Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Greetings, from a lazy vegan blogger

Well, as you may have noticed, it has been months since my last posting. This is not due to lack of cooking or eating (the 3 gallons of Cabbage Pomegranate soup downstairs and my ever more restrictive waistband beg to differ), but because I am BUSY!

Since our last update, I left a 9-5 position to work in a local restaurant as a cook. But then, they didn't hire me as a cook. It's all good, though, because I became a waitress at the same restaurant and have started plotting with the sous chef to bring tasty vegan goodness to the daily soups and specials. Hell, he even ran a soup recipe I GAVE HIM today. There's nothing better than getting to watch your recipes coming back with cleaned plates.

I was looking up Natalie Portman's appearance on Top Chef tonight. She told the chefs that she was "vegetarian" and five minutes later, I saw what looked like a butter exodus occur in that kitchen. I was really icked out by the attitudes of many of the chefs toward vegetarian cooking (ie, "I WILL NEVER BE VEGETARIAN EVER") or the choices made by chefs (this has baffled other bloggers...a leek? as the main part of the dish? really?) and also (and maybe I'm a fatass) the portions of some of the dishes seemed...really skimpy. But yeah, I noticed it was vegan mofo. And that I all but missed it. And now I am sad.

I had a really fantastic food journey last week in NYC (got to hit up Angelica Kitchen, who still, in my mind have the best soup in all Manhattan, Gobo, Red Bamboo, Candle Cafe and the last remaining Zen Palate), I've been working on an array of soups (I want to write my own cookbook focused on my fav meal ever: LUNCH...and Lolo over at veganyumyum has really inspired me!), and lastly, I've been eating my fill at the newest vegan bakery that just opened here in town: Dharma Bakery. It's owned and operated by my former vegan cooking club-mate and college friend Dina Graves, a hari krishna and 2nd generation vegan bakery owner. She has been having weekly open houses to expand her line and let us mooches try to convince her to make stuff we want to eat (like RAINBOW COOKIES).

So yes, in the near future, be on the lookout. I'll be back up and running soon (I have several backlogged entries to finish as well) and when I am, you betta believe there's gonna be some good stuff, fresh new restaurant reviews, product reviews, recipes and dabblings.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's All Good? Tempeh-tations? How about no.

So, in my never-ending quest to find delicious, easy pre-packaged nutritionally sound vegan food (funny, all my experimentation with pre-packaged food is really making me excited to MAKE MY OWN), I stumbled across two new products at Whole Foods recently. I'll spoil the article for you. I don't know who names these new products, but I am *certain* that he or she did not actually try them before naming them. See below for descriptions and recommendations for substiutes that are edible.

It's All Good: BBQ Skewers (1 out of 5)

I'll be honest with you. I bought both kinds of it's all good meat, the BBQ Beef Skewers and Chicken Good Stuff (black bean and corn), but after opening and trying the BBQ Beef, I am really reticent to try the chicken ones, even though they were kind of expensive. Yes, the Beef skewers were that bad.

Taking them out of the package, they are like most other fake meat products. That is to say, somewhat unappetizing. Despite that, I soldiered on. Firstly, I'll admit that I cooked them in an oven, not in a pan. All I can say is gross gross gross and we will leave it at this:

Tempeh-tations: BBQ (1 out of 5). Chicken Good Stuff: fuck that I won't even eat it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blog Hero Worship: Vegan Yum Yum

Lolo over at Vegan Yum Yum must be stopped.  She is too good.  Aside from the *really* informative and still kinda daunting post on Food Photography for Bloggers, the recipes she posts all are easy to understand and way too easy to covet.

So, I didn't mention it here, but I decided to give up wheat for Lent, which meant my Road's End lazy-person's chreese sauce was not allowed anymore.  I often like to look at food blogs at work (I'm a food porn whore!) and then get it into my head that I should go home and make these things.  Well, I did it.  I put my food processor in high gear.  Unfortunately, this was during the period where my camera magically disappeared, so there are no photographs.

But, let me share with you some of my wisdom from the experiences.  I am still tweaking her recipes, and I'm going to link you over to Lolo until that time.

