Sunday, May 13, 2018

An Elf for All Seasons

First and foremost, a very Happy Mother’s Day to all. Whether you still have your Mom or whether she’s watching you from another plane, celebrate her gift of life to you. Double down on your commitment to make that life a life well-intentioned and well-lived.
Our first recipe of the week is a tried and true recipe from Vegan Bowls and one of our favorites, Cajun Tofu and Artichoke Bowl. We first tried this a while back when we had our first (and last) encounter with Celeriac; remember the Root That Shall Not Be Named. We have since learned that we can substitute puréed cauliflower seasoned with celery salt, be just as happy, and a LOT less frustrated. So, with some tofu in the ‘fridge that needed to be used, we dove in. We had a can of artichoke hearts in the pantry but the jar of hearts in Kroger just looked so nice, we got them instead. Not a good idea...yes, they were water packed, so we cut down on the oil but the outer leaves were tough as whit leather (whatever that is). We wound up peeling most of the larger leaves away since they wouldn’t even cut with a knife. After pressing our tofu for about 10 minutes (we used Extra-firm), we sliced it into 8 ‘steaks’ and marinated in a concoction of paprika, chicken bouillon (Plant-based), garlic, olive oil, cayenne, oregano, thyme , and salt/pepper. As it typical of us, we let it marinate about 30 minutes instead of the 10 indicated in the recipe. We like our flavors strong! We actually steamed the cauliflower we’d cut into florets instead of cooking in water; that seemed to keep the cauliflower more ‘together’. Processor made short work of turning the not mushy but soft cauliflower into a nice firm purée with a wee bit of olive oil, about a tablespoon of cashew milk and a teaspoon of celery salt. The marinated tofu was sautéed in an iron skillet
so we could get a good sear; the artichoke hearts were sautéed in a separate skillet
...and VOILA!! We layered the purée first, then added the sautéed hearts and tofu. This is a simple recipe that shows that vegan can be easy, quick and delicious!!
Our Ornish-esque recipe for the week really comes from a Big Solid comment. He asked Your Elf when we were going to have a particular pasta dish that he liked. We realized that with our elf-forts to try new recipes, we often forget about the older ones that we REALLY like. So, we hearkened back to another one of Susan Voisin’s recipes...Pasta with Chard and Chickpeas.
AND...AND...we were able to harvest the Chard from our very own ElfinGarden!!
Well, we harvested our Swiss Chard and then we threw in some Lacinato and Red Kale as well.
We always keep chickpeas (either canned or home cooked) and a variety of pastas on hand, so that was no problem! With only three main ingredients, we were SET! So our ‘mise en place’ looked like this (in addition to the greens): Baby Bellas, Red Pepper flakes, drained and rinsed Chickpeas, Whole Wheat Pasta, Double Strength Tomato Paste, and thinly sliced White Onion.
We sautéed our sliced onion in water (in keeping with the no/low fat principles of Ornish and FatFree Vegan Kitchen),
added our Baby Bellas and Red Pepper flakes,
then the Tomato Paste,
and finally, the Chickpeas.
We let these flavors develop a bit and then added our cleaned, coarsely chopped and dried greens. OH!! We almost forgot…LOOK at another offering from the garden that we added—a fresh asparagus!
We planted several asparagus plants when we first moved here several years ago in hopes of having asparagus ‘out the garden’. Well, we do but it’s been a singular effort. We’ll get ONE asparagus to crop up on a weekly basis, so by the time we get enough to cook, the first one is all dried out!! So, we chopped this one up and added it to the greens! And SEE—here’s the asparagus for THIS week!
This time we WILL be able to harvest TWO instead of one! PROGRESS is being made! Anyway, our final plating looked like this.
And the nutritional values are pictured to note less than 3 grams of fat per serving.
NOW, you’ll notice we added a sautéed Italian Sausage to our plate. According the the My Fitness Pal recipe application, our plant-based Italian Sausage nutritional values look like this.
The original recipe is from The Gentle Chef’s cookbook, Seitan and Beyond and is proprietary so we can't share it without his permission. That being said, we will most certainly ask. He's been very receptive before, so keep your fingers crossed.  His recipes for meat analogs are amazing. Truthfully, Your Elf has tinkered with some of the spices as we tend toward more intense flavors (or our elderly palate is not as discriminating as it used to be). We have also asked Susan Voisin to run the ingredients and portions through her nutritional values application to validate the values shown here. We'll alert you to any significant differences (especially with respect to the fat grams).
Short but sweet for this week. Again, we wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day and include our favorite picture of Elf-Mama. With a name like Annie Oakley, you just knew a picture like this would evolve...this during her freshman year at (then) Memphis State in the late 1930's.
She’s been gone for several years but her spirit, creative bent, and sense of humor is very much alive. So, until next week, we wish you a good week ahead and always remember to 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. DO EPIC!

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