Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Quick roundup

I will be taking a week or so off from blogging--I need to focus heavily on my studying responsibilities. Rest assured that I will be missing all your lovely blogs, and as soon as I get a chance I will catch up with every one of you! You are all very special people and I adore knowing you!

Before I sign off, I have some food photos that I want to share. Enjoy!

This is a recipe that I tested for Melody. Far East Spicy Tofu and Green Beans. My, this was delicious! The sauce was a complex balance between sweet, spicy, and savory, and the texture of the tofu paired well with the crisp green beans. Melody is quite a fabulous chef!

It was so lovely that I thought it deserved another shot...

I finally sucked up my fears and made seitan, using the Faux Chicken recipe in La Dolce Vegan. I was really amazed and intrigued by the whole process of making the seitan--a dough of wheat gluten and water is the stickiest substance I have ever encountered--and boiling it, watching it expand in the pot as it soaked up the broth. But it really was easy, and I don't know why I have been so reluctant to try it. It was very tasty--Bob thought so too, and he had never tasted seitan before. We just cut it up and cooked it like little "nuggets" and ate it with quinoa and a green salad. Next time perhaps I will try something a little more elaborate with it.

We had a fellowship lunch after church on Sunday, and I decided to contribute Red Bean Coleslaw from LDV. I used Sarah's "mayonnaise" recipe as well since I was almost out of Vegenaise... This dish was delicious and substantial. Since the theme of the lunch was a cookout, we took Boca burgers and Lightlife veggie dogs for ourselves. It was really nice, for a change, to be able to eat "normal" looking food along with everyone else (instead of just eating chips and salsa and a green salad with no dressing, as is often the case).

We took a trip to Bombay Cafe, our favorite restaurant. I didn't have my camera, but no worries--there were plenty of leftovers.

Bob got chana masala--hot and spicy and delicious, as always.

Mine was a dhal comprised of red and black lentils--I can't remember what it was called but it was quite spicy and heavy on the cardamom!

Guacamole, mmm. Modeled by Bob on a Trader Joe's veggie flax tortilla chip. Also yum.

More-ish Brownies from TEV. Dee-licious. Although I must say, being a fudgey brownie fan myself, I might prefer her brownies from Vive... but I don't know. Who can complain about brownies anyway?

With that, my friends, I bid you adieu. Just remember the Red River Valley... And I shall look forward to catching up with you all again soon!

Friday, March 23, 2007

A little less talk...

I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking in this post.

Calzones--marinara, mushrooms, green peppers, spinach, olives, basil-tofu ricotta. Funny story: After we made these and sealed them up tight, we realized we forgot to put the ricotta in! So we slit the top and started stuffing the ricotta in through the slits! That's why the slits look a bit stretched... End result was terrific, though.

A shot with the filling oozing out.

Our Korean dinner with Sean included:

More kamja bokum, this time with actual red peppers.

Baechu Kuksu Muchim, cabbage noodle salad. It used napa cabbage, onions, rice vermicelli, pine nuts, sesame seeds, and a tasty dressing of simply oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Quite yum.

Yesterday I made Cure What Ails Ya Garlic Soup, from La Dolce Vegan. This is my first recipe out of this book, and I made it quick because poor Bob was ailing with a sore throat and couldn't swallow any food. I swear, this perked him right up! A whole bulb of garlic ought to have some immediate effect on you--that's potent stuff.

I attended a Speak Out for Species meeting this week, where Lorena Mucke of the Christian Vegetarian Association spoke on sharing veganism with Christians. It was an awesome talk. Sadly, as a Christian and a vegan, I have found more animosity against the vegan lifestyle within the church than from any other group of people. Why should it be that way? The very ideals Jesus embodied were love, compassion, and mercy. Veganism extends that to all the animal kingdom, not just us humans. Every created thing is a reflection of God's love in some way, and He explicity charged mankind with the responsibility to care for it as He would--we are stewards of creation, not owners of it. No Christian can deny that. So I cannot understand why it is perceived as okay within the church to allow the horrifying treatment of animals that we all know goes on. Why do they shut their minds to it? It makes Bob and me feel so isolated sometimes. Anyway, it was refreshing and encouraging to hear Lorena talk.

You will get a longer, more cheerful post from me soon, I promise!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sorry, change of plans

In my last post I wrote that we were having Bob's Korean friend Sean over again Sunday night for another Korean meal. However, yesterday afternoon Sean called to say that something came up and he wouldn't be able to make it... so we rescheduled for Wednesday. Hopefully our cabbage will live that long!

In Sean's absence, I decided to make something last night that I have been eager to experiement with for awhile.

Seaweed Salad

1/2 cup dried hijiki
1/4 cup dried wakame
2 baby bok choy, thinly shredded
1 medium carrot, sliced into matchsticks
1 cup steamed edamame (run immediately under cold water to stop the cooking)

Rice vinegar
Sesame oil
Olive oil
Chili flakes
Minced ginger

Sea salt
Sesame seeds

Soak hijiki in cold water for 30 minutes to reconstitute, adding wakame during the last 10 minutes. Drain the seaweed well. Place all the veggies in a large bowl. Mix the dressing and let it steep for a few minutes, chili flakes, and minced ginger, and let it steep for just a few minutes. Pour dressing over the salad, and add some sea salt and some sesame seeds.

There was lots of extra, which is what I intended because I hope to make sushi again very soon--and seaweed salad is the perfect accompaniment to sushi. At first, the smell of the hijiki really turned me off--very fishy. But I ended up liking it very much, as there was a good mixture of flavors in the salad so that nothing was completely overwhelming.

This is just a baked sweet potato with some warmed-up black bean chili on top. I love sweet and spicy together--it was delicious and simple.

Speaking of sweet potatoes, when I found this recipe for sweet potato biscuits on Eat Air, I knew I had to try it. The dough was a sticky, sticky mess, but it was worth it--these were delicious. And it made about 10 biscuits, which means frozen leftovers! Score!

So what did I serve with the sweet potato biscuits? Barbecued tofu. I used a pound of extra-firm tofu, which had been frozen and rethawed; I pressed it, cut it into eight slices, and marinated it in the marinade from The Everyday Vegan's Tasty Tofu Tidbits (I added some crushed garlic to the marinade as well). After about half an hour, I brushed the tops of the tofu slices with barbecue sauce and broiled them for about 5 minutes, then took them out, flipped them, brushed the other side, and broiled for another 5 minutes. Done. It was delicious, though the texture was little squishy. Next time, I may try pan-searing them for just a couple of minutes to get the outside a little crispy.

To go with the tofu and biscuits, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Garlic, from VWaV. I have never liked brussels sprouts in my life, but I have heard that roasting them brings out their goodness so I wanted to give them one last try. Verdict? I like roasted brussels sprouts! I don't love them, and I think the recipe had a bit too much garlic in it for me, but I thought it was tasty anyway and ate these little guys right up.

My favorite quick morning oatmeal, this time with blackberries instead of blueberries. Mmm, I love blackberries.

Fantastic French Toast from Vive! I mixed the batter the night before in the Magic Bullet, so this morning when I got up early to study (ugh), it was easy to dip the bread and then throw it on the skillet. It was a treat to have something this good on a Monday morning! The topping is warmed organic blueberry preserves, reduced sugar and all-natural, from Trader Joe's. Yes, there are 4 Trader Joe's stores in Atlanta now, and we shop there every chance we get. Their preserves are amazing.

That's all, folks. I may be busy for the next several weeks, but I'll still be here. Actually, we are having dinner guests tonight, and personal pizzas are on the menu! So you will see that shortly, and the Korean food, and whatever else we cook up! You all are awesome, and I wish you a beautiful week and some spring weather coming your way!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Ethnic food, a thank you, and a serious matter

First I will start with the serious matter. Following is an excerpt from a statement by Al Gore, which I received in an e-mail notification from www.algore.com:

"On March 21st, I will testify before Congress on the immediate action that needs to be taken to end the climate crisis. At the hearing, I will deliver the 294,374 messages you signed, demonstrating that hundreds of thousands of people share my sense of urgency.

"If an additional 55,626 people sign our message, it will be as though 350,000 of us are there at the hearing expressing our determination to convince Congress to act. Having served in the House and Senate, I can tell you that members of these committees would find this to be a meaningful and impressive show of support.

"There are only 5 days left before the hearings begin, so please do not pass up this opportunity to join in showing the broad public support we need in order to solve the climate crisis."

If you want to sign, just follow this link. I don't know how much it will help, but it certainly can't hurt, right?

On to the food:

Just a simple hummus wrap made with a simple hummus. I used my standard hummus ingredients (tahini, lemon juice, garlic, etc.) but this time I added about 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin for an extra kick. For the wrap, I found that I like using my vegetable peeler to cut long, broad shavings of carrot--it's better than dicing it up. I don't like big chunks of raw carrot.

