Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Girl with the Elfin Tattoo

This week in The Elf’s world has been reasonably busy but not quite as frenetic as the past couple. For that we are grateful. That being said, we'll get right on our EXPERT recipe(s) of the week from Susan Voisin’s FatFree Vegan Kitchen and then share with you the ups and downs of this week’s Elfin ‘kinky cookery’ (apologies to E.L. James). We had selected two salads to prepare:


It does look like a 'chickpea-palooza' but both turned out quite nicely…with the notable exception of The Elf’s complete inability to roll rice paper into decent rolls. You’ll see, for sure. Since both recipes were really quick and easy to prepare, we didn’t take detailed photographs of the process. That ease of preparation certainly goes a long way toward putting something together quickly that is yummy, filling and packed with nutritional good stuffs. It’s quite obvious that practice is needed in order to make these rolls; Susan’s site provides a nice video tutorial, which I watched at least three times, thinking “No problem.”  You know, whenever a cook gets a bit of over-confidence, there’s always SOMETHING to whip that right out of them. What looks easy, isn’t…at least for the first few times.

This is the plating of both the Sea-Sational Chickpea Salad, the 3 Minute Chickpea Salad (using the suggestion from Susan to roll in rice paper for a nice change of pace) and a Grilled Vegan Cheese. 

And THIS is the rather pathetic initial attempt at rolling the 3 Minute Chickpea Salad into rolls with rice paper. What you DON'T see is the rather substantial number of rice paper circles that got stuck together or balled up or otherwise ruined EVEN BEFORE we tried to roll them! And SUSAN made it look SO EASY!! That's why she's THE EXPERT! Seriously, if y'all have additional suggestions on how to better wrap, please let The Elf know.
We have selected two recipes for the coming week; Hot Layered Hummus (gotta battle that VitaMix fear) and a lovely dessert, Peach Upside Down Cake; anything cooked in an iron skillet has got to be good. 

Y’all know we are also big fans of The Gentle Chef, Skye Michael. He works wonders transforming dairy based or animal based foods into plant-based foods.  Some of his cheeses look astoundingly good and from what we’ve read from those who have made them, they taste as good as they look.  We’ve not been quite that adventuresome yet but have delighted in many of his plant-based meat alternatives.  This week, we made two of his plant-based meats…one in order to prepare a new recipe we found earlier on One Green Planet’s daily food newsletter. The recipe is called ‘Seitan ala Taroja’

 Seitan is made from Vital Wheat Gluten and for this preparation we simmered it in a broth of vegetable stock, Bragg's Liquid Aminos and some Liquid Smoke. These are cutlets that can be sauteed and served with mushroom gravy or however you want. We like to slice the cutlets into strips and saute to add to a salad.

The other recipe we made is Chef Skye’s plant-based Bacun. Now, understand that there is NOTHING that completely replicates meats, especially bacon BUT this is pretty damned good. AND, our first elf-fort was passable…meaning, we didn’t throw it out. We did learn a thing or two about tweaking the seasoning to suit our palates and how to make the ‘fat’ striations a little more prominent like the real deal. Since we just planted some tomatoes, we want to make sure we have plenty of good Bacun on hand for ‘sammiches’ in a few weeks!! By the way, we only planted two plants so far…an heirloom yellow (Big Solid threw away the marker) and a Black Krim. We try to space them a few weeks apart so we have ‘maters all along the way and not all at once.
Yellow Heirloom Tomato just getting started!!

Black Krim Heirlooms also just planted. Counting THE DAYSS!!
 Bacun just before cooking...see what I mean about the striations..ours are too little bitty but we'll take care of that next go around!

Pan fried Bacun on tomato/avocado toast..this is what The Elf has nearly every morning!

When we prepare another recipe/batch of the Bacun, we’ll take step by step pictures since we’ll be a bit more confident in our capability to do it better. The Elf has both of Chef Skye's cookbooks we got from his site:

The other recipe we did this week dang near did The Elf’s little heart in…Boiled Peanut Hummus. We’d made a recipe for my brother and his sweetie when they were here a couple of weeks ago…he LOVES boiled peanuts. Boiled peanuts are an acquired taste that not everyone enjoys, but it you do…you REALLY DO! Well, Here’s the first few steps and then we’ll ‘splain why you don’t see the middle part and just the end result.

First we got this GIANT can of boiled peanuts...and they had to be shelled. This is something we will reconsider when buying again. Big Solid's fingers were nearly paralyzed when he got through shelling them!! Besides, it made WAY too much hummus!

This is a LOT of boiled peanuts! Four cups, actually.

The remaining ingredients were gathered. In the little white cup is 1/4 cup of lemon-lime juice. There is EVOO added as well. The recipe (linked below) does call for some Kosher salt but we found it completely unnecessary.

Between this step and the final product shown later, we put all our ingredients in the VitaMix that I'd save up months to buy. That thing scares The Elf to DEATH but we are determined to learn how to use it. Well, we MUST have overloaded it with too many peanuts and stuffs because it growled, groaned and finally started vibrating so badly that it DANCED across the counter and bounced the container off the spinner thingie. Then it smelled like it was over-heating, so we stopped it and let that great engine chill a bit. Finally got the hummus made but The Elf was shaking like a leaf and swearing like a sailor. We will continue our pursuit of obtaining a comfort level with this machine since it does have a great track record and sure does blend like a fiend.

The finished product of Boiled Peanut Hummus...thank goodness we can freeze it because we'll never eat all of this!
This is the recipe that we used although there are several. It makes a much smaller amount which is where The Elf got VitaMixed-up.
Next weekend is the annual gathering of all the Mississippi State Bulldogs on that very same campus to celebrate Super Bulldog Weekend. That means that the men of the 1963 Bulldog team that went to the last Liberty Bowl held in Philadelphia PA will once again regale us with their tales of grit, grime, guts, and glory. All the stories have been told a million billion times, with embellishment and twinkling eyes. Big Solid was on that team, remaining close to all the players after over 50 years. Those guys have a connection that is eternal and love each other like brothers. In a way, they indeed are.

We leave you this week with another picture of spring in the south. The wisteria is gone but the azaleas are spectacular.

So, we’ll see you next week with a full report of how a vegan goes to Super Bulldog weekend. Til next week, y’all, breathe deep, eat plants, laugh a lot and love life.
The Elf

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