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)

  • Easy to find
  • Decent nutrition profile, if you eat just one slice
  • Pre-cut slices are easy for sandwiches
  • 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

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)

  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

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
freshly ground black pepper
(all to taste)

bread of your choice
vegan non-hydrogenated cream cheese

  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".

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Easy Weeknight Dinners Series presents: Southwestern Wow!

Since my week doesn't seem to be getting any easier... this is the second installment in my new series of simple family dinners for weeknights. Tonight's meal has a slightly higher sodium content than I would like but it is still has a fat free option and is quite tasty. This is so simple that it is almost silly but I was able to throw it together in about 30 minutes and the bulk of that time was spent just letting the rice cook which makes it a definite plus in my book.

Southwestern Wow!

Number of tools: 5 (pot, cutting board, knife, spoon, can opener)
Time: Approximately 30 minutes


olive oil or extra broth for sauteing
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS dried oregano (or you can just give it a good sprinkle...)
2 chipotle peppers*
1 cup uncooked rice (I set this for white because that was what I had, brown rice would be awesome, just adjust the water/vegetable broth)
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 can of low sodium corn (15 ounces)
1 can of black beans (15 ounces)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach

Possible stir-ins and additions to make it fancier:
Vegan cheese
Vegan sour cream
tortilla chips


  1. In a tiny amount of olive oil or broth saute the onion and garlic until slightly translucent.
  2. Add the chipotles and oregano stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in the dry rice for a few seconds until everything is well mixed then add the water.
  4. Bring to a boil, add corn and beans.
  5. Return pot to a boil then reduce heat.
  6. Simmer mixture until rice is done (mine took about 25 minutes) adding the spinach a few minutes before serving in order to heat through.
* A note about those chipotles: Two make it pretty spicy so you may want to reduce them amount or omit them all together. Also if you don't have chipotles on hand DO NOT even consider going to the store. This is supposed to be quick and easy! Use some other type of hot pepper or a small sprinkle of hot sauce.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Easy Weeknight Dinners Series presents: Veggie Pasta Presto!

This has been one of those crazy weeks where there haven't been nearly enough hours in the day to accomplish even half of my to-do list. I am lucky if my husband and I eat one balanced meal-a-day (I wonder...do cheerios even count as a balanced meal?) and takeout menus are scattered across the dining room table instead of dinner plates plates heaped with nutritious and lovingly cooked meals.

This is a sure sign that I need an intervention...

As I was pondering with great distaste my lack of both time and tasty vegetable concoctions it occurred to me that many people were also probably suffering from similar time constraints. After all, I can't possibly be the only person with a long commute, large to-do-list etc... Thus I was inspired to start this little series:

Easy Weeknight Dinners

Nothing you'll find within this series could ever pass for gourmet. But it is all quick, simple and nutritious. Best of all, the recipes shouldn't require any special trips to the health food store for weird ingredients.

Without any further ado... here is the first installment.

Veggie Pasta Presto!
Number of tools: 6 (2 pots, cutting board, knife, spoon, strainer)
Time: Approximately 35 minutes
1 lb penne pasta
1 lb frozen broccoli
olive oil or white wine for sauteing
additional olive oil/ vegan butter for pasta (optional)
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
generous sprinkle basil
generous sprinkle marjoram
1 can plum tomatoes (28 ounces)
1 cup frozen peas

  1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil for pasta.
  2. In a tiny amount of olive oil or white wine (for fat free version) saute onion, carrot and garlic.
  3. When onion is nearly translucent add basil and marjoram and saute for about a minute more.
  4. Add canned tomatoes (including liquid) and bring to a boil. Break up tomatoes using the spoon and boil for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary (if you like a sweeter sauce, this would be the time to add sweetener... though I don't advocate it)
  5. By now the water should be boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions, adding the frozen broccoli for the final few minutes of cooking time.
  6. Drain the pasta and broccoli and return to pot.
  7. If desired, stir either olive oil or vegan butter through pasta (to prevent sticking) and broccoli and season generously with pepper and salt if necessary (skip this step for fat free).
  8. Stir in vegetable mixture and serve.
Note: My husband actually likes this dish as it stands in step 7 with LOTS of pepper and olive oil. He calls it "Macaroni and Greens". This is what it looks like.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Red Emmas.... Anarchist bookstore? Internet Cafe? Vegan Restaurant?

