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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Spicie Foodie 2010 Roundup (Special Edition)!

Nancy's Round Up

*Tonight is your last chance to send Nancy over at Spicie Foodie what you feel is your best recipe or creation for 2010. Click here to get over to Spicie Foodie and be part of the fun. Instructions and everything you need are all in the post. It's too easy, so don't miss out, Dearies!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars


Oh Dearies! I hope you all had a nice, relaxing holiday weekend.

One highlight of our holiday was an enchanting batch of organic pumpkin cheese bars. They were so delicious that the whole pan was gone in less than 24 hours. Plus, they are almost too easy to make. Your food processor will do most of the work for you;-)

Here is the recipe:

-Pumpkin Cheese Bars-

1 Cup Organic A.P. Flour
1 Cup Raw Pecans
2 Packets Instant Oatmeal*
1/3 Cup Turbinado Sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 Cup Organic, Unsalted Butter (1 Stick)
*I used two individual sized packets of Publix brand organic instant oatmeal.

Pumpkin Cheese Filling:
1 15 oz Can Organic Pumpkin Puree
2/3 of an 8 oz Pack of Neufchatel cheese**
2 Organic Eggs
3/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp. Turbinado Sugar
2 Tbsp. Agave Syrup
1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp. Nutmeg
3/4 Tsp. Real Vanilla Extract
**If you are unfamiliar with Neufchatel, it is a lot like cream cheese but with about 30% less fat. It is located right next to the cream cheese in your grocer's cooler!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees & grease an 8 by 8 by 2 1/2 inch square Pyrex baking dish.

For the crust, place the flour, sugar & butter in the food processor and pulse for about 7-10 seconds. Then add the pecans and 1 pack of oatmeal. Pulse till the mixture starts to come together and look moist. Add the other pack of oatmeal-just pulse it in for about 4-5 seconds. Push 2/3 of the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish (put the other 1/3 on a plate in the fridge) and place in the oven. Allow to bake for about 11 minutes. Remove and cool for at least 5 minutes before adding the filling. By the way, do not wash the processor. Just move to the next step below...

For the filling, place all of the filling ingredients in the food processor and spin till smooth. Pour into the crust once it has cooled for at least 5 minutes. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Then pull the dish out and sprinkle with the other 1/3 of the crust. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the top looks shiny and the middle looks about the same as the sides in terms of texture and lift.

Allow to cool for at least 2-3 hours.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Night, My Dearies...

Magic House on Christmas Night...

May your Christmas night be full of magic and all things bright...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Best Ever Vegan Chocolate Cake!

vegan chocolate cake 10

Oh Dearies!

I am exhausted after being with my mother this last week and taking care of her & my Cauldron Boy who seems to be increasingly more demanding lately (smile). He is also very sweet lately though, and was extremely so when he saw that in all my exhaustion I still made him this chocolate cake. Indeed, he was delighted to see it waiting for him through the window of our hollow...

That being said, I have a question for all of you lovelies (especially you omnivores and avid carnivores out there):

Are you delighted at the idea of a Vegan Chocolate Cake?

I'd love to know your true thoughts on this and whether you have had vegan baked goods before. What you think of them or imagine them as & all of that jazz!

Thoughts and ideas aside though, I want all of you to know that this cake is the best chocolate cake I have ever made-hands down! And that is coming from someone who uses organic eggs, cream, and butter somewhat regularly. I have no prejudice against organic dairy products. They are lovely. However, this cake is a vegan masterpiece that I hope all of you will try whether you are a vegan or an avid carnivore, as it is just easy, utterly moist, and delicious.

The cake itself also reminds me of something wonderful from my childhood, but I can't quite figure that one out. Maybe an improved and organic hostess cupcake? Though it might be something more special and delicious than that. Like I said, I can't quite figure out what this nostalgic treat is doing to my taste buds in reference to my memory and years past.

I hope you try it though this holiday season or some time soon while the mystical world of memory taunts me...;-)

-Best Ever Vegan Chocolate Cake-

1 1/4 Cups Arrowhead Mills Organic A.P. Flour
3/4 Cup Turbinado Sugar
1/4 Cup Organic Cocoa Powder
1/8 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Vegan Yogurt*
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
3/4 Cup Almond Milk
3/4 Tsp. Real Vanilla Extract
1 Tsp. Red Wine Vinegar
*I used Wildwood Organic Vegan Yogurt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a square 8 by 8 inch baking dish with Pam.

