Saturday, June 30, 2007


Yesterday I inadvertently got into a dessert-making mode... I wanted to make a special treat for Bob, something that I knew that he would love. I didn't want to experiment on him (you'll see what I mean)... So I turned to my all-time tried and true cookbook, Vive Le Vegan! I cannot say enough good things about this cookbook, really. I didn't want to make any of Dreena's cookie recipes because I'm out of maple syrup at the moment, and that ingredient is what really makes her cookies shine. So I turned instead to the Chocolate P-Nut Butter Bars. They were a cinch to make, even though I had to wash my saucepan out twice during the process. And the result? Well...

It couldn't have tasted better if it had tried. Granted, peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven in my book, so these treats started with automatic points before I ever even sampled them. (And that's all I did--sample them! I'm still trying to fit back into my jeans comfortably!) Bob spoke very highly of these as well... with his mouth full, of course.

Then it was time for the experiment. When Urban Vegan announced her Vegans Gone Wild! contest, I knew that I wanted to try and re-create some classic French dessert. The winner?

These cute little profiteroles, cream puffs, which are commonly stuffed with ice cream or sweet whipped cream, and always drizzled with a rich, warm chocolate sauce. I decided to do a twist on both the cream and the chocolate--I made an almond whipped crème and served these profiteroles with a warm mocha sauce. Now, I have to admit before I post these recipes that I am quite pleased with the results of the crème and the mocha sauce... but not entirely pleased with the recipe for the cream puffs themselves. I have never made vegan pastries before so I was winging it on trying to replace the traditional eggs and re-creating the texture and mouth feel of cream puff pastry. I didn't get it exactly right, and I didn't have time to experiment with it again as the deadline sneaked up on me. But darn it, I went to all that trouble so I'm submitting this anyway! They look pretty, right? And they tasted fine, just not perfect. Can't win 'em all...

Almond Whipped Crème (I made this the day before so it would be sure to set)

1/2 cup plain soy creamer
1 tablespoon agar flakes
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 block (6 ounces) lite silken tofu
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Combine creamer, agar, and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until agar dissolves and the mixture becomes translucent and begins to thicken. Remove from heat. In a blender, combine tofu and extracts, and scrape the agar mixture into the blender. Whiz together until well blended and smooth. Chill for several hours. Once set, whiz again in the blender to soften, as it will have become very firm.


Cream Puff Pastry

3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch nutmeg
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
6 tablespoons mashed potatoes
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch turmeric (for color--may be omitted)

Place flour, salt, and nutmeg in a small bowl and stir through. In a saucepan, bring the margarine and water to a boil, then remove from heat and add the mixture of dry ingredients. With a wooden spoon, stir vigorously for about one minute. Place the saucepan back over low heat and cook the mixture for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Combine the mashed potatoes, baking powder, and turmeric, and add the mixture gradually to the mixture in the saucepan, mixing well between additions. Form the dough into 12 medium-large balls and drop onto an oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.


Mocha Sauce

10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coffee extract (or more, to taste)
1/4-1/2 cup plain soy milk

Combine the chocolate and water over a double boiler and heat gently, stirring constantly, until melted. Add soy milk as needed to thin the sauce to a pourable consistency. Once the mixture becomes smooth and saucy, remove from heat and stir in the extracts. Use immediately or reheat to serve.


To assemble: Slice the cream puff in half, and place a generous spoonful of well-chilled almond crème on the bottom piece. Top with the other half of the cream puff, and then drizzle the warm sauce over the top and serve immediately.

Friday, June 29, 2007

My good friend the chickpea

...O how I love thee.

I don't know what it is about chickpeas, but I find them more refreshing and satisfying than other legumes during the summer--perhaps because they lend themselves so well to consumption alongside fresh, raw veggies, both plain and mixed into salads and other wonderful concoctions. I certainly eat my share of these guys, and I have two fabulous lunches to prove it.

The first is a standard favorite. Hummus with fresh cucumbers, squash, and toasted pita wedges. I had a friend over for lunch and we made this together, and I have come to learn that I really enjoy making hummus with friends--it's a fun task and makes for good fellowship.

It's just a basic hummus recipe, with the addition of some sun-dried tomatoes for a little twist.

A second chickpea-centered lunch that I came up with recently was this curried chickpea salad... which turned out to be one of the best recipes I have ever invented just on the fly. I've got the recipe for you, too.

It couldn't have been more perfect served on a bed of romaine lettuce (I love buying the organic salad greens that have been "reduced for quick sale")... but I imagine it would make a decent sandwich or pita as well.

Curried Chickpea Salad

3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained well
1/4 cup Nayonaise
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1 rib celery, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced (or run through a garlic press)
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Mix the chickpeas and Nayonaise in a bowl, and mash the chickpeas with the back of a fork until mostly mashed, with a few lumps. Add remaning ingredients and combine well. Serve chilled over salad greens.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gotta do what you gotta do

What I had to do was try and salvage the bland lentil dip that I made several days ago... It was dry and flavorless but I thought it had potential. So I added some curry powder to it, along with some minced cilantro, and I formed it into patties and baked it (325, 20 minutes) as a sort of twist on falafel. I spritzed the patties with canola oil before baking them, to help with the dryness problem. It worked out well--the lentil purée was so firm after refrigeration that I did not have to add a binder of any kind.

They still weren't great, but they were much more palatable, especially with a quick, light tahini dressing that I whisked together. Alongside a scoop of tabouli salad, it made a nice Middle East-inspired lunch.

The tabouli salad comes from The Grit's cookbook, and The Grit's version is the best tabouli salad I have ever tasted. The great thing about The Grit is that I can take their cookbook to Atlanta with me and enjoy most of my favorite meals, but lightened up and more affordable. The tahini dressing I made was also inspired by a Grit recipe, but I cut out all the oil and just added water to thin it out.

PS--If you're looking for a cool drink to enjoy in this summer heat, try a scoop of peach sorbet, 1/2 cup champagne, and a shot of Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur. Nice!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thank you, thank you

Thanks so much for all your well-wishes and thoughts and especially prayers for Bob's recovery. He felt much, much better today--still tired and not much of an appetite, but obviously on the mend. And as for me, so far so good. I have always been prone to throat infections, so living in close quarters like this with his particular illness just makes me a little panicky. But I believe I have been spared!

I've been cooking up some different things, trying to entice Bob to eat something more substantial than garlic soup or saltines. I made some miso soup with carrots and kale this evening, and he ate a bit of that, so I was happy to at least get some vegetables into him.

This one I was sure would win him over. I was wrong...

Mashed potatoes and lightly steamed kale, topped with The Grit's Yeast Gravy. This stuff is dangerous to have around, because I love it so much. Bob didn't feel up to it, but thank goodness he's feeling better because he loves this too, and he'll eat the leftovers so I'm not stuck with them.

I wanted to get him to eat something with some spicy mustard on it, to help clear out his congestion. He didn't want a sandwich or anything like that, but I knew if I made these he wouldn't be able to refuse them.

Everyone knows that big, soft pretzels are just a vehicle for mustard, right? Right! My little scheme worked this time--he gladly partook. I'd never made pretzels before so I referred to this recipe to get the idea down. I modified it a bit, as usual, so I'll include my recipe at the end of this post. These came out soft and chewy, just like a good pretzel should.

This is a potato stir-fry that Bob made a day or so before he got sick. He was actually able to stomach the leftovers, even with cilantro and spicy salsa. Must have been good! Someone recently asked me for the recipe for this meal so I'm going to include it here too, though the possibilities are obviously endless!

I've been drinking blueberry-banana-flax smoothies for breakfast and eating salads or kale & kraut sammiches for lunch, so despite what the above evidence may suggest I HAVE been eating pretty well--plenty of fruits and veggies and whole grains, and I've been avoiding sugar pretty well. If I must sweeten something, I generally either use stevia (for tea) or agave nectar (for porridge and such).

But what's a hot Georgia summer without fruit sorbet? I was inspired to make this champagne peach sorbet by the open bottle of champagne in our refrigerator, left over from earlier in the week when Bob and I had a little celebration. When he got sick I knew that no one would finish it before it went flat, so I used up some of it this way. Peaches and champagne pair so well, and there couldn't be a better time of year to enjoy a treat like this.

So what were we celebrating with the champagne? Well, I found out earlier this week that I have passed both of the CPA exams I have taken! Woot! Now I just have two more to go, and I'll be done by mid-July. Praise God! I couldn't have been more ecstatic.

Wishing you all health and happiness and peace and joy....


Big, Soft Pretzels

1 cup plain soy milk, warmed (not too hot--around 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon demerara sugar

Combine the above ingredients in a small bowl and let sit 10 minutes, or until foamy. In the meantime, mix in a large bowl:

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Make a well in the center and add the milk mixture. Begin working it together, adding more all-purpose flour as needed, about 1/4 cup at a time. I added about 3/4 cup total. Once you can form the dough into a ball, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes, incorporating more flour if necessary, until the ball of dough is smooth and soft. No rising time is necessary.

Divide the dough into 6 portions, and roll each piece out into a long, thin log. Once rolled out, let the dough rest for about 5 minutes; then roll each piece out more, if necessary, to a length of about 15 inches and a thickness about the size of your thumb.

Preheat oven to 425. Bring a pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, form each piece of dough into a pretzel shape; where you fold the ends of the dough back over the middle you may need to pinch it together slightly so that it will hold--but don't put too much pressure or you will flatten the dough. When the water is boiling, boil one pretzel at a time, for about 5 seconds, then remove and place directly on a greased pan. I found the easiest way to do this was to place the pretzel on a slotted spoon and submerge it; the pretzel stayed on the spoon and I didn't have to go fishing for it. Once on the pan, immediately sprinkle the pretzel with the desired topping (I used coarse salt on some and sesame seeds on some) and then repeat the process with the remaining pretzels. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Serve right away with mustard or your condiment of choice!


Bob's "Hash Browns" (aka Potato Stir-Fry)

For each serving you wish to make, you will need:
One large or two small potatoes (any variety should be fine), sliced into wedges
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup chopped vegetables (we commonly use mushrooms, green peppers, zucchini, etc.)

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet, adding the onions and garlic as it begins to heat. Sauté for several minutes, until the onion begins to brown. Add the other vegetables and the potatoes and cook on medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add more oil if necessary to keep from sticking (but remember--it's much easier to add more than it is to remove it if you've added too much). During the last few minutes of cooking, season with salt and cayenne or black pepper to taste. Serve with ketchup or, as I prefer, with a bit of cilantro and some spicy salsa.


Champagne Peach Sorbet

1 cup sliced frozen peaches (NOTE: If you use fresh peaches, make sure you slice and freeze them 2-3 days ahead of time to ensure a good texture)
1/2 cup champagne*
2 tablespoons white grape juice concentrate (or simple syrup, if you prefer), or more, to reach desired sweetness

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the peaches are pulverized and the mixture forms a smooth slush. Transfer to a container with a lid and freeze for one hour. Remove from freezer and stir, then retun to freezer and freeze for 2 hours or more, until set.

* If you prefer, you can just use simple syrup in place of the champagne: Combine equal parts sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for a few minutes until sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has reduced slightly. Make sure to cool the syrup completely before proceeding with the recipe.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My plans are on hold...

I have not meant to disappear this week. I had some meals in mind, actually... but that was before Bob got sick. He's had this nasty sore throat for several days now--much worse than my recent bout. He doesn't want to swallow anything at all, much less anything solid. The poor guy... I've been keeping him full of ginger tea, and gargling salt water. I hope it passes soon. It's extremely rare for him to get this ill.

