Monday, April 4, 2011

Greek Inspired Soup and Eating Out

Before I start this post I wanted to let you know that my blog posting schedule is going to be a little wonky this week. It is another very hectic week here for me. I am trying to get caught up but that is proving more difficult than I expected.

Thursday’s Activities:

Since cooking class was last night I took it easy on the food this morning. I wasn’t terribly hungry so I had a little fruit and nuts for breakfast, which I forgot to photograph. When I get extremely busy I tend to forget to photograph my meals. I wonder if that is because subconsciously I find my daily food to be too boring to post. I have no idea what the problem is but that was the first thing that popped into my head. It may well be that I am just too busy and not focused on eating which also isn’t good.

Today I had another appointment but since it was by phone at least I could get a few things done while I was talking. That is where the pressure cooker comes in handy. I love that it ridiculously fast and needs almost no attention. I still feel a little silly that I was afraid of pressure cookers for so long because they really are easy to use and crazy fast.

I knew I needed to make beans since we hadn’t had any for a few days and that is what I did with the pressure cooker. I made two cups on great northern beans with no idea what I was going to do with the beans. However, I hadn’t made Greek food in a while and thought I would use the traditional flavors of the cuisine to make a white bean soup.

Traditional Greek Flavors/Foods:

For those of you that are curious the items used often in Greek food are as follows:

goat cheese (I would probably use cultured macadamia nut cheese here)
honey (but any sweetener would do though I might add a touch of lavender since honey typically has a a floral note)
olive oil
yogurt (any non-dairy milk with a little acid…like lemon or cashew crème fraiche would be a good substitute)

I used many of these flavors in the soup I made to have on hand for leftovers. Here is what I did:

Greek Inspired White Bean Stew
Serves 8


2 cups great northern beans
8 cups water
32 ounces tomato sauce (stats assumes it was no salt sauce regular sauce adds 600mg sodium per serving…yikes)
16 ounces peeled, diced tomato
2 cups water
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced (about 3 cups)
10 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
¾ teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
¾ teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
approximately ¾ teaspoon dried mint, or to taste (Dan would have preferred less mint but I love it so….) ;-)
black and green olives thinly sliced, to taste (the nutritional stats assume ¼ cup)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ cup finely minced fresh parsley

Optional: brown rice, quinoa, millet or bulgur to add body and calories to the soup


Combine the beans and water and cook until the beans are tender. I used my pressure cooker and cooked the beans on high pressure for 25 minutes then I let the pressure fall naturally. Then I added the remaining ingredients, except the parsley and optional grain and cooked for another 30 minutes to develop the flavor. Just before serving add the parsley so that the color stays a vibrant green. You can also add it to just the portion you will be eating, which is what I usually do. If you like to eat grains place a little in the bottom of a soup bowl and top with the soup. I will eat this soup without grain but Dan’s servings will contain grain.

Nutritional Information (does not include the grain):

Amount Per Serving
Calories 233.7
Calories From Fat (5%) - 11.72

Total Fat - 1.37g
Saturated Fat - 0.29g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 69.78mg
Potassium - 1257.27mg
Total Carbohydrates - 44.8g
Fiber - 12.5g
Sugar - 8.25g
Protein - 12.55g


My lunch was two small bowls of soup for my lunch and thoroughly enjoyed it. I need to use Greek flavors more often. ;-) The only problem is that Dan isn’t too crazy about mint which means that I may need to modify this in the future. Darn it! LOL

After making the soup and brown rice for Dan I decided to go out for another walk since the rain decided to take a break….finally.

(These purple shutters always make me smile)

It may look like spring with the daffodils and forsythia but don’t let the blooms fool you it was just barely 40 degrees when I took these.

I made myself a big bowl of green salad (mesclun, artichokes, salsa, cucumbers, carrot, tomatoes topped with ground flax) for dinner, which I neglected to photograph, and Dan had a bowl of the Greek bean soup I made today with brown rice.


This day was a complete blur for me. I had so many things to don’t remember sitting down. I didn’t take any food pictures this day because I was too busy. I promise that you didn’t miss anything noteworthy. This day I was in and out of the house all day running errands and getting ready for the weekend. It was definitely one of those days where I had way too much to do.


I love my weekends and this one was no exception. We started our morning with a long walk (about 3 miles). As we were heading out the door we both thought it would be a good idea to take a break at “our restaurant” so we could see Aimee (she and Michael we affectionately refer to as the kids). We hadn’t seen her in about 6 weeks so it was definitely time to catch up.

Isn’t this tulip poplar beautiful? I love these trees they are so lovely. But I also love the red bud and magnolia we planted in our yard years ago. Too bad I didn’t have room for a tulip poplar too.

When we arrived at the restaurant Aimee had seen us coming and was surprised since we are never there that early. Since it was early there were only a few customers so we had a little while to chat with her before she got busy. It was good to hear that school is going well for both she and Michael this semester.

Since we went out the door without breakfast we decided to get a little nosh while we were there. We started with a pot of green and hibiscus tea.

Next we asked if the kitchen could make us a antipasti plate that was vegan. There is a antipasti plate on the menu but it includes meat and cheese which they were happy to substitute with veggies. This plate included: marinated chickpeas, artichokes with dill, olives, cherry tomatoes, house-made pickles, roasted red peppers and crispy garlic flatbread. Delicious and animal-free. Sometimes you just need to ask for substitutions though I will be the first to admit that is easier when you are a restaurant regular. ;-)

As we walked home I noticed the detail work on porches of this building which I never saw before. I took this picture since I thought this would make a nice fence or deck pattern, when we get around to doing that.

Lunch was a green smoothie so that we got our greens in since that should have been our breakfast today.

For dinner we were meeting our friend Louis at the restaurant, you know where right? I find it much easier to go out to dinner with our friends because that way we can get vegan things and our friend can get what they prefer (which never seems to be vegan). Not to mention when you go out to eat that means there are no clean up and who doesn’t love that.

The restaurant was packed tonight since there was a wedding party of 35+ in the back of the restaurant. In addition it seemed as though the entire neighborhood decided to go out to dinner tonight. Good thing we made reservations or we would have been waiting for a while.

Ian was off on Saturday doing something with his daughter, Will is also off and that meant we actually had to order something. What? LOL, yes it was odd but it worked out fine.

One of the specials tonight was mushroom pappardelle that sounded good to both Dan and me. We asked if it could be made vegan and found out the pasta (pappardelle) was homemade and included egg but they substituted a dried pasta without egg. Our pasta included: portabella mushrooms tossed with onions, garlic, asparagus finished with truffle oil. Good stuff, I didn’t miss the cheese at all.

Since we only ordered one entrée, which the kitchen was nice enough to split for us we also ordered roasted veggies to accompany this dish. I never get tired of roasted veggies.

Louis ordered the grilled swordfish with I wanted to show you since this would be great with tofu or tempeh. Louis gave the vegetable portion of this very high praise . The veggies included: sauteed zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, olives and mint, with a sweet onion and golden raisin relish. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

Dan and I were still a little hungry and asked what fresh fruit the kitchen had. Stephanie brought us three martini glasses of fruit. This was the perfect way to end a meal.  We have avoided tradtional dessert for so long now that I am am perfectly satisfied with fruit .. .never thought that would happen.  ;-)

Happy thoughts:

• My week has been crazy but I have also had a lot of fun. It was great to see the cherry blossoms in DC, amazing to meet Jose Andres and wonderful to see everyone at cooking class. While I have been swamped it was for good reasons.

• Seeing our friend Louis on Saturday for dinner is also something that I had been looking forward to. Since Louis moved to the Delaware shore we don’t see him as often as we would like. It is always great when we have a chance to get together. We talk on the phone a few times each week but seeing each other is much better. I am grateful to have Louis in my life since we have been friends a long time and I know he is always where when I need him even if I don’t ask for help. That is definitely the sign of a very good friend.

• I was happy that the rain let up in time for me to get outside. In case you hadn’t noticed I have been trying to get outside everyday for a long walk lately. I seem to feel better when I spend at least 30 minutes outside every day. I am not sure why that is happening but as long as it keeps working I am going to keep doing it. ;-)

• While rain is annoying when it is happening I like to remind myself that it is good for farmers, and therefore our food supply, as well as the water supply. No one likes water rationing do they?

• It was fabulous to see Aimee Saturday morning. She is a very special person that Dan and I both adore. We are both very fortunate to have her in our lives.

• I was very happy to have Dan home on Saturday rather than working. It is always great when we get to spend time together.

Signing out:

Today (Monday) is going to be another very busy one here. I have an appointment this afternoon that will take a few hours and need to keep my mom company while my dad runs errands late this morning. Tomorrow will be a little better for me so I hope to get at least one post up then and possible two. *fingers crossed* Sunday a made a very good no-chicken, no-salt chick’n stock that I will be sharing in my next post. Both Dan and I were very happy with that so I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

The weather is supposed to be gorgeous here today with temperatures almost reaching 80. Woo hoo; it looks like spring is finally back. *happy dance* Yes I really do have a happy dance that I do, and you thought that was just words. Nah I am a goofy LOL! ;-)

Time for me to run talk to you soon, most likely tomorrow…. but if I can get another post up later today I will. Have a great Monday. Remember if you have any suggestion of what you want to read let me know and I will try to work it in. Laura, my review of “Oil to Nuts” is still coming. I haven’t found time to watch it a second time yet since I have been so busy. However it is on my list of things to write, promise!


  1. I could go for that soup right about now. The temps are dropping rapidly and it's stormy out. I love tulip trees. There are several in our neighborhood - those and wisteria always make me think of spring.

  2. Heather,

    Sorry to hear it is cooling down there. I think the same system is headed our way. It is 80 here now but dropping to 60 tomorrow. We are going to the enjoy the warm weather while it is here.

    I love wisteria too. That reminds me of spring and Tuscany. There was a gorgeous old wisteria plant growing on the old villa where my friend was renting an apartment that had flowers that were the biggest I have ever seen. Maybe I need to add wisteria to my garden. Thanks for the suggestion. :-)


  3. I have a tulip tree right next to my front door. I have a wire bird feeder in it (so multiple small birds can eat at once) and a suet feeder in it. The squirrels love to eat the bird seed and torment my dogs who watch from the picture window.

    Your food looks great. Soup is one of my main foods each week. Today, I had a chickpea, rice, and cabbage soup. Like you, I never get tired of roasted veggies.

    Love your pictures of the houses, neighborhoods, and nature. It was 75º in Chicago yesterday, an unexpected treat. Today, it's in the 40's. One day spring will be here for good.

  4. That soup looks yummy!!! :-)

    Blessings, Debra
    Raw Vegan Diet

  5. A bit late on this comment but thanks for the list of Greek flavors. The mint mixed with oregano is such a great idea for stew. I have been on a mint kick as a topping for fruit but I can't wait to try it in a savory dish. Thanks for the tip!


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