Friday, December 21, 2012

Pak Choi Stir-Fry with Seitan

pok choi

One of the vegetables in our CSA share was pak choi (which I realized is actually just bok choy!). This chinese cabbage is fantastic for stir-frying, so I decided I'd go for something quick, easy and relatively simple.

pok choi leaves
The pak choi was relatively small (like a baby bok choy), so it mostly consisted of leafy greens.

Ordinarily when stir-frying I would add garlic to the oil first thing (to season). We also had some small onions in our CSA, however, so I decided to throw these in instead.

little onion
For my protein I decided to add seitan, which I think is the easiest vegan protein to throw into your stir-fry. (see my previous entry for more information on seitan)

Pak Choi Stir-Fry with Seitan
What You'll Need:
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 very small onion (or 2 large cloves garlic), minced
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
3 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 8 oz. package seitan, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp cooking wine (I used dry sherry)
1 small bunch of pak choi (baby bok choy), (sliced thinly on the diagonal, separate the chopped leaves separated from the chopped stalks)

What You'll Need to Do:
Place the peanut oil in your work (or frying pan) and spread around evenly. Raise the heat to medium-high, and after a minute add the onions. Sauté the onions for a minute or so, until fragrant. Add the chopped stalk of the pak choi, 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Sauté another 3 minutes or so, then add the seitan and turp up the heat to get a good sear. Add another teaspoon of soy sauce. Sauté the seitan for about 3 minutes on each side, until beginning to brown, then add the cooking wine to deglaze the pan. Add you greens, guessed it...another teaspoon more soy sauce! Reduce the heat to low, and cover until your greens are just beginning to wilt and soften. Turn off the heat, stir and eat!

pok choi and seitan stirfy with polenta on the side

My Thoughts:
This is a really simple, straightforward stir-fry recipe. There are all kinds of fun ways to spice it up! You could add ginger along with the onion or garlic at the beginning, red pepper flakes or white pepper at the end, etc. My favorite stir-fry topping to add on is toasted sesame seeds! In the picture above there is some seared polenta on the side--a very weird starch pairing, I must admit (our pantry was running bare!). I'd recommend serving with rice, or even rice noodles or soba. If you want to serve with noodles, you can add the pre-cooked noodles to the stir-fry at the very end, along with some hoisin sauce and soy sauce, to moisten.

As with most stir-frying, I would recommend starting with your heat on medium-high and adjusting as needed. I like to use a non-stick wok, but any large non-stick, heavy-bottomed skillet should work well!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

fingerling potatoes

We had a lot of fingerling potatoes from our CSA...I'd roast 'em in a side dish, and then I'd look in the bag and it was like they had multiplied or something...I made them in a lot different iterations. I found that they didn't work well just thrown in with other potatoes and such, they're more dense and less starchy, so they need a bit more work to break them down and make them nice and tasty. When prepared properly, however, my boyfriend couldn't stop raving about them!

I've got two recipes to recommend here, but the first step in both is to take those lovely potatoes, run them under some cold water, and scrub, scrub, scrub!

fingerling potatoes
This first recipe is adapted from Emeril. I prepared these potatoes to go with a weekend brunch.

Pan Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

What You'll Need:
12 or so fingerling potatoes, washed and scrubbed clean!
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp (each), chopped fresh: rosemary, sage, and thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

What You'll Need to Do:

Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Raise to high heat and bring to a boil, cook until the potatoes are fork tender (a little less than 10 minutes). When done, throw them in a colander and cool them under cold running water. 

Once they are cool enough to handle (this may take a few minutes), place the potatoes on a cutting board and slice them in half lengthwise then sprinkle a little salt and pepper on 'em.

Heat a sauté pan (or frying pan) with olive oil over medium-high heat. Place the potatoes in the pan, cut side down, and cook them until they're browned and crispy, about 3 minutes. Turn them to the other side and add sage, rosemary and thyme. Cook for another three minutes or so, until they are brown and crispy like the other side. 

Remove from the heat, toss and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

roasted fingerling potatoes

Additional Thoughts:
These were delicious with a weekend brunch!

For a different twist on preparing fingerlings, I also tried roasting the potatoes in the oven
Oven Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
What You'll Need:
2 lbs fingerling potatoes, washed, scrubbed, and halved lengthwise
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced
A few drizzles of olive oil

What You'll Need to Do:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Combine everything in a bowl, tossing to coat. Line a baking pan with parchment paper (or aluminum foil) and put everything in there. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Turn them after 15 minutes or so, so that they bake nice and evenly.

Additional Thoughts:
No picture for this one--but they were delish!

Don't feel wedded to the herbs, it would work just as well with an entire tablespoon of rosemary or thyme, or some other combination of these three.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!

Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero have been pumping out awesome cookbooks since... well before I was even a vegetarian! (Hehe.) I love, love, love them. While their cookbooks are filled with lots of great recipes, the one thing that never ceases to amaze are all of their delicious vegan baked goods! I LOVE baked goods (well all dessert, really). So why did it take me so long to pick up Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World? I have no idea. One thing is for sure, though..since buying this book back in October, vegan cupcakes have taken over my are just a few of the things I've baked up in the last two months:

vegan red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting 

Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes

vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cucpakes with Cinnamon Frosting

vegan chocolate sandwich cookie cupcakes 

Cookies 'n Cream Cupcakes

vegan apple cider cupcakes 

Apple Cider Cupcakes (for my birthday)

vegan apple cider cupcakes 

Apple Cider Cupcakes (for Thanksgiving)


Golden Vanilla Cupcakes


and Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes, again (I've made this recipe three times in as many months, someone told me they were the best cupcakes they'd ever had, and I have to say I think I might just agree!)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Jelly Donut Cupcakes

As a final Chanukah hoorah, I made these the other night! I've been making these cupcakes for several years now. Jelly doughnuts are a Chanukah tradition for some (because of the oil used to fry them), and while I've always wanted to try making my own jelly doughnuts, these are much easier, and really do taste like doughnuts! I originally got the recipe from Veganomicon, but it has since been posted on VegNews, so I'm sharing it here as well!


Jelly Donut Cupcakes

What You'll Need:
1 cup soymilk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup + 2 tbs sugar*
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup raspberry, strawberry or grape jam
2 tbsp powdered sugar*

What You'll Need to Do:

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners. In a mixing cup, whisk together the soymilk, vinegar and cornstarch and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Create a well in the center of the flour for the wet ingredients. Mix the soymilk mixture with a fork to dissolve the cornstarch and pour into the flour mixture. Add the oil, sugar and vanilla, and mix well.

Fill the liners with 3/4 full with batter. Place a heaping spoonful of jam into the center of each cupcake. The jam will sink into the cupcakes during baking. Bake cupcakes for 21 to 23 minutes (you won't be able to stick a toothpick in to check doneness, but the tops should be firm). Cool completely on a wire rack, and then set uncovered overnight in a cool, dry place. This will make the tops slightly crispy, like a donut crust! Using a sifter, sprinkle with powdered sugar.


Tips and Tricks:

This is a really easy recipe, and it's always a big hit. I love the way the jam just sinks right in during baking! 

If you want to get a little bit fancy with the powdered sugar, you can make some little stencils! (I got this idea from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)



Just be sure to use a sifter to apply the sugar!


*not all sugar is strictly considered vegan, see my "Vegan Pantry" section for a further discussion of this.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012



You guessed it! Another Chanukah recipe!

This recipe (which I've adapted a wee bit) was posted quite sometime ago on VegNews by one of their columnists, Robin Robertson. It was featured on Girlie Girl Army and Alicia Silverstone's website as well. I've tried several different vegan latke recipes in the past. Some called for matzoh meal which did help to hold them together, but I wasn't a big fan of the taste. This recipe got two thumbs up from me and my experienced latke-eating friends who couldn't remember why all latkes aren't vegan...


Vegan Latkes

What You'll Need:
1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and grated 
1 small yellow onion, peeled and grated 
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
Canola oil, for frying 

What You'll Need to Do:

Using your hands, squeeze out the excess liquid from the potatoes into a separate bowl. Add the onion to your potatoes along with the parsley, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and mix well. 

Preheat you oven to 250 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat a thin layer of oil. Take a heaping tablespoon of batter and flatten it before gently placing it in the hot oil. Make three or four more potato pancakes this way, and add to skillet without crowding pan. Fry until golden brown (or a bit darker, if you like 'em that way!) on both sides, turning once, about 8 minutes total. Repeat with remaining potato mixture, adding more oil as necessary. Remove the cooked potato pancakes to paper towels to drain, then transfer to an ovenproof platter and keep warm in the oven until all pancakes are cooked.

My Thoughts:

This was enough to feed three very hungry people--multiply accordingly!

Grating: you can do it the old fashioned way (see below), but I found that after just one potato I was a bit exhausted! I was so grateful for the food processor my boyfriend's brother and sister-in-law gave us when I moved to New York in the fall--in just a few minutes it had beautifully grated more potatoes than I thought we could eat! This was my first time using the food processor for latkes, and it was somehow even easier than I'd imagined.


Also, a heaping tablespoon of the "latke mix" makes for some pretty small latkes. I think it's fun this way--you can easily eat them in about two bites--but if you want something more substantial you can always make them bigger, just be sure to keep them thin so they can cook nicely all the way through! 

And I know the recipe already says it but do be very conscious about overcrowding the pan. I've made this recipe twice since Sunday (and I'm making it again before Chanukah is over! I love latkes...and apple sauce and sour cream....) and the second time I was super hungry, and without even thinking I filled my pan to the gills! The result is that the oil cools, your latkes don't crisp or brown well and they soak up too much oil, making for undercooked, soggy latkes (and nobody wants that!). 

Serve with applesauce and vegan sour cream (I like the Follow Your Heart brand). Yum! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Roasted Winter Root Vegetables

roasted root vegetables and green salad

If there was one thing we were not short on in our CSA share it was (not surprisingly) root vegetables! I've roasted my fair share of vegetables in the past, but this time I tried to come up with some new techniques that would bring out a variety of flavors. For that, I went to the internet!

Let's start out with the standard go-to recipe is adopted from Vegan with a Vengeance. I like to toss vegetables with fresh chopped rosemary, thyme, and sage, and a little bit of maple syrup and olive oil to keep them moist. You can also add a bit of ginger in there to spice things up a bit! If you chop your vegetables up into nice even chunks (about 1/2-3/4 inch each) you can throw them in the oven at about 350-400F. Toss them around a bit after about 20 minutes, and 45 minutes to an hour you'll have a nice tasty side dish! They're ready when they're fork tender (don't be afraid to try a bite to see if they're just right!). Perfect for Thanksgiving.

Keep in mind that different vegetables cook at slightly different speeds, so you'll want to chop up the slower cooking veggies (like carrots) a bit smaller. I find this recipe works well for things like sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, and squash. Things like sunchokes, black radishes, and fingerling potatoes, however, cook a bit differently. More on these "exotic" vegetables tomorrow...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gingerbread Vegans

Happy Chanukah to those of you who celebrate!

This recipe comes from Shmooed Food, a blog written by Jennifer McCann, and featured in one of her books, Vegan Lunchbox. I bought Vegan Lunchbox many years ago. I was dating someone at the time who was a very picky eater, and I thought this book might offer me some good solutions. It has some really great recipes, good for kids and adults alike! I especially like a lot of the relatively simple, but tasty snack ideas, and the baked goods. I'm not a big fan of egg replacer, a common ingredient used in vegan baking. It can be very chalky tasting, and it makes for very dense baked goods, not things I much care for. This recipe, like most of my favorite baking recipes, avoids the use of egg replacer, which if you ask me is a very, very good thing.

I grew up eating gingerbread around the holidays, and I love the taste! I actually first made these cookies at a friend's house on Christmas, complete with lots of snowflake shapes, gingerbread men, Christmas trees, Santa Clauses and reindeer. They were so good I thought I'd adopt them as my own holiday tradition, so I now make Chanukah gingerbread vegans for my family and friends!

Gingerbread Vegans

The recipe says it makes about 2-3 dozen, I find it usually makes at least 3 dozen (it all depends on the size of your cookies!)

What You'll Need:

1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I like to use Earth Balance), at room temperature

1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1 cup sweet unsulphured molasses
3/4 cup water
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice

What You'll Need to Do:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or (as in my case) in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the margarine, brown sugar, molasses, and 1/2 cup of water.

In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, adding just enough of the water to form a dough that holds together well.

Form the dough into four equal balls. Wrap each ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When you're ready to make your cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line some baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Working with one ball at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Roll the dough about 1/4 inch thick and use cookie cutters to cut out your shapes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets, placing them about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the surface is relatively firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then decorate with Gingerbread Vegan Icing.

Gingerbread Vegan Icing

makes about 3/4 cup, enough to decorate all your cookies!
What You'll Need:
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tbsp Silk Nog or 1 tbsp water
Food coloring (optional)

What You'll Need to Do:

Combine powdered sugar and vanilla. Add Silk Nog or water in slowly, stirring well with a small spatula and using just enough liquid to form a smooth icing. It should be soft enough to squeeze easily out of a piping bag, but not so runny that it runs out! Add food coloring, if desired. Transfer the icing to a piping bag (or a resealable sandwich bag with a very small hole cut in the tip of the corner to squeeze the icing out) and decorate the cookies as desired.

This is a relatively simple recipe, but ultimately quite time-consuming--I recommend making them with friends and family, if there are two of you it will go twice as fast and be (depending on your helper) twice as fun!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Delicious Seitan in a Balsamic-Wine Reduction


Seitan is one of those foods that I truly love but most non-vegetarians have never heard of or encountered. It's actually just made from gluten, which is the main protein of wheat. While I haven't yet endeavored to make it on my own (although I'd like to!), it is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch dissolves, leaving insoluble gluten as a sort of mass that is then cooked before being eaten (I know I'm making it sound delicious, right?). Depending on how you make it it can have a kind of chewy or stringy texture, although I prefer the type that less resembles meat, and is more of an open palette onto which I can project my own flavors. It was actually first developed in China, and is commonly used in other Asian nations, particularly for vegetarian cuisines (it's often used as imitation duck). When I go to a vegan restaurant I'm often drawn to the seitan dishes, and if I'm at a good place, I find they rarely disappoint. I love seitan piccata, and I've had a sort of wine-braised seitan at several restaurants that was just to die for. Typically, however, when I'm cooking, I just throw it in with a stir fry. It does have a bit of its own inherent flavor, and if you add a splash of soy sauce to that it can be quite good (see my entry on pak choi stir fry).

The other night though I was thinking to myself, why can't I prepare a seitan like the one I have in the restaurants? I didn't have much time to prepare dinner, but I thought the least I could do was make some sort of pseudo-wine-balsamic sauce and let the seitan cook in it a little. I came up with something so super-easy and delicious it blew my socks off!

So if you're feeling a bit adventurous, and you've never tried preparing seitan before--tonight could be your night! Some regular grocery stores carry it, but you'll probably have the best luck at Whole Foods, or a natural foods store. I usually buy the West Soy brand, simply because it's the most affordable and also very tasty. Other brands are a bit more pricey, but also have larger sort of "cutlets" that are probably nice if you want to do some preparation similar to a chicken breast or something. West Soy seitan comes in large chunks as well as strips. Anyway, here's my recipe--you won't believe how simple it is!

