Tastes Like Fall

fallgroceries

Here in Istanbul, we went through a very short and deceiving phase of freezing weather all of a sudden at some point back in September. Then all of a sudden it was really warm again, and all of a sudden I realized that maybe I had taken out the winter clothes a little too early. The good thing though is that I am at least organized for the winter now, washed everything, gave away what is probably unnecessary and still in good shape, and also got really confused in the process about why nothing is fitting my daughter. She must have had a growth spurt over the summer, because even pants that fit her a few months ago are now uncomfortable. I do forget she’s turning 4 very soon.

So I have been ordering most of my groceries from an organic farm in a village a few cities away for the last 2.5 years or so, and obviously everything is seasonal. So you’re not going to find eggplants and cucumbers, for example, in the winter. I find that by the end of a season, I am really looking forward to what the next season has to offer. So last week was the first week I had my first ‘fall’ delivery, and I was so excited to finally prepare some beet root, spinach, cabbage and whatnot for the week ahead. Of course there’s still some ‘summer’ staples available, like grapes and figs, but Fall is finally coming through.

I am not going to be sharing any recipes, but I want to give a few quick ideas on what you can do with some of the seasonal vegetables I got last week and what I did with them myself.

Also, a note on eating seasonally… I know in some countries you can still find fruits and vegetables that are out of season but are still produced without hormones and pesticides, usually shipped in from other countries or states. However, eating seasonally is ideal because foods that are in season correspond to what our bodies need the most during the current season. Have you ever craved watermelon on a cold winter day?

Other than crunching on most of the cauliflower head just straight up raw (my kids love raw vegetables but once they’re cooked… it’s a battle), we made it into a low carb cauliflower ‘mac ‘n’ cheese’. Honestly I prefer it just roasted until really tender, but it was going to be the main dish rather than a side dish that day so I had to be more creative. I usually roast beet root before storing to use in salad mostly, but I ended up boiling them instead – without removing the skin – and storing them in the fridge. Every time I make salad, I cut some into the salad, or I serve on its own as a side. You can sauté the tender shoots with some olive oil or butter and serve as a side. I grated the celeriac root with some carrots and sliced an apple into small, thin pieces to make a salad with a yogurt, olive oil & lemon juice dressing. The spinach was sliced and washed thoroughly before cooking with a very little bit of water just to allow some steam to develop in the covered pot on low heat, just until tender, and stored in the fridge. We used it in the morning to make some scrambled eggs with spinach. You can grate some aged cheese on top upon serving, or add some homemade pesto like we did. So far I have used both cabbages to make salad, once slaw and once just regular salad, thinly sliced with some tomatoes and cucumber and balsamic vinegar dressing, and I still have a ton of cabbage left so I will be using the white cabbage to make a delicious & simple cabbage stir fry with olive oil, turmeric, salt & red pepper until the very thinly sliced cabbage is extremely tender and well cooked. The fruits, we just enjoy straight up raw (except for the grapefruit which I prefer for juicing), and we do that as a snack in between meals or first thing in the morning before breakfast, because fruit is better before a main meal as it is digested quicker than other foods. How I missed the glorious pomegranate, also a favorite of my kids’. Oh, and before I forget, this was the last week I ordered some grapes, because you can tell they’re starting to say goodbye, so I washed them up and froze them in a container after removing from the stems. Great snack. Not pictured, I have some pumpkin which I will be using to make a meal with slow-baked rosto & cloves.

What’s your favorite way of using Fall vegetables (and fruits?)

 

Three Soup Favorites: Vegan Lentil, Vegetarian Ginger Pumpkin, Turmeric Chicken

I grew up in a family where soup was the staple dish of dinner nearly everyday, even in the hot summer days of Cyprus. After getting married, I didn’t insist on cooking soup as often as we did back home especially because my husband wasn’t big on soup either but now that I have a baby who is fed easier that way and who – mashallah – loves soup, I’m more motivated to make soup and I try to shoot for at least twice a week. If you make a large amount, it could last you for a couple of days, or you can freeze some and thaw it later at another date.

Last week I made some nettle & spinach soup which I think is also a favorite of mine, but I decided on these three for this post.

VEGAN RED LENTIL SOUP

Ingredients:

1 onion

2-3 small to medium carrots

1/2 cup red lentil

1-2 tsp tomato paste

approx. 4-5 cups water (guessing the amount off of my head right now. You might have to add more later as the water will lessen as the soup cooks, or you might leave it as is. Your call)

olive oil

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon

red chilli flakes

salt

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Red Lentil Soup

Chop up the onions and carrots. The shape is not important since you’ll blend this soup at the end but if you cut them up small they’ll cook faster. Rinse the lentils. Now you could start this off in two ways: either add everything all at once along with the water, minus the olive oil OR you could add the olive oil and the spices and then the vegetables and tomato paste, gently fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the lentils and the water. Once the vegetables are cooked through (usually the red lentils cook earlier, at least in my case. If the lentils you have take long you can try soaking them prior to cooking) blend the soup using a hand blender. Add more water if necessary. Salt & pepper to taste.

VEGETARIAN GINGER PUMPKIN SOUP

Ingredients:

1 pound of pumpkin

1 onion

piece of fresh ginger root size of half a thumb or 1/2 tsp of ginger in powder form

1/2 tsp cinnamon

coconut oil

butter (optional)

heavy cream or full fat milk (optional)

water

Normally I give the onions and pumpkin a quick fry and then boil them till they cook thoroughly and finally give it a blend, but this last time, I roasted the pumpkins instead. And I actually didn’t have any onions or ginger in the house (shhh) so it was definitely missing something BUT let’s assume I had onions and ginger, and this is how I ‘did’ it. Place the pumpkin on a baking tray, add some coconut oil and butter over it. Adding dairy to this recipe is completely optional. You can omit the dairy and have it vegan. You could also add nut milk for creaminess if you prefer that, up to you. Sprinkle some thyme, cinnamon and salt. Bake it until the pumpkin is cooked completely. In the meanwhile fry some onions with turmeric and some more coconut oil or butter (or olive oil) for a couple of minutes, add the baked pumpkins, add some water, blend until smooth and adjust the water to your own taste. Once the water comes to a gentle boil you can let it simmer for a bit and then finally add your cream. If you’ve noticed, I left out the amount for cream and water, because you’ll decide on the water according to your desired consistency, and the cream is added in small amounts usually (less than the water.) It’s really up to you.

TURMERIC CHICKEN SOUP

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 onion

1 carrot

1 tsp rosemary, dried

thumb sized ginger, shredded

2-3 cardamom pods

1/2 tsp cinnamon or 1-2 cinnamon sticks

1 lemon

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Chicken soup with rice
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For the LO & me

Squeeze a lemon over the the chicken and rub it clean using the lemon pieces. Put everything (excluding the lemon) into a large enough pot, cover the chicken with water and bring to a boil with the lid covered. Lower heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. This usually takes about an hour. Remove the chicken and sieve the stock into another pot. Now you can decide what you want to do with the remaining vegetables. I discarded it. Actually I do usually feed the cats, dogs and seagulls outside my kitchen window but I didn’t this time. Anyway, back to the recipe. I ended up cutting the chicken in half and baking one half with potatoes until nice and crispy at the top, and the other half is what went into the final soup. Just to clarify, we didn’t have two meals consisting mainly chicken in one day – we had the baked chicken the first day, and I prepared the soup the next day. Remove the chicken meat and shred it using your hand. Discard bones (now the cats and stuff came into play). I chose to save 1/4 in a glass container in the fridge to make into wraps or add to salad. The rest I threw into the stock which by the way is full of nutritious gelatin. You know that jelly when your stock gets cold? That stuff. You can also add some grains to your soup like barley or oat flakes. I added some small organic alphabet pasta lol. Adjust the salt & pepper if needed and once the grain is cooked the soup is ready. Squeeze some lemon and you’re done. This is a great choice if you’re trying to beat a cold too.

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I just realized all three soups have similar color tones! Enjoy. ♥

Note: I do not use refined salt in my recipes. I do not use processed oils. I try to use only pasture fed organic chicken and pasture fed organic dairy.