I’m against kids playing contact sports like football but they do and this girl is amazing.
This past Spring we moved into our tiny cottage. One of the first things we did was plant a garden. This was actually a doomed process as the yield was 2 tiny peppers… Sad but true. These photos are from our optimistic start. We planted organic tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, kale, cabbage, and peppers. Right now it’s a much sadder sight and sadder still since we’ve been informed by our landlord that he will be selling this property so we won’t have the option to renew our lease. $100 garden down the drain… BUT it was beautiful to look at and it was fun to maintain, so for that I’m happy we did it. The entire garden you see (minus the cinder block garden) was buried beneath years brush and rubbish. The last photo is of the steps I exhumed, you couldn’t even see them. This is actually the second home with hidden outdoor steps I’ve found and dug out…. I replaced the stones on these steps as well- The tops step is finished in this picture and the bottom step is not. The tiny boarder you see was also buried beneath years of brush, rubbish, and neglect. My favorite part of living in an older home is finding all of the hidden signs of love and care from years before.
Back when I was a teenager my brother gifted me Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin and I fell in love. The characters were so well developed, complex and real. I was addicted. In under 2 months I obtained and read all of the books in the series. They made me happy and sad to the point I literally cried. Every few years I would re-read them, usually on a vacation. Fast forward a few years and Mr. Maupin released Michael Tolliver Lives, which I purchased right away! A little while after that he wrote Mary Ann in Autumn.
This week I picked it up from the library and loved it… So this is short but Armistead Maupin and his Tales of the City series really make me happy. If you haven’t read them, go take them out from the library!
It was a tradition in my home growing up that we got to pick whatever we wanted to eat on our birthdays. For me it was always the same: Baked ziti and a cookie puss ice cream cake. I can’t even type “cookie puss” without laughing on the inside.. How dirty. A sure sign of my budding lesbianism…. Actually though, it was a sure sign of my “if it’s free it’s for me” mentality- with cookie puss you got an ice cream cake AND and an ice cream cone!!! Bonus! But I digress… The real star of the show was my mothers baked ziti. I loved it in a very serious way. The chunky ricotta cheese, the stringy mozzarella that would stretch when it was scopped from serving bowl to dinner plate… I loved it. Below is my own rendition of my moms baked ziti. The tofu gives it a rocotta-esq taste while the daiya stretches and melts. So yummy.
The photo below may not be the prettiest but I assure you, it’s a photo pure deliciousness.
Small but deep baking dish (I use glass) and 1 larger cookie sheet.
8 oz brown rice pasta- preferably ziti (I use Trader Joes- it’s only $1.99!) *wheat pasta will work also.
3/4 or a full jar of pre-made tomato sauce
1 Tsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 small onion- chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic- chopped
5 White button Mushrooms- sliced
1/4 bag Mozzarella Daiya Cheese (you can use more if you like)
1/2 block pressed tofu (any firmness will do but I prefer soft)
5 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
1 Tsp Black salt (regular salt will work)
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Onion Powder
Mix together the nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Add the pressed tofu to the mixture and crumble/mix with your hands. Add 1/2 the daiya cheese to the mixture and mix. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Boil water for pasta
Saute onion in oil until transparent (about 3 minutes)
Add the garlic and saute for 45 seconds.
Add mushrooms, saute until the mushrooms fully release their moisture (about 4 minutes)
Mix tomato sauce, sauteed mix, dried oregano, and dried basil in a pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer- stirring often.
At this point your pasta water should be boiling. Add pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the lowest recommended cooking time. The pasta should be very al dente (it will cook further when baked).
Drain pasta and combine with tofu mixture and 3/4 of the tomato sauce in the baking dish. Top with the last 1/4 of tomato sauce and top with the remaining daiya cheese. Cover the baking pan with the cookie sheet. You can also cover the dish with foil but I find it wasteful, a cookie sheet works even better than foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes
Serves 4 generously.
In my book anything French is fancy and probably better than its US equivalent. That might not be patriotic, but it’s my humble opinion. Have you ever visited Paris? The entire city blows any American city out of the water. You never wait more than 5 minutes for a train, the people are beautiful, men are actually gentlemen, and basically everything about the city is pure loveliness. So that brings me to my fancy plum tarte tatin. The tarte tatin originated 100 miles south of Paris, France and it’s a caramelized upside-down cake made in a cast iron skillet (my favorite!). Here is my recipe for a vegan version of a wholey non-vegan french cake. If you eat it in Paris, it’ll taste even better.
Plum Tarte Tatin
12″ Cast iron skillet (if larger or smaller you’ll need to add/subtract plums from the recipe)
1 sheet of Puff Pastry or 4 sheets phyllo dough (if you cannot find puff pastry)
6 Tbsp Vegan Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (can be light or dark)
1/4 tsp salt
13 Plums (cut in half with pit removed)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
Once melted remove from heat and slowly add brown sugar and salt
Place the plums (cut side down) into the pan until they are tightly packed in
Return to medium heat and let simmer for 7 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat
Cut your dough to the size of the skillet (does not have to be exact) and add your sheet of puff pastry or 4 sheets of phyllo dough to the top of the tarte
If baking with puff pastry, bake for about 32 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
If baking with phyllo dough, bake for 15-17 minutes or until deep golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-20 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate.