Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Suuuper crispy!


Chili Topped Sweet Potatoes based off of this recipe.

Oh, aghlaghlaghl...
this is a favorite recipe in our family!! When I see those sweet potatoes at the store I am so excited I just snap them up!

4 large sweet potatoes, washed well (do not dry!- you'll see why)
2 T oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can black beans, undrained
1 C your favorite salsa (I used some apple salsa!)
1 t cumin
salt to taste

Wash and do not dry the sweet potatoes, placing them in a 6 qt slow cooker on low for 4 - 6 hours (honestly, once you try this you will never make them any other way- they are so tender and good).
Or wash and pierce them and place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 60 - 75m.
Or nuke 'em (pierce first!) 6-8m.

In a medium saucepan, saute the onion, then the garlic. Add the beans, salsa and cumin. Simmer for 10m, taste and adjust for seasoning. Serve over split open sweet potatoes.

Tortilla chips

Well, I had some corn tortillas left from when I made that bean and potato skillet and I thought, hmmm, I wonder... so I googled it and found a recipe and there you have it! Gosh was it fun to make my own chips! And they were good! Suuuper crispy. Just right to go with this dish.

*What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Still reading "Reading Like A Writer" still so good. Man, I'm going to have a lot of new books to read once I'm done with this one. Here's an interesting interview with the author.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Better Soup With Mine Friends Than A Banquet With Mine Enemy

So we had some friends in from out of town and I thought I'd turn out some aebleskiver. Actually, D. did most of the turning- thanks D.! Mmmm so good! If you ever have the chance to pick up one of these pans, do so!

Then, what was it, Saturday night? I tried this recipe for Skillet Black Beans with Potatoes and Tortillas. It was hearty, if not pretty, and hot and filling and good.

And finally, Sunday night we had this soup, based off of this recipe for Middle Eastern Lentil Paprika Soup. It was mmm-mmmmm good.

1 C brown lentils
1/2 C garbanzo beans
2 T canola oil
1-2 shallots, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped and packed tightly
1/4 C ketchup
2 T HP sauce
2 T vegetable broth powder
1 T paprika*
2 t salt
1 t curry paste (I use Patak's, be sure to cook it oh my!)
8 C water

Saute shallot and garlic, add paprika and cook for a few minutes, then add lentils and everything else (water last) and bring to a simmer. Simmer 30m or until the lentils are tender.

Yum. Perhaps it was the great company, but I was so pleased with how this turned out!! Hooray for lentil soup!

*did you know that you must heat paprika in order for it to release it's flavor? Wow.

Reading "Reading Like A Writer: A Guide For People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want To Write Them" - another really good book!! A wealth of information not limited to !words! !sentences! and !paragraphs!. She gives great examples of how authors use these and more to make great stories. Super enthralling. And enriching.

Hope all is well with you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Even Better


Delicata Casserole

1/2 16 oz box pasta
2 delicata squash, cut up into 1/2" pieces
1 C pumpkin from in a can
1 C raw cashews
1 clove garlic
1 C soymilk
1 C water
1 t salt
pinch nutmeg
20 Ritz crackers

Start your water for the pasta.
Oil a 9 x 13" casserole.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a blender, blend the cashews, pumpkin, garlic, soymilk, water, salt and nutmeg.
Chop up your squash and when the pasta is done, mix everything together in a big bowl. Pour it into the casserole and bake for an hour at 400 degrees.
Top with Ritz crushed in a bag or whizzed in a food processor and brown under broiler for 10m or until brown.

I thought this was great, the sauce complemented the sweetness of the delicata nicely. I think it would be good for sweet potatoes as well. I'm going to try that next time.

*What We Had For Dinner Last Night

And, to use up the rest of the pumpkin, I made Vegan With A Vengeance's The Best Pumpkin Muffins. Mmmm good. Not exactly healthful, but deeeelicious. I recommend. Added 1/2 C chocolate chips. Even better.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Justify My Soup

What We Had For Dinner The Other Night

Garbanzo Paprikash and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I used this recipe for the garbanzos and left off the dumplings and added another can of garbanzos, drained. Isn't it odd what recipes we latch onto? For some reason this recipe has become one of our favorites (maybe it's all the ketchup and sugar, eh?).

I decided to swank it up with some fancy paprika (see pic above). Don't you just love that packaging?!? "Pride of Szeged" it states so proudly. Also "Exquisite 100% Sweet Delicacy". And of course the border with the hearts and flowers.

So, did it live up to the hype? Well, maybe I've just been boondoggled by my own desire, but I thought it tasted better. Really, the sauce turned out a darker browner red than the other paprika I've used before, so there was at least some difference.

Okay, so back to the food. I served the Garbanzos Paprikash over my bread. Which turned out so nicely, by the way, but which of course I can never replicate because I just used the last of my all purpose flour, then what vital wheat gluten was left in the bag, then some brown rice flour I had and some Giusto's white pastry flour (which I had originally gotten to make some baguette). Jeepers, bread baking can be mysterious but thankfully also forgiving. I mean, you're not even supposed to use pastry flour for bread, really!!!

Finally, the brussels sprouts. Well, I was inspired by these, but didn't want to do 4 T of Earth Balance, so I just tossed the brussels sprouts with some olive oil, salt, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and maybe a fourth of a teaspoon of garlic powder. Yum! Baked in the oven at 350 for 30m and boom! Straight into my mouth.

What We Had For Dinner Last Night (WWHFDLN)

Crock A Leekie soup! I was inspired by Heathen Vegan's Mock a Leekie soup.
I tossed maybe 4 or 5 leeks, 6 potatoes, 2 T oil and 4 C of water along with some salt and pepper into the crockpot. Then I cooked it on high for 4-5 hours. Then I remembered I still had some of my potato soup from before and dumped that in and blended it some and then cooked it uncovered for the last few hours to thicken it up. All very fly by the seat of your pants, but I do hope it just inspires you to chuck a bunch of veggies into the crockpot and cook 'em up!

Again with the bread. Mentally, I can justify serving any kind of soup as long as there's homemade bread alongside it.

Reading "Writing Down The Bones" (can you sense a theme here). It's not as good as "Take Joy"- much less no nonsense and much more woo woo therapy primal scream type of thing. I'm not really into 'just write whatever comes into your head first thoughts', but I guess if I got stuck I could do that. But there are some good ideas in there and as long as I don't get sucked into thinking that I have to do it her way, I am fine with most of what this author says. I apprecieate all her advice about not listening to that inner critic voice. So much of life is like that, isn't it? Just doing what has to be done instead of listening to that voice.

That's about it, folks.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Feeling V. Virtuous

What We Had For Dinner The Other Night

Potato-Green Pea Samosa Filling

I skipped the lemon, used cumin instead of cumin seeds and no cayenne pepper powder. Yum! Served over rice as you can see.

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Easy Yummy Lasagna Recipe

I need to work on perfecting my lasagna. I used uncooked noodles and they came out crispy/crunchy and rubbery- both at the same time!! Maybe next time I will just boil the lasagna noodles first. Sometimes you just can't cut corners.

I was pleased with the tofu basil sauce (much like Tofu Basil Ricotta except with soft silken tofu) and would definitely use it again in a lasagna. I know that my husband and daughter did not love the eggplant and spinach, though. Maybe zucchini and tomatoes or some other vegetable I'm not thinking of right now.
And last but not least, Chocolate Pudding In a Mug.

Oh bliss!

Last night I was just craving some chocolate and wishing I had some kind of ice cream bar, but alas, there was nothing to be had. So I hopped online, remembering something about chocolate cake in a mug... Well, I didn't find a recipe for cake, but I did find something chocolatey and good!! This recipe came through for me! Thanks, internet!

I especially appreciated the ease of making it, the not high calorie content (Holy heart attack, have you seen this recipe?!?) and the specific instructions about how to make it. Oh, the only thing I added was a pinch of salt and I upped the vanilla to 1/2 t.

1 T cornstarch
2 T cocoa powder
2 T sugar
3/4 C soymilk
1/2 t vanilla
pinch salt

Combine all ingredients except soymilk and vanilla in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup. Use a fork to make sure there are no lumps (you could also sift the ingredients together if you were feeling really anal). Slowly add the milk and then the vanilla- add just a little and mix, then a little more and so on.

Nuke for 1m. Stir. Nuke for 33 seconds, stopping when it starts to rise to the tippy top of the cup. Stir. Do this in 15s increments (or however long it takes to boil up again) until it's 'boiled' for approximately one minute.

Eat. Do not burn mouth. Yum.

Finished "Take Joy" by Jane Yolen, a really excellent book. Very encouraging and smart.

Bailing on "The Children of God" because it's dragging and I find it sort of voyeristic. Now that I sort of understand why what happened in the first book happened, I've lost interest. Boo.
All I have left are boring books, I think. Must go look through pile.

Started another Short Row Scarf with some crazy acrylic. Need to go up in needle size. Frustrated that I can't find my favorite size 10 1/2 circular needles. Stalled.

