Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale!

If you didn't know already, I live out in the boonies. Out in a little neighborhood known as Trabuco Canyon. Nestled in at the base of Saddleback Mountain and the Cleveland National Forest, I am proud to say I live in one of the last rural neighborhoods in Orange County.  We ended up in this neck of the woods when we found ourselves looking for a new place to live.  We had a pretty big family.  Dan, me, and our babies...three fairly big dogs and a cat.  Anyone who rents knows how hard it is to find someone who is open minded enough to let a family like this move into their home.

So we ended up here, in an animal loving community that welcomed us, and our four legged family, with open arms.  Seriously, there are a gagillion animals around here.  Horses, peacocks, dogs, cats, goats, turtles...and those are just the domesticated animals.  We also have a lot of wildlife, from toads, to squirrels, to rabbits, to deer, to coyotes, to mountain lions, to those crazy woodpeckers that are always shoving their acorns in our door jam.

Brutus.  Photo Courtesy of Hanaeleh's Facebook Page

Just about two weeks ago, I was catching up on facebook posts when I saw that one of my neighbors shared the story of a horse named Brutus who was rescued and brought to my other neighbor's house for rehabilitation.  My husband and I were out back pulling weeds and cleaning up the backyard and the whole time, this beautiful, but scared, strong boy was staring me down like you wouldn't believe!  Was I going to hurt him?  Was I going to perpetuate the abuse he had experienced up to now in his life?  Of course not, but how was he supposed to know that?  All he had ever known in his short life was sadness.  But now, he is in a safe place, thanks to the amazing hearts of both our neighbors and the folks who tirelesslly work to save these abused and abandoned horses.  In fact, since he's been next door, he has put on weight, had his feet treated, and even received a very much needed surgery.  Now, Brutus is walking on a lead arount the neighborhood with the ever inspiring volunteers that work to save these big beautiful animals.

I had no idea that there even was a horse rescue right here in the neighborhood.  So, when it came to pick a charity to support this year, this seemed like the obvious choice.  BUT, as a vegan and animal rights advocate, I was weary of supporting a rescue that may support somethings that I (and many other vegans) might not necessarily aggree with. Horse racing, Soring (the barbaric, inhumane practice of injuring the feet and legs of horses by mechanical or chemical means to force them to perform an exaggerated high-stepping gait at competitive shows), wild mustang round get the idea.  So I did some research and asked some people in th community what they thought.  It turns out this rescue is AWESOME!  Not only do they rescue horses from dire situations, but this 100% volunteer run organization also advocates for all sorts of positive change for horses, including advocating against the use of horses for meat.  This information, plus the local aspect, made this charity the perfect choice for this year's fundraiser.  So, without further ado...

I am super excited to announce that I will once again be participating in the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale! This year I am raising money to benefit Hanaeleh Horse Rescue here in Trabuco Canyon.  This year, it really is a community event.  Even the Trabuco General Store was generous enough to allow me to use his space free of charge for the cause (So please, if you stop by the bakesale, save a few dollars to buy a juice or a soda inside to support his business as well.)  All the details can be found HERE, or on the flyer below.  Please consider stopping by, or donating to the rescue directly.

For more info and updates, please visit the Facebook Event Page.

What is the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale? It's an amazing grassroots event held annually, this year from April 26-May 4, in which people all over the world hold vegan bake sales to raise money for local animal charities.  Anyone can do it!  If you can't come to my bakesale, that doesn't mean you can't visit one in your town.  Not one in your twn?  Have your own.  The fine folks over at WWVBS have given you all the tools you need.  Their website is full of info, so go check it out.  I've always been a fan of advocacy through delicious food, so this really is one of my favorite events.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway! Fillet of Soul: AfroVegan

Fillet of Soul: Afro Vegan is Wheeler del Torro's (of Vegan Scoop fame) newest book.  Note that I say book, and not cookbook.  Because this is more than a cookbook.  Yes, there are recipes, and I will get to those in a minute, but this book is more of a personal look into the experiences del Torro has had with food as he has traveled around the world.

From what I gather, AfroVegan is the first in the Fillet of Soul series in which Wheeler will share recipes and inspirations from his travels to over sixty different countries.  In this edition, he focuses in on the time he spent as a chef in France and his explorations of Senegal, Ethiopia, the Caribbean, and the American South.

