Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Nice Warm Soup

It’s still cold here in Michigan, even though the calendar says it’s spring! I feel like I need a little bit of extra love today (read, comfort food) so I made a soup. This is a Chipotle Corn Black Bean Soup from Vive Le Vegan:

1 1/2-2 tbsp olive oil
1-1 1/2 C onion, chopped
3 medium to large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 C celery, chopped
1 1/2 C carrots, chopped
4 tsp cumin (I used 3--this is a strong spice)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4-1/3 C sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I didn't have so I left out)
3 1/2 C cooked black beans (about 2 14-oz cans)
2 C vegetable stock
1 1/2-2 C water
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp tamari
1/2-1 tsp chipotle hot sauce (I used 1 tsp Tabasco)
2 bay leaves (I used 1)
1 1/2 C frozen corn kernels
fresh lime wedges (for serving)
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish (I didn't have anymore today! :( )

I didn't measure any of the onions, celery, or carrots--I just eyeballed it.

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add onions, garlic, salt & pepper. Stir, cover & let cook for a few minutes. Add celery, carrots, spices, & tomatoes, stir, cover, & let cook 5-7 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Add beans,stock, 1 1/2 C water (reserve 1/2 C), balsamic vinegar, tamari, hot sauce, & bay leaf. Increase heat & bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover, & let cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove bay leaves, & using a hand blender, puree the soup until somewhat smooth but still has chunks of goodies in it. Stir in the corn &, if you want to thin the soup, the reserved 1/2 C water (mine didn't need this). Cover & let soup simmer for a few more minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce. Serve with lime wedges & avocado.

We ate it with a side salad of the warmed potato salad I made yesterday.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Need to Read Even More

As a librarian, I read a lot, about three books a week, but sometimes more, in addition to online sources such as newspapers, blogs, & other information for my job. But I’m finding that I think I need to read even more about veganism. I have never, ever been a person who is quick with the comebacks and that is why I sometimes get tongue-tied when people ask me direct questions about myself. Even though I’m a librarian and work on a busy reference desk every day, I can handle questions about other topics but when it comes to me and my life, I find it harder.

But, as a new-ish vegan, I find myself sometimes stymied when people ask me questions about why I’m vegan, what I eat, etc. Now that I think about it, it’s only some people that have that effect on me. They seem genuinely confused, sometimes even angry, & bewildered that anyone would want to be a vegan. They think it’s limiting, boring, weird, etc. But this is why I need to read more so that I can talk about it easier. On my blog, I at least have time to think about what I’m going to say and phrase it right.

Jill Ovnik (of the Vegan Gal DVD) gave me the advice of reading more, especially information by Dr. McDougall. She said you probably won’t change anyone’s mind or convert them to veganism, but you will give them something to think about and ponder. For example, where do cows get their protein & calcium? How much protein is in breast milk? Or, what species drinks the milk of another? Or, as Dr. McDougall asks on his site, “Ever consider Diet vs. Drugs?; Oatmeal vs. Obesity? or “Peas vs. Pills?”

What I’m finding more and more is that most people only think of food and eating when they’re hungry, and then as a nuisance, another task in a busy day, instead of the nourishment and necessity that your body needs to keep working well. So if it seems like a lot to think about, it is. Most people don’t think about their body and what they put into it until their body isn’t working right (indigestion, headache, etc.), then they go to the doctor and ask for drugs.

And I know vegans are in the minority. A quick perusal of this site and it was ALL meat or seafood every single day for all meals! http://food.yahoo.com/everyday/dinner/ It’s crazy.

I’ll let you what I’m reading and what I learn in the process.

In the meantime, today I made this super delicious warm potato salad, adapted from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan:

1 1/2 lb new potatoes or fingerling potatoes (I used an unspecified amount of red potatoes, & it was a lot more than this recipe called for--good for leftovers!)

Vinaigrette:

2 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
4 tbsp olive oil
1/8 C pine nuts (I didn't have so I left it out)

Salad:

2 1/2 C loosely packed baby spinach leaves
1/4 C packed fresh basil (I didn't have so I left it out)
3/4-1 C artichokes chopped (I used marinated, drained)
1/2-3/4 C red bell peppers, diced (I used green)
1/4-1/3 C pitted Kalamata or green olives (I used green), halved or chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts (again, I left out)
1/2-1 tbsp olive oil (optional if need for more moisture)

Boil potatoes in a large pot of water. Reduce to simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced, about 12-15 minutes. If using the pine nuts, blend all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender until smooth; just stir together in a small bowl if not. When potatoes are done, drain & allow to cool just enough to handle, then cut in half or in quarters (I cut mine into bite-sized pieces). I then returned potatoes to the cooking pot (no need to dirty yet another bowl), then tossed in vinaigrette & salad mix & tossed that all together. I ate some warm after making it but it’s also just as good chilled or at room temperature.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Banana Bliss Pancakes…

and a whole lot more!

