I Did Eat This Summer, I Promise.
You guys, I had a really awful and stressful summer. It started out fine, as you saw from the previous (so long ago!) post. Then it got kind of awesome, but then it got terrible with a quickness. So I didn’t feel much like blogging. But I’ve had some time to heal, and I’ve had a birthday. Birthdays always make me feel better, even when I don’t want them to. I can’t help it! They make me feel so loved, and this year my family and friends really outdid themselves. Therefore, I’m done feeling sorry for myself, and I’m ready to start doing things that make me feel good again. That means cooking, exercising (still working on that one), spending time with people I love, and…blogging! I always miss my blog-o-family when I put myself out of the loop.
So now I will show you the food! I know you all love my ramblings, but what you really want are scrumptious pictures. I faltered at photographing my dinners for a bit mid-summer, but I made an effort to snap a photo if something looked really yummy.
I went through a big preserves-making thing early on in the summer. I still want to get into making more (going to the farmers market is one of the things that make me happy that I need to start doing again), but it has lulled a bit. These are black forest preserves. That’s cherries and chocolate and amaretto cooked together with pectin to make a really amazing spread for toast, a bagel, ice cream, or as the ‘J’ in a PB&J! The omnivore boyfriend says that these make the ultimate PB&J. He’s right.
I kept saying during all the preserve-making that life after the apocalypse was going to be delicious. And how could it not be with blueberry-lime jam? My goodness, I’ve had regular blueberry jam (and I made some this summer as well, delicious!), and while it’s amazing, this concoction blows it out of the water. The lime adds a zip, a tartness, that just cannot be beat. I’m hoarding the few jars I have left of this one (a lot of my preserves were sold to co-workers) so that I can have that taste of summer in, oh, February, when I’m feeling as if I will never see the warm sun again.
I had about one million beets in the fridge at one point. And I can only roast so many (especially when it’s 95 degrees outside), so the omnivore boyfriend suggested that I try pickling them. He even promised to eat them if I did. I accepted his challenge, pickled some beets, and was surprised at how delicious they are! I had never eaten them before, because they just sound kind of gross to me, but the sweetness of the beets paired perfectly with the tart, salty pickling liquid. It makes me want to, dare I say, pickle some fruit. But I’ll jump off that ledge when I get to it.
I’m still engaging in my love affair with Appetite for Reduction. It’s just such a versatile cookbook, and the fact that I’ve loved about 95% of what I’ve made from it doesn’t hurt. It makes it feel safe to try new recipes. This, the upside-down lentil shepherd’s pie over caulipots, was just one such success. The lentils and mushrooms are a good contrast in texture, and all those veggies come together in a light gravy that is simply delicious.
The green beans with Thai basil (also AFR) made several appearances in my kitchen this summer. I grew Thai basil specifically so that I could make this and a couple of other recipes from the book that call for it, since it is un-findable in my town. The plants flourished, so I had plenty of the herb to make this dish again and again! Everyone loved it. Several friends asked for the recipe. So…you should all make them, seriously, do yourself a favor!
This has become another favorite of mine (still from AFR): mango BBQ beans. I’m always trying to eat more beans, and this dish is a surefire way to get them into me. Sweet, spicy, tangy…served over a pile of brown rice, they’re just so comforting and delicious.
More from AFR (can you tell I’m obsessed?)…2nd ave korma! I’ve really missed veggie korma since becoming vegan…that velvety curry sauce haunts my dreams! Ok, it’s not really that bad, but I really do wish I could have it sometimes. This was reminiscent of it, in an almost too healthy way. I loved the flavor, but I definitely added more coconut milk than the recipe called for. And the sauce was more of a broth rather than creamy. Still, it was tasty and light.
Hottie black-eyed peas and greens (AFR) with roasted turnips! I really only remember this dish tasting better than I thought it would. I’m not a huge fan of black-eyed peas, but the flavors of the greens were tasty. I would definitely add more spice next time.
I made the cranberry cashew biryani (still AFR!) to go along with the korma from above. It was good! That’s all I remember about it! (A lot of this stuff is from way back in June, so my memory is a bit fuzzy! I’m sorry!)
Cool slaw (AFR)! Man, I used to really hate cole slaw as an omnivore and vegetarian, but this stuff was delicious. I didn’t add as much vinegar as it called for (I’m not vinegar-savvy, guys), and it was perfect for me. So creamy, and it was the perfect side for the buffalo tempeh from the same book, which I don’t seem to have a picture of, but I’ve made a couple of times over the summer because it’s so darned delicious.
Ok! Last one from AFR (for this post, anyway): caldo verde! This stew-like meal was scrumptious. It had all the flavors of sausage, but then came together in a velvety broth with some greens (I used spinach, not sure what the recipe called for) for a really hearty, healthy, and comforting meal. I’m glad I stumbled across this photo, since it reminded me that I need to make it again!
I made this sumac quinoa as a side for a tofu scramble one weekend when my parents came for a visit. I’m always looking for ways to incorporate sumac into my dishes (I have this huge jar of it! No recipes ever call for it! Why did I buy it?!), and I really thought that the sour flavor would go along nicely with how I’d made the scramble. The peas are from my parents’ garden! I had never in my life had fresh peas before…I really want to grow some next year!
I normally don’t love stuffed peppers when they’re made with green peppers. Because I kind of hate cooked green peppers, unless they’re smothered in something (like with fajitas or whatever). However, this came together as a clean out the fridge meal, and they were actually really good! The grain is barley, mixed with fresh corn, blueberries (yeah, I would leave them out next time, but I was feeling saucy), some nutritional yeast, scallions, cumin…etc. The filling was delicious (despite the blueberries), and I really wish I had written down exactly what went into it. Ah well.
So, somehow I never showed this to you guys? I searched for it, and it never came up. Polenta rancheros from Vegan Brunch. I would do just about anything to have this for lunch right now. It was…mind-blowingly wonderful. The beans are incredibly flavorful, studded with (my favorite) whole coriander seeds, and the polenta was the creamiest. Topped with a bit of guacamole, scallions, and grape tomatoes…it’s my favorite main dish that I’ve made in a long time. Definitely need to make it again, and soon!
This is mushroom stroganoff, and I think it’s from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cooking Vegan. That book doesn’t get nearly enough good press. The recipes are simple, but delicious. And I love it! I also loved this stroganoff, even though I had to make my own sour cream to put in it (usually when a recipe calls for me making my own condiments, I run the other direction). It was all really easy, though, and totally worth it. The sour cream was good on top of baked sweet potatoes, too.
Greens and grits. You just don’t get more southern comfort-y than that. I actually made up the recipe for those grits, something really southwest-y, but I don’t have a good name for them and this picture kind of sucks, so maybe I’ll make them again someday and share the recipe. Because they were fabulous.
Yeah, I wrote this one down too, but this post is getting ridiculous long, so I’ll save it for another day. This is a cauliflower dhal, and it was wonderful.
Agave wheat buns from The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet. They were yummy! I’m always freaked out by how many ingredients are in store-bought bread, so I like to make my own (and yet…I am so lazy that I rarely do. Conundrum.), and these did not disappoint! I have yet to have a successful burger from that book yet, though, so I will hold onto my comments about the book until something works for me.
Finally! The end! I made my own baked jalapeno poppers, and you should too! I didn’t really follow a recipe, I just got some ideas from around the web and then put them together with ideas of my own about how they should be. The cheesy filling is cheddar Daiya (my new favorite cheese substitute! Good on grilled cheeses and inside quesadillas too!) mixed with some Tofutti cream cheese that I’d mixed some scallions and pepper into. Then I just cut all the peppers in half and cleaned out their insides, filled them up, and breaded them. Sounds simple, but the breading took awhile to master. I made an Ener-G egg slurry, and there was flour involved somehow, and then panko breadcrumbs at the end. They were baked in a 350 degree oven for about a half hour, and they came out oozing and wonderful. The omnivore boyfriend even liked them! I put most of them in the freezer so that I can have them sometime this fall for a football Sunday, so we’ll see how they reheat.
That’s it for today! I have more posts in my head, plus a cookbook review, so stay tuned!