Stories from The Kitchen…

It’s been 1 year, 11 months, 24 days, a new family, a move to the West Coast and 40 recipes since my last blog entry. Wow! What a stretch of time! I have missed my virtual community. And I am excited to be back.

As is true for most people, the last couple of years have held its challenges and rewards; its joys and sorrows; its victories and defeats. And like many of us, as the sun rises, we are faced with the presence of a new day and so we get up and get to it. I am no different – new day, new start. And today, I am excited about “Stories from The Kitchen: There’s Healing at the Table, Ya’ll” – the cookbook that I have been working on intermittently over the last few years.

The Backstory

Back in 2007, I realized I could no longer lie to myself about the fact that I had an unhealthy relationship with food – one that was slowly and steadily killing me. As I saw it, I had two choices: commit to live or prepare to die. I did not want to die, and so I started the process of dietary transformation.

I turned the mirror on myself and opened my heart and my kitchen up to all of the possibilities that could arise if I allowed the thing I loved most to heal the pains I held the deepest. And now I want to share the truth of my experience and all of the wonderfully delicious things I created along the way.

Thus, I have created a cookbook to give people basic tools on how to improve the overall quality of their dietary lives without breaking the bank, denying themselves the food they love, limiting their variety or moving them so far outside of their comfort zones that they revert back to their old habits out of convenience, fear or ridicule.

It is my desire that Stories from The Kitchen will become a platform to talk truthfully about food, eating well and living healthfully. And that it will be inspiration for fabulous dinner parties and endless kitchen table conversations.

The Concept

For those of you who know me, you know that I love food and that I love talking about food.  I get pure joy from sharing the story behind the dish. I honestly believe that I leave a little piece of my heart on each plate. And that is the feeling that I want to convey in Stories from The Kitchen.

For example, it would be impossible for me to set down a platter of my “can’t believe this is not cheese” macaroni & cheese without paying homage to my mother’s baked macaroni and cheese or lamenting about all the failed attempts of making a viable cheese substitute or admitting my continual struggle to make a vegan macaroni and cheese taste good. And as it would turn out, it was equally as impossible to write a recipe without reliving the story attached to it – so I didn’t.  I invite the reader to come along with me as I recap the journey of the dishes’ evolution.  Thus, recipes accompany the stories acknowledging the traditional while offering healthier, lighter variations and vegetarian and vegan alternatives, cooking tips including substitutions.

Wanna help me?

As mentioned earlier I have been writing recipes and using them with the participants in my classes and workshops. And they have all been “tested,” but they have been tested with me on site (which allows me to tweak as necessary), and now I can use some neutral feedback. And I would love it if you would try the recipe and give me your opinion.

My plan is to include 2-3 recipes with each entry centered on a specific theme, and/or cooking techniques and methods. Some of recipes are complete with preparation and cooking time while others are missing that kind of vital information. The first one is seasonal soups

Last winter, as part of a Wellness Workshop Series, I worked with a group of people who were given a free bag of produce every week for a month. And every week the bag contained the same combination of items: butternut squash, parsnips, apples, cabbage, turnips, onions and garlic. In order to keep them interested and willing to try new things, I had to get creative…

The thing that makes both of these soups work is that the main ingredients are easily substituted. For starters, in lieu of lentils, use split peas or smashed chickpeas, or any pre-cooked hard bean like navy (northern, white) beans, small red beans, or lima beans. The squash can be replaced with sweet potatoes, pumpkin, acorn squash or a mixture of any of those with parsnips or roasted turnips. And the apples can be replaced with pears.

                       Except from ‘Pie & Soup’

                    Stories from The Kitchen: There’s Healing at the Table

 

Red Lentil and Roasted Butternut Squash soup recipe

  • Since the squash gets added at the very end, they can roast while you start the soup.

 

Prep Time: needed

Cook Time: needed 

Ingredients:

1 ½ Cups Red Lentils

1 medium Butternut Squash (pumpkin or sweet potatoes work as substitutes)

1 Small Onion (finely chopped)

1 Medium White Potato (diced in medium cubes)

12 Cloves Garlic

2 Ribs of Celery (finely chopped)

1 ½ Teaspoon Salt

¼ Teaspoon Nutmeg

¼ Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 ¼ Teaspoon Black pepper

1 Tablespoon Garlic powder

1 Tablespoon Onion powder

2 Bay Leaves

3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme

½ Cup Olive oil (divided)

8c Water or Low-Sodium Stock

Method: Peel and cut squash into cubes. Season squash with ¼ teaspoon each salt, pepper, and nutmeg; add half of the garlic, drizzle with olive oil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 40mins.

Heat the olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves and thyme; sauté 3-5 minutes. Add lentils; sauté 3 minutes. Cover with water and bring to a boil.

Let boil for 5 minutes and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are soft. Add white potatoes and cook until potatoes are done (approx. 15mins).  The lentils will continue to break down and become creamier. Add squash and stir. Adjust salt and pepper to desired taste.

 

Apple & Parsnip soup recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

1 Pound Parsnips (about 6 medium Parsnips) – turnips works as a substitute but should be

roasted first to offset the bitterness

2 Apples (medium size)

3 Large Garlic Cloves

1 Small Onion

1Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Black pepper

¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

¼ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1 Tablespoon Garlic powder

1 Tablespoon Onion powder

2 Bay Leaves

2 Cups Almond Milk

1 Can (14.5oz) Light & Fat Free Chicken Broth (College Inn makes a good one)

¼ Cup Olive Oil

 

1 Tablespoon Plain Yogurt or Crème France (per serving on the finish is a touch)

 

Method: Peel parsnips and peel and core 2 apples. Cut parsnips and apples into small pieces and keep them separate.

Chop onion and garlic but keep them separate.

The secret to keeping the color in this soup (the color of the parsnips) is to NOT let onions or parsnips brown during the sautéing process.

Heat the olive oil in a  large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté 3-5 minutes. Add parsnips; sauté 3 minutes. Add apple pieces, garlic and spices. Stir 1 minute.

Add chicken broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat. Mash until creamy (a blender makes this easier and provides a creamier finish, but is not necessary).
Once smooth, add almond milk and stir until completely mixed. Reheat and serve. Add yogurt, if desired.

2 Responses to “Stories from The Kitchen…”


  • I have had the honor and privilege to be on the receiving end of some of these recipes and though I will never eat brown rice or whole wheat pasta (not even for you) I actually love the vegetarian lasagna and the collard green salad (along with almost everything else you make) I mention these because of the theme of healthy eating; however I still want your lobster mac and cheese –but that’s another blog. I am so glad you didn’t give up on this book and I can’t wait to read it.

    I really miss you but now I have a reason to visit California– well another reason :) Love, Peace and Be Well!!!

  • Hooray! We have a ton of sweet potatoes from CSA pickup, so I’ll try the red lentil soup this weekend or next and let you know how it goes. So excited for you!!!

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