Monday, September 28, 2015

Pumpkin Marshmallow Cereal Bars

We received free marshmallows from Chicago Vegan Foods in exchange for developing this recipe here on TCV. As always, all opinions expressed are our own. 

This one is by request from our nephew G3. At dinner at Swanky's one night, he said we should make   crispy treat-type cereal bars for him soon and launched into great detail about them and how we should put them together. When we asked, puzzled, how he knew so much, he shrugged and said he read a recipe off his cereal box every day, and it sounded like a good, easy thing to make.

Love that kid! We got him hooked on our crazy style of trying-to-be-a-little-bit-healthier desserts at a young age. He really is the best dessert tester there is.

So we'd been talking to the folks at Chicago Vegan Foods this summer about their Dandies vegan marshmallows, and they recently sent us many bags of regular and tiny vanilla marshmallows to use; they'd seen our s'mores bar and shout-out to them here and realized we were fans of their marshmallow work. Many vegetarians are careful to avoid foods with gelatin since it's made from fish, so vegan marshmallows are a great thing for us.

Well, they also sent us an unmarked bag of their new pumpkin-flavored mini-marshmallows set to make it to shelves this fall, and Pumpkin Marshmallow Cereal Bars sounded like the best thing to do. G3 gets a few dropped off at his house this week for sure. 

So on Sunday, we borrowed a kitchen from a family member who gave us free reign while she's out of town. Then we got back to our house and put waxed paper on top of a magazine as a makeshift cutting board. We washed our one knife under the water from the bathtub faucet so we could cut these squares all pretty. Counting the days until our new kitchen is complete -- maybe as soon as next week! 

Pumpkin Marshmallow Cereal Bars with Dandies Pumpkin Marshmallows

1 package (10 ounces) Dandies Pumpkin Marshmallows
4 tablespoons vegan margarine
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Kosher salt (to taste)
4 cups sprouted O's
3 tablespoons roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

Place butter, pumpkin pie spice, and salt into a saucepan and heat mixture on medium-low until it's melted and bubbling a bit. Add marshmallows, stirring constantly so they do not burn. Once the marshmallows become one smooth mass, add the cereal and take the sauce pan off of the heat while mixing. Butter the bottom and sides of a square or rectangular pan. Once fully combined, press the mixture into the pan; you can use wax paper to press down. Press the pumpkin seeds into the top. (We like to sprinkle an extra hit of salt and pumpkin spice on top as well.) Let them cool and then cut them into squares.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New TCV Kitchen Update #1

On July 3, we stepped down hard on a tile in the kitchen, and water came up to the surface. It has been rather interesting around here since we found out about that stealthy dishwasher leak in our midst. You can probably tell from the lack of new posts here that we haven't been cooking -- really cooking -- much. But we sure have been microwaving a lot! We might have even mastered that at this point. More about that soon maybe...

So we were overjoyed that our friends Walker and George at Uhlhorn Bros. Construction Company here in Memphis didn't hesitate to jump in right when we needed them this summer; they're helping us figure out the new space even though they're already crazy-busy doing gorgeous new builds all over Memphis these days. (Seriously, look at their Instagram. Check out their site -- we helped them create it and handled the photos. These two are just so talented. We'll keep our own future dreams involving their creativity under wraps, but you can probably guess.)

This is how our kitchen used to look for the past year or so. Overall, we really can't complain about the situation now, not one bit; it's all going to be okay pretty soon. However, we never would have remodeled our just-right-for-us old kitchen if we'd had a choice. So here's what has been happening at our house (and a glimpse of where we are today toward the end of the post).

The first step after seeing that water damage happened over the July 4th holiday weekend: we had to have industrial fans and a dehumidifier around on full deafening blast for days to try to salvage some stuff. That wasn't too successful, even though we could still cook a little bit if we wore earplugs and didn't feel moved to converse outside of exaggerated expressions and miming key things.

Very soon after our fruitless holiday weekend of attempted drying, we had to give in to the inevitable and have layers of tile, linoleum, and even subfloor removed. We decided to take out the old cabinets and the walls and ceiling as well. Why not? It was already a mess, and we wanted to tile under everything so this water-trapped-under-layers thing wouldn't happen again, to us or whoever might live here next.

We found some crazy things on the walls (and in them) during the demo stage!

We had to get the washer and dryer out of the kitchen for more space and made a closet into a laundry room. We cleaned out every other closet because everything had to shift to another place during the first stages of construction. For two people who purport to travel light in this world, we sure have a lot of stuff we never use.

We've been microwaving or grilling most of our meals for a while now. We know a lot about surprisingly good convenience foods (like some really good microwaveable Indian food in a pouch) and have tried a slew of new snacks and chips.

Everything was removed from the kitchen and the dining room to make way for the new floor. The wall between the kitchen and dining room is no longer there since now there will be an island with a sink, dishwasher, and a few low bar stools. Now folks can talk to us while we cook. 

Figuring out whether to do wood floors or tile like we had before was a tough choice, but we love what we decided on (basically through text message!) thanks to the the gracious help from Amanda at Acme Brick and Tile in Memphis. The floor just got finished last Friday, and it's charcoal gray wood-look ceramic tile, LEED-certified, and at a reasonable price by the foot. We got it grouted with the darkest shade and put down in a herringbone design for a little interest.

This week, we got a ceiling, which is very exciting. It was made with random-length 1" x 4" wood planks, which might soon be painted haint blue or pickled. Josh Wyatt, the trim carpenter who made Sweet Grass and Next Door look so good, did the finishes.

Something like this happening right in the middle of other unexpected family crises popping up really does put things into perspective. We all can have a lot changed or taken away in a short amount of time, and the only things to do are pray, stay positive, and hope that it'll all turn out all right. This unexpected project might have cured us of a bit of perfectionist tendencies as well.

One of the best moments during all of this was when our niece Amelia was visiting. The only decent place to sit was outside in the backyard, and she was tired of that and wanted to hang out inside. "It's so gross and junked in there!" we told her. "We don't want to look at it!" She said, "Look this way, and you won't see it. It's not that bad if you do that." Ten-year-olds are often the smartest ones in the room.

The next couple weeks' progress just might include cabinets, a wrapped beam, new plumbing, and oiled butcher block countertops. We'll keep you posted as we move closer to the finish line by October. Can't wait to cook again because we've missed that comforting and entertaining part of life a whole lot. So what shall we make first?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Demystifying the Dehydrator

We are excited to have been selected by the International Housewares Association to contribute to their Inspired Home blog. We have been compensated for our time, but our opinions are, of course, our own.

Most methods of preserving in-season food from your garden or your local farmers market are super time-intensive and take a fair amount of know-how in order to make sure everything will be good when you go to use it later in the year. Dehydrating, however, is about as simple as you could possibly imagine. Slice, place on a tray, and set a timer to capture a bit of that summer sweetness that you can access all year long.

We wrote a story for the IHA Inspired Home blog called "A Summer Without End: Saving the Season with Your Dehydrator"; it outlines four simple recipes for preserving food. You'll learn simple tricks for saving tomatoes, herbs, figs, and peas along with suggestions for using each ingredient in a recipe.

Click HERE for the full story.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

10 'til 10 at Majestic Grille: Vegetarian Dinner Recap

We were happy to be invited to attend this amazing 5-course meal last week on Tuesday evening at The Majestic Grille in downtown Memphis. After chatting with Chef Patrick Reilly beforehand about his ideas and learning more in this interview, we knew it was going to be a great experience for all involved. We are so grateful that chefs bring their culinary chops and creativity together to put these type of dinners on in our city. It's even better when they have a vegetarian option, or like this one, go completely vegetarian...from nose to tail.

The evening started with passed appetizers including tomato bruschetta, corn and jalapeƱo hushpuppies, apple jelly and goat cheese rangoon, and berbere-spiced okra. We had the honor of helping to brainstorm with chef, and two of those dishes are his amazing riffs on recipes we love.

The first seated course was sweet potato gnocchi with roasted shiitake mushrooms and grilled artichokes. That list of ingredients alone had us floored. Chef Reilly made a killer stock that brought everything together so beautifully. I'm going to try that idea in my own kitchen really soon.

The second course was a simple salad with some really special components. The locally-sourced, jewel-hued baby lettuce featured a rich avocado dressing. It was topped with house-made pickled carrots, fresh radish, and thinly-sliced cucumber.

The third course was right up our alley these days. It was all roasted vegetables, beans, and wilted greens. It's how we eat at home, so we loved it. It's our kind of comfort food and led perfectly into dessert, which was a summer berry crumble with custard that was served on the side in gravy boats.

Just goes to show yet again that Memphis isn't only about BBQ, y'all. We're looking forward to what's coming next for vegetarians around here.