Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An exercise in tempeh, and five things

I have not done many different, interesting things with tempeh in my vegan cooking days, and a recent goal of mine has been to get more "creative" with tempeh because it's a delicious, versatile food. Of course, the tempeh bacon and the sausage crumbles from VWaV are excellent, but I wanted to do something different.

Hence this dish. I read this post from Eat Air, and I thought the combination of tempeh, sweet potatoes, and kale sounded perfect. But instead of doing an Asian flair, I opted for Tex-Mex (though the peanut sauce variation from the original post sounds quite tasty), and I marinated my cubed tempeh (an 8-ounce block) in:

Lime juice
Olive oil
Chili powder
Chipotle paste

I didn't measure anything, but I tasted it until it seemed about right. It ended up marinating for about 24 hours, but that was a complete accident. I meant to marinate it about 2 hours and cook it yesterday, but after I put it all together Bob called and said he wouldn't be able to come home for lunch. So I saved it for today.

Tex-Mex Tempeh Skillet

8 ounces tempeh cubes, marinated as above
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
Splash of water
Several handfuls kale, roughly chopped
1/2 yellow onion, slivered
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Hot sauce

Into the pan the tempeh cubes went, along with the sweet potatoes and a splash of water and the rest of the marinade. I let that steam with a lid on for about 15 minutes, then added the kale and let it steam a bit longer. In the meantime, I sautéed the garlic and onion; once the kale was tender I threw the onions and garlic in and stirred everything around. I tasted and decided it needed some more kick, so I added a few dashes of hot sauce and a bit more cumin. Then I put the lid back on, turned the heat way down, and let it all come together for a few more minutes. It was served on top of quinoa.

Verdict: Great flavor combination, and I think the tempeh really benefited from having the extra marinating time--it was flavorful all the way through. Next time I would mix up more marinade, so that it could have a chance to marry with the sweet potatoes and kale just a little bit more; I would probably also add the kale a little earlier. But really, I was happy with it just the way it came out. The sweet potatoes were a perfect answer to the tangy, spicy tempeh, and the kale was neutral and nice. Quinoa was the perfect accompaniment. So then, so far I am enjoying my tempeh adventures.

Made some more French bread--actually we made several loaves and froze some. The loaves came out much cuter this time.

I got tagged a while back on Eat Air to create my list of five interesting things you never knew about me. I've enjoyed reading what all of you have said, so I'll try to think of something good to share with you.

1) I met Bob in a play here at UGA. Our freshman year, there was a call for participation in a 24-hour competitive play competition. We met on a Friday night and were put into groups; then we were given a theme, and each group had to write and rehearse a play along that theme to be performed 24 hours later. Bob was there, as a drama major at the time, and I was there for no good reason at all. Needless to say, the play was absolutely horrible and ridiculous, but we stayed up all night getting to know each other and it was quite fun. Incidentally, my acting performance won an honorable mention--for what it's worth.

2) When I was in middle school and high school, I was labeled the "smart kid," and I hated it. I always wanted to be the pretty girl or the cool girl, but I wasn't--I was pretty much a nerd. I always felt pressure to excel at every academic venture that I made, and I was stressed out for most of my life. When I came to college, I didn't tell anyone for a long time about any of my previous academic achievements because I didn't want that label again. Now, finally, I am comfortable with who I am--a little nerdy but pretty cool. And my friends love me for who I am and don't expect me to perform in a certain way.

3) I've always been interested in a million different things, but the only thing that has stuck with me throughout my life is writing. Whatever I do with my life and however I impact this earth, I feel certain that it is going to be through creative writing in some way. I enjoy writing about the natural world and, in particular, about minimizing our impact on it.

4) I was fortunate enough to take a semester-long class from my favorite modern author, Philip Lee Williams. I remember hearing him give a lecture about his writing and his career several years ago, and it inspired me so much that I vowed that day to take a class from him before I left UGA. Two years later, my opportunity came, and I took a nature writing class from him last spring. It's by far the best class I've ever taken, and that is where I learned my passion for writing about the earth and being a "voice for the voiceless," so to speak. That was the last semester that he would ever teach a class, and so I know that I was destined to take that class for many reasons exactly when I did. I've read several of his books, and I think they're beautiful--descriptive and introspective and challenging, and pertinent to me because he writes about the landscapes that I'm familiar with, the north Georgia piedmont.

