December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays ~ Home Made

The last gift is wrapped, all the cookies are done, plated, and on their way to friends and family.  I just got word the kids in California got their Christmas from grandma, I can stop worrying about that. I have a four day weekend coming up, and I'm ready.  I think we'll spend Christmas morning watching the sunrise from a nice hilltop playing with our camera. I think we may have done that last year.  That's one of the benefits of keeping pictures in this blog and Facebook, I can look back and find out what we did last year.

This year most all the presents I gave are hand made by myself, a local artist, or thrift store items headed for a new life.  I made some U-Bake Cookies and Lentil soup mix in jars, a great idea I got from Care2 make a difference.  Marty, who I am thrilled is home this year, helped me bake cookies so he could gift some to his friends.  He made the oatmeal cookies, which was a great way to spend some time with him.  I also got some practice instructing instead of doing the baking. I kind of like being on that side of the recipe.  That was fun.  We tie dyed the cardamon sugar cookies too.  I started with one just to see how it would work and then the fun was on.  I called my husband into the kitchen and told him to try it, we had a great time tie dying our cookies and using different techniques to get the patterns flowing.

 Vegan Cookies for Christmas

Cardamon Sugar Cookies with Meyer Lemon Glaze
Raw Almond Butter Cookies
Almond Crescents
Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Carrot Ginger Oat Cookies
Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip with Buckwheat Flour
Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dried Asian Pears with Cinnamon and Nutmeg

December 11, 2011

Wearing My Veggies ~ My Garden Fresh Tattoo

I have or should say "had" an old tattoo, A faded rose from days gone by. I've had getting it covered or re-worked on my list of things to do before I retire.  Why that list, because what I've been thinking about getting will cost more than I will be able to afford once I'm self employed, hopefully teaching and sharing my love of vegan cooking with others.

 I love art and I've seen some lovely tattoos on women.   My friend who owns a couple restaurants had a "Rosie the Riveter" portrait on her upper back with pies and cakes piled all around Rosie's waist.  I was pretty inspired.  Of course, I don't want to copy someone's art, so I just stuck it in the back of my mind and pondered what I'd do when I finally got it done.  I once saw a woman who had a typewriter tattooed across her arm, she told me she's a writer.  Sometimes, I like to go to the face painter's booths at music festivals and have a large bouquet painted on for the day. This last summer while walking the Alberta "Last Thursday" art walk in Portland, I saw a woman with a bouquet of fresh vegetables on her upper arm.  I loved it and found my inspiration.  I asked her if I could take a picture of her tattoo.

I pass a sign on my way to the Payton's produce store weekly.  "We Fix Old Tattoos and Make 'em New"  I often think about going in there and talking to them and one day it happened.  Felicia had just gotten a lovely vine of flowers with all her children's names around the leaves and she introduced me to the artist, Jason Hanks.  I showed him my faded rose and suggested he make it into a cabbage and maybe add a vegetable or two.  I showed him the picture of the woman in Portland and told him I wanted something similar.  We made an appointment to design it, we started looking at my pictures from the garden, he got to drawing, and pretty soon I ended up with an original still life.  One of the best parts is that he used pictures from my own photo galleries for some of the models.  When it came time to color the golden beet up front I brought in some fresh organic golden beets.  It took about nine hours, three sittings over three months.  It's a bit bigger, OK, a whole lot bigger, than I imagined, but I do love it and so does my husband.

The sad part, I live in the Pacific Northwest and won't be able to show it off, but a few weeks a year.  It'll be under sweater for quite a few months.

When I showed it to Chef Al at the Compassionate Thanksgiving, he said, "You can grow your vegetables, you can cook and eat your vegetables, now you can wear your vegetables!"  I like wearing my vegetables, inside and out.

