Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Queso Haiku

{Disclaimer: the kids are working on Haiku this week. I have 5-7-5 rhythm stuck in my brain}

Chile con Queso
Five years I have yearned
What's a vegan girl to do?
Teese to the rescue!

I stumbled across Homesick Texan's blog today and felt like I found a kindred spirit. Sure, she eats meat and lives in New York, but she's a Texan far from home constantly searching for those taste memories from the South.

Her post on Chile con Queso really hit home. Maybe I shouldn't be ashamed of my fond memories of Velveeta and Rotelle tomatoes. In fact, if it wasn't for the cheese and trans-fats, I'd microwave myself a bowl of Chile con Queso right now.

But like Homesick Texan, I'm not up for eating Velveeta. I can, however, adapt a recipe to suit my snobby tastes.

The following is adapted Homesick Texan's recipe in order to be vegan and allow for me not having any cilantro. Besides, my mom hates cilantro so any Tex-Mex I remember doesn't have any cilantro in it!

Chile Con Vegan Queso Blanco
1/4 onion diced (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 Tbsp minced jalapeño (I like pickled jalapeños)
2 tablespoons of Earth Balance
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 cup of non-dairy milk
1 cup of shredded Teese or other meltable vegan cheese (Yeah, I know, it's expensive and you don't want to part with a whole cup. JUST DO IT!)
2 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup, can use canned if tomatoes aren’t in season)
Salt to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)

1. Melt the Earth Balance in a saucepan on medium-low heat, and then cook the onions and peppers for about five minutes or until onions are translucent.
2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Whisk the flour into the Earth Balance & vegetable mix and cook for about 30 seconds.
4. Add the non-dairy milk to the pot, and cook on medium, whisking constantly until sauce is thick, about five minutes. Stir in the tomatoes.
5. Add the Teese and stir well until completely melted
6. Add salt to taste.
Notes: You can vary which chiles you use to control how hot you want the queso to be. Also, if the sauce is too thick, feel free to add a bit more milk a tablespoon at a time.
Be sure to serve this warm. The Teese tends to solidify when cool.

This "queso" is everything I could ever ask for. Creamy, gooey, spicy, and it sticks to a homemade flour tortilla like you wouldn't believe.

Now I really didn't plan on eating a cup of Teese AND an ice cream sundae today... But I had a long hard day at work and still needed to test out a sundae recipe for a Tex-Mex class I'm doing at the Co-op this weekend. So here we go into ultimate indulgence:

This is a Spicy Mexican Chocolate Sundae. It has So Decadent vanilla ice cream, chopped mangos, Mexican chocolate sauce, and a little Soyatoo whipped topping. Oh, and some extra cayenne pepper on top for good measure.

Here's the Mexican Chocolate Sauce recipe:

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup non dairy milk (coconut would be awesome)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Warm the chocolate chips and milk in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking frequently. When chocolate chips are melted and sauce is smooth, stir in the spices. Serve hot over ice cream. And feel free to add extra cayenne or experiment with other chile powders!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pizza Night!

So that beautiful gluten-free bread I baked this weekend is no longer. We enjoyed about 3 slices before we left the house and the dog stole it off the counter and ate the entire thing. All that is left are the bits of foil that wrapped the loaf- and those are scattered all over the house.

So instead of baking another loaf tonight, I baked pizzas (using Mary Frances' recipe, of course). They had onion, red pepper, green pepper, black olives, rainbow chard, and fresh herbs...and Teese cheese.

I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point I stopped thinking about what would be good on a pizza when choosing toppings and started thinking, "How many vegetables can I cram onto this pizza?" I decided against green beans on this one tonight. Before
Trouble has started sleeping in the dog's kennel. I don't think this is a smart move!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Buckwheat Burgers

These buckwheat burgers are from The Yoga Cookbook, put out by the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers. My education was centered around food and yoga, so I enjoy cookbooks, ancient texts, and modern research that combine the two subjects. This is probably the best cookbook related to yoga that I have found. Its recipes are inspiring, creative, and very simple. They center around sattvic foods, or foods that are pure, simple, and promote a meditative mind.

