Sunday, May 29, 2011

Zucchini Soup and Hearty Bread

Going vegan once a week for 6 months now and can you believe that a brand new pair of Birkenstocks fell into my lap! They fit perfectly and project that earth momma look that I remember from the 70s. And to think that the giver of these shoes bought them on QVC ? Why does that strike me as funny? I used to look up to Hippies. They were peace loving, cared about nature, and broke all conventions. I may have been in grade school, but I wanted that free spirited lifestyle too. It didn't happen though. The times and fads changed by the time I graduated high school.

Flash forward to my dear wonderful mother buying Joan Rivers jewelry from TV. One can't fault her for being the quintessential Giving Tree. We actually fight about how much she gives away to me. She finds it very hard to receive. Anyway, she has always enjoyed shopping and now can do it from her cozy couch. Yes, I too love shopping as much as the next, but to me, our throw away, over consumptive society has harmed nature and wastes precious resources. How do we balance modernity and convenience with the greening of the planet? My mother's cast off shoes, Birkenstocks, which symbolize back to nature, were bought with plastic on such an artificial medium as TV. It is a little ironic, isn't it?

Zucchini Soup

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion

8-10 medium zucchini

8 cups vegetable stock

salt and pepper

My family members, who eat anything and everything, but basically meat and potato people
found this recipe bland. My husband added salt and pepper, but seemed to enjoy it. My mother, on the other hand didn't even finish her bowl. Honestly, I usually make this soup with chicken stock, but I liked it just as much with the vegetable stock. Try for yourself!

  1. Peel and chop onion into medium small pieces. Heat stock pot one or two minutes before pouring the olive oil inside. Then toss in onions and cook over medium heat until translucent.

  2. Meanwhile wash and chop squash into medium large pieces. Once the onions look done, pile the squash into the pan. Immediately pour in the vegetable stock until squash is submerged. Simmer on medium or low heat until squash is fork tender.

  3. Blend the hot soup carefully in a blender or food processor. If you have a hand held blender, plug it in and process the soup directly in the pan.

  4. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

4 seed Bread

3/4 cups corn meal

2 cups water

2 tablespoons vegan margarine (or coconut oil)

1/4 cup molasses (backstrap preferable)

1/2 cup corn meal

1 tablespoon yeast (1 1/2 packages)

1/2 cup warm water

2 3/4 unbleached white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon flax seeds

1/2 flour (to knead with)

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

I took this recipe from a book Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons. She calls it Three-Seed Anadama Bread. My non-vegetarian family enjoyed it for breakfast and lunch over Memorial Day. Next time I will make it as dinner rolls because it would be handier to already have it portioned out and not have to slice it yourself. That being said, it was hearty enough to put into my toaster as thick slices to warm it up. I have fond memories of the Good Earth Restaurant that we used to go to in Goleta. They often served these dark sunflower seeded rolls, that were warm from the oven. Too bad they closed their doors for good. It certainly wasn't good for us to loose such a healthy restaurant. Anyhow, you will want to take your rings off before you work the dough! I couldn't think of how to incorporate my bread machine with this recipe, can you?

  1. Mix the 3/4 cup cornmeal with the 2 cups water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture with a whisk until it bubbles. Add the butter (I used coconut oil), molasses, and the remaining 1/2 cup cornmeal. Cook for another 2 minutes while stirring. Transfer to a plate to cool 15 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water (think baby bottle warm) in a separate vessel. In another large mixing bowl combine 2 3/4 cups white flour, the whole wheat flour, the salt, and all the seeds.

  3. Add the cornmeal mixture and the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir well with a sturdy spoon, or use a bread paddle with a mixer. Over mixing will affect the dough, so less is more. As soon as the dough forms one massive ball, transfer it to a floured work surface and knead it for 7 minutes, adding some or all of the 1/2 cup flour, if necessary.

  4. Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl, cover the bowl with a wet dish towel, and let dough rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in bulk, about an hour.

  5. Punch the dough down, and knead it in the bowl for one minute or so.Grease two 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf pans, or grease a cookie sheet for rolls. Either cut the it in two or several pieces for rolls. Form the dough gently and lay into or onto pans. Cover these with that damp dish towel previously used, and let rise again until they have almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

  6. preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake bread loaves for 45-55 minutes. The loaves will sound hollow and will be browned. Bake the rolls for 10-20 minutes, depending how big the rolls are. Stick tooth pick into center, it will come out clean if done and be nicely browned.

  7. Cool on a rack.

This bread freezes well, or keeps at room temperature, wrapped for 3 days. The weather just turned warm here, so I popped mine in the refridgerator.

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