Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Celebrating the Sabbats as a Vegan; Yule

Celebrating the Sabbats as a Vegan; Yule

(originally posted on Enchanted Forest) by me.

Yule is probably the one holiday during the year that I feel most connected to, due to my upbringing. It was a time that my family gathered, seeing members we hadn't seen very often during the year. Playing catch up and just generally spreading cheer and love. I don't think very much has changed with my Yule menu since I turned vegan (from vegetarian) so much as how I make it has changed. Here's the foodstuffs:

Main Course: Lentil and millet loaf ( adapted from: http://www.mercyforanimals.org/thanksgiving-recipes.aspx )

Condiment: Mushroom Gravy (also adapted from: http://www.mercyforanimals.org/thanksgiving-recipes.aspx )

Side: Mashed potatoes

Side: Sesame & ginger green beans

Salad: Warm kale & sun dried tomato salad

Side: Cranberry & orange relish

Dessert: Pumpkin pie (adapted from: http://www.alisacooks.com/2009/11/05/dairy-free-soy-free-pumpkin-pie/ )

Dessert: Yule log (taken from: http://www.veganfamily.co.uk/yule.html )

Main course: Normally I do a Tofurky, its quick, its easy - it tastes delicious... but I wanted something different this year. I did a test run of this great lentil & millet loaf... I don't want to say "meat" loaf because that would be misleading as it is not really meat-like at all. However it is a wodnerful loaf with grains and legumes and veggies that tastes amazing! Especially with the mushroom gravy that we'll be making.
Lentil Millet loaf

Ingredients:

3 cups of cooked lentils

3 cups cooked millet

3 cups steamed brown rice

1 cup whole wheat bread, crumbled

1/2 cup dry oatmeal

1/2 cup almonds ground fine

approximately 3/4 cup of tomato juice

1 Tbs of oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small carrot, chopped small

1/2 cup chopped zucchini

1/2 cup chopped yellow squash

1 cup chopped canned tomato

1 heaping Tbs of sage

salt to taste

Directions:

This is enough to make two loaves, so if you're only eating for two cut it in half.

Preheat oven 350°, lightly oil two bread loaf pans.

Lightly sauté onions, garlic & veggies in oil, add water to "steam" if they need to be softer.

Combine all the ingredients and mix well, if not holding its shape well enough add vegetable broth or water (a tablespoon at a time).

Scoop the mixture into the pans and bake for approximately 1 hour until browned on top.
Mushroom gravy

Ingredients:

8 Tbs vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic -- squashed and minced

2 slices yellow onion -- chopped

4 white mushrooms, chopped

5-8 Tbs all-purpose white flour (if you want it more watery, use less. Less watery, use more)

4 tsp nutritional yeast

3 Tbs tamari (you can use Braggs Liquid Aminos instead - but Tamari tases soooo good!)

2 cups "chick'n" broth (Edward & Sons is my fav)

1/2 tsp sage

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

Directions: On medium heat in a deep pan, saute the garlic & onions in the vegetable oil until translucent. Add tamari, nutrtional yeast & flour to make a roux (I like to mix flour & nutritional yeast before pouring it in). Once evenly distributed and all flour is saturated slowly add chicken broth and mix in well. Add mushrooms & remaining spices and cook until thickened.
Mashed Potatoes

Make mashed potatoes as you normally would - except add a dollup of vegan margarine & vegan sour cream! Or you can fry up a little bit of minced garlic and stir it in. The idea is to not stirl the potatoes too much because they lose their "fluffiness" and become sticky instead. I don't really care either way - mashed potatoes are AWESOME. Nomnomnom.
Sesame Ginger Green Beans

1 pound of green beans, ends removed & cut in half

1 one inch by one inch piece of ginger peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup (more or less is preference) sesame seeds

2-3 TBSP of tamari or liquid aminos

2 TBSP sesame oil
Directions:

In small frying pan, place sesame seeds (in a dry pan!) roast over medium heat until fragrant & lightly browned, stirring frequently as they do burn quickly. Set aside.

On medium heat in a large frying pan, place oil, garlic, ginger & green beans, cook until color is brightened, but bean is still slightly crisp. Add tamari & toss, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Warm Kale and Sundried Tomato Salad

Ingredients

1 bunch kale

2 TBSP sundried tomatoes, crushed

1/4-1/2 cup water (depends on pot size and amount of kale)

1 TBSP olive oil

1/2-1 TBSP hot sauce (Like Franks Red Hot)

Directions:

De-stem all of the kale (its easy to just take thumb nail down the stem or you can cut it out). Chop into bite sized pieces. Place in cool pan, drizzle with oil & massage the oil into the kale leaves to coat. Sprinkle with crushed sundried tomatoes, water & hot sauce. Cover, cook on medium heat until wilted, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and cook until water is gone. Be careful not to burn! Serve warm.

Cranberry and Orange relish

Ingredients:

1 bag of raw cranberries, rinsed and sorted (remove any bad mushy ones)

2 sweet oranges or 4 clementines, rinsed & chopped with rind, de-seeded

1/2 cup maple syrup (or more to taste)
Place cranberries & oranges (separately or together if they will fit in yours) in a food processor and chop finely. The orange my turn mushy - but thats ok! Mix together, add maple syrup & let sit in fridge for 10 minutes to half an hour. Serve.
Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Organic Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Organic White Sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

2 EnerG "eggs"

1 15oz can of pumpkin (WITHOUT spices!!)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup coconut milk
1 graham cracker crust (I purchased mine already made, you can easily find a recipe online to make one yourself, like this one: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/desertrecipes/r/grahamcrust.htm )

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Combine all dry ingredients, add the egg, pumpkin & vanilla. Mix well. Fold in milk. Pour into crust, bake 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350° and bake another 50 minutes. Let cool an hour before cutting! May still be a bit jiggly before it sets.

Yule Log

I pretty much followed the exact recipe from the link above, so I don't feel the need to repeat it. The only thing I changed was that I sprinkled some coconut over the frosting instead of more sugar. I also think it would be ADORABLE to whip up a batch of vanilla frosting, split it in half - dying one half red & the other green... and making holly leaves and berries as a decoration!
Remember, intent. Cook with magical intent, infuse your foods with nothing but happiness, peacefullness & prosperty. I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season, regardless of what you celebrate. Blessed be.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shopping day!


Michael & I visited a whole bunch of grocery stores and spent a little money on some groceries today... which is kind of exciting. Especially when its mostly shopping for the holidays. I picked up a Tofurky for the Thanksgiving dinner being held at my Mother-In-Love's house this week. I also picked up some Gimme Lean Sausage for my stuffing so it will taste just like mom's! YAY! I also bought some millet which is going to be in one of the recipes I hope to make for Yule. I'm pretty excited.

Anyway, for lunch I had a Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burger - which, btw... is my absolute favorite veggie burger ever. Not joking. It is actually made out of vegetables. There are chunks of carrots and peas in it. FABULOUS. I highly recommend them. I fried mine in a little bit of veggie oil and then smothered it in lightly fried green onions, romaine lettuce and a quick sauce I whipped up that involved vidalia onion mustard, mayo & tahini. I was also too lazy to make real coleslaw so I chopped up some cabbage and carrots and green onion and drizzled a home made slaw sauce over it (really fast and easy - mayo, white vinegar & maple syrup!).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What a day!




I didn't like oatmeal until recently in life. I think I mentioned it in my confessions blog awhile back. There is something relaxing however, to have a big bowl of hot mushy oatmeal smothered in fruit and maple syrup that makes a chilly morning bearable. I particularly love blueberries and peaches which is what I had this morning. Probably would have been wonderful with some coconut milk - but didn't think of it at the time.

I followed breakfast up with some painting, then had lunch - a stirfry with some fake pork stuff. I made a really interesting sauce to go on top... sweet chili sauce, vidalia onion mustard and almond butter... I liked it and would make it again.




I followed THAT up with some yard work... and by that I mean - FINDING the yard under all of the leaves that fell out of my hickory tree. Oh goodness... and then! MORE PAINTING! What fun! The room looks very different and I love it!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Internet Censorship! Really important guys!







Please take the time to read about the bill that is trying to be made into law involving internet censorship. This will seriously affect all of us - regardless of whether or not you watch youtube, look at facebook or have a blog. An average citizen can be put in jail for 5 years under this law. We have first amendment rights and this law would seriously put that at jeopardy. Please sign and pass this on to friends!

To visit, click the censorship bar above.

Yay!




So, I have a million food photos I want to post, but that will have to wait until another day. I was able to gather some cilantro, a green bell pepper (on an expired plant) and some kohlrabi greens today... (I also have a picture of the two bags of ORGANIC sprouting beans I scored at a THRIFT STORE! Yes it says .49 cents!) I wanted something yummy and filling. What I really REALLY wanted was Chipotle. Anyhow, since I wasn't getting that I dug up some rice, and found a can of black beans (that I FORGOT TO USE - doesn't matter, still tasted good) and THIS recipe for Chipotle style rice...(which I didn't exactly follow) and voila, lunch. NOM.



Also, I decided it was time to attack the house. I've been living in a cave for the better part of a year and decided its time to paint some walls, get some light in here! I'm far from done (considering I started less than 4 hours ago) but I already feel a million times better. Really.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Celebrating the Sabbats as a Vegan: Samhain




I know this is a bit late. This year I didn't plan on doing a full menu because I was supposed to hang out with a few fellow witches, when the hostess fell ill the day before (bless her poor heart). So, while I did have a few things in mind, I had nothing solid.

I came across a really nice little article about traditional Halloween meals... in Ireland. I'm ok with that, since here in the US we're too busy stuffing our face with candy to make a feast. I'm really glad I came across it because it taught me something new and forced me to TRY something new which turned out completely awesome.

So here it is:

Main dish: Colcannon
Side dish: A simple salad if you want & Roasted butternut squash
Dessert-ish: Fruit scone & Apple cake

I know the menu is short... the Colcannon is a warm, hearty comfort food that has starch, veggies AND (faux) meat in it... and really doesn't need to have a whole feast surrounding it (in my opinion).

Colcannon was based on THIS recipe. I pretty much followed the recipe, I did use almond milk instead of soy. The only other thing I changed was the seitan. My significant other came home and said "I have a surprise for you." I'm always suspicious when he says that... and slightly hopeful its a kitten (I need a kitten like I need a broken leg). He handed me a funny green package of what looked to be PORK RINDS. I nearly smacked him with it... lucky for him I read the fine print "Vegan Pork Slices, imitation pork".

The brand is VegeUSA(I find this insanely ironic considering it is a product of Taiwan) and they are dehydrated imitation pork pieces, made from soybean protein, starch, wheat protein, "vegan fiber(uh?!)", and soybean oil. It actually tasted pretty good in the colcannon considering its apparently traditionally made with pork! It was such a funny coincidence that he just happened to bring it home. Unfortunately, I don't know what to do with the rest of it since I didn't even eat pork when I was a meat eater.

Sometimes when I'm particularly lazy I will heat up some (instant) mashed potatoes and throw veggies in it... often, leafy greens like kale. So to find out that there is actually a dish that NORMAL people eat that is kind of similar, I was pretty stoked. Would have been REALLY tasty with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds on top too. SO YAY! COLCANNON! *big heart*

For the roasted butternut squash, I prefer mine VERY "bland". Ie: I do not use sugar on my squash. I cut it in half (I leave the seeds in until done - and then toss or eat them, whatever...they've got a great nutty taste), I roast it cut face down at 350 for like, an hour and a half and then I may or may not add vegan margarine and salt. Thats it. I eat it cold, I eat it for breakfast... I love squash, but I don't love to have the flavor drowned in syrupy sugary sweetness. For those of you that like that sugary sweetness - cut, scoop out seeds (boil them in salted water for a couple minutes and then roast!) add a glob of margarine in the center and sprinkle on the maple syrup or honey or vegan brown sugar and then bake as directed above. Check occasionally for burning (and if getting too brown cover with aluminum foil).

If you're going for a salad I would recommend something light and simple. However, if you're trying to stick to "in season" stuff and have extra kale, a raw kale salad is wonderful. There are lots of different ways to make kale salad, you can google and find one with your favorite ingredients. my favorite way isn't quite "traditional" ie: some of the ingredients are not local... Here is a great video recipe for how I like to make it. Avocado, yum.

OK! Onto the desserts! So, I have never had, much less made, an apple cake. However, I think this one turned out pretty good! I followed the recipe, I threw in a handful of wonderful dried cranberries (I wish I had had other dried fruit, but used them all in the scone below) and sprinkled with walnuts. I REALLY wish I had roasted the walnuts and THEN mixed them in, because the ones on top were AMAZING. This was wonderful for breakfast too. I pulled it out when it was still the TINIEST bit moist. Also, pan size really does matter... I used a round cake pan, and it did overflow a little. Luckily, I had it on a pizza stone... (maybe not luckily).

As for the scone, I made two of these because they are SO DARN AWESOME. I think I posted the first try last post. Well I made another, everything was the same (chocolate, coconut, walnuts) except I added about 1/4 cup of dehydrated fruit (that I had re-hydrated with some hot water). I can't remember if I drained all of the water or not, but it made for a MUCH more moist scone than the last one, more cake like I guess. I think I ate the whole thing. I don't recommend that, be good to yourself and give some to a friend or neighbor.

I wanted REALLY badly to make a pumpkin pie(I mean, come on... Samhain, pumpkins... correlation?), but currently lack the ingredients to do so... however a friend suggested THIS Pumpkin Tart recipe that she made for Thanksgiving last year.

Anyway - the other stuff I've made, but didn't add to the menu was home made sugar free applesauce, which was AMAZING. You can find that recipe HERE. As well as the banana bread I mentioned in the last post, but this time I added some oatmeal to it, which made it incredibly moist and delicious.

Anyway, I hope you guys had an amazing Samhain/Halloween and I hope this upcoming year is amazing for each and every one of you! If you have any questions about this blog and wonder why its not laid out like my other Sabbats post, don't hesitate to leave a response below.

Also, I'm blaming big corporations for my sweet Christmas cactus' confusion and early bloom... (since there has been CHRISTMAS music playing at the mall since Nov. 1st).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Curry and stuff!





Lately I haven't felt like doing anything, cleaning my house, cooking dinner, cleaning the cat boxes... yeah, none of that. However, some of it needs doing regardless of how I feel... and some of it, well... I have ramen as back up.

Anyway, I've been inspired by Melomeals photos that she posts on her Facebook. All of her meals look hearty and filling - which so often, vegan meals (especially raw meals) lack.

A couple days ago I made banana bread, many vegan recipes found all over... however I based mine on this "low-fat" version. I did in fact, use sugar this time - and I REALLY regretted it... the bread tasted "fine" but after not eating sugar for so long, it tastes kinda... yucky. I prefer agave or maple syrup and won't make this mistake again. I also didn't use margarine, but instead used vegan shortening. Oh yeah, I always use a tiny bit more vanilla than called for, three bananas instead of two and almond milk instead of soy. Best of all, I topped the whole thing off with sweetened shredded coconut... AMAZING! OMG. I will never make plain banana bread ever... ever again.

I also made a Chocolate Coconut scone! I've never made a scone before so I found this recipe and based if off of that. I did a mix of half semi-sweet chocolate chips made by Ghirardelli. I also "splashed" some walnuts in there (whatever I had extra from the banana bread, probably a tablespoon or two max. Came out great! I was not sure what to expect as its "dry"(not a bad thing in this case) and crumbly - it so makes me question my decision to leave my coffee maker in storage. Pleasantly surprising, and I think I will make it again, but maybe with fruit next time.




