Monday, March 30, 2009

Way Strong!

Hello again!

Well, it has been tres busy here at chez centrepullball... but I am back at last!

I was in a terribly uninspired mood a few days back and decided to make... a casserole! Yes, folks, that Midwestern fave, the casserole!

I thought that if I doubled Esme's sauce and put a little more water in there to help the Minute Rice cook up, I'd have a fine dish. What I forgot to realize was that Esme's sauce is pretty solid as it stands and will cover a vast amount of rice/pasta/whatever so doubling it made it waaaaaay strong! Next time, back down to 2 T of everything!

1 3/4 C Minute Rice (you could up this to 2 C, I just ran out)
1 10 oz pkg frozen vegetables
4 cloves garlic
2 C water
1/4 C tahini
" miso
" soysauce
" olive oil
" nutritional yeast
" mustard

Blend everything except the rice and frozen veggies in a blender until smooth.
Pour over rice and veg in a bowl and mix well.
Pour into a greased 9 x 9" casserole or equivalent and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Here we have a wonderful lunch. I got a great tip from Margaret for smoother hummus! Just whip it up in the blender!! Whee! So I did and it was great! I used the big can of garbanzos I can buy at my coop (equals roughly 2 cans regular size) and added about 1/2 C of the 'juice' from the can plus the olive oil. Then, when that (plus the cloves of garlic, cumin and a tiny pinch of citric acid) were all blended, I added the tahini and it was all done! Smooooth!

I also decided that I wanted some flatbread to go along with it, something quick, and I found just such a thing in this recipe! Also, fried! I fried them for one minute on one side, then 2 on the other. Aghlaghlahgllll....

And so we had flatbread for supper to go with our Lentils with Bulgur Wheat and Caramelized Onions. This time when I made it, I made the lentils first, got the bulgur in there and then, while that was 'cooking' I caramelized the onions and then added the spices. Then I just mixed all the onions into the bulgur/lentil mix. It just keeps getting easier and easier and I can't say it makes a jot of difference as to the taste!

So I started reading "The Name of the Wind". Yay! It's good! No, for reals! If you like fantasy books with maps in the front of the book, you will like this, ah gah-rahn-tee!! I will cry when it is done and anxiously await the next book. Hooray for Wisconsin peeps!

Also I picked up the next book in that series I am sort of skipping along through, the Corvallis post apocolyptic what have you. We'll see how far I can make it through this one! "Scourge of God" or somesuch. I ?don't think? I've read it yet...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rise up, pretzel!

Continuing the 'Tour of Dough Winter 2009" here we have pretzels which turned out to be more like 'knots'. Because I was too lazy to Google "How to Make the Pretzel Shape.", I just sort of winged it. Did not matter. They turned out so nicely! Perhaps on my next go. Served with some 'cheezy soup', (sorry no recipe).

I would not try making these pretzels without a nice, strong mixer, though. They dough is pretty stiff...

Just like the bagels, you boil these puppies, but, unlike the bagels, you don't have a specific amount of time that you boil them for- you just slide them in, they sink, and then you wait for them to rise up!! It's like magic, people! Oh, also adding the baking powder to the water is fun, too! It fizzes and bubbles like crazy. I am easily entertained, I guess!

Ooohh! And I got to use my new scale to divide the dough out so I'd have matchy pretzels instead of a hodge podge! Verrrrry nice!

Because the dough is sort of dry I had a hard time at first making the 'snakes' but I channeled my inner child and took myself back to my old PlayDoh days and it was fine. It also helped to take a break and lightly oil the baking sheets and preheat the oven while the dough rested under a damp tea towel. When I tried again the second time it was fine!

Soft Pretzels

I veganized the recipe by subbing Earth Balance for the butter and Silk vanilla soymilk for the milk. Also, I just baked these without any added salt and of course without the egg wash. They were still momentous.

I let them rise for an hour in a oven heated to 170 degrees, turned off, with a damp teatowel over the top of the bowl. Oh, and I didn't really let them rise a second time in their pretzel-shaped form.

Still reading "The Pacific" and started some non-fiction.

Monday, March 23, 2009

No knittin', no readin'.


We got this recipe from a co-worker of my husbands (I did veganize the butter and milk), so we'll call it 'Lowell's Bran Muffins'.

2 C bran flakes
2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 C Earth Balance
1/4 C molasses
1/4 t salt
1 3/4 C soymilk

Mix it all up, pour into greased muffin tin and bake at 350 for 25m.

Next time I may experiment with either
a) using 1 1/2 C milk and 1/2 C molasses or
b) adding 1/4 C sugar.

They were good, but I like my muffins sweeter.

