Sunday, February 25, 2018

'Twas Brillig and the Slythy Elf

You know, sometimes Your Elf feels a bit like Alice in the Wonderland of plant-based eating. There are always challenges and surprises and rewards. Like Alice, sometimes we feel very small and sometimes, very large. This week, we’ve been feelin’ pretty large because three people we know and love have made decisions leading them to healthier eating. It is understood that it takes twenty-one days to form a habit…we have our elfin fingers crossed!! So for the next few weeks, we will really be focusing on adapting to a plant-based eating life style and trying to offer support, tips, resources, recipes, and dishes we’ve cooked. Let us begin by saying, WE SO UNDERSTAND the challenge of moving away from animal products. Heck, it’s the way we grew up and here in the Deep South, our lives have been linked to fried chicken (especially livers and gizzards); pimento cheese (with Duke’s Mayonnaise); Pork ribs that fall off the bone; casseroles laden with cheese; a sackful of Krystals, Cheese filled omelets with a side of bacon, pecan, chicken and dumplin’s, lemon ice box, key lime and chess pies; blackberry name a few. AND, we absolutely CANNOT omit the food of New Orleans/South Louisiana, which is in a category all its own. Shrimp, oyster and roast beef po’boys (preferably from Mother’s), gumbo, etouffée, cheesy grits, and red Beans and rice with a big ole Andouille sausage parked right in the middle. No wonder we struggle with moving away from these dishes. Yet, we here in the Kinky Elfery Kitchen are living proof that it CAN be done. And yes, we also had moments of doubt, longing for the forbidden favorites, and that little shoulder dwelling ‘Debil’ that says,  “it’s ok, just this once”. Our first year of going plant-based, we even built in a ‘Vegan Holiday’ for January 1 so we could enjoy all those great dishes that New Year’s Day brings—wings, black-eyed peas cooked with fat back and hog jowl, bourbon laced (or laden) boiled custard, cabbage cooked in bacon grease, dips galore and hot buttered cornbread or sticks baked in cast iron. Well, you know what, by the time New Year’s Day rolled around, we’d been plant-based for six months, so what we decided to do was to HAVE as many of those dishes we could cook up plant-based. Nope, we did not manage the wings, though Gardein has a mighty good plant-based alternative. We did, however, have the cabbage cooked in some oil with a small amount of liquid smoke, black-eyed peas highly seasoned, veganized corn sticks in cast iron and vegan margarine,
boiled peanut hummus, Almond milk based eggnog (bourbon available), and vegan apple crisp. Believe us, we did not suffer one bit. Another time we had collards and black eyed peas with brown rice.
We are ‘splainin’ all this because y’all who are moving to plant-based eating have a HUGE supporter in us and we will do everything we can to help y’all! Fast forward almost five years where our plant-based habits are so established, we don’t give a second thought to eating any other way. Big Solid is coming up on his second anniversary and he could NOT be more committed to this way of life. He also likes to enjoy some of the meal analogs such as Burger and Fries Night, Tacos/Taco Salad, and Spaghetti and Meatballs with an Parmesan Cheese. SOOO, we had fun this week making some new stuff and enjoying some old. If we are lucky, some of the new stuff is good enough to keep on the rotation and add to our plant-based repertoire. Last Monday, we had Burger and Fries night. We had a Simple Truth Meatless Patty (and these are quite good), a slice of Ezekiel Bread toast, and a slice of tomato (heirloom from Salad Days). Big Solid whipped up some slaw with angel hair cabbage using reduced fat Vegenaise, and some plain (not seasoned) rice vinegar. We also used our new mandoline to whip out some potatoes to fry in our new air fryer and voila!! Supper!!

Tuesday, we tried our hand at making Kale Chips in the Air Fryer. So, we got our kale all clean, dry and torn in to fairly large pieces.

We spritzed with some EVOO and sprinkled some nutritional yeast over them along with an eighth teaspoon of salt. The recipe, such as it was, called for a fourth teaspoon of salt but we keep our salt intake low. The seasoned kale was ‘admitted’ to the AF a half batch at a time to make sure cooking was evenly done. And this cooks very quickly...5 min and then in minute intervals until they are crispy and not burned.

As for taste, they are good but way too salty for us. Next time, we will just leave the salt off altogether; the nutritional yeast adds a bit of a cheesy flavor. They also have a tendency to go ‘poof’ in your mouth and be gone. Big Solid had a hankerin’ for pasta, so we pulled out the fresh asparagus we’d found on sale at Kroger and a large box of mushrooms, also on sale. LOOK at your Elf’s new’s a mashup of Tie-Dye meets June Cleaver!!

Now, you can tell by the size of the asparagus that they are WAY TOO thick and big for anything other than as a part of a vegetable melange, so we cut them in bite-sided pieces sautéed in some EVOO until they greened up a bit and then added the whole mushrooms and left-over kale.
The only seasoning we used was fresh lemon. The pasta was red lentil fusilli which has significant protein per serving (26g per 3.5 oz serving).
You can find it at Walmart along with two other types of ‘bean flour’ pastas (black bean and chickpea).
Our preference is red lentil..the other two do not cook up as nicely and they hae a flour-y taste. The final dish looked like this with a piece of ‘buttered’ toast and some Vegan Parmesan which you can find at Whole Paycheck. The final plating looked like this.
Wednesday, we made a veggie stir-fry with Air Fried tofu. We LOVE baby bok choy and we found some really nice fresh ones.
We sliced some carrots,
pressed our tofu to get our the excess water then cubed it. It marinated a bit and then went into the Air Fryer.
We had prepared the Kathy Hester Stir Fry Sauce that we’d used in a previous recipe using AF Tofu. It’s easy and so delicious! So we sautéed the bok choy in a bit of soy sauce and EVOO along with the carrots. We added the AF tofu and stirred til the sauce thickened up a bit.
Served it over leftover pasta and chowed down.
Thursday, we had one of our go-to meals that never disappoints...baked potato, steamed broccoli, shredded vegan cheese (Daiya block, not the pre-shredded), vegan ‘butter’ and sautéed Soy Delight chicken nuggets that we buy by the case!! BTW, the next batch of tofu we air fry will be marinated only and not coated with the corn starch. We want to see how that cooks. Friday night is Thai night and we always go to our favorite Thai restaurant where they have developed several plant-based options for us and others. Saturday night was Taco night, so we busted out the Boca Crumbles, seasoned them highly with taco stuffs and pepper, grated yet another block of Daiya cheese and chowed down.
Before we say adios for the week, if you get a chance, check out Your Elf's new Facebook page called The Movie Elf to get the scoop on the latest movies.
This week’s review is ‘Annihilation’. And, Mail Order Annie has a new reveal for the month of March!! Irish Annie!
What we’ve endeavored to do this week is to show you simple things to cook that make for delicious plant-based meals. Before we say adios for the week, if you get a chance, check out Your Elf’s new Facebook page called The Movie Elf
So, we’ve come to the end of the little bloggery for this week and we leave you as we always do. 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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