Getting to Know You

Mandy at The Complete Cook Book recently posted a “Get to Know You Series,” and it was a lot of fun to read. So since we’re away from our kitchen (sneak peak of where we are below), we figured this was a good time to share in the fun. Feel free to join along in the comments or on your blogs as well. Have fun and enjoy the rest of the week. good clean farm living

1. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Mike – Coffee; Kristy – San Pellegrino Limonata; Mr. N – Strawberry Lemonade; Miss A – Sparkling Grape Juice

2. What is your favorite alcoholic drink?

Mike – Red Wine; Kristy – Red Wine or Champagne

3. What is your favorite food?

Mike – Pizza; Kristy – Sushi; Mr. N – Pizza; Miss A – Quesadillas

4. What is your least favorite food?

Mike – Brie; Kristy – Beets; Mr. N – Beets; Miss A – Beets (no beet love here!)

5. What do you eat that others think is really weird?

Mike – Salt on Pizza; Kristy – Applesauce on Bread; Mr. N – Pesto (kids at school don’t quite get it); Miss A – Goldfish Crackers in Yogurt

6. What is your favourite thing to cook/bake?

Mike – Anything on the Smoker; Kristy – Pies and Sauces; Mr. N – Banana Bread; Miss A – Lemon Tarts

7. If you could only chose one, would it be sweet or savory?

Mike – Sweet; Kristy – Savory; Mr. N – Sweet; Miss A – Savory

8. What time do you usually eat your dinner during the week?

Mike and Kristy – either with the kids around 5:30 or after they go to bed around 9:00; Mr. N and Miss A – between 5:30 and 6:00

9. What kitchen item/s have you never owned?

Ice Cream Maker

10. What tip would you give to a newbie cooker / baker?

Mike – Be Patient; Kristy – Don’t be afraid to experiment; Mr. N – Have fun making it; Miss A – Put things in it you think will be good

11. What is the best vegetarian dish you have eaten?

M – Lentil burgers; Kristy – Vegetable lasagna, risotto or pasta; Mr. N – Salad; Miss A – Pasta

I should note here that we may have to revisit who won this year’s chopped challenge. While Miss A and I were declared winners, Mike’s lentil burgers are the only dish ever to have been repeated from a chopped challenge. They are really good and relatively easy to make.

12. What is the easiest meal you can cook?

Mike – Quesadillas; Kristy – Pasta; Mr. N – Peanut Butter & Jellies; Miss A – Pizza

13. If you could only grow 3 herbs in your garden, what would you grow?

Mike – Basil, sage and cilantro; Kristy – Basil, sage and rosemary; Mr. N – Basil, sage and parsley; Miss A – Basil, thyme and sage

14. What would you use as a substitute for salt?

Mike – Chili powder; Kristy – Cumin; Mr. N – Pepper; Miss A – Sugar

15. What 5 items would you pack for a quick and easy picnic or day out?

Mike – Havarti, Triscutts, grapes, salami and red wine; Kristy – white wine, brie, grapes, crackers and fig jelly; Mr. N – Bananas, pistachios, celery, peanut butter and water; Miss A – Mozzarella, grapes, ham, juice and more cheese

Thanks for the fun Mandy! Have a great week everyone. Now, back to vacation. :)

Short But Sweet

I’m late in posting this week. It’s been a whirlwind. We’re heading out on a little vacation this week before school starts and there’s always so much to do before leaving the house. This is especially the case when we come back to a school year in full swing. So this trip required a little more organization, so that once we get home we’re ready for the end of summer. So, much like summer, this recipe is short, but sweet. vegan cafe

I had another volunteer day recently. This time it was at the Thanks Jordan Foundation’s Raw Vegan Cafe. The restaurant, as the name suggests, serves all raw vegan cuisine. It’s also run by volunteers. Well, not entirely, there’s an owner, a chef, a teacher, and a few servers, but the rest of the kitchen help is all volunteer-based. The cafe is a non-profit with proceeds going toward cancer research. While I don’t think we’ll be going vegan or raw anytime soon, it was an absolute pleasure to work in the restaurant and I have to admit the food was amazing. I brought several items home and Mike and the kids agreed. They do a fabulous job – particularly with dessert. soaking almonds

And talk about an incredible volunteer opportunity – I got to work in a restaurant! How fun is that?! Not only did I get to help the community, I got to live out a little dream of mine. Even doing dishes was fun – too bad that doesn’t carry over to home. ;) While at the cafe, I had the opportunity to make the raw vegan taco “meat.” I did my best to replicate the recipe at home because after one bite, I was sold. Not only is it healthy and full of protein, but it has an incredible smoky flavor. It starts with almonds which are soaked for a bit. The almonds are then processed until they are crumb-like. chopped almonds

Next up are the carrots – peeled and chopped. carrots

They are then processed until crumb-like as well. chopped carrots

And then the carrots and almonds are mixed together – this creates the texture of the “meat.” carrots and almonds

Next it’s onto the sauce that will give the “meat” its smoky flavor. Again we turn to the food processor (gotta love a one pot meal) where we blend the remaining ingredients – garlic, agave, Tamari (gluten free soy sauce), cumin, fresh oregano, cayenne, chili powder and sun dried tomatoes. sun dried tomatoes and tamari

While processing the sauce, a bit of water is added and blended until smooth, or at least until there are no big chunks hiding in the sauce. taco sauce

The sauce is mixed together with the almond-carrot mixture and voila – you have your taco “meat.” vegan taco meat

We decided to serve some fresh sweet corn with our tacos. Mike took the kids outside for a lesson in shucking (Good thing they learned to shuck before heading to Miss C’s farm to feed the animals!). shucking corn

We seasoned our sweet corn with a mixture of olive oil, shallots and sage before tossing it on the grill. sweet corn

The sage and sweet corn combo is absolutely delicious. I never would have guessed it, but it’s really a good marriage of sweet and savory. shucking the sweet corn

But enough about that, back to the vegan tacos. So you might be wondering how these went over with my carnivorous husband and children. We served the taco meat on organic (albeit not raw) tortillas and topped them with fresh chopped avocado. vegan tacos

Believe it or not, the vegan tacos were a big hit. I’ve already admitted to being a fan of the smoky flavor, so these were 3-1/2 spoons for me. Much to my surprise, they were also 3-1/2 spoons for Mike. So you can be sure these don’t taste like what most meat lovers think of as vegan or raw. This stuff is tasty enough to have Mike ring in a near top mark! raw vegan tacos

The key to this meal (and the others I sampled) is the generous use of various herbs and seasonings. There’s nothing bland about this meal. Even Mr. N was impressed. He came in with 3-1/2 spoons as well. He couldn’t believe that it wasn’t meat. gluten free tacos

Unfortunately Miss A was not as impressed. This meal was a bit too spicy for her. She would have much preferred the raw vegan brownie (which both kids swore tasted just like a homemade brownie). She did enjoy her corn though as well as the fried sage, courtesy of Greg and Katherine over at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide. vegan taco night

Overall, this meal was a success and made for some great lunches the rest of the week. I think we’ll be making it again (with something on the side for Miss A). I never would have expected this much flavor out of raw food, but I guess when it’s done right, just like anything, it can be flavorful and satisfying.

Print this recipe: Vegan Raw Tacos

So for the next week, we’re going to head for some peace and quiet. So if we aren’t frequenting your blogs, you’ll know why. We’re heading somewhere we can cook, read, play and just be – the four of us – before the busy new school year kicks into high gear. You see, this year is going to be especially new for us…Miss A will start her first full day of school and her first full week of school. I’m not sure how I’m going to manage watching my baby get on a bus, but I know she’s ready. Mom’s just not ready. Childhood – another thing that is far too short, but sweet. Fortunately, I have a few more years of childhood with my babies…so here’s to the short and the sweet whether it’s summer, a good meal, childhood, vacations or any of those other things that we love so much. Cheers!

Lentils du Puy and the Archbishop of Canterbury

Well, we have finally reached the end of our French cooking adventure. It’s been a nice little tour through a bit of our heritage. We started with our coq a vin, dined on some delicious leeks, sampled some lovely sables with a delicate mousse, kicked it up a notch with some ratatouille and of course quieted things down with our souffles. As for our last French recipe, we received a special treat – a tin of French Lentils du Puy from the lovely Eva at kitcheninspirations when we met up in Canada earlier this summer. Lentils du Puy

Lentils du Puy are a highly regarded lentil and hail from the Le Puy region of France. Knowing these were special lentils, we’ve been waiting for just the right recipe to inspire us. Then after finding some tart cherries at the farmer’s market, I knew where we were headed – a Lentil and Seared Scallop Salad with a Cherry-Pom Vinaigrette. The recipe starts with the vinaigrette for which we used the tart cherries, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and a special bottle of pomegranate molasses courtesy of Barb at Profiteroles and Ponytails who you may recall, we also met in Canada. vinaigrette ingredients

We pureed the cherries and a shallot. We then mixed in the vinegars, molasses and some seasonings. After a bit longer in the food processor, we pushed the mixture through a sieve. We mixed the dressing with a bit of oil and placed the vinaigrette into the refrigerator to cool. making dressing

While the vinaigrette chilled we prepared the salad. We used fresh spinach, the lentils (of course!), goat cheese, a few sliced shallots and even a bit of bacon. bacon

Next we seared our scallops using a bit of fleur de sel for that extra French touch. We then served the salad topped with a scallop and a side of the cherry-pom vinaigrette. seared scallop salad

This was a delightful and filling meal. The lentils provided a firm texture and strong flavor which was complemented well by the vinaigrette and goat cheese. Lentils du Puy

I was nervous the strong flavors would overshadow the scallop, but it too worked providing a soft texture and flavor to the meal. It was a definite hit with both Mike and I coming in at a solid 3 spoons. Lentil salad

I was also a bit apprehensive about how this meal would go over with the kids. Well, as you can probably guess, we had mixed reviews. Miss A, not a big fan of salad just yet, was not too impressed. She liked the lentils and ate her scallop. She even picked out the bacon and cheese. The spinach and dressing were left behind. I suppose she prefers her salads deconstructed. It was 2 spoons for her. Lentil and Seared Scallop Salad with Cherry-Pom Vinaigrette

Mr. N on the other hand was a bit less picky. He ate his whole salad and didn’t complain. He too said it was only 2 spoons; although I suspect if I made this again he would eat it. lentils

This was a flavorful and bright way to serve the lentils, especially in the summer. We enjoyed it so much in fact, that we served it as a side salad (minus the scallop) to Friend Sue and Richard for dinner the following weekend. It went very well with the gluten free meatloaf that Friend Sue made for the evening. Perhaps she’ll let me share the recipe soon. It was a winner for sure! Until then, here’s the recipe for the salad: Lentil and Seared Scallop Salad with Cherry-Pom Vinaigrette

I should mention that if you happen to have several extra cherries lying about after making the vinaigrette, it never hurts to toss them in a crisp with some other fruits hiding in the fridge. We made this Cherry, Blueberry, Peach crisp for dessert that evening. I think you can safely assume this one was 4 spoons all around. Sadly, I don’t have a recipe as I just threw it together for a basic, but delicious crisp. cherry peach blueberry crisp

Well, that successfully concludes our French cooking summer. It’s been a delicious little adventure and it was quite a bit of fun to delve into our own family history. But it’s not all French in our blood. We have quite a bit of English as well, and Mr. N recently channeled his inner Brit to play the Archbishop of Canterbury in a student version of Excalibur. the archbishop

It was his best performance to-date and so much fun for him (and us!). He even developed – and maintained – a quite acceptable British accent. It was a smashing success. His Excellency

Perhaps we should think about revisiting English food as well, but first we have our birthday meal wrap-ups, a stateside adventure and then once school starts we’ll be selecting our new country for the next round of international cooking. I think we’ll be heading back to the Middle East. Enjoy your week everyone! Cheerio and au revoir!