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Monday, October 26, 2009

Organics to You October 26, 2009, and Apples!

Saturday saw us out in Parkdale with friends to check out the heirloom apple/pear/Asian pear tasting day at Kiyokawa Family Orchards. A fave from last autumn, we wanted to take our friends to enjoy tasting the many varieties they grow there as well as pick a bunch to make applesauce. Turned out the apples had all been picked, but we still had a great time trying many varieties we'd never heard of before. 31 pounds of fruit later (that's just us), we were loaded up and off to our next stop.

Rasmussen Farms saw us leave with several fun gourds, a couple of pounds each of fresh, local walnuts & hazelnuts, ornamental corn, and 2 smallish Hubbard squash. Yes, I know we have a bunch of these in the basement, but these are the blue type we didn't grow. Oh yes, and pumpkins. There are 7 of them on our front steps. 6 of them Christie and I picked out. What can I say, we were having fun.

Into this collection of squash and apples arrived our first box from Organics to You. I offered to take it from the deliver guy, but he then offered to put inside for me because, "its heavy".

I ripped off the tape and opened the box to see a lovely bunch of red kale, some baby bok choy, radishes, chioggia beets, chunky carrots, onions, garlic, a huge head of broccoli, a head of purple cabbage bigger than my head (seriously), 2 big leeks, a half pint of kiwi berries and more fruit. 4 more apples, 3 more Asian pears and 3 red Bartlett pears. Uh yeah.

One good sized box of produce and a fridge already filled to the brim with mostly apples...

Yep, time to make the apple sauce. I chopped up 8 quarts of mixed varieties of apples and a few pears that needed to be used. Cooked until we had a chunky sauce and added the zest & juice from a medium sized Meyer lemon. That's it. Nothing else needed for that much deliciousness. I'm waiting on the water in the canner to boil, 20 minutes in the bath then we have lovely applesauce for the rest of the year and to go into the little gift baskets we're planning to do this winter for people.

That helped some. While the apples were doing the cooking thing I threw some Great Northern beans into the pressure cooker. Drained them when done and cleaned out the cooker to make soup. Into the pot I sauteed a bunch of garlic and most of the leeks, celery & Russet potatoes were added. Water, salt, pepper, and a sprig of fresh rosemary in the covered cooker, on high pressure for 8 minutes. Release valve, add in half the red kale that was delivered today along with half the white beans. Simmer with salt, some nutritional yeast, and more pepper. Serve with croutons. Yum!

The other half of the beans, more garlic and the remaining leeks have been stewed together with a little rosemary sprig, olive oil, tarragon, and some diced celery. This gives a lot more flavor to the Great Northern beans, which are not Christie's favorite. These have been set aside for later this week when I'm going to revisit the whole squash/polenta baked casserole, but with the white beans and some fresh basil pesto.

By this evening's end there will be lots of applesauce in jars, soup in the fridge, and some progress made towards Wednesday or Saturday's dinners. I've had some ideas about the cabbage and how to use up all the produce that's coming along with what we had already here. Right now I'm really enjoying the challenge of making food for us primarily based on what is brought each week.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Tortilla Soup

  • 1 box Trader Joe's (or like) Creamy Red Pepper & Corn soup
  • 1 med sweet onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tbsp red taco sauce
  • ¼ tsp smoked chipotle chili powder
  • 1 bag frozen soup veggies
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with cilantro & lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

To Prepare:

  • Heat a large stock-pot to medium. Add olive oil.
  • Add diced onion and saute covered for 4-5 min.
  • Add garlic and saute for 2-3 min.
  • Add in frozen veggies and saute covered for 5 min.
  • Add tomatoes and heat for 5 min.
  • Add in boxed corn soup, taco sauce and chipotle powder and stir well.

Serve over pasta or soy curls with sour cream, fresh cilantro, lime wedges and toasted or fried tortilla strips.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Squash, squash, squash!

This is truly a "Nothing but food porn" kind of post. Immediately after the post that I'd be making all kinds of updates for Vegan MoFo 2009 I was diagnosed with an apparently months old sinus infection. Many days of antibiotics later I'm feeling a lot better and am having the energy to work on projects, writing, etc.

Did I happen to mention that Christie decided we should grow winter squash this year? The result is pounds and pounds of the stuff keeping cool down in the basement. I've not yet started on creative ways to cook the spaghetti squash, but I've been doing the Delicata and Hubbard styles a couple of different and successful ways.

First of all, a very homey, Japanese inspired stew of Hubbard squash, tomatoes, garlic, onions, Aduki beans, cooked with red miso and black sesame seeds (honestly because they look more dramatic with the squash). Everything but the beans go into the pressure cooker and 8 minutes on high-pressure later you have piping hot stew. Add the pre-cooked beans, some Nappa cabbage, and a good teaspoon or so of toasted sesame oil. Simmer until the cabbage has softened and serve with brown rice, bread, whatever. There's very nearly a recipe for this one done since Christie's mom got out her notebook and grilled me on what I'd done when the family was up here earlier this month.

The other winter squash winner has been a complete re-do of a recipe we tried last year. We had liked the casserole of squash, pinto beans and polenta but found it kind of uninspired. Great base ingredients, but lacking in a lot of places. The big thing we thought wasn't right was the polenta being at the bottom of the casserole where it never really firms up right.

This afternoon I slow roasted 3 of the Delicata from the basement stash and let them cool. I also put on a pot of diced, unsalted tomatoes and pre-cooked pinto beans. We had chili recently, so I threw a little in as well as adding sweet, smoked paprika, chili powder and cumin powder. I let all the juice cook out of the beans until it was just the chunks of tomatoes & beans coated in the reduction of the juice.

In checking around for cooking times, ratios, etc. for the polenta I discovered it is another thing that can be made in the pressure cooker. Fried about a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds ('cause that's all that's left in the house - yikes) in 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Added 3 large cloves of garlic, diced and two hot, dried chili pods (seeded). Then the polenta, water, sweet, smoked paprika, chili powder and cumin powder. 5 minutes on high-pressure then let sit to come down and release the lock (about 10 minutes). Perfect polenta!

The dish came together with the mashed squash in the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish, coated with spray oil (like soup/stew I can't seem to make smaller quantities of casseroles). A generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast, add the bean/tomato mix, and top the whole thing with the polenta. Into a 350 oven for 30 minutes. Broil on high until the top is golden with a few toasty bits. Cool a bit and enjoy. Total redo of the recipe that we tried last year, absolutely what we wished it had been!

Real recipes for both dishes coming soon as well as my experiments with the spaghetti squash! We've also been experimenting with au gratin/scalloped potatoes and are on track with mucho yumminess in time for Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vegan MoFo 2009

Today kicks off a flurry of vegan blogging for Vegan MoFo (Month of Food). Started in 2007 by Isa Chandra as a way to give a vegan spin on NaNoWriMo. Two years later and there scores of vegan bloggers signed up to write. I have listed both my personal blog as well as the Cooking Club here and will be making posts to both!

That said -- I'm hoping everyone will throw in a few extra recipes, reviews, rants, and posts about why you choose to be vegan. I'll be putting up some new recipes, wax nostalgic (already) for the apple bananas in Hawai'i, talk more about my experiment with Dropping the Food Chatter, apple food porn, and field trip to an orchard (10/24, Hood River, I'll be posting more details elsewhere).

Look for the VeganMoFo2009 tag for the posts. Check out the other blogs. Send us some recipes, places to review, products to try!