♦ Inheritance

Dear Shaina,

Thank you for your kind words. In truth, parents never know what their kids are picking up from them, the good and the bad. We put effort into intentional teaching; don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t hurt others, play nicely, share your toys, work hard, “no” won’t kill you, say please and thank you. We teach what we think are the essentials to get along in life and hope for the best. We also know that kids mostly learn from unintentional teachings, the good and the bad.

Dad and I both grew up in families that didn’t exactly fit the Leave it to Beaver TV family norm of the 50’s. Despite our different backgrounds and lifestyles, the basics were the same…our families loved us deeply and sacrificed for the hope of our futures. They were honest and hard working and gave everything they had to ensure our success in life without even knowing what that might look like. We were immersed in environments that taught us, unintentionally, that the value of each person doesn’t come from what they wear, where their house is, how they speak, which clubs they belong to or what kind of work they do.

Roasting a lot of veggies lately

Roasting a lot of veggies lately

We didn’t know any better than to just be who we were. It wasn’t always an easy learning. It took longer than I care to admit to accept and value the eccentricities of my growing up home life and understand the richness of what I learned from living in a home where two people, fueled by the instinct to survive, struggled together to build a new life for themselves and the family they were creating from scratch. Different isn’t bad. Honesty and integrity are key. Learn how to take care of yourself…and do it. Family first. It’s OK to need your children as much as they need you…you can learn a lot from them. There are all kinds of people in the world…people are just people, good and bad.

Although my life is worlds away from my parents’ lives, and yours even more remote, it seems that those lessons took hold and survived at least two generations of indulgence.

Braised Cabbage, my version.

Braised Cabbage, my version.

Then there’s this food obsession that has seemingly invaded all our lives…blogs, pictures, recipes…cooking frenzies around the world. Food is real. Food is metaphor…love, family, friends, sharing, nurturing, healing, celebration, tradition, generosity, bounty, beauty, creativity, sensuality, productivity, focus, risk, meditation. Metaphors are real.

What an inheritance! We are all so blessed!

In the meantime, I made your cabbage dish and added asparagus. I served it over Persian rice made with edamame and it was excellent! I am making it again with tofu for a yoga potluck. Thanks for sharing your recipes…and your life.

Love,
Mom
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Vegetable Spaghetti Stir Fry

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This very simple recipe was made using my newest gadget called a Vegetti. It is low tech, easy to use and makes ordinary vegetables into veggie strands that can be substituted for spaghetti. I have only used it with yellow squash and zucchini, so far.

Vegetti, my newest kitchen toy

Vegetti, my newest kitchen toy

Even though this recipe has the same
ingredients as my standard sautéed squash, the flavors seem to permeate the spaghetti strands in a way that makes it a whole new dish. No matter how much I make, it all gets eaten. This recipe will feed two people as a main dish and four as a side dish.

Vegetable Spaghetti Stir Fry

  • 2 -3 zucchinis
  • 2-3 yellow crookneck summer squash
  • olive oil
  • 1 red or yellow onion, sliced in thin wedges
  • 2 -4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Optional vegetables:1/2 pound mushrooms sliced, cherry tomatoes, asparagus
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional spices: basil and oregano
  • Optional garnishes: toasted pine nuts, green onions, parsley, parmesan cheese
  • Optional accompaniments: rice, lentils

IMG_5396Following the instructions that come with the Vegetti, use the larger holes and spiral the squash through the Vegetti until you can’t rotate it through anymore. I cut the “noodles”  with a scissor into spaghetti lengths as I go. When it gets down to a nub, you can put a fork into it and try to get a few more turns or just cut the rest up by hand into strips.

Put the raw veggie spaghetti in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 5 to 10 minutes or until liquid has cooked out. Drain vegetables thoroughly and set aside. I actually use the drained liquid as a vegetable broth for soups.Image 2-24-15 at 11.32 AM

Sauté onions in a little olive oil in a large sauté pan until partially cooked. Add minced garlic and sauté for another minute. If using mushrooms or any other vegetables, add to the mixture and sauté for a few minutes. Add drained veggie spaghetti and continue sautéing. Add salt, pepper to taste and any additional spices desired. Cook until all vegetables are done to taste.

Add garnishes and serve.

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◊ Wary But Ready

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Dear mom,

Tomorrow I leave home again. My direction is just as unclear as the last time I left (and the time before that)… the difference is that I’ve become more comfortable with not knowing things. This time, there’s less fear, less adrenaline, less newness attached to stuffing suitcases with this-and-that for life with clouded purpose in a foreign country. A sack of my favorite teas, a quick-dry towel, sneakers and good socks, a down pillow, four cameras (yes I need them all), ear plugs, chocolate chips for the plane, etc, etc… I know what I need.

From the front yard

From the front yard

Living with you and dad has been (uhh… how can a 25 year old with overbearing/hysterical parents word this kindly?)… motivating… but I will miss the small life I’ve rebuilt in Birmingham during these 3 months.  I’m already waxing nostalgic over my cooking-gig guided by “clients’” health needs, luxurious ingredients and big counter space along with all the other stuff: family and old friends, long runs through wooded trails, the first ever AL organic cotton, this company. Yes, pour-over coffee joints, Villager Yoga and hipster popsicles (requisite to any urban wannabe) are proof that Birmingham is rising.

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Thank you for the luxury to return home and recharge. Each time I leave home I feel sort of like I need to resume fight-mode… Tomorrow I’ll muster a new energy and the next day I’ll turn it up a notch to navigate a new place, new language, new people, new foods (!), new projects.  What am I getting into?

Tomorrow opens a new chapter. When I sound ambivalent about the direction of my life, others assure me that I’ll figure it out soon. I’m 99.5% sure that I won’t because what does that even mean?

I’m wary of veering from the path I’ve built to move to Jerusalem because why?  But I’m ready… at least for some good hummus.

xo,

Shaina

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Right: not edible
Left:  will make you see funny things

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best purchase of the summer: a shitake sprouting log

These recipes honor the luxury of home-life. I was never able to afford porcini or any other fancy mushrooms when I was out on my own (well… my priorities weren’t right) so I did some mega experimentation at home. I made two dishes with a variety of dried mushrooms (chanterelle, cremini, shitake…) – both vegan and both satisfying: Vegan Mushroom Risotto and Hearty Mushroom Farro. Porcini and chanterelle mushrooms were my fav with intensely earthy, deep meaty flavors. The farro was the best dish of the summer… hearty and toothsome (Arielle taught me that word, isn’t it good?). It’s even better topped with creamy cashew cheese, a rich vegan treat. A pairing of the two = the most luxurious meal ever.

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Mushroom Farro
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  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 6 cups salted water (or vegetable stock)
  • 1 1/2 cups farro
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 lb fresh portabello, shitake, cremini or baby bella mushrooms
  • Salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • good black pepper, freshly ground
  • Parsley, chopped

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Put mushrooms in water and bring to boil. As soon as water boils, lower heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet. Add the onions and cook until translucent about 2-4 minutes. Add the garlic, fresh mushrooms (not the porcinis), salt and thyme. Cooking (stir often) about 8-15 minutes, until mushrooms are tender and onions are brown.
On a separate skillet, heat a drop of olive oil. Cook farro in olive oil until fragrant (about 3 minutes) while stirring.
Remove porcini mushrooms from water with a strainer, rinse, chop, and add to mushroom and onion mix.

Add farro to mushroom broth (you should have about 5 cups) and bring to simmer for about 45 minutes or until tender. The grains should be chewy and splayed. If water remains, continue to cook until grain is splayed. When ready, combine mushroom/onion mixture with farro. Remove thyme sprigs and add plenty of fresh ground black pepper.  Garnish with parsley (thanks for the idea, mom) and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if you please. Stir and serve warm!

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Creamy Vegan Cashew Cheese

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  • 2 C raw (unsalted) cashews or cashew pieces (pieces are usually cheaper), soaked overnight, then drained
  • 1/3 C nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp good sea salt
  • spices (you can do ANYTHING! For the mushroom farro, I’d stick with black pepper, but I’ve used a variety of herbs to liven things up in the past. Last time I put in a spicy smoked flavoring… delish!)
  • 1/2 cup water… more as needed

To soak cashews, cover with water and leave for 6 hours or overnight. When ready, drain cashews from water and add cashews and other ingredients to food processor. Puree all ingredients until creamy. The consistency should be like peanut butter, but add water if you want it looser. Chill for four hours before serving. If you like a firmer cashew cheese, strain pureed mixture in a cheese cloth overnight. Discard extra liquid and serve cold.

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