Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Friday, October 30, 2009

Carrot Slaw & More

This is the sweet brown rice that Jim bought at Holiday Market last weekend. It's a very short grained brown rice that cooks in about 40-45 minutes, plenty of time to cook something to fill some burritos!

Along with the rice, we made Larry's Refried Beans from How It All Vegan:

2 C cooked or canned beans (we used pinto)
1/2 C vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C cilantro, chopped (we used 1 tbsp dried since we didn't have fresh)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Roma tomato, sliced (we used 1/4 C canned since there are no more tomatoes)

In a medium saucepan, cook all the ingredients on medium heat 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash slightly with a fork.

I also made my homemade salsa and to the burritos we added arugula & raw onions.

For lunch the other day, I made a new recipe of a Carrot Slaw from Shortcut Vegan. It's a nice little addition to salads & sandwiches, like a hummus pita with arugula & raw onions.

2 tbsp olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon (or lime) juice

parsley or cilantro, fresh, chopped, to taste

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

4-5 large carrots, scrubbed & quartered

1/4 C dried currants (or cranberries), optional

In a food processor, blend oil, garlic, parsley, & spices. Pour into a large bowl.

Add carrots to food processor & pulse until finely chopped. Toss carrots with currants & dressing until well coated. This is great over salad greens or in a wrap or pita bread.

**In my family, there was ALWAYS music playing on the record player. My parents had a very diverse collection of Cuban & Mexican music (think Bene More, Trio Matamoros, etc.) as well as whatever was the rage (think disco). When I was about fourteen, I discovered their big band swing albums, thus forever dooming myself to geekdom. I fell in love with the sound, the vocalists and their harmonies (such as The Modernaires with Glenn Miller & The Pied Pipers with Tommy Dorsey, along with the solo singers Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes, Helen O'Connell, & Jo Stafford). I got their autographs and went to their shows at Meadow Brook Music Festival. In fact, I got to meet Helen Forrest and Tex Beneke when they played there. What sixteen year old does that? Weird, I know. But it was fun. To this day, I love the music and style of the 1940s.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Banana Bread

Yeah. So I seem to to be baking again. It's that time of year! And I do love banana bread.

From BabyCakes by Erin McKenna, I halved this recipe. This is as I made it, so feel free to double it for the original, larger-sized loaf. Truth is, I didn't have enough bananas. And besides, there are only two people in this household so there you are.

1 C Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp xanthum gum (found at Nutri-Foods)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 C coconut oil

1/3 C agave nectar

1/3 C rice (or soy) milk

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2-3 medium bananas, peeled & mashed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees & lightly grease a 7 x 4 x 3 inch loaf pan. I use Pam organic spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthum gum, salt, & cinnamon. Then add the rest of the ingredients and stir well until smooth.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes, rotating 180 degrees after 20 minutes. Loaf is done when golden brown, it bounces back when lightly pressed, & toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let loaf stand in pan for 10 minutes before turning carefully onto a cooling rack. Store covered tightly for up to 3 days. This also freezes well.

**I'm probably aging myself here, but that's okay. This album was very popular when I was in junior high. My brother got it (as a record!!) as a gift and we listened to it over and over way back in 1981! I still have it in my vinyl collection and listen to it (crackles and all) on my phonograph player. "What's that?!"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Music: Jim's string quartet, practicing very nicely downstairs!

I've joined a concert band! The South Oakland Concert Band! We meet every Monday evening to rehearse at 7:30pm and I'm having a blast! I'm so glad I did this. I've met some very nice & welcoming people who love to make music, just like I do.

So our first concert was yesterday and we were all asked to bring a dozen cookies (yes, we serve refreshments at our concerts!). I made these delicious chocolate chips cookies (and there were some left over to keep at home!). From Vive Le Vegan!

1 1/4 C spelt flour (my new favorite flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 C unrefined sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 C pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 vegetable oil
1/3 C vegan chocolate chips (I like Trader Joe's brand; they're milk-free & inexpensive)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper & set aside. In a large bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder & baking soda. Add sugar & salt and stir until well mixed. In a separate small bowl, combine the maple syrup, molasses, & vanilla, then stir in the oil until well combined. Add the wet mixture to the dry, along with the chocolate chips, & stir until just well mixed. Do not over-mix. Place spoonfuls of the cookie dough on the baking sheets, about 1/2 inch to 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-11 minutes, until just golden (don't bake too much longer or they will dry out). Let cool on baking sheet for one minute (again, to prevent drying), then transfer to cooling racks.

This is the best vegan chocolate chip recipe I've found yet; so it's well-marked in my cookbooks for future reference!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pea Soup with Garlic

Music: New Moon, original motion picture soundtrack

I can’t believe how quick and easy this soup was to make. It was a chilly damp day & my mouth was sore from the dentist so soup just sounded good to me. It's a very fast & very nutritious soup. If you have any leftover grains (like rice or quinoa) in the fridge, they would be a wonderful addition to this soup.

This took me maybe 20 minutes to make, really!

From The Complete Book of Vegan Cooking, this is Pea Soup with Garlic. As always, I've tweaked things so this is written as I made it:

2 tbsp olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

8 C frozen (or fresh) peas

5 C vegetable stock (I used 2 cubes vegetable bouillon to 5 C water)

2 tbsp soy margarine

sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot & add garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes (make sure garlic doesn’t brown) then add peas. Cook 1-2 minutes more, then add the stock.
  2. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover & cook 5-6 minutes until peas are tender. Remove from heat & blend with hand blender to desired consistency. As I always like little chunks, I didn’t do it until completely smooth.
  3. Season with salt & pepper to taste & add margarine.

I ate it with the leftover Carrot & Nut Biryani and some toasted sprouted bread.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Homemade Body Buttter

As readers of this blog may or may not know, I create a lot of my own personal care products. Body lotion is one of them. But with the cold weather coming, I thought I needed something a little thicker. I get very dry skin in the winter, especially on my legs, so this is a wonderfully rich cream. And it's so easy to make. Really and truly it is!

From Natural Beauty at Home by Janice Cox:

1/4 C grated cocoa butter (I just use it spooned from the jar; I buy it at Nutri-Foods in downtown Royal Oak)
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp sesame oil (NOT toasted)
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 tbsp grated beeswax (yes, I realize this isn't vegan, however, I haven't found an alternative to using products from bees; I also buy the beeswax & all my oils from Nutri-Foods)

Combine all ingredients in a glass measuring cup. Place the cup in a pan with about 1-2 inches of water (I usually use a saute pan). This is a water bath. Melt the ingredients and wax.

Pour the melted mix into a clean jar and let cool. Jim's grandmother kindly saved me some old glass Avon jars so that's what I used. The recipe says to stir the cooled mixture, but I didn't. It still spreads nicely. Just don't put it in the fridge or you won't be able to spread it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Salad & Biryani

Music: playlist on my iPod (That70sList)

I love celery. But I use it mostly as a spice or herb in my kitchen. I also love to eat it alone, with sea salt or even peanut butter because of its sharp, crisp taste. I never in a million years thought to use it in a salad!

This is Celery & Coconut Salad with Lime, adapted from The Complete Book of Vegan Cooking, as I made it:

4 tbsp lite coconut milk

2 garlic cloves, minced

juice of one lime

8 long celery sticks, grated (I used the food processor)

1-2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

few sprigs of fresh parsley

1/2 C sweet brown rice (leftover from what Jim cooked on Sunday)

In a small bowl, mix together the coconut milk, garlic, & lime juice. In large bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. Add as much dressing as you want. I store leftover dressing & salad separately in the fridge & mix together later as needed.

I’ve made biryani recipes before, but this one caught my eye because it mixes two of my favorite ingredients: carrots & nuts. Again, I never thought to use them together. This was absolutely delicious! Again, adapted from The Complete Book of Vegan Cooking:

2 tbsp vegetable (or canola) oil

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1-2 carrots, grated (again, I used the good old food processor--one of my best friends!)

