In a Bit of a Pickle

After the winds and rain subsided, I checked on my garden and discovered two previously hidden cucumbers.

I remember planting a few seeds of the pickling variety but everyone was all mixed up and I couldn’t tell which was which until I saw these gigantic specimens.

I haven’t completely decided if I’ll eat them fresh and possibly not pickle them, because I didn’t discover any others that were ready.

And this one, too, not quite as deformed.

I’ve had success with pickling vegetables, here’s a post about that:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2015/07/06/easy-peasy-refrigerator-pickles-meatlessmonday/

There was an unexpected sprinkle this morning; not forecasted, but welcome nonetheless.

Happy Monday!

EASY Three-Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

The Angel Kids always request my homemade ice cream when they visit but that usually involves ingredients I personally don’t like to use or eat, although I do it for them.

Feeling sorry for the chunk of body part that was chopped off a couple days ago, I thought that a bowl of chocolate ice cream would make me feel much better.

I didn’t want to go to the store and buy vegan ice cream loaded with all kinds of chemicals and other ingredients that help it replicate dairy ice cream and I’m allergic to coconut which is the mainstay for most vegan ice cream, so I decided to make my own.

I had an unopened container of almond milk from the kids’ recent visit and decided to do a little experimenting.

The result was SO satisfying. It actually tastes very similar to a fudgesicle and that’s not a bad thing.

It’s not super creamy but it’s very chocolate-y and yummy. Substituting one cup of full fat coconut milk for one cup of almond milk or a little corn syrup would provide a much smoother texture but all I really cared about was the chocolate. If I make it again, I will add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup, but this is a quick and easy recipe.

I think this is a great recipe to use for homemade popsicle molds. I didn’t, but you could add mini chocolate chips or berries and that would be yummy, too.

It’s fun to experiment and I’m never sorry if I fail because I’ll try something different next time, but this was a success.

PS If you’re counting, I don’t consider vanilla to be an ingredient!

Grape + Blueberry Jam

All my grapes became ripe at the same time which made an easy decision to embark on a grape jam project.

I found lots of recipes for grape jelly but I wanted to include some of the texture that a whole grape can provide and not merely strain out the skins and pulp for the juice.

Always experimenting, I also had a half full container of 100% pure blueberry juice that I used for the Angel’s smoothies so they wouldn’t be refused because they were a yucky GREEN color. It perfectly masks the kale and spinach, teehee.

Every summer, my mom and I used to make pickles and jams and preserves, enough jewel-colored Mason jars to last until the following spring, but I haven’t done it in a while.

She was way more scientifically precise than I could ever hope to be as I never had her patience, but most of the time my creations taste pretty good.

It’s hot and humid, not the greatest weather to cook pots of boiling grapes, but once I started, I was committed to finishing this project.

I didn’t can them in a proper water bath but filled containers for the refrigerator and freezer.

The most time consuming part was separating every grape from its tiny little stem–thank goodness my grapes were seedless — so I set aside about four cups to use whole, and cooked the rest of the grapes separately to strain. I might have zero patience but I’m clever!

At the last minute I decided to add ginger and cinnamon. Those two ingredients elevated the flavor more than I could have imagined.

I lost the identification tag, so I don’t know exactly what type of grape I have, but they’re seedless and very sweet. This was only half of the grapes I used.

I cooked them in two pots, added the sugar equally along with ginger and cinnamon, and skimmed off the white foam:

Strained the one pot of grapes that weren’t cleaned as diligently…

After that, I combined both pots of grapes, added the blueberry juice and pectin, let it come to a rolling boil for another minute, and the mixture was ready to fill freshly sterilized containers. I wasn’t going to use pectin because I thought there was enough natural pectin, but I had some and it’s vegan, so I added it.

Disaster! I’m sure most people are smarter than me and wouldn’t fill plastic containers with boiling liquid. Life lessons, right? I licked a bit off the counter and it’s DELICIOUS. Don’t you think that container reminds you of Picasso’s melting clocks? I do! Such a mess.

Much better!

I had to hurry and sterilize a lot of glass jars and didn’t have time to scrape off the labels, but they’re clean and bacteria-free. After cooling, it jelled beautifully. I’m very happy with the results!

Here’s the recipe I created.

Happy Valentine’s Day | For Chocolate Lovers | Vegan Lentil Brownies

I’ve had a bit of success with Black Bean & Beet Brownies and Lentil Cookies but I’ve never tried simply Lentil Brownies, so I baked some this morning before it got too hot to have the oven on.

They look good, right? But the real question is how do they taste?

If you’ve ever had Black Bean Brownies, you might have detected a slightly weird beany texture, so I hoped this lentil version would eliminate that.

These brownies are TRULY surprisingly yummy! They’re very moist and chocolate-y. I can’t tell they contain lentils, which IS a wonderful source of protein, so this is also a healthy snack.

Tips:
1. Really cook the lentils until they’re mushy.
2. Refrigerate the pan for at least a couple hours after frosting before cutting and eating.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Seriously Amazing *Vegan* Herb Crackers

Since we’re in a seemingly neverending spiral of virus mutations, the unvaccinated, and overworked healthcare professionals, I’m still trying to limit my exposure to PEOPLE. Not that it’s too difficult for me as I’m solitary by nature, but it’s still kind of annoying.

I had done my Traders shopping and when I came home, I realized that I had totally forgotten to get the kind of crackers I love to accompany Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese. Read about my love for THAT here: https://enchantedseashells.com/2021/04/06/yum-miyokos-vegan-cream-cheese/

Instead of doing what was normal practice in the old days, I didn’t run out and make that one purchase. Resourceful me decided to bake my own crackers. I haven’t done that in years and it’s so easy, I wonder why it took me this long to remember that! An added plus is no wasted plastic or containers, so I’m helping the environment too…

Tips: I substituted 1/2 cup buckwheat flour for all purpose flour. Next time I won’t do that because buckwheat is such a strong flavor. While it’s lovely in pancakes and soba noodles, it’s a bit too much here.

On the other hand, I gotta say that the smell of the herbs in the oven was so fragrant! It perfumed the entire house. I used all the herbs I have in the garden, but you can add whatever you like, including poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds. **Roll extremely thin for crispiest crackers. I didn’t cut them in perfect shapes or use a pizza cutter because I was too lazy and wanted them done in a hurry, but I kind of like the rustic look.

Ginger-Lime Quick Bread **Vegan**

All that rain we had yesterday made it literally impossible NOT to bake, so I did.

We had about 1 1/2 inches of rain and our strongest winds were 45+ mph. Stores closed in our little village because of power outages and streets were flooded.

My friend’s lime tree exploded with limes last week, so now I have about fifty limes as a result of her generosity. I juiced A LOT OF THEM and froze in ice cube trays. These are the juicy sweet Mexican limes that are so amazing in margaritas and guacamole. LImes + tequila = heaven.

I created this recipe after reading tons of similar ones on the internet.

After the worst of the storm passed, it was still windy but FREEZING. A hot mug of fragrant ginger tea was just what I needed along with a couple slices of yummy Ginger-Lime bread.

It came out soo moist and tender, I definitely recommend and will make again and again.

PS I can’t change the recipe graphic but I forgot the amount of ginger tea. Should read 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup.

Glorious Garden #WordlessWednesday

All things green.

Hiding in plain sight…

This easy-to-propagate perennial spicy basil is almost too pretty to eat…photobombed by bee-friendly borage.

Things have been hard to grow this year, but I’m happy to see this zucchini…

The Ultimate Avocado

Feast your eyes on this beauty!

It’s a Reed avocado, a gigantic variety grown by a very generous friend. I’ve tried to grow avos but don’t seem to have the green thumb it takes to be successful.

It’s more than twice the size of a regular Fuerte avocado; about six inches long and weighs approximately two pounds.

I LOVE avocado in its purest form; split open and scooped out of the shell; beautifully green, rich, smooth, and creamy. Guacamole is my second favorite way to eat avos–what I don’t really care for is the trendy avocado toast, it tastes weird to me.

Did you know that the seed is edible too?

Practically everyone knows how good avocados are for health, but the nutrient contents of the seed itself might just surprise you. The seed contains about 70 percent of the total nutrients in the whole avocado. For its antioxidants and soluble fiber count alone, the avocado seed single-handedly beats any other fruit and vegetable available on the market. To include the seed in your diet also means to benefit from more potassium, copper and vitamins B, C, E and K than if you simply relied on the pulp.

The Avocado Pharmacy

From an even greater health standpoint, the seed is antimicrobial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. Simply because of its profoundly high antioxidant count, it helps to reduce free radical damage inside and out. This has the benefit of reducing cholesterol levels, boosting immunity and protecting the skin from wrinkles or even sun damage.

Preparing The Seed From Scratch

To enjoy the wonderful benefits of the avocado seed, simply crush or grate the seed and blend it into a smoothie. It can also be juiced or turned into tea by steeping it in hot water. If you’re not going to use it right away, it can be dried and stored for later. The avocado seed has a bitterness quite unlike the pulp, but it is nonetheless enjoyable once you get accustomed to it.

Imagine how many people simply trash the seeds after they eat the “good” part of the avocado. This often neglected part of this super food is just one more bonus that adds to the legendary status of the avocado. Learn more at: https://www.avoseedo.com/

Have you ever tried to eat an avocado seed?

Yummy Vegan Veggie Lentil Soup

My doctor totally depressed me cos she told me her husband’s best friend just died from Covid-19 and because she’s on the frontlines treating patients, she cautioned me to be extra careful and stay home and away from people.

I decided it was a great day to make another version of my favorite hearty and healthy soup.

Lentil Tofu Veggie Soup

Ingredients:
*Carrots, 3 large
*Celery, 2-3 stalks including leaves
*Tofu, whole package
*Lentils,1.5 cups
*Kale, 2 cups
*Broccoli, half head
*Canned organic tomatoes, 28 ounce can
*Bay leaves and other garden herbs

–Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large pot.
–Add roughly chopped carrots and celery. I don’t like onions so I didn’t add them, but go ahead and chop up half an onion if you like them.
–When they’re nicely browned and have released a lot of flavor, add dried lentils and six cups of water along with a couple bay leaves.

–Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer.
–Add bite-sized pieces of broccoli and tofu along with chopped kale.
–Simmer for about an hour, stir every once in a while. Add more water as needed.
–Add a large can of diced tomatoes in juice and any herbs to taste.
–I picked sage and oregano and thyme from the garden.
–Add 1/2 teaspoon pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt (optional).

–Serve in a large bowl with freshly chopped cilantro and basil. I’ve been lucky enough to have beautiful lettuce this season, so I picked a few fresh leaves for a salad to accompany this delicious soup.

Sometimes I make a crusty French bread but I didn’t feel like it because I’m sad about almost losing our precious democracy but I might make vegan biscuits tomorrow cos I’ll eat this soup for a few days.

It gets better every day.

Adding Spice to My Life

I don’t know if it’s similar to the Great Toilet Paper Hoarding of 2020 or a supply chain issue, but when I used the very last drop of my Tapatio hot sauce, every store I went to was out of it.

I tried them all: Target, Stater Brothers, even WalMart, and there was the little sign on an empty space where the Tapatio should have been.

There were other hot sauces to choose from: Valentina, Crystal, Cholula, whatever Trader’s brand is, but not Tapatio. I was looking specifically for Mexican hot sauce, not Tabasco or Sriracha–it had to be Tapatio, my favorite.

I didn’t really want to order it online but I would have, except that at my final stop at Vons I found the VERY LAST BOTTLE of Tapatio, a giant thirty-two ounce size, so I’ll be happy and spicy for quite a while.

Funny enough, they were also completely out of the small sized bottle, so that’s all there was to choose from.

Now I can enjoy a yummy quesadilla with vegan cheese!

Do you have a favorite hot sauce?