week. I turned 25. TWENTY FIVE, PEOPLE. (?!?) I consider this one of those young birthdays that is a big deal. I'm not into the "I'm 29 forever" attitude and am choosing to embrace aging. But let's face it, I'm only at 25 so I've got a while to go before I start fretting.

Right? Yeah. (I'm gonna answer for you).

So, anyway. The food this weekend. It was delish (as always). My mom made two cakes! One lactose free and one normal. But funny enough, which one did everyone love??? The lactose free one. YEAH BABY. And it was healthy. Whole grains, no refined sugar and Ghee. num num.

For lunch we had a smorgous (how in the??) board of food. We like to all contribute something and make it potluck. It's more fun that way (and way easier!!). I brought veggies. I happen to love vegetables and am trying to eat and share them however I can.

So I just got a variety of vegetables and made a couple dips. Olive Yogurt Dip and Artichoke & Olive Hummus. (We're big into olives).

I don't actually have any pictures of the dip, but to be honest they weren't the most gorgeous things I've laid eyes on, so that might be ok. But they taste good!! But even as good as these dips were, the vegetables were the main event.

                  (Yes I realize these aren't vegetables. But they were so cute! And tasty.)

The most exciting (for me) vegetable was the Watermelon Radish. I have never had or seen one before and when I saw it in the market I had to try it. (Well, duh.) It looked like a parsnip and beet combined into one. But when I cut into it...SURPRISE! ....Hence the watermelon.

Anyway, these are really great. They are sweeter than the normal radish but still have a spicy kick to them. I think they're best raw and crisp. They go by other names such as "Roseheart Radish" and "Red Meat Radish".  Apparently this radish is an heirloom Chinese Daikon (love daikon radishes!!). 

But what's fascinating to me, is that it's a natural organic pesticide! The radish contains isothiocyanate which is a chemical compound that acts as a pesticide...but it's natural! Radishes are often used as a natural pesticide since pests steer clear of their spicy flavor. (I'd still buy these organic though. They're not invincible!) 

I've always loved the spicy flavor of the radish and am loving the sweet & spicy combo here. You need to go search these bad boys out and give them a try! I highly recommend them. : ) 

Olive Yogurt Dip
To taste and to amount. 

2% or Whole Greek Yogurt (really any works fine!)
Mixture of kalamata olives & green olives (and black if you like). 
Any herbs you have on hand 
Pinch of salt
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper

  • Roughly chop olives so you get good texture
  • Finely chop herbs
  • Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix. Add more to taste. 

Olive and Artichoke Hummus
Serves 6

1 can chickpeas (very well drained) 
Good handful artichokes, olives and roasted garlic
1 tablespoon Tahini
Squeeze of lemon 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
Rosemary (or regular) olive oil 

  • Cook chickpeas according to the can. I like to detach the outer layer like this.
  • Place all ingredients except olive oil into food processor and blend.
  • Stream in olive oil until desired consistency.

*These are both super easy dips that really are to taste (just add and mix until you like the taste). I've done a regular hummus recipe with instructions here if you'd prefer more detail.

Now go get some in season veggies and enjoy this spring weather!! yessssss. : )