July 30, 2011

Raw Teriyaki Noodles

I have posted these before, but it's been awhile.  Made this with the first zucchini of the year.  I'm always amazed at the taste and texture of the fresh picked vegetables each year.  The zucchini is juicy and buttery. We came in from the garden late and we were hungry.  This dish took me all of fifteen minutes to prepare.

Raw Teriyaki Noodles

3 TB Cold pressed vegetable oil, (pumpkin seed, avocado, hemp, extra virgin olive oil)
2 TB White wine
2 tsp Tamari
2 TB Miso
2 TB Raw agave
1 TB Fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup Sesame seeds
3 - 5  Medium zucchini (about 5 - 6 cups zucchini) Depends on what you call a "medium" zucchini
2 Red Bell Peppers seeded and small diced

In a small bowl whisk together, the oil, wine, tamari, miso, agave, and ginger until well-blended.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of Sesame seeds.

Using a Japanese spiralizer or vegetable peeler, make fettuccine-style noodles.  In large bowl add noodles and red bell pepper, pour on dressing, and toss gently.  Sprinkle on remaining 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and serve.

July 29, 2011

Vegan Apricot Muffins with Walnuts & Cashews

Someone shared a nice vegan muffin recipe on Facebook the other day I thought I'd try with the nice apricots I have canned.  I changed so much in the original recipe, it's now an entirely new recipe.  I didn't have self rising flour, but that's easily remedied with a little extra baking powder.  Amazingly, I am out of almonds, that rarely happens, so I used some raw cashews and walnuts, roasted slightly in a dry sautée pan on the stovetop.  I used safflower oil, hemp milk and apricot preserves I made with last year's fresh apricots.

That's how I make most things. I grab a recipe using the ingredients I have on-hand, fruit in season, etc., and use it as a guide.  These muffins came out so light and fluffy a friend of mine at work said they were 'Betty Crocker' fluffy.

The orginal recipe I used was Almond & Peach Muffins from a blog called "Parsley Soup"

My version of this recipe: 

Apricot Muffins with Walnuts & Cashews

2 cups Whole wheat pastry flour
1 TB plus 1 tsp Baking powder
3/4 cup Turbinado sugar
1/2 cup Ground cashews
4 oz Sunflower oil
1 cup non dairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 pint apricot preserves (I used agave and agar to make my preserves last year)
Pan roasted chopped cashews and walnuts to decorate
Apricot preserves to glaze

1.  Sift flour, baking powder into large mixing bowl.

2.  Stir in the turbinado sugar and ground cashews.

3.  Whisk the vegetable oil, non dairy milk, and vanilla in a smaller bowl and pour into the flour mixture.

4. Quickly stir in the peach preserves reserving some for the glaze.  The total stirring should take less than 30 seonces and it's fine it it's really lumpy.  Muffin dough doesn't like to be mixed too much.

5.  Pour the mixture into muffin cups and sprinkle the roasted nuts on top.

6.  Bake at 400º for about 20 minutes or until risen and cooked through.  Give it the toothpick test.  If it comes out clean, they are done.

7.  Heat the apricot preserves slightly and spread on top of the hot muffins with a pastry brush.  I put a little of the apricot bits on top too.

Enjoy with a glass of non-dairy mile.  YUM!

These received great reviews with everyone who tried them.

Isabelle & Molly

The girls are finally out in the garden. Isabelle has a new dress this year she has a friend named Molly.


Thanks so much to my husband who thinks they are very bazaar and silly, but helps me put them out anyway. They may not scare the birds, but they do cause smiles.  In a few weeks, Isabelle will be shaded by tall sunflowers.  Molly is keeping an eye on the corn stalks.

July 27, 2011

Eggplant Bacon

Eggplant bacon? Or is it eggplant jerky?  You can call it either.  When it's made with the common large eggplant the strips do resemble bacon as in my previous post . I think it satisfies that sweet salty taste we like in bacon without all the nasty health risks that come with eating real bacon.

Recently I got some locally grown eggplants which are a little more the size of softballs than eggplants we see most often.

I think this batch should be called Canadian bacon.

Someone asked me for the recipe the other day and I found it difficult to get to the site of my favorite eggplant bacon recipe.  It's been down a couple times so I thought I'd better get the recipe posted before I lose it.  I've got it pretty much memorized, but I do have a few recipes in my head, too easy to forget something.

I found this recipe on a site called: Raw & Simple, It's from the Every Day Raw cookbook by Matthew Kenney.  It's very simple and the "bacon" is a big hit with just about everyone who tries it.

 Eggplant Bacon
      Every Day Raw, page 58

    1 large eggplant, thinly sliced
    1 tablespoon sea salt
    1/2 dried chipotle chile, soaked at least 2 hours
    1/2 cup soaking water from the chipotle peppers
    2 tablespoons maple syrup
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons nama shoyu
    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    1/2 teaspoon cumin
    pinch black pepper
    pinch cayenne


To make the thin sheets of eggplant I used a mandolin or peeler. The mandolin is great at getting them sliced at an equal size, but sliced in 1/4" thick slices will work just fine too.  I tried it with a peeler, but they were just too thin for me.

Once you have sliced your eggplant, sprinkle it with the sea salt and allow to sit for 1-2 hours. 
Layer your eggplant sheets between paper or cloth tea towels and press out excess moisture.

In the mean time, blend the other ingredients in the liquid container of your Vita-Mix.

Submerge the squeezed eggplant in the marinade. I put them in a baggie and purged as much air as possible (as I would with any marinade). Marinate 30-45 minutes.

Carefully lay out the eggplant sheets onto your dehydrator trays and dehydrate until crispy (24 – 48 hours).


July 23, 2011

Garden Update July

Can you find the bee?

Things have been going along a little slow due to our lack of sunshine in the NW.  We have had some sunshine breaks, but not lasting longer than a couple of days.  The spinach and lettuce plants went to seed very quickly.  But now, we're going out just to weed, thin, and water.  The garden is moving along nicely.  I'm harvesting something every time we go out there now.  Last night I harvested about 30 heads of garlic.  There are three or four varieties of garlic in the garden.  Some of which are elephant garlic.  I am anxious to pull up some of those this weekend.

How do you know when it's time to harvest garlic?  The bottom leaves will begin to turn brown.  Gently dig one up and slice it in half.  If the cloves have filled out, it's ready.  Don't leave it in too long or the cloves will begin to burst out of the skins making them unstorable and open to disease.  They can still be used, but not stored. I planted them in October.  I planted about 60 or more garlic cloves.  I'm looking forward to making some garlic braids. I am so impressed at how one small clove of garlic becomes such a lovely large head over the winter. But then again, the whole garden thing and the production of live food in the dirt from the little bitty seeds fascinates me. 

Last week we also took home about a dozen artichokes, an armload of onions, three nice zucchini, a couple large bowls of peas, stevia, lettuce, a kohlrabi, and of course more herbs to dry:  oregano, thyme, two kinds of mint, basil, and rosemary.  The potatoes are nice and healthy.  Curious, I have three different kinds of potatoes but the bushy leaves all look the same.  It will be interesting to see if the flowers are different colors.

The plan, this weekend, is to get our beautiful scarecrow, Isabelle up in the garden.  This year she gets a friend too, Holly, as she has been named by my granddaughter.

Today we do have a beautiful summer morning.  I'm headed out for a brisk walk, then back home to can and freeze some local organic cherries and apricots.  I have 15 pounds of cherries and about 20 pounds of nice apricots. I already have some eggplant bacon in the dehydrator and a couple trays of the nice Washington apricots.  I'll dry a few pounds of the cherries too.  Sun or no sun, I love this time of year!

Tofu Piccata

I came across this recipe by way of a Facebook post from a vegetarian page,  I had some super firm tofu I needed to use.  I was introduced to the super firm tofu at the Vegan Fusion workshop I attended a couple weeks ago.  It's very nice as it can be made into cutlets and and is very easy to work with. I made some coconut crusted tofu cutlets and took some to work the other day.   One of my co-workers who tried it said it reminded her of chicken.  It's that dense.

The recipe called for linguine pasta, but I used zucchini instead. The first one from our garden this year. I made noodles with my spiralizer and marinated them in a little olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt.  I warmed them in the dehydrator just before serving.  I just happened to have some capers. My friend, Felicia, purchased a couple jars on sale and gave one to me. Thanks Felicia. I didn't have any parsley, but I did flavor the sauce with fresh thyme.  That prompted me to plant a few more parsley plants in the garden.  I shouldn't be out of any herb. We steamed some of the artichokes we picked Monday.  A very nice, somewhat homegrown, vegan meal. 

Tofu Piccata

4 to 6 ounces linguine pasta (I used raw marinated zucchini noodles)
10 ounces extra firm tofu (super firm tofu worked really well)
Sea salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons vegan margarine, divided
1/4 cup white wine
Juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
2 tablespoons capers
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1.  Press the tofu between paper towels for 10 minutes to remove excess liquid.  Cut into four 1/8" slices.  Salt and pepper each side.  Dredge in the flour.

2.  Cook Linguine according to directions.  Or, use zucchini noodles marinated in olive oil and lemon juice for about 20 minutes.

3.  Heat a pan to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon vegan margarine.  Add the tofu slices and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden.  Remove from the pan.

4.  De-glaze the pan with the white wine.  Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the capers, stirring to remove any cooked-on bits from the pan.  Remove from the heat.  Add half of the parsley and remaining 1 tablespoon vegan butter, stirring until melted.

5.  Top the linguine with the tofu and drizzle the sauce over.  Sprinkle the remaining parsley over and around the plate.  Enjoy!

July 22, 2011

Spicy Vegan Nachos

I've been getting more and more into raw foods lately and having a blast trying out the interesting recipes I'm finding.  I bought a better dehydrator and I think we've had it running almost 24/7 since it arrived.  I've recently been playing with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw and the first thing I looked for was the spicy nachos.  They serve a version of these at the Blossoming Lotus in Portland, OR.  They came out great.  I took them to work and some to Christy & Les at the local produce store.  They were a big hit.  I am amazed at how wonderful the cheese dip is made with butternut squash.  Thinned out a little, I can serve this as a creamy cheesy soup when the squash are plentiful. That should be very soon.

Spicy Nachos
     Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw

1/2 Medium jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed.
2 Medium garlic cloves
2 1/2 cups tomatoes, roughly chopped
6 TB freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 TB ground cumin
1 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup walnuts, soaked at least 2 hours
1 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked at least 2 hours
1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked at least 2 hours
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup fresh ground flax or flax meal

1.  In blender, add jalapeño, garlic, tomatoes, lime juice, onion, cumin, cayenne, and salt.  Blend on high speed for 20 seconds or until mixture is liquified.  Move to the bowl of a food processor.

2. Add walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds to the food processor, and blend on high for 30 to 60 seconds until a smooth batter forms (small chunks are okay).

3.  Add flax and process 15 or 20 more seconds.

4.  Spread 2  cups batter per Teflex sheet, being careful to make it as even as possible with no holes.  Score before placing in the dehydrator. Dehydrate at 110º for 24 hours. Flip sheets over onto the mesh screens and remove Teflex.  With wetter side up, continue dehyudrating for another 24 hours.

5. Cut each sheet into 4 quarters.  Cut each quarter into 8 triangles by first cutting 2 big triangles and then cutting these into 2 and those 4 into 2.

Enjoy with Nacho Cheese Dip.

Nacho Cheese Dip

1 cup cashews, soaked at least 2 hours
1 medium red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, and chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium Anaheim pepper, ribs and seeds removed, and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 TB freshly squeezed lime juice
1 TB olive oil
2 TB nutritional yeast
1 TB nama shoyu or tamari
6 TB filtered water
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne, or to taste

1.  Rinse and drain cashews well.

2.  Ina blender blend red bell pepper, Anaheim pepper, butternut squash, lime juice, olive oil, nutritional yeast, shoyu, water, garlic, salt, and cayenne on high speed for 20 to 30 seconds or until smooth.  (It may be a little warm right out of the blender.  To firm it up, place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.)

July 20, 2011

Vegan Fusion Workshop

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a two day Vegan Fusion workshop with Mark Reinfeld, co-author of one of my favorite vegan cookbooks, Vegan World Fusion Cuisine.  I've been using this cookbook for about six years now and was delighted to learn from the creator of these recipes.  I met quite a few very nice people.  My friend Vickie came along so we rode to Portland together and talked about what we learned all the way home. It was a fun and worthwhile weekend.  She's a bit new to vegan cooking and it was fun to see her get excited about all the wonderful vegan choices available.

I haven't been writing this blog very long, but you could probably search Vegan World Fusion in my blog and find quite a few dishes I've made using the recipes either in whole or as a part of a meal.  One of the best points I thought he made during the class:  He teaches his students to find base recipes for soups, sauces, and desserts and add or substitute ingredients to get the desired taste you want. I've often done that as I usually start my cooking by going to the farmer's market and the produce store and let the available ingredients decide what we are eating. I look for ideas online and many times substitute an ingredient for something I have on hand.

Mark is a delightful teacher, patient, and knowledgeable.  He's got a great attitude about cooking, "There are no mistakes in the kitchen." he says.  "If you don't have the ingredient, substitute."  "If you happen to cook the rice a little too long, it's toasted now."  "If you think it's not the way you want it to be, adjust something." That's the way I cook everything. I look forward to learning more from him.  I am going to take the ten day class online and, hopefully, next year get around to taking his three day class to become a certified vegan cooking instructor. I'd love to share what I know with others.  I think this way of eating is not only easy, once you get the hang of it, it's colorful as well as tasty. 

One of the great things I've learned about vegan cooking is that many of the dishes are raw, prepared using a food processor or blender, and usually contain few ingredients making them quick and easy to prepare.  I've learned a lot about pre-preparation of my ingredients and have been cooking this way long enough, I can find a nice recipe and have most the ingredients to prepare it.  During the weekend we were able to prepare and eat all of this:

Day 1
Sun-Dried Tomato Flax Crackers witjh Cashew Cheese
Raw Carrot Ginger Soup
Coconut spinach Rice
Macadamia Nut Crusted Tofu with Golden Gravy
Organic Mixed Greens with Toasted Pecan Vinaigrette
Chocolate Dream Pie

Day 2
Mushrooms Stuffed with Spinach Paté
Creamy Broccoli Bisque
Raw Pesto Pasta Puttanesca
Coconut Curry Tempeh over Quino Pilaf
Raw Chocolate Mousse with Macadamia Cream

Mark is in Europe now teaching classes and gathering ideas to finish his "Taste of Europe" vegan cookbook soon to be published.  He has also written The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw.  I've recently been playing with this book and it's full of very easy and tasty recipes complete with nutritional information for each one.  I've already made a few things, only having the book about two weeks.  One of my favorites so far has been the Raw Nachos with Nacho Cheese Dip.  It's very close to the nachos served at the Blossoming Lotus in Portland, also created with the help of Mr. Reinfeld.  If you're in Portland, Oregon, check it out sometime.  You won't be disappointed.

July 17, 2011

Rainbow Gathering 2011

The Stoves & Ovens of Rainbow

The Rainbow Gathering was in our backyard this year.  It was held in a meadow way up in the Gifford Pinchot national forest, about 60 miles from home. It's little piece of home I had forgotten about.  When Scott & I first became sweeties in La Honda, CA, he rented a room from our friend Marilyn.  I lived across the street at Blaine's with my very young son Bob.  It was almost as if we lived together in two houses. Marilyn was an original Rainbow.  She was part of the Brew Ha Ha tea room and she was always ready to show pictures and movies of the gathering, something she would not miss each year.  I'd see her VW bus headed out of town right before the fourth of July headed to the gathering, camping and kitchen supplies packed on top. I remember her showing us home movies and sharing the photo album she kept on her kitchen counter.  I saw that photo album at the gathering this year. I looked through the photos once again and said hello to her as I thumbed through pictures of her in her vibrant tie dye with her huge smile. She wasn't there physically this year as she passed on a few years ago from cancer, I know her spirit was there. It was an extra special experience to be able to drink tea at the Brew Ha-Ha and attend a meeting there. The Brew Ha-Ha held three meetings a day, open to all in recovery. The weather was good to us, even with a little snow on the ground, it was a warm 80º weekend.

Just above the Brew Ha-Ha was the Musical Veggie Café.  I knew I'd be volunteering at one of the kitchens while we were there, this looked like the perfect place.  The folks I worked with were great. It was a grand Sunday in the sunshine preparing lunch while musicians played their songs and the folks around the fire circle sang camp songs, many were folk songs from the sixties. We made rice noodles with a cashew sauce, a very lively coleslaw, and a nice miso soup for about 150 colorful campers.

The kitchens at this event were amazing.  I kept saying I was on a Rainbow food crawl.  I was so impressed at the stoves and ovens created out of mud and rock.  We ate some pretty incredible meals wandering around the meadow all weekend.  Fresh bread was baked and served to thousands. There was curried rice, fresh vegetarian sushi rolls, fettuccine Alfredo, the best oatmeal and pancakes I've ever eaten camping, and much more. One of the kitchens baked fresh bread every day for the dinner circle at the main meadow. The kitchen at "Kid Village" was huge.  I saw them feed probably over a thousand people in one meal.  That kitchen was so under the trees, it was too dark to get a good photo, but it was something.  They were preparing cinnamon rolls for the morning meal.  Bread was cooling on racks made from small branches and twigs.  Another kitchen served just coffee, and good coffee it was.  When each round of coffee was prepared, it only lasted seconds. We waited in front of the tent while they were grinding and brewing.  The crowd gathered as if we were waiting for a band to come out and play.

The fourth of July was very special, the big event of the gathering.  The entire camp was very quiet as most observed the four hour silence in the morning, broken by children's parade, and followed by a very spiritual blessing and an immense prayer circle all around the meadow. We prayed for peace and ended by all singing John Lennon's Give Peace a Chance. It was a very moving experience on that warm Monday morning.

I wondered throughout the weekend why we'd not attended before.  My husband had gone to one in 1984, right before we got together. It's always during the week fourth of July in a different national park and in my profession, it's pretty hard to get that week off for vacation.  I am very glad they held it so close to us this year and the way the fourth fell on the calender this year, we were able to take a four day weekend.  We had a great time, met lots of great brothers and sisters from all parts of the country, and hope we can attend another sometime. Blessings come in many forms.

July 10, 2011

Summer is Here!

The last two weeks seem like I've been in continual motion.  Summer is here, and I've been taking full advantage of it. Our vegan/vegetarian potluck was June 26 and another success.  We had about 25 people and the sun showed up so we were able to sit outside and visit.  The musicians who contacted me didn't show up, but it was not a problem.  We had a great time getting to know each other and sharing what we prepared with each other.  We had some door prizes this time and my husband made some great flower arrangements with flowers from our yard. Our next potluck is August 21 and my friend John has agreed to play  music for us.  He has his own original folksy-blues kind of music, it should be very enjoyable.

Right after that, we held a bake sale at work for our Relay for Life team and baked for three days. I made about 12 dozen vegan cookies, spelt foccacia bread, and some chocolate beet cake. Donna, Tracy, & Michele were also busy in their kitchens, we filled two long tables with goodies and I think we raised a little over $200 for our team. My favorite was Michele's chai muffins with pistachios.

The very next weekend was the fourth of July and we played with the hippies up at the Rainbow Gathering.  That was an enjoyable experience, it involved a bit more hiking than I was ready for.  If we ever decide to go backpacking, I might have to start working out a bit more before we get going and definitely pack less.  I am so glad we made it, much of it did feel just like home.  I had so many memories of our friends and family in La Honda, especially the ones that are no longer with us. I volunteered at a vegan kitchen on "Serenity Ridge".  It was a beautiful spot with a lot of friendly people, musicians playing their guitars, drums, and singing camp songs.  The weather was great, a bit cold at night, but the sun came out for all three days we were up there.  It was just like being a kid at summer camp.

Last week we were blessed with a reunion with old friends. Tony & Catherine were visiting Oregon from Virginia to support their niece who is walking the Oregon Coast for charity.  We spent Thursday afternoon walking around Portland and had dinner at the Blossoming Lotus, in Portland, and in my opinion one of  the best vegan restaurants in Portland.  The last time we saw them was about 22 or 23 years ago when we met in Yosemite for some camping and hiking.I've known Tony and Catherine since I was about 22, we've had some crazy times together.  Cathy & I were reminiscing about a weekend, long ago, we traveled from LA to Las Vegas in the back of our Chevy Luv truck. Yes, we went all the way on a small mattress in the back of the truck and had a great time.  Can't imagine doing that now. I remember our 'truck lag' lasting all weekend.  Standing still felt like we were still moving.

The garden is growing well and I'm beginning to find treasures every time we go out.  Last week I harvested kale, spinach, garlic scapes, a couple artichokes, and lettuce.  Garlic scapes are the curly flower top that shoots out of the hard necked garlic.  I cut them off to give more energy and nutrients to the garlic head growing below the ground. The garlic scapes are great sautéed and can be stored and used for flavoring future dishes. I've rough chopped them and placed them in the dehydrator.  Woo who, the house is filled with the smell of garlic, so strong, I wonder if the neighbors can smell it. I'll grind some into a powder when they are completely dry to use in raw marinara sauces and other goodies I make this year. Our artichokes are coming in strong this year.  I've already plucked a nice big one to try.

This weekend I'm attending a 2 day Vegan Fusion workshop taught by the co-author of my most favorite vegan cookbooks,  Vegan World Fusion Cuisine, Mark Reinfeld.  I'll be sure to post about the fun I had there.