Friday, July 27, 2012

Salsa Time!

This is my annual entry about tomato harvesting season. It's a re-run of sorts, because I include my recipe for my infamous ass of fire salsa recipe for you to try. It's really good, entered in a couple of salsa contests, and I've lost to a number of questionable salsa-istas that are not as good. I'll say it, I'm biased. Plus, my bowl was empty at the tasting table, so I know others think it's pretty good.

This year was another one for shitty hot weather season with little rain. I had a pretty good haul, and could have had a better one if I had more time and energy to tend to the garden. Oh well, what can I do? Toms love warm weather, but when it gets above 90 degrees, plants tend to shut down and you end up with the whole split fruit scenario, sun scalding, and blossom end rot-(BER). I was lucky enough to not have to deal with that, but I did get some fruit splitting and scalding, which ruins tomatoes.

So I've given some away, made sauce, and oven dried some. I used to think one needed a dehydrator to do that, but seriously, just cut toms into 1/4 inch slices on parchment paper and put on a cookie sheet in the oven at 150 or your lowest setting. Sleep, mop the floor, watch all seasons of Breaking Bad, and boom! You have sun dried quality tomatoes in about 6-9 hours, depending on your oven and how well you sliced your tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes halved make the best sun dried treats.

Pick some tomatoes, or get them at the farmer's market--and make this salsa!

Jewbacca's Ass of Fire Salsa
  • 1-2 lbs of heirloom tomatoes--I really prefer Gold Medal, Big Boy, or Brandywine.
  • 2T of red onion, finely chopped
  • 1T Ms. Dash chipotle flavor
  • 2t lime juice
  • 1T olive oil
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro, less if you want. dried can be used here, but you're just cheating yourself. Seriously, it's 99cents a bunch on the off season.
  • 2 jalapeno or serrano chiles (serrano peppers make this hotter!) de-seeded and de-membraned *in a pinch i've used chopped pickled jalapenos, about 1/4 c. worth
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/4 t chili powder
  • 1/4 t cinnamon-(YES cinnamon)
  • 1 t of dried garlic, or one clove of fresh-finely chopped
  • 1/2 t salt or 1 t of bragg's liquid aminos
  • a few splashes of Frank's or your favorite hot sauce
Wash and chop those 'maters, draining off excess tomato juice. Psst, save the juice for another recipe! Add all other ingredients together and store in the fridge for 3 days. If you have any left after that time, shame on you. No--seriously throw it in the freezer and use it later for Spanish rice or an enchilada casserole.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Raw Revolution Product Review

Appetite still isn't where I want it to be, but I'm eating. My friend Adam was kind enough to send me a care package that included a Raw Revolution Organic Live Food Bar. It was healthy tasting, not something I would eat on a regular basis, but it was a raw food bar and I honestly have yet to find one that tasted so good I would have a foodgasm. Needs more chocolate flavor. So keep trying RR. Your bar doesn't suck, it's just not that awesome. Then again, I'm not a raw foodie.

I've been living on lots of food-in-bar form meals: I'm a huge fan of Luna Bars, so long as I can find one without any non-vegan ingredients. I'm not opposed to eating food that is on shared equipment or contains the obligatory warning of "May have trace ingredients..." because that food product has been made on equipment that shares other equipment with non vegan eats. I mean, at  home I live with two vegetarians and an omnivore so technically, my food gets cooked on shared equipment. Nothing to freak out about.

What's your favorite food-in-bar form meal replacement? Any new ones I should try?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Test Kitchen: Fried Green Tomatoes

I'm still working this recipe for fried green tomatoes. A couple weeks ago, I had a ton of them, and they're still coming in by the bag full! They weren't bad, but they weren't what I imagined them to be. Most of the time, one can fry just about anything and it turns out awesome, but not so with these. I used flax seed as the egg to dredge the slices in and the sticking power lacked. So back to the drawing board. Once I have them just the way I want them, I'll add them to my 2012 MOFO theme. So there, readers--there's a hint for you. Fried green tomatoes, and no I'm not doing a theme on Fannie Flagg.

I'm also messing around with a recipe for a dipping sauce for the tomatoes. It's a base of veganaise, tofutti sour supreme, basil, sun-dried tomato, and regular tomato. I did not photograph it because it looked kind of gross, but it was tasty. It just didn't have the punch I was looking for, so I will also be dinking around with that as well. What sounds better to you, a basil based dipping sauce, or a garlic dill sauce?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Secret to a Perfect Smoothie

During my lack of appetite, I followed the smoothie suggestion by a number of readers. I made a batch last night for dinner and forgot how much I like to make and eat them. I've been told that I need to open my own smoothie cart on the B-line trail, because they're so good. Sheesh.
About smoothie science, they're such no-brainers, right? Wrong. If you don't know your stuff, you can end up with a cup of barf. And I'm not into drinking that stuff. I took these photos as I finished my magical concoction and could kick myself for not thinking of taking one earlier when it was thicker and prettier. Oh well. look at the pictures from an art perspective I guess. Look at the shapes, shades, colors, negative, and positive space. Boo-yah.
I don't measure, I eyeball, and that is my success story for a perfect smoothie. Here's what I threw in the blender. I had enough for 2.5 servings.

I blended it and it was the most amazing color ever. I so love that Biotta juice. Perfect berry punch. Here are some things that will make a smoothie fail, so take heed:

Don't use-
  • Water- duh. Well, DUH.
  • Ice-EVER. I don't trust people who ice their smoothies. They taste like shit. Freeze your fruit or yogurt in an ice cube tray instead. Ice is the killer of good smoothies. Just don't fucking do it.
  • Disproportionate amounts of veggies to fruits, it's a careful balance. Example, I would never use more than a cup of spinach or kale in a smoothie if I did that sort of thing.
  • Too much soy milk, you'll kill the fruit flavor.
  • Too much melon. again, use a 1/3+1/3+1/3 part. Example 2c. kiwi, 2c banana, 2c mango.
Do use-
  • juice-apple works best
  • veggie juice in small amounts: 1/2 c. beet or carrot juice is nice and packs a vitamin punch. I wouldn't use V-8 unless I were doing a savory smoothie.
  • non dairy milk, about twice the amount of your veggie juice blend
  • companion fruits: berry/melon, peach/banana, stone fruit only, berry only, 
  • peanut butter with a berry blend=liquid pb&j...oh so good!
Tell me about your favorite smoothie blend!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dusting Off My Sticky Buns

 So, back when I last wrote, I talked about losing my appetite. Well, fell down hard. Bad enough where it seemed the whole world saw my pannies. I dusted off my buns, I got some help for the loss of appetite and much-much-more, and have been out of commission for the past week resting in a quiet place.  It's been rough, but I found bits of myself and my stomach again. We sent the kids to Columbus, OH to stay with relatives and picked them up yesterday.

So what does all that have to do with the price of tea in China? Well, Pattycake Bakery is just 3.5 miles from our relatives house, so we made a pit stop for some sticky buns before returning to Indiana.
And oh what sticky buns they are! Melt in your mouth deliciousness. The cure all for any drought of appetite. Just look at how deep that frosting goes! Straight to my soul, I tells you. Cinnamon and frosting fixes everything.

Taking the time to take care of myself has been a blessing. Being away made me miss my home cooking, which helped me get my desire to eat back from the basement. Hospitals really need to get on board with vegan eats. Then again, those kinds of places aren't exactly known for their gourmet cuisine.

Thanks to all of you readers for loving me during this rough patch. Your dedication means the world to me.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

It's all I Can Stomach

Here we have a very simple vegan breakfast of tempeh bacon and french toast. Here's the link to my tried and true recipe.

This is a food blog, first and foremost. I've been writing here since 2008 sharing my journey of veganism with you all and showing how it can be fun and a way to truly transform how one connects with food. Veganism has helped me overcome my eating disorder, made me a shit ton of friends and followers, and has just made my overall life better. I try to avoid a bunch of personal stories about my kids, cat, and love for all things True Blood. I want to keep That PITA Vegan about the food.

But that doesn't stop life from being life. Sometimes shit happens. Shit like depression, a pending divorce, and happy crappy like that.

In the past year I've gone through a lot of changes, one being a proposed move back to MI. Well, this didn't work out. I'm getting some help for some things that a vegan lifestyle just can't help and without going into too much detail of my personal life I am asking my dedicated readers to please send me positive vibes and be patient with me while I blog to the best of my ability.

Here's the major problem: I've lost my appetite. Like I don't want to eat much of anything. I haven't wanted to cook, and have lost my joy of many things food. This is troubling to me, but instead of dissecting why I feel this way, I've just simply embraced a philosophy of keeping things a little simple and doing the best I can. What one resists, does persist as they all say in the field of psychology.

Still vegan. No slips or trips. Just don't want to eat. So I'm back to the drawing board, recognizing the red flags, and going to get some extra help. I've been eating a lot of cereal and smoothies. So my posts won't be anything extraordinary for a while. Not that my blog was ever anything amazing, it will just be a little less intense than it usually has. Truth be told, I haven't been my jovial blogging self for a while. I want to get my mojo back before MOFO this year, because I have a really cool theme I'm wanting to do.

So again, be patient, be kind. Send me good vibes.

xo, Jen

Jen's keep-it-simple-stupid tempeh bacon marinade:

  • Ketchup
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Steak Sauce-(check brands for veganness)
  • Bragg's liquid aminos

I just eyeballed everything and whisked together. Cut your tempeh into 1/8 inch thick strips and let it soak in the marinade overnight. I pan fry mine with a little bit of nonstick spray, but you could get a nice crisp by frying in oil. This isn't your typical tempeh bacon, it's just a nice savory marinade that isn't smoky or garlicky. The tempeh from this makes great BLTs.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Curry Me On

EVERYONE and their mother has this dish in their veggie/vegan menu rotation: chickpeas, tomatoes, and potatoes. Some are curried, some are cuminized. Is cuminized even a word? Hell no, but that don't stop me, now does it?

Here's my version I like to call, "Curry Me On". It's not actually curried at all, this has nitter kibbeh and berebere spice in it.

You'll need:

  • 3 large potatoes, chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can water (from tomato soup can)

  • 1/4 t. ginger
  • 1/4 t. cardamom
  • 3 cubes berebere spice* ( I used recipe from Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 heaping T's of nitter kibbeh* (I used recipe from Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian)
  • couple splashes of Bragg's liquid aminos

Saute red onion in nitter kibbeh, then add the berebere cubes until melted. Add your coconut milk, water, tomatoes, tomato soup, and chickpeas. Then add the potatoes. Bring to a rollin' boil, then simmer until potatoes are tender. This is more of a wintery dish, but I made it today because that was what I had on hand for a meal. It is very comforting.