Friday, March 31, 2017

Vegan Month of Food March 2017: Mini MoFo.... STUFFED!

Hi there. These Mini MoFo themes are great. Not only do they keep hope alive that I'll come back to more frequent publishing, but I am enjoying the prompts. This month we were tasked with "stuffed!" I planned on making breakfast items for you, but as you'll see in the video I changed my mind. After the video there are the links to what I used, as well as the main recipe for the pirogi, which I veganized of course.

Let's go to the videotape!

Now that we've got that under our belt, let's see what we actually used:

Caramelized Onions:

Vegan Black Metal Chef method. If you don't have his "Seitanic Spellbook" cookbook, you're nuts, go and get it. For the onions, pull out your crockpot, slice your onions thin, cover with some olive oil, put the cover on the unit, set to low and go to bed. Stir when you wake up, and stir again before they finish. Give them a good solid 12 hours to caramelize. You'll want to kiss Chef for this, trust me. You can make these ahead. Make more than you need, and put them on everything else you make!!

Vegan Farmer's Cheese:

As I mention, I didn't even know what this was, so I googled it. This link provides the recipe I used. I would reduce the lemon juice by half. If you have a nut allergy, I don't see why you can't use sunflower or pumpkin seeds to replace the nuts. I have no suggestions for substituting the tofu on this recipe if you have soy issues. Make this at least 1 day ahead, it becomes more tangy as it sits.

Recipe adapted from The Essential Root Vegetable Cookbook by Sally & Martin Stone

"Russian Potato & Farmer Cheese-filled Pirogi in Sour Cream Dough" VEGAN STYLE FOR SURE!
Yield 70-80 3" cut pirogi

Pastry Dough:
3.5 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan butter
6 tablespoons aquafaba
1 cup vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti brand)
extra aquafaba for sealing/wash


1.5 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled/quartered
3T olive oil
3/4 pound vegan Farmer's cheeze (see link from An Unrefined Vegan above!)
1 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1/2 cup vegan butter (for the topping if desired, this is not for the filling!)

Vegan Farmer's Cheeze:

Use the link above, you need to make this 1 day ahead or more.... I did mine 4 days ahead of time, it was still great!

Make the pirogi as follows:

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder & 1 tsp salt. With your fingers or a pastry cutter work quickly and rub in 1/2 cup vegan butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. In another bowl mix the 6 T aquafaba (I did this part in a stand mixer and whipped the AF for about 4 minutes, you don't have to, just use it straight), then mix in the vegan sour cream until well combined; add this to the flour mixture, and gently combine with your hands til mixed.

When well combined, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and either knead with your hands til smooth or do this in your stand mixer using a dough hook til it's smooth and pliable, adding flour if you need just a bit at a time to prevent sticking (I didn't add any flour). Divide dough in half, make into discs and wrap with cello wrap, chill about 30 minutes or til needed.

To prepare your filling, place your potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water (salt if you want, I didn't). Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and cook til tender. Drain and cool. When potatoes are cool,  mince your already caramelized onions, measure out your Farmer's Cheeze and combine those ingredients in a bowl, with about 1 tsp sea salt, and 1 tsp black pepper (I used a little more pepper). Combine well.

On a floured surface, roll your dough out thin (it will act very elasticy the more you work it, work fast and keep the dough cool) Roll thin! About 1/8" at most. Using a 3" biscuit cutter (use a glass if you don't have one) cut out rounds til your dough is done, I got about 75 of them! Measure out about 1 tsp of filling for each pirogi and place onto each round. Fold the rounds in half, pinch very well closed, and then press with a fork to make a decorate edge (this seals them even better). Place the pirogi on a floured towel. If you're not going to cook them right away, place them on baking trays in a single layer, freeze, then when frozen store them in containers in your freezer.

To cook, bring a large pot of water (salt if desired, I do not) to boil. Add a few pirogi at a time to the water, when they float, cook about 3 minutes, remove with slotted spoon to a platter. Keep warm as you cook the rest. When ready to serve, either use vegan butter, brown gravy, red sauce, or whatever. The original recipe said to saute more onions ... seriously? Plenty here for me, no more onions.

I used the Yup It's Vegan rice paper bac'n recipe, and made some bak'n bits, which I sprinkled over the top with cracked pepper and a little vegan butter.

This recipe is worth making! Here's a few pictures:

As you can see, not all were perfectly round as I worked.
Using a 3" biscuit cutter on the dough works perfectly,
however the dough is quite elastic. This works against us when cutting
but works in our favor when shaping after filling! 
Look at all these beauties!
After ya pinch them, press the edges gently with a fork.
Makes a pretty pirogi and keeps the filling in nicely.

Divine perfection.

Vegan Hand Pies as shown in video:

Recipe adapted from (Pepperidge Farms, can you believe it?)

3T aquafaba
2T flour
1 package (17.3 oz) puff pastry sheets, thawed
4 ounces vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti brand yellow label) softened
2T sugar (I use organic vegan sugar)
1/2 cup chopped vegan chocolate of choice
6 oz minced strawberries (or fruit of choice... wait til mango season!!!!)
3T coarse sugar for sprinkling on top, and more aquafaba
Not bad for first time on a whim! 

Sprinkle work surface with flour, and roll out 1 sheet of pastry. Either using a 3" round cutter, or just cut square to save dough, make 12 individual pieces, equally. Repeat with other sheet.

Stir the Tofutti and sugar in a bowl, stir in chopped chocolate chips or whatever you're using. Brush the edges of the bottom pieces of pastry with the aquafaba, put about 1T of Tofutti mixture in center of each pie, top with about 1 T of diced berries, cover with top piece of pastry, seal tight. Either make a decorative boarder or use a fork and seal again. Place onto parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops with more aquafaba, cut small vent holes in top of each pie, sprinkle with decorative sugar. Bake in preheated oven (I baked at 325 for convection) about 20 minutes, use 350 if non-convection. Bake til golden.


That's a lot of typing.

There it is. Get stuffed, vegan style!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mini MoFo February 2017 - SOMETHING RED!

Hello dear ones. We are in the throes of high season over here, so no video this time. We got a nice Mini MoFo prompt to post "something red." Easy peasy once again.

Valentines Day has come and gone, but I made this as the entree for our guests:

So, those are double chocolate waffles done strawberry shortcake style. I used So Delicious CocoWhip, with organic berries, organic fair trade shaved chocolate; everything about those waffles is organic and fair trade. You can do this too.... choose your own recipe and toppings and get to it.

It's hard to see, but that tiny red bowl is the CUTEST thing going.... I got it at the local thrift, it's hand painted with tiny hearts all through the inside, even signed by the artist on the bottom, from Italy! Fifty cents!

I also made gobs of these:

These are mini bundt cakes using a recipe I think from Minimalist Baker, I used organic ginger ale instead of stout. I dipped each one in my own ganache and sprinkled with red vegan sprinkles. I made the cutest toppers for each cake, but was (as usual) very pressed for time so the best I could do was slap these bad boys into boxes and call it a day. We had a beautiful Valentines breakfast for our guests with heart shaped white chocolate strawberry muffins, Love Potion #9 beverages, pink smoothies, fresh fruit, Valentine cookies for all, and mini cakes. I learned the hard way that these larger sprinkles have a relative low melt point, so never again will I coat my sugar cookies before baking if using the large sprinkles. I'm pretty new to this line of sprinkles (Sweetopolita, on Etsy, she has an entire vegan section). They are really great variety and brightness, but they are no good for the baking situation which is why no pictures of the sugar cookies.

There it is, short and sweet... something red. Vegan for the win as always!

See you soon!


Saturday, January 28, 2017

MiniMoFo "NEW!" .... come on baby, light my fire (cider)

Yay! We have a prompt for January and it's "NEW!" Anything new! We have free reign to do any vegan topic, as long as it's something new to us. Easy peasy!

This time of year keeps us hopping around here. How have you been? We've been doing great, the weather is glorious, the animals are healthy, and overall we are feeling pretty good too. For those participating in "MiniMoFo" themes this year (you know my plans are to hit up every single theme....  so far I've not missed any!) When  I saw the theme "NEW!" I thought about so many possibilities. When push came to shove, I decided on taking a little road trip to our perfect health food store on our tiny island which is called Good Food Conspiracy. You already know all about them because we've done videos, photos, stories, and had so many laughs here together courtesy of Good Food. You also might remember the fact that one of the top 3 reasons I agreed to move to Big Pine "for a year" (ahahhahahahah, a YEAR!) was because of that little store. Good Food has been on the island, in the same location, for well over 30 years at this point. I'm not really sure everyone can grasp how epic that fact is (over 30 years) unless you've spent some time living in the Keys. So many people come and go so quickly down here, and the same can be said for businesses. There's an ebb and flow to living and working in a resort destination such as the Keys, and some people clearly are not cut out for that. For those of us that ARE cut out for that, we have the backbone of our community.... small businesses like Good Food.

About 3 years ago (give or take) sometime after Superstorm Sandy destroyed so much of the East Coast (especially Jersey), and then the fire on the Shore boardwalk (again.... Jersey), a woman named Debbie Quinn came to the Keys to heal from the disaster at the behest of a friend. Debbie is an herbalist, a REAL herbalist. She's also an aromatherapist (her company is Blue Moon Herbals), a REAL aromatherapist. I've never met anyone like Debbie before. I remember the first time I met her too... it was in the garden at Good Food at a New Year's event. There were healers, vendors, merchants, food, music and fun. And Debbie was there with her booth selling some of the most beautiful essential oils I'd ever been privileged to experience. We chatted, I bought things from her for a friend in need of healing, and called it a day. Then I began to see more and more of Debbie at the store. Now she's essentially the resident herbalist at Good Food. Between Debbie and Marney (we've spoken at length about Marney, she's a miracle) we have 2 of the best healers I've ever EVER met in my life, right here practically in my backyard.

One of the most wonderful things that Debbie has brought to Good Food is her recipe for fire cider. Fire cider is a folk remedy for many ails including inflammation, which is my personal nemesis. One day not too long ago, I walked into Good Food on a day they were making many jars of fire cider. I wasn't sure what it was, but as soon as I heard it was made with apple cider vinegar as the base, I was all in.

"Set me up with a shot of that fire cider!"  BOOM, down the hatch!

Ooooo.... little warm tingles all over in just moments!

So, today for "NEW!" we are at the Good Food Conspiracy with Debbie and Meghan (who makes the cider, she's absolutely adorable). Fire cider is no longer new to me, but it probably will be to you, and I honestly can say if you come to the Keys you MUST stop into Good Food and add a shot of fire cider to your order, you will not regret it.

Come, watch and learn.

There ya have it.... my friends from the Good Food Conspiracy making fire cider. That's our "NEW!" for January, and of course we'll be back right here in February for whatever comes next, along with a few random other posts from yours truly in between.

Until next time, get your fire cider on. Now go forth and let your epic vegan side shine!


Friday, December 23, 2016

Mini MoFo! For December... We Have A Prompt!

Have you missed me? Vegan MoFo is doing "Mini MoFo" so looks like from time to time there will be prompts and we can participate if we choose. Of course this is my first "mini" and of course I've waited until 33 minutes before closing time... and we've had weeks on this prompt. Of sure, I knew what I would do, but dang if I know where the entire month of December went.

Let's talk hot chocolate, shall we? That's our prompt. I used to love the stuff, in fact I still do, however I watch my sugar intake (cruel considering my occupations....) but yeah, I watch it. I don't drink it, haven't had it in years, besides since living in this beautiful tropical environment, hot chocolate isn't on my menu. Despite all that, I did reminisce a bit to the thick, dark, steamy hot chocolate of my past, including when I'd spend 6 - 8 hours shoveling snow, taking short breaks to warm up. With hot chocolate.

I found a recipe for Matcha white hot chocolate, what a great combo, so I took a stab at it, and you know what.... it's GREAT! Here's a picture with a couple of my version of holiday cookies, and of course there's a credit to the author of this recipe. Enjoy everyone, and if I don't post again in 2016, I wish you all a happy Solstice, because by the way Solstice is how this happy vegan rolls.


Vegan Matcha White Chocolate Hot Chocolate with So Delicious Coconut Whip, and my version of holiday cookies.

recipe courtesy of:

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Vegan Month of Food 2016 - Day 30 ... Gifts ("something" in a jar)

Today is day number thirty of Vegan Month of Food 2016, our last day for this year. Our prompt today is something like holiday gift giving, vegan food style.... do we or don't we? Here, we do.

Every year for the last few years I have baked and shipped countless vegan food holiday orders around the world. This year I am not. I will be handling things only local (lower Keys), sorry peeps. I will be giving family and some friends a few surprises in the mail, and I'm so happy to show you more of the homespun things I love to do.

I save pretty much any size wide mouth jars for repurposing. These are great for home gift giving. Inspiration lurks everywhere, you can put pretty much anything in a jar and make it look pretty. Popcorn (movie night... Netflix gift certificate, a jar of unpopped popcorn with some tiny bags of nooch and a small of Bragg's or any other topping you'd like to give... perfect!) Unbaked cookies in jar, with directions attached. Bath salts, teas, infused oils, the list is endless (thanks to Pinterest and such). Packaging is what makes the beautiful final touch, your gifts are worth the effort of packaging, and you can still be kind to the environment. I use biodegradable heat seal bags, they will compost in home composters. They look like plastic, but are a wood pulp, a far more Earth friendly choice. I use "Kraft" brown colored food service boxes, which are available to the home cook/baker too. The ones I use are 100% recycled content. I use tulle instead of thin ribbons, which most people will reuse too.... thin ribbon is horrible for the environment. All my swing tags are 100% recycled content, even my heat seal food service bags are recycled content bags. I like the "Kraft" choice because it can be customized for any occasion at all from weddings to graduations to holidays and so forth, plus it's the easiest for recycled content, and also the most budget friendly.

Today I'm showing you what I'm doing in jars this year, along with a few tips. Scroll past the video, you'll find the recipe for the chai hot chocolate and the cornstarch ornaments. Here we go, last MoFo for 2016 video:

(this recipe is readily available on many sites, so there is no credit)

1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup baking soda
3/4 cup water

combine all ingredients in a large pot. Over medium heat, stir until it thickens, about 3 minutes. When it becomes a smooth texture, remove from heat, form into a ball, cover with a damp cloth, and allow to cool to a temperature you can work with (do not cool completely).

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees (reduce heat by 25 for convection)

Place dough on a rolling mat and knead a little bit. Add more cornstarch if it seems too sticky to roll.

Roll the dough on a board dusted with cornstarch to about 1/4".

Use a cookie cutter to cut out your decoration, stamp with lettering, designs, handprints, pawprints or whatever else you want. Poke a small hole at the top of each ornament.

Place gently on parchment covered baking sheet, bake from 30-45 minutes depending on your oven, turning the sheet half way through to get even baking. Keep an eye on your ornaments, they should NOT brown at all. If the edges curl up at all (mine never do) tap back til flat.

Cool, and paint/decorate as desired.

Take note: for anyone who is giving gifts for gluten free people, these ornaments are great, as people with gluten allergies should not even touch gluten. They will love you all the more for thinking of this.

CHAI HOT CHOCOLATE - Adapted from a recipe published by Frontier Natural Foods

2.5 cups powdered non-dairy milk (I used Native Forest Powdered Coconut Milk)
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (sift before placing into your jar!)
1.5 cups plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (sift before placing into your jar!)
3.5 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp ginger
2 tsp cardamom
1.5 tsp allspice
pinch sea salt

Either layer your ingredients in a jar, or sift everything together and place in a jar. Wrap and tag with directions.

To use: Combine 1/3-1/2 cup mixture into a cup with 1 cup boiling water, stir until well combined. Serve with choice of vegan whipped cream, if desired.

It's been a fun run in 2016 for VeganMoFo. I've enjoyed finding and following many new writers and video people, and we still have so many to go through.

We wish everyone a peaceful holiday season, vegan style.

Peace begins on our plate. Go vegan.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Vegan Month of Food 2016 - Day 29 "Test Run & Fail"

It's day number twenty nine for Month of Food, and I cannot believe it. Where did the time go, for reals. Today we're supposed to bring you our "holiday test run" and "fails" recipes or something along those lines. Fails. I could wax poetic on fails for days and days on end. I think what I'm working on today will be in the "fail" category, but we won't know til tomorrow. More on that in just a moment.

If anyone may be wondering what happened to the preplanned videos I shot, as I had a few in the tank so to speak, they got eaten by the devil that is the computer. Gone. Vanished. So, I've been plugging along on a daily basis mostly. And, for those who also may be wondering about the Key deer, things are improving. You can see my mentions of that occasionally on our Facebook page, and the Key Deer Refuges page offering regular updates (they've just moved to a weekly update, from daily).

A few years ago, I was gifted a beautiful rolling pin for Springerle.  I had no idea what it was for, but to me it was art. I loved it just for it's form, never mind the function. I had always been drawn to them in antique shops by the way, but couldn't believe the pricing. Then a friend gave me that one, and I thought wow, this is amazing.

I never used it.

Last year I finally figured out what Springerle is all about. I wanted to veganize it. My pin had vanished. Things like that happen when you move 4 times in one year (I had a year like that once, I hope you never do, it's awful) or when you move 2000 miles away from what was once home. Thus, I took to begging on the internet to my friends if anyone had a loaner they would let me use. No one had one. Springerle did not happen.

Then, a very special person in my life mailed me a new Springerle pin. I put it in my drawer where I keep the other pins.... I used to "collect' vintage rolling pins, but I donated them to thrifts mostly in my efforts to keep clutter at bay. I kept only those which I use (ok, I do have one that was my grandfathers, but that's a story for another day). The Springerle pin made the cut, and was tucked safely in that drawer.

After reading the history of Springerle, and looking at quite a few traditional recipes, I settled on one to veganize with some additional adjustments to measurements as well. Springerle has to sit for 24 hours before baking, it creates a "step" on the bottom of the cookie or something similar (if done properly) when the cookie dries out during these 24 hours which is also very desired in the finished cookie appearance. I believe my cookies will be a fail. The dough was tough and springy, not what I expected. I rolled them out flat, then used my fancy pin. I cut the cookies with a pizza cutter, and then set them on a sheet which I had dusted with ground whole star anise (seeds were not available anywhere down here that I looked). The house still smells like licorice, I have no problem with that. But, when I went to check on my Springerle to take pictures for you, most of the embossing has been lost. I'm so disappointed. I don't see how these are going to be good at all. These probably are the type of cookies that look very simple, but take a real expert to do properly. My version of Italian Christmas cookies are like that.... the recipe is so basic and simple, but one wrong move in technique and the entire cookie is ruined. It doesn't help at all that I've never even tasted a Springerle either. Anyway, here's my Springerle:

Tomorrow is our last day in Vegan Month of Food for 2016. I'll try not to let you down for the swan song here.


Vegan Month of Food 2016 - Day 28 "Let's Bake"

Note: Sorry this is published in the morning of the next day.... our internet service went on the blink in the middle of me working on this last night. It was out for hours, I gave up.

Let's get to it!

This prompt was made just for me! "They" want to see what we're baking for the holidays. Now, it's just a wee early in the month for me to be full tilt baking in the kitchen, but I DID do some holiday related baking today, and I have some pictures of years past to share. If you ever really want to know what goes on probably in most baker's kitchens during the month of December, I'd say it's a safe bet if you said "chaos."

Up until last year, if you asked me to bake something, it was available for the holidays. Nothing was off limits (as long as it was vegan), my entire inventory was always available. This resulted in tons of orders, sure, but unfortunately many different things. I've been known to pull all nighters baking, and it is NO fun. Last year I moved into a different mindset, I streamlined. I still had an enormous amount of work as a result, but it was better. This year, I'm even more streamlined, and I am not taking orders for shipping. It is just too overwhelming, you know the story.... be careful what you wish for. Especially if you're a specialty vegan baker. They say beware the Ides of March????? No one EVER mentions December. Hm.

Without further chit chat, here's some stuff I've baked today, some stuff I've baked in the past, and a general idea of what goes on around here to bring the goods to the vegan community for the holidays.

Vegan Gingerbread People
Many of them
This is my idea of how cookies should look every December
Many of them
Gluten Free Organic Vegan
I do like these. A lot.

Vegan Macaroons with cacao nibs
With beet added to make them extra festive
Many of them
I do these at Valentine's as well

More of my version of iced Christmas cookies

Many cookies
I don't give my own platters as much attention as I should
Here's some Solstice cookies I made for someone else's Solstice party a few years ago
I think these were lemon lavender, I forget
Many of them. Trays and trays and trays of these
Moon shaped

I observe the Winter Solstice
Unfortunately the last few years I don't have time to do things the way I really want
This was a rushed Yule Log, but so delicious
Chocolate Sponge
Whipped Cream
Dusted with cocoa
Fondant 'shrooms
Of course vegan
I was gifted a recipe by a NY Kosher bakery for rugelach
I veganized it
I only do chocolate
These are something I wish I everyone could taste
They are drops of Heaven

Italian Christmas Cookies--veganized!
I made these today, and will be making MANY
of these for the season
One of my prize recipes
Organic anise
Of course vegan down to the sprinkles
These cookies took A LOT of trial and error to perfect
They're awesome

At 4am-ish, things get a little skewed in the kitchen
A few years ago on a night I had no customers I worked all night in the kitchen filling orders
I had a little leftover icing
I made Vegan Black Metal Chef cookies
What did you THINK they'd look like produced at 4am-ish?
Maybe I should've saved this picture for "fail" day?
Sweet Taralli
Traditional Taralli

My version of veganized
black and white biscotti
Every holiday season!

I made veganized cookie ornaments

These are veganized Polish Kolacky
My version is Gluten Free 
Key deer really do know how to fly

Coconut Mango Biscotti
All summer long I buy and dehydrate local mangoes
just for these cookies and macaroons

Last year, I finally perfected mom's Hermit cookies
using aquafaba
I have dozens of bins like this every holiday season
at the ready for shipping
Not this year though. I'm taking a little break.
Last year, during another all night bake fest, I pressed thousands of vegan spritz style cookies, bagged them up, and headed down to Key West dressed up foolishly in a tutu, and sparkly stuff. I had two friends with me. We walked up and down the streets of Key West handing out bags of free vegan cookies to people. We also stopped at a local soup kitchen where I dropped off dozens of mini-bundt cakes, and we walked around talking to the people there while we handed out cookies too. It was the second year I've done that, the year before I took the other happy vegan with me. I have to say the soup kitchen was pretty well received, however I'm not sure what other people we met thought of our randomness. Key West usually is known for it's "anything goes" attitude, but there were some questionable moments during the hours of passing out vegan cookies to anyone and everyone. 

That chubby dude in the red suit showed up everywhere
I sure hope my friends don't mind this picture...
my friend on the left is "Jen #2" on the far right is Julie
I'm in the pink tutu.
The guy in the red suit approved of the spritz.
By the way, it was about 80 degrees the day we were doing this...
major props to Mr. Chunky in the suit

Ho ho ho, plant style!