New Hampshire winters can be exquisitely beautiful. My family lives on five acres of NH woodland, surrounded by forest on all sides. Sparkling white snow covers our hilly landscape, and I can see distant white mountain tops from my dining room window. The woods behind are hushed, and filled with scattered animal tracks.
New Hampshire winters can also be long and harsh. We have a joke about our state motto. You know, the one, “Live Free or Die.” Well, if you have ever been through a NH winter, you might think it’s “Live, FREEZE, and Die.” Sometimes winter lasts late into April, and we have even had snow in the yard during May. Half the year is spent bundled up and grateful for the grocery stores’ long distance delivery of fresh veggies and flowers. There are a few ways to cope with freezing temperatures for six months or more: take up an outdoor hobby – such as skiing or snowshoeing, or cook up some delicious dishes that remind you of fresh warm locations.
We recently took to the second option. One of my all time favorite Vegan cookbooks is Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli. Everything in that book is dynamite. This recipe meal for Vegan Kebabs with Cilantro Coconut Rice is inspired by Chloe’s recipe, “Tropical Island Kebabs with Cilantro Rice.” You may want to add to the ambiance of dinner by playing ukulele music, such as Iz, during dinner to complete the tropical journey.
Tropical Vegan Kebabs with Cilantro Coconut Rice
There are three parts to this meal: the sweet and sour sauce, the kebabs, and the rice.
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Makes about 1 and 1/2 cups-
*note- you may want to double this recipe to have lots of left over sauce to use with your meal
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar, maple syrup OR agave
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 soy or tamari sauce
3 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs cornstarch
Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Whisk continuously on high/medium until sauce comes to a boil. Then, reduce heat to low and continue to whisk until the sauce has thickened. Set aside.
This is the fun part. You can add ANY combination of vegetables and ingredients that inspires you. Be sure to have a package of bamboo skewers- at least 20 skewers, depending on how many you will make, and to soak them in water. We used:
8 ounces of seitan, purchased
1 red onion, cut into big chunks
1 green pepper, seeded and cut into big chunks
1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into big chunks
1 cup of shiitake mushrooms, cut into big chunks
1 cup of pineapple chunks
1 cup of mango chunks
*big chunks refers to approximately 1 inch – big enough to fit on the skewer.
To cook the kebabs:
Skewer all your chunky vegetables and ingredients in any random or organized order. Brush with about 1/2 of your sweet and sour sauce. Be careful, those skewers are sharp!
*Note: You can use a BBQ grill or stove top grill to cook the kebabs. We baked the kebabs on high in the oven. It worked well.
If using grill, place skewers on grill and rotate with tongs until both sides are cooked well showing grill marks.
If using oven, place skewers in a lasagna pan. They may stick out the sides a bit. Place in oven at 450 F for about 10-15 minutes. Rotate skewers and brush with more sweet and sour sauce. Return to oven for another 10-15 minutes. Check frequently to avoid burning. When finished, coat with remaining sweet and sour sauce.
Cilantro Coconut Rice
1 cup Jasmine Rice, rinsed (can use long grain white rice)
1 cup of water
1 can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon pink salt (or other)
1 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs of chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
In a medium saucepan, combine water, coconut milk, rice, and salt and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat to low and simmer. When rice is absorbed, remove from heat and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Add oil, lemon juice, cilantro, and scallions.
Alternately, you can cook the rice in a rice cooker (that is what we use). Add water, coconut milk and rice, and cook according to manufacturer’s instruction. Add remaining ingredients when finished. Lightly fluff.
Garnish with a side of sauce, lime wedges, and cilantro.
Also by Angie: Upside Down Pineapple Cake
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Photo: Angie Follensbee-Hall