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Greens on the grill

2011 July 22
by Thehousedaddy

Virginia was off again on a work trip to Toronto. Usually when she is here we can for the most part do a little divide and conquer with the kid’s activities. With pick up from soccer camp and race to swim team, which is 5:30 for Noah and 6:30-7:30 for Sasha, I had little time to cook. When we got home, I sent the kids up to shower and got rolling. I always think I can prep a little before, but I am usually late for a pickup or stuck on the computer doing this blog or something else. Our family has been used to this. Her job has always required some travel. Usually it is just a night or two and she is able to take ridiculous flights to get home as quickly as possible. Traveling with a breast pump in the aftermath of 9/11 and having to explain to every TSA agent why she was carrying breast milk and not a baby made it much harder on her. When the kids were little I used to mark days off on the calendar like a convict serving time. “two more nights to go…just one day more….”Bedtime in particular was tough, but now I have found that I am almost more efficient without mom. I need to be much more organized and scheduled than I do when she is here. Her deal with the kids is if she spends a night away, they get a travel gift. They used to get baseball hats or shirts, but it got very expensive with frequent trips so it evolved into a key chain or hotel paper and pen.

So back to dinner for the night. Greens on the grill are fun to make and a great quick option. It is one of the easier things to throw together since it doesn’t matter how you put them on the grates. You can use any of the hearty greens available. I have used chard, bok choy, rapini, kale and broccoli rabe. Most of the time we get great local greens and feel really lucky to get these when the other local veggies are long gone or yet to arrive in the late fall and winter. I love the rabe since it requires very little attention on the grill and it is very dramatic looking while cooking. Sometimes we prepare it Asian style, but mostly stick to the Italian flavor. Usually we put it over pasta or polenta but you can also do it over rice or as a side dish. Today, greens were the focus of our meal, and the whole dinner took about twenty minutes to make top to bottom.

I will confess to going to the local grocery store in a pinch when we run out of local stuff and it isn’t a market day. It is amazing that even in deep dark winter, our local Giant has decent looking broccoli rabe.

I usually fill up the kitchen sink with water and put in four big bunches of greens. The fun part is how obscenely huge it seems. Virginia always comments on how much it looks like before you cook it, but it always cooks down to a third of original size. Letting the dirt and sand rinse out in the bottom of the sink I give it another quick rinse. I then shake the greens to get off as much water as possible. If I am cooking it on a stove I might use a salad spinner or towel to dry it, but on the grill you can be a lot looser. The fear of splattering oil is totally avoided on the grill. I then use grape seed oil, which has a higher burn point than most other oils and lightly dress the greens. I also toss in salt and pepper. Now the fun begins. With a very high fire on the grill, I dump on all the greens. With rabe, I am talking about six inches of greens. I spread them out as best I can to maintain an even thickness and shut the top quickly. I then walk away for about five minutes and come back armed with a spatula. I then try and turn over the pile to get the now browned greens off the grates and the top greens on the bottom. This whole process takes about fifteen minutes. While the greens are unattended, I prepare my pasta or polenta or whatever else I am going to serve with them.

This time I still had some great tomatoes that were perfectly ripe from my last visit to Twin Springs so I diced them up with finely chopped scapes and added olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of rice wine vinegar. It gives the dish some nice moisture and cool tangy taste. It is my raw tomato sauce that takes about a minute to make. With brown rice and soy macaroni and a glass Chianti for me, we had a full meal.

Virginia finished her meetings early and was able to get an early flight home. She didn’t make it home for dinner, but she was back for bedtime. I was very happy but the kids didn’t get a Blue Jays cap or even a Marriot Courtyard pen.

Fajita Night

2011 July 19
by Thehousedaddy

Every Friday night during swim season, Noah and Sasha’s swim team hosts a pep rally and dinner after practice at the pool. Swim team has been a great new addition to our recreational portfolio. With soccer, ski training, and a multitude of summer camps scheduled, the last thing in the world we needed was to add swim team to our schedule. With that said, it has been fabulous.

