Posts Tagged ‘garden’

I think we got more rain after Hermine passed than the initial blast.  That made riding the bike around just impossible.

Well, when it rains and is crappy out, you have to find shelter.  Where else better than a kitchen with a gallon of good beer?  Oh yeah, and food.

I was going for Eggplant Parmesan, but I decided to get creative and make it into a chili too.

Start with skinning & dicing two small eggplants.  Throw some salt on it & get it to “sweat” the bitterness out.  You can put it in a colander so that the liquid drains easily.  Let that sit for about twenty minutes and saute it in a pan with a little bit of oil until it’s browned.

In a large pot, take a diced yellow onion, four chopped tomatoes, a minced clove of garlic,1t salt, 2T of oil and set the pot on medium, mixing occasionally.  It will eventually be a base marinara(stop there if you want marinara).

This stuff is going to be marinara soon.  Then chili after.

This stuff is going to be marinara soon. Then chili after.

Mince up a couple of your favorite peppers(I used a Hungarian wax & a datil), grab 2T of Italian spices(oregano, basil, thyme, sage, etc.) and throw those in the pot with the marinara.

Fresh from the garden.  Doesn't get much better.

Fresh from the garden. Doesn’t get much better.

We're getting there.

We’re getting there.

Once everything is incorporated nicely, add 4C water, 3C cooked pinto beans, & 3T chili powder.  Cover it up and let it cook for a long time.

The water will reduce some.

The water will reduce some.

From there, you’ve got a bit of time…probably an hour or so, so just grab a beer and watch the storm roll in on a preferably enclosed porch.  Maybe even look down to see a friend with you in the kitchen.

I looked down.  He looked up.  He also had onion paper on his nose.

I looked down. He looked up. He also had onion paper on his nose.

After you’re finished spending an hour however you’d like, add the sautéed eggplant from before to the mix.  It should be noticeably chunkier now.

This is noticeably chunkier than before.

This is noticeably chunkier than before.

Let that simmer for another ten minutes while you cook some noodles or rice or whatever you like with Eggplant Parmesan Chili, not that you’ve had it before, but get creative….that’s what a kitchen’s all about.

Put the mix on top of whatever you’ve decided on & follow-up with some almond Parmesan or just plain ol’ nutritional yeast to get a little veg cheese action going.  It might look like this:

Now that's some storm comfort food there.

Now that’s some storm comfort food there.

Once the storm is over, hug your fur babies and get some incriminating pictures of them.

Okay, it's not incriminating, but it's pretty cute what Cinder's doing here.

Okay, it’s not incriminating, but it’s pretty cute what Cinder’s doing here.

….aaaaand that’s how you enjoy some time in a tropical depression.  Or in this case, a humid sadness.

Just kidding.  Hope everyone’s okay & has electric back and such.  I’m glad it didn’t hit as bad as what a lot of the meteorologists were freaking out about Hermine, but they’re all out there for the big scoop and the exaggeration.  Now, enjoy some Chili.  Or Eggplant Parmesan.  Or whatever you want to call it.



It seems like just last week I wrote a post.

Because it was.

That helped immensely.  Writing has always been my go to when it comes to issues I might have in life.  I’ll take a second to write something down, sketch a little, anything to take that moment & make it a learning experience.

Because I love learning experiences.  They make me feel like I’m still just a baby, learning everything for the first time, which can be exciting, but also annoying because it hasn’t been perfected right off the bat.  I’m usually pretty good at being well-balanced when it comes to learning new things & abilities, but it’s really easy to catch me off-guard if I don’t know something in particular.  Like what the Latin name for a grasshopper’s back leg is.

Or the Latin name of what a Big Mac really is(I doubt it has a legitimate Latin name).

I am a self-proclaimed jack of all trades, and definitely not a master of all.  I’m happy with that, mainly because if I was good at just one thing, I’d get grouped into a particular area & that just doesn’t fit me.  I’d want to encompass everything & be level, not just be good at one thing.  I’m forever curious & want to know new things.  It’s not a bad place to live.

I learn along the way & the guidelines are simple:  don’t make life too complicated.  Those rules that life throws at you?  Ask routinely if they are necessary.  Question everything, because so many won’t.  I still don’t ask as many questions as I should, and maybe that should change.  Probably not though, because I like having at least two friends.  When it comes down to it though, there isn’t any absolute, and so in all seriousness you should ask the strange questions.  You don’t get anywhere but into some sort of line by following everyone else.

I managed to work a lot & have a bit of fun this week though.

I even spent nearly two hours straight jumping around in the ocean by myself.  If that isn’t a bit of a soul cleanser, I don’t know what is.

Julie & I did the podcast thing again, and I apologize for NOTHING.

After that, I went to the community garden, weeded a bunch, & grabbed what I thought was a giant bag of elderberries.  That ended up being about a cup of them once I pulled them from the stem & rinsed them.

I hope they're Elderberries at least.  Or at least have hallucinogenic properties.

I hope they’re Elderberries at least. Or at least have hallucinogenic properties.

From there, I threw them in a saucepan & covered them with water.

I turned the heat to about medium to give a slow simmer & added a diced sand pear(really good for baking, but awesome for pancakes or sauces you want to naturally sweeten).  I’d imagine an apple would do the same if you were in a bind.  Let that go for about a half of an hour, adding little bits of water if need be.

Like a cauldron of goodness, this is.

Like a cauldron of goodness, this is.

