Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vegan's 100 = Much Better Than Work

This is the Vegan's 100 meme from the bittersweet blog, which is a super thing because 1) I can do this instead of pretending to work, 2) C'mon, it makes me think about FOOD, and 3) Wash, rinse, repeat.

Here's Hannah's original list

This is the best meme in the whole world right here.

Instructions!
1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

Foodie Bits!
1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis (I just...I can't do it)
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (oh, god, yes)
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish (Although, I do call Potato my little Knish sometimes)
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar
29. Baklava
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. Piña colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake (all of them, oh yes)
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough (x infiniti)

So, I think I've got a pretty well-rounded list of things I've tried up there, but it also looks like there's plenty more experimenting to be done. Especially that part about the meal at Candle 79. Must go see how I can get them to move to Seattle...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reader Recap

The last week or so has been a little busy-ish. I've been taking a lot of vacation days from work. I had a picnic for my knitting group to organize (Picknit!), I attended the Seattle Mariners Stitch'n Pitch, helped a friend clean her house, went for a really long walk, and drank a lot of coffee at my favorite coffee shop. Reading, hours and hours and hours of reading as well. I also spent two days taking an advanced Excel class for work which was pretty cool. All of this meant that last week I only worked 2 days and since I read my Google Reader almost exclusively at work, I had a lot of catching up to do this week. Oh, how I suffer.

So, since my camera is Officially Dead (craaaaaaaap) and there was so much good reading going on, here's a few of my favorites from the last week and a bit. There will be seven as that is my lucky number and this post will have to stop somewhere or else I'd just post everything I have starred in Google Reader and there are no words to accurately explain the volume of posts in there.

1. I could eat shortbread until I throw up in order to make room for more shortbread, and this rosewater shortbread just encourages that kind of behavior. (from have cake, will travel!)

2. Don't know if I'll get around to making it, but this is the cutest salad I've ever seen. (from Show Me Vegan)

3. I made this ridiculously good potato salad and was sad when it was over. It brings new meaning to the word "tangy". I subbed in fresh rosemary and green onions for the fresh dill and capers, though. But the idea of sour cream instead of mayo is pure genius. (from Vegan.Chicks.Rock)

4. I can't wait for this book to come out! Queering Animal Liberation. I hope it's even half as interesting as it sounds.

5. Even though I'm not that experienced with curry or plantains, I think the best course of action is to make Curried Plantains, and very soon. (from Bitchin' Vegan Kitchen)

6. Happyveganface has been making some really delicious-looking salads like this one with bulghur (which I've never tried) and the summertime orzo salad. I just recently found this blog and I've really been missing out!

7. Lastly, frozen peaches are just really, really pretty. (again from have cake, will travel!)

So that's what's kept me motivated and feeding my love affair with both food and the vegan blogosphere in general. The camera thing is a minor setback, but it'll get worked out and I kind of like doing these breakdowns, so don't expect this to be the last one. Later!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Salads! Word!

that is some classy servingware

(This one goes out to all the cubicle-dwelling desk-eaters out there)

(That's not people who eat desks, but rather people who eat at their desks)

I've been making lots of salads lately, but can you blame me? It's summertime and there's all this great produce to be had and it's too hot to cook all the time. Much better to cook for a little bit of time and then eat cold things all the rest of your days. All the rest of your days being until you run out of salads and have to make more salads.



Last weekend I made a new salad, Quinoa, Kale and Avocado Salad and it's so freaking green and good! The recipe came in my last CSA box. They always send along a newsletter thing with some recipes on the back, most of which are vegan, and usually all of them are vegetarian and therefore easily veganized. It was originally posted over at http://www.eatdrinkbetter.com/ and like I said it's awesome! You can top it with any salad dressing, I chose Trader Joe's Goddess Dressing (which I am fairly certain is exactly the same as Annie's Goddess dressing) and added some vegan pate that a friend brought to me from Canada last week. The pate adds some substance, but really this salad is so hearty you don't need it. I just really like the pate and have to put it in everything. If you keep out the avocado until right before serving and resign yourself to eating a whole avo with each serving (which I am more than okay with), this salad is super as leftovers for work, just cut up the avo and add it along with your pine nuts and dressing right before you eat. Not to mention, if you are a cube-dweller like myself, then knowing this salad is waiting for you at lunchtime makes going to work worth the effort. And don't we need all the help we can get on a Monday? Yes we do.

What You Need:
1 Cup uncooked quinoa
3 Stalks of kale
1 Sheet of dried nori
1/2 Cucumber
1/2 Cup pine nuts
1 Avocado
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
Salad dressing to taste

What You Do:
In a small pot combine one cup quinoa with 2 cups of salted water and bring to a boil. Cover, and lower heat, simmering for about 15 minutes, or until all water has been absorbed.

While the quinoa cooks, remove the stems from the kale. Discard and chop the leaves finely, adding them to a large bowl. The nori can be difficult to cut, so you may find it easier to just break off very small pieces to add to the salad. You can leave the skin on the cucumber, but remove the seeds and chop into small pieces.

Add the pine nuts and sesame seeds to the kale, nori and cucumbers. Add the avocado last (as you don’t want it to brown). Halve it, remove peel and pit, and chop into small pieces. Add to the salad along with the vinegar and lemon juice. Once the quinoa has cooked, stir it with a fork and transfer to the fridge to cool.




Also making an appearance recently are kittee's Tempeh Salad That's Like The Crack of Salads, and the aforementioned Spicy Tofu and Spelt Salad, except that instead of doing the baked tofu thing, I put in a can of garbanzo beans and it was fantastic! A great alternative to dealing with a hot oven in summertime, plus loads of fiber and spelt+beans=complete protein.

Next week the salads continue! The plan is to make Hannah's Cold Sesame Noodles which I guess are not technically a salad but...they have a vegetable and are cold so therefore I'm calling salad, and if I'm feeling adventurous the Asian Pear & Tempeh Salad with Wasabi Dressing as posted on Vegan. Chicks. Rock and much like her, never noticed in V-con in all the times I've gone flipping through it.


Taking a break from salads though, this morning I'm making my first ever solo loaf of bread! When I was little, I spent hundreds (maybe only dozens) of hours helping my mom with her baking projects, but haven't done that many myself. I remember I made pretzels once, but that seems different. That was in her kitchen with her ingredients and tools, so it was partially her food, this time it's all my doing, all mine. I'm using the Quick Yeast Bread recipe from the Dirty South half of the Hot Damn & Hell Yeah/The Dirty South Vegan Cookbook. I didn't realize how soothing kneading dough really is. You just get into this totally relaxed state and the 10 minutes flies by and I was a little sad I had to stop, really. And it was sort of miraculous (to a non-baker like me) that you mix the first ingredients and it's really wet and messy and you add the last cup of flour and it's just a crumbly mess and seems it will never come together and then *poof* 10 minutes later it's a beautiful smooth ball of dough. I love how it feels, smooth and cool like the underside of a forearm or a baby's cheek. Right now it's on it's first rise, then another rise in the loaf pan and then baking and then finally I will get to eat it. In the meantime I off to find a way to distract myself.


----------------
Now playing: Smittens - Nate Is Straight
via FoxyTunes

Friday, July 4, 2008

Yay Independence!

Happy 4th of July, y'all!

No food today, today is like a bonus lazy day but plans this weekend include Apple & Zucchini muffins, tabouli, spicy tofu and spelt salad, something inside of a tortilla for sure, and popsicles. (Yay popsicles!)

Here's something fun, this is what my blog looks like after I ran it though Wordle: (Click to see it big-ified)



If you make one yourself I'd really love to see it. I find them mesmerizing.

Happy 4th again, have fun, be safe, and eat well!

Love,
Bea

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Spicy Tempeh with Stuff and Other Stuff

This right here is where a picture would be if my camera wasn't being a son of a crap and out of commission AGAIN. Quarterly bonus time is coming up and work and who's getting a new camera? I think it's me. In the meantime, this here is someone else's pic of the dish.

