October 30, 2008

Roasted cauliflower salad

The photo does not do this justice, but this delicious recipe is from our middle son, Aaron. He's a fabulous cook but it's a little hard to pin him down on quantities as he moves very fast and doesn't measure. As I ran after him with a pen and notebook, the conversation went something like this.

me, "How many walnuts did you just put in there?"
Aaron, "I don't know."
me, "Would you say maybe a half cup?"
Aaron, "I don't know."
me, "a whole cup?"
Aaron, "Maybe. I don't know. They made a single layer in the pan."
me, "Well. Let's say a half cup."

And so on. Aaron is the sort of cook who has a mortar and pestle at home so he can grind his own herbs and spices so they will be FRESH. He requests cooking equipment for his birthday. He cooks by instinct, and everything he makes tastes amazing. This excellent dish is no exception. It was delicious and easy to make. Try it. You won't be sorry. I did my best to translate the recipe but I'm sure there's plenty of wiggle room in there for personal creativity.

We used a purple cauliflower because that's what we had from our CSA, but Aaron normally uses a white one. Aaron also made a chick pea salad, and we had bread that I had made earlier from a no-knead dough that I keep in the fridge. (will post some day...)

Roasted cauliflower salad
  • one large head of white or purple cauliflower, cut into chunks
  • olive oil for coating cauliflower
  • about three ounces arugula
  • one medium red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted (maybe one cup—personal decision)
Dressing (or use your favorite vinaigrette)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • one tablespoon agavé syrup (or other sweetener)
  • two cloves garlic, finely minced
  • two tablespoons fresh minced herbs of choice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the cauliflower in a large cast iron (or other) pan. Toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil to coat. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
  2. Roast in 450˚ oven for 20 minutes. Stir, then roast for 25 minutes more or until the cauliflower has softened and turned brown around the edges. When cauliflower is almost done, add garlic and roast a few minutes more, to remove the raw taste. Or, use raw in the finished salad if you prefer.
  3. While cauliflower is roasting, toast the walnuts in a heavy pan until fragrant and toasty.
  4. Whisk the dressing ingredients together. (with a fork or whisk)
  5. Put arugula, onion, and walnuts into a serving bowl. Add the cauliflower and mix together to wilt the greens slightly. Add the dressing and toss all together.
This dinner served four generously. It tasted REALLY great. Thumbs up for roasted cauliflower.

October 27, 2008

Easy, creamy butternut squash soup with truffle oil

Recently, while my son was visiting from Seattle, we went to a shop I've been meaning to explore ever since it first opened. Vom Fass is a shop originating in Germany•, that sells bulk artisan oils and vinegars which are decanted from kegs. For some reason, our little city has the first, and so far only, U.S. store.

Confronted with a large room full of kegs of exotic sounding products, we just stood there and stared until the very friendly and extremely knowledgeable shopkeeper handed us small spoons and invited us to taste anything we wanted. Even that was daunting, but we gave it a shot. I tried to limit my tasting so as not to get too confused, but Aaron tasted widely. In the end, I chose a truffle oil made with extra virgin olive oil and a balsam cherry vinegar that can be used to made fizzy-water drinks as well as for more traditional recipes. There are bottles in sizes starting at 50 milliliters that you purchase with the idea of bringing them back to refill. I got 100-milliliter (a little more than three ounces) bottles.

I'm still thinking about the avocado oil I tasted. Did you know that avocado oil, in addition to being good for skin and hair, has a very high smoke point and is good for cooking? And it tastes exactly like avocado. Next time.

