Monday, October 26, 2015

The Nightmare on Elf Street

Wow! This week has flown by ESPECIALLY since we didn’t publish our little Sunday blog until Tuesday! And now we are even a day behind on this one!! So much to share, so let’s ‘git all up in it’!
Dishes we prepared this week that are to DIE for!!
First up, Cauliflower . These little cakes are so good, Big Solid and The Elf have decided to keep a recipe’s worth in the ‘frig’ all the time. And, it’s calorie friendly, so there’s little guilt involved. Here’s the link to the recipe that we used although you can find several on line.
First we steamed the cauliflower (I never quite understand what is meant by a ‘medium size cauliflower’ so used the one we had) and processed it as directed. Not too much because we certainly didn’t want a pile of mush on our hands.

Then we made our flax egg mixture to ‘gel’ up in the refrigerator, got all our dry ingredients whisked together in a large bowl. That would be all-purpose flour, cornmeal, nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan (we actually used both and split the measurements equally between the two), garlic/onion powder, salt, pepper, parsley (we did not have fresh on hand, so used dried flakes) and paprika. The recipe states chili powder but allows paprika as a substitute. We LOVE bittersweet smoked paprika, so used that in lieu of the chili. May give the chili powder a go next time (which will be this week!).The Elf got ahead of her picture takin’ time and almost forgot to take a picture of the dry you see a ‘few’ cauliflower pieces as well.

We added the flax egg mixture and the processed cauliflower and mixed it all up.  And, though this recipe does not call for onion, we added about a half of a white onion that was finely chopped.  Got all these ingredients all combined and then commenced to ‘makin’ cakes. What fun!!

Next up, the fryin’ part. Now, we put more oil in our pan than we needed and will not make that mistake again. But we got the oil good and hot so a nice crust would form on the cakes. The trick is to NOT get too excited and turn them too soon. These are cooking nicely.

Just one turn is really all you need, so be patient, peek under one cake from time to time until you have the crust and color you want, then turn.

Now for those of you who want to cut as much fat/oil from your diet as possible, you might try to use an oil spray, get the crusts done and bake in a 400 degree oven until done. The Elf hasn’t tried that but did see it mentioned on the recipe comment section. We also did NOT make the dipping sauce (veganaise and vegan chili sauce…although we would have probably used sriracha).
We served our ‘cauliflower cakes’ with a pan seared ‘chikun filet’ that was awesome!!

Next up, we finally got around to making the Pumpkin Bars that we posted on our page a few weeks ago. Y’all know that The Elf is NOT a fan of pumpkin but these looked so good and so easy to prepare, we just had to try. We were thrilled that they turned out so incredibly good…no oil at all and no sugar. The recipe is called Paleo Pumpkin Bars and though The Elf is not into the Paleo regimen, these are indeed yummy. We cut the servings a bit smaller than the recipe called for so the calorie count per bar would be more to our intake quota. Yes, The Elf counts calories religiously and tries to stay in the vicinity of 1200. Remember that The Elf is only 5’3” and has a kinda small frame, so more calories than that would result in The Elf becoming The Gnomette.

And, we made ‘that monkey bread’ recipe again to take to a dinner party this past weekend. We’ll post the link one more time since it is SO INCREDIBLY GOOD! And as we were discussing calories just a bit ago, let it be known that this dessert/bread is NOT for the calorie faint of heart. So, we make it and maybe eat ONE ‘ball’ before passing it on. Vegan food like this is known as Vegan Porn.
Here we have the nuts and bolts of preparation that we forgot the first time.  Flattened half-biscuits

Filled with Tofutti cream cheese

With some vegan chocolate chips added

Baked and un-panned

For those of you who live elsewhere (meaning OUTSIDE of MS), we’ve been in an extreme drought situation for quite some time. No burnin’ of anything with over a foot deficit in rainfall. Well, that’s come to a halt, thanks to Patricia. Today was absolutely delightful…rain, wind and relief. We wish no one harm (EVER!) from any severe weather but, boy HOWDY, did we need this! We have had winds in excess of 40 MPH as well and lost power to some downed limbs this afternoon BUT, we are back in ‘BIDNESS’.
And, as promised last week, for our first return to our Julie et Julia wannabe with Susan Voisin and FatFree Vegan Kitchen, we will be preparing a scrumptious looking  dish called Pasta Fagioli with Cranberry Beans and Kale. 
We also have some other surprises up our Elfin sleeves for next week! So stay tuned!! We’ll be on hand Saturday to support the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer as well as our terrific doc and his awesome wifey (Phillip Ley and Linda Allen Ley). Maybe even some cool pics.
Til then, breathe deep, laugh a lot, eat plants, love life and ‘DO EPIC’.
The Elf

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Legend of Sleepy Elf

Well, we most certainly APOLOGIZE for our delinquent blog-havior. Sometimes, we have so many irons in the fire we lose track of important and crucial life stuffs…this bein’ one of them. So without further ado, we’ll get on with the ‘bidness’ of bloggin’.
We had two big events this past week that took up most of our kinky Elfin cookery time. First of all, we made cookies for all the golfers and volunteers at the Putting for Paws Golf Tournament. It was held on Friday October 16 out a Whisper Lake Golf Club in Madison MS. A grand time was had by all and the Elf sponsored some holes. One for herowns-elf

and one for our most recent Rainbow Bridge girl, Stella

and the third for our two other pup-angels who remain forever in our hearts, Libby (aka Babalooie) the Maltese and Sydney Ann (aka Bitty) the Yorkie/Chihuahua.

We spent many hours baking about 16 dozen cookies to cover this event and the next one. It appeared that the golfers had a sweet tooth because the cookies went pretty quick.
Saturday, October 17, we participated (again with cookies for sale) at an annual event at a local park called WOOFSTOCK! It’s an event to focus on the misconceptions about Pit Bulls and to raise awareness of these dogs.  There were lots of great dogs all around; however, it seems that there were so many events going on that day all over; attendance was down slightly. Not only did folks miss out on some great animal interaction but also the musical talent was absolutely spectacular—well and not to mention, the cookies! The Elf and a Pit-mix named Nestle walking in the Pit Parade.

We have been able to prepare a couple of our most favorite dishes during the week, most notably, Ethiopian Cabbage or by its Ethiopian name, Atakilt Wat. We ran across this recipe on one of our favorite sites, Vegan Richa.
 This is such a good recipe for those of you who like spicy food…we’ll go through it step by step pictorially, that is. First you’ll need to cut up your cabbage.

Chop and dice some onions and a green chile.

Mince some fresh ginger.

Slice some carrots.

Cube some potatoes.

And get your ‘mis en place’ so you can commence to cookin’!

Sauté your onions, garlic and chile.

Add that wonderful Berbere spice and the ginger.

Then your vegetables.

And finally the chopped cabbage. Let it cook according to directions so you cabbage is cooked and your vegetables are crisp tender. It’s so delicious!

Today, we made a seitan ‘Prime Rib’ Roast ala The Gentle Chef. The only picture available at present is the one between the ‘roast’ coming out of the oven and about to go into a simmering broth.

We’ve made this once before and it was quite good. One of the issues from the first roast was trying to keep the simmering sauce at a slow simmer rather than a boil OR the opposite…just a really hot bath. Both do not result in optimal texture. THIS time, though, we nailed it (the simmering anyway) and the roast is now resting in the frig overnight to give the texture time to ‘ripen’ (for lack of a better word.
Last night (Monday), we prepared a new recipe from Tasty’s site called Cauliflower Fried Rice.
However we COMPLETELY forgot to take any pictures. Instead of eggs as the recipe called for, we substituted shredded extra-firm tofu seasoned with Turmeric and Kala Namak (Black Salt) for the egg coloring and flavor. And we used Delight Soy Nuggets (the BEST plant based chicken you can find in a store) instead of beef. We found the Delight Soy when we visited Jud (brother-dear) in NC a few years back and could NOT tell the difference between it and chicken. It is carried by Whole Foods in most places. Want to see if Rainbow here will start to carry it as well.
And, tonight we continue on a cauliflower kick. We are going to prepare Crispy Cauliflower Cakes. The picture that showed on Facebook yesterday required you to download some kind of toolbar before getting the recipe…not us. We just googled Crispy Cauliflower Cakes and found a vegan recipe that looks awesome, so THAT’S what we’ll try.
You know, you just never can guess what will appear in the garden once  you start throwing scraps in it…we’d shown you what we THOUGHT was a budding melon some time back. Well, here it is AGAIN! This ain’t no melon! It’s a full blown cantaloupe! And we cut it up today to taste it. It’s sweet and yummy! Who’da thought! And, there’s one more out there.
Finally, for this week…you know we had such fun with Susan Voisin and her FatFree Vegan Kitchen site a while back. We did a little ‘Julie et Julia’ wannabe and tried a recipe from her site once a week. Now that fall is here, we want to dive back in and look at some slow cooker recipes, stews and soups that will warm us from the inside out. So, this will get underway the first blog of November (which is Nov 1, by the way). That means we’ll alert you to the recipe we’ll be preparing on the October 24 blog!
And stay tuned for a possibly cool announcement on that day as well!!
Until then, Til then, as always, remember to remember to breathe deep, laugh a lot, eat plants, love life and DO EPIC.
The Elf

Sunday, October 11, 2015

One Flew Over the Elf’s Nest

Well, we have to make up for lost time as we did not present you with a blogalicious entry last week. So, we’ll do out best to entertain you today. We’ve been in kind of a cooking slump, doldrum, recession, lurch, droop and/or sag lately and the past couple of weeks are no exception. HOWSOMEVER, we have also been focused on baking stuffs to sell and raise money for our MOST FAVORITE ANIMAL SHELTER, The Animal Rescue Fund of MS (ARF/MS). So, maybe those offset each other. So let’s look back at the past week and see what and who The Elf has been lollygagging around with.

The MOST fun thing was getting this really awesome apron from my brother, Jud and his Sweetie Suzanne.
Isn’t it cool? The other cool thing in this picture is the bottle of Butter flavor EVOO from J Olive—rapidly becoming one of The Elf’s favorite stores.

