Wednesday, December 2, 2009

If You Can't Beet 'em

I don't think I've mentioned the wonderful present my husband gave me for my birthday a month ago. You may remember that every appliance in my life is falling apart and we've been living without blender. We decided we wanted to save up for a super blender (like the Vitamix or Blentec) because we were tired of medium end blenders and with the amount of green smoothies we make, a cheap blender wouldn't cut it. I know Rob and I have been vegan over 20 and 15 years respectively and lived fine, even happily, without a super blender, but the last couple years we have been longing for the power, the versatility, the ease of cleaning that only "the big two" can provide.

Usually, my birthday comes and goes without much to do. Really no to do, whatsoever. The days of my birthday meaning anything to anyone died with my mom. I'm fine with that. I don't take birthday type of attention well. It makes me feel uncomfortable and the last couple years it just reminded me how old I'm getting. Rob is a darling husband and the best friend a girl could ever hope for, but he is not one for buying flowers, showering a girl with jewelry, or surprise gifts. He sort of takes the approach in life that if I need something and we have the money, I should just go out and buy it. Why mess with a special occasion. It is hard to argue with. If not the most romantic guy in the world, he is practical and that usually stands the test of time better than conventional romance. At least with me. One of my boyfriends was big into buying me expensive presents and then we got engaged he was obsessive about cleaning my engagement ring. He was really a great guy, but it was the kiss of death for our relationship. I was attracted to Rob because he was different and not materialistic...very real.

Back to this year. I wasn't expecting anything except extra hugs and kisses from the kids and the normal sweetness from Rob. Then I noticed that Parker was a little giddy about deliveries coming to the door (since I run a retail business out of my home, usually the UPS man doesn't excite anyone except me). Then Rob asked me if I wanted to know what my birthday present was since it wouldn't arrive on my birthday (Rob is horrid with secrets, just to warn you). Present? For me? How strange. No, I didn't want to know, I wanted a surprise! Parker was in on the secret and didn't let even the slightest hint pass his lips. Well, it finally arrived and as you surely have guessed, it was a Vitamix! I was so happy and shocked that I didn't open it for a couple days. I was worried about breaking it or something. I finally got over my fear (which is understandable given all the blender woes we've had over the last couple years and reading the Vitamix manual can be a little daunting) and put that bad boy to work. It is all that and more. I'm a believer!

Unfortunately, my photos of my first smoothies may be lost to the world forever because my computer hard drive died sometime while we were in NC for Thanksgiving. Don't give me lectures about backing things up. I am very aware. We probably lost most of the pictures we have taken over the last FIVE years and it is heart breaking to say the least. I'm trying to be Zen about the whole know, I have the kids and the memories so the pictures aren't really that important, but it is sad. Life goes on.

Not only did we just jump on the mega blender bandwagon, but after reading about several bloggers adding beets to their smoothies, I decided now was the time to catch this wave as well. I'm not a huge beet fan. I like them fine and I'll eat pretty much any vegan food and enjoy it, but I don't seek beets out. Well, that has all changed. One sip of my take on the Purple Kale Smoothie (scroll down close to the bottom) and I knew beets would be a staple in my kitchen from now on.

At first, Parker wouldn't try it, which is uber unusual for him. He tries anything vegan and is one of the healthiest eaters I know. He saw me cutting up the beet and didn't like the smell. Josie was the biggest fan with Dema following close behind. The second time I made the smoothie which I now call the Purple Kale Eater Smoothie (after Purple People Eater, but with a compassionate healthy twist) it was a hit with the entire family and dare I say our current favorite.
Purple Kale Eater Smoothie
(I don't guarantee results for anything, but I especially have no idea how this will work in a non-Vitamix blender)
1 cup water
1 cup soy milk
2 cups frozen blueberries
2 bananas (peeled, duh!)
1 bunch kale (washed)
1 small beet (washed, peeled, and I quarter mine)
3 Tablespoons flax seeds (with the Vitamix you don't need to grind them first!!)
3 Tablespoons vanilla soy yogurt (optional)

This smoothie has a nice earthy taste from the beet, but it is not over powering with just the right amount of sweetness. Very refreshing and not heavy like some smoothies can be. Great year round, but especially now while local beets are easy to find.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Broccoli Soup Makes My Vegan World Go Round

My take on Broccoli Potato Soup with Fresh Herbs from Veganomicon (didn't use the fresh herbs or even dried versions except the palate is just not advanced enough to put mint in broccoli soup, I had some, but it didn't sound at all appetizing and added nooch and tahini, served with raw pumpkin seeds, more nooch, and hot sauce) and whole wheat Fettuccine with Red Lentil Sauce from Vegan Planet (I used whole wheat spaghetti and added kalamata olives).

