Saturday, September 30, 2006

Much cooking fun

I finally tried the Lemon Herb Tofu from Vive! We were looking for a quick, easy, light dinner last night, and I had a block of tofu that needed to be consumed, so it seemed a pretty obvious choice. It was so quick to make, and it was quite delicious! I loved the way the tofu soaked up all the flavors... It was probably the most flavorful tofu I've had. As it baked, I just made some frozen broccoli and re-heated some brown rice and some of the yeast gravy we made last weekend.

We went for a hike today, up near Helen, Georgia, in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Autumn is absolutely the best time for hiking because you don't get all sweaty as you ascend steep inclines, and the insects don't bother you, and the weather and the world are gorgeous. We hiked up to Raven Cliff Falls, a 5 mile round-trip hike. It was one of the shorter hikes we've been on, actually. But here are the intrepid adventurers at the top of Raven Cliff:

The view was gorgeous. Everything was gorgeous about today.

Last night I made Dreena's Totally Nutty Bars, again from Vive! as an energy-rich snack to take hiking. Modifications: I used walnuts instead of pecans, and I left out the almonds entirely since I was out. The recipe also called for cashew butter or almond butter, but I was fresh out of both so I just used some natural peanut butter. Other than that, I went just by the recipe. Result: Fabulous taste! They were really very nutty, very earthy. As far as texture, these did not hold together on the hike. In fact, the only time they would hold together is when they came straight out of the refrigerator. I packed some in a small Tupperware, and when we finally got on the trail, it had all disintegrated from bar-form to giant clump-form. Not that this was really a problem; they were fantastic and really helped keep us going. I guess I was not really surprised at this result, either, since there was really no binder in the recipe. What do you all think? Have you made these before, and what was your result?

We also took some fresh bread and peanut butter and apples, and had peanut butter-apple sandwiches for lunch. Have you ever had a peanut butter-apple sandwich? Try it sometime--yum...

Speaking of apples, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand on the way home and picked up a peck of fresh apples. I got a lot of Granny Smiths because I want to make some applesauce using them. We also got some Jonagolds, some Golden Delicious, and some other kind (I can't remember everything we got, actually). Apples... Have I mentioned how I love autumn? :)

Since we had such high-energy (= high-fat) food on the trail, I really wanted a low-energy, veggie-laden dinner. I also wanted a quick dinner. So here's what I came up with:

Some of you will remember my last attempt at Garlicky Kale from VWaV, when my garlic got all charred to a crisp. Well, tonight I gave that recipe another go, this time following Melody's advice--put the garlic and the oil in the pan together and let them heat together, the garlic infusing with the oil and making delicious flavors. Success! This recipe was awesome. As far as the sweet potatoes, I just peeled and sliced them, then marinated them in some orange juice while I heated up my Foreman grill. I grilled the rounds until they were somewhat tender, yet still firm enough to skewer with fork (about 8 minutes, I guess). When they came off, I melted just a little bit of margarine over them and sprinkled them lightly with cinnamon. Mmmm... What a delicious, flavorful, simple, healthy dinner.

Lastly, I have been impatient to try Isa's pumpkin muffins from VWaV, so I whipped them up tonight. I wanted to make them healthier, so I used whole wheat pastry flour, I cut the sugar down somewhat, and I replaced half the oil with unsweetened applesauce. After mangling the recipe, they still tasted fabulous. I'm very glad I cut down on the sugar because they are still very sweet. The pumpkin flavor is wonderful, and they are light and moist and spicy.

Oh, what a sublime day...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Banana bliss (and spaghetti)

I have to rave about the Banana Bliss Pancakes from Vive Le Vegan! (p. 19). I made them this morning, and they were really easy and so delicious! Look at this goodness:

Those banana slices smelled so good while the pancakes were cooking, and they added so much natural sweetness to the pancakes. Mmmmm... These would be really good with the Blueberry Maple Syrup; I wanted to try them plain-ish this time so I could get the full banana effect. If you like bananas, you HAVE to try these!

On a more mellow note, we made whole wheat spaghetti again the other night. We made a basic red sauce, and we added sautéed mushrooms and green peppers, and a bit of red wine. Topped it off with some tofu ricotta. Quite a simple meal (once we learned to keep canned tomatoes on hand at all times!), and one that has never failed us.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hummus tweaking and south-of-the-border

Here's what I've been up to these days:

Saturday: I wanted hummus for dinner, but instead of making it the exact same way as I did last time, I decided to play around with the recipe a little bit. Here's what I came up with:

Spicy Hummus

1 can chickpeas
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle paste
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Process until smooth and creamy.

Bob noticed the "kick" in the hummus that came from the chipotle paste; I wish it had been a little more pronounced and I may add more next time (if I can get away with it). Even so, I love the texture of this hummus--it's smooth and creamy. And maybe the best part is, since I left out the olive oil, this hummus tastes better and has a better texture after being refrigerated than hummus with olive oil in it (which seems to harden when refrigerated).

Sunday: The fellowship lunch was great! All the salsa I made was gone, except for one spoonful (which I took care of once we left). After that, we went out to the farm to see Bob's family, and we had a nice visit. We took some of Dori's bread to share, and it was a hit all around. And for dinner, Bob took me to The Grit! He had the falafel platter, which came with falafel fritters, pita points, lemon-tahini dressing, and assorted veggies. I ordered a teriyaki tofu and veggie wrap, with a cup of their roasted red pepper and mushroom soup. Everything was fantastic, as we expected. I particularly LOVED the soup--it was creamy, and the roasted red pepper flavor was not too strong (as it can be sometimes). When I came home I pulled out my cookbook--and behold, I have the recipe for the soup! Hooray! So when I make it, you will get to see pictures.

Yesterday: I came home for lunch and Bob had a friend over, and they were making guacamole. Awesome! Bloggers have been creating tacos and burritos lately, which have been making my mouth water. Well, here is our version of "burrito day":

Black beans, lettuce, mushrooms, guacamole, and salsa all piled inside a whole wheat tortilla. It was a perfect lunch! The guacamole has avocado, tomatoes, garlic, red onion, lime juice, salt, pepper, a bit of hot salsa, and a bit of silken tofu to make it creamier.

In keeping with the theme set by lunch, we made a nice black bean chili for dinner. Often I follow The Grit's recipe, which calls for bulgur. This time, I wanted to leave out the bulgur and instead add in some TVP. So we played around for a couple of hours and ended up with this recipe:

Black Bean Chili

2 pounds dried black beans, rinsed and soaked
2 smallish onions, chopped
2 smallish green bell peppers, chopped
3 jalapenos, minced
1/2 bunch of celery, diced
4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
4-5 shakes cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Simmer all this together with the lid on for about an hour. Then add:

1 can crushed tomatoes (or whole tomatoes, crushing them yourself--add the juice too)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon chipotle paste
2 cups frozen corn

Let simmer for another 30-45 minutes. Making sure there is still a good amount of liquid in the pot, stir in 2 cups TVP granules. It will get very thick; if needed, add more water. Let it cook for another 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on the liquid level. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for about an hour before serving.

It took a lot of playing around to get the spices just right, especially the heat. After 3 jalapeños and still no detectable heat, I finally just started throwing cayenne pepper in. After it all sat for an hour or so, though, the heat really began to come out. So this chili actually ended up being pretty spicy--but both of us were satisfied. And the result looks like this:

Lastly, I will just leave you all with a look at why I love fall... Yesterday morning was just amazing.

So happy fall!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sweet things and salsa

I've been cooking up carby, sweet stuff in the past few days, mostly because we've been clearing leftovers out of the fridge again for our "real" meals. So Thursday night I decided to make this gingerbread from the Post Punk Kitchen. However, I wanted to make a single pan of gingerbread rather than cupcakes, so I just baked it in an 8-inch square pan for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and it worked fine. Besides that, I made the following modifications to the recipe: I used brown rice syrup instead of maple syrup, and I reduced the amount from 1/2 to 1/3 of a cup. I used blackstrap molasses instead of light molasses. I went light on the oil, probably using closer to 1/3 of a cup. I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour. And finally, instead of making the icing in the recipe, I used some leftover icing from the Lemon Gem Cupcakes in VWaV.

This is the best gingerbread I've ever made. The chunks of crystallized ginger really added a lot of flavor, and they added a nice amount of sweetness. Overall, the gingerbread is not very sweet but the icing is, so the contrast is nice. Next time, I may just make a lemon glaze to pour on top--which I've done before with other recipes, and it's great because the glaze just seeps down into the gingerbread and makes the whole thing moist and lemony.

