Monday, October 19, 2009

Spooky Mashed Potatoes

With no artificial colors!  If you come across Blue Russian potatoes at your local farmer's market, then you too can make these spooky mashed potatoes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Home Made Red Pepper Jelly

Firstly, I have to say how deeply honoured I am to have my Strawberry French Toast mentioned on!!! Thank you Erik Marcus.  Aaand, VeganMoFo twittered about the fresh baked bread I made for that same post.  Thank you VeganMoFo. 

I'm still in shock.

Casting my shock aside for the moment, I wanted to share with you this awesome red pepper jelly that I made.

It started out as a pepper plant that I bought at the local organic market for $1.99.  It was a little sad looking droopy plant, but I gave it some TLC and in a few short weeks I had more hot peppers than I knew what to do with.  I've made jam before, so I thought I would be able to pull off making this jelly.  Unfortunately I have no idea what kind of peppers I was using because there's no name on the plant anywhere.  But they are about the size of a small dill pickle and they look like this:

If you have a canning bath rack, by all means, use it, but if you don't have one you can still make this jelly - just be very careful not to scald yourself with the boiling water.

Red Pepper Jelly
4-5 hot peppers
2-3 red bell peppers
6 cups of sugar
1.5 cups white vinegar
1 box (57g) Certo pectin crystals
beet powder (optional, to enhance color)
6 x 1 cup mason jars with lids and rings

First things first, get your largest pot of water boiling.  You need a pretty big pot - one that you can immerse all the jars in and still have 1-2 inches of water above the top of the jars. Don't put the jars in yet, just get the water boiling.  This is called the "bath"

You will also need a small saucepan of boiling water that has your lids in it.

While you're waiting for the water to boil, it's time to sterilize the mason jars.  There's 2 ways to do this:
  • use the dishwasher.  Try to time it so that the jars are still hot from the wash when you're ready to pour the jelly into them. 
  • If you don't have a dishwasher, just wash the jars and then put them in the oven at 225 to dry for at least 15 minutes (and to keep them hot)
Make sure all of your peppers have been washed and are dry.  Cut the stems off the red peppers and remove the membranes from inside.   You can cut the peppers into quarters to get the membranes out.

Cut the stems off the hot peppers, but leave the seeds and membranes intact. (You may want to wear gloves when you do this, especially if you have sensitive skin.)

Place all of the peppers in a food processor and pulse until they are very small pieces.  Not quite pureed, but pretty close.  Should equal about 1 1/3 cups.

In another large saucepan, combine the almost-pureed peppers, sugar, vinegar, and a dash of beet powder if you're going to use it.   Stir constantly over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Do not leave unattended, as it may boil over.

Once it starts to boil, add the Certo pectin crystals and continue to stir constantly for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, and pour into hot, dry mason jars.  Fill each jar one at a time, placing the lid (should come straight from the small saucepan of boiling water) and screwing the ring on before filling the next jar.  Using a wide funnel really helps.  Be careful not to overfill or get any jelly on the rim of the jar.  If you do, wipe it off before placing the lid and ring on.  Also, be careful when handling the jars as they are hot!

Once you've filled all your jars and got the lids and rings screwed on, immerse them in the hot water bath for 5 minutes.  Remove from bath very carefully using canning tongs and mitts and place on a wooden cutting board or a tea towel on your countertop. 

It will take 24-48 hours for the jelly to thicken.  At first it will seem very runny but don't worry, it will set. And then you can enjoy it like this, on rice crackers:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's Pumpkin Season

When I think autumn, I think pumpkin.  I also think of foods like squash, hearty soup, cranberries, and hot cocoa.  And speaking of pumpkin, VegNews recently posted a Perfect Pumpkin Muffin recipe that I'll no doubt be making in the next few days.  But the first of this season's pumpkin baking for me was a recipe from La Dolce Vegan.  I replaced chocolate chips for the cranberries and made a couple dozen of these:

What are your pumpkin plans this season?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

VeganMoFo Begins!

It's the most wonderful time of the year...Vegan MoFo!   Brace yourself.  October is Vegetarian Awareness month, and the blogosphere is about to be flooded with vegan food porn  from hundreds of bloggers. A full list of this year's participants can be found at Cake Maker to the Stars.

So let's start off World Vegetarian Day by waking up to the aroma of freshly baked bread.  LOVE the breadmaker with the timer so the bread is hot and fresh at the crack of dawn!

This was a simple loaf using all organic ingredients: unbleached flour, olive oil, fresh ground sea salt, fair trade sugar, yeast and water.  It's perfect for french toast.  Cut the bread into nice chubby slices, butter both sides with Earth Balance, dip in vanilla almond (or soy/rice/hemp) milk with a pinch of cinnamon, and fry in a lightly oiled pan for a few minutes on both sides.  Top with strawberry syrup, fresh strawberries and a dusting of icing sugar.