29 June 2010

Mind-benders: What's in that "burger"?

Show and tell time!

I just have to share this super-clever birthday party idea that my friend Allison did for her son's first birthday.

Check out these "burgers" - they're vegan, gluten free. And, sweet! That's right, they're dessert burgers (plus fries). How freaking cute, right?

Allison wanted me to be sure to credit Bakerella for the idea (here's Bakerella's post).

But I think Allison takes the cake (har, har) for her further dietary modifications. The "buns" are vanilla cupcake; the "burger" is a brownie; and the "veggies" are frosting made from Earth Balance products. Also, those "fries" are vegan sugar cookies.

I'm smitten!

25 June 2010


19 June 2010

Recipe test: Carrot/Radish salad

“I’m composing!” is a common line heard at Chez Duchene. We’re a family of artists; writing our main game.

So today, after returning from an exciting initial session with my photographer friend about her book (more on this to come), I walked in excited to tell Nate about my morning.

“I’m composing!” was the response from Nate, hunkered over his laptop, lost in a scene of his new screenplay.

As in, Shhh. Don’t bug me right now.

Not 30 minutes later, finished with his scene, Nate wandered into the kitchen ready to chat.

“I’m composing!” I replied.

But this time, not with words; root vegetables were my tool.

I’d been asked to bring a salad or veggie side dish to my family’s dinner gathering this evening. Plus, I had a crisper drawer full of radishes + a bag of organic carrots that needed to be put to use. So, after researching and brainstorming a way to achieve both goals, I landed on a new creation: Carrot-radish salad.

We’ll see how it goes over with my family – 8 adults and 2 kids ought to be a good testing ground.

For now, here’s the recipe in stage 1 of development:

Carrot-Radish Salad
12 thin organic carrots, grated (I whirled mine through the Cuisinart to make short work)
10 radishes, cut into matchsticks

Sweet-Chili Lime Dressing
1 T. salt
3 T. sweet chili sauce (found in the Asian-foods aisle)
3 T. Mirin
1 T. organic lime juice
6 T. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. black pepper

In a large bowl, gently mix the root vegetables. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together.

Just before serving, gently pour approx 1/2 the dressing over the vegetables and mix. Add more dressing to your tasting. (My hope is I’ve made just a smidge too much dressing & that we can cut back this recipe by 1/3).

I think, for color’s sake – and taste, too – that some chopped cilantro and/or black sesame seeds would make a nice garnish. I simply didn’t have any on-hand, so we went without.

*** Update: This went over well! Even the kiddos liked it. I put in a bit too much pepper (call me butterfingers!) but it didn't mar the flavor. Upon eating this, I think it's more like a carrot-radish slaw (minus the mayo). Another idea to add: snap peas for crunch and color. Good for summer picnics!

Want more recipes? Check out WanderFood Wednesday postings!

14 June 2010

How does my garden grow?

We've had an unseasonably cool and damp "spring" so far in Seattle. According to one stat, we haven't seen the temperature ascend to 75 since last fall. Like I've done many mornings in the past few weeks, I woke up and turned on the heat again this morning.


So, despite that the calendar says "June," I'm convinced that it's more like April. I can't tell what my garden thinks.

We're swimming in radishes. (Lesson learned: next year, I don't need to plant all of the seeds from the packet at once!)

There are blooms on the tomato and squash and pea plants.

Carrots are sprouting.

We've lost all of the pepper plants (jalapeno and sweet), which is a shame... maybe they needed a sweater.

The basil, too, is withered -- perhaps from over-watering (it sits under no protection from the rain).

Of course, the mint is spreading rampantly. Glad I stuck it in a container.

Fellow NW gardeners: How are your plots and plants doing? Any tips for me on what went awry with the peppers or basil?

Also, what can I do with all of these radishes? One friend mentioned pickling them... Also, I may buy some baguettes and slather them with butter and sea salt as a restful bed for thin slices, ala Molly Wizenberg's recipe. Any other recipes you'd care to share?

09 June 2010

The Game-Changer

It occurs to me that I've never shared Part 2 of my "How I Became a Vegetarian -- and How I Fell" story.

[Here's a link to Part 1 in case you want to catch up where I left off]

Flash back to 1996.

My new food plan -- a plant-based diet heavily influenced by Mediterranean foods such as pastas, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil (coincidentally, less straining on a college-student's budget) -- quickly became a habit. Before I knew it, I was graduating from college, finding a "real job" and engaged to my boyfriend (the same vegetarian I'd been dating in college). 10 meatless years had flown by.

I scarcely thought of what I was missing, until the fall of 2005. During a visit from my aunt and uncle, my mom grilled a salmon -- a tradition in the Pacific Northwest and a longstanding weakness of mine. I was already feeling fragile, as my stepdad had recently been through unexpected open-heart surgery. My guard was down. As we sat at the table, my aunt and I locked eyes as I picked at the fish. “Shh!” I whispered. She smiled. I stole another bite. And another. And another. I probably ate half of that 3-lb salmon myself that night.

That salmon satiated me until a trip to Kauai the next year. Sitting in the open breezeway of a small steak and fish house near Poipu, my husband, Nate, and I made a plan: Today we would try fish.

Why now? We’d been to the islands multiple times, always coming home to long faces as we told friends and family that we didn't enjoy the delicate mahi mahi or ono they found so integral to the Hawaiian vacation experience. But it wasn't the peer pressure that got us. Fact is, we'd both been feeling lethargic and plateauing in terms of our physical shape. It was time to shake things up, and Hawaii -- a vacation from reality -- was an idyllic place to start.

I ordered mahi mahi, Nate tuna. Our voices wavered as we placed our order. As the waitress retreated to put our ticket in the kitchen, we exchanged nervous looks. There was no going back. This food would arrive. We’d be paying for it, no matter what. Could we go through with eating it?

As the plates arrived, we each took a tentative first bite. Then, beaming, we raised our eyes, clinked our glasses, and devoured those fish.

There’s been no looking back -- both of us proudly pescatarian (or vegaquarian, as my friend Dana dubbed it) -- for the past few years.

The taste is one thing (divine). The health benefits another: After a few short weeks on fish, both of us noticed a measurable jaunt in our step and surge of energy as our protein levels rose above sea level.

06 June 2010