Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A little something on the side

I got a phone call out of the blue today from a woman who is looking for someone to cook meals for her elderly friend that lives nearby.  

Two years ago (almost exactly!) I started a small, short-lived personal chef job for another elderly woman.  It was at a time when I really needed some extra money for student loans and it fit perfectly with my schedule.  A few months later when my schedule became more demanding, her son came back home and they stopped my services- perfect!

And now, when I'm wishing for a little more money for extra yoga classes and miscellaneous expenses that aren't in my budget, I get this call.  I'm working on my pricing right now and will probably know tomorrow if she agrees to my proposal.  She's a-okay with only vegan cooking and it sounds like a pretty good arrangement.  Hopefully everything works out and her friend likes my cooking!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Breakfast

Since most of our celebrating was done this past weekend, I'm really enjoying my time off  of work with no pressure to entertain or really do much of anything.  

But I needed to do something special this morning- even if we weren't opening presents or anything.  So of course, that something special was breakfast!


We had wheat free corn pancakes with cranberry-maple syrup, bacon-y baked tofu, and homemade apple cider.  The pancakes were fluffy with little bursts of (MN grown) sweet corn.  

Let me tell you, though- this was not a good meal for blood sugar levels.  With the super sweet cider and maple syrup, both Mike and I quickly zoned out and went back to bed to hibernate.  

I'm thinking about using this corn pancake for an upcoming spot our co-op has on Kare11.  I get to demonstrate a recipe that shows how you can eat locally in the dead of winter!  Fun!  I figure I can demonstrate this easy corn pancake recipe with local cornmeal, corn, soymilk, and barley flour and then talk about the local eggs and sausages without actually having to cook with them.

It can be a little tricky to stay honest and true to my beliefs while still doing my job to promote ALL of our local farmers and products at the co-op.  I have to draw the line at actually cooking with ingredients I wouldn't use myself- But I'm perfectly fine talking about production methods and quality standards for the egg, dairy, and meat farmers we endorse.  I figure I'll give people the info (with plenty of vegan options!) and let them choose what is right for themselves.  

So anyways, I'm glad these pancakes turned out really tasty.  I'll probably test them out a few more times before I have to make them on camera, though!  


Monday, December 22, 2008

An Early Celebration


Yesterday we celebrated Christmas/Solstice with Mike's family in our usual tradition: 
With Pizza!

Every year we make way too much pizza topped with all the toppings that we usually try not to splurge on (artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, 3 kinds of olives, etc.).  We had 8 people at our gathering and we made 5 pizzas...You do the math.

How do we keep things vegan in an omni kitchen?  Mike's mom had the super smart idea to label her big wooden cutting board with a vegan side and a meat side!  See the fuzzy picture below:

That's veggie side up with 2 kinds of olives and veggie pepperoni.  Mike and I shared a gluten free pizza this year  (Last year I accidentally left the GF free crust at home on accident).  Usually the crust is perfect, but I must have done something different this time because it stuck to the pan like crazy.  Luckily, with all these toppings, it tasted just fine- Even if it was the ugliest pizza!

Trouble cat was being super duper cute yesterday (begging for some of grandma's gluten free sugar cookies, maybe?).  This is her peeking out of the big pickling crock.  



Saturday, December 20, 2008

Less Junk

I think it might be time to cut back on my junk food a little bit.  

Not that this hotdog wasn't wonderful, with its homemade bun, homemade sausage, homemade pickle relish.  It was delicious.  The cookies I baked nearly every night this week were also delicious.  And the tortilla chips with salsa.  And the fried tofu.  Gee whiz- we even bought Ginger Brews this week.  I think I need more vegetables in my life.

So today I made a really basic lentil soup that kept me warm as I shoveled the half a foot of snow that fell today.  And it's good I have leftovers because we're supposed to have a -30 windchill tomorrow!

Classic Lentil Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large carrot, cut into large chunks
2 celery ribs, cut into large chunks
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup green lentils (not the little French ones)
6 cups water
black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in your soup pot over medium high heat.  Throw in the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and spices and saute for about 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant and just starting to brown. Pour in the red wine, lentils, and water and bring to a simmer.  Simmer about 40-45 minutes (without a lid) or until lentils are tender.  Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper to taste.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend Update


Gosh- I can't believe I didn't post anything all weekend!  I guess that just goes along with the cleaning, laundry, and baking that I didn't get around to...

But I did get my new canning pantry set up.  I know I already posted a picture- But this one is better!

Here's the naked stairway area with the reinforced shelves.

Here it is all painted!  Yes, allularpunk, I painted them yellow!
And here's a better look at all the canned goodies.  I had to make some jam-print cookies last night after I realized just how many jars of jam I had.  It might be a bit excessive.
And here's the yellow paint in my hair.
It feels great to have this project done.  Now it's time to do that baking I didn't do this weekend.  

It's so insanely cold today that I can't bring myself to go back to the store, but I promised the kids that they'd get to have vegan hotdogs while the rest of the kids ate meaty hotdogs at the zoo fieldtrip tomorrow.  So sorry, gluten free folks.  I'm busting out the wheat gluten sausages tonight!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beer Battered Jackfruit Taccos

I don't fry food too often.  I might pan fry some tofu occasionally or make some fried okra in the summer, but I don't deep fry things unless I have a really good reason (Like Sarah's fried foods game night with fried cheeze and corndogs!)

This was a good reason, though.  For about 3 weeks I've been trying to figure out how I wanted to make something like a fish taco.  The Baja Tempeh tacos in Veganomicon sound really good, but I wanted a fishier filling and I wanted to involve beer batter and lime juice.  So I dug out the can of jackfruit from my cupboard, simmered it in lime juice, beer, kelp, and spices and then coated it in a wheat free beer batter and fried it up. This picture is bad, but you get the idea.  Lots of fried jackfruit.  
My whole house smells like beer and oil.  And I like it.

Next I toasted up some hard taco shells and topped the fried jackfruit "fish" with creamy coleslaw and served it with guacamole on the side ... because this meal needed a little more fat. 

I want to tweek the recipe just slightly before sharing, but I'll post it someday.

I'll make something else with beer soon because my one bottle of locally brewed beer didn't meet the minimum credit card requirement at the liquor store across from my yoga class.  So I was practically forced to buy 2 bottles.  

The recipe for my coleslaw dressing is here.  Mom- I think this will look pretty familiar except for a few veganizing substitutions.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Burger of My Dreams

I've been waiting for this burger for days.

A few days ago I started seeing burgers everywhere.  Liz at Kamutflake Girl made an awesome looking burger with a homemade poppyseed roll.  And Joni's book will be coming out before too long.  And then there are the countless images of burgers on TV, in magazines, and on billboards. It's only natural that I should crave one, right?

