Friday, August 26, 2011

Zucchini Season


Zucchini season is in full swing on the Canadian Prairies. Lucky for me a co-worker at my husband's office bought some of her zucchini harvest to share (thank you so much Sharon!).

A little background on the zucchini taken from Wikipedia. The description presented doesn't exactly inspire --- anything that contains the words "swollen ovary" is not music to my ears or any other female on the planet earth I'd dare to hazard to guess! I'm always surprised at the produce that I think is a vegetable is actually a fruit. Here's the direct quote from Wikipedia:

"In a culinary context, the zucchini is treated as a vegetable which means it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, however, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower." 

Anyhow don't let that put you off -- it's darn healthy: 1/2 cup provides 19% of the recommended amount of manganese. Also provides useful amounts of  folate, potassium, and vitamin A.  And  lets not forget how fortunate we are that it often grows quite easily in our prairie gardens. 

JFYI: There is a big birthday buffet coming up at Padmanadi on August 31st. Sources have revealed that there will be 1000 vegan cupcakes to celebrate Kasim's birthday.  Count me in!! Maya's vegan vanilla cupcakes are amazing - they get a 10/10 from me and that's not easy to do! I got carried away thinking about the buffet - but time to get back to the matter at hand:  here's my list of ingredients for a healthy way to enjoy beets and zucchini. Start with:

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion
1 container medium-firm tofu
chili powder, cumin and garlic powder

Dice your onion and cube the tofu. Season with chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Add a splash of paul bragg and just let it all simmer in the olive oil whilst you start chopping the veggies below.  Add water as needed to keep it from sticking.  Throw in about 2-3 teaspoons veggie broth powder.

Put a lid on it and simmer for however long you like.  I simmered it for about 2 hours.  You can serve it over rice if you leave it liquidy-like.  I didn't have any rice on hand so I stirred in about 1 cup of mashed potato to thicken and that worked out quite well. Picture of the mixture in the frying pan is how it looked before I added the mashed potato. Picture below has the mashed potato in it.

4 carrots
3 beets
1 zucchini
2 potatoes
1/2 cup diced green cabbage
2-3 teaspoons veggie broth powder
water as needed




This is a recipe that might do well with the slow cooker.  The initial softening of vegetables whilst you chop you have to do regardless  - the bonus of course would be not having to worry about it sticking whilst it is simmering for the next 2 hours. I was just reading the introduction to 125 best vegetarian recipes for a slow cooker so I'm now thinking how I can incorporate my recipes to such. I was reading it aloud at the park to my daughter whilst my grandson was playing on the slide and one part made me laugh.  I said "listen to this" -- over 25 million slow cookers are sold every year world wide.  And my daughter said "and there are only 50 actually being used"!  We continued to peruse the recipes and have plans to try some soon as they all sounded delicious and doable.  I'll post our favorites on here as we try them out.  That might take a while though so I would advise that in the meantime you beg, borrow (it is available through the Edmonton Public Library) or buy the book: 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson.  I was lucky enough to find a pristine copy (for only $2.99) at my local Goodwill Store.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes - take 2!


I've made these cupcakes too many times to count but I love them because they are very forgiving and still usually turn out no matter what you may or may not change. I barely had 1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour left in my cannister so I had to add 1/4 cup oat flour.  I'm thinking I just might do this on purpose next time as it seemed to make it a little bit denser and "fudgier" which I liked! I used 3 tbsp. olive oil + 2 tbsp. applesauce instead of 3 tbsp. canola oil + 3 tbsp. of pureed baby prunes and 1 cup of soy milk instead of the cold water.  I'm surprised how neutral olive oil can taste in so many recipes. I threw in an extra tablespoon of  Cuisine Camino cocoa powder (5 tablespoons instead of 4 and still included 1 tbsp. of decaff instant organic coffee).  I'm thinking that the strong flavor of cocoa possibly works well to neutralize the olive oil flavor in this case.

For the crowning glory  I whipped up a batch of quick "lemon" icing -- squeezed some fresh lemon, 3 tablespoons of earth balance (whipped organic) and of course powdered sugar.  Whipped organic margarine on it's own doesn't seem to produce a super stiff icing but firm enough that it doesn't run off the cupcake. Ideal mixture for those days you don't want to pull out the decorator and/or need an Eiffel Tower size topping!  Not that I don't love cupcakes that are top heavy - I surely do. My grandson LOVES icing and in fact loves it so much that he thought it would make a great hair gel!  I was tidying up my cupcake mess when he came running to me "Mema do you like my new hair?" Pictured below is him with his lovely icing hair gel. Needless to say count 1,2,3 and he was floating with his rubber ducky in the tub getting a new do!




He was due for a haircut anyhow but this kinda of speeded it up!  He agreed to the cut - he's used to it as we go from curls to smooth to curls quite often.  Takes him about 3-4 months to get same amount of curls back that were just shaved off!

Back to my cupcakes though -- the final touch was a mini-ginger cookie and last but not least a swirl of  Cuisine Camino chocolate (chips melted with a bit of earth balance margarine and thinned to right consistency with soy milk).  I used the trusty mini plastic bag with tip cut off  for that part. These mini ginger cookies are a real gem that I found at Giant Tiger recently.  They're made in Canada and appear to be made with only vegan ingredients.  Doesn't say vegan on the box but I can read all the ingredients clearly and they are straight forward and nothing weird! Brand name is Hollandia.  A 400 gram tub was only $2.77 the day I bought it.  I'm quite sure that Bulk Barn also carries the exact same cookies as I purchased 100 gm there and ingredients and taste are identical to Hollandia brand.  They charge 66 cents a 100 gm so works out to about same price.