Pumpkin leek soup

I had an opened can of pumpkin left from the cake and another of sweet potato (I had given up on roasting my own after the second failed cake) sitting in the refrigerator and decided it was meant for soup. Its creamy, yet very low fat, and the pumpkin is just barely naturally sweet, without relying on the traditional "sweet" spices it is usually cooked with. Feel free to sub fresh sweet potatoes if you don't have canned, or pre-roasted; just chop and add with the potatoes.

My dad said it tasted as good as Gary Danko, but I would argue that it's better, due to the fact it's not full of death.

Pumpkin leek soup, makes about 6 servings
1 1/2 tbs. olive oil
1 large clove garlic, sliced
1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 c.)
1 small Russet potato, chopped (about 1 c.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried sage
1 bay leaf
3 tbs. flour
4 1/2 c. vegetable broth
3/4 c. pumpkin puree
3/4 c. sweet potato puree

salt/pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)

1 leek, chopped and rinsed
1 tbs. olive oil
pinch of salt

Heat the olive oil in a large pot, then add the garlic, onion, potatoes, salt, and herbs. Saute over med-high heat until the vegetables begin to caramelize. Add the flour and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Pour in the broth and boil for about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and blend the soup until creamy (ideally with an immersion blender). I left the skins on for added nutrition, but you can skin your potatoes first for a creamier soup.

Stir in pumpkin and sweet potato and simmer for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. I added about 1/4 tsp. of pepper flakes for a pinch of heat.

Saute the leeks in olive oil with a pinch of salt, until they just begin to caramelize.

Immediately before serving, sprinkle the leeks over each bowl.

Pumpkin cake

This was a disastrous week of baking for me, after 3 failed attempts to veganize a sweet potato roll cake. I had originally wanted to make one for my friend Alison, but ended up adopting a turkey for her instead.

But I was given the task of bringing dessert to my parents hours for Thanksgiving and after the 11 pm failure the night before, I found a pumpkin cake recipe in the Millennium cookbook to use instead. I followed the cake recipe, subbing 5 spice for cinnamon and less ginger, made a vanilla cooked buttercream, and dressed the cake with some ground, toasted pecans.

It's denser than I would like, but I think that's the fault of my oven and its inability to stop reheating itself until it's at least 75 degrees over the set temperature.

November 21 CSA

I'm sure the novelty will settle down at some point, but right now I'm still very excited about my weekly CSA box.

This week they were very generous with portions due to the holiday, and I was happy to see so many mandarins, because they were delicious! I'm also very excited to enjoy the last green beans of the season. We received: carrots, Asian pears, Satsuma mandarins, broccoli, leeks, sweet potatoes, green beans, cabbage, spinach, potatoes, and butternut squash.

The CSA newsletter said to discard the green portion of the leeks, which was indeed news to me. I had always just eaten them. They may be a little fibrous, depending on how they're prepared, but I think they taste good. Besides, a little extra fiber won't hurt!

Dinner that night was a satisfying spinach and 'fu scramble with lemon cream sauce and skillet fries with leeks.

Happy Belated Halloween!

I know, I know. I'm a little behind, but I've been sitting on these pictures forever and just now have had time to put them up. Shaudi threw a birthday/Halloween party last month and her Martha Stewart tendencies went insane and she made an amazing selection of treats.

We got together the weekend before and made Melisser's candy corn. They tasted great, but I don't recommend doing this unless you love candy corn, or have tons of free time. It took the two of us about 4 hours to just cut and shape the candies. Our fingers were sore!

The recipe made over well over 100 pieces.

I got bored with shaping kernals, so I made a few pumpkins. And an ear of corn, since it was the first thing I could think of to make with the colors we had on hand.

There were so many sweets at the party it was wonderful, in a disgustingly indulgent sort of way. Vampire-bite cupcakes, orange chocolate cupcakes, snickers, candied apples, chocolate pretzels, sugar cookies, caramels, peanut butter cups, and probably a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting.

We also each got sent home with a goody bag filled with leftovers.

Celebration for the Turkeys

Last year Shane and I attended the annual Celebration for the Turkeys at Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA. It was so much fun, we knew we had to make it a tradition. This year, I was happy our friends Danny and Shaudi could join us. We spent hours meeting friendly animals, feeding turkeys, and enjoying a Thanksgiving meal.

Many thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers and donors who make events like this and the entire organization possible.


I got my first CSA box today!

Carrots, Satsuma mandarins, salad mix, French Fingerling potatoes, baby bok choy, Granny Smith apples, garlic, Fuyu persimmons, purple broccoli, spinach, and Tokyo turnips.

