Sunday, November 8, 2015

An Elf for All Seasons

Sweet Baby Jesus in the Manger, what a week it has been!!
Not only did we dive back into our ‘Julie et Julia’ connection with Susan Voisin’s awesome FatFree Vegan Kitchen  
 but also took a trip to Memphis for a non-Elf related venture of sellin’ our Janne’s Designs Jewelry at a local craft show…our 4th year to do so. Howseomever, the trip and our ever present quest for good vegan food found us a WONDERFUL new source of vegan food when in Memphis. And ladies and germs, not ONLY is the food totally vegan it is also RAW!! But FIRST, let’s get all up in our FFVK recipe of the week, Pasta Fagioli with Cranberry Beans and Kale.
As we FINALLY see come cool weather filter into our area, our thoughts turn to things like warming soups, stews and chili. So, this lovely soup seemed like a nice way to start things off. We were able to find the Cranberry beans at Kroger without difficulty, the organic kale was on sale (YAY), so we were set. We do not have a pressure cooker so used the regular method to cook the beans. We like this recipe SO much that we shared it with our ARF ‘parents’, came home and made a second batch. Working with dried beans does require some time, so if you are going to make this recipe, please realize that these beans do need a fair amount of time to cook PRIOR to putting them into the soup! This recipe also appears to have a fair number of ingredients (14 in all), but when you start getting your ‘mis en place’, well, en place…it’s not difficult at all. Most vegan kitchens are pretty well stocked with a variety of seasonings, herbs, spices and stuffs like that and you’ll most likely find that you have everything but the fresh ingredients. We at the kinky Elfery kitchen are not terribly fond of rosemary so we opted to leave that out. For us, it worked but if you are a rosemary’s baby (couldn’t resist), have at it. Once we got our ‘mis en place’, the rest fell together easily and without a pause (well, ‘ceptin’ cookin’ the beans). Here you have just about everything that is needed (excluding the beans which were already cooking). You’ll see, from left to right, paprika (we used hot smoked paprika), celery, oregano, diced fire roasted tomatoes (no added salt for us), red pepper flakes, dried basil, washed and chopped organic kale, chopped onion (in that bowl on top of the kale) and the pasta. We used small shells. The garlic and nutritional yeast were on the other counter, an Elfin misplacement so no photo.

Like we said, this was SO good; we made a second batch THE NEXT DAY!! In fact, this soup made a trip to Memphis to take to the craft show as we KNEW there would be no vegan options there as well as to leave some with our hostess, Wilma Davis. And The Elf had a bowl of it when she got home about two hours ago!

Our next recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen which we’ll prepare during the coming week,
will be Curried Split Pea Soup with Cauliflower. We have gone cauliflower crazy here, so why not?
Our good friend and professional decorator par excellence, Teri Roddy, posted a picture on Facebook a bit ago of one of her favorite meals—Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew) with Brazilian Greens served over rice. It looked so good and Brazilian cuisine is so tasty, we decided to try to veganize it. She willingly shared her recipe and we were all over it UNTIL we read it more closely to see things like HAM HOCKS, BACON and HAM. Oh goodness, thought The Elf…what are we to do. Teri suggested that we utilize some good smoked salt and THEN The Elf remembered that The Gentle Chef has a recipe for a HAM in his new Seitan and Beyond cookbook!! Coupled with his Brown Sugar Bacun recipe, our elf-forts were renewed. We made the Ham (and yes, there’s a story here) and it turned out beyond our expectations. We HAD the Bacun on hand and a nice hickory seasoned smoke salt from a great spice store in Asheville NC. We found some lovely collard greens at Kroger, had the other ingredients so we were set. The hardest part of this recipe, for The Elf anyway, was getting the greens all ready..washing, de-stemming and preparing the chiffonade. We felt like we were rolling cigars! But in the end, it was worth it.

Since Big Solid absolutely CANNOT eat Black Beans, we utilized small red beans (not kidney beans) which was just fine. Of course, the beans had to be pre-cooked for about 2 hours before actually using in the stew. We also cut the ‘ham’ into chunks reminiscent of ham hocks, diced the bacun and roasted like the recipe called for and got the bean mixture going.

Next we sautéed the greens with a paste from minced garlic and let them cook for a bit. Big Solid was not happy with the texture of the greens, saying they were tough but that’s because they didn’t cook all day. The Elf LOVED them.

Then, we turned the pantry UPSIDE down looking for the brown rice…to no avail, BUT we did find couscous which worked just fine. Here’s the final product and it was delicious!
Thanks Teri!!
And last BUT NOT LEAST was our visit to Memphis this weekend for the Holly Shoppe craft show. We plied our earring/jewelry wares for the 4th year there and, as always, had a great show with good friends. We had two MAJOR discoveries…first, as mentioned at the onset of this blog, was Raw Girls Food Truck.

We just took a chance and bought three items that sounded really good. All their dishes are RAW which sometimes sets people aback…but let me tell you somethin’. THIS FOOD WAS INCREDIBLE!! We had a Black Bean Thai pasta for our lunch at the craft show but enough left over to bring home to Big Solid who said, THIS IS DELICIOUS!

Then we got their Taco Salad which we haven’t tried yet but it looks wonderful 

and lastly, as we posted on Facebook, the Meyer Lemon Tart with Almond crust. Holy Mother of all that’s Tartful…Wilma and I both had serious mouthgasms with this dish.
So, The Elf is on the hunt for folks who are interested in a field trip to Memphis soon to load up.
  THEN, we made a new friend at the show whose father-in-law has Dino’s Grill. Quite possibly one of the best family owned and operated Italian restaurants in the Memphis area, their recipes are old generation, handmade the old way and served quickly.

We called ahead to check on vegan options which turned out to be an Italian Salad. Worked for The Elf

Wilma had the ravioli which she said was the best she’d had along with her Mother’s old recipe. So, if you are or aren’t vegan and find yourself in Memphis…give BOTH of these a try. You will NOT be sorry!
So, there you go.
Til then, breathe deep, laugh a lot, eat plants, love life and ‘DO EPIC’.
The Elf

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