customizeable

Recipes for a Revolution

Friends, I’ve been keeping a pretty big secret from you. It’s a good one, though, and now that I’ve finally going to spill, I don’t think you’ll mind too much.

This summer, I’ve been writing a cookbook.

Correction. This summer, I’ve been procrastinating, suffering from writer’s block, stressing, furiously writing, recipe testing, mumbling to myself, and taking up the booths at Bardo Coffee for literally entire days–the result of which is a cookbook.

Recipes for a Revolution: A Practical Guide to the Care and Feeding of Activists, is part cookbook, part pep talk, for those of us who have heard the call to speak up and to act up– on behalf of equality, the protection of human rights, the protection of the environment, better education, better healthcare, a better food system, and to stand in the way of those who may be threatening those things. But, it’s not a book on how to be an activist. Rather, it’s a guide for activists who find themselves trying to juggle work, school, family, and the important work they do for the causes they believe in.

So many times, we find ourselves giving all our energy to everyone else, and not saving any time to care for ourselves.  As we set aside our own needs for healthful, nourishing food; for time to recharge; for the simple act of staying hydrated, we become more run down, more tired, maybe even sicker. This book serves as a gentle reminder that we must prioritize our physical, mental, and emotional well-being if we are to stay strong as activists and advocates for the issues that are important to us.

Recipes for a Revolution contains over 50 recipes, all carefully designed and chosen to provide an approachable, accessible, practical way to set ourselves up for success as we do this work of resisting. Whether you’ve only just heard the call to act, or your activism is much more developed, I believe this book can serve as a reference, a check-in with yourself, to help get your kitchen calibrated with that activism.

RFAR is available for pre-order in Kindle format for $13.99. If you buy now, it will automatically be delivered to your Kindle device when it releases on September 20th If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read it by downloading the free Kindle app to your phone or tablet, or reading it on your desktop through Amazon. However, I will have a .pdf version available for purchase, as well. You can pre-order now, and receive it the same day it releases for Kindle.

To pre-order the Kindle version, Just click here!

To pre-order the .pdf version, please e-mail gonnacookthat@gmail.com with “Cookbook Purchase Request” in the subject line, and I will send you a pre-order payment link through PayPal.

For those of you wondering, I will be creating a funding page to help cover the cost of generating a paperback version of the book later this year.  If you’re like me, cookbooks are just a thing you want to be able to hold in your hands, make notes in the margins, and keep close-by in the kitchen. Self-publishing a printed version of a book can be expensive, but it’s something I definitely want to make happen.

Thank you, so much, for your support!

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Rice, Rice Baby

Yeah, that pun was bad, even for me. I’m standing by it, though.

It’s still winter. STILL. You know, I pride myself on being relatively unaffected by the weather. It rarely stops me from doing what I want to do, and has almost no impact on my mood– usually. This winter has me all discombobulated, though. I have been in a perpetual state of “Why can’t I warm up?!?!” so I’ve been throwing together a lot of soups, and have eaten so much soup I’m feeling a bit sloshy. I decided (ok, the curriculum for week five at school decided and I agreed) that it was time for a change. Enter… Risotto.

If you’ve made it before, then you’re already familiar with how magical and comforting a bowl of creamy risotto can be. Infinitely customizeable, if you’re willing to put in the time and attention, a single pot of risotto can make a whole lotta people happy.

If you’ve never made it before… maybe because you’ve been too intimidated, or just didn’t feel like you had the time, let me assure you that 1) it’s not difficult, just a little demanding and 2) it doesn’t take nearly as long as you might think (20-25 minutes), and you can make it into a one pot meal, if you use your imagination.

If I had one tip for making risotto, it would be this: Never stop stirring. I’m being a little dramatic, but not very. The key to a creamy risotto is the stirring. Arborio rice, the type traditionally used for risotto, is a short grained rice with a very high starch content. It’s the constant stirring that allows the rice to release its starch and reach that creamy consistency.

Equipment:

2 medium sized pots
1 wooden spoon
Grater
Measuring cups and spoons
1 Ladle
Containers for your mis en place

Ingredients:
1 ounce plus 1/2 ounce butter
1/2 ounce olive oil
2 ounces finely diced onion
1 C Arborio Rice
4 ounces white wine
24 ounces chicken stock
1 ounce (or more, your call) grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

Get all your mis en place together right at the start, because risotto is kinda like a new puppy or a toddler– you can’t really walk away from it for very long.

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In your first pot, bring the chicken stock to a very gentle simmer on your back burner. The stock needs to stay heated the entire time.

In the second pot, heat the 1/2 ounce of butter plus the olive oil. Add the onion and sweat it (no browning) 2-3 minutes over medium heat.

Add the rice and stir it to coat for about a minute and a half. Do not brown the rice.

Starting from this point, you’re going to be adding your liquid in stages. You’ll add a little… stir, stir, stir, and watch for the rice to absorb almost all of it before adding the next round of liquid. You know it’s time to add more liquid when the level of the rice is above the level of the liquid. I tend to take my time with risotto because I like it really creamy. Our recipe said to add the stock one third at a time, but I add mine about a ladle full at a time.