I realized today that even though I’ve mentioned J.’s fabulous pancakes in the past, I’ve never posted any actual recipes. Most people wonder, how in the world can you make pancakes without eggs? Or butter? Or milk? But he does and they are so good, smooth, moist, & hearty.

Banana Bliss Pancakes (adapted from Vive Le Vegan by Dreena Burton)

1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 C barley flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 C + 1 tbsp soymilk
3 tbsp water*
1 tbsp egg replacer*
1 tbsp almond oil
1 medium-large ripe banana (slice HALF of it)

In a large bowl, add the flour & baking powder. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, & salt, & stir to combine. In a blender, add HALF of the banana, the soymilk, & oil & blend well. Add the wet mixture to the dry & fold in the other HALF of the banana, sliced.

Heat a lightly oiled skillet (J. uses soy margarine) over medium high heat (on our electric stove, we set it to #4 on the dial). Using a ladle, scoop the batter into the skillet to form pancakes. Cook for a few minutes until small bubbles start to form on the outer edge of the pancakes and then the center. Check bottom to see if golden brown, then flip to cook other side for a couple minutes. Keep warm in a pan in the oven (set to 170 degrees) until all batter is gone.

*These are NOT in the original recipe but J. adds it because he finds that it helps keep the pancakes from sticking, since we don't use nonstick pans.

pancakes

We served them with some Gimme Lean vegan “sausage” patties. A treat on Sundays!

breakfast

breakfast2

This is my pretty plate (with butterflies & strawberries on it, one of three that I found at the Salvation Army).

For lunch yesterday I made a chickpea salad (see blog post from Jan. 13) served in whole wheat pita bread with lettuce & avocado. I also made this Lemony Couscous with Broccoli from Vegan Express:

Broccoli

3/4 C couscous
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, quartered & thinly sliced
3 C finely chopped broccoli florets (I didn't measure, I just used all 3 bunches I bought)
1/4 C minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp minced fresh dill (I used 1 tsp dried)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 C oil-packed sliced sun-dried tomatoes or chopped pitted black olives (I didn't have so I left out)

1. Combine couscous w/ 1 1/2 C boiling water in a heatproof container. Cover & let stand 10 minutes, then fluff w/fork. I just boiled the water in a saucepan, then removed it from the heat, added the couscous, covered & let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion & sauté over medium heat until golden.
3. Add the broccoli & just enough water to keep the bottom of the skillet moist, then cover & allow to steam until broccoli is bright green & tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.
4. Add the couscous to the skillet along with parsley, dill, lemon juice, the other 1 tbsp olive oil, & tomatoes. Stir together well, cook for 2-3 minutes more, then serve.

I added a little salt to taste but when I reheat this, I will add a few tablespoons of tomato puree as it needed a little more flavor. I also might try cooking the couscous with a vegetable bouillon next time instead of just plain water to infuse more flavor. And I prefer my broccoli in bigger chunks than this recipe called for to taste it better. Trial & error. I like my food flavorful and this was a 5 on a scale from 1 to 10.

This afternoon, I also made an Apple Crisp from The Garden of Vegan to use up some apples that I didn’t really care for on their own:

6 apples of your choice, cored & chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C soy margarine
1/2 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1 C rolled oat flakes (I used quick-cook oats)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place apples in a 9-inch baking dish (I used a round glass pie dish). Sprinkle the cinnamon on top of the apples. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the margarine, flour, sugar, & oat flakes. Sprinkle that mixture on top of the apples & bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.

applecrumble

I haven’t eaten dinner yet, so I’ll have to let you know how this tastes, but it looks & smells wonderful, doesn’t it?!

Friday, March 27, 2009

More Vegan Delights!

I know. What a boring title to today’s blog entry. I’ve been browsing other vegan blogs lately & think that maybe I need to add some pictures to show you what delicious food I eat? Or to make it more exciting? The problem is that I’m usually too eager to eat whatever I’ve made to take the time to photograph it! And, besides, it might get cold. I’ll think about it.

The other day while grocery shopping at Hollywood Market, I picked up some frozen Jerusalem Foods Falafil (that’s how they spelled falafel, with an “i”). I cooked them in the toaster oven & I crumbled them & ate them in a pita with lettuce, onions, avocado, & Vegenaise. It was good but I think I will try sautéing them in a skillet in a little oil next time. I prefer to make my own but it takes extra time so I thought I’d give these a try. Not bad but mine are better.

I also found some Olga’s flat bread in the freezer section & for lunch today, I warmed one in a lightly oiled skillet & spread it with J.’s bean hummus, baby lettuce, onions, & sliced avocado. It was delicious. But it’s weird that you only get 5 flat breads in the package, so it was a little expensive at $3.99. But good to enjoy once in a while.