This reminds me--I have an awesome gingerbread cookie recipe that I want to try to make vegan soon. I was wondering, for those of you who veganize cookie recipes, what is the best replacement for butter in a cut-out cookie recipe? I would hesitate to just use Earth Balance in place of the butter, because it probably doesn't act the same way in a recipe. Any input is appreciated!

This morning I made Dreena's Fantastic French Toast from Vive! (p. 23), and the name says it all--this really was the best vegan French toast I've ever had! The custard that you dip the bread in really did get thick and it stuck to the bread like the traditional egg mixture does. I have to say, I was a little skeptical at first because the tofu did not get smooth when I blended the custard mixture, and I was afraid that the chunkiness of it would not work. But when I cooked it in the pan, it cooked just right and looked just right. And tasted just right. I made her Blueberry Maple Syrup (p. 20) to accompany the French toast, and the only thing I did differently was to add a little bit of cornstarch to the blueberries to thicken them up before I added the syrup (since I was using frozen berries, they were very watery once I cooked them down in the pan). Mmmm!

After church tomorrow we are going to have a fellowship lunch. I've been afraid of fellowship lunches ever since we became vegan, because with the type of food that usually shows up (keep in mind, I'm in the Bible belt here) I can't imagine there would be any point in even asking if anything is vegan. But we had a week's warning this time, and so tomorrow we are going prepared. It's going to be a "baked potato bar" (how funny!) and we were all asked to bring toppings for baked potatoes. What is my favorite vegan baked potato topping?

Salsa! So today I mixed up some quick black bean salsa. I think it came out pretty well, if I may say so.

Black Bean Salsa

1 can chopped green chilies, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked corn kernels
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely minced
1/4 cup red onion, finely minced
2 teaspoons granulated garlic (alternatively, 1-2 cloves minced fresh garlic)
2 teaspoons chipotle paste
Juice of 1 lime

Place everything in a bowl and stir to combine. Chill for several hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.

It's a good medium salsa--didn't want to go too hot if I was going to be sharing it with a bunch of people. It's very juicy and delicious, and I can't wait to take it tomorrow! What do you all like to put on baked potatoes?

Don't worry, I have been eating balanced meals lately, despite the evidence to the contrary that you've seen on my blog. Yesterday I went to the dining hall on campus where hubby works and had lunch with him--all kinds of nice vegetables, some beans and brown rice and guacamole, all made it to my plate, and a little spoonful of VEGAN sweet potato soufflé as a sweet ending!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

When a vegan can't sleep...

When a vegan wakes up before sunrise, and there's no hope of going back to sleep, what does a vegan do? Well, this vegan makes a nice, steamy pot of Millet-Amaranth Porridge from Vive! It cooked up very nicely, and I went just by the recipe with the exception of using nutmeg in place of cardamom (Can I find cardamom anywhere? Nooo....). This is it before I added another splash of soymilk and a little bit of sugar to sweeten it:
So comforting and delicious for a cool, dark morning...

Thanks for all your feedback about my headaches. I think that was the reason I've had trouble sleeping. Anyway, after reading over your comments and doing a bit of research on the 'net, I've decided that I probably did have a migraine after all. I read that they can be caused by changes in the weather... So though I've never had one before, maybe that's all it is. I may go to the doctor to see if I have a sinus infection, just because I don't want it to flare up too bad if I do, but I don't think that's what it is. A couple of you mentioned acupuncture... Though that sounds a bit scary, I don't think I would be opposed to trying it sometime. But here, I don't know if it's even an option. I bet I would have to go to Atlanta--a 2 hour drive that I really can't afford right now, especially with midterms around the corner.

I've been trying to link more and more people, but it seems like I come across new blogs every day!

Have a good second half of your week, everybody. You all inspire me!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New recipes and headaches

On Sunday evening Bob and I decided to try a new bread recipe--Dori's favorite, in fact. I had never worked with a poolish before, and I must say I was a bit turned off by it when I went to use it--it looked kinda gross. But this recipe was so fun to make, and all kinds of good stuff went into the dough! And it made two beautiful loaves--I have posted my favorite here. The taste is wonderful and hearty, and I love the hardness of the crust with the tender inside. If you like homemade bread, give this one a try!

Tonight we had a guest over for dinner, and I decided to try out a recipe on him that I'd never tested before. It came from The Grit cookbook, and it's Sweet and Sour Tofu with Vegetables. The sweet and sour sauce was fun to make and quite easy, although it called for a lot of ingredients. It ended up being very tangy and not extremely sweet--which is a good thing for me. I don't like sickly-sweet sauces. It had just enough sweetness to it, in fact. The tofu and veggies were just stir-fried in a small bit of oil and tossed with soy sauce. I used green bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and some frozen green peas. We mixed it all together and served it over brown rice. Delicious! Our guest enjoyed it too, and even got seconds. Hoorah!

Here's my last comment for tonight--I've been having absolutely monstrous headaches lately, and I've no idea why. I had one last night and I could barely walk or even move. They're definitely not migraines or anything like that, but just splitting headaches. Usually it hurts on the sides of my head near my temples, and sometimes I will feel my temples or other localized areas of my head just throb. It hurts to be in a lit room or out in the sun when they come on. I also feel some pressure in my face sometimes too. This is my only symptom--otherwise I'm perfectly healthy. Any ideas out there about what may be going on? I hate relying on pain medicine, but it does help for a while when they come on. I'm reluctant to go to the doctor until I give it a little while and try to find out if I can make them stop naturally. Thanks, friends! Take care and be safe!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

One of those days

I had one of those not-great-cooking days today... I thought everything was going to turn out all wrong, and it really frustrated me. The end result was, everything turned out different than I wanted... But none of it turned out wrong--exactly.

I have wanted to try making my own granola for a while now but have never been sure about it. But Kate had a great looking, simple granola recipe on her blog that looked perfect to try out. I mixed it up last night, using brown rice syrup instead of maple syrup, and let it sit in a sealed container in the fridge overnight. This morning I baked it before church, at 350 degrees. Kate had said to bake it for about 7 minutes, but mine was nowhere near done after that. I baked it for about 10 minutes, and then let it sit and cool while I was at church.

After church I wanted to make a nice lunch. But first, I put the granola back in the oven at around 275, because it still wasn't dried out. I took it out finally when I smelled the almonds beginning to get overdone. I thought it was ruined! But I let it cool, and this time it was finally dry and granola-like... and it still tasted just fine. Delicious, actually. Phew! Thanks for the recipe, Kate! Next time I'll try a lower temperature and cook it for longer--the settings in the recipe just didn't work for my oven.

As for lunch, I had been wanting to try the Garlicky Kale from VWaV (p. 120), and I had also wanted to make this nutritional yeast gravy from The Grit. So I decided to do kale, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Seemed simple enough.

The garlicky part of the kale didn't work out. The recipe said to sauté the garlic over medium-high heat, but when I put the garlic in the pan it burned to a crisp instantly. I took it off the heat, and after letting it cool for a moment I stirred the kale in. The result was garlic-less kale because I had to go through the kale and pick out all the little charred pieces of garlic. Hmm...

On to the gravy: The recipe said the margarine and flour and nutritional yeast would form a roux. Instead, it formed clumps that looked like moist breadcrumbs. This was disheartening, but I continued with the recipe. In the end, the gravy came together just fine--perfect, in fact. It was SO TASTY! It had been a long time since I had mashed potatoes and gravy!

End result: Everything was fine. The kale was just great, sans garlic. It was lovely stirred into the mashed potatoes and topped with the gravy. Interesting day in the kitchen, but I really can't complain this time. Nothing was ruined and everything was fine. But it was certainly unnerving!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Banana bundles and calzones

These are Banana Oat Bundles from Vive. I've been saving up bananas for a week so I could make them! They were so easy to make, and so delicious--soft and moist, like little muffins. The sweetness was just perfect. One thing I love about Dreena's recipes so far is that they're not deathly sweet, but just sweet enough to be tasty. The bananas add some natural sweetness on their own, and the spices come out really well in these. They will definitely be a staple "cookie" recipe around here!

And here we have a calzone! Melissa blogged about calzones a couple of days ago, and I've had them on my mind ever since. We had some pizza dough that we had risen, punched down, and frozen a week or so ago. So we unthawed it, kneaded it for just a couple of minutes, and let it sit for about 45 minutes before we worked with it. The dough worked really well for us that way, and we had skeptical about freezing dough but now we know it can be done with great results!

