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Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Expert and The Elf—The Excitement Continues!

Y’all this was an interesting week for The Elf in many ways. First of all, Big Solid (my FBF—Forever Best Friend) was gone so I didn’t focus too much on what to prepare during the nights he was gone. I just sorta ate my way through whatever was on hand. HOWSOMEVER, the weather here was so wretched the first part of the week, especially on Tuesday when we were incapacitated by ice.

The view out of our front door; could have been so much worse!!
So, we had PLUS time in the kitchen…we made two extra loaves of pumpernickel since we gave a loaf away (you can’t have TOO much pumpernickel), a batch of vegan ‘sausage rolls’ (a fabulous appetizer you can freeze and enjoy at a moment’s notice), a DOUBLE batch of that awesome Tempeh Salad from Kittee Berns TEFF LOVE and baked a batch of biscuits to freeze and have handy for Big Solid’s breakfast.

On Wednesday, I wanted to make something special for the folks at ARF/MS (Animal Rescue Fund of MS) so I decided to make mini-lemon bread cupcakes. So, I’d seen a recipe for Lemon Bread with Icing that looked really good…so I printed it out and decided that instead of bread, I’d make little mini-cupcakes that would be easier to handle than having to slice bread. Well, I am NOT sure what I did (or did NOT do) but it was an EPIC FAIL.
Isn't this AWFUL!!
And I waited until such a late hour, that there was not time to re-do (and also stick to my once a week shopping experience), so I totally bailed and bought several dozen donut holes at a local bakery (non-vegan) for them.  I hope to redeem myself this Wednesday, for sure and I already know what I’m going to do.

Wednesday evening, although I was all by my litte Elfself, I prepared the FatFree Vegan Kitchen dish of the week…Skillet Gardener’s Pie  ( I only prepared half the recipe size for two reasons—of course my being solo and the other reason was that the only iron skillet I have is too small for the full size recipe. For some reason, I just REALLY wanted to use the iron skillet. Even though the recipe allows for another type of skillet to be used, there’s just something so soothing and solid about an iron HAD to be.  Well, as you can see, I had an audience (they are still celebrating Mardi Gras) and we organized our ingredients. 
Olivia and Oskar love to oversee and cheer The Elf on
This particular adaptation of Shepherd’s Pie is absolutely DELICIOUS! I was very tempted to use some Boca crumbles or TVP but I decided to stick with Susan’s recipe…and I’m so glad I did. First of all, mashed potatoes are welcome at any meal we have..they are just so soothing. Kinda like a blanket for your stomach. And we have been in serious need of blankets this winter..both external and internal.  The vegetables blended nicely together, the sauce was just the right consistency and the quick trip under the broiler enhanced the potatoes with some nice browning. I think I ate nearly a quarter of that skillet full!  And, when Big Solid got him the next day around lunch time, he dove in it as well. He LOVED it and has typically not been a Shepherd’s Pie kinda guy. So this one is a definite keeper. Thanks Susan Voisin…terrific recipe for a really cold night’s meal.
Fresh from the Broiler and ready to gobble up (or down)
Flash forward to Saturday now and we once again went into a cooking frenzy. We made a double batch of 10 Spice Soup from the Oh, She Glows cookbook (one of the best), a White Bean and Spinach soup (my own concoction) made with Blue Runner beans, onions, spinach and cayenne and about 7 dozen Oatmeal CherryCraisin, and chopped Hazelnut cookies. Took a couple dozen to an Animal Rescue Fund of MS board meeting where I think they were enjoyed. It’s the first time I’ve made these, taking the basic vegan oatmeal cookie recipe and just adding a small bag of the Cherry Craisins and a cup of chopped hazelnuts.  One of the BIGGEST mistakes I ALWAYS seem to make with cookies is cooking them too long; so this time I FORCED mys-Elf to take them out of the oven at 11 min. Even though they came out pretty soft, by the time they sat for a bit, they were just the right consistency…chewy without being mushy. I have a tendency to learn these things the hard way, overcook and nearly cause Big Solid to lose teeth.
Ten Spice Soup with Vegan Cornsticks

White Bean Soup with Spinach (and cayenne!)
Oatmeal Cherry and Hazelnut cookies
That brings us up to speed for today, Sunday March1 (WHERE DID FEBRUARY GO!!). After selecting the new recipe for this coming Wednesday, Tofu and Vegetables with Lower Fat Thai Peanut Sauce:

Our grocery list was finalized and I took off. Well, damned if I didn’t wind up having to go to FOUR stores to get all my stuffs!! Kroger did NOT have extra firm Tofu (WTF!), I had to go to Rainbow Food Co-op for Nutritional Yeast and Vital Wheat Gluten, then tried a kind of grocery thrift store to see what kind of bargains might be found there (wound up leaving empty handed but not without noting their good prices on Blue Runner Red Beans) and wound up at a different area Kroger where I did find the tofu.

So there you go…another fun week in the kitchen with The Elf and another recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen that will be a frequent flyer at our table. I think I almost made my FitBit 10,000 steps this week in the kitchen alone—and damn, I love it.

Y’all have a wonderful week ahead and join us again next Sunday for another riveting culinary experience with The Elf in the Kitchen. So,that’s a wrap for this week…make that a vegan wrap. Til next week, y’all, breathe deep, eat plants and love life.
The Elf

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