Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cooking away the cold ...


I have noticed other blogs I enjoy reading have been posting their 28 cooks "coming out". I did mine a few days ago, but wanted to add a link to it again.

Now back to food (my favorite subject)...
It is really cold here ..... like below zero cold and I'm not talking wind chill. BRRR! I live in an "extreme" (winter and summer temperature differences) weather area. As I was contemplating the ability to complain I decided to look through past blog entries to find warming thoughts, here is a link to a post I made in July when the thermometer was reading over 100 (and no not dry heat). I won't complain anymore. Instead I will begin to think different warm thoughts ... like crock pots and soup. The crock pot is god send, I love warm comforting food when I get home. Yesterday I made a recipe from Bryanna's Oct-Dec 2006 newsletter called LOCRO (a squash and vegetable stew). She didn't make it in the crock pot, but I did. I had it on low all day (about 8 hours) and it worked well. I used 2 3/4 cups mixed vegetables instead of the recommended corn and peas. I also made seasoned brown rice in the rice maker and refrigerated it for quick micro heating when I was ready to serve. Although the recipe looked simple and didn't stand out as exciting, it was excellent.... even DD said this is pretty good. It is pretty colorful too. I have a basket of four more butternut squash I want to use up so I'll be trying more recipes with them soon.

ON TO LUNCHES (Can you tell I'm having fun with these?)
This is a whole grain English muffin sandwich with one of Bryanna's crock pot steak patties / roasted red pepper and onion, a romaine salad with sprouts/ red pepper/ purple onion/ currants, homemade apple pie filling sprinkled with homemade granola, and "sushi" pickles that I made using a recipe from the book Summer in a Jar by Andrea Chesman. The pickles are made with large thin slices of ginger root and carrots and tastes just like the little pink pickled ginger slices on a sushi bar (yum).

The steak again only cut up with some seasoned brown rice, romaine salad with sweet corn relish (Andrea Chesman's book again, homemade using my home grown garden gooodies too), home canned pear slices that I didn't grow (no pear trees here) but bought in abundance from an organic Amish farmer, and strips of roasted peppers and onions to add to my rice and steak. The little red container has balsamic dressing for my salad.

Today's lunch. If you turn your head like you would to read a smiley you will notice that this lunch has a container of Stacey's pita chips, roasted red pepper dip from Marie Oser's Soy of Cooking, romaine salad with carrots and sprouts, a sorta trail mix container including roasted peanuts/sunspire m&m's/ currants, along with a banana which I intend to use as a "poker" to pick up the "trail" mix.
NOTE: The red pepper dip called for 2 cloves of garlic. I used two fresh cloves and let my magic bullet mixer whip it with the roasted red pepper, seasonings and tofu smooth. The garlic has come back to haunt. I really like to taste of this so the next time I make it I will roast the garlic with the red pepper.

Thanks to the Oser cookbook and then confirmed by Megan the Vegan I have been hankering mushrooms. My new Oser cookbook calls for ground chicken style gimme lean, which I have never bought before and I didn't want to make any from scratch so, I then decided to have something different for supper and prepared the mushrooms to use another time. I then remembered the mushrooms I made some time ago using brussell sprouts so I looked it up and decided these are what I would try again . . . . here's the link to my previous entry about them and ia link to the recipe included.

Since I bought a 24 ounce package of the nice stuffer size mushrooms I had plenty of stems and 1/3 of the package which I could make into another dish. A dish like Oser's creamy mushrooms sauce over pasta. I actually left the recipe out and asked DH to make it so supper would be ready when I got home tonight. We'll see how it turns out, DH is a sweetheart and said he would however I will c hop the carrots and onions this morning as a time saver for him this evening. I'm looking forward to it, will share pictures later.

No pictures of the pasta because DD chopped the carrots into a salad with romaine and used up the sliced mushrooms I had planned for the sauce also before DH could get on the pasta. Last night we had pita pizza and salad NOT the pasta. I also still have the mushroom caps for stuffed mushrooms, but intend to use them soon.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Seitan Steaks and New Oser Cookbooks

Bryanna's new Vegan Feast Newsletter just came out. I always love to see what new ways with seitan she is coming up with. This month my "must try's" include these steaks and some kebabs which I will try next weekend. Sometime my "must try's" get me so excited that I will stay up playing in the kitchen all night. I did start these before bed on Thursday, then on Friday morning we took the steaks out to make lunches and refrigerated the rest.

Picture one.... rolling out the seitan dough. This dough was a bit rubbery-er (that's not a word) and hard to roll out, but they did with persistence, a little water and a rolling pin. The previous seitan cutlets dough in which tofu is added is much softer and easier to roll, actually they were just pressed flat in my hand. I, myself, like them either way however the family usually prefers the dough with tofu (esp in "ham" loafs or spam as one of my sister's calls it).

Picture two.... Dropping the dough in the warm crockpot cooking broth. The broth was in the crockpot for about an hour on low before the "steaks" were ready to drop. I used my new 6 quart crockpot for this. I like the fact that this new pot has a carry feature that locks the lid in place and has a slot on the handle to attach the spoon. I was also amazed at how much it could hold compared to my oval 4 quart pot (which I will always use for the seitan roasts because I like the shape best in that).

Picture three.... What it looked like when I woke up this morning.
Despite the difficulty with the dough we really enjoyed these, however they are made with red wine which DD really didn't like but once she grilled it and put the sauce on it she thought they were good. I like A1 steak sauce, the ingredients list isn't to bad other than that darn corn syrup which is in everything and it is vegan. DH prefers BBQ sauce and DD likes ketchup the best. DS has gluten issues and doesn't get into these. Although I can and have made my own sauces, I used purchased sauces this time.

Bryanna posted a response in comments about the ability of the seutan dough to be pressed by hand. ALSO - DH just told me last night that this is his favorite seitan steak yet. (yeah) Even though DD didn't like the wine flavor, I did and obviously so did DH.

At Christmas time I earned enough points on my credit card to get a gift certificate for (my favorite reward). I purchased these three cookbooks by Marie Oser. If anyone else has these, would love to hear your favorite recipes.
I first discovered her at the same time I found Bryanna's books. I checked the books out from the library and still have a few handwritten recipe cards in my file box from that time. She uses several prepackaged goods which I could not afford at the time I first found the books, today I more interested in some new ideas and flavor combinations.... maybe I'll try a few of the convenience flavorings or soy meat just to see how they compare with my favorite "from scratch" Bryanna recipes sometime. Besides just the soymeats, there are many other recipes I'd like to try sometime also.

Hope you are all having a great weekend. I have another lunchbox picture to post soon. Today I have the chance to go to my favorite little Indian store when I do some other shopping. I am hoping that the store has their new cafe open (last time I went they were remodeling to allow for it).

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Wow! I have a headache and prepared-ness

It has been sometime since I would stop at the convenience store and get a large cuppa diet cola (caffeine free to make it a "little" better). Now that it is not as easy for me to make up my favorite drink and sip all day like I did when working for myself and around my house, I thought yesterday that a diet cola sounded like a good thing since I was out shopping all day and I was thirsty. Yes, I should have chose the water, they had that too and countless other drinks were a possibility but I "jumped ship" and opted for the pop. "It has only been almost a year since I have had any. 32 ounces surely wouldn't kill me, after all I eat such a good diet and the nasty would be quickly "detoxed" out, " or so I told myself.


Less than 1 1/2 hours after finishing that 32 ounce thing which I gulped like fresh water I started feeling something like a major migraine coming on. I have experienced many headaches in my SAD eating days although I have discovered since changing my lifestyle that I am not really prone to them. I have also had only one migraine in my entire life. It was a three day affair, not fun at all and I was glad to see go. I (and the doctor after a cat scan) attributed it to the stress of going back to college again after twelve years while managing a household, family, and a teenager with special needs since it didn't come back I was okay with this explanation. I immediately grabbed aleve and hoped that would be the end... not quite, aleve'd up and still have it today. The moral of my story.... I need to continue to "just say NO" when it comes to the artificially sweetened pop. I have never had such a quick reaction before, but I guess now that my body is used to being "un-toxic" these things are majorly noticeable to me now. I have no other symptoms, just the headache for which I am drinking plenty of fluids with hope of flushing out the trigger.


I am planning a weekend soup and legume canning session soon. I have been reading the Apocalypse Chow book by Jon and Robin Robertson. Although I am not a gloom and doom thinker, I realized that my pressure canner is a gem to help me in the case of emergency too. However, I got it to save money and be able to get rid of a very large freezer from out bakehouse (which still works and is a place I store garden produce, excess grains, breads, dried fruits, etc. I realized that if the electricity goes out for a week a whole years worth of great organic and home grown frozen goods will not be of much help unless I attempt to feed the entire town a couple of days.

I have read sites where dried veggies, and vacuum packed cans of grains can be purchased to "prepare" for ????? Although I agreed that prepared is something important I never really bought into the idea of having a box of food stuffed away so that I could use it someday or worse to figure out how to use a bunch of dried stuff on a regular basis (so it wouldn't go bad) when I wanted fresh. Now I know with my pressure canner I can have the convenience home canned soups / legumes, prepared TVP taco or "sausage" meet on a regular basis (okay not fresh, but handy and I do like eating it) while at the same time having a stock of something saved for the "big one".

To remind me here's a little about my pressure canner . . .
23 quart pressure canner:
I purchased this wonderful (and large) device around July of last year. I started canning with my garden green bean and potato harvest and continued into soups, spreads, and other low acid foods. I like having some canned food like this on hand, it provides the convenience I need however coordinating a good day of canning of my own soups takes time to use the day wisely for maximum value. For example, 1 pot of Sicilian style split pea soup makes 7 pint jars. A 2 pound black bean pot of feijouda makes 10-12 jars. My pressure cooker holds 18-10 pint jars or seven quart. The quart jars are to big for what we typically consume at one time and if I am cooking to feed this many then I would just crockpot a pot of soup and have leftovers. It takes about 2 1/2 - 3 hours of my time to complete one batch... there is a 1 1/2 hour period in which I simply must babysit the pressure gauge to ensure it stays where it needs to be.

I also like lemon juice from concentrate sweetened with stevia. Now I can have a sweet drink that is not jammed with sugar or worse yet headache provoking chemicals while still be "prepared".

Anyone else prepared? What is in your storage box?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Stuffed in green with a lunchbox

I made stuffed green peppers in the crockpot using a recipe from The Vegetarian Slowcooker, although I once made them in the oven several years ago and didn't like them I was pleasantly surprised this time. I like these alot. The stuffing is basically brown rice, salsa, minced onion, and red beans with salt and pepper. I cooked the red beans in the crockpot to (way easy!) and was impressed with how easy this was and how the flavor improved when onion, garlic, and a bay leaf was added during the cooking process. Although the recipe adds a sauce made from canned tomatoes and seasoned I happened to have some homemade pasta sauce leftover in the freezer that I added some cumin to. I had three large green peppers that fit well in my 4 quart pot and divided the stuffing equally between the three... the stuffing was supposed to make 4 peppers but my three were large and all the stuffing was used for that purpose.

I cut the green pepper to make a " flower so it would spread out in a bowl that would contain all of the stuffing. I spooned extra sauce on the top and sprinkled it with some veg Parmesan sprinkles (Bryanna's homemade stuff using English walnuts). Today's lunch is a bowl of this. I attempted using the laptop lunchbox to carry this, but it just isn't made for this style of feast... back to the Tupperware. I added a chocolate soy protein bar to complete this meal.

Next I present pictures of my last couple of days lunch that did fit in the little box. I had another lunchtime meetings (the one that I starved at last time, but it is the day I also ordered my lunchbox) and received many compliments on the box as well as the "really healthy food".... I don't like to be set apart as though my food is somehow "different", I think my food should be the standard against what all food should be compared to. I think comments should be made about when other people choose the dead, preservative packed, etc, etc... like somehow IT stands out and needs to be mentioned. Anyways, I smiled and said it is tastey when the comments were made.

Wrap containing leftover dahl with sprouts, a small plastic "roll" of my zucchini relish (blue ribbon county fair stuff) to add to my wrap, and Dreena's Curried chickpea with sweet potato she calls it a casserole (made in my crockpot) but I think it is more of a hearty stew - I liked it.

Then I have a pumpkin seeded lentil burger (Dreena recipe) with a side container of homemade rhubarb chutney, a salad with more pumpkin seeds and currants, soy yogurt, two dark chocolate pieces, and a wrap all folded up and ready to be used for the burger with some salad. However, when lunchtime came I actually didn't feel like making a wrap using my pretty burger so I folded the chocolate inside the wrap and ate it dipped in my stevia sweetened soy yogurt.... not quite what I had intended but a nice change non the less.

The weekend will soon be approaching, my New York sis will be flying in again to share my "detox" stew as she calls it .... the clam style chowder from Bryanna's 20 minute cookbook. I have some seitan steaks cooking in my slow cooker right from Bryanna's latest Vegan Feast Newsletter. I'll be sharing this sometime this weekend. Have a great one too!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Lunchboxes (bigger pictures)

For Erica. "My what big food pictures I have." :)

Some lunch boxes from last week.
Brown seasoned rice, pineapple / mango mix, salad sprouts, onion curry relish in the lil' red container(link to recipe), and What a Dahl (slow cooker recipe).

A sandwich on homemade bread maker machine bread with sprouts currants and soy cream cheese spread, Dreena's earthy lentil stew, apples with currants (home canned from our apple tree) and stevia sweetened plain soy yogurt with a saran wrap plastic cover.

To answer Midwest Vegan's question from my previous blog entry I noticed last week that sometimes my salad juices would leak in side the box a little because only one container has a lid. I'm still loving it anyway, I just put a little plastic over some things now but not everything needs this (like the sandwich) because the food stays in place even while carrying it strapped to your shoulder.

I liked this one a lot. 3 small Dreena pumpkin seed coated lentil patties (home made rhubarb chutney in the small red container), romaine salad with a few extra pumpkin seeds and craisins, Sweet potato mashed with cinnamon and stevia, and 2 squared dark vegan chocolate (yum!).

I now have a coffee pot at my desk at work that I keep hot water in. A cup of hot herbal tea after my yummy munches is a wonderful treat.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Lunchbox , Dahl

I made "What A Dahl" in Fresh from the Vegetarian Slowcooker by Robin Robertson. I ate this over basmati rice, however the rest of the family is not yet accustomed to the curry flavor. Over time they may adjust, but after the two bite rule (no pressure to do so needed) applied no one but me continued to eat it.

picture Indian Spice Mix:
I added the spices called for in this Dahl recipe to a small bowl before adding it to the crockpot. It was so pretty I couldn't miss taking a picture.

Lunchbox #2:
Mexi Calzone (oatmeal bread dough with vegan chorizo inside) and a chili seasoned sauce for which to dip it in, home canned sugar free apple pie filling, homegrown green beans mixed with cooked red beans and mushrooms.

