Saturday, April 30, 2011

Serious Vegetables

It's time for some serious vegetables.  For the past 2 weeks I've tried to only purchase fresh foods from the co-op.  I'm king of doing a pantry challenge, but instead of NO grocery shopping, I'm buying plenty of fruits and vegetables to pair with my various pantry items that need to get cleared out.

One of my current vegetable loves are the new microgreens from Finally Farms in Minnesota.  I really enjoyed this micro arugula with a little lemon and olive oil, but it really doesn't even need any dressing!  In the background there is a broccoli, mushroom and tofu scramble.

Here's the easiest make-ahead salad ever.  I cooked up a huge pot of quinoa and used about half in a salad and reserved half for other meals during the week. For the salad I added chopped up cucumber, carrot, parsley, basil and onion to the quinoa and dressed it with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.  So simple and so good.  We had this for dinner one night and brought it in our lunch boxes, too.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Great Party

The sign of a great party?

Three kinds of fermented cabbage for your (vegan) hotdog.  How many parties have this?  I'm pretty lucky to have friends like Heather and Jesse.

Heather's birthday party was a juicing party and I think that everyone needs to hear about this idea and copy it!  I take no credit for it at all.  They had a juicer whirring all night!  There were "house juices" already made (grapefruit, apple-celery, and orange) and everyone got to combine any fruit or vegetable to make their own signature drink, with or without alcohol.

How many parties do you go to that are centered around fruits and vegetables?  Not many, I'm guessing.  What a great way to promote fruits and veggies!

Sure, not every party needs to have a public health message...But I think this is the coolest idea ever!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mango Ginger Pound Cake (GF)

This cake is seriously good.   I needed to make a cake for a friend last week and wanted to do something a little different- hence the mango ginger flavor.  Plus, pound cake is the best. 

I used the vanilla-yogurt pound cake recipe from Veganomicon and just subbed some flours to make the cake gluten free and mango-y and ginger-y.

Mango Ginger Pound Cake 
adapted from Veganomicon

1 cup vanilla soy yogurt
3/4 cup almond milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1.5 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground dried ginger
1/2 ripe mango, peeled and diced

Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease and flour (with white rice flour) a loaf pan.  In a quart jar, combine yogurt, milk, sugar, oil, vanilla and fresh ginger.  In a large bowl, whisk together flours, starch, xanthan, baking powder, baking soda, salt and dried ginger.  Add the liquid mixture from the jar to the bowl and stir until fully combined.  Fold in the mango pieces.  Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top with wet (clean) hands.  Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

As soon as pan is cool enough to handle, invert pan and remove loaf to a cooling rack.  Cool completely.
Serve as is or with a drizzle of frosting on top.  I like to whisk together some of the orange glaze from the orange scones recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance, except with ginger instead of orange zest.  Yum!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easy Weeknight Meal

Easy weeknight meal: steamed broccoli, made-ahead quinoa tabbouli, crockpot beans with sundried tomatoes

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Crazy good 2012 melt at Modern Times Cafe. Piles of seitan. Garlic fries. Oh, yes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shiitake Logs!!!

This past week I talked the whole family into helping me with a project.  The stars must have been aligned or something, because no one even complained.  This is especially remarkable because the project was setting up logs for growing shiitake mushrooms and I'm the only one in the family who likes them.  The kids won't even touch mushrooms.  

First, I marked the logs where I wanted the holes drilled- basically they just needed to be spaced apart in a diamond pattern.

Then Mike drilled the holes for me because he's the best partner ever.  They had to be 7/16 of an inch diameter and 1 inch deep to fit the little shiitake plugs.  

One of my sweet boys helped by pushing the plugs into the holes...until it was time to practice his instrument and play Wii! 

And now I just wait.  Once these are fully inoculated and start fruiting, they'll produce for at least 3 years.  Then the magical healing powers of the shiitakes will take over my body and I'll live forever!  Muahhhaaahhhaaa!

Note: I got the shiitake plugs from Field & Forest Products.  They were at The Organic Farming Conference teaching a workshop- How could I resist?    

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chile Puree

I promised you a recipe to use up any leftover chile puree/pulp from your enchiladas and I'm delivering.  This mild chile puree is packed with roasty toasty deep chile flavor and there's no way I could just strain it for use in enchiladas and discard the leftover pulp.  That would be just plain wrong.

Here's how I used my chile puree- I imagine it would be a great addition to about 800 other recipes, too.

Chipotle White Bean & Sausage Soup
I love chipotle chilies, but can only use a bit without setting my mouth on fire.  This soup uses the chipotle flavor and heat from some Field Roast sausages, but backs it up with mild chile flavor so it feels like chiles are a primary ingredient, without the searing heat!

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, sliced into thick rounds
1.5 cups cannellini beans, soaked overnight
1 chipotle style Field Roast meatless sausage, sliced into rounds
1 quart vegetable broth
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup mild roasted chile pulp
Salt to taste

In a pressure cooker, heat olive oil and then add onions.  Saute until lightly browned, then add garlic and carrot.  Cook just a minute or so- don't burn the garlic!  Add the soaked and drained beans, sausage, broth, cumin and chiles.  Seal up the pressure cooker, bring up to pressure and cook 5 minutes.  Use cold running water on the exterior of the cooker to bring down pressure completely.  Then unlock, stir and salt to taste.  Soup should be rich and chile-brothy, with a bit of a kick.  This is fantastic with corn bread!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Enchilada Love

For as much as I love enchiladas, I don't make them nearly enough.  And there aren't a ton of restaurants that will make enchiladas that are vegan or with local, organic cheese.  So I think it's been over a year since I've had any.  That's just wrong.

