Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Official Unofficial Start of Summer!

We went out to Brooklyn today for the BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) Street Festival. This is our second year going and it has become our family's official unofficial summer kick-off event. Last year, I was pregnant with Z2. (This year, I played myself once again and tried to rock the Peg Perego Double Stroller I blogged about before. I am now totally convinced that the stroller must go. I have to make time to take pictures so I can put it on Craig's list and see how much I can get for it. If no one buys it, I'm freecycling it. If no one wants it then, I have to find out where I can donate it.) Anyway . . . we had a fabulous time, as usual. It's always a joy to see beautiful Black people being warm, friendly and loving towards each other. I love to see all the talented and industrious folks selling their wares and even though I rarely see anything new anymore (I've been going to street festivals in NY for years now), I never tire of going. This year, I did find something new though: hand-blended specialty teas made by a company called Not Just Tea. These teas are simply delicious and rival my favorite Numi teas. And since it's a Black owned company, it's a pleasure, no a duty of mine to support it!

If you know me, you know I'm one of the pickiest eaters there are. At the street festival last year, in a fit of pregnancy induced hunger, I bought an $8 vegetarian plate from one of the vendors. It was gross. Just gross. This year, I decided to make Jamaican "Beef" Patties. For events that require us to be out all day, patties are a great option because they're very portable, taste good even if they're not piping hot, and Z1 *adores* them and can eat 2 or 3 in one sitting. Now, we don't eat processed soy on a regular basis at all (I don't think it's the best for us) but these patties taste so authentic using Lightlife Smart Round that I allow it once or twice a year.

Picture:



















Recipe:

PASTRY
2 c unbleached all-purpose white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tbsp. Jamaican curry powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) non-hydrogenated vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
1/3 cup really cold water

Sift together the flour, salt and curry powder in a large bowl. Cut in the margarine. Add the water and and mix until the dough comes together. (I do this in the Kitchenaid). You may need to add a tbsp or so of water if you find that it's not coming together--be patient though. Lightly flour your rolling surface and rolling pin and roll out the dough until it's about 1/8" thick. Cut out circles 8" in diameter.

"BEEF" FILLING
2 tbsp. non-hydrogenated vegan margarine (Again, I use Earth Balance
half of a large yellow onion or one small yellow onion, chopped fine
1/2 of one Scotch bonnet pepper (leave the seeds for more fire), chopped fine
One 12 oz. package Lightlife Smart Round
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. Jamaican curry powder
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1/2 cup vegetable stock

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a heavy bottomed skilled (I use cast-iron), saute the onion and Scotch bonnet pepper until the onions are translucent. Add the spices and continue to saute until they are fragrant. Add the Smart Round and brown it about 5 mins. Add the vegetable stock and stir until it is absorbed (but not dry). You mixture should be moist but not watery. Place 2-3 tbsp. of your mixture into each dough circle and fold the circle in half. Seal the edges. You can use a fork to pinch the edges closed and for a decorative element.

Bake for 30 mins. till the pastry is golden brown.

Yum!!!~~

I'm not sure if Z1 loves the patties using the Smart Round of if he just loves the patty concept (no one loves bread more than my Z1). So . . . I'm going to try to fill the patties with a spicy, steamed cabbage and kale (or calalloo) or with seitan and see if he goes for it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The absolute best homemade veggie burger

I made tonight. Didn't take pictures though! I suck at remembering to take pics. But everyone loved them. I have to say, they were really good and I'm my toughest critic. They were filling and spicy and most importantly, they were firm--I mean firm enough where you could chop them up and put over a salad for lunch. Which is probably why my toddler ate his whole burger. I've been searching for *the* perfect black bean veggie burger and, folks, I think we have a winner. My recipe is a hybrid of two recipes: this one and that one, which were excellent starting points. The recipe makes 6 patties. We have two left. Maybe we'll have burgers for lunch tomorrow and I'll get a picture.

We had the burgers on homemade bread (which I cut circles out of to make "buns") with a simple salad and sweet potato fries . . . seriously delicious.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Makes 6 patties

Ingredients

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. olive oil
¾ cup walnuts
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed or 1 cup cooked black beans
¼ cup medium salsa
¼ cup frozen corn
¾ cup bread crumbs
1 egg replacer (I use Ener-G egg replacer)
Salt and pepper to taste

Topping
1-2 large mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced finely
¼ cup onions, diced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a heavy bottom pan, sauté the diced onion for 2 minutes. Add garlic and spices and continue to sauté until fragrant being careful not to burn the garlic. Remove this mixture with a slotted spoon and reserve in a bowl. This will leave a spicy, red olive oil in the pan. You will use this later to make the topping.

In the food processor, pulse the walnuts until they reach a coarse chop—don’t over pulse. Add the black beans, salsa, corn, bread crumbs and sautéed onions and egg replacer. Turn the food processor on and run it till the mixture is paste. Taste it and add salt and pepper till it tastes right to you. Process to incorporate. Let mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.

Spray or brush a cookie sheet with olive oil. Form mixture into six patties and place on cookie sheet. Spray or brush tops of patties with olive oil.

Bake for 15 minutes. Flip them once and bake for 5 minutes more.

Now for the topping. In the same pan and oil you used before, sauté the onions, mushrooms and garlic just until the onions are translucent.

Once the burgers are done, serve on warmed burger buns or in pita bread or by themselves. Spoon some of the topping onto the top of the burgers. Enjoy with sweet potato or zucchini fries.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I cast on

For the baby surprise jacket today. Actually, I cast on twice. I'm using a provisional cast on for the sleeve portions of the jacket so that I can extend the sleeves later. First off, casting on this way had eluded me until I found that particular site. Anytime directions involve a crochet hook, I'm always more comfortable so it was rather easy to cast on. Then I had to figure out how to cast on the body section (I usually do a long tail cast on). I decided to do a cable cast on, which worked well. Well, I got confused and ended up with a total of 156 stitches when I was supposed to have 160. And I forgot to place my markers. I thought about just increasing the stitches in the appropriate sections since it was fairly labor intensive to cast on in the first place. In the end, I decided to frog it and do it again. No small feat especially with an almost 3 year old and 5 month old. But, now I am well on my way and I can't wait to see what this turns out like even though my markers are wonky.

As for DH's cotton hat with the Manos del Uruaguay Stria (cotton yarn), I think the whole thing was a disaster. The yarn is plied and not worsted--I didn't realize that this wouldn't really suit the purpose, i.e., it needs to be a strong, durable type of yarn. And it's not. I popped a few stitches just trying to get it on my head and my head is smaller than DH's. Cotton yarn does not give at all but at least usually you can rely on its strength. Not in this case. And this was pretty pricey yarn. At least the color is pretty. Luckily, DH found a black cotton net type hat I made out of crochet cotton (bedspread weight) a while back. He modified the brim by changing it from a drawstring to 2 inches of single crochet with a row of crab stitch to finish it off. And it hold his hair and he seems to love it now. And since it was a net pattern I used, it's light and airy--perfect for summer.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chocolate Creme Pie

I finally got around to making a chocolate creme pie. I bought the silken tofu, chocolate chips and graham crackers over two weeks ago. So, I made it today and it was so rich and decadent as usual--hard to believe it's tofu! So here's the recipe, made extremely easy if you have a food processor.

Graham Cracker Crust
About 15 graham crackers
2 tbsp. Earth Balance or vegetable oil
1 tbsp. liquid sweetener (I used maple syrup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pulse all together until it comes together. Press into a pie dish. Bake for 10 mins. Let cool.

Chocolate Creme Filling
1 package silken tofu
1/2 bag vegan chocolate chips (or more to taste--I use 1/2 bag of semi-sweet chips)
1 tbsp. good quality alcohol-free vanilla flavoring (I get mine at Trader Joe's)

Melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler. Blend the tofu, melted chocolate chips and vanilla in a food processor or blender. Pour into prepared graham cracker crust. Chill in the fridge for a few hours (minimum 2 or as long as you can keep your family and friends away from the absolutely fabulous dessert).

You can dress this up by shaving chocolate curly cues on top or grating chocolate on top or sprinkling on coconut flakes. You can also crush up vegan Oreo type cookies on type. During the holiday season, Trader Joe's makes a minty Oreo-type cookie that's vegan. This is such an easy dessert to make but with great results.

Ta-da!!!
The day after . . .

It is sooooo good!

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