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I ended up making soup for dinner again last night. It was a faux beef broth with carrots, potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, seitan, and some leftover quinoa stirred in. Delicious and right on, since last night continued the (seemingly nationwide?) trend of being kinda… cold. I took a picture. It’s really not that exciting, so I decided to do an entry not just about what I ate (overwhelming theme of my Mo Fo) but about something I love to eat. Soup.

My father has some peculiar and specific ideas about food and weather, and he only wants to eat soup when it is raining or snowing outside. I am the complete opposite. I am so eager for fall and winter and the beginning of “soup weather” that I start making soup in late August, telling myself that it’s “almost fall.” For reference, the temperature in Charleston in August is regularly in the high 90s and occasionally pushes into the three-digit territory where the radio starts issuing warnings about keeping infants and old people inside. But still I sit in a tank top and underwear, pouring sweat, eating a bowl of soup because I feel that I just can’t wait any longer. Emerson famously said that the remedy for deformity is “first, Soul, and second, Soul, and evermore, Soul.” I think he made a spelling error, and those “L”s should be “P”s.

For your autumnal consumption, I present my list of top ten favorite soups.

10. Fresh Green Pea:  childhood experiences left me hating split pea soup. I can’t stand split peas in ANYTHING and I never use them, certainly not for soup. But I do like fresh or frozen green peas simmered until just cooked in a light broth and pureed into a bright green soup. My mother reports that pureed frozen peas were my favorite food as an infant. Make of that what you will.

09. Borscht: I like beets, but I can’t think of many uses for them beyond roasting, borscht, and pureeing them to make bright red biscuits. I use horseradish in my recipe, which gives it a pretty solid kick. I like eating it at room temperature or cold—especially cold and topped with piping hot chunks of potato. Don’t knock it until you try it.

08. Carrot Ginger:  well, narrow root vegetables and ginger, because when I make carrot-ginger soup I like to use both carrots and parsnips, left to sit overnight in rice vinegar with Thai chiles to get some tang and heat going. Add the ginger and this gets pretty eye-watering.

07. Pumpkin:  I love pumpkin, so I treat it very simply when I turn it into soup. Pumpkin, onions, salt, pepper, broth, and crushed red pepper. I don’t like dressing it with traditional pumpkin spices like nutmeg, clove, or cinnamon. I guess I don’t see the appeal of soup which tastes like pie.

06. Cauliflower and Leek:  I’m a fan of sneaking leeks into almost any soup, but this soup is for when I really want to taste them. It comes out very similar to a potato soup, but lighter and I don’t get the same “watery mashed potatoes” vibe. My bias against potato soup is showing.

05. Curried Squash:  acorn, butternut, long island… I’ll use any winter squash in this recipe. Squash, curry spices, coconut milk, and lime juice. I usually pair all soups with bread, but I like to pour this one over a bowl of rice.

04. Black Bean and Sweet Potato:  why do I feel like I never see black beans and sweet potatoes paired up? Maybe it’s because I’m in the South, where sweet potatoes tend to go into… well, sweets. But they’re so good with salty, savory black beans! I like to just cook them up with lime juice, cumin, ancho pepper, and eat them with rice or on tortillas, but in winter I add some extra liquid and suddenly they become soup. Which I then top with strips of tortillas.

03. Ramen: not the kind in a ten-cent package, although I do have a certain affection for that variety. Noodles in a hot, salty broth topped with whatever comes out of the vegetable crisper—leeks, peppers, scallions, chunks of steamed squash, green beans, baby corn, carrots, radishes, tofu. I have been eating ramen since I was a little tiny kid and it will never stop warming my heart.

02. Kale and White Bean:  I made this when Friendboy wasn’t feeling well back in September. I don’t usually add barley, I like to keep this soup pretty straightforward since I think there’s already a lot going on with the kale, beans, and Gimme Lean sausage. I let this one simmer for as long as I can stand it. I like my kale to be wilted into submission.

01. Tomato:  tomatoes, olive oil, salt, broth, sugar. We’re done here.

Go forth and soup thyselves!

