I spent 3 or 4 hours in the back yard today pulling the grass off of the brick walkway that runs from our back door to the garage door, trimming some branches off the laurel tree that the “arborists” hacked up like a wanna-be Billy Idol hairdo and trying to do some major revamping on a rhodie bush in the backyard that was being overgrown with roses and bittersweet. Now admittedly, pulling grass from a walkway sounds tedious but not all that difficult. I’m including this picture so everyone can see how difficult this one is. The walkway doesn’t just end there, it actually goes another 20-25 feet to the garage, it’s just buried under what is essentially sod with an attitude. Only sod would be easier to remove as the roots wouldn’t be growing down between each and every brick. But I’m not complaining. It’s actually good exercise that is accomplishing something and not just walking endlessly to nowhere on a treadmill or stairmaster.
Aside from the yard work however, and no, I haven’t made anymore progress on either the rockery out front or the front yard, I did do a bit of cooking yesterday that turned out really well. I started with a batch of what I’m calling tamale bread. The original recipe called for the use of cornmeal but I substituted masa harina instead to give it more of a mexican food flavor. It turned out really well and half the loaf is already gone! I also made a batch of Hawaiian chili pepper water. If you are wondering what that is, well, I had never had it before a trip to Hawaii myself last August. I cooked for myself the entire trip and stuck to rice, veggies, fish and grilled chicken. With such a simple menu I was game to try as many new condiments as I could and this was one of them. To quote another website, it is, “Like a distant island cousin of Crystal or Tabasco sauce, chili pepper water is a fiery brine used in Hawaii to add a spicy kick to rice, eggs, spaghetti, fried foods, Bloody Marys—just about anything.” Now I wouldn’t call mine fiery it’s more sort of “zesty” but then again spiciness is all relative. As a matter of fact I have one relative with an asbestos tongue who would happily suck on a scotch bonnet Tootsie pop and another that nearly cries at the merest drop of mild taco sauce (and they know who they are). Lastly, since the other chubby vegan is working another Saturday to help us pay off moving expenses, I tried to make her a dinner that would blow her socks off. Or at least make them flap in the wind a little. I started with a salad plate of avocado slices and garlic whistles (her two favorites), added a slice of “buttered” homemade bread (I know, it looks like frosting, right? I’m working on it… ) and finished with a big bowl of Greens and Beans soup. The greens being golden beet greens from our garden and the beans being my home-canned Butter Beans. Not only was it filling in the extreme but every part was even tastier than the last.
Tamale Bread (for a bread machine)
1 cup water, 80 degrees
3 tbsp oil
1 cup whole kernel corn
1/2 cup jalapenos, chopped (I used pickled jalapenos for nachos)
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 cup masa harina
3 2/3 cup bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
Follow your bread machine instructions for white bread, adding the ingredients in the order they appear on the list which should keep the yeast separate from the liquid until you turn on the machine and start making the bread.
Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water
1 clean, used bottle with a good tight cap. (I used a clean olive oil bottle from Trader Joe’s as the cap includes a plastic strainer)
12 dried red chili peppers (I used dried red chili flakes instead)
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Optional: I also added a few tbsp of dried garlic
4 fresh Thai chilis, thinly sliced
2 red jalapenos, thinly sliced (these are just for color and variety)
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tsp sea salt
3 cups hot water
1. Push the peppers and garlic into clean bottle.
2. Mix the vinegar, salt and hot water.
3. Pour the liquid into the bottle to cover the chilies. Let cool.
4. Cap the bottle and store it in the refrigerator. It should keep for about a month. (I used mine for much much longer. Remember, vinegar is a preservative)
5. Sprinkle this spicy, garlicky water over your food as the Hawaiians do. Enjoy!
Garlic Whistles (Garlic Spears, Garlic Scapes) and “Beans ‘n’ Greens Soup
Trim the spear ends, not the blossom end. The blossoms are edible and oh so very tasty. Par boil in salted water, drain, toss in Garlic Expressions or the vinaigrette of your choice and chill. These can be served hot but are really fun to nibble on as a salad or snack. The soup is even easier:
2 large bunches of your favorite greens, rinsed and chopped. I often use beet greens or rainbow chard but any green will do. Plop them in a dutch oven or stock pot.