Lately I have been feeling kind of like, you know, a failure on the challenging myself food-wise front. It's supposed to be the whole point of my blog and yet nothing has felt like much of a challenge, it's just so easy to stay in the habit of making food choices based primarily on how easy it is, which is not to say I've been making bad food so much as I haven't been making food I feel really proud of and can show to other food proclaiming "See this food, this is GOOD FOOD, suck it!" and imitating Nelson from the Simpsons.

So I was just the right kind of vulnerable while I was flipping through Veganomicon and the Spicy Tempeh with Broccoli Rabe and Rotini started winking at me suggestively in the photo section. I almost chickened out when I read the recipe, I mean, come on cooking things and then putting them aside and wiping the pan down and cooking them again?! Cooking three different things at once?!?! But then I looked closer, amazingly enough I actually had everything to make the dish so I thought "What the hizz." and got my challenge on. By the way, I'm fully aware that this recipe will not be such a challenge for most people out there, but I am pretty lazy. I think my laziness might end up being my legacy (along with my deep fear of birds). Like, if there were some kind of award I think I'd place in the top 5. Top 10 for sure. Assuming I was not too lazy to show up, of course. But, oh, my gods people, this ish is so good! There is nothing more gratifying than putting a lot of effort into a meal and having that meal be totally and completely worth it! It's nice and spicy, but not so spicy as to cancel out any other flavor. It was satisfying and felt healthy, and one of the best parts is that the cooking process leaves you these little pockets of time in which to clean up your dishes. I cook in a very small kitchen where counter space it as a premium, so not creating an ever-growing mountain of dishes that I will have to face later when I am in food coma is a gigantic plus for me. Specifically to the food though, it is so good I went to work today and said to at least three co-workers "Oh, my god, I made the best thing for dinner last night, I can't wait to have it for lunch." I got glassy-eyed responses which I choose to interpret at jealousy.

Here's some recipe action for ya, my changes are in the parentheses. Please, make, enjoy, savor. If you are like me, you will eat it while kicking yourself for returning Once before you could watch it again and instead watching Mystic Pizza.

Spicy Tempeh with Broccoli Rabe and Rotini

  • 1/2 pound whole wheat rotelle or other spiral-shaped pasta (I used fusilli)

Spicy fennel tempeh:

  • 1 (15 oz.) package tempeh, cubed
  • 1/2 c. plus 2T vegetable broth
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 T. fennel seeds
  • 1-1/2 t. red pepper flakes, or to taste (I went with just 1 tsp, I'm a spice wuss)
  • 1-1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1/2 t. red wine vinegar

Broccoli rabe:

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed and chopped coarsely (I used regular old broccoli, the book has a little saying it's okay to)
  • 2-3 T. white wine, water or vegetable stock
  • 2 t. red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Boil salted water for pasta and prepare according to package directions. Drain, toss with a teaspoon or so of olive oil, cover and keep warm.

While pasta is boiling, prepare other ingredients:

Prepare the tempeh:

Place the tempeh in a large, nonstick skillet. Whisk together the remaining ingredients listed under “Spicy fennel tempeh.” Pour over the tempeh, stir to coat, and cook over medium heat until the liquid starts to simmer. Cover the pan and steam the tempeh, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Transfer the tempeh to a bowl and crumble about half the cubes with the back of a spoon.

Wipe down the skillet to remove any leftover tempeh sauce, return the skillet to medium heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil . Drop a cube into the hot oil to test the temperature — if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Add the rest of the tempeh and stir-fry for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until it begins to brown. If the pasta is ready, add the tempeh to the pasta, toss and keep covered and warm. If not, just transfer to a bowl and keep covered and warm.

Prepare the broccoli rabe:

Pour the remaining olive oil into the pan and add the sliced garlic. When the garlic begins to sizzle (be careful not to burn it), stir and cook for about a minute. Add the broccoli rabe, stir to coat with the oil, sprinkle with a little salt, and cover the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with about 2 T. of the white wine (or water or broth) and steam for 8 to 10 minutes, until the broccoli rabe is bright green and its stems are tender. **Bea's Note Time: If you are using regular broccoli I might suggest using more liquid, assuming that is why my broccoli turned out...shall we say...crispy on one side. Or maybe I should have turned the heat down below medium. Honestly I'm open to suggestion.**

Remove the cover and sauté for an additional minute or two, until any excess liquid is absorbed. Pour the cooked broccoli rabe onto the tempeh and pasta, sprinkle with red wine or balsamic vinegar, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and toss to combine.

This recipe was originally posted at Kindly Pog Mo Thoin

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cashew Curried Soy Curls Salad

sweet! my camera works again!

This salad was inspired largely by the Tempeh Salad I've talked about before (seriously, if it were crack, I would be Whitney Houston) but also by a friend of mine who shared some curry she'd made with me. I've never considered myself a curry fan and spent most my life before this past year turning the other way and running from it. But veganism has made me a lot braver on the food front, so now I'm giving curry more of a chance.

If you don't have Soy Curls, get some. Barring that, you could use steamed tempeh or fake meaty strips or baked tofu or something. Also, I think my finished version could have used *more* curry, how do you like that for a non-curry fan? So if you really like curry put in a lot more curry powder than what I tell you to.

Salad Recipe Time!
1 cup Soy Curls
Some chicken-flavored seasoning or chicken-flavored broth (I used Bill's Best Chick'nish)
1/4 cup cashews, chopped small
2-3 carrots, grated
3 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1/4 cup vegan mayo
1/4 tsp curry powder (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (I use some kind of grill seasoning)
salt to taste

Put the Soy Curls and the chicken-flavored seasoning in a large bowl and cover with hot or boiling water (or hot chicken-flavored broth). Let sit for at least 10 minutes while you chop your vegetables.

Drain the Soy Curls and combine the veggies, cashews, and parsley. While the curls are draining mix the mayo and the curry powder to your liking. When the curls are drained and cooled, roughly chop and add to the veggies, then add the mayo and salt to taste and stir it all together. Eat right away or let cool off a big.

Enjoy!


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Oh, Sweet Gluttony

My camera is still having it's issue (I really must look into getting a decent one. Soon.) and I'm trying to get to 70% completion on the scarf I'm making so I'll keep it short. Plus Potato is being whiny for attention and just jumped on me.

Yesterday I made some fancy(to me)-ass food. I made the Onion and Leek Tart from Vegan Cooking School, which was my first experience with puff pastry and was very disappointed that Trader Joe's puff pastry is not vegan so I had to make an extra stop when I was out yesterday. It was so good! Kind of like a really light pizza and oniony and garlicky and I did the cream cheese on the bottom option and oh, so easy.

For dessert I finally got around to making kittee's No-Bake Strawberry Pie which did not turn out nearly as pretty as hers but was freaking delicious. Even more so when I had some for breakfast this morning. I used a pre-made graham cracker crust which I found on sale at Sidecar, and I would not recommend it, graham cracker crumbs do not like having cream cheese spread on them, and they don't care if it's vegan or not.

Today I've got some Red Beans and Rice from Fat Free Vegan going in the crock pot and I plan to make some zucchini bread with the lovely zucs that came in my CSA box last week, and another batch of the Tempeh Salad from pakupaku which I can never seem to get enough of, and I hope I never do.

I'm not at all sure how I'm going to fit out the door to go to work tomorrow but I'm pretty sure I don't care.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Pajama Pasta

If someone were to ask me how I would define this year (I expect it to happen any day now, sure), I would have to say it's the Year I Liked Cooked Greens. I've always preferred my veggies raw (except corn), when I was little my mommy used to call me a bunny rabbit because she'd find me in the fridge eating leaves of lettuce like chips and tomatoes like they were apples. She was okay with the lettuce but she got a little pissed about me eating up all her tomatoes. Cooked veggies though, greens specifically, have always presented a problem, I just couldn't deal with them. I would put spinach in my bowl at the Mongolian grill but then I'd just cover it in peanut sauce so I don't think that counts. That's all turned around this year though, thank goodness! It started, I believe, with the sauteed spinach and mushrooms and seitan dish from V-Con and then really took off with Johanna's White Beans and Kale from Yellow Rose Recipes. And now it has led to this, a recipe I made up myself involving greens. Gasp.

I made this up last weekend when I was having what I like to call a Pajama Day, I had nothing to do, so I just stayed in my pajamas, attractive as all get out, until it was time to take a shower and put on new pajamas and go to sleep. It was wonderful, and on such a lazy day, I don't like to cook too intensively, so this is perfect. The spinach and the pasta go into their respective cooking vessels at the same time, and less than 5 minutes later you've got foody bits. Unfortunately, my camera is being a butt-head again, so no picture. But if you can close your eyes and imagine pasta, and then you imagine cooked spinach, then I would not be showing you anything that spectacular anyway.

Pajama Pasta (enough for 1 lazy person like myself)
Angel hair pasta for one
1/2 bunch or so spinach leaves, rinsed and spun
1 shallot, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Salt your water and start it heating in a big pot. In a pan over medium, heat a little olive oil and add the shallot and garlic, cooking until the shallot is starting to brown. If you're stove is behaving, the water should be just about boiling. Add the spinach to the pan and toss it around, at the same time add your pasta to the pot. Keep stirring the spinach around until it's nice and wilted. (Sidenote, last night I made this and I added in a splash of white wine when I added the spinach, it tasted okay but I think I prefer it without.) The pasta should be done. Remove the spinach pan from the stove and drain the pasta (if it's done, of course). Stir everything together, season with salt and pepper to your liking, and stuff it in your face.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

chili!

Yeah, my subject line is unimaginative. Talk to the beer I had with dinner, yeah? Yeah.

For whatever reason, the only time chili is appealing to me is during warm weather. Is it because since my outsides are so hot I will not notice the heat coming inside? I don't know, but when the weather gets warm I loves me a big bowl of chili with some oyster crackers. I used to like it with cheese, but that was back in my "pregan" days when eating chili meant opening up a little single-serve aseptic carton of Stagg that I'd get at the grocery store when it was on sale and then nuking it and covering it in cheese. Damn, I can't believe that used to sound appetizing. Since I got my crock pot and started making this recipe, no other chili method will do. It's not too spicy, it's nice and chunky and hearty, and since I only like it when the weather is warm, my crock pot doesn't put off a ton of heat meaning I do not slave over the hot stove sweating and being gross all over everything only to lose my appetite by the time the stuff is done. True, it does take much longer, but that just gave me time to work on a scarf I'm knitting and watch both Goonies and The Dark Crystal.

I got this recipe awhile ago from vegcooking.com, whom have since chosen to change the name of this recipe from "Crock-Pot Chili" to "Slow-Cooker Chili" which means it took me forever to find it and it pissed me off a little, but not too much to say you shouldn't make it because you totally should. It's nothing fancy, but it's damned tastygood. The only changed I made were I used only 2 tsp of chili powder instead of a whole Tbsp, and I used 15oz cans of beans, so it was 2 cans black beans, 1 can pinto, and 1 can kidney. Also, I took a picture, but did you know it's really superdamn hard to take a good picture of chili? It did not look appetizing, and my lack of photo skills and styling ability are not the culprit here, so no picture for you, my effusive apologies.

Slow Cooker Chili

Original recipe here

  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 lb. veggie burger crumbles (optional)
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 28-oz. can diced Mexican-style tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 6 oz. tomato paste*
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 28 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz. pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz. kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic, onion, veggie burger crumbles if using, and red pepper flakes until the onion is soft. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until fragrant.

Place in a slow cooker with the remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

*Here is a nifty-ass thing to do with tomato paste that I learned from America's Test Kitchen (I *love* ATK!): If you have a recipe that calls for, say, 1 Tbsp of tomato paste, take the rest of the can and spoon it onto waxed paper in 1 Tbsp amounts. Then freeze it for a few hours or overnight. Once it's frozen pop it in a tupperware or a freezer bag and then in future recipes you can just pluck it right out, no measuring! I love it!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My cat and some cookbook review

My camera is having some sort of fit where it's, like, stuck between on and off and is being unresponsive. I think it may have turned into a teenager. So, I would like to give a (very) behind the times review of Joanna Vaught's Yellow Rose Recipes but since I can't post relevant pictures I will start with a picture of my cat and talk about her a little bit.

so fluffy, so spazzy

This is Potato. Last Monday (Cinco de Mayo) was her one year adoptiversary (I totally made that word up). I celebrated it as her birthday because I don't know when that was, or even how old she is. The shelter told me six months, she had a vaccination certificate from 2 years prior, she could be 6 years old, I don't know. She's full of mystery. Potato was partially declawed (the front paws) by her previous owners, that's all I know about them. Also that her teeth were in nasty shape and she was nervous and would cry long, desperate, meows for hours on end when I first brought her home. She didn't sleep, either. That was a joy. This is all probably a very normal cat experience, I don't know, she's my first cat. But I'm very happy to say her temperament has greatly improved. She doesn't cry anymore, she's still very chatty though, she sleeps a lot even when I'm up and about (she just woke up, what timing), and she doesn't run away from guests to hide under the bed. Yesterday she almost faced her nemesis: the vacuum. I'm crazy stupid over my cat.

Also, bazu reports that Potato looks just like her kitty Bijou which is awesome and means bazu found my blog which made me get all fan-girl excited!

Moving on, the weekend before last my friend Vanessa and I went to Portland for a Mike Doughty show and of course, went to the vegan mini-mall because right, like we couldn't. The brunch at Sweet Pea Bakery is fantastic, by the way, they have those hash browns in the rectangular shape and I LOVE THOSE THINGS. One of my main motivations was to finally pick up Yellow Rose Recipes because it was making me crazy hearing so many good things and not owning it but I hate paying for shipping, I'm totally cheap that way. I'd rather pay the costs of a weekend in another city, it makes total sense.

Finally, my review. I love this book! It's the first cookbook I've owned where I thought both that I would make and enjoy every single recipe and that I was completely capable of doing so. To date I have made four of the recipes. The Very Berry Muffins are great, so soft and light and yummy. I'm making them again tomorrow. I previously made a blackberry/raspberry version and next up is blueberry/raspberry. Next up I made the White Beans and Kale, which was sort of amazing because I have never really liked cooked greens much, if at all. But I looked at it, and it just looked so good I had to have it. Folks, this recipe is so easy I did it with a head cold, and during the cooking process I caused a flood in my kitchen and then nearly set it on fire and the food still tasted amazing, even as leftovers, so there you go. Earlier this week I made the Kasha Varnishkes which was good, but I forgot about how crappy my stove is, so when I put the burner on low I failed to remember that "low" is "super low" on my burner and the kasha took too long to cook and was therefore gluey, but I have plenty ingredients to try again, but this time I may try leek instead of onion. And I used regular pasta instead of whole wheat, whole wheat would definitely be better. Last night, I made the Couscous Chickpea Salad and YUM! The book is right, it is a lot better the next day. Made fresh, the dressing is much too balsamic-y, but mellowed out considerably after a night in the fridge to think about what it had done. I made a slight change in that since I did not have mushrooms I put edemame in the salad and it's quite good. Even more than the recipes, I love the index. Organized by ingredient, so thoughtful! Like an index should be! If I have some mushrooms, (not right now, though, sad) I love that I can look up "mushrooms" and see what there is to make with them, why can't all cookbooks be like that. It gets my food geek way up there.

