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Monday, April 25, 2016

"Purple Elf"

Gosh..another week has flown by in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen. Lots of cookie bakin’ going on and your Elf took a major leap of faith with getting an iMac ‘bad-ass’ computer. That bein’ said, today’s blog will be short and sweet (using natural sweeteners, of course) since our new BA machine won’t be accessible until tomorrow. And, it will probably take your Elf a substantial amount of practice to move about smoothly in the world of MACs! Keep your fingers crossed. Introducing MacElf!

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Before we report out on our FatFree Vegan Kitchen’s recipe this week, we revisited one of our top 10 recipes from 2015 on Tuesday. The Monterey Frittata was a recipient of a Kinky Elfy and with good reason.
It’s delicious and lends itself to a variety of spice modifications, if you’re of a mind to do that. When we prepared this (or as we say in the South, when we ‘fixed’ this) we noted that it might be fun to throw in a handful of baked corn chips to add a bit of crunch and kick the cayenne up a notch or two as well. So, we did and it was wonderful! We highly recommend this delicious dish. Don’t be intimidated by the three part recipe…it’s not that complicated and comes together nicely. Actually, it’s a lot easier because Susan had the foresight to separate out the ‘body’ of the frittata (the tofu and veggie ingredients), the ‘spice’ mix (a quick mix of flavors that can be experimented with) and the ‘cheesy’ sauce (really lovely and adds just the right amount of cheesy flavor). We added our baked tortilla chips just prior to serving on top of the cheese sauce. Twas a nice touch!
Our FFVK recipe this week has yet to be cooked but, alas, the day is young! We actually have our ‘mis en place’ to ‘fix’ the Fruit Medley Cobbler.
http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/02/valentines-dessert-1-fruit-medley.html
Tonight is our monthly Vestal Vegans dinner club at Gigi’s and this recipe will be the Elf’s contribution (well, one of them. The other is cookies, what elfse?). First, we combined the fruit and maple syrup/vanilla and put in an 8” baking dish.

Then we topped that mixture with walnut pieces, though you can use pecan if you prefer. We happen to love walnuts. Next we combined our applesauce and turbinado sugar (and yes, we had that on hand) with the oats, flour and spices and spread over the fruit mixture. This was baked for about 30 minutes at 350 and voila!! Deliciousness.

 We brought some So Delicious Cashew Milk Cappucino Ice Cream to top our warm cobbler and we are here to tell you that this is a FANTASTIC dessert along with an E.P.I.C. cookie, for sure!
As for next week’s FFVK recipe, we are going to revisit yet another of our favorites from 2015, only…you know, we haven’t decided which one we want to make. Our ‘elf-hunch’ is most likely the Healthy Hash Brown Casserole recipe but you’ll just have to read next week to see. Heck, we may surprise you (and Susan)! 

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We have a few pics of the Garden of the Elf but right now, there’s just not that much to see. It’s been such a cool spring, we waited until the soil warmed up a bit to plant. AND, we have revisited our Earth Boxes for our tomato plants. The little bitty garden we have has been over-planted with tomatoes which meant that we had a PUH-THET-IC harvest last year. Plus, this spot is getting increasingly shadier with the growth of some trees/crepe myrtles. So, we cleaned out our EBs, found some great organic soil and a place that gets full sun most of the day but not always the full heat (which come July/August will be a godsend). So, here we have EB #1 containing the heirlooms Cherokee Purple and Indigo Rose

Next is EB#2 with heirloom Pink Brandywine and hybrid Big Boy.

EB#3 so far has only one plant, heirloom Mr. Stripey. We have space for one more plant and will wait about a week before planting it so we’ll have some transitional tomatoes (being optimistic here) from when these first ones begin to diminish and we plant our fall tomatoes.

The rest of the garden is slim pickin’s but we do have spaghetti squash and white eggplant.

Also planted are okra, cucumbers, beets and zucchini but right now, there’s nothing you can make out that would be meaningful. But, you have the ‘baseline’ and as things start to grow (or not), we’ll keep you up to date.
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Next week, we’ll review the FFVK ‘repeat fave recipe’ as well as share some of the frivolity of a most entertaining, fun and strong group of women.

We’ve been meeting monthly for a while now to share vegan food, loves and losses, joys and tragedies, animal tales, and a commitment to plant-based eating. Last night’s gathering was nothing short of spectacular. In the meantime—remember to laugh a lot, eat plants, love life and DO EPIC! And it goes without saying that our blog title is our elfin tribute to Prince and the loss of his enormous talent.
Your Elf!