Add 2 15 oz cans of beans with bean juice. I use butter beans or navy beans, but again whatever makes you happy.
Add 1 onion, chopped
Put in sufficient vegetable broth to cover the beans and greens in the pot.
1/8 to 1/4 cup sweet smoked paprika, depending on your taste.
1/4 to 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, again add according to your taste preference.
Simmer until greens are soft and flavors have melded nicely. Do not add salt until you taste the finished product. We didn’t need to add any.
Let me know if you try any of these recipes.
I was poking around the internet for some ideas on an apricot and chickpea salad this morning when I saw a recipe for “circumcised lamb”. Well you can imagine MY face. I really should read things more carefully, cumin-spiced lamb is very different. I’m just saying.
I think, after much more poking around and after a gander at the apricot chickpea salad recipe in my Urban Pantry book I will combine several recipes to make my own, like I often do. Some of the various recipes called for kalamata olives (too salty), some for Bulgar wheat (too bulgary), some for pistachios (I don’t have them), and some for cardamom (Yechhh…) and all of them called for dried apricots. So I’ve decided to use Israeli couscous as the base and a mixture of dried and fresh apricots instead of just dried. With summer here, technically anyway, it’s a shame not to use more fresh ingredients. Most also use a vinaigrette dressing but I am thinking of using something with a fresh lemon juice base instead or the no-fat citrus dressing we tried on our garden salad last week. I should mention that with the garden salad we had another success with a very quick and easy to prepare off-the-cuff meal. I tossed a box of cooked elbow macaroni with two jars of home-canned pinto beans, a can of enchilada sauce and some diced onions and peppers to make a warm and comforting “Pinto Bean Mac”. We all had large servings with a green salad on the side and I have to say that for a cool rainy evening it was delicious. Last night we prepared steamed broccoli with garlic and lemon along with vegan whole wheat and potato gnocchi from Trader Joe’s smothered in marinara sauce. The gnocchi was fabulous and I’m thinking will be a tasty addition to my Puttanesca Stew in the future. Tonight is the teenager’s turn to make dinner (Something I am fairly certain he has forgotten). With the move essentially completed he is back to cooking dinner on Monday and Tuesday nights, a turn of events that apparently shocked him as he gives every impression now of laboring under the assumption that turning 17 and having good grades means that he need not be bothered with contributing to the household in a way that involves taking time away from his social life. But, while I won’t be cooking tonight I will be providing the recipe and ingredients ( I learned the hard way after a meal of meatloaf and ketchup and nothing else that it behooves me to help with the planning in these things). My only problem this evening… I have no idea what to have him make. It’s so much easier when I can just do things on the fly myself. I am trying out the new bread machine today though. I’m using a basic white bread recipe to start but I tossed in a packet of Knorr Vegetable Dip mix. We don’t eat toast much anymore because of the whole problem with applying butter with a putty knife but we still like it for sandwiches and for eating with soup so I’ll be interested to see how this comes out and if it makes for a nice savory loaf.
We stopped at our very neglected P-patch garden yesterday for some much-needed weeding, planting, harvesting and work party hours. I came home with big bags of beet greens, purple kale, dandelion greens and broccolini. I also ran to the nursery and picked up some kabocha, delicata, zucchini and tomato plants as well as some new golden beet starts to replace the ones I harvested yesterday. The other chubby vegan laughed at me for planting 6 zucchini plants, she says we never learn, BUT I pointed out that we didn’t throw away a single zucchini last year. So there, I said, out that in your zucchini bread and smoke it. At this point we have about 3/4 of the weeding done but it is raining today so I will try again on Wednesday when the rain is supposed to stop. I got our 2 tomato plants and a few raspberry canes in the ground here at the house and I’ll try and get some watermelon poppies and coral colored sweet peas into the rockery out front.
Tomorrow I plan on planning out some canning (we ate all the jars of pinto beans I canned and need some more) and making a list of what we really liked: My Secret Recipe Green Beans, Navy Bean and Greens soup, Chili beans, Italian Stewed Vegetables, Herbed Carrots, canned red and green tomatoes, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and butter beans. (I don’t care what anyone says about how quickly you can soak and cook beans, when you’re tired and your feet feel like you’ve walked them down to the ankle bones, just opening a can and adding extras is so much easier than quick soaking and boiling. And not just physically but mentally.) I should also start roaming the farmer’s market looking for deals on whatever vegetables they will sell in bulk. I know Nash’s does carrots but I will have to learn to haggle this year and see what deals I can get on veggies that are not grocery store pretty but are still fresh and good.
