Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tea is Blue

Remembering a favorite song from my teen-age years as I share this vignette of favorite blue things.

Love is Blue

by Andy Williams

Blue, blue, my world is blue
Blue is my world since I'm without you
Gray, gray, my life is gray
Cold is my heart since you went away.

Red, red, my eyes are red
Crying for you alone in my bed
Green, green, my jealous heart
I doubted you and now we're apart.

When we met how the bright sun shone
Then love died, now the rainbow is gone.

Black, black, the nights I've known
Longing for you so lost and alone
Gone, gone, the love we knew
Blue is my world now I'm without you.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fragrance Extraordinaire

It's that time of year! Spring has erupted and the lilacs are in full bloom! I can see the row of lilac trees in the front yard, all abloom in several shades of purple. They were started from shoots taken from my in-laws home more than twenty years ago. They have thrived and ended up growing so tall that I could no longer reach the blossoms. Last year we decided to trim them to a manageable height, and although we were careful to trim at the right stage of their bloom cycle, I will admit to being somewhat fearful that we wouldn't have blossoms this year. But they are more abundant than ever! A walk down lilac row is filled with their fragrance. Extraordinary! Just wonderful. And with the gentle hum of bees as they work their magic among the blossoms. Someone is going to be fortunate to have some lilac honey in their hive! It's the little blessings, like lilacs, sweet fragrance, and beauty that make life happy and complete.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Spicy Vegetable Curry

Spicy Vegetable Curry

2 c. potatoes, cubed
1 c. cauliflower florets
1 large onion, slivered
1 c. carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium eggplant
4 Tbsp. oil
2 - 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
one 2-inch piece ginger, finely minced
2 Tbsp. green chilies
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2-3 Tbsp. curry powder
1 1/2 c. vegetable stock
3 c. canned tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2/3 c. coconut milk
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper 
salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, potato and cauliflower and cook gently for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, green chilies, ginger and spices. Cook and stir for 1 minute.

2. Add stock, tomatoes, and eggplant and season with salt. Cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Mix cornstarch and cold coconut milk together until smooth and stir into mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve hot with Basmati or Saffron steamed rice.

Yield: 18 half-cup servings

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Vegetable Stir Fry

1 lb. firm tofu
3 teaspoons McKay's Chicken-like seasoning
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced thin
3 stalks celery, sliced thin at an angle
2 medium carrots, sliced thin at an angle
1 medium green or red pepper, sliced in thin strips
2 cups broccoli florets
3 - 4 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup lightly toasted cashews or slivered almonds
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger root


1/4 cup soy sauce or Tamari
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup water

Drain tofu, rinse and squeeze out excess water. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place tofu in large non-stick skillet, add chicken seasoning and mix to coat. Saute until tofu is browned, adding oil as necessary. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

To make sauce, dissolve cornstarch in soy sauce in a small bowl. Add rest of ingredients and stir to mix.

Have all vegetables chopped and ready before proceeding with cooking.

heat a small amount of oil over medium-high heat in large wok, skillet or saucepan. Add vegetables in following order, sauteing briefly (1 - 2 minutes) between each addition:  1) onions, 2) celery and carrots, 3) green or red peppers, 4) broccoli. When broccoli has turned bright green and is still crunchy, add tofu and stir fry sauce.  Cook, stirring constantly until sauce thickens and vegetables are crisp tender. Add cashews or almonds, ginger and green onions. Serve over cooked rice, couscous or Oriental noodles.

Variation: Substitute a frozen Oriental vegetable mix for fresh vegetables. Add water chestnuts, fresh or canned bean sprouts, or very vegetables as desired.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Corn Tamale Pie

Savory tofu mixed with vegetables and topped with a cornbread topping. Yum. It can't get much better than that!

1 lb. firm tofu, frozen, thawed, squeezed dry and cubed
1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce or Tamari
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix together soy sauce, peanut butter, onion and garlic powder. Work mixture into tofu until well coated. Fry in non-stick skillet until tofu is browned, adding oil as needed to prevent sticking.

Vegetable Mixture:

1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chill powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
1 cup sliced black olives
2 cups frozen or canned whole kernel corn
1 15-oz. can chili beans with liquid
1 4-oz. can green chilies

In a large non-stick skillet, saute onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a small amount of oil until soft. Add chili powder, oregano, and cuming. Saute briefly. Mix in rest of ingredients and browned tofu. Pour into a 9 X 13 inch oiled baking dish. Cover with cornbread topping.

Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until cornbread is golden.

Cornbread Topping

Mix together in a bowl:

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup unbleached flour (or gluten free alternative)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir in:

1 cup soymilk or milk
2 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon honey

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Creamy Tofu Garlic Dip

Fresh herbs, mustard, and creamy tofu create a delight for the taste buds.

8 oz. soft tofu, drained
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon)
2 teaspoons minced fresh chives or green onions
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoons stone-ground prepared mustard
Salt to taste

In a food processor or blender, puree' tofu. Pour into a small bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Serve at room temperature as a dip or spread, with crackers or vegetables. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

As with just about anything made with tofu, dips taste better after having been refrigerated several hours or overnight, giving the flavors a chance to meld.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Cream Cheese & Tofu Dip

A creamy dip to serve with raw vegetables or homemade crackers or chips. Enjoy!

3/4 cup soft tofu (6 oz.), well drained
1/2 cup light cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese (4 oz.) or Tofutti
1/2 teaspoon herb-and-spice seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1 green onion, minced

In food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth. Transfer to serving bowl and serve, or cover and refrigerate until needed.

