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 mothering.com 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!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

VeganMoFo: Meme Time

You know I don't do a lot of memes around here, but I don't have a ton of time this weekend (wedding to go to, etc). So here's a fun little vegan meme that I got from Jessy at happyveganface, who got it from Liz at Food Snobbery is My Hobbery.

1. name a song that involves food in some way.
I like to eat, eat, eat Apples and Bananas! (can you tell I have a 2 year old!?)

2. what criteria do you use when choosing a new cookbook to buy?
It has to have some goddamn photos. I’ve let perfectly good cookbooks fester because of bad layout, bad quality paper or no photos (Vegan Mediterranean Kitchen comes to mind – checked it out of the library and never used it because I couldn’t get beyond this issue).

I’ve been more interested in buying really great, test of time cookbooks to veganize lately (just checked out The Gift of Southern Cooking). If it’s a vegan cookbook, then there better be some major innovation or something specific I want to learn – like specific cuisines, etc.

3. what did you eat today?
Homemade biscuits and jam for breakfast, then Burgerville for lunch – this is what happens when we are with the In-Laws. We're going to scare up some good vegan yummies for dinner in portland before the wedding - probably at Proper Eats.

4. name a vegan food that you know exists but you have never tried.
I have soy curls in my cupboard that I’ve never used. I’ve also never tried cheezly or sheese.

5. the Food Network just called and needs you to start your new show tomorrow. what will the title of the show be?
Vegan Comforts – veganizing everything your grandma used to make! Yum.

6. favorite hot sauce or other spicy condiment?
I like anything with chipotle flavor, so Chipotle Tabasco or some kind of homemade chipotle mayo (YUM!)

7. how old were you when you became vegetarian/vegan?
I went vegetarian for the first time around age 13 or 14, then vegan for a while at age 17-19 (dorm living made vegan reallllly hard for me and no vegan friends made it harder). Back to veg for ages 19-27, fell off the veg wagon during pregnancy around month 4, back to veg 5 months post-partum, vegan again at 29, or February of 2008. I’ve been all over really. I am almost certain that were I to get pregnant again I could remain vegan. I just wasn’t finding the information I needed and my providers, though not unsupportive, were not particularly helpful either.

8. favorite vegan cheeze?
I’m still waiting to find a great commercial vegan cheese, they all just creep me out a little. Right now I’m in love with the VegNews cheesy sauce for their veganized mac and cheese.

9. cutest baby animal?
sea otters!

10. favorite type of jam/jelly/marmalade/preserves?

11. do you take any vitamins/supplements?
yeah, at the direction of my naturopath and some pretty detailed blood work I take 10,000 units of vitamin D a day (for 3 months, then down to 2-5,000/day), evening primrose oil (protects against breast cancer - my mom's had it twice), iron+B12 supplement, vegan DHA, and a vegan multiple.

12. what food/dish most embodies the Fall season?
Hot apple cider and vegan pumpkin donuts!

13. what food would you have a hard time living without?
I guess it would realllly suck to have nut allergies – I would hate to live without almond milk, peanut butter, cashew cheese, pine nut cream sauce, etc.

14. coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
Ohgoodlord, give me coffee.

15. it's 10PM and you're starving. what do you eat?
Probably some organic but still not good for me commercial cookies like newman ginger-os or trader joe’s joe joes. Or there’s always the chocolate coconut ice cream calling my name…

16. if you have an animal companion, what is his/her favorite food?
no more kitty. But she loved the tuna. And human earwax. Go figure.

17. worst injury you've gotten in the kitchen?
probably a burn, but nothing really ever very serious.

18. when you have a food-related question, who do you call?
Depends on the question. If it’s vegan related, I usually go to the internets, either MDC Vegetarian and Vegan Living Forum or The PPK forums. I’m trained as a librarian, so I’m also all about doing the research myself.

19. summer is ending- what food will you miss most?
Raspberries! Tomatoes! God, it felt like here in the PNW we never really had that glut of tomatoes that I usually associate with summer. Blueberries, too.

20. what snacks do you keep in your purse/backpack/desk at work?
Larabars, fruit leather, Tofurkey Jerky, granola bars (these also double as Silas Snacks)

21. favorite soup to make on a rainy day?
I’m a big fan of mushroom barley, UnChicken Noodle, or Split Pea.

22. what's your favorite combination of fresh vegetable and/or fruit juices?
Carrot Ginger is always zingy!

23. favorite brand of root beer?
Hmmm, Thomas Kemper? I also love when brew pubs brew their own!

24. make you your own question: What’s your favorite vegan breakfast, whether you make it or not?
I LOOOOVE biscuits and gravy. I think I could eat vegan sausage gravy every dang day!

So, go on! MEME IT UP!

Friday, October 10, 2008

VEGANMOFO: Why Jessy Is My Hero!

So we're down in Portland visiting my parents (and for those of you in Portland, we're actually in a teeny tiny town called Warren, in between Scappoose and St. Helens on Hwy 30 - it's about 35 miles West of Portland, way past Sauvie Island). And I was hungry. And in this tiny outlying area of Portland there are still a few vegan options - a mexican place that does a pretty good job with the no cheese and lots of veggies, Burgerville, the best fast food in the nation, and well, that's about it. But we're figuring we're going to be eating out a lot over the next few days just because of the schedule (relative's wedding, random relatives, blah blah blah) so I wasn't inclined to go out for lunch and even declined the lure of the aforementioned delicious Burgerville.

So my parents are not vegetarians but my mom is good about trying to keep a pretty well stocked pantry for us, which is nice. So I started snooping around in there, trying to see what was on hand, what she had going in the land of vegetables (bag of lettuce, some onions, shallots, garlic, carrots, a stick of celery), scoped out the fake meat options, and finally decided that it was going to be a mexican fiesta.

Black Beans
Can of Ro-tel Mexican (lime and cilantro tomatoes)
Some Canned Green Chiles
Cooked Brown Rice
Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas (!!)
Cheesy Sauce from VegNews Mac and Cheese

I recently wrote about the awesomeness that was the nooch-free, salty mashed-potato-like cheesy sauce from the VegNews mac and cheese recipe and I really really wanted that cheese, but not necessarily mac and cheese. So I started my brown rice cooking, and peeled and chopped my onion, carrot, shallot and potatoes for the cheesy goodness. Opened the cans of beans, rotel and chiles and dumped them in a frying pan to heat through. After blending up the cheesy sauce I moved onto the freakishly simple task of making my own galldanged homemade tortillas (!!). So. Freaking. Easy. And delicious!!!!

And Jessy told me how. Which is one of the reasons she is my hero. She is also my hero for making so many other things on her own that I would never try my hand at - such as these amazing potstickers! OMGWTFBBQ!!! Amazing. I want those potstickers, NOW!

But anyway, back to MY lunch - it was really freaking super fantastic. Lunch construction went:

Slather a fresh tortilla with cheesy sauce, spread on some brown rice, top with chili-bean-tomato mix, and dab on some more salty cheesy goodness.

Life would have been even more perfect with an avocado, but we were working with pantry supplies, so you know.

My mom was really impressed with the food (she's a good sport) and ate her whole tostada-like pile of food, while exclaiming, "This is so good! And I never eat this much for lunch!!!" Silas sat still long enough for like 4 bites, and Chad was a huuuuuge fan and even said that this combo might just replace his usual gruel-like go-to meal (which is too disgusting to even describe, but this is a huge concession on his part, so yay!).

We will definitely be making cheesy bean tortilla madness again so. And you should try it too. Go pantry challenge! And go Jessy for being an inspiration!!! superw00t!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

VeganMoFo: Tempeh boring, Tempeh BLAM!

Talk about a weird progression.

So this afternoon I was all chicken-fried steak-y inspired by Jessy's comfort food spread from the other night. So I decided to fry up some tempeh (dredged in flour, dipoed in almond milk-cornstarch slurry, dipped in coating). I used the Jay-Lo's breading recipe from La Dolce Vegan, but added about 1/4 cup of panko. Then I fried it up in olive oil this afternoon and set it aside. I was dreaming of mashed potatoes and fried tempeh...then I tasted the tempeh. It was good, but NOT chicken-fried anything. It was kind of...well...bland. NOTE: this was NOT Jessy's tempeh recipe! I'm sure hers is superwickedawesome! I went out on a limb here and fell flat on my face.

What to do?!?

And then it hit me: PICCATA!!! Of course. If they made piccata-flavored lollipops, I would buy them. The Veganomicon recipe for piccata might just be worth the price of the book. It's salty and lemony and winey and savory and olive-y and OMGYUM. It was the perfect thing to save my drib drab tempeh.

All over fingerling potatoes we dug ourselves at the farm. Wicked fun! And I meant to make carrots but instead I found myself fending off a feral two-year-old from my olives - that kid could eat a whole jar of kalamatas in about 5 minutes if I let him. But I don't. Cause I want to eat them, too! I'm a really bad mom. Plus, he's still in diapers. I'll just leave you there.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

More MoFo-in'

Curried Tofu Sandwiches on Homemade (!) Bread, Cheezy Gingered Apple Gratin and Coconut Chard

So I have been meaning to try the curried tofu from Vcon for a while now, so I did. I even pressed the dang tofu, which I often skip - I'm still not convinced it makes a difference with extra firm tofu, but whatevs. I baked that stuff up and threw it between some really good homemade Dave's Killer Bread, whipped up some curried mayo and slapped some lettuce on those bad boys for sammiches. YUM. The tofu was good, not my absolute fave tofu of all time, and another bummer - the little dude did not care for it at all. So it probably won't be making another appearance for a while, because little dude is usually a tofu hound.

The gratin did pretty well reheating, and was a nice combo of flavors with the curry. Chad and I both decided that it might be better next time if it were in some kind of pie shell, for added texture. But really, isn't everything better in pie shell? Right.

The chard was kind of a weird substitution for a spinach dish I make out of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian - it was ok. A little overcooked.

Overall - not my best effort. And the kitchen is still TRASHED. I should be washing dishes RIGHT NOW!!!!

About the Dave's Killer Bread - this was a pretty easy recipe, and it's great that it's 100% whole wheat. I think I might have yeast issues, because it didn't rise nearly as much as it did in the video - but then again, I don't have a stand mixer, so I subbed by food processor and a dough blade. I also don't have two loaf pans, so I have no idea why I made two loaves of bread at once. I was just following the recipe, I guess. Moral of the story: Halve the recipe next time, and get some new yeast, you cheapskate.

Although I have to admit that this is the next bread recipe I'm trying!

And finally, a question for you, dear reader: What the hell should I do with my head of napa cabbage that the CSA gave me? I'm pretty much a cabbage novice. Help a vegan out.

Last Night Photo Catch-Up
White Bean and Rosemary Soup

Skillet Cornbread

Sunday, October 05, 2008

VeganMoFo: Weekend Roundup

A cooking class! Mac and Cheese! Gardening class! Such weekend!

Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh, Take Two

This time I used something labled "hot sauce." Much deliciousness ensued, much less hotness than last time. Still a weensy bit hot for the toddler, but I LOVED it. The moral of the story is to never substitute any ingredients in Veganomicon. Ever.

Grilled corn on the cob was awesome, again.

