Vegan Meal Plan Monday & the new garden!

Things are getting rather busy here at the Fish Household as our big move is fast approaching.  We will be leaving the Ile-de-France area and heading for the south-west in just a few short weeks, and that means so much planning and packing.  My computer time has been greatly reduced, but I want to try to get a few more posts in before it’s time to go. This is also probably one of my last weeks testing for Celine & Joni as the kitchen is slowly being packed into boxes…so this week is really dedicated to them!

Monday : Tarte à la tomate et à la moutarde (savory tomato and mustard pie) served with a big green salad.  This incredibly easy and quick recipe is a go-to solution when you need a quick dinner (or when your garden is just bursting with tomatoes).  Hoping I get the time to get the recipe up.

Tuesday : Patatas Bravas Frittata, a tester for Celine. Rather excited about this one.

Wednesday : Savory Cheesecake with quiche-like tendencies, also a tester.  Also served with a huge green salad.

Thursday : Hopefully left-overs, and also planning on baking some Scarborough Fair Buns (yes, a tester).

Friday : Crispy Pepperoni Bites, a mini-pizza-type of deal. I’ll be making this for the “lunch crew”, meaning Guppy and her friends as I have them every other Friday for lunch.

Saturday : Cheeseburger Deep-Dish Pie, also a tester.  I ‘m not sure if we’ll be able to wait until Saturday because this one just looks so good!

As I’ve mentioned at least a hundred times, I’m so excited about having a large yard (front and back) at our new house. I am going to be a gardening fool, planting everywhere and anywhere the sun will allow.  The new garden is rather shady, and I want to try to work with the trees that are there, though I know that in the long run some will need to be trimmed or cut.  It’s not just so that I can have a garden, but also because some of them are not at all native to the region and are very thirsty.

Here are a few shots of our new garden, not terribly clear as they were taking with Monsieur F’s phone on his trip down there earlier this month, but I’m so excited to share them with you!

Look! I have a green house! Picture little sprouts getting ready for the world…

One view…

This is to the left of the prior shot.

Yet again, to the left of the previous two.

I know it looks rather green, but it’s because Monsieur Fish took these right after a rainshower.  I haven’t got any of the side of the house, which is where I hope to put lots of veggies because it’s got sun exposure most of the day and is close to the outdoor water supply.

I’ve already found one or two good gardening/home gardner-type sites, but if you have any suggestions or favourites, do let me know! I’m so excited about growing my own food!

W.I.P. Wednesday : Knitting in the round, kinda.

Feeling a little knitting frustration this week, though I’m sure I’ll work my way through it. Going through the outdoor market last week I finally got my hands on a pair of circular knitting needles, and was all set to get to work on the beehive beanie. However, I need help! I am having one heck of a time trying to get these needles to work with me, or to learn to work with the needles.  This is one of  the many times in my knitting apprenticeship where I know the help of an experienced knitter would be so helpful.

Those of you familiar with circular needles may be nodding your heads with a knowing smile on your faces as I roll my eyes to the sky in frustration.  I can cast on my stitches with no problem, and joining in the round was no problem, either, but keeping my stitches from twisting seems a real problem, not to mention that things just don’t seem to be going very smoothly. Grr.

The good news is that I found this great video which taught me how to do a “long tail cast-on”.  It’s really clear and helped me so much, so I wanted to share it with you!

After casting on my stitches, I found myself completely perplexed when I actually tried knitting with these unruly things. After a few moments of frustration, I decided to try to find some help on using circular needles. This article helped me quite a bit as did this one with more ample photos (I’m such a visual learner!).  I’m not sure if I can describe it very well, but I keep ending up with more and more “play” (not a technical term!) with the yarn between the two needles (and no, I’m not losing stitches).

I’m guessing a bit more practice with these new needles will help me tame them, but if anyone out there has any advice, I’d sure love to hear it!

Do you have any new W.I.P.s in the works? We would love to see what you’re up to! Snap a shot of your  “in progress” masterpiece and add it to the  W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool. Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are working on.

W.I.P. Wednesday : The Mad Hatter

It’s all about the hats, kids.

