Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

The Christmas Holidays are just around the corner, and all of the shops and stores reflected this before the kids were out of their Halloween costumes. I don't know how I feel about that. It seems that Halloween is just about one step behind Christmas when it comes to celebrating and excitement.

The first Christmas that I was a member of this family, I got two years worth of presents. Mom and Grandma had been waiting for me for so long, you see.

And I had oranges in my stocking, along with all the other goodies, and walnuts, and apples, because my new Grandma had had those things in her stocking when she was little. Tradition.

This will be our second Christmas in the mountains of Central New York, and we are becoming real country people. The other day, Mom and I were saying that we didn't think that we could ever live comfortably in a town again. For one thing, this is a very pretty place.

We are planning a garden this coming spring, so expect more and more varied recipes fresh from the garden.

Right now, however, the winter with its drear and the bright spot of the holiday season lies before us. Last year, we had so much snow that this year, I am forced to think of hot, comforting dishes -- filling, but probably not fattening -- for us to consume over the holidays, and until spring comes again.

We get a surprising amount of heat from the meat-eating crowd out there, and it is not unusual to be told that we are crazy, and we don't know what we are missing. Actually, we do. We used to be meat eaters ourselves, in fact. Kids are generally what they are raised to be. My mother ate meat until I reformed her when we adopted each other.

Missing? Sure, we are missing cholesterol problems; we are reducing our risk of a number of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, what-have you.

Our complexions are better, too, than our meat-eating friends.

But we have no hard feelings. We are more than wiling to share our delicious holiday dishes with you all. You can even serve them on the same plate as your traditional holiday meat dishes. The table won't collapse. I promise.

We are going to have other things, too, candied yams, apple walnut stuffing, mashed potatoes, both white and sweet, dinner rolls, hot chocolate....

My Mom has a stereo that her Dad gave her for Christmas, the year before he died. We always play carols on it. This year, we might have a Christmas tree again, because the cats have their own, private, heated building, and maybe the dogs will leave the tree alone. We have a 20-month-old German Shepherd who is trying her best to be a lady, and an 8-month-old Lab/Shepherd crossbreed who still doesn't know his backside from page eight. We may have to build a fence around the Christmas tree! I bought them presents the other night, and I've begun to collect catnip toys and other things for the cats of Haven House, which is what we call our operation here.

Anyway, eat and enjoy. Here are a few of the things that we usually have for these special holiday times!

Spiced Carrot and Orange Soup

  • 2 pounds carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fragrant nut oil or light olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 large celery stalks, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, coriander, ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup low-fat milk or soymilk, or as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced scallion

Reserve and set aside about 1/2 pound of the carrots.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and celery and saute over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Add the carrots (except for the reserved batch), along with 4 cups of water, the juice, wine, and spices. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over moderate heat until the vegetables are quite tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer in batches to the container of a food processor or blender and puree until quite smooth.

Return to low heat and stir in enough milk or soymilk to give the soup a medium-thick consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the soup stand off the heat for several hours before serving.

Just before serving, steam the reserved carrots until crisp tender and stir into the soup along with the parsley and scallion. Taste to correct consistency and seasonings before serving.

  • Yields: 8 to 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 1 hour

Creole Green Salad

  • 2 cups stemmed, torn spinach leaves
  • 2 cups watercress leaves
  • 2 cups torn chicory leaves (or other strong salad green)
  • 2 cups endive leaves (if large, cut in half)
  • 3 scallions, minced
  • 1 large celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, hulled and halved
  • French dressing as desired

Combine the greens, onion or scallions, celery, and tomatoes in a large salad bowl. Toss together. Add enough dressing to lightly coat and toss again; or pass the dressing around separately so that guests may dress their own salad.

  • Yields: 8 to 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 20 minutes

Leek and Corn Stuffed Peppers

  • 10 medium green or red bell peppers, or a combination
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large leeks, white and palest green parts only, chopped and well rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups cooked corn kernels, preferably fresh
  • 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried summer savory
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Wheat germ for topping
  • Paprika for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Carefully cut away the top stems of the peppers and remove the seeds. Cut a very thin slice from the bottoms so that the peppers can stand. Arrange, standing snugly against one an other for support, in one or two very deep casserole dishes or a roasting pan.

Heat the oil with two tablespoons of water in a large skillet. Add the leeks, shallots, and garlic. Saute over medium heat, covered, lifting the lid to stir occasionally, until the leeks are tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the toppings. Cook, stirring, another 5 minutes.

