Easy Pickles

I bought cucumbers the other day specifically to make pickles!! Frankie’s mom brought us a huge tupperware full of pickles she made and ever since.. I have been craving more. So, I began!

Cucumbers, Leeks, Pearl Onions, White Vinegar, Water, Salt, Black Pepper, and Sugar
Cucumbers, Leeks, Pearl Onions, White Vinegar, Water, Salt, Black Pepper, and Sugar

I got a jar and all of the above ingredients and I began by cutting the ends off of the cucumbers and slicing them horizontally and stuffing them into the mason jar. I removed the skins off the onions and placed them in without ends into the jar. I chopped up a bit off the top of the leeks and put them into the jar as well.

Then, I poured 3 (and a half) tablespoons of white vinegar into the jar. I thought this was too little.. maybe because I am used to the overly acidic pickles from stores. However, I settled for the amount I used because I figured I wanted something not overpowering, but enjoyable.

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A little bit of sugar.. half a tablespoon of salt.. a few grinds of salt and that is ALL!!

I just poured water into the jar to cover everything and closed the jar; gave it a good shake or shakes and voila.

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I let it sit on the counter for 24 hours and just an hour ago I put it into the fridge. I think I will check the taste tomorrow. Because of my experience with sauerkraut and fermentation I am not sure that I am capable of pickling. Firstly because I left the cap on (I was following some recipe) the pickles and I feel like it needs some kind of air to get everything going. And yet maybe the little bit of vinegar that I did put in is enough to do whatever it is it needs to do. WHO KNOWS.

Sorry for the choppy, terrible writing. I am listening to a podcast with David Byrne and I can not focus because I have a huge crush on him.

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Chili and Chill

I went to visit my family and boyfriend last week and I just got back home yesterday. I can finally cook whatever I like whenever… however… with whatever (I buy..). I have a hard time eating in other people’s houses because as much as they try to feed me and give me great vegan snacks (like animal crackers, and these amazingly delicious blueberry almond r20150803_132206_HDRice pops) I still need substance and meals surprisingly…

However, my dear and loving and incredible boyfriend tends not to have any spices or… food for that matter and we had to go to the grocery store to get some potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and beans. (I still forgot the spices…. yikes).

I decided to make something simple.. that would be hearty and filling and satisfying. I love chili and I love potatoes. So chili was my decision!!  20150803_133224_HDR

I began by cutting up the onions (I got pearl onions because I think they are cute..) and I sauteed them in a pan over medium heat with some olive oil. At this point I would throw in some spices. My favorites to use in chili are cinnamon, chili powder, and coriander. I got a jalapeno instead to make up for the lack of spice and add a nice kick. So, I diced the jalapeno and threw it in to saute with the onions. As that was happening I chopped up the potatoes and started throwing them in. I did kind of burn my onions a bit, but in the end I will chock it up to being necessary for another level of flavor.

20150803_134004_HDRThe beans are next! I opened… drained.. and dumped half of each can of beans into the pot and stirred everything around a bit and then poured enough stock to cover everything. Stock is important for this dish because the flavors within the stock get absorbed into the potatoes and add incredibly to the dish.

Then, I put the lid onto the pot leaving a bit of space to let the steam escape. Lowering the flame I let it sit until the water was mostly evaporated at which point I mixed in chopped tomatoes and spinach. 20150803_141019_HDR

I love feeding this to my boyfriend because it is one of those dishes that doesn’t make you miss meat all too much and you feel like you have enough energy in your day to lift a horse. And set it down nice and gently and let it live it’s life as it chooses. Free.. without you… anyway. I love chili and this turned out pretty good given the lack of spices I had. The jalapeno was definitely necessary and it wasn’t at all overpowering. I would have even added more jalapeno!

Picnic Lunch!

The beginning!
The beginning!

I woke up early this morning and decided that I wanted to have a picnic. I told Frankie about this idea and she was so excited and suggested we take a bike ride to find a nice spot to have the picnic! I decided to make use of the hummus I made yesterday, so I made something like a potato, zucchini, spring mix, tofu, hummus dish!

I began by chopping up the potatoes into little pieces and put them all into a bowl and then into the microwave to get them nice and soft! I only put them in for a minute and 30 seconds. While they were in there I turned on the stove and poured a bit of olive oil into it. When the potatoes were ready I put them into the pan to get a nice crispy outside!  20150724_113435_HDR

20150724_113814_HDRI just recently learned about the microwave trick for potatoes and now I always use it. It is so time-consuming to fry potatoes until they are soft or to even boil them. Softening potatoes is about the only thing I use the microwave for!

