Saturday, December 31, 2005

Maruthi

I can't believe we haven't written abou this place yet since it's the only all vegetarian restaurant in Charlottesville. It opened about 3 months ago and it's South Indian (which we have written about). They started out with a limited menu, but they've now expanded and have quite an extensive menu, much of which appears to be vegan. We need to branch out and try more of the options, but we had the usual tonight which was a masala dosa. We also had onion bahjis which were quite good, though not quite like the ones I made a couple weeks ago (these were deep fried with lots of batter - not the best thing for you I suppose, but very yummy).

If you're reading this in C-ville, regardless of whether or not you're vegan, you have to check this place out (Preston Plaza, next to Integral Yoga).

Friday, December 30, 2005

Spinach Salad

We had a bunch of fresh spinach we needed to use, so I thought a big salad would be good. I made a very slightly tweaked version of the tempeh bacon (added a little maple syrup to the marinade) from Vegan with a Vengeance and put that together with the spinach and some shredded carrot. For the dressing I combined 1/2 tsp. dried mustard, 1/4 tsp. salt, a little fresh ground pepper, 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely minced, 1/4 c. olive oil, 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, and 1 Tbs. orange champagne vinegar. You could whisk this all together in a bowl, or do what I did and put it in a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake it like crazy.

The salad was pretty filling, but we also made some lentil soup kind of like the basic recipe we already posted.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Pasta with Broccoli

Another case of "what's in the fridge that we need to use?" We had some broccoli that had been in there a while, plus a little leftover tempeh sausage and pizza sauce from last night. I sauteed the broccoli in a healthy amount of olive oil with salt & pepper, then added some garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and the tempeh sausage. Meanwhile I cooked about half a package of pasta, then added that to the broccoli, etc. along with some of the sauce. We had the pasta with a couple slices of pizza leftover from last night. And we had blueberry-apple cobbler for dessert since we still had some of that left from Christmas dinner.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pizza

I'm not much of a pizza maker, but I try anyway. Tonight I made the Potato and Tempeh Sausage Pizza from Vegan with a Vengeance. I made the sauce and tempeh sausage (recipe here) a couple of nights ago when we had a quick dinner of leftovers. The other toppings were garlic, thinly sliced potatoes and fennel. On the first pizza I put the sausage on top which was probably a mistake because it went flying everywhere when I shook the peel to make sure the crust was loose. I made quite a mess in general, but the pizza was good.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Waffles

We got ourselves a waffle maker for Christmas and the last 2 mornings we've started trying out the waffle recipes in Vegan with a Vengeance. We made the pumpkin waffles yesterday and the oatmeal-banana waffles today. Both were outstanding. A note on the pumpkin waffles: we halved the recipe and that was plenty for the two of us. And if you're not sure about your measurement conversions, half of 1/3 cup is 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons. (If you want to do the math, there are 16 tablespoons in a cup and 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon.)

Anyway, we had a late breakfast this morning and stuffed ourselves with waffles, and we just got back from a late lunch at Ming Dynasty (which we've already written about), where we also stuffed ourselves. So there won't be a dinner post since dinner will probably be something small - maybe just leftovers from last night.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Dinner

- Fried Tofu and Gravy (recipe below)
- Brussels Sprouts (thanks to Vegan Lunch Box)
- Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root with Roasted Garlic (similar to what we posted here but with the addition of celery root)
- Tangerine-glazed Beets (from Vegan with a Vengeance, but we used tangerines instead of oranges since we just got a nice shipment of tangerines from my parents in Florida)

Dessert was an apple and blueberry cobbler that was loosely based on the cobbler recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. We served the cobbler with Wild Berry Supreme Tofutti - harder to find but definitely my favorite flavor outside of chocolate.

The fried tofu & gravy recipe is something I clipped out of the newspaper many years ago and we still make it from time to time. The credit in the tattered clipping says it's adapted from Heart of the Home by Ann Jackson.

For the fried tofu:
1 block tofu (1 lb.), sliced into 8 pieces
1 Tbs. sesame seeds
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. tamari
1/3 c. nutritional yeast

For the gravy:
2 Tbs. vegan margarine
1/4 c. flour
leftover nutritional yeast from fried tofu
1-3/4 c. plain soy milk
1 Tbs. tamari
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium heat in a cast iron (or other) skillet and add sesame seeds. Dredge each slice of tofu in nutritional yeast and add to skillet. Drizzle tamari over top. Fry on both sides until brown. Remove tofu from pan and leave pan as is to start the gravy.

Add margarine and let it melt. Whisk in flour and nutritional yeast and let it brown a little. Whisk in soy milk and continue whisking vigorously to make sure you get rid of any lumps. Continue stirring until thickened, then add tamari and salt & pepper.

Puff Pastry Roulade with Mushroom Filling

I'm not sure if that's the best way to describe this concoction that we brought to a Christmas Eve gathering with Darlene's family, but it's the best I could come up with. It was sort of an experiment, but it came out tasting very good. The photo isn't so great, but we've already had that discussion ;-)

In our Thanksgiving post, I mentioned the puff pastry dough we made and the fact that we froze half of it. Well, we thawed the frozen puff pastry in the fridge a day or so in advance, then rolled it out into a large rectangle (around 9"x15") on a lightly floured counter. We spread a mushroom filling on it (recipe follows), and topped that with some fresh spinach leaves, leaving a little space along the borders. Then we rolled it up starting from a long side; having a piece of parchment underneath it can help with this process. We brushed the last edge with a little Silk creamer to help it seal, then brushed the whole roll with a little more creamer, then cut a few very small slits in the top and baked it at 350 for about 45 minutes; you want it to be nice and golden brown on top. Once it cooled a little, I cut it into roughly 1" pieces to serve.