It is no secret that I adore lentils. They are so easy to cook, packed with nutrients, and so versatile. Red lentils are a great way to add nutrients, including protein and iron to pasta sauce since they break down and don't keep their shape as other lentils do. Robin Robertson's recipe in Vegan Planet is a great way to dip your toe into the wild world of lentils in pasta sauce.

I was eating some leftover Broccoli Potato Soup the other day during a rare moment of solitude and reflection. It was so incredibly comforting and satisfying that I decided that Broccoli Soup makes my world go round. I love food and soups warm my heart fall through spring, but for some reason that day, this particular soup was one of the very best things I ever remember eating. It fed my body and my soul. I am thankful for Broccoli Soup. I'm dropping the potato because I doubled the recipe, but didn't double the potato (more broccoli, yum!) and the broccoli is the star. Our local farmers have reduced their price on broccoli so we've been buying as much as we can carry on our bikes. We cut it up into florets and freeze some, but that seems wasteful so I made as much of it as I could into Broccoli Soup. It truly makes my world go round.

I know, Queen again, what is with me lately? I guess growing up with a brother 8 1/2 years older than me and having a husband 9 1/2 years older ages my taste in music.

This one is more in my generation, but which one do your prefer? Tough call. Stick with the soup.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Taco Night

Taco night? I don't do taco night.* Well, the other night I did, but don't think that makes me some Susie Homemaker or some boring stable married woman or something. I can still run from the law and keep myself stocked with clean tank tops and know how to keep my pits clean-shaven on a semi-deserted island after a plane crash. Don't even get me started about polar bears, black smoke monsters, and time travel. Where the heck was I? Oh yes, taco night. I don't think the kids have eaten tacos before. They don't remember ever eating them, but they saw the taco shells at the store the other day and asked for them. I saw no reason to say "no" so I plopped a couple packages in my cart and went into a daydream about secret identities, complicated (are there any simple ones??) love triangles with slightly scruffy looking heart throbs, and major father issues. Sigh. I was always more of a burrito gal than a taco fan growing up, but it is nice to spice things up once in a while. I made the Vegan Tempeh Sausage from Vegan Brunch, which I now use in almost everything with great success. Added shredded some FYH cheese (bought on sale), salad mix from the farmer's market, and Newman's Own peach salsa. Rob made Parker's Favorite Turnip and Kale Soup and I made Pear Apple Sauce. The verdict? Parker decided that tacos were too messy for him, Dema and Josie enjoyed them, but Rob and I stuffed ourselves silly. I mean we really could not stop eating them. I guess vegan tacos are so much better than pregan ones. Mmmm vegan tacos (said in a Homer Simpson voice).

*For Lost fans, Kate's line from Season 3 Episode 6 "I Do" right before she leaves a drugged Kevin (flashback to her marriage before the crash). For some reason this line totally cracks me up and I can't think of tacos without thinking of that scene. Not a Lost fan? What is wrong with you? Are you living in a cave? We don't even own a TV and I've seen every episode.The leftover tempeh sausage and FYH cheese was a great addition to whole wheat spaghetti and tomato sauce.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

There is No Such Thing as Too Much Ginger

Or maybe there is. I was on my way out the door for a girls only evening as Rob arrived home from work the other day. I had no idea what I was going to cook, until I started to get out the pans. I flipped through Everyday Vegan by Jeani-Rose Atchison. This cookbook just sits on my shelf most days because she doesn't include things like how many a recipe serves or cooking times, but it caught my eye on this night. Rob had bought several butternut squash from the farmer's market the previous weekend so I settled on Gingered Butternut Squash Soup. Rob entered the door as I was ready to add the ginger so I asked him to peel and grate some ginger root. He had no idea what I was making and we love ginger so he went heavy on the ginger. I threw it in (it doesn't get sauteed or anything so it is pretty much straight ginger. If finished up the soup and left. Well, it was a tad "spicy" for the kids and I don't blame them. I enjoyed it the next day, but I am a ginger lover. Josie will eat raw ginger and eat ginger chews like nothing so she joined me eating the soup, but the boys passed. I also added pear along with the apple it called for since we had one getting a little too ripe and topped with roasted pumpkin seeds. I'd make the soup again, but I would watch the ginger.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pasta, Pumpkin Seeds, Pancakes, and Pirates

