Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Schwagstock 40

Schwagstock 40

May 22-24, Memorial Day Weekend
Camp Zoe, MO

More peace, love, music, and camping!

I will be going to this one. I hope to see you there!

For more info: http://www.campzoe.com/schwagstock40.html

Here are some photos from my awesome adventure at Schwag:

This is me, grooving the night away in front of a cozy fire (not pictured, lol).

Me, and my best friend (you may know her as the Wandering Hen), and her brother.

Hanging out in the sunshine. I love South Missouri!

Me and my friend, dipping our feet into the Current River. The Current River is part of the Ozark Scenic Riverways in Missouri. It's a beautiful, clear river with a white rocky bottom. This particular bend is nice and shallow. It was still too cold to swim, but it felt great on my feet!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sticky Buns!

I made these amazing vegan cinnamon rolls for my omni friend's birthday. She loved them! They're really not that hard to make, and if you'd like, you can top them with some sort of glaze or cream cheeze frosting. We just ate them plain, and they're real good with a hot cup of coffee! Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups warm soymilk (110 degrees F)
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 pkgs)
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 Tbs. vegan margarine, melted
a little less than 1/2 Tb. salt
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. vegan margarine
2 1/4 c. cinnamon
1/4 c. sliced almonds (opt.)

In a large bowl, mix warm soymilk, yeast, and sugar. Add 2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly. Mix in melted vegan margarine and salt. Stir in 1 more cup unbleached flour. Flour a flat surface and knead a few times (dough will be soft). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 45 minutes).

On a floured surface, roll dough out to about 1/4 in. thickness in a rectangle. Spread the vegan margarine all over the surface, followed by the brown sugar, cinnamon, and almonds. Be sure to leave about 1/4 in. edge. Using the long side, roll up the dough in a jelly roll-like fashion and smooth dough to seal. Using dental floss, cut into 12 rolls. Place on a sprayed baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let rise another 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. As soon as I take them out of the oven I usually flip the rolls over to let them cool. This helps keeps the delicious ooze from running out all over the pan. Flip them back over when they're cool. Top with a glaze, if desired.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Salad Daze

All I've been wanting is salad, salad, smoothies, salad, salad, grapefruit out the wazoo, and more salad. This is one of my favorites. To save time and money, I bake my own tofu and cook the rice ahead of time. I also waited patiently until the salad greens and mixed veggies went down in price. Yesterday I went out and stocked up on fruits, veggies, and tofu. Everything I bought was on sale for very good prices. I was so happy! I plan on eating delicious meal-sized salads for the next month. The weather got cold again, so eating all these fresh greens is a nice way to put a little spring back in my life. This particular salad is simple, tasty, and by far one of my favorites. It's also quite easy to make it into a whole meal for only a few calories (gotta work on that winter pudge).
Simple Asian Salad ("simple" because it doesn't use any fancy dressings)

Baked Asian-style tofu, diced
Leftover rice, quinoa, or other grain of choice
Red onions, thinly sliced
Red pepper, thinly sliced
Sliced almonds
Mandarin oranges, each segment halved
Mixed salad greens (I like to use a mix of frisee, baby romaine, baby spinach, mache, parsley, etc. No iceburg for me).

Feel free to add:
Some thinly sliced carrot
Thinly sliced celery
Snow peas

I like to layer mine up then I sprinkle it with just a little bit of tamari and rice vinegar for flavor.

When made using: 4 oz. baked, marinated tofu; 1/4 c. no-sugar-added mandarin oranges, 1/2 Tb. sliced almonds, 1/2 c. cooked rice, and 1/2 Tb. tamari over about 3-4 c. mixed greens, you're only looking at about 400 calories. This salad makes a great lunch. If I get hungry later on in the day around 3 or so, I usually follow this up with a healthy smoothie. Delicious.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Peanut Butter Monster Cookies!

I'm not gonna lie. These are probably the best cookies I've eaten in a long time (not including my Flarts, that is). To me, a Monster cookie contains a variety of goodies. In this case, I filled the cookies with oats, nuts and coconut. You won't eveb be able to tell they're vegan!

These peanut butter wonders are best eaten warm with a nice glass of soymilk!

NOTE: The peanut butter I use is Skippy All-Natural creamy. It already has sugar in it. If you're using peanut butter that's basically smashed peanuts and oil (check the label) you will probably want to add some additional sugar. But that's up to you.

