Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Temporarily Out of Service

I think it was a good thing I listed so many great places to visit in the last Favorites Friday because I am temporarily unable to get fresh posts up.  All the pictures for the yummy recipes I was going to share are currently stuck on my computer which is having technical difficulties.  I've borrowed my husband's in the mean time for other things and he is working on a solution. 

So please enjoy all the links and if you are looking for some great blogsto keep you busy just go to my blogger profile and check out some of  the many blogs I follow.  

Be sure to check back often though, because I'm hoping to get this fixed ASAP!

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Favorites Friday Time!

It's Favorites Friday time!   I hope everyone enjoys all these links - I did!

There were a couple could articles this week on Food Issues.  Mixed Greens Blog wrote a thought provoking post on what leads us to change the way we view our food in Carbon 101 Foodprints.  I think this is a great post that shows how we are each on our own paths to figuring out our relationships with food and that we will each be challenged towards change if we allow ourselves to be and what provokes that change may be different for each person.

Over at MNN (Mother Nature Network) there was an article about potential foods we could lose due to monoculture, genetic modification and industrial agriculture.  I really enjoyed the bits of history they provided about where mass outbreaks have happened before with disastrous results, like the potato famine.  To me this brought home, even more, the importance of avoiding and hopefully eventually banning GMOs as well as supporting local small agriculture with an emphasis on diversity of both crops and varietals.

I loved the post that The Daily Raw Cafe wrote to her Aunt Gigi and the marinated collards recipe that went with it.

For a delicious sounding vegetarian mexican food fix check out Oven Aversions' Mole Burrito with Guacamole  This sounded so delicious and she had a good point about products that seem to be one thing but turn out to be another.  By the way, I only recently discovered this blog, but I'm really enjoying it so far.  You should definitely check it out.

Live Green Mom decided to make her own chocolate syrup and it sounds yummy!

Seitan is my Motor had a delicious sounding Carrot Coconut Soup.

Rawmazing did it again.  The recipes on this blog never fail to inspire me to eat more raw goodies.  Just check out the recipe for Cinnamon Raisin "Toast"

BitterSweet had a recipe for Adzuki Bean Gyoza - Little Bundles of Joy, Indeed!

Here's a source for coupons for natural and organic products - eat and live sustainably and save a little money in the process!

Julia and Julia goes Vegan?  Oh yeah!  Check out A to Z Blogging of Conscious Cook and Vegan Table.  I'm looking forward to following Pink Vegan's progress.

So simple and so delicious made with three of my favorite things - mushrooms, asparagus and tempeh. See what Vegan Minded Blog wrote about here.  Yum!

Last, but not least I came across something fun over at Dinner at Christina's where everyone gets together and shares their "firsts" in the culinary world from that week.  It's called Friday Firsts and she explains how it came about here.  Go check it out and share a first!

Well, I hope that keeps everyone busy over the weekend.  I also hope everyone enjoyed my recipes from this week and the story of how I met my husband.  I really will have to share my stories sometime about all the gourmet dinners I've had while out in the wilderness, especially the one where we had home cooked southern food in a snow cave during a blizzard.  It's a good one.

Coming soon to Rutabagas and Other Adventures:
  • Zucchini, Carrots and Broccoli Two Ways
  • A cookbook review - Vegan Brunch
  • Fennel and Grapefruit Salad
and much much more...

Question:  What has inspired you to change your ways of looking at food and how you eat?

Now I'm off to spend the weekend enjoying the spring weather:

 Reading through my new Vegetarian Times Magazine:

And dreaming up recipes for all the lovely produce in this weeks CSA from Full Circle Farm.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vegetarian Reubens and Romance

I met my husband in the woods.

You see, there was a backpacking trip where I knew a bunch of the people and he knew a bunch of the people and all those people met up at a trail head in Olympic National Park on October 20th, 2000.  I was pulling my gear out of a friends car when a big red truck pulls up with the famous (infamous?) SARboy.  That's short for Search And Rescue and that was his trail name at the time.

I was told that upon seeing me he said to his fellow passenger, "Man, she's cute - too bad she's taken."

That's me with the monster pack!

Yep, I was not single.  Was not looking.  So that this all happened was a bit of a shock.  What happened?  I'm getting to that.  We donned our enormous backpacks (Did I mention this was to be a gourmet backpacking trip?  Someday I'll have to share the menu and recipes.) and headed up the trail.

