Fall Invades Breakfast

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Tried a new recipe for Whole Grain Corn Muffins by Julieanna Hever, RD, from the Forks Over Knives website.

I really liked these, and will make them again. They are no-added fat, vegan and gluten free, per the original recipe.

Turns out the recipe is a bit flexible!  I didn’t have oat flour (realized later I could have made it from old fashioned rolled oats), so I substituted whole wheat flour.  Also, didn’t have frozen corn, so I cooked a corn on the cob I had and used that. Swoon.

I even left half of the flour out, thanks to my feathery sous chef, Dodger distracting me at a key interval, and they still came out great.

Had them for breakfast with a super-ripe hachiya persimmon.  These are the scoopable type, but I recently discovered that the skin is edible, so I just pulled it open and held it in my hand to eat it. Messy fabulousness.

Fresh Fruit “Cake” and Fresh Fruity Friends

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I made  my first-ever fresh fruit “cake” today. It was so much fun to build and everyone liked it!

Isn’t this a beautiful group of friends!?

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A close up of the finished product.  I’ve seen these online and wanted to try making one, but needed a good reason.

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My good pal Las Weezas provided the incentive. Hydra and I hosted a Songmakers song circle today and Las Weezas’s  birthday is this week. She is a wonderfully talented, supportive friend and musician. She’s part of The Harmonistas, which have changed my life in so many good ways. She’s always willing and capable of backing me with her guitar and voice when it’s just the two of us, too.

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First step of the fresh fruit “cake” is to cut the ends off of the watermelon and then shape it into a cake-like cylander.

P1020459Next, start decorating with other fruits. I was so thrilled to find that I do indeed own a melon baller!  I dug holes in the sides of the watermelon and filled them with muskmelon (cantaloupe) balls.

(Please excuse my ailing point-and-shoot camera! Weird color and accidental border!)

P1020460Dug holes for the grapes, then skewered them into place with toothpicks and topped them with blueberries. Used more balls on the top. I later added grapes and blueberries to the balls on top with toothpicks and filled in with banana slices and blueberries.

It was really fun to to and I’ll do it again. Great way to celebrate without processed sugar!

My Spice Sage

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My friend Barb told me about My Spice Sage a long time ago, and I finally placed an order with them. Prices are good, shipping is free and the choices are off the charts.

It was hard to choose from the vast array of spices and seasonings, but I narrowed it down. Celery seeds and porcini mushrooms, I’ve had before.  I’ll probably use most of the porcinis to make mushroom powder.

I know, right? Never heard of it till I bought a pressure cooker and  Jill Nussinow’s The New Fast FoodHer recipe for vegan mushroom rissoto is wonderful. I’m thinking I’ll make a verision with artichoke hearts and use the artichoke powder in place of the mushroom powder.

The kaffir lime leaves will be made into hot and cold infusions for drinking pleasure!  (They’re not really teas unless they have Camellia sinensis leaves in them. Oh, yeah. I’m that person some days!)

The Kala Namak salt is recommended in several of the vegan cookbooks I have. They usually say it has an eggy taste, but it’s really a mild sulfur flavor. This was my first experience with it. I love it sprinkled on steamed potatoes. The sulfury-ness of it makes me feel like I’m in touch with the basic elements of the earth.

Yeah, food is romantic!

Proof of Life

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Braaiiins!

Or maybe, “It’s alive!”

I couldn’t begin to guess how long it’s been since I opened that jar of yeast. It says it should be used within six months. It also says that you can proof the yeast by adding it to warm water and sugar and waiting ten minutes to see if it rises.

That’s a 1 1/2 cup bowl filled with just 1/4 cup of water,  2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. I’d say the  yeast passed the test with flying colors.

Yay, I didn’t have to run to the market before making the whole wheat bread.

Is this where I admit that I probably ate a slice’s worth of dough by pinching a little off now and again during the 2 1/2 hours I let it rise?

I love the alchemy of baking. A few hours ago there was just flour, almond milk, yeast, water and agave syrup in my house. Now there’s bread!

Herbalicious!

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One of the first things I did when we bought the house was put in an herb garden. I adore roaming the yard with my kitchen shears and clipping what I need from living plants. Mediterreanean herbs love it here. The basils (Thai and sweet Italian) need the shelter of the front porch in order to survive the hot summers. It took a few years of moving them around to figure this out.

This little bundle went into a fresh batch of Purple Rain Soup. Rosemary, thyme and sage.

 

This Thing is Happening!

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Viola!  The new gas range finally arrived!  We researched and shopped and hoped it would arrive before Christmas, but that was not to be.

