Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Taming of the Elf

Last Sunday when we published our little Blogeriness, it was SO COLD and ICY and just plain AWFUL. This Sunday, the total reverse. Warm, nice, pleasant—not an icicle or snowflake or ice pellet to be found. And we are certainly happier for it. Even the Ant Highway is open for business while the weather holds. So, let’s get on with the Elf Stuffs for today!

Big Solid and your Elf LOVE LOVE LOVE Indian food (and Thai and Japanese and Ethiopian to name a few). So, this week we selected Susan Voisin/FFVK’s Vindaloo Vegetables.
You know, we’ve been very tempted to select this several times but got a bit intimidated with the long list of ingredients. Well, forget that! WE happened to have on hand MOST of the vegetable ingredients as well as the spices needed (which accounts for most of that long list) to make the Vindaloo. So, it was just a matter of makin’ up our Elfin mind to “git ‘er done”. Now we know that last week, we said that Big Solid liked simple meals without a lot of fuss and bangin’ around in the kitchen, messin’ up EVERY DISH and PAN there is to be found. Well, that really only applies to non-Indian recipes. When it comes to Indian cuisine, a complex recipe and the resulting plethora of used bowls, spoons, measuring stuffs, pans, and equipment is quite all right. Now we have a bit of a confession to make. In our spice drawer rests a bottle of Vindaloo curry spice from Whole Foods. See?
 Well, we looked at the recipe ingredients and instructions and we looked at the ONE BOTTLE of Vindaloo….more than once. Then, we shoved the ONE BOTTLE back in the spice drawer with grit and determination to ‘DO IT SUSAN’S WAY!’ and that’s just what we did. So, we got our ‘mise en place’, well mostly. So, here’s what you see starting at the top left. A green pepper, onion, tomato paste dry mustard,white wine vinegar, cayenne, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground cardamom, cauliflower, frozen peas, zucchini, Elephant garlic, carrots, a pitted Medjool date and fresh ginger.
 The majority of those ingredients were actually used to make a thick-ish liquid vindaloo base…namely the dry mustard, cayenne, coriander, cardamom, turmeric and then the white wine vinegar. After we blended the vindaloo sauce/paste, we set it aside and began cooking in earnest…sautéed the onions and carrots
   added the cauliflower and kidney beans
 then added the vindaloo sauce (to which tomato paste and water had been added) and let that cook for a bit. The other vegetables were added at intervals of about 5 minutes until it was all said and done.
 One thing we were worried about was making sure that our vegetable cooking time did not over do and our veggies be a pile of mushiness. Well, it worked beautifully!! The veggies were all crisp but cooked and the flavors were just OUTSTANDING!! We did cook up some Gentle Chef 'chickun' tenders which we added as a side as well as some MS Blue Brown Basmati Rice.
 Y’all, this is one of our favorites now!! It just goes to show you that, even though you can buy a lot of seasonings, sometimes it just pays to make it from scratch!! In fact, we’ve eaten on this all week. THIS IS A KEEPER!!

We have two recipes in the Elfin mind for next week but not sure which will be ‘fixed’. Both look really good, so it’s just a matter of what good produce is available! No matter, either will be supper worthy!
Our Sunday Night Taco Night was a repeat of an older filling…a combination of Simple Truth Crumbles and shredded tofu that had been pressed very dry. Nothing new but very good…nothing went wasted, let’s put it that way! Tonight will be a repeat of the Chicken Tacos made from The Gentle Chef’s plant-based ‘chicken’. For those of you who enjoy meat analogues, you cannot beat his Seitan and Beyond cookbook.

