Thursday, September 28, 2006

Walnuts + Basil = Pesto

Fall means walnut season for us. The squirrels are busy in the trees collecting the nuts and running all around scouting places to hide them. All this squirrel activity irritates Jolie to no end. She works over time trying her hardest to put an end to something that won't stop until the nuts are gone. (There are a LOT of walnuts on our two trees) We really appreciate Jolie putting in the extra hours, because the squirrels are messy & rude. The debris they leave behind includes green casings, intact walnuts, partially eaten walnuts, shell fragments; and they dig holes in the grass, flower gardens, planters, garden, and anywhere else you could hide a nut. There are lumps all over our grass with buried nuts. I collect the intact nuts to use throughout the year, and to put back to feed animals in the winter. All this keeps us busy, and is a frenzied Fall ritual for us. Don't get me wrong, we love our walnut trees despite the extra effort. They provide a cool canopy during the summer, food for animals and us through the seasons, and of course, help reverse the effects of global warming.

Here's a close-up of a green globe about to release a walnut to the ground. Sometimes, the green globes open up, and perfect walnuts fall to the ground (I collect those) - Other times, the green balls will fall to the ground and the squirrels will peel the green to expose the nut (it's theirs!). If I find a green globe, I toss it over the fence onto public land -- it'd be great if it grew, but that hasn't ever happened. Instead the birds, squirrels, and countless other animals enjoy the feast.

Here's some basil and tomatoes freshly picked from our garden.

We had the pleasure last weekend of getting to know a Celebrity Canadian Chef! "Who?" you may ask -- which is exactly what I asked when Art said he made friends with Chef Rob Rainford on the airplane. When Art told me, I didn't know who he was --- We don't have cable, so we had not seen his popular TV show; and we don't eat meat, so we had not heard of his cookbook. We put our differences in diet aside, and he came over to Art's studio to hang out with us after his gig. We had a great time getting to know such a fun and likeable guy!

This is 'Walnut Basil Pesto' from Vive le Vegan! pg. 111, and it's served over quinoa
pasta shells, with a sprig of fresh basil. The circle of walnuts represents 1 day's harvest from our walnut trees. I've also made 'Classic Pesto' from Vegan with a Vengeance pg. 132, which similarly features walnuts & basil, but the results are totally different. Vive's pesto is more creamy & perfect for tossing with pasta. VwaV's is more traditional and green, which I think is delicious with pasta as well as spread over a cracker as an appetizer.

PS: Tomorrow is Bananas Gorilla's Birthday!!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Shake & Make Soy Ice Cream

What You Will Need:
2 tbsp. Sugar
1/2 tbsp. Vanilla
1 pint-sized plastic zip bag
1 cup Vanilla Silk (my modification)
6 tbsp. Rock Salt
1 gallon-sized plastic zip bag
mulit-colored Sprinkles

How To Concoct It:
1. Fill the gallon-sized plastic bag half full with ice. Add rock salt and seal.
2. Pour sugar, soy milk, and vanilla into the pint-sized zip bag and seal.
3. Place the pint-sized zip bag into the gallon-sized zip bag and seal.
4. Shake the bag for 5-7 minutes. (Cuidado: Use hot mits, cuz your hands will get cold!)
5. Use scissors to snip a corner from the ice cream bag to squeeze onto the cone -- soft serve style.

Concoction Tips & Ideas:

* Make peppermint ice cream by adding 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract or 3 tbsp. of crushed peppermint stick.
* Try topping your ice cream with sprinkles like we did. Or go for nuts or fresh fruit.

For Olivia, this was the best kid treat we've made -- it even topped
Magic Monkey Bananas! You can see that she's at the end of her cone here, and she wanted more.

I've made the shake & make ice cream before with my classrooms, and it's a great edible science experiment kids love. But this is the first time I've attempted it with soy milk, and I think it was better because of the vanilla flavoring in the Silk.

I included this photo because I thought you might like to see how this "tale" ends....

Monday, September 25, 2006

Breakfast Ice Cream

Sometimes food is so delicious that you need two spoons to keep a steady rotation of intake. For Abi, this was one of those times.