Distribute the stuffing among the peppers. Top each with a sprinkling of wheat germ, followed by a dusting of paprika. Cover the casserole or roasting pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the peppers are tender but still firm enough to stand. Arrange in a circle on a large platter surrounding the pilaf, following. Serve at once.

  • Yields: 8 to 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 1 hour

Wild Rice Pilaf with Apples and Pecans

  • 2/3 cup wild rice, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat margarine
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/3 cup orange juice (from 1 large orange)
  • 2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • Dash each: cinnamon, nutmeg
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Bring 3 3/4 cups of water to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the wild and brown rice and the seasoned salt, return to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed, about 40 minutes.

Heat the margarine in a very large skillet. Add the onion and celery and saute until the onion is golden. Add the apple and saute another 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice mixture along with the juice, scallions, currants, and spices. Season to taste with pepper.

Saute over low heat, stirring frequently, another 5 minutes. This may be done somewhat ahead of time to this point, then left covered off the heat until needed. Just before serving, heat through, adding a bit more liquid if the mixture needs it, then stir in the parsley and pecans. Mound in the center of a large serving platter and surround with the stuffed peppers, above.

  • Yields: 8 to 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 1 hour

Sauteed Red Cabbage

  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, quartered and sliced
  • 6 cups thinly shredded red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet or 3-quart saucepan. Add the onion and saute until golden. Add the cabbage, wine, and vinegar. Cover and saute until crisp-tender, about 12 minutes, lifting the lid to stir occasionally.

Stir in the honey and poppy seeds and saute over very low heat, stirring occasionally, another 8 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving container to serve.

  • Yields: 8 to 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: no more than 25 minutes

Cocoa Substitute Mince Pie

  • 1/4 cup dry, unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 cup dark raisins or currants
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: ground ginger and nutmeg
  • 1 prepared pastry crust
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and stir until smoothly dissolved and combined. Add the currants, raisins, and apples and simmer over low heat, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs, nuts, vanilla, and spices. Pour in the mixture from the saucepan and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour into the pastry crust.

Melt the margarine in the same saucepan used previously. Remove from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

Let cool and serve just warm or at room temperature.

  • Yields: 1 9-inch pie, 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 1 hour, 30 minutes

Apple Mulling Spice Mix

  • 3 boxes (1 ounce each) cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole nutmegs (1 ounce)
  • 1/3 cup each chopped dried orange and lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup each whole allspice and whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped, crystallized ginger (1 ounce)

Cut doubled layers of cheesecloth into fourteen 5-inch squares. Have fourteen 10-inch-long pieces plain white string ready. Put cinnamon sticks and nutmegs in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or a small heavy skillet until broken in small pieces. Mix with remaining ingredients. Tie 3 generous tablespoonsful in each cheesecloth square. Makes 14 bags.

To mull wine, stir 1/2 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar in a 1-1/2 to 2-quart pan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add 3-1/4 cups wine and the spice bag. Reduce heat to low, cover and heat very gently until mixture is very hot but not boiling, about 20 minutes. Discard spice bag.

To mull cider, just add spice bag to 8 cups apple cider in a 2-1/2 to 3-quart pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 to 35 minutes. Discard spice bag.

(Each spice bag holds enough to mull a 750 ml bottle of red wine - about 3-1/4 cups - or a half gallon - 8 cups - apple cider.)
  • Yields: 8 cups
  • Preparation Time: half an hour

Christmas Tree Loaf

  • 6 oz self raising flour
  • 2 oz dairy free margarine
  • 1 oz sugar
  • 2.5 fluid oz soy milk
  • half apple, grated
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 oz mixed dried fruit (as used in fruit cakes)
  • 1 tablespoon dried mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

For base, rub margarine into flour, add sugar and then mix in soy milk. Knead very lightly, divide mixture in two. Roll each half into a triangle approx 9" sides.Trim small amount of dough to form trunk of tree

For filling combine apple and water in a small saucepan. Cook until tender. Remove from heat, add fruit, spice and lemon juice. Allow to cool.

Place one triangle on a lightly oiled and floured baking tray, place filling on this triangle leaving (1/4") clear around all edges. Place trunk at base and moisten edges. Fit second triangle on top, sealing edges. Cut three slits (on an outward,downward angle) on the two sides. Turn the points up slightly to form christmas tree branches. Brush lightly all over with a little soy milk. Bake at 350-400F for 10-15 min until golden brown. When cool ice with 2 oz icing sugar and water (as snow). Decorate with glace cherries or colored candy balls,walnuts etc.

  • Yields: 1 loaf
  • Preparation Time: no more than 1 hour

Absolutely Vegan Eggnog

  • 2 10-oz packages silken regular or low-fat tofu
  • 16 oz vanilla soymilk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground tumeric
  • 1/2 to 1 cup rum or brandy
  • nutmeg to taste

In a blender, combine all ingredients except nutmeg; blend thoroughly, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides. Serve well-chilled and dusted with nutmeg

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Holiday Lentil Loaf

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 3 cups cooked lentils
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice (you can use a wild rice/brown rice mix here too)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 egg equivalents
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • fresh ground black pepper and sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Chop onion and celery finely, and crush the garlic clove. Spray a fraying pan with non-stick spray, and saute the onion, garlic and celery until onion is translucent. Add the sage. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray and fill the loaf pan with the mixture. Press down. Bake 30 minutes covered, 10 minutes uncovered. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

  • Yields: 1 loaf
  • Preparation Time: about an hour

Pecan Balls

  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 8 oz vegan cream cheese (the light version, if available)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons - 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 2 cans vegan cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups vegan sour cream (also light, if it's available)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups grated vegan cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. As vegan substitutes sometimes vary in consistency, you might need to add a little more or less, depending.

Mix together first 6 ingredients, adding more egg substitute and/or breadcrumbs to make a firm mixture. Shape (roll) into balls about the size of a ping pong ball. The balls should be firm enough to hold their shape, yet wet enough to be a bit sticky. Spray bottom of 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with vegetable spray. Arrange balls in dish evenly.

Mix next 3 ingredients and pour over pecan balls. Bake for 45 - 50 min.

Sprinkle grated cheese over balls and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

  • Yields: depends on how large you make them. Usually serves 6.
  • Preparation Time: about 45 minutes

Roastless Brown Potatoes and Vegetables

  • 3 organic russet potatoes
  • 4 organic red "creamer" potatoes
  • 2 ribs organic celery
  • 3 organic carrots
  • 1 cup pearl onions
  • 1 package Veg Brown Gravy mix
  • 1/2 package vegetable soup mix
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance Margarine
  • opional fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop celery, carrots, and potatoes. Peel and trim pearl onions. In a steamer basket steam potatoes, carrots, and celery until they are beginning to soften--about 10-15 minutes. While the veggies are steaming, place the onions in a greased casserole or roasting pan and place in the oven. Roast the onions for about 10 minutes---until they begin to brown. (You may skip this step and steam the onions instead...or simply put them in the oven with the rest of the veggies.) Remove the onions and deglaze the pan with a little water and the margarine. Add steamed vegetables to the pan and toss lightly to distribute. In a small saucepan add 2 cups cold water, the gravy mix and the soup mix. If using Imagine creamed soup (or your own) then reduce the water by 1/2 cup and use one cup of prepared soup. Bring the mixture to a boil and pour over veggies. Add fresh herbs (if using) and a few cracks of pepper Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake (covered) for 30-45 minutes Other vegetables may be added as desired.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Tofu Loaf

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup whole grain bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds tofu, mashed
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit Mix all ingredients together. Press the mixture into a teflon loaf pan (you can spray a bit of PAM) Bake for one hour. Let cool about 15-20 minutes before trying to remove from pan. Slice and enjoy!

  • Yields: 1 loaf
  • Preparation Time: about an hour and a half

Bean Loaf

  • 6 oz canned kidney beans
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • finely chopped vegetables
  • garlic (lots)
  • 3 tablespoons Country-style dijon mustard (Grey Poupon)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses

Mash the beans into paste and add the mustard and molasses. Mix well. You can chop up whatever vegetables you like -- I used onion, yellow, red and green peppers, and celery. Once I'd chopped the vegetables, I think I had about a cup of them. Chop up the garlic. I used about half a head. Also note that the measurements on the mustard and molasses are approximate. I judged the amounts of them I wanted by the consistency of the paste rather than actually measuring them. I am sure about the bean and rice measurements, though. Finally, I put all the ingredients together and mixed them, sprayed a loaf pan with non-stick spray, and put the whole thing in the oven at F 350. I baked the thing for 45 minutes and it was still a bit juicier than I wanted. You might want to try baking it for an hour.

  • Yields: 1 loaf
  • Preparation Time: about an hour and 20 minutes