Grumpy Cheap Vegan: Weeds!

A couple of years ago, Sundari from Heirloom Gardens sold me some purslane along with other greens. It's an au currant vegetable, full of omega 3's and vitamin C. And, like she said, it's also probably growing in the cracks of your sidewalk.

I chopped it up and put it in a salad, and as we ate, I had that queasy feeling you get when eating something with questionable provenance--like chicken beak or eel roe. Or anything Andrew Zimmer ingests. So with a bumper crop of purslane invading inhabiting our garden, I thought, what if we could obviate its identity? Out came the food processor.

Take your favorite pesto recipe--for basil, sage or parsely--and substitute the leaves from these ubiquitious plants. I used two large weeds, a healthy handful of walnuts, one garlic clove, one lemon, sea salt and enough extra virgin olive oil to get the mixture to "pesto."

We spread it on homemade flatbreads and topped it with grilled vegetables. Lovely. Organic. And free!

N.B. After separating hundreds of purslane leaves from their stems, I've realized that no matter how satisfying it is to eat the enemy, there are more efficient weed mitigation strategies.

Grumpy Vegan: Yes, we have some bananas!

In thinking about the foods ingested over the last months, many have been less than spectacular. (You could have played a mean game of four-square with my homemade seitan. Or dodge ball, if the goal was to maim or kill.)

But let's turn to the humble, not-so-local banana. Who knew that the banana would play such a key role in keeping the Nake-id Household sane, happy and sated during this summer of plant-based ?

Without the banana, green smoothies would be greener and grassier. Chia puddings would be tasteless, gelatinous swamps. Cereal would be lonely.

And we never would have discovered this:

Peel three bananas. Place them in a plastic bag and freeze for two-to-three hours. (You don't want your bananas to be rock hard.) Then toss them into a food processor with a tablespoon of your favorite cocoa/cacao, coconut flakes, dried fruit of your choice or solo. Whip into a soft-serve-like froth.

Share with a friend. Then marvel at this simple, delicious almost-better-than-ice-cream treat.

Thank me, later.*

This dessert has been written about in many vegan and raw food cookbooks and blogs. It is in no way original to Chez Nake-id, though we are most grateful and happy to spread the 'nanner love!

 

 

Vida Vegan Con Burrito Contest Entry: The All-American Hot Dogirito

Get a load--a big load--of this puppy!

Inspired by BBQ season and the impending celebration of the birth of our great nation, I give you the All-American Hot Dogirito, my official entry in Vegan Epicurious' Burrito-thon competition for a coveted admission ticket to the first ever Vida Vegan Con, vegan bloggers conference.

This is not just a veggie hot dog. It's a meal in your fist.

Combining Tofu Pups, spicy grilled organic sweet potato fries and organic cole slaw in a coarse-grain mustard vinaigrette, you've got a modern twist on all-American summer picnic classic...all cozied up and tucked into one whole wheat tortilla.

The best part? You'll probably have leftover fries and slaw for a veggie burger 'cue the next day.

Sweet and tangy with a nice, cool crunch from the cole slaw and a subtle smokyness from the weenies, this dog can bark.

Enjoy with a vegan beverage of your choice. And about six digestive enzyme capsules.

All-American Hot Dogirrito

Ingredients:

The fries

2 large organic sweet potatoes cut into 1/3- inch wedges

3 Tbs olive oil

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp garlic powder

½-1 tsp hot Chimayo chile powder (or other hot chile powder), depending on your tolerance

The slaw

1 small head organic green cabbage

½ bunch scallions

½ cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley

The dressing

4 Tbs red wine vinegar

4 heaping tsp coarse-grain mustard

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 liberal shakes of the Tabasco bottle

kosher salt to taste

The dogs, etc.

2 Tofu Pups (or preferred brand soy hot dog)

1 whole wheat tortilla

Condiments (Dijon mustard and dill pickles featured above.)

Instructions:

Toss all the ingriedient for the fries together in a bowl. And then grill on top of a low flame for 30 to 40 minutes.

While your fries are grilling, shred the cabbage and green onions in a food processor (or chop by hand) and add parsley.

In a separate bowl, mix coarse-grain mustard and red wine vinegar, then slowly add olive oil while whisking furiously. Season with Tobasco and salt. And add to cabbage mixture.