Started Flylady- go ahead, laugh! Go ahead! Anyway, don't have much clutter, but patiently submitting to the slow ramping up while waiting for more info on cleaning. Have polished my sink. Did "Swish and a Swipe" of bathroom this morning. Feeling v. virtuous.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Even Better Than The Real Thing

What We Didn't Have For Dinner Last Night

Banana Bread!

Yup! Followed the recipe as written. Didn't reduce the sugar, nor the Earth Balance Margarine. Nope. And boy is it good. We'll see if we can even get my banana-hating husband to try a piece. I think it's that good!

I was inspired when I was cataloging my freezer contents to make banana bread. I found 3 frozen bananas in there (frozen for smoothie making).

Oh, and the homemade ice cream made with Hazelnut Soy Creamer was based off of "How It All Vegan"'s recipe. I think it's even better than store bought.

2/3 of a box soft silken tofu
1 container Silk Hazelnut creamer (btw, do not look at the nutritional info ha ha)
dash salt

Blend/food process.
Pour into shallow container and freeze until solid.
Thaw (this takes about half an hour), spoon into blender/food processor and process 'til smooth.
Freeze again.
Remove from freezer 5m before serving.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Elbows Speak For Themselves

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Elbows with Golden Cheaze Sauce and
Kale sauteed with garlic, garlic granules, salt and a leetle Dijon mustard.

I have made a vow to myself to always make the kale the same day we get it from our CSA (it was our last week this week! so sad!) and so here we have the sauteed kale.

The Elbows speak for themselves.

Well, I've been tagged! For the Love of Guava has tagged me with "What's In Your Vegan Freezer?". So here goes...

What’s in your (vegan) Freezer? Started by Billy.:

  • Take a picture of the items in your freezer
  • Post the picture to your blog and give a summary of the items
  • Tag 5 vegan bloggers.
Here we can see on the top shelf, left to right;
in the middle on top,
some buns,
below that, some tomatoes I froze from our plethora of tomatoes this year,
a box of strawberry ice bars,
my apple butter and
behind that some frozen blueberries for future blueberry muffin making.
On the bottom shelf;
half a bag of broccoli,
an Amy's burrito,
below that some frozen Morning Glory bread (in the foil),
to the right of that some adzuki beans in the Ziploc container with the blue lid and
beneath that some ice cream I made with Hazelnut Soy Creamer I got when it was on sale- yum yum!
Then in the Ziploc are some rice/carrot/cashew/cilantro patties I made,
behind that you can barely see some edamame peeking out and next to that some frozen green beans also from our CSA and finally
to the right some mystery stew I froze perched on top of some freezies for my daughter.
Hidden out of sight is half a bag of frozen peas- I aim for full disclosure (grin).

And here we have the other part of my freezer, do I get extra credit for this?!?
Up top is a bunch of frozen fruit we got when we were on a smoothie making kick oh and also some coffee...
and below left to right are some frozen not-meat balls,
then some small containers of basil pureed with oil for future Winter pesto making,
then some breadcrumbs hiding behind a box of frozen spinach,
then more coffee and finally on the very right some flax meal. Yum yum.

So, I tag

Addicted to Olives

Vegan Appetite
Legally Vegan
Pamela Cooks!
Your Vegan Mom

Reading "Take Joy" by Jane Yolen, very good nonfiction about writing.

Oh, and also I got a ZZ plant yesterday, so excited!! I've been wanting one for a long time and was even coveting a neighbors plant (asked for a cutting but never got one and didn't want to obsessively pester her about it). Of course, I ambitiously polished some of it's leaves with leaf polish and then read the above post to find you are NEVER to do that! Sigh. Please don't die, lovely ZZ plant.

Also got a huge spider plant and repotted it (the bottom was a MASS of white roots, no dirt to be seen anywhere). Gosh it makes me happy to play with my plants. Had a little one I was trying to patiently satisfy myself with, and it's not dead, but I just had to get this one especially as it was 50% off.

That is all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spicy Chickpea Stew

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Spicy Chickpea Stew

Well, I made bread yesterday, think I came up with 'my' recipe that I'll use from now on (of course I'll tweak it some, can't leave well enough alone) and I was trying to think of something I could make with chickpeas (my fallback when I can't think of anything else for supper, plus I was craving them). Something soupy that I could use the bread to sop up...

So I Googled chickpea sauce and was inspired with cumin and coriander and came up with this stew... it would be good without the TVP, I just put that in there because the ancho chile turned out to be too spicy for our tastes (wimps!) and to make it bigger. If you leave out the TVP, use less salt and leave out the cup of water.

2 C boiling water in which you dump

1 T olive oil
1 T Earth Balance margarine
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 t salt
2 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 ancho chile or ancho chile powder to taste
1 can garbanzo beans, undrained
1 C water
1/2 22oz bag frozen broccoli
2 T chickpea flour mixed with 2 T water

In a large pot over high heat, saute the shallots, then garlic in the Earth Balance and oil. Add the spices, the ancho chile and salt and mix well, stirring constantly for a few minutes. Dump in the garbanzo beans and cover and simmer on low for a few minutes.
Remove as much of the liquid as you can to a blender (or use an immersion blender), add the 1 C water and blend. Return to the pot and stir in the chickpea flour. Simmer until thick. Add the broccoli and TVP to the pot and mix well. Cover and cook until the broccoli isn't frozen, stirring every once in a while to make sure the TVP isn't sticking.

This would be yummy over rice!

My Bread

4 heaping cups flour
1/4 C vital wheat gluten
1 heaping T sugar
1 scant T salt
1 scant T yeast
2 T Earth Balance margarine
2 C hot water

Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans.
Mix one heaping cup flour with vital wheat gluten, sugar, salt and yeast.
Add butter, then water and beat on high 'till smooth.
Add 3 heaping cups flour, switch to hook and knead 3m.
Take out dough, oil bowl, return dough to bowl and flip over so the top is oiled and cover with a wet tea towel.
Turn off oven and place bowl with dough inside. Let rise 45m, plus or minus 20m (check on it after 25m).
If dough has doubled and a finger stuck in leaves an indent, take the dough out, cut it in half, knead each a little and cover with the wet towel on your counter while you preheat the oven to 170 again.
Roll out each half into a 12 x 9" rectangle, roll up, tuck ends under and place in loaf pan.
Cover with wet towel, turn off oven and let rise in oven 45m.
REMOVE WET TOWEL, leaving bread in the oven and bake at 400 degrees 40m or until well browned. Cool one hour.
This made a nice, dense loaf that slices easily without breaking and tastes good.

Ahhh, and here is the apple butter!! Whee, I was so excited to eat this yesterday, wow.
As it was cooking down last night there on the counter, my husband and I got to wondering what is the difference between apple butter and apple sauce? And all we could come up with is that apple butter is smoother, thicker and spicier than apple sauce. Well, whatever the case may be, it sure turned out goo-oood!

So I have a 6 qt cooker (recipe calls for 5) and I used only 3 cups of sugar instead of the 4. Otherwise I just followed the recipe.

We used the wild apples from Port Wing and as you saw a few posts ago, the flesh of the apples was pinkish. Perhaps the correct term would be blush. Is there an official apple grower term for this? I'm sure there is (and it's not blush). So anyway, the apple butter turned out red! How gorgeous. It's sweet and tart and perfect. I think that this will become a Fall tradition. It was worth the time it took and now I've got a big batch frozen in the freezer for the depths of Winter.

P.S. I cannot take credit for this idea entirely, when we were up there, my friend M. mentioned a slow cooker apple butter recipe she found and I was just too impatient to email and get it so I just Googled it (again with the Google). So thanks, M., for the inspiration!

Hey, I did some actual knitting and discovered that my pattern biases. So I think I'll try knitting it Ostrich Plumes stylee and offset the design to ?mitigate? the biasing action. Or something. I tire of this pattern.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sometimes Simple Is Best

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Potato Soup and some broccoli you can't see in this picture

I kinda followed this recipe, did what a lot of the commenters did and roasted the garlic with the potatoes. The garlic roasted quicker than the potatoes, so I took it out sooner.

Also, when I blended up the potatoes, I really had to keep stopping and scraping so that it would all blend- it got really thick, like mashed potatoes! That's because I didn't follow the directions and do the blending in half batches. Also, I added LOTS of water. Man oh man. Next time I'd leave it a little thicker, but still it was a lot of water. Sorry I lost count, I just kept pouring it in.

8 mediumish potatoes
6 C water (at least)
3 big cloves garlic
2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
2 T olive oil
2 T Earth Balance margarine

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Oil a couple of baking sheets.
Peel and chop your potatoes.
Peel your garlic.
Place potatoes and garlic on baking sheets and toss with a little oil to cover.
Bake 20m, remove garlic, bake potatoes 10m more until brown.
Put garlic and potatoes into a large soup pot and add water.
Boil 20m.
Remove in half batches to blender, blend, adding water as necessary.
Return to pot, add oil and Earth Balance and season to taste.
Heat through and serve.

