House of the Rising Son

To all of you out there who either have or have had young children, I offer you the fist bump of solidarity. Early this morning I was in writing heaven. Ideas were flowing. I was entertaining myself with my cleverness. Then my son woke up. He was in a very cheerful mood... until he realized that I was writing this newsletter and not paying attention to his 13 minute story with 4 divergent plot lines. Ah the Sunday morning struggle... At any rate, the menu is at least written, even if I am out of time to say anything else. I will just leave you with these two things:

This Week's Menu:

Entree #1 - Home-style Vegetable Lentil Soup

When people who are not disciples of the Path of the Vegan Warrior think of a meal without meat, it seems that lentil soup is the one that first comes to mind. At least that is the way it seems from the one billion and one recipes out there on the internet. Of course many of those recipes do also contain meat, yet it seems like lentil soup is a standard "Oh God! My vegan relatives are coming to town. What on Earth will we feed them?" kind of dish. And with good reason, for lentils are tasty, full of protein, and quick-cooking. The quick-cooking feature is a major advantage that lentils have over other larger beans that require soaking and forethought. Lentils are also versatile - just peel and cut some veggies, simmer them with the lentils and add pretty much any spicing that you want. I found recipes that used Italian spices, ones with curry, ones with Mexican spicing... This recipe calls for cumin and coriander. Seriously, if you are living far away and just can't make it over to order from us, this is the DIY recipe to add to your repertoire. *GF, soy-free

(photo fatfreevegan.com)

Entree #2 - Jagannath Puri Chana Dal

When I was thinking about what dal to make, this chana dal pushed all the other competitors out of the way. Chana beans are naturally a little sweet, and when combined with coconut and the host of "sweet" spices like cinnamon, clove, and cardamom, the result is heavenly. Keep in mind that the flavor doesn't end there - the recipe also calls for fresh tomatoes and savory spices like cumin, fennel, mustard, fenugreek, and coriander. OMG! It is as if the clouds suddenly open, the sun shines down on you, and angelic voices begin singing the Heavenly Flavor song. That description might be a tad hyperbolic, but not really since the recipe has been perfected over hundreds of years, and is a speciality of the famous Jagannatha Temple in Puri, India. I truly believe that the tradition of cooking for the pleasure of God in the temple kitchens, is the reason why Indian cuisine has developed such rich, sophisticated flavor profiles. Fortunately for us, we can now enjoy such divine dishes without even having to board a plane. *GF, soy-free

Entree #3 - African Pumpkin and Groundnut Stew

I was looking for a recipe yesterday in the files of my old newsletters. A wonderful thing happens when I do that - I am reminded of some of the great things that I have made in the past and maybe forgotten about. We last made this warm and exotic stew exactly a year ago. That is too long ago! I know. So many recipes, so little time... For those of you who don't know, "groundnuts" is another name for that staple crop of the South, peanuts. What's that? You don't eat peanuts in soup? That's fine; just don't travel to Ghana then. There peanuts are a staple food crop and are used in way more creative ways than just being ground into sandwich spread. This stew is packed (I mean packed) with nutrition and flavor. Besides the pumpkin & the peanut butter, it has beans, carrots, tomatoes, spinach and a healthy splash of curry. Go on, go African. You know you want to! *GF, soy-free

(photo vegkitchen.com)

Side Dishes:

Brown Rice - $1/serving (1 cup)

Funtastic Greens Salad - $6/lb. If you have ever been that token man or woman in a room full of the opposite gender, you might understand how this salad feels in a column full of desserts. Another special request (if you haven't figured out by now, I love feedback and requests), this salad incorporates some of the other winter-friendly greens like kale and purple cabbage along with the usual lettuce. Pecans, apple, raisins, carrots, and colored peppers add color and crunch, making this one of my favorite salads. Since I actually don't usually like salad, those are some high words of praise. Oh, and the mustard vinagrette dressing for this salad is out of this world! *GF, soy-free

(photo allrecipes.com)

Chocolate "Creme" Pie - $4/ea. or $18/pie. There is so much happening here in the dessert section! What gives? Well, it goes a little something like this, I had two different special orders for desserts, so I decided to honor them both. The benefit to you is that you get so much temptation to choose from! I mean, you have so many healthful options to choose from. ;-) If you haven't had a piece of this Chocolate Pie yet, you want to make sure and grab one before the end of 2015. The ingredients are very simple and with the exception of the chocolate chips (ok, admitted splurge there), are totally healthy. The crust is made from raw walnuts, dates and cocoa powder. The filling, oh the blessed filling!, is made from tofu, coconut cream, and melted chocolate chips. Don't let this pie be like that special someone that got away, take a piece home with you while it is still 2015! *GF, soy-free

(photo minimalistbaker.com)

Apple Berry Crisp - $4/serving. If you don't do chocolate (what?! I know, there are a few of you out there...), this is that other king of sweets to end the year with. We just had apple crisp last month, but like I said, we had a special order for it. And this is not just any ordinary fabulous gluten-free apple crisp, this is Apple Berry Crisp. With a mixture of Gala, Golden, MacIntosh & Braeburn apples, raspberries, blue & black berries, this dessert is a veritable hotbead of both antioxidants and flavor. The crumble is made from oats, coconut and almond flours. To those Southern cooks out there who think that it ain't food without butter, sugar, and eggs, this baby is a force to be reckoned with... *GF, soy-free

(photo minimalistbaker.com)

Giant Oatmeal Raisin and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies - $3/ea. or 2 for $5. As if we didn't have enough delectableness to choose from right? Now there are more options, I know. So a word about these cookies - they are egg-free, but do contain dairy and wheat. Every December the Krishna Temple in Hillsborough makes 1000's of these beautiful, chewy cookies to sell for their annual fundraiser. Govinda's will be offering them to you through the New Year. All proceeds go to the center. Quantity pricing available. These are lovely to bring to that office holiday party that you just didn't have time to bake anything for. Hint hint...

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