Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving - Harvest Feast

 I'm pretty new to the idea of Thanksgiving. It has been 10 years of learning this tradition , and still very is so much to discover. As a vegetarian I do have a little bit different approach to that day. No pressure on perfect turkey that day in my kitchen.

 The most essential part that I so adore the most about that day is mandatory rule for all family members to help out with cooking.  So far I didn't even have to ask for help, kids just flee the kitchen with joyful heartwarming need to help mama with preparation of the FEAST.  Oliver and Maya are pro potato peelers and really wish for bigger gatherings and more potato dishes. So far we are stuck with sweet potato fries, baked mini potatoes and mashed potatoes...they said that next year we should have two more variations.

  Amelie is definitely my pro chopper, she actually manged to make Waldorf  salad all by herself !

 Delicious Waldorf Salad was one of my finest discoveries of culinary adventures during  my very first Thanksgiving dinner.Simple recipe : celery, apples, raisins,walnuts, lettuce and yummy dressing mayo/ yogurt/ honey with a little bit of chives totally blends beautify with potato dishes or succotash.

Apple Waldorf salad recipe
  • 3 or 4 apples, unpeeled, cut from the core, and chopped into bite size pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 cup celery, cut in long sticks
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted taste better
  • 1/3 cup yougurt 
  • 2 table spoons of mayo
  •  honey, splash or 2 
  • pinch of salt
  • chives, as much as you wish 
  • lettuce , about 2 cups, shredded or chopped
Don’t bother peeling the apples unless their skins are really unattractive. Cut up 3 or 4 of them, until you get about 2-1/2 or 3 cups of chopped apples. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples. The acid in the lemon juice prevents the apples from turning brown. The raisins will taste best if you plump them first. Do this by measuring them into a cereal bowl and adding enough warm tap water to cover them completely. Allow them to sit for a few minutes, absorbing the water, and softening up. Drain them very well when you need them. I actually squeeze them to make sure they are very dry. Chop up the celery, it should take about 2 stalks or so.Toast walnuts in the oven on 350F for about 7 min. Mix everything together in a medium sized bowl with the mayonnaise, yogurt , honey and salt, coating all of the ingredients with the dressing. It is now ready to serve, or you can chill it overnight and serve it tomorrow instead. This is so crunchy and chewy, perfect sweet and tangy salad.

  Another  great family tradition for that day is baking those delicious Rolls Baked in a Jar . Kids skip the rosemary part, but it still tastes pretty awesome, and they love the idea of many little steps of baking that goodness ...of course with grand finally of pulling out the rolls from the jars.

 And yes, those yummy rolls go fantastically well  with cranberry sauce, that  kids make. Super easy recipe, fresh orange juice, cinnamon sticks, maple syrup , stir it here and very and hear it pop .

 One of my favorite foods for that day is fantastic succotash , traditional Native American food dish made with primarily of corn  and lima beans or other shell beans. The very first step is very important - blanching onions with butter ! that gives the whole dish a little bit of sweetness. After that add peppers, red or green, saute a little bit, add beans and corn, cook about 15 minutes. I like adding herbs as well, sage, thyme and oregano bring a nice earthy flavors of harvest season.

  We also have mushroom spinach tart, baked brussel sprouts with almonds ( yum), vegetarian gravy made with mushroom stock and nutritional yeast ( yes, that is super yum ).

   The grand finally for the evening is the glorious pumpkin pie made with assistance of Oliver -my sweet pastry chef  and Maya -dough rolling girl .

 Making vegetarian Thanksgiving feast is totally possible, it happens every year in my house. We celebrate our family with delicious foods giving thanks for a delightful harvest . And we let one turkey run wild.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adventures in Smorgasburg

 I do LOVE food, that is definitely one of my big passions, making it and eating it, and sharing that joy with my friends is the way I would spend the rest of my life I only could. Last weekend I was lucky enough to go for super exciting trip to my old neighborhood Williamsburg. The main reason was to experience the wonderful foods of Brooklyn's Flea Food Market - Smorgasburg  filled with local, fresh goods and  food/ health consciousness chefs, cooks, bakers. And yes, that was a very successful trip indeed. I'm so grateful to have a fantastic friend that shares the same love for food, she was my witness that all that amazing and delicious food was actually real, and it wasn't only my dream. It was truly difficult to taste all the goodness with only one stomach, but I must say we did manage to do a lot of tasting.

  My favorite food of all was homemade tempeh, absolutely amazing , I had to take extra home. Of course my little Maya the Sweet Tooth Princess was in heaven with the mini cupcakes and cookies that now I have to figure out how to make at home. This little sweet wheat free goodies called sandcastles are  on my 'baking challenge list'. Ingredient list is pretty simple : organic whole rye flour, organic extra virgin coconut oil , arrowroot , organic evaporated cane juice, sea salt, organic pumpkin seeds, organic Vermont maple sugar, organic cardamom, guar gum...adjusting proportion will be fun :). If anyone has an idea how to mix it all up , please let me know.
  Also kids had a great opportunity to taste fresh homemade kambucha.Yes, the face expressions were unforgettable, now we will be trying to grow some yummy tea at home. One of my friends has started his little production already, can't wait to taste it . I will be brewing my kambucha after holiday madness. Yes, it is pretty exciting for sure.

   Now we have to wait till spring for more adventures in Smorgasburg. The market is shutting down for the winter season. And during long winter afternoons I will try to replicate some of the greatest foods I have eaten .

Friday, November 11, 2011

Seasonal Baking Adventures

  Most likely everyone will agree that fall is absolutely perfect time for baking. My family definitely has that sort of instinct rooted deep in our taste buds. These days we are having lots of pies, cookies, brownies, muffins etc. Since the boys are home with me, they took over the title of my left and right hand assistant. And they usually will instigate and inspire all sorts of baking adventures in the house. I would say Oliver would be the right hand assistant  and the head of choosing the baking project and well, Gavin will be my left hand,  he doesn't have that much to say, but he  is absolutely crucial for a great outcome of the master piece ...and few spills here and very. I'm must say for sure that baking with this boys speeds up the whole process, now I wonder how soon they will take over my kitchen, and if I will be able to let them do that all the way.

  So far on the top of baking list is glorious Pumpkin Pie. I love using simple recipe for crust - Pate Brisee form Martha Stewart , which probably is a universal french pie dough invention with adorable name. Usually I will mix whole wheat flour with white flour 1:1, for health and crunch reasons. As it comes to pumpkin puree, we steam the squash and save the seeds for snacks. Some people like to bake pumpkin , hopefully one day I will try that technique  as well. And the secret  pie recipe that I have discovered about 5 years ago comes form this source . This recipe and website is super informative, whoever wrote that is a professional pie maker and loves his craft.

 Last Monday I have tried a little twist on traditional pie, we made many tiny and cute mini were in love and inhale half of the batch. And yes, we served this goodness with homemade whipped cream, and adding real vanilla instead of vanilla extract takes this whole baking and tasting adventure to level of highest yumminess.

 And after all this baking adventures, when all the kids are asleep and dreaming about pies, I sew away into Holiday Season. My newest addition to Holiday Collection turned out to be a super cute little red holiday tree garland, made with cozy red felt and scraps form my old  projects.Now I have only one more garland to make to complete my collection.  A little bit of felt and precious fabric scraps can really make people smile and be sentimental about Christmas. I'm so happy to make it happen.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Madness

 Halloween - so far I don't really get why every year kids must go on the candy hunt and after that they  are willingly robbed by parents from all the trophy they harvested...  But I have to admit, I do love  the dress-up part of that day. And I do love the excuse to make the dresses for my girls . Every year I spent week of sleepless nights sewing away the creative process that just happens. It has been 9 years since I started to sew for Halloween,  I have learned so much trough out the whole process. In the beginning it was following the patterns, now I just make it happen. It all comes down to a little bit of practice, persistence and allowing your mind to bring your imagination into reality...and some good coffee at 5pm to make your creative juicy flowing after kids are in bed :).

  And the most rewording part is the big smile and sparkles in the eyes when kids wake up in the morning and see their dream dress come to life. I hope one day their will be able to bring they own dreams to life just like that.