vegetarian

serenity now / oat & raisin nut bread

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IMG_1795Now that everyone’s waist deep in the holiday season with “to do” lists longer than Obamacare’s website, I offer a ridiculously simple gluten free bread recipe to curb feelings of insanity. Hooray! This recipe is an adaptation of the Life Changing Loaf from the fabulous blog My New Roots. In addition to this need-to-make-now delicious bread, I suggest you put down your nearly maxed out visa and place those heinous Ugg boots back on the shelf (or back on the sheep’s back) where they belong. Instead of running around the mall like a zombie, chomping down Xanax and drinking so many pumpkin chai latte’s that friends think the cinnamon-nutmeg-clove odor wafting from your pores is actually some exotic perfume purchased from Sephora, take a moment to enjoy this beautiful time of year. The holidays should celebrate our love- for family, for each other, and for the festivities that make this time of year so special, not the wrapped boxes of stuff we give to one another. I’m talking about a plump, pine scented tree, bad Christmas music, tiny white lights, Elf, ugly sweaters, and lots of family madness. Oh yeah, and a table strewn with plate-licking vegan deliciousness atop a set of Spode Christmas dinnerware. Yes, please!

DSC_0018Oat & Raisin Nut Bread 

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raw pecans, crumbled by hand

1/2 cup fruit juice sweetened raisins

2 tablespoons coarsely ground flaxseed

2 tablespoons chia seed

3 tablespoons whole psyllium husk powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

3 tablespoons refined coconut oil, gently melted

1 1/2 cups waterIMG_1798

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Melt coconut oil in a small saucepan, and pour into another bowl with water and maple syrup. Mix wet mixture with dry and stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are well distributed. Scrape mixture into a lightly oiled, silicone loaf pan (you can use a regular loaf pan, but it won’t be as easy to remove the loaf). Allow bread to sit out at room temperature for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350. Bake loaf for 30 minutes, then remove from oven and carefully flip onto a baking sheet. Remove pan and place loaf back into the oven for another 30 minutes. That’s it! Now transfer to a cooling rack or tray and try to wait for the loaf to cool before slicing. This bread is amazing when toasted! Try topping with cashew cheese and roasted beets, or just slather on some earth balance and congratulate yourself on being a genius in the kitchen. Makes one loaf, or enough to feed a small herd of reindeer impersonating unicorns before they hijack santa’s sleigh.

six main restaurant / who says connecticut can’t be hip and vegan?

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Six Main in Chester, CT
who knew you could find a vegetarian oasis in connecticut?

In case you didn’t know, Connecticut has a lot to offer i.e. spectacular foliage, prep schools, lyme disease, ESPN, insurance, Martha Stewart, oversized luxury SUV monsters, the praying mantis, and women with 90’s Hillary Clinton haircuts and cashmere sweater sets. Alas, we are a diverse state, but until recently have failed at providing the ever growing non-hippie-private-school-educated-pseudo-gluten-free-vegetarians with plant-based restaurants. Enter Six Main, a wholly vegetarian and mostly vegan restaurant in the heart of Chester, which nearly suffers from the too quaint town syndrome, but saves itself by lacking a Life is Good store and fudge shop. See my thoughts on quaint towns here.

Inside this converted savings bank is a chic, white-linens-and-dark-wood-with-the-good-wine-glasses-and-small-menu kind of restaurant that takes the hip from hippie and does away with the extra letters. Although I love nothing more than the smell of patchouli and wheatgrass and a server wearing a shirt that says “I’m not a nugget”, there is a time and place for veg chic. New York has always been the go to mecca for high end vegan dining, but with Six Main on the map, Connecticut’s veg options are shifting from  miso soup and veggie burgers to beet tartare and kimchee fried rice tempeh satay. I’ll take one of each, thank you.

feeling sophisticated with my glass of sauvignon blanc despite my jeans & oversized sweatshirt ensemble
feeling sophisticated with my glass of sauvignon blanc despite my gorgeous oversized sweatshirt ensemble

 

quite possible the best gluten free focaccia bread I've ever tasted, paired with a delicious tapenade
quite possible the best gluten free focaccia bread I’ve ever tasted, paired with a delicious tapenade

 

roasted squash & arugula salad with toasted pumpkin seeds
roasted squash & arugula salad with toasted pumpkin seeds

 

new england chopped kale salad with peppercorn dressing, avocado and pear
new england chopped kale salad with peppercorn dressing, avocado and pear

 

barbecued portobello and kimchee raw korean tacos
barbecued portobello and kimchee grilled korean tacos

 

kimchee fried rice nut butter tempeh satay with pineapple salsa
kimchee fried rice tempeh satay with pineapple salsa

 

sundried tomato and flax raw tostada with cashew crema, guacamole & salsa
sundried tomato and flax raw tostada with cashew crema, guacamole & salsa

 

 

mornings in oz / lemon poppyseed muffins

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oh, hello little muffin
oh, hello little muffin

I woke up this morning to a dead titmouse (that’s a type of bird by the way, not a mouse covered in breasts). The guilty person i.e. a certain 20 toed furred beast with sand for brains and a propensity for killing birds, was nowhere to be found. I put my robe on and scooped up the poor, soft winged soul and walked into the woods to lay him to rest in a more appropriate place than my blue carpet. Back in the kitchen I spotted her, perched like a sphinx, her tail slithering languidly across the floor, her expression the embodiment of satisfaction. I had a profound desire to pour a cup of cold water over her head while ranting about what a murderous, hideous creature she was, but how could I? She was just following her instinct, and presenting me with the prize to show her love. The trouble is, she shows me that “love” on an almost daily basis. Sure, I could leave her inside and bang my head against a wall amidst the continuous chorus of deprived cat sounds i.e. door scratching, mewing, and the occasional guttural outburst along the lines of a heavy rock plunking into water. This I fear, however, would only bring out mania of a different kind i.e. I’ll dress the cat up in a bird costume and shut her in a room with her brother Frodo. So instead, I let the cat outside, raided the empty fridge and decided that I wanted something other than coconut yogurt or wilted collard greens for breakfast.

Solution? Lemon poppyseed muffins! These moist, crumbly morsels of lemony goodness will make you spontaneously sprout wings so you can fly to the mother of the fallen titmouse and apologize in person. Yes, they’re that good. I used a mixture of brown rice and coconut flours to lighten up the flavor of the sprouted wheat, but you could probably make these gluten free by subbing the wheat flour for more coconut and brown rice flour, just make sure to up the liquid amount  because coconut flour absorbs liquid like a sponge!

holy mother or muffin goodness!
holy mother of muffin goodness!

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

1 cup sprouted whole wheat flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup brown rice flour

2/3 cup coconut sugar or date sugar

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 + cup unsweetened soymilk, or preferred nut milk

1/2 cup melted refined coconut oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

Zest from 1/2 of a lemon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

can a crisp, it's-almost-fall morning get any better than this?
can a crisp, it’s-almost-fall morning get any better than this?

Preheat the oven to 375. In separate mixing bowls, add dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Mix together, then pour the wet into the dry and stir until just mixed, adding a little extra soymilk if the mixture seems to dry (you want it to be loose enough so that it doesn’t stick to a spoon). Grease a muffin tin with oil or soy butter, and fill each well about 3/4 with batter. Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and around the edges of the muffins. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then pop out of tin and serve hot with soy butter! Makes 12 muffins, or enough to feed a small herd of titmouse mourning unicorns.

this was my second muffin, and not my last either.
this was my second muffin, and certainly not my last

concerning airplanes / fried green tomatoes

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DSC_0005This is basically what happens when I ride on an airplane.

First, I notice the smell – something along the lines of elementary school meets hospital: a stale bag of Cheez-It’s, finger crumpled magazines, and stagnant I-wish-I-were-anywhere-else humans melting into motley patterned, under cleaned seats. I sit down and remind myself that I don’t care about any of this, or the turbulence, or the fact that my life is in the hands of a random pilot who in my mind is the blow-up auto-pilot from Airplane!. When the plane turns on I feel like I’m in a motorized lawnmower; it feels shaky, loose, and completely unsafe. I think about the people who fix planes; I think about the giant bolts that hold these sheets of metal together; I think about engines and birds flying into engines. Luckily, I’m saved by the drink cart. I order a Budweiser and tell my husband that I’ve decided flying no longer bothers me one bit. He smiles with encouragement.

When we take off, I scan the plane for flight attendants. Firstly because they look like they’ve been teleported from a bygone era, and secondly because their wide smiling expressions of calm make me feel better. They do this all the time, I remember, like everyday. But then there’s turbulence. Now I know that it’s just pockets of differing air pressures and has nothing to do with the safety of the flight, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, I know all that, but it still feels like a giant motorized steel tube with wings is dangling around at 35,000 feet, the auto-pilot just deflated, and a bird got sucked through the engine. I hear the ominous tone of the fasten-your-seat-belt sign and subsequent illumination of the alarming red florescent lights, and quickly finish my beer. Moment’s later, the elusive pilot restates the obvious: “Hello folks. Looks like we’re hitting a little patch of turbulence, but it’s nothing to worry about. Please remain seated and enjoy the flight”. I instantly think of a doctor with a giant needle saying, “this might pinch a little, but stay still and it will be over before you know it”. I feel like an idiot, like a lemming following another lemming off the side of a cliff because he told me it would, “only hurt for a second and then be over”.

The muffled clip-clop of red pumps over worn-out blue carpet lurches me back from my rambling conscience. “Chicken or fish?” she asks. I tell her I requested the vegan meal. She purses her lipstick smeared mouth and asks another flight attendant for help. The dreaded vegan meal always throws them for a loop. I never expect to get one, but I always ask, in the very least because it distracts me from the image of myself soaring through the atmosphere in a motorized steel tube with wings and faulty bolts. I end up with a pasta primavera of sorts, glued together with cheese.

Now that you never want to fly ever again, why not stay at home at fry up some delicious fried green tomatoes? My garden is bursting with hard, green tomatoes and since I don’t feel like waiting for them to ripen, fried green tomatoes are the perfect solution! Chickpea flour and brown rice flour provide the breading, while a buttermilk inspired nutmilk mixture help it all stick together.

DSC_0007Fried Green Tomatoes

3 unripe, green tomatoes

For the flour mixture:

1⁄2 cup garbanzo bean flour

1⁄2 cup brown rice flour

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

Large pinch of each: paprika & cayenne pepper

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

Black pepper to taste

For the “buttermilk”:

1 cup unsweetened soymilk

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

For frying:

1⁄2 cup refined coconut oil

DSC_0009

Combine flour mixture in a small bowl. In another bowl, add soymilk, apple cider vinegar and ground flaxseed, and whisk until somewhat emulsified. Cut tomatoes in 1⁄4 inch slices and dredge one at a time, first in the flour mixture, then in the soymilk mixture, and once more in the flour. Heat oil in a large nonstick or cast iron sauté pan over a medium-high flame. Test the oil with a small pinch of flour; if it bubbles, the oil is ready. Carefully place dredged tomato slices in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove fried tomatoes from the pan and lay on some paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve hot with Dijon mustard or with a vegan tartar sauce. Makes about 12-15 fried green tomatoes, depending on how big the tomatoes are, or enough to feed 5 unicorns with aviatophobia.DSC_0010

CSA-mazing / miso creamy basil pesto

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DSC_0018So this is my first year as a CSA member. Now before you get excited and envision me as a flight attendant for Czech Airlines or a product tester for Canadian Standards Association, let me explain what I mean. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, which is a locally based food distribution service that connects farmers to consumers without a giant supermarket in the way. Yes, food comes from farms, not florescent lit refrigerated cement boxes with aisles and aisles of food! See my thoughts on grocery stores here.

CSA’s are a fantastic way to support your local farmers while reaping the benefits of eating insanely delicious food that was grown less than an hour away. And the fun part is, you never know what you’re going to get! Each week I arrive at the farm, drooling over baskets of kale, arugula, beets, basil, and tomatoes, and dreaming of the cooking adventures I will embark on with my newly hatched sun-kissed bag of goodies.

If you’re interested in learning more about CSA’s or where to find one, check out Local Harvest. Also check out my sweet CSA provider, Seraphina Says Farm. Tara is a raw vegan farmer with a cat named Seraphina and a passion for holistic, plant based nutrition. How could anyone not get excited about that combination!

if you're lucky, your CSA farmer will look like this.
if you’re lucky, your CSA farmer will look like this.
DSC_0019
this lettuce tasted like sunshine and butter! (and no, I’m not high)

Now that you’ve got a canvas bag full of farm fresh goodness and you feel like singing “The Sound of Music” to everyone in your town, why not whip up a batch miso creamy basil pesto! Between my CSA and garden, I am practically swimming in a sea of basil goodness. I’ve even started adding it to vases as decoration. If this is happening to you too, make pesto.

P.S. The Nutmeg Cookery (that’s me and the unicorns) are going to be the guest chef at the Max Restaurant Group’s farm-to-table dinner on September 27th! If you’re a local nutmegger, come join me under the stars at Rosedale Farms in Simsbury for a five course gourmet vegan meal! For more information, click here.

DSC_0017Miso Creamy Basil Pesto

2 cups packed fresh basil

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1/4 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 avocado

2 cloves of garlic, smashed or grated

1 lemon, zested & juiced

1 heaping tablespoon of miso

Large pinch of sea salt & freshly cracked black pepperDSC_0003

DSC_0007
this is best miso on earth. also notice the basil “flower” arrangement in the background.

In a food processor, add all ingredients except oil. Pulse it down a few times, then slowly stream in the olive oil while processor is running. Blend until you have a loose, green paste. Makes 1 1/2 cups or enough to feed 2-3 unicorn farmers who’ve been digging in the earth all day. Toss with brown rice pasta and sauteed onions and peppers, or use as a spread inside of sandwiches or collard wraps with loads of veggies!DSC_0025