Summertime!

"Summertime, and the livin' is easy. Fish are jumping and the cotton is high..." played the soundtrack in my mind yesterday as I looked at out the idyllic scene where I work. For those of you who are not musical theater buffs, these lyrics are from the super famous song composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera, Porgy and Bess. And because I just can't fail to mention greatness, I have to point you to this here link for a recording of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong performing this jazz standard together. Brilliant.

I have the very good fortune to work for a family several days a week out at their home. The house is absolutely gorgeous, with large windows all along the south-facing wall. It gets even better when you look out all those south-facing windows at pond surrounded by green forest. I swear I go to work in order to relax and engage in

The word "pond" seems like such a diminutive description of something so beautiful. It is ever-changing - covered in ice in the winter, steaming in the cool of the early spring mornings, marbled with green algae in the summer. In fact the algae itself is fascinating. As long as the conditions of the pond are favorable, the algae doesn't disappear, and yet it travels, decorating the water differently every day. I asked my employer about this and she explained that the algae is blown by the wind into its various locations and striations. Watching this living artscape I can't help but be reminded of the immeasurable inspiration that nature has provided for her human observers. Walden Pond and its great author come to mind (although I didn't properly appreciate Thoreau when first exposed to him in middle school).

(photo waldenstatereservation)

Right now I am inspired to tell you about our menu. Our grain choices this week are brown rice and GF Spaghetti. Please do specify if you would like spaghetti, and add $1 to your order. Regular orders with brown rice are $8 per 2-cup serving.

This Week's Menu:

Entree #1 - Zucchini Kofta in Coconut Tomato Sauce. I first learned about kofta as the vegetarian's answer to meatballs, served over spaghetti. Awesome! Koftas are just one dish in the enormous list of delectable Indian vegetarian savories. They are made from shredded vegetables mixed with a batter of chickpea flour and spices. The batter is then shaped into balls, fried, and then soaked in a gravy of tomato and coconut sauce. Kofta are a little labor-intensive, and yet so very worth it. You can imagine how those little fried balls of yum will taste after soaking up all that flavorful gravy. Or you could just order some, so you can give your powers of imagination a break and work your taste buds instead. ;-) *GF, soy-free

(photo journeykitchen.com)

Entree #2 - Black Bean & Corn Salad with Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette. Yesterday I was discussing with a friend the best kind of salsa to go with a particular chip that she likes. Said chips are made with sweet potatoes and corn, so they are kind of salty-sweet. Since black beans and sweet potatoes pair so well together, I started picturing a black bean and corn salsa. In my mind's eye I added cilantro and red peppers in order to have just the right amount of color balance. And of course no fantasy salsa would be complete without adding lime. OMG! This imaginary salsa was making me, well, hungry. Under the hunger influence I started looking for a soup recipe that would have all of the above ingredients. I found a lovely one over on forksoverknives.com, but then said "eh" because in the heat of summer, hot, heavy soups just make one say "eh." I found this salad recipe with all the magical, imaginary ingredients that I wanted, except it was better than my imagination, on account of the avocado. Although I don't usually make salads for entrees, it just had to be done. In honor of summer.*GF, soy-free

Entree #3 - Lemongrass Vegetable Noodle Soup. Now having said "eh" about a black bean chili kind of recipe, I was on a quest for a lighter, summer vegetably soup. My inner voice said "lemon." I was a little confused as I am not really familiar with making chilled fruit soups. My inner voice cleared its throat and said "No, silly, not lemon, lemongrass!" Oh, right, lemongrass! My apologies, Inner Voice, I forgot about all about the varieties of Thai lemongrass soups. Many of them are not vegetarian (which is the crying shame about Asian food); however, I did find several good looking recipes out there on the internet. I am going to (photo tarladalal.com) combine this one that is featured above with this one from Vegetarian Times, as the VT recipe has mushrooms and more interesting spicing. Someday I promise I will write down my frequent recipe customizations - someday soon actually. Shh! Don't tell anyone that I told you ... The first in a series of e-books will be coming out in September. Yay! *GF

Side Dishes:

(photo ohsheglows.com)

Sun-dried Tomato, Mushroom, Spinach & Tofu Quiche - $4/slice. Our intern, Courtney, is at it again! After seeing (and tasting) her wonderful truffles last week, I couldn't wait to see what she would come up with next. I have to admit that I am in awe of this pie. It is dairy and gluten-free and looks so professional, like something you could order at an upscale restaurant. Wait! Maybe one day we will have an upscale restaurant and serve it there... First things first. Let's just enjoy its goodness here first. If any of you are as curious about the crust as I was, it is made from flax, almond and oat flour. The filling is, well, kind of self-explanatoratorily yum. *GF

(photo choosingraw.com)

Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes - $3/ea. or 2 for $5. Whenever possible my band, Samadhi, combines rehearsal with dinner. Maybe it is an added incentive to show up and concentrate. Regardless of the reason, this habit of mixing food with music is great for you all because we end up doing some serious recipe swapping at rehearsal. Last week I brought some of Courtney's Peanut Butter Truffles and another band mate brought these yummiest raw carrot cakes ever! The "cake" is made from walnuts, dates, carrots, and all the right spices. The "cream" is made out of dates and the cornerstone of all vegan creamery, cashews. Super simple ingredients, super rich taste.*GF, soy-free.

We look forward to serving you!

Tastefully yours,

Rangadevi Hernandez

#hummingbird #WaldenPond #Thoreau #Gershwin #PorgyandBess #raw #carrotcake #tofu #quiche #kofta #zucchini #lemongrass #soup #noodles #blackbeans #corn #salad