Friday, October 30, 2015

Spooky Juice

I wasn't really thinking about Halloween until after I took a look at this hue. Look how bloody/pumpkiny it is!  This elixir:  purple cabbage, orange, ginger and daikon radish, was especially zippy in flavor. I had forgotten the power of the daikon and probably used too big a piece.  After the first couple of sips my palate adjusted and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cozy Veggies

Here are a couple of warm, veggie-full photos perfect for our cooler, wetter weather these last few days. This one is my take on Veganomicon's gumbo recipe. Mine has more liquid smoke, more veggies that were in my larder and garden (Chinese longbeans), plus extra fresh greens and quinoa, with which one can never go wrong. Delish!

This turmeric drink was just right while sitting by the fire the other evening. I wanted something a little sweet and this fit the bill. I just grated about a tablespoon of fresh turmeric root and warmed it with almond milk.  I spooned up the pulpy goodness at the bottom too. Give it a try!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

'Tis the Season

For applesauce, that is! Truly I'm indulging in a bit of wishful thinking, pretending that Autumn is in full swing down here in the deep south. Still, temps in the 70's are so much better than the 95 degree weather of a couple of weeks ago, so we are counting our blessings.

Back to my wishful thinking:  I wish you could smell it in here. The photo doesn't do it justice. This is a labor of love, as it's a bit labor-intensive for the output which is always gone in a flash, but it's still worth doing.  Here's my recipe:

Cheryl's Favorite Applesauce

10-12 apples, peeled and cored -- make sure at least one is a Granny Smith

1Tbsp. "butter" of your choice

a splash of water or cider if you have it

1tsp. Allspice

1 tsp. Nutmeg

a pinch of kosher or Himalayan salt

Really, the only effort here is the apple prep. Chop the apples roughly and warm them in a pan on medium/low heat with all other ingredients. Make sure there is enough liquid on the bottom that the apples won't burn. Stir periodically so the apples warm and break down evenly. After all the apples seem to have softened and they begin to simmer, turn the heat to low and cover. I usually cook the applesauce for a total of about 45 minutes. Enjoy warm or cold.

I always have big bags of organic apples around for school lunches and juicing. When they begin looking a little soft I know it's time to make the sauce. The bulk of the apples can be any variety, but I find the tastiest sauce includes the tart flavor of the granny smith. A little squeeze of lemon or some citric acid may be good alternatives if you find yourself grannysmithless. Obviously, this recipe responds well to personalization. You may like cinnamon or ginger. Add more "butter" if you want a more silky, rich sauce. If you want it sweeter you could add some brown sugar or, even better, a tablespoon of molasses! I'm not a big sweets fan myself, preferring the natural sugars in the apples. This is amazing warm or cold. I really love it on a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning. It tastes like apple pie in your bowl. Hope you like it!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Two Pods of Okra

My lone okra plant has become the star of the garden this year. Undeterred by the little green grasshoppers who feast upon it's splayed leaves, it keeps producing large, pale yellow hibiscus-like flowers and one or two pods at a time. I've tried letting more of the pods ripen before harvesting, but have found that the very large ones become a bit dry and woody. Still, those were well utilized finely diced in the gumbo. Since I have a penchant for the juicier okra pods, I pick 'em when they are about four inches long now.

Not wanting this sparse but constant harvest to languish in the crisper, I've been adding one or two pods of okra to foods one wouldn't normally pair with the southern staple. You wouldn't believe how delicious these pods were with my chinese vegetables last night! I roughly chopped four baby bok choy heads and baby portobellos, sauteed them briefly in coconut oil, added thinly sliced okra, fresh garlic, a shake of tamari and a splash of white wine, then covered the whole thing and took it off the heat. The result was perfectly tender-crisp, flavorful, mild, slippery and luscious! The sliminess of the okra creates such a lovely sauce texture. All the flavors were delicious together.

Typically paired with bold spices, okra fared well here in a milder presentation. The okra plant is originally from the continent of Africa, but is used widely in Creole, Cajun, Caribbean, Indian and Turkish cuisines, among others. I loved this world fusion experiment. As for the garden, I'll be adding a few more dramatic, towering, resilient okra plants next spring.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Where We've Been

I'm not talking much about food in this post, although most of what I ate on vacation did turn out to be vegan. I just have some pretty photos I want to share of one of the most beautiful spots I've seen -- St. John. For several years now our family has been regrouping on this tiny island. There are only a couple of hotels on the island and thus far we have opted to rent villas. We go on the off-season to make it affordable (hot) so being on top of a mountain makes it much more pleasant -- there's plenty of cooling breeze up there! This first photo is sort of an artsy shot through the funky spindles of the lower terrace of our villa. The Westin complex and it's dock in Great Cruz Bay is below. We rent a dinghy from the Westin each year so we can check out isolated beaches and coves which have no other access.
My favorite time of day on the island is the early morning, before the sun has risen over the hills when it's still quiet except for a few cockadoodledos. This is a shot from our upper terrace next to our pool. All the tilework and blown glass in our villa, The Sapphire Breeze, was created by the professional artists who own the house. Not much of it is featured in these photos, but it's stunning.

The island is in a drought currently, so you can see that the verdant tropical isle of years past features more shades of brown. Still, the more muted palette reveals some interesting things I may have otherwise missed. This tree is seriously struggling -- appearing basically dead, but yet . . . it blooms! This immediately reminded me of [spoiler] the white tree of Gondor in the "Return of the King" LOTR fans will understand. I am rooting for this stalwart little tree which, while fighting for its life, also plays host to AIR PLANTS! This is a real world, full grown version of my own fairly recent obsession -- see this old photo of one on my kitchen table:

This healthy little guy is what the wild tilisandria would look like if not enduring a drought. I know this because my little house plant looked like the wild one after I'd been away a week.

Back to the villa -- sometimes it really was too hot to hang outside, but look at the view from my bed! That's the infinity pool right outside the french doors, and Great Cruz Bay beyond.

Finally, my week in paradise was not all play and no work (though my work is actually a form of play too!) I brought supplies for a few prayer beads that I made for InspireDesigns, the wonderful company where I work. I noticed how pretty the beads looked draped around a conch shell up on our veranda. What do you think? I love my job!

Oh -- I almost forgot to follow up on the food I mentioned earlier, and with good reason. Life on St. John is very active with snorkeling and hiking and boating and jeeping all over steep and narrow mountain roads. By the time we returned to our villa each day we normally just boiled a batch of pasta  and ate it with a bunch of vegetables -- vegan but not gluten-free. The gluten does not bother me as much as cheese would have, but I'm back on the gluten-free plan at home now, no worse for the wear.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Inspired by a Harvest

We've just returned from a week-long trip so my garden was full of surprises. There were gobs of Chinese longbeans, the sugar snap peas had died, there were a couple of cucumbers and, for the first time ever, there were okra. There were two of them.

Since I'm unfamiliar with the okra plant, I decided to start small with only one organic plant. Wondering about the best use of two little okra pods, I opened Veganomicon to the gumbo page! The gumbo I made was only very loosely based upon Isa and Chandra's recipe, as I utilized what was on hand, but it was DELICIOUS served over wild rice -- rich, slippery, smoky and warm.

My daughter has been vegetarian for a couple of months now so I'm sharing my experience with veggies, including vegan dishes like this. This meal was a HUGE hit with the kid. My husband liked it too, but there wasn't much left for him by the time he came down to eat. I'm hoping for a bumper crop of okra and looking forward to the next batch of vegan gumbo!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Little Vegan Food Porn

Though no longer vegan, I'm still mostly eating vegan foods. I'm careful to select organic and unprocessed foods, for the most part, unless I find myself in a circumstance where they're unavailable.

This gorgeous photo of a recent indulgence represents my straying from those clean, unprocessed standards (but only a little bit). This is coconut milk ice cream in chocolate. It was so good with the tart/sweet berries! I've found I can't really have this stuff in my house because I can't stop thinking about it, so I'm thankful it comes in pints. I had two days of decadence, and now it's over. . . . 'til the next time!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Spring Rolls!

My friend, Liat, showed me how to make these a while back. I'm still perfecting the technique since these get pretty messy, but I'm always looking for ways to make healthy food interesting and new for my family. Besides these fresh raw veggies, I prepared a little bit of rice cellophane noodles, mixed them with some tamari and a little fish sauce and then rolled them all into a moistened brown rice paper:

I saw Nigella Lawson rolling spring rolls like sushi and then slicing them thus, but you can see how they'd fall apart, and they did, which didn't detract from their flavor. Next time I'll stick to a burrito-style roll. These can be enjoyed with plum sauce, tamari, hot mustard, sriracha, whatever you like. They were a hit in my household, mess and all!

Saturday, June 13, 2015


This beet was solid magenta on the outside, so I bought it to make Kvass, a fermented drink. Imagine my surprise when I found this lovely interior! Don't worry, the beet won't be wasted after the fermentation completes. I'm sure the remaining pieces will be lovely in a salad or smoothie! I enjoyed this surprise -- it's the little things!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Dog Loves Kale!

Seriously -- Ellie Belly Jelly Bean prefers kale over any other type of food! Loves it.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Foray into Fat Bombs!

Have you heard of the fat bomb trend? Since going gluten-free, I've seen a lot about this ketosis-spurring vehicle. I'm still learning about all this, but without gluten, our bodies arrive at a state of ketosis where we burn our stores of fat instead of the blood sugar in our systems from the carbs we used to eat. A fat bomb -- a gluten-free portion of healthy fat -- is said to spur the process. I'm more interested in the health benefits to my central nervous system and the energy jolt these will provide, but I'll take the ketosis too. A word to the wise:  ketosis will not happen if you are still eating bread and pasta. In that case these are just really delicious, mostly-organic raw, vegan truffles:  still worth making!

I can't believe how deliciously decadent these turned out to be! I have a wonderful, creative job working with dear friends. I can work at home, but I also work collaboratively at the studio. On studio days I find myself so "in the zone" that I have no interest in sustenance until I find my energy flagging. I normally bring a couple of dates or a square of dark chocolate for these times so the productivity can proceed uninterrupted, but one of these will be so much better for me! I used what I had on hand, so you could obviously tweak this recipe to your convenience and liking.

Chocolate Truffle Fat Bombs

12 oz. coconut almond butter (the whole jar)
1 c. almond meal flour (Bob's Red Mill has a good one)
1/3 c. hemp protein powder (Bob's Red Mill)
1/3 c. raw organic cacao
1/2 c. date sugar (really 100% crushed dates - that's all)
1/2 c. coconut oil
1 c. raw, unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp. salt
a few shakes of chipotle chili powder (if you like)

1/4 c. cacao nibs
1/4 c. golden raisins
1/4 c. raw cashews

In a food processor, combine and process the first group of ingredients until smooth, periodically scraping down the sides. Add the last three ingredients and pulse, roughly chopping and incorporating them, retaining a bit of texture. Taste the mixture and add more salt, chili powder or sweetener if desired (I only added a pinch more salt). The mixture will have softened from the heat of the mixing, so refrigerate for an 1/2-1 hour to firm it up enough to roll into balls. I left mine in the fridge a little longer than that and it was quite firm and hard to scoop at first:

But at room temperature it softened pretty quickly. Roll the mixture into golf ball sized pieces and roll in shredded coconut or cacao to seal in the moisture. arrange on parchment-lined pans and freeze for an hour.

Once frozen, the fat bombs can be stored in a Ziploc freezer bag in the freezer or fridge.
Makes 22 fat bombs.

These are delicious and completely satiating! I had only one after making them and found myself completely full and energized and, dare I say it, focused for the rest of the afternoon! I could see myself chowing on a couple of them, though, if 'm really hungry. These natural fats are unstable in a warm room (they melt) so plan to store them refrigerated until munching.  Experiment with your own combination of ingredients and textures. If you don't like 'em crunchy, process until smooth. Share what you come up with!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Garden -- Time to Plan

Look at this lovely straggler from last season. I so love a veggie like this who thrives on neglect. During our chilly, wet winter I hardly checked my garden and most of it is in shambles. There were a few stalwart lacinato kales still producing, however. When I harvested this lot the weather was still pretty cold, so the flavor was a delicious sweet/bitter/fresh. Kale loves the cold. I've not cleared out the garden yet but we've had some warm days so I can expect the next straggler harvest to be less mild.

Life is full and fulfilling right now so I'll take a minute to research plants who love neglect as much as this little guy before planting!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My Kind of Macaroni and "Cheese"

This turned out to be a serendipitous treat. Lately I can't get enough bitter broccoli rabe so that's where it started. In coconut oil at medium-high heat, I sauteed several chopped garlic cloves and a big bunch of the greens. At the last minute I remembered I had some leftover gluten-free pasta in the fridge so I threw it into the pan along with lots of nutritional yeast and a little olive oil.  The yeast flakes coated the noodles and got a little crispy in the pan. Oh boy. The juxtaposition of the fresh bitter with the rich pungent was amazing -- reminiscent of an almost Gorgonzola-like flavor. Mmmmm. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Delicious New Product!

Shopping at Target the other day, I found a bag of frozen, organic shitake mushrooms produced by a company called Woodstock. Normally I feel fresh is best, but these mushrooms are so good! The convenience factor was what originally sold me -- no defrosting needed, just throw the frozen 'shrooms into the pan. But I was surprised to find the flavor and texture of these luscious morsels is transcendent. Really. They starred in this lovely veggie melange of bok choy and kale. I used coconut oil for it's health benefits and then finished the dish with a drizzle of olive oil. I will be buying these again.

You can see that Ellie is also impressed.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bok Choy, Baby!

Look at those lovely little morsels all snug in their bowl! My current fave, Baby Bok Choy, is quickly steamed here with Umeboshi vinegar and a little olive oil. In this season of dietary trial and error, I'm still most comfortable eating veggies.

Another delicious dish, Crispy Garlic Broccoli -- a favorite of my daughter's best friend -- is featured below. Her mom taught me how to make it. She uses only a little olive oil to quickly fry it at a high heat. I start with coconut oil first because of what I've learned from Dr. Wahls' book about the unhealthful results of olive oil at high temperatures, especially for those of us trying to regenerate brain cells. Olive oil is not as bad as some other oils at high heat, but coconut oil is better. The performance is different, though. The olive oil is less tricky when flash-frying. The broccoli tends to brown very nicely without sticking and burning. With the coconut oil, it's easier to burn the broccoli. I just watch it very carefully and only add a tiny bit of olive oil just before it burns, to crisp it, then take it off the heat.

You can see that the broccoli is still tender-crisp throughout with only the outer edges and chunks of garlic browned and crispy. Eat it all up when it's at its best -- hot out of the pan. This is not one of those dishes that's better the next day.