January 31, 2011

Wild Rice and Pecan Pancakes

While sitting in the waiting room of the jail in St. Helens, of all places, there was a Bon Appetit magazine.  I picked it up and started looking at the recipes. I noticed a recipe that looked really good for wild rice pancakes.  What was I thinking?  I went to the window and knocked on the bullet proof glass and asked the receptionist if she would copy it for me.  To my surprise, she did it. I slid it through the little bank drawer you use to give them your ID.  She sent it back with a copy of the page for me.

The recipe is really called Buttermilk Wild Rice Pancakes, but I took out the buttermilk and egg. Although the recipe said they make a great accompaniment to any meat.  I found them a very good main course.

Buttermilk Wild Rice Pancakes

3 cups water
2/3 cup wild rice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour (I used WW pastry flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup oat milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
1 egg or egg replacer for a vegan pancake
1 tablespoon whipping cream (I used coconut milk creamer)
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
11/2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon olive oil

Combine 3 cups water, 2/3 cup wild rice and 1 teaspoon salt in medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until wild rice is tender, about 40 minutes.  Drain well.  cool to room temperature. I made it the night before.

Mix sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground black pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl.  Whisk buttermilk, egg and 1 tablespoon whipping cream in small bowl to blend.  Add to four mixture and stir until well blended.  Mix in cooked wild rice, chopped pecans, and finely chopped shallot.

Cooking in heated olive oil as you would regular pancakes, until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side.

We enjoyed them with the roasted roots I made this weekend.

January 30, 2011

Da Kine No-Bake Chocolate Cookies ~ Vegan

This is an EZ no-bake recipe for Chocolate Cookies from The Vegan World Fuisine Cuisine cookbook, one of my most favorite vegan cookbooks.   They are full of chewy good things like chocolate, pecans, raisins, and coconut.

Da Kine No Bake Chocolate Cookies

2 C Chocolate or Carob chips, vegan
1/2 C Raisins
1/4 C Pecans or macadamia nuts, toasted
1/2 C Coconut flakes, toasted
1/4 C Almond or peanut butter
2 TB Maple Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla extract, alcohol free
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of Cardamom powder

Place chocolate chips in double boiler on medium high heat until chips are melted, stirring frequently.  Place in a large bowl.  Set aside 1/4 C of the toasted coconut to sprinkle on top of cookies.  Add remaining ingredients to the melted chocolate and mix well.  Shape cookies and place on a parchment paper lined or well oiled baking sheet.  Top with remaining 1/4 C coconut.  Refrigerate until cool.

Not much cooking involved here.

Whole Spelt Berries with Grilled Butternut Squash

I wanted to make something with wheat berries this weekend and I had a nice butternut squash on the kitchen table that I thought would be nice to use.  This is what I came up with. 

Spelt Berries with Grilled Butternut Squash, Pineapple, & Water Chestnuts

I soaked about a cup and a half of whole spelt berries overnight.  I then sauteed a chopped onion in olive oil, sea salt, ground pepper, and ginger until tender. I added the berries and let them brown a little bit. Then I added three cups water and simmered until tender, about 45 minutes.  While that was cooking I chopped and grilled a butternut squash until it was browned and tender in about a tablespoon of coconut oil. I added that to the undrained spelt berries, with some chopped green onions, chopped fresh pineapple, a small can of sliced water chestnuts I had in the cupboard, and a handful of Italian parsley. I made it when I got up this morning and it made a very good warm late breakfast.  My husband said the fresh pineapple would appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth.

January 28, 2011

The Garden Song



Garden Song

Written by: Karisha Longaker, MaMuse

On this bright and healthy morning
I wanna sing my song
Let it be sung
And as I let it fly out into the world
Let it be known
I hear the music in all things today
The dance is on

I lay down on the ground
In the garden,
let the earth
Crawl up into my clothes
Stared up at the sky and we fell together
We really are so close
He whispers hello, hello, hello
And the dance is on

All the world is conspiring for me
The dance, the dance
Everything everywhere nourishes my growth
The dance is on
Let it be known
I can hear the music in all things
Today it's on
This one's for me

The bees are buzzing for me
The dance, the dance
Even the distant train is calling my name
The breeze is orchestrating
a complicated ballet
Between the leaves
The dance is on
This one's for me

All the world is conspiring for me
The dance, the dance
Everything everywhere nourishes my growth
The dance is on
Let it be known
I can hear the music in all things
Today it's on
This one's for me

The spiders are making rainbows
Between collard greens and the sun
There's a hummingbird calling
Up in his tree
I can hear his wings from way over hear
They beat for me
This one's for me

January 27, 2011

Perfect Love

Perfect love sometimes does not come until grandchildren are born.
Welsh Proverb

January Sunshine

Took advantage of the sunshine yesterday and walked out to the garden.  Looks like the garlic is happy and many of the herbs made it through the winter. Just about time to get some seedlings started. Woo Who!

