Monday, September 27, 2010

Fried Artichoke and Mushroom Panini with Garlic Caper Mayo (Bill Clinton:Vegan. . . Are pigs flying?)

We had "panini night" three nights in a row last week. Not the SAME panini every night--I at least changed it up a bit. This one smothered in artichokes was the fave. I added some roasted red pepper, fresh spinach leaves and vegan cheese, with a few thinly sliced red onions, swiped on both sides with this amazing garlic caper mayo, then put them on the stove top grill with my 10" cast iron skillet on top to press--to get the grill marks you see (no, I do not own a panini press--you don't need one to make a panini, okay?!).

Unfortunately, I've reached somewhat of a burnout on all things "kitchen". I'm not saying I don't love cooking still, but you have to realize, we do not eat out. . . like EVER. (Near death experience with food borne illness, vegan, picky, hate crowds, not real fond of people touching my food. . . I could go on.) So this leaves 365 days of meal planning a year for me. I could accumulate every single cookbook ever written--all I'd do is stare blankly at them in a haze when this ailment strikes. I could have the best kitchen, all the latest gadgets and geeked-out foodie appliances, but when the, I'm so sick of cooking I could (you fill in the blank) arrives, there is a hopelessness that accompanies my withdrawl. I am in a despair over it, I really am.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pumpkin Ginger-Spiced Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting (And. . . Water Aerobics for The Pale)

I'd like to be the official spokeswoman for pumpkin. Forget the milk ads with mustache-laden celebs, let's start a campaign for pumpkin people! Any time I whip up a pumpkin creation--like these cupcakes, I find they have a very short stay in my kitchen. Remember last fall there was somewhat of a pumpkin shortage. I mean, can you imagine fall without pumpkins? Oh the horror! I've been buying up cans of pumpkin like, well, like a person with a pumpkin hoarding problem. But I will be using every single bit of it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ginger Miso Soba Noodle Soup (Great paired with Jonathan Franzen's new novel "Freedom".)

Taking measures to cure yourself with soup is nothing new. I remember the cans and cans of Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup I would be forced to sip from as I lay sick in bed being tended to by my mother. That was about the extent of her capability to "help" her sick kid. (This is the same mother who left me writhing in pain when I told her I think I broke my arm and said, Here, take two aspirin, I'm sure you'll be fine--I can't worry about this now, I have a meeting to go to!. . . two hours later after her "meeting" was over, finally capitulated, taking me in for x-rays only to discover that my arm was indeed broken--a clean split--suddenly felt like the Mother-of-The-Year award would not be graced upon her lovely soul.) Mom, if you are up there, I finally think I can forgive you for that. But only maybe.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pear Chutney with Black Lentils (Vegan Indian Cooking for The Uninitiated)

"Indian Food Night" required an international food store visit, every single kitchen appliance I owned and an entire day and one backache to complete. . . but we loved it nonetheless. How can a country so entirely filled with amazing cooks expect an American (Midwestern and vegan, no less) to fully embrace and challenge herself with the necessary prowess to cook luscious Indian meals with flavor AND texture (because for us, the texture is always a challenge) and do it more than say, once or twice every month. . . maybe? No matter how easy the cooking channels make it seem or how breezy it looks to make naan or dahls or whatever Indian--the truth of the matter is, I now more fully appreciate the 30-Minute meals made famous by one food network star! (Where's the 30-minute cookbook for Indian cooking?)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Simple Shortbread Cookie (A Visit to The Farm: Reconnecting and Remembering)

I have a deep fondness for shortbread cookies. This may have something to do with the fact that there were not many homemade cookies in our house growing up. (Except for my grandmother's cookies at Christmas. Once in a great while my mom would churn out a batch of her Mexican Wedding Cakes and since these happened to be very much in the shortbread genre, I think my shortbread fondness grew from here.) I also remember shortbread "packaged" types making an appearance now and then. When they were around, a lot of cookie cravings were solved digging into the stale packages of grocery brand cookies left on top of the fridge--barely sealed. Somehow this made them better--stale shortbreads. Go figure.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (I LOVE this bread cookbook. . . love it!)

When I smell bread baking I am happy. If I could tuck the aroma of baked bread into my purse and carry it around with me wherever I go, I would. It would calm my nerves in long lines, traffic and in uncomfortable "large crowd" events. The funny thing is, I don't have a single memory of my mother baking bread. We had Wonder Bread and powdered donuts (by the plastic sleeve) in our house growing up. It's a miracle that I have not turned into a giant walking billboard for diabetes or heart disease given our food options. I think the baking I do today and all of its many iterations means much more to me because I have had to teach myself everything I know about the craft. Bread baking especially. To a novice bread baking person like myself--just the idea of having a critical component as "yeast" involved left me intimidated and in the dark for years. And I have absolutely no science savvy (that would be Mr. Thyme's expertise as he is a trained scientist)--I am trained in words and stories.

Not all of my bread baking moments have been happy. Even after slogging through the Peter Reinhart book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, I still had many "yeasty" concerns. Don't get me wrong, I love his cookbook, but come on--I am not much of a planner as far as my "bread" cravings go--so his two day fermentation (albeit quite good for the palate) left me less inclined to open his cookbook--I really hate to admit this because I know there are bread aficinados out there who may banish me from the bread world for stating this.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hiking the Tallest Mountain in Missouri: Tom Sauk Mountain (Fear of Heights. . . Now?! At Almost Fifty?!)

We could not have asked for a better weekend here in St. Louis. We are all just delirious with joy. We finally cought a break. Temps this weekend were in the seventies and then low eighties. I don't think a photo can really capture what it was like. But I'll try. Here's the happy hikers. Mr. Thyme and I decided to head out and enjoy the almost-too-good-to-be-true seventy degree holiday weekend weather. Well, let me be honest, "I" begged: Please, please can we go for a hike? I had the backpacks, fanny packs and all reserved food stores made and ready to go--how could he deny me my day? As any loving husband would, he promptly helped load the car and we were headed out.
I ordered this wonderful little hiking companion book: 60 Hikes within 60 Miles--the St. Louis edition. Hard to believe the middle of the country could provide such an array of hiking options. I am constantly amazed by the topography of our state. Amazed even more when I find myself exploring some of it first hand.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Vegan Bran Muffins (Picnic Packers. . . And Breakfast, Too!)

Vegan Thyme: Vegan Bran Muffins (Picnic Packers. . . And Breakfast, Too!)
Fresh from the oven--waiting for their Earth Balance moment!
Next day. . . early morning! Still yummy!

I had been craving old time favorite bran muffins from so long ago, they hadn't yet passed their vegan test (i.e., re-baked, minus eggs, minus dairy. . . the usual stuff). I am proud to announce this vegan muffin is now officially welcomed back! What made this muffin so special is that I first had it when I used to run with two gentlemen in the wee hours of the morning several years back (in my Almost Forty, Corporate Gig phase). I was the only girl joining these two (quite older dudes)--meeting three times a week at 5:30 a.m. at the city YMCA. We'd occasionally have a "treat day" whereby everyone from our Morning Cult would show up, nourishment in hand to be shared with all. I usually brought my pumpkin bread (which is to die for and which I will eventually get around to sharing). Uh, and in case you were wondering, No, I do NOT get up and run at 5:30 EVER now. If I'm awake at six or earlier--it's a hormone issue, not because I want to be up.


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