All in all, for something so simple, I thought it was good. I was tempted to add stuff to it (onion powder, Bac Uns, onion soup mix) and I'm glad I didn't. Sometimes simple is best.

Started reading "Children of God" by Mary Doria Russell. This is the follow up to "The Sparrow" so it's interesting in that I'm interested in the characters already. So far so good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Curse you agar agar!!!

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Well, I got a cookbook this weekend at this art gallery (cookbooks!, pottery! yarn! whee!). I got Vive le Vegan! by Dreena Burton. I've heard good things about this book, mainly that the recipes are pretty quick and easy and that appeals to me!

So I tried the Broccoli-Mushroom-Walnut Phyllo Pie! And it was quick and good!
I didn't have any onion (boo) so I used garlic, D. hates mushrooms, so I skipped that step, oh, I made the pasta version, no vinegar and I guess that's about it! D. said he usually likes his broccoli just by itself, not pureed into a sauce, so maybe next time I might try this as a sauce over the pasta and broccoli.

Next time, boil the pasta water, and just before it's done, toss in the broccoli to cook!
Toast the walnuts in the bottom of the pot before sauteing the onion!

On to the weekend! Whee! It was apple picking weekend, a weekend each fall when a group of us get together and go up to Port Wing, WI to pick apples (wild apples! just there on the tree!) on our friends C. and D.s land!! Man, Port Wing is like a hidden treasure, I tell you! Right on Lake Superior and so much beauty! We stayed at the Stone Haus again this year and really enjoyed it!

Check out that view!!
And here are the apples. I spent a significant amount of time yesterday (read: hours) coring, peeling and cutting up all the apples into slices to go into my crockpot to make apple butter.
I'm trying out this recipe, using only 3 C sugar (we'll see). I plan on freezing most of it so we can enjoy the fruits (ha!) of our labor this winter. I kinda wish I could come up with some more awesome way to use these, but I'm always a procrastinator when it comes to apples and it just never seems to get done, so it was good to just plow through them all yesterday and git 'er done! I feel very happy that none will go to waste!

And I also have to share what I got here!

It's done by Melis Pottery and I think it's just perfect!

Oh, and for Veganmofo, I want to say that I now have the ability to recognize spices by sight. Unlabeled.

Vegans use lots of spices (vast generalization).

So anyway- I buy my spices at my coop, and they come in little clear bags (man, that bulk section used to intimidate me!) and I have all these little bags crammed into a big Ziploc. So today when I loaded up my crockpot, I grabbed for a brown bag of spice and !bingo! it was cinnamon! Woo!

Of course, there's always the agar agar. Curse you agar agar! How you mock me!! I shove you down to the bottom of the bag and there you malinger, waiting for me to grab you when I'm trying to find the onion powder...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Stuff Stuffed Delicata Squash

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Well, this one was a bit of an adventure, but one that turned out well, I think...

First off, I was going to use our acorn squash we got from our CSA, and so I looked up a few recipes, but then I couldn't cut the squash open!!! Can you believe it?!? Oh, man, I felt like such a dork (my husband will smile slightly in a vindicated way because he's always saying how we need to have our knives sharpened). But anyway, then I remembered the delicata squash we had and decided to use those instead.

And then I decided that my just-having-worked-out husband might need just a leeeetle bit more substance in his stuffing (no offense meant, apples), so I thought and thought what else I could add and here's what I came up with!

I haven't really stuffed many squash, but it was really easy and a great way to make a meal!

Stuff Stuffed Delicata Squash

3 small delicata squash*
1/2 C adzuki beans
1/4 C TVP
1/4 C golden raisins
1/2 apple, sliced thin and chopped
1 T almond butter
3 T maple syrup
2 T oil
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt

Boil 1/2 C water, pour in the TVP and let sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and oil a baking sheet.
Slice your delicata lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
Place delicata cut side down onto the sheet and bake 20m.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the almond butter, maple syrup, oil, cinnamon and salt. Gently stir in adzuki beans, raisins and apples. Pour in TVP, do not drain, and mix well.
When squash are ready, flip them up, and place 1-2 T of stuffing in each. Return to oven and bake until bubbling and tender (approx 15m).

*did you know you can eat the skin? Coooool.

And I have to say, you can't really see it in the picture above, but we got some kickin' spinach yesterday from our CSA! I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be so excited about spinach, but here we are. Soooo goood! I must have an iron deficiency or something...

