Sunday, October 21, 2012

Carrot Stew

Last week, my new cookbook finally arrived.   Until this point, I had been entertaining myself  by trying to learn how to cook brown rice (I refuse to break down and buy a rice cooker until I can cook it in a pot) and futzing around with ad-hoc creations made with beans, lentils and tofu drenched in sesame oil and soy sauce.  (Rule of thumb--everything is tasty when drenched in sesame oil and soy sauce. Even tofu). Anyway, cookbook was here so it was time to start working my way through it. 

Just to clarify, though my friend did present this as a Julie and Julia type of thing, given that this cookbook contains over 1300 recipes, and since I have a rather time intensive job, and since there is a limit to just how much I can eat, it is reasonable to assume that I will not be really working my way through it.  I'm aiming for a bunch of recipes.   As of now, I have officially tried one recipe and it is yummy.  The various editorial comments--the ones that don't really sound like they would normally appear in a cookbook?  Mine.

I halved most of the ingredients below because I only wanted three portions as opposed to the 4-6 is supposed to produce. 

2 tbsp oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 medium green peppers, cut in strips
2 tsp minced fresh hot chili pepper or ¼ tsp cayenne (optional—but if you leave it out you are either a total loser, a non-enlightened Ashkenazi or some combination thereof)
4 cups canned tomato pulp or drained stewed tomatoes (I used four chopped, fresh tomatoes; I would have used eight for the full recipe—and ½ cup water)
1 pound carrots, cut into thick coins (I didn’t halve this item.  I like my carrots. For that matter, I didn't halve the chili pepper either.)
½ tsp salt (I used more and I added random amounts of cumin and turmeric.  And perhaps some dried garlic. It’s hard to say. It’s all a blur.)
3-5 cups cooked grain

Heat oil in a 3 quart pot. And sauté onion and peppers until limp or until the onion is starting to burn and need to add the other ingredients even though the peppers aren’t limp yet so that you don’t have to steel wool the damn pot again. Whichever comes first. 

Add tomato, carrots and salt (and other spices) bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat until carrots are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

If sauce is too liquid, remove cover and boil gently to thicken or remove from heat and stir in 2 to 3 teaspoons nutritional yeast (doesn’t exist here in Israel) as needed, to thicken. 

Serve over grain. 

They suggested serving a bean accompaniment and a side of yogurt, or alternatively, adding beans to the dish.  I went with the latter and added ½ cup white beans and served over (only half fuzzy) ½ cup brown rice.  Since I was pretty generous with the chili pepper, after I heated my portion up for lunch, I mixed in a very heaping spoon (about 60 grams) of 5% soft white cheese (g’vina levana).  Yum! 

As noted above, I halved all of the ingredients apart from the carrots. If I were to make it again, but the full recipe, I would double the carrots. Also, I didn’t need to add the ½ cup water; the chopped tomatoes had enough moisture. Still came out very well. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weeks Three and Four—September 23-October 6

We are still in full-blown holiday season mode here so even for a workaholic  like me, finding time to do the field trips has been pretty easy. The real challenge will come starting next week, once the holidays are a distant memory, although not so distant that I will have managed to catch up on all the work postponed in their honor.

Here goes:
  1. Went biking on Erev Yom Kippur at Nahal Kisalon with another rider who will be doing the Wheels of Love (more on that below). 
  2. Went biking in the Jerusalem hills and managed not to get lost.
  3. Went biking on Erev Sukkot. This time, I met a friend of a friend for "singles"  (single track mountain biking) at Be’eri.  It was very challenging and my butt was black and blue in the end but I had a great time nonetheless.  The best part is that now I can go around like a real biker, kinda swaggering-like, and talking about how I did singles at Be’eri. (There is the possibility that real bikers think Be'eri is laughably easy.  I so do not care. I have earned my swagger and I am going to work it).
  4. Visited a friend who I have never actually met in person at Kibbutz Alumim.  She gave me a tour of the Kibbutz.  I even got to see the cows!  No petting though. I mean, I could have, but I am not so into the animal contact thing.
  5. Went to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Tel Aviv Opera House.
  6. Did the 42 km “Tour de Tel Aviv” bike ride with a few acquaintances and finally, at long last, had the opportunity to ride my bike on the Ayalon Highway. To be honest, this was not the first time I had done so.  Many years ago, when I was a new and inexperienced biker, and even less skilled at reading maps than I am now, I inadvertently rode onto the Ayalon.   I spent the next 15 minutes dodging cars and praying I would survive until the next exit.  Having now tried both, I can conclusively state that riding the Ayalon without cars is preferable. 
  7. Met up with yet another friend who I have only met once in person and  with Practical Yael, who  I rarely see because she lives so far away.
There are two things worth noting above. The first is the massive amount of quality time I am spending with my bike. The reason is that I am training for the 13th Annual Wheels of Love Ride to benefit Alyn Hospital.  Have an extra $50?  Or $20?  Or $10?  Yes?  Would you like to sponsor me?  You can do so here.  Anyway, my field trips will continue to be heavily weighted towards bike riding until the Ride, after which I will be heartily sick of biking and will leave my bike in a corner in my office for six months, until it is time to train for the 14th Annual Wheels of Love Ride. 

The second part is the “riding with another rider” part of these bike rides.  I  tend to ride by myself as I ride at turtle speed and am utterly convinced that if I join with a group I will slow them down and they will either have a horrible time or they will leave me far behind and I will become hopelessly lost in the wilderness, utterly at the mercy of the new iPhone map application, and will ultimately be devoured by a bear or something else equally endowed with claws and fangs.  And like I said, I am not so into animal contact. But now I swallowed my fear and have forced myself to take the plunge and go riding with other people (though I warn them in advance that I am pokey) and nothing bad has happened. I made it home just fine! Tomorrow, however, my plan is to be really daring and go riding with a group of people who are neither connected to the Wheels of Love, nor friends, nor friends of friends. That is to say: people I do not know at all and who have not been warned.

Scary, no?  I chose a group that is doing a route I know so that if they happen to ride at non-turtle speed, I will not find myself lost in the wilderness.  Daring, yes. Foolhardy, no.