Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cucumber Salad

It is so hot today!  While I am very happy to have air conditioning on days like this, I hate being stuck in the shut up house all day.  So this afternoon when we went to run errands, I left the windows open in the car.   We were pretty miserable while driving and then we were stopped by a train.  Still, I think the fresh air is good for us.

Luckily, after dropping off books at the library, we decided to stop by the produce market.  I picked up some truly terrible nectarines but also grabbed a cucumber.  I crave cucumber salad when it gets in the 90's like this.  I've experimented with several variations but this is my favorite.

The marinade

Cucumber Salad

2 cups cucumber slices, from peeled and seeded cucumbers
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
 1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
4 whole black peppercorns

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for 3 hours, stirring periodically.  If you have any leftovers, keep draining off some of the vinegar mixture and adding water so they don't become too strong.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Eggless Experiment #5 - Ener-G Egg

Our final test!  Thank goodness.  Who knew you could get tired of cookies?!

This time we chose to go with the commercial egg replacer - Ener G Egg.  It is made up of various starches.  Every time I pull this box out of the cabinet I think it is something left over from 1972.  Who came up with the packaging?  Anyway, I've used this plenty of times in various items and it has always worked OK. Not perfect but fine.

We noticed our cookie dough was a little more runny this time and the cookies looked kind of oily.  I'm not sure if that was because of the replacer or because it was ridiculously hot and humid this week.  Whatever the issue was, the dough and cookies tasted fine.  They became very flat five minutes after getting out of the oven but that seemed to be a common problem with all the replacements we tried.

When I tasted the warm cookie, it tasted good but there was something different about the taste that I couldn't quite figure out.  Then Kayleigh hit on it.  Cake batter.  The baked cookie tasted just like yellow cake batter.  Strange but still tasty.

So to summarize our results, chia seeds are the only ones that we would suggest you never try.  All the rest will work and give you decent results.  Our order from best to worst is:

#1 Arrowroot Powder
#2 Ener G Egg
#3 Hemp Seeds
#4 Flax Seeds
#5 Chia Seeds - seriously, don't use these.  Skip the cookie and just eat the chocolate chips!

Our experiment is done for now but if anyone has any other substitutes they'd like us to try in the chocolate chip cookies, let us know.  Also leave a comment if you'd like us to try any of these replacements in some other recipe. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Favorite Green Smoothie

Today I am supposed to be posting another eggless experiment but we had a really busy weekend and didn't get around to baking cookies.  So we will do that later today and report in tomorrow.  Instead you are getting another smoothie recipe - but this one is my favorite green smoothie.  This is the one you should try if you are just now experimenting with them.  The ingredients are rather basic but give enough sweetness that you don't need any added sugar, even if you aren't used to adding greens to your drinks. 

It is impossible to get a good picture of a green smoothie.  It doesn't help that I didn't think to take a picture until I had already started drinking it.  I had read somewhere that you may want to drink from a closed container to begin with so you aren't thrown off by the green color.  I actually like the bright green because it makes me feel extra healthy.  I took this smoothie with me to a family get-together yesterday, though, and put it in a non-see through bottle so that everyone would think it was just water.  I also used to do that for work. 

This morning I was very surprised to walk out on my porch and realize the air was actually cool even though it was still humid.  I decided to seize the moment and went out for a run.  Just as I got home and sat down with my leftover smoothie, it started to rain.  That is a bonus on a bonus on a bonus!  I went running when I hadn't planned to, beat the rain, and then drank a healthy green smoothie!

 Home just in time.

Speaking of smoothies, Jacqueline over at Tinned Tomatoes has posted the round up from the smoothie contest.  Be sure to check out all the great entries.

My Favorite Green Smoothie

1 banana
1 cup mango
1 cup pineapple
1 cup spinach
2 cups water

It works best if at least one of your fruits is frozen.  If you have all fresh, add some ice in place of part of the water.

Blend until smooth.  This can be enjoyed through your day.  I usually keep it in the fridge and pull it out for a few sips all day long.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Can't

Why do I seem to have my best moments right after being lazy and not wanting to move off the couch?  I had planned to do my favorite (not really!) elastic band workout today.  But then I slept late (which for me is 7:30) and watched some TV, then watched some more.  I started to get a little bit of a headache and didn't really feel like doing much of anything.  But then I realized that it was really nice and cool last night but I didn't run and it was still nice although a little warmer today and here I was doing nothing.  So I somehow managed to get up and go out for a run.

