Sunday, February 28, 2010

Not Your Usual Cereal

To say I'm not a fan of cereal is an understatement.  Aside from snacking on some dry granola or craving Grape Nuts about once per year, I don't eat cereal and I don't miss it.  There's just something about sugary crunchy shapes getting soggy in milk that just grosses me out beyond belief.

The only cereal exception for me is Erewhon organic crispy brown rice cereal (and I promise they're not paying me to write this).  While I wouldn't DREAM of ruining them with milk, I love eating them in savory ways.

They make a great crunchy coating for baked or panfried tofu- I always use them when I make "fish" sticks.  Anytime I need gluten free bread crumbs, I just put some of these rice puffs in a baggie and whack them with my big wooden rolling pin.  Super easy!

I also attempt to make Indian style savory rice puff snacks with this cereal. I first heard about this traditional Indian street food years ago in a book: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.  The book opens with one of the main characters mixing up Rice Krispies and peanuts with lemon juice, salt, red onion and green chilies to make the snack she remembers eating in Calcutta.  I was fascinated with this combination and knew I would love it before even tasting it.  [The book is also one of my all-time favorites]

Last week Everest on Grand Ave. had Jhaal Muri in their condiment bar and it was everything I'd imagined. As far as I can tell, it's pretty similar to this recipe.

So today I mixed up my own version to accompany an Indian meal tomorrow night.  Except I ate it all and now I have to make more for tomorrow!  It's spicy, tart, crunchy and just all around amazing.  I could eat waaaayyyy too much of this!

These black eyed peas have turmeric, ginger, tomatoes, mustard seeds, roasted peppers, tomatoes, fennel, cumin, cilantro and asafoetida.  Yum!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


We've been eating some serious vegetables around here lately.  Maybe it's penance for baking a double batch of brownies and cowboy cookies in the past 2 weeks, but it sure is delicious.  

The local carrots are still rockin' my world and my favorite way to eat them is with ranch dressing.

Last night's dinner was veggie central.  I prepped shredded carrots, thin slices of cucumber, minced cilantro, minced mint, avocado slices and chopped green onions this weekend so dinner took only as long as rolling the spring rolls.  I also included some baked tofu that marinated in OJ and ginger overnight and thin rice noodles doused in the leftover marinade.

I made a whole big pile of them!

We ate every last one of these while watching curling.  I used a dipping sauce made of lime juice, Bragg's aminos, lemongrass-infused oil, and ginger.

Yum!  Next veggie fest will be the cauliflower and broccoli curry that's going in the crockpot in the morning.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Creamy Cashew Mushroom Soup

A few days ago I tweeted about homemade cream of mushroom soup and a few folks asked for the recipe.  So here it is!

Creamy Cashew Mushroom Soup
1 cup raw cashew pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Hot water
1 Tbsp. Earth Balance margarine
15 button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 small yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced and diced
1 quart water or unsweetened almond milk
1 bouillon cube
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
Lots of coarsely ground black pepper

Put cashew pieces, garlic and lemon juice in a small cup (if you have an immersion blender) or blender.  Pour hot water over the cashews- just enough to cover.  Set aside for about 20 minutes or until water has cooled.

Heat Earth Balance in a large saucepan.  Add sliced mushrooms and saute until they are softened and release their juices.  Then add the potatoes and either broth or almond milk or a bit of both.  Drop in the bouillon cube.  Bring to a light simmer and simmer until potatoes are tender and bouillon is dissolved.

Retrieve your soaked cashews and puree the cashew/garlic/lemon mixture until very smooth.  This works best with a fancy-schmancy blender, but even my cheap one works okay with these quick-soaked cashews.
Then stir the pureed cashews into the mushroom soup and heat through.  It's best if you don't boil it after this point.  Add salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste.  I recommend serving with toast or some crackers.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quick Fix

I talked to a friend last night who confirmed my suspicion that I'm not the only person that eats straight up peanut butter and chocolate chips with a spoon.  It feels good to have company.  Since it's out in the open now, I'll confess another sinful treat that I just discovered.

This snack takes the delightful sugar-topped texture and flavor of the Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodle from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, but with about 2 seconds of prep time and zero effort.

Spicy Cinnamon Nuts
1/8 cup peanuts
1/8 cup chocolate chips
Just a smidge of oil
Sprinkle of sugar
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Dash of cayenne pepper

All you do is mix up the nuts and chips then put about a 1/4 tsp. of oil on a spoon and use the spoon to stir up the nuts/chips.  They just need to be sticky enough to hold the spices and sugar.  Then sprinkle on the rest of the ingredients and stir again. It's like a sweet and spicy and chocolatey trail mix dessert.  It's kinda messy, so I just ate mine with a little spoon.

