Online Vegan Resource – The Green Plate

Just recently I discovered a fairly new resource on the web, The Green Plate. It’s a comprehensive support system launched by the animal-rights organization Mercy For Animals and its aimed to make vegan and vegetarianism more accessible and sustainable.   The site offers resources such as a meal-planning tool, grocery shopping lists, nutritional advice, recipes such as Quick Red Lentil Chili, Loaded “Cheesy” Pinto Bean Burrito and Chick’n “Parmesan” With Lemony Broccoli and guides for eating at your favorite restaurants. You can also sign up for a free Vegetarian Starter Guide as well as a newsletter. The layout of the site is simple and clean yet comprehensive. Very nice!

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Small Business Saturday

Supporting Small Business Saturday has taken on a new meaning this year as it has become much more personal for me. I haven’t ever been a huge fan of fighting the Black Friday crowds to get a deal here and there, or the newer trend of leaving Thanksgiving dinner early to head out shopping for the deal that can’t be beat. These days have always been time to spend with my family and enjoy the couple of days to unwind and reconnect. These days have been time to be thankful for the time I get to spend with my family and enjoy their company as we don’t frequently have this time as our world seems to keep imposing a “hurry up and get it done now” attitude on us. I mean, did you notice how early Christmas decorations were showing up in stores this year?? We seem to be rushed from season to season, from activity to activity.

So, Small Business Saturday is a way of reconnecting with your local merchants, the family businesses. You’ll be supporting the small business owner that is a single mom with two girls at home and one getting ready to go to college. Or the neighbor down the street who has a dad that she supports because he now lives alone for the first time after 57 years. The small business owner is your neighbor, your Facebook friend, your co-workers spouse, your niece, your assistant coach, the blogger you follow trying to reinvent herself!

Support my small business at http://www.pamperedchef.com/pws/bdorrell

Vegan Brenda’s Vegetable Stock Gravy

One of the staples of the holidays is good gravy to go with mashed potatoes! According to my daughter my mother used to make world famous gravy and apparently this recipe ranks right up there with hers! It’s a fairly simple gravy that’s savory and works well with the mashed potatoes but is versatile enough to use with stroganoff noodles.

Ingredients

1 carton low sodium vegetable stock

1 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 garlic bulb

olive oil

1/2-cup cornstarch

1 cup luke warm water

salt

pepper

Tools/Utensils

Garlic press

Whisk

Measuring spoons

Measuring cup

Saucepan

Prep bowl

Directions

Using the garlic press, press one bulb into a saucepan lightly drizzled with olive oil and sauté until aromatic and just golden brown.

Add the vegetable stock into the saucepan and the poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil. While you are waiting for the stock to boil in a prep bowl combine the cornstarch and luke warm water until it is dissolved. Add the mixture to the saucepan and turn the heat down to medium/low. Stir constantly as the mixture thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Taste prior to adding salt as the vegetable stock will have salt even with using a low sodium stock.

Note: If the gravy is too thick, add additional water. If the gravy is too thin, make additional cornstarch mixture to thicken. It is always safer to start on the side of making the gravy too thin, as it is easier to add cornstarch than to take it away. Trying to thin the gravy requires adding more liquid, which will dilute the flavor of the gravy.

Vegan Brenda’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was inspired with this recipe by a friend to come up with a vegan Peanut Butter Cookie.  The only thing to change was the egg.  I chose to use chia seeds for this one as I often use them for french toast.  Instead of a traditional peanut butter cookie, this produced a crisp, thin cookie that got rave reviews!  I then added chocolate chips to it to send it over the top!  Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup creamy natural peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 ¼ tsp. coarse salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ Tbsp. maple syrup

1 full Tbsp. chia seeds

½ tsp. nutmeg

Tools/Utensils

Whisk

Mixing bowl

Cookie sheet

Parchment paper

Cookie scoop

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

 

Combine the vanilla, maple syrup, chia seeds and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to let the mixture “activate”. The chia seed mixture should thicken and take on a egg like consistency.

 

While waiting for the chia seed mixture to thicken prepare the cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Measure the peanut butter, sugar, salt and baking soda into a mixing bowl. Add the chia seed mixture and combine with an electric mixer using a paddle attachment if you have one. Once ingredients are combined add chocolate chips to the dough and mix in.

 

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop the cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. There is no need to press the dough as these cookies will spread and thin. Space these out on the sheet as they will spread and run into each other. Bake about 12 minutes until golden brown. These turn out thin and crisp once done. Remove from the oven and let sit until cooled, about 5 minutes. Transfer from baking sheet. If you try to transfer from the baking sheet too soon they will break apart.

Vegan Brenda’s Maple Glazed Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients

1 cauliflower

¾ cup maple syrup

1 cup vegan mayonaisse

¼ cup yellow mustard

2 Tbs. soy sauce

pepper to taste

Tools/Utensils

Whisk

Mixing bowl

Cast iron skillet

Aluminum foil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°. In a bowl whisk together the maple syrup, vegan mayo, mustard, soy sauce and pepper until well combined. Set aside.

 

Prepare the cauliflower by washing and then remove the outer leaves and core the woody stem. Take caution not to cut the florets, you want to keep the head whole.

 

Pour some of the maple mixture into the bottom of the cauliflower to coat the underside. Turn it over and place it into the cast iron skillet. Pour the mixture over the top of the cauliflower and spread evenly. Loosely tent with aluminum foil. Place into a 375° preheated oven for 35 minutes.

 

Remove from oven and take the aluminum foil off. Baste the cauliflower with the mixture that is in the bottom of the pan. Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until the glaze on the cauliflower turns a deep brown.

Connecting the Vegan Community

I recently enjoyed a  vegan cooking demonstration at Bike Lane Cafe in Wilmington, DE hosted by a local Chef, Chef Nicole and Baker Evangelina (whose cupcakes can be found in our area at local eateries such as Drop Squad and Brewed Awakenings and those cupcakes sustained me while my mother was in the hospital for several months, YUM!).  The even was a lovely evening out and the demos are a fairly new endeavor by Nicole and Evangelina that I hope prove to be successful for them.  Both demonstrated their recipes for a vegan Thanksgiving dinner while we sat around tables with other people with varying interests in living the vegan lifestyle.  Opportunities for questions abounded.  Nicole and Evangelina are both vegans and knowledgeable about the lifestyle and cooking and happy to share their experiences.  As dinner was served the atmosphere had grown to a comfort level that our acquaintances were now friends and by the time our meal had been shared it was difficult to actually say good evening to our new friends.

Chef Nicole talked about how this is the best time to be vegan!  There is so much available now to vegans as far as products and the availability of products.  We have access to more than ever even though it is still often limited and frustrating.  Amazon and online ordering has made it easier but we can’t forget our local merchants.   There are small business owners out there like Chef Nicole and Evangelina who are bringing together the vegan community.  Evangelina mentioned various communities across the area that she has been able to interact with through her baking.  At times even though those communities are fairly close in locale, they may not be interacting with each other if it were not for events such as these and people such as Nicole and Evangelina bringing them together.

Being able to connect gives you a sense of belonging.  It helps you know that others are experiencing the same challenges you experience.  It gives you a chance to share your stories with others and hear the stories of others.  It gives you the opportunity to learn where to get the best deal on hemp seeds, how to store nutritional yeast, where a fabulous vegan restaurant you should check out is located, how to join the local co-op, or just network with new people on the same journey as yourself.  Thank you to Chef Nicole and Evangelina and others who are helping share their knowledge and make connections!