Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Monday, June 29, 2009

We Interrupt This Vegan Blog...

Music: Nirvana

to show you the beautiful piece I found at the Farmers' Market last week! This is so pretty and is perfect for my dining room to store my cookbooks!

I don't know if I've said this before but I prefer to buy things used if I can find them (clothes, purses, furniture, etc.) instead of buying brand new. It's part of my recycling philosophy I guess.

As the vendor was wheeling it out to my car, everyone was stopping me and telling me how beautiful this cabinet was. It's solid wood so it's heavier than it looks.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Vegan Treats

Music: Iron and Wine

As you've guessed, summer is my favorite season of the year. I'm always outside as much as possible, usually reading a book, and enjoying something cool to drink.

This is a simple recipe for peach iced tea from Super Natural Cooking. In a saucepan, take 4 cups boiling water & add 4 black tea bags (I use Earl Gray) & allow to steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bags & let mixture cool (this will prevent cloudiness). Pour into a pitcher & add 4 cups of peach nectar (I like Looza brand). Serve over ice and add a few fresh sprigs of mint or peach slices for garnish.

Jim makes several recipes really well. He makes pancakes, tomato sauce, granola, popcorn on the stove, and ice cream! He bought an electric ice cream maker several years ago & whips up all sorts of good concoctions. He has been tweaking several recipes for the best vegan ice cream & I think he has finally found it! At Sprout House, he found something called MimicCreme near the soy, rice, & almond milks. This stuff is incredible! It's made with nuts, filtered water, & tapioca starch. When used in this recipe, it comes out so smooth and delicious, in taste & texture. W-O-W! This is chocolate but I can't wait to try vanilla to make ice cream sandwiches, which have always been a favorite of mine. He also made some coffee ice cream, which he loves.

The best thing about making vegan ice cream is there is no need to heat ingredients to boiling because you're not using eggs. Eggs, as you know, must be cooked at certain temperatures to prevent salmonella. All you do with this is mix it in a blender then pour it into the ice cream maker. Easy, quick, and delicious.

2 C MimicCreme
1/2 C almond milk
1/2 C cocoa
1/2 C pure maple syrup

Serve with a good book!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two Summer Salads

Music: The Weepies

I've mentioned before that I often go to Grosse Pointe since Jim & I used to live on the east side of Detroit for 3 years. During that time, we made some good friends & I also get my hair cut in Grosse Pointe Park so we're out that way at least once a month.

One of my favorite places to eat there is the Sprout House in downtown Grosse Pointe Park. It's just the cutest little place that sells organic & vegan food (but also food for meat eaters), groceries as well as freshly made sandwiches, soups, & salads. And it's so busy there, too, because it's so good. I introduced Vegenaise to my friend, James, & now he buys it there all the time. (Of course, he eats it with eggs so that kind of defies the purpose, but that's another story!) We'll even buy takeout to enjoy in the park by Lake St. Clair when I visit him. Love watching the boats!

Anyway, one of my favorite things to do is figure out the ingredients & make whatever I ate at home. Such is the case with these two delicious & easy summer salads.

The first is a sesame noodle salad made with soba noodles cooked until al dente, then tossed with toasted sesame oil, slivers of finely chopped green onions, minced garlic, soy sauce, sesame seeds, apple cider vinegar & red pepper flakes. I just mixed a little of this & that until it looked right. I don't like a lot of oil so I started with a tablespoon then went from there. I think I only used about 2 tsp of the vinegar & 1 tbsp of the soy sauce. Served chilled, this is wonderful.

The tempeh salad is kind of a take on chicken salad with some of the same ingredients (except for the chicken, of course!). I prepare the tempeh by simmering it (cut into strips) for about 30 minutes in water & a vegetable bouillon cube with a couple of lemon slices. This takes some of the strong taste that tempeh is noted for (& that Jim doesn't like unless I do this step first). As I've said before, I like it any way but this way he can enjoy it, too. Then I added Vegenaise (until my desired moistness), tarragon, sea salt, pepper, leftover brown rice, finely chopped onion, diced celery, & some dried cranberries. The brown rice adds a nice touch to this & makes it more filling. Serve over a bed of lettuce & eat as is or make a sandwich or wrap. James told me that if I hadn't told him it wasn't chicken, he never would have known!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Potluck or Party Food

Music: Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme

Last Friday night, I was invited by a co-worker to a Twilight party; a little get together of just women around my age (40 plus). It was almost a Twilight-bashing party, really, since all of them (except me) had kids and they were going on and on about how inappropriate it was for their daughters--most of us, mind you, had mothers who did no such thing. My mother only saw I was reading, she never censored what I picked up. I read what a lot of those women would consider "inappropriate" books but so what? Anyway....we're here to talk about what I brought.

