Sunday, February 11, 2018

All's Well That Ends Elf

This has been an interesting week at the Elf-haus, so let’s jump in with both feets! Our monthly Supper Club with our BFFs, Jesse and MaryEvelyn Dees, was held at Walker’s Drive Inn. Lest you be unaware of Walker’s, it’s a highly respected restaurant in Jackson’s Fondren area that is a Blue Plate Special by day and fine dining by night. We contacted the restaurant to see what vegan options they might concoct for us since the menu is absent any. And, indeed they did prepare a nice vegetable assembly.
The cheese and ‘chicken’ were provided by us since we understand restaurants in this area do not create entrées with meat analogs such as seitan (think Plant and/or Laughing Seed in Asheville NC). In any event, the meal was good but the price was not. And, as most restaurants are these days, it was loud and challenging to have a nice quiet visit. Yet, Walker’s does great business and offers first class entrées for seafood and steak/veal lovers. So, we have come up with an alternative Supper Club option that will meet the needs of us aging baby-boomers who are hearing-challenged as well as have specific food requests. We are going to alternate each other’s homes; we bring/provide OUR food and the Dees do likewise. Jesse thought of this option, so come March’s SC, we are meeting at the Kinky Elfery Kitchen. We will be able to serve our usual appetizer of French Fries from the new Air Fryer as well!!
After publishing last week’s blog, we dove into the KEK to ‘fix’ a variety of some meals for the week. We had our Elfin eye on a recipe shared on Facebook for a Slow Cooker/Crock Pot soup for Super Bowl Sunday evening. Now the recipe link is for the original version which includes hamburger.
We ‘veganized it’ by substituting ‘meatless crumbles’ and our usual Chicken Bouillon. First, we diced the vegetables,
adding the Fire-Roasted crushed tomatoes, (we LOVE Muir Glen Organics)
then added the herbs and bay leaf
and topped with a package of Boca Crumbles
along with the bouillon. Then, all we needed to do was put the top on the CP (Crock Pot), turn it on low and move on to the next dish. The finished product was delicious, though we did have to throw in some additional ‘heat’ and spice to kick up the flavors a bit along with some grated Daiya cheese.
Oh, one more thing, this recipe calls for the use of a six quart CP. Ours is a smaller version (three quarts) so we halved the recipe. One correction or change we will make the next time we prepare this recipe (aside from using a different ‘meat’ such as mushrooms or tempeh) is to not add quite to much pasta AND add about a cup more of the liquid.
Once we got that recipe going, we moved to prepare the PB (Plant-Based) Chicken and Sausage Gumbo to have during the week and to share with some friends. AND, we used the dry roux we talked about in last week’s blog.
It worked GREAT!! The color was a deep rich brown and thickened up nicely. We used our Andouille sausage (The Gentle Chef’s recipe), shown here being browned
and the Delight Soy Chicken Nuggets that we sautéed and shredded. The final version looks, well, looked like this and it was quite delicious!
Speaking of Shredded Chicken, remember our ‘elf-fort gone awry’ with the exploding chicken analog not long ago? We gave it another try this Sunday while Big Solid was at a Golf Tournament so, if it DID explode again, he’d be away and we could get it all cleaned up before he got home! The last batch we made did not explode but it also lacked the texture we want. So, we prepared the dough, processed it by thirds in the Cusinart and TRIPLE-WRAPPED in Heavy Duty foil. Once again, we watched that oven like a HAWK that last 30 minutes and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when the timer went off and the dough had remained within the confines of the foil. AND, it turned out to be the texture we desired. Here’s the cooked up version.
We use it on baked potatoes along with sautéed mushrooms, broccoli, and the Daiya grated block cheese. We also take it with us to various restaurants to put on salads. We LOVE the Delight Soy Chicken Nuggets as well but they are higher in fat and cost a LOT more (even though we buy at a case discount.)
Monday found us back in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen to prepare Forks Over Knives version of a Mushroom and Pea Risotto. We made this recently and it’s a great comfort food for chilly nights and stomachs that do not need a lot of spice or heat. We usually save out a couple of portions for us and share the rest. One of the things we LOVE about this recipe is that it does NOT require the constant stirring, adding liquid and stirring that the typical Risotto does. The key to this recipe’s creaminess is the use of cashews, soaked and blended. You DO have to stir but not quite as much. The mushroom and pea mixture
is ready to be added to the rice, bouillon, and cashew cream.
Your Elf was such a stupid head to NOT get a final picture. It’s a very soothing dish. That being said, we added some FireWalker Hot Sauce to ours!
We are introducing something a bit new to our little bloggery…'Elfisms'. Those little things that seem to validate that the Universe is really out to get you, or at least Your Elf. So, we present Elfism #1–The Cluster Sink. EVERY TIME we turn on the water in the kitchen sink, all the utensils, cups, bowls and other cookery paraphernalia rush to get under it so the water will be aimed directly at US! This torrent results in not just a little sprinkly bit of wet but an en masse soaking—face, hair, clothing, counters and the floor. Does this ever happen to you?
OK, this next 'reveal' is so embarrassing we almost refuse to publish but in the spirit of Elfin Transparency, we are sucking it up and going for it. Our Air Fryer recipe this week from Kathy Hester’s Vegan Air Fryer cookbook was Air-Fried Seitan and Veggies with Peanut Sauce. AND, we had all the ingredients. Home made Seitan, frozen veggies (the California Blend of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower), soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic, and Sambal Oelek. In a slight deviation from the original peanut sauce part of the recipe, we used puréed fresh ginger in place of ground AND substituted the Sambal Oelek in place of Sriracha. We also used the powdered peanut butter to cut back on the fat. Well, listen up...the sauce is wonderful. We could lap it up with a spoon (fresh from the Cluster Sink). Our Seitan was cut into chunks, the AF pre-heated and veggies ready to go in. Well, the recipe called for 16 oz of the frozen veggies; our package was 12 oz. We figured that was fine, so tossed them in the AF. What we did NOT consider (but will most certainly in the future) was the cooking time. We cooked the suggested time of 10 minutes, shook the basket and added the Seitan and proceeded to cook another 10. Well, When we pulled the basket after the second cooking, we no longer had carrot slices nicely cooked, we had little carrot marbles AND instead of toasty broccoli, we had broCOALi. The Seitan was pretty toasty and ok. 
We forged ahead and served it over some brown rice with the PEANUT Sauce, which saved the day.
We learned a valuable lesson and will now check on our vegetables more frequently.
This brings us to the end of the week and this little blog. We hope we've brought a smile to your face while showing you that plant-based eating can be a lot of fun and certainly educational. Until next Sunday, remember always to 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.
Your Elf


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