Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year vegan style!

Happy New Year! Our family tradition is to forgo a heavy dinner for a night of appetizers and cocktails with family and friends. So tonight I prepared and bought a bunch of tasty vegan appetizers, most of which are very simple. Family get togethers are an excellent opportunity to show others that vegans eat normal, tasty food.

Tonight's appetizer spread included store bought hummus, chips and salsa, homemade summer rolls with a spicy mango dipping sauce (recipe below), carrots with a silken tofu-veggie dip, waldorf salad in lettuce cups and cold spicy peanut noodles. My family liked everything and dug in with gusto.

As a vegan you should have already made friends with hummus. If you haven't allow me to introduce you: meet hummus, otherwise known as fancy mashed up chickpea dip! Here is why you should know all about hummus, it is full of protein and is delicious by itself. You can also get it seasoned with lots of great spices like roasted red pepper, garlic, chipotle peppers or sun dried tomatoes. If you are any kind of cook at all, you should eventually learn to make it from scratch because hummus is also incredibly cheap to make.

The summer rolls take a little more work but are also incredibly healthful, delicious and impressive. You can put any selection of crunchy vegetables in them. I like: lettuce, basil, thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, red bell peppers, scallions and bean sprouts with a dressing made of rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic and ginger. The dipping sauce recipe is below.

Silken tofu is the most useful and versatile thing in a vegan's pantry and tonight I used it in place of sour cream with a vegetable dip spice packet (just check to be sure that its vegan!). To make a simple dip, all you have to do is combine the two in a blender and then whip it to a light and creamy consistency.

The waldorf salad was a choice designed to cool off everyone's tongues after all of the spicy food. Putting it in lettuce cups made it easier to eat.

The cold peanut noodles were the biggest hit of the night and the bowl was scraped clean. I have included the recipe below.

Here are a few recipes:

Spicy Mango Dipping Sauce
Besides summer rolls, this would also be good with store bought soy nuggets or thinned into a spicy salad dressing.

Place the following into a blender and blend until smooth:
  • 1 ripe mango, cubed
  • 1 small ripe orange or tangerine, peeled and seeded
  • Sriracha hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

Cold Spicy Peanut Noodles

Ingredients:

1/2 package thin Rice Noodles
4 TBS peanut butter
3-4 TBS Sriracha hot sauce
1 TBS sesame oil
Dry Roasted Peanuts, Crushed (for garnish)

Method:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil on the stove.
  2. Once the water is boiling, throw in noodles and turn off the burner. Let sit until done (follow package directions)
  3. Drain and cut into shorter lengths, if desired.
  4. In the same pot, heat the sesame oil.
  5. After 30 seconds add the peanut butter stirring constantly.
  6. Once peanut butter is heated through and thins out, add hot sauce and stir to combine.
  7. Toss noodles in sauce.
  8. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and serve topped with the peanuts.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What do vegans eat?

Ok so here is my first attempt at the new format.... my attempt to answer the question:

What do vegans eat?


Of course the answer is "normal food" but still non-vegans have a hard time envisioning a vegan meal without a gaping hole where their meat would be. Now bear in mind that I am visiting my in-laws for the holidays so my meals are slightly different than they are at home but not much.

Here is what I have eaten (so far) today:

Breakfast:
Toaster Waffles
Whole Soy yogurt

While I don't like to rely heavily on packaged, processed food; when I travel it often makes life easier for the people I am staying with. So my breakfast toaster waffles were a nice treat, supplied by my inlaws. I eat them without syrup but my (non-vegan) husband likes them with the works maple syrup, cinnamon, sugar and butter....

The whole soy brand yogurt is the best vegan yogurt (in my humble opinion) and unlike some brands it is totally vegan. Many of the soy yogurts are made with dairy cultures.

Snack:
A starfruit


Lunch:

A Garden Salad topped with chicken-style tofu salad (recipe below)

I am a salad freak and as such I have found the easiest thing to do is to make a big salad and keep it in the fridge. That way it is always available and easy as a side dish or snack. I can add additional stuff to it like a scoop of tofu salad or some kidney beans as well for a heartier lunch. Having a salad always available also boosts my overall nutrition for the day. I find that when the salads and veggies are easily available everyone is more likely to eat them instead of chips or cookies when hunger strikes. As weird as it seems to non-vegans, it is possible to be an unhealthy, junk-food vegan.


Snack:
Olives

Dinner:
Garden salad with edamame and a ginger-orange vinaigrette (recipe below)
Pasta with sauce

When visiting family, I feel like it is a service to both veganism and my hosts to attempt to eat as much "normal" food as possible. So when my mother in law suggested pasta with sauce, I was thrilled. There are so many commercial jarred sauces that are available at the market which are "accidentally" vegan. So tonight's dinner was pasta with Francesco Rinaldi sauce and everyone was pleased. Check the jars though, not every marinara is vegan. Many contain cheeses or meats.


Now for the recipes:

Tofu salad- "chicken style"

In a bowl, combine the following ingredients:
  • Tofu, cubed (Bryanna's chicken style is especially good)
  • celery, chopped
  • onion or scallions, chopped
  • sweet red bell pepper, chopped
  • carrots, finely cubed
  • pickles or a seeded cucumber cubed
  • vegan maynaise
  • crunchy mustard
  • Thyme, rosemary, sage, to taste
  • salt and pepper

Mix to taste and mash a bit. I like this with crackers, on bread, on a salad. Just about anywhere.


Ginger-Orange Vinaigrette

In a jar combine and shake well:
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3 TBS sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup (or less... I like less) peanut oil
  • 2-3 TBS minced ginger
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 2-3 TBS low sodium soy sauce

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vegan Cookies and a new year's resolution

The holidays are terribly busy for musicians and as such I have been a TERRIBLE blogger! Since Thanksgiving I have:

  • sung with an orchestra
  • organized, rehearsed and produced my student's concert
  • taken an audition
  • taken students to sing at a senior center
  • Sang in a TON of church services ( I am employed as a church musician), including a Christmas Eve Service
All of this was in addition to the normal holiday madness that happens every year...... the shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating, cooking and traveling.....

All I can offer are my humblest apologies and a resolution to be a better blogger. So, if you were a devoted follower of my blog and feel ignored, deserted, or disappointed... I deeply apologize.

As part of that resolution, I am also slightly changing the format of this blog. In the past few months I have tried to put new, homemade creative recipes in each entry. This is terribly time consuming and a difficult, if not impossible goal at certain times.

As a vegan, the question I am most commonly asked is "What DO you eat?". So my new focus is going to be on what I actually eat, even if that is only a tofurky sandwich or simple salad. My hope is that this change will make the blog all the more helpful to new (and possibly lifelong) vegans by highlighting recipes, products, cookbooks and other kitchen conundrums.


Now onto some delicious food!

Every year since 1998 I have made cookies for my family. By cookies I mean tons of cookies! I mail my family usually between 5-6 different varieties of cookies each year. Last year I compromised and made a mix of vegan and non vegan cookies for my family. This year I made a commitment to myself to make only vegan cookies for my family. The recipes were a combination of converted recipes and recipes from vegan cookbooks. This year I made:

Nestle Toll house Chocolate Chip Cookies
- This recipe was converted by replacing the eggs with egg replacer and the butter with earth balance. I used Ghiardelli dark chocolate chips which are still vegan and chopped walnuts. VERDICT: People loved this one and no one questioned whether it was vegan or not.

Raspberry Bars- This recipe was another conversion. I used Ghiardelli dark chocolate chips and earth balance again. VERDICT: This was the hands down favorite of everyone! The were very easy since they were bar cookies and their pretty looks made the tray gorgeous!

Brownies- As an early Christmas Gift, my husband bought me the cookbook, Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar. This brownie recipe was straight from the book with the addition of 2 ounces of melted bitter dark chocolate (I lake my brownies really fudgy and dark). VERDICT: No one thought these were any different than last year's brownies. In fact they wolfed them down!

Peanut Butter Cookies- This recipe was a conversion from a betty crocker cookbook. I replaced the eggs with egg replacer and the butter with earth balance. It is key to be sure that your shortening is also vegan (some of the cheaper ones are part lard). VERDICT: Peanut butter cookies are my personal favorite. So I almost don't care if other people like them... but they did.

Oatmeal Cookies
- This recipe I found using the internet. VERDICT: People liked them BUT they were way to dry and crumbly for mailing... They completely fell apart!

Pizelles- Pizelles are a crispy italian cookie that require a special "Pizelle Iron" which is similar to a waffle iron. They are flat and crispy. To veganize follow the recipe with your machine replacing the butter with oil and the eggs with egg replacer. VERDICT: These were the first to go at my Italian inlaws!

Lemon Sugar Cookies- Another internet find, perhaps not as sweet as a traditional sugar cookie but still pretty good. VERDICT: My mother in law particularly liked these.

Well there you have it... a vegan cookie stash.. and no one noticed they were vegan either!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

a new nooch sauce!!!



Nutritional Yeast (or Nooch as it is called on several vegan sites) is one of those foods you either love or hate. It has a tangy, cheesy flavor and an impressive nutritional profile. Personally I love it. It is tasty in tofu scrambles, on popcorn, to season broths and flour coatings... basically anywhere!

I realize there are literally a million nooch-cheeze sauces on the internet, but they are not all created equal. After a lot of trial and error, this is my favorite version. It's good over pasta, steamed veggies or with chips dipped in it. I basically put it together myself but it was inspired by many other recipes.

(By the way, I am starting to think I may be a cheeze addict... in nearly every post that mentions any type of vegan cheese, i seem to eat the "evidence" leaving no food to photograph. The same thing happened again! I made a great Nooch and Noodle casserole only to lose control and eat it all before taking any pictures! But, for the sake of my blog I made another dish including baked potato and steamed broccoli, which you see in the photo above. This time I hid my forks until I took the pictures.)

So if you want to try another vegan nooch sauce recipe here goes:

The New Nooch Sauce

Ingredients

1 large potato, peeled and chopped (yukon gold works best)
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic (BE VERY BRAVE.... IT'S GOOD)
small amount of vegetable broth
12 ounces silken tofu
2 TBS crunchy mustard
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
splash soy sauce
1 tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
turmeric & paprika (for color*)
2 TBS red miso paste

Method:

  1. Put all veggies in a small pot, and cover with broth.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook until very soft.
  3. Turn down the heat and add tofu, mustard, soy sauce, spices* and nutritional yeast. (*The turmeric and Paprika are to adjust the color slightly if necessary.)
  4. Simmer on low heat for an additional 3-5 minutes to reduce broth further if necessary. You will need to stir a lot and if stirring becomes to difficult move to step 5.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in miso paste
  6. Carefully transfer to a food processor and puree until the mixture is the consistency of a cheese sauce. Enjoy!
Note: Lemon juice is also a good addition... my husband doesn't care for it though. WHen combined with the miso, it can make things very tangy.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Indian Feast!



My husband and I regularly go out for Indian food but it is so much more fun (and so much cheaper!) to eat at home... so tonight I tried my hand at a few new dishes: Palak Tofu, Dal and a cumin scented salad. The salad and the Dal were great, the Palak tofu needs some tweaking before I share it with the world.


The Cumin Scented Salad was inspired by the lovely pile of cucumbers and tomatoes that I always see beside the buffets at Indian restaurants. Because my DH doesn't care for tomatoes though, we altered it slightly to include peppers instead. Be sure to set out some vinegar for anyone who wants it. (My husband's suggestion!)

Cumin Scented Salad
Ingredients:

3 small Persian cucumbers (or one English Cucumber)
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1/2 small onion
2 TBS olive oil
3-4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Cut all veggies and place in bowl
  2. Toss lightly with oil and spices.
  3. Enjoy!

Dal

Ingredient:

3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup dried red lentils

Pam Spray OR small amount vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and Pepper to taste


Method:


  1. Bring broth to a boil in a three quart sauce pot and add lentils. Cook to desired done-ness.
  2. In a separate pan, saute the onions until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and spices stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and heat though before adding to lentils.
  5. Cool mixture and then puree about 1/3-1/2 of the mixture in batches before adding back to pot.
  6. Reheat and serve with rice or bread.

If I ever get that Palak Tofu just right I will be sure to share it with you!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dinner thanks to Bryanna and organic fall goodness

In Baltimore it has been unseasonably warm lately and things haven't felt particularly fall-like. It is hard to believe that we just had Halloween and that Thanksgiving is around the corner. As a result I am not really craving the traditional (and heavier) fall foods that I usually eat this time of year as much. I am still on my summer schedule of lightly steamed veggies, rice and Asian foods.

How much can one person really write about the joys of miso soup?

But fear not! Tonight I had a delicious, seasonal dinner worth writing about! I picked up a beautiful organic acorn squash at Trader Joe's as well as some frozen organic spinach. I also had some of Bryanna's Breast of Tofu marinating in the fridge. The combination was exquisite!


