Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cantaloupe Sorbet & Snacks

As if cantaloupe isn't good enough on its own - I had the bright idea to chunk up half a cantaloupe and froze it on a cookie sheet while I made dinner.  Then I put the frozen pieces into the ole reliable Breville blender with a bit of agave to lubricate the works and pureed the heck out of it.  I scraped it into a 9" x 9" light aluminum (no nonstick -yuk!) pan and put it back into the freezer.  Stir every 15-20 minutes or so and you'll have sorbet for 4 as soon as you all finish eating dinner. 

I really had to resist the urge to throw in frozen strawberries, too! 

This morning I sliced up the remaining cantaloupe to throw in the dehydrator - just three weeks til my 4 week motorcycle road trip, so I better get moving on the food prep and meal planning!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Last of the Enchiladas Verdes!

I love summer but honestly, I am so very much looking forward to fall when I can get more chiles and tomatoes.  I've now just used up the last of my green enchilada sauce on a casserole dish of enchiladas stuffed with summer veggies.

The beauty of having a stock of homemade red and green enchilada sauce in jars is that I can make up the enchiladas with whatever I have at hand - I have used tofu, seitan, potatoes, any number of veggies, nut cheeses - you name it. I end up making enchiladas with the same stuffing maybe twice - and then move on. Here are instructions for tonight's dinner of:

Summer Veggie Stuffed Green Enchiladas

1/2 med-large red onion, 1/4" dice
1-2 summer squash, 1/4" dice (you need about one generous cup of diced squash)
3-5 orange & white Chantenay carrots, 1/4" dice
3/4 cup corn kernels (froz or fresh)
4 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 serrano chile, stemmed & seeded, finely minced
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tb cumin seed
1/2 tsp whole white pepper
extra virgin olive oil, as needed
2 pint jars of green enchilada sauce
1 c toasted pumpkin seeds
1 package corn tortillas (12 ct)

  1. Heat up a large cast iron skillet with 2 Tb or so drizzled olive oil.
  2. Sautee the carrots until they start to get browned and soften.  
  3. Add chile, onions & garlic and sautee til soft. Stir to prevent sticking.
  4. Add squash & corn.
  5. In a separate dry pan, toast the cumin seed and white pepper - grind in a spice grinder and add to the cooking veggies.
  6. In the dry pan, spread the pumpkin seeds and toast - medium flame, move them to keep them from burning but not so much as to dissipate heat.  They should pop like popcorn.  Once they are toasted, remove from heat in a cool dish (they will continue to cook and scorch in the hot pan).
  7. Spread 1/2 c of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 7" x 11" glass baking dish.  Put one tortilla in the pan, spoon some filling onto it.  Make sure it goes all the way out to the edge and roll it up.  Push it to the end of the pan.  The sauce on the outside of the tortilla helps soften it up and helps distribute the sauce a bit between the stuffed tortillas.  
  8. Fill the rest of the tortillas - just squish them in together - if you run out of space and have extra tortillas, usually I'll have 1 or 2 extra - shred the tortilla into bits, ladle more sauce on the enchiladas, and then place the tortilla bits in areas that have space or where tortillas may have split when you rolled them up. 
  9. Pour on the rest on the rest of the enchilada sauce, encouraging it to go down the sides into the ends of the stuffed tortillas with a spatula or spoon.
  10. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 20-30 minutes until tortillas are softened. Sprinkle generously with salted toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Backcountry Vegan - Prep for 4 Week Road Trip

In just 4 weeks, I hop on my motorcycle to begin a four week road trip that has three legs - going from Oakland to Southern California by motorcycle, then by moving van to NE Ohio and then return to California on motorcycle via Memphis, New Orleans, Austin, West Texas, the Grand Canyon, the Eastern Sierras and Tioga Pass.

Since this isn't quite the same as a backpacking or camping trip - I'll have plenty of opportunity to seek out local natural grocery stores & farm stands, plus I'll be staying with family and friends at least half of the nights on the road.

Clearly, bringing everything for 4 weeks would be impractical and unnecessary.  So, then what do I need to bring? Here are the limitations & opportunities I identified:
  • Space Limitations:  while I can carry more stuff in my bicycle panniers, and in the stuff sacks that I will attach to the luggage rack.  I'd rather bring tools & a spare tube than a gallon bag of bulky dried apples.
  • Weight Limitations: are not the same as backpacking but still a consideration.  I can pack liquids in stainless steel bottles that will be safer from crushing & heat than plastic that I took on the trail in April.
  •  Spoilage: same sort of issues as backpacking, but I will be traveling in much greater heat than Kauai in April.  Temperatures across the Midwest & South are pretty insane right now (yes, I will be doing some parts of Texas in the dark/pre-dawn). That means no matter how tempting those farmstand peaches - just buy enough to eat by the end of the next rest stop or that evening because they will not travel.
Preliminary Preparations:
  • Coffee cone & filters, assam tea, mesh strainer & chai spices - it's always nicer to make your own hot beverages at camp in the moring.
  • Pasta, couscous & quinoa - enough for several meals, easily replenished at the bulk section of a natural grocery store.
  • Oatmeal, dried fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, raisins, cantaloupe, persimmons) & granulated maple sugar -  yes, it will be much easier to make oatmeal than to wait around for quinoa for breakfast.
  • Dried veggies (squash, onions, peppers, tomatoes, porcini & shitake mushrooms, carrots, turnip, beet) - about 1 gallon bag of the dried veggies & fruit in their own wax paper bags.
  • Road's End Organics gravy packets
  • Fresh garlic
  • Olive oil & Meyer lemon zest
Meals that I anticipate making for myself will include pretty easy stuff like:
  • pasta & marinara: a small can of sauce along with my dried veggies & pasta makes a pretty good meal!
  • mushroom & veggie gravy on mashed potatoes - maybe with seitan sausage or chunks from the store means I can have seitan for breakfast the next morning, too!
  • veggie soup with udon noodles or pasta & bread
  • roasted or veggies from local farm stand, cooked with my spices & olive oil - great sandwich fixings for lunch the next day
  • "Special of the Day" - you never know what you'll find in local groceries and it is summer - I might end up with the sweetest corn, or giant peaches that I can grill over the fire at the campsite. 
Recommendations? If you know of any good recipes, restaurants or natural grocery stores along my route - leave me a comment here.  I'm especially interested in veg-friendly restaurant recommendations for the east side of Cleveland, Ohio; Nashville & Memphis, TN; New Orleans, LA; Austin & Lubbock, TX. 

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Surprise Apricot Sorbet!

Since the cherry plum tree in my backyard is about a week away from 20 gallons of plums being ripe all at once, I reached into my freezer to see what I could use and make space for this season's fresh fruit.  One quart size bag of something somewhat orange or gold had a smeared label - I couldn't tell what it said at all.  Pumpkin? Persimmon? What?  I let it defrost and was delighted to discover - I had 3 cups of delightfully sweet apricot puree in my hands!

Last summer, I picked a pile of amazing apricot's from my friend L's house - the skins are so delicate that I don't even bother to remove them when I make jam.  I filled my Breville blender with pitted apricots and froze the puree to use later.  The apricots were so sweet that I didn't even add sugar!

Easiest sorbet ever - I reprocessed the defrosted puree in the blender to aerate it a bit, then poured it into 9" x 9" metal baking pan.  Put into the freezer.  Stir every 20 minutes or so to keep it from sticking to the sides. 

Spoon it into  bowl when firm enough and eat with great contentment.