Friday, April 20, 2007

the Evolution of Dinner

It all started with this,the yummy Sunshine burger I picked up recently on my weekly trip to the health food store. I love that they're quick, convenient, totally vegan, and full of nothing but good things. Then I thought, hey, so are the patties I make at home and freeze...I reeeally need to do that again soon!

So I thumbed through a few cookbooks for inspiration and settled on TEV's Millet Black Bean Burger, but tinkered with it a bit to suit what I had on hand. I followed the recipe mostly but used two cups of millet, one of leftover brown sushi rice, 1/2 a can of adzuki beans instead of the black and smashed the other half and dumped 'em in as well, 1/2 a med onion, mixed in 1T whole wheat flour to bind rather than coat, used just over a tsp celery seed to replace the celery, added about three shredded organic carrots and then, looking at thisI realized I didn't have time to make patties, only stuff it all in a loaf pan and walk away for 45 min. I enjoyed this with TEV's Miso Gravy and a salad, realizing it didn't need to be put in a sandwich at all. The gravy is great. I never have seasoned rice wine vinegar, only plain, so i upped the agave a tad. This made the gravy a bit sweet rather than savory which complimented this loaf perfectly!

I also doctored it up the following night and served it on a bed of sauteed spinach with tons of garlic and topped it with a roasted portobello mushroom before adding the gravy. this seems to be a serving suggestion for many of my meals...spinach, loaf, 'shroom, gravy, done! and sooo good! while I love this gravy, it's sweetness over a savory tasted left me wanting something different. We needed a different flavor with which to enjoy the remainder of the loaf (not to mention the realization that this gravy's appearance mimics that of, quite frankly...yeah, that made us want something to change things up in a hurry. hehe)

so off i went to the internet to hunt down a recipe I know I'd found and hoped I'd bookmarked for a vegan mushroom fondue. I stumbled on this a while back and have been wanting to try it ever since. All I have to say? WOW! Even before you blend in the mushrooms (using my handy new KitchenAid mixer that Amazon alerted me was only $29.99 recently for a limited time, woohoo!) this fondue is perfect as a dip, a sauce, something to suck down a straw, whatever! adding the mushrooms (i used half baby bellas and half regular, white variety) just adds the perfect earthy, shroomy flare, if you like that kinda thing. and we LOVE it!

So, earlier in the day, I'd baked LDV's Easy French Bread (went all out and used only unbleached white flour, no whole wheat...for shame! ;) and baked up a log of Susan's Pepperoni Seitan as well. I didn't have ketchup so I just used more tomato paste and added about 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (in olive oil) and about a handful of fresh basil and a bit more water to make a s.d. tomato basil variety. This was AMAZING! if not a tad dry, like real pepperoni. Next time I think I'll either play with the water a bit more or try and combine both the Seitan O' Greatness recipe with this one.

We plated the leftover loaf, the Seitanroni, and some garlicky roasted brussel sprouts with a side of french bread.It was more a spooning over your food event, only dipping the bread, but oh my! were our tummies insanely full and our taste buds totally satisfied!
You'd think the evolution of this dinner would stop right there, right?
think again!

with more of this 'shroom fondue/sauce leftover and no straws in the house we had to find even just one more way to enjoy it!...ok, maybe two.

On our next trip to the regular grocery store, we picked up some gnocchi. I'd only had it once before in my life, and the Cap'n had never tried it. I've seen it all over vegan blogs and realized the ingredients were all vegan so in the cart it went.

Once home, I made up some EB spread for some of the french bread by mixing it with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, oregano, and basil. That went in the oven with the leftover brussel sprouts for about ten minutes. Meanwhile I boiled water for the gnocchi and heated up some sliced Setianroni. Once the Seitanroni was hot, I removed it from the heat and covered it, using the same pan to saute the gnocchi once done, then removed that and covered it.

I then took half a can of no salt added tomatoes that I'd had leftover in the 'fridge and sauteed them a bit in that same pan with some tomato paste, onion powder, garlic, basil and oregano. Once nice and hot I dumped it into a large coffee mug and zapped it with the handheld to a sauce. All this time I nuked the 'shroom fondue sauce til it was good 'n hot.

