Bee Bim Bop – Korean Stir Fry

This dinner has a lovely beginning.  Before the sauteing, before the boiling, before the chopping…. before the garden and the grocery store.  Before all that came the children’s book.  My son and I stumbled on this lovely book in our neighborhood library when he was 5.

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The book tells the tale of a little girl shopping with her mother to purchase the ingredients for a Korean dish called Bee Bim Bop.  It rhymes and bounces along happily and on the very last page there awaits a recipe.  My then 5 year old son wanted to try it.  So we did and it has been a staple at our house in the 9 years since we read the book :-)

The recipe can be made with or without meat, although I do believe that the egg is a wonderful addition.  I make it with veggies and egg now, but I used to use chicken.

Whichever way you try it, it’s delicious and if you have small children, this book is a great place to start to introduce them to something new.  In fact, it would make a lovely time to read it and then cook it together.  Nothing says try me like something you’ve cooked yourself!

This is my take on the recipe from the book – meatless and, in true Pantry style – with the veggies I had on hand.

Ingredients:
2 cups brown rice
2 cloves of garlic
4 scallions, sliced, including most of the green
5 Tbsp soy sauce (I use Bragg’s liquid aminos)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used avocado)
1 Tbsp roasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon roasted (or raw) sesame seeds (optional)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 carrots
a head of broccoli cut into florets
2 cups fresh spinach
4 eggs
salt and pepper
Tabasco sauce

If you want to use meat, then cut down the amount of vegetables and mix the garlic, soy sauce, scallions, sugar and sesame oil and marinate while cutting veggies / doing other prep.

Set rice to cooking at the beginning so it will be done in time.

Scramble the eggs and set aside – get out small fry pan to cook a thin layer of egg 4 times.  Oil the bottom as necessary for your pan.

For meatless version:

Mix soy sauce, sugar, sesame seeds, sesame oil and pepper.

Place vegetable oil in a frying pan and saute the minced or pressed garlic and the scallions.

Cook until translucent and fragrant.  Add the chopped veggies.

While veggies cook (not too long – keep ‘em green and bright!) Pour 1/4 egg into pan at a time and cook about 1 minute each side.

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When all 4 ‘omelettes’ are done, stack them and slice into ribbons.  I usually cut into ribbons and ten cut the ribbons in half.

Turn off the heat on your veggies and add the spinach. Stir it in to wilt.

Serve over rice with egg strips on top – and a bit of tabasco makes a wonderful addition to this.  If you want to be authentic you serve Kim Chee with it – a Korean spicy fermented cabbage that can be purchased ready made in many places.

Mix it all up – that’s what bee-bim means, ‘Mix mix’.

The original recipe encourages you to cook each item separately and then allow people to choose what they want.  That’s a lovely way to do it but on most nights I’m thinking, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”  But if you do it’s yet another way to engage hesitant eaters…. at least they have a little say on what goes in the bowl!

Nice alternative veggies would be cabbage, mung bean sprouts would be good on top, or other hearty greens.

However you do it – this is a wonderful alternative taste to stir-fry.

To serve, put bowls of all the different meal components on the table and allow each family member to serve themselves. Pile the meat and veggies on top of the rice and top with the egg. Add some of the “gravy” from the cooked meat. Finally, mix (remember, “bee-bim” means “mix”) everything together. And enjoy!

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Super Easy Freezer Pickles

 photo IMG_0689.jpgI may have mentioned it already, but I have a cucumber problem this year. I haven’t had a cucumber problem in many, many years. I can only assume that our relatively cool summer prevented the nasty powdery mildew and other humidity related diseases that eventually do in all of my curcurbits. In surveying my cucumber bounty, I knew there was only one answer, to pickle some of them. Big Sis and I have already shared some pickle preparations, but they aren’t really meant for the long haul, sort of more of a 10 day window on those puppies. My past experiences with hot water canning for pickles left a bad and totally non crunchy pickle taste in my mouth.

 photo IMG_0687.jpgAnd so in honor of our cool summer, I turned from one temperature extreme to the other in search of a perfect freezer pickle recipe. I found this one, and then didn’t follow it. :-) Who on earth needs 4 cups of sugar in anything? Not this momma. And I assume that the turmeric was added for the sake of color – to make them look more like commercial pickles, which use yellow food dye to look like what? What would happen if we all just decided greenish pickles are okay? But, I digress. I hustled out to the store and picked up some of these babies. I could use glass, and with a vinegar based brine I usually would, however, one of my kids’ new chores is to do the fetch it run from the downstairs freezer and I had visions of freezer pickles all over the basement. So I went with plastic.

This couldn’t have been easier. These won’t last as long as water bath pickles would, but given the reaction my kids had to the batch I prepared last week, they won’t make it until winter anyway.

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  • 8 pounds cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2T salt
  • 1 1/2 c maple syrup (oh yes I did)
  • 1 c white vinegar
  • 1 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t celery seed
  • 1 t mustard seed

In a large container (I had to use my largest pot), combine cucumbers, onion, and salt and let sit for 3 hours, stirring periodically. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 2-3 hours. Drain and rinse cucumbers and onions. Add liquid to cucumbers (being sure to get them out of the strainer first… I’ve done such things). Pack in 1 pint containers, being sure to leave at least an inch at the top for freezer expansion. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Thaw in fridge, consume with a week or so. Crunchy, sour, sweet, delish!
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Creamy Roasted Tomato Pasta (DF)

 photo IMG_0756.jpgI don’t quite understand it, but my tomato cherry tomato plants just keep going. They look terrible. An ill-timed vacation left the plants vulnerable to the one two punch of japanese beetles and grasshoppers, but they don’t seem to have gotten the message that they’re kaput. And so I keep going out and gathering a few at a time. I have standard cherry tomatoes and these wonderful yellow pear shaped ones that I grew from seeds my Mom got for me while visiting Monticello. Yes, these are Thomas Jefferson’s tomatoes. What former history teacher wouldn’t geek out about that?!

At any rate, I featured these tomatoes in a an easy and satisfying dinner last night that got a 100% approval rating – yes, folks you heard me right. Last night I defeated Ms. Picky Pants. Granted it was pasta, so it’s kind of cheating, and I deconstructed the dish so she could have some control over the ratio of the elements, but the pasta had the creamy goodness already on it, and pre-sauced pasta without complaint is a victory over here! I take what I can get. We’d had a few not thrilled with dinner nights in a row, so I decided it was time for a dish that stood a better chance of at least being consumed without complaint.

 photo IMG_0753.jpgWhat makes this pasta meal special is three main elements. The creamy goodness (here I’ve used my friend Annie’s cashew cream which I think I could write a book on because it’s so wonderful), the roasted tomatoes (if you’ve not done this you have really been missing out), and the fresh herbs. The cashew cream provides just the right amount of cream feeling without the clumpiness of sunflower cheese or real dairy ricotta. And roasting tomatoes? Nothing brings out the sweetness like a little roast. Throw in a little olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar and you’ve got a dresser upper for just about any dish. Fresh herbs? I say yes please!

The original version of this dish is here on Meatless Monday’s website, a great resource if you are looking for vegetarian meal ideas. Because my version is pretty close, I’m just going to cover a few highlights. In changing this recipe for my family, I removed the dairy, increased the pasta amount (because leftovers are good), and left the components separate (aside from combining the cream and pasta) because this is a more successful strategy with my children. You could also choose to use gluten free pasta or veggie noodles like these.

Roasting Tomatoes: To achieve super goodness, preheat the oven to about 350. Place clean tomatoes in a baking dish. Add olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and a dash of salt. Stir to ensure tomatoes all have contact with the other yum. Place in oven and cook until tomatoes have cracked skins and have begun to release their juice. Mine took 35 minutes, with a goose up to 425 for the last 5 minutes. Your kitchen will smell heavenly.

While the tomatoes are roasting, boil your pasta, chop your herbs, and if you have some toast some pine nuts in a pan. If you don’t have pine nuts, walnuts would also make a nice addition to this dish.

