December 23, 2012

November 24, 2012

Raw Strawberry Macadamia Pie with Chocolate Chia Crust

Making pie crust with the chocolate chia seed crackers was so intriguing to me, I quickly took some strawberries out of the freezer.  I had some macadamia nuts in the fridge just waiting for the right recipe. I don't buy them often but thought we could have a nice treat for Thanksgiving.  One of those items I love that are in the bulk section because I can buy a small amount.  This was not only a good recipe, but with dates for sweetener, bananas, fresh frozen strawberries, and raw nuts, it made a great breakfast too.  After all, the day after Thanksgiving, pie most often finds it's way to breakfast around here.  This pie isn't too far from what I'd put in the blender for a morning smoothie. 

The chocolate chia seed crackers are not crisp like a flax cracker.  They are firm, but have some pliability about them.  It was easy to mold them around a pie plate into a crust. You can use raw cashews in place of the Macadamia nuts.  I used regular dates found in any bulk section of the grocery store.  If you're using Med Jool dates, they tend to be a bit larger, I would decrease the dates to  seven or eight.  This is a very versatile recipe.  You can also replace the fruit with any fruit or berry you like.

Strawberry Macadamia Nut Creme Filling

3 cups frozen strawberries, thawed (two 10 packages)
2 medium bananas
12 dates, pitted
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 cup macadamia nuts

1 TB Agar powder
1 Cup boiling water

Place strawberries, bananas, dates, lemon zest, and nuts in a blender and blend for 20 to 30 seconds or until smooth and thick.  If you don't have a high speed blender like a Blendtec or VitaMix you can still make this pie.  Just soak your macadamia nuts for an hour and blend.  It will work, it just may take a little longer. 

Whisk the agar powder in the hot boiling water and stir until dissolved.  Add the agar to the blended berry mixture and blend for about 5 seconds.

Pour the whole mixture into the pie crust and chill until firm, about two hours.

I served mine with some strawberry sauce and a little rice whipped creme.  We really liked this dessert, it's light, sweet and tangy, and very refreshing.

This is a very easy Vegan Fusion recipe from the Vegan World Fusion Cuisine, my first vegan cookbook and the one that really got me excited about plant based cooking.

Simso's Strawberry Sauce

1 Cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
7 TB filtered water
1 TB Agave, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or sucanat
1 tsp Mirin
1/2 tsp Mint
Pinch Cardamom powder
Pinch Cinnamon Powder

Place strawberries and filtered water in a small saute pan and heat over  low heat until strawverries strt to break apart, approxmately 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well.

Chocolate Chia Crackers

I am so excited about this little recipe.   What a treat, chocolate crackers that are high in protein, iron, calcium, and omega 3s. In my opinion, they have a taste like an Oreo cookie. I couldn't believe it when I read the recipe over and realized it was dehydrated pudding.  I couldn't wait to see how they would turn out.  I liked them so much, I immediately made another batch. I took a bag of crackers over to share with Rachel and her first words were "This would be great for a pie crust." What an awesome idea.  For our Thanksgiving dessert I used them as a pie crust for a raw strawberry pie.  The crust was tender, but not so moist you didn't know it was crust.  The next time I make this recipe with the idea of using it as a crust, I'll make it a little thicker.

This recipe calls for making hazelnut milk to use in the mix, but you can substitute with cashews, almonds, or macadamia nuts or any non dairy milk.  I used some millet milk and almond milk in my second batch and it worked out just fine.  Organic cocoa powder works well if cacao powder isn't available.

Chocolate Chia Crackers
   Fills 2 Dehydrator trays

 - 1 cup chia seeds, depending on how thick you like your puddings
- ½ cup
raw cacao powder
- 3 T + ½ cup
agave nectar
- 1 cup raw hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, or macadamia nuts
- 1 ½ t pure vanilla extract
- 2 T raw
coconut oil
Celtic sea salt

- Blend the hazelnuts with 3 cups water and 3 T agave. Strain the liquid through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth to remove the fiber. (I don't strain if I use cashews or macadamia nuts)

Mix 2 cups of hazelnut milk with the chia seeds. Let stand, stirring occasionally.

