Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bloggin' in the rain

Blogger is running slow right now, and we're in the middle of a pretty torrential downpour, so I hope this goes through...

Chipotle, Corn, and Black Bean Stew from VWaV! What I did differently was 1) use dried black beans instead of canned, and 2) use a ton more beans than the recipe called for. I soaked about 2 cups of black beans overnight, then just proceeded with the recipe, letting the beans simmer all the while. Oh, and I added more chipotle because we wanted to have it very spicy! But this was absolutely delicious! Bob and I both agreed that it was one of the best things we've had in a while. The fresh cilantro and the lime that was stirred in at the end--so much flavor! We had blue corn chips with the stew, and I think the recipe made enough for us to each have about four more times.

Also from VWaV, or at least inspired by it, was this frittata that I made this morning. I based the recipe on the Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata, except that I didn't have any sun-dried tomatoes so this was really just an asparagus frittata. It tasted very good--Bob and I both like the Tofu Scramble better, I think, but we enjoyed this as well. Honestly, when we cut the frittata and tried to serve it, it crumbled and fell apart so that, dished up, it was indistinguishable from the Tofu Scramble. That's too bad, but I was wondering how in the world it was going to hold its form. Anyway, it was very satisfying and looked, at least in the pan, very much like a traditional frittata!

Melody tagged me to participate in the food bloggers' meme, asking me to "create a list of food bloggers' top picks for things you've eaten and think that everyone should eat at least once before they die." I've thought a lot about this one, and here are my simple picks:

1. Freshly ground, natural almond butter.

2. Homemade whole wheat bread. Even better, homemade bread that you have actually kneaded yourself. It's worth all the time and work you spend kneading it and shaping it into the perfect loaf, when you cut into it and it smells and tastes like *real* bread should taste.

3. Edamame. Steamed until it is slightly crisp but tender. Sprinkled with just a dash of coarse sea salt.

4. Cheese-less vegan pizza. Authentic Italian pizza often would not have any cheese on it anyway. And all the flavors of the vegetables, the sauce, the pesto, whatever, really come out on a nice healthy pizza that's not drowned in cheese like the pizza most Americans are familiar with.

5. Cajun food--red beans and rice, especially. To me, it is hard to beat good cajun flavors. Red beans and rice is easily veganized without sacrificing a bit of the bold flavor. Just use plenty of onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and seasonings.

Hmm, I'm trying to think of who I can tag who has not already been tagged! How about...

Midwest Vegan
Pure Zucchini
Jennifer C.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I never win anything...

It is totally cool that I won Dreena's Vive Le Vegan! giveaway! It really made my day! I've been absolutely itching to get that cookbook, but have been keeping a closer eye on my wallet lately. Yay! Thanks, Dreena!

In other news, today was a busy, busy day, so no cooking... But, I'm putting black beans on to soak, with plans to make Chipotle, Corn, and Black Bean Stew from VWaV (inspired by Leslie, and the fact that I looove black beans and haven't had them in just too long...). Photos and feedback tomorrow!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tempeh and hummus

I finally got the nerve to try the tempeh, so I made Tempeh Bacon from VWaV last night. Here is an open-faced TLT to prove it. We looooved the marinade. The tempeh really does beat tofu, at least in the way of a bacon substitute. But I had a really hard time working with the tempeh--it was really crumbly when I tried to slice it. Does anyone else have that problem?

I'll try tempeh again soon, but I think in my quest for frugality tofu will prove to be a more suitable item. We did really enjoy this sammich, though!

Tonight I made hummus for the first time in a while. I get bored with hummus sometimes, because it never seems to vary that much. Anyway, tonight I made just a basic hummus:

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
5 cloves garlic
3 scallions
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. tahini
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. olive oil

Just process everything together in the food processor until creamy.

Hummus is a quick, easy meal, and delightfully refreshing with tons of fresh veggies! Bob and I like to top our hummus with toasted pine nuts, too. This was probably the best hummus I've ever made. And there's plenty left over!

That's all, folks!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Deviant tART

A tart as French as the Eiffel Tower.

Most people who know me know that I LOVE the French language, French culture... and French cuisine. There is nothing in the world like French bread and French pastries (in fact, one of my dreams is to live in Paris and own a vegan patisserie). So for Urban Vegan's deviant tART contest, I decided to revisit my French cookbook for some inspiration. This simple tart was the result. The flavor of the nectarines really comes through wonderfully, just accented with a hint of sugar and nutmeg.

Simple Nectarine Tarts

1/2 pound vegan pastry dough--frozen, or homemade (recipe below)
2 large nectarines
Melted vegan margarine, for brushing (about 1 tbsp)
2 tbsp demerara sugar, processed until very fine
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Roll out the pastry dough into a large rectangle (about 10x15 inches) and cut into 6 rectangles. Transfer to a baking sheet. With the back end of a knife, scallop the edges of each rectangle. Then use the knife to score about 1/2 inch from the edges, to make a border. Let the dough chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the nectarines in half and then slice them thinly. Process the sugar; add nutmeg to taste, and combine. Preheat the oven to 400 (this is an estimate). Working within the borders of each rectangle, layer the nectarines so that the entire center of the dough is covered. Brush the tops of each pastry with melted margarine, then sprinkle the sugar-nutmeg mixture over the tops. Bake about 15 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned and the nectarines look tender.