Avocado Fries ~ Vegan Junk Food

Michael Pollan's Food Rule #39

Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
There is nothing wrong with eating sweets, fried foods, pastries, even drinking soda every now and then, but food manufacturers have made eating these formerly expensive and hard-to-make treats so cheap and easy that we're eating them every day. The french fry did not become America's most popular vegetable until industry took over the jobs of washing, peeling, cutting, and frying the potatoes -- and cleaning up the mess. If you made all the french fries you ate, you would eat them much less often, if only because they're so much work. The same holds true for fried chicken, chips, cakes, pies, and ice cream. Enjoy these treats as often as you're willing to prepare them -- chances are good it won't be every day. 

My friend Felicia posted a link to some Halaal Recipes Saturday and some of them looked very interesting.  One that caught my interest right away was Avocado Fries.  I just picked up some avocados at Payton's on Friday and I know there are some ripe, but firm ones in the basket. I also had some organic panko breadcrumbs in the cupboard.

At first glance I noticed eggs and cheese in the recipe. It wasn't difficult to veganize. I substituted 3 tablespoons of flaxseed meal mixed with 1/2 cup water and let it sit for about five minutes to thicken. For the Parmesan cheese, I just used a handful of nutritional yeast flakes. I made a dipping sauce with fresh lime juice, about a half cup of Veganaise, a couple teaspoons of chili powder, a splash of Tamari, and pinch of cayenne.

These fries were really messy to make and that's probably a good thing.They are very high in fat and we shouldn't be eating them too often. They do kind of remind me of the strange things you see deep fried at the county fair.

Avocado Fries by: Vennise Hassen
2 large avocados, cut into 6-8 slices lengthwise (for each avocado)
canola oil for frying ~ I used a blend of hazelnut oil and sesame oil
2 cups of panko Italian flavored breadcrumbs I used plain organic panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten I used ground flax seed and water
1 cup of flour seasoned with 1/4 teaspoon each, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, parsley, salt and grated parmesan cheese.   A handful of nutritional yeast flakes worked very well in place of the parmesan cheese. 

Separate flour, egg and panko Italian breadcrumbs into three bowls. Using a fryer or deep wok style pan, pour in enough oil for frying and turn the range to medium heat.  Take one slice of avocado, and coat it in the egg mixture.  Then coat it in the flour mixture and then the breadcrumb mixture. it again in the egg, flour and then breadcrumb mixture.  Put the avocado piece in once the oil is hot.  Cook avocado until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown. These will not take long to cook around 30 seconds on each side, make sure you turn them for even cooking. Repeat with remaining avocado slices. Serve with fresh salsa to dip in.

I used about two and a half medium avocados. This made for about four to five fries per serving. Split between three of us, it wasn't such a bad snack. My son's portion sat on a plate awaiting his arrival and it was difficult not to scarf them down before he got home. He enjoyed them too.  He's beginning to notice that the vegan kitchen does have some good things to eat.

December 3, 2011

West African Vegetable Stew

It's getting colder and we're spending more time inside.  The electric company is threatening to raise the bill 16% so I'm trying to be a little more aware of our usage.  Keeping the thermostat down, I'm wearing a sweatshirt vest in the house and when I want to get warm, a little romp on the elliptical device turns the heat up.  Our granddaughter was working that thing hard and I asked what she was doing.  She told me she was turning the heater on.  Apparently grandpa told her that's how we turn the heater on.  I just smiled and asked her if she could fee the heat coming on.  That's how we do it.

Another way to warm the insides is with a good, warm pot of vegetable stew simmering on the stove-top.  I noticed some yams on the table and remembered a recipe I had for African Vegetable Stew.  It's a very easy meal that only takes about 45 minutes from start to finish, 15 minutes prep time and about 30 minutes cook time, if you use canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans).  I cooked some up the night before.

West African Vegetable Stew

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sweet potatoes (about 1½ pounds), peeled and cut in half lengthwise and sliced
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped (1½ cups)
10 oz vegetable stock
½ cup water
½ teaspoon each of: ground cinnamon and crushed red pepper
½ cup raisins
4 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves
1 can (about 15 ounces) chickpeas (garbanzo beans_, rinsed and drained
Hot cooked rice, quinoa,  or couscous (optional)

1.  Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium  heat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are tender.

2.  Add the potatoes and tomato.  cook and stir for 5 minutes.

3.  Stir the broth, water, cinnamon, red pepper and raisins into the saucepan.  Heat to a boil.  Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

4.  Stir in the spinach and chickpeas.  Cook until hot.  Serve over rice, quinoa, or couscous, if desired.

November 27, 2011

Holiday Crafts at Grandma's House

We squeezed in a little holiday fun together too this weekend.

Winter Crafts ~ Warm Hats

One of the big reasons I haven't been to the PC to catch up on the blog is because I've picked up a crochet hook.  The garden work is over for the season and I usually pick up some crafts to work over the winter.  Sometimes it's yarn, sometimes glass, or sometimes the scrap books.  I was clearing off some piles in the house recently and ran across a page with four hat patterns I've saved to crochet sometime.  I grabbed some cotton yarn and started crocheting.  I like this pattern, got hooked right away.  (hooked, hee hee)  It took awhile to get it right on the top, but I knew I wasn't getting it right away.  Instead of ripping out my work, I just repeated the same stitches which created a pattern of their own. I fell in love with the little hats and been gifting them right away as it's getting cold here and a warm gift is always welcome. I bought a stash of cotton and hemp yarn hoping to turn it all into cute hats to help keep my friends warm this winter.

Kaylee Does Farm to Table

Kaylee came over to play yesterday.  I recently downloaded an electronic cookbook for kids, Monkey Mike's Raw Food Kitchen, an Un-Cookbook for kids.  I printed out one for her house and one to plat with at our house.  It's a cute little cookbook with activities and games. It's good for a nice reading practice book too. I found a couple cute and easy recipes we could try together: Dracula's Carrot Salad with Count Your Blessings Salad Dressing and Hunky-Dory Almond Hummus.  She told me on the way to my house she had asked for gluten free treats at the school Holiday party and the librarian told her she bring some hummus.  Kaylee said she was excited about that because she had never tried hummus.  So, we made some together.  She liked it.  Even though there aren't many spices in it, she did say it was a little too spicy by itself.  Mixed with some crunch celery, carrots, and cucumber, she liked it just fine.  I warmed some pumpkin polenta and 13 bean stew I made in the morning and served it with our salad and hummus.  I was pleased she ate a two servings of the salad and hummus.  She liked the stew and pumpkin polenta, but enjoyed the salad more.  Fine with me, the salad, raw veggies, and hummus make for a complete meal.

One of the best parts of the day was when I reviewed the ingredients and realized I had all except some fresh beets.  I do still have some beets growing out in the garden so we had a little "Farm to Table" exercise.  Out to the garden we went to gather some beets.  There were some more treats out there too.  We came home with some chard, a small red cabbage, and a nice big fennel too.

 She's still a bit too small to use a chef's knife, but not too small to use a food processor.  Kaylee read all the ingredients and instructions aloud to me.  I explained what I was doing and what tools I was using when paring and pealing the vegetables.  She ran the processor and helped toss the salad arrange it all for dinner. 

The Dracula salad is a version of a beet and carrot salad I already make regularly in the summer.  I like this recipe, the addition of almonds and raisins makes for a variety of textures.

Dracula's Carrot Salad

1 beet
3 carrots
2 green onions
12 almonds
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

Count Your Blessings Salad Dressing

Juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons macadamia nut oil, (we used hazelnut oil)
2 teaspoons almond butter
Teensy pinch Celtic sea salt

Hunky-Dory Almond Hummus

1 ½ cups almonds soaked in 1 ½ cups filtered water for four hours or more
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup water
Big pinch Celtic sea salt

A Plant Based Thanksgiving

Grateful to have my son at home, my granddaughter close by, and no travel plans this Thanksgiving holiday, I settled in for a four day weekend at home.  I shopped last weekend for the cooking items I might need this weekend besides our fresh produce so that I could stay at home if I wanted or the weather demanded all weekend.

We haven't had a family Thanksgiving at home in a few years.  We used to travel all day to fetch our granddaughter for the weekend, but her family moved back to our area and I am loving it. Funny, I had to reassure my son that we only tried the Tofurky once about six years ago and won't repeat it again.  I enjoyed the flavor of the Tofurky and all the roasted vegetables, but the texture has much to be desired.  It is a good transition food for new plant based eaters on the holidays and many vegans who went to a friend's or relatives probably found it on the table, but it's really a processed food item and I do feel like I'm eating deli lunch meat.  It's the first thing people mention when I tell them we are having a plant based Thanksgiving dinner.

What did we have? Ooh, I tried a wonderful recipe by Mark Reinfeld, Link to recipe: Mediterranean Pistachio Crusted Tofu with Saffron Quinoa Pilaf  It recently won Vegan Recipe of the Year by  I had already practiced a version of this in Mark's two day vegan cooking workshop and knew it would be tasty and easy.  The whole meal only takes a little over an hour from start to finish. The quinoa was easy and colorful and the Mediterranean vegetable salad brightened the whole plate. I thought I'd give it a try for our Thanksgiving meal.  I added some fresh cranberry sauce with some frozen strawberries added for extra sweetness. I doubled the recipe for some planned leftovers.  It was great for lunch today.  I was especially pleased when I saw my son, who is still a bit leery about our plant based lifestyle, go to the refrigerator and heat up a plate for a meal today.

Marinating Tofu Cutlets
Pistachio Crusted Tofu Cutlets on Fresh Baby Spinach

Mediterranean Vegetable Salad

Saffron Quinoa Pilaf

Apricot Almond Pie & Four Ingredient Pumpkin Pie

November 19, 2011

Four Ingredient Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Way behind on posting, I've been neglecting my blog.  I have been busy in the kitchen, as usual, but a lot of the meals I've been making have been repeats.  Although there are a few I want to share, many of the meals I've been making have become staples like the vegan mac & cheese or flax crackers.  It's been pretty handy having the recipes I like or create posted somewhere so I can look them up again.  So many meals in the past I've not been able to repeat very well because I didn't write down what I did.

I've had a great four day holiday weekend complete with some cookie baking with my son, cooking and crafts with my granddaughter, and some great meals at the dining room table.  Thanksgiving has been a week long celebration here beginning with a Vegan Compassionate Thanksgiving last weekend with the NW Veg folks in Portland, OR.  Three hundred and forty people gathered for a holiday vegan meal.  We met some new friends and shared some hugs with familiar friends.  There were so many wonderful dishes.  We walked around the tables looking at them and taking some photos as guests arrived.  I could tell there was no way I was going to taste everything I'd like to.  I am also really glad we got some photos of the ingredient cards as well as the food.  I can recreate some of the ones I like and some of the ones I didn't get to try.
I brought the pumpkin pies I've been making this fall and winter. I found a pretty easy pumpkin pie recipe. It contains only four ingredients that bakes up like the traditional pumpkin pie people are used to.  It's firm, but creamy when you slide it in your mouth with the cashew coconut creme.  They disappeared pretty quickly.  I took home two clean pie plates. I made it with a gluten free oat flour crust for Thanksgiving and my granddaughter loved it.

Four Ingredient Pumpkin Pie

vegan, makes one pie

1 1/4 cups raw soaked cashews
1 cup maple syrup
1 can organic pumpkin puree (16 ounces) (or use fresh puree)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

optional: 1/2 tsp salt to taste (depends how much salt you soaked your cashews in)

ingredients notes: using high quality spice is helpful. Also, I prefer grade B maple syrup for its rich amber tones and caramelized flavor - but grade A works too.

One standard vegan pie crust - or make your own using my instructions in this post. Also reference my crust-making how-to video here.

To Make:

1. Soak about one cup of raw cashews in about 2 1/2 cups of water in a large bowl. Add about 1/2 - 1 tsp of salt to the bowl - mix to dissolve. The salt allows the water to absorb more efficiently into the cashews and also adds some salt for your recipe. Note: you may want to soak more cashews than needed and make two pies - or use in other recipes.

2. Soak this cashew bowl for two hours. You want well-soaked cashews so that your pie mix blends up perfectly creamy.

3. The day of your actual pie making allow at least 3 hours from the time you start to the time you wish to serve the pie. I like a cool time of at least 2 hours.

4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

5. Drain the water from your cashews. They should be very soft to bite and a slight purplish dark hue. This is normal. Add 1 1/4 cups of cashews to your food processor - or even better, or high speed blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec.

6. Add pumpkin to blender. Next, add in the maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Blend on low -> high for about 3-5 minutes until the mixture is completely creamy. If your mixture is a bit thick for some reason - you can add in a few teaspoons of either water, maple syrup or even non-dairy milk. After blending, do a taste test and add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt if needed. I added in about 1/3 tsp extra salt. But taste before adding.

7. Pour your mix into a par-baked vegan pie shell (I toast my raw pie shell in the 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes). You can buy a frozen crust or make your own per instructions linked in recipe above.

8. Bake pie at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Then reduce to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes - or until the edges look fluffy and a darker caramel orange tone. Use a toothpick in center if unsure. The tooth-picked filling should come out slightly wet - but very thick and dark. It is important to remember that your pie will firm up significantly upon cooling and chilling in the fridge.

9. Remove pie from oven. Cool on counter for at least 30 minutes. Then place in fridge until ready to serve. At least 2 hours cooling and/or chilling time is my preference. A warm pie will be tasty, but still a bit "wet" to slice.

10. I serve chilled with a swirl of my vegan coconut whip on top!!

October 30, 2011

Raw Buckwheat Pancakes

Friday night I put some pancakes in the dehydrator.  Yep, eight hour pancakes.  They were worth it.  Not much work involved in the batter and very few ingredients.  Waking up to the smell of apples and cinnamon was quite nice Saturday morning.  These whole grain pancakes were very filling, I only ate one, but my son enjoyed four.  They are a great source of protein and fiber.  A serving of two provides 4 g protein and 6 g fiber. Paired with some fresh fruit, it's a great way to start the day.  I took some of the strawberries I had frozen in June and warmed them with a little pure maple syrup for a nice warm fruit topping.

Raw Pancakes
     A recipe from Vegan Fusion
            The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw, pg 196

1 cup red apples, seeds removed, and chopped
8 dates, pitted, and soaked at least 30 minutes
1/4 cup date soak water
1/2 cup agave nectar (I used coconut nectar)
1 TB vanilla extract
1 tsp. lime zest
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 TB golden flax seeds, ground
Pinch sea salt
1 cup buckwheat groats, ground (I grind them in a little coffee grinder I have specifically for grinding food)
1/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened (optional)

1.  In a food processor fitted with an S blade, or a blender, place apples, dates, soak water, agave nectar, vanilla extract, lime zest, cinnamon, flax seeds, and salt.  Blend on high speed for 15 to 20 seconds or until a chunky batter forms.

2.  Transfer to a bowl, and combine with buckwheat and coconut until well incorporated.

3.  Scoop onto Teflex-lined deyhydrator sheets to desired sizes.  They'll flatten out a little, so make them about 1/2 inch thick to start.

4.  Dehydrate at 110ºF for 6- 8 hours.  Keep an eye on them, you don't want the outsides to be too dry.  Pushing down on them will tell you if the insides are still mushy, which is ideal.

Serve hot off the trays, topped with maple syrup or a flavored agave nectar, if you want.  Pancakes will keep in an air-tight container for 3 to 5 days.

October 29, 2011

One More Day to Vote ~ Help me win the Blendtec Blender

I wrote this blog post last month, Kitchen Tips for Raw Foods, for a blog competition.  The prize is a Blendtec Blender. It's sponsored by the Raw Food Divas and can be found at Tera Warner.  Who's Tera Waner?

