28 December 2009

Food I've Been Eating Lately

I have a few posts that are still in draft form and a couple of recipes that need to be refined before sharing, so I thought I'd offer you some food porn today. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving 2009 - We followed this recipe for the tofu and gravy. Yum!

Rachael Ray Redux

Off-the-cuff Mexican-type casserole with a mole-like sauce - I'm going to play around with this one some more. I really liked it and the kid LOVED it.

I used to love eggs in a basket and my son still does. We had tofu in a basket for breakfast on Christmas Eve and plan on making it a tradition.

Christmas dinner 2009 - My sister and I made potato kale burritos with mole sauce, and as she so astutely proclaimed, chocolate is always a good choice for dinner! (Or something like that.)

Have you heard of the Texan "treat" called armadillo eggs (or atomic buffalo turds)? My dad recently told me that he had made a ton of them over the summer and I immediately started worrying about his blood pressure and general coronary health. I told him I would try and come up with a vegan version of this truly offensive dish. I'm not there yet, but I did make these. Mini sweet peppers halved, seeded, filled with Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, topped with an olive or mushroom and sprinkled with some Spike seasoning. I put them in a 325 degree oven for about 12 minutes. They tasted even better cold the next day.

22 November 2009

Response: Is Vegan the New Locavore?

Veganism seems to be getting a lot of attention lately, locally and nationally. One of Spokane's prominent locavore bloggers is even pondering the idea. Craig, of Year of Plenty, has a recent post in which he references a New York Times Op-Ed piece about veganism. Craig seems to be approaching the idea of veganism from an environmental view point, whereas the Times contributor takes an ethical stance using some rather polarizing language. There is some obvious discomfort between these two philosophies and my humble input has been requested. I'm very flattered (and surprised!) to be consulted on this topic. I'll try my best to address this heady issue.

A lot of the arguments used to promote veganism can be off putting — the use of words like "murder" often seem extremist. It's unfortunate that some people choose to use such hyperbolic language when discussing veganism in broad terms. Ultimately, veganism comes from a place of compassion — for animals, human beings and the environment.

The raising of animals for food and clothing has an undeniably detrimental effect on the environment — beyond that, it also induces human rights and social justice issues (Read Fast Food Nation or watch Food, Inc., neither of which promote even a vegetarianism lifestyle, to get a better idea of the human cost of raising animals for consumption). The moment we start talking animal rights or welfare, though, tensions rise. The question of whether or not to eat meat (or any animal products) triggers something deep within ourselves and can cause us to question exactly what it means to be human. For many people this can be a very uncomfortable experience.

The author of the Times piece that sparked this discussion makes some good points, but overall I have to disagree with his approach. I am a vegan for ethical reasons, but my convictions don't end there. I also choose a vegan lifestyle for health and environmental reasons. I just never cared much for meat and like 75% of the world's population, I'm lactose intolerant. There are many different reasons one may choose to be vegan. As we are all individuals, each person chooses to approach the subject differently. Steiner chooses a more hostile and decidedly philosophical approach than I do.

Little more than a year ago, I founded a social group called Spokane Vegans. The impetus for this group was my selfish desire for a vegan community in Spokane. I had been vegan just over a year at the time and didn't have relationships with any other vegans in the area. I just wanted to have some friends to share food with and hoped we might also serve as a support network for each other. With the help of my co-organizer, this little group has grown quite a bit the past year, both in membership and scope. It may be surprising to know that not all of our members are vegan.

The approach that Spokane Vegans takes is very much in line with my own philosophies on veganism. We strive to foster a dialogue on veganism in the community while promoting respect for all earthlings and have fun doing it. To me it just doesn't make much sense to talk about compassion for animals if that same compassion and respect is not extended to the intended audience. I feel very strongly about my reasons for being vegan and I will not apologize for them, but I also won't force my beliefs on anyone. Sometimes we need to be confronted with facts, but when an idea is presented in a confrontational manner it may often do more harm than good.

Veganism is a broad idea with many talking points. Trying to address them all could turn this blog post into a something more akin to a treatise, so I'll try to get back to the topic at hand. Steiner's op-ed piece should not be read as an introduction to veganism. For someone considering their carbon footprint, the adoption of a responsible vegan lifestyle would certainly lessen one's environmental impact and should be considered if this is the ultimate goal. Fact-based readings would prove to be more convincing and beneficial in this case. Vegan Outreach has a page devoted to the environment on their web site. The Vegan Society also provides some great information on the many environmental impacts of animal production. For an unbiased look at the issue, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production has made their full report available online.

Regardless of dietary preferences, I invite the Year of Plenty family and the whole of Spokane to join the Spokane Vegans at our next vegan potluck for some good conversation and great food! We love to talk about and eat food, and the only fights we have are over who gets the last cupcake.

20 November 2009


We all like the word free, but when is something really ever truly free? Not often. But this Sunday at the Peaceful Valley Community Center, a small group of community-minded individuals will be hosting the Really, Really Free Market. The idea is to give away want you don't want or need anymore and take what you do need - for FREE. This isn't a swap or a sale. It's simply free. What a great answer to our throw-away consumer culture that is even more rampant this time of year!

Besides offering tables of free stuff, the market will also include workshops and a vegan potluck. So if you're in Spokane this Sunday, get together your old winter coats, too-tight jeans, extra chairs and your favorite vegan dish and get down to the Really, Really Free Market! See you there!

What: Really, Really Free Market
When: Sunday 11/22 @1pm - 6pm
Where: Peaceful Valley Community Center 214 N Cedar
Tentative Schedule of Events:
1:00 – Doors Open
2:00 – Vegan Potluck
3:00 – Creative Writing Workshop
4:00 – Crocheting Workshop
5:00 – Singing and Dancing
6:00 – Doors Close

For more info or updates about the RRFM, write to spokanefreemarket@gmail.com

28 October 2009

Black Beans with Roasted Pumpkin

Did you know you can eat those mini pumpkins that often end up as seasonal decoration? I received those two little cuties pictured above in my produce box a few weeks ago and had no idea what I'd do with them. I was a little upset to think that they'd just serve as knick-knacks for a few weeks before ending up in the trash. (I don't compost. I know...) I couldn't believe that Fresh Abundance would throw ornamental food into one of their weekly produce boxes, so I did a little research. A friend told me that she was told our particular variety is a mini jack-o-lantern. Doesn't sound very appetizing, but then I came across this post over at The Kitchn. I thought stuffed pumpkins would be cute (sans egg, cheese and meat, of course!), but I wasn't really in the mood for cute. I wanted something hearty. Something satisfying. I remembered seeing this recipe for black beans on the same website and suddenly I had my inspiration!

I peeled and cubed the pumpkin and tossed it with olive oil, cumin, nutmeg and salt and pepper and roasted for about 15 minutes. In a large pan I sauteed some red onion with pickled garlic, added some black beans and drizzled in a little tamari, balsamic and sake. When the pumpkin was tender, I added that to the pan also and threw in a little bit of fresh sage. I served the beans and pumpkin over jasmine rice. (We usually eat brown basmati rice, but sometimes I just crave jasmine!) I was so pleased with how this came out. I hadn't even finished eating my first helping and I was already looking forward to making it again. My son loved it too and specifically requested leftovers for lunch the next day.

I love autumn!

22 October 2009

A Face for Radio

In little more than an hour, I'll be on the radio with Leah talking about Spokane Vegans. One of our group members, Lindsae hosts a show called The Dreadful Show every Thursday on KYRS and she's invited us to join her this week! If you're local, tune in to KYRS at 92.3 or 89.9 FM. You can also stream online at KYRS.org. See you on the radio!

21 October 2009

Curry Thing

I could live the rest of my life eating nothing but curry. I prefer Indian curries, but never make them because they require ingredients that I'm either not familiar with or am intimidated by. Most of the curries I make at home utilize one of those bottled pastes or powders and coconut milk. Knowing that I love curry so much, I don't know why I hadn't made it in such a long time. So when my son asked for curry last night, I eagerly obliged. Yesterday we picked up our bi-weekly produce box. I used the potatoes, carrots and lovely red onion from the box along with some curry flavor Small Planet tofu. Yum. I had leftovers for lunch today.I don't know what I had planned for dinner tonight, but when Ben asked for curry again, how could I say no? Again I looked for inspiration in the vegetable crisper. This time I found celery, carrots and onions. (What's that French term for the trinity of these three aromatics? I've watched enough cooking shows in my life to know that these ingredients mean something together, I just can't remember what it is.) I threw in the rest of the tofu, more coconut milk and this time added a little tahini and some garbanzo beans. Looks like I'll have leftovers for lunch again tomorrow. There really aren't any major flavor differences between these two (or four) meals, but I don't care. That's how much I love curry.

I served a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA a few years ago and I had to go to a few three or four-day training conferences where we stayed overnight in another city. They always had the meals catered and much to my surprise, always had vegan offerings. On one of these trips, the first veggie meal served was a delicious peanut butter curry that was subsequently used in each of the following meals for the duration of our stay - even as a topping for baked potatoes! After day two, everyone was complaining, but I was in heaven. Food at a catered event like that can be iffy, even if it is vegan. But I feasted on delicious curry for the better part of that week.

