Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas and Soup Mix

VEGAN BISCOTTI (plain anise flavored) with awesome dark chocolate brushed on top and sprinkled with ground up english walnuts. My base recipe came from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Nonna's Italian Kitchen Cookbook, Only I made mine a plain anise flavored variation.
Here's a free recipe that I found though:
Fat Free Vegan's Cinnamon Biscotti Recipe

Now that I have your attention with my tantilizing favorite holiday treat -

Merry Christmas!

I've been trying to post for a couple of days, but I guess NOW is my lucky moment to accomplish the task. After the ice storms came a wonderful Christmas day with highs in the 50's, and sunshine. It was awesome. We had a great Christmas day brunch before opening presents, which we already knew all that there was because we shop together and get what we want .... we just don't get it until after the Bible reading by DH followed by the brunch. Without further ado, I'm going right to the food pictures. Here is my first round Christmas day. The pizza is BREAKFAST PIZZA by Bryanna Clark Grogan Oct/Nov/Dec Vegan Feast Newsletter. Every holiday season since I started subscribing we have had a new awesome main course brunch dish to feast upon. I have been subscribing since the beginning and will not stop. The ideas and personal connection is worth every penny. Bryanna is a kitchen goddess, NO... wait! I take that back, because of Bryanna I AM A kitchen goddess! :) I served the pizza with a sliced pear and a soymilk (made in my soyajoy) cappuchino.

Next trip to the kitchen allowed me to get some of this TENDER BANANA BREAD from Bryanna Clark Grogan's cookbook, FIBER FOR LIFE. I love this because the fat is replaced with a silken tofu mixture which is also great protein and it is made 100% whole wheat pastry flour, yet is still wonderfully tender. The cookbook offers the option to use dates in this, but I use vegan chocolate chips which my family adores, I like that if I am going to add a little fat it comes from chocolate. Mmmm-my kinda fat.
More cheers for Bryanna and the VEGAN FEAST Newsletter again. Here is a picture of her seitan "salami/ pepperoni", I did the pepperoni version. My meat eating sister ate 10 slices of this with crackers and said, I love this stuff! I wasn't a big fan of the seitan o'greatness awhile back due to the fact it was so dry, but this salami / pepperoni is not. The crackers you see on this plate are actually pretzel flats with an everything seasoning, new find at the grocery store and they are not to bad. Back to the seitan, every issue of the newsletter usually has one new way with seitan that I get the pleasure of trying.
I need to back track just a bit. Here is my counter setup for the breakfast pizza. The crust dough, vegan "sausage" crumbles (Bryanna's kielbasa seitan recipe from my freezer that I crumbled up), the tofu frittata mix in the food processor, red peppers, shredded sweet potato, and shreds of Bryanna's sharp chedda' cheez. The crust is interesting, it is like a thick batter that can sit in the frig for up to two weeks until you are ready to use it. The recipe calls for enough to make two pizza crusts. I am going to try a mushroom onion style pizza with the other half, I found a recipe for this that I really want to veganize in a weight watchers magazine.
Okay, I am sure that you are probably thinking Bryanna again? .... yes, I say again. There are so many recipes I still have to try from all of her cookbooks and other vegan feast newsletters that I could sing her praises for a long time. This is my version of CHRISTMAS STOLLEN, the dough has no fat but is not dry. I used the sweet bread dough from her Al-most No Fat Holiday Cookbook. To make it stollen I added cardamom, coriander, orange peel, pecans, english walnuts, rum soaked raisins, cranberries, chopped dates and dried prunes. More backtracking. Here is the seitan salami after it finished cooking in my clay pot, it is wrapped with cheesecloth. It cookes in a small amount of very flavorful broth, which does not get completely soaked up as you can see a small amount is left over.

Last idea to share. I like to make a batch of a recipe I found many years ago called Be Prepared Soup Mix, I call it Five Bean Soup Mix. When I want to make some I take 1 1/2 cups of the beans, 1/4 cup of the seasoning mix and a can of diced tomates. Sometimes I make it in the crockpot, somtimes on the stove top, but all the time when I make it do I enjoy it.
1 1/2 cup pinto beans
1 1/2 cup white benas
1 cup kidney beans
1 cup baby lima beans
1 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup dried minced onion
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp garnulated garlic
1 Tbsp Frontier chicken flavor bouillon powder
3 Tbsp Frontier beef flavor bouillon powder
1 Tbsp parsley
1/4 cup vegan bac'un bits
1/4 cup dried Frontier mixed vegetable soup flakes
Combine the beans and place in a large jar with enough room to add the baggie of spice mix.
1 "batch" = 6 generous servings of soup
To make a batch soak 1 1/2 cup of beans overnight, drain and place them in a 3 quart saucepan (or crockpot). Add 5 cups of water and 1/4 cup seasoning mix, you can add the tomatoes now or at the end of simmering time. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer 2 - 2 1/2 hours until beans are tender or crockpot cook them on low all day.
Per serving: 187 calories, 12 g protein, >1 gram fat, 465 mg sod, 33 g complex carbs, and 9 grams fiber.
Individual batches can also be prepared separately, add a nice label with instructions, and give as a gift.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ice Ice Baby

The ice storm on the first of December was followed by another storm system that left a mess of broken tree branches in our yard. Here is the view walking out of our back door onto the porch, the tree still had some leaves left on it. This branch also fell on the roof of my car, but fortunately no damage was done.

In February this year we had a similar storm that caused power outages across our state, to the point our county and many surrounding us were considered at the level of federal help. We were with no electricity for almost two weeks. This time 6 hours (We were worried!), but relieved when the electricity came back on.

In the mean time I got pictures of the stocking DD and I made. Her's is a black velvet with some fancy painting decoration on it and is in the shape of a feminine high heel. We got the idea from a book about Christmas by Martha Stewart. I wanted mine to look more like a teacher's stocking as this has been a big event in my life this year. The guys stockings ended up being purchased ... yes they "cheated", but they did work on them for a few hours with us and we still have the material cut and ready to turn into a stocking someday. Matthew wanted a more complex design though, something with a symbol of a bear or resembling the renassance time period. I was lost as to how to preceed with this without a pattern and instructions.

Knitting is a popular past time recently revived in popularity, so I learned to knit recently. After mastering the lessons in the teach yourself how to knit book my sis gave me a while back I was mesmerized by the idea of a warm pair of socks to make for my feet, but didn't want to spend any money on a pattern that I did not know if I had the skills for. I surfed the net and found a free sock pattern to try and I created one knit sock (pictured above) and yes, it has a few mistakes, but I think I am hooked ... no "needled". I know that if I try to make another sock like my first it would not turn out the same becasue I would want to correct my mistakes so I decided to turn that one into a stocking for a special "my first sock" memory. After running around the house with one sock on showing all I could find who were thrilled with me (one dog and a cat that decided I could talk all I want as long as she was petted) I knew what I wanted for Christmas... tools to pursue my sock hobby. Come Dancer, come prancer, come donner come .... I found what will be my Christams present, but I'll get it after Christmas. The book is KNIT TWO SOCKS AT THE SAME TIME by Melissa Morgan Oakes. I like knitting because it relaxes me, but it is hard for me to set it down before a project is finished.


Busy at work still, but not as much as it has been over the past few months as I am adjusted to my new schedule and organized my class room in a way that works for me. A few things that have been cooking at my house include recipes from Dreena Burtons new cookbook called Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan.

Dreena's Palak Soyabina Panira p. 137. I really liked this dish, but since I am the only greens fan here I am the only one who ate this dish, but this was fine because I really did like this!
Blackened tofu (p. 121) served with baked squash and a romaine salad with pomegranate seeds. This tofu has a spicy bite to it, but I liked it well enough. I had never tried blackened anything before trying this dish, so it was a new experience for me.

Dreena's white chocolate chip with macadamia nut cookies p. 202. DH's favorite! I made the five spice almond cookies also which were my favorite and DH ranked them his second favorite.
Then a few Bryanna Grogan recipes...

Rosemary red potatoes from her Italian Nonna cookbook (yummmmmm).

Neetballs that are baked dry and ready to add to a savory sauce. The powdery substance on the outside is whole wheat flour and these actually stay together when put in a sauce to cook. They swell up while taking liquid from the cooking sauce making them a treat that iI have served at previous holiday functions. I am planning on using them to make a saucy crockpot style neetballs sometime during the holiday. They take some hands on prep time, but they can be made ahead and frozen to have handy for the day I am ready to cook.

I have also been enjoying hot soymilk cappuchinos using my soyajoy soymilk maker. I like these with a little carob powder, stevia, vanilla, and instant decaf coffee granules. CHEERS and I hope everyone is staying warm, we are trying to.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Dreena's ED&BV One Wild Chick stew was good. It reminded me of a chicken and rice type soup, but the wild rice made it more...... wild. DH usually does not like chickpeas except in falafels, so he complained about my choice of soup. As usual I said, "I know it's far from your favorite but please at least try it." He did and then said it is alright. I used homemade chickpeas in this soup which cooked up softer than the canned ones, I think it is actually the firmness canned chickpeas he does not like. I really think that it is the way I first introduced chickpeas to him when I first decided I was going vegan many years ago, I made a dish that wasn't wonderful and decided that they were going to like it so I did not cook anything else until it was gone. Ummm... do not try this at home.

Stockings are coming along, mine and DD's are finished and hanging, the guys are a bit slower. I'll probably have to help them finish up, but then they are only attempting this to please me, doing things together is what I always ask for when it comes to gift choices. I'll show you the finished stockings in another post.

Next food item I have been wanting to try was Dreena's ED&BV Veggie Tempah Muffaletta. I have had this page post-it-note tagged since first seeing the recipe, but thought it would be time consuming with what seemed like a long list of ingredients. Since I was wintered in for a weekend I bought a can of artichoke hearts and went to the kitchen. I had some tempah in the freezer since the beginning of last summer and have not been inspired enough to use it until now. I humbly admit that this was my first time with tempeh, but woo-hoo - my family LOVED it in this recipe.

I made two loaves of red pepper sage bread for the round loaf of bread called for in the recipe. Several years ago I was looking at bakery web pages and noticed one had a bread with this flavoring. I took one of my own recipes and did what I thought was good ...... it is..


1 3/4 cup water

2 tsp olive oil

1/4 cup dried red bell pepper flakes

1 1/2 tsp dried ground sage

2 Tbsp raw sesame seeds

2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp instant yeast

1 C corn flour

1 C whole white wheat flour

1 1/2 C unbleached all-purpose bread flour

(opt) 1 - 2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten

Combine all in bread maker or kitchen appliance to make the dough and allow to rise. Punch down and shape loaves in a prepared baking surface, let rise again 20 minutes. Place in cold oven and turn oven on to 375 degrees. Bake 35 minutes, includes electric oven warming up time, may need more time if you have an oven that heats up slower than mine (approx 6 minutes).

I also like to add pumpkin seeds/ pepitas to this when I need a hearty bread to go with a soup supper.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

One Wild Chick

I have been trying the soup recipes out of Dreena Burton's latest book Eat Drink and Be Vegan. Today's pot is as my blog entry title suggests. It takes one wild chick to live where i live. Today's weather in the central Midwest USA is COLD! We are getting a mix of freezing rain, sleet, and snow making travel impossible. I love these days when I have no where else to go and the family is all safe at home. I shared in my last post that I have challenged my family to make their own stockings this year to hang underneath the mirror by the Christmas tree. Here we are sitting at the table with our scissors, material, and the sewing machine.... okay a bit of soda pop also.

We are each working hard. Dave took the pictures, but he is trying to make the biggest stocking of all so we can stuff it well with our generosity, however he was hoping I would have enough material to stick a new garage inside of it. ... not likely this year.

The joy is IN the journey. I often like the planning of the event better than the event itself.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving


I am thankful for the four very large butternut squash that a friend grew in her garden... she had so many that she gave me four. In order to see a size comparison I have the gift next to a squash I bought, a pear, and my 3 quart crock pot.

Yesterday (Wednesday) the kitchen and I had some good bonding time since I had the day off of work. The day started as a "slow" day, the kind in which I prepare oatmeal with pumpkin, carob chips and a pot of hazelnut flavored coffee. I take an hour to sit and eat while everyone else sleeps or goes to work while I reflect on life. During my reflection time I grabbed my journal to write a few things down, but I grabbed the wrong journal. I have kept a family memory book of holidays beginning in 2004 in which I start the holiday season writing a "state of the union address" then each member of our family start this season writing five things they are thankful for. I included a record of all the happenings from Thanksgiving to New Years including lists of the gifts we received, my favorite recipes with our reactions to new ones tried, and ways we want to change to make things more meaningful next year. Sentimental feelings ran high as I looked through this book and this is where I began to journal.

Part of my feelings were sadness that I almost forgot this treasure in my "busy-ness" of life. My reflection time took me back to where I was last year at this time, hoping for a teaching position after finishing my license and debating whether to close the doors on my business or stay on part-time. At the same time I was adjusting from being a full-time home school mom into a full-time away from home employee so that DH and I could build up our retirement fund and get the kids through college. My son is now in college full-time and my daughter enrolled full-time into public high school full-time which she wanted and we reluctantly agreed. I have to admit I appreciate hearing her talk about what she liked while being a home schooled student now that she faces a different type of education. DH is very happy with the position he was promoted to at his day job and enjoys his time being the sound engineer for a christian rock band and I have enjoyed traveling around with them. Although this year has been a time of grieving the end of where we have been and who we used to be, it has also been exciting as we transition into where we are now. Exciting, but not without several growing pains which we are dealing with ... "What does not kill me will make me a better person."

A summary of 2007 with one word TRANSITION.

We also put up our little tree the day Friday (today ... as I finish the blog entry I started on Wednesday). I snapped a picture of my favorite kiddos and one of our dog's, Ricky. DD is in charge of holiday decorations and it looks like we are going to have a blue and silver theme this year. Soon I will replace the picture on the wall with a window like mirror under which out hanger for 4 stockings will be hung. I think the challenge I will give the family this year is to create their very own stocking to hang there this year, something that will creatively express who they are this year and what is important to them.

I am also thankful for the opportunity to be able to reflect on our transition, that says we made it through. At one time in our life DH and I stepped away from our "normal" life (trusted in God, sold the house, home schooled the kids, grew a large garden, started a "hippie" business, etc) and followed our hearts. Before we started that journey we both agreed that even if we failed, failure would be better than wondering if or living in regret of never trying. We did not fail, we have been blessed. I hope that your holidays are the same, hope filled and if difficult that they be internally satisfied in the midst of it.


How about a sip of brew inspired by Dreena's ED&BV (p. 227) MULLED CRAN-APPLE CIDER. It snowed in my state on Thanksgiving Eve so I filled Crock pot #1 with this wonderful potion to sip on this chilly evening and then let it stay on warm until we finished it for breakfast. I had to use what I had on hand and ended up making enough changes that I will share my recipe with you.


Place the following in the crock pot and allow to cook on high for 2-3 hours, then switch to warm.

1 - 12 oz container frozen cherry-apple juice concentrate (thawed)

3 - 12 oz "cans" of water (juice prepared as directed on the can)

In a tea bulb I placed 5 -1" cinnamon sticks, 10 allspice seeds, and 4 whole cardamom pods. I placed this in my juice and added 1/4 tsp nutmeg, a sprinkle of KAL brand stevia extract, and 1/2 tsp orange peel powder. A sliced up an orange in thin slices and placed about 6 slices, cut into quarters in my crock pot with the juice and spices. Dreena said with her recipe that you could add a few splashes of rum or brandy if desired.... sure I would desire to, but I have none on hand. I still have an unopened bottle of Cranberry Crimson wine from Christmas 2006 sitting on my shelf, I received 2 as a gift and emptied one with the help of 6 friends. I plan on taking it to a dinner we will be going to at my aunts house.

For breakfast we enjoyed the hot fruit drink served with muffins loaded with carrots and apples from Ken Haedrich's cookbook called COUNTRY BAKING. Although this book is not vegan, recipes can easily be transformed. I know Dreena has a good carrot and fruit filled muffin in her EDV cookbook or maybe it is in VLV cookbook, I've made them. The ones I made now are a bit more decadent and carrot cake like.

DREENA'S ED&BV Sweet Potato Lentil Chili: I made this in the crock pot on Monday night and enjoyed bowls of this for snacks and several meals after. I find Dreena's use of lemon and lime juice in soups unique to what I have cooked before. This was a change that my salty pallet had to adjust to, but now I really find it refreshing. I also found some 2 cup freezer containers made by ball. Although I enjoy homemade canned soups off my shelf, I like the convenience of freezing away one or two left over servings to use as I need. When I know I want to eat one ahead of time I place it in the refrigerator to thaw, ready to heat and eat.

The Everyday Slow cooker byRobin Robinson ... PUMPKIN BUTTER. I made this last year in and noted in my cookbook that I loved it, this year in order to avoid redundancy I noted that I REALLY loved it. I placed this wonderful stuff in 1/2 pint jars and hot water bathed it in my large slow cooker. 7 jars were covered with water, cooked on high 5 -6 hours, and removed to rest on a towel for 12 hours. The jars sealed "pop" immediately after taking them out of the crock pot. This was convenient I said to myself. I wish that I could have canned pint jars this way, but they won't fit I would have to take my other canner out to accomplish this task. Note that I peeled and cut the squash in to take out the seeds, I added the large pieces to my crock pot with the spices and a little onion. When all was done I blended combination smooth with my hand blender. I made mine sugar free and liked it very well. My recipe follows:

GRRRR'''' I entered this recipe once already, but then my computer froze as I tried to e-mail a video at the same time I was working on this. Anyways, here goes round two.

