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Vegan MoFo: Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday! For my first Thankful Thursday, I want to express my gratitude for the food growers of the country. They’re passionate about what they do, they don’t get nearly enough love and they work harder than most of us could ever imagine. Please, go to your farmers market or your local farm, and thank a grower.

I’m completely spoiled. I live just outside California’s Central Valley, so I have the opportunity to eat local and have a relationship with growers in the area. I try to hit the farmer’s markets as often as I can, I try to visit local farms in the area, and, lucky for us, Fresno State has an amazing farm on campus with a fantastic farm store.

During the long, fruitless winter months, I long for summer produce. It doesn’t matter what the calendar says, summer starts when cherries are in season. From there, I look forward to tomatoes and corn (Fresno State grows the best. It’s not organic, but it is GMO-free). Then summer squash and peppers. I know the end of summer is near with the Fay Elberta peach crop. They signal the beginning of peach season, and my favourite time of year. Around the beginning of August, the Fay Elbertas are available. They’re only around for about a week, and they can be hard to find, but, they are the best peaches on the planet. If you can find some, it’s worth the hunt. Once peach season begins, I have about 6 weeks to gorge myself on locally grown peaches. So far this season, I’ve had 6 different varieties (and still, there are more to be had!). I eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert. One of my favourite desserts is pandowdy. Mostly because halfway through baking, I get to smash the crust into the pie.

Endless Pandowdy

Endless Pandowdy

Tonight, instead of the traditional pie-shaped pandowdy, I made a 9×11 massive pandowdy.

Summer Peach Pandowdy (adapted from my peach pie filling recipe)

4 lbs peaches

3Tbl tapioca starch

1/3 C sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

a shake of nutmeg

Your favourite pie crust (I can’t lie, I was too lazy to make my own tonight. I used a frozen one)

Mix filling ingredients and add to pan. Lay your crust over the filling and bake at 425 for about 20 minutes. Pull the pan out of the oven and turn the oven down to 350. Slice the crust into 1 inch diamonds (like baklava!). Take a spoon and smash (gently) the diamonds into the filling.

Return it to the oven and bake at 350 for 28 minutes.

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VeganMoFo Day 4 – The fluffiest pancakes

itssofluffy

Seriously, These are the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever made. Every time you feed your sourdough starter, you’re supposed to throw out all of it except 4oz. I hate to waste it, and have found a handful of great looking recipes for the unfed (or throwaway) starter. Pancakes is one of them.

Stack 'em high

Stack ’em high

I used the King Arthur Flour Classic Sourdough Waffles or Pancakes recipe. Their recipe calls for buttermilk. I used Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond Milk + apple cider vinegar to make buttermilk. It also calls for 2 eggs. I left them out and added 2tsp of baking powder (in addition to the baking soda). The recipe makes 28 pancakes, so be prepared to feed at least 7 people. Or just be very hungry.

I topped them with soy-free Earth Balance and homemade boysenberry syrup. Killer.

A mountain of fluffy pancakes

A mountain of fluffy pancakes

Vegan MoFo Day 25; Spicy Pepper Jelly

Every year, our pepper plants are more prolific than we expect, and every year, we plant way too many of them. My absolute favourite way to use up excess peppers is in pepper jelly. I especially love to put it on top of a bagel & Better Than Cream Cheese. I also love to just dip crackers into it. Or spread it on crackers… whichever.

Photo10220914

This recipe makes a lot. 12 half pint jars. Actually, I think I got 12 4oz jars and 7 half pint (8oz) jars. You’re going to want to make at least this much. Trust me.

The beautiful thing about jelly is that if you don’t have the means to water bath your jars. You can still do it. Once you’ve put the hot jelly into the warm, sanitized jars, make sure your lids are on tight, and flip them upside down. Let them stay that way 24 hours. They seal almost every time.

You’ll need:

2C chopped green bell pepper

2/3C chopped jalapeno

4 chopped habenero peppers

12C sugar

3C apple cider vinegar

2 boxes Sure Jell pectin (yes, it’s Kraft brand, and they’re terrible for any number of reasons, but, it’s all I can find locally. If you choose not to use it, you’re going to need 3.5 oz dry pectin)

Pulse your peppers in a food processor until finely minced (just leave them chopped if you’d rather have big chunks of peppers in your jelly, or do half and half, it’s up to you)

Combine peppers, sugar, and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a rolling boil (It took me a good 15 minutes, but, I’m at a high elevation. I’m willing to bet, if you live near sea-level, it’ll only take 5-10 minutes)

Stir in pectin.

Add to jars, leaving about a 1/2 inch head room.

If you’re using a water bath, process for 13 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes in bath before removing. Let sit 24 hours before storing.

Vegan MoFo Day 17; Dehydrating

I can’t believe it’s already day 17 of Vegan MoFo! Where has the month gone? I feel terrible about not blogging as much as I have in the past for Vegan MoFo, but, it’s been a busy month, and, honestly, when I signed up, I wasn’t sure I’d get more than a post a week in. 😦

So, this one’s a quickie. Dehydrating is pretty easy, and you can dehydrate anything.

I usually store dehydrated goods in an airtight container in the fridge, if it’s still moist; in the freezer, if I plan on keeping it a while; or in my pantry, if I know I’ll probably be using it quickly, and there isn’t much moisture left in it.

A few dehydrating tips:

1. when foods are still warm from the dehydrator, they’re going to be more flexible than they will when they cool down.

2. try to cut your food into chunks or slices that are about the same size. That way, they’ll all be done at the same time.

3. If you’re dehydrating different foods at the same time, remember, they may not all be finished at the same time. Keep them on separate trays, so, when one is finished, you can easily remove it.

Today, I started my second-favourite dehydrated food – watermelon. It tastes like candy. You should all do it. Just remember, the watermelon will shrink to less than half its original size.

Tomorrow’s post, more peaches! Stay tuned!

Vegan MoFo weekend two; Chopped Challenge

Happy weekend, foodies!

This weekend’s challenge is a “Chopped” challenge. In our baskets this weekend, we have:

Butternut squash, popcorn, fresh rosemary, and apricot preserves

The challenge is a brunch challenge, so we have to make brunch with these four ingredients. I was totally worried at first. I’ve never cooked with popcorn before. And I certainly never would have thought to put these flavours together.

I decided to go with one of my favourite brunch/breakfast/snack items – muffins. I can’t get enough muffins. Especially if they’ve got a crumb topping.

I give you – Apricot Filled Butternut Squash Muffins with Caramel Corn Crumb Topping.

Roast a small squash (you’re only going to need a cup of mashed squash). Once it’s roasted, spoon out the inside and smash it up. Set aside.

For the caramel corn:

3 quarts popcorn (pop 1/3 C kernels in 1T coconut oil)

1/2C coconut oil (measured solid)

1C brown sugar

1/4C dark corn syrup

1/2tsp salt

1tsp vanilla

1/4tsp baking soda

melt coconut oil in sauce pan. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it’s at a boil, let it boil 5 minutes without stirring. Take off heat, add baking soda and vanilla.

Pour over popcorn, mix well. Spread popcorn over a baking pan. Bake at 250* for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the muffins:

1/2C your favourite vegan shortening

1C sugar

1/2C non-dairy milk

1C mashed butternut squash

a 2 inch sprig of rosemary

2C flour

3tsp baking powder

1/2tsp salt

3T apricot preserves

Take leaves off rosemary stems and smash them up really well in a mortar. Add to squash.

Cream the shortening and sugar. Add non-dairy milk. Add squash/rosemary mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to sugar/squash mixture.

Fill greased large muffin pan halfway. Add 1/2 tsp apricot preserves to each muffin. Top with remaining dough.

Bake at 375* for 30 minutes. Top with chopped caramel corn, and bake another 5 minutes to melt the caramel onto the muffins.

Makes 6 giant muffins, or 12 regular sized muffins.

Vegan MoFo, Day 12; Pickled Peaches

Sorry for the very long delay in getting this awesome peaches post to you! Trust me, it’s worth the wait.

 

Our peach tree doesn’t always produce peaches. When it does, there aren’t very many of them, they’re usually not tasty, and are mostly pit. One year, we got peaches the size of softballs. It was awesome, but, it hasn’t happened in about 10 years. So, this year, we were shocked to see peaches growing everywhere on this thing. Seriously, everywhere. A huge branch broke off the tree because there were so many on it. And they taste amazing – perfectly sweet, great texture. All-in-all, great peaches. Oh, and they’re about the size of apricots. Tiny. Two or three bites tiny. Perfect for lunch boxes (If you’re going to pack six…), perfect for on-the-go, and perfect for pickles.

Never had a pickled peach? They’re great on bundt cake, ice cream, cheesecake, oatmeal, cereal, or straight out of the jar.

They’re a lot of work. Especially when you’ve got peaches as small as mine – it took 30 peaches to fill three and a half 8oz jars. Woah. That’s a lot of peeling for very few pickles. Is it worth it? I think so. But, not all the time. Maybe even not every year. It’s a great once-in-a-while treat to put together on a weekend day you want to spend in the kitchen.

peaches

You’re going to need:

6 pint jars (or 12 half pint, aka jelly, aka 8oz, jars)

For the syrup:

3 cinnamon sticks

6-8 whole cloves

a knob of fresh ginger, sliced into a few rounds

3 1/3 C apple cider vinegar (while I’m a big fan of raw ACV everywhere else, don’t use it when canning)

5 C sugar

For the peaches:

1lb of peaches/pint – so, for this recipe, you’re going to use about 6lbs – ideally, you’re going to use small peaches, but, I know they’re really hard to find. If you can’t find them, no big deal, just get what you can

enough water to cover the peaches (about 8 cups) – and squeeze the juice of one lemon into it

Throw your spices into a reusable tea bag (large), cheesecloth pouch, or big tea diffuser. Bring spices, sugar, and ACV to a boil in a large pot (you’re going to have to fit all your peaches into it later) Turn off heat, let sit while you process the peaches.

Peel and halve each peach (if you’re using big peaches, quarter them) and put them in the lemon water.

