Tag Archives: vegan

Vegan Cranberry Shortbread Bars : Recipe

Thanksgiving Dessert : Cranberry Shortbread Bars

I was so enchanted by yesterday’s post on The Kitchn for Cranberry Curd Bars that I *had to* attempt a veganized version. Check out that post and just try to tell me those pictures are not magical. Makes me want to dance The Nutcracker or something. Great dessert for Thanksgiving, even better for Christmas.

The challenge though would be the 8 eggs in the recipe. When you get into numbers like that, you just have to know that what you come up with is going to be a variation on a theme and not an exact replica.

*I used too much shortbread, so I am halving my recipe here, which is coincidentally super similar to The Kitchn recipe.

*I didn’t do the jelly technique for the cranberry like the original recipe. Too time consuming for an 8 month pregnant mom of 2 and to be honest, I could use the fiber.

*Have you seen the price of walnuts lately? Ridiculous. Used to be one of the cheaper nuts, now it is way high. I don’t know if this is a seasonal hike or what, but I used almonds and my shortbread is no worse for the crunch.

*Coconut oil. I would have used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks but I only buy it for specific projects and I did that this weekend and now it is all gone. This is not the first time I’ve used coconut oil for vegan baking (cookies and pie crusts) and it works just fine in my opinion. And, I think if you buy it in larger quantities, it is most likely cheaper than the Buttery Sticks. But it doesn’t taste buttery, so your call.

*I don’t refrigerate the crust before baking. What’s that about anyway?

Okay. On to the specifics.

9 x 13 baking pan (I love parchment paper but didn’t use any with this recipe)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1 c flour
1 c ground nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.)
1/2 c coconut oil
1 tspn lemon juice
1/2 tspn salt

Combine in food processor (make sure nuts ground first). Press into baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

While the crust is in the oven, make your cranberry topping, which will not be like curd.

3 cups fresh cranberries, minced in food processor
1 cup sugar
2 TBSP lemon juice
pinch salt
1/4 tspn cardamon
1/2 tspn cinnamon
1 can (13.6 oz) coconut milk
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)

Combine ingredients in a wide bottomed pot with tallish sides. Cook over medium heat, whisking more frequently as cooking progresses–approximately 15 minutes total. Cooking is done when cranberry concoction is bubbling, spitting at you and pulling away from bottom of pan.

When shortbread is done baking in oven, gently spread cranberry mixture on top. Return to oven for approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, cool. When cooled, refrigerate and then cut.

Garnish with powdered sugar, which will melt into cranberry, creating sweet glaze.


To be cut...

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Eggless Challah

Shared it on Facebook first....eggless (vegan-ish) challah and Devorah.

I’ve been wanting to make eggless challah ever since I first ventured across a vegan recipe from the PPK gals. Except their recipe calls for bananas. And that just seemed too…banana-y for me.

Well, last Shabbat (don’t I sound like a proper Jewess?) Trailrunner posted her weekly challahs on GW. They looked goooood.  The next day Jterrilynn posted her successful attempt. I was feeling left out. And also some pregnancy related challah cravings. If you’ve ever been Jewish, you just might know what all the fuss is about!

So I began researching vegan recipes. I decided to use a combo of ground flax and boiled sweet potatoes and plantains as my egg subs. I was going for bind and fluff, the subtle sweet flavor and color.

The combo made a nice bread, but aside from the shape and moistness, it wasn’t really challah. But it was good. My son loves it and I will use the same recipe for the dinner rolls I am slated to make for his class Thanksgiving.

I’m still contemplating ways to improve the recipe. Challah is similar to brioche–very eggy. Impossibly eggy. I will troll the online recipes and try to patch together some mash-up of ideas. My dough was very wet (I used whey so technically it wasn’t vegan). Trailrunner says you need the dough to be soft and squishy like a baby butt.

Speaking of baby butts, I don’t know when I will actually attempt another challah since my baby butt will be here in 5-8 weeks. Which is why I spent the day cooking stuff to freeze…

Ready to face the morning with a hot cup of apple cider, eggless challah and butter. From France.My son’s fancy tastes.

6 strand braided challah topped with sesame seeds

This is the second challah I made. It's quite large. The plan is to freeze it for the family to enjoy when the baby comes and I am *resting.* *All day.* *In bed.*

Strawberry jam, you are so delicious! After i took these pics, I devoured everything.

I would eat it again if it was on a plate in front of me.

* Chomp * Chomp *

Buttah.

