Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Walpurgis Night Feast

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, May 1st is Beltaine, a Gaelic holiday celebrating the fertility of the Earth and the abundance of Spring. Walpurgis Night is sort of like Beltaine's Christmas Eve. It's the traditional celebration awaiting the arrival of I made a special meal to celebrate. Spring is my favorite season!

For the main entree, I created a new recipe for my cookbook - Black-Eyed Pea Corn Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Creme.

Basically, it's a fritter made with purple hull peas (pretty much the same as black-eyed's what I had in the freezer) and corn. The creme topping is a combination of silk tofu and roasted red peppers. The mixture of cool cream and hot fried fritter was like a party in mouth.

On the side, I found some AMAZINGLY HUGE purple asparagus. Check this stuff out!

I've never seen purple asparagus, not have I ever seen asparagus this girthy. Even though it was a little more pricey than the regular old asparagus, I couldn't resist. I ended up boiling it instead of steaming like I usually do ... that's because the spears were too large for my mini-bamboo steamer. Unfortunately, like many purple foods, these guys lost some of their nice color while cooking. But they still tasted delish!

After boiling, I tossed it with some sesame oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper to make the "Sesame Asparagus" from Vegan with a Vegeance. The recipe also calls for sesame seeds, but I was out. The sesame oil gave the asparagus plenty of flavor though.

I washed it all down with homemade Agave Mead. My friend Leslie and I had a mead-making session in my kitchen back in February. Traditionally, mead consists of honey, water, and yeast. But since we don't eat honey, we substituted agave nectar. I also steeped my mead with herbs - jasmine, meadowsweet, and woodruff. It had to ferment for three months in a dark, dry place (my closet). Tonight, it was finally ready to crack open. I only had a small wine glass full, and man, this stuff is strong. It tastes like a cross between wine, beer, and rum. Good stuff.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cookie Love

I'm feeling the cookie love right now ... for two reasons. First (and most importantly), I was greeted this morning to a message from Jess the Domestic Vegan telling me that I'd won the Liz Lovely cookie sampler contest! This is what I'll get from the incredible, yummy Liz Lovely vegan cookies company:

A few weeks ago, Jess asked her readers to name their favorite cookie and one commenter would be randomly chosen to win the sampler pack. My favorite cookies just so happen to be Liz Lovely Cowgirl Cookies. I've only had them once, when I ordered a package from VeganEssentials, but I savored those two cookies like they were gold. I only allowed myself 1/4 of the cookie at a time so they'd last longer. Now, that won't be a problem. Thanks Jess and Liz Lovely!

On another cookie note, I made Beltaine Passion Cookies from the Llewellyn's Witches Datebook:

These spicy balls, chock full of ginger, clove, and cinnamon, are supposed to awaken your inner passions. Beltaine, or May Day (May 1), is an ancient Gaelic holiday, celebrating the fertility of the Earth.

The cookies were very ginger-y. The recipe called for five teaspoons of ground ginger and 1/2 cup of crystallized ginger. I left the crystallized stuff out because it's nasty. I can't imagine how spicy they'd be with it! There were tasty, but nothing compared to Liz Lovely!

We All Scream for Soybeans!

Tonight I made Soybean Stroganoff from "More Fabulous Beans" by Barb Bloomfield:

I had some cooked frozen soybeans leftover from the last time I made Soybean Burritos, so I thawed them out for this recipe. It was totally simple (soybeans, soymilk, mushrooms, onion, soy sauce, cornstarch, and whole wheat pasta) and very comforting. I'd been craving some home-cooked comfort food since last week's car wreck, but I've been too busy to cook. Finally, I had a night with a little extra time.

The book, which features over 100 recipes using all kinds of beans, was written by a lady who lives on The Farm, the old hippie commune/intentional community in Summertown, Tennessee. I stayed with her and her husband Neal when I visited The Farm last summer, and she made the BEST food - BBQ tofu, roasted squash, spicy tofu scramble, homemade yogurt. Barb is awesome! I bought her book before leaving The Farm and she autographed it for me.

You guys should check it out if you get a chance. Beans are such a fab protein source, and one that I often forget about in favor of tofu, tempeh, or seitan. I should eat more beans.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Noochy Popcorn

I have four favorite foods - vegan mac and cheese, fried tofu, Ramen noodles, and POPCORN!!! When I have a bowl of popcorn in front of me, I can't help but consume every kernel ... doesn't matter how much there is. I can eat an entire super extra-large movie theater popcorn by myself. I have no self-control around popcorn. Escpecially when it's Noochy Popcorn:

In case you don't already know, "nooch" is nutritional yeast. I also liberally dribble flax oil over my noochy corn, and then I spray it down with non-fat cooking spray and load it down with sea salt. Yummness!

Tonight, I settled in on my couch to relax and watch my copy of Juno, which came in the mail from my mom a couple days ago. You can't have a movie without popcorn, so I skipped dinner in favor of a big ol' bowl of it. I'd also eaten a giant Wild Oats vegan chocolate chip cookie and Silk coffee soymilk drink just a couple hours beforen dinnertime, so I wasn't all that hungry anyway. Popcorn really hit the spot.

How do you guys like your popcorn?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cheesy Crackers

Sorry for the long absence. I had a pretty crappy car accident on Wednesday, and I've been busy dealing with the doctor, the car rental place, insurance, and all that. Not much time for cooking! BTW, I'm fine. Just a little typical neck and back pain. But the car may be totaled. I was slammed from behind while stopped at a red light. Ouch!

Anyway, I made these Cheesy Crackers from the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook:

I made them on Sunday to snack on throughout the week before going to the gym each day ... but after Wednesday's wreck, I've had to cancel all my gym classes. Hopefully, I can start back sometime next week.

My friend Leslie suggested I try these tasty wheat crackers, seasoned with paprika, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. I coated the tops with sesame and flax seeds before putting them in the oven. The recipe is rather simple. Mix up the dough, roll it out, cut out squares, and bake. I've been eating them with crunchy peanut butter. Yum!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bianca Pizza!!!

My name - Bianca - means "white" in Italian and "fair one" in French. And yes, I'm pretty pale thanks to my German-Scottish-Irish heritage (sorry, no Italian or French in the family tree ... I was named after Mick Jagger's ex-wife). As a word, "Bianca" or "Bianco" is pretty commonly used to describe white wines or creamy Italian dishes. But as a name, it's still a little rare. So whenever I see anything with "Bianca" on it, I have to buy it, drink it, or eat it.

When I stumbled on "Bianca Pizza with Tofu Boursin" in while flipping through a copy of The Complete Vegan Kitchen by Jannequin Bennett in Kroger, I knew I had to have the book just so I could make that dish. Tonight, I finally found the time to whip together a whole wheat pizza crust and the creamy Tofu Boursin topping:

This is supposed to be the vegan version of the Pizza Bianco, a white cheese pizza with garlic and olive oil but no tomato sauce. As a kid, it was my favorite kind of pizza, for obvious reasons. Though Bennett's version wasn't much like the one I remember, it was still delish.

The Tofu Boursin consists of cashews, tofu, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs. It reminded me more of ricotta cheese than the stringy mozzerella that once topped my favorite pie. Topped with fresh chives from Granny's herb garden and served with a side salad of baby spinach and cherry tomatoes, this made for a very satisfying meal. And thankfully, there's plenty of leftofvers!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Julie Hasson Veggie Sausage

All the other vegan food bloggers were making Julie Hasson's yummy vegan sausages, so I did too. Hey, I'd probably even jump off a bridge if someone else did first...nah, forget that. But I do give in to peer pressure when there's food involved.

After tasting the first bite at dinner tonight, I totally get what all the fuss is about. Move over Light Life Gimme Lean, there's a new sausage in town and I can make it from scratch in my own kitchen! The sausages are pretty easy - just mix ingredients together, wrap in aluminum foil, and steam for 30 minutes. I'm posting the recipe because it's already all over the Internet, and I'm sure many of you have already seen it or even tried these. By the way, does anyone know if the links freeze well?

Spicy Italian Vegetarian Sausages
Makes 8 links (note: I actually got 17 links out of this, but I made mine smaller)

2 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2 tbsp Bills Best Chik’Nish Seasoning (if using another brand which is salty, or saltier than Bill’s Best, you’ll want to greatly reduce the amount you use)
2 tbsp granulated onion
1 to 2 tbsp fennel seed, optional
2 tsp coarsely ground pepper, preferably freshly ground
2 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp dried chili flakes, optional
1 tsp ground smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground allspice
2 1/4 cups cool water*
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce

1. In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk together the water, garlic, olive oil and soy sauce and using a fork, gently stir into the dry ingredients. Stir just until ingredients are mixed. If dough mixture is too dry, you can add another tablespoon of water or as needed.
2. Scoop 1/2 cup dough mixture at a time and shape into logs. Place logs on piece of aluminum foil and roll up, twisting ends. Place sausages in steamer and steam for 30 minutes. Once sausages have cooled, remove from foil and refrigerate until ready to eat. After cooling, the sausages may feel a bit dry on the outside. Don’t worry, as they will soften and firm up considerably after chilling.

Variation: You can shape the dough into little patties instead of links. If you don’t want to use aluminum foil, you can wrap the links in damp muslin or tea towel and tie ends with cotton twine.

Copyright © 2008 Julie Hasson

On the side is Waldorf Wheat Berry Salad from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch:

I never had the meaty version of Waldorf salad, although I heard an argument about it on Top Chef recently. I believe it has chicken in it. But this veg version uses wheat berries, Fuji apple, dried cranberries, parsley, celery, red onion, and pecans! It was so light and springy. And I love the firm texture of wheat berries!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Let Us Eat Cake!

Saturday was the Dutchman's 28th birthday! Since he's a car salesman and he loves, loves, loves cars, I made him a vegan car cake. He's not vegan, but when you've got a vegan girlfriend, you get a vegan cake.

Now, I'm not gonna lie. I totally cheated on this cake. I used Cherrybrook Kitchen yellow cake mix and Duncan Hines Classic Chocolate frosting (which just so happens to be vegan).

I'd planned on using some Cherrybrook Kitchen chocolate frosting, so it wouldn't be all trans-fatty. But it came in a box and you're supposed to mix it with soy margarine, which I forgot to bring to Nashville with me. I ran to the Kroger near the Dutchman's apartment, and all I could find was Smart Balance Light (only the light kind is vegan). I tried mixing it with the powdered frosting mix and the results were disastrous. It tasted diet and it wouldn't firm up. So I made another Kroger run to pick up some fatty, but tasty Duncan Hines.

His mom helped blow out the candles. Does that mean he has to share his wish?

We enjoyed the cake and did the present thing at his brother's house. Even though it wasn't homemade, the cake was delish! Even his meat-loving mom liked it. So did his niece, Aleana, as you can see by the cake all over her face!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tofu "Chicken" and Waffles

Down South, fried chicken and waffles is special meal reserved for special occasion brunches. It sounds weird, but people seem to like it. When I ate meat, I never tried the two together. But I felt like no Southern vegan cookbook would be complete without a some recipe combining faux chicken and waffles.

So I give you the Southern Fried Tofu "Chicken" and Waffle Sandwich with Maple-Dijon Sauce:

Wow! This was huge (that was all I had for dinner, mind you ... no room for a side dish) and very satisfying. First, I had to develop a recipe for Southern Fried Tofu Chicken. If you saw yesterday's post, you know the batter involves beer. Nothing beats beer-battered, fried food.

In my cookbook, I'm going to suggest that people also use this batter for seitan or even tempeh. I thought seitan would be too toothsome sandwiched between soft waffles, so I chose tofu for this dish. The tofu was marinated overnight in a faux chicken broth.

As for the waffle, I took all the sweet, dessert-like ingredients out of my Cinnamon Pecan Waffle recipe (which I blogged about a few weeks ago) to create a Savory Sandwich Waffle. Also on the sandwich are Roma tomatoes and baby spinach. The sauce is made from Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and Veganaise.

BTW, I'm going to Nashville for the weekend, so this will be my last post until Sunday. Saturday is my boyfriend's birthday. From here on out, I'll refer to him as the Dutchman because he's Dutch, and I like cute boyfriend blog names...hopefully, I'll have some pics of the Dutchman's birthday cake to share when I return.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Grocery Day

Yesterday was Grocery Day! There are few things I enjoy more than perusing the aisles of the supermarket, checking off my list and throwing the occasional impulse purchase into the cart. I'm sure it's how an artist must feel when she's selecting paints or other mediums in the supply shop. Judging by this photo, my cat Gelfling loves grocery day too!

The goods:
Veggie Booty (I'm so glad these are safe to eat again!)
Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (usually get bulk, but they were out)
Organic Baby Spinach
365 Brand Soymilk (2 packs)
Paulaner Hefe-weisen Ale (for tomorrow night's fried tofu chicken)
Red and white onions
Organic Carrots
Raw Cashews
365 Brand Organic Firm Tofu (3 packs)
Cherry Tomatoes (totally an impulse buy)
Liquid Smoke

Not pictured (because I started to put groceries up before taking the pic): Hard Winter Wheat Berries and Green Tea

I spend hours planning out my menus for a two-week timeframe. I get paid every two weeks, so I shop for two weeks of food. I usually don't buy things that go bad quickly until the night before though. Like this time, I held off on the mushrooms and asparagus...will buy that sometime next week.

I'm such a foodie nerd!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Africa Is Awesome!

I made my first dish from Kittee Kake's Papa Tofu cookzine last night. The zine arrived in the mail several weeks ago, but I've earmarked so many recipes in so many books that it takes me awhile to get around to making new stuff. Papa Tofu is divided into three sections - Ethiopian food, New Orleans-style Southern cuisine, and sweets.

I love Ethiopian food, but I've always had it in restaurants or prepared by African people. I've never ventured into cooking it myself. I chose Shimbra Asa W'et (Chickpea "Fish" in a Spicy Wine Gravy) to start with. Here's a photo of the "fish" sans gravy:

These were basically fried dumplings made with besen (or gram) flour. As instructed, I fried them in patties and then cut the patties into quarters. The besen flour makes for a very firm texture that holds up well, even for leftovers the next day. According to Papa Tofu, this dish is traditionally made on holidays when meat is prohibited, hence the name "chickpea fish."

On the side are rape greens with turnips that my Granny sent home with me last weekend. She made several batches and froze them in large Ziplock bags. I thawed them out on the stove to go with this meal since greens are common in African cooking. Rape greens taste similar to collards or turnip greens, and they grow wild around these parts. Granny picks them, boils them down, and seasons them with a little sugar. So good!

Here's a picture of the chickpea fish with gravy:

The gravy is seasoned with berbere (a combination of spices that includes cinnamon, clove, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, nutmeg, and some other stuff I can't remember), seasoned soy margerine (called niter kebbah), onions, and wine. I used red wine although Kittee's recipe called for white wine. I had red wine sitting around the house and didn't want to make a special trip for 1/4 cup. It tasted great with the red wine though.

I am a little concerned that I eat way too much though because the recipe said it makes 6 to 8 servings, and I only got three servings out of it...does it look like I have too much food on my plate? Be honest.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dessert for Dinner

A few weeks ago, my Granny e-mailed me a recipe for her Mandarin Orange Cobbler, a spin on the old-fashioned peach version. She even veganized the recipe before sending it (because she's awesome like that!). Last night, I wasn't terribly hungry at dinnertime, but I can't stand to let a meal time pass without eating, so I opted to have dessert in place of a full dinner.

I can't even describe how tasty the crust is. Imagine if the best sugar cookie ever had babies with a moist yellow cake...that's about as close of a description as I can muster right now. All that was missing is the melty scoop of vanilla soy I did
have some Soy Delicious Turtle Tracks in the fridge, but I wasn't sure how the caramel would mix with the citrus.

I used canned mandarin oranges, but I bought the kind that come in their own juice instead of the nasty sugar syrup. I also subbed whole wheat pastry flour for the self-rising flour in the recipe, but added baking powder and baking soda.

