Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween and Veganomicon

Only once a year do I post a picture of the kids on the internet- that's when they're wearing masks on Halloween. We watch way too much Law and Order SVU to put the boys faces on the web. So here's your one picture: Two Evil Knights!

I was super excited to be Nancy Drew for Halloween. I may have been the only person who saw and enjoyed the new Nancy Drew movie, but at least I know I'm not the only one who loved the books. Almost everyone recognized me as Nancy Drew, but only after I pulled out my magnifying glass- otherwise I just looked like I was dressed normally. Ha!
I just got Veganomicon, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's new megacookbook, in the mail yesterday. How overwhelming! I couldn't nail down a single item to try yesterday because everything looked so good. But today I decided to just choose something and cook it.

First I made the Chewy Oatmeal Cookies, but substituted 1/2 dried cranberries and 1/2 chocolate chips instead of the raisins. I'd also like to make these just as oatmeal cookies- no raisins, chips, or anything. They are really nice cookies- great chewy texture and perfect spice blend. I might have even liked them with raisins, but I just can't help doctoring a recipe.
Then I made the Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Spring Rolls. These were super duper simple- just rice noodles, roasted squash, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds in rice paper wrappers. Fabulous idea to put in pumpkin seeds, but you should not use the pumpkin seeds from your Halloween pumpkins that you toasted. Use the kind that have the shells removed. Trust me. I had to open up my spring rolls and remove my seeds because they were soggy and un-chewable! But without the seeds they were awesome! They taste very healthy, but not in a boring bland way. In a really fresh and pure way.

By now I decided that these foods really should be my second dinner, not just fun with my new cookbook. (I often just start cooking without regard for my hunger level or mealtimes. For example, I had just eaten two bowls of stir-fry and rice before beginning this cooking spree)
I needed to add some protein to this meal, so I made the Asian Marinated Tofu and baked it.
Yum! They were nice and spicy. I might even put these tofu sticks inside the spring rolls next time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vegetables, Jack-o-lanterns, and a Root Beer River

This past weekend was both crazy and incredibly relaxing. Friday was fun- the kids and I carved Jack-o-lanterns while Mike's band practiced. The kids did a really good job of drawing faces and I didn't cut any fingers off carving them! The pumpkin seeds turned out really nice, too. I spiced them with cumin, coriander, and chili powder.

On Saturday we had to clear out the garden, because there was a chance of freezing weather and we were going out of town for our anniversary. So here's the bounty:

We also filled 16 gallon baggies with lacinato kale, green curly kale, and collard greens for freezing. We gave away about 6 more bags and still have an entire row of red Russian kale. Anyone need any greens?

Since we were going on a road trip to Lutsen on Lake Superior, we needed plenty of road food. These "You got peanut butter in my chocolate" Cookies from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan were perfect! Probably my new favorite cookie.

Here's us looking silly and cold in front of Lake Superior.
The highlights of this trip include:
Losing $9 in a casino
Jacuzzi, tator tots, and Desperate Housewives
Hiking up down-hill ski slopes in amazing 50 degree sunny weather for 3 hours
Seeing the Cascade River Falls (it looks like a river of root beer)
Sipping chocolate, Jacuzzi, and CSI
And eating tempeh reubens with my sweetie

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Spicy Pinto Yam Soup

This soup only took about 45 minutes to make...and 30 of those minutes were used up just doing the dishes so that there were spoons and bowls to use! Really, this is so quick and easy I think anyone could do it.

Spicy Pinto Yam Soup
Serves 4

2 medium yams, peeled and diced
1 16 oz can pinto beans, drained
6 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado, peeled and diced
pickled jalapeños (optional, but highly recommended)

Put everything except the cilantro, avocado, and jalapeños in a pot and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the yams are tender. Puree for a few seconds with an immersion blender, leaving some texture (or skip this step for a more brothy and chunky soup). Throw the cilantro, avocado, and jalapeños on top when you serve this and it'll look real pretty.

*If you can't find pickled jalapeños in the grocery store, you should pickle your own! It's really not that hard and then you can say that you have 24 jars of jalapeños on hand at any given time. You know, just in case there's a bird flu outbreak and you have to survive solely on the food in your basement. I think it's good to plan ahead.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Food for 8-Year-Olds

The boys turn 8 years old tomorrow and I wanted to make the ultimate kid dinner for their little party tonight. So after being inspired by iloveyoubobbybrowns's post on the PPK, I decided on Macaroni 'n Cheese Pizza. I used the New Farm Mac & Cheese recipe on top of a 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 white flour & pesto crust. I debated about whether or not to put tomato sauce under the mac n cheese, and decided on a thin layer. I thought it turned out great- but it was so rich and so filling that I was about to explode after eating 3 small squares of it. There were some serious carbs in this dinner. The boys really enjoyed it, but I think I was more excited about it than they were.

