Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wine braised lentils

I was trying to figure out something to do with a fast-wilting bunch of kale last night, and eventually I stumbled on a recipe from Kaji's Mom that, with a few adaptations, suited my needs quite well. Thanks!

I sautéed some white onion, sliced into crescents, with some celery, carrot, and minced garlic in a pot until they started to get tender. Then I added 1 1/2 cups of red wine, about 2 1/2 cups water, about 2 tablespoons tomato paste, about 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and 3/4 to 1 cup of red lentils (her recipe called for black lentils, which I've never heard of--I'll have to go exploring!) and just let it simmer, with the lid on, over medium heat for 20-30 minutes. I had to keep adding water so that it wouldn't stick. After about 15 minutes I added the bunch of kale, chopped, and salt and black pepper to taste. I just let it cook down until the kale was wilted and tender. The original recipe she gave said to serve this over roasted potatoes, but I skipped that step this time because we had leftover mashed potatoes that we were trying to finish up. So Bob had his with the mashed potatoes, and I just had mine with a slice of whole wheat bread. There's enough left over for each of us to have one more serving (maybe this time over roasted potatoes).

I loved the flavor combinations in this recipe--it tasted very complex, but it was so easy to make. I love the way bloggers can take each other's ideas and build on them!

After dinner I concocted this shake:

I brewed about 1/2 cup of green tea, double strength, and let it chill in the rerigerator for awhile. When it was cool, I blended it with some vanilla ice cream (So Delicious), a couple of ice cubes, and five crushed gingersnaps. It was different and very tasty; if I really wanted a "shake" consistency I would have added more ice cream, but I figured there was already enough in there and settled for it being a little on the thin side. Bob and I shared it (well, he drank most of it) sitting in the bed under a wool blanket! Not exactly "shake" weather out there, but you know...

Off to Orlando today! I'm feeling much better now than I have been--I hope it lasts. See you soon, and enjoy your week!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Spinach-y soup

Ever since my new cookbook Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons came in the mail on Monday, I've been dying to use it; but I've had to be patient. Today, finally, I tried one. This is the Curried Millet-Spinach Soup (p. 64). It is classified as a winter soup, but I went with it because it looked simple and because I haven't had spinach in a long time. Here it is, towards the end of cooking, after the parsley, spinach, and lemon juice had been added:

It's a very elegant, lovely looking soup. Tomatoes, carrots, and spinach give it vibrant color, and cinnamon, ginger, and curry powder create an enticing smell as this soup simmers on the stove.

I have to tell you, I've never tasted a soup like this before in my life. The spices that smelled so powerful (disturbingly so) as it cooked were very subtle in the end. The recipe called for the juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon. I used an entire lemon, and I think next time I would probably cut back to 1/2. And I added lots and lots of salt and pepper because it seemed a little bland at first. Overall, I enjoyed this soup and would make it again, but I don't think it will become a favorite.

It was a millet day today, I guess. My throat has felt icky for some days now, so this morning I made Millet-Amaranth Porridge from Vive! to soothe it. No picture, sorry, but it looks exactly as it did when I made it before. I toasted some almonds to sprinkle on top this time, and that was a nice addition.

Maybe I'll cook again this week... maybe not though. Wednesday our fall break begins, and Bob and I are going down to Orlando, Florida with some friends to visit some people and to go to Disney World. We'll probably cook a little while we're down there, but I am not sure really. Anyway, I'll definitely post again when I return, if not sooner!

One last thing: I took this quiz, and here are the results:

You Belong in Fall

Intelligent, introspective, and quite expressive at times...
You appreciate the changes in color, climate, and mood that fall brings
Whether you're carving wacky pumpkins or taking long drives, autumn is a favorite time of year for you

Me, autumn? Who would have guessed it?

Take care, everyone! You bloggers are awesome and encouraging and you just plain rock! Thanks for all you do.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Pumpkin pie and playing in the corn

Last night I got creative (and bored) and decided to try Bryanna's pumpkin pie recipe (scroll down). I liked it because it didn't use tofu, and I wouldn't want tofu to overpower my pumpkin pie! I used her crust too. The pie got a little darker than I expected... Here's how it looked when it came out of the oven last night:

However, I took her advice and let it set in the fridge overnight. Bob couldn't resist having a piece of it for breakfast this morning:

I tasted. It's delicious--every bit as wonderful as a traditional pumpkin pie. I could probably fool people with this! Mmm, some vanilla ice cream would be incredible alongside this pie... Next time I'll try a streusel topping, I think. Anyway, this one is definitely a go for our Thanksgiving!

