Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friends Don't Let Friends: Gripe About Grits

You may not know this about me, but I'm from the South.  Sure I live in North Carolina now and, yeah, I grew up in Miami (so far south it's actually north) but I was born in Georgia and my Grammy is from a small town in South Carolina, so I grew up with sour creme cake, super sweet iced tea and grits. 

And man, do I love me some grits. 

And what's not to love, in my opinion.  Warm and soft, topped with butter and plenty of salt, they are the perfect food anytime of day.  Of course, where they shine is breakfast, because they absorb the flavors you add to them.  Scoop them up with toast, serve them with a savory tofu scramble, or on their own, they're delish.

And we're lucky enough to live right next to a very historic (founded in 1767) and kind of famous (featured in Martha Stewart's listing of artisanal specialties from around the country) grist mill - the Old Mill of Guilford. 

People from all around stop into the beautiful mill with it's tiny store to get flours, dried fruits, mixes and, of course, grits.

Now there are tons of ways people serve grits, they're a great base, but as I mentioned I love them simple - salt, Earth Balance and some fresh pepper.  But I have been known to jazz them up with olive oil and fresh rosemary too.

And cooking grits is easy.  All you need is boiling water, grits and some salt. Boil the water.  Stir in the salt and grits (see amounts by serving below). Reduce the temperature to low (be careful, they can boil over easily and dried on grits are like cement) and cook about 10 -15 minutes until the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Serve.

Servings -

1/2 Serving
Water - 1 Cup
Grits - 3 Tbl
Salt - Dash

1 Serving
Water - 1 and 2/3Cup
Grits - 1/3 Cup
Salt - 1/8 tsp

4 Servings
Water - 6 and 2/3 Cups
Grits - 1 and 1/3 Cups
Salt - 1/2 tsp

6 Servings
Water - 10 Cups
Grits - 2 Cups
Salt - 3/4 tsp

Just an FYI - these are pretty generous servings.  Your yield will be equal to the amount of water shown. 

Slap on some Earth Balance and enjoy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Daily Dinner: Classic Risotto and Dijon Green Beans

We make risotto fairly often in the cooler months of the year.  It's the perfect comfort food dinner that fills you up and makes you feel all warm and cozy inside.  It's also a great base for experimentation, with sides or additions.

I like to have a good green veggie side with risotto - sometimes asparagus, a green salad or broccoli but since we made the mustards for our Christmas gifts, I've been thinking about green beans sauteed in a mustard sauce.

While the risotto was becoming magically creamy from my homemade stock, I snapped the ends off of the fresh beans and popped them in the steam for about 10 minutes - enough cook them but keep some of their crispness.  As the rice was almost finished, so were the green beans. 

To save on washing dishes I used the same pot the stock had been warming in and in that I melted over medium-low heat a few tablespoons of Earth Balance, about a 1/2 cup of white wine (the same I used for the risotto, actually) and about a tablespoon or two of Dijon mustard.  I whisked that together to combine and then tossed in the steamed green beans.

I left the beans in the sauce for a few minutes so they could absorb the flavors and served on the side.  Some fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of kosher salt and you're done.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Daily Dinner: Pumpkin Gnocchi with Shitake and Broccoli

I need to get better about putting up more of our actual dinner and meals.  We love to cook and we love to talk about food - especially great food that just happens to be vegan too. So I'm going to try and take more pictures, even if they are phone pics, and write up what we made so you can see that we're not deprived or starving over here!

Last night we wanted to make something quick.  We had gone to World Market last week and I'd bought two packages of gnocchi.  Some gnocchi do have eggs but most shouldn't.  They come in a vacuum sealed package and these were pumpkin gnocchi. 

Gnocchi couldn't be easier to make and they are as versatile as pasta.  I personally like them in a wine-butter-garlic sauce, so that the gnocchi are nice and squishy after soaking it up.

To cook the gnocchi, boil a pot of water and when boiling, add some salt.  Bring back to a boil and drop in the gnocchi (make sure you have separated them as they will be squished together from the packaging.  They only take a few minutes to cook.  As they start floating to the top, spoon them out into your saute pan which has the sauce.

For the sauce, I melted a few tablespoons of Earth Balance (from the sticks) along with fresh grated garlic (as much as you like) and about a half cup of white wine.  I also like to add fresh squeezed lemon juice, to taste, and salt and pepper.  If you have any favorite herbs, you can add those in as well.  I have this started when I had dropped the gnocchi in the water so it is all ready to go as they are ready.

I had steamed the broccoli separately and cooked the shitakes in a separate pan (we are a divided household - I'm the mushroom lover, the hubby is not) so they could be added to just my serving.  When the broccoli is done, add it to the large saute pan as well and stir everything to cover with sauce.

Plate it up and serve with crisp romaine salad.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Silent and Still

We only expected flurries, but around mid-morning we started to get a pretty steady snow fall.  It's so beautiful in our yard and the songbirds appreciated the seed and water we put out for them every day.

Badger had the right idea and curled up near the radiator.

We didn't have a lot to do other than a friend's party so the next day we watched movies and put up our Christmas decorations.  We don't go too crazy. A wreath, a tree, our stockings and a few other pieces here and there.   But combined with the warm wood of the library, our shiny black living room mantle and some pumpkin spice candles, the rooms seemed warm and cozy.

Then we settled in for a holiday snuggle.

I love the early darkness, the light snowfalls that are still new to this Miami-bred girl, and the snuggly pups and kitties.

What's your favorite part of winter?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Birthday Bean

Today is Badger Bean's 12th birthday.
(observed - we brought him home from the Humane Society 11 years ago)
 The sweetest happiest puppy I know!

We love you, little man!