Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fresh Blueberries = Scones!

Music: Becoming Jane soundtrack

I've finally found the best vegan scone recipe ever.

Look at these! Aren’t they gorgeous? And they taste just as good as they look.

Babycakes: Vegan, Gluten-Free, & (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from New York’s Most Talked-About Bakery by Erin McKenna

Another wonderful co-worker brought this book to my attention and I’m going to add it to my library. It’s the cutest thing. The bakery has gotten its accolades due to their incredible confections, not just because they’re vegan, which is always nice to see. I love the retro themes throughout the book with flea market finds of vintage aprons, signs, & tchotchkes galore. They also have a fun blog.

I tried the Raspberry Scone recipe but used fresh blueberries instead. Oh, my god! They were so delicious! I’ve tried several different vegan scone recipes & this was the easiest, prettiest, most delicious scone ever!

2 C whole spelt flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/3 C coconut oil

1/3 C agave nectar (plus a bit more for brushing)

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 C hot water

1 C fresh berries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, & salt. Add oil, agave nectar, & vanilla & stir together until a thick, slightly dry batter forms. Pour the hot water into the batter & mix. Fold in berries until just mixed.

For each scone, scoop 1/3 C batter onto prepared baking sheet. Space scoops about 1 inch apart to allow room to spread. If you want, you can lightly brush tops with oil. I skipped this step. Bake scones for 14 minutes on center rack, rotating pan 180 degrees after 7 minutes. Scones will be golden & slightly firm. Remove from oven & brush lightly with agave nectar.

Let scones stand for 15 minutes on baking sheet, then carefully transfer with a spatula to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store scones in airtight container for up to 2 days.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Music: The Beatles, Let it Be...Naked

I recently found out that a co-worker is also Hispanic and we've decided to try speaking to each other in Spanish for practice. Both our parents wanted to learn English when they came to the U.S. so kept the Spanish language a private language between spouses rather than pass it on to their children. A shame, but there it is. As a result, we can get the gist of what people are talking about but that's about it.

So what does that have to do with gazpacho? Well, I've got tons of tomatoes coming in the gardens and my good friend, Maria Elena (same name as me--that's why we're such good friends, also because she's Spanish, just kidding!) gave me a wonderful and easy recipe last summer for gazpacho. Gazpacho is a raw cold soup originating in Spain. I prefer it room temperature but, on a very hot day, it really is refreshing!

Unfortunately, the weather isn't cooperating with me on this and it has been cold, cloudy, & rainy here. But I'm hopeful.

From Cooking Spanish by John Newton:

8 tomatoes
1 green pepper, seeded & chopped (I didn't have so used another jalapeno!)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped (or leave seeds in if you like it hot!)
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (I used only 2 & it was fine)

diced cucumber, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, rice or other leftover grains, or even crushed tortilla chips

The recipe calls for removing the skins of the tomatoes but I tried, even using the boiling water soak. So I left them on & it was absolutely fine. So feel free to skip this cumbersome step.

Put everything in a blender except the oil. Puree until smooth. Add oil then puree again. Allow to chill for at least 2 hours to blend flavors. Done!

I made it last night then enjoyed it for lunch today with chopped cherry tomatoes, raw onion, & leftover brown rice.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Short-Cut" Salads

Music: Incubus, A Crow Left of the Murder

I must buy this book: Short-Cut Vegan by Lorna Sass.

I picked it up at the library (of course). I can't remember if a co-worker told me about it or not. Probably. My co-workers always let me know of new vegan books to add to my library. I've made several recipes just this week from it and they are so easy and delicious, even non-vegans can love it!

Black Bean-Tomato Salsa Salad

1 3/4 C cooked black beans (or 1 15-oz. can, drained & rinsed)
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes (I used 1 1/2 C fresh diced from the garden instead)
1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
1/2 C finely minced onion
1/3 to 1/2 C fresh cilantro (I used basil but you could also use parsley)
3-4 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste

Combine all & let sit for at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend. This is great alone, over lettuce or rice, or even as a dip with corn chips or in a burrito!

Pasta with Broccoli & Olives (serve either warm or as a room temp. salad)

1 1/4 lbs. broccoli (I used 2 small bunches from the Farmers' Market)
8 oz. med. size pasta such as penne, fusilli, or shells (I used fusilli)
1/3 C olives (I used Spanish)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp shoyu or tamari (I used tamari)

While boiling pasta water, prepare broccoli. Chop into 1 inch pieces & rinse in a colander.

Cook pasta for 4 minutes less than indicated on package. Add broccoli & cook until pasta is done, about 3-4 more minutes. Drain & return to pot.

Add rest of ingredients & toss well.

What could be easier? I'm enjoying these leftovers for a few days along with fresh vegetable salads of lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos, radishes & cucumbers or sandwiches.

My gorgeous plate of 3 salads for lunch. So good!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eating Vegan CAN Be Easy

Music: Jason Mraz, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.

You just learn new habits and ways of doing things you're used to doing. When I decided to go vegan, I got rid of a lot of stuff from my kitchen and replaced them with better products. And the best part is that I'm exploring so many new (to me) and wonderful foods to eat! It amazes me how many beans, grains, fruits, & vegetables there are.

My cousin, Suzanne, Jim, & I were talking the other day how our mothers used lots of canned vegetables growing up. As a result, we HATED vegetables. Canned asparagus. Canned beets. What in the world WAS that?! Now that we eat them fresh, we're like, "Wow! So that's how it's supposed to taste!" I'll bet a lot of people feel that way about vegetables.

A co-worker was telling me the other day how much easier it was to just “throw a chicken breast on the grill” rather than eat vegan. I told her I’d just throw some tofu, tempeh, seitan (or Boca Chik patty or Gardenburger or vegetables) on the grill instead. As a bonus, my vegan alternative has no cholesterol and it has fiber, unlike the chicken breast.

I went grocery shopping the other day at Trader Joe’s and came across something I've never seen, Chicken-less Strips. They’re already cooked and only need to be warmed. These were even already lightly seasoned. They’re made of soy and wheat gluten. So they’ll be ready even faster than that unhealthy chicken breast!

I steamed some kale from the garden, set it aside, then warmed the strips. Right before serving, I added the kale back in and stirred to combine. It was delicious served with Jim's garden potatoes.

By the way, here’s what I bought at Trader Joe’s that day, a sample grocery list if you will:

2 half-gallons of soy milk

marinated artichoke hearts

roasted red peppers

organic garbanzo (chickpeas) beans

organic kidney beans

organic black beans

organic diced tomatoes

organic cannellini (white kidney) beans

sliced black olives

Gimme Lean meatless sausage

Trader Joe’s soy chorizo

Tofurkey Italian “sausage”

Organic whole wheat hamburger buns

Trader Joe’s organic multi-grain sprouted bread

organic penne pasta

organic fusilli pasta

organic spaghetti pasta

Trader Joe’s corn tortillas

Whole grain tortillas w/flaxseeds

Trader Joe’s veg chicken-less strips

Trader Joe’s organic baby spinach

Trader Joe’s organic carrots

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lovin' That Farmers' Market!

Music: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Up from Below

Last Saturday at the Farmers’ Market I picked up these adorable tiny radishes. They’re so cute. I enjoy them in salads but I also like to make radish sandwiches.

Thinly spread soy buttery spread (I like Earth Balance brand found at Trader Joe's or Nutri Foods) on two slices of bread of your choice then add thin slices of radishes. Add a couple leaves of crispy lettuce.

We also bought lettuce, broccoli, and of course, blueberries!

I had to work an odd shift at the library (12-5), but it was too early for lunch. But I had to eat something since I'd only get a 15 minute break at 3pm. So Second Breakfast was the logical choice.

This is toasted Food for Life cinnamon raisin bread (LOVE their stuff!) and slices of Farmers’ Market apricots, my mother’s favorite fruit. I wish she lived closer so that she could enjoy these. I think of her every time I eat them.

