Garden Party

As mentioned in the last post, we’ve got a bit of a garden party tradition forming, where my neighbors and I have themed potlucks.  Next up?  Southern cooking.

So we just had the last get-together, but I was excited to start finding stuff to make for the next one.  I’m thinking mock chicken’n dumplin’s might be too lofty a goal.  Besides, I’ve never been big on that.  I thought of doing a biscuit and gravy kind of thing.  Or something like grits.  For lunch today, I felt inspired.  I made stuffed avocados (not Southern) with fried (red) tomatoes and spiced pears.  Doesn’t get much more Southern than that.

For the avocados, I sliced them right down the middle and removed the pit, and I filled them with an almond…paté, I guess you could call it?  I’ve read about various cheeses and spreads made with nuts, but had no specific recipe to refer to, so I ground about 1/4 cup of almonds with a splash of water, and (SURPRISE!) some lemon, dijon, tamari, and nutritional yeast.  My mother-in-law in Chile often serves up half an avocado with an egg salad in the center, so that’s kind of what I had in the back of my mind.  The flavors actually blended exceptionally well together, so I was pretty excited about finding this new way to enjoy avocado!  Pretty excited, indeed.

I didn’t do any research about the fried tomatoes, but I didn’t think they could be that hard to do.  It’s no surprise that tomatoes are moist, but just to be on the safe side, I set up a flax egg in a little container as a binder anyway.  The measurements I made were not exact, so forgive me for not being more organized for your sake.  However, I ground about half a cup of spelt flakes into flour, along with a pinch of sea salt, a little pepper and some garlic powder.  I sliced the ‘maters, dipped them in the flax egg, and rolled them in the spelt flour.  Then, I fried ’em up ’til they got all brown and crispy-like.  The Kentucky is coming back to me!  🙂  They were pretty good, but I’m not sure if the taste was spot-on, because I don’t recall ever having eaten fried tomatoes, green or red or otherwise.

The pears were just like your basic baked cinnamon apples, only with pears.  I actually made two batches.  In the first, I creamed together vegan butter and sugar, and just for fun I threw in the rest of the flax to give it a little volume.  And the cinnamon, of course.  The pears were still pretty hard, so I steamed them for several minutes before cutting the heat and adding the sauce.  They were delicious.  In fact, I ate the entire pear and only made the second batch out of guilt for not saving any cinnamon-fruity goodness for Seba.  So, I tried making the second version slightly healthier.  I made a runny flax “egg”, and added cinnamon with molasses.  It was a little richer, though less sweet, than the first version.  I did less than a spoonful of everything except the cinnamon and water.

I’m really starting to enjoy using flax in a lot of things, because it is so great at providing that sticky fullness factor!  Another favorite way to use it is in jam.  I often make my own “jam” by pureeing fruit, and I used to add a little agave, but more and more into my “real” food transition, the sweets are just too sweet.  Now I like to warm the fruit with a splash or two of water and mash it, leaving lots of little chunks, and I’ll add a tablespoon or slightly more than that to the fruit to allow it to gel.  Yes, you can distinguish the flavor, but for me, I’ve really come to enjoy it.  Maybe you will, too!

What are your favorite ways to use flax seeds or ground flax?  Any suggestions for vegan Southern food?  There will definitely be some collards and a cobbler or pie of some sort.  Accepting any and all suggestions!

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