Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fig Almond Butter Shortbread Hearts & Hummus Sushi

I subscribe to a few google alerts, so I can keep abreast of what's going on without hardly having to lift a finger. One awesome recipe that came through recently on my vegan google alert, was one for Fig & Almond Shortbread. It came from here and it was aparently her first attempt at making a recipe (at least for baking) vegan. Her adorable substitution of almond butter for butter impressed me. I'm not sure if she thought it would be the closest susbstiution, or she just couldn't bring herself to use magarine (good girl), but regardless-- I knew I had to bake them-- especially after several "what's for dessert?" cries from Bruce, and several near-demands that it have chocolate in it, and assertions from both him and Blake that they didn't like figs but would still try it. And I had to try out our new convection toaster oven.

Here's how I ended up making the recipe:

Fig Almond Butter Shortbread He

1/2 cup old fashioned oats + 1/8 cup
1/4 cup light spelt flour
a pinch of grey sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup finely chopped dried figs
0.5/3 cup almond butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. In a food processor, blender, coffee grinder or what have you, grind up the oats, keeping the extra eighth of a cup aside. Add the ground oats and reserved oats to a bowl, then add the flour, nutmeg and sea salt. Stir with a fork to mix. Then add the figs, mixing thoroughly to coat. In another bowl, cream together the almond butter and brown sugar. When mixed completely, add rum and vanilla and stir until homogenous. Add the flour n' fig mixture wet mixture and combine using a wooden spoon, or if necessary or desired, your hands (fun)! When this mixture makes a non-sticky ball (adding a tiny bit of flour if necessary), roll the ball out on a floured surface with a rolling pin (or wine bottle) until it's about a quarter of an inch thick. Here, you can choose to cut your dough in shapes or use a cookie cutter like I did. Don't bake these for too long. I baked mine for about 15 minutes in my convection oven and burned at least half of them somewhat. The original recipe (which was double the size), suggested 25-30 minutes. I'd guess at15-20 in a regular oven, but please watch them and make sure they're not burned. Sure I could perfect the cooking time before I post this, but what's the fun in that? I trust you. So basically I made this recipe wheat-free and full of rummy goodness and it yielded 12 little hearts. And I forgot the sliced almonds, so you could pound some into the top if you were so inclined. Anyway, they were dope and yes, the boys ate them.

Hummus Sushi

On the day in question, I was really about eating lightly. I've been into eating rice cakes with veganaise, ginger-carrot sauerkraut and cucumbers lately, and had eaten a bunch in the afternoon (my morning). For a light supper, I kind of wanted sushi, but was getting super-hungry. And I also wanted chickpeas. Ta-da! Hummus sushi was conceived. And while I figured it had already been thought of (a cursory internet search gave me 2960 hits for the term), I was pretty stoked. Anyway, here it is in all its delicious glory. I made the hummus from scratch (with my beloved hand-crank food processor which allows me to burn calories while I'm making hummus ;) to use as the bed for the toppings, and then laid down some sweet yellow pepper, grated carrots and fresh parsley (all local and in season) and rolled it all up in some nori sheets. The sushi was pretty good on its own, but the pickled ginger put it over the top! I made 12 pieces and pounded them down. The photos look kind of '80s to me-- the hummus looks like some sort of egg filling. Anyway, win.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Two Canadian Thanksgiving Dinners

For some reason I didn't post this after Canadian Thanksgiving, so I'll post it in time for American Thanksgiving. I hope that everyone has a delightful day off (if you get one) and I hope that you enjoy the fruits of the autumn harvest in good company and with lots to be thankful for.

I was lucky enough to eat two Thanksgiving
dinners during Thanksgiving weekend. The first was at my friends, Kevin and Sophie's new home, joined by her sister and my brother. We had mashed root vegetables, roasted root vegetables, steamed brussels sprouts and swiss chard, green leafy salad and tofurkey slices. We also managed to fit in some pear ginger crisp and chocolate pumpkin cake, but we ate them without taking photos ;(

Here's the recipe for tofurkey slices. I've been making these since mom made them for me when I first became vegetarian in 1997.

Tofurkey Slices 1 pound firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry Marinade: 3/4 c. water 3 tbsp soy sauce 3 tbsp nutritional yeast ½ tsp poultry seasoning** ½ tsp coriander ½ tsp onion salt ½ tsp garlic powder Coating: 1/4 c. flour 1/8 c. cornmeal 1/8 c. nutritional yeast 1/4 tsp onion salt 1/4 tsp salt dash black pepper Cut tofu into 1/4 inch or appropriately sized slices and place them in a wide, shallow mixing bowl or shallow baking pan. Place all ingredients for marinade in a bowl and whisk them together. Pour marinade over tofu slices, ensuring all slices are covered. Cover and place marinated tofu in refrigerator. Let tofu set for several hours or overnight, turning slices a couple of times. When you are ready to cook the tofu, combine the ingredients for the coating mix in a bowl and stir well with a fork. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mist baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, set aside. Remove each tofu slice, shake lightly to allow extra marinade to drip off and dredge each piece in the coating mix, allowing for total coverage. Arrange tofu on baking sheet. Mist tops lightly with cooking spray. Bake tofu for 15 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Flip slices over and bake for another 9 or so minutes, until other side is golden brown. Makes 10 or more slices. (4 -5 servings) ** or rosemary, sage, summer savory. Eat plain hot or cold, with make it into a sandwich.

My second Thanksgiving dinner wa
s at home on Thanksgiving Monday with my lovely bedfellow, Bruce. I made mashed potatoes, a mixture of white and pink sweet potatoes-- they were sooo sweet and delicious-- Bruce's favourite part of the dinner--, ginger-glazed carrots, a recipe test from Jae Steele's upcoming cookbook "Ripe From Around Here," mushroom gravy that's been a standard in my kitchen during holidays for years, and a complicated-looking but actually really simple mounded tofu turkey courtesy of my friends Mat and Dave of the award-wining radio show Let's Get Baked.
Tofu Turkey & Fixin's Turkey: 5 pounds of firm tofu Stuffing: 2 tbsp oil 1 large onion 1 cup celery, diced 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 tsp marjoram 2 tsp thyme 3 tsp Herb de Provence 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari 2 cups bread crumbs 1 cup wild cooked wild rice salt and pepper to taste Basting mixture: 1/2 cup toasted sesame oil 1/4 to 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari 2 tablespoons miso 2 tablespoons orange juice 1 teaspoon mustard 1/2 cup nutritional yeast Mash tofu together in a bowl. Line a Colander with cheese cloth and dump tofu in. Use a plate to press out the excess water from tofu. leave a heavy weight on the plate for an hour or two to drain as much water as possible (preferably in the fridge). take colander full of tofu and hollow out a place for stuffing. In a sauce pan fry up the garlic, onion, and celery. when they are sufficiently brown mix in the rest of the ingredients for the stuffing thoroughly and dump it into the hole that you have made in the tofu. pack it tigthly and flip onto a baking sheet. Cover the tofu turkey with the basting sauce and bake at 375 for an hour or so until it is golden brown. If you have the time you can cook it longer and a lower temperature and baste it a couple more times for extra amazing flavor experiences. Enjoy!


* 8tablespoon vegetable oil
* 3-6 cloves of garlic, squashed and minced
* 3 slices of yellow onion, chopped
* 8tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 2tablespoon nutritional yeast
* 4tablespoon low sodium soy sauce or tamari
* 2 1/2 cups water (to start)
* 1/2 teaspoon ground sage (dry)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
* 1/4 cup red wine (optional--but a huge help)
* 2 tablespoon
s balsamic vinegar
* 6 sliced mushrooms (optional)

I can't take all the credit for this great gravy. Unfortunately I cannot recall exactly where I came upon it. My apologies to the original source. I made some slight adjustments. I often opt for a plain ol' mushroom gravy, but this is the deluxe one I like to prepare.

In a medium saucepan heat oil on a medium or medium-low heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until slightly tender and translucent.

Add the flour, yeast and soy (or tamari) to make a paste or roux. Be careful not to let it burn. GRADUALLY add the water, stirring constantly. With frequent stirring, bring the gravy to a boil and allow it to thicken. Add pepper, mushrooms, vegan wine and balsamic vinegar. If you don't want to add vegan wine, you might try a bit more balsamic vinegar or a red vegan wine vinegar in its place.

If the gravy is too thin (unlikely) add a small amount of cornstarch which has been dissolved in some cold water. (Dissolving the cornstarch in water first will prevent lumps.)

Can you tell me how to get... how to get to Vegetable Street?

I admit I had forgotten about the marvelousness of Sesame Street's incredible plant-promoting superhero, Captain Vegetable, but as soon as I heard a verse of the song, memories came floating back and I was able to retrieve the lyrics from some hardly-used portion of my '80s childhood brain.

Here's the transcript of the song:

Out of his secret garden somewhere in New Jersey comes your newest favorite super hero!

It is I, Captain Vegetable
With my carrot, and my celery
Eating crunchy vegetables is good for me
And they're good for you, so eat them too
For teeth so strong, your whole life long
Eat celery and carrots by the bunch
Three cheers for me, Captain Vegetable
Crunch, crunch, crunch!

My name is Andy
I love candy
And I eat it whenever I can
If it's handy
Gimme some candy
It's so good and sweet
The perfect treat
It's such a thrill
To eat my fill
And gobble till there's nothing on the plate
Candy is great, but wait!

Who are you, some kind of bad dream?
Do I look like a bad dream?

It is I, Captain Vegetable
With my carrot, and my celery
Eating crunchy vegetables is good for me
And they're good for you, so eat them too
For teeth so strong, your whole life long
Eat celery and carrots by the bunch
Three cheers for me, Captain Vegetable
Crunch, crunch, crunch!

My name is Eddie
I love spaghetti
So I eat it whenever I can
If it's ready
Gimme spaghetti
It's a lovely thing
It looks like string
It's such a thrill
To eat my fill
And gobble till there's nothing on the plate
Spaghetti is great, but wait!

What are you? Are you some kind of weirdo?
Do I look like a weirdo?
It is I, your newest super hero

It is I, Captain Vegetable
With my carrot, and my celery
Eating crunchy vegetables is good for me
And they're good for you, so eat them too
For teeth so strong, your whole life long
Eat celery and carrots by the bunch
Three cheers for me, Captain Vegetable

Gee, Captain Vegetable this is the best thing to come around since meatballs!
Three cheers for Captain Vegetable!

Three cheers for me Captain Vegetable
Crunch crunch crunch!

and here, you lucky folks, is the video! It's so damn catchy, we've been singing it around the house a lot.

OMG! I found an updated version featuring John Leguizamo as Captain Vegetable wherein he refers to Elmo twice as "Playa."

Sesame Street has been trying in strange ways to get us to eat vegetables and learn to count and be kind to each other and whatnot for 40 years, and to celebrate Sesame Street's 40th birthday, they invited America's First Lady Michelle Obama to Sesame Street (again) to teach kids how to plant an organic vegetable garden and to promote eating healthy vegetables.

She rules. This rules. I'm a happy girl. Gonna go eat some vegetables.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Only 358 days until Hallowe'en!

Hallowe'en was a week ago. Luckily for me, there're still a lot of jack o'lanterns rotting around town to help me through my intense Hallowe'en withdrawal and the imminent onslaught of Christmas. I'm pretty sure Halifax was as Hallowe'eny this year as I've ever seen it, which is so awesome! I wonder if it was because the holiday fell on a Saturday, but more than that, I'm just so thrilled to have seen the immense participation this year! There were jack o'lanterns on almost every doorstep (and many times two or three-- sometimes many more!) and more Hallowe'en events than anyone could hope to haunt. For the first time ever, I tri-hosted a party with two friends of mine, and preparing for the party (and making mine and Bruce's costumes) was in many ways the best part of Hallowe'en. With four horror/monster music compilations by my new friend Adam up before Hallowe'en, I had an almost unending source of amazingly horrific tunes, and I was the happiest ghoul you've ever seen, dancing around the kitchen in a (fake) bloody apron with a ridiculous smile on my face for the weeks leading up to the spooky day. I finally completed my Hellboy costume, complete with a gigantic replica of his seven-barreled Big Baby gun. I used a helluvalotta duct tape, both black and red for this costume. It was invaluable. Bruce's Count Frightenstein costume came together wonderfully at the last minute. He was such a handsome silly vampire.

I made TREATS for the Hallowe'en party! It was superfun! I emptied out my newly acquired Crystal Head vodka bottle (SHAPED LIKE A SKULL and filtered thrice through diamonds made in Newfoundland according to Dan Akroyd's exacting specifactions!) and tra
nsferred my two batches of arugula vodka into it, so I'd be able to serve ghastly green vodka from a skull-shaped bottle. It was so awesome! And I made skull and crossbone- shaped green ice cubes made with chorophyll water that oozed green into everyone's drink! And bloodshot eyeballs from radishes and pimento olives! And wheat-free ladies' fingers with beet-stained, chipped almond fingernails! And a gory green hummus (with spirulina-- a blue-green algae), which, in all the mayhem, I forgot to photograph. Also, the arugula vodka in the Crystal Head vodka is yet to be photographed, but I will post it soon. The drink pictured is an eyeball martini made from Crystal Head vodka, vermouth, a green ice cube and an eyeball radish. Of course I used a skull-shaped martini shaker (also not pictured, sorry).
I must, at this time, send a shout-out to my good friend Tracy who's the only other human I know so excited about celebrating Hallowe'en in some way 365 days a year, and oddly, to Martha Stewart, who inspired us with two Hallowe'en featured magazines this season. And to the old lady who consulted with Tracy and I at our store about what to use for blood in the apple-bobbing bucket at her grandchildren's Hallowe'en party. And thanks for coming back after the party to tell us that concentrated cranberry juice with chunks of jam blood clots ("the gorier the better," said she) worked swimmingly. You give us hope that we'll always care about Hallowe'en and might not sell out and be crotchety and disinterested. Yes!

So, with another Hallowe'en season fading, I want to wish all y'all a belated Happy Hallowe'en. I hope it was as gruesome for you as it was for me and mine. And remember-- every day is Hallowe'en, so wear whatever you like and don't be afraid to be spooky now and again and growl and howl and moan when you need to. You know it feels good. RAWWWWL!