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Indian cooking is great for the Fast because most of it is already vegan or pretty darn close.  The key to flavors is lots of spices and time.

In this recipe, the essential ingredient is the fenugreek leaves.  I could not find them in our grocery store so I had to order them online.

The finished curry should be slightly thick like a good gravy.  It shouldn’t be runny.  You can mash some beans at the end to thicken the sauce.

You can also make this recipe in the Instant-pot.  To do that: soak the beans over night, make the curry, add the beans, and cook on high pressure for 25-30 minutes, let the pressure down naturally, add the fenugreek leaves, simmer gently, serve

Ingredients

1 cup kidney beans soaked overnight with 1 teaspoon salt

1 large onion (1-1/2 cups) chopped

2-3 tomatoes (1 cup) chopped

3 garlic cloves pasted or grated on a microplane

1 inch of ginger pasted or grated on a microplane

1 green chile (optional) pasted or grated on a microplan

1 teaspoon ground coriander (or roasted and ground fresh coriander seed)

1/4 teaspoon red chile powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon crushed kasuri methi (fenugreek leaves)

2 tablespoons oil

1 1/2 cups of reserved bean cooking water or plain water

**Family size should double this recipe

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Rinse soaked beans and cook 1 hour on the stove top or until tender, or 40-45 minutes under high pressure Instant pot.  Reserve cooking liquid.
  3. Make the curry: Heat oil in the pot and gently saute onions until they are lightly brown or even to caramelization
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, and green chile past and saute on low until fragrant (a very short time)
  5. Add the tomatoes and saute until soft, 2-3 minutes
  6. Add all spices, turmeric, red chile, coriander, garam masala, stirring constantly
  7. Add the beans, stirring
  8. Add 1 1/2 cups of bean cooking liquid (the start helps the sauce thicken) or plain water, stir
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened
  11. Add the fenugreek leaves, stir and simmer briefly
  12. Serve over rice
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Here’s a scandalously easy recipe.

Honestly, it’s tempting to make really elaborate vegan versions of non-fasting foods and spend a ton of time and money on them.  Food is one of my greatest weaknesses so I feel you.  But, for the Fast we should keep it cheap, simple, and healthy.  So, for those nights that you’re out of time and energy -a boxed mix.  You hopefully have some pre-cooked beans in your freezer or a can of beans in the pantry.

Two years ago the kids and I stopped in New Orleans on a road trip.  We were graciously hosted by the priestly family of my favorite Greek friend.  We visited Father and Presvytera’s church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the oldest Greek church in North and South America.  The parish was beautifully restored after Katrina related flooding.  Presvytera’s parting gift to us was a couple of boxes of Zatarain’s.  I’d never had it before and I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor.

Because the beans and rice in the mix are parboiled they won’t tide your over for days, but I like to add an additional cup of cooked red beans for every box mix.

Ingredients

1 cup salted cooked red beans (small red  beans or kidney beans), or one can of beans

1 box of Zatarains Dirty Rice mix (or the Aldi brand is pretty good)

1 cup of diced red or orange bell peppers

**Note- this serves 2-3 people, for a family double all of the above

  1. Lord, bless my work.
  2. Prepare according to box directions.
  3. 2-3 minutes before the rice is finished stir in diced bell peppers
  4. Serve.

 

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You won’t beleef how much you’ll enjoy this stir fry.  (That’s for you, Gabe.)

This recipe is adapted from Jet Tila’s broccoli beef recipe.  Instead of using the first ingredients to marinate some delicious, savory, satisfying meat, you’ll turn it into a sauce for some tofu.  It actually works, you just have to do the tofu right.

First, press, drain, and dry your tofu block.  Place the tofu between two plates and pop something heavy on top for an hour or so.  Pour off the liquid.

Cut the tofu in half longitudinally then into 1/4 inch slices and fry until the edges look dry.  Flip and fry the back.  That’s it!  It’s easy and it makes the texture much better.

 

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Side note: Smaller might be safer.  Cut smaller cubes of tofu so your children don’t actually choke while they pretend to gag on the tofu.

Sadly, there’s no way around the oyster sauce here if you don’t eat shellfish during the fast.  However, there are “oyster” sauces without oyster juice in them, just read the ingredients and decide what you think is best.

Ingredients

1 pound broccoli florets

1 tablespoon soy sauce 

1 teaspoon sesame oil 

1 teaspoons cornstarch (1 tsp makes a clingy sauce, 2 tsps makes a sticky sauce) 

1/3 cup vegetable broth

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1/4 cup oyster sauce 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Drain and slice tofu.  Fry until dry on the edges, 2 or more minutes per side.  When complete, remove from wok or skillet and rest.
  2. Cut broccoli to desired size and steam on the stovetop or microwave for 1 -2 minutes.
  3. Mix soy sauce, seasme oil, cornstarch, vegetable broth, rice vinegar, and oyster sauce in a small bowl.
  4. Heat oil in skillet or wok until hot.  Stir in garlic until fragrant, add broccoli for 2-3 minutes until cooked to desired softness.
  5. Drizzle sauce over cooked broccoli in skillet, stirring, until slightly thickened.  Stir tofu back into skillet.  Serve over rice.

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A simple soup with a creamy texture using cashew cream.  Cashew “cream” is made by soaking cashews overnight then blending them into a very smooth consistency.

The cashew cream doesn’t add much flavor but it does deliver some fat and protein.  However, this is a  light carby soup and it might not stick with you. So, if you have blood sugar issues and carby makes you crabby pass this right over.

If you use soy you might balance the carbs with a bit of soy milk.  Alternatively, you could use a 1/2 cup of tahini provided the tahini is pretty oily and not over roasted.

If you don’t give a hoot about the protein then use any old non dairy milk.

My kids love this soup so we also eat it during ordinary time with milk instead of cream.

This recipe is adapted from Robert Irvine’s on Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

8 cups vegetable stock

6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces

4 leeks (whites only), thoroughly washed and sliced

3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon of salt

pepper

1 cup of raw cashews for cashew cream (or 1/2 cup tahini)

Cashew cream:

  • 1 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight in enough water to completely cover
  1.  Drain soaked cashews, add cashews and 3/4 cup of water into a blender or use a stick blender and blend until absolutely smooth

Directions

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Put the vegetable stock, potatoes, leeks, celery, bay leaf and thyme in a large pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Boil until the potatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor), blend the soup until smooth.
  4. Pour the soup into a medium pot; add the cashew cream and simmer briefly.  Serve.

 

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The Lenten Pantry

Some ideas for the Lenten pantry if you’re new to Orthodoxy.  If you’re experienced and you’d like to add something, tell me in the comments.  These are the things I keep around for all of the recipes you’ll read on this page.

Dry Pantry Goods

  • Better than Bouillon vegetable base
  • Cartons of vegetable broth
  • A small variety of canned beans
  • Dry beans (black, navy/white, chickpeas, and kidney beans)
  • Lentils, red, green, and brown
  • Nuts
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Powdered peanut butter to add to oatmeal or other hot cereals
  • Quinoa
  • Pea protein (mix it into a smoothie or with water for a boost)
  • Pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Rice noodles
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Mung beans for sprouting
  • Sprouting seed varieties
  • Onions, potatoes, garlic

Freezer Stock

  • Shrimp
  • Precooked beans, two cups in a container
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetable patties for breakfast

Refrigerator

  • Tahini for drizzling on vegetables, adding to hot cereals, and making hummus
  • Lemon juice
  • Fast friendly salad dressings
  • Non dairy creamer
  • Unsweetened juice, like V8
  • Earth balance spread
  • Baby carrots and sweet peppers for dipping in hummus
  • Variety of hummus
  • Mayo alternative

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If shellfish are on your allowed list you might enjoy this curry.  It is mild and kid friendly.  If you don’t eat creatures try bean sprouts or tofu for protein.

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple magazine October 2004

Ingredients

1 large unpeeled tart apple, such as Granny Smith

3 tablespoons vegetable oil (omit if necessary and gently simmer in water)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 cup frozen peas

1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened, full fat, coconut milk

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and veined (I use the 12 ounce bag from Aldi and it’s plenty)

1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

Directions

  1.  Lord, bless my work.
  2. Quarter,core, and slice the apple into 1/4 inch thick pieces; set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the ginger, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and golden, 7-8 minutes.
  4. Add the curry powder, coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes
  5. Add the tomatoes, apple, and 1 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cook about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the peas and coconut milk and cook for 5-8 minutes.
  7. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes until just cooked.  Stir in the cilantro.
  8. Serve over brown rice.

45 minutes, 4 servings

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After I had my daughter, eleven years ago, Proeteasa Joan brought me this lovely cake along with Florentine Cannelini Soup.  She hoped that the iron from the molasses and the spinach would help me recover.  I’m still touched by her thoughtfulness.

She gave me a copy of the recipe with these notes:

This heirloom recipe for Molasses Cake was found in the 1920 cookbook of Therese Farrell.  Cooks in the old days (remembering my mother and grandmother, now) were artistic in their cooking and thus, a cup of flour may not necessarily be a level cup because they cooked by feel and by experience.  It may be that this batter is a bit thin, however, if it was I would still try it first and see if it worked.  Again, we have to remember that the gluten content of today’s flour is higher and less flour can make more volume than it once did.

I like this cake with cool applesauce and a dash of cinnamon.

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup molasses

3/4 cup lard (use shortening or some other suitable vegan solid fat)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 level teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 level teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 heaping teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups strong, black coffee at room temperature

 

  1. Lord, bless my work.
  2. Grease and flour 9 x 13 cake pan.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Cream together sugar, molasses, and shortening.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and baking soda.
  5. Cool 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) strong, black coffee to room temperature.
  6. Combine the dry mixture with the lard/sugar/molasses mixture.
  7. While combining, slowly add the black coffee and stir vigorously until all ingredients are well mixed and a smooth batter is formed.
  8. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes.  Test with a toothpick or butter knife.

 

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