Monday, March 27, 2017

Spicy Peanut-Free Sauce for Tofu, Pasta or Potatoes

This is a sauce recipe that I've used for quite a few meals. Mostly I've used it for a pasta and tofu dish similar to a much loved dish Pad Thai.

This makes a peanut-free version using almonds. But I have sometimes been short of the amount of almonds I need, so the recipe below shows the variation I used today. You can use mostly almonds and then make up the difference with other nuts or seeds. No big deal.

(By all means, if you use peanuts/peanut butter in your home, feel free to go ahead and use that instead. The recipe will still be delicious. Whatever nut or seed butter you use, please use unsalted varieties without other added ingredients. I like using whole nuts and seeds for a fresh, more raw sauce.)

If you have some tofu, bell pepper, some pasta, maybe some snow peas, you can make a great meal with this. The tofu can be cubed, then baked or broiled.

This recipe makes enough to dress a pound of pasta with veggies, etc on the side.

Spicy Peanut-Free Sauce

2/3 cup whole raw almonds OR 1/3 cup almond butter, unsalted (or other nut/seed butter)      
(I used a combination of almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds)
2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup (or 1 1/2 Tablespoon maple syrup)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce (can be soy-free with coconut aminos instead)
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar (can use apple cider vinegar)
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon tahini or sesame seeds
1 fresh garlic clove or 1/2 teaspoon dried granulated garlic
1 Tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili paste (or a mildly spicy curry paste) OR 1/4 teaspoon or less crushed red pepper
2 Tablespoons water, pasta water or vegetable broth

Throw this all into a good blender. Blend until smooth, only takes a couple of minutes. After you take this out of the blender, place the sauce into a bowl, then rinse the blender with about 1/4 cup of water and add it to the sauce. Don't forget this step! Otherwise it will be way too salty and extra thick. Mix together in bowl. Now it's ready to add to a pasta or potatoes or just about anything. You can even use it as a dip. This may taste a little salty on its own, but after you put it on pasta, etc, it should even out.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

20 Years and Counting...


 I just wanted to acknowledge an important milestone for my journey as a vegetarian. Twenty years does seem like a long time, however, we all know that time can go by so quickly. It was in late November and early December of 1996 that I began my vegetarian journey.

     So far, I have no plans to go back. I rather enjoy all that I have learned in these years in regards to plant based foods. I enjoy learning about other ethnic cuisines and foods that I can experiment with in different ways.

     I am still learning so much in regards to food. I suppose that one never stops learning in life really.  I hope that my writing can encourage others on their journey.

     Blessings, everyone!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Summer Vegetable Bake - Ratatouille Style

This is so good. In honor of Baby Isaac, for your family today!

Place in a baking pan, the following puree, made with a blender:

1 onion, in quarters
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, in pieces
2 garlic cloves
3 cups of chopped tomatoes (canned ok)
salt/seasoned salt (as desired)
pinch of red pepper
black pepper (optional, as desired)
basil, fresh or dried (as desired)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. After puree is made and placed in baking pan, layer on top the following in a decorative pattern:

 4-5 medium tomatoes, sliced
1-2 zucchini, sliced
1-2 yellow summer squash
1 eggplant, sliced (optional, not pictured)

Bake for 2 hours covered, then uncover and bake another 30 minutes. Adjust temperature and times as needed.

Optional: After baking, top with some coconut/olive oil and seasoned salt.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Yummy Popcorn

When invited somewhere and asked to bring a snack to contribute to a table for an informal evening, I often bring popcorn. After a friend showed me a recipe from a Bragg's bottle of apple cider vinegar, I knew I had to try it at home. It's still uses the same basic recipe. Whether you pop your popcorn in a kettle on the stove or air pop, this is a good way to enjoy!

Yummy Popcorn

Start with popped popcorn, then add in amounts as desired:

melted coconut oil (unless you popped on stovetop)
soy sauce (Liquid Aminos, coconut aminos, Nama Shoyu, etc.)
apple cider vinegar or brown rice vinegar
nutritional yeast
seasoned salt or other salted/no-salt blend you like
mustard powder
garlic, fresh crushed and minced or dried
cayenne pepper

Other optional add-ins:
curry powder

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sweet Garlic Soy Sauce

I cannot take credit for this. I have had this recipe for a long time and do not know where it came from. If anyone knows of the original inventor of this recipe, please let me know. It is so good!