1 Banana
1 C. Frozen Blueberries
1 C. Frozen Strawberries
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Olivia cracks me up! After the first lick, she says, "Mommy is that cold?" and I say, "Yes, it's breakfast ice cream." Replys with, "I'll need the sunglasses."

I agree with Liv --- this is the cold, creamy, fruity taste that we enjoy in ice cream on a sunglasses wearing sunny day -- except this is waay better than real ice-cream because:

it's freshly made each serving
it's healthy: packed with antioxidents, vitamins & minerals
it's cruelty-free because it's vegan
4. there are only four ingredients: and, you know where they came from

Plus, with this ice cream, it's so delicious that you kinda feel like you're getting away with something, especially eating it for breakfast. My reluctant fruit eater really digs into this entirely fruit dish!! It's simply brilliant!

Thank you to Gaia of Live It Up Vegan! for this recipe and the inspiration to make it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Kale is the "new" lettuce

I don't "hate" sandwiches. I like them well enough, and trust me, I've eaten my fair share of them -- usually as a last resort, mind you, like after crossing a desert. Which is literally true, because when we drive to CA, we try really hard to make Bishop before Erick Schat's closes because they make an amazing Veggie Sandwich. (it's hard to get fresh veggie food on the road!) But this is my sandwich story -- and this is my new high-water mark as far as sandwiches are concerned.

VwaV '
Tempeh Bacon' pg. 23 (cooked yesterday, cold from the fridge)
Tomato (organic, thin slices)
Kale (raw, hand-tear pieces from the spine)
Dijon Mustard (Woodstock Farms Organic)
Idaho Harvest Organic Golden Flax & Whole Grains Bread (Fresh & Local!)
Half of a California Avocado

I think kale is way better than lettuce in sandwiches. It has great flavor and really stands up to the sandwich squeezing & is prettier.

These are 'Lindsey's Peanut Butter Cupcakes' from La Dolce Vegan! pg. 239. They were delicious, we'll make them again & again.

This morning, I made Breakfast Ice Cream -- inspired by Gaia's post. Can't wait to share the photos with you -- it was a big hit! Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Spuds, Soup, & Sauces

Here's some of our famous Idaho Potatoes mashed with Earth Balance, Vanilla Silk, and Sea Salt. Served with 'Mi-So Good Gravy!' from The Everyday Vegan -- I omitted the ginger for personal preference. The gravy was tangy good and made friends with everybody on the plate. Also on the plate is 'Tempeh Bacon' from Vegan with a Vengeance.

Quick, Punk Heads! What's wrong with the ingredient line-up for the 'Tempeh Bacon'? What shouldn't be there? The vinegar. I figured it out in time that I needed apple cider -- we had some apple juice that worked fine. The tempeh is Turtle Island Five Grain, Jess says it's her favorite. I didn't have the recommended peanut oil, so I used sesame oil instead -- and I don't have liquid smoke, so I subbed agave nectar. This marinade is perfect, but next time I'll double the recipe because my 16 strips weren't all submerged. They marinated overnight with several careful flippings.

It rained the other day, so I made some soup. It was delicious, and I froze the left-overs.

2 C. uncooked Barley (cook b/f adding)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 White med. Onion
Olive Oil (saute garlic & onion b/f liquid)
1 Carton Imagine Organic Vegetable Broth
2 C. Water
1 Stalk Celery
2 C. Carrots
1 Red Bell Pepper
3 Leaves Kale
1/4 C. Tamari
16 oz. Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp. Hoisin Sauce
1 Tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 Tsp. Cumin

These are 'Carrot-Raisin Muffins' from Vegan with a Vengeance. I really like these muffins and even ate several the next day. Too bad the girls didn't care for them -- I'm not surprised with Liv, but Abi usually likes everything. Oh well, can't win them all, and we'll try another kind next time.

It was dinner for just myself, and this is what I chose. A cup of guacamole (avocado, tomato, garlic, lime, cilantro, cayenne pepper, sea salt) and a cup of black-eyed pea chipotle dip (blk eyed peas, tomato paste, onion, chipotle pepper, cilantro, garlic, lemon, cumin) from the Sept. 18 issue of
Meatout Mondays. For dipping, I have fresh celery and homemade pita chips (WW pita bread cut into wedges, brush on olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake @ 350* for 10 minutes)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Polka Dot Rice & Pregnant

We got home yesterday from our 40 Watt Hype groupie tour - one day later than our plan. (I saw 3, & Art saw 4 performances) Our car broke down outside Sacramento. It wouldn't start after a meal break, so we called AAA, and we all rode on a big, yellow tow truck to the car doctor, loosing about 5 hours. After that, we couldn't make it home, so we spent the night in "beautiful" downtown Winnemucca, Nevada. We kept clicking our ruby red shoes, "There's no place like home, There's no place..." Thinking of "The Wizard of Oz" -- have you ever watched it with the TV volume off and listening to Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon?"

In the above photo, you see red bell peppers, carrots, peas, corn, and scallions all prepped and ready for the kids to make 'Polka Dot Rice' from "Salad People" by Mollie Katzen. It was mixed with jasmine rice, and served with broccoli, strawberry, and a Morningstar Chik'n Nugget. Olivia loved deciding what to mix in with her rice -- another success from this charming cookbook. I can't wait for "Pretend Soup" to arrive in the mail...

Abigail is proud of her skill sets with a spoon and fork --- but, let's face it, some things are most efficiently obtained by grabbing with your hand. Polka dot rice falls in that category.

My friend, Lora, who we threw the
baby shower for came by for a visit recently. In this photo, she is at 39 weeks -- today, she is overdue by 2 days. I can't wait to meet Marcus! For another lovely belly-shot, visit Melody.

What do you do when this shows up at your door?

Make cookies, of course. This is what remained of Dreena's 'Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies' after the pregnant lady left! From Vive le Vegan! pg. 131 --- as if you didn't know already! :o)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

La Bicyclette & Les Legumes Vert

This is how we spent the morning -- on bikes with the cool-cloudy breeze all around, rushing river beside us, and the green tree canopy overhead. It was lovely. We packed a picnic of water and pb&j sandwiches and apples.

Smoothies are the best after some exercise. In the glass is a great blend of:

Fresh --- pineapple, peach, mango, banana, OJ
Frozen --- strawberries, water (ice!)

I also made 'Peanut Butter Cupcakes' from La Dolce Vegan! pg. 239 - We were pretty hungry, and they disappeared quickly sans photo. I'm still confused about the differences between muffins and cupcakes. What are the rules?

It was a bicyclin' kind of day, so we popped this inexpensive bottle of French red. It went perfectly with...

a green salad! This bowl consisted of:

Butter Lettuce
Red Butter Lettuce
Red Bell Pepper
Green Onion
Tomatoes (from the garden!)

Kale might be our favorite vegetable (we prefer VwaV 'Garlicky Kale' pg. 120) and I still had some Asian Tempest garlic around. You also see steamed asparagus & red bell pepper, which was added to the veats bites when they were finished cooking. There's also collard greens, which we think turns out best in the rice cooker with a little water and earth balance & sea salt -- that's it! Art cooked the Veats Bites with a small amout of basic bbq sauce. This is our favorite kind of meal --- Green!

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Crunchy Fruity Granola

This is a new cookbook of ours by Mollie Katzen. The inside is just as delightful as the cover. It's written with Katzen's creative style featuring cute illustrations, charming kid quotes, special kid recipes with instructional sketches, and insightful tips for adults on how to enjoy cooking with preschoolers. It's awesome.

Each recipe has two sets of instructions - one for the adult and another for the preschooler. Here you see the preschooler's recipe for 'Crunchy Fruity Granola' featuring numbered box steps, each with a basic picture and a few key words or numbers. Perfect for a preschooler to read and even lead the way.

Mollie says, "Take the stress out of measuring liquids by placing the measuring cup in a pie pan. Let your child pour or spoon the oil into the measuring cup. The pie pan will catch the spills." Isn't that a terrific tip? We also used the pie pan for the dry ingredients. Liv really enjoyed the freedom of not having me helping her be careful.

She stirred the dry ingredients in the biggest bowl we have.

Our granola had: almond slices, chopped cashews, raisins, and dried cranberries + blueberries. We followed the recipe exactly, except I used agave nectar instead of honey.

How many of you stir the dry ingredients WHILE you stir the wet?!

I used parchment paper instead of nonstick spray, and it worked fine. Not using honey, I anticipated that the granola wouldn't clump together, and it didn't. What chunks there are, fall apart quickly. Other than missing the convenience of popping nuggets in your mouth, it didn't matter. It tasted great, and the girls Loved it. I was super surprised that Liv actually went bonkers over it. She rarely goes bonkers over food. So, I 'd put it in a cup for her and she'd eat it that way -- on the go.

This is what happens if you forget to bring the cup back inside.

TAH DAH! Our Crunchy Fruity Granola.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Lentil & Carrot Soup with Seitan

Fall was in the air a couple days ago, and so soup was in order. The plan was set when I saw a 3-pack of cannonballs at the store - I thought of Leslie's bread bowls and wanted to try. It was fun making up this recipe, and it was so delicious that it's worth noting -- goes like this:

2 C. Red Lentils
6 C. Water
8 Carrots, cut in circles
1 Yellow Onion, super-finely chopped
1/2 Garlic, finely chopped (Asian Tempest)
1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Braggs Liquid Aminos
1 Tbsp. Hoisin Sauce
2 Tsp. Blackstrap Molasses
2 Tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 Tsp. Cumin
1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper

Bring it all to a boil on med/high. Cover & reduce the heat to low. I let the soup simmer on the stove most of the day, making the house smell so good!

I carved out the cannonballs, saving the bread for dipping. Then, I topped it off with some seitan I had in the freezer -- the soy vay marinated, which we prefer.

And look, I "discovered" a new variety of garlic! This is Asian Tempest. The skin is more redish, and the cloves are BIG - one half of the entire garlic is only 3 cloves. The best part is that the skins come off effortlessly. It has a wonderfully strong flavor. I prefer this over the "regular" garlic, and the farmer's market vendor sold it for $1 per/globe. There were other kinds of garlic that I'll be checking into next Saturday.

Anybody else rock the Asian Tempest Garlic?

Monday, September 4, 2006

Pancakes with Blueberry Maple Syrup & Sweet Potato Fries with Mango Sauce

Perk up your pancakes with 'Blueberry Maple Syrup' next time the griddle is hot -- the recipe's in Vive le Vegan, pg. 2o. This is the beginning of a simple recipe that'll make your pancakes and tummy happy. I love the color of blueberries....almost as much as the flavor.

The syrup topped 'Pancakes' from VwaV, page. 31. I omitted the optional cinnamon, and used vanilla soy milk instead of plain. I didn't do either of the 2 variations to this recipe, and kept it simple for the girls. Isa says, "Straight up pancakes, just like at the diner at 2.00 AM." The left-over cakes keep well in the fridge & are ideal for snacking through-out the day. Spread some peanutbutter on one, add a slice of banana and you have a little sandwich my kids love.

Though, Liv prefers hers plain --- AND, so does Jolie! If I had taken this photo a half second later, there'd only be one pancake. Luckily, there were more cakes to go around. She's such a good dog, and by all rights, that one was hers -- just look how close the pancake is to Jolie's nose.

These are 'Sweet Potato Fries' also from VwaV, page 114. In the bowl is my pretty successful attempt at duplicating a most fantastic dipping sauce served at a restaurant in town, PAIR, with their yam fries. We go there frequently on Saturday nights, and usually order the yam fries with THE mango sauce. I've asked a couple times if they'd part with the recipe -- each time, "No," accompanied with an are you kidding? look. This weekend, one of the servers gave it up! and so easily. I'd almost given up asking, but she was a new face, so I gave it a whirl. She shamelessly rattled off the recipe for me. Such a doll, and smart -- she knows how to work the tips! Below is my homemade, veganized version:


1 Mango, finely chopped
1/4 C. Nayonaise
1 Tbsp. Sriracha Sauce

Combine it all and Chill. Call it your new fry sauce.

Does anybody else cook with Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce?