Sunday, December 27, 2009

The End

I'll cut to the chase - I won't be updating this blog anymore. I'm finding I just don't have the time or energy to keep writing regularly and more importantly to keep it fresh and interesting. I've had so much fun writing this blog these last 4+ years. There were very few vegan food blogs when we started but now there are hundreds - please go show them some love.

I feel like I've already let this one languish but rather than let it languish any more, it will have a definitive end. A huge thanks to all of you who have stopped by over the years - I've enjoyed reading your comments and getting to know some of you. This site will most certainly stay here as long as Blogger is in existence so I encourage you to browse the archives of over 600 posts (you could start with my top 10 list). I'll probably stay on Twitter so you can follow me there (@eatair) or just check out my updates in the sidebar here.

I don't want to leave you completely empty handed so below is a recipe I took to a Christmas potluck recently. I threw it together very quickly with what we had on hand but it garnered a few compliments so I wanted to share.


Walnut and Barley Salad

1 c. barley
2 c. water
1 carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, diced
1/3 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
2 Tbs. each dried cranberries & dried blueberries
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
pinch each ground cumin and cinnamon
salt & fresh ground pepper
3 Tbs. olive oil

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan and add the barley. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Allow the barley to cool for a short time then add it to a large bowl with the carrot, celery, walnuts, cranberries and blueberries. In another small bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add to the barley then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Feast 2009

Once again, our Thanksgiving feast was not as involved as years past but unlike last year we cooked more from scratch and didn't rely on a Tofurkey. We tried a number of recipes this year from the current edition of Vegetarian Times and they all came out great. For the first time in memory - maybe for the first time ever - their Thanksgiving menu was entirely vegan. We started with the Butternut Squash-Bartlett Pear soup. It was sublime.

The main course was Smothered Seitan in Mixed Mushroom Gravy, which we had over simple mashed Yukon gold potatoes. On the side were Citrus Collards with Raisins and Cranberry Conserve (slightly modified from Emeril's recipe). It wasn't quite as crowded of a plate as we've had in the past but it was all delicious - particularly the seitan.

Finally, dessert was a tried and true recipe from a back issue of Vegetarian Times - one of the first issues we ever bought from 1996. It's a pretty basic veganized pumpkin pie recipe that primarily uses silken tofu as the binder. Basic but yummy!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eat Your Broccoli

This is by far the longest I've gone between posts so my apologies for leaving you hanging. It's a long story that I won't go into here but what I will go into are a couple of great ideas for using broccoli. And we all know broccoli is so good for you, right? We've been getting some great broccoli from our CSA recently and one night I grabbed the first cookbook that caught my eye and flipped to the first broccoli recipe that caught my eye. The book was Nava Atlas' The Vegetarian Family Cookbook and the recipe was the Creamy Tofu and Broccoli Skillet. I went with tempeh instead of tofu and also made a few other changes and I ended up with a scrumptious meal that came together very quickly.

Creamy Broccoli with Tempeh (adapted from Nava Atlas)

4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
2 large heads broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
1 c. rice milk
2 Tbs. flour
3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
salt & pepper to taste
2 8-oz. packages tempeh, cut into strips
2 Tbs. soy sauce

Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a very large skillet over medium heat and saute garlic for about 30 seconds. Add bell pepper, broccoli and 1/2 c. water. Cover and cook over medium heat until broccoli is just getting tender. Whisk flour and nutritional yeast into rice milk, stir into broccoli and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in another skillet over medium-high heat and fry tempeh strips until they're starting to get brown. Stir in soy sauce and cook for another minute or two. Serve broccoli over rice with tempeh on top.

We also got our broccoli fix recently from the Broccoli Quiche recipe from Vegan Brunch. This time we made the recipe as is and it came out great. I'm too lazy to type in another recipe and anyway, you really need to buy this book if you haven't already. And trust me when I tell you this is definitely a recipe you have to try.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Kitchen!

After six and a half years in this house we finally broke down and remodeled our kitchen. The old kitchen had a certain funky charm with its huge cast iron sink and painted cabinets but it dated to when our house was built in 1958 so we figured over 50 years was a good life span for a kitchen. The main issues were the lack of a dishwasher and drawers that slid open on friction so we always had sawdust all over our pots and pans below. Plus the sink cabinet was completely rotten underneath from a long-ago water leak. We couldn't afford the higher-end builder we talked to so we went to Lowe's and made it work by getting middle-of-the-road cabinets and counters and doing some of the work ourselves. We gained some cabinet space and a good bit of counter space and are quite happy with the result.

Here's the "before" picture in all its cluttered glory.

We don't quite have a final "after" picture yet because there was a mistake with the countertop order and the sink counter arrived two inches too short. The short counter was installed temporarily but there's a gap between the counter and wall. Hopefully a new counter will come in any day now and the short one will be replaced. Once that's done we can mount a few things on the wall by the sink, and I'm also planning on building a new spice rack since there's not enough room for our old one anymore.

And now that we have a great new kitchen maybe we'll start cooking more in it and get back to posting about food one day soon!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baked Spring Rolls

OK... this is mainly an excuse to re-hash some old content but for those who have only started reading more recently I did want to bring up this old standby. A couple weeks ago we got the largest head of napa cabbage I've ever seen from our CSA. It was still in the back of our fridge tonight and we really needed to use it so we decided to make spring rolls. There are any number of things with which to fill spring rolls but ours usually have cabbage as the main ingredient. If you have an Asian market near you that's where you'll find spring roll wrappers (as opposed to the more common egg roll wrappers which of course are not vegan). You'll usually find them in the frozen section.

One of our recipes, along with step by step instructions for rolling, is here. Most often we fry our spring rolls in a thin layer of oil in a wide flat skillet. If you want to use less oil though you can bake them like we did tonight and they'll still come out quite good. Just brush a thin layer of canola oil on a sheet pan, place the spring rolls on the pan, then brush the tops liberally with more canola oil. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, flip them over, then bake for another 15 minutes or until they're a little brown and crispy. And our first spring roll recipe, along with our go-to apricot dipping sauce recipe is here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Product Review: Cool Cups

Remember Jell-o? If you weren't vegan as a kid you probably ate plenty of it. I can't say I really miss this stuff, what with the artificial flavors and all, but I did jump at the chance to sample Cool Cups recently. In two words: vegan Jell-o. Oh, but so much better! No nasty gelatin for one thing. And no artificial colors or flavors for another. We had great fun snacking on all three flavors (orange, peach mango & black cherry). Our toddler liked them too but they do contain a good bit of sugar so mostly we kept them for ourselves. If there's one drawback it's the packaging. There's only one place I know of around here that will recycle the #5 plastic cups. Hopefully they'll figure out how to package them in something that's more easily recyclable. They're also supposed to be coming out with a powdered mix you can make at home, which will certainly also help reduce the packaging. I wonder if it'll work the same as Jell-o with alcohol. Cool Cups shots anyone?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Calzones with sunflower seed pesto

We were away for a while and we've been neglecting this blog but to get something up, here's basically a copy of something I posted recently over on my mama blog.

Here is my version of a toddler friendly pesto that is made with sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. I am waiting until Jonas is around 18 months to introduce tree nuts so decided to try a variation that he can also enjoy on his pasta. He seems to really like basil. I made a summer tomato salad with a thai basil dressing and he ate it very quickly. I was surprised since the thai basil has a strong flavor. Maybe he will take after his mama and love basil. I am a big basil fan and cannot get enough of it in the summer time. Here is the recipe.

Sunflower seed pesto

3 cups of basil leaves (I used a mix of thai, globe and purple)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add all of the ingredients except the olive olive oil to a food processor and chop well. Add enough olive oil to form a paste. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I used the pesto to make calzones. Jonas also really liked them a lot. I used a basic pizza dough recipe and also marinara that I made a while back and froze. Here is the recipe.

Sunflower seed pesto calzones

1 cup pesto
1 cup marinara
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers
pizza dough

Mix together the pesto, marinara, olives and capers. Divide the dough into several pieces. Roll out each piece, fill and bake them all for 25 minutes at 375 F. Brush the tops with olive oil after they come out of the oven. We also enjoyed them for dinner one night with a nice heirloom tomato salad.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Raw Stuffed Peppers

The last few weeks from our CSA we've been getting these "snack peppers", which are basically cute little bell peppers. At first I wasn't sure what to make of them (or with them) but they're aptly named because they're super sweet and perfect for snacking on. Last weekend we got a whole pound of them and Darlene had the brilliant idea to stuff them with a raw filling. Normally this might be a tasty appetizer but these days if we do anything remotely involved we make a meal out of it. I don't think the presentation and the picture do them justice because they really were fabulous.

Here's what we did; the filling is adapted from the Garden Pate in Ani's Raw Food Kitchen.

1 lb. small bell peppers, halved and seeded
1 c. raw cashews
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
3 carrots
2 stalks celery
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. raisins

Cover the cashews with water in a small bowl and soak for several hours. Coarsely chop the garlic, carrots and celery and add these to a food processor with everything else except the peppers. Buzz in the food processor until everything is finely copped then spoon into the pepper halves and serve. Simple!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Fresh Salsa

I'm sure many of you out there have made fresh salsa. This is for those who haven't. It's tomato season, what are you waiting for? I often don't use a specific recipe but just keep it simple. This time I diced a nice yellow heirloom tomato from our CSA, along with a little bit of red bell pepper. A minced jalapeño went into the mix too. If I would've had an onion, a small minced slice of that would go in there too. Then I added about 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt, a drizzle of sunflower oil and a splash of cider vinegar. Then I mixed everything together and opened a big bag of chips...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer Veggies

It has occurred to me that I've been neglecting this poor blog but I guess that's what happens when you have a 15-month old. Our meals these days often consist of a quick pasta, or sometimes just something frozen. This particular meal isn't necessarily something to write home about (and maybe not something to write a blog post about) but it's all I've got at the moment. Actually it was very tasty. And a good way to use a bunch of fresh veggies from our CSA. We got corn and fresh lima beans together and I thought of succotash again, but then at the last minute I decided to cook the limas with squash instead of corn. Either way they're much better than frozen lima beans. I also used up a bell pepper by slicing it and frying it with tempeh slices. At the end I poured on a mixture of soy sauce, maple syrup, ketchup and a dash of liquid smoke. Probably better to marinate the tempeh first but this was the quick method and it turned out good. Finally, we had a simple tomato salad on the side, which is something we've been having a lot of these days and never tire of. Simple is best here - chopped tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Black Bean Baked Pasta

Here's a recipe I've been meaning to post for a different sort of baked pasta. I came up with this one night while pondering how to use up some yellow squash from our CSA. I ended up using too many bread crumbs for the topping but I think I've rectified that in the recipe below.

1 lb. pasta
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
3/4 lb. yellow squash, cut into large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
2 c. cooked black beans (or 1 can)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbs. tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste

For the topping:
3 Tbs. Earth Balance, melted
1 1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. nutritional yeast
2 tsp. chili powder

Cook pasta according to package directions in plenty of boiling water. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook for a couple minutes then add squash and cook until squash is just getting a little tender. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt & pepper and cook for another minute. Add black beans, tomatoes and tomato paste and mix until well combined. Combine all this with the pasta in a large bowl. Pour into a lightly oiled 9" x 13" baking dish. Combine all the topping ingredients in a small bowl and spread on top of the pasta. Bake at 375° for about 30 minutes until the topping is getting brown.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Product Review: Bountiful Vegan cookies

I admit it. I'm a total cookie fiend. So when the folks at Bountiful Vegan asked if we'd like to sample their vegan cookies I jumped at the chance. They come in four flavors (or themes as you'll see if you follow the link). No sooner had they come in the mail than we were scarfing down the Well-Being cookie, which is Coconut Pineapple flavor. It was quite big enough to share as were all the others. I didn't get a strong coconut flavor from this one but still it was delicious. I really enjoyed the flavor combination in this one and in the Chocolate Chip-Orange and Lemon Snickerdoodle. And who doesn't like Chocolate-Chocolate Chip? The Chocolate Chip-Orange in particular has inspired me to throw in some orange zest or orange oil the next time I make chocolate chip cookies. What an amazing flavor profile! All of these cookies were a little more crumbly than I generally like my cookies but I think that mainly means they're not loaded down with fat, and anyway the flavors more than make up for that fact.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tempeh & Seitan with Onions & Peppers

Back in my college (and pre-vegan) days I'd often cook a simple meal of sausage with onions and peppers. We got a nice bell pepper from our CSA this past weekend and still had some sweet onions from last weekend. Plus we had some locally made tempeh and a little seitan left over from the previous night so that got me thinking about something similar last night. This is sort of a general idea rather than a recipe but here's what I did:

Cook bell pepper strips in a cast iron skillet in plenty of olive oil for a few minutes, then add sliced onions and some coarse sea salt. Next add chopped seitan and tempeh, then cover, reduce heat and cook for several minutes. Add paprika and fresh ground pepper and continue cooking and stirring occasionally until everything is getting a bit brown. Finally, add a tablespoon or so of soy sauce and a bit of liquid smoke and give it a quick stir. We had ours with mashed potatoes and it was scrumptious.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Simple Salads

This is probably already making the rounds on blogs and in forums but in case you've yet to see it, I thought I'd get up a quick post about this Mark Bittman article, 101 Simple Salads for the Season. The first third or so of the list is vegan and there are a number of good ideas there I want to try. Tonight we made numbers 1 and 3 on the list and both were outstanding. For #1, we used nectarines from our CSA instead of peaches or watermelon, cherry tomatoes, Thai basil, orange champagne vinegar and olive oil. You might think mixing nectarines with tomatoes is odd but I thought it interesting that I didn't notice a strong nectarine taste, it just made the tomatoes taste sweeter.
We also made the simple cucumber salad with red onion (both also from the CSA), and a whole grain yellow mustard instead of Dijon. Very yummy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What to do with rhubarb

One thing about joining a CSA is that at some point you're likely to get something you haven't had before or that you aren't quite sure what to do with. Rhubarb was both of those for me. That's right, I was a rhubarb virgin. But the first time we got rhubarb in our CSA share, a stroke of good fortune arrived around the same time in the form of a Penzey's spice catalog. In this catalog was a recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch submitted by someone named Iona Keppler. It was fabulous and I hope she and Penzey's don't mind if I share the recipe here (veganized by using Earth Balance margarine instead of butter):

1 c. flour
1 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. Earth Balance, melted
2/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. diced rhubarb
2 c. strawberries, sliced
1 c. water
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, oats, Earth Balance and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix until crumbly. Press half this mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Cover with the rhubarb and strawberries. In a small saucepan, heat the water, cornstarch and vanilla over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thick. Pour over the rhubarb and strawberries, top with the remaining crumb mixture and bake for 1 hour.

The next time we got rhubarb I wanted to do something else with it so I started poking around my cookbook collection. I found a recipe for basic stewed rhubarb in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and adapted it thusly:

1 lb. rhubarb, diced
1/4 c. agave
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
insides of 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

Simply cook all of this in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until rhubarb gets soft. This would be great over vanilla ice cream, or you can do what we did and store it in the fridge, then have a bit in your breakfast oatmeal each day for a few days.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Product Review: Curry Love

We love curries and we're also all about convenience these days so we were thrilled to have a chance to review these new simmer sauces from Curry Love. They're vegan and organic and come in three varieties: banana ginger, red Thai, and yellow Thai. The general idea is to sauté some veggies, pour in the sauce and simmer for a few minutes. The Curry Love folks offer a wealth of recipes on their web site but alas, only one of them is vegan. At any rate, we've been getting a lot of great fresh vegetables from our CSA and we're always in a hurry so we mostly kept it simple. First up we tried the yellow Thai curry with cauliflower, zucchini and seitan. I sautéed the veggies and seitan in a little oil for a few minutes then added the curry sauce, covered the pot and simmered until the veggies were tender. The result was a very quick meal that tasted like it took a lot longer to prepare.

Next up we tried the red Thai curry, opting to do something similar and have it with broccoli and seitan. This was my favorite of the lot, with a variety of subtle flavors and a nice little kick.

Finally, we had the banana ginger curry using just a slew of veggies (some from the CSA and some not): yellow squash, kale, carrots, red bell pepper and onions. Plus pineapple - always good in a curry I think. (Fresh pineapple would've been best but I opted for the convenience of canned.)