If you want to make your own dough, here's the recipe that I used (I was afraid I wouldn't find vegan pastry dough). I adapted this from a Martha Stewart recipe I found online.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegan margarine, cold and cut into small chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 1/2 cup ice water, mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix the flour and salt. Cut the margarine into the flour until crumbly. Slowly add the ice water, combining with your hands just until it comes together. Working on a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Fold into thirds (like a pamphlet) and roll out again. Fold into thirds the opposite way. Do this process twice more; then wrap the dough and chill for an hour. After one hour, do the process one more time (roll out, fold into thirds, roll out, fold into thirds the opposite way). Chill until ready to use. If at any time the dough begins to get soft and warm, chill it for a few minutes to allow it to firm up again. The cooler the dough is, the easier it will be to work with.

Bob and I enjoyed eating these! I have been inspired to attempt to veganize all my French favorites. Hmm... vegan crème brulée? I don't really know about that. Oh well...

Alton + Isa = perfection

I love Alton Brown's Good Eats. His cooking show is so... practical. He talks about the chemistry of cooking and different foods, he is honest about which kitchen gadgets are truly necessary and which are just superfluous, AND he's from Atlanta-ish! I saw an episode once when he made waffles, which excited me because I'd never found that perfect waffle recipe. This morning I decided to try his waffles, using vegan substitutions. First of all, I cut the recipe in half because Bob and I don't eat enormous quantities of waffles at once! Then for the buttermilk, I used 1 cup of soy milk with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar; I let it sit while I assembled the rest of the recipe and when I was ready for it, it smelled and tasted just like buttermilk! I was amazed. For the eggs, I used Ener-G egg replacer (the good thing about egg replacers is that you can cut a recipe in half easily without having to use "half" an egg), and in place of the melted butter I just used soybean oil (I usually do that anyway in place of melted butter).

As the waffles were cooking, I flipped open VWaV and found her recipe for Lemon Corn Waffles with Blueberry Sauce (p. 39). I made the sauce, again halving the recipe.

The result, with a small dollop of Soyatoo! whipped cream, was waffle delight:

Bob exclaimed that this was the best waffle he's ever had. A winner! Next time I'll make the full batch, and freeze what we don't eat so that we can have toaster waffles on a hurried morning.

Recently Urban Vegan posted about making seitan and, more importantly, using the broth to reconstitute TVP for a mock chicken salad. I'll try to tackle seitan someday, but I was intrigued by the TVP. So I bought some for the first time at Earth Fare yesterday (two cups cost $0.70!) and reconstituted it with a can of veggie broth. As it cooled I added scallions--the white and green parts--and bell pepper, and some rubbed thyme, and some freshly ground pepper (I like the Pepper Medley that McCormick makes), and finally just a bit of Vegenaise (also my first time buying it). Bob and I had it for lunch on a bed of fresh spinach. We couldn't believe how good it was! I wasn't expecting it to be that flavorful and satisfying--and sooo inexpensive.

Last night it was time to make some more bread. I used the recipe from The Grit this time, except I played with the ratio of all-purpose to whole wheat flour so that I was incorporating more of the whole wheat. It made the dough a little tougher to knead, I think, but the result was worth it because the loaf was slightly denser--heartier and healthier. This is actually one of the nicest-looking loaves we've made in a while. I usually get so careless when shaping the loaf, but this time I took care to try to make it smooth and nice.

Thank you for all your comments and for just visiting! You all make me smile! Peace to you all, until next time...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Frustrations, music, miracles... and dal

Yesterday was absolutely a day like none other. A friend of mine and I had planned to go to a concert downtown, so after dinner as I was getting ready to leave, I realized that my cell phone had finally kicked the bucket. It's not responding to anything I do--makes no calls, receives no calls... And since we don't have a land line, my cell phone is my contact to the world. So hopefully today we will go to Atlanta (ugh) and not only get new phones, but get new service. We have really needed to switch providers, and my phone giving up on me seems like a pretty clear signal that now is the time.

So I carried Bob's phone on me last night. My friend picked me up. We went to see Vienna Teng, whose music is so unique that I don't know how to describe it. She's been compared to Jewel but I didn't think she was much like Jewel--her music was sort of blues-ish and folksy and alternative at the same time. It really was beautiful. We had a great time. Neither of us had anything to drink at all. Thank goodness.

On the way home from the concert around 11:30, we were driving along downtown and we approached a dark intersection. My poor friend didn't even see the stop sign, so we plowed right through it. We smashed right into the side of an enormous pick-up truck. Something exploded under my friend's hood, and the engine was smoking as we tried to back out of the intersection. Thank God, no one in either car was hurt. It could have been so bad... I'd never been in a wreck before so it was kind of surreal to me. I was trying to call Bob to come pick us up, but then remembered that I had his phone and mine wasn't working. So I couldn't get in touch with him. I ended up calling one of our neighbors at 11:30 at night and asking him to go knock on our apartment door so that I could talk to Bob. Thankfully, our neighbor is the kind of guy who would bend over backward for his friends. So almost an hour after the incident, the police allowed us to leave, and Bob was right there. My poor friend... She felt so bad, but you know, everyone makes mistakes. And in my opinion, this one was not serious because everyone walked away just fine.

Anyway, last night since I was going to the concert I decided not to try and deal with the tempeh (excuses?), so I made this dal instead, which was inspired by a recipe from The Grit Cookbook.

The recipe called for split peas, but I used brown lentils as that is what was in my pantry. They didn't make the soup look very beautiful, but they tasted fine. Basically, I just used a pound of brown lentils, a medium onion, two cloves of garlic, salt, 1/2 tablespoon of curry powder, and a good tablespoon or so of Indian spice (which I mixed up following The Grit's blend). I let it simmer for almost an hour, stirring constantly so that the lentils would not stick and burn, splashing in more water when it got super thick. At the end, I puréed about 2/3 of the dal in the blender, and I left the rest whole because I didn't want it to look like baby food.

The curry dressing, which I drizzled on top, was also a Grit recipe. The only change I made there was, instead of using 3/4 cups of oil (yikes!), I used 1/4 cup oil and replaced the rest with a mixture of 1 tsp. cornstarch to 1/2 water, which I cooked on the stove until it got thick. The dressing tastes really good--spicy and tangy. And there's PLENTY left over. So this, with a simple salad of spinach and cucumbers and more curry dressing, was our simple yet tasty dinner.

Today? Who knows. We may be really busy. I definitely want to get in the kitchen sometime. But we'll have to see.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Much to blog...

Well, not really that much to blog. It's been several days, but they've been busy days. We finally finished up the lentil soup, and it's the weekend, so I'll be moving on to better things.

But here's what we've been eating lately. This is a Lemon Gem Cupcake from VWaV (p. 228), inspired by my best friend's 22nd birthday, which was Wednesday. I would highly recommend these cupcakes to anyone who likes lemon-flavored treats! I reduced the sugar in the cupcake somewhat(I used raw sugar and it worked great), and it was still very sweet. The only difficulty I had with these was the icing--it never got very firm, and so these treats have had to stay in the fridge up until the very moment when it was time to eat it. But they're so good! Somehow I've managed to stay out of them, and give most of them away...

On Wednesday we whipped up another pizza. We had some leftover basil-tofu ricotta and pizza sauce that we wanted to use up. Bob said he thought this was the best pizza we've made; I might agree with him. We put a layer of spinach between the sauce and the ricotta, and we topped it with eggplant, bell pepper, and jalapeño (I won't tell you about the jalapeño incident we had...ouch). There's also a bit of pesto on there, but we went light.

Here's another picture of the pizza, to illustrate what we thought of it. This one was Bob's idea.

This morning I made baked oatmeal from Fat Free Vegan, substituting applesauce for the shredded apple, and using frozen blueberries instead of fresh. It's definitely a wonderful breakfast, served with hot tea.

Last time I made my banana cream dessert, I finally decided to take a picture. So here it is in the mini food processor, looking all swirly and cool:

Banana "Ice Cream"

1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
1-2 tablespoons soy milk
Splash vanilla
Dash cinnamon
Agave nectar, if desired
Anything else you might want

And here it is all dished up:

Tonight, dinner was sort of an afterthought. I overbooked myself on meetings and such for this evening, so when I saw Bob about to make some queso with Dragonfly's Bulk Uncheese Mix from, I decided we should make dinner out of it. So we mixed it on the stove with some salsa and a can of vegan refried beans and some Louisiana hot sauce, and we had instant bean dip.
We used to like this kind of meal from time to time when we were vegetarian, but haven't had anything like it since cheese left our diet. It was quick and not entirely healthy, but not entirely unhealthy either. I really like it with Guiltless Gourmet blue corn chips. I did have a salad as well...

Thanks for all your tempeh comments. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who hasn't taken the leap yet! But I am going to do something with it tomorrow. What? Well, I haven't figured that out yet...

Monday, August 21, 2006


So here's the red lentil soup I made last night. Though we ended up going to Moe's Southwest Grill for dinner on a whim (because I love that place!), I decided to make the soup anyway so that we could have it for lunch this week. But I have to make a confession--I cheated.

Bob's aunt gave us this soup mix, which has been sitting in my pantry for awhile now. So I decided to use it up. It had the red lentils and the bulgur wheat already packaged, and it contained a spice packet that included red peppers, cayenne pepper, orange zest, and "other spices"--of which I identified ginger and cinnamon. I added vegetable broth, orange juice, an onion, and a butternut squash. Don't ask why I had a butternut squash on hand in the dead of summer--I'm not sure myself. Probably a gift from someone with squash-phobia. Anyway, our verdict on this soup: It's okay. It's definitely interesting. Maybe a little too sweet and orangey. I think I could reproduce this recipe if I wanted to, but I would probably make some serious modifications. More cayenne, less orange juice, more lentils, less bulgur. The butternut squash was my favorite part--this might have potential to be a nice autumn soup.

We made a loaf of bread last night. This is Oatmeal Wheat Bread, a recipe from Fatfree Vegan. It's a favorite. This loaf rose a little funny, though--it got really tall but didn't spread out much in the pan. It probably had something to do with the way we shaped it. I think Bob said he would leave the loaf-shaping to me from now on. Heehee. I'll let him stick to his pizza crusts.

Okay, well as the title of this post suggests, I have more than one confession to make. Here's the other: I'm a tempeh virgin. I've never tasted it, much less cooked it. But I've heard and read many good things about it, so I was at Earth Fare and finally decided to give it a try. My first fear is conquered--purchasing tempeh. But now it's sitting threateningly in my refrigerator, and I don't know what to do with it! I don't know how to cook it or if it's finicky like tofu is. I know nothing about it. So... any basic suggestions would be very much appreciated, before I crack open VWaV and try a recipe!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Two new additions

I know I said I was going to try not to clutter up my pantry anymore, but Bob was on Leslie's blog and found a recipe for these raw cookie balls she made from oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almond butter, etc. He was dying to try them, but we had to stock our pantry with a couple of essentials first. So we walked over to Earth Fare, and we came home the proud owners of two products that are probably a part of many a vegan's well-stocked pantry.