This was deeply discounted at Best Buy.  Apparently a lot of other folks did their research and ordered these, too, so we were put off until today. It’s a Samsung, but no, we can’t make cell phone calls on it.

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The old model (oops, missing the bottom drawer momentarily.) Only about ten years old and we had to do a major repair on it in that amount of time. So, we weren’t going to buy another GE.  (Hydra pushed this back in for me after I realized I didn’t have a before photo.)

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This!  This is happening! Yes, I shopped ahead and was all ready to make the first thing I cooked in this oven something craveable: blackberry pie!

It’s also a convection oven, which I’m not sure is going to mean a lot as a non-meat eater.  But it also has a dehdydrating function, which I didn’t know until I read the manual.

Yes. I read the manual.

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While the pie was in, I heated some homemade pasta sauce and had penne with marina and baby kale for lunch.  Love my vintage Descoware on the shiny new surface.

Check out that oval burner in the middle.

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The oval fire ring comes with a griddle!  I feel pancakes coming on.

It’s really odd to me that there are no drip pans. Do people not really cook on these stovetops?  The delivery guy said that these cooktops clean up better than other types of surfaces.  I hope so. I’m messy sometimes!

The fact that the grate covers the whole cooktop is really nice, because when I pulled the pie out it gave me a big steady surface upon which to park the baking sheet.

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Arguably the hardest part about baking a pie is waiting for it to cool sufficiently to cut!

I’ve been cooking more and more over the past ten years or so and enjoying learning and challenging myself. Since adopting a Whole Foods Plant Based lifestyle about a year ago, it’s less and less satisfying to try and eat out.

I don’t keep 100% to the Forks Over Knives guidelines that got me started, but I do a whole lot better when I cook for myself, and know what’s going into my food. It’s more about what I do eat than what I don’t!

 

 

One in Two Million – Pea Soup Andersen’s

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They say they serve over 2 million bowls a year!

How cool is this!?  The place everyone wanted to go for lunch is known for their vegan split pea soup!

We went to Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton for lunch on Sunday. We’ve driven by it many times, but never stopped. Figured it would be too busy. Especially on a Sunday at lunchtime.

Not so! It’s a big place and our party of six was seated immediately. Verrry tasty!

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If you’re not careful, they’ll put you to work splitting peas.  Hydra and I working for our lunch.

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Ended our day of adventure on the back patio, watching the sun go down.

DSC_7275Well, some of us. Others of us played some music.

 

Cooking Under Pressure

wpid-cam00414.jpgHey, is that R2-D2 in my kitchen?

I asked for this power pressure cooker for my birthday. It arrived early and Hydra didn’t make me wait to open it! Yay!

It was very intimidating at first. I had all those lingering fears of pressure cookers that a lot of people express. You know, the kind that give you visions of shrapnel flying through your kitchen.

But I joined a Facebook group called Instant Pot Vegan Recipes, and it’s been amazingly helpful. Not only are there recipes, but there are lots of little hints about how to use the darned thing that it would take forever to figure out.

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In spite of the information, I was physically agitated the first couple of times I used it. I tried steaming whole sweet potatoes first, and they didn’t really come out well.

But this recipe for apple/date/cinnamon steel-cut oats is a winner.

The promoters of Instant Pot are fond of saying things like “Only 4 minutes cooking time!”

Well, not really. It takes the pot up to 10 minutes to come to pressure, and then you cook whatever you’re cooking for whatever time is recommended, and then sometimes you let the pot naturally release pressure, which takes another 10-15 minutes.

BUT, these steel-cut oats were achieved in about 15 minutes, with no standing around stirring constantly.

 

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I know that if I get an appliance that is genuinely new to me, I had better jump in and use it right away, or I might let it languish in the cupboard. Especially a slightly scary one.

So, after having the thing for less than a week I’ve used it five times, and I’m feeling pretty comfortable with it.

These are homemade black beans, and homemade Spinach Potato Tacos from  Forks Over Knives which was adapted for the pressure cooker by Jill at Simple Daily Recipes.

It’s just amazing, the resources that are out there these days!  I learned the technique of using the saute function on the Instant Pot after the pressure cooking was done to reduce the runniness of the mix.

So far, I’m really happy with it. I’ll be giving away my old slow cooker since the Instant Pot also does that. Once I try making grains in it, I may even give away my electric steamer, which I have sworn by for a couple of decades!

Makes room in the cupboard, which is great…. Except that the pressure cooker won’t fit through my cupboard doors!  It’s on the counter till I have time to re-work the pantry.