Sunday, April 17, 2016

“WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE ELF THAT NEVER ENDS”

We are BACK with our second grouping of our top TEN FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipes for 2015…otherwise known as the KINKY ELFIES! We also had some EPIC-NESS in the Elf household this week becoming a member of the C-Spire Fiberhood! Very exciting to be a part of such an endeavor and we have such blazing internet speed that it boggles the elfin mind (not a hard task at all). So, may we have the envelope(s) please….
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The SIXTH KINKY ELFIE goes to the MONTEREY FRITTATA from June 15 2015! Before going totally plant-based, your Elf loved omelets and frittatas, so this recipe was a no-brainer. We were just not quite sure how a frittata using tofu would work. We, BOY HOWDY! We were thrilled, for sure. It’s quite a fabulous meal which makes us realize we need to make this again. It is a bit labor intensive but that end result makes the elf-fort ok.  See! We couldn’t even get a whole picture, we ate it so fast!
http://the-elf-in-the-kitchen.blogspot.com/2015/06/elf-on-hot-tin-roof.html
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KINKY ELFIE number SEVEN is awarded to the FFVK’s SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE PIE from July 5 2015. Looks like June of 2015 was a capital month for FFVK recipes! But we digress. Not only was this a delicious recipe, it also challenged your Elf with the use of phyllo dough. So, not the easiest of recipes (IF you haven’t gotten the hang of working with phyllo) but OH SO WORTH IT! You’ll see we mentioned the trepidation early on that was quickly dismissed once the ‘PIE’ was finished. Plus it was damn pretty!
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Following that recipe, The Expert and The Elf took a brief hiatus to finish out the long hot MS summer. Our Expert/Elf project returned November 8 2015 with our KINKY ELFIE number EIGHT! So, right of the bat, we had another total success. PASTA FAGIOLI WITH CRANBERRY BEANS AND KALE. This has proven to be one of our MOST successful soups ever! And there’s a reason for that…it’s delicious. One thing you do have to remember with this soup is that there is pasta in it…so best to cook your pasta separately (and keep it al dente) and add it as you serve the soup. If you keep it in the soup over time, it cooks way too soft and soaks up so much of the soup liquid, it’s like a stew. It’s a lesson we learned the hard way initially but not anymore. Also, while we are at it, we’ve always tried to obtain all of the same ingredients that Susan Voisin uses rather than substitute. We’d never heard of Cranberry Beans but found them at Kroger. Sometimes, living in the south, we run short of finding some ingredients that may be available in larger venues. In any event, this is a wonderfully filling and warm soup for a fall dinner.
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Thanksgiving finds us celebrating our NINTH KINKY EFLIE, VEGAN BROCCOLI AND RICE CASSEROLE. This and many years, we find ours-elfs having our Thanksgiving feast with our BFFs Jesse and Mary Evelyn Dees. They are not plant-based but go above and beyond to prepare at least one or two vegetable dishes without butter. It seems only fair that The Elf prepare a dish that would stand up to the scrutiny of several non plant-based eating folks. Well, this one found a home in the mouths, stomachs and hearts of everyone. And it is a lovely addition to any table. As we said in the blog, this may just be one of the most popular recipes we’ve made of the top 10. And it’s easy to make. Don’t let the number of ingredients deter you; once you get everything lined up and ready (remember ‘mis en place’), it’s a piece of well, broccoli. This will be a staple at Thanksgiving from now on.

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The TENTH and FINAL KINKY ELFIE is awarded to a December 2015 recipe, and frankly, one we never DREAMED would be as good as it is—SANTA FEE SPAGHETTI SQUASH CASSEROLE. If nothing else, this may be THE recipe that turned Big Solid into a true believer of casseroles. It is excellent and such a healthy recipe! The Elf loves spaghetti squash; Big Solid likes it because it can take the place of pasta (which he likes, except for the calories). Add all the good kinda Tex/Mex flavors with a vegan cornbread topping and you’ve got a definite winner. The added nostalgic touch of cooking it in an iron skillet that belonged to Big Solid’s Mother is also special.
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Our runner-up recipe for this second half of the KINKY ELFIES goes back to June 2015 to find one of those recipes that we selected with some trepidation (brown rice crust and it bein’ a quiche and all)—ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOM QUICHE! Yes, it is a bit on the labor intensive side but when you’re retired and have time on your hands, it’s a fun and delicious way to while away the hours. Plus it’s really pretty! And it’s as good as it is pretty and offers validation that real men DO eat Quiche.
WHEW! What fun this has been. We look forward to a second annual KINKY ELFIE award presentation this time next year with our 2016 recipes from FFVK! We are sure Susan is already dreaming up and putting together recipes that will titillate our taste buds and be wonderfully healthy as well. One of the things we noticed right off the bat is the lack of ‘sweet stuffs’..very few desserts were prepared over the year, so we will remedy that in the coming weeks. Both Big Solid and Your Elf have a pretty strong sweet tooth so we’ll be looking for a no/low fat dessert recipe to try and continue to throw one in from time to time. OK?
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We have made our yearly pilgrimage to Starkville MS for Super Bulldog Weekend where, once again, the Bulldog Band of Brothers from the early-mid-‘60s gather to share the same stories they share every year but never get old; reminisce about ‘3-a-days’ and late night escapades; remember friends they’ve lost and love the ones that they still have. It’s camaraderie like no other, for sure, and they celebrate their friendship ever so heartily.
So, next week we are back in the FFVK saddle and have selected the following recipe to try the Fruit Medley Cobbler.
http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/02/valentines-dessert-1-fruit-medley.html
We KNOW it says Valentine’s Day but what the hell…live a little and be daring.
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So, our KINKY ELFIES have been awarded and we are back in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen this week for more good stuff from Susan and some new things to try from other sources as well. So, til next Sunday, we bid you a fond food farewell and wish you laughter, love and plant-based eating for yet another 7 days. And, oh yes…DO EPIC!
The Elf