We filled the calzone with some leftover marinara sauce, some tofu ricotta that I whipped up tonight, and some green peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, black olives, and yellow onion. Crimped the edges, scoured the top, and baked it 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Bob brushed the top lightly with some olive oil when it came out. It was delicious, dipped in some extra marinara sauce. The filling was a little watery, so next time I will press the tofu (I didn't have time tonight), and maybe cook the mushrooms down so that they release some of their juice. Here's a picture with all that goodness spilling out:

I did make the Black Bean Stew from VWaV, and I didn't take a picture because it came out just the same as before--tasty! I love it with blue corn chips. Tomorrow may have to be a study day, but maybe breakfast...? Peace!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Catching up

I've missed cooking and blogging and reading all of YOUR wonderful blogs for the past couple of days, but you know, sometimes school just has to come first. Fortunately, that will only be true for this semester and next, and then--well, I guess work will replace school. That's life, I guess.

Anyway, as you may guess, there is not much to blog today. I did want to show off this loaf of bread we baked, following a recipe we use often. This is the best looking loaf of bread we've turned out in a while, and I was really excited when I saw how nicely it rose and shaped while it baked. We LOVE baking bread, and so our progress is a big deal to us! :)

Tuesday night Bob wanted to make some cookies to share with the folks in a Bible study he leads every Tuesday evening. I had to work super late on Tuesday and didn't get to participate in the baking--but he did save me a cookie to sample. He really wanted to try the recipe again from Vegan Vittles that we made several weeks ago and that turned out looking kind of funky. I told him to use whole wheat pastry flour this time and that would probably improve the texture. It made a big difference from using regular whole wheat flour (obviously). I am not crazy about this recipe, but Bob really loves it. Next time we want chocolate chip cookies, I'm going to insist on Dreena's recipe that I've heard so much about! But here are the cookies he made, which did work out better than before.

Last thing I have to share right now. I woke up early yesterday morning so I wanted to try the Creamy Raspberry Oatmeal (p. 22) from Vive Le Vegan! I make oatmeal often, but I have never used the technique that this recipe calls for (simmering with the lid on for about 15 minutes). The result was very tasty--it really did make the oatmeal creamier than the way I usually cook it. I also used the nutmeg and allspice exactly as the recipe directed, although I have to say I was skeptical when I saw that there was no cinnamon! I love cinnamon... Anyway, I was glad I didn't add cinnamon because the flavors were subtle enough to sing back-up very well without overwhelming the raspberry flavor. I drizzled a bit more maple syrup over mine, and Bob preferred to sprinkle on some brown sugar and a little more soy milk. I love oatmeal, but Bob can be really picky about it sometimes. He seemed to really enjoy this, though. This recipe would be very tasty with blackberries too...

I have plans to make another batch of VWaV Chipotle, Corn, and Black Bean Stew later tonight. But Bob and I are going out for some sushi when he is done at work! I'm so excited! I have some ideas for the weekend, but we'll just see. I'll definitely have to spend some time catching up on all of your blogs this evening. See you soon!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Quick blogging

I don't have much time tonight, but I wanted to share the goings-on of yesterday. First of all, we made a huge dent in our leftovers. But I wanted to try the Cannellini Bean Yam Hummus from Vive! (p. 60), because I'd seen it recently on some other blogs. So voilà! Bob and I thought it was quite tasty, and very unlike anything we've ever had before. Next time I make this, I will probably use more chipotle sauce to give it a bit more kick, and I will use lime juice (this time I used lemon). Oh, and I will try not to burn the pine nuts--those are the dark flecks you see in there. But this dish is lovely and sweet and mild, and was great on cucumbers!

We took our hummus and some leftover TVP salad yesterday evening, along with some toasted homemade bread, and went on a nice picnic. I can hardly stand to stay inside, now that the air is cooling down and it feels like fall is really here! Being outside is relaxing, and picnics are always fun!

Last night we really wanted to try some of Dreena's cookies, since they seem to be very renowned in the vegan blogging community. So we made a batch of her Double Chocolate Almond Explosion Cookies (p. 126). How shall I say... Delicious! We used whole wheat pastry flour in place of the white flour, but otherwise followed the recipe to the letter. The almonds sprinkled on top were beautiful and so tasty, and these were just so moist and chocolatey right out of the oven. We made 12 cookies, and they turned out HUGE! Well, huge to me, since I usually make cookies about the size of ginger snaps. But they're already almost gone... I gave one to a friend of mine who has some skepticism about veganism, and she thought they were tasty too. Yay!

Thanks for all your suggestions about the black bean patties. I'm going to try them again soon, probably using some quick oats to bind them. You may not hear from me for a couple of days--this is the busiest week of the semester thus far for me, so all these leftovers are really a blessing right now. But I'll be back soon! Peace.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Cooking up new things...

This afternoon I wanted to try making homemade, soy-free black bean "burgers" (hereafter called patties). So after looking at a couple of recipes, most notably Kate's recipe at Vegan Ventures, I came up with these patties.


1/4 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
Cumin, cayenne pepper, onion powder (I didn't measure, but I used a lot)
1 cup cooked black beans
Several dashes liquid smoke

Chop the bell pepper and set aside. Process the garlic, sunflower seeds, and spices until crumbly. Mash the black beans with the liquid smoke, adding a little water if necessary. Mix everything together with your hands and form into 4 patties. Grill for 5-7 minutes on your George Foreman grill.

These patties were very tasty, served up on a whole wheat bun with Dijon mustard, onion, and lettuce. The problem was, they were very crumbly and fragile, especially in transit from the grill to the bun. I don't know much about what might hold something like this together, other than eggs (which are obviously out) and perhaps tofu (which I was trying to avoid). I'll have to play around with this a bit to get it right; any suggestions?

When I checked my mail today, there was something very nice waiting for me there! I was so excited! I've already flipped through it several times, trying to decide what all I wanted to try and make right away. Bob and I decided to make the Sunflower- Lentil Pie (p. 103) tonight for dinner. We served it with the Sesame Mustard Tahini Sauce (p. 56), per Dreena's recommendation in the recipe. It was delicious! I really enjoyed the earthy flavor of the pie along with the tangyness of the sauce. Very filling, served alongside steamed broccoli and a tossed salad. We quite enjoyed our nice, romantic dinner.
We have so many leftovers that it's really quite ridiculous. But I'm looking forward to cooking up a little something tomorrow... We'll see!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Curry experiment

Bob and I have church on Wednesday nights, so we can't always have something that takes a lot of effort to make. So I decided to experiment and come up with a new meal that I could make on such nights. I never made curry before, but I knew it was supposed to be pretty simple. So I read a couple of recipes for some general inspiration, and I came up with this easy vegetable curry.

Hodge-Podge Curry

1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 cup eggplant, diced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 can chickpeas
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 tablespoon Indian spice (I used The Grit's blend)
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Handful chopped cilantro

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute more. The onion should be getting slightly brown. Add the eggplant, broccoli, chickpeas, tomatoes, and spices. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook, with the lid on, for 15-20 minutes, until all the flavors are well blended. Remove from heat, stir in the chopped cilantro and let sit, lid on, 5-10 minutes before serving.

I didn't feel like making rice, and we had a freshly baked loaf of bread we were dying to try, so I served this up with whole wheat bread. I will definitely make this again! Very good. The only thing I would change next time is, I would go easy on the cayenne pepper. Anyone who's eaten authentic Indian food knows that it can be scorching hot. This curry was as spicy as any I've had in an Indian restaurant! I don't mind it, but Bob prefers to still have tastebuds left after he finishes a meal. Other than that, we both quite enjoyed it... And it made enough for about 4 servings.

Other than that, I've been making a lot of old staples and we've been clearing out leftovers. Our sloppy lentils came out quite fantastic this time. Our bread came out well. Good things have been stirring!

I'll probably be back Friday or Saturday, and I hope I have something interesting to share by then!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Laboring in the kitchen

Labor Day meant that I didn't have to go to class or to my office today, but it didn't mean I took a break in the kitchen. In fact, I've been very busy...

Bob and I used to love to go to IHOP and split an order of the harvest grain and nut pancakes. Yummy! I have always figured I could make something similar myself at home but never tried. This morning I felt daring, so I veganized and otherwise modified an old favorite pancake recipe to come up with this hearty, wonderful breakfast.

Nut and Grain Pancakes (Stand back, IHOP!)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup coarsely ground oat flour
1/4 cup white flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup plain soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon flax seeds + 3 tablespoons water (for 1 egg)
2 tablespoons (scant) oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Water, as needed
Handful of chopped almonds, sunflower seeds, etc.

Combine the soy milk and vinegar and set aside to sour (in place of buttermilk). Combine the first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Grind the flax seeds finely and place in the bottom of a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of water and whisk together until thick and egg-like. Add the milk, oil, and vanilla and mix well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together, being careful not to overmix (lumps are okay). Gently fold in the almonds. Let the batter sit for 5 minutes before you cook the pancakes, on a lightly greased medium-hot griddle. This recipe makes enough for Bob and I to each have two nice-sized pancakes. It was a delicious breakfast!