It depends on who you ask....

One thing is true though, whenever I feel like a small treat: coffee, a bagel with hummus or a vegan doughnut, I head to Red Emma's which is a "worker-owned and collectively managed bookstore and coffeehouse". I lifted this description directly from their website, because if you ask the average Joesephine on the street, these are the range of possible descriptions you might get:

"Oh... you mean the communist book store?"

"that place is run by a bunch of hippies"

"That's a vegetarian internet cafe"

"I think its some sort of anarchist coffee shop... they have meetings and stuff"

Regardless of what people call it, Red Emma's is a pretty cool place. The menu is vegetarian with many vegan offerings. They offer tons of good coffees and teas. My personal favorites include their wide selection of vegan baked goods from Brunie Bakery,especially the cupcakes, doughnuts and now the vegan cinnamon rolls!!

I also imbibe a ton of their iced coffee and enjoy their bagel sandwiches. If I am going to eat hummus in a restaurant this is one of my top two places to go! The food is never fancy but it is tasty and their prices are fair.

They have a small selection of books, magazines, "zines" and CDs as well free internet. The overall vibe is cozy and laid-back.

Plus they even have their own wikipedia entry!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Everything but the kitchen sink....

Have you ever wanted something sweet... I mean really CRAVED something sweet? Craved sweetness in a way that a banana or a bowl of cereal can't solve? That was my problem today. So I decided to make muffins, which are essentially cake without the added fuss of frosting. Except I couldn't seem to make up my mind, vanilla-coconut muffins, blueberry muffins, banana muffins.... why not all three?

As a result I ended up with these oddly pale little muffins that actually sated my sweet tooth. I still have no idea what I was thinking when I look at the ingredient list...

Everything but the kitchen sink muffins
(if you have a regular muffin tin this should make about 24 muffins)

3 TBS Earth Balance, or other vegan "butter"
3 TBS vegan non-hydrogenated shortening
2/3 cup sugar
1 medium banana
5 TBS ground flax seed + 8 TBS cold water
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 cup coconut milk (not the canned kind, the kind in a carton such as "So Delicious" brand)
1 cup blueberries

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Cream butter, shortening and sugar.
  • Add banana and combine until well mashed.
  • In a blender combine flax and water, then add to butter mixture.
  • Add vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Gradually add flour mixture alternating with the milk until everything is combined.
  • Stir in blueberries by hand.
  • Bake in muffin tins 35-40 minutes.

Ever considered going vegan???

Have you ever considered going vegan but feel that there are too many obstacles in your way? Perhaps you are nearly there, but need to give up butter or cheese... well the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine is about to give you the support you need!

Beginning September 8th, they encourage you to jump-start your health by trying out a vegan diet for twenty one days. By signing up for their free program they will send you support, recipes and motivational web posts to help you try living life as a vegan, as you experience how it affects your health and mindset.

If you have ever considered a vegan diet and lifestyle, I encourage you to give it a try!

You can find more information at:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Curry in a hurry!

Tonight I got home from work to a fridge full of unrelated veggies and a growling stomach... what to do? Curry! Curries are fast and always seem to bring together the best dinners out of odds and ends of vegetation. I have a rice cooker, so usually I can have dinner done in the time it takes for the rice to cook!

Curry #1: Spicy Thai Panang Curry
(this one is great for when you have a stuffed nose)

the tiniest amount of vegetable or peanut oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 inch of ginger grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans of panang curry paste
1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
juice of one lime
2 cans coconut milk
small hot dried peppers, to taste (a normal palate will not need these as panang by itself is very hot)
assorted veggies (good choices: carrots, snow peas, broccoli, summer squash, zucchini, green beans, tofu, english peas)

  • In a saucepan fry onion, ginger and garlic in oil. (Use as little as possible)
  • Stir in curry paste and stir constantly until paste is well mixed with aromatics and you can smell the spices, stir in basil leaves.
  • Add lime juice and coconut milk.
  • If using throw in dried peppers and bring to a boil.
  • Add veggies and cook until they are done.
Curry # 2 Indian Style Aromatic Tomato Curry