19 October 2009

Cheez Ball

I made a vegan cheese ball. And it tastes good! Seriously. I fed it to omnivores and vegetarians and they all liked it. It doesn't really taste like cheese, but really, do you want it to? I don't. I posted the recipe over on the Shrinking Violet Society's blog. Enjoy!

13 October 2009

More Soup!

We celebrated my mom's birthday on Sunday. Her has back was giving her trouble (she's not that old!) so we stayed in and made soup! We took the idea of Vegan Dad's Creamy Chunky Cauliflower Chowder and used it as a base. My mom wanted curried cauliflower soup, but my step-dad really doesn't like curry, so we made two batches. We added coconut milk to both, curry to one and went super savory on the other with lots of Dijon mustard. Vegan Dad's recipe is great to play around with and build on. The chowder takes a lot of prep, so it probably isn't a weeknight dinner, but it's totally worth the effort!

I had a great time cooking with my family and the soup was awesome! (In fact, I was so busy enjoying my dinner, I almost forgot to take a picture until it was almost gone.) My mom said it was better than anything she could have ordered out and was happy we stayed in. And it was all vegan! After dinner, we had some GF vegan chocolate cupcakes (a Cherrybrook Kitchen mix - meh) and watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Happy birthday, mom!

12 October 2009

Soup Season

This is the year of soup! Until recently, I never really got too excited about soups or stews. I don't know what changed, but all of a sudden I'm crazy about the comforting ease of making and eating soup. I've been eying a recipe for pasta & bean soup from Maxine Clark's cookbook, Italian Kitchen that was printed in October's issue of Woman's Day magazine and finally decided to give it a try. Once again, my co-worker's abundant magazine subscriptions and my employer's frugality inspired my dinner. Who knew?

(Please forgive the poor picture quality. Soup tends to be a little camera shy and photographing steaming-hot food is a bit of a challenge.)

The original recipe calls for dried beans, but I used canned and adjusted things accordingly. I also used a Not Chicken veggie bouillon instead of the broth called for in the recipe. The bouillon added more salt and oil, I believe, so I adjusted the oil and did not add any additional salt. The soup turned out really well! We'll happily be eating leftovers for lunch the next two days. Another great thing about soups - leftovers!

You'll Need:

2 cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
8 C vegetable broth or equivalent prepared veggie bouillon
1 C short pasta (I used Ancient Harvest quinoa elbows)
4 medium fresh tomatoes, chopped (thanks, Keena!)
1/4 C Italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Add broth (or prepared bouillon), reserving 1 cup, to a large soup pot with garlic and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta. While pasta cooks, puree 1 1/2 cans of the beans with reserved liquid and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Stir bean puree and remaining whole beans into pasta and broth, simmer until pasta is tender. Remove pot from heat and stir in tomatoes and parsley. Ladle into individual warmed bowls and garnish with fresh cracked black pepper. Bellissimo!

06 October 2009

Food Porn

I'm feeling a little lazy today, but I want to try and post most days this month for Vegan MoFo so today you're getting pictures. Pictures of some vegan food that I've eaten over the past year. I looked through some of my early posts and those photos were horrendous! The following are a little bit better, I think.

Rice Milk Chocolate: Super tasty, but $5 a bar.

Breakfast: Quinoa with blueberries.

Love: Tofu and peanut butter were made for each other.

Father's Day Dinner: My sister and I made mole lentil chili. Yum!

The Easiest Banana Bread: I need to try and make this one gluten free. I miss banana bread already.

Benniditto's Alternative Veggie: Goodbye pizza! Anyone know of a place in town that makes a GF vegan pie?

Comfort Food: Mushroom soup with quinoa, chickpeas and bok choy.

Hyperlocavore: I want to try and make these potato cakes again; they were so tasty. Even without salt!

My First Time: When I got a fennel bulb in my first produce box from Fresh abundance I didn't know what the heck I was going to do with it. Obviously, I roasted it like you would do with anything weird that's round-ish and hard. It was pretty tasty.

Mmmm: Waffles with huckleberry syrup and EB. I miss you too, waffles!

Now I'm hungry.

04 October 2009

Everyone is doing it...

The Vegan MoFo III survey (Because I know you're just dying to read my answers.)

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
I've been making my own soymilk lately, but I really like hazelnut milk.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Chili, GF scones (I hope to perfect these!) and something with potatoes (I'm really not good with recipes - I just wing it).

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
I rarely eat popcorn, but if I do, I like some EB and salt on it.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
I tried to cook some kind of zucchini noodle peanutty sauce thing for a boyfriend once and it was almost inedible. (So much for making a good impression.)