This is a quick dinner. Tofu sandwich on toasted Breadsmith French Peasant bread, wilted kale, & sliced cucumbers from the garden with just ground pepper.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vegan Tostadas & Burritos

Music: Amelie soundtrack

I bought some corn tortillas last week for some variety and it has been fun to experiment with different grains, soy, & beans to make quick meals!

The ones on the left were made with a recipe from Sarah Kramer's books. Sauteed onions, green pepper, jalapeno, celery, garlic & chili powder, cumin, sea salt, ground pepper to taste, & 1/4 C vegetable broth with homemade black beans. Topped with fresh avocado, black olive slices, chopped tomato & lettuc, & my homemade salsa. Served with brown rice & roasted beets=yum! I just warmed the corn tortillas a bit in the toaster oven at 300 degrees.

The next ones were made with browned Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo, chopped lettuce, tomato, onions, broken corn chips, & homemade salsa.

These burritos that Jim made for lunch were made with Trader Joe's whole wheat flour tortillas (they have flaxseed in them!), brown rice, chopped lettuce, & tomato, homemade salsa, & the last of the original bean mixture from the first recipe. Jim found that it's the enriched white flour tortillas that affect his digestion; the whole wheat do not. So that's all we buy now.

Great vegan variety using fresh produce from the garden. Especially those awesome Michigan tomatoes! Can't get enough!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Potluck Picnic

Music: robins in the cedar hedge.

Okay. So today was our library's picnic except, sadly, it was held inside because of rain!

I made two salads just to be sure I'd have something filling to eat as well as to share. Sadly, again, I was running short on time so didn't take pictures! So recipes will just have to suffice.

As it turns out, there were Boca veggie burgers (hooray!) and someone also made another vegan salad. So between my "burger" and the 3 salads, not to mention some awesome VEGAN cupcakes as well as fresh fruit, I was having a great time. Oh, and I also brought my afternoon iced latte...

Quinoa Spring Salad from Vive Le Vegan:

This is the recipe as I made it, which means I've added more vegetables than they say. What can I say? I love vegetables!

3 C cooked quinoa (1 C raw), cooled (I usually make it the day before to save a step)
1 C fresh or frozen green peas (if you use frozen, soak them first to thaw in boiling water)
1 1/2 C roasted red bell peppers, chopped
1/4 C diced onions
1 C cucumber, diced
1/4 C hemp seed nuts
4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp Simple Cider Vinaigrette

Simple Cider Vinaigrette

1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil

With a handblender or in a blender, combine all ingredients EXCEPT the oil & puree. Continue blending as you slowly add olive oil.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container.

The second salad I made is called Spinach, Artichoke, & Chickpea Salad and it's from one of my all-time favorite vegan cookbooks, Vegan Express. This is a stunning salad, both in taste and appearance. Again, I've modified where I couldn't find ingredients.

6 oz. baby spinach
1 12 oz. jar marinated artichokes, drained & cut in half
1/3 C sliced black olives
1 15 oz. can chickpeas (or 1 C cooked), drained & rinsed
1 C cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 C baby carrots, cut in half lengthwise
1 C drained & sliced roasted red or yellow peppers
3 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
Lemon or lime juice to taste

Combine all & mix well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lemonade for the Impatient

Music: Luna, Rendevous

I love lemonade but most recipes I've seen over the years require that you first make a sort of sugar syrup (that you must boil to dissolve the sugar!) before you can even think of adding the water. I say this is just too long & too much trouble when I want lemonade immediately. Quick! So I can grab my book & run outside & read!

In Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan, there is finally a recipe that makes it quick, easy, & delicious without being overly sweet. I also like to add slices of lemons & mint to my glass. This recipe can also be made with limes for limeade, my mother’s favorite.

1/2 C fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 C cold water

2 tbsp turbinado sugar

Stir well. That’s it!

For dinner last night, I made this simple dish that I've made in a past blog post, but I've since reduced the oil.