If anyone has any good canning ideas let me know!
* Cheating alert* Junior found a can of Spam in his room tonight (don’t ask because I have NO idea and I’m afraid I don’t want to know) and given my embarrassing weakness for preformed, overly salty and canned pork products used to make things like Spam Musubi, I see a possible moral dilemma in my near musubi future. And you simply cannot make decent Spam from tofu no matter how hard you try.
On the more positive side, I’m feeling particularly thrifty this week as we prepare to move into our new home with several “new” goodies. On the “reuse and rehome” front this week we scored a Waring Pro Blender for $8.00, a gorgeous stoneware shortbread mold for $2.99 and a Breadman Ultimate bread machine for $0.00 on Freecycle (the best thing about this last one is that you can throw the ingredients in the machine, set it, set the timer, go to bed and wake up to a loaf of warm bread as it mixes it, kneads it and bakes it all in one… now if only they would invent one that removes the calories after slicing and buttering it).
Forgetting my knotweed fiasco last week I started my spring canning today. With our change to veganism we are eating a lot more beans and while dried beans are certainly less expensive than canned, canned are a lot more convenient. My solution, can your own. I’ve tried freezing them after cooking but I find it makes the beans more mushy and storing either big containers or zip lock bags of beans in the freezer, even a chest freezer is a pain. And trying to quickly defrost a large bag of frozen beans that froze in big ziplock wrinkles is a real treat… NOT. Not to mention I like having foods that won’t go bad and can be eaten out of hand in the event of a power failure. I know, I know, more zombie apocalypse preparation you’re thinking, but no, just being prepared in general. As it is I’ve been avoiding canning my own beans because it seemed like a big hassle to cook the beans first and then can them but as it turns out I don’t have to do that. I’m following a simple procedure I found online. Right now I’m prepping 7 quarts of black beans, 6 quarts of garbanzo beans and 1 quart of field peas. We got the field peas from our local farmer’s market last year and they taste remarkably like split peas when cooked in soup (a fact that doesn’t impress the other vegan AT ALL I might add… she hates split peas) so I am curious to see what happens when they’re canned. Oh, and I strongly recommend that even if you buy your bulk beans from a grocery store you double-check them before canning, and here’s why (see picture below)…
[I thought I had 7 jars of black beans and 6 jars of garbanzo beans. 1 jar of black beans shattered when I set it into the pressure canner and one jar of garbanzo beans has come up missing. (?!?!?!?!).]
As I finish this the black beans are just coming up to pressure and must go for 90 minutes so I will post the photos tomorrow or the day after as I have to take a few loads over to the new house in the morning as well as doing a bit more garden prep.
1. Place 1 cup of beans in each clean quart jar and cover with hot water.
2. Soak overnight.
3. Rinse several times in cool water and replace the beans in the jars.
4. Fill each jar with hot water to within 1/2 inch of the top and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
5. Pressure can at 10lbs for 90 minutes.
6. For pint jars use 1/2 cup beans, 1/2 tsp salt and can for 75 mins at 10lbs.
The other night I made a Tofu and Apricot Tagine and it turned out WONDERFULLY. My only observation is that I would have preferred it without the tofu and used more vegetables and fruit. The other vegans in the house disagree, but as I pointed out, I’M the cook! Neener neener neener. So there! And again, I changed the recipe to the point where it really bears little resemblance to the original so I’m including it here:
Fresh Apricot and Tofu Tagine
16 oz super firm tofu, marinated in vegetarian chicken broth and poultry seasoning and cut into cubes
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 cups vegetarian chicken broth
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (I used chili spiced dried pineapple)
6 apricots, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 to 4 tbsp cornstarch mixed with cool water
1. Place marinated and drained tofu on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and brown under the broiler, turning as needed. Set aside.
2. Coat large pot or dutch oven with cooking spray and add carrots and onion. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until lightly brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Add ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and chile flakes. Cook one minute, stirring often. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Add stock paste, water and dried fruit and bring to steady simmer.
3. Add tofu back into pot. reduce heat and gently simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, uncovered and stirring occasionally. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened to desired consistency. Add fresh apricots and simmer until soft, but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. taste and adjust seasoning.