My box comes from Terra Firma Farm, in Winters, CA. I did quite a bit of searching before I found a farm that I wanted to join. It seemed like everywhere I found also sold eggs, meat, sheepskin, and other things I wanted no part of. I was excited when the coordinator at Terra Firma assured me that their farm only had produce and nuts.

I roasted some of the potatoes, carrots, turnips, and garlic with rosemary, nutmeg, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. And threw in the turnip greens and some asparagus. Yum! The carrots were so sweet and the potatoes were nice and creamy. I've learned I'm not a big fan of turnips though, so it's a good thing Shane likes them. Turnip greens are good though!


Holy crap, I love stuffing. That's all I really need to say about that.

2 tbs. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 3/4 c.)
2 c. chopped celery
2 Granny Smith apples, diced (about 2 c.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 sourdough baguette, cubed (about 6 c.)*
1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 - 2 1/4 c. vegetable broth

* I highly recommend a variety like to Semifreddi's three-seed sourdough. If you don't have something similar in your area, add 1/2 tsp. of fennel seeds to the recipe.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the garlic, onion, celery, apples, and salt. Saute over medium high heat until everything is lightly caramelized. Add the herbs and bread, and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, until some of the bread gets a little toasty.

Add the vegetable broth (more or less, depending on how moist you prefer your stuffing) and stir until everything is moistened. Taste a bit, so you can adjust the saltiness, since broths will vary.

Scoop into a lightly greased 9 x 13" baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes. Eat piping hot!

Vietnamese curry

Possibly one of the best meals I've made in a long time; nostalgic home cookin' at its best. I had to force myself to stop eating it (or at least, distracted myself with pecan cookies.) Curry powders will vary a lot; the kind I like to use contains organic coriander, tumeric, cumin, mustard, pepper, fenugreek, and cayenne.

Vietnamese curry, makes about 4 servings
10 oz. firm tofu
2 tbs. cornstarch
canola oil
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2" segments and then in half lengthwise
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium sweet onion, roughly sliced
2 c. chopped potatoes (I used a combination of Russet and Golden Sweet, but any starchy variety will work.)
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbs. yellow curry powder
1 - 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
13.5 oz. water
1 1/2 c. chopped carrots
cilantro to garnish

Slice the tofu into bite-sized pieces and toss with cornstarch. Fry in a small amount of canola oil over medium-high heat until lightly golden. Drain on a paper towel and set aside. If you substitute another protein source (seitan would be nice), you can skip this prep, and just use it on its own. I just prefer the texture of lightly fried tofu.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large pan (one that has a lid). Saute the lemongrass, bay leaves, garlic, onion, potatoes, and salt over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes. You want to get a little color on the potatoes, but not caramelize the onions and garlic to death. Mix in the curry powder and cook for another minute or two.

Pour in the can of coconut milk, then fill the can with water to get the last of that coconutty goodness, and pour the water in as well. Add the carrots and place the lid on the pan. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender. Toss in the tofu and continue to simmer over medium heat for a few more minutes, to heat the tofu again. The potatoes will release a little starch into the sauce, but it really shouldn't be eaten too thick. If it starts to thicken up too much, you can add a little water or unsweetened soy milk.

At this point, salt and pepper to taste. I threw in some sriracha as well, to up the heat.

Garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro. You can serve with rice, but I much prefer a toasty, sweet baguette, one of the few perks of French Imperialism.

Pecan shortbread

If you've seen my apartment, or just my arm, you might notice that I like bats. A couple weeks ago, I stopped in at Spun Sugar to pick up a few things, and ended up with a bat-shaped cookie cutter. I decided to put it, and the pecans left from the pumpkin cupcakes, to use.

Spooky! (And Canada, or weed, depending on whom you ask.)

Pecan shortbread
1 c. pecans
1 c. margarine, room temp
1/2 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 tbs. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Lightly toast the pecans over medium heat for a few minutes, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Cream together the margarine, brown sugar, vanilla, and maple syrup. Sift together the dry ingredients, then mix them into the wet. In a food processor, pulse the pecans to a medium meal, then stir the pecans into the dough.

The dough will be very soft. Cover your bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Working with small portions of the dough at a time (leaving the rest in the fridge) on a generously floured surface, roll the dough to a little more than 1/4" thick, and cut with your cookie cutter of choice. Lay cookies on a parchment covered baking sheet. If you're working with a detailed cutter, place the entire sheet in the freezer for a couple minutes. This will help the cookies retain their shape.

Bake for about 15 minutes, just until they begin to get golden around the edges. Using a spatula, move the cookies to a rack to cool. They'll be pretty fragile, but will harden.