- Blend the remaining 1 cup of hazelnut milk with the cacao powder, agave nectar, vanilla extract and coconut oil, along with a dash of sea salt. Mix in the soaked chia seeds, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

- Spread the pudding onto 2 lined dehydrator sheets, and dehydrate for about 4 hours, or until you can flip the crackers on a mesh tray. If desired, score the crackers into small pieces. Dehydrate overnight, and keep the crackers in a sealed bag in the fridge. They will stay fresh for a couple of weeks.

Here's a look at what I did with them for Thanksgiving.  The crust isn't quite even as I didn't plan on using them as a crust.  But, when Rachel mentioned it, it sounded so right.  Next time I'll not score the crackers and make it a little thicker for a raw pie crust.  The crackers softened a bit under the pie, but were still firm enough to slice like a crust.

 Raw Strawberry Macadamia Creme Pie with Chocolate Chia Cracker Crust

November 3, 2012

Vegan Chicken Pot Pie in Winter Squash ~ Vegan comfort food

These were pretty fun to make.  I had a hankering for some chicken pot pie, vegan style of course.  I also have quite a few little winter squash around, some acorn squash, small pumpkin squash, and the black futsu squash I picked up at the People's Coop Farmer's market.  I had a weird notion that they would make excellent crusts or bowls for my pot pies.  I roasted three of them about half way so they'd be easier to get into.  The futsu squash shell was about as tough as the acorn squash.  I cut them in half, filled them with the chiken pot pie mixture and covered them with a baking powder bisquit crust.  They were really nice, more filling than they look.  We enjoyed these for lunch and dinner a few days.

Vegan "Chicken" Pot Pie

    * 1 package super firm tofu, died in ½" cubes
    * 6 cups vegetable stock I used low sodium vegetable broth
    * 1 cup yellow onion, diced
    * 1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
    * 1 cup diced potatoes
    * 1 cup green peas
    * 3/4 tsp thyme, minced
    * 3/4 tsp sage, minced
    * 3/4 tsp sea salt
    * 3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
    * 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
    * 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
    * 2-4 tbsp olive oil
    * 3/4 cup flour
    * 3/4 cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance)
    * 1 puff pastry sheet rolled out to by 12x10 inches

Pre-heat oven to 375º.

Brown diced super firm tofu in a saute pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside. To make a roux, melt the vegan margarine in a saute pan, add flour and whisk constantly until light brown in color. Cool and set aside.

In a 5.5 qt. stock pot, cook onions in oil or water, adding 1-2 TB at a time to keep from sticking to the pan, for 3 minutes and add carrots, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add already boiling stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in nutritional yeast flakes.

Add the roux a bit at a time and continue to cook as sauce begins to thicken. Stir in "chicken" cubes, tamari and peas. Pour mixture into a large shallow pan to cool.

Once mixture is cool, pour into individual ramekins, glass pie pan or small casserole dish. Cover mixture with puff pastry (be sure to leave a small excess of pastry for folding and fluting of the edge) and seal edges. Cut small slits.


I used a simple baking powder bisquit recipe and rolled small crusts and gently placed over the top of the filled winter squash and baked until thouroughly heated and the crust was golden brown and crispy.

October 28, 2012

Planted Based Cooking Class #3 at Country Village

Another cooking class at Country Village Cafe went very well and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I heard quite a few other folks did too.  I had some great help from my friends in the kitchen and they all said they had a great time. Thanks to all who lent a hand, I am still learning how to navigate through all of this, and it's a lot easier with supportive friends and family. We fed more than 40 people plant based treats, including some grocery store customers who stopped by to view the activity in the cafe.  It's usually closed on Saturdays so the activity was a little curious.  Which reminds me, a few years ago I looked at the closed cafe one Saturday and told Patti I should try to run it on Saturdays.  I thought a breakfast or lunch special, not a full menu, might be fun.  Hmmm, there I was feeding a full cafe.  I loved it!

Country Village was also celebrating 35 years in business by hosting "Customer Appreciation Days".  We contributed by keeping a sample tray of plant based goodies filled throughout the day.

Twenty five students attended, some of them very new to plant based eating.  I did my best to get new tastes and textures introduced to the interested.  I cooked this time.  I just love my portable burners.  It's like a stovetop in my pocket.

This time the guests found cheezy kale chips, savory pepitos, and a crudite of brightly colored vegetables and papaya seed ranch on the tables waiting for them.  Yes, papaya seed ranch.  I learned something new also.  While out picking vegetables at Willow Grove Gardens, Ruth picked some purple caulflower and sprial broccoflower and put it in my box.  I know a lot of people might want to try these out of the ordinary vegetables so I picked up my Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw cookbook in search of a nice raw ranch dressing.  I found a papaya seed ranch, very easy, not many ingredients.  I never knew you could eat the papaya seeds.  I immediately cut one opened and ate a spoonful of the tender seeds.  Wow, they're great!  They have a flowery, yet spicy, taste.  Sort of like a nasturtiam flower.  I'll make more of this dressing, I loved it and so did the students.

We tasted:

Raw Creamy Broccoli Soup
Curried Winter Squash & Apple Soup
Fettuccini Alfredo
Forbidden Black Rice & Polenta Casserole
and Gluten Free and Oil Free Pumpkin Spice Cake

Enjoy the class, I know we did.  Country Village employees made a list of interested shoppers while we held the class.  Looks like I get to do another.

Vegan, Gluten, & Oil Free Pumpkin Spice Cake

It's about time I catch up on my blogging.  I've been so busy the last couple months and there are a few dishes I've made that I would like to be able to look up again and make.  September and October are busy, stressful months at work.  I am sure if you checked out a blog from this time last year, I probably mentioned the same thing.  My day job is pretty pleasant for the most part, but we do some pretty heavy number crunching in the fall preparing the plan for the next year.  I call it an accounting marathon.  I also had the great pleasure of heading up the kitchen at the VegFest in Portland, OR.  That took a bit of commitment too.  Things are settling back to the normal chaos, I'm coming up for air now, and have time to catch up on some great recipes.

I've been keeping my cooking classes not only plant based, but gluten free.  I am not gluten intolerant, that I know of, but I'm meeting more and more people who are.  I've been out with some friends who have celiacs disease and many times they can only have lettuce or raw carrots in a restaurant.  In all the presentations I attend and articles I read, it's a good idea for all of us to moderate our gluten intake.  It's not been difficult to make some great gluten free meals. 

This cake took some work because I also wanted to make it oil free. It took a few tries, but I managed to come up with a recipe that works every time.  My husband was a little disappointed I figured it out because it meant I wasn't going to make a cake every three days trying to get it right.  Here it is for you to try.  If you don't mind using wheat flour, just leave out the xanthum gum.

Here's one of my first attempts.  It was good, but still a little too moist in the middle for my tastes.

I went to so much trouble to make this cake healthy, I chose not to frost it at my cooking class.  I lightly sprinkled it with a mixture of organic powdered sugar and a dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I thought it was a bit dry for some so I added just a little dollop of some pre-made rice whipping cream and garnished with a couple nice dried cranberries.

Vegan & Gluten Free Pumpkin Cake

               By Debbie Kay

Two eight inch layers or one 9”x 11” baking pan, or 24 mini cupcakes
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce (1 large or two small apples with 2 TB filtered water puréed in high speed blender)
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon each cloves & ginger
  • 1&1/2 cups organic Sucanat, coconut sugar, or brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 egg replacements, (I like ENERG egg replacer for this cake, 1 TB egg replacer with 2 TB water = one egg replacer)
  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose flour
    Unbleached all purpose flour can be used, omit the Xanthum Gum
  • 1 teaspoon Xantham Gum
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
To make the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º
  2. Cream vegan margarine or applesauce with the sugar.
  3. Mix the powdered egg replacement with water as directed on the package.
  4. Add the liquid egg replacements to the creamed vegan margarine and brown sugar.
  5. Mix the pumpkin puree and vanilla to the creamed margarine mixture.
  6. Sift the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger and mix well.
  7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and blend well.
  8. Pour the batter into parchment lined baking pans.
  9. Bake for 55 min. to 1 hour. Test with toothpick, toothpick should come out clean
  10. Cool on a rack before removing from the pan for five minutes.
Sprinkle warm cake with mixture of organic powdered sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Or, frost with your favorite vegan frosting after completely cooling.

Here's a quick buttercream frosting if you prefer a frosted cake.  Add a tablespoon of lemon juice for a cream cheese taste.

Buttercream Frosting

1 cup softened Earth Balance or other vegan butter
1 cup palm oil shortening
3- 4 cups pound sifted organic powdered sugar
½ tsp Vanilla or seeds from ½ Vanilla bean

In the bowl of a standing mixer or food processor cream together the Earth Balance and the palm oil on medium to high speed until completely combined.  Turn the speed down to low and slowly add in the sifted powdered sugar one cup at a time, allowing it to blend thoroughly before adding more.  Add in the vanilla and continue to blend until the mixture looks creamy. 


September 30, 2012

Pine Nut Polenta with Cherry Sauce - Another Way to Get Your Grains

In preparation for the big VegFest weekend, I purchased a cookbook by each chef I'd be working with so I could have them ready to sign for my collection.  I didn't get Robin Asbell's cookbook in time so I purchased one at the VegFest which she graciously signed for me.  I bought The Big Vegan at the festival and her Sweet & Easy Vegan just came in the mail yesterday. I opened the book and chose the first recipe I saw:  Pine Nut Polenta with Cherry Sauce.  A warm whole grain treat made with coarse corn meal and teff that can be eaten for breakfast or dessert.  I had just about everything the recipe called for except for a little teff.  I took some cherries out of the freezer to thaw, picked up some more teff and whipped it together Saturday afternoon.  I chilled it overnight and grilled it for a delightful Sunday breakfast. Oh yeah, did I mention this is an Easy recipe?  The cherry sauce is very simple.  I just did something similar with raspberries for the thumbprint cookies.  Any berries will work for this recipe.

Pine Nut Polenta with Cherry Sauce
    Robin Asbell, Sweet & Easy Vegan, page 47


1 Cup coarse cornmeal/polenta
3 Cups filtered water
1 Cup amaranth or teff or 1 cup additional cornmeal
1 Cup vanilla non-dairy milk
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

The grains can be substituted with other grains and cashews or other nuts can be substituted for the pine nuts.

Cherry Sauce

10 oz. frozen dark cherries (your favorite berries)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup apple juice
1 TB corn starch

Lightly oil a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

To make the polenta:

Put the cornmeal in a medium saucepan, then add the water gradually while whisking continuously.  Whisk in the amaranth or teff.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cook, whisking continuously until thick, about 5 minutes.  Stir in half the pine nuts.

Scrape the polenta into the prepared pan and spread it in an even layer.  Sprinkle the remaining pine nuts on the top and press to adhere.  Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

To make the sauce:

In a small saucepan, combine the cherries and maple syrup.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Lower the heat to maintain a simmer.  In a cup or small bowl, whisk the apple juice and cornstarch together until smooth, then stir the mixture into the cherries.  cook until shiny and thickened, about 5 minutes.

Slice the polenta and either fry it in a lightly oiled, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or bake it on an oiled baking sheet at 400º for 10 to 15 minutes, until heated through and browned.  Serve topped with the warm sauce, reheating it, if need be.  Stored in separate airtight containers, the polenta and cherry sauce will keep for about 1 week.

Looking forward to breakfast again tomorrow. Yum!

September 29, 2012

Nutty Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

This weekend at the Portland VegFest I had the pleasure of organizing the prep kitchen.  Scott & I packed up the kitchen and had two wonderful days of playing with our food.  We assisted seven vegan chefs from around the country for nine chef demos.  We learned a lot, especially about working together.  I have a lot more confidence Scott & I can work as a team whichever way this vegan cooking adventure takes us.

The first chef we got to work with was Chef Del Sroufe, author of the Forks Over Knives cookbook.  I opened it at work Wednesday and chose the first recipe I saw for my "plan review" treats, Nutty Raspberry Jam Thumbprints.  They look easy and made with the oat flour, they're gluten free. Today is just a little bit tense having the budget reviewed by our superiors.  I like to break the ice with some vegan treats.  If nothing else goes well, and it will, the cookies usually cause a little smiling.

I had most the ingredients in the recipe, except some nuts.  I stopped by the grocery store after the garden last night and picked up some nice pecans.  I didn't have any applesauce handy, but an apple in the Blendtec worked out just fine.  Yesterday morning before I went to work I took some raspberries out of the freezer to thaw.  I made a little jam with some pure maple syrup and Agar and let it cool.  You can use a good pre-made jam.

My Quick Jam

About 2 cups fresh or frozen berries
3 TB pure maple syrup
1 TB Agar
1 Cup boiling water
1/4 tsp cinnamon, optional
1/4 tsp nutmeg, optional

Heat the berries with the maple syrup until they come to a gentl boil.  Add the Agar to the boiling water and dissolve.  Add the Agar mixture to the hot berry mixture, mix well, add cinnamon and nutmeg.  Bring it to a gentle boil again, remove it from the heat and let cool.  It will thicken as it cools.

Nutty Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
     Forks Over Knives Cookbook, page 271

Makes 18 cookies

1/2 Cup unsweetened applesauce,
1/4 Cup almond butter
1/2 Cup dry sweetener:  raw cane sugar, coconut sugar, sucanat, etc.
1 TB ground flaxseeds
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups oat flour (If you're not concerned with gluten, unbleached wheat or spelt, flour will work fine)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, (I used pecans)
1/2 cup raspberry jam, or to taste

Preheat oven to 350º.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.

In a large mixing bowl use a  strong fork to mix the applesauce, almond butter, sweetener, and flax seeds.  Once relatively smooth, mix in vanilla.

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix well.  Fold in the oats and walnuts.

Roll about 2 tablespoons of batter into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining batter until you have 18 balls.  They can fit into once cookie sheet because they don't spread much at all during baking.  Moisten you thumb (or index finger) and make a deep indent in the center of each cookie.  Place about 1/2 teaspoon of jam in each indent.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookie are golden brown. 

Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

I sprinkled them with a bit of powdered sugar, that's optional.

September 16, 2012

Quick and Easy ~ Lively Mexican Vegan Hash

We've got some beautiful little red and purple potatoes coming out of the garden now.  I was looking for a quick and easy meal the other day.  I thought about potato hash.  I had some tempeh in the fridge and thought it would make a nice addition.  I sliced some into little cubes and gave them a quick marinade of tamari, lemon juice, and a little garlic chili flax oil. I let them sit in the marinade for about 15 minutes.

I browned the cubes and set them aside. Then sauteed some fresh onions, shallots, red bell pepper, and fresh red potato slices in a little water. While the potatoes cooked, I added a little mexican spice blend: cumin, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, and garlic powder. I put the tempeh back to the mixture and about a  half cup of filtered water and simmered it all until the potatoes were tender. Added a handful of chopped Italian Parsley and topped it off with some vegan chipotle cream sauce and avocado.

Chipotle Cream Sauce: 1/2 cup veganaise, 1 tsp chipotle chili powder, dash cumin, (or favorite spice), 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice, dash salt, (optional). Whisk it all together until blended.

One of the spice blends I like to keep on hand is a mexican blend.  It's handy to have around to change up the flavor of a stir fry or bean dish. 

Mexican Spice Blend
     Makes 7 tablespoons

1/4 cup chili powder
2 TB cumin powder
2 tsp oregano, dried
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix well.  Store in a glass jar.

Add to casseroles, beans, vegetable stir-fry or any recipe you'd like to liven up.

September 15, 2012

Vegan Manicotti

My husband noticed some very large pasta shells and mentioned he'd like to try them.  I picked them up and made a homemade manicotti with them.  It was pretty easy and really didn't take much work at all.  It was a great, easy meal during the week.

I made a vegan ricotta with some soaked cashews, about 2 cups, blended until smooth with 1/2 cup organic soy yogurt, a little filter water, probably only a quarter cup, and a dash of sea salt.  I covered the mixture and set it in a cool dark corner of the kitchen for about 48 hours.  This ferments the cashews a bit and produces a cheezy flavor.  I chopped up some fresh red bell pepper, a couple cloves of garlic, fresh Italian parsley, and fresh basil and combined them with the cheese mixture.

I poured a little of my homemade marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish and stuffed the shells.

I cooked the pasta shells according to the directions, about 9-11 minutes, until they were al dente.  Then I stopped the cooking by running cold water over them.  I let them cool so I could handle, then stuffed a couple tablespoons of the vegan ricotta I made.

I topped the shells with a little more marinara and sprinkled a little Daiya Mozzarella cheese on top.  Baked at 375º for about 20 minutes just to warm it thoroughly and melt the Daiya cheese a little.

Mixed Roots Roasted in an Oversized Summer Squash

Late summer and early fall are great time of year for fresh vegetables.  A couple times a week I can stop by our garden on the way home from work and pick up some groceries.  This week I took a couple boxes home and dropped off a box to my granddaughter's house too. Except for fruit, I haven't had the need to go to the grocery store for a couple weeks now.  I do stop in at the farmer's market for fresh goodies.  We don't grow enough cucumbers and greens to keep up with the amount we like to eat.  There's always trading with other gardener's too.  EZ meal choices!

My son's friend recently gave me two very large yellow squash.  I think they were each about a foot and a half long.  My first thought was to stuff it.  I had just been out to the garden and pulled up a nice load of fresh root vegetables.

This was a simple dish.  I choped the veggies: golden beets, carrots, parsnips, red & purple potatoes, red onions, and white Onions. I tossed it all with a little garlic chili oil and Italian herbs. I roasted it for about an hour. The veggies were still crunchy. The moisture from the vegetables made a nice broth on the bottom of the squash.  The big squash which looked like it would be too tough and woody was very tender.  We enjoyed this for dinner and lunch the next day.

To  add to our already colorful meal, I marinated some fresh locally made tempeh in a little tamari, lemon juice, and toasted sesame oil.  Then I browned the marinated tempeh strips and set them aside while I made a simple vegan mushroom and onion gravy. 

September 3, 2012

Labor Day Vacation and 70 pounds of Tomatoes

A lovely week, busy, but lovely.  I began Wednesday afternoon stopping by the grocery store one last time and then home to prepare for my second plant based cooking class at Country Village.  I should say I started Tuesday night as I got to go out to Ruth & Mike's organic farm and help pick the produce I needed for my class.  I started working at home Wednesday about 4:00 p.m. getting fresh kale in the dehydrator, sauces prepared ahead, three chocolate cakes baked, and various spices and supplies marked and ready to go.  I finally stopped about 11:45. Up early frosting chocolate gluten free cake, shredding zucchini, and making cauliflower rice.  I had 38 people signed up for the class and I'm already learning that means I'll have about 24 people, so I prepared for 30.  It's nice to have some samples for the store employees too.  It's a lot of work, but I really enjoyed it.  Took it slow, taking a few tea breaks along the way and just getting it done.  I smiled to myself a couple times when I remembered I was "working at home" which is the long term goal.

 The class was a whole lot of fun.  Twenty three people attended to learn some tips about plant based cooking along with some nutritional information.  It went very smoothly, didn't seem like we forgot anything important. There were some great discussions. A couple people even came in from the store, curious about what was going on, paid and sat in on the class. I learned that I should find a way to cook in the fall.  Based on the comments I requested, many people would like to know more about cooked vegan cuisine.  I've purchased a couple induction burners.  I am hoping they'll work for the class.  It would be fun to do some cooked root dishes in the fall.  We might schedule an all-day class on a Saturday, we'll see.  The most important thing is that we all had a good time and I'm welcome to do another class. Woo Who!

Sharing Some Fresh Garden Stevia

Friday came with some oral surgery and sleep through most of the day.

Saturday we enjoyed a leisure morning and picked up our Kaylee for a day of fun.  We stopped by the garden for some weeding and watering and then off to Sauve Island to enjoy the Blackberry & Bluegrass Festival and giant corn maze.  They had given us tickets when we bought the peaches so we thought it a good way to spend a sunny day with Kaylee.

 A little fine face painting.

It was a good family fun event.  Lots of space, not too crowded,  and vegan and vegetarian choices at the food trucks too.  We enjoyed a roasted eggplant gyro and a felafel gyro.  The corn maze was pretty fun, but it was way too big for me.  It spanned 2 and a half miles and wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.  Kaylee thought grandma and grandpa were giving up because we finally went out the entrance.  We were in there quite awhile and based on the checkpoints we saw, we traveled quite a bit.  I did feel like an older grandma after a bit.  That doesn't happen very often.