And here ya have it folks, the meal to end all meals at our house. My Italian Great Gramma would be ever so proud! Saucy Gnocchi with 'shroom cheeze sauce and my Easy Tomato Sauce for Two, roasted brussel sprouts and a side of vegan garlic bread.

I cannot even begin to go on and on and on about how great the flavors of this are. I should definitely make up a master recipe for it and post it soon. it's so worth it, but I just love that it came of almost all favorite kind of new meal!

I did say there were two uses of the 'shroom fondue, didn't I? Speaking of recipes...remind me to post one for these puppies later, as well
tofu patties (I know, I know, we've all had those before...but this recipe is my favorite tofu variety I made up, usually I'm a bean and nut kinda patty girl)! I had 'em for breakfast plated on top of some of the 'shroom fondue sauce then topped with some sauteed mushrooms (leftover in the fridge as well) and a bit of sprouts. I love real food for breakfast!
We're off for the weekend, but I hope to come back and update my links and all sorts of things (that I've totally been slacking on for far too long) with my blog upon our return. Hope everyone has a safe and happy one!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Easy as Toast!

I so wanted to title this post 'Easy as Pie'. It was an immediate association when fondly remembering this from the other day's lunch.. Pizza! A perfect food.
But, um....yeah. This was just pizza toast..not pizza pie.So Easy as Toast it is.

I just lightly toasted some organic wheat & oat bread I like to keep stashed in the freezer.
Then topped with a spoonful of Muir Glen's organic tomato sauce,

few slices of the baked seitan o' greatness,
generous helping of FYH's Mozzarella style vegan cheese*,

healthy sprinkling of oregano,

(don't forget to spritz those corners with a little olive oil!)

and into the broiler it goes until the FYH starts to bubble up a bit.

perfect fast food!

* i bought this again on a whim. I'd been craving that kind of melty, salty goodness that my former veg self knew as cheese. While I wouldn't eat cheese now if you paid me, I miss that ooey, gooey, texture and salty taste when enjoying pizza from time to time. Recently, I decided that this stuff just didn't cut it or give me the flavor or texture I wanted and stopped using it. 'm still not entirely sure what prompted my hand to spontaneously transport the little white block from the cooler to my basket, but i was at home the other day grating it on top of this lunch all the same.

This time around? It was amazing! I don't know if I'd just never gotten a fresh product (I honestly think that my local health food store doesn't move the staple items I happen to go there for half as fast as some of their other items) or what, but it was just the right flavor and melted just enough to be almost gooey and not watery in any way.

I may not use the FYH product regularly, but I think it will find it's way back into my cart on occasion as a nice treat!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Repeats Worth Repeating

And, sadly, I believe that post title is a repeat, as well. sigh ;)
VWaV's Revolutionary Spanish Omelet was something I tried my hand at back in November for Thanksgiving. I've been craving it ever since. Using what I had in the house, I scaled it down to half the recipe which made a much thinner version with the same amazing flavor and texture. (I only used one large red potato, skin on, half a med onion, and one box of silken tofu and adjusted the seasonings accordingly).I skipped the almond pesto (which is truly amazing) and just enjoyed the omelet's flavor with some fresh avocado and a side of strawberries. I'm already planning to make this again very soon but larger for more leftovers! what a great breakfast!

We've been enjoying a LOT of mashed cauliflower these days. Hits the spot just like mashed potatoes always did without the guilt! So what goes good with mashed cauliflower with a simple nutritional yeast gravy? Dreena's Stuffed Portabellos from TEV. These are a definite favorite in our house. The flavor is phenomenal and they're so easy to make! I do believe they're my favorite way to stuff a 'shroom these days.

and i love that, since that's cauliflower and not potatoes, I can serve each thing up on a fluffy bed of quinoa for a punch of protein!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Seitan Two Ways and a Devilish Dessert

Oh, vital wheat gluten, how I love thee....for with you I can turn this, La Dolce Vegan's chicken style seitan
into this, crispy orange seitan with broccoli. (told ya I'd make this again soon) This time I tried my favorite seitan preparation, the chicken version, over the beef. I just like the overall flavor of it and honestly? I don't think that chicken version tastes any more like chicken than the beef version tastes like beef. I get that they're really just variations, but this one is a winner with me every time.

And while I'm waiting for my 'chicken style' seitan to boil away, I can bake this seitan (from the ppk forums), as has been all the rage (and rightfully so) amongst my fellow vegan bloggers
and turn it into this
Great stuff! we nibbled on it a bit while dinner was cooking and are looking forward to using it this week for a variety of new, sure to be easy and tasty meals.

As for the devilish dessert, my sweet tooth has been in overdrive lately and no amount of fruit has been able to squelch it (i blame the icky weather). So, with LDV already sitting out on the counter, a quick scan for a specific ingredient led to this quick concoctionWhatever could be inside this puffy pouch of phyllo???? What ingredient was I hoping to use up?The yummiest, if not the prettiest, of fillings....ripe BANANAS!, organic raw crunchy peanut butter, and Sunspire chocolate chips, all baked to ooh-y gooey perfection. I think she calls it a Peanut Butter Banana Strudel. We just called it the easiest slice of heaven ever to come out of our oven in 12 minutes. yum!

VT Recipe, Basket o' Yummy, and Springtime Delivered to Our Door!

This month's Veg. Times has a recipe for a tofu based meatloaf that uses soy crumbles as a main ingredient. I'm not one to use too many fake meat products (I honestly rarely like 'em...much less wanna consume half of the stuff in 'em), but I usually keep some Boca Soy Crumbles in the freezer to add to tomato sauce when I'm in a hurry and need to add some extra protein. Intrigued, I made this...and it was actually VERY good! In fact, I ate this sandwich every day for lunch until it was gone...and happily! Here you see it with some leftover mashed cauliflower but most days I enjoyed it with a big, juicy navel orange.
Funny, I was never one to like eating oranges. I LOVED orange juice but never quite got comfortable with the pulp factor when trying to eat oranges cut into sections. Until, that is, a recent lunch outing with my sister at an Asian restaurant served veeery thinly sliced orange on the side. viola! instant orange-eating love! now i eat one almost every day and can't believe I went so long before figuring that one out.
And here's a beautiful basket, chock full of amazing vegan things from my amazing friends who knew we needed an easy way to nourish ourselves the last few days. there are even treats for the kitties and the dog, a couple vegan Indian entrees, some super yummy sesame bars, vegan dark chocolate bars by Sunspire, green tea, this wonderful calming elixir that truly did wonders for me and, my favorite, Rescue Remedy. we always used this while rehabbing wildlife (I was a wildlife rehabilitator for a few years outside of Orlando. i miss it every. single. day.), and it worked like a charm in getting stressed out critters to calm down. it really works.

Speaking of three of the best years of my life spent rehabbing Florida's displaced, orphaned, and injured wild children....check out this gorgeous array of springtime loveliness sent to my from my friends at Back To Nature Wildlife Refuge.
They're the perfect bit of Spring to cheer me up the last few dreary, rainy days we've had.

Those of you who have been around this blog a while know of my love for that place and my time working there. For those of you not familiar with Central Florida's largest wildlife rehab facility, check 'em out here or at their myspace!

So thank you, to my wonderful and amazing friends who knew just how to say they loved us without saying anything at all. thanks Carrie and Jon! thanks BTN gang! we miss you!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Two Hits and A Near Miss...

I have a couple posts that have just been lying in's one of 'em....

First, the amazing Fronch Toast from VWaV. I'd been wanting to try this forever, tho getting my hands on some garbanzo flour was no small feat!
When I finally did, I used up the last of my no knead bread (a few days old in a sandwich bag made for a less shard-like crust but the bread itself was perfectly stale for the toast making). I love that it's part whole wheat, that I made the bread myself, that the batter is so egg-like it's freaky. Here you see I topped mine with beautiful strawberries, banana, some organic maple syrup and a touch of powdered pretty up the picture. This stuff was incredible and i didn't feel one bit guilty for devouring the WHOLE THING BY MYSELF.

Buying more bananas than I know we'll need then finding a new recipe to use the overripe ones has become a new favorite pastime of mine. Recently, this little search led to Banana Bars from La Dolce Vegan.
I don't know about bars, but this was the best banana cake, I've ever had. I decided to top it with some crushed walnuts on top before baking and covered it in a simple glaze (some melted Smart Balance mixed with powdered sugar, splash of soy milk, and vanilla extract) that hardened a bit as it cooled.The Cap'n thinks this may just be the BEST dessert of all time. I agree, it's definitely up there if you're craving sweet banana goodness...and we were!

One night, the Cap'n and I settled in to watch Lady In the Water (I loved this movie) and we wanted something sweet and totally naughty to snack on in the dark while movie watching. I saw that VWaV's Blondie recipe was something I had all the ingredients for and looked simple enough so that's what I whipped up.
Though, I 'm thinking it's high time I broke down and got an oven thermometer as these babies were in the oven for 25 then 30 then 35 minutes and they never did fully cook through. Their doughy interior was not what I was going for but it didn't deter me from polishing off the whole batch with little help from the Cap'n (he LOVED them but doesn't have near the sweet tooth that I do) in a matter of days!Now you see why I've yet to make good use of my copy of VCTOTW. I know once I start? I may never stop.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thank You...

The outpouring of love and support I have found in this place has been the most amazing response to my decision to share my pregnancy loss here. I am taking time to recover both physically and emotionally and just wanted each and every one of you to know that your words have been such a source of comfort for me this last week.

I will be back to vegan food blogging soon, especially since it provides such a welcome and enjoyable distraction to the current sadness I am feeling. I will also, I'm thinking, find much solace in the sharing of some of what I am going thru as I've found that other's experiences have helped me to start to put my own life in perspective when it gets to be just a bit more than i feel i can handle. I don't want to overtake my own blog with all of this, but I'm not really up for creating a whole 'nother blog for it, either. So, if you'll indulge me...I dedicate this post to this experience. I'd like to share with you the scary, heart-wrenching, beautiful day my husband and I spent the day before the d&e procedure.

Monday night we traveled to Gainesville where I'd been scheduled for a pre-op visit with my surgeon the day before the d&e would be done. As it was the NCAA basketball championship game, we welcomed the distraction to be with our closest friends and just try and forget the real reason for our visit...if even for a couple hours.

The next morning we woke early for my appointment. We were relieved that i would be the first of the day to avoid being stuck in a waiting room full of pregnant women. We would find this to be short-lived. First, they didn't even have me on the schedule. Once they fit me in, the cheerful receptionist greeted me with an, "oh! so you're pregnant". My "well....technically....." had no effect on her jovial demeanor and I was given a mountain of paperwork to fill out even though this information is all in my records as I am already a patient of their group of physicians.

As we waited to be seen, the room began to fill up with mothers and their children, expectant mothers and their equally excited partners. I tried to focus on my joy for each of them, on my hope for the future all the while counting the seconds until I could escape their presence. finally, my torture was over and i was led by a very pregnant nurse to the exam room. i pushed down my anger that someone in my situation should be escorted around by the one pregnant nurse in the office while the others busily chatted around the desk just starting their work day. they obviously had no idea why i was there and i was inwardly enraged that my pain and suffering was not evident. deep breaths, must keep breathing, none of this is their fault, is any one's fault, became my mantra as i waited.

the doctor was sincere, careful with me, thorough in his explanations. i did begin to feel that he was leaning for me to go the 'wait a bit longer and see what my body does
about this on its own' route. he even let out something about understanding the inconvenience of that. i flinched and explained that it was, more than anything, the walking around feeling pregnant, sore breasts, bloated, fatigued state, the waiting was too emotionally draining. the watching the time slowly ebb by just waiting for my miscarriage was more than i could emotionally bear, especially since i do want to try again in the future. this seemed to strike a chord and I think it was then that we understood each other. he wanted to be sure i was sure, i wanted him to understand that i was.

he held my hand and looked me in the eye when he offered his condolences and assurance that the following day would go well and i have no reason not to expect a perfectly healthy pregnancy in my future. i would have to wait to call the hospital after 7pm to find out the time of my procedure. i would also have to take medication that would help to soften my cervix and possibly bring on the beginning of my miscarriage.

