ENCHILADA PIE

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Enchiladas are a beautiful thing. So is pie. When enchilada becomes pie and gets sliced into wedges, there’s nothing more to love in life.

I’ve made these enchiladas before, and they’ve been delicious, but this time they were extremely delicious. I think the key was making the sauce using whole spices: cumin and coriander. In the past I had just subbed the ground spices for the whole ones, and it just didn’t have quite the same flavor as this time. And now I’m using whole cumin seeds in everything I make! They’re so WONDERFUL.

I made these enchiladas using this recipe from The PPK, one of my favorite vegan food blogs. Check it out for her preparation! For me, this pie had three phases: sauce, beans, veggies, tortillas. Each was simple. Here are my alterations:

  • Sauce: I followed her recipe! Make sure to toast the spices, and then grind those babies up! I used a mortar and pestle which worked super well, but you can certainly get creative (wine bottle and ceramic bowl?).
  • Beans: cooked up the night before. A blog post coming soon about cooking dry beans and all my favorite ways to do it!
  • Veggies: rather than roast potatoes and cook veggies on the stove top, I decided just to roast everything! I had broccoli around, so broccoli it was. I roasted the broccoli and potatoes for the same amount of time, and that became my filling.
  • Tortillas: thank you Trader Joe’s.

Then, you just get to layering! It’s fun! Make sure to start with sauce on the bottom and end with lots of sauce on top. The saucier the better, as it does dry up a little in the oven. Top with cilantro/lime/avocado/hot sauce/whatever you like!

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So, follow the PPK recipe or simplify it with some of my alterations! I also left out the “white sauce” in that recipe, but I’ve made it before and it’s a taaaasty addition.

When you have an hour or so, some beans lying around, and you know that you’re going to need delicious leftovers this week, MAKE THIS RECIPE! Enchilada pie will not disappoint.

Also, I can’t believe this is my first blog post about beans… So many more bean recipes to come.

Until then,

Hash “Bean” Brown

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KIMCHI – and a New Fermented Year!

Kimchi by Hash Brown

It’s the end of December – time for renewal and reflection and even more food. I like the sweet limbo right before New Years, knowing that nothing will actually change, but anticipating that the New Year might bring a little bit more something – joy, health, adventure… Who knows?! Not me – that’s for sure this year. Also, this time of year is fun because I love goals; I used to write down all of my New Year’s resolutions (only 10 or 12) and put them into my New Year’s resolution box I had fashioned from neon construction paper. Cute. They were usually idealistic things like ‘be a better friend’, or ‘don’t complain as much’. I had high standards back then.

Now, I’m striving for material things, so perhaps my standards are lower. Or maybe the right word is tactile: cutting, grating, straining, smelling, waiting… it’s KIMCHI! My 2015 resolution is to have a year of fermentation – and fun and adventure and blogging, of course.

Back in November I picked up Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation from the library, and couldn’t get my nose out of it. Fermentation is just TOO COOL! Fresh fruits and veggies and legumes sit around for a while, and magically (ok, bacteria helps) become preserved and even better for you. It’s healthy! It’s traditional! Also, I love tangy, salty things.

Kimchi was a good starting place for me, because all I needed was a liter jar. Easy. Kimchi is a Korean fermented vegetable medley, commonly made with cabbage, radishes, and other vegetables. Those veggies are combined with a spicy mix of ginger, garlic and chilies, and then traditionally left to ferment in the cool earth. According to my recipe, I left it in the kitchen, and it ferments in just about a week. Magic. Also, science.

In reading Wild Fermentation, I learned that so many everyday things are fermented, like coffee, tea, and chocolate. Also, pretty much every culture/society on earth ferments something or other, be it alcoholic or not. Usually, we develop a taste for fermented foods at a young age, after which point these tastes can be difficult to acquire. Case in point: my brother strongly dislikes kimchi. He can’t get over the fact that it smells like farts when you open the jar. Which it does. But it’s delicious!!! And beautiful. See below.

