31 October 2006

Moroccan Chickpea Patties, Lentil-Quinoa Stew & The New #1

I think I have found something new to add to the list of foods I make over and over again. "Moroccan Chickpea Patties"!!! These wonders come from page 97 of Vive le Vegan, delicious and creative courtesy of Dreena. If you are like me and have never made these before and have owned the cookbook since it practically came out, make them very soon because you are missing out. I cannot wait to make them again! I served these with the recommended Ginger Dipping Sauce. So good...

I have had my eye on this recipe but passed it by many times due to the ingredient called fennel bulb, but if it weren't for the fennel incident, I would possibly never have tried these. After I decided to throw away all that nasty potato leek soup as described in the post below, I still had a fennel in the fridge that was lonely and yearning for my attention. I decided to email Dreena and asked for her suggestions for some non-oven fennel recipes. Among others, she suggested the Moroccan Chickpea Patties from one of my favorite cookbooks, and my tastebuds will never be the same again. I cannot give away too much, but just be prepared for some ginger, cinnamon, cumin and fennel = amazing.

Next up is some lentil-quinoa stew. Specifically, red lentil. I made this once or twice before but I believe I based it on a recipe or a few recipes combined. This time I just used what sounded good. I have a real recipe to provide (I'm on a roll, huh?!).
Leslie's Special Lentil Quinoa Stew
*yields aprox. 3 quarts (probably serves 6, I served 3 super-hungry people and have leftovers for 2 more)

1T olive oil
1 med-large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
5c total liquid (H2O, veg broth, etc)
1c red lentils, sorted and rinsed
1/2c quinoa, rinsed for 2 minutes
1t basil, dried
1t oregano, dried
1t sea salt
1t black pepper
2t salsa (or if you actually have real tomatoes use 1)
1/2t cilantro, dried, or 1/4c loose fresh
2T apple cider vinegar

Method: In a large stockpot on medium heat saute onions in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the veggies and spices and stir. Turn heat up to medium-high and add the water (or equiv), lentils and quinoa. Stir. Cover. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. With an immersion blender (or in 1/2 batches, carefully), puree only 1/2 of the soup. This step isn't necessary, but blends everything nicely (highly recommended). Turn off the heat and let it chill. Finally, add the salsa (or equiv), cilantro and apple cider vinegar. Stir and serve.
I bought my first sweet potato. I plan on making a soup from Nava Atlas' soup book which I love (more on that in another post). And an organic pumpkin. And 2 russets but those aren't exciting. I do have exciting purple creamer potoatoes in the pantry keepin' cool (yeah right) and dark. The stem came off the pumpkin, but I really don't know what to do with it since it needs to be un-baked. I am really more excited about looking at it than eating it. I'm not really a pumpkin-eating person. I do love the seeds though.
Yum. Need I say more?! Yes...
This is totally my new favorite ice cream flavor. I am super-happy that it finally made it over to AZ and I am even happier that I know someone who loves it just as much. This ice cream has also changed a few things in my ice-cream-standards world and it has moved up and kicked cookies and creme out of the #1 spot (for now?). I have mixed feelings about admitting this (as if I am really *admitting* anything), but I am on my second pint of Turtle Trails in barely over 24 hours. That's how freakin' good this is and I don't really say freakin so you must know how amazing this is... Imagine... thick, creamy swirls of caramel, not skimped at all, swirling around creamy vanilla with--- get this--- chocolate coated candied pecans and the candied part is made of beet sugar. All organic too. I can't get over how good this is.

At first my main reason for talking about the ice cream was the following (I got held up in describing how amazing it is): I knew this was coming one day soon, but it has slowly arrived... safety seals! I am so happy about this. For those who don't know, I've read books, been through microbiology labs, and I am picky, so I get concerned of my ice cream tops lifting off so simply. Ray eats StoneyField Farm organic (dairy but non-egg) ice cream and it has a plastic seal like yogurts have. This is hard to see in the photo, but it is a safety seal that uses minimal (I think?) plastic and is just around the outside of the lid. I feel so much better about eating ice cream now... I didn't even think it could get better. It has! The only 2 flavors I've seen so far that are safety sealed are the Turtle Trails and Cookies n Creme pint size. I am so happy about the new advances in the [soy] ice cream world.

28 October 2006

Authentic Faux-Baking, Piano, Tofu Scramble & A Disaster and a Half

I recently faux-baked some apple crisp and it came out wonderful. The fake-coming-from-the-oven-smell was exactly what I needed after almost a year with no oven usage. The very next day I decided to faux-bake again, and this time it was the real deal. I'll get to that in a minute... First a non-food rant: I would like to exclaim how happy I am that we (Ray and I) have an electric piano (aka, not a crappy keyboard with a lot of stupid buttons and sounds, yet not a performance piano). It came at an odd moment, I'd been thinking about playing again recently since I was taught to play at an early age. I really miss it in a weird way. Now, don't think I can really play, I can't. I can just read music (to a point) and play mostly with my right hand... Ray, on the other hand is a musician, a music student, a teacher, and a music-student-teacher. He needs the piano for various reasons (as well as his double basses, electric bass, violin, viola, cello next semester, trumpet, and we have even had an oboe, bassoon and french horn here). I love it. I have mastered "Puff the Magic Dragon", a Danish Folk Song, and "Conjunction Junction" and have moved on to the Real Book vol. 4 (I think), therefore I can now play "Autumn Leaves" and I am sort-of working on "So What" and a few other jazz tunes that I probably shouldn't say I can play. But it is really fun. We had to move Killian's condo and his box (see below) and he is surprisingly very happy about that.

Back to the authentic faux-baking. I have been wanting to try a Grunt for a long time. I've never heard of such a thing and I hear these are confused with cobblers, as well as being popular in the New England area (am I right or wrong?). The obvious reason I have wanted to try this for so long is because it looks like it came out of the oven, but didn't. I searched and searched (for months) to find the ultimate grunt recipe. I think I found one, but of course, my own modifications, so this is My Organic Blueberry Grunt. Check out our desserts below. I served these (3 of us) with soy vanilla ice cream and soy whip on top. It was wonderful and I have made it a few times already.
My Organic Blueberry Grunt Recipe
serves 3 to 4 people
2c frozen or fresh blueberries, organic
1/2c. raw sugar
1/2c. spelt flour
1/4c. stone ground whole wheat flour
1t. baking powder
1/8t. sea salt
1/4t. ground cinnamon
1/8t. nutmeg
1/3c. + 2T. soymilk
Method: In a 2 or 3 quart saucepot, combine berries and half of the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the berries come to a boil. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, sea salt, remaining sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Add milk, just to moisten. Drop tablespoon-fulls of batter into the boiling blueberries. You can let them touch each other, they will seperate. Cover with a tight fitting lid and lower heat to med-low. Cook without lifting the lid for 15 minutes. To serve, use a large, flat spoon and lift out "cakes" and serve with ice cream. It is also good alone, but always better with ice cream.
And below is one of my favorite things in the world... I can put simmering blueberries with almost anything.
Here is an up-close, yet kinda crappy shot of the inside of the grunt. See how baked it looks?!
Moving on... I really messed up bigtime here. I attempted to make potato leek soup. Come on people, is there one good recipe on the web? *If you have a good recipe for potato leek soup I would be very happy to have it in my home* There aren't many recipes in my cookbooks and the one I found (I think online) called for fennel, leeks and russet potatoes. I thought it was going to be alright, that is, until I had my first experience with raw fennel. And whole fennel. This veggie freaked me out at first. I should have read the back of Vive le Vegan where it tells all about fennel, how it tastes and what to do with it, but then again, I may not have bought it then. I got 2 bulbs as the recipe called for, opened one, almost puked, and decided to hold off with the fennel, thinking the soup would be alright without it. Boy, was I wrong. This soup pretty much tasted like bland crap and it was way too creamy for me. I attached a copy of the recipe (that I made up based on many) just in case maybe someone can tell me where I went wrong. Or what I should have added or taken out. Or if this is just crap anyway, and I should move on... I actually ended up throwing the cut fennel away because it went bad during the whole week it stared me in the face every time I opened the fridge. I also threw about 2 quarts of crappy soup down the drain (terrible guilt). Stay tuned within the next few days to see what I did with the other fennel bulb. I had a major delicious success! But what you see below is crap, so don't use the recipe unless you are making it for someone who likes bland, uninteresting foods (or other reasons). Or if you can tweak it for me.
Tofu scramble! I made it but didn't eat it. This falls under the category of "yes it is vegan, but Leslie won't eat it foods" such as faux meats and pre-made faux cheeses. I used to gag at the smell of my mom making scrambled eggs for my brother starting 20 years ago, and I knew this would be ok and not stinky to make. In fact, it smelled good, I just have "issues". Tofu scramble is something Ray has been requesting for a long while. I either had silken tofu or really firm tofu for a long time and never got around to making it. Finally, last Saturday I made Dreena's wonderful crepe test-recipe for the tenth time or so and also decided to make tofu scramble on the other burner. In the middle of cooking both at once (I like to pre-make the maple butter cream), a friend of mine / ex-co-worker called and she was going to stop by. There were 3 people eating the tofu scramble and the verdict was positive, yet not with much energy. It was all eaten but probably just because they were hungry and it was there. I made the tofu scramble from VwaV and next time I will experiment with other recipes. I still won't eat it (or try it).
Next up we have some veggie bean and veggie-dyed-alphabet noodle soup. This soup is a random recipe that I made up with scragglers from the co-op sale, and I used way too much fire roasted tomatoes. It was good, Ray rated it an 8, I gave it a 6, but there is lots of room for replacement. I will give the basic recipe, but please feel very free to elaborate and change it up. It was good for a meal, but very tomato-y for me. I made so much (which I am sort-of unhappy about) and we still have that huge-ass bag left in the freezer. I plan on thawing it out, doctoring it up, adding some onions, and seeing how that goes. For now, here is the recipe and it makes almost 6 quarts. Ok, here's a basic recipe, cut it down, change it up...
8.5c water (or veg broth + water)
1/4c dry alphabet noodles
1- 28oz can fire roasted tomatoes, crushed
1 can kidney beans
1 can chickpeas
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 handfuls chopped green peppers
4 cloves garlic
3 yukon gold potatoes, cut
1/2t basil
1/2t oregano
1/2t thyme
1t sea salt
black pepper to taste
1/2t jalepeno hot sauce
I really wanted to use spinach... I'm now just seeing it around.
Directions: Add everything together. Boil. Cover. Simmer until potatoes are soft. Consume.

Served with a whole wheat bun on Ikea snack sets.
And finally, same deal as last time, faux-baked, but with added blueberries. After taking this photo, the blueberries were extra soft, and turned everything a nice purple hue. Highly recommended.
Note: I usually don't post too often (sorry, I'm working on that). I am going to provide you all with a post within the next few days for your personal viewing and eating pleasure. Part of it will be about what I did with the fennel today (plus other stuff). I'm giving the warning so you all don't fall out of your chair from me posting frequent posts and real recipes! Stay tuned...

18 October 2006

What's New: Kitchen Stuff, Washing Method, Co-Op Location, Soup Recipes & Faux Baking

It finally feels like fall here. That means nice temps in the 80* degree + range, sunny days and a bit of rare rainfall. I also finally broke out my hoodie for night time because once the sun is behind the mountains it gets chilly quickly. I have been wondering when I was going to start craving autumn foods and the time has finally come! I have about 10 pounds of apples in the fridge that are quickly releasing gases and ripening all other foods, and need to be turned into something, or plain eaten. Even though it has been cooler outside, I still eat ice cream as much as possible (soy, not cow, for those new readers). Here we have a newer version of my infamous fruitshake with a lot less ingredients. This is Double Rainbow Soy Vanilla Bean ice cream with 365 organic soy milk, organic hemp seeds, tons of blueberries and a few Newman's O's. Oh yum.

Above is my new veggie and fruit washing method. Dreena has a wonderful method for washing produce and I decided to do the same. What a time-saver. I love having everything cleaned at once, ready to go in the fridge, and I don't have to worry about those extra steps while prepping food. This is my real dish drainer, but I have converted a smaller one, but deeper for my new washing method. I highly recommend trying this. It really cuts out a lot of time in the long run. Thanks Dreena!
Ah, yes... fridge photos. This is craziness I tell you! The co-op is in the process of moving. The new store will be open this Saturday and I don't know how I am surviving all week without the co-op. Oh wait, I do... look at all this produce and other good stuff I stocked up on. I'll be fine for a long while! One day stuff was 25% off and then Julie let me know that the next day it was 40% off! I stocked up both days. The first day was mostly bulk items that you can't see because they are in the pantry, not fridge (minus hemp seeds for 60% off!), and the organic oj with pulp. The next day is where I really went crazy. You will see 4 pomegranites on the bottom left. I love pomegranite and have since I tried them in first grade. I asked the lady if they were "by the pound" or "each" and that would make a difference in the size I would buy. She didn't know, and I was holding 2/4 of them and she said to just "take them". Sweet. Then she looked over and saw the other 2 lonely guys and told me I could just have those also! I got 4 free organic fresh poms (not that crappy POM company that refuses to stop testing on animals) and that really added to the bonus of the overall sales. I am happy.
The fridge looks ridiculously full, but there is a lot that was not new from the co-op, I could only buy perishables and frozen stuff for the sale anyway. For example, that chocolate stout beer that's been sitting there for months. And some leftover pastas (you will see below), always many kinds of "milks", and lots of tofu I keep on the middle shelf. Plus some kiwi and other produce I already had... I did splurge on certain items such as Tofurky, miso and Men's Bread, items that are usually more costly, but not this time. There's also stuff that I keep on hand all the time tucked in the back (wheat germ, extra Earth Balance, pita breads). Oh, and those are Virgil's cream soda's but I found out after reviewing my reciept, they were not on sale. Ray really likes Virgil's brand (I'm not a soda/carbination fan).
As per Julie's request, here's what I got (the second day for 40% off)... all organic.
Soy Delicious creamy orange bars, 2 Virgils cream sodas, oj with pulp, boylan's black cherry soday, soy whip cream, non-hydrogenated Tofutti cream cheese, frozen peppers (a few bags), 2 blueberry spelt donuts, frozen edamame, naan bread, many limes and lemons, a green bell pepper as big as my face!, yellow bell pepper, 2 red bells, 6 jalepenos, Asian pears, a red pear, a bunch of red chard, oranges, poms (free), white miso, Rocky Road Soy Delicous, White Chocolate Raspberry Double Rainbow ice cream (yes, 3 ice creams 40% off), hemp seeds, 2# carrots, 10# apples, Tofurky, Men's Sprouted bread that I forget the name of the brand. Total = $44 including multiple bag discounts. That's a lot of stuff, I'd say.
I am really proud of myself for creating this soup above. I am also really surprised and proud of Ray for liking the soup, as I thought he'd turn his nose up at it. Overall, this is a thick soup, and I froze the leftovers and plan on serving it over rice or quinoa. Probably quinoa.
Leslie's Chickpea and Red Lentil Soup (yes, a real recipe)
1/2c green peppers, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced and peeled
1c veggie broth
2c water
1 15oz can chickpeas
14oz can diced fire roasted tomatos
1c red lentils, rinsed and drained
1t salt
few dashes black pepper
1/2t tumeric
2 cloves garlic, minced
1T olive oil

Method: In a 3 quart stockpot, saute onions and carrots in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes longer. Add the rest of the ingredients and cover. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft and soup has thickened. *Edit to add: to make the soup like the photo, simply blend 1/2 the soup with an immersion blender or take 1/2 the soup in batches and carefully blend in a blender or food processor. Enjoy as a soup/stew or serve over a grain. Makes almost 3 quarts.

Now on to the seasonal goods. I haven't used the oven since December and I am really starting to miss using it now. Especially smelling all the wonderful baked goods, besides eating. Since I still wasn't going to use the oven, I decided to make something oven-like and pretend it was baked. I made an apple crumble to top vanilla soy cream. Oh yum! I am finally starting to make my own recipes again which is nice because I tend to make pretty good random stuff. Here's the recipe for my faux-baked apple crumble.
Leslie's Faux-Baked Organic Apple Crumble
serves 4
3 large apples, keep the peel on, diced
3 handfuls of organic rolled oats
1 handful walnuts (toasted yourself or untoasted is ok)
1 handful pecans (same as above)
1/3c maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
1T brown rice syrup
1t blackstrap molasses (for added nutrition)
1t cinnamon, ground
1/4t nutmeg, ground
Method: In a small pot or skillet, toast the nuts and oats until you smell the wonderful aroma, and not anything burnt, about medium-high heat. Mix in the syrups, salt and molasses. Reduce the flame and stir for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the chopped apples, and mix around. Heat for a few more minutes and take off the stove. Cover the pot and let the heat steam the apples to get a bit softer for 5 minutes. Serve over ice cream (or plain) and enjoy.
View from the pot.
Ok, I promise this is going to be the last of the pesto. Well, the last photo really is. I decided to have a go at an easy, quick, dense meal. I had one leftover pesto that I made a while back and took that out of the freezer. I really wanted more than just pesto so I skimmed through VwaV and decided on the Creamy Alfredo Suace. I've looked at the recipe before but finally needed a photo for convincing. I am sure glad I made this but I never was a fan of alfredo sauce, so this was a bit too creamy fo me. I do like the flavor though. I will modify next time. And, this plate below is 2 servings, not one, we sort-of slid our halves onto each plates.
This is the last of the pesto for real. This is strictly pine nuts. Follow my recipe in the post below and sub pine nuts for any other nut in the recipe. Yum.

05 October 2006

A Bunch of Food and a REAL Recipe

I have been loving all these avocados! I think I may be down to only two now but I do have a ton of leftover guac in the fridge and have gone through countless avocados in the past week. I obtained four huge ones from the co-op the other day and they were super green inside and had the smallest pits. It was almost scary, I've never seen avocado pits so small, but then I was thankful how much avocado gut I got out of that. For this meal above, I got way out of hand. First of all, I am one who's eyes are always a lot larger than the stomach. My eyes are probably larger than my whole body! I decided to make over a gallon of chili the other night so Ray and I could have some and then I'd freeze the rest in double and individual servings. We had "burritos" but it was only filled with guac and chili. Don't get me wrong, the chili was loaded with veggies and beans and other good stuff, it was just strange having a burrito without rice or a grain. I still ate it all and the soft tortilla was a nice texture to it. There's also guac of course, and I find that the more garlic I add to it, the more I like it. We had some Garden of Eatin organic blue corn chips to accompany the meal. To the left is a small side of Muir Glen organic medium salsa which I just dumped all over everything after I snapped the photo. You also see what I'm talking about now with my eyes being way bigger than my stomach... That bowl of chili (three ladle scoops, may I add) was not touched and I quickly set it aside to put away for the next day. What was I thinking?!

Below is one pound of organic basil, which is equivalent to 12 cups, packed. I have been going crazy with pestos and basil lately and I found this huge basil plant at Trader Joes for $2.99. The plant was half-way as tall as me and there was so much beautiful smelly basil. I didn't buy it since it wasn't organic. I got my kicks just by looking at it for a few minutes. I found the organic basil and for 79 cents less each than that huge-ass plant, I bought three 4.5 ounce containers of organic. I was happy because stupid Whole Foods has 2.5oz of basil for $4. I just couldn't get myself to get that little for so much. My goal with all this basil was to whip up batches of pesto and freeze them for later. I mentioned that in my last post, but I was only able to keep the pestos frozen for one day before eating them all up. I had to make many for them to last, same with the black bean chili.
How could I make pesto and not make Dreena's pesto?! After all, I was just really meant to test this recipe, and I have ended up making it a billion times. I think it's wonderful and so flavorful. I had this pesto immediately for dinner and finished it off the next day for lunch. It's awesome cold.
I decided to make VwaV Classic Pesto again. I liked it as a dip with bread and veggies, so I am going to have it tonight for dinner over pasta for the first time (probably very late, after Ray is done at his orchestra concert which I am not at and instead sitting in my pj's at home, blogging... I had a "rough" day today). Then I made VwaV Classic Pesto but instead of walnuts, I added only pinenuts. It's hard to tell any difference in these pestos just by looking at them but you can sort of tell the pine nut one since it has so much white in it. I am most excited to try that one. Finally, I was sick of following recipes, especially for something that can be done pretty simply, so I made up my own pesto recipe. It has walnuts and pinenuts and some other good stuff too. The one in back is my pesto recipe. The VwaV ones I find are very "oily" so I limit the oil when following the recipe for Classic Pesto. On the other hand, Dreena's pesto recipe only has 1 tablespoon of oil for the whole batch (suitable to top a pound of pasta) and I really prefer that. Plus there's an array of interesting ingredients in her pesto but I'm not allowed to tell. Stay tuned one more year (sorry!). Leslie's Special Pesto Recipe
(it's special because you can use it with pasta, pizza, sandwiches, dip, filling and probably more)
1/4c. walnuts or almonds
1/2c. pinenuts
3 cups packed basil leaves, no stems
2-3 large cloves crushed garlic
1t. sea salt
dash of black pepper
1/3c. olive oil
1/4-1/3c. nutritional yeast flakes
2t. lemon juice

Blend everything except the oil and the nutritional yeast in a blender or food processor. When that all starts to get pureed (or too stiff your blender can't handle it), start to pour the olive oil while blending. Add the nutritional yeast and blend a bit more. Makes about 2 cups.
(note: I love pesto with walnuts, pinenuts and almonds. Use all of them, just one, or in their own combos, these raw nuts really tie the pesto together. Feel free to experiment with variety.)
This is what I had the other night when I was super lazy. Yes, there is spinach in here and I don't care! How crazy all this b.s. about the spinach, I've been eating it up as much as I can get ahold of it). Anway, how easy is this... take out the frozen container that you never even pre-made, take out the jar of marinara sauce that is already pre-made. Take out the bag of pine nuts from the freezer that were just pulled down with the handle from bulk. So easy!!! Boil for a few and combine. I made both of these kinds at once so we would have leftovers, although we barely did. I don't really buy this type of stuff too often and if I do, like in this case, it sits in the freezer for a really long time. I bought these because I had a coupon (well, 2) for the Rising Moon brand and I also noticed they were on a pretty good sale at WFM. They ended up being way less than $2 each (to easily serve two each), and they are normally up to $4 for one. The ravioli's came out just fine and I am happy to report that Ray's taste buds are changing more and more each day. He tried these ravioli's the last time I had them (about a year, year and a half ago) and he didn't care for them. The other day he ate the whole thing up. Same with guac, but not together with the pasta.
I made Dori's No-Bake Cookies the other night and they came out super-chocolately and wonderful. I am thankful for this no-oven recipe, even though it really isn't the same these days. I must have my firefighter friend come over and stand guard while we check out this oven business. These look like cookies I made before but these are much denser and richer. Below is what they looked like when cooled (but not blurry).
Finally I made something from RAW. I don't think I ever bragged about how I got this at Changing Hands for about $8. This is normally a $30-something book, and it looks like no one even read it before me. I have read through almost the whole book now and I had been eyeing the raw whipped cream, hence me not having a dehydrator for other recipes (yet). This recipe shouldn't be called whipped cream. It should be called some sort of sweet nut dip. I tried it with some Newman's O's and a few slices of apple. I prefer the apple since the cookies make the dip not sweet tasting at all. Of course, who would really go through the time to soak nuts, follow a raw cookbook, and then eat something with pre-packaged Newman's O's?! At least they weren't hydrogenated and they were organic. Anyway, if you make this stuff, eat it with raw food and don't be as weird as me! The book shows a photo of the whipped cream and there's no way in hell mine would have looked like that no matter how hard I tried. And I blended for a loooong time!
The only ingredients are: walnuts, cashews, 3 dates and oj. Doesn't this "raw whipped cream" look freakishly like something else that I've made before?! Weird.