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I’m Mari.
On Marivelous Me! you’ll find recipes, food gifts, food I’ve traveled for and food solutions. Poke around, maybe you’ll find inspiration for something you’re working on. Enjoy! 


Entries in vegetables (13)


Avocado As A Quickie Snack

Sometimes when Mr. Mari and I are looking for a really quick snack, one that requires very little brainpower, we look to our counter for a ripe avocado. Since avocados have a lot of fat (good fats but fats nonetheless) we split one fifty-fifty. 

Instead of peeling, slicing and arranging it on a plate (who’s got time for that?), pour a little salad dressing into its built-in well and boom, snack away. For something light and easy, a squirt of lemon juice and a little coarse salt. Yum. For this I used some ginger dressing but sometimes I’ll just use soy sauce and sprinkle on a few sesame seeds to give it a veggie California roll vibe. Add a little yogurt and some chopped nuts and it’ll be like a chilled avocado “soup”. Or add some salsa to the well and scoop with tortilla chips or crumble some chips on top. I certainly don’t have time to break out a molcajete mid-afternoon, do you?

Note: If you only need one half, just store the remaining half with the pit intact. Cover with plastic wrap and press the film against the flesh. It should stay green for a day.


TVP Stuffed Artichokes

It’s full on artichoke season here. Growing up, my mom would use Progresso Italian-flavored breadcrumbs to stuff her artichokes. Since I’m still on my low-carbish kick, I wanted to try substituting the magical TVP (textured vegetable protein) instead. It worked! The two corrections I’ll make for next time is to drizzle some butter on top instead of olive oil and to pulse-grind the TVP in the food processor for a few seconds to get the “crumb” size a little smaller. So yay! Stuffed artichokes can be and will be a part of our spring menu.

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Beet Green Goma-Ae

When I first started to make roasted beets, all the recipes I referred to always said to save the beet greens for another recipe. Honestly, the beet greens that were attached to the beets that I got at Union Square farmers’ market always looked kinda gross so I never did. It wasn’t until moving to LA that I thought it safe to try using the greens without fear of eating something past its prime. Sauté? Steam? I figured I'd treat them like spinach. 

There's a recipe my mom makes all the time: spinach goma ae (pronounced gomah ah eh). Goma ae is basically a sesame dressing. Ground up sesame seeds with a little soy, sugar and water. That’s it. Seemed like the perfect dressing to put on these pretty red-stemmed greens. Worked out so well (two thumbs up from Mr. Mari) I just want to be able to buy the green part of the vegetable.

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TVP & Meat - Loaf

TVP meat loaf meatloafTVP meat loaf meatloaf slicedMany moons ago, I sang TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)’s praises and you haven’t heard boo from me about it since. Well, since Mr. Mari and I are trying to shed our Freshmen Ten, I pulled Ole Faithful out of the cupboard. The first thing I made was meatloaf, substituting the breadcrumbs for some TVP. Success! The meatloaf was super moist and flavorful (I soaked the TVP in chicken stock). Now I’m thinking about trying to use TVP as fried chicken breading. Stay tuned for that experiment! Meanwhile, click on over for some TVP & Meat - Loaf!

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Cooking with Mom: Kuromame - Japanese Black Beans

kuromame japanese black beansMy mom comes from Sasayama, a tiny country town within the Hyogo Prefecture, which is part of the Kansai region. Although the town is small, population +/- 44,000 persons, Sasayama is known throughout Japan for their kuromame (black beans), adzuki (red beans), wild boar, chestnuts, Matsutake mushrooms, and yams.

Similar to eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and Rosh Hashanah, Japanese people eat kuromame as part of osechi ryori, an elaborate “bento box” meal specifically made just for New Year’s Day. The meal represents a wish for long life, health and energy during the upcoming year. So one might assume that if one had extra large black beans, one might have even more health and prosperity in the New Year, right? Well, the black beans from Sasayama are extra jumbo large, like an inch-long so they are extremely coveted for their part in osechi ryori. The black beans are considered to be the best in Japan, and not just by people from Tamba. Mom said a 200-gram bag (about two cups) might fetch $16. That’s a whole lotta beans for a handful of beans.

kuromame japanese black beans nails ironThe trick to getting them ink black is to cook them in a cast iron pot. Since my mom didn’t bring an iron pot with her from Japan 40+ years ago when she moved to this country, she uses nails to get the same effect and she’s been using the same nails ever since. Whether you use nails or an iron pot, iron leaches into the water and a chemical reaction occurs, giving the beans their distinctive tar black color and very, very slight metallic taste.

The next time you plan on making black beans, take a trip to the hardware store first. Tell them you’re making beans - can they suggest a box of nails that would compliment the meal?

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British Invasion: Shepherd's Pie - adapted, of course

shepherd's pieshepherd's pieThe first time I had Shepherd's Pie was when I visited my friend, Jarrod, and his wife, Susse, in London. It was also the first time I was meeting Susse. Susse was radiant Scottish sunshine. She was totally at ease and totally charming; she chatted with me while sautéing chopped onions and ground meat with one hand and sipped from a glass of red wine with the other. She tossed in some frozen veggies, stirred a packet of Colman's Shepherd's Pie seasonings in a bowl with some water and poured it into the sizzling pot of ground meat and onions. The meat mixture was poured into a casserole dish, covered with mashed potatoes, a fork-tined crosshatch pattern was drawn over the top and then popped into the oven; along with a salad, dinner was cooked and on the table in about an hour. We chatted and laughed for hours. Did I mention it was a weeknight? Even though I didn't grow up eating it, Shepherd's Pie will forevermore be comfort food to me, thanks to that completely relaxed and warmhearted meal. 

For today's musical accompaniment, here's Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds. Why? Well...

  • It's a Scottish band - reference Susse
  • Lead singer Jim Kerr was married to Chrissie Hynde (she's American) - Jarrod and I were interns at Smart Design in New York
  • Jarrod and I started our internships on the same date, twenty years ago as of last week. If we don't cross paths (we rarely do), we always email on our Intern Start Date Anniversary, keeping tabs on what's going on in each other's lives, regardless of where we are in the world.
  • And lastly, The Breakfast Club was a seminal movie. 

So, hop over to YouTube and hop back because there's a Shepherd's Pie going in the oven and you're making it! Happy Friday!

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Sesame String Beans

This is my Mom's string bean recipe. It's one of those dishes that even finicky folks like. My mom uses regular green beans but I prefer haricot vert since I find them to be less squeeky.

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textured vegetable protein aka dried awesomeness

When looking for low-carb grain options in the bulk section at Whole Foods, I came across this item. What is this 'textured vegetable protein' shtuff? Never heard of it AND it sounds very unappetizing. I'm sure to you vegetarians and vegans out there, it's old hat but to someone that normally seeks their protein from animals, this was a new one. Basically, it's made up of dehydrated soy beans that have been defatted, cooked under pressure and dehydrated. It's low in calorie, fat and carbs; high in protein AND it's gluten free. Go figure. For a dollar, I figured I could give it a whirl.

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