Monday, October 23, 2006

Beach Bummin' It (looooong post)

So we're back from our latest excursion to St. Augustine where each morning greeted us with this,
a magnificent sunrise. It was energizing and soul soothing to be there. We were married there nine years ago and take every opportunity we get to go back for a visit. This time, my brother and his wife were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary and asked that we join them since they'd be in our sunny state.

When traveling, I always bring my trusty insulated soft cooler and try and stock it with anything I can whip up in a pinch. This time, I brought:

leftover herbed roasted potatoes
mushroom caps (stuffed with a tempeh mixture I created)
some apples
some avacados
sprouts (adzuki, lentil, and
green onions
sesame dressing

the first morning we were there, the omnivore men went out in search of some breakfast grub while my brother's wife (who was totally down with trying whatever I made, excited that it'd be all vegan as she's an omni herself) and I held back to enjoy the view and the beach and a breakfast of our own. We had...

reroasted herbed potatoes and stuffed mushrooms, some avacado slices and some golden delicious apple slices (not pictured).

I was worried the mushrooms would go bad if not used while we were away so before we left I stuffed 'em with a mixture of VwaV's sausage-like tempeh crumbles that I had leftover, some vegannaise, and a ton of nutritional yeast. I packed 'em stuffed and just roasted them in the oven while the potatoes were reheating. the avacados were creamy and perfect to mellow out the spiciness of the tempeh stuffing, and the apple was refreshing and juicy. the potatoes are always amazing, no matter how many times you reheat them. :) It was a filling and tasty start to our fun filled beach day! She loved all of it, and nothing makes me happier than the ooh's, aah's, and mmmmm's out of the mouths of omni's enjoying vegan fare!!!

I never did make the sprout salad I was hoping to as we wanted to take them to a bunch of our favorite restaurants and I'm never going hungry when we go out, you can always piece together something. Granted, this was easier as a vegetarian, but I'm determined to always figure out something off a menu if for no other reason than to enlighten the restaurant that they are leaving out an entire community of prospective patrons when they plan a menu that does not consider or include vegan options. It's a challenge, but worth it to me.

We first took them to a place we like to hang out and drink beer (Stella Artois....Mmmmmm, AND it's VEGAN!) on their deck overlooking the ICW (intercoastal waterway), the Matanzas Inlet Restaurant. I was able to have a decent size house salad with a yummy mango vinaigrette and a side of beans and rice that I topped with their delicious datil pepper sauce. It wasn't the most filling of meals (too much white rice, not nearly enough beans), but it hit the spot and was tasty so I was happy. I took pictures but they're on my brother's camera. duh. so how's about another look at that beach?
the next place we hit to eat was A1A Ale Works. Looking at their menu you'd think, 'not very vegan friendly'. They have, hands down, the BEST hummus I've had yet. It's creamy, light, did I mention creamy? sooo good. And they'll serve it (a whole mess of it!) to you with a generous helping of roasted red pepper, zuchhini, summer squash, and the freshest pita bread I've ever tasted. Paired with a scrumptious salad of baby field greens, pecans, golden raisins, red onion, and a mustard vinaigrette it was an incredible meal for me. I don't even miss thier beer ale soup which was always the reason we just had to eat there. Now, for me? It's the hummus!!!! I loved this lunch so much and was having so much fun I didn't even remember to snap a shot to share with you! sorry!!
sea wall pic

There were a couple duds on the trip, like the pizza place I ordered a calzone from. I wanted all the veggies (they touted broccoli, spinach, fresh tomatoes, and roasted garlic in their list) and sauce inside but ABSOLUTELY NO CHEESE! they told me no problemo. we had it delivered soon after they closed. when we got the food? My calzone was covered in parmesan and stuffed with tomato sauce and more onions, green peppers, and green and black olives than you can even imagine. It was late and I was starving so I picked at my greek salad (that they actually left the cheese off of) then turned my calzone over and pulled it apart eating it from its cheeseless bottom up. Needless to say, we will never order from them cheer me up?

more walks on the beach!Another dud was an old favorite the SouthBeach Grille. they have great outdoor tables to sit at and the dunes are right there so it's a favorite spot to hang but to eat. Used to be I would enjoy their signature pasta salad with sundried tomatoes, blk olives, & artichoke hearts, but it relies on a cream sauce. Not so appetizing if you're a vegan. Sure, they made me an oil/wine based sauce, leaving out the butter for a another signature pasta dish of theirs...but it was very overcooked white pasta topped with a once frozen green peppers, onions, and tomatoes mix. The salad was good and hey, at least I didn't fill up on pasta! ;) again, no photo of the food, but...rock beach (Washington Oaks State Garden, beach side). you can climb along the coquina rock and check out all the tide pools and amazing shapes all carved away by the ocean. we have so many great pics of this beach, but wanted to share just the ones from this trip.

But just when you get all grumpy that the world is just not accomodating you, that you cannot WAIT to get home and blog about the atrocious eating establishements out there who don't even acknowledge that we vegans exist? You find your little niche in the universe and everything is right again, better than right it's near perfect!!! We found Sundancer's eatery and grocery. Funny thing is, we'd passed it every time we left the beachouse and didn't even notice it until that last day! It was worth the wait. Here's my brunch:This was their signature dish, the lentil walnut burger topped with tomato, sprouts, avacado, and ginger wasabi (oh my, this dressing was yummy!) dressing on a sprouted grain bun. On the side they gave me the most amazing yet simple salad of pinto beans, corn, tomato, avacado, red onion and i think a little cilantro and lemon juice. I think they refer to it as their cowboy caviar. while I totally made a mess of it before snapping a picture, it was heaven and we can't wait to go back! they also house a full organic juice bar (they only use organic produce and goods) and shop containg pantry items and toiletries, all organic and earth friendly. so cool! they don't yet have a website, but if you're ever in St. Augustine? you MUST check them out, right on A1A. Everything is so fresh and tasty!

I will post anything fun I come up with before Thursday, then it's off to the Keys! Gotta love living in the Sunshine State where you can soak up the beaches well on into the 'winter months'. Hoping everyone is enjoying their fall so far, still can't seem to comment on many blogger blogs. For now I leave you with sweet Joe, the gorgeous Akita my brother and his wife just rescued. For a member of a breed that has a reputation for being aggressive and hard to manage, he is just the sweetest most gentle creature. Was so excited about running around on the beach, so glad we got to meet him!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Day of Decadence

these cookies only look like your ordianary (tho totally super yummy and amazing) vegan chocolate chip cookies, but they're not...look closer! what is that making them so fantastically scrumptious and flavorful that you can just barely discover with the naked eye (but your nose would totally tell you if we had smellevision :)? It's this!
Mmmmmm, crystallized ginger, my favorite! I picked some up at Mother Earth from the bulk bins recently and wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it (you know, aside from just breaking out the bag and nibbling a piece from time to time). Taking a tip from Green & Blacks dark chocolate bar with crystallized ginger (love. this. bar.) I realized these had to be worth throwing together (just subbed my usual 1/2 c. of walnuts or pecans with 1/2 c. chopped crystallized ginger), how could they be bad? All the perfect chocolate chip cookie I love with tiny bites of gingery goodness! Now, the trick will be to just eat only one....every other day...and not make them again until at LEAST the holidays! hehe.

This morning I knew I wanted to have a couple items in the 'fridge for the next couple of days (thinking of stuffing some mushrooms with VwaV's tempeh crumbles much like my grandma's sausage-laden versions from my childhood and topping a pizza with more of the same and some potatoes as Isa good!), and while cooking those up, deciding what type of smoothie to make on the side I thought of all those crazy, fatty, sodium-filled bowls that everyone's serving in fast food joints. First Taco Bell (made sense enough) then KFC (weird). While I don't eat at these places *shudder at the thought!* I'm totally down with the idea of just putting all the stuff you like in one bowl rather than on a plate before digging in.

So the smoothie idea was totally forgotten and I had a little fun. It went a little something like this:

Break out my newest cute bowl.
Place in it a few roasted potatoes (roasted with onion, olive oil, sea salt, rosemary, and thyme, my fave combination).
Go nuts and grate an ounce of FYH's Monterey Jack style cheeze.

