Monday, February 4, 2013

The Versatile Dough

This is my absolute favorite recipe for pizza dough.  The dough's versatility extends far beyond pizza.  I use a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flour, but you can change the mix as you wish (more white flour, more whole wheat, all whole wheat, etc.).  If you add more of one, of course you'll need to subtract the same amount from the other.  Also, if you use more whole wheat flour, you'll need to increase your rising time a bit. 

THE Pizza Dough
(for 2 pizzas)

1 t sugar
1 1/2 warm water (105° to 110° F)
1 package of active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 T dry yeast or 1 fresh yeast cake)
3 T olive oil
1 t salt
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, whisk warm water and sugar together until  sugar is dissolved.  Add yeast and stir until it is mostly dissolved and water is cloudy.  Let sit, undisturbed, for ~10 minutes.  My kids love to watch the yeast "bloom", as it looks a little like fireworks in the bowl.
After yeast has had it's rest, add olive oil, salt, and stir in flour.  When dough comes together, turn out onto a heavily floured surface and knead, folding and rotating and incorporating as much flour as you need to keep it from sticking wildly to your hands.  I usually lay it down in a good pile of flour, ~2/3 c, and pat some flour onto the top before I begin kneading.  It will be quite sticky when you begin. Continue to knead it until you have a nice smooth and stretchy dough; this will take a few minutes.  Coat a large bowl with olive oil and move your dough into it, cover it with a cotton towel (large flour sack towels work beautifully) and allow it to rise, undisturbed, in a warm place for ~45 minutes to an hour. In the winter, just as I begin the dough I turn on the oven to 500° for 1 minute and then turn it off.  This provides a nice place to let the rising happen (make sure it isn't too hot and that you remembered to turn it off again).  It can also be made using the dough cycle of a bread machine following your machine's instructions on adding dry ingredients, liquid, and yeast.
While rising, prepare your 2 pans (we just use large rectangular cookie sheets) with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of ground cornmeal over the entire surface to prevent your dough from sticking.  
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and move it to a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough in half and return one half back to the bowl and cover it again.  Working with one at a time, roll each out to the desired size / thickness; you may need to add a sprinkle or rub of flour to prevent sticking. 
When it is the desired size, dust it with a tiny bit of flour, and fold it a time or two and quickly transfer it to the sheet and unfold it so it does not stick to itself.  Cover again and let it rise for 15-20 minutes-ish (if you like a softer crust).  I usually do not par-bake the naked crust before adding the toppings.
Preheat oven to 450°F.  Cover with sauce and toppings and bake for 8- 10 minutes or until crust is golden (and cheese is bubbly and golden, if using).  Ovens very, so you should keep an eye on it.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hand Printed Pillows

I am in the process of dyeing our sofas' sailcloth slipcovers a charcoal grey (which means I intend to do this soon but haven't actually started).  They are currently a VERY light natural cotton.  I have mentioned that I have three kids and a huge hound dog, right?  Off white is a ridiculous thing, on anything, to have in this house.  Our tile floors and walls are very light and bright, but they are very neutral.  I am pretty sure that the room can pull off the dark couches, but I know I have some work to do to get some color in there.  I have been playing around with appliqued and patchwork pillows a little bit for the shop and shows, but I have only printed a few, and I have only actually made one for us me.
Yesterday, I came across this post at A Beautiful Mess and I was quite inspired (so inspired, I might have actually entered the studio in a bit of a jog).  This was one of those projects that has been on my to-do list, so I had already purchased a few supplies for stencil printing, including some gorgeous colors of acrylic paint and liquid fabric medium for printing (to mix with the paint so that the print is permanent and washable after heat setting).  I am not sure how incredibly important the addition of the medium is;  have you ever tried to wash acrylic paint out of clothes?  I have, and I failed.
I usually print with blocks or screens using screen printing ink, so this project was two new things in one. It was pretty simple with easily accessed materials. Screen printing ink for fabric would absolutely work here, but it may be a little harder to find around town. 

For the rectangular print, I cut a stencil pattern out of a sturdy quilting template sheet with an Exacto knife and a teeny tiny hole punch, and I used a round foam pouncing sponge for the polka dots. It is important to have an additional surface to use to load your pouncers; spread a little paint on it, and make sure that you pick up a thin but even layer with your sponge or brush.  The paint should be applied using a tapping, up and down motion only until you have good coverage. Practicing on a scrap is a good idea.  Having a wet cloth around to clean your fingers frequently is also a good idea.

