OATrageous Oats Review and Contest

A whole book on oats? I’ll admit to being a bit skeptical, but  just a bit. After all, Kathy Hester knows her stuff and if she thought the humble grain was worth a whole book, she’d make it clear why. My first impression of the cover was a good one: with a lot of white area, it’s kind of stark (in a good way) but the brown grains in the corners are warm and inviting. Cracking the book open was a big surprise. It has a lay-flat binding! I wish every cookbook did. I had no idea just what I was missing. I’m used to weighing one side of a book down on my counter to keep it open, but this is so convenient. All this is great, but it’s the food that really matters……so on to OATrageous Oats!

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The introduction not only includes the methods to cook all kinds of oats, but also notes about how to make the book work for specific diets, such as soy-free, gluten-free, and no added oil. The first chapter contains staple recipes to help get you started. Think gravy, cheese sauce, oat milk yogurt and chocolate sauce, to name a few.

Chapters 2 and 3 go together well: Warming Oats for Fall and Winter, and Cooling Oats for Spring and Summer. Warming Oats has pancakes, waffles, scones and lots of creative ideas for breakfast oatmeal. Cooling Oats has shakes, smoothies and a variety of overnight oats. Who wouldn’t love to wake up to Blackberry Mojito Overnight Oats?

Besides oats for breakfast, and in cookies, of course, a lot of us grew up on granola. Chapter 4 is Granolas and Bars for Breakfast and Beyond. Both sweet and savory recipes are here. Bourbon-Scented Pecan Granola would be an ideal holiday breakfast, or a fantastic gift.

Chapter 5 is Satisfying Soups and Stews. This chapter is packed with hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare. We tried the Mushroom Ginger Congee and it had a lot of flavor, especially for a quick-to-make soup. The  Creamy Butternut Squash Oat Soup would be a wonderful addition to a Thanksgiving meal.

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In Chapter 6, Savory Oats for Lunch and Dinner, we found loads of recipes to bookmark. It’s packed with stir frys, scrambles, gnocchi, loafs, burgers, steaks and more.

Chapter 7, Delightful Desserts, will not disappoint. From Old Fashion Mix and Match Oatmeal Cookies to Turtle Oat Truffles and Dreamy Dark Chocolate Oat Cream, there is lots of satisfaction for those with a sweet tooth.

While you’re thinking dessert, why not add an oat-based beverage on the side? Chapter 8 has creamers, liqueur, and even Oatchata, the traditional Mexican drink.

Catnip Kitty Treats

When I saw Catnip Kitty Treats in the last chapter, Beyond the Dining Room: Other Uses for Oats, I couldn’t resist making them. They were a big hit with our cats. And if you have dogs instead, there are recipes for dog treats, too. If you’d prefer a little pampering, you’ll find a recipe for a soak, and also for a scrub.

If you want to win a copy of OATrageous Oats, just leave a comment on my blog telling me one of your favorite ways to eat oats. One winner will be randomly chosen on Friday, October 24th. US shipping only, please.  I’m leaving you with photos of our kitties enjoying their treats.

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Vegan Tacos Review and Giveaway!

Contest is closed! The winner is #29: Amy  Wagar Cinch!

I was super excited to be included in the blog tour for Jason Wyrick, and his new book, Vegan Tacos. I was even more excited (if it’s possible) when the review copy arrived in the mail. Wow. No, wait, WOW!

Vegan Tacos Cover

The cover immediately grabbed me, and when I saw it was shot and styled by the awesome Erin from Olives for Dinner and her husband, Jeff, I wasn’t surprised. A lot of times, I’m tempted to skip over introductions and read them later (give me the recipes already!), but in this case, I’m glad I didn’t. It’s a fantastic explanation of why Jason wrote this book, and sucks you in. Tacos 101, the first chapter, is almost a ‘how to use this book’ overview, as well as a history of the taco. I particularly like that Jason gives the region for each taco, it’s heat index, and ways to make the tacos quickly or even low-fat. Chapter 2, Essential Ingredients and Equipment gives you all the basic info you need to create the recipes in the book. The chile section is indispensable, detailing the properties of all the different chiles and even offering substitutions. I know I’ll turn to this again and again. It also gives information on how to panfry the chiles, rehydrate them, and more. We happen to love spice, but for those of you who don’t, Jason explains how to turn down the heat. The chapter wraps up with info on other ingredients and helpful equipment. I’ll admit to being intimidated by chapter 3, Tortillas, Masa, Nixtamal, and You. I’ve made regular flour tortillas before, but I didn’t even think I liked corn tortillas. I couldn’t be more wrong! I still need practice – I only made them for the last recipe I tried – but they are really easy to make. A little harder to perfect, but that’s ok. I see a lot more of them in my future.

The second part of the book contains all the recipe chapters, starting with a few basics such as Mojo do Ajo (garlic oil) and Flattened Seitan. I had a tough time getting my seitan as thin as the recipe stated so I cooked it longer, but the end result is unlike any seitan I’ve ever had. I plan to keep some in my freezer with my other “regular” seitan at all times.

