The most violent weapon on earth is the table fork.
-Mahatma Gandhi

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Vegan Creamy Scalloped Potatoes from "The Vegan Slow Cooker" Book of Kathy Hester

My love affair with Slow Cookers started with 'The Indian Slow Cooker" book by Anupy Singla.  After cooking through her entire book, I thought I should probably look at some other slow cooker materials, in the event that I might actually have company that does not like Indian Food.  Okay, actually, the people that are actually allowed into our animal sanctuary must love Indian Food-so I don't see that as a future issue.  But I still wanted Kathy's book!  I held out for as long as possible, as my shelves are actually rupturing from the sheer volume of recipe books I have accumulated.

So many of the recipes in Kathy's book looked great. While it would be a great buy for nearly anyone, it seems like it is screaming "vegan comfort food" to me!  While lots of the recipes don't require any extra tempeh, soy, gluten ingredients-there are a fair share of "home cookin'" eats.  I settled on the scalloped potato recipe because my man loves his taters & I tend to have the basics on hand. 

The Nutritional Yeast.  This is "old school" vegan cheese.  I used to go through this stuff like there was no tomorrow, making spicy, tomato based mac & cheeze sauces.  Now brands like Daiya & Follow your Heart have the corner on the "Vegan Cheese" market.  However, Nutritional Yeast (which does not have true yeast in it), is packed with B12 and a myriad of other nutrients.  Great on popcorn, salad toppings, old school cheeze dishes, and even as a raw cracker or raw kale chip ingredient.

So this is the cashew, yeast based cheeze.

Always buy organic Potatoes.  They soak up everything from the earth, and you don't want that to be pesticides.

Yes, I have a "salad shooter".  It is great for soft stuff, however, it blows sometimes when dealing with harder root veggies.  Potatoes do well.  You could also use food processor or mandoline (pay attention so you retain your fingers through process).

Layering the potatoes & cheeze sauce. And press "Go".

Final Product.  Hubby liked a lot.  And I liked that there wasn't any s--t in it.

Sprinkled some Daiya on top to further entice hubby...........and raw broccoli.

This book is full of soups, casseroles, pasta & grain dishes, meatless mains, sandwich & taco fillings, breads, snacks, breakfasts, & desserts.  If you are feeding a mainstream audience, I have a feeling this may appeal to you.  Lots of comfort foods & a fair amount of "meat" subs.  Some recipes include Sweet & Sour Smoked Tofu (Gluten Free), Cheezy Broccoli Rice (GF), Hearty Faux Steak & Gravy, Wholesome Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Cheesy Chorizo Dip, Be My Valentine Chocolate Oatmeal, and Pimento Cheese Fondue.  Thinking some of those appetizers would be great to bring to real "mainstream" events, where even brown bread or kale would freak people out! While there are lots of recipes that call for packaged cheeses or meat substitutes, there are also just as many that are made from old school vegan eats.  She does not use dry beans in most of the recipes (that call for legumes).  So you would make the beans first, or just buy them canned.  The only problem with canned, is that Eden is the only brand I know of that does not use BPAs & is organic, and it's pricey to do that a lot.  I am very partial to at the very least, using soaked beans in the slow cooker.  But I believe that nearly every slow cooker book has you make the beans and then use them in a different recipe.  I think it would be worth soaking them & adapting some of the recipes to make it a truly 1 step recipe.  

And the dogs.....

Pj petting Horton (brindle) and Fallon (blonde dog).  Fallon is  the mother of Shiloh (on the right)
East St. Louis

Mr. Tux (black & white) and Friend.  Their friends have been rescued.
East St. Louis, Illinois.

Shy Rebel standing in the middle of the street.  There is a sewer hole with no barricade around it.  So many streets are plagued with major potholes or have sewer holes that are open & not truly protected.  People steal the lids to them and sell for the metal.  This is a particularly deep one.  Pj has rescued several dogs that have fallen in similar holes.
East St. Louis

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Raw Star. Raw Vegan Caribbean Food in Brooklyn. Meet puppy Memphis.

687 Washington Ave.
Between St. Marks & Prospect
Brooklyn, NY 11238

We were not even planning on going to Brooklyn that day......But after eating a chocolate crumb pie & WonderBun from Babycakes, well, we just started walking.  And we saw the Williamsburg Bridge in the LES, so we thought we would walk over a bit of it.  The bridge goes for what seems like forever, and then you end up in Brooklyn.  Without a lot of "signage" and no clue to what direction we should head.  We turned right and somehow managed to find ourselves in the middle of a very bustling Orthodox Jewish community.  Hundreds of baby strollers and Schoolbuses out driven by men with the best beards on earth.  Yiddish Music was pumped loudly out of several pickup trucks.  And everything was black.  The babystrollers, the clothes, the hair, all of it.  So in that aspect I nearly fit in.......minus the babystroller, but my Vibrams were black.  And people were staring at us. Especially the kids.  Oh, and there were bars over ALL the windows, doors, air conditioning units.  Bars like I have never seen before! I couldn't figure out why, if this community was all orthodox, they had more security than anywhere else around them.  It didn't seem like the other neighborhoods surrounding them were bad.  I just haven't seen bars on all 3 flights of homes prior.  Not a bad idea for crime, but a fire, yikes.  The above picture is from a total oasis in a desert (long after the orthodox area).....We walked forever and thought we would try to find the Raw Star restaurant.  We did go through a few sketchy areas and there was just nothing the way we businesses, no coffee shops, it was really odd.  Finally we ran into the perfect little organic food place and they even had a juice bar, tables, the works.  It was awesome.  We went inside to regroup & find out the location of Raw Star.

Much later we finally made it to Raw Star.  We saw lovely parts of Brooklyn.  Tree lined streets & Brownstones.  Green.  Then the door was locked to the restaurant and no one was in there.  Another couple said they were closing the place down within the week and so we left.  We walked around a bit, and then passed it again.  I tried the door once more, and the owner had opened the place.  Yeah.......

It was simply lovely inside.  Lots of bamboo & wood.  Art & Books.  

A huge menu, but you kind of had to go with what was offered that day.  Everything looked amazing, so it was hard to choose.  The owner, Mawule Job Simon,  was the only person working, and he had to prepare the food downstairs.  From scratch.  I mean, from scratch!  We heard Vita-Mixes, Food Processors, going at full force.  At this point we were the only folks in there.

Plenty of time to snap pictures.  As this was going to be a "relaxed" restaurant visit.  Mawule was still firing up those blenders.  A Trinidad Native, he has created an intensely unique menu.  He apparently learned a lot from Aris La Tham, a raw food vegan chef who used to have SunFire Juice Club.  Now La Tham runs a spa in Ocho Rios.  He is said to have been the "first raw food chef" in the States.  Mawule obviously was a star pupil and has created some masterpieces of his own.  In addition, he is just an incredibly gracious person and it's apparent that he takes great care & pride in preparing living food.

Hubby got the Curry Tempeh with Tamarind Sauce.  Which had Bell Peppers, Celery, Onion, Sunflower Seeds, Chickpeas, Tahini, Dates, Tamarind, Parsley, Coconut, Zucchini, Curry, Herbs & Spices.  It was $14.00.  I got the "Weekend Special" Lasanga.  Mushrooms, Celery, Onion, Bell Pepper, Sundried Tomato, Pine Nuts, Macadamia, Plantains, Zucchini, Parsley, & Coconuts.

Appetizer of Tristan Hearts of Love.  Nori, Brazil Nuts, Coconut and Tropical Dipping Sauce.  Divine.  The food was so fresh & I almost felt that we were in the tropic.  Incredible combinations of flavor.

This was hubby's plate.  We had no idea that we got these amazing sides with our meals!  A slaw with tropical dressing & then "Curried Plantains".  We both were huge fans!  Really wanting to make raw curried plantains, caribbean style, at home now.

Curried Plantains

Raw Slaw with tropical dressing.

This was the "Raw Tempeh".  It was really chewy and was amazing.  Thinking the tamarind really made the whole dish.  All the sauces were fabulous.  Caribbean flavors.  Still can't get over the "tempeh" part.  Chewy Heaven.

Wanting to "recreate" all of this at home.

Amazing Lasanga!  Such a different flavor than the traditional Italian flavored Raw Food Lasagnas. 

I have had a LOT of Kale Salads, but this was truly special.  Just really digging the whole tropical flavors with raw foods.  

Raw Vegan Lasanga with Kale & Pear Salad.

I am so anxious for the recipe book to come to fruition.  Seems like this place would have made it in Manhattan-too bad they are set to close their doors!  I immediately googled Raw Caribbean Recipes when I got home & there just aren't ample amounts of recipes on the web (that I found!).  So really hoping this recipe book comes to fruition.  I am sure that oils are used, but thinking could skip that & still get good flavor. Probably more nuts than I would want to eat everyday, but thought it was wonderful for a dinner out.

Sad that I JUST made it there, and they are set to close.  But grateful that we were able to experience a new twist on raw cuisine.  And the whole trek through Brooklyn's Orthodox community was a trip.  We will certainly go back & explore more of Brooklyn.  Apparently there are some issues with the "orthodox" customs clashing with the government money.  So when trying to find out more about these neighborhoods after I got home, I found stories about how the women are expected to sit in the back of the bus.  The buses are primarily used by the orthodox community, but they are also city buses as well-at least through the red tape.  So they can't legally have a group of citizens sit in the back of the bus.  Guess it's not usually an issue, as the orthodox women are not in an uproar.  But word has gotten out and other people in the New York area (and I am sure beyond), are stirring the pot.  It's pretty interesting to see the conflict-resolution of this type of insular community, when they are still living in a public city, using public roads & government services.  Follow this link to see some photos a man took one morning in Williamsburg.  He had 9 people ask him what he was doing & the tenth actually gave him a plan to take photos without being questioned constantly.  Morning in Williamsburg, Hasidic Jewish Neighborhood.  (fyi Raw Star is not in Williamsburg)

Interview with Raw Chef & Owner of Raw Star.  A wonderful energy.  Loved that he brought us a little sample of green smoothies to us and the other patrons (the place had several more visitors after we had been there awhile).  A lady new to the place wanted some sort of drink & Mawule suggested the green smoothie.  I overheard her ask what exactly that entailed & Mawule explained it.  She took the plunge & got a large.  I got the idea he just wanted to spread health & living foods to the world.  He wasn't caught up in selling "an image" or getting the business from the newest celebrity that had "gone raw".  Just making living food and sharing it.  Really counting on that recipe book!

Rawstar Vegan Live Cuisine on Urbanspoon

And the dogs......

Memphis was rescued March 23, 2012.  She is about 7 months old and a real doll.  She is needing a foster & a forever home.  Apparently she plays well with others.  And she likes to give kisses.  This is her rescue-one of those "easy" ones!

Memphis running to meet Pj.

Pj falling in love.

The feeling is mutual.

Memphis being cute.

Pj & Memphis negotiating terms of rescue.

They shake on it.

Memphis signed the bottom line.

And wins the lottery.  Even the ride home is awesome she thinks, as she is on a bed of dog treats.