Switch back after switchback after switchback.  Eventually it was noticed that someone had fallen far behind, it was their first time on the trail since they had gotten out of the army and that was a couple decades earlier.  A bunch of folks decided to wait for them while myself and one other girl headed on to secure the campsite.  We had gotten about a half mile or so shy of the campsite when my companion went down.  She had slipped on a root that had made a step in the trail and had come down on her ankle at a wonky angle with her full weight and the 75 pounds or so she was carrying. (I told you, heavy packs!)  So we dropped her pack and I assisted her along at a hobble till we got to camp.  Eventually everyone else showed up along with the dropped pack and went about setting up camp while I and SARboy took a look at the injured girls ankle.  You see, we were the two with medical training on the trip and so were thrown together to care for (or torture if you asked her) the injured party.  First thing was to get that ankle into the icy cold creek and set up people to make sure it stayed there.  For some reason it kept popping back out of the water seemingly of its own accord.

It became obvious to me that there was a fracture along with the severe sprain so once it was thoroughly iced I slathered a bunch of herbal salve (a slimy green murky looking thing that works wonders) onto the ankle and we got it wrapped up nice and sturdy.

The injured party decided to stay for the remainder of the trip and just keep off the foot and keep it elevated and gripe at us when we insisted it go back into the icy water.  And so SARboy and Trail Artist (yep that was my trail name at the time, I had a way of making art out of random objects along the trail) were thrown together for better or for worse.

We worked well together with little or no effort and ended up falling hard.  (Yes, there is way more to this story - but this is a food blog so I will be moving along now -maybe I'll tell more on This Northwest Life at some point - like how Mark almost caused me to break my own ankle on the way out or how he had threatened I would have to marry him if I asked him to hold my coffee mug one more time.)

It took us a few weeks of talking online and on the phone to figure it all out.  Then came the very painful part, for me, of ending a 6+ year partnership with an awesome guy and one of my best friends.  Not fun, not easy.

Eventually Mark and I agreed to meet up again for a snowshoe backpack trip near Mount Hood.  We had a blast.

When we came off the trail we had our first meal out together at a local McMenamins.  We knew it was meant to be when we both ordered Reubens and Beer.  Reubens are one of my husband's favorite things and those two things put together were why I chose a form of Reuben as the special meal for my husband of 9+ years.  (Yes, we were married 3 months to the day after meeting.  Go figure.)

Now that we have a more vegetarian bent on our eating we didn't want regular old reubens and I had seen several references to Vegan and Vegetarian Reubens.  The ones that intrigued me most were those using tempeh.  None of the recipes seemed quite right, so we winged it, as usual and ended up with a delectable, rich and amazingly messy Tempeh Reuben.  It rocked!

Here's the recipe.  The marinade was adapted from an adapted  Vegetarian Times Recipe.

Vegetarian Reubens

8 oz package tempeh, I used multi-grain, sliced in half and then down the middle to make it thinner.

The marinade:

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Marinade the tempeh for several hours to overnight.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.


3 Tablespoons mayo*
3 Tablespoons ketchup
3 Tablespoons chopped dill pickle

Combine the above and set aside.

To put the reubens together:

Slather the dressing on 2 slices of really good artisan bread - rye or a multi-grain, or a sourdough.  Layer slices of tempeh on two of the pieces of bread,spoon a little of the marinade sauce over it, top with a slice or two of swiss cheese* and a goodly pile of sauerkraut.  Put the other side of the bread on top of that.  Repeat for sandwich number two.

Heat a griddle or skillet lightly coated with oil over medium heat and grill the sandwiches on both sides till lightly browned.

Serve with a juicy dill pickle and big cloth napkins.

*This could easily be vegan by using veganaise in place of regular mayo and using a vegan swiss cheese or other vegan cheese option.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chickpea and Sun-dried Tomato Stew

Another simple recipe to warm your bellies.  This one I copied from a friend several years back and have since altered it here and there.  It's one that after making it we often ask ourselves why we don't make it more often.

Chickpea and Sun-dried Tomato Stew

1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 Tablespoon oil
3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped into pieces
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
dash cayenne
dash black pepper
3 cups vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar 
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons Tahini
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Saute the onion, garlic and carrots in the oil over medium heat, till onion is soft.  Add the everything else except the tahini and parsley.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Blend 1/2 the soup in a blender with the tahini until smooth.  Return to the pot and stir in the parsley.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mostly Raw Almond and Coconut Macaroons

Inspired by all of Averie's delicious sounding raw cookie balls and made up on a whim when I was needing a little somethin'.

