Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another Huge Post! & Some First-time Foods!

I did so much cooking this week... and everyday I thought "I gotta blog tonight!"... but instead, I've got another gigantoid mega post. I hope it's not too overwhelming for all you readers! :)

Look at that cute little nose! That's my super sweet kitty.

I guess it really is shifting into autumn, because I've been wearing socks and thinking about soup. About three days ago, we went - literally overnight - from flip flops and tank tops to scarves and fleeces! So... tonight I made a HUGE pot of delicious minestrone soup. It's so good. It's based on the "Classic Minestrone Soup" from "Vegan Mediterranean Kitchen." I love that cookbook. It's got homemade broth, shell pasta, kale, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, green beans, tomatoes, herbs, potatoes, summer squash, and cabbage. Mmmm! It really hit the spot.

Musty's been out of town this weekend... so I've been eating lots of kale! YUM. These are the Porcini Pesto & Tofu Ricotta ravioli that I made a while back. They've been hiding out in the freezer waiting for me to eat them. They are super flavorful and salty on their own, so I just drizzled on a tiny bit of olive oil and ate tham like that.
Some time last week I finally busted this Tofurky out of the freezer and into the oven! I got this Tofurky a long while back - the whole "tofurky meal" was $.99 How could I pass that up? Well... in truth, even with such a good deal, it was a far cry from our favorite meal of the week. Tofurky is generally okay, but after eating so many whole foods, it tastes super processed to me. The "dumplings" were a bit odd - sweet and of undetermined origin. Of course I made up a big bowl of roasted veggies too, and that was our favorite part of the dinner. If you're ever looking for a quick premade "roast" thingee, I can't say I'd recommend the Tofurkey dinner - instead I'd definitely recommend the Celebration Field Roast. Now that little baby is tasty!

Check out this lovely plate of bell peppers that we munched on this week... red, yellow, and purple!
We're getting SO MANY delicious cherry tomatoes from our garden... so I made a wonderful pasta sauce with loads of cherry tomatoes.

I also made an old favorite dish of ours... Beet Risotto. This is from "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison. This wasn't the best batch because my beets weren't fresh enough... so it wasn't as intensely BEETY as it sometimes is. Still, if you like beets, I really recommend this recipe.

A fun food first! We have a nice veg restaurant near our house called Dharma's. They have a Tempeh Reuben Sandwich on the menu, which I had heard good things about. However, I had never tasted sauerkraut before, and I had never even had a "genuine" Reuben sandwich... So I was nervous about trying something new. But! You only live once! So I took the plunge! And, I have to say I really loved it and I will definitely order it again. Yumola!


Another Food First! I made a delicious batch of Bhindi Masala - my first time ever cooking with okra! And.... it turned out so well! I used this recipe, and it was pretty easy to follow. A few tips - "jeera" = cumin seeds. Also, it takes about 35 minutes, not ten minutes. And the cooking part at the end, I did for 20 min, rather than 10 min. I really recommend this recipe. Very good & easy.

So, how many times could I look at Celine's blog before breaking down?! It was bound to happen. These are her amazing peanut butter cookies... and they were SO FREAKING GOOD. They're thick and moist and flavorful... I was having some sort of peanut butter cookie cravings and these buddies really hit the spot.

Our apple tree is very busy right now! Making lots and lots of apples. The warm winter and summer that we had this year was very good for fruit production and pretty much all fruit trees around here are going nuts. But, they're also early. I just happened to go out behind Musty's guitar workshop, where the apple tree lives, and there were a bunch of apples on the ground! Just to give you an idea, in the past I have made our family's Thanksgiving pies with apples from our tree. Whoa!

As I'm sure some of you know, an apple tree is quite a blessing, but it sure can keep you busy. I go out once every few days, pick up the rotten ones, and sort out the salvagable ones. I have to cut out lots of worms and bugs and rotten bits. Usually I make applesauce, but there is only so much applesauce you can eat in a year. One of my friends gave me a new idea...

Canned Apple Pie Filling! How fun is that!? Now I've got three apple pies just waiting to go...

One of my favorite things about moderating a Yoga Book Club, is that every time we get together I get to do a bunch of baking! I've had my eye on these for a while, and they were super delicious... they're Celine's Black Forest Cookies. Thanks for so many amazing recipes Celine - you ROCK!
In addition to the cookies, I also made a "Fresh Apple Cake" for bookclub. WOW. This recipe is from a book called "Quick Vegetarian Pleasures." I think "QVP" was the first cookbook I ever bought and it was one of my very favorites for many years. It's pretty heavy on cheese, but I still find that most of the recipes are just as good without the cheese. In any case, this cake was easy to veganize - all I needed was some EnerG egg replacer instead of 3 eggs & I was good to go.
It's a really good cake - and it uses up 5 apples, so that's important too! It's a super moist and delicious cake... you put in some batter, layer on some apples, more batter, more apples, and more batter. I had some trouble getting it out of the bundt pan... but I pieced it together & it was so insanely good that no one cared. Ha!

