Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dark Days Intro and Catch-Up Food

So I took some time off after VeganMoFo to gear up for my new latest fun challenge: The Dark Days Eat Local Challenge. The idea is that of course (almost) anyone can eat local in the summer, but you kind of have to make an effort to do in in the late fall and winter. So here is a challenge to motivate you! It's way less daunting than VeganMoFo, rest assured. Just cook at least one meal per week using 90% local ingredients (or some other percentage that you determine for your location/ability, etc), blog about it and any challenges and post pictures if you can. Easy peasy. For a full list of rules and regs, check out this detailed post by the host of the challenge, Laura, of (not so) Urban Hennery.

The challenge begins yesterday, November 15th. But I have a couple of meals to share with you that helped me get in the mood for dark days. And I just have some regular old vegan food to show you, too. Yay, food!

Spaghetti and Tofu-Balls

These balls were from the oldskool Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler. They were ok. The semi-deep-fry action kind of skeeved me out, they were pretty greasy. And not dense at all like meatballs should be. They were tasty in their own right (and I LOVE spaghetti and red sauce) but they were not like meatballs. I will definitely try making Vegan Dad's version next time.

Chickpea Noodle Soup
From Vcon, but the recipe can be found here. I added some kale and we were out of soba noodles, so I subbed some spinach ribbons. It was tasty! I love noodle soups. They're kind of the only soup I like. Other than lentil.

Mac, Oh Geez!
I just get in these undeniably moods for mac and cheese and nothing else will cut it. I've been wanting to try this recipe from Dreena Burton for a while, but I always forget to buy Brazil Nuts. Well, that didn't stop me this time. I subbed a few macadamia nuts and called it good. It was really tasty! The macadamia flavor came on way too strong, though, so next time I would use all cashews. It was really tasty and creamy and another great nooch-free mac and cheese recipe. Make it! I'll be making again very soon.

Dark Days Test Run: Savory Lentils, Roasted Delicata Squash and Smoky Collards
This was sooooooooooooo good. If local eating could be this delicious all the time, I would eat local all the time! The Savory Lentils are from a recipe in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. If you haven't tried Delicata Squash, you are missing out. It is so sweet and creamy. And easy. And I think I have extolled the virtues of these collard greens in the past. Make them! They are so good. I can't wait to eat them again.

Gratuitous Biscuits and Gravy Pic
This was kind of hard-core biscuits and gravy, because instead of using Gimme Lean sausage for the gravy, I made tempeh sausage using the recipe from VWaV. It was a great substitution. And I feel better about it, since the tempeh is local and the sausage is not. Not to mention the tempeh is a fermented food, and the gimme lean has soy protein isolates, which I try to avoid. Go Team B&G!

Lazy Supper: Local Bread with Olive Oil and Smoked Salish Salt

And Panfried Tofu with Chipotle Cashew Cheese for Dipping
The tofu was from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan - the original recipe uses tempeh, but this time I subbed firm tofu. It's basically marinated quickly in tamari and brown rice vinegar, dusted with cornstarch and fried in coconut oil. The combination of the crunchy, coconutty tofu dipped in the hot-sweet chipotle cashew cheese was OUTRAGEOUS. Yum. The cheese was just the normal cashew cheese with 1-2 Tablespoons of pureed chipotle in adobo stirred in. It was sooooo good. It's also killer as a sandwich spread with avocado on baguette.

Dark Days Test Drive #2: Panfried Sunchokes (left), Braised Lentils and Winter Squash (right) and Kale with Raisins and Almonds (center)
So I had never had sunchokes before (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes). I panfried them in olive oil, with some garlic, s&p, then added a dash of lemon juice at the end. They were pretty good - kind of like a potato-artichoke heart combo flavor. They were a nice change from regular potatoes, but I wouldn't want them all the time.

The lentils was a combo of local roasted delicata squash, mixed with local shallots, carrots and garlic, some white wine, salt and pepper. Really tasty and pretty easy.

The kale was just braised in some water and oil, then added some raisins soaked in hot water and some sliced almonds. The almonds, raisins, oil, s&p and lemon juice were the non-locals in this meal (the lentils were locally purchased while living in Michigan - so even though they're not local here, they were purchased locally, so I think they count.) ;)

New Favorite Breakfast: Sweet Couscous with Pistachios and Raisins

I got this idea from an episode of The Minimalist, by Mark Bittman (love him!). The recipe can be found here. It is simple and sweet and delicious. A REALLY nice change from oatmeal, if you're getting burnt out.

Stay tuned for another meme I got tagged for (I'm talking about YOU, Bethany!) and of course, my official first Dark Days posting.


Jenn said...

Wow, that's a lot of food catch up!

I'm down for the local challenge. Thanks for the info!

jessy said...

your dark days test runs are glorious! i love, love, love delicata squash - it's my absolute favorite squash! and i still need to try those smoky collards! thanks for the reminder, Chessa! i'm going to take a look at that challenge - it sounds awesome! dan & i are great about local during the spring & summer, but it's tough for us in the winter - i'm going to see what i can do though! yay!

that stinks that the tofu-balls came out greasy - they look really good though! and i still need to try that chickpea noodle soup! i really like your addition of kale, and i think the spinach ribbons sound tastier than the soba noodles! i also get some serious mac 'n cheeze cravings - and we just got ED&BV - so i might have to give Dreena's recipe a try. i need to find some bulk brazil nuts, but we do have lots of cashews. hmmmmmm! ;)

hooray for your gratuitous biscuits 'n gravy picture! yummah! and the lazy dinners are my kinda meals! hooray! sweet couscous, huh?! i might like something like that - fo 'sho! thanks for the idea!

thanks for all the delicious food porn - look'n forward to the fun meme, too! stay warm!

jae said...

chessa! i want you to be my personal chef! your food looks amazing and always inspires me to make more time to cook! keep it up!

allularpunk said...

i love the idea of your dark days local challenge! i totally can't do it though, since nothing but... potatoes are local here right now haha... i mean, i'm sure that somewhere out there, people are growing beans or something but where on earth to find them? bummer. i am, however, trying not to buy produce that isn't in season. it's kind of hard, and i do admit to buying strawberries last week haha...

all of your food looks so delicious. hearty, warming meals indeed. and you totally put the idea of lentils for dinner in my head. i can't wait!

Chessa said...

jenn - great! I'll be psyched to have a bigger vegan contingency. It can be a lot of animal based meals, so it will nice to see some things I actually might want to eat. ;)

jessy - I know, delicata is my favorite, too! It's so delicious. And I love that you don't have to peel it (though I still do occasionally). And I'm so glad you guys are going to join the challenge! We need more vegans involved! And definitely try the chickpea noodle soup - it is so tasty and satisfying. And the couscous is soooo good. This morning we subbed leftover brown rice for the couscous and it was tasty!

jae - I would totally be your personal chef! Thanks for the kind words!

allularpunk - I know how it is to live somewhere with not much of a winter local food supply - Michigan was pretty bad, too. A vegan cannot subsist on potatoes alone! Even if you have apples, too. It's just not enough variety. That's awesome that you're trying to buy mostly in season, I really think it makes a big difference. And lentils for dinner rock! They're so satisfying, and cook so much faster than other legumes.

Anonymous said...

Holy moly, you make some awesome food! My favorites from this post have to be the smoky collards (I really need to try them!) and the kale with raisins and almonds and the couscous. Mmm mmm! Great job!

Mihl said...

What a great challenge. Yay, winter isn't gray, it's colourful.

joanna said...

i'm so happy i've found somebody else obsessed with dreena burton!!! i am one of her biggest fans ever!

no mac and cheese recipe beats her mac oh geez. it's my favorite!! i love ghe pan-fried tempeh too. i remember i made it late one night and ate the ENTIRE batch because it was just so good.

i bookmarked that chickpea soup recipe from v-con. i'm glad you tried it so i know it's a good one.

Bethany said...

wow, you're back w/ a vengeance! I'm psyched to see what you say in the 7 random facts meme. yeah, I'm nosy.

I'm going to take on your local dark days challenge. I love how you got the collards in there :)

I'm awarding you with a "Butterfly Award" for having a really cool blog that I love to read. It's also sort of a meme, so the love doesn't stop w/ you :)

yeah, nice way to sneak in a meme, huh? Serioulsy, I love your blog.

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Woo hoo! Some BEAUTEOUS food ya got there. I went back and read and read and read...

I just ran into your blog and it's great - ANNNNDDDDDD it's Seattle-ish! I didn't even KNOW anyone else from Seattle did a vegan blog. YAY! So exciting! I will definitely add you to my blog roll... and bookmark for further reading! YAY! EXCITED!

Chessa said...

vegannifer - you HAVE to try the collards!!! I swear, if I could eat them everyday I would. Yum!

Mihl - It's really true! Depending on where you live, you really can piece together some great food with mainly local ingredients. It's kind of a paradigm shift, but it gets easier with practice. :D

joanna - Dreena is awesome!! I need to get her other two books. I keep waiting to run across them used, but I think I'm kidding myself. Who would sell them?!

Bethany - thanks for the award!!! I'm totally psyched to have found your blog, too. I swear on tofu that I will have BOTH memes up soon!

Tofu Mom - Welcome! I'm glad you found me! It's always great to read blogs from other people in the area! Going over to visit your blog now...