Jams, Chutneys, & Sprouting Beans

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Assorted jars of jams and chutneys I’ve made from the plum tree in the backyard.  The kitchen is still sticky a week later.

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Quite literally, the plum tree was weighed down with all the plums – a basketful went to the yoga studio to give away, and many had fallen on the ground and were rotting.  So it made sense to try to can the rest.

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Plum chutney – I had a little trouble with this, due to not having a peel grater (think chunks of lemon peel in every other bite), whole mustard seeds (out of ground) and too much lemon juice.  Otherwise, it was (is?) simply delicious.  Got the recipe from here.

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Making asian plum sauce!  Yum.

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Overall, 4 batches of canning (Chutney, 1 lone jar of anise plum jam that is long gone, and 2 batches of asian plum sauce)

Honestly when I tasted the asian plum sauce, I swooned.  It was liquid gold. It is so intense and multi-dimensional, I cannot even begin to describe how flavorful it is.  There is such an intense sweetness, yet it is also well offset by the addition of soy sauce and vinegar.  The ginger and chili adds a wonderful kick, but is tempered out by the fruity notes.
It would be wonderful in a tofu marinade, as a dipping sauce for vegetables, and even chips and crackers, which is what we did for lunch today.  Delicious!

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Picking bai lan flowers everyday (!) My favorite thing to do in the mornings.  We have 4 trees, and I harvest the budding flowers twice a day.  There is nothing quite like the scent of a bai lan.  Little bai lan flowers strung up and sold by the toothy old ladies in the subway for $0.50… ahh.  Its heavy perfume always takes me back to Shanghai.

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I had gathered some dried beans from who knows where sometime last year, and they have been sitting on the windowsill since then.  I soaked 3 and managed to sprout 2 of them.  They grow so fast! This was from day 2.IMG_1287

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This is from day 4, or day 5?

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Bean sprouts!IMG_1308

Now they’ve gotten so tall!  It’s been a week, I should probably transplant them outside now, haha oops.  But gosh, it’s probably 4 feet tall.  It makes me slightly nervous to be honest.

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So that’s what I’ve been up to.  Besides meeting some nice (and one not so nice) boys in the area :) and writing my petitioning speech for joining DiPhi (debate society at UNC), re-learning french, part-time work, and lots and lots of yoga.  Each day now is more precious than the last, as summer’s coming to a close.  Ahh well.

Life Lately

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Ahh summer.  After all the finals and goodbyes at school, I’ve been relishing the freedom.  No more assignments, no more classes, and definitely no more microwave-only foods.
Unfortunately, I didn’t plan my summer out as well as I should have, and am in the midst of a sort of job-boredom crisis.  More on that to follow.

Anyways, here is a quick look at some things I’ve been enjoying lately: I have been MIA here for a while, and think it’s time to get back into blogging.

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Some delicious garlic-y stir-fried pea shoots my dad brought over for me before and during finals

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TJ’s coconut oil! So cheap, and great for baking

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“Sloth on a stick” for my roommate. We started doing creative exchanges – she asked for a sloth, and this is what she got.

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Aaaand the other side

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Oh. my. goorsh. I became so obsessed with making these. Delicious, savory, cornmeal-scallion & zucchini pancakes.

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The addition of black salt really takes these over the edge – I was craving something ‘eggy’ and the yellow color and slight creaminess of the cornmeal, coupled with the sulfuric content of black salt, really gave me the satisfaction of eating something with eggs, yet remaining vegan.

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Huge haul from strawberry picking in Cary, NC. These were so yum! Pesticides-ridden, yes, but much fresher and more local than anything in the grocery store.

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A sweet redbean bun

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Reuben, my dog in NC. He chills out a lot, and loves coconut oil as much as I do

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Vegan, paleo cookies. So delish! I’ve made 3 batches of these, all with some variations.

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Vegan conscious box – some good stuff! I really liked the raw choc-coconut macaroons. Those went fast

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Just another look at the same conscious box

My life so far.  I’m in California now, just chilling out at home in Fremont, CA after being let go from my job.  Currently pursuing a part-time data entry job they said they’d call me about, but we’ll see.

Anyways, I hope you guys are having a great summer so far, and good luck with your exams if you’re still taking any!  And if you’re on the road – enjoy the sights and sounds, there’s only going to be that ‘one moment’ to experience life.  So live it to the fullest.

Soft Whole-Wheat Pretzels, Vegan

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These were pretty damn good.

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I’m especially happy with these photos because I got to use my Dad’s larger Canon, and the salt just adds some beautiful visual texture to the brown pretzels!

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Fresh from the oven, yum

I made mine plain, with just a bit of salt in the batter mixture and sprinkled them with coarse black pepper and salt.  They were chewier than I expected, and a little bland (like how you want to add vegan cream cheese to a bagel) so I’ve included some garlic powder in the recipe, because garlic makes everything better.  I also actually followed the recipe this time and made them much smaller than my previous pretzels, so boiling was a breeze.  No more huffing and puffing and swearing incessantly over a hot pot of water.

Honestly, watching your made-with-love beautiful pretzels fall apart is just heart-breaking.

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These bad boys are great with any strong mustard or balsamic vinegar & oil mixture, btw.  We didn’t actually have mustard for some strange reason, but I can attest to the dipping oil & vinegar – yum.

Also, I mixed a 1:1 ratio of whole wheat bread flour with whole wheat pastry flour – the recipe should be fine with either all-purpose, whole-wheat, whole-wheat bread flour, or whole-wheat pastry flour, just note that the texture will vary.
IMG_1193Yes, these are whole wheat.  Yes they are pretty easy.  Yes, they’re a carb-load (oh-so delicious carb load though).  And yes, they’re vegan.  You’re welcome.

Soft Whole Wheat Pretzels (Vegan):
Adapted from Food Doodle’s
~Yields 8 soft pretzels~

  • 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or blended WW bread flour & WW pastry flour)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 packet of instant dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp liquid sweetener, or brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • Large pot of water for boiling
  • Coarse salt & pepper for sprinkling

In a small bowl mix the dry yeast and 1/3 cup of warm water, and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl mix the flour, garlic powder, & salt and incorporate the remaining warm water, liquid sweetener, and yeast mixture.  Mix/knead by hand until it’s no longer sticky (you may need extra flour).  Wash the large bowl, oil it, then place the dough in it and cover with a wet towel.

Allow the dough to rise in a warm area until it’s doubled in size, then take it out and divide it into eighths – I did this by just making a ball, and cutting it in half 4 times.  Take one portion and roll it out, then shape into a pretzel.  This is the super fun part, but make sure that your pretzel is small enough so that it can be easily lifted with a slotted spoon, for when you boil them.  It’d be sad to end up making ‘pretzel bites.’

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

After shaping each of the pretzels, allow them to rise a second time while you prepare a large pot of water for boiling.  Add in the 1 Tbsp of baking soda (this gives it a harder, brown crust).
Once the water is at a rolling boil, drop in one pretzel at a time, using a slotted spoon, and remove after about 30 seconds and place on a cooling rack.  Give them a minute or two to cool, then sprinkle on the coarse salt and black pepper.

Place them evenly spaced on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or one that’s lightly oiled, then bake for 20 minutes until they are browned.  Remove, let cool (or not, who’s gonna know?) and enjoy!

March Vegan Cuts Box

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Hey-oh!  I know it’s been quiet here, but I’ve been quite busy with midterms, papers, etc.  College life is pretty stressful, but I’ve officially declared myself as an Economics major & Anthropology minor.

Thank goodness for Easter weekend… I’ve been loading up on delicious Chinese stir-fries, taro tapioca pudding, and steamed red bean buns (!).  For some reason, even with all the protein I’ve been eating lately I’m still extremely fatigued the day after a pretty hard work-out, which doesn’t happen often.  The Raw vanilla protein powders were really nasty to chug down, but the chocolate was decadent.

Anyways, here’s an intro to the March Vegan Cuts box.  After being cheated (maybe?) out of my January Vegan Foodie Penpal box, I decided to just suck it up and dole out $20/month for a reliable box of goodies.
It’s worked out really well too!

IMG_1185Literally, everything edible in this box is gone.  The chocolate eggs (super hard and too sweet), Earth Balance vegan cheddar puffs, Falafel chips, caramel corn, Vbar, and another little itty-bitty chocolate that’s hidden behind the Ultima packet.  Everything was great, especially the caramel corn, Vbar, and cheddar puffs – yeah that’s like half of the box, but whatever!

And a sneak peak into my next recipe post:

IMG_1190Mm-mmm, good.

 

 

Kitchen Bliss

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Kitchens are a blessing, something only one without a kitchen could appreciate.  Going back home for spring break was a much-needed vacation, if only to test out various goodies and bake up a storm.

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Veggie plate at All Seasons.  It wasn’t on the menu but the server was very understanding about the situation.
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Cheeseless pizza from Café Citti - awesome!  The crust was amazing, and the veggies were fresh and plentiful.  It was incredibly colorful, and looked a lot better than the cheesy pizza-of-the-day, in my opinion.

IMG_1174Puff pastries from a friend of my mom’s – they’re from a Buddhist monastery in China, and are thus vegan and ‘blessed.’  Deliciously light and faintly sweet, there is an unpictured sesame moon cake-like bun that I devoured daintily ate on the flight to RDU.

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Whole-wheat soft pretzels. Aren’t they pretty?

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I just wish they could have stayed pretty. I have never cursed or frantically waved spatulas in the air as much as I did after I started boiling them.  Pretzels? Hah!  More like pretzel sticks.  These pretty pretzels fell apart fast, leaving me with a chunky, brown pretzel mess.

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The real pretzels.  These were much easier to boil and didn’t fall apart when I pulled them out of the water.  Covered in a flax egg, then laid on a garlic salt and black sesame mixture before baking.
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Turns out recipes are useful for a reason… they tasted too strongly of baking soda.  But they will be eaten anyways – too much work went into making these for me to even consider wasting perfectly cute pretzels!

Unpictured culinary endeavors include:
* Extra creamy hummus (not as creamy as I’d liked it, but miles better than my earlier Humongous Hummus)
* A spin on the Detoxinista’s Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies  sdf;lkj
* Soggy, under-dehydrated curry veggie chips
* Cauliflower soup, loosely based on the Fat Free Vegan’s, minus the potato and add in a handful of oat bran

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