Growing our veggies

It has being a while since I wrote here. In one way or another, I always find reasons not to do it, shame on me. However, I want to share what I have been doing since the spring started, around March. We acquired a communal plot from the city hall (this is quite a standard concept in The Netherlands). Basically, we went to the city hall and asked for a small piece of land from public land. Usually these pieces are along the train tracks, on the side of roads,…, spare land that people can use in an amazing way, growing your own veggies. So basically, since then we have being working on the plot to grow our own veggies. Things are no so easy as just go there and put the seeds, the climate here changes a lot during the summer (rain, hail, storms, … luckily some sun) making our tasks difficult. But despite the weather, we managed to successfully grow some veggies. I have to say that some better than others but we cannot change the climate. And another small difficulty we also had is the presence of certain animals around the plot, like ducks, ravens, rabbits and others. You know, some of the plants were left intact and others were completely eaten, animals as well have taste for greens! To solve this problem, we put a net trying to cover almost everything and it worked.

In our experience, green stuff are the best to grow in this climate but we are also trying some other things that need heat, for instance, tomatoes, paprikas, aubergines, lima beans.  So far not so successful but looking at the forecast, we hope to get at least something out.

Now I list all the different things that we try to grow and if possible to eat! Rocket salad, Boston lettuce, curly red lettuce, carrots, onions, garlic, fava beans, swiss chard, flat beans, lima beans, green Italian pepper, spinach, chives, peas, kohlrabi, kale, mint, coriander, strawberries,… I think this is a quite complete list of what we try to grow in about 30 square meters. Awesome!

Below some of the things that we are currently growing. By order: onion, French bean, flat bean, Swiss chard, green Italian pepper and Valencian tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iron Chef Challenge for January – Krentenbollen

Recently we found a sort of similar challenge to Vegan Mofo that took place some months ago. This time we are talking about Iron Chef Challenge for January and it consists of each month a different ingredient with which you have to cook a creative dish. This can also be fun and less stressful and intense than the Vegan Mofo.
The ingredient this month is:

SQUASH!

Living in The Netherlands, I always wanted to eat krentenbollen but the ones that you can find in stores are made with animal products. They are a tradition here, most of the times people buy them in bakeries or in a supermarket. Usually, Dutch people eat them as a snack at work, when you go for a hike and you want to have something full of energy to keep on walkin, on trips… I have seen them as well with a slice of cheese in the middle but some Dutch would find that weird since it is a sweet bread.

 

Ingredients:

- 150g squash puree

- 300g wholegrain flour

- 150g raisins

- 1/4 cup oil

- 1/4 cup plant-based milk

- 2 tsp cinnamon

- 5g salt

- 6g dried yeast

Procedure:

Mix all the ingredients together without the salt and raisins. Let it puff up for about an hour and later add the salt and raisins. If you are a patient person, let it sit for a while more. Otherwise you are ready to do the balls. It might be a bit sticky, what I did was to have my hands oily so the dough would not stick. Place them in a no-stick tray and bake for about 20-30min. The time depends on how big the balls are, the bigger the longer will take. As a final step, you mix some sugar with a bit of oil and water and with a brush or with your hands spread the liquid on top of the balls. This last step will give a great top coating.

Usually krentenbollen or raisin buns are known as white on the inside. Since we used wholegrain flour our balls are on the darker side, but still delicious and full of goodness from the whole grain.

Have a nice start of the week to all of you. We will start our Monday with great Krentenbollen and pumpkin jam (leftovers from the squash puree with some sugar and ginger).

 

 

:: Happy new year ::

Happy new year to all of you… and all our best wishes for the coming year. This year for us is going to be full of changes and hopefully good ones.

A resolution for the year: we hope that our lovely new-arrived cat LUA (Moon in Portuguese language) will feel completely integrated and be happy with us. It is improving little by little, recently she started to say meow… lovely! However we can still feel that the shelter period.

 

A resolution for this blog: we expect to post more and more about delicious food and this time around the world, well part of it. In a near future, we are travelling to the US, Scotland, Germany, Italy, … and hopefully more and more, so keep tuned and you will hear of lovely stories about eating vegan in our trips. A heads-up: most probably we will be able to attend the “NYC Vegetarian Food Festival”, did anyone of you go the last year? and if you are planing to go, … what I should not miss?

 

 

Something that we never mentioned here and simply appeared in our blog is a blog roll named “Viet Nam Trip“. This is a small collection of photos related to food that we collected in our month trip to Viet Nam. It was a great trip and not that difficult to be vegan. There is a large Buddhist influence and that was something to thank for. Every full and new moon, many Buddhist Vietnamese would eat vegan food. On those days, Quán Chay (vegetarian/vegan) restaurants were completely packed making it harder for us to find a place to eat. Actually, the restaurants themselves were much easier to find, due to the congregation of motorbikes parked outside! The whole family was there, from grand mum or dad until a baby, all of them eating Quán Chay.

Below you can see a sketch of our trip and a small selection of the food we ate.

To sum up: An amazing trip full of colors, adventures and nice people.

 

Vegan “cheese” – homemade

Bread and cheese is the perfect combination to have as a snack along with a beer. Almost all cafés around here offer a selection of cheeses with bread and mustard. Then, we decided to have our own vegan cheese snack along with a beer. You can see in the picture homemade wholegrain bread with vegan cheese flavoured with dill, mustard and pepper. Most of the recipes for vegan cheese call for cashew nuts, instead we used peanuts as they contain less fat and have more proteins than cashews. Yet the combination was great and we almost could not taste the difference.

 

Now a question that you might have is what makes the peanuts become so compact. One of the key ingredients for vegan cheeses is the use of agar-agar. It is a part from the seaweed family, and fiber is one of its main components. To use it, basically you boil few agar-agar flakes in some water until they are dissolved and later if you let it cool down, you end up with the same texture as animal jelly. So by making a peanut paste, adding the agar-agar water mix and the flavour you desire, you will end up with a nice flavoured vegan cheese.

We would love that some vegetarian restaurants or cafés would offer such a great snack on their menu, unfortunately none of the ones that we frequent have something like this. Neither in natural stores we are able to buy a big variety of vegan “cheese”-like products. Are you in a similar situation? Let us know what kind of products are available in your natural store and which ones would you like to have access to. Perhaps we can get inspired and create new ways of vegan “cheese” at home.

Rainbow sandwich

A great way to start the morning is with a rainbow sandwich and a great smoothie. What do we mean by a rainbow sandwich? It’s a sandwich full of COLORS from natural ingredients. This is the best way to fight the dark and coldness of winter. We made our sandwich in layers, starting with tomatoes, champignons, cucumber, beets, rocket salad, sprouts and almond spread.

Recently we purchased the book “Color me vegan”. This book tells us that we have to eat dishes with a lot of colors, as well it states that this is the best way to get always the right nutrients for our body. This sandwich was inspired by this book so we tried to make it as colorful as we could. In later posts, we will try to impress you with yummy yummy recipes full of color!

Focaccia

Focaccia is one of the flavored breads that we like most. Usually you can mix it with black and green olives, dried tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, basil, onion, garlic, … whatever your imagination comes up with. The key point is that you flatten the dough as a pizza and pour on top some olive oil with salt and spices. In this way, the top never dries out and is flavored with all sorts of things. It goes perfectly with soups, olive paté, hummus, … or simply as a snack.

 

Ingredients:

- 400g all-purpose flour

- 300dl warm water

- 10g salt

- 10g dried yeast

- black olives or green if you prefer

- dried tomatoes

- oregano, thyme, rosemary

- black pepper

- olive oil

Procedure:

In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and yeast, later add the warm water. It should not be boiling but warm enough to accelerate the yeast process. When the mix has formed a uniform dough, leave it to rest for 10-20min. After the resting time, the dough should have doubled in size. Place it in a tray with baking paper and flatten it until 2 fingers thick. Try to stick your fingers deeply in the dough as one of the characteristics of focaccia is the small holes full of oil. Switch on the oven to 190C and add on top the olive oil with the herbs, black pepper and some more salt. Finally place on top the olives and the dried tomatoes, and if you leave it resting at this moment for 10min it will be softer. Put it in the oven and bake for 20min or until the borders are golden.

Enjoy the lovely flavored bread!

Pomegranate smoothie

 

It is the season for pomegranate. After a hot summer, the seeds have a dark red colour and they are delicious and really sweet. One of the best ways to eat pomegranate seeds is simply raw in a juice, in salads with nuts and raisins or, if you have a sweet tooth, just add some sugar.  The pomegranate tree was domesticated long long time ago and that is the reason why in almost any culture the pomegranate is present. In most ancient cultures, it is known as the fruit of fertility, prosperity and youth. It was so important in early times that even a city has its name, Granada in Spain. Nowadays cosmetic companies exploit its amazing properties by including it in facial creams, usually advertising it as antioxidant due to its high level of vitamin C.

Pomegranate smoothie combined with apple and banana

VeganMofo 2011 is over already. This was our first year and what a pity that we did not manage to publish the 20 posts required, however we were not far from that number. Now we will keep on posting with the VeganMofo category because we had some drafts that didn’t appear on time.

Coconut cookies

This is a simple recipe that you should try at least once and for sure that you will repeat it many more times.

Ingredients:

1 cup of almond flour (ground almonds)

1 cup of all-purpose flour

4 tbsp of fine sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup of oil (I used olive oil, for softer taste use sunflower oil)

1/2 cup of coconut

1/2 tbsp vegetal milk

2 tbsp baking powder

Vanilla extract

To coat the cookies: a bit of cinnamon and powdered sugar

Procedure:

Mix the first five ingredients in a bowl, later add the other four. Make a homogeneous batter and leave it to rest in the fridge for 30min.

Heat the oven to 180C. Then divide the batter in small balls (approx. 15g each).  For the coating, mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle the balls with the mix and place them on a tray with baking paper. Bake for 20-22 min or until golden to the desired point.

Simple, right? and what was your result? amazing! …

Let us know your favorite way of using coconut in cookies, we loved this one but for sure there are many more yummy ways…

Spelt digestive biscuits

Today we baked some 30 spelt digestive biscuits, following more or less the recipe presented in River Cottage Handbook No.3 (see the recent post about bread). Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat, and was common in Europe before the Middle Ages; we use organically grown wholewheat spelt grown in Germany. Besides spelt, the biscuits are made with an equal amount of oatmeal (having run out of oatmeal, we ended up grinding some oats ourselves). The recipe is supposed to make 40, probably we didn’t flatten the dough enough, which is quite tricky as it’s pretty sticky. We reduced the amounts of butter and sugar, in an attempt to make the biscuits a bit healthier. Still, they are quite yummy!

P.S. The sourdough starter is almost ready to go, stay tuned.

 

 

 

Pasta with peas

The idea of this meal started as nothing fancy, simply some quick recipe to have more time for other things, however we have to post about it because the result was really good. What we liked was the combination of the pasta with the peas and the beans. The pasta has some dill and olive oil, and the sauce consists of peas, string beans, leek and fennel bulbs.

I am a fan of mashed peas with some lemon and you… how do you like your peas?