Simplicity

Just thought I’d share my favorite quick meal with you all: A baked potato (microwaved) topped with steamed spinach (from frozen, also microwaved), and a big scoop of hummus (this one is curry hummus). Topped with a drizzle of sriracha, this is an easy, tasty, healthy meal that anyone can enjoy. Cheap too!

  

Easier Kale Salad for Lazy Busy People, aka Me

I’ve spent so much time singing the praises of Dreena Burton’s Kale Slaw with Curried Almond Dressing from her wonderful book Let Them Eat Vegan (go buy it now.  NOW.)  I’ve served it at countless parties and never once found someone who doesn’t like it (exception being my family because they are weird.  (I love you)).  Die-hard junk foodies and meat-and-potatoes men have gone for seconds of this green ambrosia.  You should make it!  Really really do.

I was going to make it myself yesterday to counteract my weekend junk food binge, but had trouble mustering the energy because I was missing several dressing ingredients.  Plus I didn’t feel like hauling out the food processor or blender.  So I had a great idea.  Over the weekend I picked up some weird “40 spices” hummus at my local inadequate grocery store.  It was pretty strong and I wasn’t crazy about it on my pretzels, but I thought it might be a good sub for the dressing on my kale.  So I thinned it out with some lemon juice (from a bottle!  Please go buy a real lemon.) and other stuff and voila!  Passable dressing.

So here it is. All amounts are approximate because Penny Parsnip doesn’t measure ever.

Lazy Kale Slaw

Ingredients:

1 big bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces

couple of carrots, thinly sliced or julienned (or buy pre-shredded carrots like a true lazy person)

4 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced (optional)

handful of raisins or craisins

1 apple finely diced or julienned, tossed with some lemon juice

1/2 a small tub of your favorite or least favorite spicy hummus.  I used Tribe 40 Spices hummus.

lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup or honey

assorted dry seasonings like garlic powder, mustard, or dried herbs to jazz it up

1.  Toss the veggies together in a giant bowl.

2.  Whisk the lemon juice or vinegar into the hummus until it is thinned out a bit, adding more to taste.  You want it to still be pretty strong, since it will be clinging to a lot of veggies.  Season to taste, and thin it to about the consistency of a thick bottled ranch dressing, but no thicker than mayonnaise.  Does that make sense?

3.  Pour the dressing over the veg and mix with your hands to distribute it evenly over the greens.  Really massage the leaves so they soften up a bit, and make sure all the small stuff doesn’t sink to the bottom.

Enjoy!  Let me know if you find any interesting combinations.  You could put all kinds of vegetables in; the original recipe calls for fennel.  I often use shredded raw beets.  Some red bell pepper would be good in there, or some nice fresh corn if you can still get it this late in the year.

Penny Parsnip in Pittsburgh

Hello Readers! I’ve been on hiatus for a while now, moving to and getting settled in to my new home: Pittsburgh, PA. This hasn’t left much time for fun creative cooking. I’ve been eating old favorites like black bean stew and endless combos of beans, rice, and fresh veggies. All the while, I’ve been wearing the soles of my shoes thin by walking all over this beautiful city. Pittsburgh is a pleasant mix of yesterday and today. Old factories and warehouses and falling down houses dot the landscape, while folded in are new buildings, brightly painted townhouses, hip small businesses and cheery murals.

Gorgeous store in The Strip District

Gorgeous store in The Strip District

Nearly two months later, I’m finally feeling at home:  I’ve got a room in a big old house with some other women and a fluffy cat, complete with a giant kitchen.  My dear friend Dorothy the food processor is out of storage, and as the days cool into crisp autumn weather, I’ll be back to whirring vegetables into little bits and boiling big pots of beans.  I have a job I like, doing fundraising for non-profits, and my neighborhood is very much like Brooklyn.

I spent last weekend with my family in the country, baking pies for our church festival.  Not too many, just four dozen ;).   And since I still had some energy left after baking the pies, I whipped up a birthday cake for my older brother and sister using my grandmother’s recipe.  It has eggs in it, so I won’t share it here, but I used soymilk in place of cow and no one knew the difference.

Silver-white layer cake, topped with fruit because I am terrible at at making icing look good.

Silver-white layer cake, topped with fruit because I am terrible at at making icing look good.

But now that that sugar-rush weekend is done, it’s back to healthy eating again.  I’m making my daily green smoothies again, and cooking stir-fry for lunch.  I’ve got kombucha brewing in hopes of finding some new customers.  Right now I’ve got a big batch of chickpeas bubbling on the stove to make hummus for our house party on Friday (and some for my little brother who is bringing the tahini.)  Plus I’m revamping some chili into a pot of quinoa and spinach laced glop for tonight’s dinner at work.  I’ve also developed a mild obsession with peanut sauce dumped on all of my veggies, so I’ll share with you a loose approximation of how to make it.

Peanut Sauce

Ingredients:

big blob of peanut butter (I like all-natural stuff, but Jif and Skippy are fine too)

Soy sauce

Rice vinegar (or whatever you have, apple cider is fine too)

a bit of sugar (maple syrup, honey, agave, etc)

Something hot like red pepper flakes, cayenne, or Sriracha

finely minced ginger and/or garlic 

a little water to thin, if needed

1.  Whisk it all together until combined and season to taste.  Sorry for the lack of measuring here, I just eyeball it and keep adding and tasting until it’s good.

More great recipes to come!  I’ve been challenged to make a healthy hot-pocket, so stay tuned!

