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Archive for the ‘Food Stories’ Category

What would Georgia O’Keefe eat if she were vegan?

Squash blossoms fresh from the garden, in morning sun.

Squash blossoms fresh from the garden, competing with the morning sun.

I just picked some beautiful squash blossoms from my yard today. I think stuffed squash blossoms would be the perfect thing for the artist who painted the hearts of flowers. I will also be including other edible flowers and what to do with them today. After I prep the blossoms.

The veggie box had turnips with the tops today so I am amending my stuffed blossoms (easy to stuff with daiya cheese and rice with herbs) to sauteed turnip greens with squash blossoms and soy mozzarella cheese. The turnips reminded me of the weathered cow skull bones O’Keefe painted, by preparing their lively locks I let the vegetables live on a little longer in my fridge.

Turnip tops and squash blossoms.

Turnip tops and squash blossoms.

A note about edible flowers- do not use flowers from a florist, these tend to have high concentrations of pesticides.

Other edible flowers include:

Blue borage flowers- these tiny mildly cucumber flavored star shaped blossoms freeze wonderfully in ice cubes or spark up a salad.

Red, orange and yellow nasturtiums add spice to salads (I have used both whole flowers and just petals, the leaves are edible too but have quite a kick).

Violet and white violets add beauty to salads and can also be candied without egg white, for a Victorian era treat.

Pink and white fuzzy guava petals have a light sweetness, I have never been able to do more with them than eat them straight from the plant.

Pink and lavender colored chive blossoms impart a lovely onion-like flavor to salads.

Sunflower, chamomile, pansy and rose petals can add bright yellows, purples, reds, and oranges to salads.

Chamomile, dried hibiscus flowers and rose hips also make wonderful tea.

Rosemary has tiny blue flowers which can also be used to impart a more subtle flavor or for garnish on a rosemary inspired dish.

O'Keefe's sly smile with southwestern clouds as captured by Ansel Adams.

O’Keefe’s sly smile with southwestern clouds as captured by Ansel Adams.

Have a colorful day.

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Equinox eats.

My brother’s birthday cake, because today is his birthday and he is a libra on the cusp and because I love him.

For my brother, Leif.

For my brother, Leif.

Surprise Cake

3 cups Rice Crispies

1 cup vegan marshmallows

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/2 cup organic crunchy peanut butter

16 ounces of vegan chocolate frosting

Melt the butter and marshmallows and peanut butter in a deep soup pot. Add the Rice Crispies folding them in until they are coated with the mixture. Press the “dough” into a round or square cake pan with a wooden spoon or plastic wrap under your hand. Cool until firm. Frost and surprise your guests with a solid cake that can be held in one hand.

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Make a dish using all seasonal produce.

This seems too easy. I have a weekly CSA veggie box that contains seasonal produce. Last night we made vegan quesadillas, with seared sweet potatoes, organic carrots, heirloom tomatoes and strawberries.

Vegan quesadilla, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries and carrots.

Vegan quesadilla, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries and carrots.

I also made roasted carrot and onion soup.

Roasted multicolored carrot soup.

Roasted multicolored carrot soup.

Roasted Carrot and Onion Soup

3-4 cups diced carrots (about 10 medium sized carrots)

2-3 cups diced onions (I had one very large onion)

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil for baking

1-2 cups of filtered water, or stock (if using stock, omit bouillon)

1 vegan bouillon cube

smoked paprika and chives or minced parsley for garnish

Slow roast diced fresh organic carrots and onions in a 350 degree F oven on a large baking sheet. I used a combination of yellow and orange carrots from my CSA box. When the carrots and onions have softened and started to turn golden brown, remove from the oven, combine with 1-2 cups of filtered water, and bouillon in a high powered blender. Puree for 1-3 minutes until smooth. Reheat on a low simmer for 10-20 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of oil, a dash of smoked paprika and chives or minced parsley.

I also have this beet. I will make something for an army with that.

This from my CSA box. I think they grew a bowling ball.

This from my CSA box. I think they grew a bowling ball.

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Lunch on the go.

I ran out of the house to go surfing this morning with an apple, a cinnamon roll with vegan cream cheese, a banana and some water. That was as inspiring as I could get, since there was a whale circling off the coast.

Here are some other snacks I keep within reach, so that when I have to dash my blood sugar doesn’t drop dramatically:

  • fruits that are portable like apples, bananas, oranges
  • cut up veggies like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower
  • peanut butter or hummus (sometimes these are sold in small packets or they fit perfect in a tiny Tupperware)
  • crackers such as Stoned Wheat Crackers, Rice Crackers, Woven Wheat Crackers
  • water in a reusable bottle, also good for juice or nut milks
  • nuts a handful of almonds, peanuts, cashews
  • fruit leather or dried fruits such as apricots, cherries, apples, persimmons
Dried persimmon

Dried persimmon

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Childhood favorite. The German Pancake or Dutch Baby.

Loaded with eggs, I thought to myself, how the heck do I make this vegan? Here is the original egg and dairy filled recipe by Food Wishes: Dutch Baby.

I searched for someone who had made this childhood favorite vegan: many look quite tasty though they are not quite it, I included the links because I appreciate their efforts. The Vegan Hausfrau for German Apple Pancakes. The Vegan Fling has a recipe for Pancake Puffs that sounded close, but not quite. The Veggie Nook has a German Chocolate Pancake that is more like vegan German Chocolate Cake. Also, not it. Go Dairy Free has a recipe that is gluten-free for Dutch Baby Love.

I am still looking and experimenting, to recreate this childhood favorite:

The 425 degree F oven, the black cast iron pan, the batter sizzling in oil, my little brother and I with our faces pressed to the oven window watching it bubble and lurch like something out of Yellowstone National Park. Then the crisp golden bubbles, pulled from the oven for a squeeze and sizzle of lemon juice and then dusted with powdered sugar before we devoured the love my mother made for us.

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The hill town of Motovun in Croatia.

Dobar dan, hello and welcome to the Istrian penninsula of Hrvatska (Croatia) where they make a traditional hand rolled pasta called, pljukanci. Often served with green beans and ham, this version uses truffle salt, crimini mushrooms and green beans. If you want the flavor of salty ham, try some vegan bacon.

This summer, I traveled to both Croatia and Slovenia and enjoyed amazing vegan food! In Istria, I loved the hand rolled pasta with shaved truffles. Today, I attempt to recreate the dish.

Slovenian salt

Slovenian finishing salt

Pljukanci

1 1/2 cups of organic bread flour (regular white flour will also work, the bread flour has a higher gluten and protein content)

1/2 cup of organic whole wheat flour

1 cup hot water

2 Tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon truffle salt (or other flavored salt)

Mix the flours and salt together, make a well in the flour on a large cutting board surface. Add the olive oil to the well and mix together with fingers by pinching. Gradually add the hot water to the well, continuing to add flour and water with fingers. You may not need all the water, you want the flour to be moist enough to kneed gently without falling apart or sticking to the cutting board. Kneed for 3-5 minutes until the dough is well combined and takes on a silky feel and texture.

Pulling small pieces off the dough ball, roll these into 1-2 inch noodles with tapered ends. They will look very similar to mini green beans. Set the rolled noodles on a lightly floured cookie sheet, sprinkle with flour to prevent them from sticking together, let rest for about an hour.

handmade pasta

Pljukanci, hand rolled pasta, an Istrian peninsula specialty.

I had plenty of noodles for two and a ball of dough left over, so I decided to make some ravioli pockets by rolling out the dough and cutting it into about 1 inch squares. I filled each with a 1/4 teaspoon of the truffles from Croatia and moistened the edges with water. The ravioli is done when it floats to the top of the boiling water.

The noodles will cook in boiling water in about 5-10 minutes. These noodles will be served with the tartufata I brought back from Motovun, a hill town in Croatia. Another option is to serve with lightly steamed green beans, non-dairy butter and vegan bacon slices. Drizzle with truffle flavored oil.

Hvala! Thanks and enjoy this Istarski specijaliteti: pljukanci!

delicious truffle mushroom paste from Croatia.

Delicious truffle mushroom paste from Croatia.

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What’s your favorite late summer food?

Kabocha squash, squashed, souped, sliced. Hands down.

green pumpkin

Step one, select your pumpkin.

When I first encountered this squash, it was a volunteer in the garden of the house I was renting from a Japanese family. Volunteer plants set seeds from previous years and what they grow up into is anyone’s guess. It helps to guess right. For the first part of summer, I thought I had a round zucchini-like summer squash. I picked hundreds of them 2-3 inches in diameter and gave them away to friends. They looked just like Roly Poly or Orbit varieties. It wasn’t until I left one on the counter too long, that the skin began to firm up and the flesh inside turned a deep orange color.

green pumpkins

Step 2 Slice it in half with a sharp knife.

One of the ways to tell a winter squash is ripe and ready to harvest, I learned later, is to try to pierce the skin with a fingernail. If it leaves a crescent, it isn’t ready. Once the skin is firm enough to resist your scratches, it is ready. The seeds of this squash are delicious roasted and salted in the oven, just like other varieties of pumpkin seeds.

green pumpkins

Remove the seeds with a wide metal spoon, reserve for toasting.

I love this squash slow roasted in the oven, face down in about an inch of water. It also purees into a delicious soup spiced with curry or ginger. Tonight, I sliced it into crescents, simmered in some Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger broth and served it with some handmade rosemary linguini from the farmers market.

green pumpkin

Simmer covered until the squash is tender.

Some remaining tomatoes from our CSA veggie box combined with fresh basil and lemon thyme from the garden, rounded up the store bought sauce.

green pumpkins

Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a dash of smoked paprika.

Of course, we had homemade vegan ice cream for dessert, thanks to a generous birthday gift from my in-laws. Pecan cacao nib chocolate in the making.

non-dairy ice cream

Is it done yet?

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