5. Favorite pickled item?
Okra. Yum.

6. How do you organize your recipes?
I don't.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Trash and recycle.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?
Rice, avocados and tomatoes.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
I remember food being a big deal whenever we were with my (maternal) grandparents, whether it was for the holidays or not. My grandfather was a bit of a gourmand and always had something tasty on the table.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss, any flavor (except that strawberry lemon crap).

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
My wine key. (What's good food without good wine?)

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Cilantro - I don't care what you say!

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two by Anna Thomas (1979 edition). I received this cookbook when my grandfather passed away. I believe it was given to him by one of my aunts.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
My own quinoa chili.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Cookbooks, a bottle of vermouth and (vegan) dog food.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Liquor (I'm not a lush, I swear), tempeh and green beans.

20. What’s on your grocery list?
Apples, onions, coconut milk... I don't usually make shopping lists, I just grab what looks good. Dangerous, I know.

21. Favorite grocery store?
Fresh Abundance.

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
vegandad.blogspot.com, veganyumyum.com, 101cookbooks.com (not vegan)

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Endangered Species chocolate bars.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
An $8 gluten free baking mix.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
Whole artichokes, hot peppers and fresh okra.

03 October 2009

I've been seeing other grains

Wheat and I have one of those on again off again relationships. Right now we're on the outs and this time maybe for good. I've never been diagnosed with celiac disease (the inability to digest gluten), but I know that my body doesn't like it when I eat a lot of foods containing gluten. Lately, my body has been screaming at me not to eat gluten. Following a gluten free diet is challenge enough, but throw in the commitment to a vegan lifestyle and we're talking hardcore diet restrictions. I've experimented with a gluten free (and vegan) diet a few times the past couple of years. My downfall is always baked goods.

I've found a really good GF mix for chocolate cake/cupcakes and a decent mix for a GF pizza crust and I've even seen some GF vegan veggie burgers out there (gluten is used in almost all faux meats). But trying to find a palatable GF bread that is also vegan is near impossible. And baking anything not from a mix requires investing in a dozen different kinds of GF flours and, it would seem, a degree in chemistry. (I have neither.) Dining out? Dinner at a friend's house? Family get-togethers? Good luck.

Despite this seemingly implausible diet, I'm giving it another try. From here on out (actually, since yesterday), I'm gluten free. Knowing that I was going to make this commitment when I was craving scones on Thursday, I set out to find a recipe for vegan and gluten free scones. I came across this recipe. Intrigued by the use of coconut milk, I decided to give it a try. I tried the recipe twice the past two days, using two different GF flour mixes. Here are the results:

For the first batch, I followed the recipe and used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Mix. The scones came out with a nice texture and good crumb, but the use of garbanzo and fava bean flours in the mix gave the scones a decidedly "beany" taste. I wasn't satisfied and decided to give it another go.

For the second batch, I deviated from the original recipe a little. This time I used Bob's Red Mill GF Pancake Mix. I omitted the lemon zest and added vanilla. I also topped the scones with cocoa powder and cinnamon. The flavor of the second batch was definitely more pleasing, but the texture was too heavy, grainy and dry.

So both experiments were a bust, but I haven't given up yet.

01 October 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes

I made these a while ago after seeing Lauren Ulm's recipe over on Vegan Yum Yum . I'd never had fried green tomatoes before, so I was anxious to try them. My friend, Monique generously shared some tomatoes from her garden.

The result? Yum! The cornmeal I used was a little coarser than what Ulm apparently uses, but it worked just fine. I only had the chance to make these the one time this summer, but I'll be looking forward to trying them again next year. If you make these, don't skip the balsamic reduction. The reduction was also a new recipe for me (so easy!) and it's now a regular part of my repertoire. My son asks for a balsamic reduction on almost everything.

Lauren Ulm has a new cookbook called Vegan Yum Yum that just came out a couple of weeks ago. You can bet that it will be on my wish list this holiday season!

Also, it's Vegan MoFo! That's right. I'm going to try and post most weekdays and maybe a little on the weekends for the entire month of October. Wish me luck! And be sure to check out the other participating blogs.

27 September 2009

Mushroom Dip Sandwiches

The past month has kept me pretty busy and because of that, I've neglected this blog. But I'm back with a recipe to share!

Growing up, French dips were my favorite sandwich. It was always a special treat when my dad took us out for lunch at the little cafe next to the repair garage that my mom and dad owned and operated. I always ordered the French dip. I loved the combination of textures, the warmth of the au jus and the act of dipping the sandwich that made the sandwich so much fun to eat. Something got me thinking of all that the other day and inspired me to come up with a vegan version of this forgotten love.

My step-dad and step-brother were working on my car yesterday and a home-cooked lunch seemed like the perfect thank you for their help. My mom helped me with the shopping and in the kitchen while the guys did their thing outside. Mushrooms were the obvious stand-in for the traditional roast beef, but the au jus took a little more thought. I wanted a mushroom broth, but the store we went to didn't carry any. I ended up getting a creamy portobello mushroom soup (Imagine brand) and it worked well enough. I realized today that one of those Not Beef bouillons would have been great, but there's always next time. Going beyond the traditional recipe, I spread some aioli on the rolls and melted some mozzarella (vegan for me, everyone else had the real stuff) over the mushrooms just before serving.

The sandwiches turned out great. My omni family loved them, even my veggie-suspicious step-brother and my step-dad insisted that I make them again. We made up a simple salad to accompany the sandwiches and we all left the table satisfied. This ones a keeper!


You'll need:
(All measurements approximate)

4 T Vegenaise
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 t lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste


combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. This has a very strong garlic flavor, adjust if needed.

Mushroom Dip Sandwiches

You'll need:

1 1/2 lbs mushrooms, sliced (I used 1 lb cremini and 1/2 lb portobello)

1 recipe aioli

4 oz. vegan mozzarella (I like Follow Your Heart)

4 French rolls (this is a great use for any leftover baguette!)

1 t olive oil

4 C your choice of broth for dipping, heated

salt and pepper to taste


Heat a large pan and coat in olive oil. Add mushrooms and saute until just brown. If using portobellos, grill slices (George Foreman or panini grill) until tender, about 8 minutes. If using fresh French rolls, slice them open and put them under the broiler until just brown while mushrooms cook - don't leave them in too long! To assemble the sandwiches, spread aioli on the rolls, divide mushrooms among rolls and top with mozzarella slices (top and bottom). Return rolls to broiler until cheese starts to bubble and brown (yes, FYH mozzarella will do that!). Portion broth into individual warmed bowls and serve alongside the sandwiches.

02 September 2009

Locavore 100 Mile Challenge: Day Three

Today's menu (sorry, no pictures):

Breakfast - rolled emmer with honey and blackberries and mint tea with honey

Lunch - leftovers from last night's dinner

Snack - two peaches, apple cider

Dinner - spelt berries with tomatillo, roasted garlic and jalapeno (not so good), chard sauteed with onion and mashed potatoes with roasted garlic, savory herb and (gasp!) salt and Earth Balance

That's right, I'm out. I made it until about 7pm today. I had just spent another hour and a half making dinner when I realized that although this has been a fun and very educational experience, I just don't have the time to do it. I can't spend over an hour making dinner every night. I'm driving down to Richland on Saturday for my best friend's wedding and I still need to finish making the 200 paper cranes I promised her. I have some long days ahead of me and I'm going to need that coffee. I was a total zombie today at work, not just because of the caffeine addiction, but general exhaustion.

So as I finished cooking my 100% local dinner tonight, all of this was going through my mind. I decided I was done and threw some salt and Earth Balance on my mashed potatoes. It was so good. I missed salt.

I wish the rest of the contestants luck - I know you are stronger than I am!

01 September 2009

Locavore 100 Mile Challenge: Day Two

Today's Menu:

Breakfast - spelt berries cooked in apple cider with blackberries and honey and mint tea with honey

Snack - acorn squash seeds toasted with camelina oil and savory herb with roasted red and yellow cherry tomatoes (from Fresh Abundance)

Lunch - a combination of leftover spelt berries and carrots from last night's dinner and leftovers from yesterday's lunch of zucchini, tomato, etc.

Snack: 2 peaches, apple cider

Dinner - mashed baked potato, roasted garlic, corn and savory herb mixed together and rolled in emmer flakes and fried in camelina oil over a bed of sauteed onion, purple sweet pepper, green beans (FA) and bok choy (p.e.a.c.h.)

Another day is coming to an end. I'm pretty sure that if I can make it to the end of Wednesday I'm golden. As I mentioned before, I'm going to need some more cider and fruit. I've been eating two peaches a day and feel like I need more variety. I've decided to forgo picking up any legumes (at least for now) because I feel like I'm getting enough protein from the spelt, emmer and veggies (yes, veggies have protein too!). I'm really having fun in the kitchen! I'd been in a rut recently and haven't been too creative with my meals. This challenge was just what I needed to get me thinking beyond tofu. My mid-morning snack was so good. I left the squash seeds in the oven a little too long and some of them got a little charred, but surprisingly that made them taste better. And the tomatoes I roasted after reading about Monique's breakfast yesterday were fabulous. Little pockets of sweet juicy flavor. Tonight's dinner was an experiment that paid off. The flavor of the roasted garlic really came through and played well with the sweetness of the corn. It was just fine with out the salt, but I couldn't help but long for a drizzle of something like a balsamic reduction. Again, this meal was kid-approved. I'm so thankful my son isn't nearly as picky as I was at his age.