But I'm really disappointed with most hamburger buns.  Plus, Mike can't eat them.  So I started the process of tonight's dinner LAST night by making burger buns out of Vegan Dad's farm-style whole wheat bread recipe.  That's my usual recipe for the kids' sandwich bread.  Usually I halve it, but this time I made one loaf and 4 huge burger buns.

For my wheat free sweetie, I used Mary Frances' gluten free drop biscuit recipe to make GIANT biscuits to use as burger buns.  Except I didn't "drop" them as much as I used wet hands to shape them into rounds.  Jeez- if I had a nickel for everytime I used this recipe i'd be rich.  And very full of biscuits.

It's ironic that I used homemade buns, home canned pickles from homegrown cucumbers, local organic onions, local hydroponic lettuce and ... totally processed, convienent frozen burgers and presliced American style "cheese".  Oh well, a girl's gotta have time to blog.  We really enjoyed the new (to us) Amy's Bistro Burgers.  They're gluten free, vegan, are non-GMO, and use organic ingredients.  And the Galaxy rice "cheese" slices actually melted over the burgers and tasted kinda waxy like American cheese usually tastes.  Perfect!

On the side were some oven fries with garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika and my usual coleslaw.  



Sometime when I anticipate something for a while I end up being disappointed when I actually experience it...This was not the case with the burger.  It was everything I wanted it to be.  And more, because I didn't know how rockin' my hot n spicy pickles would be.

I am TOTALLY looking forward to the leftover burger in my lunch tomorrow.  


Monday, December 8, 2008

Problem Solved!


Since this summer my kitchen has been cluttered with canning jars filled with peaches, pickles, tomato sauce and jalapenos.  It's a delicious problem, but a problem nevertheless!

Until today...



My super handy, amazing step-father-not-quite-in-law just built me these shelves in our basement stairway.  Now I am the proud owner of a canning storage shelf!!!

Tonight I put a few jars on the shelves to see how they fit.  Don't they look great?!  Plus, there's space for my water bath and pressure canners.  

Of course, I still need to paint them and he's going to reinforce the shelves so they are extra strong.  But I'm already planning what I'm going to do with all the empty space in my kitchen now.  Perhaps some more appliances... Or I might just enjoy not having an overflowing kitchen.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter food

Eating a tomato in the winter isn't that big of a deal- people do it all the time.  But eating a homegrown garden heirloom tomato in the during a snowstorm in Minnesota is a pretty special thing. 

Our green garden tomatoes ripened very slowly this year (probably because we did nothing to speed them up and kept them near the window where it's cool).  This pineappple tomato was the last of the big tomatoes to ripen.  We'll enjoy a few more cherry tomatoes (we had a TON), but that's it for the garden tomatoes!  Except, of course, for the ones I canned...

We enjoyed thick slices of this tomato on top of gluten free biscuits with tofu-kale scramble and cheezy gravy for breakfast.

By the way- cheezy gravy is what you get when you combine leftover gravy and leftover mac 'n cheeze sauce.  

Last night I wanted some really good grounding food.  What better than root vegetables?


I roasted a small butternut squash, beets, a turnip, a carrot,  2 portobello mushrooms, an onion, and garlic cloves with a sauce of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and Bragg's.  By the time the veggies were tender, the sauce was a thick and sticky glaze.  Yum!

On the side I slathered some Dr. Kracker crackers with guacamole.  I could eat this every day.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Fringe Benefits

One of the many perks that goes along with working at a natural foods co-op is the never ending supply of sample products that show up on the break table or in my mail box.  I have a really handy agreement with our purchasing manager that I'll help her with computer problems if she gives me samples of chocolates.  It's the perfect symbiotic relationship.  I also get a lot of seaweed and raw foods that lots of folks don't want to sample!  

I remember one of my first days working at the co-op (in 2001?).  I was getting the tour of our backroom and had just met my future partner Mike (he was busy "singing" along to some crazy death metal- how memorable).  Mike said, "Hey, if you want some, there's some free carob Rice Dream back here".  And I was like, "Hell, yeah, I want some free rice milk!"  He looked a little confused later when he found out I wasn't vegan because he'd, "Never seen someone who wasn't vegan get so excited about rice milk".  What can I say...I love free food.  

But carob Rice Dream doesn't even compare to my latest sample.

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of trying two types of nut butters from Naturally Nutty in Traverse City, Michigan.  Their nut butters are made with organic flax and hemp seeds so they pack healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids- always a good thing.  

The peanut butter has a super strong roasted peanut taste.  Like just roasted peanuts from the farmer's market in Texas.  Yum!  And 2 Tbsp. of this stuff has 670 mg of omega-3's.  

My real favorite is the Vanilla Almond Butter, though.  Yeah, it's just as amazing as it sounds.  It reminds me of clouds and pillows and sleepy-time things.  I know that sounds weird, but it's true.  It's really comforting and ideal for a bed time snack or dessert.  Or breakfast.  Or lunch.

I happened to have a couple of Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookies laying around (from Vegan with a Vengeance, but made gluten free) and couldn't resist turning them into sandwich cookies with that almond butter.  I know.  It's totally sinfully indulgent to smear almond butter between two cookies already packed with peanut butter.  But it is so worth it.

Note that not all of their nut butters are vegan.  Most importantly, though, the Chocolate Cherry Peanut Butter is.  Someday it will be mine.






Thursday, December 4, 2008

Let's Talk About Soup, Baby...

Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE soup?  I could eat soup every day and not get sick of it.  There are so many different kinds, for each of the seasons and for different meals.  Since I've been sick this week, I've been eating more soup than usual...Which in my case means for every meal rather than just for one or two meals per day.  I'm a serious soup eater.  I've even thought of writing a soup cookbook since my recipe files in that category are overflowing.  Except...

Soup has sort of a boring reputation.  Everytime I think about how much I love soup I'm reminded of the line from Best in Show where "Sherri Ann Cabot" is describing how much she has in common with her very elderly husband and says, "We have so much in common, we both love soup and snow peas..."  Like soup is something only old people like?!  Or people who don't have any teeth left?!

Anyways, I love soup.  It keeps me hydrated.  It makes my sinuses feel better.  It keep me warm.  It's easy.  The kids hate it, so there's more for me.  It's the best breakfast ever.  It's the best nearly midnight snack ever.

I'm going to go eat some soup right now.



Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pineapple Punch for a Totally Sick Party!

I'm taking it easy today because I got hit hard with a cold last night.  I was sitting in a class at the co-op when I realized that all of a sudden I was breathing with my mouth gaping open and I could actually HEAR all the snot rushing to my sinuses.  I thought, "Wow, I'm really allergic to something in here".  But by the time I got home, my body hurt, I had a sinus headache, and my ears were throbbing.  

My first reaction?  Get out the microplane grater, because we're gonna need some ginger up in here!  I combined lots of ginger, big hunks of smashed garlic, cayenne pepper, and fresh squeezed lime juice with some broth and sipped it until bed time.  

