Posts Tagged grits

Care Packages, Laptop Lunches & Works In Progress

We successfully broke all the internets at our house (wireless AND non-), and with no solution in sight I am bringing you this post from my work computer.  So, I’m gonna jam a bunch of stuff in and keep it brief.

Firstly, I have been receiving a lot of love in food-related form lately, and I wanted to share the love with everyone!

I participated in my third PPK care package swap, and this time my partner was from Japan and sent me all manner of awesome Japanese stuff.

some sort of seitan stars (“fu”), a sushi mat, cooking chopsticks made of bamboo, shiratamako and red bean paste for attempting daifuku, and candy from Kyoto

candy closeup

Bento toys!  nori stamp machine that makes faces, onigiri molds, small containers, flag picks, a small monkey bento box int he back, little utensils, soy sauce bottles with animal heads, chopsticks in a case and monkey mayo holders.  I’m definitely going to have to go Japanese in some upcoming lunches.

I felt kinda bad when I got all this awesomeness because I mostly sent my partner Mexican food supplies and junk food.  That’s what we do well here!  Although he said he ate the Tings and Eco Planet Cheddar Crackers in one sitting each, so I think those went over well.

A few weeks ago I got a completely unexpected box in the mail from my mom.   She had read my blog post about having difficulty finding grits out here and sent me a “box of stuff Erin can’t find in CA”.

Satchel’s secret salad dressing, quick grits, yellow grits, a cute Publix tote bag, a cute notecard, and Southern Living.  Yeehaw!  Unfortunately, Satchel’s dressing is NOT vegan (which I only learned after eating it many times and falling in love…it has honey…sorry mom!), but fortunately a friend of mine who also recently moved out here from Gainesville loves it, so I’m going to pay the dressing forward.

This same friend gave me some love too!  Although she sent this over the day after I mentioned the dressing…hmm…Anyway, she’s an amazing gardener and lives in a house that already had some goodness growing in the backyard.  Thanks Hope!

lemons, mint, rosemary, thyme, keffir lime leaves, oregano and parsley

But I don’t just receive, I also give!  Remember back in November when I celebrated my 1,000th comment by promising to send whomever posted it a package of sweets?  Anybody?  No?  Well, Megan from The Sisters Vegan happened to win, and she happens to live in Berkeley, which is where I happen to work.  So we agreed to meet up for dinner one night after work, at which time I could give her her goodies.  She’s been testing for the upcoming cookie cookbook, so she was all cookied out and requested no cookies.  And said that it would be nice to have something she could grab for breakfast on the way out the door to work.  Enter muffins!

Full Meal Muffins from Vegan Lunchbox.  These have zucchini, pomegranate juice (subbed for the apple juice called for), bananas, walnuts and raisins, and I subbed in some quinoa flour for a bit of extra protein.  They’re completely sugar-free, sweetened by the bananas and juice and raisins.  They turned out sweet enough, I suppose, but next time I make them I’ll probably add a bit of sugar or stevia.

Smoky Jalapeno Corn Muffins.  Made from my Buttermilk Cornbread recipe, with added jalapeno, roasted corn from TJ’s (freezer section), and liquid smoke.

These were the real star, to me at least – Butterscotch Scones.  I had a bag of butterscotch chips in the pantry screaming to be used, and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of butterscotch muffins, so I decided on scones.  Even though I’ve only made scones once, and they turned out just okay.  The first time I used the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, and while it’s entirely possible that I botched up the recipe, I wanted to make more “authentic” scones, using the pastry cutting method that most biscuits call for.  So I looked in the good ol’ Betty Crocker Cookbook where I was sure I would find a scone recipe, and lo and behold, there it was.  Veganized very easily, and these babies turned out beautiful.  I typed out just the general recipe, so obviously you can add whatever extra ingredients you want, like nuts or fruit, but I would highly recommend the butterscotch chips if you have ’em.

Vegan Scones

1 3/4 c flour
3 Tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c Earth Balance, cold
6-8 Tbs soy creamer
coarse sugar
1/2 c add-ins (butterscotch or chocolate chips, fruit, etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the Earth Balance using a pastry cutter until there are no large pieces of margarine and the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in 6 Tbs creamer, just until the flour mixture is moistened. If there is still unincorporated flour, add creamer by the tablespoonful, just until mixture comes together. Gently fold in any additional ingredients.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll in the flour to coat. Knead gently 10 times. Pat into an 8-inch circle on an ungreased baking sheet. Cut into 8 wedges with a knife dipped in flour, and do not separate wedges. Brush the top with additional soy creamer, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
4. Bake 15-18 minutes, until the scones are turning golden and the tops don’t give in to the touch. Immediately remove from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack, using a knife to separate the scones if needed. Serve warm.

Makes 8 scones.

On to the lunches!

4-6  lentil & tempeh-stuffed collards, dill pickle cashews (Archer Farms brand), pretzel nuggets, rosemary foccacia, boiled beets, strawberries

4-7 sandwich (multigrain toast, tofurkey, tofutti cheese slice, baby greens, gourmet mustard & red onion jam), broccoli & carrot sticks, goddess dressing, dried apricots, raisins & sour gummies

4-9 garlic crusted grit cakes, succotash, mango-habanero sauce, snapea crisps, lime cucumbers, prunes & dried cherries

4-13 tofusteak sandwich on ezekiel bun with greens & mustard,
bbq crisps, coleslaw, strawberries

4-14 salad stirfry, brown rice, clover sprouts, cucumbers &
sesame seeds, tangerines

4-16 lentil & tempeh-stuffed collards, pasta salad, corn muffin,
kiwi & strawberries

4-17 lentil & tempeh-stuffed collards, multigrain crackers, apple pieces, carrots with goddess dressing, cookies

And finally, I’m very fond of the W.I.P posts on Musing From The Fishbowl.  It stands for work in progress, and they’re crafty works which are posted on Wednesdays.  Other bloggers have joined in too – one who stands out for having super cute crafty posts is Amanda from Walking The Vegan Line.

I wish I could join in on these posts, but the problem is I’m just not crafty.  I’ll sew or make something every once in a while, but the craft is not in my blood.  However, I have a few food projects that I’m working on, so I thought I’d share them as works in progress.

I first posted a picture of this dish that I’m working on for a cooking contest here, asking if anyone could identify the triangles, and giving the hint that they’re not tofu.

The most popular guess was polenta, and that’s really SO close!  They’re grit cakes.  This is Garlic-Crusted Grit Cakes with Succotash Hash, Mango-Habanero Sauce and Quick Pickles.  BF says it’s too complicated, but the contest rules say that you have to prepare it within two hours, and I can do that, and sometimes complicated is how I roll.  I need at least one more run at this one and the contest deadline is the end of this month, so I need to get moving on it.

Another one I’m working on for a different contest is Creamy Corn Pudding.  My mom makes this for almost every family holiday gathering and it’s so good, but it’s full of butter and milk and eggs, so no corn pudding for me.  No more!

It’s not perfect yet, but it’s darned close.  I also need at least one more go at this one.

I posted a picture of this Swiss Chard Risotto two posts ago, and I thought I would have it perfect this time, but alas I didn’t have any white wine and subbed in with white wine vinegar and it was a little too much.  Luckily, I’m getting chard again in my CSA tomorrow and I think with one more try it will be perfect.

That’s it for now.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to post again because we’re cheap and refuse to pay to fix our internets.  Until then!

update:  BF fixed the internets, hooray!  He is now a wireless router reconfiguration master.

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Cheesy Meals

I just did NOT feel like blogging all this week.  I had very low energy for whatever reason and decided to take it easy.  I have been cooking though, so here are some cheesy meals.

When I professed my love for grits, my mom commented saying that she had just seen a recipe for Broccoli-Cheese Grits in Southern Living magazine.  I think she suggested it partially in jest, since obviously I don’t eat cheese.  But I got to thinking that I love grits, and I love broccoli, and most of the time I like faux cheese, so what the heck?  I’ll make me some Broccoli-Cheese Grits.

The recipe is online here.  SouthernLiving.com has this odd recipe search system where it takes you to an issue index first, then to the recipe.  Weird.

Anyway, you could probably figure out the recipe without a recipe.  It has, oh, let’s see…broccoli, cheese, grits, salt and pepper.  It tastes really good though, probably mostly because I love broccoli and grits.  For the cheese I made the Chedda variation of the Colby Cheez from The Uncheese Cookbook, which I had made before and liked.  It doesn’t melt like real cheese, but it surprisingly shredded very easily, and provided leftovers for grilled cheese sammiches.

On the side I sauteed onions, mushrooms and black eyed peas and seasoned it with apple cider vinegar and hot sauce.  Boring but good.  And I served it in a mug just for fun, because mugs are cute and taking a picture of two things in two bowls is not so cute.

I got a big head of leaf lettuce in my last CSA, so I wanted to make a salad.  Specifically a huge, giant, filling salad with lots of fun stuff.  I had to make a trip to the Mexican market anyway, so I decided to go for a fajita salad and make use of some authentic Mexican ingredients.

Half a head of leaf lettuce, sauteed onions, green & red bell peppers and portobello mushrooms, sauteed seitan chicken strips, homemade refried beans, nopalitos (cactus in brine), radishes, shredded cheese leftover from above, baked tortilla strips, very hot salsa and guacamole.  You can’t even see the sauteed veggies!  This salad was gargantuan, I tell you.  So much that I couldn’t finish it, because…

BF joined me in the dinner making and prepared a sopa, or Mexican soup, just like his mom makes it.  Except vegetarian (she uses chicken broth).  The ingredients are only oil, pasta, veggie broth, tomato sauce and salt, and we topped our bowls with Tapatio and black pepper, but boy oh boy is this ever good!

I don’t know what it is about this sopa, but if I didn’t also have a giant salad to eat I could’ve consumed many, many more bowls.  When bf’s mom makes it there’s much more broth and much less pasta, but I like it this way just fine.  The soup was done before the fajitas were ready, so it sat in the pot staying warm and the pasta got all mushy and yum.

When I got more fresh artichoke from the CSA, I didn’t really want to eat it plain steamed like last time.  That’s good and all, but I like to mix it up.  I had pizza crust waiting in the freezer, so I decided to steam the artichoke, scrape out the good stuff, chop it up and see if it could hold it’s own on a pizza.

The other ingredients were caramelized red onion, roasted red peppers and Follow Your Heart mozzarella.  Who says FYH doesn’t melt?  When I first had Teese I kind of wrote off FYH because I like Teese better, but to get Teese I have to cross the Bay Bridge or order online, and FYH is a mere 15 minute drive with no traffic, so I think I may buy it more often since I now remember that I like it.

The verdict on the artichoke is that it totally works plain on pizza.  It doesn’t quite have the oomph that marinated artichoke hearts have, but it provided a subtle background flavor that complimented the other toppings very well.

I decided at the last minute to go with personal-sized pizzas, just because they’re fun, and that way I could make one the perfect size to fit in my lunchbox.  Also, my original plan was to make the caramelized red onion sauce from my stromboli recipe, but at the same time I was preparing the pizza components I was also working on my first canning project (to be discussed in a future post), so I went sauceless and added the onion whole, which was quite alright in the end.

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I <3 Grits.

This post is dedicated to my love for grits.  I grew up eating them for breakfast, preferably with gobs of butter.  I took grits for granted my whole life until now, as they were readily available at any store.

Not in Northern California!  I looked in every grocery store in the area.  I found one brand of instant grits and gave it a try, but no matter what ratio of grits to water I used or how long I nuked them, they turned out horribly.

(Yes, I’m sure no self-respecting southerner would admit to microwaving their grits.  I grew up making the instant stuff in the microwave, and in the microwave it shall remain.)

Well, I got to missing my grits so much that I decided to order some online.

And by some, I mean twelve boxes with twelve packets each.  It was the best deal by far!  And I will definitely eat it all eventually.

My favorite way to eat grits is for breakfast, with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a bit of nutritional yeast.  Sometimes if I’m feeling indulgent I’ll add a pat of Earth Balance or a sprinkle of Bacos, or make the grits with soy milk instead of water, which makes them so creamy.  I’ve also eaten grits as a side dish with dinner.

Inspired by Stefan on Top Chef, who served gumbo on grits (which Emeril Lagasse said he had never seen before), I decided to take my grits to the next level.  By putting stuff on top of them.

I’m calling this Mexi-grits.  It’s just leftover filling from my cheesy bean and cheese enchiladas on grits.

This is leftover smoky tempeh crumbles over grits.  I ❤ grits.  If you haven’t ever tried them, do so!

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