Are Your Pots and Pans Making You Sick?

My daughter just passed this video on to me today ~ and it kinda scared me.  This is a video of how to do a simple test to see whether your pots and pans are leaching chemicals and/or metals into your foods.  So many of us are trying to eat ultra healthfully with organic produce, etc., etc. ~ but what if we are putting that marvelous food into cookware that deletes its effectiveness at making us healthier?  *gulp!*

This video link takes just about 8 minutes to watch.  It may change our lives!  (I don’t know, because I still have to go test my pans…and then show my husband.)

Click for Chef Mark Anthony’s video

Pecan Praline Sauce

Sometimes I make or buy vanilla soy ice cream and just want to make something special out of it.  Chocolate sauce/syrup is great, but can become mundane if that’s all you ever do.  Root beer floats are fun, but half my crew doesn’t really like them.  Peanut butter and chocolate chips are fine.  But sometimes I just want something a little different.  That’s where Pecan Praline Sauce steps in.

This can be as thick or as runny as you wish – just keep cooking it down if you want it thicker, or cool it completely in the refrigerator for a super thick sauce.  If you make pancakes or waffles, this is pretty special on those, but you want it runnier for that.  You can always reheat sauce leftovers to thin it some.  Probably some extra non-dairy milk added to it could do the same thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pecan Praline Sauce

  • 4 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 1 1/2 c. non-dairy milk (I use Silk vanilla)
  • 2 T. non-dairy milk powder (I use Better Than Milk soy or rice vanilla)
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. Earth Balance buttery sticks (1/2 stick)
  • 1 c. chopped raw pecans
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. demerara sugar or brown sugar (could be plain evaporated cane juice crystals in a pinch)

Put the first 6 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Once it is thick and bubbly, set your timer for 2 more minutes and keep stirring.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and demerara sugar.  Cool for 15-30 minutes and serve warm over ice cream.

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

This was the first vegan pudding I made after we gave up dairy.  It is very easy, although it does take some time waiting for everything to thicken while you stir it.  It’s worth it, though!  As long as you whisk it constantly and don’t use too high of a heat, it is smooth and creamy.  If you are impatient and don’t do those two things…well, plan on some lumps in your pudding.

I tried to make this easier by bringing the cocoa/milk mixture almost to a boil without having to stir it and then adding the cornstarch combo, but I got such awful lumps!  I also forgot to use a whisk.  It was not pretty.  Nobody but J wanted to eat it (which tells you just how easy he is to please with food.)

This recipe easily doubles, triples, or quadruples…but be prepared to take “forever” if you make too big of a batch.  I quadrupled it ~ hey, 6 of us happen to love pudding ~ and I spent a very long time at the stove whisking.  It goes faster with a smaller batch, certainly, but be prepared for 1/2 c. servings.  🙂

Chocolate Pudding

  • 1/2 c. honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 3 c. non-dairy milk, reserving at least 3/4 c. to mix with cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch

Carefully stir together the honey and cocoa powder in a saucepan.  It will be poofy at first, but keep gently stirring.  It will begin to get thready and then suddenly fall into creaminess.  Slowly stir some of the milk into the cocoa mixture.  Keep adding a little at a time until the cocoa mixture is well thinned and not stuck to the bottom of the pan where it will scorch.  Add the cornstarch to the reserved milk and stir until smooth.  Add all remaining milk, the vanilla and the cornstarch mixture to the cocoa mixture, whisking until smooth.

Heat over medium-high heat until almost boiling, whisking constantly until thickened.  (Reminder:  the longer you heat this, the thicker it will become…and when it cools it will thicken more.)

Pour into a serving bowl, or individual bowls and cover with plasticwrap (Saran contains no BPA), allowing the wrap to touch the pudding to avoid a skin forming on the top.  Chill thoroughly.

If you want to put this in a no-bake pie crust, allow pudding to become very thick as you cook it.  (Mine was just barely thick enough to cut after cooling when I let it come to a boil with a few large bubbles bursting – watch your hands – while I whisked constantly.)  If you want it super thick, add an extra tablespoon or two of cornstarch to the reserved milk.

