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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Falafel everyway you possibly can and homemade pizza

Hi Blog World. Remember my picture back in November? I am Lucy, the dog in this "bakehouse" household. I have several interests and yoga is one of them. In this pose I lie on my back with feet in the air, however one paw sticks in my mouth just like you see here. I find this pose to be very relaxing because I will stay like this for more than 15 minutes. This lady here is trying to get me to chase rabbits out of her garden, but that's really not my style ... they remind me of cats and cats are my friends.

The owner of this blog asked me to share some of the food they have been cooking this week. I said sure, but I have to tell you that I am a little disappointed that she did not make any cookies or muffins this week ... I love those! So, to hold true to what I said I would do I present Dreena's (Vive Le Vegan) lightened up Falafel. The meal includes a cuke tomato salad (same cookbook), sliced cukes, onions, red pepper, lettuce and black olives. She put a bit of pineapple on the side and the cup holds some of Dreena's tahini dressing. I didn't like it.... well, maybe with a bit of jelly I would have scarfed that pita down.

The leftovers: She just kept going and going with this stuff, reminded me of the energizer bunny and if I told her that she probably would have wanted me to chase that also. Anyways, the falafel pizza, she took the mix and spread it on a pizza, baked it until she was happy with the looks of it and then topped it with chopped red pepper, tomato, black olive and drizzled with more of the dressing. She liked it well enough, but I think it would have been better with a dab of sugary frosting!

One would think that this would be enough, but we are talking about the queen of leftovers here. Why not a little more Greek delight for lunch.... yuck from me. That is the cuke and tomato salad in the baggie, gotta keep it separate or the lettuce will wilt. Again, more of the tahini dressing in the cup. I think she really likes the dressing, it's been three meals and she still says, "mmmm!"

Last item she wanted me to show ... her very vegan pizza on a whole wheat crust. It contains mushrooms, black olives, broccoli, red pepper, and sauerkraut. She made this during a demonstration for a class..... they were eating within the hour! Impressive huh! She told the class that the more cooking skills you have the less convenience you must pay for. She made 3 very large pizza's and a pan of cinnamon rolls (16 of them) for $8.15. The superintendent happened to come in while they were eating so they shared the food, she was impressed and asked Mrs. Master for the recipe so she could make it at home with her kids. Personally, just the cinnamon rolls would have kept me wagging my tail at her for several days but I didn't get any because she said the class gobbled them down. Imagine that, I guess she just likes them best. :(

1 tsp granulated sugar
1 cup warm water
1 pkg (1 oz) active dry yeast (check date to make sure it is not expired)
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups White whole wheat (Wheat Montana Prairie Gold) flour
1 tsp salt
1. In a small container, mix sugar with water.
2. Add yeast to sugar mixture and stir to dissolve.
3 Pour yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl; add oil.
4. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt.
5. Add one cup flour to yeast mixture, mix with a mixing spoon.
6. Slowly add more flour; mix.
7. Keep adding flour until dough is stiff enough to form a ball. Do not add to much flour; save some for kneading dough.
8. Turn the dough onto a floured surface; knead dough for 8 - 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
9. Cover; let dough rest for 10 - 15 minutes.
10. Divide dough in half or quarters to make 2 - 4 pizzas.
11. Place each dough piece on oil sprayed pizza pans or baking sheets. *I sprinkle the sheets with a bit of corn meal also to keep it from sticking.
12. Roll each piece into desired shape.
13. Pierce dough with a fork and let it rest for 5 - 10 minutes.
14. You are now ready to top your pizzas.

Yield: 4 servings
1 recipe prepared basic pizza dough
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup quick pizza sauce
2 cups mozzarella, provolone, or vegan option cheese (optional)
1 - 1 1/2 cups pizza toppings
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Brush olive oil on top of each dough shape (if desired) and cover with pizza sauce.
3. Sprinkle evenly with cheese (if desired, I skip this part).
4. Top with pizza toppings such as fresh tomato, bell peppers, chopped onions, sliced mushrooms, olives, pineapple, black or green olives, sauerkraut.
5. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until dough is lightly browned around the edges.
6. Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 cup
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp Garlic powder
1 pinch sugar
1. In a medium bowl, combine tomato sauce and tomato paste until blended.
2. Stir in Italian seasoning, garlic and sugar

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wild Mushrooms and Rhubarb

DH loves to wander the woods when the temps begin to raise and the days get a little steamy. He has his secret spots, but I cannot tell because mushroom hunters do not tell where their treasures are found. However, this mushroom hunter's wife will tell you what she did with the "loot". This picture is of a wonderful tasty and creamy wild mushroom barley risotto an idea I got from the Lorna Sass cookbook titled, "whole grains: everyday every way". I am saving my version of this recipe in my seasonal family favorite recipe folder.

VWAV: Isa also has a great recipe for Mushroom Gravy that I made, however it was the first time I ever used arrowroot powder and discovered it is not as stable as cornstarch. However the flavor and the meal I made with it, no disappointment here. This is a picture of a wild/brown rice combination topped with the mushroom gravy with a side of homegrown asparagus, and breaded mushroom. Bryanna Grogan has a wonderful seasoned breading mix in her Almost No Fat Cookbook.
As asparagus is beginning to come up in my garden, the pot stickers were the perfect recipe to use up the three stalks I harvested from my garden that day. I found a mushroom asparagus pot sticker recipe in a Light and Tasty Cooking magazine which allowed me to use up some the large mushroom harvest DH brought home the same day. Honestly, it was alot of work making the potstickers, but I made enough to freeze so I could have some on hand for a fast meal. It was worth the effort because I have discovered my family likes anything placed in a crispy little pocket that they can dip into a soy sauce type mixture. I love anything that the family will eat and allow me to use up the fresh produce that grows in our garden while it is still fresh. I froze the pot stickers uncooked on a sheet and them put them in a freezer bag ready to take out and bake at 425 F for 10 - 12 minutes.
To the right is a picture of our meal: broccoli mushroom stir fry, brown and wild rice mix, steamed green beans, and the pot stickers drizzled with a tasty sauce. The schezuan broccoli stir fry came from Bryanna Grogan's: 20 Minutes to Dinner Cook book. I subbed the soy strips called for in the original recipe for DH's fresh wild mushrooms ... the stir fry was much prettier than my meal plate shows so I'll put a close up of the stir fry to the left. It tasted wonderful; schezuan is my favorite!

To finish off the FRESH food meals I have been preparing I made muffins, another Bryanna recipe called
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rhubarb Muffins
I make most everything with stevia, so I will give you my version of these muffins.

Wet Mix:
1/2 C smooth applesauce
1 1/2 C soymilk
3 Tbsp light tasting olive oil
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer
1 1/2 tsp KAL brand stevia

Dry Mix:
2 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup diced rhubarb, can be frozen (mine wasn't)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare muffin cups by greasing or spraying with pan spray (I use special unbleached parchment papers because I like low fat baking and do not want the muffins to stick to the paper and rip apart). Combine the wet mix in the blender or food processor. In a medium bowl combine the dry mix. Add the wet to the dry and stir briefly just to mix. Spoon evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. C Cool the pans on racks for 5 minutes, then carefully loosen the muffins with a table knife and turn them on their sides to cool a bit more before serving. These vegan muffins are quite tender when they are very hot, but they firm up with cooling.

Bryanna makes 18 muffins with this recipe, I made 11. I made a decorated tiramisu type muffin using Dreena's agar frosting, fresh strawberries, and a heart shaped candy. They were a pretty presentation to the end of our meal and for breakfast the next morning.Satisfied? I think so.