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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Horton Hears an Elf

Well, we’ve been suffering from Blogger’s Block in a BIG way! NEVERTHELESS, we are determined to get our Elfin-groove back and once again entertain and revel you with how cool it is the eat plant-based. As we move toward this holiday weekend and your Elf's FOURTH year of this Bloggeriness, we want to check back over the week to see what we’ve actually cooked! We also want to alert you to three new cookbooks that we’ve gotten lately (like we NEED another cookbook) and some of the terrific recipes they contain. We are going to share each cookbook in no particular order (and maybe something we’ve made from them). But FIRST, we don’t know about y’all but we in Mississippi have experienced several little cool snaps since Spring Sprung and we THOUGHT we’d gone through all the ‘spring winters’—you know, Redbud, Blackberry, and Cotton Britches. But this week, we had yet another couple of really cool (relatively speaking) days/mornings before the breath-removing, all-consuming, body-drenching, gill-demanding bi-wave of heat and humidity rolled back in. So, in a damn near history making photograph, we present your Elf in a FLEECE jacket this past Thursday the 25th of MAY!!

Given that your Elf IS INDEED a cold-natured creature, this is not unusual indoor wear all summer as Big Solid likes it a wee bit cooler in the Elf-haus. But for outside, this is nothing short of extraordinary.

So, our first featured cookbook is from America’s Test Kitchen titled Vegan For Everybody. In case you don’t know, America’s Test Kitchen is the gold standard for testing recipes to assure that they are delicious. They also publish that great magazine Cook’s Illustrated and the companion, Cook’s Country. While not vegan in nature, Cook’s Illustrated is a fabulous magazine…no advertisements, great illustrations, tips, gadget reviews, and recipes. Well, they NOW have a vegan cookbook, so we ordered it.

By FAR, the most popular recipe we’ve tried out is their Breakfast Energy Bars. It’s a bit of a labor intensive recipe but, once you get the hang of it, well worth the elf-fort. These bars are totally delicious! We won’t go through ALL of the steps but give you enough to whet your appetite. After following a fairly lengthy preparation (toasting nuts and seeds, prepping the pan with foil liners so you can lift the bars out, making a date and maple syrup based binder), you get it all mixed up.
Then you squash it all down into your prepped pan and it's ready for the oven. See all those good nuts/seeds in there! NO processed sugars or eggs or stuffs like that!!
This bakes for a while, until it’s pretty set, and removed from the oven. Here’s the tricky part…let this cool for a MINIMUM of 15 min (we found 30 to be better for us), then lift out the whole thing and slice into 10 bars. Then these bars go into the over (which hasn’t been turned off) and baked for 15-20 minutes. Again, we have experimented with the time and oven, finding that a convection baking works best for us but you have to be careful about over-baking (15 min maximum). Anyway, here’s what they look like baking.
Notice two pans of 10 bars. Since these are so popular, we now bake a double recipe, which makes everybody happy! We love sharing these with our friends in a continuing elf-fort to show folks that plant-based eating can be so very tasty. We LOVE this cookbook and will continue to share our experiences and dishes with you. Here is the link to American’s Test Kitchen website.
They also have a Facebook page that you can search out.

We’ve cooked a number of things from Kathy Hester's ever-so-fun Vegan Slow Cooking and have enjoyed the convenience of slow-cooker, well, cooking, enormously. Actually, we’d purchased this cookbook before we realized it was ‘for two’ and used a smaller slow-cooker (1.5-2 quart) so we HAD to go buy one. Now we want a second one so we can cook two things at once! We are saving our favorite recipe (so far) for another Blog (and there’s a reason for that). But, one we’ve tried and had semi-success (my fault and not the recipe...read ahead) is titled Ethiopian Style Tempeh W’et and Veggie Meal. Y’all KNOW we at the Kinky Elfery Kitchen LOVE Ethiopian food and so we jumped on this one right away. We also have a fondness for tempeh and always have some one hand. The rest of the ingredients are almost always on hand as well, including the Berbere spice that is the quintessential spice of Ethiopia and other exotic spices such as cardamom. This was one of the recipes we tried BEFORE we bought our smaller slow-cooker, so we doubled it to fit our regular sized slow-cooker (Mistake #1). Here’s the tempeh in the cooking sauce, which is a lovely blend of spices, vinegar, onion and ginger.

The next layer is the vegetable layer of cabbage, potatoes and carrots which we again doubled (Mistake #2). Our mistake here was trying to pile a double portion of these veggies in a parchment paper ‘envelope’ that could be sealed (kinda like a vegetable en papillote).
But we were in too deep to back out so we cooked it on low as the recipe indicated (Mistake #3). A larger capacity slow-cooker (at least the one we have) cooks faster/hotter (even on low) than the smaller one, so we WAY WAY over-cooked this recipe. However, the flavors were delicious though the texture of both the tempeh and vegetables was too soft. We will most definitely do this again and this time, use the right size recipe and cooker!! A second recipe we’ve tried and enjoyed was…hold onto yourself…Tofu and Grape Stew. We are big fans of a veganized version of Italian Sausage and Grapes so this sounded really good. And you know what, IT IS! We served it over cous cous for a lovely meal!
We have also made several soups (White Bean Barley, Creamy Tomato Bisque, Indian Sambar) from this cookbook as well and all were outstanding. For further information on the slow-cookery world of Kathy Hester, here’s a link to her website.
She also has a Facebook page titled Vegan Cooking with Kathy Hester. Please avail yours-elfs of her expertise.

Our final cookbook is the new No Meat Athlete by Matt Frazier and Stephanie Romine.

We have yet to try any recipes from this book as we have had it only a short time, so stay tuned, for sure! Here is the link to the NMA website
AND there is a No Meat Athlete Facebook page as well.

And finally, we’d like to share a some pictures of our ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants’ meals that we dream up when we’ve gotten behind on time to cook or had vegetables (thanks to the UpInfarms CSA) we needed to use. First up, we HAD some awesome broccoli that turned into a lovely Cream of Broccoli soup, using cashew cream and topped with a swirl of cashew cream and garnished with some chile lime corn.

We made up the recipe as we went and have no clue how to replicate it exactly. Yesterday, we got a hankerin’ for a breakfast burrito, so we made a quick tofu scramble, added a ground plant-based Andouille Sausage,
and seasoned with chipotle chili powder, cayenne pepper, and ghost pepper salt! We even threw in a few left-over potato rounds (gotta have something decadent every now and then).
Rolled up in a wheat tortilla with some Daiya shredded cheese, Chipotle Hot Sauce and some freshly picked cilantro, this Burrito was a taste sensation!!
So, there you have it…the return of The Elf to the Bloggery world. Next week, we will be making a trip to Memphis and hopefully have some really cool pictures of the plant-based options found there!!

We also want to say on this Memorial Day weekend that without the ultimate sacrifices made by thousands of men and women who fought for us, we would not enjoy the freedom to live our lives in liberty. We remember, we honor and we will never forget.
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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