Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mock Tuna Salad

Chickpeas are amazing. Keep them on had to whip up Hummus, for soups and stews, falafel, and delicious salads.   You can keep cans in the cupboard for when you need to whip up something in a hurry, but when you have the time, it is well worth it to cook them yourself.  Keep dried chickpeas on hand. Once you cook dried chickpeas, you will not go back to canned, I promise you.  Just be sure to soak them covered in water with a teaspoon of baking soda added for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours before cooking, or do a quick soak method.  Cook extra.  They freeze well and you will always have them on hand to use in recipes.

One of my favorite ways to use them is in chickpea salad, also known as Mock Tuna Salad or Tu No Salad. (recipe below)

Mock Tuna Salad

2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 stalks celery finely chopped
2 Tbs onion finely chopped
2 Tbs sweet red pepper finely chopped
2 Tbs pickle relish (sweet or dill, your choice)
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp kelp powder (optional, but gives it the "fishy" taste)
2-3 Tbs vegan Mayo
1 tsp yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to your liking

Mash chickpeas with a fork or put in food processor and pulse.  Leave some lumps, do not make it smooth like you are making hummus.  Put in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate at least a couple hours to let the flavors blend.  Makes a wonderful sandwich or it is great as a tomato stuffing.
Pictured on my homemade bun.  I may share that recipe later.


Valentine's Day at Kroger

I needed to pick up a couple things at Kroger last night, but with a bit of snow and ice in the forecast, I decided  that the grocery store was not the place I wanted to be as people fought for the last of the milk, bread and eggs to avoid the possibility of perishing from starvation should the roads be impassable for a few hours.  Really, I have never figured out the attraction of French Toast or bread pudding during a snow storm. (chuckle, chuckle).   Since I don't use any of those sought after items, I needn't worry should the shelves that hold those items become bare.
Foregoing the trip last night, I decided to stop tonight on my way home for the few items I needed.  What the?????   "Did I miss something in the forecast tonight?", I thought, as I pulled into the parking lot. Snow again? You would have thought it was the eve before Thanksgiving or something.   When I enter the store through the door near the floral department I was met with wall to wall  MEN!  Everywhere! Then it came back to me.  Ah ha!   Today is Valentine's Day.   I had somehow forgotten that on the commute home.   There were men of all ages scrambling for that last minute bouquet and card.   It was quite entertaining actually, as one man picked up each bouquet that was on display near the bananas and sniffed each one.  Another looked quite exasperated and undecided between the red roses or the pink lilies.  He tossed both aside and grabbed a simple cellophane wrapped bunch of daisies.  A few didn't even give it a second thought as they just grabbed what ever their hand touched first.  Yeah,  I get it.  Just get something so Mama doesn't make you sleep on the couch tonight.  It doesn't matter that you don't know what her favorite flower is. Its the thought that counts, right? 
But dang it, I need bananas!   I don't want to get trampled in the produce department.  Hey dude!  Yeah, you with the tulips hanging from your fist.  Throw me a bunch of bananas and I will leave you to your confusion!  Thank you!  Hope you get lucky tonight!    Geez,   Let me go around the corner, grab my tofu, and get the heck out of this madness.  I managed to get through the store pretty quickly after I got past the flower riot, and when I wheeled my cart past the card aisle, surprisingly it was empty.   I was secretly glad I didn't have to worry about  any of that.   My girls will be happy as long as their food and water bowls are full and that they can curl up and snooze while I curl up with an episode of some DVR'd  T.V. show and have a bowl of veggie chili. I don't have to pretend to like the flowers that will die in a few days, or ooh and ahh over a card that mimics every other card out there, later to be thrown into a box and forgotten about.  I smile at the thought of each of those men that actually care enough to make an effort, and I hope for their sakes it really is appreciated.   I know they probably really love the woman that they are buying the flowers for. The smiles on their faces as they took their flowers through the checkout proves it.  One day, one night, one life.  
Just a quiet night for me and my girls.  Simple, just the way I like it.  Life is good.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spring's-a-coming.......(and summer, too)

It's February.  It's cold.   The April-like days we had last week have been replace by typical February weather. Yes it's cold, but Spring is just weeks away, and here in Tennessee we have been known to go right into hot summer weather after just a few nice spring-like days.  I know spring is coming because the seed catalogs have arrived. The stores have the patio furniture and BBQ grills on display beckoning us to take them home. My tomato seedlings have popped their heads through the the soil in the little pots on my window sill. They are already about 2 inches high and should be just right for planting outside as soon as the weather allows.  Just this morning I noticed a couple of pepper plants had poked above the soil too.   My planting beds are needing a good cleaning, and as soon as the next warm dry days appear, I will tackle that chore.  It's not really a chore.  I enjoy working in the dirt, and the reward is worth it.  There is nothing like the first radish and green onion of spring on a salad of freshly picked greens, or biting into that first ripe tomato that you have watched religiously from the day it was a little yellow bloom popping out from behind the leaves of that pampered plant. The day you pick the first summer squash is not that far off.  Before we know it, there will be grass to mow, weeds to pull and summer breezes to enjoy. Shorts and flip flops will replace sweatshirts and leggings. The crickets will be chirping and the mosquitoes will be swarming. We will relax in the backyard with that glass of sweet tea taking in the sounds of the neighborhood and the smell of freshly mown grass.   Really.  It will be here before we know it.

The Vita-mix

The Vita-mix arrived a couple weeks ago.  I had put off buying one, and why I don't know.   How I ever got by without it is a mystery.  I have not failed to make up for lost time, however.  I have made soup, smoothies, peanut butter, hummus, ice cream and who knows what else in my Vita-mix. I think I have used it every day since I got it.   My latest endeavor was oat flour.  This was just a trial to see how it would work, but I am sold.  I started with a cup of steel cut oats and in seconds I had soft fresh oat flour (photo above).  This morning I tried it out and made some gluten free pancakes.  Granted I was skeptical, because a lot of the gluten free things I have tried are lacking in flavor.  Not these pancakes.  I started with a quarter cup of oat flour and added in two tablespoons each of sweet potato flour and tapioca flour; 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder, almond milk to make a nice batter, and a Tbs agave nectar for a slight sweetness.  They cooked up very nicely and I served them with fresh blueberries and maple syrup,  They were yummy!

Banana Nut Muffins

There is nothing more comforting than fresh baked muffins, but these muffins are even better the next day. I make them with whatever fruit I need to use up, whether it be banana, blueberries, peaches, etc. The fruit is best for these when it is just past the point of eating fresh, but not to the point that it has to be thrown out. Really over-ripe fruit works best. I have requests for my muffins all the time from my co-workers and fellow train commuters. The recipe is one I have used for years, even before I became vegan. It has been my tried and true recipe, and once I made the switch to vegan, this was probably the first non-vegan recipe that I converted. The vegan version is much better than the original, and through my experience, the vegan versions of any recipe are always superior to the original non vegan version. I have been asked for the recipe many times, but this is one that you will have to wait for. My plan is to publish a cookbook, and this will be one of the entries.