Top that with some tempeh crumbles. Don't forget the dallop of leftover Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy (mmmm, steamy!)
And finish it off with a quarter of a creamy avacado, chopped. This was great! All the wonderful flavors I love without stuffing myself first thing in the morning. It was just enough food to get me going with my day without making me feel icky and overly full (a problem for me lately) but still had all the flavors to satisfy my demanding taste buds. What kind of decadent bowl would you find most tantalizing?

Tomorrow night's 'clean out the 'fridge' night before our trip to the beach. Should be interesting!

Monday, October 16, 2006


Well, today's phone call from the doctor was a mixed blessing.

Good news: it's not any cancer or weird tumor or strange mass or oddly shaped organ. everything looks good.

Bad news: everything looks good, and I still feel terrible. having lots of pain to the left of and around my stomach and back.

I do have a small kidney stone in my left kidney, but this does not explain my stomach woes (unless, of course, i'm so in tune with my body that i'm just in distress due to the kidney issue causing stomach woes? not a very medical explanation, but it's all i have at the moment).

Next, I go to a Neurogastricsomethingorother doctor but likely not til next month and I have to also get a test done to see how I digest things. That may be the problem. Funny, she was explaining that they make you eat an egg sandwhich and blahblahblah, and when she was done I asked, "Is it always an egg sandwhich? Because as a vegan I'd never eat one." she quickly remembered, laughed and said they'd come up with something, maybe tofu, and then recommended a great restaurant in town that she just found with good vegan options. She's cool like that.

So basically, it looks to be nothing too scary or life-threatening, just more than mildly miserable in the world of me.

Thank you all again and again for all your kind thoughts and well wishes. I've been meaning to make the rounds, but blogger isn't letting me even open comments on some of your blogs so i get weary and put it off another day. know that each and every one of you brightens my day and truly inspires me just for being the amazing people that you are!

I will be out of town on and off for the rest of October, but will certainly share anything spectacularly vegan (or health related) that comes my way.

Salads 'n Stuff

While waiting for the results of my CT scan, I'm eating lots of salads and leftovers (and I'm sneaking in tomatoes here and there, Shhhhhhh!)

Haven't made anything really exciting as of late with all the back and forth to the doctor and all 'round feeling icky most of the time, but I'm positive we're on the verge of figuring this out and getting me back to my normal, frenzied-food creating self.

The above is a salad I made last night with a head of Boston lettuce (love the texture of this stuff!). Boston lettuce is a variety of Butter lettuce. I'd never really used it before (i'm a romaine and/or spinach gal) but the Cap'n thought it would be nice on wraps and it's organic and hydroponically grown so we tried it. Wondering about it's nutritional value, I found that it to be rih in calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and vitamins A, B, C, and K.

So I topped it with sliced cukes, an ugly tomato (the tomato that tastes like a tomato!), chickpeas, green onions, a sprout medley (peas, lentils, and adzukis), and some carrot ribbons. Rather than making my own dressing (so lazy) I opted for our favorite store-bought ginger variety (next to my sesame variety which, while great in sprout salad, isn't the best on a big, green concoction).
I love making salads, not only do you get to immerse yourself in fresh, vibrant, raw ingredients, but they're so fun to assemble and create beautiful, artful masterpieces that taste wonderful!

With the salad, I defrosted some Portabello Seitan Stroganoff (love this stuff!) and served it with DeBoles Organic tomato and lemon pepper spaghetti. Dusted with fresh black pepper and some nutritional yeast? This was heavenly!
I splurged with this pasta as we typically stick to only whole wheat or nonwheat pasta's as a rule. this was a great departure, tho, and as it's all organic, not such a guilty pleasure! :)

i've also been nibbling on leftover seitan that I once again turned into nuggets and a load of brussel sprouts (seriously, i think that's been three of my meals in the last three days). Paired with a salad, it's my favorite comfort food meal.

I just treated myself to some new vegan cookbooks (the Garden of Vegan being one of 'em) and cannot wait to shake off this funk and create some new (or, new to me, anyway) stuff to share with all of you! But for now? let's get another look at that salad! hehe :)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lemony, Sunshiney Day (a photo essay :)

If you haven't tried Vive's Lemon Herb Tofu yet I highly recommend you step on it and get to making this wonderful (what will soon be in your house, too) household staple. I haven't marinated tofu to bake since I started making it this way. It's so great! so much flavor! (and you can mash it all up for really yummy salads, too!).

