Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Hot Dog Party!

This is my Me-maw:

She loves Halloween more than any other holiday, and that's saying a lot because this is a woman who loves her holidays. She completely redecorates her house in holiday-themed knick-knacks and wall hangings (even themed toilet seat covers and shower curtains!) for every major holiday. But her Halloween collection is out of this world. Me-maw's house is filled with motion-activated singing mummies and witches, fiber optic pumpkins, harvest wreaths, and even a Halloween tree (like a Christmas tree, but with spooky ornaments).

Every year on Halloween, our family gets together at her house in Arkansas for a little chili dog party! My mom always brings veggie dogs and vegan chili for me. And I usually make the hour drive to Me-maw's house with a small portion of vegan cheese to melt atop my dog. This time, I used some Cheddar Style Sheese:

My mom brought her re-created version of Pancho's Salsa:

If you grew up anywhere in the Mid-South, you've probably had Pancho's dip. It's the house salsa served at the Pancho's chain of Mexican restaurants that once peppered this region. Only a handful of the restaurants are left, but the grocery store dip sales are still a booming business. Years ago, my mom found one of those restaurant food re-creation recipes. She claims she made it a lot when I was a kid, but I don't remember. Anyway, this stuff is amazing!! It's pureed fresh tomatoes, onions, and other stuff spiked with cumin and seasoned with a little oil.

My mom also brought a couple dozen Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudgey Frosting (and yes, they were vegan!):

She used the basic chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and I think she improvised on the creamy chocolate frosting because my mom is awesome like that. Yummy!

And although I didn't dress up tonight, I'll leave y'all with a picture of my Halloween costume from Saturday night, which I wore to several parties.

If you can't tell, I was a Mexican wrestler, and I used my new fairy wings (a recent birthday gift) as my cape. My wrestler name was Hada del infierno, Spanish for "Hell Fairy."

How did you spend your Halloween?

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Casablanca

Happy Halloween! Expect several Halloween food-related posts in the coming days, but on the last day of Vegan Mofo, I've got a review for my Bluff City Vegan Eats Series.

For the most part, all Middle Eastern joints in Memphis seem about the same to me. Casablanca, a casual sit-down style Middle Eastern restaurant in East Memphis, is pretty stand-out though. Not my fave, but certainly up there. Maybe my second fave.

The food is amazing, especially their Baba Ganoush. In fact, Casablanca may serve the best creamy, roasted eggplant dip in town:

Their Hummus is good too. Creamy, tahini-y, chickpea-ish. The olive oil drizzled on top actually comes from the owner's dad's olive oil business in Jerusalem. It's also sold at Casablanca by the bottle:

There's really only one vegan entree, but you could certainly make a meal out of the vegan appetizers too (the aforementioned spreads, stuffed grape leaves, falafel, tabouli, the usual stuff). I usually stick with the Big Mac of the Middle East:

That's what they call this monster falafel-filled pita (and no, I couldn't wait to take a bite before I snapped this picture). Their falafel is warm, with a crispy exterior and a soft, savory interior, and it's stuffed into a pita with lettuce, carrots, and onions. Unfortunately, Casblanca's signature tahini sauce isn't vegan. It contains yogurt. And for some crazy reason, the Big Mac doesn't come with hummus spread inside. So I always order a side of hummus for spreadin'.

Other "vegetarian" entrees at Casablanca contain eggs or cheese. Ugh. Thank god falafel is vegan. The most charming thing about this place isn't really the tasty food though. The owner, Aimer, is usually at the restaurant visiting tables, and he's always so chipper and grateful for his customers' business. He'll stop by a table and ask everyone how their food is, crack jokes, and make people laugh. A visit to Casablanca is 50 percent food and 50 percent experience.

Casablanca is located at 5030 Poplar, Suite 7. Call 901-725-8557 or go to the website here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Food I Didn't Make

I have this friend named Cindy, and she's always selling something. First, there was Arbonne makeup, and now she's selling Premier Designs Jewelry. I hosted her first party a few months back when she was just launching her business, and if three guests at my party signed up to host their own show, I got so much jewelry free. So my friend Shay signed up because she's awesome.

Look! It's Shay being awesome!

Her party was tonight, and since I knew she was making yummy vegan snacks, I skipped dinner. The star of the show was this Homemade Vegan Pizza with Spinach, Kalamata Olives, Pesto, and Vegan Rella:

Shay even made her own crust, pesto, and tomato sauce! Her sauce, which was just the right balance of sweet and savory, was made with fresh tomatoes, shallots (omg, I forgot how much I LOVE shallots!), and marsala wine.

She also made a fine batch of Hummus! You can never go wrong with hummus. Never.

And some ultra-awesome Banana Bread. I might have been mistaken, but I think there were chocolate chips sprinkled in. I swear I found one or two. The texture of this bread was just amazing. Soft, squishy, fresh.

Our friend Mike also contributed a massive batch of his Homemade Chex Mix:

This giant bowl was only a portion of what he brought. Of course, that meant I got to take some home (I scored some leftover pizza too!). The Chex Mix was flecked with Cheerios, mixed nuts, and pretzels. Yummy!

I scored a whole free dinner out of this jewelry party, plus at the risk of sounding cheesy, a few hours with some awesome friends. Oh, and some jewelry!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Southern Comfort

Rarely ever do I rush home from work to make a recipe I saw on a blog that same day. I'm a crazy planner, and few things in my life are ever spontaneous. In fact, spontaneity gives me anxiety. I plan my meals two weeks in advance to prevent "oh my god, what am I going to eat next Thursday?" freakouts.

But sometimes rush decisions are just meant to be. Over the weekend, my Granny gave me a big ole bag of red and green tomatoes and some fresh okra from her neighbor's garden. Since my meals were already planned out, I knew I'd have to make some adjustments to work these fresh veggies in, and I was sort of prepared to do that yesterday when I stumbled onto John P's blog post on The I-40 Kitchen about Fried Okra, Green Tomatoes, and Tofu:

See, I was MEANT to make this! I had all the ingredients at home, so no after-work trips to the grocery store were necessary. Thanks John P, for being there when I needed you.

The dish is similar to how my Mama makes fried green tomatoes (diced and coated with cornmeal and flour), but with added okra and cubed tofu. It's all tossed with a little flour, cornmeal, chickpea flour, salt, and Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning, and then fried in oil until crispy.

John P doesn't provide measurements for his recipe because he just throws everything together. So I guessed at everything and it turned out just fine — 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup cornmeal, and 1/4 cup chickpea flour, salt and Cajun seasoning liberally. Oh, and about three tablespoons of oil. I served the dish with my Mama's leftover dumplins and greens.

Are you a meal planner? Or a spontaneous cook?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ramen Cheesy Noodles

Before I get today's food porn, I need to announce the winner of the Eat Vegan on $4 a Day giveaway! Congrats to Kim from Vegan Conversion Challenge! And thanks to all else who participated.

And now ... on to the ramen. Who says everybody's favorite curly, fried noodle has to be flavored with those little silver packets? I mean, those are delicious and all. But sometimes a girl needs some variety in her life. In Ramen to the Rescue, which I reviewed here a few weeks back, there are all kinds of non-traditional uses for ramen. Case in point — Kale Cheddar Noodle Casserole:

Wh-wh-what?! That's all my favorite foods – kale, Daiya, and ramen — wrapped up into one cute little lasagna-esque square. The only fave foods missing are French fries and popcorn, but that would be gross.

The recipe wasn't vegan since Ramen to the Rescue isn't a vegan (or even vegetarian) cookbook. But it was easily veganized since this dish was already meatless. I used Daiya Cheddar for the cup of cheese in the recipe, and it melted perfectly in the oven. I also subbed out coconut milk (the drinking kind) for dairy milk and Earth Balance for the butter.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the cooked, baked ramen and kale casserole is topped with chopped, uncooked ramen mixed with vegan butter, salt, and garlic powder. I can think of no better thing to top ramen with than more ramen. Yep, that's pretty much my fantasy meal. But it was totally real.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Super Immunity!

Though I've never read his best-seller, Eat to Live, I'm somewhat familiar with Dr. Joel Fuhrman's work. To be honest, I've always shied away from reading his nutritional tome because I figured it'd be filled with accurate information about healthy eating that I really didn't want to hear. I'm no health food vegan, as you probably know by now.

And though I tend to stick to whole wheat pastry flour for baking, unrefined sugar or agave for sweeteners, and I avoid high-fructose corn syrup (most of the time), I still don't like to be told how to eat. I eat food because it tastes good. And while it feels good to eat healthy, I don't want to feel guilty every time I pig out on Daiya-covered pizza or make a rare run to Taco Bell for a "5-Layer" vegan burrito.

But the publisher of Fuhrman's new book, Super Immunity, offered to send me a free copy for review. And I can't turn down a free vegan cookbook. Plus, I figured the healthy info might come in handy after the holidays when I always go on my yearly cleanse to undo the fat damage of Xmas.

Super Immunity is Fuhrman's new guide to boosting the body's defenses against sickness through healthy eating, and he includes testimonies from patients who have literally turned cancer around through following his rules of eating a diet heavy on the raw and cooked veggies (especially greens), fruits, beans, and legumes. Whole grains and potatoes play a smaller role, and he says folks should rarely, if ever, eat eggs, oil, fish, dairy, beef, sweets, cheese, and processed foods.

I figure, as a vegan, I'm already doing pretty good with this. I was surprised to see that I'm kind of already following Fuhrman's plan, which he claims can prevent colds, flus, and cancers. My only weak spots are not eating as many veggies (he says veggies should make up 30 to 60 % of one's daily calories), eating too many grains, and enjoying the occasional processed food and/or sugar-laden dessert a few times a week.

I've already got a leg up on a lot of Fuhrman's intended SAD diet-following audience though. I can definitely start working in more veggies and, though I won't give up fake meat, oil, or desserts, I can try to reduce those things a tad bit. I'm gonna have to cool it on sweets for a bit anyway if I want to knock off the three pounds I gained in Portland in August.

In the back of Super Immunity, Fuhrman includes some delicious-sounding healthy recipes. I chose to try this Thai Longevity Stew:

It's a silky peanut stew with a crap-ton of veggies, like mushrooms, leeks, carrots, cabbage, and snow peas. I subbed a habanero pepper from my garden for the jalepeno in the recipe. So creamy and delicious. And I didn't miss the oil at all since the peanut butter adds fat and tastiness.

On the side, I made his Apple Bok Choy Salad:

Now, Fuhrman is no fan of oil, and though I don't totally agree with him on that one (he says it's just empty calories, I say it makes food taste better and isn't all that bad for you), I appreciate an oil-free dressing from time to time. That just means I can eat more calories somewhere else in the day. This dressing is made from raw cashews blended with balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and plant milk (I used coconut). The salad is chopped bok choy, shredded apples, carrots, and onions.

Will I eat the Joel Fuhrman way everyday? Probably not. Okay, definitely not. But I'll try to work some of his principles in (especially that part about more veggies) where I can. And I'm thinking I might do a whole Eat to Live cleanse in January, but only for 30 days. I can't live without Gardein for THAT long, after all. If I had cancer or some life-threatening disease or if I was overweight, I might consider adopting this diet for real-real. But I'm pretty healthy just the way I am now. But it's nice to know I won't have to make too many changes to adopt a healthier diet.

My 31st Birthday ... Again

Every year, I try to drag my birthday out as long as possible. I'm not one of those don't-tell-anyone-it's-my-birthday-and-hope-they'll-remember kinda girls. I let everybody know my special day is on the way a month in advance. And then I schedule as many celebrations as possible. This year, my "birthday forever" plan worked out especially well since my parents were out of town on my real birthday (Oct. 16th).

Tonight, we celebrated at their house in Arkansas, and I asked my mom to prepare me the ultimate Southern Dinner — Vegan Dumplins, Fried Okra, Fried Squash, Butter Beans and Cornbread, Slow-cooked Rape Greens, and Corn:

Now, just to be clear, this was our lunchtime meal. In the South, "dinner" means "lunch," and the evening meal is called "supper." Here's a close-up of my fave part of the meal, the Fried Okra and Squash:

My mama's vegan dumplins were also quite amazing. I don't know what that woman does to get her dumplins so tender, but they are out of this world. Instead of cooking mine in chicken broth, she uses veggie broth with a little added Earth Balance.

Here's the chef, my Mama:

She also made me a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar:

Now, you can see that my mama's no pro cake decorator. But who cares? The homemade chocolate buttercream was amazing, and I thought she did a cute little job trying to fit my name onto the cake. Before I snapped this shot, she said, "Now, you better not put a picture of my decoratin' job on the internet." Oops. Too late!

Anyway, the day was fabulous. I hung out with my parents, my granny and pa, and my me-maw. We stuffed ourselves and then I opened my presents. Birthdays are the best!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

$4 a Day Giveaway!

