We don’t honor this holiday for what it represents (oppression and ethnic genocide), but given the days off work and my family’s general gathering at this time we went to my sister’s place for the holiday. I took this opportunity to make some tantalizing vegan dishes that even omnis could appreciate. Our vegan plates consisted of sweet potatoes with apples and raisins, shepard’s pie, vegan herb stuffing, fresh cranberry sauce, sweet corn casserole, and sun dried tomato cornbread muffins. The sweet potato recipe came from vegweb and the only modification I made was to use raisins instead of walnuts.
So, another week has gone by again with no time to post 😦 . But as the post title says, we have plenty of homemade foods to share. First, I’ll start with the vegan cheesecake which I mentioned several posts ago and finally got around to making. This recipe is the main vegan one that seems to be floating around the internets. It can be found here, and recently the Little Vegan made it too.
Ok, so I followed the recipe exactly and it came out perfect. I haven’t had “real” cheesecake in a long time but I seriously think this could pass for the real thing. I made the crust by crumbling cinnamon graham crackers and mixing it with a little bit of canola oil and blackstrap molasses to make it just moist enough to press into a pan. For the strawberry topping, I just warmed up some thawed and halved frozen strawberries with some sugar to taste and pureed half of the strawberries to make a thick sauce. This sauce also went well with some Van’s Belgian waffles later in the week.
After eating these waffles I have now added waffle iron to my long list of culinary wants! (UPDATE: As brought to my attention by Veggiegirl, these waffles are NOT VEGAN! I thought I checked the ingredients carefully, but alas, I am not perfect. I managed to miss the bee vomit (i.e. honey) on these waffles. That is the only non-vegan ingredient in these…why can’t they just take it out?!? Oh well, live and learn! We will not be buying these anymore and all the more reason to get my own waffle iron! 🙂 )
I also tried my hand at another raw dish this week. Every time I go to our co-op I see a raw spinach quiche in their refrigerated section but it costs mucho dinero, so I decided to try and make my own. I used the pecan-spinach quiche recipe I found on this page as a guideline. For the bottom “crust” of the quiche, I blended almonds that had soaked overnight with some spices and pressed it into the plate (which I then let dry out via the method I used for my flax seed crackers). For the filling, all I did was puree about 2 cups of spinach with 2-3 cloves of garlic, a cup of pine nuts, a couple of slivers of avocados, some mushrooms, and spices (nutmeg, salt, pepper, paprika, and garam masala). I topped it with some mushrooms that had soaked in Bragg’s liquid aminos (not entirely sure if this is considered raw or not) and paprika.
I’m not really sure if I liked this or not. I ate about four bites but to me it seemed more like something I would spread on crackers and not something I could eat a whole plate of, so I actually did finish it by eating it with crackers. So technically I didn’t eat totally raw that night but I am glad that I tried the dish and still haven’t given up on experimenting with raw dishes! Hsauce stayed away from this dish because it looked too much like guacamole to him and he doesn’t like guacamole…weirdo!
This week, Hsauce wanted to have “sushi night”. Sushi making is so fun and so incredibly easy and waaay cheaper than if you went out for sushi. Hsauce had already made the sushi rice (refrigerated cooked sushi rice mixed with rice vinegar, some sugar and a tiny amount of salt) while I was at work so all that was left to do was prep some ingredients and start rolling when I got home.
Here you can see some of what we used: avocados, baked tofu, carrots, cucumbers, Sriracha sauce, hoison sauce, and Tofutti cream cheese. We also used some sesame seeds, sweet chili sauce, and homegrown sprouts. When making sushi, we always have two water cups. One large cup of warm water to put the sushi cutting knife in to prevent stuff from sticking to it and another smaller cup of cooler water for our fingers when we spread the sushi rice onto the wakame to prevent it from clumping on our fingers. And as usual, we ended up with a ton of sushi!
Just as pretty as what you pay for at a restaurant don’t you think? We had it with miso soup (made with miso barley, which you can buy in a tub, seaweed slivers, cubes of tofu and mushrooms) which I didn’t get a photo of.
Another Asian inspired meal we had this week was fried rice with grilled tofu. Fried rice is also really easy and works best with day old rice. In this case I had Hsauce make some rice while I was at work and then stick it in the fridge. When I got home I threw some chopped veggies into a wok on medium high with some Earth Balance, threw in the rice, added a handful of fresh basil leaves, some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and some salt and pepper and was done. Hsauce grilled the tofu slabs which had been marinating in a sweet chili soy sauce marinade all day. I had this dish for leftovers for work one day and my office mate commented on how it smelled “really good”. Yay!
To celebrate the arrival of fall weather (finally!!!), I also made a si
mple squash side one night. I just halved an acorn squash and hollowed out the seedy inside. I then put a few tablespoons of Earth Balance in each half along with a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, sliced Gala apples, nutmeg, cinnamon and a bit of salt and pepper. I put this in the toaster oven on about 400F for about an hour. When I ate this, I smooshed all the liquidy goodness with the squash to make “sweet mashed squash”.
A couple of other dishes from this week (courtesy of Hsauce!) include spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce complete with Tofurkey Italian sausages, mushrooms, carrots, onions, red bell pepper and fresh basil. Sooo much better than spaghetti made with store bought sauce.
And jerk seitan with coconut rice (from VV).
Also, I recently got some really nice vegan clothing from Herbivore Clothing Company that I absolutely love and wanted to show off! 🙂
I try hard to reduce unnecessary consumerism, but I’ve been eyeing this jacket and hoodie for some time and finally caved in. At least I can feel good that my money is going to a nice vegan company. I also view message items such as these as “passive activism”…it can plant a seed subconsciously and also initiate conversations about veganism!
They both say “herbivore” and in small print on the hoodie, there are also the words “liberate*protect*avenge”. I’m giving the “V” sign for vegan and trying to be punk rock in my new hoodie.
Since I was gone for a couple of days, it was nice to get back in the kitchen to bake and cook this morning! After taking the dogs out this morning, I got started on a batch of pumpkin muffins (from VV). While those were baking, I whipped together a tofu scramble with a side of tempeh un-bacon.
I’m terribly anxious for the fall weather and all that it brings (Halloween, crisp leaves, perhaps some vegan apple pie…) and the pumpkin muffins definitely helped get me more in an “autumn” mood as it is full of “fall-like” spices such as cloves, cinnamon and allspice. By the way, that orange juice in the background is the best orange juice. It’s really like fresh squeezed oranges! Its made by a company called “Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company” and we get it at our co-op.
Its been a busy week, but with a well stocked kitchen, easy, quick and delicious meals are still possible! Some meals we have enjoyed…
Mango and ginger un-chicken stirfry courtesy of H.Sauce. Full of sweet mangoes, red bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, un-chicken strips from the Asian market, fresh grated ginger, a splash of orange juice and some spices served atop coconut rice with toasted coconut (made by yours truly from VV).
Fresh homemade bread (::heart:: our bread machine which was given to us by H.Sauce’s mom, who incidentally got it for under $10 from a second hand shop), un-bacon tempeh strips, fresh tomatoes, onions, homemade guacamole and some vegenaise equals a darn good sandwich! Served with a side of sweet potato chips.
Curried split pea soup and fresh corn fritters (both from VV). We dipped our corn fritters in a variety of sauces including Asian sweet and spicy chili sauce, raspberry preserves (that was H.Sauce’s thing), and applesauce (that was the best dipping sauce in my opinion).
Friday nights we don’t cook. We usually get take out from one of our favorite restaurants (Green Sprout), but last night we rode our bikes to Soul Vegetarian for a change. Everything on the menu is vegan (they even have vegan ice cream!). H.Sauce had the “Kale Bone” sandwich with a side of mashed sweet potatoes. The “Kale Bone” is just their own homemade seitan. H.Sauce’s sweet potatoes were very tasty and full of brown sugary goodness. I had the eggless “egg” pita sandwich with a side of freshly cut homemade fries. Delish!
Although this particular SoulVeg is lacking in the “looks” department, the food, service and friendly atmosphere of this place is what it’s all about! A very nice kid who was getting “take out” with his family even gave us a crash course in chess playing as there are chess sets to play with over there. But we still couldn’t remember…which way is the king allowed to move? If I recall correctly, the king piece is kind of lame in that it can’t really move all that much in one go.
With the help of our friends Jason and Lillian, we got my car up and running again this week (yay, thanks guys!). So this weekend, we were able to make a trip to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market and an Asian market. We might have been able to make this trip using the MARTA, but honestly, with all the food that we bought it would have been extremely difficult. The farmer’s market that we go to is about 25 minutes away and we usually only have time to go about once a month. In the interim, we get most of our food from the vegetarian co-op, which is only about two minutes away from us!
Needless to say, I was super excited about our trip and was looking forward to capturing all the energy, fresh produce, and international food that is abundant at the farmer’s market to put in this blog. Alas, with camera in hand, I walk in and the first thing I see is a huge sign that says “Absolutely no photography permitted in the market”. A huge disappointment at first, but as we ventured on our shopping trip, I quickly realized that picture taking would have been near impossible because the market was extremely busy and just too crowded. One hour and over a $100 later, we walked out with so much food! We filled up all five of our huge shopping bags and most of what we bought was fresh and non-processed (I couldn’t turn down the pappadums).
After the farmer’s market, we stopped at an Asian market about three minutes down the road. Like most other Asian markets that I have ever been to, this one is just cluttery aisle after cluttery aisle (see above pics) full of any and all things Asian, food related or not. Despite the clutter, you can satisfy all your Asian cooking needs and taste buds at markets like these. We stocked up on rice noodles, Yeo’s soybean drink (yum!), sweet chili sauce, and some fake meat products.
So what does one do with a well stocked vegan kitchen and a long weekend? Saturday evening I made “Quick Garbanzo Soup” from Dino Sarma’s cookbook, Alternative Vegan (AV). The dish is full of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), tomatoes, onions and lots of whole spices. The only variation that I made on the recipe was adding some cooked potatoes and using less water (I wanted it less “soupy”). Hot Sauce came in from walking the dogs after I finished cooking and he said the house smelled “amazing”. Yes, this dish is very aromatically pleasing and tastes incredible too. Rich, hearty comfort food in under 30 minutes. We had it atop basmati rice with a side of pappadums.
Sunday we had a late lunch of leftover soup, so I didn’t get started on dinner until around 9ish. All I wanted to make was spanikopitas (from Vegan with a Vengeance, VV), a Dino salad (from AV) and cupcakes (also from VV)…shouldn’t take that long, right? Well, the recipe makes about 30 spanikopitas and if you’ve ever worked with phyllo dough, you can’t work that fast or else you’ll end up with a lot of torn and useless phyllo dough. I enlisted the help of Hot Sauce in the wrapping of the spanikopitas and we finally had dinner around 11pm. The only variation we made in the spanikopitas was the cooking time. We had to bake it for three times as long as the recipe called for, but it was worth the wait. Tangy tofu and spinach encased in flaky and crispy phyllo dough and a lovely mixed salad with a lemony vinaigrette.
We had a lot of spanikopita, so today we also brought some to a vegan potluck at Criminal Records, where there were many other tasty vegan delicacies (unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me). Oh and the cupcakes…oh, the cupcakes…I must not forget to mention these lovelies! These are called “coconut heaven cupcakes” and if there is such a thing as heaven, there would be an infinite supply of these cupcakes there. We decided not to buy cupcake wrappers for these to reduce waste, but you almost need them for these because they are incredibly moist!
The frosting and cupcake itself is full of shredded coconut giving a nice unexpected texture to the cupcake. The only caveat I have for these cupcakes regards the frosting, though this could very well be due to my newness to cooking and baking. I find it best to individually frost the cupcakes right before you eat them and not all at the same time otherwise, the frosting gets a little runny. Runny frosting or not, I will most definitely make these again.
So no, we didn’t go anywhere for t
he long weekend and no, we didn’t “do” much of anything except ride our bikes around and walk the dogs (and cook of course). But to me, that makes for a splendid weekend!
The morning started off all sunshine and smiles, but by midday we had a spectacular thunderstorm. This is a picture from our porch. That’s my Schwinn (::heart::) in the corner.
So with the rain and my dead car (yeah, that green Toyota across the street is dead), I decided today was a good day to cook! The following came directly from the cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (a special birthday present from my dear friends Katie and Patrick). For brunch, I made the seitan–portabello stroganoff:
It was super filling and hearty with portabello mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, peas and seitan. For those who don’t know, seitan is pronounced say-tan and it is basically just chewy wheat gluten. I’ve been experimenting with making my own seitan recently, but for this dish I used store bought seitan. I would definitely make this dish again because it was delicious, perhaps reducing the amount of nutritional yeast the recipe called for in half. Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that is yellow and flaky. Here is a picture of it in its raw state.
It gives dishes a nutty, “cheesy” flavor and often acts as a thickener. We got a whole tub of it from our local farmer’s market for about two bucks. Its really good for you too because it has something like 18 amino acids, 15 different minerals and is rich in B-vitamins. I really like the taste of it and sometimes will eat small amounts of it straight from the tub.
Later, I made peanut butter cookies (from the same cookbook). For the first batch, I followed the recipe directions exactly and the cookies came out a little crumbly. So for the second batch, we added a dollop of applesauce to the batter to act as a binder. Oh, and we also added vegan chocolate chips to half the batter. The result, a plethora of big, soft, yummy peanut butter and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.