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Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Miracle on Elf Street

Howdy and Happy Days ahead from your Elf. As you can tell by this week’s title, we may have faced some challenges in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen. We actually wrote Susan Voisin (our FatFree Vegan Kitchen’s guru and all around foodie genius) to share with her the sequence of events that transpired on Tuesday as we began preparation for our FFVK recipe of the week..White Bean Stew with Winter Squash
We were reluctant to even discuss it on the blog BUT Susan encouraged us, so here you go.

The Cluster Elf
You know how we so highly recommend the practice of ‘mise en place’ when making a recipe, ESPECIALLY if it’s the first time it’s been tried. In keeping with that, we reviewed the recipe for the White Bean Stew to MAKE SURE we had all the ingredients either on hand or on our grocery list. We actually decided to prepare this dish prior to to our Farm Pack pickup on Thursday JUST in case the pack did not include the necessary Kale and Winter Squash (which it did not). So, we skimmed over the ingredients and listed what we needed. We only looked at the ingredients and NOT the INSTRUCTIONS. FAIL #1. IN FACT—while we were at the grocery, we ALMOST bought ‘real’ dried navy beans instead of canned but thought, NAH—canned will do fine. FAIL #2. While we did notice that the cooking time was estimated at an hour and 30 minutes, our elfin brain did not register that as an important piece of information until much later. So, we blissfully began our ‘mise en place’ as we read the instructions. The instructions do call for dried beans. There is no mention of substituting canned beans, which, of course, is what we bought. FAIL #3. So, we thought quickly to run back to the store at 4 pm and get the dried beans; scavenge the pantry JUST IN CASE a bag of dried beans was at the ready; substitute black-eyed peas we did have on hand instead of the yellow-eyed beans; or adjust the recipe to accommodate the canned beans. We opted for the canned beans. Well, that meant we would need to adjust for cooking time and the amount of water that a pound of dried beans would need. AND how many cans of beans would make up the volume of a pound of dried beans. We LITERALLY stood paralyzed with what to do for a full two minutes. Do you see the beginning of the Cluster Elf here?
We AT LEAST got the other ingredients taken care of in our preparatory elf-fort…cleaned and prepped a magnificent bunch of kale, chopped our onion, bought ready prepped butternut squash pieces, seeded/diced the jalapeño pepper, chopped the red bell pepper, and sliced up our half-cup of fresh basil.
Got all our spices at the ready to add and then realized that the recipe instructions call for DIVIDED portions of the cumin and oregano…but wait, if we aren’t using dried beans, do we still divide or use them all and risk over-seasoning? Oh Lord.
You do notice to this point, NO PICTURES. We were so overwrought, yes really, that we forgot about ‘pitcher takin’ and concentrated on how to recoup this recipe. We did finally get all the ingredients in the pot only to notice that it was WAY THIN. We’d put in too much ‘chikun broth’. So, we went to our old standby for added thickness.
That did the trick and the stew thickened up, looked awesome and your Elf breathed a big sigh of relief.
We are also convinced that the purchase (THAT VERY DAY) of a Macy wooden soup spoon added to the goodness of the stew. This is a hand-made/carved spoon from reclaimed cypress. It’s a work of art which always makes things taste a wee bit better. We are fools for great wooden spoons and this one will no doubt take its place in our collection.
We had also thawed out some of a Seitan Roast to have a bit of extra protein on hand and some added texture.
 We cubed it and sautéed to add at our discretion. Though the stew did NOT need it, we had in on hand.
 With a huge sigh of relief that this WOULD turn out well, we turned our attention to the vegan cornsticks just wrapping up in the oven.
We plated our stew and cornsticks. Now, would it taste as good as it looked?
Well, the answer is a resounding YESSSS!! This has to be one of the best stews we’ve eaten in a long time AND we are convinced that had we gone about this the RIGHT way, it would have been even better. So you can pretty much bet that the next time we make this, we will have ferreted out the dried yellow-eye beans and commenced to makin’ it CORRECTLY!

Wilma’s Granola
We have been making our own granola almost weekly and having fun with variations on the theme. Well, with permission and attribution, we’d like to share the recipe for Wilma’s Granola and then share a couple of Elf-tweaks and such. Your Elf’s dear friend, Wilma Davis (Memphis TN), shared her recipe with us once when we were visiting and we nearly ate the whole bag of it. It’s so easy, it’s almost ridiculous, so we have started making it for ourownse-lfs. Now that Big Solid has gone totally plant-based, he is eager for new breakfast alternatives that are healthy. For those of you who do not eat fat/oil of any kind, please share any thoughts you have on how to substitute the oil in the granola to make it oil free.
Wilma’s Granola (so easy! Elf tinkerin’ in bold)
~6 cups old fashioned rolled oats (you may use gluten free oats, if needed)
~‘handful’ chopped almonds (1/2 cup pecans, walnuts and/or almonds, chopped)
~1/3 cup vegetable oil (coconut oil)
~1/3 cup water; may dissolved 1T of brown sugar for a bit of sweetness (1/3 c unfiltered apple juice and 2 T dark maple syrup)
~Place oats and chopped almonds in a large bowl.
~Add water and oil.
~Toss to coat (or use your clean or gloved hands).
~Spread on a large pan (or two) and bake at 325º for 20 minutes.
~Remove from oven, stir. Return to over and bake another 20 minutes.
~Remove and stir, turn oven off,return to oven and let sit until cool. Bingo!
You may certainly feel free to add any dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc. We kinda like it as is.
We have two pictures to show a close-up of the granola as well as both pans before they went into the oven.
It makes a pretty good sized amount, so we felt two pans would be necessary to get it toasted well.
Store in an airtight container or ziploc bag but we can pretty well tell you that it won’t last long.
AND, then we had an Elfin moment where we decided to use the granola in a batch of oatmeal cookies…WHOA!! Awesome! You an see the pecan pieces in the chocolate chip
and the dried cranberries in the, well, cranberry cookies.

Taco Night
Y’all know that we have now designated Sunday night as Taco Night. So last Sunday, we wanted to experiment with tempeh and indeed we did. We didn’t go into a long drawn out recipe as we get pretty laze on Sunday evenin’s and don’t want to cook a complicated dish. So, we opted to steam our tempeh for 10 minutes, let cool and then finely dice. We sautéed in a little bit of coconut oil and then added Simple Truth Meatless Crumbles. We then seasoned with chipotle powder, cumin, a TEENY bit of Ghost pepper salt, ancho chili powder, bittersweet smoked paprika to taste. Easy and delicious. Here’s what the shells looked like just stuffed with the tempeh filling (just ignore that stray piece of Daiya shredded cheese)
and here’s the final product.
This actually made a fairly large amount, so we had it on hand to add to salads, soups, baked potatoes or anything else we had on hand. Here’s where we added it to the FABULOUS Brussels Sprouts salad from last week!! It was so good!!
 As a result, we have decided to make a double batch every Sunday of whatever fillin’ we dream up so it’s an option for lunches all week!

For those of you who are working hard on being more plant-based in your diet, this is a wonderful meal that is tasty, easy and plant-based. So many folks think that plant-based means sticks, seeds and tastelessness; this is a nice way to have a totally plant-based meal that is wonderful and fun to eat. This Sunday (today) will be no exception…we already have our mini-recipe on hand and are excited about a new Taco Night!

Your Elf wishes to thank Rebecca Turner (radio host for SuperTalk MS's Mission Nutrition show and Clarion-Ledger Nutrition columnist) for havin' us on her show. The show will air on Saturday, Christmas Eve, December 24 at 9:00 a.m. In case any of y'all are interested, you can link to SuperTalk Radio and listen in. Just look for
Mission Nutrition and go for it! She's a delightful host and full of energy and great nutritional information.

Since next Sunday is Christmas Day, we will not be publishing our little blog so we can celebrate with our family and friends. We will start the day with a Vegan Christmas Breakfast and Mimosas at the Taylor’s (kids/grands) followed no doubt by a nap and then!!! Yes, we’ll be having our traditional Pajama Christmas Dinner with our BFFs, the Dees. We already have our recipes picked out and will spend this week having so much fun getting ready and preparing them. So, we hope everyone has a wonderful celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah, or Holy Day of your faith. We’ll pick back up on New Year’s Day with more Elfin Adventures and a new FFVK elf-fort!! So, from The Elf and Big Solid, we wish you only the best and look forward to a magnificent plant-based year! Until then, remember to…
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 that you can. In other words, “DO EPIC”!
Your Elf

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