They need to dry for about 24 hours, and then they'll be ready to heat set (using an iron) and stitch up.
I am anxious to sew them up and see what they'll feel like after washing them, as the print is a little stiff. 

I'll post an update when they are finished up. 

©the high fiber 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Black Bean (Chard and Cashew) Dip

Today's inspiration comes from.....
..having a really huge bag of blue corn chips and nothing to dip them in. beans leftover in the fridge. urge to get fresh greens into my kids.
..and cashews.

This week, which may forever be known as Cashew Week, I finally tried my hand at cashew sour cream.  It was good and seemed at home in our burritos, but it needs some improvement.  Last night we had our old reliable cashew "Alfredo" with broccoli; clean plates all around.  Tonight I was planning on making this recipe from with a little variation, including replacing the cheese with cashews, but I just used them all up in this dip.  By the way, it was worth it.

Black Bean Dip, with Chard and Cashews

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 20 minutes
1/4 t ground cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1 t granulated garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c water
1 handful of Swiss chard- no need to chop it or remove the stems (or kale- with stems removed)
    Add these ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until it blends together.  Then add:
1/3 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped red, yellow, or orange bell pepper
    Pulse again until onions and peppers are finely chopped, and then add
1 can black beans, drained and slightly rinsed or ~2 cups cooked black beans
  Pulse again until you don't see whole beans.

And, you're done!
If you'd like to cut the fat down, you can omit the nuts altogether.  They do add a slight creamier texture, but you can likely obtain that by pureeing the beans longer in the end.  If you choose to omit them, you may need to then cut back on the water, using just enough to help your greens along.
Enjoy with fresh veggies, chips, etc.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Veggie Pot Pie

Finally!  I have had this one in the works for a little long while after several requests for the recipe.
This is a regular around here (nearly weekly), as everyONE cleans their plates everyTIME - except the kid that won't eat potatoes still has a couple of those left.  It is comforting, incredibly creamy, and seemingly indulgent.

 This is a vegan version, and I use a homemade biscuit dough instead of the traditional 2 crust. I always made the traditional version, but one night in a huge hurry with no time for rolling out dough I tried this "cheater pie", and with grand reviews from everyone, it is now the new usual. 
The great thing about this is that the only recipe you really need to strictly follow is the biscuit part.  Have some turnips, beets, corn, kale?  Throw it in!   You can also add more or less of something (or skip it altogether) to suit your tastes.  This recipe is for a 9X13 sized casserole dish, filled up!  You can cut it back, divide it, multiply it, etc.

Vegan Veggie Pot Pie
(a little redundant, no?)
~8 servings

3-4 large potatoes, chopped to ~1" squares
~7 large carrots, sliced to ~1/2 inch pieces
2 large bay leaves
1/2 lb fresh green beans, or a ~10 oz bag of  frozen
10 oz bag of frozen green peas
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups onion, finely diced (~ 3/4 large onion)
2 t all purpose seasoning*
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay **
 3 T all purpose flour
2 t salt
2 t fresh ground black pepper
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or soy milk, although the almond milk is the favorite here)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
5 T non hydrogenated shortening (I use Spectrum)
1 cup soy milk or almond milk with 1 t apple cider vinegar added and mixed well

