Monday, February 25, 2013

Mexican Vegetable Soup

February. The shortest month of the year always seems the longest to me. Last night I arrived home sniffling, sneezing, and starving. A quick rummage in the fridge yielded the ingredients for this fast, satisfying vegetable soup, which gets its kick from ground chile peppers (my next-door neighbor was kind enough to grind a whole bunch in her Vitamix and bring me a jar), and jarred salsa.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in your favorite soup pot. Add half of a yellow onion, 3 cloves of garlic, one or two carrots, and 3 ribs of celery. Don't worry about knife skills here, just chop it all up willy nilly. You're in a hurry, aren't you? Toss in a teaspoon of ground chile peppers. When the mixture is fragrant, add 6 cups vegetable stock (the kind from a box is fine, I'm not judging), 2 peeled and diced Yukon Gold potatoes, and 1/2 cup salsa. Simmer until the potatoes are almost tender (about 10 minutes), then throw in 2 diced zucchini, 2 cups black beans (canned are fine), and 2 cups of kale (or whatever greens you have in the fridge). Simmer for 5 minutes more. Season to taste with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and some minced cilantro and/or parsley.

There. You're done. Wasn't that easy?

Extra credit: If you want to bake up some biscuits while the soup is simmering, throw 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour into your food processor with 1/2 cup cornmeal, 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Buzz until combined, then add 3 tablespoons vegan butter, and 3 tablespoons plain coconut milk yogurt. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly (if you want to get fancy, throw in some finely chopped jalapeno with the fats), then run the food processor while you pour in 3/4 cup soy, rice, or hemp milk. If you are a Luddite, just put it all in a bowl, mash in the fats with a couple of forks, then stir in the milk. Spray a cast iron skillet with cooking spray, then divide your biscuit mixture into 8 biscuity-looking lumps and throw it in a 400 degree oven while the soup simmers. Your buttery, hot, not-at-all-fancy biscuits will be ready in 12-15 minutes.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cure Your Winter Blues

"All nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair. 
The bees are stirring, birds are on the wing 
And Winter, slumbering in the open air
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Ah, January. Frigid temperatures, days of cloudy weather, and of course, the dreaded cold or flu bug. My new friend Isabel recently looked at me, huddled in pajamas on a Saturday night, sniffling miserably as I amassed a small mountain of tissues and teacups, and declared, "You need to make ginger soup. Now." She was right!

I set out to create a quick medicinal soup that would cure and comfort me, and since that first pot, I've been practically living on the stuff. With homemade vegetable stock in the freezer, and a few readily available ingredients, you can be enjoying a bowl of hot, gingery, brothy goodness in about 20 minutes. Each ingredient brings its own medicinal qualities, and the flavor is light, spicy, and comforting. While many reach for chicken soup when a cold is coming on, studies have shown that a soup of lightly cooked vegetables has similar symptom-relieving benefits.

The recipe:
1 cup jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions
1 TB. sesame oil
2" piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
6 cups homemade vegetable stock
1 tsp. tamari
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed well
6 oz. (1 package) fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
8 leaves kale, sliced into thin ribbons
juice of 1/2 lemon
hot sauce, such as Sriracha, to taste

Heat sesame oil in a medium sauce pan over medium high  heat. Add ginger, garlic, and white parts of scallions. Stir for 1 minute, then add carrot and celery. Stir for 1 minute more, then add vegetable stock, tamari, and dried shiitakes.
Simmer soup for 15 minutes, then add fresh shiitakes and kale. Simmer 5 minutes more. Remove dried shiitake mushrooms (compost them, or save them in the freezer for stock).
Remove from heat, and add lemon juice and a little Sriracha.
Divide rice among four bowls, then add hot broth and veggies. Garnish each bowl of soup with reserved green scallion slices.

