Currently viewing the tag: "autumn"

IMG_5504We recently visited the Jersey Shore, by accident really. Our fumbly roadtrip had us arriving at Kaya’s Kitchen, Belmar’s down-home vegan eatery, in the awkward span of time between the old lunch lull and prior to the start of the dinner menu–which is unfortunate, as I had my heart set on a ridiculously huge country-fried seitan steak to make right our day of travel. But I got the “fish and chips,” which had the fried I wanted and the promise of the tangy sweetness of a vegan tartar, one of my favorite condiments. And of course, the chips. 

DSC_0005The sandwich was satisfying but I was dreaming of a thick, batter-dipped crispy fried coat. The lightly fried tofu mushed into the soft bun. Luckily, the fresh bite of purple onion improved the texture, as did the sweet relish bites in the minimal smear of tartar. Staving like Marvin, I also got a side of their Mac And (house-made and thank-goodness-it’s-not-Daiya [T.G.I.N.D.]) Cheese, which was creamy and–after self-seasoning–flavorful and delicious.

IMG_5495Did you see that Hunter’s Moon the other night? It was spectacularly huge when it first showed up in the dusky blue sky–a full spread of the compass and seemingly projected, its nooks and crannies vivid. Moons like this are camera-shy. They appear flashlight-y and clumsy behind the lens. This shot was later in the evening when the bright white beamed through the backyard trees. Ah moon, you help explain kookiness.

IMG_5477Over at the local nursery for our porch pumpkins. I’m fascinated by these odd peanut-covered squash, and the fancy-pants artsy fartsy red and grey versions of the beloved pumpkin.

IMG_5478I usually choose pumpkins efficiently-sized for processing later. We got a manageable white pumpkin and a Cinderella. Bibbity bobbity boo!

DSC_0003My last harvest–maybe? Smallish plum tomatoes are sprouting up quickly, full of the autumn sun. And the green bell peppers are finally yielding fruit! I’m hoping the temperatures don’t cut short the many pretty bells looking to plump up. I’m already thinking of what I’ll plant next year, although my Brussels are going to be growing well into the fall.

DSC_0001Gorgeous apples of all shapes and sizes. Speckled uniquely, with underbellies, striated skin–a plane of antioxidants and fiber. Fruit–how glorious.

DSC_0003My first bunch would be a batch of scratchmade apple sauce. Simple and easy–but perfect.

IMG_5466Applesauce, to the left, and sweetened yam to the right. Autumn favorites.

IMG_5469In the theme of autumn brown, I made tamarind-glazed tofu in the broiler. My chuck of tamarind dearly needs a turnover. I will deal with this come VV’s Pantry Turnover month (January).

IMG_5470Broiling is my new favorite cooking method for tofu.

IMG_5471Apple use number 2! Quick apple parfaits with coconut whip. Unfortunately the “whip” was more like a milkshake. It was still absolutely delicious. Lunch for the week is squared away. Now, gratuitous apple recipes commence!

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One of the many reasons I love living on the east coast is the trees. Come autumn, there’s an art show in the trees. Keep your cones and desert, west coast. I’ll take the Deciduous trees. Their visual, cyclical renewal feels better, hopeful, than your towering sameness and arid granules.IMG_5434Of course, getting beyond New York City is always battle. But the wounds heal immediately upon arrival at the Sloatsburg rest area. There’s a recharge there, like a video game; heart containers are full once again. From there, the New York Thruway is effortless. A joy, actually.

IMG_5454We were heading north to pick apples, as people of the Fall tend to do inexplicably (see here)–following a rainbow that broke a grey sky into pieces, the persistent blue sky calling the weather folks fools. Meanwhile I wondered, for the thousandth time, what the heck Tappan Zee was named after. (My assumption of it being Native American was correct–the Tappan were a sub-tribe of the Lenape & Zee is a Dutch word meaning a wide expanse of water.)

PicMonkey Collage.jpgAfter finding that there was really no such thing as a truly organic orchard here on the east coast (Ok, west coast, you win there!), we were heading to a low-spray orchard–Stone Ridge Orchard, right outside of New Paltz. We passed a dozen you-pick-em places en route to Stone Ridge, likely with robust harvests of plump apples… but with a tough, chemical filmed skin no doubt. Stone Ridge was what I wanted, natural-sized apples with imperfections, not franken-apples.