Once the whole concoction is purplish, throw it in a blender & then put it back in the pan.  Add two tablespoons of maple syrup & simmer for a few minutes.  Then, just put that into a jar & chill it.  It should set up as it cools down.  I’ve read that there are some natural pectins in the berries themselves that aid in the setting.

Who needs to wait until they're old to blend everything?  Not this guy.

Who needs to wait until they’re old to blend everything? Not this guy.

Have you got any sourdough bread?  I like to always have some on hand.  Community Loaves is my go to here in Jacksonville.  Put that jam on a couple of pieces of that & enjoy.

"Without bread, I am nothing." -Jam

“Without bread, I am nothing.” -Jam

That’s it.  Just wanted to write & experiment with berries that I found, no laws against that yet that I know of.

Here are some pictures of dogs.

I just told him a joke.  He's not really smiling, this is his grimacing face.

I just told him a joke. He’s not really smiling, this is his grimacing face.

I must be boring.  They sleep A LOT.

I must be boring. They sleep A LOT.

When there's vegan pizza involved, someone is always near, guarding the floor like a miniature marsupial with magnificent manners.

When there’s vegan pizza involved, someone is always near, guarding the floor like a miniature marsupial with magnificent manners.

Was sent some pure awesomeness yesterday:  “Work hard, make friends, do good deeds, be somebody!”

I couldn’t agree more.

Have a great week.

Well, I went & got tattoos.


That’s two of them at the same time.  It’s either just because I can, or just because I wanted to get them out of the way.  I’ve been talking about getting them done for some time & have had them drawn up as well, just needed that final touch.

Now, there is a looming problem when you look at tattoos and you’re vegan.  Some of the black pigment in the inks is made from burnt up animal bone.  There is also the potential for the use of glycerin, derived from animal fats, in a tattoo artist’s tool belt.  Not all black pigment is animal bone, not all glycerin is animal-derived; don’t get worried yet.

The only thing you have to do is ask.  Ask the artist if they use these things or not, and sometimes you’ll be surprised.  You can also go to known vegan artists or artists that mix their own inks & have great knowledge of what is in them.  The problem with most commercial ink brands is that they aren’t necessarily required to list ingredients because they are typically regarded as a coloring agent similar to printer ink by the FDA.

The solution, once more, is to ask.  There are great brands out there that are quite popular & already out there with the tattoo community that have no animal products in them like Stable.

That all said, here”s a collage of the new ink:

My pup Cinder takes after me in her photobombing skills.

My pup Cinder takes after me in her photobombing skills.

Okay, so you might not know it, but you are reading a superstar’s blog right now.

Maybe a celebrity.

Alright, just a regular guy with a super sense of vegan food artistry that got pulled up on stage three times during the Jacksonville Home & Patio Show this past weekend.  I still rocked it out.

Well, at least one of those times.  The first one I was a bit nervous, the second I was assisting, the third, rock status was achieved.

And “rocked” might not be the best word.  I DESTROYED it.  Or just had fun, that’s the point.

Like a kid in a candy store!

Like a kid in a candy store!

We’ve been so busy with work that I had absolutely no practice time to try a preliminary recipe, so I threw things that sounded good together & went with it.  That turned out to be great, everyone loved it, and I had a great time.  I think it was a win-win situation.

Plus, this goes to show that throwing things together is a great way to get into cooking.  You can be missing a flavor and add it, you can have too much of something and counterbalance it with something else, or you can get it right the first time too.  No one is perfect.  Except my canine companions.  Sometimes me, but not often.

My personal trick is to smell it.  It’s that easy–smell, adjust, smell again.  I’m always tasting it, but smell is a huge part too.

It’s like when you were a kid & people told you to hold your nose when you ate brussel sprouts & you wouldn’t taste them.

That was just me?

Well, try it with any food.  You won’t taste it until you let go of your nose.  The two work together.

Though I still have yet to try smelling something while holding my tongue.

I digress.  Here’s the easy recipe:

Start with 5 cups of water on a boil & add 4 cups of rice.

Saute two yellow onions in a little olive oil until translucent, add four cloves of garlic(minced), 2 cups of broccoli chopped to dime size, 2 cans of drained & rinsed corn, 4 cups of diced tomatoes, and let that heat for a bit to a simmer.  The tomatoes should provide a saucy, juicy mix.

Next, throw 4 cups of chopped spinach in there, mix, & let sit for just a couple of minutes or until wilted.

Then the fun.

Mix in a cup of chopped fresh cilantro, 3 tablespoons of cumin, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 tablespoons of sweet paprika, 3 tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of pepper, half a tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes, and a half a tablespoon of oregano.  Let that simmer for a few minutes to incorporate the flavors & put that in the pot of rice.  The rice should be a bit soupy as well for this next part.

Add a cup of nutritional yeast.

Mix all of that together & you have something that I have no name for except a southwest “hodgepodge”.  But it was great, and people loved it, even came back for more.  I don’t have any pics of this recipe because I was so busy handing it out to people, but this one is close to peeking over the edge of the pot:

They even gave me a headset so I could ramble incessantly at the crowd.

They even gave me a headset so I could ramble incessantly at the crowd.

Some of the spices above are a variation of a combination that is found in one of the spices that I use at work, but that is a close representation.  Here is what I did on stage if you have access to our online store or can even make it out to the farmer’s markets we work.  In either case, I hope you enjoy!!

Oh yeah, and as for the community garden pic that I promised, here is the beginning:

Just a little before & after pic.  I finished this in a couple days.

Just a little before & after pic. I finished this in a couple days.

Have a great couple of weeks!!