We stopped by Proper Eats on the way home for a bowl of broccoli bisque and I was feeling quite winded.  I think it was probably too much fun after my Friday adventure at the dentist.  Sunday I took it easy, read, napped, and relaxed in the sun.

After a full day of rest, I was ready to tackle the 70 lb of tomatoes I had gathered over the weekend from our garden, 50 lb organic heirlooms from Willow Grove Gardens, and 20 lb of beautiful big heirlooms I picked up at Bella Organic Farm.  I packed the big heirlooms with fresh rosemary and lemon juice.  30 lb of the small organic red heirlooms I roasted with onions and garlic, then removed their skins and simmered them all with some fresh oregano and rosemary until thickened for a nice tomato sauce.  I got about 12 jars of the sauce.  Then I canned some of the nice big red ones and dehydrated about 10 lb of the smaller ones.  It sounds like a lot of work, but I went at it very slow, systematically, and I was done by 5:15 p.m.  I even found time to put together a black bean enchilada casserole.  I still have time to do this blog and relax before bed. Nice Monday!

Vegan Black Bean Casserole with Homemade Cashew Cheddar Cheeze

It's been a full and productive week.  I'm feel rested and ready to head back to work where we'll be "ramping it up" with the month end work, then the planning fun ahead. 

August 25, 2012

Almost Raw Vegan Peach Cheesecake

The weather is cooling and fall has crept in.  Usually it waits for Labor Day weekend. But not this year.  Even though it's sunny the mornings and evenings have been much cooler.  The peaches are done, I have the jars of sliced peaches, some dried and in the freezer, and then some just frozen and ready for smoothies or a quick cobbler in November. It was a tasty job. I've had peaches for dinner a couple nights this week. I'll be putting up tomatoes next, some this weekend and the rest next weekend.  The garden has been going pretty well too. The other night while watering I had a cucumber, a small ear of corn, and some peas for dinner. My kind of fast food, just wash and eat. I just love the availability of fresh food at harvest time.

Almost Raw Vegan Peach Cheesecake

 I'm pretty happy with the peach cheesecake I made Tuesday night. This is almost an original recipe so I've got to write it down so I can make it again. The texture of the cheesecake filling was perfect. I call it "almost raw" because I baked a spelt flour and cardamom crust. It was crisp and crumbly all at the same time. I used a couple recipes I'd made before as a base. For the crust I began a Vegan Fusion recipe from a cheese cake in The Vegan Fusion World Cuisine.

I made a couple of changes to it which is highly encouraged in the Vegan Fusion cookbooks.  The filling I made up myself from experience making vegan cheesecakes.  It is really fun now that I can just create something without consulting a recipe sometimes.  I do have to write it down so I can make it again though.  This blog has come in very handy for that.

I made some vegan cream cheese ahead of time.  It's a very easy blend.

2 cups raw cashews soaked for two hours or more
1/2 cup vegan soy yogurt
1/2 tsp sea salt

Blend all together until smooth in  a high speed blender or food processor.  Place mixture in a large mason jar or glass bowl and cover with saran wrap.  Place in a warm spot in your kitchen for 24-48 hours until the desired thickness.  This cheese will last in a covered container in your refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Crust Dry:

2 C spelt flour
1/4 C Coconut Sugar
1 TB Arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
1/4 tsp sea salt

Crust Wet:

1/3 C Coconut Oil, melted
2 TB Stevia Syrup*
2 TB Apple Juice, fresh (I used some of the applesauce I canned last summer.)
1 tsp Almond extract

Sift together dry ingredients, blend wet ingredients in separate bowl.  Mix the wet into the dry and mix until crumbly and dough slightly sticks together.  Press into a 9" pie pan and bake at 350º for about 15-20 minutes until it just starts to brown and you can smell the cardamom and almond.  Take out of oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

*Stevia Syrup - 3/4 cup fresh stevia, packed
1 pint filtered water

Combine Stevia and water in pint jar.  Allow to chill 24 hours.  Sift stevia out of liquid. Store in airtight container up to two weeks.

While the crust is cooling prepare the filling.

1 cup vegan cashew cream cheese (above)
1/4 - 1/2 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice and zest from two lemons
2 cups fresh peaches, sliced or chopped
2 TB raw agave, or to taste
1 TB Agar powder dissolved in 1 cup boiling water, cooled slightly
Blend all in the blender until smooth.

