Once again, this recipe comes to you courtesy of multi-generational living, via my daughter. During July and August she prepared this bolognese sauce whenever the tomatoes threatened to take the kitchen hostage. The wide variety of vegetables make the sauce a banquet of flavors mingling together. And it’s a good way to clean out the vegetables languishing in the fridge. Just remember that the secret of good sauce is to let it simmer for several hours. So you’ll be wise to start it right after lunch. But be warned–smelling the sauce all afternoon will work up a big appetite. So make plenty!
Clean Out the Vegetable Drawer Bolognese Sauce
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced very fine
2 carrots, diced very fine
2 stalks celery, diced very fine
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
4 or 5 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons or more olive oil
2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
1/4 cup red or white wine
balsamic vinegar (optional)
In deep, heavy pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté onions, carrots and celery until onions are translucent. While sautéing the vegetables, add the salt. Add the cauliflower, chopped into small pieces, roughly the size of cooked ground beef.
When the vegetables begin to brown, add the ground beef. Cook until the beef is browned. Add in the garlic, pressed or chopped finely. Add the tomatoes. Stir and let the mixture come to a simmer. Simmer the sauce until the tomatoes and the juice reduce and thicken, 2–3 hours.
Once reduced, add wine. Simmer for a bit and taste. Add more salt if needed. Keep in mind that favors will be stronger in the end. Let the sauce simmer and reduce for about an hour more. The end product shouldn’t be chunky but not watery, rather than saucy like marinara. The tomato and red wine should stick to the meat and vegetables much like stir fry sauce does. Taste again. The flavor should be rich and savory. If it’s a little weak ,add 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, stir and let cook for 10 more minutes. Serve over spaghetti noodles.
Along our gravel road, cookies are considered an art form. Within that art form, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies sit at its summit. I thought I had scaled that particular peak with a wonderful dairy-free recipe that uses “futter,” Gravel Road’s affectionate term for all non-dairy shortenings. However, my daughter found a no shortening recipe from the Half-Baked Harvest website. The daughter’s version cuts the sugar and chocolate chips by half and uses dairy-free chocolate chips (this time from Trader Joe’s) so it is really, truly a non-dairy delight.
No Futter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Put eggs, sugar, oats, flour, soda, salt, canola oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix them well by hand. Mixture will be crumbly. If it is too dry, add a few tablespoons of rice milk, cashew milk, or some other milk substitute. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.
Use your hands to make balls of dough and place them on heated baking stones. Press the balls down with your hand. Bake 10-12 minutes. Let them sit on the baking stone a few moments before removing them from the baking stone.
Sharing the kitchen with my daughter and her family has many advantages. One of the greatest advantages is that I am in charge of only half the meals. Another is the opportunity to learn new recipes from the cook who’s in charge of the other half of the meals. Here’s her take on chicken salad. I never would have guessed how much cauliflower can add to this simple dish.
Anne’s Chicken Salad
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
4 large pickle spears, chopped
1 small head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Saute cauliflower in olive oil until some pieces begin to brown. Remove from heat.
Combine chicken, onion, celery, pickles, and cauliflower in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 2-4 hours before serving with your favorite bread or on a bed of lettuce.
A new conundrum has arisen in our Gravel Road kitchen. In addition to having several adults in the house who have dairy allergies or lactose intolerant, the toddler has begun to sprout a terrible diaper rash when he’s fed soy. So the most available version of Earth Balance, our favorite butter substitute known affectionately as “futter,” is off limits to him. (Earth Balance has a soy free version, but it is almost impossible to find where we live.)
Thankfully, my daughter discovered a recipe for a very good vegan butter substitute created by Miyoko Shinner. Her recipe offers variations for baking futter (regular and hard versions), spreading, futter, and unsalted futter. The daughter has fiddled with the recipe and perfected a version that is very good for baking and meets all our high maintenance dietary needs.
Gravel Road Futter
- Combine all ingredients in blender and process at a medium speed for about one minute.
- Pour into a container of your choice*
- Set it in the refrigerator for a few hours until hard.
For a Harder Futter substitute ¼ cup of the melted coconut oil with ¼ cup melted cocoa butter. Reduce liquid oil by 1 tablespoon.
For Whipped Futter increase the liquid oil by one tablespoon, and process at high speed in the blender for about 2 minutes to incorporate as much air as possible. (We have tried this version several times without success.)
For Unsalted Futter leave out the salt.
*We use mini-loaf pans that hold 1 cup each. Once the futter is hard, it can be cut into 1/2 cup sticks the same size as regular sticks of butter or margarine.
It’s takes a village to feed a high maintenance eater like me. So I’m thankful my village is populated with people like my big sister who keep their eyes open for delicious dairy-free recipes. She’s the villager who sent an email with this recipe for shrimp tacos. The dish is packed with vegetables that are plentiful during the summer months. Plus, it uses olive oil rather than butter to cook the shrimp and doesn’t suggest using cheese or sour cream as a garnish.
Because this recipe is truly dairy-free, there was no need to substitute ingredients or to omit others. Everyone at our house agreed it was delicious and a perfect meal to enjoy at the end of a lovely summer day. The tweaks I made are designed to keep the heat out of the kitchen in case a lovely summer day is also a hot one.
1 pound raw shrimp. peeled and devaeined
1 lime, juiced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 avocados, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dry Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
12-6 inch tortillas
- Turn slow cooker on high. Wrap tortillas in foil and place in the slow cooker to warm for 30 minutes.
- Gently mix tomatoes, onion, avocados, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Saute for about 3 minutes, turning often until shrimp are pink and cooked through.
- Put shrimp, tortillas, and vegetable mixture in separate serving dishes for diners to assemble at the table.
For the past week, our refrigerator has been playing host to a pint of blueberries, a large zucchini, and some lemons that need to be used. So when a recipe for blueberry zucchini cake with lemon buttercream frosting appeared in my Facebook news feed, it caught my eye.
The original recipe was very high in sugar and the frosting used butter, so I decided to fiddle with the ingredients and convert the cake into a glazed quick bread. The taste testers at my house (not the Man of Steel since he eats very few desserts these days) all liked the tasty treat. They thought it tastes more like pound cake than quick bread, and I have to agree. We enjoyed one loaf and froze the other to avoid overdosing on too much lemony goodness.
Lemon-Blueberry Zucchini Bread
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
2 cups finely shredded zucchini
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 pint fresh blueberries
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 2 loaf pans.
In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Fold in the zucchini. Slowly add in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix in by hand. Gently fold in the blueberries. Divide batter evenly between prepared loaf pans.
Bake 40-50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Put lemon juice, zest, and water in a small bowl. Whisk in powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time until it is the consistency you like for glaze. Use a fork to poke holes all over the top of each loaf. With a spoon, drizzle the loaves with glaze until the top is well coated.