Monday, October 27, 2014


Best Blog Tips

These dishes made up a fine fall dinner we enjoyed the other night. They are both easy to make, and very tasty and satisfying, as well as nutritious.  Both definitely to be made again!

I recently obtained some organic whole oat groats from a friend who rolls his own oats in a little manual mill every morning for breakfast.  He buys them in a bulk and charged me much less than what I would have paid even in our local bulk store (where they are selling for $6 a pound, can you believe!). If you live in the States you can buy them for a good price from Bob's Red Mill or .  In any case, they are a really delightful whole grain and make a nice change from brown rice, bulgur wheat, quinoa, etc. I decided that they would be a great foil for a creamy melange of local apples and chanterelle mushrooms that we picked in our woods, and I was right.

I also had some Brussels sprouts in the fridge that needed using and some of my homemade Tofu "Bacon" marinating as well, so I made a hearty roasted salad, combining the two with a tasty dressing and some pecans for a scrumptious salad with plenty of protein.

Really a winner of a meal all around!

Serves 4 as a main dish

Toasting the oat groats a bit before simmering them adds more flavor. They take about the same time to cook as brown rice. The GF white bean flour thickens the sauce lightly while adding a little more nutrition.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups 
oat groats 
5 cups light vegan broth, OR water mixed with 1 tsp. sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 oz. cleaned chanterelle mushrooms, sliced
2 large apples, peeled and thinly-sliced
1/2 cup dry to medium sherry
1 cup vegan “chicken-y” broth (I like Better than Bouillon No-Chicken broth paste)
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 cup vegan creamer of your choice
1 tablespoon white bean flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional: chopped fresh parsley or chives to garnish

To cook the oat groats,
in a 2-quart saucepan heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the groats and stir them around for a minute or two to toast them.  Off the heat, add the broth (or water with salt)—and be careful of splattering when you pour the broth into the hot pan.  Use a cooking mitt to hold the pitcher of broth.  Place the pan back on the heat, turn to high and bring to a boil.  When it boils, turn it down to a simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep covered while you make the sauce.
Heat the 2nd tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy (cast iron, hard-anodized or nonstick) skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced chanterelles and apples and sauté, stir-often, until they have softened and browned a bit. Add the sherry and cook over high heat until it is reduced by about half.  Add the broth and thyme leaves and keep cooking over high heat to cook it down again to about half. Whisk the bean flour into the creamer until smooth and stir it into the pan. Stir until the sauce thickens and take the pan off the heat.
Divide the oat groats between 4 plates and spoon the creamy mixture evenly over the four portions. Serve immediately, sprinkling with chopped parsley or chives. 

Serves 2 as a main dish and 4 as a side dish
The idea for this salad came from a recipe from on it vegan, lower in fat and much, much easier, so I'm going to consider it my own!

12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced (from top to stem)
1 large green onion, trimmed and thinly-sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons aquafaba or my homemade Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or you could use dark agave nectar or brown rice syrup)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces vegan “bacon”, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used 10 slices of my homemade Tofu Bacon)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Spread the sliced Brussels sprouts, green onion and garlic on an oiled rimmed baking sheet.  Spray with oil from an oil pump-sprayer and sprinkle with a little salt.  Bake, stirring now and then, until the Brussels sprouts are tender but still a bit crunchy and starting to brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Make the dressing by whisking together the Oil Sub, maple syrup, vinegar, sesame oil and salt.

Mix the roasted sprouts in a serving bowl with the vegan “bacon” pieces, pecans, Dressing, and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

This can be made ahead, but should be served at room temperature, if possible, so, if you refrigerate it, leave it at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.


Monday, October 20, 2014


Best Blog Tips

I was so  excited when I heard about Kathy Hester's new book on cooking with oats!  I love oats and regard them as a staple in my kitchen.  They are so healthful, homey, accessible, inexpensive and, well, indispensable.  We have oatmeal (with rolled oats) almost every morning, and I had used oats to make flour, in muffins, cakes, cookies, breads, waffles and pancakes, even to thicken soups.  But, in this book, Kathy has revealed what a chameleon the humble oat can be in the kitchen-- the vegan kitchen in this case!

When I agreed to review the book and be a part of the books "blog tour", it was difficult to choose which recipes to test out!  So many amazingly original recipes!  The book is divided into 9 sections:

Do It Yourself Homemade Staples
Warming Oats for Fall and Winter (Breakfast dishes)
Cooling Breakfast Oats for Spring and Summer
Granolas and Bars for Breakfast and Beyond
Satisfying Soups and Stews
Savory Oats for Lunch and Dinner
Delightful Desserts
Drinks, Oat Milk and Even an Oat Liquor
Beyond the Dining Room: Other uses for Oats (Pet treats and personal care items)

As you can see, just about everything is covered!  It's going to be fun cooking my way through the book over the fall and winter months!  

I made two recipes for this blog post and I'll be posting the recipe for the first one, Coconut Oat Vanilla Nut Creamer.  The recipe is easy to make and requires no complicated equipment (a blender and a fine mesh strainer are required).  The pickiest part is the straining.  I made the creamer twice and I'll take you through the steps as I made it:

After blending the oatmeal and coconut to chop it finely, you soak it for 10 minutes in the water.  Then you blend for 3 minutes.  You are left with a thick liquid, which you need to strain through a fine mesh strainer.  I used two mesh strainers the 2nd time I made it, Because I was afraid that my mesh was not fine enough. And I was right.

I used a silicone spatula to press the mixture into the mesh to get the most liquid out of it that I could. I had this much pulp left after the first straining :

I decided to strain it once again through a small tea strainer-- the only thing I had that was a finer mesh than the strainers I'd used before.  It took a few minutes, because the strainer is so small, but I ended up with a nice smooth "cream".  (And I will be looking for a larger fine strainer!)

After you blend the strained liquid with the remaining ingredients in the recipe, you should have about 1 cup of the creamer.  I had a bit less, but added a little water and it was just fine (it thickens a bit in the refrigerator).

There are many uses for this lovely, mild creamer.  Drizzle on hot cereal, gingerbread, in hot drinks (see the pictures below the recipe-- it doesn't curdle in hot liquid!), and, as you can see below, on fruit!

From OATrageousOatmeals by Kathy Hester , printed with permission of Page Street Publishing
Gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free
Makes 1 cup (237 ml)
This creamer gives you the same fun flavor without all the fillers. You can play with the extracts you use to change flavors.

1/4 cup (24 g) rolled oats (can be gluten-free)
1/4 cup (24 g) finely shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1 cup (237 ml) water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) agave nectar (or sweetener of choice, to taste)
1 teaspoon (pure) vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (pure) almond extract, to taste

        Break the oats and coconut into tiny pieces with your blender. 
        Add the water and let soak for 10 minutes. 
        Blend again for about 3 minutes or until smooth, then run the creamer through a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl to strain out the oat pieces.
        Put the liquid, sweetener and extracts back in the blender and blend until the sweetener is incorporated and dissolved.

Per 1/4 cup (60 ml) serving with no pulp removed: Calories 83.8, protein 1.1 g, total fat 5.4 g, carbohydrates 9.4 g, sodium 2.5 mg, fiber 1.5 g

                                Using the creamer in strong, hot orange pekoe tea:

The second recipe I tried was Steel-Cut Oat Sausage Crumbles from the Do It Yourself Homemade Staples chapter.  It's super easy to make and makes a delicious, crunchy, herb-y topping for scrambled tofu, roasted veggies, soups, pizza or pasta dishes.

            Steel-Cut Oat Sausage Crumbles on top of our scrambled tofu

            Here are some photos of the procedure:

I know you'll love this very original vegan cookbook-- thank you, Kathy!


Monday, October 13, 2014


Best Blog Tips

What DO vegans eat for holiday meals??
The big rectangular pan holds my Tofu Pot Pie; bread and cornbread stuffing to the right; Pelka's "Wadorf-y" green salad above that; Sarah's mashed Comox Valley German Butter potatoes above that. Center right-- a trio of condiments-- orange-y homemade cranberry sauce, my homemade palm oil-free vegan "Buttah" and  vegan "ham" gravy, flanked by a platter of my roasted beets with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Above that is a platter of roasted local veggies, and beside that roasted home-grown cauliflower and red peppers.  At the top corner of the table is a butternut squash casserole; at the end of the table is my seitan "ham", and you can just see the corner of a glass bowl with lemon-almond green beans.  More description below!
We had a wonderful, relaxed afternoon vegan Thanksgiving feast at our house on Saturday, with good friends and family, 14 in all.  Alot of local produce was involved!  We're so thankful for the beauty and bounty of our island and the Comox Valley!

On the left: my stuffing (a mix of DH's wholewheat bread and my cornbread, with traditional herbs, onion and celery); Pelka's delicious, crunchy "Waldorf-y" salad (as she called it!)

My Tofu Pot Pie in the foreground (it's been a traditional holiday main dish since the 90's); my Cranberry Sauce on the right (I added orange rind, chopped orange and apple and some ginger, this year); and my roasted beets with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with parsley on the left.

David and Tanya's delicious lemony-almond green beans.

                                                     My seitan "ham"

 David and Tanya's delicious casserole of butternut squash from their garden, baked with garlic and parsley and olive oil and topped with toasted sesame and nutritional yeast "Parmesan".

 On the left, Holly's roasted cauliflower and red peppers (both from her garden); on the right, my stuffing (a mix of DH's whole wheat bread and my cornbread, with traditional herbs, onion and celery).

              Fireweed's  gorgeous roasted local veggie platter.

 Along with the homemade cranberry sauce (described above), my homemade palm oil-free vegan "Buttah" and Vegan "Ham" Gravy.

 And for dessert, along with So Delicious Coconut Non-Dairy Vanilla Bean Frozen Dessert, my Ginger Apple Crumb Pie, made with all Denman Island apples (Mutsus from our neighbors at Apple Lane Orchard, and large Russets from friend and guest, Holly).

Phoebe and Ringo got lots of lovin' from our guests and family (Sadie and Thelonious made themselves scarce!) and they were all worn out by the evening!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 6, 2014


Best Blog Tips

I've worked on this recipe on-and-off for a little while. Besides making them vegan, I wanted to use ingredients that most North Americans would be able to obtain easily. These vegan savory omelets or pancakes, however you choose to think of them, are so simple, cheap and quick to make, but absolutely addictive!  They originated as frugal street food and were eaten often in the days of reconstruction after WWII. 

According to the book "Let's Cook Japanese Food!" by Amy Kaneko, "Okonomiyaki' means "grilled as you like it". (Update: This is a nice little book of Japanese home cooking; now out of print, but I notice that there is a snazzy new 2017 version.) And that's true-- you can add all sorts of odds and sods, leftovers, etc.-- use your imagination and use what you like!

The batter traditionally contains egg, but I've used some chickpea flour, vegan egg replacers and nutritional yeast, with excellent results. This is definitely the new go-to quick anytime-of-the-day meal in our house! (DH is very enthusiastic!)  

Serves 2
For the egg replacer in the batter, you can use any number of egg subs. I recommend:
1/4 cup of blended silken tofu or plain soy yogurt; OR 1 teaspoon VEGG egg yolk sub (NOT the new VEGG baking mix) mixed with 3 tablespoons water; OR 1 1/2 tablespoons ground flax seed (preferably golden flax) blended with 3 tablespoons water until “gloppy”; OR 1 tablespoon Ener-G or Orgran egg replacer powder whisked with 3 tablespoons water.

Once you have everything assembled, the cooking will take less than 10 minutes!

3/4 cup cake & pastry flour (use white, or use white whole wheat pastry flour) OR a baking-ready GF flour mix
NOTE: If you have no cake flour, you can make your own with 7/8 cup (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) unbleached white flour whisked well with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
1/4 cup chickpea flour or soy flour (This adds color, a slightly “eggy” flavor, and good nutrition.)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup liquid egg replacer (IMPORTANT: See text above in recipe intro for a number of possibilities.)
1 tablespoon dry to medium sherry, or Japanese rice wine
2 cups thinly sliced and chopped cabbage, with any tough parts discarded (I prefer Savoy cabbage.)
2 large green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped or sliced seitan, baked tofu, or commercial vegan meat or chicken sub, OR chopped vegan “ham” or “bacon”, OR reconstituted Soy Curls or textured soy protein chunks, chopped, OR chopped vegetarian "shrimp"
Optional: 1 tablespoon vegan “bacon bits” of your choice
1 to 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
My version of Okonomiyaki Sauce:
Note: Most recipes call for Worcestershire sauce, but Japanese Worcestershire sauce is made with pureed fruits and vegetables, rather than fermented anchovies, and I didn’t have any vegan Worcestershire sauce anyway—thus, this version:
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons spicy fruit chutney (If it’s really chunky, mash it with a fork or break up with an immersion blender. This is the chutney I used.)
Sriracha Mayo:
1/2 cup vegan mayo (I use my homemade lowfat variety.)
1 tablespoon dry to medium sherry or Japanese rice wine
1 tablespoon Sriracha (Vietnamese hot sauce)
Note: Japanese mayo is sweeter than ours (more like Miracle Whip), so add a pinch of sugar if you like.

Optional Garnishes:
Chopped green onions
Toasted sesame seeds
Nori (seaweed) flakes
pickled ginger
Serve with:
I served it with some warmed-up leftover rice.  In Hiroshima, evidently they often serve it on Yakisoba noodles (my recipe for these noodles is in my book "World Vegan Feast"). But it’s good all by itself!


You’ll need 2 nonstick skillets, at least 8-inch size. (If you only have one, you’ll have to make one omelet at a time and keep the first one hot in a warm oven.) If you don’t have nonstick skillets, use well-seasoned cast iron or hard-anodized skillets, but you may need a bit more oil. If you have a large griddle, electric or stovetop, you can make two at a time on that.

Whisk together the cake flour, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Mix in water, egg replacer and sherry or rice wine and whisk in until smooth. Stir in the chopped cabbage, green onions, meat sub of choice, and optional vegan “bacon bits”, if using, mixing well.

Heat the skillets over high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil to each skillet (you may need a bit more if your skillets are not non-stick). Pour half of the mixture into each skillet and pat out with the back of a soup spoon into a round 8-inch pancake. Cover the skillets and cook for 2 minutes. 

Flip the pancakes over. If they are browning too quickly, turn the heat down a little. If they need a bit more oil, dribble just a bit around the edges. Cover and cook for another 2 minutes. Flip them over again, lower the heat a bit if necessary, cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Brush the tops of the omelets with Okonomiyaki Sauce and dribble artistically with the Sriracha Mayo.  Serve immediately with as-is or with desired garnishes and dig in!