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


World's Greatest Veggie Burgers 1

Posted on October 30, 2009 by crankycheryl

veggie burgers halloween 002I love to save money on food, and get especially cheap when I’m cooking the common meal at cohousing, where we’re supposed to limit the budget to $3.50 per person.  And with all we have going on this month, there was no way that CrankyGreg and I were up for a big complicated affair for 35 people.

But still, of course we wanted something good and reasonably homemade.  So I pulled out this Joanna Vaught recipe for homemade vegan veggie burgers.  This is the one where what matters is the ratio of one thing to another, and so you can substitute any vegetables, any grain, and whatever flavorings you like as long as you stick with these amounts. One note:  don’t skip the gluten, which is what gives these great texture and keeps them sticking together.

Awesome Veggie Burgers

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a baking sheet and set aside.

stew beets sauerkraut veggie burgers 022Stir together very well until thoroughly combined:

  • ~ 1 1/2 cups baked butternut squash, pureed, and 1/2 c. rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 cups protein: Le Puy lentils (cooked), 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 1/2 cups grain:  cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup oil and a splash of water (liquid)
  • 1 T. Bragg’s, 1 t. chopped garlic (liquid seasoning)
  • 1 t. dried lemon peel,  1/2 t. smoked paprika, 1/2 t. allspice, 1 t. gomasio or sesame seeds

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.  They were great with baked sweet potato fries and a ginger-beet coleslaw for dinner.  But today the last ones were pretty good eaten cold by themselves in the car in between meetings.

Roasted Beets 4

Posted on October 28, 2009 by crankycheryl

stew beets sauerkraut veggie burgers 012Yesterday, Z. and I were walking downtown and he announced, “Mommy, the days when you are frustrated with me are OVER and I’m going up the mountain I’m going to climb the rocks WAY UP HIGH.  But you are the best snuggler in the world and so I’ll stay with you forever.”

Love is complicated, but your root vegetables don’t have to be. Give this a try:

Roasted Beets

  • Small to medium whole beets, skins left on but greens and long roots removed.
  • A tablespoon of olive oil.
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Oil a half-sheet or other rimmed baking pan well.
  3. Place beets on it.  Cover with a second pan.
  4. (Alternately, you could wrap each one individually in foil and place them directly on the top oven rack with a baking sheet on the rack below it to catch the drips.)
  5. Bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until the beets are easily pierced with a fork.

Then you can slice them for salads, or puree them for soup (my friend Dannah just posted on Facebook that the “easiest beet soup in the world” is pureed roasted beets processed with kefir or buttermilk).

beet salad 010I made this salad for lunch today: greens with marinated tofu and the beets, spritzed with rice vinegar and olive oil and sprinkled with gomasio.  What I really wanted was gobs of goat cheese, but I’m back on the Bittman plan, and so righteous tofu it was.

Oh Fine Already 1

Posted on April 04, 2009 by crankycheryl

makimole-001It’s so painful to admit that the love of good food has its downsides.

There I was this week, lumpily trying things on at my favorite thrift shop and grunting my way into a pair of jeans when I realized something had to be done.  It was Time to Put a Plan into Action.  I need clarity and simplicity, but also flexibility, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. No processed sugar.  Maple syrup and honey are fine.  (I’m a kook when it comes to sugar.  Give me an inch, and I’ll eat the whole darn disgusting Costco cupcake.  And maybe part of another.)
  2. Following Mark Bittman’s excellent example, I am going vegan (i.e., no animal products – no dairy, no eggs, etc.) except for one meal a day, at which anything goes – except processed sugar.

I’m on day 3 of the plan and I haven’t murdered anyone yet.  My challenge is to not drive myself crazy with too much food prep while eating a variety of really delicious foods.  I’m looking to Asian flavors in particular, because thousands of years of Buddhism have informed great vegetarian cuisine in that part of the world.  And as I was looking at an avocado there on my counter, I started thinking about a sushi-inspired guacamole, and here’s what I came up with.

Now it’s true this is a pretty healthy little thing here.  But it’s really good, and a super-easy lunch that you can make nearly as quickly as you can make your kid a PB&J (if you’re lucky enough to have a child who still likes PB&J), or a perfectly respectable crowd-pleasing sort of thing to show up with at a potluck.  You could even double the ratio of avocado to make it creamier and a bit more indulgent.

Cheryl’s Maki-mole

Serves 2 or 3 as an appetizer, or 1 hungry person for lunch.

  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 4 oz. tofu (should have been silken, but I only had extra firm in the house – it was fine)
  • 2 t. umeboshi vinegar (you can substitute salt to taste if you must, but really you should just get the umeboshi at City Market or Hannaford or your favorite local Asian market and you can thank me later for this new cool ingredient)
  • 2 t. lime juice
  • 1/2 t. sesame oil
  • 1 t. wasabi paste (or more or less to taste)
  • 1 T. sesame seeds, toasted

Blend the avocado, tofu, vinegar, lime juice, oil and wasabi together very well (an immersion blender works terrifically), sprinkle the sesame seeds on top, and serve with nori-flavored seaweed crackers.

CoHousing Pizzoccheri, or "Mommy, What's That Awful Smell" 2

Posted on February 24, 2009 by crankycheryl

feb-09-032Just before New Year’s, Mark Bittman posted Pizzoccheri, a rustic pasta, cheese, cabbage and potato casserole in his column.  I’ve been ready to make it for one of our co-housing common meals since then, and at last had a chance to a couple of weeks ago.

I basically followed the recipe, and have just a couple of notes to share:

  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find buckwheat pasta, and so used whole wheat egg noodles, which seemed the closest to the right shape and texture.  Except for a gluten-free version for which I used a quinoa pasta.
  • We shredded the napa cabbage too fine, and it probably would have been better coarser … but cooking for 35 sometimes necessitates going for the easiest prep (i.e. the Cuisinart instead of a chef’s knife to dismantle 5 heads of cabbage).
  • After a long and funny discussion with the guy at the cheese counter at our downtown store, I decided to not skimp on the cheese.  $55 worth of Italian fontina later, I was having heart palpitations as I calculated the meal’s cost – but was pretty glad for having done so when I tasted the finished product.
  • Because the dish was rich, rustic and expensive (what with the $55 worth of Fontina and all), I wanted to keep the rest of the meal simple.  We served a romaine salad with fennel, orange, and a lemon dressing on the side, and a mango gelatin (including a vegetarian one) with blood orange marmalade swirled into it for dessert.  Both worked well.
  • The monkeyboys had a 50% acceptance rate on the pasta, 0% on the salad, and 100% on the gelatin.  Just wait until they find out where gelatin comes from …

Breakfast for Bittman 1

Posted on February 08, 2009 by crankycheryl

amaranthI have been a distant but loyal admirer of Mark Bittman for a long time.  I’m loving watching him stroll through Spain with his stunning  companion, I’m always glad to see that Bitten has a new post, and though I don’t own any of his many, many cookbooks, many of The Trusted Food Advisors swear by them.

And now he’s out promoting Food Matters, his book about how we can address obesity and other health issues while reducing carbon emissions AND living more ethically by reducing our consumption of animal products and processed food.

If I were a cartoon character, I’d have cute little hearts for the pupils in my eyes.

What he’s done in his own life is eat only whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit until 6:00 at night, at which point he eats whatever he wants.   He’s lost 35 pounds, but what he’s really talking about these days is what it would mean for all of us to cut down the meat, dairy and eggs – and processed foods – that we eat.   He’s saying not to worry about being vegan or perfect or even consistent 100% of the time, but to make incremental changes that are good for you, and possible to live with.

He worked with a researcher who helped him determine that if every American were to reduce their meat/animal consumption by the equivalent of three fewer cheeseburgers a week it would literally be the environmental equivalent of taking every American SUV off the road.

The point, he says, is that small individual changes will make a huge difference if done on a large scale.

He’s my kind of food saint – a hypocrite who strives for doing well, and isn’t a sanctimonious jerk about it.  I heart Bittman.

As I was listening to the interview last week, I was reminded of what I was eating a few years ago when I decided to try the anti-Candida diet.  (You’ll forgive me for not wanting to relive the food traumas of that time by describing it in too much detail.)  Breakfast was the biggest challenge with all the things that were verboten, until I came up with this really delicious, vegan, gluten-free, relatively high-protein, low-glycemic hot cereal.  You’ll want to bake a couple of extra sweet potatoes the night before so you’ll be able to get this ready in regulation breakfast-prep time.

Amaranth-Sweet Potato Porridge

1 c. amaranth
1/4 t. salt
2 sweet potatoes, baked in their skins, cooled, pureed with 1/4 c. water with immersion blender or food processor
Place the amaranth, salt and 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover, turn heat down to very low, and simmer gently for 20 – 25 minutes, until the tiny grains have expanded and are slightly chewy.  Uncover, stir in the pureed sweet potato and add additional salt to taste.  Remove from heat and serve.  You could add a sprinkle of cinnamon or ginger or cloves if you like, but I prefer it as is with just a splash of soymilk.

Do my kids eat it?  I assure you that you already know the answer.

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