Category Archives: ARCHIVES

AMBROSIA!!!

My grandmom used to make ambrosia for holidays. It may be a Southern thing (i.e., I haven’t seen ambrosia mentioned anywhere). I thought about it a couple of times, but never tried to make it. Then, for some reason, I asked my mom how Grandmom used to make it. She told me about the oranges and coconut, but then came the idea-killer: sugar. I put the idea back on the shelf.

Recently, I have come into a lot of oranges, not intentionally – someone sent them to me. There are only so many oranges you can eat, really. So I started to think about ambrosia again…..

On my last trip to Trader Joe’s, I saw a little bottle of stevia. I’ve never tried to use stevia, but I got a bottle. Yesterday, I had tried to make ambrosia once more, just peeling the oranges and separating the little parts, and then throwing dehydrated coconut pieces (again, from Trader Joe’s). It did not at all excite me. This afternoon, I went back, cut up the orange parts, ground up the dehydrated coconut, and sprinkled a little stevia on the whole thing and mixed it up. Whoa! Ambrosia pretty much like I remember Grandmom’s ambrosia. Uh oh!

Now, what can I do with ambrosia? Tomorrow, I’ll try mixing it in with some cashew yogurt I made. I may throw in some dried blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries (I’ve become addicted to these dried fruits that are actually quite reasonable at Trader Joe’s. (Oops! please notice that I am not an affiliate of Trader Joe’s – it is just a very convenient store to where I live in New York City, and the prices are better than the other nearby supermarkets)

Back to the ambrosia – I am going to go to bed early tonight so that my ambrosia/yogurt experience will come earlier.

MY NEW YEAR’S BLACK-EYED PEAS!

I got a little fancy with my black-eyed peas today. I had the sprouted black-eyed peas, and I had a small red bell pepper, an onion, a jalapeno pepper, garlic, and I got a “salad mix” of mesclun, kale, collards, spinach, and chard, because the bunch of collards offered in the store was just too much.

I took a about three big handfuls of the salad mix and chopped them up to small pieces. Then I finely chopped 4 cloves of garlic. I chopped up one small yellow onion. I chopped the garlic as finely as I could. I chopped the red bell pepper and the jalapeno into small pieces.

I sprinkled some salt on the greens and mashed them around until they were wilted. I added the greens to the sprouted black-eyed peas, and I added in the minced garlic, jalapeno, and chopped onion. Then I added a capful of apple cider vinegar, and about 2 capfuls of extra virgin olive oil, and mixed it all up. Finally, I added a Cajun Spice mix (because I couldn’t find paprika, and this spice mix had paprika listed as the first ingredient, and had other spices I like.

I tossed everything thoroughly — and…… voila! the Cajun Spice Mix gave it all a “smokey” flavor, which worked for me. Yumm! Hopefully, as we always hope, this will bring good luck and prosperity, as it is supposed to do.

I gave half of what I’d made to a fellow who has helped me out a lot. He is from New York, and was unfamiliar with the custom of eating black-eyed peas and collards on New Year’s Day, but he did say that everything he’s ever eaten that I have cooked was really good. I explained about the custom, so, now that he knows about it, perhaps it will bring good luck and prosperity to him, too.

I have a little leftover, so I will probably eat that for lunch at work tomorrow.

NEW YEAR’S DAY RECIPE – BLACK-EYED PEAS AND COLLARDS

It’s a little late this year to tell you what to eat so that you can get good luck, but I will tell you anyway. In the South, and, seemingly, in New York City, as well, black-eyed peas are an important good luck food to eat on New Year’s Day. How do I feel confident about this assessment? Number 1, I am from the South, and I just KNOW the first thing my Mom will ask me, when I call her to wish her a Happy New Year, will be “Have you eaten your black-eyed peas?” It won’t matter what time I call her.

When I was growing up, we knew that you eat black-eyed peas and collards on New Year’s Day for good fortune and prosperity, because black eyed peas mean good fortune (there’s a story behind that) and green is the color of money.

Most people go to the supermarket and buy a can of beans and cook up a “mess” of collards. (if you wait until New Year’s Eve to buy your canned black-eyed peas, you might be out of luck)

Being raw vegan might seem to to throw a wrench in the works, but… not to worry. If you buy organic dried black-eyed peas (or even just the regular dried black-eyed peas), and soak them overnight (like at least 8 hours), you will be well on your way to *sprouted* black-eyed peas, full of all sorts of nutrition, in addition to that good fortune.

Black-eyed peas take a bit of time to sprout. First, you soak them for @ 8 hours (overnight), rinse, drain, leave alone, then repeat again in the evening with “rinse, drain, repeat, until you see 1/4 inch sprouts, at which time you can choose to stop and eat, or to wait another day or so, and then stop and eat.

Once you have black-eyed pea sprouts that are at least 1/4-1/2 inch long, you can chow down.

My New Year’s black-eyed peas and collards dish goes like this:

1 cup black-eyed peas sprouted one to two days (until they have a 1/2 inch tail)

approximately 1 cup chopped collards, massaged with salt until they start to seem juicy

Mix the collards and black-eyed peas together.

Add in finely chopped red bell pepper, finely chopped onion, finely chopped jalapeno (if you desire), finely chopped garlic to taste, paprika (if you choose) , soaked sun-dried tomatoes or fresh chopped plum tomatoes, onion, if you choose.

Toss, eat, and feel virtuous.

Okay, what if you didn’t make the black-eyed pea sprouts?

Depending on how serious you are about keeping raw, (or if you still have a vegan bone) … you could cover your eyes and raid the local supermarket to find that last can of black-eyed peas. Then you follow the recipe above.

This year, I am going to put in chopped red bell pepper, minced garlic, minced onion, olive oil, (probably a dab of apple cider vinegar – no guarantees, – but, most often, apple cider vinegar takes a welcome part in whatever I am making — we’ll see!), and an organic Cajun spice blend of paprika, celery, garlic, red pepper, thyme, and oregano. I didn’t want to buy a huge bunch of collards, but I found a “mixed greens” package which includes spinach, kale, mustard greens, collards, chard, and beet greens, so I will chop them up in my new food processor, massage them with a little Himalayan sea salt and apple cider vinegar, and throw them in the mix.

WONDERFUL BREAKFAST!

I made some cashew yogurt because I had an overload of blueberries. I added a dab of honey (a teensy dab) and mixed in the blueberries. Then, something rang in the back of my head, and I remembered that I had picked up some freeze-dried (that should be raw, right? raspberries at Trader Joe’s. I grabbed the bag, opened, it, and, instinctively started squeezing the berries to crush them (I mean, I didn’t have a plan, but that is what I did, as automatically as if I *had* had a plan) Cool… the berries crushed into powder, and I just mixed them in until it looked like a consistent color. OH BOY! I am henceforth addicted to yogurt with blueberries and crushed freeze-dried raspberries. Who knows where this might lead?

TWO RECIPE BOOKS I REALLY LIKE RIGHT NOW

Heads up! These books are not at all new, but if you are looking for good, easy, interesting recipes, they are definitely worth seeking out.

A few years back , I got excited about Gorilla Food by Aaron Ash (copyright 2013). At the time, I was an Amazon Associate, and I did not realize that, at the time, WordPress did not look kindly on people using their free blogs to talk about products they really liked. I’m not an Amazon Associate now, so I can tell you that I still really like this book. It has easy-enough tasty recipes, and is not overly loaded with dehydrator recipes. I’d say it is a decent book for those who are getting started and are excited to try new recipes (I, personally, ignore the dehydrator recipes, and, still find enough interesting things to try out).

Not too long ago, I got a “new to me” book titled “Raw Food for Everyone” (copyright 2011), by Alissa Cohen. (I can tell you how I missed this book’s appearance in 2011 – I was not particularly impressed with the first book I read by Cohen) This book has engaged me with its number of simple recipes, and limited number of dehydrated recipes. I am intrigued by the sauce recipes. One thing I find annoying is that recipes will refer to another recipe that you have to look up in order to complete your work of art, however, I am a big girl and I can get over that — at least the recipes are where I am told to look for them. This book is, right now, my go-to book when I am looking for something new and relatively simple to make. Even if I don’t always agree with the seasoning/flavoring choices in the recipes (do you?) I know enough to reach out to my favorite seasonings and change things up.

All said, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in integrating raw vegan food into their diet, and, also to anyone who wants to try out some new and interesting recipes.

PROGRESS OR PROGRESSION

I used to love to make dehydrated foods, but then, one day, I just decided that dehydrating took too long, and, then, rationalizing, I decided that it was not as “natural” as food freshly cut up and mixed into different combinations. (Okay, I have met raw vegans who do not even want to use a food processor – they figure they should bite everything by themselves — I doubt I will ever be that raw – I like my food made into little bits or mush) So, anyway, I do not put my dehydrator into storage, and I now make recipes for things that I can make either by cutting the ingredients up or reducing the ingredients to mush in my food processor or in my Nutri-Bullet (yes – I don’t use a super power blender). It’s kind of interesting. I’m back to just a few steps from the way I started raw (with only a fierce Chinese cleaver). I’m feeling peace here, actually (No philosophy involved! Just thinking about how much easier my life is now that I don’t dehydrate)

I will share with you that most things that you’ll see dehydrating instructions for (aside with the obvious breads, cookies, crackers, etc) can be made as pates, and eaten unheated — i.e., a raw vegan burger which hasn’t been dehydrated, will be a raw vegan burger pate.

Life is so much simpler now.

HOLIDAY RECIPES!

It’s that time again! if you go to my page https://prettysmartrawfoodideas.wordpress.com/holiday-recipes-thanksgiving-christmas/

which you can click on at the top of the blog, you can find a number of reasonably simple recipes for Christmas and Hanukkah.

Since I no longer dehydrate, I will be making the Amazing Sweet Potatoes, and Judy’s Just Like Pumpkin Pie (which I will just refrigerate to firm, instead of dehydrating), and the sunflower seed dressing (without dehydrating – the taste will be there!) I might also make the Raw “Mashed Potatoes” and Mushroom Gravy. It depends on how much I want to impress my family (since I can’t go there – you know why- I may well be seeing them on some computer app – they’ve brought it up, and I’m waiting for instructions, but, actually, if you must know, writing this blog is about as computer savvy as I get). If I get to see them, I don’t know when they will want to to talk (over dinner?) Over unwrapping gifts? (that would be fun!) So I figure I should prepare some food in case I am expected to dine with them.

SO, OKAY, MORE ON IMPERFECT

I am still with Imperfect Foods, but I don’t really know how long this is going to last. To date, I have twice received rotted fruit, and have had to go back to them and complain (they do refund you what you paid, but it is a hassle, and a time consumer.) I have also received products which I had not ordered (cookie mix and bread? Hello?) Each time they have refunded the cost, but, still, time and frustration is involved.

Last week, I got an order I had not ordered. That was certainly a surprise. I had to complain about that.

What’s wrong with me? I mean, I keep ordering from these people.. and I keep being disappointed in the service.

I am going to keep trying them through this year, and I am going to make a decision in the New Year (I mean, it is so darn easy to go in on the order date and write down what you want and know that you would have paid more even at Trader Joe’s — only thing is that, at Trader Joe’s, you’ll know what you asked for and got.)

I do like the convenience, and, if I buy more than $60 worth for 2 weeks, they don’t charge shipping.

Still, though, there are the hassles. I can get most of the same things at Trader Joe’s, and I get what I get, no hassles. the price will end up coming up the same. So, the only real difference is the convenience, but….. if, every time I receive a box, I have to check and complain about what was or wasn’t in the box, welll…….

MAIL-ORDER PRODUCE: “Imperfect Foods” and “Misfits”

I’ve been trying something new here, and I sort of like it.

About a month ago, I got wind of an outfit called Misfits Market and it sounded interesting.  The politically correct idea of this company is that they are sending out produce that was not “supermarket or organic food market quality” but was still good enough — as in, making one’s contribution to the idea that no food should be wasted.  The idea is that this company sends you a bunch of vegetables and fruit in a box for a prices which are probably a little cheaper than you would pay if you did your own shopping (especially considering that at least half of the produce was organic).  I ordered blindly, and received a box filled with a massive assortment of all kinds of produce. My initial impression was that it looked like those boxes of produce I used to get when I belonged to a CSA group – no way to know what would be in there, but, for sure, it would be a lot of interesting produce – enough to inspire the purchase of another recipe book!

Then, a week or so after I got that box from Misfits,  I received an email from another similar place called Imperfect Foods (I guess they were spying on Misfits).  This one has a similar mission, but you get to pick and choose from a series of lists, as to what you would like to see in your box.  I did not know that when I first signed up, so my box was similar to, but, I felt, somewhat better than, what I had gotten from Misfits.  Then, after I got another email from Imperfect Foods, I went to their website and discovered that, in fact, they let you decide what will be in your box, as well as how often  you will receive a box of produce.  That got me going, so I eagerly awaited the order period, which was from the Monday afternoon to the Wednesday afternoon of the week the box would be delivered.  So cool.  So I was there at 1:15 reading through what I could order. Since I had a lot left over from those aforementioned first two boxes, I made a kind of skimpy order and tried a couple of things I have never eaten – one was persimmons, but I don’t remember the name of the other one, also a fruit, maybe a guava? I will cut it open sometime this weekend and see if it looks like the pictures I saw on a Google search.

So, anyway, my box showed up this morning, decidedly emptier than the first one was, but still full enough to keep me busy.   

While I was unpacking it, I ate one of the persimmons: now there is an interesting fruit! It is cute, but, when you eat it, it has very little to no flavor at all, unless you count “sweet” as a flavor. Boy, was it sweet!  I have one more left, but it will likely disappear sometime in the next day or so.

So, anyway, I just wanted to talk about this experience in case you have never heard of it and you happen to be in one of the many places in the country where they ship to.

I feel that the prices are quite fair – in most cases, cheaper than what I would find in an organic market here in New York City and also cheaper than what I would be able to find in a farmer’s market,  You do have to be aware of the prices where you normally shop so that you can compare the prices and decide if it is worth it to you.  It certainly seems to be worth it to me, and the shipping charge is just a little more than the tax I would pay on my purchases in a brick and mortar shop.

In my case, I have also tried some pricey items that I have heard mentioned but have never been willing to pay the steep prices for,  Bubbie’s pickles and Califia Almond Milk.   Bubbie’s pickles did not immediately impress me – the first one I tried was just way too salty, yet, a couple of days later, when I cut a pickle into slices, it was a totally different experience.  I don’t know if I will make a practice of ordering Bubbie’s pickles, but now I know why so many raw food personalities recommend them as ingredients in their dishes.  The Califia Almond Milk was a total disappointment, though — first, they advertise that it is so natural and organic, but their ingredients label has some ingredients that are mostly alphabet letters and unpronounceable, and definitely not spelled almonds and water.  Red Flag!  (good! I can save money!)

Long story short: I will probably stay with Imperfect Foods for a while because it sort of encourages me to be more adventurous (a little, anyway) and it is one way for me to push myself to get to the kitchen and whip up some good food. 

If you like to avoid grocery shopping, or if you would like to free yourself from all of the impulse buying many of us like to do once we do get to the market, I think this is a very good way to curb produce expenditures and save some money in the bargain.

MORE COOL THINGS I LEARNED THIS WEEK -I don’t necessarily like smoothies

I have been grinding things up in the blender for a really long time, but…. for some reason I never had a problem before…. I just got it…. if I put things in the blender on my own, I eyeball what I am doing.

This week, I tried some “smoothie recipes and came out with some “sludge”, i.e. something quite thick, so thick, actually, that there is no delicate way to consume it other than to get a spoon. So.. I spent two days finishing a smoothie, because I kept going back and adding water, etc. to liquidify the mess.

So, if I find a new smoothie recipe from here on, I will probably halve the recipe to see how it goes and, also, to have more room in my blender if I need to add water.

Why am I sharing this with you? Well, you know, you might follow a smoothie recipe and find that you don’t like the thickness, the texture, or the taste (that happened to me this time, too) but you can MITIGATE the issue by adding water, most times.

My second boo-boo was including a salad mix of tomato, cucumber, celery, and onion. Whoops! The onion kept giving an “under-taste” that I could not abide. I had never tried onion in a smoothie, and, well, it won’t happen again! I did not want to waste the smoothie, but it took me about 5 apples over several trials to bring it around to where I wanted to drink it. I say apples because I had a huge amount of apples, and, with each apple addition, it got better.

Then, I realized that I do not really like a smoothie, well, at least, not the thick sludgy things that lots of recipes recommend. I would much rather drink a lot of thin nice-tasting ground up vegetables in a bunch of water, rather than considering whether I should get out a spoon to consume what I see in the blender. Long story short: I don’t particularly care for spoon-able smoothies.