I love when this happens!

How often have you looked through your fridge or cupboard, and come to the realization that you have ALL the ingredients on hand for a meal that you hadn’t even planned?

It's not the sexiest -looking soup, but it felt so fresh and yummy. And no weird chemicals or additives!

It’s not the sexiest -looking soup, but it felt so fresh and yummy. And no weird chemicals or additives!

I mean, you scan through your dry goods, fruit & veg, and whatnot and your smart little brain takes those ingredients, and swiftly calculates them into a total dish you can actually cook? That’s awesome!

That is awesome, and it happened to me last week. I had kale, veg meatballs, tomatoes, garlic, veggie stock, carrots, celery and tortellini on hand. Brain threw those items into the calculator, and came up with: ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

So, excited, I set right to it. We’ve been having unholy amounts of rain lately, and soup has seemed like a good idea – yes, even with the humidity.

My house quickly filled with the scent of garlic, tomatoes, celery and carrots gently sauteeing in olive oil…and later, in went the veggie Italian meatballs (courtesy Gardein). As you may (or may not) have read in my earlier posts, I ALWAYS have homemade veggie stock on hand for the base of any kind of soup.

Fast forward about an hour, and I added the veggies, tortellini, meatballs and a generous handful of kale to the stock and let it simmer. Of course, I added freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt to top it off.

I love when a non-plan comes together!

I’m a Spice Girl

Hey there! Hope all is well.

I’ve always loved mixing things together to see what would happen. Which is why I did well in Chemistry in high school…I managed not to blow up the lab!
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Mixing things together like yummy spices and herbs is a wonderful and satisfying thing. I do this quite often, as I’m loathe to grab ready-made spice mixes off the shelf. I just don’t trust what “else” is in them, and besides, when I make my own, my kitchen smells awesome.

Here are a few that popped out of my head and into some bottles. What kinds of mixes have you made lately?

EABASEDD! (a challenge of sorts)

It’s April in West Florida and it’s hotter than blazes. Already. Having lived here much of my life, I should, in theory, be used to what feels like living in the lap of hell 9 out of 12 months of the year.

Okay, I exaggerate. A bit. Some folks thrive in the heat and humidity. Me, I shy from it. I don’t sunbathe, I don’t play sports in the day (except Shuffleboard – and that’s after the sun goes down, dahling), and I definitely am not what is often derisively called a “beach bunny.”

Where am I going with this? Well, hot weather, to me, begs for cool foods. I’m in Salad Mode right now – and probably will be for some time to come, thanks to a vegan food challenge called EABASEDD – or, Eat A Big Ass Salad Every Damn Day.

I didn’t coin the phrase or the challenge. My friend Marianne – 50+, super-healthy and full of energy and glowing skin, did, on her Instagram and facebook pages. Her salads are always gorgeously arranged, brimming with myriad additions to the usual leafies, such as chickpeas or nuts. Well. From such a nice person with such nice-looking salads, how could one not take her challenge?

2011-06-16 05.18.50One (namely me) is going to try Really Damn Hard to Eat Salad every day, especially since we’ve been thrust into Satan’s Rec Room (aka Florida Summer. Yes, summer. We don’t really have “spring” here). Cool, crispy salads, glistening with ripe tomatoes, groovy green avocados, crunchy carrots, and, hey! even smoked tofu now and then. Salad doesn’t have to be boring. It just has to be a meal.

Here’s my first EABASEDD salad, above  (I’ve been eating them quite frequently, really, but this is the first official challenge-salad): jam-packed with kale, spinach, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, scallions, and cukes. Not too shabby. Let the challenge begin!

Tell me if you could (or already are) eating a big-ass salad each day, and what you put in yours!

More chickpea salad!

I can’t stop making this stuff! Here’s another view from this weekend of my Coronation Chickpea salad. I sprinkled a bit of paprika on it for color.

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Rice is nice

We have a local eatery in town – which is about as close to a “soup and sandwich’ spot as you’ll find here – and their specialty for the last 25 or so years is their homemade bread made from wild rice.

IMG_4916In fact, Minnesota wild rice figures prominently in many of their lunch dishes, including soups and salads.

I like this place because their menu is pretty innovative with the combination of ingredients, and they will happily veganize something when requested. This yummy and filling Wild Rice salad that I had, for instance, normally comes with hard-boiled eggs. I asked if they could replace they eggs with avocado slices, and I believe that made it even more yummy! Plus, it’s served with a slice of their soft wild rice bread, which is pretty addictive.

I’ve loved wild rice (which is technically a grass) since I was a kid. I think it’s great that it’s being used so creatively at this restaurant, and it’s certainly proved popular as a result – just check out the longish lines at lunch hour!

 

Coronation street

Have you ever heard of “Coronation chicken’? If you’re one of Her Majesty’s subjects, then most certainly you have.

BeFunky_2010-10-04 04.jpgBeing the Anglophile that I am, I read of Coronation chicken a long while ago whilst reading a book of British recipes. It sounded simple but lovely: the Brit version of our good old all-American cold chicken salad (or a distant cousin of the Waldorf salad). It incorporates chopped chicken, curry powder, raisins (or sultanas, as they say over the pond), celery, onions, and whatnot.

It wasn’t until much later after I became veggie that I found a recipe for Coronation Chickpeas – a meat-free version of the original. Now, I love anything to do with chickpeas and curry – so this was a no-brainer for me. And you know what? It does make a lovely, light lunch on a hot summer day – I sometimes scoop the mixture into butter or red lettuce leaves and make a little wrap. You could also pile it onto some raw baby leafy greens or in a tortilla and call it a wrap. Or, do as I did the first time and just eat it plain with a fork.

Coronation chickpeas – healthful, quick to prepare, and a nice change from your usual sandwich stuffings or salad toppings. I used Vegenaise as my mayo of choice (as ever).

There are loads of recipes for Coronation chickpeas out there – feel free to experiment with any of them.

Playing with my food

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 Just having a little fun,  pre-burger – last weekend! Smile!