Saturday, December 31, 2011

Vegan Cabbage Rolls for 24

We had a long vacation weekend so I thought I'd get a step ahead for this months exchange. In honor of my polish grandmother I've decided to make galumpkis (cabbage rolls) and pierogi for the group. For the galumpkis I did the following:


1 large head cabbage in as nice a condition as possible
4 cups uncooked rice
5 med onions diced
3 med carrots grated
2 packages Boca Crumbles
garlic powder to taste
thyme to taste
black pepper to taste
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 small cans tomato paste
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

In a large pot of boiling water submerge whole cabbage for 5 minutes. Coat casserole dishes with a little oil.

Cook rice. Saute onions and carrots. Mix together in large bowl. Mix in Bocca crumbles. Add spices to taste. 

Take out cabbage and remove as many leaves as are pliable. You will probably need to cut out a fair amount of thick core. Spoon out stuffing and roll leaves. Place in casserole dish. Repeat until finished.

In separate bowl mix sauce ingredients and spoon onto the stuffed leaves.

Cover with foil to freeze or bake at 350 for 45 minutes.


I slaved away at these tomatoes.

Labeled with Name, Date, and Cooking Instructions

They tasted wonderful! I hope the group enjoys them as much as we did.
Pierogi goodness was also done, but with such a simple recipe it's not really worth recreating. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December Exchange

With holidays and vacations we had a smaller group this time. One thing I learned this month is to avoid changing an agreed upon date and time if at all possible! Even with a smaller set to schedules to coordinate it still can throw a wrench into things. After many an email we found a time that worked for everyone. I was quite thankful to the rest of the group for being so gracious about it. But I suppose that this is kind of what an exchange group is about-helping each other out.

We exchanged: a variation of Quinoa Barley Veggie Soup, Pumpkin Muffins, Black Bean Soup, Veggie Jambalaya, Cornbread Muffins and Moroccan Lentil Stew.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Allergies, Dislikes and Restrictions

We are already a group with a fair amount of restrictions from what most people are used to cooking. If you have never had to leave meat, dairy or eggs behind coming up with recipes takes some research. If people have only ever prepared veggies or beans as side dishes then it is often a learning process to make them into fulfilling main dishes. But I suppose that this is one of the strengths of the group; we are in essence sharing the research and work by sharing our food and recipes. Groups like these can be helpful for people transitioning to plant based diets.

In the formation of the group we did a couple things. First, I sent out the request to Please respond to this email if there is anything you absolutely will not eat or food allergies in the family.”

We had an egg allergy which since the group is vegan is not a problem. I get sick from cumin. This is a sad one since cumin is a really wonderful spice. What people have done is make the dish without cumin and take out and label a portions worth for my share and then add the cumin for the rest of the group.This may not be workable for all dishes and takes a little extra thought but I was extremely thankful.

Another option is to make two options to share. Michelle did this by making 3 meals harvest stew and 3 meals stuffed peppers in November. (Depending on the meal it might be more workable to do two different medium size batches rather than one huge batch.) Those with a aversion to a certain item or allergy simply take the option without.

For dislikes there is also a degree to which people just need to be willing to deal. It can be hard enough cooking to your own family’s tastes let alone cooking to 5 other families. So we just keep in mind allergies and absolute aversions. This kind of reminded me of being part of a community supported farm. During the season you get what has been given rather than precisely what you pick. Being part of a group like this requires you to give up a little control. For some this is not something they are willing to do but for our family it has been well worth experience. Would you be willing to leave what's for dinner up to another person?

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Exchange

I did not know what to expect going into November. I have never been part of an exchange before and while I've cooked vegan for a while some of our group are omnivores. I did not know half of them personally and was a little anxious if this would be worth the effort. It is common in freezer exchanges to require that people not experiment with new recipes on the group but with people so unused to cooking freezer friendly vegan in such large quantities we kind of threw that one out. 

But as initial emails started going back and forth about what recipes people found or what dishes they made my mouth began to water. The group seemed to be really excited about what they were finding. In asking people to cook outside their comfort zone we ended up with some awesome results. 

I made spiced carrot lentil burgers, winter squash coconut curry soup and orange cranberry muffins. Here are some burgers and soup in progress:

Also exchanged:
Vegetarian Groundnut Stew
Chocolate Banana Muffins
Roasted Bell Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa
Hearty Pumpkin Soup
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Sweet Potato Burritos
and Black Bean Sloppy Joes

Sounds awesome doesn't it? Just making the list makes me hungry. I'd say for an afternoon of cooking I ended up with a plethora of delicious, healthy, and cruelty free food. 

Any recipes look like you might give them a try? Let us know how they go.  


Freezer exchanges often center around meat. I know groups that divide the work by assigning each person to cook chicken, pork or beef each month. Often vegetarian options are full of dairy. So I decided to ask around a little about starting a vegan exchange and I was surprised and delighted with the response.

For reasons from ethics to health to the environment I immediately found a group excited to cook vegan. After some initial emails back and forth discussing guidelines, food allergies and logistics we've begun exchanging plant based meals.

In starting this exchange I found lots of information and accounts of groups that use animal-based products. I wanted to make an account of the abundance and fun that a plant-based group can have. 

Have you ever been part of a freezer exchange? How did it go?

Group Guidelines

Our group is experimenting with the a modification of the guidelines found at this blog.
  • Make one meal for each person in the group.  I'll try to keep it to 5ish.  When the number of people in the group changes you will receive an email.
  • We will exchange meals on a set date and time each month. Currently it is the second Monday of the month at 8:30pm at Valerie’s house.
  • Each meal should feed 4 people.
  • Meals should be in an aluminum dish or a Ziplock brand Freezer bag (anything else doesn’t freeze well).
  • Let's try a make reasonably priced dishes--no need to buy expensive or exotic ingredients.
  • Write on the package with permanent marker what the meal is, the basic instructions, and the date (example: Chickpea Casserole, 350 for 30 min, 8/25/11,).  You will probably have to pull the meal out of the freezer ahead of time so that it can thaw.  Write the cook time that should be used once the meal is thawed.
  • Let's try to not experiment on the group. Please try the meal first or be reasonably sure that it will be awesome.
  • Do I need to be vegan? Omnivores are welcome to participate as long as the food shared is completely vegan.
  • If you decide you don’t want to be in the Meal Exchange anymore let Valerie know ASAP so other people can adjust the number of meals they are making.
  • Staples: Rice & Noodles are considered staples.  If a meal is to be served on top of rice or noodles then those ingredients don’t have to be included.  Otherwise include everything else the recipe calls for.