Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fresh Collard Wraps

A couple months ago my friend Liz made some raw collard wraps which I really enjoyed.  I had only made steamed collard rolls before, so I was a little reserved about using it raw.  When I was on my way home from San Francisco this month, we stopped by Green Go's in Redding and I got a collard wrap with veggies and tofu with a sweet pepper sauce.  It was a great reminder about eating raw collards so I decided to make my own when I got back home.

Almost-Raw Collard Wraps

4 Collard Leaves
2 Carrots, shredded
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced long
1/4 Red Onion, sliced long
1 Avocado, sliced
1/2 cup Hummus

Cut the large middle stem from the collard leaf so you will have two pieces of the green.  Each side will provide a separate roll.  About the middle of the collard half, spread out the hummus.  Add a few slices of the bell pepper, onion, avocado and about 2 Tb of shredded carrot.  Roll one side over the insides and continue rolling the leaf until the insides are fully contained.  Repeat this with the rest of the collard leaves.  Makes 8 rolls.

*Use a raw hummus or spread of choice if you would like this to be 100% raw.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Report back from Yosemite

Last week I went on vacation to Yosemite and San Francisco.  I had tons of fun!  I ate some great vegan food at a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant called Andy Nguyen's.  I love camping food so I got to eat lots of sandwiches, kabobs, veggie burgers and even nachos.  Here are some pictures from my Yosemite and Mono Lake visits.  

I think this photo is hilarious!  There were numerous little forest squirrels and chipmunks in Yosemite.  On one grueling uphill hike to Vernal Falls (it was mostly hard since I had been hiking for days) squirrels were posing all over for me.  It was nice to break for the uphill trek to capture their poses. 

This photo I took while eating lunch at a stream just past one of the famous waterfalls in Yosemite Valley.  It was such a tranquil spot to stop and take a break from the crowds, which luckily weren't too bad.

This is Half Dome from a distance.  With binoculars you could see what looks like little ants climbing up the mountain.  We didn't have time to attempt this.  Ha!  Like I would try.  My friend Deanna would have loved to, but hiking as much as we did was enough for me.

Most people spend most of their time in Yosemite valley where all the picturesque waterfall photos are taken.  The rest of Yosemite is quite beautiful as well.  The east side of Yosemite had many amazing mountain sights.

Mono Lake!  Wow, what a place!  I describe it as a photographer's dream.  This was all of our favorite place on the vacation.  The tufas (calcite rock) in the lake are so mesmerizing and reading about the unique ecosystem to the lake was fascinating.  

The weather was perfect for reflections on the lake.  It was hard to see where the lake ended and the sky began.  I couldn't stop taking photos of all the tufa formations, along with the clouds and blue skies.

Beautiful!  Can you ask for any more than tufas and mountains and clouds reflecting in the water?  Visiting Mono Lake is an absolute must!

Swallows and lizards could often be seen at Mono Lake.  We also saw a pair of osprey who may have had a nest on top of a tufa in the lake.  This little swallow was allowing me to get closer and closer to get the perfect shot.

I refer to these flowers as death flowers since they grow from decay.  They are actually called snow plants.  These were pointed out to me to take some photos since they are so unique and only bloom between May-July at certain altitudes.  We had just stopped to join the side of the road commotion of taking photos of a bear.  I got to see a bear!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Coconut Cloud Cupcakes

I went to a friend's wedding on Sunday and it was beautiful! The decorations were hand-made and so creative! On the tables there were magnets made from old scrabble tiles with pretty designs on them for the guests to take home. The centerpiece were white puffs that looked so cute! The cupcakes were displayed on color-coordinated and decorated tiers. I felt privileged to have my cupcakes among them. My friend is not vegan, but she is super vegan friendly and wanted me to bring vegan cupcakes and food for people to enjoy. When I was there I was worried she just asked me to bring the food so I would have something to eat, but then people started to come up to me asking for my Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Spread which I brought with marinated tofu, veggies and bread.

I was super excited for these cupcakes since I had never baked with coconut milk before and found that it allowed the margarine to mix better with the other ingredients and the cupcakes turned out ever more moist and soft than usual! I will definitely be using the coconut milk in my baking again.

Coconut Cloud Cupcakes

Vanilla Cake:
½ cup Soy Margarine
1 ½ cups Organic Raw Sugar
½ cup Silken Tofu
1 ½ cups Coconut Milk
2 tsp Vanilla
2 ½ cups Unbleached White Flour
1 Tb Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt

Coconut Frosting:
1/3 cup Margarine
2 cups Powdered Sugar
½ cup Shredded Coconut
2-5 Tb. Coconut Milk

Cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth.  Add the vanilla and blend, then the tofu and blend some more.  Pour in the coconut milk and blend until incorporated.  Add the flour, baking power and salt and blend until just mixed in.  Fill greased muffin tins, or cupcake cups about 2/3 full with batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  When cupcakes are done, the top should spring back when lightly touched.  

Frosting: Blend the powdered sugar and margarine together.  Add coconut milk, a little at a time, until you reach the desired texture.  Add in the shredded coconut.  When frosting the cupcakes, dip the frosted top in more shredded coconut.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Playing with Rhubarb

One of my co-workers brought in a lot of rhubarb from his garden for people to take home. I don't know if I've had rhubarb as an adult, so I was excited to grab myself a good amount of it to make a pie. I was going to a potluck that weekend as a part of Try Vegan PDX, so I decided to share. I had no idea if the pie worked out until I tried it and I loved it! I will definitely be playing with rhubarb some more. Often times there are people at the potluck who are gluten free, and I have another friend who is soy and cane sugar free as well, so I ended up making two pies.

Rhuberry Pie

2 cups Unbleached White Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Margarine
8-10 Tb Ice Water

3 cups Rhubarb, cut
1 cups Strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup Unbleached White Flour
1 Tb Lemon Juice
1 cup Unrefined Cane Sugar

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the margarine with a pastry cutter to pea sized pieces. Slowly add the water a tablespoon at a time to the desired consistency. The dough should not be sticky, but it should also hold together in a ball. Divide the dough so one ball is 2/3 of the dough and the other is 1/3 of the dough.

Roll out the 2/3 part dough to be a bit larger than a 9-inch pie pan. When the dough is placed in the pie pan, it should slightly hand off the sides.

For the filling, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Place the filling inside the pastry crust and set aside. Roll out the reserved dough to a circle just a little larger than the circumference of the pie pan. Place carefully over the pie filling and side. Combine the top and bottom crusts with your fingers and design as desired, or just leave plain. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.

Gluten Free, Soy Free and Sugar Free Rhuberry Pie

The insides of this pie were good, except it needed a little more thickener which I have already added to the recipe for you. the crust held the pie fine, but it was a bit tough and wanted to stick to the pie pan. I would recommend greasing the pie pan well.

For the dough, I used 1 1/4 cups Sweet White Rice Flour, 1/4 cup Organic Coconut Flour and 1/2 cup Tapioca Flour instead of the flour. I also used Spectrum Shortening instead of margarine so it would be soy free. The directions are mostly the same for the dough except that I used wax paper to roll out the dough.

For the filling, instead of sugar I used 2/3 cup Agave Nectar and Tapioca Flour instead of white flour. The dough pieces was harder to form together but it worked out fine.