Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30. Lazy Rice Bowls

I wish that I could unveil some grand finale - a meal that would convince even the harshest of our critics that vegan eating was truly the path the happiness. Sadly, this is not the case.

So many of us are working through MoFo burnout. Posting every day can be rough. Eventually you wonder, does anyone care that I made scones today? No, probably not. However, it was all worth it. I made it 30 days when I hadn't posted 30 entries period.

As much as I love cooking, I get burnt out on that too. That's when rice bowls become my best friend. All I have to do is make the rice and the dressing, and then add in whatever veggies I have. It's a great way to use up those bits and pieces too.

For the pictured bowl, I had the green parts of two leeks left from other recipes, carrots, broccoli, and chickpeas. Once the rice cooked, I just threw everything in the pot, let the hot rice steam the veggies and added improvised dressing.

Monday, November 29, 2010

29. Day After Breakfast

With my parents visiting for Thanksgiving, I had to make sure that breakfast the next day lived up to the precedent set by the Thanksgiving meal. Naturally, I turned to Vegan Brunch for quiche and sausages. The sausage technique was intimidating to read, but actually very easy to carry out and worked beautifully. Breakfast was a hit and my reputation for cooking was maintained.

We made sure to have more Vegan Treats cake for post-breakfast dessert.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

28. Thanksgiving!

You may have thought you were past all the USA Thanksgiving posts, but you were wrong. My parents and I celebrated it on Saturday because that worked better with our schedules. I'm going to keep it brief though because I'm still stuffed. I present my menu and appropriate pictures. You may notice that a lot of these come from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. Last year I had just begun cooking and found the blog and went with her suggestions for dinner for myself. I did the same this year because it worked so well and I wanted my parents to taste it all.

Please note my seasonally-appropriate tablecloth here.

Mushroom, Lentil, and Wild Rice Timbales with Impromptu Gravy
The Best Vegan Green Bean Casserole
My Family’s Cranberry Relish Recipe
Kicked Up Maque Choux (veganized)
Mashed Potatoes
Candied Sweet Potatoes (courtesy of my mom)
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake (courtesy of my parents)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

27. Tomato Rosemary Scones

Today my parents and I celebrated Thanksgiving, so I am stuffed and pretty close to the deadline for this post. I'll get the Thanksgiving post up in a day or so, but I baked Tomato Rosemary scones ahead of time from Vegan Brunch to have on hand during the cooking.

They turned out so well that after a long campaign, the original Candy Beans successfully liberated one without me knowing while I was in the room. I caught her with her bounty in the next room over a bit later.

Friday, November 26, 2010

26. Feijoada and Orange Rice

I love oranges - they're so sharp and sweet, and the flavor works with so much, including chocolate. But I would have never thought to combine orange and rice. Lucky for me, I have Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan.

I made Romero's Savory Orange Rice, Brazilian Style, as an accompaniment for Portobello Feijoada.

These dishes worked perfectly together. The Feijoada is good, but the rice stole the show. Though it's savory, there is a sweetness to it thanks to the orange juice. I could probably eat this rice every day forever.

This was just one more pair of dishes that prove, scientifically, without doubt that Viva Vegan is worth its weight in gold.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

25. Biscuits and Gravy

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it. I hope you all remembered to sponsor a turkey at Farm Sanctuary or a similar organization if it was in your budget to do so.

Because of my work schedule, I'll be celebrating over the weekend, so my Thanksgiving feast posts will follow. For now, enjoy reading about biscuits!

About a year ago, when I started really cooking for myself, I spent some time online looking for recipes and ideas. I don't know why Biscuits and Gravy blipped on my radar. I'd never had them pre-vegan days, but for whatever reason, I printed the recipe, and have made it dozens of times since.

One of the best things about it is that it doesn't take all that long to make, but is so deeply satisfying. It pairs wonderfully with tofu scramble or your preferred sausage-style food, and a cup of coffee.

I found the biscuit recipe at Vegan Explosion. The gravy recipe is linked to on the same page, but it leads to a dead end. I've written asking permission to reprint the recipe, and as of this posting have not heard back. I will update if needed. In the meantime, I recomend the Navy Bean Gravy from Vegan Brunch or Tofu Mom's Basic White Gravy a substitutes. Or, if you know of another great biscuit gravy, comment here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bonus: Two More Give-Away Wins!

I am one lucky duck! I won two more MoFo give-aways.

One was actually a few days ago, but I've been traveling, so the update is late. I won the new ebook, Soups, Stews & Chili - Vegan Recipes to Warm Your Soul, from Cooking for a Vegan Lover! I can't wait to try some of these during the cold winter months ... especially if the DC metro area gets a sequel to last years Snowmaggedon.

The second was just today, when I scored a copy of
Vegan Fire & Spice from Vegan Planet. As I write this, it occurs to me that this book is also an excellent one for cold winter months with its spicy international dishes.

Big thanks to these generous bloggers. Vegan Planet has another give-away, this time for Party Vegan, going on today. I'm out of the running, since I just won, and others deserve a shot at this level of joy. Good luck.

Bonus: Vegan Corner

Vegan Corner launches soon, and it may be even better than combing multi-page PPK threads about the best places to eat an shop in the cities you're visiting. Best part? 10% of proceeds go back to the animals. I can't say much about it that isn't already nicely summed up in the press release, so here's an excerpt:

... entrepreneurs and animal-rights advocates Nathan & Adriana Pope have announced their company, Vegan Corner to launch on December 1st, 2010. Vegan Corner is the world’s largest vegan business directory, with a comprehensive listing of every vegan and vegan-friendly business worldwide, complete with reviews written by fellow plant eaters and health-conscious foodies alike.

While you're at it, check out Sparrow Media. The campaign for a variety of humanitarian causes, including veganism, so the next time some one tries to sass you about helping humans, you can (very kindly) point out that your compassion extends to all animals.

24. Capital City Cheesecake

Vegan Treats is the reigning champion of commercial vegan cheesecake, but I am all for others taking a shot at the crown. While Capital City Cheesecake won't dethrone VT anytime soon (not a chance, since it's not a vegan joint), it at least remembers we vegans in its menu. Currently, there's only one vegan cheesecake available and it's plain, but the lovely staff are willing to top it with whatever you'd like, so points for that. And it's pretty good. (Pardon the phone picture).

I actually haven't had a plain cheesecake in ages. Here at home, I make Pumpkin Cheesecake or any one of the flavors from Vegan Planet. I don't know if I've ever seen a plain cheesecake at VT - but I've had lemon, raspberry, chocolate, pumpkin, peanut butter, and mint. I think they have plain topped with strawberries or cherries, but I get distracted by the more colorful options.

At the end of the day, I'm happy to see restaurants offering vegan options and using the word "vegan." It means they're aware of us and the options, it brings it to the attention of others, and it's normalizing. Of course I'll join you for cheesecake, and no we don't have to make the 3 hour trip to Bethlehem, PA. Besides, they had good coffee and vanilla (bonus points) soy milk to add to it.

I think I'll add them to my letter-writing list. Plain may be a nice change for me, but I'd like to see their Oreo cheesecake veganized.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

23. White Orchids

I went to high school in the Lehigh Valley, PA, and I can assure you that it was never the happening place back then. I wasn't a vegan at the time, but I was vegetarian living on french fries mostly.

Now that I've moved away, several vegan-friendly spots have popped up. These places aren't vegan-friendly as in they'll hold the cheese, chicken, and ranch on the house salad for you; these places actually use the word "vegan" on their menus.

Vegan Treats is a bit of a given there, but another place that welcomes vegans is White Orchids in Center Valley. This Thai restaurant has become a family favorite. It's beautifully decorated inside and there are vegan and gluten-free menus that offer a variety of dishes to satisfy any taste.

On my most recent trip, I had fragrant Jasmine Tea, spicy Masaman Curry, Cool and Refreshing Summer Rolls, Pineapple Fried Rice, and Som Tum (papaya salad). I shared all of these dishes, or I would have exploded, and had the leftovers for dinner. There are a lot of Thai places in D.C., but honestly not one has come close in taste or vegan access to White Orchids. They get that vegan means no fish sauce. And I never imagined I'd live to see the words "vegan menu" at any restaurant in the Valley.

Monday, November 22, 2010

22. Vegan Treats

Hanging with my parents is always a good time for a vegan, especially since they live in the Lehigh Valley, PA, home to Vegan Treats. This bakery has some of the most beautiful and rich desserts I have ever seen or tasted. I've heard the same from others, both vegans and omnis.

On my most recent trip, I played adviser to a woman who had tasted them at her church and had to have more.

Vegan Treats ships to restaurants in NYC, Philly, and D.C., but there is nothing quite like making the pilgrimage and buying six tiny cakes (two to eat at the shop with coffee and four to take home).

The two varieties that I consider staples are the peanut butter bomb and the brownie-topped cheesecake. Of course, if you're missing soft-serve coated in sprinkles, donuts, sticky buns, or seasonal treats, they can help you out too.

Vegan Treats is one more reminder that veganism is not synonymous with sacrifice.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

21. Baking with Persimmon

Up until a few weeks ago, I couldn't have picked a persimmon out of a line up. But they started appearing at my market, and I was curious. But like all things new to me, they were frightening. I've learned my lesson when it comes to buying things because I might be able to make something out of them. This goes for everything from food to the fringe you see on old lamps. So I just kept passing them by.

Then I saw this post about using them in baked goods and decided that the best thing to do was exactly what this post said.

So I started by making the Persimmon Cinnacrunch Muffins, a variation on those found in American Vegan Kitchen.

They turned out wonderfully and got rave reviews from the family.

I had plenty of left over pulp, so I decided to make some cookies. I hadn't printed any recipes, and none of my books had one, so I looked up a bunch, then sort of just made it up. It's crazy simple, and turned out really well. Except they're not terribly attractive. I generally prefer to have no dried fruit or nuts in my cookies, but it seems like people do that a lot with persimmons. I might be persuaded to try white chocolate chips though. I was going to frost these, but had lots to do and got lazy. Maybe I'll get inspired when I defrost the batch I froze.

I included the recipe below. They were pretty sweet, so next time I'll probably go to 3/4 a cup of sugar. Here's the recipe - let me know if you have any great ideas for jazzing it up.

Persimmon Cookies

•1/2 cup shortening
•1 cup white sugar
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•2 cups all-purpose flour
•1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
•1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1 cup persimmon pulp

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease cookie sheets.
2. Cream together the shortening, sugar, and vanilla.
3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add to the creamed sugar mix.
4. Stir in the persimmon pulp.
5. Drop by the tablespoonful onto cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

20. Dengu, Chapitis, and Sweet Potatoes

This was another simple, inexpensive, and yet incredibly satisfying meal courtesy of The World in your Kitchen. I chose the Dengu because it featured mung beans, something I'd never eaten! They'd been on my to-try list since I spotted them in the bulk bins at MOM's. The recipe suggested Chapitis (flat bread) from the book and sweet potatoes.

In a stroke of inspiration, I cracked open a can of pineapple and roasted it with the sweet potatoes. The dengu had all of five ingredients and was sweet and flavorful. The bread was actually more difficult to make because of all of the kneading. I've never kneaded dough before in any meaningful way.

The dengu came together crazy fast, once the mung beans were cooked up, and was lovely garnished with red pepper. That was fortunate, since I was hungry, which hopefully explains the somewhat poorly composed dish pictured below.

In other news, my win from Miso For Breakfast arrived! After it passed inspection, I was able to add Tal Ronnen's The Conscious Cook to my collection. I'm looking forward to making myself a fancy-pants meal from it to celebrate the end of the semester.

Friday, November 19, 2010

19. Brownies, Slighty Imperfect

The quickest way to get on my bad side is to complain about the texture of my brownies. I never even knew there was a fudgy/cakey debate until I shared a batch of vegan brownies with a non-vegan friend. She took a bite and then said, ""Oh these are more cakey." Something about her tone really grated on my nerves.

Since then, I've bitterly searched for proof that there is a vegan brownie that can satisfy even the whiniest of our critics.

Now, I'm pretty satisfied these days using the Cafe au Soja Lait (blurrily pictured) or the Cookies ‘n Fudge Brownies from Hannah Kaminsky's Blondies and Brownies eBook. I also really love the Cheesecake and Pumpkin Brownies found in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, but I still don't have a favorite unadorned brownie recipe - especially one that yields crinkly-top brownies.

So when I stumbled upon this post at Not A Rabbit, I was intrigued. I didn't have the required ingredients for the Not A Rabbit version, but I had everything for her source, Wing-It Vegan's Eureka Brownies!

They turned out to be pretty good. They do have more of a shine or crinkle than other brownies I've made, but I wouldn't say it's comparable to the boxed kind. They taste good, but they don't taste junky enough. The whole wheat pastry flour is detectable, but the coconut milk really adds an extra something. Also, they sort of fell apart when I took them out of the pan. I think I may have cooked them a little too long - I went to the upper end of the range on the baking time. And I should have doubled the recipe, as suggested by Wing-It.

However, after a night of refrigeration, the brownies became fudgier. I think that had I been patient, and let them cool completely, and maybe even refrigerated them, they would have been beautiful.

So there we go, next time, I'll double the batch, I'll use half all purpose flour, I'll bake for a minute less, then I'll cool completely and refrigerate before cutting.

All in all, this is a recipe worth trying out. Grinding down the sugar was new to me, but I could see the difference it made. I used a coffee bean grinder.

So give it a try! I still plan on trying out Not A Rabbit's version. Let me know what adjustments you make, if any.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

18. Two American Vegan Kitchen Comfort Meals

I've had American Vegan Kitchen since it was released, but it is (was) one of the underused books in my collection. There are two reasons for this, and I'm the first to admit that they aren't very good ones.

First, the book seemed to rely heavily on the use of seitan. I say seemed because I came to that conclusion and never sought to confirm it. I don't have anything against seitan, but the curry dish at Baltimore's The Yabba Pot was so meaty in texture that I got it in my head that I didn't like seitan at all. Though it's not my favorite, I've found that I sometimes enjoy it. More importantly though, there are plenty of seitan-free recipes in AVK!

Second, most of the recipes have very long ingredient lists. This is, hands down, one of the worst reasons to avoid making a recipe. Really, it doesn't add all that much more time on to the prep. Plus, more ingredients can, as in the case of these recipes, lend to a depth of flavor that can't be beat. On a busy night, a five-ingredient dinner is a welcomed blessing, but you also deserve the complex and gratifying meals that can come from long ingredient lists. Besides, as is common, most of the ingredients are herbs and spices, so that's easy.

Now, in my defense, I did make the Cinnacrunch Muffins early on. These are the muffins you serve to coworkers when they give you a hard time about what you eat. They bake up big with a crisp muffin top and soft, sweet interior. These muffins are beautiful, but sadly my photography is not. The pictures I took turned out poorly, but be on the lookout - I intend to make Jen's Persimmon Variation this week.

I also made the Tempeh Stroganoff-Stuffed Potatoes. These were incredible - I almost ruined them by eating too much of the tempeh stuffing with a spoon.

So don't repeat my mistakes. Get this book and make the recipes.

In the past week I've made both the Tuna Free Noodle Casserole and the Cajun Pot Pie. Both had long ingredient lists, and both were worth it!

The Tuna Free Noodle Casserole took some time to put together, but I was watching NCIS at the time, so I probably could have been faster if I wasn't searching in vain for more information on the relationship between Tony and Zhiva. (Is anyone else going crazy over this? It's had me hopping since season 3, and then last season with Paris - oy.)

I had previously made the All-American Spice Blend, so I just had to gather the other ingredients. I'm pretty sure you could make the components one day, then combine and bake them the next.

However you decide to do it, you won't be sorry. This casserole exceeded my expectations and reheated beautifully the next day. It's extremely satisfying and although I've never had a tuna casserole, I don't think anyone would be dissatisfied by this dish.

The other dish I made was the Cajun Pot Pie. And when I say I made it, I mean I made the dough, and put it in the refrigerator, and I defrosted the peas. The actual assembly and cooking was not my doing.

But it was a wonderful sight and smell to come home to from class. It was massive and loomed up out of the pie plate, but there was nothing frightening about it. It was delicious! A perfect warming dish on a cold night. I wanted to eat an entire pie myself while watching True Blood. (I just got into this b/c I found out that the wicked-talented Michael Raymond James plays Rene. He's wonderful in Terriers). And I daresay it's even better reheated the next day.

Unfortunately, it was hard to extract from the pie plate without turning it into a pile, but I'm sure you'll forgive me of that - especially since I have the Tuna Free Noodle Casserole recipe for you here, courtesy of the generous Tamasin Noyes. So put on some NCIS or your crime procedural of choice, whip up this dish, and then order the book, because it's worth having!