I'm really lucky to have sick time available and a job flexible enough that I can take care of any urgent business from home.  I know many folks don't have the luxury of taking a day to heal, watch The Learning Channel, and sip herbal remedies.  I know my methods will support my immune system enough so that I will heal, but it's not instantaneious.  And I'm not a fan of symptom suppression.

I visited the {conventional Western} Dr.'s office a few weeks ago because I had a bad headache and fluid in my ears.  The Dr.'s first suggestion was to take pain killers and squirt Affrin up my nose.  She apologized that she didn't see a need to give me antibiotics.  I explained to her that all I needed to know is that I don't have an ear infection and I'd be on my way.  She looked confused, then looked at my file and said, "Oh, you're into homeopathy."  

Sort of.  Homeopathy is one modality within natural or complementary and alternative medicine, but it's not my favorite.  I'm more of a Western herb, food, and yoga type gal.  But she's right, I don't like taking drugs, especially over the counter and prescription ones.  And I don't like masking my symptoms with drugs so that I can't feel what my body is doing.  

After explaining that I wanted to feel anything going on in my ears and head so that I would know if my body was in balance, my Dr. said, "Hm.  I never thought about it that way before.  I like that."

Please, please, please tell me that most Dr.'s have at least considered this perspective. Alternating Dayquil and Nyquil will not cure my cold.  It'll make me feel great so that I can ignore what my body is telling me.  This habit can be dangerous, encourages disconnection from one's body, and should be reserved for those days when a person absolutely HAS to do something despite needing to heal.  Why is that not the norm?

Anyways, enough with the soapbox stuff.  I feel yucky and have watched too much "What Not to Wear" and "A Baby Story" with cold medicine commercials in between.  I had to get that out of my system.  

My drink of choice today is way too delicious to be medicinal- But it is!  The lovely Chelsea at the co-op suggested I pick up some Lakewood organic pineapple juice that is on sale since it is packed with vitamin C and minerals.  Great idea- This ginger will clear anything up!

Pineapple Ginger Drink

1 inch ginger root, peeled with the side of a spoon
1 cup organic pineapple juice
1 cup filtered water

Finely grate the ginger (add as much as you want!) and add to the pinneapple juice and water. Heat until steaming hot.  Drink up!  
 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Agni

I went to a rejuvenating yoga/nutrition class today with Mary Sage and Jesse at One Yoga in Mineapolis.  It's a really beautiful studio and it was great to do nothing but focus on my self for a little while.  I haven't been feeling tip top lately- I've had a nasty headache that's lasted about 2 1/2 weeks.  I've had my ears and sinuses checked out, been drinking lots of water, and taking it a bit easy, but the darn headache keeps coming back every day.  During the yoga class, though, my head didn't hurt one bit.  


I think that just goes to show that there is a difference between relaxing while watching TV/knitting/doing laundry and relaxing in supta baddha konasana in a peaceful room with a eye pillow draped over my eyes.  I think I need more of the latter.  


The focus of the class was on cleansing and rejuvenating the body, specifically the digestive system.  We did some vinyasa style yoga, twists, inversions, abdominal self massage, restorative poses, and then talked about eating habits.  Fun!  When I got home I remembered a recipe I did for a Yoga Dinner Pary * a while back.  It fit perfectly with the theme of the day.


Shiitake Dashi for Agni

A dashi is a thin broth usually made with sea vegetables and mushrooms.  This dashi has ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper to stimulate digestive fire, or agni.  


4 cups water or broth

1 vegan bouillon cube, no salt added (omit if using broth)

1-2 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1-2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 cup frozen or fresh shiitake mushroom slices

1/4 cup kelp/kombu , torn into small pieces

1 Tbsp. tamari

1 dash cayenne pepper

2 oz. soba noodles (GF folks: look for Eden brand- they make a 100% buckwheat version)

 

Simmer water, bouillon cube, garlic, and ginger until bouillon dissolves, about 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer until soba noodles are tender, about 6 minutes.  Season as needed with additional tamari and cayenne pepper.  Variation: Spinach, tofu, and green onions are  all delicious additions to this soup.  More soba noodles may be added to make a more filling soup.  


*A Yoga Dinner Party is an event where I come to your house, lead you and your friends through a yoga class designed to stimulate digestion, and feed you an amazing meal in accordance with yogic teachings about sattvic foods.  Just email me if you want one- It makes a great gift for friends when you're sick of buying "stuff" and would rather give an experience.  If you live outside the Twin Cities, just buy me some plane tickets and I'll bring the party to you.  Especially if you live in Dallas or Vancouver.  

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 08

I love Thanksgiving so much.  This is food I would eat every day if it didn't send me into a delicious food coma.  I just woke up from a 3 hour nap.  Yep- that's right.  I did it just because I could.  

We hosted Thanksgiving this year- that's mostly been the tradition lately.  I love doing the cooking and Mike's mom is perfectly happy to bring anything I need and help with the grocery bill.  We're a perfect in-law match!  (actually not in law, since the law is not involved in our relationship.  But you know what I mean).  Mike's family is always a good sport about the whole vegan thing- no complaints about the missing turkey or anything. 

Mike will surely read this and make fun of me, but I want to post a picture of the table because I think it looked really cute!  The yellow candle holders are glasses with layers of tissue paper wrapped around them- they look really pretty when the light shines through.  The idea is from the November issue of Martha Stewart Living.  I broke out some homemade pickles on the table for snacking and the kids devoured them!
This is the first year I haven't made a seitan-tofu turkey a la Bryanna Clark Grogan.  I really love her recipe, but this year we made sure everything was wheat free and mostly gluten free for Mike.  And I just can't figure out how to make a "turkey" like that without wheat gluten. So I made some tofu turkey cutlets marinated in poultry seasoning, nutritional yeast, and veg. broth. And in case they weren't that good, I crusted them, fried them, and baked them to make up for it.  They were that good, though.

Of course there were mashed potatoes with onion gravy, green beans with a parsley, almond, and lemon gremoulade, cranberry-ginger relish (Martha Stewart Living Nov 08), and my gluten free cornbread stuffing, too.  Someday I'll post a recipe of it, but I never measure anything for it so I couldn't give you a recipe right now.  The cornbread I used was a double recipe of Mary Frances' Southern Style GF Cornbread.  It's my fave.

When I was a little girl I remember seeing my Meemaw bake HUGE pans of cornbread on Thanksgiving, only to break it up into bits for the dressing/stuffing.  I always felt sad seeing the perfect cornbread get smashed, but it's a necessary evil for this amazing dish!  

For dessert I broke out yet another Martha recipe.  This is the "Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie" from the Nov. 2008 issue.  I subbed a 12 point whatever ounce pack of silken tofu for the 12 oz. of  evaporated milk and 3 eggs called for in the recipe and used Newman's wheat and dairy free O's for the crust instead of graham crackers.  What happened to the creme filling on all those O's, you ask?  I'll never tell!

Since the O's have barley flour, this isn't gluten free.  But you could just use any GF cookie you can find.  I couldn't bring myself to bake cookies and then smash them to make a crust.  That plus the cornbread destruction might have been too much for my delicate constitution.  {I used to cry when balloons popped}

On top of the pie is some whipped Soyatoo cream.  I've had the stuff in a can and wasn't that impressed.  It deflated as soon as it left the can!  But this was the liquid variety that you whip at home and I thought it was 100% better.  Plus it was fun to whip it good in my KitchenAid. Seward Co-op in Minneapolis carries it.

We had a great day just chatting and eating and enjoying each other's company.  Now the kids are off to grandma's for the annual setting up of the Christmas decorations, I'm up from my nap, and I'm ready for leftovers.  Hope everyone else's Thanksgiving was as good as ours!  

Restocking

I ended my pantry challenge today, on the 13th day and in preparation for Thanksgiving.  What better way to celebrate the harvest than by ending a "fast" of sorts and feasting with family and friends?

I ended up spending about $115 at the co-op today and nearly reaching my max grocery budget for the month.  But considering that I usually spend about $100 a week and didn't spend any for 2 weeks, I think I would have gone WAY over my budget without the pantry challenge.  I declare it a success!
Here's what I bought on this restocking adventure:

Bulk:
nutritional yeast
org. basmati rice
org. local WW flour
org. local rolled oats
org. quinoa
org. brown rice flour
sea salt
org. local raw sunflower seeds
org. polenta
raw almonds
raw pecans
org. raisins
org. red lentils
org. brown rice

Produce:
org. satsuma mandarin oranges
org. lemons
org. local cranberries
org. garlic
org. parsley
org. ginger root
org. local potatoes
org. celery
org. local onions

Packaged
chocolate chips
org. tofu
org. pumpkin
org. tempeh
carob chips
baggies
org. gluten free pasta
org. fair trade brown sugar
org. olive oil
org. peanut butter
chai rooibos and cocoa spice teas
org. teff tortillas
org. lemon juice
org. bouillon cubes
cat litter

The best part?  I saved over $50 in staff discounts and members discounts!  I love seeing that.  
The real fun comes tomorrow (today because I'm up late) when we host our Thanksgiving meal.  I'll be sure to post pictures, don't worry.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pantry Challenge Update- Day 11

The last 2 nights I've made two of the most rockin' dinners I've made in a while (if I do say so myself...and I do).  How ironic that by not grocery shopping my dinners have improved!  Perhaps this points to a bit too much of a dependence on a neverending supply of tofu, pasta, and nutritional yeast?

Both last night and tonight I arrived home at 5pm and started dinner.  By the time the kids were done with homework, the food was ready to serve.  Maybe an hour?  Of course, there was plenty of time on Facebook and reading blogs included in that time, too.

Last night we had a Mexican lasagna of sorts.  I've found all sorts of things I didn't know I had in our fridge and pantry.  Like month-expired corn tortillas that had no mold on them.  These became the "pasta" for the lasagna.  Another package of tofu was in the back of the drawer in the fridge, so that became a tofu ricotta type thing with lots of lime juice.  Rehydrated TVP with tons of spices became taco "meat".  And I made a quick sauce in the food processor with indoor ripened garden tomatoes, a few stray green onions, and a damaged green pepper that was free from the co-op.  After layering this all together with a little bit of leftover kidney beans, I baked it for 30 minutes at 350F.  It was amazing!

Tonight I really doubted my abilities to make a nutritious and half-way tasty meal.  We're out of any whole grains except cornmeal and a little brown rice flour I found in an unlabeled baggie on the baking shelf (yay!).  We have no tofu, tempeh, or soaked beans.  And the garlic supply is dangerously low.  Only one head left.  

Here's what I made:  
  • Polenta with a chopped garlic clove to season it.  Somehow this was totally delicious.  Maybe just lightly browning the garlic in oil before adding the polenta and water did the trick?  And lots of salt. 
  • Tomato and pepper sauce with leftover taco TVP, indoor ripened cherry tomatoes, damaged red and green bell peppers, garlic simmered forever on the stovetop.  I also did the classic money-saving technique of adding water to the little bit of leftover ketchup in the bottle and adding that to the sauce.  Plus, a splash of balsamic vinegar.  
  • Chocolate chip, pecan, and shredded coconut cookies made with that "discovered" rice flour
I'd give you a recipe for these, but that totally defeats the purpose and spirit of these pieced together meals.  So go forth and cook from your pantries!*

**Note: every so often I mistype pantry challenge and type panty challenge.  I wonder what a blog about a panty challenge would look like?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Exceptions...Or cheating

I've been doing pretty well on my pantry challenge, but there have been a few exceptions...
I really wanted to just buy nothing at all for the whole challenge, but found that we really truly needed a few items.  Watch how I rationalize:

Deodorant- It comes from the grocery store, so it's questionable.  But since it doesn't go in thepantry, I figured it'd be okay.  Plus, I was completely out.  And stinky.

Coffee drink- I splurged on a beverage purchase because I had to work until 2am.  I think that alone qualifies it as an allowable exception purchase.

Pizza from Pizza Luce- This would normally go into our food budget and is totally cheating...Except that I had a GIFT CARD so I didn't actually spend any money!  So it's justified.

Water- Not just any water, but triple filtered reverse osmosis water.  I just can't drink the stuff from the tap unless I cover the taste with lemon (which we're out of).  Is this snobby?  Yes.  An allowable exception because I need it to sustain life and I refill a jug and it's only $0.40 a gallon? Also yes.

I decided that my goal is to make it until Thanksgiving without buying groceries.  And surprisingly, this is one food challenge that Mike is going along with!  I've had no luck with him on the Eat Local Challenge or general food bugeting, but he suggested we do a pantry challenge for one week out of every month.  Now I think awhile before committing to that one, but it doesn't seem so scary anymore.  Especially when my pantry is still terribly full. And so is the fridge.  And so is the freezer.  


Thanks for everyone's encouragement!  Who knew folks would get excited about not grocery shopping!?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Seven days and counting...

Alright, this pantry challenge business is starting to get a bit harder.  Today was the 7th day without grocery shopping.  We're out of onions, rice, all nuts and seeds, quinoa, tapioca starch (vital for gluten free cooking), and most importantly, ice cream. 

We've been using various grains, beans, free vegetables from the co-op, and we still have some tofu and 1 block of tempeh left.  

We've had some great meals!  Tonight we had something I'll call "Italian Quinoa".  That's gotta be fusion cuisine, right?  I marinated tofu slices in a salt, rosemary, and basil rub and pan fried them.  Yum!  
I sauteed garlic with some olive oil before adding the quinoa.  For cooking liquid I used 1/2 tomato juice that had been in the fridge forever and 1/2 water.  I threw in a few chopped sundried tomatoes from the garden and more rosemary.  This stuff was good all on its own, but really rocked when topped with a quick garden tomato sauce.  

