Monday, May 30, 2011

Cookbook Project: Joy of Cooking - Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

I don't have a life list, but if I did, I would certainly be checking, "make something with rhubarb" off of it.  Because I have made a strawberry rhubarb pie.  It was amazingly good.  I was surprised, and extremely impressed with myself.
The gorgeous pie pan is from Pampered Chef, and it's so much deeper than our last. It's really nice.

1 lb of trimmed rhubarb, cut into one inch chunks (this will yield about 2.5 cups of rhubarb)
2 pints strawberries, trimmed, hulled, and sliced (this will yield about 2.5 cups of strawberries and 6-10 snacking strawberries)
1 1/2 cups sugar (the Joy recipe says to reduce sugar to 1 cup for a strawberry rhubarb pie, I accidentally did the full amount used for a plain rhubarb pie, but the strawberries I was working with were a little tart.)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
Milk or cream (about 1 tbsp)
2 teaspoons sugar
Two pie crusts.  I use the recipe also in Joy of Cooking.

1.) Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Mix together in a bowl with a spatula.  Let sit for 15 minutes - stir occasionally - mixture will be come very juicy and red.  Preheat oven to 425.
2.) Prepare pie crusts, then pour pie into pie crust.  Top with small pieces of butter, cut up and spread out over the top.
3.) Cover with pie crust - either pricked, vented, or lattice.  Mr. Barefoot wanted to do a lattice crust, so I let him go to town.
4.) Lightly brush the top of the pie crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
5.) Bake for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 25-30 minutes (until juices are thick and bubbling).  Cool completely on a rack.

I went to make this again today, but it seems that rhubarb season has passed :(.  Maybe it's still available where you are!  Otherwise, I'm trying a strawberry-blueberry pie with crumb topping and will report back.  It's basically the same recipe.

Friday, May 27, 2011

How much?

Mr. Barefoot and I have been having a lot of trouble getting enough vegetables and dealing with our meal plan for the past month.  I think this is because we have recently decided to eat more vegetables and also not throw things away. So in trying not to overbuy, we are underbuying and running out of food.  We also have a meal plan, but this month's didn't work out since we are trying to eat more seasonally, but the farmer's markets have only radishes and chard.
Our CSA is still two weeks away from starting, and I've realized that the biggest problem for us is that we have no idea how many vegetables to buy for ourselves, unless they are part of a recipe.  If you do the math, to get the recommended 3-5 servings a day of vegetables, we need to be buying 6 servings of vegetables per day for a week.  Which is 42 servings, total.
A serving, in case you were wondering, so something around-ish 1/2 cup of vegetables or one tennis ball sized vegetable (so a small head of brocolli).
Which means that what we should be buying, if we were only eating fresh vegetables, to feed two people reasonable vegetables for a week is something like:
1 lb green beans (should create 4 servings of vegetables)
2 zucchini (a word I still can't spell) - 4 servings
2 yellow squash - 4 servings
2 heads broccoli - 2 servings
4 peppers - 4 servings
1/2 lb snap peas - 2 servings
1 Eggplant - 4 servings
2 cucumbers - 4 servings
1 lb of spinach - 4 servings
1 lb salad greens - 4 servings
2 bunches radishes - 4 servings
1 lb peas - 4 servings

So, upon writing that list, uh, holy cr*p, 3-5 servings a day of vegetables is a LOT.  More importantly, our current produce yield looks something a lot more like:
1 bag salad - 2 servings
1 bag spinach - 2 servings
1 bunch asparagus - 2-4 servings
1 bunch radishes - 2 servings
1 eggplant - 2 servings (they are small right now)
2 peppers - 2 servings
1/2 lb green beans or snap peas.  - 2 servings

That is about 14 servings of vegetables, for two people, for a week.  It works out to about 1 vegetable a day.    So clearly we're not buying enough vegetables.  (This by the way, is a REALLY GOOD week for us.)  I'm not really sure what to do, short of buying a ton of stuff at the farmer's market on Sundays, then coming home and menu planning.  Which does sound exhausting, but might be worth it.  I feel better when I'm eating fresh vegetables, and right now, we have the time.  But then we run into the problem of - sometimes we go out to eat. Sometimes vegetables go bad.  How do we keep the vegetables from going bad and make sure we eat them fast enough?  I think strict menu planning and using all my vegetable cookbooks is going to be the answer.  Also making sure things like cucumbers are already washed and ready to eat will help me reach for them for snacks.

Anyone have any tips for how much vegetables the Barefoots should be buying? I feel like I should be walking out of the grocery store with at least one reusable bag filled with just produce.  I also didn't include onions on this list because I don't know if they are a vegetable.  Thoughts?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Iced Chai Tea

I've recently discovered iced tea.  I'm still trying to perfect a black tea with mint recipe (and the mint needs to sprout before that can happen), but I've been making iced chai tea the past couple of days and I think I have it down.  I only use Stash Chai tea, it's amazing.

1 bag Stash Chai tea
2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 tbsp honey


  1. Pour boiling water over tea bag in a pyrex measuring cup.
  2. Add honey and stir. 
  3. Refrigerate, with spoon still in it.  
  4. After 3-4 hours, drink and enjoy!
I realize this isn't really a recipe.  But I know some people are afraid to try iced tea, because they don't like tea.  But iced chai is so good!  If you like chai lattes, but think they are too high in sugar, and are also trying to cut chemicals from your life (if my Stash is full of chemicals, I don't wanna know, it's the best tea on the planet) by not using sweetener, this is a great "recipe".  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cookbook Project: Ok, so now you're a vegetarian

Okay, So Now You're A Vegetarian 
Spiced vegetable dal p 166

This was my first vegetarian cookbook, and it's often a gift for newbie vegetarians. Since I only owned two cookbooks when I met my husband, and he wanted to try cooking meals with me, we made several out of this book. it's an excellent first cookbook, with clear, complete easy to read instructions.

I don't have a picture of the finished Dal, but I'm a big fan of getting all my ingredients together before cooking.  It helps avoid frantic moments of "OMG THE GINGER NEEDS TO BE CHOPPED AND SO DO THE TOMATOES!!!! AND EVERYTHING IS BURNING."

So the recipe:

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp peeled, minced, fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of ground tumeric
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 14.5 oz cans vegetable broth (I used 4 cups of water and bullion)
  • 3 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (skipped this - I'm too cheap to buy spices)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups hot cooked white rice (I used brown and it was just as good.)  
  1. Rinse the lentils and pick through them.  
  2. Heat butter and oil in a heavy pot on medium heat; add ginger, garlic, onion, and saute for 10 minutes.  Add cumin, cloves, and tumeric; cook for another 2 minutes.  
  3. Stir in the lentils and the broth, bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  
  4. Add the tomatoes and parsley. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until lentils are soft.  (I actually simmered for longer, since the rice cooker was taking awhile.)
  5. Place 1 cup rice on each place, spoon the dal over the rice and serve.  
Yum!  I will definitely be making this again when we get tomatoes from our CSA.  It takes a little while, but it's largely unattended.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What food looks like

I remember being surprised, when we first started shopping at the farmer's market, at how crooked my sweet potatoes were.  They were so hard to peel!  They had dirt stuck under everything!  These weren't the vegetables I was used to, the straight, clean, easy to peel sweet potatoes my father used to hand me before dinner to deal with.  

Now, when I go to the farmers market, I expect my potatoes to look like they just came out of the ground, I expect the mushrooms I buy to have dirt on the end.  I expect my vegetables to be crooked.  I was really surprised last week though, when we went to buy carrots, and I was confronted with Giant Carrots.  They were at least three inches in diameter.  I mean, they were enormous.  I'm used to organic, farmers market produce being smaller and less shiny, like my strawberries.  I'm not used to organic produce being massive.  

The first time I saw Brussels sprouts on a stalk, I was confused.  (I was also 23, so there's that.)  You mean Brussels sprouts don't just come in a plastic bag from the grocery store?  I'm still not entirely sure what peas come in, although I hear a pod, because I'm convinced they come in a white package in the freezer section.  (I'm hoping there is a recipe in one of my cookbooks that uses fresh peas, and then I can figure this out.)  

I think it is a good thing, to constantly challenge our perceptions of what food looks like, what food should look like, and to recognize that aesthetics aren't everything and vegetables taste the same, regardless of shape.  (Size is a different matter.)  It's also important to know where our food comes from, not in a cage-free, hormone-free, go to the butchers and watch them kill a cow kind of way (although, go to town, if you're up for it); but in the most basic way.  What kind of plant the food you are eating is part of.  Is it a tree or a bush or a root?  Does it grow on a stalk?  Are there flowers involved?  