Remember my post from last night? I posted a picture of a Chorizo-Flavored Scramble from Ellen Jaffe Jones' new cookbook, Eat Vegan on $4 a Day. And while I admitted that yesterday's scramble wasn't exactly inexpensive to make, most of her recipes are. I just naturally gravitated to the one recipe in the book made with fake meat ... because I like the fake meat.

But tonight, I made a much more affordable recipe from Jones' book, as its name implies — Checkbook-Saving Bean Salad (seriously, that's it's name):

It's basically like my summer tomato salad, but with added chickpeas for protein. Just tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, oil, vinegar, and chickpeas. I used a pear balsamic vinegar and a blood orange-infused olive oil because I had those in the pantry, but the recipe could be made with plain ole vinegar or lemon juice and regular olive oil. Jones even suggests skipping the olive oil for a lower fat salad, but why would I do that?!

You can have your very own copy of Eat Vegan on $4 a Day since the publisher is allowing me to give one away to a lucky reader. The contest is limited to readers in the U.S. and Canada (sorry, their rules!). But leave me a comment here on your favorite inexpensive vegan meal for a chance to win.

For an extra entry, link to the contest on Facebook and leave a separate comment letting me know you did. Ditto for Twitter. That's a total of three comment entries per reader. Be sure and leave your email in your comment if yours isn't listed on Blogger. I'll randomly choose one comment next Tuesday night.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vegan on $4 a Day

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of Ellen Jaffe Jones' new book, Eat Vegan on $4 a Day. The slim book features simple recipes designed to save you a buck or two. And most of the recipes do look pretty cheap to make. But naturally, I was drawn to perhaps the most costly recipe in the book — Chorizo-Flavored Scramble:

The recipe supposedly makes 10 servings, but I only got five servings from it. Maybe I eat a lot, but honestly, the recipe calls for one package of tofu and one 12-ounce package of frozen veggie burger crumbles to beef up the dish's volume. And that's not a lot of food.

Although the recipe claims to cost only 75 cents per serving, I'd say it cost me more like $3 per serving or $15 total since I had to buy vegan bacon, vegan burger crumbles, tofu, and raisins. I already had the rest of the ingredients, like Mexican spices, agave, and soy sauce, in my pantry.

But don't let that turn you away from this book. This recipe, which was super tasty served with corn tortillas, seems to be the expensive exception. Many of the other recipes are so simple, they cost only pennies per serving. The Hearty Potato Soup is made with veggies and soymilk and costs 50 cents per serving, and the easy Billfold Saver Black Bean Burgers (made with beans, oats, nutritional yeast, and veggies) are only 50 cents for eight burgers. Unlike the Chorizo Scramble, most of Ellen's recipes don't call for costly fake meat.

Now, the point of this book is to be a cost-saver, so don't expect gourmet stuff. These are simple "idea" recipes that most experienced vegan cooks could make without a recipe. But I appreciate ideas ... especially ideas that might save me money.

Check back tomorrow for another photo from Eat Vegan on $4 a Day, one that I promise was far cheaper to create than today's scramble.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Secret Sauce Revealed!

I've blogged several times about how my omni boyfriend and I only have one meal we ever eat together (unless we're dining out). Mostly, we don't eat together because we work different schedules, but we also don't really like the same foods. He likes meat. I like fake meat. And truthfully, I don't like to share.

But every now and again, when the stars align, we cook spaghetti together. We have a secret sauce recipe that's been perfected over the years. It's a pinch of this, a pinch of that. We never measure, so the recipe I'm sharing with you is based on my best guess. The sauce is adapted from a cookbook I bought back in college (that was almost 10 years ago!!! Jesus Christ) called Vegetarian Comfort Food.

Last night, we made Paul and Bianca's Special Spaghetti with Sauteed Mushrooms and Cheatballs:

Paul didn't eat the cheatballs (Yves Veggie Meatballs), but I did, and they were DEELICIOUS! But I don't usually add fake meat. I just happened to have some in the fridge that needed usin'. The mushrooms, however, are a must. And they have to prepared separately from the sauce if you ask us.

Here's the recipe for the sauce and mushrooms separately. It's enough to top a pound of pasta.

Bianca's Not-So-Secret Spaghetti Sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil

7 cloves minced garlic

1 minced habanero pepper (optional)
3 28-oz. cans whole, peeled tomatoes

1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. maple syrup

1 splash red wine

Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic (and habanero, if using) and cook and stir for 1 minute.
Use your hands to break up the tomatoes from the can, and add them to the saucepan.