Everyone in our house gets their choice of birthday cake flavor each year. This year the boys chose chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting (I didn't even have to suggest this combo to them...but I would have). Wow. It was incredible! I used Dreena Burton's chocolate cake recipe with a bit of extra cocoa powder and 2 layers instead of 3. Then I used Isa and Terry's Peanut Buttercream from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and a ganache topping.
I've never had a piece of cake in front of me and not been able to finish it. But tonight, after that pizza (and licking lots of beaters and snacking on frosting), I couldn't finish my last two bites. I was in a sugar coma for hours.
Here's what I made the kids for their birthday present. It's a "Spy Belt". It has a magnifying glass, mini pen and notebook, mini flashlight, measuring tape, fingerprinting kit (black eyeshadow for powder, a mini make-up brush, and tape), and a mini digital camera. They totally loved them!
Here's what we're bringing to share with their class tomorrow- Indoors S'mores! It's just graham cracker halves spread with chocolate ganache and Ricemellow creme and sandwiched together. Yum!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Seitan Stew, Curry Squash with Zucchini Pancakes, and Orange Scones

I must have seen a Dinty Moore commercial or something, because I was craving stew for several days before I got to make this Seitan Stew with Chanterelle Mushrooms. I made seitan with "beefy" type seasonings (miso, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and onion) and flattened it out on a baking sheet and baked for 30 minutes at 350F. I've been using this method for all my seitan lately. It turns out crispy and browned on the outside and still tender on the inside. Someday I'll post a real recipe. Then I made a stew with the seitan, carrots, potatoes, and onion. Thick and hearty!
I had no idea what I was making for dinner tonight until it just happened.

Curried Squash, Chickpeas, and kale
5 heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 cups mashed butternut squash (or pumpkin or anything like that)
1 cup chopped kale or greens of any sort
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

Fry up the onion in the oil and when almost transluscent, add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, throw in everything else and simmer about 15 minutes or longer, depending on if you remembered to start the brown rice yet.

The zucchini pancakes are from James Peterson's book called "Vegetables". They absorbed too much oil, I thought, but had good flavor with tons of garlic and sage.

***Do not rest freshly fried foods on recycled paper napkins if you don't have any paper towels. They are paper thin and will stick to your food. Trust me. You're better off just eating the extra oil or ruining a cuptowel.

Orange Glazed Scones from Vegan with a Vengeance are my favorite scones ever. I "accidentally" made too much glaze and had to eat it with a spoon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Too deep for food pictures in this blog, Sorry!

How ironic that I missed my favorite guilty pleasure yesterday, America's Next Top Model, to give a lecture on eating disorders and vegetarianism.

As a vegan who has survived an eating disorder, these subjects are an interest of mine that I've done a good bit of research on. So when a former professor of mine asked me to speak to her class about one of the two- I said yes to both!

Studies show that there is a correlation between people who identify as vegetarian and those who have eating disorders. It doesn't necessarily mean that being vegetarian will cause an eating disorder, just that folks who have eating disorders are more likely to identify as vegetarians/vegans. Since saying you're a vegetarian is an easy, socially acceptable way to decline food, a person with an eating disorder might identify as vegetarian in order to lose weight. While knew of maybe only one other vegetarian in my town, I met about 4 in my eating disorder group.

Researchers have found that both vegetarians and people with eating disorders tend to strive for control, purity, and identity through food. In a way, both the vegetarian and the eating disordered person draw some of their identity though what they do and do not eat (Although obviously one can be in a healthy way and the other is never healthy).

I remember the moment I started to recover from my anorexia. I was sitting at a table in the outpatient facility where my group, individual, and family therapy was held. I had been in therapy for months, but wasn't trying to get well. I was still trying to outsmart my parents and therapists. So they staged an intervention of sorts. My group counselor told me that there was no way that I could recover from the eating disorder and stay a vegetarian. She said that meat was a "fear food" for me and that I was listening to my disease by choosing to be a vegetarian (we often talked about differentiating our own minds from the "voice of anorexia" in therapy). She and my parents agreed that if I refused to eat meat, they would send me to an inpatient hospital out of the state and tube feed me meat.

I lost it. I stood up and screamed "Fuck You" and refused to continue the conversation. And I got well. I remember after that point being actually motivated to get healthy (not all the time, but I at least had moments of clarity). And until yesterday I always assumed that it was my stubbornness that made me want to get well. You know, to prove they were wrong and I was right.

But when I was describing this moment to the class yesterday, I realized that what motivated me wasn't only stubbornness (although that undoubtedly was a factor). Being a vegetarian was one shred of my identity that survived the years of depression and disordered eating that preceded that moment. Telling me that my drive to be a vegetarian was the "anorexia talking" was like saying that the one part of myself that I still KNEW, wasn't really me.

I was a vegetarian for about 4 years before I developed anorexia and I've been a vegetarian/vegan for the 11 years since then. While some people use vegetarianism as an excuse to eat less food or skip meals while suffering from an eating disorder, that was not the case in my situation. Maybe my therapists knew that. Maybe they planned this whole thing.
I think they'd be proud of me, even if I am a vegan.

***If you would like references to the studies I cited here, just email. You know I've got them.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Rainbow of a Meal

After eating chocolate cake, rhubarb/mulberry pie, Portobello Florentine from Pizza Luce, Spicy Garlic Mock Duck from Vina, and Deluxe Biscuits and Gravy from the Seward all in 2 days, I was ready for either a juice fast or a really healthy meal. I opted for the healthy meal.
I cooked brown rice and cannellini beans. I seasoned the cannellini beans with fresh squeezed orange juice and zest, cumin, and chili powder. I unearthed MORE of last year's kale in the freezer and sauteed a gallon baggie's worth with garlic gomasio and Bragg's. I baked tofu with the same OJ, cumin, and chili powder that the beans got. And then I steamed beets over the beans and ended up with pink/orange beans. The sauce on the beets is more OJ, cumin, and chili powder with tahini. We all loved it, although the kids had to douse their beets in Bragg's to eat them, and I knew Mike wouldn't eat his beets (More for me!!!)
It's definitely the most colorful meal I've made in a while.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Rhubarb-Mulberry Pie

As soon as my dad announced he was coming to visit, he made it clear that he would need a rhubarb pie (and a foot rub) as a belated birthday present. My favorite present to give people is food, so I was happy to oblige.

The pie crust is the "Flaky Pie Crust" from Garden of Vegan. I used the last of the rhubarb from the garden with some of the mulberries from the berry patch that we froze this year (about 4 cups fruit total). I tossed the fruit with 1/3 cup of flour and 1/3 cup of sugar (approximately) and about 1/4 tsp. each of powdered ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Then I topped it with a mixture of 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sliced almonds, more ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and a drizzle of oil until it got crumb-y. I baked it for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

My dad and I ate almost 1/2 the pie!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Chocolate Cake and Gyros

I'm not usually inspired to cook from what I see in the bathroom, but this week I was. Mike's stepdad is "helping" us redo the tile in our shower. (And by "helping", I mean he is doing all the work and we're mostly watching but also learning). As I was smoothing the thick, creamy adhesive over the bare cement board in the shower I couldn't help but get a craving for frosting. I knew I had to bake a cake.

I've been wanting to try Dreena Burton's Triple Layer Chocolate Cream Cake. I'm always on the lookout for cakes and other baked goods that are decadent but not too oily or sugary. This recipe for frosting only has a bit of maple syrup and melted chocolate chips for sweeteners and the cake only has 1/4 cup of oil. That's pretty good for a huge, rich three layer chocolate cake. But I only have 2 round cake pans, so mine is only 2 layers. But they're big layers!

The batter is delicious.
The cake is delicious.
The inside shot.

My Dad is visiting this weekend and I wanted to cook something really tasty to precede the chocolate cake, but I didn't have a ton of time. And I wasn't inspired until Mike was bragging about the awesome gyro he had at the Seward Cafe this afternoon. I decided that I needed a gyro today, too.
I used Holy Land bread, made a tsaziki sauce of Wildwood plain soy yogurt, cucumber, dill, minced onion, and a splash of vinegar, and topped it with thinly sliced seitan, onions, and peppers and lettuce. Oh, and a head of minced garlic is all over that seitan.

On the side I served a quick tabouli with bulgar, tomato, parsley, onion, cucumber, lemon juice, and flax oil. The dolmas are from a can, which I am ashamed to admit. I'll make them from scratch next time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Inappropriate Food

My mom tells me that when I was a little girl the other parents questioned her about whether or not I was abused because they heard that kids who are abused tend to dress inappropriately. You see, my mom always let me dress myself. And I liked to wear sundresses in the winter and sweaters in the summer (not due to any kind of abuse, I assure you. Just because that's what I liked). I dress appropriately for the weather now...but my cooking is a bit inappropriate.

We got a warm spell this past week (over 80 in Minnesota in October? ) and that happened to coincide with my cravings for a hot breakfast of Cheese Grits and a dinner of Lasagna. The temperature in our house was about 86 degrees and I was firing up the oven!

These "Cheese Grits" are really just polenta with some nutritional yeast and a bit of Vegan Gourmet cheeze grated in and tons of salt and pepper. I added some collard greens, too. It makes me feel like I'm sitting at my grandma's table in Virginia!

