Basic Quick Bread Formula (and Cranberry Walnut Bread)

Before the popularity of my herb books, before Amazon gave the opportunity for small authors to publish their work, even before I had heard of blogs, I had written three books. There is one remaining copy of each here, created and bound at a copy store, their pages stained. I wrote three plant based cookbooks and sold them at farmer’s markets and at my little shop on Main street. They sold surprisingly well, I thought, considering I lived in a small town where the common occupation was rancher. But as more and more people began to seek out healthier ways of eating, ways to beat disease, and young people began cooking for themselves, folks around there were looking for ideas.

This recipe is in my first book, Gone Vegan; Hooked on Brilliant Health and Beauty and Deliriously Good Food! It is a basic formula for Quick Bread. We love banana bread, pumpkin bread, or even savory bread, like onion. This recipe easily changes to what you have on hand. It is nice to be able to use one bowl, whip up some bread, and have it done in an hour. Yesterday I made Cranberry Walnut Bread with a touch of rosemary. See what you come up with!

Basic Quick Bread Recipe

2 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached white flour

1 1/2 cups of brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 T baking powder

1 ts of yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup of water

1 cup of water or plant milk

1/3 cup of oil

1 cup of nuts

1/2 cup fruit

Mix everything together and pour into greased bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until bread is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Variations

For the cranberry bread, I used 2 cups of white flour and 1/2 cup of whole wheat. I used walnut oil. I did 1 cup of walnuts and 1/2 cup of frozen cranberries (the moisture content required the bread to cook a little longer), and added 1 teaspoon of minced rosemary.

You can decrease the sugar, use white sugar, honey, agave, or maple.

Add savory dried onion and chives or red chile powder.

You could use lemon oil and orange juice as the liquid to make a fruitier bread.

Add 1 teaspoon of spices.

Maybe combine raisins and pecans. Currants and pine nuts. Eliminate the nuts altogether and just add 2 bananas. Feel free to play with this recipe. Cooking is all about experimentation. Just try to stay with the basic formula and you will be alright!

I am seriously considering testing my way through the three books and creating one book of great plant based recipes!

Piled High Nacho Fries (an easy plant based supper)

We particularly love Thrive magazine, which can be found at places like Vitamin Cottage or Whole Foods. It is a thick, colorful, book-like magazine filled with beautiful synopses of bloggers, Instagrammers, and vegans who share tidbits of recipes. The food photography and the visual inspiration is astounding. Since I rarely follow a recipe word for word, this type of “recipe” book is perfect for me. We look for it when we get to the health food store. We have missed several issues along the way, but when we see it, it is like we have won a great scavenger hunt.

Years ago, we came across a recipe in Volume 9 for fabulous looking Carno-Asada Fries by Chris Petrellese @consciouschris if you are on Instagram. I am not sure why this is, but when we go vegan, we have so much more fun cooking at home. We typically cook more often together and have a good time ad libbing recipes and enjoying the plates of vibrant, delicious food that result. We save all our Thrive magazines, and this recipe is one we come back to time and again. This is our variation of it (which changes each time we make it!):

Nacho Fries

At least 2 hours before you make dinner, put 1 cup of raw cashews into a bowl of water to soak!

  • 4 large russet potatoes- peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch fries. Place potatoes in a bowl and drizzle well with olive oil and mix.
  • Spread out onto a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until crisp, flipping fries over half way through.
  • Heat up some veggie ground meat. You can purchase already seasoned chipotle or taco meat-style, or buy plain and season it yourself with cumin, chipotle, taco seasoning, salt, pepper, etc. (Another fun idea that we used to do in the past for veggie meat was to soak walnuts in a bowl of water for a few hours, strain, run through the food processor with taco seasoning and wallah! Taco meat!)
  • Make the queso- (Let me just real quick tell you how much I love queso. Real queso is made from some pretty sketchy ingredients and it usually makes me feel pretty gross, so I LOVE cashew queso. Same addictive taste but ever so much better for me!)
  • Strain the cashews and add them to a Vitamix or other powerful blender.
  • Add in:
  • 1 Tablespoon or more Sriracha
  • 4 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • Blend completely. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve crispy fries with loads of veggie taco meat, queso, shredded ice berg or romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, cilantro, and guacamole for a delicious, healthy, fun supper!

Our 30 Day Real Food Challenge’s Epic Failure

I told you about a month ago that we were going to embark on a journey of real food.  It sounded absolutely ridiculous that we were perhaps eating more lab created food then natural food.  But we somehow did invite the world of marketing into our pantry and seems we have a lot of boxes, bags, and frozen this and that.  Organic, but still super processed and lots of questionable ingredients.

I have gained five pounds so far.  Oh no, not from the real food, but because not two days in I defiantly remarked, “You can’t tell me what to do!”  To myself.  I instantly became all bent out of shape about having to cook three meals a day and everything from scratch.  I would spend the day baking bread, scones, looking at cracker recipes, mess up my kitchen, and then make Doug take me out to dinner.  We have been out a record amount of times this month.  

Doug had the idea in his head that we were going to have something like smoothies for breakfast, salads for lunch, and Buddha bowls for dinner.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  Delicious, fresh, easy?  I can feel my stomach growling.  Sooo boring.

Let’s say I want tacos.  Well, I have to make the tortillas.  No problem.  Now, real meat or lab created veggie meat?  Okay, cheese or no cheese?  Lord, by the time I am done worrying about all this real food I am down at the Mexican restaurant slurping down a margarita.  I am a rather difficult housewife, it seems.

I am rereading, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  The author and her family embark on a journey of not just real food, but local food as well.  I stood in front of my impressive old pantry shelf filled with jars of staples and realized that not a single thing on it was produced locally.  I also have so many rogue ingredients from trying (or intending to try) one recipe.  I have so many things going rancid.  And nothing in my house is local save for what is now coming up in the garden and the eggs from the coop.

It is certainly difficult to rewire the brain.  Simplifying my recipes is the answer I am sure.  Local food.  Organic food.  In its original form.  Without all the overthinking.  But trying to figure out what to eat without the helpful addition of boxes, bags, and this and that, is actually rather difficult.  I had no idea we were so dependent.  Throw in moral dilemmas of meat or no meat and a tired housewife and you have yourself a predicament and an extra five pounds.

My friend laughs because I am actually a lot better at being healthy when I am not planning.  So, perhaps we are better if we just take one meal at a time.  One little change at a time.  One local food in, one box out.  One more walk around the lake.  We’re doing fine.

The Well Stocked Pantry and Repurposed Antiques

I love interesting furniture pieces.  These were cubbies in a hardware store in 1950.  I love the original stenciled numbers.  I bought it at an antique store ten years ago and it was the primary showpiece, holding my tincture bottles, in my shops.  It now holds a place in my kitchen.  I realize that it is getting really dingy looking.  Sixty-nine years of army green can only hold up for so long.  (Spoiler alert!  Next week I am revamping my kitchen.  Can you guess what color the cubbies are becoming?)  I just sold my Hoosier yesterday to make room for my new kitchen idea.  It held glasses and barware.  You can take any old piece and reimagine its purpose.

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I love this idea with the pantry items.  It looks fun and unique while being practical.  Things do tend to get lost in the back of the pantry or spoil.  I end up buying way too many of one thing over time, thinking I am out.  This is a great way to keep track of what pantry pulses I have on hand.  It makes grocery planning easy.  And it serves as dinner inspiration.  Choose a grain or legume, see what veggies I have on hand, think up a theme, and go!  Dinner is on.

What the World Eats (and being aware of what we eat!)

I saw the photo montage go by on my Facebook feed of What the World Eats.  Each photograph of a family in a different country with all the food that they eat in a week.  It took me by surprise, really.  Many of the countries that I thought would have healthier food choices did not.  And the ones that I would consider healthy had little more than five bags of staples like beans and rice.  What really astounded me though was the sheer amount of processed food.  My goodness, big companies have made their way around the world.  One photo showed liters and liters of Pepsi.  Packages of pre-cut meats.  Boxes and boxes of processed foods.  And some produce.  It made me think, What am I eating? What would our photograph look like?

Just for a day I began photographing my meals.

When we had our practically off-grid farm there for a bit, we were practically self-sufficient.  We had a root cellar filled with fruits and vegetables.  A freezer full of local meat and my own cheese curing from my own goats.  What that photo wouldn’t show is all the food that went to feed the animals that I consumed.  (Nor would it show the chronic heartburn, weight gain, and gout.)  What do I eat now? was a question that would ultimately help me see what I could make myself and just how much processed food I consumed.

Breakfast- I love a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  I buy the organic box of raisin granola for $4-$5 and it feeds me for five days with roughly four cups of cereal in the box.  I wrote a book many years ago called, Gone Vegan, and I pulled out that trusty manual to find my old granola recipe.  It is so good and it made doubled the granola in roughly 40 minutes for a fraction of the price.  One less box I need to send to recycling and one less plastic insert that goes in the trash.

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Homemade Granola

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix 6 cups of oats with 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 T pumpkin pie spice, and 3/4 cup of canola, sunflower, or safflower oil, and a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.

Spray a cookie sheet with oil and after mixing all ingredients well, pour onto cookie sheet.  Drizzle with agave or maple syrup.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring half way through.  Then add 1 cup of nuts and 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit (I used pecans, raisins, and cranberries) and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.  Stir a few times after it comes out of the oven as it’s cooling to keep it from sticking or clumping.

Now, this is delicious with almond milk.  And indeed, I can make my own cashew, hemp, or almond milk.  But, I usually buy the carton because it lasts longer.

Lunch- For lunch I had a power smoothie.  My Vitamix is ten years old (a new one is on my wish list) so I have to juice the big stuff first.  I put in the juicer a large leaf of aloe, 3 apples, 3 carrots, a big handful of chard, and a chunk of ginger and turmeric.  Then I poured that into the Vitamix and added a big banana, spirulina, maca, hemp protein powder, pumpkin pie spice, frozen berries, a dollop of both peanut butter and coconut oil.  A drizzle of maple syrup or agave and on the machine goes.  I split it in half and send my husband with his tomorrow in his lunch and drink my half with a few crackers and vegan cream cheese and jam that I preserved.  I could certainly make my own crackers but they aren’t quite as good as organic Ritz style.  But maybe I will work on that this week!  I do buy packaged vegan cheeses and meats.  The packaging is far less waste than the actual act of raising meat and dairy and the karmic value of going vegan is astronomical as well as the lessened impact on the environment.

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Dinner- Pizza with a homemade, 15 minute crust.  I topped it with my own preserved tomato sauce, vegan mozzarella and cream cheese, a ton of spices, and a bunch of delicious vegetables.

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The next night we had vegan carne asada with crisp oven fries, cashew queso, Beyond Meat crumbles, guacamole, tomatoes, and homemade red chile.

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The Big Picture– Well, I have a bit to go, don’t I?  But being aware is the first step to doing better.  So, yes, we use some packaged items and some of them could be made and some of them are the lesser of evils.  But produce is a large part of our diet and so are healthy grains.  I grow all of our produce for the four months we garden and I preserve a few hundred jars of produce a year.  This year with my expanded gardens and vertical gardening techniques, I hope to produce doubled what I have been.  This continues to increase our nutrition intake and lessen our footprint even more.  Preparing more ethnic dishes, like Indian and Mexican food allows the use of more beans and pulses, further increasing our health, and costs less environmentally and monetarily.

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Vegan cheesecake with homemade chokecherry sauce

As Americans especially, we have a lot of unwiring to do.  I hope in a year or so to look more like the family from Guatemala (sans meat) then the one from America.

http://time.com/8515/hungry-planet-what-the-world-eats/