Monday, December 15, 2008

7 Randoms Meme Time!

So here is the first, most neglected meme I was tagged for by Bethany over at Spotted Devil Cat and His Vegan Assistant...Because who doesn't love random!?

  1. Link the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links.
  4. Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I have lived in most regions of the U.S. - I was born in the South in Winston-Salem, NC. I moved to the NE to NH when I was 4 and lived in two towns there until I graduated high school. I moved to the NW for college in Oregon, lived in the SW for a summer in Tucson, AZ (who moves to AZ in the summer?!?), and then was banished to the Midwest for 4 years in MI. So, at least all four corners of the country and one spot in the middle.

2. I'm an only child. I share well with others and I'm not totally selfish. It can happen.

3. I had 5 wisdom teeth, they've all been removed. Yep, I had an excess of wisdom.

4. I'm really really good at replicating animal noises. I've had doves want to mate with me in the pet store because of my cooing (seriously) and I fully engage squirrels in conversation. One of our friends dubbed me a "mimic." Sounds like a Hero Superpower! I'll take it.

5. I'm a feminist who defaults to traditional gender roles accidentally. Take out the trash!?!? That's so not my job. Cooking? You bet, love it. What can I say.

6. I think I've mentioned this before, but I'm kind of a science fiction geek. I've even been to two conventions (both last year in MI). The first was SO FUN and the second was weak. It's actually very refreshing to be surrounded by mass amounts of nerd energy.

7. My husband and I are very seriously considering Unschooling our son. We were both straight-A students who loved school, but I think it taught us both some really bad habits that we'd like to avoid. Couple this with the fact that teachers are pretty much forced to teach to a standardized test nowadays AND the fact that my kid is a super kinesthetic learner and I just think this is a recipe for disaster. So unschooling, here we come!

I'm too lazy right now to tag people so I kind of fail this meme. So let me say this: everyone loves talking about themselves. Recognize this fact right now and react accordingly by posting some random stuff about yourselves. Just do it. You know you want to. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dark Days Week 4

So let me just say that it turns out I left my real camera in Portland, and we're not going to back there until Christmas Eve. So cell phone pictures until then, sorry! They really are so bleak, but in my opinion they're better than nothing.

Dark Days Meal of the Week

Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes and Celeriac, Smoky Braised Greens and Hot-Sauce Glazed Tempeh
Ok, so this meal is a little bit of a cheat, because the Tempeh originates from 229 miles away. What can I say, I meant to make beans but I ran out of time. I thought I'd post anyway! Here are my sources:

Potatoes and Celeriac
Yukon Gold Potatoes - Helsing Junction Farm (86 miles)
Celeriac - Willie Green's Organic Farm (43 miles)
Splashes of Almond Milk, Earth Balance and S&P - non local

Smoky Greens
Braising Greens - Willie Green's Organic Farm (43 miles)
Yellow Onion - Helsing Junction Farm (86 miles)
Garlic - Helsing Junction Farm (86 miles)
Spices and seasonings (Molasses, Chipotle pepper, smoked paprika, tamari) non-local

Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh
Tofurkey Tempeh - Hood River, OR (229 miles)
Garlic - Helsing Junction Farm (86 miles)
Seasonings (Frank's Hot Sauce, red wine, tamari) - non-local

The celeriac was really delicious mashed with the potatoes! I will defintely buy celeriac again. Next time, however, I will start boiling the celeriac earlier than the potatoes, because the celeriac didn't really mash completely, being a little underdone. It was still really tasty!

The sauce you see over the potatoes and celeriac is the potlikker from the smoky braised greens - it ended up being a little saucier than I thought it'd be, so I figured, Yay! Instant gravy. It was delicious!

And the tempeh has become a standby for us (recipe in Veganomicon). The recipe calls for just any wine you have, red or white (but not sweet) and we had a bottle of open red, so I used that. I didn't care for it as much as the white we usually do. But still a hearty, comfort food type meal all in all. :)

Now, with more recipe testing powers!

Yep, I'm super stoked to be doing some recipe testing for Robin Robertson's new cookbook 1,000 Vegan Recipes, due out Fall 2009! After some funny e-mail mishaps, I finally got my recipe list and I'm so excited!

So I'm obviously not allowed to talk too much about this, but let me just say that this dish, which features pasta, seitan, mushrooms and peas, is so delicious I just know I'm going to be making it regularly for the rest of my natural life! It was so comforting and satisfying, and the toddler even had seconds. A win all around!

Brunch Success!
Hazelnut-Pear Pancakes with Tofurkey Breakfast Links
This was a first try with these pancakes from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan, and I'm happy to report they are AWESOME. I had a little jar of local hemp-hazelnut butter we got in Portland so I used that and some perfectly ripe local pear for these babies and it was amazing! The hazelnut flavor was so wonderful and for some reason reminded me of cappucinos, as I sipped my Dancing Goats coffee. Next time I will dice the pear slices, because the long slices made pouring the batter a little unwieldy. But they were inhaled by all participants of brunch.

The breakfast links were new to us and are interesting. Neither my favorite nor disappointing, we just agreed that they have a very distinctive flavor that was very forward at first, blank in the middle, and then finishes well. We'll probably only get these every once in a while, but I do so love to have a little easy peasy protein with our breakfasts.

spud!: So Far, So Good
So this was our first week using spud!, a local grocery delivery service. I really like it so far! Here's why.

I really like that they highlight which products they carry are local - although their definition of local is within 500 miles of the warehouse, which is a pretttty long way. But, you can find out how many miles each individual local product traveled to their warehouse, so that's a pretty cool feature for those of us who are trying to buy closer to home. I also really like that I can add and subtract items from my order up until the day before delivery. This is great for meal planning! It kind of forces you to come up with a plan, and cuts down on that whole wandering-around-the-store-aimlessly-looking-for-inspiration-to-strike syndrome (because I'm almost never inspired in the store and usually end up spending more money on stuff I don't need).

While they don't have everything I would like, the prices seem really competitive for the things they do carry (which is a lot, don't get me wrong!). For instance, I think field roast sausages are something like $5.75 at the local Thriftway; I got them through spud! for $4.42. Also, you know how organic red peppers are like $5-6/lb? I got 2 good sized reds for $3.66. And before you jump all over me about those not being local, blah blah blah, let me just say: They're for recipe testing! They weren't going to be local at the store either, so I might as well save a few bucks and some miles driving to the store, right? Right.

So the avocados I got are like little rocks and the bananas are underripe, but I'm happier getting them underripe than overripe. It just adds to the anticipation. :)

Oh, and it's free delivery for orders over a certain amount (like $30-40? I can't remember exactly).

So, stay tuned! There will be more recipe testing going down this week, accompanied by sub-par cell phone photographs! We do what we can, thank you.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Local Booty Report: 12.7.08

So I haven't done a local booty/bounty report in a loooong time, and since I got to go to the West Seattle Farmer's Market today ALL BY MYSELF (thanks, mom!!!), I thought it was a good time to do it again.

So starting in the front left:
Rock Island Red Dried Apricots ($4) - Pipitone Farms, 160 miles
Celeriac ($3.25?)- Willie Greens Organic Farm, 43 miles
Tall Grass Bakery Bread ($5.25) 13 miles
2 bunches Collard Greens ($5) - Willie Greens Organic Farm, 43 miles

Back row:
1 bunch Baby Carrots with tops ($2.50) - Whistling Train Farm, 25 miles
1 (lb?) bag braising greens ($4) - Willie Greens Organic Farm, 43 miles
2 Heart of Gold Winter Squash ($3?)- Whistling Train Farm, 25 miles
1 12 oz bottle Hazelnut Oil ($13) - Holmquist Hazelnut Orchard, 118 miles
Total: $40

Not a bad local haul! I'm forecasting some smoky collards in my future, probably with some biscuits and gravy. Because, you know, it's been a while.

I've never had celeriac before, so I'll be researching some recipes on that one. Any tips or recipes would be mucho appreciated!

I'm totally stoked about the bag of braising greens! I used to buy an non-organic Trader Joe's product like these almost weekly, back when we lived 2 miles from TJs. Even though they need some washing, it's totally nice to have all the greens stemmed and chopped already. Gooooo, greens!

The dried apricots are sooooo good! In the past, we've purchased their dried peaches and sun-dried tomatoes, which are also awesome. But dried apricots will always have a special place in my heart as my favorite dried fruit. I'm forseeing some appearing in my hot cereal this week!

Oh, and this is the first time I've ever purchased (or eaten?) hazelnut oil. It is divine! I love hazelnut flavor, and this stuff is delicious. I ate some (a lot) of the Tall Grass Bakery bread dipped in some of this golden goodness, and although the first bite is kind of aggressive, it really mellows with repeated application. I can't wait to try cooking with it! I'm thinking the braising greens would do just fine with it. And it will probably make an appearance as part of a salad dressing as well.

Some Foods I've Eaten...

Curried Acorn Squash Soup
Ok, remember a few posts ago when I was dissing all squash soups? I decided to take it as a personal challenge to make one that was actually satisfying. And I think I did it!

2 cups of roasted acorn squash (scooped out of the shell)
2-3 C stock
1-3 tsp madras curry powder
1/4 C cashew cheese
Juice of 1 lime
salt to taste

I had leftover roasted acorn squash from the other night, and I threw that in there with water and the curry powder and started heating it through. But it was too thin and I threw in some lime juice and more salt (and more curry powder). It was better and brighter, but still thin. I almost added coconut milk, but I was afraid that a) I would waste the rest of the can and b) that it would thin it out too much. What to do?!? I finally settled on stirring in some cashew cheese. And it was totally the right thing to do! I pureed it with my immersion blender and tasted it: It was creamy, spicy and sooo comforting. My curry powder is Madras style curry powder, I bought it at Market Spice at Pike Place Market. Your mileage my vary, depending on the type/age of your curry powder, so, you know, add it to taste like the salt. :)

I don't have a picture (which is probably a good thing), but I also made a Chocolate Bundt Cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking and topped it with Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting (using the Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting recipe from JoVB). It got off to a rocky start, because the cake stuck to the bundt pan and thus looked reallly crappy once reassembled. It was super soft and luscious, but didn't hold together all that well. When I got the cake cut and put on plates, it was NOT at all aesthetically pleasing - kind of like garbage on a plate. BUT! Don't judge this book by it's cover! Because it was soooo unbelievably delicious. The chocolate hazelnut frosting was crazy delicious. I used some oregon-made hazelnut-hemp butter instead of peanut butter, and it was fabulous. Make it! Now!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Butterfly Award and Yummy Asian Food!

So one of the memes that's been on my backlog has been accepting this Butterfly Award from the lovely Bethany of Spotted Devil Cat and His Vegan Assistant. Thank you, Bethany! I am so glad we have found each other (at least virtually) in this wonderland that is Seattle. We have to get together soon to plot our pantry stockings, discuss SF and break down the latest PCC Cooks Class. (BTW, I saw that the new catalog of classes comes out December 27!!! I can't WAIT!!!)

Anyway, Thank You Bethany!

(1) post about the award,
(2) link back to the person that nominated you
(3) place the award on your sidebar
(4) choose 10 blogs that you think are really cool, link to them, contact each person and talk about why you think their blogs are cool

Ok, since I'm kind of late in the game and my blogosphere tends to be a somewhat closed loop, I'm only going to nominate five bloggers. Without further ado:

Adventures in Vegetarianism - To my MDC buddy, Carrie. I think we started down the road to veganism around the same time and I loved seeing how your family transitioned to it! I love the kid-friendly recipes you provide and most especially your gorgeous CUPCAKES!!! :)

happyveganface - I think she's already been nominated, but I'm still saying Jessy is rad and hilarious and uber enthusiastic and ALWAYS puts me in a better mood! Thanks for the inspiration, Jessy!

One Green Generation - I don't often comment on this blog, but I am always learning amazing things from Melinda. She is also in Seattle, and she's compiled a wealth of information on eating locally here. Thanks so much for your words of wisdom, Melinda!

Vegan Food; More Than Tofu and Sprouts! - To Tofu Mom, another Seattle-ish (vegan!) blogger. I love reading about your delicious recipes and about your fabulous kids! Keep it coming! I'm so glad to have found your blog!

Vegetarian Adventure - Another fellow blogger that I found just as I (and I think she) was going vegan! I'm so happy to share your journey! Your food is always gorgeous and I can never thank you enough for that black bean quinoa salad! I miss your posts! But I completely understand the need to take a break.

That's all for this installation of meme-catch-up!!

Oh, I did want to mention that after picking up my parents from the Amtrak station we checked out this restaurant called Moonlight Cafe. I had read reviews of it (thank goodness - I never in a MILLION years would have tried it just by driving by) and it sounded awesome - separate vegan menu, but with a full meat-y menu for my crybaby dad! It couldn't have been more awesome. The food was delicious, the service was fast and the price was right. The sesame "beef" and vegan eggrolls were outrageous. I can't wait to go back and try a million other things! So local folks, take note: Try Moonlight Cafe!!!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Dark Days Post #2 (week 3)

Yep, I'll be up-front: I've been slacking. Sick. Sick with sick kid. Bitter. Tired. Semi-depressed. And blogging has not been my number one priority. You know how it is.

So I missed last week's Dark Days Challenge, mostly due to the fact that I was with family all week and my dad is the WORLD'S BIGGEST CRYBABY about food. So much so that it's almost impossible to find a place that we can all eat in comfortably. So there was a LOT of eating out at random places and no cooking in, except for T-day, where despite my best efforts, almost nothing we ate was local. I actually kind of missed 4 years of thankgsivings alone, just because then I had total control over the menu. Don't get me wrong, I really did enjoy being with my family(they went out of their way to veganize a LOT of standards) and everything was delicious, but I made almost none of it (just vegan pumpkin pie and the soy-seitan roast and some mushroom gravy) and none of it was local. Or if it was, it was completely accidental. Arg.

And that's the end of this installment's complaining. I told you I've been in a bad mood! Here's the food.

Dark Days Meal #2:
(Starting at 7 o'clock): Balsamic Roasted Tofu and Veggies, Kale Chips, Yukon Gold and Purple Potato Squashers, and Roasted Acorn Squash with Roasted Garlic

Sorry for the pathetic photo, but I couldn't find our camera and this was taken with the cell phone. Awesome.

So this meal was ok. We have a LOT of local squash left, and I've been looking for innovative ways to eat it, but I'm just not inspired by what I find. And am I the only person on the planet who is 100% bored by squash soup? It's like there's no there there. So, this acorn squash was roasted, mixed with roasted garlic cloves, some Earth Balance and some cinnamon and salt. It needed a LOT more salt, but I for one was too lazy to remedy the situation.

The tofu was good - it was local tofu (from Vashon Island, woo-hoo!) that had been frozen and thawed, rendering it super spongy and meaty. I mixed it with some sliced onion, shallots, garlic and mushrooms and poured over a combo of balsamic vingear, olive oil, sugar, basil and salt. Note to self: when tofu is frozen and thawed it SOAKS UP MARINADE LIKE A SPONGE. So be sure to evenly distribute it, k? I was not so careful last night. That's ok, we gave the blander pieces to the toddler, because we know that toddlers like bland.

The kale chips were salty and oil and crispy and delicious and I had to stop myself from eating them all, as usual.

The squashers were baked for 45 minutes (with the squash/garlic) then squished, drizzled in olive oil and salt, and baked for 15 minutes, flipped and baked an additional 10 minutes. They were good, if a little cold when I got everything else on the table. Silas liked the yukon golds but not the purple potatoes. WTH? What kid doesn't like purple food!?

Anyway, this meal was not a total loss, but nothing I'd necessarily try to replicate. If anyone has any good (vegan) uses for leftover pureed acorn squash, I'm all ears.

Other Random Foods

This was a curry I made several weeks ago using Soy Curls for the first time. I have to say, I'd give them a 2.5/5 stars. I don't know, I may have made too many, but the flavor was just not that great. Any ideas, fellow vegans? Should I have marinated them?

The curry consisted of peas, potatoes, mushrooms and some curry paste from Portland - this was Panang flavored. I like it but I want it to be MORE - I used about 3x the recommended amount and it wasn't even hot. I don't get it. Can being depressed make everything bland? What about boredom? Can that make everything bland?

Ugh, I'm putting this post out of it's misery. I promise to be in a better mood next time. And memes. More memes. Really. Don't forsake me now.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dark Days 2008 Post #1

Did I kick off the week with something unbelievable? Creative? Brand-new to my palate?


I made Honeybaked Lentils, which I've made about 100 times before, including my Dark Days Meal #1 for 2007! Ha! They are just so delicious! And easy, easily adapted, healthy, etc. I'm a honey-eating vegan, but you could soooooo easily substitute agave or maple syrup or rice syrup for the honey. Or sugar. Really. It's that kind of recipe.

We were amazingly able to find a bunch of washington grown legumes this summer at one of the farms we visited for the King County Farm Tour. Black-eyed peas, white beans, pink beans, 2 kinds of lentils, some pearled barley - I'm kicking myself for not buying more when we were there! And I know that Washington is a big place and it might be more than 200 miles away. But you know - I'm vegan! We need legumes!! And these were grown in my state. I don't know why more local farms don't grow affordable* legumes, but they don't so far. Something we will investigate further as we look for land to start our commune! Bwahahahaha!

*I've seen some legumes for sale at my local farmer's market but they are $6-8 per pound! OMGWTFBBQ?!?! I think we bought the others for between $2-4 per pound. Not sure if its the yuppie mark-up or what, but I can't afford that, folks.

Back the meal - So the lentils, delicata squash, shallots, and garlic are all local and with the exception of the lentils are from our CSA share (we got a storage share, woo-hoo!). And did you notice that bread there, in the bowl? Didya? I made it! Woo-hoo! And it rose and everything!!!! I'm counting this as 90% local, since the flour is locally sourced (Stone-Buhr, for those in Washington).

Here's a gratuitous shot of my first successful bread experiment in months:
It was soooo good! I can't believe we ate it all in under a week. Eesh. There are only 2 adults and 1 2-year-old in the house, just for context.

I think my success was attributable to these factors: 1) I used a sponge method for the bread, something I've never done before 2)I used leftover grains in the recipe, in this case brown rice (not local, eeks!) 3) I preheated my oven briefly and then turned it off, and let the bread rise in there. Since we keep our thermostat set at 62-64F, it's just not warm enough for the bread to rise in this century.

Local Food Meal Honorable Mentions

Chile-Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Po Boys
So here we have some local tofu dredged in some liquids (non-local) and then locally purchased cornmeal (from when we lived in MI) and some spices. That was baked and then combined with homemade crazy pickles (from cukes from the CSA), some homemade coleslaw from local cabbages and carrots, and the aforementioned homemade bread. Soooo good!

Sloppeh Joes with Smoky Collard Greens
Ok, so the tempeh is NW produced but 229 miles away - still within my local foodshed bullseye. That was combined with some local onions and garlic, ketchup and spices. Over the magic homemade rolls. The smoky collards consisted of local collards, shallots, garlic, non-local mushrooms and a host of spices. Still, the bulk of this meal with local, so I'm pretty psyched about that.

I know I've promised you memes, and now I have TWO to catch-up on! Bethany, you're killing me! I'm kidding. I swear I will do them soon, along with some other non-local food catch-up. My parents are coming this weekend and as our levels of cleanliness are not exactly matched, we have a lot of cleaning to do. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dark Days Intro and Catch-Up Food

So I took some time off after VeganMoFo to gear up for my new latest fun challenge: The Dark Days Eat Local Challenge. The idea is that of course (almost) anyone can eat local in the summer, but you kind of have to make an effort to do in in the late fall and winter. So here is a challenge to motivate you! It's way less daunting than VeganMoFo, rest assured. Just cook at least one meal per week using 90% local ingredients (or some other percentage that you determine for your location/ability, etc), blog about it and any challenges and post pictures if you can. Easy peasy. For a full list of rules and regs, check out this detailed post by the host of the challenge, Laura, of (not so) Urban Hennery.

The challenge begins yesterday, November 15th. But I have a couple of meals to share with you that helped me get in the mood for dark days. And I just have some regular old vegan food to show you, too. Yay, food!

Spaghetti and Tofu-Balls

These balls were from the oldskool Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler. They were ok. The semi-deep-fry action kind of skeeved me out, they were pretty greasy. And not dense at all like meatballs should be. They were tasty in their own right (and I LOVE spaghetti and red sauce) but they were not like meatballs. I will definitely try making Vegan Dad's version next time.

Chickpea Noodle Soup
From Vcon, but the recipe can be found here. I added some kale and we were out of soba noodles, so I subbed some spinach ribbons. It was tasty! I love noodle soups. They're kind of the only soup I like. Other than lentil.

Mac, Oh Geez!
I just get in these undeniably moods for mac and cheese and nothing else will cut it. I've been wanting to try this recipe from Dreena Burton for a while, but I always forget to buy Brazil Nuts. Well, that didn't stop me this time. I subbed a few macadamia nuts and called it good. It was really tasty! The macadamia flavor came on way too strong, though, so next time I would use all cashews. It was really tasty and creamy and another great nooch-free mac and cheese recipe. Make it! I'll be making again very soon.

Dark Days Test Run: Savory Lentils, Roasted Delicata Squash and Smoky Collards
This was sooooooooooooo good. If local eating could be this delicious all the time, I would eat local all the time! The Savory Lentils are from a recipe in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. If you haven't tried Delicata Squash, you are missing out. It is so sweet and creamy. And easy. And I think I have extolled the virtues of these collard greens in the past. Make them! They are so good. I can't wait to eat them again.

Gratuitous Biscuits and Gravy Pic
This was kind of hard-core biscuits and gravy, because instead of using Gimme Lean sausage for the gravy, I made tempeh sausage using the recipe from VWaV. It was a great substitution. And I feel better about it, since the tempeh is local and the sausage is not. Not to mention the tempeh is a fermented food, and the gimme lean has soy protein isolates, which I try to avoid. Go Team B&G!

Lazy Supper: Local Bread with Olive Oil and Smoked Salish Salt

And Panfried Tofu with Chipotle Cashew Cheese for Dipping
The tofu was from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan - the original recipe uses tempeh, but this time I subbed firm tofu. It's basically marinated quickly in tamari and brown rice vinegar, dusted with cornstarch and fried in coconut oil. The combination of the crunchy, coconutty tofu dipped in the hot-sweet chipotle cashew cheese was OUTRAGEOUS. Yum. The cheese was just the normal cashew cheese with 1-2 Tablespoons of pureed chipotle in adobo stirred in. It was sooooo good. It's also killer as a sandwich spread with avocado on baguette.

Dark Days Test Drive #2: Panfried Sunchokes (left), Braised Lentils and Winter Squash (right) and Kale with Raisins and Almonds (center)
So I had never had sunchokes before (a.k.a. Jerusalem artichokes). I panfried them in olive oil, with some garlic, s&p, then added a dash of lemon juice at the end. They were pretty good - kind of like a potato-artichoke heart combo flavor. They were a nice change from regular potatoes, but I wouldn't want them all the time.

The lentils was a combo of local roasted delicata squash, mixed with local shallots, carrots and garlic, some white wine, salt and pepper. Really tasty and pretty easy.

The kale was just braised in some water and oil, then added some raisins soaked in hot water and some sliced almonds. The almonds, raisins, oil, s&p and lemon juice were the non-locals in this meal (the lentils were locally purchased while living in Michigan - so even though they're not local here, they were purchased locally, so I think they count.) ;)

New Favorite Breakfast: Sweet Couscous with Pistachios and Raisins

I got this idea from an episode of The Minimalist, by Mark Bittman (love him!). The recipe can be found here. It is simple and sweet and delicious. A REALLY nice change from oatmeal, if you're getting burnt out.

Stay tuned for another meme I got tagged for (I'm talking about YOU, Bethany!) and of course, my official first Dark Days posting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why My Mom Rules: VeganMoFo

We visited my parents this weekend for my Dad's (55th) birthday.
Much to his eventual dismay, my mom made a Vegan German Chocolate Cake (!!!!) for the cake - woo-hoo!!!

It was freaking awesome.
And because my mom is the uber-bomb, she also made Silas (and Chad who's allergic to chocolate): Awesome Scary Vegan Spider Cupcakes!!!!
I especially like how the red eyes glow menacingly.

But beware: when a two-year-old runs out of frosting,
Unexpected consequences may result!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Field Trip and Food Catch-Up

My energy level and amount of patience has been significantly reduced this week. Not sure what that's about, but we're driving down to the Portland suburbs tonight to hang with my P's so I'm super stoked about that. Have I mentioned that Silas is obsessed with my mom? She's like a rock star in his eyes, or a messiah. It is truly amusing. When they're hanging out he doesn't want to have anything to do with me or Chad. It's all "bye-bye, mama." As in, you've just been dismissed. I love it. I just hope he doesn't wear my mom out too badly.

photo by wheelo50411

So I forgot to mention our wicked fun field trip that we took last Sunday: Pike Place Market. I don't think that I'll ever feel bored with that place, it is truly magical. One of my favorite spots in there is MarketSpice, this spice and tea shop. It is seriously like you've turned me loose in a candy store, I just go crazy! They sell all their spices in bulk, which if you haven't been clued in yet, is THE most economical thing you can buy in bulk, I swear it's crazy cheap (anywhere, not just at MarketSpice). I just love the variety, I could spend all day there! They don't just have "curry powder" - oh no. They have Madras Curry Powder and other variations. They don't just have chili powder - they have Ancho Chile Powder and Chipotle Chile Powder and probably 5 other kinds. And salt - SALT! I got my hands on some locally produced Salish Smoked Salt! It's black! It's smoky! Am I in heaven? No, I'm in MarketSpice. They also have a ton of coffee and tea varieties and I'll be honest with you - I haven't ever made it that far. I always get waylaid by the spices. Some day I'll wade in and try some fabulous teas and coffees, I'm sure. Right after I'm done humping the spice counter. Oh, did I say that out loud? Oops.

So what did I come home with? I'll tell you:
1 oz Sage
1 oz Thyme
1 oz Peppermint (for tea, duh!)
1 oz Madras Curry Powder
1 oz Granulated Onion
1 oz Salish Smoked Sea Salt
1 oz Smoked Paprika
1 oz Sweet Paprika

And I think that's it. I was like $10 for the whole lot. Yay!

Food Catch-Up
Some less than stellar looking meals we've had this week:

Indian Spiced Potatoes and Cauliflower with Garlic Toast

Red Curry Dal: Nice F-ing picture, right? Seriously. But it tasted good.

The potato and cauliflower recipe was from The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook by Robin Robertson and the dal recipe was out of The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley. Both good, solid recipes. Neither changed my life.

Mexican Fiesta Burritoes

The burritoes were a last minute dinner last night: enchilada tofu recipe out of Tofu Cookery, using previously frozen and thawed tofu. That was sauteed with 1 bulb of fennel, chopped and about 4 chanterelle mushrooms, sliced from our mushroom CSA. Topped with VegNews vegan mac and cheese sauce (or as I like to think of it, salty mashed potatoes of love) and then some avocado. Which we all know, makes EVERYTHING even better.

I'll be blogging out of Portland all next week. My mom has made my dad (the ultimate in manly omnivores) a VEGAN german chocolate birthday cake!!!! Bwahahahahahaha! My total world domination plan is in effect!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Freezer Fun (VeganMoFo)

Yes, I was tagged by Bethany of Spotted Devil Cat and His Vegan Assistant to do the freezer meme! And how can I refuse?

So if it's not obvious, I have one of those "underneath" freezers that pulls out like a drawer. I kind of like it. It just makes more sense to utilize the above space for the fridge, since we open the fridge about 100x as often as the freezer.

ANYway. So on the bottom right in the plastic grocery bag is our ice cream maker thingy that I keep frozen and ready to churn at all times. To the left of that you have some TJ's frozen blueberries and peas, some frozen local tofu, and in the Kerr jars is homemade tomato sauce made from local organic tomatoes. Yeah, I should have canned it, but I made kind of small amounts every time and it was never worth it.

On the top shelf is ice (duh), and to the left we have yet 2 more jars of tomato sauce and a big ziploc full of free organic thyme and rosemary from my gardening class.

Some things you can't see are some Luna and Larry's Dark Chocolate Coconut Bliss (which is the best thing in the UNIVERSE) and some coconut sorbet (so good, too!). Some frozen home-cooked garbanzo beans, and some pinto beans. A vegan Amy's pizza, some frozen TJ's roasted corn, some edamame, some tomato paste (best trick ever: freeze tablespoons of tomato paste on a cookie sheet and then bag it). Some ginger and galangal. And some tortillas and flat bread.

Ta da! My freezer. It's like that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Emergency Food Storage, Vegan(MoFo) Style

Are you guys freaked about the impending apocalypse? Not the religious one, I'm not feeling that one. No, I'm talking more like peak oil stuff, or even just really bad weather. I've been meaning to post about this for a while, but it's hard to sit down and organize my thoughts about this.

So let me just say that I'm a big fan of science fiction. BIG NERD, right here. I've been to (two) conventions and everything - it's true. You know what my favorite subgenre is? I'll tell you: it's utopia/dystopia stories, or stories with a post-apocalyptic setting. And if they're feminist, all the better. The scariest book in the universe, in my opinion, was Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. It's just too damn realistic. You know how it it goes, society is in decline, some uber-conservative whack-job gets elected to office, people live in walled communities to try to remain safe but violent crime is rampant, etc. The narrator is a young woman who sees where this is going and starts to make preparations, even while her family and friends think she is a little out there for doing so. And what do you know, she was right to do it, the shit hits the fan, and more stuff happens, but you're just going to have to read the book. It's good, I promise. And scary!

So anyway, what the fuck does this have to do with being vegan and food? So I try to temper my paranoid tendencies with strong doses of reality. But when the stock markets start to crash and burn, it makes me think that you know, it probably wouldn't be too bad of an idea to have enough food in the house to sustain my family. For at least a month. And with no power available.

You might be thinking, geez, where is her partner in all this and doesn't he think she's crazy? Oh, no no no no no. If anything, he is more paranoid. I won't go into it here, but trust me, he's more paranoid.

So what are we doing right now? We're following this plan. That's right, we're going to stockpile approxiamately 40 lbs of oats, 90 cans of beans, 90 cans of fruit and 90 cans of tomato products. Oh and multivitamins. And lots of water. For my family of three, this is approximately what it would take to sustain us for one month, with no power. The trick is that you can eat all of these things without a heating source and none need to be refrigerated, although of course most would be improved with heating. But you don't have to. You can eat raw oats as muesli, beans and fruit and tomatoes straight out of the can. And you would, if you were hungry.

The trick is, we eat these foods already, all the time. So I'll be using my stockpile constantly, and replacing it as needed. We'll have a system where the oldest gets used first and the replacement food gets put to the back of the shelf. It's just a nice little insurance policy that lets me sleep better at night.

Luckily, we have many quarts of peaches already canned, and lots of tomatoes already (thank you Costco, for carrying organic tomatoes). We stocked up on 20 cans of organic beans from Trader Joe's this weekend (at $0.99 a can, it seemed like the thing to do!). We're hoping to stock up a little more each weekend.

Now if I could just figure out where the hell to buy 40 lbs of oats in Seattle....

Anyway, what about you? Are you storing food? Do you think you should? How are you prepared for an emergency, long or short-term?

Monday, October 20, 2008

VeganMofo: Weekend Edition

So maybe this would be a good time to talk about my serious addiction to biscuits and gravy?!? Seriously?!!? I think I need a support group. Maybe you do, too. Let me know, we'll talk.


We also enjoyed some pretty swank vegan pizza - a refrigerated crust from TJ's topped with some marinara, leftover roasted veggies (carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, garlic, cherry tomatoes and onion) and some leftover field roast sausage, crumbled. Topped with a packet of Chreese sauce. It was really good! Quick and easy, just what I was in the mood for.

It was a "use-up-all-these-aging-leftovers" kind of weekend, so I transformed my leftover pumpkin puree (from making VWaV Best Pumpkin Muffins) into pumpkin pancakes. They were wicked, wicked good. They reminded me of when we used to get pumpkin pancakes all the time in Michigan at The Original Pancake House. Topped with tonnnnnns of whipped cream. I need to work on the vegan whipped cream angle. Maybe next time we'll try some coconut milk whipped cream, been meaning to give that a go. Anyway, try these pancakes, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Pumpkin Pancakes of Powa!
Serves 2 adults and 2 kids

1 3/4 cup ap flour (or some combo of ap flour and ww pastry flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (or 1/2 tsp already ground)
egg replacer for 3 eggs (4.5 tsp egg replacer mixed with 6 tablespoons water)
1 1/2 cup nondairy milk
3/4-1 C pumpkin puree
4 T canola oil
1 T molasses

Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients. Mix toghetha. Cook in a skillet. EAT IT! Yum.

Continuing with my southern comfort food addiction, last night we had fried seitan chicken, smoky collard greens, and some crazy good pickle chips and radishes that we made. I made the seitan the day before, using the recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes - I've been digging that recipe a lot. I think next time I make fried chicken, though, I would probably try to carefully slice my cutlets in half. They were a little squishy in the middle. But serioulsy, it was wicked good anyway, this is a minor thing.

Another Vegan Southern Feast

I used the Jay-Lo's Fried Chicken recipe from La Dolce Vegan! and I think this is the best it's ever worked. It was almost eerie how convincing it looked on the plate!

The collards I've talked about before here, and they were as magical as ever, even without mushrooms. Quote from Chad, "If you would have told me a year ago that I could love collard greens so much, I would have laughed in your face. But I want to eat these every day." Seriously, try this recipe! It's soooo good.

The pickles were kind of a last-ditch effort to save some aging cucumbers and some radishes that I had no use for. Oh and a red banana like pepper. I used a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and they've been in our fridge for quite some time. They are so sour and awesome and addictive! It's really hard to stop eating them. Silas is a big fan of the radishes, what a freak child! I think the texture of the cucumbers is weird for him, but the radishes remain crispy. In fact, I have some radishes from the CSA that I need to slice up and throw in the dwindling jar...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another Survey! VeganMoFo!

Sorry, I know I'm seriously falling off the wagon here. I've been uninspired as of late. I think it's because I need a new book to read. Or coffee. Or sleep.

Enjoy and fill out as you like! I got this from Get Sconed!

1. What was the most recent tea you drank?
Earl Grey

2. What vegan forms do you post/lurk on? If so, what is your username? Spill!
I'm on the PPK forums occasionally as chessakat, and more frequently on the Vegetarian & Vegan Living forum at as Keeta.

3. You have to have tofu for dinner, and it has be an Italian dish. What comes to mind first?
Lasagna with tofu ricotta and pine nut cream sauce on top

4. How many vegan blogs do you read on an average day?
Probably 5-7 per day, via Google Reader.

5. Besides your own, what is the most recent one you’ve read?
I think Awesome. Vegan. Rad.

6. If you could hang out with a vegan blogger that you haven’t met, who would it be, and what would you do? I think Jessy of happyveganface, because her postive attitude is very addictive.

7. If you had to base your dinners for a week around one of the holy trilogy – tofu, seitan or tempeh, which would it be? Probably seitan, because once it's made, I think it's the fastest and most easily varied among
the three.

8. If you had to use one in a fight, which would it be?
Big tubs of soft tofu - smooshed in your face!

9. Name 3 meals you’d realistically make with that tough protein of choice!
Sheesh, should have read this question first. Um, a smoothie for breakfast, a pumpkin cheesecake, and miso soup? Kind of a stretch, there.

10. What’s a recipe in vegan blogland that you’ve been eyeing?
This pasta carbonara

11. Do you own any clothing with vegan messages/brands on them?
I don't personally, but we bought the toddler a Cowhugger t-shirt from Herbivore.

12. Have you made your pilgrimage to the 'vegan mecca' yet? (Portland, duh)
My parent's live in the vicinity, so yes, we go down about twice a month (from Seattle).
13. What age did you first go vegan? Did it stick?

18, for about a year and a half (dorm living with no access to kitchen makes veganism hard). Then again in 2005 for a while, but SE Detroit is *shocking!* not so vegan friendly. This time, we've been vegan since February of this year.

14. What is the worst vegan meal you’ve had? Who cooked it?
I tend to block bad food from my memory, so I'm not really sure...

15. What made you decide to blog?
I wanted a place to remind myself of what food we like to eat. To document good and bad recipes, to develop my own, and to communicate with other people with LOVE food like me!

16. What are three of your favorite meals to make?
  1. Um, anyone who reads my blog should know I seriously need a support group to deal with my biscuits and gravy addiction. Preferably with some smoky collard greens on the side.
  2. I am also verrrry fond of the piccatta recipe in Vcon. I've made it with tempeh and seitan, and they're both good.
  3. Agave baked lentils, something green (broccoli, kale, etc) and baked winter squash. Preferably when everything is locally sourced.
17. What dish would you bring to a vegan Thanksgiving-themed potluck?
Depends on what was needed - a pumpkin cheesecake or cornbread stuffing probably.

18. Where is your favorite vegan meal at a restaurant? How many times have you ordered it?
Since I've started cooking a lot more, I have to say that I kind of prefer eating at home. But probably the Herb Crusted Tofu with Mushroom Masala at The Farm in Portland. I also had a very fab experience at Nutshell before it went unvegan (so disappointed it's not vegan anymore!)

19. What do you think the best chain to dine as a vegan is?
P.F. Chang’s or Chipotle.

20. My kitchen needs a………
Funnel (I need to transfer stuff to mason jars for storage). Then, a soymilk maker. Oh and mini-muffin tins. And rimmed baking sheet. Can you tell I have a list in my head?

21. This vegetable is not allowed in my kitchen…..!
Hmmm...celery. Although I do buy it very rarely if it seems like a recipe can't survive without it.

22. What's for dinner tonight?
Beer Battered Seitan with a red cabbage coleslaw (with carrots, leeks, garlic aioli and cilantro)

23. (Make your own question question!) What vegan product do you desperately want to try?
Dr. Cow's Aged Cashew Cheese

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cabbage Isn't Scary At All, VeganMoFo

So I'd had this head of napa cabbage in my fridge for nigh on three weeks. It taunted me with the nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah song "You don't know what to DO with me! You don't know what to DO with me!" Everytime I opened the fridge.

