Wednesday, September 23, 2009

VeganMoFo III

Tis that time of year again...Don't know what I'm talkin' 'bout? Check it out!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Little Cindy Lou Who, Who Was No More Than Two

At nineteen, I started my first real office job and I was the youngest employee at the time. I was also possibly a little wide blue-eyed and naive (oh, and blond back then). I can still hear, my co-worker, Mark C.'s voice in the back of mind (I'll admit almost 20 years ago) first labeling me (affectionately, I like to think) "Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two".
Well, now my little girl turned two on Labor Day and I think of Cindy Lou Who (the animated one, I haven't seen the new version) when I look at her. Josie is getting so big, but I promise to smell the roses and savor her second year. Two is my favorite age (every age is wonderful, but there is just something amazing about two).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Brunch, the Most Important Meal of the Day

It is no secret, I adore brunch. Nothing is better than leisurely starting the day with snuggle time and some morning reading with the kids, then making our way downstairs to cook breakfast together (sometimes still in our PJs). I tell you, this is one of the perks of homeschooling. Breakfast turns into brunch during the week as often as it does on the weekends. Some of our best family time is sitting down to a big brunch where we discuss all there is to life. I would not give up this time for anything in the world. I'm not saying that some mornings aren't a quick bowl of cereal and soymilk so we can rush out the door for some important appointment, class, museum activity, or play at the park with friends, but I learn about what is going on with the kids and what they are curious about more at brunch than any other time of the day. Often, what comes from cooking and then eating together will then set the tone for the day. A question or new discovery will come up as we are pouring the syrup or passing the kale which turns into a project for investigation or implementation that day. My only regret is that Rob is usually not home for our lovely brunches. He is at work before breakfast most week days and even though the brunch below was on a Sunday, he had to walk downtown to catch a train to Chi-town at o'dark thirty...long before the kids woke up.Golden Potatoes, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, and Kale Tofu (Un)Scramble
Golden Potatoes: Preheat oven to 375F. Peel a few potatoes and cube them. Lightly coat a casserole dish with olive oil, dredge potatoes in nutritional yeast and place in dish. Sprinkle a little salt and freshly ground pepper over potatoes. Bake them along with the tofu. Turn potatoes over as they start to brown.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes: I wasn't going to give this recipe out yet because I rarely make them exactly the same way twice, but here roughly is the kids' favorite pancakes to date.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (not unbleached all purpose, but white whole wheat flour and just use 2 1/2 cups of white whole wheat if you like, I often do)
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 -2 teaspoons cinnamon (it is great for you so if you like the taste, go with 2)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1 apple peeled chopped (optional, but you will get "Mom, I loooovvveee these pancakes!" from your kids every time if you do)

3 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons apple sauce
1 Tablespoon blackstrap molasses (I'll get into sweeteners someday in detail, but I prefer blackstrap molasses most of the time because of the nutritional content - if you are going to use a sweetener you might as well get some nutrition out of it - and rarely do people use too much, the flavor is strong enough it keeps you from going overboard)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups non-dairy milk

You know the drill, mix the dry together in one bowl, the wet in another (ground flax seeds go in the wet). Add the wet to the dry and mix, but not too much. The batter is really pretty thick and I like it that way, but feel free to add more liquid to get a consistency you prefer. I would add more vanilla, cinnamon, and maybe molasses if you add more liquid, but not much of any of these. You all know what to do now (I use a 1/4 cup to scoop the batter. It makes it easier for Parker to make them and I can fit three pancakes at a time which is key for feeding three hungry kids). Usually, the kids can eat them all by themselves, but if they have a couple leftover, I don't dare eat them because they will snack on cold plain pancakes later in the day (meaning maybe half an hour later after they've digested). This day, the kids topped their with boysenberries (which reminds me of my grandmother) we had in the freezer. They always like some frozen fruit on top. Dema prefers his maple syrup (and please make it real maple syrup...there is no substitute) on the side for dipping after he's even several plain with fruit.
This is my plate from Sunday. I only had two potatoes so I left them for the kids and as I stated above I don't dare eat their pancakes, but this big plate of Kale Tofu (Un)Scramble was more than enough for me. The (Un)Scramble was born after making a Kale Tofu Scramble the weekend before (when Rob was around, see picture below recipe) with silken tofu, the only tofu we had in the house and what I normally have used for scrambles over the years (tofu scrambles always remind me of pre-kid days of camping and rock climbing with Rob and silken tofu in an aseptic box travels a lot better in a pack than refrigerated tofu). The kids are not tofu squeamish and younger two love to eat tofu plain, but they have acquired a dislike recently of Japanese silken tofu because of the consistency. So I decided to make my regular baked tofu, which they inhale, with garlicky kale and homemade salsa.

