My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Archive for the ‘Vegan’

Why Not a Savory Smoothie? 3

Posted on July 21, 2010 by crankycheryl

I like the nutrition and transportability of a breakfast smoothie, but I don’t always want something sweet first thing in the morning.  I started making these during the heatwave a couple of weeks ago, and have been pretty breakfast-happy with them.   They’re healthy, creamy and tart, and have enough protein to keep me reasonably satisfied until lunchtime.  Plus not having fruit or sweet things in them means that the boys never, ever abscond with my cup.

Savory Super-Green Smoothie
Makes 1

  • 1 c. plain lowfat dairy or soy yogurt
  • 1/4 c. soy milk, whey from yogurt, or milk
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • handful of spinach or lettuce
  • 1 T. tahini
  • 1/2 t. spirulina powder
  • 1 T. green olives or your favorite salsa
  • 3 or 4 ice cubes

Stir, blend & repeat until nice & smooth.

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Extra-Beautiful Summer Rolls 4

Posted on July 19, 2010 by crankycheryl

One day I’m going to give away my last super-easy recipe and you Crankies are going to realize that I’m not actually a terribly good cook, just one who’s willing to be adventurous with ingredients.

But I’ll risk coming one step closer to that moment by delivering the promised recipe for Summer Rolls with Edible Flowers that was featured in my Beautiful, Edible Blossoms workshop at Red Wagon Plants.

This is probably my favorite no-cook meal.  It feels like you’ve actually made something, but you haven’t worked too hard – and you don’t have to heat anything for it unless you want to.   You can decide what to put in them by what’s in your refrigerator – combine a protein (marinated tofu, leftover chicken, etc.) on a bed of something mild (lettuce, bean thread noodles, shredded carrots), a dash of something strongly flavored like fish sauce or umeboshi or tamari, all rolled up in the rice paper wrapper and you’re done.  Adding in edible flowers makes them beautiful enough to serve to Fancy Company, should you be in the mood for that.

The recipe below suggests using all pale ingredients for the filling so that the flowers are especially visible, but – as always – you should feel free to make ’em with what you’ve got.

Beautiful Summer Rolls
makes 8 (enough for a snack for 4)

  • 8 rice paper wrappers, soaked one at a time for about 15 seconds in cold water, just before you’re ready to make them
  • 4 cups bean thread noodles soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and then drained, and cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 cup thinly sliced light green lettuce
  • 1 cup diced marinated extra firm tofu, seitan, diced cold chicken, or other protein
  • 8 leaves cilantro or basil
  • ~1 T. fish sauce (or substitute lime juice or umeboshi vinegar or tamari)
  • 8 edible flowers (these pictured are with nasturtiums and violas, and if you don’t have access to any you can use some red leaf lettuce or anything brightly colored that you want to see)
  • sweet chili sauce, peanut sauce, fish sauce, or one of the traditional sauces on this page for dipping

Make by placing one soaked wrapper in front of you on a plate or cutting board.  Place about 1/2 cup noodles and lettuce, basil or cilantro and cubed tofu in a line on the wrapper. Drizzle over just a little bit of fish sauce or whatever you’re using.

Fold one edge over the filling, tucking the filling in so that you can roll tightly.   Place the flower to one side of the filling.

Tuck in the other sides, roll the wrapper, which will stick to itself, while using your fingers to compress the filling so it can be rolled fairly neatly.  Cover with a damp towel until the others are done, then serve with your preferred dip.

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Three Things to do with Lamb’s Quarters 5

Posted on June 05, 2010 by crankycheryl

“Why on earth,” my friend wants to know, “would you eat lamb’s quarters when there’s good fresh spinach in the garden?”

It’s a decent question.  Why do I compulsively seek out weeds to eat when we’ve got good cultivated foods right at hand?

There’s the thriftiness factor, with the undeniable appeal of free food.  And there’s a very pleasant satisfaction in finding food where others look out and see a wild patch of mess.   I love the unpredictability of what grows on its own, how I have to hunt for this thing that’s beyond my control.  Where I’m attempting to make a garden that conforms to some sense of order and productivity, these wild edibles are on their own trajectory.  It’s not up to me to protect them from pests or be obliged to extend their season of growing.  They come, they go, I find and use them or I don’t.

There’s some kind of lesson about gratitude and grace in this.

Here are some of the things that I do with them:

  • Chop and saute them with some fresh garlic and oregano, then add to ground grass-fed beef with crumbled feta for delicious Greek-flavored burgers.

  • Chop, blanch, and pack into ice cube trays for easy-portioned greens to add to soup, sautees, pasta, or whatever you like.

  • Cook up with some quartered new potatoes and eggs or tofu for a great breakfast (lunch, dinner, snack).

Also in season right now: wild grape leaves, which I’ll share a recipe for this week.

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Rhubarb Cake & 5-Minute Apple Pie Ice Cream 0

Posted on May 19, 2010 by crankycheryl

Why am I making sweets during a week that includes Restaurant Week, a foodie tour with a food-blogger who just moved to the area, AND our elementary school’s biggest sugarfest of the year?  Just no self-control around here at all, I tell you.

Still, the freezer clean-out continues while the local farmers are showing up with great fresh food and what’s a food-loving mom to do?

So it was 5-Minute Ice Cream with:

  • 12 oz. apple pie filling from the freezer (you could freeze your own if there’s none lurking in yours)
  • 2/3 c. soy milk
  • 2 T. maple syrup

And it was Rhubarb Coffee Cake from the FarmPlate blog, using Champlain Valley Mill pastry flour, and olive oil for all but 3 T. of the butter.  (That’s Glenn Russell from the Free Press in the background beside E. eating his lunch.   Glenn was over to get a shot of a local food blogger in action.  E. insisted he also get a picture of his 2-hot dog, 3-strawberry lunch – we’ll see what makes the cut.)

And now for more eating.

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Baking Biscuits on a Cool Evening 1

Posted on May 07, 2010 by crankycheryl

It’s a cool night, the boys are sleeping, and the woolly caterpillar living in the bug house on the counter is nibbling on a clover leaf.  Why have I grown so fond of this thing?  Last night I actually found myself baby-talking it as I handed in new greenery.

Things are anyway mellow around here, and it seemed like a good night to start on my goal of using the cool nights to bake and freeze some stand-by favorites to have even when it’s too hot to bake.  I’m aspiring  to have a few dozen muffins, a big old batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, maybe a banana bread or two on hand.

Plus these biscuits, which are vegan, mostly whole grain, and a big favorite of E.’s.  With a kid like him, it’s nice to have a few argument-proof things in the freezer to throw on the table with some fruit and milk when whatever thing I’ve made for dinner is the cause of consternation.

Flax-Butternut Squash Drop Biscuits
Makes 24

Preheat oven to 475.

Whisk together:

  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2/3 c. white flour
  • 2 T. ground flax seed
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt

In a separate small bowl, whisk together well:

  • 1/4 c. pumpkin or butternut squash puree
  • 2/3 c. soy milk (or regular milk)
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil

Add the liquid ingredient mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined – it will still be sticky.  Use two spoons to form walnut-sized balls and place on a baking sheet about 1 1/2″ apart.

Bake 8 – 11 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.  Cool and serve, or freeze.

While mine cool, I’m headed out for more fresh clover for our little pet.

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Curses! Greek Veggie Burgers 4

Posted on May 05, 2010 by crankycheryl

I don’t know what is happening to me, but I seem to be turning into Cursing Mommy.

We were coming home from Costco the other day, merging onto the highway.  There were three cars driving in our direction, and two of them merged into the passing lane so we could merge in.   I started to get up to speed and steer into the right-hand lane, but saw that car #3 had not yielded.  This is clearly annoying, but really not an unexpectedly big deal, right?

So what happened next is a little confusing.  A word came out of my mouth that I didn’t really know was in my vocabulary, a word so far beyond polite conversation that I can’t write it here.  It was a word that had Z. in an explosion of delight there in  the backseat:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  What’s a dushbag Mommy?!  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  DUSHBAG, DUSHBAG, DUSHBAG!  Mommy said duuuuuushbag.

Proud I was not.

Clearly I have no excuse for what came out of my mouth as I was reading about the recall of all those children’s products and realized I had given the boys the tainted medicine.  Upset, of course, but was it really necessary to provoke E. to ask:

Son of a what, Mommy?

It’s a good thing I’ve got some nice mellow dinners like this one to get myself on an even keel.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Greek Veggie Burgers
yield: about 12

Puree together in a food processor, leaving it just a bit chunky for texture

  • 1 1/2 cups steamed and drained kale or spinach
  • 1/2 c. chopped sauteed mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or canned chick peas, drained

Place spinach mixture in bowl and stir in:

  • 1 1/2 cups bulgur wheat (3/4 c. dry, soaked in 1 1/4 c. boiling water for 30 minutes)
  • 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 T. tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg’s
  • 1 t. chopped garlic
  • 1 t. dried lemon peel
  • 1 t. chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 t. dried

Form into patties, then place on baking sheet (give a little space around each, but they won’t expand like baked goods so don’t worry too much).  Bake for 25 minutes, then carefully flip with a spatula and bake for 20 more, until nicely browned.  Serve in whatever burger-y way you like.

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Rhubarb Baklava for CoHousing 2

Posted on April 30, 2010 by crankycheryl

What I probably should have made was strudel.   Sticky soft things do not go into baklava.  Nutty, crunchy, crumbly, sweet: yes.  Gooey and tart: no.

But today it was my turn to make the meal for our cohousing neighbors and I found myself stunned with spring sunshine and a taste for fresh food.  There was dessert to consider.  What if I made something with rhubarb?  But not a cake, and I didn’t feel like custard, and I wanted something to go with the Greek veggie burgers I was making.   Baklava is actually so easy to make, and why not with rhubarb?  Why not maple?

One of the great things about living in cohousing is that my neighbors tend to be an adventurous sort.  There are hard things too, of course, because we’re a feisty and passionate bunch.  But we’re very, very good at eating food around here, at trying new things, especially when they’re sweetened.  So why not rhubarb baklava?  I couldn’t think of a good reason.

Rhubarb Baklava
about 40 gooey pieces

Defrost 1 box of phyllo dough according to package directions.

Place in a heavy pot, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until very soft:

  • 2 lbs. rhubarb, chopped into 3/4″ pieces
  • 2 cups maple syrup

Strain the rhubarb very well, saving the liquid.

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together in a medium bowl and place aside:

  • 6 C. chopped walnuts
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1 t. of ground cinnamon

Pour into a small bowl:

  • 1/2 c. olive oil

Have a pastry brush ready.

Oil the bottom and sides of a large baking pan, at least 10 x 15. Place a sheet of phyllo in the pan and brush with a little oil.   Allow any overlap to hang out the sides. Repeat until there are 4 sheets on the bottom.

Spread one half the nut mixture across the phyllo, then repeat the layers of phyllo and oil until 8 more sheets are on the top.  Spoon the drained rhubarb on the top, then cover with 4 layers of phyllo and oil.  Spread the remaining nut mixture, and then place the remaining sheets of phyllo on top with olive oil brushed between.  Do not oil the top sheet.

Score the pastry in pieces using a razor blade, and follow up with a sharp knife, cutting all the way through. To make triangles: cut the pastry into squares, then, cut squares in half diagonally to make triangles.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden.  While it’s baking, heat the reserved syrup.

As soon as the baklava comes out of the oven, pour 2 cups of the hot syrup carefully over the entire pan.  It will crackle as it absorbs.  This is one of the most exciting parts of making the whole thing so be sure to take a moment for a satisfied grin.  But don’t burn yourself.

Allow the baklava to cool thoroughly and absorb the syrup before serving (at least 3-4 hours).  It’ll be a little goopy, but neither you nor your eaters will mind.

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Fennel-Tomato-Orange Relish 0

Posted on April 21, 2010 by crankycheryl

Now I have a four-year old whose favorite word is, “stupid.”   He’s discovered its versatility, with applications like,

“I can’t have a second dessert today?  I don’t want to be part of this stupid family any more.”

“My face got wet.  This swim class is 10 amounts of STUPID!”

“My [child-centered, loving, hippy-dippy, filled-with-friends] pre-school is stupid and I’M NOT GOING.”

It’s a joy and a half, I tell you.

But still it’s spring and it’s beautiful and I crept outside this afternoon to do some gardening and before I knew it both boys had found their way out with me to dig in the dirt and water plants.  And then we spied a new neighbor’s little boy around their age and in a flash they had all armed themselves with plastic guns and were climbing the dirt pile and refusing to come in when the rain started.  It felt like childhood.

And while this was going on I was working on a clean-out-the-crisper effort, and turned some random bits of of this and that into a fully respectable and totally delicious relish.  We had it with some mashed potatoes and lamb chops I had found in the freezer and defrosted, but it would be great with some sauteed tofu, or spread on a wrap with some brie or prosciutto, or with some eggs for breakfast.

Do consider yourself warned:  it is far too stupid for ornery four-year-olds.

Fennel-Tomato-Orange Relish
Makes about 2 cups

In a large skillet heat:

  • 3 T. olive oil until rippling


  • 1 large onion cut into 3/4″ dice
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, white parts cut crosswise and then diced into 3/4″ pieces

Cook over medium-low heat until transparent, then add:

  • 2 diced plum tomatoes
  • 1 organic orange with its peel, cut into 1/2″ dice 
  • 1 organic lemon with its peel, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • finely chopped fronds from the fennel

Cook for about 10 minutes at a light bubbling simmer, then cover and cook for 30 minutes more over very low heat.  Stir 2 or 3 times and add a bit more olive oil if it starts to stick too much.  Remove lid and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes more.  Serve warm or cool and use as you like.

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Easy & Tropical End-of-Winter Salad 0

Posted on April 07, 2010 by crankycheryl

Among the 5 or 6 fresh fruits or vegetables that E. will eat are mangoes, which is just a kick in the pants to an aspiring Vermont localvore mom.  But I love them too, so we’ve often got one or two around.

And now, while we’re waiting for those first wonderful local greens of the year, why not throw a couple things together for a salad that’s light and bright and will lend a spark to whatever you serve it with.

This is such an easy little recipe that I keep checking it over to see what I forgot.  It’s all there, but  if you like you could go ahead and add some sliced red onion (I don’t terribly care for its strong flavor with fresh fruit), or some toasted pepitas.  Some goat cheese or manchego wouldn’t hurt.

Easy & Tropical End-of-Winter Salad
Serves 4

Rip into 2″ pieces then rinse and dry:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce

Toss lettuce with:

  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle of kosher salt
  • 2 or 3 grinds of freshly ground pepper
  • sprinkle of cayenne or chili powder (optional)

Cut into large dice:

  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 ripe avocado

Place fruit on top of the lettuce and serve.

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Birthday Lunch for Mom: Squash-Lemongrass Soup 1

Posted on March 23, 2010 by crankycheryl

My mother always seems to be away for her February birthday, which is a pretty sensible reaction to late winter in Vermont, really.

So it was late but at last we got together.  My mom loves Korean food and culture and so I was researching a lunch to build around the kimchi that was newly ready when she left this comment here on the blog:

“I feel faint after seeing your latest post on steamed buns.”

So of course I had to make another round of those, and then since the whole Korean theme was sort of blown, I felt free to improvise a soup to use up our last butternut squash – vaguely inspired by the knowledge that there was such a thing as Korean pumpkin porridge.

It was a nice, nibbly sort of lunch – a couple of the buns, some soup, the kimchi, and then a traditional spinach side dish.  Maybe you too have one last squash from the winter CSA and want to give it a whirl.

Butternut Squash-Lemongrass Soup
4 servings

  • 1 butternut squash, cut in half, seeded, and roasted for 30 minutes at 400
  • 1 – 2 cups mild vegetarian stock (if you’re using storebought, try the “Better than Bouillion” line, which has less of that overly-processed taste than many do)
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • 1 t. lemongrass paste (I’m sorry – I used the stuff in a tube!), or else 1/2 t. lemon zest, 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1 t. chopped ginger
  • salt to taste
  • toasted hulled squash seeds for garnish (you should roast the ones you scooped from the squash for a snack, but they’re a little too coarse for a pleasant topping)

Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop its flesh and 1 c. stock, coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, and a generous pinch of salt in a blender or food processor.  Adjust its thickness with more stock if you wish, and taste for salt.  Heat until just at a simmer and serve topped with the seeds.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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