I love you once…I love you twice…I love you more than BEANS AND RICE

Actually, there are few things I love MORE than beans and rice, so I was delighted to discover this simple Instant Pot recipe for black beans and brown rice on Cookincanuck.com today.

Sadly, while James tolerates beans, he’s not as big a fan as I am; he prefers beans as a small part of his dinner, not the main performer. Meanwhile, he has no idea that some form of bean is in almost everything I make. Indeed, my chick’n enchiladas–one of his favourites–contains THREE kinds of beans: chickpeas in the vegan chick’n, lentils in the tortillas, and black beans in the rice!

However, my imaginary friends, Chazz and Frances, brought me a sampler pack of Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans (which you can’t buy in Canada), and the beans are so delicious, I want to make sure that when I use them, they’re highlighted in the meal, not unrecognizable as a top secret ingredient.

The first thing I made with the Rancho Gordo beans was an amazing cassoulet with the Alubia Blanca Beans–I used this recipe from Veganlovlie.com, which also called for vegan sausage, so I was able to use the Beyond Beef sausages Annie brought from town. I also topped the cassoulet with some chopped preserved lemon I made back in March. The result was super tasty and satisfying, but James was not particularly impressed.

Vegan Cassoulet

But back to the simple beans and rice recipe. It’s super quick and straightforward, and the result is delicious! I did change a few ingredients slightly, so I’m reproducing the original CookinCanuck recipe with the changes I made:

Vegan Rice and Beans

Set the Instant Pot on Saute and throw in….

  • ½ medium yellow onion chopped

Once the onions are translucent, add…

  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tsp cumin 
  • 2 tsp chili powder 
  • 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Saute for another 30 seconds and add the following (and deglaze the pot):

Stir well until the bouillon base is dissolved into the broth and add…

Press “manual” and set the timer to thirty minutes. When the timer dings, allow the Instant Pot to release naturally for ten minutes and then do a quick release.

Add and mix well…

  • 1 TBS lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

I served it (to myself for lunch) topped with a little of my smoky vegan cheez sauce, a dollop of salsa, some fresh avocado, and a healthy sprinkling of cilantro.

I used the beans and rice for burritos for dinner and, in spite of his dread of beans, James absolutely loved them and asked for seconds (which shows he wasn’t just being polite!). I used lentil tortillas and added coleslaw to the beans and rice inside the burritos and topped them with some of my smoky cheez sauce, salsa, avocado, and cilantro.

And a couple of days ago, Bob sent me a link to this great cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” by Michael Kiwanuka. Bob and Susan are coming up next week for a few days, so we should have a fine time talking about music and eating vegan food.

Creamy, Versatile, Vegan Dressing….and It’s Only ONE WW Point!!!!

So as you can see, I’m still into the mis en place because of my Rouxbe plant-based cooking course.

One of the Forks-Over-Knives salad-dressing recipes included in the course turned out to be very rich and creamy, yet its creaminess is derived not from high-calorie cashews or tahini, but rather from only ONE tablespoon of chia seeds. The original recipe was for a spicy chipotle dressing, but after tasting it, I realized that it could be adapted in any number of ways depending on the herb or spice you add.

You blend all of the above ingredients in the Vitamix and then let the dressing sit for fifteen minutes until the chia seeds work their magic and make the dressing thick and creamy.

And, of course, I had to add a big glob of my secret ingredient!

The recipe makes about a cup and a half. A serving of a quarter cup is only one Weight Watchers point!

I’m serving it tonight as part of an enchilada bowl!

And James was singing “Our House” this morning, which started me singing it, which prompted me to ask Google to play the song….and then Google just continued playing a variety of songs from the late 60s and early 70s, so we’ve both been enjoying the songs of our childhood all day. And so…the song of the day is Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me,” a song to which I can’t help singing along whenever I hear it.

Jamie’s Special Granola

When James and I first moved in together, he surprised me by becoming vegetarian. So shocked was I with his decision that I would make him a huge eggy-cheesy breakfast every morning in the hope that he’d see how great vegetarian food is and not change his mind. And in the decade or so we’ve lived together, he never has.

Then, in January, 2016, he surprised me again by declaring that he’d join me on my plant-based adventure, with the proviso that he may occasionally still eat dairy. Since I regularly fall off the wagon myself, the plan seemed reasonable enough.

From that day forward, James’ usual breakfast has been a gigantic bowl of Raisin Bran covered with a sliced banana and a rather generous sprinkling granulated white sugar (the boy loves his sugar!).

He’s been tiring of his regular cereal lately, however, so I’ve been trying to convince him to let me make him some fabulous, healthy cereal to replace it. He’s been sceptical about my proposal, but finally accepted yesterday!

So, naturally, between yesterday and today, I think I’ve read every granola recipe available online. One recipe even had me attempting to pop quinoa (an experiment that was NOT successful!). The first thing I learned about granola from my research is that you can’t leave out the oil; the second is that you can’t leave out the sugar….in one form or another.

Since any extracted oil isn’t really healthy, I just used coconut oil, but since it’s saturated, I might rethink that in future.

As for the sugar, date sugar or date syrup is the healthiest form according to Dr. Greger, so I used 1/4 cup of date sugar and a 1/4 cup of maple syrup (because what’s breakfast without something maple-y?!).

As for the grains, nuts, seeds, and fruit, I figured I’d try to include as many different forms as my pantry would allow. Thus, I included oats, quinoa flakes, pecans, walnuts, almonds, hemp seeds, pepitas, sunflower seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, dried cranberries, dried pineapple, and raisins.

And because I’ve been working on my mis en place in my Rouxbe cooking class, I thought I’d create a visual recipe today…

All you do is chop the nuts, mix all the dry ingredients together, mix all the wet ingredients together and combine them.

Next spread the mixture on two parchment-paper-lined cookie trays and bake at 350 for about twenty-four minutes. Stir the mixture halfway through, turn the pans, and press the mixture down to create some nice chunks.

The resulting granola tastes like a delicious cookie!!

The recipe I used for the proportions is from Cookieandkate.com. I discovered Kate Taylor’s amazing blog only recently and the recipes I’ve tried have been excellent! The recipe that gave me the idea to include quinoa was this one from The New York Times. As I said, I ended up using quinoa flakes because the popping experiment was a bust.

Kate says this recipe makes sixteen servings, but I have no doubt that once James tastes this deliciousness, he’ll be eating double portions every day. Since he spends two hours on his exercise routine every morning and then spends the rest of the day stacking wood, cleaning the roof, mowing the lawn, etc., etc., I figure he can eat as much of it as he wants. I’ll just make him more when he runs out!

And the song of the day is Michael Kiwanuka’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Ten Years Gone” because this video appeared in my mailbox this morning from my friend, Bob, and it’s just lovely…

My Mum’s Lasagne….Veganized!!

My darling mum was never much interested in cooking–indeed, she had a regular rotation of meals each week: roast beef or ham on Sunday, spaghetti on Monday, fast-fry pork chops (with Noodles Romanoff!!) on Tuesday, beef stew on Wednesday, and, well, you get the idea. Tuesday was my favourite meal, not because of that tough little medallion of pork, but because of that little scoop of Noodles Romanoff, which I LURVED!!! I still can’t figure out how my dear old mum got six servings out of a 5.75-ounce package, but she did!

But when my parents entertained guests, she’d always serve lasagne accompanied by a salad (iceberg lettuce, tomato wedges, and green onions) with Kraft Thousand Island dressing, and Black Forest cake (Betty Crocker!) for dessert. And the morning after a dinner party, Bid and I would always tear downstairs to fight over the remains (my brothers were never as enamoured of the lasagne dinners as we were). By the 1980s, my mum expanded her repertoire to include something called “Chicken Elizabeth,” a Best of Bridge recipe that involved placing skinned chicken thighs in a casserole dish and covering them with…..you guessed it: Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup. Full disclosure: the recipe called for chicken breasts, but my mum used thighs because they were “more succulent” (they were cheaper!).

There is really no doubt where my hillbilly tastebuds originated.

But my mum’s lasagne was actually delicious.

So we’re having a crowd of Pooley relatives in for the Easter weekend next in honour of Stefan’s thirtieth birthday, and we’ve already started the food planning. We decided to simplify things for the Friday evening birthday dinner by simply making a couple of huge lasagnes–a vegetarian one (prepared by James) and a vegan one (prepared by me!). Now I’ve made a few stabs at vegan lasagne in the past and they were always fine, but I really wanted to recreate a vegan version of my mum’s lasagne for the kids…well, the vegan kids anyway.

My mum’s lasagne involved a super thick, meaty sauce, your basic Kraft mozzarella slices, cottage cheese mixed with an egg and a cup of Kraft parmesan (the stuff in the green and red sprinkle can), and no-bake lasagne noodles.

So for my vegan version, I started with this vegan Ragù Bolognese  recipe because I wanted a thick sauce with a sense of meatiness. The result was good, but needed the standard additions of oregano and basil (to taste like my mum’s), so I added those spices. I also left out the refined coconut oil and added a slurry of Better Than Bouillon vegetable base, miso paste, soy sauce, and nooch to increase the umami.

For the cottage cheese/ricotta mixture, I used tofu-cashew ricotta, Vegg egg replacer, and this recipe for vegan parm.

For the cheese, I used one of my own recipes for vegan mozzarella, of which I have many! I used this one, but added a cup of melted refined coconut oil and a teaspoon of xanthan gum. It’s richer than my regular pizza mozzarella (though a bit too soft for grating). And my darling niece, Dana (one of the vegans who will be attending the birthday feast!), isn’t a fan of my no-extracted-oil mozzarella.

So here we go!

Kate’s Lasagne, Vegan Style!

First, make the vegan mozzarella.

Blend in the Vitamix until smooth:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup melted refined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBS kappa carrageenan
  • 1 tsp Better Thank Bouillon or Knorr Vegetable Broth powder
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Blend ingredients on high in the Vitamix for thirty seconds. Pour the mixture into a saucepan on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes smooth and shiny. The tapioca flour will be cooked ONLY when the mixture is shiny. Pour it into a (very lightly oiled) mold and refrigerate for several hours. Once the cheese firms up, you will be able to slice it for the lasagne.

Next, make the sauce:

Vegan Ragu Bolognese Sauce

350 g medium yellow onion, finely minced

225g carrots, finely chopped

170g fennel, finely chopped

5 medium cloves garlic, finely minced

6 ounces cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

6 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in boiling water, drained and finely chopped

1 pound this seitan roast, shaved into small bits

1 5-ounce can of tomato paste

1 1/2 cups (355ml) dry red wine

1 28-ounce can of tomatoes, puréed with a blender

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp sage

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 cup miso

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 nutritional yeast

2 TBS Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base

1/4 cup water

1.In a large saucepan, spray a pan lightly with oil and add the onion, carrot, fennel, and garlic and cook, stirring and scraping frequently, until aromatics are beginning to turn golden, about 8 minutes.

2. Add mushrooms and seitan and cook, stirring and scraping frequently, until much of the water in the mushrooms and seitan cooks off and a brown film develops on the bottom of the pot.

3. Stir in tomato paste and cook for a minute. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer wine until it has almost fully reduced and the raw alcohol smell has cooked off, about 5 minutes.

4. Stir in puréed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add spices.

5. Make a slurry in the Magic Bullet with the miso, soy sauce, Better Than Bouillon vegetable base, nutritional yeast, and water. Stir into the sauce sauce and cook at a very gentle simmer until sauce has reduced and thickened, about 30 minutes.

Next, make the ricotta layer:

Make a batch of this ricotta from Onegreenplanet.com. I’d recommend upping the cashews to 1/3 cup and adding a tsp or two of lemon zest (on the recommendation of another of my darling nieces, Annie!).

Add one cup of this parmesan from Cookieandcake.com

Mix together 2 tsp of Vegg egg replacer with 1/2 cup of water and blend well into the mixture above (you’ll likely have to use your hands).

Okay, so now we’re ready for the assembly!

First, line a 9 x 14-inch casserole dish with a little bit of sauce. Next line the pan with oven-ready brown rice lasagne noodles, cover the noodles with half the ricotta mixture, cover the ricotta mixture with the sliced mozzarella, cover with half the ragu bolognese sauce.

Repeat the layers and put a little more mozza on top.

Bake at 375 for an hour or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. If you place some mozza on top, cover with foil for the first 45 minutes and then remove.

Here’s the little one I made for our dinner tonight. It actually looks like my mum’s lasagne, which was neither vegan NOR vegetarian. It also tastes amazing….I honestly don’t think anyone would guess it’s vegan! You can see the deliciously creamy mozza peeking through the sauce! My one criticism is that it’s a bit too rich. In future, I think I’ll use my mozza recipe with no extracted oil.

And here’s the one I’m freezing for next week. I had a little extra mozza that I put on top….

And here’s a pic of our dinner: grilled Caesar salad, Kate’s vegan lasagne, and a freshly baked baguette!

Now, this entire endeavour was a bit labour-intensive, but I’d do it again in a minute for a special occasion! I am dying to get the verdict from the kids next week….and from Bid, who remembers my mum’s lasagne with as much fondness as I do!

And the song of the day is Lake Street Dive’s “Seventeen.” When I was cooking today, I asked Google to play me something I would like, and she played me a surprisingly good mix, which included this song–I haven’t heard it in ages. Only one song in the mix was off-putting and I told Google I didn’t like the song. “Noted,” she said and skipped to the next tune!

Delicious Vegan Coleslaw!

My imaginary friends, Chazz and Francie, are coming up to Sideways Cottage for the weekend, James and I have been busying ourselves in the kitchen for the past few days.

Our menu is….

Friday Dinner: Indonesian Carrot Soup, Chick’n Pot Pies, roasted potatoes, coleslaw, and pecan pie for dessert

Saturday:

Breakfast: Oatmeal

Lunch: “Beef” Dip Sammies and air-fries

Dinner: Rijzttaffel and vegan apple pie for dessert

Sunday Breakfast:Streaky Vegan Bacon, Tofu Scramble, Fresh Baguettes

I wanted a super tasty coleslaw to go along with the pot pies for tomorrow evening, so I found this well-reviewed one on Minimalist Baker. I made a number of changes, however: I doubled the water, changed the maple syrup to a Medjool date, changed the type of mustard, used shallots instead of onions, and BTB instead of salt. The result is delicious! One caveat: I was looking forward to a gorgeous-looking slaw because of the purple and green cabbage and the bright orange carrot, but the creamy dressing kind of overwhelms the gorgeous colours! Perhaps after sitting in the fridge overnight, the cabbage will release some water and thin out the creamy dressing and the colours will be restored. In any event, it is a super delicious dressing, so I’ll make it again in a heartbeat!

Vegan Coleslaw

Blend until smooth:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 Medjool date
  • 2 tsp dijon
  • 1 1/2 TBS white vinegar
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large shallot (equivalent to about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base

Grate:

  • 1 carrot

Slice (in the food processor):

  • 1/3 head of purple cabbage
  • 1/3 head of green cabbage
  • 2 stalks of celery

Mix the sliced vegetables in a large bowl, pour on the dressing and mix well.

I made Gaz Oakley’s seitan roast today in anticipation of our French Dip Sammies on Saturday, so we had a few slices of that this evening with some air-fried potatoes and a nice big scoop of this coleslaw! It was so delicious we each had TWO helpings…of everything!

Seitan Roast with Vegan Gravy, Air-Fried Potatoes, and Coleslaw!!

And the song of the day is Darlingside’s “The God of Loss” because I’ve been listening to them all day while we both cooked.

Vegan Chick’n Alfredo

I’m so taken with the onion cream I made a couple of days ago that I thought I’d centre our evening meal on it. I also happened to making a couple of loaves of chickwheat today, so I thought I’d throw that into the mix as well and came up with this delicious low-point recipe.

VEgan Chick’n Alfredo

Blend in the Vitamix until smooth:

1 and 1/2 cups onion cream

1 TBS miso

1 TBS Better Than Bouillon vegetable base

1 TBS lemon juice

3 TBS nutritional yeast

1/4 cup cashews

2 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 tsp sea salt

1 and 1/2 tsp nutmeg

3 garlic cloves

1 TBS tapioca flour

Heat over medium heat (stirring continuously) until shiny and smooth.

Next, add to the pan:

1/2 pound of shredded chickwheat

Stir until the chickwheat is covered and heated through.

Serve over brown rice rotini with a sprinkling of vegan parmesan and some green veg on the side. I’ve been using the Cookieandkate.com version of vegan parmesan lately–this recipe calls for hemp seeds instead of walnuts, almonds, or cashews. I like it because you don’t grind up the nuts (and mix turning your parm into nut butter!). You can just combine the ingredients in a jar and shake it, shake it, shake it….like a polaroid picture. To the parm recipe, I like to add a heaping TBS of vegan chick’n soup powder mix.

And it’s another glorious day on Denman Island! I spent the day tidying and making a couple of loaves of chickwheat in anticipation of our weekend guests. James needs a selection of seitan loaves because he’s going to attempt a vegan rijsttafel.

In case you’re not familiar with the concept, rijsttafel (or “rice table”) is a Dutch-Indonesian meal consisting of a couple of rice dishes surrounded with several small side dishes to serve atop the rice. For larger crowds, as many as forty dishes are served, but since we’ll have only four people, we’re going to keep it to eight dishes in addition to the two rice dishes. We’ve decided our summer project will be perfecting the vegan rijsttafel. We’ll need to rely heavily on seitan, however, because so many of the dishes involve some kind of meat.

And the song of the day is Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield’s cover of the late, great Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars”:


Vegan Alfredo Sauce and Buffalo Chickwheat Pizza!!

So I decided to make a vegan Alfredo sauce from the onion cream I made yesterday and it turned out VERY well! I made only one cup of the sauce, however, because I didn’t want to waste too much of the onion cream if the sauce didn’t work. Not only is it delicious and creamy, but it registers only two WW points for half a cup!!

The sauce is for a new take on the Stranger Wings Pizza I’ve made a few times over the last couple of months–I’m calling this new take “Buffalo Chickwheat Pizza.”

As for the Alfredo sauce, I am definitely going to double this recipe in the next few days to try it over some pasta topped with grilled portobello mushrooms.

Vegan Alfredo Sauce (makes one cup)

1/2 cup onion cream

1 tsp miso

1 tsp Better Than Bouillon vegetable base

1 tsp lemon juice

1 TBS nutritional yeast

1 heaping TBS cashews

1 tsp pink salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 garlic clove

1 tsp tapioca flour

Blend in the Vitamix until smooth, then heat over medium heat (stirring continuously) until shiny and smooth.

Now, since you’re going to be making a Buffalo Chickwheat Pizza, you’ll also need to make….

Buffalo Sauce

1/4 cup cashews

1/2 cup Sriracha

1/4 cup almond milk

1 TBS apple cider vinegar

1 Medjool date (or a 1/2 TBS date syrup)

1 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Blend in the Vitamix until smooth and creamy!

You’ll also need to make a blue cheez dressing like this one.

And now onto the….

Buffalo Chickwheat Pizza

First off, make a batch of your favourite pizza dough. I recommend this dough for this particular pizza.

Ingredients

1/2 pound of chickwheat

1 cup of the Buffalo sauce

Sear the chickwheat in a pan over medium heat…

Once the chickwheat has browned a bit, pour the buffalo sauce over it and mix well…

Now, roll out your dough, schmeer each pie with half the Alfredo sauce and scatter the Buffalo Chickwheat over the top. Pop in the oven preheated to 500 degrees and bake for fifteen minutes.

While the pizza is baking, saute some shallots for topping the pizza and slice up some green onions.

When the pizza is done, drizzle the blue cheez dressing over the top and sprinkle with the sauteed shallots and chopped green onions.

And there you go–super delicious Buffalo Chickwheat Pie!! The only change I’d make for future iterations of this pie is that I’d double the chickwheat and put a 1/2 pound on each pie….which means I’d also double the Buffalo sauce to two cups.

Super delicious meal though…no matter how you slice it!

And the song of the day is Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” because it just happened to be playing on my playlist as I wrote this…

Creamy Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing (and it’s only ONE WW point for a quarter cup!!)

I’ve been dying to try this onion cream created by vegan genius, Susan Voisin, and today was the day I did just that! You basically bake a few whole onions for close to an hour, peel them, throw them in the blender with a bit of lemon juice and salt, and blend like hell until completely smooth. The result is a lovely light cream that can be used as a healthy base for creamy salad dressings or added to soups that require a dollop of cream. You can read all about it over on Fatfreevegan.com!

From the cream, I made the following delicious, creamy, ONE-POINT Caesar dressing. It’s based on this delicious recipe from lovinitvegan.com; however, I replaced the vegan mayo with onion cream and the oil with tahini. I also added a tsp of my secret ingredient that makes everything better (BTB). Oh, and I left out the maple syrup because the onion cream is actually quite sweet to start with.

Low-Point Vegan Caesar Dressing

1/2 cup onion cream

1 TBS Dijon

2 TBS nutritional yeast N

1 garlic clove

1 TBS capers

2 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS soy sauce

1 TBS tahini

1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable base

1/2 tsp white vinegar

Toss this all into a small blender–the Magic Bullet or a small cup for your Vitamix and blend until super smooth!

Try it on a grilled Caesar salad, like this one we served with some vegan pizza! The little black nubbies on the romaine are vegan bacon bits.

And the song is the day is Brandi Carlile’s cover of “Madman Across the Water” because I love good covers….and I love old Elton tunes. Oh, and my friend, Bob, who is currently travelling around Spain just sent me the link to the video and I love it!

Smoked Celeriac “Steaks” with Mushroom Gravy

A few days ago, James’ nephew arrived from Medicine Hat, and we went to one of our favourite pubs in Courtenay–The White Whale. The cool thing about The White Whale is that they use all local ingredients and also serve only BC beer and wine on a “rotating tap.”

And this awesome pub is also on the banks of the Courtenay River, so you can sit and watch seals and seal lions…and even kayakers paddle by while you dine.

I should mention that the food is a bit pricey for a pub menu, but it IS nice that they support the local economy, so we’re always happy to dine there. In the past, the vegan/vegetarian offerings haven’t been plentiful, but what they do offer has always been very tasty.

On our last visit, however, I was delighted to see a new vegan item appear on the menu: a celeriac steak with miso gravy, wild rice, and broccolini slaw!

It was delicious, but the celeriac was definitely not roasted or smoked. In fact, it seemed more of a vehicle for the delicious miso gravy–indeed, it was more like a boiled parsnip or potato!

And when I looked for a picture online, The White Whale Instagram showed a picture that looked nothing like what I’d eaten:

I decided that I wanted to make a celeriac steak more like the advertised version of The White Whale celeriac steak, so that’s what I set out to do. I then involved Jamie-boy, which brought the entire endeavour up to the next level!!

So, first off, you need to prep the celeriac by peeling it and stabbing it about twenty times. I bought a couple of celeriac roots that were about a half pound each:

Here they are post peeling and stabbing:

Next, rub those suckers with olive oil and sprinkle them with lightly ground coriander seeds and flaked salt and wrap them in tin foil.

As an aside, my marble mortar and pestle is the first gift Jamie ever gave me!

Bake them at 375 for one hour. I’d say they need about an hour for each half pound.

The celeriac steaks would be absolutely fine to serve right out of the oven, but you can also smoke them at this point, which we did. We removed them from the oven, took off the foil, and smoked them with hickory chips for another 45 minutes:

Smoking the baked celeriac steaks on hickory chips

And while those celeriac steaks were smokin’, I made a succulent mushroom gravy to top them with. I started with this mushroom vegan gravy recipe and made a few variations.

Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients

  • 1/4 diced onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 TBS white wine
  • 4 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 TBS sprouted spelt flour
  • 1/2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon vegetable base
  • half a cap of liquid smoke

Instructions

  1. Saute onion and garlic in wine until softened
  2. Add mushrooms and soy sauce and cook until reduced
  3. In a separate pan, lightly toast spelt flour, nutritional yeast, and dried herbs
  4. Add flour mixture to mushrooms and stir well
  5. Slowly add vegetable broth and stir well to combine
  6. Add BTB and liquid smoke and heat to desired consistency

Once the celeriac steak is finished smoking, remove from heat, slice…

And add gravy…

Serve with mushroom risotto and steamed asparagus!!

This vegan meal is amazingly hearty and delicious!!

And the song of the day is Wings’ “Band on the Run” because James and I were talking about how great Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles project was this afternoon:

Preserved Lemons…The Easiest Thing in the World!

A few days ago, I received a text from Em…

Now, my darling girl’s wish is my command, so I set about researching the process of preserving lemons. The fermenting book to which she referred in her text contains surprisingly little about lemons, so I consulted Dr. Internet and watched a dozen videos …and eventually consulted Annie, who consulted her chef friend, who relayed instructions.

All of this resulted in my learning that the process of preserving lemons is remarkably simple:

Cut lemons

Salt lemons

Squish lemons in jar

Pour more lemon juice over lemons so they’re covered

Leave lemons for a month

So that’s what I did. A few of my sources sliced or quartered the lemons, but most left them whole but cut to a half-inch from the bottom of the lemon. Some sources offered a measurement for the salt, but most just used A LOT and specified that the salt must be kosher or sea salt–the salt cannot contain iodine. I used the Maldon Sea Salt Flakes I ordered from Amazon a little while ago:

James bought me twenty lemons because I asked for ten (and, frankly, the man’s a bit of an overachiever in the relationship realm). I cut and salted thirteen….

I then stuffed them into a 1.9 litre mason jar I sterilized earlier and packed them down with my sauerkraut pounder….

I juiced the other seven lemons into the jar to ensure the lemons were covered with juice….

And that’s basically it! Seal the jar, label it and be sure to include the date.

Check on your lemons after a few days to ensure that the juice covers the lemons. If not, add more juice, seal it back up and leave it.

I will report back on the state of my preserved lemons on April 11th!!

We have a full roster of guests arriving over the next few weeks–James’ nephew tomorrow, Annie and Johnny the week after that, Francie and Chazz shortly thereafter, and Em and three friends in May–and that’s all before the summer when we usually have most of our guests. Looks like we’ll be cooking up a storm over the next little while.

I’ve also started an online plant-based cooking course through Rouxbe (pronounced “Ruby”), which I’m enjoying tremendously. I’m currently learning knife skills…at which I need MUCH practice.

And the song of the day is Josh Ritter’s “Henrietta, Indiana” because it is always the first song that plays when I say, “Hey Google, play Josh Ritter radio!”

Vegan Barbecue Chick’n Sammie!

Yesterday evening, James had a hankering for a barbecue chick’n sandwich, so I whipped him up a couple of these sambos and he was so taken with them that he asked for a THIRD. Now, the man is a bit like a snake in that he has a bowl of cereal in the morning and eats nothing else until dinner, so it’s not surprising that he can put away a LOT of food in the evening, particularly since he exercises for…..drumroll please….TWO HOURS A DAY.

And that doesn’t even include things like walking the dogs to the lake (which is, more often than not, my only exercise for the day!).

In any event, this barbecue chick’n sammie is a quick, delicious meal (but, in truth, it’s quick only IF you happen to already have the chickwheat on hand, which I do!).

Vegan Barbecue Chick’n Sammie

First, whip up some of this quick, healthy barbecue sauce. I replace the 1/4 cup of brown sugar with four medjool dates because dates are healthier than sugar. I also add a tsp of dijon.

Next, make some chickwheat (which–full disclosure–takes a few hours because of steaming time). I’ve been making a couple of loaves of chickwheat every couple of weeks, however, and freezing it in half-pound portions. Thus, I usually have some on hand.

Next, make some of this tasty coleslaw.

Okay, so next, you’ll want to slice:

1 white onion

1 cup cremini mushrooms

And shred:

1/2 lb. of chickwheat

Saute the onions for a few minutes:

Add the mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes:

Add the chickwheat and saute for a few more minutes:

Add 1 cup of the barbecue sauce and mix well:

Warm a few buns and load them with the coleslaw followed by a nice big helping of the chick’n mixture.

Serve with air-fried taters and more coleslaw. I’m not even a fan of barbecue sauce and I LOOOVED this meal!

The song of the day is a Kylie Minogue-Jack Savoretti duet called “Music’s Too Sad without You.” Johnny might be right: this guy does seem to specialize in heartbreak. Beautiful song though!

Vegan Chick’n Pot Pie!

Back in the 1970s, my extra-thrifty mum used to keep her freezer full of store-brand chicken pot pies. Those little suckers were exactly forty-seven cents each, and my hillbilly tastebuds loved them almost as much as my beloved Cheez Whiz! Alas, I haven’t had one now in close to thirty years, so when James mentioned practicing his vegan pie crust, I decided to give some vegan chick’n pot pies a go!

Vegan Chick’n Pot Pie

First off, you’ll need to make a batch of this pie crust, but veganize it by replacing the butter with Earth Balance vegan butter (or another similar brand of vegan butter). Then roll out and cut the pastry and press it into six 5-inch pie plates. Parbake the bottom crusts (covered with parchment paper and pie weights) for thirty minutes at 350 degrees. The recipe for the filling is enough for twelve little pies, so it’s a good idea to double this recipe. Alternatively, you could freeze the rest of the filling or eat it over rice or mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

1 pound grilled chickwheat

1 portobello mushroom, chopped

1 chopped onion

2 tsp chopped garlic

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white wine

5 1/2 cups vegetable broth

3 heaping TBS no-chick’n broth powder

2 heaping TBS nutritional yeast

2 TBS miso

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1 tsp poultry seasoning

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

1 chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped celery

1.5 cups diced potatoes

2 cups broccoli florets

2 cups cauliflower florets

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)

salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Saute the chickwheat and portobello mushrooms for a few minutes and set aside.
  2. Spray a pan and saute onions and garlic for a few minutes;
  3. Add flour and white wine and whisk…then gradually add the broth. Keep whisking until it’s all smooth and bubbly.
  4. Add the no-chick’n broth powder, nutritional yeast, miso, and spices.
  5. Add carrots, potatoes, and celery and let simmer until the carrots and potatoes are al dente.
  6. Add broccoli, cauliflower, sauteed chickwheat and mushrooms, and simmer until everything is tender, but not mushy.
  7. Add pepper and salt to taste.

Once the crusts are parbaked, fill each little crust with the filling, cover with the top crust:

Slide back into the oven at 350 degrees for thirty minutes:

Baked Vegan Chick’n Pies!!

And here’s a delicious pie served up with a salad:

The pies were absolutely scrumptious!! Much better than the forty-seven-cent store-brand pies of my childhood. I will most definitely be making these succulent pot pies again soon!

We finished the Howards End miniseries last night, and though we loved the first three episodes, we were disappointed in the concluding episode. This evening, we’re watching the 1992 movie version because the conclusion is so much more satisfying.

And the song of the day is Ray Lamontagne’s “Such a Simple Thing.”

Vegan Enchilada Bowl

Last evening was a red letter day in that it marked the end of my Valentine’s Day gift to James: I watched the entire eleven and a half hours of Ken Burns’ documentary series, The Civil War, with him–an endeavour that lasted for NINE bloody evenings!

I actually ended up enjoying the series and tonight, I received my reward for such heroism: we watched episode one of Kenneth Lonergan’s 2017 mini-series version of Howards End. I’d been putting off watching it because I love the 1992 movie version so much and because Forster’s novel is my bible. I was afraid I’d be disappointed, but, on the contrary, I’m very pleasantly surprised so far!

But let’s get to more important things: DINNER!

Well, the Mexican obsession continues, so, for this evening’s dinner, I produced an enchilada bowl, which we both enjoyed even more than the enchiladas we had last night.

The Enchilada Bowl!

This is really just an assembly, but the combination of salad, slaw, enchilada filling and rice topped with guacamole and salsa is just so delicious and fresh tasting!

First, make the enchilada filling from this recipe (warning–this involves making chickwheat, which takes a few hours, and enchilada sauce, which takes only a few minutes).

Then, make some guacamole with this recipe.

Next, make some brown basmati rice. Use broth in place of water and throw in a cup of black beans and a sliced jalapeno pepper while the rice cooks.

Next, make this Forks Over Knives coleslaw recipe.

Finally, make this salad dressing:

Tex-Mex Salad Dressing

Throw in the Vitamix and mix until smooth:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 TBS tahini
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaping tsp no-chicken broth powder
  • 1 heaping TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly ground pepper

Add, and pulse a few times:

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Now….assemble your damn bowl!! Fill your bowl with some chopped romaine, grape tomatoes, and chopped cucumbers, top with the Tex-Mex dressing. Place a dollop of coleslaw beside it, a dollop of rice beside that, a serving of the enchilada mix beside that, and top with a scoop of guac and a scoop of salsa. Sprinkle crushed tortilla chips and chopped cilantro all over your bowl and there you have it–a fresh-tasting scrumptious enchilada bowl.

And the song of the say is Jack Savoretti’s gorgeous song, “Candlelight”:

Vegan Chick’n Enchiladas

The snow that came down so heavily last week remains thick on the ground on our little island, and I’m feeling like it’s about time for it to be gone. The snow was beautiful last week, however, and we had some lovely hikes with the pups to Graham Lake.

Snow Falling in the Woods near Graham Lake

As for my foodie endeavours, I’m continuing with the Mexican theme this week, and tonight’s feature is…..Vegan Chick’n Enchiladas!

Now, back when I was vegetarian, this dish would’ve been merely an assembly of commercially prepared enchilada sauce, tortillas, Gardein chick’n, cheddar cheese, salsa, and sour cream. I do think I’d have made at least the guacamole from scratch though!

These days, those enchiladas that would’ve taken me half an hour to throw together back in the day took me all bloody day!! Today’s result, however, was not only delicious but also, entirely vegan and very healthy!

So here’s the process!

Vegan Chick’n Enchilada

First off, you’ll need to make a nice loaf of chickwheat (which is basically vegan chicken) with this recipe. Alternatively, you can just use cubes of tofu or Gardein Chick’n chunks.

Next, you’ll need to make a round of vegan cheddar with this recipe. Alternatively, you can just use a package of grated Daiya cheddar.

Next, you’ll need to make lentil tortillas with this recipe. Alternatively, just use commercial tortillas.

Finally, you’ll need to make….

Enchilada Sauce

Blend in Vitamix until smooth:

1 can tomato paste

1 serrano or jalapeno pepper (remove seeds unless you like it REALLY hot)

2 cups water

1 TBS Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base

2 TBS corn starch

2 TBS chili powder

1 TBS soy sauce

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp liquid smoke

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp black pepper

Pour into a saucepan and stir on medium heat for eight minutes until the sauce is thick and smooth.

Oh–and if you want to top your enchiladas with guacamole, use this delicious recipe. As for salsa….why don’t I have a salsa recipe?!!

Next, saute for about five minutes:

1 sliced onion

2 cloves chopped garlic

Prepare:

1 sliced seeded jalapeno pepper

3 large sliced white mushrooms (or 1 portobello mushroom)

1/2 red pepper

1 cup of sliced grape tomatoes

1 cup of canned black beans

12 ounces of shredded chickwheat

Add the vegetables, beans, and chickwheat to the onions. Next, add:

2/3 cup of the enchilada sauce

Continue to saute until the vegetables are al dente and the chickwheat is warmed through.

Line six lentil tortillas with the filling:

And place seam-side down in a large casserole:

Cover with enchilada sauce and the grated vegan cheddar…

And bake for twenty minutes at 350 degrees. For the last two minutes, broil to ensure the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Serve over brown basmati rice. Add some sliced jalapenos and black beans to the rice while it’s cooking.

While the enchiladas are baking, whip up your guacamole and chop some cilantro for topping.

And serve up a couple of enchiladas over a bed of rice…

Top with a big dollop each of guacamole and salsa and sprinkle on some fresh, chopped cilantro.

I have to say, I was wiped after making this labour-intensive meal, but it was definitely worth it. And James loved it, so I’ll certainly make it again. Next time, however, I’ll be sure to have some chickwheat, vegan cheddar, and lentil tortillas already made and in the fridge when I do!

And after all that, I could eat only half a serving because every time I eat anything made with seitan, I find I’m full with only half of what I’d normally eat. Very odd indeed!

And if you end up with any left-over enchilada mixture, it’s delicious in a bowl over rice as well! Don’t forget to top with lots of guac and salsa!

And, while we don’t normally have dessert unless we have guests, James made a vegan apple pie today! It was scrumptious!!

As for the song of the day…I mentioned to Johnny recently my obsession with Jack Savoretti and, after listening to a few songs, he noted that every song is about heartbreak and jealousy and loneliness. To be honest, I hadn’t actually noticed, and I’m still obsessed, so the song of the day is Jack Savoretti’s “Crazy Fool”:

Hearty Vegan Burritos….with a Spicy Fajita Filling

After our brisk hike to the lake this afternoon, the plans I’d made for a big salad for dinner seemed meagre and uninspiring, so I mentioned to James that I could instead make tacos. He quite liked the general idea but is apparently not fond of the crunchy shell. Evidently, it’s too crunchy…and messy.

What about fajitas, I then suggested. He liked this idea slightly more, but he didn’t fancy the idea of having to assemble his own as one does with the fajita. He wanted his food to arrive on his plate assembled (by me, of course).

“And, while you’re at it, why not bake them with a bit of that grated vegan cheddar you made yesterday,” he suggested…helpfully.

Now, I actually do like to please James when it comes to dinner because, in truth, he does just about everything else around here, so I set out to make a baked burrito…with a fajita filling.

You likely know this, but the difference between a fajita and a burrito is the filling: fajitas are filled with strips of beef cooked in a very spicy sauce. And I happen to have quite a bit of leftover seitan roast “beef.” So here is my method:

Hearty Vegan Burritos with Fajita Filling

First, make six lentil tortillas with this recipe. You could, of course, simply buy some flour tortillas, but the lentil tortillas are quick and easy and much healthier than flour tortillas. Set the tortillas aside in a tea towel to keep warm while you make the filling.

Lentil Tortillas

Next, make the fajita sauce in the Magic Bullet with the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Next, slice into batonnets:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 large seeded jalapeno pepper
  • 1 portobello mushroom

Slice into strips:

Saute the onion until soft, then add the peppers and portobello mushroom and saute until the vegetables are al dente.

Saute Vegetables

Slowly pour in the fajita sauce and toss the vegetables until they are covered.

Pour in Fajita Sauce

Add the strips of vegan roast and continue mixing until the strips are heated through. Remove from heat.

Seitan Roast Strips

Next, assemble the burritos:

Smear one half of each burrito with salsa and the other with some cashew-dill dressing. Next, scoop a couple of tablespoons of brown rice down the centre of each tortilla, followed by a tablespoon of black beans:

Salsa, Dressing, Black Beans, Rice

Scoop a nice helping of the fajita mixture on top of the rice…

Fajita Mixture

…followed by some chopped romaine and a few chopped grape tomatoes.

Roll up the tortillas, place seam-side down in a casserole dish and cover with six ounces of grated vegan cheddar.

Broil for Five Minutes

Place under the broiler for five minutes until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Serve covered with salsa and fresh chopped cilantro. Guacamole would be nice too, but I have no avocados :(.

James was delighted with his burrito…or fajita…or furrito. Whatever it was, he was delighted and asked for (and received) seconds!

And the song of the day is Jack Savoretti’s “When We Were Lovers.” I discovered this amazing musician only a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been listening to him every day since.

Vegan Cheez and Shallot Tart

After a couple of weeks of freezing cold and snow, we awoke this beautiful Sunday morning to sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures. We spent a lazy morning in bed drinking tea and reading the papers online. At one point, James discovered a recipe for a quick cheese and onion tart in The Washington Post and was eager to try a vegan version of it.

Now, our version is not WFPB (whole-food, plant-based) because of the puff pastry, which contains white flour and oil, but it IS vegan….and it IS Sunday, so what the hell!

Here’s our version!

Vegan Cheez and Shallot Tart

First, make a batch of this vegan shreddable, meltable cheddar cheez. The recipe makes sixteen ounces and you’ll use only half for two tarts. Alternatively, you could just use some Daiya, but it’s expensive (five bucks for half a pound!)…and it doesn’t melt properly!

Vegan Cheddar
Shredded!

Next, for each tart, cover a 9 x 13-inch cookie sheet with parchment paper, roll out some Tenderflake puff pastry. Place on the cookie sheet. And Tenderflake puff pastry is vegan, so all is cool there!

Cover each sheet of the puff pastry with 1/4 cup of dijon mustard.

Dijon-covered puff pastry

Chop twelve ounces of shallots, divide in two, and spread over the pastry.

Shallots

Shred half the block of cheddar you made, divide in two and spread half over each tart.

Sprinkle the top of each tart with the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme. Our thyme is still growing like stink in the deck garden!

Thyme from the deck garden

Toss some freshly ground pepper on the tarts and we’re ready for the oven!

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes….until puffed up and deeply brown.

Cheddar and Shallot Tart!

We served big slices of the tart with delicious coleslaw from a Minimalist Baker recipe.

And as for the song of the day….today, I came across this lovely cover of “The Book of Love” by Gavin James:

And here’s the original by The Magnetic Fields because I just love this song so much. Its sweet cheesiness is perfectly tempered with more than a hint of cynicism about the nature of love…

I asked James to learn this on the guitar and, while doing so, he discovered another quite lovely version by Peter Gabriel:

Chickwheat…and Amazing Vegan Butter Chick’n

When we sat down to our meal of Vegan Butter Chick’n last evening, we both groaned at our first bite–it was so rich-tasting and sumptuous! But when James asked me if it tasted like my memory of butter chicken, I paused for a moment and then realized I’ve been vegetarian for so long, I’ve never actually tasted butter chicken. So, though I can’t attest to this meal’s similarity to the original, I can say it’s damn delicious!

Now, I do agree that this recipe looks labour intensive, but it’s actually quite simple. The seitan chick’n–or chickwheat–does take some time, but most of that is steaming time, not labour time.

And it is most DEFINITELY worth the investment of time.

Plus, the chickwheat recipe makes two and a quarter pounds, and you’ll use only one pound for the Butter Chick’n, so you’ll have lots left over for chick’n salad sandwiches and stir-fries!

So let’s start with the chickwheat. This is basically a seitan recipe that uses chickpeas, tahini, and various spices as the wet ingredients. It’s really just a kind of hummus mixed with vital wheat gluten!

As you know, the good news about seitan is that it contains the same amount of protein as meat. The bad news is that seitan lacks an amino acid called “lysine” which meat does contain. Combining vital wheat gluten with lysine-rich foods–like legumes–addresses this problem, however; thus, this recipe, which contains both vital wheat gluten AND chickpeas, is a complete protein. Indeed a three-ounce serving will give you 42% DV (daily value) of protein and 16% DV of brain-protecting selenium.

The source recipe is from the brilliant Lacey Siomos at Avocados and Ales. Do check out her blog for some excellent vegan recipes! The changes to the recipe were made to remove any extracted oil and to add flavour–I wanted the chick’n to be a bit tasty as opposed to “a blank slate.” In the original recipe, Lacey notes, “It is a base ‘bland chick’n’ recipe. Please consider it like you would bland chicken.” Thus, I added some of the spices from Gaz Oakley’s KFC recipe.

So here we go:

Chickwheat!!

Throw the following in your Vitamix and blend until SMOOOOTH:

1 can chickpeas (liquid and all!)

1/4 cup water

2 TBS tahini

2 TBS miso

1 TBS Better Than Bouillon No Chick’n Base (or vegetable base or powdered no-chick’n broth)

1 TBS onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 TBS poultry seasoning

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

While the mixture is blending, measure the following into the bowl of a stand mixer:

1 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten (255 gms)

Vital Wheat Gluten

Next, pour in the liquid and mix on the lowest speed until the dough is uniform. Let sit for fifteen minutes and then knead in the stand mixer for about eight minutes.

Next, shape the dough into a log shape and wrap tightly in parchment paper and then in tin foil.

Next, pour two cups of water into your Instant Pot, set the steamer insert in the pot, and set the wrapped seitan on the insert. Set the Instant Pot for 120 minutes on high pressure. Once the cycle is complete, do a quick release and remove the seitan loaf.

Chickwheat in the Instant Pot

Unwrap, let cool, and pull into shreds with your hands.

Chickwheat!!

And there you have it–chickwheat!

Next up is the Butter Chick’n!

The source for this recipe is Vegan Richa–another amazing blog/youtube channel created by Richa Hingle. The changes I made to this recipe are minor–I mostly wanted to remove any extracted oil and change the tofu to seitan. I was tempted to add the spices into the blender with the tomatoes, but then remembered I once read that with Indian food, the spices are usually added toward the end of the cooking period. I also doubled the recipe (and I’m SO glad I did because it is so delicious–the kind of meal you could serve to company!).

Vegan Butter Chick’n

Spray a non-stick pan with a bit of oil and saute until the garlic turns a bit brown:

  • 6 TBS chopped garlic
  • 2 pieces of cinnamon bark
  • 2 bay leaves

Meanwhile, blend until smooth in the Vitamix:

  • 1 28-ounce can of tomatoes
  • 1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger
  • 1 serrano pepper

Pour the mixture into the pan and simmer for a few minutes.

While the tomatoes are simmering, blend the following in the Vitamix:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup water

Once the tomato sauce has thickened a bit, add the cashew mixture.

Next, add:

  • 1 TBS Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp date syrup

While the sauce is simmering, blend in the Magic Bullet:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 one-inch chunk of ginger
  • 1 TBS smoked paprika
  • 1 TBS garam masala
  • 1/4 cup water

Pour into a non-stick pan and add:

  • 1 pound of chickwheat shreds

Saute until the chickwheat is nicely browned.

Add the chickwheat to the sauce, stir well to combine and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Serve over brown basmati rice and top with matchsticks of ginger and serrano pepper and some chopped cilantro.

And there you have it: delicious Vegan Butter Chick’n!!

It’s a perfect meal for a lazy, snowy Denman Island day….

….when all you want to do is stay in bed…

The song of the day is Josh Ritter’s “Kathleen” because I haven’t been able to get this song out of my head for the past several days. Whenever I think of the song, I think of my mother, the former Kathleen Gallagher, beautiful breaker of hearts in the early 1940s.

And we woke up to snow this morning and my first thought was to call the lovely Kathleen…because I always call her when it snows. She had an inordinate fear of my driving in the snow, so we had a running joke where I’d call her to say, “Guess what, mum!! It’s snowing….and I’M DRIVING!!”

The Lovely Kathleen

I last saw her only a couple of weeks ago when I was in Vancouver, but I’ve been fretting about her a bit because she has a bug that’s been going around her assisted living facility…which is likely why I can’t get this song out of my head.

Five-Minute Vegan Coconut Curry Ramen!!

Annie and Jamie have been raving about the Minimalist Baker recipe for coconut curry ramen, so I had a quick look at the recipe. Now, as you know, I’ve been on a major ramen kick myself–I think I’ve had a big bowl of my Five-Minute Vegan Ramen every day for the past week! The Minimalist Baker recipe looks great, but also seems like a rather large time investment. The recipe also appears to make an enormous amount of broth and I just don’t have the freezer space at this point.

I thought I’d try to make a five-minute version, so I just adjusted my ramen recipe by subbing green curry paste for miso, adding some light coconut milk and a squirt of date syrup, and dry-frying a Portobello mushroom in place of the chopped button mushrooms. The result was super sumptuous! Now, I know it’s likely nowhere near as delicious as the original recipe, but for a five-minute version, it is the bomb-diggity!

So here’s the process!

Five-Minute Coconut Curry Ramen

Heat to boiling three cups of vegetable broth. As it’s coming to a boil, stir in a big dollop of Green Curry Paste, a tsp of date syrup (or maple syrup) and a tsp of Better Than Bouillon vegetable base:

Add 1/3 cup of light coconut milk:

Once the broth is boiling, add a block of ramen noodles:

Let it boil for one minute; meanwhile, slice one Portobello mushroom and quickly dry fry it in a non-stick pan.

Next, slice half a stalk of celery, and a couple of ounces of tofu.

After one minute, break up the noodles in the broth and add the celery and tofu.

Let it boil for another minute, then add some frozen peas:

In the last two minutes, chop some arugula (or spinach/chard/baby kale), cilantro, and pea shoots (if you have them!).

Pea Shoots, Arugula, Cilantro

In the last few seconds, add some Sambal Oelek to add a bit of heat to your ramen:

Sambal Oelek

Line your bowl with some chopped arugula, decant your coconut-curry ramen, and top with cilantro, chopped green onions, and sliced Portobello mushroom, and there you have it! A delicious bowl of super healthy coconut curry ramen in as long as it takes the noodles to boil!

Five-Minute Coconut Curry Ramen!

And the song of the day is Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” because we watched (and loved) the movie a couple of evenings ago. Poor old James had to listen to my commentary throughout.

And I was tickled that the movie included references to Biba in London (where Mary Austin worked) because I remember my seventeen-year-old self discovering that amazing store in 1975 during my first trip to London. So enamoured was I with the merchandise that my poor mum had to drag me out of there with bags stuffed with things like black nail polish and platform pumps. Sadly, the next time I was in London, only a few years later, my beloved Biba was closed.

Super Healthy Five-Minute Vegan Ramen!!

Last time I was at Costco, I picked up a twelve pack of my favourite organic brown-rice-and-millet ramen for Emily because I know how much she loves ramen. A couple of months later, I asked if she needed a refill, but she said she didn’t really use it much because the Lotus Foods ramen doesn’t come with the flavour packets that the cheap ramen does!

Well, this troubled me so I set about trying to make a flavourful ramen in the time it takes for the noodles to cook. For someone who usually has a minimum of seventeen ingredients for every recipe, this was a bit of challenge, but I ended up with a super simple, quick ramen that also happens to be only SIX Weight Watchers points for a gigantic bowl. Indeed, all ingredients except the noodles are zero-point foods!

So here we go:

Heat to boiling three cups of vegetable broth. As it’s coming to a boil, stir in a big dollop of miso and a tsp of Better Than Bouillon vegetable base:

Once the broth is boiling, add a block of ramen noodles:

Let it boil for one minute, meanwhile, chop a couple of mushrooms, half a stalk of celery, and a couple of ounces of tofu:

Mushrooms, Tofu, and Celery

After one minute, break up the noodles in the broth and add the mushrooms, celery, and tofu.

Let it boil for another minute, then add some frozen peas:

In the last two minutes, chop some arugula (or spinach/chard/baby kale), cilantro, and pea shoots (if you have them!).

Pea Shoots, Arugula, Cilantro

In the last few seconds, add some Sambal Oelek to add a bit of heat to your soup:

Sambal Oelek

Line your bowl with the chopped arugula, decant your ramen, and top with cilantro and pea shoots, and there you have it! A delicious bowl of super healthy ramen in as long as it takes the noodles to boil!

And the song of the day is Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey” for Em–apparently, she’s as sweet as Tupelo honey and an angel of the first degree!

Delicious Soft Vegan Feta

Yesterday, Annie told me about a Vancouver vegan chef she follows named Erin Ireland who created a delicious version of tofu feta. Instead of marinating the tofu, she blended it with the other ingredients and then let it sit. It sounded similar to the tofu ricotta I make (which is delicious), but I really liked the idea of adding the feta-type flavours, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Erin’s recipe is great, and the version Annie sent me included the addition of garlic powder. To this, I added capers (and brine), BTB, and mustard. I also replaced the oil with three TBS of cashews. I am LOVING the result, though it’s still setting. Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist and had a little plateful of Mary’s crackers spread with it. As Annie suggested, it seems more like a flavoured Boursin than anything as hard as feta, but we’ll see if it sets up more overnight.

So here’s my version of…

Vegan Feta

1 block firm tofu

1 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS ACV

3 TBS cashews

2 TBS capers and brine

1 tsp Better Than Bouillon vegetable base OR miso

1 tsp stone ground dijon mustard

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

Blend until smooth in the Vitamix. It may be a bit grainy, but shouldn’t have any discernible lumps of caper or cashew.

I set mine up in my tofu press so it would get firmer, but, as mentioned above, it’s delicious right away as a cream cheez!

The cheez in my tofu press

Our intention is to use this new cheez to make an Endive Spear Micro Salad from The Preservatory in Langley. The recipe can be found in my new obsession–The Plant-Based Foodie-Vancouver.

But in the meantime, here’s my little snack!

And the song of the day is, appropriately enough, Van Morrison’s “What’s Wrong with this Picture?” because it’s a song I’d never heard before today–and I thought I knew Van’s entire oeuvre. But it’s also appropriate because I’ve been feeling rather out of sorts today–kind of overwhelmed with life and wanting to crawl under the covers for a month or two.

Stranger Wings Pizza

When Em visited earlier this month, she brought us an armload of Christmas gifts, one of which was a book called The Plant-Based Foodie: Vancouver–a book of stories and recipes from Vancouver’s various plant-based eateries.

James has been poring over this lovely tome for the past couple of weeks and finally settled on a recipe he wanted to try from a Vancouver pizza place called “The Virtuous Pie.” In typical James fashion, the recipe he chose must’ve been THE most labour-intensive pizza I’ve ever made, in that it required no fewer than FIVE sauces/batters. And silly me, I told him if he made the dough and sauteed the shallots, I’d do the rest! The other funny thing is that our larder is almost bare, yet we happened to have almost all the necessary ingredients (even if I did have to fudge a bit on the potatoes in the Bianca Sauce).

Now, in truth, I actually made more work for myself because one of the ingredients is barbecue sauce, so I had to start off by making a whole-food, plant-based barbecue sauce. I used this recipe, but subbed dates for the brown sugar. I’m sure the pizza would be perfectly fine with commercial barbecue sauce (but we all know how I feel about THAT stuff!).

Once I had the barbecue sauce in place, I made the blue cheese drizzle, which required a 1/2 cup of Vegenaise. In future, I think I’d just use a 1/2 cup of cashews…or a 1/4 cup and 1/4 cup water. I’ll have to experiment! The dressing recipe is similar to this one but uses the Vegenaise in place of tofu and cashews.

Next, I made the Cauliflower Bianca from the trimmings of the cauliflower florets I put aside for the Buffalo Cauliflower. The recipe is surprisingly delicious–like a healthy version of an Alfredo sauce and quite similar to this one.The Virtuous Pie recipe does require reheating the sauce after blending and thickening with a tapioca flour slurry.

Next, I made the batter for the cauliflower–the recipe is similar to this one.

You dip the cauliflower in the batter and bake it, but then you dip it in another sauce AFTER it’s baked and before you put it on the pizza. The Virtuous Pie Buffalo Sauce is simply equal parts barbecue sauce and sriracha and 1/4 tsp of tapioca flour.

James made the dough–the crust was excellent and the recipe is very similar to Martha Stewart’s Basic Pizza Dough.

Next, the assembly! We covered the pies with a generous portion of the Bianca Sauce and fifteen or so pieces of the Buffalo Cauliflower.

We baked the pies at 500 degrees for eleven minutes, switching/turning the pies halfway through. While the pies were baking, James sauteed a few shallots until they were nice and crispy.

Sauteed Shallots

Once the pies were cooked, we drizzled the top with the Blue Cheez sauce and sprinkled on a generous portion of the shallots. The recipe also calls for a sprinkling of spring onions, but we were out, so left them off!

The result was SO DELICIOUS!! I highly recommend making this and wish I could reproduce the recipe here, but it’s from a cookbook, so I cannot! With the links to the recipes above you should be able to reproduce a reasonable facsimile though! The odd thing about the recipe as written is that we had two cups of the Bianca Sauce left and at least twice as much of the Buffalo Cauliflower than we needed for the pies! I’m going to make a bit more of the Blue Cheez dressing for dipping the leftover Buffalo Cauliflower for dinner. As far as the Bianco Sauce goes, I’ll likely just use it for some brown rice pasta later in the week.

This is a pic from The Virtuous Pie menu and, barring the spring onions, ours looks pretty close!

And this morning, I had a piece for breakfast! Stella was VERY interested!

Stella wants my breakfast!

And our dinner this evening was the Buffalo Cauliflower with the Blue Cheez Sauce and a piping hot baguette fresh from the oven. James also ate the leftover pizza from last evening, but the bread and cauliflower were filling enough for me!

And the song of the day is Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s “Our House.” I know, I know….a bit sappy, but it’s always been one of my favourites, and I always sing it when I’m feeling particularly delighted with our little lives at Sideways Cottage. I recently learned the background of the song, which delighted me even more. According to the songwriter, Graham Nash,

“Well, it’s an ordinary moment. What happened is that Joni [Mitchell] and I – I don’t know whether you know anything about Los Angeles, but on Ventura Boulevard in the Valley, there’s a very famous deli called Art’s Deli. And we’d been to breakfast there. We’re going to get into Joan’s car, and we pass an antique store. And we’re looking in the window, and she saw a very beautiful vase that she wanted to buy … I persuaded her to buy this vase. It wasn’t very expensive, and we took it home. It was a very grey, kind of sleety, drizzly L.A. morning. And we got to the house in Laurel Canyon, and I said – got through the front door and I said, you know what? I’ll light a fire. Why don’t you put some flowers in that vase that you just bought? Well, she was in the garden getting flowers. That meant she was not at her piano, but I was … And an hour later ‘Our House’ was born, out of an incredibly ordinary moment that many, many people have experienced.”

Streaky Vegan Bacon!!

Late December/early January is going to be a busy time for us because we’ll be having two batches of guests! First off, Annie and Jamie are coming up for New Year’s Eve and then the minute they leave, Em is coming up with a bunch of friends…including a BIG dog and a GIANT baby!!

Emily with super-cute giant baby, Alex!!

In anticipation of our visitors, I’m making a few seitan loaves. First off, I’ll be making Gaz Oakley’s roast, so we can have faux beef dip sammies and perhaps a Guinness Stew. We’ll also be making the stuffed seitan turkey for New Year’s Eve.

But this afternoon and evening, I’ve been making Gaz Oakley’s streaky bacon because my darling Em has always had a weakness for vegan bacon!

In truth, the recipe is a bit labour intensive, but it’s not at all tricky. And the recipe does produce QUITE a lot of vegan bac’n, so it should be worth the effort!

Here is the process, which I stuck to (for the most part). I did add some Better Than Bouillon vegetable base, however, for a deeper umami taste!

I made the seitan bac’n yesterday and let it sit in the fridge overnight. James bought me a “meat” slicer a couple of days ago, so we were able to try it with the bac’n this morning. The funniest part of it is that James won’t actually let me use “my” new slicer because….well, let’s just say because he knows me well and doesn’t want me to lose a finger! The music in the background on the video is James’ choice (obviously–haha!). He discovered this morning that he can get old Flanders and Swann music on Google Home, so he’s been playing it all day. I’m waiting until he goes outside to bring in the wood to change it!

James still won’t let me use the slicer!!

Now Gaz says he gets about forty slices from his recipe, but I actually was able to get 55 slices! I froze four ten-packs of it to pull out when we have guests and the rest is for us!

I made James a couple of BLTs and he gave the bacon a huge thumbs up! I later had an bac’n-avo-lettuce sammie and it was delicious! I give this recipe a 12/10–will definitely make again–likely on the regular!

Fifty-five slices of seitan bacon!

Gaz smashes his layers together with vigour! I apparently did not apply enough because the layers separated on some of my slices in the frying process.
Seitan BLTs with a nice pint of Guinness!

And the song of the day is a poem, not a song. Today, I came across this Elizabeth Bishop poem that I used to teach twenty-odd years ago. I love the image of the ancient fish with his quiet dignity….and the final few lines, “…until everything / was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!” And it’s an entirely appropriate poem for a vegan blog since the speaker of the poem ends up letting the fish go!

The Fish

by Elizabeth Bishop

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
— the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly —
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
— It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
— if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels — until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

Vegan Guinness Stew

I swear I’m so taken with this whole “wheat meat” thing that I’m going to have to change the name of my blog to The Seitan Diaries. Fortunately, I’m going into Vancouver next week for my mum’s birthday and a few administrative matters, so my system will have a break from all things vital wheat gluten!

As for today, we’re having our FOURTH meal from that one seitan roast I made last Sunday. First, we had the roast on Sunday, then “beef” dip sandwiches on Monday, fajitas on Tuesday, and tonight, it’s a lush Guinness stew with the last half pound of that vegan roast!

I based the recipe on this well-reviewed one from allrecipes.com.

Vegan Guinness Stew

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. vegan roast, cut into pieces

1/4 cup vegan bacon bits

1 small, white onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 ounces of Guinness

2 TBS tomato paste

2 sprigs of thyme

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 cups vegetable broth

1 TBS Better than Bouillon vegetable base

1 tsp date syrup

1/2 tsp cayenne

Sea salt 

Freshly ground pepper

For the slurry:

1 TBS arrowroot flour combine with 1/3 cup of cold water

Directions: Spray a frying pan with a blast of oil and add vegan bacon bits and vegan roast chunks, salt and freshly ground pepper; saute for a few minutes, then move the contents of the frying pan to a larger pot.

Spray the frying pan again and saute the onion and garlic until they turn brown. Next, deglaze the pan with the Guinness and pour into the larger pot.

Add the rest of the ingredients, another good helping of pepper, and bring to a boil.

Once the stew is boiling, turn down the heat to a simmer. Next, make the arrowroot-water slurry and pour into the stew stirring until the stew is thick and shiny (an indication the arrowroot flour is cooked).

And just look at this deliciousness! The stew tastes quite lush and will be delicious over some mashed potatoes or rice. For the time being, however, I’ll just have a little tasting bowl with a vegan Yorkshire pud on the side to soak up that gravy!

Vegan Guinness Stew!!

And our song of the day is “Elastic Day” by J. Mascis–a recommendation from my friend, Bob. 

OMG–Vegan Stuffed Turkey!!

James has been very intrigued with my various seitanic rituals…ahem…experiments of late and wanted to try out a recipe for a stuffed seitan turkey in anticipation of the holiday season.

We usually spend Christmas Eve making a tourtiere with all the fixings and continue to eat that on Christmas day, but Annie and Jamie are coming up at the end of December, so we wanted a special recipe for New Year’s Eve.

So, to begin this endeavour, I made James a loaf of seitan from this vegan chick’n recipe. However, instead of simmering the dough in broth, I rolled it out to about a half-inch thickness on parchment paper and baked it at 375 for 25 minutes.

James (yes, those are his manly hands in the pictures!) then placed another piece of parchment over the baked dough and rolled it around a rolling pin and left it to “train” into the round shape as it cooled. He made the stuffing while he waited for it to cool.

Next, he made the…Stuffing!!

1/2 cup white wine

2 cups chopped, dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, mango, prunes, apples)

1 cup diced celery

1.5 cups sweet onion

1/2 cup diced red pepper

1/3 cup vegan butter

3 cups bread cubes

1 cup vegetable broth

1 TBS chopped fresh thyme

1 TBS chopped fresh sage

1 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Pour wine over dried fruit and leave for 15 minutes. Saute the celery, onion, and red pepper in the vegan butter for five minutes. Place bread cubes in a large bowl and pour onion mixture over top. Add wine and dried fruit. Add vegetable broth and fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

Next, unroll your dough and spread the stuffing along the full length of the dough and roll it back up. Place seam side down in an 11 x 14 casserole dish.

Rub the outside with a little vegan butter:

And wrap in three pieces of softened rice paper. Don’t worry about getting the bottom–just cover the ends to keep the stuffing in and then cover the centre:

Pour around the roast:

2 cups apple cider (be prepared to top this up every time you baste!)

1/2 cup dried apples

Next, bake at 375 degrees for one and a half hours, basting every fifteen minutes.

When the roast is cooked, drain off the basting juice, strain it into a pan, and reduce by 1/3 over medium heat, and add a splash of sherry.

This will be the sauce for your stuffed vegan turkey. It’s not a gravy–more of a thin sauce, but lovely.

We served our delicious vegan stuffed turkey with asparagus and mashed potatoes. 

It was divine!!

And the song of the day is “Either Way” by Beta Radio”

Hail Seitan…oh, and a Vegan Beef Dip Sandwich!

I’ve been posting quite a few seitan recipes lately and whenever I post pictures of my faux meat experiments online, I notice someone always mentions that they don’t like to eat gluten, the main ingredient in seitan.

Of course, some people do have celiac disease, and others have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (a very real disease). According to Dr. Greger, however, those people amount to a very small segment of the population. For the rest of us, gluten is apparently not only fine but actually good for us!

Check out Dr. G’s short video on the topic!

And while Dr. Greger refers to the less than one percent of the population with celiac disease, he fails to mention people who suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). This oversight may be related to the fact that science has only recently started studying NCGS and his video is from 2009. Still, to assume that because ingesting gluten can be life-threatening to a small portion of the population it must be bad for everyone is illogical. By that flawed logic, we should all stop eating nuts because a small segment of the population has a nut allergy.

But what about the myriad gluten-free products now available in supermarkets and specialty bakeries? Well, apparently, it’s a bit of a scam: gluten-free products are often over-priced and some may be less healthy than their gluten-filled counterpart.

Check out this episode of Marketplace called “Gluten-Free: The Truth Behind the Trend” for details.

So what is gluten? It’s what we call the proteins in wheat, rye, spelt and barley. It’s what makes bread rise and what makes loaves retain their structure. Some people have a disease that makes them intolerant to this protein, but it’s just fine for the rest of us!

Aaaand I just realized after watching this video that I use all-purpose flour for my baguettes, yet I should be using bread flour, which has a higher protein content. Perhaps I’ll add a little vital wheat gluten to my next batch to increase the protein content (and, hopefully, reduce the density of the loaves).

Anyway, here is the process for my vegan beef dip!

This succulent sammie was created by first making Gaz Oakley’s recipe for Vegan Roast Beast au jus. I then baked a couple of baguettes using the pan de agua method, so the crusts were nice and soft. I then thinned out the gravy from the roast beast recipe to make it more conducive to dipping! Finally, I sliced the faux beef with the food processor so it would be SUPER thin.

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I schmeared the soft little baguettes with lots of horseradish and a touch of vegan butter and loaded them up with the warmed faux beef and sliced onions and Bob’s your uncle–a totally vegan beef dip served with air fries!

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And here’s the sammie going into the jus!!

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And the song of the day is Fleetwood Mac’s “Blood on the Floor.”

I recently discovered that Fleetwood Mac is coming to Vancouver and was trying to compel Em to attend the concert because….I sang a Fleetwood Mac song the entire time I was in labour with her. That song was, appropriately enough, “Blood on the Floor”! And while it’s a grim little song about heartbreak and murder, it has a perfect kind of rhythm–one perfectly suited to the rhythmic painful rocking of labour.

I don’t think I convinced her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gaz Oakley is My New Jam!! Oh, and Vegan Roast Beast!!

James and I were so taken with the Gaz Oakley cookbook that Chazz and Francie sent me that we ordered his new Christmas cookbook the minute it was released. The book arrived from our good friends at Amazon exactly ONE DAY after I ordered it, and we pored over it all Friday afternoon trying to decide what we’d make for Christmas and New Year’s Eve for Annie and Jamie, who are coming up on December 30th to stay for a few days.

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I was so intrigued with his recipe for Rosemary, Red Wine and Garlic “Beef” with Rich Jus, as well as his vegan Yorkshire Pudding, that I decided to spend the afternoon attempting the recipe. His recipes always have a ton of ingredients and are a bit labour-intensive, but I don’t mind because they aren’t tricky in the least.

And any good vegan recipe is going to have at least 17 ingredients if it’s going to taste half decent!

Now, I can’t reproduce the recipes here because I haven’t adapted them enough to pass them off as my own (haha!). You’ll just need to buy your own copy of the book!

I did make two changes to the vegan roast recipe though: I subbed Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base for Marmite (because who the hell can get Marmite in Canada?!!).

I also added one can of jackfruit to the seitan roast at the mixing stage to add texture. Both adaptations worked VERY well.

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For the gravy, I deviated from Gaz’s instructions a bit as well: rather than strain the broth, I blended it in the Vitamix so I could include the onion, garlic, and herbs. The result was a lovely, velvety jus. I didn’t even need to add cornstarch to thicken it!

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I also made Gaz’s vegan Yorkshire puddings, which James loved, but I thought were a bit stodgy because I don’t think I had the oil hot enough.

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I used the Post-Punk Kitchen recipe for vegan mashed potatoes (which I always love!) and air-fried some broccoli.

The entire meal was a rather amazing vegan fake of the Sunday dinners of my childhood!

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And I used so much red wine in the recipe that we had to eat our Vegan Roast Beast with white wine! Nevertheless, the entire meal was delicious!

And the song of the day is Van Morrison’s “Wonderful Remark”–the eight-minute version from The Philosopher’s Stone:

 

 

Vegan Fried Chick’n Cordon Bleu!

In honour of James’ sixty-first birthday, I thought I’d adapt my vegan fried chick’n recipe and make vegan chick’n cordon bleu!

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So let’s get started!

First, make this seitan chick’n recipe, but stop before you wrap the chick’n in rice paper. Before you place the seitan pieces in the broth, flatten them out a bit like this:

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Next, make this vegan cheez sauce and these vegan bac’n bits. When you make the bac’n bits, make twice as much of the bac’n juice as required and save half for later.

Slit the pieces of vegan chick’n and insert the vegan cheez sauce and bac’n bits. Alternatively, you can press the pieces flat, spread them with the cheez and bac’n and roll them up. I tried both ways.

Soak the rice paper in the other half of the bac’n mixture and wrap each chick’n piece in the rice paper like a burrito. Continue with the breading according to the recipe.

IMG_20181102_175900Next, make this dijon sauce for topping the chick’n cordon bleu:

Dijon Cream Sauce

  • 1 1/2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/4 cups almond milk
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast

Blend in the bullet and then heat while whisking until the mixture turns shiny (an indication the flour has cooked).

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Aaaaaand….here we go!! Roasted taters, cole slaw, freshly baked bread, chick’n cordon bleu, and dijon sauce!

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And, in honour of my dad, who died last week, the song of the week is (weirdly) Liza Minelli singing “Mein Herr.”

My dad didn’t really enjoy music much, but the rest of us always had music playing. I remember listening to The Beatles with my brothers and mum in the early 1960s, and the minute my mum heard my dad’s car in the driveway, she’d run to turn off the stereo.

A classic joke in our family was that Johnny once asked my dad, “What’s wrong? Don’t you appreciate good music?”

And my dad said, “That’s just the trouble. I DO.”

However, I don’t remember him listening to music at all…ever.

Oddly, however, He LOVED musicals–and his favourite musical was Cabaret. When he and my mum used to babysit Emily, he would play her their VHS tape of Cabaret over and over again. My mum became worried about what she called “the rude bits” though, so my sweet dad actually edited the tape to cut out all the rude bits so Emily could just watch all the musical numbers.

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Imagine my embarrassment when I went to pick Em up at the SFU daycare and the caregiver told me that Emily had entertained them all that day with her own rendition of “Mein Herr,” complete with chair and bowler hat.

So here’s to my dad….and his love of Cabaret!

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And here’s the last picture I took of my mum and dad before my dad’s death:IMG_20181023_124128.jpg

And here’s to you, Don–mein herr!

 

Vegan Version of Earls Santa Fe Salad

One of my favourite restaurant salads is Earls Santa Fe salad. Of course, I always have to order it without the chicken (and beg the server to sub me some extra avo in its place!). Today, I have one leftover vegan chick’n breast, so I thought I’d try a fake of the salad!

The dressing is a peanut-lime vinaigrette, but all the online fakes of the dressing contain copious amounts of oil and sugar, which I’m replacing with tofu and dates.

PEANUT LIME VINAIGRETTE

Blend in the Vitamix:

  • 1/2 cup fresh peanuts
  • 1/2 cup tofu
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 TBS peanut butter
  • 2 medjool date
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbl lime zest

SANTA FE SALAD:

Toss with the above dressing:

  • romaine lettuce
  • black beans
  • corn
  • chopped dates

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Top the salad with….

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Just look at that lusciousness!! And it tastes close enough to the Earls version that I’m happy at finally tasting it with the chick’n!

It’s a glorious day here on Denman, and I’ll likely be spending it working on the deck garden, which is quite the mess at the moment.

And our song of the day is Ray Lamontagne’s “You are the Best Thing” because I’ve been a bit preoccupied and sad of late because of my parents’ health issues and the lyrics seem particularly apt for the way James just makes everything better with no apparent effort….

It’s like you see right through me
And make it easier
Believe me, you don’t even have to try
Oh, because
You are the best thing

 

 

Vegan (Air)Fried Chick’n, Y’all!!!

On our way back from a little hike in the woods on Friday, we stopped at the mailbox and found a package….for ME!!! Now, I love nothing more than getting presents, so I could hardly wait to get home to rip open the box, which contained a new vegan cookbook from Francie and Chazz!!!IMG_20181012_180145.jpg

Funnily enough, I’d been poring over my vegan cookbooks just that morning and kept complaining to James that I felt like I’d already made everything interesting.

Gaz Oakley’s book is quite different though. While the premise of many vegan cookbooks seems to be that vegan cooking can be quick and easy, Oakley seems to focus more on creating fakes of omni food, and I LOVE that kind of thing (though those types of recipes are invariably labour intensive).

So after an enjoyable Saturday morning browsing his recipes, I settled on his Kentucky fried chick’n recipe and jumped right in.

The basic process is similar to the one outlined in his video…

His recipe can also be found here.

After reading the comments on the video and discussing the recipe with Chazz (who makes fried chick’n on the regular), I made a number of changes:

  • I added some BTB to the wet mix for extra flavour;
  • I used almond milk instead of soy;
  • I added a can of jackfruit that had been pulsed several times in the food processor to create a more varied or less-dense texture;
  • I wrapped the seitan pieces in wet rice paper before breading to give the chick’n a kind of skin;
  • I used Vegg egg replacer and water as the dredge;
  • I used the air fryer rather than deep frying the chick’n.

The whole process took quite a long time because it’s multi-step…and also because I feared the seitan would fall apart in the broth because of the jackfruit, so I wrapped the pieces in cheesecloth. No sooner did I have the little packages bobbing away in the broth than I read the instruction that the seitan was supposed to double in size!!!!

So, of course, I had to fish all the carefully wrapped seitan packages out of the simmering broth and unwrap them. Fortunately, the seitan stayed together surprisingly well without the cheesecloth and despite the addition of jackfruit!!

I’ll reproduce the recipe here because I’ve made several changes, but I’ve also included links to the original recipe above for your reference. As I mention above, the process is a bit labour intensive, but TOTALLY WORTH IT! Also, you’ll use every appliance and dish you own, but you’ll also have time between steps to wash the dishes as you go!

Air-Fried Vegan Chick’n

Step One:

Blend in the Vitamix until smooth:

  • 3 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup almond milk

Add and blend again until smooth

  • 1 cup firm tofu
  • 1 TBS Better Than Bouillon base
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt

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Step Two:

Drain, add to food processor, and pulse until grainy:

  • 1 can of jackfruit

Step Three:

Add to the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk together:

  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup chickpea/fava flour (the original recipe calls for plain chickpea flour)

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Step Four:

Add the contents of the Vitamix and food processor to the mixing bowl and mix using the dough hook. Once everything is mixed together, run the mixer on low for five minutes to knead the seitan. According to Gaz, seitan must be hand-kneaded for ten minutes to get the right texture; if you’re using a stand mixer, four or five minutes should do it.

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Once the seitan is all mixed and kneaded, it will look like this:

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Notice that the jackfruit gives the seitan a much looser structure, but that’s the idea: regular chicken doesn’t have as dense a structure as seitan, so the jackfruit creates some variety (for lack of a better word) in the otherwise dense structure of seitan chick’n.

Let the dough rest for ten minutes while you prepare the broth for simmering the seitan.

Step Five:

Add to a large pot:

  • 10 cups vegetable broth (I increased this from the original which called for only 1 litre)
  • 4 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 2 TBS dried rosemary (Gaz calls for fresh, but I had none!)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • salt & pepper

Turn on the heat and get the broth up to a simmer. To be honest, making seitan isn’t particularly tricky, but maintaining the broth at a constant simmer IS! My broth always seems to be at a full-on boil or at zero bubbles! The process is fairly forgiving, however, because my seitan always turns out just fine.

PROTIP!! Once you’ve finished cooking the seitan in the broth, let it cool, then pour it in the Vitamix and blend until smooth. This will make a nice gravy if you like dipping your fried chick’n in gravy!

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Ha–notice the reflection of the kitchen light in the broth picture!

Now cut your seitan into chicken-sized pieces….

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…and drop them into the broth.

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Let the seitan simmer in the broth for twenty-five minutes. You’ll lose a bit of the jackfruit in the simmering, but no worries: the chunks will retain their basic integrity and double in size.

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Step Six:

For this step, you create a kind of skin for the seitan to adhere to. It’s not as tricky as it seems at ALL and is completely worth the extra effort. I consulted with expert vegan chef, Chazz, and she said to just wrap each piece of seitan tightly in the rice paper….like a burrito.

Take a large dish and fill with very warm water and insert (one at a time):

  • 8 sheets of rice paper (one for each piece of seitan)

Wrap each of the seitan pieces in one piece of rice paper.

This process is fairly quick and the result looks like this…

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Step Seven:

In this step, you bread the seitan pieces. Gaz uses a mixture of chickpea flour and water for the dredge, but I use Vegg Egg replacer because it creates a gooier vehicle for the coating. You could also use aqua faba, which works very well!

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Mix together in one bowl for the dredge:

  • 2.5 tsp Vegg vegan egg yolk
  • 2 cups water

Mix together in a second bowl for the coating:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 TBS coconut sugar
  • 1 TBS cayenne
  • 1 TBS dried chilli flakes
  • 1 TBS oregano
  • 1 TBS smoked paprika (Gaz uses regular, but I like the smoked)
  • 1 TBS sage
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Alternatively, you can try this mix of spices (apparently, authentic KFC spices!).

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Line up the seitan, the dredge, and the coating….

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And yeah, baby, that’s a grapefruit martini. What can I say–the process was becoming a bit arduous at this point, so Jamie-boy whipped me up one of his special cocktails! Note the fancy grapefruit twist!

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Dip each piece in the dredge and then coat thoroughly in the coating.

Then DO IT AGAIN! Seriously, you need to double dip each piece to get the maximum amount of coating!

Place the coated piece on the air-fryer sheet.

Spray the sheet with oil, and then spray each piece of chick’n with oil. I know this step adds a bit of oil, but Gaz’s recipe calls for deep-frying in a LITRE of oil at this point, and we sure as hell ain’t doin’ THAT!

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Air-fry for 25 – 30 minutes, turning at the halfway mark. When you turn the chick’n pieces, check for any dry spots and zap with a quick spray of oil if you see any.

The end result looks like astonishingly chicken-like!!IMG_20181013_192405.jpg

Step Eight: EAT THAT CHICK’N!!!!!!

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And here’s my case for the rice-paper-skin step: just look at this chunk of chick’n with skin!!

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This stuff is so damn good that, even though it’s a bit labour intensive, I would make it again in a heartbeat!!

And then I made a couple of nice little open-faced chick’n and bac’n sammies for lunch on Sunday…

And here’s a pic of the club sandwich (on a freshly baked bun) I made for James when he arrived home from grocery shopping. IMG_20181014_134827.jpg

Bustie is EXTREMELY interested in James’ little repast!IMG_20181014_134917.jpg

And here’s a nice vegan dessert to go with it all! I did not, of course, make this since desserts are definitely not my forte. This lovely pumpkin spice cake was made by my sister, Biddy, for her vegan daughter, Dana, from a Vegan Yumminess recipe:

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And speaking of Dana, we had a nice visit with her last week when she dropped by with three friends for lunch on their way over to Hornby Island. James made a fabulous vegan feast of …

    • Vegan Spring Rolls with Chilli-Lime Dipping Sauce
    • Sweet Potato and Kalamata Olive Soup
    • Mushroom and Artichoke Strudel with Cranberry-Orange Confit
    • Asparagus and Cajun New Potatoes
  • Freshly Baked Baguettes
  • Pecan Pie

Notice the fabulous little pottery wine glasses, a gift from another niece–Annie!

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And the song of the day is Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately,” a gorgeously lush song from his Avalon Sunset album (which was released in early 1989 and always reminds me of the first few months of Em’s life):

Vegan Thanksgiving 2018

It’s a rainy day on Denman, but a perfect day for cooking a Thanksgiving feast!

And the menu for this Thanksgiving evening is…..

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  • Air-fried cajun potatoes, which is just potatoes tossed in cajun spices and air-fried for twenty minutes.

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Lemon-Cranberry Sauce:

  • 3 chopped shallots
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1.5 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 TBS maple syrup

Bring to a boil and reduce until most of the liquid is absorbed.

  • And a couple of bottles of…..Prosecco (compliments of Dana and her crew!!)….

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So here we go!

Bustie’s just waiting ecstatically for his share!!

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And here’s our elegant dinner!

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It was freakin’ DELICIOUS!!!

And now we’re off to an outdoor bath under the stars with Oh Wonder (my latest obsession) playing on Google Home….

 

 

 

 

Vegan Mac & Cheese to Die for!

I awoke today with two warring notions in my head: first, I was determined to get back on the vegan train after a week in town (a week that may have involved a few eggs, a bit of cheese, and a LOT of oil); second, my week in town was rather stressful and I felt the need to stuff my piehole with some kind of cheesy, creamy comfort food.

I decided I could accommodate my duelling desires with a sumptuous vegan mac and cheese that’s also surprisingly healthy.

This recipe is for one big 11 x 17 casserole or for two nine-inch casseroles. I made two nine-inch pans because James doesn’t like vegetables in his mac and cheese and I love ’em–the more the better!

Vegan Mac and Cheez to Die for!

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2. Set some water boiling for one pound of brown rice rotini. I like the Tinkyada brand.

3. Whip up a batch of  Smoky Vegan Cheddar Sauce. If you like it extra saucy, mix up a double batch.

4. Next, whip up a batch of Chewy Vegan Bacon Bits.

5. Air-fry for seven minutes….

  • 1.5 cups cauliflower
  • 1.5 cups Brussels sprouts

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6. Run under lukewarm water….

  • 1 cup frozen peas

7. Panfry….

  • 1 chopped white onion
  • add to the pan 1/2 cup whole wheat panko crumbs once the onion has browned

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8. Now assemble it! Mix the cheese sauce with the rotini, add in the vegetables, and pour the mixture into the casserole dish(es). Drizzle a bit more of the cheez sauce over the top and then cover the top with chewy vegan bacon bits. Follow this with the fried onion and panko crumb mixture.

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9. Bake at 350 for thirty minutes and…you’re done!

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Top with some freshly ground pepper and stuff your piehole!!

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And the song of the day is The Beatles song, “You Never Give me your Money” because I couldn’t get it out of my head all last week while I was visiting my parents in Vancouver.

Sadly, when I sang the song to my mum, a woman who once knew every lyric to every song by The Beatles, she couldn’t remember it. Even after Em found the song on her phone and played the original, my mum could not remember the song. She remains as charming as ever, dementia notwithstanding.

And occasionally the rather caustic version of the old Kate shows up again. For example, I took her to get her hair done and, after a kind administrator at her residential care home showed us the way to the in-house salon, my mother said in the loudest, clearest voice, “Well….SHE could certainly do with a makeover!!”

So here’s the song she once knew by heart, and here’s a picture of the old girl after her visit to the beauty parlour!

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FOUR-WW-Point Vegan Pizza!!! And No, the Crust isn’t Cauliflower!

As I was lazing in bed this gloomy Sunday morning, I came across this picture of pizza on the Hornby Island FB page and thought, “I must have pizza!”

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Now, clearly that pizza is neither vegan nor low in WW points, so my task for the day was to figure out a pizza recipe that would ring both those bells. The only real problem was the crust because I already had a recipe for a super low-point sauce and a very low-point vegan mozzarella.

As for the crust, I realllllly didn’t fancy one of those cauliflower crusts that you have to eat with a knife and fork because they fall apart so easily. What I ended up with is a version of my healthy low-point bread dough.

The result is very good and the recipe makes two very large pies–you’ll need a couple of cookie sheets for these pies–a pizza pan won’t do it!

So here we go!

Pizza Dough

Step One:

Mix together:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1.5 tsp yeast

Leave to sit until the yeast blooms.

Step Two:

Blend in the Vitamix until as smooooth as pancake batter:

  • 1 cup red lentils (uncooked)
  • 1 cup water

If you don’t have a Vitamix or other high-speed blender, you’ll need to soak your lentils for several hours first. Once the mixture is smooth, add a big handful of….

  • fresh basil
  • fresh oregano

Pulse a few times until the herbs are in bits, but not fully blended.

 

Step Three:

Shred one medium zucchini and microwave for one minute; squeeze as much water as possible out of the zucchini with a kitchen towel.

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Step Four:

Mix together in a stand mixer bowl:

  • 1 cup sprouted spelt flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1 TBS vital wheat gluten

Step Five:

Pour the yeast/water mix from step one, the lentil mix from step two, and the zucchini from step three into the dry mix and blend with the dough hook for a good two or three minutes.

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Cover and let rise for an hour or so.

Next divide the dough in half and roll it out.

The dough is extremely wet, so you’ll need a scraper and a sprinkling of flour. The good news is that the dough pushes out easily with your hands, however, and makes two huge crusts. Use a cookie tray or focaccia pan for each crust.

In fact, I’d recommend lining a focaccia pan with parchment paper, dusting the parchment and your hands with flour and just pushing the dough out toward the edge of the pan.

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Parbake the crusts for 8 minutes at 450.

Next, load up the crusts with your sauce, vegetables, vegan bacon, and vegan cheese and bake for 15 – 20  minutes at 450. Exchange the pizza racks and turn the pizzas halfway through cooking time.

WW Points for Crust: 2 for 1/6 of one pizza; 4 for 1/3 of one pizza

Fresh, Vegan Pizza Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes (grape tomatoes work very well!)
  • handful of fresh oregano
  • handful of fresh basil
  • handful of fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 (5.5-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • red pepper flakes

Blend it all up in the blender well in advance of pizza preparation, so the fresh herbs have a chance to meld into the sauce.

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This sauce makes enough for three pizzas, so you’ll have some left over.

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WW Points for Sauce: 0 for 1/6 of one pizza; 0 for 1/3 of one pizza

The sauce WILL eventually cost you if you eat 1/2 of the pizza, but only 1 point!

 

Shreddable Vegan Mozzarella can be found here!

It’s super quick to make and will firm up to shreddable-ness in a couple of hours in the fridge!

WW Points for Vegan Cheese: 2 for 1/6 of one pizza; 3 for 1/3 of one pizza

You can top your pizza with any vegetable and herb you want and that will cost you exactly ZERO points, but you may want something a bit succulent, so I recommend a nice sprinkling of my Chewy Vegan Bacon Bits. If you sprinkle a quarter cup on each pizza, that’ll cost you only 2 points.

WW Points for Vegan Bacon: 0 for 1/6 of one pizza; 0 for 1/3 of one pizza

This lovely pie is topped with onions, red peppers, artichokes, mushrooms, and a handful of fresh basil leaves (scattered on the pie immediately after removing from the oven). My vegan cheese didn’t have long enough to set, so it didn’t shred as well as usual, but it was still delicious!

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So I had two pieces of this lovely pizza for only SEVEN WW points!! I added a salad with this zero-point Caesar dressing and was more than satisfied! I’d planned a fruit salad for dessert, but was completely satisfied with my ‘za-and-salad combo!

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And the song of the day is Van Morrison’s “You Don’t Know Me” from Days Like This, because the song always reminds me of my Jamie-boy and today is our 11th anniversary. Here’s a picture of us about a week before we set up housekeeping together. It was taken at my 50th birthday party at Bid and Paul’s place.

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And here’s Van singing one of my favourites.

Homegrown Turmeric and Lemony-Asian Zero-Point Dressing (WW)

Remember how amazingly healthy turmeric is for you? No? Well, here’s a quick reminder!

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And, as for ginger, well….

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Because of all that healthiness, I’ve been trying to grow my own turmeric and ginger this summer and, while my turmeric seems to have taken, I’ve had little luck with my ginger. I started one pot of turmeric in April and another in July. Neither have flowered, but the five-month-old pot has started turning brown–an indication that it’s almost time to harvest.

When I was watering today, I noticed one of the roots emerging through the soil, so I plucked it to make some turmeric-ginger-pepper tea.

Then, at the urging of a friend, I decided to try a turmeric salad dressing….or one that contains turmeric anyway!

This one is adapted from a CFDG recipe in order to reduce the fat content. I changed at least five ingredients, so I think it’s okay to post here. I quite like result!

Lemony Asian Dressing

Makes 2 cups

  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (or water)
  • 5 ounces tofu
  • 2 scoops Naked Peanut Butter Powder
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 2.5 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 medjool date
  • 1 chunk of ginger (about 1.5 TBS)
  • 1 chunk of turmeric root (about 1 TBS)
  • 1 tsp ume plum vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a couple of turns of pepper (to help absorb the garlic-turmeric goodness!)

Blend it all like crazy in your Vitamix!!

2 TBS = 0 WW points!! Now, a 1/4 cup will cost you 1 point, but half a cup is STILL only 1 point! Not bad, eh?!!

And the song of the day is Ray LaMontagne’s “Let it be Me” because his voice is amazing:

 

 

 

 

 

WW Zero-Point Hummus and Caesar Salad Dressing!!

I know, I know….I’m always posting hummus recipes–almost as often as I post peanut-sauce recipes!! These are the two sauces I can’t live without!

Anyway, commercial hummus tends to have points because it contains olive oil AND tahini, both of which are high in points. I never add olive oil to my hummus, but I do add tahini. I’ve tried the various Forks-Over-Knives recipes where you just leave out the tahini, but something seems to be missing. It’s just not as smooth and creamy.

I tried something today, however, that resulted in a nice creamy hummus without the added fat: I added 4 ounces of tofu and one scoop of Naked PB–a de-fatted peanut butter powder. The result is VERY good! And did I mention….ZERO points!

So here is the recipe, which I’ve taken from my recipe maker on the Weight Watchers site (just in case you don’t believe that it’s ZERO points!!!!).

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 3.39.48 PMNow, the other cool thing is that you can make a ZERO-point Caesar salad dressing from this recipe!

WW Zero-Point Caesar Salad Dressing

  • 1 cup zero-point hummus
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2.5 TBS grated garlic
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2.5 TBS dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 TBS capers and brine
  • 1 tsp BTB vegetable base

Oh, and the song of the day is Rod Stewart’s “Mandolin Wind” because I can’t stop singing it today!

 

WW Two-Point Peanut Sauce!!!

As I may have mentioned, I’ve been endeavouring to follow online Weight Watchers for the past few months. I was doing quite well and losing weight, but then the summer–with lots of guests and holidays–happened and I’m right back to where I started!

This week I am trying to get together a series of low-point meal ideas for when I start back in earnest on Labour Day….after Bid and Paul have left their cabin on Hornby and headed back to the city. I mean, sure, I could start today, but there’s next weekend and our last Friday Feast and our last Sunday at The Thatch to consider!

So today I give you a 2-point peanut sauce made with a handy little product called Naked Peanut Butter. It’s kind of like that powdered peanut butter I was so keen on a couple of years ago, but it contains no added sugar.

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It’s very good and makes a great peanut sauce as long as you add something to make it a bit creamy. If you recall, my previous attempts at making creamy peanut sauce from powdered peanut butter involved corn starch, which didn’t achieve the best result, so I thought I’d try adding tofu. The result is VERY good! And….tofu has no points!

So here we go!!

Naked Two-Point Peanut Sauce

  • 2 scoops Naked Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 ounces tofu
  • 1 medjool date
  • 1 chunk of ginger–about a TBS or so
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 – 2 TBS sambal oelek
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base (or 1 tsp salt)

Blend in the Vitamix until smooth and creamy. You can heat it up or serve it as is–up to you!

This recipe makes 1.5 cups; each serving is half a cup and will score you two WW points.

Now, here comes the tricky part. This sauce tastes best on these amazing (and healthy!) millet-and-brown-rice ramen noodles, but the noodles will cost you a bomb in WW points (as most grains will).

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Indeed, each little nest is six points, and who ever has only one?! But if you manage to stop at one nest and include a TON of vegetables (which are zero points), you’ll have a pretty satisfying dinner for eight points. If you decided to go for the two nests of noodles, it’ll cost you fourteen points for dinner, so you’d need to keep your breakfast and lunch points under nine in total. There is a ton of zero-point foods on WW, however, so it’s entirely possible!

Anyway, here’s my delicious meal (with only six points of noodles) with tons of vegetables and a healthy portion of peanut sauce!

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And the song of the day is “God Only Knows” because though I was never a big Beach Boys fan in my youth, I’ve developed a huge respect for Brian Wilson’s musical genius in recent years–particularly his Pet Sounds album of 1966.

 

 

Mags’ Killer Sammie Bread!! Oh, and an Awesome Fat-Free Sammie Spread!

As you know, I’ve been experimenting with my healthy loaf to try to reduce or eliminate the amount of white flour it contains. I tried some dark rye flour and it was so horrible, I had to bin not only the loaf I baked, but also the uncooked dough in a jug in my fridge.

Today, I was reading about lentil flour and thought, hey, I may as well give it a try! Now, because I’m used to working with the no-knead type dough, I made a super shaggy dough and hoped for the best. It turned out brilliantly–SO much better than I thought it would be!!

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So here’s the process, which, what the hell, I may as well call…

Mags’ Killer Bread!!

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Step One:

Mix together:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 TBS oats
  • 2 TBS quinoa flakes (or quinoa)
  • 2 TBS sunflower seeds

Leave to sit for twenty minutes while you get the other steps ready.

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Step Two:

Blend in the Vitamix until as smooooth as pancake batter:

  • 1 cup red lentils (uncooked)
  • 1 cup water

If you don’t have a Vitamix or other high-speed blender, you’ll need to soak your lentils for several hours first.

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Step Three:

Mix together in a stand mixer bowl:

  • 1 cup sprouted spelt flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (you could also try Bob’s Gluten-Free Flour)
  • 1.5 tsp baker’s yeast
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1 TBS vital wheat gluten (you can try leaving this out if you don’t mind an even denser loaf)

Step Four:

Pour the seed/water mix from step one and the lentil mix from step two into the dry mix and blend with the dough hook for a good two or three minutes.

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The dough will be very shaggy–not something you can knead, so let the dough hooks do the kneading. Here’s a video so you can see the texture once mixed:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/qPNU4gj8Lz7Zojgw9

Next, pour the mix into a loaf pan or a Pullman pan (my preference), cover and leave in a warm place for one hour. I put mine on the deck because it’s hot as Hades right now.

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Sprinkle on your sesame seeds or some Everything But the Bagel topping from Trader Joe’s and bake for 30 – 35 minutes…until the loaf achieves an internal temperature of 207 degrees.

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Wait until it cools to slice.

The bread is quite dense and moist, so it’s best to toast it–even if you’re making a sandwich for later. It’s easy to slice quite thinly–a quarter inch or so–because it’s so dense.

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I like using the Pullman pan so the crust is soft and good for sandwiches!

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And each 1/4-inch slice is exactly ONE Weight Watchers point!!

Here it is toasted….

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And here it is loaded!!!

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And here’s the dessert version with nut butter, bananas, date syrup, and walnut bits!

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And James is chowing down on a couple of pieces with Earth Balance vegan butter (and a schmear of Old Nippy he snuck in with the groceries yesterday!).

And if you’re wondering about that delicious-looking dip for my cherry tomatoes in the above pic, check out my super-low-point recipe, which I’ll call (just to go with the trend)….

Mag’s Killer Dip (and Sandwich Spread!)

Throw this in the Vitamix and blend until smooooooooth:

  • 200 grams tofu (1 cup)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Medjool dates
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS capers with brine
  • 1 TBS dill (or 1/4 cup fresh dill)
  • 1 TBS yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp BTB vegetable base
  • 1 tsp salt

Refrigerate!! The dip gets thicker in the fridge!

And the song of the day is apparently going to be the wedding song of my niece, Annie, and her fiance, Chris, who became engaged at Graham Lake when they were up here visiting last weekend!!

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I give you Father John Misty’s “Chateau Lobby #4″…

An Absolutely Perfect Day…Oh, and a Super Healthy Sandwich Loaf!

Yesterday was one of those perfect summer days on Denman Island–it was the kind of day you think of when your guided meditation compels you to mentally transport yourself to your ideal imaginary spot of peacefulness and tranquility. (Now, I don’t actually DO this…in fact, meditation is something that continues to elude me because….IT’S SO BORING! But in my younger days, I used to TRY to meditate, and I would use guided meditations so my mind wouldn’t wander).

The temperature was a lovely 18 degrees with a very slight breeze, so we started the day with a long paddle around Chrome Island–the lighthouse island at the tip of Denman. We paused for lunch in a little bay and ate delicious avocado-cucumber-onion-tomato-lettuce sammies made on my no-knead sprouted-spelt-whole-wheat-oat-quinoa-sunflower-seed bread and drank coffee from thermoses. We finished our meal with a couple of my new energy bites (which James still claims ARE NOT cookies even though he was starving!).

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At least he’s smiling this time!!

 

We were out for a good three hours though and the sun was shining rather relentlessly, so we arrived home exhausted from the exertion and the sun. James wandered off to his workshop to work on a walking stick he’s making for Paul (who actually has no trouble walking, but he brought James a giant stick to carve earlier in the summer). He’s carving various sea creatures onto the stick–an orca at the top (as you can see) and otters, star fish, seals, and an eagle. IMG_20180719_154307.jpg

And I set about making a couple of batches of my no-knead bread and puttering a bit in the deck garden. We later had a quick dinner of Sideways Burgers and air-fried taters…

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…and then walked the pups around the neighbourhood for a bit.

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Back home after an early evening stroll.

….after which we soaked our aching shoulders in an outdoor bubble bath.

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Edited to cut out James’ head…because apparently some people don’t like their pictures taken while they are in the bath!

A perfect end to an absolutely perfect day.

When I was mucking about with my bread batching in the afternoon, I decided to adjust my no-knead sprouted-spelt-whole-wheat-oat-quinoa-sunflower-seed bread  because, while it is an ideal sandwich bread, the loaves were a little too structured and dense. Plus, I was making the loaves in a round covered casserole to keep the crust soft for sandwiches, so the sammie slices didn’t always match!

So, first, I made a couple of adjustments–I increased the water from 3.25 cups to 3 and 2/3 cups. I also halved the vital wheat gluten. The result was a much shaggier dough, which is what I was after because I wanted a loaf that took on the dimensions of its pan rather than retaining the shape I rolled it into (if that makes sense).

My friends at Amazon had recently sent me a Pullman pan…

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…so I thought I’d give that a try.

Now I always assumed a Pullman pan was so named because of its resemblance to a train car. How wrong I was! Indeed, the Pullman pan was used in the compact kitchens of Pullman dining cars to maximize space. It’s also called a “pain de mie” or “soft bread” pan.

And further, according to Joe Pastry,

“….baking in a Pullman pan is also functionally different from baking in an open-topped loaf pan. In an open-topped pan the bread can expand freely. Not so in a Pullman pan, at least one that’s been loaded properly. There the rise of the loaf is constrained, not a lot but a little, and that tends to keep large bubbles from forming, so the crumb of the bread is fine and tight.

“Just another aesthetic thing? No not really, as sandwich bread with big holes in it can be perilous for the sandwich eater, especially if he’s wearing an expensive tie. Tight holes keep condiments in and soak up melted butter, which make Pullman sandwiches and toasts more civilized experiences with a smaller dry cleaning bills. And really the eating experience is different too since texture effects mouthfeel and flavor.

And speaking of texture, the main reason Pullman pans were first invented in Europe was to do away with crust. I know what you’re thinking: quelle horreur! There were once Europeans who baked bread without crust? On purpose?? Indeed there were, and still are. Think of Pullman loaves like pain de mie as a special-purpose bread where crust isn’t welcome.

Again, consider sandwiches. Lots of people like to try to dress up sandwiches by using hearty country loaves or baguettes. It’s a nice idea, but try biting through one of those. You end up clamping down on one end of the sandwich with your teeth and pulling with both hands on the other. When the portion in your hands suddenly comes loose the fillings go flying in the opposite direction, onto your dining partner and we’ve got cleaning bills again.

No, a pleasant eat-able sandwich is soft all the way around. This is what the Euros were thinking when they invented the lidded loaf pan about 150 years ago.”

So…FINALLY, I give you….

The Healthy Pain de Mie!

Mix together…

  • 3 2/3 cups warm water
  • 1 TBS yeast
  • 1 TBS sea salt
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup quinoa (or quinoa flakes)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Leave for half an hour. Next add…

  • 2 cups sprouted spelt flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 TBS vital wheat gluten

Mix until no dry flour appears and put into a large jug.

The dough will be very shaggy. Leave on the counter until the dough has risen to the top of the jug. Place in the fridge until you fancy a loaf of bread. The recipe should make about four-and-a-bit pounds of dough–enough for three sandwich loaves.

Now, when you want a sandwich loaf, scoop out about a pound and a half of the dough and place in the Pullman pan; cover and allow to rise until it achieves room temperature.

Bake for thirty-five to forty minutes–until an internal temperature of 207 degrees is achieved.

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Ideally, the dough would rise right to the top and the resulting loaf would be perfectly flat, but it’s pretty amazing just as it is! And, though soft, the loaf is structured enough to allow a very thin slice–delicious toasted with a bit of peanut butter and date syrup!

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And time for a reprise of my favourite Lou Reed song, “Perfect Day”…

Oh, it’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oatmeal-Raisin Energy Bites

Today was a glorious day on Denman Island, so we loaded up the kayaks first thing and headed down to the beach for a bit of a paddle.

Of course, when you’re retired, “first thing” means about ten AM–haha!

IMG_20170702_180730.jpgWe paddled down the island for a couple of hours and were famished when we arrived home, so I made us a couple of avo-tomato-onion-lettuce-air-fried-tofu sammies on my no-knead white bread. The sandwiches were delicious, but I felt a bit guilty about the white flour business, so when James had a hankering for cookies, I decided to make a healthier version of an already healthy cookie recipe.

I had no apple sauce, so I had to use ripe mango…an adaptation I ran by my WFPB friends online since I’m not much of a baker. As I described my other adaptations to Chazz, she said, “That’s not a cookie…that’s an energy bite.”

And apparently, she’s right: as an energy bite, these are delicious; as a cookie….not so much.

I like them, however, and perhaps if I starve James of real cookies for long enough, he too will come to love them!

I’m posting the recipe here, so I can continue to make adaptations. Who knows? With enough adaptations, they might eventually find their way back to being cookies again!

Oatmeal-Raisin Energy Bites

Directions:

Throw in the Vitamix and blend until smooooooth:

  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter)
  • 6 medjool dates
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (or banana or super ripe mango)
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1 TBS ground flaxseed

Sift together:

  • 1/2 cup sprouted spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Add the mixture in the blender to the flour mixture and mix. Once it’s smooth, add…

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup pecans

Form into 24 cookies and bake at 350 for ten minutes.

I pressed them down (to fool James into thinking they were cookies), but next time, I’m going to leave them in little lumps like the energy bites they are!

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And here’s James’ honest reaction. Keep in mind he was expecting a delicious fat-and-sugar-filled cookie!

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Hahahaha!!

And the song of the day is Van Morrison’s “Coney Island” because whenever I use the word “famished,” I think of the line “Stop off at Ardglass for a couple of jars of Mussels and some potted herrings in case we get famished before dinner.” And then I think of the last verse of the song/poem, and it makes me happy because it’s a song about Morrison’s childhood and driving to Coney Island in Ireland with his mother:

I look at the side of your face as the sunlight comes
Streaming through the window in the autumn sunshine
And all the time going to Coney Island I’m thinking,
Wouldn’t it be great if it was like this all the time.

 

 

 

 

 

Turmeric Face Cream

As you may have gathered, I’m slightly obsessed with turmeric. I’ve even started growing the stuff!

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I often rub turmeric on a rough patch on my cheekbone, but it then looks like I have a bruise on my cheek (which James seems particularly freaked out by–particularly when we’re out for a walk and I’m wearing sunglasses!).

Anyway, I decided to make a face cream out of the fresh stuff because I noticed that when I throw a chunk of turmeric in my morning smoothie, I wake up without a red, blotchy face. And I have SUPER sensitive skin–for example, if the shower spray is too strong, I get red streaks all over my chest from the spray–so my face is often blotchy.

Anyway, I figured I’d try a topical face cream with fresh, as opposed to dry, turmeric, and it makes a lovely cream that’s very effective in eliminating blotchiness! The advantage of using fresh turmeric is that it doesn’t stain (in this particular potion). The cream is a lovely light yellow and the colour doesn’t transfer.

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Stamp Out the Reds! Face Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 small, unpeeled chunk of organic turmeric
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 1 TBS castor oil
  • 5 drops tea tree oil

Directions:

Blend together in the magic bullet. Place in freezer until solid. Apply to face every night and wake up with a face clear of redness!

As I mentioned, in the morning, my face is normally pretty red and blotchy, but this picture was this morning after sleeping with a slathering of the turmeric cream on my face. I actually have WAY more wrinkles than are evident in this picture, so I’m not sure if my phone is set to iron-out-the-wrinkles setting (I don’t normally take selfies, so I’m not sure) or the bathroom light was just good–hahaha!

BUT, as for the blotchiness, the only red on my face is the mark from my reading glasses because I was reading the paper before I took the pic. AND I KNOW, RIGHT? That’s how easily my face blotches–a couple of minutes wearing reading glasses and I have two red marks on my face!!

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A New Healthy No-Knead Loaf: Sprouted Spelt, Whole Wheat, Oat, Quinoa, Sunflower Seed Bread

I know, I know….I JUST posted a healthy bread!! THAT was a seed-nut bread though! This is a healthy sandwich bread!

I adapted the bread from a recipe I found online that called for 1/3 whole-wheat flour and 2/3 white flour–I thought I’d try a mix of 1/3 whole wheat, 1/3 sprouted spelt, and 1/3 white. I also added a bit of vital wheat gluten because of using the lower protein flours and adding the seeds, quinoa, and oats.

This recipe makes about four pounds of dough. Keep it in a jug in the fridge and tear off chunks as needed. A one-pound chunk makes a nice baguette; a one-and-a-half pound chunk makes a nice boule for making sandwiches.

Mix together…

  • 3.25 cups warm water
  • 1 TBS yeast
  • 1 TBS sea salt
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

Leave for half an hour. Next add…

  • 2 cups sprouted spelt flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

Mix until no dry flour appears and put in a large jug.

The dough will be shaggy, but nowhere near as shaggy as the no-knead white loaf.

Leave on the counter until the dough has risen to the top of the jug. Place in the fridge until you fancy a loaf of bread.

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To make a loaf, tear off a baguette or boule-sized hunk of dough (about a pound) and shape loaf.

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Let the loaf sit on the oven while it heats up to 450 degrees. It’s ideal if it achieves room temperature.

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Pop the loaf in the oven and pour a glass of water into a roasting pan beneath the loaf.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Once the bread achieves an internal temperature of 207 degrees, it’s done! You’ll notice that the vital wheat gluten creates a VERY structured bread–in fact, I shaped the loaf like a softball assuming it would flatten down a bit. It did not! It’s a vibrant little loaf though! Quite dense, but a nice complex flavour and a perfect crust. The nuts, quinoa, and oats are not discernible within the bread at all, though you can see a few quinoa grains on the crust.

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Here’s a good video on the technique (though the recipe is different):

If you want a softer crust for sandwiches, bake in cast-iron enamel-covered covered casserole dish for 30 – 40 minutes.

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And look at the amazing sammies this toasted bread makes!!!

And the song of the day is Don McLean’s “And I Love You So” because James was just playing it (and I love it when he plays that song!). We arrived back from dinner at The Thatch with Bid and Paul and James sat and played his guitar for a good hour and a half! The poor man will have blistered fingers!

Vegan Reuben Sandwich

Last weekend, on my way to Vancouver, I travelled to Victoria to hang out with my imaginary friends, Chazz and Frances, and to meet up with some fellow plant-eaters from the Clean Food, Dirty Girl Facebook group for lunch on Sunday.

We had a great meal at Rebar, where I ordered a tempeh Reuben sandwich.

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And I’ve been thinking about that delicious sandwich ever since. Today, I decided to make my own vegan Reuben sammie!

Now, a classic Reuben is corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye, so the only actual resemblance my sandwich has to a classic Reuben is my homemade sauerkraut!

I had no rye flour, so I made a loaf of my no-knead bread in a covered casserole to get a nice soft crust:Screen Shot 2018-07-12 at 7.08.14 PM

I marinated the tempeh in my universal marinade and baked it.

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I made this vegan thousand island dressing and pulled out a jar of my homemade sauerkraut.

Next, I assembled that sucker!

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And served it up with the first corn of the summer–compliments of Bid and Paul, who brought it over from Hornby Island last evening!

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A perfect meal for a hot July Saturday evening!!

 

 

 

 

Super Healthy Seed-Nut Bread!!

I’ve been looking for a healthy, filling bread to eat with soup or a fruit salad and today I stumbled upon just the thing in this post from mynewroots.org. I was a teensy bit worried because I once made the seed bread from The Happy Pear and it was so dreadful I had to bin it!

This one turned out brilliantly! I made a few adjustments in terms of ingredients and prep, so I give you my revised version here!

Super Healthy Seed-Nut Bread

Mix together:

  • 2 TBS chia seeds
  • 3 TBS psyllium husk powder
  • 3 TBS almond milk
  • 1 TBS date syrup
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Add:

  • 1 ½ cups boiling water

Let sit for a minute or two until the mixture becomes gelatinous. Next, add:

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (or other seeds)
  • ½ cup flax seeds
  • ½ cup almonds (or other nuts)
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats (or flaked quinoa)

Mix VERY well, and pour into a loaf pan. Let sit for an hour or so. It should feel super solid by the time you put it in the oven–almost like it’s already been baked!

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Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30 – 40 minutes until it achieves an internal temperature of 207.

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Wait until it cools to slice it.

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I tried my first slice with roasted garlic spread on top–yummy!!

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I tried my second slice with roasted-garlic hummus and kalamata olives–SUPER yummy!!

This bread is quite dense and with the oats, nuts, and seeds, will keep you full for a long time. Two slices will cost you seven WW points–a bit high, I know.

However, a couple of slices with a zero-point fruit salad for breakfast OR a couple of slices topped with roasted garlic or zero-point hummus for lunch with a bowl of zero-point lentil soup and you’ll be full for hours.

Oh, and speaking of roasted garlic, I roasted a huge batch of bulbs yesterday and am keeping them in a big jar in the fridge. I used two full bulbs in a batch of hummus yesterday and it was DELICIOUS!!

All you do is cut the tips off a bunch of garlic bulbs and place them face down for about 40 minutes at 375.