30 September 2006

Pesto Part III and IV, Ray's Birthday and More...

Pesto Part III and IV: This is how it started... I was too lazy to actually make dinner the other night and was happy that I had 3 servings for the two of us of VwaV's corn chowder leftover in the freezer. I also had just less than 1/2 a loaf of bread leftover. I decided to just heat the soup up and dunk the bread into it = dinner. All of a sudden, I lost my mind and decided that it was completely out-of-my-element for me to not be running around the kitchen like a mad-lady doing 40-million things at once. I decided I must take on some sort of task. So much for laziness... that's when I remembered the basil was dying. I absolutely love Dreena's sundried tomato pesto with pine nuts and almonds that I have been testing over and over, probably about 20 times by now. I can't wait for the cookbook to come out for my personal selfish reasons, but also for you all to try this amazing sauce. I decided to take Crystal's pesto idea and pre-make pestos to freeze for a later date. What a freaking good idea.

I didn't have any almonds in the freezer so I loaded up on pine nuts to sub for it. I made a whole batch and froze it up. I still had plenty of basil leftover, but not quite enough to make a whole entire batch of Classic Pesto from VwaV. It is basically basil and walnuts and a few other ingredients, so I halved the recipe and added even more walnuts than called for in the full recipe! It came out so wonderful that I decided freezing it was a terrible idea and I had to eat it right away. So, dinner that night was corn chowder, leftover whole wheat something bread with Classic Pesto. It was fabulous. I also highly recommend this pesto mixed with balsamic vinegar. I really couldn't wait to eat the sundried tomato pesto that I premade and froze, so we ended up having that over whole wheat pasta the next night. I really enjoyed just taking it out of the freezer and heating it up. Funny, because the pesto isn't cooked in the original recipe, it is actually quicker to make it all at once in the blender than the time it takes to heat it up from frozen. Oh well, I didn't have a mess...

Someone around here had a birthday on Tuesday...
It was a nice day for Ray. He had class all day through the evening but we took out his favorite pizza (mine, cheeseless) and had vegan chocolate cake, ice cream and other fine treats and presents. It was a nice evening. I always like to decorate the house the night before soon after he falls asleep... I decked out his bass and music stand (which you can't see) too. Jess, do you recognize the poster?!
Next up, date bars. We get semi-locally grown dates from Yuma, AZ. I just say semi-local because even though it is in the same state, Yuma is quite a drive from here and practically bordering Mexico. I love these dates and supporting a family farm (of dates) and instead of about $6 a pound, they are $3. I bought 2 pounds and made 4 types of bars. They all are made with the same base, mejdool dates, agave nectar and rolled oats, all organic of course. First up we have cranberry pecan. Then to the right of that is chocolate chip cinnamon. Then cashew cocoa slash coconut and finally peanut butter chocolate chip. They are all wonderful and were super-quick and easy to make. Great for heavy-duty snacks.
Yay avocados! Miriam, look! This is the last batch of special seasonal hass avocados that we are getting at the co-op. They are $1.39 each and I quickly bought four. You all can see the two in the middle, those are now ripe and I bought them a few days ago. They are seriously 1/2 the size and the same price as the avocados I just bought today. I am sad to see them go... That's why I'm loading up and I am so happy they are huge!
Tomorrow, Sunday October 1, is World Vegetarian Day! Please spread the word to everyone you know and celebrate... wait, we do that daily, right?! Anyway, if you really want to celebrate there are super-cool festivals going on in most awesome cities (aka, not here).


laura jesser said...

I've been thinking about jumping on the pesto bandwagon as well... Very cool about the figs (not one of my favorites, though) and about the avocados (definitely one of my favorites!). And, I've been thinking about World Vegetarian Day and I wish there was a festival here--it's a pretty awesome city otherwise. But Bob and I will have to celebrate on our own, I guess.

Julie said...

Those date bars look soo yum! Are the dates from Dateland or whatever that little city is called?


Judy said...

The date bars look fantastic! I had a fresh date addiction last spring, but I kicked it. Then I found fresh dates in the grocery store again a few days ago...
Avocados are wonderful, esp. in smoothies!

bazu said...

Happy world vegetarian day, Leslie!
And happy belated birthday to Ray!

Your cooking certaintly is a celebration. I love pesto and avocadoes so much...hmmm, do I feel a combination coming on?
And your date bars are an inspirations- I definitely want some. I love snacks that are so friggin' wholesome and good.

Anonymous said...

Everything looks so good. I've been eating pesto in just about everything lately! It's so good. And when I make it with soymilk instead of all the olive oil (I blogged about this once), it's so much less fattening that I don't even feel guilty.

Anyway, I bought a few dates a while back (yes, at $6/pound) and haven't done anything with them. I'm going to do a little cooking marathon today so maybe I'll fit in some date bars. I'm drooling over yours!

Dreena said...

Happy Birthday to Ray! (goodness you are young pups - 24!!!)

... and Happy Veggie Day to you too!


theONLYtania said...

Well happy late birthday to Ray!

And.. Miles Davis poster?

The date bars look AWESOME. I really want to make something like that. I don't know anything about dates though or what to look for.

Eat Peace Please said...

Laura, do go for some pesto. It's awesome. I wish we had better basil. I'm about to go hunt for some. I really just wanna grab some from Crystal's house!

Julie, dateland sounds familiar, but I'm not sure. They have them at the co-op and they are still 2.99/lb. Get some!

Judy, the 6th avocado may just have to go in a smoothie (I already know what I'm doing with the first 2, guac; the other 3, guac...). I've never had an avocado smoothie.

Bazu, no, there's no combo going on here. Yuck. The date bars are great finger-food snacks. And great to take along in a sack when going somewhere with no food or crappy food.

Crystal, the only time I had soymilk with pesto was Dreena's creamy walnut pesto or something like that. It was too creamy for me but a bit of it may be ok. I don't mind the good fats. I'm looking forward to what you are doing with the dates... after your little dress-up gig, who knows what you will be up to!

Dreena, young pups! That's cute. I'm a year and a half older than Ray (and two school years). I'm on my way to being 26 and he just turned 24. Thanks for the wishes.

Tania, yep, that's Miles. What do you want to know about them? There are so many varieties. I googled dates to remember where mine were from and I can't believe the dedication there is to them. I am still a newbie in a way and stick with medjool.

kris said...

The pesto looks incredible. I love pesto so much. I should make some and eat it with TJ's bruschetta and some crusty bread. Mmmm, that sounds so good. I can't wait to get Dreena's pesto recipe. I like playing with variations.

Happy birthday to Ray! Another September baby! And he's such a cutie too. Look at you, robbing the cradle. ;)

Your date bars look delicious. Did they come from the co-op? Are they all settled into their new space? I imagine that it's bigger than the old place.

Mmm, avocados. You'll have to post what you do with 'em. More guac?

Megan the Vegan said...

happy birthday Ray.
Leslie - why do you keep almonds in the freezer? Is there some secret almond info I don't know about?
Your date bars look fantastic!

Anonymous said...

i love how the snacks looks, really yummy! i plant 3 little basil plants, now i just need to found a good vegan pesto recipe!

Urban Vegan said...

Any kind of pesto is my kind of pesto. Ditto pasta.

Amazing date bars, too.

Happy b'day 2 Ray. 24? He's getting up there. That was sweet how you decorated his bass.

Mary said...

Happy birthday Ray! You are so nice to him! Those dates look so good. I watched The Future of Food as per your recommendation and I can't eat non-organic food anymore. Sadly most of my diet will be non-organic because I simply cannot afford it. But now I am really going to buy as much organic as I possible can. I absolutely loved that movie. Thanks for posting about it!

Jody from VegChic said...

Yay pesto!

Your date bars look great. Fresh avocados...too bad they aren't natice to here. I did pick up some organic avocados at TJ's Friday. I'll be making some guac soon!

Happy birthday Ray!

Candi said...

Happy birthday to Ray!! How cute those decorations are!!

I love the pesto idea! I freeze them too now and love that it's a very easy clean up!

I am so curious about those date bars! I've never made anything like it. I have to look them up on the web. Do you use a recipe or do you make them up? I have to dig through all my recipe books to see if I have any in there. They look SO SO good!!!!!!

Julie said...

I got some dates at the Co-Op today! Will you give me specific instructions for your date bars?! Thanks!!

