Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Fine Fall Weekend

How about a picture-heavy post for a change? And you'll notice in many of these pictures that the sky is crystal clear. It was 75 degrees and sunny here in central Virginia this weekend and we took advantage of the beautiful weather. On Saturday we walked downtown for the 11th annual Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival.

First stop was the food court and the lines were long but we waited patiently for some good grub.

The offerings at the African place looked good and we started there since they came up from Richmond and we can't get this stuff locally. Interesting that they covered up the word "meat" on their sign but we didn't let that bother us too much since everything on offer here was vegan.

We splurged and got the sampler platter which included, well, a sample of everything. In front is jerk roasted vegetables next to red beans and rice covered with a mock chicken stew. In the back is mixed greens, fried plantains, ginger plantain and rice cake, and fried bean cakes (which despite the rather plain name were probably the best thing there).

After sharing that big platter we still wanted something more so we headed over to the Ethiopian food booth. I was disappointed that the person in front of me got the very last of the spicy red lentils but the collards, yellow split peas and mixed vegetables were still delicious. As was the lentil sambusa poking out in front. I think there were actually fewer food choices than in years past but still we came away pretty darn full. For more on the veg. fest check out this post over at the "Where's the Meat?" blog.

We woke up this morning to another clear blue sky and after going for a walk we headed up to Carter Mountain Orchard for another round of apple picking.

The only variety available for picking was Golden Delicious, but these were indeed delicious - nothing like the bland mush you find at a mainstream grocery store.

We came home and promptly started making apple jam. And I'm looking forward to cracking open one of those jars to have with my oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow. I'm also looking forward to leftover soup for lunch. For those of you who haven't seen this yet, Isa has posted some sample recipes from the upcoming Veganomicon. We made the Chickpea Noodle Soup for dinner tonight and it was D-lish!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Zucchini and Corn with Tempeh Bacon

I was talking to my mom the other night and we got to talking about food. I'm not sure where this came from but she remembered a dish they used to make when I was growing up - yellow squash and corn with bacon. She figured it would be easily veganized and she was right. I really have no recollection of this from my childhood but regardless it made for an interesting dinner - with tempeh bacon that is.

We didn't have yellow squash but we did have a couple of nice zucchinis from the farmers market. I started by making the Tempeh Bacon from Vegan with a Vengeance (which I usually tweak by using maple syrup and cider vinegar instead of apple cider). While that was going on I cooked the zucchini in olive oil with salt & pepper and then added frozen corn. When the tempeh was done I broke it into smaller pieces and mixed it together with the zucchini and corn. Quite yummy. On the side we had brown rice that I kicked up by adding coconut milk to the cooking liquid and adding cilantro and lime juice when it was done.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quinoa with Spinach, Apples and Walnuts

This seems a little blah after the last post but we had to get back to something healthy. And quick for a weeknight. So I started flipping through Quick-Fix Vegetarian and this quinoa pilaf caught my eye. It was pretty simple and really good. I just sautéed some onions and chopped walnuts in olive oil, added frozen spinach, and then a diced apple. Then just mix in quinoa that was cooked in veggie broth and season with salt & pepper. Delicious and nutritious!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Love a Challenge (or veganizing Paula Deen)

The other day I was catching up on Erik Marcus' podcasts and on the September 10 show he mentioned Paula Deen's Big Mike Burger, only because of how incredibly NOT VEGAN it is. He also said he'd like to see someone try veganizing this gluttonous creation so I thought I'd give it a whirl. On the one hand, there's only so much you can do in veganizing something that's all beef and butter. Go ahead, click on the link and see what's in this thing. Call it morbid curiosity but since the Food Network doesn't see fit to publish nutrition information for their recipes (at least not this one) I went to and punched in some numbers. A single double-decker burger has around 1200 calories, including almost 100 grams of fat, 35 grams of which is saturated fat. It also has 250 mg of cholesterol and 1500 mg of sodium. That is truly a heart attack on a plate if ever I've seen one. But if you really want to see something scary check out all the 5-star reviews - and realize that these people are serious.

Well I'm not against gluttony every once in a while as long as it's vegan-style, so this evening I spent some time in the kitchen coming up with this:

I'll call it the Big V Burger - there's not an animal product in sight. I started by making homemade buns from a recipe I've mentioned before. Both burger recipes are adapted from a back issue of Vegetarian Times (July, 2000).

Tempeh-Pecan Burgers

1 8-oz. package tempeh
2 Tbs. vegan margarine (like Earth Balance)
1 c. pecans
1/4 c. each diced onion, red bell pepper and celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. Braggs (or soy sauce)
1 tsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cut the tempeh into a large dice, cover with water in a saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes. Put half the tempeh into a food processor and crumble the other half into a large bowl. Heat the margarine in a skillet over medium heat and add pecans, onion, bell pepper and celery. Cook until the veggies start to soften then add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Add this concoction to the food processor along with the remaining ingredients and process until everything is well blended and fairly smooth. Add to the bowl with the remaining tempeh and mix well. Form into 4 equal-size patties and fry in a little canola oil over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until nice and brown.

Seitan Burgers

8 oz. seitan
2 Tbs. vegan margarine
3-4 shiitake mushrooms, diced
1/2 c. diced onion
1/4 c. diced red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. thyme
3/4 tsp. cumin
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. flour
1 Tbs. cornmeal
1 oz. vegan cheddar, cut into small dice

Coarsely chop seitan, put in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Heat the margarine in a skillet over medium heat and add shiitakes, onion, and bell pepper. Cook until the veggies start to soften then add the garlic, salt, thyme, cumin and pepper and cook another minute or so. Add this concoction to the food processor along with the remaining ingredients (except cheddar) and process until everything is well blended and chopped fine. Transfer to a bowl, mix a little with your hands then form into 4 equal-size balls. Press your finger into the middle of each ball, add some vegan cheese, close the ball around the cheese and flatten into a patty. Fry in a little canola oil over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until nice and brown.

For the "Special Sauce", we sort of followed Paula Deen's recipe but just reduced it by a quarter (because that's all you really need). Just mix all this stuff together: 1/4 c. vegan mayo, 2 Tbs Dijon mustard, 1 Tbs. ketchup, 1 Tbs. agave, 1 tsp. minced jalapeño, and a dash of hot sauce.

To serve, cut 2 buns in half. On the bottom half of one, put a tempeh-pecan burger. Top with another bottom bun half and then add a seitan burger. Top that with some of the sauce, a slice of tomato, lettuce, red onions and a pickle. Top it off with the top half of a bun and enjoy a cholesterol free indulgence. (I didn't figure out the nutrition data for my vegan version but I guarantee it's a far cry better for you than Paula's.)

Now for those of you who don't have such a big mouth you could do what I did for Darlene and make a single-decker sandwich with half of each kind of burger. As we noticed when I cut them in half, the soy cheese inside the seitan burger doesn't really melt that much but still we thought it looked cool.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Okra Curry

It's not something we regularly seek out but occasionally if we see some nice okra at the farmers market we'll bring it home. But then I'm never really sure what to do with it. I've seen it in Indian dishes so I thought maybe some kind of curry might be nice. I wouldn't call this Indian exactly but it was pretty good for a recent weeknight meal. It was going to be just okra and potatoes but we had a very small handful of green beans from our garden so I threw those in too. I adapted the recipe from the Curried Potatoes and Peas in Moby's teany book.

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbs. canola oil
small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground corriander
1/2 lb. okra, chopped (about 2 cups)
small handful green beans, chopped
1 c. coconut milk

Boil the potatoes until they're tender and set aside. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they're getting soft. Add garlic, salt, curry powder, cumin and corriander and cook another minute or so. Add okra, beans and coconut milk, bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for a few minutes until the veggies are getting soft. Stir in the potatoes and serve over rice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pot Pie with Cauliflower and Greens

We finally had our first cold snap here (cool snap?) and what's great about colder nights is baking things in the oven without feeling guilty that we're causing the A/C to work overtime. This pot pie hit the spot on a recent cool night. Our old standby pot pie recipe is from the Vegetarian Times cookbook. We always tweak the recipe to our liking and this time I really just used the recipe as a guide and went in my own direction but it came out really good. The main veggies were cauliflower and collard greens and Darlene did sort of a rustic topping by putting the dough for the crust on by spoonfuls (see, you can just wing it and call it rustic and it's great). Even though we went back for seconds we still had room for dessert - apple crisp made with apples we picked at an orchard just down the road. Oh, and a little soy cream on the side. Mighta gone back for seconds on this too I think.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cashew Butter Waffle Sandwiches

Way back in the day (in '05 that is), the Cashew Butter Sandwiches from Moby's teany book were one of the first things we posted about (in fact that was the first picture we ever posted). More recently we made savory waffle sandwiches. And then it hit me. Cashew Butter Waffle Sandwiches! So this morning I made our old standby waffle recipe, then I made sandwiches with cashew butter, apple butter, bananas and maple syrup in between two waffles, then I grilled the sandwiches in a fry pan with a little margarine. Oh yeah... that's what I'm talkin' about...

And now for an administrative note. I've finally updated the links over there on your left. There are so many great vegan blogs coming (and sometimes going) these days that my RSS reader is getting really full. I'm sure I've missed something good over there but I think I've linked to most of what's in my reader and updated regularly.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jerk Tofu

Last night I was trying to decide what to make for dinner with tofu and some nice peppers from our garden when the Vegan with a Vengeance Jerk Seitan recipe popped into my brain. We've had it with the seitan a few times before and I figured it'd work just as well with tofu. It did. Especially since I put the tofu in the marinade before I went to work in the morning so it had plenty of time to suck up all the flavors - onions, garlic, ginger, lime juice, soy sauce, olive oil, maple syrup, thyme, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne.... So much yum! We had it with mashed potatoes and greens too - also yum.

But don't you hate it when you plan on having something with your dinner and then you totally forget about it? Or maybe I'm the only one who does that. At any rate, a couple weeks ago I made a big batch of Jamaican veggie patties and froze some extras. I took the last two out of the freezer in anticipation of this meal but then I forgot to serve them. No matter though - they were great for lunch with the leftovers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Breakfast for Dinner (Southern Style)

We've written about breakfast for dinner many times before but it's been a while so here we go again. This time I was inspired by a biscuit cutter. We make biscuits on occasion but we've never had a real biscuit cutter - we always used a glass or a round tupperware or some such thing. One day I decided to look for a better tool for the job but I looked in 3 or 4 stores and could find nary a biscuit cutter. Well that threw me for a loop because this is the South! People make biscuits here all the time! I found a tortilla warmer and an avocado slicer and all kinds of other crazy things but no simple biscuit cutter.

Well finally a few days ago we happened to stop in a Bed Bath & Beyond store and once again I scoured the shelves for a biscuit cutter. I was just about to give up when I spotted one (a package of 3 actually). So then we had to have biscuits. And gravy. Baking Powder Biscuits with White Bean and Tempeh Sausage Gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance to be exact. And some roasted potatoes on the side. And collard greens so it's not too much of a brown plate. Darlene did a fine job with the biscuits and I made the gravy a little thick but it sure did taste good.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Cold Udons with Peanut Sauce and Seitan

We've posted about this before but it's one of our favorite recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance so I figured it's worthy of a repeat. Plus I was talking to a friend at work the other day about Asian sauces and I told him I knew of a great peanut sauce recipe. I saw over on the PPK a while back that Isa doesn't mind the occasional posting of one of her recipes so I figured I'd share the peanut sauce recipe here for what is hopefully the very small minority of you who don't have your own copy of VwaV. The rest of this dish is cold udon noodles on the bottom and fresh veggies and fried seitan (with a little garlic and soy sauce) on top - and black sesame seeds to finish it off. In her recipe Isa uses seedless cucumber, red bell pepper, bean sprouts and scallions for the veggies. This time around I left out the bean sprouts and used a yellow bell pepper because we had a nice one fresh from our garden. And to get some red into the picture I added a little tomato and a few hot red pepper slices. But it's the peanut sauce that makes the dish (I could eat this stuff with a spoon):

2 tsp. peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 c. water
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. ground coriander
2/3 c. smooth peanut butter
2 Tbs. real maple syrup
3 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 tsp. Asian chile sauce

In a small saucepan, sauté garlic and ginger in oil over medium heat. Add water, soy sauce and coriander and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, then mix in the remaining ingredients and remove from heat. Serve at room temperature over cold udons with cold veggies and warm seitan on top.

