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Vegan Month of Food

Is coming to my blog in November! I’m so excited to participate for my third year. I’ve been a vegan since high school – I wanted to do something for the planet, later after two of my grandparents died of cardiovascular disease, I knew I was also eating vegan for my health.

I’m considering the prompts and also have a tendency to crave vegan mac and cheese but make a different version eery time- always noodles witha “creamy” sauce. I’m considering a month of experiments in vegan mac and cheese evolving  from more traditional elbows with bright orange colored sauce to shells with a white “cheddar” like sauce to the vast shape world of pasta combined with creamy craving satisfying sauces based on chickpeas, cashews, pumpkin etc…

Let me know what you think in comments below. Would you like to see a month of mac and non dairy cheese?

  

Footnote: In keeping up with the memes- my Vegan MoFo blog will be Mac and “Gary” aka (vegan cheese).

I recently attended a BLT party and brought along my own vegan bacon like strips. Who are we kidding? It tastes nothing like bacon. 

Nevertheless, I do love the three ingredient sandwich: especially when it is served with Gayle’s local bakery sourdough bread, red oak leaf, butter and Romain lettuce varieties and seven different kinds of farmer’s market heirloom tomatoes.

  
Heirloom Tomatoes, photo by Daniella Woolf.

I got lucky after the party and came home with leftover tomatoes. Kim says, “Daniella invites fifteen, but prepares food for fifty.” I am the same; I like to feed people and send them home with leftovers. 

I ate a few more three ingredient sandwiches until the ingredients dwindled from two to one. I still had lots of tomatoes. Then, a friend plucked some wide purple blue kale and I knew what to do with the remaining tomatoes. I pulled out walnuts, kale, the delicious tomatoes and linguine. 

Roasting a 3/4 cup of finely chopped walnuts in olive oil to release their aroma, I mixed in 3 Tablespoons of Stonehouse Farms Napa Valley Blend spices, and about two cups diced tomatoes. Sautéing them briefly, I added about 16 ounces of my favorite marinara sauce: Mezzetta Italian Plum Tomato flavor. While the salted pasta water was coming to a boil, I deveined the kale and cut it chiffonade style, into ribbons. Then a quick blanch, tossed with balsamic vinegar and truffle olive oil, I had a healthy colorful addition to my pasta. 

  
I cooked the linguine al dente and tossed it together with the kale. From my garden, I picked fresh basil, thyme and Italian flat leaf parsley, to mince and fold in at the end.

Buon appetito!

  

Thanks to Laura Brown at Two Writing Teachers for inviting me to participate in the Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge. Since this is a food blog I will try to keep it on topic. 

But I need to start with teeth.

I’ve always been very conscious of teeth. My teeth, my mom’s teeth, other people’s teeth. Disclosing tablets were a thing in my family growing up: little red tablets that dissolve when you chew them and highlight the plaque on your teeth. 

After chewing the iron tasting pill, I would then proceed to brush as much of the disclosing tablet color (think red-pink) and plaque off my teeth, but the final check came from mom. It didn’t matter that I brushed my teeth for the full two minute egg timer, where the sand in the hourglass trickled down as I brushed, mom would always come in for a second look. Which usually involved her brushing more vigorously on my back teeth and reminding me how important it was to get all the plaque off everywhere.

“Oh-aye! I ot ieth!” I would say: because, in my house, toothbrush-in-the-mouth is my mom’s second language. She would hand me back my Big Bird tooth brush because I said, “Okay! I got it!”

As I got older, I made my own lunch; “Okay, I got it!”

Mom has always been a certifiable health nut. Much to my smooth peanut butter loving spouse’s chagrin, I learned to pour all the separated oil off the top of any natural peanut butter jar, (“What happened to the peanut butter? It’s so dry!?”) and then I’d use only a very thin spread of jam on whole wheat bread with hard crunchy wheatberries. I picked the berries out like most kids pull off crusts. I always packed carrots or apples, and swished with water to get the food out of my teeth after eating. This dental hygiene routine was difficult since four spigot water choices at the playground, included terrible choices for dental health. 

The power of kid imagination designated the following flavor choices: coffee, tea, soda pop, or pee. The trouble was the selection could be listed either from left to right, or right to left. So the middle two fountains received all the use. We were “safe” with either soda pop or tea. Our teeth would not have been.

When my little brother, Leif turned two years old, he learned how to turn the doorknob to downstairs. He proceeded to fall to the bottom of the wooden staircase arriving at the downstairs door to mom’s bedroom in a heap. He screamed and his screams echoed up the stairwell, out the half door. We both came running. Mom and I crouched down beside him. He looked a mess and howled even worse. Snot coming out of his nose and blood all over his face. Mom ran him up to the kitchen sink, and inspected his face. She turned to me, “He lost his tooth. Go get his tooth.”

I ran downstairs hearing my brother’s cries and searched the floor for a baby tooth that had fallen out. I couldn’t find anything except a long white thing. That couldn’t be a tooth could it? I brought it upstairs,”I couldn’t find his tooth, but I found this.” 

“That’s it!” she said, grabbed it and shoved it into my brother’s open mouth before he could blink.

Apparently a tooth can reattach if found quickly, unwashed and reinserted. It turns out, the long tapering thing, that was the root. The baby tooth reattached, yet remained a dull grey until it fell out naturally. At least he could bite his food and chew.

“He has gum disease and needs to floss,” mom once said of a guy who wanted to date me. I notice teeth now too, coffee and tea stains, cavities from too much soda pop. My brother became an orthodontist and he sees overbites and underbites, crossbites and veneers. 

I got used to the crunch of wheatberries in bread. I still try to pour off the oil, but my spouse usually gets to the jar of peanut butter first, and stirs it in. I spread jam thin and am grateful to have healthy teeth. For eating. See? I brought it back to food.

German Apple Cake

  Cake ingredients:

3 apples, cored and sliced

1/2 cup Earth Balance non dairy butter

1/4 cup liquid sweetening: like agave, brown rice syrup or honey

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce 

2 Tablespoons non dairy milk

1 cup unbleached flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 

1/4 teaspoon each: ground ginger, cinnamon and coriander 

Topping ingredients:

1/4 cup liquid sweetening: like agave, brown rice syrup or honey

Zest and juice from one small orange

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 cup toasted pecans or slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grease a 9 inch springform pan

Cook the apple slices briefly in a little water till soft, but not mushy.

Cream together butter and honey, add applesauce and milk. Add flour and baking powder, stir until just combined.

Using a spatula, spread the batter in the pan, arrange the slices around the top of the cake, drizzle with blended topping.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool 15 minutes before removing from the cake pan.

Serve with cashew cream. 

 

Good cocoa matters, this recipe calls for Dutch cocoa which I first discovered in France. Whisk together:

1/4 cup Droste cocoa powder

8 ounces vegan cream cheese 

1 orange worth of juice and grated orange zest 

1/8-1/4 cup of liquid sweetening, raw agave or honey 

Spread chilled frosting on cooled cake or cupcakes.  

 Top with minced cacao nibs.

Mom and her sister are here, both from warmer climates, muttering about how cold it is here in Northern California. “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Fransisco,” Mark Twain said of our weather too, so they are in good company. 

I root around in the pantry for something to satisfy mom’s request for a “hot breakfast cereal is too cold do you have any oatmeal?” She says without stopping as I turn over the Bob’s Red Mill cornmeal package I’ve pulled from beside the flours.

Mom is mostly gluten free, so I say, “Muffins?”

“Oh, good then we can turn on the oven…”

“…and the heater when everyone is upstairs, otherwise we cook them.” Even though heat rises, our house has two climates: upstairs frozen tundra and downstairs scorching desert.

I’m scanning the ingredients and making mental calculations; eggs, yogurt, brown sugar, soy flour, how can I replace those? Mom is off soy too, at the moment. I have a plan. Not gluten free, but warm and very tasty served with nut butter or jam.

I bake as an experiment, using the recipe as “guidelines,” for quantities of liquid, sweetening and binders to replace eggs. Sometimes it works, oftentimes not so much. Today it did.

  I give you Outrageous Apricot Muffins thanks to the thermostat and my oddly stocked pantry. Fortunately, I doubled the recipe so it makes 2 dozen muffins. We finished the first dozen this morning.

Dry ingredients- combine well in a large bowl.

2/3 cup medium grind organic cornmeal 

2/3 cup garbanzo flour (replacing soy flour)

1/2 cup toasted wheatgerm 

1 cup organic whole wheat flour 

1 cup organic white flour 

1 cup ground raw hazelnuts (pulse chop in blender or Cuisinart)

1 cup ground raw pecans

1 cup organic raisins

1 package (about 1 cup) Trader Joe’s frozen semi dried apricots, chopped roughly into 1-3 centimeter pieces 

2 teaspoons of baking soda 

Liquid ingredients- mix together in a quart sized measuring cup or bowl.

1 cup vanilla almond milk (I like Trader Joe’s refrigerated brand)

1 small container of coconut vanilla non dairy yogurt (about 1 cup)

1 cup of honey or agave

2/3 cup of canola oil

Juice and grated zest from one large orange

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

2 tablespoons chia seeds (to replace the egg, you can also use the same quantity of ground flaxseed)

1/2 cup unsweetened organic applesauce 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

Gently combine wet and dry ingredients, fill paper lined muffin tins with a generous 1/2 cup of batter. Bake in a preheated 350degree F oven for 25 minutes. An inserted toothpick should come out clean.

  

Okay, it is not always easy to eat kale; even though the health benefits abound. The other day I bumped up the nutritional content of my go to enchiladas with kale and butternut squash. It was delicious. I felt a bit like my friend who purées vegetables for her kids soup so they don’t know it contains vegetables. 

Butternut shredded looks like cheddar!  
I don’t have time to heat and soften the tortillas, roll each individual enchilada; so I just layer the tortillas like lasagna.

  
With the kale, butternut, beans, corn, peppers and nopales…