Saturday, October 31, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: Favorite Vegans Tribute V

Well, in two hours, Vegan MoFo 2009 officially draws to a close. It's been a fun furry of food-making. I felt oddly guilty when, occasionally, I wasn't able to get a post up like I was supposed to. Being forced to make more food than usual meant that coworkers and friends got a lot of free vegan food during the month. Okay, I wasn't really forced. I enjoyed playing with new ingredients and recipes. I also LOVED reading others' posts, and look forward to continuing to do so. A great thing about MoFo was that I was exposed to some great new blogs. The downside, of course, is that I'll now be spending even more time on the computer.

My last MoFo post:

A and J are two more awesome animal lovers that I met in Gainesville. This dynamic duo went vegan together and do many great things for animals. There were AR meetings, potlucks, volunteer events, VegFest, and other events. My fondest memory of J is volunteering at Rooterville Pig Sanctuary in Alachua, FL together. I really miss that place and the great people behind it! J even interned for Rooterville.A is super awesome as well. This past February I got the chance to hang out with her and T-Cat for a weekend in D.C. We had a lot of fun and the experience made me wish even more that we had spent more time together when we both lived in Gainesville.In honor of the awesome vegan that is J, I decided to make "Pigs Are Safe in the Barn," a simple vegweb favorite. I even decorated the plate with ketchup and mustard designs, including a barn, and sauerkraut hay. (I have to admit that DocDufresne actually made the little piggies!) We also had a simple steamed yam/beet/turnip dish with garlic/lemon sauce (not pictured).In honor of A, I decided to make cinnamon rolls, as I can barely think of cinnamon rolls without thinking of our multiple trips to Sticky Fingers in February. These were from Vegan Brunch. I brought them to the Cares4Pets adoption event today, where we had hoped someone would fall in love with Henry. It remains to be determined if this actually happened. Fingers crossed. The cinnamon rolls were enjoyed. (Even though I didn't let them rise either of the times they were suppsed to rise!- Hey, I was in a rush!)
Can't wait to see you next month, A and J!

Friday, October 30, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: Favorite Vegans Tribute IV

The Vegan Tribute week continues. Tonight's featured vegan is DocDufresne. DocDufresne is a lover of simplicity. He is also on a nutrition kick. Sorry, I have just been informed that it is not a "kick", it's a "lifestyle." Another thing that DocDufresne loves is the beet, which he had for the first time when he came to visit me...for the first Florida three years ago. In honor of DocDufresne, I've put together a healthy, delicious, and simple meal, with the lovey-dovey element of hearts (that could also be festive for Halloween...) thrown in.

Steamed Heart-Shaped Turnips and Beets in a lemon garlic sauce, Atop Millet
Lentil Soup with Kale, Carrots, Potatoes, Onion, and Tomatoes (and other stuff)
Oolong Tea (DocDufresne's favorite), served in the cups and tea pot I purchased on Etsy as an anniversary gift for Doc.I love that the cooler weather is here and we can now have tea ALL the time!!

VEGANMOFO 2009: Dinner at Bacio

Last night DocDufresne and I attended a Meetup dinner at Bacio Italian Restaurante in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. We thought the occasion provided a worthy break from the Vegan Tribute week. The photos below are most of what was ordered by the five people that attended. We ordered a lot, but not that much!

Eggplant RolatiniThis looked so good. I'll have to try it next time!

Pasta e FagioliI order this every time. It's simple and delicious.

Caprese salad (with marinated tofu instead of mozzarella)This was very tasty. As I remember, mozzarella doesn't have that much flavor. The marinated tofu definitely worked as a replacement. This is a dish I've been meaning to make myself, so I'm even more motivated to do so now.

Beet saladThis is another one that we haven't ordered before, despite our love of beets. I think we've opted not to order this because we eat beets so much and figured it was pretty similar to what we make at home. I'm having second thoughts. This looked good.

LasagnaJay made the lasagna special for our group. It was de-lish! I'm so glad we got a chance to try it. Thanks, Jay!

"Meat" balls
These "meat" balls were another special item offered for the night. They were really yummy, filled with red pepper and other veggies. They were a bit soft, but I don't know that this was a bad thing.

RavioliYum! The ravioli changes each time. Tonight it was quite large and filled with a cheesy mixture.

CanoliThese expensive little bugges ($3 each) are quite delicious too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: Favorite Vegans Tribute III

Ladybeth is the victim of my third Vegan Tribute this week. It's also her birthday tomorrow! Happy birthday, Ladybeth!

Since I began my adventure into veganism, Ladybeth has served as more than a good friend. Having made the decision to become vegan before she was even a teenager, Ladybeth has been a mentor to many individuals like me. I've been known to call her while out shopping to ask about an obscure ingredient in some cosmetic or article of clothing. Ever helpful and never condescending, Ladybeth is an approachable animal rights activist that has led to great change in the movement. Enough about that!

Ladybeth is also so much fun to hang out with, and in school, Ladybeth, Shivels, T-Cat, and I were great friends! I'm still awestruck that we were able to meet in Gainesville and have so much in common. The four of us now live in different parts of the country, but we see each other here and there and will get to share VEGAN THANKSGIVING next month- I know, I know, I've already mentioned that A LOT!

I heart Ladybeth's taste buds. When we go out to eat, the two of us usually are deciding between the same two dishes and each end up getting one of each to share (as long as the dish doesn't have tomatoes or arugula for her!) When it comes to cooking, Ladybeth is a pro. No recipes needed for her. The first dish I'm serving up today in honor of Ladybeth is one that she created for a dinner that she hosted just before she graduated. This is a massaged kale salad with avocado, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and pomegranate jewels.Secondly I've created a tempeh Reuben sandwich, a menu pick that you can bet she'll order when she sees it. I opted for the mustard version of this sandwich, but also added a light slathering of Vegenaise in addition to the sauerkraut and fresh red cabbage. I took a cue from Isa's recipe for the sausage puffs in Vegan Brunch and marinated the tempeh and then baked it. I made it very peppery and it was almost reminiscent of pastrami. Very good.

Until tomorrow, adieu, Ladybeth!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: Favorite Vegans Tribute II

It's Day Two of my Favorite Vegans Tribute. Today's featured vegan is my good friend, Shivels (although she detests that name). Shivels and I became fast friends after I joined the animal activist group on our school's campus. She means so much to me. I'll never forget the determination she exhibited by voting multiple times daily for a contest that DocDufresne and I were trying to win to pay for our green wedding. Speaking of our wedding, Shivels was our AMAZING officiant! We shared many a Krishna lunch, dined together at many a potluck, and traveled together on many a road trip. (Shivels even helped move me up to Philly from Florida!) She's perhaps the most fun of my friends and it's practically impossible not to have a great time in Shivels' company.Sticky Fingers last summer on the way up to Philly from Gainesville. T-Cat is poking her face into the photo as well!

Shivels played a part in my transformation into becoming a vegan. I remember the day well, although I need tomorrow's featured vegan to remember the date of my veganiversary! A little over three years ago, Shivels and I, along with a few other people, ate at Garden Cafe in Orlando. This dish reminds me of that day and other **very memorable** meals we shared at Chopstix in Gainesville. Here's my attempt at General Tso's tofu with broccoli and shiitake mushrooms.When I was brainstorming ideas for Shivels' tribute, I kept thinking of sweets. Strawberry shortcake cupcakes (turned cake) made for my 21st birthday, chocolate chip cookies (Shivels' equivalent of my grilled cheese- her irrisistable favorite), and fudge. I went with the latter and used the Melt in Your Mouth Fudge from Sinfully Vegan. I love this book. All the recipes I've made from it have been great, and the fudge was no exception. I topped the fudge with pecan halves. I think I did you proud, Shivels.Along with T-Cat (and a few others to be featured this week), I get to see Shivels next month for our VEGAN THANKSGIVING IN SEATTLE! Can you tell I'm excited?On our way to Asheville, NC.

Monday, October 26, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: Favorite Vegans Tribute I

This week, the last week of Vegan MoFo 2009, In My Vegan Life will feature a tribute to my favorite vegans. Each day I am going to showcase dishes that remind me of a particular person and I'll also talk about what the person means to me in my vegan life.

