*Good.morn.ing*

I awoke in typical, I drank a bottle of wine by-myself fashion, with a dry mouth and confusion at 4 this morning. I can already sense this little note will be littered with mildly relevant cultural and pop references and have little to do with the crepes I just ate for breakfast.

Beginning on the journey of my morning: 4 am

I read a little of the book Julie and Julia 

I hate the main character (the author) of this book. She is self indulgent, self obsessed and not the kind of person I would want to be friends with or invite to a dinner party. I am not the largest fan of this book, yet I feel like this book is an appropriate read for my month of Martha. The main character was making crepes in the book-so I thought…let’s makes some crepes.

I made crepes

my last three crepes turned out exactly like my first two should of.

I wanted to make Spinach-Gruyere Gateau de Crepes

but I didn’t have all the ingredients. So I mixed mustard and sour cream and put it with some chard, onions and curry powder-Lesson 1. don’t do that ever again.

I organized my spice rack for the second time this month. Lucky for me I actually enjoy organizing it and I have no clue how to keep it organized, it works well for me.

Then I watched videos of the adorable Julia Child

And the mind-numbingly annoying Julie Powell

and researched what to do with egg cartons..

and..

Two cups of coffee later, laundry done, and counters cleaned, this type of a morning makes me want to drink wine and dance everyday.
That is until 6pm roles around and I am tired and have to go to bed like an old person in a nursing home. Eh, I see no problem here.

*coffee and cake*

Featured on countless MUST READ lists, how to make friends and influence people forgot to mention Martha Stewart’s almond-berry coffee cake. The book isn’t just for creepy business majors or socially inept individuals (though it would behoove them to read it) it is a basic tell all of how to not be a jerk and how to get people to like you by being friendly, interesting and a good friend, employee, person…But! it failed because if you really want to make friends, succeed in business, impress people, have fame and fortune..make Martha’s coffee cake and enjoy it with others.

It is the kind of food that you don’t even want to keep for yourself you want to throw it to the masses and say-eat! there is a party that is about to happen in your mouth.

*this side of somewhere*

I have never really been that impressed with potatoes. Perhaps it is the anthropomorphic, Mr. potato and his wife Mrs. Potato head that screwed with my taste buds and mind. Instead of being able to enjoy the flavors of the potato I feel shame and guilt for eating my childhood friends. Or maybe it is that the only way that potatoes are flavored in my life has been with with butter, oil, salt and occasionally some yellow seasoning or green stuff. Potatoes always felt like the cousin that would come over on Saturday, drinking wine coolers and wearing last years fashion-you would entertain her for a bit but really you just want her to get out of your house as soon as possible. I had a bag of potatoes hanging out on my kitchen floor that were left over from a camp we had, typically I would think about what to do with them, make stamps, mashes, soups…but they would sprout-turning into terrifying creatures, before I would actually make anything with them (because I didn’t really want to make anything with them anyways). This month I have been making something new and delicious everyday I discovered that yummy and potatoes go well together.

I racked my mind for fun potato recipes-put them in the oven, put them in some water, put them in some oil. BORING! Put eggs, flour, and salt in them blend them together roll them like a snake and put them in water-oh, yeah! Gnocchi.

Gnocchi pronounced nok-ee but me, being all Italian and unknowing like to say gnok-ee. Alright, alright this is like Nietzsche pronounced nee-chuh not chee or whatever all I know is that potato pasta gnocchi is delicious and I haven’t, yet, been able to get through a book by Nietzsche. Now on to more important things-Martha Stewart and her recipe for gnocchi you can watch a video with Francis Ford Coppola and Martha together making gnocchi, which I suggest because he tells stories about his family, life and gnocchi (traditionally served on Thursdays) or you can go to youtube.

I think this would be great paired with some cheese.

and maybe some wine.

*veggie and friends*

You are what you eat…

The way to live like a yogi is to eat like a yogi. I am about to hop on the train that is stockpiled with veggies, fruit, natural grains and dairy. The yogis believe that we are one (literally) and food isn’t just that delicious thing that I buy from the grocery store in shinny packaging that I open and scarf. It isn’t the explosion in my mouth as my taste buds freak out from synthesized and processed deliciousness. It isn’t the colors, the sensations, the social aspect, the consumption, the packages, the chemicals…..wait, what IS it then??!!