These buckwheat burgers could not be easier or tastier. I won't reprint the recipe without permission, but I'll tell you that they combine kasha (toasted buckwheat), oats, dulse (I used wakame), carrots, and tamari. I also added in a bit of tahini to help bind them together. Then they are baked for about 20 minutes.

If you haven't used buckwheat before, you should try it! Buckwheat groats cook up in only about 15 minutes and have great flavor.
On the side we had coleslaw and mashed potatoes. The sauce on the burger is a great improv. sauce. Here's approximately what was in it:

2 Tbsp. soybean miso
4 Tbsp flax oil
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp tamari
4 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
4 Tbsp warm water

Whisk it all together until smooth and serve on EVERYTHING!

The real hit of the meal was the coleslaw. The kids ate it first- even before their mashed potatoes!

Here's the dressing recipe (I've probably given it before, but it's a little different every time):
3/4 cup plain soyogurt
3 Tbsp veganaise
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Add pepper if your dining companions will allow you to. Mine refuse pepper of any sort.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I started breaking my fast today with miso soup and mango. I felt super good yesterday and today and have tons of energy...But it was time to eat some food.

The miso soup was really simple and really good, and a bit like congee. Here's what was in it:

1/2 cup cooked rice
1 inch ginger, grated
1 small carrot, finely chopped
4 cups water
2-3 Tbsp. miso (I used 1/2 red pepper miso and 1/2 homemade miso)

Simmer together everything except the miso for about 15 minutes, until the rice is falling apart. Then remove from heat and stir in the miso. You could add in anything to this and it would be great (green onion, tofu, broccoli, asparagus, etc.).

The ginger was great for stimulating my digestion and the rice made it more filling than just a broth.

Later I enjoyed a mango- We only have 4 left in our case!

I couldn't resist doing some baking today, even if I'm not eating cookies yet!
Here's Trouble with some "You got PB in my Chocolate" cookies from ED&BV.

And here's my first try at the Really Good Sandwich Bread from Gluten Free [Cooking School]. Mary Frances always has the best gluten-free recipes and this one is no different. Mike was amazed and thoroughly enjoyed his peanut butter sandwich!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rich as Hell

Well, if I was lacking ideas for good food this week, it has all changed now. Basically anything sounds good right now because I started a juice fast/master cleanse on Wednesday night.

I usually only do a fast about once a year and for 3-4 days at a time- That's plenty for me. It's always a tricky balance for me to get the benefits of a fast without triggering too many eating disorder memories/symptoms from my past. So far I've been doing just fine- and Mike is watching me like a hawk (don't worry, Mom!). Fasting is like a reset button for my diet- Afterwards I make wiser choices.

I also feel like a fast helps me with meditation and keeping a meditative mind for longer. I become more aware of my thoughts, particularly those about food, since I can't eat right now. And, gee whiz, do I think about food a lot! Nearly every time I see an advertisement, a food product, or catch a smell of anything I'll get a craving for something. Normally I don't notice this very much- I'll just choose a craving to follow and eat something to satiate it. The last few days I've been observing my food thoughts and letting them go. It's quite liberating. And I have a lot more free time when I'm not cooking or watching the Food Network or looking at food blogs!

I do feel a bit weird about fasting, though, at a time when so many people in our world are starving. With food prices rising so incredibly high, people worldwide that had food only months ago are actually dying from hunger.

The irony of my situation hit me full force yesterday when I was doing a cooking class/lecture on sustainable and local foods to a group of kids who live in transitional housing. I mean, these kids really don't get enough to eat. And when they do eat, it is whatever is available. They devoured my black bean tacos and homemade salsa like it was their last meal...and the mini chocolate bars were gone before I could say, "Fair Trade". Then there I was, with the privilege of choosing NOT to eat. Sometimes I feel like I don't have very much money, but really, in big scheme of things, I'm rich as hell.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I haven't felt very inspired to cook lately. I've been inspired to garden, sit outside and work sudoku puzzles, ride my bike, take the dog for a walk, and even clean the house...but not cook anything blog-worthy. I've just been cooking rice and beans and greens lately.

I wonder if I'm sick or something's wrong with me?

