Friday, September 28, 2012

Tofu Sour Cream // Cr-eat-e. Eat. Create.

Having to look at this bright screen with only one eye open. It's 5:30 a.m. My poor eyes. Left one refuses to open. Right one tries to look away.

Megan screamed for what felt like hours last night. I don't know what happened.

When did I fall asleep?

Did she crawl up into bed with me by herself? Probably why my eyes burn. Maybe I could type with both eyes shut. Pretty good.

Amber came over yesterday. Love Amber. Ha! My right eye opened!

We cooked for a few hours. Talked about cheese. It's hard to replace Italian cheese in Italian recipes. Pizza, Lasagna.

What do you use? Please tell me.

I gave her the Italian pizza cheese recipe.

We both just want to hear our family say, "Mmmmmm, this is so good, Mom!" That's not been happening as much since going plant based. Foods are just not as rich. Butter, cream, sugar, oil. Loads of cheese. Heavy stuff.

Made Cauliflower Bechamel. It didn't turn out right.

You see, there are two ways of cooking.

Amber and I happen to cook differently.

She uses exactness in following a recipe to guarantee it's success. Well, my Bechamel notes in the book were not exact, she followed them, and it didn't turn out right.

I can't remember the last time I followed a recipe with exactness. The rebel in me has to change it. Make it different. Add something. Is this art? Maybe?

So I am going to revisit Cauliflower Bechamel. The problem is, each head of cauliflower is a different size. Paul suggested I weigh the Cauliflower and then record every item I add with exactness according to the specific weight of the cauliflower used. Good idea. Paul is a man of exactness, too.

That could ensure it's success. The Italian flavors are supposed to POP. Basil, garlic, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, red pepper flakes. Take you to Italy. Feel like you are sitting and eating a dairy sauce at Olive Garden. THAT is what it is supposed to taste like.

Take Samuel with me to drop off Essie at school today. He needs individual attention after being so completely ignored yesterday. Sometimes I resent my kitchen for that. Robbing me of my time with my little boy. But then when I don't do it? We don't eat.

I didn't eat. Any dinner yesterday. The need for sleep overcame me and I couldn't stand to stay awake any longer. On my feet. My body gave out. Quit. Refused to move another inch.

I never knew Megan would keep me awake so late. Midnight. And then my body. Despite it's still being tired, INSISTS on waking up at 5 a.m.

To write.

This is when my thoughts flow. Sometimes the thoughts are not mine. But feel like water being poured into my mind, filling it up, softening the hunger for knowledge. Wisdom. Guidance. Does this happen to you? Do you wake with answers in your head?

I wonder what Caulfilower Bechamel sauce would taste like if I blended it with the Italian pizza cheese. I bet it would work! Two separate recipes. Amber said she doesn't make it if it requires two separate recipes. Hmph. Amber! I am going to try it anyway.

Maybe I will go back to sleep.

I have been thinking so much about these words:

See/watch/read the whole talk, here.

It is my all time favorite.

Feel inspired?

I hope you create something today.




P.S. I am still working on my recipe index. May take me a while. But I think it will be helpful.


For Amber:

Link for the "Tuna Sandwiches."

Link for Dreena Burton's Plant Powered Lunches for Vegan Kids (AWESOME!)

I will add this link to my links tab above.

&, finally, I think this will work for your green chile dip. According to Janae, it's about using the extra firm tofu. Not silken.

I thought the texture was perfect. The cream really adds to mexican dishes, especially. Let it firm up in the fridge. Yum.

Tofu Sour Cream
Directly from Janae Wise' Website, Bring Joy


1/4 block of 14 oz. extra firm tofu (I used "lite" tofu)
1/4 c. cashews
1/4 c. water
juice of one lemon
2 large pinches sea salt
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or 3 pinches evaporated cane juice
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (optional)


Soak cashews in water for 30 minutes or more. This step is optional. Soaking nuts makes them easier to digest, & easier to blend.
Blend all ingredients.
For best taste, refridgerate for 1 hour or more, before serving.
Keeps for 2 days in fridge.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Don't Ever Take Yourself Seriously // Chocolate Chip Cookies (GF, Oil Free) // Tamale Pie Casserole

I think Essie is my best friend. Girl friend that is. She is so fun. Intelligent. Nice to talk to. Sane. She doesn't crawl all over shopping carts at Whole Foods Market. She laughs long and hard, like me. She is pretty.

We do homework together. Love to read together. Talk girl stuff. I can see us shoe shopping together in the very near future. This girl's got style.

I don't even want to write about my day. Gosh. What a hard day. Will I depress you? Probably. But then I have a funny joke to tell. At least, it made ME laugh!

Do I even need to tell you how hard it is to go to a grocery store in the afternoon with three children? During peak hours?! It was foolish. I know better. But I love being home. So I wait. I wait until Essie is done with school. No. I was late to pick her up from school. By 20 minutes. Can you believe how irresponsible?

All because I wait until the last minute to get myself and the kids into the van. Only to discover that Megan is dirty. Stripped all her clothes off. Samuel has no shoes. They are hungry again and want a snack. We're driving a different car because Paul needed the van today, so everything is in the wrong spots. Late.

And at the park. Samuel the jumping bean.

At a children's park there is a homeless man, inebriated, sleeping in a blue sleeping bag.

Blue sleeping bag + Samuel the jumping bean. Fill in the blanks. Boy did Samuel get a surprise when the sleeping bag sat up!

Still cracks me up.

Driving home after losing my sanity somewhere in the middle of Whole Foods Market. Probably the pasta aisle. But there was no gas in the car. Warning light bing, bing, binging me. Almost as bad as, "Samuel, get in your car seat. Samuel, if I have to ask you to get buckled in one more time, I am going to pull over. Samuel. Are you buckled?"

Maybe if I turn the radio on, I can calm myself down.

Memories flood my mind. Clark playing the guitar. My singing. Clark singing. We blend. We sound good. We've been such good friends since the day he was born. We both feel things, love music. Love singing. Guitars. "Ashlee, did you know you have the most beautiful singing voice?" Thank you, Clark! Love you, bro.

I won't give up.

Look at blogs on internet when I get home. What pretty blogs. Perfect pictures. Expensive props. Must take them forever to stage these photos. I can't compete. Won't.

Desperately searched for a chocolate recipe.

So I could eat my feelings.

