Category Archives: Cooking

Preservation

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As my generation (X) comes into full adulthood and starts making a noticeable dent in the world, I’ve noticed a trend – a firm rejection of consumerism and the adoption of what I like to call a “Victory Garden Lifestyle”.  I feel like a lot of us are returning – going back to making things, making do, being more self-sufficient.  More of us are homesteading, sewing, knitting, crocheting, raising chickens, reducing, reusing, recycling, repairing … making things, making do and making better lives for ourselves.

The blogging subject of “Return” for this month’s NaBloPoMo seemed to mesh really well with what I’ve been thinking about along these lines, and in addition to talking about my own return (to these values and to my creative self) I wanted to take a look at some of these Victory Garden Lifeskills.

We’ve started gardening more and one thing I’ve struggled with is preservation.  We try to cook as we go to use what we grow (a rhyme, haha! ^_^)  but there’s always more than we can use.  Now, some I can freeze and some I can dehydrate (I’ve got a dehydrator.) but the next logical step, in my mind is canning.  Interestingly enough, I’ve run across two references to canning I thought I’d share.

Firstly, check out this awesome video about Classie Parker I found browsing Etsy the other day.  Have you seen this bit of awesomeness?

There’s a nice little writeup and a canning recipe here on Etsy’s blog.

Soulemama also wrote a great intro to canning I really love.  In it she lists helpful books, websites and then adds her own tips and thoughts.  I highly recommend it.  It also has lots of pretty pictures at the top. XD

I’m looking for more resources – if I find something Soulemama didn’t list, I’ll add it here.

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Too Many Radishes

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A Smattering of Radishes

Just a small, small portion of my radish stash - these have been topped and tailed.

See, what happens when your father-in-law and husband take over the garden plotting is you end up with – amongst other things – not enough of some things and too many of other things. Radishes, in this case. At least, that’s how it worked out this year, for us. I have bags full, and many of them are too old, simply because there *are* so many. So since somehow *I’m* the person responsible for creating a Radish Plan to deal with the Situation, I’ve been scouring the net looking for possible recipes. These are the best candidates right now, that I plan on trying out this week.

Small list, good for a start. (Sigh.) If anyone wanders through here and has another (frugal food) suggestion, I’m all ears.  Or in this case, roots.

More Cooking Goodness…

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Vegan Apple Bread

Well, things are still a bit hectic, so another quick post here.  I did a bit of baking recently in an attempt to use up some aging produce. Firstly I made apple bread, using a veganized recipe from shannonsrunning blog.  Nice and straight-forward, this bread baked up a treat and used up three ratty, withered apples I had lying around.  I think if I make it again, though I’ll probably try to sort out cutting down the sugar – I don’t think it needed to be as sweet as it turned out.

Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Same day, I also made a couple of loaves of chocolate zucchini bread.  (I had a couple of ratty zucchini’s that needed using up.)  These loaves were really good – full of walnuts and chocolatey goodness, but probably could have used the chocolate chips called for – the bread wanted to fall apart a bit – seems like chocolate chips might have helped keep it together.  In any case, it’s a great recipe, ‘though do be advised it makes 2 loaves.

Slice o Goodness

(Please excuse the pics – really need a new camera, I guess. :P)

Quick Cookie Post

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I took some quick snapshots (using my old camera) of the cookies I took to a friend’s Thanksgiving party.  (I made pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, too, but totally forgot to photograph them.  They were good, but very rich!)  Please forgive the first blurry pic – I didn’t realize how bad a pic it was until the, um, evidence was gone. 😉

These are The Best and Easiest Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe found at VegWeb.com.  This is a very simple recipe, and I think that I’m going to try to make it xGFx (gluten-free) soon – should be easy as the recipe only calls for half a cup of flour as it is.

Gotta run – need to sort out lunch supplies for this coming school week – my latest crochet projects will have to wait until later I suppose.

Have a great Sunday!

Yum!

Recent Food Explorations [NaBloPoMo]

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I’m struggling with what I believe are gluten issues this week.  If I’m right, it explains an awful lot.  I’ll probably be heading over to the doc as soon as I can manage it this week.  Here’s hoping.

If I do have to go gluten free, I’m a bit bummed about what that will mean for baking and other culinary pursuits.  Both Kittee (over at Cake Maker to the Stars) and Mary (over at Mitten Machen) have extensively documented their struggles to make vegan xGFx (gluten-free) baked goods (crusts, breads, etc.).  Other vegan and xGFx blogs can be found out there (the following taken from this PPK thread):

I’m still exploring these.

I have to say, I am VERY interested in pursuing a potential diagnosis – something I’m sure I’ll blog further on this month.  I do have some concerns tho – the most major being what looks to be the greater expense of trying to eat gluten-free – xanthan gum is 12 bucks at the local grocery, for instance.  I guess I should just be stoked they have it at all – it’s a small grocery.

On a totally opposite note, the local grocery chain in the area is carrying Gardein brand vegan meat analogs.  Everything we’ve tried is really fabulous.  I’ve some concerns that it won’t last, tho – they’ve already dropped the price on them.  On the other hand, if I go gluten free, I guess it won’t matter to me personally.  My oldest will be sorry, though.

Marinara Chick'n Good Stuff

Marinara Chick'n Good Stuff - the current fav - vegan cheez!!!!