Now for the butternut squash soup. I made dinner the way I'm most comfortable cooking, and the way I cook most often—no recipes. The plan was to use the pressure cooker to create a fast and easy soup. (I've been making simple soups in my pressure cooker for 20 years so the basics are pretty much cemented in my mind. But you could also bake or steam the squash.) And to try out my Cuisinart Smart Stick immersible blender. I've had the blender for quite a while but never tried it! I mostly make soup in an enameled cast iron pot, and you're not supposed to use an immersion blender in that 'cause it might scratch, so using the pressure cooker was incentive to try the blender. We have winter squash from the CSA piling up so I picked the largest butternut squash. It was huge, but I wanted a lot of soup left over for lunches. I won't give an exact recipe but just general guidelines for using the pressure cooker. (I have a six-quart stainless steel Aeternum pressure cooker.) I cut the squash into large (two inch?) chunks and peeled them. Butternut has an edible skin, but I wasn't sure how the blender would deal with the skin, so I peeled off the thinest possible layer.

I sliced a medium onion and sautéed it in the pot with a little extra virgin olive oil. When the onion was translucent, I added the cut squash. I added water just below the top of the squash, and brought the pot up to pressure. I turned down the flame a bit and cooked it for 10 minutes at pressure. I brought the pressure down by running cold water over the lid.

I added a blob of sweet white miso to the pot and went at it with the immersion blender. In no time at all and with virtually no effort, I had a pot of ultra creamy squash soup. I couldn't believe it—no messy blender to wash; no multiple filling and emptying into an extra pot. As I've said before, pressure cooked vegetables are so flavorful that not much is needed to season them, so I took a minimalist approach. I added a scant teaspoon of truffle oil, a few grinds of black pepper, the juice of one lime and some minced parsley.

A co-worker groaned when I told him about the oil and said it was way too much. What do I know? It was a large pot of soup, and it tasted sublime. There was a faint earthy mushroom flavor that was not at all pronounced or overwhelming.

To go with the soup, I put brown basmati rice into the rice cooker with chopped up red Hungarian peppers and a teaspoon of dried chipotlé powder. When it was cooked I added a large handful of baby arugula and a small amount of grated Teese.

On the side we also had some steamed broccoli Romanesco; just about the weirdest looking vegetable I've ever seen, but the CSA grows it. It looks like it was created in a math lab. (Yes. MATH lab.) It was sweet and delicious and served unseasoned. Unfortunately, the photo didn't turn out.

•note #1: For terrific Wisconsin-made vinegars, I recommend Colleen's Tough Times.

note #2:
Don't have an immersion blender? No Problem. I used to make this soup using my regular blender. Just blend it in batches and pour it into a second pot.

note #3: Usually when I make this soup, I don't cook the onion in with the squash. Instead, I sauté three or four onions in a separate pan and then blend them with the squash once it is cooked. You get a rich onion-flavored soup this way. Or use the pressure cooker for the onions and then remove them to cook the squash.

October 25, 2008

Avocado excess

Our CSA box contained 9 VERY ripe avocados with the admonition, "use right away." Yikes! Okay. I love avocados and was anxious to follow our farmer's directive immediately. It's so unusual to acquire avocados that are already ripe. It was early in the morning and I hadn't had breakfast yet so it seemed obvious that I had to have an avocado for breakfast. There was an opened package of corn tortillas in the refrigerator, fresh garden tomatoes on the counter and a container of black olives. Soooo...

The wok was on the stove and I used it to soften the tortillas. I heated them with a little spritz of olive oil, filled them with avocado, tomato, olives and salsa. Yum. I won't say how many of these I ate.

October 22, 2008

White whole wheat flour

I use white whole wheat flour in so many recipes I thought it might be time for a mini-post devoted to this excellent grain. I first heard the term at work when one of my co-workers was trying to add more whole grains to her diet. She asked me about the bag of white whole wheat flour she had just purchased and I assured her that whole wheat flour doesn't have the word "white" in it. Ahem. Then I went home and did a little research to find out that yes, white whole wheat is the real deal.

White whole wheat is a hard winter wheat with nutritional value equivalent to hard red wheat, but with baking and taste qualities more akin to unbleached white. It's a naturally occurring variety that lacks the genes for red bran color. It also lacks certain phenolic compounds that contribute to the stronger taste of red wheat. The taste of white whole wheat is milder and sweeter. It also seems to produce lighter and softer baked goods.

Ar first I was using it only in bread and pizza dough in the same proportions that I had used red whole wheat. I usually added up to half unbleached white to lighten the bread. Then I started using higher and higher percentages of white whole wheat until I was making the bread entirely with this product, with great results. I usually used organic 100% whole wheat pastry flour for cakes and cookies. I started experimenting with white whole wheat and was surprised to find that the white whole wheat worked great in those things, too. It's become an all-purpose flour for me, though I still often use whole wheat pastry flour (from soft white wheat) out of habit.

I've been purchasing Bob's Red Mill organic white whole wheat flour which I find at Whole Foods and at our local food co-op. Other companies offer it but not as an organic product. (Grains are subject to so much pesticide use that I prefer to buy organic products.)

You can read more about white whole wheat here.

October 19, 2008

Blueberry cinnamon buns (no knead)

We've been enjoying the fabulous Wisconsin Book Festival where for four days we can attend talks and readings of well-known and emerging writers, all for free. It started last Thursday and I rushed from work to attend a reading and discussion by my friend Susan who has been working on her newly published book for ten years. She was paired with another new writer for an engaging presentation. After that, I hurried to another location to catch a talk by Daniel Levitin, the author of "This is Your Brain on Music" and "The World in Six Songs." Incredible. Friday night we heard several people including Amy Goodman from Democracy Now. She gave an amazing, inspiring talk. She is both calm and forceful at the same time, and her efforts fighting for democracy, truth and fairness are inspiring. On Saturday we continued on the theme of political struggle and listened to three graphic novelists. One of them, Mike Konopacki, had just published a graphic history in collaboration with Howard Zinn. Another, Lynda Barry (the main reason I went to see this group) has a new book, "What It Is."

The New York Times says, “Barry is, underneath the wonky handwriting and the quirky, naïve drawings, a great memoirist . . . Like [Tobias] Wolff and [Dave] Eggers, she finds a tone that accommodates self-criticism and self-irony without tipping over into self-loathing . . . but what she is particularly good at is resonance.” This describes her presentation perfectly.

It's amazing to me how much I recognize and relate to, in what she says. She has a unique way of describing the world that puts pictures into your head as the words enter your mind. The book is so graphically beautiful I just had to have it. And, she's a hoot! If you ever have a chance to hear her in person, take advantage. I can't wait to read the book—so far I've just been mesmerized by the drawings.

This evening there was a workshop and presentation by food writers hosted by a restaurant just a couple of blocks from my house. The emphasis was on ethnic foods only one of the promised food samples was vegan.

Although there are are lots of other book events I'd have liked to attend today, we went instead to the Fall Art Tour. Artists in several rural communities about 60 miles from here opened their studios this weekend. My son is visiting from Seattle and he wanted to go.

Did I mention that today is my birthday? Last Tuesday I arrived home from work to an empty house. My husband "had to go out for a bit to meet someone." I was shocked when he arrived home with Aaron and the news that this was my birthday present. He'd flown Aaron home from Seattle for a week's visit! I took Friday, Monday and Tuesday off from work and have been having a great time.

Now to the cinnamon buns I've been craving for about two weeks, but haven't had time to make. With Aaron here it seemed like good timing to finally get around to it. Over at Ricki's blog, she's been making things with coconut, and we made and enjoyed her veggies, rice and coconut (but with a lot less coconut). Then she posted that very appealing raspberry coffeecake. And I started thinking that I didn't HAVE to use raisins in my cinnamon buns. Why, I could use anything I wanted, even blueberries...and coconut. I'd already worked out the dough recipe in my mind; now all I needed was time between book events to make them. I made them yesterday and I managed to pull them from the oven just in time to go hear Lynda Barry.

I'm embarrassed to admit that because I was so rushed, I actually forgot to add the cinnamon to my filling. To make up for it, I sprinkled the buns liberally with cinnamon before baking. Good grief.

