Make our garden grow.

March 23, 2011 § Leave a comment


 

So I’ve been waiting to weed the garden for the last 8 days, but it hasn’t stopped raining, and weeding in the rain is a macabre thought. But yesterday when I got home from work, it was just an absolutely gorgeous evening, and the sun showed their face for the fist time in ages. After I was done weeding, I turned over the soil (by hand no fossil fuels used here) and I added some homemade seaweed fertilizer and turned one more time. The pH was tested and sublime despite a pine tree being very close to the growing area. It’s all set, the seedlings are in and the seeds that needed to be directly seeded are in.

Starting the garden was a blast, I was listening to the soundtrack of the musical “Candide” while getting it ready, and even belted out a few tunes. And of course, sung to the seedlings “Make Our Garden Grow” one of the most beautiful songs in the history of the world.

Veggies I’m attempting to grow this year: Cucumbers, butternut squash, Cherokee tomatoes, Black Prince tomatoes, Brandywine tomatoes, cayenne peppers, red bell peppers, Italian eggplant,  Thai eggplant, cilantro, flat leaf parsley, basil, dill, 3 varieties of kale, rainbow carrots, zebra chard, heirloom celeriac, celery, nappa cabbage, bok choy, spring onions,  That’s all I have in the ground so far, but Amy Goodman (aka god) am I excited!

Check it out, here are some pics:

Growing wheat grass is fun, and so can you!

February 13, 2011 § Leave a comment


So if you TOTES want to make your Valentine happy on the big V-DAY then you should totally make them wheat grass shots in the morning! (Or you should protest celebrating such a macabre holiday.) I’m also making sweet potato carob truffles, but that’s for another day!

Growing your own wheat grass is inexpensive and easy! You’re going to want to go to the bulk bin of your favorite food co-op and pick up organic wheat berries. I’d buy a pound or so, that usually gets me through one month of wheat grass juicing.

Next, you’re going to soak the berries over night (1/4 cup is good for 1 to 2 oz.) Rinse them off and then put them in a mesh strainer. Put the strainer in a bowl that fits it and fill with water JUST to the base of the wheat berries, make sure the water is not physically touching the berries or they may rot. Rinse the berries a couple of times a day and change the bowl liquid too. They should sprout after a few days, and the roots will naturally go through the bottom of the strainer to suck up the water.

Once the grass is about 3-4 inches high it’s ready to harvest. Snip it off with scissors and put in your wheat grass juicer. On occasion I’ve been known to throw the clippings in my vita-mix with some water and blend it all together, but I’m told the speed destroys some of the nutrients. Wheat grass juicers are fairly cheap and require no electricity, they’re fun to use. Wheat grass juicers are the same today as they were back when Laura Ingalls Wilder was juicing her wheat.

Wheat grass is my Valentine

*If you’d like a steady supply of wheat grass I’d grow about 5 plantings of it at a time, you should drink about 1 oz every other day for maximum benefit. If you have the space I’d go to your local hardware store and get one of those black seed trays (not the ones with individual pots but the big empty ones.) And pick up an insert with holes in it so you can put it inside the larger black seed tray. Then get some silk screen and cut it to fit inside the seed tray. Then use that as your strainer and follow directions above.

Sprouted Lentil Goddess Dip

February 7, 2011 § Leave a comment


Greetings from Portland, Oregon! I now live in the beautiful vegan-eco-friendly city in the great Pacific Northwest. After going to the worlds smallest park, the big pink sky scraper, the air tram, the largest independent and used bookstore in the world, the vegan grocery store, and a myriad of some world famous vegan restaurants, I had exhausted my inner tourist heart and buckled down to cooking; but before that I decided to watch Yentl. How can anyone get through “Where is it Written” without crying?

Barbra Streisand singing for freedom.

“And tell me where-Where is it written what it is I’m meant to be, that I can’t dare to have the chance to pick the fruit of every tree, Or have my share of every sweet-imagined possibility? If I were only meant to tend the nest, Then why does my imagination sail Across the mountains and the seas, Beyond the make-believe of any fairy tale?” Barbra Streisand

Sing it sister!

Okay, so after watching Yentl, I was naturally craving lentils. No joke, I walked, no, ran to New Seasons and picked up about four pounds of lentils. I made a bunch of lentil curries, and some stuffed portobello mushrooms with lentils and cashews, and quinoa pineapple lentil stirfry and whatever I could come up with. Then I got sick of lentils for a while.

Since I’ve been raw for the past week, I decided to finish off the lentils from my Yentl splurge by sprouting them. In the past when I’ve sprouted lentils, I usually left them whole and threw them into a salad with some chopped veggies and a good dressing, but I’ve been eating so much salad lately I needed something different, so I decided to make a raw dip. Oh and I found out about an hour before hand that it was super bowl Sunday, so I tried to make this recipe party friendly. The dip is tangy, satiating, and delicious. I used veggies and endive for it, but you could totally use tortilla chips, or even use it as a spread on a sandwich instead of veganaise. Enjoy!

Perfect for celebrating womens rights and freedom from religion!

Sprouted Lentil Goddess Dip

1 cup raw walnuts
2 cups sprouted lentils
1 TBS raw tamari (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme
2 lemons squeezed (or to taste) plus a tsp of citric acid if you have it
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
5 cloves fresh garlic

1 place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides.

I like to serve it inside individual endive leaves with a sprig of cilantro and a halved grape tomato. sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve with carrot sticks, and red bell pepper for some color.

Enjoy!

Fresh Kale Salad with Creamy Ginger Avocado Cashew Dressing

September 14, 2010 § Leave a comment


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Dressing:
1/3 cup raw cashews

1 inch of pealed and minced ginger

2 tsp dijon mustard,

Juice of 1 lemon about 3Tbs or more

Fresh squeezed orange juice from 1 Valencia (or add 1/3 cup Orange juice)

1 tsp of white miso paste

1 tsp of tamari or liquid amino acid

5 TBS’s or more of of apple cider vinegar (with the mother) or white wine vinegar

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (for creamy consistency optional)

1 Avocado halved and pealed

2-5 cloves garlic pealed (I use five)

and a pinch of pepper.

Blend all of that until you get a nice consistency (use a small food processor or a blender.)

Salad:

1 bunch of kale

1/4 cup chopped cilantro  or flat leaf parsley

1 red bell pepper sliced into ribbons and then halved

1/2 red onion minced finely

1/2 a pint of grape tomatoes halved

1 cucumber pealed, halved and then sliced

2 TBSP toasted sesame seeds

2 TBSP toasted sunflower seeds

First stem the kale, wash it, shake it off really well roll it up lengthwise then slice it into very thin ribbons, pour the dressing over it, massage the salad with my hands (this makes the kale a bit more tender, you may skip, but kids like this because it’s fun and messy) Add the rest of the veggies and mix well.

Toast the seeds together on med/low heat in a cast iron skillet stirring consistently so they do not burn. Garnish the salad with the seeds and serve.

This salad not only looks good it makes you feel good.

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cashew Cream Ganache

July 2, 2010 § 1 Comment


This is the cake that will trump all cakes. This batter also works very well for cupcakes.

Helpful tip: if it’s too hot in your apartment, and you’re contemplating not baking because of it, something that always encourages me is throwing on Tori Amos’ Baker Baker.  After I’m done crying, I break out the whisk and the sifter and start baking for myself and Tori.

I have made a myriad vegan chocolate cakes in my many years as a weathered vegan baker. From the ever simple vinegar/water/cocoa powder “Great Depression Cake” which is light fluffy and delicious all the way to intricate decadent “Martha Stewart Style” $100 ingredient cakes, and I still had not found that special richness that makes chocolate cake such an utterly satisfying treat;

Until now…

I experimented with spelt flour this past time I made it, and it was delish, but the texture was a bit too light for me. So I’m suggesting 1 cup white all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, as this gives it a nutty more rich flavor. If you have a wheat allergy though, I strongly suggest subbing 1 cup white spelt and 1 cup whole spelt flour.