Seitan in a Balsamic-Wine Reduction

What You'll Need:
1 8 oz. package of West Soy seitan (in chunks)
1/4 cup red wine (I used an open Malbec-Syrah we had lying around)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar*
1/8 tsp fresh thyme (optional)
1/8 tsp dried rosemary
1/8 tsp dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste

What You'll Need to Do:

Cut the seitan chunks into smaller slices (about 1/4" thick). Place the red wine and balsamic vinegar in a  medium-size saute pan or sauce pan and heat them slowly (I find a pan with about 7" diameter works best, you want the sauce to slightly cover the seitan, but also have enough room so that the seitan is not overlapping in the pan). Raise the temperature to medium, add the seitan and cover. The sauce should be bubbling steadily with the lid closed, you may need to raise the heat to medium-high. Cook the seitan about four minutes on each side, it should begin to brown lightly. At the end of the eight minutes the balsamic-wine reduction will be almost completely reduced and cooked into the seitan. Add the herbs and mix while in the pot. Enjoy!

*using good-quality vinegar can make such a difference when cooking, particularly in a recipe like this! I like De Nigris.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

How do you make your green beans?

A little while ago someone asked me how I prepared my green beans. I realized the real answer is...lots of different ways! 
But here's one of my favorite variations. It's got some Italian spices, so it goes well with lots of other things. It's a quick and easy dish (garlic salt instead of regular garlic, it's easy to use the microwave instead of the stove top, etc.). I made it the other night when I was looking for something fast to go with my seitan and roasted fingerling potatoes.

Delicious Green Beans with Toasted Almonds

What You'll Need:
1 lb of green beans
about 1/4 cup of slivered almonds (you may want less, I like LOTS of almonds)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage
1/4 tsp garlic salt
salt and pepper, to taste

What You'll Need to Do:

Prepare the green beans however you normally would to get them tender. This can involve steaming in a pot, or even microwaving, if you're into that kind of thing. Meanwhile, prepare the almonds. 

Throw the almonds in a dry frying pan or sauté pan, and raise the heat to medium or medium-low. Keep moving them around and monitor them closely, being careful not to let the burn. When they become fragrant, they're almost ready, but let them go a little longer until they begin to turn golden brown. Then throw in about 1/2 of your spices and mix them around for a minute or so. Add your green beans, and drizzle with a little bit of oil. Mix them up really well and add the rest of the spice mix. If you want to add a few splashes of white cooking wine, go for it! Add some salt and pepper and adjust any of the seasoning to taste.

I hope you like it! Writing this entry has inspired me to share more green bean variations...hopefully more to come soon!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Spiced (and spiked) Apple Cider


My birthday is in mid-November, and with a chill in the New York air, I thought it would be lovely to have some apple cider at my birthday celebration (to go with my apple cider cupcakes!). We had a little bourbon left over from a cranberry sauce experiment, so this seemed like the perfect use for it! So with my boyfriend's help, we threw this together for our guests, and it was a hit! 

What You'll Need:
1/2 gallon apple cider (we used some local New York cider--really yummy!) 
2 1/2 cups bourbon 
1 tsp whole cloves 
3 cinnamon sticks 
1/8 tsp allspice 

What You'll Need to Do:
Just heat it all up over medium heat, being sure to stir frequently. Once it reaches a temperature you're happy with, turn the heat down all the way and keep it covered until ready to serve! 

We actually doubled this recipe for our party.  If you're feeling really ambitious, you can whip out some apple cider cupcakes to go with...!
vegan apple cider cupcakes

These ones are from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, probably the best source for vegan cupcake recipes available (more on this in a later entry!). This recipe is particularly complex, but it makes for an especially rich cupcake. It involves boiling down some spiced cider with agar agar, apple butter, and apple cider vinegar, all kinds of apple-y goodness!  

Cranberry Sauce, Bobby Flay style

So, here it is, as promised! A little entry on my most recent attempt at cranberry sauce.
After seeing Bobby Flay make a bourbon-infused cranberry relish on Iron Chef, I thought I'd give it a whirl myself. So I tracked down this recipe and got to work!

Cranberry-Bourbon Relish

What you'll need:
1-1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño or serrano, finely diced
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup bourbon
1/4 cup granulated sugar*
1/2 cup light brown sugar*
1 lb fresh cranberries (or frozen, thawed)
2 tsp grated fresh orange zest
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro

What you'll need to do:

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the orange juice and bourbon, bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugars and cook until completely dissolved. Add half of the cranberries and cook until they pop and are very soft, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining cranberries and orange zest and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and fold in the herbs. Transfer to a bowl and serve at room temperature.

Tips and Tricks:

I like cranberry sauce and I like orange juice. I guess I just don't like orange-flavored cranberry sauce. 

orange zest

I was a bit disappointed by this recipe, which was all the more difficult because it did take a bit of time, with all the zesting, etc. Perhaps I could have predicted it would have been a bit heavy on the orange if I'd just read it a bit more carefully. There were some things I liked, like the addition of the jalapeño.


I know the recipe calls for either a jalapeño or a serrano chile, but I cannot imagine using a serrano, as they have much more heat, and I found that even the jalapeño walked the line of being a bit overwhelming. I bought a large pepper, and ended up using about three quarters of it. I removed most of the seeds and white areas as well, to cut down on the heat even more. The one issue with the pepper is that it infuses the dish more and more as time progresses so that after even two days in the refrigerator this dish was more or less inedible.

It wasn't a total loss though, I learned some things and look forward to experimenting some more with cranberry sauce recipes. And the bourbon was perfect for our apple cider... 
pre-Thanksgiving meal

*not all granulated sugar is strictly considered vegan, see my "Vegan Pantry" page for a further discussion of sugars

Just what do you do with all those Vegetables?

winter root vegetables

My boyfriend and I just joined a CSA for the first time! 

It's something I've been wanting to do since I first learned of their existence. 

What's a CSA, you ask? It stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it's a great way for people to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Local farms offer "shares" (which is essentially like a membership or subscription) to interested consumers. In return, you receive a particular amount of vegetables (or meat or other produce) every week, or few weeks, or few months, depending on the type of share you buy. Generally you buy a share for one farming season, which involves numerous deliveries or pick-ups.

Perhaps this share would have had a much larger variety of fruits and vegetables, had I joined up in California, but out there I was living alone and it would have been a much more difficult endeavor for me to eat all of this food! Not to mention I was in grad school and keeping up with the incoming produce might have been an impossible feat. 

I was excited about joining on a number of levels. First, perhaps it goes without saying, I really love the idea of eating food locally. This offers a number of advantages that I won't delve into, but it also has a bit of personal meaning. I still remember growing up and visiting the local farm around the corner from my Mom's house. My sister and I would marvel at the variety of vegetables (some of which were more exotic than the supermarket selections we were used to), and we absolutely loved walking around the farm, visiting with the animals, and seeing where all the food came from! More than anything though, I remember even at that young age being amazed at the way everything tasted! The vegetables at the grocery store paled in comparison. Anyhow...I was excited about the idea of eating fresh, local and (hopefully) delicious vegetables grown right nearby.

And so, we subscribed to a local share, albeit with the least number of pickups, since we wanted to feel out the situation. I think this was a good idea! Our first pickup was in mid-November and it included:

3 lbs carrots
several small onions
2 bulbs garlic
4 lbs of fingerling potatoes
3 lbs black radishes
3 lbs turnips
chinese cabbage
pok choi
1 lb green tomatoes
2 lbs sunchokes
3 lbs greens
2 lbs Chioggia beets
1 lb sweet potatoes
tomato sauce 
and six eggs
winter root vegetablesChioggia beets
Chioggia beets have "candy stripes"!

Some of these veggies were quite familiar, others (like black radishes, Chioggia beets, pok choi, and even fingerling potatoes and sunchokes), I was surprised to find, I'd never encountered before! And so the adventure began: trying to find a variety of yummy ways to cook these guys up! More entries to come about this...!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Stuffing for the Holiday Season

pre-Thanksgiving meal
This recipe was posted on VegNews by Nava Atlas, author of many great cookbooks. I have one of her titles, Vegan Express, which was a staple for me during grad school and actually has a lot of great recipes that my friends and family (veg and non-veg like) really love. It's a great example of a cookbook that is nothing too fancy, just simple, easy and affordable ingredients you use every day. She has a great knack for combining them all, and when I first became vegan I found it was a great resource when I just didn't know what to make for dinner that evening. Anyway, enough about Nava...and on to the recipe!