These pirate pictures are from a month or so ago, but I had to share them. I've talked about my great neighborhood over and over, but I really can't stress enough what wonderful neighbors we have. One warm fall weekend, the kids were invited over to our neighbor Gail's house (her child is college age now) for an impromptu crafting session. They came home with these amazing pirate hats made out of newspaper. How cool is that?

I just had to share another picture of this pose of Parker's. He is not my usual child who goes for the "pirate look", but he really loved it and they had hours of fun. The hats are still in great condition and used often. Gail rocks!
This meal was based on Squashed Macaroni from Mothering mag e-mail. I don't subscribe to Mothering magazine anymore, but I still get their emails and sometimes the recipes catch my eye. I tagged this recipe as one to make and finally did the other day. Obviously, I used whole wheat fusilli instead of macaroni. I didn't have any walnuts to sprinkle on top so I added raw almonds to the sauce instead. I think the walnuts would be better, but the almonds were fine. I skipped the parsley and kelp, but added steamed kale and peas. I'll make this again as this is a great way to use squash. This time I used an acorn squash leftover from our CSA, but any squash would work.
We've been roasting a lot of pumpkin seeds from the many pumpkins we carved for Halloween. I usually roast pumpkin seeds with much of the same seasoning I use to bake tofu; Bragg's amino acids, olive oil, blackstrap molasses, and curry powder. Many batches are just eaten right out of a bowl, but if there are any left I like to add a few to everything we eat. Salad mix from the farmer's market, raisins, and pumpkin seeds (added homemade tahini dressing before eating).Pumpkin Pancakes from Vegan Brunch. Rob played chess after work one night so I decided we should have pancakes for dinner since it was just the kids and me. I decided on the Pumpkin Pancakes from Vegan Brunch because they included a vegetable (a stretch, I know). I topped them with homemade apple/pear sauce and walnuts. They didn't need syrup. We had soy yogurt with the last of our farmer's market blackberries we froze (I need to buy more next year so maybe we can make it until winter). To round off the meal and to make me feel better about pancakes for dinner, we had baked tofu sandwiches with avocado on Veggie Seed bread from Strawberry Fields. The pancakes were very liquidy and cooked up very thin, almost crepe like with a great taste and actually perfect for a fall dinner.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leaf Love

I mentioned October has been pretty nasty weather-wise in my part of the world. It has been cold and wet and I prefer to be warm and dry. What gets me up and out of bed in the morning is waking up to the view of the park and the beautiful trees. It makes the cold weather tolerable.Don't take my iPhone's word for it. Check out my sweet and talented neighbor, Cynthia's blog and her pictures of the park. Breathtaking!
We did have a brief, but lovely warm-up last week. One of the advantages to homeschooling is when Mother Nature serves you a special day, you can move school outside. We read books, wrote reports, and drew pictures at the park. Here Dema is regaling us with a story before teaching Josie her body parts in Spanish.We also went on biking/walking/busing adventures to the Orpheum Children's Museum, library, downtown, campus, and Scott Park before heading downtown again for Spanish. Josie actually requested I take this picture as we waited at the bus station for transport to our next destination.
This is Josie's normal response when I take out my phone for a picture. "No pictures!" I just couldn't help it. She looked so cute (before the picture protest) in her two favorite purple sweaters. The one underneath was made last year by our fabulous neighbor, Margie.
This weekend our amazingly thoughtful friends, Kit and Emily, dropped off pumpkins to our house from their family's pumpkin patch. We were supposed to all get together to carve pumpkins, but they came down with the intestinal illness which seems to have infected half our town. Yet they still dropped off pumpkins for us to carve. I tell you, we are not worthy of all the delightful people we have in our lives!Josie, Rob, Parker, and Dema carving pumpkins. Apparently, it is serious work! We have our old 6lb. nooch bucket for compost and glass container for saving seeds. Loretta and lovely her family joined us for the carving and they look equally serious!The kids had a great time jumping in piles of leaves after they were done carving and then as darkness fell we enjoyed a yummy dinner (thanks to Loretta and David bringing excellent soup and pasta to add to Rob's stir fry). Now if fall wouldn't turn into winter...

