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.