Sunday, May 25, 2008


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, 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


- 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)


- 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.