Pour into cooled pie crust and allow to cool for a couple hours.  After the cheesecake has set and thickened it's ready for the peach puré topping.

Peach Puré Topping

4 Medjool dates, soaked for 30 minutes
1-2 cup fresh peaches chopped
1/2 TB Agar powder dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water, cooled slightly

Pour onto cooled cheesecake and return to refrigerator to set.  Garnish with fresh peaches and toasted almonds.

My husband liked it so much he thought I should make it for our Vegan/Vegetarian potluck tomorrow night.  Not a bad idea!


August 19, 2012

Processing the Gifts of Summer

It was a big produce weekend that started with picking up our organic peaches Friday and waking up to pick some wonderful figs on Saturday morning.  The first thing I did was whip up a vanilla chia pudding and added some of the chopped ripe figs. My husband is enjoying it right now.  Aside from snacking on the lovelies all day, I dried many of them for future recipes and snacks.

Figs headed for the dehydrator.

I delivered Rachel's peaches to her out on Puget Island and took out a couple of my own boxes.  I grabbed a few random veggies to use for our meal. I love this time of year when I go shopping in my own garden. We spent a lovely day canning, visiting, and enjoying the day.  We picked up Kaylee on the way out and I brought her a bead making kit for something to keep her busy.  She doesn't stay in much there though.  She gets to feed and run with chickens and kitties.  It's a pretty free place for a kid. She and Allison sat together and created bracelets for everyone there.  We were all decorated at the end of the day.  Every one helped out with the peaches, picking up a knife and peeling and pitting throughout the day.  I manned the jars and the canners, keeping them going.  We processed four boxes, eighty pounds, and ended up with 33 pint and a half jars.  That should make for some good peach treats through the winter.  We always have a great time doing this too.  This time Allison joined in and made a fresh apple pie with the apples she and Rachel foraged on the Island.

Sunday at home and I have lots of produce coming out of the garden right now.  I have to get to work preserving it so it doesn't go to waste. Even though we're not able to give away as much as we'd like, we are still pulling out a good amount of groceries.  This morning I had two very large heads of cabbage I wanted to get into something.  I made a nice pot of Tuscan Cabbage & White bean soup.  I used some white onions, red onions, garlic, carrots, collards, and herbs from the garden.  I added a couple of the ripe heirloom tomatoes I picked up at the organic farm Friday, and used some low sodium vegetable broth.  I cooked up about a cup of white beans ahead of time, but you could use a drained and rinsed can of white beans.  I seasoned it very simply with fresh garlic, sea salt, ground black pepper, a sprig of thyme, and a spring of rosemary.  Here's a link to a pretty easy recipe for cabbage and bean soup.

The big red cabbage became sweet & sour cabbage just like my grandmother used to make.  I put three pints up, but I don't think they'll last long.  I really like it. I think of my grandma with every bite.  This is really good stuff. It's pretty easy to make.

 Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage Recipe


  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine, non hydrogenized
  • 1 2-pound red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 12 cups)
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar


Melt the vegan margarine in a large pot over medium heat. Add cabbage and sauté until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Add sugar, toss to coat evenly. Add vinegar. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover, simmer until cabbage is tender, stirring often, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serves 6-8.

The canning station is ready, I quickly put some cabbage soup and sweet & sour cabbage up for a quick meal sometime.

Somehow this weekend I also managed to squeeze in some almond and flax meal crackers with rosemary and garlic.  I made a pretty wonderful vegan capri cheese for them.  I've been playing with a few vegan cheese recipes.  I think I'll have some good ones coming up soon. I roasted up some beets & onions and it all made for a great Sunday dinner.

But that's not all, we still had a large zucchini and probably would like something sweet on hand this week.  I shredded it up and stored most of it for salads and meals this week.  But, not before I made a double batch some of what I call "Zucchini Muffin Top" cookies.  I made these gluten free too.

I should warn my calorie counting friends at work, I'm going to mess with their calorie count tomorrow. ***giggling***

It's a bit of work, but none of the fresh produce is wasted, we have some great handy meals for lunch and dinner this week, and we've stored some goodies for later.  I don't have to cook, if I don't want to, until at least Wednesday.  I'd say it was a successful weekend.