Sprouting Bermuda and Sweet Potato Noodles

Sprouting Bermuda and sweet potato noodles. Sounds like an incantation. The incantation for spring to finally spring.

One day it's shorts and t-shirts, the next it's sweats and UGGs. You know, once I break out the shorts I just flat don't want to go back to heavy duty winter clothes. And that's what last Saturday was all about.

Joyous that winter in Northeast Texas was over, we bought Bermuda seed and spread it onto the lawn's bald spots. We watered and peacocked over our handiwork, imagining the lush green that would be sprouting in a week or so.

We leashed up the dogs and headed across the street to the greenbelt for what we knew would be a long, hot walk with the girls. Well, we walk, they pull. And by the end of the hour walk/pull we were indeed "glowing" in spring's warmth.

Ah, and then the shower felt wonderful. All the windows were open and the breeze was perfect at caressing each little bead of dampness on our skin into cooling moisture....for about 10 minutes. What?? The sky was greying....no, it was turning black. The breeze became a freight train and the rush was on to get all the windows closed. Tight. And the shorts and t-shirts were quickly ripped off and thrown into the closet in favor of the sweats, wool socks, and mugs of hot tea.

Winter's last hurrah.

And our thoughts for dinner quickly turned from a refreshing salad and assorted cheeses to "what will warm me from the inside??" Pizza? No, we had that on Friday night. Soup? No, we'd just recently finished the last of a big pot of tomato chickpea minestra. Noodles? Yeah! What kind?

A review of the pantry offered various rice noodles (vermicelli to 1" wide), corn, quinoa, mungbean threads, or sweet potato. Sweet potato. Start soaking.

A quick glance in the fridge offered tempeh, tofu, cabbage, golden beets, lots of ginger and tons of fruit. That's it??

Wow, who's been eating me out of house and home?!

I grabbed the tofu and cabbage, cubed both, marinated one and set the other aside. Whipped up a quick sauce and then threw it all in the pan and voila! Dindin is served. Belly is warmed. Smiles all around.

Winter's last hurrah is short lived! Spring is just around the corner! The Bermuda will sprout!!

Although it serves 6 according to the new and improved serving size guidelines, it only serves 3 of us: J and me, and J again. Play around with this; if you don't like cabbage, try zucchinis or broccoli; maybe add some minced ginger. If you're not vegetarian, it might work with chicken or shrimp?

Sweet Potato Noodles with Tofu and Cabbage

1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
2 tablespoons low sodium tamari
1 block extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes
sweet potato vermicelli (250g)*
1/3 cup low sodium tamari
2 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
juice of 1 lime (or 1/4 cup orange juice)
1 tablespoon kaffir lime leaves, finely julienned
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small or 1/2 large green cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces

1. In a small bowl, mix together the chili garlic paste and tamari. Stir in the tofu cubes and allow to marinate while the noodles soak and the rest of the ingredients are prepared/cooked.

2. Soak the sweet potato vermicelli in hot water for at least 1 hour.

3. In another small bowl, mix together the 1/3 cup tamari, honey, lime juice, and lime leaves. Set aside.

4. When you're ready to start cooking, drain the tofu and reserve the marinade.

5. Heat the oils in a large pan over medium high heat. Carefully add the tofu cubes and saute until golden on all sides.

6. Add the cabbage and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until the cabbage has softened.

7. Add the reserved marinade and tamari honey mixture, along with the drained noodles. Stir and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and allow the noodles to absorb the liquid, stirring occasionally so they don't stick and/or burn. You may need to add a bit of water if the noodles seem dry. They shouldn't be saucey, but not dry either. Reduce the heat further, if necessary.

8. When the noodles are cooked (soft and translucent), remove all to a serving dish and enjoy.

* I usually buy the 1 kg packet from my local Korean grocery and use about 1/4 of the package for this dish. If you like, the noodles can be cut into shorter lengths after soaking and before adding to the cooking pan. If you don't have or can't find sweet potato noodles, try rice vermicelli. They, too, will need to be soaked before cooking.

Damn, it's good to be a juista...

Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day and embodied everything that makes spring in Texas a joy. Saturday's last hurrah of winter ended and Sunday started as a day of sun billowing in through the windows. I ran outside to take a picture of the clematis blossom that had been blooming for days, but seemed so dreary till the sun started shining. Isn't she gorgeous -- all 7 inches of her???

And what better brekkie to welcome spring than blueberry pancakes and maple syrup?? Add a tall glass of freshly juiced fruit, and you can practically feel yourself radiating health and happiness.

I mixed the pancake batter and set it aside to "soften" for about 30 minutes; gluten free pancakes take a little more time -- time enought to make the juice. I love picking the flavors that will make the juice "du jour." J likes his juice ice cold; I like mine room temp. Just seems like the flavors are more real, natural when they're not chilled. But I keep apples and some other juice additions in the fridge to strike a happy medium.

