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Sunday, January 31, 2016

‘The Wild Eyed Elf from Freecloud’



OK, so this may not be the most popular or well-known Bowie song, but it kinda fits the bill for The Elf today. This restaurant/cookin’ ‘bidness’ is HARD WORK!! And just bein’ a little ole cookie baker, salad girl and hot bar server has us just on the go. We cannot imagine the intensity of actually RUNNIN’ the place and being responsible and all! Whew! There’s something going on ALL the time…
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This week, we did get our café legs under us with three days worth of work. We even got a chance to bake some cookies on Friday. We were really excited when someone came in and bought 20 of them while they were still WARM!! So, that’s inspired us to up the production a bit. Getting used to a commercial convection oven is also a work in process. Fortunately, Chef Joe has been very helpful and supportive to teach The Elf how to set the humidity and timing so as not to turn out a cookie that is either WAY crumbly or burned to a cinder. We DID have a learning moment when the parchment paper blew over some of the cookies, resulting in a couple of pretty awkward looking cookies (we did get to enjoy those, however). We learned to place the cookies strategically to keep the paper in place. These are the E.P.I.C. “Bar None Better” Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies.

For the coming week, we will be featuring a soup from Susan Voisin’s FatFree Vegan Kitchen—Smoky Refried Bean Soup with Fresh Tomato Salsa. We are TOO excited to bring Susan’s recipes to life in the café, for sure. And, if you’re too far away to come enjoy it with us, here’s the link so you can prepare it yourowns-elf.
Susan has been so supportive of The Elf’s blog and such an active member of our Vegan/Plant-based Community, we want to share her good recipes by making them and having folks GET that eating plant-based can be not only healthy but also delicious!
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We think we’ve gotten our days/hours nailed down to maximize our cooking potential and be able to promote plant-based eating. Hopefully, that will allow a bit more time to develop more dishes at home and be able to share those with you as well.
We also wanted to take a moment to thank Big Solid for thirty-one wonderful years of being married. He is the long suffering husband who has endured more epic fails in the kitchen than should ever have to be endured. And yet he stays!

Till next week when we promise to have a little longer blog time, y’all breathe deep, eat plants, laugh a lot, love life and DO EPIC!!

The Elf







Saturday, January 23, 2016

‘LIFE IN THE ELF LANE'

Gosh, it seems like all of the rockers we grew up with and cherish are leaving us…gone too soon. Spread those Eagle wings, Glenn and Godspeed. So, in honor of Glenn Frey, we celebrate with our title this week. Heck, we’ll just try to do titles of great songs—Elfery-adjusted, of course.
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Last week we mentioned that The Elf had a new adventure…cooking vegan stuffs and E.P.I.C. cookies. Well, it got started off with a BLAST of a Preview Party on Monday night! It was beyond our greatest expectations as it was standing room only. The Crossroads Café is not totally vegan or even vegetarian so the crowd was treated to a great variety of dishes. We had the hot bar loaded with (vegans, close your eyes) roasted turkey, a host of yummy vegetables, smoothies and juices. I never KNEW how many juice combinations there could be. Lynn is our JUICER SUPREME and believes in the power of juice. She keeps a spotless juicing center where magical concoctions occur.

We had a terrific blues duo who entertained us with some of the great blues songs of all times from the great blues singers of all times…Buddy Guy, Otis Redding, Mississippi’s own late B.B. King to name a few and THEN threw in some Led Zepplin, Beatles, and Bob Marley -- "Every Little Thing is Gonna Be All Right'.

Folks had a wonderful time eating, mixing and mingling. 

The Elf made Cauliflower Fried Rice as the vegan option which included sautéed plant-based chicken pieces. People were really surprised at a) the ‘rice’ was actually cauliflower that had been ‘processed’ to appear like rice and b) that the ‘chicken’ was actually plant-based. One gentleman said, “You know you can’t call this vegan because there’s chicken in here”. We told him that it was a plant-based ‘chicken’ and he said, “How do you know?” to which we replied, “We made it.” Here’s The Elf in her debut! We also prepared an 11 Spice Soup with a cashew cream base that folks really enjoyed..especially on a chilly MS evening.

Smoothies by John (the owner and driving force behind The Crossroads Café), juice samples, energy bar samples, and the hot bar ruled the evening. Brandon and Henry were kept MORE than busy making sure we did not run short of clean utensils and dishes!

 



And then there were the EPIC cookies for everyone to sample. We made about 250 cookies—‘Slap Your Own Face’ Oatmeal Walnut Cherry Crasin and ‘Bar None Better’Oatmeal Chocolate Chip. Folks seemed to like them as there were none left at the end of the night!


The Superstar of the Evening (beside visionary John and The Crossroads Café itsowns-elf) was the Chef—Joe! He was a mixture of whirling dervish, concertmaster, juice tester/taster, and poise under pressure as he had complete control of his kitchen. His dishes were awesome and people realized right off the bat that he’s the real deal! But, he IS hard to get a picture of because he won’t be still!
 

And finally, at the end of the night, after all the patrons and music folk had left, we cleaned, scrubbed, mopped, swept and ‘high-fived’ a great evening. We also got everyone to be still enough to take a group shot. Some CC staff had already left for other obligations, this isn’t everyone. From left to right, we have Morgan, Henry, Joe, Sunny, Jori, Holly, Brandon, Lynn, John, and yours truly, The Elf in the Crossroads Café.

