Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween & Last Day of MoFo

I am sad to see MoFo go. I'll probably keep blogging into the abyss, though not as often. It's fun to scroll through and see the things I've made.
Today for breakfast we had Gingerbread Waffles from Vegan Brunch. They were yummy. Ben loves cloves, the weirdo, so these were a big hit with him. This is Mr. Tomato's. You can tell from the way it's drenched in maple syrup.
For lunch we had tempeh wings from Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk. I serve them naked because Ben likes to dip them in ketchup and ranch; I like the wing sauce in the recipe and ranch; and Rich just likes the wing sauce. These things are awesomeness. They disappear in seconds. Mr. Tomato made a pinwheel out of his.



Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Cookies

Ben and I made and decorated sugar cookies for Halloween yesterday. I used the Joy of Vegan Baking recipe and it worked really well.
The other cool culinary thing to happen yesterday was that, for the first time, I got vegan cheese to melt. This is just mostacholi and spaghetti sauce with FYH mozzarella. The trick is to broil the crap out of it. It tasted all right. Rich really liked it. Ben really didn't. I don't need it and it's expensive, so we probably won't see it again for a long time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

That's Good Soup

Yesterday was our first really cold day. A perfect day for soup. I made Cannellini Kale Soup from jae steele's Get It Ripe. It was delightful. I actually said "That's good soup!" Out loud and everything. Then, because we are nerds, we had to say it in a bunch of different languages like the Noodle Soup spot at the end of Venture Bros.

Tomorrow we'll be back in the 80s, but for today I'm enjoying my warm oatmeal and thinking roasted root veggies for dinner.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Finally!

A ginger sesame pasta salad that works! I've tried a bunch of these, but the combination is always too bland or too strong. This one, from jae steele's Get It Ripe is a nice combination of flavor and subtlety. I'm so glad, too, because before this week's PPK Challenge, I hadn't made anything from this book and thought it might have been a waste of money and space. But between the pasta (above) and the apple crumble (below, super yum) and her basic tofu marinade (not pictured but holy crap was it delicious), this book has already paid for itself. I'm not done trying new recipes from it either; tonight will be cannellini kale soup. And sometime this week I want to try her baba ganouj and maple roasted roots (not together though).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Retro Dining

When I was little, one of my favorite dinners was au gratin potatoes from a box with polish sausage. I know. It causes a little shudder now. Well, we never did grill up those Veggie Brats yesterday, and I was planning to make a big thing of mac'n'cheese for Ben to take in lunches this week, so I unintentionally recreated a really close approximation of that meal! It was really good. The green beans would have been more authentic from a can, but you can't have it all. Right?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lovin' Spoonfuls

After crazy baking/activism (bake-tivism?) yesterday, today we are off to Tucson for a not very vegan-friendly barbeque. So we're going to Lovin' Spoonfuls beforehand to have brunch!! I love that place. It's the only all vegan restaurant this side of Phoenix, and their food is great. I especially like their mediterranean scramble and southwest burger.

As for the barbeque, we're bringing Yves Veggie Brats, the Zesty Italian ones. Easy-peasy. And who knows if we'll ever get hungry enough to cook them up? If I hadn't been so busy yesterday I would have made stuff like potato salad or pasta salad to bring today, but you can't be vegan chef to all people all the time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Free Cookies

Turns out, people will come to the vegan table for free cookies! Today was 350.org's international day of climate awareness. I got up way too early, made a LOT of cookies, and was in the park by 9 am, sitting in my vegan shirt waiting for the crowds.

Well, there weren't crowds, as such. But really, nobody expected them. It was really cool to be part of an organized event along with over 4000 other groups worldwide. (The Seattle group put together 350 zombies doing the Thriller dance and some island nations' governments held meetings underwater, because that's where they will be if nothing is done.)
The cookies went over well and a lot of older women asked, sincerely, what I use instead of butter and especially eggs. Some people took information on animal agriculture and climate change, and one person even took a Farm Sanctuary brochure!
Cookies, from left to right, are peanut butter-chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and sparkled ginger.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rite of Passage

I had my first mammogram yesterday. I definitely feel it was a rite of passage, or at least a cultural symbol that I'm approaching the summit. I see that as a positive thing. I'm ready to be that gray-haired lady who doesn't give a shit about the things that really don't matter.

To celebrate, I made myself a favorite food I knew my guys would hate. Artichoke Rotini Pasta from How It All Vegan. It's chock full of sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, and of course, artichokes. Mr. Tomato and Ben at plain rotini with olive oil and vegan parm. So there was enough left over for me to have the artichoke stuff again for both breakfast and lunch today!

My mammo was digital, so I got to see the inside of my boobs. All looks well!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mexican


Americanized Mexican food is usually dripping with cheese, but it doesn't have to be. Last night we had Tortilla Chip Soup with tostadas. The soup recipe was from Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard's How it All Vegan. Nice, simple, tasty, and bonus avocado adds some cool smoothness to it. The tostadas would have been plain janes without the Nacho Cheese Sauce from Joanne Stepaniak's Uncheese Cookbook. I added a Taco Bell mild taco sauce packet to one of my tostadas and it immediately tasted like junk food. Interestingly, that brought it up and down in my estimation at the same time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gearing Up for 350.org

Saturday I will be handing out free vegan cookies in the park. It's part of the 350.org group effort to raise awareness about what we need to do to get climate change under control, or at least mitigated. And since animal agriculture causes more greenhouse gases than transportation, this is a perfect opporunity to pimp veganism.

Making 9 dozen cookies means a lot of ingredients. So today I pulled everything out to make sure I have enough. I'm making peanut butter chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and sparkling ginger cookies. Now all I need is a newspaper roll of parchment paper, and I am good to go.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Faux Egg Salad


I wanted to try a faux egg salad using tofu, and I got my excuse from this week's PPK Cookbook Challenge: How It All Vegan. This is a hit or miss cookbook, but I think the faux egg salad is right on. It won't replace the chickpea salad that is really similar that I usually make, but I'm glad I tried it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sushi Day


Grocery day is sushi day! I've tried, and failed, to make my own sushi. There are just some things I prefer to leave to the professionals. And isn't it weird how you never feel like cooking when you get home from the grocery store? At least I don't. So, sushi for lunch is my treat for planning and shopping for food for the week. The dipping sauce is tamari, rice vinegar, mirin, and pickled ginger.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Home Again

We're back from vacation and I'm exhausted. Funny how that works. Anyway, the kitchen is bare so we have one more day of winging meals. The grocery trip tomorrow will be epic. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a picture of my new Fiesta dinnerware. I decided it was finally time to give up the mix-and-match secondhand stuff I've collected along the way for something fun and, hopefully, more photogenic!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hotel Scrounge

I couldn't bring myself to go to the eighteen-billionth salad bar of the week. Instead we stayed at the hotel and ate whatever was left in the room and available in the vending machines. It was fun. Ben thought it was heaven. Those are Tings in the bowl and berries on the plate, so it wasn't all salty corn products!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Eating in the Land of Legos

Four days into the vacation and I am ready to get home and fry some tofu. I like vegetables, really I do. But looking forward to two more trips to the salad bar today makes me want to sneak a bag of Tings into the park.

Legoland is the perfect vacation for Ben and his dad. They are serious lego nerds. We have tens of thousands of pieces, all separated by type and some even by color, in various sized bins taking up a good portion of our front room. We have a six foot table designated as "The Lego Table." They are having a ball.

But Legoland is not the place for a vegan food nut. Unlike anywhere else in the universe that I've come across, they do have a list of their vegan food options on their website. So, that's cool. But it would be cooler if any of these choices included a substantial protein. At night we've been doing Amy's frozen entrees and canned soups.

Tomorrow is another day of gas station food and Subway. Then back to the grind, but at least that grind includes tempeh!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goodbye India

Often, new vegans find an extensive new world of food opening up to them. International cuisines are much more vegetable and grain focused than American fare. Asian, African, Mexican, all of these are ripe for recipe plucking. But Indian is a shining star, with the cauliflower, cabbage, and curry, the chickpeas and warm soothing spices. Every vegan cookbook will have at least a few recipes, if not an entire chapter, dedicated to this soft, comforting food.