Creaminess: As I said, I used cashew cream for my version and simply added just enough to the dish to ensure that noodles all had some cream, but were not drowning. Many dishes with cheeses and cream sauces go overboard in my opinion, so I usually start with less than the recipe calls for and see how that looks.

Herbs: Fresh basil makes this dish absolutely sing. The combo with the tomatoes is a natural, and the basil cuts through the cream in a way that makes the dish lighter feeling, more summery. We also put chopped fresh parsley on ours.

Other veggies. After our initial taste, which garnered universal approval, Mr. Little Sis and I began our usual varia-bowl treatment by adding fresh spinach and other chopped veggies we had in the fridge. This would be a great place to use some zucchini noodles.

So there you go, another way to use that summer bounty, and to enjoy those flavors while they linger. May all your pasta be delicious and all of your meals garner 100% approval (or at least 75). Delish!

 

Cool Cucumber Soup with Herbed Cucumber Relish (DF)

 photo IMG_0726.jpgI have cucumbers coming out of my ears – and no Big Brothers, I did not eat a seed. I can only assume that our relatively cool Maryland summer has delayed the usual onset of powdery mildew (which has now arrived and I’m combatting according to Big Sis’ suggestion) long enough for my cucumber plants to go bananas, so to speak. I’ve regularly been harvesting not just 1 or 2, but anywhere from 6 to 16 (yes, I said 16) delicious cukes from my 4 cucumber plants. What variety is doing so well in my not very well tended garden? I have no idea. Seed mixups are a real bummer. I digress.

In order to take advantage of my cuke bounty, we’ve been experimenting with some things, and I’ll share more of them over the next few weeks before it snows and puts an end to this whole summer bounty thing. Today, while it is relatively hot, I’ll share a lovely cooling use for all those wonderful cukes.

If you’ve been playing along for a while, you already know how I feel about Deborah Madison. In addition to my Deborah Madison cooking bible, I have a slimmer volume dedicated only to soups, because I really like soup. In this beautifully produced and photographed cookbook, there are a few cool soups perfect for beastly weather. Last night I was inspired by her Cool Cucumber Soup, although as usual I was compelled to make some changes. At any rate we had an 85% approval rating (meaning Picky Pants initially enjoyed it and changed her mind later). So, for all you cucumber lovers, or just those of you who like the sound of an easy cooling meal made from the most abundant veggie out there right now…

Cool Cucumber Soup with Herbed Cucumber Relish (DF) adapted (and made larger and milder) from Deborah Madison’s version in Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen(serves 4)

Soup

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  • 2 pounds cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 c cashew cream (here, from our lovely friend Annie) or yogurt or sour cream
  • 3/4 c herbs (I used dill, basil, and parsley to great effect
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • zest and juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Relish

  • 1 pound cucumbers
  • 2 T chopped scallions
  • 1 T dill
  • 2 T chopped basil and parsley
  • 2 t olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

Peel and seed the cucumbers – dice 1/3 of them (or one pound) and set aside for the relish. While I often recommend skipping peeling and such, in this case I peeled to remove the bitterness sometimes in the skins. Coarsely chop remaining cukes and place in blender with the rest of the ingredients for the soup. Blitz until smooth. Place in fridge to chill. Yes, that’s it. No, I’m not joking.

Just before serving, combine ingredients for relish in bowl and stir. Done. No muss, no fuss, no cucumbers wasted. Delish. Happy super late summer!

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Blueberry Pie w/ sweet potato & walnut crust- GF/DF

I do love sneaking the vegetables into places where no vegetable has gone before.  Vegetablization is like charting new territory and is great for your health ;-)  What better place to vegetablize than in places where I used to use gluten and can no longer due to Mr. Bigg Sis’ dietary constraints?  But don’t let no need to lose gluten slow you down here, because more vegetablizing is always a good, and in this case, a delicious thing.

You may recall that in the past I presented you with a walnut crusted apple pie.  It’s delicious but turns out more like a cobbler when all is said and done.  So I am still interested engaging the search for a healthy GF crust…. and will go back to the cobbler-y things if it doesn’t work, right?  Or try Little Sis’ nectarine cream pie with a walnut crust which is also GF / DF.  Oh the possibilities are endless…. and this possibility I combined the idea for a sweet potato crust (also tasty and cobbler-ish) with the walnut idea to see if that might yield something a bit more pie-like.

