January 26, 2018


Don't think there's a recipe for spring rolls here, but these look great!

I belong to a vegan group that gets together about once a month for lunch out. It's a fun way to enjoy great conversation and explore all the vegan restaurant options in our city. At the last event, one of my friends from the group, Sandra, told me she belongs to another vegan group in the nearby city of Bellevue, that holds a potluck every month. They choose a theme for the potluck by the 'idea-on-a-piece-of-paper-drawn-from-a-hat' method, and her idea was selected for the next potluck. I think they usually pick a popular vegan cookbook, but she wrote Andrea's easy vegan cooking on her piece of paper, and everyone was supposed to cook something from my blog. Would I like to come?

Roasted veggies

 A more extroverted, confident person might have been thrilled and honored, but I was horrified. I tried to remain calm and 'normal' but I was experiencing thoughts like, "what if the recipes don't work?" "What if everything comes out awful?" "What if they hate the blog?" After recovering from the sensation of having sharp kitchen knives hurled at me, I said I would attend, if the date didn't conflict with my grandson's fifth birthday party. His birthday was occurring on a Tuesday,  and I didn't yet know which weekend day would be selected for his party. I even started to look forward to the potluck, and think about what I might bring.

Braised greens with tofu, cashews and raisins.

As it turned out, the date of the potluck was also the date of the Women's March in Seattle, as well as my grandson's party. We spent the morning and early afternoon at the march, the late afternoon at the joy-filled birthday party, and the evening at a quieter family birthday dinner at the little guy's house. It was an amazing, exhilarating day, and while I'm truly sorry to have missed the potluck, I'm glad I spent most of it with my wonderful family.

Two chickpea salads.

According to Sandra, 14 people attended the potluck, and it was a success — everyone enjoyed the food. (I hope she's telling the truth!) I had asked her to take pictures, and the photos I'm sharing here are hers, reprinted with permission.

I liked this marcher's sign!

Here's a glimpse into what I did on the day of the potluck. As I mentioned, I participated in the women's march, as I did last year. It feels so uplifting during these troubling times, to be surrounded by people who believe in justice, kindness, truth, etc.

I took a couple of photos of marchers and their signs.

And here's the birthday boy, just after blowing out the candles on his cupcake. Some days there are just not enough hours to do everything you want.

January 05, 2018

A mug of hot chocolate-almond-coffee

I was reading the paper the other day, and a recipe for a chocolate coffee smoothie caught my eye. It was in an article on healthy recipes. It wasn't the 'healthy' aspect that held my attention — it was the chocolate combined with almond and coffee in a potentially warming drink. The smoothie aspect was unappealing, considering the outdoor (and indoor!) temperature, but the thought of a soothing hot, delicious beverage was tempting. I adapted the recipe to provide a warming beverage, rather than a cold one. The drink isn't thick or creamy, but it is delicious. If you're in need of a hot beverage to warm you up, you might want to try this one.

I'm not a regular coffee drinker, and neither is my husband — he drinks gallons of tea — so we don't have a coffee maker standing ready. Plus, I'm extremely sensitive to caffeine, and can only drink decaf. I have a jar of high quality freeze dried instant decaf in the cupboard, just in case I occasionally want some, and that's what I used. If you have hot coffee ready and waiting, or prefer your beverage with caffeine, go for it. You could also use a coffee substitute. I'll probably try it with my Dandy Blend herbal dandelion root beverage.

Hot chocolate almond coffee
(adapted from a recipe in Parade Magazine by Alison Ashton)
  • 3 pitted dates
  • boiling water (or hot brewed coffee)
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of freeze-dried instant coffee, decaf or regular (if brewed coffee isn't being used)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • generous pinch of cardamom
  1. Place the dates in a one cup glass measuring cup and add  boiling water to make one cup. (OR, place dates and cold water in the measuring cup and microwave two minutes. OR, place dates in glass measuring cup and fill to one cup mark with hot brewed coffee.) Let sit one minute.
  2. Add contents of measuring cup to high speed blender. Add instant coffee (if brewed coffee wasn't used), yogurt, almond butter, cocoa, and cardamom to the blender. Blend until smooth and frothy.
  3. Enjoy.

November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving was delicious - for days

We had 10 people at the Thanksgiving table this year, including three children, and enough food for about 10 more, but I love Thanksgiving leftovers. On Friday one of our sons came for dinner, and we had leftovers — after my husband and I had already had leftovers for breakfast and lunch. We had leftovers on Saturday and Sunday (breakfast and lunch) too, and I finally finished them off on Monday. Understand that I'm not complaining — as I said, I love leftovers — and am sad that they won't be available tomorrow. We had a lot of food, but I'm happy to say we didn't waste any.

What you see above is our turkey. I found a photo of the veggie turkey online a few years ago and finally remembered to construct it this year. I wish I could remember exactly where I found it, but you can view the photo here. It served as one of the appetizers along with homemade hummus and smokey cheese dip.

Our daughter-in-law brought a large plate of fabulous pickled vegetables as an appetizer as well.

And a bowl of olive tapenade — my favorite. I love tapenade!

One son brought a bowl of chili lime popcorn as an appetizer, and it completely disappeared. Everyone came early so there was plenty of time to nosh before the main meal, and we made quite a dent in the offerings.

From the main Thanksgiving feast, I can only show you some of the food because, as is often the case, I forgot to take photos of everything. There are no photos of the potato stuffing, a fabulous family favorite recipe that originally came from Russia with my great grandmother, and none of the 'main dish', the wild rice pilaf, or the miso gravy, or the savory white bean casserole. One of our sons made the stuffing and beans, and I made the pilaf and gravy. The pilaf was fluffy with wild rice and brown rice and stuffed with mushrooms, onions, garlic, toasted walnuts, air-fried brussels sprouts, peas, celery, soy curls, herbs and spices. I used parsley, sage and rosemary from the garden. The curls were marinated overnight in some of the gravy, and liberally seasoned with granulated onion and garlic as well as chili lime spice from Trader Joe's, then baked a bit before being added to the pilaf and baked in the oven.

I made my usual cranberry compote, which is a favorite with the kids. It's a delicious and easy side dish that can be made the day before, and I recommend it. You can vary the contents to suit your personal tastes, and it cooks itself in a slow cooker while you do other things. (Recipe at end of post.)

New to this year's Thanksgiving table was aloo palak pie in a mashed potato crust — a recipe from Pies and Tarts With Heart by Dynise Balcavage. (I reviewed the book in 2013 when it was first published; you can read the review here if you want to know more about Dynise's cookbook.) I loved, loved, loved the tart, and can't wait to make it again. Because I had permission to publish the recipe when I wrote the review, I'm going to hope and assume I still have permission, and will include it at the end of the post.

Roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash was my husband's beautiful and tasty contribution to the meal. We made the preparation of the dish much less time consuming by purchasing already cubed squash. Believe it or not, this was the first time we've bought pre-cut squash, but it certainly won't be the last. What a time-saver —tossed with a little oil and salt, and roasted to caramelized perfection.

Since I failed to photograph the rest of the main course, let's just move on to dessert. Of course there was pie — this year it was sweet potato pie. I used the same recipe I used last year for voluptuous pumpkin pie from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, except I used sweet potatoes, and only two (not four) teaspoons of oil. Because sweet potatoes are more dense than pumpkin or squash, it  required a bit more soymilk. It's a great pie, and easy to make. I always garnish my pie with chocolate chips.

In addition to pie, there was cake. I saw a recipe for chocolate chip pumpkin date bread on Keepin' it Kind, and after reading the story of Kristy's grandmother's famous date nut bread, I got out my copy of But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan, and looked up the original recipe. I didn't want a second pumpkin dessert since one of our guests isn't a fan of pumpkin or cinnamon. I'm not a big fan of nuts in cake, so I decided to use the original recipe from the cookbook, subbing the chocolate chips from the blog recipe, for the walnuts. (I was also planning to add dried cranberries, but forgot.) Not only was the cake dangerously delicious, it kept getting better and better each day. Go make the pumpkin date bread — you won't be sorry. (My review of Kristy's cookbook can be found here. It's filled with delectable dishes, some of which have become staples at our house.)