From her own profile on the website:

"Tera Warner is the frisky founder of the world's largest online resource of raw food cleansing and detoxification programs for women. Through her programs and events she invites a community of over 100,000 women around the world to pick up their parsley sprigs, and march, dance, sing, jump or fly along path to vibrant living.

She's not got a string of acronyms after her name and fancy credentials, so don't bother looking for them. She's a monkey-lovin' mama doing her best to remind you that your self-worth is not measure by the size of your thighs or the width of your hips, but by the breadth of your dreams and the depth of your love."

"Tera spent most of her days in university studying monkeys, and now she's simply trying to teach the world to eat like one."

The blog was to introduce three kitchen tips aimed at helping someone new to raw foods organize their kitchen and simplify the transition to raw foods.  Before I jumped in to vegan and raw cooking, I used to take meat out to thaw for dinner, now I soak beans, nuts, and dried fruits in preparation for our meals.  Since so many of our meals depend on the dehydrator now, planning ahead is very important. There's a few things that took awhile to get the hang of.  I sure would have liked some hints when I got started.

I'm pretty exited about to making it to the top four finalists.  Now, it's left up to the readers to vote.  I sure would appreciate your vote.  There's only about 24 hours left, the voting ends on Oct. 30 at 11:59 p.m, Eastern time.  If you have a few minutes, please go to this website and cast your vote. Just follow the link below and follow the voting instructions. It's pretty simple and only takes a couple minutes after reading the blog posts. They're all awesome posts and there's some pretty great kitchen tips.  I'd love to win the Blendtec Blender so I can use it in my adventures teaching others to cook great raw and vegan food.  Thank you!

My Gram's Mac & Cheese Vegan Style

When I was a child, Sunday dinner was always an event at my grandma's house.  She roasted a chicken every Sunday and with it came her tomato base mac & cheese.  It was a simple dish, elbow macaroni, salt, pepper, tomato juice, and cheddar cheese.  Whenever I've gone to visit one of my brother's and sister, it's either on the menu or at least talked about.  I'm not sure if it's really that great a dish or the warm memories of grandma make it so special.  Probably a little of both. Tonight I veganized it and it came out pretty good.  I managed to capture the same flavors and texture without the dairy products or the canned tomato juice she used.

I took a quart of my own canned tomatoes, about a cup of filtered water, and a handful of nutritional yeast and blended into a thick juice.  I had a lot of little green peppers from our trip to the garden today so I sliced them and sautéed them with some fresh onion and garlic in a little grape seed oil.  I also took out about a half cup of the dried Shitake mushrooms and marinated them in a little Tamari and filtered water to soften. I  cooked whole wheat pasta shells mixed them with the sauce, the vegetable mixture and some Daiya cheddar cheese.  Baked it at 400º for about 35 minutes until the sauce was bubbling.

Good warm vegan comfort food on a cold fall night.

October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting ~ Vegan

This was definitely a big hit at the potluck this weekend.  There wasn't much evidence that a cake had been on that platter when we were cleaning up.  It's a flavorful cake with a dash of cayenne.  I was excited to see how cayenne in a sweet cake would work out, love it! The frosting is fun and really good.  The cashew creme I usually make doesn't hold up it's shape like this one did.  This frosting allows me some time to work with it before it softens too much.  But, this frosting does have quite a bit of sugar.  I'll probably make this cake a couple of times this fall and winter.  I think I'll stick to a dusting of powdered sugar and make this frosting for special occasions  At least occasions where we'll have help eating it.

This is another great recipe from the VegNews 2011 Food Issue, the featured recipe on the cover.  I made two cakes, one a week ago to test the recipe for the potluck.  I just dusted the first one with a little organic powdered sugar and it was great.  Frosting is nice, but it isn't necessary.  This cake is moist and sweet enough by itself.

I didn't make many changes.  I used sucanot for the sugars and any non dairy milk and creamer can be substituted.  I think I used almond milk and coconut milk creamer.  I used fresh pumpkin, pecans instead of walnuts, and coconut cream whipped with a tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice instead of the vegan sour cream called for in the frosting recipe.  I did use the vegan cream cheese, margarine, and shortening.  I thought that was already overdoing it on the processed vegan ingredients, so I didn't want to add any more if I could help it.  The amount of sugar in the frosting is pretty scary too. This frosting recipe will be great for events I want an impressive looking dessert, that's for sure.

Pumpkin Spice Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
     Kathy Patasky, Healthy Happy Life

Makes one 9-inch cake

For the Cake:

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup brown sugar
 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup non dairy milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons egg replacer
3 tablespoons water
2 1/4 cups shredded carrots

For the frosting:

8 ounces vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened
1/2 cup vegan shortening, softened
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons soymilk or soy creamer
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350º, and grease two 9-inch round cake pans.  For the cake, in a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne.  Add brown sugar, sugar, pumpkin, maple syrup, soy milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, and vinegar, and mix well.

In a small bowl, combine egg replacer and water, then add to the cake batter.  Fold in carrots and walnuts, and pour batter into prepared cake pans.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until edges start to lightly brown.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients with a hand or counter-top mixer until smooth and creamy.  Place in refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes before frosting cake.  When cake and frosting are chilled, frost cake, garnish with freshly shredded carrots, and serve.

Thanks for sharing your recipe Kathy Patalsky!  I think I'll be making this a few times before the year is out and checking out your other recipes.

October 22, 2011

LV Community Vegan/Vegetarian Potluck October

Last night was the sixth Community Vegan/Vegetarian potluck in Longview and I think it was one of the nicest.  We had about the same amount of people, thirty or so, made some new friends and ate some great vegan and vegetarian food.  We didn't have very many vegetarian dishes this time or the last. It seems the potluck is going in a vegan direction all by itself.  There were lots of gluten free dishes including cookies, pumpkin scones, and brownies.  I made two batches of the popular vegan mac & cheese one with brown rice noodles and the other with quinoa noodles. I omitted the bread crumbs for gluten free mac & cheese.

All the cooks put on an impressive buffet.  Among the wonderful dishes we had were:  Black eyed pea salad with a homemade dressing, steamed cauliflower with onions, fresh frozen peas, and a sauce made with veganaise and mustard, French green lentil stew, Turkish garbanzo bean salad, a harvest grain salad, a fresh fruit bowl, spinach salad, tofu adobo, a cactus and black bean salad, a pitcher of fresh berry smoothie, and lots more.  The desserts were plentiful, all vegan, and most were gluten free:  Pumpkin spice carrot cake with cream "cheese" frosting, raw cashew chocolate, coconut fudge, Gluten free pumpkin scones, gluten free chocolate brownies, and Gluten free vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  What fun it was trying all the different dishes.  I was thinking that it was such a joy that everyone made something wonderful themselves and it was obvious that they put care into it.  I remember hosting potlucks for another organization years ago and I was usually disappointed when the store deli fried chicken and pre-made macaroni and potato salads showed up. 
Many of our guests are new to plant based eating and it's such a treat to see the joy on someone's face when they discover the many things they "can" eat that they didn't think they could before.  The gluten free folks, for example.  I know many women who are gluten intolerant or avoid it for pain issues and didn't think they'd ever get to eat baked goods again.

Our guest speaker didn't appear, but that didn't hamper our fun at all.  It was a rainy night and there may have been bad traffic.  I was told by Jill from NW Veg when I was thinking about this potluck that sometimes that happens there is no speaker, so they've often just gone around the room and introduced themselves and talked about why they are there.  So, after a lively dinner filled with the conversations about the new and interesting foods we were eating, I talked a little bit about why I suggested we start this potluck and opened up the room for questions, comments, or success and/or failure stories. We had a great discussion.  There was some sharing from a couple people about how eating a plant based diet has changed their health for the better.  There were questions about diabetes and other diseases from people who's doctors have suggested they try a plant based diet to improve their health.  It was a warm, interesting, conversation between us all.  We all got to know each other a little bit better too.   As it turned out, no one missed our speaker at all.  I've had a couple emails and phone calls today from attendees who wanted to tell me what a good time it was and that the discussion was very good.  Each one of them told me they learned something last night.  YES!  That's why I started this potluck.  Smiles and JOY!  I am hoping we can all learn more together.

