Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fast Food

Okay, so not like drive-thru fast ... but heat-it-up-in-five-minutes-or-less fast. That's what I've been eating since Tuesday night — whatever I can throw together with minimal time and effort. Tuesday night, I steamed some frozen Kimchee Dumplings with a Cabbage-Squash Stir-fry:

The dumplings were fantastic! Poopie Bitch and I picked up a few bags on a recent run to the massive Asian/Mexican market on Winchester. For the sauce, I combined some hoisin, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and sesame oil. And the stir-fry was a quick way to use up some squash that would have gone bad soon.

Why am I not slaving over a hot stove these days? Because I'm moving, that's why. I've been packing for days! Ick! And I'll be officially in the new place by Sunday! Yea!

The downside to this (besides moving against my will) is that I will not have internet service for a few days. This could be my last post for a week or so, but I'll have Internet here through Saturday, so if I eat something really tasty, I'll let you know.

Oh, and I'm also skipping Iron Cupcake this month since many of my baking supplies are packed away. But check out Amanda's cupcakes on Walking the Vegan Line. This girl BRAVED HURRICANE IKE TO MAKE CUPCAKES! That's a cupcake hero, my friends...a true cupcake hero.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pumpkin Time!

In honor of Monday's Fall Equinox, also known as Mabon, I ate a crap load of pumpkin. I began the day with this yummy Pumpkin Sausage from Have Cake, Will Travel:

Dude, check out my cool raven plates from Target's Halloween collection?!

I first saw the sausage on Celine's blog a few weeks ago and made a mental note that I MUST try it soon. All I can say, is, um, WOW! I hear it's a little like the famous Seitan O' Greatness recipe that floating around the vegan blogsphere. But I've never made that, so I don't know. To me, it tasted (and felt like) a cross between Julie Hasson's sausages and a Tofurkey. In fact, I may even make this in place a Tofurkey this year for Thanksgiving ... maybe.

For breakfast, I sliced the sausage log, pan-fried it, and served it with doused in maple syrup alongside some of my Cinnamon Pecan Waffles (the recipe is going in my cookbook):

For dinner last night, I chopped up some more sausage to make the Punk-Kin Pasta from La Dolce Vegan:

This is definitely my very favorite recipe from Sarah Kramer's third book. I only allow myself to make it in the fall and winter though ... pumpkin season and never a day earlier. Basically, it's canned pumpkin, pumpkin sausage (but you can use Gimme Lean or even veggie burger), whole wheat rotini, garlic (which I used in place of onions because I was out of onions), veggie broth, salt, and pepper. Super simple, super tasty. Oh, and I topped it with shredded Teese before eating it.

Now if only I could get as excited about packing as I am about pumpkin...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Double Birthday!

First of all, Happy Autumn Equinox! I'll have lovely seasonal foods to share with ya'll in tomorrow's post. But tonight, I have something special to share with you! Poopie Bitch's Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Birthday Cake from Vegan with a Vengeance:

Last night, my friends and I celebrated two birthdays — Leslie, who drove all the way from Asheville, North Carolina for her party, turned 21 and Pat, an old-school vegan buddy, turned 50-something. Honestly, I don't know 50-what because he wouldn't tell us. Here's the birthday folks, smiling after a big slice of Poopie's yummy cake!

Leslie and Pat

Poopie (who has a blog here) is a professional vegan cake decorator, hence the lovely cake above. But she also loves to cook savory dishes too. She catered the whole party (which we held at our friend Vaughan's house), and the food was DEE-LICOUS!

Chef Poopie Bitch (a.k.a. Stephanie)

For starters, she made this tasty Walnut-Mushroom Pate with Crostini:

And then, we dug into this Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Carmelized Onion and Sage Crumb Topping from the Veganomicon:

This was the first time I've tried this dish, and wow! The cashew cream really makes it somethin' special. PB picked the perfect dish for kicking off the fall season.

