Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

So busy! The kids have swimming lessons at 6:30 every evening, and Annelies also has a singing class at 10 every morning this week. Today she also has piano lessons at 4. That leaves little time for cooking. I've been doing a little cooking late-night for the next night's dinner. Really easy stuff, like a massive batch of black beans with tomatoes and brown rice. (I know I've posted about these black beans before, but I can't find the damn post. It was a long time ago. It's essentially onion, garlic, however many black beans you want, however many cans of diced, fire-roasted tomatoes you want, and whatever seasonings you like. Simmer for a while and serve over rice.)

This week's CSA pick-up was insane. I've got lots of vegetables to cook, and not much time to cook them. Maybe I should get off the computer and get in the kitchen!

Oh, I have a new favorite thing to rave about for a minute. It's Living Harvest Vanilla Hempmilk. It is so, so, so much better than soy or rice milk. I had a cup of it poured over some fresh blueberries for breakfast this morning. YUM!

Posting is going to be dodgy with all the activities this week, but I'll do the best I can!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Veggie Feast

I cooked up a huge veggie feast this evening, nearly using up this week's CSA bounty. Guess what? I forgot to take photos of everything! I'll describe it as best as I can, and you'll have to use your imagination for a visual. I'll add some random vacation photos throughout the post for your viewing pleasure. :) We were in the Finger Lakes region of New York. It was beautiful, and there were organic farms everywhere! How awesome is that?

This is our view of Skaneateles Lake from the dock at the cabin were we stayed. Skaneateles Lake is the cleanest lake in the world! Cool, huh?

When going through my Grandma's recipes this past week, I found a recipe for baked squash. It was my Aunt Phyllis's recipe which she got from the Battletown Inn. It looked so easy that I knew it would be a great way to use the squash from the CSA. Here's the recipe:

Slice 6 squash and boil until done. Saute and onion in 2 TBS butter until soft, and combine with cooked squash and 1 cup crushed Saltines in a baking dish. Top with lots of butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 400 degrees for half an hour. (I used Earth Balance in place of butter, and probably didn't use as much as the original recipe called for. The squash was fantastic, but I think using more butter would've given it a crunchier topping.)

The kids posing with statues at the Women's rights museum in Seneca Falls, NY. It was really cool, and I actually felt a little emotional there. It kind of took me by surprise.

I also made some pesto using fresh basil, olive oil, toasted pine nuts, garlic and almesan. (Almesan is a vegan substitute for parmesan cheese. The recipe is in V-con.) It was really tasty spread on some great bread that Olives brought over.

What else? Oh, yeah. The Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing from VWaV. Very easy and really good. A nice change from plain sauteed of steamed kale. From the CSA we also had a nice bag of Rose Gold potatoes and also some white carrots. I chopped them up and tossed them in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and agave nectar then sprinkled with salt and some thyme. I roasted them at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. YUM! The rose golds were crisp on the outside, but very soft inside. A little sweet too.

This is the gorge in Watkins Glen state park. It took us just over an hour to hike through, and was probably some of the most impressive natural scenery I've experienced.

I think my favorite thing I made was the chipotle glazed haricots vert. Last summer, we got so many beans that I started creating new ways to cook them. This may have been the best way I came up with. I start by sauteeing half of an onion, finely chopped, until it's soft. Then, I add in the beans. When they're nearly done, but still nice and crisp, I turn the heat up a bit and add the glaze. The glaze is just a chipotle pepper, chopped fine, and about 1/4 cup brown sugar. To that I add a splash or two of water. Turning the heat up before adding the glaze makes the glaze really syrup-y and it clings to the beans better.

So, I'm guessing with that meal, we exceeded our daily recommendation of vegetables. We probably doubled it!

Fresh, organic vegetables at the Ithaca, NY farmer's market. All items there must be produced within 30 miles of Ithaca. It was the best farmer's market I've ever seen.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Sad Note...

Hello, all. I just wanted to let you all know that I probably won't be posting for the next week and a half to two weeks. I found out this evening that my Gram passed away. We're heading home to be with my dad for a couple of days, then going on a vacation with him to the Finger Lakes in New York. We're all very sad, although my Gram's death wasn't completely unexpected. She'll certainly be missed by all of us, and I'm so glad that my kids got the chance to really know her and form a great relationship with her before she became sick. I just wanted to let everyone know that I'll be on hiatus for a while.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Slip N' Slide

I got the kids a really cool slip n' slide from Magic Cabin. They've been having a ball with it. It's much better that the slip n' slides of my youth. It has an inflatable runway, which leads into a nice pool at the end. I remember the slip n' slides of my day as being a long, narrow tarp-like thing that was on the ground. You'd feel every hole, gravel or branch you slid over. So, I'm happy to say that they are now much improved for a smoother ride.

I guess it's been a while since I've posted. Summer always gets away from me. So, I'll get started with last week's chickpea cutlet salad. I made the chickpea cutlets my usual way (that means that I reduce the wheat gluten and increase the breadcrumbs a little.) After frying them up, I cut them into strips, let them cool slightly, then put them on top of the salad greens. I topped that with some oven-fries. They're the garlic oven-fries which I found in Cooking Light. I made a creamy maple-dijon dressing for the salad. In a bowl, I whisked together:

approximately 2 TBS dijon mustard
approximately 2 TBS maple syrup
a good scoop of Vegenaise
a splash of cider vinegar
enough soy milk to thin it to a nice texture

It was such a good dressing. Perfect for this type of salad, which is basically your veggie take on a chicken-strip salad you'd get at a restaurant. Yum! It really turned out great. I can't wait to do it with black bean burgers and a chipotle ranch dressing.

I kind of took a couple of days off from cooking over the weekend. I'm much more into cooking when the weather is more moderate. I hate standing in front of a hot stove when it's steamy outside. Yuck! So, for the 4th of July, I made some BBQ baked beans with some leftover Backyard BBQ sauce (V-con) that I had left over. I threw it in a pot with some cooked pintos, a jar of pineapple salsa, a few squirts of ketchup and mustard, and a drizzle of maple syrup. I baked them at 375 for a couple hours. That BBQ sauce really makes some good baked beans! I also made some coleslaw with a nice, fresh head of cabbage from the farmer's market. I diced some onion, grated some carrots and made a standard coleslaw dressing using: Vegenaise, soymilk, sugar, cider vinegar, black pepper and a good pinch of cumin. We had typical holiday fare (except it was vegetarian) with Olives and her family. We watched the fireworks in the pouring rain later that evening. Olives made an awesome nectarine and peach cobbler. I think it was this recipe from Cooking Light.

Last night, I needed to use up some cooked pinto beans. I found this recipe for chipotle bean-burgers from Vegetarian Times. I had made them several times before, but it's been at least two years ago. They're really tasty, but as I made them I remembered that they always fall apart during the frying process. I managed to keep them together reasonably well, but it's really a PitA, and leaves a big mess in my beloved cast-iron skillet. They really did taste great stuffed in a pita with the cilantro, adobo sour cream sauce though. I just mixed up some Better Than Sour Cream with some adobo sauce from the can of chipotles and some chopped cilantro. Perfect! To go with them, I cooked up some beet greens from the CSA. I didn't really know what to do with them, so I found this recipe. Obviously, I left out the bacon and instead added a few drops of liquid smoke at the end. They were awesome! Really, really tasty. So, if anyone out there is looking to cook up some beet greens, I'd highly suggest this recipe.

Tonight, in an effort to use up the rest of my cilantro from last week's CSA delivery, I made linguine with basil-cilantro pesto and artichoke hearts. The recipe is from V-con, and actually calls for spinach linguine, which I couldn't find. I went with plain linguine. I have to say, it is a very easy, flavorful pasta dish that is dinner-party worthy. I also had a bag of sugar snap peas form last week's delivery. I steamed them and then tossed them in just a tad of Earth Balance and spinkled them with salt. They may be my new favorite vegetable. I could easily make a meal of them.

We've been getting lots of garlic scapes from our CSA. To ensure that I use them all up, I use them just as I would garlic in recipes. Maybe use more scapes than you would use garlic since they have a milder taste. I've never been able to use them all up in years past, but this year I've used every one of them.

I've really been digging the new Coldplay album, Viva la Vida. It could be on it's way to becoming my favorite Coldplay album. (Do you love it, Carrie?) You can check out some songs from Viva la Vida on their myspace page. It's really excellent stuff. I'll be playing the hell out of it for a while, I think.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, P!

Who is "P," you ask? "P" is what my husband (aka Sleekpelt, or Sleek) call each other. It's derived from sweet-pea. Over the years, we've shortened it to just "P." We pretty much exclusively call each other that. So, that's who "P" is, and yesterday was his 36th b-day. For his 35th I threw him a big party. This year I just made him a nice dinner.

I decided to go with Indian food, because he really liked the Indian veggie burgers and Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower. Both recipes are from Cooking Light. To go with the burgers, I made a spicy mango chutney mayo (using Vegenaise). I served them with pita, red onions and lettuce. So good. I decided to try something different since it was a special occasion. I made some homemade vegetable pakoras. I found this recipe, and used it for the flour/seasoning/water measurements. Then I added shredded carrot, chopped kale, minced onion and a chopped garlic scape to the batter. I can't remember the last time I deep-fried something, so I was a little nervous about that. They actually turned out great! I mean, really, really great. Wow! I'll definitely be making those again. I couldn't come up with a good dip for them. At the Indian restaurant, they have a spicy onion chutney and a tamarind sauce to dip them in. I tried making a tamarind sauce, but I only have tamarind concentrate. I couldn't get it mild enough and still retain a non-watery texture. I also played around with some ketchup and mango chutney, but I thought it still tasted to ketchup-y. So, we had them without dip. The recipe does use quite a bit of seasoning, so they were absolutely fine without the dip.

For dessert, I made a blueberry crisp. I kind of just winged this one, and let me tell you, it may have been the best crisp I've ever had. Seriously. It was crazy-good. Here's what I did (these are estimations. I didn't measure anything):

4-6 cups fresh blueberries
juice from half a lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBS cornstarch

Mix all of above ingredients in a reasonably large baking dish.


1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 TBS Earth Balance (in small-ish pieces)

Mix oats, flour and brown sugar in a bowl. With fingers, mix in Earth Balance until it's all crumbly.

Then, spread topping evenly over blueberries and bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until it's golden brown and blueberries are bubbling at the edges.

We had the crisp with a big scoop of vanilla Rice Dream. We have decided to strictly limit our use of dairy products. The commercial dairy industry is absolutely horrible. We have no good local source for dairy (We can get few local cheeses, but not much variety. The kids are the big cheese-eaters, so it's mainly cheddar and mozzerella around here.), as West Virginia has very strict laws pertaining to that. We did find this group in Wisconsin, who sells cheeses online for very reasonable prices. The cows are treated humanely, and it's a co-op of farmers.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Chickpeas, Chickpeas Everywhere!

I cooked up a big batch of chickpeas on Saturday. I didn't feel like freezing them, so I just put them all in the fridge and decided to use them all this week. A little ridiculous eating chickpeas everyday, so I found some recipes where they aren't too dominant. Just used as more of a filler, really.

Saturday evening, I decided to make some chickpea gravy. It's a favorite around here, and although I view as more of a fall/winter dish, I decided to make it anyway. It's so good, I could really just eat it plain with a spoon. I'm telling you, I think anyone would love this gravy. Even the most enthusiastic meat-eater. I made some mashed potatoes to go with it. I also had a large head of Chinese cabbage from the CSA. I stir-fried it with some onions, and made a little sauce with some shoyu, mirin, sugar, Thai chile paste, sesame oil and water. It was very, very good.

As some of you may know, my previous attempt at falafel fell apart (literally). Fellow blogger, Carrie, posted about her success at making falafel a few weeks ago. She used a recipe she found online, which used un-cooked (soaked) chickpeas. I had reserved enough chickpeas for the recipe before I cooked my big batch. I can't thank you enough, Carrie, for finding that recipe and posting about your success with it! It will certainly become a regular around here. It was just so good. Like Carrie, I used fresh cilantro and mint in it instead of the parsley. I already had them on hand, so that was the deal. I even made the vegan Tzatziki sauce to go with it. I didn't have any cucumber (I went to the store to get pita, and picked up a cuke too, and just sliced it onto the sandwich), so I just used Tofutti sour cream, a little soy milk, chopped mint and chopped cilantro. Yum, yum, yum. Maybe the best falafel ever!

Last night, I made one of our favorites: Chickpeas Romesco over garlic saffron rice. It's from V-con. This one never gets old. I think I could eat it once a week. I had some sugar snap peas that I picked up at the farmers market. I lightly sauteed them and sprinkled with a little sea salt. What a great meal. The recipe really makes a lot, so there's always plenty of leftovers with this one. Okay, mentioning "leftovers" has made my tummy start to rumble. Think I'll go eat them...