Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tomato-Vegan-Sausage-Sauce

I've just put on the stove a version of one of my favorite pasta sauces. made with a tomato base and some vegan sausage. This particular version has the distinction of containing everything we have left over at home, because our fresh CSA box arrives tomorrow. Making the most of it, I'm using Pomi chopped tomatoes for a delicious and hearty meal.

6 green onion stalks
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil
10 large button mushrooms
2 Field Roast sausages
1/2 container (or 1 cup) Pomi
1 cup water
big handful containing all or any of the following: parsley, rosemary, oregano, sage
1/2 tsp paprika

Chop onions and garlic thinly and give 'em a minute in the wok with olive oil. Proceed to slice mushrooms and vegan sausages and add to the wok. Follow up with paprika. Give it a spin until the mushrooms and sausage begin to brown. Add pomi, water, and herbs, lower heat somewhat, and simmer until sauce thickens. Serve atop pasta, rice, quinoa, or anything, really.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Food Sharing!

Today, the Vernal Equinox, turned also to be the Grand Day of Spring Food Sharing, which was fantastic! It started with a trip to see friends in Berkeley who have recently had a baby. My standing thing to do for friends with kids is cooking up a storm and packaging the food in individual frozen servings, so they can quickly and easily defrost and eat it. Happily, I had a beautiful lentil stew from yesterday, which I brought the friends:

2 cups green lentils
3 large carrots
3 large tomatoes
1 fennel
3 celery stalks
1 package rainbow chard
5 garlic cloves
1/2 can tomatoes
1 tbsp cumin

Mix all ingredients in slow cooker, cover with boiling water, and set to cook on "low" for ten hours. Delish!

From there I headed on to Oakland for an Equinox ritual, which was springy and delightful. You can see our gorgeous altar in the photo. One of the activities was dyeing hardboiled eggs, which no longer appeals to me knowing what I know about the egg industry. But there was an alternative--sowing seeds and getting clippings of succulents--and we did a wonderful ritual for rain using reclaimed water, which I really appreciated. I need to start thinking about ways in which we can use reclaimed water and gray water here at Casa Corazones. Our garden consists of natives, which need a lot less water than exotics, and yet, if we are wiser about collecting shower water we can water them with that. The drought is a very serious source of concern, which means we may need to switch to growing things that require less water.

Our post-ritual feast included a lot of wonderful vegetable dishes. I summarily ignored the chicken and cheese and went for a green salad with edible flowers, two varieties of hummus, roasted asparagus, starfruit and strawberries and blackberries and blueberries, and my two contributions to the feast:

Fennel and Cucumber Salad

1 fennel
4 cucumbers
2 Meyer lemons
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp lemony pepper

Thinly slice fennel (bulb and leaves) and cucumbers. Combine in a bowl with juice from the lemons and the spices.

Broccolini and Blood Orange

20 broccolini stems (or two big broccoli heads)
1 blood orange

Cut broccolini or broccoli into florets and steam until bright green and cooked but still lively and crunchy. Peel and slice up orange into little bits. Combine with broccolini.

I really hope my friends, who were lovely company, enjoyed all the vegetables and may have been persuaded that a meal that consists mostly (or exclusively!) of plant foods is fantastic. This one certainly was!

For this evening, I'm plotting tofu and mushrooms in soy-orange glaze, served over quinoa.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Homemade Hummus

Just finished making hummus for the week ahead! It's delicious and not too difficult. Here's our home recipe:

3 cups dry chickpeas
boiling water
1/2 jar raw tahini
4 small lemons
for garnish: paprika, parsley, olive oil, pine nuts

Place chickpeas in pot or slow cooker (we prefer the latter, as it saves a lot of time if you start in the evening and make the hummus the next day.) Soak them in boiling water, about a couple of inches above the chickpeas, for a couple of hours. Then, turn on the heat or the slow cooker and cook until the chickpeas are tender. Remove the foam a couple of times and add more water if necessary.

Place chickpeas, water, and tahini in blender. Add juice from lemons and blend slowly until creamy. Garnish with olive oil, pine nuts, paprika and parsley, or save a handful of chickpeas to garnish. Serve warm or cool.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Caterer Review: Golden Era

Last week's book release party at Hastings was catered by Golden Era, the vegan restaurant right behind school on Golden Gate at Larkin. In its previous incarnation, Golden Era was a tribute to the Supreme Master cult, and I stayed away because the pamphlets and constant TV adulation infomercials annoyed me (this is also why I no longer frequent Ananda Fuara, which is run by the Sri Chimnoy cult, and would love for my vegan eating-out options to be cult-free.)