Cooking Class: Southern Vegan Comfort

So I took this class at our local co-op natural food store, PCC. It was awesome! This was only the second (vegan) cooking class I've ever been to, but I just love them. It wasn't like I'd never made biscuits or vegan sausage gravy or collards before - I had, and I love them. But it's just so great to learn from other cooks. Because I don't get a chance to cook with a lot of people. My mom, my husband, occasionally a grandmother maybe. But you really can learn a lot by just cooking with other people, and in this case, we were watching an actual chef who had a lot of experience, both vegetarian/vegan and omni. Little tips I picked up that were new to me:
  • In the summer when you have bunches of fresh herbs, save the bunch of stems and use it as a pastry brush to baste stuff on the grill or to get oil into a pan. Yummy herby goodness!
  • Save woody stems from thyme or other herbs in a ziploc in the freezer for stock
  • Our instructor also saves scraps from onions, carrots and celery together in a freezer bag, and in a separate bag she saves mushroom stems. Because sometimes she wants all-around veggie stock, but sometimes she just wants a mushroom stock
  • A touch of blackstrap molasses can take collards from good to OMGWOW!
  • Thinly slicing garlic instead of mincing can provide a delicious shake-up to meals and gives more of a surface are to get that delicious bite to garlic in your mouth
One of the best things I came away with from this class was the idea of NOTHING GOING TO WASTE in her kitchen. She really did save everything for another use. She also talked about how she likes to make big batches of food but hates leftovers - and I can so relate. So in her case, she transforms them into something different everytime. So a big batch of collards will get eaten in soups or stews, or thrown in wraps, etc.

Another great thing I came away with from this class? Confidence. I have a tendency to over-rely on recipes, and sometimes you just don't have a recipe for making over the leftovers in your fridge. That's where creativity - and some confidence - come into play. And I put them to play the next morning!

Leftovers + Biscuits = Biscuits and Gravy!

So here we have some leftover hot-sauce glazed tempeh crumbled up and fried in some EVOO, then some rustic white beans with mushrooms thrown in there, and some leftover mushroom gravy from a few nights ago. I thinned it out with a little almond milk and added some fennel for that sausage-y flavor. And you know what? It was freaking awesome. Seriously, some of the best vegan sausage gravy I've ever had. Over really freaking fantastic biscuits (used Yellow Rose Recipes for that one).

So The PPK boards had been all a-chatter a while ago about this recipe, and I LOVE me some mac and cheese, so I had to give it a whirl. Verdict: AWESOME. I can't believe I finally found a nooch-free mac and cheese!!! (I like nooch and all, but come on. Not every single time). The combo of cashews, lemon juice and the cooked veggies was amazing. I tasted it pre-baked and after baking, and I have to say that Chad and I both really liked it better pre-baking. The breadcrumbs were a little much and somehow there was a weird fishy aftertaste post-baking. But I will most certainly be making this recipe again, soon. I might cook just a bit more pasta, because it was pretty saucy pre-baked - maybe bump it up from 8 oz to 10 oz. If you love mac and cheese, try this recipe!!!

Oh you wanted to take a picture of that? Uhhh....
The reason I don't have a pic of the mac and cheese in the baking dish. Thanks, dear.

Rustic White Bean Soup with Rosemary + Southern Lovin' Cornbread

So some more leftovers were magically transformed into something new and delectable last night for dinner after gardening class (which is so awesome! I heart Seattle Tilth!) So I took the remaining Rustic White Beans and Mushrooms, threw it in a pot and put it on low while I cooked me up some fantastic southern style cornbread (veganized the Sour Milk Cornbread recipe from The Gift of Southern Cooking). I used a mix of white cornmeal and yellow (I LOVE real southern style - read: NOT SWEETENED - cornbread, and they tend to be made with white cornmeal). It was sooooooo good! And had so few ingredients. I need to get some more white cornmeal because I want to eat it everyday.

So back to the beans - I pureed them with my immersion blender, added some fresh chopped rosemary and a splash or two of lemon juice and then when it was served I drizzled some olive oil in each bowl. It was SOOOOO GOOOOOD!!! Sorry no pic, I can't find my camera cord and I'm not making too much noise looking for it cuz the dude is sleeping. Thank dog.

Friday, October 03, 2008

VEGANMoFo: Iron Chef Challenge!

What the heck is that up there? Well I'll tell you. In a minute. (Ha! I'm so like crappy network news!)

So fellow vegan blogger Katie (aka mrsbadmouth) from Don't Eat Off The Sidewalk came up with the brilliant idea of doing an Iron Chef-style challenge for this weekend. Read about in detail here. But anyway, she picked 2 ingredients that we have to cook with this weekend and post our results (by Sunday noon). No prizes, just good ol' blogger glory.

What are the two ingredients? I'll tell you - right now!

Apples and Ginger! What an awesome autumn choice, right?