Here's what we did for the filling:

1 large shallot, cut into small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. fresh thyme
4 oz. Tofutti cream cheese
1 large roasted red pepper
salt & pepper to taste

Saute shallot & mushrooms in some olive oil for several minutes until mushrooms are getting soft. Add garlic and thyme and cook a little more. You want to make sure that all the liquid that's released from the mushrooms is cooked off. Allow this mixture to cool a little, then add to a food processor along with cream cheese and salt & pepper. Process until well combined, then add red pepper and pulse a few times just until red pepper is coarsley chopped.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Great gift idea

I can't claim credit for this idea - this was a nice gift I received from a co-worker: a vegan oatmeal cookie mix. All the dry ingredients were in the jar, and we just added a few more ingredients according to the included recipe and voila, great vegan cookies.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Chickpea Broccoli Casserole

Here's yet another one from Vegan with a Vengeance. A yummy casserole made with mashed chickpeas and broccoli and baked. We served it with garlic bread. While the casserole was baking, I also roasted some garlic and spread a little of the roasted garlic along with some vegan margarine on a baguette. After I pulled the casserole out, I turned off the oven and put the bread in there to toast for about 5 minutes.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Gnocchi Asian Style

This was sort of an experiment and is definitely not traditional; just something quick with the few things that were left in our fridge tonight. It came out pretty good though. I wrote about another gnocchi dish a couple of weeks ago and for this one the method is essentially the same. So excuse me while I cut and paste from the previous post and make a few edits.

In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, saute about 1/4 c. onion, diced, 1 carrot, peeled and diced, about 2 c. chopped green cabbage, and 1 c. chopped seitan in 2 Tbs. peanut oil. Cook until seitan is starting to get brown, then add 1 clove minced garlic, and a little finely minced ginger. Cook for a few seconds more, then add 1 package gnocchi and mix well. Then add 1/3 c. vegetable stock and 2 Tbs. of soy sauce. Mix well, scraping the bottom of the pan, then cover, reduce heat and cook for a few minutes more until the gnocchi are done. Mix in about 1 Tbs. sesame oil at the end.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Sandwiches and Roasted Butternut Squash

Another pretty quick meal tonight. We made a slightly tweaked version of the chickpea salad from Vegan with a Vengeance that I wrote about here, and we had that on some ciabatta rolls. We also had a small butternut squash that had been sitting on our counter for a while, so I peeled and seeded that, cut it into roughly 1" chunks, mixed it with some olive oil and salt & pepper and roasted it in a small baking dish at 400° for about 25 minutes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Chips & Dips

Tonight we had an avocado that was getting very ripe so I made it into guacamole, cooked some black beans and served with soy sour cream and salsa and chips. For the black beans, I sauteed a little onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes, then added a can of black beans (drained), about 2-3 Tbs. veg. stock (you could use water), and 1 tsp. chili powder, 1/2 tsp. cumin and a little salt. I mixed everything together and partially mashed the beans with the back of a spoon.

You can buy soy sour cream (I think Tofutti is the best), but it's also easy to make it yourself. This is a recipe (with quantities roughly halved) from Peter Berley's great book, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen: in a food processor, blend until very smooth half of a 12 oz. package silken tofu, 3 Tbs. olive oil, 2 Tbs. lemon juice, 3/4 tsp. cider vinegar, and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Recipes for guacamole abound, but I don't think you need to get too fancy. Basic guac can just be avacado, lime juice and salt. You can add onion, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, chiles, etc. but I usually like to keep it simple and highlight the flavor of the avocado. Tonight's recipe was just 1 ripe avocado (a ripe avocado is a little soft to the touch and almost black) mashed with about 1 Tbs. finely minced red onion, 1 Tbs. lime juice and 1/4 tsp. salt. If tomatoes are in season, I might add a little chopped tomato, but that's usually it. And whatever you do, don't buy those packaged mixes for guacamole you see in the store. Too many ingredients you've never heard of.

Candy Cane Cookies


Here is a recipe I came up with for peppermint candy cane cookies. They are easy to make and great for the holidays.

Candy Cane Cookies

6 candy canes
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup soy milk
2 tsp flax powder
1/2 cup vegan magarine (Good Earth Buttery Sticks)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (Good Earth Shortening Sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp peppermint extract

Turn on oven to 350 F. Crush the candy canes in a plastic bag using a hammer until they are in small pieces. Add candy cane pieces, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large mixing bowl. Cream butter, shortening and sugar in a food processor. Mix together flax powder, soy milk, vanilla extract and peppermint extract in a small bowl. Add to butter and sugar and mix well in the food processor. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. You will have stiff dough. Scoop cookies onto a cookie sheet using either a small cookie scoop or two teaspoons. Flatten cookies slightly with the bottom of a glass. Sprinkle with a little turbinado sugar and bake for 20 minutes. Enjoy.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Potato Soup

Not much time to post tonight, but dinner was Darlene's potato soup with some slices of whole wheat baguette and spring rolls from last night. A quick idea about the soup - saute celery & carrots in olive oil, add garlic, mix in a little flour, then add diced potatoes, a veg. boullion cube, water, a little miso, dried parsley (or fresh if you've got it) and salt & pepper. Cook until potatoes are tender then add a little vinegar at the end.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Spring Rolls and Pad Thai

These spring rolls are something Darlene came up with many years ago when we lived in North Carolina. I went out for a ride one day after work and when I came home there were fresh spring rolls for dinner. We make them a little different every time but the main ingredient is most often either green cabbage or napa cabbage. Spring roll wrappers can be hard to find (as opposed to egg roll wrappers which definitely aren't vegan), but we usually find them in Asian markets. We don't have a deep fryer and though you could deep fry them in a large amount of oil in a deep pan, we usually just roll them a little flat and fry them in a saute pan in canola oil for a few minutes on each side. Here's the recipe we used tonight:

1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 small yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
small handful snow peas, cut into small pieces
1/2 of an 8 oz. box of seitan, cut into small pieces
1/2 head green cabbage, sliced thin
1 tsp. finely minced ginger

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry the carrot, onion, snow peas, and seitan over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add the cabbage and continue cooking until cabbage is very wilted. Add ginger and cook another minute or so. Allow to cool a little, then start assembling the spring rolls. Keep wrappers under a damp towel and pull out one at a time. Place the wrapper diagonally in front of you, brush the edges liberally with water, spoon about 3-4 Tbs. filling in the center, then fold the top corner down over the filling, fold both sides in, and fold the bottom up and over. We usually double wrap ours so they'll hold together better, so now you can take the single wrapped roll you just did and wrap it again in a similar fashion. Store the finished rolls under another damp towel. When you're done wrapping them all, fry them a few at a time in a healthy amount of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown on each side. When you take them out of the skillet, put them on a paper towel lined plate and sprinke immediately with a little salt or seasoning mix. We usually serve them with a dipping sauce that goes something like this (amounts are approximate):

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/3 c. apricot jam, 2 Tbs. soy sauce, 1 Tbs. rice vinegar, and 1 tsp. sesame oil.

