Monday, January 30, 2012

Meals: Tested, Tasted, and Approved

Hey everyone, sorry for the prolonged absence but work has been serving up Hot, Fresh Hell the past few weeks. Sadly I don't think things are going to ease up any time soon, so the posts will likely be sparse for the next few months. What will the internerds do without me?!?!

Apologies aside, without further ado, here are some:

I bought this book in the thrift store and Mr Stacy was all "you could veganize those recipes" and I was all "why would anyone bother?!" Seriously gross stuff.  But I liked its looks :).

Here are some not-gross things, though.  First up, a coconut curry very loosely based on this recipe.

Served atop a baked potato, which was quite nice.

And this bad boy:

which was a veganized version of this recipe.  Anyone who reads this blog may know that I love kale and Brussels sprouts. So. Much! So putting the two together should have occurred to me a long time ago. I basically followed the recipe but used toasted bread crumbs and nooch in lieu of the cheese. Suck it, Bon Appetit.

Just a few other things we've enjoyed recently.  Have you ever added bulgur to chili? You should. It's nice.

And curried cabbage with black mustard seed is also tasty (not to mention the red dal): 

But this!!!! This!!!! I love Jae Steele so much! This is from her book Get It Ripe. I tried to find a recipe on the internet but couldn't. ANyhow, it's the sesame-soba-kale dish and this picture (like all my pictures, durn it) does not do this dish justice.  Purple kale is not that photogenic. 

I have made this about 3X over the past few weeks when I came home exhausted and ravenous.  It comes together in the time it'll take you to boil the soba. I did add tofu for protein's sake and sriracha for nom's sake, ha. I also just made it with chickpeas instead of tofu and that was great too. 

That's about it.  Inspired by everyone doing cleanses etc in the blogosphere, I bought Crazy Sexy Diet. I am also trying to eat more raw foods, not that you'd know it from this post. I have to strike a balance bt driving my husband nuts and fulfilling my periodic urges to try strange diets, so I've been eating all raw all day until dinner.  Then we have something very heavy on the veggies but not raw.  Anyone else reading this book? I'd say it's about 70% excellent advice, 30%....errr.....less than excellent advice??? Still, anything to get more people eating their veggies, right?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Odds and Ends and DIY

We've been having a lot of roasted butternut squash 'round these parts lately, and one of them was a MONSTER! Size-wise, that is.  I roasted it up with a lot of herbs, olive oil, red pepper, onions, and a little brown sugar and served it atop a salad. All classy-like.  Pizza on the side w/ Tofurky sausage (accept no substitutes).

There was a lot of roasted squash left over, so I pureed it up into some soup.  Tasty!

As far as DIY is concerned, I made kimchi following Renae's recipe. This is maybe the 4th time I've made it, and it never fails to please.  It's definitely as good as store-bought, even better because it's fish-free!! That missing top quarter is missing because I ate it. Straight. Noms. 

Finally, do you guys make your own sprouts in a jar? Probably everyone knew about this but me, but I started doing this a couple of years ago and it's great. Indoor winter gardening + cheap sprouts = hooray!!! They do kind of look like, well something else.  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I love Mark Bittman

Here is a new Mark Bittman article on vegan cooking and its merits in the NY Times, including some recipes  that look easy and tasty. I have a big ol' crush on Bittman and love reading his stuff--just don't read the comments.  Well, some of them are fine, others will make you want to reach through your monitor and throttle someone.

Happy New Year, friends!!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Leftover round-up = magic

Hey, I wasn't planning on posting anything today, but this came together so nicely I couldn't resist.  I had some leftover tofu fakin' (thinly sliced tofu that had been marinating in soy sauce, maple syrup, and liquid smoke), sweet potatoes, half an avocado, and some arugula that badly needed eating.  So I made what I'm calling fakin' sweet potato hash.  First I sauteed the fakin' until it was nice and crispy, then the sweet potatoes (I had the equivalent of two medium-sized ones), some pepitas, and half an onion until they were brown.  Then I turned the heat off and stirred in the avocado, some whole-grain mustard, and smoked paprika, and served the whole mess atop a bed of arugula.  This was really good!  Funny how I've made several highly engineered meal enterprises that turned out less than fabulous (see my last post)--meanwhile this improvised slop was totally gourmet and delicious.  Go figure.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

It just wouldn't be the holiday season without a lingering sense of disappointment....

Gather 'round while I give you the pertinent details behind this meal.  Everyone settled in?  Good, because this may take while....  

Did you ever have a favorite food experience that reached mythical proportions in your memory once it was no longer accessible?  I'm not positive this phenomenon has to be restricted to one-time eating experiences, although such cases may be particularly likely to lead to potent future obsessions.  I'm talking about eating something that you absolutely fall in love with, and then you are somehow tragically cut off from that something.  Maybe you move away from the restaurant that sold it, maybe they stop offering it on the menu, maybe (as in the present case) the place goes out of business.  Regardless of how, you are now stone-cold S.O.L.  

Or are you?!?! Maybe you can reverse-engineer your beloved food obsession!!!  Oh sure, you may hear objections from gloomy skeptics (like your very own mother, just say for instance, who may be nursing her own tragic obsession with the exact same food item).  Such pessimistic nay-sayers may try to tell you it can't be done.  They may insist that you leave the past in the past, that you are setting yourself up for further heartbreak.  They may further insist that the reason your beloved object tasted so great was because it was cooked on a grill with grisly meat products, which you (as a vegan) are in no position to simulate.  