I'll start with the tofu. A member of the Yahoo Group: Fat Free Vegan recently drew my attention to this easy preparation. Now that I have tried it, I will probably always have a block marinating in the fridge. It was wonderful. I very lightly dusted the tofu with seasoned flour and "pan fried" it in a green pan (which is non-stick) with very little Pam Spray. As a result the tofu had a crisp outer skin and was chewy on the inside. The Flavor was great too... so good in fact that I am planning on having the leftovers tomorrow in a sandwich for lunch.

The Acorn Squash was a snap. I steamed it in the microwave. It was so sweet that it barely needed salt and pepper. What a treat!

I sauteed the spinach with minced garlic, raisins and a small handful of pine nuts in another one of my green pans with a tiny bit of earth balance. Although the green pans are wonderful for reducing the need for excess fats, I felt like the spinach needed a tiny bit of earth balance to improve the overall flavor.

So dinner was fall-like, tasty and best of all... it was a snap!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A happy sign of the times!

On Saturday I dragged my husband on an eight mile trek across Baltimore so I could collect a coupon for my next hair appointment. ( yes I am that cheap) Along the way I saw several things that (I hope) were indications of a possible swing in public opinion about veganism!

The first I saw was the Kooper's Chowhound Burger Wagon. This Baltimore based burger bar has a rolling van that sells their burgers at festivals, busy corners, etc.... On our walk we happened to run into this wagon AND (drum roll please) they offer a VEGAN veggie burger. The also offer some nice toppings besides just lettuce and tomato! The gentleman working was very friendly and more than willing to let me read the packaging on their veggie burger patties just to be sure they were vegan. As a result, I was able to enjoy a vegan burger with salsa, onions and baby greens for lunch!

My next exciting moment was when we stopped for coffee at the Daily Grind in Fells Point. Although they have always offered soy milk for coffee, previously my choices for vegan sweets were limited to a banana or perhaps Swedish fish. Today however they were offering vegan sugar cookies AND vegan apple pie! When I asked, the girl behind the counter was under the impression that they would be offering these goodies for as long as they continued to sell... so BUY UP LITTLE VEGANS!!! BUY UP!!!

So I was so excited that I just had to share these little moments from my Saturday! They certainly made me smile!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Easy Weeknight dinners Presents: Quick asian stir fry!

Who doesn't like a quick stir fry? This was such a fast and easy dinner. The use of somen noodles sped up the process considerably, feel free to use rice if you prefer though.


Quick Asian Stir Fry
Number of tools: 8 (cutting board, knife, jar, measuring cup, garlic press, wok, sauce pot and spoons)
Time: Approximately 20 minutes


Step one: Make sauce.

In a jar combine these ingredients and set aside:

2 small hot peppers, minced
1 inch of garlic root, minced
3 cloves garlic, put through a press
1/8 cup minced scallions
pinch fresh cilantro (I love it, my husband hates it... use you best judgement)
1/2 cup sake or other dry white wine
juice of 1/2 lime

Step two: Prepare somen or rice noodles, according to package directions

Step three: Quickly stir-fry veggies in a hot frying pan or wok using the tiniest posible amount of sesame or peanut oil. Add the sauce combination at the end and cook until the liquid is slightly reduced.

This is a good combination: 1 carrot, 1 cup cabbage (from a bag of pre-shredded cole slaw mix), 1/2 red or orange bell pepper, 1 cup snow peas, 1 cup mushrooms, 1/2 cup edamame

Step four: Serve stir fry over noodles or rice. Dig out your best chop sticks and dig in!


Stir fry's are really easy once you figure them out. Technique is everything. Here are a few hints:
  1. The pan needs to be REALLY hot.
  2. The order of the vegetables is crucial. The veggies that will take the longest to cook go in first and the fasted veggies go in last. That way everything will be cooked perfectly.
  3. Cut everything as close in size as possible to ensure even cooking.
  4. If you do not have time to make your own sauces, don't be discouraged. Buy those bottled ones, they taste fine. Just keep an eye on the sodium level and look out for fish sauce as an ingredient.
So now that you know what to do, have fun and go to town making the fastest dinner ever.... stir fry!



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Russian Salad

I recently picked up two books on raw veganism at a thrift store. I should point out that I am NOT a raw vegan and I am not even sure that a purely raw diet is the best choice. However, I do think that it is good to include a lot of raw foods into your regular (vegan) diet.

These two books provided lots of information about raw techniques and nutrition. They also proved to me that I do not have the will power to be a raw vegan. However I can include raw food as much as possible, and since I love salads, this salad was a good jumping off point. Please note though: that it is not 100% raw.

The dressing/marinade was inspired by a few of the lemony vinaigrettes in the raw books. The vegetables were inspired by what happened to be in my fridge. The final product reminded me of salad I remembered from Red Square, a local Russian bar.



Insalata Russa
Lemon-Garlic Marinade:

Ingredients
6 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, put through a press
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp paprika
4 squirts liquid aminos or soy sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients in a jar and shake well.

Salad:

Ingredients
1 cup diced potato
1 large carrot
5 radishes
1/2 red bell pepper
1 cup peas
Lemon-Garlic Marinade
vegan mayonnaise (optional*)
mixed greens

Method:

  1. Boil potato until slightly tender, rinse and set aside to cool.
  2. Dice all vegetables into equal size cubes (nearly the size of peas)
  3. Place all vegetables (including potatoes) in a bowl and stir in the marinade. Allow to marinade for at least one hour.
  4. If desired, strain veggies and combine with vegan mayonnaise to taste.
  5. Serve over mixed greens.
* The mayonnaise was what I remembered from the Russian restaurant. It makes a creamier salad and is quite tasty BUT it ups the fat content considerably.

I packed this salad for our lunches the next day. Both my husband and I both enjoyed the salad immensely. The starchy potatoes, carrots and peas provided a filling lunch while the crunch of the radishes was a satisfying contrast to the creaminess of the potatoes, and yes the fatty mayonnaise dressing.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another recipe from vegan brunch

First two observations:



  1. I don't believe I have used this cookbook for a meal served prior to noon yet.

  2. I am quickly falling into the cult of Isa Chandra worshippers!




Tonight for dinner we had the "Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes". Since I am not a huge fan of tempeh though, I made them with extra firm tofu. They were awesome! I did add a little garlic to the recipe but otherwise I followed it exactly as written (well and then there was the tofu substitution...). Oh wait I also broiled them instead of frying... but I otherwise I was true to the recipe. I guess I cannot leave things alone.



About those crackers on the plate:

When I was a graduate student, I worked in the Baltimore restaurant circuit and everyone used to request saltines with their crab cakes, so the crackers on the plate a nod to that tradition. You are supposed to smoosh the cake on the cracker. It didn't make sense to me then and after trying it, it still doesn't but at least I can say that I finally tried it. I'll probably skip the saltines in the future, but man were these delicious.



In addition to the saltines for a true "Baltimore" experience you could try adding a little old bay.... but I can't stand the stuff myself. I guess I am not a very good hon*.



Here is what it all looked like. Served with a bunch of veggies, it was a delicious dinner!


* A Baltimore "Hon" is an often parodied caricature of a Baltimore woman. She is typically in a beehive and brightly colored house dress with outdated cat-eyed glasses. There is an entire festival in honour of the Baltimore Hon every year!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall confetti soup

As teachers it is inevitable that a virus gets one of us every year.....this time my husband has come down with the swine flu. This has got to be the worst type of sick I have ever seen! His fever is very high and all he has the energy to do is sleep and cough. I am hoping that a nice soup will warm him up and give him some energy to help in his recovery. A little battle of veggies versus viruses if you will....

Soup is also economical. It is a great way to make a decent meal out of few resources. I am always amazed at how a "little of this and a little of that" can come together to make such a tasty meal. This one used mostly pantry items and required no special trip to the grocery store, which is great since I am also in self isolation until I see if I am sick...

By the way, in order to make it low-fat, omit the oil and sautee in broth or additional wine.





Fall Confetti Soup

Ingredients
2 TBS olive oil

1 stalk of celery chopped (approx 1/2 cup)

1 large carrot chopped

1/2 large onion chopped (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 TBS oregano

6 TBS basil

1 cup chopped potato

1 cup white wine

6 cups vegetable broth

1 can cannelini beans

2 cups frozen spinach (any green would do)

Salt and Pepper to taste


Method

  1. In oil saute celery, carrots and onion.

  2. Add sun-dried tomato and hot pepper. Continue to saute until onion is nearly transluscent and onion is soft.

  3. Add garlic and spices being careful not to burn.

  4. Stir in potato, saute for a few more seconds then add wine.

  5. Bring wine to a boil and let boil for about 3 minutes.

  6. Add broth and bring to a boil.

  7. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

  8. Add beans and greens, heat through and adjust seasoning if necessary.

The flavoring on this was divine! The sundried tomatoes gave the soup a hint of tomato without creating a tomato broth and the beans and potatoes made it filling! All in all I am so pleased with this soup... now if I can just be sure that I don't have the swine flu.....








Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Everyone's favorite....Curry Squash Soup

I LOVE pumpkin and its cousins, the other winter squashes. In fact, I make all of my young students sing this silly little song about "Mr. Pumpkin" every year:

"Mr. Pumpkin, Mr. Pumpkin
Round and Fat, Round and Fat,
Harvest time is coming, Harvest time is coming
Yum, yum, yum! Yum, yum, yum!"


Amid the giggles, we discuss our favorite pumpkin (and by extension... squash) based foods. While they all say pie and perhaps bread, I amaze them all with things like soup, purees, smoothies, pancakes, french toast etc... Somehow my students seem to think of pumpkin only as a sweet food. Not me, I love how versatile this vegetable is!

So it is with great joy that I made my first squash soup of the year! This one is not for the faint hearted. To help my congestion due to fall allergies, I made it heavily spiced. So... feel free to go easy on the spices. Its still absolutely delicious!
Curry Squash Soup
Ingredients:
1/2 cup sake or white wine
1/2 onion, chopped
small piece of ginger, chopped
1 large carrot chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TBS curry powder
3 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
4 cups cooked squash
1 cup almond milk

Method:
  1. In the wine, saute the vegetables.
  2. Stir in the curry powder, then add water and bouillon.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. As soon as bouillon is dissolved, add squash.
  5. Turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  6. Puree soup with an immersion blender.
  7. Stir in almond milk and gently reheat.
This soup is good topped with toasted squash seeds, tiny crackers or croutons.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cabbage Rolls

Have you ever bought something and then been unsure what to do with it? I try to buy at least two different types of greens (besides lettuces) every week; this was how I ended up with a nice head of green cabbage:


Exhibit A: A nice normal head of cabbage



Traditionally we eat cabbage in very traditional, boring ways: cole slaw, boiled with baby potatos, sauteed with some onions...

I have to be honest, I wasn't feeling particularly inspired by the traditional BORING cabbage dishes, so the cabbage sat waiting for some inspiration. Luckily it came.

When we go to visit my in-laws they like to buy this Eastern European dish called Galumpkis which is totally not vegan. It consists of cabbage leaves which are steamed and then rolled around some meaty filling. This got me thinking about what other Vegan things could be stuffed inside a cabbage leaf and thus my recipe was born.


Exhibit B: Cabbage, in disguise!



Vegan Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Ingredients:
2 cups rice
1 large head green cabbage

tiny amount of olive oil
1/2 onion (about 1 cup chopped)
1/2 cup chopped peppers (I used a mix of bell peppers and hot peppers)
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp cumin
4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups water (plus more if necessary)
1 vegan not-beef bouillion cube
2 cups TVP

2 cans stewed tomatos
2 TBS white vinegar (Optional, my understanding is that Galumkis traditionally has a sweet and sour tomato sauce)

Method:
  1. Cook rice according to package directions.
  2. Separate leaves of cabbage and blanch. Set aside.
  3. In a small amount of olive oil saute the onion, pepper and garlic.
  4. When vegetables are soft, add cumin and paprika stirring constantly.
  5. After a few seconds add the wine and reduce heat.
  6. Bring wine to a boil, boil for 2 minutes.
  7. Add water and bouillion cube.
  8. Once water is boiling and cube is dissolved add TVP and stir until all water is absorbed. (You may need to add more.)
  9. In a separate bowl combine rice with TVP mixture, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  10. Lay out one cabbage leaf at a time and roll it up tightly around 2-3 spoonfuls of the rice mixture.
  11. Pack tightly in a baking pan, seam side down.
  12. In a food processor or blender, puree the two cans of stewed tomatoes and vinegar.
  13. Pour over cabbage rolls, spreading evenly.
  14. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until dish is heated through.
Note: To save time you can replace step 11 with pre-made marinara sauce.




Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wow!!

Tonight my husband said: "this is better than the non-vegan version"!!!


