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Sunday, April 23, 2017

To Elf or Not to Elf

Well, we sure have been out of pocket for the past couple of weeks. Your Elf has had Blogger’s Block…just could NOT get in the writing mood or rhythm. But, we are back and hopefully can catch us up on some of the more interesting and fun stuffs we’ve cooked lately. BUT FIRST, we had a MAJOR “Cleanin’ Out The Freezer” event to rid ours-elfs of things we meant to eat but never got to it. To paraphrase that old sayin’, “The Road to Food Poisoning is Paved with Good Intentions”. In our case, many of those good intentions have been in the freezer for a very long time. Even we can't handle 3 years of sitting in the freezer!

So, we managed to rid ours-elfs of a substantial amount of food in the refrigerators and freezers with also a substantial degree of guilt. It appears from the sacks of food we have thrown out as well as the multitude of frozen containers that are thawing out food that needs to go, we could have fed a small country.
Not so good. We will endeavor to do better.

We’ve typically held to our weekly schedule…Taco Night

Baked Potato Night saw us throw together some seitan we had thawed out, mushrooms,
peas, and onions
before piling it all on a baked 'tater with some vegan cheese
and Taco Salad Night (more discussion of this elf-fort later one) and at least one night of trying to prepare something from a very heavily stocked and under utilized pantry. But we’ve also had great fun trying out some of the recipes from the America’s Test Kitchen Vegan Cookbook or a recipe from the TV show “America’s Test Kitchen” on Create TV that wasn’t vegan but was easily veganized. In addition, we followed up on a recipe that was posted on FB from the NYTimes Cooking site because it looks SO good (if you love Mushrooms) and it was also very easy to convert to a totally plant-based meal. So, let’s take a look:

We really like easy for most of our meals though we do occasionally fall into a recipe that take more time and has way more ingredients than we usually manage. So, in the easy category, a couple of our easy elf-forts have been a Crock Pot conglomeration that used up several various beans we’ve had stored. We soaked all our remaining Cranberry beans, Black (turtle) beans, and Great Northern beans for about 36 hours and then threw them in the Crock Pot with some of The Gentle Chef’s Chick’n Bouillon, some cumin, some cayenne, some Boca Crumbles, and some ghost pepper salt. At supper time, all we had to do was dish it up, throw a little vegan grated cheese on it

and serve with toasted Savory Drop Biscuits from the ATK cookbook (and we are here to tell you these are FINE!!)

We had seen a recipe online via Facebook for Mushrooms over Toast from the NYTimes Cooking site
We LOVE mushrooms here in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen, so we immediately set out to make this and make it plant-based. We sautéed two kinds of mushrooms (although the original recipe calls for creminis, we used them plus shiitakes.

Instead of real butter, we sautéed our mushrooms in Miyoko’s Creamery Vegan Butter which is wonderful.
We threw in some minced garlic, chopped thyme, salt/pepper to taste and let cook down a bit before adding some Marsala wine and a vegan version of crème fraiche. We took the easy route and just diluted a small amount of store-bought vegan sour cream with some unsweetened cashew milk.
We served this over some thickly sliced toasted wheat bread and sprinkled with some fresh parsley from the yard. (Sorry, not pictured). This is such a great dish and we have some ideas of how to make it even better next time.

This past week, we made a dish we had seen on the ATK show (American’s Test Kitchen) that sounded really interesting. Pasta with Roasted Garlic Sauce, Arugula, and Walnuts. NOW!! When you see how MUCH GARLIC goes into this recipe, you may be leery of trying it BUT it works!! Trust your Elf! We had the same thoughts. But first, we pan roasted a cup of walnut pieces, carefully, because nuts can burn mighty quickly.

Next up, the GARLIC!! We bought garlic already peeled because who wants to peel FIFTY cloves of raw garlic! That garlic was placed in a saucepan with 3 Tablespoons of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil).
We covered it and cooked over medium/low heat until the garlic was toasty brown (NEVER BURN GARLIC! It’s awful and you have to start over). We stirred it occasionally to make sure we got to the nice brown shade but not burned up.
When it was the right color, we added a cup of The Gentle Chef’s Chick’n Bouillon, let it come to a boil, reduced the heat and cooked until the garlic was fork tender.
This was placed in the VitaMix and blended until smooth and creamy.
As we were cooking the garlic, we got our pasta ready; we used whole wheat linguine and cooked until al denté, reserving about a half cup of the pasta water in case we needed it to thin the garlic sauce a bit. After the pasta was drained, we returned it to the pot and added the sauce, the roasted walnuts and the Elf’s version of Arugula, which is NOT. We are not fond of Arugula so we used a combination of bitter greens that worked beautifully.

No need to thin the sauce as it was just the right consistency to cling to the pasta and flavor it nicely. We plated it, sprinkled it with vegan Parm and dove in.
Big Solid and your Elf declare this to be a keeper extraordinaire! And so easy to do…only two ingredients needed to be changed to make this plant-based…the chicken broth and the Grated Romano were easily swapped out for plant-based options.

The last meal we want to talk about is more emotional than food oriented. Our Taco Salad Night. We have been accustomed to using Tostitos baked chips and even bought some blue corn chips to try. HOWSOMEVER, when your Elf’s little Mama used to make this dish 60+ years ago (and certainly not plant-based), she used Fritos. Those Fritos of old that were small and just as greasy as the day is long. Well, we purchased some Fritos scoops for old times’ sake and that’s what your Elf broke up and used on her Taco Salad.

You know what, your Elf damn near cried because that old Fritos taste brought back such memories of her little Mama. Hopefully, she was watchin’ and smilin’on us that night. Isn’t it interesting how sometimes a taste or a smell will kick you back into a bygone day and wrench feelings from your very soul? What are some of those taste or scent triggers for you?

So, that’s it for this week, y’all! Until we meet again, 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

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