If the sauce seems too dry, add a little liquid from a can of the tomatoes. You won't need all of the tomato liquid though. Just a splash from one can is plenty.
Stir in the dried herbs and maple syrup and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the splash of red wine (a couple of tablespoons) and the salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat.


Paul's Magic Mushrooms

2 Tbsp. Earth Balance
1 8-oz. package whole mushrooms, sliced
Seasoning salt, to taste

Paprika, to taste

Cayenne, to taste

Soy sauce, to taste

Sriracha, to taste

Melt the Earth Balance in a large skillet and add the mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms begin to release their juices (haha, that sounds dirty!).
Season to taste and continue to cook until mushrooms are tender and slightly browned.

Top pasta with tomato sauce and then mushroom. Eat. Enjoy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy 31st Birthday to Me!

Yea, yea, I'm a bad mofo-er. I didn't blog last night, but I had a good damn reason. It was my birthday!!! And I was off enjoying free drinks and vegan snacks at the cast party for opening night of Broadway show, Memphis the Musical. But before that, on Saturday night, I had a Big Gay Birthday Vegan Wine & Cheese Party!!!

My birthday party night fell on Memphis' Gay Pride Day, and since I was a parade float judge this year, I decided to keep the gay theme going all night. That's why my birthday outfit is screaming rainbows! And check out these bad-ass fairy wings. They were a gift from my friend Autumn:

A few weeks ago, my daddy ordered me a selection of vegan cheeses to serve at the party. There's Cheezly Edam and Blue Cheese, Sheese Medium Cheddar and Mexican Style spread, We Can't Say It's Cheese Spread in Hickory Cheddar and Mexi-Cheddar, Teese Mozzarella, and Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheese in Aged Cashew & Brazil Nut:

I also made a few vegan cheeses at home. Here's most of the food spread and some of the wines:

I used the Teese Mozzarella to make Caprese Salad Stacks — tomato drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vingear, Teese, and a fresh basil leaf:

I used some Daiya Cheddar Shreds and salsa to make little Quesadilla Bites. These disappeared pretty quickly:

And I made this yummy Sundried Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Pub Cheese from Scissors & Spice! It was excellent spread on crackers!

I also made the famous Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese from Vegetarian Times. I've made this before, and it's so tasty. Sadly, there were no leftovers of this:

I sliced up some Sheese and Cheezly for folks to try with crackers. I'd never had Cheezly before, and it was delicious! Thankfully, the blue cheese flavor didn't have any weird blue moldy stuff. That always kept me away from blue cheese in my dairy days. (Speaking of mold, that little white bit on a slice of the Sheese in the middle is some Cheezly Blue Cheese that rubbed off from the knife ... not mold).

And I cubed some Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack. I know FYH is pretty easy to come by, but it really is tasty stuff. I rarely buy it anymore now that Daiya is sold in Memphis, but these cubes reminded me that FYH is still delicious!

I placed the We Can't Say It's Not Cheese Spreads and the Sheese Mexican Style spread out with crackers for spreadin':

But we all know that vegan wine and cheese alone does not a birthday party make. There must be cake!!! Luckily, I happen to be friends with Memphis' best vegan baker, Stephanie Roy (a.k.a. Poopie Bitch on the PPK). She made me, not one, but TWO vegan birthday cakes! This one was Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake. Eating this was JUST LIKE eating a Reese's peanut butter cup ... but better:

And then there was this Orange Creamsicle Cake. The sophiscated gold and silver frosting is very vegan-wine-and-cheese-party, no?

But Steph promised there was more to this giant cake than fancy gold frosting. Everyone gathered around for the big reveal as Stephanie cut the cake:

Surprise!!!!!!! It's a GAY CAKE!

Pretty awesome, huh? I still have cake leftover, and every time I look at the rainbow colors, I get all giddy inside.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Convenience Food!

I love to cook, but I'm no Martha Stewart. I don't have time to make EVERYTHING from scratch. Some days, I need something quick and easy. So when Vegetarian Plus offered to send me samples of their frozen vegan meats, I said, hell yes.

As far I know, our Whole Foods doesn't carry this brand. But I'd read about it in VegNews and was quite anxious to try the soy-based fake meats. A cooler arrived at my office a few weeks ago, and I ripped it open to find four boxes: two packages of frozen Vegan Kung Pao Chicken and two packages of Vegetarian Ginger Chicken.

