Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jo's Homerun Medley

Jo Donna hit a homerun at dinner last night with this veggie medley dish.
NOTE: this does contain some oil, but not much. If you wish, you can substitute water or vegetable broth for the oil (EVOO)

Here's how ...
* Dice 1 medium yellow (sweet) onion
* And slice 4 large button mushrooms
-- saute these in about 2 tsps of water until the onion starts to caramelize and the mushrooms begin to darken;
* add in 3 peeled and very thinly sliced medium red potatoes - stir together
* mix in about 1 1/2 cups of frozen (or fresh if you have them) sliced yellow and zuc squashes
-- add tiny amounts of water as necessary to keep the veggies from sticking
* season with 2 tsps of EVOO, salt, pepper, and gomasio
* toss until everything is crispy done
* sprinkle with 1/2 - 1 cup of either shredded soy mozzarella cheese or organic creme cheese

Jo brought this to the table where I was crowing about how wonderful my vegan Spinach pizza was ... I wound up jealous of her medley over my pizza! Whatta girl!!

c ya!

OATMEAL! for dinner!???

If you haven't tried steel cut oatmeal yet, MAN! are you in for a treat! I was first tempted to try Mccann's Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal because of its being from Ireland. I'm a dead sucker for anything from Eire, from Kerrygold cheeses and butter, to an occasional Guinness stout ("It's good for you!"), and now Irish oats.

First, why Irish and steel cut instead of American rolled oats. Several reasons, but here are the top three:

1) Mccann's are purer. As many of you know, my sweetheart Jo Donna is allergic to gluten, which is found in wheat. She can't eat anything with wheat flour in it - breads, cake, pie, breaded fried foods, pizza, many candies, etc, etc, etc. Now oats are gluten free, but she hasn't been able to eat them because they get contaminated during processing with flour which is ground and prepared in the same facilities as almost all oatmeal brands. Except, it turns out, Mccann's from Ireland who only mill oats in their facilites, and therefore keep them pure of the nasty gluten she can't eat.

2) Steel cut oats are much, much better for a body than rolled oats. Rolled oats are partially cooked (steamed) before the rolling process, then steamed again afterwards. This removes some of the nutrients. Steel-Cut Oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into two or three pieces using steel discs. This process preserves all the natural nutrients and flavor of the oat.

3) Irish oats are better quality. Quoting from their website: "The temperature, humid climate of Ireland promotes the slow ripening of the grain. It enables the oats to draw the goodness from the soil and yield up a crop with fuller, plumper grains." (Sure, and isn't everything better in Ireland!)

READ MORE ABOUT Mccann's Oats at
(BTW, you may be askin' your self, "Now Seamus, me boy, is this an advert for old Mccann's?" HA! I only wish! If anyone from Mccann's wants to toss money my way, though, I have a big basket to catch it in!!!!)

Now the recipe for super oatmeal for dinner:

Prepare the oats as directed on the can:
* four cups of water, brought to a boil
* one cup of oats stirred in
* boil for a few minutes, until they begin to get a little creamy, then
* simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes

at this point the oats are done and you could eat them as is, but wait! there's more ...

* add 1 tsp of sea salt
* stir in 2 tsp of non-dairy butter spread (we use Smart Balance Light with Flax Oil)
* add one tablespoon of milled flax seeds (not just the seeds, but the ground ones you find with the baking goods)
* mix in 1/4 cup of vegetarian bacon bits

Stir this all together and cover the pot tightly; let it sit for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to merge.

Serve this nutty, rich, super dish either as a main course or as a side dish.

You're welcome.!

Tofu basics AND Bar-be-que Riblets

Jo and I have officially fallen head-over-heels in love with tofu! This stuff is great - you can basically do anything with it, from baking a knock out bar-b-que to scrambling "eggs" for breakfast to even making mayo or sour cream substitutes. But first you gotta know how to work it, and work it right!

When I get that initial "ewwww" yucky face response to tofu from the unenlightened, I tend to follow up with a simple example question: "but do you like potatoes?" I ask all innocent-like to draw them y'see. Which always gets a " why sure I do." response. Then I hand them (if I have one handy) a raw, unpeeled potato and say, "well here you go, dig in!" "B-b-b-ut I can't eat this, it's raw!" they stutter (they always stutter when faced with superior reasoning, don't they).
Same thing with tofu. Raw, unpeeled potato equals raw, unprepared tofu. Both need preparation to be tasty.