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With that in mind, I encourage everyone to try out this kimchi recipe! It’s fresh and delicious and you can tailor it to your own tastes and vegetable preferences. Also, it’s simple and easy. Fermentation does not need to be complicated at all, and it’s so easy (and inexpensive) to do it right on your kitchen countertop. So far, I’ve made four jars and they have not disappointed me or my friends and family – except for my brother. Sorry, Cam!

Sam loves it! I swear!
Sam loves it! I swear!

KIMCHI RECIPE (adapted from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz)

Equipment:

  • One liter mason jar
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Microplane or fine grater
  • One week’s time

Ingredients:

  • Sea salt / Kosher salt
  • 1 pound green or savoy cabbage
  • 3-4 radishes
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 hot chilies (dried or fresh)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

(variation is encouraged; these are all approximate measurements!)

Process:

  1. Mix a brine of 4 cup water and 4 tablespoons of sea salt (if using kosher salt like me, use 1/2 as much salt, AKA 6 T). Stir to dissolve the salt.
  2. Chop the cabbage, carrots, and radishes. Soak the vegetables in the brine, using a heavy plate as a weight to keep the vegetables under the surface of the brine. Soak until soft, for a few hours or overnight.
  3. Mince garlic, grate ginger, finely dice onions and scallions. Chop up the chilies, choosing to keep or discard the seeds depending on how spicy you like it – more seeds for more spice. Mix all together to form an aromatic paste.
  4. Drain the brine off the vegetables, and reserve the brine in another bowl or jar.
  5. Taste the vegetables for saltiness. They should be quite salty, but feel free to add more salt if necessary, or rinse under cold water if too salty. (So far, I have not had any trouble with salt quantity.)
  6. Mix the vegetables with the paste of ginger-garlic-chili-onion, until all veggies are thoroughly coated. Pack everything into the liter-sized jar and press down until the vegetables release some juice. Press down until nothing more comes out, and then add more reserved brine to the top if the vegetables are not covered. Press down the vegetables again.
    Mix the spicy paste with the veg... and then stuff it in a jar!!!IMG_1334
  7. Cover with a dish towel, and ferment in the kitchen or some other warm place. Now you have two options: you can either fashion a weight to keep the vegetables under the brine, like a smaller jar filled with water; or you can check the kimchi each day, and push it down under the brine with clean hands. I prefer the second option, but I have small hands that fit easily into a mason jar. Either way, just make sure things are clean, and that your vegetables stay more or less submerged in the brine! You want only good microorganisms in your kimchi. After a few days of fermenting, the kimchi will taste less salty and more tangy. Ferment for a week or more on the counter, and then move to the refrigerator when it’s nice and ripe. You’ll be able to taste it, I promise.
  8. Enjoy your homemade kimchi!!
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After one night of fermentation!
Before and After! From salty to tangy and ???
After a week of fermentation!

Happy almost 2015! More blogs to come full of my favorite things.

Peace and love always!

GRANOLA

Ah, granola. What a good snack. Takes me back to the good old days of high school when Dorothy (check her out! http://flavoradventures.com/) would call me crunchy. Now here I am, making granola. And having absolutely no qualms about it.

Right now, I’m at a transitional point in my life, and it’s nice to have some things to depend on. For me, that’s good food—and having the opportunity to make some things out of the ordinary. I’d never made granola before this year, only had my mom’s delicious homemade variety and perhaps a million bagged varieties. Happily, homemade goodness is not only healthier than processed foods, but also cheaper. So for a girl who’s about to be unemployed for a month, I’m all about saving money on snacks. Granola is an excellent answer: nothing is cheaper than oats!

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I now know what I like in my granola – walnuts, currants, sunflower seeds – and with that, I’ve used a basic recipe to get a good idea of the granola process. I used this one (http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2011/12/simple-gourmet-granola-mnr-healthy-holiday-gift-guide-2/), on the food blog My New Roots. It’s a wonderful site if you need any kind of plant food inspiration; plus, it always makes me feel really beautiful inside just from reading about the beautiful food she produces.

