|Pages from Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey|
The book is full of beautiful photos, historical narration, and intriguing recipes. It's vegetarian, not vegan, but many of the recipes are vegan, and the others are veganizable of course. Here's a link to some sample recipes to give an idea.
The Balkh Brown Lentil Soup (above) calls for fewer herbs and spices than I would usually add to lentil stews and soups, but it is so tasty in its simplicity. The recipe calls for toasting cumin seeds in oil, adding onions and garlic, then lentils and water to simmer. Towards the end you add some fresh orange and lime juice (it calls for Seville oranges, but if you don't have those, you can use a combination of orange and lime juice) and also angelica powder. According to the book, angelica powder is used as a souring agent in Persian cooking. I didn't have any, so I used a teaspoon of tamarind paste instead. From what I've gathered, angelica is nutritious and has many healthful properties; I really want to get my hands on some. Seasoned to taste, and topped with fried onions and parsley, the soup is more than the sum of its parts.
The next recipe I chose was a Bulger and Mung Bean Pilaf. It's another winner, seasoned with cumin seeds, shredded ginger, turmeric, and chili peppers, it's so yummy topped with fresh lemon juice and fresh herbs. The mung beans and bulger go well together and create a great texture. I ate two bowls of the leftovers for breakfast this morning.
The whole meal was a bit of a feast actually, we had the soup as a starter and then the pilaf with a spinach, mushroom, carrot salad and a tofu tart with roasted summer squash and tomato:
The tart turned out just "ok". The tofu filling was tasty enough, I added miso paste, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, almond milk, pine nuts, garlic, onion powder, kala namak salt, and some ume vinegar, but it didn't cook through how I wanted it...I'm still trying to get a feel for the calibration of my new oven.
For other news, the garden is thriving. I've been harvesting fresh greens galore.
So far, we've been munching on mustard-spinach ( a hybrid of the two and a less spicy than pure mustard greens), baby kale, spinach, and radishes. I'm waiting a little longer to harvest the dandelion greens and the lettuce. The chard and collard greens will be another few weeks before they grow into nice big plants. It's a bit overcrowded at the moment, but as we harvest, space will open up.
I keep the greens under a poly tunnel at night and on cloudy days, and it makes a phenomenal difference in how fast things grow. Here's the same bed about a month ago:
It's easy to make a poly tunnel. All you need is some rebar stakes, some pliable tubing that you can get in a hardware store, and some opaque painters' plastic. You can attach the plastic to the tubes with large binder clips. This works great in climates where the temps are cool in spring and fall.
Green juice from the garden: radish tops, parsley, mustard-spinach, celery (not from the garden) and sorrel:
Radishes are one of my favorite vegetables, and for any newbie gardeners out there, I highly recommend giving radishes a try. They grow quickly and easily...and, you get double for your efforts; harvest the roots for salads and what not (you can cook them too) and eat the greens in stir fries or juices. The greens are a bit stickery, but if you steam them or juice them it's not a problem. Radishes are just little turnips, so I wager that the greens are super nutritious like turnip greens. The radishes themselves are pretty nutritious too.
My tomato and pepper starts are some of the slowest growing little guys I've ever seen! Come on guys...get growing!
And finally, in some family news: my mom adopted a little dog from a K-9 death row rescue:
Her name is Lula, and she's super smart and sweet. She adores my mom, and we all love her. I've been visiting a lot to get in on the walking action. I hope to post a video of her soon doing one of her happy dances, which are really adorable.