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Thursday, November 25, 2010

VEGAN THANKSGIVING...third year running

What do you do for friendship? In our case, though we are confirmed carnivores, we spend Thanksgiving with friends who are vegan. Which means, no turkey, no sausage, no pumpkin pie with milk and egg custard. Still, we do ok by ourselves, and the cuisine can be quite good. One advantage is the "incredible lightness of being" afterwards; no turkey tryptophan serotonin stupor afterwards.

This year, our menu is a joint effort: squash soup, spinach-orange-pomegranate salad, pumpkin pie and the main course is a tofurkey which I am cooking. And stuffing, extra, for sides.

The stuffing requires vegan bread, no egg, no meat, no milk but is actually not a challenge at all. Here are TWO recipes. One is a sweet and savory spelt bread filling for the Tofurkey (which is a theme of sweet-savory-salty contrasts, glazed in a molasses-soy glaze) and a "not-sausage" stuffing based on vegan French bread.

1. Sweet Savory Spelt Stuffing

1 half loaf (about 3/4 lb) of whole spelt bread.
1/2 heart of celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced fine
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, diced
2 cups vegetable broth
seasoning: poultry seasoning or your own: I use marjoram, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder melded in a mortar with a pestle.
Smart Balance oil

Method: Saute onion, celery in oil until onion is clear and soft, add in apple, cook till it is semi-soft, add in cranberries cook till soft.
Mix this with diced spelt bread in an 8 inch or 9 inch square baking dish. Toss well to coat the bread (I use stale bread; if yours is fresh, toast the cubes of bread for 10 min in a low oven to dry out.) Add in seasoning, toss and taste a cube. Correct seasoning. Add broth until cubes are well-moistened. Taste again (nothing in here is truly "raw" so you can taste this safely.) Cover with foil and bake 30 min on 350 in the oven or until well heated and slightly crusted on top. You can also bake this 20 min and use to stuff your Tofurkey. For that, we use a shell made of 4 boxes of very firm tofu, pureed, seasoned with poultry seasoning as above plus some dry broth crystals, and pressed into a shell in a colander lined with cloth. (We make the hollow with a smaller bowl after pressing plastic wrap on top of the tofu in the colander. Drain. Put a ball of stuffing in a large baking roaster pan, dump shell on top, glaze, bake for 90 min, basting frequently.

2. Savory "Not-Sausage" stuffing (actually, it's DRESSING, as it's not stuffed into anything, but I like alliteration.)

This stuffing tastes as if there is sausage or meat in it, but it is completely vegan. Will satisfy the carnivore in anyone.

1 lb dry cubes of vegan French bread (I make this in the breadmaker)
1 heart of celery diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 lb of white mushrooms: chop 3/4 of them finely in a food processor, slice the rest or chunk them
Oil (Smart Balance or olive)
Poultry Seasoning or your own mix
2 tsp of Penzey's Breakfast Sausage Seasoning Mix
2 cups of warm vegetable broth or more as needed

Saute onion, celery until onion is clear and soft, add in chopped and diced mushrooms. Cook until they are soft and mushy. Add the seasoning. Taste and correct seasoning. Toss this on the bread cubes in a 18 x 9 glass or ceramic baking dish (again, dry the bread cubes if they are too fresh.) When bread is well coated with the vegetable-seasoning mix, moisten with vegetable broth. Taste again to correct seasoning. Bread should not look dry, but should not be soggy, either. Cover with foil and bake 30-40 min at 350 or until heated through and slightly crusty on top.


beat 4 boxes of tofu, extra firm, with food processor until grainy and smooth-ish. Season to taste with smoked paprika, poultry seasoning, a paste of vegetable broth or anything you fancy.

Press this mix into a colander lined smoothly with a wet linen towel or wet cheesecloth. Set this over a bowl. Put plastic wrap entirely over the top of the tofu and press down with SMALLER bowl until you have a shell mold of tofu mix. It will drip into the outer bowl. Weight the inner bowl with a can of tomatoes or bottle of jam. Let this sit at least 5 hours or overnight in the fridge.

When you are ready to bake the Tofurkey; oil a baking pan (like a 9x13 glass or whatever fits) place a ball of the apple cranberry spelt (or stuffing of choice in the middle, about the size of the cavity you made in the tofu. Dump tofu on top, peel off the towel, smooth if you like, with a knife. Glaze with APPLE-SOY-MOLASSES glaze (follows) and bake about 60-90 min on 350 degrees F in oven.

Apple Soy Molasses Glaze

1 cup unsweetened, unspiced apple butter
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1 tbs balsamic vinegar (can use cider or wine)
1 tbs blackstrap molasses

Mix well, brush over unbaked Tofurkey and reglaze as you bake.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Save on most online purchases

When I shop online, I manage to knock off a few bucks. I saved on my Mothers Day flower, furniture and some kitchen gear. If you are ordering flowers for Mom, this can help.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rich Chickpea Vegetable Curry

This thick curry can be made vegan by substituting coconut milk for the yogurt. In all other respects, it is completely vegan

1 can Goya Chickpeas, drained
1 onion diced
2 cups various vegetables: I used turnip, mushroom, carrot, potato, green pepper but you can use zucchini, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower or any mix. Potato is a nice thing to include in any batch.
1/2 large can crushed tomatoes (I used Hunts, sans any seasoning like basil.)
1 cup water
2 Tbs Patak Mild Curry Paste
1 tsp Sweet Curry powder (Penzey)
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp Balti seasoning (Penzey)
1/4 cup unsweetened flake coconut
1/4 cup Golden Sultanas
1/2 cup whole milk or part-skim plain yogurt (or coconut milk)
Canola or mustard oil

Saute onion in oil until golden and clear. Add in the diced veg and the curry seasonings and coat under low heat until the vegetables are softened and coated well with the curry paste and powders. Add drained chickpeas, coat in seasoning. Add in the tomato and water, sultanas and coconut. Correct seasoning. Simmer covered for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, until the vegetables are quite soft. If you are using potatoes or turnips, this will take longer than soft vegetables like zucchini and green beans.