I raked in some serious veggies from the garden this week! We're still getting tons of tomatoes, broccoli, and chilies.

For the Lasagna, I wanted to use as many veggies as possible. I roasted our first pumpkin from the garden with the biggest yam I've ever seen from the co-op. Then I added salt, chili powder, and cumin and mashed them up with some soymilk.
Then I sauteed onions, garlic, collard greens, and kale and added some of the pesto from last year that I really have to use up.
I whisked together a simple bechamel sauce and layered lasagna noodles with the yam/pumpkin mash, greens, and bechamel sauce. I topped it with fresh heirloom tomatoes and...
Cheezly cheese!!! It just came in from VeganEssentials! I can't believe how freaking good it is!
(so good it makes me look terrified!)

Here it is all melty on top...
The slices were sloppy and cheesy and good! The whole family devoured it.

Now it's 40 degrees and I want ice cream.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Vegan Junk Food

I think people generally have the perspective that a vegan diet consists entirely of carrots, granola, and tofu. I'd like this post to be dedicated to dispelling that myth and showing that vegans can eat just as much junky American food as the next guy/gal. At least in this house.

I came home late on Friday night and wanted nothing more than insane amounts of high fat, salty junk food. So I brought home the Turtle Island Tofurky Brats, sauerkraut, pickles, roasted red peppers, and Veganaise. I fried up a ton of onions, green peppers, the roasted red peppers, sauerkraut, and the brats, then slopped it all on a bun slathered with Veganaise. It was everything I hoped it would be.
This next pic is blurry, but you needed a close up to understand just how good this was.
Two nights ago Mike came home and gave me what every girl wants from her partner. Nachos.
These had Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet mozzarella over Bearitos yellow corn chips with my homemade pickled jalapeños. You just can't get any better than this.
My next post will be a good little vegan post of seaweed and brown rice only, I promise.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Cauliflower, Two Ways

Cauliflower isn't my favorite vegetable of all time, but I always enjoy it. It's a vegetable that I look at in the store and think, "Nah, I'll get something more colorful". But really, it's so freaking good and good for me that I should eat it every day! I got a free head of cauliflower from the co-op a few days ago and brought it home...only to find out that the one cauliflower plant in the garden has suddenly produced the most beautiful head in the world (see above)! So I have to eat this free one so that I can harvest the one from the garden before it's past its prime.

Last night I was home by myself (amazing!) and wanted a really healthy dinner- Perfect time to use the cauliflower. I heated a bit of olive oil in a skillet and added chopped cauliflower, broccoli from the garden, and a carrot. I let that cook just until it was starting to lose its crunch and added some leftover brown rice, 1/2 a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, some thyme, and salt and pepper. I just let that heat through. Then I mixed up about 1/2 cup plain Wildwood soy yogurt with a tablespoon of Veganaise, and a couple of tablespoons of the artichoke marinade and added it to the pan. I really didn't expect this to be so flavorful! The vegetables were crisp-tender and the sauce was creamy, but not heavy at all. I ate it all!

Tonight I had two sick boys with me and wanted to use up more cauliflower. They're really good vegetable eaters, so I wasn't too worried. I did need something really quick, though, because they were "starving" three hours after their last meal of Pizza Luce pizza!

I cooked up some rice (I took the time to make brown rice, but it really would have been a lot faster if I had just used basmati. Honestly, I usually take some much time cooking that 40 minutes for some rice is kinda quick.) While that was cooking I heated a bit of olive oil and sauteed some chopped cauliflower, carrot, and red onion in the skillet. When it was starting to get tender and the onions were translucent...almost golden brown...I added some brown mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and ground coriander. I would have added salt here, but I accidentally dumped a bunch in the rice.

Then I added a can of Jyoti Madras Sambar (Lentils with fresh vegetables). Does anyone else adore this stuff as much as me? It's flavorful beyond belief and good straight out of the can on a camping trip, or added to rice, or as a sauce. Mike likes his on bread with tofu jerky for an interesting Indian/White trash sandwich.

Anyways, I added the Sambar with a bit of water to thin it out and mixed in the rice when it was done. I served it with an easy yogurt sauce made with Wildwood plain soy yogurt, lemon juice, fresh chopped tomato, and a bit of ground coriander. And a bit of salt.

The kids gobbled it up, as did I. I love cauliflower!

But not as much as I love those PB Caramel Apple Bars. We've got about 2 left in the fridge right now. I already ate two tonight. I want to eat them all! They are so good cold- unlike a lot of baked desserts, I really would recommend waiting until they are chilled to eat them. I didn't believe the other 600 bloggers who have written about serving this dessert. But now I know for myself. Eat them cold and bake them often.