This recipe can be doubled.

My washerwoman's sprain has not gotten any better so on Friday I got a cortico-steroid shot in the 'ol wrist. Almost passed out afterward. Fun. The doctor said that ?this is a common reaction?

So no knitting, I am bereft. It's like this whole knitter's high from finishing my first sweater is going nowhere!! I had even started another sweater, but of course now I have stopped because I do not want to exacerbate things.

No reading, well, actually, some- rereading "The Pacific" by Mark Helprin. That's some good writin'. Nice short stories, mmmmm.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Browning Sauce and Liquid Smoke.

Hello! Well, here are a few dinners for you...
It has been a long tail end of winter here but we have been gloriously rewarded with some nice days, such a respite! I seriously cannot wait for Farmer's Market weather to begin once again! Begone canned/frozen goods!

Above is a pretty basic dish, but the TVP I made turned out pretty well and I like to think it would make a good Boca burger crumbles replacement. I usually boil up 2 C water in my Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave (takes about 5m) and then just dump in 1/2 C of TVP and let it set while I fry up some onions. Then I drain it in my trusty mesh drainer and dump it into the pan with the onions. Add some browning sauce, a few drops of liquid smoke, some paprika, pepper and cayenne and voila! Boca like substance. Oh yeah, and some salt.

I dumped some 'cheez' sauce atop that over pasta and dinner is born.

TVP ala Boca

1/2 C TVP reconstituted in boiling water
1 T oil
1/2 onion, chopped
dashes pepper, paprika, cayenne, browning sauce and liquid smoke
salt to taste

Cheez sauce

1 can pinto beans
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C pimento pieces or red pepper
1 t onion powder
pinch citric acid/1 t lemon juice/1/2 t prepared mustard
1/2 t salt

Blend. Heat. Serve.

And this, the piece de la resistance (um, I don't think I got that right)!

"Chicken" nuggets

firm tofu- I've been really liking the westsoy we find at our coop
shake and bake (see below)
egg replacer

Shake and bake

1 C flour
1 C cracker crumbs/bread crumbs
1 1/2 t sugar
1 T salt
1 t poultry seasoning
1 t Italian seasoning or your herb of choice (rosemary, sage, oregano etc.)
1 T oil
1 heaping t of chick'n powder

Whizz it all up in your food processor and pour it into a bowl. You can keep what's left in the refrigerator for another time.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and oil a couple of baking pans.

Cut up your tofu into 1" pieces. I cut mine longways into thirds, short ways into 1/4ths and then cut those pieces in half.

Mix your egg replacer with a little water until it's thick and drippy.
Dredge your tofu in this, then put it in the bowl with the shake and bake and get it all covered in that shake and bake goodness.

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15m, flip and bake 5m more.

So. seriously. good.

Good gravy!

2 C water
1/2 C flour
1 T chick'n powder
2 t nutritional yeast
1 t salt
1 T Earth Balance
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t dijon mustard
1/2 t balsamic vinegar
1/4 t garlic powder
pinch sage
dash browning sauce
drops liquid smoke

Blend it all up in blender, pour into pot and heat on the stove until thick. Boom. Gravy.

So I see here I have been on a browning sauce and liquid smoke kick. Crazy.

No reading- been knitting. No, really. Knitting is back, with a vengeance. They should make a movie.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Hokay, lets start at the top, shall we?

Here is Arroz non Pollo from "Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker" which is a very good cookbook, btw.

It was a good thing for me to try because it did things I would never do and it uses saffron, which I have but never know how to use! Okay, on the 'did things I would never do' front- well, let's just say it's busy. I mean, green olives, green beans, peas and chickpeas I would never put together in one dish. And to top it all off, some salsa in there too! But it was really good and simple and hearty. Win.

Wheat Berry Stew. This one turned out kinda weird. I was all excited to use my wheat berries, and I had some dried cannellini beans I used as well, so win there, but really, it was just odd. I added some stuff.

1 jar marinara sauce
1 jar's worth of water
1 1/2 C dried cannellini beans
1 C wheat berries
6 small potatoes, cubed
1/4 C nutritional yeast (just 'cuz)
1 T olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T cumin
2 T soy sauce
1 T brown sugar
1 t onion powder (I was out of onions)
1 t turmeric
1 t paprika (a desperate bid to make it taste better)
1 t salt
dash pepper

The original instructions say to mix together and cook on high 8 - 10 hours. Mine was done sooner and took a LOT more water.

Cupcakes! Using vegweb's super moist chocolate cake recipe, which is my 'go to' recipe for cake. Hard to get out of the muffin tin, but oooh, so worth it! Plus simple chocolate espresso frosting. I just used fine ground coffee and some cocoa our friends brought back from the carribean. Wow.