Was this book worth a trip to Portland? To conclude this review, you bet your sweet bippy it was.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Spicy Tofu & Spelt Salad

extreme closeup means you can't see the ugly bowl it's in. tricky!

The season of the salad is upon us! I love cold grain and veggie salads in the spring and summer, they're quick (my primary requirement), they're refreshing, and they make a buttload so they're easy to take for multiple lunches throughout the week. Plus, it's really hard to go wrong with a salad. Grain Thing plus Tofu or Bean Thing plus whatever veggies are in the fridge or freezer and you're good to go. I'm still learning how to make dressings, but getting better, and from chopping up veggies my knife skills have been improving considerably, yet another great thing about salads, no perfection required.

This salad is one of my very favorites. It's made by the deli at PCC, but I've only actually seen it in their deli case one time. PCC makes a lot of wonderful vegan salads, including a kumut one similar to this. They also make a Perfect Protein salad with chickpeas and veggies and a veganaise dressing, that one I'm still trying to track down. PCC has a nasty (yet understandable? I guess?) habit of not sharing the recipes for their salads, though I'm wondering if they'd give it to me if I ask, must check that out. I originally found the recipe for this salad on the Seattle Times website but it's not there anymore (bitches), instead I found it on this blog. Make it, make a lot of it, and good luck making it last more than a day. I think my record is about 3 days? It's like crack. I always use approximately the same vegetables, though last time I forgot green onions and it was still good. But maybe corn would be good in it too? Yeah? It's also quite good over a bed of greens. It's just plain good, it what it is.

PCC's Spicy Tofu and Spelt Salad

Makes about 6 servings

Sauce:

- 3 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce

- 3 Tbsp Asian-style sesame oil (I used peanut oil, I'm out of sesame)

- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil (I used grapeseed)

- 1-½ Tbsp rice wine vinegar

- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

- 1 Tbsp finely minced fresh ginger

- 1 Tbsp finely minced fresh garlic (I use 3 cloves, I see no point in ever measuring out garlic like they say)

Salad:

- 1 tsp kosher salt

- ¾ cup spelt kernels (I use 1 whole cup because I'm a spelt freak)

- 14 to 16 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu

- Cooking spray

- ¾ cup sliced red bell pepper

- 2 green onions, thinly sliced

- 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped parsley

- ½ cup thinly bias-cut carrots

- ½ cup thinly sliced red cabbage

1. Whisk together tamari, sesame oil, vegetable oil, vinegar, cayenne, ginger and garlic; set aside. You will use this in three different parts of the recipe.

2. Cook and drain spelt kernels: Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan; add salt and stir in spelt kernels. Return to a boil and boil gently until tender, about 1 hour, adding more water if needed.

3. Drain the spelt well, and then toss cooked spelt with 4 tablespoons of the sauce. Set aside to cool.

4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain the tofu and cut into 20 to 24 cubes, depending on package size. In a medium to large bowl, gently fold tofu and 2 tablespoons sauce together to evenly coat tofu. Lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread tofu cubes on the baking sheet; do not crowd. Bake for about 20 minutes. Cool.

5. Toss cooled spelt and tofu with bell pepper, green onions, parsley, carrots, cabbage and remaining sauce.

aren't the veggies just so pretty on their own?

My own notes for this particular batch:
A. I have stopped bothering to measure, so mine has a lot more veggies. I hate measuring veggies. I pretty much only use my measuring cups for baking anymore.

B. Because I have stopped bothering to measure this recipe, my dressing came out with a bit too much peanut oil and tasted less spicy and more peanut-oily. This situation was nicely resolved when I attacked talked nice to it with my hand blender.

C. I had another note, but I am getting over a cold and it's kind of late and I want to get back to watching Ugly Betty on DVD so I forget.

D. I remember! I added a bit (maybe 1/2 tsp?) of miso paste to the dressing. I don't know, I saw it in the fridge and thought it might give a bit of a healthy boost and nice flavor. While I don't know if either statement is true, it certainly didn't hurt.

E. I made a separate marinade for the tofu out of ginger paste, soy sauce, peanut, and grapeseed oil and then left it to soak in the fridge for a couple of hours while I went out shopping and eating cupcakes.

F. This batch turned out considerably spicy (too much cayenne?) but it mellows out considerably in the refrigerator. Not entirely, it's still got some kick, but I don't feel like my mouth is going to dissolve off my face once it's cold.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Canadians!

My friend Tillie the Canadian (guess where she's from!) came to visit for the weekend. She has Celiac, and I am vegan, but we found a bounty of yummy food to share and enjoy. For breakfasts we enjoyed rice cakes with peanut butter, banana, and cashews. It was messy and yummy.

Tillie (technically only half Canadian)

Saturday we went to the farmer's market in the university district. I often find other FM's in Seattle to be mostly full of cheese (seriously), but the U-dist one was full of wonderful delights. I tried my first Brussels sprout, grown by a very impassioned man (they must be grown with frost!!! he says), and also my first taste of sorrel (which is divine). We bought salad mix, Brussels sprouts greens (which are purple!), and some sorrel. Pictured below, amongst my Regular Crap, is two bottles of locally made hard cider (the regular was for me, but after serving it to Tillie's friends she gave me her berry one. Score!), 1 package Southwestern flavored hazelnuts, the aforementioned greens and salad, some lovely sunflower seed bread, walnut oil, 1 jar tequila caramel (Tillie's, not vegan), and 1 jar peach chipotle pepper jelly which I described to the vendor as "it kicked me in the mouth, but it didn't knock me down, I like that." My camera skills are off, I just thought I should admit it. It's a Known Issue.

Farmer's Market Yummy Goods

Since we were nearby, we made a trip to Sidecar for Pig's Peace, a volunteer-run all vegan store benefitting Pig's Peace animal sanctuary. Picked up some aseptic tofu for the pantry, herb Tofutti, spicy Sunrice tofu (it's an amazing local company, the tofu is like crack), Merry Hempster tattoo balm, Tings (Tillie's), and Jerquee (Tillie's), best of all because I didn't think they were carried at Sidecar are SOY CURLS! I've been wanting to try them out and thought I might have to wait until I make it to Portland again (which is the end of this month).

Nothing like vegan junk food after the Farmer's Market

Best of all, Tillie came to America equipped with a gift, vegan pate! It's consistency is more like a loaf than a spread. It's kind of crumbly and meaty-ish. This is the herb flavor and I think it'll be quite good on all sorts of things. In salads, sandwiches, toast with Tofutti, maybe on pasta? Best of all she abused her mother's connections to get it, that's what I like in my gifts.

Plus the box is pretty


Vegan Pate in the package. Enjoy the three sunflower seeds as decoration.

It was really wonderful having Tillie in town and getting to share all of this wonderful food with her, we did things besides eating, but I believe good food is what links other memories together. Food is the strongest links in the memory chain and gives the sum memory of a life structure. So this weekend will be treasured for years to come, of that I'm sure.

PLUS! Tillie has promised to send her vegan and gluten-free recipe for "Butter Chicken" along, so that will be posted soon.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Everything Is Better As A Burrito

All the crap in the background makes you feel like you're right in my kitchen, am I right?

Sweet potatoes and me, what can I say? We've long found each other attractive, flirted at parties, talked for long hours but always holding back, never taking that leap. We'd been...hurt before. That old story, girl meets potato (my cat is also named Potato, but I am not speaking of her, I am speaking of potatoes), girl enjoys potato's distinctive and inviting orangey hue. Girl says "Hey, come back to my place, have a beer." Followed by disaster. Burned. Underdone. Sometimes both. And then the next time they meet, there's that uncomfortable silence, where saying "Hey, don't worry about it, it happens sometimes," only serves to make thing infinitely worse than before. Awkward.

But this time, this time the stars aligned and we gripped each other's sweaty palms as we ran to the altar of love and declared, "Okay love! I am your bitch! Do as you will!"

I'm told sometimes that maybe I should get out more. Mostly I'm told it by myself.

Anywhoozle, I'd been meaning to make this Vegetarian Times recipe that LindyLoo posted ages and ages ago, but never got around to it, I was too fearful of the sweet potato. This is all long gone now, I'm happy to say.

I agree with her sentiments about the peanut sauce. I'm personally a huge fan of peanut sauce, I like it a little bit on the spicy side. One of my favorite things to eat is cold leftover Pad Thai, heavy on the peanut sauce. Actually, Things That Were Hot But Aren't Anymore is a favorite genre of food, if you will. It's not the same as cold food, it's completely different. Right, so this peanut sauce I felt could have used more oomph, but I agree it was better when considered as part of the whole composition of the dish. It found it's peanutty niche but I would still have added some cayenne or more garlic or something. Something to make the sauce stand up and say "Listen here! I am about to rock you! Prepare to be rocked!" I have fonder memories of the dessert peanut sauce I put over some banana the other night, and that was just peanut butter, hot water, agave nectar, and a pinch of salt.

Two more things. 1) I am pretty sure I used enormous sweet potatoes instead of medium, because they took forever to cook, and if I have 2 servings then this recipe was created by a giant. Hagrid? 2) I couldn't find roasted, salted peanuts in the bulk bins, so I went with cashews which I like better anyway.

The recipe is here. I always feel weird copying and pasting other people's recipes, or recipes they took the time to copy from somewhere else. I'll get over it maybe around post...umm...15? But this is only 13 so we ain't there yet.

So about the title. I firmly believe it. Anything and everything is better as some kind of burrito. And in my book, lettuce wraps count as burritos. Wraps count as burrito, they're just called wraps to sound healthier I think. This morning, since I have so much of it left, I stirred some of the leftover sweet potato mixture into my tofu scramble and it was delish! It was wrapped up into a breakfast burrito. Here it is cooling off a bit on it's magic tortilla carpet. In there you will also spy some green bell pepper.


For lunch, I put the leftover portion I couldn't finish from Friday into another tortilla and it was super great! I have trouble chewing cooked greens, I don't know why, but I think next time I make this I'll take the leftover spinach/garbanzo mixture and blend it. So it'll be like a burrito with two sauces, spinach and peanut. Yum Yum!

I have no picture of the burrito because I feel it is self-explanatory, but here is a picture of my cat, Potato. She is guarding my snack box full of origami papers.



And just to be completely random, here's a picture of my refrigerator from a couple of weeks ago (I think). There's beer AND wine, some stuff I don't recognize, I think that container full of orange/red stuff is hummus, and the big green thing in the middle is full of baked beans I did not like so good but were okay with the addition of soy hot dog. The big shiny thing behind it is a bag of lettuce.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pasta de la Yummysogoodfreakingawesome

For starters, why is it still snowing in Seattle?!?!? Snow! I can see April from here and we're still putting up with snow?!?

Ah, that feels better. Moving on now.

Sadly, there are no pictures of what I am about to describe for you. I had my shot all lined up, the food looked beautiful and was posing in just the most tempting of ways. I turned on the camera, pushed the preview button... aaaaaaand the camera shut itself off because the batteries were dead. It was kind of an accelerated metaphor of my dating life, come to think of it.

I adapted this recipe from this one here on recipezaar. You will note there are no measurements because I think the ingredients are all things that people know how much they like or don't like of them. You don't like a lot of Kalamatas? Don't use a lot. You wish you could take baths in sun-dried tomatoes while eating sun-dried tomatoes and reading about sun-dried tomatoes until you fall asleep to dream about sun-dried tomatoes? Then by all means, put as much as you like in the pot. Here we go.

Kalamata olives, sliced in half
Sun-Dried Tomatoes, packed in oil
Pesto (I used cilantro pesto)
Karam's Garlic Tahini Sauce (if you can find it, if you cannot, oh how I pity you. you can just use crushed garlic though.)
Whole Wheat Pasta (I used Trader Joe's Multigrain with Flax because I figured it was important to pretend there was some health benefit to this recipe)
Frozen peas (see note about pasta)

Okay, cook your pasta and drain it. Put it back in the pot with maybe a little olive oil. You will especially want the olive oil if you are using leftover pasta like I did the second time I made this, in which case heat the olive oil up a little bit first. Get the frozen peas heating up separately. Add in everything else up there on that list, except the peas. Mix it around until it gets hot. Save the peas for last so they won't get squished. Shove it in your face!

Possible garnishes:
Nutritional yeast
Vegan parmesean
Pine nuts (oh, that would be so good! I wish I'd thought of that at the time)
Gomasio (which is quite good)

Now I would like to talk very briefly about food and guilt. When I was about to serve myself the pasta I consciously looked at it and thought, "I will be good, and not eat too much of this." Two seconds later I thought, "No that ain't right." Why do we think of ourselves as being "good" with food when we aren't eating it? Food is life, food brings people together, food has history and connects us to our ancestors. Food heals, the eating and the preparation. Food shows that you care when you cook for someone else. What do people do after someone dies? They bring food. It makes me so sad what's been done to the reputation of food. Why can't we think "I am going to be good to myself, and eat three whole pancakes, because they make my tummy very happy when I eat them." I'm not talking about emotional eating, or certainly about eating disorders. Those are very serious matters that aren't even about food. Food itself is never ever the enemy, and we must stop thinking of it as such. Food loves us and wants us to be happy. And that is all I have to say about that.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Roasted Tomato Cream Sauce

splendid little roasted tomatoes and garlic

I had most of a carton of "splendid little" tomatoes from Trader Joe's that were verging on the wrong side of splendid. Still perfectly good, but not as firm as when they first came home. So I decided to roast them. I meant to do it last night, but first I had to clean my oven to get rid of all the spillover from Leek & Bean Cassoulet that kept smoking whenever I turned my oven on. After cleaning it I had to just let it run hot for an hour and call my mom in a panic when I saw what looked like smoke and smelled what smelled like a terrible odor (turns out that's normal, and my mom taught me a great trick of putting a bowl of water with baking soda in the hot oven to help absorb the odor. Then my phone died and I hung up on her. Oops.) THEN I had to go to bed. When I got home I had to take the oven racks out and put them in the right way (I had them backwards). It was like my own personal version of "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie."

That said, I have finally managed to make my roasted tomato cream sauce, inspired by the Cappellini in Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce from Vegan Yum Yum. Her recipe is great for when you have nice fresh tomatoes. I think mine is more for when I've neglected mine just a tiny bit.

This is the recipe as I made it, I'll talk more about what I would change at the end, and I'll probably re-post this when I get a final version worked out. But if you're one of the 3 people who reads this, maybe you'll make it and tell me what you think?

Roasted Tomato Cream Sauce

  • 1/2 pound little tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 small (or 1 large) sprig of thyme
  • 2 tbsp (or just big spoonfuls) Tofutti cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small baking pan, combine tomatoes and garlic cloves and toss with olive oil just to cover. Sprinkle with salt and roast for 30 minutes (check them after 20, especially if your tomatoes are very small). You want the tomatoes to get a little color on the tops and they should burst open, releasing their liquid and looking all wrinkly like the picture above. It doesn't sound so pretty but it's a truly beautiful thing to behold (and smell).
Remove from oven and allow the tomatoes and garlic to cool while you get out your food processor or blender and put the herbs and cream cheese in it.

Add the cooled tomatoes and garlic (with all the liquid) to the herbs and cheese. Process until smooth*.

Serve over pasta or polenta and garnish with pine nuts, if you like.


*This makes a very little amount when all is said and done. My 6-cup food processor was too big for the job so the sauce was all up on the sides of the bowl where the blade couldn't get to it.


splendid tomato sauce, being splendid

As for things I would change, mostly it's the amount of tomatoes. I'd keep the garlic the same but perhaps use an whole pound (maybe more?). I'm not totally certain what I have here is 1/2 pound but it was approximately that. I might also thin it out with some soymilk to make it creamier. The sauce as I made it was a bit acidic, soymilk might help cut that. I might also try it without the thyme.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My First Food Processor

I pine for various kitchen implements. My amazon.com wishlist is full of muffin tins, hand mixers, gadgets, a Magic Bullet, cookbooks...is this a fetish? One thing that was on my list for a long time was a food processor. I live in a small apartment with a small apartment on a small budget, so I knew that whatever I ended up buying would have to be non-clunky and last for awhile. After reading reviews and weighing my options I went with the Hamilton Beach 6 cup food processor. It sat on my wish list for months and months while I dreamt of a time and place where my food processor and I could live in harmony.

I spoke recently of an impending move, but circumstances prevailed that have allowed me to stay in my current apartment. It is small, but it's my home and has great sentimental value for me still. Before living here I lived with over 10 different people in the space of three years, this place is mine and mine alone...mine and my cat's...and my kitchen stuff...where was I going with this? Oh yeah! So since I am staying, yet had gone through the effort of relieving my space of years upon years worth of things I no longer needed, I have a lot of open space in my hall closet just begging to be filled with kitchen things.

Enter the food processor. I'd never actually used one. I grew up with my mom's Proctor Silex (it had it's own bright yellow quilted cozy, adorables) but I was always irrationally afraid of it. But I like hummus, and I like pesto, so it was time to get over it and keep track of my fingers at all times. The me-friendly thing about this one is that it won't turn on if the cover and the bowl are not locked on where nothing can hurt me. Bonus!


The other night I made a roasted red pepper hummus from La Dolce Vegan! It's very delicious but opted not to be photographed.


Tonight I made the roasted garlic pesto and gnocchi from Everyday Dish after watching the webisode yesterday.



I am not entirely sure I did this right. I added the right amount of oil and basil, and it came out looking mostly like ground pine nuts with some basil thrown in, so I chose to add in 2 more oz of basil which made it much greener, I think it could have used more oil but I ran all out, so here is how it turned out eventually. There are some whole pine nuts at the bottom, I'm not sure if that would have been cured with more oil or not. It didn't bother me so much because I was planning to use pine nuts as garnish anyway.


The moisture on the gnocchi really helped spread it out. Even if the texture wasn't what I expected, the flavor was simply amazing! The roasted garlic with the fresh basil and the goodness, exquisite. But then I thought to myself, "How good would this be if you put some Karam's Garlic Tahini Sauce in it?" The answer to that question is, "It is fucking right on hell yeah good!" How could it not be, though? One of the ingredients in the sauce is love (no joke, it's on the label.)


look at that. you want it, it knows you do

Monday, March 10, 2008

Leek & Bean Cassoulet: A Story of Failure

I had really high hopes for this dish. It looked just beautiful when I read about it on Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit, and then my excitemetn built as I read about it and saw the picture on Vegan Chicks Rock.

Dinner was at 6, I started at 4:30 chopping and peeling and rinsing and stirring and sauteeing and mixing and kneading. Dinner looked beautiful, smelled delicious, and the stew part tasted good, but were this Iron Chef or any kind of judged event, I would have docked myself in the following areas:

1) The onion/leek/carrot mixture refused to brown in the pan. It instead chose to release a lot and I mean a LOT of water. I theorize that I should have laid the leeks out on some paper towels to dry a bit after rinsing and before cooking. My bad.

2) The casserole dish I chose to use (an olive green round Pyrex about 4" deep) was too small around for all the biscuits to fit with 1" in between them, as the recipe calls for. Also:

3) I accidentally pushed some of the raw biscuits into the stew, and they could not be retrieved. Hence:

4) The biscuits came out a beautiful golden brown on top, and completely raw dough on the bottoms.

My dinner companion really enjoyed the raw biscuit action though. In her words, the dough kind of melted into the stew and made it a super thick texture. Trying to pry the biscuits out of the stew was impossible, and they just fell apart into tiny doughy bits that dove straight to the bottom of the casserole dish. So I did my best to scoop out stew only, and the stew part tasted really, really good! Even though at first I had convinced myself it tasted like failure, I finished my whole bowlful and my companion went back for more biscuit.

After dinner we went bargain madness shopping and stopped back by my apartment, where I used the facilities and when I cam out I found her in the kitchen eating a bowl of cold stew. So maybe this wasn't such a failure after all. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

a brief history of (my) food (intake)

I've been eating good food like crazy! I've been eating it so much I haven't had time to take crappy pictures! Let's see if I can even remember some of it, I should really take notes or something.

Well, for starters I had been thinking of making Julie Hasson's sausages for awhile, and then I read Isa's post about them and that was it. I *had* to make them. I'm a total fangirl for Isa. There, I said it. Some people are fangirls/boys for Star Trek, I'm a fangirl for vegan cookbook authors. If there were a Con (is there!?!!?) for vegan cooks like there are for sci-fi geeks (I mean that in a nice way, I have a tattoo in Elvish, y'all...but that's a whole other story.) I would dress up as a baby bok choy.

...right, so, I made these really great sausages in my food steamer. It's an Oster that I picked up brand new at Goodwill for $10. It's a touch cumbersome, but still my favorite appliance.
sausages in the sauna

I think that I should have steamed them a few minutes longer than the recipe calls for, only because I forgot that my steamer takes a minute or two to get going. However, really this just meant that they took a little longer to really firm up in the fridge, no big deal. I also changed the seasonings a bit, because I searched high and lo at the grocery store and could not find chicken-flavored seasoning. Here's what I used instead:
1 tbsp all-purpose seasoning I made from one of my Sarah Kramer books
1 tbsp onion powder
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
3 shakes allspice

I'm thinking next time this will be amazing as a sun-dried tomato and fresh basil version, with those beautiful reds and greens, so good! I've been snacking on it with just Dijon mustard.

A few days ago I made sausage and peppers with them. Normally sausage and peppers is just those two things, onion, and garlic. I added a sprig's worth of fresh thyme and mushrooms to mine, then put it all over some lightly fried polenta. Oh how I loooove sausage and peppers! And oh how I loooooooooooved it this way! Mrow.

There was also the Polenta Casserole, as recently discussed. The night before last I made ED&BV's Teryaki Quinoa with a side of steamed broccoli. Veggie-wise this was a turning point as I usually put a pat of margarine on most all my cooked veggies. But it didn't seam like it would go with the quinoa this time, so I left it out, and the broccoli was delicious on it's own. And last night I made spaghetti, which was not fancy as I just added some dried herbs to a box of Trader Joe's Italian Starter Sauce. But it was good enough, I topped that with yet more sausage, which is tasty cold but oh-so-much tastier when fried a little bit, it gets crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and oh, it's lucky it made it onto the spaghetti plate at all.


Lately work has been not the greatest, I love what I do, but the person I do it for (that sounds more perverted than it is) has been a holy terror lately. It's something I have to wait out, and I have people who are dealing with the same thing which makes it better. I mention this because when I've had a bad day at work, the last thing I want to do is put more effort into *anything*, but I remember that cooking can and should be therapeutic, to help revive the mind and the spirit. Food gets us ready for battles, big and small, inner and outer. So I was all set to make VwaV's Stewed Tofu and Potatoes in Miso Gravy, which is rather time-consuming. But then the dishes I needed weren't clean. They are now, but they are drying, and I lost my verve. Tomorrow.

"This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'"
-Henry V
Yeah, that's how I feel about going to work tomorrow.

BUT! I'm super excited for Saturday because I'm having people over to cook for! I love cooking for other people, it's the one thing I mind about living alone. I plan to make the Leek and Bean Casoulet from Vcon. And there must be some collective conscious in the vegan blogosphere because the day after formulating this plan I read two, count 'em two accounts of people making it. It looks delicious. So excited am I.

