If you ever wondered what $53 dollars could buy for you at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market, here you go! I am terrible at remembering how much of something I got so you’ll just have to eyeball it, but I can certainly list it. The only thing I bought that wasn’t homegrown was some Gilroy, California shallots. Other than that, it is Pure Michigan. From Blandford–always my first stop–I got an enormous head of broccoli, some cauliflower, a celery leaf heavy bunch o’ celery, two bundles of Tuscan kale and some flat-leaf parsley. After that, it was a blur that included red-skinned potatoes, 3 pints of hot peppers (a mix of habanero and cherry bomb) for Roger, two beautiful heirloom tomatoes, tons of peppers to freeze (green, pimento and poblano, tons of apples to perfect my apple pie pizza–Honey Crisp, Zestar and Fuji–and Michigan pears. This will easily feed the two of us for a week. Love, love, love my home state!
Well, I hail from Wisconsin on both sides–Green County–mind you. It’s like the epicenter of cheese curds. My Swiss grandparents ate cheese at every meal, so I’m a girl who likes her cheese. When I fell in love with vegetarianism at 19, I just cleared my plate for more cheese! So when I became a devoted plant-based eater several years ago, the cheese thing was a problem. I dedicated a good part of my early study to cheese alternatives and I love teaching other people how they can choose plant-based alternatives to cheese. My next class, in fact, is at Uptown Kitchen on October 3rd. I hope to see you there!
What follows is my go-to cheese sauce. We put this stuff on everything! including brown rice, veggies and, slivered almonds (shown above); on taco salads; in breakfast burritos with sauteed tofu… the possibilities are endless! You can modify it to your own taste by changing the amounts of ume plum vinegar and lemon juice. Or add more or less squash to make it creamier. Also, if you don’t have a high-speed blender, check out my modification below.
Sue’s Favorite Cheesy Sauce
2 medium yellow squash (12 oz.)
½ cup cashews soaked in filtered water 4-6 hours
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2T mild miso (I use chickpea, but brown rice is fine)
1-2T ume plum vinegar
1-2T lemon juice
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
½ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. chili powder
Steam the squash for 5-7 minutes, or until firm tender.
Drain the cashews and rinse.
Add cashews and the rest of the ingredients, including the squash, to the blender. Blend until creamy.
Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
If you do not have a high-speed blender, grind the *dry* cashews in a food processor until they are a coarse crumb texture. This can be loud and long, but don’t go too long or you’ll get cashew butter. Then soak for a couple of hours and proceed as directed.
I’ve been a bit obsessed with ground beef subs. Why? Because ground beef is such a big part of the typical American diet and so to have a ‘go-to’ whole foods substitute to use in traditional recipes is a big bonus with the crowd I work with–namely people who switch suddenly to a plant-based diet for health reasons. You have to be willing to swap out ingredients depending on whether your diner is gluten sensitive, has an allergy to mushrooms or nuts, or is avoiding soy due to an estrogenic cancer. At my plant-based comfort food class, I’ll be providing more specific recipes. But for the moment, I will tell you some of the components I use when concocting a substitute for ground beef that will hold its own when used in recipes like hamburger helper, chili, sloppy joes and spaghetti bolognese.
Nothing beats a half cup of raw soaked walnuts, ground up in your food processor. Add a half cup of dried shitake mushrooms (grind these up, too), 8 oz. of drained and briefly frozen and crumbled tofu, and a half cup of bulgur wheat. Of these, all but the walnuts will act like a sponge and soak up liquid. I like to rub my tofu in spices–because recognizing bits of tofu is a real buzzkill for picky eaters. I usually use something like a tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce, a little beer or red wine, and maybe some coffee. To that, I might add smoked paprika, chili powder, ground fennel seed, freshly ground black pepper, oregano, cumin or blackening spices. Once the tofu is coated, you can mix in the other ingredients. Note that if you are using bulgur and dried mushrooms, you’ll need to add extra liquid to keep the recipe in balance. This could take the form of tomatoes or sauce when making chili or beer when making sloppy joes. In the hamburger helper above, I used a combination of chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce and red wine.
Here’s a quick guide to swapping out ingredients based on your sensitivities.
Can’t do nuts? Do bulgur wheat
Can’t do tofu? Do navy beans, baked at 250 for 30 minutes in the oven
Can’t do mushrooms? Do well-rinsed ground up jackfruit or thoroughly squeezed ground up Butler soy curls.
The point is that the ground beef subs in your grocery store freezer case are highly-processed and filled with weird ingredients–including animal ingredients like egg whites. They’re also expensive! You can mimic the texture of ground beef quite well all on your own. When you’ve found the perfect blend, make a bunch and freeze it. That way your happy helper will be just as quick as the irradiated stuff that comes in the box.
Another exciting installment in the life of Bean Can Man
I came home from the gym…starving. BUT I wanted exactly what I wanted, which was a taco salad. I wanted crunchy, creamy, chewy. Anyway. I started with Vertical Paradise baby greens.
Talk about Paradise! It’s February in Michigan and I can get my hands on this stuff. We’re working on YOU getting your hands on this stuff. Come to next week’s supper club and lobby Tim Sharer, owner of Vertical Paradise Farms. Here’s Tim (holding his stash).
Back to the salad. I chopped up peppers and onions, heated a little water in a non-stick pan and sauteed them. After a couple of minutes, I sprinkled on some chili pepper and cumin. Another minute went by and I tossed in two small zucchini (diced), some frozen corn and a half a cup of salsa. I gave it all a stir, turned the pan to low and my attention to the dressing. Into my blender went a half a box of tofu (silken lite firm tofu), 1/2 of a big–ripe, people!–avocado, juice of one half lime, 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk (you could use water) and whir away until it is perfectly smooth. I wanted to add just a little salt, but when I tipped my jar of himalayan sea salt, a big chunk fell out into the blender. Drat! I tasted it. Like the rim of a margarita. What to do?
As I was sitting there, fretting, apron over my head, a can of Eden Organic No Salt Black Beans fell into my lap.
“Trouble, young lady?”
“Oh Bean Can Man, I am so SO sad. I just put too much salt in my creamy dressing.”
“Don’t worry your pretty little head. Why not offset too much salt with my salt-free black beans? I assume I was destined to make it into your salad anyway.”
Yes, he was. So I mixed the dressing with the beans, which I had rinsed and drained. I chopped the lettuce and put on a layer of creamy beans, topped that with some sauteed veggies, another dollop of creamy beans and salsa. Looked like this:
How do you say Yum! in Spanish? Add some super-thin and crispy Xochitli chips and you are fueled to save the world–one can at a time! Thank you Bean Can Man.
Every month we have an embarrassment of riches at our plant-based dinners and some dishes are truly unforgettable. January was an inspired month. Below, find your requested recipes for Medha’s Sabudana Kichadi and Theresa’s lovely beet appetizer.
Medha thoughtfully photographed each stage in the process for all you Indian cooking neophytes. This makes her popular dish look so easy! You have to give it a whirl.
Sabudana (Tapioca Pearls) Khichadi
from Medha Kosalge
3 cups Tapioca Pearls
2 ½ Cups Coarsely Ground Unsalted Roasted Peanuts
7 to 8 Green Chilies
½ tsp. cumin Seeds
¼ Bunch Cilantro
7 or 8 curry leaves(Optional)
2 Potatoes, Boiled and Cubed(Optional)
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oil
Flat Microwave-safe Glass Container/Bowl
Fasting is part of Indian diet. Some may fast every fortnight, some may fast every week. Fasting is not necessarily not-eating-anything. It is about letting your digestive system deal with altogether different food group for a day. Some people eat only fruits for a day, some people only take juices, and people like Parag and I eat Sabudana khichadi. There are other fasting food recipes too, but we’ll come to that later.
Meanwhile let’s make and eat Sabudana Khichadi.
(1) Wash Sabudana two to three times in cold water so that most of the starch goes away.
(2) Most crucial part in the recipe: Soak Sabudana Pearls for about 2 to 3 hours. No, not that simple. Here’s how to do it: Soak Sabudana with “Warm” (Not Hot) water, filling the water until it is about 1 inch above sabudana level. Cover the bowl. Set a timer for 30 minutes.
(7) Layer prepared Sabudana mixture over it. Cover with a paper napkin and microwave for one minute. Stir a bit using a fork so that Sabudana at the center is also cooked and not just at the sides of the container. Don’t let the chili layer come to the top. Not yet.
Thank you, Medha, for that tutorial!
Theresa’s Lovely Cooked Beet Appetizer
Beet Appetizer: Slice cooked beets and spread nut cheese between the slices. Drizzle with Michigan-based Hotel Kitchen Brand Citrette Dressing (available at the Amway Grand Hotel, Russo’s, Kingma’s and Art of the Table) and sprinkle with crushed (roasted and salted) pistachios. Easy Peasy.
Easy Vegan Nut Cheese
1. Soak 1/2 cup of raw almonds and 1/2 cup of raw cashews in water for about four hours. Rinse and drain them.
2. Combine the nuts, 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of filtered water in the Vitamix. (Add more water if necessary, but I have found this to be the right amount.) Mix it up using the tamperer to push them down into the blades.
3. Add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of cayenne pepper to the mix and reblend to a lovely paste.
The focus of the food was local this evening in honor of a beautiful day and happy hour in my yard with good friend, Meghan Disselkoen, the Program & Fund Development Coordinator at Local First. If you are a local business and you haven’t joined and experienced the benefits of Local First, go to their website to see what you are missing.
Personally, I can’t resist the combination of blueberries and peaches, but there are just so many times you can make a cobbler and happy hour isn’t one of them. But, hey, how about chips and salsa? Cruising the web, I found lots of recipes with jalapenos and red onion and scallions, but why in the world would you want to mess with the success of blueberries and peaches by adding red onion? Maybe it’s just me. No–Meg concurred–here it is, a lovely and light appetizer.
Blueberry Peach Salsa
2 large peaches
2 cups blueberries
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 generous tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
1 tsp. agave nectar.
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh mint
3 uncooked Tortillas (we buy Tortillaland Tortillas at CostCo)*
1 T sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. Earth Balance
*you can bake cooked tortillas in the oven for about ten minutes at 350 degrees. Spray with a mist of cooking oil and sprinkle ahead of time.
For the salsa:
Pour the blueberries into a processor and pulse maybe ten times until many of them are chopped but some remain whole. Don’t overprocess!
Zest the lemon and pour the juice into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Peel and dice the peaches into small pieces and add to the bowl
Add the blueberries, and the rest of the ingredients and gently fold. Personally, I like this at room temperature, but it’s your call.
For the chips:
Using a biscuit cutter (or tracing the bottom of a glass with a knife) cut six rounds from an uncooked tortilla.
Gently peel the circles out of the dough.
Place the ‘chips’ in a heavy pan over medium heat and cook until bubbles begin to form (the one at 11 o’clock is just about ready to flip).
Using a small spatula, flip the chips until they are nicely browned on both sides. You don’t need oil for this operation because there is oil in the tortilla.
Once the chips were baked, I touched my warm spatula to a stick of Earth Balance pressed it on the top of a chip. Then I sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar on it.
I like to serve the salsa in individual bowls, so people feel comfortable double-dipping!
Here’s the next in our series of “Please don’t make me cook in this heat!” Tabbouleh is such a versatile, delicious and filling grain salad that you must add it to your repertoire. Some love it with more parsley than bulgur wheat, some love it stuffed with mint. There’s cilantro on this salad (but that’s because I didn’t have any more parsley to garnish it). It is a little known fact that bulgur wheat (the parboiled, dried and cracked version of whole wheat) has fewer calories, less fat and about twice the fiber of brown rice. And here’s the kicker–you don’t have to wait 40 minutes and heat up your kitchen to eat it!
Tabbouleh with Garbanzos
This dish is a re-envisioned version from my first-ever vegetarian cookbook, “Fast Vegetarian Feasts,” published in 1982 by Martha Rose Shulman. As with many dishes I have made hundreds of times, I vary it according to what I have on hand, but the basic dressing ingredients came from Martha and they make a fantastic tabbouleh! Everyone loves this dish. I have added a chia oil substitute with no loss in flavor. This makes the dish as healthy as it is delicious—you can leave out the olive oil entirely if you like.
1 ½ cups raw medium grind bulgur (you can find bulgur at health food stores or in the Bob’s Red Mill section of your
1 cup boiling water
Juice of one lemon
½ cup white vinegar
2 cloves garlic (put through a press or minced fine)
1 tsp. prepared mustard
¾ tsp. ground cumin
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup chia oil substitute*
1 bunch green onions, both whites and as much green tops as you like
½ cup chopped parsley
2 tomatoes, flesh only, chopped (so core them and remove the watery innards)
1 English seedless cucumber, diced (you choose if you like it peeled or not)
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Put raw bulgur in a large bowl
Heat water and pour over bulgur
Whisk together next seven ingredients and pour over bulgur
Layer next five ingredients on top of bulgur and cover the bowl with a towel
After about an hour toss the whole salad together and let sit at room temperature
Season with salt to taste and freshly ground pepper