Manwich using Boca crumbles. Used "Manwich BOLD" it was so exciting. Perhaps a bit more tomatoey. I could not fathom what made them bolder really.

Gnocci from Target. Made a cheez sauce using the cashew butter I got at the coop on sale. Your basic cheez sauce; cashew butter, nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powder, water, salt. I added a bit of citric acid and that tarted it up good! Pretty fun. Going to add citric acid to my cheez sauces from now on. Can't remember why I purchased citric acid- I know I had to go to some special ?brewer's? store and it was ?for a craft project? Hmmmm....

And finally, Cashew Garlic Alfredo Sauce which is so nummy. I upped the olive oil and the nutritional yeast to 1/4 c each and downed the water to just one cup. Also added citric acid, just a wee pinch (in lieu of the lemon juice).

Not much reading, really. Remember when I was all excited about having all these good books to read? Somehow they all evaporated. Like, one I hadn't remembered that I'd already read "The Pacific" by Mark Helprin who I really love. And "No one belongs here more than you" which went really fast and I liked it a lot. And "Everything Is Illuminated" - did I mention that one? Oh yeah, that I was sorta dense abuot what really happened. Watched the movie, which was fine, sorta have an inkling about what happened, but who can tell? The movie was supposed to have been different anyway.


Enjoy the new digs, they are courtesy of my husband's tinkering- it was a lovely 'happy birthday' surprise!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Seitan, you dissapoint me.

Okay, so I made seitan again... this time I used the recipe for Breakfast Sausages.
See, I had this idea to use my clay pot to make some potatoes and I wanted to try sort of steaming my 'log' of seitan in there as I do not have a steamer and I thought this might be a nice alternative. If you are not aware, steaming your seitan is the new phenomenon. First it was baking, now it's steaming. Now I declare it's clay potting... it's like baking AND steaming! No, actually, I got the idea from Bryanna.

I made it pretty much as the recipe called for, tossed my potatoes with 1 T olive oil and rock salt right there in the clay pot, wrapped up the seitan in tinfoil, set it on top and BAM! there was supper. No, actually, I poured in 1/2 C beer, put it into a cold oven turned to 400 degrees and waited 1 hour and then BAM! had supper. Next time I would add more salt to the seitan dough. I was hoping for a markedly different texture using the clay pot cooker, but no such luck. I am always slightly disappointed with seitan. Seitan, you disappoint me.

Here is some red lentil soup and Moroccan bread. Can't find the link, it was a pdf...

The bread I baked on parchment paper on my pizza stone and it came out pretty crispy, not exactly what I was imagining (I was imagining a wonderful bread from a local restaurant Babani's- we actually had them cater our wedding and one sharp memory I still retain is of the waiters/caterers bringing out these large round loaves carried on their shoulders- sooo goood!).

Well anyway, it was still good, just not what I was expecting. Perhaps next time I will bake it on a baking sheet and for less time?

2 1/2 C semolina flour (I subbed in 1 C AP flour)
1 scant T yeast dissolved in 1/4 C warm water
1 C warm water

1 T olive oil
1 T kosher salt
1 T sesame seeds

Mix the dry and wet. Knead until smooth. Let rest 15m then flatten into a 3/4" round on parchment paper.
Cover with an inverted bowl and let rise 1 hour or until doubled.
20m before rising time is over, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bake 35-40m.

Still working through "Embrace Me"- kinda dragging right now, but that may be because my brain feels like cotton balls right now. Or is that bowling balls?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Taunted (taunted, I tell you!) by visions of vegan ribz (don't click on that link if you've ever dreamed of vegan gyro, either!!!) denied to me on my recent trip to Milwaukee (but hopefully not next time) I decided to make my own! Of course, mine were not deep fried and accompanied by any vegan chive mayo alas, but they were still good.

Just like other times, I started out the same, but this time I added;
-HP sauce
-a little pepper
-more salt
-some Kitchen Bouquet
-used half tahini and half peanut butter
-added 1 T of toasted sesame oil to the dough/mix
and when I basted them with BBQ sauce I coated them in oil first.

I also baked them covered for 30m, covered them with oil and sauce, flipped them and then baked them uncovered for 10m. This resulted in a tastier, not as tough rib.

Still reading "Embrace Me"- as I get to know the characters more, it's easier to read. Great characters. Can't wait to see how she ties it all up.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Carb Edition

So, I made bread. My standard recipe, but of course, I couldn't just MAKE it again, I had to fiddle. So I added 2 things. First, a baby food jar of carrots. Yes, you read that right. It does not change the flavor, just makes the bread a golden color. Woo. If you are really wedded to the idea of golden loaves of bread you should do this.