Some of that free broccoli rounded out the plate with some green.  I just steamed it a little and then tossed it around in the hot skillet after the tofu was done frying.  I topped it with a little lemon zest from a lemon that URGENTLY needed to be used and kosher salt.


Yesterday Mike and I enjoyed a mushroom laden meal while the boys were at their mom's.  We used the last of our gluten free spaghetti with mushrooms, leftover roasted garlic, and a "cream" sauce made with cornstarch slurry, a little soy yogurt, a little veganaise, and water.  Sounds nasty, I know.  But somehow those ingredients mimic a really rich cream sauce.  Then there was pan fried tempeh on the side.  Wow- I guess I'm just in the mood to fry things, huh?

I have no pictures of it, but we thoroughly enjoyed Karina's gluten free vegan banana bread- with chocolate chips.  Now I'm using the last of the rice flour to make some sparkled ginger cookies.  Totally worth it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pantry Challenge Update

Just a quick update on my Pantry Challenge tonight:

It's been 4 days since I've bought any food.  Amazing!

Here's what I ate today-
Breakfast- Whole wheat toast with Earth Balance and miso
Snack- Hot chocolate with almond milk (I had this in the fridge at work) and homemade granola
Lunch- Leftover Indian style chickpea-tomato soup with toasted pita bread and GF Chocolate ganache cookie
Dinner- Grilled "cheeze" sandwich, apple, and homemade pickles
Snack- Popcorn with flax oil and nutritional yeast
Second Dinner- Potato, carrot, and celery soup

I'd say I'm eating pretty good for someone who "can't" grocery shop!

I did stop by the co-op tonight to refill my jug with filtered water.  I almost bought something else since I felt guilty writing a check or charging $1.20.  But I resisted.  

Monday, November 17, 2008

Double Chocolate Ganache Cookies (GF)


Leftover ganache.  What a horrible thing to have to deal with...
Just kidding.  But sometimes it gets put in a container in the fridge and I forget about this awesome chocolatey goodness so it doesn't realize its full potential.  Like cupcake frosting, chocolate covered pretzels, little truffles, or sandwich cookie filling.  

So tonight I decided to start using up this leftover ganache in the spirit of my pantry challenge and not wasting anything.  I used Dreena Burton's "Gluten be Gone" Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as my base.

Double Chocolate Ganache Cookies
makes 11-12 cookies

1 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp. tapioca starch flour
1/4 cup evaporated cane juice
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coffee extract (or more vanilla)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
10 Tbsp. leftover ganache- room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a bowl whisk together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, starch, sugar and salt.  In a little jar whisk together the syrup, extracts, oil, and 3 Tbsp. ganache until smooth.  If you need to warm the ganache slightly, just put the (glass, oven safe) jar in the preheating oven for a minute.  Stir the chocolate mixture into the flour and mix until combined and a thick dough forms.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease lightly.  Drop cookie dough on the baking sheet by the spoonful.  You should get about a dozen.  Then lightly press your thumb in the center of each cookie to form a slight depression.  In each hollow place a little less than a teaspoon of ganache.  Bake for 10 minutes and cool completely before eating to allow the gluten-free flour to fully absorb the cookie's moisture and improve in texture.  
And yes, biting into that soft center of ganache is pretty darn amazing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blog etiquette

We bloggers tend to share nearly everything about our eating habits and a good bit about our lives online...however healthy or unhealthy they may be.  

But what do you do when you notice clearly disordered eating?  As a recovering (pretty darn recovered, but it's a lifelong thing) anorexic, I know the signs, the thoughts, and the guilt that goes with disordered eating.  So when I see it bared for the world to see in a blog, I can't help but want to say something.  

I'm not sure it would do any good and I don't want to start any s*!t with someone I don't really know...  but I know that without someone, somewhere doing something, these people will end up really sick.

What do you think?  

A Challenging Week

I always track my spending...some might say obsessively even.   And this morning like any other Sunday morning I was enjoying my tea and breakfast of leftover Indian food while balancing the ol' checkbook.  This whole recession thing has me worried, of course, but we've been really lucky to have a dependable income and not TOO many increases in expenditures. 

Besides the mortgage, our main expenditure is food.  And of course we all know food prices have gone up quite a bit.  I noticed this morning that our food spending (while always a little over budget) is not any higher than in previous years.  Why?  Besides growing much of our own produce during the growing season, a few months ago I stopped buying milk (usually a selection of soy, rice, almond and hemp), bread, and cereal.  Instead I invested in a SoyQuick soymilk maker, started baking bread, and making granola.  They each seemed like little things on their own, but setting aside to do these 3 tasks every Sunday has served a padding for the other products that we do buy that have risen in price. 

But this morning, alas, I realized that because of many factors (timecard error that ended up shorting me a day of pay, one of those "right of way assessment" charges from the city, some winter clothes for the kids, eating lots of avocadoes and ice cream, etc.) I'm not doing so great with my budget this month.  In fact, I only have $126.83 left to spend on groceries for the rest of the month for a family of 4.  And this month happens to include Thanksgiving.  Great.

So I figure I'll do one of those pantry challenges for a while.  You know, the thing where you don't buy any groceries and only eat what's in your kitchen as of...right now.  Goodness gracious.  It scares this compulsive grocery shopper to even fathom this task.  As a matter of fact, it's already quite the feat that I haven't shopped since Friday!

I'm not sure how long I'll do this- But even a week will get us back on track with the grocery budget and reach the next paycheck.  And I might make an exception for buying flour and salt because I'm almost out and they're real staples for us.  Is that cheating?  Maybe.  But it would be a friggin' miracle if I only bought flour and salt for a week.

So tonight I am baking some cookies in anticipation of the sweets craving I always get at work. Instead of going downstairs and buying a ziggy-zag cookie from the co-op I'll have to bring my own.  Wish me luck!


**Disclaimer to say not to worry about us too much.  It's not like we don't have any money in savings that we could dip into if REALLY necessary.  But I prefer to stick to my budget and leave the saving alone so that it will one day buy me a car with heated seats.  Or a screened in porch with a hammock.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Whew!

Today was a day we've been planning for about a year- It was the 90th Birthday Celebration for Mr. Iyengar put on by the Iyengar Yoga Association of MN.  Some people (Mike) might think it's a little weird to have a birthday celebration for someone who's not even in the same country as you, but it was a really fun event!  We had an asana class that was taught by Mr. Iyengar via a tape recording from years ago.  The we did a sutra recitation and shared a great meal together.  Common Roots whipped up some great Indian food made with local and organic ingredients- including some dairy free chai tea!  My contribution was cupcakes (bet you couldn't have guessed that one...).  Here they are looking all happy in the sunshine after being dipped in chocolate.


