Sunday, January 6, 2008

Catching Up

It would be far too cumbersome to try to go back over everything I've added since I last posted. The holidays were busy, but my plan was to catch up while we were out of town resting until we were bored out of our heads. Unfortunately, the place we stayed had not entered the 21st Century, and therefore, I was without a reliable Internet connection. So, I'll just fill you in on some highlights.

First, I must share this French Lentil and Vegetable Soup from the Barefoot Contessa. This is everything a soup should be--rich, brothy, deep undertones. It is definitely a go-back-for-more kind of soup, one that takes any pain out of being a vegetarian. Truly, I can't imagine anyone not liking it (even you, blonde-haired mother of my grandchildren). The ingredient list isn't much different from any other lentil soup. I think the magic is in the slow saute of the onions and leeks at the beginning, and the splash of red wine at the end. Whatever it is, it is totally over-the-top good. This screams for some hearty, crusty bread to sop up any last bit of broth at the bottom of the bowl.

Another winner is Boulangerie Beans and Potatoes from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Attractive enough to serve to company, this is hearty and melts in yourmouth. I did the variation with sauteed leeks layered between the thinly sliced potatoes and creamy white beans. I already have leftovers packed to take for lunch tomorrow.
Although I stocked up on cookbooks at The Good Cook's after-Christmas sale (as well as their before-Christmas sale), Bittman's newest book is standing out as a favorite. I have his other cookbooks, but haven't used them a great deal. However, this one is a must-have resource. The recipes aren't complicated, but like Ina Garten's, seem to be more than the sum of their parts. Many substitutions and variations are provided for almost every recipe. They are also full of REAL food, not fake meat and other not-so-good-for-you vegetarian fake-outs. You could serve these to anyone and not feel compromised. Several of the recipes are already becoming standards in our house. Check out the Buttermilk Biscuits--they were in the oven within 10 minutes, and came out unbelievably light and rose sky-high. The Bulgur Chili is another winner, with a meaty taste despite being a vegan offering.

Check the side-bar under "Vegetarian," where I've indicated in parenthesis whether a recipe is vegan, or could be modified to vegan (by using a butter substitute or subbing vegetable broth for chicken broth). Sorry--they don't all have pictures. They were good, though.

Certainly, we are finding it easier than we thought to follow a vegetarian diet. Our resolution in this new year is to move further toward the vegan end of things, for all the same reasons we became vegetarians. I hope that I can still continue to providing you solid, family-pleasing meal ideas to help keep you healthy throughout your life. We don't like weird food any more than you do--so if we like it, there's a good chance you will, as well.

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