Start by adding the wine, stirring as you let it fully absorb into the rice.

Add your first ladle of stock. Stir until it’s absorbed. This is what mine looked like just after the first addition of stock.

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You can see that the rice grains are all still very separate, and almost solid white because it hasn’t absorbed much liquid yet.

Add the stock a bit at a time (whatever amount you’re comfortable with, although I probably wouldn’t go more than 1/2 a cup at a time), continuously stirring. Make sure to keep the heat low enough that the liquid doesn’t boil. If it starts to boil, check your flame, and if necessary, take the pot off the heat for a few seconds just until the boiling subsides. It’s the low and slow cooking process that’s going to give you the creamiest risotto and prevent scorching. The recipe says the risotto should be done in 18-20 minutes, but mine tends to take about 25-28.

This is what it looked like with about five minutes to go:

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Can you see the difference? The rice has given off quite a bit of starch, and the grains are no longer separate and distinct.

When the rice is done, you’ll remove it from the heat and add the remaining butter and however much cheese you like, season with salt and pepper according to your preference, then serve it on a plate.

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When is it done? This is sort of up to you. I prefer mine sort of al dente, but probably not as toothy as someone from Italy would. If you want to take it all the way to the point where you can bite through the rice without any resistance, that’s really your prerogative, but if you let it go past that you just have mush, not risotto, so just be careful.

This recipe is for a really basic risotto, but let me reassure you that basic does not mean boring! It’s full of flavor, and would be a great starter to a meal. However, if you want to make things interesting you can add some blanched peas or sauteed mushrooms. Try mixing in a little pureed pumpkin or squash, or even some crispy pieces of bacon.  Play around with the cheese! Instead of regular white wine, use champagne! If you make it once, you’ll soon figure out that risotto is incredibly versatile.

If you have any leftovers, you can always whip up some arancini— delicious little balls of risotto that are breaded and fried. Who wouldn’t love a snack like that?

You guys… I’m cracking up over here!

I cannot help myself with the bad jokes. 

Though crackers were not on my “make them yourself” list for this year, when I saw this recipe from thekitchn.com, I instantly added them. I don’t eat a lot of crackers, but this recipe was so easy I can see whipping up a quick batch of these for a party or to bring to a party or other things where you share food that are party-like in nature. (Or if you really like crackers just make them for yourself and pour some wine and eat all the damn crackers. I don’t judge.)

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You can click the link for the recipe. The recipe lists out equipment for you and everything, just like I do. Nice, yes? I don’t have a rolling pin, so I just used a can of pears. No, really. Anything round with flat sides works!

I’ll walk you through the basic steps so you can see how things looked, and a few little hints and whatnot..

The dry ingredients are pretty straightforward: flour, sugar and salt. The wet ingredients are olive oil and water. The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of salt, so to add a little something different I used 1 tsp regular sea salt and 1 tsp smoked sea salt. I think you could get creative about adding other flavors, too, if you wanted.

Once you add the liquid to the dry ingredients, everything comes together pretty fast. At first, it kinda looks like a shaggy mess…

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But after I dumped it out on the (floured) counter and smooshed it together a little, it was easier to work with. The recipe says this is a no knead dough, which is true, but you will need to stick your hands in there and bring it all together. However, the nice thing about this dough is that it’s not sticky at all, thanks to the olive oil. You won’t be picking scraps of dough off your hands or your counter top.

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The instructions say to divide the dough in half and just work with half at a time. I didn’t really want a huge batch of crackers, so I just wrapped the 2nd half up and stuck it in the freezer for another time.

As I mentioned, I used a can of pears in lieu of a rolling pin. It was a little harder that way, but not ridiculous. I was still able to get the dough pretty thin. If you’re in the same rolling pin-less predicament, just remember to rub the sides of whatever replacement tool you use with a little flour so nothing sticks to it. Regardless of what you’re using, you’ll want to roll from the center of the dough outward toward the edges. The dough in the middle is thicker, so following that method helps redistribute it evenly all the way to the edges.

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Once you have your dough rolled out, a pizza cutter works nicely to cut the dough into crackers. Don’t worry about making perfect crackers. Just keep them all generally the same size. Remember, these are homemade, and it’s ok if they look like it. 

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The original recipe provides a suggestion for how you top these crackers, but you could use just about anything. Keep it simple with some sea salt and/or cracked pepper, or pull out your favourite seasoning blend and use that. I used Za’Atar spice, which includes sesame seeds, sumac, cumin, thyme, oregano and marjoram in it. 

The instructions also tell you to prick each cracker with a fork. Don’t skip this step or your crackers will all puff up on you and will likely burn on top.

That 12 minutes in the oven goes by fast, and with the higher oven temp (450°) you probably want to stay close to the kitchen. A few of mine burned anyway, but that’s pretty par for the course for me and anything baking related. Most of them are fine, and they taste really good!

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The entire process, from start to finish, took about 45 minutes, so this isn’t a labor intensive recipe at all. If I was a regular cracker eater, I can see making up a batch of these once a week without it becoming a pain in the butt. 

This is a recipe you can really customize to your own tastes, so give it a shot and have fun!