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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Rockin' Around the Christmas Elf

We had a particularly busy week in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen this week! So without further ado, we’ll jump right in and ‘git ‘er done’!

Our FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe for the week was Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Dried Cranberries and Cashews.
This is a four part recipe which ostensibly can be a bit intimidating until you read through and see how easy the parts are. First is the preparation of the Pickled Red Onions which turned out quite nicely and was kinda fun to make. We did one thing differently though. Instead of pouring the boiling water over the sliced onions placed in a strainer/sieve, we tossed the onion slices in the water and IMMEDIATELY poured them into the strainer. The remainder of the recipe for the onions is a breeze and the result quite pretty.

The second component of this recipe is the Spicy Cashews. Again, easy peasy and, though seemingly a small amount of Spicy cashews, they do add a considerable amount of flavor to the salad. Susan’s recipe calls for the use of Cajun spice or any other spicy combination that you might wish. We LOVE Harissa, so that’s what we used. The combination of the maple syrup, Harissa and lightly toasted cashew pieces was quite a treat for your taste buds. You’ll see a picture of that shortly. The Maple Mustard Vinaigrette is equally easy and delicious. Fortunately for us, we had just purchased a half gallon of Dark Maple Syrup (formerly a Grade B) so we were more than eager to enjoy it. AND, our Farm Pack from the past week contained a GREAT jar of Sweet and Sauer Fermented Mustard which was PERFECT for this dressing (See Elf Blog 9/19/16).
We THOUGHT we had some balsamic vinegar but when we climbed up into the cabinet, there was none. Damnit. HOWSOMEVER, we DID have some WHITE Balsamic, so that’s what we used. It worked just fine. After those three components were prepared, we were able to turn our little Elfin attention to the Sprouts thems-elfs. Now, let us preface this by saying that not all Brussels’ sprouts are created equal and when we make this recipe again (and we WILL make it again), we will be more selective with our Sprout choice. We figured that since the Sprouts would be shredded, the initial size of them would not be an issue. Well, we were wrong. It’s prudent to select the smaller Sprouts than the larger ones. In the long run, you’ll have more Sprouts to shred/slice but the tough core will not be as much of a factor. We’ll show you what we mean when we get to that particular picture. The  use of the Slicing Blade for a food processor was a new and somewhat intimidating experience while preparing this recipe was using the Slicing Blade of the Cuisinart food processor. We’ve had this machine for at least 10 years and have NEVER used the slicer, so we were a bit tentative about it and looked up some You Tube videos to actually see how to do it correctly. We are hear to tell you, we are now slicing fools!! It was so much fun!! And sure does the trick in a hurry!We washed and cut the ends off the Sprouts and let them air dry for a while. Then we commenced to slicin’. Presto Sprouts-O! All sliced and shredded.
Now HERE’S where the Sprout selection is important. Even though all the Sprouts are slices, it is still necessary to separate out some of those slices that stayed relatively intact, which you can see in the picture above. IF you choose larger Sprouts, you’ll have a much harder time separating from the tougher and larger core. So, some Kinky Elfin advice is to suck it up and select out the smaller Sprouts rather than grabbing a big ole bag of BIG Sprouts. The next very small departure from the original recipe was to very lightly steam the shredded/sliced Sprouts — emphasis on VERY LIGHTLY. We only steamed for 50 seconds. It made the shreds easy to work with while still keeping the crispness. When then added the dressing, the cried cranberries and the pickled onions and tossed away.
We plated, topped with those awesome cashews and dove in.
Big Solid and your Elf initially said, “This is good. Not great but good.” A few minutes later, we said, “You know…this is REALLY GOOD!” And by the time we’d each had another bowl, we knew this was a definite winner. We hardly had room then for the Vegan Minestrone.

Our FFVK recipe for next week will take into consideration the need for a warm and comforting stew to keep the winter chill from seeping into our old bones. And this sounds like a winner. White Bean Stew with Winter Squash and Kale.
We’ll be getting our first renewal FarmPack on Thursday, so we have our fingers crossed that there will be some kale and/or winter squash of some kind in it.

Our Taco night last Sunday night was AWESOME!! We made ‘chicken’ tacos using The Gentle Chef’s Chikun Shreds.
We sautéed them a bit to get some brown crispiness and then simmered in a taco seasoning sauce.
Here's that they looked like as we were building the tacos!
We had two kinds of Daiya cheese on hand to try. The Mozzarella Style Shreds and some grated black Cheddar. Here’s the end result.
We LOVED this Taco Night! Tonight is yet another Taco Night and we’ll bring you the scoop next week. We know what we are going to use for our filling; we just want to season it to knock our own socks off!

In keeping with our Elf-fort to bring you stories of folks who have chosen a plant-based eating regimen and vegan lifestyle, we’d like to introduce you to Our Favorite Vegan—introducing Larry Swearengen (AKA Big Solid) in his own words.
“I became a full time vegan on my birthday, Sept. 20. I have no explanation about why I chose that day to start other then it would be easy for me to remember. It is a journey that I have been contemplating for some time because I was eating vegan about 85 to 90 present of the time anyway and I have read enough research to believe that there is clear evidence that a plant based diet is better for the individual and the environment.  Janne, my wife, has been vegan for four plus years, therefore all my at home meals have been mostly vegan, with the main exceptions being eating egg whites, cheese, and various dishes that I love that are  prepared by friends and shared with me from time to time. In fact, I had a huge test of my new resolve recently when a friend offered me some gumbo. She makes the absolutely best gumbo I have ever tasted. I still think of this lost gumbo from time to time and wondered if the trip is worth it. 

One thing I have found since committing to being a vegan is that there were numerous foods that I liked but ate very seldom for one reason or another but usually based on their calorie density. It turns out that I can eat these foods, rice, pasta, white potatoes, couscous, and wheat bread in fairly liberal quantities without weight gain. In fact, I find that I am losing weight even though I have totally quit counting calories. I admit it have been a great relief not to have to account for all the calories that go into my mouth. I could be quite obsessive about it and spend time entering each ingredient to get a total calorie count.  I have always loved vegetables, legumes, and grains of all kinds so that part of the diet has been easy since there is very little change.   

What do I miss the most? Waffle House Fiesta Omelet and the Southwest Omelet at Crossroads Café. Both are to die for. When I was traveling the first thing I checked when I learned where we were staying was how close there is a Waffle House. Otherwise I can pretty much live with eating vegan. There was a time in my life I would have missed fried chicken, but it has been a long time since that phase. The chickens you see in the store these days with the gigantic breast and thighs look gross. It makes me worry about the multiple injections of who knows what to get this kind of growth. No thanks.

Well, that pretty much sums up the beginning of my vegan journey. I am sure there will be challenges, but most things worthwhile offer challenges. Wish me well."

We actually have a lot more to share but don’t want to wear out our welcome! So we’ll hang onto those stuffs for a rainy day. Wishing you a wonderful week ahead. Remember to eat plants, smile often and…look for the Good, be an example of the Good, and act for the Good as hard as you can as many ways as you can every day. In other words, “DO EPIC”!
Your Elf


  1. I loved how you talked about your slicing blade attachment. I haven't tried mine yet and I've had it a looog time.

    1. Jean--it really works great! Now I may even try the shredder thingie!