Mike mentioned that he wants to do a fast/cleanse pretty soon and perhaps it's time for me as well. I usually do a short fast in the springtime, but we've never done one together. I think it might be easier to stick with water and fresh juices if someone's not in the kitchen cooking tater tots. So I might not have food pics to post for the next few days or so...or I might get inspired and go on a baking spree tomorrow. Who knows. For now I think I'll go sit on the deck with the kitties.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mango Madness!

I finally broke down and bought a case of mangos on Friday. How could I pass up 16 organic mangos for $20 (and then 20% off that for my employee discount)? So since Friday, it's been mango everything.

Mango lassi: plain soyogurt with rice milk, mango, agave nectar and rosewater blended up
Mango yogurt: Plain soyogurt with mango chunks, drizzled with agave nectar and sprinkled with cardamom
And of course, plain mango flesh sucked off the pit, my favorite. I have ideas for much more, but we'll see if the mangos last long enough for experimentation.

I do think that I might be slightly allergic to mangos, though. When I eat them, my lips get slightly numb and my tongue itches a bit. Nothing life threatening, so I'll probably continue eating them...At least until the case is used up.

Hannah dog has been enjoying the plethora of mango "bones" and the kitties have been enjoying the sunshine.
Today Mike turned the compost and I prepare the garden beds. I planted some carrots, lettuce, and beans...but I know there's a chance that it'll still freeze again.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Comfort Zone

Tonight I stepped out of my comfort zone. WWWAAAaaaaaayyyyy out of my comfort zone. I auditioned for the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers, the longest running educational and performance clogging group in the country.

They encourage beginners to try out and a several friends encouraged I gave it a shot. This was the first time I've danced in front of anyone since square dance lessons in 5th grade P.E. While I'm 100% sure I will not be the "chosen one" out of the pool of professional dancers, tap dance majors, and long time cloggers that showed up, I am glad I tried.

At the very least, I got to wear a super-cute dress and tap shoes and dance with pretty girls.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

And the award for Best Stepmom goes to...

me, for serving pound cake with bananas and vanilla soyogurt for breakfast. Until they're old enough to need a ride to the tattoo parlor, I'll win their hearts with kick-ass breakfasts.

Tonight we enjoyed the warm temperature with quesadillas (with Teese cheeze on blue corn tortillas) and taco salad. The salad had pressure-cooked black beans, taco-style TVP, carrots, onions, spinach, lettuce, and ranch/salsa dressing. There were pickled jalapeños for the adults.
Overall, it was a big hit. I love watching 8 year-olds devour a huge plate of greens.
What's that? You're wondering why I'm typing funny? Well, that's because I fell backward on my wrists while practicing my clogging tonight. Our floors are pretty slippery with tap shoes on. I'm smeared with arnica oil and hoping nothing bruises.

At least now anytime my wrist hurts I can claim an "old clogging accident". That sounds totally hardcore.

Monday, April 14, 2008

For Jessy

Jessy from Happyveganface just tagged me to name 5 things about me that others may not know. (Everyone should check out her blog because she has really creative and practical recipes). Being asked to list 5 things about myself feeds 2 of my loves: lists and surveys/talking about myself. I sort of feel like anyone who reads my blog already knows everything about me. And if you read my myspace surveys AND my blog, you definitely know everything about me. But surely I can find some interesting things to say... I happily accept the challenge.

1. I really want to start dressing like I just stepped out of Little House on the Prairie. Like with a bonnet and an apron and everything. I already have the bloomers, bonnet, and apron actually. I just need to sew some good calico dresses. I think if Mike goes with his plan to wear only Tibetan monk robes, we would make a very interesting looking couple.

2. I'm vegan, but I still love cheese. I don't plan on eating any, but I love reading about how to make and pair cheeses. Even if I disagree with raising animals for use as food, I appreciate the art of fine artisan cheese making.

3. My ancestors were original Jamestown settlers and I could be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution if I actually applied. I'm related to John Adams (and John Q. Adams), too.

4. I hate soymilk. It grosses me out with its beany taste and my stomach always hurts after I drink it. I wish with all my might that coffee shops would start carrying almond milk for lattes instead of soymilk. Rice milk doesn't cut it either.

5. I like to dance with the dog because it makes her bark really loud and growl at me. The crazier I dance, the more she freaks out. If I just say, "Let's dance, Hannie!", she'll get really angry, jump up on me, and growl. It's great!

I like this. I'll keep going.

6. I have a permanent retainer cemented to my teeth. Luckily the headgear was not permanent.

7. I hate the sound of pencils writing and silverware on plates.

8. I'm allergic to grass, trees (including maple trees), dust, mold, and cats. You should have seen the reaction when Mike started sanding some maple wood in the basement!

9. I really want to get a new tattoo of bluebonnets growing up my left leg.

10. Mice live in our oven at night.

I tag the authors of these blogs:
Happy Herbivore
Vegan Eats & Treats
Walking the Vegan Line
Tasty Turnip

To Do

Usually I spend my weekends cooking up a storm, but last week was so busy that by the time this weekend rolled around, I had a to do list a mile long. It was warm enough to take the plastic off the windows and take down the awful curtains that broke and wouldn't let any light into the house. It was also warm enough to take the kitten outside on a leash. The cutest thing ever was when the dog, Hannah, took the leash out of my hand and started pulling the kitten along! (but she pulled so hard that the safety release broke her collar open and she tried to escape.) The kitten also tried to climb in the drier every time I went into the basement to do laundry.

***I should take the time here to note that although I complain about to-do lists, they are probably my favorite thing in the world to make and update. And I go insane without one. I think Mike hides my lists sometimes, just because he knows I enjoy rewriting them.***

Among sewing curtains, patching holes in the wall, cleaning out the fridge, and vacuuming (until the vacuum cleaner stopped working...great.), I didn't end up cooking much of anything. By Sunday night I was famished and ready to order in Thai food- Except the restaurant I really wanted to try was closed!

I really shouldn't be eating out anyways because I'm trying to reign in my food spending again. My food budgeting goes in waves, really. I have elaborate plans for budgeting and stick with it diligently...until it works and I have extra money. Then I allow myself to spend more. Then I'm back where I started. Right now I'm spending about 15% of my disposable income on food (yes, I track it). While this is more than most Americans spend, it's about average for folks from other (over)developed nations. So considering I eat nearly all organic food, I'm not doing that bad. There. I rationalized my grocery spending.

So anyways, here is what I ended up making on Sunday:
It's Tinkyada gluten-free pasta with my favorite "Parmesan tofu", zucchini, broccoli, and a lemon-red pepper sauce. The tofu I just tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, nutritional yeast, and red pepper and then baked at 450 for about 20 minutes. It puffs up and gets really crispy and reminds me of when I used to eat Parmesan cheese and it would get brown and crispy on garlic toast. I didn't write down measurements for how I made the sauce, but I know that I deglazed the pan with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt and hot water mixed with arrowroot. The sauce thickened up nicely and coated the pasta. Mike thought it needed some tamari, but I liked it with just a bit more red pepper.

I also made the chocolate-chocolate chip-walnut cookies from Veganomicon- but with oat and barley flour instead of wheat. WOW! These are really good cookies! I just love the flavor of oat and barley flour. Sadly, I cannot share them with my gluten-free buddy... but I can share them with Mike and my newly wheat-free pal. And I'm sure they won't last long.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Soup and Pasta

Just when I thought Spring had come, we got a cold front. And now we are expecting a foot of snow tonight. So my diet will continue with wintery warming foods a bit longer. This soup is perfect for a cold rainy/snowy day.

Black Eyed Pea-Nut Stew

1 cup dry black eyed peas
4 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oil
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. tamari
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup hot water
1 medium yam, cubed
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)
salt to taste

Combine peas, water, salt, and oil in a pressure cooker. Bring up to pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Allow to cool slowly until pressure is released. (You could also cook these in a regular pot). In a bowl, whisk together the ginger, lime juice, peanut butter, tamari, and hot water until smooth.

Add the peanut butter mixture, yam, and carrot (and jalapeño, if using) to the cooked black eyed peas and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until yams and carrots are tender. Add salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro and serve with corn chips for dipping.

