Sunday, April 30, 2006

Two Soups: Tomato and Spring Greens

It has been rainy here and I am not complaining - we needed it. Chilly rainy weather says soup to me. I could have posted this recipe a few days ago, but I needed to take a picture of this red stuff... of course!
My favorite tomato soup:
I grow a bunch of tomatoes during our short growing season and freeze them whole. I put them into the pan (skin and all) from the completely frozen state and cook them down with the flavorings. I have a good quality kitchenaid hand mixer (stainless steel arm) with nine powerful settings. I blend this soup smooth. Considering the seeds and the peel is in there, my mixer is pretty powerful and the soup does get smooth.

Saute onion and garlic until softened:
1 medium onion
1 tsp fresh garlic
Then add:
3 lb tomatoes (stemmed and cut into chunks)
1 carrot (diced)
1 tsp salt
Cook for 15 minutes (until all veggies are soft) and puree with a hand mixer right in the pot. Then add the following and simmer for 20 minutes or more (I leave it go on warm for sometimes all day):
2 Tbsp veggie broth powder or bouillon
3 Tbsp tomato paste (depending on the quality of the tomatoes)
2 Tbsp sugar (or a little more to taste... I add 1/4 tsp stevia = to 1/4 cup sugar sweetness because we grew up on the corn syrupy canned tomato concentrate stuff
3 Tbsp rice protein powder and 2 cups water OR use your favorite milk... not soy because tomatoes are acidic and that milk may curdle.
Sprinkle with 1 tbsp dried basil. Taste for salt and pepper.

This soup is taken from the lastest Vegan Feast Newsletter. It is made with spring nettles ( a mild green that doesn't have oxylates like spinach, but needs to be harvested while wearing gloves because nettles will cause your hand to burn... they are called stinging nettles. I searched all over a woodsy area near us and found none, so subbed kale from my freezer and worked well. This concoction is a garlicy, white bean and carrot meal deal. I liked it. I do usually add more liquids to soup recipes because I like my soups on the soupy side.

Bon Appetit' and happy weekend!

My sis is home and doing well and my catty (Tiger/ gray tabby) is still missing. He is an indoor-outdoor cat and we've had him for three years. He's never ran off before, but actually we never really "got" him either - he showed up as a stray.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Peach Porridge & Mocha Granita with oats

Here is a picture of snipped dried peaches and a jar of irish cut oats (aka steel cut oats) on the right and a porridge/ peach nutmeg pudding using the oats that we enjoy. I put this in one cup containers in the frig and it is a fast snack grab. DH likes to warm these up and top with tofuuti ice cream, he says it reminds him of a peach pie. The dried peaches are VERY flavorful, when cooked.
I make this on the low setting of my stovetop (slow cook feature). I start with 1 - 12 oz package of dried peaches, chop them and add to a pan with 2 cups water and bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, turn down heat and turn on stovetop slow cook option at the lowest setting. Add 1 1/2 Cups oats, 6 cups water, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1-2 tsp nutmeg, and stevia or sweetener to taste. I typically add 1/3 - 1/2 tsp KAL extract powder which is the equal to cups vs. teaspoon. I typically allow this to slow cook overnight, otherwise stell cut oats take about 45 minutes to absorb the cooking water... I use more water than typical for this recipe because I wanted a softer pudding style result. My stove top feature cooks at a lower temperature than a common low setting on a slow cooker. I have heard of rice makers that have porridge settings. I taste it and adjust sweetener before I eat it. This yields a breakfast bowl full for me in the morning and 6 - 1 cup servings for later.

This is a yummy coffee smoothie I had this morning. In a Magic Bullet cup place 1/4 C water and 2 Tbsp flax meal, blend until thickened. Then fill 3/4 full with ice cubes, 1 scoop of protein powder (soy, or rice, or hemp - you choose), stevia to sweeten, 2 Tbsp expresso powder (instant), 1/4 tsp cardamom, and water to fill 3/4" from the top. Blend until smooth. This has a very strong coffee flavor, which I like and it is a nice change of pace from hot coffee in the summer. I enjoyed this with a bowl of cocoa oatmeal.

I buy dark cocoa powder in the bulk section of a food store I like to visit, this has a robust chocolate flavor meant only for serious dark chocolate lovers (like me). I placed 1/2 C rolled oats in a bowl, added 1/4 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp dark cocoa powder, 1 C water and sweetener to taste (I use stevia). Micro cook 2 minutes, watch to ensure no boil over occurs. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving if you like a firm oatmeal. I put some of my coffee granita on top of this before eating. It was heavenly. I completed my meal with a nice red organic apple.

I will be posting my tomato soup recipe Monday by request of Catharine, the Food Snob. I enjoy when my blog has visitors, thanks for commenting. I hope to get in a picture of some quinoa/brown rice sushi (which means vinegared rice) rolls that I hope to make this weekend. My oldest sister fell in California where she was doing contract work last week and broke her arm. She went in for emergency surgery at that time and now is coming home to re-cooperate. I will be picking her up from the airport tonight. Mend quick vibes for my sis!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Mushroom Polenta Gratin

This idea and recipe (although I made substitutions in many places) came from the Vegan Feast Newsletter Jan/ Feb/ Mar 2006... BRYANNA'S POLENTA GRATIN WITH MUSHROOMS AND "GRUYERE". I didn't have sundried tomatoes or fresh basil, so subbed tomato paste, dried basil and roasted red pepper (for color) in areas and we liked it well enough. I added this to my 2x2 table basket and definitely plan to make this again when have fresh basil and tomatoes that I can oven dry.

The first thing I did was roast the red pepper in my oven. Then when it was charred I wrapped the foil around it loosely so that when I needed it the skin would come off easily when I was ready to slice it. Then I blended the silken tofu, tomato and basil mixture to have ready for use. I also had 1/3 C Bryanna's gruyere cheese in the freezer ready to shred and sliced mushrooms ready to use.

Next I made the polenta using 2 1/2 C strong flavored vegetable broth and 3/4 cup Beb's Red Mill corn grits. I have tried to use an organic corn meal (Hodskin Mill, I think) before for a polenta recipe, but it didn't set up like I knew polenta should. I think that it was a finer mill than required for polenta. The corn grits set up perfectly. I cooked them in the microwave, Bryanna offers an easy cooking method for this. The last time I tried to make polenta in a pan I burned it on the bottem of the pan. I spread 1/2 of the polenta while it was still warm into an 8x8 lightly oiled pan, spread 1/2 the tomatoey basil spread, topped with 1/2 the slices of mushrooms and red peppers.

Next I spread the remaining polenta. It was still warm and freshly made enough to do this. In the picture I wanted to show it spreading, it did and covered all the sauce, mushrooms, and red peppers. I topped polenta layer two with the reamaining sauce and veggies. At last, I took a small block of Bryanna's Gruyere Cheese out of the freezer and shred it to my double layered casserole, it spread so well and gets melty and actually browns as you can see in the finished product below.
We enjoyed this casserole.

This is an example of a grain rotation dish. On a "corn" day, that is the only grain eaten for all meals. Corn could be corn based commercial cereal, cornstarch in a Chinese veggie sauce, corn chips, etc... there would be no other grain that could be eaten on this day... it's not hard to accomplish this. We could have another corn day in four days since it was a low level allergen for him. Dealing with so many allergies (which is a sign of an over reactive and improper functioning immune system), we eliminated all allergens for three months after the test results came back so that we could rid the system of irritants as best we could (this was the hardest part!!). Then we started a rotational diet because our goal is to re-train his faulty immune system, a few foods which were immediate reaction/high level allergens (anaphlatic type reaction) may never be tolerable. We did work with a doctor throughout this process and still do, we have actually seen this immune system begin to recover (confirmed by blood chemical tests) . He is not "recovered", but it has been and still is an interesting journey. I 'll talk more about rotational diets this in later blogs since I want the main feature of this post to be the magnificient gratin.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

4.26.06 Midweek Munchies and a hungry planet

Our back yard tree is flowering. It does this before turning into leaves, so pretty. These flowers do not have a nice smell though. I have also cleaned out and prepared the planters on our back porch to bear beautiful flowers for us soon. DD is glad she can get her bike out!

Meal Plan:
*keep using green beans and cauliflower from my freezer: chinese chili garlic green beans and a curried dish with red lentils and the cauliflower over brown rice
*Something with organic adzuki beans (spontaneous buy) - any suggestions?
* Quinoa spring salad like that posted by Vicki at the vegetarian family blog
*A white bean garlicy soup including nettles from Vegan Feast Newsletter
*Taco salad with taco'd lentils me*t
*Tomato Soup - I forgot 6 gallon bags of tomatoes in the bottem of a freezer at the bakehouse, I thought I had used my stock from last year, to be served with grilled sandwiches.
* I also rediscovered that I had strawberry rhubarb jam and peach puree on my top shelf. I have pulled out a jar of each of these to use this week.
*A tofu omelet with greens and soy feta cheese
*Muffins, chocolate covered raisin bran muffins (new)
*Big Breakfast Cookie (redo of an older recipe I have made before)

BUYING CLUB ORDER IN TOMMORROW: I have been waiting anxiously for it and feel like my cupboards get bare. My buying club isn't a store that I can go to. I have grouped with other health conscious familes in my area who order one time monthly and then when the truck comes in with our goods (two weeks later) we unload the semi at distribution. Together as a group we get "food store" prices (about a 40% discount from what I can pick things up at a health food store). One bad thing is that we must buy in cases, one good thing is that there are enough of us that we can often split a case with several others. Some items I am looking forward to include: split red lentils, currants, firm tofu, guiltless gourmet corn chips, soy yogurt, quinoa grain.

Other shopping needs:
Since my garden greens are not up yet, I will be purchasing some organic romaine lettuce again for salads and organic baby carrots. I haven't planted any because only I like it, but am looking forward to the farmers market and getting some arugula and raddicho for salads for a change.
I noticed a chain grocery store near us is getting in more organic produce. While I am thankful for the availability I get concerned about how little the farmer makes when selling to a chain store. Being a vendor at a market I have heard of the small prices offered to the grower and the difficulties of supplying a local store, some are family farm friendly others care less. No one gets rich growing, but family businesses and lifestyles that support family values do die without that lifeline.
Leslie at Eat Peace Please blog recently shared her bookshelf and library finds. She was passionately impressed with one book called, Hungry Planet ( link) by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio. This is a beautiful book with its large colorful photographs introducing families from all over the world and their food. I had to be on campus yesterday and stopped at the library, so I checked it out and have read the first three chapters. One concept that totally grabbed me is commercially packaged conveniece goods in the hands of poverty stricken children who need real food and real nutrition. In a poor area being "modernized" with the progress of fast food restaurants and workers who need convenience food, two children have a package of ramen noodles. One child opens the package and starts eating the crunchy noodles while the other opens the seasoning packet and dumps it into his mouth. Is this progress? Are the children in our country receiving better nutrition even if they are able to cook the convenience noodles? Cheap JUNK for occassional fast meals, who is benefitting here?
Want to know more about ?
Check out Harmonia's Hut.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Happy Garden Dog

Links below show pictures of the garden through this 2006 growing season.

Pup says, "Yeah, It's garden season!"
Then she does a happy puppy dance.

She loves garden season. She is doing her happy dance here, but she knows she has to sit pretty to be able to be let free to roam in the garden with me. Our garden ground is freshly planted in the pictures below, but today as this is being posted I have spinach, turnips, and potatoes poking through the ground. I took my first cutting of asparagus that DH started for me three years ago, 1 shoot was delish... I didn't even cook it. I just harvested rhubarb, 12 cups worth of diced tart veggie... I'll have plenty more throughout the season because we started six root plants two years ago and they are hardy. My raspberry plants (heritage) are going well, we also have two yellow raspberry plants and an early summer bearing plant.

This is half of what we have planted in previous years because I will be teaching at the public school in the fall for 12 weeks. That is also a time of great harvest, cutting back will stop alot from going to waste this year. It's hard to hold back though... I have a serious case of garden-i-tous this spring! This problem is kind of like going to the grocery store when you are hungry, only it deals with hankering for fresh produce after a long winter.

Follow the LINKS below to see our 2006 GARDEN grow.

April 18 - May 20

This link will show you our garden center plant purchases and an update of what is growing on towards the end of May in my personal blog entry called WHAT'S UP.

June 12, 2006

Picture includes the tomato that blessed Dave as the winner of the earliest tomato contest at his work. You have to scroll past the family outing and kitchen detail entry to see the garden. A spinach salad and vegetarian sukiyaki recipe is included in this post.

June 17, 2006

2 links below with good pictures. Brussel sprouts, watermelon, kale, broccoli, our kitten (oops!), tomatoes, etc.

The Garden Grows

The Garden Grows and Grows

JUNE 30, 2006

Dori picking green beans... the corn is also growing well.

We harvested the first section of corn July 25-29 at the same time that we removed all of the spent early spring plants as well as zucchini plnat. The zucchini plants got "the bug" and were dying off. We just take them out to try to control the infestation as best we can.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Fat & Sugar Free Salad Dressings

My lunch today was
The meal pictured here is leftover thinly sliced seitan roast (on the side and on the salad), romaine lettuce and purple cabbage, with a bowl of popcorn (a food of the "gods"). The cup is actually a part if my magic blender and it has fat free balsamic vinagrette. I could add oil, but choose not to ... I prefer to get my fats by eating some good organic dark chocolate at the end of my meal! I have four favorite salad dressings: Balsamic Vinagrette, Sweet Mustard, sweet/sour mayo and a tomato based french style dressing. I sweeten with stevia and thicken my dressing with xanthan gum (a modified carbohydrate) or instant clear-jel (a modified corn starch) so that they stick. I like xanthan gum better and keep it on hand for gluten free baking also.

Clink to link to the recipe page.

Use equal amounts of mustard, mayo and water or vinegar. Sweeten to preference with stevia. Depending in the thickness of the mustard, you may need a little extra liquid. The mustard I use is thick and tangy. I combine this with a small hand whisk.

TANGY TOMATO DRESSING (my french style preference)
Place all in blender 3-4 minutes until thickened, this recipe makes 4 cups dressing.
6 oz tomato paste
2 C water
1 C apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp allspice ground
2 Tbsp honey
1/3 - 1/2 KAL brand stevia extract powder (depending on your sweetness preference)
1/2 Tbsp Clear-Jel OR 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
** To use with a mexican salad add 1/2 Tbsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cilantros, 1/2 tsp oregano per 1 C dressing
**Use as a sweet and sour dressing, use larger amount of sweetener

I like this best on broccoli salad, shredded carrot salad, and cole slaw. Just whisk it smooth and use.
1/2 C favorite lite mayo
2-3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp KAL brand stevia extract powder

I usually make my own mayo and use the following recipe often, it comes from the Vegan Feast free recipe archives at:
Otherwise I bought the light vegan mayo pictured on sale, which is a little higher in fat, but also good.
(can be soy-free) makes about 2 generous cups
This is a revised version of the recipe that appears in several of my cookbooks. For those who are allergic to soy, do not like tofu mayonnaise, or the commercial "light" mayos (most are not vegan, anyway), here is a delicious (and inexpensive) solution! It contains a small amount of oil, just enough for good flavor, and has only about 10 calories per T. (compared to 100 calories for regular mayo!). It’s smooth and creamy, and a little tangy, but not too much.
1/2 c. plus 2 T. cold water
1/2 tsp. agar powder OR 1 T. agar flakes
3 and 1/2 T. cornstarch (or wheat starch-- do not use tapioca, or arrowroot-- I tried these and it was terrible!))
1 c. any non-dairy milk (can be low-fat)
2 T. apple cider, plain rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar, or lemon juice
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
In a small saucepan or microwave-proof bowl, mix together the water and the agar and let sit for a few minutes. Add the cornstarch and whisk well. If making in the pot on the stovetop, stir constantly over high heat until thick and translucent-- not white— OR:

Microwave option: Use the microwave-proof bowl for the mixture, and microwave on HI 30 seconds. Whisk. Repeat three times, or until thick and translucent.

Place the cornstarch mixture and all other ingredients EXCEPT the oil in a blender or food processor. Blend well, then add the oil slowly through the top while the machine is running. Blend until the mixture is very white and frothy and emulsified (you can't see any oil globules). (NOTE: This mayo doesn’t get thick as you blend it, like regular mayonnaise or soy mayonnaise made with lots of oil, so don’t blend it and blend it, thinking it will thicken as it blends—it won’t!! It will thicken in a few hours in the refrigerator.) Pour into a clean pint jar, cover and refrigerate. Keeps several weeks.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mother Earth No Bake Treats

A few years ago when when I was learning how to manage a rotational diet with my son and me, I formed a "support" group by inviting several people over for supper who wanted to learn a little about what I knew about cooking. Although the group I invited over didn't offer a foodie like me much knowledge, they did give me the inspiration to keep seeking new ways to wow them using all sorts of unique meals using a wide variety of ingredients, like a gluten free, yeast free buckwheat flour and tapioca flour bread that actually sliced and toasted.

I did this because my son has a diagnosis that places him on the autistic scale, as well as asthma/ restricted lung disorder, food allergies to 38 common foods... he is not vegan, nor vegetarian and could not be. He is highly allergic to soy, peanuts, several legumes, pineapple, asparagus and brocolli, all cow and goat dairy products, eggs, pork, beef, wheat, corn, rice... yeah, the list goes on. He is not allergic to chicken, turkey and fish .... nor buckwheat, romaine lettuce, millet, etc. During these dinners my son would cook the meat for himself and I would make everything else during these friendly dinners and when my guests would RAVE about my dishes, he was willing to try the new foods and I could then offer them to him on a rotational diet.

