Monday, October 19, 2009

VeganMOFO and Kitchen Plans

Things are developing with the kitchen reno. I didn't think I'd give into the temptation of letting my reno expand beyond my original plans to just replace some cabinets and countertop. Now I'm look at:
  • Tearing out the ceiling and bulkhead to expose vintage tin ceiling
  • Ripping up the floor to expose original pine floors
  • Moving the door to the basement
  • Shifting the basement stairs by about 2 feet
  • Eliminating the current peninsula
  • Moving almost all major appliances
  • Expanding the kitchen into the livingroom/stairwell by 23"
  • Cutting out the wall that separates the upper stairs from the dining room
  • Custom cabinets
  • And I still have to get the Chambers up and running!

Kitchen taped off to test drive new designs. Kitty accommodates.

The wall that's coming out. Once again, Kitty inserts herself in the shot.

In foodie news, I haven't been cooking quite as much lately. I was sitting on the committee to write the Nurse-Midwifery certification exam last week, and they feed me so I didn't have much reason to cook. To their credit, they were kind and careful to make sure I had vegan options.

However, I had been craving vegan kimchi. I had some time to kill in Catonsville while they prepped my new car, so I swung over to H-Mart, a huge international market. I bought the necessaries for making Julie Hasson's vegan kimchi.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

MOFO day 9: Spaghetti Squash in Spicy Cream Sauce

The farmers' market is a good inidicator of how the seasons are changing. A couple weeks ago hard squash were just making their debut, but last Sunday a lot of the tables were covered in autumnal colors of "winter" squash. I'm a big fan of anything butternut, and acorn squash have won me over recently as well. Spaghetti squash have always intrigued me: noodles made of vegetable. But what to do with it? I like this recipe a lot from Sunset. However, last time I made it the jalapeƱo flavor was mostly lost. A reviewer suggested green chilies instead. Here's my veganized, updated version of the Sunset's recipe. It bakes in the oven and is reminiscent of a baked mac-n-cheese.

Spaghetti Squash with Chile Cream Sauce

1 medium sized spaghetti squash (3 lbs-ish)
2 cups non-dairy milk, whatever you prefer
2 long green chiles, roughly diced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus some to grease the pot
3 tablespoons flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot
1 tsp salt
1 cup shredded white vegan cheese (I used Veganrella) - optional but so good
Paprika to sprinkle on top - optional

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook the squash in the microwave for about 10 minutes or slice in half and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Either way, cook that thing until it's tender when pierced with a fork. Let it cool before you handle it.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the chiles and places them in a saucepan with the non-dairy milk. Simmer until just almost boiling, then let simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
  3. Strain off the peppers and reserve the infused cream.
  4. When the squash cools enough to handle, scrape out the stringy innards and place in your baking dish.
  5. In a saucepan, slowly heat the olive oil to medium heat and gradually whisk in the flour and salt. Continue whisking until it smell cooked (like pie crust,) about 3 minutes. Then slowly add the cream, whisking it constantly for about 3 more minutes. I had to add some cornstarch to get this thick enough, but if yours is thick enough-- skip it.  
  6. Pour the cream over the squash innards and mix. Taste for salt. 
  7. Sprinkle cheese over the top, and hit it with the paprika.
  8. Place in pre-heated oven and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Great White Stove

I'm in the process of renovating my kitchen. The appliances have started retaliating against me since I decided to take on this endeavor. The range can't hold a steady flame, so things start boiling over that had been set on low. The light above the stove won't stay on unless you bang on it. I'm pretty sure there's a gas issue in the oven. It's a mess. The kitchen reno was instigated by my (perhaps eccentric) purchase of a 1960's Chambers 90C gas stove. Unless I re-do my cabinets, the Chambers won't fit in the kitchen.

She had to be taken apart to fit through the front door.

I'm trying to do this the right way: clean it up, restore rusted areas and coat with rust inhibiting sealant, order new rock wool, replace old screws and bolts with newer ones (that took about 2 hours at the hardware store.) Of course, this is all very easy considering nothing on the stove is standard these days. To top it all off, she weights almost 800 lbs.

Cataloging hardware

Rust-colored rust sealant.

Cleaning the gas cones.

Why bother with this behemoth? There's a great article on Slate that sums it up:
"This Old Stove. Why going vintage is better than modern." My favorite part is this quote: "Fred Carl started Viking around that time after his wife could not find the range of her dreams. (Ironically, it was a vintage Chambers.)"

Hopefully the finished product will look something like this. My stove actually looked much better before we dissected her to reduce the girth (and weight!) The photo below is a real person's actual restored Chambers from the Chambers Rangers discussion board, my go-to place for advice.

Soup and Mad Max

It's just started feeling like autumn here in Baltimore, which means it's officially soup season. We buy beautiful kale from the downtown farmer's market, but sometimes it doesn't get used up quickly enough. I also happened to have a bit of black-eyed peas in the freezer from a large-scale crock pot bean cooking/storing venture. A southern version of traditional Portuguese kale soup (it's almost like southern New Years in a bowl) hit the spot.

Kevin's been on a bread making kick, and he whipped up a really gorgeous baguette to go with dinner. I'd read this article on ways to add steam during bread baking and gave it a try by throwing a couple ice cubes on a heated baking dish. The results were delish. I think we ate more soup just so we could dip bread in it. Kevin also caught me eating disks of bread at the kitchen sink with olive oil drizzled on them. Needless to say, there was no leftover bread. Oh well.

We don't have TV, but sometimes we'll watch newscasts or the Daily Show during dinner. Tonight we had a treat: Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome. Cinema at its finest.

Anyways, here's the soup recipe. It's easy to make and you could definitely add any other veggies that suit your fancy.

Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup

1 medium sized onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 heaping tablespoons tomato paste

2 small potatoes, diced (or one if large)

1 quart vegetable broth, divided into halves

1 ½ cups black eyed peas (or one can. Cannellini or Garbanzo would be fine too.)

Thyme, to taste

Oregano, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Kale, de-veined and cut into bite-sized ribbons

  1. In a heavy soup pot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions for 5 mins. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.

  2. Add tomato paste and salt, stirring to coat the onions.

  3. Add half of the veggie broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are tender.

  4. Using a slotted spoon, place most of the potatoes/onions in a blender with a little broth and blend until velvety.

  5. Replace blended potatoes in soup pot, add the rest of the broth and the peas/beans.

  6. Season to taste with salt, thyme and oregano (fresh or dried,) and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.

  7. Add kale and simmer, stirring occaisionally, until kale is tender.

  8. Add more broth or water if too thick.

Serves 4 as a meal or 6 as a side