*For a vegan version, substitute Tofutti for the cream cheese in this recipe.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Zucchini Frittata

Abundant in vegetables, the tofu base and tomato topping make this the perfect addition to any brunch or lunch table.

Saute' lightly until tender-crisp:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
4 medium zucchini, sliced thin
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced

In a separate bowl, mix together well:

3/4 lb. tofu, blended
1/2 cup tofu, mashed
1 Tablespoons soy sauce/tamari
3/4 cup flour (or gluten free alternative)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Prehead oven to 350 degrees F. Stir the sauteed vegetables into the tofu mixture. Scoop out 1/3 cupfuls of mix onto a sprayed baking sheet. Lightly flatten into circles. Bake for 15 minutes on one side, flip and bake 15 minutes more, or until golden brown. Serve over wide flat noodles or garlic and parsley fettuccine topped with tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce Topping:

1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 Tablespoons parsley, chopped

Mix all ingredients together in small saucepan. Simmer 15 - 20 minutes. Spread over frittatas.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Cashew Cream for Scones

Those with an affection for afternoon tea delight in the creamy flavor and texture of clotted cream. This is a special, thick cream that's made by processing full-cream cows milk in a steam or water bath and then placing it into small pans where it forms clots as it cools slowly. It is served with scones, much to the delight of the the taster. Aunt Marcella enthusiastically comments on the subject whenever we share afternoon tea together. For nearly 30 years she would take an annual two-week summer holiday to the United Kingdom, planning the journey and schedule to include afternoon tea in Bed & Breakfast hostels across the countryside. Descriptions of puffy scones and large jars of clotted cream, so thick that a spoon stood straight up when set in it, delighted all of us in America as we marveled at such a creamy delight and wished to try something that seemed such perfection. Eventually, small jars of clotted cream have been found available in tea rooms and specialty shops. But for a premium price! Although this is near and dear to Aunt Marcella's memory, the jarred creams still don't meet the standard of her seasoned tongue. But something close is better than none.

For those who cannot easily obtain jarred clotted cream, vegans (or those intolerant to dairy), or the health minded, other options are welcome. Although most alternatives are not equivalent substitutions, they can be just as delicious by their own right. Dairy cream is known for its high fat content and for the role it plays in raising cholesterol. Weight gain and heart disease can result from liberal use of high fat dairy products. Alternatively, non-dairy toppings can be free of saturated fats and can actually assist in healthy body weight and reduced risk of heart disease. A study reported in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that women who ate one to two tablespoons of nuts or nut butter daily (peanuts, almonds, or cashews) weighed four pounds less and had waistlines an inch smaller than those who did not eat them. Nuts activate the metabolism. They also add protein and fiber to one's diet, making them feel full and satisfied for longer periods of time. So, what does this have to do with cream? Nuts and nut butters make delicious creamy topping! Here's my family's favorite cashew cream recipe (below):

Cashew Cream

14 oz. soft tofu, organic
1 cup raw cashews, washed
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. stevia
1 tsp. vanilla
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbs. agave syrup, organic

Place all ingredients in a blender.  Whiz until smooth and creamy. Pour immediately into a small pitcher or serving container. For a varied flavor, add a sprinkle of cinnamon. 

This makes a creamy, thick topping can can be poured over fruit or scones for tea. For a thicker topping, stir in some instant sure jel. This recipe will thicken over time as well.

Spaghetti Primavera

This is a dairy free version of Spaghetti Primavera. The secret? The cashews that make the sauce so creamy and smooth. I hope you enjoy it.

1 lb. firm tofu, cut into 2" x 1/8" pieces
3 - 4 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups peas (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cups water
1/4 cup unbleached flour (or gluten free alternative)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion npowder
1 tsp. salt

Spaghetti noodles, cooked

Marinate the tofu pieces for 2 hours in mixture of soy sauce and oil. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the marinated tofu pieces lightly in the leftover marinade, adding more oil as necessary to keep from sticking. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat a small amount of oil. Add onions and mushrooms and saute' untl onions are soft and mushrooms are browned. Add broccoli and peas with a small amount of water to keep from sticking and steam until almost tender.

While vegetables are cooking, combine 1/2 cup cashews and 1 cup water in blender. Blend thoroughly until very smooth. Add remaining water and other ingredients and blend to mix.

Add blended sauce and cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring often. Stir in tofu pieces and serve hot over spaghetti noodles (or zucchini noodles).

Friday, April 01, 2016

Fresh Noodles Lo Mein

Fresh and light, this recipe is sure to please your crowd. Easy-peasy, since it uses frozen vegetables, it saves on chopping.

1 Tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 lb. firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 1" cubes
6 cups grated fresh ginger root
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
3 Tablespoons bottled teriyaki sauce or soy sauce/tamari
1 large clove garlic, minced
9 or 10-oz. frozen Oriental-style vegetables, unthawed
1 small onion, sliced lengthwise
2 scallions, finely chopped

Heat sesame oil and soy sauce in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute tofu until golden on all sides. Moisture should be cooked out.

In a large stock pot, bring bouillon or broth powder and water to a boil. Add ginger, red pepper, teriyaki sauce, garlic and linguine. Simmer 2 minutes.

Stir in browned tofu, frozen vegetables and onion; return to a boil and simmer two minutes more. Stir in sliced scallions and serve.

Makes six servings.