What has been your most surprising, "Huh. So I guess that's how that vegetable grows" moment?  

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Honey Wheat Quick Bread

This recipe is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and it's amazing.  Do you own it yet?  You should.  It's excellent.  This recipe is from 689, and will be the last recipe I post from this book.  Because you should own it.  And yes, I also own the Joy of Cooking and The New Best Recipe Cookbook and I thought owning a third encyclopedia book would be overkill, but this one is different and it's amazing.
Oil or butter for greasing the pan
1 2/3 cups buttermilk/yogurt (or 1 1/2 cups milk plus 2 tablespoons white vinegar)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup molasses (I used honey for a lighter flavor)

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 and grease a loaf pan.
2.  Sour the milk - and this tip is why you MUST buy this book.  It's genius.  Heat the milk in the microwave for 45 seconds or so, and then pour in the vinegar.  Let it settle.  It sours so much better than when you just pour in the vinegar.  Let it sit while you assemble the dry ingredients.
3.  Mix together the dry ingredients and add molasses (or honey) to the sour milk.  Combine ingredients until just moistened.
4.  Pour mixture into loaf pan.  Put it in the oven.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Verdict: This bread is delicious.  It's a whole wheat bread that doesn't taste too wheat-y, and the honey gives it a great flavor.  I bought a 2lb jar of Wildflower Honey at the farmer's market this morning and it's amazing.  We've been going through honey so fast that we're hoping the 2lb jar lasts us awhile.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Detoxing: The Three Rs

What is the point of detoxing?  I do it for a number of reasons, all of which are uniquely suited to my particular detox "plan".  Which I made up when I lived in Michigan after returning from a week at the beach with too much alcohol and salty foods (I gained 7lbs in a week and lost it almost instantly after not touching salt for three days.)  I'm not a scientist and I'm not a doctor and I have no idea if this plan is actually good for you or not.  So please don't read this as a diet.  It's simply my reasons and rules for occasionally choosing to reduce my intake of processed foods, and I don't do it for more than a few days.  So here are The Reasons:

  • If I've been eating out too much, eating too many salty foods, or consuming too much alcohol or sodas, it's a good way to let my body get back to normal and reduce the bloat.  
  • It's a good way to remind myself that it is possible to eat good foods that don't have a lot of sugar or saturated fats in them. 
  • It gives me a chance to check in on what I'm eating; what I think I can't live without in my diet; how much sugar or saturated fat I'm consuming.  
  • It lets me take a step back and focus on what I'm eating, instead of mindlessly munching.  I agree that diets shouldn't be about restriction, but not being on a diet often leads to my finding snacks in easy places.  
  • It encourages me to think about food.  I haven't become obsessed with labels yet, but I want to eat fewer processed foods.  Detoxing reminds me that it's not necessary.  
  • I eat less.  I reinforce portion sizes.  I reinforce healthy protein-fat-carb ratios. 
  • I force myself to eat whole grains.  Usually, I'm really lazy about this.  Detoxing is a good way to remind me that eating whole grains is easy and delicious.  
So what are The Rules?  (These are my rules.  They are not one-size fits all and please, if you are already not particularly healthy, don't try this without talking to a doctor about making drastic changes to your diet.)
  • Eliminate foods that are highly processed.  Nothing that comes from a box with a packet of powdered cheese.  Nothing from a can.  Nothing that is frozen with some kind of sauce.  Nothing from a jar.  Nothing you don't know the process.  
  • Eliminate foods that are high in salt.  Nothing should have added salt.  I do add a sprinkling of kosher salt to certain dishes, but only after tasting it and assessing whether it really needs salt.  
  • No white flour or white sugar.  This eliminates a lot, but it's also a pretty easy rule to follow.  
  • Eat mostly plants.  If it isn't currently a plant, how long ago was it a plant?  What happened to it to make it not a plant?  
  • Eat foods with very few ingredients.  A lot of people follow the less-than-five rule from the Omnivore's Dilemma, I just try for ingredients I can read.
  • Eating animals - I eat fish, skim milk and fat free greek yogurt as part of this.  I'm detoxing, not tormenting myself unnecessarily, and without eating grains, I need foods that carry a LOT of protein.  I don't eat cheese though.  Cheese is very high in sodium and deliciousness, and it's one of the reasons I'm detoxing.  
  • No chemicals.  For the Splenda junkie, this ones a tough one.  
  • Go easy - when I went running on Day 2 the last time I did this, I nearly passed out.  
  • Cheat.  Do not torment yourself.  I needed veggie broth for my soup tonight and I added one of those no-sodium bullion cubes.  I didn't even check the ingredients, but I was not going to make my own stock.  Sometimes a little cheating is necessary.  I also had dried cranberries in my oatmeal and dried dates in my salad, both of which are really high in sugar.  
  • Kick your spouse out.  Mr. Barefoot is out of town right now, which means I get the run of the house and total control of the kitchen.  It also means I can dedicate my evenings to cooking, if I want.  
And finally, the Recipes.  There's not much to them.  

