Monday, September 10, 2012

It's been a long 7+ months since the last time I posted.  I had a major issue crop up in my life that took me completely away from the life I knew and led me on a new path.  I'm finally making my way back here.  :::smile:::

During the last 7 months, I have cooked occasionally.  Actually, I've cooked more than occasionally, but didn't take pictures or have the energy to blog about it.  I'll recap now, though.
In February, I made a Blueberry Streusel Cake with Lemon Icing.  While it was tasty, it wasn't a dessert that my sons appreciated, so only a couple of slices were eaten.  (I mean, really, how much could I eat?!?!?)
I would make it again, but before I did, I'd make sure that I was making it for a crowd that likes blueberries and lemons.  The combination is very refreshing.
In March, I made a chili that had a combination of veggies that I couldn't imagine would taste good together.  Why I made it, I'll never know, but I'm glad I did.  I LOVED IT!  I made Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts from Appetite for Reduction (p. 238). Luckily, the recipe is on, and I've included the link for you here.  I will be making this again this fall/winter.  It had such a great flavor and just enough zing for me.  I highly recommend this chili.  I know it sounds weird to put both Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes in chili, but it was excellent.  Sometimes it really pays off to walk outside of my food comfort zone and try something totally new.
In April, I made Creamy Avocado and Sweet Potato Soup.  It was pretty tasty.  I like a creamy soup now and again.  It was a good way to use up the avocado that was reaching the end.  In fact, I have an avocado and a sweet potato that I need to use.  This would be an excellent soup for his week.
In May, I made New York Times Veggie Burgers.  These were quite tasty.  My oldest son loved them.  I made 6 regular burgers and 1 baby burger.  I got to eat one of the regular burgers the day I made them and the baby burger a week or two later (I froze the leftover burgers), but my son ate the rest.  I need to make these again.
In May, I also made a Banana Crumble (recipe at the bottom of the webpage). I added sliced fresh strawberries to it.  It would have been good with half or even a third of the crust listed in the recipe.  There was WAY TOO MUCH crust on this and not enough fruit/filling.
Finally in May, I made Ole-Fashioned Chili Beans (click on the 169 and it will take you to the recipe) from Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Foods. The chili is a bit on the spicy side, but good.  I made it because I was going to make Chili Cheese Fries (page 165 of the cookbook), but I ended up just eating the chili.  I have some of the chili in the freezer and need to thaw it so I can make the Chili Cheese Fries.  All of the recipes in this book have less than 350 calories.  I still need to make the Seitan Cheesesteak that is pictured on the front of this cookbook.
This isn't something I cooked, but this dog is something I acquired.  This is Gumbo.  No, he is not my dog, but I have been fostering him since May 12, 2012, so just about 4 months now.  Fostering has been very rewarding and challenging.  Gumbo had been in a boarding facility for just about 6 months. At the time I brought him home, he had lived almost half of his life in a kennel.  (He was just over a year old.)  He's put on weight and is a loving dog to my family, but he has stranger issues.  He's good with my two girls (the black lab and rottie/shepherd).  Although we love Gumbo, he's not a forever dog for us. I'm really hoping that we can help him on his way to finding the perfect home for him.
These are two pictures of Gumbo in August.  He's relaxed a lot in the past four months.  I can tell he didn't know a lot of love early in his life because it took him a long time to connect with us.  Now, he has and he is an attention hound who thinks, at about 60 or 65 pounds, that he IS a lap dog.  :)
In July, I decided enough was enough with my appliances.  My oven stopped working.  The gas would come on, but the electronic ignition wouldn't light the oven burner, so I'd just smell natural gas.  That's not a good thing.  The oven did that once, but then lit up when I tried to light it again within a few minutes.  It worked for a week or two without problem, but then it started acting up again.  I couldn't mess around with natural gas.

My dishwasher was over 30 years old.  I believe my house was built in 1978, 1980 at the latest.  The dishwasher was the original one from when the house was built.  It hadn't been working well for a while, but I scrubbed the dishes before I put them into it.  It still left streaks.  I was just tired of it and knew I needed a new dishwasher.  Plus, it sounded like a jet engine when it ran.  It was extremely noisy.
I bought a stove and dishwasher in one sitting.  The stove crapped out for the last time on Saturday and I was using a small electric convection oven to bake.  Sunday night, I went online searching for a sale and found one at Sears plus 12 months no interest financing.  I bought a stainless steel stove with a black top and a black Bosch dishwasher that is so quiet, we can't hear it when it's running.  It has a red light that shows on the floor to tell us the dishwasher is running.  My fridge is black, so everything matches nicely now.  I swear the new appliances even make the 30+ year old cabinets look better.  :)  I love them both.
Of course I needed to try out my stove, so I made Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup from the Fat Free Kitchen Vegan blog. This is one of my favorite soups.  It hits the spot no matter when it's made during the year.  I also made Smoky Refried Bean Soup from this website, but I have no pictures of it.  I made it during the summer (June), and I liked it very much.  It's a heavy soup though, and really best suited for the winter months.
I made Vegan Patties Like You've Never Had in late August.  These are made with nuts, refried beans, and oatmeal.  I made the burger mixture on one day, threw it into the refrigerator overnight, and then formed the burgers the next day.  The mixture was very sticky and soft the first day, so the overnight refrigeration was perfect.  I pan fried them for 5 minutes on each side, but they were still very soft burgers, so I ended up baking them at 350ยบ for about 20 minutes.  That helped, but I ended up putting them back into the oven (it had been turned off for 15 or 20 minutes and had cooled down a lot) and just let them sit in there for another 20 minutes or so.
They froze nicely.  I had one tonight and it was firmer, but I wouldn't call these really firm burgers.  They are very tasty, though.  This recipe made 12 burgers for me, 12 good-sized burgers.
Last week, I made Leek Mushroom Potato Stew.  OK, I didn't have any leeks, so I used more onion and a huge handful of chives (I have a huge plant on my deck).  I put in 24 oz. of button mushrooms because those were the only mushrooms I had.  I used Yukon Gold potatoes, because I didn't have purple potatoes.  AND, while I had chorizo sausage that I could have used, I decided to use two links of Field Roast Apple Sage Vegan Sausage, that actually seemed to go perfectly with the flavor of the stew.

I liked this stew, BUT, I hated the pasta in it.  I will make it again, but I will not put pasta in it.  It was mushy and did not reheat well.  Otherwise, it was a lovely stew. I will look for some Field Roast Chipolte Vegan Sausage to use in it. I might like the extra zing.
Tonight, I roasted broccoli, Yukon God potatoes, and baby bella mushrooms in a splash of olive oil, French gray sea salt, and pepper.  OMG!  I love roasted veggies and could have eaten the entire pan of them.  I tried to restrain myself and I saved a generous portion for tomorrow.
I ate them with one of the Vegan Patties Like You've Never Had smothered in pickles and a generous squirt of mustard.  It was a lovely dinner for a Monday night after a dentist visit in the afternoon.  bah!  I'm not a fan of the dentist, but I go when I'm supposed to.  I never want to have any kind of serious periodontal disease.  My ex-husband had perio gum surgery and it looked absolutely torturous.  
OK, that's caught me up to today.  I'm leaving you with a picture of the three dogs together.  As you can see, Gumbo (the lightest dog) thinks he fits right in.  :::smile:::

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State Fair Caramel Apple Oatmeal

This morning, I made State Fair Caramel Apple Oatmeal from Kathy Hester's blog, Healthy Slow Cooking.  In actuality, I did not slow cook this oatmeal and I think it would have been better if I had.  I just didn't have an oatmeal "vision" for today's breakfast last night.  So, I cooked it in my rice cooker.
Here's a couple of interesting things about the rice cooker.  One, when cooking steel cut oats with almond milk (versus water), expect that the milk will "foam up" (and I do mean FOAM UP!!!) while cooking.  Two, don't close the lid of the rice cooker.  Rather, vent it with a wooden spoon laid across the top of the pot.  Three, when you don't think about items one and two, expect that the almond milk will boil over, come out of the top vent, and generally make a mess all over the kitchen counter.  (No, I did not take pictures of that!  ha!)  Trust me, next time I will be making this in my little 1½ quart slow cooker. Sheesh!
This is a very tasty morning oatmeal dish.  I really liked it.  I will say that next time, I'll cut down on the brown sugar as it was a bit sweet for me.  Yes, I did add a touch of brown sugar for the picture (at the top), but this picture is without the added brown sugar and it was still just a tad sweet (but my sons would have loved it).  Of course, that could have been because I didn't slow cook it, but rather fast cooked it in my rice cooker.  I'll still add less brown sugar and see how that is because I did love the flavoring.

