Tuesday, August 30, 2011

As Megan wrote, my dreams came true with a great review in VegNews.

I love VegNews.  When I say that, I mean I read every single word in each issue.  My copies of VegNews end up almost tattered by the time the next one comes.

Last week, my issue came in the mail.  I was watching my sister's kids and my own, so I only got to flip through it the day it came.  The next morning, though, I was sitting at my kitchen table taking a closer look while I had coffee with my husband.  While I was perusing my beloved mag, I was telling him how much I'd love to some day see Welcoming Kitchen in VegNews.

Then I let out a scream and cried for close to two hours!!!! Not only was my book in the Media Lounge section, but they loved it.

What to do ... but celebrate?  This time, my sister watched my kids while my husband and I got away for the night.

I have wanted to go the fine-dining vegan restaurant extraordinaire, Karyn's on Green since it opened over a year ago.  Whoa!  It was FANTASTICALLY AMAZING!

Their menu is absolutely top-notch.  They also code everything so that diners know what's raw, gluten-free, soy-free and/or nut- and seed-free.

They serve small plates, soups, salads, large plates, pizzas and sides.  I had Roasted Carrot Potato Leek Soup, Sweet Pea Risotto (totally Welcoming Kitchen-friendly--GF, soy-free, nut-free and included white truffle oil!), and my husband and I shared Caramelized Brussels Sprouts.  My husband's Butternut Squash Soup and Barbecue Seitan were also amazing.

The cocktails were also super-special.  We had a Tree-tini, a yummy concoction that also makes you feel kinda good about yourself.  They plant a tree for every one sold!

If you're in Chicago and looking for a special meal, you really can't do much better than Karyn's on Green, I think.

Can you believe that we had a Welcoming Kitchen-friendly lunch at another restaurant the next day?!

We ate a vacation-y lunch at Irazu, a sweet Costa Rican restaurant in Bucktown.  We have been meaning to come here since our honeymoon to Costa Rica 10 years ago, and now we're kicking ourselves for taking so long!

Pinto Gallo (a traditional Costa Rican dish made from black beans and rice), corn tortillas, sweet plantains, and loaded tacos were not only a bargain, but so delicious!

All around, a good way to end the summer, and a reminder that even with dietary restrictions creative eating options abound!

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Thursday, August 25, 2011

We are celebrating over here in Welcoming Kitchen land!!

Kim's dream has always been to have her book reviewed by the fabulous magazine VegNews...and today her dream came true.  Not only did they review Welcoming Kitchen...but they gave it an awesome review!  We are humbled that people are loving our book so much.  Kim started Welcoming Kitchen with the idea that "if I can help one family", it will be a success.  

Well - hopefully this means she can help a lot more families!  It truly continues to be an awesome adventure.  I will let Kim tell you about her experience with how she discovered the review, but in her honor, we cooked Welcoming Kitchen style (vegan, gluten-free, and allergy-free) 
at the Hart house tonight .

I found this simple weeknight recipe over at LaLoosh and it just goes to show you that you can make any recipe Welcoming Kitchen friendly with little or no changes... It was delicious!

Here are some of the photos from our cooking tonight...

Chopping onions, ginger, and garlic - delicious smells!

Tomatoes and Cauliflower (perfect at the end of summer!)

Simmering brown basmati rice...anyone else think it smells like popcorn? Ha!

Assembling the curry...

Gorgeous little red lentils...how I love you!

Kids helping in the kitchen - helps them accept new foods too!

The finished, delicious, one big bowl of comfort curry...

Happy Cooking!
Kim & Megan

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lemon Balm Herb
Lemon Balm

I'm so sorry if you live in a part of the country (or world) that is not experiencing delightful weather.

Here in Chicago, we are.  On a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, we took a walk around the neighborhood with our dog.  It was so beautiful we just strolled around and walked a different way than we normally do.

Lucky for us!  We happened to walk past a woman (the lovely, Reina, I learned) who was gardening.  She gave a bunch of herbs to a man who was pushing his shopping cart down the alley, and then she asked us if we would like some basil and lemon balm.  My basil plant just died, so it was great timing.  We gladly took big bunches off her very generous hands.

I had immediate plans for the basil--pasta sauce and pesto, but wasn't sure what to do with the lemon balm.  I decided to throw a bunch of leaves into the cooking water with my artichokes, thinking that might make a nice addition.  I was right.  The lemon balm gave the artichokes a lovely, fresh flavor.  I didn't measure it out, so this is more a cooking suggestion than a recipe.

Before I get to that, though, I have to share some exciting news about my book.  Welcoming Kitchen just got a great review in Library Journal!  You can read it here.

Now, on to the recipe suggestion.

Artichoke with Lemon Balm

1 artichoke
1 handful lemon balm leaves
pinch of sea salt

Trim the spiny ends off of the artichoke leaves with a kitchen scissors.
Put the artichoke into a small or medium saucepan.
Fill with water 2/3 of the way up the artichoke.
Add a pinch of salt and the lemon balm to the water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Turn the artichoke over to make sure that it's cooked all the way around.
Simmer for 25-45 minutes.  The artichoke is done when you can pretty-easily pull away one of the bottom leaves.

If you want to really up the lemon balm flavor, you can add some minced lemon balm into warmed olive oil or melted Earth Balance, if you like a dip for your leaves.

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan