Chicken and dumplings, sans chicken…or any other animal by-product

Lots of recipes recommend using a faux chicken of sorts; I am a firm believer that the less manufacturing food goes through, the better. Because of this I buy lots and lots of raw ingredients that I then “process” myself by turning into soup or veggie burgers etc.  In this situation, I beefed up (excuse the pun) my veggies to create a filling dinner.

Ingredients:

Peas

Corn

Carrots (3 large)

Celery (2 stalks)

One onion

Baking mix w/ ingredients needed for biscuits

Bay leaf

Salt

Pepper

Six cups vegetable stock

¼ cup flour

¼ Olive oil

Method:

Prepare your biscuit dough! I make two cups worth with this recipe.

If using almond milk (or any fatty milk); pour in a tablespoon of vinegar and allow to sit for a few minutes, it’ll curdle and make butter milk.  Gives the biscuits a little more…woomph.

Heat olive oil in skillet, add onion, celery, and bay leaf, cook until translucent

Add carrots and continue to cook until fork tender

This is your mirepoix; the base of many soups made up of portions of carrot, onion, and celery.  The termed was coined in the eighteenth century but it was probably used well before.  This combination for soups is actually seen in many cultures called different things.  In Spain it’s called sofrito, Portuguese speaking countries call it refogado.  Italy has a sofrito as well which is a mirepoix base with spices and finely chopped meats.  Other variations include garlic or peppers; they all have the same goal in mind, creating a flavorful base with nice bits of brown stuff on the bottom of the pan to add complexity and depth to your soup, yum!

Stir in flour until everything is coated and combined

The flour and oil (or another fat of choice) make up your roux: this thickens the sauce and has been in use in French cuisine for over three hundred years.  This method crosses cultures but without variation, fat and flour simply add up to deliciously creamy soups!

Pour the stock in slowly, stirring until fully combined

Bring to a boil, pour in peas, and allow it to come back to a rolling boil

Drop your dough one by one

Spread your drops out in a rotation, it gives the dough enough time to cook so when your fresh dough drops come back around they won’t stick together.

Keep an eye on your temperature, you want a light boil and the lid off slightly.  I have a tendency to over boil this once in a while and I get a huge overflow and mess to clean up.

Cook for twelve or thirteen minutes, I constantly take taste tests to see how done they are but I’m always full by dinner.

Serve it up; this recipe is adapted from my mother’s originally and various sources throughout the internet.  A basic crowd pleaser and a comfort meal for any time of the year (although my mother refuses to cook it between March and September because it’s a “winter dish”).

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Creamy vegan sweet potato soup

Came home from the store the other day and realized I bought a second pound of sweet potatoes and hadn’t even touched the first! What a bummer…unless you love creamy root vegetable soups.

Ingredients:

One pound sweet potatoes, cubed

One large yellow onion

One cup almond milk

Bay leaf

Four cups vegetable stock

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

Cinnamon; ground for garnish

Method:

Heat oil in a large soup pot on medium heat

Sauté onion and bay leaf until browned and caramelized

                (I set half aside to add in at the end so I had some whole pieces of onion that were never blended which was nice because they actually melt in your mouth)

Add sweet potato and vegetable stock

Boil until potato is fork tender

Transfer in batches to blender or processer, blend until smooth

Transfer back to cooking pot

Add almond milk and bring back to a boil, reduce to simmer

Ready to serve; sprinkle cinnamon over top

Can be stored in the fridge for a few days

CT fishin’

Some of our favorite spots to fish and hike in CT are surprisingly close to the major cities we live and work in.  I’ve crossed a pet store parking lot to find the sweetest honey hole full of trout.  In the middle of a huge industrial park there’s a beautiful man made pond that’s full sun every time of the day.

 

We encourage you to walk around your neighborhood or near your work, keep an eye out for some fishin’ spots!

Propagating Succulents, 3 months

I started my succulent cuttings around January 26th, it’s now mid-April and I’ve been documenting some really exciting results.

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My last post noted some beautiful, healthy looking roots; these roots led to the cutest, tiniest succulents I’ve ever seen in person.  Here are the final steps to my succulent propagation experiment.

Once roots begin to form, give them some room.  I repurposed an old egg carton to hold each cutting separately.  Continue to spray with water every day until a small plant begins to appear, cut watering to twice a week, once they’re a half inch, once a week.  Once your plant has fully rooted in its final pot, you can treat it like any other hardy succulent, water when it dries completely, give it lots of bright light (not direct, these baby leaves burn!) and enjoy.

Chickpea Burgers, obviously vegan or why would I write about it.

I make my fiancé lunch before he goes to work every morning and since cutting meat all he really eats are leftovers from the night before.  I used to make him really wonderful sandwiches with different meats and cheeses, with those options out I looked for something that would make a filling base for a sandwich.

My every day battle is getting both of us the proper nutrition in tasty and interesting ways, these little power burgers do the trick!

 

Makes 8 burger sized patties

15 minute prep

10 minute rest

30 minute bake

 

Ingredients:

Two cans garbanzo beans

One sweet potato (cubed and steamed)

One onion (chopped and caramelized)

One teaspoon each: basil, parsley, oregano, olive oil

One half teaspoon salt and pepper

Two tablespoons cornstarch

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350

Mix two tablespoons cornstarch with six tablespoons water, set aside

Cube sweet potato and steam until fork tender (I use the microwave)

In medium pan sauté and caramelize one chopped onion in one tablespoon olive oil

Drain and rinse garbanzo beans, mix seasonings together, add to food processor

When ready add sweet potato and pulse mixture several times until it begins to mix

Add the caramelized onion

Scrape sides occasionally and continue to pulse until the mixture begins to stick together

Transfer from processor to mixing bowl, stir in cornstarch

Allow the mixture to sit for ten minutes

Rub coconut or olive oil on baking sheet, form eight patties

Bake twenty minutes, sprinkle oil on top and flip, bake ten more minutes

Serve immediately, or save finished patties in Tupperware for a few days.

