Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tampa Bay VegFest 2011

Last Saturday, October 15th, was the second annual Tampa Bay VegFest. I'm happy to say, this year's was bigger and better than last year. And unlike last year, I remembered to take pictures of the food I ate. Bonus.

The boyfriend and I started out by making a lap of all the booths. We ended up eating a ton of free samples that way. Gardein, Dandies vegan marshmellows, So Delicious vegan ice cream, Field Roast sausages, and more. It was pretty fantastic. So by the time we made our way over to the food vendors we weren't actually super hungry. So we both got a $3 veggie dog. Turned out to be a good choice. I had mine on a whole wheat bun with ketchup, onions, and relish. It was just the right amount of food after feasting on samples.

Of course, we couldn't skip dessert. One of the vendors was a vegan ice cream truck, selling soft serve style ice cream made from bananas. I ordered a medium with chocolate sauce and graham crackers. It was really, really good. The texture was spot on and the combination of banana, chocolate, and graham cracker is just about perfect.

I also made new friends at all the different animal rescue organizations. But my best friend, the one who tempted me the most to make an impulse adoption, was Myla. She's about 2.5 months old and a collie boxer mix. She was as sweet as can be. Many of the other dogs seemed pretty bored with being petted and adored, and pretty much ignored me when I pet them. But Myla kept licking me and nipping my fingers. Oh my goodness, I wanted her so bad. It was really hard for me to walk away. I mean, look at that face!

All in all, it was a successful VegFest. The weather was perfect, the food was great, and the animals were adorable (and not on the menu). I'm not sure if I'll still be living in Tampa this time next year, but if I am, I will certainly return for round 3. And this Saturday I'll be going to the Central Florida VegFest in Orlando. It's hard work, going to festivals made especially for me and eating all this food, but someone has to do it!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Day of Pumpkin Puree

I participate in a pretty awesome local, organic buying club. Unlike a regular CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) instead of paying for an entire season up front, we buy per week. For $25 I receive between 10 and 15 pounds of local, organic produce from a family farm. I can cancel or change my weeks at any time. I usually buy every other week. I started participating in the club last March. It went on hiatus during the summer due to Florida's growing season, but it just started back up last week. I love the club because it really forces me to be creative in the kitchen. I receive fruits or vegetables that I've never heard of before or that I don't normally cook with. So one exciting item we received in our box last week was an entire calabaza pumpkin, a tropical variety. The pumpkin had a lot of potential, but I decided to turn the pumpkin into a giant batch of pumpkin puree.

First, rinse the outside of the pumpkin to get any dirt or grit off. Then cut the pumpkin in half. For this job you'll need the biggest, sharpest knife you have. And be very careful. It took a little maneuvering but eventually I got my pumpkin into two halves. Once the pumpkin is split in half, scoop out the guts and the seeds. Rinse and save the seeds for roasting later.

Then go ahead and slice the halves into slices about an inch wide. You want all your slices to be roughly the same size so they cook evenly. Line the slices of pumpkin on a baking sheet (I ended up needing two baking sheets). Roast the pumpkin in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes. I didn't drizzle the slices with any oil or salt because I wanted the puree to be simple and pure.

Check the doneness of the pumpkin by sliding in a knife. If it slides in easily then they're done cooking. Take them out of the oven and let them cool. Once cool, use your knife to remove the peel. When all the peels are removed toss the slices into the food processor. Blend until smooth. You'll need to do this in batches. My pumpkin yielding 7.5 cups of pumpkin puree.

Now, you can store puree however you want. But unless you plan on using a crazy amount of pumpkin in one week, I recommend freezing it. I also recommend freezing it in pre measured portions. I placed one cup of puree into a ziploc bag. I squeezed all the air out and then sealed the bag. This allowed for easy stacking in the freezer. For a quick way to defrost, fill a bowl with hot water. Place a bag of puree in the water for a few minutes until defrosted.

If you live in the Tampa Bay area and are interested in buying local, organic, seasonal produce click here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bluebbery Waffles with Lemon Glaze

Every Thursday I have a standing brunch date with my friend Sammi from Vegan Pandamonium. This started out as a going out to lunch date. But one week, when I was trying to save some money, I asked if she would like to come over and I would make brunch instead. And since we're both still trying to save money, and we love cooking for each other, brunch has stuck.

This week we both went all out trying new recipes. I really enjoy waffles but have never really found a recipe that turns out the way I want it to, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Well today I finally found a recipe that did just that. It came from VeganYumYum with just a few small adjustments on my part. This will now be my go-to waffle recipe. You can definitely change it up with the fruit of your choice.

Blueberry Waffles:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (I prefer unbleached)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1-2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
Preheat waffle iron. In one bowl combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine wet ingredients. Then add dry to wet in 2-3 batches. Gently fold in blueberries. Use about 1/2 cup batter per waffle. My waffle iron cooks the waffles in about 7 minutes. Place finished waffles on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm.

Lemon glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of almond milk
Sift powdered sugar. Add all other ingredients. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over waffles.

***A good tip from VeganYumYum. If you use frozen blueberries, reserve two tablespoons of the dry ingredient mixture. Toss the frozen blueberries with the dry ingredients, then fold into the batter at the last minute. This keeps the batter from turning a greyish purple color.
***I subbed vegan sour cream for soy yogurt in the original recipe.