Lentil Love

I'm a VeganMoFo 2009 Dropout. I know it.

I just can't justify spending time at the computer some days. A few days were super beautiful and we had to spend every second we could outside since we've already had unseasonably cold and rainy weather most of the month. The beautiful days are precious and fleeting. The rest of the time, I feel like I should be washing dishes or fixing something. Not only have I not beenblogging, but we've been cooking super simple, quick meals. Yummy, but blogged about before. One of the foods I've been making a lot is soup. Lentil soups, specifically. Creamy lentil soups so that means lots of red lentils. Mmmmm! We love lentils! Tonight I had a little two much two year old help and not enough adult help so I threw this together:Silky Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup and Easy Peanut Sauce Over Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Peas and Broccoli

The Silky Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup is from Vegan Feast Kitchen and the Easy Peanut Sauce was a tester recipe from Robin Robertson's latest cookbook (I can't wait to buy it as soon as things stop breaking around the house!). The peanut sauce is already a favorite and the soup is a new fave. Dema is in a mood lately where he turns his nose up at everything just to drive me insane. He will say he doesn't like everything, even as he devours it or even if it is something he asked for. He is extremely contrary so we try to ignore his comments. Tonight he was much better and ate the entire bowl of soup with much lip smacking before he said he didn't like it. Dema and Josie had frozen pomegranate kernels with their meal. Another hit with Dema and he ate most of the bag before he said they were "okay". Silly boy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

Not so VEGANMOFO 2009...

Dishwasher broken.

I put a load of dishes in the dishwasher, turn it on. Walk away, run back in kitchen to sound like grinding glass coming from dishwasher. Look it over, can't find anything obviously causing the noise. Start it again, again horrible noise, but quicker this time. No problem, I can wash dishes by hand in a shallow old sick which doesn't fit most of our pans. We went through this before with this dishwasher....months and months until Rob finally fixed it. We'll leave for Chicago and get away from the cold house and the dishes for a weekend of friends and VeganMania.
Roof leaking.
As I go up to the attic to get the suitcases, I notice a little water on the floor...hmmm. No matter, very small amount of water and it had been raining for like 40 days and nights. We'll deal with it when we get back.
Radiator in play room hissing (old house, steam heat).
No problem, found a great plumber who came by quickly to fix it (broken pipe...out over $300, but its fixed).
Boiler gushing water.
I like to save energy and I also have this contest with myself every year to keep the heat turned off until my birthday in November. This October has been very cold, but I am tough. The family is tough. We like to wear layers (hats and coats in the house). When it is cold inside, you don't mind getting on your bikes and going places outside (it is actually warmer riding your bike). Yet, our boiler kicked on (see radiator hissing above) a couple times already because we can't turn our thermostat lower than 49 degrees F (which is probably a good thing). Radiators leaking water, check boiler in the basement, water gushing...panic since I'm not a handy woman and I didn't even know where the turn off valve for the water is (I do now!)...helpful neighbors, Rob takes afternoon off...plumber not available. No problem, we don't need heat anyway until November and if I really want to warm up I can do dishes.
Boiler fixed.
Heating/AC person comes to look at boiler five days and $80 later. Build up or something messed up some valve thingy (Rob dealt with him, I wrangled the kids). They didn't much anything because the draining of the boiler probably fixed the issue. No problem, nice to have it fixed before we need it and a professional checkup.
Wait, the kitchen radiator is leaking steam now. Must be a job for the plumber. $30 later, yes the valve needed tightening, but he takes a gander at the boiler and it is flooded again. No problem, Rob needs to clean out some pipe connected to the boiler. We're not real confident this will fix the problem, but we'll keep our fingers crossed now won't we.
Three year old front loading washer broken.
I put some clothes in the washer, go upstairs to get kids ready for bed. Come back downstairs to put the laundry in the dryer. It has stopped mid-cycle. Crazy kids, must have knocked the setting or played with the buttons. Start it over. Read books to kids, Rob goes downstairs to put laundry in dryer. Washer completely non-responsive. Another one down. Houston, we have a problem.