Kale Tofu (Un)Scramble: Your favorite baked tofu. Ours is SoyBoy firm or extra firm (I can't remember which, but we can buy it in bulk five pound packages at Common Ground Co-op for much less a pound than what we were paying for Wildwood tofu in smaller packages. You can cut the five pounds into smaller amounts and freeze some in an airtight container or if you will use it within the week, cover with water in an airtight container and put in the refrigerator, change water daily.) Anyway, I lightly coat a glass casserole dish with olive oil, Bragg's Amino Acids, blackstrap molasses, and sprinkle of hot curry powder. I slice the tofu and dredge in nutritional yeast and place in casserole. Bake for ten minutes each side on 375F (if I need to bake something else at 350F, I'll put the tofu in at 350F and bake longer or if I need to bake something else at 400F, I'll put the tofu in at 400F and bake for less time). While the tofu is baking, I sauteed up some garlicky kale (several cloves of minced garlic, a little water, and a bunch or two of kale torn of the stems into bite sized pieces and maybe a splash of Bragg's). Serve the baked tofu over a bed of garlicky kale and top with salsa (optional).Frozen Peaches, Cheesey Grits with Hot Sauce, and Kale Tofu Scramble.

We all love peaches and we've been buying them like crazy at the Market at the Square, but if you don't eat them quick enough you end up peaches with mushy spots. Parker loves peaches, but not the dripping juice so he always asks for me to freeze them for him. This year, we sliced and froze quite a few so that nary a peach was lost to over-ripening. All the kids love to eat frozen peach slices anytime of day. Rob grew up in the south and introduced me to grits and I've been in love since, but I usually leave the cooking of the grits to him. No more! I didn't realize how simple it was. I thought it must be some southern magic, but it really is some minced garlic, one cup of grits to three cups of bowling water, as much nutritional yeast as you like (I put quite a bit toward the end of the cooking for the grits when it starts to come together). We all like to top it with some hot sauce. This Kale Tofu is really a scramble with carrots, sweet peppers, onions, and spices (like turmeric) and nutritional yeast.

Speaking of brunch, I finally got around to making something from Vegan Brunch! I bought this fantastic cookbook weeks and weeks ago, but didn't even look at it much. Strange for a girl who adores brunch, but I was busy and wanted to give this cookbook its due. I finally got around to perusing and I'm in love! I tried the Vegan Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs first. Yes, yes puff pastry is not usually in my freezer, heck, none of the stores I normally shop at even carry the stuff. (That is why the picture below is using the puff pastry shells instead of the square sheets, it was the only puff pastry I could find.) Not a health food by any stretch, but Pepperidge Farm's puff pastry is vegan or you could make your own puff pastry like the amazing Vegan Dad.Vegan Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs

My oven has a mind of its own these days and I swear it is 30 degrees off at least so the first batch didn't exactly puff up. Still tasty, puff or no. Here is the second after I cooked them for longer on higher heat, but a normal oven would probably do just fine with the heat and time specified in Vegan Brunch.
Since I used the puff shells, I had some tempeh sausage mixture left over. This was fine because the tempeh sausage is marvelous on pasta as well (with sauce made from tomatoes in our garden, of course). I would totally use it for pizza too.I look forward to trying out every recipe in Vegan Brunch over the next month or so!