I spotted some bags of home-grown sour cherries in the co-op freezer last week and grabbed a bag, even though I had no real plans for them. I thought I'd dump some in my green smoothies (which I just now remembered thinking about, so obviously I haven't done it yet), but instead I busted them out for a little dessert tonight.

Tart Cherry-Pear Crisp
For the filling:
About 5 cups of fruit (frewit). Peel, core, and cube the pears (I used two fat ones) and make sure your cherries are pitted.
1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp cornstarch

For the crumbly stuff:
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup ground almonds (trying to use up my nut pulp. Nut pulp!)
1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance
2 tbsp soaked flax seeds (I was trying to use these up also)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix fruity ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Mix crumbly ingredients in another bowl with your hands until the butter stuff is incorporated and all is crumbly. Dump fruit into 8 X 8 X 2 baking dish and top with crumble, making sure it's all covered. Bake for 40 minutes.

This was totally delicious but needed ice cream. Also more buttery stuff in the crumble, or maybe some oil. Something fatty, in any case. Still, I ate it:
Eaten cobbler.

Also for breakfast, with yogurt:
More uses for cobbler.

Next time I shall amp up the fruit, fat, and ginger content.

It hardly seems worthwhile to post a recipe for something as adaptable and easy as miso soup, but I'm home sick today with a head full of snot (bon appetit!) and all kinds of aches and pains and miso soup is one of the only things I reliably want to eat when I feel crappy. It also uses stuff I always have in my kitchen and requires minimal preparation, which is perfect when you really only have the energy to lie on the couch and maybe moan a bit.

Miso soup.

Miso Soup
For the broth:
2 cups or so of water, just off the boil
1 plop of miso, to taste--I use about a tablespoon
A squirt of Sri Racha or other Asian hot sauce, to taste
A dollop of sesame oil

For the soup's insides:
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp of fresh ginger, minced
1/2 a brick of firm tofu, cubed
A little oil for the pan
Veggies: shredded carrots, scallions, bean sprouts, chopped spinach, chopped romaine, or whatever your sickly heart desires. Today I used spinach, carrots, and romaine.
Sesame seeds

Heat your water (in a teapot is best!) and heat the oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a bit, then pat your tofu dry and chuck that in the pan too. Sprinkle a little soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos on the tofu, if you like (I like).

Meanwhile, chop your veggies into sweet little bits. When the water is hot, pour it into your biggest soup bowl and dissolve the miso in it. Add Sri Racha and sesame oil (if you have it). Stir well and taste it to ensure its deliciousness. Finally, scrape your saute pan into the broth and top with veggies and sesame seeds.

This is also delicious with noodles, obvs.

The title of this post pretty much gives it all away, but I'll write out the "recipe" for this salad anyway. It's become a staple at our house because it is so simple, delicious, fresh, and easy to put together.

Half a bag of arugula or mixed greens that include arugula (though this is also very good with spinach)
A smallish carrot, grated or better yet, shaved with your peeler until there is nothing left but a pile of carrot curls
A diced crunchy apple, like honeycrisp (our favorite) or granny smith
A handful of pumpkin seeds

For the dressing, whisk together a few tablespoons of olive oil or a mix of flaxseed and olive oils, a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar, a dash of Bragg's Liquid Aminos, and a squirt of Dijon mustard. It's also good with just the oil and vinegar, or with lemon instead of mustard, or with a squirt of agave nectar.

Toss it all together and serve it up.

Serves two enthusiastic eaters of salad, or one verrry hungry person who wants to make a meal of salad, or maybe three less enthusiastic eaters of salad.

I wanted to make something savory for tonight's gathering--again, without visiting the grocery store--so I whipped up this dippy-dip based on what I had on hand, which is really what The Makeshift Cook is all about.

Pesto Bean Dip
1 can white beans--I had soybeans, so that's what I used, mostly drained
1 bunch fresh basil (about 1/2 cup, super-packed), roughly chopped
1 small zucchini, grated
1 clove garlic, pressed/minced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh lemon juice and zest to taste
Salt and pepper ditto

Dump the beans and olive oil into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add other ingredients one at a time until incorporated. Feel free to add more olive oil or lemon juice as needed to get the texture you want. I used a blender, so I probably erred on the side of more liquid.

I swirled this together with the tail end of some delicious olive tapenade my sister brought me a few weeks ago (using up leftovers!!).

This stuff gives you the pesto flava without quite so much pesto fat, plus it has sneaky vegetables in it! Dip crackers, vegetables, pita chips, or your face into it.

BONUS: I used the leftovers as part of a pasta sauce. Leftovers in my house know who's boss.

There is a gathering of the ladies tonight, and the Buckeyes a la Kickpleat I made for the clothing swap a few weeks ago were specifically requested. I love these particular ladies, so I am willing to do a bit of manual labor to deliver the treats they desire. However, I was low on crunchy peanut butter and only have Kashi Go Lean cereal, and wanted to avoid making a special grocery store run, since I feel like I'm constantly food shopping. AND I made another batch of almond milk today and have all of this nut pulp (another hilarious nut-related phrase) left over. There was also some date soaking water, which is sweet and syrupy, and that needed to be used up. So I decided to combine all of my seeming problems into a single solution.

