Friday, December 28, 2007

Butter Pecan Tofu

Tonight, I finally decided to use a packet of Plantation Pecan Butter Sauce I picked up in a culinary gift shop in New Orleans this past October. It's a powdered mix that you combine with milk and butter (in my case, soymilk and Earth Balance). The result is a rich, buttery gravy with bits of pecan and herbs. The package suggested serving the sauce over fish or chicken, but that's not how I roll. So I marinated some tofu in my all-purpose tofu marinade (soy sauce, olive oil, seseme oil, veggie broth, garlic, ginger, some other stuff) last night. I usually use this marinade for grilled tofu steaks, but it's cold and rainy here, so I pan-fried the tofu instead.

I also made a side of my secret-recipe mashed sweet potatoes, another recipe I plan to put in my soon-to-be cookbook (it won't be a secret anymore!). It's a very simple dish with less than five ingredients, but the flavors balance so delicately. It's very much a comfort food for me.

And I re-heated some of yesterday's cornbread (and loaded it with soy marg. of course). Considering that I used Earth Balance in every dish, it was pretty fattening meal. But it's not New Year's I'm allowed to gorge a little.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pressure Cooker Volcano!

So I got a pressure cooker for Christmas. I just had to have one after watching "Veggie Queen" Jill Nussinow use hers at a vegan cooking demo at the University of Memphis a few months ago. The fact that you can cook dry beans in 20 minutes totally sold me on pressure cookers. Plus, they seem so retro and kitschy.

Today, I decided to cook some butter beans I'd frozen this summer after buying too much at the farmer's market. I threw in two cloves of minced garlic, Cavender's Greek Seasoning, and some Liquid Smoke:

The beans were DELICIOUS. But I should have read the instructions for how to use the pressure cooker first. When the cooking time (about 20 minutes) was up, I just took the pressure regulator off the lid and BOOM! It was like Mount Butter Bean erupted in my kitchen. Bean juice went EVERYWHERE. I just stood there, staring at the pan with my mouth hanging open. Finally, I bolted into action and threw a potholder over the lid. And then, for good measure, I tossed a towel over that. Then I looked up and noticed the bean juice dripping from my ceiling. I had to climb on a ladder to clean the goop from my ceiling. Yuk! Guess I know better now than to remove the pressure regulator before the pan cools.

I also veganized a buttermilk cornbread recipe in my new cast iron skillet (also a Christmas present). It could have used a little more sugar. I like my cornbread pretty sweet. But I'm going to perfect this recipe and include it in my cookbook.

Finally, for dessert, I made Chocolate Pear Cake in my Crock Pot. It's from the new issue of Vegetarian Times.

I'd always wanted to try a Crock Pot cake, but never had the patience. I started this one at 3 p.m. today and it was ready by 8 p.m. Honestly, it wasn't that great. Okay, but a little too sweet. I may just be too full on beans and cornbread to really enjoy it though. I'm really full! I think I'll go on a juice fast after New Year's Day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over!

Hey guys! As promised, a cupcake photo:

My friend Sheridan and I made these last night using the recipe for Sexy Low-fat Vanilla Cupcakes from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" by Isa and Terry. It is, hands-down, my favorite vegan cookbook. I got it last Christmas (as a gift from Sheridan) and I've been making cupcakes at least once a month ever since. Cupcakes are awesome! They're cute. And they're small enough to keep you overeating and feeling all fat.

Speaking of fat, I have an embarassing confession. Sheridan and I cheated on these in a bad way. We'd planned on making the Vegan Buttercream Frosting from the book. That's the standard recipe I usually use. It calls for nonhydrogenated shortening and nonhydrog. margerine. We were at my mom's and though she keeps Earth Balance in stock, she can't get nonhydrog. shortening in her small Arkansas town.

So since we were going to be making trans-fatty icing anyway....we cheated and bought Pillsbury Holiday Funfetti Frosting. It's vegan, but it's loaded with trans fat. But since we made low-fat cupcakes, it should all balance out. Right?

Our decision also had a lot to do with these cute Christmas tree sprinkles that came with the frosting. Kroger didn't have special Christmas sprinkles and we didn't want to battle the crowds at Target on the night before Christmas Eve....

Look, I know I'm making a lot of excuses...guilty or not, these cupcakes are really really good!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Winter Solstice

Last night was the longest night of the year. Every night from now until the summer solstice will bring more hours of daylight than darkness. Yea! To celebrate, I made a creamy Winter Solstice Pumpkin Soup. The recipe came from "Cooking By the Seasons," the same book the not-so-exciting Peanut Butter Pasta recipe came from (see posts below). But unlike the boring pasta recipe, this was very tasty!

I stirred in a little soymilk once I'd ladled the soup into my bowl. The recipe suggested adding soymilk to the entire pot, but I knew I'd be freezing the leftovers and I've never had a good experience freezing milky soups. The soymilk tends to separate when soup is thawed. And though it still tastes okay, it looks nasty. The soup definately does not look nasty!