Wild Rice & Apple Stuffing

What you'll need:

2-1/2 cups water
2/3 cup uncooked wild rice
1 vegan bouillon cube
1-1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 large celery stalk, diced
2 medium apples, peeled and finely diced
3 cups whole-grain breadcrumbs
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup apple juice

What you'll need to do:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water to a simmer. Stir in wild rice and bouillon cube, bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently until water is absorbed, about 35 minutes. 
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a medium-size skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add onion and celery and sauté until golden brown. In a large mixing bowl, combine the onion-celery mixture with cooked wild rice, apples, breadcrumbs, cranberries, salt, thyme, and pepper, and stir to combine. Slowly drizzle in apple juice, stirring constantly, until mixture is evenly moistened. 
In a lightly oiled shallow baking pan, transfer mixture and spread evenly in pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until well heated through. 

Sounds good, right?

It was! Here are some tips and tricks, and a few of my own variations.
1. I didn't use celery. I just don't like it that much. It's fine all mixed into the stuffing, but all they had at the grocery store were these giant stalks and I didn't feel like buying a whole bunch of it just to throw in a little bit. In retrospect it might have provided a nice balance to the flavors, but I wasn't missing it, either. The apples provided a nice crunch factor. 

2. Whole-grain breadcrumbs? This would have been easy enough to do, but the truth is, I'm also not a big whole-grain person. I know it's healthier and blah blah blah, but to be perfectly honest whenever a recipe calls for whole-grain bread or whole wheat flour or whatever it may be, I usually just substitue white! This recipe was no exception.

3. Instead of apple juice I used what we already had on cider! I think it was a great addition! There's just enough that it's a very subtle substitution, but I can't help but think it was a nice little touch.

4. I didn't want your boring out-of-the-box breadcrumbs, though (no good for stuffing, and never as good as home-made!), so I grabbed a french loaf, and worked a little (admittedly, very easy!) magic.


This may be standard knowledge for many of you, but for the rest, if you've got a food processor (or blender!) here's the deal: just break up some pieces and throw 'em in!

making bread crumbs

A few pulses later and you'll be in breadcrumb heaven!

making bread crumbs

Et voilá!

5. Admittedly, I didn't actually do this last tip, but I think it would be super yummy! The other day I grabbed lunch at Whole Foods, and they had a very similar stuffing, with dried cranberries and pomegranate seeds! It was delicious! The seeds provided little bursts of juicy flavor--I can't wait to try that myself.

Otherwise, I pretty much stuck with the recipe and was quite satisfied with the results.

wild rice and apple stuffing

It's nice to keep a little juice or water on hand for re-moistening the next day.
The recipe says it serves 6-8 but I suppose that depends on what component this serves in your meal, and how much you eat! My boyfriend and I went through it in just a couple of sittings!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Holiday Feast! Well, sort of...

pre-Thanksgiving meal
It's a fun time to be writing a food blog. With all of the holiday celebrations comes a lot of eating, and food making! If you love cooking like I do, this can be quite a treat. This year I tried venturing outside of my comfort zone, particularly around Thanksgiving. My boyfriend and I planned to be with his family on Thanksgiving, so I had no worry about fulfilling the "Thanksgiving staples." Instead I thought it would be fun to try something a bit more adventurous!

I've recently started subscribing to VegNews, so I tried a recipe on their site for a wild rice and apple stuffing. After seeing Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, I thought it would be fun to give his cranberry sauce recipe a whirl (I was very intrigued by the Bourbon addition)...and so I did!

I'll write about each of these endeavors in a separate entry, but for now suffices to say the stuffing was quite tasty (although I think I've come up with a new twist I'd like to try some other time!), and the cranberry sauce my mother taught me to say..."Not to my taste."

And what else do I have to offer you by way of holiday recipes? 

I will add links to each of these as I complete them, but you can look forward to...

gingerbread vegans, spiced (and spiked) holiday cider, gingersnaps, cupcakes of all kinds,  flavorful roasted nuts, and a whole lot of root vegetable adaptations! Stay tuned!