Incredibly Satisfied

That’s what Chelsea said after tonight’s dinner… Homemade Veggie Chili…A healthy dish we have been trying to perfect over the last year. We make it every week or two. There are always leftovers and it’s great to take them to work the next day. It’s super easy to make and so now I’m going to share the recipe with you. Don’t you want to feel incredibly satisfied?! I know I do!

Part of the recipe is always the love and intention you put into the food you make. I love to cook and so that really helps…When I’m chopping vegetables, listening to music, I love it, it makes me so happy…making food for myself and someone I love. Somehow the love goes into the food. I don’t know how, I’m not a scientist, I just know it works. If you don’t believe me try it for yourself and you’ll see.

So here it is. I always try to buy organic for many reasons, one of which is its tastes better. I even used Kale from our garden. Here is everything I put in…

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I first chopped up the onion, garlic, carrots and peppers and put them in a pot on medium to low heat with olive oil. After they all softened up I added a little salt and cumin and chili powder. Then I added the zucchini, squash, kale and all the beans plus one cup of veggie broth. Then another dash of the three spices. I let this go on with the heat on low for about 10 minutes and then Chelsea called. She was on her way home from teaching her prenatal yoga class. She said to add the corn and diced tomatoes cover it and let it simmer until she got home to give it the final flavoring… That’s her specialty. She has the palate of a sommelier… I’m just the sous chef. She always gives our dishes the final touch. It’s about a 20 drive home and it simmered the whole time. I went up to the roof, watched the sunset and finished my Moscow Mule…

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Chelsea arrived home and added a little more cumin, chili powder and salt and said we could have used another can of the diced tomatoes. So add that to your recipe if you want to make it more like a true chili. She said ours looked liked a goulash. Well, however it looked…

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It tasted delicious and left us both incredibly satisfied…

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Grow your own

Right in the center of my vision board are the words Farm to Table. The further along my yoga path I have come, the more this means to me. Eating consciously. Locally grown, seasonal, organic…you know, the good stuff.

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Since I live in Manhattan Beach, where outdoor space is hard to come by, having a farm is not an option. There is very little land here that is not beach or home. Few people even have yards. That means if you want to enjoy farm to table you rely on the farmers markets, which are amazing. However, my intention when I put it on my vision board was to have the farm myself. My grandfather was a farmer and he advised me at a young age to not take up farming as a career. So actually what I really meant when I set it as an intention is to grow my own food…at least some of it. Garden to Table is more accurate. With limited space you have to be creative in order to make this happen, but I’m here to tell you, it can be done!

We are fortunate enough to have a balcony, so we can grow things in pots.

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Sure it would be nice to have a big yard with a garden, but you do the best you can with what you have. As a lover of food, I can honestly say, I am hard pressed to find something more satisfying to my taste buds and to my soul, as food that I plant, take care of, harvest, cook and eat myself.

I believe there are several factors for this. First of all it’s 100% organic! Next, there is hardly any carbon footprint. Except for when Chelsea and I went to the Garden Center in El Segundo to get the seeds and soil. Third, it’ seasonal and finally they were grown and cooked with love and I truly believe this has a positive effect.

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We planted the beets and kale out on our balcony, along with some sweet potatoes that our friend Berit gave us. I have been on a morning meditation kick and I usually do it outside near the plants. It has been a nice practice, spending a few minutes sitting quietly in the morning, connecting to my breath, listening to the birds sing amidst the drills, saws and hammers from the construction next door. Then getting up and looking after the plants. Watering them and watching for bugs, trimming off the dead leaves, etc.

Meditation and gardening have this in common…to get the most benefits, consistency is key. You can’t just meditate once or water the plants once and expect results. However, when done on a consistent basis over time the benefits of meditation are a greater sense of peace and joy. The benefits of gardening are beauty from the flowers and food from the plants. So, after just a few weeks, it was time for a joyful food harvest. I decided to make Kale chips and beet greens with my bounty.

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The beet greens were surprisingly delicious and easy to make. I cut the leaves in half and chopped up the stems into tiny quarter inch pieces. Sometimes I toss them in the skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and after a couple of minutes they are sautéed and ready to enjoy. Tonight I added them to a stir fry Chelsea was making using coconut oil and veggies from the farmers market.

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The kale chips were almost just as easy and even more delicious. I used my friend Katie B’s recipe. Katie Bressack Heat the oven to 425, trim off the stems and toss the kale lightly in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and spread onto a baking sheet.

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Place into the oven and keep an eye on them. They only take a few minutes and the difference between good and un edible happens fast. When they are crisp, they’re ready. Crunchy and yummy. What a great way to enjoy veggies!

Both the kale chips and beet greens satisfied my taste buds and my soul. The fact that I planted, tended to, harvested and cooked, made them even better.

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Cheers…to homemade BBQ sauce

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Let me start by saying, I LOVE Barbecue Sauce! Maybe it comes from my roots in Arkansas, or my upbringing in North Carolina, where the Southern folks love them some BBQ. But, I have always loved the sauce. There are so many different kinds too. Even different regions of the state have different flavor profiles. Some are sweeter, some more tangy , but all just a little bit different. Have you ever noticed, there is basically just one ketchup, but there are a wide variety of sauces with the title BBQ attached to them. Over the years, I would always order a side of it whenever I was at a new restaurant. As a result, I have tried hundreds over the years and my love of cooking inspired me to make my own. I have modified this recipe over the years, so sometimes it is sweeter and sometimes more tangy, but I love it and rarely do I find one out on the town or even in stores that I like better.

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The great thing is, it’s easy to make and can be made from organic ingredients , which is important to me. I look at the ingredients of many of the popular versions in stores and they have high fructose corn syrup as one of the first ingredients. None of that here, so you can slather it on whatever you want. One time Chelsea came home to her roommate eating it with rice. She said “I just wanted to eat this sauce”!

So, at the request of my friend Val, I’m sharing this recipe on here for anyone to try. Have fun with it and feel free to make modifications depending on your own preferences. This one is a little sweet, a little tangy, a little spicy and full of umami. (Which is that pleasant savory taste that helps make ketchup so satisfying) http://www.umamiinfo.com/2011/02/What-exactly-is-umami.php

For Matt’s homemade BBQ sauce 2014 edition, mix together
1 cup organic ketchup
1 cup organic brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

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The key is then to cook it down, meaning adding mixed ingredients to a skillet and cooking it on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring it occasionally, especially as it begins to bubble. This will give it that stickiness that takes it to the next level for my taste buds, it’s where the umami comes out. Then after it cools a little, I put it in a glass jar and either give it away to someone I love (I’m bringing some to yoga tomorrow for you Val) or enjoy it on everything from salmon to grilled eggplant. I even use it on our home made pizzas.
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Oh yeah, the beverage… It’s a mock tail. Non alcoholic cocktail. Fun to drink and easy to make. Chelsea and our friend Laurel made some ginger syrup. I used a little of that, along with soda water. I then muddled up fresh basil from a basil plant we have next to the sink along with lemon from a tree outside, mixed it all together while the sauce cooked down. Delish!
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This is the yoga pose for today’s post. It’s called Malasana, basically a squat. Great to do when your muddling. This pose helps my low back feel better the way it stretches and builds strength. I have had two yoga teachers say that “Cultures that spend time in this position have fewer back issues” I can believe that. Since I’ve been doing it, my back feels great. Try to do it for one minute per day, followed by a forward fold, muddler not needed to perform this pose;)
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