At least we have our health and our humor (and Queen).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chicago Vegan Mania

Last weekend we took the train to Chitown to see our friends Katherine and Todd and attend Chicago Vegan Mania. I thought it would be fun, especially for the kids to go to a big event which was all about veganism. We have lots of friends who are vegan friendly, adults who are vegan, and few vegetarian friends, but sadly we don't know any vegan kids in our town anymore. I heard about Chicago Vegan Mania on a Vegetarian Resource Group parenting email list so I knew there would be some families. I guess we've lived in a small college town too long because I was blown away by the line at the door when we arrived at the event last Saturday. It was so nice to see a line of vegans winding its way down two streets waiting for the doors to open on a cold Chicago morning.
Although it was only a little past ten in the morning, we went straight for the food. We were given some tickets at the door and then bought more so we could use them on food. I don't have a good feeling for how expensive the food ended up being because we bought the sample sizes. I also think we were given the free tickets based on a family not per adult or per person, but I have to admit I'm not sure. I think next year (they hope to make this an annual event!) they should do free tickets per person (children included) if they want to draw families to the event. I understand they have to pay for the event though.
Our first food stop was Soul Vegetarian. We've eaten there before, but it has been waaaayyyyy too long. As I remember, the restaurant is fairly small, but the service was excellent and the food even better. I love my health food, but sometimes it can leave you cold wanting more. I admit my heart has a special spot for a cuisine which usually comes with a "big mess o' greens". Soul Vegetarian does wholesome like a warm snugly hand-knit afghan. They are the place to go for quality vegan comfort food that satisfies, the likes of which I've never found anywhere else. We bought the sample platters and Dema devoured the bbq seitan, Parker mmmm'ed his way through the mac and cheese, and Rob and I savored the sauteed collards. It was all great and I wanted to go back to buy the large plate, but there were more good eats to be had. I have to add that Soul Vegetarian is a class act and they know how to cater an event. Other vendors ran out of food pretty quickly (this can be a problem at vegan events...people want to eat the food!), but SV made a reported three trips back to their restaurant (not a short jaunt) to keep all our vegan bellies filled.
Rob grabbed some wraps from what I believe was an Upton's Naturals booth. They were scrumptious! He had to go back for more. I was hoping it was a restaurant, but maybe this is better because I can talk to my local co-op (Jacqueline, are you out there?) to stock Upton's Naturals products. We usually make our own seitan, but their products are worth spending money on. There was live entertainment on the stage in the room with the food. It was nice, but a little loud so it was hard to talk and get to know people.After eating, we checked out the other booths. Here is a picture of the boys chatting it up with a woman at a chiropractor booth (Dema has another Upton's Naturals wrap in his hand). It was so funny how long they talked with her. There were lots of vendors and non-profits there. From water purifiers to Mercy for Animals to Ethical Planet (with a great sale on vegan shoes, I almost bought a pair of high heels...a little bit of my pregan shopping personality coming out, I was a little bit of a shoe hoarder in my time, but that is a story for a different post) to art. It was all there. Here is Parker getting the last sample of vegan chocolate from an unknown vendor (sorry!) for Josie who was about ready to grab the plate. The kids spent a while at the crafts table making pictures and musical instruments. We met a few other families, but didn't get a chance for the kids to chat much. I was a tad disappointed that there wasn't more for kids. I'll have to think of some things they could do next year and maybe offer to help out.
Our friend Todd (a pescetarian) was quite a sport about attending with us. He and his wife, Katherine, were leaving for NJ the next day yet he spent the day hanging out with us manic vegans. The event was in the Wicker Park area of Chicago and Katherine's toy store is not far away so later in the afternoon Todd and Rob took the kids to Building Blocks (to Dema Chicago is all about the toy store, but he showed great restraint and was happy with a small Lego set). I stayed to catch a couple of the speakers (I think Parker would have enjoyed the speakers too, but Josie needed a nap and Dema was getting would have been great if they had "speakers" or organized activities for the kids during the talks, but I totally understand that would be harder to do). The first speaker, I was able to catch was Will Tuttle, PhD. We bought a few of his music CDs over the years and the kids really enjoy the animal sounds with the piano, but I don't think I've ever heard him speak. Dr. Tuttle has kind of a new-agey, yoga instructor feel about him and pretty much exudes peace. I enjoyed his talk so much that I immediately went downstairs to buy the audio version of his book, The World Peace Diet, but no one was at him booth (he was still talking with people upstairs). I didn't want to miss one of my favorite speakers, Dr. Greger, MD so after waiting a while, I ran back upstairs for Greger's talk, but I came back after to buy Dr. Tuttle's audio book and a CD of his talk.Dr. Greger was in a hurry to get to the airport, but full of energy, fun (I really wish Parker could have been there for this one), and informative. Dr. Greger sifts through the studies with his trained eye and comes out with an annual DVD of what he has learned. He separates the wheat from the chaff so to speak and does so with a cute, geeky sense of humor. He ran his session in a game show fashion. We all stood up and he would ask questions about nutrition (e.g. Are mushrooms better for you raw or cooked?) and we raised our hands sort to "vote" for the answer we thought was correct and sat down when we got a question wrong. Vegans tend to be more interested in nutrition than your "average" citizen and many of us keep up on the latest nutrition news. So it was lots of fun to hear the gasps of disbelief when people would get an answer incorrect. It was especially fun to see large groups of people sit down after one particularly "tricky" question. The person left standing at the end, was give a free CD (one you can't even buy if you beg him). Then everyone stood up again for the next list of questions. Exercise and quality nutrition information, it doesn't get better than that. Loads of fun! I have to say, humbly, that I was the last person standing once and came very close a couple more times. A nine year old girl was the last one standing for the first round of questions, very impressive! Oh and you should always eat your mushrooms...cooked. Sorry raw foodists, there are apparently toxins on mushrooms that are harmful to you, but cooking the mushrooms gets rid of the toxins and allows you to reap the many health benefits without the poison. Or so the studies (per Dr. Greger) say. More on his 2009 version of Latest in Clinical Nutrition in a later post.We had to catch the early train Sunday so I could be back for the radio show. The kids love riding the train, but they were a tad tired and ready to be home. We read the rest of the seventh (and last) book in the Harry Potter series and snacked on dried figs. When we arrived back in our little college town, we stopped at a local bar/restaurant for a black bean burger (pretty much the only thing we could find on a Sunday morning) and then walked the mile home. Josie enjoyed wheeling "her" luggage part of the way home and she loved her borrowed boots (thanks Amara and Indigo!).We always love visiting our friends in Chicago (and sadly never have enough time to see everyone or go to all the great veg/veg-friendly restaurants) and were glad we could make the Chicago Vegan Mania as well. We look forward to next year!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A-ha Moment

