IMBB#19: The 'I can't believe I ate Vegan?!' Picnic
Shhh! Fred won't know he ate a totally Vegan lunch yesterday until he reads about it on this blog.
The end of September marks our annual canoeing trip on the Russian River. This is the third year we have gathered together a group of friends to meet at Burke's Canoes in Forestville. From there we paddle ten miles down the pea soup-green meandering river, past the towering, majestic Redwood trees, stopping at little beaches along the way to swim, paddle and picnic. The first year we took the trip, Fred and I capsized our canoe and ruined our lunch. Water found its way onto all our Deli goodies and even though we tried to dry our soggy baguette on the scorching hot steel surface of our canoe (it was about 100 degrees that day), most of our food was rendered unedible. Luckily our friends bailed us out and shared their own snacks with us. Last year I made a creamy potato salad and we managed to keep our boat upright. For yesterday's feastivities I decided to make a vegan picnic, without telling a soul what I was up to...
On this year's menu there were homemade wholewheat pita breads, delicious Dolmades which I made with fresh grape leaves (25 cents each from Knoll Tairwa Farm at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers' market), Falafel and two different types of Coleslaw.
The Dolmades, made using this recipe on Epicurious, were the most popular. They were incredibly easy to make and quite impressive. A friend who claims to not care in the slightest for this Greek take on finger food pronounced she actually liked them. Because they are freshly made, instead of using preserved leaves, they lack that vinegary taste that Dolmades often suffer from. The rice filling includes plently of fresh dill and mint (I just used one full bunch of each), juicy Early Girl tomatoes (instead of tinned as the recipe suggests), garlic and toasted pine nuts.
The two Coleslaws, both with a base of shredded white cabbage, shaved carrot and purple onion, were popular too. People were having difficulty deciding whether they preferred the creamy, mustardy coleslaw made with a Vegan mayo (psst, another secret to keep from Fred) and Maille mustard from France, or the brighter, more zingy version mixed with a little lime juice, rice vinegar, chilli jam and cilantro.
I was less happy with the Pita and the Falafel which weren't as delectable as the rest of the picnic items. The Falafel recipe I used tasted underseasoned, and even though I added some more salt, I think it would have benefited from yet more. I actually used dried chickpeas and despite soaking them for longer than the prescribed 'overnight' they were still a little too crunchy for my tastes. If I tried it again I would perhaps used tinned ones instead as well as adding more seasoning, more garlic and more overall flavour. They looked good though - forming them into perfectly-shaped balls was made easier by the use of a cookie scoop.
The pita (made from this darling recipe) were actually fine, but I prefer them toasted which wasn't possible because I just couldn't find the plug for my toaster inside my canoe. As I didn't have the required heat diffusing pan for making the breads, I improvised by inverting my steam basket into a skillet. Cooking each pita was a slow process!
Entries have started to roll in for this edition of IMBB. You have until September 30th to post up your entries. See here for more details of how to enter. I am amazed by the standards and the creativity so far. Thank you all for your efforts. I can't wait to see what else people will come up with.
PS. I am not sure if my friends actually read my blog that often, but if they happen to notice this particular post, I hope they won't mind that I experimented with a little bit of Veganism on them. Some of them even claimed to have liked the dodgy vegan chocolate, caramel, pecan crunch cookies I purposely forgot to mention.
|Archive Alert! On this day in 2004: The potato salad recipe from last year's Russian River picnic!|
posted in Food and IMBB # 19 + Vegan IMBB#19: The 'I can't believe I ate Vegan?!' Picnic