Last night we made another stir fry, this time using roasted cashews, zucchini, onions, carrots, baby spinach, & green pepper with a sauce from the Moosewood Cookbook. We ate it with a mix of jasmine & basmati rice.

And, for dessert yesterday I made the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake from Nava Atlas’ Vegan Express. It came out great & was the first dessert I’ve tried from her book. Instead of applesauce though (which I didn’t have) I used a small banana. I could also have used soft tofu if I didn’t have the banana.

Oil for pan (I use Pam Organic Cooking Spray)
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C applesauce (or banana or soft tofu)
1/2 C rice or soy milk
1/2 C natural peanut butter AT ROOM TEMPERATURE (my favorite right now is Parkers’ All Natural Creamy found in the butter & cheese section at Hollywood Market)
1 C vegan semisweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe's sells them for only $1.99)
1/3 C chopped peanuts, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch square or round cake pan.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, & sugar in a mixing bowl & stir together.
3. Combine applesauce, rice or soy milk, & peanut butter in another bowl & whisk together until smooth. Because I used banana, I used my blender.
4. Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture & stir until well blended.
5. Stir in chocolate chips & optional peanuts. Pour into prepared pan. My batter came out thick so I just spooned the batter into the pan.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden on top & toothpick inserted comes out with chocolate but no batter.
7. Allow to cool to room temperature or just warm, then cut into squares or wedges to serve.

It came out very moist. They would also make good cupcakes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hummus Made with Home Grown Beans

J. is the real gardener around here. I love a few pots of flowers but starting things from seeds grown indoors under plant lights in early March, transplanting them (oh, so carefully) into the garden beds in May, & managing them once they start producing veggies seems like lots of work to me (and a little boring, too). But I’m grateful to have them & eat them and they are very pretty & good tasting! So I wouldn’t change anything. Thank goodness my husband loves doing it so I can reap the benefits of home grown veggies. He’s the one who even plants the jalapeno, cherry tomatoes, herbs, & pepper plants I buy.

To give you an example of how dedicated J. is, he not only grows the beans, he dries the pods & then removes the beans to dry—usually on the counter for several days (although it would be nice to have a little indoor porch off our kitchen since we don’t have much counter space).

On Monday, he soaked a blend of beans in water to cook & make a hummus on Tuesday. He adapted a recipe from the Chipotle Lime Two-Bean Hummus from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan:

2 C cooked beans
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2-2 tbsp tahini
1 clove garlic, sliced
2-2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp chipotle hot sauce (we use Tabasco)
1 tsp agave nectar
1/16-1/8 tsp allspice
1-2 tbsp water (to thin dip as desired)

In a food processor, combine all except water. Puree until very smooth, gradually adding water as needed to thin dip. Stop processor & scrape down sides of bowl as necessary. If serving to guests (or just for fun), add chopped fresh cilantro & stir in.

Yesterday, after grocery shopping, I made a pan of roasted red potatoes, zucchini, carrots, & onions with 3 tbsp olive oil. I used a 9 x 12 size pan & lined it with 2 sheets of parchment paper, tossed in all the chopped veggies, then drizzled the olive oil, adding sea salt & the juice of 1/2 of a lemon & stirring it all together. Then I baked it for 45 minutes. I served it with chopped Tofurkey brand Italian soy “sausage” that I sautéed in a skillet with a tbsp of olive oil. We also ate the hummus on crackers. So good!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sharing the Cooking

I’m very lucky in that my husband also enjoys cooking as much as I do. I worked on Saturday and, when I came home, he had made a Vegetable Biryani adapted from La Dolce Vegan:

1 onion chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 stalk celery
1 14-16 oz can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1/2 C dried red lentils
1/2 C basmati rice (rinsed in a strainer first)
2 1/2 C water
Half a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 C frozen peas

In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, sauté onions in oil until translucent. Add garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, pepper, ginger & salt & sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add celery, chickpeas, lentils, rice & water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover & cook for 15-20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Turn off heat, stir in tomatoes, peas & let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Yesterday I made a quick dish of Kidney Beans, jasmine rice, & leftover reheated tempeh:

In a skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil & sauté 1/2 of a chopped onion, 1 minced garlic, & 1 stalk celery until onions are translucent. Then add 1 tsp cumin & sea alt & pepper to taste. Add 1 can of kidney beans (with liquid), & we added the other half can of diced tomatoes from yesterday. Then add 1 tbsp white wine vinegar & cook until beans are warmed through.

Finally, after I made some biscotti, J. made some of his wonderful Scones:

2 C flour (he used white whole wheat flour)
1/4 C ground flaxseed meal
1/4 C ground walnuts (use grinder)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 stick of cold soy margarine
1/2 C sugar
2/3 C soy milk
1/4 C dried cranberries, cherries, or other dried fruit of choice or even nuts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine flours, flaxseed meal, walnuts, baking powder, & salt. With a pastry cutter, cut in margarine until mixture resembles fine granules. Add milk & stir with fork. When dough forms, knead with hands. Either roll out with rolling pin & cut with biscuit cutter or form with hands into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Bake on a baking sheet w/parchment paper 12-14 minutes until golden.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tempeh-ting

Tonight I tried tempeh for the first time. Tempeh is soy, made from soybeans that have been cooked & cultured. It looks like a rectangular cake form. I bought the Lifeline brand at Trader Joe’s which was a three grain style made with organic soybeans, organic brown rice, organic millet, & organic barley. I cut up the entire cake into 1/4” thick slices then sautéed it in a skillet (like I do the firm tofu to make tofu sandwiches) with 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil & 2 tbsp Bragg’s. I also sprinkled one side with my all-purpose spice mix (see blog post dated Feb. 12th) & cooked until both sides were nicely browned.

All of my cookbooks had lots to say about tempeh. One said that it had a “strong flavor” while another said it was an “acquired taste” with a “slightly nutty” flavor. Well, I loved it! My husband wasn’t so sure. The texture was almost meat-like which got me thinking it might work for when I convert my old Cuban arroz con pollo recipe, which requires browning the chicken before it is cooked with the rice. Next time, I will buy some seitan to try which is another soy protein.

We ate the tempeh with leftover brown & jasmine rice mixed together and steamed baby spinach.

I work all day tomorrow so I will take some of the leftover tempeh, reheat it at work, then make a sandwich with Vegenaise, lettuce & onions in a pita bread. I’ve also packed an antipasto salad of onions, roasted red peppers, pepperonicini, martichokes (my slang for marinated artichokes), & Spanish olives; Clementines; mixed nuts, & of course, my latte.

Creamy Hummus

I know, you’re probably thinking, man this girl eats a lot of hummus! But I love it. And I make so many different kinds there’s a great variety. For you meat eaters out there, think of it as your lunch meat, always in the fridge for a quick meal when you don’t feel like cooking.

I’ve always loved sandwich spreads (and, no, I don’t mean Miracle Whip—we were a Hellmann's Real Mayo household). I still remember the chicken spread that my grand aunt Sonia used to make when I was a little girl; I’d feel so special that she always had some just for me to take home. My mom also bought a ham spread from Farmer Jack that I liked. And, of course, tuna mixed with all the fixings was also a staple for sandwiches.

Since becoming vegan, hummus & other bean spreads are my delicious alternatives. I’ve even found some great recipes for avocado & roasted garlic spreads. The variety is endless.

The hummus I made today is adapted from Vive le Vegan:

1 15-16 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small or medium clove garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (dark)
1/2 tsp sea salt
3-4 tbsp water (or less/more as desired)
ground black pepper to taste

Combine all in a food processor or blender & puree until very smooth, adding a little water at first, then more if desired to thin it. Scrape down sides of bowl several times throughout & puree again until very smooth. Season to taste with more sea salt, pepper, &/or lemon juice. Serve in a bowl drizzled with more extra-virgin olive oil.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

“So, Like, What Did You Eat for Lunch Today?”

Well, yesterday I had some extra hours at the library so I packed a lunch of leftover split pea soup, a rice & bean salad I made, a Clementine, some mixed nuts/dried fruit, & a vanilla cupcake.

Today I’m off so had time to cook. I made jasmine rice, black beans, & a little stir-fry of carrots, peas, & corn.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they have a hard time making rice without a rice cooker. I received a rice cooker as a wedding gift over 15 years ago but I didn’t like how dry it made the rice; I prefer it a little sticky like in the Chinese restaurants. After I dropped the rice cooker & broke it, I decided to learn how to make it in a regular saucepan. I looked up a basic recipe in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook & it was so easy & came out so well that it’s how I’ve made rice ever since.

Usually, since it’s just the two of us, I take 1 cup of whatever kind of rice I’m cooking & rinse it well in a strainer. Then I put 1 1/4 cups (2 cups for brown rice) water in a saucepan, cover it, & turn heat on high. When it boils, I add the rice, lower the heat to simmer, stir it once, cover it, then set the timer for 15 minutes for jasmine (or basmati) rice or 40 minutes for brown rice. That’s it. When the timer dings you lift the lid & all the water is absorbed & your rice is perfect. This works EVERY time. Even my dad tells me this is how he prefers his rice but my mom still uses her rice cooker. I don’t find it any different; you still need to wash the pan of the rice cooker just like you have to wash your saucepan. It’s just another appliance to clutter up the kitchen in my opinion. My relatives in Miami use this a lot but I don’t get it.