So, two apples, a tangelo, a stalk of celery, 1/2 a golden beet, a large knob of ginger, a pear and some organic black cherry concentrate later and it's off to the Green Star to whip up a batch of the most incredible libation. Funny, when we first started juicing, J looked me from the corner of his eye with that "you're not serious" look as I suggested adding celery and ginger to the juice. When you grow up on powdered juice drinks or frozen concentrate, I guess it's hard to embrace celery in your fruit juice.

"Ok, maybe I'll experiment with it later ," I told him. Well, technically it was later -- 5 seconds later -- when I added the celery, and then the ginger, to the rest of the goodies going into the feed chute. I poured the concoction into glasses, put his in the fridge, and mine on the table.

Mm, the last pancake was sizzling in coconut oil and ready to be plated up. Ready to eat? Maple syrup drizzled onto each stack, we dug in. Lovely pillowy bites of blueberry-laden goodness, alternated with sips, no, gulps, of juice. Oh.My.Goodness. The breakfast of champions!!

"Man, this juice is great!!" J kept exclaiming. "I think that celery would've ruined the fruit flavor. What's that zing in here?"

"Ginger. And celery."

"Well, I like it." And not 5 seconds later, "I love it."

After brekkie, we took the dogs to Arbor Hills Park and did our usual: Jason ran the bike trail with Leia while I walked Sonoma around the main trail; we met at the bridge at trail's end, and switched out our girls so that I ended up walking Leia and Jason ran the bike trail with Sonoma.

The cardinals were trilling their beautiful songs from the tops of the hightest trees they could find. The texas vervain flecked the still grey-gold fields with its clusters of tiny purple flowers, each a little nosegay. All kinds of butterflies fluttering from the last blooms of the mountain laurels and redbuds to dandelions and clover. A redtail hawk perched at the edge of the woods, no doubt wondering what kinds of foreign "birds" the kites were. Avian UFOs??

And all the while I kept thinking about juice. How alive it made me feel, and how energetic. Wow, this was some tonic!! I just can't believe I'd had my juicer for a few months before I made my first batch of this miracle beverage. When I was considering chemo, no expense seemed too outrageous, nothing too complicated or time-consuming as far as my health and wellness were concerned. I'd read about the Green Star juicers and would have one, damn the cost. It arrived, I decided against chemo, and there it sat....on the counter....taking up precious space.

"Send the thing back if you're not gonna use it," J kept insisting " Where's the box? I'll pack it up."

"Whatever!! I'll use it!! I'll.Use.It!!!"

And use it I did, and use it I do, and use it WE do. We make juice every morning, and sometimes in the afternoon. We've been buying apples, tangelos, guavas, and every other kind of fruit out of the wazzoo. We try all kinds of combinations; some with veggies, some without. Some we like better than others, but they're all delicious. Leia and Sonoma love the Green Star, too. When we pull it forward on the counter, gather and prep all the fruits and veggies, they sit right at our feet, looking up at this thing that miraculously produces one of their favorit snacks: pulp!! Sometimes I wonder who loves the juicer more: we or the girls!

Using the juicer guarantees that nothing at all is wasted from the fruits and veggies that are getting to be more and more expensive. We drink the juice, the girls get the pulp. I feel good about helping save the planet. Everybody's happy. Everybody's healthy.

"Wanna make some juice before we go to bed?" J asks.

Damn, it's good to be a juista!!

One good turn....

...and see what happens?

That's what I mean about "random" acts of kindness -- they should be called "premeditated" acts of kindness. Even when they seem spur of the moment, they always issue from someone who has medidated on how to be kinder and more gracious.

Like Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. She gave away some delicious desserts a few months back.

In turn, Iwas inspired to give away a book last month.

My sister recently posted a "handmade give-away" on her facebook page. The catch? You had to promise to give away something handmade in return. For a handmade gift from my sister? You bet I signed up on the spot.

And now Ricki's at it again. This time, it's organic maple syrup from Coombs Family Farms that she'll ship to a lucky winner anywhere in North America!! And, if you live in the Toronto area, you can win one of her custom-baked chocolate layer cakes. Check out the photos she has posted of some of her beautiful creations and possible combinations, like chocolate cake with sweet potato truffle filling, and chocolate frosting. Oh, why-o-why do I live in Texas??? Make sure to check out her website, enter for the drawing, and just enjoy perusing her fun posts and ultra-delicious recipes.

Let their turns inspire your good turn. Because, as you know, for every good turn turn turn, there is a season, turn turn turn....

March 22 P.S. Ah, here's another givea-away, this time for a Vitamix. Check out Brilynn's blog at Jumbo Emapanadas and try not to drool as you read your way through her gorgeous photos and incredibly innovative recipes.

Name dropping....

I got out the hat.....

dropped in the names.....

and the winner is.....

My goal is to give away one cookbook per month for the rest of 2009. I'll be listing the next give-away shortly, so check back soon. Hey, if only 3 or so people enter the give-away each month, your odds of winning at some point during this year are really good.
Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings.