Sunday, October 23, 2011

The sweet life

Life has been busy--not too busy to cook, certainly not too busy to eat, but the kind of busy that involves so much writing work that blogging becomes a few keystrokes too many to bear. However, I took a little me time this weekend. Ben made me a soy cappuccino in the machine I got him for his birthday a few weeks ago, and I made this pear tart, from Vegetarian Times. It turned out gorgeous and perfect. See? Mmmm....a perfect Saturday afternoon repast.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Dinner

I spent most of the day cooking--not only processing my motherlode of tomatillos into puree and freezing it (salsa verde all winter!), but preparing all the elements for dinner.  Harvest season is a lot of work!  Here's what I came up with for this evening:

Chickpea cutlets, Napa cabbage slaw with sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds, braised collard greens, potato galette, big juicy grapes. So satisfying! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What to do with a fresh fennel bulb

The fall/winter season has begun for my CSA (community-supported agriculture) share.  Every other week I get a big load of fresh vegetables, a little different every time, so I never know for sure what's coming.  This week, the share included cutting celery, collard greens, kale, Chinese cabbage, a mix of Asian greens, radish greens, leeks, sage, parlsey, garlic chives, and a big white fennel bulb.

Now, I know what to do with most of that stuff, but I've never cooked fennel before, and this beautiful bulb looked like it deserved good treatment.  So, I looked through all the cookbooks I thought might mention fennel--this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, too.  Finally, I took everything I read and mixed it all together, discarded most of it, and came up with this very simple recipe which was so mouth-wateringly delicious that I'm sorry I only had one bulb.  Here's what I did:

Trim the stalk and leaves off the fennel bulb, setting aside some of the freshest of the leaves for garnish.  Cut off the bottom, cut out the hard core at the bottom, and peel off any tough outer leaves.  Very thinly slice the fennel.

Heat 1 tablespoon Earth Balance over medium heat in a skillet (it sounds like a lot for one serving, but it's worth it).  Add the fennel.  Saute for about five minutes, then cover the skillet and let it cook for about 10 minutes.  Uncover, season with salt, and continue to saute about five minutes more, or until some of the fennel pieces are golden-brown and crispy.  Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over everything, stir to cover everything in lemon juice, and serve garnished with fennel leaves.

This made one really delicious serving, so if you want to make this for more people, I would allow about one bulb per person.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Brussels Sprouts-Potato Hash

What do you do with a batch of beautiful Brussels Sprouts?  While strolling (virtually) through the Vegan Mofo blogroll the other day, I saw some delectable photos of Brussels Sprout hash.  I would post the link to them, but I can't remember where I saw it.  Even so, I just had to try it.  I didn't follow a recipe--really, hash is about leftovers.  Instead, I just chopped and tossed according to inspiration, with mouthwatering results.  I may add fried tofu cubes or a leftover Tofurkey beer brat to the rest of it for lunch tomorrow, but for now, no need.  Even without extra protein, this dish tastes fantastic, for die-hard Brussels sprouts fans, and even those who give them a 'meh.'

I started fresh pack of Brussels sprouts I got at the co-op on Monday night, where I shop while my oldest son is taking his drum lesson across the street.  Rinse, slice.

Next, I sliced a red onion (I only had red left from my last CSA haul), cubed a couple of baking potatoes (not the best for frying, but also what I had left from my last CSA pickup), and halved a lemon.

I heated a splash of olive oil in a skillet and grated a big fat clove of garlic into the oil.  On top of that, I added about a quarter cup of raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), most of which I bought to make green mole (stay tuned).

After the garlic began to golden-up and pepitas started popping, I added the onions (saute 5 minutes), the potatoes (saute 5 minutes), and then the Brussels sprouts, then some sea salt, black pepper, and ground chipotle powder.  I sauteed everything for about 15 more minutes, then squeezed half a lemon over the whole shebang and covered the pan to let the potatoes steam a bit, since they weren't getting soft--about 15 more minutes.

And this was dinner--light but filling, nutty and sweet, savory and crunchy--and exactly what I wanted.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

National Taco Day

Rumor has it it's National Taco Day, and I'm not going to confirm or deny (or even google it).  I'm just going to go with it.  Tacos are perfect when you've got leftovers, so I lined up grilled tofu, salsa verde, lettuce, tomato, and Teese onto my whole wheat tortilla.  Rolled it up and that was lunch.  It took all of 3 minutes.  Because I'm intense in the kitchen that way. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall Harvest...and Salsa Verde!

The first two weeks in October are the most beautiful in Iowa, in my opinion.  The air cools, the light gets deeper, shadows lengthen and the leaves all start to turn, tree by tree, all around the neighborhood--red, gold, orange, rust.  Gorgeous!  This is also the time to get most of the rest of the vegetables out of the garden, and boy did we have some work to do!  Even the teenagers helped.  (Who says teenagers can't take a few minutes away from their video games to assist the oldsters with their silly old-fashioned non-digital chores?)  Most of the work for Emmett and I involved plucking tomatillos from the vines, while Ben and Angus attacked the apple tree.  Tomatillos really took over this year, although I was still able to harvest some tomatoes, peppers, and apples. 

Emmett picked these beauties.

Angus trimming the apple tree.

Tomatillos like crazy!

With all of this bounty, obviously I had to make Salsa Verde.  I based it on the recipe in Viva Vegan!, although I only had one white onion and no green onions, so a large yellow onion stood in.  After our garden work, Ben fired up the grill and we roasted the onions, garlic, serranos, jalapenos, and tomatillos--and then some tomatoes and more peppers to add to the guacamole.  Because if tortillas are on the table, then guac also must be on the table.  It's the law.  (You knew that, right?)

Food prep outside is fun!

Oh yeah...soooo good!

If tortillas are on the table, guac must also be on the table. 
What the heck, why not throw some tofu on there, too?  Dinner was whole wheat tortillas with beans, salad, salsa verde, and guac.  Also grapes and apples, and the rest of that rockin' chocolate pudding pie from Saturday. 

Meanwhile, I see big batches of salsa verde in my future, so nothing goes to waste.

And what do you do after a hard day's labor?  You either climb a tree...

He's safe from any further manual labor up there.

Or you lie in the hammock.

Wake me up when...oh, never mind, don't wake me up!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kale chips and veggie soup

My quick no-nonsense kale chip recipe--tear up kale leaves, spread on cookie sheet, spray with cooking spray or olive oil, bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt--and crunch away! Soup is lots of random CSA veggies in veg broth, with a few spoonfuls of TVP.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kicking it off with pudding pie

I couldn't resist this pudding cake when I saw it on the PPK blog, or more precisely, my 13 year old son couldn't resist requesting it, and I'm a sucker for his vegan dessert requests.

I only had half the necessary amount of almond milk (unsweetened vanilla) so used organic plain soy milk for the rest.