Sunday, September 24, 2006

Robin Hood and the merry first day


Here is Matt's costume from the renaissance fair last weekend. He has been eyeing a big long cloak on e-bay that he thinks he would like to add if he ever desires a more "royal" presentation, $180 (dori gulps). He discovered that there was a Tuesday night sword practice two months prior to the fair for any volunteers that wanted to come each weekend for various performances, if they did they were admitted free. He desires to try this next year and hopes to stay in the area where he is attending school now.

The first day of school is a favorite time to take pictures. Dave snapped one of me before I left last Monday. It seems like the living room door is the best place to snap pictures, any place else in our house causes light glares in the pictures due to the placement of our windows plus I like the greenery to be a part of the background. My first week went well, despite the unexpected I enjoyed it. Of course every teacher needs a bag with a packed lunch inside. Onto a little of the food we ate last week. ...

I tried Dreena's Coconut Creme Pie, page 193 in Everyday Vegan. I subbed stevia for sugar and the family enjoyed the pieces of pie that I didn't eat... :) This pie reminded me of a Mounds candy bar, so i sprinkled some toasted coconut on top of it and drizzled it with a little melted dark chocolate.

I also enjoyed a tofutti cream cheese and craisin sandwich that I took for lunch one day, different but good for a change. I had it packed with a romaine lettuce, roasted beet, and shredded carrot salad with a small container of balsamic vinaigrette.

From page 155 in Bryanna's Nonna's Italian Kitchen Cookbook. She says, "Don't ask - it's delicious anyways, sort of an Italian ratatouille with potatoes added. Can be served hot or cold. Maybe you still have fresh garden produce in your area that you can make it. Last week our gardening season ended with a hard frost, you'd never know considering the very nice weather we've been having yesterday and today. The picture is of the stew before being cooked in my crock pot. I served this with some fresh
baked bread.... but I used Vivacious Vegan's idea and baked them in muffin tins.

I give you my variation of this recipe. Place all of the following into the crock pot.
1 lb eggplant cut into small cubes
1 large potato
1 carrot, cut into fingers
1 stick celery, diced
1 large zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 large green pepper, seeded and cut into squares
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 vegetable broth cube (I use Knorr Vegetarian Vegetable)
2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes (
  • I cleaned mine in the sink and took off the stem, then gave them a whirl in my blender. My family doesn't mind the skins on them when I do this)
a small handful of fresh rosemary and Italian parsley, chopped
1 tsp salt
a little fresh ground black pepper

Another last week lunch......
This LRM (Romaine lettuce, red pepper and sweet mustard) Wrap was delish along side of Dreena's Chickpea Mash Stew from Everyday Vegan page 84... the picture of the stew behind the wrap is to dark to see, but I liked it. Dave is not a chickpea fan, so he opened a jar of white chili that I pressure canned awhile ago instead. The soup is handy right now. I will be endeavoring to use my slow cooker more over the next several weeks so that dinner can be ready as soon as or shortly after I get home.

Last lunchbox idea from last week...
My favorite chili sin carne( I use TVP), a couple of "muffin" rolls , slices of cucumber and some fruit . The fruit was actually for morning break, I have a late lunch time, 12:28.

I wish you all a wonderful week. I am looking forward to homecoming week.... they have spirit days planned, I'm not sure that I will participate except maybe superhero day I could wear Melissa's shirt (no cape and no teensy red shorts). I do intend to buy the school's sweatshirt so I can show a little team pride.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

soup bread wraps and a sad dog

We have had our first frost here, which means we have harvested the last of our tomatoes from the garden. Although I have a tomato soup recipe that I absolutely adore (recipe here), I tried Dreena's roasted tomato soup. It is good and nice for a change. A little work with the roasting time involved. I think I prefer my previous tomato soup better, link above.

I also made "Brian's Bread". Bryanna (see Vegan Feast link on my sidebar) husband bakes bread for customers. This bread has oatmeal and whole grain flour in it. He uses a method in which the oven is on at 500 degrees when the bread is added, when bread goes in spray with a mister bottle, and bake for 5 minutes. Turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake for18-20 minutes more. I have never tried this before, but now I have been baking it this way with all of the breads I have made in the past two weeks. I love the crackle. If you notice my bread pictures, the end of one loaf is never there. I am a hopeless bread lover,I can't help myself... I cut the end off of one loaf as soon as the bread comes out of the oven to eat it.