I may not be posting as much over the next few days due to the holiday. I'm going to my parents tonight, but expect some lovely cupcakes pictures tomorrow! My friend Sheridan and I are going to have a Christmas cupcake party at my parents' house tonight, complete with vegan eggnog and classic Christmas cartoons. Fun!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lazy Thursday

Well, I didn't cook tonight at all. Instead, I opted for a Tofurkey sandwich on nine-grain bread with Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella, butter lettuce, Grey Poupon, and my granny's homemade cucumber relish. On the side are kettle-cooked salt and pepper chips and a piece of pickled okra. But I still wanted to take pics:

I wasn't really feeling lazy. I just had a lot to do tonight. I got home from Fight Club (that's the name of my boxing class at the gym), and I wanted to eat something quick before delivering Solstice gifts and getting some last-minute gift wrapping done. Plus, I have a ton of that pizza left. I can only eat two slices at a time because it's so thick and filling.

I usually don't cook big meals when I have lots of leftovers available. I used to do Food Not Bombs, and it instilled this ethic in me regarding food waste. Never throw away good food cause there's someone out there starving in the streets. I can't stand waste. When I make a REALLY big meal, I usually freeze leftovers in lunch-sized portions.

Pizza Party!

I apologize for not posting yesterday. I've been working on cleaning out my freezer, which was stuffed with frozen portions of meals I'd made over the past few months. Tonight, I made pizza! I used the crust recipe and the sauce recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. It was supposed to make enough for two 14-inch crusts, but I love Deep Dish Pizza, so I used the whole batch for one giant pizza.

I used Yves Meatless Pepperoni, Follow Your Heart vegan cheese (which sort of melted ... it does better in the microwave), black olives, and green peppers. It was delicious! Fortunately, I've got enough left to eat on for the next 3 days. Some vegans don't care for the meat analogs, but I adore them. I've heard that, over time, vegetarians learn to wean away from them. But I've been veg for 13 years, and I still love fake meat as much as I ever did. This pepperoni was the shit.

Also, the VwaV sauce recipe was amazing. I used my Granny's homemade canned tomatoes and seasoned with dried oregano, thyme, and chopped fresh garlic. Also added olive oil and tomato paste. I think this is the best vegan pizza I've ever had. Seriously.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Eating local ... mostly

I didn't actually "cook" anything for breakfast this morning. I had soy yogurt, berry granola from the Wild Oats bulk bin, and fresh raspberries. The yogurt came from The Farm , an intentional vegan community in Summertown, Tennessee. That's about three hours from Memphis.

At The Farm, they make soft and firm tofu, soygurt, and soy milk in their modest Soy Dairy. The products are sold at their on-site health food store and in select Nashville-area health food stores. The last time I was in Nashville, I picked up some soygurt and tofu. This morning, I tried the soygurt for the first time. It is soooo good.

It's unflavored and unsweetened, but it's perfect with a slightly sweet granola and tangy berries. And it feels good to eat something made so close to home. I try to eat as local as possible. But sometimes I slip, especially in the winter months when fresh local produce isn't available at the farmer's market. For example, those juicy red raspberries came in a plastic box that said "Grown In Mexico." I feel a little guilty about it, but hopefully eating local yogurt makes it okay...

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Today I went to a holiday potluck...a mostly non-vegan one. So I had to bring an entree and dessert to make sure I got enough to eat. Don't you hate that about non-veg potlucks? You feel obligated to bring more than one dish because otherwise you have to watch everyone gorge themselves while you're forced to load your plate with the dish you brought. And maybe some raw veggies from the obligatory veggie tray (sans ranch dip of course). Fortunately for me, my friend Monica made vegan chili (even though she's not even vegetarian!), and someone brought rosemary olive oil bread. Between those dishes and my Spicy Peanut Pasta and Chocolate Almond Brittle, I was stuffed!

The Spicy Peanut Pasta recipe came from a seasonal cookbook called, appropriately, "Cooking By the Seasons." The dish was listed under Yule/Winter Solstice meals. It was just okay, though. I used whole wheat spiral pasta, and the sauce was a combo of peanut butter, tomato paste, veggie broth, onions, garlic, and some spices. You can't really tell what's in it by looking at the pic because I garnished heavily with green onion, flaked coconut, and chopped dry roasted peanuts.

My dessert was a hit though! It was Chocolate Almond Brittle from the new issue of VegNews. Deceptively simple and melt-in-your-mouth tasty. Just chocolate chips, soy margerine, toasted almonds, and graham cracker bits. It wasn't at all like a brittle though...more like a Crunch. I'm making more of it for Xmas gifts, but I'm re-naming it Chocolate Almond Crunch.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Comfort food

No pics today, sorry! I had Ramen noodles last night (with added tofu, carrots, and mushrooms) because I had to get some Xmas shopping done and needed to get out of the house quickly before the mall and bookstore closed.

But that made me much as I try and avoid processed foods, there's some dishes, like Ramen, that I love too much to give up. When I was kid, my mom let me eat Ramen for breakfast everyday. Not the most nutritional breakfast, but tasty nonetheless. So these days, it's by far my favorite comfort food. If I'm feeling sad or lonely or bored, I can curl up with a steaming bowl of Ramen and all is good in the world.

Last night, when I ate Ramen, it was super-cold outside. It's gone from nearly 80 degrees earlier this week to temps in the 30s and 40s. And that hot bowl of noodles warmed me up quicker than an electric blanket in a sauna room (okay, not really, but I did feel suddenly cozy).

What are your favorite comfort foods?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Silly me

I forgot to mention what was in the Vegan Tourtiere last night when posting dinner pics. It just looks a little like mush pie in the picture. The filling is made from mushrooms, millet, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, herbs, spices, and veggie broth.

Here's a definition of non-vegan tourtiere from wikipedia:
"A tourtière is a meat pie originating from Quebec, usually made with ground pork and/or veal, or beef. It is a traditional Christmas and New Year's Eve dish in Quebec."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Three Meals a Day...

...keeps the doctor away. Or at least keeps hunger away. I eat a lot, especially for a small girl. I weigh 105 pounds and I'm 5'2", but that doesn't stop me from gorging every chance I get. Most of my friends eat once or twice a day, and it's often crap. Processed foods, fast food, yuk! But I treat myself to a fine home-cooked meal three times a day.

For breakfast, I usually prepare something on Sunday night that I can heat up quickly each morning. This week it's Svelte French Toast with Berry Compote.

It's a recipe I got off the vegan cooking show that comes on PBS, Christina Cooks. It's basically whole grain toast, dipped in a soft tofu/soymilk batter and fried. I made the compote by cooking strawberries (one's I'd frozen from picking at the organic strawberry patch last spring) and blueberries in a brown rice syrup/maple syrup combo.

For lunch, in honor of the last day of Hannukah, I re-heated some "Vegan with a Vengeance" Matzoh Ball Soup that I'd made about a month ago. I froze the balls and the broth separately...this is some seriously good stuff! I made the broth by boiling down veggie scraps I saved in the freezer for months (onion ends, celery bits, squash tips, tomato tops). It was super yummy and rich. The addition of dried dill made it even better!!!

For dinner, I made Vegan Tourtiere from a recipe I found in "The Frugal Vegan's Harvest & Holiday Survival Guide." It's a zine I ordered last season, and it's packed with yummy fall/winter recipes and homemade Xmas gift ideas. The crust came from a recipe in "How It All Vegan" by Sarah Kramer and Tonya Barnard. The tart was quite tasty...very hearty and great with a small side salad!

Here's the whole pie:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Super Salad

Okay, so I realize this is not exactly Southern fare, but tonight, I was craving a salad. It's 77 degrees here in Memphis. Yep, in mid-December. So it's sort of like a spring night and that makes me crave cold, raw veggies. But my friends, salad doesn't have to be only about the veggies. My "super salads" (that's what I call them cause the ingredients change every time but they're always HUMONGOUS) are a complete meal — veggies, fats, protein, carbs.

Tonight's salad — hydroponic butter lettuce, organic carrots, chopped green onion, sliced green olives, sundried tomatoes, grated Follow Your Heart vegan cheddar, toasted salt and pepper pecans, faux bacon bits, homemade whole grain croutons, and a raspberry vinegarette. Yum!!

I got the idea for the toasted salt and pepper pecans from Jess at Get Sconed, my fave vegan food blog. I don't know how to add links yet, but google Get Sconed, and you'll find her. I toasted whole pecans from my Uncle Dale's farm in a tad bit of olive oil, sea salt, ground black pepper, and a pinch of sugar.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Okay, so this is kind of a test. I've never posted pics, and well, if I'm gonna be posting food porn...

This is a pic of me dressed as a plant thing. My animal rights group, Food Awareness, hands out veggie leaflets. We dress like plant people for added effect.

There was light....

So here I am. Typing my inaugural post. Guess I should start with an introduction. I'm Bianca, a vegan in Memphis, Tennessee. Most folks around here like to slather their BBQ sauce on roasted pig flesh. I prefer to baste my barbecue on baked bean curd.

Unfortunately, veganism isn't all that popular in the Dirty South. We don't have a single vegan restaurant in Memphis. Some have a few vegan selections, but not one can boast to be 100% meat-free. But it's okay because I love to cook. More importantly, I love to veganize Southern staples. Pecan pie, buttermilk cornbread, "chicken' 'n' dumplins'.... all can be made meat, dairy, and cruelty free.

I'll use this to blog to share my experiences veganizing Southern food. I hope to compile a Southern vegan cookbook soon! But I'll also use this space as a food diary of sorts....I don't eat vegan chitlins' everyday, after all. Some days I like tacos and cheeseless pizza. I'll talk about those experiences as well.

Most importantly, I promise to post plenty of mouth-watering food porn...because isn't that what food blogs are really all about?