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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Land of the Free and the Elf

Thanks to all y’all (that’s plural for y’all) for reading the little mini-post of last week…Music City Elf. We had a great response to it! So this week, we want to catch you up on three recipes your Elf made from her new cookbook Eat Vegan on $4 a Day by Ellen Jaffe Jones.
So many folks talk about how expensive it is to ‘go vegan’ and truth be told, it can be pricey when exotic and/or hard to find ingredients are listed. So without further babbling on, here we go. There are some really interesting recipes in this book, so we started out with a soup, a breakfast and an entrée. We actually used all of them as a supper meal since we pretty much prepare our own breakfasts and lunch.  Big Solid likes to eat cereal for breakfast and your Elf likes avocado and tomato. We also like to eat at different times, usually depending on gym time and hunger level. You can almost always find a bowl of lentils and a container of brown rice in the refrigerator for a quick, healthy and tasty lunch. So, our first elf-fort was the soup…and the recipe is titled Minestrone with Pasta Shells. We have l earned oh so the hard way to get our ‘mise en place’. Pictured below are the ingredients at the ready.  Dried Kidney and Great Northern beans,

followed by chopped Napa cabbage, The Gentle Chef’s Chicken Bouillon powder (this stuff is the BOMB!), green beans, carrots, onion, garlic, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, celery and whole wheat pasta shells.
After cooking the beans for about an hour, we stirred in the tomatoes,
then the remaining vegetables, bouillon powder and garlic.

We decided to cook the pasta separately after experience has taught us that the pasta will stay al denté if added rather than continuously staying in the soup liquid. We used fresh Italian parsley from our little herb garden and dove in. We really meant to take a picture of this wonderful soup as we enjoyed it at supper but forgot. SOO…here’s a shot of just the soup after we’d eaten all the pasta up. It was delicious although there was one curiosity…minestrone is an Italian soup yet there were none of your typical Italian herbs in the recipe. No basil, no oregano, no thyme or combination thereof. And to be honest, we did add some at the end of the cooking period to boost the already nice flavors.
This soup also freezes well and we have a good meal waiting for us in the freezer. The estimated cost per serving of this soup it $3 per cup (and that’s 12 healthy servings). You can certainly add some crusty rustic bread to make it even more substantial.

The next recipe sounded so good, we jut had to give it a go…the breakfast dish called Chorizo-flavored Scramble. We adore Tex-Mex and all variations on that theme. This recipe has a BUNCH of ingredients it but don’t let that deter you. This dish is outstanding. So, here’s our ‘mise en place’: Onion, Apple Cider Vinegar, Raisins soaked in warm water, Garlic, Cumin, Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes, crumbled Tofu (we always use extra-firm organic), Tamari, Agave, Turmeric, Lightlife Vegan Bacon (a word about this later), and Boca Crumbles.

First, we cooked the vegan bacon
…and we have to tell  you that this is not a particularly exciting and tasty vegan bacon. Seriously…we much prefer (and this recipe gives us the impetus) to make our own vegan bacon using The Gentle Chef’s wonderful recipe. In fact, we devoted nearly a whole blog on a step by step of how to make this Bacon, with Chef Skye Michael’s permission as well!
Anywho, back to the Scramble. After frying up the ‘bacon’, we let it cool off a bit and then crumbled it up. We then sautéed the onion and garlic
and added everything else. Of course, we’d drained the raisins. This was cooked until really heated through and through.
Then we threw in the crumbled bacon and served over crumbled Fritos (or you could use any tortilla chip) topped with shredded Daiya Vegan Cheese (remember that we DO NOT LIKE the Daiya shreds…get the block cheese and shred it yourownself).
The estimated cost of this dish per serving is $.75 (10 servings). Since we added the Fritos and Daiya cheese, the cost would go up slightly. The recipe does suggest to serve with tortillas, which are much cheaper. We are just suckers for Fritos. Oh! And we probably pumped up the red pepper flakes and added some cayenne…you know we like spicey!!

And, the final recipe from Ms Jones book was another winner…Sesame Bok Choy. We typically get the baby Bok Choy at Mr. Chen’s (our go to Oriental Grocery) but this time, we opted for the BIG OLE Bok Choy. This recipe does NOT disappoint. If you’ve never tried Bok Choy, by all means do. It’s good, cooks quickly and is a change of pace from the same old green stuffs. And, being a cruciferous vegetable, it’s very good for you. Check this out.
We chopped our Bok Choy after washing it thoroughly, gave it a whirl or two in the salad spinner thingie, tossed into a large deep pan to sauté along with the carrots, green onions and garlic.  Remember that a little toasted sesame oil goes a long way, so don’t overpower your vegetables with too much…been there, done that.

Bok Choy cooks quickly so keep an eye on it…maybe two to three minutes. See how it cooks down?
We finished it off with some of The Gentle Chef’s Chicken Bouillon powder, soy sauce, minced fresh ginger and agave nectar. The recipe calls for this dish to be served over quinoa or brown rice..we chose pasta.
We also had prepared some Butler Soy Curls with a nice soak in a delicious broth, drained, and then sautéed.
The final dish looked like this.
and it was AWESOME!! Just the Bok Choy recipe with quinoa or rice averages $1.00 per serving (10 servings). So there you have an introduction to some of the recipes from this really cool cookbook. We will try to cook from this book frequently and report out!! AND!! LOOKEE what we just found as we were straightening up the gaggle of vegan cookbooks we have collected over the past 5 years.
As you can see, we’ve already marked a couple of recipes to try—REAL SOON!! And we end this little bloggery with the mention of ONE MORE cookbook. Chef Skye Michael Conroy has a new cookbook out that we just downloaded. He has been working on this for quite a while and we are eager to see if we can even BEGIN to make some of the plant-based seafood inspired recipes he’s developed. Check out this link to see what we are talking about.
So until next week, we wish you a safe and Happy Independence Day! Celebrate this great country with some great vegan food! AND, 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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