Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Top Ten Market

Gosh, you guys, I just haven’t been home much the past week, and I won’t be home tonight for a Sunday dinner with Chase. So I thought I would share yesterday morning’s trip to the farmers market with you. It was the first time I’ve had the chance to go this year.

The Sunset Valley Farmers Market in south Austin is fabulous. It’s 30 miles from my house, but definitely my market of choice (it’s only 10 miles from my mom’s house). It’s ranked as one of the top ten in the nation and apparently the rest of the city is coming to appreciate that fact, as this particular morning it was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. My mom and I arrived seven minutes after it opened and it was already full.

The above picture is a covered area to rest, eat, and listen to live music. Below shows one of the rows of busy vendors.

I’ve never been so happy to see a crowd of people. I bought a nice selection of produce – peaches, tomatoes, carrots (for Smokey), zucchini, purple kohlrabi, and onions. So far I’ve only had a peach and it was perfect. I love our Texas peaches!

I always look for carrots with full tops because Smokey absolutely loves them. The vendor I purchased from gave me all the loose tops he had, and told me that just one minute earlier he had given most of what he had to a man who wanted to feed them to his five rabbits. I still got plenty, and I’m glad to now know where I can get free treats for Smokey.

I also found a new vendor selling raw treats. He had samples out and oh my goodness, they are incredibly delicious. This is still in the wrapper, but check it out:

We also made a stop at Whole Foods. I found a locally made salad that I couldn’t resist buying.

Yes it is as tasty as it looks.

I hadn’t seen my son in nearly 2 weeks until he came by yesterday afternoon. I only got a quick look at him because he had just a 30 minute “lunch” break at 4:00. I put together a plate of leftover stirfried veggies, homemade pintos, and fries from one of our favorite restaurants. I also made two fresh salads, one with the sprouts and one with peaches and blueberries.

It's awfully hot here and I’m getting a little heat weary. How about you?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hedgehogs and Rainbows

I made it through my first Father’s Day without a father. It was very strange and excruciatingly sad, but bearable by spending the evening with my mom. We remembered how much Dad loved opening his cards and gifts, and barbecuing our dinner. He would carefully prepare veggies for me and Chase, wrapping them in foil to keep them meatfree, then plate them to make them blogworthy. All the family would be together and we would pitch washers or throw horseshoes while Dad tended the grill and made sure we were all having a good time. It was important to him to be a good father and a respectable man. He was an outstanding father and a remarkable man. I loved him so much and miss him every day.

For Sunday evening my mom fixed two fresh beautiful salads, one leafy green and one mixed fruit, both of which were delicious (and neither of which I took a picture of – oops). I made three dishes to take over. First, my Black Bean Salad. I know I’ve made this a hundred times, but everyone loves it and it’s just so pretty.

It had beans, corn, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, purple onion, green onions, avocado, and cilantro.

I made the Hedgehog Potatoes from Super Natural Cooking, mostly following the method and not the recipe. I sliced the purple potatoes and just brushed them all over, including between each slice, with olive oil seasoned with garlic, salt, and pepper. I think we used to call these Potato Fans, but I like Hedgehogs better.

They were delicious and a fun way to eat potatoes. Your fork can just cut through the rest of the slice and you’ll have yourself a nice bite of baked potato.

For a treat I had to make a vegan version of something I saw in a magazine – Rainbow Cupcakes. I made the Vanilla Cupcakes from VCTOTW and added in a heaping quarter cup of sprinkles. The cupcakes baked up beautifully.

I waited (im)patiently for them to cool, then cut one in half.

Yay! How fun is that! So then I had to eat it. The vanilla cupcake recipe was perfect for this because, as Isa says, they are not terribly sweet. Adding in the sprinkles made them just right. I didn’t want to put any frosting on them (I hate buttercream), but I thought I might run into a chocolate lover, so I put a little ganache on half of them.

