Sunday, April 5, 2015

On a Clear Day, You Can See an Elf

Gotta start this week’s blog off with a picture that is so reminiscent of the South in the spring. We have had such a dismal winter in the heart of Dixie that the appearance of the red buds, dogwoods, azaleas and wisteria is like a gentle sigh that all is right with the world. There's just something so SOUTHERN about wisteria; the genteel and lovely grapelike blooms don't last long but they sure do shine while they're here.

We have had some WONDERFUL food this week, including our featured recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe--Vegan Sausage and Mushroom Etouffee.

When we first wrote to Susan Voisin (the brains and the EXPERT behind FFVK) and told her we’d selected this recipe, she wrote back and noted that this was one of her favorites. Well, we can understand why. This ranks up there with some of the best of the FFVK recipes we’ve tried so far. We think that the biggest surprise of this whole recipe was the oil-free roux. That’s almost an oxymoron!! But, I swear to you that it’s the BEST ROUX The Elf has ever made. Rouxs are tricky so we were really concerned about how to pull off an oil free roux. We stirred and watched and stirred and watched, completely aware of the dozens of times we’d stirred a WEE BIT TOO LONG and wound up having to start over. Once the flour is burned, there’s no recovery…you just toss it in the garbage and bust out a new supply of flour. I can honestly tell you that I watched that flour like a HAWK and it paid off. So, here we go:

 We sauteed up some onions...

 Then added about 8 oz of quartered mushrooms

Next up, we added the's darker than it looks here. The consistency is lovely!

 Then we added our plant-based Andouille sausages and let them soak up all that great roux flavor and exude some of their own goodness

Then we sauteed a few asparagus (store-bought) 

And plated over some brown rice for our final 'let's dive in" . The Elf actually got the plating backwards...seems like you're supposed to put the rice on top of the etoufee. But, the taste and goodness was still the time, though!

As we are moving into spring full speed ahead, we would like to explore the lighter side of FFVK. So we’ll be selecting salads and other lighter meals that will let us start shopping more at the local Farmer’s Market for tomatoes (OH FOR A FRESH TOMATO!!), salad greens, and all that wonderful fresh stuff that we have missed for all winter!! So next week, for our EXPERT recipe effort, we are going to look at preparing a couple of salads that can be a light meal in and of themselves or combined with a soup or sandwich. The recipes we are going to prepare Wednesday are:
Sea-Sational Chickpea Salad
3 Minute Chickpea Salad

Early in the week, The Elf decided to try something a bit different which kinda got us thinkin' about the lighter evening meal ideas…veggie bowls seem to be an easy and healthy way to stuff yourself and not feel like you are going to explode. So, we found this lovely looking recipe from one of our favorite sites, Vegan Richa.  It's a Moroccan Chickpea Cauliflower Bowl with Herb Sauce.
The mint/herb sauce is to die for, the marinated garbanzo beans and roasted cauliflower added such a multitude of complex flavors and the tomatoes just the right touch of cool. It’s a recipe we will repeat quite often.

Do y’all remember the Tempeh Salad from TEFF LOVE by Kittee Barnes? Well, so many folks have written to say they had tried it and found the dressing (made with that wonderful and very spicy Ethiopian Berbere) such a delight. Well, we took the two Tablespoons of the herb dressing from the Moroccan bowl and combined it with two Tablespoons of the Berbere dressing and poured it over the remaining salad and some left over garbanzos. HOLY TASTEGASM!! What fun!
One of the sites we frequent DAILY is One Green Planet…it’s kinda like a clearinghouse of great sites for both vegan recipes and ideas as well as important stuffs about our animal protection and our world in general. They always cite the original blog or site from which their suggestions are found. In fact, it’s where we got the Moroccan Bowl from Vegan Richa. The post on Good Friday was outstanding with no less than 13 (yes THIRTEEN) links to terrific looking recipes.We signed up for the newsletter which is a daily missive to your inbox.

When we first moved to our current house 8 years ago, we planted several asparagus crowns in various parts of the back yard. We have watched little teeny skinny asparagus come up each year until THIS YEAR when we actually had 'harvestable' shoots!! SEE!! 

So, now The Elf is all pumped about getting the garden turned, tilled and planted. It's still a wee bit chilly as the ground has not really warmed up but the turning and getting it ready can NOW!!  We hope you enjoy the 'Elfcapades' as well as clear skies and warming temps. Until next week, y’all, breathe deep, laugh a lot, eat plants and love life.
The Elf 

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