I have had my definite favorites, including a red lentil soup from The Vegan Family Cookbook that was just lovely. Unfortunately, the day after enjoying a pungent butternut squash soup, spiced heavily with cumin, turmeric, and curry powder, I was the victim of a wretched and retching stomach virus. Two days of curry mixed with bile in the back of my throat and now it’s all off limits. Just looking for the original recipe put my stomach in a knot. My favorite red lentil soup: gone. I feel as if an entire limb of the vegan food body has been amputated.

I still use all these spices in other types of food. It’s the combination that I literally cannot stomach. The human body is a fascinating thing, and I appreciate this safety mechanism that kept our ancestors away from poisonous plants. But damn it, I know it wasn’t the soup that was bad. It’s been over a year. Will it ever go away? And how come I still drink beer even though I threw that up dozens of times in high school and college? It just doesn’t seem fair.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gas Station Finds

We're off on an eight hour road trip to Lego Land today, and instead of focusing on the pitiful lack of vegan options for road food (Subway or Taco Bell anyone?) I thought I'd try to look at the positive: accidentally vegan junk food found at gas stations!

We all have our favorites. For Mr. Tomato it's Swedish Fish; for Ben it's Oreos; and for me right now its Corn Nuts. But there are also Mambas and Nutter Butters, regular Sun Chips, any number of different kinds of roasted and salted nuts, Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter, Sour Patch Kids, and various potato and corn chips. Oooh and chick-o-sticks. Love me some Chick-O-Sticks. So we have no problem getting our fill of crap on road trip days.

Now, for fun: Lego zombies!!!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chips & Dip

Onion Lovers' Chip Dip from Joanne Stepaniak's Vegan Vittles. Yet again tofu steps in to replace something not just not vegan but also really high in fat: sour cream. There are a few soy-based sour cream replacements on the market, but using silken tofu, lemon juice, sugar, and a few other ingredients does the job just fine without weird sounding chemicals or the dreaded trans-fats. And it works just as well as regular sour cream in dishes from stroganoff to tacos to this here dip.

There's no cheater-pants soup mix in this dip, either. It has fresh onions, tahini, and spice rack residents and that's about it. And the taste? Well, I'm glad you asked! It's oniony deliciousness. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go do something about my horrible breath.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mac n MoFo Cheese

I have a six year old who adores mac n cheese. Not nearly as much as his dad, but he likes it a lot. He was home sick yesterday (well, nominally sick), so I made this for lunch. It's the New Farm recipe as adapted by Jess of Get Sconed! here. And it is by far the best mac n cheese I've tried or probably ever will, because once I found it I stopped looking for other recipes.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Greens!

Another thing I never made before the veganity was greens. Nope. Never. Now they make their way into our meals at least every few days. Here are some recent pics of favorite ways to make greens, in no particular order except this first one was dinner last night.

Wilted Spinach and Swiss Chard with Lemon Tahini Dressing from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen.

Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance.
And another from Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen, Gumbo Z. This has mustard greens, collard greens, kale, and spinach! It's damn tasty, too.


Insert PSA about health and importance of greens in a vegan or any diet here. Eat them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Applejack & Pecans

Yesterday it finally started to cool off around here, so I rushed right in and made toasted, candied nuts and hot toddies! Too soon, probably, but they were good all the same. The drink is from a recipe in Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen for a Cinnamon-Applejack Toddy. This was my first ever bottle of Applejack brandy. Let me tell you, that stuff is not to be toyed with. I guess "strong" is what I'm trying to get to. These drinks were delightful and will definitely be part of the "warm and cozy" repetoire this winter.

The nuts are Double Maple Coated Pecans from the same book. What can be bad about candied nuts? I used them in Terry's Little Banana Maple Pecan Cornbread Muffins, which is one recipe where the title may be a bigger mouthful than the result! These were nice and tasty little nuggets.


And, just for fun, extreme close-up of candied pecans.




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Simple Things in Life

I never made my own salad dressing before I became vegan. And while there are several on the market that don't contain animal products, you would probably be surprised just how many do, even after removing all those labeled creamy or ranch from the running.

Nothing could be simpler than making your own dressing. With just a few ingredients and five minutes, you have something fresher and tastier than anything that could come from a bottle.