Today I'm starting with my best friend, T-Cat. For those who know her, T-Cat offers a ray of sunshine even on the gloomiest of days. Her friendship has meant so much to me from time spent together at potlucks in Gainesville to preparing for DocDufresne's and my wedding. T-Cat has been so supportive through rough patches I've had here and there, and has been an incredible joy to be around. There are certain people in our lives that you know will be friends for a lifetime. T-Cat is one of those people for me and I'm lucky to have her!

T-Cat and I share a love of peppery food. The first dish is Creamy Tomato Soup from Veganomicon. I first had it when T-Cat made it and handed out batches to a few lucky friends. It was extra peppery and extra delicious.

I like mine chunky and unblended. Plus it's easier that way!Secondly, T-Cat has an affinity toward raw items, including salads. When we're on trips together I refuse to spend my limited meals on salads (or anything I feel like I can make easily at home), but T-Cat doesn't share this preference. In fact, this sald reminds me of one she got when we ate at Watercourse in Denver. I do like salads from time to time, especially when made at home. This salad is a tribute to T-Cat!

The ingredients include baby green mix, red cabbage, shredded carrots, apple bits, orange segments, and walnuts. I tossed it with an orange-poppy seed vinaigrette.Lastly, I've wanted to make Green Tea Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for a while. Just because they're quite lovely. As I was flipping through the cupcake book I found the pretty little photo again and was instantly reminded of T-Cat. I showed the photo to DocDufresne and asked him whom it reminded him of. He said T-Cat right away.

My cupcakes didn't come out quite as beautiful as Isa's, but I'm pretty happy with the results, although the (expensive!) matcha didn't add much except the beautiful color.Love you, T-Cat! Can't wait to see you next month!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: Guestblogging by DocDufresne Again

This is DocDufresne back for more action. Amanda just picked the wrong month for Vegan MOFO. Yesterday I got a call from her at 6:30 PM saying that she was still out in the field and couldn't make dinner. She suggested ordering out, but I said "Hey, DocDufresne doesn't back away from VeganMOFO." I stepped up to the plate, ready to make the Curried Bulgur Wheat Casserole with Garbanzo Beans from The Complete Vegan Cookbook by Susann Geiskopf-Hadler and Mindy Toomay. One problem, Whole Foods was out of bulgur wheat on Sunday. I substituted couscous, which is definitely not the same. After I mixed all the cooked ingredients I realized I had way too much couscous, but fortunately I had enough other stuff to put in, essentially doubling the recipe.

I also made some acorn squash with brown sugar and Earth Balance, which was baked at 300 F for ~1 hour. I'm not exactly sure the best temperature/time combo to cook acorn squash, so any suggestions are appreciated.

The final result:

Ugly photo for sure, but we were starving. A pretty good tasting meal, though.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: Guestblogging by DocDufresne

Hey there, IMVL readers. Amanda was extremely busy today so I was in charge of dinner. Just to warn you I don't have the eloquence of Amanda. And I should point out that I was assigned to make these particular meals. If it were up to me, we'd have beets and sweat potatoes four nights a week.

Ok, up first is Philly Potato Chowder from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. I halved the recipe because of the whole "cook a new recipe each day this week" thing. We haven't made that many of the recipes from the book, so I can't make a judgement of the book as a whole, but this was a pretty damn good tasting meal and pretty easy to make. Good call Amanda.

Self rating: 8/10 for taste, 2/10 for photographic quality

I also attempted to make the Oktoberfest Kraut and Beans recipe from Vegan Menu for People with Diabetes put out by the Vegetarian Resource Group. We haven't made anything from this book yet so I was looking forward to trying it out, particularly because I love Sauerkraut and beans. The recipe seemed easy enough with only five ingredients, one of them being water. There was a problem, however. I couldn't find anything labeled caraway seeds in our pantry and I have no idea what carraway seeds are. Amanda pointed to an unlabeled bottle with some kind of seed in it and said that those seeds might be caraway. Whatever I put this recipe made my mouth numb. Still, I have to believe I've made worse things before.

Self rating: 2/10 for taste, 4/10 for photographic quality

Henry UPDATE: We raised $400 for Henry. Also, there are a few families that have expressed interest in fostering him. I'm not sure that any of them work out because they either have other dogs or children, but I'm optimistic that we'll find someone soon for Henry.

This is DocDufresne signing off.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: Cookbook Suggestions Needed!

Vegan MoFo Fail: I had hoped that I would get the chance to do my thing today and try out a couple new recipes. Unfortunately, I had to work late, work on some grant stuff, and clean up after the doggy doodles. I apologize for not keeping up on this today! I'll be better tomorrow (although, it won't be an any less hectic day!), and I'll post on Saturday to make up for it! :)

Today I thought I'd pose a question. You've seen my array of vegan cookbooks. I want to know which one (or two, or three) I should add to my collection. Good and plentiful photos are a MUST!
So...What's your favorite vegan cookbook?

Monday, October 19, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: My Own Cookbook Challenge

Announcement #1: This week I'll be doing something that I do far too infrequently- using new recipes from my cookbooks. I tend to do two things, A. The tried and true approach- when I find a recipe I like, I continue to make it; B. I like to collect vegan cookbooks and sometimes it takes me a looong time to try out a good number of recipes.

This week I will make an attempt at getting better about this. I have ten vegan cookbooks (plus a couple of zines) and plan on trying a new recipe from each this week, which equals about two a day. I'll review both the chosen recipe and the cookbook. Here are the ten cookbooks in the order found above:

1. Veganomicon
2. The Joy of Vegan Baking
3. The Complete Vegan Cookbook
4. The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook
5. Sinfully Vegan
6. Vegan Brunch
7. Vegan With a Vengeance
8. Vegan Menu for People with Diabetes
9. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
10. Rabbit Food Cookbook

Announcement #2: DocDufresne and I have a very new house guest. We were driving home from Target on Saturday evening and trotting alongside a busy road in the cold rain was a severely emaciated pup. We took him home, cleaned him up, fed him, got him checked out by the vets of Care4Pets, and are fostering him for now. We're looking for a more "permanent" foster home, or even better- a forever family. He needs a stress-free place to recuperate. We cat tested him today and he did very well. We don't know how he is around other dogs. Anyway, I'm not going to post the crazy scary pictures of him since I don't want to rain on MoFo's parade, so here's one where you can't tell quite how skin-and-bones he is. He's uber sweet and we've named him Henry. For more information (or to have your heart broken by his skinnyness) visit Henry's Petfinder page and if you're inspired, as the kind readers of Balloon Juice were, feel free to donate *any amount* toward his veterinary care, which will be provided by the benevolent souls of Cares4Pets- any support is sooo appreciated and goes a LONG way! <3

Now on to the recipes!

Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Joy of Vegan BakingThe recipe: I actually didn't really care for the cookies when they were fresh from the oven, but after they cooled for a bit, they were yummy! These chocolate chip cookies don't flatten all that well on their own, so you might want to pre-flatten them if you're using this recipe. I added walnuts and used my favorite chocolate chips- the "vegan" semi-sweet 365 brand. They're good enough to bring into work tomorrow and label them "vegan."

The book: The best thing about The Joy of Vegan Baking is the fabulous photos. I have vowed never to buy another cookbook that lacks a good number of photos. The recipes that I've tried have been good, but truth be told, this is one of those that I categorize under, "collecting dust on the bookshelf." I really should take it out more often!

Lentil Soup from Rabbit Food Cookbook
Purchased from Herbivore when DocDufresne and I were there for our Agavemoon last year. (I think I actually bought this as a gift for someone and never gave it to them- whoops.)
The recipe: I tweaked the soup slightly as WF didn't have celery (doubled the carrot). I also doubled the curry and chili powders, used tamari instead of braggs, and used marinara sauce instead of fresh tomatoes as I had some that I needed to use. I know the photo doesn't make the soup look very appetizing, but this was really good. It wasn't intensely flavorful, which I definitely look for sometimes. This would be a good soup for those days when you're not feeling 100%.

The book: I LOVE Rabbit Food Cookbook! The illustrations are so cute and unlike many non-traditional cookbooks, it's easy to navigate through. It has handy little tabs for the different types of dishes, an index, etc. I think this was the first time I used it...oh boo on me. I will be using it again, though. Promise!

Friday, October 16, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: Amaranth, Yuca, and White Sweet Potato

Tonight marked the last dinner for the "Week of New." The three new feature ingredients used were amaranth, yuca, and white sweet potato. I know, I know. That last one wasn't really adventurous, especially since it tasted an awful lot like regular old sweet potato. For the record, I'll say I tried 2.5 new ingredients today.

Yuca Con Mojo (with sweet potatoes)
I used this recipe that I found on Recipe Zaar. Very easy. I did substitute a little apple cider vinegar for the lime juice since I didn't have a lime on hand. I also, of course, added sweet potato to the mix (like the double-decker steam action I had going on?), and scaled down the proportions.Here's what the yuca tuber looks like, wax coating and all. This is also where we get tapioca (and tapioca flour/starch) from. Yuca is also known as cassava or manioc.Here it is naked and ready for its bubbly bath.And into the pot it goes. It's boiling in the bottom layer of the double-decker system I've rigged up.Sweet potatoes of both colors go in the top to get steamed.Here's my trusty microplane ready to grate several more cloves of garlic for the mojo sauce. Oh how I love this kitchen tool.Here's the mojo simmering away on the stove.Ta-da! There you have it. Not a very pretty looking dish, but it was tasty.

My initial thought for the amaranth was to use it in some type of casserole. However, I was hungry and I didn't want to ruin dinner by trying something out that didn't work. Besides, this mac and cheese recipe was calling my name after it was featured on the Vegan MoFo International blog. I ended up making this delightful mac and cheese and then made amaranth pudding for dessert.

Mac and Cheese with spinach
Amaranth, which seems to have a similar history to quinoa, is a seed collected from the plentiful fruit of an ancient plant. Among its many great nutritional qualities, amaranth provides a good source of protein, fiber, and minerals.
Coconut Amaranth Pudding
1/2 cup uncooked amaranth
1 can light coconut milk
4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
Cinnamon to sprinkle on top
Fresh fruit (blueberries, banana slices...etc) to top, optional

1. Cook amaranth in coconut milk and sugar on medium-low heat, mixing every so often for about 20 minutes, or until it looks like this:
2. Set aside to cool.
3. Pour pudding into serving dishes and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
5. Sprinkle with cinnamon and top with fruit.
I also made a pot of chamomile tea, with dried chamomile flowers we bought last weekend at a farmer's market. I've never enjoyed chamomile tea so much! I've since added chamomile to my mental garden and plan on making cheerful sun tea from homegrown chamomile and mint. That's when I have an actual garden...

The yuca had a very mild taste and was similar to potato, but not quite as dense. I just enjoyed eating something that looked so brown and icky on the outside. The white sweet potato was disappointingly like regular sweet potatoes. I like sweet potatoes (DocDufresne LOVES them), so this wasn't totally a bad thing. The Yuca Con Mojo as a dish was pretty good. The "bitter orange juice" thing wasn't my favorite. I think I would have liked it more with just the garlic and cumin flavors predominating the dish. DocDufresne loved it.

I liked the amaranth and want to explore my options for other ways to prepare it. It reminded me of a cross between quinoa and chia. It had a nutty flavor, similar to quinoa's, and didn't have the offensive crunch of chia. I can't really enjoy chia because of its crunch- especially in pudding. It turns out I'm not a huge fan of dishes flavored mostly with coconut milk. I don't really like coconut milk ice creams or yogurts. The coconut milk kind of over powered the dish. I was aiming for a rice pudding-type dessert, so it would have been better to do half coconut milk/ half rice milk (or even horchata- that would have been better!). Still, this was a tasty little dessert and I look forward to tweaking it a bit and having it again! I loved the texture and the way it really did become a pudding with no added ingredients to gel it up.

The mac and cheese was great! I'll try it with a breadcrumb topping next time.