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Sunday, November 6, 2016

If The Elf Falls in the Forest, Does Anybody Hear Her?

Thankfully, this week’s blog will NOT be of epic proportions like last week. Yet, we do have a lot to share. So, let’s get all up in it! Our FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe this week is indeed a winner!! We prepared Susan’s awesome Sōmen with Tofu and Asparagus in a Chinese Dressing. 
We hate to sound like a broken record, but this was outstanding in many ways. First, it’s delicious; anything with asparagus, sautéed tofu, and toasted sesame oil is ok the the Book of the Elf. Second, it’s EASY, so EASY to fix. As Susan says in her intro to the recipe, it almost takes longer to say the name of the recipe than it is to prepare (or as we say down here ‘fix’) it. In fact, we liked it SO much, we made it to take to our regular Veganistas gathering last night (more about that later). So, we got all of our ingredients together (our 'mise en place') after shopping a few places. We went to one of our local Asian grocery stores (Mr. Chen’s) to get the noodles as well as some good Tamari and Soy sauces. The recipe calls for Sōmen, which is a very thin Japanese noodle made of wheat flour. It’s usually less than 1.3 mm in width, so it cooks very quickly (yay!).

However, Susan gives you the option to replace the Sōmen with another Japanese noodle called Soba, which is made from buckwheat flour. Soba is slightly thicker and has a darker coloring than the Sōmen.
Now, your Elf has never been a huge fan of buckwheat flour but we decided to grab some Soba noodles anyway. We are SO glad we did!

We cubed our tofu and marinated it in an easy marinade of Tamari and Toasted Sesame Oil. And, seein’ as how we have a penchant for over-doing things, we let ours marinate a LONG time (like a few hours). We cut our asparagus up in about 1” long pieces and that’s really about all of the work there is to this recipe.

After the tofu bathed itself in the marinade to your satisfaction (or the directions of the recipe),
we heated a rather large skillet, sprayed it with some oil (we are partial to Pam’s Coconut Oil Spray). Using a slotted spoon, we removed the tofu from the marinade and sautéed it until was nicely browned on all sides. 
We returned it to the marinade. In the meantime,  brought a large pot of water to a boil and tossed in the asparagus. They cooked for about 2 - 3 minutes before they were removed with a slotted spoon and placed in the bowl with the tofu. The marinade was  ‘beefed’ up with some additional flavors such as Mirin (a sweet rice wine), red wine vinegar, minced garlic, and sugar (we used about a 1/2 tsp of dark agave). That combination was tossed a bit to let the heftier marinade coat the tofu and asparagus. Next up we brought the asparagus water to a boil and threw in the noodles. The thinner Sōmen noodles cooked very quickly—like 2-3 minutes. They were drained, placed back in the pan and tossed with some additional Tamari/Toasted Sesame oil, plated, topped with the asparagus and tofu! It was time to DIG IN!!
WE LOVED IT! Our FFVK dish for this coming week will be another pasta elf-fort Hasty Tasty Pasta with Broccoli, Olives, and 'Chicken'.
It's one of Susan's older recipes (2006) but looks to be a nice combination of our favorite foods, including our plant-based chicken from The Gentle Chef. 

So, when it dawned on your Elf that we needed a dish to take to our ‘partay’, we decided on this most recent recipe. ONLY, in true Elfin fashion, we decided to embellish it a bit and see what happened. We DID stick the to plan with all the original ingredients but added mushrooms (sliced white) and marinated Tempeh.

AND we decided to use the Soba noodles as well. It turned out beautifully, so you can actually have two options with this recipe…the former which is a nice light meal or luncheon OR a substantive meal with the addition of the mushrooms and tempeh.
Our other entrée was a lovely curry over jasmine rice.
Our appetizers were a vegan Mediterranean sampler and a hummus crudité platter.

We also had a kale salad as a side dish.
Our dessert, not pictured because we ate it so fast we forgot to take pictures was cookie sundaes with Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Walnut Cranberry cookies topped with a sampling of non-dairy ice creams (Ben and Jerry’s Funky Monkey, So Delicious Cashew Cream Salted Caramel and So Delicious Coconut Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter). So is it any wonder that we all looked FULL at the end of the event!! 

To keep our search for creative plant based options open, we found and tried our hand the other day at making Rice Paper Bacon!

It’s EASY, FUN, and DELICIOUS!! Here’s the link to the site that we feel has the best and easiest to follow recipe.
It IS a bit easier to cut two rice paper sheets at once rather than individually and then stick them together with water. We used a sharp pair of scissors which helped a LOT. And, it DOES cook better if you do not use a cookie sheet underneath and just place the parchment paper on the oven rack. Big Solid crumbled some up on his baked potato yesterday evening as he had to cook for hisownself AND your Elf crumbled some on her oatmeal this morning. 

And finally, this week found us with another TON of greens from our fall CSA. This time we had Mustard greens, which we have cleaned but have not cooked and some Alamo Turnip greens (2 HUGE bunches). We’d never heard of Alamo Turnip greens but they are some kind of good!

 We also got some Watermelon radishes that we just peeled and ate as is/was. 

Alas, your Elf's Tennessee cousin sent a message that she'd found a hat at a JoAnn's Fabric/Craft store in her area that said COOKIE ELF!! It would NOT do that we rushed to our OWN JoAnn's to GET ONE FOR US!! We were very disappointed that they had no hats and not a clue what we were talking about. Oh well. We'll live to Elf another day. But if you know where we can find a new Elf hat, let us KNOW!!

This is an important week for us as we go to the polls and exercise our right to vote. So just do it. Vote and be thankful that you can. Until next week, smile a lot, be kind, eat plants and DO EPIC!
Your Elf

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