As I mentioned here I really want to try to make this adorable beehive bonnet, but that would require some circular knitting needles and I haven’t got any.  I’m sure they aren’t very expensive, but the only mercantile in town that sells them has been closed for the past two weeks for renovation! The frustration!

In the mean time, I was able to find a super-duper easy pattern in my beginner’s book I showed you here that comes together really quickly and just needs to be grafted/sewn together. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

So far I’ve only made these two : a tiny one I just sort of improvised hoping to make a small-enough one for my toddler niece, and a smaller but not too small version for a skull cap for Guppy.  I know I’ve been pretty lucky, because futzing with a pattern when you have no idea what you’re doing is probably not the greatest idea.  I’m still hoping to snag me a pair of circular needles, but this is fun for now.

And guess what I learned to do today? I’m purling! The excitement! The joy!

Do you have any new W.I.P.s in the works? We would love to see what you’re up to! Snap a shot of your  “in progress” masterpiece and add it to the  W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool. Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are working on.

Vegan Meal Plan Monday & Cupcake Wednesday

I’m finding that I schedule too much food in my meal plans, so I’ve decided to make a little more room for left-overs.  This is a good thing, really, because I love left-overs! They mean that something is already delicious and tasty and waiting for me to eat it.

Monday : Left-over Eggplant Parmigiana, a test recipe for  Celine & Joni that I ended up finally making last night. So yummy. We’ll also be enjoying some roasted butternut squash.

Tuesday : Lemon Herb Coconut Tofu with Udon from 500 Vegan Recipes.

Wednesday : Left-overs.

Thursday : Baked Asparagus with Mushroom sauce (tester), served with a big green salad and veggie patties.

Friday : TBA. Saturday will be Guppy’s big birthday party she’ll be co-hosting with her friend. We’re expecting some 25 kids (because you can’t leave out little brothers and sisters) so I’ll be spending much of the afternoon preparing goodies for the fun. I’m not sure what’s going to happen dinner-wise yet, perhaps take-out?

Cupcake Wednesday mentioned last week was fun and here’s what I baked :

Buttery Vanilla cupcakes with speculoos icing.  The buttery flavour comes from the coconut milk I used, and the icing is just speculoos spread melted to liquid, and then the cupcakes are dipped a few times to get a nice, shiny coating. The speculoos spread is a relatively new find, but because it has a lot of oil in it it’s not something I buy very often. I would like to make my own, but I can’t find vegan speculoos cookies in my area.

Speculoos spread + baguette = yummy snack.

When Aparna mentioned she’d make some cupcakes on Twitter not so long ago, I found myself craving some, too. We decided to make cupcakes together on Cupcake Wednesday, just for fun.  It worked out just great as I had Guppy and her friends for lunch that day, and wanted to make them something fun for dessert.

So why speculoos icing? Simply put, buttercream frostings, or frostings in general don’t go over very big here in France.  Even most children find it too sweet/rich.  I would be happy to leave my cupcakes naked, but Guppy just loves sprinkles, and icing is the “glue”, right?  This was just perfect because it wasn’t too sweet, just a nice, think icing lending just the right amout of “hey, look at me, I’m frosting” without being too much. The kids just loved them!

Aparna also made some delicious looking cuppers and you should go take a look! I love that Twitter allowed us to “hang out” together making cupcakes, despite the thousands of kilometers that seperate us.

Vegan Meal Plan Monday – Potato Madness

Thanks for all your great meal plan suggestions last week.  I’ve passed them along to my sister, and I’m sure that other readers were thankful, too!

I’m not sure why, but I almost never, ever make mashed potatoes.  I guess we don’t really do a lot of startches other than pasta, but this week is indeed an exception as Guppy has been practically begging for them of late.

My child really does beg for vegetables.  In public.  Sunday as we were slowly walking through the outdoor market she suddenly pulled me over to a stand of fresh broccoli and looked up at me, pleading, “Oh please Mumma please can’t we get some broccoli? Pleeeeeze?” The vendor was giggling all over himself as I purchased the coveted greens which Guppy carried around the market like a bouquet.

Since we’ll be making mashed potatoes you can bet your boots I’ll be making a lot of them, because mashed potatoes means potato bread, and also the Samosa Quesdadillas  that  Trina posted not too long ago.  Potato madness kids, watch out – it’s catching!

Monday : Chickpea patties with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes, and for dessert left-over rhubarb crisp.

Tuesday : Your Vegan Mom’s Samosa Quesadilla and for dessert, Vegan Rhubarb Cake based on one of my Great Grandmother Mary’s recipes. If it works out I promise I’ll share.  I’m so excited about the rhubarb!

Wednesday : Pups in a blanket inspired by Vegan Lunch Box, with saucisses by Celine. I’ll also be making cupcakes, but I still haven’t decided which ones.  Aparna and I were Tweeting the other day and decided to make cupcakes together. But apart. You know, since she’s in India and I’m in France and all. I need some inspiration…any suggestions? They will be for Guppy and friends (and me, duh).

Thursday : Hummous & Friends In A Bowl. This Celine and Joni test recipe was on the plan last week, but I didn’t get to make it.

PB&J Muffins, so amazing good, test recipe for Celine & Joni.

Friday : Eggplant Parmigiana, another test recipe, and Potato Rosemary Bread from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. This is another one of those wonderful breads made accessible by master baker Peter Reinhart.

Looking for more Vegan Meal Plan inspiration? Go visit Your Vegan Mom and for GF vegan goodness visit In My Box. Please share you links if you post a Vegan Meal Plan so I can add you, too!

Vegan Rhubarb Crisp (with GF option) & My Rockwell-esque neighbourhood.

As a young child I was very lucky to live in an almost Norman Rockwell-esque neighbourhood.  Everyone knew everyone else, and folks did chat with one another while hanging their laundry on the line.  The neighbourhood was composed of almost exclusively blue and white-collar families, and most everyone had a picnic table, plastic kiddie pool and a swing set.  Indeed,  everyone seemed to either have young children tearing down the gravel alley on their bicycle, or older kids who would obligingly babysit the little ones for pocket-money.

Growing up, just about everyone in that neighbourhood had rhubarb growing in their gardens.  Even families who didn’t have a proper vegetable garden seemed to have a bushy showing of rhubarb in the corner of their yard.  Since fresh fruit seems to be the siren song all children heed, these acidulate stalks weren’t safe for long as our little group of “neighbourhood kids” always seemed to find our way into everyone’s yard, obeying an almost primal instinct to “help ourselves”, whether we’d been invited or not.

With the exception of an elderly neighbour or two who weren’t particularly keen on having a motley crew of 7 or 8 kids stomping their tulips or mussing their lawns, most families didn’t seem to mind our hostile take-overs, and in fact most of the time an adult would open the screen-door to turn on the garden hose to rinse off the fruit, armed with a tiny Tupperware container filled with sugar.

Sugar? Why yes, for dipping of course!

This was pretty much the only way I’d eaten rhubarb, raw and dipped in a little sugar, until I reached my teens when rhubarb cake and crisp made  it into the family’s dessert repertoire.  We’d since left that special neighbourhood in search of home to house our ever-expanding family, and with that came a much bigger back yard complete with a large vegetable garden and, you guessed it, a whole mess of rhubarb! All that fruit meant that simple munching on stalks wouldn’t be enough.

Crisps have always seemed so magical to me because of the elegant simplicity.  With just a few ingredients and mere moments of preparation you have a delightful, seasonal treat.  This basic recipe would make Mister Rogers proud with its whole wheat flour and reduced sugar, but it’s pretty lovely.  The aroma of the freshly sliced rhubarb brought all those memories back for me, so I’ll share a bit of crisp with you!

Vegan Rhubarb Crisp

Most any crisp recipe can easily be made vegan. Simply replace the butter with non-dairy butter.  Make this crisps gluten-free by using barley or oat flour (be sure to check that your oats and oat flour are GF).

For the filling :

  • 500g or 5 cups sliced rhubarb
  • 55g or 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine everything in a large bowl, stirring well to coat.  Set aside.

For the crisp :

  • 60g or 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 95g or 1 cup whole oats
  • 55g or 1/2 sucanat
  • 110g or 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Combine everything in a bowl, using your fingers until it resembles wet sand.  Pour the fruit mixture into a shallow baking dish, then sprinkle the crisp topping to evenly cover.  Bake at 175c or 350f for about 30 minutes (more depending on how thickly the rhubarb has been sliced).  Let cool completely and serve with vegan ice cream or whipped cream.

Fiber Arts Friday : My first scarf is done!

I’m happy to say that I was able to take advantage of a rather icky situation today and had the opportunity to finish my very first scarf.  I began working on this, my first real attempt at knitting, a few weeks ago, but never really had more than a few minutes to work on it.

Papa’s scarf, modeled by Guppy who is biting her lip to keep from laughing. Not at the scarf, just because I’ve wrapped her up like a baboucshka.

This is the most basic project there is I suppose : a scarf in point de mousse or knit stitch, but I feel really excited.  If I can do this, well, I do believe I can do other things.

Windycityvegan pointed me to this adorable beehive bonnet, and now I’m just yearning for circular needles so that I can make matching hats for Guppy, Monsieur Fish and I, because really, how crazy cute would we be then?

This is my first Fiber Arts Friday, a little something I stumbled upon over at Wisdom Begins In Wonder.  I do think that the term “fiber arts” is a bit extravagant for my little scarf (well, big, it’s over 2 meters as Monsier F didn’t wanted a custom job), but it’s fun to get my toes wet a bit with this knitting!

W.I.P. Wednesday Featured Projects

I’m feeling very “knitty” this week, and I’m happy to report that I’m nearly done knitting my first scarf!  Now that my vacation week is over I’ve got a little less time dedicated to the needles, but that’s not stopping me from gazing at these lovely submissions.  Feast your eyes on these beautiful Wipster Featured Projects chosen from the W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool!

WIP Wednesday: Textured Shawl

I love the detail in this lovely textured shawl by Kellarella

Ce Ce

Doesn’t that colour look gorgeous? Beautiful choice by Michelerene05

Knitting project

Doesn’t this look delicate? Such a lovely photo by Roots and Branches.

I so enjoy visiting the Flickr pool to see what everyone is up to, and it’s really a pleasure sharing these treasures with you.

Do you have any new W.I.P.s in the works? We would love to see what you’re up to! Snap a shot of your  “in progress” masterpiece and add it to the  W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool. Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are working on.

Vegan Meal Plan Monday – How do you plan?

I received an email from one of my sisters today asking for help in coming up with new weekly meals and eats as she also does a meal plan.  My suggestions were to:

a) Check out blogs with meal plans, or just visit food blogs in general.  Seeing and reading about something helps me decide if I’d like to try it or not.

b) Try a new food a week.  This often gives birth to new dishes to try, and new ways of cooking, too.  Be it a new vegetable, grain or fruit, trying something new (and hopefully seasonal) offers your body some nutritional variety and your tastebuds a bit of a night on the town.

c) Buy/borrow a new cookbook.  When I get a new cookbook it becomes serious reading material for me.  I devour it as if it were fine literature, pouring over the pages and reading the recipes in detail.  I find this to be a wonderful way to give new foods or preparations a try, keeping things from becoming boring.

Do you have any hints or tips to share?  I’d love to know how you decide what you’ll be eating each week.

Chorizo Lasagna* enjoyed a few plans ago…

I admit my meal planning has been pretty easy of late as I’ve been recipe-testing up a storm.  It’s so fun to head over to the testing site and decide what sounds good.  (As always, the Celine & Joni test recipes are followed by an *).

Monday : Brussels Sprouts Chestnut Pot Pie* and greens.

Tuesday : Falafel* served with Coriander Pita Bread*.

Wednesday : Peanutbutter Pretzels*, left-overs served with a side of greens.

Thursday : Hummus in a bowl* with homefries.

Friday : Pizza Night!

Weekend Eats : Homemade waffles, probably from VWAV.

Pesto Pizza with homemade vegan cheese*.  That red stuff would be hot sauce.

Monsieur Fish is heading to the new house this week to drop off a car-load of boxes, take care of administrative stuff, and hopefully he’ll snap a few pictures so I can share with you. I’m spending most of my “imagination time” dreaming about the garden, what I’ll be able to plant once we arrive, and what we’ll plant next year…

Looking for more Vegan Meal Plan inspiration? Go visit Your Vegan Mom and for GF vegan goodness visit In My Box.