Monday, March 15, 2010

Back from a blogging break with BAGELS to share

Tom and I have recently discovered that homemade bagels are the BEST THING EVER. Bagels fresh out of the oven are far superior to ones purchased in a plastic bag from the store.

We used the bagel recipe from Vegan Brunch which requires a few steps but is easy to put together. The recipe calls for sesame or poppyseeds as toppings, but so far we've explored many different possibilities for flavors.

Our favorites so far:
  • garlic
  • cranberry
  • cinnamon raisin
  • chocolate chunk
  • onion
  • sesame
  • plain
Shaping the bagels can be a little tricky, but we'll be getting a lot more practice at it since we plan to make the recipe regularly from now on. I don't see us buying bagels from the store or even the bakery anymore.

We doubled the batch and have a couple dozen bagels to enjoy. Making them in big batches is great because they are easy to freeze and means that there are even more delicious homemade bagels to enjoy!

Let us know if you come up with any other creative flavor ideas!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Apple Cake

Finished the apple cake, it certainly smells amazing and we're ready to jump right in and devour this dessert. After we eat our dinner of course.

It may look like apple pie, but it's actually a german apple cake we baked in a pie pan because our springform pans were recently retired (they were poor quality and bent out of shape).

The recipe is from Vegan Baking one of our absolute favorite cookbooks.

The apples are from Curtis Orchard (see previous post), and the rest of the ingredients are organic and were purchased at the Common Ground Coop and Strawberry Fields in Urbana.

Apples, Apples, Apples

The season of fresh veggies and fruits is starting to wind down as we enter the colder months of Fall. The farmer's market still has a wonderful selection of herbs, squash, and other veggies; but every week we can count the items that are fading away as the season comes to a close. However, one favorite has only gotten better as the weeks have gone by this chilly October: Apples

Tom, myself, and his parents all made the trek out to Curtis Orchards to pick up some delicious Champaign grown apples.

Curtis Orchard is the Disneyland of apple picking in Champaign County. Not only do they boast a large orchard for all to enjoy the picking of fruit, they also have an amusement area for the kiddies where you can feed goats, attempt a maze, ride some ponies, or mine for treasure. As a result this orchard can get very CROWDED. My best experiences have been waiting until after Halloween to visit the orchard, since they also have a large pumpkin patch people. Of course, since Tom's parents were in town we ended up going during the big Halloween crowd, but it was still a great time.

Here's a tip, it's cheaper to buy the pre-picked apples then pick them yourself (which is a bit of a drawback on the fun, but easier to get quality fruit).

Check out the bushel of apples we bought at Curtis Orchard:

Of course a couple of my other favorite items from the orchard are the homemade apple cider (100% Curtis Orchard apples), and the delicious apple donuts.

photos from

We've made and devoured an apple pie, and today I'll be making some apple cake.

Fun ways to use your apples everyday:
  • Grate apples and add them to a salad for an added sweet crunch
  • Slice them thin and put them on a sandwich
  • Homemade applesauce!
  • Baked Apples (just core an apple and toss in some vegan-butter, sugar and cinnamon. put in the oven on a low heat and let bake for 20-30 minutes) yum!
  • Chopped up over oatmeal or cereal
  • Heat in a sauce pan with a little brown sugar to make a delicious topping for pancakes and waffles
  • and of course the classics: pie, cake, crips, crumble, brown betty, donuts, muffins, etc.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pumpkin Soup in a Pumpkin

It's been a mild summer in Illinois. Very few really hot days, and plenty of cool ones. As a result, my craving for Fall weather meals has arrived early. Thankfully, the pumpkins from our garden were harvestable this past week so I took it upon myself to finally make some delicious pumpkin soup.

I have been wanting to make this recipe since reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle last January. Barbara Kingsolver has a wonderful little story around this meal in her novel. I knew the moment I read it I'd be making it with the first available pumpkin from my garden. It can be a little tricky, but I'm still a big fan. For the recipe click here (pdf).

