Thursday, July 26, 2012

Takeout Cakes

My Grandmother Woellner inspired me as a child, not only with her gourmet cooking but also the way she presented the food. It was a feast for the eyes. One of my many fond food memories is when she served me a little, white Chinese takeout. I sat there while everyone else was being served and then we were all to open them up in unison. I was delightfully surprised to find a trifle made with cubes of buttery poundcake, French vanilla pudding made with whipped cream folded in at the very end and a few sliced, sugared strawberries. Oh, I was so happy. That is why I chose to package my food line in the same fashion in loving memory of my Grandmother. So in honor of her, I'm making my sons a vanilla cake made with ground flaxseed and pureed pumpkin pulled straight from my garden yesterday. The batter us baked right in the container and I'm going to top it off with some vanilla icing and some sprinkles. I can't wait to see their smiling faces.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Twin Oaks Tofu quesadilla with Bangarang! salsa

Twin Oaks Tofu vegan sausage quesadilla and homemade Bangarang! salsa
I haven't bought groceries in a few days.  Usually I go to the market almost every other day, but this week, I've been gardening so much, I haven't had time or made time, more like.  So after looting a very boring pantry and fridge, I found enough booty to make a fabulous quesadilla with homemade salsa. Here's the recipe for your treasure chest, I mean recipe box. ;)


1 Burrito Sized Tortilla
Earth Balance Vegan Butter
1/4 cup sweet onion, sliced or diced
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced or diced
1/4 cup Twin Oaks Tofu Vegan Sausage, crumbled
1/4 cup Diaya vegan cheese, I use mozzarella
1 Tbsp, chopped fresh cilantro

In a small skillet, saute onion, mushrooms and sausage in a little bit of vegan butter until the onions are translucent.

In a large skillet place a teaspoon of butter in the pan and heat on medium heat until melted.  Place your tortilla down and sprinkle on cheese and cilantro.  Let the cheese melt a bit maybe a minute or two and then spread the veggie saute on one side.  Fold over flap.  Place on a plate with a wide spatula.  Cut in four wedges and serve with your favorite dip, dressing or salsa.  I made my salsa from scratch too. Well, I had to because I didn't have any in the house, but I did have a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced green chili's and voila!

1 (15 oz.) can of tomato sauce
1 small can, like 3 or 4 oz., of diced green chili's
1/2 tsp. Bangarang!
2 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, diced

Mix it all together and you got it.

Gar! Argh! Ahoy! Sea dog! Land lubber! Scalliwag! just getting it all out of my system! BOOTY!!! and I'm spent. :)


Reginalds PB and MOCHI!!!
Last growing season, I was setting up my table and treats for the Whole Foods farmers market at Whole Foods Market in Short Pump, RVA.  I got there late, of course, because it is so hard to find a sitter, get the sitter to come on time, while I pack up my truck by 2:30 to make it to market by 3:30 and magically set up by 4 pm. And then, I just can't help it, I usually talk for a good 15 minutes to all of my great friends and forget entirely, what the heck I am there for.  Then there is the mad scramble.  Everyone helps me unload, unless they have a customer at their table, and then it is showtime.

Well, I was at the end of the row, as usual. Late, as usual, or later than the early bird vendors.  But, someone came later.  This cool kid from Pakistan who was taking a class on agriculture at a nearby community college.  He was so stoked about the growing season, and had a few berry bushes with him and handed out cards to the patrons, saying that if they wanted to plant an edible garden, to give him a call in the fall.  This kid was on FIRE!  I mean, he was so super energetic and passionate about plants, that it was so much fun to be beside him.  He and his propped up crates of repotted plants and his wonky sign, chattering like crazy and sweating profusely in the hot sun. His completely spastic behavior was marvelous and refreshing! This guy gets it! He reminded me of my childhood friend Sanjeeve who was the coolest and most energetic kid, besides Brad Sanders, in our little 5th grade class at St. Lukes school.  Hopping from here to over there and running in circles with his arms stiff as a board like a robot gone haywire.  It was the 80's, lots of silly robots were featured in almost EVERY movie and TV show and it was the trickle down effect. So of course, we could all act like robots, make robot shifting noises, and talk in a monotone and, of course, play Bricks on our personal computers all afternoon long (or Where in the World is Carmen San Diego). We were super cool kids.

After the market was over and he talked my ear off about his passion for plants, we all went inside for our dinner and groceries, which is half the fun of being a vendor at the Whole Foods market.  I bumped into him again when I was looking for Earth Balance butter when he screamed "MOCHI!!!!!".

"MOCHI!!!! They have MOCHI!!!  I used to eat this all of the time when I was in Japan!!!!"

I look at the tile of food he has in his hands and ask, "is it good?"

"This stuff is awesome!  You bake it and it fluffs up.  Then you can fill it with anything! MOCHI!!!!"

Reminds me of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes where Kathy Bates would knock down walls with a sledge hammer and scream, "TAWANDA!!!!"

MOCHI and Reg's PB!!!
Of course now I will have to scream, "MOCHI!!!!" when I'm lifting huge wheelbarrows  full of gravel for now on.  Last year my word was "DRAGO!!!" from Rocky IV when I was giving it all I've got.  My neighbors are really going to think I'm from a different planet entirely.  They can't see me through the pine blind but they can hear me yell the random, KEMPER!!! or PELHAM!!! or DRAGO!!!! and now I will add  MOCHI!!!! to my list of expletives! haha!!

So, it's a few months later and every time I am at Whole Foods, I see this MOCHI!!! and I'm reminded of the exuberant guy beside me at market that I have never seen since.  Last month I bought some, and now I'm completely hooked.  Not only is it super fun to eat, you get to fill it with all sorts of deliciousnessiosity. :)

Today I filled it with equal parts: Reginald's Peanut Butter, VA sorghum molasses (honey, maple or agave works well too), and vegan cream cheese.

Cut Mochi Squares
All you do is cut your MOCHI!!! tile into 1 inch by 1 inch pieces and bake it in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Pull it out.  Give a minute to cool, and slit open one of the sides and fill it with a tsp. of whatever you like.






Monday, March 19, 2012

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Confections

Strawberries with Reg's PB and Confectioners Sugar
I just have to share with you one of my favorite new snacks.  I thought of it yesterday and wondered why on earth I hadn't done it before.  I love peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches.   And, when I was a child one of my favorite food memories was at bible camp at Culpeper United Methodist Church.  Blanche Malenowski, spelled phonetically of course, was our camp volunteer and she had thought up the most fantastic treat for our vacation bible school. She broadened our minds with a weeks worth of playing pretend at traveling abroad.

We took our Polaroid pictures and made a passport in class.  Then each day at camp, we went up to Blanche, she rubber stamped them, and we pretended to board a plane but really we just went inside our classroom and sat around in plastic orange and red chairs lined with an aisle down the center while watching a documentary on France. Afterwards, for our snack we gathered around our tables to eat strawberries dipped in confectioners sugar, naan or some other delight.

That week we visited the Pyramids, she had slides from her and Mal's trip to Egypt, the Eiffel Tower and all sorts of other exotic places.  I wish I still had my little, play passport.  What a clever way to introduce a bunch of Culpeper kids to something that was beyond our borders.  Thank you Blanche.  You really made an impression on this kid.

So, I love strawberries dipped in confectioners sugar since my visit to the Eiffel Tower during vacation bible school, and I love peanut butter.  Why not combine all three of my favorites into a tasty treat?  Well, alright then!!!

And, BTW, this is my new go to snack.  Perfect for after school or pre-workout, I think.

All you need are these:

A pint or so of strawberries, washed
Reginald's Original Peanut Butter, Virginia's Finest of course
Confectioners sugar, or powdered sugar

Dip strawberries into PB or use a spoon or knife and spread it on.  Then dip the tip into confectioners sugar.  And as the French say, Bon Appetit!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Vegan Cabbage Rolls
This morning I was taking a peek at the Whole Foods Short Pump website.  I was actually looking for me, but no mention of GreenHearts Farm stuff was on there. HA!  I'm so silly.  But, I am a dreamer.  And, I found that Jesse (from WF) was on our local news channel making stuffed cabbage.  So cool!  I immediately watched it, since it is St. Patty's day and I wanted to make something awesome to go with my Guinness.  Yes, I do love Guinness but I really only drink it a few times a year.  I just wonder what movie to watch with it.  When I was younger, I used to watch Boondock Saints on St. Patty's Day every year, but I don't know.  I think the older I get, the more I want something like a romantic comedy or something really rawther BBC related or masterpiece theater to lighten my spirits.  I know, a complete 180 from my terribly-terrific-tantrum filled teen years. One word to describe the Jen of Then:  rebel--without-a-clue.  That is one word right?

So I haven't quite figured out what movie to go with this but I'm kinda thinking something like the old John Candy movie where he falls in love and he's an Irish cop in Boston, maybe.  Thank goodness for Google.  So he was a cop in Chicago with on overbearing Irish mother.  Do you remember the name?  Only the Lonely!  That was it.  I watched it when I was about 10 years old.  Two decades ago.  Sheesh.  No wonder I couldn't remember the name.  

Oh my goodness, I almost forgot about Far and Away!  I think I have that one too in our extensive collection of movies.  Who knows if it is in the case though.  Drat.  We have loads of DVD's but we are not very good at putting them back in the case.  

If I can find it, I'm so going to watch Far and Away tonight.  So romantic. And there's boxing.  Momma loves a fighter.  I feel like women can identify with boxers, or at least this woman can.  You have to fight to the death for everything you want, and you just keep getting a right hook that you didn't see coming or that jab that stings your nose, but you have to have endurance and finally you get that pep talk in the corner, just when you think you can't take another hit, and then you make a last stand and bring in a victory!  My version of life.  

