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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Don’t Put the Cart Before the Elf

Last week, JUST about the time we hit ‘Publish’, we realized we’d left out a story!! It’s yet another Elfic-FAIL to keep you aware that we bring you not only the fun and joy of cooking up a vegan storm but also the bad and the really ugly.  We'll share it with you after we talk about our FFVK recipe of the week! 
We chose Susan Voisin’s Ethiopian-Inspired Red Lentil Soup for this week’s recipe. 
Ethiopian is our most favorite cuisine EVER, so we are always on the lookout for Ethiopian recipes. We had much fun with this one!! We decided to do it the right way and make Susan's ‘home-made’ version of Berbere spice that is such a staple in Ethiopian cooking. One can find a decent Berbere at Whole Food/Paycheck but since we had ALL the ingredients on hand, why not do it according to Susan’s recipe!! So, we got our spice ingredient ‘mise en place’. Below you have fenugreek powder, cinnamon, ground coriander, freshly grated nutmeg, ground cloves, ground allspice, ground cardamom, bittersweet smoked paprika (your Elf’s absolute favorite, obscured by the nutmeg grater), cayenne, salt (in the white ramekin), turmeric and black pepper.

 Once that was done, it was just a matter of putting them together in a jar and shaking to mix well. The end result is a nice jar of wonderfully aromatic and flavorful Berbere.
 After the Berbere was finished, we commenced the actual cookin' part. We sautéed the onion as usual (til it started to brown a bit) and then added the potatoes (we obviously left the skin on), the lentils, and garlic
 and then added our ho’made Berbere!  We stirred all that up to coat the contents with the spice
before adding 3 cups of plant-based chicken bouillon (The Gentle Chef’s dry mixture that we ALWAYS HAVE ON HAND).
 After the bouillon was added, we covered the pot and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes, allowing the lentils to cook through.
 Next up came the crushed tomatoes, green beans and additional bouillon to make a really thick soup.
 We checked the seasonings, thinking we would probably need to add more Berbere but we didn’t. There was plenty of heat in the 2 Tablespoons we used initially. And, since we knew we would probably be sharing some soup with friends, we didn’t want to obliterate the lining of their stomach with too much heat.
 Lastly, we added the spinach and just let it cook a few minutes before serving.
 We also had on hand the end results of our Elfic-FAIL mentioned earlier, a nice batch of plant-based sausage crumbles. So, why not throw in a few of them…delicious!! We toasted some pumpernickel bread and had a lovely supper.
 We actually had some vegan pimento cheese at the ready for soup/sandwich but really didn’t need it…the soup and toast was plenty. This is a hearty, delicious, easy to prepare and nutritious supper soup. It is substantial but still a welcome change of pace from a full-blown meal.

OK—time for True Elf-fessions. We have been preparing what Skye Michael Conroy (aka The Gentle Chef) calls meat analogues for at least 4 years.
We realize there is a school of thought among plant-based eaters that eschews plant-based meats, especially the ‘store-bought’ kind. Yet, we enjoy them a great deal when we make them ours-elf…to us, it’s no different from plant-based ‘dairy’ (milks such as soy, almond, cashew to name a few). You’ve heard us write about our plant-based meat analogues, show pictures of them and even a Gentle Chef approved step by step of how to make his ‘Bacun’ (See Elf Blog 5/3/15 titled "The Elf Also Rises").
Of late, we’ve been making a maple breakfast sausage roll that we can slice, heat and serve with vegan biscuits. 
Anywho, Chef Skye is ADAMANT in his instructions about the preparation of his plant-based meat analogues that they be SECURELY DOUBLE WRAPPED in heavy duty aluminum foil for baking or steaming. And for the past 4 years, we have honored that directive. Well, when we prepared the most recent batches of maple sausage rolls, we must NOT have secured EITHER layer of foil for one of the sausage rolls—though we thought we did. Both rolls cooked nicely their allotted time, the oven was turned off and we were reaching for our potholders to remove them when a huge explosion rocked the Kinky Elfery Kitchen. We immediately thought “EARTHQUAKE!!”, since the CRACK/POW/BOOM sounded just like the 3.2 quake we had here about a year ago. We nearly jumped out of our little Elfin skin!!  Then we noticed that the force of the explosion blew the oven door open a little bit and it rocked back into place! and we realized what had happened. One of our sausage rolls had gone kablooey! There were sausage bits all over the oven. So, we got the intact roll out and then gathered the destroyed foil package with as much of the sausage as we could salvage. We were shaking and laughing at the same time. The sausage certainly didn’t survive as a roll but it was thoroughly cooked and quite edible.
 So, after it cooled overnight, we cut it up a bit and threw it in the food processor. Voila!! Sausage crumbles.

 And THAT’S what we added to our Red Lentil Soup last night. We are also going to try to make some sausage/Daiya/onion stuffed pies with our vegan biscuit dough. 
Two events next week that we are looking forward to sharing with you! Saturday (2/11) will be our Vegan Girls Night at Gigi's. And the other is our FFVK recipe of the week...we don't know what it will be yet, but we know it will be good! So, it's time to vegan wrap this week's blog and put her to bed. That bein' said, always remember to...
Look for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can. In other words, “DO EPIC”!

Your Elf


  1. I am vegan. However, I didn't stop eating meat because I didn't like the taste or texture; I stopped for compassionate reasons. I don't eat it all the time, but "store bought" meat or home-made seitan are eaten occasionally.
    I made this recipe a few days ago, and it is spectacularly delicious. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Valerie, We share the same reason for becoming plant-based. I enjoyed eating meat until the ethical issues got to me. That's why we enjoy our foray into our plant-based meats. Thanks so much for your support and response

  2. We have also had one major explosion and several "pops". We no longer wrap our foil as tightly on the first wrap. We try to leave about an inch of the foil empty on each end of the "tube" before we start twisting the ends. Also, we are very careful to not go over measurements of liquid. And for safety, we wrap a 3rd layer of foil in a loose pouch like package with lots of air space. That might be overkill. But we love the vegan analogues we make and Hate cleaning the oven!

    1. Karen..thanks for the response and camaraderie! I think you're absolutely right about leaving some space...will most definitely leave more room next time! Thanks also for supporting this little bloggery!