Friday, February 13, 2009


Out of curiosity last night I procured some Kava Kava root from the Wedge Natural Foods co-op here in my neighborhood in Minneapolis. I had been reading about Kava lately and wanted to try it out; as a potter I am always interested in trying any kind of beverage, especially traditional ones. Kava is a plant related to black pepper from Polynesia that's root is used to make a yellow muddy drink with reportedly relaxing effects. It is traditionaly drank at night as a social drink. It has been used there for thousands of years as a medicinal herb and ceremonial beverage.

Here's how to prepare it. I bought about 1/10 of a pound of Kava root. Ground it in my coffee grinder into a fine powder. In the blender with 2 cups of filtered water I added the approximate 4 Tablespoons of Kava powder to 16 oz (2 cups) of water. I blended this concoction for about 3 minutes.
I poured this mixture into a big mixing bowl lined with cheese cloth and squeezed the liquid through the cheesecloth into the bowl. discard the pulp, transfer the liquid into a glass. I chilled the mixture in the fridge for half an hour. Let me tell you. It tasted really earthy and pretty bad to be honest.

It made my mouth numb, like Novocaine. After half an hour I felt a little relaxed, not sure if it was the Kava or if I was just tired... after another half hour I was in bed. I had some pretty vivid dreams and woke up feeling pretty relaxed. Not sure if any of this actually had to do with the Kava... but I think I'll try it again and document my experience in more detail!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Whole Grain / Vegan / Macrobiotic Pumpkin Pie

I love pumpkin pie. It is on of my favorite foods but, it's really not healthy. Here's the most nutritious and best tasting recipe I have deduced for a vegan pumpkin pie. I've tried a lot of different recipes some pretty good, some really bad. This recipe is an amalgamation of several recipes and I have tweaked the proportions several times to come up with this final version. This pie has the thick custardy texture of traditionally prepared pumpkin pie without all the condensed sweetened milk and eggs (i.e. processed white sugar and bad saturated fat). I use a frozen whole grain pie crust from whole foods which means that all you have to do to make this pie is throw all the ingredients into the blender, pour them into a pie crust and bake: easy as pie.

1 16oz package of silken tofu drained
1 15oz can of unsweetened pumpkin
3/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon barley malt
1 heaping tablespoon pumpkin pie spice mix
(or the equivalent mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, mace etc...)
1 9" 100% whole wheat frozen pie crust - thawed

preheat oven to 425 degrees.
blend all ingredients together in blender for 2 minutes on high until thoroughly pureed.
pour contents of blender into thawed pie crust.
bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees. reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 45 minutes.
let set up in refrigerator for at least 8 hours, preferably over night. This pie seems to get better the longer it sit in the fridge!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Night Sky Burning

I am not one for sunset photos. On occasion however I am moved to that cliche place of taking photos of the dusk sky. So here's one, sans excuses.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Brown Rice Zuchinni Lemon Soup

A few weeks ago I got some zucchini for 50 cents a pound- about 10 pounds of it! I ended up with a freezer full of shredded zucchini in big ziplock freezer bags. Here's the best healthy recipe i've got for using all of this zucchini! It is really really simple, with a nice tang from the lemons and the cheese really gives a strong nutty and salty contrast to the mildly sweet flavor of the onions and zucchini. I imagine this recipe will come in handy in august also, when those zucchini plants can't seem to stop making more fruit.

4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 medium sized sweet yellow onion diced
2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
4 cups shredded zucchini (shredded on the Benriner)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs
4 cups water
Fresh squeezed juice of one lemon
1/2 cup of grated Romano cheese

(First you have to make rice. I always seem to have a pot of Lundburg farms organic short grain brown rice cooked in a Zojirushi rice cooker ready to eat!)

Saute the onion in the olive oil on low heat for 10 minutes or until well browned. Add the salt, pepper, and shredded zucchini to the pot. Raise the heat to high and saute the zucchini until wilted and color brightens. Add the water and the cooked rice. When soup boils reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 20 mins. Beat the lemon juice and the eggs together and add 1/8 of a cup of hot broth at a time to the eggs while continuing to beat. Very carefully and slowly add more hot broth to the eggs, continue to beat. You must be careful not to add to much to quickly as this will cook the eggs and ruin the thickening process. You'll end up with scrabbled eggs! Once the egg mixture is sufficiently warmed with 2 or 3 cups of broth add the mixture slowly back into the pot of soup and continue to mix. Let the soup simmer for another 5 minutes or so until the broth thickens. Serve topped with freshly chopped parsley and romano cheese!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Icicle, Icicle

The south facing side of my apartment receives a limited amount of direct sunlight. It seems, the dark shingles of the roof warm the underside of t he thick blanket of snow that covers the eaves of the roof where water flows down the edges and forms slick smooth icicles. Here are some pictures I took the other afternoon. One reminds me of a funnel cloud I saw descend from the sky while driving north from a country road into Urbana, IL two summers ago with my friend Ellen.