A bean & grain salad is always good to bring to parties & potlucks because it keeps really well, it's very flavorful, & it looks pretty!

This is my usual toss-it-together recipe except that, instead of couscous, I cooked some orzo. They loved it!

I just cooked some orzo (sorry I don't have measurements but I think it was almost a 1/2 C uncooked), then tossed in a cubed avocado, 2 C of thawed black beans, 1/2 C roasted red peppers, some onions finely diced, the juice of one lime, 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil (I eyeball how moist the salad is getting as I add oil--I hate drenched oily salads). And....hmmm...I think that's it. Salt & pepper, and 1/2 tsp cumin, too. Oh, and some chopped cilantro from the garden. Quick & easy but it looks impressive and like I spent a long time making it, doesn't it?

And this is my lunch the next day, the last of the potluck salad with a toasted hummus sandwich & fresh strawberries from the Farmers' Market.

Oh, one more aside from that party; many of the women there were intrigued with my being vegan (great conversation starter as you can see!). They told me they just can't help "craving meat." I can't remember where I saw a quote the next day (probably Twitter) but someone said something like, "if you stop eating it, you will stop craving it." So true! Besides the obvious (dairy, eggs, meat) that I've stopped eating, I've also stopped eating sugary foods. And I no longer crave them. In fact, a lot of desserts & sweets are just too sweet for me. I always find myself reducing sugar/sweeteners in recipes now. Cool!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mini Road Trip

Music: birds singing & fountain burbling on the front porch

Today was a little road trip to Morenci, Michigan, a little town about 2 hours southwest from Royal Oak. We went to the Stair Public Library to meet author Elizabeth Berg one of my favorite fiction authors. It was lots of fun; she was so gracious, smiling even with her eyes, and the audience asked lots of good questions. I even got up the nerve to ask her a question! There were some refreshments afterwards, where Jim and I enjoyed some raw veggies and fresh fruit. The staff of the little library even presented Elizabeth Berg with a basket of fresh lettuce and other Michigan produce!

On the drive home, of course, we were ready for dinner so we stopped in Ann Arbor and ate at Seva. I enjoyed a cilantro-peanut stir fry while Jim ordered the North African couscous. All in all, a very enjoyable day with beautiful Michigan summer weather.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Abundant Garden Salads are Here!

Music: REO Speedwagon

Jim made us these salads to enjoy with our hummus sandwiches at lunch yesterday. Lettuce, cilantro, parsley, & sprouts (love sprouts! they're so cute!) from the garden--from a bag mix he bought at Nutri Foods--, strawberries from the farm stand on the way home from Manistee, & onions from the Farmers' Market, with a dressing of Veganaise, pomegranate syrup (from Steve's Backroom), olive oil, white wine vinegar, & a dash of ground ginger & onion powder.
I can't wait until the green peppers, jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, beets, & cucumbers can be added to these impromptu salads! It's so exciting.

It's funny, but when summer arrives I always feel this need to rush out and embrace it and enjoy it before--poof!--it's over. I can't believe the 4th of July is only a few short weeks away already. It's true: time goes much faster when you're an adult. But I still feel like a kid, especially in the summer.

I still sit out on my lounge chair in the backyard, on my beach towel under my big red umbrella, listening to my iPod (Styx, Todd Rundgren, and REO Speedwagon!), reading my book. I love summer!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Strawberries & Souvenirs

Music: Death Cab for Cutie

Do people still bring home souvenirs? It has been so long since I've gone out of town for a vacation that I don't even know.  But Jim came home from his fishing trip to Manistee yesterday and brought me home this beautiful tea cup he found at a farmer's barn/flea market. It's so pretty! Even the saucer is so gorgeous I had to show you! The design in the cup has flowers and tiny strawberries inside the rim. 