And, for those of you who were interested in the Brussels Sprouts/Sweet Potato Bake/Hash, here’s the link to the recipe on The Food Charlatan’s site. 
This is SO GOOD, we can hardly stand it. Even if you don’t THINK you like Brussels Sprouts, you gotta try this one. It’s delicious.  Here's what ours looked like ready to bake.
We adjusted the recipe to reduce the amount of oil used. If you want to go oil/fat free, you could probably get away with a brief spray of Coconut Oil Pam (or nothing) to see if that works out OK. She does include instructions at the end of the recipe on how to store/reheat the dish which includes omitting the red wine vinegar until you are ready to reheat.
From our Farm Pack this past week, we cooked up some great collard greens with mushrooms

 and a whole lot of beets. We were kinda wonderin’ how to ‘spruce up’ the beets a bit, so we pan sautéed them with a quick Pam Coconut Oil spray, turned the heat down fairly low, covered and let cook til al denté. Then, we got a wild hair and added 2 Tablespoons of Sambal and 1 T of light agave. Stirred all that up so everything was nicely coated and let sit and absorb those flavors for a bit. Very, very nice.
 And of course, you CANNOT have collard greens without corn-sticks.
 You know, we use EnerG egg replacement and have found a way to incorporate it into batter without all the lumpiness that we seem to get when we pre-mix (like you are supposed to). We just add the powder in to the dry ingredients and add 2T water to the wet ingredients when we get ready to add them…works great (well, so far, anyway). Our Farm Pack for this week was AWESOME with collard greens, great Salad Days lettuces, Pecan Pieces from Bass Pecans, Baby Beets, Bell Peppers, those wonderful Oyster Mushrooms, MS Blue Rice (Beulah Land Tan Brown Rice), and fresh Broccoli. Gosh..hardly a need at all to go to the grocery! We separated the PACK out so you could get a better sense of the great stuffs!!

Here's the bulk...beets, peppers, pecans, rice, and those wonderful 'shrooms!
And then the fabulous collards and Salad Days lettuces!
Just for comparison purposes, look at the oyster mushrooms we saw at the 'big' grocery in town this morning. Which would YOU prefer!?
Nature's Crest, grown locally...
 or store-bought 
For today’s NFL Playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, yours is an Elf divided. For years, we worked for the University of Wisconsin and the Long Term Care Institute, both in Madison WI. Our mentor and former boss, who is also now retired, is a die hard Packer fan (of course, bein’ from Green Bay) and then there's Mississippi’s own Bret Favre--a Packer legend. So, yes…we love the Packers. HOWSOMEVER, there’s a new KID on the Cowboy block by the name of DAK PRESCOTT who has captured the hearts of Mississippians with his stellar career at Mississippi State and even more rousing rookie year with the Dallas Cowboys. Most of you know that Big Solid went to MS State and we have followed Dak all along. Now, today we will be tested as will both these teams. Out of respect for the Packers, we have made (again from Seitan and Beyond) Brats!!

One word about the ‘mise en place’ picture. We realized AFTER we took all the pics that this recipe does NOT call for soy sauce. So scratch that from the pic! The dry ingredients
 are mixed with an emulsion of spices, oil and liquids to form a dough which is rolled in a foil packet and steamed.
 Today, we will prepare them in the tried and true WI way of boiling in beer and grilling (or sautéed). We have some GREAT sauerkraut compliments of Sweet and Sauer (Lauren Rhoades) in a recent Farm Pack.
 So if nothing else, we’ll enjoy a Wisconsin meal while we cheer on the Cowboys! Maybe some final cooked pics next week! We stuffed some of the Brats with Daiya cheese before we steamed them…so keep your fingers crossed.
Lastly, we leave you with our recent shot of the beautiful Oyster Mushrooms from Nature’s Crest Farm. These are frequently in our Farm Pack and we are always glad. Not only are the delicious, but also make a great jigsaw puzzle. WHAT? Well, we had a pretty nice picture of them which we were able to turn into an online jigsaw puzzle (see the application Free Hourly Jigsaw Puzzles).

What fun! And it was a nice challenge. So far, we’ve only worked up to a 180 piece puzzle and those pieces were so tiny, we almost had to get a magnifying glass to work it. For the ‘shrooms, we chose 100 pieces…that was plenty!
So that’s it for another week. As we approach these next few weeks of transition, let’s remember to always…

Look for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can. In other words, “DO EPIC”!
Your Elf

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