A pastor friend came to one of my dinners. He used to be a hippy/ druggy/ bumb living in California in the early 70's (and says so himself) and loved to buy something called Mother Earth bars at a health food store during that time. He told me what they were like and asked me if I could try to make them for him. I gave it a shot and when I was done he was very happy with the result. I share that result on my blog today.

Dori's Mother Earth Bars
In a large bowl mix the DRY INGREDIENTS (I usually quadruple this recipe)
1 1/2 C organic millet puff cereal
1 1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 C english walnuts
1/4 C sesame seeds
1/2 C whole buckwheat groats (toasted or not - you choose)
1/2 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp flax seeds (ground)
Melt together. This does not need to boil, but the unrefined sugar granules do need to melt. I have tried to reduce the sugar and even to cut it out. The bars will not hold together without adding alot more syrup, which I did not want. I make this using organic sucanat and it works equally well with an unrefined sugar in the raw or turbinado sugar.
1/2 C sorghum
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1/3 C sugar in the raw
Add the syrup to the dry mix. Press solidly into a lightly oiled 1/3 C measuring cup. I place a muffin wrapper in the measuring cup and then press the mix in, very tightly packed. Set aside. Let set in a cool place overnight. These need to kept cool to store and will keep in the freezer. If not stored in a cool palce the bars will crumble... sure it's tastey still, but then it wouldn't be a bar.

NOTES: You can use whatever mix of nuts or even dried fruits in the dry mix, just have 2 1/3 cups of goods. In the recipe pictured I used english walnuts, sunflower seeds, thick shredded coconut, and almond slices. I would have used some dried fruits, but these were for my son and he doesn't like dried fruit ... just nuts and lots of them.

**The SORGHUM I use is grown and made on a farm 30 miles from me. I have visited there and watched them harvest their crop as well as make the syrup.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Kitchen

Welcome to my kitchen sink! What you see here is a little 70's style kitchen with a bit of paint slapped on it to fancy my personal tastes. This post is to let you know that it does not take a state of the art, million dollar kitchen to be able to have healthy natural meals on a regular basis (although I won't complain if I win something off of the home and garden channel). It also doesn't take an outrageous grocery bill or no life outside the kitchen to feed a family organic, whole grain, hormone free, natural and friendly foods. I will make the same statement even when you have a family member with serious food allergies and requires a special diet.

This blog entry will give you a tour of the place where all my kitchen play takes place, aka Dori's "lab". My intentions in doing this is to point a new direction for others who are tired of traveling the same "industrialized" road they have been traveling. My heart lies with families and a lifestyle that allows them to accomplish what is important to them. For my family it was important that we stayed together, so we made drastic changes in our lifestyle which for us meant giving up 50% of our income and overcoming some health issues. An organic whole foods diet, aka "slow food", environmentally and animal friendly (vegan for me, lacto/ovo for DH, depends on whose cooking for the kids) and home made happiness. This kind of living can be less expensive than choosing the commercialized/ fast food offerings in which you get "super sized" bargains and it can also be more expensive depending on how much commerical convenience you want to pay for.

I was once a full time professional mom who thought I could do it all (work, educational improvement, and family), but I was wrong - everything has a price. When our family structure began to crumble under the pressures (mentally/ physically) of keeping up with modernized life and divorce was immenent, two hurting souls looked up to the heavens and wondered, "Is there more to life than this?" A reconnection and commitment to our spiritual values allowed a divine intervention to work in our marriage and save our family from being a statistic. When we yielded and took a turn to a road less traveled, we have discovered a journey that at times has been tearful many times, but meaningful and satisfying. We have now known no greater joy since making the change. Although I realize others will not find satisfaction doing the same that our family has, I would like to invite you into my kitchen so that if there is something that inspires you to make the changes that you will find satisfaction with you can know that you are not alone. On the Bakehouse link, there is more about our friendly, more peaceful eating lifestyle (this includes friendlier to your personal health, so you do receive direct benefits from it!) and the work we have dedicated out bakehouse to.

As the picture above shows, the kitchen sink lies directly south in my kitchen with a window and window shelf above it (DH, put the shelf up for me and a black lacey curtain is hung behind it). The main color scheme is black and tan. To the left of the kitchen window is an under cabinet toaster oven, a big flower pot that I keep tall handled goods in, our coffee maker in the corner, my magic bullet blender to the right, a spice rack, and my black convection oven. We got such a bargain on the black oven that I decided to make it one of the main colors in my kitchen

My family moved into this house in 2003. In our previous home we lived through a constant remodel job, one of which was the kitchen and I had the wonderful opportunity to design it literally from the floor jousts up. It was a big 15 x 15 kitchen with a center island, a sliding glass door leading to a patio ... It has taken me some adjustment to the smaller kitchen I have now BUT the advantage is what lies outside my kitchen window, the bakehouse (in the picture you see our garage to the right and the bakehouse behind that). That and our one acre garden to the left of the bakehouse is why we decided to move, well that and what our previous home appraised for after all of our handiwork :o).

Continuing past the south west corner where the coffee pot sits you see the stove with my huge spice rack above it and a cupboard where I store more spices/ flavorings, etc. The doorway beside the stove leads into a little hallway. That hallway has a large closet where I store kitchen goods that I don't use daily, the location makes it handy and lets me keep my kitchen counters uncluttered. In the picture you see my bread machine, a kitchen mixer (bosch compact), my magic whisper grain mill, and a professional 24 cup muffin pan, and the fire extinguisher. There is a lot more in this cupboard, some things I only use once a year and I also keep some canning supplies in the bottom as well as dog food.

You see my white refrigerator (barely) in the right corner of the above picture and again you almost see it underneath all our family stuff posted on it. I'm going to give a tour around the refrigerator because I know I have the busiest multi tasking refrigerator of anyone I know. To the left you see the south side of my frig and pictures of everyone we love including special event invitations and Christmas letters. To the right you see the FRONT of my frig... and my grocery list pad, coupons, important family papers as well as work well done (Yes, we all still feel a great school paper or crayon colored picture is a great thing to post on the frig. This carries almost as much prestige as a professionally published work in our family). And last you see the north side of my refrigerator. This is the main family information and planning station. Our calendar, conference papers, financial budgeting goals, prayer list, and all other thing a family needs to keep life organized is located here. As well as a shelf which doubles as a phone stand, office supply basket holder, as well as phone book stand at the bottem.

Next, you see our peninsula. In my previous kitchen we had an island, but in this kitchen we had a cold air vent coming up from the basement that needed a partial wall. Islands are free standing, peninsula's are attached to a main wall. It was frustrating to have a half wall separating the kitchen from the eating area, so I sent DH to his garage/ workshop to come up with what we have here. I have legumes, grains, soy curls, and teas stored in jars on the top two shelves. You can barely see the bar stool sitting up to the peninsula top here. I sometimes sit and study cookbooks there and when we have company I use this a serving window/ table. The east wall contains a bakers rack holding our microwave and a lot of baskets holding a variety of things ranging from napkins, teas, snacks, and fresh or dried fruits as well as cookbooks. In the bottom I have two baskets where I store onions, potatoes, and squash.

Directly beside the microwave is a small 2x2 table. Currently it holds a basket full of file folders and recipes. I have the file folders arranged seasonally and when I try a new recipe, if I want to save it I place it here for when I have fresh produce available, then I check there first. I have been working on this organization method for awhile. I'm the kind of grower who only grows what I use and if I share my produce I'll share my uses for it. I have thought about putting together a small book (self-made) for my market customers arranging the recipes in the order produce becomes locally available in our area. Behind the table is a wall and behind the wall is a closet (I love my little kitchen's storage capacity). This is actually an under the stairway space. At the bottom of it I have another shelf where I store canned goods as well as more canning jars, large bowls, and other awkward or only used seasonally kitchen equipment.

This is the south east corner of the kitchen. It was shown in relation to the little table above and the closet is directly to the left of what you see here. The open cupboard is for food storage. The drawers and cabinets hold plastic lunch box dishes, more kitchen equipment (salad spinner, servings bowls, mixing bowls, ice cream maker, etc, etc.), and all sorts of odds and ends that I couldn't find other room for. On the counter sits my BOSCH Universal and Soyajoy soymilk machine. I have a dealership agreement with both companies and can sell these, but at this time that is not my focus. As you can see in the right corner of the picture I am back at the sink. We have now completed this tour of Dori's little kitchen.

NOTE: I do have many, many kitchen gadgets and appliances... if I had a hobby it would be called not inspector gadget, but something close. Other than the BOSCH universal, grain mill, and soyajoy I got most of my utensils from second hand stores at extremely cheap prices. The goods that I did pay full price for has well paid for themselves in the savings many times over. Remember a road to change is taken on step at a time, so you can get a well stocked kitchen for a small price also.

4.19.06 Midweek Munchies

This week I don't have much of a post since I am waiting for my large once a month buying club order to come in next Thursday. We have been chowing on some organic romaine lettuce that I picked up on sale when I was out shopping last Thursday along with some Smart Deli Pastrami. Last Thursday I just bought spontaneously as I saw good sales. Here you see some *cranberry beans, *adzuki beans, *miso from Miso Master, Earth Balance mararine, Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits, and the book Vegan Deli. I paid full price for it but some if the marinated veggie recipes looked SO worth it.

Simple soup and sandwiches for supper tonight, tommorrow... I'm not sure yet. We had the stomach flu going around our house this past weekend and are still eating only what sounds good ... so far heavy foods just don't seem appealing to any of us.

I will be out of town this weekend Friday afternoon through Saturday evening. I hope to try a new restaurant whle I am gone, otherwise I will be packing sandwiches and fresh fruit for the road, stopping at Great Harvest Bread for breakfast, salad out for lunch with a soy protein bar, something snacky from the health food store I plan to visit on the way home . I'll have to think about what I have on hand to plan meals for Monday. Tuesday I'll be on a four hour long road trip and be gone for the whole day again. I'll probably eat at PITA PIT with my son for lunch. We love this place! We'll probably stop and eat Chinese on the trip home. That brings me back to Wednesday... meal will be a surprise I'm sure it will be something from my outing at a natural food store I like to stop at and then another opportunity to post for midweek munchies will follow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Seitan Roast

This is my Easter roast still in the crockpot. Below I put the roast onto a plate. Seitan roasts are awesome and easy, especially if you have a bread machine (or electric mixer) and a crockpot. When the seitan roast dough is prepared with the long mix and rest method that a dough cycle in the bread machine can provide, they get "stringy" texture. The slow cooker works well for me when I don't have the time to soak my claycooker. I think all BryannaClark Grogan "groupies" now own clay pot cookers to make their roast in, thanks to a guy in Denmark who happens to have an apartment very near a kitchen store. The clay cooker seems to be the way to make a roast that has a superior quality that cannot be imitated by other cooking methods.

VEGAN "TURKEY" SEITAN ROAST (link to a roast recipe)

The recipe link above is only one flavor variation that Bryanna has. I have been a charter subscriber of The Vegan Feast, her newsletter, since it's beginning. Typically a new flavor variation or awesome way to serve the seitan roast is presented in each newsletter. It's great and gets my creativeness flowing!

My personal favorite seitan flavoring is KEILBASA. I have made this type of seitan in a roast form and in long log, bun style logs (see picture of the finished logs that I cooked in my clay pot). I have sliced this roast and all of the tofu/ gluten roasts deli style in a kitchen meat slicer and they came out wonderfully. These also freezed well, which I do in small batches so that I can take a package out when I want sandwiches, sos (stuff on a shingle), or just a handful of "meat" to munch on.

I have been shocked at the cost of commercial seitan. When I have seen this stuff at the food coop store I occassionally visit I always think I would starve or go broke if I had to do it that way. I have purchased commercially prepared vegan lunchmeat slices and they don't compare for my tastes. When I do buy them, thay always leave me hankering for my own. OH - which reminds me I purchased some Lightlife vegan sandwich meat clices... PASTRAMI last week when I was out shopping on Thursday afternoon. It was an impulse but and on sale for $1.79/ pkg. It wasn't bad and tided me over until I cooked up my Easter roast.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Time for Tea!

We had a nice weekend with almost perfect weather and we were all almost in perfect in health . . . that is tornado warnings, thunderstorms, and the stomach flu not considered. DS went down Saturday, DD on Sunday, DH and I today. It appears to be a type that hits hard, fast and leaves us feverish and weak. We ate oatmeal, green bananas and green seedless grapes today... my stomach comfort sick food. Weird maybe, but DH appreciated it also.

Despite all this I decided to blog about tea . . . since the weather is turning warm I have decided it was time to start making iced tea and this blog is about how I can have cold tea in the frig for my drinking pleasure whenever I want. Today it was also a handy to sip on the fennel tea, the rooibos seemed a bit to flavorful for my tender tummy.

I buy my tea in bulk and store in large jars like those in the middle of the picture. I am making ROOIBOS and FENNEL SEED tea here. I purchased reusable cotton bags from the Frontier Co-op so that I can put 2 Tbsp tea or seed in it and add the bag to the boiling water that I put in the quart jar. I allow my tea to steep on the counter until it is cool enough to pick up and put in the frig. I remove the bag, rinse and use again. I also make any other herbal or regular tea by using 2 regular size bags per jar in this same way. That is what I do with my all time favorite hot or cold is GOOD EARTH TEA, original flavor in regular or decaf. I love Ghandi's (1869 - 1948) saying that I found posted on Good Earth's website, "Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes."

I was also at the library looking up some children's books to make for some fun and easy information tools for history class and I happened across this book: FRESH FROM THE VEGETARIAN SLOW COOKER by Robin Robertson, 200 recipes for healthy and hearty one pot meals that are ready when you are. So far from what I see all the recipes in this book are vegan. I really like her method of making dried legumes in the slow cooker and having them prepared ahead for other recipes that call for beans.

I probably wouldn't cook beans in the slow cooker because I have a "slow cook" setting on my stovetop and make legumes huge batches to freeze ahead for when I need, but I would if I didn't have that option. I have burnt beans before and THEY STINK! Also, a great thing about preparing beans from the dry state is that it really saves me alot of $$ compared to canned and also is a bit more environmentally friendly. Beans are versatile, if I happened to have pinto beans on hand in my freezer this will work for any bean recipe. This way I can watch for when other COOP members want to split a 25 lb bag of legumes, so my savings REALLY add up. I don't do this for tightwadery, but I'll do like to take advantage of making my $$ stretch.

Oh back to the book, I tried a couple of the breakfast porridge recipes and still find I don't like grains cooked in the slowcooker, they are mushy. For me perfect grains are separate and somewhat dry, not in a thickened starchy goo. So far a basic simple Zorushi ($2.99 Goodwill find) rice maker is my best grain making friend (except for steel-cut "irish" oats) ... just gotta make sure not to add to much liquid.


Here's to hoping for a happy day blog readers! I have some great pictures of my stuffed Easter mushrooms and seitan roast to get posted soon, as well as my trip to get garden plants.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Spring has sprung here!!

Happy Good Friday! I am now in spring mode and looking forward to the upcoming farmer's market season, the one I sell at doesn't start until about June 1. My mom and I were in the garden today getting in some potatoes, onions, spinach, and turnips in... Good Friday is the potato planting day here and May 10 is the average frost date. I am planning on getting my romaine lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflour already started from my father-in-law (check him out at this weekend, I'll get some peas seeds (green arrow and sugar snap) while I am there. I won't get the tomatoes, green peppers, and watermelon/ squash plants until the end of May... if I were a competitive market gardener, I would have these out early and have frost protection defenses already prepared... It's the early ones who get the most $$ for the goods. I'm not and I don't and all's well. We don't do this for a living, but we sure do like it.

I would take pictures, but great well nourished good organic black dirt still looks like dirt. It has taken us four years now of working our ground with truck loads of poop (yep, I said poop) and other organic materials, to make it into the wonderful condition it is in. We also have a yearly journal so we can rotate crops to keep bugs who like our produce as much as us confused. Last year we discovered that a product called corn gluten is a good natural weed away protection, I put this around my rhubard and in between my potato rows ... i did see a noticable difference between those areas and others where I didn't use it. I also discovered our local farm supply store is an amazing bargain from the big corporate places that also sell garden goods, plus the personal experience about products they can share is PRICELESS.

Perhaps sometime I could introduce you to my mom, my partner in dirty endeavors. At the first part of May I plan on opening up the bakehouse for the season at that time I'll give you all a tour (inspired by Leslie at eatpeaceplease) and perhaps sometime I'll show y'all my favorite personal kitchen gadgets too. Gotta run now, I hope you all enjoy the weekend! I'll be back on Monday, we'll be with family for the rest of the weekend and I won't have computer access.


FESTIVE, SPRINGY... and a real hassle if you have to boil the noodles!
My husband used to work at a pizzeria many moons ago and always cooked cheesy/ meay lasagna early in our marriage. . . back in our SAD (standard american diet) days. A time before I realized how allergic to dairy products my son and I are (and how violently our bodies react against beef and pork... all common pizzeria ingredients). Anyway, I have never made a lasagna before and never desired to until I found a couple of pounds of organic whole wheat lasagna noodles. My first thought was the pretty filling infused pasta rolls, but after cooking the noodles and trying to keep them from breaking while I tried to boil them in a pan that was not wide enough . . . I wasn't impressed with these noodles! After having enough to make this pan of lasagna I ended up mashing the rest of the cooked noodles in a bowl and adding some dry cat food to it. I set the bowl into our back alley so that the stray cats in our neighborhood could enjoy it (they did). Not all fiddley meals can be favorites, fortunately cooking the noodles was the only thing I really didn't like.

