During the early years of raising a family, my parents didn't have much money. My mother ran the household on a strict and tight no-frills budget. I wore a lot of hand-me-down clothes from my cousins (which I loved, by the way). However, the one thing my mother wouldn't compromise on was her idea of what we should eat. My mother trimmed corners in other areas in order to put meat on the table nearly every night. We had good cuts of meat every evening that my father was home for dinner, and chicken, hamburgers or occasionally fish when he wasn't. My mother favored eye roast, steak, pot roast, chops and such — no spaghetti on our plates. There also was always a fresh salad, and sometimes frozen or canned vegetables. (I didn't even know fresh vegetables existed.) She seldom spent food budget money on soft drinks, chips or other junk food, saving it all for the good stuff. Lucky me, right?
Naturally, all I wanted was noodles, and for that I had to turn to my father. My father was not much of a home-arts kind of guy (this is an understatement in the extreme) but there were a few things he would cook if hounded enough. He could make pizza from scratch (learned from owning an Italian restaurant), grilled chickpeas (learned from his mother), and American chop suey (learned when he was a cook in the army). American chop suey was a mix of ground beef, tomato sauce and macaroni that I believed was something only my father made, and I loved it, though my mother wouldn't touch the stuff. I recently had my memory jolted by a post on Mitten Machen in which Mary provided a description and veganized recipe using tempeh, for this homey dish. What a shock! Naturally, I had to make it as soon as possible, and although I only had linguine instead of the small pasta traditionally used in the recipe, it was fabulously delicious. (Both Mary and I used quinoa pasta for this dish. Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta has become my husband's and my favorite pasta, and we use it for most of our pasta recipes.) You can see the American chop suey in the photo at the top of this post, and you should visit Mary's blog and make some! Thanks, Mary.
As I've been mentioning lately, we've had a bit of company, and our last guest, my brother, left Monday morning. On Sunday evening our son and d-i-l hosted a dinner for the family, and prepared some wonderful food.
Jamaican red bean stew (from Robin Robertson's "Quick Fix Vegetarian") in the slow cooker she found at our last Goodwill excursion. It was really great — spicy, fragrant and filling.
long beans and tofu. And I brought a salad. I hadn't actually planned to post a recipe so I didn't measure anything, but the salad turned out so well I wanted to share it. It was both beautiful and delicious, and I've reconstructed it as best I can, estimating when I didn't know exact amounts. It's the kind of recipe where a little more or less of one ingredient or another won't make or break the dish — lots of room for improvisation and customizing to your taste!
Tangy carrot and cabbage salad serves 10
- 3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
- 1/2 small purple cabbage, core removed, finely shredded
- 2 to 3 green onions, cut fine
- 1/2 to 1 small cucumber, sliced into thin spears (opt. but refreshing)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 5 to 8 ounces mixed baby salad greens
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- zest and juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 to 3 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar (to taste)
- 1 to 3 teaspoons agave syrup or other sweetener (to taste)
- fresh ground black pepper and salt (if needed)
- One to two hours ahead, prepare the carrots, cabbage, onions and cucumbers. (The cabbage should be halved lengthwise, leaving you with two identical halves. You will only need one half.) Place the carrots, cabbage, green onions, cranberries and cucumbers into a large bowl and combine.
- Make a dressing from the oil, lemon juice and zest, mustard, vinegar and agave. Mix until smooth, then mix the dressing into the vegetables. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
- Just before serving, add a few grinds of black pepper to the slaw mix and stir in. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.
- Add the fresh salad greens to the bowl and carefully but thoroughly mix the salad together.