Zucchini Bread

It might have come from the bank, or church, or fire department, but one thing is certain; you'll find one in every small town Maine kitchen. It's a cookbook with recipes submitted by your friends and neighbors. We think these self-published cookbooks from our civic institutions are the most authentic representations of community available to us. In that vein, we've set to scouring our mothers' shelves looking up recipes for classic Maine dishes with an eye toward modernizing them and making them vegan. This one is a bit of a vamp on a recipe taken from a collection from the Lincoln County 911 Dispatchers' Favorite Recipes cookbook.

There has been an abundance of great local zucchini about and this tasty bread instantly popped into mind. We got our zucchini from Dan at Seasonal Corner in Biddeford. We love pretty much all he's had to offer and we're super excited to hear that he's planning on going to full time next year when he'll have retail on site at the farm and will be turning out on Wednesdays at the Saco Farmers' Market. We can't wait.

We also recommend using another local vegan product in the baking of your zucchini bread. Pastor Chuck's Organic Applesauce is the way to go to add moistness to the bread without any of the cholesterol or guilty conscience of using eggs. They're based out of Portland and there's even a handy list of retailers on their website where you can pick up the goods.

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups peeled, grated zucchini
2 cups organic sugar
1 cup applesauce
1 cup corn oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly blended. Grease and flour two bread loaf pans. Divide evenly. Bakes up yummy in 35-40 minutes. Your mileage may vary depending upon your oven's temperament.

Helping Local Farmers and Neighbors

That's exactly what was on the agenda this past weekend from Animal Rights Maine when the organization set up for the first time at the Deering Oaks Farmers' Market, taking donations to benefit Preble Street. We've been keeping tabs on this group through their ever expanding Facebook page. This event was constructed to utilize food that may have otherwise gone to waste, promote consciousness of animal rights, and help the many who rely on the services of food banks and shelters. We here at So.ME.Vegans greatly appreciate the emphasis that organizer Melissa Gates put on the message that animal rights and humanitarian causes are not mutually exclusive, but one in the same issue. In a recent interview Gates states

"... animal rights is about more than advocating for animals; it is about a way of life that encompasses compassion for all. I want to negate the idea that AR activists are a bunch of people-hating wackos, as that is simply, by and
large, not true."

It's an idea that's long past due and ARM is presenting a positive and inclusive message that the greater community is picking up on. The story got local coverage from WCSH6, The West End News, and The Portland Press Herald. People came out in droves contributing approximately 600 pounds of produce for the cause. The collected food will go to Preble Street Resource Center, where over 6,000 meals are served to the hungry each week, free of charge. We see this as a glorious and beautiful effort and hopefully people learned a little something about animal rights, and those who fight for the rights of non-humans, in the process.

Volunteers are still needed for upcoming food drives. If you're thinking about assisting in future efforts here's what you need to know. Volunteers are needed to:

  • Walk through the park, alerting shoppers to the opportunity to donate fresh veggies to the food drive by purchasing from the farm stands and leaving donations in the bins ARM has provided.
  • Collect donation bins from farmers as needed and at the end of the market, loading the food into a truck (or cars).
  • Bring all donations and produce bins to Preble Street at the end of the market.

Folks with a truck or a van are especially needed to help store food and transport it to local pantries at the end of the market! To sign up please contact animalrightsmaine@yahoo.com. We hope you do!

I Love Vegan Cheezy Almonds!

It might be a little unfair to play favorites and ascribe more adoration to one of Maine's specialty food products than another. In that regard, Living Nutz is giving us a little bit of internal conflict. Seriously though it's been a long time since a local vegan product we've tried made our jaws drop or eyes light up as I Love Vegan Cheezy Almonds! did.

We're not really raw devotees, but know we have a few raw followers in Portland. It's hard to ignore the health benefits of eating raw. Cooking food destroys nutrients and kills enzymes that aid in digestion, so the ingredients in Vegan Cheezy Almonds are processed minimally. The almonds are unpasturized and allowed to germinate. This is followed by marination and finally dehydration at low temperatures. Doing it this way encourages enzyme production increasing the health benefits and developing some great flavors.

So where did that great 'cheezy' flavor come from? Our guess is that it's actually the process of live culture development that takes the combined flavors of almonds, pumpkin seeds, nama shoyu, and lemon juice and transforms the snack into a 'cheezy' treat. We were impressed that the flavors struck a fine balance with no one flavor sticking it's neck out too far. They have lots of flavors that look amazing, but take note that some contain honey.

The Living Nutz Company was started in 2002 by Seth Leaf and Davy (The Almond Brothers) and are based in Bowdoinham. Heck they're even endorsed by fellow LLBean employee and Everest summiteer Bill Yeo. Please try to get your hands on some. We got ours at Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport. Support your vegan friendly grocers, not just the producers.

Succotash

Said to derive from the Indian, succotash is a widely known corn and beans mixture by no means unique to Maine. The important thing here is that true Maine succotash always uses what Mainers call shell beans, and not the limas liked
elsewhere. Limas are slimas. In addition, Mainers prefer the cream style corn.


Gould, John. MAINE LINGO: Boiled Owls, Billdads, & Wazzats. Camden, Maine: Down East Magazine, 1975
CATS & DOGS IN NEED OF FOOD
Animal Rights Maine is hosting a companion animal food drive for Portland-area families in need.

WHEN: Saturday August 14, 2010, 11 A.M. - 3 P.M. – Rain or Shine.

WHERE: Pet Quarters, 486 Payne Road, Scarborough, ME 04074

WHAT: Cat & Dog Food Drive. Animal Rights Maine (ARM) activists will staff a food drive table at the Pet Quarters in Scarborough to collect donations of pet food for local families in need. Donations from this food drive will be given to the pet food pantry run by Camp Bow Wow and the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. The donations will be redistributed, free of charge, to local families in need.

STORY: Animal Rights Maine (ARM) is hosting a companion animal food drive on Saturday August 14th, 2010. People are encouraged to shop at Pet Quarters in Scarborough on Saturday August 14 between 11 A.M. and 3 P.M. to contribute to ARM’s efforts. Shoppers will be asked to buy additional cat and/or dog food with their purchase, to donate to the local pet food pantry, run by Camp Bow Wow and the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

Local animal shelters are seeing record numbers of animal intakes, with the leading cause of abandonment being the economy. Companion animal food pantries all over the state of Maine are running out of food to distribute, in the face of increasing demands for help.

“Providing struggling families with free cat and dog food will decrease the amount of animals abandoned at local shelters or neglected by underfeeding at home, and will help support families in need, many of whom may be deciding between buying cat food or paying their electric bill,” says ARM’s founding member, Melissa Gates. “ARM seeks to support families in maintaining their lifetime commitments to furry family members, by providing this temporary food relief.”

Families in need of cat and/or dog food can call Camp Bow Wow to arrange a pick-up of free food. There are no questions asked and no papers to be filled out: 207-541-9247. Camp Bow Wow is located at 49 Blueberry Road in Portland.

Questions…? Please contact Melissa Gates at Animal Rights Maine: animalrightsmaine@yahoo.com or 207.409.5322. Thank you!
Sometimes you just NEED some comfort food. What do you crave when the topic comes up? Mac and cheese, stew, or maybe ice cream? Around here the answer is lasagna. It doesn't get much better than something bubbly out of the oven, and when a casserole is the mission, Missus Gray takes the call.

This truly is a labor of love. When she mentioned that she was making it I immediately asked who was coming over. It's a hearty dish for a family dinner or maybe you just need enough to have some for leftovers as we did. This made for a few good lunches after the fact. Starting with all fresh ingredients really makes the difference and the time you spend preparing this lovely dish will be greatly appreciated by those who are so lucky to get some.

The more ingredients you can get sourced locally the better this dish will be. Again we've used balsamic from LeRoux Kitchen, and vegetables from Alewive's Brook Farm and Seasonal Corner.

Sauce

1 medium onion, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz. can petite diced tomato
2 tbsp. tomato paste
vegetable stock
water
1 cup fresh basil, rough chop
1/2 tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, carrot, and garlic in olive oil on medium to medium high for 5 minutes taking care not to burn garlic. Add tomato paste and stir, coating the veg. Continue cooking 7-10 minutes or until veggies are all tender and the mixture takes on a nice orange color.

Add tomatoes and reserve can. Fill can half with vegetable stock and half with water. Add liquid to vegetable mixture followed by basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce, allowing sauce to simmer somewhat briskly for 35-40 minutes. Add agave and balsamic vinegar and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Lemon Basil "Ricotta"

1 package extra firm tofu, pressed
2 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
8-10 fresh basil leaves, rough chop
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. olive oil

Crumble tofu by hand into a mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Now get your hands a little dirty. Mash it thoroughly. Incorporate all ingredients together until texture resembles ricotta. Now let mixture set for about a half hour in the refrigerator or until ready for assembly.


Fillings
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced lengthwise, about 1/4" thick
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat eggplant with olive oil and season to taste. Place on shallow baking pan and cook for 25 minutes, turning over halfway.

5 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 oz. olive oil

Saute mushrooms over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until tender and all excess liquid is evaporated.

Assembly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a lightly oiled 9X9 baking pan layer as such:

  • 1/2 cup sauce
  • ready to bake lasagna noodles
  • eggplant
  • mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sauce
  • 1/2 of the ricotta mixture
  • ready to bake lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup sauce
  • ready to bake lasagna noodles
  • eggplant
  • mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sauce
  • 1/2 of the ricotta mixture
  • ready to bake lasagna noodles

Top with sauce and sprinkle with vegan grated "cheese" if you've got it. We used this one. Drizzle olive oil. Loosely cover pan with foil. Cook for 35 minutes then remove foil. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until top is golden and bubbling.

Support Local Farmers & Neighbors
Animal Rights Maine Launches 1st Monthly Food Drive at Saturday’s Deering Oaks Farmers Market

WHEN: Saturday August 7, 2010, 7 A.M. - 12 P.M. – Rain or Shine.

WHERE: Deering Oaks Park, Portland, Maine (Park Avenue and State Street).

WHAT: Fresh Produce Food Drive. Animal Rights Maine (ARM) activists will staff a monthly food drive table at the Deering Oaks Farmers Market in Portland to collect donations of fresh fruits and vegetables. August’s donations will be given to Preble Street, where over 6,000 free meals are served to neighbors in need each week.

Animal Rights Maine (ARM) is launching the first of its monthly Farmers’ Market food drives on Saturday August 7th, 2010. The food drive will offer shoppers the opportunity to purchase fresh, local produce to donate to neighbors in need of hunger relief.

“There are hunger relief agencies that come in during the week day markets to pick up food farmers are unable to sell,” says Melissa Gates, founding member of Animal Rights Maine. Gates said that the food drive approach will continue this service so food is not wasted, but will also offer local farmers the opportunity to maximize their profits by providing a forum for shoppers to purchase and then donate fresh produce. “It’s a win-win situation. The farmers will benefit, people will be able to participate in fostering local food systems and aiding in hunger relief initiatives, and our neighbors in need of food will receive the most fresh, local, healthy produce available,” added Gates.

“Animal rights is about more than advocating for animals; it is about promoting a philosophy of life that is based upon compassion for all,” said Gates. “The promotion of local, sustainable, plant-based food systems and a vegan diet are pivotal aspects of this healthy, all encompassing, compassionate philosophy.”

Farmers’ Market shoppers are encouraged to look for the “Fresh Produce Food Drive” sign at the August 7th market to participate in the food drive. All fresh produce collected will be donated, free of charge, to Preble Street Resource Center, where 6,000 meals are served in three kitchens to our neighbors in need each week.

Questions…? Please contact Melissa Gates at Animal Rights Maine: animalrightsmaine@yahoo.com or 207.409.5322. Thank you!

Scarborough Market Haul 7.11.10

So it's time for us to admit that as nice as the Saco Farmers' Market is, there are others in Southern Maine. It's probably out of convenience being that we live in Saco, but we've largely ignored the other markets in the area. We were out of town Saturday and so had to find another venue to get our produce fix this week. This worked out for the best since we were finally able to visit the farmers' market in Scarborough.

We've bought from Alewive's Brook Farm before in Saco, and knew that we would also find them when we visited the market in Scarborough, but we weren't at all prepared for the massive abundance of great stuff they would have. Their booth here is about triple in size to their display in Saco. This could probably be explained by their much closer proximity, being that their home base is in Cape Elizabeth. We were really jazzed to find some rutabaga and kale there, which we're planning on serving up tonight over grilled polenta cakes. Needless to say we'll keep supporting them in both locations, but finding their larger display in Scarborough was a revelation.
New to us was Root One. Very little info can be found about them online, but we know for sure they had some of the finest looking root vegetables available there today. We've kinda been beeten into submission lately so we opted to just pick up some cilantro. We are planning on hitting them up again though in the next couple of weeks. Especially since on our visit we noticed scrawled on the sign board that they will soon be selling edamame. Look forward to more on that.

We were also excited to find some nice looking bok choy at the booth of Fresh Start Farms. The concept is mostly what grabbed our attention though. The operation is part of Cultivating Community, a MOFGA certified organization based in Portland that assists refugees and immigrants displaced by the conflict in Somalia. Farmers back home, the displaced are bringing their skills here to Maine and are, as stated on their website, dedicated to "strengthening communities by growing food, preparing youth leaders and new farmers, and promoting social and environmental justice". This is a worthwhile local project to get behind. Learn more about their community by watching this video or by following on Twitter.

Single Somali-Bantu Mothers Farm in Maine (Extended Version) from Amy Brown on Vimeo.


Today's haul:


  • kohlrabi, Fresh Start Farms
  • bok choy, Fresh Start Farms
  • cilantro, Root One
  • rutabaga, Alewive's Brook Farm
  • scallions, Alewive's Brook Farm
  • kale, Alewive's Brook Farm
  • tomatoes, Alewive's Brook Farm
  • green leaf lettuce, Alewive's Brook Farm

Vegan Product Roundup 1

There are tons of specialty foods producers in Maine offering vegan products. When we started So.ME.Vegans we decided one of our primary areas of focus would be to find unique products made in Maine and expose them to the larger vegan community. This is to be the first in a series of posts focusing on such products. We stopped by Lois' Natural Marketplace in Scarborough and picked out three items we thought we'd share with you. Of course, you should be supporting your local vegan food producers wherever you are.

Check out the sidebar. You'll see Falafel Toasties by Papou's Kitchen, apparently a local legend. We say apparently because when we started the blog we got almost immediate feedback saying we needed to try the superstar of local vegan specialty offerings. Honestly we hadn't heard of them yet, despite the product originally being conceived of in 1986. We were truly missing out. This has got to be some of the most finely crafted falafel we've tried. Djgray1200 thought the seasoning was just right. A number of falafels we've tried have been bland, but then again in frozen food you always run the risk of getting something that's obnoxiously salty. This product walks that line masterfully. Missus Gray says they're cake like and not too crumbly or dry, something our other reviewer also picked up on. In addition, she appreciated the versatility of the patty, noting it could easily go either in a wrap or on a burger roll. The only glitch we found was in their cooking instructions which boil down to 'set your toaster to dark and pop in the Toasties'. We found it took a couple of rounds in the toaster to get the center of the patties to even thaw and that oven preparation worked out better for us. Only a minor inconvenience. We still think they're absolutely deserving of the accolades they've received from their fan-base.

Next up was one of the most unique little crackers either of us had tried. Maine Sea Biscuits by The Savory Baker in Windham have a wonderful spice blend consisting of paprika, cayenne, fenugreek, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and turmeric. It sounds like a lot right? Not at all. It's all done in perfect balance. The mild heat is a perfect counter to the sweetness of the blueberry wine in the biscuit, and it creates a flavor that reminds us of a gingersnap or molasses cookie. As if the ginger snap reference weren't enough, Missus Gray says the shape of the cookies remind her of Christmas as well. They're shaped like evergreens. Try them with soup of a fine vegan cheese like Dr. Cow.

We tried two bars from Mom's Organic Munchies of Freeport; the On-The-Go Goji-Pistachio and Choco-Fit Mint. Mom's bars are organic, gluten free, refined sugar free, and raw. This is real food in it's purest form. This is pretty calorie dense stuff since the bars are made with a lot of nut butters and seeds. We think these would be ideal for fueling for a day out hiking or for post run recovery. Both djgray1200 and Missus Gray picked the Goji-Pistachio as their preferred of the two bars. He said he appreciated the use of whole sunflower and pumpkin seeds for texture and also that he could pinpoint the unique flavor the dates offered. She also mentioned the pleasant texture and likened it to homemade fudge but didn't get much of the goji berry flavor.

Market Haul 7.3.10

The vibe is getting electric at the Saturday Saco Farmers' Market. More people are showing up every week. There's also a marked diversity in types of produce being offered. Is seems something new to play with is presenting itself on every visit. This week's offerings included new potatoes, zucchini, basil, garlic scapes, kale, carrots, leeks, Swiss chard, and peas. It was a little daunting trying to figure out what to select from the multitude of choices, but we managed. Now we finally get to try those kale chips.

We were elated to find out that the gorgeous pies offered by Higher Ground Enterprises of North Berwick are cruelty-free. We picked up the Maine Rhubarb Pie and were pleased to see the ingredient list was completely void of animal products. Rhubarb, sugar, flour, vegetable shortening, tapioca, and pie spices. Wonderful! They offer other products at the market as well but be advised that Grammy's Gram-ola does contain dry milk.

Today's haul:
  • raspberries, Alewive's Brook Farm
  • beets, Alewive's Brook Farm
  • carrots, Alewive's Brook Farm
  • basil, Snell Family Farm
  • kale, Seasonal Corner
  • snap peas, Seasonal Corner
  • rhubarb pie, Higher Ground Enterprises

Garlic Scape Biscuits

This idea has been kicking around in our heads for weeks. We've seriously just been waiting for the scapes to show up. If you read yesterday's post, you already know that garlic scapes just touched down at the Saco Farmers' Market and we scooped up as many as we could. They keep forever and we intend to keep playing with them in the coming weeks. We consider garlic scapes a product worthy of far more acclaim in the produce world. From what we could tell, not too many people are adding the gentle greens of young garlic into a biscuit, so we thought we'd try.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
6 tbsp. vegan margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic scapes
1/2 tbsp. egg replacer mixed with 1 1/2 tbsp. water for "egg" wash

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Thoroughly mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using a fork or dough cutter incorporate margarine with dry mix. Make sure you start with very cold vegan margarine and cut it into the dry mix until it appears course or resembles cornmeal. Make a well in the center of the flour and margarine mixture. Pour the soy milk into the well and mix it into the dry mix until it begins to come together. Add the garlic scapes and fold gently to distribute the scapes throughout. Be careful not to overwork as this encourages gluten development and could lead to a tougher texture. That's a big no-no in the biscuit game.

When the dough comes together turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about a minute adding a little more flour if the dough sticks. Roll the dough out to about a half inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or drink glass push firmly down onto the dough to cut out your biscuits. Try not to twist as you push down as this could crimp the edges of the dough together and inhibit fluffiness. If scraps remain, gently fold the pieces back together rather than try to work them into a ball. Again, we're trying to avoid tough biscuits with this step. Roll and cut as necessary. Place on an ungreased sheet and brush with egg replacer mixture. Cook on center rack in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. Enjoy while still warm. Makes a dozen biscuits.

A Market Morning

Every Saturday finds us at the Saco Farmers' Market without fail. Lately we've been chatting a lot with Dan Bedard from Seasonal Corner as featured in a previous post where he shared with us a recipe for Kale Chips. Today's visit with Dan brought news that a highfalutin NYC executive chef had gotten a hold of the recipe and went nuts for it. I don't doubt it. Don't sleep! Make yourselves some Kale Chips right now. Aside from kale, Dan had just what we've been anxiously awaiting for the last couple weeks. Garlic scapes were finally there this week! The idea is to hopefully work these into some biscuits so check back soon.

Not that Dan is the only farmer there. We're regulars to the Alewive's Brook Farm and, more and more now, Snell Family Farm's booths at the market. Today we picked up some gorgeous new potatoes and a hearty looking garlic stalk. It's our understanding that these are quite a lot more fibrous than young garlic greens and we're figuring they're prepared more as you would leeks. Do you, our readers, have any suggestions as to what you would like to see done with these ingredients? Toss your recipe requests our way, or share your own in the comments.

Today's haul:

  • garlic scapes, Seasonal Corner
  • swiss chard, Seasonal Corner
  • new potatoes, Snell Family Farm
  • garlic stalk, Snell Family Farm
See you all there next week!

A Non-Vegan Eating Vegan Meals

We've been looking for perspectives from others living in Maine and into local food. Being vegan wasn't a hard and fast prerequisite, just that those interested in submitting be open minded. It's important to understand that everyone started somewhere. It may be an ethical conflict that gets you started on the path to veganism. Maybe it's concern for the environment or personal well being. Veganism at it's roots is a rejection of violence. Violence to non-humans, the self, and the planet. I think our Twitter friend Marie from Freeport has been thinking about these things for a while. With that in mind, here's her guest submission.

A while back, I noticed some of the people in my Twitter stream talking about something called "Meatless Monday." I didn't know how it had started, but I thought, what a great idea! Pick one day a week and pledge to go meatless that day. I thought it was strictly for health reasons, but I figured, why not? Recently, I've done more and more reading about the campaign, and this is what I found out and how it's influenced me to eat less meat and animal products.

The Meatless Monday campaign has been around a while, apparently, but it's gotten much wider promotion due to Paul McCartney launching a Meat Free Monday campaign last year and getting his celebrity friends to join in. Here's an article with a short video, from June of 2009.

Before I realized exactly what Meatless Monday was all about, I had been eating vegetarian at least one day a week anyway. Growing up in a household where meat is the most important ingredient in any meal, even eating vegetarian a few days per week was a huge leap. Fortunately, my husband doesn't care what he eats, so there's none of the resistance people sometimes get from their spouses when they attempt to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Last week I made a potato curry dish, using a few cut-up potatoes boiled in water, and some sauteed garlic, onion and fresh ginger. When the potatoes got soft, I added a generous dollop of curry paste and some spinach. Served with a nice slice of crusty bread, it was a delicious meal, and I had the leftovers for breakfast the next morning. My husband enjoyed it and we felt a little healthier. I didn't miss the meat one bit!

This is how I arrived at my decision to eat less meat. One day, a couple of months ago, I was eating a piece of chicken and I started thinking, "what am I doing? I'm eating another animal." It's easy to forget the live bird when you buy it neatly packaged in the store; but, for instance, when you drive by someone's yard here in Freeport and see the gorgeous chickens walking around, it's harder to ignore the fact that one of these creatures was slaughtered, often brutally, to end up cooked on my plate. I love wildlife, and I wouldn't dream of killing one of the wild turkeys that appear in my back yard sometimes, so how can I justify eating a chicken?

A few months ago, I joined the Paul McCartney website forum, after buying one of his albums for my iPod. I began reading the posts, and in particular, the posts about vegetarianism and the environment. What I like about Paul McCartney's approach to encouraging vegetarianism is that he says, "this is what I do, and this is why." Regardless of how you feel about the morality of eating meat or using animals products, he makes a strong case for going meatless to support the environment.

To make matters worse, even without anyone eating a cow, farmers can cause damage to the environment just by using cow manure on their fields, something I read about often in the papers when I lived in the Midwest. My grand daughter lives in Wisconsin and she has a low immune system due to being born premature four years ago. I can't imagine her swimming in a lake contaminated with manure runoff, can you? Yet it's not against the law, it's entirely voluntary on the farmers' part.

So while I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, I am tossing all of these issues around in my mind on an ongoing basis, and going more and more meat free, not just one day a week, but several. I think everyone has their own motivations for not eating meat, and you can't force people into a certain lifestyle by preaching, as food is such a primal element in people's lives. People associate food with their mothers, and nurturing, and I still remember my mother making raspberry pie from the fresh raspberries we kids picked at our house in Winthrop. If someone came up to me and told me I wasn't allowed to eat raspberries anymore, I'd laugh in their face.

Since moving back to Maine almost four years ago, I've seen many wonderful examples of people living lifestyles that truly support and sustain our environment. I'd never thought of Maine as a state with lots of vegetarians and vegans. My experiences growing up in Maine as a child were limited to a few small towns, where most people ate meat as a matter of course. I find myself buying local more and more, thinking about the environment, and yes, going meat free. Like Paul McCartney, you provide a great example with a caring and non-judgmental attitude. I thank you, and I'm sure the chickens down the road thank you too.

Burgoo



Once oatmeal porridge or gruel, the word now means any of several stews, usually thick. Thus the word makes a happy substitute for the overworked pea-soup fog: "It fogged in thick as burgoo!"

Gould, John. MAINE LINGO: Boiled Owls, Billdads, & Wazzats. Camden, Maine: Down East Magazine, 1975

Seasonal Corner

We love linking up with farmers at the local markets and farm stands and what we're pleased that what we're doing is being received quite favorably. These guys and gals just love talking about their work with consumers who are excited about local agriculture. We're about a month in at the Saco Farmers' Market and things are really starting to pick up. We stopped in last weekend to pick up some produce and baked goods for the kids. While the sky threatened to open up I chatted with Dan Bedard of Seasonal Corner.

Seasonal Corner is a MOFGA certified farm in Biddeford that sells at the Saco Farmers' Market and produces fresh vegetables, herbs and berries. They've also got this great line of low temperature dried herbs and vegetables. This process ensures the highest quality in taste and nutrition. I didn't even mention the lettuces yet. We've been enjoying the most massive salads around here for the last couple of days

The quality of the food is of course first and foremost, but I thought maybe the coolest thing I learned in chatting with Dan was that he maintains the farm's Facebook page. He updates religiously each week before and after the market, telling what is going to be available that week, and another post in summary of the week's business at the market and offering thanks to the customers. The community is responsive and friendly and that's a community we want to be part of.

While I was at it I thought I would press Dan for a recipe. He was more than happy to oblige, and the ingredient highlighted is especially appropriate as Seasonal Corner was offering kale that week at the market. We'd love to claim that as insider information, but it's right there on the Facebook page for all to see. Go sign up. Now try Dan's recipe for Kale Chips.

The kale chips are very simple to cook. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Select baby kale leaves with small stems. Leaves should be no larger than 8 inches. Wash and pat dry. Lightly coat with first cold press olive oil and lightly season with sea salt. Cook coated kale until crispy. This should take about 8 to 10 minutes. It will reduce almost 75%. What a treat.

Traditional Pesto with Gnocchi

We were a little hesitant to post a recipe for pesto. It's really rather simplistic to make so why bother? We decided though, that it's the quality of the individual ingredients you select that's most important, and there's no shortage of those here in Maine for us to highlight.

The seeds for this idea were planted when Missus Gray brought home a bunch of fresh basil from Olivia's Garden in New Gloucester. Really that's not that out of the ordinary. It's on our shopping list every week anyway. Primarily because we've found that Olivia's consistently offers some of the highest quality tomatoes and basil around. If we're not buying farmers' market tomatoes, they're Olivia's. Olivia's Garden is also associated with Maine-ly Hydroponics and their greenhouses are close to Pineland at 163 Valley Farm Road, New Gloucester. Their fine 'maters often find their way to the Saco Farmers' Market as well.

Another face that's consistently at the Saco Farmers' Market is Lakonía Greek Products. It's their olive oil that we've decided to use as the other showcase flavor in our pesto. Lakonía is a family business with roots on the Peloponnese peninsula, in the company's namesake region. When founder Daphne Contraros Rioux rediscovered her homeland in 1990 she also discovered the fine quality unfiltered olive oils and after a while started shipping it back to the states, more specifically Saco, and selling it at the Farmer's Market. We love the stuff. Try the early harvest oils which are spicy, brash, and green in all the good ways. The late harvest is mellow and smooth with, as the website says, hints of almonds and sea spray. Sounds luscious! Try either here in the pesto depending upon your preference.

One last plug. Even though they're not in Maine, we think Rising Moon Organics products are swell. We coated their Garlic & Basil Gnocchi with our pesto and were real happy with the results. Many of their products are certified vegan and all of them are organic. Try the ravioli too.

1 bunch fresh basil, leaves removed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

In food processor combine garlic, walnuts, and kosher salt. Process to a fine grind. Add basil leaves and process again until the basil is minced. With processor running, slowly add olive oil followed by lemon juice. We gobbled ours right up but it will definitely store for a couple of weeks if properly refrigerated. Cover surface of pesto with a layer of olive oil to prevent discoloration. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Pertetter



Potato, as nearly as type can approximate the Aroostook County pronunciation.
(In Maine French, pomme de terre will be readily understood,
but patate is more likely. French fries are patates
frites
.)

Gould, John. MAINE LINGO: Boiled Owls, Billdads, & Wazzats. Camden, Maine: Down East Magazine, 1975

Vegan Bloggers and Traveling in Maine

We've made some great friends through Twitter recently. It fun to touch bases with other vegan bloggers who are doing similar work examining their own regions and writing about the unique experience of being vegan in that area. There are a couple of other vegan Maine blogs of note. Mitten Machen has a Bangor and Belfast focus along with being gluten-free, and Portland has Girl Gone Raw hosted by East End artist Elizabeth Fraser. Both are fantastic resources and bring something truly excellent to the table. We're happy to have them.

And that's just in Maine! There are vegan bloggers everywhere. We were excited to hear that there were vegan bloggers from neighboring regions both planning trips to/through Maine at around the same time. We enjoy hearing about others' experiences while visiting our state so we had to go over to the blogs of Cook. Vegan. Lover. and My Face is on Fire to catch up on how their trips went.

Mylène Ouellet has been on our radar for a while. As author of My Face is on Fire she focuses on abolitionist theory and the ethics of the consumer. When she posts, our ears perk up. That's why we were excited to hear she would be coming through Maine, stopping in Searsport, on her way to Pennsylvania. She writes,


Elm Cottage's website described it as being a vegan / vegetarian B & B, so
although I rolled my eyes a little at the mix of vegan and non-vegan
complementary toiletries that had been left for us in the bathroom, I shrugged
it off in anticipation of the plant-based breakfast we'd been promised. When we
saw the spread laid out for us, we were both wide-eyed in amazement. There was
toast, homemade pumpkin muffins, margarine, apricot "butter" and preserves,
green tea and coffee with soy milk, orange juice, granola and fresh
strawberries. Janet also brought out a couple of small casserole dishes, each
filled with a savoury mushroom-and-something stuffed tomato, which although not
exactly breakfast-y, were quite delicious.
The place sounds gorgeous. Mylène mentions beautiful gardens and an abundance of rescued non-human residents about. The visit to the Belfast area was rounded out by a visit to the Belfast Co-op which has a inclusive menu. It sounds as though, despite one understandably off-putting incident involving non-vegan yogurt, Mylène and friend enjoyed their trip through Maine's Mid-coast.

The other blog of note to have visited Maine recently is Cook. Vegan. Lover. The husband and wife behind the blog celebrated their 2nd wedding anniversary by visiting Portland. They're report is great fun to read. They jammed so much Southern Maine fun into one weekend that they had to divide their Portland experience into 3 parts! They visited LLBean, Soakology, Portland's Whole Foods, Stonewall Kitchen, Novare Res, Boda, and the Fore River Sanctuary. So much to do in Portland as a vegan! They say of Boda,


Our last yummy dish was Tofu Shrimp with glass noodles: Traditionally
cooked in a rustic earthenware pot with pork belly tempeh bacon, ginger,
celery, scallion, cilantro, and soy sauce. Served with jasmine steamed rice.
This is a silken dish, simple yet very pleasing. It is one of the few occasions
when noodles may be eaten with rice. Available vegetarian with organic tofu,
shiitake and tempeh bacon.

Had to admit, even though were here at So.ME.Vegans are Portland area foodies, Lindsay scooped us on Boda. Their visit included a multitude of hidden gems and it sounds like they had a hell of a time. Thanks for visiting our area and taking advantage of all we have to offer. See their reports, parts 1, 2, and 3 at Cook.Vegan. Lover.

Roasted Beet and Israeli Couscous Salad

Summer is quickly approaching and grills everywhere are being uncovered. It's time for picnics
and barbecues with all the trimmings. We're big fans of pasta salads and maybe even bigger fans of beets. Truth told, Missus Gray led a fairly sheltered life not having had beets until she was about a quarter century old. Now she can't get enough of them. We spotted some great looking beets being offered by Alewive's Brook Farm at last weekend's Saco Farmers Market.We saw this as the perfect opportunity to try to nail down a recipe that had been stewing in our minds for a while. Should be great as the weather gets warmer. Bring it to your next vegan barbecue!




3/4 pound beets (approx. 6)
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 package (8.8 oz.) Israeli couscous, cooked and cooled
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel beets and cut into matchstick sized pieces and place in a roasting pan. Do the same with the onions. Toss with kosher salt, black pepper, and 2 tsp. olive oil. Cover the dish and cook for 40 minutes or until beets are fork tender. Allow the beet and onion mixture to cool.

When cool add beet mixture to bowl with cooked Israeli couscous. Add vinegar and olive oil to roasting pan and use whisk to incorporate vinegar and oil with any remaining liquids from the beets. This stuff tastes great and we wouldn't want to leave it behind. It has great flavor and will add color to our salad. We've essentially made a pan vinaigrette.

Add pan dressing to couscous and beets and toss thoroughly to combine, adding walnuts as well. The color of the beets and vinaigrette will stain the Israeli couscous a deep pink and create the most eye-poppingest salad you've ever seen. Serves 8-10 depending on how much you dig beets. Dig. Beets. Yeah? Never mind.

Boiled Owls, Vegan Style

One of the most distinguishing differences between Mainahs and those "from-away" becomes evident when we open our mouths. It's not just the accents that give us away, it's the colloquial expressions as well. Both of us here at So.ME.Vegans have been witness to the unique vernacular having grown up here and have mentally filed away endless phrases that sound like complete gibberish anywhere else.

So we were especially intrigued when, on a recent visit to family in Hancock County, we stumbled upon a book published by Maine institution Down East Magazine in 1975. John Gould's MAINE LINGO is a treasure trove of such expressions. The phrases examined are rich in topic and varied in origin. We've got eats on the brain, so we naturally sort of gravitated to the expressions pertaining to food. Periodically we'll offer a phrase that especially tickled us and speaks to where we come from in the way that only true Maine dialect can. We thought this one seasonally quite fitting.

Well, whaddyaknow? It's rhubarb time right now! This also gets us thinking of a TVP version of a mincemeat pie. Stay tuned.

Gould, John. MAINE LINGO: Boiled Owls, Billdads, & Wazzats. Camden, Maine: Down East Magazine, 1975.

Kamasouptra

It was sweltering yesterday as I walked up from the Free Street parking garage to Monument Square. As I'm on my way to meet Mike and Sarah Jerome of Kamasouptra I keep thinking it's too hot for soup. It was the perfect day for the Portland Farmers' Market though which was winding down as I opened the doors to the Public Market House. As I crest the stairs to the second floor and take a look around I am forced to reconsider. I should know better by now; there are no bad days for soup.

What was once only a wholesale business in the basement of the Market House has burgeoned into a restaurant space, and a very attractive one at that. The open kitchen is picturesque and inviting. I was so wrong before, I was craving soup at this point. Fiending might be a more apt description. There was a list of 9 soups on that board, 6 of them vegan, and I wanted at 'em. The most difficult decision now was which to try first.

There was a vegan interpretation of a Scotch Broth made with a touch of lavender. Or should I try the gazpacho? Cool soup. Hot day. Logical, right? There was also a potato and fennel offering, crafted with just the right amount of fennel as to not be abusive, coming on subtly at the end. All were delicate, well crafted, and finely balanced.

Standouts for me ended up being the Maple Spiced Sweet Potato which is a right proper mix of sweet, savory, and heat; and the Chilled Fiddlehead and Rhubarb, of which I consumed a whole bowl. It took a minute to get my head around the idea of pairing fiddleheads and rhubarb, not that I felt that they were disperate flavors, just that I had never seen them employed together. It was indeed a pleasant surprise that they worked so well together. It was definitely the highlight of my visit. The ingredients were sourced right at the Farmers' Market that day and the freshness was evident. Look for the recipe to be posted here, generously offered to us by the creator, Mike Jerome, in the near future.

After chatting with Mike for a bit I was all the more behind their soup and mission. He's intent on letting fresh ingredients speak for themselves and believes it's really the vegetables and herbs that make the flavors we love, and that the meat is actually quite superfluous. He's obviously passionate. After having trained in 5 star restaurants it was actually The Soup Peddler of Austin, TX that set him on his way to soup dominance here in Portland. Soup as art? I'm with it. Check out Kamasouptra at Public Market House, 28 Monument Square in Portland.

Kamasouptra on Urbanspoon

Fiddlehead And Portabella Mushroom Ragout

It comes to pass every year and, although expected, it always bums us out. That's the time when fiddleheads are no longer readily available. We heard that they were on their way out so we had to get one more round in. Our arms were twisted though. When Colleen sent out the call on Twitter that Farm Fresh Connection had fiddleheads at a mere $4/pound. Who were we to ignore that?

So again we made the trip to their farm stand on Pleasant Hill Road in Freeport last Saturday. Our day of vegan discovery took us from the Saco Farmers' Market, to Farm Fresh, followed by Silly's, and finally home to hammer out some kitchen concepts. It was a fun packed day that yielded some great memories and this recipe. Enjoy!

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1 lb. fiddleheads well rinsed, ends trimmed
1/4 cup water
1/2 lb. portabella mushrooms, 1" dice
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. lemon juice
kosher salt and course ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat and add onions. Saute for two minutes. Reduce heat and cover, allowing onions to sweat for six minutes. Add garlic and cover again. Cook another two minutes. Add fiddleheads and water. Replace cover and increase heat to medium high. Steam fiddleheads with onion and garlic for about eight minutes.

Add mushrooms, thyme, and marjoram and toss with fiddlehead mixture and return to heat for an additional four minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss with lemon juice and serve over polenta. Make the polenta to your desired consistency. This ragout would be great accompanied by either a corn mush or a grilled polenta cake.

Sunday Morning Hash

This is Missus Gray's hash. It's tried and tested. It's been in the Sunday morning breakfast repertoire around our house since before we went vegan. It's so tasty it defies boundaries. It didn't always contain smoked paprika though. We recently realized there was no excuse for using paprika that wasn't smoked. It's an indispensable element of this dish. So swap out the potatoes for other varieties, use red onions or green, but please, PLEASE make sure you use smoked paprika. The husband had his with his maple mustard but it really is truly for those who like a spicy mustard. I'm not that hardcore.

2/3 pound each sliced 1/4" thick:

  • new red potatoes (not peeled)
  • new yellow potatoes (not peeled)
  • sweet potatoes (peeled)
1 3/4 cup onions sliced lengthwise
2 large garlic cloves chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
light pinch cayenne or to your taste
cooking spray

Boil potatoes at a rolling boil for 10 minutes or until fork tender depending upon your cooktop. Drain, cool, and reserve. In a large skillet, we like cast iron, heat oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Toss and DON'T SCORCH. Ever had scorched garlic? Blargh. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add potatoes, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, and salt. Toss to coat. Now the fun part. With spatula, shove mixture to one side of the pan and hit empty side with the cooking spray. Shove it again the other way and repeat. Press mixture firmly into bottom of pan making an even layer. Now don't touch. Walk away. Don't walk away, that's dangerous. Maybe as far as the sink. You want the bottom of the hash to get brown and crispy. This should take about 4-6 minutes.

Brown one side then flip. How many flips that takes you will probably depend on the size of your spatula. Don't worry if it gets broken up a little at this point. Press again, allowing underside to crisp. Home stretch! The idea is to get the crispy bits into the middle and create love throughout. Toss, and press again. Allow to crisp one last time for a couple minutes. It's not rocket science, just serve it! Serves 4 but we did it with 2.
Condiments are important. A sweet potato french fry is delicious but the right dip can put it right over the top. It's the accoutrements really that make life worth living. We've set out to prove it with this Maine Maple Mustard. We're highlighting the lighter flavors of Grade A Medium Amber from Maine Maple Products Inc. The flavor balance on this mustard leans toward the sweet side, but it's done in order to counterbalance the heat from the mustard. I'm quite fond of a sweet and spicy mustard and it was perfect this morning with some hash.

