Sunday, September 25, 2016

To Every Elf There Is A Season

What a week it has been! We’ve been not only busy bakin’ E.P.I.C. cookies for the Crossroads Café, but also WORKING at the café until some replacement staff can be found. AND, we will continue this week as well. The Elf has enjoyed her time working as the café is a great place. Not only is the food awesome but the staff/customers are also.
We perused many of Susan’s recipes this week from her awesome FatFree Vegan Kitchen site before finally settling on one.
We’ve been in the mood for a burger, complete with bun. We typically go the Boca or Simple Truth route but this time we opted to go from scratch. This recipe hit home with our thinking, so we gave it a go…Savory Lentil-Mushroom Burger.
Heck, the description alone was worth the elf-fort! And we had all of the ingredients on hand!! Always a plus. AND, it’s really easy, comes together quickly (patty wise) and then firms up when baked. That was another plus…no frying and worrying about them falling apart in the pan. So, limited pictures but they were quite tasty. As a matter of fact, your Elf enjoyed a second one as a bedtime snack without the bun! We cooked the lentils (al dente so they wouldn’t be all mushy) and as always with lentils, we cook more than we need because we can always eat this with rice as a nice lunch meal. We chopped the onions and then added our quartered ‘shrooms to the food processor for a finer chop. We cookies our onions oil they began to brown and then added the finely chopped mushrooms and garlic. We sautéed according to directions until they were soft. We confess that we always keep a jar of minced garlic in the fridge so that was easy!
When the softness was JUST RIGHT, we removed from the heat and placed back in our Cuisinart along with the lentils. The recipe also calls for a chia seed/water mixture that is allowed to sit for a bit and become gelatinous, kinda like an egg. That was also added to the lentil/mushroom mix along with some good ole ‘old fashioned oats’ to bring the mixture to a soft but firm consistency. The other seasonings were also added during the processing/pulsing. We added one seasoning, a half-teaspoon of Hickory Flavored Liquid Smoke to give it just a bit of smokiness. All this came together quite nicely and was allowed to sit for about 15 minutes to absorb flavors and ‘gel’ a bit before being forming into patties. This is where a lot of lentil/oat burgers are problematic as they either tend to be too soft or too dry (mostly the former) and do not hold their shape well. HOWSOMEVER, after the time to ‘substance up’, forming the patties was a breeze. Our oven was pre-heated to 375º, so it was ready. And in they went for about 35 minutes. We let them cook a bit longer because when we poked them a bit at 30 minutes, we just sensed they needed a bit longer. Worked out GREAT! Here’s what they looked like fresh from the oven.
All that was left to do was to pile on a bun with some lettuce and condiments (we COMPLETELY forgot to do the chipotle mayo!!) and chowed down. They were absolutely delicious and we highly recommend!
Now, for the coming week, your Elf has a LOT on her plate (pardon the pun)…yet, we anticipate a slight break in the heat of summer that has seemed to have an iron grip on Mississippi!! With that break, meaning instead of highs in the mid-90’s, we anticipate the low 80’s with lows in the low 60’s!! That’s tantamount to WINTER temps nearly! So, there will be fall in the air and when it turns cool, we always think SOUP!! Our selection for the coming week will be Susan’s marvelous Mushroom-Barley Soup with Cannelloni Beans and Cabbage.

One other ‘news item’ that we are tickled about. Big Solid, aka as Poppy Elf, has made the move to being vegan. We are so excited for him and the impact this will make on his health and well-being. He’s in good health at 73 but would like to lose a little weight and see if he can get off the cholesterol and blood pressure medications he’s been on for years. That would INDEED be terrific!! He’s already been on the verge for a while, since he eats vegan at home BUT reading John McDougall’s book The Starch Solution has really resonated with him. Coupled with his increased understanding of the plight of animals in factory farms, circuses, zoos and water tanks, he said “I’m in”! YAY! NOW! This will add some extra fun to FRIDAY and SATURDAY nights since those are nights we typically dine out--like this past Friday.
We are going to explore more options in our area where we can find and/or bring some vegan options with us. Case in point…last night (Saturday), we decided on Mexican. We found a restaurant that had good ratings AND a relatively quiet ambiance, Mexicali Taqueria Grill.

We absolutely detest a restaurant where you cannot have a conversation due to the noise level. Your Elf even went by the
Mexikali Taqueria Grill earlier in the day to grab a menu and ask the management if we could bring our own vegan cheese and sour cream (cashew cream from Oh She Glows!) They were more than happy to oblige, so we had a lovely meal of vegetable fajitas with our own cheese/sour cream. We will indeed add them to our restaurant rotation. We are also doing to explore other ethnic options such as Thai, Indian, Japanese, and Greek rather than feel confined. So, you can follow our dining adventures outside the Kinky Ellery Kitchen as well as in!!

We have a special week coming up and you’ll hear all about it next Sunday!! Can’t wait to share it with you. Until then, y’all remember to eat plants, laugh out loud, be kind and DO EPIC. 

OH!! We almost forgot…The Elf in the Kitchen’s blog is now on Tumblr. We aren't sure what we are doing yet, but it’s a start.

Your Elf

Sunday, September 18, 2016

"Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give an Elf"

Well, it’s been quite a week in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen! We’ve been extra busy with helpin’ out at the Crossroads Café in addition to bakin’ cookies for said café. Restaurant work is hard, especially in a popular eatery and the pace can get quite fast. Staffing shortages certainly add to the level of intensity, so the Elf was only too happy to respond to a need. Also this coming week as well, so time in the KEK will be limited. We are kinda behind in preparing some of our own staples such as the plant-based Chikun Shreds, Sausages and various hummuses (or is the plural hummi) that we keep on hand almost all the time. AND cookie bakin’!

For our Fat Free Vegan Kitchen recipe this week, we prepared the Vegan Scalloped Potatoes with Chickpea Cheese Sauce.
This is SUCH an easy recipe to prepare and the results are so lovely to taste. Since we were sorta pressed for time, we took the recipe and added plant-based meat crumbles to it for a complete meal (kinda casseroley).
We are always a bit on the uneasy side when we tinker with Susan’s awesome recipes but the crumbles added just the right amount of substance that, with a nice salad, provided a lovely supper. After attending the Plant-Based Immersion day a few weeks back, we are even more conscious of limiting how much fat we eat…another SPECTACULAR reason to follow so many of Susan’s recipes. So, for the newly initiated Elfsters, here are the links to Susan’s Facebook page as well as to her terrific blog. Susan’s blog and site have been recognized by Kaiser Parmenente as a resource for folks who’ve been given medical guidance to limit their intake of fats. 

We’ve also been playing with the recipes from the Isa Does It Cookbook; one night we had the Korean BBQ Portobello Mushrooms and paired those with the Roasted Yellow Beet Salad with Warm Maple Mustard Dressing. The mushroom caps marinated in a lovely sweet/sour and delicious concoction (we always marinate longer than suggested; don’t know why, perhaps our rebellious Elfin nature) and then pan seared.

Big Solid is not a big fan of KimChi so we omitted that in favor of the salad. We also don’t eat a lot of bread, so we served our portobellos over one slice of whole wheat bread. The salad was to DIE for!! We LOVE beets in any way shape, form or fashion. These were baked, then sliced while warm and topped with toasted pecan pieces

and the WARM MAPLE MUSTARD DRESSING that your Elf could ALMOST use as a Sundae topping (not really, but that’s how good it is)!
Here are links to these recipes which all contain attribution to the Isa Does It cookbook. We highly recommend this book and we are just getting started on trying some of the recipes.

AND, again as a reminder of how much fun the Plant-Based Immersion Day was, we decided on evening to prepare the Lentil Oat Loaf that we enjoyed for lunch that fun day. It’s from the Engine Two eating regimen.
In keeping with following some of Dr. John McDougall’s advice about eating starches more often, we ‘fixed’ garlic smashed potatoes
and sautéed a passel of kale.
And let this lovely loaf sit in the pan fresh from the oven for a bit before we sliced it. We also had great sandwiches from it all week!!
This week will be another busy week of ‘heppin’ out at the Crossroads Café; we’ve kinda gotten the hang of how to make a wrap that doesn’t squirt the food out of each end because we didn’t close it up good! In fact, we now even VOLUNTEER to do the wraps; the one exception is gluten free wraps…those have a tendency to disintegrate before you can say ‘it’s a wrap’, so we are on the lookout for a more substantive gluten free wrap.
Tomorrow, your Elf is meeting with Mitchell Moore, owner and pastry chef supremo at Campbell’s Bakery (now in two locations! in Jackson and Madison MS). Mitchell has recently embraced a plant-based eating regimen and is coming up with all sorts of good ideas. Anywho, we are going to talk with Mitchell about something special for the Elf’s 70th birthday with is coming up pretty damn soon! HOLY HELLO! Will keep you posted on that. And speakin’ of birthdays, Big Solid’s birthday is Tuesday so we’ll figure out some kind of Kinky Elfery celebration for him!!

We leave you with one final picture to show you that GREEN SMOOTHIES from the Crossroads Café make little Princesses happy. When you start them young on a healthy lifestyle, you have half the battle won!
Until next week, y’all be kind, eat plants, laugh a lot, and DO EPIC!
Your Elf

Sunday, September 11, 2016

To Thine Own Elf Be True

WHOA! Do we have some stuffs to catch up on!! LOTS to share and some fun things as well. So, come on in…This will be a blog of Elf-ic proportions!
First, we were finally able to make our FFVK (FatFree Vegan Kitchen) recipe when we returned from a wonderful visit in North Carolina. We selected the Fettuccine No-Fredo with Broccoli and Sautéed Mushrooms.
Knowin’ how Big Solid is not a big pasta eater (more about the later), we decided to offset the additional pasta calories by using zucchini noodles as an option.

So we had some fettuccine prepared as well as some zucchini noodles.
We used the suggested hand-held blender to cream the cauliflower mixture into the ‘no-fredo’ sauce. Aside from having a substantial portion of the sauce on The Elf’s shirt, it worked fine.
And, being HUGE fans of portabello mushrooms, we doubled the amount of sliced caps.
The end result received mixed reviews but it’s a recipe we will try again.
We were behind in our kinky elfery cookin’ so didn’t TAKE the time to taste/season the ’no-fredo’, so the next time,we will kick it up en elf or two. As for the week ahead, we know not what we will select yet.
As for Big Solid's issue with pasta, his main concern is the calorie density of pasta. So, we are working on ways to offer pasta dishes with vegetable pastas such as spaghetti squash and spiralized noodles. BUT, you still have to have the real thing from time to time! 
As we left you a couple of Sundays ago, we promised to share our Four Veganamigo fare, and what fun we had! Misty got us started off with some spectacular Jalapeño Poppers that were not only pretty fiery but also delicious.

It seems the plate was empty within 15 minutes of her arrival. Note the nearly empty plate below with Misty (left) and Gigi, hostess with the mostess (right).
Gigi prepared a Penné Pasta Alfredo (which of course was the impetus for the FFVK meal this week) and it was yummy.
Leslie did up a fantastic salad with an avocado dressing that was to die for (and not from)
and your Elf brought Red Beans and Rice with Vegan Andouille Sausage.
Here's the whole spread! And man, was it GOOD!!
For dessert, we had the E.P.I.C. Gluten Free Elfin Decadence with non-dairy ice cream and date caramel sauce which we made into Sundaes or Cookie and Cream 'Sammiches'. Remember E.P.I.C. stands for Eating Plant-based Is Cool.
And no Gathering is complete without a group photo or two!! First, with Gigi, Kevin (Gigi's hubs), Leslie and Misty.
And then, the VEGANAMIGOS themselves! Lest to right, Leslie, Misty, The Elf and Gigi.

Your Elf left Mississippi on Thursday, September 1 headed for Raleigh, NC to visit her brother, Jud, and his sweetheart, Suzanne. The primary purpose of the visit was to attend a long-running (since 1995) progressive rock music festival called ProgDay. It had been several years since we’d been…like maybe 10 but who’s counting. Anywho, one of the bands appearing is a band we particularly love, Discipline from Michigan (Grand Rapids, we think). When we found out they were making a return visit to ProgDay after an absence of several years, we had to go. Of course, who should pop up that week but HERMINE!! Thankfully, our flights were ahead of her; Friday was a complete washout with predictions of 5+” of rain and tropical storm force winds. And, of course, this is an outdoor festival. As it turned out, the rain/wind moved out early and Saturday (the first day of the festival) dawned to cloudy skies and cool temps. The pending decision to move to an indoor back up venue was tossed and the show went on!!
But, we digress. Thursday after being picked at the airport, we, meaning ALL THREE OF US, got treated to ‘fairy hair’…little teeny ribbons of various colors that are all sparkly. 

Following that adventure, we were starving so headed to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant Jud and Suzanne found called The Fiction Kitchen.

It was late, the restaurant was very busy and lots of talking going on, so we decided on take-out. Well, The Elf is here to tell you that this food is AWESOME!! AND, almost all items can be made vegan as well as gluten free. We were in VEGAN eating heaven and it was hard to decide WHAT to get. We finally decided on the Cornmeal-Fried Local Mushrooms,
the Butterhead Lettuce Wraps,
and the Tinga Tacos.
So, take it from The Elf, if you are in the Raleigh NC area and want a great vegan or vegetarian meal, or hell, just a great meal in general, BY ALL MEANS, try THE FICTION KITCHEN!!
or go to their Facebook page

And, we were able to stop at a local grocery store the next day for a wonderful salad to offset the totally non-vegan food opportunities at ProgDay! 
We leave this topic with a few shots of the festivities that exemplify ProgDay…music that is not everyone’s taste, even less so women. But, here you go. The three folks and an Elf. Left to right, Jud, Suzanne, TE and Dave. Dave has been Jud’s BFF for years and we have had many a fun time at music festivals.

TE with the founder of ProgDay, Peter Renfro
and TE with the brilliant musician and front man for Discipline, Matthew Parameter (and, yes, he is in mime stuffs). 
OK—thanks for allowing your Elf to share…now on to more food stuffs. We have a couple of new cookbooks and spent the last couple of days preparing a grocery list of things to purchase so we could make some of these wonderful recipes come to life. Unfortunately, it TOOK THREE HOURS to go to FOUR GROCERY STORES in order to find all these ingredients BUT WHAT THE HEY…it’s vegan stuffs, so it’s got to be Elf worthy. Yesterday we prepared two recipes from Isa Does It

and, OH MAN, we hit the mouthgasm jackpot. First was a Kale and Butternut Squash Salad with Lentils. Oh Lord…it’s a bit labor intensive but so good. We short-cutted a bit by purchasing the Butternut Squash already diced because those things can be a b*tch to cut up. It also takes a bit of time to wash and remove the kale from the thick ole stems, then tear into bite sized pieces. Here’s where we took a bit of a deviation…the salad calls for raw kale, which the caveat of really ‘massaging’ the raw kale quite a bit to soften it up. Well, we did that BUT, it still didn’t seem relaxed enough. So, we steamed it about a minute before building the rest of the salad and that did the relaxin’ trick. The end product was simply delicious with a dressing that is outstanding!
Next up was a Wild Rice Soup with sautéed Seitan slices. Fortunately, we had homemade seitan available in the freezer, so didn’t have to make any (however, NOW, we do). We got our ‘mis en place’ with all the ingredients and vegetables sliced. It didn’t take long to put the soup together after that.

The end result, paired with the Kale/Butternut Squash/Lentil Salad was nothing short of wonderful. AND, we have plenty to sustain us for a few more days!!
And we can’t wait to try more recipes now from this awesome book!!

And so, another week (well, two actually) is in the bloggery archives and we are already looking forward to another week of preparing delicious vegan meals. Some old favorites, a FatFree Vegan Kitchen selection and some new stuffs as well. Until then, you know the drill…
Live every day with joy, love a lot, laugh out loud, make someone smile, eat plants and not animals, be kind and DO EPIC.

Your Elf remembers this day in 2001, seared forever in our memory, our soul and our heart. NEVER FORGET.