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Showing posts with label vegetarian lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetarian lifestyle. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Spicy Garden Pesto Pasta

I love pasta. I am safely pro-pasta. In fact, if I were to run for President of the United States of America, I'd say "Hello, I am WannaBGourmande, I am pro-pasta, and I am running for president." I'd clearly get elected because there are literally zero qualifications at this point to run the arguably most-powerful country in the world. (I hope I get to look back on this post and laugh.)

I'm an avid gardener, and wannabe homesteader. I sometimes think about changing my name to Wanna B. Homesteader, but that doesn't quite have the fun ring to it as 'gourmande' does. Plus, if my initials ended with "H", I couldn't call myself "Notorious WBG." Ultimately, I don't feel truly right calling myself a homesteader if I'm still living on the grid, but I try every day to live a better, more wholesome life through my food, through the ways I consume products, and the ways I live. I've sort of decided to call myself a lifestyle blogger, without the excessive posts on pinterest and falling into the trope of 'rich girl pinterest'. You know, chia seed smoothies in mason jars with organically-grown kale from the co-op? I want to write about cooking and being a chef and eating well on a tight-ass budget, because that's the truth that I know and have lived. Anyway, on to the eating.

Easy Homemade Pasta

  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Cool water, as needed

Making your own pasta is rewarding in both the culinary sense and the emotional sense. When making pasta, you can use the dough as a sort of worry stone. You'll have to knead the dough to be quite glutinous(no gluten-free pasta here; sorry, guys) and chewy, so you can use this moment to have your own version of tactile therapy. Go ahead; take the opportunity to imagine strangling your annoying coworker as you work the dough into the counter...because yes, Janet, I'm sure in your day you did just 'deal with it' even though the reality of anxiety and depression is that nobody ever got diagnosed properly, but sure, my generation totally invented mental illness.  But, seriously, there's no Netflix in prison, so just take your frustrations out on the dough and it'll be ready in no time.

You can combine this dough in the bowl of a standing mixer or do it the old-fashioned way, which is what I prefer. Simply pile your flour in the middle of your impeccably clean counter and make a well in the middle. Dump your eggs and oil in the center of the well, and use a fork to sort of break it up and beat it together. Using a dough scraper and your hands, fold the flour over and over each other to mix, then knead. Knead this for a solid five minutes, and remember that it's totally okay that you skipped arm day at the gym because of this.

Wrap your dough and let it rest for about ten minutes. If you have a pasta machine, take the time to set it up now. If you don't, you can easily just use a rolling pin to create long sheets of pasta and cut tagliatelle strips with a knife that you've rubbed with flour. Otherwise, once your resting time is up, roll and use your pasta machine as needed. Don't have these neat beechwood pasta racks? You can use plastic coat hangers(no seriously) or just pile them in 4 oz nests like these for easy portioning. If you don't intend to use them that evening, simply allow them to dry overnight, pop them in plastic bags (with a silica gel pack if you're feeling fancy), and then store them for up to 6 months in your pantry.

Green Garden Pesto
(rough estimates; use what you have!)
  • 2/3 fresh basil
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup nasturtium leaves
  • 8 sprigs parsley
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 9 small hot chile peppers, pan-roasted and seeded
  • 1/3 cup raw pistachio nuts, shelled
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
So here's the only bit of cooking that you have to do for this recipe: blister the peppers. I have so many tiny cayenetta peppers from my hanging basket planter, it's not even funny. You can wait until they turn red or use them green(which I like to do for this recipe), but be advised that they are spicy, so use with discretion if you're sensitive to that! I like lots of peppery bite, so I used plenty. This is easy: just take a saute pan, heat it up - without any fat in it, mind you - and blister the skin of the peppers. Just cook them until they're soft inside, and then remove the seeds by popping off the tops and just squeezing the insides out, like you might for a tube of toothpaste. 

This is the easiest pesto ever - just pop everything in a blender and blitz until smooth. You can add more mint, more basil, more parsley, whatever! I like lots of spinach in this because it gives such a nice sweetness and a bright green color to it. The nasturtium is used because I have lots of it, and it has a nice peppery bite to it. I've got more mint than I have basil, so I used that, as well, but not too much as to prevent it from overpowering anything. You can substitute the nasturtium for tarragon, chives, or olive oil instead of coconut/grapeseed. Use what you have; this recipe is meant to be easy!

For this recipe:
  1. Cook your pasta in boiling water. (90 seconds for fresh, 7 minutes for dried)
  2. Drain your pasta.
  3. Toss your pasta in a spoonful of pesto sauce and a dab of butter.
  4. Serve.
Thats. It. 

I served mine tonight with a center-cut pork chop, and some braised swiss chard with corn and leeks. It was a simple meal, and the only thing I really had to buy was the pork chops, which were from a BOGO(buy one, get one free) sale at the Hen House down the street. You don't even need the extra stuff; just a few shaves of parmesan or even a poached egg will do for a light dinner.  This, obviously, can be very easily made vegetarian, and even the most-discerning guests will appreciate something that you grew and made by hand!

A post shared by Kolika of Pistachio Bakehouse (@wannabgourmande) on

In reality, I spent about $5.49 for a nice meal for two people, considering everything else was already available in my home and garden. I know you won't be able to buy a house with that kind of savings, but you can certainly splurge on one more avocado toast at brunch when you're only spending roughly $2.25/per person, per meal, in your own home. The only real investment here made was time, which took - roughly - 40 minutes from start to finish. It might take the average home cook a hair longer, but it's still a simple meal that's economic, has a teeny-tiny carbon footprint in comparison to going out to a restaurant, and is very tasty. 

Oh, and you don't have to have a big garden to grow the herbs in this recipe; a sunny window box with mint, basil, nasturtium, etc., in it will do just fine. You can garden. I believe in you. You can empower yourself and homestead in a tiny apartment, in your own quiet way. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017

Just wanted to take a moment to wish my followers, and the rest of the world, a Happy New Year!

My New Year's Resolution? It's pretty simple. You can do it, too, if you like.

All I want to do this year is to make an impact. That's it! just make an impact. You can make an impact in big ways or little ways. What's a big way you can make an impact?

No Kid Hungry is an awesome charity that you can organize a fundraiser for

  • Organize a fundraiser for your favorite charity
  • Get out to your local county office and voice your concerns about your community
  • Petition to keep cursive in a primary curriculum
  • Call your mayor, senator, etc., and voice your concerns about the future 
  • Volunteer on your local school board
  • Go to a pet shelter and adopt a pet
  • Go to a pet shelter and volunteer there
  • Find a local assisted living facility and volunteer to help out there, too
Do those seem small? No way. Those are huge. Those things to do impact a lot. You will likely not see it on a global or national scale, but you will touch the lives of every person you meet on the way to getting those goals accomplished. 

Nothing better than getting a new best friend at your local shelter...

You don't think that volunteering at a pet shelter is having an impact? Look at the dog you're walking. Look at the workers that are tired and drained from watching those poor animals get sick or be passed over for younger or prettier dogs. Look at those animals with nobody to give them a forever home. You're helping them because you are becoming a positive presence in their lives. Look at what you can do. Yes, you.

Don't have the time or resources for the big ways? That's fine! Making an impact in a small way is good, too.

You can change the world with flowers, if you like

  • Say hello to your neighbors and ask them how they are
  • Walk your dog in your neighborhood
  • Plant a small garden
  • Take shorter showers
  • Go vegetarian for one day out of the week
  • Help someone else with their groceries
  • Smile when you make eye contact with someone on the street
  • Say "please" and "thank you"
Whoa, are these actions really something that makes an impact? Absolutely. These small, seemingly trivial acts will make an impact, but you might not see it right away. 

Tiny actions are like pebbles. You cast a small pebble in a pond and it ripples the surface; they're small, but look at how they grow! Someone, however, has to start them. You might not think that a simple walk around your neighborhood is much, but it's a step to being more active, so it's good for your health. Your neighbors will be conscious of your actions, too, and notice you more, which is safer for you if you start a routine and they notice you haven't done your daily walk in a long time...you'll also notice more things in your neighborhood, and maybe be more aware of the goings-on in your own backyard, which can be safer for everyone. 

Planting a small garden reduces your carbon footprint by adding a tiny bit more greenery...and if you plant things like lettuce or tomatoes, it'll cut down on your grocery bill! Maybe it'll grow into a hobby that you love, that gives  you a little bit more purpose, that brings you about 10% more happiness.

Going vegetarian for one day out of the week will impact your health in huge ways, as well as be better for the environment. There's a huge environmental impact that goes on when you choose meat every day, especially grass-fed beef. As horrible as it sounds, grass-fed is worse for the environment than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed animals need about 5 times more food than grain-fed, emit exponentially more methane(fart way more) than grain-fed, and takes all that much more land and water to maintain all of that grass than grain-fed animals do. Buying produce, however? That's good for your body, good for your wallet, and ultimately good for the planet. If everybody in America went vegetarian just once per day, you'd be shocked as to how much of an impact that would make for the planet. 

There was a point, in spring, that I didn't go to the grocery store for two weeks because of all the stuff I was growing.
You can only imagine how much money I saved.
Don't think that helping someone else at the grocery aisle is something powerful? Oh, ye of little faith. What if you became the highlight of someone's day by being that stranger, that random act of kindness? What if you were the sole reason a stranger smiles today? Can that be bad? Can that be harmful? Of course not. It's little changes every day that matter. No one person can change the world, but they can change their world. Let me say that again.

No one person can change the world, but they can change their world. 

So, yes. My resolution is to make an impact, even if it's a small one every day. 

And, of course, spend more time with my friends!

Happy cooking and happy eating.