the best intentions

Last week I thought I’d kick the posting back in to gear by setting a goal for myself to post something every day in December. I didn’t really realize that it *was* December until Sunday, which was already December 2. Sunday turned into Monday, which turned into Tuesday and then Wednesday and still I didn’t feel like sitting down at my computer after a whole day of sitting down at my other computer. So here I am on Thursday, which is better than never, right?

It’s Chanukah, so Happy Chanukah if that applies to you. I exercise at the Stamford JCC and they have a very nice Kosher bakery/restaurant inside. Every day this week I’ve been tempted by the smell of latkes and soufganiyot (jelly doughnuts). I thought about buying a latke but I’m too cheap. I’ll make latkes this weekend, either Saturday night or Sunday. Lately, I’ve been running more often. I’ve been mixing in the Ok Go Treadmill Workout (found on iTunes – get it free if you join the Apple Students Facebook group). The music is good and it prompts you to do intervals.

Last night I made an interesting rice pudding in the pressure cooker. No picture, but here’s the recipe that I adapted from Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure

Brown Rice Pudding
1 C long grain brown or brown basmati rice
1/3 C old fashioned oatmeal
10 oz apple juice
2 1/2 C hot water
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 C raisins
Mix all ingredients in the pressure cooker and bring up to high pressure. Lower temperature to just keep high pressure and cook for 40 minutes. Let pressure come down with natural release. Enjoy!

I tasted a little last night after it was done and it was quite good. I think I’ll have some for breakfast tomorrow and I’ll see how well it reheats. I also made a batch of pressure cooker poached pears last night. Delicious, as always! I don’t think I’ve posted a recipe for that yet.

Pressure Cooker “poached” Pears
4-6 pears
1/2 C water
raisins (optional)
Wash pears, then halve and core. Fit into your pressure cooker in a single layer. Add water and raisins if you desire. On high heat bring to high pressure. Once high pressure is reached, turn the burner off and release pressure naturally.

These were my contributions to our Thanksgiving feast in Seattle:

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard
Curried Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard

original recipe :

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard – with Sheri’s adaptations
Time: 1 hour

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth as needed
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups) – (our sweet potatoes were white!)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1 bay leaf
1 pound Swiss chard, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
on the side:
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges
1/4 cup chopped scallions, for garnish.

1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala and curry powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2. Stir in 4 cups broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. (If lentils seem dry, add up to 1 cup stock, as needed.) Stir in chard and salt and pepper, and continue cooking until lentils are tender and chard is cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes total.

Yield: 8 to 10 side-dish servings; 6 main-course servings.

and, Pumpkin, White Bean and Kale Ragout
Pumpkin, White Bean and Kale ragout

Original recipe:

Pumpkin, White Bean and Kale Ragout – with Sheri’s adaptations
Time: 1 1/4 hours

1 3-pound sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large leeks, cleaned and chopped, white and light green parts only – or 2 onions
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or use 3 cups cooked white beans)
2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 pound kale, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
1/3 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped, plus whole berries for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel pumpkin or squash. Trim stem, then halve pumpkin or squash and scoop out seeds (save for roasting if desired). Cut flesh into 1-inch cubes.

2. Spread cubes out on a large rimmed baking sheet. In small saucepan, combine butter or canola oil, syrup, 1 teaspoon vinegar, kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until butter melts; pour mixture over squash and toss to coat evenly. Roast, tossing occasionally, until pumpkin or squash is very tender and caramelized at edges, about 30 minutes.

3. In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks/onions, garlic, rosemary and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks/onions are very soft and not at all browned, about 15 minutes. Add beans and broth and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in kale. Simmer until kale is cooked down and very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in pumpkin or squash and chopped cranberries; season with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Garnish with additional cranberries and serve.

Yield: 8 to 10 side-dish servings; 6 main-course servings.

The original recipe called for dried cranberries, but I couldn’t find dried cranberries that weren’t coated in oil and/or sugar so i used dried cherries instead. I’ve made this recipe twice. The second time I forgot to buy leeks and I found onions to be an acceptable substitute for the leeks.

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