Sunday, September 29, 2013

the Sunday Special - Wild Pears

Pears are in abundance around here. My sister has a mature wild pear tree on her property and I went to town collecting and picking my fill.

I hosted game night this week and decided to make use of these babies. Most were still crunchy and tart (still delicious by themselves), and some were ripening and sweet.

I combined and transformed a few recipes to create a Vegan Fruit Cobbler with only 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Coconut oil to coat pans

5 cups of crunchy pear slices
1/2 cup strawberry slices
1/2 cup raspberries quartered
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coconut extract
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
6 tsp Coconut oil

1 Tsp cinnamon & sugar

2 cups ripe pears
2 1/2 cups ripe melon
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder

coconut oil

Coat the pan or pans with coconut oil.(I had three loaf pans, but 1 large cake pan would be great.)

Combine pear slices, berries, cinnamon, coconut extract (next time I want to try almond), the 2 tablespoons of flour, and 6 teaspoons of coconut oil. Mix well. Add to the greased pan(s).

Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. (I saved about 1/3 of it to add to the very top later.)

Thoroughly mix the cup of flour and baking powder. Puree the ripe pears and melon until it looks like baby food. Add the puree to the flour mixture a little at a time. This should end up being the consistency of pancake batter (and I'm actually thinking about recreating it and making pancakes/crepes out of it next time). Pour the batter over the fruit mixture in the pans. Do not stir.

Drizzle with coconut oil and honey and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon and sugar. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream (ours was not vegan, but you could find or make some that is).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wild Wednesday: Bicycle Gang

A few months ago, I started gathering other bikers to ride around Final Friday (Wichita's Art Gallery Crawl). The first month there were only 2 of us, but then in July there were 10!! All the rain cooled things off...that probably helped a weee bit. August was another 100 degree scorcher, but there were still 4 of us out there sweatin' and we had a great time.

The Bicycle Gang is growing!! If you are in the Wichita area this Friday, come join us!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Gypsy Fort

As most of you know, my house has been virtually empty for a year now. To make the space inviting and cozy for my birthday party, I had the idea of creating a gypsy lounge in the living room.

I borrowed some twinkle lights, grabbed a handful of vintage sheets from my beloved collection, and started building what might well be my very first fort.

I first put up the twinkle lights. They were so magical just by themselves, I really debated whether or not to build the fort after all. I loved how open it was and didn't want to fill it with a bunch of bulky objects. After much debate and encouragement, I decided to continue.

To avoid a lot of bulky objects or having to patch any holes in the walls/ceiling, I managed to use only 1 ladder, a long pieces of wood, a curtain rod (in addition to the one already above the window), rope, and safety pins to construct it. Luckily, one corner of the room had a hook in the ceiling, the other wall had the curtain rod, and there were also two air vents. Then I used the rope to string up the sheets, zig zagging from one side of the room and back. The ladder was used as the entrance and the wood and extra curtain rod sat on the top step with a blanket and actual curtains on them.


I was really happy with how it turned out and everyone seemed to love hanging out in this special space. For those who slept over, we fell asleep under the magic of the twinkle lights and billowing floral ceiling.

A magical place I am still waking up to every morning as I have not yet found it in me to let it go just yet.

the Sunday Special - Homemade Pesto

I made pesto for the first time the other day...sort of by accident. There was a new winter squash variety that I tried (which was amazingly delicious without anything added. no sugar. no butter. no nothin'.) and I baked the seeds like I normally do. They were a bit hard to chew so I decided to grind them up in my blender (which is similar to a bullet), but a coffee bean grinder would work better than most blenders. I was going to use it to sprinkle on top of things as a seasoning and such.

I had some fresh Thai basil from the farmers market and thought I'd throw some of it into the blender. Needed a little lubrication in the blender so I threw in some olive oil. At some point it hit me. "Oh, I think this is how you make pesto." I'm guessing this is how most new food items are created. This is how it happens in my kitchen,, anyway. =)

Sprinkle a little black pepper and oregano on the seeds of 1 winter squash. Bake at 350 degrees until starting to get golden brown. (Guessing 15 minutes. Be sure to check them every few minutes so they don't burn.)

Grind them up in a coffee bean grinder or a blender that is capable of grinding them up into small fine pieces, almost a powder. Add fresh basil and olive oil.

Serve with cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, winter squash, cilantro, green onions, and a variety of other fun fresh ingredients. Arrange on toasted whole wheat tortilla slices and garnish with basil.

Or layer them to make cucumber sandwiches. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

the Sunday Special - Chocolate Curry Sauce

I love Thai food. I'm always tempted to ask restaurants for their recipes, but I'm pretty sure they aren't going to share. So with a couple different curry recipes I found on line, I was off experimenting as usual.

Chocolate Curry Sauce

1 diced onion
handful of mushrooms chopped
1 large minced garlic clove
1 can green chilies
1 can coconut milk
1 lime (juice and pulp)
2 TB? curry powder
1 TB? cinnamon
1 Tb? red pepper and ground melon seeds (i had seasoned and toasted some melon seeds)
3 fresh Thai basil leaves finely chopped
1/2 can tomato paste
3 chunks of extra strong dark chocolate with 77% cocoa

*The chocolate was actually a spontaneous last minute addition that paired nicely with the curry. Call it my signature.

I sauteed the onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Threw in the chilies and let them warm up to draw out the flavor. Added the coconut milk, lime, honey, and seasonings. Once that was warm I added the rest, stirring to make sure the chocolate melted and was evenly distributed

I sauteed sweet potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, green beans, and more garlic (all from the farmers market). Tossed it in the sauce and whalla!

Friday, September 13, 2013

I got everything I asked for

I turned another year older this week. I was lucky enough to have friends and family to share it with that helped make my birthday wishes come true.

I woke up early while the weather was perfect for a nice bike ride along the river. A friend and I went thrifting all morning and then swimming in the afternoon.

The evening was filled with family and homemade vegan ice cream.

And my sweet nephew made this rainbow for me!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Media Monday - Brush Bash

A friend of mine I hadn't seen in quite some time, invited me to a free event of live painting and music. Free. Art. Live music. I'm in! I didn't bother to read the details or check out the bands ahead of time, which brought on a few fun surprises.

My friend was actually one of the artists doing the live painting. He knew I would want to jump in so he brought these cute mini-canvas and paint sets. Another artist friend of mine came with me and we were immediately excited and began painting too. Bonus for her, she now has a super cool activity for guests at her engagement party next week. I love that idea!

They were about 2x2" and had little mini easels too.

When the artists were done painting, one of them was picked to paint a mural and was given a $1000 check. Man! I wish I had heard about this event sooner.

It gets even better. Brody Buster Band and Deadman Flats were the two bands lined up. Brody Buster Band was up first. At this point, my friends had left. And although I didn't mind enjoying the evening by myself, I started calling out to my friends who I knew would be digging the bluesy sound and sweet sweet harmonica.

The name Deadman Flats sounded familiar, but I wasn't sure if I had ever seen them before. Well, I was in love before they even finished the sound check! Half of the first band joined them, including the harmonica. And although they were good without it, honestly, the harmonica put them over the top. The lyrics had me laughing out loud. I could not sit still. And before I knew it, I was singing along to songs I was hearing for the first time. All my bluegrass lovin' friends would have been eating that shit up! I wish they had been able to experience it with me.

I did my best to guess at the song titles, so I could hopefully share a playlist here. Hank O., the bassist for both bands, was patient enough to go through my jumbled mess of a list and help make sense of it. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any streaming music. He did, however, mention they are on itunes if you are into that.

Here's a little taste. 

While we were chatting, the owner of Lucky's and Kirby's (2 bars in town) came over and swapped info with him. Looks like my friends are going to get a second chance to hear them after all! Deadman Flats rock! Keep an eye out for them this fall at Lucky's.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

the Sunday Special: Lentil Salad

My meals typically consist of random combinations of what ever happens to be in the frig at the moment. This makes it quite difficult to remember and therefore recreate them, so I've started writing them down a little more consistently lately.

 My taco salad (as I call it) got a face lift with lentils. Everything besides the black beans and lentils came from the farmers market.

Lentil Salad
Red Cabbage
Red Bell Pepper (Yellow would be more fun)
Black Beans
Red Lentils
Green Onions

I usually top it with greek yogurt and sometimes salsa, though it was mighty tasty without either this time.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

the Sunday Special: My twist on Gma's Biscuits & Gravy

After posting my Grandma's Biscuits and Gravy, I decided to make my own. 

Lentil Biscuits & Mushroom Gravy

Yep, I can not resist making them healthier....and using what I have on hand. This Ground Seitan was on sale and I'm a sucker for a sale and for good graphic design. I don't usually buy faux meat...actually this was probably the first time.

All of my measuring cups are packed away, so I used a glass jar and a regular old spoon.

Mushroom Gravy: 
1 small Onion diced.
2 cloves of Garlic minced.
Used 8 oz of 'Sausage' (but really 4 oz would have been better...and really I wouldn't even bother with it at all unless there will be complaints without it.)
Used 1 jar (= aprox 2 cups) of non-condensed Creamy Mushroom Soup. (4 cups = 2 jars would have been better. Maybe even 6 cups.)
1 large handful of Spinach chopped.

Saute onion and garlic. Add 'sausage', heat through. Add soup. Lower temp and heat til warm. Add spinach. Stir. Turn off burner. When spinach has 'relaxed' and become 1 with the gravy, it's done and ready to serve.

Lentil Biscuits:
1/2 tahini jar (= approx 1 cup) cooked Red Lentils - chilled
1/2 tahini jar (= approx 1 cup) Whole Wheat Flour
4 flatted spoons (=approx 4 teaspoons) Baking Powder
approx 1/2 t Salt

Thoroughly mix salt and baking powder. Add flour and lentils and stir until lentils are equally coated. Then use hands to moosh/knead until it forms a ball. Add a bit of flour if too wet or a bit of water if too dry. Flatten the ball and back at 350 for about 10-12 minutes.