So what have I been eating lately? Well... I've been studying myself to death this week, so we've been relying on leftovers and things. We had tons of lentils left, and some spaghetti squash with red sauce. However, Bob made this lovely meal one evening:

Vive Le Vegan! Lemon Herb Tofu, Garlicky Kale from VWaV, and some mashed potatoes with The Grit Cookbook's nutritional yeast gravy. It was delicious and (mostly) healthy, and the best part was, I didn't have to make it!

This afternoon, Bob and I went to the annual Corn Maze over in the next county, at Washington Farms. It was a warmer day than we've had recently, but still cool and crisp and lovely. The corn was kind of dead, but it was still fun--it took nearly an hour to get through the maze, but here we are safely at the end:

One last thing... I've gotten into making jewelry lately. I don't really know what I'm doing, but it's been pretty fun so far and it doesn't seem too hard. I made my sister a necklace for her birthday, and then this morning I made an autumny necklace for myself:

Sorry about the blurry picture, but I had to turn the flash off to make it look right, and I don't have a tripod yet. But I've been having fun with my new-found beading hobby! Anyway, just wanted to show off my handiwork! Take it easy, and have a blessed weekend!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Birthday cake, squash, and more

Here is that birthday cake I made for my sister's 20th birthday. It was supposed to be a spice cake, but I omitted all the spices because she and her boyfriend have very plain tastes. :( It tasted so good and I could just imagine it with all the allspice, cinnamon, etc. Oh well, it will give me an excuse to make it again.

I found a recipe in a little pamphlet about going vegan that I found stuffed somewhere, and I modified it to pieces. I'll share with you what I did.

1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
(1 teaspoon allspice)
(1 teaspoon cinnamon)
(1/2 teaspoon ground cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup applesauce (substituted for oil)
3/4 cup vanilla soymilk
1/4 cup water

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until thoroughly blended. Bake in prepared 8-inch cake pan for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

1/4 cup soy margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons soymilk
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Melt margarine over low heat, add brown sugar and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the soymilk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar. Spread on the cooled cake.

It was delicious. I even sent some home for my parents and they enjoyed it too. It's very moist and a little on the dense side, so I think you could get away with adding less oil/applesauce.

I had so much fun with my sister over the weekend! I really miss living with her and hanging out with her--she lives four hours from me now, and we only see each other a few times a year. In fact, I realized this weekend how much I miss my whole family. I have not been down to visit my parents since last Christmas (we had a little rift and weren't speaking for a while, and now we're still not on the best of terms). Bob and I decided to spend Thanksgiving up here this year, either with his family or just by ourselves. It will be the first Thanksgiving I've spent without my family, and it makes me really sad to think about it.

Anyway... This is a delicious and comforting lentil soup that I made last night for dinner. It was cold and rainy here last night (and still is today, in fact), so it felt so nice to curl up with a hot bowl of soup and a slice of homemade crusty bread. Very simple:

Bring to a boil:
1.5 pounds of brown lentils
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
Cayenne pepper
Bblack pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Liquid smoke

Cook for about 30-40 minutes, and then take it off the heat and squeeze in a bit of lemon juice and let it sit for a few minutes. There are plenty of leftovers--I had another bowl for lunch today.

When Earth Fare's organic winter squash is on sale for 0.99 per pound for a few days only, what do you do? You buy two butternut squash, two spaghetti squash, two acorn squash, and a sugar pumpkin! And then you make spaghetti.

If you've never seen a spaghetti squash before, look at this:

Once the squash has been roasted (about 45 minutes at 375 degrees), you can take a fork and pull the flesh into these beautiful strands. It tastes really nice just plain, but tonight Bob made a beautiful red sauce to serve with it.

The stuff on top is a "parmesan" that I saw a recipe for online. It was really simple:

Process together until crumbly:
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt

It doesn't taste much like parmesan really, but it's a whole lot cheaper than any vegan parmesan crumbles you can buy and really worked on top of the spaghetti.

One last thing: So many of you have blogged about it, that I had to do it too! So I ordered my copy of Nava Atlas' new veganized cookbook! I told myself no cookbooks until Christmas, but this was too good to pass up--two books for $13.50! I ordered them last Monday, and they arrived today! This time, really--no more cookbooks until at least Christmas! I'm so excited about trying out these wonderful soup recipes, but it will have to wait until after Thursday, after my exam.

I'm going to disappear again until Friday. But I hope you all have a good week--see you soon.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Been awhile

Thanks for all your well-wishes. My tests SO FAR have gone very well, actually... I still have one beastly exam, next Thursday night, so I may become scarce next week--I'm not sure. Anyway, besides tests, I really had to take a break from "extra stuff" this week and spend some personal time. All this is to say, I'm back now and ready to blog again.

So I haven't been up to much in the kitchen, but here are a few things. I made this stuffed acorn squash last week. My intent was to try to come up with some idea for a Thanksgiving dish that we can take and share with our family. I think that with some experimenting, this could really be a winner. I served this with some black-eyed peas and some turnip greens--both just out of the freezer. I was in a hurry, I think. As for the squash, I first cut it open and cleaned the seeds out. Then I mixed together 2 diced apples, 2 diced celery ribs, 2 teaspoons of minced yellow onion, about 1/3 cup apple cider, some ground sage, and a little salt. To add a little protein, at the last minute I threw in half a pack of tempeh (about 4 ounces). Then I wanted to add some breadcrumbs, but I didn't have any so I just crumbled up about six crackers and used that. After I mixed it all together I stuffed both halves of the squash; the extra I just put in the pan around the squash. I baked it at 400 for about 35-40 minutes.

This was really tasty. The apples were pretty sweet (I used Galas, I think) so next time I would probably use a more tart variety. Also, I think it would be much better with breadcrumbs, and I would probably add a little more. And I would add a splash less cider. And maybe some wild rice would make a good addition? It would also be nice to marinate the tempeh ahead of time to give it some flavor. In any case, this was delicious. I love acorn squash--sometimes I just stuff it with applesauce and walnuts and raisins.

Speaking of applesauce, I used all those Granny Smith apples I bought up in the mountains to make some homemade applesauce. I love this stuff!

Homemade Applesauce

10-12 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4-1/3 cup demerara sugar
Plenty of cinnamon
Several dashes allspice and ground cloves
1 tablespoon margarine

Just let it all cook down in a large pot for about an hour on medium-low, with the lid on for most of the time.

This applesauce is so good hot, but I really like it cold too. The amount of spices I added was really subtle but comes through just enough, I think. This made about 6-7 cups of applesauce--not bad, but it really is amazing the way those apples cook down like that.

These are my favorite gingerbread cookies ever. I made them all the time last year, and this year I veganized them. I just found this recipe online somewhere. Here it is, with my modifications. Please note, though, that this is only half the original recipe. The original recipe makes tons and tons of cookies; even half the recipe is almost too much.

Gingerbread Cut-outs

1 stick Earth Balance, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar (darker is better)
1 1/2 teaspoon Ener-G + 1 tablespoon water (for 1 egg)
1/2 cup molasses
3 cups flour (this time I used half all purpose flour and half whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon FINELY ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
(I have been known to double the ginger and cinnamon, especially if the spices are not as fresh)

Beat Earth Balance and sugar until well-incorporated and not granular-looking. Mix Ener-G and water, and add to sugar mixture. Add molasses and mix well. In another bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together. Stir flour mixture into wet mixture. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for an hour in the refrigerator.

Roll dough 1/8 inch thick and cut into shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until crisp but not dark. Cool on pan for 1 minute, then cool on wire racks.

I usually make gingerbread men around Christmas time, but since it was earlier in the year I treated myself to these cute autumn leaf cookie cutters! These cookies are incredible dipped in coffee or hot tea. What you see in the picture is not the full batch--it's about 2/3 of the batch. So this really is a LOT of cookies! My parents came up briefly last weekend, and I sent about half the batch home with them.