4. Serve over couscous, brown rice, quinoa or any soft whole grain. Each serving can be topped with pine nuts and mint (we used chopped scallions). Stew can be prepared up to 2 days in advance; cover and refrigerate. Reheat gently. Serves 6.
Serving Size 268 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 42
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4.6g, 7%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg, 0%
Sodium 687mg, 29%
Total Carbohydrates 16.9g, 6%
Dietary Fiber 2.9g, 12%
|Vitamin A 80%||
Vitamin C 14%
Nutrition Grade B+
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Continuing on with the trials of switching to veganism… when one is genetically inclined to meals that lean towards white bread, liverwurst and an ungodly amount of full fat mayonnaise it is clearly going to be a bit of a mental challenge for me to change my way of thinking from “Oh God… is that maple sausage and biscuits… I’m being deprived!” to “Mmmm… Flaxseed cakes with extra fiber!” Sunday we cleaned out the chest freezer of everything meat-related and drove them out the home of my PLP (platonic life partner) and her family. Well, I should point out that the other chubby vegan did the cleaning. THIS chubby vegan looked this morning and discovered ham, turkey, cooking fat and what looks suspiciously like buffalo. (Note to self, we must discuss with the other vegan that ham does not technically grow on a tree, but I digress.) I also noticed when dropping off the frozen chickens that they were the size and shape of a bowling ball and had a sudden urge to set up an alley in PLP’s garage with soda bottle “pins”. I am hoping that with the meaty distractions out of the house I will be less inclined to do things like I did yesterday. I won’t go into the food-porn details but suffice to say that I have invented something called “Pizza Rice” and it is DAMN tasty if you like things with cheese. Thankfully, I have confirmed there is no more dairy in the house with the exception of dried staples for baking. I am having a hard time getting rid of the dried staples in the freezer (buttermilk, whole eggs, whole milk, butter etc..) because they were purchased as emergency back-ups. While I am not by any means running around and preparing for the end of the world, I am acutely aware that this country only has a 3 day supply of food at any given time and I don’t fancy counting on the authorities for food in the event of an earthquake or other crimp in my otherwise elegant lifestyle. Which is not to say I don’t have enough beans and brown rice to see me through Armageddon or the “zompocalypse” because I do. And a 9 iron for self-defense. I’m just saying.
Yesterday I soaked a big bunch of canary and cranberry beans and decided to tweak a recipe for Creamy Hungarian Bean Soup that I found in Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant (purchased 2 weeks ago at the room of requirement for $2.99). It is a fabulous ethnic and regional cookbook that is vegetarian and so the existing recipes are easily changed to vegan versions. I had a few leftover cooked beans and so will find a way to incorporate them into dinner tonight. I hope. I also pulled some leftovers from the freezer. The teenager will be thrilled, “Hi honey! We’re having a big bowl of WTF for dinner because I forgot to label whatever this is again. Dig in!” Do I know how to put the shiny on a meal or what?
Onward to the recipe however,
SpongeBob’s Vegan Creamy Hungarian Bean Soup
4 cups cooked beans (Moosewood uses navy beans but I prefer something creamier) with cooking liquid
1 leek, rinsed and chopped
4 young garlic shoots, about 10″, rinsed and chopped
1 lrg yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp sweet paprika (I used smoked paprika for extra richness but sweet is fine)
1 package of firm tofu
Put your beans, cooking liquid, chopped veggies and seasonings in your crock pot and crank that bad daddy up on high for about 3 hours, or on low for an hour or 2 longer. As usual I don’t have exacts, it’s more a feel your way along sort of a thing. Once the veggies are soft, take out a couple of scoops of the broth, the juice of 2 lemons and toss it in a blender with your tofu. Puree until rich and creamy and incorporate back into your soup. double check seasonings and adjust if necessary and serve with warm crusty bread. or Pie. Pie is good.
Serving Size 214 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 29
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3.3g, 5%
Saturated Fat 0.7g, 3%
Cholesterol 0mg, 0%
Sodium 305mg, 13%
Total Carbohydrates 72.2g, 24%
Dietary Fiber 19.9g, 80%
|Vitamin A 22%||
Vitamin C 18%
Nutrition Grade A
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet