Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Apple Time

Aren’t these apples beautiful? They’re delicious, too.

You know it’s fall when there are apples galore at the Farmers’ Market. I like apples, really, I do, but I can’t help feeling sad that it really means summer’s officially over. I like the fall colors but it also makes me a little sad because the leaves are falling leaving, well, bare trees for the winter. In Michigan that means almost six months. My favorite color is green so I really miss that color in the winter landscape. Thank goodness for my cedar hedge in the backyard.

So, apples. My favorite are Gala for eating on their own. I had some guests over to share some lunch on Sunday so I made an apple pie. Gala isn't the right apple for that so I had Jim pick me up some baking apples. The recipe I used was from Babycakes. It calls for roasting the apples first before baking them in the pie. It’s the first recipe I’ve seen that has done that; usually you just toss the apples in the uncooked pie crust. Needless to say, these apples held up very well to baking & roasting. I asked Jim to buy Pink Lady & Granny Smith but he couldn't find either; so I'm not sure what kind of baking apples these are. He took the advice of the apple farmers.

They were so good I decided to use up the rest of the baking apples by roasting them to have in my muesli and Jim’s granola during the week as they keep well in the refrigerator up to one week.

To roast them, peel, core, & chop into 1/2 inch pieces. In a bowl, add 1/4 C to 1/2 C agave nectar (I used 1/2 C when I made the pie but then I was using 2 pounds of apples!), the juice of half to one lemon, & 1/2 to 1 tbsp ground cinnamon (again, I used a whole tbsp when I was using 2 pounds of apples). Adjust accordingly. Toss all together until apples are thoroughly coated. Then bake on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper at 325 degrees for 35 minutes, turning the pan 180 degrees after 20 minutes.

Morning muesli & granola. Yum. Oh, but here in these pictures, we used Gala raw chopped. I took these pictures a week before I got the idea to roast the baking apples. Still very good as Gala apples aren't too soft or too hard; even unpeeled.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vegan Mexican Food

Music: soundtrack to Breakfast at Tiffany's

Most times, what I eat is determined by what's in the house. There's nothing that annoys me more than wasting food. Whatever I make, I make sure that I eat it all. When Jim is out of town and it's just me, I have to be especially vigilant and not have too much to eat!

Last week, I bought some handmade style corn tortillas from Hollywood Market so naturally we got taco & fajita ideas. They're made by La Tortilla Factory and are almost like flour tortillas in texture but with a true corn taste. They also make a white corn tortilla which I bought before. Since going vegan, we've discovered that the regular flour tortillas made with white flour actually make Jim feel like his food isn't digesting properly. So we eat only corn or whole wheat/flax tortillas now.

Jim made these amazing tofu fajitas by blackening strips of firm tofu with barely any vegetable oil in our new "green" skillet with peppers and onions. The pan was sizzling on our table just like in a restaurant! I served it with a side of the leftover pinto bean salad, some basmati rice, and a raw side of avocado & tomatoes.

Last week we also bought some portobello mushrooms from the Farmers' Market so he made these roasted vegetable sandwiches on Friday night with peppers & onions, with a smear of Vegenaise and fresh lettuce on toasted Breadsmith multigrain bread. I added a side of tomatoes & some artichokes & Spanish olives.

And these are some soft tacos made with the corn tortillas with soy chorizo, lettuce, tomato, onions, & avocado.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pinto Bean Salad

Music: soundtrack to Bullets Over Broadway

This week, I've made great use of the tomato abundance (as well as some cucumbers Jim found as he began the fall garden clean up). I made more gazpacho as well as lots of fresh salads. We're pretty much eating tomatoes at every meal! Must enjoy them while we have them.

This is a very simple recipe from Shortcut Vegan:

Pinto Bean Salad w/Lemony Maple-Mustard Dressing:

1 3/4 C cooked pinto beans (or 1 15-oz can, drained & rinsed)

1 finely diced red or green pepper (or some roasted red peppers)

1 small onion, finely diced

Fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste

Lemony Maple-Mustard Dressing

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Refrigerate if time allows for flavors to blend. When re-serving, add more lemon juice to taste.

Lemony Maple-Mustard Dressing

2 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

2-4 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

I also added sea salt & pepper to mine.

Here I enjoy it mounded over lettuce, with added carrots, jalapeno, tomatoes, & cucumber.

This is gazpacho served with cherry tomatoes, chopped onions & cucumber, hummus on toasted sprouted bread with fresh tomato, the Pinto Bean salad, & a side salad of roasted beets, tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, & onions.

This is kidney beans over brown basmati rice, side salad of lettuce, onions, carrots, & tomatoes with a side of roasted beets & the leftover Salt & Vinegar Potatoes.

To make the beans, I use my basic simple quick recipe:

1 can of beans of your choice
1/2 tbsp oil of your choice
1 small onion, diced
1 green or red pepper, chopped
Sea salt, pepper, cumin to taste

In a small saucepan, on medium heat, saute onion & pepper in the oil & spices until onions are translucent & peppers are soft. Add beans & cook until warmed through. Sometimes I'll also add jalapeno pepper to spice things up. Serve over rice, in burritos, any way you want!

Side salad of cherry tomatoes, jalapeno, & onion slices with lemon juice, sea salt & pepper, along with a Tempeh Salad in pita pockets with lettuce, onion, & fresh tomato slices.

So much good food to eat; the hard part for me is deciding WHAT to eat!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Salt & Vinegar Potatoes...and more

Yesterday Jim tried out this wonderful new potato recipe from the dreaded Martha Stewart Living magazine. It was delicious, very reminiscent of salt & vinegar potato chips, which I love. I actually love all kinds of potato chips; my one weakness!

This is the recipe as we modified it.

Grilled Potato Slices w/Salt & Vinegar

Small potatoes (about 1 pound or more), cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
white vinegar
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (or coarse salt)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper (or more to taste)

1. Bring potatoes & enough vinegar to cover potatoes to a boil in a medium saucepan. Simmer potatoes until just fork tender. Remove from heat & let potatoes cool in vinegar for 30 minutes. Drain well, then gently toss with oil, sea salt, & pepper.

2. Preheat grill (we used broiler) to medium high. Grill or broil potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet until browned on both sides & cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Just eyeball it until they're as brown as you like! Sprinkle with more salt & pepper if desired.

We ate it with some Trader Joe's soy chorizo, some amazingly juicy & delicious Brandywine tomatoes from the garden, & Jim's bruschetta on Breadsmith multigrain bread.

Before my shift at the library yesterday, I had to eat something but once again wasn't hungry for a full lunch. So I enjoyed a light lunch of leftover gazpacho, multigrain toasted bread spread with hummus, a slice of Brandywine tomato, & Farmers' Market lettuce.

And this was my delicious Sunday morning breakfast of Food for Life multigrain English muffin lightly spread with Earth Balance buttery soy spread, & topped with 2 slices of Gimme Lean soy sausage. Of course, a side of Jim's Ropreco Paste tomatoes, too. Must eat them all before they're gone for the season.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Detroit Zen Center Cafe

Several months ago, a co-worker told me about the Detroit Zen Center Cafe in Hamtramck. Today Jim & I finally visited for lunch. It was a very calm, soothing space but a little on the chilly side. I'm not sure, as it was in the basement of a formerly condemned building, but it felt like the air conditioning was on. And readers of this blog know how I feel about being cold!

The directions to the cafe were very straightforward and we had no trouble finding it; the staff was very welcoming. We soon warmed up with some wonderfully hot hibiscus herbal tea served in a French press.

You could eat at a regular table or seated on the floor on low tea tables. Because Jim's back has been bothering him, we opted for the regular table.

The menu was simple with about five or six options and everything was raw and vegan. I enjoyed a hummus, with fresh tomato slices, red peppers, sunflower sprouts & avocado slices on raw sprouted barley bread. When I asked about the bread, I was told that they grow the seeds themselves, grind them, then form the bread & dehydrate it for 24 hours. It's time intensive but when you only eat raw, that's your option for bread if you miss it! It was chewy like bread & thin like a cracker. I took a picture of my meal after I had already taken one delicious bite! It wasn't a ton of food (which I appreciate) but it was enough to satisfy without feeling stuffed. Eating this way makes me feel so good. Very peaceful and cleansing.

