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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!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Apple Bread

Pumpkin Loaf 1

Happy Wednesday, Dearies!

As you may have noticed, I have not posted as regularly due to the obligations associated with a big move. Plus, it's so hard to figure out how to take nice photos in a new place. My flat seems more like a dungeon to me right now than a viable photo studio. Luckily, I have found one little corner that gets a bit of decent light, so I wanted to share this pumpkin bread that I made for Cauldron Boy.

This bread is not quite as healthful as I've been trying to be lately, since I went on ahead and used some A.P. flour and turbinado sugar for my Cauldron Boy's sake. The result though is a bread with a texture so soft and moist that I feel comfortable calling it a 'beautiful texture', my lovelies! The soft apples are also fragrant and delicious within the spicy matrix of the bread. I feel like Fall is here despite the fact that this time of year is considered spring here in my new hollow...

Here is the recipe:

1 1/4 Cup Organic A.P. Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Grain Spelt Flour
1 Cup Turbinado Sugar
1 1/4 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp. Ground Ginger
1/8 Tsp. Cloves
1/2 Cup Canned Pumpkin
1 Cup Organic Soy or Dairy Milk
Between 1/3 and 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil*
1/2 Tsp. Vanilla
1/2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Apple diced & sautéed in 1 Tbsp. of E.B. on medium low heat for 7 min.
Chopped Walnuts (Topping)
*Measure exactly between these two lines on your measuring cup.

Preheat oven to 350 and line a bread pan with greased parchment paper.

In a bowl, place the flours, sugar, soda, salt, and spices. Mix thoroughly. Make a well and place the pumpkin, oil, milk, vanilla, and vinegar in it. Mix very gently till homogeneous-do not over mix. Fold in sautéed apples and pour into prepared bread pan. Sprinkle with walnuts (nuts) and cinnamon. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or till a tooth pick comes out clean. Let cool for at least an hour before slicing.

Enjoy with Tofutti cream cheese or organic dairy cream cheese!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hilarious Halloween

Hello Dearies!

I am in the process of figuring out the best location and way to take photos at my new place. In the meantime, here is something extremely funny to get the first week of this enchanting month of October started right;)! I hope you will watch it, as I can almost assure you that it will better your day...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Perfect Pita Pizzas

pita pizza 5

Oh, my lovelies! I am so tired. I don't even know if I've ever been this tired (smile but seriously).

Despite exhaustion, I wanted to quickly post my entry into Sweet Artichoke's 'A taste of....Summer Holidays challenge'. The challenge simply entails writing about a vegetarian food or dish that reminds you of the summer holidays. One might even say that this is Sweet Artichoke's way of bidding the wonderful, steamy days of summer farewell for the time being...

My entry is our simple way of making pita pizzas. Yeah, I know everyone knows how to make a pita pizza, okay! But do you know how to make a perfect & quick pita pizza? One where the crust doesn't taste like pita cement or soggy pita swamp bottom? Well, it simply involves proper bake time, my dearies-no witchy tricks or magic;) The result is a quick pizza that doesn't warm the house too very much on a hot summer day!

Here is how I make mine:

Preheat the oven to 375 and pull out a large cookie sheet.

Take your whole grain pita and slather it with pizza sauce, pesto, or whatever you like.

*Quickly sprinkle with fresh garlic and layer with your favorite veggies. Add your favorite organic cheese or cheeses. Place the pita pizzas on your baking sheet and position the sheet on the middle rack of the oven only once it has reached 375 degrees. Bake for 7 minutes and then turn the heat up to 400. Allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes and immediately remove your pizzas from the oven. Slice & Enjoy!
*'Quickly' so that the sauce doesn't penetrate and cause sogginess!

I am going to bed now. I will see all of you lovelies in the morning;)