In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, & salt thoroughly. Create a well and place the milk, oil, yogurt, vanilla, and vinegar in it. Gently mix till the batter is homogeneous. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 28-32 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean...

Allow to cool before adding frosting and decorations.

-Quick Chocolate Frosting-

1 Cup of Powdered Sugar
2 Tbsp. Organic Cocoa
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
4 Tbsp. Almond Milk

In a bowl, place the sugar and cocoa and mix thoroughly. Add the milk and oil & stir with a fork till smooth. Pour over cooled cake (I turn the cake upside down and pour it over the side that was not exposed to air, but this is up to you!). Garnish with crushed peppermint, nuts or whatever you like.


See how moist!?

p.s. I have to thank my Bonnie over at Sweet Life for inspiring this post through her lovely chocolate cupcakes with Peppermint cream cheese frosting!
p.s.s. I will climb back up on that no sugar bandwagon after the holidays (smile). Yeah...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Seared Garlic, Artichoke & Sweet Pea Pasta

Artichoke Pasta 100

Oh Dearies, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful! I think the next line of this jingle goes on to talk about having no place to go, however, I have to go to the airport and pick up my mother in a moment. Which I must say is in and of itself quite frightful, as she has been a tyrant lately (smile but seriously) and she is getting off a plane that had to come through the very windy South Florida sky...

Yes, even this powerful witch is scared. I did want to quickly post this simple, yet delicious pasta I made the other day though. The combination of peas and artichokes seared with white wine, broth, and a hefty amount of garlic and parsley is one of my favorite combinations for any season being that this is made with organic frozen peas and canned artichokes. I did have a bit of a problem with doing said recipe this time around due to purchasing the most horrendous bottle of white wine-it was also quite frightful;-)!

My Sweet Artichoke helped me with the wine dilemma though, as I noticed she posted a pasta very similar to the one I love that did not include alcohol of any kind. So I based this sauce on her original recipe. Please note that my photos really don't do justice to this sauce or recipe in the sense that this pasta is luscious and not dry at all. It doesn't look that way my photos. Oh well...it's good. I promise!

-Artichoke, Green Pea & Garlic Pasta-
1/2 lb. pasta cooked al dente or to package instructions
1/2 14 oz. Can of Quartered Artichokes (drained)*
1/2 Cup Frozen, Organic Peas
1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley (chopped)
1/2 Bouillon Cube
1/8 Tsp. Onion Powder
Pinch of dry, crushed Rosemary
1/8 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. Butter
Squeeze of 1/2 Lemon
1 Cup of Pasta water

Boil your pasta according to package instructions.

In the last 5 minutes of your pasta boiling, place butter in a saute pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and allow to saute for at least 15 seconds. Add onion powder, rosemary, black pepper, and peas. Saute for another 30 seconds while taking 1 cup of the starchy pasta water from the pasta pot. Add the starchy water and the halved bouillon cube to the mix and bring to a high simmer. Allow to simmer for about 1 & 1/2 minutes before adding the artichokes. Your pasta may be ready at about this time, so go ahead and drain it and set it to the side.
Allow the artichokes to simmer for at least a minute before adding the pasta to the pan. Once the pasta is mixed in, squeeze some lemon juice in & allow the water to evaporate off just to where you have a good amount of sauce but not too much liquid. This did not take long for me, and remember you always remove it while still pretty saucy (the pasta will continue to absorb the sauce once removed from the heat).

Remove from heat, add the parsley, and salt to taste-not too much if you are going to use a salty Parmesan. Plate and serve with Parmesan, red pepper flakes, etc.


Oh, and this is my very humble, yet delicious entry into The Quickies Challenge!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vegan Sweet Potato Pie

vegan sweet potato pie2

Dearies, this post is simply an update of deliciousness. Vegan deliciousness in the form of sweet potato pie that is! And the truth is that this pie is so rich and wonderful that it is reminiscent of cheesecake and even rivals my earlier recipe for sweet potato pie that includes eggs and dairy milk. If you are vegan or just trying to lower cholesterol this holiday season, I hope you will give this vegan sweet potato pie recipe a try-it's so easy and worth it!