Tacos de Asador translates to “Tacos charred over an open flame”. Outside of the seitan and mojo de ajo, the first recipe I made was from this chapter. The layers of flavor in this taco were truly mind-melting. From the fiery yet flavorful habanero salsa, to the simple guacamole, to the tangy onions, down to the depth of flavor in the seitan, we were absolutely hooked. One thing to note: I made this using the indoor oven variation, which calls for 4 hours of baking. Next time, I’m going to only bake it for 45 minutes or so. The longer baking resulted in a really chewy (almost jerky texture), which might be the way it’s supposed to be, but I think we’d like it baked for a shorter time.

Tacos with Yucatecan-Style Barbecue Sauce (with Pickled Onions, Chopped Guacamole, and Dog Nose Salsa)

The next chapter is Tacos de Guisados, which means stewed fillings. From here, we tried the Tacos with a Durango Stew. As with most (if not all) recipes, Jason includes options for using seitan, beans, or vegetables. These also wowed us. The recipe uses two kinds of chiles in a tomato-based sauce. We opted for the seitan in the filling, and it all balanced perfectly with the fresh toppings, spiked with the Taco Guacamole Salsa. We topped this taco with the Chiles de Arbol Salsa, which I can’t recommend enough. We will always have some of this in our refrigerator to add flavor (and heat) to loads of dishes. I didn’t get nearly the yield the recipe states, but that could be due to pepper size.

Tacos with a Durango Stew, Taco Guacamole Salsa, and Chiles de Arbol Salsa

In Tacos de Comal – that’s sauteed fillings to us – we tried the Sonoran Tacos first. This was the most “American” taco to us. The photo for this one has disappeared, but you can get the recipe below.

From the same chapter, we tried the Bricklayer Tacos. These just might be my favorite in the book… so far. It was too hard to choose between seitan and mushrooms, so I used half the amount of both. The headnote refers to a “maple and salt hack” which I couldn’t find. So I added a bit of maple syrup, a bit of tamari (I know.. sacrilegious…) and bit of liquid smoke to achieve a slight “bacony taste”. The taco also uses jalapeños in the tomato-based sauce and just screams flavor. Take a look!

Filling for the Bricklayer Tacos

Chapter 8 is Tacos Dorados (Rolled tacos, fried golden crisp) Surprisingly, I have yet to try recipes from this chapter and also the basket tacos (chapter 10), the Fusion Tacos (chapter 13) and the desserts (chapter 12). But I will soon. Only so many meals…. so many times to have tacos!

Los Otros Tacos (other tacos), chapter 9, includes Michoacan-Style Carnitas. While all the dishes are easy to make (and most have components you can make ahead), this one was especially fun. The recipe uses orange slices in the sauce (I opted for the dark beer variation). The pulp of the orange just disappears into the sauce, which seems like magic to me. It’s the little things, right? The sauce is crazy good, and I’m here to tell you that you don’t need the optional shortening. We topped this one with a little cabbage and onion that was dressed with a chile de arbol mayo mixture. It gave a simple yet spicy crunch to the taco, which already had a complex, incredible sauce. Since I still had some beer left, we had these with the Drunken Salsa, which is probably Jim’s favorite salsa we’ve tried. This is also my first attempt at corn tortillas!

Michoacan-Style Carnitas with slaw and Drunken Salsa

From chapter 11 (Tacos Mananeros or Breakfast Tacos), we tried the Breakfast Tacos with Poblano Strips, Mojo Scramble, and Pinto Beans. We used black beans in this instead of pintos, and these were such a satisfying way to start the day! The green olives played off the chile powders in ways I never would have guessed. We had the Mojo de Ajo Potatoes on the side- and so should you! They didn’t make the photo though.

Breakfast Tacos with Poblano Strips, Mojo Scramble, and Beans

Parte Tres is Toppings, Sides, and Drinks, which includes all the amazing salsa and guacamole recipes, side dishes, and even a variety of beverages, both alcoholic and not!

The bottom line on this book is that Jason Wyrick knows and loves tacos. The book is jam-packed with information, recipes, and experience, to help you make the best tacos you’ll ever have. It’s the kind of book that will quickly get worn from use, and you’ll love it more with each recipe you make. I know I am. I have at least another dozen recipes already marked.

Can’t wait to get started? Check out these other recipes- act fast, they might have giveaways, too!

Lazy Smurf features Hominy and Seitan in Roasted Garlic Cascabel Sauce

Vampire Tacos at Vegan Main Street

Vedged Out has Mushroom Tacos

Sonoran Tacos over at Zsu’s Vegan Pantry

Tacos de Guacamole from Vegenista

Veggie Girl shared the Grilled Lime Margarita recipe

Want to win your own copy? Leave a comment on this blog telling me something about tacos. The winner will be drawn randomly on 9/24. Shipping to the United States and Canada only, please. Thank you to Jason Wyrick and Vegan Heritage Press for the contest. Good luck!

One last thing: don’t forget to enter my freekeh contest, too!

Free Freekeh Recipe Collection and Contest!

I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for whole grains for lots of reasons: they taste great, are incredibly versatile, and on top of that, they’re good for you, too! This past year, I’ve been on a freekeh binge. If I had to choose one whole grain to eat for the rest of my life, it would be freekeh. September is Whole Grain Month, so I thought it was the perfect time to revisit the grain, and hopefully sway a few more of you to try it.

Freekeh and Kale SaladFreekeh and Kale Salad

Freekeh is an ancient grain from the Mid-East. It’s actually wheat which is harvested while still young and green. Sorry, Celiacs, this one is definitely not for you. For those of us who are wheat-friendly, get this: freekeh is fiber-rich, packed with protein, and comes in low on the glycemic index. The grain is available in a whole form and a cracked form (similar to bulghur). I’ve used it (and loved it) in pilafs, salads, breads, soups… you name it. If you’d like a pdf of the recipes that I’ve already posted on this blog, click here to get them in one neat and easy document. To learn more about freekeh, visit Freekehlicious.

Ready to give it a try? This is what you are looking for!

Freekehlicious Pouches

Freekeh is popping up more and more on regular grocery store shelves. I’ve been able to get here in Ohio for quite some time, but some of our recipe testers had a slightly tougher time. Chances are you can find it in your store, or make a request. But one lucky reader will actually get 2 bags of the grain delivered straight to their home, courtesy of Freekehlicious! 

Enter now! United States shipping only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aimee is the winner! Congratulations, Aimee!

Corn Waffles

Here in Ohio, corn season is in full swing. I start buying corn way before it is at it’s super sweet peak, just because I don’t want to miss the very first ears that exceed my expectations. Of course, that means we eat a lot of so-so corn in anticipation. But now is the time that the sweetest of the sweet corn is hitting the markets here. Once  we’ve eaten our fill straight from the cobs, or if we have leftovers, I turn to corn salads, fried corn and now… these incredible waffles. Sweetened with the corn itself, the waffles are light with a delightful texture thanks to the corn meal and the corn kernels.

Corn Waffles

 

Corn Waffles

2 cups corn kernels, cut from cooked cobs, divided

3/4 cup vegan milk

1 tablespoon Sucanat

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons corn meal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Nonstick cooking spray

Vegan butter and pure maple syrup, for serving

Combine 1 cup of corn, the milk, sucanat, oil, and vanilla in a blender. Process until smooth.

Whisk the flour, corn meal, baking powder, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Whisk in the blended mixture, but don’t worry about any lumps. Add the remaining cup of corn, and a splash more of milk if the mixture is too thick.

Heat a waffle iron. Spray the iron with nonstick spray, then cook the waffles according to manufacturer’s directions. For a small iron, use 1/2 cup batter per waffle.

Yield: 3 (7-inch)  waffles

One more thing: Don’t miss our Win This Quilt! event happening on Facebook.  You can stay warm and cozy, and help animals at the same time. Good luck!

Maple-Fermented Blueberries

Here in Ohio, our peach season is nonexistent this year. All the blossoms froze. Peaches are my very favorite fruit, so I’ve had to look for other fruits to console me. These fermented blueberries are helping.  I’ve also been on a fermenting kick, and these have to be the simplest project to date, and also one of the most successful. The idea for them came from a fermentation group on facebook, but they used honey. Maple syrup is a natural stand-in for vegans, and proved to be an incredibly tasty one.

 

Maple Fermented Blueberries

This is really more of a technique than a recipe, especially when you see that it’s so easy it can’t even be considered a recipe! I used a quart jar and a scant 2 pints of organic blueberries. The key is to leave about 1/4 of the top of the jar empty, because the berries will plump a bit. Pour maple syrup (I prefer grade B) over about the bottom 1/3 of the berries. For me, this was about 1/4 cup, but let your eyes be your judge. Put the top on the jar and turn the jar over to coat all the berries with syrup. You can also roll the jar in your hands to be sure they are covered. Put the jar on the counter and cover it with a towel. Twice a day, turn the jar to coat the berries again. Eventually, the berries will begin to ferment and create juice that mixes with the syrup and nearly covers the blueberries. Start tasting the berries after the second or third day. You’re looking for a slight pop, a sweet tang, and some gorgeous foam. With temperatures in the mid 70s, my berries took 5 days. When they are fermented to your taste, store them in the refrigerator.

French Toaste with Maple Fermented Berries

These have an incredible gourmet taste and are wonderful over french toast, waffles, pancakes, ice cream, you name it! If you’d like, you can add a split vanilla bean , a piece of cinnamon stick, or probably even a couple sprigs of an herb. We prefer the straight taste of the fermented berries. The syrup acts as a preservative, but if you see any signs of mold, discard the project and start again. While I haven’t tried this with any other fruit, it seems it should work with all berries and stone fruit. If you give it a try, let me know what you think!

Speaking of ice cream…. did you see the last post? Enter!