Cornish Pasties, a timeless treat

What is a Cornish Pasty? The pasty (/’pa:sti/) is a traditional baked pastry and it is so versatile the possibilities are virtually endless. This recipe is my favorite way to fill a pasty, but I have also filled them with pie filling for a special personalized treat.

The Cornish Pasty gets its name from its origin, Cornwall, United Kingdom. But it wouldn’t take much work to find that most cultures all over the world have their own version of “The Pasty”. That is because it’s inexpensive and goes a long way.

So one day I brought some leftover pasties to work for lunch. A coworker was very intrigued by them and told me how a century ago Montana coal miners would bring pasties on the job with them. Coal miners did not make much money, so pasties were the ideal meal. Then more recently I was speaking with a co-worker who spent time living in South Korea and he said they have their own version of the pasty as well. It’s fascinating to see how cultures spread out all over the world have shared the same idea without ever even knowing it.

My Cornish Pasty recipe hits straight at the heart of comfort food. It’s filled with potatoes and freshly chopped vegetables. They can be eaten however you wish, there is no right or wrong way. I love ranch dressing (specifically by the brand “JUST”); I put it on a lot, and I enjoy dipping my pasties in ranch. The last time I made these, my incredible hubby found a recipe for a homemade vegetable gravy and HE made it!!! It was phenomenal! If I had the link I would share it, but you can probably google “vegan gravy recipes” and find yourself a good one.

In my recipe, I also share two different styles you could use to seal your pasties, the spiral (my personal favorite) takes a little practice, and “the fork” (I don’t know the technical term for it, but you use a fork), certainly the easiest method.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do in our home. Once you have the dough recipe down, remember, your possibilities are endless. How will you fill your pasties?

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Cornish Pasty

Makes 8 pasties

Prep: 45 minutes  Bake: 35 – 40 minutes

*Allow at least two hours for the dough to sit in the fridge

Pasty Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks cold vegan butter (I like to use Earth Balance), separated into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup of ice water

Filling ingredients:

  • 3 small raw potatoes, cut into small 1/4″ chunks
  • 2 medium size carrots, cut into small 1/4″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • (Optional Spices) garlic, cumin, and cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

*Remember, the dough needs at least two hours to sit in the fridge. I hate it when I start a recipe and learn halfway through that my dough needs to be refrigerated.

  1. In a food processor, add flour, salt, and butter chunks. Pulse until the flour and butter have become course and look like cornmeal. Make sure there isn’t any flour that has not been blended in. If so, use a rubber spatula to stir in the flour and then pulse the processor a few more times.
  2. Place the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Pour 1/2 a cup of water over the mixture. Begin folding the mixture back and forth with your rubber spatula until the dough starts to come together. Then with clean hands knead the dough. If the dough is still too dry add more water, one table-spoon at a time.
  3. Once the dough has come together, divide it in half and form into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for no less than two hours or up to 3 days.
  4. While you’re waiting for the dough to chill, add the chopped potatoes, chopped carrots, and peas to a mixing bowl. Add seasoning and then toss to coat. Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. On a floured surface (I use my large cutting board), lay out the first disk. Pat it down so it is flat and level. Next, sprinkle some flour on a sharp chopping knife, then cut the dough down the center vertically, and across the center horizontally, so you have four equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into a ball.
  6. Reflour your work surface and a rolling-pin. Set aside a saucer of water. Place one of the balls of dough in the center of your work space and then begin rolling it, with a rolling-pin, into a large circle, about 1/8″ thick.
  7. Using a one tablespoon measuring spoon, add the filling one tablespoon at a time. I can usually fit 3-4 tablespoons into my pasties.
  8. With your fingers or a basting brush, add water to edges of the dough (about 1/4″). You do not want it too wet, just enough for the edges to come together to create a seal. Now fold the dough over the filling and line up the edges to create a seal. Seal options: Decisions Decisions! Here are two options: Option 1: The fork method and the easiest. Once you’ve lined up the edges press down on them with a fork and done. For a little extra strength, to keep the edges from breaking, I will fold the edges (this makes them thicker) then I will press the edges down with a fork. This method makes the pasties look like cute little pies. Option 2: The spiral. This my personal favorite, because it makes this cheap pastry look like something that came straight from the local bakery. After the edges are lined up, moisten the top edge just a little. Then start at the end and twist inward. Use both of your hands, your right hand (if you’re right-handed, vis-versa if your left.) will start the spiral inward and your left hand will follow through and make it tight. When you’ve reached the other end there will be a little bit of a “tail” (extra dough from stretching) either add water to the “tail” and tuck it into the pasty or simply cut it off. If you’re nervous, you can tear a piece of dough from one of your balls and practice the spiral technique. It is pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
  9. Finally, cut slits into the top to make air vents. This can be a lot of fun. One time I cut our initials into the top.
  10. Place pasties on a greased baking pan and bake in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Once they are golden brown, allow them to cool for at least 5 minutes. Pasties can be eaten dry or dipped in a favorite dressing.

