Falling for Autumn

20 Oct

Fall is definitely here, as today’s rainy weather proudly attests. Nevermind that tomorrow will be in the 80s again. Today it is damp and cool and perfect for warm, soothing eats. Feast your eyes on my Tuesday in food.

The day started off with a bowl of warm steel-cut oats:

Topped with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and maple syrup. About five minutes later, I decided to eat a banana:

This combination is pretty much my favorite breakfast. For steel-cut-oat newbies, it cooks the same way as regular oats except that you measure out a ¼ cup per person instead of half, and they take a lot longer to cook. They are incredibly hearty and satisfying, though, so I think they’re worth the extra effort.

I came to work and brewed my morning tea. Today I chose Irish Breakfast and went with one tea bag (and half the water) instead of two:

I always drizzle in my local, raw honey for my allergy relief. And yes, it really was that dark in my office. That’s what happens when three of your four lightbulbs are out.

I didn’t even consider the weather when I made up my lunch soup this week, but I could not have picked a more perfectly, satisfying food:

Soup and salad. The latter is just half a container of organic spinach (2.5 cups or so) topped with Newman’s Own Lighten Up Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing and black pepper. I really, really need to stop being lazy and start making my own dressings again. The soup is incredible, seriously. It is warming and very thick and has an amazing roasted flavor. It is based largely on the Tomato-Rice Soup with Roasted Garlic and Navy Beans from Veganomicon, but I made enough changes that I feel comfortable posting the recipe for my version.

Roasty Toasty Tomato Rice Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced finely or minced
  • ½ cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • Heavy sprinkling of herbes de Provence
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 28-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced or crushed
  • 1 15-oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Wrap one head of garlic tightly in foil. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes. When it’s done, let it cool.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium heat. When hot, sautee onion in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add rice and spices to the pot and stir for a minute or two. Then add the tomatoes with juice. Fill the empty can with water and add it, too.
  4. Once the mixture comes to a boil (you can turn up the heat to medium-high if necessary to boil), cover and reduce the heat to low. Let soup simmer for 30-45 minutes (long enough for the rice to reach the desired texture).
  5. Meanwhile, squeeze the roasted garlic from the head into a bowl, and mash it with a fork. Add to the soup when the rice is almost done.
  6. When the rice is thoroughly cooked, add the navy beans and pepper to taste. Continue cooking just long enough to heat through, remove the bay leaf, and then eat.
  7. Serves 4.

Notes:

  • My recipe is different from the original in a few key ways: 1. I insist that you use fire-roasted tomatoes (I went with the Muir Glen brand). The flavor is incredibly delicious. You could use regular, but I don’t think it’ll be as good. Because I have texture problems involving tomatoes, I think I’ll puree mine next time, but don’t bother if you aren’t a weirdo like me. 2. My version serves four as an entrée (instead of 10-12), which is a much more manageable amount of soup for me. 3. I used more navy beans. Why not? And 4. I wasn’t sure if we had marjoram, as called for, and didn’t feel like digging through the pantry thoroughly, so I added an extra dash or two of thyme and then several sprinklings of herbes de Provence. If you don’t have the latter, leave it out. If you have marjoram, add ½ teaspoon.
  • Also, I feel I must confess that I neither diced nor minced my onion. I put it in the blender. I’m not proud, and it wasn’t the best solution, but I didn’t feel like crying or cleaning the food processor. There, now you know what a lazy cook I can be.
  • The book says to sub in three cloves of sautéed garlic if you don’t feel like roasting a head. However, roasting garlic is easier than sautéing it, so I highly recommend the recipe as written. It takes more time, but it’s completely inactive.

Anyway, that’s enough about lunch. I took my afternoon tea as per usual:

Organic Queen Bee Balance Tea (from Allegro – it contains raspberry leaf, rose petals, alfalfa, spearmint, chaste tree berry, dandelion leaf, cranberry spice, and vanilla and it’s nice for a lady’s most special time of the month) without honey since it tastes disgusting in this particular brew and a genuinely massive honeycrisp apple.

I came home to begin prepping dinner. Meanwhile, I had another PBOD. What’s my vehicle of choice?

Sorry.

Then my taller half and I took our evening stroll (we’re keeping this up even post-vacation) and finished making dinner after our return.

On my very orange plate: baked sweet potato topped with a tiny drizzle of olive oil, cayenne, black pepper, Chipotle Tabasco sauce, and ginger and half a roasted kabocha squash topped with another teeny drizz of olive oil, nutritional yeast and black pepper.For comparison, here is my love’s plate:

Same veggies plus broccoli, which I couldn’t eat because of all the peanut butter. His sweet potato had butter, cinnamon and sugar; his squash had butter, oregano, pepper, and herbes de Provence; and his broccoli had lemon juice and walnuts.

There was no room for dessert in my very full belly.

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