And found it.

I don't want to tell you how many times I ate my feelings.

It was They were yummy.

I eat my feelings. My kids eat...

Raw pumpkin?

They are just a little excited that it's autumn.

Went outside to take pictures of myself, and ended up laughing my guts out. Busting at the seams.

In my head?

Look! I'm perfect!

Look at me, me, me! I have a perfect life!

Tears streaming down my face as I realize that it is a VERY good thing I live in the mountains, or my should-be neighbors would be wondering what insane, crazy lady was outside laughing uncontrollably.

And I was reminded.

No matter how hard my day is. No matter how wound up I get.

Don't EVER take yourself seriously, Ashlee.

Better get in a full body shot of this perfect me in my perfect life.

Well, that's about as close to full body as we get around here.

LOVE my kids. Wrestle with them. Read them books. Prayers. Tuck them in bed.

Accidentally fell asleep too early. Left the kitchen a mess. Woke up at 12:45 a.m. and cleaned it in 15 minutes. What an easy time to clean the kitchen. I felt so rested, and not a single interruption.

No wonder my Mom used to clean her kitchen in the middle of the night when I was growing up. I would always hear pots and pans, dishes, banging and clanging together at odd times of the night.

Listened to this song at 1:33 a.m.

Reminds me of my cousin Preston. He would love this kind of music. I miss Preston.

According to Mamma Pea, I am out of date.

I wonder if what I see on this computer screen is EVER reality?

At least, these cookies were a reality.

And this Tamale Pie.

A big day begs for an easy dinner.

Post which recipe? How about both. In the same post?

Sure. Why not.

If you ever need to eat your feelings. And feel good about it.

Whenever you have a hard day.

Make sure you get a bunch of healthy cookies, an easy dinner, and lots of really good music.

Always the music.


LOTS of hugs today.



Flourless Chocolate-Chip Cookies
Modified from CCK



Made (Oil-free!) by me. Great texture. You won't miss the oil.

I doubled the recipe. I had a lot of feelings.


3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp brown sugar or coconut sugar (don’t sub with white!)
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp white sugar or evaporated cane juice (I omit when making for myself, but most of my friends like the cookies much better when this is not omittted.)
2 tbsp chocolate chips
1 tbsp oil or pre-melted margarine, or 1 heaping tablespoon almond butter
1-2 tbsp milk of choice (start with 1)


Blend first 5 ingredients together in a food processor or blender. (I use a Magic Bullet.) Mix with other ingredients, form into cookie shapes, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cook 6 (8-9 if oil free) minutes at 375 F. Also, if oil free they need to be allowed about 5-7 minutes to cool on the baking sheet to set up.

The hardest part is waiting six whole stinkin' minutes until you get to eat these!


Ashlee's Mexican Tamale Casserole
Modified to be large family friendly and oil free, from CCK

(makes one 13X9 pan)

2 cans (15oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted with green chiles)
2 zucchini, cut into tiny pieces
1 can (15oz) corn, drained (or 1 3/4 cup fresh or frozen)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp cumin, heaping
2 tsp each: onion and garlic powder
1 tsp salt, heaping

Directions for base:

Combine beans, vegetables, and spices in a 13X9 glass baking pan. Set aside.

For the Topping (oil free!)

[UPDATE: 10/4/2012] FASTER VERSION for topping:


1 Tube pre-made polenta, opened and shredded with cheese grater
1 cup Simple Cheese Sauce
1/8 tsp. salt


In a bowl, toss to combine all ingredients. Spread evenly over pinto bean and vegetable filling. Bake, uncovered, in the oven at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

OR use (you could also bake this in a pan separately and have it as a side dish):

Lite and Tender Cornbread:

Modified from Neva Brackett's "Seven Secrets Cookbook."

3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp spelt flour (use GF all purpose flour for GF version, I haven't tried this, but I am pretty sure it would work)
1/2 tsp salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can, use mostly the separated cream, the fatty stuff)
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons water or as needed

Directions for cornbread topping:

1.) Mix together in a mixing bowl all of the dry ingredients.

2.) Stir together the coconut milk, applesauce, and honey in measuring cup. Add water as needed to make 1 full cup of mixture.

3.) Combine wet and dry ingredients, stirring briskly until smooth.

Directions for the Casserole:

Spoon and evenly distribute cornbread mixture over the top of your bean mixture base. Bake, uncovered, in the oven at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Test for done-ness (no gooey stuff in the middle).

Optional: For kids, top half the casserole with Daiya cheese the last 5 minutes of baking.

Serving option: drizzle with honey. Very much technically NOT a vegan food.

If you prefer, you can even make this in a crockpot!)


Yesterday I ate:

Fruit salad.

Oatmeal. Sweetened with a drop of maple syrup and stevia. For brekky.

Snackimals crackers. I blame my kids for making me buy them at Whole Foods.

A banana.

Leftover Salad and Thai Chickpea Almond Curry from yesterday.

A LOT of feelings (i.e. cookies). Please don't make me mention numbers here. With cold Almond milk.

Tamale Pie. There should have been a salad here. I gave it to Paul.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thai Chickpea Almond Curry

I woke up so happy this morning. Children's songs were playing in my head. There is so much promise for the day.

We've shared some children's church magazines with our neighbor down the street. She is reading them with her daughter, and loving them. I am thrilled! Oh, we've talked about Tracy before. She wants her daughter to grow up with some religious standards. So I gave her the magazines. Sharing happiness. Getting it back ten fold. Watching them enjoy the light of Christ.

I don't have to rush anywhere, I don't have to run around like I did yesterday. I may even get some exercise. I am just so excited for this beautiful day. Have you ever had a morning like that?

Taking care of Alana was a bit more of a challenge yesterday. Some of the "baby reality" settling in, I think. Dirty diapers, spit up. LOTS of feedings (her Mom pumps so I can bottle feed). You don't need to see any pictures of those things. And just the gear it takes for one little person? Sheesh!

I can see how Mommies of small babies can get burned out. Babies aren't so hard for 4-5 hours at a time, but they are exhausting if you have them 24/7!

Somehow I still found (carved out, scraped, battled for...) time to make a really good dinner. One of my new favorites.

A few exotic ingredients, but if you just take yourself to Whole Foods Market, or, or maybe even Sunflower Market (Sprouts)? You'll find everything there you need in the Asian food aisle.

