Harvesting Carrots?

Harvesting Carrots?
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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Best Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Recipe - vegan, GF

Best Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes Recipe- Yes, As Good As It Looks! 
If you enjoy roasted brussels sprouts, this recipe is one of the best that I have come across.  It is pretty easy to put together in a short time, and makes for a lovely holiday dish or addition to a potluck.

I love brussels sprouts-- or teeny cabbages!  And I also love the combination of the slightly bitter brassica with sweet potatoes, that you get in this recipe.  Because, of course, sweet potatoes have that ... um... sweetness that offsets the slight herby bitterness of the sprouts. 

The recipe I was inspired by used finely grated lemon zest and thinly sliced scallions... I have substituted my health-promoting whole lemon and garlic puree, that you can learn about and use as well in this recipe-- Chris Wark from Chris Beat Cancer swears that this formulation destroys cancer cells, and really amps up your immunity in general.  Or just go with the lemon zest and thinly sliced scallions.

Sometimes when I am working with Brussels Sprouts I think of that song from "Sesame Street" that drilled the number 'ten' called "Ten Tiny Turtles" and included these lyrics:
                             
                             We'll need ten cans of black-eyed peas 
                                 They give you good strong muscles 
                                    Ten of those tasty sprouts 
                                       The ones that they call brussels 



This particular recipe contains olive oil and vegan margerine, or coconut oil. If you are cooking without oils and other visible fats, you can make your usual adaptations.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 pounds (700 g) Brussels Sprouts frozen or fresh trimmed and halved
  • 1 medium to large Sweet Potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 C. (or less) Extra Virgin Olive Oil  (or melted Coconut Oil; Broth for Oil-Free)
  • Sea Salt or Kosher Salt, and cracked Black Pepper
  • 1/4 C. (60ml) Maple Syrup
  • 1/3 C. (80ml) Balsalmic Vinegar
  • 3 T. Vegan Butter or Coconut Oil
  • 1 T. Whole Lemon and Garlic Puree OR 3 Scallions, sliced thin and 1 tsp. Lemon Zest

METHOD FOR MAKING THE BEST ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS & SWEET POTATOES

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F/230C
  2. If using frozen Brussels Sprouts, I found it helpful to parboil them (in water to cover until a good rolling boil) for a couple of minutes.  Drain immediately in a collander and let them cool a few minutes.  I use the frozen organic baby Brussels Sprouts from Costco and do not need to half them or trim them.  For fresh, farm-grown Brussels Sprouts, trim them and half them.
  3. Toss the sprouts in the oil and salt and pepper.  Repeat with the sweet potatoes.
  4. Put an oven rack on the bottom of your oven.
  5. Line your baking dish or broiling pan with parchment paper.  Arrange the veggies on two ends of the pans, fresh brussels spouts cut ends down on one end, and sweet potatoes on the other end.
  6. Roast the veggies for about 20-25 minutes on the bottom rack.  They should be deep brown, perhaps even charred.
  7. Bring the Maple Syrup to a simmer over medium heat in a small sauce pan, stirring continually with a wooden spoon.  Let it simmer for about 3-4 minutes before removing from the heat and whisking in both the vinegar (pour slowly to avoid bubbling) and the butter and a pinch of salt.  Return to the medium heat and continue to whisk continually until the syrup and vinegar have transformed into a a glossy, bubbling glaze that is beginning to thicken.  3-4 minutes.
  8. Transfer the Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes to a large serving bowl (or a serving vessel that you might want to use in a microwave oven at the potluck).  Add the glaze and the Lemon-Garlic Puree (or Scallions/Lemon Zest) to the bowl and toss to combine.  
  9. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes for the First Time!

Sweet Potatoes from California on the Left & my son's Homegrown 'Radiance' Sweet Potatoes to the Right!

When I buy sweet potatoes-- the ones with the orange flesh-- I generally call them 'yams' and they generally come from California.  (My son was very serious about their being sweet potatoes-- here is information about the difference between a sweet potato and a yam).

Sweet potatoes figure in a lot of Southern U.S. cookery, and have made their way into Canada over the years of my adulthood.  I do believe that you could buy them in a can (yuck) when I was a child, but that was about it.  In Northern Saskatchewan, where potatoes were always white.

I remember eating them caked with brown sugar.  The taste of the sweet potato was unfamiliar and not as comforting as the good old "Irish" or white potato I grew up with, so the sweet potato with the addition of brown sugar just seemed... disgusting.
This beautiful orange flesh makes me call this a yam-- but it is a sweet potato!
But then, more years rolled by and I became a vegan.  I began to really enjoy the sweet potato (still calling it a "yam")-- in savoury casseroles, in soups, even as a dessert pie-- and of course, as fries!

So, this year our vegetable-farmer-son grew sweet potatoes for the first time!  On an acreage in deep boxes near Powell River on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.
The lot of the sweet potatoes from his harvest-- some were in the 1# range, many were like peanuts lol

The fruits of his labour are really pretty amazing!  He had many little puny ones, of course, but in general the plants put off about 3-5 tubers-- some weighing in the range of 1 pound.  (He said he saw organic tubers at Whole Foods that were in the 2 pound range, but there is no Whole Food Store around here, so I didn't see those.)

And he really didn't get his cuttings into the ground until July, by which time the tubers had begun to develop in #1 nursery pots and grew, as a result of the cramming, crooked.  He plans to do his own cuttings this coming year, and be ready to go earlier.  If we enjoy the hot summer we had for the last couple of summers, he hopes to get something like 100# of sweet potatoes with a goal of 200# in years to come.
Add the cuttings to a cup of water for about 4 days to sprout

So, you can start your own plants by cutting the vine stems and putting them in a cup of water for about 4 days to root, and then into the number #1 pots with some soil, or maybe right into the ground.  They grow straight downward.

Sweet potatoes love sun and heat.  Our son only watered his plants at the time of planting and later on when they were particularly dry.... that is TWICE over the growing time!

He grew them in a 4 x 8 raised box with soil amended with peat moss, cocoa coir and compost. He mulched with fur chips.  He thinks that they would do well in a green house or covered with a sheet of plastic to suck up the heat.

You can read more about/order the cuttings for the new variety called "Radiance" here from the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario.

SOME FAB VEGAN RECIPES FOR SWEET POTATOES








Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Classic Vegan Roast (or Burger)

This roast recipe is adapted from a recipe in the March 1998 issue of Veggie Life magazine when vegan cookery was really in its infancy in North America.  You might be able to find these 'classic' magazines in a local thrift shop like I did.  They are gold!



INGREDIENTS: T=Tablespoon  C=8 oz Cup  Pound=16 oz  g=Gram

  • 1 medium organic Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or use water or broth)
  • 3 cloves organic Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C. chopped Walnuts
  • 1/4 C. organic Rolled Oats (Gluten Free, if you eat that way)
  • 1/4 pound (115 g) Shitake Mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 2 C. organic Vegetable Stock or Water (I use the vegan stock from Costco)
  • 1 T. organic Soy Sauce
  • 3 T. Dijon-style Mustard
  • 3 T. organic Ketchup
  • 2 T. Red Wine, Balsamic or Apple Cider Vinegar (what you have)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • 350 g organic Firm Tofu, crumbled small (a regular size block of firm tofu)
  • 3 T. organic Starch (Arrowroot, Tapioca or organic Corn Starch-- what you have)
  • 1 C. organic Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs (or Gluten-free Bread Crumbs)
  • 1/2 C. Rolled Oats to coat (Optional) 


  1. I like to measure out all my ingredients into ramekins or bowls before starting and then I can just do the 'cooking show' dump as needed.  A food processor could be used to do most of he job (above), just process each item separately as required: onion, walnuts, mushrooms, tofu.  Mincing the garlic with a knife is likely easier.                 
  2. Saute the onions in a skillet (fry pan) over medium heat (about 5 minutes, until soft).  Add the garlic at about the 4 minute mark (just before the onions are done) for another 5 minutes.  Transfer the onion and garlic to a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. In the same frypan, toast the walnuts, stirring often (BEWARE: turn your back and they will scorch), for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant. 
     
  4. Stir in the oats and mushrooms with the walnuts, and saute, stirring, for about 5 minutes.  
  5. Add the Vegetable Stock (or Water) and turn the burner to high.  Reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes, to reduce the liquid.
  6. When the contents of the pan seem almost dry, stir in the soy sauce, mustard, ketchup, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Cook until thickened, and then add to the bowl with onions mix. 
      
  7. MAKING THE LOAFPreheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 177 degrees Celsius.  I used parchment paper in my loaf pan, but you could use a light coat of oil, or a silicone pan-- the idea is to be able to remove the baked loaf easily.  Spoon in the mixture and press down.  You can add a coat of crumbs or oats (press them down well).  Bake for 40 minutes until firm.  Allow it to cool for about an hour before slicing.                                                                             
    Oven-ready Classic Roast Loaf
  8. MAKING BURGERS: Shape into 8 burger patties.  Dredge (coat) both sides of the burgers lightly with rolled oats. Saute in minimum oil for about 4-5 minutes each side, until brown and crispy.  

This lovely roast makes fabulous 'meat-less loaf'' sandwiches for lunches.  8 servings.

Here are some other plant-strong recipes that you might enjoy:

5 Sausage Recipes for Transitioning Vegans

Vegetarian Turkey Recipes

Yummy No-Meat Balls

Sometimes vegans and vegetarians are scared off organic tofu and other organic soy products by well-meaning (?) "health researchers".  Check out the following reviews of scientific studies by Dr. Michael Greger at Nutrition Facts.org to put those fears to rest:

Who Shouldn't Eat Soy?

DOCTOR Greger'S NOTEs

What if you’re at high risk for breast cancer? See BRCA Breast Cancer Genes and Soy.
What if you already have breast cancer? See:
What if you have fibroids? See Should Women with Fibroids Avoid Soy?.
What about hot flashes? See Soy Phytoestrogens for Menopause Hot Flashes.
What about genetically modified soy? See GMO Soy and Breast Cancer.
How deleterious is hormone replacement therapy? See How Did Doctors Not Know About the Risks of Hormone Therapy?.
Synthetic estrogens used in animal agriculture are also a concern. For more on this, see Zeranol Use in Meat and Breast Cancer.
If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to Dr. Greger's videos for free by clicking here.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

How To Make Quick and Easy Plum Jam in your Oven!

Delicious Roasted Plum Jam
I am very grateful to live in a place of bountiful fruit. In our yard we have grapes, thornless blackberries, a golden plum tree, hazelnuts, saskatoon berries, blueberries, apples, green figs, and quince. We have an Italian plum tree that has not yet been very forthcoming, but that's okay, because this year two friends gifted us with lovely dark blue, plump, little prune plums. Another friend sent over some sweet, delicious pears from her tree. We are blessed with delicious fruit and generous friends!

So, what to do with all these plums? 
It is true that I love fresh fruit.  I blame my un-fruited childhood in rural Saskatchewan.  Yes, we did have berries of many kinds, wild and garden-grown, but we did not, or at least on our farm, have any large tree fruits... crabapples don't count.  But here I am with a surfeit of fruit in my twilight years.  And I am adverse to all the work involved in making "preserves" in the traditional way.

You will not be finding this anytime in my 'back storage room':

 However, I heard from a friend about a friend's easy-peasy jam-making where he just did everything re the sterilizing in the oven.  That sounded like a good idea.  But specifics please!

And then I found a recipe for roasting plums on the internet-- roasting them to turn them into jam!  If you are a fan of roasted veggies (as I am), you will know that roasting holds the lovely primary and subtle flavours of food better than other methods, such as boiling.  So, with that recipe, I went to town, making a couple of adjustments for what I had in the house vs. what was called for in the recipe.

It starts with slicing up the plums and putting them on pans...

Look at the variation in colours!  Actually some of them were a little riper than others.  (That cream-coloured stuff is not butter or margerine, although it looks like it, but a whole grated lemon-- I freeze the lemons and then go through the arduous task of grating them in lieu of juicing-- yes, it is time-consuming.)  Notice that there are NO stones on the sheet above, just plum slices.
This pan of plum slices also includes the accompanying stone for each plum.  Reminiscent of Paul Simon's "Mother and Egg Reunion" in a very vegan-vague way.  Really, the plum stone is supposed to lend an almond-like (?) flavour to the jam.  Although, DO REMEMBER to remove the stones before you put the jam in the jar.

By this time, I am already salivating, loving roasted vegetables as must as I do. And I also love home-made jam, so it seems fairly likely that this will be a hit for me.
Oh, yes. yes. yes.  This is the real stuff, this roasted plum jam.  You have to try it.  The recipe is written out for you just below a couple more pictures of this caramelized, jammy jam.  I used Coconut Sugar to get the caramelized flavour.  You can go with whatever sugar you want!  Sugar is sugar (and apparently 'date sugar' is NOT sugar-- it is basically a whole food sweetener, being the dried and grated dates grated up to resemble some sugars... although it is much healthier, being a whole food and not a "refined" food.)

Hello! This is the finished product on Portofino Bakery's whole wheat toast.  It's not dainty, but it is DELICIOUS and that really counts for us:
INGREDIENTS:

  1. 4 pounds/2 kg Italian (prune) plums
  2. 200 g (7 oz) caster sugar (original recipe)- or other sugar-- I used Coconut Sugar
  3. Juice of 1 lemon (I used whole grated frozen lemon)
  4. Black Pepper in grater for pan #1
  5. 3 small jam jars with lids, sterilized in dishwasher or in oven


PREP:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F
  2. Cover 2 cookie sheets (or bake sheets of some sort) with parchment paper.
  3. Slice up about 4 pounds (about 2 kg) of Italian (prune) plums.  Stone each of them, and place them side up and side down (or all up, as I did) on both pans, 2 pounds per pan (1 kg).  On the second pan, place stones throughout in empty spaces.  
  4. Spinkle/spoon half the lemon juice (or grated puree) and half the sugar over the plums in each pan.
  5. Grate black pepper over the plums in pan #1.
  6. Either time the jars to be sterilized in your dishwasher (to come out at about the time your jam is ready-- about 30-40 minutes) or in your oven.  Please use directions online re warming the jars in the oven to co-ordinate with your hot jam being ladled into a hot jar.  I find the dishwasher idea to be pretty workable-- just remember to use the highest washing setting (*sterilize* on my dishwasher) and time to co-ordinate the sterilizing ending with the the jam coming out of the oven.  If you have any doubts about this, you might be better off just keeping your jam in the fridge vs. on the shelf in your pantry.  The jam done properly on a shelf can last for 1 year.  In the fridge, probably about a similar length of time.  It doesn't get a chance to sit around in our house.  As soon as you open it, refrigerate it after that.
  7. While jars AND jam are both hot, wearing oven mitts, carefully spoon the jam into the jars.  Jab it gently into the jars, making sure there are no air pockets.
  8. Seal the jars you are not going to eat from
  9. Enjoy!!  This is our current favourite jam: oven- roasted plum jam!

 You might also enjoy: Yummy Quick and Easy Fig Jam

3 Fun Things To Do With Grandkids in Edmonton, Alberta

3 Fun Things To Do With Grandkids in Edmonton, Alberta
Visit Fort Edmonton Park & A Review of Other Things You Can Do With Kids & Grandkids In Edmonton,Alberta (CLICK above)