Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm still here and with gumbo!

Howdy everyone!  I'm still here!  It's finally quieted down around here. Keaton is gone this week with the 6th grade class so it will quieter than usual.  No guitar noise in the afternoon.  Our dog Cleo sleeps with him at night so she is a bit screwed up already. 
Last week while I was doing yard work I pulled a muscle right above my wrist.  I have this nice swollen lump on my arm and if I start doing to much a shooting pain goes up my forearm.  So typing even isn't so nice and I tried mixing some mashed potatoes and wow that hurt.  Enough of my complaining.
I found this great new gluten free milk at Trader Joes a couple of weeks ago and I really like it.  My son doesn't like it as much as just plain rice milk but he's getting used to it.  I like to have a few different milks in the refridge at one time.  I usually have vanilla almond for my coffee, soy milk-for anything, and then usually a rice milk, hemp milk here and there.  This has 3g. fiber, vit.A, iron, b12, vit. D, calcium and phoshorus, no protein though.  Rice milk usually has at least 1g. of protein. The thing about this milk is I just wish that the amaranth, millet and quinoa were higher up on the ingredients list instead of the end.
Here is some gumbo I made.  I have been thinking of things I haven't made in a long time and this was one of them and I love gumbo.  This is my version from all of the ones I've made in the past.  This is made with homemade seitan sausages.  Keaton has had stomache issues of which I've spoken about and I try not to serve him alot of wheat products.  I think since seitan is pretty much just gluten it is more intense on his system because he totally had stomache pains later and also with the St. Patty's meal I made him.  You can use a firm tofu, which I have used before  and just broil in the oven to get a bit crispy on the outside, you can also use red beans.  This turned out really good, maybe a tad bit spicy hot more than usual, but that was just me using a heavy hand with the creole spice. hee hee

Veggie Gumbo with Seitan

1/3c. canola or safflower oil
1/3c. flour
2 1/2c. yellow onion, diced
3/4c. green bell pepper, diced
1/2c. red bell pepper, diced
3/4c. celery, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2c. okra, sliced(I used frozen)
1/2 c. ale or dark beer
2 bay leaves
1 T. creole seasoning  or less
6-8c. vegetable broth/stock
salt and pepper to taste.
2 vegan sausages*(note below) sliced and browned in a skillet or firm tofu/beans
             (I have used a firm tofu before)
cooked brown rice

To make the roux in a heavy duty pot, I use cast iron, heat 1/3.c. oil.  Once heated up whisk in the flour until smooth.  With a wooden spoon continue to stir often over medium heat.  You want to make sure you don't burn the roux but you want it to turn a dark caramel brown and be thick. This takes patience and can take a bit of time but is important. 
When the roux is complete you will add to that, onion, red and green bell pepper, and the celery.  Cook until the onions start to turn brown. (I like to add a bit of salt to this to sweat out the onions, you don't have to add much but this way you don't have to add more oil).  It will look like this!  
Next stir in the garlic and okra.  Cook about a minute. Then you will want to add the 1/2 c. ale and let that cook down for about a minute or so.  Once that has cooked out you will add in the browned seitan sausage slices, creole seasoning and bay leaves, stir through then add in the veggie broth/stock.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 45min or so.  The creole seasoning I use doesn't have as much salt as some other brands so adjust the salt to your liking.

Once heated through and has become thicker serve over a bowl of rice.

*the vegan sausage recipe I use is Julie Hasson's and you can get it by clicking here.

Have a wonderful day!  It supposed to start raining tonight or maybe tomorrow for a couple of days but that's okay.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mothers milk and corned seitan and cabbage stew....

A week with my brother and nephew, it was really nice. My nephew, 4 yrs old, likes to go see the buffalope(buffalo)as he calls them, and he was able to pet some sheep. I did too!  They were so cute!  My nephew also loves "tofood" or what you and I call tofu. LOL!  They left to go home on Friday, then my mother-in-law came up late Saturday night to use our computer then left early Sunday.  She and my father-in-law will be back up on Friday for Keaton's Science Fair.  Next?!!!!   We have rooms available on....jk!  We love having visitors.

Here is a brief run down of our St. Patrick's dinner.  My mother in law used to make a corned beef and cabbage for my son years ago and he loved it.  So when Keaton became vegan I told him I would rally up a recipe for him to make him something similar.  My first go around with making the meal was okay.  The second go around, jack pot!  So this year I used the same recipe and it was a hit again with the kid.  My brother even had some and said it was pretty good.  The corned seitan recipe from Vegan Dad was made the previous day.  I didn't have any allspice or juniper berries so I didn't add that and I didn't use as much seasoned salt.  Then for the stew part I used Susan's, Corned "beef" and cabbage recipe at Fat Free Vegan .  I just added a bit more herbs in this and a bit more wine.  I actually think it turned out tastier than last years.
This next bit I've been wanting to post for some time now and it's regarding cows milk, or actually any type of animal milk.  For those of you who still eat and drink animal products or are new to being vegan here is some info.

 So we were driving around alot this weekend in Santa Barbara trying to get Keaton's science fair project working and so I picked up the local calendar called the Independent.  I notice this article that reads "Breast Milk Canape." Hmmmm...sounds interesting,  so I read it and you can too just click here.   So if you just read the article, what is so weird about this?  Wait!  Hold on now.... what I mean is if people drink cows milk or goats why would it gross them out?  Now.....what is milk for?  It's for babies.  Mothers milk from humans or cows, or goats, or pigs...it's for their babies!   Milk is the secretions of the mammory glands that provides food for their babies, it has all of the wonderful antibodies and nutrients for their young.  Now in the article it quotes "Mothers milk, technically, should be one of the healthiest things people can put in their bodies".   But mothers milk is made for babies not adults, it has a high content of fat which is needed for the baby.  Babies at some point are weened off of mothers milk to eat solid food.  Most people whether they know it or not are lactose intolerent or allergic to dairy, we lose the enzyme lactase to metabolize it.  Then there is alot of talk about added hormones to cows milk which was a big deal years ago but cows milk naturally has hormones in it, it's for the calves to grow and calves grow at a rapid pace compared to human babies and they also are bigger and heavier than humans. So people are consuming massive amounts of this stuff which has cows hormones in it. 

 Moooving on....cows are bred into producing 10 times more more milk just for human consumption!  The cows live uncomfortably and is very taxing on the cows which can lead to getting sick easier and when they stop producing milk at around 4 years old, they will take them to slaughter.   They are also articifically inseminated so they can keep producing milk, then the male calves are taken away from these dairy cows and are used as veal and the females are led on to the dairy life. These animals are being used as machines, they are not treated with any respect what so ever! 

Let's talk cheese.  In the cheese making process they use rennet.  Rennet comes from the lining of the calves stomache, some places use vegetarian rennet and they will list it on the packaging if they do. On a health note just think of how many dairy products are consumed each day. Cows milk with breakfast, cheese on the lunch sandwich, yogurt for a snack, cheese on tonight's dinner pasta, encho's, pizza, burrito's, etc. Dairy Ice cream for dessert.  All of that saturated fat and cholestrol you are putting into your body that is moving through those arteries slowly clogging them up.  We grow up eating dairy products and are told to do so to get our calcium and then we tell this to our kids.  If we eliminate dairy you may ask how do I get my calcium?  Where do the animals get their calcium from?  Cows get there calcium from certain grasses, clover, etc and look how strong they are.  But the cows now a days in the factory farms don't get to eat and roam in the fields so they are given calcium in their food. Well these cows aren't drinking there own milk or anyone else's.  Got you thinking?  Hmmmmm... so if they are given calcium in their food then we can take calcium supplements too.  We can also get calcium from plant foods, seeds, nuts and tofu.    Dr. Fuhrman has a great book called "Disease Proof Your Child" and he speaks about calcium and vitamin D and gives some examples of how much foods contain calcium and how much is absorbed.  One example is:

100 calories of skim milk  calcium 334mg.  percent 32  amount absorbed 107mg
100 calories of bok choy  calcium 787 mg.  percent 54  amount absorbed 434 mg.

So you see we absorb more calcium from eating these plant foods than from animal foods.  Also when you eat animal products and high amounts of salt they make the body acidic so in order to neutralize the body it will take calcium from the bones to make it alkaline and then it is excreted from the body.  When eating plant foods or non animal products,which are not acidic to the body, you don't need as much calcium because less will be excreted.  There are also so many foods that are fortified with calcium, from cereal to orange juice so the chances of not getting enough calcium is slim. The bigger concern recently has been are we getting enough Vit. D which luckily out here in California we get alot of it.  Yay for the sun!
So instead of that slice of cheese try a slice of a creamy avocado, it contains 20 nutrients , contains vitamin E, folic acid, b-vitamins, to name a few and contains healthy fats, no cholesterol.  For milk there are many non dairy milks ranging from soy-rice-hemp milk and many brands that make them.  Take your pick!  I know it takes a while to eliminate dairy, some more than others, do to us eating it from toddler on to adult but you can do it if you realy want to.

So I have spoken and have got that out of my system. Maybe for those who may not have made the switch from vegetarian to vegan yet will realize that these animals are treated just as badly and end up in the same place as those raised for their flesh.  I just wish more people will read more about these things and make a more compassionate and healthy choice. 

  Next time you see a cow, or pig, or goat, look into their eyes...and their whole being.  They eat, breath, scratch when they are itchy, soak in the sun and relax....just like us! 
Have a wonderful and compassionate day!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I hope everyone is having a fun and fabulous day!  Our weather has been wonderful the past few days.  Spring has defininitely kicked in.  My brother and nephew came in from Arizona last Friday so we've been busy which has left no time for blogging much.  My nephew is napping so I'm taking this opportunity.  I will be making a seitan corned "beef" and cabbage tonight and will post at a later time.    I thought I would at least share some photo's of a hike we went on last weekend.  All of the flowers are starting to bloom. 
Pretty flowers. 
Here is a toad my nephew found in our backyard yesterday.  When he finally started to move out of those rocks he left a present. hee hee. No I didn't take a picture of that! 
Here is a swiss chard wrap.  Chickpea salad with shredded carrot, tomato and avocado. So cool and refreshing and it's Green for St. Patty's Day. 
Have a fun and safe night if ya'll are going out!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Going Primal,new foundation and raw treats

For starters it's been so freakin cold out lately.  Sunny but cold. Burrrrrr! Okay weather report is out of the way.  Moving on....Primal Strips.
I have been given the chance to sample Primal Strips meatless jerky. They are Non-GMO, vegan/kosher, no msg and made from seitan/soy/shitake mushroom.  They are high in protein while being low in calories and fat.  They come in 6 different flavors as you can see.  My favorites are the Mesquite Lime, Hickory Smoked and Terriyaki.  The first time I packed one in my son's lunch he came home from school telling me that his friends all really liked it.   I know they all share their food with each other but I didn't realize so many of them would want to try it.  So you could say these are kid approved! These are perfect for travelling, hiking or biking.  Just throw them in a pack and you are set! 

I've been inspired by Katie at Chocolate-Covered Katie , it started with her raw fudge "babies". I know it sounds weird if you don't know what I'm talking about but they consist of a few raw ingredients that are blended up and rolled into a fabulous treat!  Like no bake cookies.  I finally attempted my own and oh they are so good!  These ones taste like an Almond Joy.  Now I know why she is always making these raw treats, they are highly addictive!  A great tasting snack without the added sugar and oil.  Gluten free as well.  I coated some with chocolate so it's like eating a truffle...in my mind! lol! 

1/2 c. raw almonds
1/2 c. medjool dates(pitted)
1/4 c. shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. dark chocolate(melted)optional

      In a food processor add almonds and blend until chopped finely, not butter.  Then add the dates, coconut and vanilla.  Take out and roll into balls. 
If you dip in melted chocolate put on wax paper and stick in refrigerater until hardened.  Pack in airtight container.
Tuesday nights I don't usually make a time intensive meal due to Keaton's guitar lessons being in the late afternoon and it's also our night to watch LOST.  You know speaking of LOST, we finally got a little bit of the puzzle answered after all of these episodes!   I also had an exciting moment last night, well for me anyways.  It's when Ben is in the teacher role and writes "ELBA" on the chalkboard, Elba spelled backwards is Able, you know how there is all these secret messages and references in each episode.  Anyways, I was excited I caught it,  if even if it doesn't mean anything.  Bake to the food.   I had a few huge potatoes  sitting in my pantry so that's what we had.  Baked potatoes topped with sauteed swiss chard and mushrooms.  Filling and comforting. Yum!
The other day at New Frontiers, our local health food store, I found my new favorite foundation.  It's EMANI Minerals.  I've been preferring the liquid foundations over the powdered ones, so it's nice to find more of them out there.  It's always so hard to find a new foundation that works, you know?  So while I was at the store and I rubbed some of the foundation on top of my hand to try it out and when I got home to wash my hands I couldn't tell that there was any foundation on it.  I mean, it blended in so well!  I went back the next day to purchase some before we went out with some friends and it feels so light on the skin.  It doesn't feel like you have any foundation on at all.  It is a light to medium coverage.  It is also vegan and gluten free! This color is the Oyster Beige.  My skin is lighter during the winter months so I'll have to go to the medium color during the summer.  Check it out! 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tortilla Soup, Macadamia Brie and goji snacks

Lots on my mind lately that I really want to blog about but that will have to wait for now.  So I will quickly post a few things I've whipped up this last week.

Recipe testing for Celine & Joni's new cookbook is ending soon so this past week I've been busy.  This is a Macadamia Brie which I've got to tell you, an  interesting flavor, but really good.  It was so easy to throw together and what a great addition to serving this as an appetizer with a fruit compote on top served alongside crackers, pears and apples and a lovely glass of sparkling or red wine.
I picked me up some organic raw cacao gogi energy squares the other day from New Frontiers and these babies are so good!  Now I need to try to make them.

It's still soup/chilli weather outside so I wanted something warm  for dinner but didn't want to make chilli... again!  So for something different I made us Tortilla Soup.  I would of liked it hotter, was out of jalepeno's, but it still went over really well with the family, everyone had seconds.  I topped it off with baked tortilla strips, avocado and a homemade cashew cheese.  By the way this Nutty Cashew Cheese is also in the upcoming cookbook I've been testing and it melts!!!  I made a quesadilla with it the other day and I was so excited!!!

Tortilla Soup
8 corn tortillas for baking 
cooking spray
olive or canola oil
1 large sweet onion
3-4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped 
1 jalepeno(optional)or half if really hot
1 1/2 tsp oregano
3/4-1 tsp cumin
6 cups vegetable broth or no-chicken broth(imagine foods)
1 bay leaf
1 14.5 oz can Muir Glen roasted tomatoes or you could use fresh tomatoes diced.
1  4oz. diced green chillies
2 Tbsp. Tequila (optional)
3/4 cup frozen corn
1 1/4 cup black beans 
1/4 cup cilantro (optional)for garnish
non-dairy cheese(optional)


Heat oven to 350.  Take each tortilla and spray both sides with canola or olive oil spray(this cuts down on fat).  Take 4 tortillas and slice into thing strips, the other 4 cut into quarters. Next lay tortilla strips and whole tortillas on a cookie sheet or aluminum foil placed on oven rack.  After 5-10 minutes, when the quarted tortillas are soft take out and set aside.  Continue to bake the strips for another 10 minutes until crispy, take out and set aside.

In a large cast iron pot or stew pot heat olive oil/canola oil and then add onion.  Saute until almost soft then add the garlic.  Once completely soft add the bay leaf ,jalepeno(if you are choosing to), green chillies, oregano, cumin and saute another minute.  Next stir in the tequila if you choose to, tomatoes and the quartered tortilla's and the broth.  Simmer with lid on for about 25minutes.  Once this is done take an emersion blender to the soup and blend until smooth or desired consistancy, it will look a bit creamy from the tortillas. Add the corn and black beans, cook for another 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle into bowls, top with tortilla strips and any other garnish you may want.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Saturday night outing and marble cake..

Happy Monday and first day of March.  Day light savings is coming upon us.  I can't wait!!!  It's been off and on rain over the weekend. Friday evening it started raining non stop through Saturday morning. Then Saturday night it was so flippen cold....burrrrr! More rain tonight or tomorrow.  Bring it on!
  Saturday night Dave and I went out.  Dave works most weekends, only gets one day off a week,so when he gets home early from work it's really nice.  Saturday night Keaton was staying the night at a friends house and Dave got home a bit early so we took advantage of the night and went out.  There's not a whole lot to do out here, there is a casino but we only go there to visit our friend who bartends at the nice restaurant .  We do have some really nice restaurants and some with cozy bars so we decided to start the night out at Mattei's Tavern, Los Olivos.
The tavern was built in 1886 as you can see in the above description.  Right now there are no rooms available to stay in but the most recent owners, want to add on and make it into an inn as well.  
Since we have company often it's nice to go and experience first hand all of the restaurants and bars in the area... you know so we can recommend places to go to... right? lol!    So here we have the bar area.  I found this pic online so that's why there are no people in it.  The place was packed when we were there!  We sat at this bar, had a drink and an amazing appetizer of the most awesome tasting spring rolls that were filled with crunchy veggies, layered on top of a fresh cabbage, bell pepper, mushroom salad/slaw with a spicy plum sauce.  I didn't take a pic but we keep talking about these spring rolls. 
Here is the picture of the Lobby.  Again not the night we went but to the right is where the bar is and there is another fireplace with a couple of couches and a coffee table in between that you can eat at if you wish.
After our drink and appetizer we moved on to one of our favorite places to eat, the Los Olivos Cafe.   We were seated  right by the fire. Very warm and toasty.  I enjoyed a nice glass of wine, salad and a tapenade, pesto, sundried tomato pizza.  What a nice night we had.

Okay now on to some yummy dessert.  Since we are only a family of three, unless I'm having company over, I will use my small bundt pan and it makes the perfect size cake.  Marble cake has been on my mind as of late so that's what I made.  The recipe I chose was by Mihl from Seitan is My Motor .   This cake is extremely moist and it's just so so good.  This is a keeper and one I will be making again for guests.  Since I used the small bundt pan I halved the recipe.  I think I will also use more chocolate in the mix.  I also topped it off with a chocolate ganache. 

Enjoy your Monday!