Sunday, June 2, 2013

New posts coming soon!

Hey everyone! I know I've been MIA, but that doesn't mean I haven't been creating great things in the kitchen and garden. Grad school, being a mom, and a few life changes have kept me pretty busy, but I expect to have enough time this summer to start posting again. I've also just become an expert on Wizpert, a website that connects you to people for live chats about a range of topics, including vegan lifestyles. Check it out!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

After my battle with the cheese pumpkin I swore off making my own purée. Then I became intrigued by the use of sugar pumpkins in baking. Now that I've come up with an easier way to make purée, I'm swearing off the canned stuff.. at least when pumpkins are in season. The sugar pumpkins make delicious, flavorful purée, that tasted excellent in pumpkin pie.
Sugar Pumpkins 

We have an impostor!
I made the purée by cutting the pumpkins in half and scraping out the seeds. They were placed cut side down on a greased baking sheet and baked for about 30 minutes at 400º. Once cool enough to handle, I scooped out the flesh and puréed in a food processor. This was much easier than peeling and cubing the pumpkin before it was cooked, like I did with the cheese pumpkin.

Scoop out the seeds
Bake cut-side down
They're done when easily pierced with a fork.
For the past couple weeks I have been experimenting with different vegan pumpkin pie recipes to make the perfect pie for thanksgiving. I've finally developed a winner! I couldn't find any appealing vegan recipes online, so I did what I always do and just made my own! Traditional pumpkin pie calls for sweetened condensed milk (or whatever that stuff is called), but I replaced it with a mix of coconut milk and coconut oil. I used a homemade egg replacer, also.

I was worried that this wasn't going to work, since it didn't seem to be cooking through in the oven. I took it out, thinking I had another failure, and left it on the counter overnight. The next day, I decided to have a bite, and it was great! I guess the coconut oil just needed time to solidify. So if you're making this for Thanksgiving I would make it a day or two in advance (like tomorrow.. these holidays keep sneaking up!) and leave it in the fridge. (Update*- I made this again, this time with only 1/4 cup of coconut milk instead of a 1/2 cup. It came out much more solid, and had the perfect consistency of a regular pumpkin pie.)

Vegan Pumpkin Pie
  • 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Dash of cinnamon and ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg substitute (see below)
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
I rimmed the edges with fall themed sprinkles.
  1. Preheat the oven to 450º.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the puree and sugar.
  3. Add in the flour, salt and spices.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk up the egg substitute (3 Tbsp of water, 2 Tbsp of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, and 1/2 tsp of baking soda) until frothy.
  5. Add the egg substitute to the pumpkin mix and stir until combined.
  6. Gently stir in the coconut milk and oil.
  7. Add the mix to a pie crust that has been fitted into a dish. I used my recipe for a galette as the pie crust, but you could use a pre-made crust, too.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes. 
  9. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 350º and bake for an additional 35 minutes.
You're just going to have to trust that it's done, since a knife won't come out clean. Just leave it on the counter to cool, move (covered) to the fridge to chill for a day or two before serving. 

Is there anything I can't do?? Ok, I'm done bragging now.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Spiderweb Pancakes

Hurricane Sandy is in full force today! If you remember, this day last year also saw extreme weather. A freak snowstorm came out of nowhere and blanketed the northeast with snow. Parts of Long Island were hit pretty hard, but not as hard as some sections of New Jersey. Family members who live there actually had a snow day on Halloween. Can you imagine that? October 29th is shaping up to be a day for extreme weather. It's also my grandpa's birthday. Mother Nature really knows how to throw him a party! As is tradition, the family gathered for dinner, cake and pumpkin carving. Here are our creations. Happy 82nd Old Gramps!

We ran the 3rd annual Owl Prowl for a second year in a row, joined this year by Megan, who took a picture of the "pumpkin patch" in our homemade shirts. This 5K is sponsored by the Seatuck Environmental Organization, and benefits the wildlife of Long Island. Last year we ran the day after a blizzard, this year the day before I hurricane. Let's see what next year throws at us!

