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!