I had some leftover red sauce and some green bell peppers, so I made stuffed peppers one night. I've never done this before, so I didn't really know what to put in it. I didn't really feel like waiting for brown rice to cook, so I used some tri-color orzo pasta that I had. I made about 1/2 cup of pasta, I think, and when it was cooked I mixed it with the sauce and stuffed these bell peppers. I baked them for 35-40 minutes at 350. We had leftover black-eyed peas and a salad with this and it was pretty good. I'd like to try some more fillings and see what we like the best.

Finally, I had some friends over last night to watch a movie (Labyrinth--who remembers this classic David Bowie movie?). I didn't have much time to put dinner together, but I threw together this lasagna. I just used a can of diced tomatoes and a can of crushed tomatoes, and I added some garlic and some Italian herbs. For the tofu ricotta, I used Basil-Tofu Ricotta from VWaV. I baked it at 350 for about 45 minutes, then let it stand for 10-15 minutes. It was good, but definitely not the best I've ever made. I guess I was just in a hurry--well that, and I didn't have any spinach or anything to put in it. Still, it was tasty and my friends seemed to enjoy it too.

Today, I am going to attempt a birthday cake. I haven't made a vegan cake yet--well, not like a layer cake anyway. But my sister's birthday was Wednesday, and she and her boyfriend are coming to visit this weekend. Eckk! We had a hard time agreeing on food--they eat the most typical American diet you can imagine! I think we're going to Moe's Southwest Grill tonight for dinner--there's something for everyone there. But I will let you know how my cake turns out.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No time at all...

I have not blogged in several days, and it's likely to be another several. I hope to have a little time this weekend, but other than that, I'm going to be really busy the rest of this week--test week is rearing its ugly head. And next week, I'm taking a break from blogging (and probably even cooking, for the most part) for personal reasons. So don't think I've disappeared--I just have some things to take care of.

I have done some cooking recently, and I wanted to show you all the few things I've been up to in that regard. On Sunday for brunch after church, I made the Apple Oatmeal Pancakes from Vive! along with another shot at the Tempeh Bacon from VWaV. The tempeh worked out a lot better this time--I took someone's advice and tried a different brand (I don't remember the name of the brand, but I will recognize it in the store again), and it did not crumble at all. Perfect! Again, the flavor is just so wonderful. As for the pancakes, they were quite delightful. There's no wheat flour in the recipe--it's entirely ground oats. The texture was like nothing I've ever seen before. They were a little tricky to flip, but they were really wonderful and light. The apple slices in the batter were very tasty. I think on the whole we liked the Banana Bliss Pancakes better, but this recipe is one I'll gladly make again!

On Sunday evening, I made the Roasted Red Pepper and Mushroom Soup from The Grit. It was a really simple recipe, and it made enough for both of us to eat all week! It's pretty low fat too, which is a pleasant surprise because when I had it at the restaurant it didn't look low fat at all. It's really creamy tasting, but that comes from a whole jar of puréed roasted red peppers and a little bit of soy milk. I love the color--it almost looks like butternut squash soup. Mmmm... I need to have some of that sometime soon.

On Monday we had leftovers for lunch, and for dessert I wanted to try the "shake & make" ice cream that Vicki made with her beautiful kids! I added 1/4 tsp. of peppermint extract to the mixture, and it was great--it's been a long time since I had homemade ice cream! It melted quickly--next time I'll try more ice and see if that helps.

Monday night Bob took me out on a surprise date! We went shopping downtown--I found a used copy of Coda in a used music store, thereby completing my collection of Led Zeppelin albums. Cool! Then we went to Bombay Cafe, a quite authentic Indian restaurant downtown. The vegan items on the menu are marked, and when we told our server that we were vegan, he had the store owner himself come and take our order so that he could ensure that everything was vegan! Very cool! They brought us some papad, which is a crispy lentil wafer, as an appetizer. Then I ordered the Spring Dosai, which was curry-spiced vegetables wrapped inside a lentil crepe. Bob got the dhal and roti. It was a delicious meal. We had not been to that restaurant in a long time, not since before we went vegetarian even. But now that we know the place is so friendly to vegans, AND pretty cheap, I hope we can go back more often.

That's it for me. I hope to have a little time this weekend to post and to catch up with all your blogs a little bit. After next week, life will slow down again and you'll see more of me around. Have a happy week! Peace to you all.