Here's the recipe:

-Vegan Sweet Potato Pie-
2 Organic Sweet Potatoes (1 1/2 Cups)
3/4 Cup Turbinado Sugar
2 Tbsp. Corn Starch
3/4 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp. Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
1 Tsp. Vanilla
3/4-1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk*
1/4 Cup Plain Vegan Yogurt
*Start with 3/4 and move up if needed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes and prick them with a fork. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 350 degrees. Allow the sweet potatoes to cool and measure out 1 1/2 Cups of sweet potato.

Measure out your sugar and mix it with the corn starch, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. Place the sweet potato in a mixing bowl. Break it down and make it as smooth as possible. Add the sugar mixture and combine. Then add the almond milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Blend till completely smooth. Pour into crust and place on the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Allow to cool on a baking rack for at least 3 hours.

Enjoy with Soyatoo vegan whipped cream or your preferred form of creaminess:-)!

-Gluten Free Pecan & Oat Crust-
1 1/4 Cups Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Pecans
6 Dates
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
3 Tbsp. Cold Water

Place pecans in a food processor and break down to a very course meal. Add oats and pulse a few times till they become part of the course meal. Then add the dates, oil, and peanut butter. Pulse till combined (the mix will be dry). Add water and pulse once or twice. Pour mixture into a pie pan and press till even and going up the sides of the pan (start from the middle and move out). Place in the fridge till crust is ready for pie batter.

Enjoy my wonderful lovelies!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter Vegetable Soup

Winter Tomato Soup 2

Living in South Florida can often cause for one to feel out of the loop. Well, at least in the world of all things culinary. While the rest of you seem to be enjoying winter squash, hearty soups and hot tea, I'm jumping into a cold shower followed by a large glass of ice tea to alleviate the discomfort of subtropical heat and humidity. Foods are also light, as the heat somehow suppresses even the most voracious of appetites.

Just yesterday though, Dearies, December 1st brought a cool breeze down over the subtropical hollow. Like clockwork, Old Man Winter decided to make himself present in South Florida. And like a good witch, I have honored his presence by pulling out my heavy knit sweater, putting a pot of herbal tea to boil, and I even baked some Christmas cookies. Shoot, Cauldron Boy was so happy he jumped out the door, smelled the crisp winter air, and howled at the moon!

But don't worry, I reminded him that he is a Cauldron Boy, not a werewolf. And then we ate this wonderful winter soup...

Winter Tomato Soup
Olive Oil-3/4-1 Tbsp.
1 Celery Stalk-sliced
2 Organic Carrots-peeled & sliced
3 Large Garlic Cloves-minced
1 1/2 Cups Green Beans-cut
1 Can Organic Garbanzo Beans
1 28 oz. Can Whole Organic Tomatoes
2 Sodium Free Vegetarian Bouillon*
4 Cups Water
1/3 Tsp. Rosemary Sprigs
1/2 Tsp. Onion Powder
1 1/2 Tsp. Fresh Ground Cumin
1/4 Tsp. Black Pepper
3/4 Tsp. Sea Salt

*Rapunzel brand salt free vegan bouillon is excellent. If you do use a bouillon with sodium, refrain from adding salt till you've tried the soup...

Place olive oil in a large soup pot and bring to medium heat. Once hot, place the celery in the pot. Allow to saute for about 45 seconds and then add the carrots and garlic. Saute for another 30 seconds. Pour in the water with the green beans, bouillon, onion powder, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, stir, and put the top on at an angle. Bring the heat to where the soup will be at a strong simmer but not a boil. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes of strong simmering, add the tomatoes and cumin. Break the tomatoes down with a wood spoon, stir, and place the top on at an angle again. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add the garbanzos and give them 5-7 more minutes of simmering with the top off this time. Adjust salt & pepper to taste...

Enjoy hot with crackers or grilled cheese!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jingle Bells, Ecolissa, & a Discount!

Ecolissa Welcome

Hello Dearies!

It's December 1st, 2010 and quite a fitting time to offer The Witchy Kitchen readers 20% off of Ecolissa items until the end of this festive month of December. If you are unfamiliar with Ecolissa's line of super stylish items, they are ecologically made out of sustainable and organic materials while being suitable for vegan and vegetarian lifestyles.

Here is a look at some of their enchanting items...

A classic dress

A very witchy cool shoe!

Indi Zip Hoodie-so cute...

And other beautiful tings...

Ecolissa is also offering $5 shipping right now and has gift cards for the unsure shopper. Stop by Ecolissa and if you do end up in checkout, be sure to enter the code 'vegan20' for 20% off you entire purchase!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Old Style Sweet Potato Pie

sweet potato pie 5

Hello Dearies!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! We had a day of work & hard labor here in the hollow but also rest, relaxation, and good eating later on in the day. One item that really stood out and that I always look forward to at this time of year was my old fashioned sweet potato pie. It is an absolutely decadent dessert that is gone within a short time of the moment it is sliced. If you have never enjoyed a piece of sweet potato pie or have only tried store bought, I really hope you will make this pie before the holiday season has ended. The recipe is so easy and turns out a lovely, healthful treat that you won't soon forget...

Oh, and it puts most store bought pies to shame!

Here is the recipe:

Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie
2 Large Sweet Potatoes/1 1/2 Cups of Mashed Sweet Potato
3/4 Cup Turbinado Sugar*
3/4 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp. Ground Ginger
1/8 Tsp. Clove or Cardamom
Pinch of Salt
2 Large Organic Eggs
1 Cup Organic Reduced Fat Milk
1 Tsp. Real Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash your sweet potatoes and prick them with a fork in a few places, so they don't implode/explode in the oven. Place a piece of foil in the oven and put the potatoes on top. Bake for 45 minutes or until completely soft and well cooked. Remove from oven and bring the temperature down to 350 degrees.

Once cooled, measure out 1 1/2 Cups of sweet potato and place it in a mixing bowl. Mash it very well with a fork-you want it to be pretty smooth.

Place the sugar, spices and salt in the bowl and mix. Then add the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Use a whisk to mix the batter until it is homogeneous. Pour into a homemade uncooked crust (use a crust protector if you like-I didn't and mine did not burn). Bake for 50-55 minutes. Allow to cool on a baking rack for at least three hours.


To my vegan lovelies, I will be making a vegan sweet potato pie this week. If it is as wonderful as this one, I will post it!

p.s. Due to my technology issues and the holiday, I am a bit behind on visiting my blog buddies. I will catch up to all of you and your artistic creations this weekend...:-)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Soy Stained Tofu Salad

tofu salad 6

Happy Saturday!

I noticed in the comment section of my last post that a few different folks commented on eating radishes alone stating that they never thought to do it. And the truth is we don't usually eat them alone either. Sometimes we do, but they often get tossed next to a bed of rice & beans or are incorporated into a larger salad like this tofu salad shown here.

By the way, this salad is quite delicious, and I am posting it b/c it is my Cauldron Boy's favorite salad;-)

Here's the recipe, Dearies:

Tofu Salad for 2
1/2 Block Organic, Firm Tofu (patted dry & sliced)
1 3/4-2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1/4-1/2 Tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
Red Pepper Flakes
Fresh Cilantro/Scallions

Lay out your tofu on a plate. Be sure that you have dried it well with clean paper towels. Slice and set up your tofu as desired (I like to also pat the individual slices a bit with a clean paper towel but this optional). Drizzle the soy sauce and sesame oil over the top. Sprinkle with cilantro, scallions, and red pepper as you please. Then surround with the prepared radish salad.

Chill for at least 10 minutes and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Simple Radish Salad

radish salad

Hello Dearies!

I know it's been a while since I've posted. This is mostly due to my laptop dying this last week along with camera issues that ensued the very next day. My old laptop owed me absolutely nothing being that he has faithfully served multiple people in my family for quite a while now, but I was hoping that my little point and shoot camera would last a bit longer. That being said, she is an old camera. She has not been used much till I began blogging here though, hence her complete and utter desire to leave this life is a bit frustrating. And especially so when I look at the prices of new cameras. Sheesh!

Outside of technical difficulties, I haven't blogged much due to not feeling like the food I made this last 10 days was anything of note. This changed in my mind as I took photos of my radish salad that I eat quite often here in the hollow. I was only taking the photos to see what my camera would do at different times with different light coming in when I thought 'why don't I post a lot of the food we so often eat?' I mean, it's real food, and there must be something good about it or we wouldn't eat it so often. Right?! Maybe...?

So I suppose this post is a little tribute to the food we often eat that is less than glamorous-a simple radish salad that makes just about any meal more fresh and certainly more crunchy and delicious (smile)...

Crunchy Radish Salad
1 1/4 Cups Sliced Radish
3/4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3/4-1 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1/8 Tsp. Salt or to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Fresh Cilantro to garnish (optional but good)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Chill for at least 10 minutes and serve.

p.s. the fruit cake I accidentally posted the other day will be here soon. I had a toasted piece of it today with cream cheese, and it was unbelievable-yum. On that note, do any of you Dearies have a family recipe for edible fruit cake (smile)?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Technical Difficulties

The Witchy Kitchen is experiencing some technical difficulties, Dearies. Please come back soon...!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November-The Vegan Month of Food!

Dennis' Brussels 2

Oh My Dearies, how I have missed you!

Well, my lovelies, it's November. And though I very much dislike leaving the enchanted month of October, I must admit that this new month has its redeeming qualities-especially in the realm of all things culinary. Yes, November brings us turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and an array of delicious sweets from cranberry sauce to pumpkin and sweet potato pie (my favorite;)!

That all being said, this month is also a special time for our vegan lovelies, as it is The Vegan Month of Food! Though I am not a true vegan, I like to consider myself a part-time vegan. Plus, I just want to be supportive of my favorite vegan elves and their cuisine, which I must say is quite underrated. Me thinks at least...

To get the month started, I have a line up of some of the vegan foods I made this week-a couple of which came from two of my favorite blogs. First...

Chef Dennis of More Than A Mount Full's delicious and super healthful Roasted Brussels. I loved these roasted sprouts next to a bed of mashed potatoes and beans. The outside is crisp and crunchy with a soft, earthy interior.

I prepared the sprouts just as Dennis instructed by tossing them in a touch of olive oil and then sprinkling with salt and pepper to my liking. Whole garlic cloves were also added to the mix for flavor. I then placed the sprouts in a baking pan and roasted them at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on sprout size.

This post also has a recipe for cranberry beans, candied acorn squash, and a wicked looking cranberry relish that are all vegan!

I also made a pesto with my radish tops that I pulled from the garden. I must say that it is all gone within a day, and I'm craving more due to it being so aromatic and healthful. Here's the recipe:

Radish Top Pesto
3 Cups Washed Radish Tops (Greens)*
1 Hefty Handful Basil Leaves
2/3 Cup Raw Sunflower Seeds (Toasted)
2 Garlic Cloves
5-6 Olive Oil packed Sun Dried Tomatoes
1/8 Tsp. Black Pepper
1/8 Tsp. Salt
Olive Oil
*Make sure it's three full cups-even when you push down on the greens.

On a stove top, bring a pan to medium low heat and place the raw sunflower seeds in it. Allow to toast for about 4-5 minutes stirring the seeds at least once to make sure they are evenly toasted.

In a food processor, place the seeds and pulse for just about 3 seconds. Then place the radish tops, basil, garlic, tomatoes, salt and pepper inside and pulse till fully combined (about 10 seconds). Pour the olive oil through the top and pulse. Pour the oil in till you reach your desired consistency. I used about 1/4 cup +/-, but you may want more or less.

Salt & Pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Lastly, we enjoyed this soup from Quickies on the Dinner Table. It is a super simple vegan soup that is full of protein, and I must say that soups like this are so warm and relaxing. Does anyone else feel like soup relaxes?

The soup also happens to be delicious and velvety smooth. Denise uses classic European herbs in this recipe, which keep it simple. In fact, the Chick Pea, Garlic, & Bread Soup has only 5 ingredients to make the actual soup. Then bread, lemon, and parsley are added for extra heartiness...

I hope you all have a relaxing weekend, My Lovelies!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Witchy & Trixy Things!

Fall Harvest Plate

Hello Dearies!

I hope you are all getting geared up and excited for the wonderful Halloween weekend coming our way. If you still need some help with this, I hope you will stop by The Urbanite where the wonderful Trix of Tasty Trix has featured my Spooky Blue Mash and Garlic Seared Brussels Sprouts along with some other super fabulous and witchy recipes...

Oh, and Brussels Sprouts done in this style will convert almost any hater of this cabbage family plant *wink*!

Also, Dearies, Nancy of Spicie Foodie announced this week that she will be holding a monthly roundup of everyone's best recipes. Be sure to submit yours by October 30 for this month!

If you are interested in the roundup, click here.

Oh, and to all of my lovelies who doted upon me with awards this week or who tagged me (smile), I will catch up to doing a post on this soon. I just started a new job today, and I've got a date with my pillow right now!

Be good, Dearies *wink*...
Stella Witch

p.s. I would like to thank Mary of Keep Learning Keep Smiling for introducing me to the majesty potato;)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Rational Vegetarian

Yes, Dearies, I am broaching a topic you have probably heard about more times than you can count on both of your hands. A subject we have all encountered and possibly quarreled over with someone at some point in time by either huffing and puffing about how we just don't get it or defending its honor. This is the ever loved & ever hated topic of vegetarianism, hence it would be fitting to start with a definition:

Vegetarianism-is the practice of following a plant-based diet that includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts & seeds, and fungi. A vegetarian does not eat any kind of meat including beef, game, poultry, fish, crustacea & shellfish. A vegetarian may or may not include dairy and eggs in her/his diet.

Sounds like a pretty healthful diet, doesn't it? Well, it is if done properly. However, I am not here to simply argue the idea of 'Health & Wellness', nor am I here to convince anyone to be a vegetarian or a vegan. I also do not want to make anyone feel bad about their present choices. Instead, I am simply writing in defense of vegetarianism and calling out to all of you who have ever dissed it huffing and puffing about how you-

1. Just don't get it?!
2. Think it's not normal or how people were 'meant' to eat.
3. Believe it's not healthy for humans to not eat meat.
4. Haven't even thought much about it & are just annoyed by difference.
5. Feel something else...?

If you fit into any of these categories, I really hope you will continue reading. You can even argue with me in the comment area below, but please don't do so unless you actually read on and enjoy the next few topics as to why being a vegetarian is really such a very thoughtful, healthy, and rational way to eat for the following reasons!

A Love of Animals

Who out there has never loved an animal with a big part of your heart? Probably someone. I would wager though that most of you do understand the idea of love towards the animal kingdom. This is often due to some extremely adorable tail wagging by a loyal canine or maybe that independent purring puff ball that perches itself on the back of your sofa making your house look that much more inviting and wonderful. Yes, most of us do understand love beyond all things human.

However, we humans have a tendency to divide animals in our minds. I've noticed this at least. Some are for loving and having around our houses while others are meant to be a part of our dinner. Now, this last statement has its flaws. I know. For example, it's natural for most people to not want to snuggle with a snake or even have it for dinner. Animals have their differences, but please keep reading;)

Whether the aforementioned divide exists in your mind or not, I simply ask that you all contemplate the idea of someone who does love livestock or birds the way most of us love dogs and cats. In fact, I have an example. My mother loves cows. Her father had a small farm in her early childhood, and my young mother developed a love for the cows she saw born and reared. I remember going to the petting zoo at Stone Mountain in Atlanta, GA with my mother as a little girl. Her reaction to a young cow is still with me today, as she said 'just look at how sweet and adorable this baby is'. I looked down at the little cow noticing that it was indeed very cute. At the time though, I was taken aback at how my mother felt towards an animal that could be considered food.

Today, I'm different. I have little problem with the idea of loving an animal and, therefore, just not wanting to eat it. I love my dog, so I'm not eating him. I love cows, pigs, goats, sheep and deer too, so I'm not eating them either. It's really simply about love, Dearies, and I can't imagine why someone would be irritated about that?!

A Concern for The Earth

Did you know that livestock farms produce more harmful carbon gases than all of the cars across the earth on a yearly basis? It sounds unbelievable, but it's a fact. Indeed, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported in 2006 that the raising and producing of cattle, hogs, poultry and other animals produces 18% of greenhouse gases yearly while cars produce 12%. More recent reports maintain these findings, and some believe it's getting worse year by year. I'm not going to cite this information, but I encourage you to 'Google' it if you have any doubts. Livestock farms are also a major cause of land and water degradation.

In light of the very serious and changing state of our own world and habitat, being a vegetarian or a vegan is quite an eco-friendly way to eat. In fact, it is an enormous contribution to the earth on the part of the individual who eats this way. Oh, and even non-vegetarians can be more earth friendly by simply cutting down on meat and animal products while buying the ones they do eat from small, organic farms!

A Nutritionally Superior Diet

Despite popular belief, human beings do not need meat to survive. The main components of meat nutritionally speaking are protein, saturated fat, cholesterol, and B Vitamins. The plant kingdom provides plenty of healthy fat options. In fact, plant based fats like avocado, nuts, and olive oil offer protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals while leaving artery clogging cholesterol to the wolves.