Another new thing I tried this week is Dreena's zucchini pepper pizza from the Everyday Vegan cookbook. I added a bit a frozen Gruyere cheese (a Bryanna subscription recipe) for the family, I prefer mine without cheese usually. The zucchini pepper stir fry combo was the best! I really enjoyed this meal.

Here's a lunchbox. A wonderful wrap told about above, Newman's pretzel's and pineapple. I have many pictures of lunchboxes taken this week, but I'll have to wait for this weekend to get the best ones blogged. Matt will be home Friday and I will be able to get a pix of his Renaissance costume. He purchased a hat this year and a wooden sword to go with his costume. Gradually he increases his costume, perhaps some year he will find a fair maiden to make his mama happy with. :) Okay, I might want him to be happy with her too.
Pup looks a little on edge here. She says she would like the cats/ kittens adopted soon because they are cramping her style.
The pregnant cat Sophie has now taken a spare room that pup used to enjoy for a short while , Pup is :(

We are trying to cheer her with extra attention, but she's not quite comfortable with the intrusion. However, she is a very mild tempered pup and never gets aggressive. My week is going well, keeps me a little busier than I have been since I am away from home during the days. I can't say a whole lot about it on my blog. One unfortunate event was that I experienced a bomb threat and saw policy and preparedness plan in action. Nothing happened and it was a low level threat, but precautions had to be taken anyway.

Matt called this evening and said he got a 50% on a test (oh no!), but was allowed to retake it today and got an 85%. I probably should help him out with a few study skills this weekend.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Karate Taco Salad Over Easy (mended)

Mended Taco TVP meet link.
I hope to be posting a picture of Matthew's renaissance costume soon, the fair was this weekend. I did not go but Matthew and Melissa did. He bought a wooden sword and a robin hood hat to add to his costume. It was a windy and sunny day, he also got a bad sunburn on his face and his nose is blistering. :(

Taco Salad
Last week I did another canning session. I made stufado (basic Italian stew) from Bryanna's Nonna's Italian Kitchen Cookbook, brown basmati rice, TVP taco meat, gingered pear butter, and avjar (red pepper & eggplant salsa). The pear butter did not need to be pressure canned, but I had room and processed it under pressure like I did the rest for 1 hour 15 minutes. I also canned 4 pints of pears and stevia sweetened apple butter in my steam canner (like a hot water bath but uses less water and I like it better). These fruits take 20 minutes.

The lunch above is Guiltless Gourmet corn chips, taco meet on salad with purple onions, kalamata olives and red pepper, with a little chocolate.

Melissa will be testing for her first degree taekwondo black belt this evening. This picture is when she dressed for "celebrity" day at the public school. She taped a sign to her back that says "Chuck Norris" 8th degree black belt.

No cookie baking was made this weekend with the renaissance fair going on. She also is involved in a play and has had musical practice every night of the week, in addition to her normal routine of school crossing guard, Taekwondo, piano, church youth group, and Friday night home football games. So there will be no cookies baked by her this week either. We get to eat a family supper together Wednesday night this week.... we will eat supper together that night! Not all kids can handle a schedule like this, but Melissa seems to be able to. She is partly home schooled still which allows her a little extra time since she only goes to the school for a few select classes. We received her last years test results not long ago and she tests at an average grade level of 16-18, at age 15, I think this has been due to her home school environment. I could preach you the praises of homeschooling but I'll spare you the hours. :)

I have been taking a few classes and a part of my goal was a secondary ed teaching license in Family and Consumer Science. My time to student teach is here, I start today. I packed three lunchboxes yesterday (Dave, Melissa, and Mine). I'm excited, anxious, prepared, and a whole mix of emotion that I cannot yet identify.

The little kitten we were feeding is growing. I have all of the kittens pictures on my other blog - the feline pal family.

We named "cream puff" TED.
Ted likes to sleep on his back.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Super No Bake Cookies

I won't explain. I'm just going to say she takes after her mama.
(Homecoming week at the public school, school spirit dress up day).

So why would I claim super powers? Because my husband says I am fabulous, marvelous, and absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to him. Why would he say such a thing? Because I veg'd his childhood favorite sugary, fatty no bake cookies.

Drumroll and recipe please:

1/2 C Earth Balance Stick
1/2 C soymilk (Ooops I forgot to type this in on the first publish)
1 C organic sucanat sugar
1/2 C white beet sugar or ant granulated sugar
1/2 C Sunspire vegan chocolate chips to carob chips
1/4 C carob or cocoa powder
1/2 C nut butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick cook oatmeal

Lay out a piece of parchment paper to set cookies on. Melt the earth balance and add remaining ingredients except the oatmeal. Bring mixture to a boil. Boil exactly one minute (use timer) and stir in oatmeal. Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper. Allow to cool and they will set. NOTE: You could just add 2 cups of sugar instead of the sucanat, white beet sugar, and chips - that is the way the original recipe was written.

What else have we been eating?
Dreena Recipes

Spicy Thai Stew and Carrot Zucchini Crumb Casserole. I loved the soup, it has a little bite, but we weren't to big on the casserole (read: I had ate it for several days and froze the leftovers.)

What goes in a lunch?
The infamous peanut butter and jelly sandwich, raspberries (homegrown with a sprinkle of Florida crystals, and those most unhealthy, but easy cookies above.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pepper Jelly (low sugar) and Pear Butter

Another great product....
Occasionally I find fruits / veggies at the supermarket that need to be used up right away, so they are really cheap. If I have the time to deal with them (sometimes if the price is right, I stay up at night making the time), I always take advantage of the deal. I happened across a bunch of cheap - read free - yellow and red Hungarian wax peppers (mild/ medium heat) at Harvey Floral (in-laws business). The colors were so bright I knew that these would make a beautiful jelly.

The recipe I followed came directly from the package instruction sheet that comes inside a box of Pomona's Pectin. I ordered this in a cost saving two pound bulk amount four years ago and it still works great, shelf life is indefinite. According to the instructions and recipe sheet this can also be used as a fat free homemade salad dressing thickener. I tried it once several years ago and it worked... I now use xanthan gum for this because I do gluten free baking sometimes and usually have it on hand, but now back on topic.

When I first ordered this pectin I made some fresh grape jelly that began to form crystals... yeah, real crystals. I called the Jam-line (this is listed on their web page) and talked to the owner of this small business. She helped me find out why this was so and problem solved with me. I even heard her stirring up a batch of jam in the background! With so much abundance of fresh fruit and veggies around us, it is so easy to make your own NATURAL (I use stevia) low sugar or all fruit jellies/ jams. Plus, each box of pectin comes with full directions on making a wide variety of jam flavors using a variety of methods. For 25 Cents more I sent in to get another recipe page (this may cost a bit more now since postage have increased).

I give this product several money saving finger licks and no I don't receive any financial benefit for saying this. In support of small businesses, I highly recommend you try your hand at making some jelly using this natural pectin. The really cool thing about doing this is that you can let your creative energy flow by making your jam to suit your taste and dietary needs.

USES: I like to serve this jam on cornbread (like a dessert) when I make chili. It is also good on top of whole grain crackers schmeared with some soy cream cheese. I noticed that Vicki at the vegetarian family blog made some with habenero peppers awhile ago (woooo-wee... pretty hot for me) and offers other serving ideas.

More about PEARS.
I just got three new cookbooks (thanks to my older but shorter sis for the birthday present gift certificate!). One is Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker By Robin Robertson. She has a recipe in there for crock pot GINGERED PEAR BUTTER. It's not to heavy on the sugar nor the ginger. This pear butter is delish on toast/ pancakes/ waffles in the morning and rice cream in the evening! I made this with the last of the pears that were given to me ... they ripened to fast for me to do much else with.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pear Upside Down Cake

A gal at church brought me a bag of pears from her tree. They were little and I knew would ripen / go soft very fast, so I tried to put them to a use right away. I made this pear cake, which I think the pear and ginger combination is wonderful. It is a gingerbread over my own creation of pear pie filling. The recipe evolved from three different cookbooks, butI know if you saw any of the original recipe(s) you would not know that I used the idea of it in my cake.

I prefer my "desserts" to be of meal quality because if I make it I want to eat it and moderation is not something I want to think alot about... I want to enjoy it and I want want to live a very long time so that I can enjoy it many, many times. My standards are: must not be full of sugar or syrups, if oil then a little of a good oil, fiberous yet easy to eat. I can always make a tofu smoothie or drink soymilk to go with any grain and fruit meal to make it high in protein, or have protein at another meal. In this recipe I use spelt. The gingerbread recipe that follows can be used as a muffins or cake to.

3/4 C of your favorite wet sweetener (I use sorghum)
3/4 C plus 2 Tbsp soymilk
1/2 C applesauce
2 Tbsp light virgin olive or organic canola oil
1/2 tsp KAL stevia (see my side bar for link to info)

2 cups spelt flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp rumford baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp apple pie spice (or good quality cinnamon)
1/2 tsp ginger powder (or try a couple teaspoons minced fresh for a nice flavor boost)

Combine wet and dry separately. Stir wet into dry until just mixed. Pour over pear pie filling in an 9x12 cake pan, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

6 cups diced pears
1/4 tsp KAL stevia
1/4 cup applesauce
2 1/2 Tbsp quick cooking tapioca
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Combine and place in the bottom of a 9x12 cake pan.

This is a few seitan strips, veggie broth flavored brown rice with a little red pepper, avjar (balkan salsa of roasted red pepper and eggplant) and the feature dish - pear upside down cake.

The babies have their eyes open, check them out.
Kittens with eyes open

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sourdough starter and bread

I started a new batch of sourdough for bread making last week. I had one last year, but I let it die :(

... fortunately this is not to hard to start. A little live culture soy yogurt, some flour, warm water and a wide mouth quart canning jar. Bryanna at vegan feast wrote this note on her 8-14-06 post. "If you are unfamiliar with sourdough, write to me at and I'll send you my vegan sourdough file. I have two sourdough starters, which are very reliable." I can agree with this statement. I made the yogurt starter version and it is easy and very active. It is the same recipe I used to make my starter last year. When this starter is active it can make a well risen loaf of bread without yeast.

Although I have a small kitchenaid like mixer, a bread machine, and the ability too make bread by hand, I prefer my BOSCH Universal. See the picture of it beside. I have two of these machines at the bakehouse and one in my home (along with two microburst grain mills for freah milled whole grain flour). For the past four summers I have made a variety of 75-100 loaves of organic whole grain (freshly miled from the wheat berry) loaves of bread a week. I took this summer off, but my BOSCH Universals are going strong. This was one of the first major kitchen appliance investments that I made (after a stove and frig), it is a time saver and absolutely wonderful. I can make 6 loaves of basic whole grain yeasted bread in 1 1/2 hours including clean... one time a week bread for the week and my cost... less than 50 cents a loaf. For my family of four, one loaf a day (sometimes more) is common.

I used the first (usually thrown out) of the starter removed from the jar to make bread even though the instructions say throw away. In the bread I do use yeast because my starter was so young and did not have enough "life" to raise the loaf, but it did give it that yummy sourdough taste. In this picture you see my loaf AND my jar of starter. I am now refreshing it daily. This bread uses up 1 1/2 cup of starter, leaving just enough to add 1 more cup of water and 1 cup of flour. This starter is made with spelt, but I have refreshed starter using white all purpose wheat four, fresh milled whole grain white hard wheat as well as red hard wheat, have tried it with a little rye added. I personally like my bread to have more of a tang, so I try to add a tablespoon of rye now and again when I refresh my starter.

European Dark Bread
This is really my favorite bread, almost... next to sourdough kalamata olive bread or roasted garlic bread and even then a good raisin walnut is a delight. :) This bread can be made into a round loaf, but because my family likes square sandwiches I made it in a large loaf pan. This bread is made so that it has a very hard thick crust, like a good dark european loaf but yet a soft tender inside. A good sharp bread knife is required to saw through this. Sometimes I "paint" the top with a little cornstarch/water mix and add a mix of seeds (poppy, sesame, flax) for decoration.

Add 1 ½ cups sourdough starter or start a poolish 24 hours before making the bread.
POOLISH: Put in a glass jar 1 ½ cups warm water and a pinch of yeast plus 1 cup unbleached bread flour. Mix well and let stand at room temperature covered for 24 hours. Place in a heavy duty mixer bowl equipped with dough hooks along with the following:

all of the poolish/ starter
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp flax seed
1 Tbsp sesame seed
3 Tbsp pumpkin seed (or sunflower seed)
2 Tbsp carob powder (or cocoa powder)
1/3 C cracked multi-grain cereal
(like that you would buy from Paul’s grains at the farmer’s market)
2 Tbsp millet
4 cups whole grain flour
(I use Montana Gold hard white wheat flour... Many coops and better grocery stores
now carry this brand and variation of whole wheat flour)
1 Tbsp yeast

* unbleached organic bread flour approximately 1 ½ - 2 cups, to be used in the final mixing step

Mix on low speed and then begin adding the unbleached bread flour 1 cup at a time until you have a soft, workable dough and the dough is cleaning the sides of the mixer bowl. Knead for 8 minutes on medium speed. Remove dough to an oiled bowl and let sit covered with oiled plastic wrap for 1 hour. Punch down dough and divide and shape dough into loaf size portions. Grease two standard loaf pans, add dough. Let loaves sit on top of oven while it is preheating (425 degrees), allow to rise until loaf size has doubled. Bake bread in a hot oven for about 35-40 minutes. You want a loaf that is nearly over baked, but not burned. This gives the loaf a thick hard crust with a chewy inside like a traditional European loaf should have.

I GAVE A LOAF OF THIS BREAD DECORATIVELY WRAPPED IN A BASKET AS A WEDDING GIFT FOR A NEIGHBOR SATURDAY. The gift tag was a recipe that included a picture of the bread along with an invitation for the bride to stop by and pick up some of my starter for use if she ever wanted to make this bread.

I like the NORPRO waffle weave non stick bread pan. They are made in 8", 10", and 12" size. I I use these pans for the bread I make at the Bakehouse. All it takes is a little canola spray in each of these pans and the loaf will come right out. My pans have been used hundreds of times and they are still in great condition. Also, I do not wash my bread pans after each use unless I making something sticky.

Friday, September 08, 2006

You all guessed it...

Blogger won't let me post a picture right now, so I'll make today's entry brief while I bring my photo's in the more time consuming way.


LESLIE at EAT PEACE PLEASE posted her guesses within minutes of my post. She guessed all but one, but later came back with a page number for the #3 mystery: P 96 Molasses Baked Beans. KAJI'S MOM was the first to guess #3 as molasses baked beans.

Thanks to others who participated:
Veronica at Primary Consumer
Johanna 3 in Puerto Rico
Cherie at Utopian Kitchen (non beta, but post as anonymous)


Another shout out to my new blog to receive an interesting view of the foster kittens and other abandoned cats I have staying with me. The cream puff is still alive, still bottle fed, and seems to be the "runt" of the bunch. I think cream puff is a she . . . not positive because they are so little. She is also non competitive and still won't compete for food, but she does take the bottle. The other three are doing fine.

Matthew will be home this afternoon and we will be starting on his renaissance faire costume.


Melissa took a carob bread machine sandwich (recipe from Weenie at Live It Up Vegan) with almond butter and bananas on it, salad with tomatoes, candied peanuts, and cantaloupe pieces.

Have a great weekend all. I'll be away crafting. Maybe I'll have a picture of Matt's costume when I come back. Please know non beta blogs if you do not accept anonymous posts I cannot post, but I am still reading.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


KITTEN UPDATE: I am really into being a foster meow-mie and decided to start a blog for them. It may generate some interest in fostering animals in need within our county. If you'd like a report on the felines we are fostering check them out at:
MELISSA'S LUNCH: TLC whole grain crackers**, salsa that we canned, a few good quality kalamata olives, and Dreena Cookies from the Everyday Vegan a basic chocolate chip but they use more oat flour and very little refined flour. They have a bit more crunch than the homestyle cookies in Vive le Vegan. Either one is excellent, but I think this one is more nutritious. I can't believe I am saying this but there really is some nutrition here - I decided to have a couple of these for breakfast and didn't feel bad about it at all. The only thing I felt bad about is that we eat them so fast here and supply does not equal demand. We have also discovered that Melissa is a cookie perfectionist. All her cookies are beautiful and she poses here with them in the same.

**I personally prefer corn chips with my salsa, for some reason Melissa prefers crackers with salsa for her lunch (heartier maybe).

I'd have to say that this has been and is continuing to be a Dreena week. What we have made thus far...
Post your guess to what these Vivie Le Vegan Dreena dishes are in the comments box. I'll betcha can't guess them all four right. Winners will get a free kitten of their choice in seven weeks.... okay, not really. But I'll give the winner a great big happy shout out in my next post. :) Perhaps next time I do something like this the winner may get to name a kitten. :o). Hey .. the next generation of virtual pet! (she says wild with ideas, but now finally signing off).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ramblings of a FOSTER MEOWMIE

You read that right, foster mom to a cat with 5 kittens that are less than one week old. I am a hopeless. My mom scolded me when I was young for bringing home every furry four legged thing that would come when I said, "Here, little one". Dave has reminded me that we cannot , no CAN NOT adopt every stray four legged animal that presents itself on our front porch and no we cannot put food there claiming that I don't know why it hangs around. :(

I'm not, I didn't, I'm innocent and I plea the fifth! It's all my neighbor's fault. She brought her troubled self to my back door and knocked yesterday. I should have known she was trouble, after all my Bible tells me somewhere that "Though shalt not answer the door when those pesky neighbors of yours come knocking"... okay maybe I paraphrased that some (read: I made it up). She said, "I need your help." I should have slammed the door in her face immediately, but no - I take the bait and say, "What's up." Long story short, a couple moved out of her rental house and left several cats. One of which had kittens less than a week old SOMEWHERE in the basement. She's allergic to cats and has a baby to take care of. Well, I did what every other sensitive animal caring person would do and found the kittens, mother cat, a pure white older cat, along with it's pal a yellow striped one. When I finished and had them all snug in the back of my 4x4 raider, I claimed defeat and told her that my husband was going to send her hate mail. She happily agreed to accept it and said, "Thank you."

When Dave got home I had to fess up. It was kind of hard to keep it hidden when I had a sign on the bathroom door boldly proclaiming OCCUPIED, USE OTHER BATHROOM ... I stood hopelessly guilty and was caught cat handed. My sis has the other two older cats and I have a momma cat and five less than a week old baby kittens.

I never told you all this but the last kitten we had (the no named one), ended up becoming the kitten of another person who was looking for a good house cat. No name was good for that, so we let him go.

Now I have six animal friends in my bathroom with no name. Since I knew we could not keep them, I called a local stray animal organization (PALS) and let them know of the situation. Our county does not have a shelter so they recruit volunteers. I agreed to FOSTER the cats and they agreed to do whatever they could to find adoptive homes. Yeah! Melissa is happily accepting the assignment. Dave is agreeable and PALS are my pals, such a redeeming organization... now, cleansed from my wrong doing I can happily go about fostering these babies too.

Send good vibes this way that momma cat will feel comfortable and take care of the babies since we had to pull them out of her nest. I have been trying to keep the bathroom environment quiet so she will feel comfortable in these new surroundings. Today she seems very friendly but I could tell yesterday that she was a bit freaked out, more interested in eating and wanted to be left alone more than anything else. The vet said call for food supplement if I hear the babies crying non stop, if they do that it means that momma is not adjusting well and not caring for them.


Dave took this video last night. This little one was cold to the touch and very lethargic for the last six hours, but yet alive. We drove 10 miles to the vet clinic office (after hours emergency service) to get special kitty formula to try to make this one eat. It wouldn't respond to it's mama's licking when we left and it wouldn't compete for food. This video clip was taken when we returned home.

Dave managed to get a whole 1 Tbsp down it, but it wouldn't suck. We then took it back to it's mom and discovered a little yellow tiger stripe one had suffocated by the mama lying on it. Dave was heartbroken and held it for more than 15 minutes trying to get it to "wake up". We were both shocked that the one we were sure was going to die was still alive and one that was lively and active died.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Lunchbox Black bottom Pie & Dumplings

CANNING: (link to my favorite canning info site)
If I have inspired you to can anything that I did from yesterday please know that I have a pressure canner. A water bath canner will NOT work for the rice, TVP strips and black eyed peas. Yesterday, Melissa and I made 9 pints of salsa, 1 pint of diced tomatoes and 3 pints of tomato juice. I still have about 25 pounds of roma and early girl tomatoes to do something with. I will make tomato soup to pressure can with half of these ... probably this afternoon and maybe KETCHUP or BBQ sauce with the roma's that are there tommorrow.