I'd relay the full recipe here, but I've decided this one's going in the cookbook. I love that it's a cobbler, which is a traditional Southern dessert, but with a tropical fruity spin.

By the way, I've been tagged again to name five things about myself. This time, the tag came from the Brazen Vegan.

1. I kill plants. And not just because I like to eat them. I just don't have gardening skills AT ALL! Every year, I try to grow herbs, and every year, they just die. But last year, my basil survived for several months. I will try again this year...

2. I went vegetarian at age 14 after spending the week with my friend Purvi and her family in Oklahoma. They were Indian, and except for the dad, were all vegetarian. When I realized how easy it was to eat meatless meals, I vowed to go veg on the car ride back home to Arkansas. I went vegan at age 24 on my 10-year vegeversary.

3. I wasn't a fan of sweets until my best friend Sheridan bought me Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for Christmas several years ago. When I started making cupcakes, I magically developed a sweet tooth. It's decided to stick around for awhile, and I'm glad.

4. I was recently named one of 21 people in Memphis that "make a difference in the Memphis GLBT community" by our local gay newspaper, The Triangle Journal. The award was given to me because I write a lot of news stories on gay issues in Memphis for The Memphis Flyer, the alternative newspaper I work for. Stories on things like Tennessee's proposed gay adoption ban and other silly pieces of legislation that strip humans of their basic rights.

5. If you can't tell, I'm about as left of center as they come. I'm a bleeding heart liberal and proud of it. I voted for Hillary (I love the Clintons!) in the primary, but I'll vote for Obama in the general election if it comes to down to it. I'm pro-choice, pro gay rights, pro-universal healthcare, and everything else that liberals stand for.

I'm not tagging anyone because I think EVERYONE has already done this survey twice.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Friends and Food

Didn't do much cooking this weekend, but I did plenty of eating. On Friday, my friend Misti joined me at "Brooks Uncorked," a wine tasting at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. The annual event features 80 wines from around the world, a silent auction, and a lot of fancy food (most of which, unfortunately, was not vegan).

It was a swanky affair, so Misti and I glammed ourselves up.

Now, I don't know how many of the red wines I tasted were actually vegan. I'm a "don't ask, don't tell" vegan when it comes to sampling wines. At events like this, most people don't even realize some wine is processed with non-vegan ingredients like albumen. So asking does no good. Basically, I'll drink it until I find out it's not vegan...either from stumbling over the info online or in a magazine. As far as I know, the albumen and/or isinglass doesn't actually make into the wine anyway. I'm probably a bad vegan for thinking like this.

As for the food, I could only eat the veggie sushi, the tasty three-bean salad (green beans, black beans, and a edamame), and some sort of citrusy white rice dish (it was kind of gross).

Unfortunately, no one told me there was going to be a whole roasted pig, complete with a terror-stricken face, in the center of the food area. I only glanced once, but it was too late. I'm totally scared from that moment. I don't understand how anyone in their right mind can eat something that has a face...that's just crazy and sad and gross.

Saturday was much more vegan-friendly! I met up with some folks from my veggie society, Food Awareness, for lunch at Java, Juice & Jazz (the new vegan soul food place that I keep raving about). Steph from Poopie Bitch was there with her sister and adorable nephew, and she may have pictures on her blog too.

Their menu changes daily, and Saturday's entree offering was vegan soft tacos made with seasoned TVP, guac, homemade salsa, black olives, and lettuce on spinach tortillas. The dish was served with chips and three dipping sauces - vegan cheese dip, salsa, and guac. So far, this has been my fave entree at Java.

After lunch, we were all groaning about how full we were when our waiter came by and offered dessert - crumbled vegan cookies topped with bananas, strawberries, and mint chocolate sauce!!!!

There was no way I could turn that down, no matter how full I was. Most people at our table split their dessert with someone else. But I came alone, and I'm not much for sharing food (I'm a pig, what can I say?). I ate the entire dessert by myself and spent the rest of the day miserably full.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Alfredo Cheese!!!!

Last night, I made Fetticine Alfredo from Skinny Bitch In the Kitch:

Now, it's been a LONG time since I've had this cheesy Italian dish, but if my memory serves me correctly, this tastes quite a bit like the non-vegan version.