This week I received my Teese! True to their promise, this cheeze tastes like real mozzarella and melts well. I mixed up a casserole full of Cashew Ricotta, gluten free penne, broccoli and marinara sauce. Then I topped it with the Teese and baked it until it melted.
As you can see, we dug in right away!

Tonight I really wanted pasta and cheese, but I also needed to use up a free eggplant that was about to go bad. So I simmered the eggplant with olive oil, cumin seeds, salt, red pepper, coriander, and canned tomatoes. For the pasta, I used Eden Organic's kamut pasta. How can you resist pasta that gives 10 grams of protein, 15% of your iron, and 6 grams of fiber in 1/2 cup of pasta?!

And since it is distantly related to wheat, I get to eat it all myself! Sorry Mike!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My week

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. This past week included volunteering at a food bank, Mike's birthday, big news at work, and a 3 day yoga workshop. I haven't been this busy since I was in school!

Tuesday night I went with co-op folks to volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank. We took the labels off of cans of organic tomatoes and relabeled them with stickers bearing the correct ingredient lists. I think the original labels incorrectly identified the oregano and basil as being organic, so the company donated the cans to the food bank (selling them with incorrect labels = hefty fines). It was great to see the food shelves getting organic tomatoes! Although the work was a bit tedious and (I hate to say it- I hope the organic inspectors aren't reading this) pointless, I felt simultaneously relaxed and productive when I was done.

On Wednesday we found out that when our co-op's lease (at the Randolph store) is up in Dec 2009, we'll be expanding to a new location on W. 7th. It's a relief to finally have a location secured. Even if I don't usually work at that location, Mike does and I do almost all my grocery shopping at that store. I'm thrilled that next year I'll be able to walk 6 blocks to the store!
At the same time, I know lots of folks are really sad that the store won't be in exactly the same neighborhood so I can't help but empathize. Co-op members take a lot of pride and ownership in our stores (we are owners after all) so when anything changes (from moving the canned beans to moving the store) it can be pretty traumatic. Now comes the fun part of planning a new store!

On Thursday it was Mike's birthday and he chose a (gluten-free) vanilla cake with caramel filling and chocolate frosting. This was my first time making an actual cake gluten-free instead of just cupcakes, but it turned out pretty good.

Saturday morning I made breakfast and we ate outside on the deck because it was so beautiful outside. I think it got up to 60! We had yogurt-herb potatoes that were somewhere between mashed potatoes and potato salad. They had a soyogurt, green onion, and parsley dressing but were kinda mashed, so I don't know what to call them. But they were really good and tasty cold the next day as well. The tofu scramble was a bit plain because we had no veggies in the house except 2 tomatoes and an onion. But it went really well with the potatoes and gave me plenty of protein to keep up with my yoga workshop that day.
I'm on the Board for the Iyengar Yoga Association of Minnesota and on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we sponsored a workshop with Neeta Datta. She has a great way of teaching- somehow she could say things that I've heard before and it just clicked with me more. The classes were strenuous, but very focused on going within your own body and keeping your mind and eyes soft. Right now my muscles aren't feeling so soft- they're feeling more sore. But it was a great weekend! On Saturday night we held a dinner for anyone attending the workshop and I made Isa's Vanilla Yogurt Pound Cake from Veganomicon with a soft ganache topping and California strawberries. Yum! I have an entire cake leftover, though, because we weren't sure how many people to expect. I know I should freeze it for a rainy day...

But today IS a rainy day!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kitten Yoga

When Crystal and I were doing yoga on Sunday, the kitten decided to do yoga with us. Trouble's approach is to try to absorb the benefits of yoga through osmosis- by laying on people doing yoga. Here we are in savasana:
And on the meditation cushion:
Then tonight I was in Viparitta Karani on a block when Trouble jumped up on my belly and started to knead!
I think she's really into this.

And because this is a food blog, not a yoga blog, I'll post up a picture of a great classic macrobiotic dinner we had last week. This is brown rice, adzuki beans cooked with kombu and kale, and a mix of roasted yams and carrots. The leftovers were great in my lunch all week and I felt very virtuous.