Bob has a friend named Sean who is a Korean exchange student, whom Bob meets with on a regular basis as sort of an American "mentor." Recently Sean said he has really been missing Korean food--but he lives in the dorms and is on the meal plan and doesn't really have much opportunity to cook. So Bob invited him over for a somewhat Korean meal. I say somewhat, because Bob and I know zero about Korean cuisine. With the help of a fellow blogger who has had some recent success with Korean cooking, we came up with a few ideas. The problem when Sean came over last night, though, was that Bob and I had just gotten home from Atlanta on an errand, and we were pressed for time. So we made a couple of simple things. Sean will be here again on Sunday, and we'll pull together something a little more elaborate then.

We started with just a bowl of steamed rice and some nori strips. You just take the nori strip and pinch a bit of rice with it, almost like ad hoc sushi rolls.

This is kamja bokum, fried red pepper potatoes. Unfortunately we didn't have a red bell pepper, so in the interest of time we subbed a green one. But the spices included red pepper, soy sauce, and sesame seeds, and it came together really nicely and really quickly. Sean said that it was very similar to the way his mother makes it, which Bob and I gladly accepted as a compliment since we really had no idea what it should taste like. It was very tasty, and it's always rewarding to cook something new. The plan for Sunday's meal is really exciting, and it involves Napa cabbage. So stay tuned!

Today we had a double date lunch scheduled with two of our dearest friends. There is a restaurant in town called Thai of Athens, which we have been hoping to try for quite some time, so we met there for lunch.

Bob and I each ordered a green tea; that's mine that you see in the foreground, in the pretty pot. In the background are some fried chips, which we dipped in a hot mustard and a sweet sauce.

Vegan tofu soup came with our vegetarian entrées.

Bob ordered the House Thai with sueyu. It had a sweet, tangy sauce and was quite delicious, with broccoli and snow peas and water chestnuts.

I ordered the Green Curry with tofu. It consisted of green beans, peppers, and other veggies in a sauce of green curry paste and coconut milk. Very, very spicy, but delicious.

This is not ethnic food, but it's cool. Our blender has been nearing the end of its life ever since we got it, second-hand. It just doesn't have much power anymore, and occasionally it doesn't work at all. Well, Bob's grandmother took me completely by surprise with a late birthday gift of some cash, so I used it to replace our old blender with a Magic Bullet blender! We've been playing with it nonstop over the past several days--it's amazing how it just whips together a smoothie in no time. It makes a really great frozen coffee drink too.

Finally, my thank you. When I named my blog Eden in the Kitchen, I did not anticipate a representative of Eden Foods stumbling across it and contacting me. But that's what happened. She offered me a spare copy of one of her favorite cookbooks, The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood. I gladly accepted--and today it arrived, along with an array of Eden Organics goodies! So, thank you Sue of Eden Foods--your very kind gesture certainly made my day.

Dried wakame, apple-flavored dried cranberries, and three boxes of whole grain pasta: udon noodles, kamut elbows, and spelt ziti rigati. And not only the whole grains cookbook, but a copy of The New Soy Cookbook by Lorna Sass. Not to mention a booklet of recipes and coupons for Eden products. It certainly made my last day of spring break (not counting the weekend, of course) a good one.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lotsa fun

Pretty big post coming at you, so sit back...

A week or so ago, Bob and I went to a vegan cooking class at our health food store, Earth Fare. The event was sponsored through UGA's Speak Out for Species, and it was fun to be around so many vegans--the chef was not vegan, though he was cooking vegan for all of us, so it was almost as if the tables were turned in our favor, for once! Anyway, he shared this incredible recipe with us for mocha chocolate pie, which Bob and I promptly tried out for ourselves.

Mocha Chocolate Pie

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup Kahlùa (or cold coffee)
1 block silken tofu
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup or other honey substitute
1 graham cracker pie crust

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, then remove from heat and stir in the liqueur, vanilla, and syrup. In a blender, whiz the tofu until smooth, then add the chocolate mixture and blend together. Pour into the pie crust and chill 4 hours, until firm.

It's that easy and that delicious. We shared it with some of Bob's family and they immediately demanded the recipe.

I had an eggplant sitting around that I needed to cook, so I started hunting all your blogs for a good eggplant recipe. I found one here that sounds delicious (and I am sure I will try it soon!), but then I remembered that I have been meaning to try Fatfree Vegan's eggplant parmesan, which has been raved about over and over in the blogging community. It took quite a while to put together and made a mess of quite a few dishes, but in the end it was completely worth it. Delicious--so creamy and flavorful.

Reading fellow bloggers' comments, it seems that many people had a problem with the dish being mushy. I didn't have that problem. I ended up baking it about 40 minutes and then let it sit for 10 minutes before serving, and it came out fairly clean and solid.

I served the eggplant parmesan with a spinach salad and this lite goddess dressing, also from Fatfree Vegan. This dressing is so good, and contains far less fat than Annie's Goddess Dressing. I ended up adding more soy sauce to the dressing than the recipe called for, which gave it a bit more flavor and thinned it out a bit (because when I first made it, it got almost solid in the refrigerator).

As you might remember, I have been really trying to add some more variety to my breakfasts in the mornings. It's been going really well--I've been eating a lot of oatmeal, but oatmeal can be varied endlessly so it's been fun to play with. And, I've learned that you can cook oatmeal in the microwave with great results, which makes it actually do-able for rushed mornings. The best oatmeal recipe I've come up with so far is this:

1/2 cup rolled oats soaked in 1/2 cup soy milk for 10 minutes
1/4 cup applesauce
Frozen blueberries
Maple syrup
Ground flax seed meal

Microwave for about 2 minutes, then stir in the flax seeds and some extra milk and enjoy!

This one is oats soaked in soy milk, then I added 1/2 a banana, maple syrup, and cinnamon. It's really good with peanut butter stirred in at the end. Yum!

Mixed grain porridge. It contains brown and wild rice, millet, amaranth, and barley. I added cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, and then stirred in some maple syrup and raisins and some soy milk. It was pretty good, but it's better left over.

These pancakes from The Grit Cookbook were a weekend treat. I used white whole wheat flour, which I just recently tried for the first time. It was great in the pancakes, and I'm having fun learning how to put it in everything! These I served with sliced bananas and some warmed strawberry preserves. Pancakes are Bob's favorite breakfast, and he loved these.

Speaking of The Grit, I still had a gift card for a meal there that I received for my birthday. It was a beautiful day today, and Bob and I decided to walk to The Grit for lunch. This time, I remembered to take my camera.

We sat outside and took in the beautiful 80 degree weather. Bob ordered the Mid-E Platter with falafel, hummus, and tabbouli salad:

And I went with the day's Noodle Bowl, which was grilled tofu and veggies in a wasabi-coconut sauce.

Very decadent and full of flavor. Their noodle bowl changes daily, but I've never had one that disappointed me. We considered getting a vegan grasshopper cupcake for dessert, but we both had such a filling lunch that we had to skip it.

We also stopped by our Asian market today, and I was so excited about our findings that I wanted to share them.

Dried wakame and hijiki, some nori strips, rice noodles, green and red Thai curry paste, bok choy, Thai eggplants, Napa cabbage. $14.40 total. Later this week, I will show you what we make with all this stuff!

Friday, March 09, 2007

My disappearing act...

What can I say? I haven't blogged in a week and a half, and I haven't been commenting much either. At some point recently, I realized that I am registered to take part of the CPA exam on April 10, and I have to be ready by then. And I have to keep up with my classes too. So in the next couple of weeks or so, I may not be blogging a whole lot. I'll be peeking at all your blogs, but forgive me if I don't comment very often--if I start, then I will get sucked in and then never get anything done. I'll try not to vanish completely.

So what have I been cooking these days? Mostly, we have been eating really simple, quick meals--black beans and rice, sloppy lentils, salads, steamed edamame, and such. Nothing too fancy or creative. I did make this baked potato with steamed broccoli and cheesy sauce one night, that I thought was photo-worthy.

Last Saturday, my friends James and Kristina got married. Since James's favorite dessert is apple pie, they decided to have that as the groom's "cake" at their reception, and my friend Mary and I baked the pies. We made nine pies, eight "regular" and one vegan (though the only difference was Earth Balance vs. butter in the sauce), starting at 10:30 on Saturday morning and finally finishing, with cleanup time included, at 5:00 in the afternoon. Wow! Neither of us had anticipated it taking so long! But it was such a fun project, and very rewarding to see our pies displayed beautifully at the reception. All in all, it may have been the loveliest wedding reception I have ever been to, and it wasn't extremely elaborate. Who says you have to go into debt to have a beautiful wedding?

This upcoming week is my spring break. This means that I may have a little bit more time to cook and blog and such. I have some study goals to reach for the week that I am going to do my very best to stick to, but I also have a few cooking projects I want to dive into. Happy weekend, everyone! I hope to catch up with each of you sometime soon.