These are chai latte cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with ganache on top. They seemed pretty well received, although I think they weren't a personal best.  I actually think the gluten-free ones turned out the best!

It's quite the relief that this event turned out so well- I feel like either celebrating or sleeping.  I'm not sure which.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Facts

Zoey over at Zoey's Kitchen tagged me to name 7 weird facts about myself.  I think I've done this one before a while back, but I can't resist anything resembling a survey or list and I'm not feeling so well tonight and this is making me not think about allergies.

Rules:
Link the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links.
Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1.  I have terrible environmental allergies to dust (every kind tested for), cat dander, several molds, elm, box elder, and maple trees, 3 kinds of grass, and nearly every weed pollen they test for.  Plus I sneeze like crazy when people wear perfume or spray air freshener.  I'd way rather smell someone's body odor than awful synthetic fragrances.  Thank goodnes I have no food allergies, though!

2.  The only think Mike and I ever "fight" about is when I try to take over his cooking projects.  I swear I don't mean to...I just offer little bits of advice about nearly everything he does so that he'll make it exactly the way I would and he doesn't like that too much.  

3.  I'm going to be an aunt near the end of February and I'm super excited about this.  My brother and his wife got married last year and are expecting their first baby- a little girl.  I will spoil her to no end.

4.  I love watching medical mystery shows ("Mystery Diagnosis", anyone?) and quickly become convinced that I am suffering from the same conditions as people on these shows.  Last week I was pretty sure I had about 6 different diseases.  I've done this since I was a little girl and loved reading our family medical book.  It had a flow chart of symptoms to diagnose yourself and nearly every one ended in a terrible disease.  It's sick (ha!), but I loved it.

5.  I've recently become hooked on tea (herbal, not caffinated), mostly for survival in this cold state.  My favorite one right now is the Yogi Tea Rooibos Chai plain or with a little almond milk and maple syrup.  

6.  I hate taking showers in the winter time.  Or bathing at all, for that matter.  Don't worry, co-workers, I'll keep doing it anyways.  But not more than I have to.

7.  I commit the worst sin of spice racks- I have mine right above the stove.  I know it's terrible for them.  The jars get covered in grime and they're always warm.  But I just can't figure out where to move them to without them being a pain to use when cooking.  And I've had "clean the spice rack" on my to do list for well over 4 months.

There they are- 7 weird facts about me.  You'll be glad I sensored them to leave out some of the weirdest ones.

I tag the following folks...unless you just did this already and I somehow missed it.
Marni at La Vegan Loca
Vegan_Noodle at Walking the Vegan Line
Catherine at Food Snob

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Early Thanksgiving

We went to a friend's house last night for a rockin' vegan potluck with a thanksgiving/holiday theme.  Such a good idea!  

It's a pretty rare thing for a vegan to show up at a holiday gathering and be able to eat anything on the table.  Unless, of course, she/he was in charge of preparing all the food.  So it was really nice to show up with just a couple of dishes and sit down to an amazing meal.

We had Tofurky, Celebration Roast, gluten-free cornbread stuffing, 2 kinds of mashed potatoes, gravy (I made 2 quarts of it!), corn, homemade cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie with buckwheat crust, homemade pumpkin soy cream, and whipped topping.  Yum!

Before we left, the kitten came tearing down the stairs with a gift bag stuck around her belly.  It was a sad sight and the poor little kitten was confused about what was going on.  But I managed to snap a picture before I cut the bag off of her.  Now I know who's been ripping apart all my gift wrap supplies in my closet, huh?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Taking Care of Business


Yesterday I cleaned for about 4 hours, making up for not cleaning in a few weeks.  I think today I made up for any lack of cooking in the past few days.  I was a cooking machine!

Here's what I ate today:

2 Doctor Kracker crackers with 1/2 avocado
16oz. nettle tea with lemon and molasses

1 cup spiced millet
1 cup yellow lentil dal

6 little chocolate peanut butter candies (I can't stop!)
about 3/4 cup of Bhuja cracker mix (rice crackers, peas, peanuts, chickpeas, spices)

3 hunks of roasted red kuri squash (about 1/3 of the squash)
1 cup of coconut stewed collard greens
1 slice homemade wheat bread with 1 Tbsp. Earth Balance margarine


I'll have leftover millet and dahl for lunch tomorrow, along with more squash and collards.  I baked enough bread for the kids' sandwiches this week.  I made a batch of granola for snacks and breakfasts this week.  I baked 2 batches of GF cornbread for stuffing I'm bringing to a friend's Thanksgiving potluck this week.  


I harvested all the kale from the garden, washed, chopped, dried, bagged, and froze it.  We have about 7 gallon freezer bags total.  This is quite the ordeal, but we do it every year and love having the garden fresh-frozen kale on hand.
I still have to do the collards another day.  Look at the size of these leaves!  All I have left to do today is make soymilk.  


It's Gettin' Cold in Here

For those of you who live in a cool climate: How long do you wait before turning on the heat?  

We're always trying to save money and energy by not using our air conditioning and waiting as long as possible before turning on the heat in the house.  Without using heat or the AC, we spend about $96 a month on our electricity and heat ($6 of which is for using 100% wind power).  I just hate to start the season of $200 utility bills!

Now our house is not insulated very well (or at all in our bedroom!), so I know that turning on the heat won't work very efficiently to warm us up.  So I've been drinking tons of hot herbal tea, hot chocolate, and soup in front of a little space heater... but my fingers are so cold I'm having trouble typing.  

It's 27 F outside right now and 58 F inside the house.  

Am I crazy to not turn on the heat or should I just put on another (3rd) sweater?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The last 4 days

Wow.  Time flies when you're not blogging.  Don't worry Mom- I'm still alive.  I've just been busy at work and having fun with friends instead of blogging the past 4 days.  

I wish I could say that I've been hard at work on an awesome post for today, but instead I've been cleaning the house and I'm heating up some leftover rasam and slathering some whole grain Doctor Kracker crackers (made in Dallas!) with avocado for diner.  

On Wednesday I taught a gluten free baking class that was really fun.  We made pizza, almond cupcakes, and chocolate cherry cookies and the class was nearly full with 21 people registered!  I just love cooking for people with allergies or special diets.  I think those of us with more limited diets are more appreciative when someone makes food we can actually eat.  The folks in the class were so gracious and helpful (even with dishes!) and had great advice for each other.  

Next weekend I'll be baking about 75 cupcakes for a big yoga event...and I haven't chosen my flavors yet!  I'm thinking Chai would be nice because we're having Indian food for dinner.  But chocolate is always good.  In the past I've done chocolate chai cakes for this group, so I might stick with that.  We'll see!

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with my good friend Sarah this weekend.  As usual when we're together, we hit up some great restaurants.  We ate dinner at the Triple Rock on Friday and had brunch at Pizza Luce this morning.  My "meatball" sub at the T-Rock was okay, but not the best.  The marinated onions on it were amazing, though.  And any place that serves malt vinegar with their fries has a special place in my heart.  As usual, the Portobello Florentine at Luce was amazing.  Sundried tomatoes, hollandaise sauce, marinated portobello mushrooms, and fresh spinach- how could you go wrong?

Tomorrow I'll be out of leftovers and will have to cook something.  Until then...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night Comfort Food

It's a tense night tonight.  We're big Obama fans in this house, so we're huddled around CNN right now.  Even the boys are cheering every time a "blue" projection comes in.

I wanted some comfort food tonight- and a lot of vegetables.  So here's what I made:

I put some homegrown carrot chunks in a baking dish with some maple syrup, Earth Balance, ground coriander, celery seed, and salt and pepper.  I baked these with a lid on until they were tender and fragrant.  One boy scarfed these up without any "Oh, I don't like carrots that much" complaint.  The other boy needed some extra onion and sage gravy before consenting to eat them.  

I'm a big fan of super quick tempeh sausage crumbles made in the cast iron skillet.  With fennel, thyme, smoked paprika, cumin, and Bragg's, this is some seriously flavorful tempeh.  I just topped the hot sausage with shredded lacinato kale from the garden and it had enough residual heat to wilt the kale just perfectly.  Yum!

The mashed potatoes turned out really well.  I boiled about 5 lbs. of red potatoes and then whipped them with a cup of plain soy yogurt, some almond milk, chopped green onions, salt, and pepper.  I love the combo of yogurt and green onions, especially in mashed potatoes!  

We'll be breaking out the gluten-free almond blondies later tonight- perhaps in celebration!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pho!

The lemongrass broth I made last night was so freaking good that I decided to make pho with it.  Now I've never had authentic Vietnamese pho, but I'm seen enough pho porn and read enough recipes to give it a whirl.


I used thin rice noodles because that's what I had on hand.  Toppings included shredded basil, cilantro, lime wedges, green onions, mung bean sprouts, and chiles.  No additional chiles were needed, though!  I put about 5 tabasco chiles into the broth, so it had some serious kick!

Even Mike, notorious soup hater that he is, ate two bowls of this stuff.  Good thing I like it since I have about a gallon of broth!



Saturday, November 1, 2008

Lemongrass Madness!


Today was the long-put-off day of harvesting herbs for drying and freezing.  I hate admitting that winter is coming.

So I cut down the sage, parsley, curry, lavender, lemon verbena, and lemongrass.  
Most of these herbs will dry nicely hanging from my living room ceiling...


But the lemongrass is special.  Lemongrass is one of my top 5 aromatics of all time.  I always keep some dried lemongrass on hand, but growing it in my garden this year has been really rewarding.  The tart smell fills the air the second you cut the stalk.  I'm trying to figure out the best way to preserve this pungent flavor and all those great oils.  My first thought was freezing.


So I chopped up the most tender part of the stalks in the food processor and then packed it into ice cube trays.  I poured water over the lemony bits and froze them.  I'm hoping this will make a great addition to soups, sauces, and such.

But I still had LOTS of lemongrass left, so I decided to experiment.  Next came lemongrass-scented olive oil (center).  I think after a few days of steeping I'll strain the oil and keep it in the fridge to use in super awesome salad dressing or as a finishing oil.

Then I figured I'd better try vinegar, too (right).  So I added more lemongrass puree to 1/2 cider vinegar and 1/2 rice vinegar.  I'll strain this off eventually, too.  

Last I made 2 big batches of spicy lemongrass broth in the pressure cooker.  I used onions, cilantro, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, chiles, and salt.  Mike's on his way home with the lime juice to add to the broth.  This stuff is amazing!


This might satiate my lemongrass cravings for a little while.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Treats!

Every year for Halloween we take the boys trick or treating and let them gather up big bags of candy that we don't eat. Then when we get back to the house they trade in their artificially colored, high fructose corn syrup for a Haloween goodie bag. This year there's some seriously good stuff in these bags!

Fast and Furless in Minneapolis had Sjaak's Organic, vegan, fair trade extra dark chocolate bites filled with peanut butter. This is the kind of chocolate where you can really taste the cocoa because it's not gobbed up with tons of sugar. I don't even need to tell you how good these are. It'll just make you cry.

I also picked up some Yummy Earth organic lollipops, a Panda raspberry licorice, a chocolate coconut fair trade Larabar, organic strawberry Stretch Island fruit leather, Endangered Species dark chocolate bite, dark chocolate "earth balls", and some Yummy Earth organic peppermint drops for each boy.
Oh, and there's some for the parents, too!

What do we do with all the unwanted candy? We bring it into the Co-op and give it to our coworkers or sometimes we "regift" it to other trick or treaters who come to our door (along with a little organic chocolate, of course)!

Well, this is it- My 31st Vegan MoFo posting. While I did miss a day or two, I made sure to post extra on a couple of days to make up for it. Yay! I did better than last year!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's the Cheeziest

While visiting my mom I always have to scope out her magazines- This time I was hooked on a "Soups, Stews, and Chilies" issue from Cuisine at Home. The very first recipe in the magazine is for Mac 'n Cheese Soup. Yeah. I know. In my head it alternates between sounding disgusting and like the best thing ever. I had to make it.


Now, I love pulling down the big mixing bowl and slurping up massive amounts of vegetable soup, but this isn't the type of soup you guzzle, oh, no. One cup of this soup is plenty- It's really rich. Of course, it's not nearly as rich as the original version that calls for 4 cups of shredded cheddar...

Vegan Mac 'n Cheese Soup

1 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance margarine
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup celery, minced
1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 heaping tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tbsp. vegan cream cheese, Veganaise, or other fat-laden vegan substance*

Cook macaroni according to package directions (I used a gluten-free one so that my sweetie can enjoy this). Sweat onion and garlic in the Earth Balance in a large saucepan over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Mix together the cornstarch, arrowroot, mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, turmeric, salt, and garlic powder until no lumps remain. Then whisk the spice/thickner mixture into the onions and celery. Stir to coat. Then deglaze the pan with the vegetable broth and whisk until no lumps remain. Simmer about 5 minutes or until broth is thickened. Then whisk in the almond milk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and cream cheese or veganaise keep stirring until the soup is smooth and creamy. Add the cooked macaroni and serve immediately. I like this with lots of freshly ground black pepper.

*I know it seems weird to add these to the soup, but it gives it that extra richness that the soup needs. I tried it with cream cheeze, with veganaise, and with both. They were all good! Using a little of both the cream cheeze and the veganaise made for a super-awesome Paula Deen type of indulgence that you don't want to go overboard on or you'll get a tummyache. That one was my favorite- Duh.

Here are my kitties sitting on the bushel of green tomatoes. I will certainly be making fried green tomatoes with some of them and maybe I'll make some more pickles, too.





Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Green Tomatoes

What am I going to do with a bushel of green tomatoes?