So now I'm getting a little tired of typing and there are many recipes out there for Pad Thai, but I'll give you the basics on what we made tonight. The sauce was the juice of 1 lime, 1 Tbs. tamarind concentrate, 3 Tbs. soy sauce, 2 Tbs. brown sugar, and Asian chile sauce to taste. The veggies were 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks, a handful of snow peas, a little sliced onion, scallions (sliced in half lengthwise and cut into 2" pieces), 2 c. mung bean sprouts, and garlic & ginger. All this with a 12 oz. package of rice noodles.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Flat

Not long ago, we read in one of our local weeklies that a crepe stand was supposed to open downtown. We thought that was cool, but didn't think much more about it since crepes generally aren't vegan. Well a few days ago I heard on the radio not only that the crepe stand had just opened, but that they offered a vegan crepe option. So this afternoon we walked downtown to check it out.

It's called The Flat, and it's a little take-out window on Water Street offering crepes with sweet or savory fillings. And they did indeed have a vegan option. We each got a huge vegan crepe filled with mushrooms, fresh spinach and soy cheese (not sure if the soy cheese was totally vegan but we let that slide since we were so excited that the crepe itself was vegan). Anyway, it was quite yummy and if you're in Charlottesville, regardless of whether or not you're vegan, you have to check this place out.

We probably won't post anything about our dinner tonight since we've got various leftovers from the last several days in the fridge. I think dinner will be a salad and a clean-out-the-fridge sort of affair.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Onion Bahji and Sambhar with Idli

I wrote about South Indian food, and dosas in particular, in a previous post. Another mainstay of South Indian cooking is Sambhar, a spicy soup. It's often served with Idli which are sort of rice & lentil dumplings. Though I've made both of these from scratch, it's a little involved and you can get packaged mixes that are quite good at Indian markets. If you don't have an Indian market near you, you can also order these mixes on-line (sambhar mix, idli mix). The sambhar packaged mix is super easy to make, but to make idlis requires a special gadget. Typically, idlis are steamed in a special contraption, but you can also get a container (like this one) that will allow you to make idlis in a microwave. A friend of ours brought back one of these microwave idli makers from India for us several years ago and we break it out on occasion.

We also made onion bahjis from a recipe I wrote down while watching Jamie Oliver on the Food Network quite a while ago. I don't know how authentic this is, but here goes:

Peel a large red onion, cut in half and then into fairly thin slices. Mix in a large bowl with 2 grated carrots, 3-4 chopped scallions (white and some green parts), and about 1/2 a bunch cilantro, coarsley chopped. In another bowl, make a batter from 1 c. all-purpose flour, 1 c. chickpea flour, 2 tsp. black mustard seeds, 2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. turmeric, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 1/3 c. water. Add batter to onion mixture and mix well (it's messy, but best to use your hands for this). Heat a little oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Pick up a small handful of the mixture and add to the pan, pressing down a little to flatten it some. Repeat until you've filled up your pan (I fit 3 large ones in a 12" skillet). Fry until golden brown on one side, then flip over and repeat for the other side. We served ours with prepared mango chutney.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lentil Soup and Mushroom Fritatta

We were planning on trying the fritatta recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, but today was another good soup day so we also made lentil soup. Like a lot of the rest of the Mid-Atlantic, we got every kind of precipitation in the book today. It started this morning with about 2" of snow, then changed to sleet for a while, then changed to freezing rain, and now it's just plain rain. The temperature is just barely above freezing though so there's still a lot of ice on the trees and we hear limbs come crashing down outside every so often. But back to dinner. The soup was nothing fancy; it started with cooking onions, carrots and celery in olive oil, then adding 1/4 c. white wine and cooking a little more, then 1 c. lentils, about 5 c. water, 1 veg. boullion cube, some fresh thyme and salt & pepper. We also had some roasted garlic left over from a few nights ago so I added that along with about half of a 1 oz. package of dried porcini mushrooms that I broke up into little pieces. I simmered all that until the lentils were tender then added a diced yukon gold potato and cooked a little more until that was tender.

I also made the mushroom fritatta with mushroom sauce from Vegan with a Vengeance. The fritatta is basically mashed tofu, seasoned and mixed with sauteed onions, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and black olives then pressed into a pan and baked. It didn't hold together that well since I used a larger pan than what was called for in the recipe and it was a little thin, but it still tasted good. And the mushroom sauce was out of this world. If you have the book I highly recommend that you try it. And if you don't have the book, what're you waiting for?!


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mac and "Cheese" with Seitan and Collards

Tonight we had the mac and "cheese" again that we wrote about a couple weeks ago. We also had a little homemade seitan left from before Thanksgiving (that had been frozen in some of its cooking liquid and thawed in the fridge a few days ago) so I chopped that up and fried it in a little olive oil. To round it out we had collards.

Now every good vegan knows that collards are way good for you (lots of calcium and all that) but I'm sometimes at a loss as to what to do with them. Not too long ago we found a recipe in a back issue of Vegetarian Times from several years ago that looked pretty good and I've cooked collards this way a few times since then and they come out really good. Here's my slightly tweaked version of the recipe:

In a medium-sized pot, add 1 c. water, about 1/4 c. diced onion, 1 bay leaf, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 Tbs. veg. worcestershire sauce (I used Annie's brand), 1 Tbs. soy sauce, and 1 tsp. maple syrup. Bring that mixture to a boil. Meanwhile, remove thick stems from 1 bunch of collards and chop into fairly small pieces (I had about 3-4 cups chopped). Once the liquid boils for a couple of minutes, add collards, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Then remove from heat, remove bay leaf, stir in 1 Tbs. olive oil and add salt & pepper to taste.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Fast Food