Also, this dough recipe is enough for about 40 buns but I decided to make only 20 buns and a loaf of bread. The filling is for half the recipe (20 buns). If you want to make all 40, either double the filling or fill the other 20 with a filling of your choice. I was planning to use the filling part of this recipe, before I switched to blueberries.

Blueberry cinnamon buns
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup sucanot
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 6 cups white whole wheat flour (or a mix of white whole wheat and unbleached white)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups blueberries (I used frozen)
  • 1/4 cup sucanot
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut
  1. Add yeast to 1/4 cup warm water and set aside.
  2. Put sugar, salt, oil and margarine in large bowl. Add 2 cups hot water and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add three cups flour and mix with a spoon.
  4. Add yeast mixture and remaining 3 cups flour. Mix well with your hand until everything is incorporated. Dough will be soft, a little sticky but not wet.
  5. Oil bowl, cover and let dough rise at least 45 minutes. You can leave it up to two hours.
  6. Roll out dough into a rectangle about 16" x 18." Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise.
  7. Mix together the (frozen) blueberries, coconut, sugar and cinnamon and spread the mix on one of the dough halves, keeping the filling at least one inch from the the two long edges.
  8. Roll up the dough in a spiral starting on a long edge. With the seam on the bottom, slice the long roll into one inch pieces and lay them cut side down in a large baking pan. A jelly roll pan works well. They should be about one inch apart.
  9. Sprinkle with cinnamon and additional coconut if desired. Cover and let rise 30 to 45 minutes.
  10. At this point you can fill the second rectangle or form it into a loaf, place it on a baking sheet, cover and let rise.
  11. Bake in a preheated 350˚ oven for 25 minutes for the buns and 40 minutes for the loaf. Or until done.
  12. Cool on a wire rack.

October 16, 2008

Benja Krayatip Rice with greens, tomatoes and cashews

One of my husband's graduate students from China gave him a gift of a muslin bag filled with many different colors of rice. It came with a folder, mostly in Thai, with a English description of the rice, cooking instructions and a note that the rice was recommended for "diabetic people, weight control people and aged people." With a description like that, how could I lose? The bag contained Thai brown glutinous rice, Thai hom mali rice, Thai brown hom mali rice, Kam Doi Muzer rice, red hom mali rice and hom kurlap rice. Much to my surprise, when I googled the name Benja Krayatip rice, I found information about how the rice is grown. Here is what I found:

Queen Sirikat promotes and directs the production of Benja Krayatip Rice on a Model Farm in Baan Yang Noi, Khuengnai District, Ubon Ratchathani Province, Thailand.
Benja Krayatip Rice

Benja Krayatip Rice is a perfect mix of 6 Thai rices. Grown under the auspices of the Thai Royal Family, in rice fields maintained according to strict Royal standards, this special blend of rice is selected, grown and harvested in the greenest possible way. Only natural pesticides ( a solution of marigold and black sugar cane) are used and in the actual planting process only the power of the water buffalo hand plow and strength of native farmers is used. No machinery of any kind is used in or near the rice paddy fields. The rice is then harvested by hand so no rice is damaged, and subsequently sorted using a computer camera laser method. This ensures that only the perfect rice grains are selected packed and shipped.

With this Royal project, the goal of the Royal family is to ensure that the rice is grown in the “greenest” possible way, minimizing the chances of contamination from oil-based machinery and using only “natural” pesticides. Lastly, in keeping with their ecological approach to farming, the rice is “fair – traded”.

So, apparently this is no ordinary rice. One of my sons said he has seen similar rice in Asian grocery stores, and if you can find it, I highly recommend it. This bag was purchased in the Beijing airport. I was going to label this post, "leftover rice," because that's what it was, but after uncovering this information, I decided to upgrade the title. I cooked the rice in my rice cooker and it cooked up perfectly and tasted delicious. I had a lot leftover so I used it in a stir fry the next day. For this stir fry, I kept the ingredients separate as I cooked them. Along with the rice I used beet greens and cippolini onion from our CSA, tomatoes from our garden and raw cashews.

