Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cootie's Coconut Cookies

Savanah and I have been looking for a good cookie recipe. We have never been able to get them just right. To flat, no taste...the list goes on. So we just about had given up on a good cookie recipe. Until now. I bought Savanah the book, 'How it all Vegan' and I have been browsing through it since Christmas. Well, Savanah being the sweet toothed one in the bunch went straight for the dessert section. Well low and behold we find a vegan cookie that we have all the ingredients to bake with. That is usually why we chose a wing-it recipe.

You have got to try these puppies. they are, bar none the best darned cookie I have ever eaten. Not too sweet, healthy(In comparison to what you are able to buy), we can pronounce all the ingredients in our recipe. Need I say more?

2 bananas, mashed
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup sweetener
1/2 cup oil
3 t coconut or soy milk (we used almond milk)
1 cup flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 cup rolled oats flakes
1 cup coconut, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a blender or food processor, blend together the mashed bananas vanilla, sweetener oil, and milk. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir in the oat flakes and then fold in the banana mixture, stirring well. Mix in the shredded coconut. Scoop spoon-sized portions onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Makes 12 large or 24 small cookies.

Who knew vegan cooking could be so easy and transitional?!

Bringing In The New Year

For those who may not have been reading to long, I have recently re-entered the world of vegetarianism. I had been a vegetarian back in 1992-1995. I fell off the wagon but rediscovered myself due to my already vegetarian daughter. She has been my inspiration. Who at 8&1/2 decides to leave meat off their plate? She did. I have stood behind her from point one. And in my joining her again we are rediscovering food.

We are adding many new recipes, many of which are vegan. That is not to say we want or intend to be vegans. I think it is possible if we don't leave the house...just kidding. But I can see the difficulty in eating abroad when you are vegan. You basically have to take a cooler and box of food with you. I knew it was not a veggie friendly world, but since joining my daughter, I see the world through the eyes she has been using for the last 6 some odd years. People don't even give it another thought to add beef broth to rice to gain flavor, or add gelatin to a dessert. The list goes on. I used to think I might offend people when I ask what is in a specific dish, but I no longer feel that way.

We have chosen a way of life, but I stand by our decision. There are some folks who have even suggested that my daughter give up her vegetarianism. Why would some one do that. Would you give up watching TV because I asked you even though it was something I did not believe in? I thought so. So why encroach on what my daughter knows to be right. And why is so threatening that she does not eat meat. Does it let people see how off their diet is? Maybe. I never told them their eating choices were bad, but they feel guilty all the same.

I believe the old adage, "You are what you eat." Just look at the people who drive through most fast food burger joints. Then look at the fast food burger commercials. Most folks driving through are definitely not working for Ford Model Agency. And yet they portray them as such. Gimme a flipping break. Who are they trying to fool. Not me and not my daughter.

I wish for everyone to have the year of 2009 to be what they need it to be, not want, but need. For what you need, I do not, and want's are just that...want's. Those are the things we can live without. So may your new year be filled with good health, prosperity and a plethora of good food.

Friday, December 26, 2008

We Just Had To Try

Well, I and hubby did it. Yeah, we ate meat when we shouldn't have. But there is a silver lining to this ordeal. Yeah, if eating meat could have a silver lining.

We have, for the last few years, split the holidays. Let me explain. We used to share the food making on Thanksgiving and Christmas. But with all due respect, I just could not fathom having black beans and rice on Thanksgiving...back then. I was a traditional kind of girl. So we decided I would take Thanksgiving, since I was off from work and my mother-in-law was always home, she would take Christmas Eve, since I usually worked that holiday.

Since going vegetarian, I did not feel the need to have Turkey this year, but afterwards, I was craving a turkey sandwich...had one and did not enjoy it.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve!

Traditional meal for Cubans on Christmas Eve is roasted pork (with great marinade), black beans, rice, plantains, yucca, flan, bread. I was debating on whether or not I would sample the pork. Back and forth I went. But when I sat down to dinner I could not resist the temptation. The pork went on the plate. It was not all that great. Either it was not cooked as good in years past, or I was just not feeling it any longer.

My husband had some as well. Even though he recently gave up red meat, he still tried the pork this year. Well, low and behold, both of us are regretting it now. We have been visiting the bathroom waaaay too much.

We have now both pledged to swear off of pork, no matter what anyone says.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Veg-Head Three Bean Chili

This recipe was made for me when I came home from back surgery this past summer. She made it as it was, but slacked off on the spice. She had no idea on how much spice we did or did not like. Little did she know that my husband and daughters middle name is 'hot sauce'. With that said, she snagged it from Rachael Ray and man, let me tell you, this chili is to die for. So set your slow cookers to high, and let this puppy cook.

2T olive or vegetable oil
1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
1 cup pale beer or vegetable broth (we used beer, we don't drink it so why not cook with it)
1 (32 ounce) can crushed tomatoes (It does make a difference, but use what you have)
1 (14 ounce) can black beans (I usually have some cooked in the frig already)
1 (14 ounce) can dark red kidney beans (Same as above)
1T ground cumin
2T chili powder
1T hot sauce (This is where I toned it down. You can always add hotness, but you can't take it away)
1t sea salt
1 cup spicy vegetarian refried beans (Again we had homemade ready to go)
Over medium heat, add oil to a deep pot and combine onions, peppers, and garlic. Saute for 3-5 minutes to soften vegetables. Deglaze pan with beer or broth, add tomatoes, black beans, red kidney beans, and stirring to combine.

Season chili with cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, and salt. Thicken chili by stirring in refried beans. Simmer over low heat about 5-10 minutes longer, then serve up bowl,s of chili and top with shredded cheese, scallions, and tomatoes.

Shredded cheese
Chopped scallions
Diced fresh tomatoes
Blue and or red corn tortilla chips or black bean tortilla chips for dipping

This was to die for. And if I had to have a poster child recipe for chili, this would be it. We love chili in this house and we needed to change nothing except tone down the spice a bit, but other than that you are AOK! Make this one, you will not regret it!!!!!!!

P.S. Thank you Crystal

I Reached 100

Wow! I cannot believe that I have that much to say about food, cooking and health. But it just goes to show you, when you are passionate about something you will want to tell the world. And luckily we live in the 21st century and have thee Internet.

I want to thank all of you who have left comments and have blogs that I follow or just frequent. Thanks to the blogging world, My daughter and I now at least once a week, try a new dish. When just a few months ago we were struggling to get a complete dinner on the table (Not really, but they are much better and more colorful now).

With my joining the vegetarian world, my tastes have expanded and experimented with flavors I would never have combined on my own. So think you to all you lovely men and women who are out there changing the world, one post at a time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Am Loved

Well that's a given, because I am a good cook. But there is another reason for my being loved. Yes, I am going to tell you. Silk Soy products has coffee creamer, but that is not the why I am loved part. Here it comes.....wait for it. Silk Soy Creamer comes in flavors. Did you hear that? It comes in FLAVORS! I am officially in heaven.

Now, I am not the coffee hound many people are. In fact I only have 2 cups and only in the morning and would easily spend mega money on coffee (If my finances allowed) just to drink in(Literally and figuratively) the aroma of great beans. But since I am stuck with buying cheap coffee, I can now pretend at least, that I am drinking Fanny bean coffee, when in fact Silk is the one getting me through each and every morning.

I am not here to sell you on soy products. For we use a variety of dairy alternatives, such as soy, almond and anything else we so choose to try. But this gives me a chance to stay away from dairy and it is all that much easier. So go, enjoy coffee once again

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Macaroni Wing It Thing

I am not a wing it person...sorry River, but I am now. But every once and a blue moon something tickles my fancy and Viola, I have a dish on the table. It is never when I am under pressure, just the opposite in fact. I do best when I have mucho time to think of things to cook.

Yesterday just such a day. I had been cooking beans by the bucketfuls...literally. And I had three different beans in the frig already cooked and ready to pounce into action to make that perfect dish. Whether it be a last minute necessity or a planned sou, salad or side dish. They were there for the taking. I had black beans, navy beans and chick peas. Well I was thinking of what to do with the left overs in ,y frig before they hit the garbage, which I try not to let happen, and we are getting better at using up most, if not all of our leftovers.

1/2 box 16 ounces of elbow macaroni
2-3T olive oil
1/2 large can whole tomatoes, chopped up, with juice
2-4 cloves garlic, almost minced
1/4-1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup cooked black beans, or any bean of choice, but black beans look so good
8 veggie hot dogs chopped into bite-sized pieces
1-2 cups broccoli florets (optional)
Cook elbows to directions on box. While elbows are cooking heat oil in large cooking pot. Add onions and garlic. Soften but do not burn garlic. Add chopped hotdogs until a slight brown, then add broccoli until there is still quite a crunch. Then add tomatoes, beans and stir everything until mixed. Once macaroni is cooked, drain and add to mixture.

I season my mixture with Paula Deen's House Seasoning. I don't leave home without it. Mix it until it heats through and serve with a salad and bread. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hot Stuff

Well, if you are a sissy when it comes to spice, stop reading right now, tuck your tail and head back under your rock. This is not for the faint of spice. Bring on the Tabasco, or at least the peppers that make up the Tabasco sauce. We here in this house love Mexican food. But not the kind that you get frorm Taco Bell (stinks finger down throat), or even the kind of food you find in any American styled Mexican restaurants. You have to remember that most ethnic restaurants have strayed so far from what is cooked in their country, that if you went to said country and started eating the native cuisine, you would say, "Hey, this is not what I eat back home!" Duh, ya think?

With that said, we can easily vegetize Mexican food which is analogous to anything meat. But for those of you who are venturing outside your meat eating box and think Mexican food cannot be tasty unless there is a dead animal on the plate. Think again. And it could be just as tasty with a bit of preparation.

You will have to modify your main dish. For those who are not willing to let go of the meat just yet, how about trying a lower fat cut of meat, perhaps some lean poultry or even some fish. Step away from the beef. Now if you are brave enough to lose the meat, then you can easily step up your dish with beans. And and all kinds of beans. But there are a select few that are paralleled with Mexican food, such as black beans, pinto beans, red beans, kidney beans. But don't feel compelled to eat only those style of beans. Go outside your box. If lentils is your cup of tea, then by all means use them where the meat used to be.

Step away from the refried beans, unless you plan on making them yourself, which, trust me, is easy schmeazy. I will post our homemade recipe as soon as I am done with this post. So sit tight, recipe forthcoming. But, if you still cannot find the time to make your own, read the labels and opt for a lower fat version or even a vegetarian style canned refried bean and spice away if you feel the need.

With so many meat analogs, you can easily add veggie ground beef, chik strips, fake beef strips, or just add more beans. It is way easier to eliminate meat than you might think.

Go easy on the cheese. I myself never buy low-fat or fat free, I just sprinkle lightly. I have so much other flavors going on that the cheese element is not a necessity. Remember, when you cut back on your fat (which is flavor) you most definitely have to add more spice. That is the plain and simple truth.

When choosing a side dish, try and choose whole grains...duh!. They pack more fiber and more nutrition.

Pile on the homemade salsa. You notice I did not say jarred salsa. Why? Preservatives. In a matter of minutes you can whip up a bowl of salsa and you can customize it to your families liking. Hot, spicy, sweet, mild, the list is endless.

Lose the sour cream and slather on the guacamole. Again you can add anything and everything or nothing to this simplest of dishes. Have avocado, will travel.

Use brown rice. Now this one was a toughy for me. I can eat rice until I turn into a grain of rice. Did I mention that I love rice. In any shape or form. So when I made the decision to eat better, I knew I had to lose the white rice and head down the brown aisle. Look what brown can do for you!

Hah! Make your own tortillas. This is great. While these puppies are baking, you can be preparing your meal. How easy is that? Cut up some flour or corn tortillas into triangles, set your oven to 400 degrees, and place your tray of chips, sprayed with some olive or canola oil into a totally heated oven. Bada boom bada bing. There you have it, chips that were not fried.

You can now walk confidently into any supermarket and put your nose up in the air when you see those prepackaged things for a Mexican dinner. Keep on walking and do your body a favor and make it yourself.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Healthy Happy Granola

Yes I use The Food Network for many a recipe. Or at least Savanah does. And we enjoy sweets as much as the next person. But long gone are the days of sitting around with a carton of ice cream on our laps. We have moved up on moved on. And I truly believe that you can intertwine both worlds, referring to sweet and healthy. Well I have always been a huge fan of granola, but when we read the sugar content on the packaged granola, we had to find a better version. So Savanah set out and found a fabulous granola by Alton Brown. We do not technically make them into bars, we let it stay loose and eat it as a snack and as a cereal.

Let the good times roll. If you are looking to curb your sweet tooth but are not looking to have a sugar laden treat, this is the recipe for you. Give it a try, you will not regret me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Am Weak

Yep I broke down and did it. I had a Turkey sandwich. And you know what, it wasn't all that. When I was pregnant with Savanah, I was a vegetarian as well. But I had a hankering for a ham sandwich about halfway through my pregnancy. So my lovely husband knew just the place. We made a bee line for a dive he knew about and let me tell you, that was thee best darned ham sandwich I ever tasted. Yesterday's turkey sandwich was not.

But I got it out of my system and just realized that I really do not miss meat as much as I thought I did.

We did however had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. We had all the items I listed in a previous post, but due to the fact that I had a small turn out family and friends-wise, Savanah asked if ti felt like Thanksgiving. And truth be told, it did not. My home is usually busting at the seams with people...not this year.

There is always next year. Hope you and yours all had a great day with the ones you love!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hearty Winter Soup

Well I snagged thus lovely soup from VEGAN TICKLES All I can say is a resounding wow. Now, for those of you who may not read this blog all that often, my daughter and I have come up with three categories to new recipes we try. There are the Keepers. Those are recipe you do not change one little bit. They stand alone ands should never be messed with. then there are Tweakers. those are recipes that you like, but something is just not right. Whether it be too spicy or not spicy enough or a herb that was not your cup of tea. It is a recipe that needs changing to fit your families taste buds, but the basics are there. And there are the Tossers. Those you throw in the garbage and dare mention you ever made that dish.

With that said this soup is a tweaker and for a few reasons. I am not a big fan of thyme, but tried it all the same. Next time it goes. And Tickle's recipe called for sweet potatoes and all I had were russets. I think the sweet potatoes would have been a great contrast to thee already earthiness of the kale, lentils and leeks. Next time sweet potatoes for sure.I did go to the website she mentioned and thank goodness for sites that archive their recipes. There it was in black and white. The site is a plethora of information so take a gander around and give Real Simple a shot and see what you think.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fermented Foods

For those of you who have never eaten and or made fermented foods, let me tell you...try them. They are one of thee earliest ways people stared to preserve their foods. I have made a few of my own fermented dishes and plan on trying more. Most the recipes I am pulling from are from Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions. Now, before you run out and buy this book (which I did off of eBay) be forewarned, she does promote the eating of meat. I let that go and the rest of her book is dead on. She slams our food industry and how we have been led to believe what 'real' food is as opposed to what we know it should be.

She has her book broken down into chapters, but her first chapters, once you get past the introduction is Fermented Foods. Most of them are vegetable based. But many of them require whey. For those of you who are vegan, I say omit that ingredient.

I have made homemade dill pickles, and the first time I bit into one I wrinkled my nose up, wanting to know why they did not taste like what I knew to be dill pickles. Well DUH, what we have been eating for the last few decades is so far removed from natural fermentation that is nearly a crime. Then I relaxed my taste buds and began to enjoy the new-found pickles.

All you need is a few mason jars, lids and some counter space, and like with all things made form scratch, you need time. You see, fermented food is not something you 'cook'. The cooking process occurs when you leave it sit in its own juices accompanied by the water and spices indicative to that dish. Savanah and I just made an Arabic style fermented turnips. Simple ingredients, we just had to wait for mother nature to do its thing.

What I can and will say is that if you are not fond of vinegar...don't waste your time. For these dishes hang on the side of an acid tasting dish. But oh the benefits it does for the body. Another highly fermented food/beverage I have grown accustomed to is Kombucha . If you can get hold of a mother, then by all means do so. Talk to the people at your local health food store, see if they know anyone who has a mother/starter. If not then there are ways around it, they are just more time consuming. Again, if you are squeamish around vinegar, read no further, for this beverage will not appeal to you one little bit.

Fermented food is good for us due to its predigestion, and anything we have to break down less is a good thing. So give these things the once over and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

This recipe I have had since 2000, when I was still an avid meat eater. I have always wanted a perfect stuffing/dressing recipe, and this is as close as it gets. This makes a decent size baking pan. When you see the final mixture, you can be the judge if you have a pan this size. I used to double this recipe, but it was always too much so I have stayed pretty true to the original. Vegans, you will have to make your alterations. I mean come on, I took it from a meat recipe to vegetarian. Maybe this year I will be able to veganize it. Enjoy!

3/4 pound sweet sausage cut in small chunks (We have also used Gimme Lean, whichever one works for you)
3-4T oil or butter
2 cups chopped onion
1&1/2 cups finely chopped celery, including leaves
1&1/2 cups finely chopped bell pepper, preferably a mix of red and green (this rainbow of color is to die for)
2 T finely chopped garlic (I prefer this through a press sometimes)
1 T chopped fresh thyme or 1 t dried
Pinch dried chili flakes (optional, but I say throw those puppies in there, walk on the wild side)
1 t salt
Corn bread recipe (Post coming soon)
1 cup chopped scallions (Green onions or leeks can work here)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives (I have never used these)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add enough fat (oil or butter) to the pan to get about 5 T total. Add the onion, celery, peppers, garlic, thyme, chili flakes, and salt. Cook briefly until the onion is softened. With a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits in the pan. Combine in a large bowl with the crumbled cornbread, scallions, parsley, chives and pepper. Toss to combine.

If baking some or all of the stuffing in a casserole, pour a cup or two of stock over the stuffing to replace the juices the stuffing would have absorbed from the bird. Bake it uncovered until heated through, 45 minutes to 1 hour. For a crunchy top, uncover it for the last 15 minutes of baking.

You will have to adapt some of this to your kitchen and your tastes, but rest assured this is slap up delicious. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Traditional Whole Wheat Bread

For those of you who bake or don't, Sue Gregg is thee end all and be all in bread baking and bread knowledge. Do we really know what goes in in our bread is we are kneading or letting it rise. And how did we go from a wheat kernel and get to Wonder Bread. I have a few of her binder books, but am looking into getting thee entire set. Give her a glance, she knows her bread. We do not have a mixer, so we are still kneading by hand. Would I like a mixer? Yes and no. I love the fact that me and one of my children gets to stand across the counter from one another and talk for about 25 minutes. For that is how long we have to actually knead the dough.

It is a family experience. When I was unable to do help in the bread making process, my Youtubing, Playstationing son stepped up to the plate and helped out Savanah. Thank to those two, we had bread during my entire recovery. We double batch and freeze what we are not presently eating. But this recipe that I am posting is 2 regular sized loafs. If you are looking to learn to make your own bread it is not that easy. But I do recommend as you get more serious, is to get bread pans, they have made my bread look like it does in the magazines. Well worth thee investment. I am not necessarily promoting this company, but if you look at the bread pan closely, you will see a dimpled surface on the inside of the pan. That is what you are looking for. So on your next trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond, take a gander down the baking aisle and see what you can see.

1. Proof yeast: Dissolve yeast with honey in water in a glass measuring cup; let stand for 5-10 minutes until it bubbles up;
1/4 lukewarm water (100-115 degrees--warm to wrist)
1 T honey (or other sweetener)
1 T ( 1 package) active dry yeast

2. Blend in mixing bowl (I use metal bowls, but use what you have) in order given:
2&1/4 cups hot water (120-125 degrees)
2 t salt
1/3 cup oil (olive oil preferred)
1/3 cup honey (or other sweetener)
3 cups whole wheat flour
**If you use the same measuring cup for the oil, then the honey behind it will not stick, for thee oil has already lubricated the cup**

3. Blend in yeast ; mixing in remaining flour while easy to stir; then turn dough out on a floured surface to knead in rest of flour as needed to prevent sticking:
proofed yeast (step #1)
3-3&1/2 cups whole wheat flour

4. Knead until smooth and elastic, and resistant.

5. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl (I use the same one I mixed in, just clean it out first), oil top of dough slightly, cover with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1 & 1/2 hours. (Stay away from drafts, it makes a difference)

6. Gently punch down in center; knead lightly

7. Shape, (place in loaf pans) let rise, bake, and cool according to recipe (cool on wire rack. Do not let bread sit in pan, it will sweat and make bread mushy) used for bread rolls, or pizza crust.

This is a tried and true recipe and we love it. If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask.

Cous Cous Salad

I cannot believe I have not posted this recipe. I should be taken out to the backyard and put out of my misery for not sharing this with you ladies. My sister, who helped me in my recovery from my back surgery loves this salad. She can never get enough and always makes me double if not triple the garlic. I have no idea where I got this one, but I think I got it the first time around as a vegetarian. But whatever the case, this is my most requested dish, and not just for the holidays.

1 cup cooked couscous
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded (an important step) and diced
1 medium tomato seeded (trust me you need to do this step) and chopped
1 bunch of green onions (I have tried doesn't work) chopped
1 cup chick peas

1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice (start with 1/4 cup and add until it is right for you)
2-? cloves of garlic (I usually use about 4) crushed (or put through a garlic press)
1 t Dijon style mustard, coriander and salt
Some pepper to taste (go easy on this one. I LOVE pepper, but this is OK without it)
Mix first five ingredients. Then on the side in a small bowl, combine the dressing. I also tried adding the dressing right to the salad before mixing it separately...doesn't work. Mixing it on the side first is best. Add to salad, mix well and serve.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Giving Thanks

How is it I always seem to stumble upon these little treasures. We have a health food store that just opened up about 2-3 months ago. It is not as large as Whole Foods, but so close it scares me. Just imagine Whole Foods, but shrink it down. Our little slice of health food is called Nutrition S'Mart. They have organic produce, raw milk and cheeses, a juice bar, bulk foods, and a plethora of other items that would take too long to tell you about.

When we do go, whether it be for an item I cannot find in the grocery store, or for a class, I always take what is lying at the end of the check out register. And the last time I was there I found a little free magazine called Delicious Living . Whoa. This little gem has more stuff in it then most peoples garages. I'm not kidding, and you know I am talking about your garage, for I do not have one. Well, the headline on this issue is Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu. And truth be told, I am a bit overwhelmed this year, and for a few reasons. 1) I just had major spinal surgery this past summer, but feel Savanaha and I can tackle our menu head on. 2) The friends and family we are inviting are devout meat eaters.

We are still going to buy a turkey, but I have promised Savanah we will purchase an organic, cage free turkey. But the rest of our menu is vegetarian and many dishes will be vegan. It is not that we planned them to be vegan on purpose, but if we have tried them and they were they went to the menu.

So here is our Thanksgiving Menu:

Green Soup If you have not made this simple delicious soup, then read the recipe, get off your hiney and make it...NOW! You will thank me in the morning.

Cous Cous Salad This one is becoming fast thee most requested sih in my home, especially at the holidays

Maroccan Stew This one is one my best friend found when she knew my daughter was a vegetarian. It is nearly a weekly staple in our home.

Mashed Potatoes (How can you go wrong with these)
& Gravy (And it's just not potatoes without the gravy, no matter what Savanah says)

Kale (This recipe calls for collards, but we have discovered kale and it so works)

Dressing (This is one I am still tweaking but will be up before Thanksgiving)

Cranberry Sauce (One of my daughters favorite, so it goes on the menu every year, and none of that canned crap)

Homemade Bread (We have been grinding our own grains for over a year now and we have never looked back.)

Pumkin Cheesecake (We will be trying this one before the big day, but we will be cooking it in a water-bath for sure, they come out moister that way and less chance of cracking)

Cream Cheese Pie (My mother has made this for years and I have kept up the tradition, recipe soon to come)

There you have it folks. Our menu for this holiday season. I look forward to seeing what you girls will be cooking up for the holiday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Apple a Day

My husband brought this little flyer home with information chocked full of apples. I do not like to eat apples as much as I love to juice them and cook with them. I do like Empires and Courtlands, those are my favorites.

Hope this information helps you when you are choosing an apple to either bake or just eat.

For pies:
Golden Delicious
Granny Smith

For Sauce:
Golden Delicious
Granny Smith
Gala Fuji

For Baking Whole:
Golden Delicious
Gala Fuji

Commonly called the fruit capital of the world, Yakima Valley wasn't always known for its apples. It was the valley's early pioneers, who made their living raising cattle and sheep, who planted the first fruit trees with the sole purpose of adding variety to their diet. Then there was the weather; hot and dry with an average rainfall of only eight inches a year. It was the early 1800's when work began to provide the valley with ample irrigation from the nearby Cascadian Mountain Range.

Today, the rolling hills of Yakima Valley boast over 78,000 abundant acres of apple orchards. And right now, their harvests are at their absolute best. Enjoy them now because when peak season's gone, so is your chance to enjoy the best-tasting apples of the year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Szechuan Sauce

If you make sit fry's, then this is a must have for you. This is spicy, but not so much that you cannot enjoy your meal. I like spice, do I do not steam rolling out of my ears. Chop your veggies and add this, you will be in heaven.

3 T vegetable broth
1 T cornstarch
1/2 cup tamari
1 T catsup
3 T chili sauce
1 t sugar (or any sweetener)
1/4-1/2 hot pepper flakes
Combine broth and cornstarch (male sure broth is cool or room temperature), mix well. Stir in tamari, catsup, chili sauce, sugar and pepper flakes, mix well.

How simple is that. I feel like I need to type more or talk about this recipe more...something. But alas, it is a simple recipe and it speaks for itself.

Lentil Cumin Soup

I lived in Dearborn Michigan for about 3&1/2 years, and that was where I learned what I know about Middle Eastern cooking. Which happens to be my most favorite ethnic food. Thee ingredients here are simple, but you will need a food mill for this. I was lucky enough to find one at where...oh yeah, a thrift shop. And this is one of those oldy but goodies.

2 cups dry lentils (picked over and rinsed)
10 cups water
1 cup raw rice
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 T cumin
1 t salt
In a large pot, mix water and lentils. Bring to boil until lentils are soft. Remove from heat, let cool somewhat, until they are touchable.

Meanwhile , in a small to medium skillet, heat oil and saute parsley and onion.

Place your food mill onto another large cooking pot. Take a slotted spoon and dip the cooked lentils into the food mill and grind the lentils, discarding the hulls while reserving the meat (no pun intended) of the lentils. Take the liquid they were cooked in and add to lentil paste.

Add cooked parsley and onion to soup. Then add the rice and simmer until rice is done. Depending on which rice you use this time will vary.

This is such a wonderful soup, and to me a comfort soup as well. It brings back such wonderful memories of my time in Michigan and living up north while learning so much about Arabic cooking and the Muslim ways. If you have any questions about this recipe, please do not hesitate to ask.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mock Meatloaf

I miss meat. Not all of the time, but there are days I miss it. I openly admit it and still struggle when I make my husband and son some of our time honored dishes. Meatloaf being one of them. I have been scouring for a good one that does my old meat one justice. I have found such a recipe. Thanks to Happy Herbivore my daughter and I feasted on meatloaf and potatoes last night. We made our own potatoes and I completely forgot to make gravy, but I was in heaven. I did not change one thing and would not. It worked out perfectly for us and look forward to making it again in the near future.

