Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Feast 2008

How many of you out there in veg-land have had a Tofurkey on Thanksgiving? Or at any other time? I was just trying to remember Thanksgivings past and I realized this was at least our 12th vegan Thanksgiving meal (and there were one or two more that were vegetarian and possibly vegan). In all that time we'd never had a Tofurkey. Our centerpiece has most often been a layered vegetable pie of some sort but the point has always been to cook from scratch and highlight the vegetables. That can take a lot of time though, something that's in short supply this year. Now it's all about convenience so we went with the Tofurkey. We still spent some time in the kitchen cooking other dishes but not nearly as much time as in years past. The Tofurkey comes with stuffing and gravy, and to complement all that we also made roasted potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce and pumpkin cheesecake.

For the potatoes I just roasted Yukon golds with olive oil, rosemary, salt & pepper while the Tofurkey was cooking. Like the last 2 years, the cranberries were a modified Emeril recipe. I wanted to try at least one new recipe though so I made the Green Beans with Walnuts and Shallot Crisps from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. These were definitely a step up from your standard green beans. And finally there was dessert! Darlene made her pumpkin cheesecake again this year and it was fabulous! (In fact we just had some for breakfast...)

Though I missed our over-the-top Thanksgiving meals from years past just a bit, the Tofurkey was pretty good and very easy to prepare. The Tofurkey itself, and the gravy in particular was a bit salty for our tastes but that's what happens when you don't control every aspect of your food preparation.

Dessert was a big highlight for us as always, but also for baby Jonas. No, it'll be a while before he has cheesecake but we did save a little of the plain pumpkin that went into the cheesecake and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

As for us, we thoroughly enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner and eating up the leftovers too. Including these waffles with cranberry sauce we had for breakfast yesterday. We hope you all had a happy vegan Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Easy Curries

Finding vegan recipes on the Food Network is a rare thing indeed but sometimes you find one that's super easy to veganize. This Vegetable Curry recipe from a past episode of Good Eats is a case in point. Just swap in soy yogurt and you're good to go. This comes together in a snap and the variations are endless. We followed the recipe as is once last week and last night we swapped the mixed vegetables with a bag of frozen chopped spinach and a can of chickpeas. Both variations were excellent.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why No Thanksgiving Turkey

With Thanksgiving coming up in the U.S. I just thought I'd take a moment to talk turkey. Or lack thereof. We don't eat turkey on Thanksgiving for the same reason we don't eat turkey (or any other meat) on any other day of the year. So no animals have to suffer purely for our own indulgence. Not when there are so many other amazing things to eat that are far less cruel. In fact if you look at the archives of this blog alone you'll find over 500 other things to eat. And for specific holiday ideas take a look at our past Thanksgiving posts here, here and here.

Many people say they have turkey on Thanksgiving because of tradition, but tradition is what you make it. We've made a tradition of having a meatless Thanksgiving for 10 years now and this year will be no different. Check that. It will be different in that we'll introduce our son to this tradition and hope that he will carry it on himself one day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Seitan

This is what we did for our blog anniversary. It may not make the next top ten list but it's interesting (to me anyway) because I've never cooked with broccoli rabe before. Broccoli rabe (aka Rapini) is more like a bitter green than like broccoli and it has a very pungent flavor, a little bit akin to mustard greens I guess.

I got this idea from a cooking show we happened upon last weekend on PBS. There was an Italian woman on there making orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage (and also lots of butter and cheese). I was intrigued and I figured I could easily veganize something like this, thereby leaving out a lot of fat (and a lot of cruelty). I didn't recall her exact recipe or even what show we were watching but I remembered the general idea. Which goes like this:

1 lb. package orecchiette (or other small pasta)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 lb. seitan, diced (see following recipe)
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 lb. broccoli rabe, coarsely chopped and thick stems removed
1 Tbs. tomato paste
2 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. dried basil
salt & pepper to taste

In a large deep pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add seitan and cook for several minutes until it's getting brown. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add broccoli rabe, cook until wilted then add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. While all this is happening, cook the orecchiette in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and add to the broccoli rabe and seitan. We served ours garnished with parsley.

And note that if you want the broccoli rabe to look brighter and not as drab as in my picture, serve immediately and don't let it sit on the burner over low heat while you try to get your baby to bed.

Here's how I made the seitan:

Italian Style Seitan Patties

3/4 c. + 2 Tbs. wheat gluten
1/4 c. chickpea flour
3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. fennel seed (crushed with a mortar & pestle if you have one)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 c. white beans
3/4 c. water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. soy sauce

In a large bowl, mix together gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt, herbs and spices. In another bowl, mash the beans very well with a potato masher then mix in water, oil and soy sauce (you could do this in a blender too). Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix well then divide into 6 equal portions. If you have a kitchen scale now would be a good time to use it but if not you can just eyeball it. Form each portion into a thin 3 1/2" patty and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, flip patties then bake another 10 minutes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Three Years

It's been three years since we started this blog and a lot has changed since then. We did a little bit of a special dinner for our blogiversary tonight (using a vegetable I've never cooked with before) but that'll have to wait because all I have time for is a short post.

So to tide you over here's the ubiquitous top ten list - my top ten favorite posts from the last three years. Many other posts could've made the list but I think this is a good one.

10. Lightlife review

9. Bread Pudding video

8. Christmas dinner

7. Jamaican Veggie Patties

6. Baby Shower

5. Thanksgiving

4. Veganizing Paula Deen

3. Veganizing Rachael Ray

2. A Week of Breakfast

And my number one favorite post: Apple Uglies!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Week of Quick Meals

A few months ago I posted about a typical week; this one was not so typical in that we actually had somewhat of a plan. I came up with some meal ideas over the weekend and we went shopping on Sunday morning to get what we needed for the week. We started by trying to use up some whole wheat tortillas and collards that had been in the fridge for a while. I steamed the collards, and while that was happening I scrambled tofu with black beans and salsa (among other things). The collards and tofu went on the tortillas with more salsa and Tofutti sour cream. Good and good for you!

Monday night was a very easy pasta dish. We made the Instant Roasted Red Pepper Sauce from Vegan Express and had that over pasta and broccoli (dump frozen broccoli into the pasta water when the pasta has 3-4 minutes left to cook). We doubled the sauce recipe and it goes like this: mix 1 12-oz. package of silken tofu, 1 12-oz. jar of roasted red peppers (drained), a little parsley, 1/4 c. lime juice and 1 tsp. salt in a food processor until well blended.

Tuesday was election day and I took a vacation day from work to volunteer for Obama (and he won in Virginia!). I also had slightly more time for cooking in the evening and another thing we wanted to use up was the package of ring-shaped pasta. Yup. Spaghetti O's! Without the meatballs this time but with plain 'ol diced seitan instead. (And also with a salad.)

It was back to work Wednesday and dinner was some quick fried rice since I also managed to cook a batch of brown rice Tuesday night to have at the ready.

On Thursday we also managed to throw together a simple salad, which we had with couscous (from a packaged mix) and easy barbecued tempeh (pour about 1/3 a bottle of barbecue sauce over diced tempeh and bake at 350° for 25 minutes). Friday was one of Darlene's old standbys, sort of a mock chicken-noodle soup that she makes with seitan and cute little pasta stars.

And I had another idea for Saturday but time got the better of us and we dug into our stash of boxed Indian entrees. We stock up on these things whenever we see them on sale and we cook some rice and nuke them in the microwave for a really quick meal. In fact I just went over to the Tasty Bite web site to borrow some pictures and I found that they sell their Indian and Thai meals on-line for much less than we normally find them for in the store. We like these Tasty Bite meals too because they clearly label which ones are vegan.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Video: Bread Pudding

We got a good response the last time we posted a video and have been wanting to do another one, then baby came along and here we are 6 months down the road already. Now here's one that includes baby. We did this again with our Flip, and the audio quality in particular isn't stellar but hopefully you'll get the point. The recipe I'm using is posted here.