How To Cook Without A Kitchen (Part Two: Employ Slow Cooker)

As you may recall from Part One, my kitchen is undergoing renovation. Here’s the update! There is now a Tetris shape cut into my family room wall! I love it! 2015-07-29 15.09.34 Still no end in sight, though, so this week’s recipe is for the slow cooker using local cabbage and lima beans from my garden. This is the absolute best recipe for working people, people who hate the kitchen, people who hate to cook, people without a kitchen and dopes. (It’s THAT easy.) IMG_0629

Slow Cooker Cabbage Soup

(Serves 8) Gluten Free, Fat Free and Vegan!

Ingredients:

One 32 oz. box low-sodum vegetable stock Three nice-sized carrots, sliced Three stalks celery, sliced One large onion, diced Shredded cabbage, however much your friend gives you One can crushed tomatoes 28 oz. One 15 oz. can low-sodium red beans (or kidney beans) One bunch (about 1/2 pound) cleaned and cut green beans (I used lima beans) One teaspoon salt One-half teaspoon cracked pepper Fresh parsley to taste (optional)

Instructions:

1. Dump the first seven ingredients into a slow cooker. Don’t even stir it together if you don’t want! Just dump. Cover and cook on low for several hours. 2. About one-half hour before serving, add the green beans and remaining seasoning. 3. Garnish with parsley.

How To Cook Without A Kitchen (Part One: Grill It)

After months of talking about it and planning for it, we finally started it.

What’s that?

Kitchen renovation, and we are just wrapping up week one. It was gut wrenching. Or just gut. It was gutted.

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I’ll hit you with “before and after” photos when everything is done, but for now, this is what you get. Nothing. There is nothing in my kitchen except studs. (Louie says, Why thank you!)

I must admit, I don’t know what to do with myself. I am ALWAYS in the kitchen, unless I’m napping. I can’t be in the kitchen and I can’t nap. I can’t nap, because if workers are in my house, I feel it’s necessary to pretend I’m busy. I’m never ACTUALLY busy, so this is a difficult charade.

Earlier in the week, the weather was blistering and humid, hardly the kind you want when escaping the indoors for the outdoors. Luckily, three days ago, it turned GORGEOUS. (Kelly says, Why thank you!)

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Many plants are in bloom.

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I love getting the bees in the picture…

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No bees on the butterfly bush…

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Or on the black-eyed Susans…

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Or Louie…

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Or the hydrangeas…

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See? All of that picture taking was just an elaborate attempt to appear busy to the workers in the kitchen.

I’m determined to make dinner at home as much as possible. I thought I’d share with you different meals I make, so you can get ideas how to cook without a kitchen in case a need ever arises in YOUR household. My sister-in-law Janet recently finished a kitchen renovation during which she was known to cook a salmon dinner on her panini maker. The weather was cold and snowy during her project, so I thought that was pretty impressive!

My challenge is that I have a great abundance of produce, because I have a garden going gangbusters right now. I have cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, carrots and many herbs over-growing. I decided to employ my grill, which has a side burner. I can cook with a pot on that burner. Dinner last night was:

  • Grilled “hot dogs,”
  • Chopped salad with cooked and raw vegetables
  • Cucumber dill salad.

I had three “hot dogs” leftover. I no longer had the packaging, but these are some kind of soy product. I never buy plain soy “hot dogs”; I always go for things labelled “italian sausage” or “beer brats,” which are also soy or seitan, but which have more flavor than the plain soy “hot dogs.” So, we grilled…

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The chopped salad was delicious and made good use of produce I had on hand from my CSA and my garden. I’ll be making this again for sure:

Chopped Salad (Vegan)

Based on a recipe from O Magazine, August 2015

(Serves 4 to 6)

Ingredients:

Two tablespoons red wine vinegar
One tablespoon lemon juice
One-half tablespoon Dijon mustard
One small garlic clove, minced
One-quarter teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
One-quarter cup extra-virgin olive oil
One-half pound green beans, trimmed and cut into one-half inch pieces
One cup corn kernels (from one to two ears)
Two medium tomatoes, cored and cut into one-half inch pieces
Two ribs celery, cut into one-half inch pieces
One red bell pepper, cored and cut into one-half inch pieces
One-third cup finely chopped red onion
One head romaine (I used baby kale and mixed greens from B&H Produce)
One large, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced (I omitted)
One-quarter cup grated vegan parmesan (I omitted)

Instructions:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (I used the burner on my outdoor grill.) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, one-half teaspoon salt, garlic and black pepper. Whisk in oil.