We didn't have anything extremely special tonight. I was feeling very "vegetable-y" so I simply steamed a lot of veggies and opened some canned fire roasted tomatoes in order to get my fix. In order to make it a little fancier, I added a splash of vegan hollandaise sauce from Vegan Brunch. DH actually tried it and then proclaimed it tastier than the regular stuff!! He thought the flavor was good and that it wasn't overly lemony. I liked that it had so many layers of flavor. I can't wait to make a vegan benedict!


I am in love with this cookbook. I recently made "breakfast for lunch" by packing tofu scrambles (my recipe) and pancakes (her recipe). It was a great idea! There is something about eating pancakes with maple syrup at lunch that can just turn my whole day around! With my southwestern tofu scramble I had the best guacamole ever, made by my own dear husband. I am not sure of the exact proportions because he just dumped the stuff in the bowl, but here is the basic outline.

My husband's awesome guacamole
(P.S. He's very protective of this recipe, so I can only give the roughest outline...)
*really... the best ever!
Ingredients
avocados
lime juice
garlic
onion
cumin
cayenne
salt

Method
  1. Dump it all in a bowl
  2. Mash with a potato masher
  3. Store with the pits to prevent browning.
  4. Try not to eat it all at once!
I wish it photographed well... it doesn't. I ate most of it anyway

Friday, October 2, 2009

A review of the Helmand






Tonight I had the privilege of being taken out to dinner and a concert by my boss. Every year we do this annual fundraiser for our students that includes singing music that has been strung together cabaret style. Tonight's concert was a chance for a group of the music teachers and musical staff to see someone else in action and it was wonderful. Since this is a food blog though, I will focus on my dinner.


Prior to the concert, we ate dinner at the Helmand, an Afghani restaurant on Charles street in Baltimore. The name comes from a prominant river in Afghanistan and the owner is Mahmood Karzai, brother of Afghani leader Hamid Karzai. This is one of Baltimore's favorite restaurants, if you can judge by the crowd at the door on the weekends.




It's easy to see why. Everything I had was wonderful and the people around me seemed equally pleased. The vegetarian section of the menu was very vegan friendly. I ended up eating a veggie korma that came with rice and spinach as sides. The server was very helpful in helping me veganize everything and the service was great. A member of our party was considerably late and yet they still got us out in time to make it to our concert.




If you live in the Baltimore area, I would highly recomend the Helmand!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tonights quick and easy dinner......

Bean Quesadillas!



Traffic was horrible today and I got home too late for a big formal dinner. I also wanted to finish up some things, so I used the last brown rice tortillas, some black beans and a little of my new favorite vegan cheese and fixed a vegan quesadilla which was out of this world! This has to be the fastest dinner I have ever made for myself! When I served it with a little salsa and some green beans it rounded out the meal and enabled me to finish preparing dinner quickly.


Since there is no recipe to share, I thought I share something else that has been on my mind lately. On my ride into work the news on NPR has been all about the G7 summit and the economy. It has caused me to consider economizing more and more myself. People tell me it must be expensive to be a vegan, to eat so many vegetables, to be so healthy etc... all the time. Here are some tips/reminders I have come up with for how to be a frugal vegan in the kitchen:



Tips for being an economical vegan in the kitchen



  1. Remember to use ethnic markets when possible. Often vegan recipes call for specialty spices and ingredients. You can get these things very inexpensively at ethnic markets. Asian markets are great places for tofu, tempeh, seaweed, edamame, sesame oil, soy sauce and all sorts of vegetables. Indian markets will carry tons of dried rices, beans and spices all at lower prices than your local supermarket. Italian markets often have good wines and canned tomatoes.


  2. Shop at farmer's markets. This may not always be the cheapest but it is good for the economy and the enviroment as your food is traveling less and you are putting your hard earned dollars back into the local economy. Additionally, there are often farmers who use organic practices but who are unable to afford organic certification... it pays to ask.


  3. Use a CSA. This is one I need to get on board with. Community Supported Agriculture provides you with a portion of the harvest in exchange for paying for a share. It can be a great deal and helps the local economy. Check out http://www.localharvest.org/ to look for one near you.


  4. Bake your own bread. Finding vegan bread can be a real pain... and often it is VERY expensive. So the frugal solution is BAKE YOUR OWN! This isn't that hard. I can't make a pie crust to save my life but even I can work out bread. Start with muffins and quick breads and then work your way up to yeast bread. Before you know it you will be turning out bagels, scones and english muffins too. This is a good beginners yeast bread.


  5. Beans and plain tofu are your friends. All of those preseasoned vegan products are very convenient. They are also very expensive. Dried beans are extremely cheap! A block of plain tofu can be marinated and cooked into a delicious meal with a little pre-planning. If you went to an Asian grocery store then dinner just became even cheaper! Also you can tailor your recipes to your own needs, cutting back sodium or fat and adjust the spices to suit your tastebuds.


  6. Learn to make your own seitan. Use the internet and cookbooks to find recipes for whatever you like to eat alot of. There are recipes for vegan ice creams, seitan sausages, almond milks even vegan yogurts. Invest in some decent cookware and you should be able to whip up plenty of delicious foods.


  7. Plan ahead. I mean to say, don't waste food! If you make a big casserole or stew freeze some for later. Freeze some of the peas you get in your CSA pick up. If you have a bumper crop of tomatoes, make sauce. You can even use your old vegetable peelings to make homemade vegetable broth. Try to creatively reuse your leftovers in order to avoid waste.


  8. Pack your own lunch. Brown bag it instead of spending $10 a day on lunch. The savings really add up. Fifty bucks a week becomes two hundred bucks a month becomes... well I think you get the point!


  9. Avoid the soy latte trap. This is a hard one for me! Every soy latte I buy averages three dollars. A coffee from home is maybe 10-50 cents depending on how much soy milk I use. Not to mention the savings in wasted paper cups (no matter how often I bring my own cup, they still put it in a paper one first...)


  10. Eat in season. Another no brainer... food that is in season is cheaper, tastier and often has a smaller carbon footprint because it is not being shipped from around the world. Wait until the summer for corn and the fall for pumpkin. You tastbuds and your wallet will thank you!


  11. Remember that you do not NEED vegan cupcakes to survive. You do however need a reasonable balance in the bank. You can always learn to bake them yourself... this is much cheaper than paying $6.50 a piece for one.


  12. When reasonable, buy in bulk. This can save you money if you can actually finish the amount of food you have purchased before it spoils. Just don't buy bulk without doing your math first. Bulk buying doesn't always save money.

Well there it is... some frugal vegan tips. If anyone else has some please share. I am by no means perfect. I certainly buy vegan cupcakes and soy lattes, but even if we manage to reduce our purchases of these things we can save alot of money over the year.




Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A review of Dukem's deliciousness

Yesterday a friend and I went to Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant in Baltimore. The food was lovely! I have always been told that Ethiopian food is very pro-vegan and I couldn't have been more pleased. Dukem had an entire "vegi menu" as well as a special fasting menu which were both vegan (as long as you didn't order the optional fish). Apparently during fasting, Ethiopia's many Orthodox Christians abstain from all animal products so the vegetarian food on this day was entirely vegan. When I found out I was so astonished that the waitress laughed at my gaping shock! There were so many choices!



In the end I ordered a combo which included beans, greens and other mixed vegetables. It was so good! The flavor combos were slightly unfamiliar and very tasty. Due to its isolation , Ethiopia has developed a very unique flavor palate, one that certainly agreed with me....everything was delicious!



Just so you are prepared though... there is no silverware in an Ethiopian restaurant. Everything is eaten with your hands using Injera, a traditional sourdough flatbread. Injera is made with Teff and is slightly spongy and slightly sour. It just made for an even better experience if you ask me!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A list for C.W.

A very nice guy I work with is now eating vegetarian wraps for lunch to improve his general health. While he is not (yet...) a committed vegetarian or vegan, I offered to help him out by providing a list of easy and quick vegan spreads and sandwich ideas. I want to offer a special thank you to the nice vegans in the Fat Free Vegan Yahoo group for their suggestions!


So here goes:



  1. Hummus with veggies on any bread

  2. Peanut Butter and Jelly

  3. A veggie sandwich (spinach, carrots, tomato and diced cucumbers) in whole wheat with Italian dressing in a pita

  4. Vegetarian refried beans on tortilla with sliced bell peppers

  5. A black bean burger with salsa on a small wheat bun

  6. A black bean burger with guacamole on a small wheat bun

  7. Hazelnut butter and banana

  8. Seasoned Baked Tofu, lettuce, tomato and sprouts with dressing in a wrap

  9. A "BLT" wrap using lettuce, diced tomatoes, vegan bacon bits and vegan mayo (trader joe's makes a good one that is even low fat)

  10. Veggies of your choice on rye bread with crunchy mustard

  11. A crusty baguette with tiniest drizzle of oil and lots of vinegar piled with lettuce, onions, olives, peppers, mushrooms, oregano and red pepper flakes before being toasted in a hot oven

  12. A taco salad in a wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, corn and salsa or guacamole

  13. A portobello mushroom marinated overnight in Balsamic vinaigrette, then grilled or panfried and served on a toasted bun with 'fixins.

  14. Falafel made from a mix in a pita with lettuce, tomato and a Tahini based dressing.

  15. almond butter and raisins

  16. Vietnamese rice-paper wraps filled with veggies and any ginger or peanut dressing


See.... you have options and yet there is no meat or dairy which means no virtually no cholesterol and low saturated fat! There aren't any "weird" ingredients on here either... everything listed can be purchased through normal grocery stores and places like trader joe's.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Zines, Greens and sausage made with beans!

Today I had the free time to go to both the farmer's market and the Baltimore book festival which, depending on how you look at it, is conveniently located within walking distance of our apartment. This meant I was able to pick up lovely farm fresh vegetables AND independently published vegan zines. This also meant dinner was fabulous... but more on that later.

The two zines I picked up at the radical books tent* were:



Hot Damn and Hell Yeah is supposed to be two cookbooks in one. With my southern heritage, I couldn't pass this one up. It has recipes for tons of sauces, breads and deep fried everything. This flavor palate is one I recognize but get excited about anyway. Highlights include a vegan Worchestershire sauce, country fried tofu, biscuits and apple enchiladas.









In search of lost taste is a collection of recipes loosely tied together through a Sci-fi adventure (of sorts) that always seems to come back to cooking. The recipes look great. There are things like spicy cold tomatoes in a sake venaigrette, vegan fish recipes and then fun drinks and desserts too. I am very excited about the way Joshua Ploeg plays with flavors throughout this little zine.





If you want to purchase these zines (or others like them) check out: microcosm publishing. Right now they are having a $20 special entitled "go vegan" which includes these two titles plus several more!

* Before we move on, a note on those radicals selling books... they also were the only tent with good coffee, soy milk and vegan treats (you guys should know by now that I have a regrettable sweet tooth....)!

Now on to dinner....


At the farmer's market I got all sorts of good stuff, including awesome red chard and my favorite squash: spaghetti squash! For those of you who haven't had the good fortune to ever eat spaghetti squash, you are truly missing out. It looks like a normal squash until you cook it, then it's flesh shreds into tiny angel hair size shreds of squash-just like pasta. It's unbelievably easy too. Spaghetti squash is good with sauces, obviously. But when it is this fresh, we like it simply steamed with a very little earth balance, salt and pepper. Delish!

The Chard I served sauteed with lots of garlic, red pepper flakes and a splash of wine.

To go with all of the vegetable love, we had vegan chorizo sausages from Isa's new cookbook that I recently purchased. They were easy and quick to put together. They were also soy free. I love soy, but I eat so much of it that I sometimes imagine I am nearing some unknown limit... who knows what might happen then!

Here is what the sausages looked like right out of the steam basket:





I liked them, but didn't think they tasted like chorizo... My husband said they tasted like lemony, chewy bread. Hmm... Now it's been awhile since I had a real sausage, so I'm not sure how valid my opinion is. Still, I thought they were pretty tasty. They were savory and toothsome with hints of tomato, heat and yes... lemon.

Perhaps these need to go into the same file as vegan lasagna.. something I love that my DH won't touch.

As I make other recipes from Vegan Brunch, I will try to post some pictures as this looks like a very promising cookbook!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Man am I cheesing out!




Last night, prior to my blog-a-thon, I went to my second Baltimore Vegan Drinks which was very fun. Obviously I was jazzed about trying my new vegan cheese DAIYA and my lunch experience with rice cheese so of course cheese came up, AGAIN. In the process, I learned that Baltimore's own BOP (that's Brick Oven Pizza to non Baltimorons) serves pizza with a vegan cheese option. Although, I think I had heard this before, I had never gone in.

A long time ago, prior to moving to Baltimore, prior to being a vegan and prior to really even being an adult someone had told me that BOP had the "best pizza in Baltimore". This was another fact that I stored away without using.

Since I seem to be on a vegan cheese kick AND since I had a hair appointment in neighboring Canton and would be walking past the place, a lunchtime visit seemed like the perfect plan. BOP was amazing. They have over 58 toppings and many of them are actually vegetables. When I went to the counter and told the nice employee I was a vegan, she actually seemed happy to be accommodating and answered all of my questions. You can even get vegan pizza by the slice with your choice of toppings here!! (And unless you are really and truly starving or travel with a small posse trailing in your wake, this is what I would recommend. Wait until you see how big the slices are!)



The pizza was great! In fact it was so great that I am taking my husband back this evening. Its no hardship to eat this pizza twice in a day and I think he will love the place! The restaurant is casual and the walls are covered with posters and accolades. In addition to pizza, they serve salads, subs and pasta; so it is a good place to take a mixed group of people as their is likely to be something for everyone.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vegan Cheese Take Two!!



Today on my way home from work I stopped to get Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new book "Vegan Brunch" (which looks fabulous and deserves its own post!!). While I was shopping at the Nest, (which is part of Clarksville's conscious corner), the very friendly employee recommended that I might go next door to Root's market and try out their new vegan cheese, DAIYA.

Huh?? Everything I have read, which is very little I might add, indicated that this cheese was only available in bulk to restaurants.

Well... it seems that the nice people at roots, have been buying it in bulk and repackaging it in more manageable small containers for people like you and me. Wow! After trying it I am thrilled! This stuff is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! As in "I think it might fool my husband" good. It looks like cheese, its smells like cheese, it melts like cheese and it is totally vegan!

It is made for casava root and some spices and have I mentioned, it unbelievably good. I have already had vegan nachos and 1/2 a piece of vegan "cheese toast", which my mother can tell you was one of my favorite childhood snacks. In fact, I am embarrased to admit this, but I was so eager that I ate it all without taking a picture... so here is a picture from their website:




Now don't be mistaken, for something to taste this much like real cheese it isn't exactly health food. The nutritional profile for 28 grams, which I believe is close to one ounce is:


So I wouldn't plan on loading up on this stuff... but for special occasions this stuff is amazing!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Galaxy Foods Vegan Rice Cheese

Yesterday, on my way home from work, I stopped off at the market for a few items. As usual I lingered at the vegan cheese section. Normally I sigh (a little too dramatically, I suppose) and walk on because my relationship with vegan cheese has been sad at best. However, I was inspired by this blog review to give vegan cheese another try. Thus I picked up Galaxy foods' Rice Cheese.




I have never been a a patient sort of person, so I opened the package and unpeeled a slice (this seems like an awful lot of packaging!!) on my way home. The taste is OK, but nothing spectacular with a definite aftertaste of rice. At this point, it's not the worst I have ever tasted but its not anything I am going to scream to the rafters about either.

Once I got home I decide to try to create a food that involves melting since it says right on the package: made for melting. So for lunch I made a grilled vegan "bologna and cheddar" sandwich. Immediately I am struck by how the cheese is not melting and I have to keep adding more and more earth balance to my nonstick pan to help keep the bread from burning (yes it was taking THAT long). I am left with a very greasy only partially melted sandwich for my efforts. As I throw it into my bento for lunch, I am definitely having second thoughts.

At lunch I pull out my sandwich. Heating up the cheese helped the taste and texture some and it is definitely better combined with other ingredients then as a stand-alone snack. I would never want to eat another sandwich this greasy though... there must be a better way!

I am unsure if I will by anymore of this after I finish the package. Here are the pros and cons (based on my experience)


Pros
  • Easy to find
  • Decent nutrition profile, if you eat just one slice
  • Pre-cut slices are easy for sandwiches
Cons
  • The rice-after taste
  • Regardless of its low cal/low sodium status, it is still junk food
  • Way too much packaging from an environmental standpoint
  • It certainly would never fool my husband or any other omni.... its just not fabulous tasting
  • Doesn't really melt well (at least not based on my first usage, in fairness I may need to experiment more)
If anyone is curious, here is the nutritional profile per slice:

Calories: 40

Calories from Fat: 20

Total Fat: 2g

Saturated Fat: 0.5g

Trans Fat: 0g

Polyunsat Fat: 0.5g

Monounsat Fat: 1g

Cholesterol: 0mg

Sodium: 120mg

Total Carbohydrate: 5g

Dietary Fiber: 0g

Sugars: 0g

Protein: 1g

Calcium 20% RDA




Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cumin scented tofu with roasted vegetables

Today I was craving a "taco-like" flavor more than anything. During my commute, there was a cookbook author on the podcast I was listening to. He spent so much time discussing the merits of the spice cumin that by the time I got home, cumin was all I could think of. If someone had asked, "What do you want for dinner, Erin?" I probably would have responded "cumin". It was that bad.

So when I walked in the door I immediately began categorizing my fridge contents into two piles.

Pile number one: Goes With Cumin
Pile number two: Does Not Go With Cumin

Luckily I found enough things in my fridge to curb my craving and to create this delicious dish.



Cumin scented tofu and roasted vegetables

Ingredients:
1 orange pepper
1 red pepper
1 cubanelle pepper
1 onion
1 block firm tofu, water pressed out

for marinade:
5 TBS vegetable oil
1 packet vegetable broth concentrate*
1 heaping TBS cumin
2 TBS chili powder
pinch cayenne
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup water
1 TBS cornstarch
1 cup salsa of your choice

tortillas (corn, wheat, brown rice it doesn't matter)

Method:
  1. Chop all vegetables and place in a large bowl.
  2. Make marinade by combing oil, broth concentrate and all spices into a thick slurry. Pour over vegetables.
  3. Cube tofu and gently fold into vegetable mixture (be careful not to break it up).
  4. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Place all vegetables, Tofu and marinade in an oven-safe dish and bake at 450.
  6. Combine water, cornstarch and salsa. After vegetable mixture has baked for 30 minutes stir in salsa mixture.
  7. Continue to bake until marinade/sauce has thickened and vegetables are done to your liking. (I went for about 10 more minutes)
  8. Serve with tortillas.
* Vegetable Broth concentrate is a liquid concentrate which is definitely available at both trader joes and whole foods. If you can't find it, you could probably skip it and add a little salt to the oil-spice combo.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

take me out to the ball game!




Last night my husband surprised me with baseball tickets. The Red Sox are in town and he is a HUGE fan. So we had great seats for a game that started at 7 PM. Here is a wierd thing about Baltimore Baseball: Normally you can wander down to the game and get in without any problem because people here do not support the Orioles.