I wish I hadn’t put chocolate on them. If you decide to make these and don’t want naked cuppers, I recommend a powdered sugar glaze made with lemon or orange juice, and a few extra sprinkles on top. In fact, I’m going to do just that for a party next Sunday. Well, they are for kids, so maybe some with buttercream too….

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tofu Millet Skillet & Raw Treats

I have two recipes for you in this post from our Monday night dinner, which had to be postponed from Sunday night. You know those places where you can go and prep your family dinners for the week? This dinner made me think someone should start up a vegan version.

Tofu Millet Skillet

Serves 4-6

1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup veggie broth
1 cup white wine
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. white wine vinegar
2 t. Bragg’s
3 t. Italian seasoning blend
½ t. crushed red pepper
1 cup millet
12-16 ounces baked tofu, cubed
½ pound fresh green beans
½ cup frozen peas
salt & pepper to taste
(any other seasonings you like)

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until onion is softened, a few minutes. Add the sundried tomatoes, broth, wine, vinegars, Bragg’s, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil; stir in millet. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. (If millet has soaked up all your broth, add in ½ cup more.) Add tofu, green beans, peas, and salt & pepper. Simmer about 6 minutes, or until green beans are crisp tender. Check seasonings before serving.

Chase really enjoyed his tofu prepared this way, and I really enjoyed it with the tofu picked out!

We also had Happy Herbivore’s Mac n’ Cheese, another test recipe for her cookbook. This was so yummy! I found some extra large elbow noodles to use, which made it fun to eat, plus it holds a lot of the cheesy sauce.

I made another delicious salad from Vegan Express, the Broccoli Salad with Yellow Peppers, Pine Nuts, and Cranberries. I didn’t have pine nuts, so I used sunflower seeds. I also added in some kohlrabi!

After eating the purple kohlrabi last week, I figured it would pair nicely with broccoli since it tastes like broccoli. You can never have too much broccoli.

My local market had fresh blackeyed peas, so we had those too.

Here are all the foods on the table, waiting for hungry vegans to help themselves.

I had two treats for dessert, one raw and one baked. The baked one was basically Banana Oat Bundles from Vive with chocolate chips and peanuts added. I make these a lot.

(Sorry for that awful picture!)
The raw treat was my own creation. I’m always on the lookout for a healthy way to get my chocolate fix, so I put together this recipe:

Raw Cocoa Nib Treats

¼ cup ground flax seeds
1 cup raw cashews
½ cup raw oats
6 dates
½ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup cocoa nibs
1 T. vanilla extract
2 T. coconut water

Place ground flax seeds, cashews, and oats in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add in the dates and process until dates are chopped fine. Add in the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Pat into an 8 x 8 pan and refrigerate until firm.

I don’t think the rolled oats I used were technically raw, but more nuts can be used in place of the oats for purists. Nonetheless, these are very, very good and certainly satisfy my chocolate cravings. In fact, Chase said he would “go raw” if he could eat treats like these all the time. He always says just the right things to keep me inspired!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bunny-sitting Makes Me Crave Salad and Raw Foods

Some of you may remember Chase’s pet rabbit, Smokey. Chase got him about a year ago when he just a baby bunny.

Smokey stayed with me this weekend while Chase’s air conditioner was being repaired and while he tended to a hectic work and summer school schedule. This is Smokey today.

It was hard to get a good shot of him. He liked to jump back and forth over my legs, lick my ankles, then jump some more. Chase says that means he loves me. He’s a beautiful rabbit. He’s very quiet and very sweet and will stare right into your eyes. He also helped me do six loads of Chase’s laundry!

Coincidently, my internet went out yesterday morning. I checked all the cords to make sure Smokey hadn’t unplugged anything. They seemed fine. I asked Chase to buy me a new modem today, which he did, and then he came over for dinner and began to install the modem. I told him I was sorry that I had initially blamed Smokey for the problem. Chase looked at me, stopped what he was doing, and went into the room where Smokey had stayed. After carefully inspecting the phone cord, he found a spot with little rabbit teeth! I took back my apology, got a new phone cord, put the old modem back in, and here I am. Anyway, Chase’s air conditioner is fixed and Smokey is now back home with Chase.