Sunday, April 10, 2016

"There's No Business Life ELF Business!"



Y’ALL!! Do WE have a TREAT for you this (and NEXT) week! At least we hope so. We’ve been poring over the past year at the looking at the FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipes that we’ve made, tryin’ to come up with our TOP 10 for 2015! We’ve had a real struggle with this and we are pretty sure now that our list is complete. In FACT, it’s MORE than complete, bein’ as how we have some runners up! This week, we will report out on the first half of our top 10 + a runner up. And OF COURSE, we will call these recipes recipients of the KINKY ELFY!  award.

Our Expert and the Elf project started on February 8 2015; we took a brief hiatus during the summer months and picked back up in November. During those cookin’ months, we prepared 27 of Susan Voisin’s FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipes. There were a few weeks that we selected two recipes, most likely because we couldn’t really decide which one to pick so we did both.
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So, in no particular order, we’ll start with the beginning of our Expert and The Elf journey. Seems we launched a good one right out of the gate! Our FIRST KINKY ELFY goes to
EGGPLANT AND CHICKPEA CURRY.
We are giving the link to that week’s blog, appropriately titled “We Begin”. Now Your Elf understands that no EVERYBODY is a curry aficionado, but we LOVE the spiciness and aroma of a good curry. We had such fun making this recipe because we made our own garam masala and it still smells awesome.We're including the link to the recipe as well!
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The SECOND KINKY ELFY, would you believe, comes the very next week with
SPICY COLLARDS AND BLACK-EYED PEA SOUP.
This was actually NOT the selection for that week but an added one simply because we love soup, we love collards, we love black-eyed peas and it was close enough to the recent New Year Day that it qualified as a good luck offering. Turned out to be one of our favorite soups for a chilly winter day. Heck, you can’t have too much good luck or good soup.
March welcomed in the next KINKY ELFY winner!
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SKILLET GARDENER’S PIE
This was a recipe that Your Elf tried when Big Solid was out of town. Sometimes Big Solid doesn’t cotton to one dish meals. We can say in all truthfulness, howsomever, that he has begun to appreciate them more and more. We’ll have to get this one on his radar soon, as it’s very very good!!
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Our next KINKY ELFY winner skips all the way to early April as spring was bustin’ out all over! And, it’s absolutely one of our MOST favorites of our favorites. Perhaps because The Elf FINALLY made a decent FAT FREE Roux! The best one we’ve ever ha
VEGAN SAUSAGE AND MUSHROOM ETOUFEE
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Our FIFTH KINKY ELFY winner is
HEALTHY HASHBROWN CASSEROLE
This was another time we ‘sprung’ a casserole on Big Solid in hopes we could sway him toward more one dish meals. This was indeed a success. In fact, we’ve had this now a couple of times since and it’s always a hit. You actually get a lagniappe with this blog post as we did a two-fer. The other recipe came MIGHTY close to being in the KINKY ELFY running—Roasted Okra Masala! It’s delicious!
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So, there you have our first FIVE KINKY ELFY winners. HOWEVER, we DID promise a runner up and here it is.
FRENCH LENTIL AND PORTABELLA STEW
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Next week, we’ll finish the year of 2015’s top recipes out and throw ours-elfs back into the FatFree Vegan Kitchen Expert and The Elf Project once again.
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Since we didn’t cook at FFVK recipe this week, we did explore some of the things we’ve learned from Joe Moorefield, Chef at the Crossroads Café. The dude knows what he’s doing so we’ve been watchin’ and learnin’. In turn, he’s been more than willing to try some of The Elf’s plant-based meat analogues. We think we may have surprised him with how tasty they can be…mainly the Anduoille sausage and the Chikun. This week, we prepared a sautéed kale and onion, stovetop roasted golden beets with maple syrup glaze and some Chikun shreds.
 