I’ve now made this granola a couple times, and have adapted it to my discerning tastebuds! Feel free to switch it to match yours. Thanks to Joanna for the granola feedback and inspiration to blog about my recipe.

HASH BROWN’S GRANOLA

2 cups rolled oats
¼ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup walnuts, broken into pieces
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons agave
½ cup dried currants

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix oats, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in a bowl.
  3. Melt coconut oil in whatever way you can*, and then quickly mix in the agave. Pour oil and agave mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet, and be sure to make an even layer. It doesn’t need to be too spread out; otherwise there is a risk of nuts burning. Oh no!
  5. Bake granola for 20-25 minutes, giving it a stir every 5 minutes to make it all golden and crunchy. If you forget to stir, your nuts might burn! The oats should turn a shade darker, as should the nuts. There is a quick tipping point where granola can go from delicious to dark, dark brown and burnt, so be vigilant!
  6. Mix in the currants after you have taken the granola out of the oven, and enjoy!

*If you don’t have a microwave like me, I often melt solids in a glass measuring cup while the oven is preheating.

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Before!

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After!

 

That’s it! This recipe is very substitutable (wow, that’s a word?!), so go at it with what you’ve got!

Picnic Time!

Yesterday was April 7th, and it was 70 degrees in Seattle!! Perhaps even 71. WOW. It felt heavenly; I rode my bike to work in shorts and a t-shirt, and broke out the chacos. My toes felt so free!

Unfortunately, today I was naïve enough to think that sunny, warm weather would continue in the Pacific Northwest – and isn’t that part of the charm of us northwesterners?—and wore my sandals again… Only to get caught in a downpour that still shows no signs of stopping. Oh well! I’m still on a Vitamin D high from yesterday.

Now I’m cozy on the couch, with a cup of té de Jamaica (hibiscus tea) brought back from Mexico, and I want to write and report about the picnic that the lovely weather yesterday brought to fruition. It was a pretty perfect picnic. And I know of no better alliteration than that.

ImageSam and the loaded picnic basket! 

Although I-5 is my neighbor, Lake Union is also my neighbor, and so is the setting sun over Lake Union. There’s a park with overgrown and soggy grass only a few blocks away from us, and just a few blocks away from the freeway rumble feels like a serene spot for dining al fresco. We even managed to claim the one picnic table. 

And aside from the setting, the picnic is really all about the food. Although usually picnics seem to involve minimal cooking and cold food, I suppose that’s not really my style! Attempting to avoid animal products and processed foods also makes that a little more difficult. Plus, Sam and I had bought all these vegetables at the farmer’s market with a big ol’ roast in mind, and we can’t be stopped!

Here’s the vegetable roast list:

     -Yukon gold taters
     -Parsnips (the last of the season, according to this farmstand!)
     -Sun chokes, or Jerusalem artichokes
     -Kale and cabbage rab

While potatoes and parsnips have been my frequent companions this winter, the last two in this roast were relative newcomers to my tummy (and tongue). Sunchokes are a root vegetable that cooks up a lot like a potato, but are much juicier and have a slight artichoke taste to them. It seems against everything I believe in to dislike a vegetable, but I would definitely classify sunchokes as interesting. That’s not to say I wouldn’t eat them again, but they were an exploration into new territory! 

The kale and cabbage rab, on the other hand, were downright amazing. I already love kale and cabbage, and the flowering version of these cruciferous veggies was a revelation. They have thin stems with small leaves coming off the sides, and a little flower on top that looks like a tiny and tender broccoli. We roasted them whole, for about ten minutes, and it was akin to eating asparagus, just somehow more delicious with crispy kale chip-like leaves along with it, and normal smelling pee for the next day. We’re not quite into that funky season yet.

ImageFrom top to bottom: kale and cabbage, parsnips, potatoes, sunchokes. 

 

OK, my method!