Sorry no pics of the CSA veg, I just sort of lost steam on that somehow. But we still have a few weeks left! Yesterday we got some beets I can't wait to use! And of course a whole mess of other stuff as well...

No reading lately, have to run to the library today, I'm OUT OF BOOKS, not to mention, getting new books for E. 'cause we going up to Port Wing for Apple Picking Weekend!! So we need books to look at in the van.

Last night I made pitas, like at 9pm, ending at 11pm. And hummus, and I prepped my red lentil curry. I think we should have enough food. We will be staying at this cute little house up there you can rent, we loved it last year, and this year it's so nice to have again because our friend M. is bringing up her 6 week old baby!!! Saturday night will be our big supper together up there, plus we will go to the local cafe for awesome pancakes, go and see the Big Lake and pick wild apples! Not to mention climbing the big maple and maybe visiting a few pottery/jewelry shops. I can't wait.

For veganmofo I got nothin'- see this post for some awesome motivation!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

In A Fresh Way

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Pesto!! I didn't look up measurements, so I used 1/4 C for everything!! 1/4 C olive oil, 1/4 C nutritional yeast, 1/4 C walnuts...

Veganmofo, what can I say for you today? I would like to speak about my perception that the vegan movement today is not rigid and sanctimonious. Everyone does their best and no one is 100% perfect. That is a very risky statement, because it almost seems to invite less than a full adherence to the vegan lifestyle. But, it's a great statement- many, many religions and branches of religions have failed, failed, failed at this (not that I'm saying veganism is a religion, I'm just talking from personal experience about trying to live a perfect lifestlye). The feeling I get from vegans is that of encouragement!!! And I can't say how glad that makes me. Instead of coming down on a person (no one likes to feel like a failure), vegans encourage each other to do their best. They share resources and information. That is great. The end.

Whoah, Terry Pratchett fans! Gee, I checked my analytics and the day after I posted about reading "The Wee Free Men" my numbers spiked!! I think it was 'cause of this site.

I did kind of mis-speak and say that I couldn't get into the Discworld series, but the books I read are actually part of Discworld- a parralell storyline, I believe.

Gosh, I feel like I should say something of more importance... like, um, the main character is a witch, and there's this one spot where they talk about why it's important to take care of the less fortunate and I liked the themes about doing what's right and being a good person. I really liked the cool female protagonist and I can't wait until my girls are old enough to read these. That's high praise. I do love me a fairy tale and it's nice to see someone doing them in a fresh way.

I read these in a little cabin on the shores of Lake Superior, mostly by candlelight, an ideal setting. I think there's another one in this series coming out. Can't wait.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Being Vegan Is the Best

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Adzuki Bean Stew

1 C uncooked adzuki beans, approximately 2.5 C cooked
1 C TVP rehydrated in 2 C boiling water
1 onion, chopped
1 shallot, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red peppers, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 potatoes, quartered and sliced thinly
2 T hot paprika sauce
1 T dill
3 T olive oil
1 t salt
pepper to taste

Boil your water (I nuked my 2 C in a 2 C Pyrex measuring cup for 5m in the microwave) and dump in the TVP. Let this sit while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
Chop your veggies. Drain and squeeze out your TVP (I used a mesh strainer).
Saute the onions, then garlic. Add the TVP, peppers, carrots and paprika paste. Mix well and saute a few minutes. Add your adzuki beans, potatoes, pepper, salt and dill and cover with 4 C water.
Simmer for 30m or until potatoes are done.

This was really good, but I think I used too much dill, or else to our American taste buds dill=pickles. Next time I'll just use a little.
The adzuki beans were quick to cook and the stew turned out great, I was really pleased with how tasty it was without using vegetable broth!

This month is Veganmofo which is Vegan Month of Food. I suppose there are themes and such that I should be doing each day, but I thought I'd just take a moment here to talk about why I think being a vegan is so great!

I know some people might consider veganism limiting, and I can definately understand that, but for me, being vegan works as a nice way to create some parameters within which I can roam freely. Really, when you think about how much food there is out there and the myriad ways to prepare it, it's overwhelming. Being vegan creates boundaries (ethical ones, to boot) within which I can experiement and combine to my hearts content. I think cooks naturally do this (limit themselves) and I can rest more easily as a cook knowing that nothing I eat comes from animals and most of what I eat is truly healthy and good for me!

Of course, part of the creativity of being a cook is to try new things (note the combination of paprika and dill above which I would have never tried before, let alone adzuki beans) and, again, veganism wins, because there are always new things to try even within this so called limiting diet. In fact, I would argue that I try more radical things than I would have otherwise because I am vegan.

Frankly, without being vegan, I would never have tried all the different kinds of lentils, beans, spices and so forth (yes, I'm looking at you, nutritional yeast) that I have. Oh, and vegetables, let's not forget all the veggies! And I would have never tried baking my own bread or cakes, either. I would still be eating Hamburger Helper with Boca crumbles, that's what.

So in conclusion, veganism, I love you!

Monday, October 06, 2008

No Loafing!

Here are a couple of dinners for you...

The first is Loaf, made using The Magical Loaf Studio! I named mine "In All It's Awesome Glory". It was good! No, really, it was actually good! No, for serious, it was good!
I had all this wheat germ, see, from making the granola bars for our camping trip, and so I went to and typed in wheat germ, and one of the results that came up was loaf!
Here is mine...

1/2 C walnuts
2 T canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 carrot, grated
1 C TVP reconstituted in 1 C boiling water
1 C wheat germ
1/4 C tapioca pearls
1 t dried basil, crumbled between your fingers
1 t dried parsley, crumbled between your fingers
1/4 t oregano, crumbled between your fingers
2 T HP sauce/ketchup
1 t salt
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
Boil your cup of water and add TVP, set aside.
In the small bowl of your food processor, process walnuts into meal. Pour into bowl and set aside.
In the small bowl of your food processor, process the onion, garlic and carrot.
In a large pot, saute veg in oil.
Add everything else and mix well.
Pour into loaf pan, press into pan and bake 1 hour.
Let cool 10-15m and turn out and slice into 8.
Approximately 3 points per slice.

Here is a recipe that I got from our CSA, was it ever good! I think this is how I will prepare chard from now on...

African Pineapple Peanut Stew

1 C chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T canola oil
1 bunch Swiss chard/kale, chopped (about 4 C)
1 20 oz can crushed pineapple
1/2 C peanut butter
1 T Tabasco sauce (or to taste)(or whatever you use for 'heat')
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste

Saute onions, then garlic.
Add pineapple, simmer and add chard. Simmer until chard is wilted.
Mix in peanut butter, Tabasco sauce and cilantro.
Simmer for 5 more minutes and serve over rice.
4 points per half cup.

Two potlucks this weekend!! One at the Harvest Festival at the farm and one for our church.
I brought Pineapple Upside Down Cake to the farm and it was good! I used 1/4 C Earth Balance instead of 1/3 C oil and it was fine. I beat the sugar and the margarine together, then added the pineapple juice and vinegar and then the dry ingredients. Oh, and I used rings instead of crushed pineapple.
It was the first time I've used my springform pan and I was so pleased that it worked. A little was leaking into the oven, so I just stuck a baking sheet under it to catch the drips and it was fine. Also, the inside did not get cooked, so when I flipped it out onto the plate, it was all raw, so I stuck it back into the oven and crossed my fingers that the glass plate wouldn't crack and it didn't- phew!
Didn't get a picture of the loveliness, so I guess I'll have to make it again. Definately a keeper.

For our church party, I brought a dish based off of Urban Vegan's Curry Cashew Casserole and it turned out great! I kind of diverged from the recipe a lot, but not really. Well, yes I did. But not in spirit. You decide.

3/4 C cashews
3 small eggplants, chopped
3 red or green peppers, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 can coconut milk
2 T brown sugar
1 T curry powder
1 t salt
1 t onion granules
1 t dried basil, crumbled between your fingers
1/2 t garlic granules

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a 9 x 13" casserole dish.
In a food processor, process your cashews into meal.
Pour into a large bowl and add garbanzo beans, coconut milk, brown sugar, curry powder, salt, onion granules, basil and garlic granules. Mix well. Add eggplant and peppers, mix well.
Pour into casserole and bake 40m covered , 20m uncovered.
Serve over rice, yum!

Enjoying "The Sunrise Lands"- Stirling is a good storyteller- not afraid to pull out all the stops when it comes to plot development.

Friday, October 03, 2008

And this lamp.

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

This was a mix of the CSA broccoli we got, some pasta shells, some garlic and Dragonfly's Bulk Dry Uncheese, oh yeah, and some TVP. Ta da!

I was going to make it with some tomato sauce from all the heirloom tomatoes we got from the CSA, and I blanched the tomatoes and then deseeded them and depulped them and then I had so much liquid I decided to save it. Anyhow, we got some bee-yuu-ti-ful oregano so perhaps I'll make some actual sauce with it ?and freeze it? for the winter...