On a different topic I have to give props to Canon for fixing our camera. For free even. And quickly. Until now I've never had any problems with Canon products. Even the 15 year old low-end 35mm film camera I have from them still works great and we'd been happy with our digital camera too. The digital camera is 4 years old but still I was irritated when it broke. But I contacted Canon through their web site and since the issue we had was a recurring one they fixed it for free even though it's long out of warranty. We just got it back yesterday and it works good as new. And that makes less than two weeks from the time I first contacted them to the time we got it back repaired. So now I guess I'm happy with Canon again.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Café 88

It's been quite a while since we've been out to eat and especially with our vet bills of late we're trying to avoid such expenses. But we had a couple of good excuses to splurge just a bit tonight, the first being that it's my birthday. And second, we really wanted to check out a new restaurant. Café 88 just opened last week and it's run by the former owner of Ming Dynasty, which is sort of our old standby for good vegetarian Chinese food. Now we may have a new favorite. The menu at Café 88 is small (in fact so is the café itself), and it's not all vegetarian but there are several veg. options (which the owner told us are all vegan). The menu is billed as "dim sum, snacks and Chinese bento box". Of the 9 bento box options, 5 are veg., including the Crispy Tofu and Vegetarian Protein Special that we had tonight. These come with rice and two side dishes, which tonight were a very tasty bok choy stir fry and a fried soy patty (which tasted much better than it sounds). My tofu came with a delicious brown sauce and was quickly deep fried so it had a thin crispy coating and it was soft on the inside. Darlene's Protein Special was excellent, though unlike anything I've had before. I guess it was bean curd sheets, folded up and maybe cooked in a flavorful broth. And for under 20 bucks we had 2 dinners and enough for one big lunch tomorrow. I only wish our camera wasn't still being serviced because both our meals looked as tasty as they were.

Oh, and I almost forgot... for anyone who's local: 923 Preston Ave., next to Integral Yoga.
I've also updated our local restaurant round up and linked to it in the sidebar.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Walnut Pesto

Hmmm... I just realized this is the second post in a row about walnuts. Well they're good for you right? It's also the time of year when the basil is bolting and it's time to pick a bunch of it and make pesto. Only this time I figured the Walnut Pesto recipe in Vive le Vegan! looked a little different and interesting.

That it was, though it's a little more homely and not as photogenic as it's bright green counterpart the traditional basil/olive oil/pine nut pesto. The walnuts and soy milk give it a beige color that the green basil just can't overcome. Ah, but looks aren't everything and I have to admit that I liked this concoction more than a traditional pesto. It's a little more creamy, which I like, plus it doesn't quite have the intense basil flavor. We had it over whole wheat spaghetti with steamed kale on the side and I dressed it up as best I could for the picture with some nice cherry tomatoes on top.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Walnut Orange Muffins

This is another one I dug out of our pile of recipe clippings recently. It was vegan to start with but I tweaked it just a little. The original recipe is from a local bakery called Our Daily Bread that I don't think is open any more.

If you're looking for a light fluffy muffin, just keep looking because these are pretty dense. Their lack of fluffiness can be forgiven though because they're packed full of all kinds of good-for-you stuff.

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. flax seeds
1 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. orange juice
zest of 1 orange
1 c. apple sauce
1/4 c. canola oil
1/2 c. agave

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together (through raisins). In another bowl, mix remaining ingredients together then add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Portion out into muffin tins (you can fill them to the top because these won't rise very much) and bake for 40-45 minutes. Makes 12-14 muffins.