1 C basmati rice (you can also use brown basmati or jasmine, just cook it longer)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

2 C vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

3/4 C walnuts & cashews

sea salt & ground pepper to taste

fresh parsley for garnish

  1. In a large, shallow pan, heat the oil & saute onion for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic & carrots & cook another 3 minutes. Add the rice & spices and cook for another 1-2 minutes stirring to coat the grains in the oil.
  2. Pour in the stock, add the bay leaf, & season with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, & simmer very gently for 15 minutes (longer if using brown rice).
  3. Remove from heat & let stand 5 minutes (with lid on). Remove bay leaf.
  4. Stir in the nuts & garnish with parsley.

I served the salad & biryani together with a side of avocado. Both were excellent the next day as well.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lentil Salad & Lentil Soup

I worked all weekend, so Jim cooked up some good things again! He made a wonderful soup and a salad. Using recipes from yet another vegan cookbook from the library (this time The Complete Book of Vegan Cooking by Tony & Yvonne Bishop-Weston, courtesy of my co-worker, Connie), he made Lentil Soup with Lemon & Garlic and Puy Lentil & Spinach Salad with Toasted Cumin Seeds.

The soup:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks (he used celery hearts), chopped

1-2 carrots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 potato, peeled & chopped (he didn’t peel it, only chopped it

1 C red lentils, rinsed

4 C vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp ground cumin

cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce, to taste

ground black pepper, to taste

1. Heat oil in soup pot. Add onion & cook 5 minutes. Add celery, carrot, half the garlic, & the potato. Cook for a few minutes until it begins to soften.

2. Add lentils & stock & bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover & simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Add bay leaves, remaining garlic, lemon juice & cook for 10 more minutes, until lentils & vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaves.

4. Using a hand blender, blend as much of the soup as you want (we like chunks of potato & carrots so we don’t blend it all). Stir in cumin, cayenne/Tabasco, & pepper to taste.

The salad:

1 C lentils (he used precooked beluga lentils from Trader Joe's instead)

1 bay leaf

1 celery stick, chopped fine

fresh thyme sprig

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, chopped fine

2 tsp crushed cumin seeds (we didn't have so he used 1 tsp ground cumin instead)

baby spinach (we didn't have so he used arugula from the Farmers' Market)

2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, or to taste


5 tbsp olive oil (I doubt he used all of this, he most likely used 3 tbsp)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

3-5 tsp red wine vinegar

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp finely grated lemon rind (I would have probably just used some lemon juice)

1. If using puy lentils, rinse lentils & place in a large pan. Add water to cover. Add bay leaf, celery, & thyme, then bring to a boil. Reduce to steady boil & cook for 30-45 minutes. If using precooked lentils, proceed to step 3.

2. Drain lentils & vegetables (removing bay leaf) & place in a large bowl. Add some of the dressing to coat (but not drench).

3. In a saute pan, heat oil and cook onion over low heat about 4-5 minutes until it begins to soften. Add celery & cumin & cook for a few minutes more.

4. In a large bowl, stir spinach (or arugula) with lentils, & stir in dressing & chopped parsley. The recipe called for wilting the spinach but he uses it fresh here.

Jim also added about 1/2- 1 C cooked sweet brown rice to this. He went to Holiday Market & was wowed by their rice selections.

This salad would taste great in a wrap the next day.

He also roasted some beets from the Farmers' Market to enjoy the rest of the week. Today for lunch I made tofu sandwiches with some beets and the leftover lentil salad on the side. Oh, and a Clausen pickle on the side!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Israeli Couscous

Music: The Carpenters, Carpenters (remastered) **

The other night at the Inn Season, I enjoyed a side salad made with Israeli couscous, fresh parsley, peppers, & tomatoes. It was beautiful as well as delicious. Larger than regular couscous but smaller than pasta, it adds a pretty touch to salads or soups.

I'm attending a party tonight to celebrate with former co-workers I worked with at a library (almost ten years ago) where we all shared something unique in common: we all left within 1 1/2 years of each other because we were unhappy with the management. Now yet another manager has left so we decided it's time to celebrate once again.

We call ourselves Survivors of Baldwin (SOB for short). About once a year, we get together to catch up and congratulate ourselves on being in much better jobs! There are over 20 of us and they are a wonderful group of librarians.

So I decided to make this salad as my contribution to the potluck. From Vegan Express, this is Herb Garden Couscous and Black Bean Salad.

1 C couscous

1 15-16oz can organic black beans, rinsed & drained

1 large celery stalk, diced

1 medium red or orange bell pepper, diced

1 C grape tomatoes, chopped

1/4 C chopped green olives (I used Spanish)

1/2 C chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp chopped fresh dill (I used 1 tsp dried)

2 scallions (or 1/2 small onion), finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cook couscous according to package directions. Since I used Israeli couscous, it called for first lightly browning 1 1/3 C of the couscous in 1 tbsp of olive oil in a 2 quart saucepan on medium high for about 5 minutes. Then I added 1 3/4 C water slowly, brought it to a boil, then reduced to simmer, covered, for 12 minutes until all the water was absorbed. Let cool uncovered for about 5 minutes after fluffing with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. You could serve this over lettuce (such as Bibb, Butter, or Boston) or enjoy rolled up in a wrap! Yum!

**I heard "Rainy Days & Mondays" on AM580 the other morning & was instantly transported to a memory of being at Minnesota Fabrics (remember that?), in the 1970s in Allen Park, when I was a little girl, with my grandmother (whom I called Tata). She was selecting fabric to make a dress for me; every year she would make me a dress to start the first day of school. I could almost smell the fabrics, see myself walking behind her as she moved from one table to the next, asking me how I liked this or that, while this song played in the store. It's a wonderful memory! :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Raw Echinacea

Well, unfortunately, we had to clean up the garden last weekend, cutting down the remnants of tomato & cucumber plants, fallen perennials, and emptying pots. This always makes me sad because as everyone knows, I prefer the warm weather.

Jim harvested lots of echinacea roots so we can make our own “immuni-teas” this winter season. This is what it looks like raw after washing and cutting. He then froze it in small batches. Powerful stuff! Makes your mouth tingle. This is how we keep from getting sick.

For dinner last Saturday, Jim made brown rice spaghetti with his grandma's sauce (made from tomatoes he roasted in the summer and then froze for later use) and some Italian Tofurky soy sausages, some sauteed green beans from the garden (that he blanched then froze), and a side salad of arugula, red peppers, & onions. I wasn't sure I'd like the brown rice pasta but, as I've said, my taste buds have changed so now I really enjoyed it.

There has been lots of wonderful arugula at the Farmers’ Market lately and I’ve been eating it up. It’s now my current favorite green. I'm going to ask Jim to try growing some next year.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Jim made another delicious soup. This time it's a Roasted Vegetable Soup adapted from a Vegan Express recipe. Roasting the vegetables first gives the soup a wonderful flavor.

1/2 tbsp olive oil (for roasting vegetables), plus 2 tsp for soup pot

3 beets, scrubbed & diced

1 small onion, diced

1 portobello mushroom, diced

1 large carrot, chopped

1 large pepper (green or red), chopped

3 1/2 C water

2 vegetable bouillon cubes

1/8 tsp turmeric

1/8 tsp curry

freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms, beets, pepper, & carrot with 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Cook for 25 minutes.

In a large stock or soup pot, saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add water, bouillon, spices, & vegetables, bring to a boil, then simmer until vegetables are cooked through.

Separately, prepare any grain to add to the soup, such as rice, quinoa, tiny pasta, etc. Jim used soft wheat berries (which take almost an hour to cook but, if you’re home with a cold like he was, go for it!).

Add the cooked grain to the soup. Serve with a salad and bread or crackers or even a sandwich.