My Growing Want List ...
I want one of these (twinkie baking set)! This is way to have fun even if it ends up being one Saturday's entertainment (okay $15 for a couple of hours of fun and a lifetime of memories - pretty cheap entertainment if you ask me). Perhaps this will be my treat with the first paycheck, I think I am going to check out the B&B at the mall on Saturday and if I can't find it I'll buy it from the link above. I am not a twinkie fan so much but would do it for a smile from one of my kids, however the corndogs made by Schmoo's mom would make me get this pan for myself.

On a more serious note ...
I want one of these (link to site about adopting older children) too. Although I love the age my kids are and the freedoms I am experiencing, sometimes I wish I could have a few more around to extend my ability to make simple treats and get looks and admiration like I am the best person in the world. I'd love to know if anyone has ever considered such a thing.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

TRASH and Exercise (all in the same entry)

It's a cold out! Time for some soup and Texas Trash (thanks so much ATxVegn) The family LOVED it!. Here's the recipe as posted in the original blog entry. I used whole wheat pretzel rods instead of the tortilla chips, air popped popcorn, with pecans and almond slices instead of mixed peanuts. Matthew was pulling out the pretzel rods to eat and I asked if he liked those the best, he said no that he liked the pecans best which he already picked out.

Texas Trash

4 c. tortilla chips
3 c. Crispix
1 bag microwave plain popcorn, popped
1 can (12 oz.) mixed nuts
1/2 c. corn syrup
1/2 c. margarine
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. chili powder
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cayenne

Heat oven to 250. Combine chips, cereal, popcorn, and nuts in a large roasting pan.
Combine corn syrup, margarine, sugar, and spices in a small saucepan; heat to boiling, then pour over cereal mixture. Stir to coat. Bake one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Cool on waxed paper. Keeps in an airtight container for two weeks.

I asked Dave what soup he liked the best expecting him to say chili. He said broccoli cheese which was news to me. This soup is my own. I was aiming for a comforting cheesy like texture, the family liked it well enough but I am curious if anyone else tries this how they might adjust the spices and seasoning.

(link to recipe)

Several years when I first started using a grain mill I started milling my own legumes for quick cooking easy soups. I liked the way white beans thickened the soup and gave body similar to heavy cream dairy soups. This soup recipe is similar to what I used to make with white bean flour, but I decided to try it with besan (chickpea flour) and split red lentils.... the color was spectacular with these choices and add great nutrition that is easier to digest that the freshly milled white bean flour. Although this would not end up on my top five list it was comforting and well liked by everyone else in the family.

Black bean soup, cooked and cut up sweet potato, cabbage sprout craisin apple salad, and pineapple. I was so excited I have actually put forward a good effort of thought into my next lunch box to and making food that would look nice in this.

Using my sprouts salad with broiled seasoned tofu, apple slices, radish, and carrot shreds on a bed of romaine lettuce.


My oldest sister has been checking out my blog. I think she is interested in healthier eating because she bought a sweet potato and a variety of fresh fruits (she told me this, why would she tell me this and ask for my blog address within a 24 hour period) .... for her this is an accomplishment because she lives in a hotel for weeks at a time coming home for a weekend a month. Also, the water aerobics is to start on the 15th (Monday), but now that I accepted the extra work after school Monday is one of the days I work so I would not be home in time (drats!). I have purchased a few fitness tools below though so that I can meet some personal fitness goals, they are three Pilates workouts from Amazon. Pasta Queen influenced my decision. I had a Pilates workout video several years ago when I was a beginner and the video wasn't ummm, try I may and try I might but me body only got mean (not lean). It is also 13-17 degrees here during the warmest part of the day, so I'm not to disappointed not to be able to do water aerobics other than the fact I wanted to have time with the friend.

1 "Pilates - Beginning Mat Workout"
Ana Caban; DVD; $12.99

1 "10 Minute Solution: Pilates"
Lara Hudson; DVD; $10.99

1 "10 Minute Solution: Rapid Results Pilates"
Lara Hudson; DVD; $7.47


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Weight Loss and Lunch

Check out the entry from the link, a great
testimony of what diet and exercise can do.
I was browsing around on some other sites, checking out other blog links. Although I really wasn't looking for anything special I did find a humorous blog that mentioned certain words in her post just to up the site meter count, unfortunately she joked that it was only perverted teen boys who would probably look. However she did discuss healthy food and weight loss and mentioned Pasta Queen who has lost a lot of weight. I checked out Pasta Queen and am pretty impressed with her computer skills. Her pictures turn when you click them and one picture shows her at a very obese weight and then today, she also has an overlay of a 10 pound weight loss - you can really see the difference!

I am so excited that my lunchbox came in. I have been browsing the pages reading about how much our disposable lunch packaging costs the environment. I love the little sauce dipper and silverware - FUN! There is even a tag on the front in which I can write my name. I can't wait to begin using it.

I now have the perfect reason to pack my lunch. I will be working extra hours in a unique opportunity to act as a "home school mom" (what I call it) for a student who needs the service for the rest of this tri-mester, it is in addition to my current work and is paid separately. My role will happen in a public library although the situation is very complex unlike my mention of it here, I am very happy that this is an option that the school/ parent could opt for.

Also concerning school, Matthew just finished his first semester in a college computer class (CISCO I). He is really a high school senior, but is earning these credits through a post secondary enrollment option. He made it through with a 72%, 70% is passing. As a previous homeschool student he needed to learn some study skills, which he did under pressure of finals week. When asked what he would do differently next semester he said he would take better notes and actually study from them. He'll be taking CISCO II next... he has Monday and Tuesday off so you'll probably see some more great cooking from him.

He is thinking of Bryanna's 20 minute seashell casserole with a salad. I think is also time to make a seitan roast and to make some good European bread. I'm going to have to pull out my crockpot again also, because three days a week I won't get home until 6 pm and will desire to have supper ready to eat. I'm also getting hungry for some of the basics, like red beans and rice or a simple black bean stew over a sweet potato. It is super cold as of yesterday, below zero kind of cold which is normal for us. We finally got our fist snow and it is expected to snow 3-6" tonight which is also normal. It is not normal that we have had autumn kind of weather up to now. Besides lots of warm herbal teas and hot cocoas here is some of the food we have been eating...

Dreena's Vive Le Vegan Stork Muffins, DD made these as her breakfast recipe of choice. The muffin portion was not very sweet, but when you get the pieces of the chopped date and cranberries - delish! Made with oat flour, ww pastry, and barley flour. I am a little bit of a stevia fan, so I would add just a tad bit of that to these muffins for the family's sweet tooth. DD says the coconut in them make it hard to eat with her braces.

I love Dreena's hummus and have had some on hand for several weeks now. This was a "salad" plate I made before a meal this week - - - yum! I cooked up about 3 lbs of chickpeas not long ago and froze them in 2 cup quantities as well as made two batches of hummus so that I could pull it out and use it as needed. I could have canned the chickpeas, but will wait a bit longer.... I really need to stock up on my home canned soups again. I miss having it ready to grab and go.

Yesterday when I was in a hurry for something quick I made this dish of Pasta and Greens over Mueller's multigrain pasta. The recipe came from Bryanna's 20 Minutes to Dinner cookbook. My picture doesn't give this recipe much glory, but I really loved the flavor. I ended up mixing the turnip green and beans topping which offered a strong flavor in with the spaghetti. I served a side of cooked cauliflower to go with it. The veggies were from my garden, both came from the freezer.

Here is a little review I found on the Internet (here) about the pasta ...."a box of Mueller's Multigrain Pasta, an 80 percent whole-grain pasta that cooked up chewy and dense like a great semolina pasta. The flavor was surprisingly full but not distracting or overpowering. I suspect the reason this pasta is more tasty than other whole-grain pastas is that it's made from a mix of rice, oats and wheat. The pasta is made by the American Italian Pasta Company. The pastas come in penne, rotini and spaghetti shapes."

DH's birthday is the 14th (today). I made him flaming breakfast muffins (they are Dreena's carob chip made with 100% barley flour) frosted and complete with candles, fresh sweetened hot soymilk and oranges.

Have a good week!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Detox with some soup?

The picture is of a no-clam chowder soup that we have had recently. More about this below, But first I want to share with you some info that I found on Vegan Grandma 's blog. She has some great information on her blog about the latest GREAT AMERICAN DETOX DIET. Here is my overview of her suggested detox dietary guidelines:

Sugar, Refined carbohydrates (white bread, white sugar, white rice), Coffee, Caffeine, Alcohol, Dairy, Meat, and avoid using peanut oil, canola oil, corn oil. I think I could do this except for the words in red.... that's a bit restrictive for me. I don't needs me some coffee, but I sure do like it a whole lot.

10 to 14 glasses of filtered water a day, Whole grains: brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, Nuts and seeds, Phytochemical rich -foods: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, peaches, plums, sea veggies, cabbage, tomatoes, Soy products, Beans and legumes, Acidophilus to replenish good bacteria in the intestines, use mainly extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil , focus on organic fresh foods

"The best way to ensure that your body is getting the kinds of carbs it needs to run smoothly and stay "clean" is to keep eating whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits that give you the extra dose of fiber needed to clean out your system. The natural foods with the highest amounts of fiber are lentils; black, kidney, and lima beans; chick peas; potatoes with the skin; peas; non-instant oatmeal; pears and apples with the skin; Brussels sprouts; and peaches."-p. 117

Here's some of our latest foods:
Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
I have been inspired by Bryanna's 20 Minutes to Dinner Cookbook. I am doing alot of cooking from this book lately. I have changed this into my version inspired by the original recipe on page 69 of the cookbook.

Place all ingredients except the cornstarch/ water mix into a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down a simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Add the dissolved cornstarch and bring to a boil, stirring until it has thickened slightly and is clear. Serve immediately. NOTE: I have done this in the crock pot also. I just add the cornstarch at the end and turn the pot to high for 15 or so minutes.
4 C veg broth
6 oz firm tofu cut into strips
1/2 C sauerkraut
3/4 C frozen peas
1/2 C fresh sliced mushrooms (or an 8 oz can drained)
3-5 thin sliced shiitake mushrooms (I just throw them in straight form the package, but you an grind them into a powder or chop them up a bit)
1/2 C thinly sliced onion (or green onions)
2 slices fresh ginger root chopped (about 1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp dry sherry
2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp liquid hot pepper or 1-3 tsp of a chili garlic sauce, you choose level of hotness
1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp cold water
Thin strips of carrots (I used a veg peeler and 1/2 a medium carrot).

The picture above is a soup from the same cookbook. DH was hankering some clam chowder to eat with those cheap little white flour round crackers. This soup was satisfying to him, Bryanna 20 minute cookbook calls it New England-Style Sea Vegetable Chowder. The original recipe on page 62 calls for silken tofu, which makes a wonderfully creamy and thick soup, but I decided to make mine with soy milk and it was good. Here is my recipe.

Dori's No-Clam Chowder
1 large onion chopped
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes cubed (I leave the skin on)
8 oz mushrooms chopped coarsely
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 Tbsp dulse flakes (I use less than Bryanna calls for, we are not fond of this flavor when it is strong because it is a bit fishy for us)
3/4 cup minced celery
1 Tbsp soy bacon bits
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp kelp powder
ground veggie pepper to taste
2 cubes Knorr vegetable bouillon, this brand has cubes that are equal to 2 cups of broth each when added to water
6 cups fresh soy milk made in the soy milk maker or 1 quart of plain soy milk combined with 2 cups of water
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar or alternate
In a medium pot saute onions until soft and add the remaining ingredients. I did this in the crock pot.
Here is a link to my homemade soy milk recipe:
Hope you are all having a great week. I have showed my blog to some of my students. I hope you try all the recipes you find here and impress your family. Extra credit if you bring in a small sample of your food and share with the class about your cooking experience.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sprouts and behind the apron

FIBER at 28 cooks is having a cook behind the apron "coming out" of sorts. I have never been hidden on this blog as I have shared pictures of myself and family, but to jump in on the fun I am going to participate. I am Dori from the Rural Midwest United States. Although I had been homeschooling my kids (age 15 and 18 with special needs), growing organic veggies on our 1 acre plot, cooking up a storm in our small family organic bakery, and cooking vegan for 8 years I was previously a SAD eating gal who experienced a few serious health problems until I decided to reconsider my lifestyle and values. I have a son who has a diagnosis on the autism scale and other health issues including food allergies. Currently (as in one whole week now) I am a high school teacher with an endorsement in Occupational Family and Consumer Science. Although I am taking a little time off from personal studies I am pursuing my PhD in the same area. The picture is of me from September.

Sprouts are good for us also according to THIS website. I purchased a sprouting device not long ago because I like salad / sandwich sprouts and wanted more variety that our midwest winters will allow at an affordable price (aka I wanted more than cabbage). I know that grain and bean sprouts are considered high in nutritional qualities, but I have never really used them much, okay, never used them ever. About two years ago I purchased a bag of bean sprouts from an oriental store. I don't remember what I wanted to use them for, but I do remember that I didn't like them at all and have not been adventurous with bean sprouts since then.

With much talk of detox and commitment for a healthier 2007 and financial goals, etc. I am open again to trying various sprouts ways with these now that I will have the ability to make my own. I do have the sprout lids that would enable me to grow them a canning jar, but decided to try this kit so I can do more kinds of sprouts at once. Why sprout? According to HANDY PANTRY the company that manufactured the kit that I purchased here are the top 10 reasons to sprout...
1. Only Pennies Per Serving
One tablespoon of seeds will fill a quart jar with several ounces of sprouts. A 4-ounce package will yield several pounds.
2. Simple and Easy
Take less than a minute per day to grow and prepare. They will grow nearly anywhere indoors, in any season. Sprouts require very little space and travel well.
3. Fresh and Ready Quickly
This “garden in your kitchen” grows very fast, in any kind of weather. No digging, planting, weeding, pests or chemicals involved. And there’s no long wait, as in seasonal outdoor gardens. Just 3 to 7 days to a bountiful, nutrition-packed harvest. When stored in your refrigerator, they will stay fresh for days- even weeks if rinsed properly.
7. Highly Nutritious
Several contain more protein than cooked meat-at a tiny fraction of the cost. The presence and balance of amino acids makes this protein more digestible. All sprouts are rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, and fiber.
8. Low in Calories / Fat
One fully-packed cup of alfalfa sprouts contains only 16 calories. These are simple sugars for quick energy. Sprouts contain no cholesterol and provide several essential fatty acids. Sprouts are the perfect weight-loss and body-purification food.
9. Help Detox your Body
Chlorophyll helps cleanse and oxygenate the blood. Enzymes aid in the digestion and assimilation of nutrients, and contribute to the body’s life force. Fiber aids elimination and their lecithin helps the body get rid of cholesterol. A raw food diet is one of the best ways to detox your body.
10. Build your Immune System
Antioxidants protect you from radiation and toxic chemicals. They help the body to cleanse, detox, rebuild and heal itself. Sprouts are rich in antioxidants and help protect you from the health scourge of the 90’s— toxic build-up. Antioxidant enzymes are especially important, because they are essential for the proper function of the immune system. Sprouts are one of the best sources for these important nutrients.

Okay I'm convinced. You'll be seeing more sprouts on my food soon. I am seriously giving deep thoughts to 6-8 weeks of a detox diet. However I must do more study... I might actually "jump on the wagon" in March during spring break.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What's for lunch?

I have now been working at my new job for one week - woohoo! :) I love what I am doing but I don't love the once a month paycheck - mostly the fact that I must wait a month for it. So far I have carried a bag of popcorn and a piece of fruit for lunch until I find the right routine for me. One day I attended a meeting that took up all of my lunch time which I did not know it would do and then had to go right onto doing something else, I was starved at the end of the day. That evening when I got home I went online shopping (oh no!) and guess what I bought. GUESS and then click HERE for a link to it. I've been wanting one for some time and now feel that it is the right time to splurge as a new job "congrats", I am sure I will get a good many years of use from it.

My teens were still on a holiday break on Tuesday (but DH and I had to be gone), so I had my daughter make supper. She chose Dreena's Three- bean curry tomato soup which happens to look similar to the recipe curried tomato three bean stew link I found in a general search. I also found a Taste of Home internet article about Dreena's food, this article is an interesting read as the writer discusses "slimming" after holiday comfort foods. The soup DD made yielded a big pot, I was a little disappointed that evening though because it lacked favor. The next day I had it again and a little sitting time helped because I could taste the curry then, but added a touch of lemon juice and little salt. I made a note in my cookbook that the next time I make this to use all vegetable bouillon instead of a partial broth / water combination. I use the bouillon cubes anyway so it would be just a matter of adding more.

I have been eating this soup with Stacy's Pesto and Sundried Tomato flavored pita chips which also happened to be on sale this month. I ended up with 6 bags of those and the simply naked kind. I wish they could be whole grain, but I knew I was getting a good deal of fiber and nutrients in the soup I paired them with.

At my monthly buying club Tofurky slices were on sale and up for auction so I ordered some to try for the first time. They are a bit higher in fat than I would prefer, but I am positive that the rest of the family will devour these and right now the little extra convenience is nice. My first use with these were in a sandwich which I unfortunately drowned with strong flavored garlicy hummous and lettuce on a bun, the sandwich was overall good but this was because I liked the strong flavored hummous. I know I could have made my own seitan roast, sliced it and been well fed for at least eight abundant portions for half the cost of a package that had three smallish servings.

In DH and my insane plan to ensure that our children have the skills to survive "in the real world" cooking requirements are back in force in this New Year. Both of our teens are required to choose two recipes a week to share and one must be for supper. DD chose Dreena's squirrely scones from VLV. I searched for other information about these on the Internet and found one picture and reference to them on Squirrel's blog (isn't that funny!). The picture to the right has been copied from her site.

DD's scones were very tasty, but did not spread at all. This is not a bad thing, these will be made again for sure sometimes because the four of us scarfed down a whole batch in one breakfast sitting. In comparison with the picture above our were "lumpy" in that the the batter did not smooth out and with all of the nuts and fruits packed into them. I think that the flour in my area has a tendency to be "drier" because I notice in general that if I follow recipes from cookbook authors in Canada I get a drier result. My results may be affected by the fact that I purchase oat flour, I do not make it with quick oats therefore I may be getting more grain than the fluffier chopped oatmeal version.

I hope the first week of the New Year has been as good as you have resolution-ed it to be ... or better now that the resolutions have been broken and you can get on with "normal" life. I have made a connection with a friend who has a weight loss goal. We will be joining our town's new wellness center and signing up for water aerobics classes to take together. I never imagined how bored I would feel so quickly now that I do not have a ton of writing or school work to do when I come home. I am already concocting various other "big" projects in my mind.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Food for life....

Since I got some for Christmas and was sharing with friends I just had to do a search to find out the best way to enjoy it. My exploration of wine allowed me to find out....
1) A person does not drink wine to get drunk.
2) Usually wine is most remembered by a special event and the people it was celebrated with.
3) It's okay if a person says I do not like red wine or any other for that matter, no need to convince them otherwise. I don't like most wines either, but the fruit wine we bought is pretty tasty.

2007 is here.
Empty Red Raspberry Wine and Blushing Pink
Champagne bottles complete with empty glasses.
Bringing in the new year, we anticipated the event with two neighboring families whom we played Yahtzee (I won) and Clue (I accused and lost early in the game). One neighbor couple brought their three children so they watched the movies THE INCREDIBLES and SPY KIDS. About 9:30 pm we opened and shared the fruit wine between the 6 of us and then at midnight we popped open the bottle of bubbly. I had Dreena's Mushroom and Wild Rice soup in the crockpot to munch on through the evening. One neighbor brought some organic blue corn chip along with a cheesy salsa (non vegan) combination and the another brought chocolate pretzels, probably not vegan.

To begin the year I have a few personal growth goals as well as a few family financial goals.

#1) Personal goals: DH and I are at a time in our life when we transition into me going back to work after leaving the workforce to be a homeschool mom for seven years. I used to be a social worker before going pro mom, but over the last couple of years I returned to school to prepare myself for the transition of children beginning to grow up and out. Of course I will be going into a food and family related work now with my family and consumer science degree and teaching certification, but for personal satisfaction and enjoyment I blog. Thank you for an enjoyable 2006 and I look forward to inspiring and being inspired by fellow bloggers out there whom I might otherwise not have the opportunity to meet.

#2) Food goals:
Okay over the past month we have went all out on sugar and wheat in our house. My clothes still fit, but I feel the sluggishness of what I have done to myself. I'll offer some recipes and thoughts about this below. I'd love to understand more about cleansing or fasting ... tips and links welcome.

Concerning goal #1: I left the paid workforce seven years ago when I discovered a I had a son with special needs... actually, several of them... Asperger's syndrome, ADD w/o hyperactivity, social anxiety disorder, asthma, food allergies, and hypoglycemia. For us we realized that there came a time in life that QUALITY of life was more important than staying in the mainstream system where our evenings and weekends were set by assignments given at school which in actuality had nothing to offer his life after this "education". This journey lead me into exploring food "cures" and I learned a great many things. Unfortunately food has not been the "cure" but our whole family has benefited as we changed our diet and lifestyle into an organic, back-to-nature with home grown produce, whole grain, vegan, etc and still learning. My son is improving and he is able to attend a college level computer networking and technology program in "the big city" living the week away from home and returning on weekends. He still has some issues, but they are more manageable and we have found that food does have a very important role but is not the only factor.

Food has been good to us. As a family we started the small whole organic grain bakehouse and worked it for the past five years. It was not the sole source of our income as DH works elsewhere but managed all aspects of our business, my job was to learn to live on his one income, and together we worked baking, selling, growing, living, etc. A couple of years ago we were to the point that we either needed to hire employees (and start a small factory) or reduce and stay a specialized mom and pop business that we could enjoy. We decided to down size and continue to do only what we enjoyed. Now that my children are growing up I intend to take my knowledge of food and business into the public sector to help students and later families with my experience and area of knowledge. This is the year for this to begin and today I look forward in anticipation.


I use 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick), 1/2 cup water, 1 cup water, and a sprinkle of cinnamon sweetened with KAL stevia extract powder to taste. I microwave the dish for two minutes on high (watch to make sure it doesn't bubble over and leave it sit for 2-3 minutes while I prepare coffee and make a sweet tofu yogurt sauce to eat on top of my dish. This is a wonderful weight watchers core recipe and with lite silken tofu and a little xanthan gum you can make an incredible VERY low calorie, satisfying drink. ( LINK TO 1 point: MOCHA SMOOTHIE and more oatmeal recipes) You may think to yourself that you ate an very big meal, but if you are a ww point keeper the total meal is only 3 points.... of course you will be hungry for a snack later, think of how few calories your just ate. Want to make it a few more points to make it to lunch add 4 - 6 English walnuts or almonds. Maybe a square of my favorite dark chocolate will be satisfying also... this will only add a point or two (depends what kind you use).

LINK TO WAFFLE RECIPE also includes another smoothie recipe

Every new years DH and I are up on New Years Day preparing healthy waffles (which happens to also be a ww core item), Bryanna's TVP S'SAGE patties, and strawberries (which we use as syrup). I buy some sweetened strawberries and some whole without sugar and sweeten them myself with stevia. I melt a little of my homemade sugar free chocolate syrup for the top and also use my homemade soy yogurt, however one of my family members brought their own organic dairy yogurt.

The best thing about this day is that I have the time make up a bunch more. I multiply the recipe by 4 and make up a bunch ahead to freeze. The pile of waffles in the picture are actually leftover after feeding 9 people. They are also ww core or 1 ww point (i believe) and in general plain healthy and full of fiber. They are not your typical light and fluffy buttermilk stuff, but they are light enough very tastey. I do sweeten my batter with a touch of KAL stevia extract powder and have left the sugar completely out of it.

I know that the holidays has probably got most of us thinking about less food or more veggies due to all the rich treats we ate over the past month. However, I want to add that I do enjoy baking and I rarely ever buy snacks, because of it. After that introduction I present (with anticipation of the next cookbook) more baking...

Drumroll for Dreena ...
Here I share a couple of cookie pictures for her upcoming book that I had the opportunity to test in December and they were wonderful.

She says the new book will be out in Fall 2007. I'll be waiting... I have really enjoyed cooking from the two books she currently has out.

The following muffins come from the book Vive Le Vegan
Orange Poppy Seed Muffins. They are made from 1 1/4 C oat flour and 1 cup barley. Weight watchers fans will like that these flours are CORE foods, although they do contain a minimal amount of oil I think this could be subbed easily. This muffin batter started rising immediately in my mixing bowl, so I really heaped it in the muffin cup. .... obviously a good thing I did because they did not rise much in the oven. I have discovered several of Dreena's muffins have this "poofy" nature. These muffins made a pretty presentation and the oat flour gave them a somewhat nutty flavor, they were filling also and had that "stick with you" quality. If I personalized this recipe I would do away with the syrups and use stevia, maybe add some real oranges so that the orange pulp would be included .... however you know this is the season for cranberries. Family rating: C-, they didn't care for the lack of flavor but texture was good as long as you had a drink to sip on with it. I guess I am not as picky with foods... I liked the ingredients in it and went to the work of making them so of course I ate them. I did add fresh cranberry relish to the top in place of jelly foer added flavor and I had to freeze them until I could get through them since I am the only one who ate on these.