I made my usual black beans(see blog dated Feb. 10). The carrot stir-fry is made by cutting up some washed & scrubbed carrots & putting them in a skillet with maybe a few tablespoons of water. I covered them & set the heat to 5 on my electric stove, setting the timer for 10 minutes. Then I drained any leftover water, added 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, some frozen corn & some frozen green peas, then sautéed it all until the carrots started to slightly brown. A quick easy way to get extra vegetables.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Un Pequeno Almuerzo Mexicano (A Little Mexican Lunch)

Once again, since I don’t work until this evening I have time to make something a little different. Sort of burritos, but I’ll have little bowls of ingredients out to make each one individually. I will reheat some brown rice I made on Sunday & make some refried beans to serve on corn tortillas with baby spinach & homemade salsa (see blog post from Jan. 23rd). When I was a child (& come to think of it, she still does today) my mother used lard to reheat cooked homemade pinto beans. Since I’m now vegan I do not use lard & have found several vegan alternatives in my cookbooks. The one I’m using today is from The Garden of Vegan:

2 tbsp soy margarine
Can of pinto beans (I use Trader Joe's organic)
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan (I use a skillet), melt margarine until bubbly. Add beans & cook for 3 minutes. Add onions, salt, & pepper but don't stir. Reduce heat to medium/low & cook until onions are soft. Mash with fork or back of a spoon.

The baby spinach is an addition by me to add extra greens; growing up I don’t recall many greens added to the Mexican dishes my relatives made, except maybe some fresh cilantro.

Time to go cook!

Monday, March 16, 2009

So What DO You Eat?

Let’s catch up this blog since I didn’t have a chance during my busy weekend.

Last Friday evening, we ate at Steve’s Backroom in St. Clair Shores. I usually get Steve’s Salad (which I incorrectly thought was called the Five Bean Salad) but decided to try something different. I ordered the Falafel salad (after asking if it was made with eggs—it isn’t) & it was delicious. I would have preferred the abundant variety of vegetables in Steve’s Salad but it was still good. We also ordered an appetizer of the hummus, tabbouleh, & baba ghanoush. I found out that they make their hummus from chickpeas that they cook from scratch but that they toast first. It has a unique flavor & is so very creamy & smooth. I make my hummus with canned chickpeas for convenience, but I might try it from scratch someday. The tabbouleh is made of parsley, bulgur, mint, tomato, & other herbs with lemon juice. And the baba ghanoush was mashed eggplant with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice & garlic. Of course, it was all served with my favorite warmed pita bread. My husband had never been to Steve’s Backroom & is often on the east side meeting his friend; he was happy to learn of another restaurant alternative to the Sprout House on that side of town.

Yesterday morning I made the red pepper hummus I mentioned a few blogs ago. I hadn’t seen my parents in awhile & always like to take something to them when I visit. We enjoyed it on sandwiches.

When I got home, I made a split pea soup adapted from a recipe in La Dolce Vegan. It is so flavorful, I doubt meat eaters would even miss that blasted ham bone!

1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery hearts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp turmeric
Pinch of dried rosemary
2 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
2 C vegetable stock
3 C water
1 C dried green split peas

In a stock pot, sauté the onion, garlic, celery, & carrots in the olive oil until onions are translucent. Add the remaining ingredients & bring to a boil, then lower to simmer, & cover for 45 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until peas are cooked.

Finally, I made another batch of vanilla cupcakes, which I adapted from the vanilla cake recipe in How It All Vegan:

1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C soy milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C oil (I use vegetable)
egg replacer equal to 1 egg (I use 2 tbsp ground flaxseed meal w/3 tbsp water)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, & sugar. In another small bowl, add the egg replacer mixture, stir together & let sit about 2 minutes. Then add milk, vanilla, & oil to flaxseed mixture & stir well to combine. Add wet mixture to dry then mix all until just combined. I then spooned the batter into a muffin tin lined with papers (if you're making a cake, pour into a lightly oiled cake pan) & bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Ice when cooled if desired. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Leftovers with a Twist

Today we had minestrone soup (that we froze from that huge monastery soup batch) & I reheated the herbed oven fries from the other night. But I cut mine up & made a sort of warmed potato salad with mixed baby greens & herbs, sliced onions, & avocado with lemon juice, sea salt & pepper. Delish!

Yesterday I met a friend for lunch with takeout from Steve’s Backroom in St. Clair Shores on Jefferson. I had the Five Bean salad with lettuce, onions, dried cranberries, walnuts, sunflower seeds, green peppers, rice, avocado, red beans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, & white beans with pomegranate dressing & pita bread. Wow! We’re meeting another friend tonight on that side of town & will eat at Steve’s again since my husband wants to try it out. I’ll have to try something new, which I’ll tell you about tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What’s For Dinner?