KleoPatra said...

Wow, Ray had quite a great b'day, it's obvious. Very nice!! Happy for both of you to be able to celebrate so nicely, Leslie. How fun you decorate the house for him. That is very sweet.

Love love love the date bars!! They look fantastic!

The pesto... mmmmmmmm!

Eat Peace Please said...


Kris, I made the date bars. The actual dates were from the co op. They haven't moved yet, the new just-to-tell-people-the-moving-date- date is supposed to be end of the month opening again early November. There have been political and financial issues (hmm, why does that not surprise me in this country?). They are moving to the SE corner of Southern and McClintock if you remember that crappy strip mall. It is supposed to be a bit smaller but with a better kitchen. Oh and, "robbing the cradle"... you cracked us both up. He is the youngest I have ever dated! The only 2 things I usually do with avocados is 1 make guac and 2 use them as a face/hair mask once in a while although Miriam (knockedupvegan) has been getting mad about number 2.

Megan, I keep all nuts and seeds in the freezer. They are perishable. Especially if cracked or opened. I just do it to be safe and they aren't frozen-frozen like you may imagine. They thaw in 30 seconds and you can pop one straight out of the freezer into your mouth and there isn't really a difference. I prefer it that way, tasty and safe.

Johana, I bet your basil is wonderful. I can give you a basic walnut pesto recipe that I made up myself but you will have to wait for Dreena's super-awesome one when her new book is out. Stay tuned!

Urban Vegan, thanks for the comments. I always decorate his music area, it's fun.

Mary, you can't ignore what you now know, right?! Try your best to find local organics they are cheapest. Find out if there are CSAs in the Tucson area, we don't have them up here but there are some organic produce companies that are great. I hope you find that organic foods have quality in so many ways and that you can find the resources you need to get organics at a fair price. Did you ever try splitting a bunch with a friend or neighbor? I keep track of store sales like no other.

Jody, thanks for your comments. I'll be looking for your pesto pics.

Candi, I'm posting about the dates below. Thanks for your comments and I hope you can make some date bars that you and Britty can snack on healthy and whole-y.

Julie, you must have cleared them out! I didn't see dates today. I go to the co op almost daily so I notice everything (I notice most everything anyway). Did you see the lack of huge avocados and then a ton of older smaller ones? All the same price! Oh, and if you ever feel like splurging and feeling hefty, try the "I can't believe it's vegan brownie" from the pre-made deli section. Jason makes them and they are amazing.


-2 pounds dates. Usually I work with 1 pound at a time.
-agave nectar (about 1/4 to 1/2c I just dump it in and estimate as I go)

Usually I mash with all my might with a fork and bowl but this time I used a food processor. I whizzed the dates up with the agave nectar and put it into 4 containers (since I was making 4 seperate types, you can just make 1 kind).

Then take out what you want in the bars.
-Oats are great binders. To make them semi-firm, use about 1c for 1 pound of dates. Depends how mushy you want them or not.
-Nuts and seeds are great for texture and flavor.
-dried fruit
-cocoa, carob and or cinnamon

I have made a variety of bars. I think adding what sounds good to you at the time makes the best bars, just add as you go (sorry for the total lack of recipe). For sure add oats or something good and thickening.

If you all click on the photo you can read the names of my combos. Add what you feel like, stir it all around and place the glob on parchment paper. Fold over and bang on it real hard until you form a block. Refrigerate for at least an hour (preferably overnight) and then cut into slices. Store them air-tight and they keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge. Does this make sense without a real recipe? Sometimes the best creations come out with throwing a few things of this and a few pinches of that...

Eat Peace Please said...

Kris (and AZ people), oops, I meant the co-op is moving to the SE corner of Southern and Mill. They were supposed to have moved early summer.

Vicki said...

happy b-day, ray! art's was 9/29. the date bars look fab - thanks for putting up the recipe.

funwithyourfood said...

aww happy b-day to Ray!!
Looks like you went all out with teh decorations ;)
I wanted to see the cake b/c who doesn't want to see cake?
looks like a funb bday bash


Anonymous said...

thanks for the bar recipe!:) i will love your basic pesto recipe!

JAM*tacular said...

Did I miss the date bar recipe/method...?

:) Mikaela