Vegan Pumpkin Bread

As promised, I’ve dashed off this recipe for those who were eager to get their hands on it. In my opinion, it was good but not great. If I were to make it again, I’d perhaps add a little more oil for that decadent fat flavor. I’d also probably up the spice ante, and may be so bold as to double it. In my infinite wisdom, I bothered to first mix my flax and a little water together as the side of the bag said it was an “egg substitute” and I added molasses thinking the sticky texture would help bind the bread in the absence of eggs. I don’t know if all that extra labor was necessary. Molasses is certainly delicious and should be included. If not on hand, just put in more sugar, either white or brown.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 can pumpkin puree)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • pinch cloves
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix flax with water in a bowl. Add oil and sugars (brown, white and molasses). Mix.
  3. Add pumpkin puree to the wet mixture. Stir to combine.
  4. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl (flours, spices, salt, baking soda)
  5. Pour dry into wet and mix until just combined.
  6. Gently fold in most of the nuts.
  7. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle additional walnuts on the top.
  8. Bake 50 minutes until 1 hour until toothpick comes out clean.

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Salad of the gods: Romaine, Orange, Feta, Almonds in a Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

In an effort to avoid the grocery store and use up my CSA from last week, I quickly threw together this salad for lunch. Upon the first bite I realized:

This salad is amazeballs!!!!

If you find that term annoying then substitute any non-cloying superlative in its place that means “rocktastic” rather than “sucktastic.”

It’s super stellar qualities were further elevated by the ease with which I threw it all together.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 Cup almonds
  • Feta Cheese
  • Honey
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Wash and chop up the romaine. Stick it in a bowl.
  2. Roughly chop the almonds. Throw them on top of the lettuce.
  3. Peel the orange. Cut each section into bite size pieces (I cut it into three pieces each). Throw the orange bits on top of the almond bits.
  4. Squeeze a zig zag of honey across the top of the salad.
  5. Sprinkle some feta on top.
  6. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar on the salad.
  7. Stick a fork in it and shovel into mouth. Feel the “OMG amazeballs” love.

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CSA Season in Swing Again!

Yesterday evening I arrived home from a long day at the office to discover a HUGE mound of fresh veggies on the counter. The CSA season has begun! For those not in the know, CSA stands for “community supported agriculture.” I have me a CSA share, which means for the next 20 weeks I’ll receive a delicious bounty of fresh vegetables every single Wednesday compliments of my farmer man who I paid a sum several moons ago to be one of his “shareholders.”

This is my fourth year with my farmer man- Steven Parker of Parker Farm. It’s hard to believe it’s been so many years now. D thought this was year three, but an email search set the record straight.

Anyway, back to the food. Delicious delicious mass quantities of food. The first week of the 2012 CSA season didn’t disappoint. We got: pea shoots, arugula, bok choy, swiss chard, turnips, carrots, romaine, and cilantro. It’s been a while since I’ve had to strategize and menu plan, so I’m a bit rusty. Last year I was gone for most of the veggie season, so my share was eaten by others.

The arugula and cilantro will both be turned into their own respective pestos, which I’ve written about before. The cilantro pesto I’ll freeze for later use. The carrots were nearly devoured the day they were delivered and will continue to be eaten raw until gone. As I type, I’m roasting the turnips for tomorrow’s lunch. They’ll become the piece de resistance of a pea shoot salad. The bok choy and swiss chard’s days are also numbered. They’ll become a stir fry Friday night, cooked up with the steak I’m defrosting. That leaves me with romaine and turnip greens, which hopefully will also find their way into my belly. I just may get around to posting recipes.

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Rod Dee and El Pelon are Back!

Many moons ago, a dear friend lived on Queensbury Street in the Fenway hood of Boston. She had a victory garden in the fens and the Linwood (now closed) was our surrogate living room where we’d gather several times a week for beers after gardening or a work out at the YMCA. And El Pelon was our delicious go to burrito joint just up a block on the parallel Peterborough Street. It was tucked in a little strip of eateries called Restaurant Row.

One year my husband and I got anniversary sushi at Umi and took it to the Hall’s Pond Sanctuary in Brookline to eat. Rod Dee Thai served up a mean pad thai. I didn’t try the other places, like Thorntons, which is a clean modern sports bar. Sadly, the whole strip of restaurants disappeared after a devastating fire left their insides charred and smoke stained. After years of squabbling over whether to rehab the space or erect a new building from scratch, the matter was finally settled: restaurant row would return. It still took forever, however, to happen.

El Pelon was the first back in business. It has been open over a month now, but I just thought of it and wanted to send a shout out. All their menu items were and are delicious. I have tried many of their items so I know this for a fact. The eatery has a tiny little interior which consists of a few cozy tables and stool seats alongside a wall that are usually all full. In warm months, their seating expands to outdoor picnic tables. There’s often a line.

Rod Dee just opened again next door to El Pelon. They opened so recently they haven’t gotten around to adding this location back to their website. D and I devoured their pad thai this past Monday. It is still delicious and puts other local places to shame.

I recommend all in the Boston area to head down to Peterborough Street in the Fenway neighborhood to check these restaurants out.