A creamy lunch for a cooler day. We made chik'n stew (carrots, celery, onions, garlic included) and cooked dumplings over them last night, this is the yellow stuff in the round container. I tried Vegan with a Vengeance Black Bottom Pie, only I really messed with the recipe. I am not a purist when it comes to all processed flour treats, but massive quantities of sugar just really makes me climb the walls or worse bounce of them. I nixed the sugar in this pie and cut the oils, nut butter .... you ask if there was anything good left? Well, yes. The stuff in the square container. The sunflower seeds really gave a pronounced flavor, Dave loved it, Melissa wished it tasted more peanuty... I thought it was medicore but loved the semisweet chocolate on the crust. To complete a lunch, pop the lids closed and throw in a bottle of mint herbal tea slightly sweetened with stevia. Melissa tasted the tea and said, "Hey! I like that this will give me fresh breath." After I took the picture I added a few celery sticks to this lunch.

This was a fun one to do. I pulled out the chocolate chips again and made a graham cracker crust using the Ryvita rye crackers, 1 1/2 crushed cups full - the magic bullet did a fine job of this. I prefer Dreena's crumb crust recipe using 1/4 cup maple syrup and 2 Tbsp olive oil. My sis made this crust using sugar free commercial pancake syrup and applesauce, she says it turned out okay. I baked it just a bit to get it to hold it's shape, but VwaV cookbook adds 1 Tbsp soymilk to make it softer and says to just press it all in the pie pan. Then I melted the 1/4 cup chips with 2 Tbsp soymilk and brushed it into the bottom of the crust. Refrigerate until hardened. I forgot to use the remaining as a drizzle, so I added shredded chcolate to the top of my pie.

The filling recipe I used was a total remake of the original recipe also. I threw the following into the blender and pureed until smooth (I use a BOSCH kitchen center with a very powerful blender attachment, but this should work with most blenders, esp the ice crushing kind).
1 - 12.3 oz box mori-nu lite silken tofu
2/3 C soymilk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup sunflower seeds, mine were salted
I suppose you could use any nut here, the
original recipe called for this much peanutbutter
1/2 cup very hot water with 1 Tbsp agar granules/ powder dissolved into it
VwaV says 3 Tbsp, but they must have meant the flakes
or something, that would be a HUGE amount of the granules
1 tsp KAL brand stevia (this will make it very sweet, you could reduce)
1 1/2 cups of sugar is the amount called for with the VwaV recipe.
I consider 1 scant tsp KAL brand stevia extract to be the equivalent
of 1 cup worth of powerful sweetness
Pour into the hardened and chilled pie shell. Allow to set for at least three hours, better to allow it to go overnight. I sprinkled chocolate crumbs/ shavings on the top.

The gave the dumpling stew dish a nice protein boost while the chocolate chips gave it the satisfaction of a dessert. One meal and lunchboxes for three = empty pie pan!

Poor Matthew didn't even get to try a bite of this pie and he is the one who pointed it out to me. He went through his first week of school well and with only a few problems. While he is at school he stays with Dave's dad during the week and comes home on the weekend (semi- independant). We went around the city and the campus a few times prior to the first day with him so he had no problem finding what he needed. They have a nice exercise facility that limits membership so it doesn't get crowded, we are trying to persuade him to join so he can swim... right now he's not interested. He really likes his classes and teachers are really great. He's in an area he enjoys. When he is done he will be able to take the test for A+ certification as well as two others for software (computer networking and technology). Plus he gets to work at grandpa's greenhouse a couple of hours each morning.

Problems included forgotting meds a couple of days (but hopefully we've worked out a method that will help him remember) ... he has asthma and takes an attention med. He ate to much white flour and something he ate at school must have had dairy so he is having a skin reaction this weekend (major uncomfortable, so we have been doctoring him)... when his body has to fight with food issues his immune system lowers, so he also has an infection on his toe and must wear an opened toe shoe this week. He's looking forward to going back this week.