 

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Your Organic Food is Killing the Planet

Here is a short and sweet little pictorial (courtesy of Huff Post) touching on 8 organic food myths that also happen to coincide with many of my food pet peeves! Oh, joy.

Organic milk, such as Horizon brand, dumps its cows on massive feedlots and is an example of the lowpoints of agribusiness. How do you think Horizon sells its organic dairy so cheaply to Walmart? By carrying on in the same way that commercial dairies do–but with organic instead of conventionally grown grain.

Organic tv dinners–expensive crap wrapped in plastic packaging and then boxed. Waste.

Exotic, far-flung fruits and veggies make the list. I am definitely guilty of this one. Unfortunately, apples are an exotic fruit when you live in Florida. And the majority of organic apples that I’ve seen in the market come from New Zealand. Which, you know, is kind of on the other side of the world. One thing the Huffpo piece doesn’t touch on, but that I think is important to point out, is that the organic standards only apply to the growing process. Your organic bananas may be gassed with ethylene on the way to the market and nobody is going to say boo about it.

“Natural” advertised on the label. To paraphrase Michael Pollan, if it has a label, it probably isn’t natural.

Single Servings. Yes. This upsets me. I am not totally free of this. We do occasionally keep a stash some “natural” sugary granola bars for emergency situations, but in general, I am weary of snack packs and all the waste they generate.

Plastic water bottles. Cancer. Bad taste. Landfill. No thanks.

Soy junk is another item on the list that I must hang my guilty head in shame over. On road trips, it is our convenience food to fill up our kids. Tofu turkey. Smells like dog food to me. Vegan dog food I occasionally feed my children.

See, I am very judgmental when it comes to food, but am capable of admitting my wrongs. I feel more guilt over feeding my children lousy stuff or buying so called food with packaging than the average person.

Now, should I do a post about how there is truly no such thing as a “green remodel” (unless you salvage *everything*). How about you? Do you experience a direct correlation between your consumption and your accumulation of guilt?

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Green Bean, New Potato, Chickpea Salad @ Pizza Party

Morning sun, washed pots left drying on the countertop and a cohesive menu. Great day for dinner guests!

Saturday night we had dinner guests. Since I am pregnant and of Advanced Maternal Age and enjoying the feel of my sciatic nerve, I got started cooking early in the day. The kitchen was not in bad shape, despite all the family togetherness gathered around the countertop the night before. Just had to put away the washed pots and get cooking. With lemons squeezed the night before and my pizza dough resting in the fridge, preparation was a slow and methodical cake walk.

A personal highlight of the evening for me was the Green Bean, New Potato, Chickpea Salad. I’ll share the recipe below. But first, pictures.

Fresh picked tarragon from our garden. My tiny stalk of heaven.

What I was looking forward to all day: green bean, new potato, chickpea salad.

Dessert included melty good chocolate chip cookies, a very un-photogenic yet delicious in a healthy kind of way whole wheat and spelt peach galette, homemade pumpkin ice cream and drippy whipped cream. Okay, I blended the whipped cream instead of whipping.

Here is a pic of the pumpkin ice cream, shot earlier in the week. The pumpkin is from Radharadhya and Kiriti's garden, in Emmaus. They gave it to us on our travels and I was able to turn it into a very pumpkin pie tasting frozen yum!

He loves me...He loves me not. HE LOVES ME! My husband took the kids for a walk while I had some ADULT COOK time. My lovely son returned with these flowers for me. Mmmuh!

Fresh from the oven, the kids' pie--no basil, just sauce and cheese.

Awwwww yeah! Satchel's kiss my butt! This pizza was voted BEST IN GAINESVILLE! And I live in Alachua!

This pregnancy loves hot! Chili hot. In addition to pies with basil, I made artichoke heart and chili pies as well as mushroom and kalamata. There was also a delicious organic green salad and little plates of Spanish and kalamata olives and roasted red peppers. Nosh nosh.

Green Bean, New Potato, Chickpea Salad

Just a delight! This cooked and chilled salad feels light and picnic-y but need not be limited to summer. Very versatile, can be paired with all sorts of entrees or served as a main dish along with some soup and a crusty slice of sourdough.

Ingredients:

7 cups chopped new potatoes (I used red petites)

4 cups green beans–prepped into 2 inch lenghts

2 cups cooked chickpeas

*Put the potatoes in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and refrigerate.

*Boil a pot of water, toss in green beans to blanch for one minute. Remove beans and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Drain and refrigerate.

*Boil chickpeas in salted water until done. Rinse and remove skins. Refrigerate.

