Friday, August 31, 2007


I was reading on Cupcake Punk's blog and saw the link to this New York Times article.

How long do you think it will take America to accept that its diet is one of the most environmentally destructive forces in our world today? The research is definitely there...

I'm on my way home from my business trip now--I'll tell you more about it this weekend sometime. I hope your holiday weekend has gotten off to a great start!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A new recipe, a new book, and heading off...

I realize it's been about a week since I blogged last... I wish it was easier for me to find the time to blog and to keep up with all of your blogs, but the fact that it's busy season at my office combined with the fact that I still don't have internet at home yet, makes it difficult. I apologize that I have not been commenting so much lately, but I will just have to do the best I can until one or both of those situations changes. In the meantime, I will be away at training in Carthage, North Carolina this week, which means I'll have some free time to catch up with you all... and maybe even sneak in a post of my own.

Bob called me earlier in the week and said he wanted to make dinner for me. When I arrived at home, this was cooking.

Dreena's Tomato-Lentil Pasta Sauce (Vive!) tossed with whole spelt ziti pasta and topped with capers. Though I'm not a huge pasta person, I enjoy it every now and again, particularly if it's a healthy variety. I took some leftovers for lunch one day this week and it was just delicious. Thanks, Bob!!!

Here's a recipe I tested for Melody--Teriyaki Tempeh. Gosh, it was just divine! The sauce has such a complex, perfect balance of sweetness, tang, and spice. It was fabulous on a spinach wrap with sprouts, avocado, and sliced veggies:

Bob raved and raved about this recipe--it's destined to become a favorite! I can't wait for Melody's cookbook!

Speaking of cookbooks, I went to Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe today and was quite thrilled to see this book proudly displayed on the shelf:

I had told myself that I could not buy another cookbook until I started my job, so I've been enviously reading all your rave reviews of Kris's recipes. Well, I did start my job, and then today the book was within my reach--I picked it up and flipped through the pages--and there was no way I could put it back. I'm excited about trying out some of the goodies in this book, but mostly I'm excited for Kris's accomplishment and wanted to show my support! Sometime when I get back from North Carolina I'll break this book in--the shop owner told me I just HAVE to try the Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Muffins.

The reason I went to Cosmo's today was to pick up some of this:

My favorite is the Thai Peanut Seitan jerky, but they're all pretty good. I wanted a few non-perishable food items to take on my trip this week... just in case. I contacted the person coordinating the event and I sent her a list of ingredients that I don't want to show up in my food, and I provided some food suggestions, which she forwarded to the chef who is catering the event. I've been assured that there will be appropriate foods for me, but in case that boils down to a bowl of lettuce, I wanted to have some protein handy. I really expect that the food situation this week will be fine, though--this company has been very understanding and accommodating when it comes to my diet, and I appreciate that about them very much.

This is an idea I got from The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood. The recipe is called Cornmeal Mush, and it's just cornmeal simmered on the stovetop in water and some salt. I stirred in some maple syrup and blueberries and it was a slightly sweet, buttery tasting warm and cozy breakfast. I refrigerated the leftovers and plan to use them to make griddle-cakes.

This salad was simple, but I had to show you these gorgeous cherry tomatoes that Bob's mom gave us from her neighbor's garden. They're so sweet and juicy and... I have been very disappointed with the tomatoes I've tasted this season on the whole, but the ones people have given us lately have made up for it in the most delicious way!

Thank you for your suggestions about the cheeze that I blogged about in my last post. I am happy to inform you that this cheeze does melt quite well if you shred it and heat it in the microwave--our favorite way to eat it proved to be as a queso dip mixed with salsa. Next time I make this recipe, I'm going to follow Vivacious Vegan's advice and make the Chedda variation--I think the miso will give it the bite that this batch lacked.

And finally, I was delighted to receive a package this week from Urban Vegan--a box of candy, my prize for winning second place in her Vegans Gone Wild! contest!!! The highlight of the package was this delicious toffee, made by Urban Vegan herself.

She also sent some licorice, two bars of dark chocolate, and a lovely card. Thanks so much!! I'm glad the weather finally took a small turn toward autumn so that this package could come unscathed through the mail.

It really has been slightly more bearable this past week or so--when I leave for work in the morning, the humidity is low and the air has the smallest hint of a chill in it. Of course, in the afternoon it still hits 100+ degrees, but I'm thankful for even the smallest progress. This is the time of year when summer has become just about too much for me to handle, and I look forward to pumpkins and warm soups and the many colors the gigantic oak trees around my apartment will be wearing.

