Category Archives: Food

Raw Veggie Tortilla Soup

Today I was at Costco, literally wandering the aisles aimlessly and stumbled upon not just a tasting booth, but a demonstration and tasting booth. The product was for some sort of blender (I think it is the Vitamix), and the girl doing the demonstration quickly made several smoothies and a batch of tortilla soup right before my eyes. It was amazing. What is more, she did it with all raw ingredients. For the soup, the blender heated up the soup automatically. It was a yummy, healthy, and extremely easy meal literally in a few minutes. In addition, the cleanup was a breeze. I thought only in a dream could I make and clean up a delicious meal in 5 minutes. I almost spent the $350, but I knew better than to buy something impulsively, so I decided I would think about it and put it on my Christmas list.

Even though my only purpose for entering Costco was to prepay for my gas, I couldn’t help but amble through the aisles. I just started meal planning last night and, even though I didn’t have time to make a grocery list, I tried to remember some ingredients I might need. By the time I arrived home, my mouth was watering for the Caanan-sized economical organic and amazing food I had found at Costco. I decided to do an experiement and see if I could make and easy and somewhat raw tortilla soup using my old, decrepit blender. The result was wonderful. It was a little messier than cooking with the fancy blender from Costco, but it was still a relatively quick meal.

Ingredients

  1. 1 gallon of quality chicken broth (I use Better Than Boullion)
  2. 6 handfuls of baby carrots
  3. 1/2 of a small onion
  4. Approximately 10 of those small sweet peppers, assorted yellow, orange, and red, stems on (you can also substitute regular larger bell peppers). No need to take the stem off!
  5. 3 Large sticks of celery
  6. 6 garlic cloves, with the paper-y skin on! I learned that it contains health benefits!*
  7. 5 Roma tomatoes
  8. 1 More Roma tomato
  9. 3-4 large handfuls of Spinach (I actually used a Spring Mix)
  10. Tortilla chips

Instructions

Boil carrots and onion in chicken broth until tender (approximately 25 minutes). Place the carrots and onion and some of the broth in a blender and puree. Dump this in to a different pot. Puree ingredients 4-7 (RAW!) in batches, using the remaining chicken broth to aid in the puree process. Dump each batch in to the pot with the pureed carrots/onion. Once finished pureeing ingredients 4-7, place ingredients 8-9 in the blender with some chicken broth (might have to do in batches) and use the “salsa” or “chop” setting. Dump contents with other pureed food.

And there is the base of the Raw Veggie Tortilla soup! I froze half of the soup. The last step is to place a quantity of the prepared soup base back in to the blender, throw in several handfuls of tortilla chips, and blend on a VERY low setting for just a few seconds (just enough to break up the chips.

Serve immediately!

I did not put tortilla chips in my frozen soup. When I am ready to use it, I will thaw it out, heat up the soup (not cook, just heat!), and then use the blender to integrate the tortilla chips just before serving.

It is soooooooooooo delicious and so many amazing raw veggies right there! If you have a better blender than I do, you might be able to throw the carrots (and onion) directly in the blender with hot chicken broth.

This is great served with tortilla chips crushed on top, as well. I’m sure it would be yummy topped with avocado, sour cream, and/or beans. I never knew eating whole foods (literally!) could be so easy and delicious! I am excited to try more blender cooking in the future!

*This article also supports what I just learned today during the super blender demonstration. Peels and skins of food contain lots of cancer fighting compounds! However, I would probably make sure your fruits and veggies come from a good source and possibly consider organic, since I am guessing certain peels and skins contain excess pesticides.

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Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey…

When I was young and recited this nursery rhyme, I thought that curds and whey sounded pretty disgusting. It always made me think of curdled milk. As I got older, I realized that curds and whey was probably something like cottage cheese.

Earlier this week I received my cheese making supplies, and I have been waiting for an opportunity for days to experience homemade cheese bliss.

After reading and re-reading my cheese recipe all week, I finally decided that I had sufficient time to do my cheese experiment today.

I planned to make mozzarella cheese. The process I found here
seemed pretty easy. I also initially decided on mozzarella cheese because 1. I love mozzarella cheese and 2. From everything I read, it is one of the most basic cheeses with the least amount of fancy equipment required.

