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  • Vanilla Bean & Ginger Peach Pie (With Vegan Coconut Oil Crust)

    Hello! Wow! Summer is flying by...much to my dismay. I am sure you're probably bummed about it too...but what better way to get our positive mindsets in gear for the REST of the season? PIE! And not just any pie. No...no, this has to be special. One that comes just once a year, when the season is right. When you have just discovered that jar of untouched, unopened vanilla beans in your pantry, and 7 perfectly ripened peaches in your fruit bowl. This summer pie is vanilla bean peach pie, spiked with fresh ginger. Yesssss!

    Is there anything more summery than peach pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream? The smell of peeling peaches reminds me of my grandma's homemade canned peaches. Sugar, water and peaches with a bit of cooking/canning magic. Wisconsin grandmothers know how to capture the flavor of summer like pros. And on that note, I am really excited to can tomatoes with her this year!

    Yep-I did say peeling peaches. How to peel a peach? Easy: score an "X" into the bottom of the non-stem end of the peach (see picture below), dunk into simmering water for a few minutes, transfer to ice water to shock and shrink the skin, and then peel away the skin by starting at the corner of the "X" you made. You can do it. Totally worth it. 

    This pie calls for perfectly ripened peaches, some sugar, vanilla beans, lemon, ginger, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and tapioca starch for thickener. This heavenly filling is piled into a lovingly crafted coconut oil crust (or seriously, use whatever crust you like! I love this all-butter one from Deb at Smitten Kitchen). Top with your favorite lattice or just cover with the second slab of pastry, remebering to poke in some vent holes to let the pie breathe and juices thicken. And yes, if you are wondering, pies do breathe. 

    Serve this juicy, summery mess with your favorite ice cream or a dollop of freshly whipped WI cream (please, promise me you won't use that canned crap, ok? And you better double promise to not even dare use that nasty stuff in the blue tub!!). As I professed in my other favorite summer pie post (here), I love Luna & Larry's coconut ice cream in vanilla. It is non-dairy, but is seriously so creamy and rich that you don't even think twice about traditional ice cream when you're eating it. Whatever-your call! Just get on this pie thing...now!

    Note: don't have a vanilla bean? No sweat. Just use 2 tsp of vanilla extract. Don't like ginger? Leave it out! You can certainly substitute dried ginger for the fresh, just be aware the flavor won't be as zingy and fresh. Tapioca starch? Grind tapioca pearls of any size to a fine powder in a spice mill or coffee grinder. I do not like the texture of cornstarch or flour to thicken pies, as I find they take on a slime-y element. In addition, neither are freeze-thaw stable or stand-up to acidic fillings when heated. So get on that tapioca train! And lastly, the pastry recipe can accomodate up to an 11" double crust or lattice topped pie; simply bump up your peach filling by adding in an additional 2 or 3 peaches if making the larger pie.



    Vanilla Bean & Ginger Peach Pie // plant-based; vegan; soy-free; nut-free // Makes 1 9" double crust or lattice-topped pie //

    Crust:

    • 1 recipe coconut oil pie crust, or your favorite homemade pie pastry (see my recommendation for an all-butter pastry above) *I used 50:50 ratio of whole wheat pastry flour and organic all-purpose unbleached for this pie, but feel free to use what you wish, including spelt flour. I also added 2 tsp of coconut vinegar to this batch, and really loved the pop of flavor it gave the pastry (you could also use apple cider or plain vinegar if desired).
    • 2-3TB Almond milk or other milk for brushing top before baking

    Filling:

    • 7-8 medium-large ripe peaches
    • 1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar, coconut sugar or sucanant (bump this up to the 3/4 cup if you like a sweeter pie)
    • 2 TB tapioca starch 
    • 1-2 TB lemon juice
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger (or 1 tsp dried ginger)
    • vanilla seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1-2 tsp vanilla extract)
    • pinch sea salt

    1. Prepare the crust as described in this post. 

    2. When ready to bake the pie, preheat oven to 425F. Get on with the filling by peeling the peaches: bring a medium/large pot of water to a simmer. Score each peach at the non-stem end with an "X", each score being about 1.5" long. Place into simmering water for 2-4 minutes, until the "X" starts to open just slightly. Scoop the peaches out into a bowl of ice water, and allow to sit for a few mintues to cool and shock the skin. With a pearing knife and your fingers, start at a point were the two lines of the "X" meet, and peel the skin away from the peaches. 