At the beginning of the summer we wouldn’t have called either of our kids a swimmer, but since their friends were doing swim team they decided that they wanted to do it as well. Noah couldn’t swim a lap when he started and now he swims every stroke in the meets. He is far from the best swimmer, but he really enjoys it and our new found swim culture. Sasha has become a winning kick boarder and so far that his event to loose at the B meets. Virginia and I never did swim team and never thought our kids would. Who wants to get up at 4:30 am to drive your kids to an indoor pool? As a skier and cyclist, I don’t totally appreciate the desire to stare at a black line in the water for hours on end, but the summer swim team at our outdoor pool is fun and the kids love it. My only hope is that they learn to swim really well.

The other night was supposed to be chicken fajitas after the pep rally, but due to a raging DC thunderstorm the rally was cancelled. We wouldn’t have eaten them anyway, but we had fajita on the brain and so we decided to do our own version. It was hot, so the grill was our choice once again for cooking. If we had more time we would have made our tortillas, but as usual we were out of time and had a very early home swim meet to get up for in the morning. I can usually find great organic homemade tortillas so we weren’t so disappointed, but I will do a post when we make fresh ones.

Once again the fridge dictated our dinner and we had supper fresh Twin Springs broccoli, green onions, carrots, red and yellow tomatoes and scapes. With olive oil, salt, pepper, dried chilies from our friends Brooklyn rooftop garden, we put the mix on the grill. I have always used the grill year round, but have found that there is very little you can’t cook on it.

I have written about our hot sauce on a few occasions. We have a few different variations depending on what type of food it is going to accompany. With all of the Asian food we eat, we typically use an Asian style sauce, which is raw and gets its distinction from sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Our other main hot sauce is a home blend that can be used on anything. I generally make a slightly different batch each time I make it. I always make with an olive oil base and salt, and can either roast the peppers, as I did with this one, or make it raw. Typically the salt, oil and vinegar allow it to keep for a long time. When you roast the peppers a whole new flavor comes out. There is a smoky richness that can give a dish a whole new dimension. Each pepper is very different in it’s heat index. Different batches of the same type of pepper differ greatly. It always takes a few tastes on food to figure out just how hot the sauce is. I often hurt myself and need to strip clothes off during a meal in order to combat the heat and sweat. The kids also like a little spice, but often over do it as well, and I end up eating more than I wanted or needed.

So with the added accompaniments of black beans, rice, guacamole, local lettuce and cherry tomatoes our meal was ready. Even though it was crazy hot, it felt like a red wine meal. We opened a bottle of Counoise. It is a little known Rhone wine that could stand up to the very strong flavors of the dish and help temper the flames in our mouths. I love to try unusual pairings of wines. Sometimes when cooking I taste a little something that triggers a ‘this might be good with that’ feeling and then go with it. I really feel like you don’t need to conform to any rules with wine with the exception of drink wine that you like. I often had to guide people towards different wines at my restaurant, but always tried to get a sense of the type of wine that people preferred. It is much easier to help someone pick out a wine that goes with a dish if you can establish what wine goes with that person. Just like food, everyone has different tastes.

As usual we got to bed later and fuller than we wanted, but we satisfied the fajita craving and had a wonderful meal.

Happy Bday

2011 July 13
by Thehousedaddy

Birthdays come with traditions in our home.  It is usually a two-night affair.  We rarely have parties even for the kid’s birthdays.  We always have a home night and a go out night.  For the home night the birthday person gets to pick their meal and the go out night they get to pick their restaurant.  It sounds simple, but there is always a lot of lobbying that takes place.  For the home meal the negotiation not only includes the main meal, but also the cake.

