Friday, October 31, 2008

VeganMoFo is over!

I worked a measly five hours today, and still came home and did a Homer dive into my bed. I was awakened three hours later to Bowie biting my fingers (this means "Feed me"), and the computer sitting here just mocking me.

The seeds and the cookies were a hit. I still have a Rubbermaid container of pumpkin in the fridge. So, why am I not in the kitchen, whipping up some soup, or bread, or something else? Because I can't do it. I can't even open up the container because the smell will make me cry.

So, I decided to answer some questions that have appeared in the comments this month.

What kind of morons don't want cupcakes!?
I know, right?

mmm... so this is silly (I guess I've always had a vague idea of how to make vegetable stock... I mean really how else would you do it?) but 'WOW' so easy... think I might have a weekend activity... are there certain scraps that I really need to have to make it taste right?
I answered this in the comments, but who goes back to check? Anyway, whatever scraps you want will work, although I would steer clear of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. You don't want your broth to taste like feet. I recently used grapefruit rind in a batch, and it added something to it that I can't really describe, but I'd do it again!

And do you have sriracha?
I had to talk myself out of buying the 32oz. bottle.

(Re: paella) Does this one have saffron? (it's too expensive for me to buy and then not like!)
It's just not paella without saffron! For some reason I have a lot of it. I know it's expensive, but maybe your co-op or HFS has it in bulk? Just buy enough for a recipe?

Where does one find vegan fish sauce?
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp sugar or natural sweetener
1/4 cup water

You're gonna hate me. I have never made Cookies and I don't buy Chocolate Chips!

I don't hate you. I admire your restraint. Just say no.

Does barack obama like sweet potato pie?

Only one bite of sweet potato pie?
Well, I did bring it for my coworkers.

Wait...what exactly is the difference between dressing and stuffing?
Stuffing is stuffed. Dressing is on the side.

Where's your sage bread recipe from?
One of many bread machine cookbooks. I think I got it from "The Best Low-Fat, No-Sugar Bread Machine Cookbook Ever." Look for "Stuffing Bread." And if you don't have a bread machine, get one. Purist, schmurist.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Devil's Night

Today at my job, my boss carved our pumpkin to enter in the district carving contest. Instead of my suggestion that we do a Barack O'Lantern, we settled on something work related. I know, right? LAME.

Anyway, I was given the guts to de-seed. I spent my afternoon in the drive-up with slimy hands, removing seeds from stringy pumpkin guts, and helping customers. One thing I did notice: pumpkin makes your hands feel really smooth. I think I might make a face mask out of that stuff someday. Someday when I don't hate pumpkins anymore.

Tonight, between fighting with my family about politics via email and talking on the phone, I whipped up a batch of tamari-chile oil roasted pumpkin seeds (firey!), and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. The seeds were mine, and the cookie recipe is from the intertubes. I think I will doctor it up so the cookies are less cakey and more chewy and gooey next time. How come my cookies always come out cakey? Is it the baking powder? And since I made two things today, can I skip tomorrow? No? I hate you.

Tomorrow is the last day of MoFo. Will I make it? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's only Wednesday

Just two more days, I know. But I'm out of ideas, people. Maybe I'll dream about it.

Pumpkin Samosas

The recipe:

Make the ones from VwaV, only take as many shortcuts as possible. Use half potato, half mashed pumpkin. Cheat and use curry powder. Throw out the last 1/4 of the dough because you're sick of rolling it out. Chow down with an ice cold beer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pennywise, and pumpkins foolish.

I am so sick of this orange shit. Is it Halloween yet? After the donuts and the cheesecake, I must have gained five pounds. Then I make pasta tonight? Jesus. I'm making salads tomorrow.

This is essentially Rachael Ray's "Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta," only I used elbow macaroni. And veg broth, soy creamer, more than one pathetic teaspoon of hot pepper sauce, no nutmeg (sick of it!), dried sage, curry powder, corn, and those toasted almonds, pine nuts, and pepitas on top. It made SO MUCH. I don't know what to do. I have no more empty plastic storage containers because MoFo leftovers have taken them over. I can't eat this for the next week. I'll kill myself. And I still have this:

ready to roast. *sob*

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sugar crash

Okay. This was crazy sweet. I'm reducing the sugar a lot in the final draft, here. We were all drowsy and headachey this afternoon after a cheesecake snack this morning.

