Monday in the Kitchen

   Who remembers anymore what carrots look like fresh out of the garden? It came as somewhat of a startle when a large sack of carrots- roots, frost bit tops, mud, gnats and all showed up in the food pantry last Friday afternoon. The carrots themselves were fat and beautiful but I knew we would have to work fast to get them distributed. We divided out two pound bags and started giving them out with food orders. There was not the usual flood of clients that day (a rare occurrence) so we gave them out to all comers who stopped by the window. At the end of the shift Ann and Megan had already left and I didn’t have time to write up a note and put that one last lonely bag in the fridge. So I brought it home to reacquaint myself with basic veggie preparation.

   Into the sink with all of them, spray hard to soften and rinse off most of the mud, and untangle the tops (they were a large, green&brown, unruly fright wig mass) – they filled up the sink. Then I cut off the roots and carefully picked out the good green tops and threw away the brown ones. The roots were scrubbed with a brush to remove the last bits of mud from the crevasses, the greens were rinsed again and all of it set aside to drain. The top part of the carrot where the greens join the root was too hard to clean so that bit was trashed as well.

Tops to the Trash

Tops to the Trash

   Why bother with saving the greens? As I learned after my previous post on Carrots the green tops are not only edible but they are fabulously nutritious and all of that is usually thrown away by the time carrots arrive in the produce section of your grocery store as I was notified by the World Carrot Museum.

All Cleaned Up and Ready to Cook

All Cleaned Up and Ready to Cook

Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf
I hadn’t cooked quinoa in quite a while – too busy with baking experiments and other activities. But when I came across this recipe at Karina’s Gluten-Free Goddess blog for Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf something clicked into place. Mushrooms and green peppers in the fridge?, check, garlic?, check, parsley?, no but I have used carrot tops as a substitute before – so I really, really had to make this dish!

Time Out for Lunch!

Time Out for Lunch!

All About Stevia
   Ricki’s blog, Diet, Dessert, and Dogs is one of my favorite reads. Today she had a very interesting discussion going, All About Stevia. This product is something I have been playing with since Rita bought me a bottle of Sprout’s brand of liquid stevia over the holidays. So far I really like it as a sweetener in my lattes, both café latte and chai latte. The recent recipe for Banana Coconut Muffins has been well received by my taste test crew – with no added sugar, the sweetness all comes from a banana and that liquid stevia. And finally I have really gotten into Ricki’s super healthy creation Chia “Tapioca” Pudding. I’ve been having it most mornings for a couple of weeks.

Chia Seeds
   Chia has a fascinating nutritional profile and is now starring as one of the newest ‘super foods’. Soaked chia seeds are gelatinous in texture and a spoonful of chia seed mixed into liquid will set up as a soft pudding. I use 1/2 cup of warm almond milk adding one tablespoon of chia, eight drops of stevia, and four drops of vanilla. When set aside for several hours it becomes very much like a tapioca pudding because of the swollen seeds. They are seeds and may not be suitable for consumption by anyone that has texture issues! Chia is available pre-ground and if you plan to use ground chia I say buy it that way – I keep both on hand. My attempt to grind them with a mortar and pestle would make a good you-tube comedy – not one of the seeds were ground; instead they popped out all over the counter like a flea circus. The whole dry seeds are extremely hard and also have a static charge – not easy to chase and gather them back up.
   Ground chia is one of several substitution possibilities for replacing egg in baked goods for vegans or for those folks with egg allergy. Sprouted chia seeds can be used in salads and for sandwiches as well as on your Chia Pet.

Neglected Bananas
    Four weeks ago I bought bananas to ripen for banana muffins and possibly banana bread. Two batches of those Coconut Banana Muffins later and there were still four v-e-r-y ripe bananas hanging out in the guest room. So this afternoon I conjured up a new recipe that I had been thinking about, put it together, and I’ll post about it tomorrow. It’s been quite a long day in the kitchen.



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