Not this kind of a-ha moment:

One of the those kitchen a-ha moments where you wonder why you didn't think of it before and you are sure everyone is already doing and you are the last to figure things out. Well, a couple weeks ago I was making a quick dinner before running out to a meeting. I only had something like fifteen minutes to get food on the table and change clothes. I decided on FatFree Vegan's Easy Mac and Cheeze. Vegan mac and cheeze is not vegan mac and cheeze to me without some veggies, but I was short on time and our dishwasher is broken and most of the dishes piled up in the sick. I was heating up the water in our pasta pot and it occurred to me that my bamboo steamer would fit perfectly on top of the pot. I cut up some kale and threw it in the streamer and by the time the water was boiling, the kale was steamed. I served the pasta with warmed up leftover lentil soup. Done and done. A hot filling, nutritious meal in the time it took to boil water. I really don't know why it never occurred to me before to take advantage of the heating water to steam veggies, but now I do it all the time. I even steam veggies over the water I heat for tea (it is quite cold in my house already...50 to 55 degrees hot tea is what gets me through the day).What a-ha! moments have you had in the kitchen lately?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Best Things in Life are Free

Okay, so this meal wasn't exactly free, but we just threw it together from leftovers so it was easy peasy and ohhhh soooo yummy! It reminds me that sometimes the most simple dishes are the most satisfying. I love the steam coming up from the wok. This is before Rob threw in the leftover brown rice and red rice. I still need to blog about red rice sometime. Soon, I promise!Broccoli, carrots, tofu, collards, onions, garlic in cast iron wok
Hot air balloon over our house (thanks for the heads up, Loretta!)

