Category Archives: Project

Fast & Easy Garlic Dill Pickled Green Tomatoes – #TastyThursday

PicklesThe last few #TastyThursday and #ScrumptiousSunday posts have been centered around unripened green tomatoes, and today I wanted to bring one last amazing recipe using what many people find useless.  How about some garlic dill pickled green tomatoes?   For some reason I find that some folks are intimidated by doing home pickling – when there’s really not much effort in it!   Home pickling is not only more tasty, but it’s incredibly cheap as well.  When it comes to picking anything – the only limits are the lack of imagination!

If you’re anything like me, your taste buds do backflips for pickled veggies!   The most tedious  aspect to any pickling process is waiting, but who says you have to wait?  This recipe (which you can use most anything other than green tomatoes) will give you ready to eat pickled green tomatoes in under an hour…or a few hours if you want them chilled.

  • 12-18 green tomatoes (about 3 lbs)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 4 small cloves garlic
  • 4 pint size canning jars

Prepare canning jars.  Slice all the green tomatoes in half.  Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.

Place 1 head fresh dill or 1 tsp dill seeds and 1 clove garlic into each jar; pack in green tomatoes. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over green tomatoes to within 1/2 inch of rim (head space).  Process for 15 minutes.

Garlic may turn blue or green in the jar. Nothing to be alarmed about, it is only the effect of the acid on the natural pigments in the garlic.

That’s it!

Tip:  For more garlic flavor, add an extra clove!   For a little kick, add some chilli peppers.  We added jalapeño and banana peppers.

Live Well – Eat Well – Be Well

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Mason Jar Jack-O’-Lanterns

Make your jack-o'-lantern as silly or scary as you like!

Make your jack-o’-lantern as silly or scary as you like!

I can’t believe that tomorrow begins the month of October.   The countdown to Halloween is officially here!   For me, Halloween is such a fun season to use creativity and imagination with everything from costumes to food, decorations, and more.  When most stores are overstocked with the same old, boring, commercial “Made in China” Halloween decor…using one’s creativity is essential.

Fortunately I have a fiancé who loves Halloween just as much as I do, maybe even a little more.   Last week he came up with the brilliant idea of reusing some mason jars with some of our existing arsenal of craft supplies to make these adorably cute mason jar jack-o’-lanterns!  So I wanted to share this with all of my readers so you can join in on the fun too!   It really doesn’t get more easy to make and most of the supplies you probably already have.

  • Mason jar
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Orange tissue paper
  • Black construction paper
  • Green ribbon
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Rice
  • Tealight candle
  1. Cut strips of orange tissue paper and lightly glue them vertically to the outside of your mason jar.
  2. With a pencil, draw eyes, a nose, and mouth on the black construction paper and cut them out.   Great jack-o’-lantern face patterns are available for free downloaded on the internet if you need some added inspiration.
  3. Glue the face cutouts to the outside of the mason jar.
  4. Wrap the green ribbon around the mouth of the mason jar and tie a bow for extra cuteness.   You could also add some crafty extras like fake vine, leaves, etc. if you like.
  5. Slightly fill the bottom of the mason jar with rice and put a lit tealight down in the center.

Voila!   Now you have yourself a cute, little mason jar jack-o’-lantern!

Fried Green Tomatoes – #ScrumptiousSunday

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Add some homemade spicy-mayo and artificial bacon bits to your fried green tomatoes to kick it up a notch!

You say tomato, I say tomahto…we both say delicious!   This past #TastyThursday I mentioned our abundance of ripe and green tomatoes in our last harvest from the garden, and I said I would post some more delicious recipes using green tomatoes such as Green Tomato Bread recipe.  Today I give you Fried Green Tomatoes!

There’s a debate about where fried green tomatoes actually originated from.   Some say the South and others say the Midwest.  When my German/Russian family immigrated to the United States, the majority of them settled in the Midwestern states…Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois.  I grew up on many delicious dishes such as Fried Green Tomatoes, each recipe carrying with it a long story of where/who it originated from.  Being that most American hadn’t even heard of the idea of battering such un-ripened fruit and frying it in a well seasoned cast iron skillet until the 1991 classic film, Fried Green Tomatoes, the Midwest theory really pans out.  I also did some in-depth online reading, and I hate to burst the bubble of some, but Fried Green Tomatoes are by no means a Southern dish…the accurate debate is whether they’re originally Midwestern or Northeastern!   But enough of about where they came from as we can all agree that they should be enjoyed by everyone!