In my opinion, the key to good enchiladas is a good enchilada sauce.  I usually just wing it- blending up some chiles, tomatoes (or tomatillos), onions and garlic.  But today I wanted to go a bit more traditional and used this recipe.  I used dried New Mexican chiles, though, because that's what I had.  And I doubled the recipe.  And I added 1/2 an onion and 3 cloves of garlic.  And a smidge of maple.  Oh, hell.  I'll just type it out.

Enchilada Sauce
8 dried New Mexican chiles, seeds removed
Hot water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. ground clove
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. maple syrup (if needed)
Salt to taste

In a dry skillet, toast de-seeded chiles for just a bit - don't let them burn!  Then remove the chiles to a bowl or pan and cover in hot water.  Leave to soak for about 10 minutes.  Heat up the same skillet and add the olive oil.  Add the onions and saute until lightly browned.  Add the garlic and saute a minute more.

Drain the chiles, reserving the soaking liquid.

Combine onion/garlic mixture with the chiles, all the spices and 2 cups of the reserved chile soaking liquid in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Taste the sauce.  If it's a bit bitter, add in the maple syrup.  Salt to taste.

Strain the sauce through a sieve, reserving the chile pulp.  [Note: I don't have a fancy blender, so I had a fair amount of pulp.  I'll write about how I used this in another recipe next!]

Heat the strained sauce and simmer about 10 minutes.  Then use your sauce to make enchiladas!


I don't have a real recipe for the enchiladas.  Basically I just dipped my organic corn tortillas in the sauce and filled them with kidney beans, spinach, corn and local/organic cheese.

Then I covered the whole pan in the leftover sauce.  I could drink this enchilada sauce, it's so good.  But I restrained myself.

And I don't even have a photo of these all baked up and bubbly, because by the time I got home from work, three quarters of the pan was devoured!

But you can imagine it, right?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Getting Dirty

Just look at this soil!
I spent the day pruning raspberry and blackberry canes, the apple tree and the lilacs. I crunched up last year's dried cucumber vines and bean stems into the compost and spread the last of the composted manure in the beds. I did a little digging and said hello to about a half dozen wiggly pink worms in every shovelful. I could sit and stare at this soil for hours.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mango Habanero Salsa

A few weeks ago my friend Joe brought over a really fantastic pineapple-habanero dish that we devoured with tortilla chips.  His mom is from Trinidad and he told us stories of eating this made with super fresh pineapples on the beach.  It tastes like pure sunshine.  Sweet, tart, hot and bright!  I decided to try to replicate this sweet-hot salsa/salad myself, but ended up changing it a bit out of necessity.  I planned on making this just as Joe did, but my pineapple wasn't ripe!  Luckily, I had a ripe mango and just threw that in instead.  Joe tells me that my adaptation stays true to the Trinidadian original.

PS- If you don't know how to cut a mango, you can see my buddies Joe and Nick teach you how!

Mango-Habanero Salsa/Salad 
It's a salsa/salad because it's good with chips, but you can eat it straight up, too.  (Like many of my favorite things)

2 ripe mangoes, cut in small cubes 
1/2 onion, minced
1 habanero chile, seeds removed, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 big handful cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime

Mix everything together.  Eat.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gluten-Free, Vegan, Root Beer Banjo Cake

I'm not sure how many banjo-playing, mostly vegan, gluten free folks who love root beer there are out there.  But if you know someone who fits this description, then please make them this cake- Mike loved his!

Gluten-Free, Vegan Root Beer Cake
This recipe will make enough for 2 banjo cakes, which I recommend doing in case you mess one up (I did).  Choose your favorite vanilla frosting for this.

1 bottle Virgil's root beer (or other all-natural variety)
1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of each ground spice: Nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. mint extract
1/2 cup nondairy milk
Homemade vanilla frosting
1 handful of chocolate chips

Pour root beer into a small saucepan and simmer until reduced to about 1 cup (about 10 minutes).  Set aside to cool.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Line the bottom of 2 little 4" springform pans with parchment and grease the sides with a little oil.  Do the same to a loaf pan.

Whisk together the millet flour, rice flour, starch, xanthan, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the canola oil, sugar, vanilla, mint extract, milk and cooled root beer until the sugar is dissolved.  Add liquid to the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.  Spoon batter into the two round pans and loaf pan.  Smooth the top with wet fingers to prevent the batter from sticking to you.  Bake for about 20 -25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pans and carefully invert (for the loaf pan) or release the sides (springform).  Allow to cool completely.

To form into a banjo cake, cut the loaf cake in half lengthwise to form two "necks".  If you want to get detailed and carve a shapely peghead, go right ahead.  I did and then found that my fluffy frosting covered it all up!

I made the Fluffy Vegan Buttercream from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but used 1 cup of Earth Balance margarine instead of 1/2 c. margarine and 1/2 c. shortening.  You do what you think is right.  You'll need to reserve about 1/2 cup of the frosting for the chocolate details.

After frosting both the round cakes and the "necks" with buttercream, place the neck firmly against the round cake on a serving platter.  Then just melt a handful of chocolate chips with a smidge of nondairy milk (like 1 Tbsp.) and whisk into about 1/2 cup of the leftover frosting.  Spoon this into a plastic baggie and snip off a teensy tinesy bit off the tip so you can pipe on the strings, bridge, frets, and hardware.

Serve with rootbeer and old-time music!