Note: I doubled the recipe and canned 7 jars 1/2 pint jars to give as gifts for the holidays.
2 pounds of butternut squash
2 cups of apple juice
1 tsp KAL pure stevia extract powder

1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 Tbsp good quality cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
Combine all in the crockpot and cook on high 4 hours (or so), low for longer.
Blend with a handblender. Place in jars and process can if desired. I did can the 7 half pint jars in my 5 quart crockpot. I did this by preparing the jars and lids, placing the jars in the crockpot, fill with water. Cook on high 6 hours. I heard the jars seals within 1 minute of taking them out of the crockpot. This would be similar to the hot water bath method. The water was boiling in the crockpot when I took the jars out. The apple juice might cause this recipe to have an acceptable acid percentage for water bath canning however I would recommend perssure canning per the canning instruction book for pumpkin pie mix.

On Thanksgiving day two new recipes I tried were Marie Oser's "The Enlightened Kitchen" cauliflower in "cheese" sauce on page 163. This was a bit heavy on the nutritional yeast and needed a little shake of salt, but I really liked this dish. I added green peas after I snapped the picture which really made a difference in appearance. Overall Ilike this dish and will probably make it again.

DH and the kids really loved a cheesy corn and macaroni casserole that I used to take to potlucks years ago. This year they bugged me figure out how to make it so we can have it again. Here is the vegan result:


In the crockpot combine the following (we doubled the recipe listed):
1 - 14.5 oz can of whole kernel corn with it's juice
1 - 14.5 oz can cream style corn
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup cheddar style cheese (a good melty kind)
**I used some homemade chedda' created by Bryanna Clark grogan.
1 Tbsp earth balance margarine
Cook on high about 3 hours, until the macaroni is cooked and the extra juices are soaked up. Serve. On Thanksgiving day our crockpot was the first dish emptied.

Robin Robinson's "The Vegetarian Slow Cooker" green beans Provencal also made an appearance on my Thanksgiving table. I was a bit heavy on the pepper accidentally, but I still liked this recipe consisting simply of petite diced tomatoes green beans, onions salt and pepper. If you want a creamy mushroom sauce type bean she has a recipe for this in her book also. I am planning on trying it when I get some fresh mushrooms.

To conclude I will have to admit the autumn (harvest time) is my favorite time of year, but this season definitely comes in a close second.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pumpkiny stuff...

Isa's VWAV pumpkin seed crusted tofu along with roasted strips of tofu and a romaine salad with chopped apples and dried cranberries. I liked the raosted pumpkin, I have not tried it this way before. The pumpkin seed coated tofu has a nice crisp texture, but needs more flavor ... perhaps a sauce would cure this.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What's cooking at Dori's ....

I have been a little time constrained as I adjust to the full time (and then some) schedule, however it is important to me to stay motivated to cook nutritious and vegan. Now that I am out in the "real" world again and away from the protective constrains of my home, professional kitchen, and organic acreage I am finding the need to stay connected to my roots and passions. It is harder to do this in a time crunch, but I am determined to stay with my values and preferred eating habits. To do this I have found that my Internet community of inspired vegan cooks is what works the best with my schedule and my rural location, also reading the blogs of other cooks inspires me to be a better cook and person despite being "only one". I decided this week as I make my comeback cooking post you are going to get a run down on what this busy, vegan has cooked.

ALSO I want to let you know that I purchased Dreena's new book, EAT DRINK AND BE VEGAN via amazon and am enjoying BRYANNA"S VEGAN FEAST fall issue just in time for the upcoming holiday season. I am in the states so Canadian friends, my Thanksgiving pictures will soon be coming.

Oh and the pictures....

I live in a household with a teenage daughter who has determined that the family digital camera should be shared. It seems that every time I want to take a picture of a gorgeous vegan meal that the batteries are dying, dead, or just got on the charger. Further justification in my complaint is that her my space and face book pictures have great quality and quantity. Perhaps she needs a camera for the next gift (or maybe I do!). Yes here is the lovely sweet daughter on her big day. I made this cake btw ... I used a Bryanna Clark Brogan recipe which features chocolate and coffee.


I live in the Midwest and our farmer's market season is closed now until May. I can purchase veggies that have been shipped in from other places at the grocery store (at high prices for food that is not as high of quality as I prefer). My garden was small this year because I knew that I was going to apply for the position that I currently work (and I do love it .... despite time consuming for now), so my food creations will be limited to season and availability since my canning shelves did not get as well stocked with soups and wonderfuls that I would have typically done this time of year.

Announcing meals I have prepared this week ....

Bell Peppers stuffed with Israeli Couscous and Lentils (p. 152) Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robinson

I was given a gift of about 10 beautiful red and green peppers from a gal that goes to our church. This recipe is uniquely different from the typical southwestern flavorings of her Salsa Rice and Beans stuffed pepper recipe, although I made those 11-2006 and liked them very much. I do write in my cookbooks when I try a recipe and date it, it's fun seeing this when I flip through. I also make notes about what I might do the recipe next time. Since it was primarily Dave and I eating these I had them for supper, lunch and supper again one evening when the rest of the family was out doing whatever they needed to do.

I really like the convenience of Boca burgers (original) and whole grain buns along with a fresh romaine salad. I do this for lunch or supper at least once a week.

With more peppers I made Dreena Burton's red pepper pasta sauce and served this with some whole grain spaghetti and cauliflower that I had in my freezer, homegrown in my garden. Of course a meal like this cannot be served without some of her famous chocolate chip cookies from Viva Le Vegan ... an irresistible necessity. Another Dreena favorite made this week was Ginger Hoison Rice Noodles from The Everyday Vegan, this recipe is prepared several times during pepper season.

This is my week's report. Now I am going to be scouting around on other blogs for other good inspiration and I'll share what I found and cooked next week. Until then, happy cooking (and eating)! HUGS to you all!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Summer Vacation

Hey! Just a quick post to say I am spending a lot of time around the pool and reading books. I have been harvesting garden produce and buying flowers from the farmer's market. I have not been blogging. Life is good here, but I need to take a break from being inside and the computer. Until I blog again .... I heart you all and have a wonderful summer!

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Two boys bonding after surgery. One with a broken finger and had to have it operated on to screw the bones back together. The other went in the day after to get neutered. They make a lovely pair don't you think. The bandages on the hand are now a florescent orange cast.


I was at the store looking for canned vegetarian baked beans, but couldn't find any so I decided to make a double batch of Dreena's black strap molasses baked beans in the crock pot and decided to can several jars of it in my pressure cooker. I got 7 pint jars plus enough to eat for a meal, 2 jars did not seal correctly so I stuck them in the freezer to use first when I am ready for some more beans. While I was at it I canned my own chickpeas. I soak them overnight, change the water, bring them to a boil, and fill the jars 2/3 full before adding water and salt. Lid them and process for 1/ 1/2 hour at 10 lbs pressure. The clear jars allow me to see that the chickpea water turns to gel when it cools.


DH is the sound man for a Christian band called Piercing The Darkness. This past Friday evening they played for an event called JUNE JAM at an amphitheatre .... an out door concert in the middle of the forest. I thought it would be an awesome place for a music video with the lush greenery around.

City Wide Garage Sales were also this weekend in our town. I picked up this unique, brand new microwave cooking dish made by Tupperware. All of it's attachments (sold separately) and a cookbook were included. Supposedly one can cook a three course meal (including pasta in the water) all at the same time. After looking at the cookbook a bit I'm pretty impressed with the possibilities. I hope to show something impressive after spending a whopping $10 on this gadget ... the receipt was in the bag and the whole set cost $70 ... this was in it's original wrapping unopened. The entertainment value of trying this out will surely will be worth my money, hopefully I even be able to tell you it was a real steal!


I have been harvesting spinach and edible pod peas, Sugar Anne type, they have a plump pod . I like these better than other types of edible pod peas (aka snow peas).

To use these up I made a wrap using some thin sliced seitan, herbed tofutti soy cream cheese and thin slices tomato (purchased from the market not local) along side of the baked beans and peas. The peas were raw and fresh picked form the garden, I love the way they taste without dressing. I also made a schzeuan veggie stir fry. I didn't want to wait the 45 minutes to make brown rice so I served this over a microwaved red potato.
My stir fry consists of carrots, mushrooms, purple cabbage, onion, garlic, and a homemade schzeuan sauce. I finished this meal with a fruit smoothie and was very satisfied.

I have been drinking a lot of iced herbal fruity teas from celestial seasoning. My favorite is the peach, but black cherry and raspberry are good too.

In the mood to bake again, I also made some whole grain (white wheat) bread dough with wheat Bulgar and sunflower seeds added. The last bit of dough was formed into cinnamon rolls starring chocolate chips. This time I chose to bake the rolls in muffin cups, they turned out well .... err, so I heard I actually didn't get one of these.


My herb garden. This is how it looks a week ago, but I have several seeds planted that are just beginning to break through the ground right now. I have dill, thyme, Italian basil, chives, rosemary, radish, sunflowers (these will get big so I will only allow 2 but mainly for looks), English breakfast radish, and an early girl tomato plant because I had one left over and didn't want to waste it.

I love this time of year. I hope everyone is enjoying it. We have not yet hit high temperatures. It has been getting into the 70's by day and down to the 50's at night.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Camping, Pets, and Food (oh my)

We are back from our three day camping vacation. We "rough it" in the wilderness with nothing but our tents, air mattresses, propane cook stove, port-a-potty, battery operated DVD player, modern shower houses, firewood and mother nature. I did leave the laptop computer at home :). We drove approximately 2 hours to get to RATHBUN LAKE on Friday night and spent the evening setting up, starting the fire, and having a snack before watching Pirates of the Caribbean 2 DVD.

Saturday morning we woke up and it was raining ... most of the morning and again in the middle of the afternoon. We were not "water proofed" in our cozy eating area yet (we realized) and were in no mood to cook or eat breakfast outside so we took a 15 mile trip into town. I brought along a box of KASHI organic promise Autumn Wheat cereal and small asceptic (refrigeration not needed) box of soy milk with a pkg of raisins and ate inside with others at a not vegan friendly restaurant - the coffee was good. :) I did not expect to find much to eat in this area other than the local Hy-Store (a mid west chain grocery store) where I could get the soy milk, some smart dogs, etc in the organic refrigerated vegetable section. While there we decided to shop a couple of stores for "stuff" and purchased a Dora the Explorer cloth key holder type necklace to hold my room keys, a mini twist out pen to sign passes, and some lemon pepper. We were having a good time with the kids so we splurged on toys and a couple of stuffed monkeys that screeched like two girls in a tent having a grand time thinking about all sorts of scary things.

For lunch the rain had stopped long enough for DH and I to extend our canopy covering with a tarp over the picnic table so that we could have a dry place to sit if the rain continued. I ate guiltless gourmet corn chips with salsa, a vegan genisoy protein bar, and washed it down with some cold herbal "sun" tea before heading into another town the opposite direction 25 miles away. My son's girlfriend camped with us this weekend and on Saturday we had to make arrangements for my daughter to see her favorite beau for a few hours. While Melissa was off with her guy friend I went with my son and his girl friend to an antique store, watched Shrek 3 in this town's one screen Victorian style opera house, and checked out various restaurants looking for some vegan friendly options for supper. We found one that served pasta with a vegan garden veg mushroom pasta sauce, vegan Parmesan style cheese (on hand due to a request by other customers), a nice very veggie green salad with Newman's own balsamic vinaigrette, and a piece of strawberry rhubarb pie (crust made with Crisco which is vegan). I was pleased that they were familiar with my request (I'm not the only one in the rural part of a rural Midwestern state who eats "funny") and when I started asking questions the waitress knew what I was after and could tell me options.

When I asked for the ingredients to the pasta sauce, she replied with ,"Will the recipe work?" Awesome I said. I write it here for blog land to see also, I really enjoyed this meal! The recipe was a print off from recipe search. I left an excellent tip and they have no "trade secrets" going on here, just a simple desire to please a customer (SCORE!).

4 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup shredded carrots
28 oz can diced tomatoes, juice and all
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 jar garden veg style Ragu
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
Fry first 5 ingredients until golden. Add remaining ingredients and simmer an hour, serve over spaghetti. Add a second jar of Ragu to leftover sauce to make another meal.

At supper, I had a strange sensation that my kids were growing up when my daughters friend paid her bill, my son paid his and his girl friends bill and I paid my own ... wow I thought to myself is this what it feels like to watch my babes grow up?! Last night I was checking out their my space pages and I see my sons new name is "I love K***" and her new name became "I Love My Matt!" I also see my daughters young man friend is seeking out what he wants to be when he grows up so he can earn enough money to provide for a place to live one day for his future wife (hopefully my daughters name). After a moment of breathless silence, I realized I liked the thought of more in my family. I do like these extra kids around me ... my babes are growing into fine people. Part of me wants to resist and cling to the old and familiar and part of me yearns to see what's next.

Sunday was all that we hoped for! Sunshine, sights, boats, camping food, water. The swimming areas were closed due to high water, but the kids found a way to play anyways, although in the water they were obedient and did not swim (I didn't ask then to define the word swim though). My absolute favorite new food from this weekend. Dave sliced some red potatoes into 1/3 inch round slices, dipped them in olive oil, sprinkled with lemon pepper, and grilled them until cooked and had beautiful grill lines. I ate these with grilled cabbage (made in foil) mixed with some natures seasoning, a little ketchup, and a couple of ice cubes with a sliced up vegan Yves Italian sausage link as well as a little vegetarian baked beans. I also enjoyed that I had some DREENA COOKIES to snack on throughout the weekend along with gala apples.

Monday we packed up in a light rain and had to set up at home again for everything to dry out. Although DH said that it is less work without the kids, I agree, we had a great time together and it was worth the work. Matt is home for the summer now, sis's school is out and today was my last day also - meowza summer is really here now. DD and I were able to stop at the farmer's market today and my favorite vendor had wonderful flowers just as I hoped. She picked this bouquet which has a beautiful fox glove in it.

While we were camping I must have been feeling those mothering hormones rise again because we saw a dog that looked a lot like our old previous faithful named PUP at the marina. We all could not resist scratching his sides and telling him what a beautiful dog he was. Later in the day the marina manager found us and said we had been reported loving up a puppy. She wanted us to know that the puppy was a stray that someone dumped last week, she had been caring for it a few days hoping someone would come by and claim it, but as skinny as he was .... he's definitely a stray. Well, longer story short the poor stray puppy is now RICKY and joins our other loved one LUCY at home with us now. Ricky is maybe 4 months old and goes in for neutering this coming Wednesday. We are filled up now with two dogs and two cats now. Fortunately we live on an acreage and can handle this. Ricky's story is having a happy ending .... many stray's and breeder "dumps" do not.

I encourage everyone to check out their local animal rescue shelter, many great "best friends" are waiting to give you much love.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Meowza Summer is Near

Meowza summer is near, check out my mother's day goods (a snapdragon and cauliflower plants) above and Sophie all curled up in the garden produce basket I just brought in anticipation of fresh garden goods, but I still have a wait. Around June 15th I can begin to harvest a little spinach and then other stuff after that. It is funny to watch how the cats seem to love little boxes to curl up in. Sophie is the adoptable cat we are still fostering. She's a good cat so I don't mind, however she stalks me... really. Whenever I go into a room she waits outside the door for me to come out, when i reach down to pet her she scampers off like I shouldn't be noticing she is there. I gave her a rude awakening with this picture but it didn't seem to bother her much because she laid her head back down and continued about her very im-paw-tant business.

Some great smells were coming from the kitchen! I think the one I liked the most came from the seitan o' greatness I have been wanting to try for so long. The recipe was doubled and made one "regular" size and one in quarter logs. The large one was sliced on the mandolin for sandwiches and the smaller logs were cut into "seiteroni" slices - yum! Being no virgin to seitan, I thought it was tough and dense baked liked this, but with the right knife it can be cut really thin which makes it kind of like commercial vegan pepperoni, but a little dry. The mandolin slices remind me of dried beef. I was thinking that the crock pot might work here also instead of running the oven for 90 minutes in hotter months. I like the smaller rolls best and here is my favorite thing that I did with them. GRILLED PIZZA
I was inspired by a journey through blog land one day reading blogs all over the place following a link here and link there.... I don't even remember where I was when I received the inspiration. Anyways when I received it I knew that I needed to try this. We are going camping for three nights this weekend and I wanted to know that this could actually work... it did!

UPDATE: KATE 'S vegan ventures BLOG gave me this inspiration (recipe here). She also has a great mini cookbook.

The pizza I made was super unique with white bean hummus, seit-a-roni slices, pickled beets, grilled onion and chopped green pepper. Despite unique, although nothing I would "write home" about, it was satisfying and vegan. I was out of everything tomato for a sauce and had little choice for toppings.

Basically pizza crust recipes are the same, in grilled pizza cook the crust for 3 minutes, flip and cook 30 seconds more. Next add toppings and cook again until cheese melts, I had no cheese or cheeze for that matter so I cooked until it appeared to be evenly hot (about 3 minutes).

Spinach is up and will the first to harvest, corn is peeking through the ground, I have been doing ALOT of weeding, and yukon gold potatoes are looking good. The cauliflower and broccoli plants finally got big enough that the rabbits seem no longer interested. A gardener friend told me that she put plastic cartons over hers until they were 6-8 inches tall, at that height they aren't as tasty to the bunnies. The only problem with this is that I don't get plastic cartons on a regular basis because I do not buy dairy milk. I have also been working on beautifying my front walkway (and my aching back is proof) with petunias, glads, allyssum, and morning glories. The herb box is doing well too: marjora, dill, and chives came back from last year and is doing wonderful. I started rosemary, basil and parsley from seed and then transplanted a few of the healthiest looking plants. I started them in organic growing mix from our local lawn and garden store. I have tried cheap potting soil before, but there is a science to starting new plants stuff and it does not work well.

I have also been keeping a written journal of our garden layout / location of plants since 2003. Once reason I do this is because I rotate crops yearly to keep them moving so they do not get planted in the same place two years in a row. I learned that I should not plant root vegetables where cabbage family plants has grown for three years or they will get a bunch of dirty pinholes due to a bug that likes the cabbage plant and manages to have an effect for at least two years. Also moving the plants each year helps to keep pests that like a certain plant "guessing" and infestations are kept as minimal as possible.