Now that MSP is on a sort of forced vacation due to her heart attack we have been poking about town, riding our bikes, seeing the new Harry Potter movie (yes, we both cried like little girls) and scoping out new vegan cafes and as a result I haven’t posted many of the new recipes we’ve tried. I’ve been feeling like I have no imagination when it comes to the house dinner menu, not like I keep making the same meals over and over but more like I keep getting stuck in the same genre. Like if you were reading and never picked anything except romance novels and totally skipped the sections with sci-fi or natural history. Plus, my grocery shopping budget has gone completely out of control again. I need to get back on board with a meal plan, a menu and a shopping list. It is so terribly easy to get totally off-balance with your spending when you fail to pay close attention to what you’re doing. Also, I’ve asked MSP (Miss Skinny Pants for those who have forgotten) to help me with meal suggestions and ideas.
1. PCC collard slaw. We tried this at one of our local coops, PCC, here in Seattle. They were having a deli sale and handing out samples to get people interested or hooked depending on your point of view. I tried this on the recommendation of a clerk who knows I have a weak spot for PCC’s celery root slaw and who urged me try it. While not up there with the celery root slaw it is still much better than I had anticipated. The thought of raw collard greens was not exactly appealing to me but the mix of collards, onions, raisins and sweet/tangy dressing really popped. And even better, PCC provides recipes for any and all foods prepared on site. If you are willing to try a non-traditional coleslaw or you are looking for a different way to prepare those same old greens, then this Collard Slaw is the way to go. The link will take you directly to the recipe as provided by PCC. It should be noted that I used Nayonaise and not Veganaise in order to drastically reduce the fat.
2. Vegan Jambalaya. We haven’t actually made this one yet. It’s on tap for this evening and will go nicely with the leftover collard slaw. Depending on where you are in the country right now this warm and spicy dish might not sound very appealing what with everyone elses record-breaking temperatures but here in Seattle it is overcast and cool making this the perfect “the summer that never was” kind of meal. Again the link will take you directly to the recipe we used. We are going to use Trader Joe’s vegetarian Italian sausage and not the combination of sausage and tempeh called for in the recipe. Additionally I plan on leaving out the sort of ridiculous amounts of oil called for. I recalculated the nutritional information shown on the recipe page using just the sausage and cutting out the oil and was able to cut the calories to 378 a serving instead of 721 and the fat to 13% and not 41%. Recipes like this are a perfect example of a vegan whole food turned unhealthy. Thankfully it isn’t hard to bring them back into the healthy camp again.
3. Vegan Savory Muffins. I made these this morning with, as usual, a few changes. Instead of 1/2 cup polenta and 1 cup flour I used 3/4 cup flour and 3/4 cup of cornmeal. I also substituted green bell pepper and a couple of tablespoons of minced sun-dried tomatoes for the plain red bell pepper since I didn’t have a red bell pepper and I assumed the red jalapenos I do have would probably be a bit much. I also resorted to dried thyme instead of fresh. I used half a teaspoon but I think when I make them again a quarter teaspoon might be better as the thyme can become a bit overwhelming. The texture of the muffins is wonderful but will not stand up to dragging around in your lunch box. They are rich and velvety but fall apart if you so much as look at them sternly.
4. Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole. Instead of using the vegan cheese and salsa called for in this recipe I used (well actually MSP used) Nacho Mama’s Vegan Fire-Roasted Queso Sauce (see previous post about this miraculous substance) thereby reducing the added fat to ZERO (this sentence works better if you can do it in Oprah’s voice in your head). I also added a jar of drained pinto beans. Everything else remained as it was in the recipe. I had 2 servings and one for a snack later, it was that good. Creamy, savory and with a hint of spicy this would be an excellent topping for masa cakes or as tamale filling perhaps. MSP thought she would like to mix it with some cooked elbow macaroni for a Cheesy-Mexi-Pasta kind of thing and I can definitely see where that would totally work. The great thing about this dish is that it’s simple enough to be easy to whip up and yet still do all manner of creative tweaks so that it is never the same dish twice. Great for kids and unmotivated other halfs to make.
4. Peach-Apricot Sauce. We had a few organic peaches and apricots around the house that had reached that level of ripeness that is too good to throw away but not appealing for eating out of hand, soft and with some bruising. Rather than waste them I decided to chop them up, skins and all and simmer them gently for an hour or so in a bit of water. Once they had cooled a bit I ran them through a food mill to remove the skins and any hard bits. The result is a thick warm sauce that resembles peach butter, though not quite as thick as what one would spread on bread. The taste is wonderful and fresh. It can be eaten straight the way it is although I have an idea for using it on oatmeal.
Oh, and lastly I had to include this photo. One of my biggest pet peeves with living here in the Pacific Northwest is berries. Not that we have them growing all over the place, I love that, but that they highlight the mind-boggling laziness that so many American consumers have embraced. Here we have raspberries, blackberries, salmon berries, blueberries, huckleberries, salal berries, thimble berries, ollala berries, and probably a dozen other kinds I can’t remember at the moment. If I walk into a grocery store in Los Angeles or New York City I expect to see a pint of blackberries or raspberries for $6.00 and people buying them at that cost. It isn’t as though you can realistically get them easily or cheaply in the city. But what really frosts my pumpkins as my Nana would have said, is that you can find the same thing in every grocery store HERE. Here, where Himalayan blackberries are ALL OVER everything that stands still for more than 3 or 4 minutes at a time. Here, where they are considered invasive and we have businesses devoted to removing them. And yet with a million pounds of fresh, sweet, warm berries free for the picking, many consumers continue to pay $6.00 a pint for farmed berries from out-of-state. That isn’t just lazy, it should be considered criminal from a waste of gas and resources viewpoint alone. Oh, I can hear the excuses now… I don’t have the time… it’s too much work… my schedule is so full… I don’t want to get stung or scratched. Whatever. If a picture is worth a thousand words then here is the thousand words that it took me 5 minutes in the warm sun to collect across the alley from my backyard. For free.
Okay, I’m getting off my soapbox now so I can go eat my raspberries.