Thursday, October 28, 2010

Good-bye, sweet Winston

Winston LeRoi Jones
6-24-98 - 10-27-10

We are heart-broken to loose our sweet boy, Winston. He brought us so much joy. He was a bright light and we miss him terribly.

When I fell sleep last night I didn’t know

That you would leave today.

You went so quickly and I’m left here

With all these things around me

That remind me that you are gone

And I don’t know what to do.

Your dinner bowl sits there

By the big green water bowl.

It still has speckles of your breakfast

And I can’t bear to wash it.

So your papa does it

And I can hear him crying.

Your toys are still in the basket

But I know you won’t mind

If I leave them there for

Your brother to use.

Your bed has a clean blanket because

I couldn’t stand to leave it empty.

Your papa cries again

This time because he found

Your brand new dog tag

Lying on his desk.

How will I sleep tonight

Without you curled into my belly?

Who will sit and give me the

Silent Stare that says “Let me out,”

But what it really means is

“Go get me a treat”?

Your brother doesn’t stand

At the door and bark like you do.

And I know I really need

To clean the blood spots off

The top stair but I don’t want to

Because it feels like

I am washing you away,

Sweet boy.

These tears keep on coming

Falling, rolling, pouring now.

They don’t wash away the hurt.

I knew that you would be leaving soon

But when I went to sleep last night

I didn’t dream it would be today.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Moroccan "Chicken" Stew

I love fall! It is my hands-down favorite season. I love the smell of a wood fire in the fireplace. I love the changing color of the leaves, the color of a September sky, a full October moon. I love crisp mornings and warm, sunny afternoons. I love brilliant hardy mums, and bright pansies. I love college football (GO CARDS!) and I love NFL football (GO COLTS!)

I love winter squash and fall crop greens, pu
mpkins, cabbage, and broccoli. I love thick, hearty soups and stews with warm, crusty bread just out of the oven.

So, without further ado, here is today's recipe: Moroccan "Chicken" Stew. This has become one of my all-time favorite dishes. It is true fall fare - comforting, sweet and spicy and savory all at the same time
. This dish is easy and quick to boot! It comes with a bit of controversy, however, and here it is: It calls for honey. Honey is the one thing that I have never completely let go of in my vegan journey. I don't use it often, and a jar of raw, locally produced honey will last a very long in my pantry. And while I know about all the vegan substitutes (feel free to use any of them you prefer), for this dish, I use honey. Let the beatings begin......

Moroccan "Chicken" Stew
1 lb vegan soy nuggets

2 tbs olive oil
2 red bell peppers, chopped

2 green bell peppers, chopped

2 red onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp salt
2 fresh tomatoes, pureed (or 1 can crushed tomatoes)

1/4 cup honey
2 cans chickpeas, drained.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add peppers, onion, and garlic and cook 5-6 minutes.

Add cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook another few minutes. Add tomatoes, honey, and chickpeas. Stir to combine and cook another 5 minutes.

Stir in vegan chicken. Simmer for 1
5-20 minutes. Serve over rice. Add a salad with this Vegan Ranch Dressing and some fresh crusty bread.

Here is a quick dessert I made this weekend too. You may have made this or some variation of this cake, but this was my first time, and I was really impressed. This was so easy to throw together!

Pumpkin Spice Cake

1 18-oz spice cake mix (read t
he ingredients to be sure it's vegan)
1 15-oz can of pureed pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 glass baking dish or a square baking pan.

Combine the cake mix and pumpkin puree. Mix well. Add any or all of the optional ingredients you desire (see below). Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Frost with Vegan Cream Cheeze Icing.

Optional ingredients:

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/3 cup raisins soaked in rum for 30 minutes
1/3 cup chopped nuts

Ranch Dressing

1 cup Tofutti sour cream
1 not chikn bullion cube dissolved in 3-4 tbs water
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp onion granules
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning - optional
3-4 tbs unsweetened soy milk - more or less according to desired thickness

Whisk all ingredients together and chill before serving.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Favorite Things (or Things I Can't Cook Without).....

She's baaaaaaack.......

Sorry for the long absence. Life has been kinda nuts. Like I said in my last post, there has been a vacation (white-water rafting in Tennessee), 2 car accidents (a fender-bender on the freeway and the garage door opener malfunctioned and smashed my car), a bad case of bronchitis which set off my asthma in a big way, work madness, and lots of fun stuff going on in the sports and fitness ministry of my church, where I volunteer teaching spin and doing other cool stuff.

Then there is the fact that my little poodle, Winston, is sick with a mysterious illness that causes his nose to bleed. That all by itself has made me a basket case. The last severe bleed put him in the veterinary ICU for 4 days. He is home now and sometimes he goes for 3-4 days with no bleeding, but usually there is at least a small trickle of blood. I say mysterious because the vets that have examined him all concur that this is most likely a nasal carcinoma, but all the scopes and scans he has had reveal nothing other than inflammatory tissue. No tumor at all. He doesn't act sick - he eats well and he is energetic and happy and doesn't act like a 12-year-old dog.

Statistically, dogs who demonstrate this kind of bleeding and are diagnosed with kind of cancer are usually dead within 90 days of diagnosis. Winston's first bleed occurred over 2 years ago. I don't know - maybe it's his vegan diet keeping him alive. And maybe it's his sweet nature and tenacious spirit.