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Chop potatoes and sunchokes into cubes, and the parsnips into spears, by slicing lengthwise and chopping into a French fry like shape.
  3. Place parsnips into an appropriate roasting dish (I used a cast iron skillet), and sprinkle generously with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  4. Spread out the potatoes and sunchokes into a big roasting pan (or simply use a cookie sheet!), as they should all be in one layer.    
  5. Stick both dishes in the oven, and give them a stir every 5-10 minutes. The parsnips should only take about 15 minutes. Once done, break out the kale rab and stick it in the same pan, toss with olive oil and salt, and stick into the oven.
  6. After ten minutes or so, when the outer leaves of the rab are crispy and the potatoes are nicely browned, remove everything from the oven!   
  7. I served with Dijon mustard, because I find that ridiculously good. Sam put some balsamic vinegar on it all. Your choice!

Yum, nothing easier and more delicious than roasted veg! 

ImageRoasted vegetables enjoy the view just as much as the next gal! 

 


 

But that wasn’t all we had for dinner. To me, a picnic ain’t a picnic without a salad, and particularly a hearty salad (as in, not lettuce).

Enter the curried lentil salad! I love when adding curry powder to anything makes it about 1000 x more delicious. This was certainly the case. Here’s what happened.

Step one: cook the lentils. I used brown lentils – put them in a pot with water and some salt, and cook for 30-40 minutes. Add more salt to taste. Refrigerate! Ah, easy as lentils. The best legume.

 Step two: chop fresh veggies. In this case, green onions, cilantro, green pepper, and cherry tomatoes. I used a generous amount of cilantro and green onion to make it nice and tangy, and because I think of a good lentil salad as having a lot of herbs in it.

Step three: make the dressing. Confession: I am a very poor food blogger so far because I so rarely measure anything—particularly sauces and dressings that I like to taste as I go. I add a little salt, or a little acid, or sweet, to make it to my liking. But to become a better food blogger I must begin to measure! So, forgive me this time. 

For my dressing, I used olive oil, lime, apple cider vinegar, agave, garlic, salt, pepper, and curry powder. Oh baby, it was good. A generous shaking of curry powder made this a step up from your average salad. I highly recommend!!!

Step four: toss it all together, and put it back in the fridge to let the flavors meld a bit.

ImageOh hey there, pretty thing. 

 

This salad could work with any veggies, but unless you really hate cilantro I say it is a must. Its bitterness works perfectly with the sweetness and complexity of the curry. Otherwise, any crunchy veggies will do!  


 

Yes, these two dishes might not be the easiest picnic to pack, but it came together surprisingly quickly (30 minutes I’d say) and they tasted even better with some springtime sunlight on them.

But wait! What’s a picnic without a cold beverage? That’s where Trader Joe’s comes in, where I bought some individual cans of beer for $1.50 each. Yeah! The Top Cutter IPA was hoppy and delicious and made me want to relax on the grass all day and buy about three more. 

ImageBeer and mustard? Classic combo?

And with that, Happy Spring! I’m welcoming the buds and green leaves and scent of daphne in the air with an open picnic basket! 

ImageCaught with my mouth on the picnic spoon… 

 

With love,

Hash Brown 

Lunchtime Lettuce Wraps and a Hummus Obsession

These days, I get home from working my current (soon to be over) job around 10 AM, and then have approximately four hours until I head back to work a few more hours. Suffice it to say, I will not miss the pre-dawn wake ups or the double commute. With that, however, I usually get up to some lunchtime experimenting. Weeks ago (oops, blogging is hard…) I had just made hummus and I wanted to eat it! And not just by the spoonful, although no shame in that regard. We didn’t have any bread, or anything to make sandwiches, but a whole bag of romaine lettuce awaited me… YUM.

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The lettuce wraps came together with what was in the fridge. In this case: cucumber, avocado, capers, tofu, cilantro, and some soy sauce to finish. And that is the beauty of lettuce wraps (or any wrap!), whatever works. The cucumbers and avocado made me want capers, and the tofu made me want soy sauce. I just chopped up the veggies, pan fried the tofu with some coconut oil to add some extra flavor and texture. It was indeed a beautiful harmony. Each wrap was crunchy, soft with the hummus and tofu, and amazingly flavorful, a great balance of salty, bitter, and tangy.

