Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Love to Nepal: Mushroom Curry

I woke up on Saturday April 25 to realize that another massive earthquake had rocked the globe. This time, Nepal was the victim. I don't claim to know anything about this country, its people, or its traditions. But I can tell you this, I am human and I do hurt for Nepal.  Above all, this specific place has just come into my life in a whole new way. And it hurts a little more to know a place that I am just getting to know has been devastated by such a disaster. 

Much before the quake, I met Bria. She works with me at The Mountaineers. And I can tell you one thing, Anne of Green Gables knew what she was talking about. Bria is, "A bosom friend–an intimate friend, you know–a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul." 

She came to Seattle from Minnesota where she had worked as a teacher. But before that, she worked in Nepal and grew so close to that community she calls many folks she met during that journey her family. 

The day I went to learn how to make Challah Bread, Bria came with me to help me shoot. Later that day, she surprised me and cooked us dinner. We made mushroom curry. Now two things about me, I don't like mushrooms and I don't like potatoes. Bria being a vegetarian, she could only leave out one of those two items. So thank god it was potatoes!

Just kidding..... I had to put my brave toes on for this food adventure. And bravely I did!

She took me into her retro Ballard kitchen, which has the BEST light, and I was transported to a whole new world. Grabbing a huge cookbook, which I refer to as the Nepali Food Bible, thumbing through the dogeared pages, and smelling all her ingredients, Bria began to cook me the BEST  mushroom potato dish I've ever had.

From Bria's kitchen to yours, let's travel to Nepal. 

Mushroom Curry
(Chyau ko Tarkaari)
  • 1LB fresh oyster mushrooms
  • 2 tbls mustard oil (good luck finding this in seattle, i just used peanut oil with fresh ground mustard seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 onion chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 green chili, halved (seeded for seattlites)
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (use additional fresh minced)
  • small pinch asafetida
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
Rinse mushrooms and drain. prepare, cut off very bottoms of stems etc. heat oil in a wide skillet or wok over medium high heat until faintly smoking. add fenugreek and fry until browned (5 seconds) too much and it adds a bitter taste to the meal. add onion, green chili, garlic, ginger, turmeric and finally asafetida and fry until onion softens (5 minutes) ad the mushrooms, coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne and cook uncovered, stir frequently until most liquid has evaporated (about 10 minutes). Then EAT IT

Radish Pickle
(Koreko Seto Mula Achaar)
  • 1.5 LBs white radish. cut however you lie. julliened. grated. thinly sliced. Go crazy. 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 tbls fresh lemon/lime juice
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tbls mustard oil (someone find mustard oil!!!!!!!!)
  • 1 dried red chili, seeded
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (fresh or otherwise)
  • pinch chopped garlic greens
Combine radish and salt, let stand for 10 minutes and then press and squeeze liquid from the radish. transfer to a bowl and stir in lemon juice and cayenne. heat oil in wok, medium high heat. when faintly smoking, add fenugreek and the chili, 5 seconds. sprinkle the oil with the turmeric and immediately pour over the radish. mix it up, let it stand, add some garlic greens and cover and refrigerate if not eating right away.

Mustard Greens
  • 2-3 bunches dark leafy greens. mustard greens. radish greens. spinach. throw em all in there. 
  • 3 tbls MUSTARD OIL 
  • 1/4 tsp ajowan seeds
  • 2 red dried chili,halved and seeded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Tear greens into bite sized pieces, rinse, drain, reserve for later. heat the oil, faintly smoking, add the ajowan and chili (by now you know the drill, just a couple seconds). add the rest, including the greens, cover pan and cook, stir occasionally, until your greens are (quite) tender and liquid has evaporated. EAT THAT UP.

*Side notes on cooking Nepali food* 
Don't be too particular. Really. It's going to taste great, just use your best judgement. The mustard oil is a key component to the flavor profile, perhaps not across the board but certainly in anything you're pickling. I've looked high and low. Someone the other day at the grocery thought I was making it up -- they didn't even believe mustard oil existed. That's how hard it has been to find it here. But I'm not crazy. It's real.
These recipes were adapted from the book Taste of Nepal. I use it as a back bone and just infuse whatever I'm making with the know how passed on to me from amazing sisters, mothers, aunties and grandmothers in Nepal. 

About me, love Bria:
I grew up in Minneapolis Minnesota. I grew up paddling the lakes and rivers with my mother, fording creeks and eating raspberries with my sister, and watching airplanes take off while eating ice cream cones with my dad. I've never had a clear picture of what I want to do, just live life everyday to the fullest (AKA have fun). I moved to Nepal during the summer of 2011 and stayed. I acquired 3 amazing sisters, 2 mischievous brothers, and parents that took care of me when I was sick and sad and tired. I fell in love with my life everyday, every morning, all over again. But then again, I always have. I struggled, I was challenged, and eventually I learned how to live in a completely different way. The food I ate was whole and life giving and delicious. The meal I made is lacking a main component, which is Daal. So, this is just a starter guide at some of my favorites. Don't forget the rice. Make lentils. Eat well. Live well. Love a lot. 

<3 Karen and Bria

P.S. Don't jump on a plane to Nepal. They will be okay, eventually. What will really help is your thoughts, prayers, and money (if you have any at all to spare). Read this article to learn more

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Chocolate Matcha Energy Balls

For those of you who don't know, I work at a really cool non-profit called The Mountaineers. We get people outside! One of the biggest reasons I work for The Mountaineers is because I want to honor my sense of adventure. And boy, do these folks really know how to challenge that! One of the biggest perks for working for "The Mounties" is getting to contribute to their quarterly magazine. Check out recent issues here!

The editor found out about my food blog and asked me to also start contributing recipes. So, one day I grabbed a couple colleagues and took over our break room to make a special hiking snack.

Needless to say, I have found some real kindred spirits at work. Up above is Bria, who you all will meet in the next post. And not pictured is Allison. She will hopefully agree to let me photograph her in the kitchen soon. A food stylist and ex-baker (now accountant?!), she was the rockstar of this baking adventure and photoshoot. I can't wait to learn more from these two ladies!

And with that long winded introduction, here's the excerpt from my article for The Mountaineer magazine! Introducing to you, Chocolate Matcha Energy BALLZ.

I find that I never have enough time to figure out good snacks to bring along with me for a day hike or a long camping trip. Nuts, trail mix, energy bars? Yeah, they do the trick. But don’t you find that the typical snacks become a little boring or bland? Mind you, I’m not trying to cook a gourmet meal and lug it in my pack. I need something compact and full of flavor. And most of all, I need something that will sustain me.

I decided to go the extra mile and make sure this treat not only kept you going but tasted great and kept you full too. Chocolate, cinnamon, cardamom, and almonds finish off these bites with a powerful tasty punch. Matcha isn’t the easiest to find, but you can find it at any natural food grocery like PCC or Whole Foods. For a more economic choice, head over to Trader Joe’s and get their matcha latté powder. It’ll still have the same taste!

You’ll need a food processor or a very powerful blender to make these. But you can make them in 10 minutes, tops.  And then boom, you have a wonderful and easy to pack snack in your pack!

  • 1 cup pitted dates (make sure they are sticky)
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  •   ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons matcha powder
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1  capful vanilla extract (about 1 teaspoon)

  1. Add the dates and the almonds in a food processor until you can roll the dough into a sticky ball
  2. Put the cocoa powder, matcha powder, spices, milk, and extract into the dough and pulse the food processor until combined
  3. Once combined, roll the dough into small 1’’ balls – dust with matcha powder if desired
  4. Store in fridge or freezer, pack along with you in the hills, or enjoy for a pre-work out snack.
It's hiking season people! Eat well! Be well! And subscribe below, you won't want to miss what's next. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rachel's Quinoa Honey Granola

Like I have said in earlier posts, I am a part of a Buy Nothing group within my neighborhood. It has blown me away. The generosity and level of care for one another that has been generated because of this Facebook group is an amazing feat. And this is a movement that is capturing the globe! Look at this article: 

Anyway, a while back when I joined my neighborhood's group, I found that this group contains so much more than "stuff". Enter Rachel who was reaching out for an amateur photographer to get some pictures taken for her cooking business: Milk and Honey. Getting some courage in my veins, I offered to help her. We set a date, and she welcomed me into her home. We shot for about an hour and I got to know Rachel better.

Her husband is doing his post-doctorate at the UW and she stays at home with her sheepish and yet adorable sons. A while back they moved to Seattle from Israel. She used to have a food blog and her own business back home, and now feeling settled in her new home, Rachel has decided to revitalize her business. 

Cooking her hometown favorites and all-time comfort foods, Rachel's food opened me up to a whole new taste pallet and new ways to incorporate wholesome ingredients into my favorite foods. One dish in particular caught my eye and I asked her for the recipe. Graciously she agreed and today I share with you one of the most unique combinations I have encountered so far: quinoa granola.

I mean it, Rachel is a creative freelance baker that is a wonderful friend to have your corner. Check out Milk & Honey today!

Rachel's Quinoa Honey Granola
3 C rolled oats 2/3 C uncooked quinoa 3/4 C unsweetened apple sauce 1/2 C honey 1/2 C orange/apple juice 2 Spoons Canola oil 1 TBS Cinnamon (optional) 1 TBS Vanilla exact 1/2 TBS salt Optional 1.5 C of dry fruits and nuts
Pre Heat ovet to 350 F Mix everything (not including the nuts and fruits)
Pure on a baking sheet and bake for 35-45 min stir occasionally
After cooling you can add the fruits and nuts

Friday, April 3, 2015

Busy week arugula apple quesadilla

Ever had one of those weeks where it seems like there isn't time to eat anything wholesome? All I have time to do is zap a cheese quesadilla and run out the door! But what are you missing? You got the carbs and the dairy, but what about the rest of the foods that sustain your body? The greens! I'm telling you, the greens are what keep you going! 

So if you are having one of those weeks, like I am, here is a grown up quesadilla that will really keep you going. It's time to add balsamic vinegar, arugula, and apples to that cheese and tortilla. No time to look at the clock, just go!

Also... Happy Easter // Passover

  • 1 tortilla 
  • Heaping handful of cheese, your choice
  • Handful of arugula or spinach 
  • 4 thin slices of apple
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees F
  • Add all ingredients onto tortilla and fold
  • Put onto cookie sheet and place into oven
  • Cook for 7 minutes and flip. Cook for another 7 minutes until tortilla is crunchy

Eat well! Be well! And don't go too crazy.