Maybe I'll actually post a few times this week... but either way, next weekend I'm heading up to the San Francisco Vegetarian Society's big World Vegetarian Day celebration. I haven't been able to go in the past, so I am really looking forward to it! I'll be sure to blog about that in full detail.

24 comments:

  1. I need to make some soup! I was thinking lentil, but minestrone sure sounds good!

    Those peppers look amazing! I adore red bell peppers!

    I went to Dharma's not that long ago, I couldn't believe the portion sizes; it's ridiculous! I actually felt sick after eating there, haha.

    I'm SO jealous of all your apples! I eat an apple just about every day, yum! Apple cake?! double yum!

    You're going to the Veg Day Fest?! I'm going on Saturday! Actually, our vegan brunch is that morning around 11:30am, if you have any interest in joining us, I'd *love* to have you! We're walking to the celebration after we chow down! Either way, it'd be great to meet you!

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  2. your pictures are killing me! especially that apple cake! but the one that gets the, ha, cake? the kitty nose! there's nothing better than kitty noses.
    I need to quit overusing exclamation points, don't I?
    and yay, I'm so glad you liked the cookies. :D

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  3. Wow what a great post! Even with the worms and bruises and such I'm very envious of your apple tree! What kind of apples are they? Another idea for you to use them up is to make apple butter. I haven't tried this but it sounds easy enough.

    I love okra but have failed miserably when trying to cook it myself. The Ethiopian restaurants around here are way better at it.

    Oh the SF veg festival!- you're going to love it! It's a little bit smaller than I anticipated the first time- but there's lots of great stuff. Plus it's at the park- one awesome spot. I'll be going on Saturday so feel free to contact me if you want to meet up! (lil_mayer04@yahoo.com)

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  4. your posts always inspire me to eat better!!!

    lovely plate of bell peppers !

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  5. oh, wow. Actually, I am overwhelmed, but in the best way possible. I want to make everything! That apple cake is going on my list and okra...I haven't done anything with okra in forever and it's such a lovely veg. Yum. Everything looks delicious and you are to be commended for all of your work with the apples. I know they're a lot of work!

    I'm going apple picking soon and I keep thinking...apple crisp, apple fritters, apple pie, apple strudel, roasted applesauce, poached apples, candy apples...I love them and sometimes do wish I had a tree, but then I remember that bounty can be wearisome in its own way.

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  6. Wow! What an awesome post! I do love the kitty nose ;-)

    And I must try some of those cookies. But what I really want to do is make that apple pie filling. What recipe did you use? We don't have an apple tree but we do have the orchard just down the street from us and we're going there lots this year.

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  7. Those apples look divine! And I've never heard of beet risotto - cool!

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  8. Wow, that is a lot of apples! I never considered how much work an apple tree would be, or any fruit tree for that matter. I guess that is just part of living in Ontario - not having to consider what a hassle fruit trees would be! Another idea to use up those apples is apple butter. I have never made it, but I hear it is quite easy, and so yummy. The pie filling is a great idea though.

    I wish I liked beets, that risotto is so beautiful.

    I have been craving peanut butter cookies, so I just might have to make those tomorrow. I think I will leave out the whiskey though!

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  9. all of these pics are awesome. thanks for sharing. the minestrone soup looks so right on. i have been thinking about getting that Vegan Mediterranean Kitchen for a long time now. maybe i will now???
    and that cake!!! oh my goodness. i wish i could have a slice.

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  10. I made a nonvegan fresh apple cake for my mom a couple of weeks ago and I've wanted to make a vegan version. I didn't think a 3 egg recipe could be properly veganized, but you certainly made a beautiful cake!

    I've been craving sauerkraut lately! Maybe because it's almost Octoberfest around here. (Austin was originally settled by Germans.)

    I have The Med. Vegan cookbook and I have noticed the minestrone recipe. It's still 90 degrees here and I don't want summer to leave yet, so I'm going to wait as long as possible before I make soup.

    The apple pie filling is a fantastic idea!

    Thanks for the germ info for Chase. He is feeling much better and appreciates your well wishes.

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  11. Hi Melisser,
    Oh boo hoo, I am going to the Veg Fest on Sunday. It's kind of a lame excuse, but my dog is graduating from doggie training class on that Saturday, and I don't want to miss it. But I don't want to miss out on an opportunity to come to one of your amazing brunches either!!

    Hi Celine!
    I am all! about! exclamation! points!

    Hi Maybe Pigs Can Fly
    Oh dear - two fancy fun SF bloggers are both going on Saturday... and I'll be there on Sunday. What a stinker. but I still think we should have a bay area blogger brunch!

    Thanks Johanna3!!

    Hi Emilie,
    Nice to get some good apple ideas off of you. Apple strudel sounds like a fun thing to make... hmmm!

    Hi Chris!
    I used this recipe for canning the apple pie filling (I used cornstarch instead of "clear jel")
    http://www.canningusa.com/IfICanYouCan/PieFillingApple.htm

    Hi Tracy,
    yes, beet risotto is bright and beautiful!

    Hi Judy,
    I've thought of apple butter... but also never tried it. Maybe I will hunt down a recipe and try that next. Sounds fun.

    Hi Pleasantly Plump!
    (that's fun to say). Yes, I really recommend Vegan Med Kitchen. It's a great cookbook filled entirely with recipes made of whole foods. There are no "weird" or unusual ingredients. For this reason, I have also found that this is a very good book to give to family members or friends who aren't sure what to make for you as a vegan.

    Hi ATxVegan!
    I remember that I used to think that anything with more than 2 eggs couldn't be veganized... but somewhere along the line I just started going for it anyway - and this cake turned out great. Glad to hear that Chase is feeling better.

    :) Amey

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  12. I am overwhelmed, but in a good way! I especially like seeing what you're doing with apples. I have a glut that need to be used up!

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  13. I ALWAYS look forward to reading your posts - they're all fabulous, but the long ones are the best!! :0)

    your minestrone soup and ravioli look like such perfect meals for autumn; and while the tofurky feast ($0.99?? what a deal!!) LOOKS good, I agree that the Celebration Field Roast is INFINITELY tastier; your pasta with the cherry tomatoes (fresh from your garden! the best kind!) looks scrumptious; wow, I've never had beet risotto - so vibrant!; that Dharma's restaurant sounds like a winner - such a delicious-looking sandwich!; mmm, the Bhindi Masala looks great too - I haven't had okra in a long time, but this recipe sounds like a good opportunity to try it again; isn't Celine amazing?? her recipes (ESPECIALLY the baked good recipes) are phenomenal; an apple tree certainly is a blessing - I wish I had one in my own yard, but I do go apple-picking at a local farm; canned apple pie filling??? awesome!; mmm, that apple cake is a delicious way to end this post full of delectable food!

    have fun at the World Vegetarian Day celebration!! looking forward to your post about that! :0)

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  14. Whew! It all looks great. Apple pie filling is such a fun thing to preserve. Voila, fresh apple pie anytime!! Can't wait to hear all aobut Veg Day! :)

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  15. The long post was worth waiting for :-) All of the food looks delicious. Thanks for the review of Tofurky. I have been trying to decide if I want to give it a shot this holiday season. I've had the field roast and really enjoyed it, so maybe I'll stick with that or make my own!

    Wish I could transport some of your ravioli into my freezer!! Um, and I'll take a piece of that cake too, nice job veganizing it!

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  16. I just found your blog...wow! Everything looks so great! Isn't it amazing how quickly fall appears, and we go from not wanting to use the oven at all, to suddenly wanting everything to be warm and comforting? I'm all about the soups right now, and your minestrone looks so good too! All the food looks so good, and the kitty nose is too cute. :)

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  17. I am really coveting your apples right now... Those jars of pie filling look so tasty!

    I am so excited that you tried bhindi masala--I had it once and loved it, and it's been in the back of my mind ever since to try my hand at making it, as my next Indian cooking venture. Maybe that time is now!

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  18. nice nose and nice food! :)

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  19. wow, so much delicious-looking food! My eye doesn't know where to focus first!

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  20. Your pictures look so good I am hungry again, and I just ate! The cake and especially Celine's cookies look fantastic :o)

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  21. wow! so many goodies! i'm especially intrigued by your cake!

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  22. I went to the vegfest today, Dan Piraro was awesome! It's such a tiny event though!

    If you get a chance, email me at melisser AT gmail.com - maybe we can meet up?

    Also, apples- I made a cabbage & apple slaw- SO good! I used a vinegar based recipes versus a creamy one. I took it to the brunch today & it went over well.

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  23. Oh, it all looks so good, especially the apple cake! And I love the pic of kitty's nose!

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  24. Ah, I am a big fan of giant posts!

    Especially ones chock full of yumminess- I love love love apple cake. My mom used to make apple cake when I was little and I definitely need to try to make it now. Am also a huge fan of tempeh reubens- if you are ever in NYC, I will take you to Sacred Chow for a yummy reuben!

    My most favorite thing about this post? Yes, indeed- kitty nose. Too cute.

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