Sunday, March 28, 2010

Minty Lima Bean Hummus


I got a hankering for some sort of green, minty, spring-like concoction the other day and decided to try some lima bean least that's what I'm calling it...if you prefer, it's just a dip made from lima beans. I wasn't sure how it would turn out; but we liked it. It's bright and refreshing.

If you do a search for it, you'll find lots of different variations...I decided to keep mine plain and simple by blending together the following ingredients:

10 oz bag of frozen baby lima beans, thawed
1 large clove of garlic (it was pretty big, so probably the equivalent of 1.5 or 2 average-sized cloves)
15 - 20 fresh mint leaves (according to taste...this turned out fairly minty)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 organic lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt ( or to taste)
pinch of black pepper to taste
finely chopped fresh chives to garnish

I didn't add any oil to this batch to keep it  lean, but it would be yummy to add a tablespoon or so of olive oil while blending, or to drizzle some over the top at the table.

It made a nice addition to last night's dinner, which was  tofu, chard, and sweet corn "quiche" on a salad of baby greens and watercress.

For the quiche, I made a variation of VeganLovlie's recipe ...thanks Vegan Lovlie! If you haven't checked out her blog, I recommend it...she whips up some great vegan food with very interesting recipes and gorgeous photos. Instead of mushrooms and broccoli, I used chard and added some turmeric and other spices. It's a versatile recipe that would be good any time of day. I'll be packing the leftovers for lunch next week.

I hope everyone has a relaxing Sunday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Garden Beds and Blossoms

I've got my two main planting beds ready for action, and I'm feeling positive about this growing season. Gardening can be full of unexpected challenges and disappointments, but it can also have sweet rewards. Sometimes seeds don't germinate, sometimes bugs or critters eat your veggies before you get to them, and other times you get to harvest nutritious, delicious home grown food. I try not to get too attached to the final outcome and just take things in stride along the way.

I restructured my large bed this year with cinder blocks. I love them; you can plant stuff in the holes around the side. I might put strawberries in some of those spaces.

I'm re-using my wacky potato cage and hoping for a better potato harvest than last year. I've already got the potatoes in...some say it's too early, but I only time will tell.

It took a while, but I've got some peas and favas coming up in one of my side beds. I planted them over a month ago. Even though we had a relatively warm winter and soil temps are warmer than average, it took a while for these guys to break ground because this particular bed is in part shade. Last summer, I had a flower crop here, so this is meant to be my fruit rotation for this space. I planted some favas last fall as a cover crop for this bed, but they froze, so the bed went without over the winter months.

I love this time of year. Spring around here is typically rainy--lovely spring rain. Temperatures are mild, and the air is fresh and filled with the smell of blossoms. I love when the petals fall from the trees and make a snow of petals.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pistachio and Green Chili Kofta in Tomato - Coconut Sauce

We had guests for dinner on Saturday night, so I wanted to whip up something extra tasty. I wasn't feeling particularly inspired in the cooking department on Saturday, so I turned to my cookbooks for a bit of help. I pulled down the Cafe Paradiso Cookbook; I hadn't cracked it in years, and wanted to refresh my memory a bit.

This particular Cafe Paradiso (I'm sure there are many cafes that go by that name) is a well-known vegetarian restaurant in Cork, Ireland. And though I lived in Ireland for several years...sadly, I never ate there. It seemed that on the few occasions that we happened to be in Cork city, we were in omni company that "poo-pooed" the idea. Oh well...there's still time.

The recipes in this book generally lean towards dairy, but all in all, most of them are pretty veganizable. I chose this recipe  because I had  made it once before and knew it was yummy. The recipe calls for yogurt, so I used coconut milk yogurt in place of the dairy kind.

Without disclosing too much, the kofta are a mixture of chickpea flour (aka gram flour) and coconut yogurt (or whatever kind you want to use), with pistachios, chilis (I used jalapeños), and various spices. This makes a wet batter that you shape into balls and deep fry. You could potentially add any combo of nuts, veggies, and spices to the gram flour/yogurt base.

The kofta are the three balls around the outside in the photo:

The tomato-coconut sauce is delicious. It's basically a curried sauce with tomatoes and coconut. The flavors go perfectly with the kofta. The recipe in the book calls for serving this with cardamom-lime pancakes, but I opted for a lentil and bulgher wheat pilaf sort of thing (middle). Turnip greens and fresh tomato garnish the sides. You could use any leafy green in place of the turnip greens...kale or chard would be nice.

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin

Watercress and Avocado Salad

We found this to be a particularly yummy combo: watercress, avocado, apple, red onion, and walnuts. The peppery watercress is delicious with the rich, creamy avocado and the crisp, sweet apple. I didn't want to edge these flavors out with a lot of dressing, so we just drizzled some fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil over the top. Any dressing that suits your fancy would be good.

We had this to go along with a special dinner of pistachio, green chili, and coconut yogurt "kofta", which I'll post about next.

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shelter Duty

So every week, I spend a couple of hours at my local animal shelter volunteering on the "Critter" team. The critter team is so called because we feed and socialize all the animals in the shelter that do not fall into the category of dog or cat.

I love dogs and cats...I love all animals...but the critter team is fun because we get to work with and learn about so many different types of animals...from rabbits and rats, to parakeets and iguanas,  to peacocks, roosters and pigs. We get a wide array of animals through the shelter...of course not all at the same time.

While I was on duty this past week, I took a few snaps to share...

This is Lena, a beautiful young girl, who has already been adopted since this photo was taken (yaay!):

Meet Dex, a very friendly little piggie...

...he runs right out to get pets and scritches...this is unusual for guinea pigs in the shelter, they are usually far more timid. Dex was surrendered by his owners.

And here's a different type of piggie who is currently in the shelter:

Miles is a pot-bellied pig who was surrendered by his owners when they had to move out of their house and couldn't bring him along.  He wasn't too keen on that carrot, but a few minutes later, he was grubbing around and found some earth worms...apparently, he prefers worms to carrots. The shelter is trying to get a place for him at Pigs Peace Sanctuary...fingers crossed for Miles!

UPDATE: Miles ended up going to the BaaHaus Animal Rescue.

This little lady is Doris. She was adopted by one of the other Critter volunteers...yaay for Doris!

Birds get adopted very quickly as a general rule, with the exception of  chickens and roosters. Unfortunately, with the new fad around here of keeping chickens in the city  for their eggs (boo) we get hens and roosters very often. The shelter tries to place any "farm" animals in sanctuaries rather than adopting them out.

Moving on to Roscoe now...a very sweet little ferret, up for adoption with his cage mate, Elizabeth (not in photo). I had never met any ferrets before volunteering here...they are very charming and fun little guys...very playful.  For socialization we bring them out into a special play area, and they have a wonderful time chasing cat toys and being chased around and tickled. They are a lot of fun...and their bodies feel like furry serpents.

This next fellow is a bearded dragon...he's basking under a heat lamp. I don't think he has a name yet. He likes to eat bugs and also a wide variety of fruits and veggies like collard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, squash, blueberries and melon, just to name a few. Not sure where he will go...he's not currently up for adoption.

And this lad and lady (the big one is a female, the little one is a young male) are red slider turtles...they are aquatic:

And finally, meet Harriet:

She is the sweetest, funniest, friendliest little rat you could ever meet. She was found after being abandoned in an apartment building. When she came into the shelter, she had a large tumor under her left front leg. It turned out to be a benign and easy-to-remove tumor. She's had that removed and is recovering in foster care at my place.

Here she is exploring the premises...

Feets close up:

Here she is enjoying a chickpea that she found nestled on her dinner plate. Harriet is vegan too! And just in keeping with the blog...I'll describe Harriet's vegan dinner..she had brown rice, chickpeas, cherry tomato, steamed butternut squash, red leaf lettuce and broccoli sprouts.

OMG, she's's difficult to get a still shot of her because she's always on the move. This photo makes me laugh every time I look at it:

I totally  understand if it doesn't make anyone else laugh...cuz maybe you had to be there :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Pint of Plain

  "When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan,
When hunger grows as your meals are rare -
A pint of plain is your only man."

I've never been terribly inclined towards stout...although I've been known to drink it in a pinch ;)  The husband is inclined though, so as befits the occasion, we opened up a few bottles of Obsidian Stout from the Deschutes Brewing Company in Bend, Oregon. I'm no beer expert, but here a few notes in comparison to one of  its more widely-known counterparts:

Unlike Guinness, this stout is vegan friendly. (full marks!)

Like Guinness, it has a nice flavor (not the same, but nice).

Unlike Guinness, the head is a can I put it?...disappointing. It's watery/bubbly and dissipates quickly. A good pint of stout should have a nice sturdy, creamy, layer on top. Maybe this particular beer would pour out better on draught, but I don't know.

No worries, we enjoyed it just the same...Sláinte!

Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig !

Happy Paddy's Day!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Things I've been eating lately...

I haven't posted in a while...time got away from me somehow. Even today, I didn't figure out the clocks had jumped ahead until about 3 in the afternoon. When I discovered it was really 4:00, I felt cheated out of a precious hour of my weekend. Oh well...

First up is butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and collards cooked in a Thai-inspired coconut broth. Basically, lemon grass, kefir lime, ginger, and chili sauteed in coconut oil with shallots and garlic, then added coconut milk, veggie broth and a bit of tamarind paste and tamari...the veggies were tasty because they absorbed the flavors of the coconut broth as they cooked.

This was another Thai-inspired sort of thing:

It's a salad with green mangos, green beans, watermelon radish, tomatoes and peanuts, dressed with a mixture of tamari and tamarind paste and finished off with a squeeze of fresh lime.

This Yucatan seitan topped with  black bean and corn salsa and served with yellow rice and asparagus was pretty tasty too:

Next up was a fun meal made from layering eggplant slices and lemon-pine nut filling on top of a portobella cap. It's sitting on a bed of sauteed kale and chard with some Italian vegan sausage and sun-dried tomatoes.

I had some lemon-pine nut filling leftover from the eggplant stacks, which I thought might make a good vegan mayo substitute. The lemon-pine nut filling is just pine nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt...I thinned it out with a bit of water and used it to put together some tofu salad for sandwiches:

The tofu salad is my homemade copy cat version of Toby's Jalapeño Lite tofu spread. My version has tofu, lemon-pinenut "mayo", celery, roasted jalapeños, red onion, mustard, cider vinegar, and salt and pepper. I liked this version better because it doesn't taste as "eggy" as the Toby's spread.

And finally, we went to see Billy Connolly live the other night (he was could he not be brilliant?) and before the show we had dinner at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. At first, it was a little disconcerting because all the seitan stuff is listed on the menu as chicken and pork, etc., but it's all 100% veggie protein. The only items that contain eggs are the fortune cookies. The food was pretty tasty. We had veggie fried rice, some lemon "chicken", and fried bean curd sheets over veggies:

lemon "chicken"

bean curd sheets over veggie stir fry

Some of the faux meat stuff looked and tasted pretty real; it gave me a bit of a fright. But we were reassured by both the waiter and the sign by the door that is was all vegan:

Here were our fortunes; I hope they come true:

Ciao for now :)
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