DSC_0166The orchard was all ours! Just a few other souls were wandering about the trees. We picked a half bushel– strolling the lined rows, feeling the porous, packed crunch of the over-ripe apples under our feet. Idyllic.

PicMonkey Collage2.jpgBrown braids, dirty jeans, and my boots in moist earth. October is the most wonderful time of the year.

IMG_5460And Stone Ridge’s farmstand even had a vegan cookie for me! With our bag of apples secured in the backseat, the trip back would be devoted to day dreams on apple recipes. I began plotting an apple take-over in the kitchen.

IMG_5188This is entitled “I’m strong to the finish, cause I eats me spinach.” I tend to eat more greens during the autumn. Likely to balance all those fantastic autumn starches.

IMG_5209As I wait for my garden’s Brussels sprouts to grow into thick knobby delights, I’ll take this glistening, deep-fried wonder. I love that these are beginning to be Brooklyn bar food staples. I’ll skip dipping their beautiful heads into a plastic cup of questionable opaque white stuff, however.

IMG_5225My little Brussels babies.

IMG_5222Purple Dragon carrots are downright gorgeous. There’s nothing more they need than a thin coat of oil, a sprinkling of salt, and a roast in the oven.

DSC_0007Real carrots, not the castrated supermarket bagged variety, have these swiggly root hairs who’ve sucked in the Earth and deposited it inside their sturdy carrot cores.

DSC_0021After a roast, the flavor is bursting through their cell walls. They’re Halloween-ish.

IMG_5234My lunch for the first week of Autumn: broiled tofu, broccoli polenta cakes and roasted carrots.

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Autumn comes and goes fast. In an attempt to slow down the season already pushed into streetlamp snowflakes and Christmas music, let us eat its bounty and keep in mind that the about a Winter Solstice is a month away. Autumn Dins is here. Here is a photo rundown of my intrepid dinner party, dish-by-dish.

Lite Noshes:
What brings out a veggie’s best features than a roast? I roasted a golden beet, a black radish, and a yellow onion and set out as an appetizer, accompaniments to the Grape, Sunflower Seed Arugula Salad. Since some can’t handle potent root vegetables, they sat on the side.

The Asparagus Tart with White Bean Pesto. This delicious starter’s puff pastry was one of the few items not made totally from scratch. Another one was the can of Navy Beans, a special small white bean that used to be a Navy staple. Unfortunately I did not take a shot of it all puffed up and golden brown as that marked the mad dash for dinner preparation. I was doing quite the juggling act.

Homemade Apple Sauce:
I knew I needed a sweet bite on the plate. I whipped up a big bowl of homemade apple sauce from some gorgeous Gala apples. I don’t know that I will ever eat jarred applesauce again. Simple perfection. I kept it chunky however I have been meaning to break in my potato ricer. Maybe next time…

Before and after.

Ah, the time I had during my advance prepping.

Winter Squash with Spiced Butter:
The majority of my dinner’s recipes were veganized versions of Bon Appetit‘s Thanksgiving issue. More advance prep, making the spiced butter from Earth Balance..

Did you ever grind whole nutmeg? What a pretty little pattern inside.

The Winter Squash in Spiced Butter & Pomegranate Seeds.

Cornbread Sausage & Pecan Dressing:
Probably my favorite part of the dinner.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and “Salt Pork”:
Well-loved by an omni-guest. Score!

Tamarind Seitan Kabobs: I got this recipe from Vegan YumYum. The Tamarind sauce was so damn good and the seitan, succulent. The Electrician grilled these up on the grill.
Seitan from scratch is the only way to go. That packaged stuff is kind of gummy. Plus you can infused your blob of vital wheat gluten with lots of flavor.

Braising in veggie broth.

Time to make the kabobs.

All ready to go.

Apple Cider Cake: Dessert of course. A big win by VCTOTW.
It was involved but with a big pay off. Here, whole cinnamon, allspice, and cloves simmer in some apple cider.

This mixture combined with an apple butter mixture… so you can imagine how flavorful this cake was.


I finally got to sit down and eat with my intimate group of guests and shared a toast. Happy Autumn! I am thankful for delicious food and true friends… and the ability to distinguish the difference. xo, v.v.

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On the way to the farm we stopped at a new all-vegan bakery in Verona, New Jersey: Cupcraze. As per usual, when visiting an out-of-state bakery, I have to get at least 2 cupcakes. I chose this one above, their delicious banana split cupcake, and I am glad that I did. The moise banana cupcake was sprinkled with chocolate chips, topped with a smooth vanilla buttercream, chocolate drizzle and a maraschino cherry.

I had to also taste their festive chocolate cupcake with the subtly green buttercream and a fondant ghost. I never had vegan fondant! This was a nice, sweet bite that energized me after the drive back down state, before evening festivities.

And of course, a chocolate chip cookie. I have to always try a bakery’s chocolate chip cookie. I am happy to report that these cookies were spot-on vegan replicas of Linden’s cookies, a favorite of mine growing up.

Requisite shot of the bakery display case. So pretty…

Cupcraze is just a few weeks old. Check them out if you’re in their area and give them your support. They have plenty of gluten-free options and a great selection of  delicious cupcake favorites.

And after the farm we had to hit the amazing Garden Cafe on the Green, Woodstock, NY’s all-vegan cafe. I have been hitting this spot for years now and it is always impresses. They do their simple dishes well, with love, care and attention to detail.  We sprung for the quesadillas. These are really elevated quesadillas: not oily and over-stuffed with wet veggies. The olive is all you need… and guacamole, salsa and a dab of sour cream [store-bought].

My entree: The Fall Vegetable–Wild & Brown Rice Saute with Brussels, crispy tempeh with red wine mushroom sauce, a heavenly butternut squash terrine with pistachio gravy and sauteed kale and cabbage. Perfect bite of autumn.

Here is a gorgeous shop of the trees of Harriman, New York. I love autumn in New York!

Acorn squash. You know it is autumn when the barrels of acorn squash appear at the market, along with the pimply, phallic gourds. I started fantasizing about roasting acorn squash last weekend, thinking about biting into that taunt, black skin. In my fantasy, the acorn squash was steamed soft. But in the real world, I wanted caramelization, bubbling brown sugar sapping up the soft orange innards.

I have no clue how to ascertain the ripeness of an acorn squash. It turns out that one of my squashes was a bit ripe, the other a bit dry and fibrous. Both were about to take a brown butter bath at 350 degrees, so no big deal really. Oh, I was inspired by this recipe and photo spread. (From the “Pioneer Woman” and her like million dollar kitchen.)

Earth Balance and brown sugar (still using vegan granulated and blackstrap molasses since I have ample regular sugar) and rosemary. Boom! A glorious spread. I can see this being fantastic atop a sliced yam. I used dry rosemary just to not have to make a trip. I’m sure it is much, much more fragrant with fresh rosemary.

After an initial roast, each wedge got a dollop of the sweet stuff, then back in the oven.

And that’s autumn on a plate.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! When glorious autumn is seasonal. Chilly mornings give way to bright, potent sun. This often short-lived delicate balance is my favorite time of the year. And autumn eats are my favorite, too. Heartier, Earthier… I ❤ autumn!So now, with a stream of sun and cool breeze entering the kitchen, my first installment of autumn cooking: Apple Sausage Wild Rice Stuffing

1 loaf old bread, chopped {spread on a baking sheet and heat for 15 minutes or so at 350 to firm up fresh bread}

1 package (16 oz) of vegan mushroom soup {I used portobello}

1 (8 oz) package vegetable broth

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

salt and black pepper to taste

1/2 cup wild rice, cooked {I used the rest of the brown rice that was laying around and mixed it in with wild}

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped

1/4 cup sunflower seeds {I wanted to finally finish off the bag of sunflower seeds in the pantry. The bread I used was seeded too. Next time I’d go for pecans.}

1/4 cup apple, chopped

1 Field Roast apple & sage sausage link, sliced

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and spread in a pan. 350 for about an hour, covered. Let it go uncovered for the last 20 minutes or so.

This delicious stuffing looks kind of seedy. More textures to tempt you with!

Another spectacular part of autumn are the sunsets. The sun and clouds looked ablaze, looked like the atmosphere of another planet.

And I will end this post with the most photogenic of the root veggies, my favorite, the beet.

There are those who love beets… and others.

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The cold weather means a weekly batch of soup. Soul-warming soup. We’re still here in autumn so here is a preview of my looming soup-a-thon, a scrumptious carrot and coconut milk soup in autumn’s color.

Acorn squash stuffed with wheat berry, pecans, cranberry and green onion. A hearty edible bowl. If I was a superhero or super villain, I’d throw acorn squashes.

And while we’re in autumn, in light of the sun’s new position, Devendra Banhart. Can I like Devendra Banhart again? He got kind of annoying at some point.  Here, we won’t look at his strange headware.