My brain usually shuts down when I see too many foreign ingredients in a recipe.

But this one is worth it. My kids eat it. Mommy of Alana loved it. And she doesn't like chickpeas.

Yesterday I ate:

1.) A banana for breakfast (I was in a really big hurry to get out the door for my haircut)

2.) Veg soup and a Pure Bar for lunch (is Gluten Free, Raw, Vegan, and they taste like real brownies!)

3.) Strawberries and Cream for a snack, with my kids

4.) Massive plate of salad with mixed greens (over twice as much pictured below). Topped with an 8 chopped veggie mix and some really good dressing: Citrus Tahini Dressing. (from the same cookbook listed below, I highly recommend this dressing. I replace the 1 tablespoon of oil with 2-3 tablespoons of water. The dressing is very thick because of the tahini, and has no need for oil. Delicious. Even Samuel loved it with his salad.)

5.) Thai Chickpea Almond Curry over Jasmine Brown Rice

P.S. I finally got the video of Alana uploaded! Check it out.

Thai Chickpea Almond Curry
From Dreena Burton's, "Let Them Eat Vegan!"

Note from Ashlee: I highly recommend serving this with Jasmine Brown Rice. The texture is totally different from regular brown rice, and SOOO delicious.

Note from Dreena: While this bakes, you will be enchanted with the aromatic mingling of nutty coconut sauce infused with lime, ginger, and curry. It is a deeply flavorful dish that is also almost effortless in preparation. Everything comes together lickety-split and you have an exotic bean entrée to serve over rice.

Serves: 4 to 5, depending on accompaniments


1 medium to large clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt (plus another few pinches, if desired)
2½ to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 (14-ounce) can “lite” coconut milk
¼ cup almond butter
½ tablespoon tamari
1½ tablespoons peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger
1½ to 2 teaspoons red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)(I used 2 heaping tsp.)
⅛ to ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
(optional; or use more if you like the heat!)

Chickpea mixture:

2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed (3¾ to 4 cups)
2 cups zucchini that has been halved or quartered
lengthwise (depending on thickness) and sliced about
¼ inch thick (see note)
¾ cup green onion (mostly white bottom portion,
but some green as well)
2 dried or fresh kaffir lime leaves (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Thai basil, basil,
or cilantro, for garnish (optional)
A few lime wedges, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

First prepare the sauce: In a blender, or using a deep large cup and an immersion blender, combine the garlic, ½ teaspoon of the salt, lime juice, coconut milk, almond butter, tamari, ginger, and curry paste. Puree well. Pour the sauce into a baking dish (8 by 12-inch, or similar size) and stir in the red pepper flakes. Add the chickpeas, zucchini, green onions, and lime leaves (if using), and stir well.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Then remove the foil, stir, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes uncovered. (Note that the sauce should thicken but can become too thick, so keep an eye on it, and remove once it begins to thicken, so it is does not become pasty.)

Add a few pinches of salt to taste, if desired.

Serve, topping the portions with fresh herbs, if desired, and with a lime wedge on the side.

Variations: Almond butter is my first choice in this recipe, but consider switching it up occasionally with natural peanut or cashew butter in place of the almond.
Feel free to substitute other veggies in part or in whole for the zucchini. I love zucchini, so it is a natural choice for me. Other veggies to consider are sliced red peppers (and these add a lovely color), chopped cauliflower, steamed potatoes, or snow peas. (I have tried adding snow peas, as well as additional zucchini, and it tasted fabulous!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Little Lights & Vegetable Soup

Someday I'll take care of myself. Maybe not today.

When Paul is worried about stuff, he can't sleep. He's got stuff to worry about. He woke me up in the middle of the night, asking me if I was okay. What a funny question. I love sleeping. Of course I am okay. Are you?

I wonder why Megan doesn't sleep with any covers on. She looks cold. Her legs peek out from underneath her cotton pants. It worries me, especially with winter coming.

I have the most odd spider bite on my side. Sometimes that happens out here in the mountains. It's not very comforting. Some spider's been crawling on you in your sleep.

I'm so shaky and jittery in the morning. My hands are not very steady. Maybe my body is still waking up. Maybe it's dehydrated. I should probably drink some water. Not right now.

I am getting my hair cut today.

I put oil in some of our food for dinner. It totally wasn't even worth it. No, it didn't even taste better. The kids didn't even like it. I won't be making that recipe again.

I need to go clean my kitchen. What relentless work. I am relentlessly cleaning my kitchen. That sounds very repetitive. Not very fun to read. Oh, well. My brain thought it.

Essie didn't finish her homework yesterday. But it was totally worth it. I am such a kid still. I don't like homework, and sometimes that rubs off on Essie. But we had fun.

This was our fun.

Alana is like a little light.

A glowing light we held in our hands, talked and cooed with. It was like holding a piece of heaven.

I wish she were mine.

Mother's aren't supposed to want more children. Squelching.

So many little hands want to touch. My children love this baby. But she is beautiful. She talks so much it makes me giggle. Do you want to hear me giggle?

Push play.

We get to have Alana today, too. I could have her every day. I know it wouldn't be right. She needs her Mommy. But I miss that light she brings into my home. My heart. It is tangible, almost. I never felt so much peace.

Did you know that it rained last night? I wish I could take a picture of the smell of rain for you. Take a big, long, drinking breath. You can smell it. Pine needles. Fresh rain. Wet earth. God is awake.

I get nervous about hair cuts. Petty little salons where girls walk around so made over they aren't even human anymore. No, I shouldn't say that. But they are so hard to talk to. Relate to. They are Moms too, I guess. Sometimes I am able to penetrate their marble shell. Sometimes they open up and tell me what is really going on in their hearts. Usually it is pain.

I have a lot of errands to run after my haircut. I don't like running around with freshly cut hair. It always feels wrong after someone else styles my hair.

That doesn't matter.

My blender is broken. Take that back to Costco. No yogurt yesterday at Trader Joe's. Check again today. If only I weren't so dependent on their delicious yogurt. Baking. Kids. No, don't bake your kids. That's not even funny!

Blatant questions from a woman at Trader Joe's. "Are these ALL your children?" Oh, no. Am I about to get it. "Yes." And then in a Dang, Girl! voice, "You look incredible!" I smiled too big. It showed. My excitement showed.

How do I even fit this recipe into this post?

It powered me yesterday. It powered Paul. Helped us survive when all the kids and I could think about was baby Alana. Did you know she is my namesake?

Her name is Alana Ashlee. I am still in disbelief about that. But when I let it sink in, it makes me giddy.

That didn't fit the recipe in very well.

But when you want to veg up.

When your feeling kinda' heavy. I suggest a good vegetable soup like this one. I wouldn't have been as happy yesterday without it.



I should cook more out of this cookbook. It always makes me feel so healthy and energetic. Yes, I will cook more from this book.

Vegetable Soup
Modified from Mary McDougall's New Cookbook.

But you can shake it up however you want, and add whatever veg is in your fridge. I do did.


1/4 cup water
1 large onion, chopped
1-3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
1 cup cut celery
One 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
2 quarts of water (if cooking on stovetop) (if using pressure cooker, 1 quart water)
2 tsp vegetable chicken-like base concentrate (totally optional, just adds flavor)
1 cup (about 4) coined carrots
2 cups coined zucchini (last time I used butternut squash, didn't have zucch.)
2 cups shredded cabbage
2-3 cups quartered and thinly sliced potatoes (I like gold potatoes, leave skins on)
1-2 cans beans (garbanzo and black are my favorite)
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp basil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup green beans (I left these out)
1 package frozen, chopped spinach, or 3 large handfuls of chopped, fresh spinach


Place the 1/4 cup water in a large soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, and celery. Cook, stirring, over medium high heat for five minutes.

Add the carrot, zucchini (or butternut squash), potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, spices and beans. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. You can add cooked pasta at this point, if you want. I don't.

Add the frozen vegetables (if using fresh spinach, wait to add until next step). Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Stir in the fresh, chopped spinach.

Or if you are like me, throw it all in an electric pressure cooker, on high, for 8 minutes, and then eat about two massive bowls of it. Yummy. Filling.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Unvarnished Me

I've had a lot of anxiety lately, ya know?

About you.

I've changed the way that I write and speak. I may have scared you off.

If you don't know (of course you don't, I haven't told you!) I have gone through a bit of writer's discovery.

It started when I realized that blogging was getting hard for me -- very stressful. I wasn't enjoying the whole process because a lot of it was forced, and my voice was only an echo of other voices.

I read a few posts by pro bloggers who had good writing advice. Mostly, they said you should do it only if you love it. I wasn't loving it.

You see, I was trying to sit down at my computer every day and come up with something cute and entertaining, or funny.

What I was removing from the equation, an essential piece, was me. Who I really am. My thoughts, and how I really feel.

But this totally random post was the first time I really opened up and shared exactly what was going on inside my head. I panicked. After half of a day, I unpublished it because I felt vulnerable. And it was different than anything I had published before. After some encouragement, I republished it, and it is mentioned on today's Marvelous Monday's post on Janae Wise's blog, Bring Joy.

I can't tell you how difficult it is to start really sharing who I am. Allowing myself to be vulnerable. It has changed my whole perspective on life. And just like I mentioned in this post, I have started to really feel my heart.

Hard at first. Now I love it.

Writing has started to flow like water.

I want to continue posting my absolute favorite recipes.

I love being a plant-based whole foodist, and the best part about it is sharing it with other people. But my voice is going to be a little bit different. I want to share with you exactly what is going on, how I feel, what my family is up to, and the foods we are enjoying. No facades, nothing pretended. You are going to get the unvarnished me.

I am going to put my best foot forward.

To keep it positive.

Keep it pretty.

But also open, and honest. From my heart.

In general, I am a very happy person. Especially when I take the gag out of my mouth and let myself truly speak. I want to share my joy and zest for life, with you.

So I want to thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for sticking it out with me while I am trying to find my voice. You really have no idea how much it means to me to be able to share recipes, our favorites, with you.

As I have mentioned before, it turns my lonely little kitchen into a friendship. And you help me work to create the best recipes by your honest feedback.

That's all I wanted to say for now, because I can hear my children laughing and screaming in delight out on our trampoline. I don't want to miss it.



Saturday, September 22, 2012

I Don't Like The Rules

I've just started feeling. For first time in, well, YEARS. It's the writing. The writing that says be vulnerable, share who you really are. Speak. From your own voice.

Do you know what the rules say? Be quiet. Blend in. Sound like everyone else. I don't like the rules. I only like God's rules. Because they are real.

Man's rules? Are restrictive. Everywhere I go there are unwritten rules about how I am supposed to look. What I am supposed to say.

Do you know what it's like to start feeling your feelings? It hurts at first. You might cry. I did.

But right now you know what it feels like to live everything forced. Force yourself to get out of bed in the morning. Force yourself to go to church every Sunday. Why not just be? Why not just go to church the way you are, instead of the way everyone else says you should be? Why not go to church the way God wants you to go?

Or school.

Or work.

Is it forced? Do you spend every day squelching what you really feel, and who you really are? Don't. Please stop.

Instead, write. Please write. And read. Read books that make you feel. Eat food that makes you sing. Throw away the junk. Pig out on veggies because it feels awesome. Yeah, I used the word AWESOME.

If your gut and your mind are screaming at you to feel one way, but man's rules step in front of you and tell you to halt. Tell those rules to take a flying leap.

Make a freaking vegetable soup when you want it. Eat five, no, SIX bowls of it. Eat salad. Let yourself eat it every single day, even if it does take more work than an old pb&j. Let yourself have needs. And really listen to them.

Listen to your body. Listen to what it is saying. Start feeling. Even if it takes writing. And feed your kids when they are hungry, too. I'm just sayin'. The rules are too tight. They hurt, and they squeeze. Step out of it, and do it God's way. And the way you feel.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Total Randomness at 6:00 a.m.

Today is Thursday.

If I stay in this house all day I might go mad. I could go to the park with Megan and Samuel.

I get more money deposited into my bank account tomorrow. Then I can buy groceries. LOTS of groceries.

It's been over a week since I went to the grocery store. Down to the nubbins in my fridge. I'll have to start opening cans of fruit and cooking food from the freezer.

Essie's Grandpa picks her up from school today. They do homework for hours, until Essie almost snaps. Is this Family School right for her? It's only September and she's already getting burned out on the amount of homework. I don't think we can attend this school for too many more years. Should we move? S.Y. Jackson Elementary takes transfers...

What is the best thing to do with my time today? Pay attention to Samuel. He gets a little neglected between Megan's demands and Essie's demanding schooling. He loves attention.

Nobody monitors me or my time. I am my own boss. Has it's upsides and it's downsides. First of all, there's no one to hold me accountable. But then, there's also no one to hold me accountable. I'm still a little kid, sometimes, too. I need someone to give me a grade. B+. I get a B+ for a clean kitchen. Not an A. You forgot to finish the dishes last night.

Peaches. Sounds so yummy. But I am not supposed to drive anywhere today because it's my "day off." Peaches.

I could just not tell anyone.

What was I thinking I would make for breakfast today? Coconut Banana Muffins. Broccoli Bites from the freezer. A green smoothie. Chocolate chip cookies. Oooooh, home-made bread, and for dinner! Pizza.

Too bad fresh salad doesn't come from a can.

Mr. Bean's Holiday is such a funny movie. The actor, Rowan, has to work so hard to be creative that at the end of shooting a day's film he is exhausted. A real artist. A perfectionist. Like me. He's hard on himself, hard on the people around him. His randomness is completely planned, right down to his facial and body expressions.

2 emails in my inbox. I wish there were more. I love people. Paul says I need to get out and interact with people more. I agree. He also says I need to invite people over. I agree. But it would take overcoming that shy part of myself that puts up brick walls for safety. Safety from rejection. From hurt. It's a risk. But it will probably have high returns.

I love fall. The only thing I don't like about fall is that winter comes next. Why winter? Why snow for months on end? Cold. Dark. Where is the sunshine? I will learn how to cope with it. I will buy myself the most beautiful coat, and expensive snazzy snow boots. I will celebrate life, even in the hard times, like my Grandma did. I wish I had a picture of my Grandma.

Did you know that the day hasn't started yet? It could be anything. It could be a day where I snuck out to the grocery store. It could be a day where I exercise for over an hour. Samuel and I could go on an adventure hunt. What will you do with your day? Will you attempt something different? Get a drink from the drinking fountain in the middle of work and just randomly start playing with the water. Splash it all over the floor. Like a kid. Get fired. You might like it.

Play. I long to play with my kids. Read books until my throat is sore. Jump on the trampoline until my legs come out from underneath me. Eat peaches until we're covered in peachy syrup. Forget the kitchen. Forget cooking. Forget food. Who needs food when there is life to live?

I do. I guess. Rats. It would be more fun to just come over and hang out with you. We could laugh until our sides hurt. We could laugh at how totally ridiculous this post is. But you love me. Even if it's totally random. Now you see inside my head. You know exactly what's going on. A million thoughts, in no particular order. You have thoughts like this too, I am sure.

I would wish that you could have the best day. I would wish a quiet moment at your desk, where no one interrupts you. I would wish your recipes to turn out fantastic and taste so delicious that your friends are jealous. I would wish you the light that beautiful, loud music can offer. I would wish you the sound of birds. Or the sound of rain. Wherever you are. I wish for you...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Light & Tender Waffles (Gluten Free) // what it's like to be a kid

Upon inspection of the bread box yesterday, I discovered we are plum outta' bread. What to pack in Essie's school lunch?

Home-made waffle sandwich, with PB and Honey...(yes, I know that's not technically vegan). Waffles for breakfast, doubles as a sandwich for lunch. MMMMmmmm, I ate one, too, and it was delish.

Oh, I am such a genius!

Or so I thought.

Looking in Essie's lunch pale after school I saw that the sandwich remained untouched.

It didn't make any sense. These waffles are Essie's all-time favorite breakfast food. The girl LOVES PB&H. Was she just being picky? Maybe she wasn't hungry.

This morning it came out.

"Essie, I still don't have bread today, should I pack a waffle sandwich for you again, or do you not like it?"
She looked hesitant. Like me, she has a high need to please. Slowly, an answer.

"Yesterday when I was about to eat it everyone at my lunch table said, 'Eeeew, what's that?' And I just felt like I didn't want to eat it anymore."
And the look came over her face. The look that means tears are just about to flow.

Standing there in the kitchen, I remembered. What it's like to be a kid. What it's like to be different and be a kid. How do I forget so easily? What happens between 18 and 28 that clouds my memory of the struggles of childhood and adolescence?

"Oh, I am so sorry Essie. Sometimes children can say mean things when they see something they have never seen before. They really have no idea if it's yucky or not; they haven't tried it. I will make you something else. What about a tortilla roll-up, do you think that looks weird?"

"Maybe a little bit. But that's okay. Even if they think it's weird, I'll eat it anyway. I know it's yummy."
And in one sentence, my seven year old taught me something. We can enjoy life the way we want it, the way we like it, and not worry about what other people think.

All we need to know? We like it our way because it's yummy.

Here is our very favorite waffle recipe. We usually have to double it.

Whether or not you make it into a provocatively delicious sandwich? I'll leave that up to you.

(Our Absolute Favorite!) Light and Tender Waffles
From Neva Brackett's Seven Secrets Cookbook

Makes 1 1/2-2 large waffles (6-8 squares) (in my iron a double batch makes at least 6-8 full waffles)

Note from Neva: We have tried many combinations of waffle ingredients and made thousands of waffles. When we learned about the antioxidant benefits of flaxseed, we tried it in waffles. Our daughter Kimberly developed this recipe, which seems to have just the right combination of ingredients. It surpasses anything we have tried yet. We were surprised to discover that the flax works like leavening, causing the batter to bubble up and fill all the depression in the waffle iron.


2 cups water
1 tablespoon concentrated apple juice* (we use 1-2 dates)
1 cup quick (or rolled) oats
1/4 cup millet or cornmeal (we LOVE millet)
1/4 cup flaxseed
1/4 cup raw cashew nuts
2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional, helps waffle keep its shape when cool)
1/2 teaspoon salt

* Makes waffles brown; 1 date or 1/2 tablespoon of raisins may be used instead.


1.) Preheat waffle iron.

If your iron is old and worn, you probably have to use plenty of nonstick spray. The new waffle irons are not expensive, and a new Teflon surface stays nice a long time if you never grease or wash it. The nonstick sprays leave a residue that build up, making the waffles stick. So don't spray, and get a nicer-appearing waffle as well!

2.) Blend all ingredients for 1 minute. (Or until very smooth.)

3.) Pour mixture into preheated waffle iron and close the lid. Bake until steam stops rising and the waffle is golden brown and crisp.

Hint: We've found that the time to bake these waffles varies greatly with the particular waffle iron -- from 4 to 12 minutes. So follow the steam rule above, and you won't have a sticky mess! Once you know how long your iron takes, it's simpler to use a timer than watch the steam.

4.) Remove to a cooling rack and serve.

Don't stack waffles when they're hot, or they'll become soggy and compressed. Use a toaster to add crispiness and reheat leftovers.

Serving tips: Delicious with a warm fruit sauce, or sliced fresh peaches, maple syrup, or coconut whipped cream.

[9/20/2012 Update: Guess what? If you use certified gluten free oats, this recipe is GLUTEN FREE! Which means you could also have a gluten free, vegan sandwich. Yum.]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Megan's Story

Megan loves her Daddy.

I mean, REALLY LOVES (on the order of obsession, she-should-probably-go-to-AA-meetings-to-recover-addicted-to) her Daddy. We already visited the fact that she knows her own mind, is determined and stubborn, and quite the ruler of this family.

On Saturday, Paul and I left our children in the care of a very dear and stalwart friend, and drove to the city. This very good friend also has her own two children and we have been trading babysitting back and forth.

Trying to find the church function, we got lost about three times. Once we finally arrived, we saw the food was basically beef and cheese lasagna and chicken lasagna (am I completely out of date? I have NEVER heard of chicken lasagna. Although it did slightly resemble a chicken version of Cauliflower Bechamel. Very interesting!). Oh, I forgot to mention the iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing. Needless to say we left, got dinner at Taj Palace, and then went back to enjoy the other activities.

Upon returning home, my friend was completely distraught.

While playing games with the (five!) children, Megan had quietly slipped out of the room and disappeared without her notice.

Meanwhile our next door neighbor, Tracy, who claims that she is not by any means a religious person, gets the impression that she needed to get up and wash her dishes. I don't want to wash dishes. Again. Wash your dishes.

We share a main road, which is twisty and curvy, and it is the only access road to all of the homes up above our neighborhood. Vehicles fly around the curves at obnoxious speed, with little thought. Tracy's kitchen window just so happens to look out over our main road. As she looked up from her dishes, a little figure ran past. A little girl.

"Megan!" She ran from her kitchen and darted down the road as fast as she could. As Tracy picked her up Megan simply said, "Daddy?"

Peering down the road, Tracy observed that Megan was only a few hundred yards away from the main highway, where hundreds of cars pass at over 60 miles per hour.

She was headed to Albuquerque to look for her Daddy.

Later Tracy told Paul, "It was an act of God. I did not want to wash my dishes, but felt strongly that I should. God is watching out for your baby."

Even though my heart pounds every time I think of Megan on the road, and I think, What if? What if Tracy had just decided to NOT wash her dishes? What if a car had passed around that corner? Would they have stopped quickly enough?

Even though I had no control over the situation, and I could not have saved Megan. I have learned something. I have learned to treasure Megan more. Yes, with all the fits. The screaming, the tantrums, the endless demands. I have enjoyed just holding her. Feeling her soft little baby cheek against mine. Touching her plump little "Precious Moments" fingers.

Because she is mine. God has given her to me a second time.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Panda Express Copycat // Rice Crispy Treats

Parents should make it their first business to understand the laws of life and health, that nothing should be done by them in the preparation of food, or through any other habits, which will develop wrong tendencies in their children. How carefully should mothers study to prepare their tables with the most simple, healthful food, that the digestive organs may not be weakened, the nervous forces unbalanced, and the instruction which they should give their children counteracted, by the food placed before them. This food either weakens, or strengthens the organs of the stomach, and has much to do in controlling the physical and moral health of the children, who are God's blood-bought property. (Seven Secrets Cookbook, by Neva Brackett, pg. 45)

I have had guilt issues with working in my kitchen. I know. It sounds ridiculous. I have even had to talk to Paul about it, in depth, and ask him if he thought that I was out of balance. He calmly asked me, "How else would you feed your family?"

Simple. I would go out and buy pre-packaged foods, eat at restaurants at least once a day, and almost completely avoid kitchen work.

We made these rice crispies over the weekend. Originally a home-made concoction, the food industry has made it into a pre-packaged food. They pump it full of chemicals and refined grains and sugars that were never meant for our ingestion. It also contains animal products.

I don't think that's what God gave me time for. I also don't think that it is just by chance that I have been able to learn so much about health and nutrition. Sometimes I feel like the knowledge He gives me about how to properly care for my family pours in so quickly that I had better act fast. Otherwise I will forget how to implement what He has taught me in my home.

I have pondered a lot about whether or not I should share my belief in God on this blog. After some time, I have decided that it is such a deep part of who I am, that it is inseparable -- my joy for living, and my belief in God.

I've finally concluded that I don't want my family to have to leave my home in order to get the nourishment that they need. There are already too many reasons that my children are called to be elsewhere, away from the safety of home. Trying to get sustenance, because there is none at home, should not be one of them. Home should be a haven. It should be a place where my children know, no matter where they are, if they are hungry, tired, and worn out from the world, that they can come home. At home there will be food, GOOD food, clean places to play, and cozy, warm places to sleep.

Here is a satisfying meal of "orange chicken" we made yesterday that is usually picked up from a fast food restaurant. They use animal products that have been pumped with antibiotics and chemicals, probably use MSG, and lots of refined oils and sugars and who knows what else.

I have watched how eating at home blesses my children. I have been able to see measurable results in all of their lives. Megan, especially, whom I have discovered, has a severe allergy to milk. Which, if consumed, triggers sinus congestion within hours and ultimately causes severe and chronic ear infections. If I didn't provide dairy free alternatives at home, she would be limited in the foods she could enjoy throughout her life.

My children at the breakfast table with a new bench we bought for them. Now we can fit over 7 people at our table! We also have a nook which fits an additional 4 people. Enough room for family and friends to enjoy wholesome, home-made food together.

Is the time I spend in the kitchen, worth it? Absolutely.

And it's not just my family that has been blessed by this kitchen work. Members of my extended family, good friends, and many others, have at one point needed help with finding foods that were more healthful. Each individual has their own story; their own particular needs for their family.

At times, I have been a bit shocked. Amazed at how much helping others find delicious recipes that aid in fueling superior health has blessed my life.

My Mac N' Cheese was spurred on by Carly, whose children didn't like the original recipe found in Seven Secrets Cookbook. We went back to the drawing board, worked with combinations, and created a better recipe. Cauliflower Bechamel was found and improved because of my sister, Catherine, whose family allergies prevented them from being able to consume dairy, soy, and nuts. And thus an allergen-free cream sauce was born.

Sometimes I am so elated about the health benefits of whole foods, and good recipes made from them, that I don't know what to do with that passion. That passion largely comes because I can see that God has provided all the materials necessary to enjoy a bountiful, whole foods lifestyle. He cares about what I eat, and has provided a way to make it enjoyable.

I believe that God cares about what I eat. I love being in nature because I cannot help but feel God's presence. He is in the tall trees, the cool air, and in every living thing around me.

This blog has helped me to channel that passion. Being able to share what I work so hard to find in my kitchen is like therapy. Instead of food preparation being a lonely, one man show, it's now a friendship. Having you interact with me about these foods, health principles, and concerns about nutrition in general has been wonderful.

While I dipped cauliflower in the "popcorn" coating, there was a lot of moaning and comments from my children, "Ew! What is that?" But by the end of the meal there were multiple return trips to the stovetop and, "Mom, is there any more orange chicken (cauliflower) left?" Nope. There were no leftovers of this large meal.

Now THIS is an easy meal I would serve to guests!

Copycat Panda Express Orange Sauce
From CCK

We served this over seasoned quinoa and steamed snow peas, with a side of orange slices. Start by making the Cauliflower "popcorn" nuggets, because they take the longest to bake. While they are baking you can prepare the orange sauce and steam some rice or quinoa.

1/2 cup vegetable broth (120g)
2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot (30g)
3-4 tbsp orange marmalade (45-60g)
2 tbsp minced garlic (30g)
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp rice vinegar (45g)
2 stevia packets, or 2 tbsp sugar (Liquid sweetener will work if you’d prefer; just maybe use a bit more cornstarch for thickening.)
2 tbsp soy sauce (or gluten-free soy sauce) (30g)
1 tsp sesame oil
optional: green onions for garnish, crushed red chilis for a spicy variation


Whisk broth and cornstarch or arrowroot until dissolved. Now turn on the heat to low-medium and add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it’s thickened, remove from heat. Makes 300g (about 1 1/4 cup). Serve over whatever you wish: rice, veggies, soba, tofu, etc. As noted above, here are the directions if you wish to make chicken-style cauliflower (it works with tofu as well): combine 1/2 cup any type of flour with 1/2 cup water, dip florets of one head cauliflower into this mixture, bake 20 minutes at 425F, then pour the sauce on top and bake another few minutes.

Cauliflower "Popcorn" Nuggets


raw cauliflower
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup water
parchment paper
roasting pan


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, removing the majority of the stem/stalk. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine flower with water, and mix with a fork or whisk until well combined. Pour over the cauliflower. Gently and carefully, toss the cauliflower with flour/water mixture until all the cauliflower has been coated. The flour coating should cover all of one large head of cauliflower. You only want the cauliflower thinly coated, not gobbed with flour/water.

Cover your roasting pan with parchment paper. Spread out cauliflower onto the parchment paper evenly, so they bake evenly.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. Pour the orange sauce on top and baking another 10-15 minutes.

We doubled the batch. It was gone in two days. We changed out the nut butters because we didn't have macadamia nut butter -- an idea we got from Janae.

Holiday Variation: I was just totally thinking that the caramel sauce would make AWESOME popcorn balls!

“Nicer” Krispie Squares
From Dreena Burton

This recipe mimics the flavors and textures of Rice Krispie Treats using more natural ingredients. These squares taste phenomenal, with the buttery richness of the macadamia nut butter and the sweetness of brown rice syrup.


1⁄2 cup macadamia nut butter (I use “Nuts To You” brand)(If you don't have Macadamia nut butter you can use 1/4 cup cashew butter and 1/4 cup peanut butter, or 1/2 cup cashew butter)
1⁄2 cup brown rice syrup
3 tbsp unrefined sugar (can reduce or omit, to taste)
1⁄4 tsp sea salt
1⁄4 tsp agar powder
1 – 1 1⁄2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups natural brown rice crisp cereal


Line an 8×8-in (20×20-cm) pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan on low-medium heat, combine macadamia butter, syrup, sugar, salt, agar powder, and vanilla. Stir continually as mixture heats until agar powder is fully dissolved (reduce heat if mixture starts bubbling).

Remove from heat and stir in cereal, making sure to fully incorporate with nut butter mixture. Transfer mixture to pan and press in evenly (use an edge of parchment paper to press without sticking). Refrigerate to cool completely, then cut into squares. Makes 16 squares.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How to Make Seasoned Quinoa

Yesterday evening was not the happiest one.

In my home there is the most head-strong, determined little person I have ever met. This girls got a will of iron and she knows her own mind.

We frequently refer to her as The Queen Of The World. Or Boss of the World. Either nickname works well. She's got this family under her all-powerful thumb.

She's also very good at throwing long and terrible fits.

This might give you an idea as to how the last five hours of our day went. Oh, and I must not forget to mention that this lasted intermittently throughout the night, too.

I also really wanted to post an oil free, plant-based veggie pot pie. The crust was a bear. It was still very yummy, but just a tad dry; I think I need to revisit the oil free crust before it makes a debut.

Let's make something tried-and-true, shall we?

My Mom loves quinoa. While visiting her in Utah during the summer she told me that my brother would sit and eat an entire bowl of quinoa by itself because of the way she seasoned it. She taught me how, and I tried it out on my kids. Essie now asks for bowls of quinoa, too.

How to make simple, scrumptious quinoa.

1.) Start with a lot of peeled, chopped garlic. (See this post on how to peel garlic quickly and easily.)

2.) You will need a quality Chicken-like base. I use concentrated base instead of broth, because vegetable broths just don't bring in the amazing savory taste that the concentrate does.

I have had quite an adventure in trying to attain this particular base (as have many of you!), and even went to a lot of effort to order it through Whole Foods Market. They told me no.

SO. I got on Amazon, and for $6 a bottle, with prime, I will have six of these delivered to me on Tuesday. It's worth it. This base makes the best soup, and ultimately the most fantastic quinoa.

Any quality vegan bouillon concentrated base will work. Rapunzel is a great brand, and sold in many health food stores, including places like Fred Meyer's and Smith's Marketplace.

3.) Decide how many cups of quinoa you want to end up with. I like to make 4-6 cups at a time. The ratio is 1:2:2, so for every one cup of quinoa, you need 2 cups of water, and for every 2 cups of water you need 2 bouillon cubes, or 2 scant teaspoons of concentrated base.

Quinoa needs to be rinsed well in a fine-mesh sieve to remove the bitter saponins. Bob's Red Mill brand of quinoa (sometimes sold at Costco for a very good price) does not need to be rinsed, as well as some other boxed brands. I like these because I prefer to avoid additional steps, but rinsing is not too difficult.

Here I put six cups of water, 4-5 teaspoons (I figured that's how much it would be if they were all scantly measured) of concentrated bouillon base, and 6-8 chopped cloves of garlic together and brought it to a boil.

After adding the 3 cups of quinoa to six cups of water, and 4 teaspoons base, bring it to a boil and then cover, and reduce the heat to low.

4.) Simmer on low until it is light and fluffy and has absorbed all the water. The cooking time fluctuates. Most quinoa shouldn't take any longer than 20 minutes to cook, but because I live at a high altitude (over 7,200 ft) out here in the mountains, it takes me at least 30 minutes.

It should look like this.

I like to make this when I don't know what to make for dinner, and I need something very nutritious, and fast. I usually serve it with fried tofu for my kids...but that recipe is for another day...

It also goes very well with soup, on top of green salads, or with a side of your favorite steamed veggies.

Seasoned Quinoa
By Ruth Henrikson


4 cups water
3-4 cubes (or tsp if wet base) of vegan chicken-like bouillon base
2 cups quinoa, rinsed
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
(if not using "Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base" brand, you may need to add salt to taste)


Bring water to a boil on high in a medium sized pot and add chopped garlic, vegan bouillon and quinoa. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until light and fluffy, and quinoa has absorbed all the water, about 20 minutes.


Updated note: It's hard to add too much garlic to this. Feel free to throw in a few extra cloves if you like. The cloves get very soft -- just as soft as the quinoa -- and they add so much flavor.

I guess I better the breakfast table in the next room my hubby is singing to the kids, "Oh, I wish we had a Mommy in this family, If only we had a Mom in this family..." And Samuel is yelling back, "We do!" Ha ha ha.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Coconut Corn Chowder For Your Picky Eaters

Dinner has always been a stressful time for me. People have very high expectations of me. I have very high expectations of myself.

Probably because I can't handle rejection from what Dreena Burton calls, "picky-poos." There couldn't be a better name for it.

We've been experiencing a lot of that lately. Yes, even in myself. I am really good at making things complicated; harder than they have to be. My dinners have been pretty complicated lately, and I have had comments from picky-poos that go something like this:

"This has too many flavors in it." (What?)

"I don't like this."

And other various and sundry complaints.

When I am feeling sorry for myself (being picky!) that my eating choices might be a little limited (this does happen to me every once in a while) I brainstorm about all the food I love and make, my favorite dishes, and I write them down.

This list went on for another couple of pages.

I also do this with my kids. I make them sit down with me and talk about all of their favorite foods as we write them down. We both learn something; we are always surprised at the variety of foods we eat and love. Most of these meals are plant-based spins off of the exact meals I was eating two years ago and yet there are also some of them that are new and fun.

Except the whole foods version makes my hair grow, skin glow, and the weigh scale shows happy numbers.

While brainstorming, I was looking through one of my favorite cookbooks, "Seven Secrets." Found a recipe, and decided to make it.

Looking at the ingredients list and the instructions I could tell it was gonna be "easy-peasy."

So I went outside with Samuel and Megan and jumped on the trampoline as high and as long as I possibly could. It's turning fall here, so the smell of fresh rain dripping from the pine trees was intoxicating. I love fall.

I felt like a little kid again. I couldn't get enough of being outside. So we also decided to go for a walk/run/bike ride. This was at 5:15 p.m. -- when I am normally supposed to be panicking and working hard to get dinner on the table.

After an exhilarating and energizing walk/run, I came back and threw some potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery in the pressure cooker. When they were cooked I blended the cream portion of the soup and added corn.

Dinner was ready in less than 30 minutes...VEGAN FAST FOOD!

It was so simple, and anymore I am realizing that kids love simple.

The chowder went well with some "buttered" toast.

No whining. Only happy noises filled the air. Soup spoons clanging against soup bowls. And...

"Mmmmmm, I LOVE this, Mommy!" (Samuel)

"I'm goin' back for thirds!" (Paul)

One happy mamma.

Coconut Corn Chowder
By Neva Brackett, from "Seven Secrets Cookbook."
Modifications by Ashlee Crozier

Note from Neva:

[My daughter] Kimberly likes to make her cream soups by blending a can of coconut milk with 2 cups cooked potatoes. Simmer vegetables with seasonings and add the blended sauce. This corn chowder is an example.


5 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon chicken-like seasoning (vegan chicken-flavored bouillon)
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups water
4 cups frozen corn
1 can coconut milk

And because I am a major vegetable fan(atic!) I added:
1 cup thinly sliced celery
3/4 - 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
I did need to add additional salt and pepper to taste, once the soup was done.


1.) Place potatoes, onions, and seasonings in 3 cups water and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. (I used my pressure cooker on high for 8 minutes).

2.) Remove 2 cups of the cooked potatoes with a slotted spoon (you may get some of the onions, too, but that's all right), and place in the blender. Stir the frozen corn into the pot of soup.

3.) Add coconut milk to the blender with the cooked potatoes. Blend for about 30 seconds OR LESS -- just until smooth, if you blend it for too long the potatoes will become starchy.

4.) Add blended mixture to the soup. May add more water or salt as needed to taste. Heat to serving temperature.

Variation: If you don't want to use coconut milk but like the idea of thickening your soup with potato, there are other options. Replace the coconut milk (1 can is a scant 2 cups) with soy milk, or blend 3/4 cup cashew nuts with 2 cups of water, or use 1/2 can (1 cup) coconut milk for lower fat soup. (I recommend trying the blended cashews to make cashew cream).