Friday, March 28, 2014

Celery Soda

Sodas, as in Colas and the like, were eliminated from our beverage rotation eons ago. It’s not that we are entirely pure in our imbibing habits, as we very much enjoy morning coffee and evening wine, it’s that we simply don’t crave sodas. Calories, sugar, etc. are always factors to consider in what gets the pass and what gets the nix in our kitchen and, well, sodas got the nix.

An occasional sparkling water mixed with a little fresh juice or muddle of fresh herb took the place of carbonated colas a long time ago and we never looked back.

And then, just recently, we dined at Sitka & Spruce in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. It’s one of several lovely eateries in the Matt Dillon’ empire of restaurants. My absolute new favorite restaurant of all time is another in the Dillon lineup… The Corson Building. Though our platings at S&S were certainly delicious, it was our introduction to Celery Soda that got our attention.

While I’m familiar with simple syrups and certainly have muddled a few concoctions, I’ve never heard of or considered using celery as a flavor enhancer. It’s delish.

Though I’m not sure of how the folks at S&S prepare their offering, I did get enough info to deduce that it’s probably a celery-infused simple syrup mixed with sparkling water. Served over ice with a fresh squeeze of both lemon and lime… it’s divinely refreshing.

The one enjoyed at S&S was beautifully void of hue, a clear and bubbly drink with a bright and colorful citrusy pop of flavor. Electing to use coconut sugar in place of white refined sugar, my version is a bit more akin to an iced tea in appearance, and ever slightly more molasses-tasting in its sweet note… but equally appealing and enjoyed.

While this won’t be a daily beverage (a simply syrup is still sugar-based), celery is such a fun and tasty flavor option; one that makes this "soda" warrant at least a sip.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Veggie Spaghetti

While some may turn their noses up at a spaghetti that doesn’t promise a rich crumble of savory sausage or red meat tossed and tumbled with a deeply stewed tomato sauce, this veggie variety is a satisfying, heart-healthy, 30-minute ticket to comfort.   Not that dizzy, lethargic, take-a-nap variety, but a feel-good, satisfying, robust veggie one; one that doesn’t leave you laden with indulgent guilt.

Think of it as a soft merino wool blanket that drapes lightly to ward off and soothe the chill and challenge of the day. It’s light, appealing, satisfying, warm, and welcoming.

This particular spaghetti looks to a little partnering of several veggies to create a “meaty” base to a quick sauce built with canned San Marzano tomatoes, red wine and veggie stock . There’s onion, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini, carrot, and kale. Though this is what I had on had, I could easily see the addition of eggplant and/or artichokes. Or, if you happen to have some on hand, some leftover roasted tomatoes. There are so many options...

This one also happens to be gluten-free and dairy-free (assuming you refrain from the french baguette:). I use a little pad of vegan “butter” to silken the sauce, a veggie-based broth, and my favorite gluten-free spaghetti.

Served up warm, straight off the stove, it’s quick, healthy, "no-snooze" comfort in just 30 minutes.