Once you’re finished with the peaches, bring your syrup back to a boil and add the peaches. Return to a boil, and turn off heat.

Add peaches to prepared pint jars, leaving about an inch of head-space. Top with syrup, leaving a half inch head-space.

Once jars are full, process for 20 minutes. Once done, turn off heat and let jars sit 5 minutes. Place them on cooling rack and let sit 24 hours. As always, refrigerate any jars that don’t seal.

Vegan MoFo Iron Chef Challenge; 1st Weekend: Beetroot!

Okay, so I was going to take a weekend break from Vegan MoFo blogging, as I’m running out the door to go camping. However, when I saw that beets are the secret ingredient, I couldn’t just leave it alone. One of my favourite pickled foods is beets. They’re even better if you pickle them with radishes. They’re great on sandwiches, veggie burgers, salads, and all alone. Make these.

Roasted Pickled Beets and Radishes

You’re gonna need:

6 pint jars
10 beets (about 3lbs)
4 cups radishes
1/3C sugar
1T canning salt
2 3/4 C vinegar
2 1/2 C water

Roast beets in foil for 45 minutes. Let cool, then peel. Once peeled, cut into wedges.
Cut radhishes into wedges.
Prepare your canning equipment.
In a large-ish pot, combine sugar, salt, vinegar, and water. Bring to a boil. Let it boil for about a minute. Add beets and radishes and let it all simmer until heated through. Remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to tightly pack the beets and radishes into the jars – you’ll want to leave about an inch of headspace. Once packed, pour liquid in jars – you’ll want to leave about a half inch of headspace. After removing air bubbles, add more liquid if necessary. Place lids and rings on jars
Place jars in pot and return to a boil. Process for about 30 minutes. Once finished, let the jars sit in water for about 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a cooling rack and let sit for 24 hours. Refrigerate (and enjoy) any jars that don’t seal.

Vegan MoFo Day 3; Canned Whole Tomatoes

I know canning intimidates a lot of people, but, really, it’s pretty easy. And generally pretty forgiving. These tomatoes are just about the easiest thing I’ve ever made.

The worst part about canning tomatoes is having to peel them. the easiest way to do this is to slice an “x” in the bottom of each tomato and throw them in boiling water until the skin begins to pull away from the fruit. Then, dump them in ice water to stop the cooking. Once cool, it’s really easy to pull the skin away from the fruit.

Once your tomatoes are peeled, pack them tightly into wide mouth jars. It takes approximately 3lbs of tomatoes per quart. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of lemon over quart of tomatoes. Once packed, screw on the lids, and water-bath for 45 minutes (I live at a high altitude, but, honestly, with this recipe, I don’t think you need to adjust anything for altitude).

Once done, place on a cooling rack (or a pot holder) and let them be overnight.

Use these later for great sauces or soups. My tomatoes are funny colours because I used yellow, black, and red tomatoes.

Vegan MoFo Day 2; Fermented Hot Sauce AKA The Best Hot Sauce You’ll Ever Eat

Fermented hot sauce is my new favourite thing to make. It is so, so, so good. And it gives me something to do with my excess peppers. And my pepper plants are out of control. I have never seen such tall pepper plants, so full of fruit.

Last night’s hot sauce mixture consisted of garlic, habenero, Serrano, and jalapeno chilies. It’s super easy, and, the recipe isn’t actually mine. It comes from Well Preserved, one of my favourite online resources for preserving (though not everything they post is vegan). The recipe can easily be customised, as it’s more suggestions for great hot sauce, and can be played with according to your tastes. This is their most recent post on fermenting hot sauce, however they have three or four I recommend checking out. Because I ferment in a mason jar, I use this post.

Peppers fermenting for hot sauce

After about a week, the peppers are ready to be pureed. You have the option of then straining your puree or leaving it as is. I like it chunky, so I don’t strain it.

Vegan MoFo 2012; Day 1: Happy Vegan MoFo!

It’s the first day of the Vegan Month of Food! Happy Vegan MoFo!

Still don’t know what VeganMoFo is? It’s a blogger celebration of vegan foods started 6 years ago at The Post Punk Kitchen. Read about it here.

Interested in following VeganMoFo? Check out my posts from the last two years, visit the VeganMoFo blog, pull up #VeganMoFo on Twitter, and, most importantly, subscribe to the VeganMoFo rss feed.

My theme this year is Preserving the Harvest. I know many of you around the country are winding down on their local summer harvests, but, mine still seems to be in full swing. Our pepper plants are a little out of control (There will be pepper jelly!), we still have tomato-heavy plants, and I finally got my first zucchini of the year. While we’ve still got loads of summer food left to preserve, our fall harvest is starting to come in. Our peach tree is so heavy with fruit, a huge branch broke off it. For all those peaches, we only got a few apples on three trees. Luckily, there’s a great local orchard who grows the best apples I’ve ever eaten.

I don’t know if I’ll get a post in daily this year, but, I’m shooting for 3-4 posts per week, with at least one recipe per week.

Is there anything you want to see preserved? Any preservation techniques you want me to write about? Let me know!

 

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