Category Archives: Side Dish

♥ A Month Of Oktoberfesting

Yet another great thing about Tahoe is that the Oktoberfest activities kick off early in September, in an effort to beat the cold and the snow, and continue throughout most of October.

Hey, whatever prolongs the outdoor beer drinking and oompah music is just fine with us.

Do we have great neighbors or what?!

J and I weren’t properly dressed for the neighborhood Oktoberfest party (buckskin isn’t our thing, obviously), but we did bring a sauerkraut casserole and plenty of Paulaner and Spaten to the party. All was forgiven.

The sauerkraut casserole is a vegan take on my grandfather’s favorite casserole side dish (he was born in Deutschland). We never make it the same way twice, it seems. Sometimes we use Smart Bacon; sometimes we use Tofurky beer brats (preferred). If we want to make it a meal, we add a layer of shredded potatoes at the bottom of the casserole.

As far as I know, only the party hosts knew that J and I are vegan. Although there were a half-dozen casserole dishes lined up on the food table with every variation of sauerkraut one could imagine, ours was the only empty dish at the end of the evening. Another vegan success!

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Sauerkraut Casserole

Ingredients:

2 pounds red potatoes (optional), shredded and drained in a colander and squeezed dry

1 25-ounce jar Bubbies sauerkraut (or a 32-ounce jar of Eden organic sauerkraut), drained

1 large granny smith apple, peeled and diced

1 750-ML bottle of white wine

1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 juniper berries

2 Tablespoons oil

1 red onion, diced

1 14-ounce package Tofurky Beer Brats, sliced (or 1 5-ounce package Smart Bacon, chopped)

4 Tablespoons whole wheat flour whisked with enough water (or leftover wine) to make a thin paste

Directions:

If making a potato layer, place the shredded potatoes on a baking sheet liberally sprayed with oil. Broil for about 20 minutes on the middle rack of the oven. Flip the potatoes (it’s easier to divide the potatoes into sections before flipping) and return the baking sheet to the oven. Broil an extra 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool, then place the potatoes in the bottom of a 2.5 quart casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Lower the oven temperature to 375F.

Meanwhile, drain the sauerkraut in a colander and then place it in a large saucepan with the diced apple. Add the wine, covering the kraut and the apple, and cook over medium heat until the sauerkraut is soft and the liquid is slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the caraway seeds, black pepper and juniper berries.

While the kraut is cooking, heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sausage/bacon and sauté until the onions are golden brown.

Add the onion/sausage mixture to the cooked sauerkraut. Add the flour paste mixture to the sauerkraut mixture and stir well. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and place in the oven. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until a lovely golden brown.

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Oktoberfesting at the Squaw Valley village.

The usual entertainment.

Beer and pretzels: the best of Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfesting at historic Camp Richardson.

Everybody loves the greyt boy.

Gettin' his Oktoberfest on.

The oompah version of "Baby Got Back".

The fest comes to a close.

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♥ Imitation And Flattery

There are two vegan-friendly restaurants in South Lake Tahoe. Now, when I say “vegan-friendly”, I mean that the wait staff are knowledgeable about their menu items and about veganism in general. Specifically, they don’t subject us to nonsense like “but you still eat fish, right?” Both restaurants offers a variety of tempeh and tofu alternatives in most of their entrees.

During the summer months, we love the rooftop dining at Freshies with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe.  And Barbie’s wedding, Tahoe style, on the roof itself.

But, it’s hard to get a table at Freshies with less than an hour wait during the summer months when tourist traffic is the heaviest. And they refuse to take a dinner order to go. I guess being a local repeat customer amounts to nothing in their eyes. Hmph.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Maybe so, but flattery was the furthest thing from my mind when I came up with this copycat of my favorite meal at Freshies. It felt more like necessity, actually. I needed my big salad fix; and I needed it in less than an hour.

First, the appetizer: My Tri Fries. Yams, sweet potatoes and Russet potatoes fried up crisp and served with Caribbean spices. These babies are simply addictive. And, luckily, they were easy to replicate. Better still, my version is oven-fried, not deep-fried. The method is simple: toss 3 pounds of the cut potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon of seasoning (I used Walkerswood Dried Jamaican Jerk Seasoning). Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 450F for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking time.

My take on The Crunch, “the local’s favorite”: layered baby greens, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, broccoli, tomato, avocado and sunflower seeds. Freshies serves The Crunch with a creamy basil dressing, but it’s made with buttermilk so I always ordered a substitute vegan dressing. I liked the sound of a creamy basil dressing, so I played around and came up with my version, and it has fast become our favorite salad dressing.

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Creamy Basil Dressing

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup Vegenaise

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil

Directions:

Blend all ingredients with a handheld blender until smooth. I like to thin it with a bit of  water before serving.

♥ Grilled Vegetable Kebabs

Or Kebobs. Or Kabobs. I don’t know, apparently there are a few acceptable spellings for food skewered on a stick. No matter, with the Labor Day weekend fast approaching, I want to post another one of my favorite grilled meals.

I’ve made these vegetable kebabs for years, and they are always well received by meat and veggie eaters alike.

We like to grill slices of tofu or tempeh along with the kebabs, slathered with homemade barbecue sauce.

I usually serve the kebabs with steamed brown rice on the side to soak up the extra marinade. But since this weekend is the Labor Day holiday and it’s practically law to celebrate with outdoor grilling and picnic foods, I suggest serving with the appropriate side dishes:

Classic Potato Salad

Vegan “KFC” Copycat Coleslaw

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Grilled Vegetable Kebabs

Ingredients:

Marinade:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 Tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1 Tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons dried oregano or 2 Tablespoons fresh, finely chopped

2 teaspoons dried savory or 2 Tablespoons fresh, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1 Tablespoon fresh

2 teaspoons dried basil or 2 Tablespoons fresh, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Vegetable Suggestions:

Red or sweet onion

Red and/or yellow bell pepper

Green bell pepper

Zucchini or summer squash

Whole mushrooms

Whole cherry or grape tomatoes

Baby (or fingerlings) potatoes, pre-steamed

Directions:

Mix the marinade ingredients. Place the cut vegetables in a large, shallow dish and add the marinade. Cover the dish and refrigerate for several hours.  Stir occasionally while marinating.

While the grill is heating, skewer the vegetables. If using wooden skewers, soak them first in water for about 10 minutes.

Grill the vegetable skewers, turning and basting frequently with the marinade.  Pour the remaining marinade over the vegetables on a serving platter or use as a sauce for dipping. It’s great over steamed brown rice, too.

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Some time ago, I posted pictures of Snacky-The-Bear in our yard. He (she?) still visits infrequently, although he usually doesn’t leave much evidence of his nocturnal trips across our property. Unless the neighbors happen to leave a garbage can outside; in which case he will carry his stolen loot to a dark corner in our yard and rifle through its contents (bears are surprisingly neat, I have learned). Mr. Snacky enjoys grazing through the compost bin, too:

Another surprise for me, bears like wheat grass (this new pot of wheat grass–set out for the dog and cats–was four to five inches long). Who knew?!

I also posted pictures of Fatty-The-Squirrel, having some trouble getting his big behind in the new feeders that J made for them.

Mr. Fatty has busied himself making some architectural adjustments to the squirrel feeders. Problem solved!

♥ Hot Diggity Dogs!

Sunday morning, J and I traveled down the mountain to the charming small town of Minden, located on the eastern slope of the Sierras.

Minden was hosting its annual Arts & Crafts Fair and our local greyhound group had a “meet & greet” booth at the fair. We volunteered our greyt boy to help out and represent the cause.  The hounds greeted the public and lapped up the attention from the passersby.

While their humans answered questions about greyhounds and greyhound adoption. And why everybody should adopt or sponsor a greyhound.  🙂

Truthfully, we were just excited for O’Siris to see some fellow greyhounds again. They say that greyhounds are one of a few breeds that recognize their own kind and it seems to be true, at least for our boy. Except for the yellow lab down the street that O’Si is sweet on, greyhounds are the only dogs that our docile boy is immediately comfortable with.

Then, the rowdy girl showed up for her shift and began to “sing” for the boys. The others quickly joined in.

As for the rest of the fair, it was typical: artsy-craftsy home and yard decor, specialty “gourmet” sauces and the miracle skin cream/youth in a bottle promises. There was plenty of the typical fair food, too: funnel cakes (never had one), barbecued animal (ugh) and kettle corn. I tried two bites of the kettle corn (purchased by one of the greyt volunteers) and wondered why I used to like the stuff. Homemade caramel corn is SO much better (shameless plug here)!

I saw many corn dog wielding people walking by our booth, too. It pains me to admit it, but I once loved those hand-dipped and fried corn dogs that you could find every year at the county fair. I’m so ashamed. I’m sorry.

So, I had a renewed craving and an idea. I searched the web and found a fair-style corn dog recipe and I dug my “Twinkie” pan out of the back of the cupboard, and I got busy. The end result resembled a Twinkie more than the traditional corn dog, but they were delicious nonetheless (kids love them!). I barely managed to snap a picture of the Twinkie dogs before the sun went down, but you get the idea.

I used the regular size Lightlife Smart Dogs for this batch of corn dogs, because that was what I had on hand. The jumbo size Smart Dogs (or better yet, Tofurky or Field Roast sausages) would be a better fit for making corn dogs using the Twinkie pan method. And, of course, using less corn dog batter than I did so that the end result resembles a corn dog more and a Twinkie less. Lesson learned!

I served the corn dogs with organic ketchup and a quick agave mustard sauce  (that is awesome with chick’n tenders, by the way): 1/3 cup Dijon mustard, 2 Tablespoons agave nectar and 1 Tablespoon molasses.

To atone for the fact that I was serving “carnie” food for dinner, I made a huge bowl of Garlicky Massaged Kale Salad to even things out. If you are a fan of the kale salads found in Whole Foods or Co-Op delis, you will love this salad. It’s so addictive – we have it at least two times a week here!

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Baked Corn Twinkie Dogs

Ingredients:

1 cup white whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting

2/3 cup organic yellow cornmeal

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

1-1/4 cups soy milk mixed with 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

EnerG egg replacer for 1 egg

6 to 8 vegan hot dogs or sausages

Wooden sticks (or bamboo skewers), optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the Twinkie pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, paprika and mustard. Set aside.

Stir in the melted coconut oil, then make a well in the center. Add the egg replacer and the “buttermilk”. Mix until the batter is smooth and well-blended.

Place about 1/4 cup of flour on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Ladle a small amount of the corn dog batter into the bottom of the prepared Twinkie pan (just enough to coat the bottom). Cut the hot dogs (or sausages) to fit the pan, if necessary. Roll the dogs in the flour to coat and place in the pan. Ladle more batter over the dogs, just enough to cover, and wipe off any excess batter.

Place the pan in the oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a lovely golden brown. Insert sticks in the corn dogs just before serving, if desired.

Note: it is possible to bake corn dogs without a Twinkie pan. Insert the sticks into the floured hot dogs (or sausages) and dip the dogs in the batter, coating well. Place the battered dogs on a prepared (non-stick spray or parchment paper) baking sheet and place in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and scoop any batter that has slid off the corn dogs back into place and return the pan to the oven for the remainder of the baking time. Repeat the process if necessary.

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O’Siris at the end of his meet & greet  shift: all that work being charming for the public and socializing with the other hounds tires a boy out!