Archive for the ‘Independence Day’ Category

Star Spangeled Bonanza! – Independence Day 2010

July 5, 2010

I finally got to celebrate a summer holiday this year! Yesterday was America’s birthday – she turned 234 years old! To celebrate, I made a ridiculous amount of food and packed it up to take the American Village in Montevallo, Alabama, for a day filled with patriotic fun and frolic.

Trying on a bonnet at the American Village

I made pretty much everything the day before, so I started out my Independence Day with lots of hot oil, frying both my corn dogs and fried “chicken”. I realized that the only reason my attempts at fried “chicken” usually fail is because I usually tried to make my own chicken-style seitan to fry. And I tended to fail each time. So this year I took the pressure off and decided to try frying Gardein’s Chick’n Scallopini. IT WORKED!

Also: Before I start posting pictures, I just want to say that I’m sorry if the colors are kind of wonky. My screen has started being really weird, and I’m not sure if the colors are going to look the same to everyone else :-\ But anyway.. Vegan Fried Chicken!

I couldn’t find a recipe I wanted to use, so I kind of just made one up with what I knew about fried chicken (not that I ever did it.. but I’ve seen Paula Deen do it a few times).

I didn’t know if I should thaw the chick’n before hand, but I figured it wasn’t necessary. So I had two bowls: In one bowl, I whisked together some soymilk (about 1.5 cups), about 1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, and a heaping tablespoon of Nayonaise to thicken it up a bit. This created my “buttermilk”. In the other bowl, I had about 2 cups of flour, mixed with about 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. I dipped the chick’n into the buttermilk, letting the excess drip off, and then dipped it into the flour. I then did the same thing again, creating a second coating of the buttermilk and flour. Then I fried the chick’n in a large pot filled with about 4 inches of canola oil that had been heated to 350 degrees, flipping the chick’n over once and frying until golden brown. Then I drained the fried chick’n on paper towels.

It was really fantastic and crispy right after it was fried. It was also really great at room temperature on the picnic, and cold this morning out of the refrigerator. I was proud of myself 😀

It’s hard for me to celebrate on the 4th of July without vegan corn dogs. It’s the only day of the year I plan on making them, and I just can’t give that up. Which is good, because they’re awesome.

I made mini-corn dogs by cutting the veggie weiners in half before coating them in batter. I used this recipe, as always, because it’s fantastic, and added about 1/2  cup of soymilk  to the doubled recipe. I also don’t do the glass thing. It’s much easier to leave the batter in the bowl, coat the weiners in flour, and then throw them into the batter, spooning it over them. It’s also easier to insert the sticks after they’re fried, which also happens to lessen the risk of a fire. I used coffee stirrers for my mini-corn dogs. Here’s the doubled recipe, with my additions and changed instructions:

Vegan Corn Dogs

  • 12 tofu hot dogs or vegetarian hot dogs
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour, plus more for coating the veggie dogs
  • 2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg substitutes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups soymilk
  • 2 tablespoons melted shortening
  1. Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, mustard, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
  2. Add the soymilk, egg replacer and shortening and mix until very smooth.
  3. Roll the veggie dogs into the extra flour, shaking off any excess.
  4. Put the flour-coated veggie dogs (1-2 at a time) into the batter, spooning the batter over on top of the veggie dogs until they are completely coated.
  5. Fry veggie dogs in oil heated to 350°F until golden brown, about 2 minutes. (It’s easiest to pick up the veggie dogs out of the batter with a fork and push them off with another fork into oil.)
  6. Drain on paper towels. Impale with a wooden stake.

My sister and our picnic.

We had a picnic a few hours after we arrived at the American Village.

Blue Potato Salad, Strawberries and Blueberries, Corn Salad, Pickled Cucumbers

Fried Chicken, Corn Dogs, Apple Hand Pies

The apple hand pies were adapted from this recipe from BrownEyedBaker.com, who adapted it from somewhere else and so on and so forth.. Haha.  I replaced the butter with margarine, used vegan sour cream, and used an extra apple for the filling, as well as adding cinnamon. I used Granny Smith apples.  For the egg wash, I used agave nectar mixed with a bit of water. This recipe requires a LOT of chilling, so plan in advance when you’re going to make it!

Apple Hand Pies

For the pastry:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter (margarine), cut into pieces
½ cup sour cream
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup ice water

For the Filling:
3 apples, peeled, cored and diced small
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Two tablespoons agave nectar mixed with 1 tablespoons water (for egg wash)
Coarse sanding sugar, for decoration

1. To make the pastry, in a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. If preparing ahead of time, the dough can be stored at this point for up to one month in the freezer.

2. Divide the refrigerated dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4 1/2-inch-round biscuit cutter, cut seven circles out of the rolled dough. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling, cutting, and chilling process with the remaining half of dough. (I used a 4-inch cutter-if you can call a “cutter” the tin edge of the container that holds my smaller round cutters-and managed to get 12 from each dough half, after rerolling the scraps.)

3. Mix the diced apple with the sugar and cinnamon, and cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the apples are tender. Set aside. Prior to preparing the pies, drain any accumulated liquid from the apples.

4. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature until just pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoons filling (use the smaller amount for a 4-inch circle) onto one half of each circle of dough. Quickly brush a little cold water around the circumference of the dough, and fold it in half so the other side comes down over the filling, creating a semicircle. Seal the hand pie, and make a decorative edge by pressing the edges of the dough together with the back of a fork. Repeat process with remaining dough. Place the hand pies back on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and return to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.

5. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the chilled hand pies from the refrigerator, cut a small slit in each and lightly brush with the “egg wash”. Sprinkle sanding sugar generously over the pies, and place pies in the oven to bake. Bake until the hand pies are golden brown and just slightly cracked, anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes (mine were done in 30 minutes), depending on how thick you rolled the dough. Remove the pies from the oven, and let stand to cool slightly before serving.

Making the pies

They're worth the trouble!

For the Blue Potato Salad, I used this recipe from Everyday Food magazine. I just used blue potatoes instead of fingerling. Actually, the package said purple potatoes. But they were blue because I wanted them to be.

  • 2 1/2 pounds fingerling or small new potatoes, halved (quartered if large)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 small red onion, sliced
  1. Place potatoes in a large pot; cover with cold water by 1 inch and season generously with salt. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Run under cold water to cool slightly, then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together oil, mustard, vinegar, shallot, parsley, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes and onion and toss to combine. Serve at room temperature. (To store, refrigerate, up to overnight.)

The Corn Salad came from the same place, recipe below:

  • 6 ears corn, husks and silk removed
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise (1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  1. Remove kernels: Cut off tip of each cob; stand in a wide shallow bowl. With a sharp knife, slice downward to remove kernels.
  2. To bowl, add scallions, vinegar, and oil. Season generously with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Serve, or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.

The strawberries and blueberries just had a little sugar sprinkled on top. For the Pickled Cucumbers, I, once again, couldn’t find a recipe that fitted my needs and just had to make up one. They turned out well, though!

I just sliced some pickling cucumbers (the tiny ones) and put them in a bowl with about equal parts water and vinegar. Then I just added some fresh dill and a  teaspoon or so of sugar and let them sit in the sun for a few hours before refrigerating overnight.

While at the American Village, there was a lot of good, old-fashioned, colonial fun to be had! Me and my boyfriend did the sack races:

We visited the barn/dance hall:

And we also attended the Independence Ball:

Icahbod and Katrina?

After a while, it was time to set up camp for the evening programs and fireworks spectacular!




We had another picnic for dinner, with what was left from lunch:


These are the Grilled Vegetable and Pesto sandwiches I made. I used this recipe for the pesto, and the sandwich has grilled zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, red onions, and sauteed mushrooms.

Inside shot.

We played games like checkers and Scrabble while we waited on the fireworks and these guys:

Eventually, night fell, and the explosions in the sky began:

I had a really good day, with the exception of a tragedy that happened in the middle of it: During one of the reenactments, a horse slipped and fell on top of the man riding him. The man was taken away in a life saver helicopter, and there were a bunch of people standing around the horse for a while, trying to give it water and stuff.. But then they put a tarp over it.. Because it died. It made me really upset. I don’t understand why it died. I didn’t see what happened – I just saw him laying on the ground with all the people around him and all that happened after. But apparently when he got off the man, he fell/stumbled a few more times. Then one time, he didn’t get up. I got even more sad when I walked by a little later, and he was just laying there under the tarp with no one there. They had left him alone 😦

I’m all for historical reenactments, but if there are animals involved, there needs to be a veterinarian on site in case anything happens to them. I was just really upset about the whole thing, and I just don’t understand why the horse died just because he fell down. It just didn’t seem like they did enough for him, and it made me really mad. Of course the man was taken care of. But the horse just stayed there..

I don’t want to talk about it anymore.. 😦

I hope all my fellow Americans had a good holiday weekend!

– Andrea

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Independence Day 2009

July 5, 2009

I like being independent. So, it’s pretty awesome to have a day to celebrate that.

I’ve basically made the same meal for Independence Day the past few years. I really only change the dessert and some of the side dishes. This year was the best year yet: NO PIE! I don’t know why, but I’m not a big fan of pie. I like the make it – it’s fun. But after one slice, I just don’t want anymore. Then I’m stuck force-feeding myself pie until it’s all gone, because I don’t like to waste food. I don’t know, its’ just too heavy for me. I also wanted to add some vegetables to this year’s menu. So this is what I decided on:

Independence Day 2009

Independence Day 2009

Vegan Corn Dogs
Onion Rings
Grilled Zuchinni and Yellow Squash
Marinated Cole Slaw
Boiled Peanuts
Red, White, and Blue Sorbet Sundaes
Watermelon
Homemade Lemonade

Preparation

Preparation

I try to do most things early on, so that I’m not as rushed when it comes time to get everything ready. I was doing really well until my family showed up 30 minutes early. I don’t like it when there are a lot of people in the kitchen. It stresses me out. But, I made it through.

