Thursday, July 26, 2012

Veggie and Tempeh Stir Fry with Mae Ploy Sauce

We made a delicious stir fry the other night and it was pretty simple and fast to create! We just chopped up all of the veggies we had in the fridge (broccoli, onion, pepper, hot pepper, fresh homegrown sprouts, fresh Thai basil), fried up some tempeh, and made some rice noodles. I usually will fry the tempeh first in some grapeseed oil until it is browned on the sides, and then I'll add the veggies and the sauce. In this case, we used Mae Ploy, a sweet chili sauce from Thailand. Hopefully you are able to find this at your local grocery store because it is so delicious - just the right amount of sweetness and spiciness (along with the hot peppers we added!).

Once the veggies and tempeh were cooked a bit in the sauce, we put the whole mixture over some rice noodles.  And that's it! It was a satisfying and nutritious meal with loads of vegetables, and it really was not difficult at all to make.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peppers and Tomatoes are Ripening!

Over the last few days, we've been able to pick some fresh peppers and tomatoes straight from the garden. The tomatoes have been gobbled up fairly quickly as there are only a few of them, but as more start to turn red, I hope to use them in some recipes. The peppers have been used in salads and stir-fries over the past few days for lunch and dinner.

Pictured above, you can see a whole slew of Hot Banana Peppers (which have a mild spiciness to them) and two Red Rocket peppers (that are a bit spicier!).

Out of the two Hot Banana Pepper plants, I've picked almost all of the peppers by now and there are still a few small ones growing. Between the two plants, we will have picked about 15-20 peppers in total, which is pretty good for just a couple of plants!

We still have many, many other peppers growing on other varieties of plants, too. Stay tuned!

The smaller cherry tomatoes, "Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato" are turning red first out of the bunch as they are a lot smaller than the others. The ones that are pear-shaped are the "Red Pear Tomatoes". They're a little bit bigger than a cherry tomato, but smaller than a Roma tomato. You can see just how small the tiny tomatoes are in comparison!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Delicious Dinner of Potato Salad, Sesame Green Beans and Bruschetta

Over the weekend, Paul told me that he felt like making a potato salad with chipotle, similar to the one that we had at Strong Hearts Cafe in Syracuse. Then, he said that he also felt like having the Sesame Green Beans that we make a lot during the summer when the green beans are in season. We also happened to have some pre-made bruschetta mix in the fridge, so a trio of side-dishes was prepared for dinner! Even though all of the Vegenaise in the potato salad likely isn't all that healthy, we definitely got our servings of veggies in with this dinner!

Here is the recipe again for the green beans:


10oz green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp maple sugar (you can use brown sugar also)
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce (ie. Kikkoman brand)
Pinch of salt


1. In a saucepan of boiling water, blanch the green beans for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh in ice water, and drain again.
2. In a grinder, coarsely grind sesame seeds and transfer to a bowl. Mix in sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce and salt to form a paste. Stir in the beans to coat.

For the potato salad, we used the smaller potatoes and boiled them until they were soft enough when pierced with a fork (about 15 minutes). Then, we cooled the potatoes in the fridge. We chopped up a whole bunch of green onions and garlic scapes purchased at the farmer's market, plus a bunch of garlic chives from the garden. Then, we mixed the potatoes with the onions/scapes/chives, along with a whole whack of Vegenaise. Then, we added chipotle pepper spice to taste, as well as salt and pepper.

We purchased a yummy fresh loaf of garlic sourdough bread from the grocery store (ACE bakery, yum!) along with some pre-made bruschetta mix that looked fairly healthy. Once we get some tomatoes that are ready to be picked, you can bet that I'll be making the bruschetta mix from scratch!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fresh Veggies from the Milton Farmers Market

On Saturday, Paul and I went to the Milton Farmers Market in the town of Milton, Ontario. It is just a short drive away for us and it was definitely worth the trip. A section of Main Street is closed to traffic from 7am-12pm and that's where the vendors set up their stands. There was tons of fresh produce, freshly baked bread and an assortment of baked goods to be found!

We were searching mostly for organic veggies and we did find one certified organic stand amongst the bunch. We also found a vendor with items clearly marked "pesticide-free" and purchased some vegetables from them. I realize that not all farms, especially small ones, are officially certified organic, but may be taking steps towards not using pesticides or GMO seeds.

We came away with a whole assortment of goodies, including corn (used for Saturday night's dinner - corn on the cob - a true sign of summer!), broccoli, salad greens, bell peppers, garlic scapes (a whole huge bag for only a dollar!), onions, garlic, cherries, and plums. We also bought some vegan quesadillas (not pictured, and also prepared for dinner on Saturday night) and chipotle hummus from Sabros Latinos - a great little business that we often see at local markets that specializes in Latin American cuisine. They make the best vegan tamales, too!

I hope that we can go back every weekend to the market as I'd love to make it a new tradition - we've just gotta wake up early enough!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lavender from the Garden

The lavender in our garden is starting to bloom and I've started picking some of these delicate purple flowers to use in my baking. I have tried to pick them before the buds open fully, and then I've set them on a paper towel in a sunny spot so they can dry out. They smell amazing!

I might use the lavender to make the Strawberry Lavender Muffins that I baked last Fall as they were absolutely delicious. I also may use some of it to make a tea. For those who are into baking with lavender, or those who would like to give it a try, here are some recipes that I've rounded up from around the web. Usually you strain out the lavender and just use the delicate flavor in your baking, although there are a couple of recipes that use the lavender right in the yummy treat.  I haven't tested these ones out, but I'm thinking that I probably will in the near future.

Lavender Tea Cookies - from Once a Week Vegan
Lavender Fudge with Vegan Vanilla Marshmallows - from Sneaky Vegan
Lavender Shortbread - from Vegan Yum Yum
Chocolate Cupcakes with Lavender Icing - from Lindsay is Vegan

Friday, July 6, 2012

Barbecue Tempeh Sandwich

Ever since visiting Strong Hearts Cafe in Syracuse, NY and devouring their yummy BBQ tempeh sandwich, I knew that we needed to recreate this recipe at home so we could enjoy it all the time! And here we have it, our version of the BBQ Tempeh Sandwich!

We took one block of smoked tempeh (or you could use regular tempeh if you can't find the smoky variety), and sliced it into quarters, and then each piece again to make it half as thick (ended up with 8 pieces of tempeh). Then, we took a store-bought Maple Chipotle BBQ Sauce and poured some into the bottom of a square glass baking dish, layered the tempeh on top, and then poured more BBQ sauce on top. Cover that tightly with foil and bake into the oven at 350 degrees for one hour, removing the foil for the last 10 minutes.

If you'd like to make your own BBQ sauce, here's a recipe! I'm going to try it the next time around.

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp + 2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground chipotle
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp paprika

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl. (Thank you to the lovelies over at the PPK forums for the recipe - I believe I got it from a random thread!)

Besides, the two slices BBQ tempeh in each sandwich, we used two slices of organic whole wheat bread, leafy greens, Vegenaise / Vegan garlic aioli, yellow bell pepper slices, and some sauteed onions with cayenne pepper. It made for a delicious, incredibly filling, nutritious meal!

We also cut up some fresh fruit for a wonderful dessert! Kiwi, raspberry, strawberry, and refreshing!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kale and Swiss Chard from the Garden

Here is a picture of some beautiful Red Russian Kale and Rainbow Swiss Chard that I picked from the garden today. There are three kale plants that are thriving and numerous chard plants are growing. Only a couple of the chard plants have leaves that are big enough to pick, so I picked them and they look great!

As a wrap-up of my experiment to see what would grow in the shady patch in my backyard garden...

Here is the original diagram that I posted back in May when I put a whole bunch of seeds in a shady area to see what would grow:

The green onions were bulbs and some of them grew, some of them did not. Out of the beans, the Golden Wax Bean plant isn't growing too well, but the Royal Burgundy Bean and Tender Green Bean are starting to sprout little beans! I also planted all three bean varieties into pots and placed them in a sunny spot on the deck; they seem to be growing great in the sun, too. The Cherry-Belle Radishes are growing quite nicely, although they are taking a lot longer to grow than I thought. The Bloody Dock and Sushni were purchased as seedlings and they are still growing. Every once in a while we get to enjoy them in a fresh green salad.

The most successful plants in the shade have been: Rainbow Swiss Chard, Red Russian Kale, the beans and the radishes.

The Pak Choi and Wasabi Arugula didn't grow at all. I'm not sure what happened when I planted the seeds but they didn't sprout. The Tres Fine Endive grew great but they were all attacked by bugs. There were tons of holes in all of the leaves that didn't seem to stop, so I ripped out all of the plants and have planted some new Swiss Chard seeds in the hopes that I can grow more of those instead since the bugs don't seem to eat those plants.

Stay tuned for more updates!