Yesterday was Virginia’s birthday.  On Sunday we went out to our favorite Thai place in town.  Since she is a San Francisco transplant we are always on the look out for good Thai.  I never really liked Thai food until I had it in San Francisco.  It was always the same dishes that were very heavy and goopy tasting to me.  While we have good Chinese food and great Burmese food in DC, Thai food was always lacking until we discovered Thai-Xing, an amazing place that ranks up there with some of the best food I have ever had period.  Chef Taw has opened his small row house as an amazing home restaurant.  It is an incredible place to dine.  While he accommodates vegetarians anytime, Sunday night he offers a veggie or vegan tasting menu.  The place is tiny. It literally has five tables fit into a small garden apartment that also has a converted commercial kitchen.  The setting is intimate even though you are in very close proximity to everyone else who is eating. Taw only does tasting menus and they generally start with a soup, papaya salad and multiple courses.  The dishes are served family style on banana leaves and each one has a unique flavor and taste.  It is BYO so for father’s day I got a travel wine bag just to use when we go to Thai-Xing.  I filled it with a light Muscadet from the Loire and lovely Cremant Rose.  Both were a good balance to the spice and hot temps.

Monday night was Virginia’s real birthday and for months she had been asking for me to make “real” paella.   Since she has celiac and is gluten free, rice dishes are always ranked high.  She loves to eat and requires not only a protein but also some kind of a starch.  Don’t ever try and give her steamed veggies or a salad for a meal.  She gets cranky.  We try not use white rice.  Spanish rice for paella and Arborio rice for risotto are really the best, but the dishes feel better for us if we can substitute brown rice.  It does require a little more cooking, but I think it works well.

Some of our meals are really quick.  This wasn’t one of those.  You could cheat some of the steps, but I wanted to make this very special and since the produce is so amazing this time of year, I went all out.  I started with baby artichokes that needed to be peeled and trimmed.  Since I had bread in the oven for the kids lunches and Virginia was making her own birthday cake (more later on that), I put the cleaned and quartered chokes in a covered pan with a little bit of water, oil, salt and pepper.  It only took about 15 minutes to cook and they were going to be one of the major veggies of the dish.  On the grill I put the rice with corn stock made from corn cobs, paprika, lots of saffron, salt, pepper and fresh sage.  I wanted to get the rice going since the brown rice takes longer to cook and absorb flavors.  After the rice was nearly done I emptied the pan and prepped it for cooking the veggies.  I put in some olive oil and then added the longer cooking items.  Almost everything was from Twin Springs as usual.  Back on the grill, I put in scapes, spring onions, field onions, limas and cauliflower.  Heat index was 100 so I was happy not to have the stove going in the kitchen.  I might spend more on propane than I would on air-conditioning, but the house stays cooler.  After those veggies got a little brown, but still crisp, I added the string beans, yellow and red tomatoes and artichokes.  When they were all just about done I put the rice back in and gently mixed so as not to break down the veggies.  We topped each dish with incredible home grown ground peppers from Martin and Jen’s wonderful rooftop garden in Brooklyn.  I opened a crisp Spanish Albarino to go with the theme.

I must say that it was awesome.  During my insane cook fest, Virginia picked the boys up from soccer camp.  I delivered Noah to Piano lessons while she baked her cake and then she picked Noah up and drove both Noah and Sasha to swim team.  Timing is hard since I am never sure when they will get back home, but she called with an ETA and I was able to time the cooking and factor in showers so we would be ready to eat when they got home and cleaned up.

Virginia bakes deserts.  I cook the food and bake the bread.  If it is my birthday I cook my dinner, and if it is her birthday she makes her cake.  Could we do it all for each other?  Sure, but we love to do what we do and that is how it works for us.  She loves chocolate and has perfected many gluten free vegan cakes, pies, cookies, crumbles and mousses.  She wanted chocolate but Noah did not.  She ended up making a coconut milk cake that might just be the new standard after Noah wore her down.  As a kid we all chose my mom’s red velvet cake.  That tradition ended with the vegan gluten free diet, but this cake was equally awesome.  She topped it with amazing local Twin Springs peaches.  I will say that her baking has improved tremendously.  Vegan she got pretty quickly, but the gluten free stuff used to have a strange texture and graininess.  Not this time.  Thank goodness we have a month until the next birthday.  I am full.


July 4th.

