It is officially Fall and that means apple pie for me. Not pumpkin spice anything. Don’t get me wrong I love a pumpkin donut from Dunkin’ or better yet my sister’s amazing pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting. But I can’t get into the cult of pumpkin spice. I’m a fan of anything apple. I love apple cider donuts, tarts, apple sauce, and pie.
American as Apple Pie
Every country in the western world has their apple dessert. Apples are hardy and store well. They are portable and don’t require anything. Grab, go, and eat. The picture that stays with me from the Netherlands is girls on bikes eating apples as they cycle to school, work, or home. The Netherlands and Germany are known for their apple desserts in forms of cakes.
Apples as we know them today are not native to the Americas. The seeds were brought by colonists after they found the native crab apples not eatable. In the late 18th Century, Dutch immigrants brought apple preserving techniques and the Germans shared their flaky buttery crust creating a new truly American dessert, the apple pie. Reference to apple pie in the US goes as far back as 1796 in the cook book, American Cookery.
During the First and Second World Wars, soldiers were heard saying the reason why they were fighting was for “Mom and Apple Pie.” The humble pie became associated with patriotism.
I buy small organic Gala apples in bags at Aldi with very intention of eating them. Sometimes I do, but others times they just sit there like they are posing for a still life. I hate to waste food so when they get to the point of not very appealing to grab and eat, I make either apple sauce or pie with them.
Since I always have apples, frozen rolled pie crust, and the other ingredients on hand, it is a quick and simple dessert that I could make a lot more. That said, if I make it all the time it won’t be good for my waist line nor will it be a special treat. I use whatever apples I have on hand which are usually Galas or any of the apples picked at my favorite local orchard, Rocky Brook, during the picking season.
Tucking into a fresh baked pie with ice cream or whipped cream is such fall comfort food.
- 8 cups thinly sliced apples (about 8 medium)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1. Preheat oven to 450F.
- 2. Roll out pre-made pie crust. Place one crust in a deep dish pie plate.
- 2. Put sliced apples and lemon juice in a bowl and tossing.
- 3. Combine sugar through salt.
- 4. Sprinkle spices over the apples and toss until well combined.
- 5. Dump the apples into the pie plate and place the top crust on crimping the edges and making slits in the top.
- 6. Brush with milk or egg wash.
- 7. Bake at 450F for 15 minutes then reduce temperature to 350F baking for 40 minutes.
The Tomato Sandwich. Yes, I have used “the” in front of tomato sandwich. It is a sandwich only eaten in the summer when sun-ripened tomatoes are just off the vine. It is the most delicious summer experience. Up there with strawberries, corn, and melons. You can’t beat it. It is the taste of summer. I’ll have this sandwich for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is just so good.
The Tomato Sandwich is Messy
As in tomato juices running down your elbow. And that’s what makes it so wonderful. Now American Southerners claim this sandwich as their own, but anywhere in the US where tomatoes are fresh, folks make this sandwich. How could you not? It is such a good and simple sandwich.
The key ingredients for this sandwich are garden or farm stand fresh tomatoes. Big juicy slicing tomatoes that are the size of the bread are ideal. We have Brandywines growing in our garden, and that’s what’s shown in the photos. It is worth seeking fresh tomatoes from your local farm stand or farmers’ market. The variety of tomatoes at the farmers market is plentiful; each has different flavors and textures. Something you can’t get at the grocery store.
The next ingredient is the bread. It has to be soft white bread. Not artisan bread. The traditional white sliced loaf bread. It pained me to write that last sentence, but it tastes best with that type of bread. I’ve tried it with other kinds of bread, but the white bread brings out the flavor of the other ingredients.
The last three ingredients are mayo, salt, and pepper. Mayo, There is always a debate about this among Americans: Miracle Whip or Mayo. I’m in the mayo camp using Duke’s when we lived in the US South and now that I’m plant-based, Follow Your Heart Vegenaise. No one can tell the difference between animal-based and plant-based mayos in my house. Once you’ve added a nice layer of mayo on that white bread and placed your thick sliced tomatoes, the finishing touch is salt and pepper. I use Kosher salt or Newport Sea Salt and freshly ground multi-color pepper.
That’s it—the perfect summer sandwich. Go out while the tomatoes are still fresh and make the tomato sandwich today. Enjoy summer!
- 2-3 big ripe slicing tomatoes
- Mayo - real or plant-based
- 8 slices of white bread
- Salt and Pepper
- - Thickly slice the tomatoes.
- - Slather mayo on the white bread slices.
- - Put a slice of tomato on the bread slice.
- - Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- - Add the another bread slice on the top.
- - Cut in half.
Life is busy these days for us so quick meals are essential. Kale tofu chickpea curry is a quick and easy weekday dinner. From start to finish, it can be on the table within 15 mins. Really. It is that quick.
Especially if you have a rice cooker that you can make rice in the morning. I resisted buy one for the longest time as I felt I didn’t need another kitchen gadget, but as I moved towards plant-based I was cooking a lot of rice. Worth an investment as a rice cooker can make oatmeal and other grains. Helpful if you are plant-based. When I made the decision I went with the Zojirushi NS-LGC05XB Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer, 3-Cups after tons of research. A good rice cooker is pricey, but well worth it.
My guys aren’t fans of kale so that fact they like this curry says something. I like to get Lacinato Kale, but I think any type of kale will do. I like to visit my local farmers market or natural grocery stores. I’ve used frozen chopped kale, too, when I’m in a rush and don’t have fresh kale on hand.
The other ingredients that make up this dish are chickpeas, diced tomatoes, coconut milk, squeezable ginger, firm tofu, tamari, and curry powder. For the longest time, it get the water out of the tofu I used a Dutch Oven on top of the tofu and it worked, but I was always afraid it was going to tumble off. So I gave in and got a tofu press. I know, I know, another kitchen gadget, but it really makes a difference in how well the tofu turns out.
This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite vegan authors from The Happy Pear. Love this kale tofu chickpea curry? Try these curries.
- 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 bunch of scallions
- 2 tsp squeezable ginger
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Block Firm tofu
- 2 tbsp of tamari
- Bunch of Kale
- 2 Tbsp Curry powder
- Pinch of chili flake – optional leave out if you prefer less heat
- - Drain and dry the tofu to remove any moisture, chop tofu into bite size pieces.
- - De-stalk the kale and roughly chop the leaves and the scallions.
- - Heat a little oil on a high heat, when hot add the tofu and cook for 2-3 minutes until browned then add 2 tbsp of tamari to the pan along with the scallions, kale and ginger and 1/2 tsp of salt, reduce the heat a little and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the kale starts to wilt
- - Add the curry powder and chili flake, stirring to coat all the tofu and veg.
- - Add the coconut milk, diced tomatoes and chickpeas bringing to a boil and reduce to a simmer for a few minutes.
I’m all about appliances that have multiple uses. My kitchen isn’t big, and storage is at a premium, so everything I have needs to be practical and versatile. As I moved towards plant-based, I found myself changing the kitchen tools I depend on to make meals. So here are some of my must-haves as my essential vegan kitchen tools:
- Strainers – I use my strainers daily to drain and rinse canned beans and rice.
- Tofu Press – a tofu press makes getting the water out of tofu blocks easy. No more wrapping it in paper towels and putting a Dutch oven on it, hoping it doesn’t fall over or smush it. The press is compact and fits nicely in the fridge.
- Salad Spinner – I love my salad spinner. I use it for salad and other greens, but I use it to clean leeks.
- Rice Container Bin – I never thought I’d like a container so much, but this rice container with a pour spout and measuring cup is excellent. I plan to purchase a couple for lentils and other grains.
- Calphalon Elite Nonstick Essential Saute Pan – This is my everyday pan. I cook with this pan every day. It is well worth the cost as it is functional and nonstick.
- Rice Cooker – For the longest time, I resisted even thinking about rice cookers thinking they were a waste of money and space. We ate a lot of rice. When researching rice cookers, I wanted a cooker that could do more than make rice. The Zojirushi allows me to make different types of rice, grains, and oatmeal. My son likes rice, so the rice warmer function is excellent that I can make a big batch, and he can serve himself whenever he wants. It is worth the investment as we use it at least five times weekly.
- Slow Cooker – A slow-cooker is a must frankly for every household. And slow-cookers aren’t just for making meat-based dishes as it is excellent for plant-based meals like Aloo Gobi. Some very cool slow cookers are out there, but I went with a simple one like Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker.
- Food Processor – I researched and settled on the Braun FP3020 12 Cup Food Processor because it was so versatile. I make hummus, hazelnut spread, sauces, oat/nut flours, and doughs.
- Grater – A lot of plant-based meals call for grated vegetables. I got a very sturdy one.
- Baking Sheets – Roasted veggies are great and versatile for vegan meals. A good set of baking sheets is essential.
These are some of my essential vegan kitchen tools. What are your must-haves in your vegan kitchen? I love my kitchen gadgets so I’m always looking for new tools to make cooking easier and better.
Recently I’ve noticed poke bowls on menus. And I became intrigued. Traditionally, a poke bowl is raw marinated fish that been cubed and layered with rice and pickles. Its origin is from Hawaiian where fishermen would season the cut-offs from their daily catch eating it on their boats. Poke is considered their national dish. On a days it is such a diet staple that it is freshly made in most convenience stores.
I’ll be honest, but the idea of raw fish is not appealing to me and my guys. And that these days being mostly plant-based, I’m not eating a lot of fish. But you can still have a plant-based poke bowl. It is a lovely way to pack in amazing flavors and textures. And a poke bowl is all about different textures in every bite. It isn’t a boring meal.
To make a plant-based poke bowl is easy and quick. Swap out the fish for tofu or tempeh, You can use white or brown rice though I like the nuttiness of brown. Pickled items are important so adding picked red onions and sauerkraut. I always have picked red onions on hand, but I’ll share a 5-min pickled recipe that you can do while making this dish. Instead of using white cabbage, I prefer to use red cabbage beet carrot sauerkraut as it add a nice flavor and a burst of color. To bring a different sense of texture, add a sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, micro greens, and cilantro. Adding a can of kidney beans gives it more nutrition. The sauce for this dish is sweet chili sauce and tamari. The tofu or tempeh and beans are cooked in the sauce with garlic and ginger.
This recipe is based on The Happy Pear’s “Easy poke for weight loss in 5 min” recipe. I encourage you to check out the recipes.
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup Sauerkraut
- Block of Tempeh or Tofu - If using tofu then drain well
- 12 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 4 tbsp tamari
- 1/2 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- Small red onion
- 50 ml rice vinegar
- Handful cherry tomatoes
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- - Prepare brown rice. You can use pre-cooked or make it in rice cooker like I do.
- Picked Red Onion
- - Slice red onion thinly placing in glass jar then add the rice vinegar and water if need to make sure the onions are covered.
- Tempeh or Tofu
- - Slice up tempeh or tofu
- - Head pan on medium high.
- - Add tempeh or tofu until it browns
- - Add garlic and ginger then the sweet chili/tamari sauce mixture coating
- - Remove onto plate then add the kidney beans coating them until they are warm
- Ensemble the bowl with all the goodies.
I love yogurt, but it no longer loves me so I decided to make vegan yogurt. I know the grocery stores are filled with options today so why attempt to make my own? Two reasons. One is I can choose my own flavor combinations. The other reason is quantity as this recipe makes 4 servings which as far as I know you can’t buy big tubs of plant-based yogurt yet.
I guess there is a third as since I have all the ingredients handy always. So then why not? I like making food from scratch. I know what’s going into it and I can modify to my tastes.
Vegan Yogurt Made Easy
It is pretty easy to make. I’ve tried to make my own dairy yogurt before. It failed miserably on more than one occasion. So when I saw how easy the recipe was for making plant-based yogurt, I thought I’d try it.
Five ingredients: frozen fruit, extra firm tofu, cashews, maple syrup, and lemon juice. I used a frozen cherry berry blend, but you could use frozen peaches or mango. Or a combination. As I attempt to be plant-based, I use maple syrup, but you can use honey.
It is nice to have yogurt back into my breakfast routine as it was creamy. I will continue to refine this recipe as I wasn’t so sure of the texture of cashews.
Are you looking to top the vegan yogurt with something then try my granola recipe.
- 2 Cups Frozen Mixed Berries (or frozen fruit of choice.)
- 1/4-1/2 cup Cashews
- 12-14 ounces Extra Firm Tofu
- 1/4 Maple Syrup
- 2 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1. Put everything in a blender blending at high speed until very sBlend everything together on a high speed setting until very smooth about 5-7 minutes.
- 2. Store in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days.