Chile soup

Chile soup is one of my dad’s specialties. The spicier, the better. If you have roasted chiles, it’s quick and easy to make and paired with tortillas, makes for a filling meal. My parents sent me home with a bag of Anaheim peppers on my last visit which I roasted and froze. Here’s how:

To roast the peppers, broil for about 20 minutes on 400 then turn, broil for another 10-20 minutes or until the skin is blistered. Remove from oven and put in a sealed container, sealing the lid to trap the moisture and heat. Once they’ve cooled enough to touch, wearing gloves remove one pepper at a time, remove seeds, and peel. Chop into one inch pieces.

Soup Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons canola oil or water
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 cup roasted, peeled Anaheim pepper, or to taste
2 potatoes, cubed into 2 inch chunks
6 cups water and a bouillon cube or 4 cups water and two cups of vegetable broth
1 package Boca crumbles, Morningstar Grillers Crumbles, Yves Ground Round, or TVP
Salt to taste (optional)
1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (optional)

Sauté the onion in the oil or water on medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté one minute more. Add the tomatoes, cumin, peppers, potatoes, and water or broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. Add the crumbles and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add salt to taste and served garnished with cilantro.

Serve with fresh warm tortillas. I recently got this tortilla press which makes my tortillas more consistent in size and shape, plus it’s a little less of a mess to clean up than rolling them out on the counter. Just make a ball of dough, add some flour, and press!


Paella with vegan shrimp and sausage

On a trip to Spain in 2002, I recall eating a beautifully presented paella. I also recall trying to explain to the waiter that we did not want shrimp, fish, or sausage in it, which to him was simply incomprehensible. This colorful paella was made with vegan shrimp from Sophie’s Kitchen and Field Roast brand vegan sausage. These days, there’s almost nothing you can’t find in a vegan version.

Sophie’s Kitchen got its start because the owner was looking for an allergen-free alternative to seafood for her daughter. There are other good reasons to avoid eating sea creatures as well: like overfishing, which, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization , “is putting heavy pressure on the world’s shrimp stocks … and causing significant environmental harm.

Available in Whole Foods and other large natural stores, Sophie’s Kitchen’s products are all-vegan and free from most common allergens, like soy.

Blueberry cake

This blueberry cake recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking by celebrated vegan cookbook author, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, tastes as good as it looks. Colleen will be the first to admit that just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s health food. If your friends and family think vegan equals tasteless, make this and have them over for brunch. They’ll leave as true believers.

Colleen just launched her new web site, The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. If you’ve ever wanted to try vegan, it’s a great resource.

Three things I love about my CSA

I picked up my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box last might and was reminded how much I love participating in a CSA. While I love it for many reasons, here are just a few:

1. Fresh produce. The fruits and vegetables are typically harvested the day of the delivery, or within a day. You don’t find that at the grocery store.

2. Seasonal produce. You always know what’s in season. We’re getting an abundance of tomatoes and melons now. In a few months we’ll be overrun with turnips. I like knowing that I’m eating foods when they’re meant to be eaten. No January tomatoes or August asparagus for my family!

3. Supporting local farmers. My CSA is from the Capay Valley, located about 100 miles from where I live. I can go visit the farm, participate in potlucks and festivals there. The produce is organic and the employees are employed year-round ensuring job stability and stable lives for the workers and their families.

At $16 a week for what is sometimes more than what we can eat, it truly is priceless.

I get my CSA through Full Belly Farm. Find one in your area here.

Wild blackberry scones

There are ripe blackberries everywhere right now.  I see them as I walk down the street, along sidewalks, when I’m sitting at stoplights and driving down the highway. Most of them are out of reach or likely covered in highway soot, but there’s a path in my neighborhood where they grow that’s sparsely traveled. I’ve been waiting for them to ripen for weeks.

This morning I made blackberry scones using this recipe and substituting milk for soy milk and butter for Earth Balance and added some lemon zest. The sourness of the berries is offset by the sweetness of the scones. They’re best when piping hot.