noms to write home about

January 20, 2010 at 3:05 pm (cooking, vegan living) (, , , )

I haven’t posted about food-related stuff for a while, so let’s get down to it. First, I want to give a shout-out (the “big ups corner” spot for the week) to Divvies, a company I just discovered because they had a big basket of their cookies at Whole Foods. They are completely awesome! I tried the choco-chip cookies, but I’mma try others next time I go back, to be sure. I really like their slogan: “made to share!” Friendly, and much appreciated I’m sure by anyone in an office or at a party who’s vegan or has egg, dairy, or peanut allergies. They make cookies, candy (chocolates, jawbreakers, and gummy stars, to name a few), and cupcakes. Check ’em out!

As for me, I haven’t been cooking as much variety as of late– mostly I just do rice and tofu and veggies for dinner these days– but I did make a kick-ass pizza the other night, with the cashew goat cheese I made during VeganMoFo, thinly sliced pears, black pepper, and some seitan browned with some shallots, and that was fucking delicious. That said, I actually bothered to document a food experiment last night (!) that eclipsed pretty much anything I’ve made of late. I got the base recipe here, after doing an internet search for seitan satay, but I modified it and used a different methodology, which I’ve outlined below:

Seitan Satay

1 large shallot or two small, peeled and cut into chunks

4 garlic cloves, ends cut off, maybe halved if you care to

2 tsp canola oil

Equivalent of 4 tsp ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

4 Tbs tamari

The juice of two limes

2 Tbs toasted sesame oil

4 Tbs agave nectar

2 Tbs siracha or other asian chili sauce (I use the kind with the rooster on it)

24 oz seitan, cut or torn into chunks (I used 2 boxes of the WestSoy kind from the supermarket)

Preheat oven to 45o degrees F. Take all ingredients except for seitan and throw into a blender, blend until smoothish. Put your seitan in a 9×13 baking dish (lasagna-style) in a single layer, then pour the slurm over everything. It will look like this:

At this point, let the seitan marinate for about 30-45 minutes as you make your rice (I used jasmine), and then bake it for about 15 minutes in the marinade– what I mean is just throw the whole thing in the oven and let it go. While it’s baking, make your vegetable. I made some green beans sauteed with minced garlic (about a teaspoon), 3 cloves of pressed garlic, toasted sesame oil, and salt and pepper:

Pull out the seitan, it should be bubbly and the exposed parts of the seitan should be browned and luscious. I plated everything together, rice, seitan on top, green beans off to the side, and for extra deliciousness I put some cilantro leaves on top, and I also added two condiments: a lime wedge for squeezing, and some peanut sauce out of a jar for adding a touch of peanutty sweetness. OMG.

I really can’t say enough about how utterly delicious this was– I struck gold with the original recipe (the marinade is delicious on its own) and the saucy-method pleased my curry-loving self. So today, wanting a redux of those flavors, I used my brand new To-Go Ware lunchbox and packed myself a feast. Layer one, rice and seitan:

Layer two, green beans. I used the dressing cup to hold my cilantro:

Ready go go:

And speaking of, it’s lunchtime! Posting all this has made me hungry.

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things that make no sense

December 13, 2009 at 5:35 pm (thinking, vegan living) (, , , )

Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money. Can we just begin with that as a given?

Here’s a news-item simply fascinating in its utter stupidity: PeTA– you know, the organization whose acronym means People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals– well, it turns out that PeTA just spent about ten thousand dollars of its donators’ money to aid in the killing of 1800 lobsters.

When I heard about this, my reaction was “Excuse me?” My second reaction was “Jesus Christ, I’m glad I never donated to them.” My third reaction, fueled by having to go through the task of return-addressing my own Christmas cards this year (the humanity!) was “Man, I miss those address labels they used to send me for free.” I used to cut the PeTA logo off of them, though.

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crazy updates like woah: world fantasy and san francisco

November 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm (this and that, vegan living, writing) (, )

I’m back from World Fantasy, looking and feeling haggard, exhausted, and ready to eat meals not at restaurants for a while, but overwhelmingly happy about the experience as a whole. I met many, many lovely people, made a few new friends, interviewed Garth Nix (who is every bit the gentleman I’d been led to believe he is), hung out, got maybe a little tipsy my last night there, and came home with a bag full of books from the con and from Borderlands in San Francisco, thanks to the awesome efforts of Jeremy Lassen who was so patient with me and knowledgeable and recommended more things than I could fit into my suitcase. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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tasty, tasty harmony

October 26, 2009 at 10:38 am (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17I have less than no time for VeganMoFo these days (my parents just left 20 minutes ago, less than 1 week until I interview Garth Nix, Thursday I leave for WFC) but here are some pics from Tasty Harmony, a lovely restaurant in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Tasty Harmony is not all vegan but it is very very vegan friendly (including all their desserts). John, me, Raech, and Jesse met our friends Becca and Shawn up there. Not all the pictures came out, but here are the highlights.

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busybusy, and also, stress-free bibimbap

October 14, 2009 at 12:28 pm (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17Not that it matters to VeganMoFo but I am super-busy and starting to feel a little stressed out. I’m preparing for a parental visit next week as well as World Fantasy Con, while slush reading for Fantasy Magazine, blogging every day, prepping myself for a still-in-the-works secret project, and trying to keep up my recent gangbusters pace on my novel (that part not so good this week, but that’s how it goes). Yeesh. Not that I’m complaining– this is the kind of work I love– but yeesh. So I guess what I’m saying is that today’s entry will be pretty bare bones, but there’s some recipe love in there.

I made myself hungry yesterday posting about Raechel’s bibimbap and so decided to make some for myself last night. Not wanting to be cooking for hours I decided to a “quick” bibimbap, rice with bap sauce and only three sides. I wanted the kitchen to be relatively un-crazy and I get really upset when I have more than a couple of pans going at once (Raech somehow doesn’t, but I am a very “focus on one thing at a time” kind of girl) so I settled on baked tofu, ginger/garlic/shallot bok choy (recipe follows), and modified Korean cucumber/daikon salad (recipe also follows). This way I would only have one oven recipe, one stovetop recipe, and one cold bowl-needing recipe. And the bap sauce. That said, even though it seems complicated, my kitchen was relatively un-destroyed and it took about an hour all told. Nice! The rice cooker helped. Here’s a general tutorial for my Stress-Free Bibimbap For Two:

Set your rice cooker to cook up two or three cups of rice (I used sushi rice and did not regret that decision). Then preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut one block of extra-firm tofu into strips and halve them, then set them in a 9×9 baking dish with 1/4 c. soy sauce and enough peanut oil to coat. Turn them over once while your oven is preheating then stick them in and forget about them. Flip them once, when you think you’re about halfway done with everything, but it’s not a science. They’ll be fine

Make your bap sauce, courtesy Fat Free Vegan.

bap sauce

I used less sweetener than the recipe called for, instead of a tbs. of sugar I used a tbs. of agave nectar, and added no additional sugar at all. The sauce was pleasantly sweet but I think I’d only do two teaspoons of agave next time. I also thinned it out with several tablespoons of water so it would be more spreadable.

Then make your salad-type dish. I riffed off this recipe.

cuke salad and bap sauce

This was basically similar to the above recipe, but I have a horror of raw onions and so used the following recipe:

Modified Korean Cucumber Salad

2 small daikons, cut into rounds

1 large hothouse cuke, seedless or seeds removed, cut into rounds

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp. peanut oil

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

the juice of one lemon

3 tbs. white vinegar

2 tbs. sesame seeds

Mix everything, cover, throw in fridge until ready to serve.

****

So after that was made, I started on the bok choy. I again riffed off of this ginger-garlic bok choy recipe, but I streamlined it and added shallots. When done, it looked like this:

bok choy

Ginger-Garlic-Shallot Bok Choy

2 golf ball sized shallots, minced

1 tbs fresh ginger, minced

3 cloves garlic, pressed

4 heads baby bok choy

2 tbs. soy sauce (I used tamari)

2 tbs. peanut oil

Fry the shallots in the peanut oil until soft, then add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant. Then add your bok choy stems. I do my bok choy like this: I cut off the weird ends where you pull them off at the bottom, then slice off the leaves with a v-shape, leaving the stems. I chop the stems into half-moons (put the stem down horizontally, slice once vertically– just look at the picture, already! Throw the stems in with the garlic/ginger/shallot mix as well as the soy sauce and saute until the stems are tender. Chop the leaves into big pieces while this happens then add them until they wilt, then cut the heat.

****

That’s it! Everything worked out well, when my rice cooker beeped my tofus were ready to come out as well as my bok, and my salad had chilled long enough that the cukes were vinegary and crisp and lemony. I served up everything with the bap sauce and tucked in. Serious delish!

bibimbap final

Sorry I’m such a wretched food photographer. So blurry! But anyways, I hope tomorrow to post pictures from a local Boulder Thai place that does amazing yellow curry. I’m going there tonight with my beloved husband for a date night that I’m sure will be wonderful as our plans currently are Thai food and then playing World of Warcraft. I’m a lucky girl, yes, yes I am!

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bibimbap

October 13, 2009 at 1:32 pm (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17Bibimbap is a Korean dish that is basically a bowl of warm white rice surrounded by various side dishes, including sauteed veggies and tofu, all served with a specific kind of chili sauce. Raechel makes it (I want to try soon, but I am lazy) and her version is zawesome beyond belief. In particular, the bap sauce is. . . it is soooo good. It is spicy, and usually that makes my mouth cry, but something about the plentiful rice and veggies tames that beast down to the point where I can eat loads of it. Here are some pictures from Raechel’s last bibimbap masterpiece, first up, her baked tofus:

tofus

Veggies! Here, from top left to bottom right, are garlicy red peppers, sauteed winter radishes (daikon mostly), and bok choy. Oh. Yeah.

bok choy

My plate, all arranged. Pickles are often a part of bibimbap so I used some of the leftovers from the ones I made earlier in the month, so the plate line up is, from beside the fork, the bok choy, pickles, daikon saute, bap sauce, tofus, and peppers. In the center, just plane white rice. I think Raech uses sushi rice because the texture is so lovely.

plate arranged

A recipe for vegan bibimbap can be found here at Fat Free Vegan, and a recipe for the bap sauce can be found here, on the Fat Free Vegan blog. I link to this recipe specifically because Fat Free Vegan is an awesome website filled with a ton of healthy, really delicious recipe ideas, the best part being its organization. You can search by diet plan (if you have one) or, how I usually do it, by region of food or by main ingredient. Check out the sidebar for all the ways you can find something simple, tasty, and nutritious to put on your table. I really like this recipe, for Three Layer Mexican Pie. Delicious, and the cheez sauce is really great.

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denver meetup!

October 12, 2009 at 12:45 pm (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17As part of VeganMoFo a couple PPKers in the Colorado area held a pot luck! Yay! The theme was “Fall Foods” so we had a lot of tasty squash and apples.

Hosted by the lovely Becca and her husband Shawn in their condo in Denver, we had a nice turnout. Raech and Jesse, me and John, Becca and Shawn, Abbi and her boyfriend Danny, and Lacy all hung out yesterday and ate too much food. I didn’t get pictures of everything or everyone because I am rotten at taking pictures during events, but I think I captured the general awesomeness. Most notably I didn’t get a picture of my pumpkin pie, which needed. . . recipe tweaking. . . nor did I get a picture of Abbi’s caramel corn (omg so good) or Abbi herself. . . oops. But look! People happy that they are at a potluck (Becca’s going out to get more cider for hot toddies):

peeps

Left to right: Lacy, Shawn, Becca, Raech. On to the food! This was supposed to be the garlic-herb crusted brazil-but cheez ball from Vegetarian Times. . . but something happened. It didn’t come together at all. That’s OK, it got served as a spread and was fine, but it certainly didn’t come out for me the way it did for Kittee. Oh well! It was tasty.

garlic-herb brazil nut cheez

John’s contribution was a tofurkey:

tofurkey

NOM!

So, OK. Raechel made this. . . dessert. It was apples and cream cheez and streusel topping and woahmigod. You can’t tell in this pic so much but when we cut into it it was pink as the devil’s own toenails! Woo! Above that is Becca’s delish butternut squash lasagna. I’ve never had a lasagna like this, it was really good! I used to make a regular lasagna with a butternut layer, but in this, the butternut really popped as the main flavor:

desert and lasagna

Mac and cheez courtesy me. I made it with sage and onions in the sauce (recipe follows), which made it officially a Fall Food and therefore part of the theme. I guess I should warn that my mac-n-cheez pictures always look terrifying, but don’t be scared. It would have been prettier had I put a breadcrumb topping on it and baked it but I ran out of time. As it is it was really really tasty, but BEWARE THE HORROR:

mac

Abbi made phyllo pockets stuffed with delicata squash, rice, and greens, and won for prettiest contribution, at least in my opinion. Raech made a curried potato soup with mint flecks from Vegan Fire and Spice, and it was really really good:

phyllo pockets and soup

Plated up: I shared my soup bowl territory between Lacy’s wonderful chili and Raech’s potato soup. My plate has everything pictured above, including gravy on the tofurkey. It was all so good! I wish I had gotten more pics, but ah well.

plated up

So good. As I said, unfairly, some of the best offerings went unpictured, like Abbi’s caramel corn (like fresh, meltingly-fluffy Cracker Jack) and the hot toddies. Oh gosh, those toddies. I’ve never liked them but I think it was that John always made them with some sort of reputable whiskey and what you really need is cheap stuff. Really. Anything else kills the apple cider flavor instead of complimenting it. I can’t recall what brand Becca and Shawn used but I’ll probably be making these with my beloved Lord Calvert Canadian Whiskey. I’m immensely happy this great secret has been revealed to me because I used to pick up a handler of LC in the summer to drink with lime and ginger ale (before you turn your nose up, try it), and it would sit all winter with nothing to do except acquiring toxins from the plastic bottle. So huzzah! New friends met, new drinks drunk, new foods enjoyed: a successful pot luck all around.

Now here, as promised, my favorite mac n cheez recipe, with added instructions for the best way of making it, which is baked with breadcrumb topping.

Yet Another Vegan Mac Recipe, or Thanksgiving Mac (more charitable title)

8 c. rotini noodles, cooked, drained, tossed with 1/2 c. yellow mustard (yes, yellow, don’t use anything classy here with visible grains or anything, save it for your Tofurkey brats or something)

While the noodles cook, sauté one large yellow onion in a tbs. of olive oil until the onion is soft and clear. Add cracked black pepper to taste as well as 1/4 c chopped fresh sage and sauté one minute. Reserve 1/4 of the onion mixture (if making this with breadcrumb topping, if not, don’t reserve anything), take the rest and dump it into the cheez sauce after blending everything.

What cheez sauce? This cheez sauce. In a blender, combine the following:

8 oz tofu

1 c water

1 c plain, unsweetened soymilk

1/3 c soy sauce

2 tsp. paprkia

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. salt

1/2 c nutritional yeast flakes (or more, if you really like it, which I do)

While blending this, pour in a scant 3/4 cup of olive oil. You could go as low as 1/2 c. After blending, dump in the onion mixture, stir. Pour over hot noodles and mix thoroughly. THIS WILL THICKEN UP. It will look like soup, but wait 10 minutes and it turns into a thick, rich mac sauce. Trust me!

If making baked mac n cheez, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix 1 c breadcrumbs with the reserved onion-sage mixture. Prep a lasagna pan with cooking spray and pour our the sauced noodles into it. You may have more mac than will fit, but who cares? Eat it later after you finish eating the bake. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top and do that thing where you put your (clean) thumb over the top of the olive oil bottle and drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the breadcrumbs. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are brown and tasty-looking. Eat with extreme prejudice.

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holy crap.

October 10, 2009 at 10:37 am (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17Not the most erudite blog post title but really, seriously, I think I found the food I would serve to an important or royal person if he or she were coming over to dinner. I know, I know, it just looks like pizza, but I, uh,  VEGANIZED GOAT CHEESE, PEOPLE. Well, Vegetarian Times did.

Goat cheese and I. . . when I was vegetarian, I loved it. A lot. It was my favorite. I haven’t really missed it since going vegan but when the PPK and other internet folks were raving about this VT recipe, I had to try it. It is so worth it. I got the inspiration for pizza from C’est La Vegan who made a log of it into a tart.

I didn’t want to do the puff pastry thing last night so I got some pre-made pizza dough from Whole Foods and went to work. Instead of doing the whole “drain for 14 hours” I just made the cheeze and kept it like a spread. I kneaded out the pizza dough into a sort of rectangle, set it on my baking sheet, and covered it with torn, fresh basil leaves. Then I spread the cashew cheeze over it. I forgot to take a pic of just the basil so here’s it halfway spread with the cheeze:
half n half

Then I ground some fresh black pepper all over the cheeze. As in the tart linked above I seeded organic tomatoes and arranged them attractively:

fresh tomatoes

I drizzled olive oil over the top and baked it for 16 minutes at 425 and voila. Pizza.

baked and glorious

If you try one recipe from my blog this whole month, let this be it. Seriously. We ate the hell out of this, while this was happening outside:

bikes at night

And I woke up this morning to this.

out the door

So pretty! OK, now I have to go because I made the mistake of reactivating my World of Warcraft account and I need to level my druid. FOR THE HORDE!

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boulder farmers’ market

October 7, 2009 at 9:29 pm (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17I only have a few weeks left of the Boulder Farmers’ Market, so I figured I’d dedicate today’s post to the amazing produce available every Wednesday and Saturday downtown in my fair city. I’m really lucky to live so close to such a great market, I’ve been munching out on tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, shallots, bok choy, the list goes on. I’ve tried to make the most of the market while I’ve had it: my freezer is full of red lentil pasta sauce with fresh veggies, two loaves of zucchini bread, and a few tubs of pesto for when basil becomes disgustingly expensive in the supermarkets.

Today here’s what I got to see. First up, the market itself. Hope none of you are in the witness protection program. . .

market

It’s fall! Did you know? How can you tell? Oh right, squashes!

punkin

If I were to nominate a vegetable for “Prettiest Veggie that I Can’t Stand” it would be radishes:

radish

Beets!

can't be beet

This stand still had more summery stuff: peppers, fairy-tale eggplant, fingerling potatoes, summer squash:

eggplant

Gosh! I will miss the market when it’s gone, but good times I have had there yes indeed. This post doesn’t include the glorious plum jam I’ve been buying too much of for weeks, nor the bread, nor the popcorn, and yet look at the amazing variety of delicious produce! I love being able to have such variety in my diet, and I’m very curious to see just what the market will have to offer me this spring, when it re-opens.

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back to basics

October 6, 2009 at 11:11 am (vegan living) ()

3930562108_f07c8dec17Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed by the problem of “what to make for dinner” I take a moment to stop, breathe, and reconsider my approach to cooking. Instead of looking up some complicated recipe and buying ingredients to make it, instead I look into my fridge and see what’s up, and let the ingredients guide me. Last night I saw that I had green beans from the farmer’s market, a mix of organic potatoes (French fingerling, baby reds, and purple), and some Gimmie Lean sausage. OK– breakfast-for-dinner time. Why go out to buy a bunch of stuff when I can just make the veggies the spotlight through roasting?

My friend Brad has a theory about breakfast foods: they’re good in the morning, unacceptable at lunch time, really good for dinner, and best during the hours of midnight to 3:00 AM. I happen to agree. I think my favorite breakfasts have been had at dinner-time or later, and last night’s meal was no exception.

The lineup:

the greenest of beans

The pretty-pretties:

whats taters precious

I let the potatoes roast at 425 for about 20 minutes with their coating of olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and then stirred them. I added the green beans to the same pan and roasted for another 15 minutes, during which time I put on the snausage patties. The smell of them caused some interest in the household community:

dinner smells good

Everything assembled:

dinner done

Serious nom-noms.

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