He also brought me some Michigan strawberries from a farm stand. They tasted SO good. Nothing can beat a Michigan strawberry. They're so little, full of flavor, & tender. I ate some before bed last night in my new cup.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tofu Salad

Music: Henry & June soundtrack

Yesterday after working at the library all day, I decided to make something simple for dinner.  So I took 2 slices of firm tofu and cut them into strips, patted them dry in a dish towel, & in a skillet with 1 tsp of toasted sesame oil & 2 tsp Bragg's, I sauteed them with a little sprinkling of all-purpose spice (this is the same recipe as when I make a tofu sandwich). I then chopped up some fresh lettuce leaves from the garden and spooned the leftover bean salad with some fresh chopped avocado, pepperoncini, & Spanish olives, & served the tofu over all of that. Yum!

And for dessert, I enjoyed a Tofutti Cutie.
These are absolutely delicious. I've always loved ice cream sandwiches but always thought they were a little big. These are just the right size and only 130 calories without the dairy. If you've never tried them before, I highly recommend them. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Quick & Easy Vegan Meals

Music: The Sea & Cake

For dinner the other night, Jim made some quick tomato sauce using leftover diced tomatoes from the refrigerator, diced button mushrooms, 1 tbsp olive oil, a few cloves of minced garlic, & dried oregano.  He first sauteed the garlic & mushrooms in the olive oil, then added the diced tomatoes & oregano. I wasn't actually watching his every move (I was making the rotini pasta and the sauteed mushrooms, onions, and kale from the garden) and I can't ask him now because he is off on a fishing trip in Manistee.  This was wonderful! Jim even ate the leftover pasta chilled the next day as a salad, it was that good.

For lunch, I ate a hummus sandwich on toasted sprouted Trader Joe's bread with lettuce from the garden, onions, & avocado. That's a rice & bean salad on the side made with leftover brown rice, 2 cups adzuki beans, the juice of one lemon, dash of Tabasco sauce, dash of cayenne (okay, maybe more than a dash because I like a little spice), diced roasted red & yellow peppers, diced avocado, sliced onions, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, & some whole Spanish olives.

I'm solo this weekend & I'm working all weekend, too, so I will probably mostly eat salads I think (the lettuce is coming fast in the gardens now) with sauteed tofu or tempeh. I bought some pita bread for quick sandwiches, too.

I met my friend for lunch yesterday at Steve's Backroom in St. Clair Shores and tried the Backroom Falafil, which is a warmed pita bread, with hummus, tabbouleh, and falafel. It was very good and very filling. I also picked up a soy latte from Caribou. I love that cafes now have soy milk! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Quick & Simple

Music: Collective Soul

Sometimes the best meals are those that are thrown together quickly with ingredients and leftovers already on hand. And, when the weather turns warmer, I love doing this. As much as I enjoy cooking, I don't always feel like doing it. Really, it's true! That's why it's good to make extra stuff. I had some bulgur, some leftover tempeh, and vegetables from both the gardens and the Farmers' Market in the fridge. And I had bought some absolutely delicious pepperoncini (Delallo brand from Hollywood Market). 

This is just a simple salad Jim created for himself tonight. Leftover reheated tempeh and cut into cubes, lettuce, onions, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, pepperonicini, avocado, and a dressing of tahini, olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt, ground pepper, & agave nectar. Fresh and pretty. Oh, and delicious, too, of course! 

And this is what I ate: reheated tempeh, a side salad of carrots, pepperonicini, lettuce, onions, avocado with a dressing of lemon juice, sea salt, & pepper. And brown rice on the side. Yum!

And, while I didn't take a picture, for lunch at work today (since I worked a full 8 hours instead of my usual 5) I took a hummus, lettuce, onion sandwich on rye bread, a salad of bulgur, onions, carrots, pepperoncini, lemon juice, sea salt, & pepper, potato chips, banana, double iced latte with soymilk, & homemade biscotti. I ate it in the library's Peace Garden. Bliss!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Weekend Food

Music: AM580 "The Sounds of Sinatra"

This is a salad I just made up today for dinner using one Boca Chik patty, some jarred pepperonicini, lettuce, thyme, savory, parsley, lemon balm, mixed sprouts, & kale from the garden, some leeks from the Farmers' Market, some bulgur I made yesterday tossed in, & topped with a dressing made of Vegenaise, lemon juice, dried dill, sea salt & pepper. Outstanding!

Yesterday, we reheated some leftover Vegan Paella and I sauteed some tempeh in a little olive oil, Bragg's, & all-purpose spice mix, served with a little mixed lettuce/leek salad. I'll use the leftover tempeh as a sandwich filling over the next few days with a bunch of raw vegetables.

This is the chick pea smash I've made so many times. I also like to call it "Tuna without the smell" as it uses the same exact ingredients to make tuna fish! Who knew chick peas could taste so good? These were chick peas I cooked in a large batch, froze, then thawed as I use them. Just pulse 2 cups of chick peas in a food processor, toss in a large bowl. Pulse a couple stalks of celery hearts, 1/2 of an onion, & about 2 inches of a dill pickle, toss in the bowl. Then add Vegenaise until creamy, a couple squirts of mustard, some sea salt & pepper, & mix it all up. So good!

Of course, my days would not be complete without my latte. Look how well soy milk foams up with my cappuccino maker! Who knew? Bon appetit!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vegan Paella

Music: Missy Higgins

Jim & I made this paella in about 30 minutes last night for dinner. It's very loosely based on the "Paella Vegetariana" recipe from Vegan Express, but once again, we deviated because we didn't have every single ingredient. 

1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 C jasmine, basmati, or brown rice (if you use brown rice, just know that the rice takes about 35-40 minutes to cook vs. 15-20 for the jasmine or basmati)
2 C vegetable broth
1 C water
1 C roasted red peppers, chopped
6 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 C chives, chopped (we had run of onions so this was in the garden that was the closest in flavor)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C chopped portobello mushroom stems (leftover from the portobello mushroom sandwiches)
1 1/2 C frozen peas, slightly thawed (I'm not going to go that extra step, so I just let them sit out while I worked on other stuff)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Sea salt & pepper to taste
2 C diced tomatoes
1/4 C fresh parsley
1/2 to 3/4 C Spanish olives, whole

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute onions & garlic about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes more. Then add tomatoes, rice, broth, water, & thyme. Bring to a slight boil, then lower heat to simmer, cover, & let cook about 15 minutes. Stir in artichokes, peas, & half of the parsley. Check to make sure rice is done. If needed, add more water but this has never happened so I usually have the opposite problem of making sure the rice absorbs all the water. Season with salt & pepper. Cook about 3 more minutes until all is heated through. I usually add the olives at this point.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Two Meals

Music: Deb Talan

Here are two quick and easy meals:

This is some roasted asparagus with a Sol organic gardenburger with lettuce from the Farmers' Market. Which reminds me that Jim was able to pick some fresh lettuce from the garden this afternoon so that maybe we won't have to get any on Saturday from the Farmers' Market. We'll see. We go through lettuce pretty fast.

And this is the Mushroom Bake I've made before with the last of the leftover jasmine rice and sauteed spinach. 

We also ate the last two slices of the birthday cake today.

Now I have to figure out what we'll have for dinner tonight. I'm thinking a vegan paella. I'll let you know.

Monday, June 1, 2009

So What Have You Eaten Lately?

Music: George Harrison

These are some of the first lettuces from our garden. Well, Jim planted them but I eat them. Jim bought some seedlings in April from some organic farmers at the Farmers' Market, & here are the results! Yum. Our own lettuce from seeds won't be ready for a few more weeks.

I wanted a light dinner, so I just made some jasmine rice and roasted some asparagus in the toaster oven.

This is a wonderful salad I made this morning; I just cooked some couscous, then added adzuki beans (that I had cooked & frozen a few weeks ago, then thawed in the fridge last night), corn, Spanish olives, diced onion, chopped carrots & celery (shredded in my food processor), chopped roasted red & yellow peppers, with a dressing of an entire lime, 1/2 tbsp flax oil, 1/2 tbsp olive oil, dash of Tabasco sauce, dash of cayenne, 1 tsp cumin, & ground pepper to taste. This will last for a few days of delightfulness.

Roasted beets & beet greens (you know, the green parts of the beets that most people think you should throw out) with a Boca Chik patty with onions, lettuce, & Vegenaise on a whole wheat bun from Trader Joe's.

And this is some leftover roasted potatoes, Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo, & steamed spinach from the Farmers' Market.