I love love love almond extract in cheesecake. You will, too.

Gingery Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Crisp Topping

Makes 1 9" cake

2 cups Mi-Del Ginger Snaps (Or, a bag minus the ten you shoved in your face)
Earth Balance® (maybe 3 Tbsp)

1 8oz. container vegan cream cheese
1 aseptic box of extra firm silken tofu
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup pumpkin purée
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup pecans
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp Earth Balance®

Preheat the oven to 350°

Throw the ginger snaps and 1 Tbsp of the Earth Balance in a food processor, and pulse until crumbs form. Keep checking the crumbs and adding EB and processing until it's moist, but not totally greasy. This will be your cookie crust. Press the crumb mixture into a 9" springform pan. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes (while you're making the cheese filling). Rinse the processor and blade.

Process the cheese, tofu, cornstarch, lemon juice, sugar, and almond extract until smooth. Scoop out a cup, and spread that in your crust. Add the pumpkin, brown sugar, and spices to the rest of the cheese filling still in the machine, and process until smooth. Now, pour that into your pan on top of the cheese layer. Put the pan in the oven and bake at 350° for about 30 minutes.

Mix together the topping ingredients with your fingers until crumbly and there aren't any big chunks of margarine in there.

Top the cake with the topping, and return to the oven for 25 minutes. The top should be golden brown. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Battle: Stuffing

Iron Chef this week, like last week, is an actual prepared dish instead of ingredients (the challenge was sushi, but I stuck to the "rice and seaweed" directive). I was going to head out and get a pumpkin to roast, but was driven back inside due to the snow. It wasn't the fluffy-cuddle-up-in-a-blankie-drinking-cocoa snowfall. It was a miserable, wet, grey, melty snow. Just a little bit away from being a cold fall piss of rain. Screw that.

This is one of those meals that started off as one thing, and slowly evolved into another. After I'd already baked the sage bread, left it in an unheated oven all night to harden, made the veg stock, cooked the shallots and mushrooms, and scooped everything into a casserole dish, did I suddenly remember: It's stuffing. Not dressing. I was ready to dump some on a plate next to some seitan cutlets from Veganomicon, so I had to think fast. Oh, and it had to be pumpkin-y! Fork!

A couple of knife moves later, I came up with Seitan Cutlets with Pecan-Mushroom stuffing and Pumpkin Gravy.

I actually used my dining room table tonight for the first time. I am so deliciously full. I can't wait to make this for Thanksgiving! The gravy is your standard broth-olive oil-cornstarch gravy with pumpkin purée whisked in. Some salt and pepper, and it's fantastic. I am so eating this with mashed potatoes tomorrow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Time to make the donuts.


This may be one of my proudest moments. Up there with the pear cheesecake from earlier this month. You gotta love the Donut Express. I got mine minus the filled donut pan and filling injector at a thrift store for $1. But donut pans should be easy to come by, Donut Express or not.

Pumpkin Donuts with Apricot Glaze
Makes 18 regular size, or 36 mini donuts

2 cups flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup sugar
1 cup creamy soy milk, or half soy milk/half soy creamer
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp shortening
2/3 cup pumpkin purée

Apricot Glaze:
3 Tbsp apricot preserves
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp agar
2 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray your donut pans with canola spray and wipe them. Add the vinegar to the milk and set aside to curdle. Sift together the flour, baking powder, spice, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, vanilla, shortening, and pumpkin with a fork until smooth-ish. Stir in the milk mixture. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well (a stand mixer comes in handy here). Scoop batter into donut cups, filling halfway. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes.

Make the glaze: In a small saucepan, heat the preserves, oil, and water. Stir with a wisk until melty and syrupy. Toss in the agar, stir in, and remove from heat. Let sit a couple minutes, and then spoon over cooled donuts.

The mini donuts were sprayed with a little soy milk and rolled in cinnamon-sugar.

I gave them out to my neighbors who were awake or in the halls this morning. Even the diaper tossers in #8.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mac & cheeze, please!

If I ever have kids (ha), this will be truly appreciated.

It's just noodles with some leftover Uncheese mostarella, mustard, and Boca crumbles. Spinach salad with Goddess dressing on the side. Yummy, and cheap. I just signed over my internal organs to Qwest (after they ripped them out through my ass), and I have about $20 to make it through the last week of MoFo. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I need to plan ahead so I have a week of Lasagnas during next year's MoFo.

Anyway, I used half lasagna noodles, half sliced eggplant. There's some onion and Isa's cashew ricotta and maybe a Tofurkey Italian Sausage, and a whole lot of FYH mozzarella.

It tastes better than it looks, believe me. I've taken over ten pictures of this thing and it's just too hard. It's like trying to find Dick Cheney's "good side."

Tomorrow's Friday. Saturday I shall start the last theme week for VeganMoFo 2008. Hang onto your seats, bitches.

No, it's really not that big a deal.


I highly doubt that anyone is actually keeping count, but I feel I must explain for yesterday's absence. I came home to find that my phone and internet were disconnected because Qwest sucks. After a brief conversation with "Barbara" over at Qwest HQ, my shit's back on. But I had no way to post last night.

Now my simple resolution to post every day in October has been broken. So? You get two posts today! Um...

What I ate today.

Some leftover sweet potato chili, cold
Amy's Tamales Verde (YUM)
more coffee
more water
one bite of sweet potato pie
no doubt 2 pieces of lasagna
quite possibly some So Delicious Chocolate Velvet with pecans

Next post: Lasagna!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My heart is as big as a sweet pa-tay-ta!

There are two parts to this entry. One, I used to make this dish all the time before I went veg, so it has seen a lot of evenings in my home. It's sort of an Anglo-Indian type stew that is perfect for chilly fall evenings or winter lunch breaks. It's a misnomer; I usually use garnet yams instead of sweet potatoes. But "Sweet Potato Chili" sounds better than "Yam Stew."

Sweet Potato Chili
serves 6

2 large garnet yams, peeled and chopped
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with chiles
2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 14-oz can, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 14-oz can, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp chili powder
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp curry powder

Throw all that in the slow cooker and set on low. Go to work and forget about it for 8 hours.

Throw in 1/2 cup raisins (I prefer the golden ones in this recipe), stir, and heat for another 20 minutes.

Serve in bowls with a blop of plain soygurt (Wildwood plain is nice and unsweetened) and a sprinkling of toasted almonds. Tonight I used toasted almonds, pepitas, and pine nuts.

Now, part two. In honor of Barack Obama and how much he kicks ass.

Homemade Sweet Potato Pie. I used this recipe. Right now it's too warm to slice up, but the smell is OH MY GOD so good.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I never thought I'd ever think this, let alone say it: I am sick of sweets. There. I'm taking a break from the baking cabinet tonight, and cooking in general. I made a small trip to Whole Foods ($83. One bag.), and picked up a bag each of cat food and kitten food, and I am effing tired.

I did, however; pick up a bag of Whole Foods's 365 Everyday Value Vegan Chocolate Chips. I've been buying their regular old semisweet ones forever. The difference? About 40 cents and the regular ones were made in a facility that may have processed eggs and dairy. I usually don't bat an eye at the "may have" disclaimer. I mean, a prairie dog "may have" been playing around near the wheat thresher, so should I stop buying flour?

And how sick am I for even saying that?

Anyway. I need to know two things. What chocolate chips do you normally buy? Also, what's your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe? Like, what book is it in? Maybe I'll make some tomorrow night. Right now, I'm going to watch Sleeper Cell (mmm...Michael Ealy) and fight off diabetes for one night.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Sweet Blondies and ice cream

Sometimes, the simplest dessert can be a real treat.

Hannah's Butterscotch Blondies, So Delicious Dulce de Leche, and a kittynose.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's not sushi.

Iron Chef this week: Rice and seaweed.

Rosewater Coconut Rice Pudding with Blueberry Glaze.

After all, it is dessert week. This turned out not so much a pudding, put more of a risotto. It was my first try, though. The agar really bound it up.

Make a shitload.

1 1/2 cups arborio rice, rinsed well.
1 can coconut milk
3 cups or more nondairy milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp agar
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp rosewater
1 cup coconut flakes

Stir the rice, coconut milk, sugar, and nondairy milk together over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Turn to verrry low heat and simmer, stirring for 20-30 minutes. You will have to add more liquid now and then. Once the rice is almost at the al dente stage you want, stir in all the other stuff. Stir until the rice is cooked. Move to a bowl, or molds, and cool on the counter for a half hour before fridging.

Blueberry Glaze
1 pint container of fresh blueberries, rinsed
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp agar
1/2 tsp almond extract

Dissolve sugar in water as it's coming to a boil. Reduce heat, add blueberries. Cook and stir for about 3 minutes. Stir in agar and extract. Remove from heat. Let it gel up, then spoon over pudding.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hey! A survey!

1. What was the most recent tea you drank?
Trader Joe's Blueberry Green Tea.

2. What vegan forums do you post/lurk on? If so, what is your username? Spill!
I'm sugarcookie on the PPK.

3. You have to have tofu for dinner, and it has be an Italian dish. What comes to mind first?
Eggplant lasagna with tofu ricotta.

4. How many vegan blogs do you read on an average day?
Maybe six? I'm trying to do better. I need a boring job with internet.

5. Besides your own, what is the most recent one you’ve read?
Get Sconed!

6. If you could hang out with a vegan blogger that you haven’t met, who would it be, and what would you do?
I have no idea who. But beer and nachos at Triple Rock would be in order.

7. If you had to base your dinners for a week around one of the holy trilogy – tofu, seitan or tempeh, which would it be?

8. If you had to use one in a fight, which would it be?
Tofu. Soft, silken. I mean, it's like getting egged.

9. Name 3 meals you’d realistically make with that tough protein of choice!
Strawberry smoothie with flax seed.
Moussaka with pine nut cream.
Vegetable omelet.

10. What’s a recipe in vegan blogland that you’ve been eyeing?
OMG. Terry's Chili Rellenos.

11. Do you own any clothing with vegan messages/brands on them?
No. But I can't wear stuff like that at work anyway, and I'm rarely anywhere else. With clothes on.

12. Have you made your pilgrimage to the 'vegan mecca' yet? (Portland, duh)
I have not. Yet.

13. What age did you first go vegan? Did it stick?
35. Still going.

14. What is the worst vegan meal you’ve had? Who cooked it?

15. What made you decide to blog?
I had a blog. It sort of died out. I figured a cooking blog would be easier to update.

16. What are three of your favorite meals to make?
Tofu scramble
sweet potato chili

17. What dish would you bring to a vegan Thanksgiving-themed potluck?
Probably the autumn rolls with cranberry chile dipping sauce from Vcon.

18. Where is your favorite vegan meal at a restaurant? How many times have you ordered it?
The Mock Muffeleta from Pizza Luce. Many many times.

19. What do you think the best chain to dine as a vegan is?
Pizza Luce. Here, anyway.

20. My kitchen needs a………

21. This vegetable is not allowed in my kitchen…..!

22. What's for dinner tonight?

23.Add a question here! boring are my answers, man? WAKE UP!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Sweet Vegan Fudge

I'm kicking off dessert week with the five minute fudge recipe from Hannah's My Sweet Vegan. Mostly because a friend of mine returned from a romantic weekend in Red Wing with a very delicious looking brick of the stuff (DROOL), but also because I had everything I needed for it in the pantry.

I'm taking a lot of it to work with me, but a few pieces are wrapped up with a note for my new neighbors in apt A. Have a good day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shark Week

I get in this mood just before, and during the first couple days of my lady time. It closely resembles the mood that small children get in, when they scrunch up their faces and kick a younger sibling for no reason other than the fact that being a little kid is so hard, mixed with teary sentimentality, and ennui.

I wondered out loud if I should do a whole week of desserts, since the only thing that has made me smile in the last couple days was the container of So Delicious Dulce de Leche that is now scraped clean. I couldn't decide on a cookbook for the week, since I have a few dessert ones and they all look good, and was about to blog about how worthless I am as a MoFoer, when my door buzzed. I answered, and it was a woman who lives in one of the basement units, and she thought she'd buzzed B. How she mixed B up with a third floor apartment is a head scratcher, but she sounded so upset that she'd locked herself out, I told her I'd come down and let her in. After jumping back into my work pants, grabbing my keys, and running down a THOUSAND stairs, I met my neighbor. She was standing in the foyer with her little boy. She was so embarrassed, saying "what a way to meet the neighbors" and telling me how awesome I am. I felt my heart swell a little bit as I unlocked the basement stairwell for her. I often worry about losing my keys, because I just moved in here in August and I don't really know anyone. My property manager charges $50 for lockouts! How much would that suck?

That's when I had an idea for this week of VeganMoFo. I'll make a few desserts (not every day, man. That shit was tiring), and deliver them to the few neighbors I have met in this building to lock in that "I got your back" thing, and also to show that I'm not as inconsiderate as the people who live in #8 who throw their baby's diapers out in the em-effing alley.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

VFaS: The final chapter

Tonight: Asian. Vietnamese Noodles with Tempeh and Peanuts.

This recipe earned three little chiles on the spice scale, so I expected dinner to kick my ass tonight. It didn't, until I added a little sriracha to it at the end. I will say that this dish made me appreciate tempeh, finally. I give it chance after chance, but haven't been able to really get into it (and certainly never thought it was worth the gas). I like the tempeh sausage/white bean gravy from VwaV, but otherwise I couldn't care less about it. I gave it it's last chance tonight to prove me wrong.

This is what tempeh was made for. Fried crispy, and then doused in chili oil and vegan "fish" sauce. Then tossed with udon noodles, shredded carrot, scallions, and cabbage? Dear God. Divine. Like I said, add a little more heat if you want (I even upped the ante with some chile-spiced peanuts as opposed to regular roasted ones). I recommend this served cold, over some shredded cabbage and cucumbers. Yum.

Overall, I really like this book. It's not very brave with the heat, so you've been advised. But I'm also the Queen of Congestion, so I might just be desensitized to anything that might actually clear up the shit in my head. And chest. And nose.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hot on a cold day

A coworker of mine went to the Indian grocer this weekend and picked up a bunch of goodies for me, but today is her birthday, and I probably won't see her at work until Thursday, so I had to figure out what to do on Indian night since I didn't have my sambar and black mustard seeds.

I spent a few minutes flipping through VFaS, and came across the recipe for Curried Mushrooms. The only thing I did differently was use crimini instead of white, but it was so very fantastic that I think I'd make it this way forever.

Another winner from this book. Not too hot, since I seeded the hell out of the chiles. I would suggest throwing in a third pepper if you're into the super spicy stuff. I served this with brown basmati rice, some fried tofu and a simple cucumber salad.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I dream of VeganMoFo

Last night I remembered that the Iron Chef Challenge was announced earlier that day. I checked it out, saw it was pears and nuts, and started thinking about things I could do. There was the obvious (muffins, salads), so I decided to stick with the whole reason I created this blog: real stick to your ribs vegan food that you could confidently bring to a church potluck and no one would have a clue that you hippiefied it. I summoned up my inner Paula Deen, did a little research (I'm still a little rusty with off the cuff baking), and came up with this little number. At 4:07am.

Asian Pear Streusel Cheesecake with Ginger and Almonds

Rich and sugary enough for the kids, and just weird enough to be hip.

1 8oz pkg tofutti cream cheese
12 oz firm silken tofu
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 vegan shortbread crust (I used a Keebler)
2 medium Asian pears, cored and sliced in thin half-moons.
1 tbsp sugar

1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds (I had slivered left over from yesterday)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. crystallized ginger
1/3 c. all purpose flour
1/4 cup cold Earth Balance margarine
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a food processor, combine the tofu, cheese, and sugar. Process until all the sugar is incorporated and not all grainy in there. It means lots of spoon licking, but the things we must do...
Whisk together the lemon juice, almond extract, and cornstarch. Dump it in the processor and blend it in. Once incorporated, dump the whole thing into your crust. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool down a little. A couple hours or so. Put a piece of foil over it so your BAD CATS don't paw at it.

Melt a blop of Earth Balance in a large frying pan. Toss the pear slices with the tbsp sugar. Cook the pears slowly, over a low flame until caramelized and golden. Remove from heat, and let cool (I did this step while the cheesecake was baking, so it would be cool to handle).

Preheat oven to 400°.

Make your topping. Put all that stuff in the food processor and process to crumbs. The ginger might take a couple more pulses to really break up, so don't worry about your topping being not crumby enough.

Arrange your cooled pear slices in a tight fan pattern around the top of the cake. Layer some more in the middle. It won't be all high and pointy once it's baked. Sprinkle the topping all over. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on the counter, then in the fridge for a few hours.

By the way, I got impatient and had a piece, but it wasn't fully set up yet and the picture would have sucked, but ohmyfreakinggod it was so good. *patting self on the back*


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Now that's a fire!

Today I cleaned my house top to bottom. I got out the Magic Eraser and everything. As soon as I was satisfied with the sparkle, I headed out to Home Despot in search of a plant hanger. You know, like a stupid plastic hook with armlike protrusions. Or some kind of hook/chain type thing. After an excruciating bus ride into Nordeast Minneapolis, I come to find out that they don't have anything like that. They have hanging plants, sure. Ferns and shit. But I just wanted the thing, not the plant in it. Dammit. Home Depot was my last resort. I've tried florists, Target, everything. Am I crazy? Are hanging plants passe? At least I found some poor bastard's $85 31-day bus pass that they'd only used for three days before dropping it. Heh.

I got home and was in no mood for anything really involved, but I knew I had to get cracking. I have three more chapters in VFaS I still have to do (although I may not get to India in time, as my sambar needs to be delivered). Tonight is Middle East/Africa. My choice was the Vegetable Tagine with Seitan and Apricots. One of the ingredients it called for was harissa, which I distinctly remember leaving behind in the fridge of my old apartment. Oops? Luckily, there was a recipe to make my own. Which I did.
With Indian dried chiles. 40,000 hus. I added a little extra olive oil to temper the flames. Good thing, since the Tagine recipe called for a half teaspoon of cayenne. I don't think I've ever used more than 1/4 or 1/8 teaspoon of that shit. Anyway, Robin said to do it, so I did. All in all, the recipe was LOVELY. Yes, it was hot, and I was grateful because I was beginning to wonder where exactly the "fire" was in this book. I loved how all of the flavors blended, but didn't mush together. Everything retained it's own personality, while still playing nice with the other kids in the pot. I served it over couscous with the recommended toasted almonds (yes, I know I kinda burned mine SHUT UP). I also suggest pairing this with about six glasses of ice water. It was also pretty quick to put together once the harissa was made and the apricots were soaked. Not a lot of attention is needed. Just what I needed after spending a whole day on the friggin' bus.

I wanted to do the food shoot on my Persian rug, but Bowie was insistent that he be a part of this.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Paella. Kinda sorta.

For the Mediterranean-Europe section of VFaS, I chose to make the Paella because the best way to judge a cookbook is by it's most involved recipes. At least it is for me.

Anyway, I set out to pick up some tempeh tonight because I had everything else, and planned to make Isa's chorizo sausages for the sausage portion of the recipe, but then don'tcha know Tofurkey Italian Sausages were on sale, so I got those, too.

Well, I should have got some green beans, because the farmers market batch didn't hold up well in the fridge. Slimy. I went down to the corner store, where I picked up the lone, frost-covered bag of frozen green beans and when I got them home and dumped them into a colander to thaw them, they were beige.

So, I chopped up a red bell pepper and threw it into the pan with some kale. It's not true to the recipe, but hey. I'm on a tight schedule here, and nine o'clock at night is no time for a babe like me to be traipsing about the city looking for green beans. I also wasn't prepared to do any of the other chapters, so it's bell pepper and kale or a bunch of excuses and another picture of Mischka, and I'm starting to scare myself with my obsessive cat picture-taking.

It turned out fantastic. I underguessed on the kale, and it barely causes a speck of green in there, but I added more peas and we're good. Hey, and I got to use my gigantor pan! Next time I make this (and I will), I will a) add more liquid, b) leave out the tempeh because with all those meat analogs, it's a friggin' sausage party in there, and c) add artichoke hearts. It's not as spicy as I'd hoped, so I'd say add more of the red pepper flakes.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Short n' sweet

Tonight is not about cooking, as much as it is pre-cooking. I picked up a ton of produce from the farmers market (along with a beautiful Wandering Jew), and I'm simmering a pot of seitan. Everything is put away, and now I just wait until tomorrow, when I can go pick up tempeh, curry powder, and assorted other goodies.

I just checked on the seitan...

...and I think we have brains.

Oh well. Here's some cute cat for you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


'Tis a new week in this, the Vegan Month of Food, and I am on to a new cookbook. I bought Vegan Fire & Spice a few months ago, but just haven't had the time or ingredients to make anything. Well, I decided to do Robin Robertson right, and give not three, but five days of this week to her book. Why? Because there is five sections: The Americas, Mediterranean Europe, The Middle East and Africa, India, and Asia. I need to go shopping, I know.

For The Americas, I chose a recipe called "Close to Callaloo." It's a Caribbean stew made up of sweet potatoes, peppers, and greens. It was pretty quick, and it turned out looking beautiful. I had to add a little more fire to this (red chile flakes), because it didn't quite seem spicy enough for me. Then again, I'm trying to knock out a bad case of congestion, and more spice just seems to be the cure. Along the side, I made a simple little bed of field greens with grapefruit sections and a homemade vinaigrette of grapefruit pulp and juice, herbs, coconut oil, and a little wine vinegar.

Take THAT, chest cold!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tofu 1...2...Done.

I thought I'd round out my Tofu 1-2-3 week with a dessert recipe. Since I'm near death, going to the store wasn't an option, so I made something with ingredients I had available. I went with the Fudge Brownies.

This turned out to be a very pudding-like brownie. Definitely not finger food. The gooey fudge was intensely rich and velvety. The recipe called for one cup maple syrup, and I used half maple syrup and half agave nectar. I also swirled a couple blops of blackberry jam into the pan, because I have yet to make a recipe in this book 100% true to the page. At least I wasn't a tester for this one. I have to say, while everything in the book is edible and tasty, I would like to see what Ms. Abrams can do outside of quick-and-easy vegan cooking. I would certainly recommend this for people who are new to vegan cooking, because the ingredients are all easy to come by, however; it's not very adventurous. It's definitely a good one to own if you have kids, since nothing is very spicy or weird. I'll give it three stars.

Miso sickly. (Part One)

I plan to do two posts today, because I know I still have to finish my third item from Tofu 1-2-3, but I woke up feeling like 100% shit, so I set out to make a big pot of "Pull it Together and Get Your Ass to Work." I called in, but promised to come in later and close, and I'm not about to make everyone's day suck worse than it already does (they love me, you know. I am so missed).

I started with my antique cast iron soup pot. Added to it some olive oil, onion, carrot, garlic, ginger, cubed tofu, white miso, a bay leaf, and a big handful of my buddy, kale. I'd read up this morning that kale was chock full of vitamin C, so in it went.

Now, as I wait for the health to flow over me like a warm mountain rain, here are some cute pictures from earlier.

Monday, October 6, 2008

My new friend, kale.

