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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Elfin Haste Makes Elfin Waste

Happy LAST day of July 2016…it will never come around again, so we here at the Kinky Elfery Kitchen hope you made the most the previous 30 days as well as what’s left of this one. We have a VERY busy blog today, so let’s just get right to it!!
Our recipe this week from Susan Voisin’s awesome site and blog FatFree Vegan Kitchen was Savory Swiss Chard Pie. http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/06/savory-swiss-chard-pie.html
And we can already predict that this will be an Elfy Winner for 2016. It was not only delicious but LOTS of fun to make and not labor intensive at all. The most time was taken up by just getting the ‘mis en place’.
 
(An Elfin aside here—stay tuned further in this blog for a prime example of how NOT to do a ‘mis en place’). Before we started gathering all our ingredients together, we threw this gorgeous bunch of Swiss Chard in the sink to clean. We saw a Rainbow Chard at the grocery but it just didn’t have the freshness that this did.
 We chopped up those lovely red stems as well as the remaining chard.
We would ordinarily spin it in the salad spinner thingie but the recipe specifically said not to dry the chard. So, we just cut into smaller pieces, also as instructed. We also started cooking some really lovely golden beets to have as a side dish.

Next up, we sautéed the onions and sliced stems to soften them up a bit. 
After the stems and onions were cooked down, we added the Swiss Chard leaves and let those wilt.
And, boy howdy, do they wilt. Initially, as you can see, the skillet was overflowing but after just a few minutes, the chard was a mere shadow of it’s former self.

We made a nice thick sauce out of the silken tofu, cashews and other ingredients and poured/spread it over the chard that we’d placed in a ceramic pie pan.

The pie was placed in a 375º oven and baked for about 30 minutes. 

After resting another 10 minutes, we sliced it and enjoyed the heck out of it! 

Big Solid LOVED it! The beets were also a big hit. We parboiled them until they were ‘al dente’ and then transferred to a small sauté pan to finish with a maple syrup balsamic glaze. 
These dishes were absolute joys not only to eat but also to prepare. We LOVE to cook but for some reason, this Savory Swiss Chard Pie just stole our little elfin heart.

So now! What’s up for next week from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen…we have two recipes selected but not quite sure which one it will be. It’s between Creamy Curried Kale and Chickpeas
OR Simple Cabbage and Chickpea Soup with Fresh Basil.
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OK, remember earlier we mentioned an event in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen about how NOT to do a ‘mis en place’. Well, this one’s a doozey! Y’all know that your Elf bakes vegan cookies for the FABULOUS Crossroads Café in Ridgeland MS. Well, we kinda got in a bit of a hurry the other mornin’ making a double batch of our vegan oatmeal cookie dough. We then split that base dough to make whatever cookies are running a bit low. This week, it was Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Toasted Pecan and Coconut. We just whipped that dough right up, split it and added our final ingredients of the toasted pecans/coconut to one of the dough amounts and chocolate chips (we use the vegan mini-chips) to the other. Since the chocolate chip cookies are more popular, we usually divvy the dough up roughly 2/3 to 1/3. As we were adding the last ingredients, we noticed that the consistency of the dough was pretty soft but figured it was the new buttery flavored Spectrum shortening instead of the regular Spectrum. So, we covered the dough and placed in the refrigerator to firm up a bit. As we closed the refrigerator door, we happened to spot a bowl on the counter and our little Elfin Heart just broke…it was all the DRY INGREDIENTS that were supposed to go into the cookies. ACK!! What an Elf stupidhead!! We thought about trying to divide the flour between the doughs but decided not to…just too risky that the proportions would not be right and the cookies would not be up the Elfin standards. So, we THREW IT ALL OUT AND STARTED OVER! You can bet your sweet bippy (remember that phrase?) that we will NOT EVER forget the flour again. We wondered what would have happened had we not spotted the lonely bowl of flour stuffs on the counter. We think we would have had ONE BIG COOKIE in the pan because there was certainly nothing to hold them together. GOOD GRIEF, Charlie Elf!
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Next week, in addition to the FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe, we have a couple of recipes we located on Facebook (you know those cool videos that speed up a recipe prep and look SO good). We veganized one of them and the other is vegan. We’ll let you know how they turn out because the videos look SO good!
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We are VERY happy to feature a story about the MS Blue Rice family. After meeting them last week and buying some of the rice, we can truthfully say we are fans. So, read on about this terrific farm family who celebrates preservation of natural resources, producing foods that are healthy without the use of pesticides and fungicides.

IN LAWRENCE’S OWN WORDS
I am Lawrence Wagner and I’m 23 years old. I grew up in the small town of Sumner, MS which is  located on the Cassidy Bayou, the longest bayou in MS. Even our drainage ditches are beautiful reminders of Nature's glory.
It’s also where our Missimati Bayou Bouquet gets its name; that wonderful fragrance that meets you when you open the bag of our rice. I went to Mississippi State, where I got my degree in Agricultural Business. My family consists of my father (the farmer), my mother (elementary school teacher), my 22 year old sister, and me.

Farming has always been a part of our family's life and I will be the 11th generation in our family to continue that tradition. We have been milling rice for about two years now and recently made a business out of it in April. Before we had a real market to sell our rice in we gave much of it away to ministries such as Palmer Home, the Stewpot in Jackson and several other ministries local to us. We still do. Earlier this spring we shipped 3.5 tons of rice to Honduras. This article was a feature about our farming family and how we do what we do.


MS Blue Rice is special because it is grown with nature while keeping in mind the needs of an increasing population. We use very little herbicide and no pesticides and fungicides. We only use 50% less fertilizer than conventional farmers because of our unique system. We love this picture of water rushing in to our fields.
In short we farm with the nature's rhythm, lending to and taking from nature. It truly is a circle of life out here. The Geese rising in the photograph below only attests to the beauty of our Delta land and our commitment to preserve it as both a most extraordinary farmland as well as a wildlife paradise.
Another reason our rice is special is because it is identity preserved. When you get a bag of our rice it is all of one single variety, meaning even cooking characteristics and flavor, versus a store bought bag where there could be several different varieties mixed inside. The variety we use also contains 15-20% more amylose than your average rice, meaning it has a lower glycemic index.
Oh, and we call it blue rice because of the blue gumbo clay in which it is grown and, of course,the Mississippi Delta being the birthplace of the 'blues'.

Folks can buy our product on our online website http://mississippibluerice.com/
and several different stores throughout MS and TN. If any one has questions about our products please feel free to call us at (662) 375-6100, e-mail Lawrence@mississippibluerice.com or contact us via our Facebook page (MS Blue Rice).
The thing I want people to take away most from this article is the way we grow our rice and why. 
Our ecologically grown rice is the finest quality, freshest, tastiest, healthiest, non-glutenous, non-GMO, trait's preserved, ecologically and environmentally sensitive rice you can buy.  It is grown with mostly natural inputs with no fungicides or insecticides in a system that matches conventionally planted rice yields and far surpassing our organic rice yields.   Unless noted, our rices possess higher amylose levels and associated resistant starches than is generally found on the shelf, lending itself to slower digestive rates and generally lower glucose loads.  It travels very few feet from our highly fertile and organic fields to our highly sanitary and Kosher certified small on-farm rice mill-the shortest path from rice paddy to plate runs through our farm. 
You will find our fresh milled ecogrown Delta Belle Long Grain Rice cooks loosely and not sticky, with an aroma that is buttery with faint vanilla notes, and with kernels that roll about your mouth during the chew; it has an even and lightly springy bite, and with a light sweet front palate and finishing with a buttery taste.  Our ecogrown Beulah Land Tan and Beulah Land Medley Long Grain Brown Rice cooks with buttery and grassy aromas, along with a faint nose of caramel and honey; it yields a chewier, springier, and firmer bite, with a nutty and faint mushroom taste on your palate's front and a vaguely sweet, earthy, and buttery finish.  Our Original Mississippi Middlins Rice Grits cook quickly and absorb flavors most readily for the hurried chef, and when cooked al dente, have a delightful bite and texture that nicely melds with broths, cheeses, sauces, and gravies.  If you prefer aromatic rice, please try our ecogrown Missimati Bayou Bouquet Fragrant Brown or White rice; they also possess sweet and buttery aromas and tastes, along with heavy popcorn and slight lightly toasted coconut and rose aromas.
All of our rice is delicious served by itself, or can preeminently be integrated with delicious fashion into your favorite recipes, such as seen here. Pictured are Kudzu, Sweet Potato, Peas and Missimati Summer Southern Rice Salad 
and Minted Mesopotamian Missimati Rice Salad.
And YES, the Elf can attest to the ease of cooking and the wonderful taste of MS Blue Rice. In fact, we are totally converted to it and will use it exclusively in all of our recipes that call for rice. Meaning, we will use the Brown Beulah Land Tan, Beulah Land Medley Long Grain Brown and our personal favorite, the Missimati Bayou Bouquet Fragrant Brown.
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And to round out the blog, we had an interesting conversation with someone who reads us every week who mentioned that many times she tries to leave a comment, only to be directed to sign into Google. We are not sure how to deal with that, so please, if you have comments we want to be sure to see them. Until we can get some assistance in how to make commenting easier, please leave a comment on our Elf in the Kitchen Facebook page or email your Elf at jswearen@gmail.com.
Many thanks for your support and readership. We sure do have fun with this and hope we an be of some impact on moving our readers to try more plant-based meals and foods. ’Til next week, we wish you a joy-filled seven days, full of laughter, smiles and kind deeds for others. And always remember to “DO EPIC” (thanks to Kim Holden for such a powerful phrase from such a powerful book. If y’all have not read her wonderful book Bright Side, it’s amazing).
Your Elf


