quick note: storing squash blossoms

Inspired by this post by Gayla Trail and stocking up on squash blossoms while they're cheap at the farmers market, I decided to do a quick-and-dirty experiment. I kept one bunch in the refrigerator in a sealed glass jar with no water and another bunch in a jar on the counter with the stems in some water overnight.

squash blossoms: cold stored and countertop

It's kind of a terrible picture since it's taken at night in my kitchen but I think you can tell that the refrigerated blossoms were in much better shape! The countertop blossoms are shriveled and dry - and one has even fallen off its stem while the ones from the refrigerator are still fresh and pliant.  I'll be storing my squash blossoms in the refrigerator from now on.

Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen is available for pre-order!

I had a ball testing out recipes for Joni Marie Newman's upcoming cookbook: Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen! It's been really interesting cooking a little differently than how I usually do and it's been fun to flex my culinary muscles and see the process of recipe development. As a bonus, I got to meet Joni in person at VVC, which was wonderful - she was incredibly nice. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now! Here's a sneak preview from my own little kitchen.

I made a lot more sauces than I usually do. 

 

what's the collective noun for jars of sauces? 

I also made a lot of noodle bowls.

faux pho broth

But then, I really love noodle bowls.

purple cabbage, black sesame seeds, noodles

There's one recipe in particular that became an instant household favorite.

pasta, roasted red peppers, amazing vegan cheese sauce

These are just a few highlights - being a roving, freelance, forensic recipe tester was a great experience.  I hope I get the chance to do this again and I can't wait to see the final product!

 

mac & cheese, please

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In further adventures in recipe testing, I tested a recipe for vegan mac & cheese that came in pretty handy this week when my poor omnivorous sweetheart came down with a terrible bug and had to stay home from work. This was the requested lunch and I was happy to oblige. Vegan mac & cheese that's so omni-friendly it's comfort food on sick days? Indeed! 

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tofu, happily ever after

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Once upon a time I thought making my own tofu was impossible. Of course, once upon a time I'd eat a can of chickpeas for dinner and call it a day. Times have changed! Though I still love chickpeas.

It started with Hodo Soy. Delicious, fresh, non-GMO, medium textured Hodo Soy. Aseptic packaged tofu from the grocery store paled in comparison; my omnivorous sweetheart turned out to like fresh tofu, so I knew we  could never go back. When the Hodo Soy stand left our usual farmers market, I tracked it down at another, then another. Then it left the East Bay farmers markets completely! I hunted it down, packaged, at Berkeley Bowl West, then at Whole Foods. One day, the medium tofu was inexplicably gone forever. I started hoarding the firm tofu. What were we to do? "You'll have to start making tofu," my omnivorous sweetheart said.

I bought Andrea Nguyen's Asian Tofu. It started to seem possible. Then she put together a tiny kit for purchase. It started to seem impossible not to.

Her instructions are clear and her troubleshooting tips super helpful. I won't reprint the recipe here, but I really do recommend picking up either Asian Tofu or the smaller e-book. I do have some notes for first time tofu makers!

 


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notes

Be sure to use a large enough pot when cooking the initial soymilk. It foams! It rises! It really, really does. I had to stop halfway through the first simmer and pour it out into a larger pot. Dangerous! Even if you think it's silly to use that giant soup stockpot, do it.

Save the pulp that results from straining the soymilk. This is okara, a food in itself, high in protein and fiber. Traditionally it can be simmered in broth or sautéed with vegetables; it can also be added to baked goods or hot cereals. I made a scramble with some of my first batch and it was incredibly - almost alarmingly! - eggy in texture.

If you, like me, stock up on cartons of pumpkin purée during the autumn months, surprise! A one pound carton fits perfectly into the top of some particular tofu molds. You can also use a colander instead of a specialized mold if you don't mind having a non-rectangular block.

Be very careful when moving your brand new block of tofu from the press to your partially water-filled storage container. New tofu is delicate! Be equally careful when topping off the water to completely cover the block, use low pressure.

Clean up quickly - soymilk and tofu both are very, very sticky.

Feel like a wizard! You just made tofu! 

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te amo, aguacate

avocado, you're the one for me

Recipe testing has been pretty interesting! I've been learning a lot  since I have to follow the recipe exactly - for science! - and not improvise by skipping or changing steps or switching up ingredients. I didn't think I was a crazy free-wheeler in the kitchen or anything, mind you. 

When I saw a tester recipe that included avocado in a sweet application, I was a goner. My omni sweetheart says I'm forever putting sweet things in savory dishes and savory things in sweet dishes. 

Of course, once my omni sweetheart tasted a paleta de aguacate y limón, it was like the heavens parted. It turns out there was a devious plan and a secret hope that it would not be very tasty and I would be cured of at least one savory dessert inspiration. But we were both blown away  - it was so creamy, so lush, so tart. The very next week the gentleman I buy avocados from (2 a week) at the farmers market was selling 10 avocados for $10, so my path was clear.

 

I can't give you the tester recipe for the avocado dessert, but I can give you the recipe for those long-ago avocado paletas.  It's the same as Fany Gerson's in her awesome love-letter to Paletas, but I doubled up on the lime juice and added the zest in as well. They are ridiculously good.


paletas de aguacate y limón doble

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 small ripe avocados
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 limes for zest and lime juice

 

You'll need a zester, a small saucepan, a blender, and popsicle molds and sticks. Zest (first) and juice (second) your limes and allow the lime juice to sit while you complete the remainder of the recipe.

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature. 

Cut the avocados in half lengthwise. Remove the pit and scoop the flesh into a blender, along with the cooled syrup and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Add the lime juice and zest and blend just until combined.

If using conventional molds, divide the mixture among the molds, snap on the lid, and freeze until solid, about 5 hours. If using glasses or other unconventional molds, freeze until the pops are beginning to set (1 1/2 to 2 hours), then insert the sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours. If using an instant ice pop maker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

paletas de aguacate y limón doble

I can't give you the recipe for the tester avocado dessert - but I can show you a picture! Feast your eyes on the verdant tart below. 

top secret 00recipe - her avocado's secret service!