You could probably turn this into a real recipe and roast the nuts before adding the chocolate or something, but then you'd have to put effort into it.  The beauty of this is that you just stir it up in a little cup and get your fix.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Beans, Greens, Rice

Just a quick note about dinner last night because it was so scrumptious...and because it was also my breakfast this morning and my lunch.  

Even though this dinner was really just beans and rice with some greens, it felt kinda fancy.  The risotto had lots of red peppers, fennel seed, peas and white wine (loosely based on the Fennel Breakfast Risotto in the Vegan Brunch cookbook).  I forgot to soak my cannellini beans in advance and there's no way I'd cook my beans without soaking them, so I picked up a couple of cans at the co-op and simmered them with sun-dried tomatoes, homegrown dried sage and lots of garlic and lemon.  They ended up tasting like they had simmered all day- very flavorful!  Kale's on sale this week, so I picked up a couple of big bunches of lacinato and just sauteed them with garlic and tamari.

The kids especially loved the risotto and Mike really liked it all mixed together (of course).  I pan-fried the risotto with some vegan sausage for breakfast and it was pretty awesome.  This is a meal I could eat frequently.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Can Jam: Pickled Coriander Carrots

I don't usually do much canning in the winter time.  It's really all about preserving the local foods for me and there's just not much going on from local farmers in MN right now that needs to be preserved (for vegans at least...For meat and dairy eaters, there are plenty of year-round local foods!)

This year, though, the folks at Featherstone Farm (WI) were really smart about their carrot storage.  I'm not exactly sure how they managed it, but they've been supplying Mississippi Market with local carrots since the summer and they still taste like they were just picked!

So when Doris and Jilly announced that this month's Can Jam was all about carrots, I started sifting through my canning books for a good base recipe.  I knew I wanted to pickle them because I never turn down the option to douse something in vinegar, salt and spices.  The Dilled Carrots recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving sounded great- basically just a very concentrated vinegar solution and spices with some carrots sticks and garlic.

I really wanted to add in some crushed coriander and cumin because I LOVE how those taste with carrots.  So I did.

Here's the basic recipe I used for about 3 1/2 pints:

Pickled Coriander Carrots
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup canning salt (will reduce this next time)
6 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 Tbsp. cumin seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp. red chile flakes
1.5 lbs. carrots, trimmed and peeled and cut into sticks that will fit under a 1/2 inch headspace in your pint jars and no more than 3/4 inch in diameter.

Get your canner warming up with 3-4 pint sized jars and water to cover inside.  Heat the vinegars, water and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil to dissolve the salt.  Begin warming new lids.

Once jars have heated, put 2 cloves garlic and 1/3 of the spices in each jar.  Tightly pack the carrots in the jar vertically.  Ladle vinegar solution over the carrots, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and wipe rims of jars.  Place warmed lids on jars and tighten screw bands to "fingertip tight".

Place jars in canner and make sure there's enough water to cover by at least 1 inch over the lids.  Bring water in canner to a boil and process for 10 minutes.  Then remove jars and allow to cool away from drafts.  When completely cool,  remove bands, label and store.

***I opted to open one jar of these carrots the very next day to see how they turned out (I wanted to taste them before deciding if I should make more).  The verdict is that they're freakin' amazing, but also amazingly salty.  Just like the Dilly Bean recipes that I know so well, half the salt is still enough to have a really flavorful product.  Or you could rinse the carrots before serving, but that just seems weird.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Like I mentioned in my last post, I'm on a really big homemade body care kit right now.  This mouthwash is super duper easy to make and doesn't use any ingredients that are weird or too hard to find- I got everything I needed at the Co-op (of course). So if you want to save a lot of money on mouthwash, give it a try!  

Peppermint-Clove Mouthwash
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. witch hazel (optional)
1 tsp. vegetable glycerin (optional)
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1 drop of  peppermint essential oil
1 drop of tea tree oil 
1 drop clove oil

I can't believe how awesome this stuff feels and tastes!  It's super refreshing and I can pronounce all the ingredients, unlike most mouthwashes.  The glycerin makes it taste kinda sweet and feel less drying, but isn't necessary.  It does make it feel more like conventional mouthwash, though.  Be sure to only use good quality essential oils for this.  And don't swallow!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Last month I went to a class all about bath soaks,scrubs and cremes and it only fed my obsession with making things myself that are easily purchased.  Now I can't stop making body care products.  I scrub my hands with olive oil-sea salt-citrus scrub and soak in lavender-clove Epsom salts.  I've mixed up homemade mouthwash, lip balm and deodorant.  And now I've made my own potion.