Then, I chopped up some tofu to throw into the pan with the potatoes and I poured a bit of water i20150724_114037_HDRnto the pan to get the stuff stuck onto the bottom of the pan… unstuck! I didn’t want to add spices to anything because I knew I would be putting the hummus in.. so I figured I would just let the array of spices from the hummus take over. I did, though, grind some black pepper onto it.

Next, was the zucchini… which I love right now because it is possible to get it locally as it is zucchini season!!!! Such a versatile food. Hot.. cold.. mushed up.. sweet.. I 20150724_114127_HDRcan think of so many ways to eat zucchini.

I just mixed everything around, but I did not want the zucchini to get too soft so I threw in the greens on top and turned the stove off and still mixing everything together.

I always need a green color in my food. I remember I had a friend who would only eat yellow foods… It scared me so much that it made me so much more aware of the colors I ate. I would’ve added a tomato if I made this again. However, we did run into a small garden which had a sign telling us we could eat some.. I took a little cherry tomato. It was so sweet and pleasant.20150724_123313 20150724_123301

Anyway, then.. I put the hummus on top! And I noticed my sauerkraut looked extremely reddish pink and.. READY! I did have to add more salt to it because adding water made it taste kind of painful .. and troubling. But with the added salt it was exactly how I like it.

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VOILA!

I had a very pleasant day! We saw turkeys and pigs and goats! And I feel full and ready to continue my day :)

Basil, Chive, and Garlic Hummus

Basil, Olive Oil, Chickpeas, and Garlic cloves into the blender
Basil, Olive Oil, Chickpeas, and Garlic cloves into the blender

I have had a bowl of chickpeas sitting in my fridge for a few days and finally today I decided to put it to good use and make hummus. Though I am not a huge hummus fan I thought it would be fun to create one to my exact taste. Too bad my taste buds are all over the place because I began to put everything into it.

My little basil plant growing on the roof!
My little basil plant growing on the roof!

I started by putting all of the chickpeas into the blender and three peeled garlic cloves and a few leaves of basil. I planted a basil plant on my roof and its pretty tiny and endearing but has some nice big leaves that I gladly cut off. I drizzled a bit of EVOO, grinded some sea salt and black pepper, and poured half a cup of water and blended everything (or in blender-speak, I, quite noisily, liquefied it).

The result was far-less extraordinary than I imagined. Bland, tasteless… I started to worry… I started adding cayenne, paprika, cumin, and coriander. I, also, added a few sprigs of chives. Followed by more water.. I liquefied and hoped for the best…

The Hummus
I cut some more basil leaves and drizzled more olive oil on it.

After a bit more sea salt (a lot more sea salt) and some tahini… I think I have created something with many layers of taste… All of them with a hint of bland. However, just knowing that I tried makes me kind of appreciate and enjoy it.

I ate some with a piece of  bread and it wasn’t all that bad. Though I noticed that I didn’t quite liquefy the chives enough and the whole thing looks really unappetizing. But, I am a novice… and the whole thing cost a thousand and a half times less than getting some at the supermarket.. which I could never go through by myself anyway.

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

I love sauerkraut. Growing up in a Russian household we always have pickled and fermented foods. (Specifically from Siberia, where my mother is from, they would hardly have any option but to pickle and ferment in order to eat well in the winter).

The sauerkraut was always my favorite. My grandmother would drizzle it with sunflower oil and I would go at a whole container with just my appetite and a fork.

I only started making my own sauerkraut last year when I realized just how easy it is. I also had way too much cabbage than I could eat because I usually just use a leaf or two in a meal and that’s it. The first time around was great. It was ready in 3 days and all I had to do was push on the weight to get the juices out of the cabbage and into the fermentation process.

Little cloth hat! Shouldn't actually be on the table in the light. I just put it there for the sake of the photo ;)
Little cloth hat! Shouldn’t actually be on the table in the light. I just put it there for the sake of the photo ;)

However, a few days ago I decided to try red cabbage. And I guess it is a lot thicker and 2 days in and I hardly had an inch of liquid. I’ve decided since then to add some water and pray for the best.

I’m thinking I just had too much confidence about my sauerkraut that I forgot how long you have to knead the strips of cabbage. (Coleslaw consistency).

But, I can only wait and see. Red cabbage is definitely my favorite type. It’s taste is definitely more out-there than it’s cousin, or sister?? or close relative… the green cabbage.

But anyway, I am hoping to begin fermenting more things. Maybe next time I will add carrots and a bit of cranberries to my sauerkraut!

Rock Da Pasta

Colorful and fun! The smell of the garlic bread escapes and I'm thankful for it!
Colorful and fun! The smell of the garlic bread escapes and I’m thankful for it!

First post on Rock Da Pasta a small pasta eatery on main street in New Paltz, NY. Frankie and I chose this restaurant to stop at yesterday (7/20) because the smell of garlic bread sucked us in and we knew that they were accommodating to people with dietary restrictions (GF/dairy free).

As a person who often finds herself arguing that pasta can not be gourmet.. I find that this place likes to stab me in the face with a nice reminder that just because something is not at the highest echelon of status.. doesn’t mean that it can’t be absolutely delicious.

Walking in we were immediately between two red curtains. Though the curtains are more likely for the sake of customers not getting blown with a cold gust of wind during the winter, I felt that it added to the decor of the rest of the restaurant which featured many pictures of famous musicians and records as well as guitar stools (which are definitely my favorite) and a very rock-ing (kill me) feel.

A Long Island Rail Road ticket was slid under as well as little notes. Some even dating back a few years.
A Long Island Rail Road ticket was slid under as well as little notes– some even dating back a few years.

The waitress from across the room (granted the room was small) offered us a table and brought us menus. I (already knowing what I wanted because I get the same thing every time and it is too good to really ever pass up) was more interested in the little notes that previous guests had shoved under the glass on the table.

However, I must comment on the menu because reading it is definitely entertaining and part of the entire experience. Each menu item is named after a rock term or a musician. (I got the Pasta Vibration, Mon! and Frankie got Pesto Palooza).

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As soon as the waitress came to our table to take our order we winced because normally it is very frustrating for us to voice our concerns about our dietary restrictions. I don’t eat any meat or dairy products and Frankie does not meat any dairy or gluten products. So, we specified that and hoped for the best and the waitress did not even show a hint of annoyance with us and assured us that we will be taken care of.

There were two other tables with people and one table had a family and a little baby. The waitress loved interacting with the baby and that just made me appreciate the waitress more! Also, it was very cute to see the baby jamming out to some classic rock.

The first thing we got was a salad with house-made dressing called Sundrio dressing. It was sweet with a bit of spice and the bright orange reminded me of ginger dressing which I equally love. I do prefer other greens in salads, though I realize that this was just a side.

I accidentally ate half of the salad before taking the picture.
I accidentally ate half of the salad before taking the picture.

We did not wait long after the salad for our entrees. But, between the dishes we had more time to look around. Some DVDS sat at the far right corner of the bar as well as a sign saying “Still Voting for Zappa.” We watched as the chef cooked away and some bursts of flames would catch our attention every time we looked away.

The kitchen can be seen as well as the chef!
The kitchen can be seen as well as the chef!

I always feel like seeing the chef cook is a great way to interact with the food. Being able to watch even some of the process of making your dinner helps you appreciate it more.. and crave it EVEN more.

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Pesto Palooza and Pasta Vibrations, Mon!
Pesto Palooza and Pasta Vibrations, Mon!

The sweet pineapples helped my mouth heal from all of the spices and heat of my dish. I love the flavors interacting with each other. My huge piece of garlic bread was just as tasty as the rest and I made sure to finish it even tough I could not finish the pasta. Though Frankie had the chicken and I can’t comment on it (since I don’t eat chicken) I had some of the pasta and though it was gluten-free it wasn’t as thick as I expected. The balsamic reduction was the perfect mix with the avocado and her gluten free garlic bread tasted just as good as a regular piece and she even hoped to find a loaf of bread that good in the future.

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Of course, our dinner ends with trips to the bathroom!
Of course, our dinner ends with trips to the bathroom!

Call me and Frankie crazy, but we both agreed that the bathroom is still an integral part of the restaurant experience. It is important to have it to really sum up the experience. I would say the charm and coolness of it adds to the atmosphere that the rest of the restaurant has. So… in my book… it worked perfectly. Though the bathroom was extremely tiny (just like the restaurant) and my head was practically hitting the sink.

The baby did begin to get annoying as we continued our meal, but we didn’t expect much since we went at an awfully early hour (530) for dinner. The meal was a bit pricey for our … budget. ($45 dollars for 2). And the gluten-free options were 4 dollars extra which to me seems like a stretch, but I don’t really know too much about pricing for gluten-free (they always seem a bit too extreme).

I was full after about 5 bites of my pasta, but I had some to take home and now I get to eat it for lunch! How exciting for me! Stay tuned for more!!!!