Opening day on Wednesday brought a separate set of challenges and we won’t say the day went perfectly..gosh, there’s a LOT to this food ‘bidness’ but each day has gotten better. One of the cool things about John is his enthusiasm to promote healthy eating (as T.E. continues to work on his plant-based eating). We asked if we could feature a vegan item from Susan Voisin’s FatFree Vegan Kitchen at least once a week and promote her as a local vegan enthusiast. He was all for it, so we will continue to cook what we’ll call ‘Something from Susan’ and highlight it on our recipe board. That way we can report out to you how Susan’s recipes wow the public as well as The Elf. Not sure about next week, but definitely the week after!
OH!! And one MORE thing! Yesterday, John unveiled a LOVELY COMMERCIAL mixer so The Elf can make and bake LOTS more E.P.I.C. (remember, Eating Plant-based Is Cool) cookies! As soon as we return from our trip (we had to postpone because of this wretched weather), we are gonna dive into that baby with gusto! We are also thinkin’ of some new vegan dishes to add to the menu. Gonna be fun! Gonna be challenging!! Gonna be El-FINE! If you are in the area, you can find (and eat with) us at 398 Highway 51 in Ridgeland MS.
We are next door to John's other great venture, Healthway Foods!  And, we also have a Facebook page:
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Til next week, y’all breathe deep, eat plants, laugh a lot, love life and DO EPIC!
The Elf!



Sunday, January 17, 2016

“GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR Elf”



Well, was there any doubt of what this week’s blog title would be? The Elf has been a David Bowie fan since he first burst on the scene a million or so years ago AND “Space Oddity” has been TE’s ring tone ever since the technically challenged Elf figured out how to load it.

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This week’s blog will be a short one as there are so many irons in the proverbial fire right now, we can hardly breathe!! First, we’ll report on the FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe from last week..Golden Potato and Tempeh Casserole.
We love tempeh at the Kinky Elfery Kitchen and we also love casseroles…so this was a no-brainer. Howsomever, we would be remiss without some background on our casserole history. When The Elf and Big Solid first got wedded, Big Solid was NOT a fan of either soups or casseroles. As the years keep rolling by, he has become much more of a fan. First of soups and next of casseroles. Typically when one thinks of casseroles, the immediate picture comes to mind of cheese, creamy sauces, more cheese, ground beef, some more creamy stuffs and topped with cheese. So, this Golden Potato and Tempeh casserole had that comfort food look with a lot less fat laden animal stuffs.
When we started putting this recipe together, we kinda had some doubts as to how it would turn out. The sauce was lovely but it seemed like it would be way too much for the casserole to ‘gel’. However, we followed the directions to the ‘t’, including letting it rest for a few minutes after taking it out of the NEW oven. Sure ‘nuf, it served up quite nicely, so the doubts began to dissipate. Then, we tasted it and all doubts were GONE. It was delicious. We highly recommend.
 

 The pictures are not that great (our vegan parmesan cheese didn’t really brown) but trust your Elf…make this because it’s awesome.
We will miss this week with FFVK for reasons that you will see shortly (plus an unscheduled trip out of town). BUT, we most certainly will be back on board the week of January 24th. We’ll give some serious thought to the recipe for that week, since it’s the week of our 31st anniversary!
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Now! For the latest Elfin adventure and the reason we’ll be kinda BUSY next week (in addition to the trip).

Yep! The Elf is going to be cooking at the Crossroads Café in beautiful downtown Ridgeland MS!! We are both excited to elfin pieces and sorta terrified. The Crossroads Café is the brainchild of John Shrewsberry who owns/runs Healthway health food store next door. He wanted The Elf to make a few vegan options for his menu AND to bake vegan cookies. We initially plan to work part-time (two days a week) and see how it goes. We’ve been practicin’ in the CC kitchen during this week…testing out how cookies bake in their GREAT convection oven. Opening day is Wednesday Jan. 20, but we are having an open house tomorrow, Monday, for folks/customers to drop in and sample some of the dishes that will be offered on the menu. The Café will specialize in organic food (and yes there will be meat served but The Elf won’t be involved with that), juices, smoothies, good soups (one vegan) and other delicious stuffs. So, keep your fingers crossed that all goes well. If nothing else, The Elf will learn something and in the YOTS, it keeps life interesting, for sure. Hopefully, next week, we’ll be able to share some open house/opening day pictures with you. We have been able to do a lot of initial prep work for our dishes tomorrow (an entrée, a soup and cookies), so the Kinky Elfery Kitchen has been a place of intense activity.
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We have given a name to our cookies—E .P.I.C.©  (Eating Plant-based Is Cool!) We will bake two kinds initially and expand into gluten free and other variations as we get more practice behind us. We’ll have ‘Bar None Better’ Oatmeal chocolate chip and ‘Slap Your Own Face’ Oatmeal Cherry/Craisin Walnut. Those were the two that sold so well at Wellsfest this past year so we decided to stick with what seemed to work best. We’d rather bake two cookies really well than over-extend and mess up.
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Til next week, y’all breathe deep, eat plants (remember E.P.I.C.), laugh a lot, love life and DO EPIC!!
The Elf