Reading "The Sunrise Lands" by Stirling, you know, that series that I've started and stopped and started and stopped? I gave up on "The Protector's War" but this one is great so far- he catches you up with what happened with that one, and so I get all the bonuses of having read it, but without having to slog through all the war stuff. So, there's that. I'm enjoying it so far. We're getting closer to figuring out what happened to cause the end of the world. I'm sure it will be some kind of huge Wicca fest at the end.

Sick, bleh.

I want one of these.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Apples Yah Der Hey

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Crockpot Cabbage and Kielbasa

2 savoy cabbage, shredded
2 apples, chopped
6 small Viking purple potatoes
1 t caraway seeds
2 T vegetable broth
1 package Tofurky kielbasa sausage, cut into 1" rounds
1 onion, chopped
2 T brown sugar
1 t apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 C water

Chop your cabbage, apples, potatoes, onion and Tofurky. Put it all into your large crockpot, sprinkle with caraway seeds, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and veggie broth powder, pour in water and cover.
Cook on low for 4 hours, high for the last 2, stirring occasionally.

This was very good! It had a nice spicy sweet tart thing going on...
And, it was not mushy- when I started making this it was to the tippy top of the cooker and I was all like, no way will 1 1/2 C water do it. But I was patient and as the cabbage cooked down and released it's juices it was fine. Even though the potatoes themselves were not covered with water, I think they cooked by being steamed.

I found the idea for apples in a recipe called Milwaukee Kielbasa Supper- how could I resist?!? (I used to live in Milwaukee). The one thing that would have made this better would have been the addition of wine. Mmmm, wine.

I served this up with some of that Easy Vegan Wheat Bread- I halved the recipe due to lack of ww flour existence in my home and it was good! Whee!

Finished "Maps and Legends", first essays were the best. Reading "The Pilot's Wife", another Oprah book club book, oh no! what can I say, I grabbed a title that sounded like I'd heard it before. Anyway, I'm almost done, it's pretty fluffy, like, her description of what it feels like after someone you love has died was pretty ?heavy handed? heavy with the brush? how do I say it? She was obviously REALLY trying to make sure you knew the person was grief stricken. But it's gripping, and it's what I have to read right now. The end.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

No Title Is Forthcoming

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

Dry Fried Tofu with Caramel Sauce and Sweet Peppers
based off of this recipe but also using Vegan YumYum's dry fried tofu technique

1/2 block extra firm tofu, sliced long ways into thirds and then diagonally across these three rectangles to make 6 triangles total
2 shallots, sliced thinly 'across the grain'
1 sweet red pepper, deseeded and sliced thinly into long strips
1/4 C sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t Trader Joe's ginger paste
1 T soy sauce
1 t apple cider vinegar
1/2 C water
1 T cornstarch dissolved in 1 T water

Slice up your tofu, then place it between two tea towels and press it with your cast iron pan.
Start your rice.
Chop up your shallots, mince your garlic, slice your sweet peppers.
Get out your soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, corn starch, sugar amd ginger.
Mix the cornstarch with water, set aside.
Now, on med high heat, in a medium saucepan, dump in the sugar and let it sit. When it starts to melt, start stirring, and don't stop until it's all melted and golden.
Remove from heat, add shallots and return to heat. Cook for one minute. Then add garlic and ginger and sweet peppers and cook for another few minutes.
Add water, soy sauce and vinegar and mix well, scraping down sides as needed.
Simmer for a few minutes, then add the corn starch, mix well, cover and turn to low.
Get your cast iron pan off of the tofu, get it on the stove and get it hot (med high).
Place your tofu on the skillet and lower the heat a little. Cook until golden, about 5m, pressing down with your spatula to get out all the water you can.
Flip and cook the other side for approximately 5m.
Serve your tofu over rice with the peppers and sauce over the top.

This was very good! I halved the recipe and used less vinegar and more sugar. The dry fried tofu was pretty dry- I would marinate this some after frying it, or just go ahead and use a tablespoon or two of oil and actually fry it.

Well, we had a great time up at Lake Superior, always makes me want to live up there!

Read "The Wee Free Men" and "Hat Full of Sky" by Terry Pratchett - very good!! I tried reading the Discworld series at one point, and just could. not. get. into. it... so I was surprised that I liked these so much!!! Whee! I'm a sucker for a good fairy tale.

Also reading "Maps and Legends" by Michael Chabon which is really fun non-fiction, a book about books and writing. I'll have to get ahold of his "Adventures of Kavalier and Clay", I think.