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.

Summer Day with My Sweetie

We had the most awesome day Friday.  It started out very early for me.  I went to work at 5:30 a.m.  so I could take a half day off to go out to Sauve's Island to get our peaches this year.  I am fortunate to be able to do that sometimes. Scott's business was closed for the weekend and he had the time off. The temperature was supposed to get up to 100º or more.  We don't have days like that very often, glad to be able to take advantage of it. We were fortunate to be able to enjoy this summer day while it was here.  Lucky thing too, Saturday and Sunday were both cloudy days.  We slowly meandered our way to Sauve's Island stopping a few times to hike around and take some photos along the way.  It did get up to 105º at one point, but we didn't notice it so much as we found plenty of places to grab some shade.

When we got out to the Island the sun was at it's highest, we stopped to take some photos of some very impressive cabbage and took advantage of the sprinklers.

In the 23 years we've lived in the pacific northwest, this is only the second time we've explored Sauve's Island.  There were some beautiful and creative farms.  I especially enjoyed the farm with all the old trucks turned into planters.  There was a blue one, a red one, a yellow one, and a white one.  There was other old farm equipment with gorgeous flowers everywhere you looked.

We found an organic farm, Bella Organic Farm and ordered our peaches before we arrived.  They had ten boxes of fresh picked peaches waiting for us.  That's 200 pounds, eighty for me, eighty for Rachel, and forty for Ruth. We'll can about half of them, freeze some, and dehydrate some.  I like peach cobbler in November. We picked up some other items in the farm store and explored the grounds.  They've got a HUGE corn maze.  The friendly woman at the store gave us tickets for their Blackberry Bluegrass and Country Harvest Festival on Labor Day weekend.  It looks like fun, we do like outdoor music festivals.  They've got a pretty impressive corn maze as well as a hay maze for the kid's.  We saw one of the employee's making many scarecrows and dressing them up for the big opening of the corn maze. I think it might be a good trip with Kaylee.

We ended the day out at Willow Grove delivering the two boxes of peaches Ruth & Mike wanted for their CSA shares this weekend.  We stopped at the beach to take in just a little bit more sunshine. 

And those peaches... were canned the very next day.

August 7, 2012

Cardamom Vanilla Bean Cake with Sumac Lemonade

I went to a fun wedding  this last Saturday.  My youngest son's best buddy got married.  We've known Ben since he was a little guy in second grade, so it was a family wedding for us. I felt like the honorary mother of the groom.  It was a lovely day for an outdoor wedding and the grounds up at the Haas' are beautiful.  90 degree weather, blue sky, and and a wonderful way to spend a summer Saturday afternoon.  It was pretty easy to eat vegetarian or vegan too.  There were many salads and vegetable dishes to choose from. There were even cooked vegetables separate from the animal products.  I made a batch of my Cheezy Kale chips and some Raw Teriyaki noodles to add to the table.

When we got home I realized we didn't try any wedding cake.  We left before the wedding cake was served and I didn't think I wanted to eat it anyway.  I would rather have a nice vegan cake made with some fresh whole ingredients. I wanted some cake so I whipped up a great one.  I started with a basic cake recipe from my Vegan Fusion Chef training book. I used a vanilla cake base using vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract, some freshly ground cardamom I had around from a recent recipe, and used some Sumac lemonade I had made up the day before for the liquid.  I covered it with some Cashew Coconut Creme glaze made with fresh orange juice and orange zest.  This cake came out with a delightful flavor.  I'd make it again, but the Sumac lemonade is seasonal as the flowers bloom once and it takes a good grocery bag full to make a batch of lemonade.  A tart fruit juice such as cranberry or raspberry would add a good flavor to this cake.  Try some experimenting with your favorite juice or herbal tea.

Cardamom Vanilla Bean Cake with Sumac Lemonade
          Vegan & Gluten Free

Dry Ingredients

2½ cups Bob's Red Mill organic gluten free all purpose baking flour
1½ teaspoons Xanthum Gum
2 cups Sucanat (I used coconut sugar)
1-1½ tsp ground cardamom, depends how much you like cardamom
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ tsp sea salt, or to taste

Wet Ingredients

6 TB Sunflower Oil
2¼ cups water or fresh fruit juice
2 TB raw apple cider vinegar
Seeds from one vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat Oven to 350º

Place dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix well.  Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl.  Add wet to dry and mix well.  Pour into a parchment paper lined 9" x 13" pan or two 8" cake pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, approximately 35-40 minutes.  Let the cake sit for 5 to 10 minutes before flipping onto a wire rack to cool.  Cool completely before frosting.

I wanted to make a nice frosting, but didn't want to use a lot of sugar.  Most the frosting I have made lately has been similar to whipped butter-cream frosting using a lot of powdered sugar.  I wanted something sweet, creamy, but light to go with this flavorful cake. I started with a raw icing from a 30-Minute Vegan recipe substituting cashews for coconut butter and doubling the amount. I doubled the orange zest, and added a little dissolved Agar.  It worked out pretty well, I wasn't thrilled about the color once it chilled.  A lot of it was absorbed in the cake, I think.  I added a layer of fresh blueberries mixed with a couple tablespoons of fresh blueberry/raspberry sauce Rachel made when we were canning cherries.

The Icing
     Adapted from: Raw Cinnamon Rolls, The 30-Minute Vegan

1 cup raw cashews soaked for two hours
The thick cream from one chilled can of coconut milk, about ½ cup
¼ cup agave nectar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds of ½ vanilla bean
2 TB Orange zest
¼ cup fresh orange juice, water (or use your favorite fresh juice and change the flavor)

Blend all of the icing ingredients until smooth.  Ice the cooled cake and chill for at least an hour.


Cardamom Vanilla Bean Cake with Cashew Coconut Orange Glaze

Vegan & Gluten Free