I also made some baba ghanoush!! Michael & I found a great deal on eggplant at the grocery, $1 each! However, they were on the exit stage left side of freshness... so I decided to roast them. I found a recipe here, but I did adjust stuff... a lot... and added extra stuff... So I roasted two eggplants, I added only enough tahini for one, I also only added 2 cloves garlic (and think this may have been too strong!) and a splash of liquid smoke which gave it a wonderful smokey flavor that it didn't get while roasting. Michael loved it and I was quite surprised. I ate it with these AWESOME Wasa Sesame flavored flatbread type crackers, shredded napa cabbage and parsley. Nomnomnom.

Last night I felt desperate for something tasty and hearty but not HARD. So I pulled out this can of Chu Chee Thai curry paste that someone had given to me. I normally use a curry powder and make my own base, but I thought "Hey if I have it, why not?"...and my curry powder is getting low! *sad face* So I read the ingredients, all safe, the instructions were for using with fish however - and since that wasn't an option I googled it... all fish. Like, seriously people! Lets get creative here!

I found a few curry recipes and gathered a few veggie ideas and then put it together. So essentially I added half a can (2oz) of the paste to one can of coconut milk (including all that yummy fattening cream that sticks to the lid) and some almond milk to stretch it a little... Then to that I added a ton of veggies, zucchini, collard greens, browned sweet potato... other stuff? I can't remember... broccoli I think. Anyway, greens & sweet potato are my new favorite curried foods... I literally picked out all of the collards and sweet potatoes before sending off the remainder to work with Michael (Sorry baby! lol). I served it over rice.

Today I decided I had to put the other half of the can of curry to use and with some help with my Pakistani friend, I made what (he would be horrified by) I can only consider a curry stew. I fried up some onions, garlic & ginger, tossed them in a pot, once again browned a sweet potato and threw that in as well as zucchini, broccoli, Great Northern beans (? - they're white) and about 3 cups of radish greens. You read that correctly, radish greens.

Today, I helped a friend of the family build steps for her elderly sister out of concrete blocks and mortar and as payment I got the most bizarre overgrown radish plants ever. My friend made the comment that they looked like a monster... she might not be far from the truth. These giant stems that were pink and over 3 feet long! I had gathered them with the intention of giving them to my rabbit, but after a few quick searches I found they were edible and could not pass up on saving a "few" for myself... and 10 cups or so of greens later I felt pretty good about life. They're really awesome, a little... textured... but spicy like mustard greens. I think they'll be awesome in a salad and are really great cooked in curry (once cooked, they no longer have that texture issue... read as... spiny).

So those are mostly my adventures for the week... OH I was also SUPERLY (yes I made that up) by a "neighbor" (I live in a town of less than 1500 people - everyone is your neighbor) told me I can raid their garden for kale, mustard greens and until frost, fresh basil! YAY! I'm so excited!! I was also introduced to the Tennessee Passionflower fruit! It reminds me of a pomegranate except more... tart? Like, if you eat rhubarb raw except not nearly as tart as that... (Oxalic acid is all I can think of - if you've ever eaten wood sorrel you know what i'm talking about) I was given a few to take home, YUM! I can't possibly live a more blessed life, even if I am broke all the time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Not going to talk about food today... but health care products!

Recently I sent my significant other on a shopping trip for a few necessities, specifically shampoo and hand soap for the bathroom. He came home, all proud of himself having not forgotten a single item... however, when I pulled the items out of the bag I asked him "Did you read the ingredients?" He had not.

I really try to avoid products that do not say "Not tested on animals". I've seen the bunny pictures that have had cosmetic testing done, and I really do not want to support that, its unnecessary.

First, he's a vegetarian, and not at all vegan... and the hand soap he got was "Milk & Honey". It hadn't even OCCURRED to him that this isn't at all vegan. However, I guess it could have been worse... because the shampoo is what really got me. Now I'm going off of memory, but I'm pretty sure it not only had gelatin in it, but hydrolyzed keratin AND silk in it. There may have even been other ingredients that are animal based that I'm not familiar with. Something I hope to correct by educating myself a little bit more.

There is nothing like taking a shower and scrubbing with animal by-products. Really. Yay, dead animal in my hair! GAG!

Ok. So. With that in mind, I'm going to link a few really great sites, the first one is HappyCow's list of animal ingredients. Here you will find an alphabetical listing of animal products and where you would find them. The second link is Ask Us Why's list of cruelty free companies and products. Ask Us Why's web page seems like it could possibly be out dated, there might be newer sources, but I don't really have time to research. Please let me know if you find a better source! Thanks!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Almond feta cheese

I just became aware that I had not actually the recipe for the almond feta cheese that I make! I will post the recipe I normally make since I haven't finished the one I'm working on. I can't remember where I originally got it from, so if you (or someone you know) made this leave a link in the comments section. Once I perfect the new recipe, I'll make a new post and post a photo.

1 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 TBSP olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves
1 Tsp fresh rosemary leaves

1. Blanch the almonds by soaking them in boiling water for around a minute, drain & rinse. Peel the skins. (Alternatively, don't peel them)

2. Place the almonds in a medium bowl, cover with 3 inches of water and soak for 24 hours. Drain & rinse. I recommend soaking in the fridge, you risk them getting "funky" (especially in warmer weather!) when done on the counter top.

3. Puree almonds, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of EVOO, garlic, salt and 1/2 cup water in a blender for 6 minutes until creamy.

4. Place triple layer cheese cloth in a sieve (you might want to either clip it or perhaps use a rubber band to keep it in place) and spoon the mixture into the cloth. Bring sides together and twist into an orange sized ball, secure with twist tie (or rubber band) and chill for 12 hours in the fridge.

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment and transfer the almond ball to it. Shape it to look like a 6" round of brie (approximately 3/4" thick). Or you can place it straight into a ceramic bowl that is already rounded and forget the parchment paper!

6. Bake 40 minutes or until slightly firm, cool & chill

7. To make the herbal oil for the feta, combine the 1/4 cup olive oil with the herbs and heat over medium low until heated but NOT SIMMERING. Cool to room temp and drizzle over the almond ball just before serving.

A whole month disappeared! Honest! I don't know where it went.





That isn't entirely true. I kind of have an inkling as to where it may have gone. Somewhere far far away.

Its not like I haven't eaten for a whole month! I've just actually been BUSY. Imagine that?! So, I have some Mabon feast photos as well as a few other things I've put together. Above is a photo of some rice cakes, my friend made a vegetarian version of it for her Mabon celebration so I veganized it and they came out ok, I need to tweak the recipe a little before I post it. Also, I'm working on that old almond feta cheese recipe again... I watched a video about how to make almond milk (Vegan Zombie style!!) and am using the left over almond meat to make the feta cheese. I can't wait to see how it turns out!!!!!

Below are photos of the food stuffs I made for Mabon!!!!!



Three squash soup.


My Very Vegan pot pies. Oh.My.Goodness were they yummy!


Apple Carrot bread with apple butter <3 It was wonderful toasted, too bad I used old yeast and it didn't rise as much as I had hoped.

Andddd... a non-Mabon food stuffs:

Who doesn't love a good stir fry? I need to learn how to not over-cook the veggies still.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Celebrating the sabbats as a vegan; Mabon

Celebrating the Sabbats as a Vegan; Mabon
By AprilRain


Here in NE Tennessee, the weather is so hot and dry; I’ve been excited by the cooling temperatures at night. Autumn is the rainbow at the end of the storm, you’ve been working hard all summer long, and finally you will get some relief and be able to reap what you’ve sown. Hopefully it wasn’t TOO dry for you, right now I’m wishing for a little rain.

Mabon/Autumn Equinox is about harvest, the coming of winter, the Goddess descending into the underworld & the “death” of the Earth before its rebirth in spring. It is also a time to consider balance in your life as the day and night are balanced during this time only to change into the shortening of days.

My recipes focus on as many seasonal items as possible, I did “cheat” here and there, feel free to adjust the recipes to your own taste.

Start the meal off with a very simple, light salad. Lettuce, tomato, cucumber (and any other vegetables you would like to include). I like to use a Goddess dressing on my salad with a tahini (ground sesame seeds) base.

THE RECIPES
Three squash soup

Ingredients:
4-5 cups of squash (I used acorn, butternut & half a green pumpkin – I don’t recommend green pumpkin lol).
1 cup of milk substitute (I used rice milk, you can use almond or soy)
1 large carrot
1 med-large parsnip
1 medium onion
2 celery stalks
2 TBSP olive oil
A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
Herb for garnish – I used parsley

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the squash in half, remove seeds and compost them. Also, roughly chop up the carrot, parsnip, onion & celery (feel free to prepare the root veggies from our next recipe at this time to save on energy!).
Fill a 9X13 glass cake pan with approximately 1 inch water and place the squash face-down in the water. Take the chopped veggies, toss with the olive oil and place on a flat cookie sheet in a single layer. Put both squash and veggies in the oven to bake. This could take 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes depending on your oven, the size of the veggies, yada yada.

Keep an eye on the veggies to make sure they don’t burn – but you want the squash skin to brown. Once the squash is soft, remove from the oven and let cool just enough so that you can handle them and scoop the flesh out of the shells (but not cold!) & put them into a food processor. I prefer to process the squash first until very pureed, and then add veggies and do the same thing. Add the milk, salt, pepper, cayenne at this time. If you did like I did and let the squash & veggies get TOO cold you can reheat this on the stove or in the microwave. Serve warm with herb garnish.

~Alternative suggestion~ Some people like their squash soup sweet… feel free to add maple syrup or agave syrup.



Very Vegan pot pie an adapted recipe from http://www.veganlunchbox.com/ Note: You may want to just make extra veggies…………… I ate half of them before I even made the dough, they were THAT good. Another note, I call this “Very Vegan” because when I made this recipe the first time, I put an “M” on one of the pies to mark the pie that belonged to my significant other (his name starts with an “M”). However, in the morning when he got up to go to work, he took the unmarked pie. I sent him a text and said “Why did you leave the “M” pie?!” I thought perhaps he would be embarrassed to eat a pie with a letter on it. He replied “I thought it was two V’s.” I was confused. I sent another reply, “Why V’s?” and his reply was “Very Vegan. I found this EXTREMELY frustrating, why did he not see a "W" instead?

Ingredients:
For the filling:
1 cup diced carrots
½ cup parsnips or golden beet
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 garlic cloves whole and unpeeled
1 sage leave finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 chicken flavored bouillon cube
¼+ cup flour
3+ cups water
2 tsp tamari
1 cup (approximately) of frozen mixed veggies, thawed

For the crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup barley flour (I used rice flour because barley wasn’t available; this will change the consistency some)
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp poppy seeds (I didn’t have these either and replaced them with 2 tsp flax seeds)
½ cup canola oil, chilled in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (I used vegetable oil)
½ cup of ice water
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions: If you didn’t cook the root veggies with the above recipe, preheat the oven to 425°. Place the veggies (not the frozen!!), garlic, sage & thyme on a cookie sheet, drizzle with oil and mix well, flatten to a single layer. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally. When done, remove from oven and allow to cool a little.

While the veggies are cooking, put a medium sauce pan on the stove at medium heat. Pour in the 3 cups water and bring to boil. Add the bouillon cube and boil until there are no pieces floating around and add the tamari. I usually put the flour into a Tupperware container with cold water in batches and shake it to mix it well before slowly pouring it into the boiling water. Whisk it to evenly distribute (try to avoid clumps) and cook until thickened stirring frequently, adding more flour if necessary. There might be extra gravy, I like to pour it over the pie while I’m eating it.
When the veggies are cool, remove and discard thyme (into the compost!) and squeeze the garlic out of its skin, place the skin in the compost and mash the bulb up then mix well with the roasted and thawed veggies. Add just enough gravy to coat the veggies and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all dry crust ingredients and whisk together. Drizzle in the canola oil and mix with your hands until incorporated and forming M&M size balls or slightly larger. Mix the ice water and vinegar together, then drizzle into flour, continue to mix with your fingers until it holds together.

Flour the surface you’ll be working on and knead the dough onto it a couple minutes. Divide into 2 pieces (making sure to wrap up the one you’re not using with plastic wrap). This is where you get to decide how you want to make this pie. You can use this as pie crust (both top & bottom) and make one big pie. Or you can make small pies by cutting out circles (I used a 6+ inch bowl as a cookie cutter). Put a tablespoon or two on the bottom piece of dough and then place the top one over top – make sure to seal the edges!!!!! Then bake at 275° until browned about 30 minutes for the big pie, 20 for the small one.



Apple Carrot Bread – Taken from Bread Machine Baking for All Seasons – Connie Merydith. Serve this with homemade apple butter (maybe I’ll include the recipe for that next time!) or peanut butter & honey or just plain margarine!
Ingredients:
1 cup milk (I used almond or rice milk)
½ cup applesauce
1 TBSP canola oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached flour
¼ cup sugar (use raw sugar)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup grated carrot (I just tossed it in the mini food processor to safe my skin from the mean grater!)
2 ¼ tsp (or 1 package) dry yeast (if, like me you’re using bread machine yeast, follow the instructions on the package)

Instructions: Measure the milk, applesauce, and oil into the bread pan. Add the whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and grated carrot. Make a well in the dry ingredients and measure in the yeast. Select the basic whole wheat bread cycle for a 2-pound loaf. Baking time will be about 50 minutes.



The Best Pumpkin Muffins – Taken from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz(I highly recommend this book!!). I know you probably think it’s too early for pumpkins, but I’ve already harvested TWO orange ones from my own garden! So I decided to put them to use and make this AWESOME recipe!

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups sugar (raw sugar)
1 Tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 cup pureed pumpkin (Do NOT use pumpkin pie mix!)
½ cup milk alternative (I used rice milk)
½ cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp molasses

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a twelve-muffin tin.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. In separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, soy milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix.

Fill the muffin cups two thirds of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Thank you for following me so far through the sabbats! Thanks to Enchanted Forest for providing me the chance to do this! I’m really enjoying writing this series. If you have any suggestions or question, please don’t hesitate to send me a message!
~AprilRain

Monday, August 29, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words...


I know I'm blessed because the above picture was my counter top yesterday. Look at all that yummy stuff!!!

I'm super busy tomorrow, hopefully I'll get to show off a couple things I'm working on later in the week! Blessed be everyone.

Also: My hearts go out to those who have lost their possessions, homes and lives during Irene. My family is all accounted for in NY & while some still have no power, they are safe. Goddess has blessed me this past weekend.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Perogies!




Yum! Perogies!! So, I adapted THIS recipe to make the above awesome perogies.

The first thing I adapted was the dough. It claims that 3 tablespoons was sufficient to make 2 cups of flour & 4 TBSP (1/4 cup) of shortening into a doughy ball. Well, its not. Maybe that's because it is insanely dry here... I'm not sure. I probably slightly less than half a cup of water, maybe more. I just kept adding TBSP by TBSP until it was a doughy ball.



The other way I adapted the recipe was the filling. I fried up finely diced onions and a TINY green pepper that a deer pulled off my pepper plant, but failed to eat from my garden (literally, it was like, less than two inches long by one inch wide) & mixed them in with the potatoes. I also added vegan sour cream. YUM! In another batch I used fake pepperoni and in yet another I tried to mix in some pureed lentil soup. I liked that one least of all, but they were all tasty. I also fried up some napa cabbage, onion & zucchini to eat with them. <3

I also picked a ripe pumpkin out of my garden only to find an animal half ate a green one - so I picked that one too... hopefully going to use it in soup.



Edited to add: I had to make TWO batches of the dough from the recipe to use up MOST of the potato mix. I suspect 1)The measurements - 2 cup potatoes, 2 cup water is wrong, on my box it was not equal parts AND 2) I think if you're only making one batch of dough, then you can half it. I got about 14 rounds out of one batch of dough (15 on my second) so... yeah. However - maybe that was due to the size cookie cutter I had (I used my black & decker mini food processor) - however I still think 2 cups of potatoes was WAYYYYYYYYYYY too much!