Sweet Garlic Soy Sauce

Whisk together in a small saucepan:
2 tablespoons arrowroot
1/4 cup water

Then add:
2 Tablespoons honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup shiitake mushroom broth* or water

Put on stove to heat until boiling, keeping a close watch. Then simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens.

Stir in:
1 clove garlic, crushed first, then minced

Turn off heat and let thicken further. Serve any temperature. Can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator in a glass jar. Goes well with nori rolls and spring rolls.

*Note: I routinely rehydrate shiitake mushrooms when I make spring rolls or nori rolls, so I often have this broth freshly made. One time I decided to use it for this and it added so much flavor that I kept it in the recipe.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Showers of Blessing

March 17, 2007

During the night, we had our first rain in months. Maybe we are at the end of the dry season, we will see. We have a woman who comes and helps with cleaning. Later in the morning I could hear her singing the hymn, “Showers of Blessing” at the top of her lungs. Earlier I had asked her about the rain and if she was cold (it cools down considerably when it rains here). Yes, she is cold. 

Later I check the temperature. It’s 82 degrees. That is chili for Ghana. Maybe today it won’t hit higher than 90 degrees in the house as usual lately. It continues to rain lightly here this morning. Everyone will rejoice today and try to stay warm as the rains have come to wet this dry, dusty, thirsty land. 

*I wrote the above when we were living in Ghana, more than a year before I started this blog. I was working on condensing files on our computer, when I found this today. What a breath of fresh air!

The photo was taken at Till's Beach near Cape Coast. For us, it was a much welcomed retreat while we lived in Ghana. I love this shot. Good memories! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Red Red from Ghana (Black-Eyed Peas with Plantains)

I have so many foods I miss from Ghana. It's hard to believe we've been back for almost 6 1/2 years now. This meal took us right back. My husband loved this meal and it was his usual lunch on school days. It was easily his favorite and most frequent meal in Ghana.

Named "Red Red" for a couple of reasons. When we asked why it was named this way in Ghana, they would tell us that the ripe plantains are called red and from the red palm oil. When I was checking on the name online, I came up with many recipes that included tomatoes in them. Since we don't recall tomatoes being part of the dish we remember, I opted to go middle road with some tomato paste for flavor. Tomato paste is used very frequently in Ghana. Also, traditionally the plantains are deep fried in a less than healthy oil. We opted to bake them, and didn't notice much of a difference. They were perfectly sweet and soft on their own, to compliment the beans.

There are a couple of ingredients in this meal that made it difficult to make this meal authentic until recently when we found some gari, made from cassava. One other ingredient was the red palm oil, harvested from palm oil trees.

My husband says it's a keeper. We all loved it. Enjoy!

Red Red (Black-Eyed Peas with Plantains) 

In a large skillet, heat:
1/2 cup red palm oil

Add and cook until soft:
1-2 onions, sliced
1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped (optional)
5 cloves garlic, pressed and chopped

Add and let cook for a couple of minutes:
1 teaspoon curry powder
red pepper (to taste, or use the chili and onion condiment below)
1 Tablespoons tomato paste
salt to taste

Finally add, and let simmer:
4-6 cups cooked black-eyed peas (save the cooking liquid)
(This is about what you get when you cook up 1 pound dry beans)
bean cooking water for thinning the stew to almost soupy

Meanwhile, prepare the baked plantains:

Put into a mixing bowl:
6 very very ripe (entirely black) plantains, washed, peeled and cut into about 1 inch sections
about 1 Tablespoon coconut oil (you could try baking them without oil, it works!)

Toss the plantains with the oil (if desired) and arrange on a baking sheet in single layer.
Bake at 350 F until done (softened), about 30-45 minutes.

Serve up the Red Red with some slices of baked plantain. Making sure there is liquid for the gari to sprinkle on and soak up, enjoy as a meal.

Process fresh red chili pepper in a mortar and pestle, adding some salt. Stir in some thinly sliced red onion (more typical in Ghana, but you may use any kind of onion for this). Put on the table to serve alongside as a condiment.