22 October 2012 § 5 Comments
After four years of seeing posts about Lindsay’s annual vegan care package swap floating around the web, my curiosity got the best of me and I signed up.
I have no idea what took me so long, but I’m glad I finally participated! The idea behind the swap is to be paired up with someone in a different part of the country, get to know one another, and then send each other care packages. Sort of like a Secret Santa, except you receive a gift you like. It happened to land within the Vegan Month of Food, which was a very nice touch. My care package swap partner was Tanya, and the box of goodies she sent was so good that Nina took off with half of it.
A mug, an owl, and a box of maple sugar candies are now the personal effects of my daughter. A box of maple sugar candies, you ask? Why yes, of course, they’re tucked under the owl’s wing. They’re the Tootsie Pop of the new millennium.
Everything else in the box seems to be perfectly timed with my upcoming race. The coffee will be cold brewed for my race day breakfast smoothie; the granola and multigrain hot cereal are breakfast staples; the wasabi nori has brought my bowls of miso-sesame sticky rice to new heights; the raw vegan protein powder worked so well in a recovery smoothie that I’ve picked up more packets to take with me on the road; and best of all, the chocolate almond butter packets are the perfect size for adding to the aforementioned race day breakfast smoothie.
Thank you, Tanya!
For any runners out there who are wondering the how’s and when’s of this smoothie, here goes: if I’m running less than six miles, I drink only this smoothie, about 40 minutes before my run; if I’m running six or more miles, I pair it with a small pot of yogurt and fruit, two slices of this French toast, and two tablespoons of preserves, about 120 minutes before my run.
2 small bananas, cut into chunks and frozen
2 ounces cold brewed coffee concentrate
8 ounces almond milk
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 packet (1.15 oz) Justin’s Chocolate Amond Butter Spread
Blend everything until smooth, adding additional almond milk if needed. Drink immediately.
10 October 2012 § 8 Comments
Despite the onset of autumn, everywhere I look I’m still seeing green. My tomato plants are producing more right now than they did all summer long.
My fig tree finally started fruiting last month, and my kitchen garden has turned into a forest.
It’s not entirely unusual; but at the same time, my plants are producing longer and larger yields than in years past. If I think about it too long, it’s a little unnerving. I have row covers and cloches ready for the eventual cold snap. I’m trying to convince all of our outdoor fauna that it will be getting colder.
For now, we’re just enjoying the greenness of everything.
I wonder if the same thing is happening elsewhere. Specifically, wherever avocado harvests are taking place. They’ve been on sale for the past six weeks or so, and the novelty of being able to buy affordable (!) organic avocados has yet to wear off. Which means I’m buying them twice a week on my scheduled market runs. In an effort to justify buying those knobbly, brown speckled beauties in such quantity, I decided to incorporate them into my family’s favorite muffin recipe.
Avocado Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins
3/4 cup sorghum or brown rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa or millet flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grained sea salt
2 tablespoons chia or flax seeds, ground to a powder (measure before grinding)
3 tablespoons boiling water
2 medium-sized, ripe bananas
1 medium or large ripe avocado
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup softened coconut oil, or sunflower or olive oil (plus extra if using to coat pan)
Very important final ingredient:
1 small dark chocolate bar (1.5-1.75 oz), coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 375 F / 190 C. Prepare muffin tray(s) with liners or a light coating of oil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, mash up wet ingredients: bananas, avocado (a potato masher + the elbow grease of a small child get the job done best), syrup, and oil.
Put the ground chia or flax seeds into a small bowl, add the boiling water, and whisk vigorously. Your slurry will thicken instantly. Add the slurry to the wet ingredients and stir to combine thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until all flour is absorbed. Take a taste! That’s right, go on now. No fear of salmonella happening on my watch. Sweeten a bit more if you’d like (we all have our own preferences). And most importantly - fold in the chocolate.
Portion the batter into muffin tray(s) 3/4 of the way full, and bake: 25 minutes for regular sized / 15 minutes for minis, or until the tops are starting to brown.
If you don’t have an avocado, use two more small or medium bananas and your muffins will look like this:
Yield: 15 regular or 40 mini muffins
9 October 2012 § 2 Comments
Something I don’t think I’ve shared on here is that I moonlight in the recipe business, developing and testing recipes for vegan, vegetarian and omni cookbook authors. Sometimes, I conceive and develop original (always vegan/often gluten free) recipes; other times, I join a group of individuals who are testing an author’s own material. For obvious reasons, I don’t post any of the recipes – mine or theirs – before a manuscript is published.
During the development/testing phase, I cull my favorites for easy access into a clearly marked folder with every intention of sharing them when the time is right. It’s a thick folder, the spine wearing thin and papers trying to burst from the confines of the industrial strength rubber band holding it all together. It’s an ignored folder, one that is added to often, pulled down when I want to make a favorite recipe, and then re-shelved on my kitchen bookshelf where it melts back into obscurity.
All that is to say that I’m going to make an effort to share more with you from my recipe testing archive, recipes I’ve made so many times that I usually don’t even need to reach for my disintegrating folder, let alone the actual cookbook.
It’s pumpkin season around here, and since winter squash is one of the few things I don’t actually grow on my own little farm, we get very excited about making the rounds to pumpkin patches, the farmers’ market, our co-op, the farm across the road, and my in-laws garden. That’s a lot of squash, folks. And a lot of squash seeds. And thanks to Dynise, I know exactly what to do with them.
Candied squash seeds
Adapted from Celabrate Vegan by Dynise Balcavage
Seeds from butternut and other winter squash can be used in place of pumpkin seeds, if you have them. This recipe is easily be doubled or tripled, just be sure that your pan is big enough to accommodate the increased volume.
1 cup fresh pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup muscovado sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
¼ teaspoon fine grain salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Preheat the oven to 350 F / 175 C. Clean the seeds and pat them dry. Spread them out in a single layer on a parchment-lined or lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly toasted and golden.
While the pumpkin seeds are cooling, toast the cumin seeds over medium heat in a dry skillet until fragrant, about five minutes. Grind the seeds. In a small bowl, sift together the sugar, ground cumin, minced herbs and salt.
In a deep pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the sugar mixture and pumpkin seeds and stir to combine – it will be clumpy. Increase the heat to medium/high and stir often. Over the next five to seven minutes, the sugar mixture will first take on a sandy appearance, then caramelize, clinging to the seeds. As soon as this happens, turn off the heat and transfer the seeds back to the baking sheet. The candied seeds will harden as they cool.
Yield: One heaping cup