Tuesday Tips

Students return to this sleepy college town, coffee shops begin to bustle, bars advertising “help wanted.” The restaurant industry is a funny thing in these United States of different minimum wages but one federal one too low to live on in 1970, nevermind 2014. Debate today, reminding me of This Article I read a few days ago began with tipping and ended in a tip to me to take a walk. It is an interesting phenomenon, tipping of food-service workers and few others; not bad, not good. In Europe where wages are higher and taxes more uniform (generalizations, each) tipping is designed to show respect or appreciation. In America it is a confusing mixture of guilt, necessity, and generosity. As One who has worked in the business, in one way or another, I don’t expect tips but certainly enjoy when a customer gives one, however small. Tipping to me is a sign that I or the product I delivered gave someone satisfaction which is, to me, the purpose of service. Call me an idealist because there are those who would posit all labor is done for the extrinsic value alone. Yes, income is a wonderful thing, but so is satisfaction and maybe just a sense of benefaction, if serving a coffee or meal can be such. 

I believe the minimum wage should be higher. I also believe that tips should make up the base of most service-sector workers’ income but so is the world. The opening scene of Reservoir Dogs tackles the question as only script can and makes two conclusions: tipping isn’t the basis for a living but sadly is. Systems control the use of tips and ensure a “living wage” regardless of gratuity but can’t function as designed for the scale of the food industry. Even as wages rise, so does the cost of living and inflation meaning tips remain a necessity in America. 

Yes, I’m a tipper but so do I leave the penny-of-shame in the face of a truly indifferent server. In Europe, tips are expected but smaller and generally only reflective of service provided: 2% to 20% and the difference in meal cost makes up the 18% range? Perhaps. Doing some simple math, the poverty line rests at about 15 thousand US dollars per year, 125% of that according to the Department of Homeland Security is about 19,000 US dollars - these for a household of 2, so a single parent and child. at wages even above minimum wage, so lets say $8.50 per hour, at 40 hours per week and working 52 weeks per year, the earned income of a “full-time worker” without holidays is only about $17,000 annually. Don’t tip those being paid minimum or above minimum wage you say? Those wages still account for a significant bump in living. I don’t suspect most of those who would speak against tipping anyone except waitstaff technically “paid by wages” would wish such an annual income for themselves.

All I can say is don’t forget to tip your waitress, barista, bartender, or miserly diner: a living is a living, no matter how you work it.

A moving notice

I love Tumblr, but it’s not condusive to a cooking blog, sadly.

My blog has now moved to http://pescetimes.blogspot.com/.

Only my newest post has been moved with it, sorry!

Fruit on the plate…

For anyone who wants to find that sausage-y goodness from back in the meat eating times but just wants to try something that isn’t made from soy (I love soy, that said) there’s a wonderful company called Field Roast. I wanted to pick up one of their celebration roasts to freeze for Christmas or Thanksgiving this year (I’m tired of the prodding glare telling me to eat turkey). Stopping in Burlington Vermont (a teriffic college town by the way, filled with wonderful restaurants - go to Stone Soup if you’re ever there - and all sorts of stores) on my way back from a Montreal vacation, I ran across the company’s products in a large Co-Op market. I bought that roast and some of their delicious sausage - Sage Apple - and decided that I needed to make something summery to go with them. Grilling them simply, I served them with whole wheat Crepes - a personal favorite and, at the moment, of particular interest after my visit to Montreal - a delicious Avocado, Tomato, Onion salad from Clare’s Corner Copia in New Haven CT (Or their cookbook I should say) with added Bulgur Wheat, and a sweet fruit salsa I found at Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen

The sausage pre-made, the crepes simple to whip up, I’ll share the two recipes that accompanied and truly made the meal.

Blueberry-Peach Salsa (from Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries

1 peach

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper (or to taste)

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

Put blueberries in food processor. Pulse 4-5 times until berries are coarsely chopped. (Some berries will remain whole; do not over-chop.) Cut peach into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine berries and peach in a medium-sized bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Servings: 8

Yield: 3 cups

Avocado, Tomato, Onion (and Bulgur) Salad

(From the ever-wonderful Claire’s Corner Copia)

3 Large Tomatoes (I used solely cherry tomatoes, because my garden has been churning so many out this summer - about 2-3 cups, sliced into quarters)

1 Large avocado, ripe, peeled and sliced

1/4 small red onion (2-inch diameter, I made that mistake…) sliced into thin rings

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon (soft, roll it around before you cut it to help squeeze all of the juice out)

6 fresh basil leaves, chopped

salt to taste (1/2 tsp. or so)

1/2 tsp. pepper

And… I added about 1/2 cup of bulgur wheat, cooked, to the salad - to add some whole grain. The nuttiness surpasses that of brown rice, and it just fits nicely.

Cut each tomato (if using regular beefsteak… cut in half lengthwise, and cut each half into 6 wedges). Cut the avocado in half, and slice lengthwise, about 4-6 pieces per half. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix, careful not to mash the tomato or avocado slices.

A delicious dish, relatively easy to prepare, and simple to plate elegantly.

Baked Falafel Goodness…

I’ve had a hankering for Falafel lately (In fact the last time I had it was at the Newport Folk Festival…last year). Needless to say, my inner drive to eat Mediterranean foods forced my hand until I found myself smashing chickpeas with a fork.

Before any mixing, mashing, or slicing took place, I contemplated the nutritional benefits of making Falafel. Sure, the ingredients are healthy (A simple Chickpea is a good thing). Unfortunately the frying of such a wondrous food renders them high in calories. Baking, I thought to myself, I must bake them…

Baked Falafel is GOOD

From Chow Vegan I found this recipe. It was very good, I’d merely make sure to oil the baking sheet with Olive Oil next time, more of it than I used in Canola, and bake for a shorter time (15 on the first side, 5 on the second).

Baked Falafel

 

1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon flour + 1 Tablespoon Vital Wheat Gluten (if you have it).
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste

(Add any further spice to taste - dont skimp, you need more if you’re going for that strong Falafel-y flavor [at least I’ve] found beloved by so many)

Preheat the oven to 375. Oil a cookie sheet with olive oil (lightly). Smash the Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas) with a fork, until no whole beans remain. Add each of the ingredients (in no particular order), combining with a spatula. Make into golf-ball sized spheres and place on oiled sheet. Press, to flatten to roughly 1/2 the ball’s diameter.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip, and bake for another 5 on the second side (to brown evenly) 

Portsmouth for the day…

Do you need breakfast at every meal for the day? Yes, you do.
So go to the Friendly Toast, in Portsmouth New Hampshire, if you have the time some day.

I went for lunch and had a wonderful wrap - the Vegan Venetian? Sesame Tofu, sautéed Spinach, Tahini dressing, Brown Rice with a side of the best home fries I’ve ever had. Breakfast menu was too a wondrous thing: pancakes and waffles with some terrific flavors, eggs (their Cuban beans with an egg on top - sold), a delicious tofu scramble, inch thick toast (and unusual varieties). What isn’t there?

Falafel…No, tey have Falafel, and homeade Veggie Burgers.

Go there, and eat some of the delicious fare sure to please, vegetarians (Sausage and bacon can be replaced by their soy alternatives), carnivores, and pescetarians alike.

And while you’re in Portsmouth, head over to The Juicery - just a block over. they have food, but all I had was a unique green juice - delicious, and nutritious. They have more customary juices and smoothies (with a full list of nutrient ad-ons too!)

If you’re in the North East and find yourself bored, Portsmouth is a great day trip; a smaller albeit equally diverse city as Boston.

When Cookies Invade…

I just got the cookbook Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Might I be so bold as to say that this cookbook may be the greatest collection of cookie recipes I’ve ever seen? Yes.

I made the Banana everything cookies (or something like that) and the Cherry Almond Cookies. All I can say is wow. The former were simple, pulling together plenty of oatmeal, banana, and just enough chocolate chips to infuse the sweetness and remain a hint to the cookies’ wonder. The Cherry cookies didn’t bake quite as I had hoped (but I did have some frustrations with the oven I used, so…); that said, they were delicious, especially for the cookie connoisseur fond of almond extract (I really want some Marzipan…). 

I won’t share the recipes - you need to go buy the book. All I’ll say is that the other recipes I’ve tried have come out wonderfully as well - specifically the Mexican Chocolate Snicker doodles which are provided for at the Post Punk Kitchen

The party-goers I shared the banana and cherry cookies with loved them (unfortunately, that created some slight irritation in my better half, but se too enjoyed them). So try the book out, you won’t be sorry! 

The First Time I’ve Approved Of A Bread, Wholly…

I love Pumpkin Bread. I also Love Lemon Poppy-Seed baked things. Seldom would I recommend someone eat a bread like these as a healthy snack. I did, however find a recipe on one of my favorite cooking blogs - Half baked - for Carrot Muffins. A conglomeration, in the sense that everything fits, of fruits, nuts, and veggies made my mouth water; swapping in whole-wheat flower and yogurt made my stomach growl with desire. So I took out to design the perfectly healthy muffin for my mother when she asked me to bake her something as I offered to do some cooking (for myself… and anyone else) one weekend. Throwing the recipe together into my favorite loaf pan and several large muffin cups, I had found my favorite - and most publicly accepted - baked good to date. If you like Carrots, applesauce, yogurt, almonds, blueberries and warm breakfast breads, I suggest you take a look at this recipe!