Tuna Free Noodle Casserole


2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. soy sauce, divided
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. All-American Spice Blend or other spice blend
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. salt, divided
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 - 15 oz. can chick peas, drained & rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup raw cashews
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 artichoke hearts, packed in water, drained and chopped
8 oz. vegan ribbon-style noodles
2 tbsp. vegan margarine
1/2 cup chopped leek, white part only
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
5 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup dry sherry or dry white wine
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cooked peas
Black pepper

Crumb Topping
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil a 2 1/2 quart casserole and set aside.

2. In a shallow baking pan, combine the oil, 1 tbsp. of the soy sauce, the vinegar, spice blend, paprika, white pepper, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and the chick peas. Toss to coat, then roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and set aside.

3. In a blender, combine the broth and cashews and blend until smooth, at least 3 minutes. Add the mustard and artichoke hearts, and blend until smooth. Set aside.

4. Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

5. Heat the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leek, bell pepper, mushrooms, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms release their liquid. Add the sherry and the remaining 2 tbsp. soy sauce. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the tarragon, thyme, and parsley. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and stir to coat. Add the reserved cashew mixture, reserved chick pea mixture, peas, and pepper to taste. Stir to mix well and heat through.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl combine the noodles, and the reserved chick pea/vegetable mixture. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings and transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Set aside.

7. In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and mix well. Spring the crumb mixture over the casserole and cover tightly with foil. Bake 30 minutes, then remove the foil and broil on low until the crumbs are browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

(Recipe from American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes (c) 2010. Used by permission Vegan Heritage Press.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bonus: Give-Aways

For The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook at I eat trees. I feel a little guilty that by blogging about this, I get an extra chance to win, but since I blog give-aways all the time, I'm not going to beat myself up about it too much. The post is a few days old, but you still have time. The deadline is Saturday, November 20th.

For Vegan Fire and Spice at Vegan Planet.

And don't forget Celyn's daily give-aways at Miso For Breakfast.

So what did I miss?

17. More From LA: Pure Luck and Cush Salon

ETA: Sorry for the crazy picture issues - it looked so pretty in draft mode!

Amazing! This Burrito and Corn Chowder (above) and BBQ Sandwich (below) are on the menu at Pure Luck, in LA. I don't see any desserts on their menu though - that makes me wonder ...

Meanwhile, if you're a busy vegan who needs to have great hair* and a meal, but doesn't have the time to go to separate establishments for each, Cush Salon in Beverly Hills can help you out with a vegan wrap sandwich. The Hair Cuttery near my house has a 7-11 next door and 7-11 has some fun accidentally vegan snack food. It's kind of the same thing, right?

*I don't condone the use of half and half ;)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

16. My Favorite MoFo Themes

We are half way through the Month of Vegan Food! I've loved every post of it so far. I was never religious about posting before, but I've done every day, and all of them in advance so far. The best part for me has been the sense of freedom. I feel no guilt for short, fun, food-related posts.

However, I didn't start that way. I had a lot of anxiety about having no theme. So many bloggers have chosen exciting, and creative themes, and I want to be one of those.

But my theme for life is busy - work, school, dance - I work hard to make certain things like reading for pleasure, and cooking a priority. So I'm actually happy to just be making daily posts. In the future, I'll try to come up with the theme to end themes, but for now, you get what you get.

Well, actually what you get is a list of my favorite themes and descriptions quoted from the bloggers that dreamed them up. This is in no way comprehensive. My strategy for blog reading has been to open the reader and and click about at different points on the list. The blogs below are ones I happen to come across and fancy the theme. They're in no particular order. And if your wicked cool theme isn't listed here, let me know in the comments and I will avenge you!

Carnal Vegan
... so for vegan mofo my plan is to post about some cultural food-related moments that i find particularly interesting, each hopefully accompanied by some minor analysis or just a quick thought about its significance.

Rose's Random Road Trip
My theme this year will be a random road trip. The idea is to use the random geo-location generator from random.org to generate the destinations ... This will provide me with the locations for the "road trip" ...

Madcap Cupcake's Holiday Cookie Project
This year I thought I’d keep the focus on the sweet. I’m thinking cookies – holiday cookies, specifically. This was my line of thought – by the time this month is done, the Holiday season will be upon us and (this is when inspiration struck) since every year I like to make cookies for friends and family (and sometimes it’s a challenge to find the time to experiment with a lot of new cookies), why not make MoFo 2010 into my personal Holiday Cookie Project. You see, by the end of the month I shall have tried and tested over two dozen different cookies – and the best of the best of these little sweeties will see their way into Holiday spreads and gift baskets galore.