So of course like 9 gabillion sweet ideas come to mind: muffins, scones, pancakes, pies, whathaveyou. But I was like No Way, Man! I'm going against the grain, cuz I'm a Vegan and that's how we ROLL!! So what did I make?

Cheezy Apple Gratin with Gingered Cream Sauce

Yep. So here's what's in this thang:
  • 1 lb(ish) of apples - I think I used 5-6 medium sized (that we picked ourselves at Fall City Farm!)
  • 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs (mine were mixed with some EB - leftover from Mac and Cheese topping)
  • 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 11/2 C plain soymilk creamer
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 - 1 inch of grated ginger (mine was frozen)
  • s&p
  • 1 C of Swiss Melty Cheez from The Uncheese Cookbook (or your own fave cheezy sauce)
What I did:

Preheat the oven to 375F. Put the soymilk creamer and almond milk in a saucepan over lowish heat. With a microplane or very small-holed grater, grate the ginger straight into the pan, stir and fagettaboutit.

Core and slice your apples (peel if you want, but seriously who wants to peel?!). Mine were medium-thin slices, I was kind of in a hurry.

Combine your breadcrumbs and walnuts in a small bowl. In a casserole dish (I used enamled cast iron) layer about half the apples, sprinkle with salt and pepper, follow with half the nut-crumb mixture, the rest of the apples, s&p, and the rest of the nut-crumb mix. Finally, pour the warmed ginger cream over the whole shebang (it should cover the apples about 3/4 of the way up the dish).
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until very soft. About 10-20 minutes before it's done, remove the dish and pour on (or sprinkle on you grated) cheesy sauce. Return to oven for remaining 10-20 minutes, or at least until the cheesy sauce is bubbling and has baked in.
Commentary 'Bout It
At first I wasn't planning on the cheezy sauce. Then I tasted the gratin 10 minutes before it was done and I was like, "Hm...this tastes like an apple crisp that got all mixed together." And I really wanted savory! What to do?!? Cheesy sauce, of course. And it really made the difference!

The first taste is POW! Noochy cheese. Followed by sweet, mellow, soft apples. Than finished up with POW! Garlicky-onion nooch cheese. It's a pretty good combination of tastes. I think it would be great on the side of any dinner plate, especially chickpea cutlets or oooh! curry baked tofu.
I think I would grate more ginger in next time, just for fun. So increase if you want!
For full disclosure's sake, I got the idea for this gratin from my main man Mark Bittman, in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Because I love it. I whisper sweet nothings in its invisible ears.


Rustic White Beans and Mushrooms
from Veganomicon

Was wicked. We picked up a TON of 1 lb bags of local beans when we went on Farm Tour 2.0 last weekend and I thought it was a great time to break out the white beans for some beans and mushrooms and Vcon. And since there was no hot sauce called for in the dish, I felt it would be a relatively humiliation-free dish. Yay!

We used up our whole share of CSA Mushrooms for the week on the dish, and it was a worthy use indeed. We really loved the huge hunks of veggies throughout the dish, carrot in particular. I think next time I would double or even triple the amount of carrots, just we are really big cooked carrot dorks. So soft and orange and delicious! This made a TON of food, which is nice for lunches and whatnot. I think I may reheat the leftovers with the sage breadcrumbs from the pumpkin ziti recipe for lunch tomorrow.

We had these beans over very last minute "Oh crap what should we eat with these beans?" couscous cooked in veggie broth. Oh and some lemony broiled green beans, because seriously, we like to load up on all types of beans possible. And salad with sesame dressing from Vcon, which was also really good and easy to make.

Apple Caramel Peanut Butter Bars
From Veganomicon (name of dessert approximate, I am beyond lazy)

Ok I realize this looks like your dog had a potty emergency all over something in a 9x13 pan. I'm not sure why my peanut butter caramel came out so gloppy (and I even added more maple syrup to make it more liquid) but it sure tastes good anyway!

Here's the profile view, kind of weird, I know. Layers of graham cracker crust, apples, crumb topping and peanut butter caramel! YUMMMMM!

