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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

I grew up in one small town and currently live in another not far from the one I grew up in.  The area is surrounded by vegetable farms, sugarcane, and cattle.  The towns are small, the people friendly, everyone knew everyone else and if you snuck out at night, your mama knew before you got home because most likely someone called her.  Why did they call her…because they knew what time your curfew was.  Friday night football games were the thing to do and afterwards you hung out in a parking lot.

Until recently, on the table of restaurants, you found salt, pepper, sugar and raw sugar (we were in style before the rest of the world).  There was no equal, sweet-n-low, etc.. because we were surrounded by sugarcane fields.  If your parents didn’t work for the industry then you knew someone that did.  The sugar industry supported the small town.  Still to this day, I DO NOT PUT THE FAKE STUFF IN MY FOOD OR DRINKS!  I want real sugar, not some fake manmade sweetener that can’t begin to compare to the real stuff and only God knows what that fake stuff is doing to our bodies.  I grew up munching on stalks of sugarcane.  After more than 40 years, I think I can safely say that sugar ain’t that bad.

Now in towns filled with vegetables, sugarcane and cattle, you can safely assume there is not any tofu to be found.  Asking for Tofu usually gets the response, “God Bless You,”  because surely that was a funky sneeze and not a real word.  Sometimes you get, “What is it?”  or  “Toe What?”  or “Is that some kind of new Martial Arts?”  It’s not always easy living where time seems to stop and people don’t get out much.  Usually it takes traveling to the “big city” 30 minutes away to be able to find what one needs for my vegan dishes.

Having not too long ago visited a Thai restaurant and walking away having had a fabulous meal, I really wanted to finally bite the bullet and cook tofu.  It’s something I have been wanting to do since taking the walk to veganland.  A place I have yet to completely reach because I made a pit stop at “Veganland by the Sea” and can’t seem to move on.  What this means is I have pretty much given up all animals and by-products except for my seafood.  This would make me a pescatarian vegetarian/part time vegan.  I am really liking this little place and do not know if I will leave it.

Anyway, at home I decide to cook tofu for the first time.  I took it out of the package and well, it looked like a big off-white sponge. Not appetizing at all.  I proceeded to cut it up into chunks.  This is what it looked like:

Chopped Firm Tofu

I don’t care who you are, the stuff looked nasty and I started getting nervous thinking there was no way this was going to tastes good.  I set it aside.  I chopped up 1/2 an onion and set that aside.  Then I mixed together 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp ground ginger (because I didn’t have any fresh), 1/2 tsp white pepper and 1 1/2 tsp curry powder.   Then I  grabbed a big pot and put in 1 can of coconut milk, 1/3 cup coconut flakes, the chopped onion and the mix of seasonings.  I let that simmer for a little while until the onion was nice and cooked and then added the chopped tofu and about 4 cups of stirfry veggies.  Once the veggies were tender and the tofu looked okay (not sure what okay means since it was a first for me).  I served it over brown rice.  If you think you need more coconut milk, feel free to add some.

Coconut Milk Mixture

Thai Coconut Tofu Curry

Now, while I did not have any bok choy or lemongrass, two things I would have liked to add to my recipe, this turned out FANTASTIC!!!  I was so thrilled with it and the coconut curry flavor was mouthwatering.  I had never attempted to cook Tofu or Thai.  This was so good that I truly cannot wait to try it again.  The tofu chunks were delicious and took on the flavor of the dish.  I am going to have to attempt another tofu dish.  I just don’t know what.  My whole family ate it and there was just enough left over for me to have it for lunch the next day.

So if you are straddling the fence and wondering whether to Tofu or to not Tofu.  I say go for it and try it like this.  You will not be disappointed.  Enjoy!

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Gravy and the South go hand in hand.  No true Southern Lady would ever put something on the table alone if it can be smothered in good ol’ gravy.  Growing up we had every type of gravy you can think of –  tomato gravy, onion gravy, mushroom gravy, brown gravy, meat gravy (if a meat can make some grease than it can be turned into gravy), turkey giblet gravy.  I’m sure there are others that at this moment have escaped me.  My mom and Aunts will remind me of them later.

When visiting the Savannah/Hilton Head area which is one of my favorite Southern spots, I make a habit of trying everyones shrimp and grits.  It is always smothered in gravy of some kind.  Everyone does it a little differently and I’m still not sure who has my favorite.  I haven’t been there since I started my journey.  It is going to take an iron will and possibly some handcuffs and shackles to keep me from putting that in my mouth.

My Mama served gravy to go over every meat dish, rice dish, or mash potatoes.  My mom and my Aunt Eleanor still laugh about the time they went to my sister’s house for dinner.  At the time, my sister had just gotten married.  She served them rice with dinner and committed a Southern Crime.  There was no gravy of any kind to go on top of that rice.  The eyebrows raised and the smirks started.  How, they wondered, could someone raised to understand that gravy was it’s own food group, sit rice on the table with no gravy?  Surely she was about to get up and go get the homemade tomato gravy that was still on the stove or maybe it was some sort of brown gravy made from the meat item she placed in front of them.  They waited….nothing.  They put a little butter on their rice, some salt and pepper, and to this day have still not gotten over it.

Since tiptoeing to veganland, the only type of gravy I have had is tomato gravy.  It’s good and goes well with rice.  The other day, I was dying for some good ol’ gravy of some kind; any kind but tomato to go on my rice.  In the pantry, we had some of those gravy packets and I thought I would just use one of those but looking at the ingredients and seeing “beef fat” quickly changed my mind.  I am far from a full fledged vegan but land meat has not entered my mouth since last August and probably if I put meat in my tummy now, I would probably get sick.

Close to the gravy packets, I saw packets of Lipton Onion Soup/Dip Mix.  I thought hmmmmmm and looked at the ingredients.  It looked safe – no hooves, beaks, or varmint parts included.  So, I decided to go for it and see what happens.  In a saucepan over low heat, I poured the packet and 1/4 cup water.  Then added 3 Tbsp of unbleached all purpose flour.  I stirred till all the lumps were out and it was thick and pasty, then started slowly adding water 1/4 cup at a time and stirring in between till I liked the consistency.  IT WORKED!!!!  I had just made onion gravy that was edible.  Served over rice; I was pleasantly surprised.  It was very oniony so if you don’t like onions or onion dip, don’t do it.  If you do and your a vegetarian or vegan, well then, you just opened your door for gravy again.  It also opened my brain because now I am going to try to come up with a homemade onion and mushroom gravy. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

I can now have my Mom and the Aunts over without the eyebrows raising and the hidden smirks.  They may not like it, but at least it will be on the table in front of them.  I have just saved myself from being talked about for years to come.  Enjoy!

Onion Gravy

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Visiting my sister is always fun.  This time though it took a little extra planning.  She calls me to check about the weekends menu.  Everyone, it seems, worries about what to feed the non-meat-eater.  For one meal, the kids and carnivores decided on hamburgers.  My sister and I settled on a veggie burger.  She isn’t a big meat eater.  With it went rice, steamed broccoli and corn.

Her new hubby of 10 months is a HUGE CARNIVORE and refuses to eat a meal without meat.  This is not a joke.  The man thinks it is not a real meal unless there is a carcass hunk laying next to the other stuff.  His favorite meat is chicken which totally gives me the weebie geebies.  He reminds me of Grill King before I turned his world and grill upside down by changing my diet.

While Grill King has been most accommodating with my new life change, my brother-in-law and I have had a few discussions on why I think this life change is necessary.  It is not one he understands nor do I believe it is one he could handle if my sister were to venture down the same path.

Together, he and my sister have 6 kids.  Add in my two and the two elder carnivores and well, you can see for yourself how many hamburgers it takes to fill a grill.

grilled cow carcass

It was a fun evening.  Unfortunately, my sister and I live at two different ends of the state and since Florida is extra long, there are about 7 driving hours between us.  Not always fun for the kids who miss each other the second we leave.

On another note, I recently passed the bacon test.  Real bacon is one of those things that use to make my mouth water.  The other day Grill King pulls some out for breakfast.  I gave him the look that basically asked “do you value your life?”  He said he really needed to use it up and had been putting it off knowing that I may possibly scalp him for it.  I prepared myself for the smell of the bacon frying but then I even surprised myself.  No part of me felt like ripping him limb from limb.  My mouth did not water and I had no desire to eat the plate of bacon.  While this may not seem like a big deal to most for me it was a big step forward.  Tofu anyone?

Speaking of Tofu, I need to figure out how to cook the stuff.  I looked at in the other day in the grocery store and thought about buying it but it was just way too alien to me.  I had absolutely no idea what to do with the stuff.  I recently had some at a Thai place that was fabulous.  If I could cook it like that, I would be thrilled.  I guess I just need to bite the bullet and go for it.  If anyone out there has any great recipes with tofu, please send them my way.

It’s been 8 meatless months.  I’m talking land meat here; seafood and I still have a close relationship.  We visit about once a week.  Matter of fact I was slurping some oysters down just the other day.  Do oysters have a mama?  It seems to be a controversy. Other than the occasional seafood meal , I cook completely vegan.  I cook with no dairy or eggs at home.  I don’t stress too much if I’m eating out.  Right now it just makes it easier.

My kids have handled this whole change quite well.  My daughters favorite dinner is my spinach bean patties.  My son is not huge on meat either and would rather have a plate full of all the other stuff.  Grill King eats along with us and then has the once a week land-meat craving where he chases down a grocer and comes back with either a hoof or a beak to grill.  Both the kids really enjoy fish and like I said, I cook it about once a week.

My latest fish dish (I cooked this last week) was a new one that turned out quite well.  First I cooked some hashbrowns.  Then I put the hashbrowns in a baking dish and covered them with fresh spinach.  After that I place fish filets on top that had been seasoned with salt, pepper and old bay.  On top of that went a mixture of chopped tomatoes, 2 kinds of olives, capers and a little olive oil.  Then I baked it and WOW did this come out good.  See the for yourself:

Hashbrowns covered with spinach

Ready to go in the oven.

Time to eat.

If you like fish, give this one a shot.  It’s something a little different that tastes really good.  If your a vegan or vegetarian, leave off the fish.  Either way Enjoy!

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I’m running behind on my blogs.  Sometimes life gets in the way of the things we really enjoy.  Writing is something I enjoy but the last couple of weeks have been filled with homeschooling, swimming and lots of little things that seem to trip me up.  I have not worked on my book nor have I blogged.  I have been eating well though and have discovered that I can still eat scalloped potatoes if I cook them.

I think I mentioned before that when I graduated from high school my Grandma gave me a cook book.  It was filled with yummy southern dishes and went with me off to college.  It has always been one of the cookbooks I grab when looking for something super tasty.  The problem with this cookbook is now that my diet is limited, I can’t just cook everything in there.

I already veganified the rice pudding recipe which turned out really good.   We had some potatoes that needed cooking so I decided to try to veganify my favorite homemade scalloped potato recipe that was in the cookbook.  Homemade scalloped potatoes are yummy, comforting and oh-so-southern. The boxed stuff just can’t hold a candle to the homemade.

Obviously these turned out fabulous or I wouldn’t be blogging about them.  I have had stuff not turn out and well that is always a disappointing waste that aggravates me to no end because of the time I spent on something that ends up down the garbage disposal.  Very frustrating because when you are cooking vegan, well, YOU HAVE TO COOK and cooking takes up time and you expect to be able to eat it in the end.  If that doesn’t happen, well then, you are pretty much ready to hurt someone.  These scalloped potatoes can be eaten in the end.  Everyone can feel safe.

Recipe for vegan Scalloped Potatoes:

About 5 large potatoes or 7-8 smaller ones (any kind will do, this time I used red), peeled(up to you, I didn’t peel all mine) and sliced

1/4 cup non dairy “butter” (I used Earth Balance)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1/4 cup unbleached flour

1/8 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

2 cups almond milk

Melt the “butter” in a sauce pot.  Add the onions and mushrooms.  Cook till tender but not browned.  Add the flour, salt and pepper.  Stir till mixed then pour in the almond milk.  Stir and cook till thick and bubbly.  Then cook about 2 minutes longer.  Turn the heat off and layer half of your sliced potatoes in baking dish.  Pour half of your thickened mixture over the potatoes.  Layer the rest of the potatoes and then cover with the other half of your thickened almond milk mixture.  Bake covered for 30 minutes at 350˚.  Uncover, stir gently and bake another 30 minutes.  Then take out, serve and chow down!

Layered potatoes

Potatoes with Sauce on top

Scalloped Potatoes Cooked and Ready to Eat!

I love Southern Comfort food.  I won’t be biting into a big piece of meatloaf but at least I can now have my Scalloped Potatoes.  Healthy Food, no guilt and super yummy.  I’ll have to make these for the next family gathering.  Now go make you some and Enjoy!

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It was bound to happen.  I had predicted it.  Grill King was stomping around the house feeling the need to rip into a hoof, beak or varmint.  We entered the grocery store and as we neared the meat aisle, I could see his eyes light up, then glaze over.  Before I new it, there was a cow carcass lying in my buggy.  It was a t-bone.  I can remember once sharing this with Grill King.  He always gave me the filet side.  Such a nice guy to share his kill with the one he loves.

I looked at the carcass with disgust.  Grill King, on the other hand, beat his chest as if he had just run out of the cave and chased down this ferocious beast with a single spear.  Ahhh Ahhh Ahhh! (is that how Tarzan yelled?)

Looking at the meat aisle, I realized for the first time that I was actually disgusted by the look of all that meat.  I guess that was going to happen eventually.  It has been 4 1/2 months since land meat has entered my body.  Cooked bacon still makes my mouth water.  I think that’s the only meat I dream about now.  While I gave up eggs 2 months ago, I am sure that over Thanksgiving and Christmas some sneaked into my body.  However, since the holidays, I have stuck to my guns.  Dairy will be leaving soon.  It is slowly packing it’s bags and only has a few items still lying around.  I hang out with fish and seafood a couple times week.  We are buddies and I still am not sure I will be able to cut that connection off.  Other than those couple of nights of hanging out with seafood, I am a veggie girl.

Once home from the grocery store, I went to work to see what could be served with grilled carcass and without grilled carcass.   I preferred the latter.  We did have some asparagus that would go great on the grill and since that baby was obviously going to be smoking, may as well use it for something healthy.  I am not a big fan of asparagus.  I eat it because it’s good for me and it doesn’t make me run for the porcelain god.  But really there are so many other vegetables that I would rather have.

Since cooking butternut squash for the first time a few weeks ago, I have come to love it.  I decided to try something different by adding it to couscous (I have a big bag of Israeli Couscous from Costco).  Together with potatoes and an onion, this turned out super yummy.

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes

3 small potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion chopped

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 1/2 cup couscous

2 1/2 cup water

vegetable bouillon cube

fresh parsley

Salt, pepper, granulated garlic to taste

Put the vegetable bouillon cube in the 2 1/2 cups of water and set aside for it to dissolve.  Place the butternut squash and potatoes in a bowl, pour about a tbsp of olive oil on them, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Mix well, then place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, place 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pot and saute the chopped onions until translucent.  Add the couscous to the olive oil and onions.  Keep stirring until it just starts to brown, add a tad more olive oil if needed, and then pour in the 2 1/2 cups of water with the vegetable bouillon cube and the sliced almonds.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Take the roasted butternut squash and potatoes out of the oven.  Add to the pot of couscous and mix well.  Place in a bowl, sprinkle chopped parsley on top and serve.   Enjoy!

This recipe passed the Grill King test and the kid test.  Even my picky eater ate it.  I will be making it again.

Butternut Squash and Potato Couscous

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My goal was to see how many healthy things I could stuff in one patty and still get my kids to eat it.  It was an experiment  so I risked everyone going ewww.  Instead of the ewww’s, I got “can I have some more?”  Once again I got lucky and made something really yummy.

I considered calling these Spinach Chickpea Corn Cutlets but living with a carnivore put an end to that idea.  Cutlets usually refer to a meat item and Grill King let me know that I was not fooling anyone.  He could handle having a meatless dish but he drew the line at calling a veggie bean patty a cutlet.  I could tell by his mood that he was starting to crave a bite of that which once roamed the earth.  Either a steak was in his future or what he calls his “wing fix”.  Hooves or beaks will soon be on our grill.  Maybe I’ll hide the debit card.

The amazing part of these patties is that my picky eater not only ate them but said they were good.  Normally if I put things like spinach, celery, garlic and onion on her plate, she would pitch a fit and have her lip stuck out far enough for someone to trip over it.  There was no lip out on this one.

1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and mashed

1/2 cup corn meal

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 cups fresh loose spinach

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp paprika

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup vegetable broth or water with vegetable cube dissolved

Salt and pepper

Mix together mashed chickpeas, wheat gluten, corn meal, olive oil, soy sauce, vegetable broth and seasonings (salt and pepper to your liking).  In a small food processor finely chop the celery, onion and garlic together.  Add to the chickpea mixture.  Then put the spinach in the food processor and chop on low so that the pieces are bigger.  Add the spinach to the chickpea mixture and mix together well.  If you feel you need to sprinkle a little more corn meal and wheat gluten go ahead.  Just be sure to mix it in well.  Make into several patties and then fry them in a small amount of olive oil or the oil of your choice.  Fry until brown and crispy on one side then carefully flip and fry until the second side is brown and crispy.

Serve with your favorite dish.  We had ours with Quinoa with sliced almonds and pineapple, and sliced tomatoes and avocado.  These are really good.  The cornmeal gives it a crispness on the outside that really seems to add an interesting texture to your regular chickpea patties.  I think it’s the cornmeal that makes this so yummy and different from all the others out there.

We had these patties earlier this week and since they were so good and went over well, I tried making a variation of these tonight using cannelloni beans instead of chickpeas and I also added a 1/4 cup bread crumbs to the mixture.  They were just as good.  So give these a shot and then try a variation of your own.  I think I may try to sneak in carrots or sweet potatoes next.  Enjoy!

Spinach Chickpea Corn Patties

 

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I decided I was going to make something I have never made.  I wanted something healthy and yummy.  I was in the mood for soup which gave me many choices.  About that time, Grill King calls and is at the vegetable/farmers market down the street.  I ask him to bring home two butternut squash.

With Grill Kings arrival and  the decision made, I started searching for recipes.  Once again my kitchen was lacking some of the important ingredients in the recipes I found, so I headed down the path of experiments and managed to make a fantastically delicious soup.

First let me point out that in my 40 something years, I have never cooked a butternut squash.  What I did not know was that trying to cut and peel one would be like using a butter knife to cut through a piece of concrete.  How is it that something you are going to eat starts off as hard as that?  I was amazed and actually considered giving up, thinking there is no way this is going to turn out.

Grill King was out on the porch talking on the phone to his mom and apparently telling her what I was planning to cook, because the next thing I know he is staring at me through the glass doors with a huge smile on his face.  He walks in and tells me that his mom, who apparently has cooked butternut squash, said I was going to have a tough time cutting it.  I was actually relieved to know that this super hardness was normal.

I gladly handed the knife over to him and told him I needed it peeled and chopped.  He went to work.

2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 small onions, chopped

6 celery stalks, chopped

1 apple, chopped (because I had one)

4 – 5 cups water

Vegetable bouillon cube

salt/pepper to taste

Coat the chopped butternut squash and sweet potatoes with the olive oil.  Stir all together, then place  on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, place the garlic, onions, celery, vegetable bouillon cube and 2 cups of water in a pot.  Saute till all are soft.  Add the baked squash, sweet potatoes and 2 more cups of water to the pot.  Mix together well and then throw in the chopped apple, salt and pepper.  Dip out a little at a time and place in a food processor.  Blend till smooth and pour in a separate bowl for holding.  Continue this step until all is blended.  Place the soup back into the pot and heat for about 5 more minutes.  It will be thick and yummy.  Add another cup of water if you want it soupier.  Taste and season more if you want.  Then Enjoy!  Give it a try, I promise you will not be disappointed.  This passed both the Grill King test and the kid test.

This recipe made 6 -8 servings depending on the size.  It could easily be cut in half.  We had it for leftovers.

My only recommendation would be to make sure you have someone with the strength of Hercules to cut through and peel the squash.  Grill Kings strength comes from the fact that he is a carnivore and uses his muscles to rip through things like hooves, beaks and varmints.  Picture a T-Rex.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Thick and Yummy Butternut Squash Soup

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