As always, thanks for reading and for being wonderful friends. I'll catch up with you all soon, I promise! :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The last few days of food

This was a great quick weeknight meal. I made a batch of pinto beans on Monday evening, and then later that week I sautéed some kale in garlic and red pepper flakes, and I added some of the pinto beans to warm them up. Presto--dinner in ten minutes! It was tasty too.

Bob's boss surprised us with a lovely bag of homegrown tomatoes--something we haven't had all season. Besides eating them plain like candy, a couple of ways we have been enjoying them are:

On salads (with some more of The Grit's ranch dressing).

With hummus and sprouts. These little snacks look surprisingly elegant and are tasty, light, and perfect for an afternoon bite to eat.

I make a lot of smoothies, and this one was particularly delicious--peaches and raspberries, with cinnamon and ginger and a little scoop of cashew butter.

Sweet potato fries, spiced with cinnamon, chili powder, and cayenne. Another easy meal--15 minutes in the toaster oven, and perfect with a salad.

I made these cookies to help drag Bob out of bed on Saturday (ahem) afternoon... They're Dreena's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies, made with spelt flour and using carob chips in lieu of chocolate. They came out so soft and squishy and... unbeatable. We both thought this was the best batch of these cookies yet. I've stayed out of them pretty well, though--I've eaten about one of them over the course of the weekend. I'm still trying to tame my sweet tooth...

Today we went downtown to get a bite for lunch. I've blogged about the Raging Burrito before, but I wanted Bob to have a chance to try it. I ordered these veggie tacos, with grilled portabellas and peppers and salsa fresca and guacamole, and a side salad with sun-dried tomato-chipotle dressing. Bob ordered a burrito--a very tasty burrito, mind you, but not much to photograph. It was huge and he brought half of it home for dinner.

I checked out the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and decided to try the Colby Cheeze. I haven't really used it yet, but I've tasted it and I think it's... kind of bland, honestly. The pimiento flavor is overwhelming, and it's just missing something. Once I try it on something, I will let you know the final verdict.

That brings me to the end of the weekend. I hope you've all had a good one, and I wish you a fantastic week!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Quick and easy

I have a feeling that's how I'm going to like it for a while. As a tax professional I'll get really busy in the spring, until April 15... and really busy in the late summer/early fall, until October 15. And even though today was only my second day of work, I am already getting thrown right in.

Over the weekend I made another batch of the Classic White Uncheese from Vegan Vittles, and so this is a simple "melt" I made with the help of a Gardenburger patty. There was not much melting going on, as you can see... even though the recipe states that the cheese should get at least somewhat melty. Ah, well--I don't really know why it would, but it would have been a nice surprise, I guess.

Also from Vegan Vittles, Chuckwagon Stew. It's super hearty and filling, and it was easy with about 15 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of cooking time. The flavors aren't earth-shattering but it's good, and worth making when you have little time... although it's more of a cold-weather meal, really. A fresh, crisp salad put the summer back into this dinner.

For another, lighter meal, I made a simple tofu salad with fresh dill. It was great on a piece of toast with spinach and tomato slices, and perfect to take to work.

Sorry this has been so abrupt, but I'll have more time to post this weekend I think. Everyone, have an excellent week. I'll be back around soon.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The real world looms...

I went grocery shopping around noon yesterday--a very bold move since I had been up since before 7 that morning and had not yet had lunch. So when I went to the freezer case and spotted these Amy's burritos on special this week, I made an impulse decision that a black bean burrito would make the perfect lunch.

I've never tried any of the Amy's brand frozen products before, and I was quite impressed at how tasty a frozen burrito could be, topped with some salsa and enjoyed with a salad. Bob and I are both of the mindset that the "convenience food" craze is a very sad trend that not only impacts health but also people's connection to their food. However, when I was shopping yesterday I thought about both of us working full-time jobs, coming home tired and needing some relaxation time. I hope that I will find cooking dinner after work a way to relax sometimes, but... am I above eating a frozen burrito every now and then? Certainly not--I am glad that there is convenience food out there for me, even if I only want it to be an occasional thing.

I made these Sunny Blueberry-Corn Muffins from VWaV, and only as I was already mixing up the ingredients did it dawn on me that the 1/2 cup oil called for is A LOT of oil. Next time I'd really like to try and lower the fat content of these... but I have to admit, these are probably the best blueberry muffins I've ever tasted, with the lemon zest and the nice cornmeal texture. I'm staying out of them, though--I shared one with Bob and he's taking the rest to work to snack on and share.

I've been eating lots of salads lately, and I thought I'd take some pictures to prove it. One of my favorite varieties includes using mango chunks and Dreena's Simple Cider Vinaigrette (Vive).

