Monday, September 9, 2013

Sourdough Adventures

My experience with sourdough starter has been sketchy at best. I tried once and failed miserably. It was a recipe that That was a few years ago, and I've not had much desire to try again. Until this weekend.

Not sure where the desire came from. Actually, I think I do. It started with pizza. I made pizza dough because I've seen some amazing pizzas on Pinterest and I wanted to try them. Pizza one night became pizza the next night with a friend (different dough recipe, worked really well, will do it again). And then...

I started other things. I made socca (a kind of flatbread) with gram flour. I added some hot madras curry powder. Great stuff. Made it again tonight actually in the cast iron skillet (and accidentally smoked up the house).

The sourdough was a "why the hell not." The last time I tried starter, it was a "glean the yeasts from the air" kind that just didn't work. This time, I tried using active yeast.

Hallelujah! It worked!

The apartment smells like yeasty heaven. I love sourdough and I love making bread and I can't wait for tomorrow when I can finally make something with this starter.

Anyway, I found the starter recipe here, at Cake Duchess, and you can find directions for making and maintaining the starter there.

Sourdough Starter
2 cups warm water 
1 package active dry yeast 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tbsp sugar

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lavender Cardamom Milk

It's been a little bit, but I'm back on my feet again after a couple of months of back problems. I missed playing around in the kitchen, but I'm going to take things kind of easy at first.

I plan on using this sweetened, flavored milk in my tea tomorrow morning. 

Lavender Cardamom Milk

1 can evaporated milk
1/4 cup water
2 cardamom pods
approx 1 teaspoon lavender buds
approx 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch cinnamon

Toast and grind fennel seeds. Crush cardamom seeds (not the whole pod). In a small saucepan, add all ingredients. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Strain.

Simple, simple. I'm sure it could also be made into ice cream if you choose.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Corn, Chick Pea, and Roasted Red Pepper Salad

How's about another vegan experiment?

Roasting and preparing the red peppers takes some time, but it's worth it.

Corn, Chick Pea, and Roasted Red Pepper Salad

2 ears fresh corn, cut from the cob (or equal amount frozen)
2 red bell peppers
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 can chick peas (or whatever bean you want)
2 handfuls fresh cilantro
Lime juice to taste
Tabasco to taste
Salt to taste

Coat the peppers in 1/2 of the olive oil, place them on a cookie sheet, and place them in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes, turning the peppers every so often until the skin blackens in several places. Take the peppers out of the oven, and place them in a paper bag until they have cooled enough to peel off the skin. Seed and dice the peppers.

In large bowl, add the corn, peppers, chick peas, cilantro, and lime juice, salt, remaining olive oil, and Tabasco. Mix well. Serve immediately, or chill.

This also turned out well. You can add some sour cream or cheese (or both!) and keep it vegetarian, too. I might try adzuki beans next time for a different take.

Vegan Basil Tamari Brussels Sprouts

I have a fridge full of veggies at the moment, which means experimentation!

I love brussels sprouts. I eat 'em raw when I'm of the mind. But Dave isn't fond of the mini cabbages, so I have to find a way to make them delectable. I saw a post on Pinterest for roasted brussels sprouts that inspired me. And since I'm trying to eat as vegan as possible (which isn't always possible under my current circumstances), I've made a vegan recipe that's about as simple as it can get.

One of the ingredients is Basil olive oil. I purchased mine from Olive Cart, which is located in South Haven, Michigan. I found the shop on an off-season visit to the Lake Michigan beach town last year. Great place, lots of flavors, and they ship.

Tamari Roasted Brussels Sprouts

You need:
About a pound of brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
Basil Olive Oil
Tamari (you can substitute soy sauce if necessary)

I will admit, I used the glop measuring system. Mix the sprouts with a couple of glops of the basil olive oil, and 3 to 4 glops of tamari. Spread them on a cookie sheet. Pop in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes, stirring after about 10 minutes. My oven is a little wonky, so that time is variable. The sprouts should start to turn brown on the edges when they are done.

These sprouts got the eye-roll of approval from Dave. And the little leaves that fall off in the process make great little crunchies.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The 7 Day Vegan Challenge

So why not jump into the fire?

I read about the 7 Day Vegan Challege through the Zen Habits blog. I like a good challenge, and Dave and I are working in the vegan direction, anyway. So why not give ourselves a week to explore our options?

So I signed up for the challenge. It's only a week.

I should have checked my fridge first!

First, though, a bit of information. I'm a cheese-aholic. Dairy-holic, honestly. I like yogurt and sour cream and cottage cheese and cream cheese and even a big ol' glass of milk now and then. I'm working on transitioning out of this addiction. Like any addiction, though, there are withdrawal symptoms. Thinking about the cheese I can't eat, the glass of milk I can't drink. Longing. Despair (How can I survive for a week without creamer in my coffee?). Desperation. Bargaining. It's like the phases of grief, only it's only for a week.

So I looked in my fridge to see what I could have for my first vegan breakfast of the challenge. The container of sour cream stared back at me. In my mind, I could feel its cool silkiness, the tang. My heart dropped. Not like I was planning on eating sour cream for breakfast and this challenge foiled it. It was simply a revelation. No sour cream for a week.

Which is odd, because that sour cream had been in the fridge for at least a week before we used it for dinner recently. It's not that I couldn't go a week without sour cream. It's just the sudden realization that, should I want to eat it, I can't

Which brings me to a little tip that I will be using quite a bit in the next few days, until I settle into this vegan thing. Substitute "I can't have it" with "I don't want it." When you feel like you're deprived of something, the not having makes the desire stronger. But if you can convince yourself that you don't want it, even if you have to lie to yourself for a while, you can beat the urge.

Next time the Daisy container stares me down, I will tell myself that I don't want sour cream, I want the satisfaction of completing a challenge. I want the health benefits of cutting out dairy foods and beating my addiction.

And I'll hide Daisy in the back of the fridge.

Two Questions

Welcome to the new American Dal. "New" because it started out as a graduate school project about my attempts at cooking Indian food. Now that graduate school is over for me, I'm taking this blog in a new direction.

It starts with two questions: 

1.) Can I alleviate some of my Fibromyalgia symptoms through diet?
2.) Can I do so without sacrificing flavor?

I'm a foodie. I love cooking, I love eating. I love reading about food, perusing cookbooks, and trying new restaurants. So writing about food is a no-brainer!

Only, I also suffer from Fibromyalgia, which basically sucks a lot of energy out of me so I can't experiment in the kitchen as much as I used to.

So, when I watched a documentary about the link between a plant-based diet and overall health, I started thinking. I've wanted to go vegetarian for a while, but my carnivorous roots are so deep that I haven't stuck with it long. Not to mention that my husband loves meat more than I do. But I have been making changes to our diet, preparing meatless meals more often and introducing different veggies.

After my husband watched Forks Over Knives with me, he was more willing to go vegetarian with me. Having his support helps. There havent' been as many of the "but there's no meat in this" comments. And as long as the food doesn't taste like cardboard, we're both likely to stick to the plan.

That's the second question to the challenge. Can I eat healthy without sacrificing taste? That's the fun part. Trying new recipes and ingredients, experimenting. And that's what I hope to share here. Along with links to other blogs that I find helpful.

Let's go!