I'm glass half-full, it's true.

I don't recommend making this recipe modification I'm about to drop on you unless you've just made some almond milk and have a bunch of ground up, squeezed out almond stuff left over. Or I suppose you could pulse your own almonds into meal status, but I can think of better things to do with almonds. I spread the nut pulp out on a sheet and dried it out in the oven at the lowest setting for about an hour before adding it to the mixture.

I also cut the amount of sugar by more than half, and that definitely affects the texture. I found that I needed something to soak up all the delicious fat, so I chucked in some oat bran and coconut. I'd probably skip the coconut if I do this again. It really starts to make this taste aggressively like a healthy treat.

ALSO, I had some chocolate problems. My little chips melted just fine, but the chocolate was so thick I knew I was going to run out. So I tried to thin it with soymilk and the chocolate seized up and became unmeltable. I ended up laying a veneer of it on top of the balls, which was actually far less messy than the dip/roll technique. It tasted exactly the same--it just wasn't glossy.

Overall, an experiment with mixed results. But here's the recipe anyway.

Chocolate Salty Balls with Almond Meal
1 cup natural crunchy peanut butter, room temperature
1/3 cup Earth Balance, ditto
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons date soaking water, if you happen to have any--otherwise just skip or add more powdered sugar to taste
1 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal, crunched up so that the long twiggy bits are nice and small
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups melted semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 tsp cinnamon (if you like)

Mix everything but the chocolate together in about that order. Roll into 1 inch balls and stick in the freezer to firm up (at least an hour). Melt the chocolate, but don't let it get too hot. Mix in the cinnamon. Dip/roll the balls in the chocolate and line them up on a tray for refreezing. They don't need to stay in the freezer particularly long--just long enough for the chocolate to harden thoroughly.

This version is less Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, more Hippie at a Potluck. It may not be the treat the ladies requested, exactly, but tis still delicious.

In case you're ever jonesing for some nutrition information on that recipe you just made up, SparkRecipes has a sweet little calculator that allows you to plug in ingredients and amounts, determine the number of servings, and get yourself the nutrition info per serving. You have to register to save your recipes, but there's no reason you couldn't cut and paste the information and save it wherever you like. It's a handy little tool. Of course you may end up finding out that the Power Cookies you just made have 500 calories each, but you may choose to ignore that fact and carrying on eating them as before.

I'm experimenting with more raw and vegan foods these days, which has led to some new recipes, which is always good times. Last week I tried making my own Almond Milk from a recipe at happy foody and while I'm not sure I'm a total convert, it was super-easy. I used soaked dates to sweeten and good old fashioned gauze fabric to strain (since I don't own a nutbag, and seriously, how do people not laugh hysterically whenever they think about, mention, or use a nutbag? NUTBAG!!), and it worked just fine.

This almond milk has a thin texture that won't be a surprise to anyone who drinks rice milk, but it is thinner than the commercial almond milk I've tried. This doesn't really bother me. I'm also not sure it's more cost-effective than buying almond milk, at least if you're using organic almonds. But it certainly makes less waste and isn't really a drain on your time, so why not?

So far I'm liking it best on cereal and in smoothies. I haven't figured out yet what to do with the leftover pulp--maybe make a tart crust of some kind? Also, who knew that soaking almonds would make them so juicy and delicious? You might try that (with raw almonds, that is), even if nut milk (ALSO a hilarious phrase) doesn't interest you.

Sorry; I'm immature.

Local co-op Mississippi Market has a few housemade treats that I get on a pretty regular basis: the vegan muffaletta, which is fresh and delicious, and the curried lentil-rice salad, which is full of curry goodness. I've been meaning to try my hand at replicating this recipe for ages, and I finally got around to it recently, with reasonable success. The main difference between mine and the co-op's is that mine was drier, even though I kept whipping up extra dressing and adding it in. I guess I'm condemned to buying and eating more of their salad in the service of stealing their recipe.

Curried Lentil-Rice Salad
1 cup rice
1 cup french green lentils
Half a head of cauliflower
1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup currants
1/2 an onion, minced
3/4 cup cashews

Get the rice cooking and cook the lentils in a few cups of water until they are tender but not mushy. Break the cauliflower into little florets and lightly steam them--again, mush is not welcome here.

Then attack the dressing. Whisk together:

1/4 cup olive oil (the market's ingredient listing also uses peanut oil, but I didn't have any)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar--again, didn't have any on hand)
1 tsp of good quality curry powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
A healthy plop or two of apricot fruit spread. In fact, eyeball all of these measurements, because I was completely playing it by ear. The dressing looked like this when I made it:
Lentil rice salad dressing.

Dump the currants into the dressing to rehydrate a bit. Get to chopping your veg, if you haven't already. I also whisked the onion into the dressing, to mellow it out a little bit. When the rice and lentils are cooked and cooled slightly, mix them together with the cauliflower and bell peppers. Pour on your delicious dressing, add chopped cashews, and salt to taste.
Curried lentil rice salad, a la Mississippi Market.

It was imperfect, but I ate this every day for a week. Serve room temperature or cold.