Place potatoes and carrots in a large sauce pot and cover + 1 inch with water.  Add bay leaves and a dash of salt and pepper to the water.  Bring to a boil over high heat and turn down to medium high to maintain a gentle boil.  When potatoes are just able to pierce with a fork (~10 minutes, but check them frequently because you'll want firm, not mushy, potatoes), add frozen veggies.  If also using fresh veggies, then add them after the water returns to a boil.  Gently boil for 2 minutes and remove from heat and drain.  Place them back into the pot and set aside.
Go ahead and measure your cup of non dairy milk for the biscuits, add the vinegar, and allow it to sit.  Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350° F. 
Add olive oil to a pan heated over med low heat.  Add onions, seasoning, and Old Bay, stirring steadily to be sure the onions don't burn; you may need to adjust your heat lower - they should sizzle, but you shouldn't be terrified to look away for a second (that's too hot).  When the onions are soft, add the flour in, stirring with a wire whisk until flour and oil is an even mixture and don't worry if it's a little clumpy.  Quickly add the almond milk and stir gently but constantly with the whisk.  The mixture should thicken after a few minutes of a very gentle simmer.  When your mixture has reached a good creamy consistency, stir in S & P and remove from heat.  Pour over veggies and stir to mix well.  Transfer to a 9"X13" casserole dish and spread out evenly.
In a large bowl, begin biscuit dough by combining flour, baking powder and soda, and salt, and stir together with a whisk.  Add shortening and cut in with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal with no large bits left.  Form a well in the center and add the acidified non dairy milk.  Using a spoon, move the flour from the outside of the bowl to the center, gently combining them using as few strokes as possible.  When combined, drop serving sized spoonfuls of dough to cover the top of the veggies.
Bake for ~40 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned and look amazing.

* A mixture of 3/4 t dried thyme, 1/2 t dried basil, 1/2 t dried oregano, 1/2 t granulated garlic will work in place of the all purpose seasoning, as will a combination of fresh herbs.  Feel free to adjust and season as you prefer.  I sometimes add a little rosemary; I have also been known to add some garlic chives. 
** The Old Bay is not terribly important, but it is an amazing flavor booster.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Portable Energy, Right Quick

With minimal effort, you can throw these bars together in a matter of minutes.  They are a quick way to whip up a very portable and delicious snack that offers a good dose of protein and energy.  I will warn you that they are ridiculously addictive.  

Quick Portable Energy Bars

1 1/4 cup crunchy, natural peanut butter or almond butter (I use a mixture of both)
1/2 t coconut oil (optional, if using natural nut butters with no additional ingredients)
1/4 cup finely chopped raw cashews
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup toasted oats*  
1/4 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)**

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
Combine peanut or almond butter and coconut oil, if using, in small saucepan over low heat.  Ground nut butters do not melt very well when heated, so the addition of coconut oil is helpful, not to mention yummy.
Combine all other ingredients except chocolate chips in a small glass bowl.  When the peanut butter mixture has heated, pour over nuts and oats mixture and stir together.  Add chocolate chips and stir until just combined. The chips will begin to melt.
Spread onto parchment paper covered cookie sheet and cover with another piece of parchment.  Using a rolling pin or your hands, gently roll or spread the mixture out between the layers until you have an even layer of thickness.
Let cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or freezer if you want them faster!).
When they are firm, cut them up - a sharp, non serrated knife, pressing straight down works best- and enjoy them!

*(toast oats lightly in a skillet over med-low heat for about 3 minutes or until they become aromatic.)

** 1/8 cup of finely chopped crystallized ginger is another delicious option instead of raisins!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fresh Dip, No Beans

A week into being back to a pretty strict plant based diet, I am feeling amazing.  I am also getting really tired of hummus.  I've had two meals out recently and both times my only option on the menu was the hummus.  Hummus or toast with almond butter are usually my go-to's for a really quick snack.  Today, I was desperate for something a little more exciting.  Here is what I came up with after a look through the fridge (not currently very abundant) and the pantry.

Raw Green Cucumber Spread

2/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, large stems removed
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup fresh greens, chopped (I used collard greens)
1/2 medium sized cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender (using pulse/chop mode) and process until mixed well.  You may need to add a splash of water to help it come together.
Use as a dip for fresh veggies or a spread for toast.
Makes ~2 cups

It was light and refreshing and hit the spot!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


When I made the move to a vegan diet the egg was the most difficult thing to find my way without.  Learning the kitchen basics from my mom many years ago, I remember her stressing that she never strictly followed recipes unless she was baking. Baking is so unforgiving when you start messing with the ingredients.  In the beginning, rather than round up a bunch of vegan recipes and cookbooks, I tried to focus on altering some of my tried and true favorites, so I avoided baking altogether if an egg was involved .  A baker friend of mine brought us some vegan brownies one evening and shared the secret of replacing an egg with 1/4 cup of  silken tofu.  GENIUS!
poster from sewindieshop on Etsy

I finally do have a few of these tricks up my sleeve, but I was delighted to find this poster on Etsy this morning.
Now, if I could muster the courage to tackle some homemade vegan sour cream.