Hopefully most of them will ripen! It started freezing at night, so Mike had to harvest all the tomatoes while I was in Texas. Now we have a bushel of them sitting in a crate on our kitchen table.

What's your favorite thing to do with green tomatoes?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fried Rice

Somehow this stirfry and rice ended up taking a whole hour to cook.  I cooked some white basmati rice and added fresh grated ginger to the water.  Then I mixed up my usual tofu scramble but fried up the tofu in sesame oil along with the rice for something like fried rice.  

We had a ton of garden veggies and veggies from the Co-op, so I mixed up purple green beans, carrots, celery, broccoli, onions, and garlic and coated them with a orange-ginger glaze.  

All in all, a pretty tasty dinner.  No one thought the rice tasted like "real" fried rice, though.  Darn.





Monday, October 27, 2008

Back from the land of fajitas

I'm back from Texas, home of fajitas nearly every day and my sweet family.  


I'm back to the land of hot dish and snow.  Mike welcomed me back with one of his signature dishes: pasta with rice and potatoes.  It was carb-tastic.

I promise I'll start cooking again now.  

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Not the best ice cream



When my mom and I get together, you know there's going to be ice cream involved.  So when we stopped at Whole Foods last night (don't worry co-op folks, I'm no traitor.  There are no natural foods co-ops in Dallas that I know of) I had to pick up a pint... or two.  

I couldn't resist choosing these two flavors.  I'm a sucker for a new flavor of Purely Decadent and key lime sounded divine!  The NadaMoo ice cream intrigued me not because of the mint chip flavor, but because it is made with coconut milk and sweetened only with agave nectar and malted grains.  Unfortunately, neither of these really lived up to my high hopes.

The NadaMoo ice cream was missing something- but I don't think it was the sugar. The sweetness of the agave was fine, but the ice cream wasn't rich like I expected after having had other coconut milk ice creams.  The chocolate chips were few and far between and didn't have that characteristic "snap" that frozen chocolate pieces usually have.  They were more...chewy.  I wanted to love this ice cream, I really did.  I shouldn't give up on it, though.  The first time I tried Oatscreme I hated it, and now it's one of my favorites.

The Key Lime Pie flavor sounded perfect in every way.  But I expected a very tart ice cream and lots of graham cracker crumbs.  Sadly, the ice cream was pretty flat- decent lime flavor but none of the acidity that you'd expect from a key lime ice cream.  It reminded me of Silk key lime yogurt in that it was a bit too sweet.  The graham cracker crust pieces were definitely my favorite part- I ended up fishing out all 4 pieces that were in the pint.  My recommendation?  Add citric acid for tartness and do an actual graham cracker crust swirl rather than a "graham flavored sauce" swirl.  

Honestly, I ate a good bit of both ice creams for the purposes of this research.  And since they were the only ice cream I had- they were okay.  But up against Purely Decadent Peanut Butter Zigzag, Coconut Craze, or Cookies and Cream or Coconut Milk Cookie Dough ice cream, these two wouldn't be in my top 10.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spiral Diner

I'm having a great time with my family in Texas- so getting to visit the Spiral Diner in Dallas was icing on the cake.  I'm sorry my pictures aren't in chronological order or even right-side up.  I'm not used to my mom's computer!

Here's what my friend Brandon and I ate:

Cookie Sundae: A warm chocolate chip cookie with homemade chocolate ice cream, whipped "cream" and chocolate syrup.  


This is me trying to get my mouth around the giant sandwich I ordered!



This is Brandon's sandwich- I think it was the chopped seitan sandwich- it had pickles on it.  Hot pickles.  


This is my "Texas style" steak sandwich.  Seitan, peppers, onions, barbecue sauce- yum!
We started the meal off with Blue Sky sodas on tap (I had Dr. Becker) and chips and guacamole.  This was the first of the many guacamoles I've had on this visit.


Tomorrow I'll review a couple of new (to me) vegan ice creams!



Friday, October 24, 2008

So sleepy

Too sleepy to blog.
Rehearsal dinner included vegetable wellington, fresh berries and crispy lavash bread. Yum!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Culture Shock


It's been a long time since I've shopped in a conventional grocery store. And like visiting a foreign country, I had a bit of culture shock.

You know I'm a food snob and my colors really shined today as my dad and I wandered through the aisles at Tom Thumb (a chain owned by Safeway). All those packages of sugar, artificial flavors, and fat in various forms just grossed me out. These big chains talk a lot about all the great natural foods they carry, but there were pretty slim pickin's and everything was super expensive! If our little co-op can afford to pass on good deals to customers, you'd think Safeway could charge less than $4.99 per pound for organic apples!

I was lucky enough to find a few good items, though. I found organic avocados, organic peanut butter, whole wheat/sunflower seed bread, kidney bean curry, and some organic potato soup. I usually don't go for those Morningstar products, as they don't use organic soy. But, what the hey, I'm letting loose a little while I'm on vacation and I picked up some fake chicken strips.

I couldn't get any canned goods, because my dad's super fancy new house doesn't have a can opener. He has granite countertops and timer-controlled pool cleaning system, but no can opener. My new stepmom will be moving in after their wedding (this weekend) and honeymoon and she has a can opener...so my dad's frugality doesn't allow him to purchase one now.

Today I'm visiting the Spiral Diner- I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things I Want to Eat on my Vacation

I'm visiting my family in Texas right now, so blogging is definitely not my priority. But eating awesome food with my family is!

Here are some things I'd like to eat while in Texas:
On the Border Salsa and fresh chips
El Fenix salsa, guacamole, and corn tortilla
Some local Texas produce (TX grapefruit?)
Something vegan at my dad's wedding (I'll have a Cliff bar just in case, though)
Lots of goodies from the Spiral Diner!

I'll do my best to keep up with posts and take pictures of all the awesome food- but family definitely comes before VeganMoFo, so we'll see...

Nothing Homemade

The Saint Paul school district (like many others) has a policy of not allowing homemade treats in the classroom.  In years past I've blatantly ignored this rule in favor of homemade cupcakes, "indoors s'mores", and such.  But this year I heard there were a lot of allergies in the boys' classes, so I had to check in with the teachers.  And I just couldn't bring myself to break the teachers' rules (big surprise, huh?).

Now, if I could have baked a treat for the kids' classes, this would have been a snap.  {Plus it goes against every inch of my soul to buy store bought baked goods.}  Finding store bought birthday treats without dairy, eggs, wheat, gluten, peanuts, treenuts, or kiwi limits things somewhat.  All the gluten-free vegan cookies and sweets I could find were processed on equipment that touched peanuts.  And the boys did NOT like the idea of bringing carrot sticks or grapes.  

My initial proposal to the kids was popsicles- but they actually decided on Whole Grain Milling organic corn tortilla chips!  I'm really surprised they chose something savory over something sweet, but chips were easy, relatively inexpensive, and definitely free of all the necessary allergens.