He has been requesting the Cure What Ails Ya Garlic Soup from LDV constantly, so I have tried to make sure there's always some at the ready. It seems to pick him up whenever he eats it, I guess just because he's so hungry--though garlic is known to be high in antibacterial and antiviral compounds that I know cannot hurt. I wish I could enjoy this soup too, but I had an incident several years ago that involved large quantities of garlic and I have only been able to stomach it in modest doses since.

Bob loves this soup with a slice of toasted spelt bread and a little dab of Earth Balance.

This morning as he was leaving for work, I had a feeling he would be coming home soon so I made this sore throat-friendly porridge that he could enjoy when he came back. Sure enough, he never even clocked in before he turned around and came home.

Barley and quinoa porridge (recipe follows). Bob really liked it, so that was wonderful. I loved it too, despite that it was a very warm first morning of summer. The porridge is smooth and creamy, and has a wonderfully delicate vanilla aroma and flavor.

I made this for lunch, thinking that Bob might eat it. He didn't, but it was no loss for him, really.

There is a recipe in LDV for Lentil Dip... The idea is similar to hummus, but with red lentils rather than chickpeas--which sounded like an interesting idea. The copious quantities of oil that the recipe called for freaked me out, so I cut it way down. The resulting flavor was bland--even though I kicked up the spices a good bit. It made an okay lunch with some toasted pita wedges and cucumber slices, but I'm not going to be able to eat the rest in its present form. And it made quite a bit. I have an idea on how to use up the leftovers so that it might not be a total waste, but I shall not be making this recipe again.

As soon as Bob's feeling well enough to eat regular food, I have some recipes I want to try... but until then, please think happy thoughts for him. And for me too--I don't want any part of whatever this is! Take care... I'll be back around soon.


Barley-Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups plain soy milk
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped

Combine grains, water, cinnamon, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring 2-3 times. Increase heat to medium-low; add remaining ingredients and cook, covered, for another 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until barley is soft. Serve with additional agave nectar and milk, if desired.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A weekend in food

After making sushi on Thursday night, I got excited about it and so Friday I decided to make myself some raw sushi for lunch.

I used alfalfa sprouts instead of rice, and the filling consisted of strips of raw zucchini, mushrooms, and green onions, all marinated for just a few minutes in a mixture of tamari, ginger, and sesame oil. I spread a thin layer of wasabi paste into the roll for some extra flavor. This was fantastic and far, far easier than dealing with sticky rice. A side of steamed edamame rounded out the meal quite well.

That evening, Bob and I met up with our friend Vesna and decided to go to The Grit for dinner, just one last time before he and I leave Athens (in less than a month now--wow!). I wasn't too hungry so I ordered a tabbouli salad, and ended up taking half of it home with me.

Bob ordered the noodle bowl--the day's sauce was a creamy roasted garlic sauce, which was kind of spicy and very smooth, but too much garlic flavor for me.

The three of us also shared an order of sweet potato fries. They're hard to pass up at The Grit, being seasoned so well with chili powder and cinnamon. See? We almost ate them all up before I remembered to take a picture. Hee hee.

So with that, Bob and I bid The Grit farewell--at least until we come back for a visit.

Yesterday for lunch I wanted to try raw zucchini noodles, which I made with my vegetable peeler. I've never used zucchini as pasta before, but it is something I will do again. This lunch was so light and fresh, with tomatoes and mushrooms and SusanV's white bean pesto, and a sprinkling of sea salt, sesame seeds, and nutritional yeast.

Last night we went to Vesna's for a stir-fry:

And she ended up crashing at our place, so I made a special breakfast of Vive's Blueberry Bounty Buns and fresh cantaloupe. The buns were delicious and not too sweet, and a cup of mandarin orange herbal tea complemented them so nicely.