Mostly Raw Almond and Coconut Macaroons - Makes 1 Dozen

3/4 flaked oats
3/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup agave
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 Tablespoons almond meal/flour
2 Tablespoons rice milk or other non-dairy milk
Splash of vanilla

Put the oats in a food processor and process for 15-20 seconds.  Add all the other ingredients and process till a dough comes together.  Gather the dough up in tablespoon portions and roll in your hands to make small balls.

So simple!

So yummy!

So Pretty!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Tacos with Chipotle Cream

These are one our favorite quick week night dinners.  It's simple.  It's delicious.

1 large Sweet Potato or Yam, peeled and diced
oil to coat the above
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
2 tablespoons sour cream or vegan alternative
1 tablespoon plain yogurt, dairy or vegan
1 heaping teaspoon chipotle puree*
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
corn tortillas

Place the oil coated, diced sweet potato in a roasting pan and roast at 375 till tender - 20-25 minutes.

In the mean time blend the sour cream, yogurt, chipotle puree and lime juice in a small bowl.

When the sweet potatoes are done, warm the corn tortillas.  In each tortilla put a little of the sweet potato and avocado and drizzle the chipotle cream over the top.

Eat and Enjoy!

* Chipotle puree can be made by taking one can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce and pureeing in a blender or food processor.  Place in a jar and store in the refrigerator to have on hand for all things chipotle.  It will keep for several months.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chocolate Infused Favorites Friday

I can't believe it's Friday again already!  This week has just flown by.  I've been very busy reading about all sorts of yummy food related things, and there seems to be a theme this week - chocolate.  Chocolate seems to be on everyone's mind and their blogs.  Hmmm, perhaps it has something to do with that holiday coming up this weekend?

I'll go along with the chocolate theme for this weeks Favorites Friday and make everyone happy by pushing the chocolate craze just a little further along.

If your looking for chocolate recipes then check out these posts:

Over at Mixed Greens Blog  you'll find a recipe for Chocolate Pudding featuring one of my favorite chocolate companies, from right here in Seattle - Theo Chocolate -  

Vegan Crunk revisits a memorable dessert from Millennium Restaurant in San Fransisco and tries her hand at recreating it.  The results sound delicious.  Check out the recipe for her take on the Chocolate Almond Midnight Torte.

Love Veggies and Yoga has several options for chocolate fans.  There's the delectable looking Vegan Fudge, the beautiful (they look like something done by a professional chocolatier) White Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and one of my all time favorites desserts - Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

I tried out Chocolate Covered Katie's 5-minute Chocolate Mousse recently.  It turned out pretty tasty. (It must have been, I think we managed to gobble it all up before getting any pictures!) It was way richer than I thought it would be.  I'm eager to try different brands of tofu as the base after reading that some are better for this kind of thing.  I also thought it would make a decent raw-like icing for something too so I'll be searching for a raw dessert, maybe with strawberries to try that out.

With all those delicious chocolate possibilities I only ask that you use only fair trade, slavery free chocolate.  If you don't already know about the the slavery issues related to chocolate, you can learn more about it here.  Fair trade is the way to go!

Now, I'm going to be sacrilege and share something completely different for any other lemonphiles out there who would rather serve up a sweet-tart luscious lemon-filled delight.

What is a lemonphile?
lemon - a tart citrus fruit, usually yellow in color
phile - one who loves, likes or is attracted to

Put them together and what do you have?  A lover of all things lemon!  If that's you, then definately check this out this humorous post from The Daily Raw Cafe and the recipe for her Lemon Coconut Pie.

Or maybe you just want a little spice in your life?  How about these Raw Cinnamon Rolls from Rawmazing.  These are on my to-do list!

I hope those links will keep you busy and inspired to spend some time in the kitchen this weekend!

Coming soon to Rutabegas and Other Adventures:

  • Sweet Potato Tacos with Chipotle Cream
  • Chickpea and Sun-dried Tomato Stew
  • Fennel and Grapefruit Salad
  • Vegetarian Reubens and Why a Reuben is Special Enough for Valentine's Day (I might even share the story of how I met my husband, it's a good one!)
  • A Cookbook Review - Vegan Brunch
  • First Ever "Meet Your Food Monday"
And so much more...

My question for anyone who might like to answer it:
Do you have foods or meals that are connected to special memories in your life?  What are they and the memories that make them special?