Scattered

If you’ve been looking for new recipes lately and been disappointed, I apologize. I’m exhausted and haven’t had much time or energy to innovate in the kitchen. Between taking on a second job and getting back into painting (my other vocation), there has been little thought put into my food. Naturally, this affects how I feel; I know my energy has waned in part because I’ve been eating wacky meals. My brain is scattered and I end up doing things like overcooking beans (see last post), or cooking them and leaving them on the stove all day, only to have to put the whole pot in the fridge before I dash off to work. Then I forget to do something with them, and end up eating a really stupid meal the next day, like chickpeas with hot sauce and a slice of toast, with some carrots because I don’t have any other vegetables.

Thus, I must tell you about all the quick and easy things I am managing to eat! I managed to make some hummus a few days ago, to eat with raw veggies.  (Turns out I like raw broccoli now. Guess you have to keep trying old things as well as new.)  Good start, as hummus can also go on a sandwich, be thinned out and tossed with pasta, or be jazzed up with new seasonings when you get sick of it after a few days. I’m thinking of turning this batch into baba ghanouj later.

Then there’s soup, that ubiquitous star of my diet.  February in New York requires soup. I’ve been feeling home sick, so I made cabbage soup. My mom makes hers with the ham bone from Christmas. I make mine with loads of veggies, mushrooms, and navy beans. Soup is a good choice for busy people, since you can put it on the stove or in a slow cooker and forget it without doing much harm. I’ve also started chopping veggies in my food processor to save time (I ❤ my food processor).  AND it’s a good thing I made a lot of it since I came down with strep this weekend; I don’t feel like eating much and I definitely don’t feel like cooking.

These things, combined with green smoothies (and dark chocolate!), are rounding out my diet for the moment. Not the most exciting fare, but it gets the job done.

Now, since I’m feeling so uninspired (in the kitchen, anyways), tell me what YOU want to see on The Penny Parsnip. Give me some ideas, I’ll come up with something eventually  (like when I’m done with my antibiotics), I promise! I could always come up with a parsnip smoothie, since that phrase is what leads so many people to my blog. But for the record, a parsnip smoothie sounds gross.

Go forth! Inspire me!

Test-Driving My New Baby

Yesterday, I took my jar of pennies to Manhattan and bought my very first grown-up appliance: The Cuisinart Custom 14 Food Processor.  Just about everything else I own has been bought second-hand or a gift, so I felt an immense amount of pride and pleasure handing over the cash I have been carefully saving for the past few months.  I grinned the whole way home on the subway, lugging this heavy box.

Upon arriving home, I immediately unpacked it, washed all the parts, and read the instructions, all the while plotting what to make first.  Burgers?  Hummus?  Cole slaw?  Then while surfing the net, I came across this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Dreena Burton’s Plant Powered Kitchen.  Sold!  A new kind of hummus, and I get to put my new toy to the test.  Since you can read the recipe on Dreena’s site, I’ll take you through the process briefly in pictures, and tell you about the minor adjustments I made.

I subbed apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice because I forgot to buy lemons, and used 2T of tahini instead of the cashew butter.

Getting started!

Next it was time to blend!  Here it is before I added the raisins.  I decided at this point that it wasn’t yellow enough for me and needed more turmeric.  The processor ran so quietly and smoothly!

Almost done!

 

 

Finally I added the raisins.  I used 3T, and I think next time I will use only 2.  It’s just slightly sweeter than I’d prefer.  All in all, completely delicious, and came together in less than 15 minutes!  I’m enjoying it now with fresh raw okra, and excitedly thinking about what to twirl around tomorrow.

Hummus

The heat is on in Brooklyn and all I feel like eating are raw veggies and watermelon.  Sounds like it’s time for some hummus!

The first few times I made it, I measured everything very carefully, following the recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian to the letter. These days, I eyeball it, tweaking it to my taste that particular week.  I also completely cut out the olive oil from that recipe with great results. Therefore, feel free to take liberties with these guidelines.

Since the weather is hot this week and I just returned from a lengthy vacation, I used canned chickpeas, but normally I cook them myself. The results are better with home-cooked because you can use the flavorful cooking liquid to thin the hummus out to your desired consistency.

Hummus

2 cups drained well-cooked chickpeas, liquid reserved (or a can of rinsed, drained beans and some water)

1/4 – 1/2 cup tahini, or to taste (You can even leave this out if you don’t have it or are allergic)

2 or more cloves garlic, peeled

juice of one lemon and/or a few tablespoons apple cider vinegar (I like a little of both)

1 tablespoon cumin or more to taste

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth in a food processor or blender, adding more bean-cooking liquid or water as necessary to keep things running smoothly.

2. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, tahini, garlic or lemon juice/vinegar as desired.

Ideas for Variations (all off which I have tried):  Add lemon zest if you really love lemon (I don’t, but my dad enjoys it).  Roasted garlic instead of raw.  Roasted red peppers (you’ll need a little less liquid).  Fresh herbs.  Sun-dried tomatoes and basil (yumyumyum).  The options are endless.

Tips:  Add liquid very slowly in small amounts so you don’t end up with hummus soup! Taste frequently to figure out what you like.  When in doubt, get a second opinion or let it rest over night to allow the flavors to marry.

A few times when I’ve been overzealous with a certain ingredient and gotten frustrated, I’ve put the result in the freezer for a few weeks until I feel like messing with it again.  It’ll get a little watery after thawing, but over all does pretty well, and allows you to start over.  No messed up hummus can’t be fixed!  You can also freeze it if you make too much hummus.