The end.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Something simple, something special

I'm afraid there's not a whole lot to share right now... I haven't had much of an appetite, really, and I've been studying like mad for my 6 July exam. I am still trying to eat fresh, healthy, and non-processed as much as I can, though I have caved and drunk coffee several times. It just helps so much when I'm stuck at home studying all day, to at least have something cozy to sip on.

One of the easiest and best lunches ever: Bake a sweet potato, then cut it open and serve it topped with homemade black beans. The beans are spicy, a perfect answer to the mellow, sweet spud.

Well, this isn't exactly unprocessed... but it was in my freezer, and I didn't have time to go grocery shopping on Wednesday. But I had recently spied these Dominex Eggplant Burgers at the health food store, so I picked up a box for just such an occasion. I actually really liked it... better than a Boca Burger or something like that. It actually tasted like eggplant, and the box assured me that it was vegan. I ate it on half a whole wheat bun, dressed it up with mustard and sprouts, and topped it with some cucumber slices. Pretty tasty.

This was my excitement for the week--it had been so long since I made my own sushi. Bob helped me with the miso soup (Quick Miso Soup For One, from LDV, but we split it into two portions), which contains diced silken tofu, baby spinach, and green onions, and I took care of the sushi rolls.

The roll on the left contains green onions with baby bellas, marinated in rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, and chopped ginger. The marinade was really tasty. The roll on the right is made with strips of grilled zucchini and grilled sweet potato. Nothing beats the taste of grilled veggies, and I loved this roll. With a small decanter of warmed rice wine, this meal was every bit as good as a sushi meal out on the town.

That's all for now. Hope your weekend is fantastic.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Farewell to the beach

I grew up so close to the beach that for a long time after moving to Athens (four hours inland), driving back down to the beach never really appealed to me that much. But now that I only get back to the coast about once a year, I really do love it... and I often miss smelling the salt in the air and even the occasional visit from a crab that has somehow made its way into my backyard.

Bob and I went down to visit my family on Friday, and then Saturday we joined his family at Tybee Island, where they have rented out a beach house for the entire week. We meant to come back Sunday night, but I was having such an amazing time that I convinced Bob to take Monday off work so we could stay an extra day. Even yesterday evening it was still hard to leave, but we really did need to get back home.

Sunday morning's sunrise over the ocean was an incredible sight to see. I love the way the light dances on the water...

I always think it's fascinating to watch sea birds... the way they fly so gracefully together, the way the wind currents lift them and propel them along... the way they dive-bomb into the waves and emerge with a meal clamped in their beaks. This flock of pelicans I watched for quite awhile, until they disappeared around the north side of the island.

Swimming in the salty water doesn't really do it for me most of the time, but walks on the beach in the morning and after dark are always special moments for me. There is something about standing at the edge of the water, listening to the dark ocean and unable to see where it meets the dark sky... It makes me feel more aware of how small my life is, in a wonderful way.

I made this Quinoa Spring Salad (Vive!) to take along with us... It made several good meals until we finally polished it off.

Yesterday Bob and I had run out of food at the beach house, so I made a trip to the grocery store and picked up a few essential items, to make this quick three-bean chili. Yes, it may have been a little out-of-season, but it was the best and healthiest meal I could throw together inexpensively... and I could leave it in the crockpot while I was out on the beach. I thought it might turn out just so-so, but it was actually quite good. Fresh lime juice squeezed in at the last minute really freshened it up.

Other than that, we took black beans and soy milk and got by rather nicely for the weekend. Oh yes, and before we left for our trip, I made this incredible sandwich, prompted by Gaia: Kale and Kraut Sandwiches from Vegan Vittles. Only... I had no kale, but I did have local collard greens, and they worked just as well. This is a new favorite--it's easy and tangy and healthy, and filling enough to fuel a four-hour drive.

Well, now that I'm home I'm going to be studying a lot, and enjoying the weather as much as I can, and maybe not cooking too much. But I'm confident that I'll have more to share soon. I hope your week has gotten off to a good start!