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Elves Rush in Where Angels Fear to Tred

It’s the penultimate Sunday of July and it’s an astonishing thought that yet another month has literally blown by! It’s a Beautiful Day in the KEK (Kinky Elfery Kitchen), so let’s celebrate another week of cookery with The Elf.

This week’s FatFree Vegan Recipe ALMOST didn’t make the cut! We got so caught up in other stuffs (bakin’ cookies, mostly) that we didn’t even put it together until yesterday! BUT, it worked out perfectly so we could share with a friend. So, here we go. We prepared the Elfy winning delicious Creamy Broccoli and Brown Rice Casserole.
We made this a couple of times last year and it never fails to be excellent.  So, we got out ‘mis en place’ (well, sorta, more about that later) and got it all going. We started with cooking the rice…now, y’all remember last week we wrote about The Elf’s latest discovery…Mississippi Blue Rice! Well, we purchased some and determined that it would work great in our recipe. In the packaging, it already looks good!
Now, we deviated slightly from their cooking directions to a method that my paternal Grandmother taught my little Mama who taught me. It works every time, so if it ain’t broke, we don’t try to fix it. WE measured out the 1 1/2  cups of rice and 3 cups of water and brought it to a boil. We don’t cover it and let it boil.
When all the water has boiled down (you gotta be careful here and not burn it up), we turn the flame down till you practically can’t see it, cover it and let it cook another 5 minutes or so. Then turn the heat completely off. The result is lovely rice that is not over cooked or stuck together and squishy..ugh. 
Our sauce ingredients were blended and set aside 
and the onions, pepper, and celery sautéed. 
Then it was time to add the chickpeas, the broccoli that we had steamed lightly, and that wonderful MS Blue Rice. And, we added one more thing this time. We’d made some seitan to have for sandwiches and other stuffs, so we cubed some and added as well. Of course, that took the dish out of the gluten-free zone but we love seitan and this batch turned out really well.
Then we added that awesome MS Blue Rice
and the creamy sauce that we’d blended, swished all that around till everything was nicely coated.
We knew this would make a pretty big casserole, so we opted to split it and have two small casseroles. One to gobble down ourownselves and one to share. So, we readied our pans, divided the yummy stuff. NOW, here’s where the ‘mis en place’ fell apart. Susan Voisin’s wonderful recipe calls for slivered almonds (as optional but they add a nice crunch) and we just KNEW we had some. Even passed them by at the grocery. Well, of course, we did not. HOWSOMEVER, we DID have some cashews that we crushed up a bit and sprinkled on top. Whew!  Then we threw those babies in the oven. 
After about 20 minutes, we took a peek and saw a nice brownness; time to pull them out. 

We will enjoy ours tonight, but your Elf did take a test bite to make sure that it was not only OUR table worthy but also share-worthy.

Next week, we will feature a story about MS Blue Rice AND we may even have another MS Blue Rice recipe to share with you.

Now, we’ve run the table (pardon the pun) on our Elf Winners from 2015. So now it’s time to return to Susan’s fold and select some new recipes to fix. And, for next week. we will be preparing Savory Swiss Chard Pie. 
http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/06/savory-swiss-chard-pie.html
Boy, can’t wait for Big Solid to ask ‘what’s for dinner?’

The other thing we’ve been trying to do is catch the sale bins at Kroger to find fruits and veggies that we can slice/chop and freeze. This week, we found two big ole sacks of navel oranges and a sack of lime. We love to throw a lime or an orange in our mornin’ smoothie, so we snatched them up, peeled and froze them. 
Actually, had a pineapple, orange, grapefruit and blueberry smoothie this morning. Threw in some hemp hearts and nutritional yeast…delish!