Vegan corn dogs, bitten

Vegan corn dogs, bitten

 This was the first year I made full-size corndogs. The years before, I always made corn “pups”. So I was excited to have a full-size corndog on a stick to celebrate my country’s heritage. I’ve used this recipe multiple times, and it’s always great. I double my batter, though, so I’m sure to have enough.

Vegan Corn Dogs

8 veggie dogs (I use Smart Dogs)
1 C yellow cornmeal
1 C flour
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
2 Ener-G egg substitutes
2 TBSP sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 C soymilk
2 TBSP melted vegetable shortening
Canola oil, for frying
Extra flour, for coating
Skewers, if desired

Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, mustard, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.  Add the soymilk, egg substitutes, and shortening. Mix until very smooth.
In a deep pan, bring 1/2 gallon of canola oil to 375 degrees. Coat the veggie dogs in flour, shaking off any excess. Working one at a time. dip each dog into the batter, until completely covered. Fry in heated oil until goden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stick with skewers.

I like to keep my onion rings warm and crispy by letting them stay in a 200 degree oven until I’m ready to serve them. I got this recipe here, but tripled the liquid measurements as it was just way too thick.

Onion Rings

2 large, round, sweet onions
1 1/2 C flour, plus more for dipping
1/2 C cornmeal
2 TSBP cornstarch
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp oil
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
Dash cayenne
1 1/2 C soymilk
Canola oil, for frying

Heat about 2 inches of oil in a deep skillet on medium – medium-high heat. Slice onions into thick rings, and coat with flour. Combine all other ingredients. Dip floured onions into batter and fry in hot oil until golden brown on one side. Flip rings over and fry until golden brown on the other side. Remove rings from oil, sprinkle with salt, and drain on a paper towel.

Grilled Zuchinni and Yellow Squash

2 zuchinni
4 yellow squash
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat grill over medium – medium-high heat. Trim the ends of the zuchinni and slice it into 1/4″ slices. Do the same for the yellow squash. Brush on olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Grill on both sides, until grill marks appear.

This coleslaw recipe is from one of my mom’s old cookbooks, A Taste of Georgia. I half the marinade recipe, since the whole thing really isn’t necessary. I also use a pre-shredded cole slaw mix instead of the 1 large cabbage suggested.

Marinated Cole Slaw

I large cabbage, shredded (1 bag cole slaw mix)
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 C vinegar
1/3 C vegetable oil

Combine cabbage, peppers, and onion. Bring all other ingredients to a boil and pour over cabbage. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for 24 hours. (Not necessary – it can be served as soon as it’s cool.)

I don’t expect many people outside of the South to understand the appeal of boiled peanuts. But, oh, are they good. I used to only get them off the side of the road on the way to Florida. While it’s more fun to buy them off the side of a dirt road, it’s not always possible. So I decided to try making them myself. It’s best to start these early on in the day – or the day before – as they take a very long time.

 Boiled Peanuts

1 pound raw peanuts, in shell
1/2 C salt (more or less, to taste)
An ongoing supply of water

Rinse peanuts to remove any dirt or other particles. Add peanuts and salt to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10-12 hours, adding water as necessary (every 30-45 minutes).
You can test a peanut every now and then to check for doneness, or to see if you should add more salt. The shells should be slightly soft and will open easily. The peanuts themselves should be soft, but not mushy.

Sorbet Sundae

Sorbet Sundae

I got this dessert idea from the July 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living. The version in the magazine included spoon-shaped cookies. That would have just taken too long, so I decided to make star-shaped sugar cookies. Here’s my version of the recipe:

 Red White and Blue Sorbet Sundae

1 pint raspberry sorbet (homemade, or store-bought)
1/2 C vanilla ice cream (homemade, or store-bought)
Blueberries, for garnish
Star-shaped sugar cookies

Divide the sorbet into four dessert dishes. Spread 2 TBSP vanilla ice cream over the top of the sorbet in each dish. Sprinkle each sundae with blueberries, and add a cookie garnish.

The cookie recipe I used is from The Vegan Family Cookbook (which I love!), but you can use your favorite sugar cookie recipe.

The worst part of making lemonade

The worst part of making lemonade

Another recipe from Martha Stewart:

Classic Lemonade

3 C fresh lemon juice (from about 20 lemons)
2 C sugar
4 C water
Extra lemon slices, for garnish

Pour lemon juice through a fine sieve and into a pitcher. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Stir in water, along with some ice. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with lemon slices.

Watermelon

Watermelon

Watermelon

Pretty obvious what to do here. Cut in half, slice, cut into wedges. Just wanted to add that if you haven’t tried watermelon with a little salt sprinkled on – do it! It’s good.

Ta-da! Independence Day, 2009!

Ta-da! Independence Day, 2009!

After lunch, I went with my boyfriend, my sister, and my sister’s boyfriend to the American Village in Montevallo, AL, to celebrate Independence day in a more historic fashion. I listened to a speech by Thomas Jefferson, watched a guy swallow swords, and learned the proper way to greet someone of the opposite sex. Oh, and I met this guy:

George Washington!

George Washington!

Until next time – Happy Holidays!