But not from one of the corporate behemoths. On my way home from work I had an errand to do downtown and while I was there I picked up some great veggie dumplings from a place called Tea Time Desires. There's another dumpling/noodle shop (called Marco & Luca) practically right next door to this one and everyone raves about their dumplings, but they only offer pork filled ones. When we discovered Tea Time Desires had opened and offered veggie dumplings we were quite happy. Anyway, for 5 bucks we got 2 orders of these dumplings and then we just had a big salad with buttercrunch lettuce, carrots, chickpeas, a few cashews, and a dressing of sesame oil, rice vinegar and Bragg's Liquid Aminos.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Veggie Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

A pretty quick dinner tonight - and a quick post too. We had a big sweet potato that had been sitting there a while, so I made fries from that like this recipe (except I peeled it). The veggie burgers I just pulled out of the freezer and fried in a skillet with a little oil and we had them on these nice ciabatta rolls we picked up at the store yesterday. The burgers were Dr. Praeger's brand California style that we find at Trader Joe's. They're a little soft but quite tasty and have big chunks of veggies in them.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Stir Fry with Snow Peas and Cashews

Dinner tonight was a fairly simple stir fry with onions, carrots, snow peas, cabbage, cashews and a little garlic and ginger. I made a sauce from 1/4 c. apple cider, 3 Tbs. soy sauce, 1 Tbs. rice vinegar and 1 Tbs. corn starch. We served it over soba noodles which is a thin Japanese buckwheat noodle.

Banana Bread

This morning we had 2 bananas left that were starting to turn a little brown. When that happens I often make banana bread. When I was in college and travelling to bike races almost every weekend, sometimes we'd pass through my friend Robb's hometown on our way to a race and his mom would meet us just off the interstate somewhere and give us banana bread to take with us. It usually didn't last very long. One time she also gave us her recipe. I've since modified the recipe to make it vegan, but it still doesn't last very long whenever I make it.

2 ripe bananas
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. Ener-G egg replacer (available at most natural food stores or on-line)
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

Mash bananas in a large bowl then add oil, sugar, soy milk and vanilla and mix well. Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, egg replacer and salt and gently mix until well combined (it will be a fairly stiff batter). Fold in nuts if using then spread into a greased 4” x 8” loaf pan and bake at 350º for 55-60 minutes.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Jerk Seitan with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli

Here's another one from Vegan with a Vengeance. So far this book has not disappointed us once. The jerk seitan we made tonight is very similar to this recipe for jerk tofu, but with seitan instead of tofu. (If you're not sure what seitan is, try looking it up on Wikipedia.) We had the seitan with garlic mashed potatoes which I made by peeling, quartering and boiling 4 yukon gold potatoes, then mashing them with about 1/2 a head of roasted garlic, a little margarine, about 1/4 cup of Silk creamer, and salt & pepper. We rounded out the meal with steamed broccoli.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Artichoke Dip

This is a recipe I came up with that's based on a very non-vegan artichoke dip I saw somewhere. All my non-vegan friends absolutely love it. I made this tonight and we ate so much of it that the rest of our dinner was just a small salad and the rest of the stew left over from a couple night ago.

1 can artichoke hearts (14oz), drained and rinsed
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup Vegenaise
1/4 cup Tofutti non-cream cheese
2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Combine garlic, lemon juice, vegenaise, non-cream cheese and pinch of salt in food processor and process until smooth. Add artichoke hearts and pulse a few more times. Pour mixture into a small casserole dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbly.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Baked Penne

Darlene made a great pasta dish tonight which we had with a simple salad of mesclun and baby spinach with carrots and toasted pine nuts with a vinagarette.

Tofu mix:
1 pound extra firm tofu, drained
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/3 c. olive oil
2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
3 veggie sausage patties, fried in a little oil and crumbled
2 tsp. capers
handful of green olives, chopped

Crumble tofu into a bowl, then add remaining ingredients except capers and olives and mix well. Then fold in capers and olives.

Meanwhile cook a pound of penne in plenty of water until not quite al dente. Spread a little olive oil in a large shallow baking dish then add a few tablespoons marinara (we used an organic marinara from a jar; if you have time and inclination, you can make your own). Add 1/3 of the pasta to the baking dish, top with 1/3 of the tofu mixture then 1/3 of the marinara. Continue layering like this with the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle a little olive oil on top and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"Beefless" Stew

Darlene made a stew tonight similar to the one in the Cooking with PETA book. This is a good book for any vegan to have in their collection and this is probably the recipe from the book we make most often. Without taking the time to post the whole recipe, it's basically a stew with TVP chunks, onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, & peas with a tomato and veg. broth base and seasoned with bay leaves, veg. worcestershire sauce and salt & pepper. Only Darlene likes to make it with a can of coconut milk instead of a can of tomatoes. Yummy either way. We served it tonight with quinoa.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Gnocchi with Broccoli and Seitan


When we were in Northern Virginia this weekend, we stopped at Trader Joe's and stocked up (which we usually do whenever we're in that neck o' the woods since we don't have a Trader Joe's here). We mainly do this because they're much less expensive than any of the natural food stores we have here. Anyway, we usually get a few packages of potato gnocchi there which makes for a fairly quick one-pot meal. I do this a little differently every time I make it, but here's what I did tonight; amounts are approximate.

In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, saute 1/2 of a medium onion, diced, 2 c. chopped broccoli, and 1 c. chopped seitan in 2 Tbs. olive oil. Cook until seitan is starting to get brown, then add 2 cloves minced garlic, a few coarsley chopped kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes, and 1 Tbs. capers. Cook for a few seconds more, then add gnocchi and mix well. Then add 1/3 c. red wine and a few Tbs. of tomato sauce. Mix well, scraping the bottom of the pan, then cover, reduce heat and cook for a few minutes more until the gnocchi are done. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Adding some liquid to the pan then covering it for a few minutes allows the gnocchi to cook without having to boil them. And when you don't own a dishwasher every dish you can avoid mucking up helps.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Here's another idea from Vegan with a Vengeance. We really didn't create this blog just to plug this book, but it's our newest and most favorite cookbook at the moment (and may remain so for a good long while).

