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.