  • In addition to curing nausea and stomach upset, ginger provides anti-inflammatory and painkilling qualities.
  • Garlic offers natural antibiotic and antiviral benefits - use it generously when you're feeling under the weather.
  • Shiitake mushrooms provide immune system support, B Vitamins, and plenty of iron. Shiitake broth is often used to cure headaches, too.
  • Kale is rich in antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K, and provides calcium, B vitamins, and cleansing phytonutrients.
  • Scallions cleanse the blood and, since they are a leafy green, are richer in vitamins and phytonutrients than other alliums, such as onions. 
  • Jasmine rice is fragrant and easily digested.
A big bowl of hot soup is the perfect comfort food. This recipe makes enough to serve four generously, or you can save it all for yourself. If you're making a big batch to put in the fridge, store soup and rice separately, then heat and combine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy 100th birthday, Nana

Today would have been my Nana's 100th birthday. I'm taking a break from writing my first cookbook, even though I shouldn't, because I haven't accomplished much today anyway. I've been uncharacteristically unproductive all day, and even had to go lie down in the middle of the afternoon to have a good cry. I think I feel her absence more this year than any before, as Gram is no longer here to fill the space she left behind, the one that only your grandmother can fill.She cared for us when we were sick, and loved us unconditionally, even when we maybe didn't completely deserve it.

Nana was ahead of her time in some ways, and hopelessly old-fashioned in others. She was a career woman, a nurse, at a time when most "girls" were concerned primarily with marriage and child-rearing. She married my grandfather, a labor organizer, at the age of 36, and proceeded, in sturdy Catholic fashion, to have six children. She raised them pretty much on her own, too, dealing with my grandfather's long battle with Parkinson's disease, the harassment they endured from the McCarthy commission, her own serious health issues, and a houseful of children who were, from what they have told us, a handful. She drove a car one time only, with famously bad results, and walked everywhere for the rest of her life. She said her rosary nightly and always took us to church, after which she would inform us that we could not misbehave, because we were in a state of grace. Tiny lawyers each of us, we would immediately begin negotiating the terms and limitations of said state, and she put up with it all with patience and love.

I wish she had been around long enough to see that I turned out OK, even though I still have a filthy mouth for which I will probably go to purgatory, if not straight to hell as she predicted. I was fourteen when she died, and to say that I was a monster would be a grave understatement. I wish she could see that I made something wonderful out of my life. I wish she could have met my husband, because I think he might have reminded her of her own a little bit. I wish she knew that my sister and brother are my best friends in the world, because we were pretty much beating the crap out of each other around the clock for the last few years of her life, and it made her sad. I hope she knows how sorry we are.

I also wish she'd stuck around long enough to meet Bill. She only missed him by a few months. I wish she could have met the rest of the amazing little people who came along in the next few years, and known the extraordinary adults they've each become. Most particularly, I would have really loved to know what she would have made of Chelsea. Really, what WOULD she have made of Chelsea?

I feel her with me at times. She was there the first time I held Rebecca, and Nicholas, and all of Ami's babies, too. She is there at our weddings, and holds each of her granddaughter's hands if they shake a little when we put her earrings on to help us remember she's there. She's in the kitchen when we cook a particularly delicious Thanksgiving dinner, or a spectacularly atrocious pancake breakfast. She's there if I happen to put on a pair of shorts that may be a little too short, and then take them off again because I hear her voice warning me of the consequences. She was definitely next to me when I helped to deliver my first litter of kittens. She's right here when I look out my windows and know that I'm looking at the same trees she saw when she looked out her own. And, of course, she's here whenever one of us looks at someone dressed outrageously, and exclaims (or maybe just thinks), "Would you look at the getup on that one?". I'm happy that some things we shared have remained the same, even though I've come so far since I last saw her.

She's here when I look at my aunts and uncles, and my mother, and see glimpses of her face, her expressions, and her love for her grandchildren. I see her in my cousins, too, especially as we begin to grow older. I think she would be pleased to know how her family has stayed together, when it's so easy to drift apart.

I hope they have cats in heaven, Nana. I hope Gram is there with you, and Grandpa, and Catherine, and Mae, and that you're all proud of us. I hope they have rocking chairs, and hot cups of tea, and soda bread baked in a cast-iron frying pan, and that everyone gets to take a nap after Days of our Lives. Save me a seat. And a cat for my lap. And know that I miss and love you always.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Join me for a cooking class on January 22nd

Please join me for my next vegan cooking class at Aquarian Yoga Center in Montclair! Turning Inward: Nourishing Soups and Salads for Winter will teach you to nourish your body and spirit with delicious whole foods: warming soups, nutritious salads and homemade sprouts. I hope to see you there!