October 12, 2008

Raisin cake #2

In a previous post I shared very early childhood memories, and a wish to recreate my grandmother's raisin cake. Of course I realize that as long as I try to keep the cake relatively healthy and low fat, I'll never be able to have the cake exactly as I remember it. After all, my grandmother's cake was rich with butter. That said, this second version was so good that it never made it into the freezer as planned. Cake number one tasted great but was too soft and moist. (This isn't a bad thing—just not what I was looking for.) I wanted something firmer and more dense, but not heavy. I was trying for a texture more like a soda bread, but sweet like a cake. And the raisins and spices would be layered into the cake rather than mixed into the batter.

I bought a 9-1/2" bundt pan so the cake would look more like Nannie's. I planned to buy a Nordic Ware 6-cup or 9-cup classic pan, but our neighborhood kitchen store only had a 12-cup and it was enormous. It was also expensive. They had a Cuisinart 9-1/2" pan on sale for only $12.99 and it seemed really heavy and the right size, so I bought it. I was kind of disappointed at the extremely subtle pattern on the finished cake. Also, the outside of the cake wasn't as dark as I thought it should be. And I hadn't noticed that the pan is made in two parts with a seam that shows at the top of the cake. At some point I may still buy the 6-cup Nordic Ware—if I continue to make and refine this cake.

The cake was much closer to what I was looking for, and as I continue to make this cake and perfect it, I'll update the recipe. That said, we loved this cake just as it was.

I used white whole wheat flour because I was out of whole wheat pastry flour and it worked really well. I sifted it before measuring it to make it lighter.

Raisin cake #2
  • 4 cups flour (white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry, sifted before measuring))
  • 2 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar (evaporated cane juice)
  • pinch cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 2 cups soymilk plus 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups raisins
  • water
  • 2 tablespoon margerine
  • 1/4 cup sugar (evaporated cane juice)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  1. Put the raisins in a pot and add water just to the top of the raisins. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down. Add the margarine, sugar and spices and cook gently until most of the water is evaporated and the you have a gooey syrupy base. Turn off the heat.
  2. Put the soymilk and vinegar in a measuring cup and let the milk curdle. Add the oil and vanilla and stir together.
  3. Sift together (or stir well) the flour, sugar, potato starch, baking soda and powder, cardamom, cocoa and salt.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients and mix. The batter will be very thick and sticky.
  5. Lightly oil and dust with sugar (evaporated cane juice) a 9-cup bundt pan.
  6. Place 1/3 of the batter into the pan. Cover with 1/2 of the raisin mixture, keeping the raisins away from the edge of the batter as much as possible. Cover with another 1/3 of the batter. Then add the remaining raisins. Cover with the rest of the batter.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350˚ oven for about 40 minutes, or until the cake tests done.

October 09, 2008

Wedding weekend

Well I've been totally wiped out after a packed four-day weekend trip to Philadelphia to attend a niece's wedding extravaganza. Haven't even READ any blog posts since before we left on our trip, let alone write one. I prescheduled something to post last Saturday and even completely forgot I had done that but, after two intense days back at work that just added to the exhaustion, I'm home today and starting to feel somewhat normal again. So, here's the "condensed" version of the weekend.

Tempeh reuben from French Meadow Bakery

Last Friday, I dressed at 6:30 a.m. (in Wisconsin) in the outfit I planned to wear at the rehearsal dinner some 12 hours later in Pennsylvania. And I discovered that if you wear a long skirt for air travel, you will get patted down at security. Good thing I didn't tape a soy yogurt to my leg. We changed planes in Minneapolis and headed to our favorite pit stop, French Meadow Bakery Café, for an early lunch. I've posted about this before and it's still a great airport find. I had a bowl of vegan chili that was too much to finish. It was a bit too heavy on tomatoes and light on beans but still tasty and filling. It came with two slices of sourdough bread. Ken ordered a grilled tempeh reuben. After 20 minutes he went to check on it, and twenty minutes later went to cancel it and get his money back. This was an airport—we had a plane to catch. This brought the manager out and she got the sandwich, packaged it to go and gave him a refund! (French Meadow has two airport locations. The main, full-service restaurant (packaged food also available) is at the end of the main shopping area just before entering concourse C. There is also a small satellite shop with packaged food and beverages at a different location.)

When we arrived in Philadelphia, we picked up the most garish red rental car I've ever seen and headed to Lai Lai Garden restaurant in Blue Bell. An indication of the festivities to come, the rehearsal dinner had 90 guests! I first want to say I had plenty to eat—was, in fact, obscenely stuffed and loved my dinner—but since I'm writing about vegan stuff here, there are a few things I'd like to point out. When the appetizers came, the non-vegetarians (NVs) received plates with a large egg roll, a large spare rib and a third thing. It may have been a fried shrimp—can't really remember. We vegans (Vs) received a plate with three small steamed dumplings. Okay, ours was probably much healthier, but theirs was much BIGGER. Quality and quantity are different things altogether, but still. They had three DIFFERENT things. Why didn't they get a dumpling? Why didn't we get some other interesting vegetable thing to go with our dumplings?
We Vs were then given a choice of three entrées. We could have tofu and veggies, string beans or a third thing that I can't remember. (I do seem to have a problem with third things.) We all chose the tofu.

Their food (only some of it!)

Then the NV entrées started coming. There was a giant lazy susan in the middle of our very large table and it was soon filled with meat, chicken and seafood dishes. More and more kept coming until the turntable was packed to capacity. And still more dishes came. The Vs were each brought a plate with tofu and veggies. It was really good, and I couldn't finish it, but it's the principle of the thing I'm pointing out. Is it assumed that NVs should be provided with an extreme assortment of food and Vs are limited to only one thing? I also wonder why NVs are unable to have vegetarian dishes along with their meat. None of this is meant to be a reflection on our hosts, just on the general state of food consumption in the US.

The wedding the next night was very beautiful and very big. There were 270 guests, making this the biggest wedding I've ever attended. The bride was beautiful and the groom dashing. Everything was in good taste, especially the food. After the ceremony, we had a cocktail hour with lots of interesting dishes. I'm sorry to say I was so involved in eating that I completely forgot to photograph anything so a description will have to suffice. I visited the pasta bar first and received a plate of perfectly cooked pasta on which I chose to add a chunky tomato sauce. There was all sorts of non-veg stuff to add for the so- inclined, but I was happy to find a bottomless bowl of black olives and another of a finely chopped kohlrabi salad. After that I headed to the bruschetta station where all sorts of spreads (including hummus) were stacked up. There was a vat of artichoke salad, a gorgeous roasted red pepper salad and who knows what else. Roaming the room, the Vs found plenty of delicious food to eat, as did the NVs. A cosmo from the bar, artichokes and olives and I was happy.

When we finally started dinner around 10:30, I wasn't all that hungry, but managed to eat my baby greens and a good portion of my —guess what?—tofu and vegetables. Good thing I never get tired of tofu and veggies. It was delicious. I wish I had some now.

The great band stopped playing at 12:30 a.m. and we made our way back to the hotel room (we stayed at the wedding hotel for the night of the wedding.) by about 1 a.m., and crashed.

Pumpernickel bagel, roasted asparagus, marinated mushrooms, salad.
The next morning we attended a brunch at the hotel. You wouldn't think we could eat any more, but we did. The brunch was a revelation. I never got past the salad with ginger vinaigrette, marinated mushrooms, balsamic roasted asparagus, bagels and fruit, but the room was laden with every imaginable breakfast food an NV could dream about. And Vs could find plenty to be happy about, too, unless they were looking for protein! I wish I had photographed the long table filled with gorgeous NV pastries.