2. Add green beans and carrots to boiling water and cook until just tender, about three minutes. Add corn and cook one minute more. Drain in a colander and rinse in cold running water until completely cool. Transfer to bowl with vinaigrette. Add tomatoes, celery, bell pepper and onion and toss well. Set aside to let  marinate for thirty minutes. (Note: You may dice the carrots and green beans into smaller pieces and forego cooking. They are fine raw in this salad if you like. Use canned corn.)

3. Add lettuce, avocado, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.IMG_0600

Creamy Cucumber Dill Salad (Vegan)

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

Two large cucumbers, washed (peeled or unpeeled according to your preference)
Two-thirds cup vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti brand)
Two tablespoons white wine vinegar*
One-half teaspoon salt
One-quarter teaspoon pepper
One or two tablespoons fresh dill

*You may substitute with fresh lemon juice.

Instructions:

1. Cut the ends off each cucumber. Slice them lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with the tip of a spoon. Slice the cucumbers into bite-sized pieces, and place them in a serving bowl.

2. Whisk together the “sour cream,” vinegar, salt, pepper and dill in a small bowl.

3. Toss the cucumbers with the dressing and chill before serving.

4. Feel free to add chopped red onions and halved cherry tomatoes, which is what I did! Those make excellent additions!

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We sat outside on our patio. It was a delightful evening. We are fortunate to have such nice weather. If the weather turns, we might make actual paninis on our panini maker. Vegetable paninis, of course!

Cheers.

Vegan Gooseberry Muffins

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What IS a gooseberry, anyway? I went along my whole life without knowing the answer.

Each week, my vegetable CSA gives me choices, depending what’s growing. In the spring, it’s spinach, onions and other greens. In the summer, it’s squash and more greens and tomatoes. Every week the list changes, and as the summer progresses, the list grows and grows. I was surprised a few weeks ago when the choices included gooseberries! I decided to give them a try.

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I think of gooseberries as being European, especially British, though that may come from my reading of Beatrix Potter about Peter Rabbit getting stuck in a gooseberry net. Is that right? But apparently, they grow in North America too, because here they are in my kitchen!

I decided to make muffins with them. They are tart, a little like a cranberry once cooked, so you may substitute fresh cranberries in this recipe.

Gooseberries need to be “topped and tailed,” meaning the stem needs trimming along with tail at the other end of the berry. This can be accomplished with simple kitchen scissors. Here is how they look all cleaned and prepared.

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Vegan Gooseberry Muffins

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(Serves 12)

Ingredients:

For muffins:

Two cups kamut flour (all-purpose, whole wheat and gluten-free flours work too)
One-half cup sugar
Two teaspoons baking powder
One-half teaspoon baking soda
One-half teaspoon salt
One cup plant-based milk (I used almond milk)
One-half cup fresh orange juice
One or two teaspoons orange zest, according to taste
One teaspoon vanilla
One-half cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
One and one-half cups fresh gooseberries, topped and tailed (substitute cranberries)

For topping:

One-quarter cup sugar
One tablespoon melted Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
One-quarter cup fresh orange juice

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In one bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In another smaller bowl, combine and whisk together the wet ingredients, milk orange juice, orange zest and vanilla.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

5. Stir in the pecans and the berries.

6. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray, fill each muffin form to the top (approximately) with batter, and bake for 28 minutes.

7. In a small bowl, melt the Earth Balance and stir in orange juice. In another small bowl, place the sugar. Once the muffins are cool enough to handle, dip each muffin first in the Earth Balance/orange juice mixture and then into the sugar.

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Sweet, sour and moist! Delicious!

Cucumbers Going Bananas!

I have so many cucumbers in my garden from just one plant! This week, it’s cucumbers for everyone! Cucumber water, cold cucumber soup, cucumber crudit√©s, cucumber sandwiches…you get it! Here are two salads worth trying, a traditional-type cucumber with dill salad and an asian cucumber salad, which is gingery and yummy.

Cool Creamy Cucumber Dill Salad

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Vegan Blueberry Ice Cream

Food blogger alert: Spending a lot of time in your WordPress Reader may be hazardous to your finances…or to your diet…or to other things you’re supposed to watch carefully.

Example: I see a lot of ice cream posts lately from bloggers owning ice cream makers. I decided I need ice cream. Now. And, while I’m at it of course, an ice cream maker.

I did it. I bought one.

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In my defense, it’s difficult for vegans to enjoy ice cream the traditional way. You can’t just pop out to the ice cream stand during the summer. With a special trip to the health food store, you can probably find soy or plant-based ice creams, but you are limited to vanilla and chocolate. Entrepreneurs! This is opportunity. Feed the vegans and the lactose intolerants! We love ice cream too!

In the meantime, I’m making my own.

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