Vegan Eats & Treats
Today is day one of the Vegan Month of Food, and I will attempt to blog every day this month. Furthermore! I am going to take you on a grand adventure... Around the World in 30 Days. Every day this month, I will feature a different meal from a different country. What fun!

In My Vegan Life
My MoFo theme this year is “Veganizing Family Recipes,” and I’m having a ton of fun sifting through my recipe cards, asking relatives questions about their famous dishes, and often challenging myself to come up with vegan solutions to hurdles like “corned beef.”

Weekly Vegan Menu
For the following month we are recreating restaurant food for your home. Don't live near Millennium? No problem. Applebee's uses meat? We got it covered. Desserts use eggs and dairy? Sink your sweet tooth into November.

This month we are traveling all over the U.S. making signature meals - yes, not dishes, but meals! - from top vegan, vegetarian and popular restaurants.

Vegan Food; More Than Tofu and Sprouts!
Not only will I be participating in this month's web-famous "VEGAN MOFO" Month-Of-Vegan-Food Blogger's Challenge, but I've also accepted a further (and crazier) challenge from the lovely and über-talented super-blogger Jess Scone (Of "Get Sconed" and "Stumptown Vegans" fame) : To blog 30 DAYS OF VEGAN GRAVY!

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: The Vegan Version
I'm always veganizing recipes that I love - or ones that just look or sound good...

sometimes successfully - sometimes not...

Messy Vegetarian Cook
In celebration of the Vegan Month of Food 2010, the Messy Vegetarian Cook is going South-East Asian! Coconut, rice, noodles, bananas and leaves, chili, pandan, woks, steamers, tofu, and more!

The I-40 Kitchen
This year for Vegan MoFo, I am going to explore recipes from old vegan or vegetarian cookbooks. I will write more about some of the books and authors as the month progresses.

Juu's German Kitchen
Imagine my kitchen would be a time machine and it is going to sent me back to 1910. Of course I'm not going to leave my hometown so I'm going to find myself standing in a kitchen inside of an old house somewhere in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Rear View Vegetarian
Rather than examining items (recipes and books and ideas oh my!) in my usual somewhat anarchic style I'm going with a plotted narrative. Complete with characters and cliffhangers and episodic storytelling.

Cupcake Kitteh
Earlier this year I participated in River's E.A.T World challenge, I made recipes from France, the Caribbean and Central & South America. I've decided to continue on with the E.A.T World challenge as my VeganMofo theme. I'll be visiting a different country each day, veganising traditional meals as well as making them gluten and soy free.

Lazy Smurf's Guide to Life
Rice and beans.

Scratch and Sniff
For the month of November, I'll be blogging about packing vegan lunches for adults. If there's anything you ever wanted to know about how one lazy person can save money, eat healthfully, reduce her environmental footprint, and prevent animal cruelty all through the power of a satisfying lunch, ask in the comments.

I had month-long themes in mind when I started, but the good people at the PPK forums pointed out some really cool week-long themes and weekly serials and I couldn't resist including them. I know these are for last week, but it's worth going back to read them.

Down Home Vegan: Magazine Week
This week, I'm going to embark on a theme I was going to do last year, but ran out of weeks. Each day will feature a different cooking magazine's recipe that I will veganize, or simply just use as an inspiration.

Seitan Said Dance: Comic Book Week
It's a new week, so I've got a new theme. This week's theme is comic books. Yup. I'm going to write five posts about food inspired by comic books and it's going to be just as nerdy as you expect it to be.

Vegan in Brighton: Cook Book Challenge
I have A LOT of cookbooks and I feel that most of them really don't get used enough. Although I do genuinely love to cook I often find myself relying quite heavily on processed foods & (delicious) meat substitutes - I'd like this to change & MoFo seemed like a good time for a challenge. So, I made a list of all the cookbooks I have & would like to use more & all week I'll be picking the name of a cookbook from [a] pile...

Panda With Cookie: Tasteless Tablescapes
Tablescapes! Such a hot topic these days. Now if you are like me you don't have the cash to buy a bunch of pretty, fancy dishes to suit the multiple tablecloths, vases and outfits you plan to decorate your table with. So I will provide you with some simple ideas that anyone can use to make their next dinner party fun!

What are your favorite themes this MoFo?

Even though this entry took me longer than most of the others, I feel like I'm cheating. This post isn't really about vegan food, it's about what others are doing with vegan foods. So I leave you with this:

I needed a convenient and easy weekend lunch while in the middle of writing a research proposal that was due soon. I found the answer to that in Robin Robertson's 1000 Vegan Recipes. The Curried Walnut "Chicken" Salad was my first foray into the word of curried salads. I've seen plenty of recipes for it, but it always sounded sort of icky.

But I got brave - I wanted to make something with seitan, and this was easy. I didn't use homemade seitan - that's an experiment for another day - but I found some in the store.

This came together very quickly and was delicious and satisfying. It's not the most photogenic food in the world, but at least the lettuce is pretty!

Monday, November 15, 2010

15. Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

I forgave my best buddy for eating my cookies, of course. I explained to him how it made me feel to come home and find my cookies gone, especially since I had not yet photographed them. I cleaned up the Tupperware and sat on the stairs so he could come over and be petted. Once we made up, I knew the only sensible thing to do was to make more cookies.

However, since I was low on brown sugar, more chocolate chip was not in the cards - or so I thought ...

But I decided to try something I've been meaning to for a very long time, Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles from Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar. I'm way behind on the wave of love these cookies got back in 2009. The recipe has long been posted on the PPK blog. So if you don't have the book, you can still make them.

And trust me, you should make them. But follow the directions ... I did not and my cookies all smashed together while baking, creating some pretty ugly shapes. (Trust me, the other cookie sheet had the really ugly ones, but I was too ashamed to document that).

Lucky for me, the odd shape did not effect the taste! These cookies have the potential to be gorgeous, but the taste is really what's worth showing off. They're sweet in a sophisticated way and at the end of each bite, there's a kick from the cayenne. They're the kind of cookies you might serve to your book club and give a smug little half-smile when they exclaim about how cosmopolitan you are, with your spicy-hot cookies and your espresso machine. Undoubtedly, someone would be reminded of studying in Mexico and observing el Día de los Muertos (spoken in accent) with the local people in their humble village.

I'm not really that kind of a jerk - I just fantasize about being one - not the study abroad one, but the book group-hosting one.

No matter what kind of jerk you are, I urge you to make these cookies. And I apologize for the somewhat retina-searing quality of that last picture. The sugar on top reflects sunlight like you wouldn't believe.

And check out this how-to video if reading the recipe represents more work than you're willing to do.

I didn't forget about the chocolate chip cookies; I made those too. I was just a little bit short on the brown sugar, so they didn't have the rich, caramel-y, vanilla-y goodness like the ones Mr. D ate did, but that's not enough to stop me from eating them.

I wouldn't feed these to my book group (those snobs!), but I would happily curl up on the couch with a book and cup of coffee and enjoy them by myself.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

14. PPK MoFo Survey.

What's your favorite spice or spice blend?
-Right now, I'm loving the All American Spice Blend from American Vegan Kitchen.

You have $20 to spend on fresh groceries and produce for the whole week (with a fairly well stocked pantry of dry goods, legumes, grains, and spices). what do you buy?
-Coconut milk, greens, in-season vegetables, almond milk, a bit of chocolate.

What's your favorite way to make tofu/tempeh/seitan? (I combined this with another question).

-Tofu: Marinated and baked.
-Tempeh: Marinated fried.
-Seitan: I've only made it once, and it was a chicken salad-style dish

Vegan guilty pleasure?

-Sweet & Sara 'Smores

If you could make anyone vegan, who would it be?

-I hate to be so unoriginal, but Oprah. She has such a wide, and incredibly powerful influence on a demographic that makes, statistically speaking, the most decisions about food purchasing and preparation for entire families.

If you could only read one other vegan blog, what would it be?
-If we mean food blog, it's Fat Free Vegan Kitchen - my whole Thanksgiving meal came from that site last year.
-If we're talking vegan-themed blogs, then Vegan.com. This site inspires me to do more than just eat.

Were you always interested in cooking, or did veganism change the way you saw and interacted with food?

-I was always into baking, but never did much cooking until my junk food diet left me feeling unwell. Veganism definitely changed how I interact with food.

Excluding analogues, what new things have you tried that you probably wouldn't have as an omni?

-Scratch baking. Seriously, I was such a lazy box baker before! It's shameful.
-The cooking traditions of various ethnic groups, including my own.
-A lot of individual foods.

What is the one vegan staple that everyone seems to love, but you can't get behind?
-I'm not all that big on seitan. I'm still trying it in a few things, but dishes that are too seitan heavy kind of freak me out.

What was your first "wow, I'm such a stereotypical vegan" moment?
-I really can't remember one, but I was probably wearing a scarf, drinking a green smoothie, and explaining the protein myth to someone.

First recipe you veganized?
-Officially, Koshiri. I'm sure I've done things like subbed in Vegenaise or almond milk, but that's the first thing I've had to play around with

What would you like to veganize, but haven't yet?
-I had to think really hard about this - all of my favorite dishes have been veganized. I would really like to veganize ox tail soup though - not for me, but for a friend who cites it as her only reason for no going vegan.

Favorite kitchen utensil/appliance?
-Waffle maker!

Most disastrous kitchen failure?
-Chocolate peanut butter brownies. Awful!

First vegan cookbook?
-Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet

What question about being vegan do you HATE answering?
-"Where do you get your protein?" It's cliched for a reason.

If you could tell the world one thing about vegans, what would it be?
-We aren't ascetics who can be easily categorized. Vegans come from all walks of life and all backgrounds. We're united by our belied in a cruelty-free lifestyle, and there may be common trends in vegan communities, but we're all individuals.

Funniest vegetable?

What is a family recipe you have veganized?
-None yet! But I'm working on it.

Weirdest food combination ?
-Ricemellow and chocolate chips. The flavors aren't strange together, but it's a treat that gets me weird looks from others b/c it's not a proper dessert.

Is there something you wish you could veganize, but can't/couldn't?
-No. All my favorites

Are your pets vegan? if so, what do you feed them?
-My pup eats PetGuard Organics Vegetarian Dog Food

Favorite non-dairy milk?
-Almond Breeze for plain
-Silk Nog for the holiday

What’s one “vegan myth” you’d like to squash?
-That we're emotional, and not logical.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

13. More West Coast Fun

My darling sister sent another picture from a meal she enjoyed in LA. This one comes to us from Rahel, a vegan, gluten-free-friendly, Ethiopian restaurant that has an all you can eat buffet 7 days a week! Ugh, why don't I just move out there already?

This menu is just making me depressed. We have some good Ethiopian places in DC, for sure, but nothing 100% vegan - that clarified butter ruins so much. Except during certain times of the year - thank you Coptic Christianity.

OK, time to search for a good Ethiopian cook book! Any suggestions out there, vegan or not?

Friday, November 12, 2010

12. Apples and Onions, Huh?

That's a combination I wouldn't have come up with on my own. In fact, I'd never heard of anyone doing such a thing until I stumbled upon it twice in the same week.

First, I just got a copy of The World in your Kitchen a few days ago, and while doing some before-bed reading, I found the Apple Bean pot. I like apples and beans, and was intrigued by this dish from Saudi Arabia, but the ingredient list contained onions. Hmm, I was skeptical at best.

Then, at the beginning of Vegan MoFo, I found this recipe for Apples with Marjoram. Sounds delicious - I love those things ... but wait, what's that I see as the second ingredient? "2 big onions (there should be about 1 cup of diced raw onion)."

I figured it must be a sign. I was destined to eat apples and onions (and beans). I decided to make the bean pot first, since it's more of a complete meal, but I've marked the other recipe to use as a side to a casserole or roast.

The Apple Bean Pot was snap to make. I had soaked and cooked the beans ahead of time, so I just did a little chopping, sautéing, and measuring. The spice combination of turmeric, cinnamon, allspice, and cumin smelled divine when added to the pan of caramelized onion. I left the optional sugar out of the cooking, since I make enough desserts that I'm in no danger of deficiency.

I decided to pair this dish with bulgur, a staple of Middle Eastern diets, and plain coconut milk yogurt, the vegan version of what the author of the book recommends.

As it turns out, everything about this was a good idea. The spice combination is rich and subtle. The apples were perfectly sweet, and a bit tart, and the onions soft and caramelized. The flavors combined perfectly. This is a warming and filling fall dish that could easily be elevated to comfort food. It would also be great with some flatbread and sautéed greens.

Sorry, no finished product shot of this meal!