Meatless Meatloaf


I never ate meatloaf growing up. I don't think we ever ate anything even close to a meatloaf in my house.
 However; now I live in the midwest and have taken an interested in the ever popular midwestern phenomenon that is meatloaf!

I made this meatless meatloaf last week and today finished off the last of the leftovers as an open faced no-meatloaf sandwich. The thickly sliced and crunchy pan
 seared no-meatloaf was served up on toasty warm sesame ezekiel bread with lightly steamed baby spinach and a drizzle of of sweet barbeque sauce: the perfectly hearty vegetarian wintertime lunch.

(No-meat loaf)

8 medium sized carrots shredded (with the Benriner)
1 cup extra firm tofu1 1/2 cups veggie burger mix
(available in bulk at your local natural food co-op)
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tamari
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 medium sweet yellow onion chopped
1 large portabello mushroom cap diced
1/2 cup spicy pumpkin seeds (available in bulk at your local natural food co-op)
3 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)

(Glaze for top of no-meatloaf)

2 tablespoons organic natural ketchup
2 tablespoons sweet baby rays barbeque sauce
2 finely sliced scallion
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoon honey
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Steam the shredded carrots in a steamer basket over a large pot filled with one inch of boiling water until softened but not mushy.

Puree the tofu, worcestershire, tamari, 2 tablespoons olive oil, black and cayenne pepper, and basil until smooth.

Combine the veggie burger mix with the oats and let sit for 20 minutes in 2 cups boiled water.

Mix the mushrooms, onions and pumpkin seeds with the steamed carrots. 
Mix in oats and veggie burger mix. Finally add the tofu puree and mix well with your hands, you know, like an Italian grandmother!

Use the remaining olive oil to grease a 9" x 9" glass pyrex baking dish. Transfer mixture into pyrex and bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

While loaf is baking slice the scallions and mix together the ingredients for the glaze: ketchup, barbeque sauce, tahini, and honey.

Remove the loaf from oven and carefully spread a layer of the glaze on top being careful not to burn yourself. Raise heat to 450 degrees and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes until glaze has thickened and started to brown at the edges.

Remove and let cool 20 minutes before slicing.

Serve with a side of brown rice and steamed spinach. Also wonderful pan seared reheated and served as a sandwich on whole grain bread with steamed spinach or mesclun mix and a dash of extra barbeque sauce!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Tasty Little Muffins

100% Whole Grain Vegan 10 Grain Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins

Yesterday I made these tasty little muffins. Here's a recipe.

2 Bananas (mashed)
1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon Barley Malt
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Spread
1 Cup Whole Grain White Wheat Flour
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup of 10 Grain Cereal Mix
3/4 Cup Plain Soy Yogurt
3/4 Cup Soy Milk
1/3 Cup Grain Sweetened Vegan Chocolate Chips
1/3 Cup Walnut pieces
1/3 Cup dried currants
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Flax Seed Meal
Earth balance shortening (to grease the muffin pan)

The instructions are fairly simple. 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While preheating, 
Mix the dry 10 grain cereal with the soy milk and yogurt. let sit while you mix the other ingredients. 
Mix together all of the dry ingredients. (The flour, salt, baking powder and soda, 
cinnamon, flax seed meal, chips, nuts, currants etc...).  
Mash together (I used a potato masher) the ripe bananas with the earth balance, once very well incorporated add the barley malt, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. 
At this point grease the muffin pan with Earth balance shortening. 
Mix together the wet and dry ingredients and lastly add in the 10 grain soy milk yogurt mixture. 
Stir together to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients. 
Equally distribute the mixture into the greased muffin pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the muffins cool for a few minutes before carefully removing them from the pan. 
Store for up to 1 week outside the fridge in an airtight container. 
Don't forget to eat one (or all of them) right after they've cooled off a bit! 
Enjoy! These are especially good sliced in half, toasted in the toaster oven, and spread with a little earth balance spread.