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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Love Your Neighbor as Your Elf

Well y’all…we have a LOT to talk about this week and some interesting glimpses into the future. We prepared several dishes this week that we’d like to share. If you remember, last week we talked about yet ANOTHER cookbook that we’d actually discovered on one of our cookbook shelves. We can’t BELIEVE we had not perused it or tried any of the recipes. Well, those days are over. The cookbook is Vegan Bowls by Zsu Dever. Here’s the link to her site and book.
The recipe we chose to make was Sambal-Glazed Tempeh Bowl. We are big fans of tempeh AND Sambal, so this was clearly our inaugural elf-fort. So, we got our ‘mise en place’.
You see the cookbook along with the Sambal Oelek, Low Sodium Tamari, Rice Wine Vinegar, Organic Sugar, Lime, and Tempeh (we typically use LightLife tempeh as it’s easy to find). What you DON’T see is the primary reason for the ‘mise en place’! The recipe calls for basmati (or long grain white rice). We always use brown rice and COULD HAVE SWORN we had some but did not. And we were not about to drop everything and run to the store. So, we looked for suitable options (quinoa being one and pasta being another). We opted for brown rice pasta (not pictured). Well, a lovely marinade composed of the liquid ingredients and some water is reduced by half and then the sliced tempeh is added to soak it up for a bit.
Heck, we were already in love, having tasted the marinade…really spicy and delicious. The tempeh is then grilled (or sautéed as the case may be here, since we do not have a grill pan…yet).
The second substitution came as the 'green or vegetable' component of the bowl. We had some wonderful baby bok choy on hand so we went with it rather than the broccoli in the original recipe. This was sautéed along with julienned carrots, sesame oil, tamari, and vegetable broth (which to your Elf means The Gentle Chef’s Chicken Bouillon).
A half cup of pumpkin seeds (pepitas) was toasted and seasoned with Chinese 5-Spice ONLY once again, our 5-Spice larder was bare…so we subbed Berbere (the Ethiopian spice we love). We cooked the Brown Rice pasta twirly things and then put the bowl together.
We could not BELIEVE how good this was. Like we posted on our Elf FB page, if we operated a Vegan/Plant-based restaurant, this would be on the menu!

Next up was a recipe from the book we featured last week, Eat Vegan on $4 a Day by Ellen Jaffe Jones…Delectable Lentil Soup. We are soup fanatics and always have at least one soup on hand for a quick lunch of supper meal. This time, we chose to utilize the convenience of the slow cooker AND, of course, we were missing one of the ingredients (the fire-roasted) tomatoes. We said to ours-elfs, ‘what the hell’ and forged ahead tomato-less. We were also a bit short on the lentils, so used split pigeon peas (aka Toor Dal) instead! See?

We threw all the ingredients (carrots, potatoes, onion, celery, garlic,and spices) into the slow cooker, cranked that sucker up and walked away.
At the end of the day, here’s what we had…a lovely lentil soup with lots of flavor, though of course, you know we add cayenne to everything. Served with some crusty toast and a Pinot Grigio, we were good to go!
AND THEN….AND THEN… it was time to start working on our plant-based options to take to our annual Fourth of July at our BFFs, the Dees. Bein’ it’s summer and all, we made the awesomest dessert ever (arguable, of course) called Summer Berry Pudding. We have used Michael Chiarello’s recipe for years and it’s never failed us.
But, if you Google Summer Berry Pudding, you’ll find a plethora of recipes that are available. We have always doubled the recipe for the berry ‘sauce’ or puree used to coat the bread since the bread does soak it up pretty quickly and there’s nothing worse than running out when you’re only half-way done! In any event, the whole or coarsely chopped berries are heated with sugar until juicy
and then the pudding is layered with the coated/soaked bread. Here’s what it looks like just before the final layer of coated bread is placed on top.
A slightly smaller pan is placed over this top and weighted to smush the pudding together (we used heavy cans). We learned the hard way to place the weighted pudding on a lipped cookie sheet before placing it in the ‘frig for an overnight stay. The first time we did this, we were cleaning out the lower part of the ‘frig for few days. Using some non-dairy ice cream (we love So Delicious Cashew Cream in Cappuccino, pictured, or Salted Caramel) just added another level of decadence to this delicious dessert.
Two other dishes we prepared for our Fourth of July evening were a Red Lentil Pasta with sautéed shiitake mushrooms, steamed broccoli, Delight Soy Chicken Nuggets and Plant-based Andouille Sausage (home-made, of course). Tossed with some lemon juice and EVOO, you have a nice meal
AND
a Tofu Scramble with Zucchini, Orange, Red and Green Bell Peppers, Peas, and Kalamata Olives. We added a touch of White Balsamic Vinegar to give it a bit of ZING and served it with Pumpernickel Toast.
So, there you have the week. It was fun and busy.

NOW, for some interesting and hopefully delicious news that happened to coincide with our growing concern over the AMOUNT of money we have been spending on groceries!! We have never been good planners as we tend to cook by impulse. Heck, we may plan out two weeks worth of menus which all go to hell in a hand-basket if something catches our eye or we decide ‘we don’t want that’. A vegan friend of ours, Gigi Carter, sent us information on a Meal Delivery plan from The Green Chef that includes vegan meals. So, we thought we’d sign up for it to see if that would cut down on the amount of food we buy (and ultimately waste) AS WELL AS provide interesting food concoctions that we might not try otherwise. Starting July 14, we will be receiving 3 days worth of entree meals which include all the ingredients portioned our for the recipe. That STILL leaves us 2 days to cook recipes up from the recent cookbooks we’ve been featuring for our supper/dinner as well as lunches and breakfasts. We will run a comparison with the cost of the home delivered meals (and the rest of meals we will prepare) with the previous weeks of shopping expenses. Hope that makes sense. We also want to share our experience with ease of preparation, flavors/taste combinations and menu variations.

Let’s make this now a Vegan Wrap until next week. In the meantime, 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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