5) When people find out that I am a Christian and they ask me what denomination I am, I always say that I have no denomination. The truth is, I have been influenced by a lot of denominations--Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Catholic, etc. I have never been a part of a denomination that I felt 100% in line with, but I don't think that's a very important distinction to make anyway. I think we should focus more on unity and on embracing our differences and learning from each other. That also applies to my view of social interactions as a whole--I love variety and diversity. Anyway, the church Bob and I attend now is part of the Vineyard movement, and we love it there.

Very, very interesting, eh? I don't know who has not yet been tagged, so if you haven't been tagged, I tag YOU!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Green tea delight!

Finally, I got a chance to make the cupcakes I've been eyeing since I first got VCTOTW: Green tea cupcakes. Actually, my closest girl friend came over and we made these together--a double batch. I had so many people to share these with, I didn't want to take a chance on not making enough. Aren't they cute? We made marzipan hearts to go on top, and as I looked at them I realized that they would have fit in nicely on Valentine's day. Oh well.

The frosting is such a pretty green from the matcha green tea powder... and this means that the green tea flavor is there too. On Friday night a couple of my friends and I went out for sushi, and afterwards we came back to my apartment for cupcakes. What better way to end a sushi meal than with a green tea dessert?

These cupcakes are the best so far, and I daresay they will be hard to compete with. The ingredients are a bit on the pricey side, though, so these will have to be reserved for special occasions from now on. But try them, if you get a chance--you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oh yes... black bean chili

Okay, this is one of my favorite recipes EVER. Black bean chili from The Grit Cookbook. One of the recipes The Grit is the most famous for is its black bean chili... You ask yourself, how hard can it be to make good chili? But then you have The Grit's black bean chili, and from then on every chili you taste is "good, but not like The Grit's." At least that is how it was for me... Maybe I'm overdoing it a little. But seriously, Bob and I both get very excited when there are plans to make a big pot of this chili, and we stay excited until we eat the last bite.

It's got lots of onion, bell pepper, celery, carrots, corn, and crushed tomatoes, and plenty of good chili spices. The only modification I have ever made is to use quinoa in place of the bulgur wheat that the recipe calls for. This makes it lighter and smoother and easier on the tummy, I think. I like to eat a bowl of it....

Bob likes the occasional chili cheese dog, using Vegan Gourmet monterey jack and Yves veggie dogs, and some dijon mustard. Oh yes, and the recipe makes an enormous pot--we froze three large bags of chili and had enough left to each eat several times before it's gone. Chili makes me happy.

I do have a recipe to share with you... I had some leftover brown and wild rice that I wanted to use up, so I made this Mexican chocolate rice pudding. So named because I used the killer chocolate and cinnamon combination. Toast a little coconut to sprinkle on top, and it's quite delicious.

Mexican Chocolate Rice Pudding

1 1/2 cups leftover rice (brown and wild rice for me)
1 1/2 cups soy milk (I ran out of vanilla soy milk so I added some extra vanilla extract to compensate)
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup demerara sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt

Combine everything in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until it thickens and the rice is soft. Serve warm with toasted coconut flakes.

Have a lovely day! Are you seeing any signs of spring yet? Today it felt like spring here... oh joy!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Feliz Navidad

Do you think it's weird that my friends sang me "Feliz Navidad" on my birthday? Yeah, I guess it does sound weird. But it was really special to me.

Let me start from the beginning. Bob planned a surprise birthday party for me, and I never suspected a thing. One of my friends had to work in the afternoon and wouldn't be able to make it to my party, but she asked me if we could have breakfast together. I love cooking breakfast, so I was very excited to have her. I made these basic waffles courtesy of Alton Brown, using Ener-G for the eggs, soy milk + vinegar for the buttermilk, and oil for the melted butter. They're delicious, basic waffles that we have made before, and this time there was enough to freeze some leftovers. Also, since it was my birthday I decided to get fancy with the topping. I found this recipe for apple ginger syrup. It was very special. I know it doesn't look terribly special from the picture, but if you ever try the syrup you'll know what I mean.

Then, around lunchtime, Bob told me I had to leave so he could make me a cake. I thought he wanted the cake to be a surprise. So I went shopping, and when I came back everyone was there, and they broke into the aforementioned song (as is tradition on birthdays around here, for some reason), complete with Bob on guitar! And Bob didn't make the cake, but my friend Mary did. Pumpkin spice cake with Tofutti cream cheese frosting. Apparently the cake underwent some jostling in transit, but it was so tasty that no one even cared about the lopsidedness!

I think it was perhaps the best birthday I've ever had. Bob took me out to dinner later yesterday evening, but the cake was so rich that neither of us was extremely hungry so we split a salad and an entrée. There is a restaurant here in Athens called Farm 255, and it is 100% organic and mostly supplied from Athens farms. It's a really cool premise, so we wanted to try it out. "The" vegan entrée was roasted red potatoes, sautéed fancy mushrooms (I don't even know what kind they were), a baby greens and barley salad with a warm vinaigrette, and whole wheat bread with olive oil. After dinner we enjoyed a French press of organic, locally roasted coffee. All in all, it was a nice experience but we found the restaurant to be fairly overpriced and not as veg-friendly as it is touted to be.

Bob gave me a dessert decorating set, so now I will be making beautiful, artful cupcakes (but hopefully not too often). He also got me some vegan gummy bears and some chocolate-covered espresso beans. My goal is to make all these sweets last FOREVER. The best gift he gave me, though, was a 1-hour professional massage. That happened today, and it was pretty heavenly. Two of my friends gave me a gift certificate to The Grit (my old favorite restaurant), and they "wrapped" it in an empty Tofutti cream cheese container. How clever! I received a couple of other gifts too, and I felt very loved, which was the best gift!

Well, today we had to eat as well. I made a quick hummus for lunch--great on a whole wheat tortilla with spinach, sprouts, and cukes.

I was quite pleased with this particular variety of hummus, so I'll share the recipe with you at the end.

For dinner I made some gypsy soup that I have made before, except this time I used sweet potatoes instead of squash. It's a deliciously spicy and healthy pot of soup. Anyone else like to eat soup out of a mug?

Back to life as usual tomorrow. I shall see you all again soon!


Toasty Sesame Hummus

2 cups chickpeas
2 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 bunch green onions

Place all ingredients in a food processor and purée until smooth. Add water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to smooth it out and reach a nice, "fluffy" consistency.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Been cookin'

Besides being swamped with work for the past several days, I also caught a case of the sickies. Nothing terrible, just a sore throat and cold that have been going around. I'm on the up-swing now both with school and with my health, so I thought it was time to jump back into some food blogging.

I made Chipotle Yam Wedges from Vive recently, and they were so delicious that we've had them a couple of times since then! Simplest recipe in the world, really, but it's right on. Here they are with some black beans (courtesy of my freezer) and some sautéed kale. This is the kind of lunch I really prefer to have--large and colorful and healthy.

Also from Vive, we tried the Chickpea Ratatouille this week. In one word, FANTASTIC! It's a very warm, mellow, hearty meal, seen here over a brown and wild rice mix. Bob has been raving about how awesome this is (and he's right), so I bet we'll be making this again soon. One recipe of it made about three servings for each of us, which also gives it points in my book.

When I have a sore throat, I love eating a hot bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. I don't have oatmeal very often right now, since I have to get up super early to cook it. But wanting something warm on my throat, I got up one morning and made some. I added some chopped ginger for good health, almond extract and cinnamon for flavor, frozen blueberries for all their delicious antioxidant goodness, ground flax seeds stirred in at the last minute, and a drizzle of agave nectar on top. Served with a nice pot of ginger-infused green tea... There you have it. Breakfast of champions.

Seriously, I am trying to vary my breakfasts a little more these days. Usually I eat a bowl of fortified cereal with soy milk, and then a couple of hours later I have an apple. When you're rushed in the mornings, you don't have time for much fanciness. But if anyone has any winning breakfast ideas that are filling and not too fussy (and not smoothies until it warms up about 20 degrees), I would love to hear your suggestions! Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, when I have time to do it right.

When I do have more time in the morning, I love baked oatmeal. There is a recipe from Fatfree Vegan that I have come to love, and I made this for breakfast over the weekend. Again, green tea with ginger was an absolute must to accompany this meal.

We tried our hand at making French bread this week from La Dolce Vegan, like Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan also blogged about a while back. Her loaves turned out much prettier than mine--next time I will have to make the slashes more neatly. But this was so tasty and tender, nothing like the stuff you see advertised as "French" bread. No, this reminded me of the real thing. I confess that even though I was supposed to use all white flour, I subbed about half of it with whole wheat pastry flour--I couldn't make myself not do it. No harm done, though--the taste and texture were still amazing. Next time I am going to try baguettes, because I love real French baguettes more than any other kind of bread in the world. See?

This picture was taken three years ago when I was in Paris, and depicts my love affair with baguettes.

Now on to the sweet stuff. I made these chili chai glazed nuts as a treat for Bob to keep on his desk at work. The original recipe used walnuts, but I (like Melissa West) subbed almonds since we generally like almonds better and they're a source of calcium. Yum, these are delicious! I'm glad I sent them to work with Bob so I don't have to try to resist them every day.

And finally, Peanut Butter Cupcakes topped with Quick Melty Ganache, from VCTOTW. I told Bob to pick out a cupcake recipe for us to try, and this was the winner. They came out very elegant looking and quite yummy. They're gone now, mostly because we had plenty of opportunities to share. Gotta share the cupcake love!

Hoping everyone had a wonderful Valentine's day! I wanted to try to cook something special, but then the sore throat and cold thing hit me and I didn't feel like getting creative, or even getting in the kitchen at all. Bob and I have a tradition, though, of going to The Grit on Valentine's day--we have done it every year since we first got together. Yesterday may have been our last V-day at The Grit, since we will be moving away from Athens this summer... But it was fun and the food was great (as always). I had a spicy tofu-veggie stir fry, and Bob had an avocado-citrus wrap with tortilla lime soup, which tasted strongly of chipotle.

This Saturday, yours truly will be 23 years old. How can that be??? Anyway, I don't know what my plans are yet, but I'm sure it will be a good time. I will get back to you in a few days and fill you in on all my birthday antics! Best wishes to you all... Peace!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Homemade soy milk ups and downs

Vivacious Vegan asked me if I am happy with the purchase of my soy milk maker overall. I thought that maybe several of you have that question, so I decided to do a post just weighing what I have found to be the pros and cons. Overall, though, the answer is certainly YES--I find that it is completely worth it to own my own machine.

I'll start with the down side.

1. Cleaning the machine is a bit of a chore. It doesn't really take that long, maybe about 5-7 minutes after the soy milk is done, but it's not one of those things you can really "put off"--the sooner you clean it after it's done with the milk, the easier it is to clean. Bob hates cleaning the machine; I still hate washing the food processor more than I dislike cleaning out the soy milk maker.

2. We have to plan ahead. The machine only makes 6 cups at a time, and that's not really all that much. We find we have to make it about every other day, which means soaking the beans/grains at least 8 hours ahead of time, planning to make it several hours before it's needed so it has time to cool, and just overall not getting behind. Obviously, much less planning is needed when you just buy it from a carton.

3. The taste takes some getting used to. I like the flavor of it very much; it's better than some brands I have purchased. When you love the flavor of Silk Light Vanilla soy milk, though, and then you switch from it, you have to learn to be just as satisfied with something else. Part of this is playing with the recipe to suit your tastes--it took many trials before we settled on the method we like the best. I add rice to cut the beany flavor, and I find the barley makes it creamier and thicker, like milk should be. Another related issue is that there is some very fine sediment in the homemade stuff. At first this bothered me, and I tried to strain it. Straining all the soy milk you make, though, would be an awful lot of work. So I just got used to it. Now, I don't even notice it anymore, so it's not a problem at all.

Now the up side.

1. It's cheap!!! I have not calculated what my price per quart is of homemade soy milk, but it's a heck of a lot less than what I was paying before--at least $3 per half gallon of Silk Light Vanilla.

2. It's satisfying. I've always been a do-it-yourself kind of person, and I strive toward frugality and simplicity in my life as much as I can. When I make soy milk and clean up after myself, instead of thinking "What a hassle," I think "I'm being self-sufficient and saving money!" And it makes me feel good. Plus, there are no preservatives or thickeners or anything at all weird in it--only what you put in.

3. Making soy milk is not an intrusive chore. What I mean is, you can set it up to go and then it makes the soy milk while you are washing the dishes, cooking dinner, etc. Then you can finish it and clean it up as you go, and it doesn't feel like a separate chore--it's just part of getting everything done.

4. You can get creative with it. I haven't experimented much with it yet, but I plan to. A recipe that the machine came with suggested soaking dates in the hot soy milk, then puréeing it together to make a special sweet drink. Or hot, fresh soy milk would be perfect for making fresh tofu, homemade soy cheese, or anything else you got a whim to try.

5. Okara! I'm getting quite a stockpile of this stuff now, and according to Susan V, it has some good nutritional characteristics. I haven't been good about seeking out recipes for okara, but it's on my list of things to do. Any suggestions?

There you have it--my analysis of owning one's own soy milk maker. I find that the benefits are great, and it's just all around pleasing. And it's not too much of a burden, especially when you get used to incorporating it into your routine. If any of you have been considering making a purchase, I hope this helps you make your decision.

I will post some food pics in just a couple of days--and I have some great stuff to show you!


Friday, February 09, 2007

Guacamole, yum

Bob and I just love guacamole. Who doesn't? Last night for dinner, we decided to make some guacamole and have a great big taco salad for dinner. A few nights ago I had made some "refried" bean burrito filling: Beans, a scoop of uncheese mix, salsa, and chipotle paste. It was mixed with enough water to smash everything together to a smooth consistency.

The guacamole recipe we like is from The Grit Cookbook. If you didn't know this, The Grit is a local vegetarian restaurant. It's actually been frustrating me lately, because so many of their menu items are centered around cheese, and they offer no vegan alternative. There's even an omni restaurant in town that offers vegan cheese substitutes! All in all, though, I still love The Grit because it has the best hummus, falafel, and tabbouli salad plate I've ever had, and their specials--often some kind of spin on Thai curry--are phenomenal and usually vegan. Anyway, we love their guacamole recipe, and we whipped some up last night.

The salad, from the bottom up, contains baked blue corn tortilla chips, a heavy dose of chopped spinach, the bean mixture, guacamole, salsa, sliced black olives, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. It came together quickly (thank goodness, we were so hungry) and really satisfied my periodic Tex-Mex craving beautifully.

A couple hours after dinner, I really wanted to make some chocolate pudding. Sometimes I just get the itch to make something, even when I don't want to eat it. I think what I really wanted was to whip the silken tofu into oblivion, because seeing it all smooth and swirly in my food processor gives me some weird satisfaction. Anyway, I used a recipe I found originally on Fatfree Vegan, though when I went to look up the recipe last night I couldn't find it. Good thing it was simple and I remembered it: 1 package Mori-Nu silken tofu, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. After I whipped it all together in the food processor and let it chill, I toasted some coconut flakes to sprinkle on top. I wasn't hungry, but Bob wanted some, and he assured me that it was delicious. Actually, I think I may have had just a taste... It was good.

Happy Friday, everyone. This means that the weekend is looming, and it's going to be a busy weekend for me. But Bob was asking if we could make more cupcakes this weekend, so I told him to pick out a recipe. It's a really good thing that he doesn't mind eating 85% of a batch of cupcakes on his own, and that my satisfaction comes more from making them and showing them to you rather than eating them!

Have a good one!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Homemade soy lattes all around

I have exciting news! Well, I was excited, anyway. I discovered the "trick" to making perfect lattes with my homemade soy milk--no more of that curdling grossness. It's very simple, really: Just add the steamed milk to the cup first, and then stir the espresso in. Then plop your foam on top, and enjoy the goodness of a homemade latte!

It's just very simple chemistry, and I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier. But espresso, being acidic, should be added to the base--soy milk--instead of the other way around. And it comes out smooth and perfect!

Speaking of homemade soy milk, I have settled on a recipe that satisfies me with its taste and texture. I looked at a few different soy milk recipes, the most influential by far being Dori's recipe. In fact, I might have followed her recipe almost exactly, except that I have been unable to find a source of whole oat berries. Anyway, at the bottom of this post I'll share what I have come up with.

Just to let you all know, I am going to try to make a concerted effort to respond to all your comments to my posts. Don't fault me if I get behind! I do love to read and treasure all your comments--and it's always nice to get responses, I know. I've responded to everyone in my previous post.

Lastly, there is no winter wonderland here in Athens, Georgia. If you want snow, take a look here or here, but I have not seen snow this year and do not expect to. It used to snow every winter in north Georgia, but the devastating effects of global warming are being felt everywhere. Winters here are frigid and clear most of the time, with a lot of bare trees and deadness all over the ground. The mornings are the coldest time, and also the most beautiful--the clouds are truly "winter clouds," and interact with the sun in a distinctly different way from thick, opaque summer clouds. I set out to class every morning right about at the crack of sunrise; if I look to the west, I see this.

And if I look to the east, I see this.

Just wanted to share my mornings with you.


Laura's Homemade Soy Milk

1/3 cup soybeans
2 tablespoons brown rice
2 tablespoons pearl barley (or for variation, 1 tablespoon pearl barley and 1 tablespoon raw cashews)

Soak these overnight before making the soy milk according to the instructions. My machine makes 6 cups of soy milk; I split it in half and store 3 cups each in two Mason jars. This is convenient for me because then, if I want, I can make half the batch plain and the other half vanilla-flavored. To make 1 jar (3 cups) of vanilla soy milk, I use: 1 tablespoon raw sugar; 1/8 teaspoon sea salt; 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. To make 1 jar of plain soy milk, I use: 1 teaspoon raw sugar; 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Add to the jar, add the milk, shake it up, and chill it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lots to share...

I meant to post this last night, but I was far too tired to get it done. Cooking has been going on in our kitchen since the weekend, and I am ready to share.

I was looking at Kati's blog post on smoothies, and I asked myself, Why do I never have a smoothie for breakfast? So, here is my breakfast smoothie, which successfully kept me going until lunchtime on Saturday. I used (roughly):

1 banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/3-1/2 cup soy milk
Splash vanilla
Several dashes ground cinnamon
Dash ground ginger
1 tablespoon peanut butter
Splash agave nectar

This is my favorite smoothie recipe--it's just so satisfying and delicious. I don't drink smoothies that often, but this made a much better breakfast than I would have imagined. I'll have to remember to do it more often.

Lunch on Saturday was extremely simple--I had some leftover brown rice, to which I added 1/2 cup of steamed edamame and some of the tahini-tamari sauce I made last week to go with the falafel. I also had some veggies on the side. It was light and filling, and used up some leftovers.

Dinner was excellent. I tried my hand at making aloo matar and roti. After reading several different recipes online, I meshed together my own recipe, which follows. This was super spicy, but the roti helps level out the heat. I have really begun to love Indian food recently, and I plan to practice it much more in the near future.

Aloo Matar

2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used 2, but next time I will use one more)
1 onion, sliced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried coriander, crushed
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/2-1 cup water
Fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a very large skillet over medium heat, and add the cumin seeds. Temper for a few minutes, then add onion and cook until it begins to brown. Add apices, potatoes, and peas, and mix well. Turn heat down, add 1/2 cup water, and cover. Allow to cook until potatoes are tender. If you need to add more water as you go along to keep it from sticking, go ahead. When the potatoes are done, take out about 1/4 cup and mash them well; stir them back into the pan with some extra water to make a thick "gravy." Turn the heat off, add the lemon juice and cilantro, and allow to sit, covered, for several minutes to let the flavors blend a little more.


2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
Water, as needed

Combine the flour and salt. Add water slowly, working it together to form a stiff ball of dough. Cover dough with a wet towel for 20 minutes, then knead it for 5-10 minutes until smooth and workable. Divide into 6 balls. Roll each ball out until it is 6 inches in diameter. Heat a small amount of oil over medium heat. Cook the roti in the pan on each side, pressing down in the center with a dry towel. Wrap roti in a dry towel until ready to serve.

Sunday, my friend came over to bake cupcakes from VCTOTW with me! We picked out the Chai Latte Cupcakes, and we had a great time messing up the kitchen with these... But these were probably the best cupcakes I've ever tasted. Mary took six home with her, and Bob and I kept the other six--and they are gone already. I had fun creating this stencil to decorate the tops with--and I like the way the topping looks. It reminds me of those henna tattoos that I used to love to get when I was in high school. These are lovely little creations, and I never would have thought you could get a cupcake to taste so much like a chai latte!