For the dressing:

1 cup lemon or lime juice *or* light colored vinegar (I prefer lime juice but used apple cider vinegar)

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup dijon mustard

*1.5 tspn salt

1/4 to a 1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves *or* 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried tarragon

*Combine dressing ingredients in a blender

*Combine salad ingredients and toss with dressing. Marinate in refrigerator a few hours before serving.

*Right before serving, mix in fresh parsley, if available.

*Top with course ground salt and black pepper and serve cold.

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Food On A Stick–Great For Kids

I get a fair amount of emails from moms asking me how to get their kids to eat all sorts of good things. Unlike Jessica Seinfeld, I don’t go the route of camouflaging lentil beans as brownies and carrots as popsicles. Instead, I just put whatever I’ve cooked on a stick.

Children really like to eat with sticks. As opposed to forks. Or plates. Think about it. Carrying your meal on a stick makes it highly portable and the incentive to finish is built in. Once your stick is denuded of food, your child has a deft weapon to poke siblings eyes out with. Only child? Don’t worry! Your little darling will find proper motivation to eat up knowing that, upon completion, the parent will most likely freak out and try to disarm the child in fear that said child will poke his or her own eye out.

But relax. Let the kids walk on the wild side with their primitive tools. It’s a helluva lot safer than setting your kid loose with a Miley Cyrus video.

Since I’ve re-entered the kitchen, I have a little squeaky voiced shadow butting up against me. She keeps un-doing what I’ve done, rearranging what’s been put away and “cooking” all kinds of messes. Saturday I discovered a way to have her use her powers for good–sticking fruit on a stick. This would be what people in pre-school circles call “non-cooking cooking.”

Madhumati super busy making fruit kebabs.

She made a bunch, ate them all and then came back to make some more.

Proud chef.

Her creations were so tasty and attractive that even the brother decided  to join the kitchen staff. This activity kept them busy for quite some time. As long as there were skewers and cut fruit, they were occupied. It was kind of like edible jewelry making.

The plums were a bit tart.

Putting away boxes filled with food, I discovered my last bag of gluten flour. Since we had plans to go to the beach the next day, I thought seitan kebabs would make a good dinner and even better beach left overs. The kids love them–because they are on a stick–so I got to work boiling, frying and broiling.

Here is a recipe. It is not *the* recipe–I only use that when making the sauce in quantity. This recipe is kind of off the top of my head, which is how I do it when I am just making family portions. So, you might need to tweak it a bit, but it will definitely get you over the finish line.

Barbecue Gluten Kebabs

Here’s how I make it:

3 cups gluten flour

3 cups water

2 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon curry powder

First mix all the dry ingredients together. Then add the wet. Make a brain looking blob. Cut into 3 pieces and add to a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and keep it rolling for an hour.

Drain, cut into irregular cubies (1-2″) and *deep fry.* You can pan fry, but deep fry is, honestly, easiest.

When out of the oil, transfer to a pot of sauce.

This is what you do for the sauce:

When you are done draining your boiled seitan brain, get started on the sauce.

Take a 28 oz can of crushed tomato and add this to it:

1/2 cup water

½ cup Bragg Liquid Amino (or good quality soy sauce–note that Braggs is saltier tasting than soy sauce)

½ cup molasses

½ cup sucanat (any sugar will do but the darker the lovelier)

one teaspoon hing (available in Indian groceries or Wegman’s, Whole Foods, etc.).

Cook until thick and dark.

Boil the fried gluten in the sauce until you are done frying and the sauce is dark. Transfer to a baking tray and shove in a pre-heated oven on broil for 10 minutes, give it a stir and wait another 10. Should get nice and charred in spots. Remove from oven, wait about 15 minutes to cool down and then skewer.


More food on a stick: barbecue gluten kebabs.

Sunday we made it to Anastasia State Park, a favorite Florida destination for our family. It was great to get out after convalescing in my sick room for a couple of months. We’ve never experienced crowds at Anastasia and the weather was perfect. Our summer has been a bit spoiled by the remodel and my morning sickness, so it was a great relief to have family time to cherish, watching my children compete with the sun’s glow. Even though I am pregnant and about to become a mom to yet another tiny person, I feel old. Like death is imminent. I am not trying to be a downer, but I think this is just what happens when you move along in your 30’s. The body begins to decline, despite the fact that a new life is rooted deep within me. Every day the contradiction slaps me in the face. While I know I am not quite yet eligible for AARP membership, I am way past my carefree 20’s. These moments with my kids are important to me and I am grateful that the bouts of poor health were temporary–knowing that these days of strength and vitality are also temporary.