J. had dinner cooked & ready when I got home from work today, a nice unexpected surprise. He made Boca Chik Patties which we ate with Vegenaise & organic mixed greens & herbs from Trader Joe’s & I added sliced avocadoes to mine. We like the Rudy's brand organic wheat hamburger buns from Trader Joe's for these. He also made some sautéed baby spinach & oven fries with olive oil & a generous mixture of dill, thyme, salt & pepper. Delicious!

After dinner, & after I made some acai berry herbal tea & my muesli (for tomorrow morning), I made a batch of Lindsey’s Peanut Butter Cupcakes from La Dolce Vegan to have some dessert in the house:

1 C flour
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp peanut butter
3 tbsp vegan margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large banana
1/3 C soy milk
1/2 C vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil 12 muffin tins or line with paper liners (this batch only made 10 for me) & set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, & salt. Set aside. In a food processor (or blender), combine peanut butter, margarine, vanilla, banana, & soy milk & blend until smooth. Add to the flour mixture & stir together well. Spoon even amounts of batter into the paper liners of the muffin tin & sprinkle the tops with chocolate chips. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely. These are so moist & delicious, it’s hard to eat only one!

Tofu for the Terrified

For some reason, nothing strikes fear in a meat-eater more than knowing that something was made with tofu. They can be enjoying whatever vegan dish you prepared & raving about it, but as soon as you tell them they are eating tofu, they freak out. They think it looks weird, feels weird, but it’s only white & has no smell whatsoever. It’s really just lack of information when you think about it. It’s kind of funny to me that people don’t seem to fear handling raw meat, with watery blood dripping from it, its cold clammy texture, & its definite odor. Pair that with thinking about what you are holding in your hand and that strikes fear in me. In fact, it was the whole “ick factor” of meat-handling over time that persuaded me to stop eating it (that and my husband’s very scary food poisoning episode). It literally began to make me feel queasy each time I handled it. I worried that I was contaminating my cutting boards & counters (and then not cleaning them enough) & it also just made me sad. So I find it ironic that people are afraid of tofu.

A lot of people have never eaten it nor prepared it or, if they have prepared it (or had it prepared for them), it wasn’t a good experience. It’s all about knowledge, preparation, proper storage, & of course, flavorful cooking.

Tofu is soybeans cooked, mashed, & coagulated into blocks. It is sold in plastic 1 lb. packages & comes in different textures like extra firm, firm, medium, & soft or silken. I use the first two a lot in stir-fries, salads, & baked dishes & the soft in making desserts, or salad dressings. J. also uses the soft when he makes ice cream (in place of eggs). I’ve never seen the medium texture in the stores I shop at. It comes packed in water. When I prepare it, I drain the water, rinse it, press it dry in a dish cloth, then cut it into slices, cubes, or strips depending on my recipe.

If you’re not using the whole block, you have to store the rest of it properly. You just put it in a container, fill it with fresh water until the tofu is covered, cover it & put it in the fridge. Change the water daily & use it within 3 days. That’s all there is to it. This link has some great information for the tofu-terrified: http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Tofu-Tips/Detail.aspx

Tofu is a great source of protein, calcium, iron & omega 3 fatty acids & has no cholesterol. When prepared properly, it takes on the flavor of whatever you’re cooking. I love it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another Delicious Lunch

I don’t work until the evening today so I had time to do a little cooking. Good thing, too, because I’m having a sort of bad day due to Daylight Savings Time. I just can’t seem to adjust or it’s just taking me a lot longer than usual. Today I had some sort of alarm clock trouble (it appears to have lost power briefly) & I overslept until 7:45am (I usually wake up at 6am). I knew I was in trouble when I saw that it was light out & not dark like yesterday morning! So my routine is all off & I feel odd.

I made Jesse’s Cuban Sensation from The Garden of Vegan with some variations as I didn’t have every single ingredient listed. But it was still good.

1 small onion, diced
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced (I used 3)
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 small red bell pepper (I didn't have but I used roasted red peppers as a garnish instead)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded & diced (I didn't have fresh so used some slices of jarred--not a lot or it will be very hot & spicy)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 C jasmine rice (I used 1 1/2 C)
3 C vegetable stock (I used 2 & 1 C plain water)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper (I omit because I find the jalapeno peppers hot enough)
2 C cooked or canned black beans (I just use 1 15 oz can)
2 tbsp lime juice (I didn't have so used 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar)

In a large pan on medium heat, sauté the onion, garlic, peppers, & jalapenos in oil until onions are translucent. Add rice, stock, thyme, salt, pepper, & beans. Bring to a boil then lower heat to simmer for 15 minutes until rice is cooked & water is almost all absorbed. Stir in lime juice & let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I served it with a salad from Vegan Express, again with some variations:

1 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 C packed grated carrots
1/2 C minced fresh parsley (I used 2 tsp dried)
2-3 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced (I used a quarter of a white onion)
1/2 C chopped green pimiento-stuffed (aka Spanish) olives
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon, to taste (I didn't have so used 1 tbsp white wine vinegar)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all & serve. I served mine over a a handful of baby spinach for extra greens.

