Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Easy Chocolate Grawnola

I generally eat a raw breakfast. I bulk ordered some raw buckwheat and I've been eating the 4 lbs. of it since the beginning of this month. I still have 2 lbs. left and that makes me super excited. Especially since I only paid like, $15 bucks for the all of it. I've been playing with my dehydrator a lot, and I was dying for some grawnola. I often see references to it online, but never any recipes (except for those, "just add some of this stuff together and that's it" recipes). I'm a newby when it comes to making things in the dehydrator so I need a few more specifics, pleaseandthankyou. I finally found a recipe in a book I checked out from the library, but I wasn't too happy with it so I subbed a lot of stuff (ha ha...), but it gave me a good idea of actual amounts of stuff to use and that was very helpful.

My recipe is MOSTLY raw. My coconut is toasted, because that's all I had, but feel free to use untoasted instead. I also used maple syrup because I prefer it to agave (which isn't raw either..? I'm not sure), but I really don't care if my sweetener is raw. Molecule for molecule, it's still sugar. I'm not concerned at all about it's enzymes or how my body treats it. Whether raw or refined, it's still sucrose and my body will break down the sugar the same way. However, that said, to be truly raw you can also use just dates. I also soaked my ingredients to make them easier to work with and to unlock the enzyme inhibitors.

I be soakin'.

I went ahead and let the pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and almonds soak together. The dates are in the upper left, covered with just enough water to cover, and the upper right bowl has the raw buckwheat groats in it. I let all these items soak for about two hours, but you can let them soak longer. You can also just let them soak an hour, but it needs to be at least one full hour. 

Before beginning this recipe, I drained and rinsed the buckwheat until it was no longer slimy (see, enzyme inhibitors), and I rinsed and drained the nuts as well. I also peeled the skins off the almonds. After soaking them it's pretty easy to do (the skins contain tannins that are slightly bitter and a little hard on your stomach). 

Chocolate GRAWnola:
1 c. dates, pitted
1 c. filtered water (use the date soak water first, it's nice and sweet, then use the rest regular water)
2 c. buckwheat groats
1/4 c. cacao powder
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. almonds
1/2 c. dried coconut (flakes, shredded, or chips)
1/4 c. shelled, raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. coconut flavor
Pinch of salt

1. Drain the nuts, seeds, and buckwheat groats.
2. In a food processor combine the dates, water, cacao, maple syrup, cinnamon, flavorings, and salt. Process until well blended (it will be watery).
3. In a large bowl, combine the buckwheat groats and cacao mixture. Chop the nuts and seeds and add those too, along with the coconut. Mix well.

4. Spread the batter into a dehydrator with parchment paper or a dehydrator with Teflex sheets. Dehydrate for 24 hours.
5. Crumble the grawnola up and dehydrate for a couple more hours (about 4). Mine is completely dehydrated at this point, if yours isn't you can let it dehydrate up to another 24 hours.
6. Remove from the dehydrator and crumble a little more. Let cool completely before placing it into a closed container for storage.

I love this best when it's in a bowl filled with sliced bananas and almond milk. I also add a little maple syrup (my almond milk is unsweetened) and some regular buckwheat krispies (recipe from Ani Phyo) to round it out. It makes the milk thick and chocolatey.

Now I'm off to experiment with more grawnola recipes!

And the book was "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw", bwahahaha!

Summer Veggie Medley

To the right is my "before" photo. My boyfriend's grandparents gave me, I kid you not, like 5 lbs. of green beans and probably about 10 lbs. of baby red potatoes. I also got three yellow onions, a cabbage, a jar of tomatoes, and some pickled beets.

(I've never ate beets before, like alone pickled, so I have no idea what I'm in for here. He says he wants to be here when I try them so he can see my reaction...).

Anyway. What am I supposed to do with all this produce? I knew I wanted to eat the green beans and potatoes together, but that was about it. After snapping all the beans and scrubbing all the potatoes, I looked into my big pot and I realized it need MORE. So in went some carrots, celery, herbs, and garlic. At first I was a little nervous (what the heck does celery seed taste like?), but after about 15 minutes I could start to smell it cook and I knew I had done right. I let it all simmer in a closed pot with the goal in mind of having slightly boiled, slightly steamed veggies and not soup. It worked! Better yet, it was really freaking good. I had like, two bowls of it. This was the first time I had had potatoes from someone's backyard and there is DEFINITELY a taste difference. They were so fresh and awesome. They were my favorite part. The green beans were good too. I simmered them long enough so that they didn't taste so "green". I love vegetables, but sometimes I feel like I'm just munching on a plant (which I am...). Wait. Where am I going with this...?

Anyway, you can adjust this so that your green beans aren't cooked so long, but I prefer them this way. Also, I used water to cook them in, but feel free to use vegetable broth. I thought I had some in the pantry, but I was clean out.

Summer Veggie Medly:
1 1/2 lbs. green beans, snapped, snapped into thirds, washed (this amount is an estimate)
1 lb. baby red potatoes, scrubbed, a strip of peel removed, halved (amount is an estimate)
1 yellow onion, chopped
A handful of baby carrots, sliced, about 3/4 c.
Celery heart, chopped, plus leaves (I used the white center of the celery and saved the stalks for peanut butter, lol), about 3/4 c.
2 Tb. Earth Balance or oil, your choice
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. celery seed
Pepper to taste
Water or vegetable broth, about 3 cups

1. In a large Dutch oven, toss together all the ingredients. You only want about 1/2 inch of water or broth in the pot, the goal is to not make soup (unless you want soup, and if you do this is a good base).
2. Cover and simmer over medium about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are done.
3. Enjoy!

Talk about a super easy recipe! And in case you were curious, I also have an "after" photo:

Pictured: Tasty goodness.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Korean Tofu with Soba and Kimchee

I've been eating a lot of raw foods lately. I do that a lot in summer, I think it's kind of natural. I'm a huge fan of massive smorgasbord salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. I've been reading a lot about raw foods (and been making a bunch of stuff as well) but the thing that really sunk in was kimchee. One of my favorite blogs, Green and Crunchy (a link is available on the sidebar) is a HRAV (high raw, all vegan) blog. I was reading her back posts and she cronicled her kimchee making experience. It looked SO tasty to me that it induced a massive craving! I had never even ate any before, but I knew I would love it. I wan't willing to make my own yet, but I started looking around for it. I was frustrated because the only kind I found (in the vegetarian and organic produce section of my favorite store) was full of shrimp and anchovies. It's like seriously heartbreaking with they put something full of non-vegetarian ingredients in the vegetarian section. I gave up hope. Then, one day at a rare trip to WalMart (I live in Missouri, sorry guys), I looked over next to their tofu. I couldn't believe it! Not only was it real kimchee (fermented, not pickled!), but it was the "spicy" flavor, and 100% vegan!!! I nabbed it up and then dwelled about the perfect dish to eat it with.

I found a really cool, authentic Korean food blog (WARNING: not completely vegetarian. There are tentacles) from a chick who makes some awesome food. Her blog is http://www.maangchi.com/. I look forward to browsing the website for more Korean dishes to veganize!

Anywho, the sauce is based on her sauce for tofu (wanted to give credit where credit is due), but the rest of it is all mine, based on what I think Korean food is and what was in my pantry. Mind you, the only Korean food I had was when an exchange-student friend of mine from South Korea gave me a piece of ginseng gum, so I hope this is pretty close (and it's MUCH tastier than ginseng gum!).

This dish is also really quick to make! Like lightning, man!

Tofu with Vegetables:
1/2 block extra firm tofu, cubed
1/2 bag of broccoli slaw
2 stalks celery, chopped
About 10 baby carrots, cut into matchsticks
1/2 head bok choy, chopped

Stir-fry Sauce:
2 Tb. tamari
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper or 1 tsp. chile flakes
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped (Note: I used my garden onions, so it was equivalent to about 5 regular green onions, lol)

Buckwheat soba noodles
Sesame seeds, toasted

1. Press tofu about 15 minutes and cut into cubes. Since the recipe only calls for half a block, you can cube the rest and place it in a covered bowl full of water in the fridge. It's handy to be chopping the veggies at this point and getting them ready for the skillet.
2. In a large skillet or wok sprayed with cooking spray, saute the tofu cubes on medium-high until golden.
3. Meanwhile, combine all the Sauce ingredients and set it aside.
4. Bring a pot of water to boil, and once the tofu is as golden as you like it, add the vegetables to the skillet and the soba to the pot.
5. Cook the soba in simmering water for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, stir-fry the veggies in the skillet. After about a minute, add the sauce to the stirfry and turn up the heat a little bit.
6. Drain the soba and take the stir-fry off the heat. Both the stir-fry and noodles get done at the same time. Awesome.
7. Serve the soba with the veggies. Add the kimchee to the plate and sprinkle everything with sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Also, this made kind of a lot, so if you decide on a 1 cup serving of the vegetables (and figure in the noodles and kimchee), this will make about 4-6 servings. Quick cooking + leftovers = one happy me!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Buttermilk" Biscuits and Gravy

My friend lived in California for awhile and she told me that they didn't serve biscuits n' gravy out there like they do here. It blew my mind a little bit. Biscuits and gravy are served at every single restaurant here that serves breakfast, along with cafes, fundraiser events, schools, you name it. A "big breakfast" wouldn't be complete without them! I love biscuits and gravy, but I'm not gonna lie, not only is white gravy NOT vegan in most places, restaurant gravy comes from a powder. I know. I've made it. And it's not good. If you want real, good gravy, you just gotta make it yourself.

White gravy isn't hard to make. I don't know why people freak out about veganizing it. It's butter, flour, salt and pepper, and milk. Easy as pie! Of course, you do have to make a roux, but once you get that down you can make any white sauce you desire (that's right, time to make bechamel!). I used to add Gimmie Lean sausage to this recipe, but they quit selling it in the area. If you have it, and want to use it, just fry up about half a roll in a skillet. Once it's done, set it aside. Don't bother cleaning the skillet out (unless you burn it... but that happens. It kinda sticks to the pan) and just make the gravy in that pan. Once the gravy's made, you can add the sausage, give it a quick stir to heat it back up, and then serve it over your biscuits. Serve it with a glass of orange juice and you've got a super hearty breakfast better than any restaurant around... Cause it's the only vegan biscuits n' gravy in town!

Also, the biscuits are good for peanut butter and jelly or serving with split pea soup... Which I just remembered I have an awesome recipe for, lol. Oh, and if you use more whole-wheat flour the biscuits will be denser and if you use less they'll be taller and fluffier. It's up to you!

2 1/2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole-wheat pastry flour
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tb. shortening, Earth Balance, or a mixture of the two.
1 1/2 c. ricemilk
1/2 Tb. rice vinegar

Preheat oven to 400.
1. Stir together the ricemilk and the vinegar. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the white flour, wheat flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. And the shortening/Earth Balance and use two knife or your fingers to incorporate it in the dough. You want small crumbles of dough.
4. Add the ricemilk ("buttermilk") and stir until well-combined.
5. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about a minute.
6. Roll out dough, fold it in half on top of itself, and then reroll. Do this a couple of times, then roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness.
7. Place on an ungreased baking sheet with the sides of the biscuits touching a little. Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes.
                                                          They're as big as my hand, I swear!
6 Tb. Earth Balance
6 Tb. flour
1 c. plain almond milk
1 c. vegetable broth
Salt and lots of pepper, to taste

NOTE: DON'T USE VANILLA FLAVORED MILK!! Use plain and unsweetened, cause you will be able to taste the sweet vanillaness coming through. I made it with vanilla ricemilk once. It was no good! I'm kind of soy intolerant so I use rice and almond milk, but the gravy tastes much better when used with unsweetened soy or unsweetened almond.

1. Melt Earth Balance over low heat in a saucepan.
2. Add the flour and whisk over low until the flour turns a nice golden brown color and has a nice aroma. This is a "roux".

3. Add some of the milk, about a half cup, and whisk to combine.
4. Turn up the heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and slowly add the rest of the milk. Be sure that you are whisking constantly while you add the milk to keep everything from sticking.

5. Keep whisking while allowing the gravy to thicken up. It's best to cook it over medium-high for about 10 minutes, while whisking very frequently (constantly if it's not a nonstick saucepan). The gravy is done when the whisk leaves tracks (lines from the whisk) that stay for a few seconds. If you want sausage gravy, add the already cooked and crumbled Gimme Lean here and let it cook with the gravy while it thickens.
6. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over biscuits.

EDIT: This recipe was updated on 8/18/2010 to make a tastier gravy.

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Man! I can't believe we're already at the halfway point of summer (well... almost there)! It seems like it just got here! But on the plus side, all that summer produce has been rolling in! I just love Missouri. I really do. If you stick something in the ground, it'll grow. Like anything. There's so much variety here and it all does great. I live in an apartment, so I'm unfortunately unable to have a conventional garden, but I do have a container garden. This was an experiment in (organic) container growing and it's working out awesome! My roommate and I planted some tomatoes so we now have three tomato plants bearing small green tomatoes. My best friend gave me the gift of a container of basil in early May. There were three little plants, about six inches tall, begging to be shown some love. I transplanted them into a larger container, and they did okay and grew a couple more inches but then they started to turn yellow and look like death. I was not about to lose this basil (especially since I planned on making a very large batch of pesto with it)! So I replanted it into a larger container with some better quality soil, fed it coffee grounds daily (full of nitrogen, the source of most yellowing), and moved it into a better sun-catching position. The result?

Not three, but FIVE, three foot tall plants, vibrantly green, and heavenly aromatic:

It's been harvested here and there (PESTO!) (THAI FOOD!)(SANDWICHES!) since then, but I can't keep up with the flowers on the three main plants. I'll probably harvest it some more then let it go to seed. I'm a novice gardener so I don't really know how these things work. I should look it up. My boyfriend's grandparents also have a huge organic garden and I've been gifted with lots of great stuff. Organic, garden-fresh peas, green onions, and green beans have been the first of the batch. I'm also excited for some of my dad's Tabasco chiles. I'm really looking forward to my own house so that I can have myself a much bigger plot (though who knows when that'll be!).

We've also ghettorigged the back porch to be our clothes dryer. Awesome. I live on the second story of a fourplex and my porch isn't that big, but we still stuff it with some country flair. Lol. It's nice and sunny out there and it's able to catch a nice breeze so it's a good setup!

Oh, yeah... remember those Strawberry Cupcakes I mentioned so many weeks ago? Well, I finally found the recipe! These little gems are just as delicious as they are cute! With a moist strawberry-vanilla cake, a luscious strawberry buttercreme frosting, and strawberry slices on top, these little cakes scream summer! Everyone liked these and I'm glad I remembered to snap a photo before everyone started munching them down. I've made them on multiple occasions and people just cannot get over how moist they are and how much the "real strawberry" flavor shines through. They are always a hit!

Also, I wouldn't recommend that you put the strawberries on top until you're about ready to serve them (if you even decide to do that). Otherwise, they get all juicy and they just slip right off the frosting. And don't do what I did! I thought I had used a particular knife as my strawberry slicing knife but it turned out to be my red onion slicing knife... Seriously, when will I learn to clean as I go?? I could swear I tasted onions, but I don't think anyone else noticed... And, if you have too much leftover purée you can just set it aside for something else, like a fresh topping for some plain pancakes or a soyogurt parfait. I used some extra to top my overnight oats and it was delicious. They're used in this recipe both as the namesake flavor enhancer and as the egg replacer. The amount of sugar might not seem like a lot, but it creates an excellent balance between the cake and the strawberry buttercream.

I also made mini-muffins, since I'm lacking in the regular-sized cupcake tray department. If you make mini-muffins it makes about 36. I would assume that it would make 12 regular-size cupcakes and the baking time would take longer as well.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes:
2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 c. turbinado sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 Tb. rice vinegar
1/2 c. puréed strawberries
1/3 c. canola oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 c. unhydrogenated shortening
1/2 c. Earth Balance, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
2 Tb. puréed strawberries
1 tsp. vanilla

To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Stir together the almond milk and rice vinegar and set aside. I use rice vinegar because I think it has a milder flavor that other vinegars. Other "milks" are fine to substitute as well.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together to combine.
4. Purée strawberries in a food processor. This usually takes about 1/3 to 2/3 a carton, depending on the size of the strawberries and their quality.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk mixture, sugar, puréed strawberries, oil, and vanilla until nice and combined.
5. Using muffin trays sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or pans filled with cupcakes liners, fill each cup/liner about 2/3 full of batter. Try to get all the cupcakes in the oven at once so they don't go flat. Bake them at 350 for 15-18 minutes for mini-cupcakes or for 23-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, for regular cupcakes. Let cool before frosting!!

To make the buttercream:
1. Cream together the shortening and Earth Balance until well combined.
2. Stir in the pureed strawberries and vanilla and mix completely.
3. Add the powdered sugar (make sure there are no lumps), and mix thoroughly.
4. Frost the completely cooled cupcakes. The frosting will melt if the cupcake is too hot.
June has been an awesome month, but my camera has bitten the dust. It's okay though! I'm not sad. That camera was the biggest POS I've ever used in my life and my iPhone takes perfectly awesome pictures until then!