February 23, 2011

Vegan Comfort Food ~ Au Gratin Potatoes

Snow day, well almost.  We're getting ready for a cold couple of days. It's supposed to snow and then freeze for a couple of days.  The temperature is going to be below 20º.  The snow has started, but it isn't quite sticking at our level yet, it will soon, they say.  It's been coming down strong for about an hour now.

It's very quiet at work, most of our operations are outdoors and it's not safe to drive the roads or work the equipment in this weather, so they shut down.  End of the month and most the financial puzzles have been discussed for January, so my area is pretty slow.  I enjoy these times as next week, we'll be back to crunching the numbers for month end and wondering how I could ever have a slow moment.

The snow will make life pretty and white everywhere for a couple days and cause a lot of problems for some.  This little town is not as equipped to handle snow & ice like they are in the east.  I remember a snowstorm at my sister's in Bloomington, Illinois.  Less than 20 minutes after the snow stopped, I saw a virtual army of snow plows and equipment come out to clear the roads. Not in our little town.  It snows like this here about once or twice a year.  I get to be in my warm, cozy house, watching the snow come down from the inside. I'm sure I'll find plenty to do at home, I do like it here. I have a nice kitchen to play in and there are seedlings to get started.

This winter I've sure had some fun  veganizing many of the comfort foods I grew up with.  The other day I made a double batch of the creamy vegan cheese sauce for the Mac & Cheese we like so much.  I mixed half of it with a fresh salsa and used it in the Sweet Potato Quesadillas.  The other half I tried using sliced potatoes and onion.  I lightly greased a casserole pan with coconut oil and alternated layers of sliced potatoes and onions with the cheese sauce.  I made a crumb topping with 1 cup organic panko bread crumbs tossed with about 2 TB melted vegan margarine.  Sprinkled the bread crumbs on top and baked it at 375º for about an hour until golden brown.

Vegan AuGratin Potatoes


The Sauce:
from VegNews  Mac & Cheese by Allison Rivers Samson

* 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, I use Healthy Balance organic
* 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

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.

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.


Ah, the beauty of living in Washington. "If you don't like the weather, hang around 15 minutes, it will change." I began this post and it was gray with soft white snowflakes floating down everywhere.  By the time I was ready to post this, the sun was shining.  Donna says that means it's getting colder, we'll see how the storm blows.

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