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Speaking of tangy, let’s move on to homemade hummus… Infinitely better than the store bought stuff.

Here are some things I love about making my hummus:

  • I actually use my arm muscles to pull Sam’s food processor down from a top shelf (one of the many perks of moving in with someone else quite obsessed with food, so many appliances!), those weaklings I don’t use every day.
  • It’s exactly the kind of hummus I like, lots of lemon, spicy with garlic, and a healthy dose of tahini. Oh, and nice and thick and fluffy.
  • I feel very accomplished afterwards, having made something that always seemed a bit overpriced to me at the grocery store (also feeling silly for not having made it before)!

And here’s the easiest recipe!

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • the juice of one lemon (and more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, depending on taste and size
  • 1 ½ cups chickpeas, or one can rinsed and drained
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt, to taste

To key to making it extra fluffy (according to http://www.inspiredtaste.net/15938/easy-and-smooth-hummus-recipe/) is to whip the tahini and lemon juice first, so that it becomes less like a paste and more like a light, fluffy substance .You can make this in a blender or food processor. Whizz the tahini and hummus for a minute or so, and make sure to scrape the sides and bottom, to get everything nice and fluffy! The color of the tahini will lighten and the texture will change too.

Then, add in the garlic, olive oil, and salt, and half the chickpeas. Let the food processor go to work on that, and then add the rest of the ‘banzos. Let it run again until you have achieved desired consistency! Yeah! That’s some beautiful homemade hummus! Feel free to drizzle with olive oil and spring some paprika on top if you’re serving for looks. Or, just because extra olive oil is usually quite delicious.

As I said, I like mine on the lemony (and salty) side, but the beauty of homemade hummus is that it’s your very own! I actually first got into making hummus when I made it with my cooking class at work. And man, did those kids go to work on squeezing those lemons! So, we ended up with really lemony hummus, but it was still awesome! Hummus is a very forgiving substance it seems, willing to work with ME and YOU! So have at it.

More to come soon! As soon as I remember to take pictures of my food, that is.

I’m Back!!!

Hash Brown’s Potatoes are back! Relocated to sunny (joking) Seattle! That has a nice ring to it, at least. I will unfortunately be away from Seattle during the two sunny months of the year, but that’s ok, because I will be on EVEN SUNNIER Orcas Island, otherwise known as my favorite place on earth. The point is, I currently live in Seattle, in a cozy apartment with the lovely Sam, and we have a fantastic view of the Olympic Mountains and Lake Union! Both are just slightly obstructed by the concrete monstrosity of I-5, but who am I to complain about that when I live in a truly beautiful place with trees and mountains and bodies of water?

 Note the sunset and mountains visible past all the concrete 🙂 Image

So, why am I back on the inter-webs, on which I so thoroughly try to avoid spending unnecessary amounts of time? I suppose the reason is that I want to believe that my life is a little bit interesting, that the foods I like to eat are pretty darn good (and I like making them too), and that I love my friends and family and like preaching to the choir about my life! So read on, my lovers around the world! 

Also, when I work a job with crazy hours, and happen to have an idle four hours in the middle of the day, I often make myself some pretty delicious lunches that I feel are worth sharing. And, yes, I could probably do more productive things with my time than… what is it I do with those four hours? (Hmm…) Mostly make lunch. 

Above all, I would like to be back on this slice of the internet because I love to write, and while I am a dedicated journal-er of my emotions and day to day activities, I would like to practice putting some things together in an organized fashion, and letting other people read them – even if it is just about food. But I love food, and you should too! That’s my argument, people: Love the food you eat and make and grow (if you’re lucky)! Maybe writing in this way will end up inspiring me to write more poetry, something I dearly miss but seem unable to do anything about. Indeed, this space is for me to practice and to share and to cultivate love and connectedness to those I love, since most of them are too far away for me to ladle them up my Friday night miso soup or lunchtime lettuce wraps (more on that one soon!).

Lastly, I must dedicate this new beginning to my dearest sister, who has faithfully kept this blog as her homepage on her computer—although it just broke, so I suppose no longer—for the two years that nothing new has appeared! What a girl, I love her so!   

Woo! Blogging!  

¿¿¿el fin???

Wow… I’m done! Well, at least with the academic portion of the semester, which arguably has not been the most important part. Or I suppose I should be more specific—I’ve finished my last formal assignment—because I really am learning through everything I do here.

On Tuesday, I left Chota with a first draft of my ISP paper, and came to Otavalo to spend the rest of this week editing, printing, making copies, etc. I had spent the weekend frantically writing, as my advisor told me he needed a first draft by Sunday morning, on Saturday night around 6PM. At that point, I had written about 10 pages… and I somehow managed to write about 12 more by the next morning. Luckily, I am obsessed with my topic, so the writing part wasn’t really as difficult as I thought it would be.

And, because I truly believe in the importance of what I am writing about (ok, wrote about, time to move on!), I will quickly summarize what I ended up writing about my longest paper ever.

In the end, my experience with “ethnoeducation” translated into the importance of educating from one’s own cultural reality, that a homogenous education system is not the answer because, despite the fact that we all share a common humanity (as I am apt to believe), culture and history are incredibly important.

The fact that Afroecuadorians have never been taught their own history, were not recognized legally in the country until 1998 Constitution, that this is racist country (it’s not alone), that there was no high school or electricity in el Valle del Chota until the late 70s, all have made me realize the importance of context, the importance of intercultural understanding, the importance of reinforcing a positive concept of identity.

And that is where the project of ethnoeduaction comes in. It provides a space, within the school and outside of it, that values the identity, history and culture of Afroecuadorians. For my project, I focused on its manifestation in the school system, the class of ethnoeduaction, the process of creating textbooks, and the goals for the future. But, as I was told many times, “es un proyecto de vida” – it’s a project of life.

Now, though, the project is moving into the formal sector, into schools, with the goal of being included in the national curriculum. More than ever, this is necessary. Ecuador claims to be an intercultural and plurinational state, but without the inclusion of Afroecuadorians in the education system, I argue that it is not. However, it is now firmly in the process, thanks to the dedication and hard work of individuals, working from the bottom up with very little funding, working hard to implement Afroecuadorian ethnoeduaction.

Essentially, I could talk about this forever—it’s amazing how much information I couldn’t put in a thirty page paper.

And wow, once again, I can’t believe that that part is over, basically what this whole semester has been leading up to. Also, the fact that it is May 4th?!? I can hardly believe it, where did these months go?

Now, I have a few weeks to keep discovering, keeping talking, keep eating the most delicious fruits, that have unfortunately made me a little sick, but that’s ok—the risks I was willing to take for part of the day spent in bed.

Example: for breakfast yesterday, Ellicott (my Otavalo and paper writing buddy) and I started out with a cup of Intag coffee, perhaps some of the best I’ve ever had, then headed to a bakery to buy some pan de maiz (cornbread, but nothing at all like US cornbread), which was also the best I’ve ever had, and then headed to the fruit market, and bought a huge papaya, split it down the middle, and had an excellent picnic back at our hostel. Many more delicious meals to come, I am sure.

On Sunday, our whole group meets up again for presentations and evaluation, and it will be so wonderful to see everyone again, hear all the stories, what everyone has learned and experienced!! And then, we have to say goodbye and be sad, but I’m just not going to think about that.

I was thinking this might be last blog post about Ecuador, but I need a little more distance to figure out what it has all meant, to sum it up. So, more to come, perhaps.

In these next two and a half weeks, I’ll do my best to keep making this one of the best times in my life. I don’t think it will too difficult…

**I wrote this on Friday– and am feeling much better!