I improvised this dish using whatever I had on hand just to get the noodles off my shelf. I started off with six cups of a good flavored Italian tomato sauce that we all like ... if you don't like the sauce to begin with you won't like the end product. I had enough cooked noodles to cover a 9x13 pan in three layers, hungry stray cats for the noodle scraps, 2 lb's chopped broccoli (frozen/ thawed), 1 lb tofu seasoned with 1/2 C veg mayo/1 tsp each onion powder/garlic/basil/1/4 tsp salt, 2 cups sliced mushrooms, black beans (okay if you read my last week plans you know why these were thrown in), and your favorite parmesan style sprinkles. I topped this with the parm-style sprinkles combined with bread crumbs for a pretty browned bake look on top. After preparing this dish in the evening, it was covered/ refrigerated overnight until I took it out to bake at 350 degrees F for two hours.

Notice in the pictures that after removal from the oven, the casserole sat for about 15-20 minutes at which time the excess sauce was soaked up, this made serving it easier. DH said that a quality lasagna holds together (thus the need for eggs and cottage cheese he said... BAH! I said back!!). This ones maintains it square peice integrity going from the baking dish to the plate for nice serving, but slides apart when you cut it with a fork. So I may not have a quality dish, but my pantry is now one item less!

After all my frustration trying to cook the noodles, we all liked this meal. Chances that I try to pre-cook dry lasagna noodles ever again are not good. I would love to see if there is a good way to skip pre-cooking the noodles and know that they will have a good quality at serving time. The thought of using freshly prepared noodles crossed my mind... I have a hand crank pasta maker (Atlas). I have made pasta before. I'll bet fresh noodles can be added straight to the baking pan and they will cook during the baking process. But then the fresh noodles might also dissolve or turn mushy during the baking process..... hmmm. I would like to know, but chances of trying this to find out anytime soon is also slim.

I micro cooked the cabbage, carrots, chik'n chunks, and seasings this evening so that I have the ingredients for the yaki soba ready, this was fast and easy! The noodles will take just a 2 minutes, so supper will be FAST FOOD! I am really looking forward to trying little stuffed wonton wraps. My family loves almost anything with a dip.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I was over at the "primaryconsumer" blog and saw that she has an abundance of greens, my green with envy side is showing through today ... I'm looking forward to getting some from my garden. I'll be planting some kale and turnip seeds very soon, I'm in Iowa and we have a later growing season than many others. I have really been drooling seeing all the greens other blog writers have been queestioning how to use. I love greens! Did you know they are like a tonic to the body, check out the awesome nutritional value of KALE (link to world's healthiest foods page).

Although I have tried many greens and like most of them, KALE and TURNIP GREENS are my favorite for cooking and storing (frozen) for later use. Cooked beet greens and spinach get to mushy for me, but I love them for a fresh salads (if the beet greens are young and tender). Typically when I get my first batch of greens in the garden I start thinning and adding the baby (1-2 inch) greens to salads, but then when they get bigger and I have my first batch in abundance I make a pot of SPICY SOUTHERN GREENS (link). I have tried to make this twice a year, but I discovered one time is really what I crave and once a year I very much enjoy it. Later as the growing season continues, if I don't have an immediate use or the time for using my fresh harvest (mainly turnip greens) upon picking I steam it until half cooked, squeeze the liquids out of it and freeze it in one cup portions. Then when I am ready to make dip or add green to a soup I have them ready, just thaw chop and wha-la ... my own organic greens ready for use. I typically store away about 20 - 1 cup servings of greens and run out by March because I have always found an abundance of uses for them in stir fries, soups, and other recipes.

In Iowa we have turnip greens in early spring and the best kale crop in the late fall, it is at it's peak in flavor if it gets a good frost before picking. At that time it's perfect for spanish kale and potato soup (i heart this!).

Here's some of my other favorite uses with greens:
(Click on the colored title and link to the recipes)
I think that carrots sliced into long ovals are a beautiful compliment to the green hummous, but then I've also been know to put it in a pita. I just had a thought about phyllo dough for non-bakers. Wrap some of the dip into a sheet of phyllo and cook it on a flat griddle on the stove top to brown as desired.... I am almost sure that this would work because it does with thicker wheat based oriental pasta style wrappers, but it would probably be crumbly.

Here's a recipe for a baked greek lasagna using phyllo dough sheets:
KALE SPANAKOPITA (or spinach, but I like kale better)
(Preparation 90 minutes, not counting marinating time for the tofu cheese)
Cottage cheese substitute:
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and mashed
3/4 cup tofu mayonnaise
3 teaspoons finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground dill seed

Feta cheese substitute:
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 cups water
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely minced onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground dill seed

Feta cheese Marinade:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Pita:One 1-pound package frozen phyllo dough
2 bunches (roughly 1/2 pound) kale or spinach leaves
1 large onion, diced
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Start by making the cottage cheese substitute. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands or a wooden spoon. Don't use a food processor, as you want the cheese to be lumpy, not pureed. Can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.To make the feta cheese, combine cheese ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-high flame, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Drain the tofu and set aside in a bowl.To make the marinade for the feta cheese, whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, then pour over the feta cheese tofu and toss to coat. Cover and chill several hours, stirring occasionally. Once marinated, the tofu feta can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.To make the spanakopita, preheat the oven to 350 F.Remove the phyllo dough from its package and cover with a damp cloth. Wash the kale or spinach, remove any thick stems. Finely chop the leaves.In a medium saute pan, cook the onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent, about 3 minutes. Set aside.Drain the feta cheese and crumble into a large bowl. Add the cottage cheese and mix well. Add the onions and kale, then use your hands to mix everything until very well combined.Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the bottom of a lasagna pan with olive oil. Place a layer of phyllo dough (2 or 3 sheets) over the bottom of the pan, curling the excess up the sides.Lightly brush the phyllo with olive oil and spread a 1/4- to 1/2-inch layer of kale and tofu filling on it. Cover the mixture with another layer of phyllo dough, again layering any excess dough up the sides of the pan.Brush the phyllo with more olive oil and repeat the process until all the kale and tofu mixture has been used, or top of the pan is reached. Cap the pita with a final layer of phyllo dough and brush with oil.Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top of the phyllo begins to brown lightly. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. Makes 12 servings.

I WISH I HAD PICTURES, no.... I WISH I HAD GREENS. (soon though, very soon)
P.S. Primary consumer, Racheal is welcome to drop off some of those lovely greens at my house.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

4.12.06 Midweek Munchies

Harmonias Midweek Munchies Meme
A Veg*n Meme

What wonderful foods did you bring home from the grocery store?

Midweek Munchies: What DORI is contributing for the week

I get to place my order for COOP today, but it won't come in for two weeks. I am in need of several items, including herbal teas (just as good iced) - Good Earth original tea is my favorite, 6# tofu (x- firm regular), a case of guiltless gourmet corn chips, some bulk spices (esp cardamom - I LOVE it in my coffee... the indian descended sure got this one right!), red split lentils, 3 # quinoa grain, vegan chocolate bits, 5# navy beans, pure almond/ maple/ orange extract, coffee, white montana prairie gold wheat berries, candied ginger slices, dried currants, maple syrup. . . Also, I buy organic grains/ pasta's / legumes as well as veggies. It would be easier for me to mark the items that are not organic (the ginger I don't think is organic).

Currently on hand meal possibilities: (April 12, 2006)
Earlier this week I bought 10 # of fresh organic strawberries... some were delish, some were picked a bit underripe. I sliced them and added a bit of stevia and then they were good. I made an uncooked tofu cheesecake and topped it with some fresh berries. ** see pix below.

* Polenta Gratin with mushrooms and homemade vegan "gruyere" cheese and green beans

* From the leftover "gruyere" cheese I will make... grilled cheese sandwich. Fresh made 7 grain bread made form freshly milled wheat berries and made in my BOSCH Universal, served with an italian style veggie soup.

*Lasagna with whole wheat noodles, broccoli, mushrooms, tofu...? I'm going to wing it. I'm not usually a big pasta eater and have never tried a lasagna before, but I bought some out of a bulk box at coop awhile ago.

* Easter Sunday Meal: Stuffed white button mushrooms, seitan "ham" roast made in a clay pot, and sweet potato salad like the recipe form Oprah Winfrey's collection (made my way), and roasted asparagus*

* Yaki Soba: Made with an egg free ramen style instant noodle found at my favorite chinese store (cabbage and carrots), wonton wrapped potstickers with various dips/sauces, and candied ginger slices

Sweets: Mother Earth Treats (using sorghum)

Recipes I've seen and want to try:
* pickled ginger slices, baklava, a double layer or a bundt cake

Links to other Midweek Munchies
(If you participate, leave your link in the comments and I'll post it below; or, you can post in the comments)

Click here for the Midweek Munchies code
Click here for Harmonia's blog

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A special thanks to Running2Ks and Rift for all of their help with coding, graphics, and encouragement for this project.

PURPOSE of Midweek Munchies: Put together by a small group of Veg Women, we hope to spread the word about healthy vegetarianism while obtaining idea starters for meals, recipes, learn about new products, and meet other female veg*n bloggers. Visiting and commenting on other participants lists are encouraged but not required. Have fun and Go Veg!


Here's a picture of that strawberry tofu cream no bake dessert I made this week. The filling was blended smooth with some almond extract and stevia. The crust is crushed Ryvita crackers. I topped the fresh strawberries with some all fruit strawberry spread and sprinkled the top with some of the crushed rye crackers. It didn't set up as firm as I would have liked, but then it didn't have time because it was gobbled up immediately.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Spring Pasta Wrapped Rolls

I have been into wrapped things lately for supper and my family is delighted with this new found skill. Food blogging has inspired me to try many new things and I am having so much fun. Although I love to "fiddle" in the kitchen I sure didn't think some fiddley things could become "every day" style dinner fare. I found this recipe on the blog called EAT AIR. I liked the way they didn't have to be fried in oil and that I could choose my choice of pasta wrapper, so I could get an eggless eggroll.

I had cabbage leftover from the cabbage rolls and vietnamese spring rolls that I made last week in the freezer (thawed on the counter, not drained). It was already shredded with julienned carrots, so I placed it in my micro veggie steamer dish with sliced canned mushrooms, garlic, and onion powder along with a bit of soy sauce and cooked about 5 minutes. I placed some ofthis mixture onto a pasta wrapper and did the fiddley things I illustrate in the following pictures.
Once the wrap had filling in it I folded in the pasta wrap corners like an envelope. Then I pushed the veggies in the open portion of the envelope down and gently rolled. I ripped the wrap on the first one I did trying to get a tight wrap... a tight wrap isn't necessary. I non-stick pan "fried"my wraps, so they ended up flatened instead of round like the deep fat dried wraps at restaurants, but they were sealed and I could dip them into the sauce of my choice. Our favorite sauce choices were Newsman's Own Lite Sesame Ginger Dressing, Catalina, and plain soysauce.

After making the envelope I simply rolled it and cooked it seam side down on a hot lightly oiled flat griddle. After cooking the first couple I realized that the sides looked dry so I sprayed the roll with water from my mister bottle and then cooked each side until it looked browned and edible to my tastes. I liked these rolls, but will want to shred my cabbage much finer next time and may want to season my inside veggie mix to be more suitable to my tastes.... but then the dip is what gave the majority of the flavor, so maybe I'll just keep it simple anyway.