Have a great weekend and Valentine's Day, everyone!  Till next week, happy cooking!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Garlic and Kale Soup and Intuitive Cooking

I mentioned last week that I was still working through many of the recipes from the current issue of Vegetarian Times and that one recipe I hoped to make was the Garlic and Kale Soup.  Well, I finally got around to it and switched it up a bit based on what I had on hand in the house.  This recipe proved versatile enough to stand up to my altering it and that is a good quality in a recipe in my book.

I didn't originally learn to cook from recipes, just like I didn't learn to sew from patterns.  My mom was both a master seamstress and a master innovator in the kitchen.  She had to be.  Sewing is what made the money to put the food on the table and the food was rarely purchased based on a recipe - that would have proved to prohibitive in cost.  Like many others who didn't have such luxuries she shopped according to what was lower priced that week with an occasional splurge for something special.  Even the few recipes she actually referred to were altered often to make due with what was on hand.  This wasn't to say she didn't have very many cookbooks.  Far from it.  If you had seen my mother's house and then mine shortly after she passed away you would see the irony in her being a woman who rarely followed a recipe. Cookbooks were a hobby of my mothers.  Some people collect stamps, art and trinkets.  My mother collected cookbooks.  One of her favorite past times was to stop by a local second hand store and peruse the new cookbooks that had come in, often coming home with half a dozen at a time.  New, old, obscure and occasionally popular cookbooks of the day.  She would sit at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and read cookbooks like others read novels.  If you happened to be nearby she would share what she was reading when something caught her eye or her taste buds, rather.  I have picked up on this habit myself.  Just ask my husband and look around at the piles of cookbooks I've brought home from the library.

I, at times have had the luxury to cook from recipes and at other times struggled to eat organic and chemical free while relying primarily on a food bank.  What I learned from my mom was indespensible during those times and gave me the creativity to cook outside the box at others.  I learned to use my senses and my creativity to pull meals together inside my mind - testing flavors in my head while looking at ingredients in the pantry and refrigerator, while walking down the rows of stalls at a local farmers market, when seeing what came in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share or what was available from the local food bank.  It has become second nature for me to rarely follow a recipe precisely.  While talking to others I have found that this is a rare quality among the general population of the United States.  Most have barely learned to cook, having grown up on take out and boxed foods.  Intuitive cooking is a lost art for many of the people in the US today.  Thankfully there are food movements and food has been the "in thing" for a while, so I have hope that will change.

Of course among those writing food blogs it may not be rare at all.  There are a lot of creative cooks out there.  I only wish that could be said for the rest of America - that ability is one that would help many people eat healthier and have an all around better relationship with what fuels them.  I would love to see programs at local food banks and farmers markets that reach out to people and share those skills.  I would love to see chefs and home cooks and food lovers everywhere reach out to bring a good chunk of our society into a healthier relationship with food.  If there were free to inexpensive cooking classes that taught how to prepare meals based on what came in a particular CSA box, less people would be daunted by the thought of signing up for a local CSA.  More people would be supporting local farmers and the main course would be based on fresh vegetables instead of a slab of meat.  People would be healthier and hopefully happier.

All that said, I'll share the actual recipe for the Garlic and Kale Soup from Vegetarian Times and then share how I altered it and give a few other ideas how this recipe could be altered to accommodate more pantries, more budgets and thus more people.

Garlic and Kale Soup - Vegetarian Times

1/2 cup wheat berries
2 Tbs. olive oil
3.5 oz shitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (1 cup)
10 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bunch kale (10 oz), stemmed and coarsely chopped

1.  Soak wheat berries in a large bowl of cold water overnight.
2.  Heat the oil in a 2-qt saucepan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, and season with salt, if desired.  Saute mushrooms 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown.  Add garlic, and saute 2 minutes more.  Stir in vinegar; simmer until vinegar is almost evaporated, stirring to scrape up browned bits from the pan.
3.  Drain wheat berries, and add to mushroom mixture with vegetable broth and 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes.  Add Kale, cook 10-20 minutes more, or until kale is tender.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