Now, the vegetarian chicken had whey protein in it, so I couldn't eat that. But I gave it to my vegetarian managing editor Susan, who also edits our newspaper's food section and maintains the Hungry Memphis food blog. She generously offered to write a review, which you can find later in this post.

I didn't inspect the packages closely, and I assumed they were all single-serving frozen dinners. Imagine my surprise when I was ready to eat the Kung Pao Chicken, only to find that it makes four servings! You're supposed to mix the meat with veggies and such to make a meal. So earlier this week, I stir-fried the thawed "chicken" with some bok choy in one pan and steamed some squash and broccoli in another. Then I served it all over brown rice:

Wow! The "chicken" has a super meaty texture that's way more realistic than any seitan I could make from scratch. The kung pao sauce was the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, and slightly oily (but oily in a good way!). The only complaint I have are the chili peppers. I loved the spicy flavor they lent the dish, but the pepper pieces were really tough to chew. Maybe it was the freezing that made the texture weird, but I ended up picking them out.

In case you're wondering, the "chicken" is made with soybean fiber, soybean protein, and lots of spices. Yet it has more of a gluten-like texture. Similar to Gardein, but maybe a little meatier.

If I can ever find this stuff around here, I'll surely buy it again. It made a quick week night stir-fry so much easier.

Now, here's Susan's review of the Vegetarian Ginger Chicken:

As Bianca can attest, every day around lunch time, there’s generally a line to use the microwave, and it’s usually something like: Frozen Meal, Frozen Meal, Bianca’s Lunch, Frozen Meal, Frozen Meal, etc.

In my early 20s, I subsisted on frozen meals (that and Diet Coke and Dentyne) but pretty much haven’t had them at all for about 15 years. Then, recently I bought a whole bunch in a 10-for-$10-fueled frenzy. And ... I didn’t think they tasted all that good. Bianca says her issue with most frozen meals is that they aren’t filling.

So that Vegetarian Ginger Chicken Bianca gave me to try? Good and filling.

The ginger-basil sauce, covering the large bits of soy chicken, is excellent. There are generous bits of real ginger in the sauce, and I’ve never encountered a processed meal that dared be so bold with its spiciness. Delicious all around.

Now about that filling part. I turned over the box to check out the nutritional info and saw that each serving is a mere 190 calories. Then I notice that there are 5 servings per 10-ounce box. In the movies, this is the part where they cue the sound effect of the needle being dragged across a record.

I suggest splitting it in two for dinner and lunch. The box suggests serving it with a salad, but I think some steamed broccoli would be just the thing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Post Punk Kitchen Cookbook Challenge: Week Four

Week four in the Post Punk Kitchen Cookbook Challenge makes use of another book I wish I'd pull down from the shelf more often — Vegan Soul Kitchen! Although author Bryant Terry has since moved away, he has Memphis roots and it shows in his down-home, comfort fare.

I had no idea today was National Gumbo Day when I made his Gumbo Z earlier this week! But the timing worked out perfectly!

This hearty stew is a vegan spin on gumbo z'herbes (also called gumbo zav), a meatless gumbo made with a mixture of fresh greens. It was traditionally eaten by Catholics who were abstaining from eating meat during Lent. This gumbo has collard greens, mustard greens, and spinach.

The recipe also called for kale, but the ghetto-ass Kroger by my house doesn't carry kale because I live in a food desert. I have to drive at least five blocks to find kale (and yes, this shows that I'm a spoiled urban gal who feels like any place I have to drive to is too far). But I digress ...

Anyway, this was an amazing gumbo! I've only ever had traditional gumbos made with okra and some form of meatless protein. But this stew was all veggie-based, and I'm certain I got my daily allowance for greens (and probably calcium) in one bowl.

On the side, I made the Quinoa-Quinoa Cornbread from Vegan Soul Kitchen:

You're supposed to use quinoa flour and cornmeal, but I didn't want to spend the big bucks on a bag of quinoa flour that I'd never use again. So I subbed 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for the 1/2 cup quinoa flour. However, the cornbread was still super quinoa-y, thanks to the toasted quinoa grains. You don't cook them. You just toast them, and they impact a magical, nutty flavor. Also, agave nectar makes the cornbread pretty sweet, and it reminded me a little of Jiffy. But a super-healthy Jiffy! I prefer sweet cornbread.

What'd you eat on National Gumbo Day (it's okay if it wasn't gumbo ...)?