Thanks everyone for your culinary efforts and for showing up!  Our next potluck will be in January, probably around the third week on a Friday night again.  I'll let you know the date.  I think I am going to round up some equipment and show Forks Over Knives after dinner.

October 17, 2011

Chile Potato Wraps

Made some fun wraps Sunday morning.  Another of the great recipes in the VegNews food issue.  this one is by Terry Hope Romero.  She's got a nice blog called Vegan Latina. This  is an "Indian Burrito" . The blend of spices and potatoes with the hot chiles and roasted cashews had a party in my mouth.  That's how my granddaughter says it anyway.  They were a nice surprise.  It's a pretty easy recipe, but took a little more time than I liked.  I made the mashed potatoes the night before, but since I was making the wraps, or parantha, I probably should have prepped more of the vegetables the night before too.  The article says these are great made ahead of time and wrapped for lunches or snacking.  I guess I'd have to make a big batch if I did that.  I doubled this recipe and the three of us took good care of making sure there was no evidence of these meal besides the pictures we took.

 The wraps are called "parantha" which is an Indian flat bread.  I do get some kind of pleasure when I make our own tortillas or wraps.  I  giggle every time because they are so easy, yet not too many of us make our own.  I always wonder why I don't make them more often at first, but then when I'm rolling that last one out, I know why.  They do take some work.

I had most all the ingredients on hand. The vegetables all came from the garden. The only thing I was lacking was the fresh cilantro. I have some dried from the garden, but this looked like I should have the nice fresh green leaves so that was worth a quick trip to the grocery for me.  I used whole wheat pastry flour and organic unbleached whole wheat all purpose flour.

Chile Potato Wraps
        Terry Hope Romero

Makes 4 large rolls

For the parantha:

1 1/4 cup chapati (atta) flour or 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour plus 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour.
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm water
3    tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
       Additional flour for dusting.

For the Filling:

3 tablepoons vegetable oil, divided
2 to 3 small hot green chiles (jalapeños or serranos), deseeded and finely chopped.
1/2 cup mined red onion
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 pound potatoes, peeled, cubed, boiled until soft, and mashed
1/4 cup chopped roasted cashews
1 medium tomato, seeds removed and diced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1.  For the paratha, in a bowl, mix together flour and salt. Pour in warm water and mix with your fingers to form a soft dough—if too dry, dribble in extra warm water 1 tablespoon at a time; if too wet, sprinkle in a little extra flour.  Knead the dough until smooth, divide into 4 balls, and set aside.  Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the bow.  Return the dough balls to bowl, roll on the bottom to coat with oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside in a warm place to rest for at least 30 minutes wile you prepare the filling.

2.  For the filling, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil.  Sauté chiles and onion until soft and remove from pan onto a dish.  Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and mustard seeds, and once mustard seeds begin to pop, stir in cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne.

3.  Return onion mixture to pan and stir in potatoes, cashews, tomato, lime juice, and salt.  Reduce heat to low, and fold potatoes to completely incorporate spices, vegetables, and nuts.  Taste mixture and adjust seasonings as desired, then fold in cilantro.  Turn off heat.

4.  While the potato mixture is still warm, perpeare the paratha.  Lightly dust work surface with flour and roll a ball of dough into a very thin circle about 9 inches wide.  Brush with remaining oil.

5.  On a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, cook bread on each side until bubbles begin to form in the dough and edges appear dry.  Flip only once; dark marks on the paratha are desirable.  Wrap hot paratha in a large clean dish towel to keep soft and warm.

6.  Scoop the filling into the wrap, roll it up, and enjoy.