Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hey Good Lookin' -- Whatcha Got Cookin'?

And boy oh boy, do I have stuff cookin' this afternoon -- see previous post as to why today is a cooking day.

Tonight's dinner menu, as it unfolded before my very eyes (photo above) turned out to be:

An appetizer of Beets with lemon zest and basil

Grilled potato/cabbage burger with chipolte salsa
Cabbage and red pepper medley
Balsamic glazed carrots and collard greens

Flax, oatmeal and coconut, carab and cranberry cookie
Gruet Blanc de Noirs from New Mexico, of all places

Buckle up! Let the party begin!!


As a kid, I hated beets.
It might have been their taste, or it might have been because my mother used to hide the circular beet slices between circular cranberry sauce (from the can) slices. So I never trusted my mother nor "the beet."

I knew however, that my vegan status was confirmed (that I am indeed a proverbial card carrying vegan) the day I was sitting at my office at work craving beets!!

Here is how I typically make beets and how, in fact, I made them today.

I wrapped four small to mid-size beets in foil and baked them at 350 degrees for an hour. Let them cool and peel them. Sometimes I boil them, but then I pour out all the yummy delicious red tinged liquid, and I just have to believe that I am pouring away "the good stuff."

I put these cooled, peeled and sliced beets into a glass container, ever knowledgeable that beets could bleed and ruin plastic or porous containers. On top, I poured a good 1/2 cup of the delicious and worth every penny Napa Valley Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar with Lemon, and zested the skin of one large lemon, and tossed in some slivered basil and let all of these flavors get acquainted while I made the rest of the dinner. Don't you think beets are so earthy?

Next, our main side dish:


Into a pot of salted and boiling water, I tossed 7 carrots which I sliced on the diagonal. While they were getting a head start, I julienned a bunch of collard greens and then tossed them into the pot, letting them cook no longer than 5 minutes before I drained them.

Into a large skilled, upon which I sprayed some olive oil spray,
I put about 1/8 of a teaspoon of roasted sesame oil (optional, but use more if you allow more oil in your diet.)

I tossed in the carrots and collard greens and poured over them a mixture of:

2 tablespoons Napa Valley blackberry balsamic vinegar with pear (o to die for)
2 teaspoons napa shoyu (or you can use soy sauce)
a whisper of agave (or some sweetener)
and a healthy 1/8 teaspoon of Pensys Southwest Seasoning which is incredible and contains:
ancho, cayenne, chipolte, cilantro, Mexican oregano, salt, pepper, onion and garlic

I stirred this entire mixture over a moderate to high heat until the liquid bronzed the veggies.

This, in my humble opinion, is a keeper.

For the main attraction:

First, I boiled up a pot of Yukon Gold potatoes -- with skins. Why? One, because I am lazy, and two, because I hold firm to the belief that "the good stuff" is in the skins.

When they were soft to the fork, I mashed them with my Mi Tutto hand held mixer, (so slick) and softening them with vegetable broth as needed. I set the bowl aside.

In a large saute pan, I added:

a spray of olive oil spray
1 Vidalia Onion, chopped

and sauteed this onion with the vegetable broth to nearly caramelize it.
Like good sex, fine wine and roux -- you cannot, I repeat, cannot, rush this process. Trust me.

Just before the onions are ready to "give it up" -- toss in the chopped red pepper, and a tad latter, the chopped green cabbage, and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro,
and water saute until this mixture begins to wilt.

(by water saute, I mean, whenever the good stuff starts browning in the pan, add about a tablespoon of water (or the veggie broth) to liberate it and then stir it into the mixture.)

Now, the way I cook, the mashed potatoes and the cabbage mixture never balance out. Typically, as was the case today, I had more cabbage mixture than potatoes.

So, into the potatoes, I added enough of the cabbage mixture to make a batter for potato/cabbage burgers -- ie, more potato than cabbage.

Question: does anyone else besides me think of Dan Quale every time you type the word potato and an "e" shows up on the end?

Anyway.................the coup de grace................drum roll

I pour a healthy amount of Ian's Panko Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs -- the breadcrumbs of the gods and chefs alike, onto a plate.

And onto this pile of crumbs, I bread the potato/cabbage patties.

I use wax paper between each patty and freeze all but what I am going to use.

To cook the patty, I spray my saute pan with olive oil and heat both sides of the patty.

To plate: I topped with a very healthy (okay, beyond health and common sense) amount of Fonteria Chipotle Salsa with Roasted Tomatillo and Garlic (a veritable orgasm of flavors) and then a handful of chopped cilantro, the herb of the gods (so I hear).

On the plate in the photo (on the blog post above) I added some extra cabbage/red pepper mixture as a side dish.

For dessert............
I have been trying to make a perfect vegan cookie.
The recipe I am sharing with you today is NOT perfect -- but has a lot of potential -- work with it and see if you have suggestions to perfect it.

This is my:


Into a large bowl I add the dry ingredients, which I think can remain fixed in this trial:

3/4 cup organic whole wheat flour
3/4 cup organic whole oats
3/4 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened), you decide for yourself
1/4 cup flax seed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Now it gets dicey -- what to use for the eggs and oil, neither of which I want in my perfect cookie.

I used avocado last time I tried this and it worked okay. My pastry chef son, said to use applesauce or pumpkin mixture as a binder.

Today I bought two organic baby food jars: one was peach apricot and oats, and the other was apple and cinnamon and oats and used them as my binder.

And then:
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup of agave nectar (brown sugar or any sugar in your diet is fine)

To which I added the extras:

I used 1 cup of vegan carob chips (if you are okay with chocolate chips, they would taste better, I think.)
1 cup dried cranberries.

Stir it up.
I put it in the refrigerator until the oven heated to 350 degrees, and then I baked them for approximately 15 minutes.

Taste: pretty darn good, but I think they could be better.

What sayeth thou? Suggestions for a better vegan cookie? Do tell.

And of course, as I sat down to dine on this culinary treat, I poured myself a chilled glass of
Gruet Blanc de Noirs.

Was it good?
Well, with the spicy salsa on the potato/cabbage burger -- it got lost,
if one were to take a giant gulp,
which I know one is NOT supposed to do when sipping champagne,
it bubbles and foams up just like Korbel and shoots out your nose while sending you into a coughing fit,
which is not very lady like, nor polite, whatever your sex may be,
but fortunately,
I was dining solo with only three four legged beloveds shocked by the spew of bubbly caused by the gulp.

don't ask me why I gulped

but all in all,
a good time was had by all.

sending you culinary blessings and wishing you all a spicy life.

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The Story Behind the Garden of Eden Vegan Blog

For those of you who knew me prior to December 30, 2009, I was a veteran of the fast food culinary institute. My son, when he lived with me would ask if I had ordered the "Shabbat pizza" yet as the sun was setting Friday nights.

My idea of a good meal was a McFish sandwich, fries with extra salt, and a medium diet coke.

Everything was better covered in a rich creamy sauce and the idea of a naked baked potato was as foreign to me as walking naked in Manhattan.

In June of 2009 I decided to formally become a vegetarian. Although I had dabbled with this, it was not until I read Skinny Bitch that the gauntlet was thrown.

Now being a vegetarian does not sign you up for good health. I was proof of that. Chubby when I started, I indulged in pizza, french fries, cheese, cheese, butter, cheese, pizza......and became very over weight, tipping the Toledos at 200 pounds at 5'4". And taking an assortment of meds for cholesterol and GERD and who knows what else.

As the decade was waning, and with my 60th birthday approaching in the year 2010, there was a perfect storm that snapped my beak and got me in gear. The same friend who gave me Skinny Bitch, turned me on to the John McDougall website. At the same time, there was a Grand Round lecture at the hospital where I work on the book Eat to Live, and at the same time, I was tired of how I looked and felt and needed to make a change.

I regret that I did not start this blog when I changed my lifestyle, but it is better late than never.

My weight is down about 35 pounds, my size has gone from a tight 16 to a loose 12. And I am on no meds, although my vegetarian doctor and I will review my blood work within this month to see if I need anything (like b12) boosted.

I began as a Vegan Minus. Or what I call a Garden of Eden Vegan.

As you know, a Vegan eats no animals nor animal products - none. But then I subtracted oil, sugar, and processed foods.

That is a big subtraction -- but it is this subtraction that helped with weight loss, lack of cravings, increased energy, health, and vibrancy.

Now I am dabbling in raw foods and have signed up to learn with Russell James (google him).

I like the taste and health aspect of raw foods, but worry about the increased calories. So I will (hopefully) use the raw creations as a supplement to my Gan (Hebrew for Garden -- I am in a Hebrew mood today) Eden Vegan lifestyle.

My doctor said that I should write a book about this since most of her patients need it. I said, "Who, or how many, would want to do this?" We shall see. It has been easy (no cravings) and exciting as life and energy unfold before me, just as it was meant to be. (It didn't unfold over a fried fish sandwich, extra tarter sauce.)

Join me or not. Walk with me the whole journey, day trips, part of it, or not. This is my 60th year -- buckle up life, here I come.