Some tips:
  • Make sure to scrape the insides of the pumpkin pretty regularly. Around every 15 minutes or so. The cooked flesh in the soup is definitely the best part. I started by using a spoon, but a long, sharp bread knife ended up working the best.
  • Toast some of the seeds you scoop out from the middle and sprinkle them on top of your serving.
  • We doubled the garlic because we are such garlic fiends. Don't be afraid to experiment a little.
  • Pepper is your best friend in this recipe.

Obviously we made this using soy milk and vegetable stock. It came out delicious! Serve with a nice chunk of thick, crusty bread.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Roasted cherry tomatoes

Here is a delicious snack you can make out of all those many cherry tomatoes coming into season right now. I used the sun golds that we have growing, but any type of cherry tomato will work.


- 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (enough to cover the pan that goes in your toaster oven, one layer only)
- 3 or more cloves of garlic
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary
- 4-5 fresh basil leaves torn into pieces

Spread the tomatoes out over your toaster oven pan. Peel garlic cloves and distribute among the tomatoes. Sprinkle olive oil, balsamic, rosemary and basil leaves over tomatoes. Mix up a bit with your hand or a spoon to make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Set toaster oven for 400 degrees F and roast for 40 minutes. When finished tomatoes should be bursting out of their skins.

Eat as a snack, or throw into pasta, on toast, in a salad, or on a pizza for an added burst of flavor to your favorite dish!

You can also make a larger version of the recipe in your regular oven by upping the portion size and using a baking pan.

I like them on focaccia bread:

Sunday, August 16, 2009


August is tomato month! They started arriving a few weeks ago, but it really wasn't until this week that we've been getting them in full force. Check out a few of these delicious varieties we've been picking so far:

Roma and Beefsteak

Roma and Beefsteak tomatoes are your classic red variety which are excellent for making into pizza sauce, pasta sauce, ketchup, bbq sauce, and your other favorite tomato products. Additionally, these are excellent for canning! We planted quite a lot of them just for this purpose.

Sun Gold Cherry Tomato

These yellow cherry tomatoes are great for snacking! I've also made a uniquely delicious pasta sauce with this variety. They grow like crazy and were the first to arrive this season. We put two plants in and have gotten probably a hundred from each plant!

Sweet Pea Currant

This is my new favorite variety of tomato. You can't tell from the picture, but these tomatoes are tiny! Their size make them perfect for throwing into many types of dishes such as salads, soups, quiches, etc. They are very sweet, and wonderfully delicious. I highly recommend this variety. I purchased the seeds from seed savers, so look out for them next season! I also planted one of these in a container on the balcony and it's done fairly well. I'm posting a picture below that will give you a better idea of their size; it's of just a few of the goodies we've been harvesting lately (they are a little dirty because this was taken right after they were picked!).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Peppery Potato-Leek Soup

Potatoes are in full season right now with many different varieties available at the Farmer's Market. I love love love potatoes and all the different recipes you can make with them. Potato-Leek soup is one of my favorites and as such, I couldn't resist putting together my own vegan version of the classic, hearty soup. Additionally, I added cayenne pepper to the recipe to give the soup a nice little kick.

Peppery Potato-Leek Soup


2 leeks
4 large yukon gold potatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp olive oil
½ cup vegan margarine (stick form works best)
1 tsp celery salt
2 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup vegan unsweetened cream (alternatively, you can use soy milk, but the soup will be thinner)
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper

Chop off the ends of the leeks and cut into slices. In a colander break apart the leek slices and wash thoroughly. Scrub potatoes and slice into quarters. In a large stockpot over medium, heat olive oil and melt 1/4 cup of butter. Add chopped garlic, leeks, celery salt, and potatoes and saute for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups vegetable broth and let simmer 25-30 minutes until potatoes are soft. When potatoes are ready, pulse mixture with hand blender until a thick, soupy texture develops (a potato masher also works). I suggest leaving a few chunks of potatoes behind for a heartier meal. Add rest of butter, cream, pepper, chives, salt, and cayenne. Set heat to medium-low and let sit 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve deliciously hot and tasty.

I recognize this is summer and it might be a little hot for this meal! Another option is to freeze a large portion and reheat it in a stockpot when it's a little colder outside. Either way it is a delicious and filling dinner for all to enjoy.