terrified, i looked to my husband to help me find a way to make it thru the rest of our day. true to his usual character (he is, without a doubt, the most caring, sensitive, beautiful being i have ever known), he rescued me and whisked us both away to a place we knew we could begin to heal, could come to terms with the day that lie before us.

we drove to the place where our love blossomed in the first place, where we later would travel at any chance we could to cultivate it, to where we pledged our marriage vows, to where we go for every anniversary, celebration, or source of comfort in times like these.....we drove to St. Augustine.

we grabbed lunch from our favorite veg friendly cafe (Sundancer on A1A), soaked up their positive vibe while we waited for our lunch to be boxed up (these people just exude good feelings) and let hope creep into our spirits as we absorbed our surroundings and made our way to our favorite spot. Washington Oaks State Gardens is where we fell in love, it's where we've always gone to catch a glimpse of true magical beauty and perfect enchanted bliss. we sat in the very spot, our secret little clearing on the inlet where we first did when we took a chance thirteen years ago and gifted one another our hearts. the sun shone so bright, warming our skin, penetrating the cold of our hurt. the water was alive with light, the birds were singing to our souls, the wind whispered thru the trees that this is just the beginning of our hearts' desires.
We nourished our bodies as our surroundings nourished our souls and our shared love helped to begin our healing. we took our time that afternoon wandering thru the gardens. in all the years we've traveled the paths there, we'd never felt the place feel more alive. with fresh eyes we took in every beetle in our path, we laughed at the unending wisps of webs that were constantly catching on our clothing and floating behind us as we passed, we lost count of the little creatures that kept showing up on our bodies as we moved thru their homes. we carefully directed them back into the forest and silently thanked them for being there with us.

the entire time, there was a butterfly the same color of the leaves of the path who led the way for the length of our journey. when we stopped, they stopped...when we carried on....they fluttered back and forth between us always a step ahead.

the trees were so vibrant with life. the shades of green and brown were spectacular and just so very alive. i cannot put into words the utter magic and specialness of this place.
We then crossed the road and drove up a bit to Summer Haven, the little stretch of the beach that we've always thought of as our own. We took a minute to gaze at 'our house', one we've loved and fantasized about living in for for sale.

Then we carefully navigated down the rocks to the part of beach that has given us so much in all our years together. Hand and hand we walked along the ocean, letting the s
alt air fill our lungs, cleanse our beings...and together we remembered that day so long ago....when we first realized that we'd found in each other the person we would want to create life with....we'd been walking along just like this years ago and came across perfect little baby footprints. it's a memory that's always been with each of us and we've shared often. on this particular day it was so beautiful and sad to return to all at once. It all felt so right, though. i know that, at that time, the baby we'd made had ceased to grow, was no longer truly with us.....but it felt right to bring whatever remained of him or her inside me to the place where even the possibility of his/her being entered our hearts. it felt perfect to know that at least, we'd been able to share that with them. that, if the universe needed them back so soon, at least we'd be able to show them what we're all about, where they came from, and where they'll always have a place inside each of us.

Wednesday's procedure went well. the team of doctors who cared for me were nothing shy of spectacular, both at conducting the whole thing and in caring for me both physically and emotionally. my loving husband was perfect in his strength and his tenderness. my own OB came by to check on me and the overall sense of love and support from these strangers was more than i could have hoped for. i am recovering as well as can be expected. unfortunately, taking it easy is not what i want to do. i want so badly to just keep busy, to move beyond it. but i know my body needs a bit of time to heal.

I don't plan to blog again about this here, and I would like to thank each of you for your patience, your kindness, your understanding, and your support. I look forward to immersing myself again in the vegan community i love so much and feel so fortunate to be a part of. thank you so much for letting me share this here. it means more than i can say to have this outlet. to put it out into the universe so that it may seem more real for me, so that I may feel purged of the pain I've been carrying around. i know I'll have my good days and bad. i realize that this will be a part of my life forever....but thanks to you, it's not all sadness. i also take with me the realization of such a wonderful, loving community of people who, without ever having met me, are such a wealth of support, caring, and inspiration. Thank you all.