Trip to the Orchard!

****See below for my recipe for Mini Baby Baked Cajun Sweet Potato Fries: My first post for Vegan MoFo!****

We went to Homestead Farms, a local orchard, today and picked up some wonderful produce.  We picked our own Fuji and Cameo apples and picked our pumpkins straight off the vine.  Also picked up some gnarley mini squash/pumpkins and some green beans at the market on the farm.  I just HAD to share some of the pics from this glorious day we had.  It truly could not have been a more beautiful day.

Truly a PERFECT day!

Truly a PERFECT day!

Cameos

Cameos

Beautiful butterfly on a cameo apple tree

Beautiful butterfly on a cameo apple tree

Up close- I think you can see the pollen on his back!

Up close- I think you can see the pollen on his back!

The Loot :)

The Loot 🙂

Vegan MoFo: Mini Baby Baked Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

FriesFinal

(You’ll have to excuse the pics – my camera was acting up yesterday…pics turned out less crisp and sharp)

Basically, this is your basic sweet potato fry made mini and SPICY. You can eat them with your hands, a fork, chop sticks- you can’t go wrong.  You also can’t go wrong in making this recipe.  I tend to be pretty lax in amounts of ingredients, so this is an approximation.  This recipe would serve 2-4 people depending on their love of fries. You will need:

– Approximately 4 small/medium sweet potatoes (really any variety will do)
– 2 tsp olive oil
– Cajun Seasoning mix
1/2 tsp cayenne (more or less, trust me it goes FAR)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tspgarlic powder
fresh cracked black pepper
*note– you can use just plain salt, fresh herbs, dred herbs, some balsamic     vinegar..basically whatever you have or whatever suits your  tastes.

Additional Points

A. It would also help to have a mandolin or something that juliennes veggies to save time.  I was in a masochistic mood, myself, and decided to cut up each fry by hand.  Don’t ask me why I do these things, I’m just nutty sometimes.
B. You will see I was using my small convection oven with the fries on merely a rack lined with foil.  Ideally, you would use a larger cookie sheet in a larger oven.  You will want the fries to be as spread out as possible.  My large oven is out of commission, so I just made do.

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 450, line a cookie sheet with foil and grease well
2. Cut up sweet potatoes using whatever method you wish (knife, mandolin, food processor)
3. Place mini fries into a large mixing bowl and add 2 tsp of olive oil and spices.  I put on some gloves and just mixed it all by hand…making sure each fry is as coated as possible
4. Sprinkle fries over cookie sheet, try and make sure they are nice and spread out
5. Place cookie sheet on low rack in oven (make sure oven is already hot when you place the fries inside).  These little guys cook FAST.  Seriously.  It will seem like nothing is happening and you turn around to sneeze and they are all burnt…well, that may be an exaggeration, but still, you will have to keep an eye on them
6. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes.  Depending on your oven it may be slightly more or less, and you will want to flip them around halfway through.  Also, bake time depends on whether you like your fries more soft and tender or more crispy and burnt
7. Enjoy! Don’t eat them straight out of the oven- they do get better after cooling a bit and you WILL burn your tongue…I’m just sayin’…

FriesPreClose1Chop, Chop, Chop

FriesPreClose2Chop, Chop, Chop

FriesPreBakePre-Bake Shot

FriesBakingBaking! Yum!

And the theme is….

What is Vegan MoFo?

Sorry guys, my husband got sick at the end of the week (nothing too too serious) and has to go in for a procedure on Monday.  It’s why I’ve been a bit distracted from posting for MoFo.  But I am still committed and will post my first post later today.

I definitely got a lot of positive feedback for veganizing Pascha.  If it ends up I have the time, resources this month I surely will do it.  I was going to do it for Russian Easter in the spring, but, that’s so far away!  So, Officially, my MoFo theme is:

SP1a

I loooooove sweet potatoes.

Obviously.

Nothing can beat their flavor, texture, versatility!  I have met one too many a person who claims their hatred of sweet potatoes. Therefore, I will attempt to do “Sweet Potatoes 20 ways”….They will be in salads, soups, entrées, pies and even desserts! I will prove to the world how the lovely little lumps of vitamin A are not just good for you but delicious and fabulous!

Up next later today:

We start out on the easy/fun side: Mini Baby Baked Cajun Sweet Potato Fries – YUM!

Vegan MoFo

VeganMoFo

Ok, so this is my first year doing Vegan MoFo and I’ve already fallen down on the job for my first day.  Basically, for the entire month of October, Vegan bloggers everywhere (well, sort of) are committing to post about vegan food every weekday (about 20 posts).  I worked several night shifts this week and have been feeling under the weather, so my first day is starting tomorrow…unless inspiration strikes me in the middle of the night…which it may because my internal clock is alll screwed up.  Ah night shift, how I loathe thee.   Also, I am supposed to come up with a theme, which I also forgot to do, which is going to be a surprise! Stay tuned!

Update:

I am vowing to have my theme figured out before the end of the night….I was thinking of veganizing my Russian grandmother’s old recipes.  I was looking in an old Russian cookbook she gave me called, The Best of Russian Cooking by Alexandra Kropotkin (1964).  The first recipe I open up to is, no joke, “Calves Brains in Mayonnaise”.  Honestly, I don’t know what grosses me out more: the calves brains, the mayo (I have always been a mayo-phobe), or the fact that they are combined together.  Now, I don’t remember my grandmother cooking calves brains when I was little…but I do remember the cabbage pie, Kulichi, Pascha and other yummy dishes.  My dream is to be able to veganize Pascha….if you don’t know what Pascha is…well, it’s pretty much the unhealthiest food in the world.  It is a traditional Russian Easter dessert and when you first hear about it, it sounds absolutely revolting:

a mixture of cottage cheese

farmers cheese

a billion hard boiled eggs

butter

about 5 lbs sugar

cream

I’m not kidding…But it is ohhh so good.  I, obviously, have not partaken in the Pascha since going vegan (I’m probably the better for it, too), but I would love to be able to veganize our old family recipe.  We shall see.  Considering it is almost entirely comprised of animal ingredients it will prove a challenge.  Maybe not for VeganMoFo…but I vow to one day, on the eve of Russian Easter, show up to the Russian Orthodox Church basement and proudly place my rockin’ vegan Pascha next to the other traditional dishes cooked by the Russian Ladies of the congregation.  We’ll see if they can tell the difference!

On a more juvenile note…

Don’t forget to Eat Your Veggies!! 😉

penisApologies for my 12 year old boy sense of humor.

(Seriously though, this really is my squash…pretty impressive huh?)  I’m going to chop it up and put it in a butternut squash risotto for dinner tonight.  Any fans of Gobo out there?  As an ex-New Yorker living on the Upper East Side, Gobo was our favorite restaurant, and their butternut squash risotto was my favorite dish.  Oh how I miss it so!

Lament for Limerick

I am currently studying how to play the fiddle.  As an adult student, with absolutely NO music background, I won’t lie – it’s been very challenging! But OH so much fun! The fiddle is nice because you are allowed a bit more of your own style than with other instruments- it’s a bit more *relaxed*.  It has such personality and spirit.

Here is what I am currently working on: an Irish tune called Lament for Limerick, a slower tempo than the others I have practiced.  It has such a heartbreaking and melancholy tone to it which is wonderful.  The man in the video does a really beautiful job with it…hopefully with a lot of practice I can sound like this one day.  Enjoy!

The Argument for Animal Adoption/Rescue

Note: The following may seem a bit judgmental and quite opinionated…and, frankly, it is. It’s an impassioned rant that comes from my heart and from my true convictions…and it’s nothing personal.

I believe in rescuing all animals.  However, this discussion is just centered around dogs in particular.  NO animals should be bought- there are too many out there without homes.  That goes for cats, rabbits, birds and, yes, even hamsters, turtles etc.  Only adopt when you are 100% sure of what is involved in the care of your animal.  Don’t do these beings a disservice by bringing them out of the frying pan and then putting them right back into the fire.  Don’t be part of the problem – they’ve been through enough already!

If you haven’t read about my experience with the Navajo Dog, please do.  This experience only bolstered my strong opinions on rescuing dogs and not buying from breeders or pet stores.  There are soooooo many dogs out there that need to be rescued.  The more dogs that are bought from breeders/pet stores the more are abandoned in shelters.  If there is no market for breeder dogs then people will breed less dogs – it’s really as simple as that.

1.  First of all, as many of you know, many dogs from breeders and especially pet stores come from puppy mills. These dogs, many of them inbred, are much less healthy than their mixed breed counterparts.  In many cases they are less intelligent too.  We humans are the same way.  Civilizations who have not had enough genetic diversity have many health problems….ever heard of inbreeding and the problems that arise there?  It’s the same thing.  One could argue that mutts are actually the healthiest and most intelligent of dogs.

2.  Secondly, it is true that if you are buying a dog, you are literally condemning another dog, who has lived a life of misery, to death.  Here is an opportunity to be selfless…to not be concerned with status and pedigree, but to instead, care for the DOG (or cat etc).  People can be so selfish.  Really think about it: Why is breed so important to you?  How would you like to be passed over at a shelter because you were a mutt and not a pure bred?  How shallow can you get?  And if, for whatever reason, you MUST have a certain breed there STILL is no excuse. For every breed out there, there are at least several rescue leagues devoted to that particular breed.  A simple internet search will put you in touch with these organizations.

3.  Please don’t set your mind on a puppy.  First of all, they are much more work than you can imagine.  Unless you are fully committed to spending almost all of your time with them, you are doing the puppy a disservice.  Crating? How would you like to be placed in a crate for hours at a time, especially as a BABY?  Older dogs are much more mild mannered.  It is true you may not have them as long as you would a puppy, but why not stop thinking about yourself for a change?  Maybe it’s not all about you, yeah you’ll be sad…but you sure gave that old dog the best last few years of her life.  How would you like it if someone didn’t want you because you were “too old”?  Just something to think about.

4.  Please please please, spay or neuter your pet.  NO, you are not less of a man because your dog’s balls aren’t bouncing around behind him and NO your female dog will not lament that she never had puppies when she reaches middle age.  Again, there are enough (MORE than enough) dogs to go around, we don’t need to breed them.  For females, spaying is actually very beneficial to their health.  Having babies actually places a tremendous toll on their bodies and they are generally better off without having to give birth.

5.  Please don’t get a dog unless you realllllly know what is involved.  Right now, we don’t have a dog.  We love dogs and I would LOVE to share my home with one.  But we know that we don’t have the right amount of SPACE or TIME to give to the dog in order to provide it with a Good Life.  You will NOT be able to travel as much! There will be times when you can’t go out because you have to take care of your dog!  This is OK! Sacrifice is GOOD if you are willing to make it.   People these days don’t make enough sacrifices.  Be selfless…Be prepared…Do your research…You will be glad and so will your new friend.  Be a smart and responsible dog owner.  And if you can’t be a good owner now, maybe you will be in the future.  Instant gratification isn’t always a good thing, in fact it usually isn’t a good thing.  Dogs are like guns, if you need one RIGHT NOW, then your priorities are probably not in the right place.

Life as a Dog

How would you like it is you could only pee twice a day….and not when you wanted/needed to,  only when someone else allows you to.  And if you realllly had to go (know that feeling?  It’s awful!) and you just couldn’t hold it in any more you are punished.  If you are really unlucky, you are hit or forced into solitude in your crate and you don’t understand why.  You are a pack animal and yet you are alone most of your day while your owner is at work.  This makes you feel vulnerable and scared.  In the wild, your ancestors would stay together and work as a team to stay safe.

On walks, just when you find the perfect place to pee, or find a really amazing smell, you are yanked by your neck.  How would YOU like to be choked around by your neck?  We are out of the stone ages: buy a harness or a gentle leader collar (and invest in some training lessons while you’re at it!). Here is your one opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and you are kept moving the entire time.  And when your owner takes you out to the park on a really hot day, doesn’t it suck when they sit there drinking their ice cold Evian and offer you no water?

Really I could go on and on…bottom line: People need to be more caring, responsible and thoughtful towards their dogs.  A little bit of putting themselves in their dogs shoes will go a looong way.  Hopefully.

And if all of that wasn’t enough…watch this (*Note* This isn’t my video, but it is one that has deeply touched my heart)