Check back tomorrow for a review of a vegan cooking class that I just took on Southern Vegan Comfort Foods! Woo-hoo!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Eggplant Parmesan Supremo

Welcome back to day 2 of VEGANMOFO!

So we had this eggplant and I was all "maybe I'll just make ratatouille" and then I was like "But that doesn't have pine nut cream and I WANT IT." So, eggplant parmesan it was. And boy did it FREAKING ROCK!

Eggplant Paremsan Supremo
aka, Eggplant Farmesan (according to Silas)
Here's what I did:

1 Medium eggplant*, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 Breading recipe from Everyday Dish's seitan cutlets - but you'll need a LOT of panko, just an FYI (1-2 cups, maybe?)
Some Mushroom Marinara(my recipe below)
1 batch of Pine Nut Cream (from Vcon)

Lobster Mushroom Marinara:
1-2 T olive oil
1/2 medium onion*, chopped fine
1 crazy freaking lobster mushroom,* thinly sliced (This was from our Mushroom CSA - replace with whatever mushroom you want, about 1 cup thinly sliced)

1 28 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tsp garlic powder (OMG I was out of fresh garlic! Half of an entire bulb was moldy, and I had already shopped. Rawr).
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2-1 tsp salt
pinch sugar
1 glug (2-4 T) red wine*

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sautee until translucent. Add the mushroom (if you're using the lobster mushroom - start to freak out how much like seafood it smells as it cooks! Seriously!) Sautee until soft.

Take your immersion blender to the opened can of tomatoes and puree. Alternatively, throw it in the blender or food processor until smooth. Add the onion-mushroom mixture, tomatoes and everything else to a saucepan and heat through. Taste, adjust the seasonings.

Fry up the eggplant over medium heat until brown and crispy on both sides. Put one layer of eggplant down in a 9x13 dish. Cover with Marinara. Carefully spoon on and spread out the pine nut cream (we had a little leftover, but more will definitely not hurt!). Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, or until the pine nut cream looks set and starts to form little cracks, like this:

We served this alongside some brown rice linguine. It was so good! Silas, the vegan toddler wonder, couldn't get enough. Let's just say that between the three of us, it is now completely gone, between dinner and today's lunch. Yeah, like that.

* = local organic

Amaranth Porridge = Notsomuch, thx.

So I checked out Lorna Sass's Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way from the library and was flipping through it last night. First of all the book totally rocks, it has cooking info and instructions for all those obscure grains you want to try at the health food stores (kamut, millet, funky colored rices, wheat berries, groats, etc). It has substituting instructions and she's all about having you cook extra to freeze so you have some wicked fast recipes on your hands for later.

But back to amaranth. So I was reading about how it's like quinoa, in that it has the complete amino acid chain and is a good source of protein, blah blah blah. I also just saw a gorgeous amaranth plant at my garndening class last weekend, so I was reinspired to give it a go. We had some on hand, and I'm not even sure I had ever tried it. So I soaked it overnight and cooked it up for breakfast this morning.

Erg. I'm not usually a texture-phobe, but I just couldn't get into this one. No matter how much agave, cinnamon or coconut oil I added, the runny texture just creeped my gullet out. It reminded me of that glop they have to eat on The Matrix, you know the one I'm talking about? The whole tastee-wheat-chicken conversation? Right, like that. Silas inspired me to try to just drink it like a soup, and that almost caused some hurling on my part.

So I don't think we'll be having that again. Which is too bad, because Chad and Silas both kind of liked it. I'm going to have to try a savory recipe for amaranth; I'm determined to like it, kind of like how I feel about beets (how can they be so pretty and yet taste so much like dirt?!). I'm willing to give it another go. Stay tuned for the Amaranth Chronicles.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

VEGANMOFO! It's here!

That's right, I've been having anxiety nightmares about this day, and here it is despite it all! It's VEGANMOFO, the VEGAN MOnth of FOod, where I swear on my firstborn that I will post at least 5 times a week in an attempt to share some more of the vegan food love. I'm excited! I'm scared! Help/Squee!

I'm not really sure what you can expect from me. Maybe some talk about why I am vegan. Maybe about how I first went vegan at 17. Maybe some food writing review. Maybe some stuff about this awesome gardening class I'm taking, which of course relates to the awesome food I will grow to eat. Maybe some restaurant reviews. Maybe about being a vegan mom to a mostly vegan toddler. But definitely a lot of food. That much I know.

I'm going to ease into this by just talking a little bit about what we've been eating lately. This week over at The Post Punk Kitchen Forums, the cookbook challenge is to utilize Veganomicon. The idea is to focus on new-t0-you recipes, which can be hard for me because that book has so many tried and true faves! So we're splitting the difference here.

Hot-Glazed Tempeh
This was a new to me recipe. First of all, I'm an idiot, let's just get that right out there. We don't keep hot sauce in the house - we just don't. For one thing, we have like 5 kinds of hot things that I typically sub for hot sauce, like chiptole tabasco, chili-garlic sambal, pickapeppa sauce, siracha, chipotle in adobo and a variety of hot spices. Second, I was kind of under the impression that hot sauce was less like ketchup (which always tastes pretty much the same no matter what kind you buy) and a lot more like snowflakes - each one is it's own flava/experience. Apparently, this is not so. After reviewing that this recipe was really hot (and we love the spice) - keeping in mind I DID NOT USE HOT SAUCE, but rather a combo of the tabasco, sambal and pickapeppa - I got about 10 comments on the boards that it's not hot at all you idiot, use real hot sauce (including one from Isa herself! I am forever shamed!). So, now I know. Use something that comes out of a bottle labled "hot sauce," you asshole.

So? So. My bastardization of this recipe yielded supa-spicy tempeh, but I have since begun the mending of my ways and have indeed purchased a bottle of "hot sauce" which I am now to understand isn't at all hot, it's just a clever name. Do I have that right? Good. I will be retrying this recipe sometime soon, as it appears to be a fave of the folks on the PPK boards, and I love a good tempeh recipe. Sheesh. I feel like I just came out of confession.

As an aside, we served this wicked hot tempeh with some really freaking awesome grilled corn on the cob and a green salad with leftover tahini garlic dressing (from VWaV). I lubed the corn up with some olive oil and sprinkled on some chili powder pre-grilling, and then after it came off added just a bit of earth balance and a sprinkle of sumac - YUM! Silas, the 2-year-old, was an especially huge fan of the corn, which I don't think he had ever had in cob form before. Now we know. Handles = fun food for toddlers. Duh.

Chickpea Cutlets, Mushroom Gravy and Rutabega Puree

So we are longtime fans of the chickpea cutlets. I love anything salty and savory and chewy and filled with dense protein-substances. I love how quick they come together. And I love the baking option, which requires very little of my attention.

The Mushroom Gravy was good - I think I would add a little more saltiness next time, because my broth powder (Bill's Chick'nish) is very low in salty flavor. I used a bunch of mystery mushrooms from our Mushroom CSA (how wicked is a mushroom csa? very!), I think they might have been baby shiitakes, but seriously, not sure. It came out great, I would definitely make this again. Who doesn't love gravy?!?

The Rutabaga Puree - ok. It was fine. I don't know, it was a little...rutabaga-y. Duh. I guess the thing is, it looks a lot like mashed potatoes, which are like one of my top 5 favorite foods, but they don't taste like mashed potatoes and the mouth feel is different. And with that cutlet and gravy, I guess my palette was kind of like "give me the mashers, you freaking idiot!" and instead I provided a completely non-sequitor, thai-inspired rutabaga puree. Another operator error. I might try it again if I get another rutabaga in my CSA box, but I can't see seeking out another rutabaga just to make this. But it's really fine, and seriously, anything with coconut milk automatically gets 5 extra points. As you can see, I added the cilantro.

Oh and those green beans in the background? Those are the Lemony-Broiled Green Beans from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. Practically instant and delicious, yay!

Ok, off to prepare the eggplant for some parmesan tonight. I think we're going to use some fabulous pine-nut creme to top that off with, yay! Until tomorrow then.