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I don't have a lot of food to show you today... Bob works at the dining hall on campus, which means he gets two free meals a day, so I've not been much inclined to concoct anything exciting just for myself. I've been eating leftovers and repeats, and let's face it, you can only take so many pics of the same meals. Besides leftover black beans, kale, and white bean pesto with fresh veggies, I've been enjoying some delicious, frosty smoothies:

As well as some fresh, organic salads:

In addition, I have been drinking cayenne pepper tea to try and kill this sore throat that I've had for weeks now. I know cayenne is known for its ability to cure a sore throat, but it doesn't seem to be helping me a whole lot. Bleh. Any other remedies you can share with me?

In the absence of much exciting food, I wanted to share with you these fun facts about me. Kleopatra posted these on her blog and kindly requested for her fellow blogger friends to fill them out, so here you go!

1. I love... Creator/Father/Redeemer... Bob... my family and friends... nature... writing... sustainable agriculture... people, cultures, languages... Disney World (yes, it's true)

2. Right now I want...
...people to care about things that are important... to go on a road trip... to see a rainforest

3. I feel like...
...hugging someone who loves me... reading a good book

4. I hate it when...
...I waste my time... I wake up with a sore throat... people are apathetic... I make a bad impression

5. I fear...
...rejection... loneliness... illness... superficiality... climate change

6. I'm lonely without...
...Bob... writing... a good book to read... my friends

7. I need...
...time to be with God... to be active... to say what I'm thinking... to write... true friends to surround me

8. Today I...
...stayed at home alone, studying and drinking tea

9. Tomorrow I'm...
...driving down to the beach and to see my family

10. I just...
...went walking and got caught in the rain

11. I want to meet...
...other veg bloggers... Al Gore ("Why aren't you a vegan, sir?")... Cloud Strife (Any FFVII fans out there?)

12. I'm hungry for...
...nothing, bleh

13. I love it when...
...Bob does special things for me... people call me... I get to cook for people... I get to tell people why I'm vegan... a book or a movie makes me cry

14. I'm afraid of...
...blood... masks... false friends... not having my health... not having a planet suitable for my children to live on

15. I'm listening to...
...the A/C... my tummy rumbling

16. I'm wearing... old t-shirt of my dad's... green pj pants

17. I wish I was in...
...Paris... South Dakota... California... Alaska... Canada... or anywhere but here

18. I'm craving...
...a vacation

19. I want to get...
...a bike (and sell a car)

20. I can... myself well through writing

21. I can't...
...take it anymore

22. I have...
...difficulty focusing on things I don't want to do (like studying)

23. I haven't...
...always been very happy

24. I'm nervous...
...about doing the things *I* want to do... about what others think of me

25. My Mom thinks I'm...
...the smartest person who ever lived

26. My Dad thinks I'm...
...going to live my life the way he and Mom want

27. I think... would be nice if my parents listened to *me* for a change

28. I'm happy when...
...Bob and I are having fun together... I get to see my sister... I don't have anything to think about

29. I'm sad when... friends let me down... I let my friends down... I think about injustice

30. I like eating...
...ANYTHING vegan

31. I hate eating...
...anything NOT vegan

32. I love watching...
...rain on the streets... the wind... the French Open... Bob thinking

33. I love listening to...
...summer thunderstorms... Simon and Garfunkel... people speaking foreign languages (especially if I can understand them)

34. I love playing... 20 questions... Final Fantasy VII... music

35. I hate waking up to...
...Bob's alarm, because then I have to watch him leave

36. I can see...
...rain dripping from the eaves outside my window

37. I'm glad that...
...I have Bob... I have vegan friends... God created me just as I am

38. I'm disappointed that... many people I am close to are harsh and rude when it comes to veganism... someone close to me ignored my birthday... some people do horrible things in the name of God

39. I look like...
...a wet willow tree

40. I wish I looked like... athlete (maybe Martina Hingis)

I'm leaving tomorrow for the weekend--we're going to spend a few days down at the beach in Savannah. AND I'll get to see my sister! We'll probably just take leftover beans and such to eat while we're away, but I hope I'll be back to having food to share next week. Take care and have a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tight budget, tight jeans

That's where I find myself after these past few weeks. Sitting around studying, while munching on carby, less-than-healthy snacks has taken its toll on my body... and with me being out of work until late August, I find that my checkbook is being slowly depleted. So it seems like the perfect time to try and detox, and turn back to the basics: Whole, fresh foods, including plenty of grains and legumes and raw or lightly cooked veggies and fruits. I'm trying to drink nothing but water and the occasional ginger tea, until my body forgets that it ever wanted caffeine like it sometimes does. I'm trying to limit my intake of soy, as it's more highly processed. And I'm trying to sever my sweet tooth by eating nothing refined or having added sweetness of any kind. I've been going at it a couple of days now, and I'm doing fairly well except for the blasted cheesecake left over from Bob's birthday, from which I keep sneaking little nibbles. But I think it will be gone soon!

I made this quick soda bread from La Dolce Vegan--Sarah's Sandwich Spelt Bread. The green flecks you see are sunflower seeds. So far I like this bread a lot--and there is one tablespoon of maple syrup in the entire loaf, which is no cause for alarm as far as added sweetness goes, methinks.

A slice of this bread toasted and topped with Vesna's satarash makes an excellent breakfast...

And as per the name of the recipe, it's good sandwich bread too. This sandwich consists of SusanV's white bean pesto, which is really not so much a pesto as a white bean spread, topped with plenty of sprouts, mushrooms, and local cucumbers, and a bit of dijon mustard.

I asked Bob what he wanted for his "birthday dinner," and he requested beans and rice. Fine by me! I made a huge crockpot full of black beans, and we had them with brown rice and kale. Bob loves it when I put green peppers in the beans--it sort of lends a ranchy flavor that's quite nice.

For the kale, I used another recipe from LDV--Emira's Speedy Gourmet Kale & Tofu Delight. That's a long name for sautéed kale with little tofu cubes. It was absolutely delicious... my new favorite way to make kale. A sprinkling of toasted pine nuts adds a lot of flavor.

This is unusual for me, but today I have not had much of an appetite. I ate a little bit of granola for breakfast, but around 2:00 PM I decided I should probably really have something to eat. I can't understand why, but I've been jonesing for miso soup like none other, so when I found a recipe in LDV called Quick Miso Soup For One, I knew that it had been placed there just for me.

It made a gigantic portion of soup for one person, but I ate it all up. I skipped the tofu and just added carrots and baby spinach... It was the perfect soup for a rainy day.

It actually is a rainy day... I'm sitting next to the window right now, listening to the thunder rumbling in the distance. The rain was so good for our hot, thirsty land... I can see little eddies of steam rising off the asphalt, from being cooled so abruptly by a half-hour downpour that just slowed to a sprinkle. Georgia summers can be unbearably hot and humid, but an afternoon thunderstorm makes it all okay. I hope you all are enjoying your day, wherever you may be!

Monday, June 04, 2007

The best birthday ever?

Yesterday Bob turned 23, which means he caught up with me in age. Hee hee. For Bob, it was a relaxed, lazy day, followed by an evening to remember. For me, it was a day to cook and cook and cook... but I was happy to do it.

I made Bob's favorite breakfast--pancakes. I used my basic recipe for nut and grain pancakes, adapting it to include whole spelt flour. For the strawberry topping, I just cooked down about 2 cups of frozen strawberries, along with a tablespoon of sugar and about a teaspoon of cinnamon, and adding a bit of cornstarch to thicken it up.

Lunch was mostly Bob's doing--he's the pizza guy around here. We had some frozen pizza dough which didn't thaw out very well, so instead of a pizza we decided to make a calzone--who cares if a calzone looks sloppy? We filled it with marinara sauce, mushrooms, shredded spinach and fresh basil, and a quick tofu ricotta. And of course, some extra marinara sauce for dipping is always a must!

In the evening Bob's friends came over for... I hesitate to call it a "party" because we really didn't party that much. So let's just call it an "affair." Anyway, this affair included...

Three dozen cupcakes! Whew! I baked all day long. I told Bob to flip through Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and pick out ANY three recipes that he wanted--so he chose the Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes, the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes, and the Toasted Coconut Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting. Here is the cupcake gallery:

Thirty-six cupcakes may sound like an awful lot, but it was a good call--by the time it was all said and done, we had four left! Bob's favorite, by a landslide, were the Mexican Hot Chocolate variety, and I would have to say that I agree (though I only had a bite of each one). They were so delicate and tender, and the complex flavors balanced each other quite well. I appreciated the simple topping, a dusting of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. As far as presentation, Bob preferred the Toasted Coconut Cupcakes. You have to admit, they are cute as a button.

Bob recently met another vegan at work--a girl named Vesna. He invited her to come last night, too--and come she did, bearing vegan gifts! She made a chocolate tofu cheesecake, beautifully garnished with almonds and orange slices.

This dessert was quite rich, but perfectly delicious.

She also brought a vegetable spread called satarash. She is from eastern Europe, and this is a Hungarian dish that she picked up along the way. She told me how to make it, and I certainly plan to try it out soon--it's delicious! At the party I had it with baked tortilla chips. The ingredients included eggplant, green peppers, onions, tofu, and tomato sauce, as best I can remember. It was seasoned very well--I will have to play around with it when I try to make it.

After the party broke up, Bob and I walked downtown with Vesna to meet three guys who were supposed to be staying with her last night. They were traveling through Athens on their way home to Gainesville, Florida... and they're a folk/bluegrass band with an acoustic guitar, an acoustic bass, and a banjo. We sat on the street downtown and listened to them play, and I had such a wonderful time that I could have just sat there all night. Bob brought his guitar and played some Pixies for us too, and we all really enjoyed it. It was about 1:30 when we finally got in last night, but Bob and I agreed that it couldn't have been a more perfect ending to the day. Bob said it may have been his best birthday celebration ever.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Two bean dishes and a bit of decadence

The first of the bean dishes I have to share is quite awesome. Diann's three bean salad really struck a chord with me when I read it this morning, so I made it for lunch about two hours later!

I made it like she said, except that I used cilantro in place of the parsley and flax oil in place of the olive oil. What an easy, light, nutritious meal, and so refreshing on a day when it is hot enough to fry tofu on the sidewalk!

The second bean dish... not so much. Black bean cakes, of course, can be really good. These did not work out that way. I guess I should explain that I was in someone else's kitchen, and they didn't really understand the mechanics of making bean patties without eggs in them. So when the mixture was not cohesive enough, I wanted to add more oats to thicken it up--but she insisted that I add more flax eggs instead!

The result? Flax-y cakes, with a hint of black beans in there somewhere. They were also rather bland, and I couldn't find anything good to add to them for a little more zing. I don't mean to fault her--it was just a frustrating experience for both of us. Oh well. The sides for this meal, though, were delicious--cabbage and fresh salad greens, both grown organically on their neighbor's farm! And a juicy, summery tomato...

Now for the bit of decadence. I was studying my brains out for my exam on Wednesday and I had developed a short fuse, so Bob (what a sweetie) asked me if I wanted him to make me anything special. My immediate response--ice cream sammich!

A big scoop of So Delicious vanilla ice cream landed between two of Dreena's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies, which Bob made with whole spelt flour. Total comfort food--this may not have done my thighs any good, but it sure lifted my spirits.

Tomorrow is Bob's birthday, so I have some projects lined up. I can't wait to share! Until then, peace...