Sunday, January 22nd at 4pm. COST: $35. Please join us for a vegan cooking class, "Turning Inward," with Trish Sebben-Krupka. Registration is required! The class will feature: Making Your Own Sprouts, Sprouted Lentil and Winter Vegetable Soup, Sprouted Guacamole, Wild Mushroom and Root Vegetable Bisque, Warm Red Cabbage and Apple Salad, Roasted Fennel and Carrot Soup, and Beet Carpaccio. Registration fee includes class, recipes to take home, and dinner. Stay tuned for upcoming cooking workshops including: February 26th - "Vegan Cooking for Beauty and Vitality."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vegan Cooking Class to Benefit Animal Rescue

On Sunday, November 20th, we will offer our first vegan cooking class at Aquarian Yoga Center. Please join us at 2pm for a
Kitchari is a traditional Ayurvedic recipe used for cleansing and fasting. It is delicious, easy to digest and assimilate, and easy to make. Vegan chef Trish Sebben-Krupka will show you how easy it is to make kitchari, explain its health benefits, and teach you how to customize it for your health and body type. At the end of class, we’ll enjoy a delicious meal together. Kitchari is the perfect food to enjoy as your body transitions to winter, and a fantastic healing food for seasonal ailments.
This is a donation-based class.
All of Trish’s proceeds will be donated to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Society. Please register in advance – email to reserve your space in this class.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Squash

We're entering Week Five of our CSA, and I have to admit that we're already experiencing a bit of summer squash fatigue. We've enjoyed romanesco zucchini, pattypan squash, traditional zucchini, yellow squash, cousa and yellow zucchini in a variety of ways: roasted, stuffed and sauteed, in lasagne, pasta sauces, casseroles, breakfast scrambles, and tacos. The freezer is filling up nicely, bringing me closer to my goal of enjoying several meals a week from the summer growing season throughout the winter.

During the early flush of zucchini love, I made zucchini tacos. Nothing could be simpler. For about four servings, I sauteed a large onion in some olive oil, then added six smallish zucchini, seeded and diced, along with salt, pepper, a little garlic and chile powder. I made a quick pico de gallo with the first tomatoes from the farm, and a jalapeno picked fresh from our front lawn, where jalapenos and cherry peppers grow among the wildflowers. I finished the dish with warm corn tortillas and some broccoli slaw, along with a squeeze of fresh lime and a few drops of hot sauce. Ten minutes of work, and lunch was complete.

I'll be on my way to the farm shortly, and I know more summer squash await. I reminded my husband last night that what seems tiresome to us right now will surely be appreciated on a cold December night, so this week I'll be freezing a casserole of onions, tomatoes, fresh herbs and summer squash topped with a light bechamel, and also plan to serve this simple salad of Lebanese zucchini (cousa) with hot peppers.

Roasted Cousa with Pepper Salad

Cousa is a Lebanese summer squash similar to zucchini. This fast and easy dish is a twist on a traditional Lebanese recipe, replacing fried squash with warm, roasted squash, topped with a zingy salad of peppers and scallions.

6 medium cousa, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal ½” thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienne sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienne sliced
1 hot cherry pepper, seeded and julienne sliced OPTIONAL
½ bunch (about 4 oz.) fresh scallions, white and green parts, sliced on the diagonal
½ cup loosely packed, torn mint leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss sliced cousa in a large bowl with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper. Place squash on rimmed baking sheets, and roast for 10-15 minutes, until squash is lightly colored but still firm. Arrange squash on a serving platter.

Meanwhile, toss peppers, scallions and mint with lemon juice and a tablespoon of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top warm roasted cousa with pepper salad. Serve immediately.

Serves four to six

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spinach and Tomatoes - eat what's in season!

Please check out my latest article for One Green Planet! Tomatoes and spinach are fresh and plentiful at your local market now...I hope you enjoy these delicious and easy to prepare recipes.