I was not scheduled to start my new job until the 27th, but the company called me yesterday and asked if I'd be willing to start Monday--as in three days from now! Yikes--the real world looms larger than ever now, and Bob and I went out to dinner last night to celebrate my last weekend before jumping headfirst into full-fledged adult life.

I had read some reviews for this restaurant downtown called Thai Me Up--yes, Thai cuisine, as you may have guessed. It is very highly acclaimed, and I called to ask if it was vegan-friendly; I was assured that almost any order could be prepared to be vegan. So we got there at 6:00 and were able to take advantage of the early bird special--$10 per person for an appetizer, main course, and dessert.

Bob and I both chose the spring rolls to start, filled with shredded vegetables and black mushrooms and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. Delicious--though only after they came out did I realize that I had meant to order the summer rolls, which are the same as the spring rolls but not fried. My mistake--oops.

Bob ordered the Red Thai Curry, which was rich and only mildly spicy.

I ordered the vegan Pad Thai, sweet and nutty and lightly crunchy from the mung bean sprouts. I ate less than half before I was finished, and the rest came home. What you see surrounding the noodle dish are chunks of fried tofu. I don't know why, but I expected the tofu to be sautéed, not deep-fried... I ended up peeling off the breading and just eating the tofu out of the middle, and next time I'll see if I can get it sautéed or steamed or something instead.

We both chose raspberry sorbet for dessert. You can't really tell from this picture, but it was one scoop of sorbet served in a tiny glass with a tiny spoon. It was just enough dessert to be refreshing without being too heavy.

The atmosphere of the restaurant was light and easy, with simple decor centered around white, pink, and lavender. I wish I had taken a picture of the pretty paper lanterns that hung by the tables--everything about the place was just lovely. We'll be back.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me about local versus organic produce. It's been a difficult subject for me for quite awhile, because I see the merits in both choices... though I've generally chosen local when I've been faced with the decision. As I get used to my new surroundings and do some more research about what's around, I feel certain that I'll find farmers markets and CSAs where I can support both--and then I can have my local, organic cucumber, and eat it too!

That's all I have for now, friends. Enjoy your weekend, and think of me as I start my new job Monday! Cheers!

PS--Sorry I have not been responding to your comments lately, but until we get internet at our new place I won't have time. As soon as we do, though, I'm going to start responding to each of you again--I still appreciate and adore everything you have to say!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Some eats, some treats, and my dilemma

Thank you all so much for leaving your comments about my last post. I know when I get frustrated about our unyielding omnivorous society, I feel torn between being too passive--making people think I don't really find it that important--and too aggressive--shutting people's ears to what I'm saying. It helps to step back and let someone a little more removed from the situation give their opinions, and I appreciate the points each of you made.

Ahh... I've finally been doing a little more cooking these past few days, now that I'm feeling more "at home."

I spiced up these baked sweet potato fries with chili powder and lime juice, and I made a chipotle mayo dipping sauce that brought out a nice zing. I used about one teaspoon of chipotle paste to two tablespoons of Nayonaise.

Tofu scramble... Nothing special, but it sure was good.

I love graham crackers, and since packaged ones nearly always contain honey, I decided to try my hand at making my own, using the recipe in La Dolce Vegan! I don't know why I imagined these being so complicated to make but they were really quite easy, and have such a fresh and delicate flavor that could never compare to anything commercially produced. Does anyone know how long these will keep? Because around here, they lasted about... two days. Hee hee.

Daiku inspired this dish with his wonderfully fresh, beautiful potato salad. I looked at the picture but didn't read his recipe until after I had made mine... I'm surprised at how similar mine came out to his--but not really, I guess, since small waxy potatoes, fresh dill, crisp green beans, and a sweet and tangy vinaigrette make a wonderfully sweet and savory combination with a very satisfying bite. I left the potatoes slightly on the crunchy side. Perfect.

One of the simplest treats I've ever made is banana ice "cream." This time, I flavored it with cocoa powder and coffee extract--bananas and coffee pair surprisingly well together, you know!

I've had a bottle of Trader Joe's Mango Chili Vinegar waiting to be put to good use... Melody and Urban Vegan have both posted about this stuff. I liked the idea of a mango tofu stir-fry, though, so when Stonielove posted such a meal, I took a cue from her and created this meal. My friend Vesna came over and helped me make this one up, actually, and it was quite a sensation. I'll post the recipe for you at the end. A crisp green salad rounded out this meal.

And I'm going to leave you with another question. I have been eating about 75-80% organic, striving for 100%. Organic farming is something I (and I'm sure many of you) feel very strongly about, not only for health reasons but also for the environment... Conventional farming is brutal on the soil and on the air and water into which the chemicals leak--and while this method may yield more produce in the short run than organic farming, in the long run conventional agriculture is wholly unsustainable. However, what do you do when you go to buy produce and you have to choose between buying local or buying organic? Here's what happened: I went to the produce market to buy some cucumbers. The Georgia-grown conventional cucumbers were sitting in a bin right next to the California-grown organic ones. As much as I wanted to choose organic, I could not justify buying them all the way from California when I had an option that had been grown practically in my own backyard... so I chose the conventional ones instead. When organic local produce is not available, which do you choose to support?

Thanks for humoring yet another question from the brain of Laura. Have a wonderful week!

Mango Tofu Stir-Fry

1 pound tofu, drained, pressed, and cubed
2 teaspoons oil, divided
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 small yellow onion, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeño, minced, or more to taste
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon mango-chili vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
1 cup boiling water

Heat one teaspoon oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and add the tofu cubes. Cook, tossing frequently, until golden brown. Splash a bit of tamari into the pan and toss the tofu until well coated on all sides, then remove tofu from the pan and place on a clean towel.

Mix the tablespoon of tamari with the vinegar, ginger, and ketchup to make a sauce; set aside.

Place the couscous in a bowl and add the boiling water; cover and set aside for five minutes, until the couscous absorbs all the water. Fluff with a fork.

Clean out the pan and then add the remaining teaspoon of oil and heat over medium-high. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, and jalapeño, and sauté until the vegetables just begin to become tender. Add the mango and the tofu cubes and cook for another minute or so. Add the sauce mixture and toss just until everything is coated. Serve over couscous.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mixed reviews

Several of my friends from school were in town this week, and we all went out for a bite to eat. The restaurant selected is called R. Thomas, yet another veg-friendly place in Atlanta.

You can see from this picture that the decor was exotic--all the seating was on an outdoor patio, and despite the fact that it looked out on Peachtree Street (the main traffic vessel through downtown), it managed to conjure up the feeling of being on some tropical island. Perhaps the coolest thing was that all the light fixtures were decked out with red, blue, and green CFL bulbs!

I could not make up my mind about this place on a number of levels. One thing I really liked was their commitment to fresh, organic ingredients. They have an entire juice menu, for example, and they juice the fruits to order--straight from organic fruits, local whenever possible. They also had extensive vegan and even raw vegan selections on the menu--I ordered raw hummus with grilled vegetables and found it very satisfying.

Here's what bothered me: They touted their beef and chicken as being clean, humane, "happy" meat. Our waiter even said that since all their meat is free range and grass-fed, the restaurant shows great concern for animal welfare even in their omnivorous selections. Maybe I am too intolerant, but it really makes me angry when people say things like that. To me, it would almost be better if restaurants didn't claim that their meat was "cruelty-free" because then they are not misleading people into believing that animals would be well off if we all just started eating organic meat. It's ridiculous. Every time I have the opportunity, I explain to people that terms like "organic" and "free range" are more or less meaningless in the context of large-scale agriculture, and I find it to be such a setback when someone else comes along and claims differently. Which one do you think people are going to believe--the crazy, "extremist" vegan, or the guy who assures them that they can still enjoy their beef?

To the restaurant's credit, they do have an entire wall devoted to pamphlets promoting veganism and Farm Sanctuaries and other organizations that really do concern themselves with the welfare of animals. I don't understand why a place like that would even think it necessary to serve meat; there are about 1,001 steakhouses in Atlanta for people who just absolutely have to have their meat, so why does a restaurant that is obviously concerned with the ethics of eating feel like it should concede and serve meat, when they apparently know enough about the meat industry to promote veganism? It all just seems very deceptive to me.

Sorry, guys--I had to get that out. Please, tell me what you think. Am I just being crazy and touchy?

Anyway... here's what I've been cooking.

After thinking about this dish for quite awhile, I finally decided to make the broiled Japanese eggplant from Fatfree Vegan. It made a very elegant presentation, but it tasted... well, like eggplant. I like eggplant, but not this way--it didn't cook through very well and tasted spongy and bitter. The miso sauce was very good, though; I would make this again, but I would substitute zucchini next time--maybe some of the monster zucchini that some bloggers have been showcasing?

This next meal, however, does not receive a mixed review. I had some portabello caps waiting to be put to good use. I found some Follow Your Heart mozzarella cheese in the freezer. Put them together, and you get the Portabello Bagel Melt from Vive! I used a whole wheat bun in place of the bagel and steamed kale in place of the spinach, both making fine substitutions. The portabellos came out juicy and full of flavor, and the cheese got very satisfyingly melty. This sandwich needed nothing but a small dab of dijon mustard--perfect! Next time, I would love to try this with some roasted red peppers.

That's pretty much it for today. Peace!