The barley malt syrup, we discovered, is a lot like molasses but not nearly as thick. The brown rice syrup is so good--similar to maple syrup but not as maple-y. Next time I make the pumpkin bread I will try using it as a maple syrup substitute instead of the molasses.

Anyway, we made the cookies that Leslie showcased. They're sooo delicious--and frozen instead of baked so they're pretty unique too. They're full of good stuff. I'm going to have to watch how many of these I eat, but Bob will probably go through them so fast that that won't be a problem.

Yesterday I made the Scrambled Tofu from VWaV again, except this time I customized the spices. I cut the cumin in half, and instead of the thyme (which got stuck in my teeth last time) I used oregano. I also added several good dashes of cayenne pepper. I was out of mushrooms so I left those out, but I added bell pepper again as well as a jalapeño. At the end, I added several large spoonfuls of medium salsa. So this time there was quite a bit more heat in the dish than when I made it before. I served this for brunch (around noon) inside of a whole wheat tortilla, and we had scrambled tofu tacos. Yum! Along with it I made some very strange green beans from The Grit--weird for brunch, I know. But I had them on hand and wanted to use them up. They were very horseradish-mustard flavored, but even the tiny amound of maple syrup the recipe called for was too much for me. Next time I'll either leave it out or use something else (brown rice syrup?).

Finally, dinner. We weren't very hungry, so I thought I would just make something light that would use up some of the stuff I have in the fridge and the pantry. I have about ten different varieties of pasta, and pasta is something we don't often eat. So I boiled up some rigatoni noodles (I got these before I made the switch to whole wheat pasta). In the fridge I had two portabella mushroom caps, part of an eggplant, some red onion, and some white bean pesto that we needed to use up. I sautéed the onion in some water, then added the portabella and eggplant along with some soy sauce, garlic powder, and black pepper. I deglazed the pan with some white wine, and then I just let the veggies cook until all the liquid had cooked out. Served them on top of the pasta with some snipped scallions and a dollop of the pesto on top. Here it is--not beautiful or complex but tasty enough, and now I am free of some of the food that's been sitting around waiting to be used.

Today--church. And then leftovers for lunch. And then probably red lentil soup for dinner. And it's about time to bake some more bread. It should be an exciting day!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Back home

Oy... Being at the lake all day today was quite an experience. It was great--well, mostly--but exhausting. I was sooo hungry when I got home tonight. But this is what was in the works when I arrived:

Bob made pizza! Again! And it was really good. This time he did use the Vegan With a Vengeance recipes (p. 128 and on) as inspiration. There's some basil-tofu ricotta under there, and some classic pesto. He even made homemade sauce! Yay Bob! We kind of went crazy with the toppings--we've been trying to use up that eggplant, and the peppers from our aunt's garden, so that's what you see here. But we and our guests (yes, we had guests over again tonight) really enjoyed the pizza. I was very thankful not to have to worry about what to eat when I got home!

Before I left yesterday I made this pudding, simply because I was having a craving for chocolate. I found the recipe on Fatfree Vegan Kitchen, and it was really simple. Just a box of silken tofu, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla (but I actually used amaretto instead), blended together and then chilled. Topped with a bit of Soyatoo! whipped topping, it was a lovely dessert.

Yesterday Harmonia posted about the "Pantry Challenge"--trying to eat up what's in the pantry before going out for groceries. I don't know if I'll be able to stay away from the store entirely, but it's a good thought, and one I'm going to take to heart. My pantry looks like a train wrecked in it right now, so this weekend I'm going to make a conscious effort to build my meals around what I've got stashed in there. There's no use letting food sit there while I fret about what to make... It's wasteful and impractical, and I'm going to really try to only buy food as I need it. I could show you my pantry now, but I'm honestly too embarrassed to take a picture of it to share... So when I get it cleaned out a bit, then I'll take a picture and you can take my word then that it looks sights better!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Scrambled Tofu

This is the Scrambled Tofu from Vegan With a Vengeance (p. 12). Verdict: It was so good! I left out the carrot and I added some bell pepper, and I sautéed in water rather than oil. Besides chopping the vegetables, this was no fuss at all to make. I drained the tofu last night so I would not have to worry about it this morning.

When I make this again (soon!), I will play with the spices. I thought the cumin was a bit too strong, and the dish could have used more heat. I topped mine with cayenne pepper as an afterthought, but next time I will cook it in.

We had this with whole wheat sourdough toast spread with cream "cheese" and blackberry preserves. By the way, the cream "cheese" recipe is really good, although I had to eat it a few times before it grew on me. I guess it just didn't taste the way I expected. But I will definitely make it again and keep it on hand.

Last night I made sloppy lentils again, with more kale this time. Lunch today will be leftover sloppy lentils with sourdough bread. After class gets out this afternoon I'm driving up to a lake outing with the accounting firm I'll be working with next year. Tennis, waterskiing, swimming... I'm excited. And I already let them know I'm vegan these days, so I'm really hoping that I'll be able to eat without much trouble.

My schedule for the semester is filling up fast, but that's okay. I'll still find time to do the things I love!