But it seems that the move to Golden Gate and the new, swanky decor have improved the situation. No longer does one see cult references--only pleasant service and delicious pan-Asian food. I love eating there for lunch, and asked the event organizers to use Golden Era to cater my book release. It's my party, and I wanted the refreshments to reflect my ethics--I wouldn't feel comfortable celebrating with animal products.

Golden Era delivered with panache and grace! There were a million rolls and dumplings: tofu rolls, avocado rolls, vegan wontons, curry rolls in tortillas, various dim sum offerings, and vegan "drumsticks". The fake meat, in the Buddhist tradition, was so fragrant and delicious that one of my vegetarian colleagues almost left, thinking there was "nothing for him to eat." Highly recommended.

Easy Stir-Fry

I'm off to Phoenix for a conference and a book event - very exciting! I have no idea what the food will be like, so I decided to have once last glorious meal at home, in the hopes that it's vegan marvelousness will last me until Saturday night. The good folks at Albert and Eve regaled us with three broccoli heads, so I used a giant one for this recipe, as well as half a superfirm tofu package. It was easy peasy.

1 broccoli head, cut into florets, including cubed bits of the stems
1 tsp safflower oil
1/2 package super-firm tofu, cut into cubes
100gr buckwheat soba noodles
3 garlic cloves
1 cubic inch ginger
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha

Heat up oil in wok and some water in a pot. Mash garlic, slice ginger thinly, and add. Then, add tofu cubes, the sriracha, and half of the soy sauce, and brown on both sides. Then, add the broccoli florets and the remaining soy sauce - you may need to add some water, as well - and stir-fry. While this is happening, cook soba noodles al dente in the pot. Strain and add to the wok, and stir-fry the noodles with the veg-tofu combo. Serve right away.

Pickled Turnips

Our CSA adventures continue to reward us with great produce. We've expanded our box from 1-2 people to 3-4 people, even though there's only two (humans) at home, because we eat a lot of vegetables--they constitute the bulk of our diet--and because we frequently have friends over for dinner.

When we asked for turnips, though, we didn't know we were going to get TWELVE! Turnips are wonderful vegetables, but even I was stumped as to what to do with so many within a week. Enter my beloved friend Dena and her pickled turnip recipe. Dena is one of the overlords at the wonderful Israeli pickling, fermenting and curing blog Feedhamutzim, and always has terrific recipes that involve bacteria friends.

I changed the recipe a bit, because I didn't have some of the ingredients, and ended up doing this:

 8 turnips
2 golden beets (if you use red beets, the turnips will turn a pleasing pink color. I simply didn't have any at hand.)
6 garlic cloves
2 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp peppercorns
3 tbsp salt
2 lettuce leaves
2 mason jars, slightly larger than normal (I can see making this in one giant jar. It's an art as well as a science

Slice turnips and beets thinly and pack into jars. Add 3 garlic cloves, 1 tbsp mustard seeds and 1 tbsp peppercorns, as well as 1.5 tbsp salt. Cover with water to the rim. Place a lettuce leaf right at the rim of the jar and screw the lid on tightly. Let sit for three days and you're home free.

These are a lovely addition to any salad or dish, and are especially pleasing with falafel.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kale Chips

Kale has become quite the celebrity in the last few years, to the point of parody, and with good reason. But I've liked and enjoyed it ever since I came to the States and cook it frequently. One of my favorite recipes is kale chips, which are delicious and ridiculously easy to make. I've always made them with curly kale, like these folks, but our CSA box arrived with Dino Kale instead, so I used that.

This lunch batch is purely kale and a tiny drizzle of olive oil, but there are many variations on that theme:

  • massage the kale in lemon and avocado
  • sprinkle a flavored salt
  • add cajun spice
  • add finely chopped garlic cloves 
The important things remain constant: preheat the oven to about 350 Fahrenheit, make sure the leaves are properly massaged in oil, place them in one layer on the baking sheet, and don't let them burn. 

CSA Showdown!

 We're drowning in excellent produce!

