Friday, July 30, 2010

Can pickles? Yes, you can!

My family likes pickles.  A lot.  And this week we were given a load of home-grown cucumbers, and so I decided to can some pickles.
I have seen it done before... never attempted it myself.
It turns out that it isn't so difficult. 
Here is the recipe from the world-famous Tompkins Family Cookbook:

Fresh dill heads (the part that looks like fireworks... you want green ones, not brown)
1 quart vinegar (I used white vinegar)
3 quarts water
1 cup canning salt
1/2 tsp. tumeric
3 or 4 bay leaves
Cucumbers (sliced as you like them)
Garlic cloves, peeled

Pack clean jars with cucumbers and 1 head of dill  and 1 clove of garlic in each jar.  Bring water, vinegar, salt, tumeric, and bay leaves to a boil.  Pour into jars over cucumbers.  Fill to 1/2 inch below the rim.  Seal jars.  Turn jars upside down for 15 minutes.

I quartered the recipe... and made four pint jars... I know this picture has only three.  The fourth jar was nearly empty by the time I took the picture.

Make sure your jars are clean and sanitized.  Lids too.

Makes a delicious breakfast!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

what's more granola than granola?

Homemade Granola!

Basic fat free granola:
Cook 1/2 cup of oats with 1 cup of water and a tiny pinch of salt to make oatmeal.  Add about 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla (or other flavor extract... I like almond and coconut too).  Mix well.  Add 4-5 cups of dry oats.  Add mix-ins, if desired.

Here are some mix-in suggestions:
coconut flakes
flax seeds
sunflower seeds
wheat bran
olive oil
coconut oil
peanut butter

Spread in a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake at 325 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until golden.  Stir every 10 minutes or so.

Dried fruit should not be added until granola is baked and cooled... or the fruit will dry out and be really hard.

This is not an exact recipe... feel free to improvise.

Vegan Double Chocolate Cookies

I finally bought some egg substitute at Kroger.  It is a powder that comes in a box and it used to replace eggs in recipes.  Also, I recently discovered coconut oil for baking and cooking.  It is easy to use... and delicious.  It is not low fat, but it is cholesterol-free... and vegan!  And I love that there is only one ingredient... coconut oil.  Nothing else. 
So here is a recipe with these two ingredients.

2/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
egg replacement equivalent to one egg (see package instructions... usually 2 Tbsp water plus 2 tsp powder)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa (I like Trader Joe's cocoa)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2/3 cups chocolate chips or chunks (I like mixing both dark chocolate and unsweetened chocolate chunks)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat coconut oil and sugar together until creamy.  Add egg replacement and vanilla, mix well.
In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients.  Gradually add to wet ingredients and mix well.  Add chocolate chips or chunks.
Drop onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake 8-9 minutes or until just set.  Do not overbake.
Makes 30 delicious cookies.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

almond milk

Recently Mom bought some almond milk.  She loved it so much she told everyone to try it... and I did.  And it is delicious.  Unfortunately, it is not cheap.
So I found this excellent tutorial on making almond milk.
And I tried making some myself.

The results: homemade almond milk isn't as thick or silky as store bought... but homemade doesn't have all of the emulsifiers, etc.  Maybe if I had an industrial blender (Blendtec or Vitamix) it would be silkier.  It was simple to make.  It was delicious (I sweetened mine with a little agave).

Bottom line:  I'll make it again.  And make it better next time.
Izak is illustrating the title of our blog: VeggieMars!

My friend Anne Bean has some great recipes on her blog, including my favorite whole wheat dinner roll recipe. Here is a link:

Tuesday's Dinner

Tuesday's dinner consisted 0f Italian Wedding Soup and Oatmeal Dinner Rolls. I made up a large batch of soup and rolls a few weeks ago, threw the leftovers in the freezer, and enjoyed the ease of just heating it up.
Vegetable broth (see below)
Spinach (I like using fresh)
Trader Joe's meatballs (Sarah turned me on to this brand)
Acini di Pepe, Ditilani, or other small pasta
Seasonings - salt, pepper, parsley, oregano or italian seasoning, garlic
Regular or Vegan parmesan cheese (optional)
Chop carrots, celery, and onion and saute in small amount of olive oil. Add vegetable broth and simmer. Bake meatballs and add them to soup. (I like to chop them up into small pieces). Season and add pasta and cook till almost done. Add spinach during the last few minutes of cooking. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top to serve.

Tip: Vegetable broth is pretty expensive to buy and it is easy to make your own. I save all washed vegetable peelings, leaves, stalks, etc. (carrots/onion, skin and all / celery / potatoes / leek stalks / etc.) and throw them in a gallon bag in the freezer. I keep adding vegetable "compost" until the bag is full. Then I simply cover them with water and simmer. Sometimes I roast the "compost" before I simmer it in water. The flavor is a little different. The broth can then be frozen in small batches for later use.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Veggie Tales from Mars

Since most of our family members have been cursed with high cholesterol, many of us are taking steps to eat a healthier diet. I personally love to hear about what my children are cooking up and what tasty new products they discover, because it inspires me and gives me new ideas to try. One of my favorite salad dressings is Creamy Maple Dressing.
1/2 C Canola oil
1/4 C Maple syrup
1/4 C Vegan mayonnaise
3 Tbsp White wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar or agave nectar
salt/pepper to taste
Whisk together all but oil. Gradually whisk in oil to emulsify and stir until it thickens slightly.
Serve over a bed of mixed greens, chopped apples, dried cranberries, and chopped toasted nuts.

Tip: I like my cranberries plumped. It is as easy as putting cranberries in a bowl of water. Microwave for 30-60 seconds. Drain and cool.

GLAZED NUTS are a nice addition to this salad:
Beat 1 egg white until foamy. Add 1/2 C brown sugar, 1 tsp cloves, 1 tsp ginger, 1 Tbsp vanilla, and 1 pound of nuts. Stir to coat and bake on cookie sheet at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

CINNAMON CROUTONS are also a nice addition:
Cut hearty bread into cubes. Toss with melted Earth Balance Spread. Then toss with cinnamon and sugar. Bake on cookie sheet at 300 degrees until lightly browned. Cool.