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Posts Tagged ‘#VGNMF2015’

Vegan road trip.

Every day is a vegan road trip- I usually have Justin’s peanut butter packets, some apples, nuts or dried fruit and, if I am lucky, a pomegranate Izze soda rolling around under the seat.

Vegan Strawberry Shortcake

Vegan Strawberry Shortcake

I have gone glamping and made vegan chili, vegan tofu kabobs, my version of Strawberry Shortcake is biscuits with strawberries and cashew cream, I have brought fancy salads with hearts of palm or sun dried tomatoes, or fancy olives. I am partial to vegan eggless tofu salad sandwiches with cornichons. (Spell check suggests I change the tiny pickles to unicorns).

I think good music, a car full of friends, pillows, sun shades, stops at cool vegan eats, photos, laughter and fun make a vegan road trip delicious. Tire changing know how comes in handy.

Salad with French olives and hearts of palm.

Salad with French olives and hearts of palm.

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Burritos or Tacos? Where do you stand on this important issue?

What about the Tostada?

I love a good burrito. I cannot claim to have eaten a burrito a day as my friend, Joe, did throughout graduate school. I can claim to satisfy huge burrito cravings after long mountain bike rides. Fortunately, my mountain bike buddy, Erick also loves a good burrito, albeit a bit hotter and more omnivorous.

What works what doesn’t (my rankings for the burrito joints both sides of the Santa Cruz Mountains)

  1. Andale in Los Gatos has a delicious veggie burrito with a scrumptious side salad.
  2. Planet Fresh has so many options: wet burritos, brown rice, whole wheat tortillas, etc. in Santa Cruz
  3. Una Mas in Campbell has a nice variety of fresh salsas and a well stuffed burrito.
  4. Los Gallos in Scotts Valley has grilled serrano peppers and horchata and jamaica very traditional.
  5. We do not like Taqueria Vallarta at all, and will take Chipotle instead.

That’s it. Our burrito picks for our place.

My mom always orders a tostada on a steamed corn tortilla with beans, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, rice and avocado.

This is the healthiest option. Plenty of greens, low fat and packed with flavor- after she pours the table salsa over her entire salad.

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Favorite herb or spice?

Fresh Cuban oregano. I received a pinch of a plant from a nurseryman, who swore by it. Since then I have propagated pinches for friend and family members. More succulent than Italian oregano, Cuban oregano is pungent, and the leaves and stem can be minced into dishes for an oregano power punch.

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It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients you have? This is September in California, it is 90 degrees outside. I assume much of the US is snowed in and stuck with the ingredients on hand, without a farmers market or garden vegetable in sight.

White Bean Soup with kale, dried mushrooms, carrots and squash blossoms.

White Bean Soup with kale, turnips, dried mushrooms, carrots and squash blossoms.

Okay, I’ll play. I cooked up some white beans I grew in my garden last season: Hutterite soup beans (bush beans) an heirloom variety from Seed Savers Exchange. I added kale and carrots, onions, garlic and thyme, bay leaf and a vegan herb bouillon cube. Crock pot soup to the rescue.

Apples from a friend's tree

Apples from a friend’s tree

Then I cut up the late season apples, peeled them and made homemade applesauce.

Two variations on homemade applesauce:

Tart Cherry Applesauce

Peel and core 10-15 small apples, dice into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cinnamon stick

1 pinch of ground nutmeg

1 cup of water/ or apple juice

1/4 cup dried cherries cut into chocolate chip sized pieces

1 lemon’s worth of juice (I used a frozen lemon juice ice cube from the summer squeeze)

Simmer the apples, spices, cherries and lemon juice about 15-20 minutes. Mash with a potato masher or ricer. I like slightly chunky sauce. Sweeten to taste.

homemade applesauce with tart cherries

homemade applesauce with tart cherries

Turkish Apricot Applesauce

Peel and core 10-15 small apples, dice into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cinnamon stick

1 pinch of ground cinnamon

1 cup of water/ or apple juice

1/4 cup dried unsulfured Turkish apricots cut into thin 1/8 inch strips

1 lemon’s worth of juice (I used a frozen lemon juice ice cube from the summer squeeze)

Simmer the apples, spices, apricots and lemon juice about 15-20 minutes. Mash with a potato masher or ricer. I like slightly chunky sauce. Sweeten to taste.

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Share your favorite cuisine.

The latest MoFo challenge has me flipping through cookbooks and pining for 35 thin, spiral bound Time Life International Cookbooks my mother received as a wedding gift. Because of the beautiful photographs, I judged these books by their covers: the white and green French fondant chicken, the sunshine seafood paella from Spain, the minimalist Japanese bento box. Occasionally, I peeked into the books for techniques and flavors to veganize a meat based recipe. Eventually, the books went the way of the other things that disappear with a big move.

