Christmas Dinner: Celery Root Gratin

Merry Christmas!  What’s on your dinner table?  I made this, from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Delicious and nutritious, just like all holiday meals should be!  This gratin can also be made with parsnips, if you can’t find celery root for a good price.  I think that makes this the first recipe on this blog that actually includes parsnips 🙂

Improv Soup

When I was a broke college student, I used to take a little bit of everything I had in my fridge or freezer and throw in a pot of water to make what I called “Improv Soup.”  It usually consisted of onion, carrots, celery, frozen mixed vegetables, maybe some leftover beans, and either potatoes or pasta.  If I was really feeling extravagant, I’d add a can of tomatoes.  I don’t have occasion to make it much anymore (hooray for paychecks!), but I think it’s something everyone should be able to make.

Today I’m home for the holidays, it’s snowing, and I’m feeling a bit under the weather.  I spent the better part of the day in bed, and when I finally crawled out I needed something wholesome to help me kick my cold.  Enter Improv Soup.  Here’s today’s blend.  Substitute at will.

Ingredients:

pot of boiling water

1 bay leaf

small potato

small onion

a clove or two of garlic

1 carrot or a handful of baby carrots

1 stalk celery

4 button mushrooms

frozen lima beans or peas

handful of baby spinach or thaw some frozen spinach (or other greens)

Seasonings:  I used salt, pepper, a dash of hot sauce, and some poultry seasoning.

1.  Put the water on to boil with the bay leaf.  While it heats up, dice the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, mushrooms, and potato and add them to the pot.  Then add the frozen limas/peas

2.  Simmer for 10-20 mins until the vegetables are soft.  Season to taste, then stir in the baby spinach and cover the pot for a few minutes until the spinach wilts.

3.  Enjoy breathing in lots of steam to clear the sinuses, drinking delicious hot broth, and knowing that you’re getting vitamin C and potassium from the potato, vitamin A from the carrots, protein and fiber from the beans, iron from the spinach, and countless good things from the onion, garlic, and mushrooms.

Now it’s back to bed, because being sick for Christmas would be super lame.

Millet Breakfast Porridge

Last week I was browsing the bulk bins at the local co-op for something new and exciting to mix up my whole grain routine and I noticed that millet was a good price ($1.49/lb!). That’s considerably less than quinoa, which usually runs about $3.99/lb at its cheapest.  I didn’t know what I would do with it when I brought it home, but life must be going my way because my latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated featured an article titled “Beyond Rice: A Guide to Other Grains.”  There it was, a millet recipe!  I veganized it and doctored it up for my breakfast this morning.  I often make something similar with quinoa, but this is the holiday season.  Who can afford quinoa this time of year?

Milllet Breakfast Porridge

1 cup millet

2 1/2  cups water

1/2 cup soymilk (or other plant milk)

2 Tbls maple syrup or honey

dried fruit of your choice (I used a combo of apricots, cherries, cranberries, and raisins)

cinnamon, cardamom, and any other spices you like (nutmeg, cloves, ginger, etc)

toasted nuts (optional)

1.  Simmer the millet and water until most of the liquid is absorbed (like making rice or other grains), about 20 mins.

2.  Add soymilk, maple syrup, dried fruits, and spices.  Continue to simmer, covered, for 5-10 more minutes, until the millet is creamy.  Add more hot water or milk if it starts getting dry.

3.  Serve topped with toasted nuts and more cinnamon and milk, if desired.

I did a little research while I was writing this: Millet is an excellent source of many nutrients, including folate, niacin, magnesium, thiamin, and many others!  Eat up!  This is also good leftover.  I made this recipe last three or four days.  Just add some more milk to keep it moist, then microwave it.