Now I think I've finally decompressed and worked up and appetite. Time to eat!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Polenta Casserole

Friday night for dins I made ED&BV's Polenta Casserole. It comes together so easily, and grating polenta is oddly...fun? This was also my first experience using faux cheese, as the recipe suggested I used Follow Your Heart's mozzarella and I've got to say, wow! I've had the faux Parmesan on pasta before, but that kind of thing you kind of expect that it won't be melting. I've been wary of the brick cheezes for just this reason, and while this stuff didn't melt as easily as real cheese, I took a little taste before adding it to the grated polenta and it was delicious! For sure something I'll be picking up and playing with again in the near future. The recipe calls for a cup, but I went ahead and used the whole block because Y.U.M. And I didn't even get to how the casserole tastes. Oh, my gawd, it's so good! There's a whole melty cheesiness under the very top, so you get the flavor of the casserole filling and then this creamy tangy thing happening and some crispy bits of polenta on the very top. It's amazing, for serious, it's so good. You should totally buy the book and make it! Yeah! I'm retarded for this casserole. I did take a picture, but it didn't turn out, and then I was too busy eating to take a picture of the food.


Today was also the first day I figured out how to get the broiler to work on my oven. The trick is to get the dial to click once before it clicks to off. I felt like a total genius. 2 years I've been convinced it just didn't work. And now I'm moving.


A final thought on the subject of food as a healer. I have pink eye, basically the nurse I called at Group Health said I have a cold in my eye and to put cold compresses on it and drink lots of fluids. That's helping a little, but mostly my eye is itchy, swollen, watery, I want to rip it out of my face and stomp on it, it's uncomfortable and looks awful. But while I was working on the casserole, I didn't feel it at all. I didn't notice the itching, I didn't feel the tears running down my face as they've been doing all day (I'm really sorry if your appetite is ruined now). I got it all put together and into the oven and realized I hadn't felt miserable about my eye the entire time. This is one of the many things I love about food, the healing of it is not just in eating, but there's real therapy in the preparation. Grating things, chopping things, stirring, it's all very meditative and can help you focus away from your problems, both physical and spiritual. I have a lot of emotions about food, remind me to elaborate someday on how I believe food is better when you think about love while you make it. :)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

blah time food

I have not been inspired in the food department as of late. Perhaps it is because it is the Stressful Time at work (month-end: too much month, not enough end), or perhaps it's horomones or the fact that I am more focused on moving at the end of March (getting rid of stuff, packing stuff, finding stuff, finding a place to live...). Whatever it is, I find things go a lot better when I have a plan for the coming week or so of what I want to eat. I'm not an on-the-fly kind of girl.

So here is a brief idea of what I hope to come up with in the next week of foody yumyums:

*Polenta Casserole from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan

*Stewed Tofu and Potatoes in Miso Gravy from VwaV (which I've made before, but it was so yummy I really want to make again at least once before the weather gets too warm)

*Teryaki Quinoa from ED&BV, which I will probably pair with some nice steamed broccoli. This sounds like a good weeknight meal for sure.

*A stir-fry, of some kind. The pomegrantate stir fry on Get Sconed looks so good! Want! I don't know that I'll make that exact one, but the stir fry craving is present and accounted for.

Note that all of these are dinnery things. For my lunches I generally like to bring veggie sandwiches or just leftovers of whatever I made the previous night(s). Being a single person, I always, always have leftovers when I make a recipe, which is great because it makes lunch easy as long as it can be nuked. Yeah, I'm not anti-microwave.

I did manage to make a couple of yummy things this week. Tuesday I made up some Tamari Roasted Chickpeas from ED&BV which were so good! But I think next time I'll try to achieve a crispiness to them. I don't know, maybe they were supposed to be crispy originally. I've been snacking on them at work and now I crave them in a pita with some tomato and cucumber. Yum! Last night in a fit of "I don't want to make something but I have to make something because I am hungry" I made some Merciful Miso Gravy from La Dolce Vegan!, sauteed some mushrooms in garlic and olive oil, and put it all on top of some lightly fried polenta. It was very comforting, indeed. And I have leftover gravy which is super good on ribbon noodles.

My aim as we get into spring and summer is to make up more recipes on my own. I'm seriously considering taking a cooking class or two, because I can follow recipes just fine, but I'd like to build some skills in the usage of herbs and spices, and perhaps just a more rounded understanding of what I can do with veggies and food in general. PCC offers lots of classes, very few of them vegan (though some have the option to become so, so that's good.) After I get myself situated in a new place, it's definitely something I'll be looking into.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

a cookbook review, and a recipe! yay!

Today I received a new cookbook, because I needed one so badly, you know how it is. Yeah. This one is called Please Feed Me: A Punk Vegan Cookbook by Niall McGuirk. It's part cookbook, part memoir of his days running punk venue The Hope Collective in Dublin, Ireland. The recipes aren't indexed and the organization is not by kind of recipe but a chronology of shows put on by Hope, which given the memoir part of the book is the perfect way to put the recipes together. Recipes were submitted by bands and there are all kinds from the complex to the whimsical (bread sandwich, anyone?). It's a great book to flip through and read. The introductions to recipes are longer versions of the introduction at the beginning of the book so might be a bit redundant but no less interesting. If you like the look of any recipe, you'd best mark that page or it might take quite awhile to find it again.

Tonight for dinner, I made something inspired by the Chickpea Pasta recipe in the book. It's pretty simple, but also pretty tasty. Mondays just don't seem like the day for challenges. Especially when I just realized it's Tuesday. That said, I now give you my interpretation of


Chickpea Pasta

1/2 pound pasta (the shell kind are best, like the book says, but I didn't have any)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup frozen peas
1 can garbanzo beans (or 1-1/2 cups soaked and cooked beans)
large pinch dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Boil water and add the pasta. While that's cooking heat the oil over medium heat and cook the garlic until fragrant. Add peas and cook until defrosted and any water has evaporated. Add chickpeas and cook until they're hot. Some of the chickpeas may take on a goldenish color, this is good stuff. Add salt and pepper and thyme. Drain the pasta when it's done, then mix everything together. Add more olive oil if it's too dry. Top with vegan parmesan cheeze. Yum!


chickpea pasta and new cookbook, cuddling



This here is a picture of my breakfast from Sunday, scrambled eggless eggs from How It All Vegan! and tempeh bacon from Vegan w/a Vengeance and toast. So good! So unhealthy but worth it. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

the week in food...the weak in food?

At least once a week (but usually twice), I stop at the deli for dinner on the way home instead of making my own food. This isn't good for my health, my wallet, or my attempts at learning to cook, tasty as the Tofu in Spicy Sunrice Sauce may be. Even when I'm planning to make something at home, I will sometimes stop at the PCC deli and buy a "back-up" meal, and if someone told me they did that I would think they were ridiculous. So I set out this week to make my own dinner all five days and eat it, even if I didn't like it. I did have to stop at the store for a couple of things near the end of the week, but the ultimate goal was to not have anything that would be ready in only 2 minutes in the microwave. There were hits, there were misses, but that's just the story of my life.

Monday:
For dinner on Monday I made up some chiocciole pasta and tossed it with sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, artichoke hearts (from frozen simmered in some water), and a bit of dried basil, salt, and black pepper. It came out looking really pretty and tasting really bland, which was disappointing to say the least. The artichokes had almost no flavor, and it only got better by eating around the artichoke hearts and adding a lot of salt and vegan parm.

But I don't think it's a total wash, there are areas where I think this dish could be improved. I mean look at it! It looks appetizing, and as they say we eat with our eyes, I just need to tweak it so that my mouth will want to eat too. Next time I make this, I'll use water packed artichoke hearts, or at least do some seasoning on the frozen ones to boost their flavor independently of the whole dish. I think fresh basil would be amazing, and as I write this I'm thinking maybe the sun-dried tomatoes whizzed up with basil and a little olive oil and tossed around would be really good. It can be made good! I know it can! I'm not giving up just yet.


Tuesday:
After Monday I just wanted something simple, something that would be a sure thing. So I marinated some tofu that I had pressed for almost an hour in a concoction I made up* and keep in the fridge and re-use over and over (one of the many nice things about not working with meat). After marinating I fried the tofu in a little bit of olive oil until it was crispy and paired with brown rice with a little bit of soy sauce and peas. It was delicious! The tofu was nice and chewy, and I felt nice and full like you only can after a good yummy meal. And for lunch the next day, I put more rice and peas and cut up the other piece of tofu I had made into cubes and put soy sauce all over the whole thing. The meat-eaters at my office commented on how good my lunch smelled.

*My Marinade is a loose combination of ginger tamari (you can use ginger and tamari if you can't find ginger tamari), soy sauce, a couple of smashed-up cloves of garlic, some sesame oil, and some water to carry it. Nothing fancy but oh-so yummy on *everything*.


Wednesday:
By the time Wednesday rolled around I realized that my craving for simple, comforty food was in my horomones, if you know what I mean, and since I still had a little chiocciole left I decided mac and cheeze sauce was the way to go. Instead of going back to the cheezy sauce from V-con I decided to see if any of the other cheezy sauces from my cookbooks would be any good. I decided to make the Wolfie's Nutritional Yeast "Cheese" Sauce from La Dolce Vegan! It only has 7 ingredients and took maybe 10 minutes. It was just the recipe I was looking for. It came out tangy and cheesy and creamy and so many other good things. I'd like to try the other recipes I have, but this is looking like a front-runner for my go-to cheeze sauce recipe. I tossed the pasta with the sauce and a little black pepper and some salt and at it just like that. It was as comforty as comfort food gets. It wasn't anything fancy but it hit the spot.

Thursday:
Thursday this week was also known as Valentine's day. Since I am in a committed relationship with myself I wanted to do something a little special for myself. After reading Lindyloo's post about V-con's chickpea cutlest I decided it was finally time to try them out, what better time to give myself a little food love? Ho. Ly. Crap! They're so good! Crispy and packed with flavor that left me craving them even after I was completely stuffed (2 is really the maximum anyone should have, seriously.) I'm not sure if I made them as flat as intended, but I also don't really care because they were so delicious and that's what matters. I went with the suggestion Lindyloo posted to just dip them in a little bit of agave nectar and it was wonderful, savory and sweet together and letting the cutlet remain the star. I hope she goes through with her plan to make the cutlets into little dippable nuggets because I plan to copy her. I paired them with a bowl of corn and for dessert I indulged in a pint of Purely Decadent Turtle Trails vegan ice cream. I totally loved myself up right, food-wise with this meal.


Friday:
Friday I didn't have a lot of time before I went bowling with the local vegan group, so I decided to toast some bread and make a sandwich with a leftover cutlet and some grapeseed vegenaise, lettuce and tomato. Oh, but you know what? It would have been phenomenal with the addition of some fake bacon. Oh! I must do that! Yum! I'm on a woefully beginner level but I'm going to declare this week a total success food-wise and I'm motivated to keep it going. I can't wait to see what I come up with next week. I definitely see more chickpea cutlets on the menu.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mac Daddy'll Make Ya Jump! Jump!

Yesterday I got a flat tire at work. Actually, it appears I drove to work on my flat tire. Without noticing. Let's move on. At my job this sort of thing is considered an occupational hazard and as common as it might be, it is no less a pain in the rear to deal with. Luckily at my job we also have on-site mechanics and understanding supervisors so I was able to get my tire pumped with enough air to get me to the tire place and then a nice coworker drove me back to work (and then back to the tire place to pick up my car). Things that are a pain to deal with alway call for comfort food, and when the call for comfort food is made, I turn to macaroni and cheese. And as if some force had pre-knowledge of how my day would go, I was already planning to make v-con's Mac Daddy. The title of this recipe makes me remember that song "Jump" by Kriss Kross. So then I remember how much I unabashedly LOVED that song when I was 13. Umm...and I think I may have had a crush on Mac Daddy. Or was it Daddy Mac?



What was I thinking???

The recipe calls for elbow macaroni, but I couldn't find that at the co-op but I did find this pasta on sale for $1.99 so I bought two. I have no idea how to pronounce chiocciole, but I have the feeling that if I ever did learn I would repeat it endlessly to myself.


See how the pasta up close kind of looks like the mask from the Scream movies? Doesn't that make it so tempting? Mmmm...scary pasta.


And here's the finished casserole, ready to go in my face! It was pretty damn good, good enough for a second happy helping, but it did not make my head explode with joy. It wasn't as creamy and saucy as I would have liked, but I wouldn't necessarily go so far as to call it "dry", just not creamylicious, and I've identified why that is my fault. 1) I used too much pasta, and this kind of pasta swallows up a lot of sauce in those mouth-looking holes it has. 2) I squeezed too much water out of my tofu and never got that ricotta cheese-like texture I was looking for. Plus the brand of tofu I used seems to be firmer than all other brands based on previous usage. With only that going against it, I would still call this dish and unqualified success and it's still the best vegan mac'n cheeze I've ever had. The cheezy sauce was ridiculously good and I had the idea while I was making it that I would just make it all the time and have batches around the house to put on *everything*, veggies, pasta, my cat, everything.

Dinner was followed up with a smallish container of vegan chocolate mousse from the co-op, and after all was said and done, my goad of comfort through food was smashingly successful. Mission accomplished!

(and I apologize if I got that song stuck in your head. you can come over for leftover mac if you need some comforting)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tiny Whisk, Cheap Wine, and FOOOOOOOOD!!!

(Sorry about the crappy photos in advance)

I covet kitchen utensils of all kinds. I stare at the food processor I want on Amazon when I should be working. I marvel at the sharpness of fancy knives on TV. Saddest of all, I lay in bed and imagine just the tiny whisk that would make my life 75% better by all measurable standards.

Today my tiny whisk dreams came true! I already have a whisk, but the problem is that it is ridonculously huge and when I am whisking a small amount of stuff, splashing ensues and if I try to rest the whisk on the bowl, it flips and FLOOP! sauce/dressing/broth/whatever all over the place. Not fun. Behold, tiny whisk!



See what I mean? Do other people get excited enough about kitchen utensils to take pictures of them and then post them on their blog? I didn't think so. That's fine. No, really that's fine.

Moving on! I had to buy a bottle of wine to make dinner with this evening, so I searched high and lo at PCC for the cheapest sale on white wine they had. And then I saw it. My destiny in fermented grapes was there on the second shelf from the floor, nestled humbly amongst the $13 bottles of wine. A 2006 Torres Vina Sol. Doesn't it just oooooze class?


And do you want to know what the final deciding factor was in choosing this wine? What made me exclaim out loud "Yay! This one!" (Outbursts at the fancy food co-op are frowned upon, it seems). Well I'll tell you. It was the TINY PLASTIC BULL. Like I was going to choose any other wine. Pss.



Finally, the main event! I decided 2 things today. 1) That just because I am single and eat most of my meals alone does not mean that they don't deserve to be fancy and delicious instead of quick and digestible. 2) What I would finally make from V-con. Because I have been on a severe mushroom kick lately I decided to make the Sauteed Seitan with Mushrooms and Spinach and serve it over quinoa. I loves me some quinoa. HOLY CRAP SO GOOD!!! It is just involved enough to make you feel like you're treating yourself like the awesome person you are, yet easy enough that you don't feel too tired to eat when it's done. Even when just the onions and seitan are in the pan it smells amazing, and then it's like a whole other level once you add the garlic and seasonings. Even if you don't like food, just make it for the smells that will fill your kitchen, that's enough reason. For serious. To conclude, it was really yummy. :-) See how yummy it looks? You want to make it so bad.