The Renaissance Faire is at an area near us for the upcomming two weekends. Matthew is into this period of history. We shopped JoAnn's Fabrics this weekend and purchased him a pattern and material to make a Legalos (Lord of the Rings) costume. He was so excited he cut his paper pattern peices out last night. We plan to work on getting the pattern onto the material next weekend. There was such a good sale there that I also purchased a pattern and material for a skirt, two shirts, and another jumper with all the notions as well as a pattern for a bathroom decor ... sink, shower, and window curtain. I got all of my stuff for less than $26. I know I won't be able to work on mine until Christmas vacation and even then I will be making that matching purse for my brown birthday outfit first.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Canning hotline, quote, and pizza

I just realized that blogger no longer allows readers to search a blogs and get previous entries. It looks like readers have a ten post window to read it or that's it - no more access to it anymore. There is a search feature on the new beta blogger dashboard that allows me to search former posts to bring them up for reference though. Speaking of the new beta blogger... I can no longer comment on your blog if you have not upgraded, however I just finished catching up reading all I usually read. Nice nails Tanya. The soy whipped cream looks gorgeous on that pumpkin smoothie Laura. Kate, sorry your apple dish tasted bad, it sure looked pretty.

My pita pizza plate. I took a New Jerusalem organic whole grain pita and topped it with some tasty yums including some leftover white chedda' and broiled.... a fast fix and one of our family favorites. I quartered my pizza, placed a salad with Balsamic dressing in the center, and garnished with dried currants. The yums this time included 1/2 a Lightlife zesty Italian s'sage thinly sliced into rounds and canned sliced mushrooms.

LUNCHBOX (pita pizza round 2): For the lunch box I cut a pita in half and wrapped it separate. The sliced s'sage, sauce, and cheez were put into a container to be heated, stirred and added to the inside of the pita. The currants (like little raisins) were in a separate small container and the salad was sprinkled with sunflower seeds in a slightly larger round container. The sauce gets a small container of it's own so it can be dipped or added right before eating, soggy salad greens are yucky. My favorite dressing is a balsamic vinegrette (like Newman's lite brand, but I make my own). Dave and the kids like a Ranch style dressing best ... have both and each family member will feel like you love them best. :)

I also found another great lunchbox tool. They are bendable ice blankets to fit in your box any way you need them to. Here is a LINK TO AMAZON so you can see them, but I got mine at a grocery store for 99 cents a blanket.

Professional consumer and family scientists answer questions about child development, cleaning, consumer management, food preparation, food preservation, food safety, home environment, household equipment, nutrition, textiles and laundry.
That would include canning. I am canning salsa today.

I called the hot line listed above today and asked about which method of canning would be required to process apple pie filling using wheat flour. I discovered wheat flour is not recommended because it will break down and not maintain it's thickness. WOW! Glad I called I had two jars with lots of work in dicing apples ready to go - what a waste of work that would have been. CLEAR JEL is recommended for canning. Freeze your favorite apple pie filling recipe if you must use wheat.... okay, I know and now you know too.

Here's a canning idea of a different color:

On the left is TVP chucks/ strips (chik'n style and B*fy strips). On the right.... gourmet rice blend and black eyed peas... both fully cooked in the jar, I added the grains and peas raw, salt, and hot water. I cooked all 1 hour 30 minutes just to be VERY safe, a pint with legumes usually requires 1 hr 15 minutes. The rice was sticky, but very edible. I like the B**fy strips. I get them from Country Life Natural Foods, see link at my side bar. I want to try their soy curls sometime, I've seen others rave about them, but that will wait until I need to place another order.
Here I added b**fy strips and the canned gourmet rice to a lettuce and cabbage salad drizzled with balsamic dressing. I like that all I had to do was open the jar. I was also thinking the strips would make some great fajitas as well as a good stir-frt with broccoli.

I wouldn't rate my salad wonderful, but for a change and the ability to try something new ... it worked! It could use a little shredded carrot and sliced black olives for color. :)

A QUOTE TODAY: To cook is to create create and to create , well .... is an act of integrity and faith. I think I read this on some monk bread baking site a few years ago, the author was unknown. I like it, thanks unknown author!