BTW, I would like to remove a four letter word my family's vocabulary and just wipe it out of my existence, maybe.  The word FAIR. Agh!  I hear it all day long from Pelham, and then I poked fun of my husband saying that me downloading a book on my kindle for 5 minutes (which didn't load since he drove away from the Caroline Library after his patience was up) wasn't fair because I said it would take 2 minutes.  Let me ask you.  When you say something will take 2 minutes, that's a figure of speech right?  It never just takes 2 minutes.  So don't hold a person literally to 2 minutes.  Aaagh.  And then, I caught myself saying that something wasn't FAIR 5 minutes later, and Chris mocked me.  Which I totally deserved.  And then we had a  laugh and held hands.  All is FAIR in love and war. There's that word again.

So I have my movie figured out.  Far and Away and now it is on to dinner. 

My sister, Julie, and I are always thinking up a dinner and a movie kind of theme.  And for some odd reason, I love to sit down with my dinner and watch a movie while I eat.  I get so much pleasure out of it.  

Without further ado, I give you:

St. Patty's Day Cabbage Rolls

1 head of cabbage, remove outer leaves and discard, then peel off each leaf, try to keep intact. I start from the stem and pull up

2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance butter
2 Tbsp. fresh herbs, chopped (I used dill, parsley and chives with a little bit of thyme)

1 Tbsp. prepared mustard
1/2 tsp. bangarang!signature seasoning
1 package of Tofurky Roast Beef vegan deli slices, sliced thinly and then in half, to look like shredded
1 1/2 cup boiling water

1 Tbsp. Earth Balance vegan butter
1/2 of a sweet yellow onion, sliced thinly
1/2 of a yellow pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 cup matchstick carrots
1/2 of a red pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced thinly and then again, to resemble matchsticks

In a large stock pot, boil cabbage leaves, three at a time for about 3-5 minutes.  Remove from boiling water and place in a colander.  Continue with all of the leaves.  After you are finished, you can carefully place your quartered potatoes in the boiling water and boil for 15 minutes until a fork can easily pierce.  Remove cabbage leaves from colander and set on your working surface for later.  Drain potatoes in the colander.

In a mixing bowl.  Place boiled potatoes and 2 T. butter.  Using a hand mixer, beat until smooth.  I cooled them for a bit in the fridge and then added the fresh herbs and S and P to my liking.

In a large skillet, heat 1 T. Earth balance butter, add onions and garlic. Saute, stirring twice in 5 minutes.  Add peppers and carrots. Saute for a bit.  Add mushrooms.  Saute 1 to 2 minutes longer.  Add 1 1/2 cups water, mustard and bangarang! Bring to a simmer with the veggies.  Toss in the sliced vegan roast beef and simmer a couple of minutes.  Remove the veggies mix and save the juice.

Line out your ingredients for the rolls on your working surface.  Cabbage leaves.  Mashed potatoes. Veggie Mix. 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  

Grab a casserole dish to bake your rolls in and place it beside your work station.

Take one cabbage leave and place 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes on the spine.  Followed by 1/4 of a cup veggie mix.  Fold the left and right sides of the leaf to the center to cover up the veggies and mash.  Moving from the bottom of the spine, roll up to the top.  Place the cabbage roll with the seam side down in your casserole dish.  Continue with as as many cabbage rolls as can fit the casserole dish comfortably.  

Grab your cup of veggie and spice drippings and pour them into the dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and enjoy piping hot.  

I think I will be serving them with a side of my favorite dips drizzled on top.

Drizzle fo' cabbage shizzle:

mix together:
1/4 cup prepared mustard
1/4 cup Follow Your Heart Veganaise
1/4 cup prepared vegan BBQ sauce
1/4 cup agave syrup or maple syrup

I think I'm going to serve it with Fried Apples and a wedge of my famous cornbread since that is easy-peasy and I don't have an Irish Soda Bread prepped for tonight.  

I will submit a picture later.  No SD card for my Android.  Long, stupid story there.  Have fun Verizon, looking at my thousands of photos that I sent to you with my broken phone.  Wish you would have told me to remove it before I dropped it off at FedEx.  There goes a year of my life. 

That's not FAIR!!! hahahah! :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Vegan TVP Salad

Jen's Vegan Chik'n Salad
I just made the best homemade vegan chik'n salad ever! and I have to share the recipe with you all. It was so easy.  So very, very easy.  I've become quite the vegan chik'n salad (VCS) expert over the past decade and I have loved and enjoyed copious amounts of Whole Foods VCS and buy it in the pint sized containers.  That pint lasts maybe two days in this household with three boys and me, an iron pumping (as of today), hoe swinging, knife wielding Momma. I'm hungry ALL the time. So I need a staple VCS to whip up at home.

I've tried Ellwood's of RVA's VCS and it is a very tasty recipe that closely resembles WF.  It seems to be an easy recipe, you just have to be able to get your hands on a lot of vegan chik'n cutlets and vegenaise from one of the big health food grocery distributing companies.  So it was very good there. $$$ too.

I've had Good Food groceries of RVA's VCS and I like it.  It tastes heavy on the celery salt though and it's made of TVP instead of the cutlets (cutlets are not gluten-free). TVP is gluten free. I like it, okay, just needs different fresh herbs and seasoning.  But, way healthier than the deep fried cutlets.  Which, I'm 99% sure that they deep fry the cutlets, like when they are making the Vegan General Tsoa's, and then chop them up. But, I really could be mistaken because I've deep fried the Morning Star vegan chik'n cutlets to make the salad and it has an entirely different texture. It is safe to say that I am a bit obsessed with food.

Also, I really enjoyed the Ellwood's vegan mac and cheese.  They made a whitesauce out of soymilk like I do, and that's why I like theirs.  Good job Ell.  Very nice. Just wish it was gluten-fee.  I have no sensitivities. Just a preference.  But it was cute, they packed the noodles in muffin tray and topped with vegan buttered bread crumbs for some texture, refrigerated them and popped them out like muffins for the deli display.

So back in the kitchen.  I want a non-fried, TVP non-GMO, chock full of veggies, spiced right, herbed up, VCS.  And, I think I nailed. Pretty dang good and pretty good for you too.  Especially after pumping iron until the hands are shaking kind of day.  I LOVE THOSE DAYS btw.  I called my hubby after I left the Spotsy YMCA today just to say that I just wrecked my body and I feel better than ever. Aaaah. Bliss.  (I was a personal trainer and aerobics instructor for nearly a decade, I got preggors with Kemper and I have not lifted weights in 3 years until today, I'm on a high for sure).

THE salad

1 cup water
1/2 tsp. or less Bangarang! signature seasoning
1 cup TVP (soy flour textured veggie protein)

1/4 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup sweet cubed pickle relish, farmer's market fresh
1/4 cup Follow Your Heart Vegan Mayo or Veganaise
2-4 sprigs of each: parsley, thyme, rosemary, dill and chives, minced
juice of one wedge of lemon

In a small saucepan, heat water and Bangarang! to a boil.  Turn off heat. Add TVP and stir until well combine. Cover and rest for 5 minutes.

In a bowl combine all of the other ingredients.  When TVP has cooled toss it in and stir to coat.  Refrigerate for a half hour (or you can do what I did- put it in a bowl and put it in the freezer.  Stir every 2 minutes until chilled to your liking which takes about 5 for me).  Season with more Bang! or black pepper.

YUMM-O But, feel free to make yours even better. :)

You can put this over bread and then slap on some vegan mozzarella, toast it up for a bit, add some tomato slices and some lettuce and another slab of bread, and voila.  A pretty tasty lunch or toss it on top of salad or serve with your favorite cracker.  You just can't go wrong.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Oh my gosh....YUM!

The Sammich
I just had an OMG...YUM moment.  I made the most fabulous Sammich I've ever, ever eaten for lunch. EVER!  It totally trumps my favorite vegan chicken salad sandwich that everyone knows that I ardently adore.  Oh, what a pretty name, Arden.  I have a friend named Arden, and for now on I will think of her as "a beautiful forest".  I just had to look up what the name means in the English language, as far as names go.  Very nice.

A bit better than "white wave" or whatever my name means now.

So, this morning I was researching anti-cancer foods because I would really, really, like to go forward from this moment on and try to prevent cancer as much as possible.  I was first reading all of the give-cancer-the-finger-foods (I hate cancer it has robbed me of my loved ones and family) and then one thing led to another and I'm at Dr. Oz's site researching the most aggressive cancers and then my throat started to feel really sore.
Esophageal cancer is always in the back of my consciousness and I try and stuff it down with healing thoughts and foods and diversions, just anything, and prayer. Loads of prayer.

Dr. Oz said that you are at risk for esophageal cancer if you have more than one alcoholic drink in one sitting.  Whowhat? Come again.  Doc.  Where were you in my early 20's? Why am I in my 30's reading this for the first time.  Sure, I thought it was binge drinking that got you there, and we all know it's considered a binge after 4 drinks. But after one?! Come on Doc.  Give a gal a break! Only thing to do is to learn from knowledge and not reflect on the past mistakes. They are done.  Just do the best you can with what you've got. And that will have to be enough.

Last time I was at the dentist, there was an understudy or someone in there with him that he was explaining everything that he was doing during a patients routine visit.  He grasped my tongue and pulled it down and peered down my throat, and said "normal".  And I immediately flicked my tongue away and said, "what are you looking for?  Is it cancer?"  He immediately started to laugh and said that when his father was in Dental College that he would routinely fall symptomatic to whatever infection or illness he was studying at the time.  And said that his father was a hypochondriac for many years, just like me.  Then I asked what are you looking for, lesions, redness and swelling, can I look myself? and so on.

I have had a tickle in my throat for a few days now, and have decided to I read something about esophageal cancer and now I'm on the war path, or quest to quell the cancer that may or may not be there.  And, in my mornings research, (I really should try to sleep in so I do not poison my brain for the day), I read that some of the best foods are beans, grains, soy, cabbage, garlic among other great things like berries and flaxseed.  I'm not much of a fruit person though.  My blood sugar gets really spiked if I eat too much fruit in one sitting and I'm irritable and highly irrational.  Do not, I repeat, do not engage in conversation with me or make eye contact when I'm crashing after eating a banana or two. You wouldn't dance with a grizzly, would you?  I didn't think so.

I've been up since 4 so it's about 10:30 and I need lunch.  Blood sugar thing and being a Brooks.  We are unpredictable if we are hungry.  Best to go ahead and eat.

I want to incorporate all of the lovely foods that are anti-cancer in one big ol' sammich.  So this is what I did and BTW it was fabu-X-2. Fabu! Fabu! Uh! Uh!

The Sammich

2 slices of your favorite multigrain bread, I got mine from Flour Garden, in RVA
3-5 slices peppered Tofurky deli slices
1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 dash of Bangarang! signature seasoning, Virginia's Finest Woot!
1-2 Tbsp. vegan rice cheese I use the mozzarella, I love Galaxy Nutritional Foods brand
1 handful of spring mix greens
1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp. veganaise, I love Follow Your Heart brand
1 Tbsp. Hot Pepper Jelly, I use Graves Mountain Lodge, Virginia's Finest Woot!

In a skillet, bring your oil to medium heat and toss in shallots and garlic, let sizzle for a minute or two then toss in the cabbage.  Let it get a little golden with a few minutes heat before stirring.  Sprinkle on a dash of Bangarang! Toss to coat.
Toast the two slices of bread.  Put veganaise on the bottom slice.  Top with spiced cabbage, then cilantro.  Place your tofurky deli slices on top, then your vegan cheese.  Then top with spring greens.  Lastly, spread the Hot Pepper Jelly on the top slice of bread and slap on top. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

My, I hate Cancer, Sammich:
Mutligrain, check!
Soy, tofurky, and veganaise check!
Cruciferous veggie, cabbage, check!
olive oil, check!
garlic, check!

and Woot!

It is OMG...Yum or Fabu! Fabu! For those with flair!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What a treat!!!!

Sticky Fingers' Cowvin Cookies
Okay, so last week, or was it this week.  Okay, this week (it's been a busy week), we were dog sitting over at the Aunt and Uncle's house and I was flipping through the Southern Living magazine.  I have no idea what month it was but they were showcasing the best of the best, the creme de la creme of the bakers, cookie makers and so on.  I love these issues.  I should say that they seem to be a bit biased in their decisions and there is no way for them to taste everything that is fabulous out there, even the little folks, but, I enjoy the read and in this case, they were right on the money.

It's so cool to see what other artists are doing and what flavor combinations they are playing with to excite the folks tucking into their pastries. I like to look at the glossy pics. Salivate for a bit, uncontrollably and wonder could I make a vegan version? Then, I read that there was a favorite cookie from none other than a vegan bakery.  NO WAY!  Everyone knows I have a ginormous sweet tooth and that's why I don't bake.  I just love the crispness and sweetness of the cookie. I love when they throw in some oats for a bit more texture and add another layer of food memento in my brain, an imprint that lasts decades.

I confess, I read the article, thought about its awesomenish and flipped through the rest.  It began to bug me as I was picking up after ourselves to head back home, I just had to know the bakery. So I went back to the magazine and tore it out.  Sticky Fingers of DC. BING!

I know. I know. Wrong-O. Or in the words of Mr. Darling, from Peter Pan, "mea culpa, mea culpa". I thought I could remember it, but I didn't want to sell myself short, and I can be a bit hyperfocused on my work and leave the rest to scatterbrain-Jane (or in this case Jen).

Rip. Fold. Stash.

Today, I was at Whole Foods getting my ridiculously-colossal-vegan-chicken-sandwich on, which all of the deli ladies and gents can't stand my sandwich request.  It's like salad sandwich. You can't stack it. You can hardly cut it, and to lift it up to box it, forget it.  They probably look at me and say to themselves, why don't you get your bubble butt over to the trough, and get your salad, and then come back over here and get your 8 oz. container of vegan chicken salad.  But, I don't want to go home and build it.  I like it all together in between two slices of multigrain bread.  Nummmm.  It's my little piece of vegan sunshine in a box.  It's all worth it to eat like a Vegan Diva.  Plus, it's a whole lot cheaper this way. Thank you very much.  I know what I'm doing here. ;)

So I'm waiting at least 5 minutes for the colossus (I don't mind at all) in the bakery section doing figure eights around the baked goods and watching the steady stream of people haunt the hot trough and the cold trough.  I have a thing about open food in a buffet.  I just can't do it.  All of the dander, hair, sneezes, mixed up spoons, who knows. Who knows?  I'd rather have the gloved and hatted professionals putting together the masterpiece, that serves as lunch and second lunch (I'm part hobbit on my mother's side).  I eat half in the demi booth with Kemper, who is constantly getting the best bites, while he has his favorite 'Za in front of him, and then I eat the other half an hour or two later. Savor the flavor. Stay hungry my friends.  It's the only way to really enjoy your food.  

And, GUESS WHAT, on my third or fourth figure eight, I look down at the cookies and I see STICKY FINGERS! dah da duh DAH!!  VEGAN!  Oh my goodness, or should I say in the most Southern of expressions, Oh my Stars!  There were like three or four different varieties that must have just arrived this week, just for me!  I looked them all over.  I'm not really a chocolate person today so I went with the Cowvin Cookie.  They reminded me of the Little Debbie creme filled cookies I filched from my friends snack cabinets when I was a child, we hardly had such garbage in my house growing up.  It's a good thing too, because I was A-Dict-Ted to sweets as a child.

Funny story, when I was in fourth grade, I did one of those chocolate fundraisers, got all of the Aunts and Uncles to buy some chocolate turtles for my school.  When the turtles came in, I stuffed them into the bottom of my dresser drawers, and ate them all in secret.  No one ever asked me about them either. But, to this day, I still feel completely guilty.  SO SORRY.

I paid $6 for 2 vegan cookies today. It is a double cookie with creme in the middle. Two vegan (really 4 cookies with creme) cookies from Sticky Fingers (DC) that traveled hundreds of miles to make it to my tastebuds in their full vegan glory.  And, oh my goodness, it was worth every penny.  Chris scarfed his down immediately.  I still have mines.  I cut it into wedges and I have been going back to the pantry for tastes throughout the evening.

Thank you Sticky Fingers.  Thanks for being you.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shebang!ed out Sprouted Quinoa Cookies

I am on the quest to make a reasonable cookie for the hubby who is craving sweets.  He ate a boat load of vegan girl scout cookies this morning and has been begging me for vegan cookies since he had one of anna B's gluten free vegan cookies (which ended up being 8 after a few days).  Anna B's and my schedule aren't the same, heck, I never really have a schedule, it's just make, make, make and deliver.  I like it this way.

I had a few things that I wanted to try out, making something sweet out of quinoa, using organic coconut oil (which is a renewable resource), Shebang! of course, and ground flaxseed.  I love when everything just works out perfectly, oh, and it had to be gluten free too.  I just prefer it that way.  No allergy here, but I just like it since I started cooking gluten-free for Pelham about 3 years ago, full time, before that it was during the holidays to impress my Aunt Robie, who has been gluten free FOR-EV-VER.  I just loved the challenge.

So get out your mixer and your coffee grinder and let's make some cookies.

Shebang! Quinoa Cookies

1 c. Shebang! spiced sugar blend
6 oz. coconut oil, I get the refined organic Spectrum brand
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 c. almond, coconut or soymilk
2 tsp. baking powder, aluminum free, of course
1 c. ground sprouted quinoa, I get mine in the bulk section at Whole Foods Market
1 c. rice flour
1/2 c. ground flaxseed
extra Shebang for rollling

In an electric mixer, or mix by hand, the Shebang! spiced sugar with coconut oil until well creamed.  Add vanilla and baking powder till well combined. Add soymilk, and continue to beat.  Add ground quinoa, rice flour and ground flaxseed and beat till combined.

Place on parchment paper and or in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Shape dough into walnut sized balls and roll into the extra Shebang! until well coated.  Place on a baking sheet, two inches from the next.  Using the bottom of a cup, flatten to 1/2 inch. Continue with the rest.

Bake 10- 12 minutes and remove from oven.  Let cool a few minutes before transferring to a wrack to cool.

These are absolutely delicious!

I used a coffee grinder to grind up my sprouted quinoa (it comes sprouted) and flaxseed, then measured.  I just loved the smell and the texture.

Chris ate a lot of dough, and has had at least 5 cookies since I baked them.  I enjoyed one a few minutes out the oven.  That's my favorite time, well, that and breakfast.

Oh, and on a personal note, I've been listening to bluegrass all day, and feel like a worker bee.  My favorite has been Mumford and Sons' Sigh No More. His voice reminds me of how I picture Ireland, the people, the heart of it all, Ireland.  I hope I go one day.

Coconut Tofu and Thai Red Curry

My husband has decided to go vegan.  He says he's doing it for me because it makes me so happy.  It is a very selfless endeavor for him because he is a full-time farmer who burns loads of calories a day chopping firewood, clearing land, driving machinery and all of that jazz.  He needs a rib-sticking supper.

Thai Red Curry with Coconut Tofu
Trying to feed him three hearty meals a day and snacks has become a part-time job and I am loving it.  I get to be totally creative in the kitch again, but I only have a limited amount of time because of my work, the kids, Pelham's school schedule and laundry. ;)

Here's last night's vegan, gluten free 30-minute meal.

I started with preparing Coconut Tofu and cooked the rice at the same time. Then moved on to chopping up the veggies and sauteing in a pan and then adding the coconut milk and spices.  Then heated the oil in the fryer and fried up the Coconut Tofu.  By that time, all elements of the meal where piping hot and ready to be plated.

Go ahead and start cooking your rice, in the amount  you need, according to package directions.

Coconut Tofu
1 Tbsp. flaxseed, ground mixed with 3 Tbsp. water
1/2 c. rice flour
2/3 c. grape juice (you can use beer too)

1 block of Twin Oaks Tofu, cut into 1/2 inch thich triangles

1 bowl filled with 1/4 c. rice flour

1 bowl  filled with 2 c. coconut flakes

In a large bowl, whisk together the ground flaxseed and water.  Let stand for 2 - 3 minutes to thicken.  Add rice flour and grape juice and whisk until smooth.  

Coconut Tofu
Cut Tofu into triangles and coat with plain rice flour.  Shake off access flour.  Pick up tofu by one corner and dredge in your flaxseed mixture.  Tap access off.  While still holding corner, coat all sides of rectangle in coconut flakes.  Place on a cookie sheet.  

Continue with all of the tofu.  Place cookie sheet in fridge until fry time.

Heat the oil in your fryer or pan to 360 degrees.  Fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden.  Remove from oil and place on a plate with paper towels to cool. 

For a dip I used equal parts teriyaki sauce and Graves Mountain hot pepper jelly.  Mixed them together and put into a small dipping bowl.  But you can always use orange marmalade mixed with mustard and horseradish, Thai peanut sauce or whatever combination of flavors you like.

Thai Red Curry
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped ginger root
1/2 c. yellow onion, sliced thick
1/2 c. bell pepper, sliced thick
1/2 c. thick sliced portabella mushrooms
1/2 c. eggplant, sliced and quartered
1/2 c. broccoli florets
1/2 c. carrots, cut into small slivers
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
1 Tbsp. prepared Thai Red Curry
1/2 tsp. Bang! Bang! Bangarang!
2 Tbsp. Shebang! spiced sugar blend
Fresh basil and cilantro, chopped

In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium heat.  Saute garlic and ginger.  Add onions and peppers.  Add eggplant and shrooms.  Saute for about 5 minutes more.  

In a large bowl to the side, whisk together the coconut milk, red curry, and Bang! spices.  Pour milk into pan. Add broccoli and carrots.  Bring to a low boil and then set to simmer for 10 minutes.  Right before you serve toss in the fresh herbs and stir.

Serve hot over rice.

So, I made this feast last night and it was SO filling.  Chris couldn't believe that he was completely satisfied and stayed satiated for the whole evening!  I was very happy too because I love Thai food and any excuse to use coconut milk in any dish.  It had a whole lot of flavor and the kids even loved it.  But, they didn't like the coconut tofu, but in all fairness, I didn't ask them to try it, like I usually do.  I was so hungry from working outside that I was just so happy they enjoyed the rest.

I hope you do too.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hot Southern Mess

Hi Friends!

I know it has been a while between visits but you will have to forgive me.  I've been ever so busy beating feet on the concrete.  I'm trying so hard to bring my vegan vittles to a grocer near you, but boy is it difficult.  Not everyone shares my passion for fabulous food.  Some days I have victories and most days defeat.  The 'no's' do not bother me as much anymore because when I get a 'yes, bring in a case of everything' I feel like I'm a LIVE WIRE and on FIRE!

Right now, I should be making a couple batches of Bangarang! and a couple batches of my Jengi and Punjabi lollipops, but I really, really wanted to take a moment and get back to the recipes.  It's always been the cooking that interests me most.  Savoring a flavor.  Enjoying the meal, tremendously.

I'm working on a new cookbook at the moment that I have fondly dubbed "Hot Southern Mess". Vegan Southern Cuisine. I have enjoyed every dish that I have tried to create, with the exception of my first batch of Pimento Cheese spread. I think it would have been better if I had purchased a jar of pimentos instead of roasting an organic red pepper and chopping it up.  For some odd reason, it made the whole batch taste very earthy like the scent of potting soil.  As soon as I made that association, I couldn't enjoy it.

You see, smell has so much to do with the way I cook.  I am SO sensitive to smells, whether it be good or bad.  I was a personal trainer and aerobics instructor for over 6 years before I took to farming and the smells in a packed gym would almost floor me by the end of my work/play day.  Being a personal trainer, I had to be very food/body conscious too. To this day I hate floor to ceiling mirrors.  They remind me of a book that I read many years ago. It was said that the Gullah women of the Lowcountry in South Carolina believe that those mirrors bring the devil out of you.  For some odd reason, I believe it.

I have lived in the South all of my life.  I was born in Virginia, then moved to Texas as a child, then Oklahoma, then back to Virginia, then to Georgia, then to South Carolina, then back to Virginia, where I've been for the last 5 years on a farm in Caroline County.  My family lives Culpeper, Richmond, Caroline, Reva, Mechanicsville, Warrenton (all VA), Hilton Head, SC, White Sulper Springs, WV, Oklahoma City, OK, Conway, AR and a great Uncle in Louisiana.  My family is as Southern as the day is long.

And in the spirit of great Southern tradition, I am writing a cookbook on my family's food. It can also serve as a remedy for all of y'all that cooked up Paula Deen's best dishes (which she did warn from the very beginning that her food should be enjoyed only on special occasions not everyday fare), and to combat against high cholesterol, high fat, high sugar foods.

Now, everyone knows that I'm vegan AND I hold a special place in my heart for Paula Deen.  I loved her memoir.  I loved that she busted her butt and supported herself and her two boys.  But I think she is a Shady Lady for lying to the health inspector and cooking illegally out of her home kitchen that was not certified.  She lied for years! All of those people eating those bagged lunches that were supposedly made in a certified commercial kitchen and there is no consequence.  She is above the food law and now it is a reflection, a funny little footnote in her Epic life.

Le sigh.

SOAP BOX (skip if you aren't into it)

I would encourage Southerners to please stop cooking your vegetables to death.  Seriously, they are so little nutrients left after you have cooked your greens for 3 hours.  Kale goes limp after 5 seconds of steam, seriously.  I just want us all to have the very best health.  We can't control our genes but we can control how we cook and eat.  Every meal is a choice.  Just make good choices.

Low sugar, low alcohol, low (or no if you are gluten-free) wheat, no meat (for me please and thank you). Bam! I'm sorry to shoot from the hip but I just have to keep it real and keep it simple.

STEPPED OFF THE SOAP BOX (continue reading for fun)

One of my very first recipes that I have enjoyed recently is my Jambalaya.  When I was at Longwood University I was Biology major.  I really don't know why, but I liked saying that I was a BI-O major when others asked.  I started working on my 3rd or 4th cookbook that was French Creole Cajun Cuisine.  It was packed with over 250 recipes that I cooked in the dorm kitchen.  I gained about 20 lbs during the cookbook and flunked all of my classes because I was obsessed.  Literally, obsessed.  There was so much flavor and so much fat and everyday was Mardi Gras to me.  College was like Mardi Gras and I was literally living like I was in New Orleans, hopping from place to place with a Hurricane in my hand and eating from the finest Creole kitchens.  I was a mess.  Needless to say, I had to leave on academic probation and go home with my cookbook in hand and black stretch pants.

A few years ago, I threw the cookbook away. It just hurt to look at it.  Truly a disappointment. There were things that it meant to me, like why was in college when all I wanted to be was a chef, but I was persuaded by others that was not a good professional for a mother, if I was thinking to the future. Long hours, working nights and weekends, working holidays and so on.  No, no, best to take the safe route, the unselfish route, and just have a hobby of cooking and writing cookbooks for no one else to see, or care and self-publish.  I've been writing cookbooks since I was 16, almost one book a year ever since.

I want someone to see and taste the food I'm cooking up in the GreenHearts kitchen.  I can't make and sell everything that I feel is a masterpiece.  This is a one man show.

So here's a little taste...

3 c. water with 1 ½vegan vegetable bouillon
 (I use Rapunzel brand vegan veggie bouillon)
14 oz. Tofurky Kielbasa, sliced
1 Tbsp. Earth Balance butter
1/4 c. green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c. yellow onion, chopped
1/4 c. celery, chopped
1/4 c. carrots, chopped
3 small tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. Bang! Bang! Bangarang! hot and spicy signature seasoning
1 tsp. fresh picked oregano
1 tsp. fresh picked thyme
3/4 cup rice, cooked using package directions
To begin, cook rice according to the package directions. At the same time, get out a large stock pot and heat the vegan butter over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, pepper, carrot and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add water and bouillon cube and bay leaves. Simmer until cube is dissolved. Add vegan kielbasa, Bang! Bang!, oregano and thyme. Stir in cooked rice.  Bring to a low boil then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.  Serve piping hot in soup bowls. Add more Bang! if you like.

I hope you enjoy.  This dish takes me about 30 minutes to make, start to finish.  It is great to feed my husband, a farmer who likes things to be hearty and feel satiated after supper.  My kids love rice and veggies. They are not crazy about the Tofurky.  But, I love all of it. Every element. I love the warmth and comfort of this dish.  I love the texture of the veggies and chewiness of the Tofurky.  I love the smell of the fresh thyme.  I love eating with a spoon.  No fork tines. The roundness of a spoon and how it's the perfect fit with no sharp edges.  It's just comfort.

From my GreenHeart to yours,