The Splendid Table and mushroom stew

Today I was driving home from a birthday party, flipping through the radio stations and happened upon a radio show I just adore. It’s called The Splendid Table on NPR. Heard of it?  If not, I highly recommend you tune in on Sunday afternoons.  The host, Lynne Rossetto Kaspar has this magical way of making food come alive through the airways.  I invariably always come home inspired to cook something unique after listening in.

Today was no exception.  The segment I tuned into was about preparing lamb shank and there were seductive descriptions of delicious wine sauce and tender meats falling off the bone.  My mouth was watering. Maybe it was the rain, or the calm and quiet of a Sunday afternoon, but I was totally compelled to cook something delicious and warm.

Well, the only issue was that I didn’t have any leg of lamb handy, nor any other cut of meat ready to roll, and I didn’t want to stop at the store.  I pride myself in being very creative with what I have stocked in the pantry, so I headed home determined to create something mouth watering, unique, and rainy Sunday appropriate.

After thumbing through a couple of my cookbooks (The Professional Chef and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), I settled on a mushroom stew out of the Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone book, by Deborah Madison (side note: Deborah Madison is from Davis, CA, just down the road from my home and I once got to meet her at a book signing. OMG, OMG!).

The recipe did not disappoint. As I write the house is filled with the tantalizing aroma of fresh rosemary, herbs de’ provance, lemon and mushrooms.  Mmmm…..

Of course, in full Rebecca fashion, I tweaked the recipe a bit, so here is my Sunday afternoon creation for you:


1 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-1/3″ pieces
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 T fresh rosemary, finely minced
1 T herbs de’ provance
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup safflower oil (or other oil you cook with), divide into 2
1 lb white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 T of left over red pasta sauce (original recipe called for 3 T of tomato paste)
1.5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (I used homemade chicken stock)

juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped

In a large saucepan add half of the oil.  On medium heat, sautee 3/4 of the onions and carrots with the rosemary, herbs and salt and pepper for about 10-12 minutes.  Set aside.  In the same saucepan, add the remaining onions and the mushrooms and the remaining oil.  Sautee for about 5 minutes, mixing regularly.  Add the original onion/carrot mixture and mix together in the saucepan for 1 minute. Add the pasta sauce or tomato paste and the stock.  Simmer for about 15 min on med-low, stirring occasionally.  Squeeze in the lemon juice and add additional salt or pepper if needed.  Serve with fresh parsley. Pairs well with rice or rustic bread, or couscous.




An evening with Deborah Madison, my hero

Deborah Madison and I at the Avid Reader in Davis

Deborah Madison, author of great cookbooks like Greens and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, came to Davis tonight.  As soon as I heard about it on NPR I hopped to the chance to interview her for Davis Life Magazine…little did they all know that my alterior motive was to get a few minutes with the woman who first introduced me to cooking with Vegetables.

I got the cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone several years back for Christmas.  I was committed to the path of eating better and having more variety.  My approach was simple: a new veggie/week.  This is where I discovered my love for kale, first saw the word quinoa (and had NO idea how to pronounce it), and realized that a little mushroom goes a long way.

Today that book is still a staple, as evidenced by the food stains throughout the dog-eared pages.  I make many modifications to switch out white flour, dairy, and sugars but for the most part it is great as it is.  I highly recommend it for the beginning vegetable cook.

Tonight’s experienced reminded me of why Off-White is such a passion of mine – I was amidst a group of people who also believe that food has vitality when it is fresh, wholesome and close to nature.  I was reminded that nutrition is not about counting calories, but rather making our calories count by putting flavor and intention as a top priority.

So now I’m fired up to dig into the kitchen this summer and play with some new recipes.  Her new book focuses on fruits for dessert.  I’m going to make it a treat for myself to buy the book this summer when fruit is such a bounty in Davis.  But for now I’ll try the quinoa pudding she directed me to in Veg. Cooking for Everyone.  I’ll let you know how it  goes.

Abundance (2 recipes)

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I used to think that abundance meant having so much more than I needed, that I’d never run out.  Because I struggle the the disease of  ‘not enough-ism’, there were many days spent wanting for excess of everything: money, friends, time, activities, and of course: SUGAR!!.  It was difficult to see that what I had right now was enough.  God forbid my  cup not runneth over in excess every second of the day, right??

Thank goodness life is changing me for the better.  Nowadays I relish in the opportunities I have to find the abundance in what already lies within me and within my grasp….and my fridge.  Take this morning, for instance.  I was cooking for  a potluck tonight, and out of that experience THREE abundance opportunities found me.

Let me explain.

Opportunity #1:    When I open my mind (and my cookbooks), new ideas emerge that I hadn’t seen before.  So, this morning when  I cracked my trusty culinary companion Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Deborah Madison – check her out, she ROCKS!!), I nearly squealed with delight when I auspiciously opened to “Curried Quinoa” and realized I had exactly what I needed to make this dish, down to the frozen peas.

Opportunity #2: Fast forward 2 hrs and I’m stirring away in the kitchen.  I glance at my bowl of left-over carrot pulp from juicing for the quinoa dish…and a cookie recipe idea was born!!  A quick review of the pantry (yes, just enough turbinado for 1 batch….2 eggs left in the carton, the right amount of flour…..perfecto) and I was off and baking.

Perfect timing, too, becuase Matt really needed a healthy homemade treat after a hard morning.  Walking in to the smell of curry and baking cookies is enough to make any troubled soul feel welcomed and loved!

Opportunity #3:   Not so glamarous, but it saved me the $$ and energy of going out for lunch (part of that not-enoughism is wanting for things I don’t have so I can go out and buy them!).  I used the rest of that carrot pulp in my mish-mash lunch of hummus, carrot pulp, beans and avocado, a concoction also inspired by looking around at what I have and keeping my mind open.

I feel good about my kitchen finds and how much fun I had working with the abundance right in front of me.

CURRIED QUINOA (from D. Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for everyone)

2 tbsp oil or butter (I used butter)
1 onion: 1/4 finely chopped, 3/4 coarsely chopped1
1 cup washed quinoa
2 tsp curry powder
salt, pepper to taste
2 zucchini, diced into small cubes
1 cup carrot juice (I juiced 5 carrots)
1 cup peas
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

heat half the oil in a small soup pot, adding the finely diced onion and cook on med for 3 min.  Stir in quinoa, 1/2 tsp curry powder and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add 2 cups bioling water and then simmer covered for 15 min.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a 10″ skillet.  Add chopped onion, zucchini and remaining curry powder.  Cook, stirring frequently over med heat for 5 min.  Add 1/2 cup water and carrot juice + 1 tsp salt.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes adn add peas adn scallions.  Cook a few minutes more, adding cilantro at the end.  This is a ‘wet’ dish.

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CARROT/COCONUT COOKIES (fresh from the brain of Rebecca this AM)

2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup turbinado
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1.5 cups spelt flour
1 cup br. rice flour
1 tsp each: baking soda, baking powder
1 tsp salt

Cream butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and carrots.  Set aside.  Mix dry ingredients and fold into wet ingredients.  Texture is like that of sugar cookies.  I maked small balls and patted them onto a cookie sheet (1-2″ cookies).  Cook @ 350 for 8 minutes.  Keep moist by storing in airtight container.