Off heat, stir in the yogurt. Serve over fresh, fluffy rice either brown or white Basmati is good.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Broccoli Slaw with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

This is so easy, it's ridiculous. And it uses broccoli stems, which I don't fancy on boiled broccoli but raw, well...it's another matter. If you like this light, delicious recipe, there are more in this wonderful vegan cookbook: Vegan Table

Recipe serves 2-4 (2 as main meal, 4 for side salad)

3-4 broccoli stems, peel any thick skin and remove dry end
2 carrots
1 Gala, Braeburn, Granny Smith or any good dessert apple, peeled
1/4 cup moist-style dried cranberries
2 Tbs Pomegranate vinegar
1 Tbs grapeseed oil or other neutral-flavored salad oil.

Shred vegetables and peeled apple in a food processor or on a grater. I use the coarse grater.
Stir in cranberries. Toss with pomegranate vinegar and oil.

Serve on a lettuce leaf, or in a bowl or to be fancy, slice an apple thinly equator-style (cross-wise making thin disks.) Lay five disks out on a salad plate and heap the slaw on top.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cranberry-Apricot Granola Bars

I despise granola bars. When given one for a breakfast or a snack, I'm depressed unutterably. But bars are useful as quick snacks, and my guy at home can't eat wheat or nuts and he often wants a quick snack-meal.  At a buck a piece for sugary commercial bars of little value, it's a poor proposition. 

So I developed some homemade granola bars with his favorite ingredients and they taste great--not a cookie, exactly, but definitely slightly chewy-crunchy and full of good ingredients. A few of these will make a good mini-meal. 

3/4 cup whole spelt flour (can use any gluten-free flour if you are gf.)

1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder (use rice protein if vegan)

1/3 cup agave syrup

1/3 cup canola oil

2/3 cup packed brown sugar (you can cut this down and add more agave or use rice malt syrup instead to reduce the sugar content.) Or substitute applesauce.

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cornstarch

1 1/4 cup rolled old-fashioned oats

1/4 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup milled flaxseed

1 cup rice krispie-type cereal (can be puffed millet as a variant.)

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup cut up dried apricots


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9" x 13" cake pan. 

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, and baking 
powder. Set aside.

Mix syrup, sugar and oil, blend well. Add vanilla. 

Add dry flour/powder ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Fold in. This will make a wet, brown sticky dough.

Wet your clean hands. Blend in the oats, flaxseed meal, flax seeds, rice krispies, dried fruits. Mix until the oats are well coated. 

Pat dough into prepared pan.  Press it WELL into the pan, using your damp knuckles. The better you press this, the better texture the bars will have. 

Bake for 20-25 min until golden brown. Cool COMPLETELY and then
cut into bars. Store in airtight containers or ziplock bags.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mittens finished. Now on to the hat

Knitting: mittens from Mostly Mittens 

And a hat to match. The mermaid thing on the right is the mitten blocker. To make a mitten blocker, go to your local Dollar Store and find a kiddy placemat. They seem (at least stores around here) to have thin acrylic mats with kiddy cartoon characters. We had Little Mermaid, but I've heard of Spongebob as well. Buy one of these for a buck, and cut it to make a template. I cut one piece for the hand, and a second for the thumb. No need to attach them.

To use the blocker, wet and blot your knitted mitten, then insert the thumb blocker in the thumb. Stretch and arrange, and then do the same with the hand blocker. I find bending the blocker to put it inside the mitten helps. Let dry. Your mitten will be nice and flat. Blocking makes a big difference to knitted mittens and gloves. 


Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year 2010!

It's New Year's Day, 2010. A new decade, in a new century, in a new millenium. In 1910, it was still shocking to see a glimpse of stocking.  Now, we see a whole lot MORE than we'd like to on television and out in public.  

What did I do today? I am cleaning my office (sort of) and I made Potage Celestine from Julia Child's second "Mastering the Art" cookbook. This is a leek-celery-rice based soup that is thickened with potato puree and milk. You can make it relatively low fat, but it is best served with a nice pat of butter on top.  I chose to rice the potatoes using a vintage Mouli Mill that makes a fluffy, light potato and avoids the glutinous mess that whipped potatoes can become. The soup, however, was pureed with a stick blender before adding the potato-milk liaison. Julia suggests serving with a beurre compose more or less with fresh herbs into butter pats, and I think a chiffonade of fresh tarragon, chives, sage and chervil would have taken this soup to new heights. I used parsley and it was ok.  Chives would have been better yet. But I'm not growing any at the moment. 

This is an inexpensive soup (2 leeks, a bunch of celery and a carton of organic chicken broth, milk, 4 potatoes and some butter.) It could be made lower fat by sauteeing the vegetables in bouillon powder and a touch of oil. It can adapt to vegan, even, using soy milk and veg broth. But I prefer the classic.