Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie

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Our CSA provided rhubarb one week and strawberries the next. I have to be honest, my rhubarb pies in the past have not been good. I was very worried about attempting a new one. Luckily, a friend shared a rhubarb tip and this pie was incredible.

4 cups washed and diced fresh rhubarb

1 cup washed and diced fresh strawberries

1 TBS margarine

1 and 1/3 cups sugar plus more for preparing the rhubarb

6 TBS flour

2 of your favorite pie crusts

Start by preparing the rhubarb a few days ahead. Once cleaned and chopped, I place the rhubarb in a bowl and mixed in enough sugar to coat. Then I placed the bowl in the fridge for 24 hours to let the tart juice drain from the rhubarb. The next day I drained the rhubarb and placed in a freezer safe dish with lid and froze. When I was finally ready to make my pie, I placed the rhubarb back in the fridge to thaw.

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare your favorite pie crusts and place the bottom layer in the pie pan. Combine sugar and flour and evenly pour about 1/4 of it into the pie pan. Drain the rhubarb again and measure how much rhubarb there is. Add diced fresh strawberries to the rhubarb until there is 4 cups of filling. Pour filling into pie pan and sprinkle remaining sugar and flour mixture over the filling. Randomly dot the top with margarine. Cover pie with second crust and make sure there are vents for steam to escape. Place pie on lowest oven rack and bake for 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350 and bake another 40 to 45 minutes. Look for thick bubbles from the filling but no burnt crust to know when done.

Serve hot or cold. Extra yummy with a scoop of vanilla vegan ice cream or coconut cream (see parfet recipe). Enjoy!

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Daiya Provolone Slices

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These cheese slices are another recent find at my grocery store and I was thrilled to see them. I ran home to make a panini just like the one on the package and was not disappointed. It was delicious! Melty and yummy. I placed Tofurkey slices, mushrooms, and spinach into the panini and will be doing that again. Try for yourself!

Baked Tofu Wraps

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Baked tofu is wonderful in the summer because I can make it over the weekend and then have it in wraps, sandwiches, stir fries, and salads. The CSA was supplying lots of lettuce, so I made lettuce wraps most recently. So yummy! To make the tofu, you will need:

1 package extra-firm tofu, set to drain for at least 10 minutes

½ cup whole white wheat flour

½ cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 TBS basil

1 TBS onion powder

½ tsp black pepper

Bragg’s liquid aminos

Coconut oil spray

Preheat oven to 350. Cut the tofu into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. Combine dry ingredients in a shallow bowl; this is the breading. Spray a cookie sheet with coconut oil. Brush Bragg’s liquid aminos onto each side of the tofu and cover the tofu completely with the breading. Place tofu slices onto cookie sheet with at least 1/2 an inch between them. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the tofu over and bake the opposite side for another 15 minutes. Check that the tofu is the crispiness you desire and if not, continue to bake in 15 minute increments turning every time until it is what you would like. Cooled baked tofu can be refrigerated for several days.

The spices in the breading can be altered to what is in your pantry or what your tastebuds are drawn to.

Enjoy!

Coconut Oil Spray

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I worry about the smoke point of the oils I cook with. Once the temperature is too high for an oil, the composition of the oil changes and can become carcinogenic. The last thing I want to do is turn a healthy oil into something unhealthy. Coconut oil has a very high smoke point and is an easy oil to cook with, especially if the dish is complimented by a slight coconut flavor. I was thrilled to find coconut oil in a spray form at Trader Joe’s. It’s working well for me and very easy to use.

Vegan Food Crawl

There is a vegan food crawl tonight at 7:oo p.m. CDT in Omaha. I will be Facebooking and Tweeting during the event. If interested in what a vegan food crawl could be like, join me in Twitter at @aneverydayvegan or in Facebook.

The crawl is to four different restaurants with vegan options already prepared for the group. Attendees purchased their tickets in advance and organizers have been releasing clues on Instagram for the last week. I think I have three of the four crawl stops figured out, but clues have been cryptic. I got an email about 48 hours ago that shared where to start the crawl.

It should be a lot of fun!

Gazpacho

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Our CSA gave us cucumbers, tomatoes, and yellow bell pepper. I HAD to make gazpacho and it was delicious. What you need:

3 cups tomato juice with the lowest salt content possible

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup sweet red wine

4 shakes Tabasco or other hot sauce

3 ripe roma tomatoes, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and diced

4 small or pickling cucumbers, diced

Vegan sour cream; I like Tofutti

Place everything but the sour cream in a blender and start blending at a low setting. After about 20 to 30 seconds, begin to speed up the blender every 30 seconds or so until everything is blended but with a little chunky left. If the blender is a bit small, this can be accomplished in batches. The soup can be served right away or chilled. Ladle into blows with a spoonful of sour cream for fun. Enjoy!

15 Years Vegan

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July is a special month for me. I made a commitment to myself, with the help of a friend, 15 years ago this July to be vegan. I had been working up to the decision, literally working towards it, and the final change came easy. But my journey was and remains difficult.