Makes about 3 1/2 – 4 cups – or enough to fill a small store-bought graham cracker crust.

Noodles & Company blogger review

Every once in a while I am going to direct you to a fellow blogger’s page, because it contains information helpful to a vegan way of life, or sometimes just a tip for a healthier way of living.

This time, I’m recommending a post from Cadry’s Kitchen as she reviews a recent trip to Noodles & Company.  It’s always helpful to hear about restaurants where vegans can easily eat!

Click here to go to the review.

Substitution Soup (aka: Eggplant-Cabbage Soup)

This is a bit earlier in the year than I usually make soup ~ but with cooler evenings arriving earlier than normal, I couldn’t resist.  Last week I found a very large organic eggplant at Kroger.  I’d never seen one there before, so I quickly pounced on it!  Since I needed to use it before it went the way of other science experiments in the back of my frig, this influenced my decision to make this particular soup.

My dear high school friend who taught me about this soup has a different name for it than I use.  She calls it garbage pail soup, because you can throw in just about anything you want and it’s likely to taste good.  Use up the veggies that just can’t wait much longer.  Throw in whatever meat-like substitutes you like.  Just start with the base of the soup and have fun.

I do wish the greens would stay brighter for visuals with this soup, but my family doesn’t like the texture of them wilted at the last minute of cooking time, so I have to put up with duller-looking greens.  The good thing?  It still tastes amazing!  (I ate 2 large bowls of it.)

There is one thing you should know.  This makes a HUGE pot of soup that will last you for more than one meal.  You can freeze some of it.  You can add something new each night to it to make it slightly different.  Or you can invite a crowd over for supper.  🙂

Substitution Soup

Absolutely necessary:

  • 12-16+ c. filtered or well water (depending on the size of your cabbage and other veggie amounts)  Good water is important to the taste of your soup
  • 1 small-to-medium cabbage, diced or sliced
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 2 large onions (more if you like)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T. basil (more if using fresh)
  • 1 1/2 – 3 tsp. Marmite or Vegex (add the smaller amount and taste test later)
  • 6-8 T. chicken-style seasoning     (ditto)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 T. +/- sweetener (depending on how acidic your canned tomatoes are), optional

Variables:

  • herbs and seasonings of choice (including Spike*, or Mrs. Dash)
  • 3-6 c. diced or shredded potatoes* (or use small cauliflower florets or corn)
  • 1-2 lbs. green vegetables ~ may be frozen (chopped leafy greens such as spinach*, kale, turnip greens*, etc., zucchini – diced or shredded, green beans, chopped broccoli, etc.
  • 1/2-1 c. dried lentils* (or add canned beans at the end of cooking time)
  • 1/2-1 1/2 c. brown rice*, millet, barley (increase cooking time), or other whole grain
  • veggie meat of your choice ~ use more than one kind for added interest ~ chorizo* (for a spicy version), TVP, seitan, homemade or canned gluten pieces, broken soy curls*, soy hot dogs or links, Gimme Lean, chopped up soy burgers, Tofurkey “sausages,” etc.

Throw everything from the “absolutely necessary” list into a large stock pot.  Bring this to a boil while you chop everything else, adding as you go.  The cabbage will decrease in size as it cooks, so you may not need as much water as you think you might.  You may always add more later, as well as more seasonings to balance the extra water.  When the lentils, rice, and potatoes are cooked, taste the soup and see if it needs something, like more salt, or some other kind of seasoning.  Adjust it as needed.  Let the soup cool to serving temperature as a large stockpot of soup can be seriously hot.  Pair it with some marvelous bread and enjoy!

*my choices for the soup pictured

Sweet and Sour Bok Choy and Tofu

I love sweet and sour stir-fries.  Half of my children do, too.  The other half and hubby, however, do not…or should I say DO NOT.  If I’m going to make it, I do it for lunch for myself and anybody who might be interested.

This week I found some organic bok choy and knew it was time to experiment.  This is just a simple little dish, but it makes a very satisfying lunch.  I didn’t have time to cook any rice and had none leftover, either, so we ate it plain for a late “noon” meal.  It was delicious.  I would have liked more of the greens from the bok choy for eye-appeal, though.  Some sweet red pepper pieces would have helped with the colorfulness, too.  For a better view of the picture below, click on it.  It looks tastier that way.  🙂

Sweet and Sour Bok Choy and Tofu

  • approximately 2-3 T. virgin coconut oil, decrease if desired
  • 1 small onion, quartered and sliced
  • 1 small bunch bok choy, chopped into separate pieces of stem and leaves
  • 1/4 lb. of frozen diced pineapple pieces, or to taste
  • 1 T. minced ginger, or more
  • 1 lb. extra-firm tofu, diced
  • 1 1/2 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4 c. demerara sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1 T. (loose) cornstarch
  • 2 T. water

Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet.  Toss in onion, bok choy stem pieces, pineapple, ginger, and tofu.  Squirt Bragg’s back and forth over pan, stirring to distribute.  Begin cooking on medium high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken-style seasoning over all and stir well.  Cook for 5 minutes or so.  Add bok choy leafy pieces and demerara or brown sugar.  Cook until bok choy is as tender as desired.  Stir together cornstarch and water and pour it into the skillet, stirring constantly.  Add more Bragg’s as desired for flavor and saltiness.  Serve plain or over rice.

Variations:  Add sliced/diced mushrooms, celery, and/or bell peppers.  You may need to increase ginger, seasonings, and sweeteners, depending on how much you add.

Peach Cobbler (or Blueberry…or Blackberry…or….) plus a gluten-free option

Years and years ago, when women wrote their recipes more cryptically than they do today (a pinch of this, a dash of that, a slow oven…as in wood-burning stove/oven!), my grandmother crafted a cobbler that was out of this world!  My mother recreated it for a “normal” oven and I grew up adoring cobblers of any kind.  When we lived in Oregon, we picked wild Marion blackberries on the side of the road that were as long as my 7-year-old thumb and thicker – and they had very little seeds, as I recall.  They made the best cobbler I ever can remember.  (I tried to recreate it with frozen Marion blackberries…oh, no.  It was more of a seed-crunch cobbler.   Ick.)

When we became vegan, I figured out what to do with the handed-down cobbler recipe.  I had tried and tried to tweak it to make it healthier…and gave up to a certain extent.  If I was going to eat the cobbler-of-my-childhood/vegan-version, it wasn’t going to be super-duper healthy.  It was going to be dessert…with whole grain flour.  (Hey, I couldn’t give in entirely to unhealthy living!)  🙂

A few days ago a friend dropped off some South Carolina peaches that he brought back from his trip.  They smelled amazing!  I could have crawled in the bag and absorbed that perfume into my skin.  We ate some of the peaches, but when my boys went away for a 5-day camp-out, I knew I was going to have to make something with the fruit before it went bad.  My mouth started to water thinking about cobbler.

And then I remembered…my cobbler recipe is a wheat flour recipe.  And two days ago, I splurged and had some real, live pizza complete with a wheat crust (but vegan cheese…so maybe it’s not truly “real”) ~ and I’m paying for it with an achy body still today.  The last thing I wanted to do was make and eat more wheat ~ especially with my wheat-tolerant, eating-machine boys not there to help devour it.

First I prayed for guidance and then bravely started working on what was hopefully going to be an amazing gluten-free, vegan version of my grandmother’s recipe.  I’m sure she would be astonished.  As I type this, it is in the oven baking…and I am on pins and needles wondering how it will turn out.  I peeked in the oven at the half-way point, and it looks promising!  I’m so excited.  The peaches have sunk down in the batter perfectly!

Meanwhile, let me give you the just-plain vegan version of the recipe.  Then if the gluten-free one turns out, I’ll add that, too.  Remember, this is a special treat with plenty of sweetener and fat.  If you prefer a less sweet dish, cut down on the sweetener in the batter by 1/2 a cup, but I don’t recommend reducing the fat content any more…been there/done that…and it wasn’t pretty.

This makes a 4 quart casserole full as it rises.  It will drop down some as it cools.

Vegan Cobbler

  • 1 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (or sugar)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. baking powder, sieved
  • 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour (I prefer white whole wheat – King Arthur’s or Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2-3/4 c. vegan margarine (Earth Balance is great.  I often substitute 1/2 of it with solid coconut oil – refrigerate it if necessary to make it firm up during the summer.)
  • 1 3/4 c. non-dairy milk
  • 4 cups or more of fruit (peach, blueberry, etc.)  This may be frozen or fresh, I’ve used both successfully.  I usually use 6 cups of fruit.
  • 1/4-1 c. sugar (depending on how sweet your fruit is – I tend to use 1/4-1/2 c.)
  • 1 1/2 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray baking dish with oil.

Mix dry ingredients (first 4) together in a mixing bowl with a pastry blender.  With the pastry blender, cut in the vegan margarine (and coconut oil if using) into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and has small pea-sized pieces of dough sticking together.  You want to get the fats mixed in with the flour so that it is well distributed throughout the batter.  Stir in the milk just until everything is moist.  The batter will be lumpy and fairly wet.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it out to the edges.  (You can click on the picture to see just how lumpy it will look.)  Place the fruit evenly across the batter.  Sprinkle on the 1/4-1 c. sugar.  Pour boiling water over it all.  Bake for 1 hour.

_________Update on the gluten-free cobbler__________

After actually allowing the cobbler to cool (only because I could test the taste and texture better without a burned tongue) I took a nibble of the crust.  Mmmm…it was very good and the texture was spot-on.  But before I really could tell you how it came out, I had to eat a big spoonful of it to know for certain.  (I was willing to go the distance for all of you!  Such a sacrifice!)  Oh, man…was it good.  I would have no problem serving this to anyone.  It has a slightly nutty flavor that the wheat version doesn’t, but it doesn’t detract from the overall dessert.  I think the sweetener could certainly be reduced in the batter.  Without the slight bitterness of the wheat, it doesn’t need as much.  On the other hand, if you want a knock-down, drag-out dessert that will go the distance, leave the sweetener as is!

Gluten-free Vegan Cobbler

  • 1 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (or sugar)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. baking powder, sieved
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • 1/2 c. almond meal
  • 1/2 c. buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 c. coconut flour
  • 1 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1/2-3/4 c. vegan margarine (Earth Balance is great.  I often substitute 1/2 of it with solid coconut oil – refrigerate it if necessary to make it firm up during the summer.)
  • 2 c. non-dairy milk
  • 2 or more pints of fruit (peach, blueberry, etc.)  This may be frozen or fresh
  • 1/4-1 c. sugar (depending on how sweet your fruit is – I tend to use 1/4-1/2 c.)
  • 1 1/2 c. boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray baking dish with oil.

Mix dry ingredients (first 8) together in a mixing bowl with a pastry blender.  With the pastry blender, cut in the vegan margarine (and coconut oil if using) into the flour until the mixture is crumbly and has small pea-sized pieces of dough sticking together.  You want to get the fats mixed in with the flour so that it is well distributed throughout the batter.  Stir in the milk just until everything is moist.  The batter will be lumpy and fairly wet.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it out to the edges.  Place the fruit evenly across the batter.  Sprinkle on the 1/4-1 c. sugar.  Pour boiling water over it all.  Bake for 1 hour.

How to clean mildewy towels

Yes, I’ve been AWOL lately.  I apologize.  I think summer does that to me.  Once the cooler weather hits, I’m sure I’ll be posting plenty of yummy things!

Until then…here is a website that a friend shared with me that tells how to clean mildewy towels!  Of course, everyone has hand towels, dish towels, and dish cloths in your kitchen that stay wet too much of the time if you are cooking a lot.  Even just a humid summer with the windows open all day can make the towels in your bathroom begin to smell a little off.  But did you ever send your kid on a camping trip and have them come home with towels and wash cloths that could crawl away by themselves?  Or have somebody forget to rinse out their swimsuit and leave it in a plastic bag a few days…ick.  This is the solution!  I can’t wait to try it out.

How to Clean Your Stinky, Mildewy Towels

Let me know how it works for you!