We also munched on PB's green beans, which she picked up at the Memphis Farmer's Market the day before:

All in all, we had a great time! After pigging out, Leslie helped me finish shelling the lima beans that I've been working on. And then we had a poetry reading and watched a slideshow of old pics of us goofing off in crazy costumes (which we do as often as possible)!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quesadillas and Lima Beans

I know, weird combination ... but I didn't eat them together. In fact, I haven't eaten any of the lima beans yet. On Tuesday morning before work, I picked one-fourth of a bushel of organic limas at the pick-your-own Windmere Farms in Raleigh. Damn, that's a lot of work! But here are the fruits of my labor:

It took about an hour and a half to fill up my small basket. And then the suckers had to be shelled. I'm still working on that, but I've shelled (and frozen for the winter) about half my haul. I plan to finish up shelling on Saturday morning.

Tonight, I whipped up some "Chicken" Queso-Less Dillas (that's what I like to call vegan quesadillas):

I sauteed some Morningstar Farms faux chicken strips with a mixture of water, nooch, soy sauce, chili powder, and garlic. Then I spread that over a whole wheat spinach tortilla, along with some salsa and shredded Teese. I topped the tortilla with another tortilla and heated it up in a dry skillet for a few minutes.

Yum! Melty, Teesy goodness! Unfortunately, my neighbor's water pipe broke this afternoon and the utility company shut my water off. Since the place is being foreclosed, our rental company won't fix anything, so now we're trying to figure out how to get his pipe fixed and our water back on. That meant I couldn't wash my Teesy, nasty dishes tonight. Nor can I shower. Ick.

UPDATE (9/19/08): My neighbor Wes called me to tell me the water has been repaired! Yea!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Take That McDonald's!

I try to avoid McDonald's. They put beef fat in their fries, and the only vegan food on the menu (the baked apple pies...yup, they're vegan) has 5 grams of trans fat per serving! But I occasionally stop in for an iced coffee with no cream when I'm on the road with no Starbucks in sight. The last time I made such a pit stop, I noticed the giant "Southern Chicken Biscuit" sign in the window.

And that inspired me to create this Tofu "Chicken" Biscuit:

I used the Southern Fried Tofu Chicken recipe that I'll be including in my cookbook, as well as my own recipe for flaky Buttermilk Biscuits. For some reason, I felt like the sandwich needed a little mustard too.

Wow, was this delish! I'll definitely be including this as a serving suggestion for the Southern Fried Tofu Chicken in my cookbook.

On the side, I had Fried Corn and a Side Salad:

The fried corn isn't really fried, but that' s what my mom calls it. You do cook it in a skillet, but there's no hot oil involved...just a little soy margarine.

"Fried" Corn
4 ears corn, cut off the cob
1 cup soymilk
2 Tbsp. soy margarine
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. flour

Combine the corn, soymilk, margarine, sugar, and salt in a skillet and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Slowly stir in the flour, and continue cooking for 10 to 15 more minutes or until corn is soft and liquid is absorbed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Eggplant Tagine

The weekend before last, my Granny and I snatched a few Japanese eggplants out of her neighbor's garden when they weren't home. They probably wouldn't have cared, but it was fun pretending to sneak around. The eggplants have been sitting in my fridge ever since...waiting on a recipe to come my way.

That is, until last night when I made this Double Coriander Eggplant Tagine from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times:

Tagine is a traditional Moraccan stew that's slow-cooked for hours in a special pot. The tagine recipes in Veg Times, however, are made in 30 minutes. That's because the slow-simmering part is only necessary to cook the meat found in a traditional tagine.

This dish called for canned tomatoes (I used Granny's home-canned ones), onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, and cilantro. Served over whole wheat couscous, it was spicy and delightful! The only problem — I HATE eggplant skin. And even though I usually peel it off, I didn't this time because I thought it'd look prettier with the skin on.

It's sad when you're more concerned with how your food will look on your blog than how it will taste. I ended up picking all the skin off when I ate it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cupcakes and a Cute Puppy!

Today is my friend Misti's 33rd birthday. She'll probably hate me for putting her age out there like that, but it's too late. Anyway, I never let a birthday pass without cupcakes! So I whipped up these Vanilla Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:

Honestly, the orange buttercream didn't taste very orange-y. It calls for two tablespoons of orange juice, but no extract. And that would have helped, but I didn't have any on hand. It actually tasted like lemon buttercream, likely due to the tablespoon of lemon zest in the recipe. Either way, they were super good. The vanilla cupcakes never disappoint.

