Thursday, March 24, 2011

Singer Sewing Machine Table

I am so happy to share a picture of my new table! My grandmother had an old Singer treadle operated sewing machine - which worked (I used it often as a child). Unfortunately, I didn't acquire it in the break-down of her household (or my mom's) but have always harbored an interest in having an old treadle machine base for a table.

A few weeks ago, I found this gorgeous slab of cocoa-colored granite streaked with caramel and flecks of chocolate/espresso - already mounted on plywood with a slab of particle board on the back. It was so heavy that it was all I could do to wrangle the thing into the back of my friend's Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and it stayed there for nearly a month while I fantasized about making it into a table.

Two days ago, someone offered a Singer treadle sewing machine base on Freecycle and I happened to have use of my friend's truck and went out and got it. Since I had left the table top in the truck for so long - the particle board was ruined and it took me 2 hours to pry and chip it off, but after much work, a little sanding and four #16 1.25" screws, I made my new table! Click through for more pictures of the nice slab of stone. This goes so well with my antiques!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Happy 64th Birthday day to my Mother -- she's reading my presents to her: "Eating Animals" "Becoming Vegan" on her Kindle, and "The Vegan Diet as Chronic Disease Prevention" in paper.  She says that it's not easy to read "Eating Animals" and she may just go more vegetarian (cheese!) but she's finding that she's buying more for her money by not buying meat at the grocery store, and eating very well!  Yay mom!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole

A conversation with my mom yesterday gave me a brilliant idea that pulled together the Daiya cheese I picked up to try for the first time a couple weeks ago and the giant bag of broccoli crowns from last week's Mariquita Mystery Box.  This is a recipe in development as I didn't exactly measure everything and it worked out perfectly!

Before throwing this together, I looked up some recipes for Broccoli Rice casserole - most of them use the same basic ingredients: broccoli, rice, cheddar cheese, a can of UBI (universal binding ingredient aka Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup).   Being the snob that my brother accuses me - I don't have any Campbell's (or any other packaged soup) in the house.  I do, however, have a variety of dried wild mushrooms and Road's End Organics Savory Herb Gravy packets.  As always - save the water that you use to soak the dried mushrooms - don't worry if they still feel firm - they will soften up after they are mixed in and baked.

  • 4-5 cups cooked rice - I used brown basmati & Louisiana wild rice cooked w/veggie stock
  • 1 qt stock/mushroom water
  • EVOO or untoasted sesame oil, as needed
  • 1.5 c white wine
  • 1/2 c nutritional yeast
  • 8 oz package Daiya cheddar shreds
  • 3 to 4 c raw broccoli crowns cut up into tiny florets, thinly slice the stalks
  • 1 red onion, quartered & thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced & roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper in 1/2" dice
  • 2.5 cups mushrooms, fresh or dried
  • 1 Tb dried thyme
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 packets Road's End Organics Savory Herb Gravy (you could possibly substitute this by making a little almond butter gravy or mixing up flour/tapioca starch/corn starch to gravy-fy the mushrooms & onions)

I used my two largest cast iron skillets (10" and 11 3/4"), a large stainless still mixing bowl for combining everything and a big Pyrex casserole dish.
  1. Using the smaller skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil and add the onions, cook until transluscent.  Add the garlic.
  2. While the onions & garlic cook, use scissors or a knife to cut up the dried mushrooms into small dice.  You can leave fresh mushrooms in larger pieces but I think dried mushrooms turn out better if you cut them smaller.  I used scissors to cut up dried porcini pieces into little bits, and a knife to cut up the dried shitakes (which come whole).
  3. After the garlic starts to soften and liquid in the pan is reduced, add the mushrooms.  Cook until reduced and then deglaze with a generous amount of wine.  Continue cooking until the wine reduces then add more until you have added all the wine.  
  4. Remove mushrooms & onions from heat, stir in thyme, nutritional yeast & contents of gravy packets, stir until well mixed. 
  5. Put the larger skillet on high heat with enough olive oil to coat - add broccoli stalk pieces first, stir fry til bright green, add florets and red pepper flakes.  Squeeze in juice of 1/2 lemon if desired.
  6. Once florets are bright green, start adding the quart of stock - about 1/4 of the quantity at a time to simmer/steam the broccoli a bit.  Even better if you are using the mushroom soaking water!
  7. After using 1 qt of stock and reducing to about 1/2 c liquid, turn off flame.
  8. Transfer rice to large stainless steel mixing bowl and break up any lumps.  
  9. Transfer broccoli to mixing bowl and toss with rice.
  10. Add  Daiya cheddar shreds and toss with broccoli & rice.
  11. Spoon in raw diced red bell pepper along with the mushrooms & onion mixture and toss gently.
  12. Taste and season with salt, black or white pepper, or Nama Shoyu as needed.  A little vegan worcestershire or peanut sauce might not hurt either.
  13. Transfer to your lightly oiled Pyrex casserole dish, bake at 450 for 30-40 minutes.
  14. Remove from the oven and let cool before you eat it and burn your fool mouth!

It tastes even better the next day and slices into servings wonderfully!  The Daiya cheddar shreds tasted really good out of the package and melted really well.  The edge along the casserole dish got crispy chewy cheesy, making me wish I had saved some of the shreds to put on top to make it more bubbly & cheesy.

Tonight, I'm going to make garlic cheese bread with the Daiya mozzarella shreds that are in the fridge.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Tiny Bubbles

I'm pretty sure that the USDA home canning website would NOT approve of the "funghi trifolati" recipe that I received a while back from another mushroom forager.  Last December, after picking a small amount of chanterelles & blewits, I decided I wanted to try my hand at it.

First - here's the recipe as I received it:

With all the chantrelles you have, I thought I would pass on my favorite way to store them.  I learned this from my Italian friend's mom. It is a variation of funghi trifolati.  This stuff goes fast!

You need basic glass jar canning supplies.
  • A LOT of rough-chopped chanterelles (or other mushrooms--honey mushrooms, porcini and oyster are great).  It is cool when you get little ones to leave them as whole as possible.
  • thinly sliced garlic
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • chopped thyme
  • a lot of good olive oil
  • pickling brine:
    Fill a very large stock pot (big enough to accommodate this brine and a good quantity of your mushrooms) about half-full of water. Add enough quality salt so it tastes about like sea water (saltier than you think). Add quality cider or white wine vinegar to equal about half the volume of the water. Add bay leaf, peppercorns and whatever else you like to taste.

  1. Sterilize jars.
  2. Bring brine to a strong simmer.
  3. Add mushrooms and let them cook for two minutes after the brine comes back to a strong simmer. Strain the mushrooms from the brine as you jar them (you want them hot). Keep the brine, it is awesome in salad dressings.
  4. With a sterilized slotted spoon or tongs add a layer of mushrooms, straight from the hot brine, to the bottom of a jar.
  5. Add a layer of your chopped herbs and garlic.
  6. Then add a layer of olive oil. repeat this process until you are about half-inch fro the top of the jar and fill this space with olive oil.
  7. Tap the jars on a hard surface to try and coax excess air to the top.
  8. Put the lid on the jar and store for at least a couple of weeks in a cool, dark place.
The mushrooms take on an amazing, oily-crunchy texture after time and all the flavors blend. the stored mushrooms are beautiful, in layers of gold and green. I have kept them like this for over a year. Some people worry about the addition of raw herbs and garlic and blanch them.

After reading a bunch of recipes, looking at the Ball Blue Book for canning mushrooms, this is basically what I did:

  1. Prepare brine of vinegar & salt with spices, bring to a boil.
  2. Add peeled & coarsely chopped garlic to brine, return to simmer for several minutes
  3. Once garlic is soft, add mushrooms and simmer til liquid seems to be released from the mushrooms (several minutes).
  4. Strain mushrooms & layer mushrooms in sterilized quart jar with steam blanched chopped green herbs (parsley, oregano, rosemary) and olive oil.  Cover with olive oil.
I let the jars sit on the counter for about 6 weeks, opening them up to try them in late January - delicious!  I shared some with other friends, the mushrooms were delicious and nobody suffered any ill effects. Two nights ago, when I opened the jar the lid made a slight "pop" like there was a build up of gases when I opened the chanterelles and it made a slight pop when I opened the jar.  My friend and I ate some anyway and they tasted good, we didn't get sick.

Today when I was cleaning in the kitchen, I noticed that the gas had built up again in the chanterelles.  I also noticed some very tiny tiny bubbles coming up, continuously, through the top layer of olive oil which had turned  a darker color.

On closer inspection (and in daylight, not like two nights ago), I noticed that there was some milky white sediment in the bottom.  There also seemed to be a LOT of air bubbles, pea size and bigger.  I had carefully used a butter knife to remove air bubbles and a fork/spoon to press down the contents when I filled the jars.

I pulled out a bamboo chopstick to explore and release some bubbles and noticed some of the larger pieces of garlic felt a bit firm and when I pushed on them - they released  alot of milky goo.    I also noticed, much to my surprise, that the bottom 2-3" of the jar was not olive oil but liquid (brine? juice?). 

Not wanting to risk botulism, I chucked just over 1/2 jar each of chanterelle & blewit pickle. Very sad.

Has this ever happened to you with this process?  What did I do wrong?  Was I wrong to chuck the mushrooms?  Is this an issue with the garlic? 

I had a similar experience with some tomato sauce I made last fall -- unlike the previous 20 years, I decided to put in some herbs and garlic.  The sauce cooked at a simmer for over 12 hours - it was damned hot!  I canned it in a hot water bath for 30 minutes.  However, when I opened the jars from that batch - there were tiny rising continuous bubbles in the sauce.  I reheated the sauce and simmered it for over an hour, after it cooled - it still had these weird bubbles (so I chucked it).

What's up with the carbonation?  Any canning mavens out there got any ideas?

    Tuesday, March 01, 2011

    The Raw & The Cooked

    SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! Hey Stalkers!   Bay Area!  If you haven't yet tried a RawDaddy cone, I want to encourage you to come look for me at the Temescal Farmer's Market on Sundays!  After trying RawDaddy last  fall at the Eat Real Festival, I was hooked.  I was very excited about RawDaddy being at the East Bay Raw MeetUp in January, and jumped in to help out - now, I'm helping out every Sunday at the Temescal Farmer's Market.  You can come and try a delicious RawDaddy cone and meet moi.

    MARCH: "An Evening With Colleen Patrick Goudreau" at Millennium Restaurant on March 20!  Great opportunity to meet the author of "The Joy of Vegan Baking" and enjoy Chef Eric Tucker's vegan snackies at a book release party for the author's new book "Vegan's Daily Companion."

    APRIL:   Berkeley Vegan Earth Day!  What a great idea, right?  It'll be a great time - catered vegan food, a film & speakers.  Go sign up and meet me there!