There is one drawback though, Savanah took the leftovers and reheated them which was supposed to be for my cold meatloaf sandwich. So now we will have to make it again...oh darn!

Sesame Noodles

I really try to remember where I got these recipes, but sometimes I just completely forget. I feel those who made these dishes deserve their due credit. This one I found on thee Internet, but have no blessed clue where. I so want to try Udon noodles, but the recipe actually called for pasta. I liked it, but hubby and Savanah were not as pleased with it. This is definitely a keeper though.

1 (8 ounce) package brown rice spaghetti, other thin pasta or udon noodles
1/4 cup tamari (We use reduced sodium)
2 T tahini
1 T roasted smooth almond butter (We used regular butter)
1 T brown rice vinegar (We used rice wine vinegar)
1 T lemon juice
1 T toasted sesame oil
Hot sauce to taste
1 cup shredded cabbage (We sued green, red is prettier)
1&1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup sliced green onions
1 T toasted sesame seeds
Cook pasta/noodles until al dente ( I prefer mine a bit more cooked) according to package directions. Drain pasta/noodles thoroughly.

In a large bowl, whisk together tamari, tahini, almond butter, vinegar, lemon juice, toasted sesame oil and hot sauce. Add pasta cabbage, carrots and green onions. Toss to coat noodles thoroughly with sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

There will not be a lot of sauce sitting in the bottom of the bowl. So if you like it saucier, then have some extra tamari sitting on the dining room table. Enjoy, I know I did.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Stuffed Peppers

Right out of the bull-pen this is a keeper. We found this recipe in a magazine we picked up at our local health food on their customer appreciation day last month. It is called Veggie Life. It is chocked full of recipes, ideas and what-nots. I love vegetables, and there are very few I refuse to eat. Wouldn't that be an oxymoron, to be a vegetarian and not like vegetables? Anyhow, on to this recipe. I love peppers, and they repeat on me. I deal with it. Red peppers are my favorite to eat raw, and I even freeze green peppers as they go bad, then I thaw them out and saute them as needed. Enjoy these stuffed peppers, for we did.

Skillet Ginger-Stuffed Peppers

1-1/2 cups vegetable protein flakes (TVP)
1/2 inch ginger root, grated
1/4 t cumin
1/4 t garam masala (we did not have this ingredient)
1/4 t tumeric
3 T vegetable oil
1-28 ounce can tomatoes including juices (we used crushed)
1 T chopped cilantro, or to taste
Salt to taste
2 large bell peppers, halved top to bottom, seeds and ribs removed
In a medium bowl, cover TVP with warm to hot water and allow to plump for about 30 minutes. Drain well.

In a large skillet with a lid, saute ginger, cumin garam masala and tumeric in 1 T of thee oil for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Pour in tomatoes with juice and drained TVP. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer, stirring often, until liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. Stir in cilantro and salt.

Arrange pepper halves on a platter and fill with stuffing packing it tightly and smoothing surface.

Rinse skillet and heat 1 T of the oil over medium heat. Arrange filled peppers in hot pan, cover and cook for 5 minutes. **We opted to use thee oven at this point, for we were on a crunched schedule. They went into the oven for about 15 minutes at 350. they were cooked but not falling apart**

Use a pastry brush to dab filling with remaining oil. Using tings and a spatula, carefully turn peppers over so that the filling is down. (spatula will help keep filling from spilling out.) Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, until peppers are tender.

Remove cover and carefully turn peppers over again, being careful to keep intact with spatula. Heat for a few minutes without cover, until liquid evaporates.

I ate a whole pepper. Mr. Cooking Lady (I like how Wing it calls her man) loved the TVP stuffing and does not like peppers due to the fact that they repeat on him. And going to a massage and having to burp constantly is not a good thing. Enjoy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thank You Mike

I recently Emailed a friend of mine who is near and dear to my heart. He and his previous family were the reasons I am so educated about many things. Starting with vegetarianism, grain grinding, homeschooling and so much more. they were vegans and that, to me was a foreign concept. I understood it, but man, to be able to truly wrap my head around it was an entirely different story.

But I learned to adapt and held a vegan Christmas the year after Savanah was born. And truth be told, it was not that difficult. I even made a vegan pumpkin pie...compliments of Vegetarian Times. You have to realize this was 15 years ago, so that same recipe may not be the one I used. But man it was good. Grape Nuts styles crust, and silken tofu was the main ingredient in the pie. We all ate well. It was a non-traditional Christmas to say the least. We had many different ethnic foods. Who knew Christmas could be so entertaining, in the food department.

We have both since moved on with our lives, but I do not think Mr. C realizes how much he has influenced and shaped my life and how I feel about food. Food is a part of who we are and foods says many things about us as a person and as human beings. I am so very glad I have re-embraced my vegetarianism. And every time I choose a slab of tofu over a slab of ribs, life seems better to me.

I am a devout follower of thee old adage, "You Are What You Eat!" I still see people say that they have no clue how those 20 extra pounds got on their hips...all the while they are eating a supersize me meal from our local Mickey-Dees. Helllooo. I do have to come to my own defense and say I am not a judgemental vegetarian, at least not this time around. I was a bad name for vegetarians way back when. I am very different this time around. And I can give thanks to my daughter for teaching me to sit back and do not judge what others eat, even thought we as vegetarians are always under the microscope.

Back to my tribute. I want to think my friend Mike for setting me straight about food. I fell off the wagon for quite a while and a second thanks for my daughter who still inspires me to this day for her ability to stand up for what she believes in. Thank you Mike and thanks to my Savanah.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hey Y'all, It's Okra Time

As I have told many of you before, I am a big fan of Paula Deen. Listening to her is like listening to a piece of my past. My Nanny sounded just like that. So for me it is a soothing voice. To others it is over the top. Be that as it may, the woman knows how to cook, and moreso Southern Comfort foods. She could have entire show filled with meat dishes and I would still watch her, just to hear her voice and watch her antics. I mean come on, the woman went toe to toe with Elmo, how cool is that.

Well I am a big fan of okra...many are not, again, it just may be a living in the South thing, but I could eat it rolled in mud if I had to, but Paula Deen has come to our rescue once again. I watched an episode with her and her brother on it the other day and they were reminiscing about their comfort foods and who made them and they made an okra and tomatoes dish. Youch did it look delicious. I went to purchase all the veggies needed and the produce market was dare they and knowing good ad well I needed to make my Paula Deen special dish.

Pffft. I went to the grocery store, got them frozen and alas, the dish was made. And boy was it as good as it looked. So hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did. I say that a lot too, don't I? Enjoy!

Okra and Tomatoes

1T peanut oil, for frying (We used whatever was in the pantry)
1/4 pound bacon (I think Savanah used about 6-8 slices of Morningstar Farms Veggie styled Bacon)
1T butter (I think the substitute for vegans is Earth Balance)(If Earth Balance is used, it is a dairy free dish)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1t minced garlic (1-2 fresh cloves pressed through a garlic press)
1/2-3/4 t House Seasoning (I'm telling you this is gold in powder form)
4 cups diced tomatoes (We used fresh, you can use canned, but drain as much liquid off as possible. Save the liquid for a Bloody Mary or soup broth...ah never mind, use it in the Bloody Mary)
1cup water
1T vegetable base (I use the vegetable base. And I have purchased this right in my grocery store soup aisle) (and I believe their or MSG Free)
4 cups sliced fresh or frozen okra
Serving suggestion: Over rice
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add fake bacon, butter, onion, green pepper, and garlic. Saute until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent. Add House Seasoning, tomatoes, water, vegetable base and okra. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season, to taste and serve with rice along side.

Book of Goodness

I love to cook. What a shocker there, eh? And between Savanah and myself, we are constantly printing recipes off the Internet. Some I remember their origin, others I do not. I try to give credit where credit is due, I know I would like to be acknowledged, but if I cannot remember the person I got a certain recipe from, I at least try to remember the website.

There are also times that recipes get changed so much that it in no way resembles thee original. With that said, I would like to show you what Savanah and I have concocted. For those of you who may not be able to read the print on the cover of our very own 3 Ring Binder catch all cookbook of sorts. It reads Danette and Savanah's Book of Goodness:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Free Cookbook Offer

We shop mostly at our local produce stand, and purchase little if any veggies from the grocery store. So we get this bunch of Swiss Chard that is going in a stir fry tonight and on the twist tie that come on the chard there is an offer for a free recipe booklet. Free is good.

To get your free copy send your name, and mailing address plus $2.00 cash or check for postage to:

Salad Savory
18931 Portola Drive, Suite D
Salinas, CA 93908

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What a Steal

I am always looking for a bargain. And as many of you may or may not know I love second hand shops, more commonly referred to as thrift shops. Goodwill comes to mind to many as does Salvation Army. But there are many smaller thrift shops, second hand shop (Darn I am wanting to break out in Streisand's Second Hand Rose real bad), and consignment shops as well.

Some of those shops are backed by churches, ASPCA, and many many more. So find a spot that you are willing to dump your money into and stop the buying of new items that need more energy and find a new home for a sad slowcooker, a desk lamp, a set of beer mugs, book, and anything else you can think of.

I am gone so long, my husband contemplates having a change of address card for my mail when I am out thrifting. Now back to my story.

