Warm Up and Cleanse Yourself with Delicious Tom Yum Hed!

Hi all,

If you live in the Northeast or the Midwest, you’re in for a cold weekend! At times such as these, I like to relax inside and enjoy some healthy and delicious Tom Yum Hed, a Thai soup that is vegan friendly. Here is our official Urban Hermits recipe! Enjoy!

Preparing Tom Yum Hed is very easy, the tricky part is making sure you have all of the right ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

8 cups water

1 lime

1 stick of lemongrass (if you can’t find the whole stalk, go ahead and buy a couple roots or packages of stalk, whatever your local store has. Full stalks are easiest to find at ethnic/asian grocers)

4-5 button mushrooms, but other types will do fine.

3 cubes of salted vegetable bouillon

1 firm tomato

fresh cilanto

2-3 stalks of green onion

thai basil (optional)

a chunk on ginger

3 cloves of garlic

1 red bell pepper

dried cayenne/red pepper

soy sauce

Put the 8 cups of water is a pot and heat it until a boil. While you wait, chop the red pepper and mushrooms, tomato and cilantro. Dice the garlic and green onion. When the water comes to a boil, add the 3 bouillon cubes and wait for them to dissolve.IMG_0759

Next, add the lemongrass, chunk of ginger, chili/cayanne pepper (to taste), the thai basil, and green onion. Also, cut the lime in half and squeeze out as much juice as possible into the broth.IMG_0762

Let the broth simmer with the added ingredients for a couple of minutes. Then add the mushrooms and chopped bell pepper.IMG_0764

Once the mushrooms and chopped bell pepper cook down a bit, add the chopped tomato and cilantro. You don’t want these to cook too long to avoid them becoming mushy. Let it go for a couple of a minutes and then you’re set!

For additional flavor, add soy sauce to taste! Enjoy!

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Make your own Fiery Heirloom Tomato Salsa!

Hi folks,

It is Fall and the air is cooling down, which means the growing season is coming to an end for most of us (unless you live somewhere warm!). That means two things: you might be feeling chilly and you have a lot of produce to use up. Well, let me show you how to address both: by enjoying some delicious heirloom tomato salsa! This salsa has a good balance of bold taste from several different heirloom tomatoes and heat from habenero and/or serrano peppers. Allow me to walk you through…

Before getting started, here’s what you’ll need:

2 pounds of heirloom tomatoes (farmer’s markets are great places to pick some up!)

1 yellow/sweet onion, cut into 4 quarters

1 green bell pepper, de-seeded and cut into quarters

2 hot peppers (I used Serrano and Habanero, if you like it more mild, try Anaheim); I would recommended that you remove the seeds, but for those that like it hot, keep the seeds in!

3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

1 lime

1/3 cup of fresh chopped cilantro

vegetable oil, ground black pepper, cumin, kosher salt.

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Some fresh ingredients (note that not all of the cilantro and hot peppers will be used!)

Next go ahead and cut the tomatoes into halves. If any of the tomatoes are particularly large, cut them into quarters. Next, heat up your broiler. The broiler is like a grill in your oven. Newer ovens sometimes have it on the top, so you’ll want to put your vegetables on a high rack. Older ovens have a separate compartment, usually at the bottom, which you can insert a tray or use the one included. For more information on your broiler, click here.

 

When the broiler is heated up, arrange the onion and pepper quarters, HALF of your tomato halves/quarters, and hot peppers on a tray or sheet of foil coated with vegetable oil. Sprinkle kosher salt and black pepper as desired over vegetables on the tray/sheet. Then let the vegetables broil until tender and slightly charred. This may take about 10 minutes or so. Flip the vegetables over when the first side appears done to let the other side char. When done, carefully remove the tray and let the vegetables cool.

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Putting the fresh vegetables into the broiler

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Charred veggies!

Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, dice all of them to as small/thin as desired. Then, take a bowl and mix the charred vegetables with the sliced fresh tomatoes and cilantro. Feel free to add some of the oil from the sheet/tray into the bowl, as it adds some good flavor. Mix together and apply pressure to squish the ingredients. I prefer a wooden spoon for this. Then, added cumin as desired. I probably use 1.5 tablespoons or so. Squeeze the fresh lime over the salsa until you can’t get any more juice out of it.

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The non-broiled ingredients

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All ingredients added together and squished and mixed

Let your salsa cool a bit and you’ll be ready to eat it. However, if you’d like to save some or make a larger amount than I describe in this post, consider canning your salsa. For more information about how to do this, check out one of our previous posts about pickling! Use the same process as described to sterilize and seal the jars. In the meantime, enjoy!!

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The finished product!

Sources:

http://www.theparsleythief.com/2011/09/fire-roasted-heirloom-salsa.html

http://www.thekitchn.com/kitchen-basics-how-to-use-your-112585

Try Cast Iron Cooking!

Hello all,

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer (which starts tonight!). We have been slacking on posts over here at Urban Hermits so I figured it was time to hit the interwebs again. Ahh…feels good. Anyways, I recently purchased a cast iron skillet for $33 dollars today. It is something I have been thinking about doing for a long time but never got around to it. Now that it is all seasoned and ready to go, I’m going to share some reasons why cast iron is great, as well as demonstrate how to get your skillet cook ready!

Cast iron skillets ofter a stylish option that heats evenly, lasts longer than many forms of cookware (as opposed to Teflon, that can peel over time), can allow you to cook with less oil, and still can be found at very reasonable prices. However, most importantly, a lot of non-stick cookware has chemicals that can release toxic fumes. While these amounts may be low and not particularly harmful to humans, they can impact nonhuman animals in your home. Being a bird owner, I have become aware of PTFE toxicosis, the technical term for teflon poisoning. This results from the overheating of teflon cookware that releases potentially lethal chemicals. Be aware that birds are not the only animals affected by this. Cast iron, on the other hand, is chemical free!

Before you can cook with cast iron, you need to season your skillet! This will help protect your cookware, make it non-stick, and get the most out of it! Ladies and Gentlemen, I will now present the proper way to do so.


1.) Start by scouring all sides of your cookware with hot water to wash off any grime and material that it may have accumulated in the place of production or store: 
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2.) Wash your cookware with dish soap and hot water. Use a pad or brush to deep clean the surface. NOTE: DO NOT CLEAN your cookware with soap and water once it is seasoned. This will remove the non-stick surface. Simply clean it with water between meals. Soap and water should only be used when seasoning/re-seasoning:

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3.) Throughly dry your cookware:

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4.) Rub a thin layer of oil into the cast iron. This includes the bottom and sides, not just the depression for cooking. Vegetable or canola oil work best. Use a cloth or paper towel to even distribute the oil (excuse my broken finger and stint!):

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5.) Heat your oven up to 325 degrees and insert the oiled skillet upside-down onto a sheet of aluminum foil. This will allow any excess oil to drip off. Put the skillet in for one hour. Afterwards, you are ready to get cooking!:

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Sources:

http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101_basics_and_techniques/3_health_reasons_to_cook_with_cast_iron?page=3

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=15+1829&aid=2874

http://www.petinsurance.com/healthzone/pet-articles/pet-health-toxins/Teflon-Poisoning-in-Birds.aspx

Arctic Vortex and Vegetarian Sushi

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Source: WeatherBell, National Weather Service

If you live just about anywhere in the Eastern US, you are likely confined to indoors as temperatures plunge below zero, in addition to lots of ice and snow on the roads. Here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we are enjoying wind chills of -40 F, colder than I ever remember. The spike in cold temps is caused by a low pressure system that is usually present far to the North, near the arctic. Instead, temperatures typical in Northern Manitoba are here in Southeastern Michigan and the Midwest. Brrr! Things are expected to begin improving later this week, but in the meantime, we have to keep ourselves sane indoors.

Below, Lauren keeps her peace by making vegetarian sushi. She used cucumbers, shiitake mushrooms seared in tamari and mirin, avocado, turnips, and chives stuffed in sushi rice and seaweed. How did you keep away from the cold? Comment and let us know!

Photo Jan 06, 6 32 42 PM

Photo Jan 06, 6 35 38 PM

Source: Detroit Free Press, 06 January 2014

Sunday Night: Let’s Make Soup!

Okay, so if you live anywhere from the Midwest to the Northeast, chances are the weather is intimidating and you are stuck inside. Use up some of your produce that is not so fresh, but still good to eat and let’s make some black bean soup! I love cooking ahead on a Sunday evening, looking forward to a great meal I can enjoy at my convenience all week. If you work or have kids, save yourself some trouble and work ahead!

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I based this recipe loosely off one I pulled from Allrecipes.com. Check it out here. We had a lot of produce and good spices we made use of. Significant alternations from the original recipe include using vegetable stock mixed with water, as opposed to just water, increasing amounts of salt and cumin (as you will find the source recipe a bit bland) and using a slow cooker instead of a soup pot. The slow cooker allows the spices to mix in better and you don’t need to sauté anything, eliminating the need for cooking oil. As is the case with the slow cooker, the longer you let this cook, the better. 10 hours is ideal. This is a healthy and filling meal, a vegan’s (or meat eater’s!) dream! My fellow Hermit, Lauren, gave me a enormous can of Eden Organic black beans (108 ounces!), good stuff grown in the midwest. I am excited to see how it comes out and enjoy it through this November weather. Enjoy your week!

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Images: Mark Suchyta, Urban Hermits

Its Autumn…Time to Make Pickles!!

Hey all,

Happy Autumn! This is a great time to start preserving all of those vegetables that have been popping out in the garden this past month. Pickles are a personal favorite of mine and a good way to utilize the produce from what are generally very fruitful cucumber or zucchini plants. That being said, you can pickle or can just about anything! I am going to share with you all a simple recipe for delicious pickles. However, bear in mind that I am not processing pickles, which is essential if you wish for yours to last a couple months. Thus, for this recipe, I would recommend eating them within a week or so. Now, lets get started!

There are a few essentials you will need. A few Ball glass jars will do well, I would suggest quart jars. This recipe will be for 6 pints, so grab 3 quart jars. Also, make sure you have distilled vinegar and pickling salt.

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To make 6 pints of pickles, you’ll need about 3-5 lbs of cucumbers/zucchini. Also, chop up a whole white or vidalia onion and grab several cloves of garlic. Soak the cucumbers, onion, and garlic in ice water. I like to put them in a large bowl with some cold water on the bottom and then put ice over the top to melt.

Prep: Sterilize the jars by washing them in the dishwasher and laying them right side up on a cookie sheet in an oven set at 225 degrees for at least 15 minutes. In the mean time, put the tops in boiling water. Near the end of the 15 minutes, prepare the brine by putting 3 cups of water, 3 cups of distilled vinegar, and 4 tablespoons of pickling salt in a pot and bringing it to a boil.

Once the produce is mostly submerged in ice water and is cool, pack the pint jars (after they’ve cooled, of course) with sliced pickles, onions, garlic, and whatever spices you’d like. I recommend dill weed or seeds, mustard seed or powder, coriander seed, black peppercorns, red chili flakes, and turmeric. Feel free to try new spices, too! I also recommend chopped jalapeño or habanero for those who like it hot!

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Once you’ve packed your jars with your produce and splices, pour the hot brine over the top, filling the jars almost up to the top. Next, put on the lids that were boiled. Use tongs, as they’ll be hot. Using a hot pad, tighten the lids and let them sit until they cool. Then put them in the fridge and they’ll be ready to go within 24 hours!

pickle making