Secondly, I added 1/8th teaspoon of powdered ginger. I did this because I read somewhere that it is a dough enhancer. I was skeptical, but you know what? It really worked!! I really think it made a difference, especially because I used both vital wheat gluten and potato flakes (okay, so I added THREE things 1/2 C potato flakes if you are interested) in this loaf and that usually makes for a super dense loaf, but this time it wasn't as dense. Finally, a use for my powdered ginger!

Oho! Aaaaaaand, I also made English muffins Saturday morning and they were splendiferous!!! I got a recipe from my friend Maggie (Hi, Maggie!) and it. turned. out. wonderfully. So happy!

Maggie's English Muffins

4 C AP flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2- 1 2/3 C lukewarm soymilk
1/2 t sugar
1 T yeast
1 T oil
cornmeal for dusting

Mix flour and salt. Start yeast in a bowl with soymilk (I use vanilla soymilk in all my cooking and baking -gasp-and never really notice any vanilla taste) and sugar. Stir in oil. Mix dry and wet, beat until soft and just holds it's shape. Add a little flour if needed.
Cover and let rise 1 hour or overnight in the refridgerator (this is what I did) until doubled.
Roll out to 1/2" thickness.
Cut out circles, dust with cornmeal and place on baking sheet, cornmeal side down to rise, covered with a damp cloth for 20-30m.
Cook on a medium hot ungreased skillet for 3-4m on each side until golden brown and cooked through.
Can be frozen.
Do this now.

And what we had for dinner last night. Kind of a strange supper, but it was so nice yesterday it was sort of a reminiscent move because we always have hummus and pita on our summer picnics. I've posted my pita recipe before, this time I added a pinch of powdered ginger, just for kicks. Some of the pitas made lovely pockets, so we'll call this a win.

And my hummus recipe is also up, this time I used 1 t sumac, so now you know my secret hummus ingredient. It is quite tasty.

Read "Everything Is Illuminated" and enjoyed it, just confused as to what exactly went on. I am dense. Netflixed (yes, I just used that as a verb) the movie, maybe this will help clear things up.

Finished "Eat, Pray, Love", as I told a friend of mine, made me want to run off to India. Husband says no. Awwww! Good book, loved her honesty. V. inspiring.

Started knitting a sweater. Cannot say more for fear I will jinx myself.

Am now reading "Embrace Me" and finding it very emotionally draining or something? Have to stop and put it down every once in a while, which I hardly ever do with books (see: incredibly fast reading pace).

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Simple Things

Hullo peoples!

Well, I had a whirlwind of a time down in Milwaukee, WI visiting old friends the last few days but we all came back with a cold. Boo.

So for dinner last night we had something I'd been planning to serve over the last of our homemade white bread before we left. Well, that didn't happen, so we had it when we got back! Ta da!

Garbanzo Beans and Gravy Recipe (which is oddly enough listed on something called 'calorie count'- but did you catch that in the ingredients? 1/2 C butter!!!)

so of course I did not make this just like the recipe.

1/2 C flour
1/2 C nutritional yeast
1 generous t salt
1/2 t garlic granules
1 C chick'n broth
1/2 C soymilk
1 big *ss can garbanzos, undrained
1/2 C Earth Balance (that's ONE STICK folks!)
1 T soy sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
dash pepper

In a separate skillet from what you're going to use to make this in, brown the flour and nutritional yeast.
Dump that into your pot, scootch it over to one side and proceed to melt your Earth Balance on the other side. Saute your onion and garlic in there and then start to, using a whisk, incorporate the flour into the butter and onions and garlic. Toss in your soy sauce, salt, pepper and garlic granules in there too. Mix, mix, mix. Try not to let it get lumpy.
Then sloowly add your chick'n stock and then the garbanzo beans and then the soymilk.
Serve over rice.
Makes 5 C.
It was pretty good, I have to say.

Oh and I am so excited. After "Infinite Jest" and "Little, Big" I was feeling a little bereft. You know, awash on the seas of not having a good book queued up. But now I am like a kid in a candy store, check this out- I requested Johnathan Safran Foer's "Everything Is Illuminated" (which, btw, is so far quite entertaining) and that came in, and then my friend KT in Milwaukee lent me "Eat, Pray, Love" which I was interested in especially after seeing Elizabeth Gilbert give this talk (thanks, Devi!), as well as another book that she said was good, so now I'm set. Nothing makes me happier than having a bunch of good books to read. Well, almost nothing. It's the simple things.