2011 July 8
by Thehousedaddy

When I was a little kid I loved July 4th. On our little street, we had eighty kids who were all roughly the same age. Historically, the day started off with a family softball game followed by a bike parade and then a massive scavenger hunt. We followed up the games with a street picnic that featured multiple grills and everyone’s favorite family food specialty. It was awesome. I now live on the same street with my family and the kid to adult ratio has changed. We have about fifteen kids now and a few grandchildren attend. While the event is much mellower than in the past, it is still something that we look forward to. The highlight for the kids is the bike parade and it always quickly deteriorates into a bike race. That would be fine except there are kids on tricycles, scooters and babies in strollers. My biggest concern is one of my kids flying into a grandparent spectator.

Directly following the parade is a neighborhood brunch. No more grills, but a large potluck buffet. I am never a fan of potluck. I rarely like to relinquish control of any meal. I like themes and flavors and tastes that work together. Some of the food looks really good, but it doesn’t always work together and as vegans, there is usually very little to eat. As my friend Adam, who hates cheese, always says, “there is hidden cheese in everything.” As a vegan, I am always amazed how much cheese is used in food. It is hard to find a salad without it. Noah and Sasha love bagels so there is usually a bagel and humus platter and along with what we make, is enough to give the meal a little heft for them.

For some reason our traditional potluck dish for this event has become a grilled corn, onion and tomato salad. This time of year Twin Springs market has the most amazing, corn, onions, tomatoes and herbs so this might be our inspiration. It is really easy to make and everyone seems to love it and the general comment is “can I get the recipe.” I shuck the corn and try and remove all of the hair. We then put them in a baking pan and lightly coat with grape seed oil, salt and pepper and then grill. I also cut onions in rings and season the same way and place on the grill. The end result should be that both the onions and corn are lightly brown on all sides. We cut the corn off the cob. It is easy to do once you get the feel. I like to lay the corn on a cutting board and use a sharp knife and start from the pointy end of the corn. With the knife tip I cut about three rows off at time and then rotate the cob. Some people stand the corn on end and cut down, but I find it to be much harder to handle and the corn flies all over the place. Once the corn is cut, I combine it with diced tomatoes and the diced grilled onions. I then add some olive oil, rice wine vinegar, salt pepper and this year fresh thyme and basil. I like it all to be chilled so the tomatoes don’t weep as much.

Virginia always brings a dessert and loves to be festive with the baking. Her chocolate vegan cupcakes are awesome and everyone who has ever had one hasn’t noticed that they don’t contain, butter, eggs or milk. Sometimes she makes them gluten-free so she can eat them. I will at some point have real recipes, but since we don’t really use them, it is hard to put them in. I hope to have an exact recipe for everything soon. We did all this in about an hour in between morning swim team practice and the start of the bike parade and still got to the local pool for what was a real kids party by noon.  As if the day wasn’t full enough, we headed downtown for dinner and fireworks.  Burma is one of our favorite places to eat.  We can literally have twenty vegan gluten-free dishes that are all completely unique and flavorful.  After stuffing ourselves we walked five blocks down to our favorite viewing spot just off the Mall.  We don’t go into the madness of the crowd, but can see everything and have a quick exit back up to Chinatown and our car.  The ride home is even better than the National firework display.  We drove a back way to avoid the traffic and rode through some little neighborhoods that have their own totally illegal, incredibly dangerous but very entertaining displays.  It was a long day filled with food and fun.

Beet Burgers

2011 July 1
by Thehousedaddy

Our eight year old Noah had his first overnight camp experience last night.  It really was his first night away from home without either of his parents.  Thursdays at Camp Calleva the kids spend a night under the stars.  Noah is sleeping in a field with the horses they have been riding on for the past few days.  He is always up for any adventure and was particularly excited about this one.  In fact, much more excited than we were.  In addition to missing and worrying (unnecessarily) about him, our biggest challenge was packing enough food for him for two days. Since camp isn’t totally accommodating for the vegan diet, we needed to prepare two lunches, dinner, and breakfast that could fit in a small cooler and stay fresh for two days.

