My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So Cool (Totally) Spaghetti Squash


Since it's the last day of November and the final day of Vegan MoFo, I wanted to squeeze in this final food post, with its Fall decor, before the calendar turns to December! (Not that I never plan to share more food posts in the future - there were several I'd intended to post this month that I didn't get to, like my other two sandwich salad recipes and BW's homemade pizza. This is why I didn't officially participate in Vegan MoFo! As a blogger, I'm totally unreliable). :-)

And so is my ISP, which has been down since 1:30 this afternoon. I was beginning to think I wouldn't get to squeeze this in today at all! But I'm up and running now, so here's my little homage to spaghetti squash, which I think is such a fun dish I seriously have to wonder why I don't make it more often!

Last week I had some leftover pasta sauce from our dinner the night before, so I cut a small spaghetti squash in half, scooped out the seeds, and baked it at 350ºF in a shallow glass baking dish for about 30 minutes on each side (starting with the flesh side down, skin side up) till the skin was tender. After a few minutes when it had cooled enough to handle, I scraped the slightly crispy, slightly sweet, pasta-like flesh out with a fork, put my reheated sauce on it, sprinkled a little nooch on top and voilá...


While spaghetti squash is usually served like, well, spaghetti, here are a few other ways to enjoy it...




And here's a closer look at the adorable card by my plate of squash...


My generous and thoughtful friend Rose (who had the most awesome Vegan MoFo posts with her Random Road Trip, which you really must check out if you missed it) sent it to me along with a gift of adorable recipe cards last month, all the terribly cute creations of Michelle at My Zoetrope. I've had this card displayed on our dining room table since it arrived in mid-October and packed it away with my fall decorations today to enjoy again next year. Not only are the colors festive and the illustration charming, who doesn't love to be told they're "so cool, totally" and "'ed" several times a day? :-)

Rose, you are so cool, totally too, bless your ! (And I'll be making that vegan pot roast recipe you included with the card very soon!) :-) xoxo

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Punky Then and Now


Some of you will remember Punky (Cutest Fawn Ever!) from this photo I
posted last December...

That's a piece of carrot on Punky's chin :-)

Back then I wasn't sure if baby Punky was male or female, but because of Punky's very bold and feisty personality, I referred to "him" as a "he."

Well, here we are a year later and Punky's just as bold and feisty as ever, but now we know she's a bold and feisty doe! (So I've corrected those hims to hers in my older previous posts!) Still outrageously adorable too (though not yet as fluffy), as you can see for yourself from these photos I just took of her an hour ago while she munched alfalfa cookies on our patio...

I just love her little smirking lips in this one. :-)


Friday, November 26, 2010

Feastapalooza

I think I've finally come out of my gluttony-induced coma enough to post something about our Thanksgiving. :-)

Our neighbors Dave and Vistara invited us and our other neighbor Jenny (Octavio's mom) to join them for a vegan Thanksgiving feast. (Jenny's husband Steve had to be in California, or we'd have numbered a half dozen. Who'd guess that many vegans would be living in close proximity on a Wyoming mountainside? Just goes to show!) :-)

We brought the pumpkin pie (recipe below), cranberry sauce, and a bottle of Girasole Cabernet Sauvignon while Jenny brought organic salad and a bottle of organic Bordeaux wine whose long French name escapes me. Dave and Vistara provided the rest of the banquet: the vegan roast ~ a delicacy Dave created years ago and calls "Turkey Liberation Loaf" ~ mashed potatoes, delicious dressing, yams, and rich, savory gravy that Vistara makes from toasted sunflower seeds.

Vistara's delectable Harvest Stuffing 

Everything was delicious (and we ate waaaay too much of it all), and the table was beautiful, set out in their new sunroom with fresh pine boughs and candlelight. Too bad my camera froze up before I could photograph everything! (When I got home and consulted the trouble-shooting guide I was able to get it working again, but was unable to capture most of our evening on film!)

But at least I'd managed to get the photo of the dressing as well as this adorable one of Dave and Vistara!

Dave's looking suspiciously impish!

And just as critically, I also got Dave's recipe for the main entrée...

Dave's Turkey Liberation Loaf


Ingredients:

2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and drained
2 TBSP oil, veg broth or water (for sautéing)
1 TBSP sea salt
1 tsp oregano
2 1/2 cups finely chopped nuts (1/2 sunflower seeds and 1/2 walnuts or almonds)
2 quarts water
6 stalks organic celery, minced
1 tsp thyme
2 cups rolled oats, toasted

Directions:

Bring water to boil. Add washed lentils and simmer till tender, about 40 minutes. Fry celery and seasonings in oil, broth or water over low heat 15-30 minutes, being careful not to scorch. Mix all ingredients together and pat into 2 oiled loaf pans.

Bake at 375ºF for at least 1 hour.




Mom's Boo-Boo Dressing

We were still so full from yesterday's overindulgence that we scrapped our plans to make our own full-blown vegan Thanksgiving dinner today (what were we thinking?!) But I did make one component of it ~ my mom's boo-boo dressing.

Cooking, especially for company, has always unnerved my mother. The first time she cooked Thanksgiving dinner for guests, in her high-strung state she completely misread the recipe and instead of adding a teaspoon each of sage, thyme and marjoram OR a tablespoon of poultry seasoning, she added a tablespoon of all of them! The result was the best dressing ever, and it's how she (and now I) made it thereafter, but on purpose! :-)

Mom's recipe called for a cup of melted margarine (yikes), which I substitute with this homemade vegan "chicken" broth to which I add 3/4 cup of nutritional yeast flakes and about 2 TBSP of onion powder. (Mix 1 rounded teaspoon of the mix per cup of hot water for broth).



Ingredients:

12 cups (3 quarts) dried bread crumbs
1 1/2 - 2 cups vegetarian "chicken" broth
3/4 cup finely minced onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 TBSP dried sage
1 TBSP dried thyme
1 TBSP dried marjoram
1 TBSP prairie seasoning (my name for poultry seasoning)


Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.

Put the bread crumbs in a very large bowl (or two large bowls).

Heat broth in a non-stick skillet over low-medium heat, then add minced onion and chopped celery and cook till onion is soft/translucent, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in the seasonings. Add a few bread crumbs and stir again, then pour the seasoned broth mixture over the bowl of bread crumbs and mix well. Add additional broth or enough hot water to moisten.
Bake in a covered baking dish at 350º for 1 hour.



Laloofah's Pumpkin Pie
(Inspired by a recipe from the original edition of Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler)

This is the pie I brought to Dave and Vistara's. It's always a hit at autumn parties and potlucks, and is best when you make it the day before and chill it overnight. The blackstrap molasses gives it a deep color and rich flavor, and the graham-cracker crust really sets it apart...



Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Ingredients:

One unbaked 9-inch graham cracker crust*
3/4 lb firm organic tofu (I use Nasoya)
2 cups pumpkin
1 rounded cup of sucanat
2 TBSP organic unsweetened applesauce
2 TBSP blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice

Directions:

Have the unbaked pie crust ready.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy, and spoon the mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Bake for 1 hour, or until small cracks start to appear in the filling.

Cool, chill until set (at least two hours, overnight is best) and serve.

* I use FatFree Vegan's Oatmeal Cookie Crust recipe, subbing sucanat for the brown sugar and adding 1/2 TBSP agave nectar.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Thanksgiving Tribute

The handsome fellow with me in this photo is the late Octavio, a hybrid turkey cared for since his "chickdom" by our vegan neighbors Steve and Jenny.

Many wild turkeys live around us and we see and hear them often, all year long, in flocks large and small as they wander the mountain meadows and our pasture, roost in the nearby Ponderosa pines, and occasionally strut haughtily up our driveway. The girls usually chatter quietly among themselves, while the boys like to puff themselves up and gobble in unison in reply to each rumble of summertime thunder. :-) (You can see and hear some of our wild turkey friends on last year's Thanksgiving post).

But the local wild turkeys who'd wander up to Steve and Jenny's place never accepted Octavio, a contented homebody who didn't like to venture far from Steve and Jenny's lovely property and loving care. He had their shady deck to sit on during hot summer days and their warm barn to stay snug in during the cold winter ones. He had their neighboring fields, and a pond in a small grove of trees, and his friend Chief (Steve and Jenny's gentle old dog) to keep him company.

And whenever he had the opportunity, he'd hang out with me. The photo was taken the day Octavio and I met, at one of Steve and Jenny's annual Labor Day weekend "Chokecherry Festivals" several years ago. Octavio, it seems, was instantly smitten. From the moment he spied me at the party he followed me everywhere, and whenever I'd show up at Steve and Jenny's after that, Octavio would come running and shadow me the entire time I was there. (Frankly, I think it was that shirt I was wearing when he first saw me that won his heart - along with the brightly colored embroidery, it had little mirrors on the trim. And I also always wore a silver ankle bracelet he was particularly keen on!) After following me around, when I'd sit down or stand still he'd settle at - or on - my feet and gently pluck at that ankle bracelet while telling me what was on his mind. His head and neck would turn from red to blue (like in the photo), which according to Steve and Jenny meant he was in courtship mode, so they laughingly referred to me as "his girlfriend." :-)

Octavio disappeared one summer night from his usual roosting spot by the porch, and Steve and Jenny think a fox may have gotten him. I prefer to think that Octavio finally met a wild turkey hen who made him forget all about me (men can be so fickle!), and ran off with her. :-) I miss sweet, silly, affectionate Octavio, and dedicate this Thanksgiving post to him, and to all the turkeys (and other non-human animals) whose point of view is so rarely considered.

Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless
Christmas dinner's dark and blue
When you stop and try to see it
From the turkey's point of view.

Sunday dinner isn't sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
When you see it from the viewpoint
Of a chicken or a duck.

Oh how I once loved tuna salad
Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too
Till I stopped and looked at dinner
From the dinner's point of view.

~Shel Silverstein
Where The Sidewalk Ends

Wishing everyone a very safe, peaceful and


Monday, November 22, 2010

Spider Art


We've been having several days of bitterly cold temps (subzero to single digits) along with freezing fog and snow. The frozen moisture in the air has coated everything with thick hoarfrost, a pretty phenomenon we're used to seeing in January or February, but not in November! But maybe it's fitting that midway between Halloween and Christmas we're getting to admire several flocked spiderwebs. :-)                                 


Here are some of the pretty results of this artistic collaboration between Charlotte (weaver) and Jack Frost (painter)...


(Click on the photos to better see the details)

Several spiderwebs under our deck

Closeup of part of the above photo (this one's my favorite)

A web I hadn't even realized was outside this north window!
(Sneaky, busy little spider!)


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cranberry Goodies


I love this time of year when the cranberries come out to play!



Umm, no... not those Cranberries, these cranberries! :-)


These are two of our favorite cranberry-intensive recipes, delightful any time cranberries can be found but especially festive for the upcoming holidays...


Maple Cranberry Sauce
from my friend Joanne, aka AdventureJo! :-)

Ingredients:

~ 12 ounces fresh cranberries
~ 1 cup maple syrup (or less, to taste - see notes)
~ 1 cup cran-raspberry juice (see notes)
~ Zest of one organic orange
~ 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (or less, see notes)
~ 1/4 tsp salt (optional)

Directions:

Bring all ingredients except nuts to a boil.
Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Skim off foam. Stir in chopped nuts.
Chill and serve.

Jo's Notes: I think this would be fine with any juice that would taste good with cranberries, like orange or apple.

My Notes: When lacking fresh organic oranges for the zest, we've used 1 tsp dried organic orange peel and a very scant 1/8 tsp of orange oil.

We use Shmooed Food's recipe for homemade maple syrup (subbing 1/2 sucanat and 1/2 demerara sugar for the brown sugar), and reduce the amount of maple syrup in this recipe to 3/4 cup as we prefer our cranberry sauce on the tart side.

We reduce the amount of chopped walnuts to 1/3 - 1/2 cup.

A recent discovery: adding 1/4 tsp of salt to this recipe really makes the flavors pop!

We love the combination of organic cranberry juice (or cranberry juice blend) and orange juice in this (1/2 cup of each), and always include the juice from the zested orange.

We let our sauce cook for 15 minutes due to our high altitude.

By stirring the sauce frequently while it's cooking, you won't need to skim any foam.

This is delicious served over ripe pear chunks! (Thanks for that idea, Rose!)

••••••••••••••••


Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
by Jill Nussinow (and
shared with her kind permission)

Ingredients:

1 organic orange
1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
2-3 TBSP (or more) maple syrup
1 medium ripe pear

Directions:

Wash orange well and cut into quarters.
Combine cranberries, orange, pear and maple syrup in food processor. Process until mixture is still chunky.
If not sweet enough for you, add more maple syrup.
Make ahead and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 2 cups.
Note: You can use sugar or Sucanat instead of maple syrup, if you prefer.

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • INFERNO ~ Dan Brown
  • MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD & EVIL ~ John Berendt
  • MY NOTORIOUS LIFE: A NOVEL ~ Kate Manning
  • ONE SUMMER: AMERICA, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson
  • QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING ~ Susan Cain
  • THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL ~ Daniel Stashower
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY ~ Erik Larson
  • THE SHADOWS, KITH AND KIN ~ Joe R. Lansdale
  • THE TIPPING POINT ~ Malcolm Gladwell
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"