Turning milk into a new product is always a little scary. I was pretty excited when my milk started looking like this:

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What you are looking at is a vat of curds and whey! Yum-o! Whether Little Miss Muffet ate that or cottage cheese, I’m not really sure, but I will find a solid answer at some point along my journey.

After successfully separating my curds from the whey, the experience went downhill from there. The instruction refer to draining the curds, but puts emphasis on not draining them too much. I think I erred on the other end, as my product at each step did not resemble the hypothetical product in the instructions. Nevertheless, I pressed on with my cheese-making, assuming that I would have some edible product at the end.

I formed very gooey and grainy mozzarella balls, which I don’t think resemble what I know to be mozzarella. I haven’t sampled them yet either but plan to this evening after they chill. Hopefully they turn out edible at least in a quesadilla. I feel, however, that all I ended up making were salted curds. Verdict to come soon.

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A Scientific Experiment

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I had a lot of produce last week:

25lbs of peaches
10lbs of carrots
6lbs of strawberries
5lb of chili peppers

You might be wondering why I haven’t posted much lately. The reason is due to an enormous amount of produce paired with a broken refrigerator. That’s right, I loaded up to stockpile my garage for Armageddon, and then my refrigerator broke, forcing me to run around in circles and confusion on how to live without my fridge.

While I wanted to can peaches, I ended up sticking 10lbs in our (working) freezer.

Instead of canning chile peppers, I made chorizo-stuffed peppers for dinner (very yummy, but once again, some of the peppers are painfully spicy. After chopping them up my hands were burning for a good 8 hours, and that was after rubbing a cocktail of remedies on them – everything from vinegar to milk to toothpaste to line juice. Ouch.)

Thankfully, outside my copious amount of produce, my fridge was pretty bare.  I decided I would do an experiment to test how important refrigeration is by seeing how long I could eat non-refrigerated foods before getting sick.

The Experiment: How Long Will Refrigerated Foods Stay Edible When Not Refrigerated?

Hypothesis
Foods will be edible, even when not refrigerated

Results
1. Milk – Milk smells off before it actually tastes off.  One of our jugs of milk lasted about a day and a half in the cooler before I threw it out.

2. Half-and-Half – Ultrapasturized half and half cream lasts a really long time outside of refrigeration!  I’ve actually been guilty of leaving it out all morning (since I drink coffee throughout the whole morning) various days and I have never encountered sour creamer.  Until last week.  Our Half-and-Half lasted about 2 days in and out of the cooler.  On the third morning, I made my much-needed coffee, squinting through crusty eyes, I grabbed the half and half, and watched chunky, white clumps plop in to my coffee cup.  The cream didn’t even smell bad, and I was even tempted to drink the coffee anyway.  However, the whole much needed effect of having creamy coffee was absent, as the cream separated into little chunks in my coffee.  It is definitely classified as a heterogeneous mixture.  I gave up on creamy coffee that morning, but I finally surrendered to a cup of black Joe in the afternoon.

3. Yogurt – my homemade yogurt didn’t even get to experience the lack of refrigeration, as there were only a few spoonfuls left when the whole fiasco started.  My grocery store yogurt, in which I invested to use as my starter yogurt culture, got to participate in the experiment.  I made some yummy homemade bread two days after the fridge stopped working.  The recipe called for water or whey, so I used all the whey that was in the yogurt.  Several hours later, I gave my two year old some yogurt.  She declined and said it was yucky.  Later, I tried the offending food, and it was indeed yucky.  I was very surprised, since yogurt doesn’t become yogurt without incubating.  I just figured it would get tangy hanging out in the cooler, but it was gross.  I am not sure if I can blame taking the whey out or the lack of a refrigerator.

4. Celery, onions, carrots, and peppers – all of these produce items stayed just fine and fresh!  The carrots are starting to look a bit shriveled, but they aren’t rotting or anything.

5. Bananas – I’m not sure why I stuck bananas in the cooler instead of the freezer.  The cooler reeked of the high-sugar fruit.  I ended up sticking them in our new freezer at the end of the experiment.

6. Eggs – When I lived in Mexico, the eggs are sold on a shelf as opposed to in the refrigerator section, so I was not too worried about them.  I’ve been eating our minimally refrigerated eggs and am still alive and well.

Conclusion
While I lived four days without a refrigerator, I do not want to embrace a lifestyle without a refrigerator, and would have much to learn if I had to live without a refrigerator permanently.