I hope you had a happy thanksgiving. Here are the recipes I promised for cranberry compote and spinach pie. Just a note: when I made the pie I used three, five-ounce packages of fresh baby spinach for the pie filling.

Quarry Books has graciously allowed the recipe for Aloo Palak Pie to be reprinted. It is copyrighted material. Please do not reproduce without permission from the publisher.

Aloo Palak Pie with Mashed Potato Crust

Mashed Potato Pie Crust (one 9-inch crust)
We usually think of vegetables as pie filling and not pie bases. But I like to flip things upside down on occasion. Some vegetables, like the potato family, make wonderful savory crust bases. Carbolicious and comforting, mashed potato crusts are economical and an interesting way to transform leftovers into a literal meal base. You can use mashed white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or even mashed turnips or rutabagas. Or mix and match.

  • About 5 potatoes, peeled and baked, or "nuked"
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons (28 to 42 g) margarine
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60 ml) nondairy milk (to bind, if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon salt or more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Mash with the margarine and milk until creamy. (Use a potato ricer to save time!) Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Aloo-Palak Pie
Aloo palak without ghee is one of the darlings of vegan Indian cuisine lovers. This 'reconstructed' version uses all the flavors of aloo palak that you love, in an unexpected pie presentation. It’s loaded with vitamins and it’s cheaper than takeout.

(Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) tart)
For Spinach Filling:
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 to 1½ teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon red hot pepper flakes (optional, but I use the full Monty!)
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 cups (360 g) roughly chopped, trimmed spinach or baby spinach, preferably organic
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC, or gas mark 4).
  2. Press the crust into the pan. Set aside.
  3. To make the filling: In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the spices, then the garlic and onion, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt if the mixture starts to dry out.
  4. Add one-fourth of the spinach, let it wilt, stir, and repeat until all of the spinach is in the pan. 
  5. Cook for about 10 minutes. Spread into the crust.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of the book. All opinions are my own. I was not paid for my review.

Cranberry compote in the slow cooker  
Adapted from Autumn Fruit Crock in Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson, and memories of my mother's and grandmother's kitchens.
I think of the recipe as a 'guideline' rather than a 'recipe' because although  this is close to what I did — I used two pears and one apple this time —you can do pretty much what you want, and adjust it to your preferences. I believe my mother always added pineapple chunks to hers. I like my cranberries tangy, but feel free to make them as sweet as you wish. This is a great dish to serve anytime, any holiday — all fall and winter. You can change up the type and quantity of the fruit except maybe for the cranberries, though I recommend keeping the mango as it adds natural sweetness, and goes so well with the cranberries. Leftovers are great for breakfast with yogurt or oatmeal.
  • one-14oz box of fresh cranberries
  • two medium baking apples
  • one ripe pear
  • handful of dried apricots
  • handful of prunes or raisins
  • one cup of cut frozen mango or fresh mango
  • 1/4 cup (or more or less, to taste) dark sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • two tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • one cinnamon stick 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • one teaspoon vanilla
  1. Dice all the fruit (except cranberries and raisins, if using) to approximate size of cranberries. I didn't peel my fruit.
  2. Add all ingredients, except vanilla, to a slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low 5-1/2 to 6 hours, until fruit is soft. (Depending on what variety of apples you choose, the apples may retain some firmness.)
  4. Stir in the vanilla and taste for sweetness.
  5. Chill before serving. Can be made the day before needed. Thickens more as it cools.
My compote turned out nice and thick, but if yours doesn't, cook a short while longer without the lid.

Post Script ...

During dinner ...

After dinner ...

Gobble gobble

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