Forewarning: Baking with avocado in place of oil can be a bit impugnable, to avoid a macabre turnout, keep an eye on the cake, if it seems to be rising too fast or too high, please lower the oven temperature by 25-50 degrees and extend the cooking time for 5-10 minutes, making sure it does not burn.

1 cup unbleached organic white all-purpose flour (or 1 cup unbleached King Arthur’s cake flour)

1 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon, or 1/4 teaspoon generic cinnamon (usually korjinte if the label does not specify)

1/2 cup date sugar, or Sucanat or evaporated cane juice if you don’t mind feeding your cancer cells.

1 cup almond milk (I used homemade but you can use your favorite brand)

1 cup local organic Maple syrup

1/2 cup blended and smooth mashed avocado with 1 Tablespoon of applesauce or NON-GMO (Avoid FRANKEN-CANOLA) canola oil blended in (or just 1/2 cup of canola oil if you’re not feeling brave)

2 teaspoons organic apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon fair trade vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon bitter almond extract (preferably Italian, Miccuci’s sells this)

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

4 cups vegan chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups raw cashew cream

1/4 cup organic local maple syrup or Agave nectar

1. Preheat oven to 350* F

2. In a large bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, and sweetener. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of water, the almond milk, maple syrup, avocado/oil mixture (or oil), vinegar, and vanilla and almond extracts. Pour wet ingredients into the flour and mix well.

3. Pour batter into 2 greased 9-inch cake pans (I lined mine with perfectly trimmed circles of parchment paper because I was paranoid they would stick, but I don’t think this is necessary.) Bake for 35 minutes, checking a couple of minutes before and/or after to see if toothpick inserted into center of pie comes out clean.

4. For the frosting start your water for the double boiler and playce chocolate chips, cashew cream, and maple syrup or agave nectar in the double boiler. Once melted and well combined, remove from base of double boiler and allow to cool. Transfer the mixture to your food processor, vita-mix, or blender and blend until smooth for about one minute. then cool for an hour or more in the refrigerator. Mine took about 2 hours before it reached ultimate consistency.

5. Frost the first layer of the cake, place the second layer on top and frost the whole thing.

You can try to decorate this, as I did, but it was a hot day and the frosting was not cool enough so the frosting kind of melded together, but it was still delicious.


The Perfect Summer Salad!

June 8, 2010 § 2 Comments


Avocado and Fresh Corn Salad

Caught a lite sneeze? The phytochemicals in this nutritious salad will help to get rid of that sneeze!*

*This statement has not been approved by the FDA: This makes it a very trustworthy statement!

I came up with this recipe when I was rushing to make something fun, easy, and quick for a trip out to Peak’s Island with some friends. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I wanted something refreshing and full of phytochemicals, nutrients, and the flavors of summer.

Makes enough for two people, four if it’s a side.

2-3 ears of fresh sweet organic corn cut off cob with a sharp knife (if corn is not organic it is 99.9% likely to be genetically modified unless clearly labeled GMO-FREE by a reputable source)

1 red pepper diced

1/2 yellow pepper diced

1/2 orange pepper diced

1/2-1 ripe haas avocado diced

1 tomato seeded and chopped or 1/2 pint grape tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise

2 Tbsp fresh dill chopped finely

1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped finely

For the dressing:

1 Tbsp Agave nectar

2 Tbsp oil (canola, grapeseed, or olive)

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (roughly one lemon, more is ok! I like things sour)

1-2 tsp dijon mustard (grey poupon works best, I know, it’s hard to get over the fact you’re suckling the teat of Kraft foods (aka Altria BIG TOBACCO) when buying Grey Poupon, but it’s the best dijon that’s readily available to the average American)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

Directions:

add all the chopped vegetables and herbs into a big bowl and mix well

For the dressing:

Whisk all ingredients well in a small bowl until very well mixed 1-2 minutes.

Pour all over salad and mix well.

This salad is perfect to eat right out of a mason jar, sharing a spoon with your friends passing it around the picnic. It’s very refreshing

Optional:

for a richer creamier dressing, add a couple Tablespoons of walnut nutritional yeast blend and whisk well. This is a perfect condiment to keep on the side (great for pasta and popcorn) It’s basically 1 cup nutritional yeast, 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped in a food processor until a semi-chunky/fine powder forms, don’t mix too long or the walnut pieces will start to turn into walnut butter.

For a tangy’er salad try adding some chopped grapefruit! Grapefruit and avocado go really well together.

Enjoy the summer and the beautiful weather!

Kwalitys Chickpeas

May 20, 2010 § 1 Comment


Recently some very good friends from college, whom I, unfortunately, don’t get to see enough due to distance, came to visit Portland, Maine and it was a lot of fun. I was invited to an Indian food potluck the first night of their visit. I went to the library and checked out, Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness. Just from browsing this book and making a few recipes so far, I can honestly say it’s very well done, researched, and authentic.

It includes Indian recipes from all different regions, there is a wonderful personal aspect to Suvir’s writing of childhood memories and food, as well as regional information. It’s not a vegan cookbook by any means, but there are many recipes that are naturally vegan and many others that can easily be veganized.

If you like experimenting with new spices and flavors, and you’ve always wanted to learn how to cook Indian food, and you’re not a hardcore vegan, then I would recommend this book.

Some local news: I just found a store in South Portland called Masala Mahal It’s on route one in a little strip mall located right next to a Red Wing Boot store… I think saying “Only in Maine” is appropriate here. This store is great, they are like many Indian grocery stores that I’ve been to in New Jersey and New York, except they’re located right in our backyard! Very cool place, they have obscure hard to find produce, most importantly: fresh curry leaves! Do you know how hard it is to find these in Maine? I’ve been to all 5 of the Asian Markets in Portland and they rarely, if ever, have curry leaves. The owners are very helpful and are even into sharing recipes if you ask. They have great prices to boot. I highly recommend taking a trip there.

If you can’t find amchur powder or annadranna powder you can use fresh squeezed lemon juice, however you can find both of these spices at Masala Mahal, and the Sun Oriental Market on Congress.

Amchur is the powder from dehydrated green mango. It has a delicious sour flavor that’s unparalleled. I bought an entire pound of this for $5.99 at Sun Oriental Market and keep it in a 1 Qt glass jar.

Anaardaana powder is also an important ingredient. Similar to the sour taste of Amchur but with a deeper fruitier flavor. I love the stuff it’s hard to live without it. If you don’t want to buy some powder, or you just happen to have some pomegranates lying around, dehydrate the seeds and turn into powder in your spice mill, food processor or vita-mix!

Kwalitys chickpeas

Cholas
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ tsp whole black pepper corns
4 whole cloves
4 green cardamom pods
3 whole dried red chiles
1½  inch piece of fresh ginger minced
4 fresh or 6 frozen curry leaves, torn into pieces
2 red onions, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried mango powder (Amchur) or juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons pomegranate seed powder (anaardaana) or juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons ground toasted cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 ½ cups water
3 cans chick peas OR 1 ½ cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight and cooked until tender. I try to never  use canned beans so please soak them and boil them if you can. When boiling add a tsp of baking soda and a piece of Kombu seaweed and it helps them cook better and retain their flavors.
Combine the oil, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, and red chilies in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cumin begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the ginger and curry leaves, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add the onions, green chilies, and salt and cook stirring often, until the onions are dark brown in color, about 20 minutes. Keep a cup of water beside the stove as the onions cook. As the onions begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a little bit of water  to deglaze the pan and to keep the onions and spice from burning.
When the onions are cooked, add the mango and pomegranate powders, if using, as well as the ground toasted cumin, turmeric and ½ teaspoon of the garam masala; cook, stirring, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the cayenne and black peppers. Immediately add the water and all bout ½ cup of the chickpeas. Mash the rest of the chickpeas to a puree with the back of a fork and add them to the pan along with the remaining ½ teaspoon garam masala. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and cook gently, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste for salt and serve hot.
Enjoy!
xoxo
Vincent