Friday, June 17, 2011

made from scratch

Meet Baby. This is my neighbors' cat. And yes, these are my back steps. And yes, I have a fence. I normally encounter Baby on my front porch, give her a few pats on the head, and go on my way. She is a sweet cat. However, she has recently found a way into my backyard and thinks that if the door is open (which it is, if I'm cooking and it's below 80 outside--my kitchen gets stuffy!) she is welcome to come in. She also thinks my garden is her personal litter box. Sigh. I spent awhile training her to stay on the third step down in hopes that she wouldn't keep coming in the apartment. She is very smart and would humor me for five minutes or so, not moving from the step when I'd tell her to stay, but as soon as I'd turn my back, she'd run in. Not cool, Baby.

Yesterday, I was invited to a special dinner, and volunteered to make a vegetarian dish. I had purposely made espinacas con garbanzos for the first time the day before to test it out. My first batch had storebought bread in it, but I didn't have enough for the second, and rather than run to the store, I decided it would just be easier as well as more delicious to throw a loaf of bread on in the bread machine. I didn't have time for a wheat loaf (takes around 4 hours) so I went with white (only 2 hours) and although I don't normally prefer white bread, it turned out amazing.

After I got the bread going, the next step was to harvest some spinach from the garden. My spinach is starting to bolt, but doesn't taste bitter yet. The process is being delayed by some of the cooler weather we've had over the past week. I'm hoping that when the harvesting period is over, I can save the seeds to grow in my fall garden.

Next, I cooked the spinach in olive oil with a pinch of salt.

After the bread was done, I cut two 1/2" slices into cubes and "fried" it, or toasted in a skillet with more olive oil. I also added cumin, paprika, pepper flakes, ground pepper, vinegar, and fresh garlic as the recipe calls for, then ground it up in the blender.

The final step is to add the ground bread crumbs and spices to the chickpeas (cooked 2 days earlier in my crock pot for convenience) and an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce. At the last minute, stir in the cooked spinach. The dish is wonderful on its own, but even better when served with a slice of bread toasted in the skillet with, you guessed it, more olive oil.

I also took a batch of vegan brownies. I love this brownie recipe because it's vegan, but there are no gimmicks in it, just sugar, flour, oil, baking powder, salt, cocoa, and flax. I sometimes cook with vegan butter, but try not to make it an everyday thing, since it is a processed food. If I can bake something without it, I'm all for that. Same with anything else that is made from soy. I believe many of those things have their place, but I try to be careful with my consumption levels. I would definitely be up for using local, family farmed dairy products, if I weren't lactose intolerant.

I don't have any finished pictures, but trust me when I say they are delicious! Someone at the dinner asked me if I had made the brownies without eggs, so I suppose it's noticeable, but he went on to say that he still thought they were great.

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