Once we got Noah out the door, my thoughts, as usual, turned to what to make for dinner. Noah is usually the driving force behind our dinner selection.  He is down right exhausting sometimes with his conviction so we usually bend to his taste.  I  generally give into his choice since he is always very enthusiastic about what we make and most importantly, he loves our food.  He is a great diner.  He eats slowly and deliberately and always makes sure that spice, flavor and what ever accompanies a dish is just right.  Since we all remain at the table until everyone is finished eating, his little brother Sasha sometimes falls asleep at the table.  Noah is always the last to finish.  He loves to eat and converse.  He also never likes to miss a proper meal and regardless of the hour, he wants to sit and take his time.  Not always the best for a school night with multiple activities.

We might have created this monster by exposing him to four hour meals when he was four months old.  We brought him on a trip to Europe as a baby and had him sit in our laps for long multi-course meals.  Everyone thought we were insane to subject him and us to this, but we wanted to dine and we weren’t going to let him ruin our chance to have amazing Parisian meals.  They also didn’t seem to frown on the public breast-feeding which allowed him to dine with us.  Throughout his childhood we maintained family dinnertime and to this day we only eat as a family.

With no Noah at the table, I decided to make beet burgers.  Noah likes roasted beets in their pure form, but isn’t a fan of them in anything else.  Sasha likes beets and beet greens and I decided to turn a beet rice dish into burgers.  Not that I ever care about simulating meat, but this really looked like a rare burger when cooked.  We never go for the fake meat stuff.  No Tofurkey at our Thanksgiving and no simulated duck at our chineese meals.  I really feel like if you want to eat meat you should eat meat.  Not a fan of tricking my kids or myself.  We are veggies and eat veggies and at some point if my kids want to eat meat they will.

So in the food processor, I put our loosely called beet risotto into the food processor.  The mix contained brown rice, beets, beet greens, peas, onions, scapes and white beans.  I blended this with cornflower to give it a little structure that allowed me to form it into patties.  I then put the patties on the grill to slow cook.  I also made potato chips from the bigger new potatoes and put them on the grill coated in grape seed oil, salt and pepper.  I used the same seasoning for the first of the local bi-color corn from Twin Springs and grilled as well.  Since grill space was a premium, I squeezed in a few burger buns that I shaped from the dough I always keep in fridge and grilled some spring onions for the topping.  For the sauce we made some guacamole with Mediterranean cucumbers to add some crunch.  I totally screwed up and realized after eating way to much that I forgot to slice the most amazing yellow tomatoes ever that also made their  first appearance at the Twin Spring’s market this week.  It would have been a good addition to the burger, and I will make sure to include  with the leftovers.  To accompany the barbecue, I opened a vintage 1985 Alain Robert Champagne.  It was rich and delicious with the burgers and we toasted Noah’s adventure.



Pasta Pesto

2011 June 28
by Thehousedaddy

In our expanding line of what to make fast after a day filled with activity and little time to cook, we sometimes turn to Pasta Pesto. It is really just pesto, that can go on anything, but we love the sound of the words together and yell it loudly while making and serving it. This can be a seven minute meal for us and is so loaded with good nutrition that if you don’t have time it can stand on its own.

Our local market has started to have the big bushes of basil for less than the five leaf bush from the green house cost two weeks ago. I wish we had sun so we could grow it ourselves, but this is a really good alternative.  Since we have a great espresso maker the farmers market is our coffee shop.  Twin Springs Fruit Farm just across the PA boarder has been our main stay for many years.  The whole gang is wonderful and we all look forward to our market visits.  Even though our close friend Jimmy has moved to Spain, we still feel like we are home when it is market day.  Since they could walk, Noah and Sasha have tried to work at the market.  They love to help stock items and always put the baskets back from behind the registers.  Jeremiah, Brian and everyone else has fed our family for years with wonderful local produce.

For the vegan gluten-free family we use an Italian pasta that is made from brown rice, soy and potato. It is really awesome if you don’t have the time to roll out your own. While the pasta is cooking I wash and dry a huge bush of basil. I add olive oil, almonds, scapes, salt and pepper and food process until smooth. We all taste and put in more of what it needs. The pesto process takes less than the cooking time of the pasta and we can have a meal that has a ton of protein, iron and flavor. A nice white Burgundy completes the meal.

Indian Food

2011 June 27
by Thehousedaddy

The joke in our house is always the Thanksgiving one.  “This is a bigger mess than Thanksgiving or you have used every pot in the house. “ We had a crazy Saturday that started with an early, dry land ski training; ended with a swim meet at the pool; and included a long walk in the woods with Samantha.  We were exhausted from the week, but as we finally had a chance to sit down after all the scheduled activities were over, the discussion turned to dinner.  I always try to get a sense of what everyone has a taste for and then I try and think of what we have in the house and what needs to be cooked.  While the kids were in the water, I mentioned to Virginia that I had a taste for Indian.  When they finished swimming we polled them and Noah’s first thought was Indian.  With two out of four for Indian, we had our theme, although Virginia said she didn’t want to spend the whole night cooking.  I promised her she wouldn’t have to do a thing and then I roped everyone into prepping vegetables.

One of my favorite activities is to recreate what we’ve had when we go to dinner.  Sometimes it isn’t even what we’ve eaten, but rather a vegan interpretation of a non- vegan dish that one of our friends ordered that look good and adaptable.  One of our favorite places to go out in DC is Rasika.  It is a contemporary Indian place that has a very lively bar scene.  It was a go to place to grab a bite after a work function or lame work dinner that didn’t satisfy us.  We would go and sit at the bar and jockey for a space and dine either at the bar or at one of the little tables.  Getting a reservation is always hard and we are very last minute folks so it is even more difficult.  The kids love the atmosphere in the restaurant, but we found it pretty challenging to eat there as vegan. I started recreating some of their best, and my favorite dishes.

We love to dine out, but I feel for the most part that we can make what we like better than anyone else. I also feel that most people, when they get comfortable with cooking, can do the same.  Food is so personal and once you figure out the basics, you can cook anything you want. Indian cooking, depending on the region, can have ghee (or clarified butter) in many of the dishes.  It is easy to find great vegetarian Indian food, but it is pretty difficult to find Indian food that is vegan. We have also found that much of the cooking is very heavy.  Our main protein source when eating Indian comes from the lentils and chickpeas combined with rice. The lentil dish Dahl doesn’t need any fat, but cooking the onions with olive oil or vegetable oil is a much better and healthier option. And it is simple to make all of these dishes Gluten-Free, minus the Naan of course.

So what did we pull together for our meal? We made five dishes and brown rice.  The first dish was the red lentil Dahl, which consisted of onions, scapes, lentils, olive oil, and water.  Spiced with salt, pepper, turmeric, and curry powder.  Because it was pretty hot outside, I tried to use the grill as much as possible so not to heat up the house too much. For the net dish, I put some new red potatoes on the grill and while cooking those put on a cast iron casserole dish with chickpeas, garlic, oil and spices.  In the kitchen, Virginia and the kids picked English peas and wax beans.  I cleaned chard and started to make a simple tomato sauce with onions and scapes, which would be the base for the wax beans.  Rough chopped chard with green onions and garlic and oil was sautéed and then I added chunks of soy cheese.  I Cut the wax beans in thirds and added to the tomato mix and then took the potatoes off the grill and added them to the English peas that were cooking with scapes and onions.  I roughly mashed the potatoes and peas.  Each dish had some spices added.  I used curry, cumin, paprika, turmeric and salt and pepper to taste.  The rice maker finished and we were ready to plate.  To add real heat we put our own hot sauce made from fresh habaneras.  With everyone working the whole meal only took about 45 minutes. We opened a bottle of a Pinot based Rose’ from the Loire Valley which had enough flavor not to be crushed by the food, yet still crisp and refreshing.

