Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Veg burgers - yum!

It looks like a regular hamburger, but it's all veg. All yummy veg!

By day, Parke Goodman creates paintings that delight the eye, selling them at the Livingston, Montana, studio he shares with his wife, Bonnie: Mordam Art.

Such creativity can really stir up an appetite. Parke is vegan, and so his food must be hearty as well as free of animal products.

With the flair of a hungry artist, Parke personalized his version of veg burgers that he can make on Sunday and freeze to heat up for lunch all through the week.

There's not really a recipe, Parke insists. You just kind of throw things together, whatever you have handy. There's not a whole lot of fine measurements in his account of the process. But hang in there . . . it turns out great.

First, finely chop a red onion. Then grab a bunch of carrots -- about a pound -- and grate them.

Chop up about 1/2 a pound of cremini mushrooms -- Parke prefers these because they have a firmer texture than the white button mushrooms. When you can afford them, the firmest mushrooms are shiitake and oyster.

He usually adds a beet, shredded with a cheese grater. This gives the burgers a red tinge in case you're missing beef at all, but mostly it adds flavor and nutrients.

Press about a pound of extra firm tofu. Parke has a nifty tofu press that works wonders, but you can put the tofu under a plate with a heavy can on top. The main thing is to get as much water out as possible. Too much water in the mix makes the burgers mushy.

Saute all of the above vegetables for about 10 minutes. (Put the tofu separately into the bowl first.)

Cook some quinoa: 1 cup raw quinoa in 1 1/2 cups water, along with a veggie cube. Or use barley (for a chewy texture) or rice.

In a large bowl, start mixing the tofu along with a tablespoon or so of miso. Add the ingredients you've already prepped.

Add spices -- garlic powder (fresh garlic if you have it), basil, and thyme are Parke's basics.

Add 3/4 cup "notch" (nutritional yeast).

About 3/4 cup vital gluten is the "glue" that binds the mixture.

Stir until it all holds together. You can add flour if it looks too wet.

Scoop out 1/2-cup portions onto a baking sheet and form into patties. You should have about a dozen. (Parke uses two baking sheets.)

Most recipes call for frying the patties, but Parke is happy to let a 400-degree oven do all the work. And, he claims, by using less oil, you can easily freeze them.

Bake for 45 minutes. Be sure to flip them halfway through so they get nice and crispy brown on both sides.

There are all kinds of variations.

Red peppers were in the original recipe, but Parke found them too watery, so he quit using them.

You can add chopped walnuts, which "adds a nice texture." Or substitute a can of black beans for the tofu -- be sure to process till smooth.

Try adding rolled oats, finely chopped kale, or onions.

Parke's been making these for 3 or 4 years. He says he eats one every day on a wholegrain bun with all the trimmings.

Can you really get too much of a good thing?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Healthy food at the Livingston health fair

The Fall Health Festival in Livingston was a good place to load up on snacks today.

You could grab an apple from one of the many baskets displayed around the hall.

Or fill up on a free breakfast. Before I asked or even wondered about it, one of the cooks proudly told me that almost everything was produced in Montana -- Wheat Montana flour for the pancakes, local eggs, sausages from Wilsall -- and everything was carefully selected for maximum health benefit; for example, organic maple syrup and fresh berries and melons.

My favorite place to eat in Livingston is the Wheatgrass Saloon, a place with a simple vegan menu that includes a new taco bar and the long-popular Dragon Bowl: a dozen or so shredded veggies on top of your choice of quinoa or kelp noodles and smothered in an amaaaaaaaaazing (I can't get enough As in there to describe its deliciousness) secret dressing that is reminiscent of Thai peanut sauce. Mostly, it's all about tantalizing beverages. Check out the menu and come taste them all.

Today at the fair they were pouring samples of Ginger 'n Juice, Greentini, and We Got the Beet. If you drank one of each, you were entered into a drawing for a fabulous basket of gifts. Everyone who tasted the juices was a winner, in my opinion.

Not every snack was exactly healthy, as seen in the right of this photo of the Wells Fargo booth (I think they were there to talk about financial health). But who can resist an occasional chocolate chip cookie?

Best of all were the generous samples at the Vegans Rock Montana booth, Bonnie's ever-present smile brightening up the morning. Bonnie's mission is to show folks that genuinely healthy -- and truly delicious -- food does not have to contain animal products.

After selecting from the Just Mayo swag -- caps, tote bags, t-shirts, and a large free sample of Just Mayo -- you could indulge in Bonnie's good cooking. Today that included Kale & White Bean Dip and Chick'n Salad made with Gardein Chick'n and, of course, Just Mayo. Bonnie always provides recipes.

After all that, the dentist booth was a good place to pick up some toothpaste samples.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

People at Gallatin Valley Farmers Market

There are so many wonderful things about a farmers market. But when you think about it, isn't it the people who really make the market special?

At today's Gallatin Valley market in Bozeman, there was quite a selection of interesting vendors.

Pictured above are the Three Little Sparrows who make delectable items, such as tasty lip balm and sweet sugar scrub, that make you look and feel more beautiful. Actually, that's mama with her two oldest children, with the youngest shyly hidden behind. Selling at the market this year is an educational experience for the kids, who decide what to make, then make it and learn how to sell it. Figuring out change, as shown below, is an important part of the process.

Around the corner was a gal who just loves tutus. She normally has a doll to show off her creations, but today she forgot to bring it. Being flexible, she decided modelling was just as fun as selling.

And nearby were the ever-popular cookies by the Cookie Boys. Their offerings have expanded considerably, all as tasty as the original peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies that were their first product. These originals are still available for purists.

Outside in the sunshine were two enthusiastic sisters selling cheesecake under the name of Dia Desserts. Need I say more? Right now they have a heavenly dip and also bites of cheesecake in portable jars. All kinds of flavors like lemon-lavender, strawberry, and the Tipsy Cow (with merlot). This might be the perfect time to expand your picnic fare. Or sneak bites at the traffic lights on your way home. I'm not admitting anything, it's just an idea I had.

There was some lovely music wafting through the air, played by a young student who also takes ballet. She and her brother are raising money for their fine arts education.

You'll also find all the usual -- and unusual -- things at this market, like greens, succulent Dixon melons (be prepared to stand in a very long line for this popular item!), breads and pies, etc. etc. Come meet everyone!

Gallatin Valley Farmers Market
Gallatin County Fairgrounds, Haynes Pavilion, at Tamarack and Black
June 20 - September 12
Saturday, 9 am - noon