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I’ve had better days than today. I planned to make black bean soup, but I didn’t have the drive or the energy to do anything more complex than lay in my bed, drinking orange juice and watching The Office. Eventually I got around to frying up some pumpkin fauxsage and eating it as a sandwich on a vegan rosemary bagel with Tofutti cream cheese and hot sauce. I also put together a jar of green tomato fridge pickles for my friend’s birthday party tomorrow. But nothing, you know… photogenic. Blog worthy. So in the interest of keeping the MoFo momentum going, I present a small handful of dishes involving pumpkin which have caught my eye in the Veganmofo world over the past few days.

Breakfast seems like a good place to start, don’t you think? While I’ve made two types of pumpkin muffins in the past couple of weeks, Trinity at haiku tofu branched out in the baked goods world to make Pumpkin Cinnamon Scones.

The young lady at bakery manis has a charming Little Pumpkin That Could from her garden, which she plans to eat in a simple fashion.

Vegetabull is working through a massive quantity of pumpkin puree and featured pumpkin bread on Day 3 of the MoFo, but in the interest of including something savory I chose her other pumpkin dish for inclusion in the mini round-up: Pumpkin and Chanterelle Soup, which she adapted from a recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook. I love pumpkin soup, but I always make it straight—pumpkin, broth, coconut milk, onions, pureed until smooth. I’ve never even considered adding anything in a co-starring role with the pumpkin, but this soup looks and sounds amazing.

Also in the savory category, there is a mouthwatering Thai Green Coconut Pumpkin Curry at Beans and Greens, from a recipe in the Millenium Cookbook (linked from her entry).

My friend is having a birthday party veg potluck tomorrow themed around “foods we wouldn’t have without colonialism,” so I promise that tomorrow’s entry will be more stimulating than today’s. There will be cupcakes.

On Facebook, I referred to today’s baking spree as “Muffinocalypse 09.” I woke up this morning and decided that the way to kick off Veganmofo was muffins. I had promised Friendboy more muffins earlier this week, and had specifically promised pear-butterscotch and apple-pumpkin, and that’s what I delivered.

The first batch was pear-butterscotch, using the accidentally vegan butterscotch morsels sold at Food Lion, previously featured in my chocolate-butterscotch chip cookies. I used a basic non-vegan apple muffin recipe as a jumping off point, but I feel totally comfortable calling this “my” recipe, because the only things the final recipe had in common with the original were flour and sugar.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup vegan white cane sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup plain soymilk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
¼ cup vegan margarine, melted
1 pear
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup pear puree
1 ½ cups of vegan butterscotch chips, divided (1 and ½)
1 TBSP spiced rum

PEAR PUREE
1 15-oz can of halved pears in juice
1 TBSP vegan white sugar

Peel and chop your pear. Put in a covered bowl with 1 tsp lemon juice to prevent browning and stick it in the fridge. Make your pear puree—break up the pear halves in a 15-oz can of pears and place them in your food processor or blender, along with about 2 TBSP of the juice from the can and 1 TBSP white sugar. Process until relatively smooth—a few lumps are fine. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl. In a medium-size bowl, mix together the white sugar, brown sugar, and vegan margarine. Add ¼ cup of the pear puree and mix, then stir in the 1 cup of soymilk. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring as you do to combine. If the batter seems too dry or sticky, add another tablespoon or so of the pear puree. Fold in the chopped pears and ½ cup of butterscotch chips. Cover the batter and set it aside, it’s time to make butterscotch sauce.

Now is a good time to start preheating your oven to 400 degrees. On your stovetop, rig up a double boiler—if you don’t know, it’s a saucepan of water topped with either a metal bowl or another saucepan with ingredients in it. Bring the bottom saucepan to a boil, and put 1 cup of butterscotch chips and 1 TBSP of spiced rum in the top saucepan. I strongly recommend a nonstick saucepan on top. Stir the contents of the top saucepan continuously until the butterscotch chips have melted down completely into a sauce. Add this sauce to the muffin batter and stir once or twice, just enough to swirl the sauce through.

Spoon your batter into your muffin tin—should make twelve regulation-size muffins. Bake for twenty minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out “clean”—for our purposes, this means without uncooked batter, because there WILL be melted butterscotch on the toothpick. As tempting as these might be to eat right out of the oven, let them cool before removing from the muffin tins, as the butterscotch becomes extremely hot.

The second batch of muffins essentially followed this recipe from Diabetic Living, with the following changes: 1 ripe mashed banana in place of the two eggs, vegan buttermilk (soymilk + lemon juice) in place of the buttermilk, 1/2 cup of brown sugar instead of 1/4 cup, and 3 tablespoons of rolled oats instead of 3 tablespoons of wheat germ. I had no wheat germ in the house.

As you might expect from only 1/3 cup of applesauce, these muffins aren’t very apple-y. Next time I would definitely add some peeled, chopped apples to the mix to up the apple factor. But with only 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/2 cup of sugar, these are pretty healthy muffins. And I can be honest with myself: the main ingredient in the other muffins is essentially candy. The pumpkin muffins are not dessert masquerading as breakfast.

After so much muffin-tasting, my stomach sort of hurt, so I went super-simple for dinner. Vegetable soup with diced tomatoes, great northern beans, green peas, carrots, garlic, a Telva vegetable broth cube, crushed red pepper, and cracked black pepper. And the most important bit for an irritated tummy:  saltines.

I’m sure this seems ridiculous, but of all of the things I cooked over the past couple of days, I was most excited about blueberry pancakes. Not because I had a surplus of blueberries kicking around and not because I am particularly fond of blueberry pancakes, but because I have never IN MY LIFE successfully made pancakes before this week. They always came out lumpy, thin, translucent, burnt, or rubbery, no matter what recipe I followed. Scratch? Failure. Boxed mixes? Failure. Who messes up making boxed pancake mix? I do, every time.

But the stars aligned on Thursday morning, and I pulled off perfect light, round pancakes. Accompanying these blueberry-cinnamon pancakes are a cup of Greek yogurt topped with three-berry preserves, red grapes, and Gimme Lean vegan sausage.

Next up are vegan chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. The recipe:
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 16-oz can of pumpkin puree, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, Ener-G egg replacer (2 eggs’ worth), 1 1/4 cups vegan cane sugar, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, and 2/3 cup of vegan chocolate chips.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonguetrip/3957097056/in/photostream/

 

At Whole Foods the other day, I discovered that Gimme Lean (my favorite vegan sausage) also comes in a beef-style version, so I bought some to make meatballs. I thought about just serving them with spaghetti, but my friendboy had a meatball sub for lunch and it sounded good to me. “Meatballs” browned in olive oil, served on a toasted sesame bun with tomato sauce and an Italian six-cheese blend that my roommate uses for pizza. On the side are braised brussels sprouts with carrots and onions and a green salad with grape tomatoes.

I was not in a good mood today, so I went with something very lazy and comforting for dinner. The recipe comes from the Jif peanut butter website and is called “Easy Peanut Pasta Twists.” One of my former roommates used to make this dish, and while the ingredients seem kind of like a strange combination (peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, chili powder, crushed red pepper, garlic, ketchup), it’s spicy and creamy and delicious. I didn’t even bother to plate it, I just ate it out of the serving bowl with a tall glass of orange juice and a Law and Order marathon.

Veganmofo III is about to begin in October. While I didn’t have a blog until this year, I followed Veganmofos I and II. I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian, not a vegan, but I will be going vegan for the month of October to participate. I was a vegan for several years, and I “reverted” to vegetarianism after a period of serious illness during which I lost a lot of weight. I wasn’t gaining weight back fast enough on a vegan diet, and so I returned to eating eggs and dairy. It bugs me a lot, but I feel… fallen? Disgraced? Strangely religious language to use, but lacking a religion, veg*nism is an important part of my ethical views and I feel like I’ve let down myself and factory farmed animals by falling off the vegan wagon.

So I’ll be a vegan again for the month of October, eating and blogging exclusively vegan food every day for thirty-one days.

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