We also made Whoopie Pies from My Sweet Vegan. They were OK, but need a lot of work before I’d be satisfied with them. I think the cookies should have been much smaller, for instance. Overall, I was surprised at the meh-factor – I’ve never made anything by Ms. Hannah I didn’t love – guess there’s a first time for everything.

Cake. [NaBloPoMo]

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Mmmm - cake....Ok, so it may not be a very glamorous shot – I didn’t have time to do any more than take a quick point-and-shoot photo the day I made this – but I did mention making Orange Dreamsicle Snack Cake.  I really wish I’d gotten a better pic, because it’s really yum.  Really rich, but really yum.

It just so happened that the day I got My Sweet Vegan I had all the ingredients for this decadent cake.  I felt it was Fate.  So, way later in the evening than I should have, I set to making this, much to the eventual delight of my family:

solomon_n_cake

Ahem.  Silly boy.  Seriously, though – I’ve yet to make something of Hannah‘s and not really enjoy it.  This morning I made her Chocolate Chickpea Spread to spread over some left-over ciabatta bread I’d toasted.  I’d share my picture of said toast, but I totally forgot I was wearing a bandaid when I was holding it to be photographed.  o.0  Not so lovely.  Her pics are much lovlier.  The spread was good, too. ^_^

Birthday Goodies, Part Deux… [NaBloPoMo]

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To continue…assuming anyone’s reading this somewhat self-indulgent display of received gifts. ^_-

Just like last year I got a gift certificate from my folks to Amazon, and also just like last year I spent a couple of weeks deciding what I wanted.  Totally skipped anything practical this year (I’d feel guilty, but due to a family emergency I’d already cashed a birthday check for quick survival money.  :P) and ordered a slew of crochet and cooking related books for myself.  Well – almost nothing practical.  I spent *some* money ordering replacement rechargeable batteries – my beloved-but-unobservant husband threw them away in a dumpster whilst taking photos at a client’s site – he hadn’t realized they were in the camera! o.0

Soo – what did I get?

Crochet Goodies

Crochet Book Goodies

Hooked Scarves: 20 Easy Crochet Projects by Margaret Hubert (she has a blog here).  I also bagged onto another of her books, Hooked Throws: 20 Easy Crochet Projects.  These look like fun patterns, and I look forward to trying them out, though I guess I’m looking at a lot of veganizing yarn choices for a lot of them.  Also, it took me paging through the throw book to really grok how much yarn a throw/afghan takes. o.0 Yowza.

I also picked up a highly-reviewed out of print book – The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Crochet Projects Illustrated by Marcy Smith.  It’s got some really different patterns in it, and lovely clear pictures on how to do basic stitches, etc, but most of the projects don’t really catch my interest.  Also – there are lots of projects with things like felting, etc, which really won’t work for me as a vegan crocheter.  So, while it’s a fun addition to my library and I will undoubtedly use it, I probably wouldn’t get it if I had it to do over again.

Crochet:  The Complete GuideOn the other sauce, under the category of Completely AwesomeSauce – I picked up a copy of Crochet the Complete Guide.  This is an AmaZing book – I highly recommend it – basic practical stuff at the beginning, plus lots of stitch references and some basic patterns in the back.  This is going to be a book I use FreQuently – do check it out, whether you’re a noob like me or a master crocheter – I really think you’ll like it!!

My final crochet-related gift was the Boye Beginners Crochet Kit, which I bought for  the kit goodies, really, and not the book.  The basic instructions are great in this book, but I’d be *very* careful if I ordered it from a Seller on Amazon, etc.  The copy I got that was supposed to be “new” was the older pattern guide from the 80’s and not the newer one.  Frankly, however, it was too much hassle to complain. 😛  Like I said, glad to have picked up the hooks and stitch markers, ‘though the latter are a bit hard to use in my clumsy fingers.

Anyhoo, moving on to some happier Book Goodness:

Vegan Cookbooks

Vegan Cookbooks

These two have been on my want list forever, and it seemed like a good opportunity to pick ’em up, especially as I *do* need to feed my peeps everyday.  Well, I guess My Sweet Vegan is more of an indulgence, but there are good recipes for things like French toast, rolls, muffins and the like.  However, I will own up and share that as I had all the ingredients, I made Orange Dreamsicle Snack Cake first.  (I’ll post about that another time, as this post is starting to draw on, and I *did* sign up for NaBloPoMo for November. o.0  Gotta have *something* to post about all those days….)  ANYhoo – if you’d like to know more about Hannah Kaminsky, check out her blog, BitterSweet.  She’s got some fun free crochet  and knit patterns there, in addition to lovely recipes and just good food blogging.

Last but not least, I picked up Vegan BrunchIsa Chandra Moskowitz‘s latest.  If you’ve not tried ’em – her cookbooks are the bomb – I highly recommend them.  My only grouse is sometimes the ingredients are hard to find – she’s lived in the NYC area most of her life (now Portland, OR), so her perspective on what’s easy to find is a bit skewed. ^_-  It looks fab – lots of yummy stuff in there.  I’ve not had a chance to make anything other than banana flapjacks, but those were insanely good – didn’t even manage pics before they disappeared!

This was a fab haul!  Thanks Mom & Dad – much love!!!!