Friday, October 23, 2020


...on leftovers and pantry items, but take the wins where you can.

The lentil soup and vegan chili I made a few days ago are now all gone. Yes! (Anyone who has ever batch cooked and then had the food stare back at them for a week -- or more -- will understand my excitement.) My husband helped, thankfully, and we both decided that the next batch of lentil soup should have more kick to it, both as far as salt and spice. Easy to fix.

As promised, I took the squash that had been sitting on my kitchen table for a while and turned it into a pie. The original intention had been a pudding, but when my husband saw the vegan gluten-free pie crusts I had in the freezer, he made the case for pie. This was very easy. I took the whole squash -- barely medium, closer to small -- stabbed it a few times, put it in a pan with a little water, and baked it at 400 for about 40 minutes. I let it cool over night, then cut it in half, scooping out the seeds and pulling away the peel. That went into a blender with some salted cashews (that was what I had), water, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, about a cup of pitted dates, fresh ginger (because I didn't have dried), and then the usual suspects for pumpkin pie spice, including cinnamon, nutmeg (my absolute favorite), and cloves. This went into said frozen pie crust and baked for 50 minutes in a 375 degree oven, and after a few hours of cooling was delicious. I was worried that this wouldn't set up well, but the texture is perfect.

Realized this morning that I was running low on my homemade yogurt. I had about a tablespoon and a half left, which is the perfect amount for starter, so I soaked what was left of the salted cashews with the same amount of salted pistachios, then several hours later blended the nuts with the diluted yogurt, now starter. It is currently sitting on my kitchen window sill, and I have a feeling it will be just fine. Why cashews and pistachios? Primarily because the only other nut I had was walnuts, and that's something my husband can't eat. 

Cashew-pistachio yogurt, which I swear tastes better than it sounds

About six weeks ago my husband and I got a big box of tea from the Algerian grocery store at Haymarket, and quickly realized that the tea was too bitter. I had also ordered some Scottish tea (among other things) from Adagio Tea, which my husband liked much better but which he felt guilty about using too much of while we had to slog through the bitter tea. Because I could not stand to look at a quart and a half of tea that neither of us really liked for too long, a few weeks ago I decided it was time to crank up the kombucha and chai machines again. 

The chai recipe I use is essentially the recipe from How Not To Die: six cups of water plus however much fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, cardamon, and tumeric you want, plus some ground dried orange powder I made a few weeks ago (dehydrate the orange peel then grind up in your blender). Boil the water and spices for about ten minutes, then turn off the heat and steep one-quarter cup of tea for three minutes (yes, that's a lot of tea, which is why you don't go over three minutes). Most people could use this with an equal amount of milk and a teaspoon or two of sweetener; I usually blend it with a handful of nuts (whatever I have), one or two dates, and an equal amount of water. Hot or iced, it's delicious, and the recipe above will yield about four servings, if you're not overly greedy.

The kombucha recipe I use doesn't differ too much from what everyone else uses. Worthy of note: 1) my starter was a half cup of store-bought kombucha I had a few weeks ago, mixed with some strong tea (possibly re-brewed from some tea my husband had lingering) and a lot of sugar. After a couple of batches, I started wishing for something that wasn't sugar, and then I noticed that my favorite brand (GT) lists kiwi juice in the ingredients, not cane sugar. I couldn't find any frozen juice concentrates that didn't have corn soup (what is wrong with these companies?), so I broke down and bought a bottle of white grape juice (and yes, I verified that it doesn't contain anything but juices). I used this as part of my next starter batch of kombucha, and I was shocked at how much more quickly it fermented. Win!


Even in this fuzzy picture, you can see the grape juice-fed SCOBY

...Except that I'm trying to avoid glass bottles, and the juice was also not cheap. Yesterday I picked up a can of organic peaches (and yes, I verified again that it only contained fruit and juice), and when I was contemplating what I could make with the peaches and how I could reuse the juice syrup, it occurred to me that this would be a perfect substitute for grape juice. So woo hoo! I'll let you know how this turns out.

One more thing about the kombucha: using a tip Jack Monroe left on their Twitter account, I purchased some "blueberry nectar" when I got the grape juice. My final step with kombucha is to separate it from the SCOBY and let it ferment with about a cup of juice mixed in for a day or so. It is SO good with blueberry! I'm wondering now if I can use another batch of diluted canned fruit juice, or blended canned fruit...?


Blueberry kombucha, which tastes as good as it sounds

While I puzzle that out, I'm going to celebrate tonight by making a vegan quiche in the gf pie crust. I am SO excited to make a simple tofu pie since for so long I couldn't eat one. And I'll also make the long-promised Thai tofu curry since the coconut milk and Thai curry paste are staring at me (pretty much from the same place the squash was). It's the little things that make life good.

Deb in the City

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