Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

Many times, a recipe turns into something else. This recipe, from Dreena Burton's Vive Le Vegan!, called Blueberry Bounty Buns, was supposed to be a cross between a muffin and a scone but the batter came out so wet, I decided to make muffins with it anyway. The result was delicious.

One of the many reasons I love Burton's books are because she doesn't use a lot of sweetener in her recipes and she's always using lots of good-for-you ingredients (oats, whole flours, nuts, etc.). Thus, these sweet muffins are not only delicious but they are full of whole food ingredients.

1 C + 1 tbsp ground oats (rolled oats ground in a coffee grinder or food processor)

1 C whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 C unrefined sugar (e.g., turbinado, cane sugar)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon OR nutmeg

1/4 tsp sea salt

3/4 C soymilk (or rice, oat, almond milk)

1 tbsp flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds)

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 C canola oil

1 C frozen or fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tin with paper liners (or lightly grease). In a large mixing bowl, combine ground oats and flour, baking powder & baking soda. Stir in remaining dry ingredients EXCEPT FLAXSEED MEAL. In another smaller bowl, combine "milk" and flaxseed meal and let sit for 1-2 minutes (this allows the mixture to thicken a little--this is your "egg" replacement). Add maple syrup, vanilla, and oil, and stir well to combine. Add the blueberries. Immediately add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and stir until just well combined. Spoon into muffin tins evenly and bake for 20-23 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on cooling racks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vegan Sampler VI

So you still think eating vegan can't be delicious?! No way! Seriously?!

Mom's Refried Beans: I finally learned this treasured recipe of my childhood; thanks, Mom!! Measure 2 C uncooked pinto beans into a colander or sieve, then rinse well and pick over for small stones. Place in a large soup pot and cover with enough water to measure about an inch or two more than the beans. Let soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain & rinse well and also rinse out the soup pot. Return beans to the pot, again cover with enough water for about 1-2 inches above the beans, and cook for about an hour or until beans begin to split and are tender. Turn off and remove from heat.

In a large nonstick fry or saute pan, pour 1 tsp light oil (canola, olive, etc.) and heat on medium/high heat. Place a whole pepper (banana, green, or Anaheim are all good) in the pan (it should sizzle) and cook until browned on most sides. Add the beans (NOT the water, so just scoop out the beans and tilt spoon to side to remove water--do not discard the water from the other pan as you remove the beans. You will need this water later) to the hot pan with the pepper. Let the beans cook a few minutes, beginning to mash them (I do this with about half the beans as I like some of them left whole) as you stir occasionally. When all the beans have been added and are warmed through, begin to add the water into the fry pan by the spoonful, giving it a chance to bubble and thicken between adding the water. If you run out of water and the beans look dry, add filtered water by the spoonful. Season to taste with sea salt. Beans should take on a nice, thick, creamy appearance. Serve with rice, in tacos, tortillas, alone, any way you like! Thanks, Mom!

Speedy Seitan Salad: saute chunks of seitan lightly in oil (canola, almond, or olive) until starting to brown. Let cool, then toss in a light dressing of sea salt, pepper, lemon juice, mustard, & agave nectar.

This recipe is very loosely based on Alicia Silverstone's recipe for Alicia's Magical Healing Soup from The Kind Diet. In a large soup pot, bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add chunks of carrot, large onion slices, chopped celery, and chopped broccoli rabe (aka baby broccoli). Add 1 cube of bouillon and any type of soy-like sauce to taste (shoyu, soy, tamari, Bragg's, e.g.). Add ginger to taste. Simmer until vegetables are tender and adjust seasonings. I served it over a scoop of leftover rice.

Short grain brown rice salad with peas, radishes, lemon juice, sea salt, pepper, and olive oil. Served with a hummus sandwich with freshly sliced radishes (the pic was taken before I put the other slice of bread and greens on!).

Pizza made using the same dough recipe for our homemade bread; topped with slices of sweet onion, garlic, and tomato sauce. Baked at 500 degrees for 15 minutes.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Music: The Byrds, Younger Than Yesterday

I don't make desserts much anymore since it's just the two of us. Instead, for a little sweet something I'll make a batch of scones or muffins and freeze most of them to enjoy later. Since our taste buds have changed so much since going vegan, the recipes I make use very little sweetener. Instead, I really enjoy the taste of the different types of flours I now use (barley, rye, oat, etc.).

For certain occasions, however, I still like to make something special. We enjoyed dinner recently at some new friends' beautiful house and I made these decadent brownies. I made this recipe because I've made it successfully before but I plan to try another, more healthy (read: less sugar) recipe in future (I just have to test it out first!). The amount of sugar in this particular recipe makes me cringe and yet, it's still better for you because there are no eggs or dairy. So here it is in all its fudgy goodness.

Brownies and Cookes Espresso Brownies (from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer)

1 1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour (you could also just use unbleached flour)
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 C (gasp!) unrefined sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 C nondairy milk (soy, almond, rice, etc.)
1 shot espresso, cooled
1/3 C canola oil
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1/4 C vegan chocolate chips (Trader Joe's sells some)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or dish and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, & salt. Add the "milk," espresso, oil, walnuts, and chocolate chips, stirring until just mixed. Pour into baking pan and bake 55-60 minutes until center is set & an inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean. Let cool. Frost or enjoy as is.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What IS Tofu?

Music: Death Cab for Cutie, Something About Airplanes

I have a very good friend who accepts my being vegan (just as I accept his eating meat) even though he doesn't quite understand it. By not understanding I don't mean he doesn't understand why I choose to eat this way but, rather, he is curious and intrigued at my lifestyle choice and what I do eat; perhaps even a little bewildered at times. He doesn't cook at all so that's part of it, but he also doesn't know a lot about what it means to eat vegan. But he's my friend and I'm always happy to explain things to him.

For example, he likes tofu when he eats it, but he doesn't know exactly what tofu is. He made me laugh when he wondered why it comes shaped in blocks "like a deck of cards." So I did a little research but I did not find an answer. My own guess would be that it's the easiest shape to form it into to sell as far as weight and volume are concerned. Also, you can cut it easily into nice slices, cubes, or strips depending on your recipe.

Tofu is made from soybeans (which, when cooked, look sort of like lima beans) which have been coagulated with water to form a solid. And, like meat, it takes on the flavors of whatever spices, herbs, or sauces you use to prepare it. If you ate beef or chicken or pork with absolutely no flavoring, it would taste like nothing--just like tofu.

There are mainly two different types of tofu depending on how you want to prepare it: Chinese-style (which can be found in extra-firm, firm, medium, and soft varieties in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores) and Japanese-style, also sometimes called silken (and which also comes in firm to soft textures), which can be found in aseptic packages on the shelf which you refrigerate after opening. I use the Chinese-style extra-firm and firm most often because they are easy to prepare for sandwiches and other dishes and they hold together well. But I also use silken tofu when I make salad dressings, sauces, or desserts for its super-smooth texture. I'm looking forward to preparing it hiyayakko style this summer, which looks quite gourmet and elegant, not to mention refreshing on a very hot day!

Tofu is quick to prepare and does not have the "ick" factor of meat preparation (blood and bones, for example), where there seem to be a million "rules" on how to prepare it properly so you don't die or suffer food poisoning. So the next time you want meat, try tofu instead. It's got protein, fiber, no cholesterol, and is low in fat. And remember, meat is none of these things!

Check out this site here for more information as well as cooking and preparation tips.