We don't have much in the way of fresh veggies in our fridge at the moment and we were hungry and wanted something quick so we made something like the Hijiki-Chickpea Salad from the book. I looked for hijiki the last time I made this recipe and couldn't find it, but I did find arame which is another sea vegetable. You can tweak the proportions to your liking, but basically I reconstituted a few tablespoons of the arame in hot water and while that was soaking, I drained and rinsed a can of chick peas then smashed them in a bowl with some vegenaise, whole grain mustard, and apple cider vinegar, then mixed in some shredded carrot, finely diced onion, diced celery, diced sweet pickle and salt & pepper. Then I drained and chopped the sea vegetable, mixed that in and made sandwiches with it on some whole grain toast.

A Quick Hot Breakfast

Here's something slightly different than my typical cereal and soymilk breakfast. You can play around with the proportions, but here's roughly what I use: Heat 3/4 c. apple juice, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 2 Tbs. raisins in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and add 1 c. grape nuts (or similar generic brand) cereal. To add some omega 3s you can stir in up to 1 Tbs. flax oil. That's it!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Our favorite restaurant

Dinner tonight was at our favorite restaurant in the DC area (and one of our favorites anywhere), Sunflower, in Vienna, Virginia. It's entirely vegetarian and almost entirely vegan and has a mostly Asian-inspired menu. If you're ever in this area, be sure to check it out. It's not good vegetarian food, it's just plain good food. We always get the fried "chicken" appetizer which is really yummy fried soy chunks and mushrooms served with a simple spicy sauce. For dinner I had Sunflower's Satisfaction which is a dish with crispy fried soy chunks with snow peas, bok choy and other veggies in a spicy orange sauce. Darlene had a wonderful veggie lo mein.

And now we're thoroughly stuffed...

Eating out in Northern Virginia

We're up in Northern Virginia this weekend, and thanks to VegDC.com we found a couple of good places to eat yesterday. Lunch was at a nice little cafe in Falls Church called Kasha's Kitchen (inside Kennedy's Natural Foods). We had some very tasty veggie sandwiches (mine with tofu) and some lentil soup. I was a bit disappointed though because the web site said they had a vegan "chicken" salad sandwhich, but in fact it wasn't vegan. Why they use soy mock chicken and then mix it with regular mayo is beyond me.

For dinner we went to Woodlands in Fairfax which is an entirely vegetarian Indian restaurant with an extensive South Indian menu. If you've never had South Indian food before you should definitely seek it out the next time you're in a bigger city. A mainstay of South Indian cooking is the dosa which is sort of a savory crepe from a batter made from ground and fermented rice and lentils. If you're interested in knowing more, I just found a good blog entry all about dosas. We had a masala dosa which is filled with a potato and onion curry, and also an uthapam, which is a thicker pancake sort of creation made from a similar batter to the dosa and topped with veggies.

One of the more challenging things about eating a vegan diet is travelling and eating out, but there are so many good resources on-line today that if you poke around on the web before you go you can usually find something, especially in bigger cities (VegGuide.org is a good place to start).

Another tip we use when travelling (especially for finding breakfast) is to seek out bagel shops. Bagels are usually vegan and you can also usually get them with peanut butter. If you go to Google maps and use the find businesses link you can type in "bagels" and the town you're interested in and up will come a map with a bunch of bagel shops located.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dinner from a box

We drove to the Washington DC area tonight where Darlene has a craft show this weekend. We were in a bit of a hurry to leave and we didn't have much in the fridge so we pulled a box of couscous out of the pantry, cooked it in the microwave and added some toasted pine nuts and that was dinner. I think it was Near East brand and whenever we find these boxes on sale we stock up because it makes a good quick meal or snack. We try to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients as much as we can, but sometimes we do resort to just opening a box.

The great thing about coming to the DC area is the abundance of veg-friendly restaurants. Earlier today I was checking out VegDC.com trying to decide where to eat while we're here. I'll let you know what we find.

No food, just technical details

So I'm still playing around with the settings and generally learning how Blogger works and I just figured out how to open the comments to anyone so now you don't have to be a Blogger member to comment. Now I suppose I'm inviting comment spam (especially bad for a vegan) but there's a way around that so we'll see how it goes.

I also figured out what the link was for the RSS feed which was not obvious to me just viewing the web site. If you want to add the site to your RSS reader, here's the link: http://eatair.blogspot.com/atom.xml

On another note, we'll be travelling this weekend and we'll have access to a computer, but we may not post every day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Quinoa Risotto with Butternut Squash

First, I need to give credit where credit is due because this is a recipe I make fairly regularly and it's almost straight from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley. I really like this book and though it's not totally vegan it does have a lot of vegan recipes. Now hopefully the copyright police won't come after me...

The keys to risotto are 1) get the right kind of rice (arborio), 2) have your water or stock simmering on another burner and add it a little at a time, and 3) constant stirring. Keep all this in mind and your risotto will be fine. Here's how I made mine:

4 c. water or veg. broth (or make a broth from the squash and leek trimmings)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium leek (white part only), halved and thinly sliced
2 c. butternut squash cut in 1/2 in. dice (a smallish ~1 lb. squash should do)
1/2 c. arborio rice
1/3 c. quinoa
2 Tbs. white wine
1 tsp. dried ground sage (or use fresh if you've got it)
salt & pepper to taste

- Bring the water or broth to a boil in a saucepan then reduce heat and keep at a simmer.
- In a larger saucepan, saute the leek in 1 Tbs. olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper over medium heat for about 2 min. Add the squash and cook for another minute or two. Add the rice and quinoa and stir until they're well coated with the oil, then add the sage and wine and cook until dry.
- Now ladle in the water or broth, 1/2 c. at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the liquid in this fashion until the grains are creamy and tender. For me that's about 22 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and season with salt & pepper to taste. I garnished mine with chives and toasted pine nuts. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Last of the leftovers

One good thing about spending so much time cooking on Thanksgiving for just the two of us is that we haven't had to cook much since then. Well, we like to cook, but sometimes a break is good too. Tonight we finally finished off the vegetable pie and the rest of the stuffing and with that had a simple salad with romaine lettuce, carrots, slivered almonds and olive oil & red wine vinegar. Back to cooking again tomorrow night.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mac and "cheese"

When you spend all your time in the kitchen making cupcakes instead of making dinner, here's a quick and easy recipe so you can have something other than just cupcakes for dinner. This is a variation on a recipe I make quite often from Very Vegetarian by Jannequin Bennett and Carl Lewis.

Add 1/2 c. flour and 1/4 c. nutritional yeast to a saucepan. Whisk in 2 c. water then add 1 veg. boullion cube. Turn on medium heat and cook until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Add 1 Tbs. miso, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. paprika, and 1 tsp. salt. Mix well and simmer for about 5 min. Add 2 Tbs. vegan margarine and 1 tsp. mustard of your choice. Meanwhile, cook a pound of your favorite pasta. Before draining the pasta, add 1 c. of the pasta water to the sauce. Then put 1/2 c. frozen peas in your colander and drain the pasta over the peas. Mix pasta & peas with the sauce in a large bowl and enjoy! If you want to add some protien, fry up some seitan or TVP chunks and add to the pasta.

Cupcakes fit for a (vegan) king

Who says you can't be vegan and have yummy cake (or cupcakes)? Have you ever wanted to surprise your vegan sweetie with a lucious treat but couldn't find the perfect recipe for a chocolate lover? Well search no more. I made a variation of the Fauxstess Cupcakes from Vegan with a Vengeance. I followed the same recipe but used a little different assembly method. Since I didn't have a pastry bag, I just cut the cupcakes in half and used a small cookie scoop to plop the filling in the middle. Then I dipped the top of the cupcakes in the chocolate ganache. As you can see I got chocolate everywhere but no one is complaining. Chris had his dessert first and ate 2 of these before dinner. He said they're much better than the plastic wrapped option.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Scrambled Tofu and Home Fries

This is a great recipe for scrambled tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance/The Post Punk Kitchen. We didn't have any mushrooms on hand so I left those out, but it came out great without them. We had some fingerling potatoes that we didn't use for Thanksgiving so I cut those into small pieces and fried them with salt & pepper, and some fresh rosemary and thyme. Served it with toast from last week's fresh bread I still have in the freezer. (When I make bread, after a day or 2 I slice what's left and freeze it. It's good toasted straight from the freezer. I use a straw to suck as much air as possible from the freezer bag and that helps cut down on freezer burn.)

I had a nice picture of this creation, but I just accidentally deleted it from the camera before I downloaded it. D'oh!!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Vegan Thanksgiving Feast

Our tradition on Thanksgiving is to spend all day cooking and to eschew turkey (and all those serving them). We'll share our feast with friends or family, but we make it a point on this day at least to avoid any place where turkey is being served. Our meal is usually rather traditional but instead of a dead bird in the center of our table we have a vegetable pie of some sort. Here is this year's menu:
  • Vegetable Pie with homemade puff pastry, filled with sweet potatoes, seitan, mushrooms and spinach
  • Roasted root vegetables
  • Stuffing
  • Steamed green beans
  • Mushroom-walnut gravy
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
This year we went all out and did everything completely from scratch, from the homemade puff pastry to the stuffing from the fresh bread I baked earlier this week. I won't go into great detail on all the recipes, but I'll at least give you the basics (and maybe some details). Starting with...

Vegetable Pie

This is our version of various similar recipes we've seen in Vegetarian Times through the years. In the past we've done something like this with store-bought puff pastry (which is usually not entirely vegan), but this year we found this recipe one night while watching Emeril. It's time consuming, but most of that time is spent letting it rest in the fridge. It helps to have some pastry skills (which Darlene has) when doing this, but if you're pretty comfortable cooking and baking you can probably do it. We just substituted vegan margarine for the butter and it came out great - much better than the store-bought stuff.

For the crust, take half of the puff pastry recipe (you can freeze the rest), then roll out about 3/4 of that into a circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan. Press the dough into the pan, then add the filling which goes like this:

Bottom layer is about 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, baked, peeled and mashed with 1/4 c. orange juice, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and salt & pepper to taste.

Next layer is about 2 c. homemade seitan (we used this recipe), fried until well browned.

Next layer is about 2 lbs. button mushrooms, coarsely chopped, sauteed and seasoned with fresh thyme, salt & pepper. Make sure you cook off all the moisture and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Final layer is 2 big bunches (1 1/2 lbs.) fresh spinach cooked until soft with 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and salt & pepper. Again, make sure it's drained well.

Then roll out the remaining puff pastry into a circle large enough to cover the pie, place it on top and crimp around the edges. Cut a few small slits in the top and bake at 375 for about an hour or until golden brown.

Important step: Make sure you put another pan under the pie to catch any drippings. We forgot to do this and had burning nastiness on the bottom of our oven which filled the house with smoke and briefly set off the smoke detector. Fortunately it was warmer and very windy here today and we opened all the windows and aired the place out.

Roasted Roots

We used white fingerling potatoes, purple potatoes, beets, and a rutabaga. We chopped these into bite-sized pieces and mixed them with olive oil, fresh thyme, salt & pepper, and roasted in a baking dish for about an hour at 375. It helps to cut the beets and rutabaga into smaller pieces than the potatoes because they'll take a little longer to cook.

Stuffing

I cut a loaf of fresh bread into about a 1" dice and dried the pieces in the warming drawer of our oven (you could just do it in the oven over low heat). I'm not sure of the exact quantity but I'm thinking it amounted to around 8 cups. I sauted diced onion and celery in olive oil, added about 2 tsp. each dried ground sage and dried parsley, salt & pepper, 1/2 c. chopped walnuts and 1 medium granny smith apple, peeled, cored and diced. I then added 2 c. homemade vegetable stock (many veg. cookbooks have recipes), stirred until most of the liquid was incorporated, transferred to a covered casserole dish, and baked at 375 for 30 minutes.

Mushroom-Walnut Gravy

This recipe is only slightly modified from one in the November, 1996 issue of Vegetarian Times. That was our first vegetarian Thanksgiving and we've made this gravy almost every year since then.

