Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cranberry Relish and a table full of food

This is a picture of Thursday's leftovers and the food I set out for my sis who was coming in from New York on Friday. On the peninsula top from left to right: I made Bryanna's chedda' cheese (the recipe that uses tahini) with crackers spread around it, soy and seitan roulade slices, corn from our freezer (we grew), romaine salad with purple onion/ carrots/radish slices, an apple slices tray with a sweetened soy cream cheese dip, seedilicious bread slices, (foldable table): potatoes (we grew and canned these), squash/ pear/ cranberry baked dish, sun dried tomato stuffing, Dori's favorite fresh Cranberry Relish, gray bowl had pickled cauliflower/ carrots/ red peppers (we grew these and I pickled them for the county fair), and a wonderful fabulous Pumpkin Tunnel Cake from Bryanna's latest vegan feast newsletter.

Place the following into the food processor and chop to the size of rice:
1 lb package fresh whole cranberries
1-2 peeled oranges, removing most of the pith
2 Tbsp orange zest (fresh if using organic oranges)
1-2 medium apple, cored
Add the following to a medium mixing bowl along with the processed mixture above:
1/2 C crushed pineapple (more if you desire or omit and add one more apple to processor in step above)
1/2 C chopped pecans or light English walnuts (I use 2 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (opt)
  • opt 2 tsp fresh ginger minced - I use this when I can or cinnamon when I'm out
1/2 - 1 cup sweetener of your choice
  • OR 1 tsp KAL brand stevia powder = 1 generous cup of sweetness*
  • I use KAL brand stevia, it is not bitter like other brands I have tried. One could easily use their choice of sweetener.
Combine well. Allow flavors to meld one hour.

Whenever I find a great buy on cranberries I make a bunch of this up and freeze it in addition to just freezing the berries. I add it to muffins, put it in salad dressing, and directly onto the salad when I want color. I also add it to sandwiches, stir into my morning oatmeal, and top cornbread with it for an interesting change. Even after it has been frozen it has an acceptable texture. As you can tell this is my favorite. I made a variation of this last year that had cumin and jalapeno peppers in it, yet was still sweet. We place it in a tray over the top of soy cream cheese and surrounded it with crackers.

Here's a close up of the tunnel cake before I drizzled it with a thickened powdered sugar drizzle tweaked with a bit of almond extract. For the cake I adjusted the recipe and made mine sugar free. The cake batter recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, I used 1/2 cup of applesauce to replace the bulk of the sugar and 1 tsp KAL brand stevia. The filling is made with a cashew / silken tofu blend and is also sweetened with stevia (no applesauce filler). It turned out very well.

I tried something new this year: PUMPKIN BUTTER
In the crock pot and from the book by Robin Robertson, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow cooker. Mine is sweetened with the KAL stevia extract in place of sugar and it is fabulous! Matthew made carob chip pancakes for breakfast Thursday morning. It was my niece's birthday so we invited her up to eat breakfast with us and we used the pumpkin butter to top them with ... what a grand feast.

About eight years ago I was depressed and went through a soul searching time. Prior to this time I claimed a religion but fell prey to the Santa Claus and materialistic ways of the world. More than materialistic ways I realized that there was a lot about holidays that I didn't like, so I began to change. I am still connected to my spiritual roots, but I realized that I wanted the holidays to express our connection, not distance and cheap gifts to be returned the next day nor the debt to be paid away on until April AND I wanted to anticipate the "connection" just as much as my children. Here's are some of my favorite changes:

I bake. From now until the first of the year I will bake every imaginable goodie (some I will freeze and we will enjoy these throughout February). My kids do to.... the most important part of my holiday is sharing and it is expected at each holiday gathering or meal that they bring something. This Thanksgiving Melissa made the apple dip and sliced the apples. Matthew took the corn from the freezer and cooked it. Dave washes up, pulls out special dishes, sweeps, and cuts/slices, rearranges, etc. ... he always leads our family into a prayer of thanks and continued blessings before we eat. They both will make something substantial at Christmas time also. Last Christmas season Melissa chocolate's a BUNCH of goodies, we splurged on an after the holiday sale of "the chocolate factory" from the year before and stored it away. Matthew made a crock pot corn pudding and muffins and cleaned up Melissa's chocolate tools (with his tongue).

Now begins the "holidays" in my family. I will share more about our holiday practices as well as food in the upcoming weeks. For now I will get this posted and prepare for the day.

I hope this post has found you with much to be thankful for!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Family Food and Fun

That's what the holidays are about for me. It is satisfying to create a yummy, pretty, or unique food. My family knows that this is what makes my holiday - - - that and seeing them also learn the skills needed to make a day special. For these things I am thankful.

So starting with family...

Melissa's thumb is healed and she was able to participate in a sparring tournament. She brought home a third place trophy and a really cool medallion for participating.

Her teacher was impressed because they didn't plan on her to spar due to her thumb but the little rascal did it anyways... fortunately she was two days away from Dr release and didn't re- injure it.

My darling DH built me a fold down table attached to the peninsula (yes, normal people have kitchen islands, but my kitchen has a peninsula due to a cold air exchange vent required by our furnace). When I am baking I can lift it up and place my cooling racks on it or when we have family gatherings we can use it as a buffet serving table. Here it is in the down position. Today it is in the up position because I have food everywhere.

I love Bryanna's seitan roulades for a holiday meal. I used a roasted vegetable and sun dried tomato stuffing inside the poultry style seitan. I am going to display the pictures in the order of the seitan making process.

Picture one: Rolling out the seitan roast dough. My current roulade recipe says to cut it in half and make two roulades. I make one large roast though and use my clay cooker to do it in.

Picture two: The uncooked dough rolled up with the stuffing inside of it. I pinch the seitan dough to create a seal and then poke it with a fork five times on the top and then three times on each side.

Picture three: The cooked roast. I cook it for three hours in the soaked clay cooker at 350 degrees F. Then I open the lid, spoon the remaining juice over the top, recover it, and turn the off the oven to let it sit for 1/2 to one hour. Then I take two large pancake spatulas to pry it away from the sides and lift it onto a large oval platter.

Picture four: Here's the roast cut in half. I love the festive swirl of stuffing.

Picture five: A close up of the swirl.

Picture six: A close up of the roasted vegetable stuffing. I used a purchased loaf of bread called seedilicious. It was an organic enriched flour loaf chocked full of various seeds

This roast makes me one happy veg foody. Although my first few attempts at making a roast were not totally successes, I am glad that I hung in there and kept trying.

Pix: Me with Snowball
A happy and spoiled fat cat
(adopted by us)

And Last I mentioned FUN....
No pictures of that yet. I am posting this before our first family gathering (at my aunt's house) and then we will do tomorrow (Friday) for supper at my house with my oldest sis. She is flying home from New York.

Saturday, November 18, 2006



Happy Thanksgiving.

Just had to share this cutest
and most accidental picture with you.

This is Herky the last of the foster kittens remaining in our home. Her brothers and sister left for their furever homes this morning. When I snapped this picture I had no idea that this yawn was about to happen, perfect timing.

I am really looking forward to the Thanksgiving break next week - I have three days off. I am planning to make some of Bryanna's stuffed seitan roasts, I have tried a new one each year for the past three years now. The roast is awesome and I think that I like last years sun dried tomato stuffing the best. I just read that she is planning on coming out with a wheat meat cookbook. Even though I have made most of the recipes that will probably be in that book (as a long-time Bryanna fan), I am excited and will get one anyways.

Here is the recipe that I used for the
Vegetable oil spray
1 pkg. quick rise instant yeast (comes in 3's to be cut apart)
1 1/2 C hot tap water
4 cups unbleached organic all purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar (we used unrefined)
3/4 tsp sea salt

1 egg beaten (vegan solution: 1 tsp. corn starch stirred into 2 Tbsp water) to brush on top to keep the coarse salt/ cinnamon sugar / garlic & poppy seed, etc topping attached). This gets brushed onto a the pretzel before it bakes.

Topping choices to sprinkle on top of pretzel:
Course salt
Poppy seed
dried minced onion or garlic
sesame seed
course sugar and cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
2. Lightly spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil (Additionally, we sprinkled our oven sheets with coarse cornmeal which will stop the breads from sticking even better).
3. Dissolve the yeast in hot tap water (between 90 - 105 degrees F). *
4. Add flour, sugar, and salt; mix until dough is formed. Add a small amount of flour if dough is to sticky; add a small amount of water if dough is to crumbly or dry. Dump mixture onto a bread board or a kitchen counter and begin kneading, set timer and knead for 8 - 10 minutes. (see not below about flour)
5. Divide dough into 12 equal sections.
6. Roll each piece into a rope; roll and twist the rope pieces into desired shapes, such as pretzels, alphabet letters, etc.
7. Place pretzels on prepared baking sheet.
8. Brush with beaten egg (or vegan solution mentioned above). Sprinkle with topping desired.
9. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes, or until golden brown. When the pretzels go into the oven spray the bottom of the oven with a water mister to create a steam, although this step is not required I personally think that it is beneficial.

*If the water is to hot it will kill the yeast, to cold and it will not rise correctly. You can use a thermometer to test the water temperature.

NOTE: DO NOT add to much flour, the dough will seem wet at first, but as it is kneaded it will begin to firm up. If making these by hand, during the kneading process flour your hands instead of the counter because you DO NOT want to keep adding the extra four in, you just want it to keep from being overly sticky to your hands. The extra flour will make them seem dry and tough soon after baking which is a problem with the baker, not the recipe. I had five groups make these and each pretzel came out a little bit different, the group who did not take my word about the flour was the least happy with the pretzels.

We completed making and eating these pretzels during a one hour six minute class.
This recipe came out of a (c) 2006 high school Foods class enrichment lab book. An actual mall pretzel has quite a bit more oil added or butter / margarine which will make a small difference with the texture. The picture above is actually some pretzels that I shaped using a pumpkin dough leftover form a braided bread that I prepared for a church meal last night. It is sprinkled with poppy seed.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Another week down

Four weeks to go! I am finished with this time consuming unpaid job December 12. I did have my students make very successful big mall pretzels. They said they were the best they ever had, but I had no camera. I am going to make them sometime soon so you can see a picture. They were white flour, but it was organic. I'll get the recipe up at that time to. I am now preparing to give trimester tests - the big final exam! I have to create my own and never having had experience with this before ... time consuming!

We also made our own mini pizza's from scratch. I like to add sauerkraut to my veggie pizza in place of cheese. I like the flavor it adds. Thanksgiving is coming soon, I really look forward to the break. I have a very large bakehouse order to fill to be delivered on December 8th. I hope that I am not being overly ambitious to think that I can accomplish the order, but the money right before Christmas will be nice especially after giving up all paid work for the past summer through this experience.

This week was hard for us with pup gone and we sure do miss her smiling happy face when we come home, but we're dealing with it. I have an appointment at the vet next Saturday to have Sophie's babies in for shots. Two kittens should be leaving to their furever homes after that appointment. Honestly with pup gone, these kittens sure do fill an empty space.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Today I took Pup into the veterinary because there were some odd things happening to her. A few months ago she had a large tumor removed from a gland on her tummy. The vet felt she was healthy and could live several more years. After the surgery the dr. called and told us the tumor was cancerous. It has came back with a venegance and now has spread throughout her system, there is nothing else that can be done. This is her last weekend with us. If she survives this weekend we will have her put down on Monday so she will not suffer. This is a sad weekend for us, but if we had to go through being loved by a dog for almost ten years again and then losing her... we would. She has been a great dog and we loved her very much too.