Woo! My week of MIA.

So. I'm beginning to learn that having a house full of cats (and a visiting dog) can wreak havoc on laptop fans. I had the old laptop fan replaced ones, the second time it burned out it damaged the motherboard. This one I caught early enough and sent it in to be replaced. I keep threatening the cats that I will shave them down like I did the dog... but they don't believe me.

I think I will start saving up money to invest in a hairless cat in the future.

OK so what did I do while I had no computer? I picked up a PS2 controller and played Xenosaga which is actually so far a pretty good game. Coming from someone who hasn't played anything but Neopets & Pet Society in years.

I also did some yard work. However, I didn't get very far with it... the hickory tree & black walnut tree seemed to have both done very well for themselves this year. The squirrels are more than a little excited (and fat too!). However I feel like I need to wear a hard hat while raking in my back yard. I also managed to buy some mosquito dunks for the rain barrels... I'm tired of going outside only to be eaten by a pack of hungry mosquitoes. I feel a bit bad, killing all those poor little herbivore mosquito larva...

I ALSO got to see Oklahoma! at the Cumberland Playhouse! It was so awesome!

Ok, I know all of that is irrelevant to cooking... but to be honest I didn't do a whole lot. I made stirfry a couple times. I also made "The Best Pumpkin Muffins" from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's book Vegan with a Vengeance. I highly recommend this book. I had a pumpkin in MY GARDEN that needed using so I decided to use this recipe. I followed it pretty much exactly as written, except added some brown sugar crumbles on top of some of them. I wish I hadn't. The muffins are pretty sweet on their own. They were very good, but my biggest gripe is that they had SO MUCH OIL in them! 12 muffins and half a cup of vegetable oil. Granted, it made for one REALLY moist muffin, but I felt guilty every time I ate one. I plan on making them again and maybe cutting out some sugar (hopefully replacing it entirely) and some oil by replacing it with applesauce. Otherwise these were great.

I also made fried spaghetti, I may have mentioned it before but I changed the recipe up quite a bit & it tasted WAY better. So essentially I used about 3 TBSP of vegetable oil, fried 3 cloves garlic and one whole onion until transparent. Added half a SMALL can of tomato paste & home made pesto (fresh basil from the garden, olive oil & pecans - only because I didn't have walnuts or pine nuts) & sauteed a little longer. I threw in 3 cups of cooked spaghetti (which were leftovers from last night's dinner) and mixed well. It was really tasty and I had leftovers for lunch (actually, breakfast because I was being lazy).

I also decided to try some foraging for wild foods. Here in the south we have an overabundance of the non-native invasive plant, Kudzu. This plant can be used as animal feed quite easily, but is also edible for humans. The biggest problem is that its very fibrous & when raw its hairy. I followed some suggestions I'd heard and soaked it before boiling, then I boiled it for like - ever (1 hour). If you remove the veins its ok, if you don't its like chewing on a piece of paper. The flavor isn't really notable... raw it tastes kind of like a green bean. I whipped a big batch of it, so I hope to save the liquid it cooked in as a broth or possibly tea (kind of has the scent of a tea). I also picked the blossoms as its in bloom right now. They smell wonderful, like grapes (or to me, grape kool-aid) & they are BEAUTIFUL!!! Kind of look like wisteria except darker. If you eat them raw (don't eat the seeds!!) the have just the slightest hint of sweetness. I made them into tea and it is so delicious, floral and slightly fruity. It was worth all the harvesting. I think I will make the rest into honey sweetened ice tea. YUM!

So, I've been busy :) Anyway I'm trying to plan some meals for the upcoming week. I think I'll work on some latkes, perogies (I need to use up some potatoes - and i'm trying to eat as cheaply as possible), some of the artichoke salad, curry, and 3 bean salad... we'll see.

Wow! This is a long post! I think i'll end it here :) I hope everyone is well and safe from Irene!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Almond Cherry muffins.




I came across this yummy looking recipe by Meet The Shannons which is one of my absolute FAVORITE places to get recipes. I pretty much squealed when I saw it and my mouth filled with saliva... I think maybe I just needed a sweet treat. Anyway, I don't normally use sugar, but here I did - its often best when you don't know what you're doing to just follow the directions. I think next time I will try making it with agave syrup instead.

The only thing I did differently was 1)I think they probably used sweet cherries, I didn't. Also 2)I made a coffee cake crumble topping which turned out awesome.

This recipe made 11 muffins for me. The only thing I had an issue with is that I tested for "done-ness" at 20 minutes and the toothpick came out clean, however I feel like maybe I could have left them in a couple minutes more as they were just a tiny bit TOO moist on the inside. However - I've fed them to three people and they both liked them... so maybe I just don't know anything about good muffins!

The recipe for the crumble topping:
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 TBSP soft margarine
1/3 or so cup of sliced almonds

Mix together until crumbly and sprinkle over the muffins just prior to placing in the oven.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Black bean burgers




Apparently everyone is making them and I jumped on the bandwagon. The other day I saw a video by Vegan Zombie (aka ZombieGate on Youtube ~ note on this right quick, video portrays some zombie related violence, may not be suitable for young kids. Parental discretion advised.). Today Lindsey from Happy Herbivore mentioned having them for dinner! Speaking of - I could REALLY use her cookbook, so any of you rich folk out there wanna buy it for me - don't hesitate. Anyway, Zombie's video made the burgers look AWESOME but I didn't have the peppers he threw in and I felt like it was missing something.

SO. Instead of a chipotle pepper I threw in part of a hot banana pepper and instead of a poblano I threw in a whole bunch of chopped red pepper that I had in the freezer. I also put in a big dash of cumin and shredded zucchini & freshly frozen corn for fun. Also instead of Daiya cheese which I didn't have I threw in some Vegan mozzarella. What else did I do? Uhm. I THINK thats it. Oh, used fresh herbs and one more clove of garlic. I also did not use canned black beans (I used dried that I soaked and cooked) and WAYYYYYY less salt! Also to make it a bit more sticky I sprinkled some EnerG into it before blending and used whole wheat flour for coating. OH YEAH. I added some nutritional yeast too - since I add that to essentially EVERYTHING. The burgers turned out really good! I made enough batter for 5 or 6 probably - not sure as I haven't cooked it all. I'm going to try to freeze one and see how that works and cook the rest.

Anyway - below is a photo of my foot. Why you ask? Well - lets just say you can tell if i've been cooking by looking a the bottom of my feet... Of course not ALL of the dirt there is from the kitchen - honest!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spinach Chickpea Curry


Ok so I've been INSANELY busy between work, dog walking and helping the neighbor lady around the house (poor soul has a broken ankle... and she's inlisted my help in cleaning not only HER MOTHER'S home, but her DAUGHTER'S too. OMG). Anywho - I've been on the hunt for Some low cost, soy free meal ideas & I keep coming back to curry.

Curry is one of the EASIEST things to make. 'Nuff said. :D



Instead of following my own "recipe" (read as, whatever it is I do when I make it) I went online and found this awesome youtuber channel called Delicious Tv VegEz, user name TotallyVegetarian. Her recipe is essentially a vegan version of Saag Paneer which is a dish that relies heavily on cream and cheese. Instead of using cream she uses creamy coconut milk and cuts the cheese out entirely. The recipe was awesome. She did go light on the seasoning so salt is almost a necessity. It could have used maybe a touch more heat but overall its awesome. I intend on having some with brown rice.

I highly recommend giving this recipe a try... I'm tempted to try this with fresh spinach next time because I feel like fresh is healthier. I think I cooked mine just a little too long maybe.

