Posts Tagged squash

VeganMoFo: Squashes, Pumpkins and Other Things Autumnal

Welcome to Vegan Month of Food!  If you missed my last post with my plans for VeganMoFo 2010, check it out.  I’m starting out by catching up on some stuff that’s been going on recently.  To get into the spirit of Fall, I’ve been eating as many Autumnal flavors as possible!


This is autumn millet, tempeh, roasted brussels sprouts and toasted pepitas.  I don’t know if I can adequately express my love for roasted brussels sprouts.  I could eat at least three times the amount pictured here in one sitting.  Love!  For the millet, I was inspired by Lilveggiepatch’s Autumn Millet.  I’ve never been a huge fan of millet, because I had never figured out how to cook it correctly, and now I think I’ve found the formula.  Some people say to use 2 cups water to 1 cup millet, which I think turns out underdone and crunchy, and some people say to use 3 cups water to 1 cup millet, which I think turns out wet and squishy.  So, I compromised and used 2 1/2 cups water to 1 cup millet and the texture was perfectly light and fluffy.  I also toasted the millet very well in a dry pan before adding the water, which I think is key.  The tempeh was simmered then quickly marinated in orange juice, soy sauce, olive oil, cumin and coriander.  The toasted pepitas totally sealed the deal on this dinner.

When I first saw the frittata recipe from the VeganizeIt! column in the May/June issue of VegNews, I knew I would love it.  The description promised an eggy texture and taste from chickpea flour and kala namak, and while it didn’t seem extremely eggy to me, I did like it a lot.

I served the frittata with roasted pumpkin, cooked in coconut oil and spiced with garam masala and coriander.  I used leek in the frittata instead of the onion which was called for, just because I had a leek in the fridge.  I also reduced the amount of margarine from 1/4 cup to 2 Tbs, because I just didn’t see the need for that much margarine.  The frittata didn’t feel low fat even with the reduced amount, and I was particularly happy with the calorie count – under 150 calories for 1/6 of the whole pie!

I bought a block of Galaxy Vegan Cheddar to try out on some chili, and when I came across (never home) maker’s Smoked Pumpkin Chili I thought it would pair perfectly.  Verdict on the cheese:  It’s…okay.  It’s not better or worse than Daiya or Teese, just different, and I guess I would buy it again if I needed some cheese and it was available.  It did shred very easily, so that’s a plus.

Verdict on the chili:  Delicious!  The pumpkin puree made the broth wonderfully thick, and the smoked paprika gave it a great smoky flavor.  I added a few dashes of cayenne pepper, because my chili has to be spicy.  My only complaint is that the recipe didn’t include any actual chili powder, which to me is an essential ingredient.  I hope to make this soup again sooner than later, and I will probably add a tablespoon of chili powder when I do.

The latest East Bay Vegan Bakesale was last Saturday, and while I didn’t have time to bake for it, I made sure to stop buy and pick up a few goodies.  This is a pumpkin whoopie pie and a sweet potato muffin, and they were both fantastic.  I also bought a mini-banana muffin and scarfed it too quickly to photograph.  There were also brownies, giant cinnamon rolls, cookies, cupcakes and all sorts of other goodies on display, and I used my amazing skills of self-control to not buy it all.  Or, I was broke at the end of the month.  One of those…

For dinner tonight, I baked up a spaghetti squash then tossed the flesh with Vegan Dad’s Alfredo Sauce and some steamed spinach.  I’ve had some major let-downs in the alfredo department since going vegan, but this sauce did not disappoint!  I again reduced the amount of margarine called for, because I just can’t justify putting 1/2 cup of Earth Balance in something that I’ll be eating all by myself.  I can see how the sauce would be more rich with the full amount, but I don’t think it really suffered for taking out some of the fat.  I also reduced the amount of onion powder a bit, and added 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, because everything needs nutritional yeast.  On the side, I had some roasted beets and radishes.  Beets and radishes play surprisingly well together.

