Kitchen Love and Inspiration

There is something that you may not know about me if you only know me through this blog. I LOVE to cook. Dicing, chopping and slicing are like an active meditation for me. I enjoy the colors of vegetables, aromas pouring from a skillet and the science of baking. I love finding a recipe and changing it for the better. I have an intuitive knack for knowing if a recipe will be a winner or not. I enjoy “veganizing” comfort foods. I love to make sauces and stocks from scratch. The kitchen is the place I most often let my creative juices flow from love to inspire.

Vegan Cabbage Rolls
“Veganized” Cabbage Rolls

King Trumpet Mushroom Scallops
King Trumpet Mushroom “Scallops” with Basil Cream Sauce – Vegan

The one down side to all of my recent travel was that there was no real experience of cooking. Maybe I need to look more closely at taking a cooking class next time. Often hostels have kitchens in them and you can cook your own food but this was not the case in Cambodia or Vietnam. Maybe because it is so cheap to eat there. So every meal was made by someone else. Which is nice too, don’t get me wrong, but I missed having more of a say in what I was eating.

I haven’t really cooked since April 2015. Al and I are getting ready to move into our new home (for the time being) next week and I am so excited that there is a splendid kitchen that I will get to create in.

In preparation for “breaking-in” the new kitchen, I have started reviewing some of my favorite recipe sites. I thought I would share them with you because who doesn’t want or need a little inspiration in the kitchen? All of the photos are my version of the recipes shared.

I eat mostly vegan so a lot of the sites focus on cooking plant powered foods. If you eat meat that doesn’t mean that you can’t go veggie from time to time. So take a look at these offerings and maybe you can become inspired for Meatless Monday, Tofu Tuesday, Wicked Greens Wednesday, Nut Cheese Thursday, Rawsome Friday, Seitan Saturday or Super Food Sunday (that was fun). If not, there is a site or two toward the bottom that also has meat dishes.

Note: Vegan = Only plants, no meat or any animal by-products (eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, butter). Vegetarian = Plants and animal by-products.

My New Roots – This was the first food blog that I found where I was just so impressed by the style and beauty of the food. Not only does Sarah Britton make healthy whole foods look good but she knows how to make them taste delightful. She uses a lot of herbs and let’s the color come out. The recipes are mostly vegan. There has been an occasional fish recipe and she has been making more and more vegetarian recipes too. I have SO many favorite recipes from here so it’s hard to pick just one. This is the recipe that inspires Al’s favorite breakfast: Bircher Muesli with Spiced Strawberry Sauce. Sarah’s Raw Chocolate Brownie is the healthiest and quickest chocolate fix I can get. Want to experiment with using cashews for cream? Try this Cashew Corn Chowder. If you are looking for a healthy gluten-free Corn Bread recipe, look no further.

Raw Oatmeanl
Our version of the raw oatmeal consists of whatever seasonal fruit is on hand, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
Cashew Corn Chowder
There is no way you would even think of missing milk. Cashew cream is heavenly!
Gluten Free Corn Bread
I just use a loaf pan to make my corn bread. Easy.

Green Kitchen Stories – A very nicely put together blog with vegetarian food. Also, lots of style in the pictures and presentation of the food here. This blog is put together by a husband and wife team with a young budding family. One of the things I like about following a food blog is that you are let into the social aspects of the recipes and you get to hear about how their daughter plays into their food choices. They do a lot of gluten free baking. I am not gluten free but so many people are these days that it is nice to have some good recipes to turn to when in need. This is the very next recipe I want to try, the Chia Parfait and Apple Crunch. On a cold day I absolutely adore this bright orange Sweet Potato, Carrot and Red Lentil Soup.

Al is NOT a fan of eggplant so we changed up the topping a bit.

The First Mess – This is brought to you by farm girl/chef, Laura from Ontario, cooking up what’s coming up in the garden. Very great, very seasonal wholesome recipes. This blog is almost always vegan with some gluten free thrown in for good measure. One of the reasons I love cooking with plants is the color. Eating colorful foods feels magical to me. I can just imagine all that color going into my body and creating a rainbow of happiness. Laura is masterfully colorful with her recipes. A good site to go to if you have been eating too many browns, tans and whites lately. Try the very sexy Garden Keeper’s Pie.

Garden Keeper's Pie
Very hearty and warming dish on a cold night.

Vegan Richa – I absolutely LOVE this food blogger. She works her ass off to bring a major variety of dishes to her public at a dizzying pace. There is always something new on her site. She is so incredibly conscientious of different ways people eat and adapting her recipes. The thing I love about her best is that she also really enjoys comfort foods. Just because I am healthy doesn’t mean I don’t want a plate of jalapeño poppers from time to time. She also creates “veganized” Indian food and that just warms my heart to hear and taste. If you are new to veganism or want to be new to it, this may be the site for you. Give the Red Lentil Cauliflower Burgers a try.

Red Lentil and Cauliflower Burger
These totally satisfied my burger and spicy cravings.

Love and Lemons – This is a vegetarian blog that I stumbled upon after the blogs above so I sometimes don’t get to it after scrolling the others but that has got to change because there is an incredible amount of variety here and her approach to food is bold and sexy. Did I mention the desserts? Oh my! Yes, WE need to go here more often. My favorite enchilada recipe came from here, Poblano “Crema” Enchiladas

Poblano Cream Enciladas
Creamy and flavorful – no cheese needed or missed.

Golubka Kitchen – Uber healthy, whole foods, plants, vegan, stylish, flavorful, raw and just amazing. Anya Kassoff creates edible art. If I’m looking to impress with plants, I go here. It’s a beautiful and warmly presented feed, focused on nourishing our souls with beautiful food. I made my version of this recipe for Thanksgiving one year, Chocolate Persimmon Tart.

Persimmon Raw Chocolate Tart
This was as delicious as it looks. It was a bit difficult to get out of the tart dish though.

Sprouted Kitchen – Is all about fresh, local, seasonal goodness. If you want veggies, come here, Sara knows how to combine flavors and Hugh takes some great shots of the goodies. You will find recipes  on Sprouted Kitchen that everyone will enjoy. They have the best salads that have been creatively inspired, Autumn Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette or Toasted Millet Salad with Arugula and Pickled Onions.

Autumn Salad with Horseradish Dressing
This dish is incredibly flavorful and satisfying.
Millet, Pickled Onions and Arugula Salad
This is a great dish for lunch. It tastes just as fabulous without the cheese too.

Saveur – Is a melting pot of variety for food. If you are looking for something new or different, go here. Any culture you can think of has recipes represented on this site. It’s kind of a travel blog for food. Plenty of vegetarian options but also lots of meat. You may need to increase the spices you keep on hand to take advantage of the diversity of flavors. At one point in my life, I was a private cook and I cooked meat. I only wish that I had found this site back then. Try the Chicken Tagine with Olives and Perserved Lemons or Pakistani Slow-Cooked Lamb Stew. Vegetarian: Mexican-Style Roasted Corn. I absolutely love the Indonesian Curried Greens.

Mexican corn
This is a crowd pleaser!

Epicurious – This was my mainstay for great recipes when I was cooking for a living. It is an immense catalog of recipes from Bon Appetit and Gourmet. It’s kind of big and corporate but if you can navigate through, you can find some amazing recipes for everyone. One of my former employers favorite dishes was the Middle Eastern Meatballs with Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce. This recipe for Dukkah-Crusted Lamb Chops can also easily be made with firm tofu and baked in the oven.

A note about meat…. I do not eat meat for several reasons. Currently I am just not able to eat them. It just doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe that will change one day but not now when animals are being over consumed and treated as commodities and not the living beings that they are. We can not end factory farming and continue to consume meat at the same rate, they go hand in hand. Consider incorporating more meat free meals into your lives and eating smaller portions of meat with larger portions of vegetables.  Also, consider where your meat comes from. It’s hard to connect the slaughter situation to a clean looking package of meat wrapped in cellophane at the grocery store. Take some time and research a small local farming operation that utilizes sustainable, humane and ethical treatment of the animals while they are alive and during slaughter.

Here are a couple of farms I have ordered from in the past:

Alderspring Ranch – I got to meet this rancher in person at The Good Food Store in Montana. It is nice to personally connect with your farmer.

Good Earth Farms – Here you can find a variety of meats. Note that they are not always available because meat can also be seasonal.

Some of my vegetarian friends may have a hard time understanding why I would suggest places to buy meat but here’s the thing… People are going to eat meat. That is just the way it is. Do I ignore that fact and burry my head in the sand or make some helpful suggestions to make that consumption better thought out? I think you know my answer.

Now a note on vegetables. It’s also very nice to know your vegetable farmer. Buy locally and organic whenever possible. Support your Farmer’s Market or consider signing up to a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture and get a box of goodies for your family each week. Here is a list of CSA’s in my area, San Diego. An easy internet search will help you connect with some in your area too. Also, consider growing some of your own veggies. This is a great way to connect to the food growing process (especially if you have kids). Tomatoes and herbs are very easy to grow.

I hope this post inspires you to create in the kitchen and that you enjoy these wonderful source as much as I do. Happy cooking!

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