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.

Three squash soup

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 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?

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!
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!

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!

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


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!!