Blueberry Pie with Sweet Potato/Walnut crust

crust
2 cups shredded sweet potato
1 cup walnuts
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp maple syrup
1 pinch salt

3 c blueberries (mine were frozen at home)
1/4 c sugar
1/4 + 1/8 oats (that’s 1/4 cup and then about a half again of a 1/4 cup measure)

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a pie plate (I used coconut oil)
Shred the sweet potato in the food processor

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Take it out and put all the other crust ingredients in the food processor and reduce to a fine crumble

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Add the sweet potato back in and process into a mash

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Spread the mash into the bottom of a greased pie plate (I found fingers more effective than a spoon)
Bake at 375 for 15 – 20 minutes or until it starts to get a little crisp.  If your crust is a little thin it will crisp better, but the thick crust was nice as well – just spread out well and evenly and up the sides

While the crust is baking, mix the blueberries, sugar and oats
Pour into crust when it has baked

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.  You can cover the top with foil if you like to protect the edges of the crust.

Feed it to happy, intrepid, inter-vegetable travellers…

20140831_184827-001 Now I will say that this came out a bit cobbler-ish as well, but the edges of the pie crust were crispy, so I”m thinking that if I made it a little thinner and cooked it a little longer prior to filling that it might come out more crispy.  On the other hand, this really rocked, and all 3 of us had seconds… so why mess with it?

20140831_184835-001May your September be full of pie!

 

 

Pleasing Picky Pants…Oven Baked Carrot Fries

I have an unwritten policy as regards dinner planning in my house. It’s important to remind you all that I am the mother of one VERY picky eater. When I say picky I don’t just mean that she makes faces when she eats or that she really loves the foods that all children love most.  When I say picky I mean my daughter has about 5 foods in the world that she enjoys, the rest is either nearly tolerable or yucky. We spend a LOT of time in nearly tolerable. When I plan a few days worth of meals I attempt to ensure that at least every few days I make something that Ms. Picky Pants might actually almost enjoy (even if it’s not one of the top 5). If I know the main dish isn’t anywhere near the top 5, I try to make up for it with sides she might like to ensure some level of dinner time tranquility. Which brings us to tonight.

Having backed myself into a grocery corner by running out of time yesterday, I was committed to having my beloved nutshroom burgers. I should mention that Mr. Little Sis and I both love these. My son is not enthusiastic, but is accepting. My daughter USED to love these burgers. That’s the other thing I should tell you about the top 5 foods Ms. Picky Pants enjoys. They rotate out on a daily basis. I’m not making this up. In response to “I thought you liked this dish sweetie,” my daughter will say “I DID like it before, but I DON’T like it today.” Yes, she is going to be the death of me. You can, perhaps, now also see why I don’t accommodate her preferences more than I do. I’d have to actually know what her preferences are on that day to even consider accommodating her. I digress.

 photo IMG_0670.jpgIn order to make the nutshroom burger dinner a pleasant experience I had decided to make oven fries. Many problems can be solved with my oven fries. When the time came to get started this evening, I realized that I had failed to procure the needed spuds. My own garden spuds are not quite ready for fry size, so I decided to do some creative improvising. Internet search engine to the rescue. Carrot fries coming up, thanks to William Sonoma. Continue reading

GF Pancake Mix – Making Time for Pancakes

What if some fine morning when you have time to make pancakes you used 3 or 4 bowls?  1 bowl for the pancakes to make that day and the other 2 or 3 bowls to add all of the dry ingredients for another morning’s pancakes?  Might make it easier to get those cakes going on a busier morning…..