(please note: spice measurements are approximate, please adjust to your own tastes!)
1 tsp. Coriander
1 TBS Garam Masala
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp clove powder
1 tsp cardamom powder
pinch red pepper flakes
tiny amount of mild oil such as vegetable or peanut
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, grated
1 small onion, chopped
1 potato, peeled & cubed
1 carrot, chopped
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 cup chopped okra
1/2 cup frozen english peas
  • In a very hot, dry pan toast spices.
  • Add a small amount of oil and saute onion, garlic and ginger.
  • Add potatoes and carrots and continue to saute, stirring constantly.
  • When potatoes have browned slightly add canned tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  • After boiling for 5 minutes, stir in remaining vegetables and cook until potatoes are done.
  • Taste and add salt if necessary.

Serve both curries with a high quality basmati rice.

A review of Paul Chen's in Baltimore

Anytime we want Chinese takeout here at home we order it from Paul Chen Hong Kong Restaurant. They have one of the most extensive vegetarian menu's for Chinese takeout that I have even seen. In fact... their menu is so extensive that it has ruined me for other restaurants.

When I am forced to eat at other Chinese restaurant's I am stunned that they do not offer as many choices! The have vegan springrolls and dumplings, four vegan soups and mock meats galore. If yu check out the online or in-house menu they have also labeled the vegetarian options throughout the regular menu (be sure to remember to get your fried rice without egg). They even offer brown sticky rice!!

Of the vegetarian delight entrees, the only thing I am pretty sure is not vegan is the pancakes in the Monk's Mu shu chicken. So I order the dish without pancakes. Nearly everything is perfect and low on the grease and delivery is almost always prompt. My husband and I love this place and I encourage you to give them a try. My personal favorites are: Monk's beef with Broccoli, Monk's Mu-shu chicken (no pancakes), Monk's Kung-Pao Chicken, broccoli in hot garlic sauce and the Sno Peas and Bok Choy with Mushroom. I also almost always get spring rolls.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

phee phi pho phum....

So this whole saga started when I saw an innocent looking cube of "pho" bouillon at H-mart (my local asian grocery). I had no idea what pho was but my curiosity was peaked! It turns out that pho is basically the national dish of Vietnam and apparently totally tasty and totally not vegan....

Well I can't seem to walk away from a challenge to save my life so I decided to give it my best shot. I read all I could about Vietnamese Pho, including articles about how it should never be vegetarian and articles describing how it could be made vegetarian occasionally... I finally came up with this one.

At first I was afraid to even take a bite because the broth was a mysterious blackish color... but I was brave. Boy was I glad I was because it was was great. The flavors were rich and warming. Not only did I enjoy it but my husband (remember... the non-vegan) and my neighbor loved it too!!

I cannot attest to its authenticity, so if I made some critical misstep (besides the obvious ones... i.e. no fish sauce) feel free to let me know but please understand that this is pho-inspired more than actually pho. I have never had real pho and probably never will since it seems impossible to find a vegan version in a restaurant. Regardless I encourage you to be brave and wade into the murky blackness because the taste was exotic and delightful. It wasn't too difficult either!!

By the way if you want a lighter broth, strain it through cheesecloth or find whole components of all of the spices in the chinese 5 spice (ie whole cinnamon sticks, whole star aniseed etc..)

Vietnamese Pho, sort of

4 shallots
3 inches of ginger
25 basil leaves
12 cloves of garlic (DO NOT BE AFRAID... THEY WILL MELLOW OUT!!)
1 cup asian cooking wine
1/2 cup dried shitakes
2 heaping tsp chinese 5 spice blend
1 tsp dried cilantro
a lot of fresh ground black pepper (I used 30 cranks on my mill)
6 cups vegetable broth or water

1 block baked marinated tofu (I used a store bought "asian" flavor), cubed
1-2 cups napa cabbage chopped
2 green scallions chopped
1/2 cup basil leaves chopped

4 ounces rice pasta (the medium size that looks like linguine), soaked/cooked according to package directions

Optional garnishes:
chopped peanuts
hoisin sauce
Siracha sauce
Chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges


  • Place all ingredients for broth in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Strain out solids, reserving liquid.
  • Return the liquid to stove and add napa & tofu cooking 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in basil and rice pasta and heat through
  • Toss in scallions and serve with various garnishes on side

Like I said... be brave and try it!! It wasn't even difficult!