Awhile back I made some homemade rejuvelac. This isn’t an entirely new concept for me; we make it all the time at the raw restaurant where I (sometimes) work. What is rejuvelac? you might be asking. It is a health tonic and fabulous fermented vegan dairy addition made from soaking sprouted grains in water. Traditionally, it’s made from wheat berries, but you can use any sproutable grain, so to keep it gluten-free, I use quinoa. Another advantage to using quinoa is that it sprouts really fast! It depends a bit on the temperature of your home, but mine always sprouts within about 24 hours.
As a beverage, I don’t much care for rejuvelac; many people describe it as “lemony” which I can kind of see, but mostly it tastes a bit sour in a way that’s not terribly pleasant to my palate. Being a probiotic, it is meant to help aid digestion though, so it might be worth a try if you need some help in that department and are sick of kombucha or kefir.
The real reason I love rejuvelac is raw vegan cheese and dairy products! It adds a special depth and tang to your cheeses and sour creams and yogurts and cheesecakes that you can’t get from lemon or apple cider vinegar alone. It also helps the fermentation process along if you’re letting some nut or seed cheese sit out for a day to get nice and complex.
Most recipes for rejuvelac are the same, but also make a rather large amount. Since I don’t drink it and I’m not making large-scale quantities of cheeses or sauces, I’m giving you a “half-sized” recipe. It still yields about a quart if you do two soakings, so feel free to scale it down even more if you like, or just skip the second soak.
makes about 1 quart
1/2 cup quinoa (or other sproutable grain)
filtered or spring water
Rinse quinoa well under water, and place in a quart-sized jar. Cover with water and stir to make sure all the quinoa is getting wet. Cover with a mesh screen or clean cloth and soak for 2-4 hours.
Drain the water off, rinse the sprouts with fresh water, and drain again. Prop the jar on its side with a rolled up towel (or something similar) on top of a surface you don’t mind getting wet (I used a cutting board), to let excess water continue to drain. Place your jar in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Rinse and drain the quinoa every 8-12 hours until the little “tails” begin to sprout off the quinoa. This will usually occur after 2-3 rinse cycles.
Add 2 cups of water to the sprouted quinoa and let them soak for 24 hours. You may see little effervescent bubbles coming up the sides of the glass – this is good! Drain the water off into another jar or container and store in the fridge. You can stop here or do a second soak to make the most of your grains, repeating the 24 hour soak in 2 cups of fresh water. Drain this water and add it to the first batch, discarding or composting the quinoa. This is your rejuvelac! Store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.
So now you’ve got some rejuvelac…what to do with it? I made some tangy lime cashew sour cream because I was heading to a vegan taco party later that week. You can also make this with lemon and skip the zest for a slightly more traditional sour cream.
Lime Sour Cream
makes about 1 cup
2/3 cup cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours
1/2 cup rejuvelac
juice and zest of 1 lime
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
Drain the soak water from the cashews. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth, then store in the fridge to chill and set up. If you like a thinner or more pourable sour cream, add more water or rejuvelac to thin; this mixture will thicken in the fridge.
With my next batch of rejuvelac, I’ll post some more recipes for cheeses and cheesecake and the like. Stay tuned!]]>
Oh, and soup! A spicy beet soup I made in the pressure cooker, then pureed and served with local pea shoots and some simple roasted tofu. It was a lovely, light spring dinner.
Also, because I become a little bit crazy before going on a big trip (we’re soon headed to Arizona for a week of camping and birdwatching), I decided I simply had to make some marmalade with the delightful tangerines we’ve had at work, and also some raw carrot cake I saw posted online. Instead of cleaning and packing and preparing, of course.