Here’s my loves…notice I am included amongst the pics! Sadly, the Babu ended up on the cutting room floor. The camera battery died early in the day so much of the beach fun went undocumented.

My daughter, vested and ready for the Atlantic.

Me. At the beach. In my *mom hat,* Walmart circa 2001.

Vm was absolutely alive in the water and therefore nearly impossible to photograph.

There were large fish swimming right next to him.

Every princess needs her castle.

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The Locavore’s Dilemma

Growing His Own: Radharadhya

A few years back, my friends Radharadhya and Kiriti and I had a discussion that could have been aptly titled, “Where Have All the Vegetarians Gone?”.

Back in our day, thoughtful, alternative, artsy, crunchy, hipster types were vegetarian. The uniform was easy to spot and usually consisted of one or more of the following–dreadlocks on white people, dyed black hair, messenger bag, thick black plastic glasses frames, chain wallet,  tiny vintage t-shirts, canvas vans. These days, the dress is more or less the same but the diet has changed.

Beets and chard and broccolini are still there, but now served alongside free range chickens and organic local veal cutlets. Just as the straight edge kids grew up and now post what bar they are headed to on Facebook, the vegetarians too felt the social strain of a limited, plant based diet and “branched out” to more accessible fare. But of course, there has to be a hook.

And the new hook these days is eating locally. Somehow, killing animals for food is okay, as long as the animals have been raised nearby and have plenty of grass. People who read John Robbins Diet for a New America back in high school have now dumped that book at Goodwill to clear room on their bookshelves for the latest Michael Pollan hardback, shipped from Powells.com, as opposed to Amazon. Local is the new vegetarian. If you can personally butcher the meat yourself, hey, that’s proof that civilization is advancing!

This morning I read an editorial on the Huff Post by Victoria Moran that reminded me of this conversation I had with my friends years ago. Please check it out:

Veg and the City: My Beef With Locavores.

“Vegetarianism is good. And meat is like you are eating your own body. Because if you kill an animal, it is like killing yourself.”

The above is a quote from my 6 year old son. He asked me what I was writing about and when I told him  I was posting abut vegetarianism, he asked me to add his thoughts. Gladly.

At first glance, Vm’s musings may seem naive, but I find them startlingly profound. “Because if you kill an animal, it is like killing yourself.” The empathy in this boy runs deep. He does not see the difference between eating human flesh and eating animal flesh. There is no hierarchy of bodily designation. Suffering is suffering, across the species. One entity’s suffering is wrapped up another entity’s suffering. Just how open are you to acknowledging that pain?

I could take credit for brainwashing my son into a vegetarian doctrine, but that isn’t the case. He didn’t know he was a vegetarian until he was three. He had no idea people ate meat until we were at the supermarket around Thanksgiving time and he saw people loading large, bulbous white plastic wrapped packages into their car. He asked me what that was and I had to tell him: dead turkey. To eat.

The look of shock on his face was devastating. Without any prompting, my children instinctually knew meat eating was, to be frank, a grotesque abomination. I told my kids that there were dead bodies of animals wrapped in packages in the store. That most of the people shopping here bought, cooked and ate those dead bodies. That how we eat is called vegetarianism and most people don’t eat that way.

Over the years I have tried to brainwash them to have courteous social skills so they can get along in a society where meat is the dominant culture. I never feared them wanting to taste or experiment with meat. Their humanity runs too deep for that.

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Sabji Comes Clean

This pic of my elfie @ 2 years has nothing to do with the post, but I couldn't think of a pic better to post! Mmmwuh , I love this tiny girl.

My new friend Jason over at Vegan Porn and Spawn Better tipped me off to this disturbing article on contaminated mock meat. Check it out and barf @ Taiwan News.

If that wasn’t enough to keep me up all night (it wasn’t, since I only go to the Asian market, like, never), then this next snippet surely did the trick. Before we moved to Alachua county, I spent many a sleepless nights googling River Phoenix, because deep down inside I am forever 12. And his family was part of a cult. And, you know, I have a soft spot for cults.

And I also spent much time looking into the local green scene online. But little did I know that the two google searches actually intersect. Yesterday, while chilling at the playground,  I found out that the store Indigo in Gainesville is owned by Liberty Phoenix. So of course I stayed up late googling Liberty.  Much to my disappointment, she seems a bit shy of the limelight.

Do you know how embarrassing it is for me to admit my celebrity obsession? Really really really embarrassing. But I do feel that fessing up absolves me some of my sin of coveting the famous. Oh my god, how absolutely juvenile of me.

Did I mention I turn 35 in a week?

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