When the Sox or those dreaded Yankees (sorry, I have to be loyal because my DH is loyal to the Red Sox) are in town, it can take forever to work through the stadium because their fans follow them here.

This meant we were supposed to have dinner at the game. This ought to be fun... a vegan eating ballpark food in Baltimore. I am a big believer in planning ahead and doing everything you can to take care of yourself, so I packed myself a quick baseball meal of Vegan Mabo Tofu, Brussels Sprouts, and Kabocha Squash. It was very quick and pretty tasty. The Mabo Tofu I made using this sauce mix which according to the packaging (and ingredient list) was totally vegan!



It couldn't have been any easier. Simply snip the sauce packet and put it in a pot with cubed pressed tofu. Simmer for a few minutes. I thought it was pretty good, but if I hadn't been in a bit of a hurry I would have tried to doctor the sauce a bit. It was pretty spicy but didn't have a depth of flavor that I usually like in Asian sauces. If I can find it again, I am definitely going to give it another try, this time with time to play with the seasonings.

The Brussels sprouts were great. I simply sauteed them with a little oil (very little) and lots of garlic and pepper. Then I finished them with a little low sodium soy sauce.

The Kabocha squash I quickly steamed in the microwave and ate with salt and pepper.

The game was great and I had plenty of good stuff to eat, since I brought it from home. At some point a drunk fan from behind shouted: Brussels Sprouts! At a ball game!! Really?!!

I only wish I had some left, so I could have offered him a few!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Liquid earth......take two

Ok, so true to my word I gave Fell's Point's Liquid Earth a second chance. This time I dragged my DH along for a second opinion. I don't want to waste too much time on a second review because unfortunately my opinion wasn't changed much. So like they used to say on dragnet here are "Just the fact's ma'am":


  • 12:50- We sat down at a clean table
  • 12:54- A server brought over menus. This was an improvement over my last visit at least.
  • 1:00- A waitress comes to take our order. It is the same waitress I last time. We order:
Me: Vegan Filly Cheeze Fake, water
Hubby: the picnic a vegetarian brie and fruit sandwich, espresso

We also both cough up $3 for side salads and decide to share some chips and salsa.

  • a few minutes later (I didn't write this time down, sorry): Our drinks and chips come. My husband nearly chokes on his espresso, which is served in a little metal pitcher. He claims it is incredibly bitter and asks for some milk (which he normally would never use).
  • 1:23- Our food arrives and all of the servers promptly disappear. DH was not terribly pleased or impressed with his food. Mine was actually very good, if not a little greasy. However, it doesn't seem fair to complain about a Filly Cheeze Fake being greasy, vegan or not. The sandwich is huge and I couldn't finish it. Neither of us are too happy about the tiny salads we got for the $3 extra, though. They amounted to 3 slivers of apple, onion, 1 slice of cucumber and a few leaves of lettuce blend.
  • 1:39- We came in starving so we have actually finished our food by now. My husband (who is much less patient than I am) gets up and starts wandering around looking for someone to pay.
  • 1:43- DH pays (and picks up two vegan cookies to go, for the sake of the blog of course) and we leave. Total bill is around $40.
The Vegan Filly Cheeze Fake, which is delicious and a little greasy

Ok, so those are the facts. I tried to limit my commentary. If you don't want commentary, stop reading now though, because here it comes!

My food was actually good today. The service was bad again. There were not a lot of customers in the restaurant. There were five tables of 3 or less in the entire restaurant plus one single person sitting at the counter. We could clearly see the employees chit chatting with each other from our table. For a $40 lunch, I expect better service. Especially when nothing we ate was more difficult than a sandwich. As we left we agreed that we would never go there again. For my money, I would always recommend Red Emma's, which has a similar menu with a similarly casual vibe. Their prices are way cheaper and they always seem to want my business. Plus their coffee is awesome.

By the way about those cookies... I never got one. I left the bag on the counter next to my husband and something happened to them! I can't imagine what, but I imagine they must have tasted just fine!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Vegan lunch fit for a queen!



I am not a lunchbox blogger... I enjoy reading lunchbox blogs and try to pack myself healthy delicious bento-style lunch boxes but I tend not to write about them. Let's just say that it is not my "shtick"

(If you want to read an excellent vegan lunchbox blog check out:
vegan lunch box by cookbook author Jennifer McCann or cafe veg news by the staff of Veg News Magazine)

However, today's lunch was just too good to pass up sharing. Today I picked up some wonderful produce at the store with no idea what I was going to do with everything. I have a tendency to do this. It's a bit of a problem... My typical solution is to place everything on the counter and treat it like a puzzle. I try to figure out how it all goes together.

After this trip I came home with (among other things) zucchini, yellow squash, portobello mushrooms, an assortment of peppers, sweet onions, and a small "Sicilian" eggplant. Hmm... there are some obvious choices I could make here but I was really craving a sandwich. After some digging around in the drawer where we keep bread, chips, cereal and things I unearthed some hot-dog buns... not exactly the basis for a gourmet meal but they got me thinking. Finally, I came up with a marinated vegetable hoagie on toasted buns with vegan cream cheeze. Feel free to replace the very plain (and less nutritious) hot-dog buns with a different type of bread. Later when I could find some brown rice tortillas I enjoyed the leftovers again and they were just as good!




Marinated Vegetable Hoagie

Ingredients:
1 yellow squash
1 zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 red pepper
1 cup chopped portobello mushrooms

for the dressing:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup oil (I used canola)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 TBS crunchy whole grain mustard
garlic powder
basil
freshly ground black pepper
(all to taste)

bread of your choice
vegan non-hydrogenated cream cheese

Method:
  1. Chop all vegetables and put in a Tupperware container.
  2. Mix dressing ingredients carefully, check and adjust seasoning.
  3. Pour over vegetables and allow to marinate for at least one hour.
  4. Pour vegetables and marinade in a 3 quart stock pot and simmer on low until vegetables are cooked to your preferred level on doneness and marinade is slightly reduced.
  5. Strain veggies out of marinade and reserve for later if desired.
  6. Toast bread, smear with cream "cheeze" and top with warm veggies.
Note: This makes enough for 6-8 sandwiches depending on the size and type of bread. I left my vegetables in the marinade while I was storing the leftovers.

When I took my lunch to work I didn't reheat it, I just ate it lukewarm. It was still delicious and tasty! The vegetables were satisfying, with a little sweet, tart tang from the vinegar and a creamy rich mouth feel due to the cream "cheeze".