 

To reheat:

Heat olive oil in pan on medium heat, add patties and cook til heated through and crispy.  Another one of those recipes that tastes better after 48 hours.

 

 

 

Vegan Taco Tuesday

I’ve been on a roll with vegan dishes lately, this one got a five out of five stars from my manimal!  I just had to share.

 

Ingredients:

One jar medium chunky salsa

One avocado (pitted, cubed)

One cup cooked red quinoa

One cup bean spread (smush up beans with a bit of salsa! BAM vegan bean spread)

Corn tortillas or shells (this easily makes twelve shells)

About twenty cherry tomatoes (halved)

 

Method:

Heat oven to 250, bake shells for 5-8 minutes.

In one bowl mix up your bean spread using one can of beans (black beans are delightful) with half a jar of salsa, a squeeze lime juice on top.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cubed avocado, halved tomatoes, the rest of the salsa, and the quinoa.

Once shells are done, spread a bit of the bean dip inside, stuff with tomato avocado mixture, serve with limes to squeeze and Sriracha on the side.

 

The beauty of this recipe is how incredibly quick and simple it is.  Keep on task and it can be done in twenty minutes, it’s filling and satisfying, store the rest in the fridge for a few days, it tastes best after 48 hours.  Enjoy!

 

Woven Shelves Barstool DIY

Living in the attic of a retired biology teacher gives me a lot of access to many different materials to fuel my DIY obsession.

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I needed an end table and found this bar stool lying around, the main issue was creating shelves in as low-tech a way as possible. I decided weaving would be the sturdiest option with crochet edges to tighten it all together, the shelves then had plenty of tension to support plants, knick-knacks, and brick-a-brack.

 

 

 

 

 

I began by wrapping yarn between two rungs on the stool, I made one consistent layer of yarn, this is what I would weave into.  I then strung a contrasting color over and under every two pieces of yarn, keeping the rows about a half inch apart.  I repeated this process on the top rungs.

 

 

 

 

I knotted the ends together then crocheted a single stitch up the loose ends, effectively hiding them, tightening the weave, and adding a border.

 

 

And that’s that! Free, adorable, personalized end table.

 

Propagating succulents – 1 month

After one month of patience and obsession, I’m pleased to present…roots!  I’ve learned a lot and am excited to have developed a method to continue growing succulents.

 

Propagating succulents seemed too easy, so I had to try it for myself.  First I went down to my local big box hardware store and picked up a few succulents off of the sales rack, they were nice and leggy so I didn’t feel bad taking them apart, and they only cost a dollar each!

I also bought some clear Tupperware to keep the plants relatively safe around my cats, I cut strips out of the top to allow for more air flow and light.

Next I plucked the leaves off and laid them out to callous over, after about a day they were ready to be laid over cactus soil.  I made sure to spray the leaves generously with water once a day.

About two weeks in some leaves had some tiny roots, and after three half of my leaves showed some really beautiful roots.

Today I took out the more mature plants I had my leaves laid out amongst and planted them separate, they require much less water than the leaves.

After taking out the leaves that were wilted and had no signs of roots, I had twenty five promising, rooting plants.  About a 50% success rate.

I’m quite pleased with the results and will be continuing the process until I have ninety wedding favors!

 

Pineapple Stitch Variation

I fell into a Pinterest hole the other day looking for a new stitch to try when I came across a vintage picture of the “Pineapple Stitch”.  I got started right away, this stitch gives a beautiful thickness and texture to the blanket and the color changes were really exciting.

In the post it described a second row that I didn’t like because it began bunching and curling, so I pulled the first few rows and tried again with the following variation.

Chain a row (70).

Insert hook into first chain, pull through skip one chain, insert hook and pull through, yarn over and pull through three loops on hook.

**Chain one.

Insert hook into the stitch you worked last (the second stitch you pulled through), skip one chain, pull through the next.  Yarn over and pull through. ** Repeat to the end of the row.

At the end of the row chain three, pull through very first stitch, skip one, pull through the second.  You should have three on your hook, yarn over and pull through.

*Repeat star to star*

For my blanket: four rows of my primary color (neon pink) then one row each of grey, yellow, purple, and navy, then back to pink.  Because of all the color changes there were a lot of strings hanging off the end that inspired the fringed border.

This was a personal variation of a pineapple stitch I found on Pinterest, it took a bit of finagling to keep the ends even.

 

 

Snow Day Crochet (and other activities that don’t rhyme as well)

We’ve had a few snow days recently, I took the time to finish up a few projects around the attic. 

 

Two blankets combining the moss stitch and half double.  The cats have a really hard time watching me crochet, they usually end up on top of whatever I’m working on.

 

 

We took a walk down to the local convenience store for some supplies, wandered about Fulton Park and held hands a lot.

 

 

Repotted some plants I rescued from the sale section at Lowe’s, hung a string to help keep my vine plant off the floor, it seems happier with the support.

 

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Spent every minute with these guys.