Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Seventh Day of Christmas and Welcome 2008

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Seven soups A-warming (living in a 100 year old house means many winters of hot soup)
Six geese a-laying ("adopted" at the animal sanctuary, of course)
Five containers of organic orange juice
Four Kucinich years (as president)
Three alternative heating options (multi-fuel stove, pellet insert, solar)
Two cast iron pans (one a skillet, one a muffin pan) and
A Bakfiet to easily carry Parker, Dema, and Josie

This morning I woke up and decided to make Blueberry Coffee Cake from Vegan with a Vengeance. I hadn't made it in a while and I had about the right amount of vanilla soy yogurt left over from the large container the kids had consumed all week with frozen fruit. I've been thinking about making this for a while, but never seem to have the vanilla soy yogurt on hand. I forgot to put the blueberries in until I had already put the topping on (I was tired, okay, and Dema was giving me just a little too much help..."Mom, I want to do the dry ingredients, let me whisk!", etc, etc.). The recipe did say to wait until the last minute if using frozen blueberries. Anyway, I just put them on top and it all turned out well, in fact, for a stronger blueberry flavor I will sprinkle some on the top (as well as putting them in the mix) next time I make it. I had mine with tea (I don't do caffeine...just ask Rob), some Maple Roasted Nuts from Healthy Cooking for Kids (left over from the party...see below), and an orange my sister's boyfriend brought over last night.

At the last minute yesterday we decided to invite our neighbors and a couple friends from outside the neighborhood over for a little get together. Usually, we have a big New Year's Eve party (last year, over 100 people), but this year we weren't sure if we were up for anything. We love to have people over though so we couldn't resist and we decided not to worry about the messy house (Rob never worries about it) and throw some food together. Rob went around near noon inviting people over (yes, very last minute) and then did a food and drink run. It was great to have a few people over and I appreciate that the neighbors were open to a last minute thing. Our friends Ricky and Catharine are great to stay all the way to midnight even with their twin boys sleeping next to the radiators. It was so nice to have Alicia and Dave and their three youngest party animals there to toast the new year. Here is the post-party scene.

I love to make things I've never made before when we have people over so I couldn't resist cracking open the cookbooks for some new ideas. Black eyed peas are supposed to be good luck so I made the Black Eyed Pea Dip from Vegan Family Favorites. It was the first recipe from VFF which I really haven't liked. It was too "fresh" as they would say in the south. I tried to doctor it up a bit with hot sauce, but still it wasn't my favorite. It called for cilantro or parsley and thinking back that should have been my clue. Rob brought me parsley not knowing what I was using it for and cilantro may have made all the difference. In retrospect I should have just cooked up a "mess" of black eyed peas with a little Earth Balance and called it a day.

The other disappointment was my first go at something out of Veganomincon. I decided to make the hummus recipe (it was very basic, but I love Isa and thought why not go with her hummus). Well, it isn't Isa's fault, but I also went with Veganomincon's suggestion to use the blender instead of the food processor "for really smooth hummus". My lovely new blender's motor is dead now. I blame the blender because, for goodness sake it can handle ice, but not home cooked chickpeas which were super soft already?! Rob was not happy and had a few things to say about it...first he gets on me about not following recipes and then when I do, look what happens!...then he got over it. We'll be writing the blender company a note and if things don't get taken care of...you will see a blog about this at a later date. t was good for party hummus which I always add olive oil, kalamata olives, and paprika to, but a little too bland without the garnish.

Everything else went smoothly. I made the Maple Roasted Nuts from Healthy Cooking for Kids. I used to make these every party and people would just go crazy for them which makes me laugh because they are so incredibly simple. I've made them a couple times lately and I didn't have mace and used nutmeg instead which just isn't the same, but no complaints. I also use date sugar instead of maple sugar. I'll talk about sweeteners sometime soon. I used cashews, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds in the nut mixture for this picture. New Year's Eve I used my more "usual" walnut, cashew, almond mix. Always organic nuts, of course. Great for a snack anytime or topping for oatmeal, soy yogurt, or dessert.

I was looking for a new chili recipe and found Cashew Chili from The Best of Bloodroot Volume Two Vegan Recipes. I don't think I've mentioned Bloodroot before, but I want to take a little time here to stress how great this cookbook is. Our wonderful friend, Alison, introduced us to this cookbook and her beautiful picture is several place inside (she used to work there) which make it even more fun. I was a little intimidated to cook anything from Bloodroot because Alison has brought us food based on some of these recipes and I could never live up to her cooking skills. I like how the cookbook is laid out by season and how the ingredients are highlighted throughout the recipe instead of listed at the beginning. This is helpful for people like me who need the added push to read the recipe all the way through prior to starting it. The Cashew Chili did not disappoint and I had to question why I've never had cashews and raisins in chili before. I added a garnish of cashews and raisins to the leftovers which, as the recipe claimed, were even better than the original taste.

Rob made Parker's Favorite Turnip and Kale Soup and found out that Ricky (from Mississippi) grew up eating only the "tops" of turnips while Rob (from North Carolina) ate both the tops and bottoms. I love hearing stories from the South when they get together.

It was such a nice ending to 2007 (a year of change) and beginning to 2008.

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