Oatmeal (in the rice cooker)
Combine 1 cup oatmeal, 3/4 cup water, and 1 cup milk.  Add cranberries and maple syrup, or, if you are hardcore, eat as is.  

Greek Yogurt 
Combine 1 cup of Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or other fruit.  Or eat on it's own, if you are hardcore.   

Broccoli Bean Soup

Broiled Tilapia 
Eaten with brown rice and asparagus.

Baked Asparagus-
Heat oven to 350 with pizza stone in the oven.  Toss 4-5 pieces of asparagus that are approximately the same size with lemon juice.  Put on warm stone, cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender.  

Toss salad with dried fruit, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  

The Length - 
Usually I hardcore detox for 1-2 days, then slowly re-introduce gluten and other foods back into my diet starting at the end of Day 3.  I wound up waking up Wednesday morning (Day 3) with a headache and generally not feeling well, and so I went ahead and had some Kashi GoLean Crunch with milk.  Things like Kashi are a gray area, since they are processed and contain sugar and chemicals, but they are whole grains.  By the end of Day 3, I wasn't craving sugar as much and wasn't hating myself for forcing myself through this, so I think that's a good sign.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cookbook Project: 350 Big Taste Recipes for the 1 1/2 Quart Mini Slow Cooker

There are almost no cookbooks out there for the mini crockpot, and I got tired of scaling the 4-6 crock recipes back, so I asked for this book for Christmas.

It's a terrible cookbook.  All the recipes in it are made for people who do not know how to cook, and are missing their tastebuds.  It's also poorly written.  For example, the recipe I made from it includes garlic on the ingredient list but does not say when to put it in.  A lot of the recipes are high in sodium, since they involve canned ingredients, but supposedly this book has an "emphasis on healthy cooking."

But last week we had extra shrimp, so I made this recipe.  We got rid of our 1.5 qt slow cooker when we got a rice cooker, and since this was a rice recipe, I used the rice cooker settings.

1 lb medium shrimp
1 1/2, cups instant long grain rice (I used parboiled)
1 1/2 cups hot tap water
1 small onion, diced (1/2 cup)
1 can tiny spring peas (I used frozen peas)
1 tsp garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Oil the crockpot; add rice and onion.  I also added the garlic at this time.  Let cook for 2 hours (or cook on rice cooker setting.)

Fluff the rice, add the shrimp and cook for 45 minutes; add the peas and cook for 15 minutes more.  (I added the shrimp and the heat from the rice cooked them almost instantly, so I added the peas at that time.)

If you do make this, add some hoisin and soy sauce.  Once we did that, it came out pretty tasty.  I do feel like I cheated more than usual on this one by using the rice cooker, but there is nothing about this dish that being cooked more would have improved.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Every once in awhile I like to take a step back and remind myself that life without processed food is possible.  Especially processed sugar or sweetener.

After way too much easter candy, I needed to get a grip. So I'm detoxing, which involves eating clean, real foods that look like food. I cheat a bit, but my rules work for me. If anyone is interested, I will share my recipes and "detox" plan. (Eat plants and  whole grains. Don't eat peepsters.)

So here I am at work, drinking tea without splenda and have a banana to snack on. My earlier client brought me chocolate. Jerk.

So please, comment to share your favorite real food or whole foods recipes. Also favorite unprocessed snacks. I am a big snacker.