The book is divided into 2 parts, Part 1: Paris which covers French, Jamaican, and Southern cuisines.  Part 2: African Inspiration shares menus and recipes from Senegal and Ethiopia.  As Wheeler introduces each country of origin, he not only provides the recipes, but he also provides a sneak peak into the culture surrounding the foods and the impact that it has had on him and his creative endeavors in the kitchen.

The recipe I chose to make for this review is the Peanut Soup.  I chose it because it is inspired by a cuisine that I am not at all familiar with, Senegalese. I will admit that I was a bit skeptical of this soup upon glancing at the ingredients list. I mean, it calls for 2 whole cups of peanut butter.  But as you will taste upon your first spoonful, this rich, hearty, savory soup is warming to the spirit as well as the belly.

The velvety smooth texture makes this soup not only wonderful on it's own, but also as a great addition to a bowl meal.  I'm thinking chopped Fieldroast sausage, potatoes, brown rice, carrots and green beans would be so good swimming around in this soup.  I found it a little spicy as written (I like spicy so it was perfect for me) so if you are sensitive, keep an eye on that cayenne pepper.  I suppose it also depends on how spicy your curry powder is.

Peanut Soup
The author has given permission for me to share this recipe with you. It's the Peanut Soup from the Senegalese chapter, which appears on page 55. The peanut flavor of this soup is balanced by warm spices and the earthy sweetness of sweet potatoes.

2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 white onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 cups smooth peanut butter
2 large sweet potatoes, roasted, cubed and peeled
2 quarts vegetable broth
10 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
Salt and ground black pepper to suit your taste

Heat peanut oil over medium-high heat and add the curry powder. Toast, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
Add the onions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
Add cayenne and peanut butter. Stir well to combine.
Add the sweet potatoes, vegetable stock and coconut milk.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat and puree.
Add salt and pepper to suit your taste.
Serve hot.

Overall Review
This is a beautifully written, designed, and laid out cookbook.  It is packed with full color photographs not only of the food, but of the places and people that inspired del Torro to write the recipes.  The recipes are simple and effective.  They are not fussy and the ingredient lists are short and filled with easy to find ingredients.  The only drawbacks I have found is that the ingredients are not always listed in the order in which they are used in the recipe, and metric equivalents are not included in the recipes (though there is a metric conversion chart in the back of the book.) It is a great addition to any cook's shelf, and is an inspiring read.  There are not a huge amount of recipes included in this short volume, however the point is not to overwhelm with quantity and to simply focus on a few traditional recipes from different regions and represent them well, and in that respect this book is a sure success.  I am looking forward to reading all of the volumes in this series, as it gives me a chance to travel the world without ever leaving my kitchen.

Lucky for you, the Wheeler is ofering up a copy of his book to one lucky reader.  Just follow the prompts in the widget below to enter.  Sorry, this giveaway is open to US readers only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was provided with a review copy of the book free of charge, however my opinions and review are my own.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sesame Sriracha Cream Cheese Bacon Scallion Puffs

Because sometimes you just want something that tastes good and takes very little effort. I mean they are called "convenience foods" for a reason, right?

These tasty little bites taste great warm, cold, or at room temperature, which makes them the perfect food to make as an appetizer, bring to a party, or just make up a batch like me and my sister, June, did on my recent visit to Portland.  And since today is her birthday, I thought I would post this in her honor.

Happy Birthday Sweet June!
You see, we were on a day long adventure.  We were hell bent on trying as many Greyhounds as we could throughout the city.  We started at about 10 am at Juniors and worked our way through town.  By the time nightfall hit, we had, needless to say, gotten pretty loopy.  So we decided it would be a good idea to head over the the market and pick up something to snack on when we got back home.

Basically it's puff pastry (2 sheets) with Toffuti Better Than Cream Cheese (a whole 8 oz tub) that has sesame oil (about 1/4 cup) and sriracha (about a tablespoon) mixed in, with scallions (or green onions, 1 bunch, chopped) and imitation bacon bits (store bought or HOME MADE) sprinkled all over, then rolled up, sliced, and baked at 400 F for about 20 minutes, or until golden and flaky.  Take 'em out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes and enjoy.

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2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, or remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni