Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Real Happy Family

Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant and seen something called "Happy Family" on the menu? This usually consists of several different types of meat, like beef, chicken and shrimp, all "happily" married together in one dish. But I got to thinking that this really isn't a happy family at all. It's a dead family. And certainly the animals whose remains are swimming in brown sauce didn't have happy lives. So the other day I set out to create a real happy family - a stir-fry containing a trio of proteins that provide an interesting contrast in flavor and texture, but without all that death.

I didn't write down a recipe but if you've ever made a stir-fry you can try something similar with whatever veggies and sauce you like. I used about 8 oz. each of seitan, marinated tofu and marinated tempeh. The veggies were primarily red bell pepper and carrot because that's what we had on hand, and I also threw in a little frozen broccoli. And the sauce was hoisin, rice vinegar and a few other things I don't remember. What I do remember is that it was an explosion of flavor. So go try your own real happy family.

On a related note I have a question for you tempeh eaters out there. You know who you are. Do you steam your tempeh before cooking with it? I did in this case and I've read that steaming cuts down on the bitterness but often I'm lazy and I don't bother and I don't know if I really notice the difference.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hodgepodge Lentil Stew

When you don't have a lot of time to cook, one obvious strategy is to cook vast quantities when you do. And a soup or stew is easy to expand. We didn't make it to the farmers market this morning (long story) but we still had some things left from last weekend's market that we needed to use up - namely a big bunch of collards, scallions and some nice red and purple potatoes. I was thinking about the white bean soup with collards that I've made in the past but lentils were what we had on hand so that's the direction I went. I kind of made it up as I went along but it came out good so I'll share what I did. It's not exactly the perfect meal for the first day of summer but the weather has been a bit mild here lately...

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion diced
3 small carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. smoked paprika
salt & pepper to taste (depends on saltiness of the broth)
8 cups veg. broth or water
1 pound lentils, rinsed
1 large bunch collards, chopped
1 pound potatoes, diced
chopped scallions for garnish

Heat oil in a large soup pot and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook for several minutes then add the garlic, tarragon, paprika, salt & pepper and cook another minute or so. Add water or broth, lentils and collards. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 30-40 minutes until lentils are just getting tender. Add potatoes and simmer another 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Adjust seasonings if needed and serve garnished with scallions.

And since the food is not exceptionally interesting I'll be shameless and drop in another pic. It's food related only in that it demonstrates the reason we're not cooking as much as we used to.

These last 6 weeks have not been without their (many) challenges but in general everyone is doing well.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Glazed Tofu x2

It seems the weekends are the only time I'm cooking anything remotely blog-worthy these days. Last weekend I made the Chili Lime Tofu from VeganYumYum. You should seriously go try this recipe.

Well what are you waiting for? Go.

OK... now that you've tried it, isn't it simple and delicious? A whirlwind of flavors? We didn't have collards so we had ours over a bed of fresh spinach. I'll show you what ours looked like but Lolo's picture is way better so follow the link and check it out.

Last night I wanted to do something different after several nights of having pasta. I thought of the Chili Lime Tofu again but I thought I'd change it up a bit. Then I saw the bottle of Trader Joe's pomegranate glaze that's been in the back of our fridge for I don't know how long and the proverbial light bulb lit up. I used that as the base for the glaze and added soy sauce, maple syrup, and a little molasses and red chili paste. We had our pomegranate glazed tofu over brown rice with some fresh local chard on the side and it was fabulous.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Restaurant Recipes from VT

It figures. We're always griping about the relative lack of vegan recipes in Vegetarian Times but the latest issue has more vegan recipes than we've seen among their pages in a long time. Except we have less time than ever before for cooking. The section on favorite recipes from vegetarian restaurants is particularly interesting and I did manage to throw together the Seitan Piccata (recipe from Candle 79) a couple nights ago. The Urban Vegan stole my thunder (as she is wont to do) but I don't have anything better to post about so.....

We still had some seitan in the freezer and we love anything with capers and lemon juice so the piccata sounded excellent - and fairly simple to make. Plus I really wanted to cook with wine, which is something I haven't done since before Darlene was pregnant. Some friends brought us fresh potatoes and peas from their garden and those were a nice accompaniment to the seitan. With the potatoes and peas we kept it simple - they were boiled briefly and served with salt, pepper and a little Earth Balance. There's nothing like fresh from the garden produce.

We also tried the Mac and Cheese recipe from Vegetarian Times, which is from Portland's Vita Cafe. It was good, if a little garlicky. We made it a little more nutritious by adding frozen spinach and we had toast with hummus on the side. I'm trying to find the time to cook but this is more typical of our meals these days - just a quick pasta dish (unless we're having Chinese take out or something frozen).

Monday, June 02, 2008

Cauliflower and Seitan Curry

Saturday was our first trip to the farmer's market with baby Jonas. We've been for walks around the neighborhood but this was his first outing where he got to meet lots of people. Well, lots of people met him; he was more interested in sleeping than meeting people. There was a bounty of produce, and one find was a nice big head of cauliflower. Last night Darlene's mom came over to watch Jonas for a bit while we got some things done around the house (like take showers for the first time in at least 3 days). Then I probably should have taken a nap but I really wanted to make a nice dinner for a change and use some of our fresh local produce.

One of the only things I know to do with cauliflower is make a curry so off I went. I ended up using the excellent Vindaloo Vegetables recipe from Fatfree Vegan as a guide, but made several changes based on what we had on hand. I didn't have quite the diversity of vegetables found in Susan's recipe so it was mostly cauliflower with a couple of carrots thrown in for good measure. And the seitan we made before baby came is still paying dividends. We had a chunk of that thawed from the freezer so I diced it up and threw that in the curry as well. The best thing about this meal though was that there's enough left over for lunch today and dinner tonight.

But you don't really care about any of that do you? Cute is what sells so here's the money shot.