Herb Hill: Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Rosemary



"I have an existential map, it has 'You Are Here' written all over it"
     ~Steven Wright

January 26, 2011

Chickpea Burgers & Smashed Potatoes

This was pretty easy to whip up with the leftover chickpeas.  I used some black bean flour to make a gravy.  They tasted a lot better than they look in this picture. 

Chickpea Burgers

11/2 cups sunflower seeds ground to a fine meal
4 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and smashed
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce
wheat germ or dry bread or cracker crumbs

Combine ground seeds and chickpeas in food processor with onion and soy sauce.  If mixture is too soft to hold shape, add some wheat germ or bread crumbs. Fore into patties using 1/2 cup mixture.

They can be baked at 350 for about 20 minutes or broiled for about 5-8 minutes.  I cooked them on a griddle until browned on each side and then simmered them in a little black bean gravy for a few.

African Stew - Vegan

I made a spanikopita for the potluck and I use chickpeas in that recipe. I cooked up a whole pound, so I had some left over beans to use. I made some veggie burgers with them and some African stew.

African Stew

From Becoming Vegetarian,
by Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD

4 cups vegetable stock or water
1 onion, chopped
2 cups peeled, diced yams or sweet potatoes
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
1 cup brown rice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups chopped collards or kale
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos
chili sauce to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of the stock in a large pot. Add the onion and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, adding more stock if necessary. Add the remaining stock, yams, chickpeas, rice, and salt; simmer for 45 minutes. In a small bowl, blend the peanut butter with 1/2 cup of liquid from the stew to make a smooth paste. Stir into the stew along with the collards and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, pepper, and tamari; add chili sauce to taste.

Then and Now

I get to go back in time this weekend with some other 'children under 60'. Going to go see Al Stewart.

I saw this tour in the Bay Area in 1977, I think in San Fransisco. I probably thought the piano player was pretty hot. :0)

This is what we'll see this weekend, What FUN!

Love the acoustic version.

January 23, 2011

The Vegan/Vegetarian Potluck was a Success!

Our first vegan/vegetarian potluck in Longview was a delightful experience.  We cleaned up the store and put out some tables, lit some candles, and put out some wonderful food.  Thirty five people showed up with a nice variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes. I didn't taste anything I didn't like and I saw many people going back to the buffet tables more than twice. 

I may have missed some, but of the wonderful dishes to choose from for dinner was:

Lentil Salad
Cauliflower & Raisin Crustini
Vegan Mac and Cheese
Spinach Quiche with green & red peppers and cheddar cheese
Vegetarian Pizza
Roasted new potatoes with cheddar cheese, yellow bells, olive oil, butter, and balsamic vinegar
Vegan Taco Soup with crunchy toppings like tortilla ribbons and roasted sunflower seeds
Butternut squash and white bean stew with almonds, chickpeas, potatoes, raisins, and spices
Crock Cheese made with tofu and white miso
Raw Kale Salad with Root Veggies
Green salad with romaine, green leaf lettuce, spinach, almonds, and pureed plums
Vegan Cornbread
Asian Pasta and Greens salad
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Sweat Meat Squash Muffins
Peanut Butter Celery Logs
Chocolate Beet Cake muffins with Raspberry Icing
Hibiscus Lemon Cheesecake (I have some of that to munch on today, Thanks Morgaine  :D)

Thanks to my friends for all your help.  Rachel put together a beautiful flier, Michele used her fantastic scrap-booking skills to make us some table signs, Christy, Lester, Rhonda, & I turned that little produce store into a dining room for the evening, and everyone prepared something great for the dinner. I do believe the potluck was very successful. Everyone I've heard from enjoyed themselves and are interested in doing it again.  Peter gave a great talk with a lot of information in a very short time. I was toast yesterday, but I don't think the next one will be as much work. Next time, I'll have a little more help with the arranging. I think having one monthly might be too much, but every two or three months might work.  We'll see. Christy and Les at Payton's enjoyed it and are up for doing it again.

January 17, 2011

Romaine Boats with Cauliflower Mash

The salad: julienne cucumber, kohlrabi, carrots, lightly sauteed mushrooms, and avocado slices tossed with raspberry balsamic vinegar. 

The hummus is called Cauliflower Mash.
     Another recipe from the Veg News,  Jan/Feb 2010 issue.

2 1/2 cups raw cashews
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons barley miso, or any light miso
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups cauliflower chopped into small florets
1/3 cup water

In the food processor, process cashews and salt into a fine powder.  Add miso, lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, and cauliflower, and pulse to combine. With the motor running, add water in a thin stream until mixture begins to take on a smooth, whipped texture. 

Tepary Beans & Zucchini Orzo

One of my holiday gifts this year was a basket of heirloom beans. This weekend I cooked up the Tepary beans. Tepary Beans are a little larger than a lentil, but plump up like a bean.  I just made a simple bean pot. Sauteed garlic, onions, chopped red bell pepper, simmered in low sodium vegetable broth.  I think I threw in some thyme, basil, a couple tablespoons raspberry balsamic vinegar, and a tablespoon of pumpkin honey.

The Orzo is a variation of a recipe in a book I've been reading this year, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. There are recipes at the end of many chapters and lots of good gardening and food preserving information in it.  There's even a whole day planned out canning chutney, barbecue sauce, relish, and tomato sauce.  The directions even tell you to invite a friend for that day.  Heads up Morgaine.  The chutney and relish recipes look good. I was looking for a recipe I'd tried last summer and came across this easy Zucchini and orzo.  I've had half a box of orzo sitting on my counter looking for a home for about a month.

They talk about the end of the summer when the gardens are overflowing with zucchini. People who don't ordinarily lock their doors make sure they are locked because someone might drop off a bag of vegetables it they don't.  That didn't happen this year in our area, hope it's better this year. They have lots of recipes to hide the zucchini so the family doesn't know how much they are eating. This my version of one called "Disappearing Zucchini Orzo". 

Prepare 8 oz. Orzo
1 chopped red onion
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves chopped garlic, or to taste
2 large zucchini, grated (I used a couple very large yellow zucchini)
2 large carrots, grated
Olive oil for saute
1/4 cup vegan cheddar cheese
1/4 cup vegan mozzarella cheese

Saute zucchini, pepper, and carrots briefly with chopped onion and garlic until lightly golden.  Add spices to zucchini mixtue, stir thoroughly and remove from heat.  Combine with cheese and cooked orzo, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or cold.

January 16, 2011

Strawberries, Rhubarb, & Sago

I played with some of the strawberries I put up last spring/summer this weekend. I made this strawberry rhubarb tapioca pudding and some strawberry ice cream. (Ice cream post to come later.)

Strawberries, Rhubarb, and Sago (Tapioca Seed)

I thawed some rhubarb sauce I made this summer and froze and layered it with some cooked Sago. I lightly cooked sliced rhubarb, an Orange, and a couple tablespoons of Agave down to a nice sauce and put some in the freezer last summer. I also thawed out a few strawberries

I found an easy vegan recipe for Rhubarb and Sago from a blog called "Cook Almost Anything" and used my rhubarb sauce.

Coconut Sago
½ cup sago (seed tapioca)
1 cup coconut cream
1½ cups water
½ cup sugar (I used sucanat)

Place the sago, coconut cream, water and sugar into a small saucepan and cook over a medium heat. Be careful not to let the mixture boil and make sure you stir this often so the sago cooks evenly.

The sago will swell and the mixture will become quiet sticky as the starch is released. Once the sago has become translucent, it will be cooked and remove it from the heat.

Layer the pudding and the Rhubarb sauce and chill for a little while.  The pudding gets thicker as it cools, it doesn't take too long to set.  This can be eaten warm or chilled.

Fruited Quinoa & Sugar Free Apricot Muffins

Cherry Vanilla Quinoa

We usually have a smoothie during the week for breakfast, but on the weekend I like to do something different.  I found a nice recipe for quinoa and apricots, cooked in non dairy milk with raisins and vanilla.  I used dried cranberries and the apricots I canned last summer.  The quinoa is kind of special because I grew it in the garden, homegrown quinoa.  We failed to take a picture of it, but I'll post the recipe because it's very easy and it came out very good.  It was raining pretty hard this morning and a warm breakfast was very welcome.

Fruited Breakfast Quinoa

Makes about 6 1/2-cup servings

Quinoa is a highly nutritious grain that was a staple in the diet of the ancient Incas. It has a delicious flavor and a light, fluffy texture.

1/2 cup dry quinoa, well-rinsed
1 1/2 cups vanilla rice milk
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 cup chopped fresh or canned apricots
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine quinoa and rice milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer, then cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the quinoa is tender. Stir in cranberries, apricots, and vanilla, then transfer about 1 1/2 cups to a blender and purée. Return puréed mixture to the pan and stir to mix. Serve warm or chilled.

I opened two pints of apricots and drained them for the quinoa.  I was left with about a cup of apricots and quite a bit of good liquid from canning.  When I canned them, I only used  lemon juice and a little stevia. I made some sugar free muffins by substituting 1/2 teaspoon of liquid Stevia and about 1/2 cup of the apricot juice.

Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Apricot Muffins

Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Apricot Muffins

    * 2 cups whole wheat flour
    * 1/2 tsp Stevia and 1/2 cup apricot juice or water
    * 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    * 1/2 tsp baking soda
    * 1/4 tsp salt
    * 1 tsp ground ginger
    * 1 cup coconut milk
    * 3 tbsp sunflower oil
    * 1 TB ground flax seed and 3 TB water
    * 1 cup canned apricots


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a nonstick 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray, or line with paper cups.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, oil and egg.

Make a well in the flour mixture and add wet ingredients. Stir until just moist.

Scoop about 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup followed by a teaspoon of apricot preserves. Fill cups evenly with remaining batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden, then cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 regular or 24 small muffins.

January 15, 2011

Creamy Butternut Squash with Curry Soup

My husband picked up a couple medium butternut squash today.  I saw a pot of soup right away.  Such a warm creamy meal for a rainy day at home.  At first I thought I put a little too much ground pepper in the soup, but it gave it nice flavor.  It was just the right amount of spicy heat. It's Pretty simple.

Creamy Butternut Squash with Curry Soup

1 medium peeled and seeded a butternut squash and cut it into 2 x 2 chunks. 
3 carrots peeled and cut into large slices, about 2 inches long.
1 large onion, rough chopped,
about 4 cloves of garlic chopped,
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups filtered water
2-3 tsp curry, or to taste

I placed all of this in a large pot and brought to a boil.  Then, I lowered the heat and simmered until the vegetables were tender, about 15-20 minutes.  I scooped the vegetables out and placed them in the blender with 1 can of coconut milk.  Blended that all until smooth and then put it back in the pot with the broth. I stirred that all together until incorporated and then added about 2-3 teaspoons curry. I put some diced red bell pepper in the bottom of the bowl for some added flavor and crunch.

I made some hot water corn bread to go with it.  This is a recipe out of the 10th Anniversary issue of VegNews Magazine.  (One of my favorite sources for vegan ideas and recipes.)

Hot Water Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons agave
2 teaspoons olive oil

In a large bowl, mix together cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and flaxseed meal. To the dry mixture, add the boiling water.  Stir, without overmixing, and add coconut oil and agave. Heat a skillet or large wok, add a thin layer of olive oil to the skillet and spoon batter into the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes until brown.  Remove to paper towel to soak up any excess oil, and serve warm.

Four Alarm Vegan Chili

Looking through the posts this morning I realized I haven't posted my vegan chili here yet.  I may have, but I can't find it.  I have been making this chili recipe since 1980 when I first discovered vegetarian food could be wonderful. It was just published in The Flexitarian Cookbook, a benefit for Slow Food USA and Yoga Bear

This chili was pretty popular in the little town where we lived in the bay area, La Honda, California. I used to make it in mass quantities for the local annual Green Peace Festival and other events. I have won four chili cook offs with this recipe, the first one in the "most unusual" category, kind of like me, most unusual. It's not complicated and very colorful. It's vegetarian only because I added cheddar cheese as a garnish, but if you leave off the cheese it is a vegan recipe. It's a great source of protein and fiber as well as a good warmer on a cold day.

Vegan Chili

Vegetarian if you add cheese

Three medium onions, sliced in rings
Three Anaheim peppers, remove the seeds, slice thin
Three stalks of celery sliced thin
Two to three jalapeno peppers, depending how hot you like it, take out the seeds and slice thin
A 28 oz. can of tomatoes, diced, crushed, whole, your choice, I like the fire roasted tomatoes ( I used canned tomatoes from our garden.)
Four or five cloves of garlic, chopped, sliced, crushed, your choice
1 TBL crushed basil, (I dry basil in season and use a coffee grinder to crush the leaves)
One tablespoon Chipotle chili powder, regular chili powder is fine I have just grown to like the smoked Chipotle flavor
A dash of chili sauce, Tabasco sauce or your favorite flavor
One tablespoon apple cider vinegar
About a half teaspoon each of sea salt and pepper, or to taste
Water just enough to cover the beans

About six cups beans:

3 cups white beans, great northern or pinto beans,
3 cups black beans or kidney beans,

I am using dried beans soaked for about four or five hours, if you use canned beans, use three small cans of each color with the liquid in the can, decreasing the water you use Or, you could use six cups of one kind of bean, I like the different colors and textures myself.

3/4 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup raisins
2 TBL chopped parsley

Saute the onions, celery, and peppers until tender. Add the garlic, basil, chili powder, and salt and pepper and saute for a couple minutes more. Add the tomatoes, chili sauce and vinegar and cook for about three to five minutes. Add the beans and water and simmer on a low setting for about an hour, or until the beans are tender. If you are using canned beans, they are already cooked, so simmer for about thirty minutes instead. Add the cashews, parsley, and raisins and simmer until the cashews are tender, usually about 15-20 minutes. Garnish with some sliced green onions and grated cheddar cheese. Leave off the cheese and it's a vegan meal with no cholesterol.

Sometimes I have served it over a little Bulgar wheat in the bottom of the bowl. This adds a little more depth to the meal. I have also used a little beer in the liquid for an interesting flavor.

Everyone balks when they hear that this chili contains cashews and raisins, but they all like it when they try it. The cashews become like a sweet bean and add a nice flavor as well as some added plant protein and fiber.

Bob Weir w Kingfish - San Gregorio 1989

While looking around for sites this morning for my blog I found a video from a benefit concert behind the San Gregorio store in may 1989.  We were there. I made about 50 gallons of my vegetarian chili and ran a booth selling tie dyed shirts.  Shirts my friends and I stayed up many nights dying ourselves. Scott was somewhere in this crowd as were many of our close friends. Our Marty was just two and Bob was eight at the time.  He was climbing the hills on the outer edge of the field with the other children. We gave him a bright red tie dyed shirt so we could spot him from a distance.  It was a fun day. This was in May 1989.  It was our last summer in California.  We moved to the northwest in October which has been home ever since.

Vegetarian/Vegan Potluck in Longview

We're having the first of, I hope, a regular vegetarian/vegan potluck in Longview next Friday night. I've always incorporated vegetarian meals in our menus.  I've been interested and preparing vegetarian dishes since the early eighties.  I had two main dishes that I made that were big hits in our family, vegetarian chili and lasagna, . My chili recipe has just been published in The Flexitarian Cookbook.  I used to make it by the gallons for an annual Green Peace festival in San Gregorio, CA. As I progressed in my cooking experience, I wanted to make more healthy meals.  I was always a skinny thing growing up, but sometime in my thirties I began to take on some weight.  Most of the people in my maternal family suffer from obesity and the related diseases that go with it, specifically diabetes. My grandfather died of heart disease about the same age as I am now.  I believe it was directly related to his lifestyle and eating habits.  He owned a diner. I wanted to avoid that so I started studying more and more about plant based eating.  I started buying vegetarian cookbooks and experimenting regularly. Soon we got to the point where we were eating vegetarian most of the time, not just once or twice a week. Now, we eat vegan most of the time.

I love to cook, as anyone who reads this blog knows.  I couldn't continue making the same dishes over and over again.  This wasn't going to work.  I found NW Veg in Portland, Oregon about six years ago.  I saw an ad for a Veg Fest in Portland so I thought I would check it out.  It was their first one, I think. When I got there, I was so excited, there were tables of wonderful food, books, the authors of the books, Earth friendly ideas for home and health, CSA information, and much more.  There were over 40 vendors there with samples of vegetarian and vegan items I had seen in the market, but wasn't sure what to buy.  I had an opportunity to hear from the creator and co author of the Blossoming Lotus' cookbook, Vegan World Fusion Cuisine.  (Which is now my favorite vegan cookbook) I watched a vegan sausage cooking demonstration and promptly went home and recreated what I had learned.  Sometime after that I met Chef Al Chase and took his five day vegan culinary arts course.  I was so pleased when I got home.  Now I could not only understand what many of these vegetarian and vegan ingredients were, I could bake without butter, eggs, or milk.  I participated in the Master Vegetarian Program NW Veg put together a few years ago.  A ten week class complete with knowledgeable speakers and cooking demos. We even toured a permaculture farm in Portland and checked out a couple vegan restaurants during the class. The Veg Fest has now blossomed into a two day event held at the Portland convention center.  Check it out this year!

NW Veg has been sponsoring vegetarian and vegan potlucks in Portland for many years.  It's an opportunity for people to share their knowledge, ideas, and experiences along this plant based journey.  I've heard and seen some great speakers at their potlucks and other events. Another began in Vancouver, WA about three years ago.  I haven't been to but a couple because they are on Thursday's and Sundays.  Portland is about an hour drive from my home and Thursday and Sunday being 'school nights', I don't get out to them very much. I've decided it's time to try it in our own community.  I asked our local produce store if we could hold it there. What better way to enjoy our vegetarian and vegan experience than surrounded by fruits and vegetables.  Peter Spendelow, the president of NW Veg and an animal activist has volunteered to be our first speaker. He will discuss reasons change to a plant based diet, health, the environment, and the animals. I'm very pleased at the positive response I'm seeing in the community.  I think we're going to have a nice turnout.

So today I am off to the produce store to do some cleaning.  There's a little space in the back that was once a cafe.  I'm going to clean the kitchen so it's presentable next weekend.  I've rented some tables and chairs, I've ordered and printed out some literature from Vegan Outreach and the Physicians for Responsible Medicine website, I've had a lot of help from my friends, and I know what I'm cooking. I'm making spanikopita, a big batch of the VegNew signature Mac & Cheese, and some chocolate beet cupcakes.

So, come out to Payton's Produce in Longview, WA next Friday, January 21, at 7:00.  Bring a plant based dish, a card listing the ingredients, and your place setting.  You can come out for the potluck or just to hear Peter speak. You don't have to be a vegetarian or vegan. If you are interested in adding plant based food in your life, come find out What's For Dinner.

January 13, 2011

Garden 2011 Begins Soon

Today was my annual review at work. Well, I'm happy to say I got through another year still employed.  I didn't used to worry about annual reviews.  Last year I received some negative feedback or, I should say 'opportunities for improvement'. That's not happened before or not in many years.  So, I was mindful of it all year and really worked at improving my knowledge of my job and making somebody else's life a little easier while I am there.  I'm a very lucky person in that I really like what I do and the people I spend my days with.   But, due to the emotional stress I was under in 2009, I made some mistakes.  I wasn't surprised and I don't think my boss was either. My heart, mind, and hands were not often in the same place at the same time. Among some of the issues I faced was a broken ankle that kept me down for almost three months. One of my best friends died early in the year. Robert went to Afghanistan. He did make it home this last December.  Marty was arrested and is still sitting in a cell awaiting the outcome of his big mess.  It's been a full two years since the detective came to our house and took him away.  I managed to make it through this year with the same emotional roller coaster going on, but handled it much better. (In front of people anyway.)  Shew, that worry is over for a few. Things went well today.

The big news of the day is that I got my garden!  Yippee!!!  It's like having some sunshine come into the day.  It's time to get the greenhouse in order.  It just needs a little sweeping and organizing.  We've been keeping some avocados alive down there this winter.  Avocados don't generally grow in the Pacific Northwest.  We had some volunteers come up in the compost pile and scooped them up and put them in buckets and have kept them under the lights.  They're doing pretty well. We probably won't ever get any avocados, but we have some cool plants. I'll get some leeks, onions, and lettuces started very soon.  The lettuces can be grown indoors and the leeks and onions can be put right in the ground soon.  They have a better chance if I start them first though.  I'm very excited to get started.

This year I thought I'd try a Victory Garden Seed bucket from Territorial Seed.  It's kind of like ordering a big grab bag. I am not advertising for them, I am very pleased with my purchase.  I bought a few extra packets of herbs, Stevia, Red Noodle Pole Beans, and some cantaloupe.  But, for $79, it's a great deal.  It's got everything you could want to get a full garden going. I could stop here, but that's not likely.  I do have to shop at the farmer's market too for some plants. I can't wait to get to playing in the dirt! 

In the bucket I found seeds for:

  Bean, Dry/Shelling Pole-Bingo
  Bean, Green Bush-Venture
  Brussels Sprout-Falstaff
  Beet-Early Wonder Tall Top
  Cabbage-Danish Ballhead
  Corn-Golden Bantam
  Kale-Winter Red
  Kohlrabi-Superschmelz ~ My favorite one to say out loud. Try it a few times. :-)
  Leek-Giant Musselburgh
  Lettuce-Heirloom Blend
  Onion-Pacific Pearl
  Pea-Sugar Daddy
  Pepper, Sweet-Cal Wonder 300
  Pepper, Hot-Early Jalapeno
  Pumpkin-Small Sugar
  Turnip-Purple Top White Globe
  Spinach-Bloomsdale Savoy
  Swiss Chard-Rhubarb
  Squash, Summer-Black Beauty
  Squash, Winter-Bush Delicata
  Tomato-Gill’s All Purpose
  Herb, Chives
  Herb, Basil-Sweet
. Flower, Sunflower-Mammoth Gray Stripe

Gardening 2011 here we go.

January 9, 2011

Roasted Beets, Greens, Millet, and Pine Nuts

I roasted some beautiful fresh organic beets today.

Then I peeled and chopped them in large pieces,


tossed them with some lightly steamed greens, rainbow chard, spinach, and beet greens,

caramelized onions, garlic, and red bell pepper,

and some steamed millet.  Millet is a very similar to quinoa. They are difficult to tell apart when not labeled. The quinoa is on the left, the millet on the right of this photo. (I think)  :D

I tossed all this together with some fresh lemon juice, golden balsamic vinegar, pumpkin seed oil, chopped garlic, a tablespoon of red miso, a dollop of grainy mustard, and a dash of shoyu. (no measuring involved, sorry) I also roasted about a handful of pine nuts and added the seeds of half a large pomegranate that needed a home.

We can eat this warm or cold. This will be very good alongside some beans or as a full meal all by itself.

Warm, Creamy, Comforting, Mac & Cheeze

This is the Veg News signature recipe, Macaroni & Cheese .  It's been called the best mac & cheese on the planet.  It's pretty darn close, if it's not.  The cheese sauce is made with cashews and simmered vegetables.  This is really good.  I made some last night.  This is an easy recipe and I usually have most of the ingredients on hand. We we had such a busy day, it was late and we were tired. We ate a lot more than we should have. I wanted to have some of this for our meals this week, so I made another batch today.

Vegan Macaroni & Cheese
By Allison Rivers Samson

    * 4 quarts water
    * 1 tablespoon sea salt
    * 8 ounces macaroni
    * 4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
    * 2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
    * 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
    * 1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
    * 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
    * 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
    * 1 cup water
    * 1/4 cup raw cashews (soak the cashews in water for about an hour)
    * 2 teaspoons sea salt
    * 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
    * 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    * 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
    * 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    * 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
    * 1/4 teaspoon paprika

What You Do:

   1. In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

   2. In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.

   3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

   4. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.

   5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown. I sprinkled some dried sage on top after it came out of the oven

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

A friend, who has been getting to know more about plant based eating, put together a peanut butter pie. We communicate on another forum and sometimes she posts ideas for us to try. Here's my version of Peanut Butter Pie.  I used a coconut pecan crust, but you could use a flaky pie crust or a mixture of almonds, dates, and coconut since it's not a baked pie.  My husband chose the crust.  I asked him what he thought would be good and he wanted one of the nut-crusts. It's a very easy recipe with very few ingredients. 

Although mine is not gluten free, the crust recipe is from the Gluten Free Goddess Blog. The crust is from her gluten-free pumpkin pie with pralines.

First, make the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

1 cup flaked unsweetened organic coconut
1 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour blend (I used spelt flour)
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar (I used organic sucanat)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

Place all of the dry ingredients into a food processor bowl and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add in the vegan butter and pulse several times in short bursts until the crumbs are moist and begin to fall away from the sides of the bowl.

Dump the crumbs into the cake pan and spread them evenly. Using your fingers gently press the crumbs across the bottom and up the sides- about 2/3 of the way up.

Bake in the center of the oven for about 7 minutes- to set.

Remove the pan and set aside.

Then the pie. I found this very easy recipe for Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie:

    * 1 container tofu, silken or firm (approx 12 oz)
    * 1/2 cup chocolate chips (check the ingredients if you're vegan)
    * 1/2 cup freshly ground peanut butter
    * 2 tbsp non dairy milk
    * 1 pre-made pie crust


Melt the chocolate chips over low heat, stirring frequently to ensure the chocolate doesn't burn. You can use a double boiler if you have one.

Once the chocolate is melted, blend together the peanut butter, silken tofu, chocolate and soy milk in blender until smooth and creamy, adding a bit more soy milk if necessary. Pour into pie crust and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.

It set nicely.  Next time I will double the filling recipe, it didn't fill the 9" pie pan quite enough.  I added a top layer with some cashew coconut cream:  about a 1/3 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for an hour or more), 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar, the creme from a can of coconut milk, and the seeds from one vanilla bean blended until smooth and creamy.

I' guessing its probably a high calorie treat, but this is a whole grain, low sugar, high protein dessert.  The tofu and nuts give it healthy fats and protein.  I think I could eat a piece of this as lunch.

January 3, 2011

Vegetarian Pizza at Grandma's

Monday morning, January 3. Time to get back to work. It's been a nice couple of weeks. Work has been really quiet and this long weekend has been very relaxing. I am looking forward to being busy again though. It's only 5 a.m. and I have our smoothie ready and my lunch packed. Fruit, black eyed peas and greens, and piece of a spice cake I made with some sweet meat squash for lunch, easy.  I think I have enough time to tell you about how our pizza turned out.

When the kids arrived Saturday afternoon I had most of the pizza makings ready. The last time they were here, Eryk wasn't too thrilled with my choice of meal.  I think we had au gratin potatoes and broccoli.  Lots of kids don't like the idea of putting broccoli in their mouths, I get it.  I thought I'd make something more kid familiar for dinner. It worked, he liked our veggie pizza. It was fun making it together too.

We used fresh spinach, caramelized onions, roasted red bell pepper, sun dried tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, and some Gimme Lean meatless sausage that I cooked in a little garlic chili oil and added some sage. I made the sauce with home canned tomatoes from our garden and a can of tomato paste blended with some dried basil, oregano, and fresh garlic. For the cheese topping I used a combination of dairy free Almond cheese and organic mozzarella cheese.

Grandpa likes to be the dough maker and he was very entertaining while working.

 It has been a very cold weekend, getting the dough to rise was a challenge.  The crust seemed scary, but it turned out just fine.

Kaylee made her own pizza in a smaller pan after getting some help with the dough.  She chose a few less toppings than I did.  She liked the mushrooms, sausage, and tomatoes.

Kaylee's Pizza
The Tapioca was a hit after dinner too.  After dinner Kaylee said there was a party going on in her stomach. Eryk signed a "thank you" and an "I love you" during dessert. I interpreted that as success.

January 2, 2011

Sunrise Brunch ~ Vegan "Eggs" Benedict

We went up the hill to catch a sunrise this morning.  On the way back I thought it would be fun to go out to breakfast. It was only about 8:00 a.m. as we headed down toward home.  Then we got to thinking that there really isn't much around to get the kind of Sunday breakfast we'd want to eat.  We also had quite a few layers of clothes on this morning since we left the house before sunrise. It really wouldn't be comfortable in a warm place. I had seen a vegan eggs Benedict recipe before and it looked pretty good, so I thought I'd try that when we got home. We stopped by the store and grabbed some WW English muffins and some vegan kielbasa sausages.

I found a nice recipe that I used as a guide for the "egg" portion. I whisked together:  ¼ cup safflower oil and ¼ cup golden balsamic vinegar with ¼ tsp. sea salt and 1 tsp. tumeric, a dash of black pepper and poured that on tofu slices and baked them at 450° for 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes cooking time.

Then, I sliced the vegan kielbasa very thin and grilled that in a little avocado oil.  I poured about a tablespoon of troufle balsamic oil after they had browned a bit, creating a nice glaze. I picked up the troufle oil in a liquidation store.  Amazing what goodies you can find if you visit those stores once in awhile.

I made the hollandaise sauce with vegan margarine, a little flour, coconut milk, and non dairy milk. I let that simmer until it got thick then added the juice of a lemon and about ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper.

We decided we couldn't have had a better Sunday morning breakfast unless we drove to Portland.

January 1, 2011

This Grandma Makes Her Own Ice Cream

Babysitting the grandchildren this evening and I want some goodies around when they get here.  I picked up some chocolate mint soy milk the other day.  I don't usually purchase the flavored soy milk, but this was a good price and my husband and granddaughter like chocolate non dairy milks.  It didn't seem to be going very fast so I made ice cream with it. This time I did a very simple recipe with the chocolate soy milk in place of milk and coconut milk creamer in place of the cream. This can be made with any non dairy milk. 

I used a pretty simple mixture this time, it came out very chocolaty with a little hint of mint.

Vegan Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

1 cup sucanot
2/3 cup raw agave syrup
2/3 cup organic cocoa powder
1/4 cup WW pastry flour
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 cup choc mint soy milk
3 TB egg replacer with 1/2 cup water, whisked until foamy
1 TB vanilla extract
 3 cup choc mint soy milk
1 pint coconut milk creamer

In medium saucepan combine sucanot, agave, cocoa, flour and salt; stir in milk and egg replacer.  cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until mixture boils.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla, choc mint soy milk, and the coconut milk creamer.  Chill until cold and freeze in ice cream freezer for about 30 minutes.

Now, my granddaughter's brother, Eryk, and I are just getting to know each other.   He's physically challenged and doesn't speak or walk.  He does sign, so we are learning to communicate.  This is the second time I've gotten the chance to hang out with him.  He's from a different relationship, my former daughter in law's second son. He's four years old and this year is the first time we've really met.  That's another story for another time. I'm just grateful I get to play with him now. He doesn't like ice cream much I hear because he doesn't like very cold things.  He did cringe the last time he was here when I fed him some peach ice cream.  It took him awhile, but he did finally like it.  I decided to put together a pudding just in case the ice cream isn't a winner.

I made an old  fashioned tapioca pudding, with the tapioca pearls, not a pudding mix.  This is a vegetarian dessert as I did use non dairy milk, but I used the eggs this time.  I wanted a nice fluffy pudding and I didn't want to fool around with a failed experiment today.  I folded in some of the dark red cherries I canned this summer along with a handful of currants, some shredded coconut, and orange zest.  I also grated some cinnamon and nutmeg into the egg whites as they were being whipped into meringue.  I think he'll like it, we do.

Tapioca Pearls

Spiced Tapioca with Cherries and Coconut

I just roasted a red pepper and made some pizza crust.  Having a rough time with the rising in this weather.  Makes me wish for a gas stove so the pilot light would help keep things warm enough for a dough.  It rose some, it will just be a crispy crust.  Anyway, we're going to make homemade pizza together.  I thought the kids would like that.  I am caramelizing onions, sauteing some fresh mushrooms, grated some organic mozzarella cheese and some almond cheddar. I got some Gimme Lean meatless sausage I'm going to dress up with some of my own herbs.  We'll let you know later how that turns out.  Fun times, I love being a grandma!