Enjoy!

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Chai Green Tea Smoothie

Welcome to my 20th blog post!

I had a friend request that I come up with a healthy chai latte recipe. Admittedly, I do not drink chai lattes too often. There are already so many good recipes for a vegan chai latte, so I decided to take the request and adapt it to my own morning routine. *I may decide to come up with my own latte recipe in the future, but I’ll have to think of something creative since it has been done so many times before.

My morning routine consists of vitamins, probiotics, and some kind of smoothie. My smoothie is usually made up of almond milk, maca, and either superfood powder, protein powder, or both. It’s nice to mix things up once in a while, which is why I am so excited to share this recipe.

If you like chai, this is the smoothie recipe for you. I combine chai spices with a matcha tea powder for a refreshing and energizing boost to any morning.

*Continue reading after the recipe to see my coffee hutch repurpose and to learn some new repurposing tips*

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Chai Green Tea Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 2 tsp Matcha powder
  • 1 tsp Chai spice (Chai spice recipe below)
  • 1 cup Spinach
  • 1 tbsp Chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp Almond butter or Peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp Agave Nectar

(Additional options: – Vanilla protein Powder – Super green powder – Kale – Ect.)

Chai Spice Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp Cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Ginger
  • 1 tbsp Allspice
  • 1/2 tbsp Ground cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp Nutmeg

*Mix all the spices together and store in a container.

Directions:

Add all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend on high until homogenous.

Enjoy!

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 A Trash to Treasure Hutch Repurpose

Back in November, my hubby brought home an old hutch for me to repurpose. It was so incredibly thoughtful for so many reasons. I tend to suffer from seasonal depression and keeping my hands busy on this hutch all winter was so helpful for fighting the winter blues. I can’t thank my hubby enough.

Here are the before and after images and the steps I took to give this beautiful piece of furniture life again. I decided to turn it into a beverage hutch… mostly for coffee and tea.

Step one was to detach the hardware and clean up the surfaces. There was also some really gross contact paper from the 1970’s in the drawers.

The next step was to strip off the varnish and the wood stain underneath. I Googled and used Pinterest for the best ways to do this. Most professionals unanimously agree that Citristrip is the best product for stripping varnish (Citristrip did not pay me to advertise their product. This is just my best recommendation.).

Unfortunatly, I discovered a layer of green paint underneath the varnish and stain. Really? Who uses woodstain over paint?! So I had to use the Citristrip a second time. The stripping agent worked very well. I was able to remove all of the layers.

  • Place a tarp on the ground before starting. This process is very messy!
  • Wear protective gloves. You do not want to get this stuff on your hand.
  • Brush a generous layer of Citristrip onto the surface, let it sit for about two hours.
  • Use a putty knife or a scraper to remove the varnish.
  • I also used a small wire brush to remove anything in grooves and cracks.
  • Keep a garbage bag and paper towels handy for clean up

There was a very sticky film left on my hutch after stripping and I couldn’t seem to clean it off with water or sand it down (it would just get caked onto the sand paper). So I went back to Google and found that Denatured Alcohol works very well for cleaning off stripped wood.                                                                         20171219_164759896058920.jpg

– Use gloves, a glass bowl and steel wool

– Wearing the gloves, pour the Denatured Alcohol into the glass bowl.