It is the slow and mindful preparation of food, the shopping from the farmers market or local venders, the delicate hand picking as you smell and feel the produce, it is the combinations of colors and tastes and textures.

It is sitting down with your food presented to you-television off, book closed and slowly bite by bite, chewing, tasting and savoring. It isn’t how I eat now.

Yogi eating is conscious eating or mindful eating.

Mindful eating is:
*setting

*sitting


*slowing down


*savoring

There are so many great resources for the food lover and conscious consumer. In Armenia, my options are sometimes more limited and sometimes less limited. There are no Saturday markets but the streets are filled with produce  venders selling seasonal fruits and vegetables, the summer months are plentiful and the winter months are cabbage, potatoes and beats (this is not an exageration). The summer sun brings with it lots of apricots, cherries, strawberries and lower prices on just about everything.

One of my favorite things in this life is fresh produce and cooking yummy things. There are programs in the States that bring produce to you. The ‘CSA program‘ brings farm fresh produce straight to your door. It turns out to be reasonably priced as you can share the costs with friends, family or neighbors and you are speaking with you wallet, placing money in the hands of people whose values you support, those with that local and organic love. Every couple of weeks, CSA brings a box of fresh produce from local farms;  this is especially fun for the creative cooker. Imagine, opening a box that contained some of those less popular veggies, perhaps unknown to you, such as root veggies or greens that haven’t made your acquaintance; now is your chance to become full on besties.

This can be intimidating at first and a little scary to break away from the routine of your store bought goods or typical lunches, but the joy that can be found from uncovering and discovering deliciousness will tickle your tongue. There are some web sites that are great resources for recipe finding and food making…
*Epicurios
*All recipes
*Cooks
*Recipe goldmine
*Food network

The yogi diet is a traditional natural food based lifestyle that is animal free.  This lacto-vegetarian diet, includes; grains, fruit, veggies, nuts, dairy, and honey. This means this once steak and bacon eating and hard boiled egg enjoying lady is going to become a conscious do-gooder to the animals and animals that never were (eggs). This valient effort is only for the rest of this month so resist the urge to give me ‘animalitarian’ award.
I have found some inspiration for this new lifestyle from the internet, the blogs herbivoracious and 101 cookbooks are some of my favorite healthy and meatless spots and I can’t wait to explore the amazing blogs of post punk kitchen, would rather gather and the cuteness of have cake, will travel.

My challenge for the remainder of this month is to eat as close to the earth as possible and eliminate meat, fish and eggs and add dairy and honey. I think this means I have to stop using my SWEET artificial sweetener so I am going to pour myself another cup of tea and flavor it with sweet hyrdocarbons (?) and then post this.

*Mighty millet me*

I have discovered something healthy and delicious….

As in science some of the greatest discoveries in life happen by a bit of an accident. It wasn’t the invention of cornflakes but it was something just as yummy…

While I was in the grocery store I picked up an item that I thought was couscous. I brought it home and prepared it just as I would couscous, which means cooking it for maybe 5 minutes. I tasted it and to my surprise and sadness it was the most disgusting food ever and nothing like couscous. I set it aside and was weary of touching it or eating it for a long time. Then I got really poor, really really poor and my only options for food was food that I didn’t have to spend any money on (because I didn’t have any money). So again, I pulled out the couscous impostor and attempted to make it. It wasn’t turning out to be anything resembling something palatable-so creative problem solving came to play and I added lots of seasonings-again, absolutely disgusting. I was beginning to see a trend with this little “food.”

I then brought the food in it’s Russian package to my neighbors to ask them how to prepare it. They told me they had no clue and that this food was not good and then brought out white rice to show me what I should be eating instead. I had them read the cooking directions-which says to cook in milk and add sugar. That sounded so odd to me and so unhealthy.

Later that week I was in the grocery store with some other volunteers and we were having a debate about what these little yellow balls were and we decided to ask the people at the check out counter. The cashier told us that people don’t eat this food, only chickens and men in the military. Well crap.

I am not one for giving up on things so I thought maybe the internet knows something that the people I talked to here don’t. I was right. I then went to this web site about pigeons and did some grain identification using this picture.

That is when I found out hens food, not couscous, but delicious and loved by birds and peeps alike-MILLET.

The millets are a group of small seeded species of cereal crops or grains, widely grown around the world for food and fodder.
love always, wikipedia.

Millet is pretty gosh darn marvelous-it is a seed and packed full of good for you stuff-like vitamins and proteins. It takes a little preparation but once you figure out how to cook with it-your life will change. It can be paired with some yogurt and be eaten for breakfast or it works as a nice rice substitute and can be eaten savory.

It can be soaked the night before to cut down of cooking time but if not 1 cup millet to 3 cups water (or milk) boil and let simmer for around 30 minutes. Roasting it for 4 minutes or so before you cook it in liquid can increase the nutty flavor…there are lots of options all pretty yum.

The reasons I am hooked on the mighty millet are numerous. There is also a cult following of people who subscribe to millet loving and wheat hating. Uh, that is because millet is gluten free-celiac disease friendly and and has disease resistant traits-whoa, jump on that train!

So have yourself a mighty millet breakfast, lunch or dinner


*Ravioli and Me*

I ate homemade ravioli today….

How to make Ravioli
3 cups of flour
3 egg yokes
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
a little bit of water
Beat the eggs and add them and the salt to a mixing bowl already filled with flour. Use your hands and mix to form a dough. If you can’t get all the flour hydrated into a dough, add more water until you can form a nice firm but sticky dough.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and stretchy. Although you can roll out the ravioli sheets immediately, letting the dough rest for 20 minutes or more allows the proteins in the dough to relax and makes rolling much easier. Rest the dough covered under the mixing bowl so it won’t dry out too much.
The rolling:
Split your dough into three parts. Take one of your dough balls and place it on a floured surface and begin the rolling-use enough flour so that your rolling pin (or in my case bottle) doesn’t stick to the dough. Keep rolling until your dough is pretty thin. So that you can see your hand through it-I made mine way to thick, don’t do this…just keep rolling.
Cutting:
I used a basic kitchen cup and made little circle with the rim of the glass. I put these on a floured surface and combined all the scraps at the end.
I also read about another way to make raviolis you make your dough into a large thin sheet. Then you spoon your filling on to your dough-painting egg around your filling. Drape another piece of dough over top and then press together. Using a knife cut the ravioli into squares, circles or heart pieces.
Filling:
So I learned that there are a lot of different ways that you can do the filling. It was a bit of trial and error but in the end I think I figured it out. You can take your individual circles and put a teaspoon of filling in the center then fold the circle into a half moon, pinching the sides together as you go. You can use an egg (I used my left over egg whites) as a sealant or a little bit of flour works too. I ran into some problems doing it this way-mainly my filling spilling everywhere. But I think this is a great way to do it, if you keep a couple of things in mind-the thinness of your dough and the thickness of your filling. For me-my dough was a little thick and my filling (more on that later) a little thinner. So I found another way to make these little ravioli’s.
I put a spoonful of filling in the center of a circle of dough that I had made then I took another dough circle and placed a little egg (with my finger) around the edges and then sealed the two together. I then took a fork and pressed the fork into the outer edges for some decorative flare. I think I was trying to impress myself. This worked great.
Then you place them into a pan of salted hot water. I did them in batches of four to five. Let them cook for a few minutes. Be gentle and use a spider strainer to fish em out and place them on a plate. I didn’t cook all of them, though. I just cooked what I wanted for that day. You can place them in a freezer until you want to cook them, just place them on a cookie sheet to freeze first.
The filling:
So the reality is you can do just about anything in a ravioli inside as long as you can get it to a consistency so that all the goodness can be contained in one spoonful. What I did was make a spinach filling but you could do meat, cheese, mushrooms…get wild.
For my spinach filling

one onion
two cloves of garlic
spinach
lots of greens
cheese
What I did was cooked the onion and garlic together with a little bit of olive oil until translucent. Then I added spinach and let that get nice and wilted. Then-I blended it all together in what in the states would be a food processor-just get everything small.  I added lots of fresh greens and shredded cheese and viola. That is it.
I adapted a few different recipes
this one tells of how to make the ravioli
this one for ideas on the filling and production