Celery Salad with Miso Dressing (deliciousliving.com)

Celery is surprisingly nutritious.  It's loaded with vitamins K and C. It's great in all kinds of soups and stews; I even put it in my chunky spaghetti sauce sometimes. I never really ate much celery as a kid and I often forget about eating it as a snack or raw vegetable now-a-days too. But I feel as if I have found the BEST way to eat celery! I made this salad about a dozen times this summer: small servings for my husband and me and large amounts for potlucks. Always rave reviews. 

The best thing about this salad is how unusual it is -  uncommonly delicious. Plus, it's gorgeous on a plate or large platter.

2 cloves minced garlic (or use a garlic press)
1 T light miso
1 T dijon
2 t agave
4 T olive oil

8 stalks celery, sliced diagonally into very thin slices
1/4 C toasted walnuts
coarsely ground black pepper for garnish

baby lettuce or bib lettuce

Whisk the dressing ingredients and pour over sliced celery. Mix well. Arrange celery over leaves of soft lettuce. Garnish with toasted walnuts and cracked black pepper. 

Spinach Potato Tacos (Forks Over Knives)

Vegan Month of Food Day 28: Tacos or Burritos. Where do you stand on this important issue?

OK. Today's topic is unusually cruel and incredibly difficult. Who in their right mind can choose between a taco and a burrito? But I guess if push comes to shove, I have to say 'TACO.' I do love eating food with my hands and a taco is so conveniently arranged to fit in the hand.  

My funny taco story is from decades ago when I was traveling on "La Flecha Roja" bus from Mexico City to Taxco with my girlfriend. We were saving money and traveling the cheap way, which meant there were nursing babies, drunk men and bleating goats on the bus with us. The bus stopped a million times along the way - people coming and going. I think the bus actually broke down (unless that's another life event from my travels through Mexico. I can't rightly remember.)

One stop in particular on this memorable bus trip  has stuck with me and has become a fond family joke. It was hot that day. Really hot. The bus was crowded. Really crowded. There was no breeze, no air conditioning, no relief.  We had pulled along side the road for some mysterious reason and out of nowhere came a little boy, maybe 10 years old. He was holding a plastic bag which was filled with tacos. Greasy, wet, spicy tacos. He called out in his tiny voice, "Tacos, tacos, tacos, tacos, tacos, tacos!" As the passengers paid, he reached in and handed them a tiny bean taco wrapped in more plastic. I'll never forget the look and smell of those tacos. We did not indulge in a taco that day, but since then, I have had some of the most amazing food while traveling in Mexico - tacos and otherwise.  

Here's a gourmet taco from Forks Over Knives (I reduced cumin and swapped jalapenos for poblanos)

Here's what you need:
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in small bite size pieces
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and totally squeezed of all water. Wring it out in a kitchen.
1 large onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin
1 C unsweetened plant milk
3 T nutritional yeast

Here's what you do:
Cook potatoes in boiling water until fork tender. Drain and set aside.  Sautee the onions and pepper in a tiny bit of oil, or use the water method. (Add the veg to a dry pan and slowly cook, adding 1 T of water at a time until soft and brown.) Add the garlic and cumin and cook for another minute. Add the spinach, potatoes, milk and nutritional yeast. Simmer and stir until well incorporated and thickened.

Serve on toasted flour tortillas or toasted corn tortillas. Cilantro would be a great topping. I served mine with a corn and mango salsa.

Pantry Bean Soup

Vegan Month of Food Day 26: It's cold and rainy and there's a snow drift outside your door!
What are you going to make using the ingredients you have? 

Today we're supposed to imagine that a snowdrift has stranded us in our kitchen and we must cook from our pantry. This has actually happened to me, so it's not hard to imagine at all! But I hope all you folks in sunny California and Arizona and Florida can imagine a snow drift outside your house...... here, let me help you.... 
Won't be long till the white stuff in here. 

Near my house, on Winter street. No joke. 

There's a car under there.  A beautiful blue Jetta. 

I actually did make this soup from only pantry ingredients. The photos have been on my camera for a while, so I don't have exact ingredients or amounts, but I guess that's what happens when a snow drift traps you in the kitchen! You create!
Looks like carrots, dried tomatoes, frozen peas, veg broth, and some type of grain. Maybe yellow lentils?

I see red onion and potatoes. Turmeric and curry and sriracha. I bet I did not add garlic. I think garlic is sometimes overused. 

Ted Nugent Great White Buffalo Dip

Ted Nugent 2013.jpg

Day 24: What (well known person)  would eat if they were vegan. 

Ted Nugent has to be the biggest anti-vegan on the planet, so, if he were ever to become vegan,  I decided he'd eat my Great White Buffalo Dip in honor of his most famous song "Great White Buffalo."

Haven't heard of Ted Nugent? (Where have you been living these past 4 decades?) Take a tiny peek at this Wikipedia page to see what he's all about: hunting, guns, heavy rock music, screaming guitars, anti-government, personal freedoms,  and more hunting. He also loves presidential politics; in fact you can purchase a NUGENT FOR PRESIDENT  bumper sticker. I see them around once in a while. 

Haven't heard the song "Great White Buffalo"?  It's a good read and legend among Nugent fans.

Well, listen everybody,
To what I got to say.
There's hope for tomorrow,
Ooh,we're workin' on today.
Well, it happened long time ago,
In the new magic land.
The Indian and the buffalo,
They existed hand in hand

The Indian needed food,
He needed skins for a roof.
But he only took what they needed, baby.
Millions of buffalo were the proof.

Yeah,its all right.
But then came the white man,
With his thick and empty head.
He couldn't see past the billfold,

He wanted all the buffalo dead.
It was sad
It was sad.
Oh yeah, yes indeed.
Oh yes,

It happened a long time ago, baby.
In the new magic land.
See, the Indian and the buffalo,
They existed hand in hand.

The Indians, they needed some food,
And some skins for a roof.
They only took what they needed, baby.
Millions of buffalo were the proof, yeah.

But then came the white dogs,
With their thick and empty heads.
They couldn't see past the billfold.
They wanted all the buffalo dead.
Everything was so sad.

When I looked above the canyon wall,
Some strong eyes did I see.
I think its somebody comin' around
To save my ass, baby.
I think, I think he's comin' around
To save you and me.


I said, above the canyon wall
Strong eyes did glow.
It was the leader of the land, baby.

Oh my God!
The great white buffalo
Look out! Look out!

Well, he got the battered herd.
He led 'em cross the land.
With the great white buffalo,
They gonna make a final stand.

The great white buffalo,
Comin' around to make a final stand.
Well, look out here he comes.

The great white buffalo, baby.
The great white buffalo
Look out, here he comes.
He's doin' all right.

Makin' everything all right.
Yeah, yeah, yeah

See, Nugent loves nature and respects animals. (cough, cough) Seriously, that's the interesting thing about these super-hunter type of people: they actually do love the outdoors and animals and nature and all that. They say they want 'good kills' (Is there such a thing?) and that they 'honor' animals.  

I live in Michigan (Nugent's home state) and there are millions of hunters living here. You can't impose your beliefs on people by hitting them on the head with a block of tofu, you must find common ground (good food helps) and rejoice in small victories. You must try to be in another person's footsteps and understand traditions and family heritage. Many Michigan families hunt together: that's a family tradition and it won't change quickly.

Strangely, I have lots in common with Ted Nugent besides sharing Michigan as our home. I love the outdoors, I love animals, I love freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, and  I love presidential politics. I also happen to love rock music and screaming guitar solos. I also kinda like the "Great White Buffalo" song. 

So, come on over Mr. Nugent. Your vegan Great White Buffalo Dip awaits you. (recipe HERE)

Mushroom Quesadilla

Day 23: Fusion Challenge

This was the most difficult post of the entire month for me! Ahhhh! I couldn't come up with anything remotely 'fusiony challengey'.....My brain was on freeze..... So I made a mushroom quesadilla with my homemade almond cheese. 

I remember having quesadillas with only cheese, or maybe a smear of refried beans if I was feeling fancy. These days, I put whatever I want between tortillas  - it's all good! 

Sorry....no fusion here. Just tasty food. 

Eggplant Rollatini

Day 22: Make a dish using all seasonal produce. 

Living in the great state of Michigan is such a luxury! We have it all, including as many fresh veggies and farm grown food as a person can handle. My little garden it still producing lots of veg - I have some gorgeous eggplants still tucked away. I'm thinking I'll make eggplant bacon - yes, bacon. I tried it last year and it was killer on a BLT. 

Basically, for these little bundles of garlicky goodness, I sliced eggplants very thin, roasted them, smeared them with some vegan ricotta, smothered them in sauce and finished them off with some pine nuts. Can you say, "Luscious"?

Gourmet Chickpea Casserole

Eating this was like a blast from my past, only better. 
Vegan Month of Food Day 20: Veganize an old family favorite.

You know how sometimes you're just in the mood for a good old fashioned casserole, dripping with cans of creamed soup and mayo? Yeah, me neither.....BUT I do crave comfort food and I do love casseroles and actually I am a mayo freak....so I got to thinking about today's Vegan Month of Food prompt: Veganize an old family favorite. 

It was pretty easy to decide to veganize one of my mom's best casseroles : Gourmet Chicken Casserole. You can find a non-vegan version right HERE  . What I really loved about veganizing this classic (besides ditching the chickens), is the most delicious chicken-like cream soup that I found on the INTERNET of all places! (ha ha) You can peek at that recipe HERE. 

This was completely delish...You can see we almost polished it off. My son loved it too! I always have the habit of adding too much rice to stuff and drying out the lovely sauces I have prepares. I am going to perfect this recipe and next time, more sauce and less rice. 

Honoring Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Day 18: Honor a human or non-human animal who inspires your veganism.
Today is easy for me. My life changed dramatically when I discovered "Vegetarian Food for Thought" podcasts, hosted by the awe-inspiring Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. So today I honor her. I honor the truth she speaks, the encouragement she provides, and the intelligence she uses to teach and guide the vegan curious.

Her podcasts include topics such as: nutrition, animal cruelty, the history of veganism, animals in the arts, and recipes. All episodes are delivered in such a professional and impressive way! I laugh, I cry, I wonder, and I change.

Here's something I learned from her.... and I'm embarrassed to admit it. I never knew that dairy cows must give birth in order to produce milk, just like a human must give birth to produce milk. Dairy cows, therefore, are artificially inseminated over and over again. (This means that semen is forcibly taken from male cows. Ugly image.) The baby cows just keep coming and the milk from the mother cow never goes to their babies. The babies are taken from their mothers immediately after birth. Neither baby or mother likes this. The milk  is then taken and consumed by humans. Where are the baby cows? If they're female, they become dairy cows. If they're male, they become veal or cheap beef.  How could I not have known this? I'm a pretty smart woman, but I was totally blinded by the romantic vision of happy dairy cows blissfully roaming around eating clover, begging to give us their milk. That's not the way it actually works, unfortunately. 

The path to veganism is a wide one, room for all people who are willing to open their minds and eyes and accept the truth of what is actually happening in our food industry. Colleen taught me this and so much more.

Colleen taught me how to become an excellent vegan baker. Her recipes are top notch and not too difficult for beginning cooks. She taught me that veganism is not a new fad - it has, in fact, been around for many hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Colleen taught me to be aware of what's on my plate and what's happening in the world around me.

So today, I honor and thank Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Check out her website and her amazing work on her website : The Joyful Vegan  . You won't be sorry. 

What to do when you don't want to cook or blog.

 Day 17: Make or eat a traditional dish. 

I don't know about where you live, but here in Michigan, hard cider had taken over! It's so very, very delicious! I recommend! Lucky us, we have an excellent cider mill just one mile from our front door, so I admit, we indulge once in awhile. 

Here was our first serving. 

Here was our second serving. Then we split a black bean burger. 

Tuscan Tomato Bean Soup

 Day 16: What's your favorite late summer food? 

Topic of the day: my favorite late summer food. Hands down - it's freshly grown tomatoes from my garden. You simply can not beat the flavor of a Michigan tomato, picked in September, still warm from the sun.

Lucy agrees about a fresh tomato. 

Today I made Tuscan Tomato White Bean soup from "Food Network Magazine" September 2014. All the tomatoes came from my garden, the beans from my pantry. I even grew the rosemary. That's very satisfying. I actually made a triple batch and froze many meals for winter lunches. That's another very satisfying way to use up the tomatoes from the garden.

Straight from "Food Network Magazine"
3 T olive oil (or less, to taste)
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 T tomato paste
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 cans white beans
1 quart vegetable broth
1 sprig rosemary
1/4 t red pepper flakes

Sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil being careful not to brown them. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for a while. When cool, remove the rosemary sprig and  carefully blend in a high speed blender. Serve with tasty croutons, crusty bread, and maybe a drizzle of olive oil. I served mine with a roasted tomato, chopped in small pieces. This gave the soup a nice punch of tomato. 
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