– Dip the steel wool into the Alcohol, let it soak and then scrub the wood. The alcohol evaporates very quickly but you can always use paper towels to wipe away excess moisture and grime.

*Denatured Alcohol is highly poisonous. Keep away from animals and children. Keep your hands protected.

After the wood is cleaned off, sand down for an extra smooth and clean surface. I used the alcohol again to clean the sawdust off the surface.

Hutch after it's been stripped

After a lot of elbow grease, my hutch was finally ready for it’s makeover. I hit Google again to try to find the best paint for wood furniture repurpose. I really did find THE BEST paint, General Finishes Milk Paint. (General Finishes did not pay for this advertisment. This is just my best recommendation. Although, this paint is so amazing that I would gladly advertise for them if they ever asked.) This paint is smooth and clean. It has the chalky finish of chalk paint, but it goes on more like a stain. I didn’t want to lose that beautiful chalky finish but I wanted to add a protective coat knowing that this hutch would see a lot of activity.  I ordered General Finishes Flat out Flat, another great product! It gives my hutch the protection it needs without taking away from the chalky finish that makes it so beautiful.

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I also added a wood stain and stencil to the countertop of the hutch. Click on the picture to read about how to revamp your old tired furniture by adding a fun stencil.

Now for the fun part, embelishments. Copper is very trendy right now and I am all about it, so I went with copper details. Copper ceiling tiles for the backboard as well as copper hindges and knobs!

Lastly I added a decorative molding piece (Found at the craft store) to the center. Then it was finally time to add it to my kitchen.

Completed repurposed hutch

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This has been my biggest repurposing project yet. It came out exactly how I imagined it should look. What a great feeling to put a lot of energy and time into doing something right and have it be a success. I have a lot of ideas for future repurposing projects and now I know how great it can be for dealing with the winter blues!

 

SW Sweet Potato Hors d’oeuvres

First of all, my apologies for not updating my blog in over a month, I have really missed it! My February calendar was packed and then my oven broke, also breaking my heart a little. I had to make stove-top dinners for two weeks! Good thing my hubby and I love stir-fry.

I am excited to share this week’s recipe because I’m not just sharing one recipe; I am sharing three recipes that when put together, make one delicious appetizer. You can take one of the recipes and try it alone if you wish too.

I feel like I am constantly saying, “Oh that food is my favorite!”; I say it so often and about so many different kinds of food that I honestly don’t even know what my true favorite is anymore. I bring this confession up because I love southwestern food! I always have, when I was a kid I tried to put salsa and ranch on everything! Then I discovered guacamole and a whole new love affair was born. This recipe is a southwestern style hors d’oeuvre with all of those wonderful flavors I’ve loved since I was a child.

*Keep scrolling to read about my visit to The Ewam Garden of One Thousand Buddhas.

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Southwestern Sweet Potato Hors d’oeuvres

Prep time: 30 – 35 minutes (unless you have a chopper or food slicer, that’ll cut your time in half.)

Makes 30 – 40 (a rough estimate because it depends on the size of the sweet potato)
Hors d’oeuvres Ingredients:

  • 3 log shaped sweet potatoes (This is my recommendation if you want all your hors d’oeuvres to resemble the same size.)
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil or cooking spray

Guacamole Ingredients:

  • 3 avocados
  • 1 vine ripe tomato seeded and chopped
  • half a red onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeño seeded and loosely chopped
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 tsp. of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. of finely chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste

Pico de gallo Ingredients:

  • 3 vine tomatoes seeded and chopped
  • half a red onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeño seeded and finely chopped
  • juice from half a lime
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt and garlic to taste

Directions:

  1. Set the oven heat to 450º and grease 1-2 baking sheets in olive oil or cooking spray
  2. Slice the sweet potatoes 1/8 inch thick and place them flat on the baking sheets
  3. When the oven is ready, place the baking sheets in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, after 10 minutes pull out the baking sheets and flip the potato slices. Then, place back into the oven and bake for another 5 – 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you want them to get tender, but not crispy or burned.
  4. While the sweet potatoes are baking, make the guacamole and pico de gallo (instructions below).
  5. Assembling: Place the sweet potato slices on your serving platter. Add a dollop of guacamole to each slice, then top the guacamole with a teaspoon of Pico de gallo. If you’re entertaining and want the hors d’oeuvres to look even fancier, garnish with fresh cilantro.

*Always be prepared. You may just find you have left over guacamole and/or pico de gallo, imagine the possibilities! Tacos, burritos or southwest salad!!! Or maybe a yummy snack with tortilla chips. Enjoy!
Guacamole Directions:

  1. Prepare the ingredients (i.e. chopping)
  2. In a food processor add minced garlic, cilantro, and jalapeño. Blend on high for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the avocados. The best way to do this is to slice vertically (avoid slicing through the seed), then squeeze the avocado into the processor (when you squeeze a ripe avocado the seed should pop right out.). Also add the lime juice squeezed from a whole lime and a pinch of salt. Blend in the processor until it is creamy and smooth.
  4. Transfer the avocado mixture to a bowl ( can be a serving bowl or a storage container).
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and chopped red onion. Fold them into the avocado mixture. Adjust the taste with a little more salt or lime juice.
  6. Chill in the refrigerator or serve immediately.

*Even with the lime juice, guacamole does not last long. You’ll want to eat this within one to two days.
Directions for the Pico de gallo:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and toss until the tomatoes and onions are coated evenly. Adjust taste to your liking.

*We love spicy food in our house, which is why I use Jalapeño. But if you are sensitive to spicy foods you can still make these recipes delicious and to your liking. Leave out the Jalapeño. Leave as is or add whatever you want.I recommend adding some cubed mango to the Pico de gallo. Mango is such a good complement to southwestern foods.

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The Ewam Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

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The Ewam Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is a real treasure that can be found in one of the most unexpected places; In the middle of nowhere, tucked between the valley of the surrounding mountains of western Montana. I had come across gorgeous pictures of this place a few years ago and knew it was going to be one of those places I just had to visit and see with my own eyes. My hubby and I recently made the decision to leave Montana within the year, so I honestly never thought I’d get the chance to visit the garden.

My friend and I had an engagement that took us to western Montana, to a town only 20 minutes away from the Ewan Garden of One Thousand Buddhas. When we were done with our engagement, I convinced her that this was a place she would not regret visiting.

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Here is an excerpt from their website http://www.ewambuddhagarden.org/on the purpose of this special place.

“Dedicated as an International Peace Center, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas supports people in cultivating inner peace and in preserving the ancient culture of Tibet. The mission of the Garden is to provide visitors of all faiths with an opportunity to generate profound merit, to reduce global negativities, and to bring about lasting peace. Through the use of the ancient symbols of Buddhism, the Garden awakens one’s natural inner qualities of joy, wisdom, and compassion.” – the Ewam Buddha Garden website.

I am not a Buddhist, but I have studied Buddhism a bit and I have so much respect for their culture and beliefs. Most of my favorite quotes come from the Dalai Lama himself.

“Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.” – Dalai Lama

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When we pulled up, they hadn’t yet opened their gates. So we sat and patiently waited while one of the kind workers came to open the gate and welcome us. I am already completely in love with the mountains and the mountains surround the garden were breath taking. It is the perfect place to find peace.

It was a chilly day with lots of snow and ice on the ground. The meditation pond was frozen over. There was a thick fog rolling in over the mountains and yet it was stunning. I didn’t care that my fingers and toes were starting to freeze, I just drank in the sights. I can’t imagine the kind of beauty inside and out of the garden during late spring and summer.

Here are some more sights from the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas.

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