I’m so excited to read all of the upcoming VeganMoFo posts from bloggers around the world.  There are over 500 blogs signed up!  A full list will be posted here within a few days:  http://veganmofo.wordpress.com/blog-roll-2010/

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March Cleanse: Days 1-3

So far, so good.  I didn’t take any pictures of juices or smoothies, cause the juices are generally green, and the smoothies brown.  Perhaps I’ll make a prettier smoothie soon.

Day 1:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  fennel, carrot, celery, collars, ginger and a green apple, green tea.  Fennel juice is surprisingly good, as long as it’s mixed with other stuff.
snack smoothie:  banana, strawberries, kiwi, hemp protein, almond milk, udo’s oil and amazing grass
lunch salad:  spinach, red leaf lettuce, black beans, radishes, green onions, mandarin orange, liquid gold dressing from Raw Revolution Diet, cranberry apple tea

snack:  cranberry trail mix

dinner:  sweet dumpling squash with tamari-glazed tempeh and bok choy, hijiki and miso-coconut sauce, roasted purple kohlrabi, detox tea.  Kohlrabi is my new favorite vegetable!

Day 2:  I was on a little bit of a different schedule due to our very last day of class.  We went out for dinner afterward and it was surprisingly easy to not order a beer, even while everyone else was.

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  golden beet, orange and collards*, raspberry black tea
snack smoothie:  banana, raspberries, almond milk, hemp protein, udo’s oil, amazing grass
lunch salad:  same as day 1
snack:  cranberry trail mix
second snack at school:  mashed avocado, hummus, carrot sticks, a few flax crackers and half a small, sugar-free and gluten-free chocolate pie
dinner:  salad – romaine, cucumber, roasted red peppers, olives and balsamic vinaigrette, detox tea

*This was the day I learned that not everyone can drink beet juice.  About 15 minutes after I started drinking my juice I felt very nauseous, and the juice came back up, to put it nicely.  No more beet juice for me, I guess!

Day 3:  My schedule was weird today too, so things got moved around a bit.  I’m still a bit weirded out about the juice incident yesterday, so I skipped the juice this morning and just had a big smoothie.

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast smoothie:  two bananas, peanut butter, almond milk and amazing grass, green tea
lunch salad:  same as day 1, but with no mandarins and added buckwheat sprouts
snack:  apple, cranberry tea
dinner:  same as day 1
I had dinner earlier than normal and was feeling snacky when I got home, so I had two dill pickles and tangerine tea.

So yeah…so far, so good.  Except, despite my resolve not to “cheat”, my plan is going to be derailed this weekend by a semi-impromtu trip to Reno with Dave and some friends.  I considered staying true to my vow to not have alcohol, but really, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.  So, my compromise is to have some alcohol this weekend, not too much, and stick to the food plan as much as possible.  And, I’ll extend the cleanse for three days longer than planned to make up for it.  So, I don’t feel too bad about it, as I do get to spend two nights in Reno!

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CSA’s & Laptop Lunches

Geez, it’s been a long time since I posted my foods!  I’ll try to keep my rambling and descriptions short, since I’ve got a lot of pictures!

8-27 CSA:  corn, rosemary, pears, zucchini, cucumber & lavender

onions, figs, tomatoes, beets, squash & honeydew melon

When I got this CSA box, I was actually growing tired of snacking on fresh figs.  Gasp!  I’m spoiled, I know.  I decided to make a poached fig salad, based on a recipe I found online that I can’t find again now!  Which is a shame, cause it was really good.  The fresh figs were poached in a whole bottle of port, then the wine was reduced down to a syrup.  There was also a simple vinaigrette, pisatchios, shallots and faux feta cheese.  The poached figs were STRONG, but good.  I also had some herbed pumpkin seed crackers.

I had taken note of the Teriyaki Quinoa recipe in Eat, Drink & Be Vegan during my August cleanse but didn’t get a chance to try it then.  I’m glad I tried it afterwards, because I love it!  It’s so simple – just cook the quinoa and mix it with the sauce.  I served the quinoa with stir-fried veggies (seasoned only with tamari and ume plum vinegar), and instead of sprinkling with sesame seeds as the recipe called for, I used some sesame gomasio that I had bought for no specific reason.

Quinoa close-up!  Looks like…quinoa…

I had a huge heirloom tomato sitting around doing absolutely no good, and I decided I wanted to slice it up for a grilled cheese sandwich.  There’s a big hole in the middle cause the tomato had a big, tough core that had to be cut out.

I wanted to make bread machine bread for my sandwich and…FAIL.  I modified a multigrain bread machine recipe that I found online and it really didn’t rise at all.  It was edible but incredibly dense.  I don’t know if the recipe was bad or if it was the fact that I used the time delay feature and the ingredients sat there for hours before the machine started mixing.

The cheese in the sandwich is the Gooey Grilled Cheese from The Uncheese Cookbook, which I love.  I also love pickles on grilled cheese.  On the side was broccoli and cucumber with goddess dressing, and oven-baked beet chips.

I had corn and squashes left over from the CSA box, and thought they would make nice side dishes for black-eyed-pea gravy and biscuits.  I have no idea where I got the gravy idea from, but it worked out.

For the biscuits, I used Happy Herbivore’s Whole Wheat Low Fat Biscuit recipe, and they turned out quite well!  I rolled mine out and cut them into circles with a glass though, rather than just dropping them like the recipe calls for.  That way you get the flaky sides, and they’re easy to cut in half.

Gravy close-up!  The gravy turned out okay, but it was a little too acidic and the onions weren’t cooked enough, so I need to work on it a bit before I have an official recipe.  For the creamed corn, I just cooked some corn kernels till tender, blended up some of them in the food processor, added it back to the pan with some soy milk and cooked a bit just to thicken.  The squash and zucchini were sauteed with probably a pinch too much red pepper flakes.

9-10 CSA:  lettuce, thyme, zucchini, swiss chard & grapes

tomatoes, plums, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, garlic & oranges

There’s nothing particularly special about this salad, except that it was topped with Annie’s French Dressing, which I had never seen before and like a lot.

With the abundance of tomatoes in this CSA box, I thought I ought to try my hand at making gazpacho.  I’d had gazpacho before a number of times but never made it.  Turns out it’s ridiculously easy to make!  The blender does most of the work.  I followed the recipe from Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons and it was perfect.

On the side is a slice of Bianca’s awesome Whole Wheat Beer Bread.  I grew up eating beer bread, and this totally hit the spot.  I added FYH cheddar and some rosemary just cause I could.  I also totally screwed up and mis-read the recipe.  I thought the bread only baked for 30 minutes, so I pulled it out then, let it cool, and was totally surprised that my first slice was completely raw in the middle!  Then I re-read the recipe – doh!  It bakes for 55 minutes.  The slice on my plate up there went in the toaster oven just to finish, which is why it looks funny, and the rest of the loaf went back in the oven.  Read your recipes all the way through, people!

9-24 CSA:  swiss chard, lettuce, cucumber & more lettuce

beets, tomatoes, red onions, grapes & peppers.  I also got a galia melon but it didn’t find its way into the picture.

Another sandwich, this time on store-bought sprouted bread.  I had an avocado ready to use, and thought it would go perfectly with the CSA tomato and lettuce in a great sandwich.  I was thinking along the lines of a BLT, so I sauteed tempeh then glazed it with soy sauce, maple syrup and liquid smoke.  Delicious!  The sandwich also had red onion jam, spicy mustard and a slice of vegan cheese.  Those nuclear chips in the front there are Buffalo Chips from Food Should Taste Good.  They didn’t really taste buffalo-y, but they were tangy and spicy and good.  If you haven’t tried Food Should Taste Good chips yet, do so!  They feel so much lighter than other chips, and their flavors are fun and imaginative.

10-8 CSA:  arugula, lettuce, acorn squash, more lettuce & baby bok choy

plums, potatoes, apples, oranges, tomatoes, onions, peppers & beets

I haven’t done anything with last week’s CSA box yet, but…there it is.

Laptop lunches!  I don’t have the time these days to neatly pack everything every night, but I do when I can.

9-8 pasta salad, steamed carrots, beanie weenies, cauliflower

9-10 biscuit & black-eyed pea gravy, creamed corn, spicy sauteed squash

9-15 cheddar-rosemary beer bread, gazpacho, baked beans, grapes

9-17 sesame noodles, sauteed cabbage, grapes

9-28 peppers lavender tofu, scalloped zucchini,
slow roasted tomatoes, grapes

10-1 multigrain sesame-beet pilaf, spicy daikon slaw, gf corn muffin, grapes

Bonus Jake.

And armless Jake.

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Announcements!

1.  I have been accepted to, and am officially enrolled in the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College in Berkeley.  Yay!  Starting in late September and going through February I will be attending classes nights and weekends while holding down my 40-hour-a-week job and hopefully still cooking at home a bit (other than homework assignments).  Sadly, I probably will not be able to pay much attention to my blog during this time.  But at the end I will be a trained natural chef!  I am hoping to turn this into a career change sooner than later.

2.  With my crazy schedule impending, I’ve decided to take the month of August to clean up my diet through a “cleanse”.  It’s not a diet, per say, but my feelings won’t be hurt if I lose a few pounds in the process.  I lost 8 pounds between the beginning of this year and April, then went and gained it all back on my vacations in May and June.  Doh!  Mostly I want to focus on nutritious whole foods, and NOT CHEAT!  Details on the rules and first four days below.

3.  This one is inconsequential, but I feel like listing it anyway.  I’ve always referred to my boyfriend as bf on the blog because I thought he would prefer it that way.  It turns out he doesn’t care one way or another, so from now on he shall be called Dave, which is his name.

Now, here is the outline of my cleanse:

- first thing upon waking is a warm glass of water with the juice from a quarter of a lemon
– breakfast is a smoothie including fruit, greens, Udo’s DHA oil blend or flax or chia seeds, protein powder or nut butter and unsweetened almond milk, a multivitamin and either a CoQ10 or B complex supplement
– green or black tea or coffee with stevia at work
– morning snack is fruit or nuts or both
– lunch is a salad including some form of protein (open for interpretation – veggies salad/grain salad/bean salad, etc.) and a probiotic supplement a few times a week
– afternoon snack is raw veggies and hummus or nuts
– dinner is whatever I want, as long as it all fits in a normal dinner-sized bowl and is not high in fat
– decaf tea with stevia before bed
– minimal, if any, processed food
– no wheat (grains that may contain gluten are okay)
– no sugar or artificial sweeteners (stevia, agave and maple syrup are okay)

This is my own design, but I was inspired by a number of things including Jessy’s Adventure Cleanse Tune-up and re-reading Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat.  Jessy did so amazingly well sticking with her cleanse, but I’m not making mine quite as intense.  She cut out everything I am, PLUS coffee, alcohol and gluten.  I generally only have coffee two or three times a week and tea the rest of the time, so I think it’s not that bad.  And I do like my beers on the weekend, so I’m keeping them but watching my intake.  (Geez, that makes me sounds like an alky!  I’m not, I promise, but I have to be honest about it if I’m going to detail my intake day by day.)  I will not be drinking any wheat beers though.  Speaking of wheat – I say “no wheat” because I’m not worried about gluten so much, so I may eat oats or other stuff that may contain gluten.  I just want to take a break from wheat and kind of force myself to eat other grains.

All that being said, I had a plan in place to start the cleanse off right on the morning of August 1st.  I was going to go grocery shopping and buy everything I needed for the first week on Friday night so that I could get going on Saturday.  I had planned my first few meals and written out a huge grocery list, and as I headed out the door I realized I didn’t have my keys!  Through a series of unfortunate events, Dave had gone to band practice in San Francisco with my keys in his pocket, so I couldn’t leave the house.  So much for being prepared!  I ended up going Saturday morning, but it left me a little stressed and wasn’t the way I wanted to start.

Day 1

Since I didn’t have my special smoothie making supplies yet or any greens in the fridge, I had a pear and some cantaloupe for breakfast along with my multivitamin.  Not exactly a power meal, but it’s all I had.  I also drank some blueberry green tea on the way to the store.  By the time I got back I was ravenous, so I ate some apple slices with peanut butter.

The first day presented me with a challenge because we were tailgating for the A’s game.  Normally I would have a veggie burger or dog and do some grilled veggies on the side, so I had to figure out how to fit grilling into salad form.

My solution was to take a salad of iceberg, tomatoes, shredded carrot and sunflower seeds and top it with grilled mushroom and squash and a squeeze of lemon.  (I only used iceberg because I had it leftover from a work bbq.)  This salad didn’t have as much protein as it probably should’ve and didn’t really fill me up, so I had some pistachios as a snack soon after.  I also had a few beers.  Told you I was going to be honest!

We didn’t end up actually going into the game (long story), and instead went to Dave’s uncle’s house for some chatting and board games.  On the way there I ate some carrot sticks, celery & cucumber slices with Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Hummus from Yellow Rose Recipes as “dinner”, and then had two glasses of wine at their house.  So my dinner didn’t exactly fit into the dinner rules, but I felt it was the best I could do since we were very rushed that morning.

Day 2

Sunday went much more smoothly.  Dave took off to go fishing with his buddies (blech) and I slept in a bit.

My breakfast smoothie had a banana, strawberries, mango, kale, udo’s and almond milk and despite being a bit thick and me forgetting to add the protein powder, it was very tasty.  I also took my multivitamin and CoQ10.  The smoothie kept me full all morning, so no snack.  I also had some coffee with unsweetened almond milk.

Lunch was a second take on the salad from day 1 with iceberg lettuce, carrots, squash, mushrooms and chickpeas and a dressing of balsamic vinegar, mustard and agave (there was already oil on the grilled veggies).  It was more filling this time with the chickpeas – I couldn’t even finish it!

My afternoon snack was more of the roasted eggplant and garlic hummus with carrot sticks, bell pepper and cucumbers.  I have to say that this hummus is kind of weird.  It tastes really good and blended up smooth, but after sitting overnight in the fridge it had kind of gelled together, as if it had agar agar or something.  I had to stir and mush it up with a fork, and it was never again as smooth as when I first made it.

For dinner I made the Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango from Veganomicon and served it over spinach.  My first impression of this dish is that it was just a bit oily.  I get what the recipe is going for, and it tastes good and is easy to make, but it didn’t blow me away or anything.  After dinner I had camomile tea, which I’ve never had before, and was pleasantly surprised.

Day 3

My Monday breakfast was this tasty banana, cherry, kale, udo’s, almond milk and amazon acai hempshake smoothie along with my multivitamin and b complex.  It was actually more brown than red, this picture makes it look much nicer than it really was.  My morning snack was a pear, almonds and darjeeling tea.

Lunch:  leaf lettuce, green pepper, carrot, red onion, snap pea sprouts, cherry tomatoes, sauteed cajun tofu and Honey Mustard Dressing from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, and a probiotic supplement.  This dressing is wonderful!  I never would have though to use lemon juice in honey mustard and it gives the dressing the perfect tang.  No actual honey is involved – it calls for agave nectar instead.  The tofu was just sauteed in a little bit of oil and sprinkled with a cajun spice blend.

My afternoon snack was more of the eggplant and garlic hummus with carrot sticks, green pepper & cucumber.  Beginning to notice a trend?  A whole batch of hummus lasts me forever if it’s just for snacks.

Dinner was precisely the same as Sunday (quinoa salad with black beans and mango over spinach) with sweet wild orange tea to follow.  I thought the quinoa salad might be the kind of dish that improves overnight, but it was still just kind of “eh”. The orange tea, however, is awesome.  It’s by Tazo.

Day 4

I’m into this green smoothie thing.  This one had banana, mango, kiwi, kale, udo’s and almond milk, and I forgot to add the dang protein powder again.  This used up all my mangos – I got five small ones for 99 cents at Berkeley Bowl that were all ready to go mushy, so I didn’t want to let them go to waste.  I took my multivitamin and CoQ10 and had a pear, a plum, cashews and earl grey tea as my morning snack.

The lunch salad was much like the day 3 lunch salad, minus the onion, sprouts (they went bad) and cherry tomatoes (I don’t like ‘em!), and plus sunflower seeds.  Also had a probiotic supplement.  Afternoon snack was celery, green pepper & cucumber slices with more roasted eggplant & garlic hummus.

Dinner was a challenge.  I was going to the recently re-opened Souley Vegan in Oakland to meet up with some PPKers and was hoping they’d have enough decently healthy options for me.  I meant to take my camera and forgot it like a dufus.  I ordered a three-item combo plate with collard greens, black eyed peas and yams.  The collard greens were very good, and different from any greens I’ve had – they were quite spicy and had a combination of spices that I could not put my finger on.  It drove me a little crazy that I couldn’t figure out the spices.  The black eyed peas were also good.  The yams…were incredibly sweet.  I’m fairly sure there was about a ton of sugar in them.  But I tried to stick to the cleanse, and I think I did pretty well for being at a place that has delicious chicken fried tofu and mac n’ cheese, and life goes on.  When I got home I had camomile tea.

(Souley Vegan’s Yelp page says they’re closed, but they’re not.  They are very much open at 301 Broadway, near Jack London Square.)

I hope that this style of posting doesn’t bore you all to death!  I want to post everything I eat, day by day, to hold myself accountable and to show anyone who may think I’m crazy that it’s completely do-able.  I’m hoping to post every two or three days, as opposed to four or more, so that there’s not so much redundant content.

So far I haven’t noticed much of any change in my energy or anything like that.  I do feel more hungry in general than before I started, but it’s not the kind of hungry where I HAVE to eat something, it’s just a little lingering hunger that tells me I didn’t totally fill up my tummy.  I’ve been cooking less in general but spending more time preparing food, which I guess is what happens when you eat more raw foods.  The only way I can make it in the mornings is to prep everything the night before, including putting the greens and fruit in the blender jar in the fridge, which kills a good amount of time at night.

Here is my latest CSA delivery.

cherry tomatoes, cherries, pears, an eggplant, tomatoes

pattypan squash, onions, peppers, basil, a cucumber,
a crookneck squash, grapes

And just because I can, some pictures of Jake from this weekend.  He’s taken to squishing his face on the arm rest when he’s trying to nap on the couch.

Kitty paws.

I love how his body looks humongous from this angle.

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W.I.P. Wednesday

A quick post (in stark contrast to yesterday’s massive gigantoid post) to show you a few recipes I’m working on.  Works in progress, if you will.

I got a bunch of little peppers in a CSA delivery and decided I wanted to make a take on pepper steak.  Never mind that I’m not sure I’ve ever had pepper steak in my life, that’s what the internet is for!  Although most pepper steak recipes are Chinese and that wasn’t what I wanted at all, so I made up what I consider an Americanized version of pepper steak, with tempeh instead of meat.

The flavors were really good, but the doneness of the veggies and tempeh was a little off, so I’m hopefully going to make this again tonight and get it right.  I really like this dish.

Not a WIP, but to go along with the pepper steak I made some soup from corn and squash that needed to be used up.

I cubed four pattypan squashes, simmered them in a thin layer of water just until tender, put half the squash and water in the food processor with half the kernels from three ears of corn and blended, added the mixture back in with the squash and remaining corn kernels, heated through and served with paprika, basil and green onions.  Simple and satisfying, it tasted like Summer.

I also received a whole bunch of zucchini in a recent CSA box, and for whatever reason I decided I wanted to bake it in a casserole, scalloped potato-style.

The flavor was fantastic, but the technique not so much.  Next time I can get my hands on a bunch of zucchini you can be sure I will attempt this again, because I think it will turn out really well!

To go along with the zucchini and use some pretty purple basil, I made a pressed basil-tomato-mozzarella sandwich.  The mozzarella is Follow Your Heart brand.

So yummy!  I’m really getting into summer produce lately.  Bring on the squash!

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Presents On My Doorstep

One of the things I was very excited about when moving to the Bay Area was the proliferation of farmers markets and CSA’s.  Ever since I first heard of the CSA concept I knew I wanted in.  There was precisely one option in Gainesville, and I tried to sign up during my last six months in Florida, but there was a long waiting list to contend with.

So as soon as I had the room in my budget, I signed up for one here.  I looked around and compared, and the best choice for me was Farm Fresh To You.  They run their own farm, as well as sourcing from other local farms to round out the seasonal offerings.  You can choose the frequency of your deliveries (every two weeks for me), postpone a delivery if need be, request to not receive certain items if you don’t like ‘em, and best of all – they deliver!  To my door!  A lot of CSA’s around here require you to pick up, or charge for delivery, and with my schedule the way it is right now that wasn’t an option.  They also have different box options, including a smaller delivery, all fruit or all vegetable.  And apparently they have a permanent storefront in the SF Ferry Building, as well as appearing at multiple farmers markets.  And they send a newsletter with recipes.  Oh, and they post the contents of the box at the beginning of the week, so I can plan ahead and spend way too much time at work fantasizing about what I could make.

I think you can see where this is going.  I got my first CSA delivery.  And I love it.  I think I am going to have a long, happy relationship with all this produce.

There were far too many veggies to fit in one picture, so I went with green and not green.

salad greens, collards, bok choy, leeks, napa cabbage and dino kale

navel oranges, pinova apples, red potatoes, the largest butternut squash I have ever seen, and radicchio

I used the collards for my New Year’s Day meal, and the salad greens for…a salad.  Creative, I know.  The salad went with delivery pizza during the College Football National Championship game.  Go Gators!!!

I used the napa cabbage in some more fried quinoa, along with carrots and peas.  This fried quinoa wasn’t quite as good as the first time I made it, it was a little mushy.  I think the secret might be mixing in some rice.

I was interested in grilling the bok choy.  I found some recipes online that all included a sauce, but I wasn’t up for all that extra work, so I just sprayed them with some oil and grilled plain.  It was interesting – it has potential, but I definitely wouldn’t make bok choy again this way.  The leaves got nice and crispy, but the stems were undercooked and still crunchy, which wasn’t what I was going for.  This meal was better as leftovers, reheated in the microwave and cooked through a bit more.

I’m not a big fan of radicchio, especially raw, so I was very happy that the Farm Fresh To You newsletter came with a recipe for Radicchio and Squash Pappardelle.  I adapted it to be vegan, whole grain and lower in fat.  The taste is very simple; the sweetness of the squash, bitterness of the radicchio and heartiness of the pasta play nicely together.  It would be very good topped with toasted pine nuts or vegan parmesan.

Penne with Butternut Squash & Radicchio

2 Tbs Earth Balance
2 Tbs olive oil
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
3/4 lb radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 oz wholegrain penne

Melt butter and heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add radicchio, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until wilted and just tender, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook penne according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.  Add pasta to radicchio mixture with 1/2 cup cooking water and toss over low heat until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add more cooking water to moisten if necessary.

Serves 4 to 5.

To go along with the pasta, I made a raw kale salad.  I’ve read about this technique to “wilt” kale without cooking, and when I saw a recipe on the Bauman College website I knew I wanted to try it.  The original recipe was for a main course type dish, so I made it more simple and side dish-like.

Raw Kale Salad with Oranges & Pecans

This would be good with dried cranberries or diced apples instead of oranges, or walnuts or pepitas instead of pecans.

1 bunch kale, cleaned, stemmed and finely sliced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 oranges, supremed
1 cup pecans

Place kale in a large bowl.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over kale.  Massage the mixture with your hands, kneading and squeezing until kale begins to wilt.  Add vinegar and lemon juice and toss with tongs to mix.  Divide kale between servings bowls and top with oranges & pecans.

Serves 4.

I knew I wanted to use the leeks and potatoes in a soup, and after searching through all my vegan cookbooks without finding the right recipe, I lucked out with Healthy Life Kitchen by Marilu Henner.  I bought this book on a whim because it was on super sale.  It isn’t exactly my style of cooking, and it includes fish and eggs, but every once in a while I find a nice, simple recipe like this one.

Potato Leek Soup

2 Tbs soy margarine
1 large bunch leeks, julienned
6 new red potatoes, cubed (I left the skins on, or you can peel them)
6 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt
fresh chives

Melt the margarine in a large stockpot over medium-low heat and add the leeks.  Cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until they have softened.

Raise the heat to high, add the potatoes and stock, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Transfer the solids to a blender or food processor and gradually add broth, pulsing until just pureed.  Return the puree to the pot.  Do not overheat.  Add soy milk, nutmeg, black pepper, and salt to taste.  Serve garnished with chives.

The recipe says it makes 8 servings, but for me it was 4.

To go with the soup I made the Smoky Grilled Tempeh from Veganomicon (the broiled variation) and boy oh boy was it every good.  The most juicy tempeh I have ever had.

As if the CSA goodness wasn’t enough, I got another present – my PPK December swap package!  My partner was Evan of Bjorked Off, and he sent some good stuff.

Homemade truffles, dark chocolate, mini Larabars, a photo, a cupcake postcard, Canadian maple syrup, and a pretty syrup-themed trivet that unfortunately broke in transit.  The truffles were amazing, as well as the one piece of chocolate I’ve eaten so far.  I’m not a huge fan of Larabars (can’t get into dates), but these mini bars were the perfect size for snacking without getting tires of the flavor.  The brownie flavor was good for the first bite, but after that it wasn’t very appealing to me.  The cashew cookie flavor was good all the way through.  I might even consider buying a normal size bar of that flavor.  There are people who are obsessed with Larabars though, so don’t take my word for it if you’ve never tried one!  Thanks Evan!

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Magical Roasted Fall Vegetables

I finally got around to using some of the veggies I picked up Saturday, and I decided to make some magic.  With a snap of my fingers, I turned this:

into this:

Okay, just kidding.  Between the chopping and the roasting it took about an hour.  But there was something magical about the flavor, and I’ll tell you what it was.  In addition to the olive oil, kosher salt and copious black pepper that I normally add to roasted veggies, on a whim I mixed in just a bit of apple cider vinegar and maple syrup, and I tell you what…it was a good call.  The combination of fall vegetables with the hints of sweetness and tang was so good.  I love the colors too.  They don’t come through too well under the yellow lights in my kitchen, but the colors reminded me of autumn leaves ready to fall off the tree.

Along with the veggies, I made Millet Mash from You Are What You Eat by Gillian McKeith.  I first saw her on the TV show by the same name on BBC America a couple months ago.  I really enjoyed watching her change people’s lives through diet and exercise, so I picked up the book to learn more about her program.  She has a lot of really good ideas about how to be healthy and lose weight, but it’s almost too much, for me at least.  I’m big on everything in moderation, and her plans and recipes have a very plain jane cleansing aspect.  For me it’s a good reminder of how I should be eating, and a jumping off point to expand upon.

I added leeks to the mash just because I could.  The directions tell you to mash with a potato masher.  I don’t know if I have a bad masher or if it’s just me, but after what felt like 20 minutes mashing it was still chunky, so that is how I ate it.

I liked it alright, because I like all the ingredients.  But it was definitely on the bland side.  So tonight when I had leftovers I added nutritional yeast and dill and whizzed it in the food processor.

Much better.  It’s still not the most flavor-packed side dish, but it’s healthy and I know it and sometimes that’s enough.  I don’t usually give out recipes from cookbooks, but I seriously doubt anybody reading this has the book, so here it is with my additions.

Millet-Cauliflower-Leek Mash

Serves 4.

1 cup millet
1 small head of cauliflower, finely chopped
white parts of 1 to 2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups water
pinch of sea salt
nutritional yeast, parsley and dill to taste

Put water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.  Add the cauliflower, millet and leeks, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Add seasonings and mash well, or blend in a food processor, adding water if necessary.

BF’s cousin stayed here last night, and this morning we all woke up hungry.  I’m calling this my big brown breakfast.

I pretty much always want to make pancakes even though I have yet to find the perfect recipe.  These were very tasty but still flatter than I want.  BF went to the store and I asked for some sort of potato product that wouldn’t take too long to prepare, and he came back with these hash brown patties that I always see in the freezer section and wonder who buys them.  Well, now we have them in our freezer!  I must say, they were pretty good.  Not exactly healthy, but as long as you bake them instead of re-frying they’re not too bad.

I’m off to enjoy a glass of warmed Silk Nog before bed, definitely one of the best parts about this time of year.

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