  Big Solid Elf-boy has been hankerin’ for soup as the days get a bit cooler (and then a bit warmer as we EVER-SO-SLOWLY-TRANSITION-TO-FALL!) Seems like one day it’s seasonably cool and the next we are in the 90’s. Anywho, we made one of our favorite recipes from my most excellent resource buddy, Susan Voisin and her awesome site/blog FatFree Vegan Kitchen.

It’s a wonderful soup called Brussels sprouts and Shiitake Mushroom Soup.

You know, a few years back, when The Elf and BSE (Big Solid Elf-boy) were still learnin’ each other’s culinary do’s and don’ts, the phrase Brussels Sprouts was pretty much taboo—that being a ‘don’t from BSE. NO MORE…he is now a big fan and it was this soup that helped propel him into an ‘attaboy’ with his vegetable eatin’ insight. So, we first sautéed up some onions

while we roasted some Brussels sprouts

added some shiitake mushrooms along with some sliced portabellas we needed to use or lose.

Next up we simmered all this and some brown rice in a rich simmering broth (The Gentle Chef’s Porq simmering broth)
and wound up with a delightfully delicious, filling and very nutritionally sound soup.  

 We’d also seen a really yummy sounding idea for savory roasted sweet potatoes online, so we tried those out as a side dish. The Elf sliced her onions a bit too thin and they got really crispy instead of well-done BUT that actually added a bit of intensity.

There are a couple of options here…you can either check out and possibly join The Gentle Chef’s Facebook page where he gives some recipes out (this being one of them).

OR google ‘savory roasted sweet potatoes’ for lots of ideas. Just remember to be alert to ingredients that may NOT be vegan (e.g., butter) if you go the google route. And no week at The Elf’s house/kitchen is complete without at least one recipe of Chikun Shreds that we adore.

The Elf takes them to restaurants with her to add protein and substance to salads. One of our GO-TO meals, when The Elf has failed to find anything appealing or doable in 30 minutes is a Tofu Scramble and this week was no exception. Thankfully, blocks of tofu (primarily Nasoya Organic NonGMO extra firm) occupy a considerable portion of the ‘meat’ drawer of the fridge, so we always have it on hand. AND the addition of the GOTTAHAVEIT Tofu Press makes squeezin’ the water out of the tofu a breeze.

So, we just gathered up all the veggies in the fridge that needed a body to fuel, put them in a plastic Ziploc bag and drizzled some Harissa infused EVOO from J Olive over them. Then we got the skillet REALLY REALLY hot and seared them to get a nice crust, added the squished up tofu, some more spices (powdered Harissa, turmeric and a bit of black salt to give it an eggy flavor) and voila! SUPPER.

Our new elf-fort of the week was again from The Gentle Chef’s Seitan and Beyond Cookbook called Grillin’ Burgers. We have a ‘burger night’ at least once a week and have primarily depended on The Simple Truth vegan burgers you can find at Kroger. They are good, convenient and all you do is cook ‘em up. But, we’ve been wanting to try a homemade burger and this looked like a good find. It’s somewhat labor intensive but well worth it as you get 6 decent sized burgers that you can freeze in pairs for 3 weeks’ worth of ‘burger nights’. We don’t do links to Chef Skye Michael Conroy’s recipes or copy them as they are proprietary. He has been gracious to give us permission from time to time to post (i.e., Bacun 5/10/15 blog) but we’d never post without his consent. As you can see, the burger LOOKS like a burger and tastes really good. The Elf will need to work on her technique to get a bit softer consistency but that just means we get to try them again and eat them likewise.

Last night, we had our first Vestal Vegan night in a long time and this time it was an expanded version. Our little group of 4 gals who have had a blast cooking vegan stuffs decided it was time to expand, so we did. And it was SO much fun. Pictured is Seitan ala Teronja from The Elf,
Savory Sweet Potato Balls from Misty, a marvelous pesto dip from Laura, Chocolate/Cream Cheese Monkey Bread from TE.

Not pictured, primarily because it was gone before the camera had a chance to capture it, was Gigi’s Guacamole (Holy Mouthgasms!). The evening was so fun but bittersweet as Gigi Carter (founding member and vegan supreme) and her husband, Kevin, are moving later on in the year. We are figuring out how to have ONE MORE VEGAN night before they get away. Here are Gigi (left) and Misty.

And, GOSH…that’s it! Glad to get caught up on the kinky Elfery cookery. As October winds its way toward Halloween, Annie wishes to remind everyone that it IS Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Awareness covers so much territory…but in the mind of The Elf, prevention is a key. Prevention being many things—such as, doing your homework understanding that a plant-based diet is a huge factor in the prevention of cancers; self-examination to detect any abnormality early; yearly mammograms; and limiting alcohol intake to name a few. It was early detection that probably saved The Elf from a world of hurt. And, recognizing also that sometimes no matter what we do, cancer happens..then awareness goes in a multitude of directions. There are resources galore out there and again, do your homework to choose the best resource for you.

And as always, until next time, remember to breathe deep, laugh a lot, eat plants, love life, and (a new one) DO EPIC!