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What's this? Finally, a post, but not a recipe? I have been in a real rut lately. I haven't been making anything new. A year into it, and the house is still under renovation. But! One room is completely finished! A powder room, but still. Many other rooms just need the trim painted and the windows cleaned, but both of those are still big jobs. Though the kitchen is functional, it's not finished and I don't have the time or energy to make big, elaborate meals in it. But someday!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some of my favorite vegan items since I'm trying to eat more vegan at home.


First up is Gardein. I don't love a lot of fake meats, but everything I've had from Gardein has been really great. Their stuffed "turk'y" was as good as the Trader Joe's and Tofurky turkeys, but I only see it around the holidays (and I believe the TJ's version is no longer available). Their mandarin chick'n is also a favorite. Gardein is easy to find in most "healthy" freezer sections. I've seen Gardein products at Kroger and Publix as well as Whole Foods. Gardein really helps a good dinner come together quickly and easily.

Next, I finally got around to trying Dandies vegan marshmallows. I didn't realize that I even missed marshmallows, but I wanted to eat the whole bag right away. I think they taste better than standard grocery store marshmallows. There's a great vanilla flavor and the texture is perfect. As far as I know, Whole Foods is the only store around Nashville that carries them.

I've already proclaimed my love for all things So Delicious*, but lately, I've discovered that I can't handle much dairy ice cream any more, so these ice creams have taken the place of my beloved Ben & Jerry's favorites. The cherry amaretto is my absolute favorite. The Coco Whip is a Cool Whip substitute and it is fantastic. It keeps well in the freezer, too. It also doesn't have that weird aftertaste (and afterfeel) that Cool Whip has. I'd recommend Coco Whip be used for any Cool Whip recipe, regardless if you're vegan or not. So Delicious products are available at most groceries, but Whole Foods has the most comprehensive selection.
(*I thought I had, but apparently not here, just on Instagram. So Delicious is...um, so delicious! All the coconut stuff as well as most of the almond products. I don't love the almond yogurt.)

The BE Hive seitan is a product that--I think--is available only in Nashville, but if you're local, I highly recommend trying it out. I mean, I could make my own seitan, but I'm not gonna. Not when I can buy really good, already-made seitan (available all around the city). I used the filets on sandwiches to simulate a roast beef, but they can be used for any chunk purpose.


Last up is Upton's Naturals jackfruits. Again, this is something I could make myself (my recipe for barbecue jackfruit is here), but I often just don't feel like going to the trouble of preparing my own. I will say that Upton's doesn't take out some of the stuff that I do when I prepare my own, so the texture is different (it's moister, for one thing), so I like my own barbecue version just a bit better. However, the chili lime carnitas version is really great. We used them for tacos. If you want to try them out, you can find them at Whole Foods. I'm looking forward to trying out their seitan, too since it comes in several flavors.

And speaking of Tofurky, I like to use the Tofurky Italian Sausage in my red beans and rice. I use the Vigo brand, which does not contain any stock (though it does list "natural flavors," which I hope is not animal-derived). It makes the meal really hearty (and helps one package become four servings).


A friend of mine brought over some tarragon from her garden recently. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, but then I remembered I’d just gotten some red new potatoes at the farmers’ market and figured if it’s good for chicken salad, surely tarragon would be good in potato salad. And it is! Tarragon has a unique flavor; similar to anise but not as reminiscent of the dreaded black jellybean. I definitely went light with it. Using a shallot instead of onion made it a milder salad, too. The fried shallot is from the international market and added a nice bit of crunch and texture.

I served this as part of a 4th of July dinner al fresco. It was also a great occasion to try out some Repurpose dinnerware I was sent recently to try. Repurpose is kinder, gentler disposable serveware; the cups, cutlery, and plates are all made exclusively from plants (corn, sugar, and bamboo with soy inks) and completely compostable. They’re also BPA-free, chlorine-free, and petroleum-free. Though not completely tested, it is believed that the limited amount of soy ink used will not create an issue with anyone with a soy allergy.

Repurpose is not just earth-friendly, they’re also really durable. The plates and cutlery are strong and the cups aren’t flimsy at all. You can definitely tell there’s something different about them, but in a good way. They’re surprisingly sturdy; they held up to a plate of this potato salad and a couple of Smart Dogs really well! Repurpose compostables are available at stores across the country (though none in Nashville) and are available online.


Tarragon Potato Salad
a variation of Potato Salad with Tarragon and Shallots from Saveur
Serves 6-8

2 pounds red new potatoes, cut in bite-size pieces
½ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fried shallot to finish (optional)

Boil potatoes in a large pot of salted water until tender, 10–20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Once cool (room temperature), add mayonnaise, vinegar, shallots, and tarragon and stir gently to combine. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Top with fried shallot when serving.

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Creeping cucumber flower with tiny fruit already forming
Creeping cucumber flower with tiny fruit already forming

There's still not a lot new coming out of my kitchen these days. Well, not a lot that's photo-worthy. But there are a few things I'd like to share.

Peach season is in full swing right now. Though the crops from the southernmost states have stopped, Tennessee and South Carolina peaches are still going. I made a peach galette recently (I won't talk about the crust) using this filling recipe from Epicurious. I made a few modifications that really took this filling to the next level. It was crazy delicious. I just added half a teaspoon of ground ginger and a 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar.

Summer also means cucumbers and watermelons, so don't forget that both make excellent chilled soups.

First, there's my watermelon gazpacho  recipe (the rare tomato-less gazpacho). I cannot say enough great things about this soup. It is fantastic.

Next is this chilled cucumber soup recipe from my friend, Hedy. She actually just brought me a cucumber from her garden this weekend, so this is on the menu for the upcoming week!

Last is a soup to use with that bounty of squash that's coming in, squash soup with avocado lime cream. This year has been a good one for squash and I know a lot of people who are overrun with them. Tip for them: this soup freezes well and tastes great warm, too so put some up for winter!

When we bought this house last summer, I knew that I would have to give up on growing tomatoes altogether. I have fought squirrels for many years and not only would I have to fight them here, too, but there's just not enough sun to grow much of anything. However, there are lots of "wild edibles" here, including lamb's quarter, mountain mint, dandelions, greenbrier, sassafras, wood sorrel, and chickweed. I haven't really tried much with them, but I was happy to find a number of creeping cucumber vines all around the property. The squirrels and deer don't seem to be interested, so that's great for me (as long as I get them before they turn dark, which is when they become poisonous). Creeping cucumber is a very delicate light green vine with flowers that are shaped like English ivy or maple leaves. The small yellow flowers (very small) grow into small fruits that look like teeny tiny watermelons but taste like delicate sweet cucumbers. The mature fruits are about the size of a jelly bean.

Lastly, I have really, REALLY been enjoying my Hamilton Beach waffle maker, (which I mentioned on Bites). It comes with a recipe booklet that contains a number of waffle recipes, but I love the Buttermilk Waffles recipe so much that I haven't even bothered to try any of the others. I haven't been able to find it online (the recipe on the Hamilton Beach site is not the same), so I thought I'd share it here. I hope it's okay with them! It's just so good and versatile. The waffles are crisp on the outside and tender inside and the flavor is good for either sweet breakfast waffles or for savory waffle sandwiches. The recipe yields 6 waffles (usually), so I store several in the fridge and warm them in the toaster oven later for sandwiches.

Buttermilk Waffles
from Hamilton Beach
yield: 6 waffles (in the the previously mentioned waffle maker)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
6 tablespoons butter, melted (and cooled, slightly)
2 eggs, lightly beaten

*before assembling everything, prepare your buttermilk first by placing 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a 2-cup measuring cup and filling the rest of the way (to 1 1/2 cups) with regular milk and stir and let sit for about five minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir in buttermilk, butter, and eggs stirring until thoroughly mixed (batter will be thick). Pour one pre-measured scoop (for your waffle maker) into the middle of the waffle maker. Close lid and cook 6 or 7 minutes until brown (time may vary by waffle maker). Batter can be thinned with up to 1/2 cup of water if necessary.