So far the storm surges and downed trees make last years Hurricane Irene look like a breeze. While at my parents house on the north shore yesterday I went down to my summer spot, Big Rock Beach. I was astounded to see such active waves and water surges.. and it was only low tide! The waves looked like ocean waves, something I've never seen before in the Long Island Sound, which so far has surges up to 12 feet. The big rock was getting pounded by waves, which was such a surreal sight. I could have watched that all day.
Now you see it.. you don't.

I've been seeing pictures and videos of the beach today, and I can't believe how high the water is rising.

We haven't lost power, but the storm isn't over yet! If the power does go out, I'll at least be able to use the gas stove top. I'm prepared to make pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner then, but decided I couldn't wait for the power to go out to make them. We had these this morning before we made last minute hurricane preparations.

I made these using my recipe for vegan whole wheat pumpkin pancakes, but I left out the pumpkin. I modeled these off of a pattern I made with cookie icing once. To create the spiderweb effect, pour batter by the 1/2 cup onto a hot griddle. Using a chocolate sauce, make a spiral pattern in the pancakes as shown below.

Using a toothpick, make lines from the center of the pancake out to the edges. 

Flip the over and cook for another minute or so until cooked through. And there you have it, Halloween themed spiderweb pancakes :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fall Favorites

October is a busy busy month! So many leaves to admire, foods to make, pumpkins to carve, birthdays to celebrate, costumes to sew, classic thrillers to watch, produce to harvest, festivals to attend..
Not to mention that classes are in full swing. I'm still loving every bit of them though, especially after the A I received on a midterm I was seriously stressing over!

I've been trying to do it all this month. I don't ever recall being as stressed as I am currently, but I at least know I won't have regrets when October is over and things slow down.

One of my favorite places in the fall is the Mill Pond in Setauket. I've been twice in the past couple weeks, and not many things make me as happy as strolling around the pond observing the wildlife and changing foliage. Logan loved watching the turtles sunning themselves on a log, and we even saw a great blue heron!
Logan contemplating life under one of the huge trees.
Logan and Terra watching the turtles.
He's very excited about the ducks.
The great blue heron. I was so excited to see one of these!
The leaves changed so much in just one week.
I've been looking forward to using my Halloween cookie cutters for months now. The pumpkin shape was really the only one that worked, so I ended up with lots of pumpkin cookies using my recipe for vegan sugar cookies. Logan helped me decorate them with a vegan cookie icing I found on Kelli's blog, animal-friendly eating. My little artist had as much fun "painting" the cookies as he did eating them.

Ready for decorating.
Logan is serious about this.
This was before he figured out how yummy the icing was.
My creations.
Though it was a drizzly day, we spent a lot of time outdoors. Andrew planted lily bulbs, Logan sang and played his guitar on the lawn mower (he likes to use the handle as a microphone!), and I hollowed out pumpkins to make mum containers.

I saved the pumpkin seeds and made two absolutely delicious recipes with them. One involved roasting them in the oven, and the other in a pan on the stovetop. If you haven't already carved your pumpkins, save those seeds! These only take minutes to make!

Candied Pumpkin Seeds

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed
  • 2 packed Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

  1. Mix very thing together in a small bowl.
  2. Spread the mixture over a foil lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 250º for 40 minutes.
  4. Once cooled, break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp. butter substitute, like Smart Balance
  • 1/4 tsp. tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin

  1. Mix everything together in a pan on the stove.
  2. Toast over a medium flame for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently until starting to brown.
  3. Remove from heat and store in an airtight container.

These toasted seeds taste like crunchy popcorn, and are super addictive!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Home Grown Part 9: Fall Picks

We experienced our first real chilly weekend on Long Island. I'm not sure what the temperature was, but it was COLD. The chill killed the rest of my basil plants, as well as my squash and watermelon vines, so I harvested the last of them this morning. The eggplant and pepper plants have started to wilt also, so I harvested most of them, too. I have a lot of cooking to do this week!
Sad, wilted eggplant
A few last peppers
Almost the last of it
I'm letting the rest of the beans dry up to save the seeds.
The squash bed is done, too.
I'm stilling getting a taste of summer from the watermelons.