While Smokey was here, I made lots of trips to the fridge for lettuce to feed to him. He’s like me and especially loves the purple variety of oak leaf lettuce. I think he inspired me to make two very yummy salads.

First, Spinach, Artichoke, and Chickpea Salad from Vegan Express.

This salad also had roasted yellow peppers, olives, and cherry tomatoes, and I used mixed greens instead of just spinach as suggested for a variation – delicious!

Second, Ani’s Raw Spinach Salad with Marinated Onions and Mustard Seed Dressing. Again, I used mixed greens and spinach, and this salad was also delicious. I love the mustard seed dressing.

I did try another recipe from Ani’s Raw which was a complete, into-the-garbage can failure. I mostly blame myself. The Lemon Coconut Bars sounded so wonderful, but there is only one step of instructions included, and the recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of sea salt. I don’t put a whole tablespoon of salt into anything. So, thinking I don’t know anything about raw food prep, but not really wanting to use so much of my sea salt, I only put in a half tablespoon. It smelled heavenly, but oh, man, it was inedibly salty. I should have known better. I wasted a whole cup of expensive raw almonds and I was not happy.

Still wanting a raw treat, I remembered Ruby Red Vegan’s homemade larabars. These are a smashing success!

I also tried my own version of raw treats. I baked them in the sun, then refrigerated them. They turned out really nice and I will post my recipe later this week.

Chase dropped the Take n’ Bake Breakfast Pizza Pie I made for him. So I made him another one and baked it myself.

He took it home with him when he picked up Smokey and said he would eat it that night and let me know how it was. Thankfully, he loved it. He said it tasted like mac n’ cheez on a biscuit and he ate the whole thing!

I’ll be back later in the week with a post about tonight’s dinner and perhaps a couple of recipes. I missed checking all your blogs yesterday! I just hung out with Smokey and watched a little tv and stayed cool in between loads of laundry.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Fancy Fun with Tofu and Chickpeas

All kinds of recipe ideas have been popping into my head lately. I’m trying to sort them out and get them onto paper because I don’t seem to get inspired very often. I did manage to get a couple of them to work out for our most recent Sunday dinner.

Wasabi Pea Crusted Tofu - In addition to using only crushed wasabi peas for the crust, I tried a new baking method as well. I cut a pound of tofu into 6 slices. I spread a mix of Dijon mustard and miso mayonnaise over all the slices, then coated them in the peas. I placed them on a cooling rack which fit perfectly onto a baking sheet. I didn’t want to have to flip the tofu and disturb the crust.

I just need to figure out how to hold the tofu and move it onto the baking sheet without making any bald spots on the sides or edges. Still working on that. I really like using the thick mustard instead of a marinade type wet dip. The crust sticks REALLY nicely. I can’t tell you how tempted I was to use my wasabi mustard, but I wanted Chase to be able to enjoy his tofu! And putting the tofu on the rack and not having to flip it worked out great. The crust was crispy all over and the tofu baked perfectly.

Chase LOVED this! He insisted I have a tiny bite, and yeh, if you like wasabi peas and tofu you can’t go wrong with this recipe.

I can’t do tofu, but I wanted fancy food too. Hmmm, how to fancy up beans… (lightbulb) Cook them in wine! Anything cooked in wine is fancy. Even a can of chickpeas. I put the chickpeas in about a half cup of red wine, then let it simmer until the wine was reduced almost completely. I added in some arugula to balance out the sweet wine flavor. We both loved this dish as well.

That’s it for the inspired foods. I also made a teriyaki stirfry, which for some reason we hadn’t enjoyed in a long time. This was great, and so pretty, with broccoli, red pepper, purple onion, green cabbage, and carrots.

I also made baked rice with adzuki beans, only I couldn’t find adzuki beans so these are pink beans. I love baked rice. It always turns out fluffy and perfectly cooked.

Ever since I read that kohlrabi tastes like broccoli stalks, I’ve been searching madly for it. It’s in season now, but the kohlrabi season is, sadly, a short one. Last week the stars were aligned and not only did I find kohlrabi, but the only kohlrabi in the market was purple! CCV, my purple food compadre, are you ready?

Isn’t it beautiful! I really wanted to roast these, but I already had rice and tofu for the oven. So I boiled them. Kohlrabi is in the turnip family, so boiling it gave it the texture of potatoes. And it did have quite a nice hint of broccoli flavor. (Oh, I just got another recipe idea!) They are not at all purple on the inside; they are very white.

And they are delicious. At 40 calories a cup they are the perfect substitute for potatoes (if you’re watching your calories). The sign at the market said they are an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of potassium. And remember from my last post I raved about the greens. You know the greens are full of nutritional goodness. I will be back at my market to buy a lot more kohlrabi, even if it’s not purple.

So here is our dinner, the tofu, chickpeas, stirfry, rice, kohlrabi, and a little condiment from a recipe I found in an Asian cookbook – toasted sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, and a pinch of salt. It went nicely with the veggies.

Chase’s fancy tofu plate.

He tried to eat half a pound of tofu, but only ate two of those pieces. Here’s my fancy bean plate.

And lastly, dessert. I made my own recipe of mango ice cream. It was so smooth and creamy and full of fresh mangoes, and soyfree (I used coconut milk) so I could enjoy it too. (Vegan Noodle, I made it in my ice cream maker. Yes, you should get one!) I served it topped with more fresh mango and shredded coconut.

Sadly, it had a slightly “off” taste. I knew the mangoes I used were good, because I tasted them before I tossed them into the blender. What I didn’t taste was the mango nectar I used – the two full cups I used. Rats. Oh, well, lesson learned. And another recipe to work the kinks out of.

Have you heard about the Tainted Tomatoes in Texas? I sure hope this will be resolved quickly.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Take n’ Bake Breakfast Pizza Pie

It may be a couple of days before I can post about tonight’s dinner, so I thought I’d do a quick post about a couple of new foods I tried out today.

My son loves pizza. Oh, everybody’s kids love pizza. Oh, we all love pizza! My son also loves breakfast. I wanted to experiment with sending Chase home with a ready-to-go pizza he could pop into the oven and eat fresh. I decided on a breakfast pizza.

First I made a cheesy tofu scramble of crumbled tofu, onions, sundried tomatoes, and a melty cheese sauce. (Cook the onions first, then add everything else in.) Do you guys eat cheesy scrambles? I can’t eat scrambles because of my soy intolerance, but I had a bite of this one and man, it was great!

I used a Pillsbury can ‘o pizza dough and rolled it out to fit a 9-inch glass pie pan. I layered fresh spinach over the crust, mainly to keep it from getting soggy.

Then I filled it with the scramble…

… and included some instructions.

I’m hoping Chase will bake it tomorrow, then tell me it was the best pizza ever! I know the filling is good. I just hope it makes a good pizza. I’ll let you know.

A food that is NOT the best ever is green kidney beans. I picked these up awhile back.

They are kind of light green and some are all white. I cooked the whole box. The box had weird instructions in different languages and goofy columns of numbers and symbols and all I could find online was “cook until done.” I hate that. I cooked the beans for 2 hours, until my water ran out.

I hate them. They taste raw green. And they’re not soft. But I’ll eat them, probably mixed in with a green salad. Ughhh. I never enjoyed fancy French food anyway.

THESE greens, however, were the best I’ve ever ever had. Ever! They are the greens from my purple kohlrabi which we will be eating later tonight. I hope I can find more because they are too delicious! Not at all bitter, and they stay firm like kale does after steaming. So yummy.

I’m anxious to see what all of you have been cooking!