Bagel, salad, hash browns, fruit.
We are originally from Philadelphia, and still have family and friends in the area, so in between wedding events we visited with relatives and friends, trying to make the most of the short amount of time. It was wonderful to be with my family, my husband's family and old friends. I wish it could be like this all the time. It was exhausting but worth it.

Oh, and did I mention that our oldest son, daughter-in-law and their fabulously amazing baby were there from Seattle?

October 04, 2008

Waffled sandwiches on tomato-basil bread

One of my favorite treats when I was a teenager was waffles and ice cream. There was a deli near our house that served up fresh, fragrant, warm waffles with multiple scoops of Breyer's ice cream. Peach or strawberry was my ice cream of choice. Sigh. I can almost smell those waffles as I type. (Or maybe it's the tomato-caraway bread baking downstairs!) Anyway, I still have a fondness for waffles, although now they're the vegan variety. But I hardly ever have them because I'm so lazy. The sandwiches I made recently for supper reminded me of one of my favorite treats - minus the ice cream.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I don't usually eat sandwiches. I don't have anything against a good sandwich, but it's more satisfying to me to bring leftovers to work and heat them up. Now that I've accepted the microwave into my life, (at work, not at home!) it's become much easier to enjoy a nice hot lunch. It just feels more balanced and less bread-y. But there must be some part of my sub-conscious that's been feeling sandwich-deprived, because I've certainly had my fair share of them during the last month! Today I was thinking about how I've always wanted to grill a sandwich in the waffle iron, but it seemed like too much effort to haul it down from its high storage cabinet just to make a sandwich that could be made in the toaster oven or in a pan. Today I not only made that waffled sandwich, I made the bread, too.

There was a jar of tomato juice hidden in the back of the refrigerator (my husband does the shopping so I'm never quite sure what I'll find lurking in the fridge) and a bag of basil that I got in yesterday's CSA box so I made tomato-basil bread with crushed red pepper. The color was gorgeous and the taste and texture were good, but not quite as basil-y or tomato-y as I'd hoped. There was slight heat from the pepper flakes but nothing alarming. It was made in a bread machine.

Tomato basil bread (1-1/2 pound loaf)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5/8 cup tomato juice (low sodium if you can get it)
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (Bob's Red Mill is a good source)
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice or agave syrup
  • handful (3 0r 4) basil leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons instant active dry yeast

Put everything in the bread machine in the order given. Choose medium crust. Press start.

Now for the fun part. For the sandwiches, I used a piece of Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella that was left over from making pizza last week. I've noticed that this cheese spoils really fast - I was surprised to find it still white and not pink - and I wanted to use it up. I layered it with tomato from the garden, heated up the waffle iron, sprayed both sides of the sandwich with olive oil, placed it between the grids and "closed" the waffle iron. "Closed" is in quotes because the waffler didn't really close with the sandwich stuck inside of it, but it cooked the sandwich to perfection. It looked really cool as you can see in the picture, and it was crispy and delicate at the same time. I wish I'd done this when my kids were small. I think kids would really enjoy sandwiches made this way. And although the cheese doesn't LOOK melted, it was. The sandwich was served with broccoli from our garden with raspberries from the CSA for dessert.

October 01, 2008

Dairy Facts

The amount of dairy cheese consumed by the U.S. population has steadily increased since the 1970s, and currently more than 70 pounds are consumed by each person every year. Ever wonder what, exactly, goes into all that cheddar, jack and Swiss?

Roughly one gallon of milk is required to make one pound of cheese.
Calves—the intended recipients of cows' milk—require only 16 pounds of milk per day, but the average dairy cow is forced to produce roughly 50 pounds of milk daily.

Cows naturally live to around age 25, but most dairy cows are slaughtered at age five, after their reproductive organs have failed to function due to severe abuse.
Female calves face the same future as their mothers—becoming dairy cows—and male calves are confined, intentionally malnourished, and slaughtered to make veal.

From : Sept/Oct 2008 VegNews page 79