When your fries are done, grill your Tofu Pups on low for about five to seven minutes. Then slice your pups in half and lay on a warmed tortilla that you've slathered in your favorite hot dog sauce. Dijon mustard is divine, but a vegan BBQ sauce could be fun, too. Lay in your pickles, onions, relish, what-have-you, then top with a healthy helping of fries and cole slaw.

Wrap. Eat. Waddle away from the table. Woof!

Why Vida Vegan Con?

To give a much-needed jolt to this gas-bag of an old blog. To learn some vegan cooking secrets. To serve as a cross-disciplinary envoy between the (ahem) knitsch world of knit blogging/magazine writing and vegan blogging/magazine writing. To share what little I know. To see the beautiful city of Portland for the first time. To meet an extraordinarily progressive and entrepreneurial group of bloggers and writers. To hit a few Portland yarn shops, natch.

Too many sprouts

Here's the thing: One day you have no sprouts, the next day you have so many that you're going, "Here, kitty, kitty...nom, nom!"

Having gone all vegan, I've read that living foods--sprouts--are particularly beneficial. (Though once they hit the hydrochloric acid swirling around in your tummy, no doubt, all bets are off as far as health benefits.) So I ran off to my favorite source for all things herbaceous (Mountain Rose Herbs) and loaded up on sprouting seeds and a hemp sprouting bag, developed by a guy who calls himself, Sproutman. I'll just leave it there. Sproutman.

It's all very easy. You water them. Drain them. Keep them in the dark for a time. Give 'em a dose of sunlight, pumping them up with chlorophyll and before you know it you have...food.

The germinating seeds pictured above in the little bag are radish sprouts, the ones in the jar are red clover. What in the world are we going to do with them?

Kale Avocado Salad, anyone?

If you have any kind of affinity for kale, watch Karen Knowler's video above and do likewise. You can add anything to it that appeal, red peppers, artichoke hearts, sunflower seeds, whatever's floating around in your crisper drawer. We crave this salad like we crave a bacon cheeseburgers stuffed with gorgonzola. It's that good.

Gumbo recipe: Not-so-fat Tuesday

A few weeks ago I about drove Mr. Nake-id round the bend searching for frozen okra. Sunflower didn't have it. Neither did Safeway. It was only after we ventured to the Mexican grocery that we found our prize along with nopales (saving for another post) and gamba sans cabezas. (There were also gamba con cabezas but shelling and deveining seemed like enough of a project.)

Gumbo isn't everybody's cuppa. What with okra's mucilaginous properties, the texture of this Cajun classic, frankly, oogs some people out. But the slime is what makes it, thickening the stew into this rich, rice-clinging porridge punctuated with sausage, shrimp and that sturdy okra.

Paula Deen's recipe seemed like a good place to start, but being a health-conscious Yank, I fooled with it. Out went the margarine and the pork sausage and white rice, in came the olive oil and hot chicken links and brown rice. I reduced the overall amount of fat by making un petit roux, whisking maybe 3 Tbs of olive oil and one Tbs butter with flour to make the caramel-colored starter, and Mitch grilled the sausage to release some of the drippings before we added them into the pot. Plus, there was no stinting on the Tabasco. 

  • 1 pound hot Italian chicken sausage, grilled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 green and 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish
  • 4 cups water
  • beef bouillon to taste (about 4-5 tsp of Better Than Bouillon Beef Base)
  • 1 (14-ounce can) diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 bag frozen sliced okra
  • 4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts
  • 1 pound pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Tobasco
  • Gumbo file
  • Salt and pepper
  • Directions: Make a roux with 2 Tbs olive oil and the butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it achieves a nice caramel color. Add your holy trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper and last Tbs of olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, parsley, water, bouillon and sausage. Simmer for as long as you can possibly wait. Add tomatoes and okra. And continue simmering, if you can stand it. Add shrimp at the last and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Douse with Tobasco. Serve over brown rice with chopped green onion and gumbo file.

    There are those who would accuse us of ruining this dish by imposing our uptight sensibilities on it. But the gumbo didn't seem to suffer and neither did we. 

    Laissez les bon temp rouler! 

      

    Timewaster lentils

    Have you ever gotten midway through a recipe and realized you might have underestimated the amount of time and labor required. "Darn it all, anyway," you think, unless you're given to stronger epithets. Unlike me. I would never indulge in stronger epithets.

    The recipe in question was Mushroom and Lentil Pot Pies with Gouda Bisquit Topping from the November Bon Appetit. Forever in search of hearty vegetarian fare, this nailed me with "gouda bisquit topping." Really. How could you go wrong?

    Unless you follow instructions. While this could have been accomplished by making a simple lentil stew and topping it with simple cheesy biscuit dough, the author of this recipe had me rehydrating mushrooms, cooking lentils in a separate pot, and all manner of other unnecessary preparations, resulting in a mountain of dishes. There were good reasons for the kerfuffling, mainly that of preserving vegetable integrity; that is if you worry about biting into tender potato chunks amidst a mass of fungus and legumes. Why not make this a one pot meal in a cast iron skillet. Even covered Cheddar (in our case) Bisquit Topping, a lentil is a lentil is a lentil.

     

    Oatmeal Apple Cookies

    These may be the best cookies ever but after all the shredding, chopping, mixing, parchment-papering, dolloping and dish-washing, I was forced to inform Mitch, "We have cookies but no dinner."

    The cookies are slated for the book launch party of Mom's book, Wild Apples: Reflections of a Thoughtful Life, tomorrow night, 7 p.m. at The Bookery Nook. (Hence the addition of apples into the traditional oatmeal batter.)

    Come for the bon mots and the bon bons. It should be fun.

    P.S. I swapped butter for shortening in the above recipe and upped the cooking time by a few minutes.

    What do you eat when your spouse is out for the evening?

    Popcorn, people. I eat popcorn. And lots of it.

    Though I've been guilty of tossing a bag of Orville Redenbacher's SmartPop into the microwave, lately I've returned to my roots. Oil popped, no butter, sea salt. Think of all that fiber.

    Here's how:

    1 dedicated sauce pan

    2 Tbs canola oil

    1/2 to 3/4 cup good quality popping corn

    Sea salt to taste

    Instructions: Add oil to sauce pan along with two kernals popping corn, cover. Heat over medium high burner. When the kernals pop, quickly add the rest of the corn and cover. Shake pan to make sure all kernals are covered by oil. As the corn pops, pour the popped corn into a large bowl. (If the corn isn't popping at a rapid enough rate, raise the heat and agitate the pan.) Keep a close eye to keep corn from burning.

    When the corn is finished popping, toss with sea salt. And call it dinner!

    Have a tastey weekend!

     

     

    Pest-oh!

    Liberal medicinal herb laws notwithstanding, the above baggies contain basil pesto. Really.

    Though we could be hiding anything in our tangled garden at this point. The black cherry tomato plant overwhelms and the herbs have gotten all leggy and flower-topped, which makes for happy bees and not-so-tender leaves. Temps threaten to graze 90 today but inevitably we'll get a killing frost, and the herbs, tough as they are, will be toast.

    Hence the wrestling with the Cuisinart. Fresh basil, costing what it does in the dead of winter, well, an hour or two in the kitchen is a small price to pay for some easy weeknight dinners come January.

    Feeling in a bit of a pesto rut, I consulted Bittman for inspiration. I love how he offers loose formulas and ideas not dogma. His pages on pesto, for example, include notes on basil, dill, mint, parsley, arugala and cilantro varieties and how to serve. More on some of these other condiments later.

    Back to the basil at hand. Classic Genovese Pesto, he writes, is made with a mortar and pestle. I'm sure it's divine. I'm sure it's superior, but I registered for a Cuisinart for a reason. Moving right along. 

    He also writes that one needn't add cheese to the mix, plus his ratio of basil to nuts seemed high but intriguing.

    With a food processor there is no labor to pesto, except for processing the vegetable matter. The whole mess has to be washed and the leaves and flowers stripped from their woody stems, a dreary, painstaking chore. Then whirrrrrrr and it's done.

    The result? About a cup and a half. 

    And he was right about the nuts.

    Instructions follow:

    Wash and stem about four cups basil leaves.

    Sautee 2 cloves garlic in a dollop of olive oil.

    Toss a healthy handful of walnuts into the food processor.

    Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup olive oil.

    Toss everything in the food processor with a good pinch of salt.

    Grind up. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Serve with fresh pasta.

    Enjoy.