Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanks Jennifer King

Here's some photos from the Nutcracker taken by my friend Jennifer. Going to see the Nutcracker has become a family tradition. This year we went with a group of friends to see the show put on by Carolina Ballet.  Both of the girls really want to audition for this production next year. Arianna said that all she wants for Christmas next year is to be in the Nutcracker. She has already started practicing some of the moves.

Here they are all dressed up for the event.

True smiles.

They were all so excited and had been talking about it for days. They loved it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

No photos to post

Last week we went to see the Nutcracker, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Daniel's beautiful family in Charlotte, and we came home and put out all the Christmas decorations. Those are all things I would have blogged about, but...

My camera is completely gone now. Daniel tried to take it apart but we can't even get inside the lens to attempt to fix the problem. I found out that it will be at least $175 for the local camera shop to take a look at it and that is more than the camera is worth.

So, I may be taking a bit of a break from blogging. I should be getting some pictures from friends and family that I can post soon. I might be posting things that don't need personal photos, or I might just use this time to take a break from the blog. I do need the extra time to search for the perfect camera!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Vegan Tofu Spinach Lasagna

I found a new recipe for veggie lasagna. This one from is from  The Vegan Table (by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. © Fair Winds Press 2009). This lasagna turns out beautiful and it is very versatile. I change the recipe a little every time depending on what veggies I have in the fridge and in the garden that I want to use. I usually saute onions and mushrooms and add that in one of the layers. I also like to use roasted eggplant in another layer. In addition, I use 1 large bunch of fresh greens from the garden (kale, chard, or collards) instead of frozen. One other thing I do is add a hefty sprinkle of nutritional yeast to the tofu mix. The recipe says to put tofu in blender and process until smooth, but I don't like to dirty extra equipment so I just mash it up with a fork and it turns out fine.

I brought this to a potluck where we were the only non-meat eaters and it was a big hit. Everyone loved it (especially my kids who ask for it often) and a few people asked me, "What makes it taste so cheesy?" They didn't realize that the white stuff in the middle was tofu.  Don't be nervous about making this veggie dish--you are going to love it!

Vegan Tofu Spinach Lasagna

1/2 to 1 pound (225 to 455 g) lasagna noodles
2 packages (10 ounces, or 280 g, each) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 package (16 ounces, or 455 g) firm tofu (not silken)
1 tablespoon (13 g) granulated sugar (optional)
1/4 cup (60 ml) nondairy milk (such as rice, oat, soy, almond, or hazelnut), or as needed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 peeled garlic cloves
Juice from 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons [30 ml])
2 tablespoons (5 g) minced fresh basil (about 20 leaves)
1 teaspoon (6 g) salt (or to taste)
4 to 6 cups (980 to 1470 g) tomato or pasta sauce of your choice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; (180 degrees C, or gas mark 4).
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions or use "no-boil" lasagna noodles. Drain and set aside.
Squeeze as much water from spinach as possible and set aside. (If using fresh spinach, blanch first.)
Place tofu, sugar (if using), milk, garlic powder, lemon juice, basil and salt in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. The tofu "ricotta" should be creamy but still have body.
Transfer to large-size bowl, and stir in spinach. Continue tasting until you get amount of salt just right.
Cover bottom of 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of noodles (use about one-third of noodles). Follow with half the tofu filling. Continue in the same order, using half the remaining tomato sauce and noodles, and all remaining tofu filling. End with remaining noodles, covered by remaining tomato sauce. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until hot and bubbling.
Add meatless meat crumbles to your tomato sauce for more texture and body. For more cheesiness, add shredded nondairy mozzarella cheese to each layer.
This recipe is also great for making stuffed shells. To do so, stuff pasta shells with the tofu ricotta from this recipe, place them in a baking dish, pour on tomato sauce and bake in a 350 degrees F (180 degrees C, or gas mark 4) oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Kruidenier Visit

Daniel's siblings are spread out across the country so when one of them comes to Charlotte we try to make it up there to see them. Stephen, Daniel's younger brother, lives in Los Angeles and we hadn't seen him in 2 years. I think California has been good to him:) he looks great!

Here's Daniel and Stephen.

We had lunch at Grandmother Gail's house. Here's Daniel, Stephen and their sister Anna with the girls on the couch.

After lunch we took a walk around the lake and relaxed outside enjoying the beautiful Fall weather and some good quality family time.

The cousins had fun playing together outside. They stopped running around for just a minute to take a picture!

I love all my in-laws and I feel lucky to be a part of their family. I read on a blog or something where the author referred to her in-laws as "in-loves." I think that is more appropriate in my case too!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies and Egg Substitutes

This chewy chocolate chocolate chip recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen is the best tasting and easiest recipe I've tried in a while. The cookies turn out absolutely delicious and only take 10 minutes to bake and about 10 minutes to mix.

I'm not going to post the entire recipe since it is all at the website I posted above, but I will say that it calls for ground flax seeds as an egg replacer. I have used this substitution before except usually recipes say to add 1 tablespoon of ground flax to 2 tablespoons of water. This one uses 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of flax combined with 1/2 cup of soy (or other alternative) milk.

I read in another vegan baking book (The Joy of Vegan Baking) that in order to get the best results when using this kind of egg replacement it is important to really mix/whip/whisk whatever you are using. For example, you can use a whisk and stir for 2 minutes or what I like to do is use my handy-dandy stick blender for a minute or so.  Since I started using this technique I have noticed a change in the consistency and texture of my muffins, cookies, and cakes.

I'll leave you with a quote and this link  for a nice article on vegan baking substitutions from Post Punk Kitchen.
However, like a bad boyfriend, they (eggs) can be replaced, and with pleasing results.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Alley cats in the garden

I'm combining more Halloween photos with a garden update. I got my camera working again thanks to Do it yourself digital camera repair blog. I'm afraid it's a temporary fix so I sent Daniel and the girls out to take some pictures while it was working yesterday.

The garden is just beautiful these days. Daniel works hard out there and his work is paying off extremely well. We are still eating from these huge eggplant. (Arianna is holding one of the smaller Japanese eggplants but we have the globe variety also.) The lacinato, or dinosaur, kale that is in the front of this picture is so big. We have been harvesting from it for about a week now and loving it.

The cats are hiding behind the lettuce that are providing fresh salads every day!

They are standing in the middle of the garden and you can see the large broccoli that is forming some nice little heads. The cabbage is in front of them. The tall plants with stakes behind them are our second try at tomatoes.

Collards are in front of Arianna and lupine cover crops just starting out in front of Ellen.

Here's the whole crew dressed up and ready for trick or treating last night. We enjoyed a lovely potluck before heading out  in  our friend's neighborhood in the 78 degree temperature. Thankfully it was not raining yet, but we were all sweating by the end of the night! I love the South.