Today's version is Basic Vinaigrette from Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen. Mellow would be the operative word for this dressing. Here it is aside my lazy afternoon salad. And yes, those are vegan bacon bits!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Spice Jars, A Photo Essay

Before the veganity, I had some garlic salt and a jar of Italian seasoning. But when beans and rice are your template, herbs and spices make all the difference. So, my collection steadily grew until I faced the need to do something about it.
Here is a brief photo essay on my birthday gift to myself this year: 40 empty spice jars!


#1 Before. Unorganized and difficult to read labels.

#2 Ben helping cap and label new jars.
#3 My lovely spice jars all filled up and alphabetized.

#4 On the shelf, arranged by family. Readable and ready to go!


Next project will be that next shelf up.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Old Reliables

I love experimenting with new recipes, but at least a few days a week it's nice to have some standbys that you know will come together and everyone will eat. It helps if they're based on pantry staples, too. These two were dinner last night and the night before.
Lentil Soup with Barley based on Nava Atlas' recipe in The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, which is, by the way, a great crossover book for vegetarians looking to cook more vegan meals.
Another serious favorite around here, especially with Ben, is Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. These are good in lunches the next day, too, or so they tell me. Here they're served with a simple whole grain mustard sauce.
Tonight the experiments begin again!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Migas!

The joys of scrambled tofu! Usually described as a replacement for scrambled eggs, scram 'fu is fast, easy, versatile, delicious, and filling. What more could you want from your food? With crumbled tofu as your palate, just tweak the vegetables and spices and you can go anywhere in the world.
Migas is Spanish for “rags” and refers to leftover tortillas that get crumbled up in the next morning's breakfast. I used tostada shells here. It was like having corn chips for breakfast!
This version is based on the recipe in Jannequin Bennet's The Complete Vegan Kitchen, altered according to which peppers were in the garden and salsa filling in for fresh tomatoes.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Exposition on the Importance of Brunch

It's Saturday morning. Mr. Tomato is still asleep. Ben has been awake for nearly two hours and is hungry. Do I make the breakfast I had planned now, or do I get him the PB&J he's asking for and make the meal later? Why, later of course, for brunch!
Brunch is special. When I was growing up an Army brat, we would occasionally go to the Officers' Club for all-you-can-eat brunch, which for us kids meant all the chocolate milk you can stomach. I still remember my sister and I walking home with the boys who lived next door when one of them projectile vomited chocolate milk from the center line of the road all the way to the sidewalk. Ah, brunch.
Brunch is a celebration of The Day Off, of having time to laze around and cook in the morning. It's being able to make breakfast foods for real, not just oatmeal or cinnamon toast with fruit that's been cut up for days. And while breakfast for dinner is not unusual around here, having real food for breakfast is, well, special.
Here's this morning's brunch. Old Fashioned Chelsea Waffles (our favorite) from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, with Gimme Lean sausage patties, and mango-banana-orange-berry smoothies. Waffles are another thing I never made until going vegan. Turns out, in this town vegan waffles are all homemade.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Texas Caviar

This was snack this morning. Beans? In the morning? Hell yes. We are all supposed to get at least a cup of beans every day, and Texas Caviar is one of my favorite ways to do that. I used Robin Robertson's recipe from Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes and threw in an Anaheim pepper because I have around 50 in my garden right now.
I'd never heard of Texas Caviar before I went vegan. I'd also never cooked with Black Eyed Peas. Just another example of how the food world opens up when you go looking!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Prepped and Ready


It's here! The Vegan Month of Food a.k.a. Vegan MoFo. Thanks to Isa Chandra Moskowitz, October is the month when vegan bloggers from around the world write every day (or at least every weekday) to raise awareness and community by spouting off about how delicious vegan food can be.
Vegan MoFo is headed into its third year, but 2009 marks my first year participating. By October of last year I'd only been vegan for six months and didn't feel like I had my tofu legs yet. But over the last year my repertoire, cookbook collection, and kitchen gadgets have multiplied like college kids at a free meal. I love cooking and writing, so away we go!
Maybe next year I'll approach MoFo with a plan or a theme, but this year I intend to just write about all the wonderful things I've discovered since going vegan: favorite recipes, replacement foods, eating out, my kitchen, snacks, spices, feeding a six year old, being vegan in a small town, vegan on the road, and whatever else comes across my plate.
There are well over 300 vegan bloggers participating this year, and I want to thank each and every one of them, and Isa and Kittee, for making MoFo the great success I know it will be!