Monday, July 31, 2017

Vegan Month of Food July 2017: Grill It!

(Scroll to end for video & recipe link)

It's a good thing we videoed our MoFo post yesterday considering as I write heavy bands of rain are passing over us thanks to Tropical Storm Emily. Our poor beloveds up in the Tampa/St. Pete area are getting clobbered, here we just have some rain coming through. No big deal, but certainly not conducive to sitting on the beach at the moment. It was a different story yesterday as we grilled and videoed.... this was our view:

I need to spend more time on the beach, I really do
Since we've met here in June, I have written a few other posts, however I've chosen so far not to publish them. Many things have happened in the Keys and in our lives here over the last few weeks, but I'm going to keep the focus on food, at least for now.

Our prompt this month for Vegan MoFo is "grill it!" I saw the prompt and immediately thought "yay!" and then "hmmm....." The "yay" is for obvious reasons (grilling is fun!) the "hmmm" came after because I had recommitted a few weeks ago to fully raw.  The "hmmm...." of it all includes the fact that although we DO have a grill here, we never (and I mean never) use it. It's a nice grill sitting on the deck, fully covered. If you've stayed here, you've seen it, it's a behemoth you cannot miss it... nice chef's grill. But, without fail every time we've made efforts to use it, we get far too much animal company for us to safely complete our efforts. Those little Key deer can smell veggies miles away best as I can tell. So, rather than feel guilty trying to grill food in front of the sweet little faces, we've retired our grilling efforts. It also left me wondering how do I grill, without a grill? Google to the rescue!

I discovered there's plenty of ingenious ways to built impromptu grills from household items, heck I even found a way to make one from a soda can! I enlisted the aid of the other happy vegan, and he built me a grill. If you want to BBQ but don't have one, all you need is a foil pan w/high sides (or a hotel pan) filled with charcoal, wire (we used chicken wire) and a safe flat surface to light the fire and keep the pan level. We did put our food into a small veggie grilling basket, but it probably wasn't necessary. He put our "hobo grill" on our outside fire pit which is really cool made out of the drum of a dryer and filled with re purposed windshield glass. You can see little bits of that in the video, but here's a picture of our hobo grill:

Come On Baby, Light My Fire
Once the actual "ok, we need a grill" issue was solved, I was still left with my "but I'm raw right now" situation. I decided to find a simple recipe using seasonal fruits and veggies, a recipe gentle enough (hopefully) for my system to deal with cooked-wise, and nice enough to say "see how simple grilling vegan style is, and delicious too!" The other happy vegan hears "grill" and immediately wants frankfurters. Field Roast to the rescue! Think it's an issue because breads down here have l-cysteine in them (hair/feathers) well, no biggie.... it's a grill for stinkin' sake.... SKEWER IT! He made island 'dawg skewers with Field Roast Franks, pineapple and Big Pine Key grown starfruit.... look how beautiful:

Oopsie, the ones on the right were a little overdone.
He even made his very own sweet KC style BBQ sauce!
I found a recipe from "Blissful Basil" which sounded suitable enough for all the considerations I had plus I had all the ingredients on hand as well. If you don't know Blissful Basil, I do recommend you check Ashley out, she has a nice blog and some really nice, yet uncomplicated, recipes vegan of course. I chose her grilled romaine & avocado salad w/Caesar style dressing. The original recipe called for hemp seeds as the base for the dressing, but I switched it up to raw cashews as the base, since I had already soaked enough for a different recipe the day before. If you scroll to the end past the video, you'll see a link to her recipe, plus further below in this post are some of my own preferences for changes I would make if I made this again.

See how pretty my stuff was before grilling:

Do you think this picture is upside down?
Romaine before grilling, w/avocado
Mango too!
Key limes are for the mango, they don't get grilled
As a currently fully raw vegan, I'm also generally oil free as well, but for this recipe I did brush a very small amount of oil over the fruits & veggies. Truth be told, the oil did not agree with me and I should've just left it off. The romaine also has salt and pepper sprinkled before grilling. The mango also was brushed with oil... mistake. At least for me it was. You don't need oil, not at all, to grill in my opinion. I'd never put mango on a grill before, but seriously down here they are literally falling off the trees. Avocados are coming into season here now (although this one was store bought, our variety down here are of course called "Florida" avocados, they are larger, have a higher water content and not quite as creamy. None of that matters to me since as you already know, avocados are on the "ick" list for me, but I do eat them from time to time just to keep up the calories and good fats). Key limes are in full swing here now, they go with everything you can imagine, including mango. The mangoes in this picture are a variety known as "golden lippens" they are my new mid-season crush.

The lettuce takes about 2 minutes on each side, the avocado about 4 minutes. The mango took longer, but most likely I won't grill mango again. As you probably already know, grilling fruits caramelizes and intensifies their sugars; it was far too sickly sweet for me. I squeezed Key lime juice over the grilled mango, plus sprinkled it nicely with chipotle chili powder before serving. Ancho would work just as well, but I do like spicy. The chili powder helped balance some of that sweetness for me. 

Anyway, I've rejoined the land of the raw after indulging in this beautiful grilled meal last night. Funny how perceptions change about food.... most people really would not look at this and say "total indulgence" but for me it was and I enjoyed it, you should too, just kick the oil to the curb, you'll thank me.

For the dressing, here is the link: The recipe as written had too much mustard for my taste. Also maybe start with a little less ACV, a bit more garlic and I added a pinch more salt (salt is not an issue for me, I am eating absolutely zero added salts in my food as long as I stay whole food raw). Also, you might be able to tell from the photo on the cover, the dressing wasn't 100% smooth. When I make small amounts in my Vitamix, it doesn't always work perfectly because there's not enough ingredients in the blender to get the blades to do the work they need to as designed. I'd rather work in smaller quantities than waste the food, so for me I'm a-ok with it. It did not have a gritty texture, although it looks like it does.... the cashews were well soaked and drained, that is not an issue at all.

Enough chit chat, here's the video and we'll meet here for August MoFo, same bat time, same bat channel. There may even been a published post or two between now and then....we do have so much to talk about with you!

Thanks for checking us out this month, til next time: go vegan, stay vegan! xo