A very kaleful vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

Too tired to say anything interesting! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I have an awesome new roommate. More on him later. Sorry I haven’t posted. Here’s my menu for the week. (Hopefully all this kale will restore my energy.)

Gluten-free Menu Swap this week has the theme Simple Meals, hosted by Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness. Lots more meal plans at OrgJunkie. Yay!

Thai yellow curry

Monday
Tunaless casserole (add frozen peas)
Raw kale salad with raw corn, avocado, and basil

Tuesday
Thai yellow curry with tofu, potatoes, basil, cabbage, and Chinese broccoli
Thai cucumber salad
Brown basmati rice

Wednesday
T’s bday dinner, menu TBD

Thursday
Red lentils & kale with coconut, spring onions, and crispy shallots

Friday (soak 1/2 cup cashews in advance)
Kale with millet and tahini sauce (I lightly steam the kale first)
Crash hot potatoes

Saturday
Roasted sweet potato and lentil salad
Farmer’s market vegetable side

Sunday
TBD based on farmer’s market

Shopping list, store: 1 cup tvp, 1 tsp dulse flakes, 1 bunch kale, 1 ear corn, 2 yellow potatoes, tofu, Chinese broccoli, 2 cucumbers, 1 lg shallot, 1 cup spinach

Shopping list, farmer’s market: 2 bunches kale, 3 spring onions, 1 lb small red new potatoes, 2 sweet potatoes, veggie for side dish, veggies for Sunday’s meal

Celebrating a full pantry with a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

I let myself completely run out of olive oil, then grapeseed oil, then sesame oil, then peanut oil. I ran out of chickpea flour which meant no socca pizza for fast and easy meals. I ran out of balsamic, onions, thyme, tofu, tempeh, and tamari, and how do you cook without the basics? (My mom would laugh at me for considering balsamic a “basic” – I remember I amused her greatly when I called her from college and said, “I don’t know how our grocery bill is so high, we just bought the essentials, you know cheese, bread, vegetables, capers…”) I’ve still managed to feed myself pretty well thanks to the farmer’s market and the generosity of friends and family. (I was treated to dinner or cooked for three times last week!)

Socca Pizza

Late last week I finally managed to make the grand tour, from the Indian market to Rainbow Grocery, my vegetarian co-op, to Trader Joe’s. I really love the full-pantry feeling. It just makes me feel so safe and secure. And it makes me want to cook! My well-stocked pantry has inspired my first proper menu plan in over a month. (I’ve still been doing less formal private menu planning – I can’t really remember how I used to cook and shop without it – but it’s better when I get to share it with you!)

Edamame, Corn, and Tofu Succotash

This week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap is hosted by Heather of Celiac Family with the theme of corn. I am super, super excited about corn. I didn’t make it to the farmer’s market last week so I’m not sure if it has arrived there yet (or actually if any of the farmers at my market grow corn – there are so many fewer produce stands than there were last year), but I’ve certainly been seeing it in all the grocery stores, from Rainbow and Whole Foods to Trader Joe’s. Corn is one of my favorite parts of summer. Like asparagus, it is an entirely seasonal treat that I only get to eat for a few months a year. Unlike asparagus, it doesn’t cost $6 a pound. I’ll be trying a new recipe with corn this week, the Post Punk Kitchen’s fresh corn johnnycakes. And I’ll be making one of my favorite easy dinners, The Splendid Table’s edamame and tofu succotash with fresh corn. If there is indeed corn at the farmer’s market, I’ll get a bunch and make my absolute favorite corn recipe, Fresh Corn Polenta, every morning. Oh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it…

Fresh Corn Polenta with Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes

Have a great week of cooking, everyone! For a giant round-up of menu plans, check out the Menu Plan Monday compendium over at orgjunkie.

Monday
Socca pizza with chard, cream cheese, and red onion
Impressionist cauliflower

Tuesday
Red lentils & kale with coconut and crispy shallots

Wednesday
Fresh corn johnnycakes
Brazilian shredded collard greens (Viva Vegan, sub collards for kale)
Warm sweet potato and black bean salad

Thursday
Edamame and tofu succotash with fresh corn (marinate/broil tofu instead of buying smoked)
Green salad

Friday
Chickpea picatta with mashed potatoes

Saturday
Leftovers

Sunday
Tempeh helper,
Steamed broccoli
Chocolate cupcake brownies

Shopping list: 3 red onions, chard, 2-3 spring onions, 1 bunch kale, 5 shallots, 4 ears corn, collard greens, 3 sweet potatoes, frozen shelled edamame, tofu, 1 large tomato, scallions, 4 cups arugula, potatoes for mashing, (capers?), broccoli

we are XGFX!

A while back I posted about joining up with the super awesome vegan, gluten-free blog hub some of my fellow bloggers put together. It has been so great to have a place I can go to surf food blogs and know that every single recipe is one I can make, every single photo is one I can drool over without heartbreak.

Well, the blog hub was just the first phase in a grand plan for vegan, gluten-free world dominance. And today, my friends, today we take over the world!!

Or today, at any rate, is the day that the kickass site xgfx.org goes live. Xgfx.org is a miraculous playland of vegan, gluten-free goodness. (A helpful definition from the site: “xgfx is the way we designate food and other items that are both vegan and gluten free. We like using xgfx because typing out “vegan and gluten-free” over and over can be tiresome.”) The site has its own blog, tips for baking and dining out xgfx style, and all kinds of resources for living the xgfx life. The parts I’m most excited about are the community recipe archive – sign up, post recipes! I have! – and the product and publication reviews. Gluten-free vegan food, cookbooks, etc., are expensive, so it’s excellent to have a place to get the skinny on the latest cookie or pretzel, especially for the stuff that sounds amazing but would have to be ordered online. No one wants to pay shipping charges to get a dud!

I’m part of the review squadron, which hopefully someday will mean free treats delivered to my door for me to pass judgement on, but so far consists of me raving fanatically about the THREE boxes of Mary’s cookies I bought and devoured. I am so happy to be part of such an awesome community – the work that Kittee, Jessy, and Allyson have done in making xgfx.org happen has been phenomenal. The site is so beautiful, the graphics and design are so engaging, and most importantly the site really fills a previously unmet need.

Pan-seared summer squash with mint and garlic, Impressionist cauliflower

In honor of the xfgx.org launch, I have designed a menu for next week that is entirely vegan and gluten-free! (That’s a little joke, see?) The Gluten-Free Menu Swap this week is hosted by Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness with the theme of sugar-free delights. I think I’ll use this as an opportunity to put my Vita-Mix to the use I’ve been dreaming of – I want to recreate the mint-chocolate-chip raw milkshake from Cafe Gratitude. It’s made using fresh mint and cacao nibs, and it’s totally divine – I’ve been rounding up recipes to cannibalize in my attempts to recreate it, and if I have success, I’ll let you know! (I’ll probably let you know even if I fail, ’cause I kind of like talking about my cooking failures, too.)

As always, you’ll find a ton of menu plans in the Menu Plan Monday roundup over at OrgJunkie!

Monday ~ Family Passover seder

Tuesday (defrost 5 cups stock)
“I am DIY” rice bowl with black rice, chard, kale, and avocado (save some kale for African stew)
Mint chocolate raw milkshake

Wednesday (marinate tofu for tomorrow)
African stew with millet, chick peas, and kale

Thursday
The crispiest tofu with vegan ranch dressing
Fatiguer’s broccoli

Friday (start cabbage salad tonight)
Potato galette
Impressionist cauliflower
Pan-seared summer squash with garlic and mint

Saturday
Que sera silken cabbage salad
Arepas with pinto beans and vegan cream cheese

Sunday
Leftovers

Shopping list: Mint, chard, kale, avocado, 1 lb sweet potato, broccoli/broccoli rabe, garlic, 2.5 lb Yokon Gold potatoes, cauliflower, 2 lb summer squash, 2 lemons, green cabbage, vegan cream cheese

Que Sera cabbage salad

An abbreviated menu plan

I didn’t organize myself in time to get a menu plan up for Menu Plan Monday, but I still need to figure out what I’m eating for the rest of the week! As always, I have a few recipes left over from last week to carry over. It’s also always interesting to see which dishes I am enthusiastic about when planning a menu and then end up having no actual desire to cook. Those are the recipes that I sometimes carry over several weeks before finally realizing they just aren’t going to get made.

Wednesday
Spinach, avocado, and grapefruit salad
Tempeh reubens

Thursday
Probably delivery of some sort while playing an epic all-day game of Diplomacy before going bowling!

Friday
Coconut curry noodles
Thai cucumber salad
Broccoli salad with peanut sauce

Saturday
Dinner out with my mom and Disher before my sister’s birthday party

Sunday
Harissa, cucumber, and cheddar panini
“Black & white” panini with jack and olive tapenade
Green salad

Shopping list: Tofu, carrots, cucumbers, 1 C. mushrooms, coconut milk?, white vegan cheese, hothouse tomato, cannellini beans, romaine

A quiet and colorful vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

Nothing much to say this week. I’m feeling kind of blue, and I just want to get my menu posted. There are so many things I’ve been cooking that I want to tell you about, but I’ve been busy with financial woes and pre-grad-school stuff so I’ll have to get to them when I can.

“Mish-mash bowl” with quinoa, fleur de sel, flax oil, and nori, topped with sweet potatoes, broccoli, avocado, grated carrot, radishes, pumpkin seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, parsley, mint, and green onion, with tahini sauce (picture taken before the tahini sauce, 'cause it's prettier!)