Anyway I've got a few other things I hope to try out tonight, maybe I will post more on that later.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New salad dressing for napa cabbage



I'm in SERIOUS need of groceries. I hate looking in the kitchen and thinking "I don't want any of this junk!!" I'm completely out of sesame seeds, my favorite bouillon cubes that I use in everything, and walnuts which I eat like candy. It stinks. Anyway - being out of a bunch of stuff made me have to get creative today.

I chopped up some napa cabbage, what I had left of a couple green onions, chives & shredded some carrot. Mixed well.

Instead of the usual "crunchies" i just fried up plain ole ramen in sesame oil. I then fried up some Morningstar Farms chick'n starters in a little veggie oil (I also made up a second batch of them coated in some shake n bake & instant mashed potatoes YUM!) until browned. Stick on top of the napa cabbage mix.

Unforunately I don't have exact measurements for the dressing I used. I mixed a big fork full of almond butter with a squeeze of agave (less than more), the remaining tamari I had (maybe 2 tbsp, might use less next time), some water & a sprinkle or two of sesame oil in a shaker & apply liberally (OR NOT!) on the salad. All of the protein from the almond butter made this a really filling lunch! If I had added a tomato it would have been pretty well rounded, but I don't have any of those either!



I don't normally keep almond butter on hand, this was something my not-quite-mother-in-law gave me because I had at one point said that I had wanted to try it. Well I did and AB&J sandwhiches just weren't my thing so it sat in the fridge for a month before I came across THIS recipe and in the words of one of my favorite friends "HELLZ YEAH!". I also picked up a bottle of Rhubarb wine made by Mountain Valley - sweet white whine. I'm enjoying it with my salad. YUM!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Faux Chick'n Pot Pie



After a visit with a friend last night, I found a wonderful sense of inspiration (however temporary it might be) to cook. I had been wanting to cook a pot pie for a month or so now its hot as all get out so I haven't done it, but the expiration date on my seitan (made by Westsoy) was due so - I sucked it up and made it. I have no regrets.

I could eat the filling all day with a batch of mashed potatoes or rice and it would be wonderful but I decided to go the whole way and pulled out some phyllo dough (http://www.athensfoods.com/) . It turned out pretty good. Lets just see if it passes the "Michael" test.

I'm also using this as my Lammas day celebration because I'll be working that day (BOO!!!!) and I won't have any other time to celebrate before then.



I don't know where the recipe came from - I did NOT write it. If any of you know the source please leave a message. Thanks!

Chick'n pot pie
-4 cubes or 4Tbsp faux chicken or vegetable boullion.
-2 1/2 cups hot or boiling water
-1/2 cup nutritional yeast
-1/2 cup all purpose flour
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1 tsp garlic salt *see note
-1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
-15oz can diced potatoes (or approximately 2 cups boiled)
-1 1/2 cup frozen mixed veggies
-1/2 pound of fake chick'n cut into bite size cubes
-1 box of puff pastry *see note

Preheat oven to 400°, mix the bouillon in hot water and set aside until needed (make sure it is well dissolved!)

Combine the nutritional yeast and flour in a large pot (or deep skillet) mix well! Then toast it on low until lightly browned stirring constantly(be careful it will burn easily).

Add oil to make a roux. SLOWLY whisk in the stock, garlic salt & pepper. Add veggies, chick'n and simmer on low for 10 minutes.

Roll out puff pastry and place in a 9 inch pie dish, trim off edges to fit. Pour in filling then cover with another sheet of pastry. Cut the edges off and crimp with the bottom pastry. Make several inch long slices on the top and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Note 1: I don't use garlic salt. Ever. I either use the real stuff (I recommend here - pressing it ahead of time and then frying in a little oil) or garlic oil.

Note 2: I used phyllo dough, I've never tried this mystery "pastry puff" perhaps its the same thing? Who knows! I also made my own crust to mimic the cheap kind you get in tiny boxes in the frozen goods section - it was delectable and you could eat it like a sandwhich. Fabulous!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Food stuffs and laziness.

I don't know about you folk, but summertime for me - I'd rather be doing almost ANYTHING but cooking. Its hot but its also beautiful out - I want to be active, I want to be crafty I essentially want to be doing SOMETHING ELSE. So a big staple of my diet lately is 1) Napa Cabbage & ramen salad & 2) Rice with steamed veggies. Also anything I can drag fresh out of the garden.

The salad is really quite simple.
You chop the cabbage up into bite sized pieces, add some chopped green onions (and any other veggies you want - I sometimes add carrots, radishes, or tomatoes) set aside. I know I don't have any measurements for this - sorry you already know I'm not good with this. How much dressing will vary depending on how much salad you need. For approximately two-3 servings of dressing, I used about 1/4 cup apple cider, 3TBSP sesame oil, a good tablespoon or so of agave syrup and I mixed it. Pour on top of salad and top the whole thing off with a heaping handful of "CRUNCHIES!" Yums. You can also replace the napa with regular cabbage - it still tastes good, just not quite the same.

As for the rice & veggies. I make a big pot of rice about 3 times a month (sometimes weekly). So I tend to have either mahogany, basmati or brown rice on hand. I toss that into a bowl, throw on some veggies (often; mushrooms, zucchini, baby bok choy, and green onions) splash with water (or ume vinegar) and nuke it in the microwave. I then smother in sesame oil, ume vinegar & tamari or Bragg's liquid aminos - top with either the "Crunchies" as seen above OR just plain sesame seeds. Yum.

Just another reason to eat organic, home made food.

Yahoo often posts "The worst ___ foods" and I read them, all of them. Why? Because there are people out there that know more about this stuff than I do. I generally already avoid a lot of what is listed already due to my dietary restrictions, however this one came as a surprise. Its one of those things that I read it and say "Carmel coloring, hmm I wonder what that is made from..." but I have never really researched it. Yahoo has posted a new one, Top 10 Scariest Food Additives. Since Google Chrome is being silly, I'm just going to add the link at the bottom of this blog. Anyway I really recommend that you read it.

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/top-10-scariest-food-additives

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer time

I love summer, the sun, the green, the food...

How can you NOT love summer foods?

Anywho - I've been working on a few meal plans for the sabbats and yesterday got to try my hand at Peach & Blackberry crisp. AWESOMENESS. I will post the recipe in July after my article about celebrating Lammas is published.

Right now I'm enjoying some good ole comfort food... You're all going to think I'm crazy. I probably am. Instant mashed potatoes + edamame + nutritional yeast + black pepper + bac'n bits + a white sauce (almond milk, margarine, flour) turned gravy (half a cube of fake chick'n bouillon & a splash of tamari). I'm in heaven. I think it could have done without the tamari because of how salty the bouillon is - but it tastes so awesome.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15, 2011

Today is Michael & my 10 year anniversary. TEN YEARS!!! I am so blessed to have him in my life!

Anyway - I don't know about all you folk, but cooking is low on my "to-do" list. I'd rather be (outside, in yoga, playing on the computer, chatting on facebook) than writing a blog about cooking when I'm not cooking. HOWEVER. I did recently sign up to write a series of articles, celebrating the Sabbats as a vegan. I started off with the following article which I did NOT re-read OR edit. So... yeah. :D

Vegan
Most people think of “vegans” as those people that don’t eat meat. However, the definition on Dictionary.com states a vegan is “A person who does not eat or use animal products”. Veganism is not only a dietary choice, but a way of life in which someone chooses to not only NOT eat animal products but also not wear them or use them in any way. For the sake of my discussion here, I will only touch on veganism as a dietary decision, versus as a way of life as that would prompt a much larger discussion than what I have room for.

I always assumed it was a widely known fact that people knew vegetarians didn’t eat meat. When telling someone I was a vegetarian I always received an inquisitive look, however they almost always had an idea already in their mind of what I would say next. However, when I became vegan April of 2011, I received an overwhelming amount of puzzled looks followed by “What’s that?”.

