Sunday, July 3, 2016

If You Can’t Stand the Elf, Get Out of the Kitchen

Celebrating our Great Country this weekend!! We are so lucky to live where we do…sure we have some issues but we also have the freedom to deal with them rather than be stifled. So, with that in mind, we’ll keep this little blog short and you have a day to celebrate and partying to do!! Plus, your Elf has a TON of cookin’ to do for a party tomorrow herownself! More about that later!! This past week, our FatFree Vegan Kitchen Elfy winning recipe was Spinach and Artichoke Pie.
We loved it the first time out even though we damn near came to blows with the phyllo dough. Gosh, we may have gone through about 40 sheets in order to get what was needed. This time, we did a bit of research on the how to of phyllo and did much better. We’ll ‘splain as we go. First, as we have learned many times the hard way, we got our ‘mis en place’ with all our ingredients…which is where we learned we were considerably short on the amount of spinach the recipe called for, dagnabbit.

YEP—the recipe calls for 9-12 oz of baby spinach and we had 5. SOOO, we realized we did have some fresh kale in the frig, so we whipped it out, cleaned it, dried it and tore it up to match the baby spinach. We had half of a rather large red onion that needed to be used, so we used that instead of the medium onion but hey, we are loathe to waste. We sautéed the onion and garlic;

Added the spinach/kale mixture and let that cook down, with a little extra time for the kale.
We had already mashed up our tofu and added the seasonings and
kalamata olives (and we cheated and pretty much doubled the olive amount), so all that was ready when the spinach mixture was done.
The final mixture with the spinach, artichokes, olives and tofu looked so inviting, we almost wanted to eat it on the spot.The oven was preheated and we were ready to start putting this baby together. As Susan mentions in the early discussion of the recipe AND our online phyllo dough research validated, it’s best to have all your stuff ready to go BEFORE you unwrap the dough that has thawed. Oh, and we also learned that it’s best to thaw the dough in the refrigerator (like overnight) than at room temperature. Phyllo dough is so delicate (as you well know) that the least little change can affect it. Thawing at room temperature has a tendency to make the dough more sticky and THAT is something you DO NOT WANT. And, from that first disastrous effort with the dough, we learned NOT to cover it directly with a damp towel…but to layer waxed paper or plastic wrap over it before the damp (and we mean BARELY damp) towel. The first time, we just put a damp towel over the dough and when we lifted the towel, about half the dough came with it. Yes, there were a few expletives. We were so focused on getting the dough right, we did not take time to photograph this part of the recipe but TRUST YOUR ELF, it worked great! Here’s what the first layer looked like.
We threw it in the oven and set the timer. The final product looked so yummy! As you can see, we cheated again on the portion size, coming in with 8 portions instead of Susan’s suggested 9-12.
Y’all, this ranks up there with the best of the best. Even Big Solid said he loved it which is high praise indeed! In fact, we are heading for a great Fourth of July party tomorrow (pictures next week) and taking two of these babies for some of our vegan options. So, that leaves us with just a few Elfy winners remaining to prepare. This week’s elf-fort will be the French Lentil and Portobello Stew.

We realize that stew and summer do not necessarily mix, but we loved this when we made it before and sometimes, just a bowl of nice hearty soup/stew and maybe a corn stick or two is all you need for supper.
Last week, we talked a bit about fresh produce and the wonderful smoothies that one can concoct. Well, this past week, we were working on perfecting a recipe for gluten free double chocolate chip cookies as so many customers at the Crossroads Café have requested a gluten free cookie option. The first batch was tasty but not the consistency we were pleased with, so we put them in a ziplock bag to nibble on. And THEN, one evening, it hit us like a thunderbolt! So, we threw some cashew milk in the VitaMix, added about 3 cookies, some ice cubes and some Amaretto.
So now, we are out of cookies…damn. BTW, here is your Elf at the display window of the new cookies.
We hope folks like them.

As this week’s blog winds down, we have a little final story. As we were shopping at Kroger the other day, we had the need to ask one of the staff folks for some help finding something. We were in the organic, healthy food part. The young man was very helpful and he noticed our embroidered hat (The Elf in the Kitchen). He asked what that was and that started a nice conversation about being vegan. He initiated it by saying he was trying to eat mostly vegetables and stay away from red meat. He got a card
and hopefully will become one of the Elfinistes. It always excites us to be able to encourage folks to move to plant-based eating. And you know what, the very same thing happened the other day at Sam’s…as we walked in the store past the card ID point, we heard a gentleman say, quizzically, “The Elf in the Kitchen?” We stopped and engaged in a bit of conversation/card swap. You just never know whose life might be changed by a chance encounter.

So, y’all have a great holiday weekend, celebrate the country that allows us to do so much and have so much. Laugh every day, eat plants, practice random acts of kindness and DO EPIC.

Your Elf


  1. I was in Crossroads Café and had one of their cookies. I thought it might have been one of yours, but I don't know. It was (I think) oatmeal almond or something. (I didn't buy it, just tasted).