So this last week of July will see your Elf bakin’ lots of cookies and doin’ some other Elfery cookery to explore and expand our vegan horizons. We know we’ve mentioned this before but one of our most favorite resource sites is One Green Planet. We get a daily update on all sorts of great food/vegan ideas.
So, until next week…we are hope you laugh a lot, eat plant based, practice kindness with abandon and DO EPIC. 
Your Elf

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It Ain't Over til the Fat Elf Sings

Once again, a week has gone by and we are happy to be before you again!! It’s been a busy week in the KEK (Kinky Ellery Kitchen), so without further ado, ‘let’s git all up in it’ (thanks Jill Conner Brown for sharing that phrase).
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This week’s recipe from Susan Voisin’s FatFree Vegan was one of the remaining Elfy Award Winners for best recipes from 2015, Eggplant and Chickpea Curry.
This is the recipe that made Big Solid a semi-believer in eggplant—meaning that he WILL eat this recipe whereas any other mention of eggplant is usually met with an expletive. Curry is not everyone’s cup of tea but we love it and every type of Indian cuisine.
We got our ‘mis en place’ with most of the ingredients. 

For those of you who don’t know what ‘mis en place’ means, it’s French for ‘getting your ingredients all present and accounted for’, although that’s not a literal translation. And, it’s one of the most important thing Your Elf has learned from Skye Michael Conroy (aka The Gentle Chef). You know how you watch cookin’ shows and the chef/cook/baker always has everything ready to put together. They never have to drop everything and run to the store or frantically search the pantry for a can of something that was THOUGHT to be there but wasn’t! It really works, folks.
Next up, we sautéed our onion 

Until it was turning brown 

Then added the diced peppers (we had some orange and red, so used that, Really pretty! 

Following that, the eggplant and chickpeas.
And here’s where our picture takin’ went off the rails…we got so involved with getting everything done and served, we plumb forgot to take any more pictures and we’re really sorry about that. HOWEVER, we reached back and found a picture when we first made this, so here you go. The look really hasn’t changed that much! 

This is a delicious dish if you like spicy and Indian! If you don’t, you’re missing out on a great dish and some great food!
So that brings us to our LAST Elfy winning recipe to be recreated…Creamy Vegan Broccoli and Rice Casserole. http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2011/11/creamy-vegan-broccoli-and-rice-casserole.html 
We remember preparing this for our Thanksgiving feast at the Dees and how good it was. AND, it will give us a chance to try out our new RICE purchase that you’ll read about in a bit.
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Saturdays are great days for The Elf because we always go to the Farmer’s Market. It’s an opportunity to see what great produce is available, to see old friends and to make new ones. Today, we not only took advantage of the produce selection with some great heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes from Two Dog Farms and Salad Days, but also to see a couple of old friends. THEN, we made a couple of NEW friends who were on hand to display a product that we’ve not seen at the Market before…MISSISSIPPI BLUE RICE!
 We met Marshall (pictured) and Lawrence who told us about their product. No pesticides/fungicides or bad stuffs.
So, we bought some and will give it a go. In fact, stay tuned for a feature on MISSISSIPPI BLUE RICE in the very near future in our developing Explorin’ with the Elf project. 

An update on Lauren Rhoads (Sweet and Sauer Fermented foods)…she is now settled in her new commercial kitchen where she shares space with Camille Peeples amazing FEAST! Foods. 
We saw Lauren yesterday and she’s so excited to be in a kitchen with space to prepare her delicious fermented foods in bulk and begin to sell to stores.. WAY TO GO LAUREN!!
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That puts us at the end of the road for this week’s blog and once again, we’ve encountered the face of evil in the world with the horrific events in France. We remember the people who were killed and the people of France with a recommitment to be the best we can be, to do good whenever possible and never miss an opportunity to be kind. So, we’ll leave you with that this week and look forward to another chance to be with you next Sunday. Eat Plants, Laugh, and DO EPIC.
Your Elf

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Too Many Elfs in the Fire

PWHOA!! The Kinky Elfery Kitchen has been humming this week!! You know last Sunday, we mentioned we were cooking up a storm for a big Independence Day celebration at the home of our BFFs, Jesse and Mary Evelyn (ME) Dees. It’s a TRADITION much like our Pajama Christmas dinner. We always try to take some plant-based options folr people to try to show them that a vegan eating lifestyle is not just sticks, weeds, tofu and seeds. We will share that with y’all in a bit BUT FIRST!!
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Our FatFree Kitchen recipe for the week—French Lentil and Portobello Stew.
It’s an easy recipe to prepare and it’s OH SO DELICIOUS, even on a warm (well, let’s face it…we are in Mississippi so it’s not warm it’s HOT!) summer evening. This is one of those times where we had ALL the ingredients on hand, so all we had to do was follow directions! We are not huge fans of rosemary, so we did not obtain fresh rosemary and actually halved the indicated amount. But, that’s just us.  Because Big Solid asked for additional protein, we added some plant-based Andouille sausage. First, we sautéed the onion and added the sausage to get it a bit browned and open up the flavor.
Then we added the garlic and mushrooms and let the juices from the mushrooms help deglaze the pan from the sausages.
 
Next we added the broth, lentils and seasonings and let it simmer until the lentils were tender but not mushy.
A word about our broth…we use The Gentle Chef’s Golden Chikun Bouillon recipe. It’s an outstanding dry mix that you can whip out and mix with hot water for a REALLY great tasting broth. We always make a quadruple recipe and keep it stored in a big Ball jar so we always have it handy.
Then we made some vegan cornsticks to slurp up all the goodness that is in this Elfy-winning recipe.

So, now we move on to this week’s recipe…Eggplant and Chickpea Curry.
When we made this Elfy winner before, we also made Susan’s wonderful garam masala recipe. We still have some, so we do not have to remake it. It’s a very rich and fragrant curry.  And, believe it or not, Big Solid will eat the eggplant that is in this recipe where he usually makes an ugly face when the word eggplant is mentioned.
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Now—our Independence Day festivities included a few items from the Kinky Elfery Kitchen (KEK). The Dees are always so sweet to include some plant-based items in their preparations but, let’s face it. for a LOT of folks, Independence Day is all about RIBS and PULLED PORK. So, here’s a looksee at what we made and MAN! Did we have fun doing it. We loved the Spinach and Artichoke Pie recipe (see last week’s blog) so much, we decided to prepare a couple of those.
These brought really great reviews from folks who sometimes taste our plant-based offerings with trepidation. Next up, we made a recipe from this month’s Vegetarian Times, a Peach and Blueberry Galette. A Galette is a fancy name for a pie that doesn’t have a specific shape..it’s whatever the dough wants to do and is considered pretty rustic. We love that. Interestingly enough, Vegetatian Times indicates the recipe as vegan but when we read the ingredients, we noted it called for cream cheese (and did not specify vegan) and butter (again, not specifying vegan alternatives). We checked the recipe index at the end of the magazine where it also indicated this recipe was vegan. It was easy to veganize, however, as we got the Tofutti Cream Cheese and used a vegan margarine in lieu of butter. We ALMOST had an elf-ic fail with the dough but the overnight refrigeration helped. The recipe calls for adding 3 tablespoons of cold water…where we would have been MUCH better off with 2. So next time, we’ll add one tablespoon at a time. Anywho, with fresh peached and blueberries at peak right now, we were thrilled to have such a terrific recipe. Here’s what they looked like before going into the oven.
 And here are the finished galettes (not to be confused with Gillette, har har).
We took a couple of pints of dairy free ice cream (Cappuccino and Vanilla) for folks to top it with. Yes indeedy, it was a hit. And we prepared an heirloom tomato salad with the wonderful heirloom tomatoes from Salad Days Produce in Flora MS.
As you can see, no one went hungry. And we all gathered for our annual Fourth of July Portrait.

And, lastly, today we’ve been an Elfin whirling dervish in the KEK…preparing the following for the upcoming week. We washed, spun and dried kale
and Rainbow Swiss Chard.
Then we sautéed the Chard with some red onion slices and seasoned with a bit of balsamic vinegar.
Next we, had some golden beets that we sautéed in a little bit of coconut oil, finishing off with a maple syrup glaze, some Thompson raisins and some toasted pecans.
And finally, we used some of the kale to add to a white bean soup…one of your Elf’s MOST favorite soups. 

And, we will be making Big Solid's FAVORITE plant-based 'chikun' later today, which calls for tofu that has been pressed almost dry! Here's the best press we've found so far!l
We have been working on a Gluten Free cookie for the Crossroads Café; we debuted it this past week..it's a double chocolate chip that we call Elfin Decadence.

So, there you go! Now, we are going to run some errands before we come home to see what we else we can conjure up in the KEK! 
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As this blog ends today, we want to say that last week’s blog was read by over 2800 people!! We have NEVER had that many ‘hits’ before and we were absolutely beside ours-elf!! We think when we started this a couple of years ago, we had 40 hits! And we thought that was awesome. For those of you who read it, thanks. Please consider sharing it as we would love for folks to become Eflnistas/Eflinistes and entertainment from the KEK to go viral. We love sharing our plant-based cookery stuffs from an ordinary elf. We don’t claim to be other than someone who loves to cook plant-based, show folks that it works good things for your body and do it in a way that is enjoyable…warts and all. We have seen some mighty sad things happening this week, so hopefully we can generate some goodness along the way. Try Random Acts of Kindness, encourage goodwill, eat plants, laugh when you can and DO EPIC.
Your Elf