Cauliflower White Bean Risotto with sun dried tomato, spinach and pine nut. I love cauliflower, like I love all the veggies in the Brassica oleracea family but… if you’re storing some up for the week you have to deal with a little bit of stink before reheating.
Roasted acorn squash wedges. This squash always reminds me of the Hobgoblin. It’s probably the size of it and how it sits in my hand. I love how deceptively quick the squash goes tender and how the shiny black skin is fully edible, making their presentation so lovely.
Beetroot. Beets share the love with whomever they touch (beit my hands, the cutting board, or a neighboring vegetable in a salad), in the form of a bright and deep red-violet stain. A color that matches the intensity of their taste. Love you, beets.
You have to massage kale if you’re going to eat it raw. I think that’s kind of cute. Here you have a fibrous, bitter green standing tall and proud. Apply some gentle kneading, and it breaks down–loses bitterness and softens in your hands. What a softy.
I bought this enormous 3-pound organic yam at Fairway. Roasting was the order of the day. So I sprinkled one side with dark brown sugar and let ’em roast, flipped them midway and sprinkled my fancy pants salt generously. One bite of these tender discs is the best of both worlds.
My lunch for the week: the tastes of Autumn.
My weekday sweet? Chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips! As a child I used to eat around the chocolate chips in my cookies. So, being without chocolate chips and my car blocked in on the driveway, I thought this a fine idea.
But as a grown up, I realized I needed a taste of rich chocolate to balance the sweetness. So I melted the bowl of leftover chocolate in a double boiler and got to drizzling. Much, much better.
Here is the state of my Brussels in the garden. This cool weather crop is doing very well! I’m hoping that the foodie squirrels don’t start noshing. Happy Autumn!
We 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.
The 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.
Did 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.
Over 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.
I usually choose pumpkins efficiently-sized for processing later. We got a manageable white pumpkin and a Cinderella. Bibbity bobbity boo!
My 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.
Gorgeous apples of all shapes and sizes. Speckled uniquely, with underbellies, striated skin–a plane of antioxidants and fiber. Fruit–how glorious.
My first bunch would be a batch of scratchmade apple sauce. Simple and easy–but perfect.
Applesauce, to the left, and sweetened yam to the right. Autumn favorites.
In 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).
Broiling is my new favorite cooking method for tofu.
Apple 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!
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.Of 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.
We 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.)
After 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.
The 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.
Brown braids, dirty jeans, and my boots in moist earth. October is the most wonderful time of the year.
And 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.
I would probably name Garden Cafe on the Green in Woodstock, New York as one of my favorite restaurants. But maybe it’s because if I’m there, I’m upstate. I’ve fought the Cross Bronx Expressway, and won, then was lulled by green and early foliage splotches of speed northbound on the I-87. So really, the restaurant can be half as good and I’d still love it. But it is not half as good. It’s all good.
Besides their great everyday menu, their specials are fantastic. I ordered the Beet Tartar with orange avocado swirl, rice pilaf, pan-seared tofu with smoked cherry tomato horseradish relish and seasoned greens. I devour each pile with reckless abandon.
After our amazing lunch, it was time for a quick trip to X’s to O’s Vegan Bakery in Troy, New York, outside Albany. My crazy friend lit-er-ally ordered “two of everything.” Yes, two of everything in this case. I was stunned.
Out of everything, we chose to chow down on a Milky Way cupcake, drizzled with caramel, and a Nutella cupcake. Also in the background, a pumpkin chai latte.
There’s the huge stash, three boxes worth of treats.
Why did we eat so much? Well, my kooky friend dragged me with her to zip across mountain tops, pumping enough adrenaline to merit the caloric intake. I was amongst the foliage, 3,200 feet up.
This 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.
As 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.
My little Brussels babies.
Purple 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.
Real 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.
After a roast, the flavor is bursting through their cell walls. They’re Halloween-ish.
My lunch for the first week of Autumn: broiled tofu, broccoli polenta cakes and roasted carrots.
It was time to say goodbye to the beautiful pumpkins that graced my home and classroom for weeks. I really love this part. Opening ’em up, pulling their stringy innards and seeds from their packed, dense flesh with my bare hands, I imagine the procedure is akin to butchering. Processing pumpkin is a very worthy way to spend an afternoon.
I roasted a variety of pumpkin together, including some winter squash. White pumpkins are often smaller and seem to ripe at a snail’s pace. I find orange pumpkins to roast better, i.e. more quickly, and have thicker seeds than the white. When the orange pumpkin flesh was soft and velvety, pulling away from its paper-like skin, the white flesh was barely penetrable with a fork. In the end I was left with a slew of puree. Here are some of the things I made.
I whipped up a batch of apple butter pancakes using the rest of the apple butter. These were hearty cakes I ate during the week for lunch, packed with rolled oats and ground flax. For the topping, a pumpkin coconut milk whip cream. This was barely sweet but that was no concern given maple syrup is always on my pancakes. With a side of persimmon, a fabulous breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Ok, more pancakes. This time the pumpkin was in the pancakes! I let the puree strain on cheesecloth to ensure a more potent pumpkin flavor. I also used ground salba “egg” substitution instead of flax. Holy omega-3s! These were thick and delicious though The Electrician and I agree that cloves was a bit much. With potent allspice and ground ginger already in there, I’d omit it next time.
Want more pumpkin? How about pumpkin bread? A moist and wonderful spiced loaf from Hell Yeah It’s Vegan. With a cup of sugar and maple syrup in this baby, how can it not be good? This is my sweet fix for the week… if it lasts.
More pumpkin adventures to come. Stay tuned.
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.
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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