Though the garden is definitely past it's prime, I'm still growing and harvesting a few things.. beets, lettuce, swiss chard, kale, leeks..
I'm really surprised at how long the growing season is for beets.
The leeks that I propagated a couple weeks ago are doing well. 
The lettuce, kale and swiss chard.. with a stick in the middle to keep
the chickens from getting too comfortable there.
Parsley has overtaken the herb garden.
I have some hanging in the closet to dry right now.
I was shocked to see that organic garlic was $18 a pound at a local farm. It was all the more reason to plant my own. Garlic can be planted just about any time, but fall is the prime planting time. I bought 3 heads of garlic.. once each of german red, french white, and italian white.. and peeled off the large outer cloves for planting. The cloves were planted pointy side up, about 6 inches apart. I planted them Monday, and they're already starting to sprout above the soil. I plan on having a lot of garlic in the spring!
The three cloves

If you're planting your own, make sure you press the cloves
firmly into the ground, and cover with about an inch of soil.
And of course I had my little helper along for the ride. He loves playing in the garden, especially the squash bed since I let him play with the dried up squash that never grew properly. He also never passes up an opportunity to get absolutely filthy.. so it goes with little boys!
Checking out the catch of the day.

When I wasn't looking he took bites out of each pepper!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pumpkin Season!!

Although I claim to be all about the summer, October is probably my favorite month. The autumn foliage is at its peak, there are pumpkins and vibrant mums everywhere, and it's home to one of my favorite holidays. I've always loved Halloween. It's even more fun now that I have Logan to join in the festivities. I still love watching the old Halloween classics with Bugs Bunny and Witch Hazel on YouTube, and I'll never tire of movies like Hocus Pocus and Nightmare Before Christmas. Logan and I watched that last one this morning actually. He loved the scenes with Christmas trees, and I had to rewind the song "What's This" a few times.

Another great thing about the month is the return of pumpkin as an ingredient. It's a tradition for me to grab a pumpkin latte and take a stroll around the Mill Pond in Setauket. Andrew and Logan joined me last year for the first time, and we plan on going again soon.

Last year at the Mill Pond

I tried something new this year, I made my own pumpkin puree from a locally grown cheese pumpkin. What. A. Pain. I try to avoid cans whenever I can (I'll pass on the BPA, thanks), but peeling and chopping the pumpkin was such a big production that I'll stick to the canned pumpkin for the rest of the season.

Cheese pumpkin.
I peeled and cubed the pumpkin, then
steamed the pieces until easily pierced with a fork..

and blended them into a puree.

That one pumpkin made a lot of puree!
Logan looking festive while eating oatmeal
with pumpkin and apple puree.
It never occurred to me to make my own lattes and frappes, until I saw recipes on Pinterest. I used coconut milk to take them vegan, adjusted the ingredients to suit my tastes, and wow. They're delicious!

Iced Pumpkin Frappes
Makes 2 large servings

Freezing the coffee in ice cube trays
was my stroke of genius.

  • 16 coffee ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  1. Brew 2 cups of coffee ahead of time, and freeze in ice cube trays.
  2. Once frozen, add the cubes along with the rest of the ingredients to a blender, and blend until the ice is blended enough to drink.
  3. Pour into glasses, sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon, and enjoy along with the warm fall weather we've been blessed with so far :-)

I cheated and added traditional whipped cream to these,
but if you're feeling ambitious you can top them with coconut
whipped cream, like I made here. These were delicious with
pumpkin muffins, fresh from the oven!

The latte recipe I found was made in a crockpot and took 2 hours. Who wants to wait 2 hours in the morning for their latte? Not me, so I made it in a pan on the stove and it still came out wonderful.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Makes 4

Cooling on the windowsill
  • 2 cups fresh brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie extract
  • 2 tsp. sugar

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over the stove.
  2. Heat over a low flame until warm, but don't let it boil.
  3. Serve immediately.