Oh, and I also promised a cute puppy. Here's Misti's dog Bailey sporting my new vintage 80s sunglasses with cool squiggly shapes on the lenses (which you can't really see because of the flash):

Bailey is an awesome dog. She's sweet and she follows me around my house when I dog sit ... but she does have an overactive bladder. She pees a little when she gets excited. But don't we all?

Oh, and thanks for all the nice words about my moving/foreclosure situation. It sucks, but all your sweet comments make the process more bearable.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

You're What?! Tin Roof! Rusted!

On Friday night, my friends and I saw the B-52s at the Memphis Botanic Gardens. I've been a huge fan since I was eight years old, listening to "Loveshack" on my parents' jukebox. And though the band members are nearly AARP age, they still rock as hard as they did in 1989.

The show was part of the botanic gardens' "Live at the Garden" concert series. They host monthly outdoor shows every summer, and you can bring coolers, wine, whatever you need for the perfect picnic. We're dorks, so we made a themed menu basing our dishes around B-52s songs.

We had Roma Around the World Hummus Wraps, My Own Private Idaho Potato Salad, and Cosmic Thing Fruit Salad:For the hummus wraps, we spread some storebought red pepper hummus on red chile tortillas and then stuffed them with Roma tomato slices, black olives, and lettuce. Rather than risk spoilage with Veganaise, I made the potato salad with olive oil, rice vinegar, pickle relish, white onion, and parsley. And the fruit salad contained strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, plums, pineapple, and pomegranate seeds.

Here I am with a glass of Chardonnay and a full plate. We finished the night out with Yellowtail Shiraz-Merlot. We thought about making vegan B-52s (the cocktail with Irish cream, Kalua, and triple sec), but I didn't have time to make vegan Irish cream. And it'd be hard to mix cocktails outside in the dark anyway.

Here's my friend Nathan with his plate piled high:

And Greg arrived a little late, so he finished off the leftovers:

They saved "Loveshack" for the last song and "Rock Lobster" for the encore. We had a B-52s dance party! Yea!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Great Beer Bean Mystery

I have a distinct memory of sitting at the small dining table in my Granny and Pa's camper at Lake Something-or-Other about 20 years ago (I would have been seven or maybe eight) eating Granny's yummy barbecue Beer Beans. They were tangy and sweet, salty and smooth. And I'd imagine there was also some appeal in fact that taboo booze was the main ingredient.

Now fast forward to 2008: No one in my family remembers Granny's Beer Beans. Not even my Granny. My mom thinks I made the whole thing up, and Granny just doesn't remember (though she didn't rule out the possibility).

So I set out to prove them wrong ... or at least all too senile to remember :-) Last night, I threw together these Baked Beer Beans:

I combined a little Bud Light (it's what my neighbor Wes had on hand ... but a vegan stout would be nice), cannelenni beans, ketchup, molasses, maple syrup, onion, and garlic and then tossed the whole dish in the oven for 45 minutes. After one bite, the memory came back even stronger. The beer gives the beans a unique hops-y taste, but not in an overpowering way. It was like deja vu, a taste I know I've experienced. Now I have to make them again so my family can see how right I was.

Since beans are no main course, I also mixed up some of Show Me Vegan's delicious Tempeh Spread and served it on Ezekiel bread with tomato and iceberg lettuce:

I saw this Veganaise-based spread on her blog awhile back, and as a fan of sandwich spreads, I knew I'd make it someday. Since summer's coming to a close at the end of the month, I'm trying to eat as much summer-y foods as I can. I'm going to miss the days of cold entrees, grilled tofu, and fresh juicy tomatoes. Oh well, at least the pumpkins are coming!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Beans for Breakfast

The Black Beans on Toast recipe is one of my favorite breakfasts from Sarah Kramer's La Dolce Vegan. It's simple, savory, and pretty filling. I made a batch on Sunday night and I've been eating them on Ezekial Bread (topped with Teese) for several mornings:

Typically, I mash the beans with salsa, cumin, garlic powder, and veggie broth, but I had some extra noochy cheeze sauce in the fridge Sunday night. I subbed that for the broth, so the beans were not only Mexican-y, but cheezy too!

On another note, I've found a place to live! It's a 3-bedroom house with a fenced-in backyard. And my awesome neighbors are all moving one street over. I won't move in until the end of the month, but I've already started packing (which sucks).

On a crappier note (literally), my poor kitty Akasha is at the vet tonight. He went in this morning for constipation and they found poop lodged so far into his colon that it was touching his stomach! He's getting regular enemas until it comes out. Poor kitty! That has to suck!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Veggie Soup for the Soul

I'm moving ... again. Against my will ... again. It sucks.

Let me explain. On Thursday, my neighbor Michelle called me at work to tell me that some mean realtor lady was in our yard saying that we (me and my 3 neighbors) had 30 days to find a new home. Apparently, the slumlord who owns my building, a 1920s-ish house split into four apartments, hasn't paid the bills in awhile and the house is in foreclosure.

This sucks! Not only do I have to move, but I have to leave some of the best neighbors I've ever had. I'm gonna miss Wes (the awesome house dad who cooks surprise dinners for us, waters everybody's plants, and cares for my pets when I leave town ... Wes is truly like family to me).


And I'll miss Michelle (the strong poet chick who has late night political discussions with me in the carport), and Kristen (the fashionable, pink-haired philosophy maven who has birthday parties for her cats).

Just last year, Wes and I were forced out of another apartment complex when it was sold to condo developers. We're tired of being shuffled around.

To ease my troubles, I turned to food of course. Not typical comfort food like ice cream, but Homemade Local Veggie Soup:

Last night, I boiled down six tomatoes from the farmer's market (after removing their skin) for about an hour. This morning, I poured the tomato base into a Crock Pot with 2 cups veggie stock, 2 summer squash, 1 cup fresh crowder peas, fresh corn sliced off the cob, 3 carrots, 2 celery stalks, an onion, 4 garlic cloves, 2 jalepenos, basil, oregano, seasoning salt, and some of this crazy-looking Japanese okra:

My Granny grows this stuff in her yard and it tastes (and looks) like a cross between eggplant and okra. You have to peel the skin off though because it's a little tough.

Though the soup, served with melty Teese toast, didn't solve my housing situation, it sure did taste good. And it was a great way to use up some summer bounty!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Chubby's Taters

My pal Justin over at the Chubby Vegetarian featured some tasty lookin' Lemony Roasted Potatoes on his blog last month. I made a mental note to try them, and I finally found time on Friday night:

I made these with local farmer's market new potatoes, and they were super easy. According to Justin's directions, I tossed the potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper and then roasted them on 500 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Then I took 'em out and tossed them with lemon zest, parsley, and a little lemon juice from the lemon I zested. Eaten with a Boca vegan chicken patty smothered with noochy "cheeze" and a side salad, these were the perfect beginning to fun Friday night at a local bar with friends.

Thanks Chubby! BTW, if you haven't seen Justin's blog, you really outta get over there now. He's an amazing photographer, which makes for some totally drool-worthy imagery.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Our Lady of Peas

Last season, I read an article in Edible Memphis, a local foodie publication, about the elusive lady pea – a delicate, hard-to-find relative of the common black-eyed pea. It was late in the summer at the time, and any crop of lady peas that may have been available was likely long, long gone. So I waited a full year before I could put this bowl on my dinner table:

This steamy soup of Lady Peas with Pearled Barley, Carrots, and Onions may be one of the most pleasurable foods I've had the joy of eating. As promised in the original article touting lady peas, these lovelies were as dainty as could be.

If peas were people, Lady Pea would be decked out in a lacy Victorian gown and elbow-length white gloves while her dirty white trash cousin Black-Eyed Peas sips Papst in a trailer park. That's the best way I can describe the complete difference in texture and taste.

The lady peas are the small green (and some off-white) bits in this spoon. The white pieces are actually barley.

The best part? I bought a bag of lady peas at the Clarksville Farmers Market (while visiting my boyfriend's parents over the weekend) for $2! In Memphis, market vendors charge $6 a bag because they know people are willing to shell (no pun intended) out the big bucks for the fancy lady pea. And now that I've had a taste, I think I'd pay the $6 as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Best Raw Food Day Ever!

