Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lentils with Shiitake Mushrooms and Mustard Vinaigrette

When it comes to cooking, I am more likely to turn to a recipe rather than trying to create one on my own. Sometimes though, inspiration strikes and I attempt to go off in my own direction. Those directions can lead to dishes that are not always exactly awe inspiring, but occasionally I head down a path that takes me to something new and delicious. Which is exactly what happened with this lentil and mushroom dish.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Vanilla Ice Cream with Salted Butter Caramel

Today I want to wish my brother Ryan a very Happy Birthday! He's an amazing older brother, and an wonderful father, and hopefully he has an awesome day today because he deserves it! And hopefully he doesn't mind me sharing his age with you, because this birthday cake ain't telling no lies.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

I have a tendency to get into a little bit of a funk in January. The holidays are long gone, the weather is rainy and dreary, and it makes me want to hibernate in my little shack with a warm fire until February comes along. During this month I definitely need a bit of inspiration to get me off the couch and get my creative juices flowing again. Luckily, I received some new cookbooks for Christmas, and inspiration is not so hard to find in this stack of loveliness:
Oh how I love me some new cookbooks. I can't wait to read them all the way through when I first get them, and mentally pick out dishes that I'm dying to try. I even like to read the recipes in bed before I go to sleep, thumbing through the pages until I can no longer keep my eyes open. Unfortunately as much as I love reading and gathering ideas from cookbooks, I am horrible at actually going back to those books on a regular basis and making new recipes out of them. I think it has something to do with the onslaught of cooking magazines I receive each month, when I tear out the glossy pages and place them in a folder that is always overflowing and easily accessible. Instead of reaching for a cookbook, I tend to reach for that folder instead. Not to mention the recipes I get inspired from off of other blogs and cooking websites. With all those other forms of cooking inspiration, I forget about the books that are tucked away in my cupboard, begging to be opened and used.

So I made a pact with myself after obtaining the most recent additions of cookbooks, that I would cook at least one recipe out of each book in the next couple of weeks, and make sure that they don't get put away before that happens. Which is how this delicious bowl of shaved Brussels sprouts with egg, almonds, and a citrus vinaigrette appeared in my kitchen.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What I'm Eating in 2011!

 Image from HubPages.com

Happy New Year dear readers!  I hope 2011 brings you much joy and happiness, and that you accomplish culinary magic in your kitchen.

Butter + Cream turned one last weekend.  It has been beyond rewarding for Allison and I to share our food, our friends, and stories with all of you.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for reading and sharing all of your kind comments.  We were both complete novices to blogging, and have learned a lot.  If you read the site regularly, you know that things have been on the sparse side in terms of posting.  I wanted to share a bit of what is going on with me, and shed some light on the future of Butter + Cream.

Back in September I read the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, and it turned out to be a real game changer for me.  Honestly, I think it should be required reading for anyone who spends their hard earned money on food, whether it be in a grocery store, at a white-tablecloth restaurant, or a taco truck.

After Eating Animals, I read The Kind Diet, and now I'm reading Mad Cowboy and The Conscious Cook.  You can probably see where this is going.  My intention for 2011 is to focus on eating a plant-based diet.  This means a completely new way of cooking, without the yumminess that is meat, dairy, or eggs.  The explanation of why could fill its own blog post, and there are plenty of people who feel emotionally charged on both sides of the meat-eating issue.  In fact, I don't even like using the V-word (vegan) because many people assume that I'm a freaky judgmental hippie.  The short version is that I don't agree with the way the majority of farm animals in the US are raised and processed.  The meat and dairy industries have monumental impacts on our environment, our health, and the millions of animals who suffer each day in factory farms, and I'm ready to opt out.

I was really hesitant for a long time to get into the gory details of where our food comes from.  We have such a deep attachment to the foods we grew up eating, and I'm still wondering if I can live in a world without cream cheese frosting, or my mom's lasagna.  These changes don't have to take place overnight, or at all, but what I would suggest and encourage would be for all of you fabulous home cooks to do a bit of research on where your food is coming from.  Read about the US factory farm system, watch Food, Inc, and make your decision based on knowledge.  I realize that I'm coming to this choice from a very privileged position.  I live in Los Angeles, where our farmers' markets run year round.  I have a 9-5 Monday-Friday job, and I have the luxury of time (and desire) to cook my own meals nearly every night.  In addition, I don't have the duty of feeding picky kids at the end of a hectic day.  So I'm not suggesting that this is a realistic shift for everyone to make.  But the fact is that it is a realistic change for me, and one that I feel to be meaningful.
 In making this shift, John and I have talked a lot about goals, and what we consider to be successful.  Will I do this perfectly all the time?  Of course not.  Eating in restaurants is hard.  And as someone who loves to entertain, I'm not ready to begin turning down food that others have lovingly prepared for me.  But my sister-in-law and I had a life talk a while back, and she very wisely said, "I believe in what you do most of the time."  This is where I'm starting.  Eating a plant-based diet will begin in our kitchen, and we will take the rest on as it comes.  John's still eating meat and dairy in restaurants, but I'm grateful for him being so receptive to the changes on the homefront.  We started the shift to vegan at the beginning of December, and I already feel a difference in my health, my mood, my body, and my conscience.

This obviously puts us in an interesting position here at Butter + Cream.  Butter and cream are ingredients that I am consciously trying to let go of, or at least eat a LOT less of.  I do know that I want to keep blogging, and I want to share this period of transition and new cooking.  Luckily, I have some good friends who are on the same path, and I think the plan will be for us to bring the veggie conversation to its own separate website.  We don't have any details as of yet, but I will surely keep you posted.  But don't worry, we won't replace cupcakes with tempeh loaves here at B + C.

Allison is still around, and is going to take the lead on things for the time being, but I'll still post when I stumble upon something I think you guys will love.  Butter + Cream isn't going anywhere, especially with some big baking events in the new year.  With the first half of 2011 bringing us baby showers, weddings, and birthdays, I'm sure we will bring you some good stuff.  Best of luck on all of your resolutions this year.  I hope 2011 is amazing to you!

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