Well, yesterday, I decided I was sick of that goddamn thing and that it was time to set it's silly punk ass straight.

I cored that motherfucker (it sounds violent, and believe me, it was). I chopped it up. I threw it into the sizzling enameled cast iron pan with the two sauteed yellow onions, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Because when in doubt with a vegetable, I repeat these three rules:1) onions, 2) olive oil and 3) salt and pepper (which seriously count as one ingredient/rule). These three things will enable you to eat any other vegetable, I'm convinced.

I covered that shit up for half an hour and it mellowed into this delicious, tame, tender vegetable, without any hint of attitude or bitchiness.

And it was good!

To round out the punkass cabbage we had some smoked apple-sage field roast sausages, which are arguably the best sausages on the planet, and possibly the solar system. Oh, and roasted acorn squash. Because it's freaking autumn, duh.

And in my CSA box last night? Another goddamn head of cabbage, only this time it's red. And it's got some serious attitude already. But I'm not afraid anymore. No, no. I know just what to do with it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why Does Yeast Hate Me? VeganMoFo.

No, yeast doesn't hate me because of VeganMoFo...It hates me for being green. It hates me for being cheap AND green - and by keeping my heat at 62 degrees. I think that's the reason that yeast always lets me down. I don't really know, it won't speak to me no matter how much I implore. Luckily, other bread ingredients are more forgiving so even though my bread is the most unfluffy thing in the universe, it still tastes pretty dang good.

So I made that No Knead Whole Wheat Bread I was talking about and it tastes really good - just don't look at it. Ever! I think next time we're going to have to do some kind of preheated, oven door open kind of situation in order for it to rise. Cuz it's just too dang cold.

Onto the food photos! Keep an eye out for the very embarrassingly low-profile bread.

Butter Lettuce and Arugula Salad with Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

With a lemony oregano-y caper-y viniagrette.

OMG-Roasted Vegetables with Garlic (No-Knead) Toast

The veggies in question were parsnips, carrots, cauliflower, onions and garlic. With the magically transforming powers of olive oil and salt and pepper.

Salad, Gimme Lean Sausage and Garlic Toast Lunch


Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh, Roasted Rice & Leeks, Corn on the Cob

Yes, it's the hot sauce glazed tempeh made with something labeled "hot sauce." It is good. The roasted rice and leeks were crazy good, too! That was out of the Lorna Sass book Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way. It's just brown rice roasted at 400F for about 8 minutes then combined with sauteed leeks, thyme, salt and boiling water and baked for 35 minutes (let stand for 10 minutes). Really good! The roasting/toasting of the rice makes it crazy buttery and popcorn-like. Definitely recommend it!

Ok off to a parent ed class related to our co-op preschool called Rituals. I hope no animals are sacrificed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is Anything Better Than Biscuits and Gravy!?!

The answer to that question is yes: Biscuits, Gravy AND Smoky Collard Greens!

I've been super under the weather lately. So please excuse my tardiness.

We got home from a long drive on Sunday and I was feeling super tired and wonky and not in the mood for anything. Until I thought of biscuits and gravy. And collards. OMGYES.

So I cooked up a batch of the collards (and biscuits and gravy) from my cooking class the other night. Verdict: Complete, freaking awesomeness. The instructor was totally anti-liquid smoke (I'm fine with it, but definitely willing to experiment). So instead she uses smoked paprika and chipotle in adobo to lend a smoky and a tinge of spicy elements to the greens. But the real, over the top trick to this recipe? Molasses. Black-strap molasses. Yes, I said molasses.

I forgot to ask the instructor for her permission to post this, but I'm pretty sure she's cool with it. It's her recipe, not mine!

Miss D's Smokin' Collards
by Dawnula Koukol
Serves 4-6, Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 45 min-1 1/2 hrs
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 3 C chopped yellow onion (about 2 onions)
  • 6 oz or 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 T garlic, sliced
  • 1 T chipotle in adobo
  • 2 1/2 T smoked paprika, divided in half
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 3/4 C vegetable stock
  • 4 T molasses (black-strap)
  • 5 lbs (or about 4 bunches) collards, cleaned, stemmed and chopped
In a large stockpot, heat oil on medium. Add the onions and mushrooms, saute for about 6 or 7 minutes or until the onions are wilted. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the chipotle, half of the paprika, vinegar, soy sauce, vegetable stock and molasses.

Stir in the greens, a third at a time, pressing the greens down as they start to wilt. Cook the greens, covered, for about 45 minutes. Ad the last half of the smoked paprika, salt and pepper and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
I halved the recipe with mucho success. In fact, I only had 1 bunch of collards when I made this, so I cooked it as stated, but then added a bunch of cleaned/stemmed/chopped kale when I added the last of the smoke paprika - because kale doesn't need to cook nearly as long as collards do. It worked really well!

Try this recipe - it is soooooo good! The smokiness, the sweet of the molasses, the savory mushrooms and the pieces of sliced garlic - it's just tooooo gooood! And I'll have you know that I ate this meal combo for three meals straight - and would have kept going but ran out of leftovers. And I want it again. NOW! Alas, too many other vegetables to deal with in the fridge right now. Why do you taunt me, cabbage, parsnips and cauliflower?! Why must you aggravate me arugula?! Blarg!

Oh yeah, and in order to try to tame my overabundance of leeks (?!) last night I whipped up a quick simple batch of Potato Leek Soup. I used Mark Bittman's recipe, cuz I lurve him. We also had some garlic toast to dip. YUM!