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.
I was reading the news the other day about Costco dropping pork produced by Iowa Select Farms due to a video made by Mercy For Animals documenting some of the most heartbreaking animal abuse I’ve ever seen and I was feeling proud that I no longer contribute to the continued torture, abject misery and sadness of these animals and then I realized that I was actually feeling a bit, well, superior as well. As I think I’ve mentioned before this is somewhat unusual for me. I have long believed that the rest of the world is thinner, prettier, more successful and generally better at whatever it is they do than I am. This is a belief compounded by the internet, a place where I can’t see the pot-bellies, double-wides and mullets of the world. Not even People of Walmart seems to disabuse me of this nagging suspicion. So it’s a bit of a surprise to me that being vegan has helped me to claim a bit of the “I’m better than” for myself and not always handing it out so freely to others. Hard as it is to give up so many things that I love ( and I DO stumble), finding reasons to be proud of myself and proud of my choices is turning out to be better than what I’m giving up. On another sort of related side note, giving up television has turned out to be much easier than I had hoped. I not only find I don’t miss it at all but I find myself actively excited about our evenings now… reading together in front of the fireplace, having friends over for dinner and coffee more often, time to work in my art studio. I never realized how much even limited TV had sort of insidiously hypnotized me into not noticing the things I was missing. And at last count I have read 56 books since January.
So what did you do for the fourth? I cleaned and cooked mostly and worked out household/teenager issues with the other CV. Not exactly a 10 on the excitement-o-meter but good nonetheless. We did stick to a vegan diet for the day except for some non-vegan peanut butter cookies that I justified under the excuse that they were made by a very good, and expensive local bakery and normally unaffordable but since these were on the day old rack… and now you see another way I justify sabotaging myself? Our “official” holiday dinner menu consisted of a vegan sausage and potato salad, a sour cucumber onion and dill salad, watermelon and homemade french bread. The potato salad was so darned good that I didn’t even miss having barbecue!
- 1 pound red potatoes
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces vegan kielbasa or Italian “sausage”, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/4 cup walla walla or vidalia onions, chopped
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 clove garlic, large, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add whole potatoes; boil about 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool. Cut potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a large bowl.
In a large skillet, heat the 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Brown the vegan sausage (I used Tofurkey kielbasa). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Add sausage to the bowl with the potatoes along with celery and onions.
For the dressing, in a small container use a hand blender to whip together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper until thick and creamy. If you do not have a hand or wand blender you can use a whisk. However using a hand blender produces a thick creamy product like a flavored mayo while whisking will not. Add the dressing, celery and green onions to the potato mixture and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Well, I finally sat down and made out my yearly canning wish list so that I know what to keep an eye out for at local farmer’s markets and produce stands:
- Tomatoes (chopped)
- Butter Beans
- Navy Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
- Refrigerator Pickles
- My Secret Recipe Green Beans
- Dilled Carrots
- Boston Bakes Beans
- Tomato Baked Beans
- Fruit (various)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Blackberry/Strawberry/Raspberry Lemonade Concentrate
- Okra Stew
- Tomato Gravy
- Soup (Beans and Greens)
- Soup (Minestrone)
- Soup (Split Pea)
- Salmon Chowder Base
- Tropical Sauce
- Various Herb Pestos
Saturday we picked up 28 lbs of Roma tomatoes from a produce stand in Edmonds. Although they are not organic, which would have been my preference, I couldn’t pass up tomatoes at ~$0.61/lb. At least they aren’t on the Dirty Dozen list so I feel marginally better about that at least. We also got our hands on our first pickling cucumbers of the season and using 3 extra-large jars were able to can our first batch of about 7 quarts of my world-famous “SpongeBob’s Crispylicious and Oh-So-Garlicky Refrigerator Pickles”. A recipe that started as a lazy way to get rid of the last of some pickling cukes and leftover pickling brine and turned into the best pickle chips this side of Canter’s delicatessen. I had originally tried canning pickles (the kind you can store in the cupboard) but I realized that the reason I wasn’t impressed with them is the same reason I have NEVER liked any pickles that have been canned for long-term shelf-stability… they are cooked and no longer have that crispy texture that makes me go into a deep pickle swoon. There is a good reason that I have single-handedly kept Claussen in business all these years. Of course the downside the refrigerator pickles is that they must by definition be kept in the fridge and finding room for enough pickles to see me through the year when pickling cukes have limited availability is a challenge. I should state that I do plan on water bath canning a few quarts of pickles as I like to have that type around for my Polish Dill Pickle Soup. And if you have never tried a creamy and warm potato and dill pickle soup with crusty bread on a cold night you have never really experienced life as it should be lived… with pickles.