2 1/4 Whole Wheat Flower
3/4 cup Agave Nectar + 1/4 cup Sugar (I use organic evaporated Cane Sugar - just a preference)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg (and whatever other sweet spices you may like)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups grated carrot, squeezed mostly dry (About 4 medium carrots)
1/2 cup Apple Sauce
1 Sliced Apple (A firm variety - granny smith… Partially peeled)
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats (or I Pureed Old-Fashioned rolled oats)
1/3 cup walnuts roughly chopped (Any Nut works though - I put almonds in the food processor… A loud adventure)
3 large eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil + 1 cup Fat-Free(or low-fat) plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla (And, as an afterthought - I didn’t actually try… - add 2 tsp almond extract - if you’re into the flavor only of course)

And… 1 cup Fresh blueberries (because they’re in season - hooray!) mashed slightly with a fork (just to help it blend in together)

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Combine: Agave nectar, sugar, apple sauce,  yogurt, extract(s), and set aside. In a larger bowl combine flower, baking soda, nutmeg…, cinnamon, and salt - whisk until combined. Add the eggs, oil, blueberries, apple, carrots, nuts (anything else/that I forgot?) to the flower mixture, mixing lightly, and then the wet mixture you first mixed. **Remember, only mix so that the flower is all combined and the mixture as homogeneous as such a chunky, awkward batter can be. over mixing will leave baked goods like this flat - you want it light!

Now, pour the batter into a greased loaf pan (maybe 2 inches deep for a long, skinny pan) and any excess into muffin cups (if that’s what you’re into).

Bake for about 10 minutes and check them - the muffins will finish first, around 12 minutes, the loaf pan closer to 15 minutes - careful not to overcook. slight moisture is ok, pull it out - let it cool and it should finish.

That’s ll there is to it. Enjoi :D

A perfect citrus pie

I’d like to say I did not create this terrific recipee - I found it at Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen - I find myself on it a lot. On that note, go see it, it’s wonderful.

It’s called a lemon custard pie and its much like a classic Key Lime Pie. With a fat-free crust and simple filling, it’s a terrific dessert (or breakfast…there’s oatmeal…).

Firstly, the crust:

1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup sorghum flour (may use whole wheat flour or a mixture of unbleached and whole wheat)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 tablespoons natural sugar
1/4 cup apple sauce

Puree the oats in a food processor or similar contraption and combine the dry ingredients in succession after the oats (within the processor…); combine all of the ingredients (wet and dry) in a bowl, mixing - it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes

I had some trouble getting the crust patted down into a 10-inch caserole dish, so the classic 9-inch pie pan would be easier I’m sure. Bake for about 9 minutes at 375, lightly oiled. For some reason my crust just would not flatten, it rose strangely (I was picturing a graham cracker crust crispiness) so I put a plate on it, weighed it down and let it cool. Not ideal, but it worked for me. (I’d recommend adjusting moisture level and temperature, just watch for burning!)

The Lemon filling comes next:

 

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. cornstarch (don’t be too stingy on it)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup fatfree soymilk
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • grated rind of 2 lemons (about 2 Tbsp.)

combining the starch, sugar and salt in a saucepan (make sure it’s large enough!) heat as you add the soymilk (you can use milk like I did, being without the soy variety) and water, until boiling. Make sure to whisk - whisking is the key, and whisk properly (I always get in trouble for using too much wrist). Cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking out the inevitable lumps and avoiding the browning indicative of burning. Remove from heat as the liquid begins to bubble (see, that boiling step…) and add lemon juice and zestings. Whisk it all together again and pour into the pie crust (now cooled) and let it sit in the fridge or other cool place to set (it will take some time - a day or so I found) and use any extra for immediate gratification/crestless desserts.

The one note I’d really like to add is that this could accomplish a terrific key-lime pie if you so choose - the author over at Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen is completely to be credited with this terrific recipe. I merely thought that it would make for an ideal key-lime pie consistency.

Thoreau, Thank You: +1

Apparently, Henry David Thoreau (yes of Walden and his many other essays and writings) invented the delicious food we hold so dear known as Raisin Bread. Doing some research on Transcendentalism, a friend of mine told me the other day and I thought yet further corners of the world ought to know. (How far this blog reaches is debatable but I like to think it’s special in its own right, thank you.)

More at Google books and SUNfiltered

Maybe it just came to him one day, whilst contemplating at Walden or maybe it was always with him…. (Transcendental thoughts mingle…)

The greatest center of Food in the cosmos (until I travel some more - well, come on, at least on the west coast though)
~Pikes Place Market, Seattle

The greatest center of Food in the cosmos (until I travel some more - well, come on, at least on the west coast though)

~Pikes Place Market, Seattle