2 c. boiling water
1 c. dried wild mushrooms
1/2 c. all-purposes flour
1/2 c. finely chopped shallot
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 to 2 c. vegetable stock
1/2 c. toasted and finely chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Pour boiling water over mushrooms and let steep for 20 min.
In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown flour, stirring constantly until color is deep amber, about 5-10 min. Be careful not to burn. Scrape flour onto a plate to cool.
In skillet, saute shallot in olive oil until translucent.
Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid. Rinse mushrooms and chop finely. Strain reserved liquid through several layers of cheesecloth.
In a saucepan, combine flour with a little stock, whisking until smooth. Add remaining stock and mushroom liquid. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently until it starts to thicken. Add mushrooms, onion, walnuts, thyme, salt & pepper. Cook until heated through and fairly thick. Add more stock if it's too thick.

Cranberry Sauce

Cook 1 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries, 1 1/2 c. orange juice, and 1 c. sugar over medium heat until cranberries have popped. Remove from heat and let cool, then refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Whew! That's a lot of cooking (and a lot of writing). Now we can spend the rest of the weekend eating all the leftovers so we may not be posting much the next few days.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More soup

So I mentioned yesterday the mini bread loaves I was planning on using for serving soup. Tonight I made a black bean soup to put in the bread bowls and the result looks fun, but it didn't turn out quite like I had hoped so I'll forgo posting the recipe. I should've used more liquid in the soup because it came out more like a bowl of black beans than a soup and there wasn't enough liquid to soak into the bread. Darlene suggested trying these bread bowls again sometime, but with her potato soup which is typically thinner and less chunky. Sounds like a good idea.

We spent a lot of time cooking today because we got started on a few things for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow (like Darlene's cheesecake below). More on the feast soon.

pumpkin cheesecake - yummiiii

Hi Everyone! I just finished making our Thanksgiving dessert. It is best to make it the day before you plan to serve so the flavors can intensify. The recipe is similar to the one in Sinfully Vegan by Lois Dieterly (a great book for vegans with a sweet tooth) with some modifications to cut the recipe in half and still use lots of fresh pumpkin. Chris found the crust recipe in our local alternative weekly, the C-ville. They published a very non-vegan pumpkin cheesecake recipe from local restaurant Rapture, but the crust looked good (and simple). The recipe called for butter but I substituted vegan margarine.

Pumpkin Cheesecake - Vegan Style

Crust:
¾ c. quick oats
¾ c. chopped walnuts
¾ c. light brown sugar
½ tsp. Cinnamon
¼ c. melted margarine

Mix together all dry ingredients, then add margarine and mix well. Press into the bottom of a 9” springform pan and bake at 325 for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool. I put a circle of parchment paper on the bottom to make it a little easier to remove the pie from the pan.

Filling:

2 8-oz. containers Tofutti cream cheese
1 12-oz. box silken tofu
1 cup sugar (I used organic turbinado sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup fresh pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground ginger

Combine cream cheese and tofu in food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add sugar and blend until creamy. Add remaining ingredients, blend and pour into cooled prepared crust. Place on top rack of oven. Place a shallow pan filled with water on the lower rack of oven and bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

Topping:

1 12-oz. box silken tofu
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon

While cheesecake is baking, place tofu in food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add other ingredients and process to blend. After 50 minutes, pull cheesecake out of oven and carefully spread on topping.

Return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight before serving. Enjoy!!

Tempeh "Bacon" and Home Fries

I'm off work today so I had time for something more than just cereal for breakfast. Another great recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance is the tempeh "bacon" which is basically tempeh strips marinated in a mixture of apple cider, soy sauce and garlic with a little tomato paste and liquid smoke and then fried. I've also tried adding a little maple syrup to the marinade and that worked well.

The home fries this morning were just from 2 yukon gold potatoes diced and fried in peanut oil with salt and pepper to taste. Many recipes for home fries will tell you to boil the potatoes first until they're just barely tender and then fry them, but I'm lazy and usually skip that step. I've found that if the potatoes are diced fairly small (like 1/2" or less) then they'll get tender just from frying them.

We rounded out our breakfast with some toast from yesterday's bread.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bread

Today was the day to bake my bread (which I wrote about in a post from a couple days ago). This time I tried something a little different. Usually this recipe makes 2 large loaves, but instead I made one large loaf and cut the other half of the dough into 4 pieces so I could have smaller loaves to use as bread bowls for soup (which I'll probably write about tomorrow). Some of what you see here will also be turned into stuffing for our Thanksgiving meal so stay tuned.

Since we were snacking again today on some more of Darlene's oatmeal peanut butter cookies dinner was just a salad and sandwiches on some of the fresh bread. Our sandwiches were pretty simple - soy turkey, lettuce and veganaise. We try not to overdo it with processed convenience foods, but sometimes they're, well, convenient.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A good day for soup

45 degrees and raining today in Charlottesville so that made me think about soup for dinner. Here's how I made a pretty simple split pea soup:

1 medium onion, diced
1 large stalk celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups water
1 veg. boullion cube
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
1 cup dried green split peas, rinsed
1 large yukon gold potato, diced into bite sized pieces
1 tsp. liquid smoke

Saute onion, celery and carrots in olive oil with a little salt and pepper until they start getting soft. Add garlic and cook about 1 min. more. Add marjoram, bay leaf, water, veg. boullion, split peas, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered until split peas are just getting soft, about 45-60 min. Add potato and liquid smoke and continue to simmer until potato is tender, about 10 min. more. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

We had this with toast from some whole grain bread I made a couple weeks ago and had in the freezer and started with a small salad.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Quick Curry

And a quick post. Wanted to do something fairly quick and easy for dinner and we had a head of cauliflower in the fridge so I turned it into a curry with some other ingredients we had on hand.

1 medium onion, diced
garlic and ginger to taste, finely minced
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large yukon gold potato, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 Tsp. curry powder
1 can lite coconut milk
1/3 c. soy creamer
1 can chickpeas, rinsed

Saute onion in a little oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 min. more. Add curry powder and cook for a few seconds, then add cauliflower, potato, coconut milk and creamer and stir well. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until cauliflower and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook for about 1 min. more until chickpeas are heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice (or whatever other grain you like).

Sourdough Banana Pancakes

I'm planning on baking bread in a day or two and I started feeding my sourdough starter yesterday. If you've baked sourdough bread you know that you often end up with a lot of starter left over. Here's a recipe (slightly modified) from Nancy Silverton's Breads From the La Brea Bakery. This is a great book and I highly recommend it if you're interested in sourdough. This book got me started a few years ago and I love it. It can be a little intimidating (the basic bread recipe in this book goes on for about 15 pages), but I've done fine with it and I'm certainly no gourmet baker.

You can usually find a copy of the book used on ebay. There are also tons of web sites dedicated to sourdough though I don't know of a particular one to recommend - just google "sourdough bread". If you happen to have a starter or you get into it and make one, here's something you can do with the leftovers:

1 1/2 c. sourdough starter (assuming you have a wet starter)
1 very ripe banana
2 Tbs. canola oil
2 Tbs. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Mash banana in a large bowl, then mix in the oil and maple syrup. Mix in starter, then add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cook in a skillet or griddle as you would with any other pancakes.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Cashew Butter Sandwiches

Tonight was a quick dinner since we filled up this afternoon on these absolutely delicious Oatmeal Peanut Butter cookies Darlene made (another awesome recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance). There's this recipe on the PPK web site that's a little similar, but if you want the recipe we used go buy the book!

Back to dinner... last month we went to the Green Valley Book Fair, which we had heard has tons of books for really cheap. Well, that's true, but they're mostly older and/or less popular books. Their cookbook section was decidedly mainstream, but we did pick up Moby's "teany book" for 4 bucks. It has stories and recipes from his cafe called teany, and was definitely well worth it at that price.

So dinner tonight was a salad similar to a couple of nights ago and these sandwiches from teany book (thanks Moby!):

We used a light wheat bread and spread cashew butter generously on one slice and apple butter on the other slice. On the cashew butter side put about a quarter of a large banana, sliced and on the apple butter side drizzle about a half teaspoon of maple syrup. Put together, spread margarine on both sides and grill in a skillet over medium heat until nice and brown on both sides. Oh, and make more than one because once you've had one you'll definitely want another.

Here's what ours looked like...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Submit to the Dynasty

Went to our favorite Chinese restaurant tonight, Ming Dynasty. They had new T-shirts that said "Submit to the Dynasty" on the back. Might have to get one...

Anyway, Darlene was driving by Ming Dynasty a few days ago and commented that we hadn't been there in a while. There have been a few new veg-friendly restaurant offerings in our humble little town lately (which I'm sure we'll address in due time), but Ming is still one of our favorites. It was actually the first place I ate in Charlottesville when I came here for my job interview.

When I first became vegetarian about 10 years ago I did so somewhat gradually. I had finally gotten to the point where I was eating almost no meat, but I was on a work trip in eastern North Carolina and eating dinner at a Chinese buffet with maybe 2 veggie options. They also had Sesame Chicken on the buffet and I just had to have some - I love Chinese food and I really loved sesame chicken. Well, that was the last time I ate meat, but after that I was on a quest to find a good veggie alternative. Enter Ming Dynasty. Not only do they have Sesame Vegetarian Chicken (made with soy), but an entire menu full of Chinese favorites made with veggies and/or soy & wheat based meat alternatives. Darlene had the Sweet & Sour Vegetarian Meatballs and we shared. These "meatballs" are made with soy and veggies and quickly deep-fried so they're crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. To die for. They were actually named by one of our alternative weeklies as one of the best tastes in Charlottesville. Oh, and another thing we like about Ming is that you can get brown rice instead of white. Much better for you. And more tasty I think.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A big salad with a simple asian-style dressing

Sometimes when we cook we have a lot left over. Usually that's what's for lunch the next day. Tonight it was what's for dinner. We had still had some of the stroganoff from last night so we had some of that along with a big salad (remember the Seinfeld episode with the big salad? ours probably isn't like that one but I just like saying big salad.) Now I don't want to enforce the stereotype that vegans are a bunch of salad-eating hippies, but sometimes we do like a salad.

The fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from our garden are gone (wah!) so we had a big bowl full of a mix of romaine and red leaf lettuce with carrots, a couple of mushrooms that didn't make it into last night's dinner, a small handful of slivered almonds and a handful of chickpeas.

Then for the really easy tasty dressing: a generous drizzle of toasted sesame oil, a healthy splash of rice vinegar and a couple of dashes of soy sauce.

Great Granola and a typical workday breakfast

During the week my typical breakfast is probably not much different than a lot of non-vegans: cereal. Only mine is eaten with soy milk. I like about half a bowl of Flax Plus so I get some good Omega 3s and half of something else. And a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice (one answer to another common question, "Do you get enough calcium?")

This morning I finished off the last of a batch of granola I made last week. I had never made granola before until I discovered this great recipe from Alton Brown on the Food Network. Yeah, we're Food Network junkies, taking whatever vegan crumbs they throw our way. I really like Alton Brown's show Good Eats, well except when he's doing something stupid like the beef jerkey show from the other night.

Anyway, back to the granola. If you've never made it before, give it a try (and even if you have made it try the recipe above). It's really easy and well, good eats. If you want to jazz it up, try using dried blueberries instead of the raisins.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Seitan Portobello Stroganoff

I recently discovered the Post Punk Kitchen site and it totally rocks as does the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook that's recently come out. We've tried several recipes from this book lately and so far they're all awesome. This stroganoff recipe we made for dinner tonight is in the book and also on the PPK web site here. We splurged and stopped by our local pasta maker Mona Lisa Pasta and got some fresh-made wild mushroom fettuccine to have with the stroganoff. At 4 bucks a pound this fresh pasta is not something we get all that often but is sure does taste good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Greetings

This is for anyone who's ever asked me "What do you eat?", especially a particular nurse in Tempe, Arizona.

Let me explain. In 2001 we were living in Tempe and my appendix ruptured and I spent 13 days in the hospital. There's a lot more to that story, but here's the relevant part. For probably half that time I couldn't eat solid food, but when I could start eating I immediately realized that as a vegan, the hospital had almost nothing for me. So Darlene would go down the street to the local co-op and bring me food. Most of the nurses there understood and many were interested in hearing more about our diet. One particular nurse though was incredulous and when we tried to explain our diet she said, "What do you eat, air?"

I should've explained to her that she might want to check out that rather large section of the grocery store called Produce, but I was too drugged at the time and I let it go.

Now let's eat.