Also feel free to leave out the pecans, coconut, and cocoa and substitute with 1 c. vegan chocolate chips. Or leave all the extras out and make regular, old-fashioned peanut butter cookies.

1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. rolled or old-fashioned oats (though I'm pretty sure I used quick)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/4 c. oil
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 Tb. milled flax seed + 5 Tb. hot water
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. chopped pecans
3 Tb. unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tb. cocoa

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl or cup, combine the milled flax seed and the hot water. Stir; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, shortening, and oil with a mixer until it's smooth and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and mix until it's well combined. Add the flax seed/water mixture and the vanilla to the brown sugar mixture and beat until smooth.

Beat in the flour mixture until combined. Add the pecans, coconut, and cocoa and stir until well mixed (I add the cocoa and this step in order to give the dough a nice peanut butter/chocolate swirl look).

Make tablespoon-sized balls of dough and place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2-3 inches apart. Press down to about 1/2-inch thickness with a fork (you won't know they have peanut butter in them unless they have the fork marks!).

Bake about 12 minutes, or until cookies are golden and dry on top. Cool on the baking sheet a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Quick Pineapple Quinoa Stir-Fry

This was very, very good. It will definitely be a repeat recipe around this house! The sweetness from the pineapple and the hint of BBQ from the hoisin sauce go very well together. By using leftover quinoa and chopped veggies, this recipe can be assembled very quickly.

1 c. leftover quinoa
1/2 block of extra-firm tofu
1/2 red pepper, cut into large chunks
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1 c. chopped broccoli florets
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 small can of pineapple, drained and chopped
1/2 Tb. toasted sesame seeds
1/2 Tb. minced garlic
4 dried red chili peppers (arbol)
Oil and chili oil to saute

1/3 c. hoisin sauce
1 Tb. tamari
1/2 Tb. lime juice
1/2 Tb. seasoned rice vinegar
A few shakes toasted sesame oil

Press and drain tofu until no more water comes out (about 10-15 minutes). Meanwhile, toast walnut pieces in a dry skillet. Set aside.

Cut the tofu into very small dice and saute in some oil and chili oil with two of the dried peppers until browned on all sides. Remove from heat.

In the same skillet, adding a little more oil if necessary, saute the red peppers, onion, remaining dried chiles (2), and broccoli with the garlic until crisp-tender; about 3 minutes. Add the cooked tofu, chopped pineapple, and sauce. Heat another minute or so or until sauce and pineapple are heated. Add the leftover quinoa, sesame seeds, and toasted walnuts. Mix all ingredients until quinoa is throughly coated with sauce and heated. To serve, remove the chili peppers. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

I love baking bread and I'm always trying out different recipes. This recipe bakes a white loaf and it's the first white bread I've made homemade. I use whole-grain unbleached white flour and regular whole wheat flour when making it. I don't generally buy bread flour, so I added vital wheat gluten to help with its texture. It makes a more tender loaf with a larger crumb.

This is probably the best bread I've ever made. With this bread, I've made the resolution to wean myself off of store-bought bread. I also hope to start experimenting with various grains, nuts, seeds, and spices. Even sprouts! Give this recipe a try and see how much better bread can be!

Simple Whole Wheat Bread:
3 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (or 2 pkgs.)
1/2 cup sugar
5 cups whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat graham flour
2 Tbs. + 2 tsp. vital wheat gluten
3 Tbs. vegan margarine, melted
1 Tb. salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tb. vegan margarine, melted

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and sugar. Add 5 cups whole-grain unbleached white flour and vital wheat gluten, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

It should look like this after a couple of minutes:

It looks deceptively like a tasty chai tea.

Mix in melted vegan margarine and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch (this may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about an hour).

Punch down, and divide into 2 loaves. Place each loaf in a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch (another 45 minutes to 1 hour).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. If it sounds hollow when you tap on it, it's done. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted vegan margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely before storing.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hemp Muffin Madness!


In addition to it's uses for fuel and fiber, hemp is also a food product, and it just so happens, that it's VERY good for you too. Hemp seeds are one of nature's best sources of plant-based protein. It contains all of the essential amino acids the body needs, making it a complete protein. 2 tablespoons give you a mere 50 calories with 7 grams of protein, 216 miligrams of Omega-3, 4 grams of fiber, and 10% of your RDA of iron. Yes, my friends... in just 2 tablespoons. Did I mention it was also a complete protein!? It's also gluten-free.

You know what? Baking with hemp is delicious. Mariah adores these muffins and I like them too. She wants me to make them again and again, so I guess that means they're worthy of posting. They're very good, and good for you. They make a good breakfast when you pair them with some soymilk and some fruit. Enjoy!

This recipe is courtesy of Bob's Red Mill Hemp Protein Powder. Good stuff.

Hemp Muffins:
1 1/4 c. unbleached white flour
1 c. wheat bran
1/2 c. Hemp Protein Powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 c. no-sugar-added applesauce
1 1/4 c. soymilk
2 Tb. oil
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Additional brown sugar for topping (opt.)
Shredded unsweetened coconut for topping (opt.)

Mix the flour, wheat bran, hemp protein, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, soymilk, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until just combined (about 50 strokes).

Spoon into greased muffin tins, filling 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops of muffins lightly with brown sugar and coconut.

Bake about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

NOTE: If you use paper muffin cups, the muffins will stick to the paper when they're warm. Once they've fully cooled, they come out of the paper just fine.

If you make 12 muffins, they are 125 calories each (includes opt. brown sugar and coconut).
If you make 15 muffins, they are 100 calories each (includes opt. brown sugar and coconut).

FYI: Hemp protein powder is sometimes expensive, and that's probably because its production is highly regulated by the DEA. There are so many restrictions placed on the hemp-grower that your average, everyday farmer can't afford to grow it (what with all the security and fences and stuff). Not only that, but hemp has VIRTUALLY NO THC. You CANNOT get high from smoking it (THC content is altered by the growing process. Most "commercial" weed is manipulated to have a high THC content).

Hemp does so many wonderful things, and yet it's still controlled. What a terrible shame. It could really save the world.

More on that later. :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Split Pea Soup

This soup was actually created by Mariah. Mariah is actually a very good cook and she'll cook me up something every once in awhile, but it's not a hobby for her like it is for me. She made this soup the way she likes it: simple and velvety. This was the first time I had ever had split pea soup, and it was absolutely delicious! This simple recipe is a nice reminder that sometimes it's just as delicious going back-to-basics.

It goes well with a nice crusty bread.

Basic Split Pea Soup:
1 c. split green peas
2 c. water
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp. minced garlic
Vegetable broth

Rinse and pick through the peas. Bring the water to a boil, add the peas, boil for 2-3 minutes, then cover, and set aside for an hour.

When you're ready to cook the peas, change the water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until peas are soft.

When the peas are almost done, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until nice and caramelized.

When the peas are completely done, add the onion and garlic, and using a hand blender or a regular blender, blend until nice and smooth. You will need to add the vegetable broth before blending to help it smooth out. The amount of vegetable broth you use will depend on how thick you'd like your soup to be (Mariah likes it to be a real thick, spoon-coating soup). Return to the pan to reheat a little if necessary and to serve. Enjoy!

We made this again, except we tossed in a couple of handfuls of fresh basil to the onions and garlic, and then proceeded with the recipe. It was great!

Quick n' Easy Green Curry with Tofu

Mariah loves anything that I make that involves tofu and coconut rice, in this case it's a curry. Green curry is milder than red curry. This is also a Thai-insprired version, rather than an Indian one. To make it vegan, fish sauce was omitted. Also, take care when selecting a curry paste. I use the brand Thai Kitchen because it's vegan and doesn't contain any preservatives. Using Jasmine rice (which is traditional in Thai cooking) also saves time because it only takes about 10 minutes to cook. This dish takes about 30 minutes to make.

Serving this dish over plain Jasmine rice is also a very tasty alternative (1 c. rice to 2 c. water).

Coconut Rice:
1 c. Jasmine rice
1/2 (regular-sized) can coconut milk
1 1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric

1/2 can coconut milk
1 1/2 Tb. tamari or soy sauce
1 Tb. brown sugar
1/2 Tb. Thai Kitchen green curry paste
1 tsp. chile paste (such as Sriracha)
1/4 tsp. turmeric
2 small dried red chiles

1 block extra-firm tofu
1 onion
1 c. mixed frozen veggies (an Asian blend without water chestnuts is good)
1 tsp. minced garlic
oil to saute + 1 tsp. chile oil
2 small dried red chiles

Press tofu for about 15 minutes, or until water stops coming out, then pat dry, cube, and brown on all sides in a skillet with the oil, chile oil, and dried chiles. Set aside. In the skillet, saute the onions and frozen veggies (I always steam my veggies first to make sure they taste okay, since they're frozen and all, but I'm weird like that) with the garlic and a little more chile oil if you'd like.

Meanwhile, combine all the sauce ingredients. When the veggies are halfway-done, add the tofu and the sauce to the skillet, along with two more dried chiles. Cover and reduce to a simmer (this will simmer while the rice cooks).

Rinse the rice and place it in a pot along with the coconut milk, water, salt, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce, and simmer about 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 more minutes before serving.

To serve, place the curry on top of the rice. Feel free to garnish with a little cilantro or shredded unsweetened coconut. Enjoy!

Food Update... well, mostly

A lot of recipes have been floating around my brain. Last night I made some Hemp Muffins. They were very good. Mariah loves them, but they're not quite what I was wanting. I think a few carob chips are necessary! Also, I used shredded wheat cereal instead of bran because that was what I had on hand. It worked well, but I'd like to try it with the bran.

Also, I'm thinking about making some scones. And some Pineapple Black Bean Enchiladas. And maybe something with applesauce in it. And my favorite black beans over caramelized onions and polenta... so much good food! A friend of mine has a birthday this month and I've pledged to make whatever main dish and dessert suits her fancy. Luckily, she's fond of most my health food and I think she's liked about all my sweet stuff. We have a living room now, so I'm finally ready to start having company over!

I'm also looking forward to going to the farmer's markets this year. The organic and whole food movement is FINALLY starting to seep into this city and I'm so relieved. Driving an hour to buy produce kind of defeats the purpose of buying locally... Heck, I've been waiting almost a year for a store to get some hemp protein powder. It's ridiculous. This city has such a small-town attitude and it's so resistant to change, when in reality it's not that small. It just keeps cutting itself off from any potential growth. I read an article today in the newspaper that made me roll my eyes. It was about an organic food co-op. The article keep going on and on about all the good reasons why someone should join, but then you get to the very last sentence and it says, "no new members are being accepted". Puh-leeze. In a city of almost 80,000 people you wouldn't think these kinds of barriers still exist (especially in such an agriculturally-oriented Midwestern state)... but they do.

You know what though? They can buy all the organic bread they want... my homemade stuff still tastes better. :)

Anyway, as I was saying, this month is going to be full of various black bean and tofu recipes. I also have a bag of unsweetened shredded coconut that's daring me to use it, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Springjam 5

APRIL 17+18, 2009
Click here for more info:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Early Spring Update

So, March is a good month. Near the end of February I always get crazy for spring. I'm constantly pointing out to people that clumps of grass are starting to turn green and that buds are forming on the trees. I couldn't believe it yesterday though. Mariah went out side to start the car but came back in and said, "there's a foot of snow on the ground!" We were shocked! While a foot of snow is a slight exaggeration (it was only about 4-6 inches), it all literally happened overnight. Not only that, but I think the highest it got yesterday was 18. Just two days before we were driving with our windows down in 70-degree sun! Missouri is a crazy state. You really can't predict the weather. Mariah, who lived half her life in Montana and the other half in upstate New York, thinks the weather here is nothing short of crazy (last summer she thought she was going to die when the heat hit 104 [heat index 112]. ) But anyway. March is the month of spring, and I'm ready for it!

Remember that farm I always wanted?

I have one. 40 acres of one to be exact. It's all paid off and ready to go. I couldn't believe it! This has always been a dream of mine (ours) and now it's attainable!

Now the planning begins.

We're going to build a small cabin with a loft and a porch. A nice outhouse. A greenhouse. A cellar. There's going to be fruit trees. Nut trees. Vegetables. Herbs. Berries. A well. So much planning and thinking and preparation needs to be done! We've got bonds to get us going and from here on out it's scrimping and saving. They'll be extended camping trips to get us used to the place, and once we're up there permanently, we'd like to get us a few animals. Mostly a couple dogs, a cat, a couple goats, a few chickens. Mariah wants a cow. I'd like a sheep. Solar panels. A wind turbine. We'll see where this goes. The first step has been taken, but many more follow.

Happy Spring!