I Love Lucy or Vacation Eating

Sheeeeee’s baaaaaaaaaack. Hey friends. As you might have guessed, I have been enjoying a bit of a hiatus. Big Sis graciously covered my fanny online as I took some time with our super parents in a super retreat. We are the lucky beneficiaries of an annual trip in the summer (Big Sis first, we second) that never fails to restore some well-being and hope for humanity (no, really), but I have to confess that it doesn’t typically do a lot for my healthy habits. I had great hopes for maintaining my course on this trip (as I managed to at the beach, where I had Big Sis to help me avoid the ice cream), but I’m afraid this time, I was pretty much like Lucy on the chocolate line. If you are unfamiliar with Lucy on the chocolate line, you may be very young, and I suppose we’ll have to forgive you for that. Regardless of the reason for your unfamiliarity, I would encourage you to check out the fabulous Ms. Ball (in the chocolate and two other food-related scenes) here. The picture above says it all, though. Cheeks full, and a determination to look as though nothing is wrong…. I just couldn’t stop myself.

Now look, don’t get me wrong, regardless of what your internal or external rules are about food, I think it’s pretty reasonable to willfully ignore them now and again. It’s not a point I want to argue – I am just not willing to be that rigid or hold myself to that high a standard. I don’t need to be disappointed in myself that often. With that said, on our trip some sort of switch flipped and it seems that after the first transgression, despite feeling bloated, overly-full, greasy, and a little nauseous, I just couldn’t stop. And so I arrive home feeling spiritually, mentally, and familially refreshed, and further affirmed that for me, there are some kinds of food I really just can’t do, and if I DO choose to eat them, I should do it when I’m with Big Sis so we can be sure it won’t happen the next day too. ;-)

On our road back to normal digestion this morning, I chose to give my daughter a soft landing with pancakes.  The kids enjoyed their little fluffy vegan breakfast friends with a little syrup on the first, and then jam on those that followed.  Mommy and Daddy enjoyed pancakes with fresh Western New York blueberries with some date cream spread on top.  And after I had the first two and I felt satisfied?  I stopped.  So there.  And for dinner tonight?  Homemade pasta with both red sauce and vegan pesto options….  that’s what I call getting back to normal in style.  Many kudos for my wonderful husband’s consistently awesome homemade pasta, and many thanks to fabulous sister-in-law and family for giving us an excuse to do it up with multiple options.  Vegan pesto was enjoyed by all but the youngest in the crowd (my wonderful but picky daughter and my wonderful but picky niece).  So here you are, the cheapest pesto I’ve ever made.  All the yum and none of the pricey ingredients. :-)

Welcome Home Vegan Pesto

  • Double batch sunflower cheez spread (omit the dill)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 6 cups packed fresh basil
  • 1 t  salt
  • 6 Tbs olive oil

Follow the recipe  for the sunflower cheez spread (to which I am now hopelessly and willfully addicted, by the way), omitting the dill (unless of course you like dill in your pesto), and adding a large clove of garlic.  Process the cheez until it is as smooth as your patience will allow.  Add the basil, additional salt and the olive oil and process again until ingredients are incorporated.  The pesto will not be as green as traditional pesto, but like traditional pesto, it WILL oxidize, so the color will go from green to brown when left uncovered or as time passes.  Stir for better color.  This recipe makes A LOT of pesto.  Cut it to your satisfaction, freeze some, OR play all week with new combinations based on your fan-flippin-tastic vegan pesto.  I’m betting you can guess which option I’m choosing. Delish.

Dairy-Free version of Tomatoes with Mozzarella

I wish I could take the credit for how pleased I am with myself, but in truth I am very pleased with Angela Liddon… and with gardens, and summertime, and the smell of tomato leaves, and, and, and … Sorry, I’ll try and calm down.  Creating something tasty and healthy that includes things from one’s own garden grew is just so exciting!

We haven’t had a speck of rain in 2 weeks, which is great for playing kickball in the back yard but obviously not so great for the garden.  However, shower water, dishwater and lots of love have allowed some lovely tomatoes and basil to come our way.

One of my favorite things to do with tomatoes is slice them, add a slice of fresh mozzarella (you know the soft kind that comes in a tub with liquid) a leaf or two of fresh basil and maybe a drizzle of olive oil.  Truly a summertime treat!  However, as my husband can’t have dairy right now, I did not want to eat this in front of him.

Certainly one solution would be to eat it in the closet or in the basement, but I don’t have to stoop that low anymore!  Angela Liddon has a delightful recipe for cashew/basil cream cheese that fit the bill.

Here is the recipe:
Vegan Cashew Basil Cheese Sauce (she calls it sauce but it is pretty firm)
1 cup raw cashews
1/3 – 1/2 tsp. Himalayan sea salt -not sure the geography of my salt but it worked ;-)
1/2 tsp. cold-pressed sunflower oil – I used safflower oil
1 fresh basil leaf
1 small clove garlic
1.5 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Place 1 cup of raw cashews in a blowl of water, cover, and asd soak overnight in the fridge.  When cashews are ready, drain and place all ingredients (cashews, salt, oil, basil, garlic, yeast, and lemon juice) into a food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape sides of processor as necessary.  Keep refrigerated.

Squeezing in the lemon juice.

Then, place a dollop, or a slicey kind of scrape off the top of your wonderful cashew cheese onto a slice of fresh tomato, top with another basil leaf if you desire, and enjoy.

YUMMY!

Now, if you don’t have any tomato plants of your own, acquire some tomatoes from a farmer’s market, or better yet from a neighbor so you can pick it yourself in the wonderful summertime heat and make sure to smell the leaves as well.

Some of My Good Days Look Like This… And Fabu Asian Peanut Sauce

We had a super busy day yesterday in mid-Maryland.  Evening plans and Father’s Day/my birthday on Sunday meant garden obligations had to be met in short order to allow festivities to be truly festive and to allow my neurotic soul to breathe easy and enjoy.  So as soon as breakfast was done (a big honkin’ kale smoothie made into a parfait with overnight oats – cause that’s just how I roll), I grabbed the lawn mower and got a move on.  The great thing about mowing around the garden is that it allows me to peek in and re-evaluate my plan of action.  I had originally planned to leave my broccoli and cauliflower alone as I wasn’t convinced they were done.  I had tomatoes to plant, preferably in the ground as my container tomatoes just don’t seem to do well.  I had basil to pot and various other things to plant, water, weed all in time for my 25th high school reunion (gulp, that sounds like a long time ago).

I quickly discerned that most of the broc and cauliflower were either spent or not budding (with 100 degree heat in the forecast, it seemed like time to give up).  I cleared those puppies out, planted a few new cucumbers and a tomato.  Dug up my ornamental fennel that a dear friend sent me seeds for from her plant in Michigan (i had thought it was edible so put it in the veggie garden – that’s a big plant for no eating in the veggie garden, but lovely and so yum smelling). “Mom…. a snake!”  Ran to children.  Observed large rat snake leaving patio, down retaining wall into woods.  Back to garden.  In went the watermelon.  Husband (pack mule) brought soil and compost to required location and did the part of the mowing that makes my knees go all wing-wangy.  Soil and compost piled in sunny spot, tomato planted.  Carrots pulled, beets pulled, raspberries picked (and eaten –  who could resist?!).  Dig, dig, dig, Hunh?

 Turtle in garden.  Shell completely closed.  Husband transported turtle to patio for warming.  Turtle slowly gained courage and eventually crawled away.  Weeds removed, basil planted, zucchini checked for mildew.  Japanese beetles on raspberry canes squished (without remorse).  Garden haul gathered and taken to kitchen.  Fresh carrot munched while removing leaves from 8 broc/cauliflower plants (rinse, wrap in cool wet and slip in plastic bag then fridge), beets same, carrots same.  Second fridge full.  Warmed leftover bulgur and added freshly harvested (raw) broccoli so it warmed and got the tiniest bit tender.  Stirred in homemade Asian peanut sauce from container in fridge.  Deeeeelish.  Shower.  Actually used a blowdryer – yes, a special occasion indeed.  Met friends, dropped off kids.

Reunion.  Such fun.  Hugs.  Fabulous old (and by that I mean young, vibrant, and absolutely wonderful) friends.  Stories.  Hugs.  Dinner. Cake. Wine. Bed.

Just about perfect.  Hope you are all enjoying a fabulous weekend.

Fabu Asian Peanut Sauce

  • Two large glops of peanut butter
  • A few shakes of soy or Bragg’s (to taste)
  • red chili flakes (or chili paste)
  • crushed garlic
  • minced/crushed/or powdered ginger
  • chopped cilantro
  • water

This is a wonderful sauce in that it is highly adaptable and easy to adjust for different tastes and uses.  I usually don’t measure (shocker, I know), start with the PB, and add the other ingredients to taste (which means I get to eat it while I’m making it, which is obviously a good thing).  Most of the ingredients are optional or could be changed out, but I find this combo to be the most yum.  When I’ve mixed everything but the water to taste, I add enough water to make it suit my needs.  If it’s a drizzling sauce I add more water.  If I want to dip veggies in it, less water.  It keeps beautifully and adds a lovely Asian peanut vibe to just about anything you might want to eat.  Great on noodles, fabulous on broccoli…. especially broccoli you’ve just brought in from the garden.