Tomato Rosemary Scones

I can not express in words how Tomato Rosemary Scones (from Vegan Brunch) have changed my life. I promised I'd blog about them a while back, but I never had the time to give them their due. Tomato and rosemary is always a delicious combination so they caught my eye the first time I opened Vegan Brunch. I was making sauce with tomatoes from my garden one morning. Enjoying the sauce making experience. Adding onions from my CSA share, sweet peppers from my garden, more thyme, more oregano over the course of the morning. Soaking some cashews and adding them to the sauce and a little bit of this and that. I pureed the whole thing because the kids will pick out the tomato skins (I just like to cook them chopped skins on) if I don't puree. The end result was several cups of sauce luscious lovely homemade sauce. Plenty to make Tomato Rosemary Scones and some leftover. I use white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose and subbed date sugar (just a couple Tablespoons not the 1/4 cup of sugar the recipe calls for). They were so easy and fun to make. I started making them as a normal daily routine when I made sauce. I made them as part of a meal for an omni friend who just had a baby and she asked for the recipe. I made them so much that we went through our 25 lbs. of white whole wheat flour in record time. Tomato Rosemary Scones, farmer's market black berries (from freezer), whole wheat past with broccoli and VeganYumYum's Hurry Up Alfredo
The first picture is dinner and the second lunch the next day. I saw this recipe on VeganYumYum and didn't really think much of it until I saw Lisa post about it and knew I had to try Hurry Up Alfredo. It worked fine in my food processor since we still don't have a blender. (Sigh, on top of this our dishwasher broke down again, our oven is acting like it is on its last legs, we discovered our roof is leaking before we left town this weekend, and yesterday we found out we have a broken pipe on one of our radiators which we haven't yet turned but it got cold enough in the house to start up by itself at 50 degrees F...back to the food!) I would definitely make Hurry Up Alfredo again.
Carrot Bisque (Vegan with a Vengeance) with raw pumpkin seeds, Tomato Rosemary Scones, fresh mango
Tomato Rosemary Scones (Vegan Brunch), Carrot Bisque (Vegan with a Vengeance) served over quinoa with raisins and raw pumpkin seeds

Friday, October 9, 2009

Brunch, It's What's for Dinner

As if brunch wasn't crazy enough. I mean, mixing the lines between breakfast and lunch...wacky stuff. I've found myself looking at Vegan Brunch for inspiration for dinner as well. Maybe it should be called "bruncher".Sauteed Collards and Sausages (Italian Feast Sausage recipe also from Vegan Brunch) from Vegan Brunch

I doubled the Italian Feast Sausage recipe the other day when we were going to have friends over for brunch. Brunch had to be canceled so I used some for the Sauteed Collards and Sausages for dinner and served the rest for Monday homeschool group lunch on buns with "hot dog" toppings. I cut them in half for the kids and that was plenty to fill the buns. They were great both ways! I even had an omni homeschooling mom friend who is not big on vegan food sniffing the air saying "That actually smells good!" and checking them out. She was surprised to hear I made them at home out of pinto beans (similar to this recipe). I used hot paprika because we don't have any sweet so they were pretty spicy. I was never a big sausage fan pregan days, but I love me some spicy seitan! I will definitely make them again.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kiss My (Jalapeno Garlic) Grits

I never ate grits as a kid. I think the only way I had ever hear the word is from Alice which I'm sure was on reruns when I was a young kid (I know I'm dating myself) and that may be one of the reasons I don't own a TV. My kids may be missing out on a bit of Americana and some pop culture, but they also won't have all the one-liners in their heads when certain words are uttered.

My southern husband introduced me to grits and now it is a family favorite for quick warm snack or part of a warm satisfying breakfast. I used to wait for Rob to cook the grits because he "knew what he was doing", but it is so easy, I can't believe I thought there was some magic to it. I like to saute some garlic in olive oil, then add the water and bring it to a boil, add the dried grits, and I take such pleasure stirring it until it starts to thicken (I even have a favorite bamboo slotted spoon which I think of as my "grits spoon"). Right before the grits are done cooking, I add nooch, salt, and freshly ground pepper. We usually have everyone's favorite hot sauces on the table so we can all add the one we enjoy.
This morning, I was flipping through Vegan Brunch as I made the kids Apple Cinnamon Pancakes (no apples today so I added extra shredded coconut and almond extract instead of vanilla) and decided we needed some Jalapeno Garlic Grits. I'm lazy so I just sauteed the jalapenos we have sitting around from our garden (they are red not green, we grew four or five different types of peppers so they may not be jalapeno, but they looked like they jalapenos) and the garlic like I normally do instead of following Isa's instructions. This way I only used one pan. Josie and Parker loved them, but Dema wouldn't try them. He is a grits fan, but they can't have "red things" in them apparently. More for us. The Jalapeno Garlic Grits are a nice change from grits topped with hot sauce and they had just the right amount of kick.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Ode to IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper

Ode to IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper
When I bake with puff pastry or am craving cookies, you are the one I reach for.
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper
You keep me from using unnecessary oil and you make clean up a snap.
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper

If I could change one thing about you, yes my love is not unconditional...
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper
Anyway, that one thing would be your size, yeah, I know, I'm so shallow, but it is true.
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper
It seems like a cruel joke that you a tad too wide.
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper

In my perfect universe, you would be exactly the size of my baking pans so I wouldn't have to fold you. I'm lazing and feel like it is a waste.
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper
I rarely think of you, but when I need you and you are gone, I am lost.
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper

Kind of like the springy toilet paper dispenser thingy which one of the kids broke, I don't realize how much I miss you, until I want to use you
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper

I should make a special trip to the store to buy you, sorry if I'm making you feel used and cheap.
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper

But the truth is our relationship is all one-way. I take and you give.
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper

Are you really better for the environment or am I fooling myself?
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper
I still like how I can use you twice before recycling you.

IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper
I messed up and used waxed paper once and I promise to never cheat again!
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper
Smoke, carcinogens, icky mess, what was I thinking?
IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper

I know I don't always show it, but I adore you!

IF YOU CARE® Parchment Paper

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup

Tonight I made Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. It is a great fall weather soup. I used more tomatoes from our garden and some leftover zucchinis. People are always giving us veggies saying they figure we'll use them since we're vegan. It is great! I love free veggies, especially from other people's gardens, but I have to get going on the zucchinis. I think I'll end up freezing quite a bit. Rob made some fantastic homemade bread this weekend and used up the rest of our 25lb of white whole wheat. He is really getting the hang of baking bread and it was perfect with this soup. With the chill in the air, I have to make homemade apple sauce. I sliced up apples and pears, threw them in my crock pot, added a little water (if you have enough pears the water isn't really needed), a little lemon juice, and a little cinnamon, and little date sugar and cooked it until it spelled done. I had some leftover puff pastry so I filled some with the apple sauce and baked at 400F for about ten minutes. They tasted like apple (sauce) turnovers.Please hop over to Vegan Dad's blog and made his Creamy Chunky Cauliflower Chowder. I don't have a picture because we ate this Monday for lunch at our homeschool group, but it was excellent (several people asked what the good smell was, but I didn't share). Rob made some of the bread dough into these big rolls (sorry no picture) which were perfect for dipping. Yes, I'm in a pureed soup rut, but I love them! I had cauliflower I needed to use up and I remember Vegan Dad's post, but I'll probably buy some this weekend just to make this soup again. It sort of reminds me of his Creamy Mac and Cheeze sauce, but in a cauliflower chowder form. Trust me, make it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vegan Tempeh Sausage Three Ways

By now you have all heard that the Vegan Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs from Vegan Brunch rock, but if you read my blog often you'll understand I just can't leave well enough alone. Sure, puff pastry can be vegan (check the label). You can even make it yourself. Alas, puff pastry is no health food no matter how you slice it. Sure, fine for once in a while, but the tempeh sausage is so good you'll want to eat it more often. I've mentioned before it is excellent on pasta, but I wanted to try something different.
So, I decided to try it on prepared polenta. I preheated the oven to 400F, put a little oil in a casserole dish, sliced up some prepackaged polenta (I think it was sun-dried tomato flavor), spread the polenta over the bottom of the casserole dish, topped with tempeh sausage and baked until the polenta started to brown (the tempeh started to brown a little too much before the polenta so maybe it needs to cook longer, but at a lower temp?). Not the same as puff pastry, but still very yummy. The family ate them up and I'll work on perfecting the heat/timing and maybe a sauce?
From the first bite, I've thought the tempeh sausage would be excellent on pizza. Rob made some pizza dough this weekend and we tried it out. Excellent. Kale, carrots, kalamata olives, homemade sauce from the last(?) of our garden tomatoes, and tempeh sausage. Yum!