Pasta with 5-Minute Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

Pasta, dry, enough for 2

3/4 C roasted red peppers, drained

1/3 C walnuts

1/2 C fresh basil, tightly packed

1/4 C fresh parsley, tightly packed

1 garlic clove (or more if you like it really garlicky)

2 tbsp olive oil (the recipe called for 1/4 C which I think is too much)

Cook pasta. Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend together the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil. Slowly add olive oil while blending until well mixed. Drain pasta then return to pot. Add pesto to pasta then stir until well-coated. Serve hot or room temperature. This is even good the next day cold.

We ate it with some roasted carrots and zucchini and I made a raw side salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, & mixed greens.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Beach Weekend Vacation

Music: Cat Stevens, Tea for the Tillerman

Well, I'm back from my weekend in South Haven & really miss it for some reason! I've always loved the big lakes in Michigan, I love swimming, & I just love the summer. I would love to live by some big water someday and this vacation, though brief, has really got me thinking about the future.

But in the meantime, let me tell you about what I ate! This beautiful picture shows some absolutely amazing bread we bought at the Farmers' Market in downtown South Haven. It's called Seedy Salt bread and it's made by a company called Salt of the Earth in Fennville, Michigan, which is very near South Haven. It's made with all kinds of seeds including fennel, flax, & poppy and topped with French sea salt. It was one of the best breads I have ever tasted. I must find this recipe!

We bought some hummus in town at a little place called The Depot, which was a cross between a liquor store & a deli. And those are some green beans we brought from home. We also bought some mixed greens to top the sandwiches with. We ate these on the beach on Saturday.

The evening before we ate hummus with pitas & 2 kinds of grain salads back at the gorgeous Yelton Manor Guest House we stayed at, a mere block from the beach on Lake Michigan.

In town, we discovered a cute little place called Cafe Julia where we got our twice-daily iced soy lattes and some delicious veggie sandwiches on whole wheat bread. We told them to omit the basil pesto mayonnaise & cheese & add Dijon mustard instead. They were very nice & accommodating.

From home, we brought some fresh blueberries, cucumbers, & carob & blueberry muffins to enjoy. The guest house had a refrigerator so we could keep the produce cold.

Before we left, I had asked the innkeepers, Elaine & Robert, about accommodating us for breakfast. They very graciously served us homemade granola with soy milk and fresh-squeezed orange juice. It had honey in it but we do the best that we can! They also steered us to vegan-friendly food options for lunch and dinner.

All in all, a very relaxing weekend with some very good food.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Shopping in My Back Yard

Music: Claude Debussy

Well, Jim's hard work is really paying off in some wonderful fresh vegetables! We are picking green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, jalapenos, zucchini, & green peppers daily and even his potatoes are coming in. They're so little and cute. I prefer vegetables smaller; they are much more flavorful to me that those gigantic grocery store vegetables.

I made a potato salad with them the other day. Along with a quick cucumber & radish salad with fresh lemon juice, Vegenaise, sea salt & ground pepper dressing. I served both over lettuce leaves.

The Inn Season has a house salad called the Inn Season Salad and it consists of all raw vegetables, including the cutest little sprouts. So I asked Jim to grow me some sprouts for my salads and, with a package from Nutri Foods, this is what we're picking in a pot outside the kitchen door.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer Means Plums!

Music: Edie Brickell, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars

As a child, I definitely preferred fruits to vegetables. I'm not sure why; maybe my mother fed me fruit first? But it wasn't until college that I really began to eat my vegetables--scary to think that now but it's true! And it wasn't until I went vegan that I began experimenting with different fruits and vegetables.

But I always loved fruit. My absolute favorite were plums. Dark, juicy, plump plums. My mother always bought them for me but I can't remember the first time I ate one. In fact, I don't remember anyone but me eating them.

When I went vegan and started shopping at the Farmers' Market, I discovered different varieties of plums. Look at these beautiful yellow ones I got last Saturday! This batch was perfectly sweet, juicy, and fresh.

I found a poem by William Carlos Williams last year that captures my fascination with plums. Read it while enjoying a nice juicy plum.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Invasion of the Green Beans

Music: Frank Sinatra, The Best of the Rat Pack

Since the green beans are coming so fast & furious in the garden now, Jim is blanching and freezing them. We've roasted some to eat warm or leftover in salads, but I found a recipe in Super Natural Cooking that I adapted with ingredients I had on hand to eat even more of them!

I pulsed them (in small handfuls) in my food processor so they were about 1/8 " pieces, then I steamed them briefly in a little water. Then I added some onions (which I also pulsed in the food processor), some chopped jalapenos from the garden (sans seeds), a dash of Tabasco sauce, some salt & pepper, & a mix of olive oil and white wine vinegar for the dressing. It was a fun and very different way to enjoy green beans.

This is a Boca gardenburger on a whole wheat bun from Trader Joe's, served with lettuce & raw onions, organic ketchup & mustard, with roasted green beans and a side salad of cucumbers & cherry tomatoes from the garden, radishes & parsley from the Farmers' Market. I made up a quick dressing with about a tablespoon of Vegenaise, fresh lemon juice, sea salt & ground pepper.

And this is a tempeh salad I enjoyed for lunch the other day. It's served on a pita with radishes, sprouts, & parsley and a side salad of leftover green bean salad, cherry tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, & avocado. I rolled up the pita after I took the picture. I prefer to use the pita bread this way as opposed to pockets because I never seem to cut them evenly & the bread becomes so thin it falls apart. This way I taste more of the pita, which is so warm and soft. I heat them briefly in my toaster oven at about 200 degrees for about 2-3 minutes and they fold up really nice. I like the Francis Mediterranean Bakery brand that is made in Windsor. They are so soft and I found that is the brand that Steve's BackRoom also uses. I buy them at Hollywood Market in downtown Royal Oak.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Garden Tomatoes are Here!

Music: Led Zeppelin, Latter Days

Finally, the garden is beginning to slowly yield those fresh, delicious, outstanding Michigan tomatoes! It has been almost year since I've had them since I refuse to eat grocery store tomatoes in the winter. They don't taste like anything, are mushy, and somehow eating a tomato in the winter just feels weird.

I layered them on my open-faced hummus sandwich on toasted rye bread. And that's a salad of lettuce, cherry tomatoes (my favorite!), raspberries, green beans, cucumbers, and onions with a little bit of leftover navy bean salad Jim made the other day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Do You Spend a lot of Time Cooking?

Music: Helen Forrest, Your Hit Parade 1944

I'm not sure what some people mean when they ask me that question. I guess in relation to most people and food, though, I spend a lot of time cooking. But I don't think it's a lot of time. I can get a lot done in little bursts of time.

I was talking to a co-worker last night about food and she asked me how much time I thought I spend cooking. I told her I can make a meal in less than 30 minutes (and she said that wasn't bad) but in the summer, that's really not how I like to cook. As I've mentioned before, I don't have air conditioning so I don't like to turn on the oven. And, because I often don't work until the afternoon, that leaves me the mornings to make something quick to have, such as a salad or a hummus, during the week. Then I have stuff on hand to make quick meals such as fresh vegetables, fruit, breads for sandwiches (like pita bread, tortillas, sprout bread, French bread, etc.), and some tofu, tempeh, or a Boca Chik patty.

The other day Jim made another unique salad but this time he used amaranth. It actually looks like a seed and, while you can't really see it in this picture, the seeds cling to the vegetables in the salad. You cook it quick like bulgur or quinoa. As always, we just add whatever veggies we have on hand. This is my plate with some roasted beets, and added jalapeno slices, cherry tomatoes, and avocado.

The picture to the left is just one of those quick meals I mentioned, with a mix of vegetables from our garden and the Farmers' Market and a Boca Chik patty. The dressing is a quick mix of lemon juice, Vegenaise, sea salt & pepper.