The marmalade is pretty straightforward; I use the recipe included in the box of Pomona’s Pectin and do the liquid sweetener route instead of sugar. I also added two scraped vanilla beans and a couple tablespoons of fresh minced ginger and ended up with 12 (!!) half pint jars in the end. (Don’t worry, the jar you see pictured was not canned, since it’s not suitable for that kind of thing… I’m a responsible canner!) I’ve given one away already, but will need to get some more out into the world. Have you ever made marmalade? Do you like it bitter or sweet? I didn’t peel my pixie tangerines because their peels were so thin, and it’s definitely on the bitter end of the spectrum. But I like it! Nice alongside some sweet nut butter on toast, and I bet pretty great on some scones!
Then, while wandering about online thinking about how to use up some goji berries, I stumbled across this recipe for raw carrot cake with a spicy pecan frosting. I tweaked it a little and threw on some blackberries that I picked up from the store today. It’s really dense but not too heavy since the cake portion doesn’t have any nuts in it. Next time I’d add some dried pineapple and currants (I forgot the latter in general) for texture and flavor.
It’s lilac season in Minnesota! I snagged this darling little bunch on my way home from volunteering this morning, and it’s sitting pretty in a spare medicine bottle. It really adds some life to pictures, too. Up next: a recipe for rejuvelac and some lime sour cream (tangy!). Happy spring!]]>
Growing up in a half-truly Swedish family, I have a LOT of food memories involving fruit soups. In Sweden, you can buy cartons of berry and fruit soups, which I always ate with a good pour-over of cream or milk that hugged the thick edges of the thickened, slightly sweet mixture. But my favorite, and the hardest to find here (the powdered versions you can sometimes find at IKEA or other Scandinavian stores just isn’t the same), is nyponsoppa, or rosehip soup.
Rosehips are a magical food in the North: rich in vitamin C, which is important in a climate that can’t support the cultivation of citrus, they are also a source of vitamins A, D, B, E and K, iron, calcium and other nutrients (source). They have a tangy, fruity flavor, and the traditional nyponsoppa usually consists of rosehips, sugar, lemon or citrus, and a thickener like corn- or potatostarch. You can drink it, or eat it with a spoon, and it is often served with milk/cream or yogurt.
I wouldn’t know where to get fresh rosehips around here, but luckily dried rosehips abound at my local natural food stores. I think that one could easily blend the steeped rosehips along with the tea they produce, but for this go I opted to strain them out. I also wanted to play around with the flavor, and do an uncooked version. Strawberries have been on sale at the coop and I thought they would go together really well (they did!). I also used dates to sweeten the soup, and ground chia to both thicken and add a bit of protein.
The result is a slightly sweet, strawberry-kissed and citrusy soup that is thinner than a smoothie but thicker than juice. I think some cashew sour cream would have been amazing with this, but you and I will have to wait on my upcoming rejuvelac post to make that happen. I had a bit of coconut milk that I added, and that was pretty nice. Hope you’re inspired to try this little spin on a Swedish classic.
makes about 2 1/2 cups
1/2 cup dried rosehips
2 cups boiling water
3 dates, pitted
juice of 1/2 lemon
3-4 tablespoons ground chia seeds
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, hulled.
Cover the rosehips with boiling water and steep for 15 minutes. Strain, pressing as much liquid out of the rosehips as possible, and cool slightly. Alternatively you can use the liquid and rosehips together for a stronger flavor. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Let sit a while for the chia to absorb some of the liquid (it won’t change dramatically, but it should thicken slightly). Serve warm or chilled with a dollop of cashew sour cream or a swirl of non-dairy milk.
For some reason, we haven’t been making quinoa as much as we used to. Until this week, that is. Armed with my trusty (and rather large) pressure cooker, no bean nor grain can escape me! I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking large quantities of a certain bean or brown rice or whatnot, and using it throughout the week. Nothing revolutionary, just common sense really…it saves so much time and money (especially not buying canned beans, which are almost all laced with BPA anyhow, and who wants that?). My next goal is to start freezing cooked beans, which my former coworker and pressure-cooker-giver says works quite well. I’m excited to try it, now that I’ve got the means to freeze them.
Also! I have been working on zine recipes, slowly but surely. One recipe is for Whole Grain Manoomin Pancakes, which is my Minnesota local-style recipe. For me that means (in-state) local grain flours, local maple syrup, and locally harvested wild rice, which goes by Manoomin in Ojibwe. I’m still tweaking it and debating between ground raw wild rice or cooked wild rice, but in the end these will be hearty belly-fillers (and it’s maple syrup season so it’s an appropriate time to think about these things. And eat them.). In other breakfast news I riffed on a Sarma Melngailis for a Key Lime Pie Smoothie I’d glanced at in a book at work, using a whole green apple, some avocado, lime juice, banana, vanilla bean, sunflower milk and water. Tart and delightful! I’ll be making it again real soon.
But back to the dish at hand. I was almost certain I’d posted a similar recipe using farro, but it turns out that was just a big grain salad that was featured in our first secret restaurant. Diggin’ on my rediscovered love for the nutty, soft little quinoa pearls, I thought I’d post this version. It’s a light dish, perfect as a side for a cold weather meal, or as a main during warmer months. I served it cold because I used previously cooked quinoa, but you could definitely add the dressing to warm quinoa if you’re not feeling the chilled thing. Flecked with fresh basil, toasted almond slivers, and a cinnamon-kissed orange vinaigrette, this will have your love affair with quinoa reunited too, if you happen to have lost your spark recently.
(As an aside, I ate this with a glass of homemade coconut water kefir mixed with orange juice, which made for a most delightful mocktail! AND on a related but unrelated note, I got this Facebook page thing going for smaller ramblings.)
makes about 4 1/2 cups
4 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced or pressed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
several grinds freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons finely minced onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Place quinoa into a mixing bowl. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet until fragrant and beginning to color. Cool slightly, then add to the quinoa and stir to distribute. Whisk together the vinegar, orange juice, olive oil, orange zest, garlic, salt, pepper and cinnamon and pour over the quinoa and almonds. Mix well to coat. Stir in the minced onion and basil and serve.
I really dig fruits and veggies, as my love for raw foods attests to. But although I do have many examples of raw foods in this post, I don’t think eating them that way is the best idea for a typical Minnesota or northern climate winter. (Our winter has been almost anything but, though, so it feels better eating more than I might.) I have also of late partaken in mashed cauliflower, sauteed or steamed greens (like the quinoa and broccolini pictured), and veggie-ful soups.
When it’s cold and I need some comfort food, it’s easy for me to reach for toast with nut butter or other breadlike things. This year I’m making a concerted effort to remember that even though the selection is more limited during colder months, I still have to eat my more colorful choices from the food world. I’ve been trying to stick with smoothies more often than not, including Ani Phyo’s Goji Berry-Lime Smoothie from her Raw Food Essentials book. In the winter I tend to add more fats to my smoothies, like avocado, coconut oil or chia seeds. This helps make them more filling and keep me hydrated from the inside out, which is important for me when the air is very dry.
While I still eat a lot of regular green salads, I’ve also been trying to keep things interesting by making different kinds of veggie salads, like Spicy Radish Slaw, which will be in the next zine. It’s a simple slaw of shredded radishes with cilantro, serrano chilies, lime juice and a couple spices, and it’s tasty on its own or alongside Mexican-style food (personally, I ate it with quinoa, black beans, and Pineapple-Ginger Salsa [pictured in this post]!).
Another way to get more fruit in is to eat some with breakfast, which I treat as a lighter meal anyhow, generally speaking (my body is just not that hungry for much in the morning). Also from Ani Phyo was this morning’s breakfast: Apple-Nut Porridge, which is grain free because it’s made from - you guessed it – apples and nuts processed together into a thick, porridge-like texture. It’s super tasty! Light and flavorful, with some body from almonds (my choice) and flaxseed. Perfect for a lady who knows she should eat something with a touch of protein, but doesn’t want to bother cooking stuff on the stove.
What do you do to keep up your fruit and veggie intake during the colder seasons?]]>
Thanks so much for all your kind words on my last post – it really made my day(s) to feel an outpouring of love for this little project. And speaking of project, how could I even think of giving this blog up, when I just went through my photo files and rediscovered all these “lost” recipes I had been planning for my next zine? I included a random smattering above, lots of it summer-influenced, which is making me excited for the warmer seasons ahead. And hungry. Pretty hungry.
I say zine, but it would of course be super awesome to one day get to publish a cookbook with pictures and all that. I do, however, appreciate the handmade aspect of a zine, which is the major reason I don’t see myself ever making any e-books. Maybe I’ll include a little photo insert page with the zine. I like having a tangible, personal creation…my dilemma when it comes to “making it” in an internet-driven world big on social media and digital files. I’m also somewhat reluctantly working on making a Facebook page for the blog for the times when I want to blabber on a bit without actually posting an entry. I think it will help keep me motivated to blog, and reduce the amount of food-related obsession I subject my friends to with my personal account (it appears I make people hungry). I’ll let you know here when you can get to “liking” it (ugh, I hate saying that).
I will also, of course, keep you updated on when I’m ready for testers. I need to flesh some things out and get organized, as I’d like to have most or all of the recipes I’m thinking about before I start asking for help. It’s been awhile since the first zine, and this time I’m really feeling good about owning this project and seeing it through. Making things and sharing them is my biggest motivator in life. So I’m going to start making, and then I’m going to start sharing. Hooray!]]>
After a good, long break and a few discussions, I decided I wasn’t ready to abandon this blog after all. I want to work on some changes, that’s for sure, but mostly this is a good outlet for me in a way that not having a blog isn’t.
For one, it’s a great way to document little-big events I’ve been part of. Like this (vegan) brunch fundraiser I did yesterday. We made so much food! Savory Tomato-Rosemary Scones (from Vegan Brunch), blueberry muffins, carrot-pecan-coconut-pear muffins, curried and Italian-spiced tofu scrambles, roasted root veggies, coconut milk teff pancakes (based on a this recipe, only subbing coconut milk for the juice and adding a bit of agave), straight-up vegan pancakes, Costa Rican-style beans and rice with Red Chili Sauce and Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (all from Viva Vegan!). And coffee, tea and mimosas of course!
I like to make food that I like to eat, but I realize I have some pretty different taste buds from years of not eating a lot of animal products and getting into more wholesome foods, so it’s pretty awesome to get compliments from a big group of people who aren’t vegan. So much so that I’m plotting a little recurring food event project that I’ll be sure to document as it happens.
And when I’m not cooking for a bunch of people? Mostly I’m making smoothies, revisiting my cookbook and e-book collection for new ideas and flavors, and replacing coffee with Dandy Blend. It’s so great, because you can make instant hot or cold “coffee” and use it to make delightful shakes. I don’t think you’re going to fool anyone into thinking it’s “real” coffee, but it has a satisfying boldness that is stronger than tea and it doesn’t give me stomachaches and headaches like coffee has been doing lately. I have the most gigantic bag of it; it should last me a good while.
While I’ve got some revamping ideas and some other things in mind, I definitely would love some input from any readers about what kind of content you’d like to see here. As much as this is for my whims and interests, I know I wouldn’t write it without an audience in mind. So requests, recommendations, and ideas are welcome. Leave a comment. Send an email. I’m totally into it.]]>
I haven’t done a lot of cookbook reviews (particularly solicited ones), but I’m pretty excited about Christy Morgan’s cookbook Blissful Bites. It seems like it’s everywhere lately, so it’s probably not even that new to you, but if by chance you haven’t heard about it, then you’re in luck! (You can order the book here, as well as other places on the web and in-person at your local bookstore.)
I was given a free copy of Blissful Bites by the publisher to review and first of all, I think it’s important to note how colorful and gorgeous this book is at first glance. The sections are color-coded by season, there are photos on most pages, and the design and layout is fresh and light and vibrant. Which, it turns out, is a lot like the foods inside.
There is a concise, but informative introductory section going over veganism/macrobiotics/organics, and basic kitchen tools and techniques. Most of the recipes are macrobiotic-influenced, as well as low-fat and low-salt. Additionally, none of the recipes contain onions or garlic, which I’ve come across in some other cookbooks; as an avid garlic- and onion-lover, this is a bit of new territory for me, but most of the time I didn’t miss it.
While I certainly haven’t made all the recipes I want to from Blissful Bites, I think I have a pretty good base to draw from. The first recipe I made was the Coconut Bliss Granola and Key Lime Soy Yogurt Parfait (p 35). Despite realizing upon further inspection that I’d actually forgotten to add oats to the granola (a user error, entirely), there was enough other fun stuff like puffed rice, coconut flakes, and nuts and seeds to make me entirely forget that. The granola was dominated by the flavors of the dry ingredients, rather than by sweetness or oiliness or spices, which I rather liked. It went really well with the flavor of the lime soy yogurt, although I always find a trace of grittiness after blending silken tofu with strong citrus juice, so I’d probably stick to a non-soy-based yogurt in the future.
Ahh when the days were warmer…we enjoyed an outdoor breakfast a couple of months ago featuring Christy’s Tempeh Bacon, alongside some sauteed kale and wild rice-spelt pancakes topped with Peanut Butter-Like Mousse (except that I made mine with almond butter instead of soynut butter). The tempeh was pretty salty, despite cutting back on the amount of tamari, but since it was mostly a side I didn’t mind so much, though if I were to make it again I would probably cut it with more vinegar or water. The mousse, however, was divine! I braved my fear/dislike of silken tofu yet again to make this, and the other flavors and the texture of the almond butter I used made me forget there was silken tofu in there. We ate these with pancakes, as dessert at a summer picnic, and by the sneaky spoonful from the fridge. Rich and filling, it lasted us a really long time.
I made the Nectarine Cobbler Smoothie by subbing some of the aforementioned key lime soygurt for the storebought kind. It was simple and tasty, and a good way to use up the soygurt; but since I don’t buy vegan yogurt very often I would probably wing a simple “creamy” smoothie in the future. Also in the breakfast department but not pictured, are the Maple Almond-Pecan Scones. These were dense and crumbly (in a good way), and the flavor was out of this world – cinnamon-y and maple-y complex! I have tweaked these since to include some more fat, which is how I roll, but they really are delicious.
The first savory item (beyond the bacon) I tried was the Macro “Mac and Cheeze.” This is the only recipe where I felt the oil-free, macrobiotic direction of the book and my own culinary experiences and preferences really diverged; I ate a few small servings but had to toss the rest. Granted, I’m rather picky when it comes to vegan mac n cheese and have never successfully made a from-scratch version yet, but I would have liked more fat (both for flavor and to keep it from drying out so quickly) and maybe an additional spice or flavor element like garlic/onions or cayenne.
The Mac N’ Kale Salad, on the other hand, was delicious! I’ve made this salad several times. The fan of kale that I am, it would be pretty hard to mess up, but I really enjoyed the combination of avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, and nutritional yeast with my favorite leafy green. Serious yumtown!
Last, but not least, I got to try a new vegetable (burdock) by making the Burdock, Squash, and Brussels Stir-fry. I discovered I really like burdock root; it reminds me a bit of a cross between jicama and rutabaga, and I like that you can eat it raw or cooked. Despite the incredibly short list of ingredients (besides the vegetables, only sesame oil and salt are included), this was a really delicious and lovely dish. I think my appetite is bigger than the recipe would indicate (I could eat almost the whole recipe in one sitting), but more veggies is never a bad thing in my opinion.
Some other things I’d really like to try are: Daikon Canape with Sweet Miso Sauce, Pineapple-Cucumber Gazpacho, Fried Lotus Chips, Kale Salad with Curry-Coconut Sauce, Not-So-Forbidden Rice Salad, and Blueberry-Hemp Drops. In summary, I like to start with the cons and move to the pros with books that I like as a whole:
Cons: Though soy-free recipes are indicated by an icon, it seemed like a majority of the recipes I was drawn to include soy (that might otherwise seem soy-free); I don’t eat a lot of it generally, so if you don’t or can’t either, you might need to make substitutions (sometimes I use coconut aminos or blended cashews in place of silken tofu). I also have to take a bit of a leap of faith with the low- or no-fat recipes; sometimes they surprise and delight me, and other times I really miss the fat, especially living in a northern, mostly cold climate where dietary fat is a large part of my staying hydrated from the inside out. I think I’m a decent gauge of when I will want more than a recipe calls for, but it’s still something to consider when considering making a new dish for both myself and my partner, who is drawn to more “traditional” comfort foods. This same consideration goes into effect with the lack of onion and garlic in recipes; I’m more willing to try recipes without these ingredients, but my partner would surely miss these ingredients in certain dishes.
Pros: Blissful Bites is beautiful and inspiring, and based primarily on whole, unprocessed foods, most of which are easy to find at a natural foods store and somewhat easy to find at a regular grocery store. I enjoy the simplicity of the recipes which lets the natural foods’ flavors come through (and makes for a simple grocery list, too). There are plenty of raw recipes, which I really like as well. The tone of the book is encouraging and persuasive without being judgmental, and despite being geared a bit towards the “beginner” chef, I learned a few new things about technique, equipment, and food. (I ended up buying a pressure cooker, largely after reading Christy’s promise of amazingly prepared brown rice – it is no lie!) I still want to try many more recipes from the book, which I think says a lot about Blissful Bites and its ability to be a lasting fixture in my cookbook collection.
This is the kind of cookbook I’m drawn to: healthy, unprocessed, whole foods cooking, and would make a great addition to anyone’s collection who enjoys the same.]]>
In other news, I think that I will no longer be updating swell after that. I feel like there have been many shifts and changes in my life, and I no longer have the passion for blogging that I once did. Part of that is feeling a little burnt out on cooking and baking (because it’s what I do for work), part of it is feeling like I don’t have the time and energy to dedicate to make this blog what I wanted it to be, and part of it is feeling like I’ve slowly pigeon-holed myself into a recipe blog that feels pretty constraining and creatively oppressive. I don’t think, either, that I have the energy to try and reformat and reorganize this blog to change that. It seems like every post lately has begun with an apology about not blogging for so long (which is both embarrassing and annoying for me), and it finally seems like time to bite the bullet and let go.
“Goodbye posts” are kind of bittersweet, but I’d rather have someone come out and say they’re leaving, rather than just disappearing and wondering if they’re okay. I am okay, really. And I still read other people’s blogs daily, even if I don’t comment!
So look for a cookbook review coming up (it’s a good one), and know that I’m still around in other ways if you need to contact me or hear about my little bursts of gastronomic delight (still pretty Twitter-y on occasion; you can follow @swellveganblog).]]>
This weekend we went on a little birdwatching trip. Knowing we’d be in an unfamiliar town with less-than-ideal food options, we packed a bunch of food to eat over a couple days (luckily our motel room had a fridge). One of them was this salad, which continues my kale obsession with the addition of roasted, spiced sweet potatoes, black beans, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Great for our weekend, but would also be lovely for a colorful dinner or a potluck contribution.
Roasted Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Kale Salad
3 cups sliced or cubed sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp, or to taste, cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup pepitas
1/2 bunch dinosaur kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 lime, juiced
1 3/4 cups prepared black beans (1 15-oz. can)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the sweet potatoes with the onions, garlic, olive oil, agave nectar, and spices and place on a rimmed baking sheet or wide, shallow baking dish. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft and beginning to brown, stirring halfway through. Let cool.
Meanwhile, toast the pepitas in a dry skillet over a medium flame until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Massage the kale with the lime juice until softened. Toss the sweet potato mixture and pepitas with the kale and black beans and serve or refrigerate until later. Eat within 3-4 days.