Foods I'm craving:

bread of any kind
good vegan pizza
balsamic vinegar

31 August 2009

Locavore 100 Mile Challenge: Day One

Today's menu:
Breakfast - rolled emmer with honey and blackberries and mint tea with honey
Snack - peach
Lunch - rolled emmer with zucchini, onion, garlic, comfrey and tomatoes sauteed in camelina oil
Snack - apple cider (I drank about three glasses through out the day - I may need more!)
Dinner (above) - garlic rubbed roasted acorn squash stuffed with spelt berries, carrots, garlic and onion sauteed in camelina oil with savory herb, drizzled with honey and a baked potato drizzled with camelina oil

Overall, my meals have been satisfying but I did wish for salt several times today. My son is not following these restrictions, but he did try some of my breakfast and liked it. He really enjoyed dinner too, but of course, he added salt and pepper to everything and had Earth Balance on his potato. While I was removing the seeds from the squash as I prepared dinner, I paused just long enough before throwing them out to consider saving them to toast. Can you toast acorn squash seeds? The internets tell me yes. I have those in the oven right now with some camelina oil and savory herb. Snacking is going to be my biggest challenge after caffeine, but at least I'll have toasted squash seeds tomorrow! I also roasted a garlic bulb and will probably throw in some tomatoes since the oven is already on. Looking at Monique's breakfast tomatoes earlier made my mouth water!

And Go!

The challenge has officially begun! For the next five days I will only be eating food that was grown within a 100 mile radius of Spokane. I spent the week preparing by researching local food, buying said food and weaning myself off coffee. That's right, like many other participants of this challenge, I have a nasty caffeine addiction. I realized early on that it could be my downfall, so I limited my consumption leading up to the contest. I have to be at work at 7am (so why am I up writing this?!) and coffee is my constant companion, but this week I'm having an affair with the local dried mint tea that I picked up at the Roots Market at Fresh Abundance on Sunday.

After stopping by the market on Sunday, my friend Amy and I drove up to Green Bluff where I picked up some apple cider, onions, peaches and honey. Add to that the carrots, acorn squash, dried mint, blackberries, comfrey, jalapenos and bok choy from the Roots Market and the zucchini, tomatoes, corn, chard, bell peppers and rhubarb from the Perry Street Farmers' Market and potatoes and garlic from the Spokane Farmers' Market, I'm in good shape so far. I only wish I'd known about the hazelnuts up at Green Bluff. The only allowable grain I've found so far is rolled emmer (farro) and have not yet identified a source for beans/lentils. Fresh Abundance carries camelina oil, grown and processed in Marlin, WA that is safe for the challenge. I picked up a bottle of that for almost $17. The price seems a little steep, but as a vegan, that will be the only fat in my very limited diet this week.

For breakfast, I'll be replacing my usual cereal of quinoa, hazelnut milk, fresh fruit and cinnamon with rolled emmer, honey and blackberries. I combined the remainder of the emmer I cooked up with some sauteed zucchini, onion, garlic, comfrey and heirloom tomatoes for lunch and packed a peach for a mid-afternoon snack. For dinner, I think I'll roast some of that squash.

There are still a few things I need to work on acquiring: more rolled emmer, China Bend wine (after much debate about yeast, this item has officially been added to the allowable list), more fruit and hopefully (fingers crossed), a legume.

29 August 2009

Another Vegan Bake Sale!

The Spokane Vegans are at it again! This time we're supporting KYRS, Spokane's only community radio station. Stop by the Community Building tomorrow between 11am and 5pm (or until we run out of treats). All the usual suspects will be there, including evildoodles, cupcakes and fudgacado with some new friends like muffins and double chocolate almond cookies. See you there!

25 August 2009

Vegan on a Budget: Gardening and Gleaning

One of the best ways to cut your food bill is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. There are many great resources on the web and at the library about backyard gardening and small space/container gardening. Unfortunately, some of us don't even have a balcony to grow tomatoes on. That's where gleaning comes in. Talk your neighbors, friends, family and co-workers and let them know you'd be happy to help them out with their over abundance of X fruit or vegetable. Anyone who has a garden usually has one crop that they can't keep up with and are more than happy to share the wealth with you. Even if you have your own garden, why not trade some of your extra tomatoes with your neighbor who has an abundance of zucchini? Or maybe you could talk to your friend with that big backyard but no time and work out a deal where you garden on their land and share the bounty? Either way you go, you're saving money and participating in the local community!

Home Gardening links:

You Grow Girl
Anarchy in the Garden, formerly known as Victory Home and Garden
Your Small Kitchen Garden
Small Green Garden
Food Not Lawns Inland Northwest

20 August 2009

My First 7vs7 Challenge!

The people over at Spokane Food Blog are organizing a challenge between local bloggers. The contestants will commit to eating only food that is grown or raised (but in my case only grown!) within a 100 mile radius for five days. That means no coffee, salt, olive oil, chocolate, tea or even tofu! I'm in, but I'll be honest, I'm scared. No tofu? No quinoa? No sugar?! I have a few ideas in mind, but this is going to be tough. Thankfuly, this area has a lot to offer agriculturally. It's time to do some research and probably cancel my produce box from Fresh Abundance for that week. It would be terrible if I lost because of a pluot from California!

A list of the other participants can be found on SFB.

09 August 2009

My New Project

I've been thinking a lot about food lately. More than usual - but maybe that's a good thing. With the releases of movies like Food, Inc. and various authors like Mark Bittman talking openly, albeit not comprehensively, about our current food crisis, it seems almost everyone is reconsidering their relationship to the industrial food chain. Including me. Like everyone else, I've also been thinking about money and budgeting lately. Specifically, how my spending habits impact my community, my bank account and my family's health.

I know that a vegan diet is the healthiest way my family can eat. But how healthy is a Gardenburger? What impact does that processed vegan cheez have on the environment and our community? Am I really getting the most out of the money I spend on food? When presented with the idea, a lot of people will say that they can't go vegan or vegetarian because it costs too much. By offering simple tips such as avoiding processed foods at the grocery store, I hope to dispel that myth in a series of posts about eating Vegan on a Budget. I'll cover topics ranging from local shopping to making your own tofu and non dairy milks. I will keep a focus on eating local, seasonal whole foods, local shopping and above all, creativity and thriftiness. This will be a regular series for the foreseeable future and you should see the first related post within the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I'm going to see Food, Inc. at the end of the week. I'm very excited to see the movie that's been getting so much attention lately and even more excited to start discussing it!

03 August 2009

Midnight Baker

It's hot! With temperatures at or nearing 100° for weeks now and no A/C in my apartment, the only time to bake is late at night to early morning. My best friend had a bridal shower on Saturday and one of my co-workers had a baby shower today. I volunteered to bake cupcakes for both events. For the bridal shower, I used the basic chocolate cupcake recipe and buttercream frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (VCTOW). I added blue food coloring, because blue is her wedding color. I wasn't happy with the finished product though. I felt like I was molesting a smurf when I ate the frosting. No good.

For the baby shower, I made gluten free cupcakes using Pamela's Chocolate Cake Mix and topped them off with the chocolate buttercream frosting (I used Dutched cocoa, yum!) from VCTOW. My son loves this mix and you'd never know it's gluten free. The cupcakes came out really moist and fudgy. My new manager is gluten intolerant and she really appreciated the cupcakes. As a vegan, I know how it feels to be surrounded by all kinds of food at various gatherings and not be able/willing to eat it. I always like to share something that everyone can eat, no matter their dietary restrictions. Food should bring us together, not separate us!

It looks like I'll be doing even more baking in the near future. The Spokane Vegans have been asked to do bake sales for two different benefits this month. We're still working out the details, but they should be great community events. I'll share the info once we have the details down.

27 July 2009

Potato Salad with Tempeh

I made this potato salad for July's vegan potluck. Apparently, it was a hit! Head over to the Spokane Food Blog to check out the recipe and be on the look out for a growing alliance between the Spokane Vegans and Taste Everything Once.

18 July 2009

Vegan Cupcakes at the Rocket Market!

Before today, I hadn't been up to the Rocket Market on 43rd in a long time. But I saw an ad in the Inlander on Thursday advertising vegan cupcakes. How could I not go? I had two cupcakes and an Americano for breakfast. The cupcakes were so tasty! I tried the Raspberry Grand Teton and Peanut Butter and Jelly. The ganache was rich and decadent and the peanut butter frosting wasn't overly sweet and actually tasted like peanut butter. This was a wonderful breakfast, if not terribly healthy. I was also pleased to find a considerable variety of vegan deli items available. I think I'll be making the trek up to the Market more often now!

You should definitely go get some of those cupcakes! Did I mention how good they are?

05 July 2009

Review: Lazy Bones Barbecue

Vegan Barbecue in Spokane? Oh, yes! I've been hearing a lot about Lazy Bones the past few months. At first I just ignored the place, but then a friend told me they have vegan offerings. In addition to the usual fare, they serve Small Planet tofu. They cook all vegetarian items on a separate grill, so you needn't worry about your bean curd hangin' out in pork juices (gross!). The veg*n menu also offers a nice variety of vegan sides, like mac-n-cheese.

After much anticipation, we finally made a visit to the Upper South Hill restaurant today. The atmosphere is very casual, but inviting, with counter service. My son and I both ordered the Tofu Plate; he chose a side of vegan mac-n-cheese and I ordered the sweet potato fries and a bottle of Fat Tire (which according to Barnivore.com, is vegan). The north side of the building is lined with garage doors. Since it was a lovely afternoon, the doors were open and we decided to dine on the patio.

I suspect they cook the tofu to order, as it took a little while for our meals to arrive. But it was worth the wait. The Tofu Plate came with two slabs of tofu (with a dry rub and BBQ sauce slathered on top), a side of vinegar slaw, a slice of grilled bread with olive oil and a choice of side. The tofu was perfectly cooked and seasoned with a slightly sweet and spicy flavor. The slaw had a lot of flavor and was great when combined with the tofu. My sweet potato fries were delicious, but had maybe a touch too much salt. My son loved the vegan mac-n-cheese. I haven't found a recipe yet that he likes, but he loved this stuff. I thought it was pretty good myself, although it is definitely not mac-n-cheese. The sauce was more like an alfredo than the traditional yellow cheese. And with a lot of visible oil, it is not a healthy side dish.

All in all, the meal was wonderful. We'll be going back soon to try more of the menu items. The Lentil Apple Salad, Grilled Veggie Kebab and BBQ Tofu Slab Sandwich especially caught my interest. My only regret is that I didn't have my camera with me. Oh well, next time!

**Update: The in-store menu does not jive with the online version. If you go, you'll want to spend some time getting yourself familiar with the menu before ordering.

25 June 2009

SpoVegan Bake Sale: Because Factory Farming is Shitty

The Spokane Vegans will be selling cruelty-free goodies this weekend to benefit One World Spokane!

Friday: @ the Community Building/KYRS 35 W Main from 7 - 9pm

Saturday: @ Caterina Winery 907 N Washington & the Community Building/KYRS 35 W Main from 7 - 9pm

Cookies $1
Brownies $2
Cupcakes $2
Fudgacado $2

*Poster design and screen printing by Joe Preston - Thanks, Joe and Leah!

22 June 2009

Waste Not...

What do you do with week old brownies? Top them off with Cappuccino flavored Coconut Bliss and fresh strawberries! I made brownies last week for some unknown reason. (I'm currently helping plan a vegan bake sale and have had so many goodies around me it's ridiculous!) Half the pan of brownies have been sitting uneaten on the counter wrapped up, but have gone a little stale. I hate throwing food out, so stale brownies were the perfect excuse to pick up some Coconut Bliss at Fresh Abundance today. Actually, my son has a sore throat, so the ice cream was really for him... At any rate, this was a perfect combination! The ice cream softened the brownies and the strawberries were simply delightful. I love summer.

20 June 2009

Update: food-related goals for 2009

In February, I set some food-related goals for myself this year. Four months later, I've accomplished one goal, am working on another and have let one go. My first goal was to grow my own soybeans. This didn't happen for a couple of reasons:
1. I don't have any land, or even a balcony to use for a container garden.
2. I have a black thumb, and from what I've read about growing beans organically, they can be tricky.

OK, so I really didn't even try to meet that first goal. I need to do some research on organic gardening and secure a place to grow these little gems of protein. I really would like to have a small garden next year, even if it's just a container garden.

My second goal was to find myself a soymilk maker, and that I did! I had done some pricing online and was a little surprised to find out just how expensive soymilk makers can be. Then I remembered I have a membership to our local Freecycle. Last week I posted a request for a soymilk maker in the group and had a response within hours. It seems that a local family had purchased this little appliance and only used it a couple of times. This was a win-win-win situation. They got a little more space cleared in their closet, I saved money by not having to buy the soymilk maker and we kept another perfectly good appliance out of the landfills! I haven't made any soymilk yet, because I'm still finishing my store-bought stuff, but I'm sure I'll be writing about my first attempt.

Number five on my list of goals is to eat/buy more local and organic produce. Thanks to my bi-weekly Fresh Produce Variety Box from Fresh Abundance, I'm keeping good on this promise. I started getting my variety box every other week in May and am so thankful I finally did this! I've always struggled with keeping fresh fruit in my house and I tend to rely on the same three or four favorite veggies in my kitchen. Now I get a variety of fresh (and seasonal!) fruit and am introduced to new vegetables. At just $35 a box, this is not only a cost-saving arrangement for me, I'm also helping support a local business and local farmers. Again, win-win-win!

My other goals include:

Make my own wine
Experiment more with gluten-free baking
Get myself some good kitchen knives
Make my own tofu

I'll let you know how I do accomplishing these other goals. On that note, does anyone know where I can get some wine grapes this fall?