Author, Barbara Kingsolver says America has “no apparent food culture” save Mc Donalds and Thanksgiving, but I think the embrace-every-food-culture-sheltered-on-our-shores sums us up. Recently Africa and Slovenia and Croatia come to mind as under-represented food flavor cuisines. Africa for the peanuty spicy, oven baked bread, all hands in one dish sharing generosity; and Slovenia and Croatia for the fresh from the garden, savory soups, decadent desserts and handmade pastas.

I am also thinking a lot about refugees. When I was in school, reading Cry the Beloved CountryStill Life with Rice and The Kite Runner, I learned about the violence between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes in Rwanda from a man who had witnessed the refugee camps first hand: the orphans and the widows, the suffering and diaspora. I remember his frustration that the horrors were mostly unknown to people in the United States. I remember feeling quite callous and uninformed about the whole thing myself. He made a Rwandan dinner and told me the story. A dish from his childhood, made vegan for me, flavored less spicy for my wimpy tongue. A delicious savory peanut sauce served with rice and vegetables. He talked with tears in his eyes about an orphan girl he could not forget.

Food transports us.

I pay more attention now to slips and wisps of refugee stories in the news. I am looking for the African peanut recipe and will post it here when I find it. As a nod to the continent, I flipped through Marcus Samuelsson’s Discovery of A Continent: foods, flavors and inspirations from Africa omnivore cookbook. I listen to the stories of Croatia’s welcome to refugees and frown at their neighbors closed borders. I am made aware of the isolating refugee (Syria and Nigeria) experience again through Yermi Brenner’s writing for Aljazeera, “Refugees Cook Their Way Into Integration” and would like my food today to honor cuisines people clutch, in order to feel something of fled homes.

I revisited my saves and stashes from a summer spent in Croatia and Slovenia: dried crimini mushrooms, spicy pasta, dried beans. And a cookie press I bought in Slovenia with the delightful description: “for self-confident cookies.” Today, I will make some of these.

American cuisine embraces the cultures that find refuge on our shores, it is time to welcome some more.

Vegetable Samosas (Inspired by Marcus Samuelsson’s African recipe)

Puff pastry dough cut into 4 by 4 inch squares

Filling:

2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion sliced

2 small red potatoes cubed

1 Tablespoon curry powder

2 cloved minced garlic

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup water

1 lime, juice of

Saute onions and garlic until translucent about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, curry, carrots, garlic, cook for 10 minutes. Add cauliflower, coconut milk and water, simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, mash with a fork for a chunky puree. Bake in a 425 degree F oven until the puff pastry is golden brown. Serve hot.

What is more welcoming than tea and cookies? Traditions such as sweet mint tea served with Qa’b el-ghazal can be comforting and welcoming for any visitor.

I am confident I can make these cookies my self.

I am confident I can make these cookies my self.

Qa’b el-ghazal (horns of the doe or cornes de gazelle) is a crescent shaped pastry with almond and sugar. I found recipes for these written in French including a “jaune d’oeuf” which is not vegan. And the 1000 and One website directions, including some fun directions like mix “le tout” [the all] with “les mains” [the hands]. The pictures are worth the price of admission- Samuelsson said the cookies were complex, he wasn’t kidding. He included a simpler Chinese style Almond Cookie recipe in his book. I am making a version of my own for the cookie press with a couple adaptations: pepper and chocolate style, too. Stay tuned. So here is what happened, I thought, what if I combined the spices and the almonds with the chocolate cookie dough. The result is a cookie combination inspired by Croatian Pepper Cookies, Chinese and African Almond Cookies and Chocolate biscotti.

Chocolate, Almond, Pepper Cookies

2 sticks or one cup of vegan butter

2 squares or 30 grams of unsweetened baking chocolate

1/2 cup date sugar or brown sugar if you prefer the cookies more sweet

1/2 cup roasted almonds, ground

1/2 cup of brown rice syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla, plus 1 teaspoon of almond extract, if a strong almond marzipan-like flavor is desired

2 2/3 cup of unbleached white flour

1-2 teaspoons each: ground cinnamon, cloves and black pepper

In a food processor, grind the almonds, add date sugar and half of the vegan butter. Melt the chocolate squares and the remainder of the butter, until the chocolate is just melted, the butter can still be semi soft. Add the chocolate butter mixture to the food processor, add extract/s, sweetener and spices. Add flour 1/3 cup at a time to process until the dough pulls from the sides of the processor and forms a ball. Remove the dough, press into a log shape, wrap with foil or plastic wrap and set in the freezer to chill for 20-30 minutes.

Remove the chilled dough, working quickly with clean hands, roll the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Flatten slightly, then using plastic wrap between the cookie press and the dough, press the design into the cookies. Bake in a 320 degree F. oven fro 25-30 minutes until the smell makes your mouth water.

Slovenian cookie press with heart symbol.

Slovenian cookie press with heart symbol.

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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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