Monday, March 9, 2009

So What DO You Eat?

Yesterday I worked so J. made another great soup. Adapted from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette (wow, and I thought my name was long!), the recipes in this book make a huge amount because, obviously, they are made to feed a monastery! So we froze half of it leaving the rest to enjoy during the week.

Minestrone di Verdura (Tuscan Green Vegetable Minestrone)

2/3 C olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 15 oz can cannellini beans
1 15 oz can peeled tomatoes
10 C water
2 potatoes, peeled & diced (we use organic so we leave the skins on)
small radicchio, chopped (we didn't have so we left out)
1 bay leaf
1 C white wine (I think he left this out, too, because I don't like wine in my food, at least this much!)
chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Sauté in olive oil the onion, carrots & celery for about 5 minutes. Add the beans & tomatoes & continue to sauté for 2 more minutes.
Add the water & bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, radicchio, wine, bay leaf, parsley, salt & pepper. Cover & simmer for 60 minutes. Turn off heat & let soup stand for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf (it's poisonous if you eat it!). Serve hot.

And today I just made another sandwich/cracker spread for the week. This one is a Black Bean Spread, adapted from The Garden of Vegan:

1 15 oz can of black beans, drained & rinsed
1 small red onion, chopped (I used half of a white onion)
3 tbsp fresh cilantro (I used 1 tsp dried)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp all-purpose spice
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/8 tsp salt

Blend all in the food processor.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What CAN You Eat?

I had some organic zucchini in the refrigerator so I decided to make a side dish with it today. This is Zucchini With Tomatoes and Marjoram adapted from The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer & Tanya Barnard:

3 C zucchini (I just used 5 smallish zucchini) chopped
2-3 cloves garlic (I used 2)
1 tbsp olive oil
Diced tomatoes (I used half of a 16 oz. can)
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
Soy parmesan (optional)

In a large pan on medium heat, sauté the zucchini & garlic in the olive oil until zucchini is tender but still firm. Add the rest of the ingredients & cook an additional 1-2 minutes. We ate this with Boca Chik Patties on sprouted buns, with sautéed onions, lettuce, & Vegenaise.

Today I had the day off and, on days like this, I like to make something a little special, maybe something that takes a little bit longer than usual. This is a modern take on Mexican burritos & is adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan:

Chipotle Veggie-Bean Burritos

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (I used a 16 oz can because that’s all I had & I also don't like a lot of tomato-ey flavor in my cooking as it sometimes overpowers it)
1-1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 C red onion (I used white & I didn't measure; I just used up most of an onion I already had in the fridge)
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
Black pepper to taste
2 tsp chipotle hot sauce (I used Tabasco because it has a flavor that I really like)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp mustard seed (these are cool-looking)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 C green bell pepper, diced (I just used an entire medium-sized one, no measuring)
1/3 C celery, diced (again, I just used one stalk of celery hearts, no measuring)
1 C cooked beans of choice (black, adzuki, etc.) I used an entire 15 oz. can of black
1/2 C frozen corn kernels
1/2 tsp honey alternative (I used agave nectar)
6 large (10") flour tortillas (I just used 8 smaller-sized flour tortillas)
1-1 1/2 C grated soy cheese (I left out because I don't like)

Press the drained tomatoes to remove as much liquid as possible. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil & add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, hot sauce, & all the dried spices & herbs. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes (I did it until the onions were translucent), then add the green pepper & celery & cook another 1-2 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients except half of the diced tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes then remove from heat & allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spoon cooled filling into each of the tortillas (I warmed them first so they wouldn't break apart when I rolled them), leaving a few inches around edges. Roll up each tortilla & place seam side down in a lightly oiled 8" x 12" baking dish or pan. Sprinkle reserved diced tomatoes over top of the burritos. Cover with foil & bake 15 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle on soy cheese if desired, & bake uncovered another 5 minutes.

I had leftover filling from this recipe, so this will be really good reheated tomorrow with some brown rice!

Finally, I served this with my own Guacamole recipe, adapted long ago from an old Fannie Farmer Cookbook:

1-2 avocados (depending on size, if they’re small I use 2)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt & pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
Jalapeno slices (seeds removed unless you really want it hot), minced

Peel & seed avocados. Mash avocado in a bowl & mix with remaining ingredients. I like to serve it with the pit in the center as garnish & also because it keeps the avocado from oxidizing too quickly. Serve with salted corn chips.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

So What DO You Eat?

Yesterday I had some extra hours at the library so I needed to make some more good food!