I actually chose to make the 2nd version first because, well, we all know that healthy spells better for me.  I used some pretty rad rice fusilli procured at Whole Foods, and then set to work.  I have to admit that while I thought the recipe to be tasty, it was...a little off for me somehow.  Then I tried the original recipe.  Dyou know what I realized?  They taste practically the same.  The nooch is very strong and (yes, we all like nooch) but I was just blindly following Lolo's recipes, which is silly.  My palate and hers aren't quite the same.  My mom used fat free american cheese and skim milk to make mac and cheese.  I also remembered that Road's End mentioned that garlicky flavor adds a little bit of zip.

So here are my tips for making Lolo's easy mac:
1 - Taste your sauce, but make sure to wait about 30 seconds after you add something new so that it has a chance to dispel.
2 - Taste it before you bake, but DEFINITELY bake.  Holy crap, the difference between baked and not baked is not even fair.
3 - Double or even triple the amount of veggies.  You will so not regret this.

Here are my tweaks to recipe 2 (I found that since they tasted so similarly, it wasn't worth it to make version 1 again....version 1 is a bit fattier and more rich, though):
  • 1-2 tsp of garlic powder (not fresh, yes, I know that's blasphemy!) help bring out a little more of the "cheddary" flavor
  • cut the mustard in half.  at least.  mustard is gross.  I also think that nooch tastes a lot like mustard (and there is a lot of nooch in here) so I don't think it's a huge loss
  • definitely make sure you use lemon juice.  fresh.  if you use 
  • sub the carrots for parsnips. (a little more "aged" flavor I think)
  • a dash of onion powder never hurt anyone!
  • create a "creamy pesto sauce" feel by adding spinach to the sauce while it cooks.  so tasty, so worthwhile.
  • Matzoh meal makes for really sweet bread crumbs.
  • Use herbamere/seasoned salt to add salt.
  • a shake of herbs de provence never hurt anyone either!

So I'll get a little more specific at some point, but I'm trying to keep the comfort food to a minimum during these plentiful spring harvest times.

A couple of weeks ago, she posted a recipe for Daifuku (, or what me and Dork call Mochi. Immediately, I was obsessed.  Dork and I set out to make this blessed Mochi.

I won't lie.  We were really, really bad at this.  Like, abhorrent.  I forgot to cover the batter when we nuked it.  We burned our fingers.  We ate whatver we couldn't fold.  But, we live and we learn.  and I learned, anyway.  They were blue and for a week, so were our fingers.  They looked like little bruised rocks.  See?  What did I learn?  
  • Unless you have very nimble little fingers, don't try to cut your dough into more than 9 pieces.  It will just lead to sticky, sticky heartbreak.
  • The best mochi (and easiest to create) were the ones that revolved around fruit.  The bean paste is good, and interesting, but it is difficult to maneuver without side or back seepage.  The first time, we used frozen mixed berries.  The last tiime, it was strawberry season, so I cut up a pint in prep and had them waiting for my fresh-out-of-the-microwave batter.
  • Pink is a better color for dumplings if you don't want the world wondering what you did last night.  Pink fingers are less noticable than blue ones.
  • Do not EVER try to eat an entire plate of mochi for dinner.  This is a bad call and will make you feel like you need one of those little anime sweat-droplets.

In any case, I am SO amped to try the new, awesome Cinnabon recipe posted, since we all know that I am a cinnamon roll fanatic (see any article relating to any vegan bakery I've ever visited).

Until that time, Blog Hero Worship, Lolo, we salute you!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Smothered Tofu, A la Whole Foods

So, anyone who lives in the Triangle of NC knows that Whole Foods has the market cornered on day-to-day vegetarian eats and shopping.  They also know that all of them have pretty extensive salad and hot bars that people use every day.  But most of all, I think we can agree that the best day is Smothered Tofu day.  

It's mysterious and doesn't adhere to a schedule, but when that mushroomy, gravy-like goodness comes out, it's divine.  It's also divinely expensive.  At 7.99 a pound, you might find yourself backing off of the cheaply made but delicious gravy in deference to the main star-- fried tofu.

No more!  I've cracked the code, or gotten close at least.

So this week's featured meal: Smothered Tofu with Steamed Broccoli.

you will be amazed at how easy this dish is.  It takes less than 20 minutes start to finish at its simplest, and even in more complex iterations, won't take you more than an hour (not including 24-hour advance forethought!)

You need:
1 block Firm Tofu - Pressed (If you are looking for a texture a little bit like stewed lamb, try freezing your tofu in cubes overnight)
4-8 oz mushrooms (how much do you like mushrooms?)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 yellow onion
1/4-1/3 C soy sauce
2-4 Tbsp Brown Rice flour

First things first-- Heat your olive oil in a generous sized pan over medium heat while you chop your onion.  I've discovered that a rough cut actually makse a more texturally pleasing meal, but experiment on your own.  Once you get the onions in, cover the pan and let them cook/start to carmelize while you get your mushrooms prepped.  The onions can sit there for probably4-6 minutes.  Keep an eye on them though!

You can toss the mushrooms in whenever, but my best successes have been tossing them in just before the tofu.  If you want to get *really* fancy, you can pan fry your tofu a little before you add it in.  If you're lazy and hungry like me, just pop it in by itself.  

You'll have to watch once you've added everything because your pan will be pretty full until those mushrooms cook down.  You can add more oil, but I usually just toss in some water to encourage the mushrooms and tofu to cook quicker and absorb some of the sweetness from the onions.  Once your mushrooms are well cooked, add in some soy 
sauce, stir well, then stir in 2 tbsp brown rice flour.  Yes, I know that making a roux like this is a terrible faux pas.  I don't care.  It works just fine.  Add water if you need more liquid (always better to have too much than not enough!).  Once it takes on a gelatinous, chinese-brown sauce type consistency, remove from heat, frame with fresh (or frozen, I don't hate!) steamed veggies and SERVE.  Yay.  The gravy from the mushroom sauce also tastes delicious with pretty much anything that comes out of the ground.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Outrageous. And not in the good way.

I'm still working on those other posts, but yesterday, while watching Top Chef, I noticed something I could not ignore.  

Belinda Carlisle is the new face of Nutrisystem.  Yes, that company that sends you completely processed, pre-packaged food and claims that you'll "re-learn" how to eat.  I'll give you a hint, as someone who has dropped 25 pounds, one of the things to avoid is prepackaged food.

What really upset me about the ad though, was not that BC, my new wave hero, got behind a product I am so vehemently against.  No, it's the copy that she reads:

Being a part of an all-girl band was a blast but being singled out as the plump one really bugged me, but, as I got older, and maybe a little wiser I started to get smarter by eating healthier and taking care of myself. At 50, I look better than I did at 30… I’ve kept my weight off for almost a year and it’s such a relief to wake up, go into my closet and wear anything I like. NutriSystem taught me how to eat again.

I can say that BC was many things in the Go-Gos, but I don't think "plump" is ever a word that came to mind.  BC was beautiful, energetic and was chosen as the face of the band (I think the world's obsession with Pete Wentz has proven that the lead singer is not the de facto!).  Beyond that, even though she was the "fat" girl in the band, she went on to the best-known solo career of any of her contemporaries.  

I don't blame BC for this decision entirely.  Someone is obviously presenting her with the wrong opportunities (see Rock the Cradle).  Although, I don't know if, looking back at my career, I'd want to say, "Man, it was fun being in a girl band, but not as the fat girl!"  Whatever.  You were in the FIRST all-girl band to write a hit song.  And you did it while you had maybe a sliver of a beer gut.  That makes it even more incredible.

So, with that in mind, I'm gonna give you guys a cookie recipe.  These things GO.  I had a craving for something sweet the other night and whipped these bad boys up.  I brought the leftovers (after the roommates got to 'em) to work and they disappeared.  I doubled the recipe last night and brought half of them to a party and lo and behold, gone again.

Chocolate Chippies! 
(adapted in part from Nestle Tollhouse, in part VWAV, in part Nana Watson)

1/2 c Margarine
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 T syrup (corn syrup's fine, or maple, molasses...whatever you want)
2-3 T water
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp agar agar powder 
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 C chocolate chips (or peanut butter or butterscotch, whatever you want!)
1/4-1/2 C Almonds, whirred through food processor until about the size of rice

Preheat oven to 350. Set margarine out (or microwave 8 seconds), then cream with sugar.  Add vanilla extract, almond extract and syrup and mix until blended.   I'd tell you to sift the flour but it doesn't much matter, just make sure you mix the soda, nutmeg and agar agar into it a bit before you dump it into the bowl.  Start mixing, and add your water as needed.  We all know the consistency cookies should be, but in case you forgot, the dough should be stiff but congealed.  If it's not sticking together, add water.  If it's too runny, add a little flour and a little sugar (about 2:1).  Drop the cookies in tablespoon sized balls onto a sheet.  Hannah over at Bittersweet Vegan reccomends only using one sheet at a time.  This does yield slightly better results, but this recipe will make 2-3 dozen cookies, so I'd rather have em all in there at once.  I've tried both.  If you want your cookies cooked more evenly, go with one at a time.  If you don't care and you just want cookies, stick 'em in there.

For chewy, soft centered cookies, bake 8 minutes.  For more traditional crunchy cookies, bake appx 11-12 minutes, or until an even golden brown color.  If you're baking more than one sheet, add a minute or two to the cook time and use your oven light and judgment to make the call.

Pictures coming soon!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Root Veggies, Here We Come!

So I love this season for several reasons!  Besides the fact that we're hitting the hump time in the cold weather (soup soup soup!) and that you can get some seriously good, seasonal Brassica oleracea (my beloved brussels and cauliflower!), pears are coming into season, citrus and grapefruit in particular and lest we forget-- ROOT VEGGIES!

My CSA delivered me a nice set of turnips and I'm going to tell you a little cautionary tale.  I took my turnips and thought, "Well, I'd like to do something different besides just mashing them." I went onto and found Mario Batali's recipe for Roasted Turnips.  Don't ever use it.  I wasted two pounds of perfectly good turnips on this acrid nonsense.  The paprika burns, the acid in the vinegar completely overpowers the palate and the poppy seeds get too crisp.  Just make a mash or a garlicky pan roast, like usual.

Now, the other recipe I am going to tell you about is a bit of a rip off of something I've had at 
Blossom NYC, but it is really delicious and nutritious, so I think you'll enjoy it!

The recipe in question is Celery Root puree.  It's not really so much a recipe as a super easy, super awesome mashed potato substitute with about 1/3 the calories and twice the flavor!

Celery root is gross looking, should be a little bigger than a softball and hard, but somewhat fragrant.  

Celery Root Mash

1 celery root
1 T margarine
1 tsp minced garlic
2 sprigs fresh dill
pinch white pepper
salt to taste
Soymilk to preference

Cut away all the outside gunk (you'll need to use a paring knife, your peeler won't do the job) and then cut your celery root up into about 1/2 inch thick pieces, as though you were making potatoes.  Set the root to boil for about 15 minutes, or until it slides off a fork when stabbed.  pour off the water, and in the same one, saute your garlic in margarine.  Olive oil is fine too, but that "buttery" flavor really sells the whole mashed vegetable thing.  Pull out your hand mixer, dump the root back in along with your spices (save salt and soy milk) and blend baby blend!  Once it has started reaching the consistency you crave, you should start adding soymilk to make it smoother and salt to make it tastier.  Celery root has a slightly root vegetable-y taste, but mostly tastes mildly of celery.

As pictured here, I made a bed of celery root puree, steamed some cauliflower and brussels sprouts, then popped a Holzfaller Cowgirl steak (baked) on top, and enjoyed.  It was a very satisfying meal.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I am working on my full-on report of the NY trip (which is basically a lovesong to Vegan Treats) but I was asked recently by a reader: So not all beers are vegan?  Huh?

Some brewers (not many anymore) use isinglass, finings or other animal products in the production of their beverages.  Vegan vanguard is always my first choice because she's non-judgy:

Also, I believe in supporting your local brewers.  I asked Rick at Triangle Brewing Company if his beers contained isinglass and he replied "Heck no!  We make vegan beer!"  That makes me want to buy his beer EVEN more, which helps his business and my community.  Even if your local brewer does use animal products, just asking whether or not the beer is vegan will get a businessperson thinking.  Before you know it, there might be a special vegan offering all because of you!