I’m still thinking about saving time, so when I saw this post from our good friend Annie at Unrefined Vegan, I decided I had to give it a GF go.  Please feel check out her version which is chock full of interesting grains and flours as well as the idea that you can flavor up a batch of pancakes or waffles once you start with the basic recipe.   Gluten free or Gluten full – pancakes are a lovely way to start the day and we’re going to see if I can whip up a batch of pancakes tomorrow morning before school if I have the head start of pre-mixing all of the dry ingredients. Continue reading

Help for Hummingbirds : Kids & Real Food

I am feeling it a little bit lately, although I am trying to dodge and weave and can’t get ‘it’ in focus.  Like the hummingbird outside the window I just tried to photograph to share with you,  things are feeling kind of fuzzy.  I know that if I open the front door to get a shot from the front porch, she will probably fly away so I am enjoying her and will let you imagine her vibrant green back and her tiny wings that look thick with frenzied speed while the rest of her stays steady and immobile.  Apparently my steady, immobile persona still fools friends who are surprised anytime (and everytime) we eat anything less than perfectly nutritious, yet my wings are getting a bit tired with the attempt to provide healthy, real food in this culture.  So my hard edges as The Food Regulator (TFR) are beginning to blur a bit.

There is a hummingbird out there valiantly staying afloat against all odds.

There is a hummingbird out there valiantly staying afloat against all odds.

Not to complain, but between work, graduate school, TaeKwonDo (which my son and I do together) and home and family, I am starting to wear down a little.  I don’t tell you this for sympathy or “pride of busy-ness” (the 8th deadly sin),but because I am sure that many of you are similarly stretched.  There just isn’t enough time in the day to do all of the cooking and gardening that I used to do and would like to do.  So I have decided that a little controlled erosion is in order lest the whole mountain be undermined and bury us in an avalanche of mcnuggets, doritos and moon pies. Continue reading

Zucchini Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies (DF)

The garden continues to produce green squash at a startling rate. What a lovely problem to have. If the plants keep up like this I will surely shred and freeze a good bit of it for use in zucchini bread and mac and cheez in the colder months, but it’s nice to have some to use right now, today, when our thoughts are turning toward books, notebooks, pencils (I love the smell of new pencils) and  LUNCHBOXES. It is time for Momma to get busy making some reasonable goodies for those lunch boxes.

 photo IMG_0658.jpgWhile I was thinking about the need to start baking for school and noticing the abundant zucchini, the internet happened and mashed them together for me. I was inspired and responded with my usual “Ooooh, that looks good. What ingredients should I change?” The result got a straight yummy thumbs up from 3 of the 4 of us and even earned a “pretty good” from Ms. Picky Pants. That is a good cooking day in my house. Because of the lower fat content, these cookies are a little more biscuity than most, but ring all the necessary cookie bells to satisfy treat eaters who are willing to overlook the little flecks of green, which I think are beautiful, BTW. And so, without further ado, I give you… Continue reading

Pickled Green Beans

Our Pantry Penchants are sometimes quite clear.  We have toyed at times with re-naming the blog My Sister’s Sweet Potatoes…. My Sister’s Pancakes….. and now I guess we’ll have to consider My Sister’s Pickles as well.  I hope you like pickles as well as I do, so you won’t mind another pickle recipe, and I offer the explanation that my preference for pickles is related to a problem.  My son, who used to enjoy lots of raw vegetables has somehow lost his taste for raw veggies.  We have a rule that before any non-produce snack is eaten, a piece of produce must be consumed.  Fruit is easy and always an option, but in the past he was also willing to eat raw sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes, carrots, green beans, slightly pickled (raw) cucumbers or salad (although that is generally only with a bit of pressure).  We do also keep leftover roasted potatoes and other cooked veggies as an option but as far as raw vegetable go, we are down to pickled (raw) cucumbers, carrots (under duress) and salad (duress-er).  He eats cooked vegetables and I still freely load any dish with veggies that I can, but I’m thinking that perhaps if I can cold-pickle some more veggies, that would provide us with another veggie snack.  These green beans are not strictly raw, but they aren’t cooked much…. so I’m going to give it a go!  The recipe I found was a dill-y concoction but my son generally prefers the sweet (surprise, surprise), so I made up a batch of both which are currently getting flavored up in the refrigerator.  I leave you the recipes and then I will sleep while my green beans soak in flavor!! Continue reading