Tag Archives: herbs and spices

Original Elisen Gingerbread

GingerDSC_8483Northern Europe, knows a large variety of gingerbreads, they originate from the honey breads and pepper cakes, also called Lebkuchen in German. You can choose from the Nordic pepper cake style such as the Swedish ‘Peparkaka’ or the Hamburger Braune Kuchen. A simpler dough is used for Gingerbread houses (Pfefferkuchenhaus). Then there are Pfeffernüsse, the chewy round sugar glazed balls. Around Aachen you can find Printen, bare or chocolate glazed ‘logs’ of rock sugar studded very hard gingerbread. A very old variety is the diamond shaped spicy Magenbrot. Simple Supermarket ‘Lebkuchen’ are chewy floury dough stars and pretzels, also jam filled hearts, and ‘Domino cubes’ covered with dark chocolate. And then there are Elisen Lebkuchen. Continue reading

Middle Eastern feel

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Summer is almost here. As I signed up for long evening classes this year, I need to come up with practical food ideas for recess so that I don’t resort to buying next door junk. Here is a good idea for a cold salad with Middle Eastern feel. Garbanzo beans, carrots, tahini and cilantro fit well together and make a great curry salad. Soak and cook some more garbanzos to make hummus afterwards. Salad recipe here…

Tuscan soups

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Warming cold winter nights. Although the expected super snowstorm passed us by and went to Massachusetts, we got a lot of snow in the following days. So much that we don’t know where to put it anymore. The cold temperatures don’t let any of the accumulated snow melt. Warming up with a hot soup when the snow falls is the best way to prepare for shoveling duty. I found this soup recipe on Epicurious.com and veganized it. A wonderful whole soup in the cold weather. Here’s my recipe.

Light blender fare

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I am now a proud participant of the ‘Soup challenge’, challenging my soup repertoire. Pan-raw fare while preparing for a blizzard on the East Coast? I don’t know. In this weather when I am reluctant eating salad and prefer comfy food such as split pea soup. After bean and split pea soup, I’m opting for the recommended Borscht. Other suggestions have ingredients that are hard to get here in winter. Still this one also asks for fresh dill… got frozen one instead. I cooked all the beets added some potato for substance, then sautéed onions, carrot and parsnip and add to the blender with broth, almond milk and spices. It works although the sorbet-like result looks more like a light summer refreshment, I preferred it re-heated. It is also harder than I thought to sell ‘pink sorbet for dinner’ to a ‘real man equipped with real teeth’… see recipe

Happy New Year

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You will never go hungry  if you know how to make Gnocchi on the 29th in Argentina, (the day before pay-day,) or if you can make Eastern European Pirogi.
Flour, oil, salt, potatoes – both pasta dishes are easy to make and tasty soul food for a limited budget. With memories of foods in Poland, I made Pirogi, as it felt time consuming. Until I came across a copy of Terry H. Romero’s ‘Vegan eats world’. Very recommendable book indeed. The two recipes I tried were both working well and are both keepers. Following my version of pirogi and especially the awkward shaping process from an Indian Roti recipe if you have strong arms and countertop space a rolling pin may be more time saving… Get recipe here

What’s up with Spoonsense

As you may have noticed, Spoonsense has been lying low. Our kitchen renovation has been taking longer than anticipated. Only two hot plates in the living room for cooking and water only from the bathroom, there is plenty of reason to avoid cooking. With the slim veg’n choices of local Westchester restaurants, I cannot wait to get back to cooking.

Meanwhile I am reading another book on low inflammatory food. ‘Stop Pain’ by Vijay Vad, MD. Recommendations for inflammation lowering foods and supplements are listed here: List on recommended foods…

Raw sweets

TrufDSC_6198.1RAW foodies have a sweet tooth. When looking at some recipe books recently, I noticed salads, appetizers, dips & sauces and snacks, and then… come the desserts. I flipped back, did I miss the entrees? Don’t expect to find a real heavy traditional main dish in RAW recipes, entrees will look like beautiful appetizers and they are likely very filling.
Here are some little truffles, RAW (or quick vegan). They are  less chocolatey, think of the answer to commercial marzipan potatoes and tadaa…the most indulgent way to eat a carrot…
If you care to make this recipe truly live, you will look for unpasteurized RAW almonds, as all domestic (U.S.) almonds require pasteurization and are likely blanched as well. You may find imports from Spain, which need lots of soaking and may have a higher content of bitter almonds in the batch, but they should even be able to sprout. See recipe

Malaga-torn-knee

MullagaDSC_5686.1The ‘Last Soup of the Year,’ Miss Sophie’s favorite Mulligatawny soup in ‘Dinner for One’, is known in Germany at least since the annual airing of the British play at New Year’s Night. The Anglicized Tamil-Indian soup’s name, that is spoken with a stiff lip, simply means ‘pepper water’.
There are many ways to make this soup, which always has a curry taste and a yellowy turmeric tint. Following is my vegan interpretation. Despite the Indian leaning, the soup is perfect for our Northern cold season. See recipe.

Cowboy cookoffs…

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If you don’t care how your food looks–Chili is for you!
I find it impossible to make chili look good in a picture, it has this ‘canned dog food’ appeal. But the  soul food is popular for games, tailgating, and is perfect for cold weather. Just the amount of spice should prevent several colds.
As one of our local fire departments is participating in a cook-off for the hot Tex-Mex American Cowboy dish, my own memory of tailgating with bean chillis was rather painful, so I kept avoiding them. Today, I am convinced that the beans were not soaked long enough, not cooked right, or maybe contained too much grease in combination with spices. The official Texas State dish, by the way, does not contain beans, even though chili beans are likely named after it… 

Yesterday, I found out that there are safer, fart-free chilis, very easy, pressure cooker fast that will not give you the blows for days to come, tastes are surprisingly real as a vegan version. Sorry Texas, no cows compromised for this one. Also environmentally friendly, it uses dry beans and fresh pumpkin mash, which saves at least 3-5 cans; You can make up that extra prep-time easily in using a pressure cooker. See recipe

Variation of a Theme

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Black beans are such a Soul Food. As mushrooms have Umami flavor, black beans, I am sure have something similar. While red bean Chili is an American favorite… ( just read our local fire department’s participates in a chili contest,) there are some like me, who are just not able to survive the day after Red Bean Chili (maybe the beans were not soaked?) however, I have never met anyone who can pass up a velvety Black Bean soup.
My earlier recipe contained butternut squash, this one here is even easier, it is based on tomatoes. I always recommend to go as fresh as possible with ingredients, use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, which in winter may be a challenge. This soup is more succulent less sweet and more spicy than the other recipe and it comes close to Dobbs Ferry’s Tomatillo restaurant soup. See here for 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

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.

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

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.

Picnic time

PestoDSC_3913.1Don’t use your stove during the heat. If you cook pasta beforehand, you will have a great base for cold pesto dishes for lunch and dinner that also work well as picnic and party food. This sundried tomato pesto tastes well warm or cold, if you add fresh tomato and basil, you will have a wonderful cold salad. My pesto will always have some wild herbs in it. See recipe

Shrooming weather

PicklesDSC_3846Monday, we had a Spring Flood.  When I went down to the train, I took an umbrella, in less than 10 minutes, the rain turned into a flood, water was shooting down Maple Avenue and left me wading to the station. I was wet up to my knees. Within 3 minutes we watched water filling the tracks, luckily it did not rise to the platform, the trains were in time. At Grand Central, people all looked dry and outside was just a little drizzle. How do you explain the wet suburbian-rat look?

Continue reading

Breakfast alternatives

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My posts become sparce when we are busy… and food goes fast when you are sharing with visitors. We like the blueberry bread from our farmer’s market, but the one we usually buy contains eggs and white flour. Looking for alternatives, we found a sweet version of sprouted Manna bread, nice for a change. However I also like this nut and pumpkin bread in my veganized recipe: See recipe. 

Wet punky-pie

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Looks can be so deceiving. Here is my warning: ‘Do not fake your food photography or retouch the soul out of it.’ Today I tried a recipe, that looked like little brownie squares. Although I changed some ingredients, I was not prepared that this was not a regular cake, it did not rise and left the oven merely behaving like a hot pudding. However, after cooling for several hours, it turned into a really nice pumpkin pie, just what I wanted, except I nervously had eaten many pieces along the way checking the ‘status’. Continue reading

Easter Brunch

CheeseDSC_3228.1No special Easter treats this year, just ‘cheese’. After too many bunnies and sweets, we kept a low profile. Family feasts are so difficult. There are many traditional foods and we are tempted between a healthy vegan lifestyle and alienating family traditions. For example Easter Brunch. I haven’t dared to invite anyone to do a ‘Vegan Brunch’.  Continue reading