  • I used spelt berried in place of wheat berries.  Most kinds of whole grain would work.  Even precooked, left over grains could be added towards the end of the process to simply warm through.  Try barley, brown or wild rice, quinoa and so on.  Some would not need to be pre-soaked and you may need to adjust the cooking times.  You can find cooking times for grains online by doing a search or some basic cookbooks will have a reference chart in them.
  • Fresh shitake mushrooms can be expensive, for instance the organic ones I purchased for this dish were close to $15 a pound.  It was my splurge that week.  But that would not always be possible.  You could use dried shitake, re-hydrated and the extra liquid squeezed out of them before sauteing or you could just skip sauteing the mushrooms and add them at the time of the broth.  If need be use less expensive regular mushrooms, the flavor will be different but the soup would still be good. 
  • I didn't have any broth on hand, since I have had to make my own broth now to avoid some potential irritant ingredients in even the organic broths available.  Making home made broth was still on my list of things to get done.  So I used some barley miso paste at half strength to make a broth base.  I dissolved the miso in the water in a separate pan and then added the warm broth to the recipe when the time came.  So my soup became Miso, Garlic and Kale Soup and it was yummy.  Any kind of broth or low to no salt bullion would do.  If you used dried mushrooms, the broth from re-hydrating them would be perfect.  If none of those are possible use water, salt and an herb like parsley (fresh or dried) if you have it to give the broth flavor.  The garlic and mushrooms do a lot for the broth on their own.
  • I happened to use kale for this soup, but ANY leafy green will work like chard, spinach or collards.  If you don't mind a slightly spicier flavor to the soup you could try mustard greens or arugula.
Obviously altering this recipe is pretty straight forward and not all recipes would be as simple.  But I hope this will inspire just a little creativity, just a little - it's a start, anyway.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cookie Monster Goes Raw

There are a total of six cookie monsters in this house.  The first and foremost would be Mark - my
hollow-legged skinny pole of a husband.

(Really I DO feed him and his mother had to swear the same thing and his sister, Meri, will most likely have to say the same thing about one (or both) of our nephews - they seem to be taking after their Uncle Mark. I'll feel for Meri when she has to start feeding those boys through their teenage years!)

The next cookie monster on the list would be Ginger.  If a cookie comes out, she's quick to try and steal, beg or otherwise let it be known that she things all cookies belong to her.  She's a tortoise-shell tabby with the attitude to match her striking good looks.  She occasionally gets a cookie crumb and a reminder that she's an obligate carnivore and if she eats too much grain things get messy. (This IS a food blog so I won't get anymore detailed.)

Then comes Tigger (the loud mouth) and his sister Tipsy.  These two grey striped monsters are always on the lookout for a stray cookie or crumb or whatever they can get their nosey little whiskers into.

Now Jazz, she's a different story.  She would quickly forgo the cookie to get her pink little tongue into the glass of milk that goes with it.  This cat will drink coffee if it has milk or cream in it.  When you go to the coffee pot and start to make coffee she gets all excited and under foot because she KNOWS that the milk will soon come out of the fridge and I have been a sucker enough times to make a nuisance into a monster.  Heaven help this cat if I were to ever go Vegan!

And the sixth cookie monster?  Well, that's me.  I've been known during times of bad behavior to have a cookie or two for breakfast.  Shame on me.

Having cookies for breakfast may not be such a bad thing now that I've discovered the glories of Raw Cookies, thanks to Averie over at Love Veggies and Yoga.  That woman is always posting up the most delicious ideas and recipes and so far I've tried out the Raw Vegan Peanut Butter Protein Bars - they were good.  Then I made a version of her Raw Oatmeal Raisin Cookies which turned out way to cinnamon-y for the likes of me but they were right up my husband's alley - the guy is a cinnamon freak.  I made these with raisins as the base and learned that it would be better to soak the raisins first. I had to add water to get a workable dough.  I honestly wonder if 2 T of cinnamon is a typo*...but Mark loved them anyway.  I have to make more for him asap, I've been informed.  (I don't have a puppy-dog, but who needs one when you have a husband that is so good at puppy-dog eyes?!)

Since the first batch of cookies didn't turn out to my liking I decided to play with the recipe a bit.  Averie gives lots of options for ways to switch it up with the raw cookies.  I ended up using dates as my base, and added coconut and only a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon but more than a splash of vanilla and ooh la la I got a winner!  I LOVE these cookies.  These little cookies are packed with good for you stuff.  On my last trip to the co-op I picked up some raw chocolate nibs that are SO going into my next batch.  To top it all off, these cookies are SO easy to make - I can't wait to get one of the nephews over here to help me make a batch.  They'll learn baking from mom and grandma and un-baking from Aunt Maurie - what well rounded kids (culturally, that is) they'll be!

* Thanks to Averie for stopping by in the comments and pointing out my oops.  I had doubled the recipe - that's where I got the 2 from.  But even worse was how I read Tsp as Tablespoon.  It comes from the way my mom always wrote recipes:
Big "T" "for tablespoon and little "t" for teaspoon.
I saw the capital T and my brain said Tablespoon and ignored the rest of the letters - even after double checking!  Silly me!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super Quick Bowl of Vegis and Noodles

We have a few staple meals in our house and this is one of them.  It's quick, easy and delicious.  You can mix it up depending on what you have on hand or what is sounding good at the moment. 

1 box Rice Thread Noodles

 4-6 cups of the following vegis, cut to bite sizes
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • boc choy
  • snow or snap peas
1-2 cups dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water till rehydrated, then sliced (reserve water) or fresh sliced shitake mushrooms sauteed in a little olive oil.

1 block cubed firm tofu (optional)

Shoyu Soy Sauce
Brown Rice Vinegar
Toasted Sesame Oil
Water or reserved shitake broth

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Fill a submergible strainer or basket with the vegis and tofu, if using.  Place in the boiling water till tender but still firm.  Remove, and let drain.  Add the rice thread noodles to the boiling water, remove the pot from the heat and let set 6-8 minutes or until soft.  Drain.

In individual noodle bowls add:

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1-2 tablespoons water or reserved shitake broth

Add to this 1 cup noodles and 1-2 cups chopped vegis and some of the mushrooms. Mix well and add more of any of the sauce ingredients to taste if desired. 

The leftovers are great for lunch the next day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Vegetarian Stroganoff with Seitan

Stroganoff was a staple growing up. My mom never followed a recipe because she learned to make it alongside her mom and it was the same for me. Stroganoff is intuitive in my family. So when I started wondering what a vegetarian version of stroganoff might look like, I just winged it. At first I considered making it with lots of extra mushrooms to take the place of the beef in the traditional dish. But then I found a brand of seitan that didn't have additives that would make me sick. It was not organic, however, and that is unacceptable to me on a regular basis - so eventually I'll have to get around to making my own seitan for recipes like this.

1 package egg noodles (or egg free for a vegan version), cooked according to package directions

2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 cups sliced onion
3-4 cups sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
A couple splashes brown rice vinegar
1/2 cup water or broth
1 tablespoon Shoyu soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegan worstershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup sour cream (or sour cream alternative to make it vegan)
8 ounces seitan, sliced to thin bite sized pieces

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté till they begin to brown. Add the mushrooms and sauté about 4-5 minutes longer. Add the minced garlic and sauté a minute longer. Add the vinegar and stir well scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add the water and mix well. Add the soy sauce, worstershire sauce and black pepper. Stir well, and turn the heat down to medium low. Add the seitan. Add the sour cream. Mix well, cover and let flavors blend over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, while the pasta boils.

Serve the pasta piled with yummy stroganoff and enjoy.

Mark and I both enjoyed this a lot. My husband had a euphoric expression on his face as he ate - so I think it passed the test. We both agreed that we wanted to try it with homemade seitan and that it would be just as delicious with extra mushrooms in place of the seitan as well - just not as high in protein.  Either way there was a request to make this again which I will honor - just not as often as it might be enjoyed by my husband, because unlike him I do not have two hollow legs that can be filled repeatedly without gaining an ounce!  This is a calorie-rich meal to be served up only on occasion unless everyone in your household has my husband's metabolism!

Friday, February 5, 2010

First Ever Favorites Friday

 These are a few of my
favorite things... 

Yes, I'm starting a new feature on this blog and calling it Favorites Friday.  In these posts I'll cover a few of the recipes and foodie posts from around the web (and maybe elsewhere) that have caught my eye and that I feel deserve a mention.  This will give visitors plenty of places to visit over the weekend while I take my "away from the computer" time.  I'll tempt you to come back with several hints of what's to come over the next weeks and leave you with a question so you can share your wisdom with me.  How's that sound?  Good.  Then let's get started.  

Our first stop along the way keeps with the wise adage "Life's short, eat dessert first."  And what better blog to visit to fulfill that bit of wisdom than Chocolate Covered Katie.  She's got a reputation in this house, already.  When I was searching for where I had seen the recipe for butternut squash fries and started looking through her blog posts, my husband was sure it wasn't going to be at Chocolate Covered Katie - he had come to believe she only ever wrote about stuff meant to appease the sweet tooth monster.  He got this idea from seeing her blog titles on my Google Reader.  I proved him wrong though, because that was exactly where I found the recipe for "Butter(nut) Me Up" Squash Fries.  I have a butternut squash waiting to be transformed so I'm sure there will be more to come about that.  But that is hardly dessert and I said we were having dessert first and indeed it is at Chocolate Covered Katie that I found a recipe for something I've been wanting to try for quite some time.  A quick and vegan version of chocolate mousse.  Check out the recipe for Five-Minute Chocolate Mousse.  I'll let you know how it turns out in the next couple weeks - promise.