I was at Goodwill looking for drinking glasses, because...well I will blog about my reason why...anyhow, we found three glasses, which is all we needed, and what did Savanah find without even looking for was a SPRINGFORM PAN! Did I shout? Pardon me, I got a bit excited.

I have been looking for a pan and a cheesecake recipe. Well I borrowed from my girlfriend her spring-form pan and the recipe I got from Tyler Florence on the Food Network. My oh my, the cheesecake was a hit. Now, we did have the wrong pan size and should have used a 9 inch, but my girlfriends was an 8 inch. Our recipe came out a bit more jiggly than we had anticipated, and now we think we know why. If the recipe called for a 9 inch pan, then it would have less surface space to cook...duh, and that may have been the culprit.

So needless to say, we are looking forward to our next encounter with graham crackers and cream cheese. *chills run down Cooking Lady's spine*

Saturday, October 25, 2008

House Seasoning

This house would be lost without this spice mixture. We use it in everything. I love Paula Deen, it is like hearing my grandmother who was born in Georgia. I have heard so many people say they can only take so much of her...most of those people are from the north.

I heard her talk about her House Seasoning, but never heard the measurements, or even what was in the darned tootin' thing. Then I got one of her cookbooks for Christmas and found the recipe:

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months

Six months!!! You have got to be out of yer cotton pickin' mind. I put that stuff on my Cheerios. Just kidding. We put it on home fries, which we make at least twice a week, use it as a rub for my husbands meats, seasoning our veggies. Our list goes on, but suffice it to say, this stuff rocks, and if you ain't a usin' it, well you should be.

I will end with Paula's saying she says at the end of each show.

"With love and best wishes, from my kitchen to yours."

This Little Piggy Went to the Market

I am not a piggy, and just what kind of market was that little piggy going to anyhow? We live in a small town about 1 hour north of West Palm Beach. And yes, I can count. Anyhow, I have known of our local Farmers Market for some time now, but I knew I did not want to go all alone.

Low and behold (I use that I lot, don't I?), my husband had a Saturday off. Unusual for retail, but he was home all the same. We were up at 6 AM, pretty normal for us and I asked him a little after we rose, if he had been serious about trying out the Farmers Market in the town barely north of us. And he said yes. So off we went to the market.

It is set on the Intercoastal of the Atlantic Ocean and boy is it worth viewing. Many of you are already wearing fall attire. Not here, we are still in our short and our AC went back on. The humidity was killer. In October already, I am so over Florida. Now back to my story.

We arrived at 8AM, for their hours are 8-12 every Saturday, rain or shine. So there we were. Arts and crafts on one side and veggies on the other. We made our way past a smattering of folks who have no life, for if you rise that early, you are either old or without a life. My husband and I fall somewhere in between both groups.

There was 2 breads vendors. Always ask prices. Big mistake. I saw a loaf I liked and it ended up being $7. Heeelllooo. There was a bit of organic produce, but the majority was locally grown vegetables. You should have seen some of this stuff. Why am I not seeing this size produce in my stores. Dollar signs. It costs more to ship them, and our lovely retailers believe that we, the uneducated public will not purchase vegetables the size of this:

Yes, and that thing all the way in the back and all the way to the right is a zucchini. I could feed the state of Montana with that thing. We will be using that tonight with a Sandra Lee, Semi Homemade recipe. There will be nothing packaged, so relax, all is well. Some of thee other items in the photo are baby bok choy (Great in stir fries) eggplant, green beans, red creamer potatoes, tomatoes, nectarines, plums, and my oh my, I got taken on that bread in the back, there is a big hunk eaten out of that bread. Darn it, I should have gotten their number for a refund *As Cooking Lady washes down a chunk bread with some iced tea*.

This place was joyful, people looked you in thee eye and they even attempted to hold on a pleasant conversation. Folks brought their dogs and there was no need for Caesar Milan. I told my daughter that she would definitely enjoy Farmer's Market Downtown. We also surmised that we should arrive a little later than 8AM, for more than a few vendors were still in the process of setting up, so 9AM would be better.

We could also have breakfast there. Between the breakfast rolls and the coffee station I would be set for the day. But darned if I forgot to buy me some Spearmint. I grew that wild until this last year and it all died. I had gotten that mint form my husbands aunt in Cleveland Ohio. There is always next time. I use mint in my Arab dinner salad. I do need to post that recipe. Oh so worth it, trust me on this. And it is thee only salad my son will eat and eat it he does.
So go out, if weather permits and visit your local farmer's market and support your local farmers.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Is It Soup Yet?

Don't ask me why I am so fueled up, but enjoy my spurt of energy(For those of you who really know me you are wondering...she slowed down?). I got this idea from reading Cook Study and be Crafty. She made her soup a bit differently then I did, but hey, we all improvise.

To say I am frugal is an understatement. I will scrimp and save anywhere I can. I run three to four errands a day so I can sit home the next. I turn off lights whenever possible, conserve water all the time and am discovering more ways to reduce my water intake.

And the grocery department is what I have complete control over. From the budget(not much of it) to what the meals are to trying to stretch the food dollar. So I got this wild idea to save our produce scraps and freeze them. Once I had enough to cook up for broth I would do so. Well that day has come. I had four freezer style gallon bags sitting in my freezer.

Today it cooled down(For Florida that is) enough to open the house, and what a nice cool breeze. I told my son kindly go and get my big cooking pot. He did and I washed off the dust it had collected and I then began to dump filtered water into this enormous pot along with all the veggie scraps I had been saving.

The smell is unbelievable. Once it is done simmering, I will let it cool down and back into the freezer it goes. Wish you all could smell what I am smelling, but I took pictures, well my son did actually, mom is too short to get an aerial view. Thank you Robert!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Attack of the Killer Tomato

How did "B" grade movies make it? Has anyone even seen that movie? I have not, but I am guessing there is someone out there who swears it is the best B movie they have ever seen.

I am on a roll tonight. Banana bread from Plain Banana and now a Kick-A salad from Post Punk Kitchen. This salad was to die for. We did not have any meatballs, so we just used a basic salad recipe and added the dressing, which we cut in half and whamo, dinner was marvelous. And so much so that I over ate.....ahhhh, what a shame.

In my world, my motto is:

I like what I cook, because I cook what I like.

Get over to Post Punk and try this dressing out and trust me, you will not be disappointed. I might even have to make my eggplant meatless meatballs and serve this over it. Enjoy!

Just Plain 'Ol Banana

Edit in: We made this again (Imagine that), but this time we added a 1/2 stick of melted butter and we liked it tons. So for those who are not vegan or not watching their calories...go for it!

I was not technically looking for a banana bread recipe, but you have to understand my old recipe first. It called for a pound of butter...yeah, you heard right and I had tweaked that down form the one my mother originally gave me. I don't stutter and your ears don't flap.

I am not a low-fat, reduced calorie, lite type of cook. I prefer to walk off my indulgences, but with this new-found recipe you don't have to do a darned tootin' thing. This is a KEEPER! You folks have just got to go over and Visit Plain Banana and check out this banana bread recipe. I did and I am not looking back and I am not sharing a bite with any of you. I have a baton and I am not afraid to use it.

This is one of those recipes that if a burglar came in and they said, give me the banana bread or your kid comes with me...."Bye baby girl, don't fight with the burglar." Just kidding. But this is a wonderful cake/bread/dunker. And you ladies know what I am talking about. Have your cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa and curl up with a good book, or old movie and have at it, because you will want to make this in bulk, freeze it and hide it behind something that no one will ever find...hence the not having to share.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One Man's Junk

Well I seem to be admitting tons of things today. One of my loves is finding a bargain. I love Garage Sales, but since my back surgery I have limited my driving, and we all know the driving entailed with garage sales, not to mention the getting in and out of said car. So I prefer to do a 'One stop shopping' experience, hence the thrift shops.

I love browsing through what other people did not need. What I am ready to chuck out the door, others are willing to sit and catch with a catchers mitt. Who knew. I had purchased a few years back a salad spinner(something no home should be without) and spent probably 3-5 dollars on the thing. It did me good and made it through a few years. So it definitely paid for itself times over.

We, however, were recently in need to get some shirts for my husband and he needed them quickly and in quantity. You cannot got to Macy's and buy bulk without going broke, so off to Goodwill we went. While there, I am always scouring the book section so I can bring them home to weigh down my already sagging bookshelf.

As I was waiting for my daughter to finish window shop, my husband taps me on the shoulder, I turn around and what do I see? A real salad spinner(has flashes of Pinocchio). This puppy was solid as a rock, it wasn't going anywhere, and I swear by the style and color scheme, it came right out of the 70's. I don't care if it came from Little House on the Prairie, it was going home with me, and it did.

I have used it at least 3 times since arriving in my safe cupboards. I will not donate you like that last person did. So keep safe my dear salad spinner.

Meatless Meatballs

I am the first to admit that there are things I miss in the meat world. "Hi, my name is Danette and I miss the taste of some meats." Meetings will be held the 4th Tuesday of every month.

As always, my daughter and myself are looking for the least processed road in the vegetarian world. Granted, we know there will be some things we will forever purchase, but I think the trade off of not having meat in our diet is a decent balance. With that said. We were looking for a meatless meatball. So searching off I went. And low and behold I came across two recipes, both with eggplant as their meat substitute. Can anybody say sweeeet? I love eggplant, and luckily for us so does the rest our my family. Life was looking a whole lot better.

So we happen upon this recipe which we had to tweak a bit. Remember in an earlier post I made, there were keepers, tweakers and those you ditch. This one was a tweaker, and here its the tweaked recipe. Enjoy...for we did.

Eggplant Meatballs

3T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cups unpeeled diced eggplant(1 med-lg eggplant)
2 cups bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten(vegans, do your thing)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese(Vegans, you know what to do)
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese(OK Vegans, blah blah blah)
3 cloves of grated garlic
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Heat a large skillet and coat with olive oil. When skillet is hot, add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Saute until it's soft, about 8-10 minutes. If the eggplant dries out to quickly and sticks, add a bit more olive oil. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Place all softened eggplant in the food processor and process into a smooth puree. Return to mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. If the ingredients seems too dry, add a teaspoon of oil.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.Coat a baking sheet with a small mount of olive oil. Wet your hand(A very important step) with a little water and shape the eggplant mixture into balls, using 2 large tablespoons per ball. Place meatballs on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until deep golden brown and slightly crusty. Do not over-bake or they will be too dry. Remove sheet from oven and cover lightly with foil to let the meatballs steam until ready.

Can I tell you super yummo. We also realized that they did not have to be in the shape of balls. We could cook them in the shape of a patty and Viola, we have Meatless hamburgers. Man being a vegetarian is fun.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thank You Oprah

I usually do not double post from my other blog. But I felt this a necessary. As I said in my other blog, I usually do not watch Oprah, but Tuesday October 14ths episode was one to be viewed.

It was all about factory farming and Proposition 2 that is being voted on in California. There were members from both sides(none form PETA), one being The Humane Society(and he was well spoken) and others from the chicken and pork industry. Those in the business defended how they treated the animals and others came to the animals defense, even if you are not a vegetarian, I think it is important for us to consider how animals are treated that are used for our dinner table.

I am unsure if you can watch episodes from past airdates, but if you can then by all means go to Oprah's website and watch thee episode, it is worth the watch.

I blogged more intensely here about the Oprah episode.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Memory-All Alone in the Moonlight

Crossing over to the vegetarian world for a second time has been a breeze. I cook more, I cook better and I am more comfortable and confident with my decision and why I chose to let go of meat this time around. However...

I will straight up say I miss some things, and not to say I would eat them if given thee oppurtunity, but boy is it tempting. For instance, the smell of bacon frying in a cast iron skillet, That just reeks of a lazy Sunday morning.

Fried chicken. I grew up in a Southern home, and that was a staple on our dinner table, along with the collards with some bacon thrown in and lest we forget the black-eyed peas that had a ham hock floating in it, and last but certainly not least, the green beans with some bacon drippings from Sunday morning breakfast that laid out all day. Do I miss the food? Not really, for we have vegetized our foods, but boy do I miss the smell of some crackling chicken in the deep fryer.

A backyard BBQ(and I'm still looking for a homemade BBQ sauce. If anyone has one, point me in the right direction). Sorry, nothing can compare. My mouth still waters when I smell them.

And the creme de la creme of best smelling meats is the Thanksgiving Turkey. I am trying to convince hubby that we can let it go this year and only have a ham(which my father-in-law purchases because he hates turkey) along with a slew of vegetarian dishes.

This post was not made to tell you all that I miss meat or to even suggest that any of you all out there do, but we are so connected to memories through smell, and that is a proven scientific fact. We are transported back to our childhood(good or bad) in a nanosecond through the sense of smell. I have good memories when I think of food, save fried eggs. But I look forward to the day that I do not crave meat just because of a smell.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mr. Potato Head

My catchy titles are impressing even my(I can see my daughter rolling her as at that last sentence...Right Nana? Anyhow. to say I love hashbrowns is a gross understatement. I could eat home-fries and hash browns until the cows come home. But try as I might, I have never been able to perfect the hashbrown recipe.

5-6 russet potatoes(shredded and salted)
Vegetable oil

It took me a while to figure out that I needed to get rid of, squeeze out as much excess water as I possibly could. Well Eureka! We nailed it last night. I washed and shredded about 5 russet potatoes in the food processor. Then I put them on a cookie sheet, salted them and let them set while Savanah and I prepped the rest of the meal.

In all, they sat for about 15 minutes-ish. Man at the water they leave behind. I took them and placed them in a large strainer, about the size of a dinner plate, and physically squeezed the water out of the potatoes myself. I got musk-els now.

Then I heated up my electric skillet. You should have a large cooking surface when you cook these. Got it screaming hot, add a thin layer of vegetable oil(not olive in this case) and added the potatoes. Get ready for they will splatter the grease.

In the world of diner cooking, you do not even flip these. When you go to turn them over, you do it directly to the plate...I Think Not! I love the whole idea of them being crispy. So I flipped them only once and oh my stars we had the best breakfast for dinner this side of the Mississippi! Make them and enjoy them!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

Well, my daughter was at it the kitchen I mean. And she came up with this wicked lemon poppy seed scone. Keep in mind that we borrowed the Base Recipe from Wing it Vegan.

Not that we have made them to death, Savanah wanted to step it up a bit and here is what she came up with. Yummo, I swear!

1&3/4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar(Savanah bumped this up a wee bit, maybe 1/3, but not 100% sure)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
6 T butter(we do not veganize this dish)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 t poppy seeds
1T lemon juice
1t lemon zest
In a large bowl, combine, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and poppy seed. Break up the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly.

Add the juice, lemon zest and lemon juice and blend everything with a spoon just until a dough forms. Make a ball with the dough. Pat the dough down to make a 1/2 thick circle and cut the dough into triangles(we are still working on this shape)

Brush a cookie sheet with some olive oil. Transfer the scones to cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven on 350 degrees for 15 minutes. NO PEEKING! (That is an order from Savanah)

I am in love. OK, what food am I not in love with. These are bar none, some of the best sweets she has turned out. I am someone who does not like my dessert/sweet to be sickening sweet. I should not run for a glass of something to wash the sugar taste out of my mouth. Well these scone are brilliant I say. Thanks to Wing it Vegan for he lovely base recipe to work from.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

How Do Your Rate Dishes?

Me and Savanah are now walking on the wild side and trying new dishes as long as we have more than 80% of the ingredients. And we are having a BLAST. We made quesadillas on the stove top thanks to Tara AKA Cooking Simply , we were filled to the rim. We did substitute the black beans with kidney beans, but my tummy ain't a complainin'.

As we sat there eating our quesadillas, it hit me. It is so much easier for us to throw together a dinner. There is not much canned meat out there, but there is plenty of canned veggies, beans and even soup. But the guys in this house have to thaw out their meat and you have to plan in advance. Not us, we can throw together a meal lickety split.

Well, to the point of this post. Savanah and I rate the new dishes we make as:

1) A keeper-no explanation there
2) A tweaker-something that needs some work or changes but we can eventually keep
3) A tosser-It hits the skids and we never see it again

We were wondering how you girls(and guys) rate the new dishes you all try in your home. Let's hear it ladies.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Autumn Salad

On my previous stint as a vegetarian, I had ordered a boxed set of recipe cards. They were colorful and broken down into categories. Wonderful for this scatter-brained woman. I go by the name of Cooking Lady for a reason. Within our homeschooling community, we, as parents, offer to teach classes at our co-ops(bi-weekly classes offered to students). When we entered homeschooling five years ago, I know right away what I wanted to teach. Hands down, it was going to be cooking. I... or at least my cooking class was an instant success.

I have tweaked my class and pretty much have it down to a science. I know the right amount of students to have, as not to be stepping on one another whilst cooking. And last year(2007-2008), I decided to show these children(who range in age from 5-12) that you can most definitely put dishes on the table and them not have any meat, not even by-products.

There is a recipe here, trust me. One of the salads I made, trying to show them there is more to salads than iceberg lettuce. With that said, please enjoy this wonderful salad.

1t djion mustard
2T minced garlic(or to taste)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2T lemon juice
2T tomato juice(you might be tempted to leave this one out...don't)
1t tamari(soy sauce)
1/4 t ground black pepper or cayenne pepper

1/4 cup cooked beans of choice(my photo shows a white bean, but black bean would be so pretty here)
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1t drained capers
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup fresh or frozen(thawed corn-kernels)
2 lettuce leaves
Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl or blender, and whisk. Ina medium bowl, combine beans, cucumber and 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Cover and let marinate for 1 hour in the frig. After beans and cucumbers have marinated, add tomatoes, capers, bell pepper and corn. Toss well to coat. Place lettuce leaves on two salad plates and spoon bean-vegetable mixture in top of lettuce. Serve immediately.

So good and simple! Enjoy!

Martha's Cuban Black Beans

Many of you may or may not know that I am married to a Cuban. I was blessed with a wonderful mother-in-law and one that can also cook up a storm. Granted, she cooks with meat as her main course and fries nearly everything, but man oh man her beans. these black beans are the only ones she makes without a meat additive for flavor(ham hock, salt back, slab of bacon). But these beans are to die for, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have over the last 27 years(Yikes, that is a long time!)

2 cups of dry black/turtle beans(picked through and debris removed)
8-10 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt(maybe more to taste)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup sofrito
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cumin(do not omit)
1/4 cup cooking wine(whatever you have on hand will do)
I used to pressure cook these beans and that is all fine and well, but I have learned to embrace my slow cooker/crock pot. Something every kitchen should not be without, especially if you have a family.

Start these beans the night before, you will thank me at dinnertime. Place cleaned, rinsed black beans in slow cooker with water and salt. Set it on low and let it be.

In the morning if you need to add any extra water, do so, but only enough to keep beans covered. This dish is supposed to be on the thick side.

Once you have your beans covered with enough water(If it was necessary) then get out a small frying pan. Heat pan and add your oil. once it is hot over a medium-high heat then add your sofrito. It will pop and splatter a bit. Saute it for about 2-3 minutes, but stir nearly continuously. Once the sofrito is heated through add to beans...oil and all.

Now begin to add your other spices, cumin, oregano, and cooking wine.

Now here is the odd part but a must if you want the consistency you would get at a Cuban home. Take a sturdy metal spoon and take the back of the spoon to gently smash some of the black beans against the wall of the slow cooker. Do this with about half of the beans you have cooked. Remember that you only want about 1/4 of an inch of water on top of your beans. If it is any higher, then you will have gloopy(I made that word up) runny beans, and that is a no-no in the Cuban realm.

Please, if you have any questions ask away in the comment section. And as always, enjoy this dish.


This recipe is common in the Latin cooking world. How do I know this? Well, being married to a Cuban for 27 years is a big plus. The portions can change from region to region and home to home, but the outcome is the same, to space a pot of dry beans. Use this in any pot of beans that require a Latin flavor.

1/2 small-medium onion(give or take and roughly chopped)
1/2 small-medium green pepper(give or take roughly chopped)
1-2 cloves of garlic peeled
Food processor or blender
Small amount of water; set aside
Place all ingredients in the blender/processor except the water. Puree all ingredients. If it is too thick, then slowly add water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. You want it to have some substance, but not thin like pancake batter. Once the sofrito becomes pourable(I made that word up) then you are ready to go. Here is a great tip I have learned over the years. Silly as it may sound when you read it, it has been how a judge a good batch of sofrito.

If you look at your batch and smell it. It should be a nice Kermit the Frog green and smell wickedly like onions. If it is the other way around then you need to make adjustments. It has gotten me through many a great pot of beans.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chocolate Chip Scones

Edit it: Savanah and I wanted to show you our work. Please be kind, our digital camera is older than the Mona Lisa. But trust me when I say these scones were delicious and we would make again in a heartbeat.

OK, I swear River is not paying me to give her a plug. My daughter was the one who wanted to make these. So blame Savanah. With that said, these scones are wonderfully delicious. Not overly sweet, which is right up my alley.

So go visit River and enjoy this dessert.


Add in: The Patty Melt is not toasted bread...duh to me. It is grilled like a grilled cheese sandwich. It was my lovely husband who informed me, since he was the Denny's cook that I ended up marrying.

For those of you who read regularly, I have made the switch to vegetarianism (bows deeply to her adoring fans). But in doing so, I will openly admit to missing some things. And come on girls(And any guys who read and are vegetarians) that there is something you miss form the carnivore world.

Well, I miss hamburgers. Yep, the drippy messy ones that roll down the side of your arm and sometimes makes it all the way to your elbow. But rest assured, I am steadfast and resolute in leaving meat behind. So with that said, I am exposing my daughter to three burgers I was in love with as am omnivore. And here they are for those who may want to try an new style(or old in some cases) of burger. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Circle D Burger

First off, I cannot take credit for this burger. This was a popular burger when I worked at Denny's in the early 80's(Cringes at that number) and I don't remember if it was a grand seller, but I loved it. I would order that thing every shift I worked...morning shifts included. So I hope you ladies(And men) enjoy this burger.

Hamburger buns(Whole wheat preferred)
Burgers of choice(we use Boca Burgers mostly, but will purchase many different ones to try)
Slice of cheese(we use cheddar)
Onions(Grilled, they must be grilled)
BBQ sauce**
Condiments of your own choosing
Cook/grill your burger as you see fit or follow thee instructions. Place the slice of cheese on the burger so you get a good melt. Then start to construct your burger. Add condiments as you see fit. The burger goes on(with cheese) then your grilled onions, and then the BBQ sauce. Place the top bun and have at it.
**Due to the fact that I have given up HFCS, I no longer purchase store bought BBQ. So if any of you ladies have one form your recipe cards, I am all ears.

Burger Italiano

Another burger from my days as a Denny's waitress(which is how I met my husband), but this one is on the simpler side.

1 slice of Sourdough bread(I actually buy the packaged bread for this. Yeah I know, but we all choose our battles, so for a once a year burger...I digress)
Burger of choice
Spaghetti sauce
Slice of mozzarella cheese
Cook your burger, and while doing so toast your bread. You can use left over spaghetti sauce our use jarred, again, your choice. Lay toast on your plate, place burger on toasted bread, then ladle on your heated spaghetti sauce, and top with mozzarella cheese. This is an open faced sandwich but oh so good.

Patty Melt

I know some of you are Ooohing and Ahhhhing. This brings back so many memories, so I hope you enjoy this as much as I have over the years.

2 slices of rye bread(I have made it from scratch but we are out of rye berries, so store bought it is)
Burger of your choice
Grilled onions
American cheese for this one is my choice, but use what works for you
Cook your burger as you see fit with your cheese. Place on toasted rye bread and add the grilled onions and slap on your condiments. This has to be one of my classic favorites.

***As always, vegans do your thing and use your vegan alternatives. And as always, enjoy!!

They Did What?

OK, I will openly admit I am by no means a chocolate fan. All of you ladies please close your mouths now. That is not to say I wont try it, but if I have a slice of cheesecake in front of me and a slice of chocolate cake. I am all over that cheesecake, calories be damned. (Sorry, I usually don't swear)

But I came across a blog recently that has me mortified for all you chocolate lovers. Hershey has decided to eliminate cocoa butter from many of their candies. Read the article here. I read most of the article to my daughter(Who could not live with out her chocolate) and she was austered for sure. How dare her chocolate company do that to her and not send her a personalized letter(An E-mail would have sufficed), but no, she has to hear it via a web-blog I read. The More, The Messier went off on Hershey, and as well she should. How dare they attempt to pull the wool over our eyes. Just read Messier's blog and you will see why she feels like she does. No one likes to be lied to.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Call Me Cheap

Well, please remember that we are a single income family that is stretching a dollar so far to its limit that the Stretch Armstrong company is calling us. So we are learning not to waste in the house and especially in the kitchen. We do not overfill our plates, we cook enough to make for leftovers the next day(Hubby and son take their lunches to work).

But I have discovered a new way to make soup base. But my inspiration came from Cook, Study, and be Crafty but there are times we do not have enough to buy all of the veggies needed to make said soup. Fear not, I am Mrs. Frugal. We(My daughter and myself) are saving our scraps. What I mean is that when we peel off the outer layers of cabbage, we throw it in the freezer style bag and we keep filling it with items that we used to throw away.

Examples of what we used to throw away, but now throw in a freezer bag:
Carrot ends
Celery ends and leaves
Outer cabbage leaves
Peels of carrots when we peel them(Redundant...I know)
Onion skins
Bits of potatoes

Once we have two bags filled, we plan on trying out our little venture. When we do, you all will be the first to hear about it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Three Grain Pancakes

One of my readers tried my oatmeal pancakes and loved them...right River? But wait until you try these puppies. If my husband could eat only one pancake for the rest of his life, it would be these, bar none. So here is for all you lazy Sunday morning brunch eating fools. Once you try these please do not bombard me with a kazillion thank yous, I know already. Enjoy! I know we do!!

2 egg whites**
2T oil
3T honey**
1 cup milk**
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup corn meal
2T baking powder
Combine egg whites(I give the yolk to my dog. I hate waste), oil, honey and milk. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Let batter rest for 5 minutes. (Go set the table) Drop pancake batter onto a hot skillet(We use our huge flat griddle). Cook until bubbles begin to form around edges of each pancake. Flip and cook 1-2 more minutes. Serve hot.

** Vegans, use your substitutes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You Say Potato I Say...

My daughter has experimented recently with roasted veggies. She did a very green version, which consisted of celery, green peppers, carrots, potatoes, and onions. I love all of these vegetables I love...I swear, but not roasted. OK, get this. I did not eat them after I tried them. And this was not even a dish that could be tweaked. As far as I was concerned, it needed to be trashed.

And yet I knew our roasting days were not over. I watch enough Food Network and read enough blogs to know we could prevail. Well tonight was out night. I had bulk cooked black beans yesterday, so all they needed today was whatever spice I so chose, I went Cuban style. My daughter made a improv version of green bean almondine(sp?)...minus the almonds and then there was our roasted vegetables. DUN DUN DUN *Insert hokey TV drama music*

Well, if any of you fellow bloggers ever come for dinner, I am slap up going to serve you roasted vegetables. We nailed. I was helping my daughter some of her online highschool courses and I was also surfing food blogs, and low and behold(I say that a lot don't I) I found a recipe for roasted vegetables. But could I find it at dinner time? NO!. But we winged it, and let me tell you I went for seconds but could not finish them and had to put them back, but as my daughter was putting the vegetables away I snagged a few crispy potatoes, so much for being full.

I feel like River now, but here goes.

5-6 potatoes, roughly chopped but small enough to cook quickly
4 carrots peeled and again, roughly chopped(I did this pretty diagonal thingy)
1 onion quartered(This went in the last 10-15 minutes
Olive oil to coat veggies
Paula Deens House seasoning(1 cup salt, 1/4 cup pepper, 1/4 cup garlic powder) Not all on the veggies at the same time. Use the seasoning at your discretion. I truthfully love the stuff and if I ever meet Paula, I will hug her for that alone.

Cook your veggies in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, remember to put the onion in the last 10-15. Life is good when you eat roasted veggies.

I had them tonight for dinner and you didn't. Nani nani boo boo! *Does the nani nani boo boo dance*

Corn Dogs, Brownies and Salad... Oh My

Well, I have tried to post this at least 4 times, but my main computer does not like Blogger, go figure. So my daughter has let me borrow hers while she takes a break form her online highschool courses(That was tough for her, thanks Savanah). As I am embracing this vegetarian lifestyle, I promised myself I would not fall into the same old routine and make the same boring dishes. In walks the blogging world.

I thought life was grand with just the Internet, but low and behold, we have the blogging world, and man oh man has my recipe book gotten a wee bit fatter. And that is a good thing. My daughter likes having meat analogs handy for that rare emergency occasion that there is nothing to eat(Very rare in this house, since we do not eat out). And we know that those foods are processed. And we also know that if she chooses to stay with meat analogs that she will have to put up with some processed foods. With that said, we are trying to find ways to cut down on processed foods in general and we have found a way to do that. A big round of applause for Wing it Vegan. She has given us some wonderful recipes. We use our dairy where she uses her vegan ingredients, but man, are her dishes fantastic.

Two in particular that are a big hit are These Two. If you have not made these two recipes, then get off your hineys from reading this blog and go make them. Corn dogs and meal is complete. We threw in our Asian Slaw salad and bada boom bada bing, life is grand. I am extremely glad I entered the blogging world, but moreso with this blog. I have learned so much about new and different foods, and the support form fellow vegetarians is unbelievable.

Thank you River and keep the recipes coming!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Asian Cabbage Salad

I am in love, and it ain't my husband. We at this house love cabbage. Fix it any way and it will be eaten. I personally love the core, you all can fight over the rest. Well, if you go to any major grocery store, you will find, usually in the produce section a little twirly thing that holds recipe cards. We look at what we think we will like or the ingredients we have and go for it. My daughter asked me to make thins Asian salad and I had no clue what she was referring to. So she dug up the card that came from I believe Walmart, but do not quote me. This salad was jam up great. Make it and then make it some more. Hope you all liked it as much as we did.

Asian Cabbage Salad

1 head napa cabbage cored and shredded(Thanks for my Rachael Ray knife)
1/2 cup sliced green onions(We used plain old yellow onion)
1 cup shredded or grated carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro(We did not have any)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2T lime juice(We used lemon juice)
1T ginger grated
2T light brown sugar
1T soy sauce(We use tamari)
1T toasted sesame oil
In large bowl, toss cabbage, onions, carrots and cilantro together until evenly mixed.
In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, lime juice, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil.
Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately or chill, covered, until ready to serve.

Wow, did I mention I was in love?!

This Is For You Moo-Moo

My daughter is a major inspiration to me. She may not know she is, but after reading, I am guessing she will find out. I tell her how proud I am of her and that she made such a major decision at 8&1/2 to become a vegetarian. Who does that? She does and did.

On September 1 I took a vegetarian challenge. which I swear I saw on some veggie blog, but for the life of me I do not remember where I saw it. It said something to thee effect to 'Take the Veggie Challenge'. So I did. I wanted to see if I could do the vegetarian lifestyle for one week, and save for a bite or two of steak off my sons plate, that one week has turned into two weeks ans darned if I don't give a rats backside if I eat meat again or not. I truly do not miss it the way I thought I would. I took a few bites off my sons plate, but it did not thrill me like it used to. Do I miss some meats? Darn skippy. when I smell a BBQ from someones backyard, I get a hankerin', but I have done it now, for two weeks. Ad there are some things I have discovered.

I am more tolerable of other peoples long as they respect mine. the minute they dog me about my choices, or throw me the lame tofu's on like Donkey Kong. I don't start attacking you about you eating dead animals, don criticize me for opting not. I am choosing a healthier lifestyle(Notice I did not say diet) and you have the brass ones to come down on me. I am little Miss Muffet, until you cross the line into my world, then we will definitely duke it out.

I cannot thank my daughter enough for setting me in a direction I am all too familiar with, but needed to be kicked in my complacency and find where I know I should be and feel like it is old home week.

We as vegetarians usually do not have to wait for our meat to defrost before we start dinner. throw some rice in the cooker, saute some veggies and that's dinner for me. While you poor carnivores are heating up an oven to cock the meatloaf for an hour. I am done and cleaning my kitchen. I am not on a crusade to convert...if you will all the meat eaters out there. Most people know about vegetarians. And you can see right off the bat if they are genuinely interested or it is their intent to ridicule. I do not have time for those people. they are closed minded and do not deserve my time. I have bigger fish to fry...I made a funny.

So to end this on an up note. Thank you to my wonderful daughter, who I fondly refer to as not ask!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Russian Dressing By Any Other Name

Some know this dressing as Thousand Island. But whatever you know this by I have found a homemade version of this. It is my goal to rid my frig of bottled dressings. I have a great Italian dressing, already on my blog and now I am going to add this one. My daughter and I happened upon this one while watching Ellie Krieger on the Food Network. Now I know the Food Network is not known for making veg friendly dishes and some you just can't cut out all the meat, but this was grand. And for you vegans, you can use your vegan friendly products. See...everyone is happy. So on to the dressing. Make it and enjoy!

Russian Dressing
1/3 cup yogurt(Greek was used by Ellie Krieger)
2T mayo
2T catsup(Yes I spell it that way)
2t white vinegar(We were out so we used rice wine and did fine)
2T chopped gherkins(We used sweet relish and did fine)
Mix all together and serve over any salad of your choice. This has good memories for me, for my mother is a huge fan of Thousand Island dressing and I now feel confident she will enjoy this whenever she visits. Enjoy!

So You're a Vegetarian

Well when I first took my adventure about 15-16 years ago I had no clue what I was doing. And at that time, meat analogs were up and coming but not what they are today. I panicked about what I could and should eat and did not see what I had been cooking for years.

So I lived on boxed macaroni and cheese for days until I figured things out. Now, you have to remember this was before the age of the Internet and looking up new recipes with Orzo, or Wheat Berries was out of the question. You had old cookbooks from your mother and grandmother and then you had to vegetize(I made that word up) them, substitute bacon with Bacos, or dare I say liquid smoke.

I mean think about all the main dishes that were now off limits to me because I was making a choice. OK, so I chose not to eat meatloaf, my choice, I completely get it. So, now I know I can survive on side dishes. I can live with that, or could I? I was born and raised in the South, by Southern women, so bacon drippings was considered a food group in our home. If the dish did not have bacon in it, why bother eating it.

I had my work cut out for me. Now, I was a good vegetarian, asking if there was any meat in dishes when we did go out for dinner. I knew to ask about what the base of the soup was and if those bacon bits were real, but what I did know was the hidden animal by-products. Oh yes, you heard right. There are tons of things that come from animals, and in order for it to get to said product that poor animal had to die.

My first encounter with this little scenario was with gelatin. I had no blessed clue it came from collagen inside animals connective tissue. Correct me if I am wrong, but that animal had to die to get that to us. So out the window Jello went. I had to educate a woman one time, for she told me that it was only an animal by-product. I then informed her that thee animal had to die in order for us to actually get gelatin. I think I made her her...or so I hope I did.

When my daughter was in the school system, she hing out with a little Muslim girl. And during Ramadan this little girl came to school with a list of food items she could not consume, due to the fact that these said items had gelatin in them, and they could not be certain that they did not come from pigs, and pigs being thee main animal that Muslims and Jewish people avoid gelatin. So this little girl avoided them all together just to be safe. My daughter found out that gelatin was in Skittles, one of her then favorites, it has since disappeared from the candies that she eats.

Now, some who are reading this blog find this a bit extreme. I used to feel that way about vegans and raw fooodists. But I am older and hopefully a bit wiser(That is up for debate as far as my children are concerned) and I hope I have become more understanding in my vegetarian community.

So my daughter has taken on the task to eliminate any hidden animal products in the food we eat and any items we may purchase. We gave up liquid fabric softener, due to the fact that it contains tallow, a rendered fat in soaps, candles, and lubricants. Let me just show you a list of things we get form animals that you may not know about, and are hidden in the foods you eat and the products you purchase. You make the choice.

Gelatin (made using meat byproducts)
Lanolin (made from wool)
Rennet (an enzyme found in the stomach of calves, young goats, and lambs that's used in cheese-making)
Honey and beeswax (made by bees) **To me this is still up for debate since no bees actually die in the process, it is what they do naturally**
Silk (made by silkworms)
Shellac (the resinous secretion of the tiny lac insect)
Cochineal (a red dye derived from the cochineal insect)

So there you have it folks... a list of things to look for, and there be more, but that is all I could find for the time being. As I find them, I will post updates and let you all know, thee unsuspecting public, of what is hidden in our food and products.