I didn't take a picture but Jim enjoyed a creamy tomato broccoli soup (a raw gazpacho) and a kale salad. And for dessert, he had some raw fudge with almonds, macadamia nuts, & raw coconut. I took one bite. I remember that in one of my recipe books there are recipes for raw fudge & cookies that you refrigerate instead of bake. In fact, the pate that Jim made in the winter is almost raw.

The Detroit Zen Center offers Zen meditation classes for beginners as well as yoga. Its cafe has only been open for two months and also sells organic foods, personal care, & house cleaning products. I recommend it as a wonderful place for vegans & non-vegans alike.

It's another great place for us to eat & only 10 minutes by I-75 from our house.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Solo Eats

Music: Foo Fighters, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

This week, Jim took the digital camera with him on his vacation so I can’t take pictures of my food! I might have to pick up a mini-camera for when one of us takes a vacation without the other--which we do often because we have the little-old-lady cat.

To make things simple since I worked a few long days this week, I sauteed tofu to have for the week in sandwiches, and also made a batch of chickpea hummus.

Before he left, Jim picked the rest of the kale for me to have and I have tomatoes galore so I also made gazpacho.

Making sandwiches on a variety of breads, including pita, whole wheat tortillas, Breadsmith bread, or sprout bread, I was pretty much set for the week.

On Saturday, I visited the Farmers’ Market & picked up baby radishes, the last of the blueberries (sob!), some Gala apples, green peppers, cucumber, carrots, & Bibb lettuce.

I also made an udon wheat noodle sesame salad. I’ve made this recipe before but used soba noodles. It’s very quick & easy, delicious, & looks great.

I didn't want to make too much food because it was just me and I didn't want the food to go bad. It's just enough.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chocolate Onion in the Media!

Several months ago, I was approached by an independent writer for Associated Content to be interviewed for an article he was researching on why people became vegan. He was looking for different viewpoints and since mine is from a health perspective, he thought that was an interesting twist.

We communicated via email with questions and follow-up but by the end of the process, I was the only vegan left to interview as the other two had opted not to participate, for whatever reason. But I figured that, since I have a blog already out there, why not let others know what I strongly support and believe?

The article finally came out and I'm very pleased with it. You can read it here. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stevia Instead of Sugar

Music: The Sounds of Sinatra, AM580 CKWW

I recently watched (for the second time) Jill Ovnik's wonderful DVD, Change Your Food, Change Your Life. Ovnik lives in South Haven, Michigan and her DVD was one of the deciding factors in my taking the vegan plunge in October 2007. She has such a wonderful way of presenting being vegan with enthusiam, knowledge, and common sense. Most libraries have this on their shelves and you can check it out free but you can also buy it.

One of the best features about this DVD is her practical step-by-step presentation of what to shop for in the grocery store. She mentions something called stevia which is a natural sweetener. You barely need any of it and it has zero calories. It's an herb that grows in a shrub in South America.

I purchase it in packets at Nutri-Foods in downtown Royal Oak but I've also seen it at Trader Joe's. Nutri-Foods let me take one packet home to try before I even bought it! I've just begun using it in my coffee and my morning muesli. I still use turbinado sugar or evaporated cane juice for baking, though, because you don't measure stevia the same way you do sugar.

We decided to try it mainly because Jim is watching his calories (he has lost 30 pounds since April!). I like it because it's an herb and you don't need much to make something taste sweet.

Friday, September 11, 2009

More Tomatoes!

Aren't these just the cutest, tiniest, & beautiful cherry tomatoes? I picked them this morning. They're planted right outside my kitchen door for easy access. Many thanks to Jim for planting them for me! These will be enjoyed in a delicious salad today.

I will be taking some tomatoes for my co-workers to enjoy today as I now officially have too many. Jim was going to do something with them but he's busy right now so I will be nice and share.

This week I sauteed (very simply in barely any olive oil & onions & garlic) both seitan as well as some Tofurky Italian-style soy "sausage." I use the leftovers either cold in salads or warmed in a corn tortilla with veggies & salsa.

Here I served it with Coconut-Lemon Basmati Rice and steamed kale with a raw side salad.

These products are already cooked so you're just reheating them & flavoring them to serve as you wish. See? Being vegan IS easy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In Which We Seem to Be Eating All Of Our Tomatoes!

Music: Blue October, Approaching Normal

So far, we've been eating all of what we've been picking, and we've picked a lot. I made my good friend James a batch of my gazpacho when I visited him last Saturday and Jim made my parents some of his delicious bruschetta on Sunday but, other than that, we've been making and enjoying some wonderful tomatoes all by ourselves.

Besides making gazpacho, Jim whipped up this quick cold sauce for pasta last Saturday. Served over either warm or room temperature pasta, it uses fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, & olive oil.

In a food processor, gently pulse together the tomatoes, fresh basil, & minced garlic. He didn’t really measure; probably used about 6 tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, & 1/4 C basil. The recipe I think called for 2 tbsp of olive oil, but he ended up using only 1/2 tbsp. Just eyeball it. You don’t want it too dry or too wet with oil, just enough moisture to mix into a nice chunky sauce for the pasta.

Cook any kind of pasta; we used fusilli. Delightful!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Deliciously Simple (& Vegan!)

Music: Ben Lee, Breathing Tornadoes

Italian Chickpea Spread sandwich on toasted multigrain Breadsmith bread with pickle.
This recipe was a new one from Short-Cut Vegan:

1 3/4 C cooked chickpeas (or 1 15-oz. can, drained & rinsed)
2-4 tbsp water
1 tbsp roasted garlic olive oil OR 1 tbsp olive oil plus 1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian Herb Blend*
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1-3 tsp balsamic vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Combine all in a food processor & process until smooth. I think next time I will pulse the chickpeas separately because I like a little more texture than this gives.

*To make the Italian Herb Blend:
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all in a jar & shake well. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.

Quick Bean Guacamole with lettuce & tomatoes on corn tortillas with side salad of more tomatoes & cucumber. Again, from Short-Cut Vegan:

1 3/4 cooked navy beans (or 1 15-oz. can, drained & rinsed)
1 ripe organic Hass avocado, halved, pitted, & flesh scooped out in chunks
3/4 C salsa (I made my own but use your favorite chunky-style)
1-3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Hot red pepper sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste
Sea salt to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Pulse all except cilantro in a food processor. Done. Enjoy as a dip for corn chips, in burritos, or on sandwich.

This is the leftover Sunflower Lentil Pie chopped up, warmed in the toaster oven, then tossed into a big salad of lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, carrots, avocado, & cucumber with Sesame Mustard Tahini dressing from Vive Le Vegan!

1/2 C water
1/2 C tahini
1/3 C apple cider vinegar
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar (or other honey alternative)
3 tbsp tamari
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 1/2- 3 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt, to taste

I used a handblender but you can also use a blender. Combine all & thin if desired with additional 1-2 tbsp water). Store leftover in refrigerator. It thickens in the refrigerator, so just thin with 1-2 tsp water as needed. This dressing is delicious on salads, over cooked grains or veggie patties, or even mashed into leftover tofu for a sandwich filling. Wow!

This is leftover Italian Chickpea Spread on toasted Trader Joe's sprouted bread, with lettuce, tomatoes & a side salad of roasted beets, cucumbers, & tomatoes.

No need to eat at a restaurant when I've got good food like this around!

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Veganizing" Recipes

Music: Bread, Anthology

I made an apricot almond bread in celebration of a friend's birthday the other day. I didn't take a picture but this recipe is for her!

My vegan cookbook's recipe called for applesauce but I didn't have any. So I pulled out my old Fanny Farmer Cook Book which has some wonderful classic quick bread recipes. The only things that weren't vegan in the recipe were margarine and an egg. And the three things I voluntarily changed were the bleached white flour with whole wheat pastry flour, orange extract with lemon extract (because I didn't have orange extract) and white sugar with unrefined sugar.

Replacing the margarine with soy margarine (I use Shedd's Willow Run) and the egg with 2 tbsp ground flaxseed meal makes this super easy recipe vegan:

1 1/2 C boiling water
1 1/2 C dried apricots, chopped
2 1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp soy margarine
1 C unrefined sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 C chopped almonds
2 tbsp ground flaxseed meal
1 tsp lemon extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a bread loaf pan (I use organic Pam cooking spray). Put the apricots in a mixing bowl & pour the boiling water over them. Add the butter, sugar, salt, & flaxseed meal & stir. Allow to cool to lukewarm temperature. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into bread pan and bake about 60 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean and the bread is lightly browned. Wait ten minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack. You can also freeze this bread for later use, but it's delicious warm with a cup of tea!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So What Do You Eat When You're Vegan?

Music: Iron and Wine, Around the Well

So many good things, it's hard to keep up! Here's what I've been enjoying lately.

This is half a white bean hummus sandwich on toasted multi-grain Breadsmith bread, with raw onions, sprouts, & lettuce from the garden. I ate it with a side salad of leftover Aztec Couscous and Whole-Grain Tabbouleh.

The tabbouleh recipe is a recipe from Short-Cut Vegan:

3 C soft wheat berries (or any cooked grain you prefer, such as kamut, quinoa, brown rice, etc. the possibilities are endless!)
2 C peeled, seeded, & chopped cucumber
2 C chopped & seeded tomatoes
1 C finely chopped parsley
1/2 C finely diced onion
1/3 C finely chopped fresh mint (I used orange mint from my garden)
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
3-5 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all. You could also enjoy this salad in a tortilla or pita as a wrap.

This is a whole wheat flax tortilla from Trader Joe's spread with white bean hummus and layered with lettuce leaves, leftover Parsley Salad from The Summer Book* by Susan Branch (which I veganized), raw onion slices, & avocado on top. Side salad incluces roasted beets, chopped cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, & chopped avocado.

Parsley Salad

6 C chopped parsley
1/2 C faux Parmesan (take 1/4 C toasted sesame seeds, 1/4 C nutritional yeast flakes, & 1/4 tsp sea salt; combined in a grinder, this makes exactly 1/2 C)
2-3 tbsp olive oil (the recipe called for 1/2 C--gasp!)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, minced really tiny (better if you have a garlic press, which I so need to get)

Combine all in a large bowl. I use leftovers in wraps or sandwiches. Great flavor!

Now this is fun. With a raw salad of tomatoes, parsley, cucumbers, & raw jalapenos, a side of roasted beets, this is Sunflower-Lentil Pie from Vive le Vegan!

3/4 C brown raw lentils (Jim used 1 C pre-cooked beluga lentils from Trader Joe’s instead; much faster)

1 3/4 C water

1 1/2 C onion, chopped

1 C quick oats

1/2 C raw sunflower seeds

1/2 C celery, chopped

1 medium-large clove garlic, roughly chopped

2 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp balamic vinegar

2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (Jim didn’t know we had it so he used Bragg’s instead)

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

If using raw lentils, in a large pot over medium-high heat, combine lentils and water & bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, & let cook 15-20 minutes. Add onions, stir, and let cook 10-15 minutes, covered, until lentils are soft and have absorbed all water.

If using pre-cooked like Jim did, saute onions until translucent, then add beluga lentils just to warm them. In a food processor, combine lentil mixture with the remaining ingredients and puree until just smooth, but retaining some texture.

Transfer to lightly oiled pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees for 27-30 minutes, until lightly browned and just firm. Let stand a few minutes (it will firm up more as it cools slightly), then slice into wedges.

Leftover suggestions are also yummy: mash with a little Vegenaise and enjoy in a sandwich!

*This is the only Susan Branch book I own; I enjoy her art work but most of her books are just too cutesy-pie for my taste. There's something about this book, though. The illustrations are beautiful, but so is the writing and the descriptions of summer. In fact, I know it's the summer theme that appeals to me; definitely!