Saturday, June 19, 2010

Five Spice Peanuts and Cardamom Pecans

When I was a child, my mother made Five Spice Peanuts for me a couple of times. I adored them, perhaps a little too much. (Did I ever mention I was a chubby child?) Mom and I have both been downsizing from big houses; the work included going through acres of cookbooks to decide which to keep and which to pass along to other relatives or Goodwill. I found the recipe for Five Spice Peanuts and was shocked by the instructions to soak raw peanuts in boiling water with a cup each of salt and sugar for ten minutes! Peanuts are legumes and need soaking to become digestible; but a much smaller amount of sugar and salt can be used if soaking time is increased. The next recipe includes raw pecans, which are soaked in cool water and dried gently to deactivate enzyme inhibitors and enzymes are preserved to aid in digestion. After trying these recipes, you may wish to try other spices, such as garlic, cayenne and ginger.

Five Spice Peanuts: Boil 3 c. water with 2 tbsp. salt, 2 tbsp. sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add 3 c. raw peanuts, turn down heat, simmer 20 minutes, stir a few times while allowing to cool in the liquid. Drain thoroughly, then mix in 2 tbsp. agave, a dash of salt, 1 tbsp. peanut or sesame oil and 1 tsp. five spice powder. Spread on baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees, stirring after each 20 minutes until the nuts are completely dry in about an hour. Let them cool completely to restore their crunch before eating.

Cardamom Pecans: Soak 2 c. raw pecans (you can lower the cost by making them half sunflower seeds if you like) in water about 8 hours. Drain thoroughly. Mix with 2 tbsp. agave, a pinch of salt, ½ tsp. cinnamon and ½ tsp. cardamom. Spread on cookie sheet and dry at 100 degrees for several hours, stirring once or twice.

I use raw lucuma powder, which is not available in stores around here, to help the seasonings stick to the nuts.  I have not yet tried raw carob, but imagine it would be a lovely substitute. 

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fried Rice and Fried Noodles

This will be in Becky Holm's Douglas County News:


Fried Rice and Fried Noodles by Larisa Sparrowhawk

Both fried rice and fried noodles make great use of leftovers and are economical, kid pleasing belly fillers. They can even be healthy if you use brown rice and whole grain pasta and watch the quantity of oil.

Fried Rice - Use left over, drier rice. Pour 1 tbsp. peanut oil per 2 c. cooked rice into a large, hot skillet or wok and add chopped onion. Cook until onion is beginning to get translucent before adding other chopped vegetables or leftover meat. Good options are carrots, celery, jicama (to replace water chestnuts and bamboo shoots), bell pepper, bok choy, ham, chicken, beef and tiny salad shrimp. Scramble an egg in another skillet, chop small and add to rice mixture. Add a splash or two of sake or white wine, soy sauce and garlic or ginger to taste. If you would like to add snow peas or sprouts, add them now, just before serving.

Fried Noodles - Udon, big, slippery noodles that really soak up flavors are most popular with children. However, brown rice or buckwheat soba noodles are more healthy. Rice or bean threads (also called cellophane noodles) are a low calorie option. Cook the pasta al dente, then rinse under cold water, running your fingers through to remove starch. Drain thoroughly. Fry in large, hot skillet or wok: 1 c. of chopped meat in 2 tbsp. sesame or peanut oil, 1 tbsp. sake or white wine and 1 c. chopped onions, carrots or other firmer vegetables. Stir fry a little longer and add 2 chopped green scallions, snap peas, frozen peas, spinach or other softer green vegetable. Fry about 2 minutes longer, stirring continuously and remove to a bowl. Add 2 tbsp. sesame or peanut oil and pasta to wok, stir fry a couple minutes, adding 2 tbsp. sake or white wine, 1 tbsp. soy sauce half way through. Add vegetables. Season with 5 spice powder, garlic or ginger to taste. Sprinkle each serving with sesame seeds.

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