On Sunday I was able to harvest about 5lbs of purple kale, rainbow chard, and sorrel. I’ve sautéed the chard with some smoked salt and veggie seasoning from the Farmer’s market to serve over pasta, storing it in the fridge for impromptu eating. The sorrel and some miner’s lettuce has been turned into vegan sorrel pesto which I froze into ice-cube trays for storage in the freezer since you really cannot home can anything with a high oil content for safety reasons and the purple kale will go into home canned minestrone soup.
Interruption: ACK! ACK! ACK! I set the bags of fresh greens on the table and after dinner we went to reach for the bottle of mineral water and sitting right on top of the bottle cap with his antlers fully extended and a very excited look on his face was a SNAIL! I have to go faint now. I made Miss Skinny Pants release him back into the wild… hopefully in the neighbor’s yard and then bleach the bottle cap. Have I mentioned that snails and slugs and really anything from the one-foot-and-a-slime-trail genre gives me a seizure? Except Lowly Worm. He wore a shoe and a hat and was considerate about not leaving slime. Okay, and now we’re back…
After putting it out there that I needed a counter top composting bin I was able to find a nice ceramic one for $3.00 at Deseret Industries. AND, just as good, after reluctantly leaving Ian McDonald’s Desolation Road at Barnes & Noble the other night because it was $17.00 before taxes and the other CV has been sent home from work for an indefinite time while they sort out some kind of legal nonsense among the contractors and suits, I stumbled across it used today for only $4.00 when we stopped in at Third Place Commons in Lake Forest Park for some pickle sushi after working at the P-Patch all afternoon (yes, it’s really real and yes I had two orders of it). I discovered Third Place Books was having a 40% off sale on used books today. TPC is also a most excellent place for free and low-cost entertainment. Aside from the people watching, which is excellent, today there was a showing of Lilo & Stitch with popcorn and bean bags provided. Later in July we will be heading back over for a night of live Scandinavian Polka and vegan brownies. I mean really people, you can’t make this stuff up. Another night will be a 17 piece swing band and on Saturday mornings, Tai Chi… to help me with my chubby balance.
Okay, I’m off to make a crustless apricot pie and some dill pickle rye bread.
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.
Yes, it’s true. I do miss liverwurst, that most mocked of German sausages. Because nothing says home-cooking like pink pureed meat things in a plastic casing. , And actually, I miss braunshweiger too now that I think about it, the smoked version of liverwurst. Which, if you know me is odd, as I would generally rather undergo some sort of painful dental procedure in the nude than eat liver. Whoever first looked at some unfortunate prey’s jiggly insides and thought, “Mmmm, I’ll eat the part that looks like a big purple tongue” should have been kicked off the island. Nasty nasty stuff. But, thanks to mom and the mayo-riffic white bread and liverwurst sandwiches of my youth, I do have a weakness for liver processed beyond any resemblance to anything occurring in nature. It is also likely the basis for my love of deviled ham spread and vienna sausages in a can. And Spam. Let’s not forget spam, which I have been informed was popular in the south pacific in part because it tastes the most like people. Because if you weren’t vegan before…
So while I was poking around the internet looking for a tasty lentil spread to add to my vegan sandwich making repertoire I stumbled upon a recipe for mock chopped liver and immediately figured I could easily convert that to a mock liverwurst. About 18 months ago I purchased a book called Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing. I know it seems a bit weird to be using a meat book on a vegan diet but this has some of the best sausage recipes and I see no reason not to convert as many as possible to vegan/vegetarian options. I’ve used it to make breakfast sausage, including maple chicken sausage patties as well as homemade bratwurst. That one was more of a challenge since I don’t have casings or a stuffer. I ended up making meatballs out of the “filling” and serving them on egg noodles and it was superb. I think it’s all just a matter of changing your mindset and not letting yourself get locked into doing things the traditional or accepted way. If you can’t do it the way tradition or a recipe dictates then find another way around. Do something totally unexpected. You never know what you might discover.
or, as I like to call it… Liverbest! or Lentilwurst!…
1 cup lentils (I used brown lentils)
2 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp sage, marjoram, nutmeg and smoked black pepper
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoon nayonaise
1 tsp onion powder
salt to taste, or smoked sea salt if you cannot find smoked pepper.
In a pot, boil the lentils in 2 1/2 cups water. Lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the lentils soften. Drain the lentils and let cool. In a food processor, blend together the drained lentils and remaining ingredients except nayonaise. Do NOT liquefy-leave somewhat chunky, chunky being relative as liverwurst is pretty homogenized and fine grain. Stir in the nayonaise, and salt to taste. Cover and chill. The spread I mean. Although you may chill as well. With a beer if you like. Whatever blows smoke up your skirt.
* UPDATE: This stuff looks like chopped liver if my memory of what chopped liver at Canter’s Deli looks like is correct. I couldn’t get it as pureed as I wanted and still keep it thick enough to work as liverwurst. As far as taste goes this is a real winner. It does taste like what it’s supposed to taste like actually. I may try it with a bit of that turkish black salt to give it that hint of iron and sulphur that gives liver it’s liveriness if I can ever find some. I may be forced to buy it on the internet.
One more recipe for the day. I, being a lover of all things Thanksgiving with the possible exception of overly tight bonnets and large-buckled shoes, feel that any time is the right time for stuffing. And in that vein I am making snack stuffing. Yes, I said snack. Because who doesn’t like to snack on stuffing?
SpongeBob’s Summertime Apricot Snack Stuffing
2 large onion, chopped
4 large celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup dried peaches, chopped (or you can use prunes or sour cherries)
1 or 2 cups of your favorite broth, depending on how moist you like your stuffing. I used “chicken”.
1 cube of vegan butter, melted
1 box (2 bags) Mrs. Cubbison’s Stuffing Mix
5 or 6 fresh apricots, pitted and chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute the onions, celery and dried fruit together until onions are soft. Mix in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients and toss until liquids are well distributed. Lightly oil an 8×8 inch baking pan and scoop stuffing into pan. Do not pack down too tightly. Bake uncovered until hot and a nice crust forms on top. Grab the first bowl of this because other people eat it and then you don’t get any. But I’m not bitter about that!
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!
When we first got word from our former landlord that he was losing the condo to foreclosure and we would need to move I spent a considerable amount of time in a state of high anxiety convinced that we were looking down the barrel of living in either a freezer box on the street or perhaps one of those weekly hotels with rental sheets and a generous sprinkling of prostitutes and crack addicts. Now is probably the time to admit that in my mental world everyone online is thinner and better looking than me, everyone I went to high school with more successful, every prospective tenant more appealing and with better credit and every other job applicant more qualified. It’s exciting to be me, no? Thankfully, we are NOT living with cardboard walls or fending off the tempting money-making offers of street pimps but after this move the life of a wandering mendicant is looking more and more like a practical lifestyle choice. Whoever recommended moving a freezer with the food still in it so that nothing defrosts needs to be slapped really hard with a frozen mackerel. And what’s with all the boxes? I dump them in the garage and then every time I go back in there… more boxes. It is clear to me that they are breeding in there. And the old condo is like Mary Poppins bag, every time we reach in and take something out something else appears. At this rate we won’t be done moving until… maybe… Christmas??? Okay, I vented enough now. And truly I am thankful for the beautiful home and wonderful landlord we have found.
This last week has been an exciting and challenging one in so far as cooking has been more difficult in terms of both prep ( I can’t find all my kitchen stuff) and finding the time and energy to cook. But we have actually made some really tasty and relatively easy to prepare meals given the circumstances. One night we made a quick vegan curry “stew” served over red Thai Hom Mali rice using S&B Golden Curry mix with potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, home canned butter beans and chunks of delicata squash. The great thing about using
delicata is that even though it is a “winter squash” the skin is thin and edible making it a breeze to use in stews and soups. Another night I chunked up a half-dozen tomatoes, some onions, red peppers, garlic and zucchini and simmered it all, no water, with some Italian herbs. When it had cooked down we added sautéed meatless Italian sausage chunks from Trader Joe’s and sliced green olives. I think of it as my Puttanesca Stew… which I was thrilled to find out means “Whore’s” stew. I think that has a certain ring to it. Last night I made a Mexican cornbread casserole by mixing Trader Joe’s soy chorizo with roasted corn, diced onions and peppers a little enchilada sauce and topping it all with cornbread batter and baking it. On the side I made a green salad of romaine hearts, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, black olives and red onion slivers. The dressing I made by tossing some tofu, half an avocado, the juice of one lemon, jarred guacamole mix and some water in the blender. It made a wonderfully creamy Mexican style avocado dressing. Topped with cracked pepper the salad was a real winner.
We have taken real advantage of Freecycle the week (see the link on the right), using it to re-home many of our moving boxes as well some items we didn’t need or no longer have any use for. It’s been a real godsend not having to either throw these things out or haul them away and that doesn’t even take into account that these items are going to someone who needs them. It’s another step in our effort to consume and waste less. I was also able to find a second-hand shower chair that retails new at Home Depot for $90 in perfect condition for $10 as well as a gorgeous, nice condition overstuffed reading chair for $40 at our local Goodwill.
Hopefully tomorrow I can start posting normally again, including real recipes and ideas and such. We have done well sticking to our vegan plan this week but we have modified it to include occasional fish which I realize makes it a non vegan diet but thankfully the world is still a place where we can make our own rules and labels for ourselves. Perhaps we should consider calling ourselves “vegish”? Yeah, we’re vegish, I like that! Of course that means we’d have to change the blog title to Two Chubby Vegishes. What exactly IS the plural of a vegish? Vegi? Ah well… more mysteries to ponder!
It suddenly occurs to me that somewhere in here (probably subconsciously AND on purpose) I failed to mention that I had a MAJOR slip-up some days ago. Yes, that’s right, not only did I blow my vegan choice but I actually bought and consumed fast food, something I haven’t done in almost 2 years. Normally I try to keep some sort of snack like dried fruit, tomato strips, sandwich, etc. in my backpack to head off the temptation for anything “fast” but I was out and about unexpectedly, failed to pack a snack AND let myself get overly hungry. To be fair, I immediately confessed my sins to the other vegan, who in a fit of supportive sensitivity, gasped, fell backward, clasped her chest like she was having some sort of cardiac episode and stage-whispered my name in the same sort of way that your mother might upon discovering you’ve sold small handicapped children on the black-market. And so now I am reminding myself just exactly what I consumed… NOT a tasty treat that tickles my tastebuds and leaves my tummy singing it’s burger-iffic praises, but 720 calories (the equivalent of 2 large vegan meals), 44 g of fat (a whole days worth on a “recommended” diet but about 4 times what I have on my vegan diet) and 1240 mg of sodium (stroke anyone?). And none of that takes into account the other issues… sugar-filled buns made with white flour, thin-skinned veggies with high pesticide content and possibly contaminated with E Coli or Listeria if the farmer hasn’t been careful, pre-formed meat with high fat content from factory farmed cows fed grain, chemically altered with added “flavoring” and God only knows what else so that all whoppers everywhere taste the same, cheese that isn’t really cheese at all and condiments swimming with fat and sugar. I may as well have brewed up a hot cup of lard, sugar and salt now that I think about it. *Note: I did not pick on the pickles. I never have a bad word to say about pickles. I am, I confess, a pickle supremacist.
NOW, moving forward… having discovered a most tasty vegan tuna salad recipe (which is included in an earlier post and is even better with the addition of even more kelp powder) I am moving on to one of my other most-missed sandwich venues, egg salad. I am going to try a tofu egg salad recipe from online. This looks even simpler than the vegan tuna salad but will require that I search out and find some Turkish Sea Salt to give the salad that familiar sulphury taste that is imparted by the eggs in the egg salad. I’ve also noticed that humus often has a similar taste to the filling in a deviled egg and am wondering if there is a way to combine the 2 recipes to make a really kick ass version. Alas it will have to wait until this evening however so that I can pick up some celery. I also want to look for some no-fat nasoya as I suddenly realized I am out of no fat mayo and have packed up my food processor. Poor planning on my part . (I never did find the turkish black salt… my search continues. I tried mixing the hummus into my egg salad recipe and that didn’t cut it, I wasn’t impressed. I still far prefer the mock tuna salad, as do the non-vegans I cook for who were impressed with how tuna-y the mock tuna was.)
Last night I made a cottage pie that was pretty simple. I made a filling of frozen peas, fresh diced carrots, one leftover zucchini (diced), a can of baby limas, a can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes and TVP I soaked in vegetarian “beef” broth. Then I made a gravy using more vegetarian “beef” broth seasoned with onion, garlic, thyme and oregano and thickened with cornstarch. I mixed the filling and the gravy and dumped it into my dutch oven and then topped the whole thing with mashed yukon gold potatoes made with a bit of unsweetened almond milk and sea salt and baked it at 400 degrees for 45 mins covered and another 15 uncovered. Served with a side of halved brussel sprouts sauteed with some Pele’s Fire Hawaiian seasoning, we ended up eating the ENTIRE thing.
Okay, back to moving…
* 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
We have signed the paperwork for our new house and all that remains is to deliver the rent check and start moving in. Now, instead of trying to can during the summer in a 3rd floor condo with southern exposure and very little ventilation we have a gorgeous little wood framed house with a small but open and bright kitchen, a wood-paneled breakfast nook with built-in cookbook shelves and corner cupboards, and plenty of gardening space in the yard. Now, I have to admit that I won’t be canning knotweed there this year as the knotweed we picked is not suitable for canning now. The condo we are in is being sold by our landlord and in a frenzied attempt to straighten up before another realtor showed up we stashed the bags of knotweed and I forgot about them until it was too late. I feel terrible about the waste but I suppose the community garden is happy we thinned put the pesky “invasive” at least. On a happier note, I am already gardening at the new house (Thank you to A and pbA) and I took over some boysenberry plants, raspberry, scarlet runner beans, and garlic chives. I also did some more clearing of the blackberry brambles and clipped the neighbors overhanging trees to give the rhubarb growing along the side of the garage more sun and air. Well, that and me better access to it without the danger of slashing myself to ribbons on the blackberry thorns. Right now I look like I shaved my legs with a steak knife. I’m hoping to pick up a huckleberry plant, lilac bush, jasmine and perhaps an antique coral colored rose in memory of my nana, who loved roses. So we move in on Saturday the 28th and I can hardly wait!
Thankfully, I’ve had no slip-ups with meat or cheese since the last one I posted. It’s so much easier when I simply don’t have the meat or dairy in the house at all. We stopped by Trader Joe’s last night to pick up some staples… unsweetened vanilla almond milk for coffee, apricots, super firm tofu, veggies, vegan cookies called “Cafe Twists”, and some apricot Pyramid Ale to help me pack. One of the things I like about TJ’s is that you can click on the vegan logo on their product page and it will give you a list of every vegan product in the store listed by category. VERY helpful when making out a shopping list. Right now I’m marinating the super firm tofu in vegan chicken broth with herbs so that I can use it to make a Fresh Tofu and Apricot Tagine that I’m basing on a chicken and apricot tagine recipe I found in this month’s Clean Eating Magazine. The recipe has it being served over regular couscous but I don’t care for the tiny little couscous and am going to use either israeli couscous or quinoa. I also made another batch of my faux tuna salad. I tried making my tofu mayo with extra firm tofu instead of silken, and although the silken gives a much creamier texture (the extra firm looks, if not tastes, a little grainy) the firmer tofu made for a stiffer mayo. I found the silken mayo too runny. I also switched from brown to yellow mustard in the mayo recipe and found the flavor a bit more mild and mayo-like without that undercurrent of horseradish that you get with spicy mustards. If it turns out okay I will post the recipe and a picture tomorrow.
Now that summer is closer (I won’t say arrived yet as I don’t want to jinx anything and start the rain up again) my mouth is
starting to get ready for stone fruits, berries, fresh salads and tomatoes. I also can’t wait to start experimenting with garden produce, especially now that we have more garden space. Our purple kale,
golden beets, rapini and rainbow chard are going like gangbusters already, the miner’s lettuce, squash seeds and chinese mustard not so much. That last one can’t get a start before the bugs nibble all the
leaves off. I suspect snails. I ALWAYS suspect snails. Ok, I admit it, I have snail prejudice. They have slime and for their size, enormous poop and even bigger eggs. And they leaves them everywhere. AACCCKKKK. We also planted celery root for the first time this year and it seems to be doing well. I am waiting on mexican sour gherkins from the nursery and plan on putting in tomato starts soon. We’ve planted 2 catnip starts but I have come to the conclusion that their must be a cougar with a catnip problem roaming the community garden because every time I go to weed/water, the poor catnip is chewed on, snapped off and generally mauled.
I am signing off with a haiku in honor of today’s predicted apocalypse since I won’t be attending our local “end of the world” party:The world is ending I have weapons and canned goods Where are the zombies?