Sunday, July 6, 2008

Soul Food Feast

This idea was swiped from a blog that I get a lot of inspiration from. I have noticed that she isn't updating much lately, but I like to look through her past recipes for ideas. Anyway, it was the fourth of July a few days ago, and we didn't have plans until much later in the day. Eugene is fortunate this year to have the Track and Field Olympic trials going on at Hayward Field. We had planned to bike down and watch the 5000m run because Lauren, the wife of a guy in John's program, was competing. She did really well, although she did not qualify for the Olympics.
I really wanted to grill something but that would be tough considering we don't have a grill. We were offered one a few weeks ago but John turned it down. I am still a tad bitter! To compensate, I decided to take on a massive day of cooking Soul Food. I originally thought to invite a few people over because I knew we would have a lot of food but by the time I worked it out in my head, it was too late, people already had dinner plans. More leftovers for us.
The main course consisted of Zucchini Patties, Spicy Black Eyed Peas, Collard Greens, and Corn Bread. For dessert, Peach Cobbler and Vanilla Island Coconut Bliss.
The Zucchini Patties were very easily veganized. I used Spelt flour (instead of all-purpose), vegan Sesame Parmesan Cheese, Orgran No-Egg, Nasoya (instead of mayo), and Earth Balance (instead of butter). The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of zucchini; I used three medium (easily "shredded" in the food processor). I also added 1/4 cup of frozen corn (copied from Lauren!) Delicious. Next time, I will cook them on lower heat for a little bit longer. The outsides of mine got crispy, which was a GREAT thing, but the insides were still very soft.
I followed the recipe for the Spicy Black Eyed Peas almost exactly. I did mistakenly use a can of crushed tomatoes instead of whole. The two cans were sitting side by side on the counter, I grabbed, opened, and poured, all before I realized it was the wrong can! Instead of having chunks of tomatoes along with the black eyed peas, mine was covered in tomatoes sauce. Still tasted great! I resisted the recommendations to add more spices; I am not a fan of too much heat! But next time, I will work up to a spicier flavor.
Now, I did not search for a recipe for Collard Greens. I cook greens all the time, kale, spinach, mustard greens, etc. I de-veined the leaves, washed, ripped into appropriate pieces. Heated olive oil and garlic and in they went! The only problem is that Collard Greens need to cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours!! I saved them for last because, as with the other greens I make, I assumed they would take less than 10 minutes. In summary, if you ever decided to make them with a meal, start them first! We ended up eating them, but they were definitely not as soft as they should be. AMAZING flavor though!
I am not a huge fan of corn bread, but didn't see the meal being complete without it. The recipe is in the comments section of this blog entry. BEST cornbread I have ever eaten...and that says a lot! The only change I made was substituting Safflower oil for the canola and Almond Milk for the soy.
And, to wrap the feast up, Peach Cobbler. I will make this recipe again and again with peaches, and blueberries, and apples, and who knows what else! Here are the adjustments I made to this fantastic recipe: 1 TB arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch, 1/2 cup Almond Milk instead of soy, and for the shortening, I used Earth Balance Natural Shortening sticks. We added Vanilla Island Coconut Bliss to top it off.
I won't have the ambition to make this meal again for a while, but am happy I had initial success cooking vegan Soul Food!

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