While perusing through the posts at The Voracious Vegan I came across a link to the Raw Epicurean.  I'm going to have to find more hours in the day just to explore this website.  It is loaded with recipes (with an ingredient Index - yeah!), interesting interviews, raw lifestyle articles and happy of happies for me an Herb of the Month section (I love all things herbs).  This months is about rose and promises to have articles, information and recipes featuring this herb.  Add to that a section of links to many more raw food blogs for me to get lost navigating through and I could be entertained for days, weeks, months, years!   Thanks to The Voracious Vegan for the link!

Moving along now to Love Veggies and Yoga where I discovered more raw snackybits to drool over.  Specifically the Raw Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  Last night I had quite the adventure making these and then re-making them completely different.  One recipe - two totally different raw cookies.  I can't wait to post the results with pictures next week.  Thanks, Averie, for the adventure!

Cooking for a Vegan Lover did a book review on the book Go Dairy Free that caught my attention.  Not because I plan on going completely dairy free anytime soon but because I love to read about alternatives to my normal way of cooking and eating and seeing what wisdom I can glean and what new ways of doing something I can try out.  So I'll be looking to put this book on hold at the library soon.

Finally Vegan Crunk wrote about her experiences with Alicia Silverstone's book The Kind Diet.  I'm on a waiting list several miles long for this book at the library and after reading this review of sorts and hearing about the recipes I am that much more impatient to get my hands on a copy of this cookbook.  The Ginger-baked Tofu she mentions was the final straw.

In the mean time I do have two cookbooks out from the library that I am eagerly going through and look forward to doing more of just that this weekend. 

The Vegan Table is all about recipes for entertaining but from the first glances I think they would be just as yummy if I made them to entertain just lil' ol' Mark and me.  There seem to be several recipes that would make a scrumptious vegan high tea - I'd just have to find some local folks adventuress enough to try it with an open mind.  I'll have to work on that! 

Then there's Vegan Brunch, which has already had a muffin recipe made from it and I'll be sharing about that sometime soon too.  But there are many more dishes in there that I look forward to trying.  My only complaint so far are the number of dishes that call for Nutritional Yeast, something I cannot eat, and an ingredient that so far no one has given a good alternative to.  It is one thing if it calls for only a tablespoon or so, I figure leaving it out is simple enough.  But for recipes that call for 1/4 cup or more?  And that brings me to my question:

If you couldn't use nutritional yeast, for whatever reason, what would you use in its place or how would you alter a recipe to make up for the missing nutritional yeast? 

With so many vegan products and recipes calling for it, I find myself somewhat discouraged by not being able to use it.  I could use help from all you wise peoples out there!

Coming soon to Rutabegas and Other Adventures:

Vegetarian Stroganoff with Seitan
Super Quick Bowl of Noodles and Veggies
Garlic and Kale Soup with Spelt Berries
Vegan Chocolate Almond Moose
Raw Cookies
Butternut Squash Fries

And so much more....

So, until next week (and all its fun-filled, recipe-laden goodness), happy eating, dreaming and exploring the vegetarian life!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beans and Burritos

We've had a few nights recently where we needed a quick and tasty solution to dinner. Burritos to the rescue! The ever-evolving burrito. The endless possibility burrito. A burrito by any other name...

First you have beans. Black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, azuki beans, cannelini beans - the list goes on and on. There are hundreds of varieties of beans. There are whole books dedicated to the bean - such as Growing and Cooking Beans and Beans A History . And there are many jokes and lyrical saying about beans.
Beans: you either love 'em or hate 'em or they get revenge. I love beans and they seem to not mind me for the most part so I'm fortunate on that account and so I eat plenty of beans. That is a healthy thing. Beans are loaded with good for you stuff.