If you haven't visited Kathy's blog to explore her 40 recipes for steel cut oats, you need to visit it and start exploring Love Your Oatmeal Celebration.  Kathy has non-oatmeal recipes on her blog, too!  I have her cookbook, The Vegan Slow Cooker, and love that, too!

And now, a request ... Gateway Pet Guardians in St. Louis has been feeding homeless dogs and cats that live on the streets of East St. Louis for years.  You can visit the blog here and read about the wonderful things they have done and see videos of Pj feeding the cats and dogs, something she has done daily for years.  Gateway is one of many competing for a cash award from Monsanto.  Monsanto may not be your favorite corporation, but please go to the competition website and vote for Gateway Pet Guardians.  It's the animals that will benefit from your vote.  Currently, GPG is in 3rd place, which could mean $5,000 to them.  If we can get them to first place, it would mean $15,000.  Please vote daily. The voting doesn't end until January 29.  The more votes GPG gets, the closer they will come to 1st place and the more good these animal angels can do for homeless dogs and cats.  Thank you! :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eggless Nog Pancakes

I bought Soy Nog for the first time this year.  I used to like drinking Egg Nog, within moderation. I wanted the coconut milk version, but didn't see it at Whole Foods.  (I'm sure it was there and I just missed it.)  So, I bought Soy Nog.  OK, not only did I buy one quart, I bought two quarts.  Never mind that I haven't had any in years.  I'm not sure why I thought I'd drink so much of it. Good thing for me, the Soy Nog doesn't expire until January 30, 2012.  
I wanted to make baked Soy Nog French toast, but I couldn't find a recipe I liked and I didn't want to botch one up.  So, I decided that I would alter a vegan pancake recipe.  I used the Vegan Pancake recipe by the Happy Herbivore as my base.  I've not made the basic pancake recipe, so I'm not sure how those turn out.  Perhaps that should have been my first step.
I don't "measure" my flour or other dry ingredients that are in "cup" measurements.  I weigh those as I feel it gives a better result because weighing ingredients is more consistent.  The pancakes were too dense for my liking.  Even given my weighing the ingredients, I think using the whole wheat pastry flour was much too heavy for these pancakes.  Could be that I didn't use any water, but used all Soy Nog.  I'll try these again sometime (read: this December), but make a few alterations to try to get a lighter, fluffier pancake. Below is my recipe.

Eggless Nog Pancakes

8.50 ounces whole wheat pastry flour (equivalent to 2 cups)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

1 3/4 cup Soy Nog (can use 1/2 cup water for part of the Soy Nog)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients to mix.  Let batter rest for a few minutes.  Heat griddle pan (heat medium high).  Use 1/4 cup ladle to pour batter onto to skillet. Cook for a couple of minutes and then flip.
Because the batter was so dense, it didn't "bubble" like regular pancakes, so I had to watch the pancakes more closely so they wouldn't overcook.
The flavor was good.  I liked the subtle cinnamon/nutmeg flavor.  I do think a combination of a lighter flour and subbing some water for part of the Soy Nog would lighten up the density.  I much prefer a batter that is thinner and pours onto the griddle. This batter was so thick that I had to put it on the griddle and then spread it around.  If you like dense pancakes, this is definitely the recipe for you.
Jordan, January 20, 2012
On another note, here's a picture of Jordan playing in the snow on Friday evening.  We got SOCKED with snow on Friday, which meant a 2½ hour commute home for me.  I was so glad to be home.  I used my electric snow thrower shovel to make quick work of my driveway.  Gotta love the electric aspect of it!