Monsoon season…at least for me ;)

HA was foreshadowed in a precious post…my computer gave up the good fight and completely died. The hard drive is dead…lots of error messages and an inability to turn my computer on. As someone told me…when it rains it pours. Well I guess it is monsoon season for me right now haha. Trying to see what can be recovered from my laptop as well as tying to keep a positive attitude. While I had many files backed up…I hadn’t done so in awhile. So my lesson to pass on today…back up your computers my friends! You never know when technological disaster may hit. I should have known…most technology and I have short term affairs where they don’t last more than two years around me at max *sigh* Oh well. I have a roof over my head and great friends surrounding me right now so…life isn’t too bad. Just frustrating. Needless to say my blogging may not be very steady until I get a new computer. I will see how much I can do with my Kindle Fire. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Today’s Quote (4/19/12)

Quote

To parallel my previous post (Paul McCartney’s music video “My Valentine” featuring Natalie Portman)…

“My Dishonest Heart”

The visual is sorely undervalued in modern scholarship. Art history has attained only a fraction of the conceptual sophistication of literary criticism. Drunk with self-love, criticism has hugely overestimated the centrality of language to western culture. It has failed to see the electrifying sign language of images.

~ Camille Paglia

“Silent Stories”

Artwork by Audrey Kawasaki

Mediterranean Pasta with Greens

I am really loving the warm weather, spring vegetables, and my Clean Food (vegan) cookbook! I was carb craving so decided to try out the recipe “Mediterranean Pasta with Greens” from the Spring section. My bad luck continues with my car being towed and ticketed today (I forgot it was Tuesday…street cleaning day on my block 😦 ) and my computer stopped working for 12 hours…so a nice comforting pasta dish was in store.  This absolutely hit the spot! It was quick, light, and tasty! Next time I would double the vegetables (a heavy on the pasta veggie ratio) and maybe try out , but overall the recipe was a success. I still don’t have my phone back yet (or a camera) so the pictures are not the same quality as usual, but I tried to capture the deliciousness! Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 pound penne or fusilli
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon dried basil *may have to add more spices if going to double the veggies…just keep the basil to oregano ratio
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas *I used 1 can of chickpeas
2 cups canned diced tomatoes with their liquid *I used 1 28 oz can of organic diced tomatoes. I would double this next time
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup mirin
1 small bunch kale, chopped (I used purple kind fun 😉 )*I would double this
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Rinse, drain and return to pot. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

In large Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté garlic and onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft (about 3 mins). Add basil, oregano, chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato paste and mirin. Sauté 5 minutes longer. Add kale, then cover and cook 3 minutes or until soft. Uncover and stir to combine all ingredients. Season with salt and lots of pepper and toss with pasta. (I had to add a little vegetable stock here because a little dry with all the pasta). Cook to heat through and serve.

Today’s Quote (4/17/12)

Quote

“Illuminating Night”

One day at a time- this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.
— Ida Scott Taylor

“Retrieving The Thought”

Paintings by Katelyn Alain

Ma-Po Tofu with Tomatoes

I absolutely love Mapo Tofu, a classic Sichuan dish of simmered tofu and pork. My mother makes it every time I come home (from a nifty mix she gets from the Asian store 😉 ) My mother’s good friend and neighbor, Lily, who owns our favorite Chinese Restaurant (in Ohio), similarly makes it for me every time I stop in. I guess everyone back home knows my true loves…bacon and Mapo Tofu *winks*. So, imagine my delight while I am flipping through Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters Cookbook” and stumble upon a recipe for Mapo Tofu. While logic dictates that one can make it at home without the snazzy mix my mother uses, I had never tried it before. The result…deliciousness. I did use much more meat and red pepper flakes than the recipe called for but to each their own. Make it to your specifications and likes! Enjoy this Asian treat packed with lots of flavor and spice!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil(could use less especially if using more meat)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes, or to taste (I use 1-2 teaspoons depending on how hot I want it…*sizzle*)
  • 4 oz ground pork (I used a full pound)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions (can substitute chives/shallots if don’t have scallions/green onions)
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine but DRAIN off juice)
  • 1/2 cup stock or water
  • 12 oz firm silken tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Instructions:

1. Put the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the garlic, ginger, and chile flakes and cook just until they begin to sizzle, less than a minutes. Add the pork and stir to break it up; cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses most of its pink color and beings to crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add the scallions, tomatoes, and stock. Cook for a minute or two, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits of meat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring once or twice, until the tofu is heated through, about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the soy sauce, taste and season with salt and more red chili flakes (if you want more heat). Garnish with cilantro and serve

**I serve it over brown rice but it can just as easily be tossed with brown rice noodles or whole wheat spaghetti. The whole dish only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and cook so start the rice or noodles first thing!

**A Variation from Bittman: Ma-Po Edamame – Substitute 3 cups fresh or frozen shelled edamame for the tofu. It will take 5 to 7 minutes of cooking at a gentle simmer for fresh edamame to become tender.

I’m baaaackkk!

Rested and rejuvenated…still without a real phone…and a little bit more crispy 🙂 I am without a camera and still don’t have my pictures from my phone but I figured I would start back with a little hello…start up the quotes tomorrow and post a recipe long overdue. I hope everyone had a fabulous Easter weekend (and if you don’t celebrate Easter…a fabulous Spring weekend/week) filled with family, friends, and great food! More on my adventures to South Carolina and back. One of the best parts was hanging out with my little sister…we even have semi-matching glasses *smiles*