Here's how to prep the tofu (figure out the potato your own self!):

* first, get organic tofu. (chemicals bad!)
* also first (first.b) get the freshest tofu package you can find - dig to the back of the counter to find the latest stocked items (I learned that when I worked at a grocery store in 1977!)
-- later at home--
* pierce the top of the package and drain the water the tofu is packed in
* slice the tofu into whatever size pieces are appropriate for your intended recipe (you'll understand when you get going)
* slip these tofu chunks into simmering, almost-but-not-quite-boiling water for about three minutes (slipping prevents splashing and the resulting burning, screaming and dropping of tofu which is painful to even watch)
* after simmering for three minutes, remove the tofu slices with a slotted spoon, and lay them out on a cloth (cheese cloth, tight-weave dish towl, paper towels, old t-shirt, etc)
* fold the above referenced cloth over the tofu and press it to squeeze out as much water as possible - this isn't a strength contest, don't smash the tofu - it will be fairly firm, so press firmly

This batch of tofu is now ready for whatever culinary masterpiece you have in store for it! such as ...

Bar-B-Que Riblets!
[NOTE: no animals were harmed in the making of this dish. Isn't that nice? Yeah.]

"Hey now! If going vegan or vegetarian means giving up muh real Texas bar-b-que, y'all can color me outta here!"
Ah, how many times have we heard that bucolic refrain ringing across the back yard grill? Too many to count, right? Well invite your neighbors over for an old-fashioned (but really new-fashioned) bar-b-que they'll talk about for months.

* Prepare tofu as you know how (see above) and cut it into riblet-sized and shaped pieces - approximately 1 inch thick and about two inches wide.
* mix up your favorite bar-b-que sauce - I like a good, bold bottle off the shelf to which I add chopped onions, crushed garlic, cayenne pepper, Tabasco© sauce - basically whatever Jo will let me get away with. The idea here is to get real close to making yourself cry from the heat without overshadowing the taste.
* pour 1/2 the sauce into your baking dish, place the tofu slices thereupon, and pour the rest of the sauce over, making sure all surfaces of the tofu are covered (don't be stingy! Remember the old saying "a penny saved ... is just flat-out cheap!")
* place the aforementioned baking dish into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes
* turn the riblets, making sure, again, they are all covered with the sauce
* return to the oven for another 15 - 20 minutes, depending on how chewy you want your riblets

* Serve with bbq beans and something cold to put out the inevitable (if you fixed the sauce right) fire - cole slaw is good, so is grape juice - fermented or not.

* Most important part: don't forget to invite me for dinner!!!!

Super cornbread - non-dairy

And here's the corn bread we've been eating like two starving heathens:
(basically, we just follow the recipe on the side of the Gold Medal Yellow Cornmeal bag, but make substitutions which make the resulting super version.)

two cups of corn meal (NOT mix - it has flour in it)
FOUR teaspoons of baking powder [NOTE: this has been changed as of 3/1/08]
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (lower sodium but same salty flavor)
-- mix the dry ingredients well --
1 1/2 cup of vanilla soy milk
* two heaping tablespoons of Nayonnaise mayonnaise substitute (this is the egg replacer and the "secret" ingredient that makes it so good)
2 tablespoons of EVOO
-- mix all together well--
Pour into a 9 X 9 glass baking dish which has been sprayed with non-stick spray
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes

eat it hot with Smart Balance Light with Flax Oil!

You can also add vegetarian imitation bacon bits, or corn into the mix. I like to place jalapeno slices on top before putting it in the oven ... but Jo says it's too spicy for her!

"Oh Man!" black bean & corn on the cob soup

When Jo Donna says something like, "Oh! Bobby! You've got to taste this!" I know it's going to be good. Last Saturday she said just that after taking out of the fridge the beans we'd put in just the night before. I took a sip from the spoon she was holding and agreed that this was a winner - and somehow all different from what it was the night before.

We started out with dried black beans - I just tolerate the canned black beans because they're supposed to be so healthy, but the taste is blah - and, after soaking them and rinsing them half a dozen times, cooking them to tenderness, we started the seasoning adventure that makes cooking fun. Since we'd never made black beans from scratch before, we sort of played with the seasonings. We added maybe a teaspoon of sea salt and some Mrs. Dash, and then chopped two medium sized yellow onions for good measure. I was rummaging around in the fridge for ideas and saw some frozen mini-ears of corn in the freezer. Why not? So we popped two of these into the soupy beans and let it cook, covered for another half hour. Then we turned them off and let the pot cool before popping it in the fridge overnight.

The next day, as I said before, was eye-opening! The corn cobs had boiled/steamed/melted into the beans and the flavor was so rich it almost tasted like we'd dumped cream into them! I ate mine over crumbled dairy free cornbread (I'll post that recipe, too), and Jo had hers by themselves. Either way was heavenly. In fact, as we were eating, I was continuing grace in sort of a mumbling, zen mantra thing about "Oh Lord! thank you for this wonderful stuff you made and let us mix together. I wish you could share some of it with us! Hey, can we add this to the feast table menu in heaven?"

Try this - guaranteed satisfaction or your money back ... and I'll eat what's left over!