Sunday, November 15, 2015

It’s Been a Hard Elf’s Night

Well, y’all, The Elf has just about exhausted movie themed titles for this little blog, so we’re movin’ into song titles. Surely the Beatles will keep us occupied with blog titles for a while. So, as a transition, we have BOTH a movie title and song title. As a child of the ‘60’s, The Beatles were IT. Still are for me. Gosh, we remember sitting in our little bedroom in TN with stars painted on a navy blue ceiling, listening to Dick Biondi from WLS in Chicago wondering who on EARTH were The Beatles.
This will be an abbreviated blog as we had a serious case of Kinky Elfery Cookery interruptus this week which has required a great deal of unElfinesque energy and focus. However, we WERE able to make and consume the FatFree Vegan Kitchen recipe of the week…Curried Split Pea and Cauliflower soup. And MY OH MY, were we glad! Not only is it an outstanding soup (if you like curry), it has sustained us all week at lunch. The recipe instructions are for folks who have a pressure cooker, which we do not. We wrote to Susan Voisin (the genius person who IS FatFree Vegan Kitchen and has her own Facebook page in addition to FFVK) to see how to prepare the non-pressure cooker way. No big deal..since split peas do not require a long cooking time anyway, all we needed to do was cook them the old-fashioned way. So, armed with all the knowledge we needed, we plowed ahead. While FFVK is very very careful about the use of fat in their recipes (hence the name), we at the Kinky Elfery Kitchen are apt to use olive oil sparingly from time to time. And when we sauté, we use peanut oil so we can get to a higher temperature…again, sparingly. As you can see by our ‘mis en place’ we got all our ingredients together.

This is become such a fun elf-fort, we are making it a habit. It will save The Elf a lot of grief…it already has.  We did use about ½ tsp of peanut oil to sauté the cumin, black mustard and fennel seeds before adding the ginger, garlic and onions. We then added the carrots, split peas, hot water (for the non-pressure cooker version, we used the full 8 cups of water the split pea package called for) and curry powder. If you’ve followed this little blog for a while, you KNOW that The Elf and Big Solid LOVE extra spicy food…so we used a combination of curry powders, Hot Madras Curry and a Maharaja Curry.  And again, differing slightly from Susan, we used green split peas. After simmering for about 45 minutes, we added the cauliflower and let that get crisp tender. Here you have the soup shortly after the cauliflower was added. The colors are lovely and the texture of the soup is nice and thick.

We served it with whole wheat toast that had been drizzled with ½ teaspoon (1/4 tsp per slice) of Butter-infused olive oil from J. Olive. We verified with J. Olive staff that it was indeed vegan before purchasing and, oh boy, is it good!!

So, mission accomplished and successful. In keeping with our tastes leaning toward the extra spicy, every time we would ‘fix’ a bowl for lunch (which was nearly every day), we’d add a different spice to see what it did to add some ‘heat’. We added Harissa which is a North African hot chili pepper paste (we have a powder version), the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, or caraway. We added about ½ teaspoon to our serving and it was delicious!! Very spicy and flavorful.

And the next day, we tried one of our most favorite spices, Berbere. It’s premier spice of Ethiopian cuisine and consists typically of chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella (black sesame seeds), and fenugreek. We are NEVER far away from a bottle of Berbere. Again, we added about ½ teaspoon to our serving and, while it was very good, we think we preferred the Harissa. The Berbere was almost too much of a good thing…guess we could reduce the amount but it wasn’t just that…it was the flavor of the Harissa that was better this time.

Finally, we just busted out the Cayenne to see how hot we could make it and still swallow. Took about ¾ teaspoon and that was just fine. 

For next week’s FFVK rendering, we will pick something that Big Solid does not particularly care for since he will be out of town and The Elf will be pretty home-bound (see below). This was a no-brainer. Big Solid is not a fan of eggplant and The Elf LOVES it. So we are going for the Vegan Eggplant Parmesan – Soy Free. We have all but two of the ingredients (eggplant and oil-free spaghetti sauce), so a big shopping experience is not necessary. YAY!
Next Sunday is our Vestal Vegan gathering at Gigi’s. Last month, we thought it would be our swan-song to Gigi and Kevin Carter as they will be moving to Dallas. Well, it turns out they will not be leaving until after the holidays, so we have one more NIGHT!! Now, The Elf has to figure out what to prepare…kinda got a couple of things spinning around in the old Elf brain. Stay tuned!!
Well, then things went to hell in a hand-basket, so to speak. Y’all have been aware of our elf-forts with Marley the Wayward Poodle and his behaviors. He’s made such magnificent progress, especially after we’d identified pain as one of his major issues. With the knee surgery behind us, all the swimming rehab that helped him recover so nicely, we have been training and working with him daily. He responds so well to positive stuffs and wants so much to be a good boy. Well, this Tuesday he suffered a broken leg; he will need further surgery at MS State Veterinary School where we will take him tomorrow. He’s been in a splint and being treated with antibiotics and pain medication as his treatment options  have been determined. Bless his heart…and of course, his behaviors have escalated because he’s in pain. We are practicing all the techniques that we’ve been taught to keep him accountable. In any event, he’s got a long road to recovery so once again, we’ve set up our little hospital ‘room’ in the living room to keep him inactive. Keep this boy in your heart and thoughts. He so deserves to be happy and healthy. Marley outside his ‘room’ and trying to get comfortable.

And there  you have it…not much in the way of an abundance of dishes but the ONE we did was wonderful. So, until next week, breathe deep, laugh a lot, eat plants, love life and ‘DO EPIC’.
The Elf


  1. The soup sounds wonderful. There are so many variations of split pea soup and I haven't yet found one I don't like.
    Loved your reference to Dick Biondi at WLS. My sisters and I were faithful listeners. We loved his show. Thanks for the memories!

    Jo in Savannah, GA (formerly Hattiesburg)

  2. Thanks for your comment!! What was that song Biondi used to sing? On Top of a Pizza? Or something like that. Anyway, appreciate your support!!