I hope this week’s menu isn’t overly ambitious. It has a lot of stuff I’ve made before, so that should make things easier. This week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap is hosted by Angela of Angela’s Kitchen with the theme of celebrations. I wish I were feeling more celebratory right now. Sorry! My favorite celebration that has been chronicled on my blog is the first, extremely ambitious vegan, gluten-free Thanksgiving that I hosted for family and friends. I love parties and dinners and celebrations! It just happens that this week I am cooking for one, and I’m not feeling too festive about it.

Edamame, Corn, and Tofu Succotash

I hope everyone has a fantastic week of cooking! For the ultimate Menu Plan Monday round-up, check out the giant compendium over at OrgJunkie.

Spinach salad with avocado and pink grapefruit)

Monday
Edamame and tofu succotash (marinate/broil tofu instead of buying smoked, save some for mish-mash bowl)
Roasted broccoli with lemon zest

Tuesday
Gnocchi in vodka sauce
“Venice in your mouth” escarole

Wednesday
Spinach, avocado, and grapefruit salad
Tempeh reubens

Thursday
Mish-mash bowl with quinoa, steamed kale, avocado, sweet potato, grated carrots, radishes, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax oil, nori, and tahini sauce

Friday
Chickpea picatta

Saturday
Coconut curry noodles

Sunday
Leftovers?

Shopping list 1: Broccoli, tofu, frozen corn, frozen edamame, tomato, scallions, escarole, 5 oz. spinach, 2 avocados, grapefruit, tempeh

Shopping list 2: Sweet potato, radishes, kale, 1 C. shallots, 4 C. arugula, carrots, 1 C. mushrooms, coconut milk?

A vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday, hold the commentary

I have a long week ahead of me, so I’m just going to post my menu without any extra commentary. This week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap is hosted by wonderful Wendy of Celiacs in the House with the theme of noodles, in honor of National Noodles Month! (Who knew? Wendy did!) I’ll be making Sunrise Noodles this week, a perpetual favorite here, so easy and so satisfying.

As always, you’ll find many more menu plans (with an ever-increasing number of vegan participants!) at the giant Menu Plan Monday compendium over at OrgJunkie.

Sunrise noodles with gingered greens

Monday (strain, grind, and ferment dosa batter)
Nori rolls with raw sunflower seed pate (follow directions in Vitamix p.269)
Roasted sweet potatoes with red onions
Beginner blueberry kale smoothie

Tuesday
Potato spinach pea patties with green chutney
Red lentil dahl
Pickled onions
Rice

Wednesday
Sunrise noodles with gingered greens and tofu

Thursday
Cauliflower and red onion uttapam
Coconut chutney
Ethiopian red lentil soup as sambar

Friday-Sunday ~ Meals with family

Extra: Crockpot caramelized red onions

Shopping list 1: 4 large or 6 medium tan-fleshed/white skinned sweet potatoes, 2 C. parsnip, 2 carrots, cucumber, sprouts, avocado, 2 potatoes, 2 C. spinach

Shopping list 2: Red chard, tofu, green onions, 3 C. spinach, cauliflower, 1 lb potatoes

Behold!

When my mom called to tell me she had a birthday present for me (my birthday was at the end of January, but I’m terrible at figuring out something to ask for, so I put it off as long as possible and hadn’t yet picked anything), but that it was impossible to bring it on BART (that’s our subway) so I should come by her house with the car, my friend and I had a great time speculating what it could be. We ultimately decided it was a helper monkey that would scamper about and wash dishes for me.

When I unwrapped it, it would be an understatement to say my jaw dropped, I was stunned speechless, and my socks were knocked waaay off. (That last one is a turn of phrase. Socks stayed on in real life.) I was so proud of myself at Christmastime for actually having a list of things I wanted that I could pass on to my mom – that’s how I ended up with all those awesome cookbooks. I keep the list for myself, of wishes big and small, and when I emailed the list to my mom it was annotated, “And, just for fun: Vitamix 5200 blender (hahahahah, a girl can dream, right? I need to get married so I can register for one!).” I would never seriously ask my mom for a $500 blender for Christmas. That would be absurd.

But apparently last month the stars aligned when a friend asked if my mom wanted to use her very significant employee discount before she left her job, and Vitamix blenders were one of the items her company sold. And my incredible, loving, generous mom figured “it’s now or never,” picked the fanciest model they had (the Professional Series 500), and completely made my day, my week, my year. The next seven years, even (the Vitamix comes with a seven year warranty), and it even seems common for Vitamix blenders to last for decades.

I’ve just unpacked it and have begun to watch the enclosed “Getting Started” DVD, so I’ll write more at a later date about actually using it. Today it is my delightful project to plan a menu for the week that highlights my new toy, puts it through its paces, and lets me explore all that it can do.

This week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap is hosted by Cheryl, our organizer, at her blog Gluten Free Goodness. The theme she picked is “quick and easy,” and that’s one of the most enticing aspects of the Vitamix. You can make hot soup in the blender. The blades go so fast they can actually heat soup. I found a fun blog, Cindalou’s Kitchen Blues, with lots of vitamix recipes, and one of my favorite features is that she shows a picture of the ingredients in the blender before she blends them. Check out this post with a picture of the ingredients of a carrot-pear smoothie. Two whole carrots and a whole pear. You just put the carrots in the blender without cutting them, and the pear without coring it. Because the Vitamix blends with such strength that it makes everything perfectly smooth and you are just getting extra fiber? Even with pear core/seed stuff? This is somewhat unbelievable to me, but I am certainly excited to start experimenting! Considering that my current blender is iffy about frozen fruit and absolutely balks at ice, this is a huge step up for me in the field of blending.

For a huge compendium of menu plans from all over the web, check out OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday round-up. And without further ado, let’s get blending!

So many tasks the Vitamix can perform! (Sorry for blurry.) I used this as my guide in deciding what to make this week.

Monday (defrost 1 C. stock)
Quick and easy potato soup
Tomato rosemary scones

Tuesday
Spinach artichoke dip (so happy to find a recipe that doesn’t call for 1 C. vegan mayo and 1 C. vegan sour cream!) follow directions in Vitamix book, p. 135
Mary’s crackers
Triple berry smoothie (Vitamix book p. 38)

Wednesday (defrost 8 cups stock)
Carrot ginger soup with cashew cream (One Bite at a Time p. 30, make 1/2 recipe cream)
Savory Swiss chard pie
Frozen yogurt (Vitamix p. 226)

Thursday (defrost 3 cups stock, soak sunflower seeds for tomorrow)
Triple corn soup
Salad with creamy avocado dressing

Friday
Leftovers

Saturday
Nori rolls with raw sunflower seed pate (follow directions in Vitamix p.269)
Green smoothie

Sunday
Potato spinach pea patties with green chutney
Red lentil dahl
Pickled onions
Rice

Extras:
Vegan flourless chocolate cake – made in a vita-mix

Shopping list: Frozen spinach, TJ’s soy yogurt to freeze, 3 lb carrots, 1 C. cashews, 1 bunch chard, frozen fruit, 1 lb frozen corn (+ extra), romaine, 3 avocados, 1 C. sunflower seeds, 2 C. parsnip, cucumber/sprouts (for nori rolls)?, apple, kale, 2 cups spinach, green onions

Doing it ourselves on a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

It’s my turn to host the delightful Gluten Free Menu Swap this week. Each week the host chooses a theme and a group of gluten-free bloggers posts a week of menus touching on that theme. Inspired by last week’s Urban Homesteader’s Day of Action (which I wrote about at length in a previous post) I chose the theme of DIY/MYO (do-it-yourself/make-your-own) ingredients.

Bi bim bap mixed with homemade kimchi

As people who love food, who care about our health, who are trying to save money, and who follow gluten-free and/or vegan diets, I and most of the bloggers I know tend to find ourselves making a lot of foodstuffs from scratch. Of course any time we cook anything that involves more than sticking a package in a microwave, we’re “doing it ourselves.” But there are whole categories of things I used to buy – breadcrumbs, canned beans, chocolate syrup; the list is endless – that over the years I’ve found myself making instead. I wrote quite a lot about this last week, and I don’t want to bore you by repeating myself, but I’ll just hit the salient points again of why I chose this theme.

Sometimes it’s cheaper to make my own version (like dried beans vs. canned beans). Sometimes it’s healthier or tastier. Many times I can’t get a version that is both vegan and gluten-free (and that tastes good and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg). But most importantly, it’s fun. It used to be overwhelming to think about doing a lot of this stuff from scratch. I thought my pressure cooker would explode and kill me, I thought I would give my loved ones botulism from fermenting at home, I never seemed to be able to remember to defrost homemade frozen ingredients ahead of time, which pretty much negated the point of making them in the first place. DIY takes extra time, extra effort, and extra planning, and those are things I usually have in short supply.

Two pots of scrap stock

At a certain point a few years ago I loved my CSA box so much, and so treasured the beautiful vegetables that came in it, that I decided to try making some scrap stock with my leftover veggie trimmings so that no part of what came in my box would go to waste. The only recipe I could find was from the civil war, so I borrowed heavily from Deborah Madison’s vegetable stock directions and just improvised my own. It was so easy and tasted so good. Suddenly all the vacuum-packed boxes of broth I’d been buying just disappeared from my shopping list.

Stock, rich and flavorful, made totally from scraps!

Then I took some workshops on fermenting, and made a few batches of fermented food. So easy! Didn’t kill anyone! I made friends with my pressure cooker. I started menu planning – and leaving notes for myself throughout my menu plans, reminding me to defrost stock or soak beans. Little by little certain tasks stopped being overwhelming, became routine or even something to be looked forward to. And then, always, new challenges take their place. I’ve been doing so well on soaking beans for pressure cooking and mung dal for making cheela (pancakes) that I think I’m ready to try making dosa batter, which has to be soaked, ground, and then fermented. I want to try making crackers from flax seeds and vegetables in the dehydrator I picked up at Goodwill and have never used. I want to learn to pressure can my scrap stock so I don’t even have to worry anymore about defrosting it in advance. And the holy grail of DIY for me would be to make my own vegan, gluten-free bread. Not all the time, because I don’t really want bread to be a regular part of my diet, but often enough that I could have a good supply in the freezer of some different breads with actually decent textures.

For more amazing gluten-free menu plans and DIY ideas, check out below what my fellow gluten-free menu swappers have planned for this week. And you’ll find hundreds of menu plans from all over the web over at Laura’s OrgJunkie. The sheer act of planning a weekly menu is very DIY. We’re putting thought and time and intention into something that our crazy culture has been steadily trying to convince us we don’t have time for: No idea what to make for dinner? Nothing in the house to cook? No problem!  Just hit the drive-through, or grab a frozen dinner, or order delivery… But as all of us who have tried meal planning have discovered, far from adding to our burdens by being complicated, overwhelming, and time-consuming, meal planning saves money, leads to healthier eating, and makes helps to make cooking fun rather than stressful!

Cauliflower and potato uttapam

Monday
Kale and potato gratin
Impressionist cauliflower
Green salad
DIY: I make my own GF vegan bread crumbs by putting Trader Joe’s frozen GF waffles in the food processor with olive oil and herbs

Tuesday (soak rice and urad dal for uttapam/dosa batter following Wild Fermentation recipe)
Bi bim bap with napa cabbage, tofu, shitake mushrooms, and arame
DIY: Bi bam bap is excellent with homemade kimchi

Wednesday (strain, grind, and ferment dosa batter)
Thai red curry with tofu, pumpkin, cabbage, and basil
Bhutanese red rice
DIY: I still use curry paste from a jar, but I love to spice up my curries with serrano peppers I’ve bought in advance, chopped, and frozen. And I used to avoid recipes that called for basil because I could never use up the whole bunch before it wilted in my fridge. But now I make vegan pesto even if there are just a few leaves left and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then I can just throw a cube of pesto into soup, pasta, wherever!

Thursday (defrost 2 C. stock)
Chickpea picatta
Polenta
DIY: Homemade scrap stock & breadcrumbs

Friday (defrost 2 C. beans, tortilla chips)
Quick red posole with beans (Viva Vegan, p. 136)
DIY: I’ll make this using cranberry beans I cooked in the pressure cooker and then froze in amounts equivalent to 1 can of beans. Whenever I have a few leftover tortilla chips that came with a takeout burrito, I throw them into a big bag in my freezer, and then eventually use them for dishes like this, or chilaquiles.

Saturday ~ Beloved Gathering (pack leftovers)
DIY: One of the themes of the gathering is self-reliance, so I’m looking forward to meeting a bunch of new people with DIY ethics of their own, whatever that means to each of them.

Sunday
Red onion and peas uttapam
Ethiopian red lentil and vegetable stew used as sambar
DIY: Hopefully I’ll be making this using my first successful batch of home-fermented uttapam batter. And then I’m so excited as the stew recipe will call on me to make my own berbere spice mixture. I love having jars of homemade spice mixtures (like curry powder and garam masala) in my spice drawer!

Shopping list:
Part 1 (Monday) ~ 1 bunch kale, 1 cauliflower, 2 pkg firm tofu, napa cabbage, frozen spinach (check if I have some), cabbage, pumpkin/kabocha, basil, corn tortillas
Part 2 (Wednesday) ~ Large poblano/Cubanelle chile, dried Mexican oregano, radishes, avocado, 1 lime, 1 cup shallots, 4 c. arugula/spinach, 1 lb green beans (fresh or frozen), 3-4 c. spinach

Gluten Free Menu Swappers ~ What’s on the menu this week?

Heather of Celiac Family wasn’t too sure about if the DIY theme applied to her, but once she created her menu she realized that, like most GF cooks, there are all kinds of things she just ends up making for herself. She’ll be making her own homemade GF breadcrumbs to coat some delectable-looking chicken nuggets, a super tasty homemade Parmesan dressing for her wild rice salad, and a mouthwatering jalapeno-popper dip to jazz up her burgers. She’ll also be making kale chips, which I’m so curious about and keep meaning to try making. All in all it looks like Heather has a balanced, healthy, super scrumptious week planned for her family.

Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness (and the beloved organizer of our menu swap) has a crazy busy week coming up but even in the face of getting ready to move, teaching and facilitating groups and workshops, and discovering the time-vortex that is Twitter (uh-oh, Cheryl, it was nice to know you when you spoke in paragraphs longer than 140 characters!) she has an amazing menu planned. Homemade curry powder (so great – I can’t stand storebought versions!) will go with chicken and chickpeas, and lots of big flavors everywhere with rosemary salmon and herb salad and kalamata hummus. And of course Cheryl has drool-worthy extras planned with glazed walnuts and moist nutty skillet bread. Yum!

I had no idea Angela of Angela’s Kitchen was such a big fermenter and all-around MYO gal! (Even more reasons for me to show up at her house every night for dinner!) This week she shows off the prettiest pink kimchi, perfect for tempting a dubious sparkly princess girl, and her picklemeister apparatus which strikes envy and desire deep into my heart. I want! Angela is similarly smitten with all things DIY and in addition to her own pickling and fermenting she makes her own spice blends, baking mixes, coconut yogurt (ooh! I have to try that!), and more. She’s even become a certified Master Food Preserver, which I assume means she is officially qualified to come over and teach me how to not kill my family with botulism. (Yes, please!) She has a great menu planned, complete with extras she’s making and freezing for her daughter’s upcoming school trip, and all kinds of yummy things like sesame broccoli, and homemade apple-turkey sausage. Angela seems like one organized homesteader!

Wendy of Celiacs in the House has had a fabulous blog makeover! (Sorry if this happened weeks ago and I’m just catching up, Wendy – I’ve been in hermit mode for the last month or so and have been visiting any of my favorite blogs.) Wendy is adopting another gluten-free blogger so this week’s menu is full of intriguing recipes to try for the first time, including fish tacos (used to be one my absolute favorite foods), sesame peanut noodles (still is one of my favorite foods), and white bean puree with collards. She’s making socca pizza, which I am super curious about (I love socca! Why don’t I ever make them anymore? I need to get on that!) and something called “cheddar muffin tops” which makes my mouth water just reading that combination of words. This week Wendy will be making her own tortillas from scratch, using her mom’s 30-year old tortilla press!

Michelle of Gluten-Free Smiles writes movingly about how her celiac diagnosis shifted her cooking from reliance on packaged foods to making things herself. She has an admirably long list of things she DIYs, from pierogies, pasta, and potstickers to spice blends, juices and teas. I want to raid your pantry and freezer, Michelle! Or just come over for dinner. :) Like me, Michelle also has a dream list of foods she’s looking forward to learning how to make for herself including cheeses and preserves. It’s amazing how conquering the fear of making things that are generally considered “buyable” leads to an ever-growing appetite and interest in making even more complicated homemade ingredients. Michelle has a great week planned, with homemade wontons and personal pizzas on mouthwatering tomato basil bases!

Nicola of G-free Mom offers up some funny truths (and lies!) so we can get to know her better this week. Her family invented the After Eight mint. What a fabulous legacy! She is adopting Wendy of Celiacs in the House this week for Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger so her menu plan practically wrote itself. I want to devour her entire menu with salmon cakes, risotto cakes, shepherd’s pie, and butternut squash risotto, all favorite flavors! Nicola asks if making her own risotto counts as DIY, and I definitely think making risotto and then reusing the leftovers to make risotto cakes fits into the urban homesteader cooking ethos!

Sea of Book of Yum is having a kale week. I’m so there, Sea. Kale Week is like a mandated holiday around my house that is celebrated as often as possible! She’s been experimenting with creatively seasoned dehydrated kale chips of all kinds, and is even hosting a linky roundup to gather kale recipes from all of us to share. My dehydrator is an MYO tool I’ve been dying to try but haven’t managed to, yet, so all this amazing kale chippery from Sea is providing serious inspiration. In addition to all the snacky goodness, Sea has another fantastic, international menu planned, with “cheesy” broccoli and pasta, Indian cauliflower and okra, tofu-avocado sushi rolls, and something dreamily called “chocolate surprise.” Every time I read her menus I want to move in next door and “just happen” to show up for dinner every night! (Ah, blog-fan-love through stalkerdom, how sweet.)

Have a great week of cooking, everyone!

Defiantly enjoying some (trademark-free) urban homesteading

There are black beans in my pressure cooker, right now, merrily cooking away. Tonight I’ll make sweet potato and black bean enchiladas. Last time I made this dish (one of my favorites) I used canned beans and canned chiles. Now that I’ve gotten over my fear that my pressure cooker will kill me, I can use beans I bought for pennies, soaked overnight, and then cooked in minutes, and jalapeno and serrano chiles I bought en masse and then chopped and froze in little packets in my fridge. Cheaper, no cans or other packaging to deal with afterward, and every bit as delicious.

Sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with adobo sauce

Tomorrow night I’ll make falafel. I’ll eat it with the homemade GF pitas I have tucked away in my freezer, and the homemade Middle Eastern turnip pickles I have waiting in my fridge. I’ll have company, so maybe I’ll break out some of my Royal-mandarin or blood-orange cordial to liven up our meal. I’ll have to warn my guests about the funky smell in my kitchen – that’s just a huge crock of kimchi fermenting over there, not a small animal that crawled into the corner to die. Wait ’til you taste it, though – you’ll forget the smell the instant that hot, sour, deliciousness hits your tongue.

Falafel with homemade GF pita, baba ganoush, and turnip pickles

Are you noticing a theme, here? As a frugal, vegan, gluten-free cook, these days I tend to make a lot of my own “base foods,” as I call them. Stuff like beans, pita, pickles, and liqueur that I used to buy at the store. Some stuff I prefer not to buy because it’s cheaper or yummier to make my own. Other stuff, like breads or nut cheeses, I make because the buyable versions (like wheat bread and dairy cheese) don’t work with my diet. I also just think fermenting is an awesome process – it’s supposed to be really healthy for you, but I’ve never even bothered to check on the science behind those claims because fermented food is so delicious and also super fun to make.

Making cashew "goat cheese"

A lot of what I do might come under a term I’ve been hearing for a few years, “urban homesteading.” My interpretation of the term is that it refers to people who, like me, live in the city by choice or necessity, but still want to be connected to nature or to what they eat and wear and clean with and otherwise consume. Folks who keep chickens in their backyards and put up preserves and sprout sprouts and grow herbs in pots on their fire escapes. We’re trading back in some of that relentless consumerism that pervades our lives in exchange for becoming producers, for having a hand somewhere higher up on the chain of production. Sites like Punk Domestics are a paradise for city-dwelling people who want to make their own jams, sauces, syrups, pickles, olives, beer, wine, liqueur… the list goes on. (And yes, includes homesteady things you can do with meat, too, so be warned about the possibility of encountering photos of dead flesh.)

Jars of blood-orange cordial (with kimchi in the background)

This movement is not particularly new. It’s definitely still trendy (unless I’m totally behind the times, but as far as I know our collective what-is-hip consciousness hasn’t moved on yet), but interest in urban homesteading has been building slowly and steadily for years now. It is deeply connected to the general old-school-craft revival (knitting, sewing, building, etc.) that predates the widespread popularity of food-related crafting by several years. And of course, beyond food there are so many other areas where urbanites can work on self-sufficiency. Grey-water systems to handle waste water and irrigate the garden! Solar energy! Toxin-free cleaning! Urban foraging!

Crock of sauerkraut

Back in 2008, Duck and I got a lot of great inspiration from a newly published book called, fittingly enough, The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City. Last week Facebook received a complaint about this book and promptly took down its facebook page. The complaint? That the authors, Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, were infringing on the trademark of some other people to whom I’m not going to give more publicity (so I won’t be naming them here). The trademarked term? Yep, “urban homestead.” These people-who-shall-remain-nameless had sneakily snatched up and “owned” a term that has pervaded the blogosphere, the internet, and the world at large for the past several years. They’ve been threatening all kinds of blogs and websites with takedown notices. Too bad they trademarked this term well after Coyne and Knutzen published their book.

Making radish-and-root kimchi with friends

Are we in bizarro world here, people? Who on earth trademarks a term that’s been around for ages and is used by all kinds of communities and people, and then not only that but starts taking action against the other people who use it (and have been using it for longer, even!)? And these people aren’t evil Monsanto-corporation people. They’re kickass Urban Homesteaders™ like you and me. Or they were. Before they boarded the wtf-train and left us all eating their carefully composted dust, wondering what the heck happened. This is just so antithetical to the whole point of urban homesteading, for me at least. It’s not about shutting ourselves up in our root cellars full of jars and waiting for the apocalypse. It’s most definitely not about making money – then it’s not homesteading, it’s business. Duh. These skills and projects are about connection and community, about getting us all closer to the land and our food and each other. Learning and sharing these skills, both in person and through this blog, have been such an important part of my life these last few years. It irks me that someone is trying to take advantage of what all of our communities have built, that someone sees the power of the movements we’re creating and is trying to take it for themselves.

Anyways… that was an exceptionally rant-y rant, even for me. The point is, today is Urban Homesteader’s Day of Action where, in addition to pickling our pickles and tending our hens, we unite to “to blanket the web with the words urban homestead and urban homesteading through blog posts, web pages, and articles.” If you want to read more about this, here’s info from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) facebook page (nice avoidance of trademark infringement, there, eh?), an article from 2008 by the authors I mentioned above about how they define urban homesteading, a cranky little article about the controversy from TreeHugger, and a long, updated piece about the back-and-forth of the whole situation from the LA Weekly.

Changing topics a bit to talk about this week’s menu… (Although I really do feel like getting a CSA box and planning menus can both be important parts of an urban homesteader lifestyle, so it’s not such a jump in topics!)

This week’s GF Menu Swap is hosted by Michelle of Gluten-Free Smiles with the theme of garlic. There’s garlic in pretty much everything I cook! I can’t eat it raw (it disagrees with my tummy) or even in massive quantities cooked. When I was a kid my family practically lived on garlic, and I’ve definitely had to scale it back, but I still love the taste and how it adds something wonderful to any dish. Michelle talks in her garlic post today about how much she loves the immune-boosting and antibacterial/antiviral properties of garlic. I lived in St. Petersburg, Russia for one very cold winter. The city is built on a swamp, and the flus there can be terrible and frequently fatal. So it was not an uncommon sight to see little Russian babushki (old-fashioned granny types) walking around town in the winter with a clove of garlic stuck up each nostril! They believed this prevented the germs from getting in and infecting them. I never went that far myself, but it left me with a strong faith in the power of garlic as a preventative medicine.

For the giant compendium of menu plans from all over the web (plenty of urban – and rural – homesteaders among them), check out the Menu Plan Monday round-up over at OrgJunkie.

Monday
Sweet potato and black bean enchiladas ADD: stripe of vegan cream cheese to each one, use green salsa
Salvadorean marinated slaw (Viva Vegan, p. 80)

Tuesday
Homemade falafel
GF pita bread (in the freezer)
Baba ganoush
Turnip pickles

Wednesday
Quick red posole with beans (Viva Vegan, p. 136)

Thursday
Kale and potato gratin
Green salad

Friday ~ American-Jewish-themed Shabbat dinner
(I’ll post this menu later since the guests read this blog and I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a surprise)

Saturday ~ Baby shower

Sunday ~ Birthday party

Urban Homesteader Extras:
Scrap stock

Shopping list: Eggplant, poblano chile, Mexican oregano, 1 Corona (naturally gluten-free!), avocado, 1.5 lb thin-skinned potatoes (e.g. red), 1 bunch kale, fresh herb (thyme/sage), carrots

Love and carbs on a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

It’s turned out to be kind of a carby week. Maybe because I’m feeling tired? Culture Club was awesome. I’ll write more and post some pictures soon.

Pressure cooker potato-cauliflower curry, mustard greens with capers and tomatoes

Reviews from last week: My first pressure cooker dish, curried potatoes and cauliflower with peas, was a qualified success. I would make this dish again, equipped with a better understanding of how my pressure cooker works. Creamy corn-crusted tempeh pot pie from Viva Vegan was very good with quite unusual flavors, with a filling that includes green olives and raisins. Viva Vegan Arepas with sexy avocado-tempeh filling and Salvadorean marinated slaw were both yummy. I’ll write more about the slaw later as it is one of my new favorites. The avocado-tempeh filling reproduced the flavor of Mexican crema perfectly, but was actually a bit too creamy (especially when Farmer B and I tried to eat the leftovers for breakfast! Mayo at breakfast… not the best plan.)

Vegan overnight oats were not my favorite thing, but I’ll give them another shot sometime soon, with additional ingredients/flavorings. Pear skillet bread was amazing. I have two pears left and I’ll be making it again this week! I also made something that wasn’t on my menu last week. FoodsCo had mushrooms on sale, so I picked some up and made Ricki’s fantastic nut roast, which I’ve been eating in sandwiches all week on a new kind of vegan, GF sandwich bread I discovered at Rainbow. I’ll have more to say about all of that soon as well.

Yum! Nut roast with walnuts and mushrooms

Cheryl is hosting this week’s GF Menu Swap at her blog, GF Goodness. The theme is “food as love.” (Maybe that’s why there are so many carbs on my menu this week? Nothing says love like pasta and potatoes. Tee hee.) I spent nine hours yesterday making huge quantities of kimchi and blood orange cordial with some of my favorite people, so I am replete with food-love goodness right now!

As always there’s a massive roundup of menus from all over the web over at the Menu Plan Monday compendium at OrgJunkie.

Have a great week of cooking everyone!

Monday
Pasta with avocado pesto ADD: spinach
Roasted broccoli with lemon zest and pine nuts

Tuesday (thaw: 4 cups stock)
Asian Noodle Soup with Bok Choy and Shitake Mushrooms (Vegan Express, p.30)
Golden Tofu Triangles with Rich Peanut Sauce (VE, p. 46)

Wednesday (cube & cook sweet potatoes ahead)
Sweet potato and black bean enchiladas ADD: stripe of vegan cream cheese to each one, use green salsa
Salvadorean marinated slaw (Viva Vegan, p. 80)

Thursday (start in the morning)
Crock pot curried red lentil, chickpea, and quinoa stew

Friday
Leftovers

Saturday
Bat Mitzvah reception dinner

Sunday
Kale and potato gratin
Green salad

Extras
More pear skillet bread!

Shopping list: 1.5 lb thin-skinned potatoes (e.g. red), 1 bunch kale, fresh herb (thyme/sage), carrots