vivid greens

yummy vegetarian meals on the fly

Spinach May 17, 2011

Filed under: Basics,Green Scene — Vivid Greens @ 8:50 pm

What do you do when the spinach in your fridge start to go, um, soft?  I have two quick ways to use up greens that need to be eaten fast!

First, I think to sauté them.  Spinach leaves cook down to nothing, but remember that they retain a lot of their nutrients.  So even though it doesn’t look like you are eating much, you are actually still getting all the good stuff.  This way of cooking is quick and easy.  I usually throw a little olive oil in the pan, a little garlic, the greens and then maybe a touch of vinegar.  Another fun thing to try is to add dried fruit (like cranberries or chopped apricots) to the pan.  The heat and the oil will cause them to soften and plump up and it will add a nice little punch of flavor to your greens.

My other favorite thing to do with soft or spotty spinach is to throw it into a smoothie.  A favorite around here is a Greena Colata!  It’s just spinach, pineapple, one banana, coconut milk, lime juice, and shredded coconut.  This easy smoothie tastes great and is a fun way to celebrate the spring sunshine!


Broiler Fail May 10, 2011

Filed under: Basics — Vivid Greens @ 6:38 pm

So.  Last week, I discovered that pyrex is not broiler safe.  It actually says this on the above 8×8 pan.  After the mini-explosion that ruined my dinner, I read the fine print.  “No stovetop or broiler”.  Sigh.

It wouldn’t have been such a big deal, except that we thought I got a tiny bit of glass stuck in my eye.  There were several hilarious attempts to flush it out.  Which culminated in me lying in the bathtub fully clothed, while Dan poured water out of a teapot into my eye.  In the midst of all this, our very curious cat jumped onto his shoulders to see what was happening me.  It was funny in an awful way to look up and see her peering over at me, like, what’s wrong with you? or why is Dan waterboarding you?.  Dan was too busy trying to flush out my eye to move her, and then I got caught up in one of those horrible giggling fits where you are almost crying. It was hopeless.

One quick trip to the urgent care center and another more thorough trip to the eye doctor ran us $75, but we can all rest assured that there is absolutely no glass in my eye.

Note to self, when broiling use cast iron or other sturdy metal pans.  Be sure that there are no plastic parts which might melt or catch on fire.  In case of fire, have fire extinguisher handy.  Or baking soda if it’s a grease fire.

Good luck in the kitchen!


Decrystallizing Honey March 28, 2011

Filed under: Basics — Vivid Greens @ 8:48 pm

This winter my good local honey crystallized.  It became thick and clumpy and had a strong sugary gritty texture.  So (knowing full well that this was a correctable issue) I went out and bought a new, smaller bottle of honey.  And then, it happened to my new honey too!  This weekend I decided to put a stop to this cycle and figure out how to de-crystallize my honey.

It turns out that I should have been buying my honey in glass bottles, not plastic.  Then I could have easily heated some water in a pot and let the honey heat up through the glass and slowly become a soft, sweet liquid again.  Since I couldn’t remedy the packaging, and I didn’t want to heat plastic to the temperature that was needed.  I decided to put the honey in one of my new glass snapware containers.  These containers were a complete impulse purchase the other day, and I love them.

First, I filled a pot with water and then added the glass container full of honey.  I let the pot come to a slow boil and then reduced the heat just a little bit so that it still simmered.  I kept a pretty close eye on the honey, stirring it intermittently, and waiting for something to go wrong.

Surprisingly, nothing horrible happened.  It just heated up, smoothed out, and became perfectly lovely honey again.  I let the temperature of the water cool down before I pulled out the glass container and snapped on it’s lid.  Ta-da!



Black Beans from Scratch January 17, 2011

Filed under: Basics,Recipes — Vivid Greens @ 4:39 pm

One of my goals this year was to learn how to cook dried beans.  It always seemed like one of those things that would be kind of hard.  You know, the kind of thing that would require a lot of forethought and planning.  I was intimidated by the idea of soaking the beans for 8 hours before even beginning to cook them.

How silly I was!  Mark Bittman’s new book The Food Matters Cookbook inspired me to cook beans without soaking them first.  This method is very similar to how you cook lentils.  Which is to say, this was a very easy and didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would.  Still, I’d recommend doing this on a lazy afternoon when you have at least 2 hours to fiddle with the beans and the cooking water.

First, pick through the beans to see if there were any non-beans in the mix.  Put the beans in your pot and cover with cold water.  There should be about 3 – 4 inches of water on top of the beans.  Turn the heat up and bring the water to a boil.

I added a 1 inch chunk of dried kombu to the beans.  Kombu is a sea vegetable that aids with digestion and adds a nice flavor the beans as well.

Then reduce to a very low heat, just enough to keep a few small bubbles simmering up, and cover with a well-fitting lid.  At this point I was surprised to notice that the cooking water turned a very dark shade of purple/black.

After 30 minutes check the beans to see if they have begun to soften.  Just pop one in your mouth and see if you can bite it.  If so, add salt and pepper.  If not, put the lid back on and check every 15 minutes until you can.

After you season the beans, let them continue cooking until they have achieved the level of tenderness you desire.  Then drain the beans and do with them as you will.  Bittman says they are good in the fridge for about a week or the freezer for a couple of months.