You can cook beans in a number of ways (pressure cooker, stove top, baked, stove top and crock pot - the latter is my favorite) and there are endless rules about cooking beans (soak first, don't soak first, change the water X-amount of times, add baking soda, don't add baking soda, cook with kombu (kelp), don't add acidic ingredients while cooking, and never ever add salt until the beans are cooked through.) Everyone has there opinion. But are they "worth a hill of beans"? That's for you to decide. I take it all with a grain of salt. Except for when it comes to salt. That's the one rule I follow when cooking beans. I never add salt until they are soft. I don't like partially cooked beans and the adage that salt keeps beans from softening properly while cooking seems to be true - for me at least.
Or you can just skip the whole cooking thing and go with the far more convenient option (n0 need to plan or think ahead) and use canned beans. I do both. I have a good supply of dry beans and other legumes all looking pretty in their canning jars in my pantry and I also have a good number of canned beans on hand. I've come to only buy one variety of canned beans though. Eden Organic. Why? They are the ONLY company that uses BPA-free cans for their beans. They pay extra to do it. There cans are made specifically for them. Here's the story behind it - it's worth a read. They would can all their other items in the same cans if they could - but the FDA doesn't allow it, as explained in the article linked above. The FDA insists on BPA-lined cans for anything acidic - like tomato products. The theory is to keep the metal from leaching into the food and making it bad for you. Ironic, considering how bad BPA is for us. (I could spend days on my soap box about stuff like this, but I'll spare you - for now.) So that is why I only buy Eden Organic canned beans.

But a burrito is more than just beans, right? I suppose it doesn't have to be but let's just assume we want more than beans wrapped in a tortilla. You could add grains. Any kind of grain would do. There's the obvious and common rice. But what about polenta, quinoa, spelt, kamut, ferro, barley. All are great options. Or no grain. Whatever you like. Next you have the option of dairy and dairy alternative options - various cheeses, sour cream, yogurt. (Sour cream is my favorite.) And salsa. All the lovely varieties of salsa out there to choose from! Two common one's in our house are Muir Glen's Organic Chipotle and their Organic Black Bean. Then there's salsa fresca or salsa verde when the garden (or farmer's market) is overflowing with tomatoes and tomotillos. Finally we come to herbs and vegis. Some favorite herbs to chop up and add to my burritos are cilantro, oregano, parsly, chives, epizote, one of the hundred varieties of thyme. Green onions, fresh corn, avocado, lettuce, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and garlic are among my favorite vegies for burritos.

Now that we have all these toppings piled onto a tortilla we get to struggle with actually getting it closed up for slightly less messy eating. Or give up and just eat it with a fork like my husband did recently when he piled WAY to much onto the poor little tortilla to even get the sides to touch.

Have a napkin (cloth, preferably) handy and chow down.

Happy burrito making.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Change the World Wednesday and Raw Foods

There's this great blog called Reduce Footprints and every Wednesday a new challenge goes out to encourage people to try and live a life a little lighter on the earth. And this week's challenge is all about food and borrowed from yet another blogger - What a Card. Here it is:

This week, "plan an oven- and stove-free day, and no cheating and going out to eat! Have sandwiches, cut up fruit, veggies with dip, leftovers from a previous dinner that you can heat in the microwave**. Plan ahead and make a pasta salad you can eat cold for a few days. Have hummus, feta cheese, and spinach on a pita or wrap. There are tons of healthy, delicious meals you can have without having to turn on the stove! As an added plus, many of the meals are quick and easy to prepare!"**I'd like to bump up What A Card's challenge ... how about including microwave-free, as well.

The day before I read this challenge I had been craving mass quantities of out of season vegis and I so gave in. My meal that night and my lunch the next day was nearly entirely Mexican - meaning most of those vegis travelled all the way from Mexico. In itself, that is hardly a "light on the earth" thing to do, but my body was saying it wanted lots of cooling raw yummy vegis. So that is what I gave it - and just happened to fulfill the Change the World Wednesday's challenge in the process.

The meal was simple vegi wrap. A soft whole wheat tortilla smothered with mayo and mustard and filled to the brim (it turned out more taco like than wrap because it was so full there wasn't enough wrap to go around all the goodies) with avocado, cucumber, several colors of bell pepper, sweet onion (from WA state!), tomato and alfalfa sprouts (also from WA state). Mark and I each ate two huge wraps (tacos) for dinner and loved every lip-smacking minute of our totally out of season no-cook meal.

As the week has progressed I got to thinking about how this no-cook meal challenge would be a perfect opportunity to try any number of raw food recipes out there. So I went searching for blogs on raw foods and found a few good ones loaded with mouth-watering recipes that I look forward to trying soon. Like the Raw Banana Cream Pie from Rawmazing or any one of these incredible salads from The Sunny Raw Kitchen. I could keep going, but I'll leave it at that and let you all explore further yourselves. As for me, well it's time to go get some dinner going and after all this thinking about, reading about and writing about food - I'm hungry!