Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving: Family and Friends

This year try to introduce a new side dish at your Thanksgiving table. I like to introduce an ethnic dish that goes with the normal stuffing, mash potatoes, yams, grandma's cranberry mold and green beans.

I am adding a Middle Eastern dish called hummus. Hummus is made from garbanza beans or as the Italians call them, ceci beans. You may know them as chickpeas. This is the easiest thing to make as a hors d'ouevre. Light and satisfying, it is a nice counterpoint to all the saucey, cheesy stuff on the appetizer table. You can make this from scratch by cooking dry beans or save the trouble, and open up a can of prepared beans. Just remember that prepared beans are already salted, so adjust accordingly. I don't bother straining the seed case; more rustic and roughage in diet is better for you anyway.

clean glass or stainless steel bowl (aluminum reacts to lemon)
garlic cloves (rubbing the bowl)
2 cans garbonza beans
1/4 olive oil
1 med lemon (juice only, save peel for decorative strips)
chili oil (optional)
lemon peel (optional, decorative)
chopped parsley (optional, decorative)
pita bread, crackers (plain crackers are better than flavored)

Take garlic and peel. Cut in half. Rub the cut end all over the bottom of your bowl. Do this liberally. Dump garbonza beans into bowl. On the rafting trips, I take a potato masher and smash all the beans into a pulpy mass. (At home, just do this in a blender or food processor) Add oil, lemon juice, chili oil, paprika, pepper and salt to taste. Stir vigorously until semi-smooth. (Add more oil if it looks dry... the oil seems to be absorbed easily, so add the oil little at a time) Let sit. When ready to serve, take the back of a spoon and form an indentation at the top of the mixture. Pour a small amount of olive oil into the well and sprinkle more paprika on top. Add slivers of lemon peel and chopped parsley as a decorative touch. Serve this with cut pieces of pita bread or just plain crackers. This is also great as a substitute for mayonnaise on a sandwich. You'll be surprised at how much better your sandwich tastes! And your vegetarian and vegan friends will be delighted that you served this on your table this Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to All from the Staff of W.E.T. River Trips

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stone Soup on the River

Weather in California during November can be a mixed bag of extreme weather. One day it can be pouring rain and another, it can be sunny and warm. I'm looking out the window and all I see is blue skies. Country Mike just did an outdoor rafting trip last Sunday. He said it was warm and sunny and his friends had a blast. River trips in the fall demand a piping hot soup to close the day. Here's a really quick soup to do in the great outdoors.

1 palm-size river rock (check for cracks or fissures; should be round and solid)
water to add if necessary
3 cans of your favorite minestrone soup (Campbells, Wolfgang Puck, etc)
1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of corn
various vegetables; suggest carrots, peas, broccoli, asparagus, etc
leftover pasta

Heat up the grill or camp fire. Place a large pot on the heat. Have your child add the clean rock. Add cans of soup. Add kidney beans and corn. Add carrots and any hard vegetable like small pieces of potato. Cook until boiling. Add broccoli and aspargus, stir until semi-hard. Add peas and pasta before serving. Serve this hot soup with a crusty toasted grilled bread. Or just open up a bunch of hardy whole wheat crackers. This is an ideal soup for a vegan or vegetarian. For those meat eaters, add cooked meat before the broccoli and asparagus. I like adding leftover roasted chicken to this.

Then read the story of Stone Soup to your children. They will be fascinated by the cooking process outdoors.