As we contemplate which CSA to join, we're ordering produce from a number of great places. What you see in the photo, save for the big pumpkin in the back, is the combined loot from two deliveries: Albert & Eve and Farm Fresh To You. The produce is fresh and wonderful in both boxes; we get more or less the same stuff (unsurprisingly, as both outfits send out organic, seasonal, local produce); and the price is comparable. We're going to have to make some tough decisions, and I'm even considering going with both CSAs on alternating weeks!

In the meantime, this became a good problem to have, and I decided to get cooking. I ate some fresh tangelos, tangerines, and apples, and am waiting for the pears to ripen. Which, as a friend informed me, does not happen on the tree, so it's worth a wait. 

Meanwhile, for lunch, I'm having steamed broccoli and kale chips. I'll devote a separate post to the latter. As to the former, since I'm also making a giant pot of soup, with carrot, squash, celery, beets, beet greens, onions, and broccoli stems, it made sense to simply steam the broccoli florets atop the soup, thus getting two things done at once. I found this magical steamer/colander, flexible and pliable and shaped like a cabbage leaf, at the Denver Museum of Art store, and use it almost on a daily basis. Steaming something over a cooking soup is a classic time and space saver, and as a bonus, the steamed vegetable on top comes out more fragrant.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Japanese Rice Treats

Chad had to head out to martial arts and decided to prepare Japanese rice treats for the potluck. I learned something new!

We started with 3 cups of lightly milled brown rice and cooked them in 6 cups of water. Then, we split the resulting rice into two bowls, left some of it unseasoned and seasoned the remainder with lots of yasai fumi furikake. Ordinarily, rice seasoning has some dried fish in it, but this one is completely vegan.

We made big balls out of the unseasoned rice, hiding an umeboshi plum in each ball and decorating each ball with a wee bit of ume on top. We wrapped them in nori. This process, be forewarned, requires a little bowl of water to dip your fingers between balls, as the rice is (and should be) somewhat sticky.

For our next trick, we made onigiri: wetting our fingers throughout the work, we sculpted oblong shapes out of the furikake-seasoned rice and wrapped each with a nori strip. This was somewhat complicated by the participation of the household cats, who adore nori, and especially Archer, who snatched several of the ready-cut strips from our very hands. But eventually we managed to make something like 30 cute little units. I'm sure the folks at martial arts training will love to snack on this and am delighted to have learned something new!

Brunch with Northwest Friends

It was delightful to host two good friends from Port Townsend, WA, for brunch yesterday! While usually, when I host folks that are used to mainstream food, I try to be non-intimidating in my menu choices, our friends are both avid cooks and one of them is a real expert on pickles and fermentation. So, I proudly served the house kombucha (made from jasmine tea) with the following menu:

  • Kale with Oranges and Ginger
  • Mushrooms and Vegan Sausage with Caramelized Onions
  • Roasted Yams with Rosemary
  • Fruit Soup

All vegetables and fruit in the menu came from our CSA bag. And it was all pretty easy to make.

For the kale, cut large (1-inch) strips out of an entire package of dinosaur kale. After sauteeing a bit of garlic and ginger in some olive oil, add the kale, a peeled, sliced orange, some veg broth, and sautee till the kale wilts.

For the mushroom hash, thinly slice one onion and caramelize in olive oil. Add 3 cups of button mushrooms, 3 sliced vegan sausages, a bit of hot sauce, and some Ajvar Mild Vegetable Spread. Cook until everything is the desired consistency.

For the roasted yams, slice yams and sweet potatoes pretty thinly and place, in one layer, on an olive-oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle with sliced onion cloves and fresh rosemary. Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 20-30 mins.

For the fruit soup, see the compote instructions and add a dash of brandy. This time I used pears in lieu of the apples and it turned out wonderful.

The kombucha deserves a post of its own sometime in the near future.

Monday, January 12, 2015

No-Nonsense Working People Soup

I'm home after a very long workday, which followed an all-night grading session; it's been a good day, but I'm wiped out and ready to go to bed early. Happily, it's super easy to whip up a quick dinner soup when one has recently cooked pinto beans.

3 carrots
2 green zucchini
5-6 celery stalks
big handful parsley
big handful cilantro
1 1/2 cup pinto beans, cooked
1 teabag Numi Savory Tea
2 heaping tablespoons Ajvar mild vegetable spread

Cut vegetables into 1/2 inch cubes. Mince herbs. Place everything in a pot and cover with water or broth. Gently place Numi teabag atop the soup and let cook for 25-30 mins.