Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lemonade, Tomato Soup, and a Hiatus

I was reading Andrea's Easy Vegan Cooking the other day when she posted about tonic water and some other interesting cocktail-related info,  and it got me in the mood for a cocktail. I don't drink spirits often...maybe 2 or 3 times a year, but every once in a while a tasty drink doesn't go astray. (Thanks, Andrea! :) With that in mind, I spent a very enjoyable Saturday afternoon sipping some Limoncello Lemonade in the garden, harvesting cucumbers and reading.

This is a refreshing drink for those who are so inclined:

Limoncello Lemonade
1 oz citrus-infused vodka
1 oz limoncello
 6 oz lemonade

Simple Food
Inspired by my blog friend, Laloofah, I began reading Simple Food for the Good Life, by Helen Nearing. An intellectual cookbook with plenty of insightful narration and humor, it's  billed on the cover as  "the funniest, crankiest, and most ambivalent cookbook you'll ever read".

(You can read about Laloofah's recent visit to the Nearings' final homesite in Maine, founded in 1952, here. The post includes more detailed information about the Nearings, wise and inspiring quotes from their prolific writings,  and wonderful pics: you can see the continuing legacy of the Nearings' veganic veggie garden! You'll be moved; check it out!)

Helen describes herself as someone who isn't a great cook and couldn't care lessI have a feeling that was a bit of humility on her part. Granted, her recipes are no-nonsense, quick, and basic: food that is meant to nourish the body and not a cook's ego. Yet her cooking was routinely met with accolades from the wind-swept and eclectic people who sat at her table at one time or another. This makes sense: simple food is often the most delicious.

The Nearings were vegetarians...not vegan. But, that scarcely matters. With a few minor substitutions here and there, the few recipes that aren't already, easily become vegan. Couched as they are in the promotion of kind living and harmony with nature, the Nearings' recipes and philosophy of life sing to the vegan soul.

Someday, I hope to live like the Nearings: off-grid, primarily self-sufficient, and reaping the peace of simple living. I'm not averse to physical labor or lean times. These are what turn simple dinners and a humble bed into exquisite pleasures. As far as I'm concerned, along with connecting with nature, friends, and community nothing else is required.

Raw Gold Tomato Soup
(Adapted from Simple Food for the Good Life, by Helen Nearing)

6 ripe gold tomatoes, quartered (or use any variety you like)
1 large green onion, chopped
1 cup diced cucumber
2 cups water
olive oil to taste
fresh herbs/salt/pepper to garnish

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor and garnish with fresh herbs of choice.

We ate this soup right after blending, so it was room temperature, and it was delectable. I ate some of the leftovers chilled and it was also good, but I thought it could use a bit of salt.

I've always loved late summer--harvest season is in full swing, gardens are still in bloom, and fleeting hints of autumn are in the air.

I'm taking a little break from the blog in September to enjoy the remaining summer and focus on some other projects/activities. I'll be looking forward to VeganMofo IV in October...see you then.

Happy September.  :)

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin

Friday, August 20, 2010

Random Stuff

This post isn't about anything in particular--just some random stuff that I've snapped recently.

 Random Garden

I love the vibrant colors of these zinnias.

One of the Anna's Hummingbirds that live in our neighborhood alighted at the feeder to give her wings a rest and have a tipple.

As small as they are, the Anna's Hummingbird is described as medium-sized and stocky in the world of hummingbirds.

I'm definitely growing this variety of zucchini again next year; the variegated skin is pretty.

There are spiders everywhere at the moment; their webs are truly amazing. Be Kind to Spiders!

These garden lanterns are fun and easy to make. I saw a how-to guide in some magazine a few years ago. All you need is empty jars and some wire. You can make them as pretty as you like by using interesting colored/shaped jars, shaping the wire into pretty flourishes, and adding trinkets. Mine aren't  pretty, but they add a nice ambience nonetheless hanging from the branches on a summer evening.

Random Food

Veggie and tofu kebabs marinated in Thai flavors:

The marinade was roughly 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp lime juice, 2 tbsp dark brown sugar,  6 inches worth of lemon grass with tough outer sheaths removed, 2 kaffir lime leaves, 1 smallish piece fresh ginger, 1 large shallot, 1 large garlic clove, hot chili pepper and a dash of sesame oil,  liquified together in a blender.

Thai marinade before blending

Seitan in lemon and caper sauce:

( a bit greeny in hue, but very delicious)

We eat this Vegan Pho on a regular basis. If you like rich aromatic broths, noodles, and garnishes...I recommend you try this.  I've never had traditional Pho, which I gather is not vegan, so can't testify to the authenticity, but whatever you want to call it, it is good.

I describe more about how to put it together in this post.

Random Rats

Hey, that's a catchy title.

I have two rats that I adopted from the animal shelter. Rats are extremely intelligent, social, and sensitive.  My rat friends know their names, have great personalities, and enjoy many different activities. Here's Daffodil (aka Scamp) peeking out of a play tube:

Check out those whiskers:

Some of you may remember Harriet from this post. She's a bit older and wiser now... and better at hoarding treats! She's enjoying a piece of corn on the cob.

And here's some rat action, Harriet is in a blur grooming Daffodil...usually it's the other way around:

Rats are dexterous and the digits on their front paws are nimble, much like human hands. Check out Scamp's cute fingers!

One more random snap:

A heron I saw on my lunch break.

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today's Harvest and Happy 101 Awards!

Parts of my garden have turned out to be a total wash this season--like a nearly non-existent potato harvest, a dismal collection of peas--not to mention peppers, eggplant, and kabocha squash that will probably never reach maturity. On the other hand, it is producing well in other areas, and I've been gathering harvests similar to this one every other day or so.  

I usually just pick stuff as I use it, but with things that need a bit of washing  and de-bugging like lettuce and other greens, I like to harvest a day or two's supply at a time. That way, I can get them washed in one go.

Today I got a presumed 8-ball zucchini (suspiciously very like a small green pumpkin), a cucumber, a bunch of parsley, lettuce, sorrel, arugula, 3 little banana peppers and 1 little hot Bulgarian pepper (see what I mean about the peppers?), 2 strawberries (one for me and one for my hubby, hee-hee) a few yellow beans, carrots, bunching onions, and a head of green cabbage. 

I'm pretty sure I won't see any actual eggplants from my garden this year, but the blossoms are certainly very pretty. This one opened up in the last day or so:

eggplant blossom

And now on to the award! A few days ago, I was honored to be one of the recipients of  the 101 Award from Vic, of The Life. Thanks Vic! In case you haven't yet, definitely check out Vic's blog. I enjoy reading about his travels and adventures, his house projects....not to mention the recipes! He's an ace cook and puts together beautiful food. 

The award consists in listing 10 things that make you happy. So without further ado...

~ Not a Top 10 list, just 10 random things in no particular order~

Swimming in a Lake, River, or Ocean
I'll settle for a swimming pool, but swimming in real water is a consummate pleasure, as is soaking up the sun before and afterwards.  

Fairy Lights, Christmas Carols, and Samba
Ok, I'm being sneaky...that's really 3 things.

Garden Snails
Even though they eat my veggies, they make me smile whenever I come across one.  I love their wobbley eye-stack antennae, and how cute and curious they look as they venture along porting their shell. If I find one in my veggie patch, I just pick him/her up and translocate him to the slug & snail-friendly part of the yard, where they are welcome to eat the dandelions and the primroses. 

I love to play games, climb trees, draw, pretend, sing, bake, do crafts...and  all those things are more fun with kids! Maybe because I am one at heart and always will be... (I hope). The summer after my freshman year at college, I worked as a YMCA camp counselor.  At the end of the summer, there was an awards ceremony where I received the "Biggest Kid in Camp" award. I was delighted because it allowed me to get up in front of all those little campers and say: "See?  I'm a kid too. I'm just bigger than you are! Nah Nah-Nah Na-Nah!"

Fellow Earthlings
Seagulls, lemurs, and donkeys....koalas, dragonflies, and tortoises...raccoons, rabbits, and orcas...so on and so forth.

Sambal Oelek and Golden Greek Peperoncini
It's a tie: when one of these spicy condiments is on my plate, I'm a happy eater.

Enough said.

I have 3 brothers.  Anyone who grew up (old school)  with brothers is probably familiar with the fact that they enjoy doing things like pinning you down and tapping on your forehead with their knuckles until you go insane, pelting you with pine cones, or using you as a target in lawn darts. Who doesn't love that? My brother Peter is all of that and more. He is creative, theatrical, funny, and mischievous...I couldn't begin to count the hours we have spent laughing together...thinking of him makes me happy. 

Leaving Work
We're talkin' bliss in motion, joy, exaltation...all is fine with the world because -- I AM OUTTA THERE!  (And, I get to do it 5 days a week.)

Harriet, Daffodil, Cheeky, Pim, Goldie, Big, and Jazzie
These guys are my non-human family members, and they make me very happy. I think it's mutual (at least I hope so).

Happy 101 Recipients
I'm normally a bit shy about these awards. I've received a couple in the past, but I was too shy to actually forward them. (People who aren't shy may not understand that, but fellow shy people will, I think ;).

However, I'm a gemini, and as such, somewhat volatile in character: I'm not shy all the time! So, I'm going for it.

If I had my druthers, I would award this to every blog that I read, but if I follow the protocol and limit it to 10, I'd like to bestow this award on the bloggers listed below. Some of them are blogs I have been following for a while, and some of them I've gladly come across more recently.

Note To all Recipients: Thank you for your presence in the blogosphere! Receive and enjoy! I'm exercising my award-giver's license here: do with this award what you will: post it & pass it on, post it & don't pass it on, don't post it - don't pass it (you get the idea)...it's all good. Just know that you are truly appreciated, and that the blogosphere is a funner place with you in it.

~In no particular order~

Mehitable Days: Laloofah's wittisicms, thoughtful observations, and beautiful photography, along with a healthy dose of fun, make for blog reading that is a true escape from the daily grind.

Shenandoah Vegan: SV's jocular humor coupled with a showcase of her daily eats make for a delightful forum on everyday veganism...not to mention magical, never-ending cakes!

Dirty Duck: Michelle's adventures are charming and full of animal love and interest: from swimming with the loveable Lilly to far out Soap Nuts...it's always good fun. 

The Airy Way: Zoa's beautiful food and photos provide an ongoing feast for the eyes and the appetite. Her culinary skill and creativity result in a breath of fresh inspiration with every post.

Andrea's Easy Vegan Cooking: Andrea's blog has it all: gorgeous-looking food and recipes (including exciting previews of tester  recipes), updates on fun activities with family and friends, news of vegan-friendly products and other issues. It's always a pleasure to sit down and have a read about what she's been up to in the kitchen and beyond.

Blessed Vegan Life: BlessedMama whips up delicious family fare and shares enticing recipes that feed five hungry vegans, which is no small feat! She'll make you miss having your mom cook for you.  Adorable photos of her kids are an added bonus!

Shorty Can Burn: Stacy's blog features consistently mouth-watering meals from everyday favorites to exotic cuisine, often including gorgeous produce from her garden and a much-welcomed whimsy, especially in the form of cute bric-a-brac figurines.

Coffee and Sunshine: Carissa's blog exudes a freshness and love for life with healthy food and recipes, adorable photos of her animal companions, and news from her very own animal rescue. Good luck and best wishes to her in her upcoming move to Nebraska.

Veggie Cookie: Jessica chronicles her delicious adventures in the kitchen and other interesting aspects of living vegan in Cincinnati in a friendly and personable manner. Get ready to get inspired and hungry when you read her blog.

Vegan and So Forth: Nearly a life-long vegan, Jenny shares food, recipes, and family adventures...you can almost feel the fun through the photos of her family enjoying well-crafted vegan food and good times. She even makes Scooby Snacks people!

Ciao for now! :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Potato, Cauliflower & Fava Bean Samosas with Spicy Chickpeas

whole wheat, potato-cauliflower-fava samosas w/ chutney and curried chickpeas

ADHOC Correction: The dish is called Samosa Chaat! Thanks Anu!

I've been thinking about this meal ever since I had something similar at restaurant about a week and a half ago while on a work outing.  The dish was called Samosa Chaat, and it consisted of samosas covered in spicy chickpeas and garnished with coriander sauce,  chopped onion, and tomato.

One of my work colleagues explained that the curried chickpeas are called chole, and are often served with fried bread, such as bhatura or pooris. But when the chickpeas are topped with fresh onion and tomato and served with samosas, it becomes a 'chaat'.  She explained that this type of dish is typical street food. I'm not sure whether it's specific to a certain region (I'll have to ask her tomorrow, now that I think of it.)  At any rate, the restaurant we were at, as most around here tend to, focuses on cuisine from northern regions of India.

potato, cauliflower, fava bean filling

Here's my version of Samosa Chaat:

Potato-Cauliflower-Fava Samosa Filling 
(Enough for 8 good-sized samosas with some leftover)

2-3 medium potatoes, quartered (if they are organic, I don't bother peeling them)
1/2 head cauliflower, divided into chunks
1 cup fava beans (blanched & deskinned) or peas
1 tablespoon olive oil (or whatever you like to saute with)
1 medium onion, diced fine
1 hot chili pepper of choice, diced fine (or to taste) (I used a Thai green chili)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped (or try green coriander seed)
salt to taste
generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice to taste

Boil the  potatoes and cauliflower until tender.  While these are boiling,  saute the onions until they begin to aromatize, add in the ginger, chili, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala and continue to saute for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

When the potatoes and cauliflower are tender, drain and mash. (I usually leave a little bit of the cooking water in to incorporate as liquid for the mash.) Stir in the onion/spice mixture, favas/peas, and the fresh cilantro. Add salt and fresh lemon juice to taste.

Now, for the dough...I'm not saying this is authentic or anything, but this is how I put it together. 

Whole Wheat Samosa Dough
(Enough for 8 samosas)

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
~ 1/4 cup olive oil (scant)
1/4 - 1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add in the oil slowly and combine with flour until it turns into a coarse bread crumb-like texture. Add water in a little at a time just until the dough comes together and you can form a ball.

On a floured surface, divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll each portion into an 8" oblong piece. Cut the dough lengthwise and dollop a couple of generous tablespoons of the filling in the center. Fold each half of the dough in towards the center:

Form a seal by crimping the edges with your fingers or fork, etc.

It's traditional to fry samosas, but in attempt to make these a little less caloric (it is swimsuit season afterall) I baked them instead. They would be super delicious fried as you may imagine.

Because, I was baking them, I brushed them with a little soy milk beforehand...it just makes for a nicer finish on the crust. They baked at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes.

The chickpeas are next. Any type of curried thing I make usually turns out ok...but not deliciously tasty like authentic curries. Learning how to make authentic Indian curries and other dishes is something that I really want to work on. I'm hoping that maybe my work colleague will help me out with that.

I'm sort of abashed that my co-worker might be reading this...I'm sure it's nothing like the real deal...but here's what I did with the chickpeas:

Spicy Chickpeas

2 cups cooked chickpeas
1.5 cups strained tomato passata (or use chopped fresh ones)
1-2  cups water (depending on desired consistency)
1 medium  onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hot green chili pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Earth Balance
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste
fresh cilantro and red onion to garnish

Saute the onion, garlic, and chili pepper until it becomes a little tender, add in all spices and saute for another few minutes. Add the tomatoes, water, and chickpeas and allow to simmer for 30 - 40 minutes, or until the desired consistency is reached. Add salt to taste.  Garnish with cilantro and chopped red onion.

This meal was devoured with some peach and apple chutney and a tomato and cucumber salad. Samosa chaat gets a big thumbs up in my book.

Roseann LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Breaded Tofu with Horseradish & Green Coriander Seeds

green coriander seed

All you coriander/cilantro growers out there probably already know this, but just in case you don't: when your cilantro (aka coriander) starts to bolt, let it. That way, you can harvest the seeds...and they are especially tasty while still green. Of course, you can let them dry out and turn brown, but definitely try some of the green ones too. Whereas you can buy whole coriander seed (dry/brown variety) in most any super market...getting a hold of these green gems is really only the privilege of those who grow it themselves.

The green seeds have a bright and citrus-like flavor, reminiscent of cucumber and lemons.  They go great in salad dressings, marinades, or just sprinkled over your favorite dish. With that in mind, I threw together this quick sauce:

Cashew Cream with Horseradish and Green Coriander Seed

1/2 cup cashew cream (I made mine on the fluid/less thick side)
1 tablespoon prepared (vegan) horseradish (or adjust to taste) ( I like Bubbies brand)
2 tablespoons green coriander seed, roughly crushed with the flat side of a knife (or adjust to taste)

If you don't have any green coriander seed, capers and lemon zest would be good too (or just fresh coriander leaves of course).

Note: the cashew cream recipe I linked to above mentions something like "if you don't have  a Vita Mix you'll have to sieve the cashew cream to get a smooth consistency"... this is false. I don't have a Vita Mix; I just let it blend for several minutes in my food processor--eventually you'll get a lovely smooth texture.

cashew cream with horseradish and green coriander

The sauce has a mild horseradish flavor, brightened by the citrusy coriander seed. It went well with some  oven-baked, breaded tofu.

For the tofu, I began by marinating it in lemon juice, white wine, and garlic.  For better absorption potential, I used frozen tofu, defrosted and pressed to remove the excess liquid. I used a biscuit cutter to make little rounds (tofu circles are fun!): 

marinating tofu rounds 

After letting it marinate for several hours, I breaded it and let it bake in a 375 (F) oven until it was toasty brown. 

Bread Crumb Mixture
mix of sprouted grain (Genesis Bread) and panko bread crumbs
Old Bay Seasoning to taste
dulse flakes to taste
chili powder to taste

We had them on a bed of lightly sauteed chard with some rice/legume pilau and some salad from the garden:

tofu "scallops" with horseradish-coriander cream,  chard,  and rice/legume pilau

You can't really see the chard in the photo, because it's hidden underneath the tofu. The rice mixture (I'm not sure whether it qualifies as a "pilau") is a mix of brown and wild rice with lentils and spilt peas: 

rice/legume mix

It cooks up in the same amount of time as regular brown rice--I usually cook it in veggie broth with some diced onion and it turns out pretty tasty.

This was a consoling dinner on a Sunday evening; it was fun to make so it helped take my mind off of Monday, which is  looming it's big ugly head. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...