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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hope for the Best, Prepare for The Elf

WOW! Do we have a jam-packed blog for you today!! So, let’s get goin’…
For last Sunday's Taco Night, we had 'chicken' tacos made from a combination of The Gentle Chef's Chicken shreds and the Louisiana cookbook's chicken seitan. 
They were outstanding! We took both chicken seitans and processed them to a chunky ground texture, sautéed with seasoning and piled our shells high!! 
Our FFVK recipe this week was Chickpeas, Potatoes and Green Beans in a Cauliflower Sauce.

This is an Indian dish, which is our second favorite cuisine behind Ethiopian. We actually prepared this dish for our Vegan Girls’ Night Out and it was given a unanimous thumbs up from the group.
Don’t let the number of ingredients throw you..the majority of them are to make the sauce and that actually takes little time. So, we actually had THREE ‘mise en places’ to put together. Your Elf is tellin’ you that once you get practiced at this ‘mise en place’ stuff, it sure does make things flow more smoothly! So, first was out MEP for the Sauce. Pictured below are 3 cups of water, minced garlic, white pepper, bay leaves, ground coriander, fresh ginger, cauliflower, ground cumin and garam masala. We have run out of our home-made garam masala via FFVK. We intend to use up what we have and then commence to makin’ our own from here on out.
The recipe also gives an option for curry leaves but we did not have any on hand. (Note to s-Elf…go to Patel Grocery to stock up on curry leaves and replenish other spices.) The next ‘mis en place’ is for the remaining recipe ingredients, so we have non-dairy milk (we use Almond-Cashew), chickpeas, frozen green beans, red potatoes and a lemon (for the fresh lemon juice). 
Our final ‘mis en place’ is a recipe side-bar for a Fiery Onion Relish that is optional. We decided in for a penny in for a pound, so made this as well. Onion, cayenne, lemon and paprika. Y’all know how much we love that Mas Portell Bittersweet Smoked Paprika, so we gave that a go. We have about 5 different paprikas in our spice space but find this one to be our fave.
Once we got everything assembled, chopped and otherwise cook-ready, we started off with the sauce. Here is the cauliflower with seasonings and water, ready to cook ’til fork tender.
And after about 20 minutes, it’s ready to be ‘sauced’.
Fortunately (or not) we have a hand-held blender; HOWSOMEVER, after the first couple of passes, we had sauce all over us and the counter. Our pan was a bit too shallow for the hand-held blender to work properly!
So we transferred it to the VitaMix and pureed it without further mess. Then we added the chickpeas that had been drained and rinsed,
the red potatoes that had been chopped
and the greenbeans.
We tasted the sauce to see if any additional seasoning was necessary…so we added a small amount of cayenne and about an eighth teaspoon of turmeric. Then we let this simmer until the potatoes were done.
The onion relish was very easy. Threw the onion in the mini-processor, added the paprika, lemon juice and cayenne. And, wouldn't you KNOW IT--we FORGOT to take this with us to our gathering! What a stupidhead your Elf is!
Of course, we tasted the finished recipe (not the Relish) and we were delighted. Very flavorful and robust. We also prepared the Vegan Girls favorite cookie, the Oatmeal Creme Pie (we call them the Little Kikis). We haven’t made these in a while so we were a bit apprehensive abouit how they would turn out. We also used Miyoko's Creamery Vegan Butter.
 It’s a bit on the pricey side but the taste is fantastic and it’s sustainable! Shown here is a partial batch with filling, ready to be a ‘pie’!

VEGAN GIRLS NIGHT OUT!!
As always, it was a great evening with good friends and we got to meet Andrew who has become quite an important guy for Misty. Left to right, Your Elf, Gigi, Leslie, Andrew and Misty!
It’s quite fun to anticipate all of the good plant-based food we will have. So here we go! We started off with some awesome Texas Caviar
followed by a couple of entrée options. A delicious grilled portabello taco, complete with peppers and cashew cream from Leslie and Gigi.

The Elf’s FFVK recipe, see above, with MS Blue Basmati Rice was also in the mix.
Then, of course, everybody’s favorite course, dessert. Yep, we had the Vegan Oatmeal Cream Pies
and a FABULOUS vegan Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cake from Misty and Andrew.
We ALL over ate and indulged beyond reason but it was worth it! At the end of the night, we were full, happy, and ready to plan our next time together.
A big Elfin thanks to Kevin Carter, Gigi’s husband, for taking the pictures and to both Kevin AND Gigi for once again hosting this fun group!

IN HER OWN WORDS
You know how chance meetings can sometimes result in discovery of like minds and thinking. Your Elf went to her neighborhood bank a few weeks back wearing a hoodie about being Vegan. One of the employees noticed it and mentioned that there was a teller who was ‘vegetarian’.  Well, we started talking and she is a budding vegan. So, we asked if she would be willing to share her journey, which she was excited to do. Introducing the lovely Lexi Senter!

My name is Lexi Senter, and this is the journey that led to my vegan lifestyle.
For me, the change was a slow progression, certainly not an overnight endeavor. I became a vegetarian in March 2016 after my best friend became a vegan a few months prior. I remember feeling as if a vegan diet was impossible for me, but I was still intrigued. I wanted to know what it was that made her choose this fairly uncommon lifestyle. She sent me a simple article from freefromharm.org
and I remember watching a video of cows lined up in a concrete tunnel as they waited for their turn to be slaughtered. The video showed no bloodshed or the process in which the cows were killed; however, it was while watching this video that I decided never to eat meat again. I felt so much empathy and compassion for these animals; it was clear that they were filled with fear yet were unable to save themselves.
Everything suddenly made sense. I have always been an animal lover. Even as a child, my parents gave me the nickname “Elly May Clampett” from the old television show, The Beverly Hillbillies. I was always coming home with new creatures to love. From an early age, I remember feeling empathy and compassion for animals. I was simply taught to ignore these feelings when it came to the food we ate as a family.
After that day in March, I never ate meat again. Going vegetarian was the easiest life change I have ever made. I have always loved fruits and vegetables, and I enjoy trying new things. I wish that I could say that I went vegan overnight but that’s not how it happened. I felt that it would be impossible for me to cut out all animal products, and I had a lot of opposition from my family and even some from my husband. I was told that a vegan diet was dangerous. I was told that my priorities were out of line because I cared too much about the environment.  It wasn’t until I was completely comfortable with my vegetarian lifestyle that I began to build the courage to go vegan.
In December 2016 I watched a documentary called Cowspiracy. I recommend that everyone, regardless of current dietary choices, watch this film. It was both interesting and educational to learn of the many benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. I enjoyed learning about the health and environmental benefits of veganism without having to view the gruesome animal cruelty that often accompanies the agricultural industry. This documentary gave me the courage and motivation to take the next step.

I began by cutting out all dairy and eggs from my diet. Dairy products were definitely the most difficult for me to eliminate.  Thankfully, we live in a time in which technology provides a vegan alternative for nearly any animal product.  Unfortunately, I am still not perfect. My journey to becoming vegan has been similar to learning to walk. I still have days when I stumble, but every day gets easier and more natural. I have discovered great vegan and cruelty-free products for household items such as fashion accessories, cosmetics, or cleaning supplies. I am constantly discovering delicious vegan recipes to try at home, and my sweet husband even eliminated beef and dairy from his diet because he saw how passionate I am about veganism.  I have found so much joy in this lifestyle that I want to share it with the world. We can make a difference.
WOW! Lexi, that's a wonderful story and we appreciate your sharing it with us.

So, there you have another week in the life of The Elf in the Kitchen!! We have selected our FFVK recipe for next week..it's Sicilian Market Pasta
We hope you've enjoyed our elf-forts and look forward to being with you next week. Until then...always 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

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