And one night, we made Tofu Scallops…one of our favorites. We used an extra firm tofu but will return to the Wildwood SUPERFIRM tofu to do these again. They were quite good but the texture was better with the firmer tofu.
So there you have another week with your Elf in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen. We will also venture to Starkville MS for the weekend to once again visit with all of Big Solid’s football soulmates from MS State. It’s always a treat to hear these guys tell lies, laugh and enjoy each other. Til next week, y’all belly laugh, do a random act of kindness, play hard and DO EPIC!
Your Elf












Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Sweet Potato Elf



Once a year, around this time, something magical occurs in the Greater Jackson MS area. Yes, the wisteria, azaleas, dogwoods, red-buds, irises, and all kinds of fruit trees decorate the lush new greenery of spring with such a color palette that it damn near takes your breath. It occurred to your Elf the other day that the reason WISTERIA is named, well, WISTERIA, is because it makes you wistful for the joy and renewal of spring and memories of growing up in the deep South. It's like you get all wistful and teary-eyed and WHOA...WISTERIA.
AND THEN…there’s ANOTHER BLAST of colors that descend on our area from all points—north, south(er), east and west. You can feel them as they draw nearer, hear their laughter and anticipation, sense the energy that only close friendships can radiate…and then THEY are on US like a blessing at Thanksgiving. Yep, the Sweet Potato Queens have arrived for Zippity-Doo-Dah weekend and take it from The Elf…these girls just want to have fun. For a moment out of time, no matter whatever else is happening in their lives, Zippity is the time to play, laugh, imbibe, eat a LOT, dress up in something outrageous and create yet another set of memories to take home. The brainchild of Boss Queen Jill Conner Browne, best-selling author of multiple Sweet Potato Queen books, this celebration of fun has taken on a life of its own.
But we digress…this is a FOOD BLOG for Pete’s Sake and we have important food stuffs to talk about. BUT THEN, we just have to share some of the fun pictures. Read on McElf and then we’ll get to them.
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Our FatFree Vegan recipe this week was Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato (clever of The Elf, huh?) Soup.
Now we understand that not EVERYBODY appreciates or enjoys dishes with curry seasonings but BOY HOWDY, The Elf and Big Solid sure do. This was a really terrific recipe and an easy one to prepare. We’ll take any opportunity to use our enamel coated iron Dutch oven, so this was one. First we sautéed some onions.
Next up was the addition of cumin seeds, ginger, a Serrano chile pepper and the garlic. This was sautéed for another 30 second and the aromas really started to hit.

We then added the broth (remember that chikun bouillon we mentioned last week), the sweet potatoes, some of the curry powder (and we just happened to have the Maharajah blend that Susan likes) and the cinnamon. Let that come to a boil and cooked over low heat until the sweet potatoes were softened a bit.

We then added the cauliflower, chickpeas and tomatoes and 3 cups of the broth along with the remaining curry powder. This time, we halved the Maharajah with some HOT Madras curry AND some cayenne! Yowza! Talk about aromatic!! Big Solid came in and said, “I LOVE the way this smells!”

We like our cauliflower ‘al dente’ so the final cooking did not take long to be ready. We added the peanut butter and were ready to dish it up!!

Pretty soon, we had two empty bowls in front of us and enough left-over for lunch the next day. And, Susan is right when she says that it’s even better after resting overnight! If you are not ‘curry aversive’, please give this one a go. It’s worth it!
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OK! We’ll wrap this week’s adventures up with where we started. The Sweet Potato Queens and Zippity-Doo-Dah weekend. But first, if you’ve not read one of Jill Conner Browne’s books, you’ve kinda missed out. So do it. Then you’ll get the WHOLE pitcher of why this weekend is such a masterpiece of joy. Lest we belabor the point…here are some random pics of Queens, Queen wannabes and whathaveyou. AND, there is even an Elfie/selfie with Elf-red who was so excited to be a part of this year’s queenliness. He was so excited to go ridin’ in the car; not so excited about comin’ home (tho it’s hard to tell by the expression on his little face).

 
 And finally, the Queen herownself, Jill Conner Browne and her court. Jill is the tall one in the middle! Go figure. That gal on her left is a person who is one of my Balcony People...her name is Pippa.
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This week we will be ferreting through our 2015 FFVK recipes to find out TOP10 for 2015!! Not sure that will be an easy thing but we already have a couple in mind. And, given your Elf’s propensity to change…who knows! If there are those you feel strongly about, please let us know so we can prepare and relive the love!
Until then…in the spirit of Sweet Potato Queeliness and the joy of laughter, please live large, eat plants (well, try to anyway) and DO EPIC!
YOUR ALWAYS ELF