Well… a vegan is someone that doesn’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, often honey. However – there are other things that they don’t eat that people are less familiar with. Some breads for instance contain milk or egg. Some beers have been processed with gelatin, and while we’re speaking of gelatin that crosses jello and marshmallows off the list. What is gelatin? You know when you cook a turkey and the liquid in the pan cools & hardens up a little – like jello? Yes. That is gelatin, but it can come from many sources, not just turkey.

Some sugar is processed with bone char, so it is often considered to be not vegan. Even some food dyes are made by crushing beetles, you know that strawberry yogurt you love so much? The red dye? Yeah. NOT strawberries. Even salad dressings can have an animal based product in them to keep the oils from separating. Honestly, what is a vegan supposed to do?

I did not take my decision to become vegan lightly. There were many reasons to decide to remove the last remaining dairy and seafood products from my diet. There is more scientific data out there that fish are sentient beings, capable of thinking and feeling. I had a pet goldfish once… it was dumb. However when he was hungry and saw me coming his way he got all excited and started swimming back and forth to get my attention. He KNEW seeing ME meant food. We also know that chemicals found in seafood, especially the larger fish, such as PCBs build up in their bodies are transferred to OUR bodies when we eat them. It wasn’t a hard decision to take them out of my diet.

It was also not at all difficult for me to remove egg from my diet because… well, because raw eggs gave me the heebee jeebees. Also, because I knew that it probably came from an abused chicken that had never known freedom and also that the moment it stopped producing eggs, would be one of the last moments of its life before it became cat food. I didn’t want to be the reason one more chicken was stuck in a tiny cage without fresh sunlight, fresh air or freedom.

When it came to dairy products such as milk and cheese… I had a MUCH harder time. I love cheese. I could sit down and eat a whole 8 oz block of almost any cheese in one sitting. This is what ultimately pushed me to become vegan. I had no sense of self control & it was the reason I was overweight. Also, while delving further into educating myself on what I was putting INTO my body I came across information discussing the hormones put in our milk products which are being accused of causing human bodies to change dramatically from a time when there were no added hormones to the things we eat and drink. So there were a lot of different reasons coming from different places. Even more, as I began to grow in my spiritual beliefs, I real have become to believe that eating animals is not right for me.

Some pagans believe animals are also protected under “An it harm none”. I would never claim that everyone should be vegetarian, as I honestly don’t believe it is right for everyone due to dietary needs, etc. However, for ME I believe that yes, they should be protected, at least in my practice. Especially with the way they are treated in modern farms and factories.

Now, having that said, I would like to continue this as a series, discussing how I incorporate my vegan dietary choices into my practice, especially around the sabbats by giving recipes and meal suggestions. I have found thus far that finding recipes to suit the sabbats and my dietary needs has been increasingly difficult, and I suspect that there are others out there with similar problems. So I think it would be awesome give some ideas for new ways to celebrate the old ways. Let’s drink and be merry without the sacrifice of animals this year!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Easy artichoke pasta salad - soy free.



From what I've read there are lots of reasons to eat soy, and lots of reasons to NOT eat soy. I've decided to stop eating as much of it as possible - but its mostly because, well... my body doesn't like it :P So I've been kind of bummed because I've been unable to eat one of my favorite summer time foods, artichoke salad. Until now. I found a recipe for mayo-free artichoke salad and I added to it. I not only added FRESH basil & parsley, but I also added a tiny bit of thyme & oregano (or is it marjoram?!) ALL FROM MY GARDEN!! I also diced up a few radishes and tossed them in. I used the tri-color rotini pasta. It is AWESOME. Honest! I'd be posting a picture but once again have misplaced my camera cord. So you'll just have to believe me for now (or make it!). The colors are beautiful and it would add a bit of flair to just about any meal. :) GO TRY IT!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Red potatoes. YUM!





So, last weekend was Beltane & on Sunday I decided to celebrate with a little fire out back. I made myself a little meal of boiled red potatoes SMOTHERED in a herb "butter" sauce & then grilled zucchini & red pepper over the fire. It was AWESOME!!! Not exactly healthy, but still AWESOME!

So this is the sauce:

I poured maybe 2 TBSP of safflower oil into a medium sauce pan and heated it over medium heat. I then dropped a sprig or three of both fresh oregano and thyme into it. Followed by a dollop (maybe 2 more TBSP) of margarine into it, took it off the heat and let it melt. Add to potatoes. Eat. *heart* The second time I made this sauce I added a PINCH of powdered dry rosemary since it can be so overwhelming. It was equally tasty. Wish I had taken a picture. *edit to add* I DID! I DID TAKE A PICTURE!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pesticides and organic foods.

Came across this Yahoo link I wanted to share, listing the top 12 foods to eat organic because you can't rid them of pesticides.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What's for dinner?!?! Kulbyaka & Blackberry Peach sorbet






Oh My Goddess.

So, earlier int he week Kathy came across a bunch of dill and couldn't pass it up. She loves dill. I happen to love dill too! Yay! One of her favorite recipes is Green Lentil Kulbyaka which can be found in this awesome awesome cook book. Unfortunately, its not vegan. So we make a few adjustments. For starters, we skip the eggs. I'm SURE that it would have more body if we added tofu or something, but to be honest... with all the flavor that is already in this... its unnecessary. Maybe I'll try it some day. The second "change" was vegan margarine versus butter. No big surprise there. The third change... we used a crap ton of dill. It calls for 2 Tbsp fresh, we probably used 3 or 4. We also used less parsley because we had MORE dill. Fourth change... instead of using a max of 8 sheets of filo pastry, we used a whole roll. Maybe... 12 sheets? More? Super extra crispy nom. Overkill? Maybe just a little.

Oh, yeah, we definitely added more mushrooms too.

All in all this is one of my all time favorite lentil dishes.


Ok, ok, i'm rushing to the sorbet, relax already!





We had this baggie of frozen blackberries in the freezer - these are NOT store bought, but either picked fresh or picked up from a farmer's market. Kathy is so freaking awesome about buying TONS of fruit and freezing it for to make the long winters more bearable. So I came across THIS recipe for blackberry sorbet and adjusted it by adding 2 cups of frozen (thawed) peaches. I did not add any more agave or water.

This... is... the... shiznit... and by THAT I mean it is SO WONDERFUL! YAY! What a feast! "Feast of kings" maybe :)1

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Yay for almond "feta cheese"! Again!

I think I've posted about this before, and probably shared a photo. However, after reading a review saying it was ok not to,I decided it wasn't worth it to peel the almonds before making it. It still turned out FABULOUS. I made a double batch, forgetting just how big a single was... silly me! Anyway, currently eating it on EVERYTHING. Right now I'm eating a flour tortilla with tomato, avocado, white rice, refried beans, black olives and the "feta" with a little hot sauce on top, yum! I didn't think ahead of time, but I guess I could have sprinkled it on my steamed kale too! Oooh.

Tonight Kathy is going to make a vegan pizza with the feta, tomato and mushrooms. I'm so excited that I can hardly contain myself. :P

YAY! PIZZA!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

YUM! Kale stir fry & turnip carrot patties.

So, Michael's mother (yes, her again! I love that lady *love*) went out to dinner with a friend last night, they had parsnip & carrot patties and a kale stir fry. That sounded FABULOUS to me. So I dug up a few recipes... Unfortunately I didn't have parsnips, but I did have turnips so I substituted. OK, so here is the recipe for the patties. I felt like the mix could have used something else to bring it together to make it stick more... we added a little extra rice flour & its possible that the turnips had more liquid in them than parsnips. I think next time I will try EnerG like I did with the potato latkes.

For the kale stir fry I just put some safflower oil in a heated frying pan, added onion, minced ginger root (fresh), sesame seeds, a little bit of celery, a big handful of chopped kale & some canned mushrooms.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mmm... CRUNCHIES!

OK, so this is adjusted from one of Michael's mom's recipes. I don't know what to call it, we just call it "crunchies" haha. :) We make it once every three days or so, and eat it on almost everything... soups, salads, occasionally oatmeal, or plain. I'd take a photo, but I'm too lazy.

Ingredients:
2 packs Ramen
1/2 of an Edward & Son's bouillon cube - I prefer the Not Chick'n (if you're not vegan you can just use one seasoning packet from the ramen).
Approximately 2 tablespoons oil (I use half & half safflower and sesame)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup almonds
handful of nutritional yeast

OK all of these measurements are approximate because I kind of just throw stuff in the pan and hope for the best.

Which is usually why I fail so much.

Anyway.

You crush the ramen while its still in the package, I make pretty small chunks, like smaller than a dime.

Heat the oven med-high and toss the oil in the pan. Once hot, add everything except the nutritional yeast.

Toast until fragrant and lightly browned... tastes ok burned too :P

Let cool, add nutritional yeast and toss. Eat using only your hands.

Nom.

P.S. Sorry for the lack posts. To be honest, I haven't been cooking, I've been eating like crap and I have been enjoying the GREAT outdoors. Spring is here and it is beautiful! I'm tempted to stop blogging mainly because I can't keep on it and also because there are SO many other things going on in my life that I'm more interested in but don't fit under the topic of "vegan foods". I guess I've always had problems staying interested in things for more than a few months... I'll take a break now and come back to it later! I always do :P

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Confessions of a vegan girl

1. I don't much like oatmeal. At least, not unless its smothered in maple syrup (the real kind. "Would you like some oatmeal with your maple syrup miss?") or in cookie form. Also, I prefer it to have some kind of fruit in it... I tend to dump a handful of frozen blueberries and a handful of frozen peaches into it before I nuke it. Nom.

2. Mangoes are freaking weird. Papayas are disgusting. Yes. Papayas taste like pine trees... compare it to the the "Spruce beer" that Canadians drink. That stuff is gross too.

3. I drink my coffee with maple syrup instead of sugar. It is the shiznit. You should try it. Not joking.


Thats all for today. Meeting adjourned.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Woo. Been awhile (again)

I guess it probably wouldn't have been so long if I'd actually been cooking. However, since I haven't I guess I'll do a little food item review today.

So, Michael is still only vegetarian, so even though he is lactose intolerant he feels the need to indulge in tasty dairy treats... frequently. This mostly doesn't bother me... occasionally when he brings a pizza home I get whiny... or lately it has been boxed mac & cheese. I haven't had that stuff in a LONG time. I crave it now and then. So when Michael was at the local food co-op he bought a box of Annie's mac for himself and a box of Road's End Organics Dairy Free Shells & Chreese for me made by Edward & Sons. Now you guys have heard me mention Edward & Sons before when I mentioned some really really REALLY awesome NOT Chick'n bouillon cubes.

I didn't realize that they were by the same company until after I had started munching away at the macaroni goodness.

First thing I DID check was to see what the Chreese mix had in it. Nutrtional yeast is the second ingredient. This is really what most of the vegan mac & cheeses I've seen begin with.

I cooked according to directions, and as suggested added a dollop (1-2tsp) of buttery spread (olive oil based from Bestlife) and used almond milk. *Note on almond milk... if you haven't tried it, you really should.

The sauce was pretty creamy, not that awful bright yellow color other boxed mac & cheese suffers from. Almost "alfredo" colored. I put the pasta in it, mixed - had a similar consistency to "homemade" mac & cheese. Gooey and creamy at the same time. My mouth watered.

I tasted it before seasoning. It was ok. I didn't think it was cheesy really at all, but again - I don't think nutritional yeast is cheesy so I wasn't surprised. Overall I thought while the ease of tossing it into a pan was great and the appearance was nice... that I probably would rate it a 2 out of 5 star rating. I added hot sauce (almost any hot sauce that has garlic would work here) to it to give it a bit of a kick which helped some. I also ate it with a side of steamed kale which is still my absolute favorite green.

I've been really busy with work, finding stuff still missing from the move and working in the yard. Here in Eastern TN. It is absolutely incredibly gorgeous. For my birthday the other day (YAY ME) it was in the mid 60's... in early MARCH. Holy COW. I'm from upstate NY originally and I'm used to my birthday being snow covered and freezing. So this was a wonderful change.

I have also been planting vegetable seeds which will hopefully appear as full grown veggies sometime this summer.

One other thing you guys might be able to look forward to is my adventures in wild food foraging. I've have a few things I would like to taste and see if I can't work into a recipe or two. Can't wait until the world is green once more!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Brr! Its cold out!

One benefit to moving "down south" was the short and sweet winters...

Well, someone decided to play a cruel joke this winter! I demand a refund, a full refund... including the cost of my coat.

Anyway, some amount of months bad I came across this wonderful looking recipe for raw avocado/spinach soup and have been anxious to make it since then. Well, Aldi's had a wonderful sale on their avocados 49 cents each!!!!! So Michael's mom bought 4. Then a friend gave me another one... all five went ripe all at once! So, we exhausted pretty much every avocado recipe we knew (short of guac) and we still have left overs. Which is when I pulled out that awesome recipe...

It is awesome.

I made half a batch out of fear of being repulsed by it... I'd never had capers before, and apple seemed a weird addition. I also used fresh thyme straight from the garden but perhaps could have used just a little more. I still think its awesome. I also think there could be a few ways to adjust it to make other equally wonderful soups.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Its been awhile!

I'm all moved! HOORAY! Unfortunately my house looks like a storage unit (everything still in boxes and piled on top of everything else).

ALSO on top of all that jazz, the laptop (only computer) has crashed :( SO - I'll be blogging off of Michael's mother's computer.

I've had some fun cooking here and there... not a lot of time to do so though.

So far I've made carrot curry soup, curry coconut chickpea soup, and lemon poppy seed muffins *nom*. I'll post photos as soon as I figure out where the cord is for my camera as this computer doesn't have one of those nifty card ports...

OH OH! I also made my very first green monster today! Its so awesome! I'm really impressed. For those of you not familiar with green monsters... you should check them out!

Here is the recipe I used:
1 frozen banana
~1/2 cup frozen blueberries
~1 cup frozen peaches
~1 cup almond milk
~1 cup orange juice
~2 kale leaves

Don't be turned off by the kale! Most people use spinach instead but I didn't have any, so I hesitantly used kale and was pleasantly surprised!!! YAY! :D I drank the whole thing... and then had to build a fire to warm up again :P Maybe I'll stick to making them on warmer days. :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wee, a little break from REALITY.

Or not. Sorry I've been quiet guys, in the process of moving, life, etc. Also - I just plain stink at cooking... this blog is basically showing the few successes I have when it comes the things I make. So when I'm quiet, I'm either having a bad streak OR I'm eating stuff out of a box (*shame*).

Anywho. I've made a couple things in the past few days that are pretty good... Yesterday I made vegan cabbage rolls which Michael thought were great and I thought were "eh" but if he likes it, that makes me happy.



I also made some stuffed manicotti, I used daiya cheese for this & it was pretty rad. *heart*



Tonight I had a ripe avocado... I REALLY wanted to try this recipe for a raw avocado soup and I had all the ingredients but one, spinach :( SO I had to find something else. I decided to dig out my nori sheets and make myself some nori rolls! YUM!! AND SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EASY! You can't mess them up! Now, I just wish I had some wasabi.



**Edited to add a note: A friend of mine suggested that I needed to work on "presentation". I know this. However, until I work on my cooking skills, my presentation skills will have to wait. Sorry to any this may inconvenience. *thpbt**

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Raw kale salad

I just ate a whole lotta kale. Like, a whole giant bowl full :D

I found this (I recommend the video) really great recipe for raw kale salad... and it looked DELICIOUS. However, I didn't have all the stuff for it. SO, I improvised. I didn't have avocado, so I used a sprout mix that I grew. I didn't have cherry tomatoes so I used one tomato off the vine. I sprinkled it with sea salt, a little chopped up nori, and some flax seed and sliced almonds. Used olive oil and a splash of rice vinegar. I think next time I'll use a little lemon juice instead. It was really really tasty... I ate it all so I wasn't able to take a picture (my bad!).