Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving with the Three Sisters

Thanksgiving is a vegetarian holiday, especially when you invite the Three Sisters, corn, beans, and squash. One of the participants at our Vegan Thanksgiving class earlier this month pointed out that, when planted together, corn provides the stalk on which the beans can climb, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil for the corn, and the broad squash leaves shade the ground and prevent weeds from growing. The Three Sisters also go together nutritionally. They include a grain (corn), beans, and a vegetable, the three pillars of a plant based diet.

Enjoy these recipes from our class. Go to for links to all the recipes from the class.

Pumpkin or Squash Pie

One 9 inch unbaked whole-wheat pie crust
1 pound cooked, mashed pumpkin or squash (about 3 cups)
10 ounces firm tofu
1/2 cup sweetener of choice
1/4 cup barley malt or 2 tablespoons molasses (optional)
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon
One to 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Blend all the ingredients until smooth in a food processor or in batches in a blender.  Pour into the unbaked pie crust, and bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350°F, and continue baking for an additional 40 minutes, or until the pie has risen and feels firm.

Serve either hot or cold.  You can bake it several days in advance and reheat it before serving.

Miyoko Schinner, The New Now and Zen Epicure, page 205.

Beans and Cornbread Casserole
from The Miso Book, the Art of Cooking with Miso
John and Jan Belleme
Serves:  4 - 5
2 cups pinto beans
5 cups water   
3” piece kombu (optional)
1½ tsp sea salt
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 cup diced bell peppers
1 rib celery, sliced
1 Tbs red or barley miso mixed with 1 Tbs water
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 Tbs whole wheat flour
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten (optional)
2 Tbs rice or maple syrup
½ - ⅔ cup water (use greater
amount if omitting egg)
1 Tbs vegetable oil

Day before  Cover the beans with plenty of water and soak over night (6-10 hours)
That day  Bring beans and three cups water to a boil, simmer for 2 minutes, and soak 1 - 2 hours.  Drain the beans and place in a pressure cooker* with 5 cups fresh water and
kombu, if using. Cover and bring to pressure, reduce the heat, and cook 50 to 60 minutes.  Allow the pressure to return to normal. (Instead of pressure cooking you may boil the beans in the fresh water until soft, 60 minutes or more.)  Add the salt, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, onion, carrot, bell pepper, and celery.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  The mixture should be thick like chili, but not dry.

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Stir the miso into the bean mixture, then pour the mixture into a 3-quart casserole.  Set aside.

To prepare the cornbread topping, combine the corn-meal, flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, if using, along with the syrup, water, and oil.  Add to the cornmeal mixture and stir until just blended.  Do not overstir.

Spoon the batter over the bean mixture.  (It will partially sink into the beans, but will rise as it bakes.)  Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cornbread crust is firm and golden. Serve hot.


Learn How to Make the Original Bread
Almost all the bread we eat today is made from commercial yeast, but it hasn't always been that way. Before about 1800 everyone made yeast bread with wild yeast. Yes, commercial yeast is convenient, but nothing can beat the taste of wild yeast, sourdough bread. Learn how to make this tasty loaf at our wild yeast bread class on December 6 at 6:30 PM at Vernon Hills High School. This will be a hands-on class, so you will make bread. To sign up call Donna at 847-932-2176 or Madeline at 847-932-2171 or register online at