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.