By potion, I mean lotion.  That's just what my family calls it.  This isn't just any potion, though.  It's Rosemary-Mint Body Butter.  It's filled with fair trade shea butter, cocoa butter, organic coconut oil and evening primrose oil.  And it's all whipped up in a blender until it looks like the most amazing butter cream frosting you've ever seen.  I almost want to eat it (Hannah Dog DID eat some).

The sad thing is that I can't share the recipe because I didn't write it and it belongs to the teacher of the class...But if I tweak it next time and make the recipe my own, then I'll share!  If you want to take the class, though, she's teaching at Linden Hills Co-op tomorrow and next week-  Here's the schedule.

For now, I'm set with enough potion to last me a while, even in this horribly dry, cold weather.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Burgers and Broccoli

When I get a craving, I just go with it.  This week I was craving a big burger like nothing else.  Actually...I should say that I was craving pickles, ketchup and raw onion.  In my opinion, it's usually the condiments that make or break a burger.  

So I picked up some Rudi's Organic burger buns and some Amy's "All American" burgers after work in preparation for my burger.  Anyone else love using a toaster oven to make a cheeseburger?  I was cooking for one, so I just popped a patty with cheeze into the little broiler and it was perfect!  I had some home-canned pickles on the side and ketchup from the recipe in How it All Vegan (yum!).  Veganaise brought it all together into the most satisfying burger!

After repeating the exact same burger for lunch the next day, I realized that in 24 hours the only vegetables I'd had were the little lettuce leaves, raw onion and pickles on the burgers.  And ketchup, if you count that sort of thing.  Uh oh.  Time for some veggies!!!

So for dinner the next night, I decided to go broccoli crazy and have a stir-fry without the rice.

I cooked up TWO heads of broccoli, a portabello mushroom, a handful of cremini mushrooms (really just baby portabellos, anyways) and green onions.  The sauce included Golden Nugget Tangerine/Mandarin juice and zest, tamari, a crushed Thai chile, tons of ginger and garlic and cornstarch to thicken it all up.  I ate nearly the entire thing!  I felt much better about my vegetable consumption after this meal!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Gluten-Free Pizza Vibe

Mike and I don't exactly think alike, but sometimes we're on the exact same wavelength.  Thursday night was a great example.  I read Gluten Free Girl's blog post about her gluten free boule and immediately started mixing up the dough.  As it was rising in the oven, Mike called from work to ask if there was any way I could start a gluten free pizza crust so that he could make pizza when he got home.  I got to say, "It's already in the oven, honey!"

It turns out that the dough is tasty as a crusty boule OR a pizza crust.  Here's the play-by-play:

I used a bit of waxed paper to flatten the dough out on a parchment covered baking sheet.  This dough was much easier to work with than my usual pizza dough.  It's dotted with sun-dried tomatoes and dried rosemary from my garden.

Then I added Muir Glen pizza sauce (my favorite pre-made variety) and big handfuls of spinach.

Next came thinly sliced portobello mushroom, thinly sliced sweet onion and peppadew peppers

Last, a bit of Vegan Gourmet cheese.  Cheddar, because that's what was in the fridge.

The finished pizza!  The cheese definitely didn't melt this time, probably because it just didn't need to cook very long.  I probably could have broiled it, but I didn't want to delay the pizza-eating.  The crust and the peppadew peppers really made this something special.  Mike recommended more herbs next time and I agree- I couldn't taste all that rosemary in the dough!

Here's the other half of the dough, made into a little free-form loaf.  I topped it with my favorite hibiscus salt because purple salt is always pretty.  Mike was so excited to have GF bread to eat the next day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Homemade Cat Toys!

Warning: this post has nearly nothing to do with food.  But it is about kitties and unmated socks.

My cats suffer for lack of good toys.  I hesitate to buy cute little mousie toys with bells and such because they just lose them under the couch.  But then the cats get lazy and don't play like good kitties should.  Here's my solution:

Homemade Sock Mice
Sort of like a sock monkey, but full of cat drugs

You'll need:
1 old unmated sock, without holes
2 Tbsp. of dried catnip
1 handful of crinkly plastic or wax paper
1-2 twisty ties
A Sharpie

Trim your sock down to a size appropriate for your cat's mouse.  Stuff the sock full of crinkly plastic, paper, or bells.  Sprinkle the catnip all over inside the sock.  Twist the end and secure with a twisty tie (leave the ends sticking out for the cat to enjoy).  Make a little mousie face on the sock with your Sharpie.  Then let your cat sniff it briefly and throw it across the room.  Fun things happen.

Here's an action shot:

You can always add more catnip when needed!