Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fall Flavors


Not many photos to post this week, but the few that I do....what doozies they are!! I have for you, two of the most amazing fall recipes I have ever had (or made).

First up, Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Streusal, from Veganomicon. Similar to her Blueberry Crumb Cake in Vegan with a Vengeance, this was fluffy, sweet but not overly so, moist and delectable! I served this for our monthly Sierra Club meeting. Thankfully, it made quite a bit, so the middle parts (which didn't cook all the way through - not sure why) could be discarded (gasp! Yes, they ended up in the trash - better luck next time!). I think that turning the oven down and bit and letting it cook a bit longer could be the answer next time. Other than that, four stars****!

In keeping with my "Vegan Chef on a Shoestring" budget, this didn't require anything not already in my pantry (I always have a can of pumpkin on hand - don't you?). Keep reading - the best is yet to come!...

I had this butternut squash (in the funniest shape - forgot to take a pic, but I'll just say it would have fit right in, in the Kama Sutra) from our local Farmer's Market a couple of weeks ago, and I was just dying to do something different with it.

The recipe for Caramelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts from Veganomicon caught my eye. It looked pretty simple, inexpensive and very fall-ish. Well, the expensive part was immediately shattered when I found out the price of jarred chestnuts - almost $14!!! And that was only for a 7.4 ounce jar. Screw that - I bought fresh ones for $3.99 a pound (and I only needed one pound - yay!) and roasted them myself. This was a first for me (and not even one on my New Year's Resolutions list!), but it was soooo simple! I first had fresh roasted chestnuts about a year ago at my neighbors' house, and remembered how sweet and buttery and delicious they were. Following Veganomicon's directions, I scored the nuts (I made two cuts, like an X, which my neighbor had also done) and roasted them for about 20 minutes in my oven. One of the nuts apparently wasn't scored deep enough and BOOM! it exploded in my oven. No mess, just a loud sound and I laughed, because I knew that that's what it had to be.

When they came out of the oven, I wrapped them in a towel as suggested, and scrunched them around to loosen the skins. Peeling them wasn't that hard, and the few that were no good were easy to tell . Look how beautiful they are! The quintessential roasted yellow-brown of fall nuts.

Along with olive oil roasted onions, the diced butternut squash, a can of white beans, some veggie broth, and quite a few spices, the chestnuts roasted in the oven for a half hour, then were topped with a sprinkling of fresh breadcrumbs, other seasonings and a tad more olive oil. After roasting 15 more minutes, my mouth was watering. Want to know what it tasted like? Only the BEST RECIPE ALL YEAR!!! Five stars for this baby *****. It was sweet and savory and nutty and hearty and I just ummmed and yummed with every mouthful. If you make no other recipe this fall or winter, this should be one that you make. It is soooo easy and well, you know how good it tastes! What a great way to hit my 500th new recipe since I started keeping track, just three years ago. That's 500 different recipes. Isn't it awesome to be vegan?
But in keeping with my new frugality, I fished my Sweet Potato Bisque out of the freezer this week for nearly instant dinners. I made this months ago, and it tasted like I just made it yesterday! Four stars, even as a reheat! **** Creamy and sweet and savory and filling.

Here it is, fresh from the freezer bag.....Looks kind of like a turkey head!

My husband wasn't in the mood to try my butternut squash dish (he's cautious of anything remotely sweet for a dinner meal), but he was already cooking up a storm (literally - there was smoke from the oil in the kitchen!) with this Vegetarian Gumbo, straight from a recent Vegetarian Times issue. I threw the brown rice in the rice cooker for him and there was his meal! He actually didn't like it that much. I tasted some and agreed that there was just something missing! There were no legumes or other meat-like food in the dish, and it was spicy, but lacking flavor, if that is possible. We added more salt, but it still was unremarkable. Oh well -you win some, you lose some! (and he used up some of the okra in the freezer - yay!).

And, as stated at the very beginning of this post, my mother informed me just a couple of days ago that she has decided to go vegan!!! This is amazing and exciting news not just for me, but for all vegans, because she is a doctor and because The China Study, by Colin T. Campbell, and its scientific-strength was what pushed her over the edge.

Here's to one week until Thanksgiving, which we'll be celebrating with both sets of parents and NO real turkey! (Unless you count Serendipity from Farm Sanctuary!).


VeggieGirl said...

500th recipe + your mother going vegan + an array of super-tantalizing treats = AMAZING!!!!!!

I adopted Faye the turkey this year :-)

teenage veg head said...

wow 500 recipes is a ton!!
haha congrats on winning your mother over. i would be shocked if my parents gave up meat.

Susan G said...

I love that squash casserole, too. That little bite of cayenne in the crumbs puts it over the top! I make it without the beans and with extra squash for more yummy squash goodness.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the 500th recipe--that is quite the accomplishment! You must be quite an inspiration for your mother to go vegan...maybe it has something to do with all of your delicious recipes?!


Joanna said...

congrats on your mother coming vegan!!!! i would be so happy if my parents converted, too, so i'll keep hoping.

i bookmarked that pumpkin recipe in the vcon cookbook. i just want to make everything in there!

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