And it was so simple to make. Traditional alfredo sauce consists of Parmesean cheese, heavy cream, and butter ... very unvegan. But this recipe subs coconut oil, soy creamer, and vegan Parm. I used the Galaxy Foods version because it's the only veg parm that Whole Foods carries. I've heard raves about Parma though, and I'd be eager to try this dish using it instead.

Anyhow, if you have the Skinny Bitch cookbook, I highly recommend trying this dish. Aside from the coconut oil (which is supposedly filled with good saturated fats, if there really is such a thing), this is a fairly low-fat dish. The Silk soy creamer is only 1 gram of fat per tablespoon and the Galaxy Foods parm is fat-free. The peas, which were optional, give it added nutrition. And of course, I used whole wheat pasta.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

High on Hemp

Hemp seeds are kind of expensive, at least for my cheap taste. Since I purchased a bag of hemp seeds to make Dreena Burton's Spicoli Burgers last week, I decided to also try her Apple Hemp Muffins.

The recipe is featured in the March/April issue of VegNews. I've been eating a couple of these every morning since Tuesday, along with a banana and a glass of pecan milk (leftover from Monday's raw food day). Tasty, wholesome, and quite filling.

Unfortunately, I accidentally bought applesauce with high-fructose corn syrup to go in the muffins. I should have read the ingredients. Oops! The recipe called for unsweetened applesauce, but I didn't specify "unsweetened" on my grocery list. And I never would have imagined applesauce would be sweetened with nasty HFCS. Never trust the food companies, I guess.

Yesterday, I was tagged by Kittee Kake to name five things about myself (I actually planned on stealing this survey from Poopie Bitch two weeks ago, but forgot). At the end of this post, I'll tag five others. So here goes:

1. I graduated with the highest GPA in my college department (College of Communications) at Arkansas State University in 2002. I had a 3.8 GPA. In high school, I graduated with a 4.0. But in real life, I'm a little ditzy.

2. My degree is in Photojournalism, but except for taking food photos, I rarely put my skills to use. Now, I'm a reporter for an alternative newspaper.

3. I have an unhealthy obsession with the emo-punk band Fall Out Boy. I don't care how uncool that is. Pete Wentz is a hottie (even if he did just get engaged to Ashley Simpson). Drummer Andy Hurley is a vegan, by the way.

4. I'm the mother of five wonderful critters. Datsun, my 80-pound mutt, is the oldest. Then there are four cats — Akasha, Pandora, Polaris, and Gelfing. Datsun's a good dog, but the cats are evil. Though I pay the bills at my apartment, the cats rule. They lay wherever they want (kitchen counters, etc.), break whatever they want, eat whatever they want (plants, herbs, my shoes).

5. I have two tattoos and six piercings (if you count the ears). Both ears are pierced twice, my tongue is pierced, and my labret is pierced. The VEGAN tattoo you see in my blog pic is on the inside of my right wrist. I also have a Brian Froud faery on my back. I'm an air sign (Libra) so I love faeries!

I'm tagging:
Jennifer at Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings
Kumquat Peekaboo at The Path of the Vegan
Veggie at So What Does a Vegetarian Eat Anyway?
Mihl at Seitan Is My Motor
Alice at Alice In Veganland

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Country Fried

I followed Raw Food Monday with Fried Food Tuesday. I didn't mean to go to extremes. It just kinda happened. I'd been planning on developing Country Fried Tempeh Steak for my cookbook, and it worked out that I had a little time on Tuesday afternoon.

Wow, was this ever tasty! I marinated tempeh in a beefy-tasting broth overnight. Then I coated it with whole wheat flour and fried in canola oil in my cast iron skillet. It's my variation on the traditional Chicken-Fried Steak or Country-Fried Steak (the name I prefer because "chicken-fried" sounds disgusting).

The milk gravy was made by whisking flour, soymilk, and sage into the skillet after removing the tempeh steak. I left the oil in the skillet for added flavor.

On the side are Green Beans with Mustard and Almonds from "The Complete Vegan Kitchen."

Basically, it's just fresh steamed green beans mixed with a little Dijon mustard, red onions, garlic, and sliced almonds — a combo I wouldn't have ever thought about, but very tasty.

By the way, you may have noticed new plates in the past couple posts. That's because my mom and Granny (who both check the blog regularly) felt sorry for me since I kept repeating plates in my posts. They've started collecting individual plates (since I've no need for sets) at thrift shops and yard sales. Now, I have a ton of new plates! Yea! Thanks Mama and Granny!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Eating Raw Means Eating All the Time

Yesterday marked the third installment of Raw Food Monday, my monthly detox day held on the first Monday of each month. On Raw Food Monday, I eat raw veggies, fruits, plant oils, and nuts. And because I get hungry more often on the raw diet, I eat all day.

For breakfast, I had Happy Porridge with Pecan Milk from "Alive in 5: Gourmet Raw Meals in Five Minutes" by Angela Elliot.

I soaked pecans overnight and then blended them with a few cups of water, some agave nectar, and vanilla. Then I strained out the pulp with a cheesecloth. I used the pulp as the base of the porridge. It also had coconut, raisins, and agave. Tasty, and very filling.

For lunch, I had Junk Food Salad, also from "Alive in 5."

The author promised this salad dressing (a mixture of onion powder, hempseed oil, and cayenne pepper) would taste just like BBQ chips, hence the name of the salad. Obviously, the author hadn't eaten BBQ chips in a while. Though it did have a yummy, savory taste, I wouldn't say the salad tasted like BBQ. I sprinkled hemp seeds on top for added nutrition, and I ended up throwing a few cucumber slices in for substance.

I followed the salad with cubed mango.

I chose mango as part of Chocolate Covered Vegan's challenge to try something new every week. I'd had mango before, but it's been years. And I didn't like it last time. It was quite tasty this time around! And I was surprised by how much the inside of a mango resembles a vagina.

Lunch didn't stay with me for long. My tummy was growling again by 3 p.m. I snacked on carrot sticks, raw Brazil nuts, and a lemon Larabar before going to my 6 p.m. gym class.

For dinner, I made California Rolls from "Raw Food Made Easy" by Jennifer Cornbleet.

Inside the nori wrap is clover sprouts, carrot, red pepper, cucumber, avocado, and miso. Unfortunately, none of my knives were sharp enough to cut the sushi without destroying it. So I ate it like a hand roll.

On the side was Miso Soup, also from "Raw Food Made Easy." Though you do have to bring water to a boil to make miso, it's in a raw cookbook so I figure it counts as a raw dish.

Though I felt great at the end of the night, I was so glad to have a hot breakfast this morning!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Mate Marmite

I have a new favorite thing! Marmite and tofu "cottage cheese" on toast. That's what I had for breakfast on Friday and Saturday morning.

A while back, Steph from Poopie Bitch blogged about Marmite, the yeast extract spread popular in England. In her comment section, I asked where to find it in the States. She didn't know, but since her husband is British, she apparantly has a surplus. So she brought me a jar at Thursday's Food Awareness meeting.

She warned that I may not like it and that it was really salty. I eat bouillion cubes and seasoning salt straight from the bottle (I know, I know, that's a lot of sodium), so I was sure I'd love it. And I do! It tastes like yeasty veggie stock seasoning. The key is spreading it really thin.

Marmite is a great source of B vitmins, especially riboflavin and B12 (which vegans need to be certain to get). The jar suggests spreading it on toast with cottage cheese. So I googled "tofu cottage cheese" and found a recipe that called for tofu, Veganaise, and a pinch of sugar.

I didn't measure anything out because I only made enough to spread on a couple slices of toast. But I used about a fourth block of tofu, about a tablespoon of Veganaise, a tiny pour of soymilk (to give it that liquidy consistancy that cottage cheese has), and just a teensy pinch of sugar. It tasted JUST LIKE cottage cheese ... or at least what I remember it tasting like.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Vegan Rachel Ray?

Okay, so I'm nowhere near as annoying as Rachel Ray ... at least I don't think I am. But tonight, I led a hummus-making demo at my vegetarian group's monthly meeting.

Here I am doing my best Vanna White on the food processor:

Our group, Food Awareness, meets on the first Thursday of each month at Wild Oats in Memphis. We plan activities, like vegan dinner outings, potlucks, and leafleting events. This month we're all going out to Java, Juice & Jazz (the new vegan soul food place) for lunch. We're hosting veggie info booths at a couple of Earth Day Fests. And we're dressing like zombies and handing out veggie info at the city's annual Zombie March downtown. Last year, over 200 people dressed like zombies and marched through the tourist hotspots! It was so much fun! We like to bring veggie leaflets with us. After all, if anyone needs a good talking to about the benefits of a vegetarian diet, it's zombies. They eat brains, for god sake!

Before the meeting, I scarfed down a TLT — Tempeh Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato. I needed to use the rest of my tempeh bacon. Served on sprouted grain bread with Veganaise, tomato, and spring greens ... yum!

I bought Datsun, my doggie, a special carob and yogurt cookie at this pet supply store in Cordova called Little John's Animall. He really didn't want to wait for me to snap this picture. You can see the anticipation in his face. Isn't he precious?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kiss My Grits!

On Monday night, I worked on the "Cheesy Tempeh Bacon Grits" recipe for my cookbook (I had to wait and get pix of the leftovers today because my battery died while shooting Monday's dinner). Though it's going in the breakfast section, I made it this batch for dinner because down South, grits are perfect any time of day!

I won't reveal the exact recipe, but it's a combo of nutritional yeast, yellow corn grits, and my homemade tempeh bacon. The picture might not look like much, but oh my god (and I hate to brag) but these were some darn good grits, folks. No lie. I had a hard time not finishing every bite in my bowl, even though they're super filling and I was full about halfway through. A few people did ask for the tempeh bacon recipe in my last post, and I will provide that at the end of this post.

On the side, I steamed some asparagus, which is at its most tender (and most inexpensive) this time of year. I love, love, love asparagus season! I smothered it in the Vegan Holladaise Sauce from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. It's a simple sauce with a silk tofu base. I have quite a bit leftover that I may try to use for some faux eggs benedict later this week ... or maybe not.

Tempeh Bacon
1 pkg. tempeh
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. hoison sauce
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. Liquid Smoke

Slice the tempeh lengthwise into about 16 long, thin strips. Steam tempeh in a steamer basket over boiling water for 10 minutes. Or if you don’t own a steamer basket, place tempeh directly in water and simmer for 10 minutes.

Mix the veggie broth, soy sauce, hoison, maple syrup, and Liquid Smoke in a large plastic storage container. Place tempeh slices in container and make sure liquid is covering each slice. Marinate overnight.

To cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drain marinade and place strips on a greased baking sheet. Cook for 10 minutes and flip each slice. Then bake for 10 more minutes.

Makes about 16 slices.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Munchies Much?

There's a section in the latest issue of VegNews (March/April) called "High on Hemp" with hemp seed recipes from Dreena Burton. Hemp seeds are high in Omega-3's and amino acids. I bought a back of shelled hemp seeds in Nashville this past weekend to try out a few of Burton's dishes.

Tonight, I made Spicoli Burgers (named, of course, for Sean Penn's stoner surfer dude character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High):

Served on a wheat bun with Veganaise, spring greens, and pickled red peppers, it was delish! The patty consists of brown rice, hemp seeds, diced red pepper, onion, garlic, herbs, and spices. I lightly pan-fried the patty in coconut oil. I had to cut the recipe in half though because it makes 8 burgers. My freezer's pretty packed, but I'll eat the other 3 patties throughout the week for leftovers.

On the side, I had a salad with tempeh bacon:

I made the bacon for a "cheesy" grits recipe I'm testing for the cookbook (pics to come tomorrow), but I had plenty left over. It was great crumbled over salad in place of bacon bits, which are full of trans fats (unless they come from the health food store, but I keep forgetting to pick up bacon bits at Wild Oats...). BTW, you can't see it here, but I dressed the salad with Amy's Goddess Dressing (the best stuff ever!).