About 5 minutes into it I was thinking about how much warmer and humid it is outside as compared to in my house.  Then after 10 minutes, all the walkers left so it was just me and the landscape crew.  But I kept going.  When I had just one lap to go I was telling myself things like "I can't stop now" and "I can't give up".  That's when I realized I changed my "I cant's" from something negative into something positive.

In the end, I finished the 5K, running the whole way, in 33:53 which is faster than last week.  And I did it with only myself as motivation.  From now there is no more "I can't run any further".  It is "I can't be stopped" from here on out!

Speaking of changing attitudes, I finally convinced my husband to get rid of these cans of paint.  They are from the previous owners.  Problem is, we moved in over 16 years ago!  Now if only he will also get rid of that ping pong table behind him that has been in the garage since we moved in!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review

What a day I had yesterday.  This picture captures one of the many things that went wrong.  In case you can't tell, those are the contents of my chest freezer that I was able to save.  It somehow came unplugged a few days ago but I didn't notice it until yesterday.  Luckily I use it mostly for flour, nuts, and bread.  Still, a lot of items had to be thrown away. 

That was just the start of the day though.  It only got worse from there!  So I was very happy to have a pile of books to lose myself in that evening.  Of all the books I borrowed from the library last week, two have really stood out.  I always skim through all my books when I get home but both of these books sucked me in and I ended up reading them all the way through.

The first is "Running and Walking for Women Over 40" by Kathrine Switzer.  I'm a woman, I run, and I'm over 40 so it seemed like the perfect book for me!  This book was published in 1998 so some of the information is out of date, especially the section on menopause.  But it still had a lot of very good information ranging from what clothes to wear, what to eat, and how to stay safe when running.  There is a good running routine spelled out as well as tips on increasing your speed and/or distance.  Overall, I found it to be very motivating and there is enough information that this would be a good book to own so that I could refer back to it.

The other book I've really enjoyed is a cookbook called "Vegan Soul Kitchen" by Bryant Terry.  I heard about this book over and over but I've never bothered to look through it.  I don't know why that is because when I sat down to make a list of recipes I'd like to try, I quickly filled an entire notebook page.  Right now I'm snacking on the Double Maple-Coated Pecans and I'm a little worried I might eat the full 4 cups!  I'm actually planning to try everything in the section called "Sound Bites - Appetizers, Starters, Snacks".  Besides the great recipes, I really enjoyed reading this book.  I'm one of those people that sits in bed reading cookbooks and this one is really enjoyable.  I love that he includes a soundtrack with every recipe.  This book has already been moved to my shopping cart at Amazon.

Happy reading!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Eggless Experiment #4 - Flax Seed

It almost doesn't seem fair for anything to have to follow the huge success of arrowroot powder last week.  Still we continued on this week with flax seed.  I've used ground flax seed in the past in corn bread with good results.  I think I've used it a few other times too when I've been in a pinch.  I used to buy both regular ground flax seed and the golden but now I only buy the golden.  That was probably good because the other may change the color of the cookies.

To replace one egg you use 1 tablespoon ground flax seed and 3 tablespoons warm water.  I let my tap run and get as warm as possible.  I whisked it together and then let the mixture set for a couple minutes.  It turned porridge-like.  I followed the same chocolate chip cookie recipe found here.

The dough had the normal consistency, taste and color.  The cookies baked up well but shortly after coming out of the oven, they became very flat.  The taste of the cookies both warm and cold was good but there was a slightly "healthy" flavor as if you used oatmeal or whole wheat flour.  None of us could exactly explain it but we all noticed it.

I would put flax seed in a tie with hemp seeds for 2nd place.  Arrowroot powder remains the clear winner and chia seeds are by far the worst choice.  Next week we have our final option which is Ener-G Egg Replacer.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Strawberry Pie

My husband was on his normal Sunday morning bike ride today so Kayleigh and I took my parents to the Munster farmer's market so they could try the vegan food truck.  It was even better than last week.  Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the food but Kayleigh got a chocolate chip waffle, the rest of us got brats with kraut and we all shared some nachos.  It was all very good.  Before we left we stopped back to get some oreo cheesecake to take home. 
 My parents listening in while I order cheesecake
There was more produce at the market this time.  We were able to get kale, romaine, green onions, and radishes.  We also walked around the park so my parents could check everything out. 