Cookbook Project: Secrets of Fat Free Baking

My mom, the one who is afraid of butter, bought some fat-free baking cookbooks awhile ago.  I don't know why, because Mama Barefoot Does Not Cook.  She occasionally bakes stuff, but that's usually slice-and-bake cookies.  So that she constantly buys cookbooks is really odd.  Fortunately, she has a daughter who likes to cook and "help clean out" the cookbook cabinet.  So I took this one in college, when we all still thought saturated fat was the Enemy.  Since it's not, I actually added butter to the recipe I used - partly because I didn't have the prune puree that the book recommends using, and partly because I don't think saturated fat is the enemy.  Since I made that substituton, I had to make another as well - the recipe was lacking in moisture, so I wound up dumping in a good chunk of apple butter as well.  I also threw in some white chocolate chips, and I will tell you, these cookies were amazing.

Cranberry Spice Cookies (p. 170 - Secrets of Fat Free Baking)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (just used whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unbleached flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 plus 2 tbsp prune puree (or 1 stick of butter, plus apple butter until dough is workable)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I also added in about 1/4 cup white chocolate chips)
1 cup oat flakes or other ready-to-eat cereal flakes (I used oatmeal)

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Combine flours, sugar, baking soda, and spices, and stir to mix.  Add prune puree or butter, honey, and vanilla extract, and stir to mix well.  Stir in the cranberries or raisins and oatmeal.

2.  Grease a baking sheet, drop cookies onto the sheet.  Flatten them with a spoon (I didn't do this - it's advisable - these cookies do not spread.)

3. Bake for about 9 minutes (longer, if you didn't flatten your cookies.)  Transfer to racks and allow to cool.

Prune Puree (if you want to try it)
3 oz pitted prunes (1/2 cup)
1 cup water or fruit juice
2 tsp lecithin granules (or why I didn't make this recipe)

Put all ingredients in a food processor, blend until smooth.  Can refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Verdict:  I really liked these, and husband's office approved as well.  They tasted a bit of apple butter, but not really, and the cranberry/white chocolate chip combination made them really good.  They have a little more refined sugar than I would like, but often when we swap out one ingredient, like fat, we add a lot of sugar to make up for it.  I will be making them again this week for book club and trying to use a bit less sugar, since they get some from the white chocolate chips.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Those elitist Barefoots

I read through this article about food and elitism, and I started wondering if I'm a food elitist.  I mean, can somebody who makes macaroni and cheese on a regular basis really be a food elitist?  I mean, okay, sometimes it's not Kraft, but nonetheless.  I am a woman of simple tastes, and if I could do it without gaining weight, I would live pretty much entirely on grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese.  Oh, and pizza.  Which I buy frozen from Costco, most of the time.  With a side of brocolli, because I have a degree in public health and parents who raised me to not get scurvy.

But I don't like champagne, or truffles.  I don't have an appreciation for really fine foods with fancy-sounding ingredients.  I like good, simple food.  I don't like having to ask, "what is xyz?" when I'm at a restaurant.  I like wine that tastes like juice, and much to Mr. Barefoot's constant annoyance, I can't kick my soda habit.

Mr. Barefoot and I try to shop locally, we buy organic when we can, and to make that financially possible, we also choose to buy in bulk (a savings which in some ways is countered by our high rent for our apartment that is large enough to keep bulk items in - room for a 25lb bag of flour is hard to find, but that bag cost the same as the 5lb bag of King Arthur.)  We have a shelf in our pantry dedicated to a rag-tag team of containers filled with cous-cous, four kinds of rice, barley, cornmeal, and anything else that comes in those iffy-looking containers.  We recently switched to dried beans, because we eat a lot of beans and the price of dried organic beans is vastly cheaper than canned conventional beans.  Dried beans hardly seem elitist to me, especially when we are buying them to save money.

I mean, maybe going to the Farmer's Market often enough to take engagement pictures there makes us elitist:

I do think we do a lot of things that make us elitist.  We both own Kindles, and we read a lot of books.  We go to movies, then put our noses in the air and say the book was better.  We travel, often to places that require passports, and when we do, we go to museums or we go scuba diving.  In our house, computers outnumber people, we recently bought smartphones, and we both have post-graduate degrees.  

So yeah, we're elitist.  But not when it comes to food.