Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Two Changes in My Life: One Small, One Big

 Hey, before you make this soap - read this! Turn out, after using this soap for a while, I actually did not like it AT ALL! 

Change Number One
 I started making my own laundry detergent. It's great. I will never use the name brand stuff again. 
Grate one bar Fels-Naptha soap.
 Add 1 C Borax and 1 C Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. 
Use 1-2 T per load. 

I put my grated soap in the processor to make it a smaller shred. 

After I added the Borax and Washing Soda, I gave it all a big whirl. 

Change Number Two
We lost our beloved puppy, Cabby, when she was hit by a car. My house is quiet and my heart is heavy. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cauliflower Dal with Panch Puran

 (from Susan Voisin at

Anyone out there interested in participating in the Vegan Month of Food 2013?  (VeganMoFo) The fun starts in September. You can see my VeganMoFo2012 posts by clicking here. 

I can’t quite recall when I first heard of the Indian spice panch puran , but I can tell you that I have been thinking about it ever since. Something about the thought of all those seeds popping and jumping around in a hot skillet. Mustard seeds; cumin seeds; fennel seeds: those I knew.  Unknown to me were kalonji seeds and fenugreek. The colors. The aromas. The sensation of those beautiful seeds in my hand. I couldn’t resist. They are gorgeous.

You can find the panch puran (also spelled panch phoran  and panch phoron) at an Indian grocery store or online. It brings a warm and spicy taste to the dal and makes the kitchen smell out of this world. It would be very good on potatoes, rice, lentils….. think flavor and crunch and a nice bite.

This recipe was found on the excellent website Fat Free Vegan Blog by Susan Voisin. She also has a great double layer pumpkin cheesecake that you MUST try!

I encourage you to click here to see the recipe. I encourage you to step out of your food comfort zone and explore new flavors. I encourage you to bring the leftovers to work and watch your co-workers drool with envy..... or shrink back in horror! ha ha! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strawberry Hand Pies

Anyone out there interested in participating in the Vegan Month of Food 2013?  (VeganMoFo) The fun starts in September. You can see my VeganMoFo2012 posts by clicking here. 

Let’s play a simple game. Who among us has not ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ random recipes that filter through our Facebook page? I can usually resist, but I must admit that there is some mighty great looking food streaming past my eyes all day long (not that I’m on FB all day long, but you know what I mean).  I ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ a really interesting pasta creation the other day….basically you just add all kinds of veggies, a can of tomatoes, lots of veggie broth and broken pasta….heat, cover, simmer, stir and voila! You have dinner. Intriguing, right?  I’ll try it and let you know.

This recipe for hand pies was going around the internet last month and I couldn’t resist. They seem so old-fashioned and comforting to me. I totally veganized them – swapped out the butter, cream cheese and cream. I also left out an egg, which I have done before with absolutely no noticeable difference. It must have been too much swapping, or my dough was too moist or too dry or too something, because I was not too successful with the crust; it was too tender and broke apart after the first day, but we didn’t mind.  Not so much HAND pies…. more like FORK pies. Maybe you need the egg to stabilize the dough?

Here’s what you need:
3 C flour
¼ t baking soda
1 t baking powder
½ t salt
1 stick Earth Balance (or dairy butter)
1 C sugar
3 oz cream cheese (I used Tofutti brand)
3 T almond milk (or cream)
1 t vanilla
(you could also add an egg to the dough)

4 C strawberries, washed, hulled, sliced
2 T cornstarch
1/3 C sugar or to taste

1 – 1 ½ C powdered sugar
3-4 T almond milk

Here’s what you do:
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In a mixer, combine the butter, almond milk (or cream) and sugar and mix well. (This is where you could add the egg, if using.) Add in the cream cheese and vanilla. Beat well. Add the dry ingredients. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or more.

