Berried in Berries

I am suffering from a bit of an addiction: berry picking. Summer is the time of year when I can restock my cupboards with homemade jams, cram my freezer with frozen berries (for smoothies, pancakes, waffles, etc), and fill my dehydrator with local fruits. I love picking berries and often always find myself bringing home a much larger stash of fruit than I had planned. Not to fret! It’s easy incorporating berries into daily meals/snacks/desserts!!

So far, I have dehydrated cherries, strawberries, and blueberries -primarily for snacking, but some will get tossed into a batch of granola eventually. I have also been making mass quantities of jam because somebody I know lives off of PB&J sandwiches. Homemade jam also makes a great gift for family and friends. One of the more recent jams I made was a blueberry jam with subtle hints of orange.

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Other jams taking up residence in the panrty:  raspberry, vanilla bing cherry, strawberry, and cherry syrup. Phew! Next up: dill pickles!!!

I have also started testing recipes for vegan cookbook author Brian McCarthy, who is working on a new cookbook!

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Blueberry Cobbler – subtly sweet, full of blueberry goodness, and simple to prepare

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Seitan Fajitas – Peppers, onions, and spicy seitan strips cozied up in a warm tortilla

If it weren’t so steamy and hot outside, I’d totally test the raised, glazed donuts recipe next!!! Although, we all must make sacrifices…

Stuff on My Plate

It’s been awhile, huh? I have no excuses… Here are some photos of tasty foods to make up for the absense:

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Homemade Avocado Spring Rolls, a test recipe for the 500 Vegan Recipes Cookbook. These rolls were incredibly delicious and simple to prepare. They are full of veggies too! I had never worked with rice paper before and now I am addicted. Tim and I enjoyed these (way, way too many) with the Peanut Passion Sauce from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. It was a perfect combination.

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Close up – take a nice long peek!

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Black Bean Grillers, another test recipe. These burgers mix up quickly and keep their shape when grilling and eating. They are loaded with protein so you may need to hide in a corner as digestion comes to a close… The recipe makes six hearty burgers and they freeze well. They are supposed to be topped with BBQ sauce, but I was out of that beloved condiment. What?! 

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Off the test recipes and onto crafty creations with the food dehydrator: homemade pear roll-ups!!! These are simply a mixture of chopped pears (peeled), agave nectar, cinnamon, and a squeeze of lime juice pureed in the food processor. The puree is then spread on a special sheet and placed in a food dehydrator. In about six hours, you have pear roll-ups!! We made some with kiwis too, but they were a bit tart. I am tip-toe excited for fruit picking season in Oregon because I am going to be making loads and loads of dried fruits, roll-ups and snacks. I imagine dropping hand-picked dried strawberries into granola…

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Cauliflower-based alfredo sauce over whole wheat spaghetti with broccoli and spinach. The sauce recipe is here. I have made this many times and I love the versatility. You can add whatever veggies you want, use whatever pasta you want, and it still tastes yummy. I think it would be nice drizzled over baked potatoes. Next time perhaps!

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Walnut and Currant Veganzola Balls - one more test recipe! The combination of ingredients in this recipe provides lovely textures, sweetness, smokiness, and savoryness (it’s not a word, but it ought to be). I have eaten bits of these balls spread on crackers, crumbled over salad, and in sammies. They are huge (think baseball size) and fun to shape. I think these would be great for a potluck or fancy gathering.

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Here is Tim making curry on a recent snowshoeing trip! Well actually, it’s leftover curry being reheated, but it doesn’t matter! This was such a warming lunch, especially when it started snowing as soon as we sat down.

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Close-up.

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And lastly, a beautiful Amaryllis bloom! My sister gave Tim and I an Amaryllis bulb for Christmas and we nurtured it with lots of love. The blooms have since withered. Do you see all that pretty yellow pollen settled on the petals? It gave me allergies! I have never had allergies before. In fact, I used to tease Tim during his worst allergy episodes. Now, I have them too, since February! It was always my understanding that you were born with allergies, but that is not the case I guess. My sneezes are so frightening they literally lift my feet off the ground. Sigh… I acquired these allergies right after my 32nd birthday – just goes to show old age and Amy don’t mix so nicely…

The Cake Takes Control

Sometimes the end result in a baking adventure isn’t how you imagined it would be. Tim’s birthday cake was a perfect example. I set to work on his cake Saturday morning and never sensed that the cake wasn’t in the mood to cooperate. I was trying out a new cake pan I received for Christmas and I had every last detail planned for how the cake would look when completed. I used my most favorite chocolate cake recipe (the Wacky Cake recipe from this book), filled the pan, put it in the oven, and set my timer.

Once the cake came out of the oven, it was a test of my patience waiting for it to cool. I was so eager to assemble the cake… I waited, and waited, went on a bike ride, and waited some more… And then, it was time to remove the cake from the pan. This is when the trouble started. The cake simply refused to release itself. I tapped, knocked, pounded, and even dropped (on the floor, gasp!!!) the pan trying to encourage the cake to come out. Nothing. I let it sit longer on the counter. Nothing. Finally my inner rage took over and I really pounded on the bottom of the pan, I mean really pounded. Exactly half of the cake plopped out and landed on the parchment paper circle I had waiting on the counter. The other half didn’t budge. I ended up gently removing it with a spatula, but some cake remained in the fluted nooks of the pan. Tim took care of that by dipping his fingers in and sweeping wads of cake into his mouth. Birthday greed?!

So, what was supposed to be one round cake with a mousse-filled cavity ended up being half of a two layer cake with a mousse-filled layer in between. Baking failures always upset me and some level of mopiness ensues (I can’t be the only one, right?). The final cake (which is still pretty):

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The components: Two layers of chocolate wacky cake with a peanut butter mousse in between, drizzled with chocolate ganache, and topped with granulated agave-sweetened peanuts (the mousse, ganache, and nuts are all test recipes for Celine and Joni’s cookbook).  The cake is delicious regardless of the misfortune along the way. Maybe the cake knew what was best?

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Not a photo, but a scanned image of the birthday card I made for Tim. I love elephants (purple ones especially!), and we both love birds, so that was the inspiration behind this particular card.

Tim and I also enjoyed homemade tofu jerky over the weekend:

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Smoky Peppered Tofu Jerky – We made this in our food dehydrator (using an adapted recipe from How it All Vegan). Making jerky takes a long time, but the results are worth it. This small batch lasted less than a day.

Lastly, another test recipe for the cookbook:

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Homemade tofu mayo! I was never a huge mayo fan before going vegan, but this was so simple to make. I used it in the Tofu Dill Salad Sandwich recipe from Vegan with A Vengeance and it worked beautifully.

Snow Bug Buddy

I made a new friend over the past weekend, but he lives in the snow. What?! Tim and I went snowshoeing in Washington state on Saturday and while eating our lunch we noticed all of these super tiny buggies cruising around on the surface of the snow. And by tiny, I mean microscopic! The macro feature on my camera allowed for a semi-decent photo of one of the buggies. Check him out!

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Cute as heck, right? I wonder how they survive, what they eat, how they keep warm? In all of our snow adventures, we’ve never noticed these bugs before… Maybe it’s a sign of who will control the future of our planet?

Our lunch consisted of sandwiches filled with Tofu Kale Spread (a test recipe), and a bunch of dried fruits Tim and I dehydrated! We also made our own tofu jerky (super yummy!!!!), but I didn’t get a picture because we I ate it up too fast. Anyway, in the photo below you will see dried kiwi, pear, apple, and banana.

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Mmmmmmmmmm!

And finally, here are some more test recipe photos:

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Cinnamon Graham Crackers - These are so simple to make, and so delicious

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Butternut Drop Biscuits with Cranberries – Perfect with soup, or with tea for breakfast, and pretty too

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Veggie Curry Feast and Paratha - If you enjoy meals in a bowl, then this one will make you happy

Tempted? You should be!!!!

Testing Up, Over, and Out

My posts have been lacking, but the food going into my belly hasn’t. I am still busily testing recipes for Celine  and Joni’s 500 Vegan Recipes cookbook, and I am loving it. Here are some photos of the goodness:          

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Blueberry Cornmeal Sweet Bread – I really enjoyed the mix of flavors in this mildly sweet bread

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Fig Lentil Soup – Addictive beyond comprehension

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Kale Pesto Pasta - A great way to get your greens when basil is no longer in season

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Lemon Poppyseed Cuppins - Yummy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

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Whole Wheat Garlicky Baguette – This loaf disappeared fast, and I didn’t feel too guilty about it

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Chocolate Cake - Simple, light, chocolatey goodness

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Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies – Cookies with hazelnuts?!!!!

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Cookie Crumble Granola - Cookies for breakfast? I’m cool with that.