Yet you (despite a reputation to the contrary) are not a pessimist.  You are a confident cook who knows her way around a kitchen.  So you set out to resurrect the world's best tempeh burger from beyond the grave.  You don't even really like tempeh all that much usually, preferring tofu and seitan, but something about this burger was magic and you are determined to recreate it.  It was smoky, blackened, and served with grilled mushrooms and green chile.  You start by marinating your tempeh overnight in soy sauce, tomato paste, liquid smoke, and brown sugar.  You make your very own homemade sesame seed buns.  You make a slaw and sweet potato fries for sides, and you grill up some red onions, mushrooms, and chile to go with the veganaise and Tofutti slices you procured.  After frying up the tempeh, you assemble it all, and it looks, well, pretty much perfect***.  

Then you sit down to eat, and it tastes, well, disappointing.  It's certainly not bad, but it's just not quite right.  The condiments are pretty much spot-on, but the burger itself is lacking something, a certain smokiness,'s hard to say exactly what.   The texture is part of the problem in that your burger is a little mushy, lacking the crispiness of the original.

So now what? Keep trying or concede defeat? Anybody got a great technique for cooking up crispy tempeh burgers?  Or is the problem not with the food, but with the memory of something so perfect that any real-life facsimile is bound to disappoint?

***seriously, usually my food looks pretty questionable, but this is pretty much textbook, no?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Recent noms I have loved, etc.

Hey everyone, here are a few things we've eaten/drank/snuggled with around the house lately for your possible viewing pleasure (I don't want to get presumptuous :)).  

Woke up kind of late one morning and needed to fix some fast, easy lunch for work.  Usually I like to have a salad but we didn't have any greens in the house, so I threw some quinoa, lentils, broth, and curry powder in the rice cooker first thing after getting up.  After I'd finished getting ready, the quinoa/lentils were cooked, and I stirred in some cashews, frozen peas, and cilantro (raisins would have been great, too, but we were out of everything! It was a Friday, what can I say?).  It ended up being a really easy, healthy lunch.

This next dinner was tasty but nothing special (Melomeal's magic three ingredient burger, fries, and broc). However, I did want to comment on the "cheese" sauce on the roasted broccoli, which came from Joanne Stepaniak's uncheese cookbook, which I bought awhile ago and have barely used. The awesome thing about this particular recipe (which is called something like "instant cheese sauce") is that it really is virtually instant, but still totally delicious.  This broc was BEGGING for a sauce, but everything else was about ready to serve. I thumbed quickly through the cookbook, not expected to find anything fast, but there it was, and it was indeed fast and delicious!!!

Adorable kitty break. That is all. 

This next dish came from your vegan mom. It's the hot dog reuben!!!!  We have actually been trying hard to eat more healthfully over here for the past year, so this felt like a bit of junk food (I haven't had a sandwich on two pieces of bread in awhile!).  Boy was this good, though. I did make a loaf of homemade rye bread, which is at least partly why this sandwich looks so monstrous (I can never slice homemade bread very thinly).  Sauerkraut, avocado, and Tofurky dogs inside. Sauerkraut, I was wrong about you all those years. I apologize for all my rude comments about your smell. 

This may or may not spell something.

This last thing was gnocchi with pesto, tomatoes, and peppers on greens with roasted squash.  The pesto, tomatoes, and peppers all came from our summer stash of things we froze. 

Which brings me to my last thoughts for this post. How does eating seasonally/locally (I'll treat them as interchangeable terms, although they aren't really) fit into your cooking? This is on my mind for two reasons: first, Ingrid recently posted some very delicious-looking eats from Terry Walters' book, Clean Food, on her excellent and inspiring blog, and it got me thinking about this cookbook.  Let me say that while I really do think it's a great book, it's predicated on cooking seasonally, but often misses the mark in that regard.  I still love the book and highly recommend it; I just think there are some inaccuracies WRT the seasonality of some of the ingredients.  This is probably out of necessity: no one but the most hard-core locavore is going to want to make recipes that consist solely of cabbage, winter squash, and potatoes all winter.  But still.....I think for seasonal eating, Jae Steele's books are a little more accurate.

The other reason this is on my mind is that it's starting to be that time when the growing season is winding down for pretty much all of the US and Canada. Don't believe me? Check out this handy map.

It may not be clear from previous posts, but we are pretty serious gardeners here at SCB and we try really hard to eat seasonally.  One of the main reasons I initially started eating vegan was for environmental reasons.  I know that one person's food choices are not going to undo the damage a meat/dairy-based diet has done to the planet, but I didn't want to be a part of the wholesale environmental destruction the food industry imparts anymore (or at least I wanted to reduce my role in it).  However, veggie crops, especially those that come from large-scale convention farming, also have an environmental impact, and soon it will be that time of year where if you want to eat something green, it is unlikely to be local, and it gets harder to balance a plant-centric diet with eating locally.

Anyone who has perused my blog will readily be able to find examples of non-local eats, but most of what we eat here produce-wise comes from our garden and local farmers (every veg in this post other than the frozen peas and avocado, in fact).  At least, this is true 8-9 months out of the year.  But in February, there will be a time when a bunch of arugula trucked in from Texas will probably look too good to say no to.

Anyone else out there obsessively fixate on this stuff???