I have not forgotten my vow to make three things from a previously untapped cookbook each week, and am aware that I have one more day. I would have made this last night, but I ended up putting away a lot of beer and a pineapple upside down cake shot, and I could barely stand up, let alone deal with the stove.

Before I get into my latest excursion into Tofu 1-2-3, I want to share my kale story. I have never tried kale until tonight. I know, right? I should have my vegan card taken away. Anyway, I picked some up at the Wedge so I could see what all the fuss is about, and cooked some up tonight. I don't have to tell you, I was scared. I'm afraid of vegetables of the Brassica genus, but I am trying to be a little bit more varied with my diet, and I learned to get over my beet hate (sorry broccoli, you still suck), so maybe I should give things a try and not be such a child about eating my friggin' vegetables.

The verdict? I loved it. I gently sautéed it in a little olive oil and vegetable broth with some chopped garlic and sea salt. After I plated it, I splash a little cabernet vinegar on it. Awesome. Add kale to my list of favorites.

Back to the book. Tonight I made Cannellini Beans and Roasted Potatoes in Cashew Cream Sauce. The potatoes actually took 35 minutes to achieve "golden brown on the outside," instead of the 25 in the book. Also the "cashew cream" is actually noochy sauce. But, it hit the spot on a night when my sick, tired body wanted something warm and starchy. Mmmm, carbs.

What I changed/would change: I added rosemary to the potatoes before roasting, which was also an option in the book. I think this would be good in a glass dish with some bread crumbs and another 10 in a 425° oven. I also think some mushrooms would rule in here, but I like mushrooms in everything. Maybe some red bell pepper, too.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rainy days and Sundays

This was the view from my window as I looked out from under my snuggly comforter.

So, what better activity is there to do on a rainy Sunday than watch football, do laundry, and make homemade vegetable stock?

When I make stock, I start by heating about three tablespoons of olive oil in a big stockpot, then adding a roughly chopped onion, celery, and carrots. Skins and all. Once they are giving off that delicious smell, I add a bunch of vegetable scraps I've kept in the freezer: garlic skins and pieces, onion skins, mushrooms, bell pepper guts, eggplant tops, tomato butts, chard, etc. Then a handful of chopped fresh parsley, bay leaves, and enough water to fill up the pot. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, and loosely cover.

About two hours later, I pour off some liquid in order to season, as well as save the pot from boiling over.

I take this liquid (about 4 cups), and add thyme, salt,rosemary,sage, and a handful of peppercorns.

Maybe an hour or so later (when the broth in the pot is a light golden brown), drain out the solids into another stockpot.

Smoosh it.

Add the seasoned broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat.

Skim broth periodically. Doesn't that stuff look like the foamy crap that collects around the rocks in the Mississippi? Retch.

Reduce broth to about 3/4, or when you smile when you taste it. Salt to taste. Strain it again, this time into your container.

Finally. One gallon of the yummiest homemade veggie stock. Coming up...what I'll do with it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

This, as they say in the biz, is blog filler.

I realized a bit ago that I haven't blogged today. Then I realized that I have nothing to eat in the house. Easily remedied by a trip to the Wedge, which is just down the street.

I spent about $54 on what seemed like not much (as is usually the case with the Wedge), but I was in no mood to take the bus out to Whole Foods. Also, I can never find nooch at WF. What's up with that?

Here's what I got, according to my receipt:
1.13 lb nutritional yeast
Veggie potstickers
Purely Decadent Snickerdoodle soy ice cream
Spectrum organic Mediterranean extra virgin olive oil (it was on sale)
Cannellini beans
2 Mori-Nu soft silken tofu packages
Bunch rainbow chard
Bunch green kale
ginger root
Italian parsley
3 russet potatoes
white miso
Westsoy extra firm tofu

So, I finally have food in the house. Here is my refrigerator, and I'd like to thank all of you and VeganMoFo for giving me an excuse to clean up the berry juice from the bottom shelf.

You can check out my Flickr page and look at the notes. Or, you can try to play without the answers.

Yep. This is my Saturday night.