A legitimate health concern for vegans is B Vitamin deficiency. However, for vegetarians this is quickly solved due to the consumption of things like eggs, milk, cream, yogurt, and cheese. And even for vegans this problem can be solved by eating vegan foods that have some natural B Vitamins while supplementing in the form of taking a vitamin or eating fortified foods like soy milk, nutritional yeast, and fermented soy products.

I'm sticking to the idea of vegetarianism here though, and vegetarians get all the good stuff with less of the bad. Indeed, so many studies have been done showing that vegetarians live longer while also suffering from less heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Just do a Google search on the benefits of eating vegetarian and you will find a plethora of legitimate studies showing that eating this way can benefit one's health and even the waist line...

I could go on and on here, Dearies. However, I have some gardening to do today, and I know you're busy too. I do hope that you will consider (if you don't already) vegetarianism and beyond as something that is simply 'good or maybe even nice' rather than 'annoying or weird' even if it is not what everyone decides to do in the realm of diet and lifestyle. And please do remember that there is such thing as being a 'responsible omnivore', which in my view is someone who eats less animal products while sourcing the ones they do eat from small, organic farms that are animal and eco-friendly.

Anyway, I will leave you with a quote I saw on Namely Marly. Ms. Marly wrote a great post on 'How to Become a Vegetarian', and the quote she started with seemed to help me understand a bit better my own choice to be a vegetarian and part-time vegan. Here it is...

A vegetarian is a person that will not eat anything that can have children-David Brenner

Monday, October 18, 2010

Almost Vegan Ravioli

Almost Vegan Ravioli

Hello Dearies!

Oh, how I have missed you. It's a strange and mystical thing when one misses the unknown, but it is real (smile)!

This post here today is more of a trick than a real recipe, but I figured that's okay since we are in the month of all things trick or treat! And I suppose my tofu stuffed ravioli made with store bought wontons are both an easy kitchen trick as well as a treat. You can use whatever greens and mushrooms you like in this recipe. I used garlic sautéed collard greens and Marx Foods' dry trumpet mushrooms, which resulted in a delicious lunch. You can use sautéed spinach for an even faster homemade ravioli!

Almost Vegan Ravioli-Serves 4
1/2 Block Extra Firm, Organic Tofu (drained)
1/2 Tsp. Chili Garlic Sauce
1/2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
4-5 Drops Toasted Sesame Oil
Handful of Dry Trumpet Mushrooms*
Hand full of Garlic Sautéed Collards
Pinch of Cumin
Pack of wontons
Your favorite sauce

*Marx Foods Dry Trumpet Mushrooms!
Bring about 1 1/2 Cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, pour over your dry trumpet mushrooms and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.

Take about 8 collard green leaves and peel them away from the inner stem. Slice them however you please for cooking. In a pan, place 1 Tbsp. of organic butter or Earth Balance. Bring the pan to medium heat and saute 1 1/2 Tbsp. Garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the collards and allow to cook while intermittently turning for about 2-3 minutes. Then add 2/3 cup of low sodium Vegetable Broth and allow to simmer for 7-8 minutes. Cool and then take your handful for the mix above chopping it again. Save the rest to serve on the side or at a later time!
Note: if you prefer a quick green, just sauté some spinach in butter or olive oil with garlic-no broth is necessary. The spinach will be done within a minute!

In a bowl, place your drained and squeezed tofu, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, cumin and chopped collards. Once the mushroom are soaked, dry and chop them-place in the bowl too. Mix and set aside. Take about 3 Tbsp. of water and mix it with a tsp. of corn starch in a ramekin. This will be used to seal your wontons with a kitchen brush. Now, lay out half of the wontons. One by one, place about 1/2-3/4 Tbsp. of mix in the middle of each one. Paint the sides of the bottom wonton and place another on top ensuring air is not trapped inside and that the sides are sealed. Continue this process till all wontons are used.

Once done, immediately boil your wonton raviolis in a pasta pot for about 1 minute or till they look properly cooked. You can't use the 'float rule' for ravioli in this application, as they float immediately. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon or spatula placing the wontons on a plate. Top with your favorite sauce. I used Whole Foods 365 Brand Red Pepper Sauce!

p.s. this is almost vegan, as the wontons I used are vegetarian!