I've been absent a while. I've been making things like pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes, applesauce cookies, chocolate oatmeal blueberry plumb crumble bread, and pumpkin pie bites. J and I have also been sleeping in as much as we can because of his crazy work/school schedule.
Sorry about that. I didn't intend to neglect my blog, I promise.
I've been baking every week for my choir: they're perhaps not aware that they've been eating vegan, gluten-free, entirely organic, low-sweetner treats for the past few weeks.
However, today I am going to make chocolate chip cookies: Gf flour, dark chocolate chunks, bananas, cinnamon, brown sugar, raw sugar, baking soda, a pinch of sea salt, coconut oil and LOVE.
I may even put some oatmeal and molasses in; just for something new.
Baking and cooking (I've been IN LOVE with casseroles.. more on that later) this past month has been very important to me.
I've been editing, writing letters of recommendation, and finding MORE and MORE things that need to be done. Such as thank you notes and wedding preparation.
I've been writing a lot in my head, going over and over my novels and making changes and adjustments---- something I've got to do on the page very soon.
For today, I'll leave you with a casserole recipe. I vary it a lot, but here's what I usually do. It's completely organic, vegan and EASY. It tastes cheesy and warm and gooey delicious.
1) Mise en Place:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees; you may want it slightly warmer if you live at altitude (as I do).
1 casserole dish,
1 sautee pan,
1 bag frozen vegetables of your choice (I've been using half spinach and half broccoli),
1 quarter grated squash (been using 1/4 acorn squash or 1/2 to 1 zucchini),
a pinch of salt; pepper; cajun spices or chili powder,
2 tablespoons flour (I use gf oat or bob's red mill)
3 tablespoons (or a bit more) fat (I use coconut oil, but butter would work too)
Approximately 3/4 to 1 Cup liquid (I use almond milk, but any dairy or unsweetened/flavored milk substitute would work)
1 can pumpkin (NOT pie mix please),
1 wooden spoon,
1 handful slivered almonds and sunflower seeds, OR the savory breadcrumb topping of your choice (heck, use fried onions if you want, I don't care).
2) Dump frozen veggies and shredded squash/zuchinni in casserole (you can grease or NOT grease the casserole dish with fat, it doesn't really matter). Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, pepper and chili spices. Set aside.
3) Place the sautee pan on the stove on medium low. Add 3 tablespoons of coconut oil/butter. When melted, add the 2 table spoons of flour and stir continuously with a wooden spoon so that it does not burn. This is called making a rue. You want to cook the flour until it smells nutty and darkens in color (it should smell buttery, like rolls baking in the oven) -- my grandmother would say at LEAST 3 to 5 minutes. If the mixture in the pan is more watery than gooey, add a bit more flour and cook another few minutes.
4) Then, gently season the rue with salt, pepper, chili powder, and slowly add your almond milk (or other liquid dairy/milk substitute). KEEP stirring and turn the heat to medium. The mixture should hiss a bit when you add the liquid, and begin to form blobs. It will keep thickening to the consistency of gravy! This was our GOAL! :-D You may want to add more liquid if it's too thick. If it's too runny, don't worry, this next step will solve that. When the gravy has reached the desired thickness, turn the heat back to low.
5) Open the can of pumpkin and stir it up inside the can with a fork. You want it to look whipped, not chunky. Add by the forkful to the gravy in the pan a little at a time, stirring with the fork to prevent lumps and incorporate the pumpkin smoothly into the sauce.
6) When the pumpkin is all mixed into the gravy, it should be a nice brown orange color. Taste it (carefully, it's HOT) and adjust seasoning-- you can add herbs or a little worcestershire sauce if you like to make it less pumpkiny and more cheesy. MMMM.....
7) Turn off burner. Pour gravy over veggies in casserole dish and carefully stir. Or don't. It doesn't really matter, but it will cook more quickly if you stir because remember, we used some frozen veggies.
8) Sprinkle with the almond/sunflower seed mix OR your breadcrumb mix.
9) Place in oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until an inserted fork comes out warm all the way down the tines, and the top of the casserole is brown and crunchy.
10) A good way to know if it's done is if you can smell the DELICIOUSNESS from the living room/throughout the rest of the house.
11) Remove casserole from the oven and set to cool for 10 minutes. Then EAT. I like to sprinkle nutritional yeast on top of mine because it adds to the cheesy flavor.
More narrative later. I just felt like sharing some COOKING with you today.
Be Kind and HAPPY OCTOBER!
Fall is my FAVORITE!