Kayleigh and my parents on the bridge
Then we came home and ate not only the cheesecake but also this strawberry pie that I had made.  I came up with the idea for this recipe a couple years ago while waiting in the car for Kayleigh after practice.  Luckily there was a spare envelope hanging around for me to write on!

I think a lot of people are intimidated by pie crust but I am here to tell you it is actually very easy.  It does not need to be perfect, it will still taste good.  I gather up all my confidence, flip it into the pie pan and then take some extra off here and press it in there until the whole pan is basically covered.  No stress required!  My pie crust recipe makes 2 crusts but you only need one for this recipe so wrap the other half in wax paper and then in a Ziploc and store it in the freezer (or the refrigerator if you are planning to make another pie right away).

Strawberry Pie

Pie crust:
2 2/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup oil
6 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Mix together the flour and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil and milk.  Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork.  Cut in half and roll the crust between wax paper.

Place the pie crust in the pie plate.  Pierce several times with a fork.  Place foil loosely over the crust and fill with dry beans.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. 

Remove the foil from the crust and let cool slightly. 

For the pie you will need:
1 quart (1 1/2 pounds) strawberries
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Place half the strawberries on the pie crust.  If they are large, cut them in half.

Put the remaining strawberries in a saucepan.  Add the sugar and bring to a boil.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water.  Add to the strawberries.  Stir often.  When the mixture is thick and clear (about 2-3 minutes) remove from heat. 

Pour this mixture over the strawberries in the crust.  Place in refrigerator for several hours.

Here are some more pictures of the process.

 Rolling out the dough between wax paper

 See how uneven it is when I first flip it into the pan?

 Poke holes in the bottom crust.

 Foil and beans for blind bake.

 Half the strawberries in the bottom.

 Cloudy mixture.

 A couple minutes later it is clear.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Self Confidence

For anyone that didn't hear me screaming from the rooftops yesterday, let me fill you in.  I started running 2 years ago but since losing my job, I've really stepped it up and been more consistent with  my workouts in general.  A few months ago I set a goal of running an organized 5K this August.  I wanted to be able to run the whole thing without walking breaks. Yesterday, for the first time, I ran an entire 5K.  It felt amazing.  I immediately felt excited, proud, confident, and energized.  I felt like I was floating through the rest of the day.

During the run, I was thinking about the positive changes in my attitude since I started running and realized something interesting.  Years ago I started doing yoga to reduce my stress level.  I was looking for something that would be relaxing to my mind and body and help to reduce my nervous tendencies.  Don't get me wrong, I love yoga.  It is relaxing and I love when I can stretch a little further than last time.  But I've actually gained more calm peacefulness from running than I ever did from yoga.  I would have never guessed that. 

Strength training has always been mixed in with my workouts but my primary activity used to be yoga.  Then I switched and started mostly running.  The past couple months I scaled back on the running a little and increased my yoga and I've found that this is the best balance for me.  I run better if I do even just 15 minutes of yoga beforehand (yesterday I did one hour of yoga immediately before the run).  My yoga has also improved as my overall fitness increased thanks to the running.

The main lesson I learned through all this is that you need to find what works best for you and your goals.  The best solution isn't necessarily the most obvious.  But when you find that perfect balance, there is no limit to what you can do.

After getting back from our run, we went outside to pick a lot of strawberries.  Some bonus deep knee bends and stretching to cool down!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Food and Running and Books About Food and Running

I have a couple random comments today.  The first one is for everyone who always says they can't cook or that the food they make doesn't turn out or that they don't like the taste of whole foods.  We all have our bad days and today was mine. 

First of all, back when we were writing Besides Pizza, Kayleigh and I would often try new foods and then post our opinion.  Our biggest failure was papaya.  We hated it.  We didn't like the taste or the texture.  So that was a food I complete wrote off.  A couple weeks ago, we got together with friends and two of them were telling me how they love papaya.  When I said we didn't like it, they gave me a few pointers.  First they said to make sure you let it get very ripe.  Also, the peel has a very bad flavor so they said to make sure you get it all cut off.  Being the good sports that we are, we bought another papaya.  I left it sitting around until it looked nice and ripe.  Then I cut away everything except the very center part of the flesh.  It looked beautiful but then we tasted it.  Nope - still don't like it!

Then I made sweet muffins.  This is a recipe I learned in junior high cooking class.  I've made it thousands of times.  Today the muffins would not come out of the liners and they tasted all wrong.  I have no idea what happened.

So when you get frustrated with cooking just remember - everyone has things they don't like and everyone messes up recipes from time to time.  Forget about those things and move on.

Before Kayleigh went to work today (because she does that now!) we went to the library.  I've been taking her to the library on a regular basis since she was 3 years old.  A couple years ago they started remodeling our library and it is finally done.  We walked all over checking out where everything is now.  It is really nice and the layout makes more sense.  Kayleigh was a little disappointed that they removed the stuffed animals from the kid's section.  She used to line them all up and read to them.

As we wandered, we found tons of books to check out.  I ended up with one running book and several cookbook/nutrition books.  If I like them, I'll be sure to do a book review for everyone. 

We are about to head out the door to run.  Will it be a good run like our visit to the library or a bad run like the papaya and muffins?  We'll see!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Things Are Looking Up

The past two days have been really good for me and I can feel a shift in my attitude.  It started yesterday morning when Kayleigh and I went running first thing in the morning.  We had big storms during the night and it was really hot and humid in the morning.  We went running anyway but there was actual steam coming off the path and we were miserable.  Kayleigh has to run 3 miles each day for her training but after running at my pace for 1.5 miles, she decided to stop and come back later after it hopefully cooled off.  We walked another lap and then went home.

Shortly after getting home, I was called for a third interview - hurray!  We ran a lot of errands in the afternoon and did some cooking.

Around 6PM we went back out to the park to finish the run.  My plan was to run maybe one lap (2/3 mile) with Kayleigh and then walk until she was done.  I ended up going a full two miles with her.  That means that during the day, I completed 5K total.  At the start of the evening run my toes were cramping and I didn't think I would make it but then, before I knew it, we were done!  This is a huge step towards my goal of running that 5K race in August.

When we came home, my legs were killing me but I spotted some strawberries so I went out to pick them.  Look at this, I got a full bowl!  Squatting down to pick them was a little more difficult than usual though!
I felt so happy and fulfilled last night and that feeling has continued today.  Kayleigh went to work for the very first time.  It went really well.  I quit my first job, also at a restaurant,  after the first day so she is already doing better than me!  While she was at work, I had my job interview.  It went well (I think) and I'm really excited about this opportunity. 

Overall, everything is good right now.  I feel like I'm surrounded by positive energy!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Eggless Experiment #3 - Arrowroot Powder

So far we have tried hemp seeds which were a success and chia seeds which were a complete failure.  This week it is arrowroot powder.  I've used this to replace cornstarch before but never eggs.  You mix 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder with 3 tablespoons water and add it to the recipe as you would the egg.  For the recipe we are using see the original eggless experiment post

The dough looked and tasted the same as regular chocolate chip cookies so that was already an improvement over last week!  One difference was that for the past two weeks, the cookies baked only 8 minutes but these had to go 10 minutes.

The cookies looked good when we pulled them out of the oven.  We let them cool slightly then tasted them.  I thought they tasted fantastic.  The edges were crunchy but the center was the perfect chewy cookie texture.  Also, the taste was delicious.  Much better than past weeks.  When asked, Bill said "they taste good".  We'll take that as a ringing endorsement!

Kayleigh and I had them again today after they had cooled completely.  They lost the crunchy edges but still tasted wonderful.  These were so good, I'm tempted to end the experiment right here - but we won't.  Next week - flax seeds.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Farmer's Market and Star Trek

We've had a lot of fun today.  Last weekend while on a bike ride, my husband saw a sign for a Sunday farmer's market in Munster so we decided to check it out this morning.  We had been to the park where it is held several years ago for a soccer game. 

It is still really early in the season so we didn't expect to see very much fresh produce but we were hoping for something.  The first thing we saw wasn't produce but it made us very excited.  It was this food truck:

We are lucky to come up with some kind of meal for me anywhere, let alone a whole menu where I could have almost everything on it!  I couldn't believe it and even questioned them to make sure all the baked goods were actually vegan.  They have waffles, cookies, banana bread, brownies, hot dogs, hamburgers, fruit cups, and several other things.  We walked through the rest of the market and bought some local spinach and romaine and then headed back for an early lunch.  Kayleigh got a regular hot dog and I got a Chicago style.  We each got a brownie.  The food was pretty good and very affordable.
After eating, we walked around the park to see all the improvements they have made.  It is really a beautiful setting.  Here is Kayleigh in the formal garden (wearing the same shirt she wore to the farmer's market in Chesterton!).
 And here is a general picture across some of the ponds/lakes.
After the market, we did our regular grocery shopping and then headed out to see the new Star Trek movie.  We love Star Trek so we would like it no matter what.  Overall we all enjoyed it but thought it could have been better.  We had seen an interview with JJ Abrams and were a little nervous when he said he wasn't a Star Trek fan.  It was OK though.  It had Benedict Cumberbatch in it from Sherlock which we also love so that helped.

Overall this was a pretty fun day.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Motivation from Strangers

Usually when I run outside, I'm running basically in a circle. My favorite places are the track at a nearby school, the park with the lake or the other park near our house.  One enjoyable part of circular routes is that there are almost always other people out there and, if they are going the opposite direction from you, you pass them several times.  I enjoy seeing the various people out there at different stages of fitness and different ages.  I especially like to see parents and their children because it is so important to set that healthy example.  I'm often tempted to say something encouraging as I pass people such as "Good job" or "You can do it" but I usually don't because I'm afraid they'll think I'm crazy.

Today, Kayleigh and I went to the local park first thing this morning.  She had worked out late yesterday so decided to slow down to my pace for as long as I could keep running.  I was shocked to make it 20 minutes before I had to walk.  At that point she sped up and continued her training.  I walked for 10 minutes then ran the remaining 10 minutes.  I reached the 5K mark at 38 minutes 23 seconds which is a new record for me.  Not bad considering I'm still coughing.

About one lap into our run, a family of two parents, another woman, and two teenagers showed up.  The two women walked at a slow pace.  One of the daughters walked at a quicker pace.  Then the father and other daughter started out walking quickly and then started jogging for short distances.  Once Kayleigh left me, I was really struggling but every time the father passed me, he would say something encouraging.  It was a huge motivation and kept me going.  The final time I passed him was right after the 5K point.  I said "I'm almost to my finish line" and he said "You got this mama".  I smiled all the way to the end.  Kayleigh was waiting by the car for me.  I was about to tell her about how much he had helped me but before I could catch my breath she said "That guy is awesome.  I wish he was always out here."  He had cheered her on along the way as well.

It is a shame that we didn't get a chance to tell him how much he motivated us.  I decided one thing after today's run though.  From now on, I'm not going to hold back from encouraging the people I pass.  It might be just the validation they need to keep going.

Also, happy birthday to my husband!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Vegan Mint Chocolate Shake

I'm all alone today.  Bill has a meeting after work and then his normal Wednesday night training ride.  Today is Kayleigh's last day of school but the orchestra is performing at commencement tonight so they have to go straight to the venue for rehearsal.

So I decided to get some decent workouts in.  First thing this morning, I tried some new yoga routines that I found online which focused on my very weak arms and ridiculously tight hamstrings.  Then after lunch, it was so beautiful I decided to go for a walk.  I still have this lingering cough so I can't run much but I managed to walk 4 miles in a little over an hour.  Later I am hoping to do a short ab workout.  We'll see, I'm getting pretty tired!

I felt so good after that long walk, I decided to treat myself with a shake.  This is just as healthy as my usual fruit-greens-water smoothies but it feels more decadent!  It is lovely and thick and very much like a milkshake thanks to the avocado.  This recipe makes one nice large serving.

Mint Chocolate Shake

1 cup non-dairy milk
2 cups spinach
1/2 avocado
1/8 cup cacao powder
1/8 cup agave nectar
1/4 tsp mint extract
1 cup ice cubes

Blend everything until smooth.  Sprinkle with hemp seeds and cacao nibs for extra pretty, crunchy, nutrition.

By the way, I'm entering this in Tinned Tomatoes' "No Croutons Required" contest for June.  Please check out her blog

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

One Strawberry

It has been really cold around here lately.  I planted basil and parsley a few weeks ago and I've been a little worried that they wouldn't grow.  I went out to check on them this afternoon and luckily they are doing fine.  The basil is actually really thriving which is interesting because it usually does well when the weather gets really hot and humid.

As I was pulling a few weeds, I noticed this:

A perfectly red strawberry.  I got really excited and went inside to get a bowl.  As it turned out, that was the only red strawberry.  There are a lot of white ones though so we should be flooded in strawberries soon. 

The plants are so high and full now that I almost couldn't make out where the stepping stones were.  I had to reach down and move the plants to the side so that I could see where to step next.  As corny as it sounds, I immediately thought of my life path over the past year.  I haven't always been able to see clearly where I was going but somehow along the way, I managed to find those stones and navigate through it.  Then I was thinking about how maybe that one strawberry is the perfect job that is waiting out there for me.  There are plenty of others that are almost right but only the one that is the right fit for me. 

Regardless of any deeper meaning, I ate the strawberry immediately and it was delicious!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Eggless Experiment #2 - Chia Seeds

This is week two of our egg replacement testing.  We used the same recipe as last week which can be found here.

This week we tried chia seeds.  This was the option I was most interested in because I make a porridge-type thing out of chia seeds.  They turn somewhat gelatinous when in liquid  so I thought that would emulate the consistency of eggs well.  Plus their taste is mild.

You use 2 tablespoons hot water (we used the hottest water we could get from the tap) and 1 tablespoon chia seeds per egg you are substituting.  I didn't have any instructions beyond that but we chose to mix the chia and water in a small bowl and set it aside for a few minutes to let the seeds soak up the liquid.

We followed the same procedure as last time, tasting the dough, warm cookies, and cooled cookies.  We judged the appearance and taste of the dough and then cookies.

Surprise - we didn't like them!  First of all, you could see the seeds in the dough and in the final cookies.  For this reason alone, I don't think this is a good substitute because when you are serving chocolate chip cookies, you want it to look like a normal chocolate chip cookie.  You could definitely tell there was something different about these from the first glance.

This is what the dough looked like before we added the chocolate chips.  See all those little black seeds?

As for the consistency of the dough it was fine and the taste was normal at first.  But once you swallowed it, you were left with little seeds in your teeth.

We all sat down to try the warm cookies at the same time. Bill had already discovered the little seeds in the dough so he was leery.  He took two bites and didn't finish his cookie.  He said it tasted like nothing.  Kayleigh and I liked the taste but didn't think it tasted quite "normal".  The seed problem with the dough was also a problem with the cookie. You were left with little seeds in your teeth.  Even though I like chia seeds, it was a little disturbing to have them still in my mouth after eating a cookie.  The positive side is that eating these cookies will encourage you to brush your teeth more often!

Kayleigh ate a cooled cookie last night and thought they were OK.  I had one today after lunch and now I see what Bill means when he says it has no taste.  It tasted like I was eating chocolate chips.  I broke off a little piece without any chips and it was tasteless.

The other issue was that the cookies got very flat when cooking.  I don't like puffy cookies but this was ridiculous.

So overall, while we will eat these cookies, they had too many negative points for us to use chia seeds as a substitute in other baked goods.

Next week - arrowroot powder.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lentil Patties and Onion Soup Mix

Short post today but I'm giving you two recipes to make up for it!  I've caught some kind of miserable cold that is really running me down.  I'm sure it has something with our crazy weather that requires air conditioning one day and the furnace the next.  Today is a furnace day.  Kayleigh and I went to the park where I mostly walked and she ran 3 miles.  We were all bundled up but I was still wishing I had brought ear muffs.

These lentil patties are my husband's favorite.  They are a pain to make, not because they are involved, but because they are almost impossible to keep together when you flip them.  I learned not to stress over it.  I flip it as well as I can and then press the pieces back together into a basic patty shape.  Luckily my daughter prefers it when it falls apart so when I get one that won't cooperate at all, it goes to her!

I used to use the packets of dry onion soup mix to flavor these patties along with a few other recipes.  It really bugged me how salty that was though so I came up with my own mixture that I keep on hand.  This is salty enough for us but keep in mind that if you are used to the store bought version, you may want to season your food more strongly to make up for the reduced salt.

Dry Onion Soup Mix

3/4 cup dry minced onion
1/3 cup vegetable bouillon
4 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon celery salt

Mix everything and store in an airtight jar.  1/4 cup equals one store-bought packet.

Lentil Patties

1 cup brown lentils
1 strip kombu, optional
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1/4 cup dry onion soup mix
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

Combine lentils, water and kombu (if using) in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes.  Drain and remove kombu.

In a large bowl, combine lentils with remaining ingredients.  Mix well and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Heat a non-stick pan and coat with oil.  Using an ice cream scoop or a 1/3 cup measuring cup, press the lentil mixture and then drop into the pan. 

Press with the back of a spatula to flatten the patty. 

Keep heat relatively high.  Once the patties start to brown (4-5 minutes), flip them as well as you can.  Press any loose pieces back into the patty.  Cook an additional 4-5 minutes.

These are very good with gravy and mashed potatoes.  Here is what Kayleigh's crumbly patty looks like!