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One of my favorite food blogs

One of my go to food blogs for inspiration and ideas is Simply Recipes. It’s been around for a number of years. Started by Elise Bauer, some of the recipes come from her circle of foodie friends, each with their own delicious specialty area. Hank Shaw is the game man, who can explain how to forage your own mushrooms to cook up with the duck you just shot. Gareth will make a cupcake or other dessert so scrumptious looking that you want to forgo dinner so you can eat a whole freshly baked cake instead.

Her site is also great because she’s taken the time to index her recipes by major ingredient and categorizes everything a bit like a cookbook. At least once a week or so a new recipe appears. This woman is after my own heart and sometimes I think she’s peeked into my kitchen. The other week a garlic knot recipe was posted and I couldn’t help exclaiming (add in a little giddy girly squeal) “I just made garlic knots! We’re thinking of the same yummy things!”

I haven’t been cooking up anything new as of late. My recent meals consist of homemade pizzas, bowls of cereal, cheese and lettuce sandwiches, and other things too boring to blog about (save the garlic knots, which I may get to soon). If you’re planning anything for the Superbowl, Simply Recipes has a few great ideas for snacks to serve up.

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I Quit Coffee

This post is not a recipe. It’s a personal “yay me” shout out. I quit coffee. At least during the week. I’m allowing myself to still indulge on weekends, or say a trip out of town with a cup or two.

I never even touched the stuff until I was well into my 20s. I blame my husband entirely for getting me hooked. He was my enabler. For at least the first year or so I never even brewed my own pot. The husband would make coffee and I would beg him to fix me a cup because he had a knack for doing it “just right.”

At first more than one cup would make my hand jitter. If I drank more than one dose while in a coffee shop, I’d have to leave.  Jacked on an intense caffeine high, I was afraid of what scene I may make if I stayed and continued to try and read my book. They say “Redbull gives you wings” but I got some pretty good coffee wings at the start.

This small indulgence digressed into an all out addiction. My husband and I began splitting a 12 cup pot of coffee daily. Then he switched to a night shift at work. A cheapo 12 pot coffee maker can’t really handle a smaller load without it tasting like garbage. Thus, I began to sustain myself with six to eight cups of coffee to myself per day as I still brewed up a full pot every morning.

I began to feel blasé. I couldn’t even start my day until I’d been up for a few hours and drank my fill. For 2012 I didn’t make “resolutions” but I did sit down in early January and think about where my life is headed and where I want to be when I grow up. I set down eight goals for myself for the year. One was to quit coffee.

I’ve been drinking too much of the stuff. It ain’t helping my teeth any. My sugar and cream is helping to fattening me up and sweeten me out. My tum tum ain’t a fan of all that sludge. So, “off coffee” made my list of goals.  It’ll also help with goal #1 of having my booty be 15 pounds lighter.

Surprisingly, it’s the first goal that I can happily put a tentative check mark towards. After a few days of complete and utter fatigue from my cold turkey quit, my life is happy and complete without coffee. The reason why I’m keeping us friends on weekends is because I still love the smell and taste, the ritual of grinding beans and brewing a pot, mixing it “just right” and then spending those moments sipping often to ensure I drink it down while it’s the perfect temperature.

Oh delicious kahawa (coffee in Swahili), I’d just like to say that “It’s not you, it’s me, and I’m sorry we can’t be together any more. Our relationship wasn’t happy or healthy. I was too obsessive. I needed you too much. But, I’m happy we can remain friends and see each other on occasion. I still love you.”

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Banana Bread

Banana bread is wonderfully delicious and easy to whip up, especially if you keep extra ripe bananas frozen in your freezer. This last time, I forgot to take my bananas out early, so I “speed defrosted” them by sticking the frozen bananas on top of the preheating stove. By the time I got everything else together, they were good and soft.

My grandmum always seems to have a loaf around her house. Whenever we’d visit there would be bread sitting on the table, or if we were really lucky, a loaf for each of us to take home. Her bread was always wonderfully moist. She swears her secret is adding a tablespoon of water to the recipe. So, every time I make a loaf, I think of her. I used to make her recipe, but I began to tweak it as it calls for vegetable shortening and three sources of sodium (baking soda, baking powder, salt).

I made one loaf of banana bread about a week ago, with only a few tweaks to my grandmother’s recipe (butter instead of crisco, no water added, less sugar) and it didn’t turn out so hot. It was slightly burnt (even though the recipe said 50-60 minutes) at 50 minutes of cooking and tasted “meh.”  Plus, it was better on the “health” factor but still rather low with all that sodium. Banana bread’s hard to mess up so long as it isn’t brick-quality over burnt so I still ate it, but I figured I could do better. After consulting Simply Recipes banana bread recipe, I came to a happy (and delicious) medium between her recipe and my grandmother’s, which is detailed below.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted or softened to room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt (less than 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 cups walnuts (optional, but very yummy)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash the bananas with the butter and sugar.
  3. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together separately.
  5. Add the flour mixture into the sugary eggy banana butter mush and stir with a spoon until just combined.
  6. Fold in nuts if you’re including them.
  7. Pour into a loaf pan that you’ve sprayed with vegetable oil. These can also easily be muffins, but baking time will be severely reduced.
  8. Bake the banana bread for 45 to 60 minutes. Test with a toothpick at 45 minutes to see if its done (mine was and looked beautiful!).

Enjoy.

 

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Filed under Bakery, Breakfast, Snacks, Sweets