For the Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 6 – 8 firm green tomatoes
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 cups of almond or soy milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

Slice green tomatoes to medium thickness and sprinkle lightly with salt, let stand for 5 minutes.

Prepare your dredging bowls:  In the first bowl, add almond or soy milk.  In a second bowl combine and mix all-purpose flour, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and black pepper.   In a third bowl, add bread crumbs.

Dredging Method

  1. Dip each green tomato slice in the almond or soy milk.
  2. Coat it in all-purpose flour mixture.
  3. Dip once again in the almond or soy milk.
  4. Coat in seasoned bread crumbs.
  5. Gently stack on a plate and set aside.

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high.  To test, drop a tiny piece of bread crumb in oil.  It should immediately crackle when ready.

With tongs gently place each dredged green tomato slice in hot oil.  Be sure not overcrowd.  Fry 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy.   When done, remove green tomatoes and gently place on a paper towel lined plate.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

Spicy-Mayo Sauce

  • 3/4 cup Vegenaise®
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder

Whisk all ingredients together with a fork in a small bowl.  Drizzle over fried green tomatoes.  For some added flare, sprinkle with artificial bacon bits!

Live Well – Eat Well – Be Well

Green Tomato Bread – #TastyThursday

A perfect and unique fall bread - great for brunch or a quick breakfast with coffee or tea.  These tasty loaves make great gifts for friends and neighbors too!

A perfect and unique fall bread – great for brunch or a quick breakfast with coffee or tea. These tasty loaves make great gifts for friends and neighbors too!

This year we’ve been kissed by the tomato Gods!   We’ve probably had over 250 ripened tomatoes from our garden and we just did our last harvest this week.   Given that fall is making itself known – we had over 3 dozen green tomatoes which needed clipped as the days are already too short (lack of sun) and the nighttime temperatures have noticeably cooled to temperatures that tomato plants are not fond of.

There’s no need to fret over an abundance of green tomatoes though!   Green tomatoes (which are not fully ripened) can be just a delicious as the bright red fruit, given that you know what to do with them.  So don’t worry about paper bagging your green tomatoes or God forbid, throwing them out…as I will dedicate the next few #TastyThursday and #ScrumptiousSunday posts to some of our favorite recipes using green tomatoes.  Today I give you: Green Tomato Bread!   This delicious bread has the familiarity of zucchini or banana bread, with the unique and tasty cut from the high acidity of green tomatoes.  Oh, and it’s easy!  Bon Appétit!

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup banana, purée
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in large bowl.  Make a well in the center of mixture.

Combine the banana, oil, and vanilla; stir well.   Add to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.  Fold in the tomatoes and pecans.

Spoon the batter into 2 greased and floured 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack.  Enjoy!

Live Well – Eat Well – Be Well

Cinnamon Swirl Bread – #TastyThursday

photo 4 (5)This is one of many delicious recipes from one of my favorite vegan recipe books, Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites.  What I love some much about this recipe is that it’s completely versatile.   Serve it with some marmalade for an amazing brunch or enjoy it warm after dinner with a generous scoop of your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream.

The name “Cinnamon Swirl Bread” is a little deceiving as this is more like a sticky, gooey, old-fashioned cinnamon roll…which is probably why I like it so much!  So be sure to serve it with a fork, and try it with raisins and/or nuts for some added awesomeness!

 

For the Dough

  • 1 cup soymilk, heated to lukewarm
  • 1/4 cup water, heated to lukewarm
  • 1/3 cup evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Swirl

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons nondairy butter, melted

To Make the Dough

photo 1 (11)Combine the soymilk, water and 1 tbs of the sugar in a small bowl.  Stir in the yeast and let sit for a few minutes until bubbles appear.  Add 2 tbs of the oil to the mixture.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, remaining sugar, and salt.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until combined.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pliable, adding more flour as needed if the dough is too sticky.  This is a dry, stiff dough, but it should still be workable.

Lightly coat a large bowl with the remaining 1/2 tsp oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and gently turn to coat.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes.

To Make the Swirl

photo 3 (8)Combine the swirl ingredients into a paste and set aside.

Gently deflate the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes.

Roll the dough into a rectangle 8 inches wide by 24″ long.  Spread the cinnamon paste thinly and evenly onto the dough.   Starting at the short end, tightly roll up the dough.  Cut into 2 separate loaves.  Place the rolled-up dough, seam side down, into an 8×4 inch loaf pan.  Let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the outer crust is golden brown and hard to the touch. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Alternative: press down 1/2 cup raisins and/or 1/2 cup chopped pecans into the rolled out dough.

Tasty Thursday – Chocolate Avocado Cake

Rich, dense, & creamy - the perfect cake!

Rich, dense, & creamy – the perfect cake!

I’m sure a few you have one eyebrow raised as you read the name of this recipe with skepticism.   Let me reassure you, this is to die for!

Now don’t get me wrong…this is not a low-calorie cake by any means, but it’s vegan!  And we need to remember that we’re allowed to indulge in the incredibly sweeter things in life, in moderation of course.

The unique thing about this cake is that avocado is not only baked into the chocolate cake itself, but it’s also one of the main ingredients in the rich buttercream frosting as well.  I will tell you that the key to making this cake a success is fully RIPE avocados!   If you’re avocados are not yet ripe, be sure to put them in a paper bag and wait…patience is everything!

For the Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond oil (vegetable oil would work too)
  • 1/2 cup soft avocado, well mashed (about 1 medium avocado)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch rounds and set aside.

Sift together all of the dry ingredients except the sugar.  Set that aside too.

Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl, including the super mashed avocado.  Add sugar into the wet mix and stir.  Mix the wet with the dry all at once, and beat with a whisk (by hand) until smooth.

Pour batter into a greased cake tins. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting with avocado buttercream.

For the Avocado Buttercream Frosting

  • 8 ounces of avocado meat (about 2 small to medium, very ripe avocados)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 pound sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peel and pit the soft avocados.  Again, it’s important to use the ripest avocados you can get your hands on!  If the avocados have brown spots in the meat, avoid those spots when you scoop the meat into the bowl.

Place the avocado meat into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment.  Add lemon juice and whisk the avocado on medium speed, until slightly lightened in color and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and beat.  Add vanilla extract until combined.

Garnish with some fresh fruit, I used strawberries.  If not using right away, store in the refrigerator.  Don’t worry.  It won’t turn brown!

 

 

 

Fig Galette – #TastyThursday

A very simple vegan Fig Galette

A very simple vegan Fig Galette

It’s fig season!

Get figgy with it!

Tis the season to be figgy!

British cookery writer Elizabeth David once said, ““To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean.” 

I love figs!   I love eating fig off the tree!!  I love fig preserves, seared figs, fig pastries, figs in salads, poached figs, and so on.  Here’s one of my favorite and very simple fig recipes!   Bon Appétit!

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 4 Tablespoons ice water
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 lbs mission figs (tips cut off and discarded quartered)
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

For the crust:  Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter (or your clean hands) cut in the shortening to the mixture until coarse crumbly dough is formed.

In another small bowl, combine the ice water with the vinegar.  Drizzle 1/3 over the water over the flour mixture and stir.  Drizzle another 1/3 over the mixture and stir again.  Drizzle the rest of the water over the dough and form a soft dough ball.   If the mixture hasn’t come together, add another tablespoon of ice water. If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon of flour.  Pat dough into  disc shape.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Let sit in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Roll out dough to a 14-inch diameter round of even thickness. Place on a parchment or lined, rimmed baking dish.

Spread marmalade on the rolled out dough, leaving a 2-inch border along the edges. Arrange the quartered figs in a circular pattern, again leaving a 2-inch border.  Sprinkle sugar over the figs.

Fold the 2-inch bordered edge of the crust over the figs, pleating the crust.

Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake at 375°F for 45-50 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbly.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Piele Style Mashed Sweet Potatoes – #TastyThursday

The word is a wonderful place, partly due to delicious sweet potatoes!   There’s a gazillion and one ways to prepare them, and mashing them up into thick, creamy goodness is never a bad thing.   The key to good mashed sweet potatoes is remembering we’re not making a sugar loaded, Thanksgiving style sweet potato casserole or soufflé.   With this dish, it’s all about simple…concentrating solely on the tastiness and natural sweetness of the sweet potato.  This three-ingredient dish, known as piele in Hawaii, is fabulously simple. Coconut milk—an occasional indulgence because of the saturated fat—contributes rich flavor.   Be sure to try this simple recipe for your next dinner, picnic, or potluck!   Have a “sweet” Tasty Thursday!

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, (about 3 medium)
  • 3/4 cup “lite” coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places.  Microwave on high until tender all the way to the center, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Alternatively, place in a baking dish and bake at 425 F until tender all the way to the center, about 1 hour.

When cool enough to handle, peel off and discard skin.  Transfer the sweet potatoes to a medium microwaveable bowl and mash thoroughly with a potato masher.  Add coconut milk, ginger and salt; stir well.  Reheat in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, or in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.  Garnish with green onion or basil.  Serve warm.

You can also cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.  Reheat in the microwave or oven just before serving.

When Pets Speak to Psychics

Gracie & Luna get a psychic pet reading on FOX 5's Morning News on August 19, 2013.

Gracie & Luna get a psychic pet reading on FOX 5’s Morning News on August 19, 2013.

Last week Gracie (our labrador retriever mix) and I got an invitation from WTTG FOX 5’s Annie Yu to join her live on the set of the FOX 5’s Morning News for a special “Pet Project” segment with animal communicator and psychic, Diane Roadcap.   Gracie is an avid lover of everything water related…except baths!   She loves swimming and playing in the ocean, rivers, and creeks…but will do whatever it takes to avoid a bath.   Paul and I have always wondered why this is the case, so we gladly accepted the invitation in hopes that Diane could give us some insight as to Gracie’s thoughts and feelings.   Amanda Marie Bowen and her 2-year old deaf Great Dane, Luna were also invited on the show.   Of course some are probably skeptical about a pet psychic or any psychic for that matter…but I believe Diane had an amazing connection with Gracie, and I bet the same could be said by Amanda (the other segment guest) who brought Luna to have a reading as well.

Diane Roadcap’s website says, As a child, Diane recognized that she had a deep spiritual connection with animals.  Playing with a variety of animals in the wooded areas around her home outside of Washington, DC, she discovered that she could connect with them at a soul level.  This connection was confirmed at age five when her dog Blackie telepathically warned her that a poisonous snake was dangerously close to biting her.  She heeded his warning and slowly backed away before it could attack her.  She continued to receive communications from animals and discovered that she could  easily read their needs and wants, humor and insights, aches and ailments.”

While we were still in the green room, Diane already began reading our pets as well as Amanda and her family.   She knew that Gracie had a smaller, older K9 companion at home which would describe our 11-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, Tabatha.  She also mentioned another light-colored labrador which had passed away…of course I knew this was Heidi, a beautiful labrador who passed away when I was around 3-years old.   “She wants you to know she’s standing next to you”, Diane exclaimed.   I could have fallen out of my chair!   She went very into depth reading Amanda, her family, Luna, and their pets at home which I won’t go into detail, as it’s not my place to tell about that very special moment.

Do you believe in psychics?  As far back as I can remember, I have had ongoing contact and communication with human spirits who have passed away…family and strangers alike.   To my knowledge, there’s nobody in my family who has this “gift.”   Though the information given to me is often vague, it is something I’ve gotten used to and experience daily.   So it makes perfect sense to me that people have an ability and “gift” to fully communicate with pets, both passed and living.   But at the end of the day, we will believe what we know as truth and dismiss that which we don’t.   For me, I believe!

Besides learning that Gracie doesn’t like to be in a confined areas…she’s a very happy dog.   “She wouldn’t change a thing.   She loves people…the more people she’s around, the more she loves life”, Diane affirmed.

Below is a video from the segment.   Check it out!

My Body Will Not Be a Tomb

No Tomb

So here we go…a blog!   Who knew?   As I’m learning : veganism is not a diet.  It’s a lifestyle.   It reaches far beyond improving one’s health, compassion and respect for the kingdom animalia which we cohabit our planet with, and the respect and  protection of our natural resources – it’s a way of life.  It is a proactive way of living, spiritually nourishing one’s soul and opening one’s mind to new thoughts and ideas about the sacredness and even the mysteries of life.

So I started a blog!   I didn’t start this blog to “convince” non-vegans to explore veganism.   Nor did I start this to glorify the lifestyle.   I also didn’t embark in this project to flood this blog with endless, yummy, vegan recipes….though there will be moments for all that in their proper times.   This is more of an experimental outlet me to give my family, friends, and strangers alike a way to tap into my life journey in its entirety.   Perhaps we can journey together, and even learn from one another.   Isn’t that what life’s about?

This is my project to be as whole as I can be!   Call it what you will:  fulfillment, grace, nirvana, enlightenment, content, blessed…not rich, popular, or showcased, but whole.   This is the my journal in the quest to know love, and to be love.  Unconditional love.   Will you join me?

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