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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Food Filled Weekend

I kicked off the holiday weekend with a potluck with Danny's coworkers Friday night at Captree State Park on Long Island's south shore. Anticipating the usual fare of burgers and franks, we brought our own homemade "Southwestern Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers" from Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet. I found it odd that most of the recipe ingredients were listed by weight in ounces. I didn't have batteries for my mom's food scale, so I had to estimate the measurements. I must have used way too much corn meal, because the burgers came out a bit dry and gritty. I was able to salvage them by serving them on Ezekiel sprouted grain burger buns with tahini, lettuce, fresh lime juice, and a tequila lime salsa. The lime and salsa provided a bit more moisture and enhanced the southwestern flavors. I made so many that I had leftovers for a few days, and the burgers definitely improved with age. Since it was a potluck, we brought a fruit salad to share. I tossed watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple with a mint and basil vinaigrette from Food Network's Giada DeLaurentiis. I used honey instead of making the simple syrup and substituted a lemon liquor that my dad brought back from Italy in place of the amaretto. I think most people at the potluck were scared to try the salad because of the flecks of green (mint and basil) on the fruit. Those who did try it loved it (Danny and I ended up eating most of the bowl by ourselves)!

On Sunday, Danny and I made our second attempt at rolling sushi. We followed the "Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls" recipe from Veganomicon like last time. We made some slight changes, but we had great success again. This time we used raw, untoasted Navitas brand nori sheets. It definitely had a fishier taste and chewier texture than the toasted Eden Foods nori that we used last time. We also tried using a Japanese short grain brown rice to  make it a bit healthier. The brown rice tasted great, but was slightly less sticky than the white sushi rice. So although we didn't attempt to make any inside-out rolls, the sushi still held together nicely with the brown rice. We had some of our friends and coworkers taste the rolls and they loved them.

On Monday, I went to Danny's family BBQ for the fourth of July. His mom made lots of dishes that we could eat too. My favorite was her olive tapenade, which she makes simply by processing green Sicilian olives that have been packed in oil, garlic, herbs, and spices. It makes a great spread for bread, crackers, or vegetables. Later in the day I stopped by my friend's BBQ after work. She's vegan as well, so she had a great spread that included her famous berry cheesecake and chocolate cupcakes. Another friend made this summery "Sweet Corn & Black Bean Salad" from Whole Foods recipes.

I almost forgot! This weekend I made my first homemade raw vegan milk! Using a recipe for sesame milk from Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Made Easy, I made a creamy dairy-free milk that is rich in calcium. The first step is to soak the raw nut or seed of your choice for a few hours (other popular choices for "milks" are almonds, hemp seeds, cashews, and brazil nuts).  Then place the nuts/seeds in a blender with water, dates (I used coconut sugar instead), and optional flavoring (vanilla extract, carob, cocoa, etc.). Once the mixture is smooth, place in a nut milk bag or in cheesecloth to strain out the liquid. Using only 1 cup of sesame seeds, I made about 3 cups of sesame milk. I use a small amount in my muesli each morning, so one jar of sesame milk will last me about a week. Overall, this is an easy and economical way to make your own raw and healthy milks. I bought a pound of raw organic sesame seeds in the bulk bin of a health food store for only $2.50. That means that each 3-cup jar of sesame milk only costs me about $1! That's a lot cheaper than the $3 per quart boxes of nondairy milks that come packaged with sugar and other additives. I've heard of ways to use the leftover nut/seed pulp as well, so I will have to try that next time.

                                              Sesame milk and my new water!

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