I'm happy to say that I am healthy and exercising again, although the bronchitis interrupted my training for the Army 10-miler to the point that I had to withdraw from the race. Sorry Jenny - you're gonna rock it even without your mom! You too, Jason!

I've been relying on lots of tried-and-true favorite standby recipes. Not much experimenting or innovating lately. So, I thought I'd write about some of the things you will always find in my pantry, spice cabinet, fridge/freezer. If I have these things on hand, I can always come up with a tasty, healthy vegan meal. These are items that I will buy even if they aren't an ingredient in my meal plan for the week, just because there will usually be a glitch in the plan or something unexpected come up during the week where I need something quick and easy. So, here they are, in no particular order.

With Vegenaise (I think this is the only decent-tasting vegan mayo) and some relish (I like dill best), I can use a can of chickpeas, some poultry seasoning, and some celery seed to make chickpea salad. Makes yummy sandwiches!

Vital gluten for seitan, vegan sausages, or chickpea cutlets is a must.

Many different herbs and spices. Cumin, ginger, cumin seed, fennel seed
, coriander, thyme, basil, rosemary, chili powders (ancho, chipotle, regular - several to choose from), marjoram, herbs de provence, poultry seasoning, several paprikas, several curry powders, garam masala, saffron, fenugreek.... the list goes on and on. If I have to choose a few I can't live without, I'd have to say cumin, cumin seeds, coriander, basil, thyme, and a couple I'll mention later. Thanks to Paul for installing the sheet of stainless steel which holds the magnetized canisters.

Yeah, I know this is funky-looking. These are chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. They come in a small can in the Mexican foods section. I never use but one or two of them at a time, so I put the rest in a plastic freezer bag and store them in the freezer til I need them. These are delicious in Cashew Chili-Lime Sauce.

For soups or stews.

Pan-roasted broccoli is the BEST!

Tahini for roasted cauliflower, seitan, or hummus.

Slice these sausages up with cabbage or pizza or grill them just like brats!

Sometime I just like a bowl of rice cooked in broth.

I always have several types of pasta. Rotini or fusilli is my favorite because the ridges hold whatever sauce you use. Easy tomato sauce and Cashew Chili-Lime sauces are my favorites.

Always buy organic soy milk. Organic will never be made from genetically modified soy beans. I like to have unsweetened on hand for sauces that don't need to be sweet.

I go through this stuff like water.

Coconut milk - the large can is the lite to save calories. Bit I keep a small can of full fat when I want more richness and flavor. For Asian recipes, especially soups, and adding richness to baked goods.

These are the best canned tomatoes ever. Throw a can in the blender, add one clove of garlic, some basil and thyme, an a bit of salt. Process, then add a little unsweetened soymilk. Heat. Voila! Almost instant Tomato Bisque!

I keep a variety of canned beans on hand. Hummus, chickpea cutlets, soups, chickpea salad. Lots of quick easy meals start with a can of beans.

Had to include this tea. We make tea in our coffee maker. It's crazy how much tea we drink. Four tea bags and 1/2 cup raw sugar make one gallon of the best iced tea any southern girl ever drank!

Red lentils are a life saver! They are a great meat substitute in pasta sauce and make a delicious dahl. Even my dogs eat red lentils!

Paul loves to snack on these,but I keep them on hand to make Cashew Chili-Lime Sauce, which takes about 5 minutes to make and is wonderful on veggies and pasta.

Red pepper flakes are one of those things I try to never run out of. Even if you don't want much heat in a dish, red pepper flakes add depth and flavor to any recipe.

Yes, fresh is always better, but when you're in a hurry...... And note, these are GRANULES not powder. Yes, there is a difference.

Smoked paprika, how do I love thee...... I love thee in cabbage, I love thee in seitan, I love thee in vegan sausages...... If you have never tried it, you really must buy some smoked paprika. It is my new favorite spice.

I really cannot cook without these wonderful veggie cubes. Rice, soups, seitan, I use them in everything!

Full spectrum sea salt has not been bleached or processed. It has less sodium and lots of trace minerals, including iodine, that are lost when salt is processed. Try some pink Himalayan sea salt and you'll never go back!

My kitchen shuts down when I run out of nutritional yeast. Really. I use it just abut everything. Seitan, salads, sauces, you name it. I try to buy it in bulk and when I have to buy the cannister, I save it to store the yeast in.

This is one of those ingredients that once you try it, you'll use it in everything. Use it in any recipe that calls for soy sauce and in many recipes instead of salt.

So, there are most the things I have on hand on any given day. I'm sure there are probably other things I could have mentioned, but these are the biggies.

What are the ingredients you can't do without? I have learned about many of these items by reading other blogs. Leave me a comment. Maybe I'll learn about a new can't-live-without ingredient!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Amazing Chickpea Salad

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic granules
1/4 tsp onion granules
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1/4 cup dill relish
1/4 - 1/2 cup vegenaise
salt and black pepper to taste

Place chickpeas in a food processor and pulse several time until chickpeas are chunky but not smooth.

Scrape chickpeas into a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Combine well. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Serve with crackers or as a sandwich.

Rich, Spicy, Delicious Chili-Lime Sauce

1 cup raw cashews
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1-2 clove garlic

2 cups boiling water (if you are cooking pasta, use some of the pasta water)

1/2 tsp onion granules

1-2 chipotle peppers plus 1 tbs adobo sauce

zest and juice of 1 lime
soy milk to thin as needed

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Add teaspoons of soy milk if sauce is too thick.

Serve over pasta or veggies.