Overall we definitely enjoyed our Curry Love experience. We especially appreciated the convenience. It's great to see new products like this come out that are specifically labeled as vegan (though more vegan recipes on their web site wouldn't hurt).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pasta Stir Fry with Beet Greens

We've gotten beets several times from our CSA and thankfully the greens have always been included. You can use beet greens in any recipe that calls for greens. They're a little more delicate than kale or collards, though they don't cook quite as fast as spinach. We got shiitake mushrooms once too so I threw together this stir fry one night and we had it with pasta.

1 lb. pasta, cooked
2 Tbs. peanut oil
1 carrot, sliced diagonally
1 bunch beet greens, sliced
3 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 spring onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. minced ginger
cilantro for garnish

For the sauce, whisk all this together in a small bowl:
1 c. veg. broth
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. maple syrup
1 Tbs. cornstarch

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large wok or skillet. Add carrot and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. Add beet greens and mushrooms and cook several more minutes until all the veggies are starting to get tender. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Stir in the sauce and cook just until it starts to thicken. Finally, add the pasta, mix well and turn off the heat. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lettuce Wraps

Almost every week so far from our CSA we've gotten two heads of Bibb lettuce. So yes, we've been eating a lot of salads but we also realized early on that the shape of this stuff lends itself perfectly to lettuce wraps. The first time we did them they were totally raw, the next time the filling was cooked. The raw filling recipe we used was the Garden Pate from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. We found this book at our library a while ago and really enjoyed this recipe so I wrote down the ingredient list. I don't remember if there were more detailed instructions but all I do is buzz all this stuff in a food processor until it's well blended:

1 c. raw almonds, soaked in water for several hours then drained
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
3 carrots
2 stalks celery
1/4 c. chopped onion
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. raisins

We also did lettuce wraps with tempeh. I went the quick route and didn't marinate the tempeh first but you might consider marinating it in the soy sauce/maple syrup/lime juice/chili paste mixture. You can use the other half can of bamboo shoots in a stir fry another time.

Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

1 Tbs. peanut oil
1 can water chestnuts
1/2 can bamboo shoots
1 stalk celery
1 medium carrot
8 oz. package tempeh
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
3 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. maple syrup
1 Tbs. lime juice
1/4 tsp. chili paste
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. sesame oil

Cut the water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, celery, carrot and tempeh into a small dice. Heat the peanut oil in a large skilllet or wok and cook all of the above for 5-10 minutes until the tempeh is starting to brown. Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute. Then add the soy sauce, maple syrup, lime juice and chili paste and cook several more minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat and stir in the cilantro and sesame oil. Serve wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Product Review: WK Pacs (or Indian cooking made easy)

Recently the folks at Waverly Kitchens asked if we'd like to sample their WK Pacs, which provide a foolproof way to create an authentic Indian meal at home. Not being ones to ever turn down a good Indian meal we were happy to oblige. The WK Pacs include the spices and instructions you need to cook your own three course Indian meal. Ours included the Chola (chickpeas), Potatoes & Peas (a sabji, or dry vegetable dish) and a Spinach Raita (yogurt dish, or soy yogurt in this case).

I've dabbled in Indian cooking before and have even learned some tips from Indian friends in the past but this was probably the most authentic tasting Indian meal I've made. It's all in the spices and that's what you get from the WK Pacs. Plus a shopping list and straightforward instructions. Honestly, I'm not sure if we'll sign up for a subscription but this allowed us to enjoy a great home-cooked Indian meal and there's certainly something appealing about doing that every month.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back Soon!

I've decided to end the hiatus so I hope we have some readers still out there. Within a week of putting the blog on hiatus we decided to sign up for a CSA for the first time and I've really been wanting to write about the produce we're getting and what we've been doing with it. For starters, we've been getting a lot of lettuce and some nights we'll just have a big salad for dinner. Like this one with two kinds of lettuce, arugula, spinach and radishes all from the CSA, plus carrots and Tofurkey sausages.

We've also done lettuce wraps a couple of different ways. Stay tuned for recipes. Another thing that has inspired me (and all the rest of the vegan world) to cook recently is the release of Vegan Brunch. I'm hoping to find time to delve more deeply into this incredible book but not long ago I did manage to make an awesome tofu omelet with spinach and mushrooms.

Finally, we've had the opportunity to review some cool new products recently so stay tuned for some product review posts as well. Our little guy is 13 months old now and keeping us as busy as ever but I'm hoping to get posts up at least a few times a month. Thanks for sticking around!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Seitan, Mushroom and Veggie Stew

First things first. A recipe will follow but the main point of this post is to announce that I'm putting the blog on hiatus for an indefinite period. This is our 600th post but it'll also be the last for a while. It took two years to get to 500 posts and another year and a half to get another hundred up. Which says something about the amount of time we have now. Not that quantity is more important than quality, but I'm having a harder time with the quality these days too. I'm generally happy with most of the recent posts but I'm struggling more to come up with creative ideas for posts and more importantly, to find the time to actually execute those ideas. Most of our meals lately are repeats of things that have already been posted here. I do have a number of ideas rattling around my brain and I hope to eventually find the time for them. Maybe as I do I'll save them and get back to posting once I have some things in the can.

At any rate, a huge thank you to all our readers for the comments and inspiration these last 3+ years. Keep us in your feed readers or otherwise stay tuned - I hope we'll be back here in the near future. (We're not totally done with blogging either because Darlene is about to start a mommy blog - if you're interested in that, she'll be here.)

Now for the recipe - I had some seitan patties that were seasoned in sort of an Italian sausage style and I was looking for a way to use them. When I went to our local produce market I found some nice broccoli and yellow squash, and also a decent deal on dried porcini mushrooms, so here's what I came up with.

1 c. dried porcini mushrooms
1 c. boiling water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 lb. seitan, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 ts. dried basil
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. red wine
1 medium yellow squash, quartered and sliced
2 c. broccoli florets
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over porcinis, let stand for 15-20 minutes, then drain and dice mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook onion in olive oil over medium heat for a minute or two then add seitan. Cook for several more minutes until seitan and onion are starting to brown a little then add garlic, marjoram and basil and cook another minute. Add tomatoes and wine and cook a couple more minutes, then add squash, broccoli, salt & pepper, plus the mushrooms and their soaking liquid. Bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat and simmer until broccoli and squash are cooked to your liking, 5-10 minutes. Serve with rice or pasta.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Even Easier Curry

A few months ago I posted about this curry recipe I saw on Good Eats. It was quick and easy but nowadays I'm always looking for quicker and easier. Thankfully an Indian market recently opened right next door to my office. It was there I found this chana masala spice mix.

We tried it once with chickpeas and tomatoes per the package instructions, but I also figured it would be good to use with the aforementioned curry recipe. Oh sure, grinding and/or mixing your own spices is really the way to go but that takes time. For this shortcut I minced a couple cloves of garlic and cooked that in oil with a couple teaspoons of the spice mixture for about 30 seconds. Then I added some frozen veggies and a can of chickpeas and cooked until they were heated through. I added soy yogurt at the end and we had our "curry" over brown rice. Quick and delicious!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blueberry-Walnut Scones

It was another morning where I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep, so I went into the kitchen to make something for breakfast. Something different from our usual oatmeal that is. My first thought was to make something fun we haven't tried before but with creativity lacking at 6 a.m. I turned to a tried and true recipe - scones from Vegan with a Vengeance. I jazzed them up a bit by adding blueberries and walnuts, the combination of which I think is quite delicious. So now I'm going to cheat a little (ok, a lot) by essentially just copying Isa's recipe here.

3 c. flour (I used 2 c. white and 1 c. whole wheat pastry)
2 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. canola oil
1 1/4 c. soy milk + 2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 c. frozen blueberries (or fresh if you've got 'em)
3/4 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400° and lightly oil a sheet pan (or 2). Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl then gently mix in the soy milk/vinegar and canola oil. Now fold in the blueberries and walnuts. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto sheet pan, flatten the tops just a bit and sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes until slightly browned on the bottom.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cooking with Beer

I'm not a huge beer drinker but I do like to toss back a cold one now and then. I think it's fun to cook with alcohol too, so when I saw the article on cooking with beer in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times I made it a point to try some of the recipes (4 of the 5 recipes are vegan too - bonus!). Plus this gave me an excuse to pick up a variety pack of local brew. A few days ago I made the Tempeh in Hearty Mushroom-Lager Sauce. It was simple to make and tasted amazing. Basically it's a mix of button and shiitake mushrooms simmered in beer with fried tempeh added at the end. We had it over red quinoa with some nice chard on the side (that I also simmered in beer).

Last night I made the Ale-Braised Cabbage with Leeks, and this was also a winner. Especially with tasty seitan patties on the side. I still have plenty of beer in the fridge so maybe I'll try the black bean chili next.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Food for Baby

Our little one is eating more solids these days and we've been trying to make as much of his food as we can. We occasionally get the pre-packaged stuff but it's not that hard to make food for him ourselves. We buy organic fruits and veggies, fresh where we can but sometimes frozen, and cook them until soft. Then we puree them in a food processor and freeze individual portions in ice cube trays. We store the little cubes in a container in the freezer and then thaw one or two at a time in a ramekin with a bottle warmer (and when I say 'we' I mean the royal 'we' because it's mostly Darlene doing this).

What's been cool for us about doing this is that it's made us appreciate how tasty and beautiful plain unadulturated fruits and veggies can be. What we have on hand at the moment is shown below - apples, cherries, mango, pears, spinach, cauliflower, red lentils, sweet potatoes, carrots and red quinoa.

He's eaten all of these, though with varying degrees of enthusiasm. His favorite fruit is pears and his favorite veggie is sweet potatoes.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Vegan and Cheesey

Not long ago a wonderful vegan friend gave us a gift certificate to Food Fight Grocery. It's the best gift we've received in a long time, and that includes what we got each other for Christmas. We got some yummy snacks (Tings are so addictive!) but perhaps what we were most excited about was the opportunity to try Sheese, the vegan cheese that everyone's talking (or blogging) about. We opted for the sharp cheddar style and the blue style and we already had in mind an application for each one. In the last post I mentioned that we had the cheddar style on a taco soup, but what we really wanted to do was make tacos. We also got a boxed taco filling mix from Food Fight so this was a super-easy weeknight meal. We toasted blue corn taco shells and added the taco filling along with salsa, shredded lettuce and shredded Sheese.

It's been a long time since either of us has had cheese but this stuff really reminded us of the dairy-based stuff (but without the cruelty). It shreds well and tastes great - in fact I'd go so far as to say it's hands down the best vegan cheese I've had.

Another obvious application is pizza. We weren't sure about how tasty the mozzarella style would be so we went the very non-traditional route. Neither of us were vegan in college and we both have had our fair share of Buffalo chicken wings in the past, especially since Darlene grew up in Western New York. Wings are frequently served with blue cheese dressing and we were seeking to create a similar flavor profile using the blue style Sheese. The sauce for our pizza was a mix of equal parts hot sauce and melted Earth Balance margarine. On top of that was some chicken-style seitan; more hot sauce went on top of that, and our pie was topped with the shredded Sheese. It didn't melt all that well but that didn't bother us because this was one awesome pizza! I had some dough and a little of the sauce left so I also made bread sticks topped with the sauce. Quite the fun and tasty meal!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Week of Soup

I have to start by giving credit where it's due because this was Darlene's idea. She thought the week of breakfast was fun and since it's winter it might also be fun to try a new soup recipe every night for a week. This started after she made a variation of the Pho recipe from Quick Fix Vegetarian. This recipe is itself a variation on a Vietnamese beef noodle soup, using seitan instead of beef. We didn't have seitan so she made a quick seitan batter (wheat gluten and water), then tore off little pieces and cooked them with the soup. She also added a can of coconut milk, which isn't authentic but sure was good.

The next night our fridge was looking sparse but we did have canned chickpeas so I made this chickpea soup recipe I found in a back issue of Vegetarian Times. It was fairly light, like more of a first course, but we had it with a salad and bread and it made an OK dinner. Here it's garnished with chopped parsley and chili oil.

We started next on a trio from Veganomicon. First up was the Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Soup. Only we couldn't find eggplant so we went with sweet potatoes instead. I know, sweet potatoes are quite different from eggplant but they really worked well with this peanut butter and tomato based soup.

Next it was a quick minestrone from Quick Fix Vegetarian. Honestly I've had better minestrone but this was thrown together quickly with canned tomatoes and chickpeas and frozen vegetables and it made for an easy weeknight meal.

Then it was back to Veganomicon for the Baked Potato and Greens Soup with Potato-Wedge Croutons. We baked the potatoes ahead of time so the soup came together fairly quickly, but it definitely took me longer than the 30 minutes suggested in the book. But I admit to being a rather slow cook. At any rate, it was worth it as this was an awesome potato soup with kale and earthy spices (I never would've thought to put fennel in potato soup). And the cornmeal-breaded and fried potato wedge on top was the perfect accompaniment.

The last in our V-con trio was the Ancho-Lentil Soup with Grilled Pineapple. I never would've thought to put pineapple in lentil soup either but it worked well. This was another weeknight meal so we simplified it considerably by skipping on the homemade ancho chile powder and just using store-bought chile powder. I'm sure it's much better with homemade but this was the quick version. It would also be better with fresh grilled pineapple but in our quick version we used canned pineapple that we sautéed in a little Earth Balance.

Last but certainly not least was the Taco Soup from Nava Atlas' Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons. This is a newly released re-issue of her excellent book Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons. This particular recipe is not much different from a chili. It was excellent on its own, but was made even more so by the addition of some righteous vegan cheese. And that's a story for another post.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I'm finally getting around to posting about last weekend's brunch. When our baby was born, a number of friends from work brought dinners over for us. And nine months later we finally got around to returning the favor and feeding them. Here was the menu:
  • Praline Baked French Toast
  • Herb Roasted Potatoes
  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Tofu Scramble Caribbean Style
  • Seitan Breakfast Patties
  • Cranberry Crumb Muffins
  • Vanilla Scones / Chocolate Chip Scones
The French toast is a veganized Food Network recipe that we've posted about before and it definitely seemed to be a crowd favorite. The potatoes were Yukon golds roasted with olive oil, rosemary, salt & pepper, and the asparagus was roasted almost the same, sans rosemary.

My Sweet Vegan and Vegan with a Vengeance were the source for the muffin and scone recipes, respectively. And if you don't have either of these books, rush out to your nearest bookstore (or to Amazon) and buy them now. Go! For the scones I used the basic scone recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance, added the insides of a vanilla bean and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, then I divided the batter in half and added chocolate chips to one half.

I've posted about my seitan patties a number of times before and I'm always futzing with the recipe but I think I've settled on a definitive (for now) recipe for the breakfast-style patties:

3/4 c. + 2 Tbs. wheat gluten
1/4 c. chickpea flour
3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 c. white beans (cooked or from a can)
3/4 c. water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. soy sauce

In a large bowl, mix together wheat 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 very well then divide into 8 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" patty and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, flip patties then bake another 10 minutes. You could serve them straight from the oven but to bring them up to another level fry them in a little Earth Balance margarine for a couple minutes on each side first.

That brings me to the tofu scramble. In all the time I've been writing this blog I've never posted my tofu scramble recipe. That's in part because there are a bazillion tofu scramble recipes already on-line. And I think it's like what I've heard said about curry powder - that there are as many recipes for curry powder as there are cooks in India. I think there are also as many tofu scramble recipes as there are vegan cooks. All that said, here's how I like to do my tofu scramble and also how I changed it up for this brunch.

Basic Tofu Scramble

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 c. diced onion (1 small or half a large onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. turmeric
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 lb. firm or extra firm tofu, drained and pressed (or at least patted dry)
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbs. nutritional yeast

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until it starts getting soft, then add garlic, paprika, turmeric, salt & pepper and cook another minute or so. Add lemon juice and stir quickly then crumble tofu into the pan and stir well to coat with all the seasonings (it doesn't have to be finely crumbled - a few larger chunks are OK). Continue cooking and stirring occasionally for 6-8 minutes, then mix in nutritional yeast. Cook for another minute or two then remove from heat.

For Caribbean style replace the lemon juice with lime juice and add to the spices:
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. allspice

Then towards the end, stir in the following:
3 Tbs. diced mango
3 Tbs. diced papaya (or more mango)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large carrot, shredded
2-3 Tbs. chopped cilantro

Not the best picture but here's how it looked for brunch.