Everyone has their own special reason to be vegan and every reason is valuable. No one reason is more important or valuable than another. Being vegan is a loving choice for yourself, animals, and the planet. No matter the motivation, you are making real change in a world full of reasons not to be vegan.

I have an intolerance to animal proteins and I was born with the intolerance. I am unable to easily digest animal proteins and get terrible stomach cramps from trying to eat them. As a child, I just assumed everyone experienced this. I had no reason to think otherwise. After I ate, I just had to be still and let the pain pass. It wasn’t until high school that certain foods would completely incapacitate me for hours. My mother took me to see a doctor and after several miserable tests to make sure I didn’t have things like cancer, the doctor just told me to cut out the foods I reacted to most and exercise more because stress must be facilitating my reactions. This began my journey to veganism and it took another 10 years until I became fully vegan.

So I began to cut out the biggest offenders to my stomach. The only problem was that as I cut out some things, I began to react more to others. My list of animal proteins kept getting smaller and smaller. Dairy was the hardest to give up and I had to do it slowly. I loved cheese and today I still hear people say things like, “I can’t be vegan because I love cheese!” I had to kill this habit slowly.

I started with small goals. The first goal was to cut dairy out of at least one meal a day. I did this for several weeks until I was comfortable with my new food choices. Since I have an intolerance, I cut dairy from breakfast and would feel great in the mornings. After several weeks, I moved to only having dairy once a day. I already mentioned how as I cut things out, the lingering animal proteins in my diet became more pronounced. This fact made it easier to keep cutting dairy. After several weeks at once a day, I went to once every other day. Then I went to every three days and then once a week. I would save my once a week to spending time with my girlfriends and we would eat ice cream. I always felt terrible afterwards, even though I would enjoy the time with my friends. Once I was at every two weeks, giving it up completely was easy.

I took the final step with a friend who was motivated by wanting to hurt fewer animals. We had different motivations, but a singular goal and encouraged each other every step. This was important because 15 years ago, there were few tasty alternatives at the grocery store. The town I lived in had no vegetarian restaurants and when I would travel, most vegetarian restaurants were terrible. I’m not sure how they stayed in business.

Today, being vegan is so easy in comparison. This first few years after becoming vegan I would still crave foods I had loved before, but would remember the pain from eating them. Yes, I had a special motivator. But, that does not make my journey any less important. Today, I no longer crave the foods I once did and I have forgotten what most of them taste like.

I love my vegan life. I long for the day, and truly see it coming, when being vegan is not the “weirdo in the room” scenario that often plays out. I am much healthier for this choice and I wish everyone could feel the vitality I do. Don’t get me wrong, lots of non-vegans feel vitality, but with two thirds of people in the United States obese or overweight, a bunch of people are not feeling vital or healthy right now.

Happy anniversary to me! Any ideas on how I should celebrate?

Nachos

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Last week I wrote about using a new shredded vegan cheese for nachos. One of my favorite things to eat in the summer is nachos and I realized that maybe some would like to know how I make delicious nachos. There are two important tips I have learned over the years for great nachos. The first tip my brother taught me and that is every chip gets refried beans. Every single chip intended for the plate gets some refried beans. The second tip is to use the freshest ingredients possible. For example, make the guacamole rather than buying pre-made guacamole. What you will need:

Tortilla chips

Vegetarian refried beans

Vegan shredded cheese, I use a jack or mozzarella

1 large avocado

1 TBS juice from a lemon

1 can large black olives with pits removed, sliced

2 medium tomatoes, seeds removed, diced

Vegan sour cream

Mash the avocado with the lemon juice to make a simple guacamole. Place a glop of refried beans on every chip and arrange one layer on a plate. Layer with cheese and microwave until the cheese melts, about a minute. Randomly glop on guacamole and sour cream to your liking. Layer on tomatoes and olives. Enjoy!

 

Vegan Gourmet Shreds

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Vegan Gourmet has provided vegan cheese that tastes yummy for many years. So, I was excited to see a shredded cheese option in new flavors at the grocery store. I picked up the Fiesta Blend and made some delicious nachos. It melted well and had a creamy consistency that I want from vegan cheese. The Fiesta Blend did not disappoint for a bit of a spicy kick. If you can find them, they are worth a try. Enjoy!

Radish Green Pesto

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As part of our CSA, radishes with their greens still attached are often supplied. The greens can be a spicy addition to a stir fry, but I wondered what else I could do with them. A rumor came my way that pesto could be made from them. Interesting. After some experimenting, some yummy pesto is now in my freezer. And I made this yummy pasta and veggie dish to smother in spicy radish green pesto.

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What you will need:

1/2 cup washed radish greens, packed tight

1/2 cup washed fresh basil, packed tight

The juice of half a fresh lemon

1 tsp chopped garlic

3 TBS pine nuts

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 TBS olive oil + more if desired for consistency

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. About half way through, make sure to scrape down the sides to ensure all ingredients are chopped smoothly. If not using immediately, the pesto is best stored in portion sized containers (about 2 ounces) covered by a layer of olive oil. This will ensure the color does not change to brown. The pesto can be frozen and defrosted later. Enjoy!