Friday, October 25, 2013

Apple Butter and The Big Apple

Slow-Cooked Apple Butter (recipe by Robin Robertson
Last Saturday, I visited The Big Apple for the first time after my move to Massachusetts, almost two years ago. Prior to visiting, I had some doubts whether I would feel like a New Yorker once again when walking through the crowded streets or taking the subway to Brooklyn to meet with a good friend.

To my surprise, I felt as I have never left, the NYC streets echoed the same energy as when I lived there. Even though the T here in Boston differs from the NYC subway system, I was able to whip up my many Metrocards from two years ago and find the one that has not expired. I did not feel stressed out about taking the subway, and I also enjoyed the diversity that New York offers. People do not care where you are from, and I have missed that feeling immensely.

Onto the recipe. I still had some apples left from my apple picking adventure a few weeks back, and I have decided to make Robin Robertson's Slow-Cooked Apple Butter from her amazing cookbook: Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker. The recipe is simple and delicious. I would also encourage you to try other recipes from this cookbook, all recipes are FANTASTIC. Cheers!

Slow-Cooked Apple Butter (Makes about 4 cups)
[Posted with the author's permission]

2 and 1/2 to 3 pounds cooking apples, washed, cored and thickly sliced
1 and 1/4 cups natural sugar, or more to taste
1/3 cup apple juice
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low until the apples are very soft, about 8 hours.

Remove the lid, turn the heat to High, and stir the mixture. Continue to cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, 2-4 hours. When the apple butter has reached the thickness you prefer, turn off the slow cooker, remove the lid, and allow to cool off completely. When cool, transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Alternatively, you can process the apples through a food mill to remove the bits of peel.

The apple butter will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Apple Pancakes and Apple Picking

Last Sunday I went apple picking. I enjoyed it immensely. Walking through the orchard while observing people with big bags of apples, and watching a little bunny hiding underneath a tree waiting to take a turn to eat one of the apples left behind on the ground, I realized, moments likes these are necessary to appreciate the simpler things in life. 
My friend took this amazing photo while apple picking.

Apple picking is a perfect example of this sentiment. What is simple and trivial for one, is a soothing moment for another. Walking among big crowds of people in a trendy neighborhood makes me anxious, while walking through an orchard, watching a bunny is all that I need to make anxiety disappear, at least for that moment.

What else works for distressing? For me, it is making and mainly eating apple pancakes on a Sunday. My mom makes these pancakes frequently, hence the inspiration. Cheers to apple picking, bunnies, and apple pancakes!

Apple Pancakes served with vegan butter and maple syrup. 
Apple Pancakes (Makes about 12 small pancakes)

1 cup all-puropse flour
1 cup unsweetened plant milk of choice (I used soy milk)
Up to 1 cup water
1 large apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dash of salt
Dash of cinnamon or more to taste

Vegetable oil or cooking spray for frying

Preheat a large non-stick skillet over a medium heat with about 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl combine 1/2 cup water, vanilla extract and plant milk. Mix well and add it to the dry ingredients, using a whisk.

The batter should be a consistency of a thick dressing. If the batter is too thick add more water gradually until the desired consistency is reached. Add the sliced apples to the pancake batter and mix well.

Fry 4-5 pancakes (use 1/4 cup measurement for each pancake) at a time until golden brown, for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve with maple syrup or anything you like.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Smoky Yellow Split Pea Soup and Midterms

Smoky Yellow Split Pea Soup
It is Midterms Season for me, and this time I am planning on making things right with the world. Mainly, I hope to write my papers at least two days ahead before they are due rather than leaving the work for the night of.

In the past (recent past), the rebel in me wanted nothing to do with thinking about papers until I REALLY had to think about them. Now, I deem that doing this to myself is not conducive to my well being. So no more of that! I just said it and wrote it, therefore, it must come true.

Midterms aside, I made this soup on a whim, using whatever I had on hand. I thought it tasted great. The soup is really filling, and is easy to make. It is also affordable. When/if you get bored with eating soup all week, try it over pasta, baked potato or mashed potatoes. You can also use it as a binder in your favorite vegan patty recipes. Cheers!

Great with bread! 
Smoky Yellow Split Pea Soup

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound yellow split peas
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1 tablespoon marjoram
1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme
8 cups vegetable broth
Splash of hot sauce to taste

In a large soup pot, sauté the onion and carrots in olive oil, over a medium heat, for about 6 minutes. Stir often. Add salt, pepper, paprika, liquid smoke, marjoram, and fresh thyme. Mix and continue cooking for another minute or so.

Add yellow split peas, and vegetable broth, cover, and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 1 hour until the split peas are soft and creamy. Turn off the heat, and taste for salt. Serve with a splash or two of hot sauce, piece of favorite bread or over a baked potato.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vegetable Tofu Scramble

Hi there, 

Long time, no post. I have been wondering around a dark city for days, killing wolves in World of Warcraft (WoW). I know that killing wolves is not the vegan way, but they are attacking me, so I must fight back. In retrospect, I would feel more comfortable destroying hunters.

I am playing this game for my Social Work and Technology class, and I must reach level 20 by the end of the semester to get my 20% of this assignment. Off to WoW land yet again.


Vegetable Tofu Scramble
Vegetable Tofu Scramble 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 extra firm organic tofu (15-oz), drained and crumbled
3-4 small potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
Sea salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1-2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes

In a large non-stick pan, sauté the onion in olive oil, over a medium heat, for about 2-3 minutes. Add the shredded potatoes, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked. Stir often and use cooking spray, if necessary, to prevent from sticking to the pan.

Add crumbled tofu and all the spices. Mix well and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Turn off the heat, add sun-dried tomatoes, and taste for salt and pepper. Serve with favorite bread. I like to add a piece of avocado to mine, and a splash of hot sauce.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Apple and Butternut-Squash Soup with Farro

Apple and Butternut-Squash Soup with Farro. 

Do you ever experience days where you feel disconnected, out of touch and defeated? Well, I feel that way a lot lately and soup helps me with pulling myself together.

The Fall season has a lot to offer in terms of its food bounty, including apples, pumpkins, squashes, and my favorite: horror movies (not part of Fall food bounty). Tis the season!


Apple and Butternut-Suash Soup with Farro

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium butternut-squash, peeled, seeds removed and diced
2 apples, peeled, seeds removed and diced
3/4 cup red lentils
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves
1 large bay leaf
1-2 teaspoons raw cane sugar (optional, add at the end)
6 cups vegetable broth

1 cup cooked farro (use different grain to make it gluten-free or skip it all together)

Prepare the farro first according to package directions. I cooked mine in vegetable broth, and did not add any salt.

In a large soup pot, sauté the onion in oil for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and all the spices, including salt, pepper and bay leaf. Sauté for about 5 more minutes, and stir often. Add a splash of water if necessary to prevent from sticking. Add butternut-squash, apples, red lentils and vegetable broth. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 20-25 minutes until the squash is soft and the red lentils are creamy.

Turn off the heat, remove bay leaf, and puree the soup with an immersion blender until very smooth. Regular blender works well too. Taste for salt and pepper, and add the sugar if you desire for the soup to taste sweeter. I added 1 teaspoon of sugar to mine.

Serve with cooked farro.