I made two dishes. The first, a very quick White Bean Hummus and the other a Peanut Sauce for a noodle salad.

To make the hummus, you take 1 can of cannellini (aka white kidney) beans, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2 tbsp tahini, 1 clove garlic sliced, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or raspberry wine vinegar), 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp sea salt, black pepper to taste, 2-3 tbsp water (to thin dip if needed). Blend all in a food processor until smooth. That’s it! In the summer, I add chopped fresh basil, parsley or thyme & stir it in at the end. I use this dip in sandwiches & fill it with lettuce, baby spinach, cucumbers, onions, avocado, even fresh herbs. Pile it on!

Peanut Sauce for noodle salad:

½ C smooth peanut butter (organic if possible)
3 tbsp tamari sauce
1 tbsp fresh ginger (I use ¼ tsp ground)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp toasted (dark) sesame oil
Water to thin as needed (a tsp at a time)

Combine all & blend in a food processor until smooth. Toss with cooked pasta or soba noodles and/or cooked vegetables & chill until ready to serve. I used sautéed carrots, onions, & green pepper.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Vegan Cleaning?

Being vegan spills over into all aspects of my life. But then again, I’ve always questioned how things are done, especially if they’ve been done a certain way for a long time.

For example, when I was growing up, my mother was a traditional housewife who stayed home with us (until fourth grade, and then she only worked part-time so she could be home when we got home from school) and was responsible for the maintenance of our home while our father worked. She always cleaned with products like Comet or Ajax for the sinks & tubs, some horrible blue stuff to clean the toilet, & Mop & Glo, Pinesol or Mr. Clean for the floors. I remember it all being very harsh & strong-smelling. I’ve always had a very sensitive nose and even today, I hate the odor of strong perfumes & cleaners. It literally hurts my nose & even sometimes gives me a headache. Not to mention that I just don’t want to be around these chemicals!

When I had my own household, I learned about alternatives that I had never known about and also because I’m into green living. Such as using Borax to clean the sinks & toilets or white vinegar as all-purpose cleanser & even to mop the floors. Today I use Borax to clean the sinks, Borax & vinegar to clean the toilet, an all-purpose cleanser mix of vinegar, water & a little of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day multi-purpose cleaner (sold at Target or http://www.mrsmeyers.com/) in a spray bottle, & white vinegar, a drop of dish soap & hot water with a few drops of essential oil such as rosemary, lavender, peppermint or cedar wood in a bucket to mop the bathroom & kitchen floors. The house smells clean & fresh & these products clean very well. J. cleans the tub and he prefers to use a store-bought cleaner from Nutri-Foods called Naturally Clean Tub & Tile (but that’s because he usually doesn’t get around to cleaning the tub every week & by the time he does, Borax & a scrub brush make the job too difficult!).

I live in a 1951 bungalow, & my kitchen has not been renovated & has all of the original tile & cupboards. So, of course, I don’t have a dishwasher. I do dishes by hand & I prefer to use Seventh Generation Free & Natural Liquid Dish Cleaner. It comes in lavender (my favorite scent) & is sold at Target as well as Nutri-Foods. It’s also vegan & free of all perfumes & dyes. My husband first introduced me to this & he’s amazed how easily available they are now & how much they have come down in price. I think I pay only about $2.79 at Target for a 25 oz. bottle; Nutri Foods also sells it. Using these products makes cleaning a lot easier for my nose & more pleasant because the house doesn’t smell like chemicals.

My skin is very sensitive, so I also use laundry detergent either from Trader Joe’s or Target that doesn’t contain scent, dyes, or toxic ingredients. I use unscented softener dryer sheets once in a while because I cannot stand the smell of commercial fabric softeners. Again, it hurts my nose. Sometimes I will put a few drops of lavender essential oil on my damp clothes before I turn on the dryer & it’s just enough to give a very subtle scent. But clothes are clean & are supposed to smell clean, not like detergent or fabric softener.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Delicious Muffins

Yesterday afternoon I made some banana cocoa muffins. I like making muffins because they’re so easy to make, quick to bake, & nice to have for a quick (& healthy) dessert during the week.

1/2 C plus 2 tbsp soymilk (or rice milk)
2 tbsp ground flaxseed meal
1 C barley flour
1 C oat flour (or ground oats--I grind quick-cooking whole oats in a grinder)
1/4 C sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 C banana, mashed (about 2 medium bananas)
1/4 C pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp oil (I use vegetable)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine milk & flaxseed meal. Stir then set aside. In a separate large bowl, combine flours, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, & sift in cocoa powder, baking powder, & baking soda. Stir until well combined. Into the flax/milk mixture, add banana, maple syrup, vanilla & oil & stir well. Add wet mix to dry mix & stir until combined. Line a muffin tin w/muffin liners & spoon mixture into liners. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.