Korean Black Bean Noodle

2011 June 23
by Thehousedaddy

Summer is more insane for us than any other time.  Both kids have all day soccer and then we some how got into swim team.  While Virginia and I both love to swim, we were never swim teamers.  This is an every night thing and it goes from 5:45 to 7:30.  Very hard to have dinner ready to go and get in bed in time for a 7 AM morning.  I have been forced to rethink the dinner prep.  I used to be able to put it together when the kids did homework or I could drop them off for piano or soccer and then come back to the house to stir a pot or put dish in the oven.  Now I either have to have it ready to go or minimize cook time to ten minutes while they are in the shower.  This means the heat and eat preparations are making a comeback.

From taco night last week I made a huge tub of black beans.  Tonight the Southwest became the far East.  I put the black beans in a pot and added soy, sesame oil, and mirin.  I made a quick batch of Rice noodles and grilled the last of the local asparagus.  I don’t usually dress the asparagus with more than salt pepper, but to keep the theme going and to give the little guys some help, I put on some toasted sesame seeds, soy and a little rice wine vinegar.  We added hot sauce and quickly had a vegan gluten free feast packed with protein.  A crisp Spanish Albarino was a perfect wine match.  It would also have been great with a beer.

Father’s Day

2011 June 20
by Thehousedaddy

Everyday is father’s day for me.  We aren’t so big on the Hallmark holidays, but we had a great Sunday.  As usual we started the day off with a walk in the woods with Samantha.  When it is this hot we always head to the creek so our old girl can swim.  After our workouts we went to see the Washington Nationals play the Orioles.  It isn’t something we do often, but we were given tickets by our neighbor and headed out the door.  Eating in stadiums is miserable for me, but the kids love it.  Even in a place like DC, one can get some vegan and gluten free options.  Peanuts are fun, pretzels, and the kids love French Fries.  Far from the garlic fries at the San Francisco stadium, but the kids love them and only get them when we go to events.  They even had a gluten free beer option.

We got home hot and sweaty and I couldn’t even imagine cooking and heating up the house, but the sight of all the hotdogs and burgers at the park inspired me to make veggie burgers and buns.  I also needed to make bread for the lunches this week and thought I would take advantage of the hot grill.  Making the vegan burger was simple since I had some lentils and brown rice in the fridge.  A quick blend in the food processor was all it took to get the consistency for shaping.  I was able to get the bread, for the week, the buns and burgers and potatoes on and then go take a shower while they cooked and baked.

We had some Petite Pan squash that desperately needed to be eaten and some ripe avocados that made great guacamole.  With fresh local tomatoes and arugula we had our fixings and our complete protein.  Nice to be able to eat healthy grill food after being surrounded by not so healthy grilled food all day.  And a cool crisp Muscadet  from the Loire valley tasted light and refreshing compared to the ball park beers.


Taco night

2011 June 16
by Thehousedaddy

I must admit.  We were going to take pictures before we started, but had swim team practice and we were hungry.  While I had the camera at the ready, we just started eating until I remembered we needed to document. The meal in itself doesn’t take too long to assemble, but it does take a while to prep. About three hours before dinner I was able to put on a pot of dried black beans. I covered them with water and put them on a low simmer. You can leave em alone if you have enough water and taste every now and then for tenderness. When they are just about ready I added a diced onion and garlic, salt and pepper and some olive oil for texture. I let it go for another half an hour while I assemble the toppings.

Sometimes we make tortillas which is easy and fun, but takes more time than we had on a school night. I chopped up fresh scapes and a spring onion from the market and then mashed avocados, salt, pepper, squeeze of lemon, diced Mediterranean cucumbers and a red bell pepper for the Guacamole. Fresh arugula, grated soy cheese and diced tomatoes rounded out the toppings. We put the tortillas on the grill to make them extra crispy and then top with our brown rice and beans and other sides. We also combine our house made habanero sauce with the beans to taste for each of us to make sure we have the right levels of spice for everyone.

You can make the beans and rice ahead of time and put the meat together in just minutes if you plan ahead.  The beans keep in the fridge for a week and we use them in other dishes.  For us vegans it is so important to have protein at the ready to put into a meal.  The beans take the longest cook, but are so easy to make.  We usually eat about 4-5 of these per person and with a light Gamay red wine from the Beaujolais we have one of our favorite meals.