To offer some more depth of flavor we've also included beer. We picked a stout in complement to the maple flavors and we think the pairing is spot on. Go with your own favorite local stout. Here in Maine we happen to have a brewery of national acclaim. That brewery of course is Allagash Brewing Company, makers of innovative Belgian style beers, located right in Portland. There were a lot of people abuzz about their Allagash Black when it was first introduced a few years back. We were amongst those. Use this unique Belgian style stout for an extra touch of elegance in this maple mustard and nosh away. The sweet potato fries and pretzels are at the ready.

1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 cup water
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup stout
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tbsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. salt

Soak brown and yellow mustard seeds together in water for two hours. In food processor combine soaked mustard seeds and any remaining liquid with garlic and vinegar. Process until mustard seeds are busted up fairly well. Add maple syrup, beer, dry mustard, and salt processing until well incorporated. Makes about 2 cups.

A Very Silly Place


There is no other. If you live in or around Portland you probably already know about Silly's. If you don't, there's something decidedly wrong with you. Stop reading and go to 40 Washington Avenue now. Back yet? No? Ok, we'll wait. Now? Good. What did you have? If you're vegan like us, you should've had no problems finding something to eat on their eclectic menu.

Any place that offers Blue Mango Burgers is all right by us, and we've had them here on more than one occasion. But that's just one of the impressive number of vegan options available. It actually makes it a little hard at times. As vegans in Maine, we're somewhat used to identifying the one or two possibly veganizable items on the menu and having to run with that. Silly's has about 30 strictly vegan items on their menu, easily identified with a (v). The first time my wife and I went in there as vegans I think I stared at the menu for 10 minutes, unable to make up my mind.

That day I finally settled on the Tofu in a Dinghy. That's rice noodles, mushrooms, fried tofu, "cheese", and peanut sauce stuffed in a wrap and fried chimi style. Commence with the "oh face". It's hedonistic certainly, and today was the first time I've ventured to try it again since that day a while back. It's indulgent, junky, and super tasty. With a Geary's HSA alongside, you've got a perfect lunch of big flavors that will fill you up until next Tuesday. Their peanut sauce avoids the ultra-sweet peanut butter flavors I've gotten from some peanut sauces. Well done.

Amanda chose to customize a sandwich, and to delicious effect. I'm always doubtful of her mix and match approach, but she schools me every time. She chose the Vegan Deluxe Abdullah Wrap which, on paper, contains spinach, broccoli, green pepper, roasted red pepper, scallion, mushroom, carrot, Greek olives, and balsamic vinaigrette. Toss out the balsamic vinaigrette and add that famous peanut sauce, add some fried tofu and you've got a delicious sandwich remix. It was the highlight of the meal. She let me have a bite, but only one. The crisp, raw veg were fantastic texturally with the tofu. We both enjoyed their sweet potato fries with spicy vegan dipping sauce as we do every time we go. Try their unsweetened iced tea, served the proper way, in a mason jar.

Thanks to this East End heavy for offering one of the most vegan friendly menus in town, and an atmosphere that keeps us coming back. Later this summer, you'll find us on the patio!


Silly's on Urbanspoon

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Balsamic


Local food isn't only about local food producers. It's also about supporting independent stores who carry products you enjoy. LeRoux Kitchen on Commercial Street in Portland is a foodie's dream. They carry many, many specialty foodstuffs and kitchen gadgets. They started in Maine but have been well received, opening stores in Martha's Vineyard and most recently, Portsmouth, NH. One of our favorite product lines they offer has always been the wide selection of fine, aged balsamic vinegars. They come in funky, refillable bottles and there are a number of different flavors and ages to choose from. Try a white balsamic in a salad dressing or the more traditional pairing of balsamic with fruit such as strawberries.

Here we've used their 15 year balsamic at the end of the cooking process to add just a simple note of complexity to the earthy flavors of Brussels sprouts. Try this along side of a full flavored brown ale like Smuttynose's Old Brown Dog.

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, tough outer leaves removed, and halved
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 tbsp. olive oil
generous pinch pepper
1 1/2 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In roasting pan combine Brussels sprouts, sliced shallot, vegetable broth, olive oil, and pepper. Toss to coat and cover. Roast for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and peek inside. Looks good, yeah? We're not done. Add balsamic, salt to taste, and stir to coat the sprouts. Make sure you're scraping up any caramelized bits on pan. That's the good stuff. Cover and cook for 15 more minutes. Serves 2 normal folks or 1 Jereme.
We've been getting in touch with a lot of folks through the blog. Some of them are finding us and we're reaching out trying to find them too. We've talked with representatives from Maine-based companies offering vegan products, farmers' markets, and groceries. It's been very rewarding making these connections. As a result of those connections made, today was a bit of a field trip. I, Jereme, went out with my two young children, 3 and 4, on the road headed up coast a bit. We had two spots to hit.

The first was Farm Fresh Connection at Wealden Farm in Freeport. I've been hearing a lot about this place having linked up with their rep on Twitter, Colleen. They've been in wholesale for almost 10 years, bringing together terrific, fresh products from a multitude of Maine farms but just opened the doors on their retail operation last weekend. We met with the husband and wife team at the helm John Schwenk, who was harvesting some lovely looking rhubarb, and Martha Putnam, who was readying a delivery for one of their clients. I happen to know from speaking with Colleen that Rosemont Market and Bakery stores in Yarmouth and Portland are currently carrying fingerlings and asparagus supplied to them by Farm Fresh. In the next day here we'll be heading into the kitchen to bring you an asparagus preparation that highlights all the freshness of this locally sourced asparagus. Get some yourself at the farm stand in Freeport at 19 Pleasant Hill Road.

Not too far of a trek from there is Sparhawk Mill, location of the bakery of Spelt Right Baking Co. A while back I got in touch with founder Beth George via her blog. She invited me to come see the bakery and get a little tour. I was a little unsure of bringing the kids with me on this one, it being a commercial food preparation environment. Not to worry. There were pictures all over the walls painted by young ones and photos of previous tours comprised of grammar school aged children proudly showing off doughy fingers posted.

Before today I was largely unaware of the mission of Spelt Right. Beth's son experienced health and behavioral issues that, with some patience and research, she determined to be attributable to wheat flour, preservatives, artificial colors, and highly processed sweeteners. Eliminating these products from their life did wonders for her son and now she shares what she's learned with the world. In fact she wasn't there today as she's off traveling New England sharing her own story and welcoming people to try the product themselves. To think we've been eating them all this time because we just thought they were the tastiest. More information on the many healthy advantages of spelt can be found here.

Get out there and interact with your farmers and food producers. Speaking from personal experience, it's one of the most rewarding things you can do, both for you and for them.

Bean Suppah

It's SUPPAH, not SUPPER. Get it right. It's ingrained in our history. Every one of us Mainers has been to at least one. It's the heart of the community. Not very vegan, but wholesome in it's own way. We've set out here to create a vegan version of the New England tradition. Baked beans are sacred, and here we think we've done them right.

We're all about utilizing the local bounty and it doesn't get much more local to us than Harris Farm; it's less than 6 miles away! They're our regular go-to for Maine Maple Sunday and they're a regular face at the Saco Farmers' Market which kicked off this weekend. We've included their fine maple product in this here recipe using their Grade A Dark Amber for the maple notes in our baked beans.

1 lb. white navy beans, soaked overnight
1 medium onion, rough chop
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/3 tbsp. tamari
2 tsp. dry mustard


Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Drain beans and put soaked beans into large pot with 3 parts water per 1 parts beans by volume. Bring water to boil. Reduce to low, rolling boil and cook for 20 minutes. While beans are cooking put onions and garlic in large, deep casserole or preferably a beanpot. Drain and rinse par-cooked beans, reserving the cooking liquid.

In a saucepan, combine 2 cups liquid from the beans, molasses, maple syrup, ketchup, vinegar, tamari, and dry mustard, heating gently as to incorporate. As the sauce gets yummers, place beans in casserole with onions and garlic. Top with sauce, cover, and bake. After two hours check the beans to make sure they're not getting dry. If necessary, add more of your reserved cooking liquid. Replace cover, cooking for an additional 2 hours. You'll be able to tell when the beans are done by pressing them gently. They should yield under light pressure, their skin breaking and getting a little smooshy. Makes 8 hearty servings.

While we were at it we whipped up a brown bread recipe too. It's not much of a bean suppah without the brown bread after all. Couldn't we all benefit from a little more molasses in our life anyway?

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine all dry ingredients. In another bowl combine all wet ingredients making sure molasses and maple syrup are incorporated. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Now pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir with dry ingredients until just mixed. We poured ours into a 9" x 9" inch pan and baked for 40 minutes. Again, keep an eye on it and call it done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. 12 servings.

Thank You Spelt Right!

We're already hearing back from the community on So.ME.Vegans and apparently you guys dig it! We're meeting some great people and learning about some great local products. We've long been fans of Spelt Right Baking Co out of Yarmouth, and now it seems, they're fans of ours! Last week they published a blog post we submitted wherein we used their pizza dough for a pocket sandwich. Their dough, already vegan, is a perfect base on which to build vegan tasties!

We chose to stuff ours with broccolini, red onion, and Daiya cheddar. This miracle "cheese" just became available in the area, even though the vegan community has been buggin' about it since it's introduction in March of '09. That pocket was super tasty, but we weren't done. We also stuffed one with mushrooms, local Lalibela Farm tempeh, and MORE cheddar Daiya. Tasty chow for sure.Thanks again to Beth of Spelt Right for the support and for offering a product that fills the dietary needs of many. Probably most of all though, for being engaged with the community. Thanks for the support!

"Creamed" Fiddleheads On Toast

We anxiously await this time of year; the emergence of fiddleheads. Fiddleheads are the coiled leaves of the ostrich fern, harvested in the early Spring before they've had a chance to open. Many a meal at camp featured a side of these delicate wild greens. They're delicious simply blanched or if you're looking for something a little richer, coat and deep fry the buggers.

We decided to offer a take on creamed asparagus on toast, substituting the seasonal specialty of fiddleheads. My wife's suggestion is to include some fresh nutmeg as you would any béchamel, but I took a pass. I've included it in this recipe as optional. Find yourself a nice, local bakery with a hearty loaf of bread. Here we've used When Pigs Fly Sourdough.


1 pound fiddleheads well rinsed and ends trimmed
6 cups water
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
3 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
generous pinch dill weed (use fresh if you gots)
black pepper to taste
ground fresh nutmeg (optional)
4 slices of your favorite local bread

Season water with approximately 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Drop fiddleheads into boiling water and continue cooking on high for about 10 minutes.

While fiddleheads are boiling mix flour with soy milk and place over medium heat until it starts to thicken being careful not to boil. At this time your fiddleheads should be about done. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Add reserved cooking liquid to flour and soy milk mixture and continue to thicken adding pepper, dill, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Start your bread to toast. Toss cooked fiddleheads with finished "cream" sauce and serve over toast. Serves 4.

Try To Contain Your Excitement

As previously mentioned one of the goals of this blog will be to explore local, seasonal, fresh produce. There is no greater joy to us than Saturday mornings at the Saco Farmers' Market. We love the place so much in fact that this season, we decided to move in order to be closer to it. Actually we were already moving, just so happens the ideal place was conveniently close to the site of the Market. Now we're within walking distance of one of our favorite places to be as the Summer gears up.

Let it be known that the Market is opening in ONE WEEK on May 8th! Many of the vendors also sell meat, milk, cheese, and seafood. You're surely not going to hear about any of that here. We WILL bring you a bevy of fresh fruits and vegetables of the finest quality from Alewive's Brook Farm, Harris Farm, Seasonal Corner, Snell Family Farm, fine olive oils from Lakonia Greek Products, goodies from Higherground Enterprises, and crafts from Faithful Jewelry & Design. We'll frequently highlight ingredients we've found here and offer our own fun preparations. We'll be there on opening day, family in tow. See you there.

Photo from Snell Family Farm

The Great Vegan Staple

Hummus. Real original right? Maybe not, but the reason hummus is a staple is that vegans and omnis alike can enjoy it. There are a few things you can do to make hummus better though. First off, canned beans are for chumps. They have loads of sodium, are costly, and it's not that hard to prepare your beans from scratch anyway. Additionally, respect the traditional, but don't be afraid to make it your own. The inclusion of hot sauce, in this case Cholula, is our own touch and it serves the dual purpose of providing a bit of spice AND a little acid as well.

20 oz. cooked chickpeas
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. hot sauce (Cholula Original)
1/2 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
3 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions: Just whiz it all up until smooth.
Serves: Bring friends.

Introduction

We're Amanda and Jereme. We're a married couple and life-long Mainers. We are also vegan. This can be a bit of a challenge living in Southern Maine, but in July of 2009 we decided that all the positive effects of a cruelty-free life would unmistakably make the challenges worth it.

Since then we've both experienced clearer consciences and better health. We've seen financial benefits, and we now life with lesser impact on our environment. Those of you who live in or visit Maine know just how important that last bit is.

What we didn't expect was the expansion of our palates. When eliminating meat, dairy, eggs, and honey from one's diet, surely that's limiting, yes? Just the opposite. The door to a whole new world of flavors, textures, and colors was opened. This is what we wish to share with you.

On So.ME.Vegans we'll examine some of the classic dishes of Maine and how to modernize and veganize our, and your, favorites. We'll tell you about our favorite local vegan products, which you'll see in the sidebar. We also plan to visit the local farmers markets to get the freshest seasonal produce and hopefully offer some you new preparations. Stick with us. We'll treat ya right. Any feedback is appreciated and we look forward to interacting with you all.
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