For lunch: The sushi that I never made yesterday. While I worked on the sushi, Bob made a simple edamame salad.Simple, Spicy Edamame Salad

1 cup steamed edamame
1 sliced red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
Pinch coarse sea salt

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut oil

It was wonderful--I loved it because it didn't hide the wonderful flavor of the edamame. The peanut oil really made it special.

As for the sushi, it was not the most cosmetically pleasing sushi I've made, but Bob said he thinks it may have been the tastiest. I made three rolls: One was a simple cucumber and avocado roll. One was cucumber and sliced cremini mushrooms, which I had marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice, and agave nectar. The last was scallion and sweet potato, boiled and mashed with lime juice, ginger, chili powder, and ground white pepper. The rice this time came out dry and it was harder to work with. Also, I sliced each roll into eight pieces this time instead of six, and realized that all that sushi would not fit comfortably on my serving tray! That's why the plate of sushi looks a little out of whack. But it was good...

Tonight is probably a tossed salad night. I'm not very hungry. But I'll probably make some TVP mock chicken salad so I can have it for lunch tomorrow. And tomorrow night I promised Bob sloppy lentils for dinner. So I'll see you soon with more kitchen concoctions...

I hope everyone had a safe weekend! Cheers!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Our own Olive Garden

I had planned to make sushi tonight, but had a craving for spaghetti sometime today. So Bob and I got in the kitchen together, and prepared a wonderful Italian meal all from ingredients we had on hand!

On the menu: Whole wheat spaghetti with The Grit's red sauce, topped with a tofu ricotta inspired by VWaV, and a green salad with lettuce, cukes, and green olives. All told, it took under 45 minutes to prepare. And it was a delicious, elegant meal! We used to love the Olive Garden, but after a meal there I would feel so heavy that I wasn't worth anything afterward--but this meal was light and healthy, and still quite satisfying! And we had a blast cooking it together. Here's a closer shot of the spaghetti:

Other than that, here's what I've been making (which was not much yesterday, because we went a-visiting).

I made this for Bob yesterday morning, and it came out pretty well.

Pumpkin Smoothie

1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup chilled canned pumpkin purée
2 small spoonfuls brown sugar (maple syrup would have been good too)
1 6-ounce container vanilla soy yogurt
Splash vanilla extract
Pumpkin pie spice to taste

Blend all up and top with a dollop of Soyatoo! whipped cream.

It was really quite tasty. Next time I would use a different yogurt brand--Silk soy yogurt tastes kind of sour to me. It helped that the pumpkin was chilled--I've made pumpkin smoothies before that were warmish because the purée was not cold.

Plantains sautéed in brown sugar and vegan margarine. This was inspired by Teddy's post a couple of weeks ago about making plantains. We'd never had plantains before, but we decided to try it. We liked it alright, but it wasn't a favorite. Do any of you have experience with plantains? What do you do with them?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ahhh, September

September 1 is one of my favorite days of the whole year, because it means the end of the "summer" months and the beginning of the "autumn" months... and there are few things that I love more in the world than I love autumn. Never mind that it's still 85 degrees on a "cool" day here in Athens, Georgia. Never mind that I still pour sweat after walking 3/4 of a mile to class. September brings a promise of better things!

The reason for all the sentimental mush-mush: To celebrate September 1, I decided to bake pumpkin cookies! And better still, I decided to try concocting my own recipe. So I whipped these up in no time, and while the recipe could still use some tweaking to make it perfect, Bob and I were pretty darn happy with these!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Scant 3/4 cup demerara sugar
2 tbs. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin purée (I used canned)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Equivalent of 2 eggs (I used Ener-G)
2 teaspoons molasses
Walnuts, raisins, or dried cranberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all the dry ingredients (through the spices) in a medium-sized bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a separate small bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and fold together until well combined, adding in the walnuts or fruit, if using. Place by small spoonfuls onto a prepared baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.

These didn't spread out when they baked, which was fine with me. Also, they're not extremely sweet--they remind me of little pumpkin oatmeal breakfast bites or something (hence the name).

I'm crazy about pumpkin, so with fall fast approaching, you will probably start seeing more and more pumpkin recipes on here!