Well, I guess I'm taking off until the weekend. Have a good day! Peace.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

PS: Pizza

I forgot that Bob had a pizza party tonight to go to. When he got home from work, we made him his own pizza to take to the party--and while he was in a hurry to run out the door with half of it as soon as it came out of the oven, he left me the other half to photograph!

See how good he is at crimping the crust? Heehee. Next time we'll probably try the basil-tofu ricotta from Vegan With a Vengeance, but tonight was a good night for a quick favorite.

Okay, that's it!


So I know I promised a picture of Sunday's lunch. But my friend got here late and we were in a big hurry to cook and eat so that we could leave on time, and I completely forgot to take a picture! Sorry. Next time--and this meal is so easy that there will be a next time soon, I'm sure. But let me tell you about it.

The Golden Bowl is just a bowl of brown rice, topped with twice-cooked tofu and steamed veggies. Just add a little soy sauce and you have a simple, delicious meal. The tofu method is, as yet, the best way I've found to cook tofu on the stovetop. After draining the moisture out of the block of tofu (I usually use firm tofu, but extra firm seems to be fine too), I just cut it into little cubes. Over medium-high heat I sauté the tofu in just a TINY amount of hot oil (make sure the oil is hot before adding the tofu) until it is evenly browned, to a nice golden color. Then I add a little soy sauce and toss the tofu until all the soy sauce is cooked out of the pan and the tofu looks evenly coated. Then remove the tofu from the pan and let the excess oil drain out in a plate covered with a clean towel. Clean the pan.

Put the pan back over medium-high heat and add just a TINY bit more oil. When hot, add the tofu again and toss constantly, until it starts to get really firm and crispy-looking. Add a bit more soy sauce and coat the tofu, just like before. At the very end of cooking, sprinkle a couple of spoonfuls of nutritional yeast over the tofu and toss until the tofu seems evenly "breaded." Now it's done--I usually put it back on the towel for a minute as I assemble the bowls, so that any excess oil can soak out of the tofu.

Fresh veggies work great for this meal; however, in the interest of time I pulled a bag of stir-fry veggies out of the freezer and just cooked those for a few minutes, until heated through. At The Grit, they drizzle a bit of melted margarine over the rice before adding the tofu and veggies. I do this sometimes, depending on the occasion. Since we had my friend here, I went ahead and used the margarine so that the dish would be as delicious as possible.

The verdict: It was a success! She said she only likes tofu that's cooked well (hey, most people can identify, right?), and this seemed to fit the bill. And I taught her how to make it! Yay! So maybe she'll be vegetarian permanently!

Vegan eating on a low budget Wesley Foundation retreat = difficult but manageable. The Wesley Foundation, which is also where Bob works, has been very understanding of our needs. Thank goodness for powdered soy milk and peanut butter!

Tonight, Doc Chey's Noodle House. I don't really like noodles, but one of my best friends is 22 today and she loves the place. I looked up the menu online, and they seem to be willing to bend over backward for special diets. Several entrées are marked "vegetarian," and my guess is that most are probably vegan too. So it should be fine. After that, she wants us all to go to Coldstone with her. As far as I know, there is one sorbet there which is marked as dairy-free. So I guess that's a possibility.

Tomorrow, school starts. Blah. This means more busyness, less cooking, less blogging. But that's okay. For the last week or so, I have been living in my dream world where all I have to do in the world is cook and go for walks and read and write and do Pilates and have people over. It can't be like that forever, right? But even if daily cooking/blogging is not possible, it will be frequent at least. Gotta stay healthy--steer away from convenience food that becomes so easy when you're working and going to school.

So I hope to be back soon!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Baking miscellany

My aunt gave me two cups of zucchini purée a couple of weeks ago from a gigantic homegrown zucchini, and I wanted to use it up before it went bad. So I pulled out the same pumpkin bread recipe that I made last week, substituting zucchini instead. I used molasses again, and this time I added more applesauce (replacing the oil) than the recipe called for, hoping that it would make the bread a bit moister. It did! Bob and I both agreed that this loaf came out better than the last. This time I froze two-thirds of it, because apparently we can't even eat half a loaf quickly enough before it goes bad.

Also Bob surprised me and came home early today! Yay! And I have been complaining lately because he never seems to want to cook with me anymore, and that's something I have always enjoyed doing together with him. But when he got home he said a couple of his friends were coming over--let's make some cookies. Yay! So we flipped through Vegan With a Vengeance and settled on the Big Gigantoid Crunchy Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies (p. 199)... except we made them normal sized.

These cookies were soooo sweet, I actually didn't eat any (well, I took a bite out of hubby's cookie). But Bob and our guests loved them. Making normal-sized cookies, the recipe produced about 50--whew! Luckily we're going on a retreat tonight and we can share. If I make this recipe again I may cut the sugar in half, and I will definitely use the natural peanut butter instead of conventional peanut butter (which is all we had on hand this time). These were a bit too much for me, but tasty nonetheless.

Our Panera Bread store here in Athens donates its bread at the end of the day to a ministry which in turn distributes the bread to the homeless, to hospitals, etc. It makes me feel good to know that there is good food out there not going to waste but instead being used for a good purpose. One of my friends works with that ministry, and she came over on Friday and brought me a small sackful of leftover bread. I immediately looked up Panera online and found the ingredients. The bagels she brought are vegan--and delicious! Bob and I had one for breakfast yesterday, spread with cream "cheese" and strawberry preserves. The focaccia bread she brought, however, was not vegan, as it was topped with Asiago cheese. So we had to pass it up. Bob seemed particularly interested in the focaccia bread, and I felt bad for him.

So last night, I pulled out a focaccia bread recipe and we made our own! The recipe makes 3 loaves, so we topped one with fresh vegetables and had a little focaccia pizza for dinner. The veggies you see are eggplant, tomato (straight from my aunt's garden!), banana peppers (ditto), mushrooms, and broccoli. I mixed thyme and rosemary into the dough. It was so soft and fresh and delicious. Bob dipped his in olive oil, which was quite tasty as well. We served it with a simple salad and were quite pleased.

The other two loaves I just baked, then brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with spices. One I froze, and the other I left out so that we could take it on our retreat today.

These look ten times better than the bread my friend offered us from Panera, and it was so rewarding to bake it ourselves!

Today, a friend is coming over for lunch. She called me yesterday and revealed that she is giving vegetarianism a try! She's giving herself three months before she decides if it's for her or not. So, to show her how good tofu can be, I am making the Grit's classic twice-cooked tofu that they serve in their wonderful Golden Bowl--my favorite menu item. Right after lunch we're leaving for that retreat, but on Monday evening I promise a picture of these homemade Golden Bowls.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Not-quite-pesto sandwich

That eggplant that's been lying around on my counter for several days now--I finally sliced it up and grilled it and made sandwiches for lunch today. I grilled the eggplant and some red onion, and then I assembled the sandwiches and grilled the whole thing like a panini.

Several days ago SusanV made a white bean pesto that she used to top pasta. I thought this would be yummy on my sandwiches, so I made up a batch. I hesitate to call this "pesto," since it really is more of a hummus consistency. But the yummy part is accurate! It has so much flavor, and it really made the sandwich kick!

So, between two slices of the bread that I made a couple of days ago (and which is almost gone), I layered a thick slathering of the pesto, grilled eggplant slices, grilled red onion, and tomato slices. A few minutes in the George Foreman, which I brushed with some olive oil, and lunch was served! Along with it, just a small salad with cucumber and mango. We finally finished of our abundance of mango this afternoon!

For dinner tonight: leftovers. Yes, there are plenty. Likely lunch and dinner tomorrow will be leftovers as well, especially since the hubby is working all day long. :( But I'll probably do something fun tomorrow in my kitchen--breakfast maybe? More bread? We'll just see...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My favorite...

Sushi is one of my favorite things ever. I haven't gotten great at making it yet, but I've made several attempts. Tonight I decided to take on a new challenge: Rice-on-the-outside sushi. As you can see from the photo, I still need some practice. But it got easier with each roll, and by the third one I felt like I was really getting the hang of it.

The two rolls on each side in the picture are cucumber, mango, and toasted almond rolls. These were Bob's favorite. The contrast of different textures in the roll was very interesting, and the toasted almond really packed a lot of flavor. Success!

The roll in the middle is sweet potato, boiled and mashed with chili powder, lime juice, and fresh minced ginger, along with some sliced cucumber for a crunch. I loved the flavor of the sweet potato in these rolls, but agreed with Bob that something else crunchy, perhaps some carrots or mung bean sprouts, would have made this roll a bit nicer. There is plenty of leftover sweet potato mash, so perhaps I'll give this one another shot.

We had some steamed edamame, our favorite appetizer, along with the sushi. I love it crisp, and sprinkled with just a dash of coarse sea salt.

Last night there was no cooking--Bob took me on a date to The Grit! It was so fun to be there! Their special last night was Moroccan stuffed butternut squash with chickpea-tomato curry sauce, and it was incredible. I'll have to try to reproduce it at home some time. Bob got the Mid-E platter, served with hummus, falafel, and tabbouli salad. We came home quite stuffed, and quite pleased.

I've been contemplating this eggplant that's been sitting on my counter for several days now. Perhaps an eggplant dish soon...
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006


So, apparently Blogger is sucking. I know my pictures originally appeared in my first post, but somehow over the past few hours they disappeared again! Oh well, they're back now, and this time to stay (I hope...).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Taco salad, lasagna, yummy (hopefully) bread

I made the same taco salad for lunch today that I made a week or so ago--but this time I took a picture. And, I added fresh tomato this time because I had some available. It was so good! I know the salsa covers up most everything else in the picture, but there is taco-seasoned tofu under there as well as black beans! It was quick and simple and quite satisfying.

I had a block of tofu sitting in my fridge that needed to be eaten up soon, so I was thinking of what to do with it. I was flipping through Vegan With a Vengeance (yes, I broke down and bought it--yay!) and I saw her recipe for "Basil-Tofu Ricotta" (p. 133). I didn't have any basil on hand and was determined not to make a special trip to the store for it (I'm so bad about that!!), but I did have a bag of frozen spinach. I remembered that SusanV had a recipe for spinach-mushroom lasagna that looked very much like my favorite lasagna before I went veg*n. So I decided to give lasagna a whirl.

I took SusanV's recipe as a guideline, but I customized it to what I had on hand. I didn't use the mushrooms and I increased the amount of spinach. I played with the spices/seasonings and came out with something very much like my old lasagna recipe (except I used whole wheat noodles this time--a great choice, I must say!). I baked it according to the recipe directions. This is the meal we ended up with:

Bob and I were delighted. When I was younger, and didn't worry about fat and calories and all that good stuff, lasagna was my absolute favorite meal. It was wonderful to learn that as vegans, we can still have lasagna and love it and feel great about it! Served with a side salad, this was a most exquisite meal.

After dinner we walked to Earth Fare to pick up a few things. I love being able to walk to the grocery store, and take my own canvas bag! I guess I'm old-fashioned.

Speaking of old-fashioned, we ran out of bread so it was time to make some more. I was reading My Vegan Creations the other day and ran across a bread recipe that looked amazing, so I decided to give it a try. Since we only have one loaf pan we halved the recipe. I topped it with toasted sesame seeds and flax seeds. It's still steaming hot, so we won't get to try it until tomorrow. But I think it looks delicious. I can't wait to cut into it! I don't know if it's just super humid around here (that's probably a very valid explanation), but I had to add tons of flour to make the dough smooth enough to handle. I started with 3 cups, but the dough was sticky as putty until I had added about another cup and a half.

Just a note: I don't usually use my oven this much in the summertime. I know it's inefficient, but I've been deprived of a real kitchen for so long that I've just had to play around these past several days! I know that when school starts next week, that will keep me busy enough that I will only get to cook a real meal a couple of times a week. So I figured, enjoy it while I can.

The lentils aroused a lot of curiosity last night, but no jealousy. Oh well. We did get to talk about veganism a bit. But most importantly, we had fun just being with everyone that Bob will be working with, and diet did not have to sneak in and hinder us at all. That is very important to me. I want to be able to live with my vegan commmitment without people thinking I'm crazy. And it is really a thing that sets you apart from everyone around you, and draws attention to you. But I continue to strive and pray that Bob and I do everything and treat everyone with grace and love and humility.

I'm taking Bob's aunt a slice of my lasagna for lunch tomorrow. I hope she enjoys it!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lovely lunch spread and more

Bob has intern training this week at the Wesley Foundation, where he will be interning this year. This is the lunch spread that was awaiting him when he got home at noon:

It was the grilled portabella caps again, along with a salad of romaine and red leaf lettuce, mung bean sprouts, cucumber, and mango tossed in a sesame-ginger dressing, and some sweet potato "fries," which were actually roasted in a 425-degree oven. I tossed the sweet potatoes in a bowl with olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and sea salt, and then roasted them for about 15 minutes on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Here is a close-up:

For dessert we had the banana ice cream-like stuff that I have taken to calling just "banana cream." I've made different variations, including adding some cocoa powder for a chocolate dessert, but our favorite way to eat it is still with the vanilla extract and cinnamon (and maybe some nutmeg).

Last night I attempted these chocolate chip cookies from my new cookbook. They tasted good (Bob said they were the best chocolate chip cookies he's ever had), but something didn't work out right chemically. I'm going to quote from the recipe here: "Do not flatten the cookies as they will spread out when they bake." Yet, curiously, when they were done baking they looked exactly as they did when I put them in the oven. They didn't spread or expand or anything. Weird; I followed the recipe to the letter. The dough was much thicker than I expected, which made me suspicious, but I rolled with it because the recipe warned that the dough would be thick and stiff. Any ideas on how I can avoid this result next time? (Though, actually, I think Bob preferred them this way. He seemed bowled over by these strange confections...)

Oh, on the cream cheese I made: It came out fine, but not great. It firmed up to nearly the consistency of real cream cheese, overnight in the refrigerator. The recipe used almonds blended with water, and lemon juice, nutritional yeast, corn starch, etc. all cooked together. I'm sure we'll eat it, but I don't know if it's worth making again.

Tonight: Bob has a lock-in as a part of his intern training, and spouses are invited. We're going to assume that the meal will not be vegan-friendly, and take leftover sloppy lentils with whole wheat bread from last night. Maybe we'll make some people jealous! :)
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Sunday, August 06, 2006

A weekend of cooking

I'm finally back at my apartment in good old Athens, with my well-stocked kitchen. Yesterday I didn't get to blog--in fact, I really didn't even get to cook much--because a wicked thunderstorm blew through around dinnertime. The power went out for a while, and even once it came back on I didn't want to try to cook anything for fear that it might go out again. So yesterday for dinner I had a hummus sandwich on fresh whole wheat sourdough that I purchased from the farmer's market in Atlanta before I came back that morning. I just found some prepared hummus in the fridge, and I threw on some cucumber slices and a tomato slice and some mung bean sprouts. I never had mung bean sprouts before, but they were so yummy--juicy and kind of sweet.

Lunch yesterday was a little more fun. Also at the farmer's market that morning I had bought some portabella mushroom caps, and I decided to grill myself a portabella steak for lunch. I marinated it in Worcestershire sauce (veg, of course), a little liquid smoke, and some salt and pepper and garlic powder. Then I popped it on the old George Foreman and in five minutes had a grilled mushroom. I had a nice salad with it and it was a very lovely lunch. No picture--my camera was still packed up and I was too hungry to rummage around for it. But I'm going to duplicate the meal one night this week, when my husband can partake with me, and I'll share a photo then.

This morning I made French toast, but it didn't come out as well as it usually does. A little too dry, I think. I don't know why; I make French toast often and usually don't have a problem with it. Oh well, sometimes recipes flop for inexplicable reasons. Anyway, I used:
Nutritional yeast
Whole wheat sourdough bread

It still came out well enough, and I served it with sliced bananas, maple syrup, and some Soyatoo! whipped soy topping. And I can't complain!

I had a girlfriend over this afternoon, and I planned to cook lunch for us. Never decided what I would make. But we spent so much time just chatting and catching up that we completely missed lunch time, and she had to leave. But I'm going to have her over again one night this week and really cook something--I'm thinking sushi, maybe... Anyway, I just had a plain salad for lunch, and then some crackers with crunchy peanut butter.

I made some pumpkin bread from my new vegan cookbook (called Vegan Vittles), with just a couple of modifications. The recipe called for maple syrup but I replaced it with blackstrap molasses because I don't really like the flavor of maple syrup except on pancakes, French toast, etc. As a result the loaf came out pretty dark and not very beautiful. It still tastes great though. It really is like a bread--most pumpkin "bread" recipes are really pumpkin cake, but this is drier and denser, just what I was hoping for.

For dinner I made an adaptation of Leslie's sloppy lentils (which was an adaptation of JenniferShmoo's recipe!).
Here's a picture of it cooking in my lovely big soup pot! I left out the carrot because I didn't have one, and I added Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. I used a whole lot less cayenne pepper than I usually use when making legumes, and it had just enough spice to make it interesting enough for me but the heat didn't overwhelm the dish. I loved the kale! I just shredded mine instead of mincing it so I had some pretty big kale leaves simmering around in there, but it was so yummy! I'm hooked on kale now--maybe I'll cook it every day. I served the sloppy lentils with a slice of mine and Bob's favorite bread (from The Grit).

Oh, and I made a new friend when I was chopping the kale--there was a ladybug hanging out among the leaves. I tried to take a picture but apparently he was camera shy. Anyway, he's been chilling in my fridge ever since yesterday morning, the poor guy. I took him out and put him on the lawn, and I'm sure the August evening heat is thawing him out quite nicely.

Thanks for all your cookbook suggestions! I got the one I did because it is short and has some very basic recipes in it that I can do a lot with. I'm going to make some almond cream "cheese" to put on the pumpkin bread. I'll let you know how it comes out! The cookbook also has a lot of good information about cruelty in the egg and dairy industries. It's hard to read and hard to talk about, but I would recommend Vegan Vittles for the intro alone to anyone who is considering becoming vegan but just not sure (like I was) that these industries are really as cruel as the meat industry. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Not much kitchen activity

Boy, it has been a long day... My brain is toast right now. I couldn't sleep last night so I felt sick and exhausted at work, and I ended up working on a project that turned out to be about six times harder than we expected. I worked late, and still didn't finish--it will be on my desk in the morning when I arrive, staring at me!

Looks like I won't be cooking anymore until the weekend. Tonight Bob and I have a double date with some friends from Knoxville, and this will be our last chance to go out with them for a while. Tomorrow night the firm is having a social, and we'll be eating dinner at the Mellow Mushroom (a pizza place--we'll see what ensues there... pizza places should have salads, right???). And Friday night Bob and I are hanging out with our good friend who is moving to Mexico this weekend! So I'm going to be on the go for the next several evenings. Too bad--I really enjoy writing about my cooking fun! But there will be lots to write about this weekend, as I celebrate being back in my own kitchen to stay!

In the meantime, I wanted to show you my favorite cookbook for right now--actually, the only vegetarian cookbook I own! Athens, Georgia is home of my favorite restaurant ever, The Grit. Unlike in some vegetarian restaurants, this one actually has quite a lot of vegan or easily veganizable options. The cookbook also has many vegan recipes--all my favorites are vegan, such as the Black Bean Chili (man, this is making me want some right now!). If you're ever around Athens, this is really a place to check out.

There are so many cookbooks I would love to buy right now, but I'm going to have to build my collection slowly. Vegan With a Vengeance seems to be pretty popular, so I was thinking of starting out with that. What are your favorite veg*n cookbooks?

Of course, I'm so excited about Vegan Lunch Box that I'll probably buy it the first chance I have!

So I may not be around for a couple of days, but I plan on cooking many good things soon! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I needed a quick, light dinner tonight--got stuck in traffic on the way home and didn't feel like standing around in the kitchen half the night. So I remembered that red lentils cook up super quick. From start to finish this took me less than half an hour (no, I'm not a fan of Rachael Ray).

1/4 Vidalia onion, chopped
A heavy pinch of garlic powder (or a clove or two of fresh garlic, which would have been my preference)
1 cup red lentils
Water, to cover
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Kosher salt
Cayenne pepper (I used several good dashes)

Just sauté the onion with some garlic powder in a little bit of water, until tender and fragrant. Add the lentils and enough water to cover, then add spices/seasonings to taste. Let boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Watch the water level, and adjust the flavors as necessary. This was not too spicy--just tingled the throat going down--and the ginger made it seem almost sweet even though it wasn't. My Indian spice mix is at home, which I would use for dal, but this had a similar flavor and was very satisfying nonetheless.

For dessert, I blended a frozen banana with a splash of soymilk and some cinnamon and nutmeg, for a very cool, ice cream-reminiscent treat. Sometime in the past month or so, I got this idea from someone else's blog, though for the life of me I cannot remember where. But I'm very grateful for it--it's so easy, and it satisfies my frozen dessert craving just like ice cream always has. So if this banana dessert was your creation, please step into the limelight--I want to give credit where it's deserved!

Update: So here's the source of my banana dessert, straight from! I should have guessed that I got it from there!Posted by Picasa