If life hands you quinces…

MembrDSC_5704Happy New Year! An unexpected gift from our visit over the holidays was a bag of fresh quinces that Sven had kept from his trees in Mecklenburg, Germany. Your first thought may be quince jelly, elsewhere you may think of liquor, but if you are Hispanic, there is only ‘membrillo’, loosely translated as ‘quince bread’ and eaten with cheese. Fortunately, with one load of quinces, you can make both, as the membrillo is efficiently made from the fruit after separating the juice! And both tastes great even without cheese. Continue reading

Veg’n in Copenhagen – Cafe Kalaset, Vendersgade

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Another episode of the unprepared vegan traveler… After we did not have much luck with dinner, we changed our strategy and followed where some young and smart looking Danish people got their grubs.
Kalaset is something like an organic internet café in a basement, busy with “hipster” workers, and hipster atmosphere, old radios and magnétophones 
line the walls; a good menu, including coffee and beer and good food is available.
The place is so crowded at least around lunch time, that you actually cannot order without proving a seat at one of the quickly occupied tables. Get in line to order and have a partner securing a table.
Food is clean and delicious, with veg’n choices and significant Nordic influence. For Danish restaurants, I heard this place is nicely priced. For us, all Scandinavian food appears rather expensive, but I believe that Danish food is of better quality then the common fare in the US… 

Veg’n in Hamburg – Restaurant Leaf, Ottensen

LeafIMG_0790Abroad, vegans need a plan where to eat. And often we are not prepared. A family reservation in a vegan restaurant in Hamburg Germany, therefore was close to winning the lottery for us. Hamburg has indeed, some veg’n restaurants. We went to try the popular vegan Leaf  in HamburgWe checked the website in advance, where newcomers can get a first idea what to expect, with very nicely presented portions. The menu is also bi-lingual to welcome international guests. We loved our dinner, I just recommend bringing more time than your reserved time slot. As we had tickets afterwards, we had to eat in a terrible hurry as large groups had created a backlog, unfortunately, we had to pass up the desserts. Next time then… 

New Twist for a well known theme

DressDSC_5216Burgers again? The real advantage of plant based food is that there are so many different recipes to discover. Even though they might look the same as their carnivore cousins, they’re never the same old recipe. This time I tried a blend with mushrooms, walnuts and oatmeal. Mushrooms add umami and juice and the rest adds texture, if you want, you can also add some leftover black beans to the mix. See recipe
I also posted my variation of easy veg’n carrot ginger dressing that goes very well with a light garden salad, or even baby spinach. See recipe

Happy Colors

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Happiness lies in colorful food. There is rarely a baby that is not a happy eater of sweet and comforting root veggies. Even Smiley face yellow carrots are among the many colors of Heirloom varieties.
Asides from Vitamin A and B, carrots offer many healthy benefits. One of Europe’s oldest used vegetables, carrot seeds were found in Switzerland and Germany as early as to 2000–3000 BC. Continue reading

The one that didn’t make it…

BSproutDSC_5151Thanksgiving has to include a brussels sprout… I had this unusual recipe but did not have time to include it this Thanksgiving. It requires cutting the little heads in half and then deliberately slicing them to fine shreds. For this side dish, had to make a couple of changes as I did not have cranberries or pistachios at home. Pistachios do well with the sprouts, several recipes list this combination, instead I used sliced almonds and vegan parmigiano. Also, instead of cranberries, I used soaked raisins, chopped even smaller. Although a bit more work, this variation on brussels sprouts recipes is well worth the effort. See recipe

Mindful Thanksgiving

KaleDSC_5139 For an alien, Thanksgiving is a strange ritual. Based on harvest festivals, to unify a Nation beyond religion, every year in every US household an imaginary feast is staged, that native Americans supposedly held for starving Pilgrims.  …For most Americans today, that means eating Turkey with a given order of sides, which makes Thanksgiving about consuming a bird, which has been industrially altered since Pilgrim’s times. Likewise all our food species, plant or animal alike, have been modified for optimum output, scientifically enhanced for maximized industry gain. Thanksgiving to me is not only being thankful to have food on the table, but also being mindful about what has happened to our food and what might happen in the future. Continue reading

Quinotto, Millotto, Farotto…

QuinottoDSC_5132We love Risotto. Treated like a delicacy in restaurants, it is fast, tasty and satisfying, we serve it quite often, and surely we will bring risotto to the Thanksgiving table.
Traditional recipes ask for peeled round grain Arborio rice. Great alternatives however, are other seeds and grains. I sometimes blend my ‘risotto’ with millet or quinoa, as they cook very fast. Another great thing to try instead of rice is soaked grains, such as Farro, which may cook a little longer. Brown rice, which needs longer cooking, should be made ahead of time, then blended it in the last stage of the risotto.
Pictured is a version of Quinotto, a variation made with quinoa, asparagus and brussels sprouts. See recipe

What are all those grains?

GrainburgerDSC_5082 Oh, I remember Grünkern. Grünkern Frikadellen were the grain burgers of the early generation Birkenstock Vegetarians in Germany. Now on my eternal quest for the best plant based burgers I find that grains make a very ‘believable’ modern burger. Different than those crumbly tasteless early Generation ones… That reminds me to look up the difference of all those kernels: Continue reading

First Holiday Flavors

SconeDSC_5046It is that Pumpkin time again… Leaves are red and yellow, temperatures just shy of freezing point and hot soups are making a comeback. Warm hugs of sugar and pumpkin spices and a warm kitchen are so comforting…  ah, pumpkin scones. When I saw this gluten free recipe I had to veganize it even though I had only sweet potatoes instead of pumpkins. I did not have all of the alternative flours either, if you have a grain container it helps to make quick brown rice or millet flour for part of the recipe. Flavorful, highly recommended and going fast. See recipe.

Eating with the Moose – Moosewood Restaurant Ithaca

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The Moose was always on my list. Everyone here of course knows the famous Moosewood restaurant, the cookbooks will find you early if you are veg. friendly. Mollie Katzen’s first books from her days in the cooperative, had made the place famous, beyond Ithaca.
For me directly from Europe, the early vegetarian cooking style felt a bit strange, as much as the rest of the local food in NY. Today, vegetarian and vegan cooking has moved on, from local and natural, to beauty oriented or raw–fancy, indulgent and gourmet showy. Not always with health in mind, just think ‘vegan cupcakes’. Continue reading

Toronto Food Festival: Largest Vegetarian event in North America

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Travelling in the Green Zone…  When we wanted to take the car for a first road trip, several coordinates were aligning for a visit in Toronto: The North American Vegetarian Festival, Toronto city that has been on our travel list, and a stopover in romantic Niagara Falls and Fingerlakes hikes. Continue reading

Lazy Sunday breakfasts

GlutenfreeDSC_4681.1Gluten free pancake mixes? This week I stumbled over a recipe that promised good looking pancakes, even without regular flour. While I usually don’t have a Gluten Free regimen at home, I was able custom make my flour blend with a grain mill blender cup. This is really great, as you don’t have to buy multiple bags of expensive and hard to get specialty flour that also may spoil in an instant. If you have a small household, it also helps you to use up f.e. whole brown rice, which won’t last long, plus you have freshly ground flour. This recipe produces nturally dark pancakes with a very yummy crispy rim, which I attribute to the brown rice in it. Prepare the flour blend in batches, which are then quickly to use in the morning. See for recipe

What to do with eggplant

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Good recipes should be passed on. Our CSA blog suggested an eggplant soup to take care of the orphaned nightshades in our kitchen. The recipe from the NY Times they recommended, looked so nice and tasty, that I had to try it. My soup looked more earthy and not as milky as on their picture, plus I photographed at night, which did not produce such a good picture, but it tasted great. Following is the link to the original recipe. The changes I made might have been due to that I had a only a white eggplant. The roasting in the oven broiler took also double the time,  than indicated, that I would consider roasting over open stove flame next time. My adapted recipe

The mother of all slaw

SurowDSC_4645Ever wondered where Cole Slaw is rooted? It must be from somewhere East… In Poland for example, there is Surówka, which means literally ‘raw’ salad, but then there is the German ‘Rohkost’. It is made in varieties with shredded carrots, apples, raisins and cabbage and likely other raw vegetables, plus fresh herbs, such as dill. You can add some sauerkraut to add some beneficial culture. The dressing can be salty or sweet, with plain lemon and spices. But you can also dress it up creamier, for example, add some cashew cream or tofu and replace the sugar from the recipe with a date or alternative sweetener in the blender. It is so fresh and tasty, much fresher than the usual tired and oily slaw. See recipe

The sweet life

SugDSC_0000If sugar is bad for us, which sweetener is wiser to use?
Is Agave Syrup better than Maple Syrup or maybe Xylitol? Is zero calorie better than honey? Diet sodas are often sweetened with Aspartame, is that good?
Many products claim to be better than sugar for different reasons, if you need sugar specific properties, it depends what you want to do with it, if you want to bake, or just want to sweeten your coffee. And of course it also depends what your diet is like.

In doubt use a mashed banana to make ice cream and cold desserts, even pancakes and baked banana bread, it is a superior sweetener without the need of other sweeteners.
Here is an Overview that compares recommendations for different diets. I have tested sweeteners for some time and will update on a regular basis. 

The young princes

AuguDSC_4393Are all mushrooms with a veil poisonous? When I saw the fist sized mushrooms developing next to our compost, I thought this could not be edible. The two tops on the left side of the picture became almost 5 inches in diameter. Especially beautiful are their dropped and almost intact veils. A veil, albeit not as complete is normal for this kind of mushroom, plus a wonderful sweet scent, almost like marzipan or anise. The underside gills are pinkish or brownish, the spore print is dark and the mushroom society confirmed that it is indeed Agaricus Augustus, a relative of the champignon. Also named ‘the prince mushrooms,’ they indeed look majestic with their white culottes. Eat them for example sauteed with onions.
Mushrooms have good and bad look alikes, I recommend never to eat without consulting with a mycologist or experienced guide.

The RAW alternative

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Is RAW better than Cooked? There are surely reasons why you should opt for less processed in first place. Food in its natural state, (and I don’t mean the bogus ‘All Natural’ claim on packaging). Raw food retains more nutrients; some nutrients can be absorbed more readily if food is heated, but it does not mean that there is nothing at all absorbed, when eaten raw or heated below 115˚F. However, when food is cooked, many nutrients and vitamins are lost. Continue reading

Oh, my Godess…

GreenDSC_4354For Shakespeare, ‘Salad Days’  were not a diet. Likewise with ‘Green days’ he described a youthful inexperience. Sounds good to stay young and green, and eat that salad too!
When making salad dressings, I tend to settle with the tried and true. But it is great to look over the fence sometimes. With summer herbs in abundance, try a creamy herb based ‘Green Godess’ variety, such as the Mexican Creamy Cilantro dressing. If prepared and bottled ahead of time, you have a quick alternative. This vegan version of the dressing goes well with green salads and mexican salads with bean or corn, also works if you have anything but cilantro… See recipe.

Calling for better breakfasts

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What’s new? As early as in the beginning of the 19th century, US food reformers called for cutting back on excessive breakfast meat consumption and promoted healthy vegetarian cereals, such as oats, which were considered by most of the public as ‘horse food’. Despite great inventions in the last 100 or so years, not much seems to have changed in eating habits… Continue reading