I do a raw food detox on the first Monday of every month, but since that was Labor Day, I pushed the cleanse off until Tuesday. Usually when I do the detox, I'm super hungry all day and I tend to crash around 3 p.m. I've got low energy (from the lack of caffeine, I'm sure), and by the time raw dinner rolls around, I'm craving cooked food like a mofo.

But today was different. I think I did something right this time. For breakfast, I whipped up some Raw Cinnamon Apple Cereal with Raw Almond Milk:

The recipe came from Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes by Angela Elliot. First, I had to make the almond milk using soaked almonds, water, vanilla, and agave in the blender. Then I strained out the almond pulp with a cheesecloth. The pulp made the base of this cereal, along with fresh farmer's market apples, raisins, cinnamon, and agave. I poured a little almond milk over the mix to give it a cereal mouthfeel (don't you hate that word?).

Around 10 a.m., the monthly shot nurse visited our office for $15 B-12 shots. I got one and had an immediate energy burst, so I think that helped with the caffeine withdrawal. Around 11 a.m., I snacked on these AMAZING Eternal Bliss Balls:

Based on a recipe from Vegan Fusion, these coconut date balls saved me from hunger throughout the day. I used dates, cocoa powder, soaked almonds, raisins, tahini, and flax seeds to create the ball base, and then I rolled each one in coconut. It was like dessert, only super healthy!

For lunch, I dined on this Corn Symphony Soup from Alive in 5:

To make it, I tossed thawed frozen corn, almond milk, red bell pepper, jalapeno, and cilantro in the blender. It was thick and creamy, and pretty darn tasty. I also had a side salad with the soup. Later in the afternoon, I snacked on a fresh farmer's market pear and some leftover corn soup ... and of course, more date balls.

Before hitting up the gym after work, I made some Fresh V6 Juice in my Jack Lalanne Juicer:

This stuff contains 1 tomato, 1 bell pepper, 4 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, a handful of parsley, and a handful of cilantro. Yum! It kept me satisfied at the gym until I was able to come home and make Raw "Spaghetti" with Puttanesca Sauce and Not Meat Balls:

Based on a recipe from Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet, this dish was hands down my favorite raw food cleanse dish that I've made so far. I've only been detoxing once a month since March, but this one takes the cake (or, um, I mean takes the raw flax cracker).

The "pasta" is made from squash peeled with a vegetable peeler, and the sauce contains all kinds of yumminess like fresh tomato, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, cayenne pepper, and black olives. The Not Meat Balls, made from a Pecan Paté of soaked pecans, onion, parsley, tamari, and lemon juice, really made the dish shine. Thank god I have leftovers!

I'm going to attribute my success this time to more frequent snacking. Anytime thoughout the day that I felt the slightest bit hungry, I ate ... and that means I was eating almost every hour. But at least I didn't feel like crap this time.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Curry In a Hurry

Sorry for the long absence. I spent the weekend in Nashville and Clarksville, Tennessee with the boyfriend. We went to the Nashville Shores water park, ate at Mellow Mushroom, and took a much-needed trip to the massive Whole Foods. But before I left town, I fulfilled a coconut curry craving with Bare Bones Tofu Curry from Vegetarian Suppers by Deborah Madison:

It's called "bare bones" because it's such a basic recipe: coconut milk, curry paste, plain tofu, seasonal veggies, and fresh basil. I was able to whip this dish up in a few minutes with some organic carrots and local yellow pepper and squash.

The real highlight was the tofu. I discovered this Asian brand of baked tofu at my neighborhood Asian market and it's amazingly firm (don't remember the name though ... sorry). Its more firm than White Wave or Westsoy (the two most firm brands sold around here) and more sturdy than any pre-baked tofu I've ever purchased.

Since the recipe calls for fried tofu, I tossed the cubes in some hot safflower oil for a few minutes and it even started to bubble on the outside, like the tofu served in Asian restaurants. Unfortunately, I was too hungry to wait for it to get totally fried on the outside, so it's not as pretty as it could be. But the texture was perfect!