Right before assembling, prepare the fruit by mixing the berries, cornstarch and sugar. Mix well and allow to sit and get juicy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly flour work surface. Roll out dough to 1/8” , lifting and rotating to prevent sticking. Use a round cutter or a bowl to create 5-6 inch circles. Transfer the circles of dough to a parchment lined baking sheet. Place several spoonfuls of fruit mixture on ½ of the circles. Fold dough over and crimp to seal edges.

Before placing in oven, you may give the pies an egg wash and sprinkle them with sugar. (I omitted this step.) Also, poke them with a sharp knife to release steam while baking.

Bake 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until brown. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Create a glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and almond milk. It should be thick enough to stick, but thin enough to drizzle from a spoon.

(printable recipe)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cashew Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Anyone out there interested in participating in the Vegan Month of Food 2013?  (VeganMoFo) The fun starts in September. You can see my VeganMoFo2012 posts by clicking here

What a beautiful and elegant way to start our meal, with these delicious stuffed squash blossoms. Surprisingly, it wasn't that tricky…. except for the bees who were living in two of the blossoms!  I followed recipes I found here and here and I researched all kinds of tips on how to deal with the blossoms. Honestly, it wasn't hard at all and I was surprised how sturdy those beautiful golden curls were. Once the cashew cheese was inside, the petals just closed right up around it. Dip them in milk, dredge them in seasoned flour, pan fry them, sprinkle them with salt and gobble away. 

When choosing your squash blossoms, try to pick only the male flower. They have longer, slimmer stems. The female squash flower is attached to a thick, squat stem, which will become the fruit. But be sure to leave some male flowers so the bees can do their pollination thing!

Picked fresh from my garden

I tried to get a photo of the bee living inside - trust me, he was in there

Stuff them, dredge them

Fry them

Serve them with something light - Salad Nicoise was my choice

Here’s what you need:
Fresh squash blossoms – yellow squash, zucchini, pumpkin
½ C raw cashews, soaked overnight in water in the fridge
1 T white miso
2 T nutritional yeast
1 T olive oil
1 T fresh basil
1 C almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 T cornstarch
½ C flour
A pinch of oregano, thyme, basil, etc for the flour
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

Here’s what you do:
Make the cashew cheese by blending the cashews, miso, nutritional yeast and oil in a high powered blender. I had to stop and scrape and press down the cheese quite a bit because it’s really thick. Mine never got totally creamy, but it didn't matter. When it’s pretty well blended, add the basil. Scoop it into a pastry bag (or zip lock type bag).

Prepare the blossoms by opening up a seam and removing the pistol and rinsing away any unwanted stuff….like bees and such.  Fill each blossom cavity with some cheese. The yellow tips of the blossoms will wrap right around the filling. Don’t worry if the flowers break apart – the cheese will hold them together.

Mix the cornstarch milk and place in a shallow bowl. Season the flour with oregano, thyme, salt, pepper. Dip each flower in the milk and then dredge in the flour. Fry them in a bit of oil until brown and crisp. Serve immediately. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Potato Asparagus Stack

Russet potatoes. Fresh asparagus. Olive oil. Tarragon. Dijon. What’s not to love? Plus it’s pretty on a plate. Honestly, good enough for company!  If you don’t happen to have marjoram, try some dried coriander. Either one will give the dressing the desired lemony punch you are looking for.  Inspired by

Here’s what you need:
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
3-4 T lemon juice
½  C olive oil
1 t tarragon
1 t Dijon mustard
1 t marjoram

Here’s what you do:
Peel and slice the potatoes. Drop them in boiling water and simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Remove them from the water and toss them in some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast them in a 425 degree oven to your liking. I turned my over a few times, and gave them a quick blast under the broiler at the end. Plan on about 15 minutes.

Cut the asparagus in half, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the same oven, but for much less time.

Make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, olive oil, tarragon and marjoram.

Stack it all together and drizzle with the dressing. 

And if you're not sick of asparagus yet this year (and who ever gets sick of asparagus?) you might also like these recipes: