carrot and split pea soup

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A couple of weeks ago, I visited my university’s student-run organic farm.  It was something like a 4.3-mile bike ride, uphill almost the whole way, in 90-degree heat.  It was challenging for me, but it was so much fun.

There was only one person working that day, and he offered to show us (Patrick and me) around.  At the end of seeing everything there, he took us to a giant walk-in fridge inside their building, and inside were boxes upon boxes of harvested vegetables.  He showed me a few stacks of boxes from which, he said, I could take whatever I wanted…for FREE.  I ended up getting a huge bag of carrots, a shallot, and a bell pepper.  This was before I had any idea of how much I could actually make in my rice cooker/slow cooker, so I didn’t want to take too much stuff, in case I would not be able to use it.

The carrots I got were amazing.  They were the sweetest carrots I have ever tasted, and I used them to make soup.  The soup’s main ingredients are local carrots, local potatoes (from my CSA box back home), and local split peas (from my favorite stand at the farmer’s market).  I love using fresh, local ingredients, and I am so glad I was able to prepare them in my dorm.

If you try this recipe or are inspired by it to make something else, I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Here it is:

Carrot and Split Pea Soup:

  • 1 diced shallot
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes
  • 1 cup dried split peas
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (or 4 cups vegetable broth, 4 cups water)
  • 2 tsp multi-purpose seasoning (I used Bragg Sprinkle Seasoning)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  1. Place all ingredients into slow cooker or rice cooker/multi-cooker, and stir everything together.
  2. For a slow cooker, cook on the “high” setting for 2 1/2 hours.  For a rice cooker/multi-cooker, cook on the “slow cook” setting for 2 1/2 hours.
  3. When the soup is done, give it a good mix, and serve with extra pepper.

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dorm-friendly sweet cinnamon rice

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I am a college student now.  At my university, I am required to live on campus for my first year, which, of course, means no private kitchen.  I have heard about a community kitchen nearby, but it isn’t like I am going to make the trek over there, arms piled with ingredients and cooking supplies, every time I feel like whipping up a quick meal.

Lucky for me, a lot of the people around me have been really supportive of me cooking in my dorm and have gifted me some super cool gadgets solely for that purpose.  If any one of the people who contributed to my collection is reading this, you know who you are, so thank you.

The tool I use in today’s recipe is my Aroma Professional Rice Cooker.  I have just started experimenting with cooking soups, pastas, and other dorm-friendly meals, so today’s recipe is a simple one that only cooks rice.

Before I get to the recipe, I would like to note that I am not just eating in my dorm.  My cafeteria has a lot of vegan salad options, soups, and starches, and I go there once, usually twice, and sometimes three times a day.  I could easily eat vegan at the cafeteria, but I certainly prefer to cook my own foods, at least some of the time.  Not only is what I make usually healthier, but it is also fun for me, and I hope to have more college dorm creations to share with you guys this school year.

Now, onto the recipe…

Dorm-Friendly Sweet Cinnamon Rice:

  • 2 rice cooker cups uncooked rice (1 1/2 standard cups)
  • water
  • 1-3 teaspoons maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
  • a couple sprinkles of cinnamon
  • rasins (optional)
  1. Place rice into rice cooker container, and rinse the rice.  To do this, fill the container (with rice already in it) with water, mix with your hand, and drain, being careful not to dump out any rice.  Repeat until the water is relatively clear.
  2. Add water to 2 cup line and cook according to rice cooker directions.  The water added will be about 4 rice cooker cups or 3 standard cups.
  3. When the rice is done, divide it between 2 bowls, and add maple syrup, cinnamon, and raisins to taste.

Let me know in the comments what you think about this recipe!

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rice stuffed summer squash with vegetarian gravy

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Every week, I get a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box that is filled with delicious, local, non-GMO veggies, sustainably grown only 15 minutes from my house.  We get loads of kale, collard greens, tomatoes, garlic, summer squash, and, sometimes, fruit, like cherries, peaches, and strawberries.  I love that my family supports this program that is good for the community, the environment, and the health of those who are able to partake in eating the beautiful produce.

This summer, I have received some particularly interesting squash, one of which was one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth: Tromboncino squash.  It has a wonderful, almost buttery flavor, and I would highly recommend trying it if you get the chance, even if it looks a little funny (like giant green sausage).

Today’s recipe, however, focuses around more common summer squash.  I have used both large zucchini (shown above) and patty pan squash (shown below) for this recipe.  It is the perfect end-of-summer, beginning-of-fall dish, topped with my favorite vegetarian (vegan) gravy.  This gravy is especially delicious if made with homemade mushroom broth.

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Wild or Brown Rice Stuffed Summer Squash:

  • 2 cups uncooked wild or brown riceIMG_2848
  • 1 very large or 2 medium summer squash
  • 1 onion
  • handful fresh thyme
  • handful fresh rosemary
  • 2 heaping cups mushrooms
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  1. Cook the rice according to package directions.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Cut the squash as is most appropriate for filling (see pictures below and above), and IMG_3065scoop out the seedy flesh and set aside.  Leave about 1/4-1/2″ of squash under the skin on all sides.
  4. Bake the squash for 20 minutes until about half-cooked.
  5. Chop the onion, mushrooms, and herbs separately.
  6. Saute the onion until soft, then add the thyme, rosemary, and mushrooms.
  7. When the mushrooms begin to release their juices, add the dried cranberries, a pinch of pepper, and the squash insides (chopped to smaller pieces if necessary).  Cook until the squash pieces are done.
  8. Mix in 2-3 cups of cooked rice.
  9. When the squash in the oven is half-cooked, fill it with the rice mixture.  Make sure to really press the mixture down to fit in as much filling as possible.  Any that does not fit in the squash can go on the tray around the squash to get crisp in the oven.  If making gravy, leave the pan that the mixture was cooked in, and don’t worry about scraping out every last bit.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes until the squash is fully cooked.  I prepare the gravy during this time.
  11. Serve with vegetarian gravy.  I also like to eat this with potatoes and a green vegetable.

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Vegetarian Gravy:

  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • small handful rosemary
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Marmite (optional)
  • pepper
  1. Chop the onion and cook it in the used pan of what it will be served with, in this case, the pan of the squash filling.
  2. Mince the garlic and rosemary, and add it to the onion.  Add a little vegetable broth to the pan to prevent sticking.
  3. Whisk in the flour or cornstarch, adding more vegetable broth as needed.
  4. When the mixture is smooth (no cornstarch chunks), whisk in the rest of the 3 cups vegetable broth (at this point it will be about 2 cups), soy sauce, and Marmite, if using.  Season with pepper to taste.
  5. Let the mixture simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
  6. Puree the gravy with a blender, food processor, or immersion blender.  If a thicker consistency is desired, return gravy to pan and continue to cook on the stove, mixing frequently.  For a thinner gravy, add more vegetable broth or water.
  7. Enjoy on stuffed squash, mashed potatoes, or literally anything your heart desires.

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top 5 sweet potato sauce

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Whenever I make a meal for my friend Patrick, I demand a solid opinion out of him about the food because I genuinely want to improve my cooking.  Usually when I follow recipes (or attempt to follow recipes), he says the food is good, but there is never enough sauce for his liking.  Well, one day I decided to throw a bunch of stuff in a pan and turn it into the thick, flavorful sauce he had been looking for.  I had not intended it to be particularly amazing, but we both loved it.  Although this recipe for “top 5 sweet potato sauce” has been altered slightly from my original creation, Patrick still considers this sauce to be one of the top 5 best things I have made.  In fact, he said he may even like this version better.

Eat this on wheat pasta (we used fettuccine), with bread, mixed with rice or barley, with gluten-free pasta (brown rice quinoa spaghetti would be my recommendation), on greens, or however you want!  I can even see this being turned into a soup or a potato mash.  Let me know in the comments if you tried it, what you thought, and how you ate it/what you ate it with!

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Top 5 Sweet Potato Sauce:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 big onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (optional)
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes or 1  14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • 1 cup water (plus a little more)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, and roast whole sweet potatoes with skins for 45 min to 1 hour until soft.
  2. Chop onion, mince garlic, and dice tomatoes separately.
  3. Cook onions and garlic at medium heat in a very large pan or medium pot.  A little water should be added to prevent sticking and for easy combining in the next step.
  4. Add tomato paste, chili garlic sauce, and more water if necessary.  Mix until no clumps of tomato paste remain.
  5. When sweet potatoes are cool enough to touch, cut them into pieces and add them to the pan, leaving skins on if your blender or food processor will be able to pulverize them.
  6. Add tomatoes, herbs, cup of water, and pepper.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes (until tomatoes are cooked if using fresh).
  7. Turn off the heat, and, if necessary, allow sauce to cool before pureeing it with a standing blender or food processor or immersion blender.  Blend the sauce until it is smooth, creamy, and homogenous in texture.  Adding more water at this point may be necessary.
  8. Taste the sauce, and add more pepper if desired.  For a creamier sauce, almond milk can also be added here.
  9. Enjoy this sauce with pasta and greens or however you wish!
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We ate ours with fettuccine pasta and raw spinach. Kale and collard greens are also great here.