Last night was homemade pizza. This is a Greek-inspired pizza, with olives and mushrooms and broccoli and onion and a tofu ricotta... and some of Bryanna Clark Grogan's quick tofu feta, which I made over the weekend. The feta was really simple to make, but Bob and I are not necessarily crazy about it. In fact, we couldn't even taste it on the pizza. It is not much like feta, to tell you the truth. But that's okay--who really needs feta anyway? This pizza was fantastic. Nothing like homemade pizza on a whole grain crust!

Have a good week, and I will be dropping in on you all soon!

Friday, February 02, 2007

A week in food

Here are the things that have been going on in this kitchen for the past week or so...

Tofu scramble. I mixed this with some black beans and some leftover potatoes with veggies, and it made a nice and filling breakfast.

Tasty Tofu Tidbits from TEV. This was the first recipe that caught my eye, and it was so simple. I really enjoyed the smoky flavor of the marinade... and I enjoyed the crisp, seared look of the tofu dice. We had this with some lightly steamed veggies--I can't remember what, exactly.

A nice, healthy, filling lunch for the day that we gave blood. I really enjoyed making this, because it meant I got to be inventive and I could give accounting a rest--and I had a good excuse for it. This was one of those meals where you just try to clear out the refrigerator of everything that needs to be used up--this time, that included cabbage, turnips, and a couple of servings of pinto beans and brown rice.

The turnips became Roasted Turnip Purée from TEV. To be honest, this was not my favorite. No fault of the recipe, really. I just don't care for the bitter flavor of turnips, and the flavors that the recipe added were not able to mask it sufficiently for me. Bob enjoyed it, so I let him have my serving.

The cabbage became an Asian-inspired, coleslaw-like salad that I prefer to call confetti cabbage salad.

Confetti Cabbage Salad

2/3 head of cabbage, shredded coarsely
2 shredded carrots
1/2 thinly sliced red onion
Handful toasted sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon tamari
Ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced ginger root

Let the dressing steep while you prepare the veggies. Pour dressing over the salad and toss.

Yummmm! It made a huge bowl of salad, but it was gone in two days.

I was really excited to see a recipe in TEV for "Lightened-Up" Falafels. I've had falafel on my mind for a couple of weeks now, and this was the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl. Bob helped me cook up these little patties. I love making foods that are particularly hands-on, like this one was with the rolling out of the patties.

I appreciated that these were sautéed instead of deep-fried like falafel often is. However, I did have to keep adding oil as they were cooking because it would all be cooked up so fast, so I don't know how lightened up these really were (although I am confident that I didn't use as much oil as I would have otherwise). The other point that didn't go as smoothly as I hoped was that the patties were very, very fragile. I think what could improve it is 1) perhaps adding a bit more flour to the mixture, 2) refrigerating the mixture AFTER forming the patties instead of before, and 3) making at least twice as many patties as the recipe says to make, since they came out so darn big.

The flavor was right on, though--these were delicious! The night we made these, Bob had his in pita halves with veggies, and I opted to eat mine on top of a bed of veggies (spinach, cabbage, cukes). We made the Tahini-Tamari Sauce that the recipe recommends to serve with the falafel, and it was so good. Perfect flavor. The falafel and the sauce was equally delicious as a salad or as a pita.

And that's all, folks. Beyond these things we have been eating very simply around here lately--leftovers and veggies and smoothies have been my faithful friends. I don't know what the weekend has in store, but probably not much that is more exciting than this. I do have a cupcake-baking date set for Sunday, so thoughts of cupcakes are propelling me on!

We are still enjoying our homemade soy milk. We have not settled on a recipe just yet--I've looked at several people's favorite recipes, and ours is going to end up being a mélange of those. The only trouble I'm having so far is, the homemade soy milk tends to curdle in my homemade cappuccinos--the packaged soy milk we bought didn't do that. I found a blog post from the Vegan Feast Kitchen that sort of addressed this problem, but none of the solutions Bryanna offers have corrected the problem. I still have a couple more tricks up my sleeve, but if all else fails we may have to end up buying soy milk specially for our cappuccinos. :( Have any of you ever happened upon any remedies to this problem?

Have a great weekend. Cheers!