    3. Score the peeled peaches in half, and gently twist to get into 2 halves. Take the pit out using the paring knife to help. Cut each half into 5-6 wedges. If your peaches are not free-stone (i.e. they won't come apart...cling stone??!) simply pry in half and do your best at getting the pit out. Doesn't have to be perfect, and peach chunks/cubes work just as well as slices in the filling.

    4. Toss the peaches with the filling ingredients. Plop into the bottom pie crust. Lattice the top of the pie, or simply place the second layer of rolled-out pastry on top, allowing for a 1"-1.5" overhang, folding under and crimping as you desire. Poke a few vent holes in the top with a knife or fork. 

    5. Brush pie with almond milk or whatever milk you want for browning, and bake for 20 minutes at 425F. Turn heat down to 325F after that, and bake for about 35-50 minutes, or until the crust is brown and filling is bubbling throughout the pie. Allow to cool for 1 hour, or until ready to serve. This helps the juices cool and thicken, making for easy-as-pie slicing and serving.



     Start with the pastry. You know what to do! Reference my Srawberry and Rhubarb Pie post if you need some pointers with the coconut oil crust. I added 2 tsp coconut vinegar to mine this time and loved the results. Fat and flour...the start to something beautiful:

    Now, for peeling the peaches. Score the bottoms of the peaches, and then place into simmering water for 3-7 minutes, until the X's begin to open a bit. Plunge into ice water to cool and shock the skins. 

    Peel with the help of a paring knife and clean fingers...behold, naked peaches! 

    Slice in half, free the flesh from the pit with a twist (or just pry open with a paring knife if you don't have free-stone peaches...it is always a surprise!). Slice and/or dice into reasonable pieces:

    Add in the filling ingredients, including the vanilla bean and ginger:

    Mix mix mix...

    Plop into the pastry bottom:

    Top with a lattice, or just lay the other half of the rolled pastry down on the pie. Trim and crimp edges. Don't forget to poke some vent holes, with a sharp paring knife or a fork, into the double-crusted pie, if you go that route.

    Gingerly place onto a parchment lined baking tray and brush with almond (or whatever type) milk. Into a hot oven until bubbly throughout. 

    Admire your handy work...and allow this baby to cool for at least 1 hour to set-up those juices. After that, slice and serve away!

    And go back for seconds! Happy summer'ing!

  • Simple Summer CSA Veggie Salads: Easy Detox Salad + Easy Cabbage Slaw

    Happy summer to you! It is in full swing: hot, humid and relentless feelings of just wanting to lay on the couch in front of a fan with a good book. The past month of July has been pretty decent in WI, but the weather has finally started to be like it should be here-essentially like an armpit. So enter lazy meals requiring minimal effort, leftovers for the next day, and ingredeints that won't weigh you down! 

    Despite my intense craving to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies (stress....I blame you!!), I made this super easy "detox" salad. Yes, I know our bodies do a pretty darn good job of detoxifying and filtering nasty things we are exposed to every day, but sometimes, it feels great to eat food that makes you feel lighter and healthier (especially during the summer and stressful times!). Our CSA has brought us some amazing broccoli and napa cabbage, and last week, my Mom surprised me with some really beautiful cauliflower with purple tones to it! Way to feed the broke grad student daughter, Mom!! The week previous, she gave me a literal grocery bag full of bok choi. I can feel the love!!

    The detox salad below features broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sunflower seeds and currants (or raisins). The original recipe calls for any herbs you'd like, but this time, I left them out. Partially because I have other plans for my parsley, and otherwise because I feel that the flavors of the brassica and fresh carrots are standouts on their own. They don't really need any boost, besides from a hefty squeeze of lemon and some sea salt. 

    The recipe also calls for kelp. Don't fret if you don't have it, it is entirely optional. However, sea vegetables are rich sources of iodine, can be used as a lower sodium alternative to salt, and other minerals such as calcium. Iodine intake is important for our thyroids, and research suggests helps mental function, energy levels, and bone health. So really, maybe try some kelp? The product here is the one I recently purchased. I have been sprinkling it here and there on my savory foods. It has an earthy flavor, but is not super noticeable unless you go really heavy handed with it. 

    The cabbage slaw below, also featuring a fellow brassica veggie, is likewise super simple. It is crunchy, tangy, kinda sweet, and refreshing! My boyfriend's mom makes a similar slaw, so used that as the inspiration. I think I did pretty good, considering no recipe to work with! I used a giant head of napa cabbage from our CSA, and loved the mild cabbage flavor it has. However, feel free to use regular green or white cabbage. Not sure how red would work, but assume that the heartier texture may impact the results-but feel free to try it! For a peanut-free version, I used toasted sunflower seeds, but you can easily substitue peanut if you'd like. 

    Try these refreshing and easy salads as a side for a meal, a main component to a salad, or up the protein content with some of your favorite tofu or tempeh. Or, you could enjoy with some hummus! I mean, don't we dip raw carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in our hummus anyways? I rest my case! 

    Note: I toasted my sunflower seeds for the recipes below since I love the flavor of toasted sunflower seeds; the nuttiness really pairs well with the strong flavored veggies here! For the detox salad, I used only currants for the recipe, but the original calls for a combo of raisins and currants, so please you what you'd like or have around. 



    Detox Salad // vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, oil-free, sugar-free // makes about 8-10 cups //

    • 1 small to medium head broccoli, trimmed of leaves and big stems
    • 1 small to medium head cauliflower, trimmed of leaves and big stems
    • 2 large or 3 smaller carrots
    • 4-6 TB lemon juice
    • 1/2-1 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, optionally toasted
    • 1/2 to 1 cup raisins or currants
    • Optional: fresh herbs, such as parsley, to taste
    • Optional: 1-3 tsp kelp granules, or other sea vegetable

    1. Wash and trim all your veggies. Using a food processor (or you can chop by hand), process smallish pieces of the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots until medium-fine textured. 

    2. In a large bowl, toss the veggies with the remaining ingredients. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. Salad will last 4-5 days in a covered container in the fridge. Serve with you favorite hummus, or other protein source and some greens for a light, energizing meal. 



    Cabbage Slaw // vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free // makes about 4 cups //

    • 1 medium to large head napa cabbage
    • 2-3 stalks celery
    • 1 1/2 TB sesame oil or toasted sesame oil
    • 2 tsp sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup or honey 
    • pinch sea salt
    • 1 1/2 TB rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
    • 1 1/2 TB soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos (or whatever soy sauce product you use!)
    • 1/2 cup unsalted sesame seeds (or roughly chopped peanuts), toasted

    1. Toast the peanuts or sunflower seeds. Set aside to cool.

    2. Discard any rough leaves on the cabbage. With a sharp knife, cut into very thin ribbons. You can cut these in half to make the pieces shorter if desired. Place in a colander, and wash with cold water. Drain and allow to dry. Wash the celery, and then cut each stalk in half lengthwise. Chop into thin pieces.

    3. In a large bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients for the dressing, and taste for you preference. Adjust as you see fit. Add all the cabbage, sunflower seeds and the celery. Toss thoroughly to coat everything with the dressing. You can enjoy right away, or allow this to sit up to 3 days in the fridge in a covered container. 



  • Rhubarb Coffee Cake (with all the streusel) + Gluten Free Challenge!

    Wow! It is June! I can't wait for summer. The weather is warming up, the sky is blue and the produce variety is starting to show signs of summer...I am already thinking about strawberry picking!! I have plans for a few tomato plants, herbs, morning glory flowers and some peppers on our deck, thanks to my Mom for some awesome plants and pots. I can't wait to get my hands dirty, and pot them up this week!

    I have been stashing away rhubarb in our freezer, in hopes for a strawberry rhubarb pie or even some jam (!!!) later in the month. So, I grabbed two huge and beautiul bunches of the stuff at the market last Saturday. I met my aunt, and we had pastries and coffee while it rained and wind-ed (yes, wind-ed) outside. Sunday I got up, and decided...coffee cake. I mean, it is in my heritage...Germans and their coffee culture! I did some reading, and it was at one point a pretty extreme tradition. Krauts love their coffee, and cake. 

    This coffee cake was from Smitten Kitchen. I had been eyeing it for a few years (yes, years), so decided Sunday was THE day to make it. I was so happy with the results...so if you're looking for an amazing and simple coffee cake recipe, this one will not let you down with its mounds of awesome crumbs and tart rhubarb laced through the middle. I bet it would be perfect with any summer fruit! We enjoyed it with a green smoothie (spinach! mango!), iced coffee and sunshine on our deck. It was pretty great.

    What isn't pretty great? The fact that I think I may have a slight gluten intolerance. I have evidence. I will not describe said evidence here. But what I will describe is my two-week gluten-free, clean eating challenge! The past few weeks (plus our trip to NYC...) have been *filled* with indulging in food. Not a bad thing at all-but my system is certainly ready for a clean-up. So, that means in the next two weeks, I'll be focusing on gluten-free, as well as plant-heavy (as usualy) and vegan food. I was really inspired by Emily at Rawsome Vegan Life! Her blog is so amazing. I plan to make a few of her recipes, including nut-based cheese cultured with rejuvelac. Yep-crazy hippy food is making a come-back in my kitchen after a 2 month (slight) hiatus. It makes me feel good, I feel good preparing these foods, and tis the season with our CSA starting on June 11 (a day before my birthday!). So, the coffee cake was a final hurrah to traditional baking and baked goods for a while. Totally worth it!

    The past two days I have started my morning with a fresh juice. Yesterday's was a pretty radical and tasty blend of beets, apple, carrot, kale, parsley. Such vibrant, gorgeous colors!

    The juice! I really like to put an ice cube or two into my juice to help cool it, and dilute the strong flavors. Does anyone else do that??

    But who wants juice, now that I have talked extensively about coffee cake and rhubarb? I know, I know. So here it is...the coffee cake recipe. Fine the original here. And if you can, make this on a lazy morning for a treatm and enjoy with some coffee-it is a must. 



    Rhubarb Coffee Cake // soy-free, nut-free option // serves 6-8 //

    Filling:

    • 3 cups rhubarb (about 1/2 pound)
    • 2 teaspoons tapioca starch 
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 2 TB honey, agave or maple syrup
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground ginger

    Streusel:

    • 1/3 cup coconut sugar, sucanant or brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup organic white cane sugar
    • 1/2 cup melted butter or earth balance or virgin coconut oil (I used 50:50 organic butter:virgin coconut oil)
    • 1 3/4 all purpose flour (I used a local, organic variety)
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 
    • 1/4 teaspoon Freshly grated nutmeg
    • Optional add-ins: 1/2 cup oats, heaping 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

    Cake:

    • 1/3 cup yogurt of choice (I used full-fat organic European style) or sour cream 
    • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk (I used eggs from my Aunt's chickens!)
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 6 TB melted butter, Earth Balance or virgin coconut oil (or any combination)
    • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour OR all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup organic white cane sugar
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt

    1. Pre-heat oven to 375F, and grease and flour an 8"x8" baking dish or pan. 

    2. Prepare the streusel by melting the fats, then adding everythign else and mixing well. It will be a strudy mixture. If you choose to add the oats and nuts, the mixture will be a touch more crumbly. Allow it to set undisturbed while you carry on with the recipe.

    3. Wash and trim the rhubarb, and cut into ~1/2" pieces. Toss with the other filling ingredients and set aside.

    4. To make the cake, start by sifting the flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt together. With a whisk or fork, mix the sugar in thoroughly. In a separate bowl, melt the fats, then add the eggs, yogurt, vanilla (tip: be sure that the melted fats aren't too hot, as they may curdle the eggs/yolk!). 

    5. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix until combined, being careful to not over-mix. 

    6. Add all but ~1/2 cup of the cake batter into the prepared pan. Topp with the rhubarb, draining off with you hands some of the juices so as to not soak the batter. Plop on the remaining 1/2 cup of batter, not worrying about being perfect-just plop in on in a few places. Crumble the streusel over the top, taking care to not break it up into too fine of crumbs.

    7. Bake for 45-55 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool for ~30 minutes before digging in, or else the filling and cake may still be a touch moist/gooey. Lasts for 4 days, wrapped or covered, at room temperature or refrigerated.



    Cut and serve on pretty plates...this cake deserves the presentation!

    The sunshine was perfect...and look at how pretty the pink rhubarb is in teh middle! Love that. 

    This streusel is extreme. Not for wimpy streusel lovers.

    And coffee is a must here...ok? I had iced espresso with almond milk. 

    Done!