Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I think of a potluck, I can’t begin to tell you the memories that flood my mind and fill me with a nostalgic sense of where I come from. As a child of the 70′s, I remember the basics: edible flowers in wooden bowls, and lacy patchouli scented tablecloths strewn with every type of home-grown sprout & fresh tofu or edible wild green. Circles of hands & the feeling of well-worked adult fingers wrapped around mine. Continue reading →
It stands true that there is nothing more powerful than a get together of like-minded souls. I was honored in the past week to play host to a group of people that are indeed, very special to me. They are special to me for their friendship, and they are special to me for their talents, energy, support, and most of all their desire to do something for the greater good. Continue reading →
Holla Bloggers! Welcome to this stop on the Virtual Vegan Potluck! For occasions like this, sometimes you’ve got to whip up something special. Enter one of my all time favorite special occasion recipes. There are many amazing versions of vegan loaf recipes out there, but this one is well, special.
This is a recipe I’ve been serving up in my house for years, and whether for Thanksgiving, Easter, or just an anytime awesome vegan meal, it always gets rave reviews. After all, what’s not to love when yummy ground cashews & hearty brown rice are mixed with herbs and spices and baked to perfection? Not a whole lot, I can tell you that for sure!
I must point out that I rarely use cashews this heavily, as they can get pricey, and while a vegan’s dream ingredient for those missing the creaminess of dairy, can still be heavy-ish on the pocketbook and tummy if not used in (relative) moderation.
But with today being a special occasion, what better time could there be to make something (just a little) less ordinary, and perhaps (just a little) more delicious than usual?
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
~ Mother Teresa
Less meat-based main courses means more veggie heaven for all. Fewer fats, lower cost, and better value means more nutrition for less output. Fewer steps in a recipe means anyone can do it, and when dinner tastes this good, really, everyone should.
More tasty filling dinner ideas means you can safely (and deliciously) feed anyone. More nuts and whole grains means more plant-based satisfaction. More simple to make sauces and healthy flavor add-ins means healthy food that is flavorful, so serving up plant-based becomes ritual.
Cashew Rice Loaf & Red Pepper Cheese Sauce:
~ Adapted From the Silver Hills Cookbook
(1/3) cup short grain brown rice
(1) cup water for cooking the rice
(1) tbsp olive oil
(1) small onion, finely chopped
(1) cup finely ground raw cashews
(1) cup breadcrumbs
(1) cup soy or nut milk
(2) tbsp fresh or dried parsley
(1) tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s
(1/2) tsp salt, or to taste
Olive oil for oiling the loaf pan
Start by combining the rice and cold water together in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, and turn down to simmer with the lid on for 35-40 minutes while you prepare all the other ingredients.
While the rice cooks, chop the onion finely and heat (1) tablespoon olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Saute the onion for 6-8 minutes until brown and fragrant. Once the onion is cooked, add it to a large mixing bowl that is ready and waiting to go.
In the mixing bowl, combine the cooling cooked onion with the remaining loaf ingredients. Once the rice is cooked, add it to the mixture while still warm, this will help it all to mix beautifully together. Mix everything well, and get in there with your hands to ensure it is all even.
After mixing, the mixture should be nice and moist, but not too dry. Feel free to add a few extra breadcrumbs if the mixture feels too wet, but in my experience the ratios here are perfect.
If you are subbing in gluten-free breadcrumbs, you may want to add a little more.
At this point once your loaf mixture is all mingling together, you can set the mixture aside for later and bake it when convenient.
To bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Transfer the cashew mixture to a well oiled standard loaf pan (or two smaller pans) and bake for 40 minutes, until the house is smelling wonderful and the loaf has browned on top.
Red Pepper Cheese Sauce:
(2) medium red bell peppers, seeded & chopped coarsely (you could use yellow or orange too for different color)
(1) cup cashews or cashew pieces (slightly more affordable)
(1.5) cups water
(1/4) cup olive oil
(1-1.5) tsp salt
(1) tbsp nutritional yeast
(1/4) tsp garlic powder or granulated garlic
(1/4) tsp black or white pepper
Combine all ingredients in your blender, and blend on high for at least a full minute, even longer (up to 2 minutes is good). This recipe is so easy and simple and doesn’t require any pre-soaking of nuts or roasting of peppers!
Once your mixture is well blended, transfer to a medium sauce pan and heat very gently on the stove. Cook this mixture over medium-low heat for 15 -20 minutes until heated throughout, and thick and bubbly. Make sure to stir frequently to keep the sauce from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Cooking the cashews gently thickens them while cooking the pepper and spices together. Of course, you could pre-roast the peppers, but I love the beauty and ease of this sauce – it can be whipped up in minutes spur of the moment!
Serve this for a special meal. Or serve it everyday. Turn it out onto a serving dish (wait for it to cool a minute) and garnish with fresh herbs and cooked greens.
It’s not only fabulous fresh out of the oven and smothered in gravy, but equally delicious thrown in the fridge to be enjoyed later. Crumble leftovers over green salads with tahini dressing, or add it to a vegetable saute with garlic & kale.
This dish is easy to make and always a hit for vegans and omnivores alike. Feel free to use different bread crumbs and play around with the herbs and vegetables too.
My favorite part about this recipe is it doesn’t need anything added, it’s perfect just the way it is!
It just needs good people around to eat it.
I think that could be arranged right?
Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right .
~ Henry Ford.
I think it’s safe to say that we all, at the end of the day, desire (and need) the same basic things.
Good food and good friends are just about the two best things in the world when put together, and I’m happy to have you all here to share all of this amazing food love with me!
Have you got a great vegan loaf recipe to share?
What’s your favorite special occasion meal?
Thanks for joining in today and do let us know…I am off to count the Halloween candy haul between two rain-soaked & excited eight year olds
Looking forward to perusing the fabulous offerings at the Potluck, and have a wickedly wonderful weekend everyone!
Welcome to all my regular IPOM readers and those joining us specially for the Virtual Vegan Potluck today! I hope you enjoy this stop on the journey through – there are some great contributions out there today so I hope you’ve got your printer ready…here goes!
There is an old saying that wheat is the staff of life. Have you heard this before?
I grew up enjoying home-baked bread, and neighborly potlucks featuring homemade pizzas with whole wheat dough.
Many comforting childhood memories come from pieces of warm fresh bread, and nothing satisfies the soul quite like it to this day, (maybe it’s the Virgo in me, that’s what my mom always told me).
I am so excited to present this wonderful recipe shared with me by my chef brother that can double as both pizza dough, and a ridiculously good focaccia.
Well done is better than well said.
~ Benjamin Franklin
Olives, Caramelized Onions, Rosemary, Olive Oil, and more Olive Oil.
Along with good bread, pizza is also a super staple in our house for successful vegetarian entertaining. It’s always great, no matter what you put on it.
So after years of outsourcing dough (to those wonderful delis who do it so expertly), I am so proud to say that yeast and I are now officially good buddies (it hasn’t always been that way).
So with that, let’s get started on this most amazing recipe that is sure to become an instant party or potluck favorite!
Less store-bought bread means less plastic and preservatives. Less bakery bought treats means you can make these treats for cheap. Less wondering whether you can do it means more champion-like confidence, so you can get going on pretty much anything, and what’s better than being a champion of action?
More confidence in the kitchen means knowing you can do just about anything. More ways to impress guests means more satisfaction from having them. More tasty fresh foods means less craving for taste and flavor elsewhere, and more yummy delicious recipes like this means you’ll always have lots to share
Caramelized Onion, Rosemary & Olive Focaccia:
~ makes two focaccias or 4 pizza doughs
(2 tsp) active dry yeast
(2 cups) warm water – about the temperature of a child’s bath
(3 tsp) sugar
(3) tsp salt
(4) cups flour all-purpose
(4 tbsp) olive oil
(1) medium yellow onion or(1/2) a large sweet onion, sliced lengthwise thinly
(1 tsp) salt
(1 tsp) sugar
(1 cup) of large black olives (Giant or Kalamata) – about 10 – 12
(2-3) sprigs fresh rosemary
plenty of olive oil (1/4-1/2 cup)
Ready to make bread? Yeah you are!
To get started, gather up all of your ingredients for the dough and commandeer your favorite large mixing bowl.
In the bowl, add 2 cups of warm water (not too hot, not too cold) to the bowl. Add the sugar and stir. Next, add the yeast, but do not stir. Let sit for 5 minutes or so.
After a few minutes, add half the flour and the salt to the mixture in the bowl (about 2 cups) and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is nice and smooth.
Next add the olive oil and mix until the mixture is a bit pasty. From here, you can go ahead and dump the rest of the flour into the bowl and mix – start with a wooden spoon and then switch to the hands – it’s so much fun!
My brother says to mix this until it ‘pulls from the bowl’. This seems to work well, and I mix this way until it seems ready to come out and be kneaded on the counter.
Once the dough is ‘pulling from the bowl’, remove it and set on the counter to prepare for kneading.
To knead, dust the counter with a sprinkling of flour and knead…this to inject the dough with air – and truthfully I have never enjoyed this process, or really applied myself to it either – but I am actually learning to love this part!
Just set the CD player to your favorite new dance CD and watch the time fly by…
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until you have a lovely round ball of dough.
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
~ Edmund Burke
Set your dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl (feel free to wash and oil the same bowl you mixed in). Cover with a clean tea towel and set in a warm place to rise.
Hint: I turn the oven on and set on to heat up top of, or right beside the stove. It seems no matter how nicely you talk to the yeast, it will not rise unless it is in a warm place (go figure!)
It has risen!
Let the dough rise for about 1 – 1.5 hours, until you have a nice little rise happening (you will know!).
Now for the best part.
Remove the tea towel and punch the dough down with your fist to release the air. Your dough will pop and fall in a beautiful fashion, and it is now ready to settle in for a bit while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
Remove the dough from the bowl and re-shape on the counter or cutting board. Cut the dough in half. Ideally, let sit for 30 minutes before using. Any leftover dough not being used immediately can be frozen or refrigerated for future use, and I find it super handy to have some dough to bake off during the week for unexpected guests, or just for kids
So. Very. Awesome.
The Onions, Olives, and Rosemary:
While you wait for the dough to rise, you can prepare the magical part of this recipe - the tasty toppings.
Slice your onion in long thin strips and heat a large skillet to medium-high. Add a nice splash of olive oil to the skillet and add the onion, salt, and sugar. On medium to medium high heat, cook the onion for 25 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. By slow cooking the onions in the sugar and salt, they will get brown, sticky, and heavenly. Just be sure to stir often. Once ready, remove from heat and let cool.
Pit and half the olives and set aside. Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and chop with a knife finely.
When ready to assemble the focaccia for baking, start by heating the oven to 400 degrees. Oil generously a large flat rectangular baking tray (or two if you are cooking them both off).
Oil your hands a little and stretch the room temperature dough to fit the length of your tray – this should be easy and the dough should keep it’s shape when pulled. If you need some help, you can keep a little bowl of flour to the side and use a little help this process.
Once you have your shape, add the olives, then the onions, and finally the rosemary. Finish this off with a generous pour of olive oil across the entire surface of the bread (don’t be shy!).
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until the sides are golden and the smell is heaven in the kitchen. Let cool and slice as desired!
Keep this stored at room temperature wrapped in foil, it’s great warmed up a bit in the oven the day after
Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread. Without it, it’s flat.
~ Carmen McRae
Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
~ Nelson Mandela
This bread is stunning on its own, or served with a light dip, or alongside a salad, or really, anything!
It’s so tasty.
Honestly, it’s got all my favorite things. And the best part is I can now make it myself (and so can you!).
I hope you’ll enjoy this whether you are already great friends with making bread and dough or not!
This recipe can be altered in so many ways to suit your mood.
Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.
~ Richard Wright
Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.
~ Ella Williams
So, whether you are a seasoned dough expert, a newbie, or an ‘outsourcer’ like I’ve been, I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we did this week.
I think I’ve discovered the secret of life — you just hang around until you get used to it.
Sam James Coffee Bar on Harbord. A seriously ‘Less is More’ aesthetic and killer coffee.
Travel is always an adventure, right?
While it may have been work travel, it’s still pretty sweet to get out and enjoy a new city when the opportunity presents itself, especially when it’s a gem like Toronto.
I grew up visiting family in this city (I have always been a West Coast girl) and have many fond memories of it.
Toronto is where I got my ears pierced (behind my parents backs), where I first rode public transit on my own, and where the many colorful stories of my immediate family history originated (of which there are so, so many).
Turns out it’s still a pretty cool place. It may not have the hills, the ocean, and the ozonated air like home does (how many great cities actually do?), but it’s got its charms.
Sam James sidewalk.
Having visited a lot of coffee shops in my life (what can I say – it’s my job!), Toronto has a little something special going on as far as the local coffee scene.
Add to that the bustling, gritty charm of Kensington Market, the gorgeous grounds of the University of Toronto, and the many great restaurants that pop up out of no where, and downtown is not a bad place to traipse around.
Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.
~Frederick B. Wilcox
Sitting pretty at Kensington Market.
IPOM is certainly not a travel blog, but it is a place to celebrate the little things, and traveling is a bit of treat (IMO), whether work related or not (unless it isn’t).
Here are just a few of the moments I snuck in between more serious tasks.
Thanks for joining me, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
As always, I am a total nerd for market style food shots. Lettuce and live herbs outside the convenience store on College Street? Why not?
If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.
The same goes for these apples, proving there is always a healthy alternative within reach in big cities.
It’s not Whole Foods, but it might just be as good (or maybe better).
A stroll through Kensington yielded a visit to a very inspiring and beautiful store called Good Egg.
I could have spent a week in there looking at food, cooking, and agriculture (the list goes on) books, drooling over their refined selection of kitchen stuff, and generally trying to memorize everything about it so I could open my own here at home. I am always dreaming.
Listen to the color of your dreams.
~ The Beatles
Seriously. I was so, totally in love.
I’ve said before that grocery stores are my happy place.
Well, I’d like to take that a step further and say that outdoor vegetable markets are my ultra happy place!
Baskets of gorgeous, bright fruits and vegetables are always a feast for the eyes and this stall at Kensington Market was no exception.
My husband thinks I am downright nuts on account of this (always has). I maintain that’s just a part of my charm.
Cruising the University (cutting through from Yorkville to Little Italy) – I got a nice hit of charm from the gorgeous buildings and green everywhere. All these years I’d never seen this.
It was gorgeous, and a breath of fresh air in the middle of town.
Artisans are everywhere in this city, from behind the espresso machine, to behind the roaster, to behind the glass windows of the local flower shop.
I am a sucker for roses, especially this antique pink. This lovely arrangement stopped my breath at a little shop called Jaiden’s Petals on Ossington, I loved the sparse interior and the taste of the flower selection and merchandising in there.
Just looking at the seats made me happy. Imagine once I sat down
We also visited Te Aro, a new roaster from New Zealand doing superb things with coffee here in Canada.
I was so inspired there I bought myself a Chemex coffee maker and risked the trip home in my luggage (not that I couldn’t have picked one up here at home). It totally made it unscathed – and I am now on the hunt for the right filter (thinking of the Coava cone) and a new grinder (considering a hand grinder for this).
Visiting the Junction, we headed to Crema Coffee, and a stop at a little shop getting a tremendous amount of buzz from locals and folks here at home – Mjolk - I’ll let you discover them here – is a pretty amazing store.
Honestly, I wasn’t feeling rich enough to afford anything in there (and if I could have would not have risked trying to get it home unbroken), but it’s worth checking out if you are at all interested. These guys have a totally cool blog too, that is super styley and worth a look at if you are inclined!
Of course looking at these gorgeous wooden cups now, I am kind of wishing I brought one home after all. At least they have an online store!
The street art is pretty prevalent, and I love the bright vibes and loose feel to this. Kinda makes you want to dance in the streets a little!
Dance is the hidden language of the soul.
- Martha Graham
Me and my buddy dressed identically.
Imagine us looking each other up and down at 8 in the morning. Ridiculous.
There were a lot of super fun highlights. Great dinners with great company at Delux and Gusto, and proof that I am not the only vegetable nerd around that loves a good raw kale salad and shaved brussels sprouts with vinaigrette.
My fave moment of all?
Training for Paris, of course!
Returning home has been fabulous, and the weekend was spent enjoying the pleasures and comforts of home, complete with plenty of time in the kitchen
On that note – I’m going to leave you with an invitation to a little party coming up!
Annie over at an unrefined vegan has completely blown me away by arranging a blogging feast for this coming Saturday, May 12th.
Many of you are attending, but for those who wish to join us for the feast, there will be 60 bloggers taking part with 60 vegan dishes prepared just for the party – not all of the bloggers are strict vegans (including yours truly) but the deal is the dish for this little shindig has to be.
So watch for it! I am looking forward to it and am super excited to see what everyone has in store (and I am pretty excited to share mine!).
Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?
~ Frank Scully
So thanks to Annie for her amazing effort in putting this all together, and to all the blogging buds far and wide taking part!
Here’s wishing you alla super fab Monday!
Welcome to all the new IPOM readers this week, I am so happy to have you here, and I hope you’ll join us in the conversation too!
Are you a potluck fan?
What’s your favorite potluck dish?
Anyone out there from Toronto (I know a few of you are!)
Anyone make the kale salad over the weekend?
Let us know how you all are doing!
Your comments are always welcome here with open arms.
Welcome! What is In Pursuit Of More? The blog about living with (just a little) less. By going without, we can gain - by giving to those who have less. Want to make a change in your eating habits for the better? Imagine how you can turn that into something positive for those who would otherwise go hungry. Go without so others don't have to. That's living with (just a little) less.