Tonight we had that and some roasted herbed red and sweet potatoes with onion, topped with kale (i just boil it and then add a little sea salt after straining...mmmmmm).with a little side of leftover Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy, like so:I love how amazingly sweet sweet potatoes get when you roast 'em. Such a yummy meal. Nice and hardy as I'm not able to eat again until tomorrow after my CT scan, and who knows what time that will end up being. Don't feel bad for me, tho, since I totally plan to treat myself to something wonderful as I'll be in an actual town with actual vegan options the minute they let me loose after the procedure. woohoo! i'm giddy with anticipation. :)
And am I the last one on earth to discover these...? I like to make my own patties of different sorts, but really like the convenience once in a while of just heating and eating. And with ingredients like these, I can feel good about doing just that. I loved them! Served with some homemade agave mustard and sprouts on a sprouted grain roll with an asian pear, this was a great lunch I can't wait to have again!
The asian pears have been looking especially good lately at the store. I'm thinking I want to do something with them and ginger, mmmmm.....

Tomorrow night we're having seitan made today. How cool is this picture?!
I can't believe I went all those years hating seitan just because I'd never tried to make it myself. It's so easy and so much tastier than store bought versions! Now I make it, have it one night, freeze the rest, and just when I want it again, there it is! Praise Seitan!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Punk Rock, Indeed!

I finally made VwaV's Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy. One word comes to mind....YUM-MY! Last time I made the baking powder biscuits, I'd frozen a few raw, and baked them in the oven for 15 min. to serve with the gravy. The biscuits never really puffed up the first time around, so I wasn't expecting too much from them this time around. They turned out about the same, light, kinda flat, but big enough to split down the middle. I enjoyed them each time and the gravy was just phenomenal. Here they're served with half an avacado. This was so filling! I had to wait a couple hours before I even had room for some fruit!

Mostly, we've been either out of town (for my endoscopy procedure*) where we had killer vietamese food (I never remember my camera for these events, so sad!) or just eating simple salads and easy reheated stuff I'd frozen previously here at home.

Last night I met up with some friends and we hit our favorite Thai place. I, again, forgot the camera, but snapped a shot of my leftovers for breakfast....Amazing Tofu. It's tofu and broccoli and red and green peppers in a mild peanut sauce. I'd call it great if not totally amazing. :) What WAS amazing, however, was their Vegetable Coconut Soup. I doubt even a picture would convey the spectacular taste event that was going on in my mouth with each bite! I'm already on a mission to procure the items needed to replicate it. I've got to get my hands on some galangal, lemon grass, and kaffir lime leaves and I should be on my way. When I've reached flavor euphoria, I'll be sure to share!

*the endoscopy went well (so weird, tho! they give you a drug that, while you're conscious thru the procedure, gives you amnesia so you don't remember it. a total bewitched moment. one minute i'm on the table getting ready for them to do the procedure...*blink*...the next i'm sitting in the recovery chair wondering what happened to that forty minutes of my life as I've no recollection!). everything looks normal on the inside. all my bloodwork came back excellent as well. what does this mean? so far, looks like they'll do a CT scan this week and take it from there. I'm still having stomach pain pretty much constantly, but I'm holding up okay and doing some basic yoga and meditation to help me thru. You have all been so wonderful with your concern and well wishes. Thank you so much, it truly means the world!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

More Spaghetti Squash and Mac u'Ncheese with Seitan Nuggets

I had bought another spaghetti squash, expecting to treat us to another round of lemon artichoke pesto, but used all my basil in the marsala the night before. Thus, this was born
I'm not sure where this cheese-like sauce came from (I've found countless versions on the internet and in cookbooks), but this is the basic one I love the most. I'm still wanting to try those that enlist potato and carrot, but haven't yet. This one I just put on top of steamed brocolli on top of some baked spaghetti squash.

u'Ncheese Sauce

1/3 c. Nutritional Yeast
1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbs. light miso
1/4 c. Parma*
2 Tbs. cornstarch (dissolved in 2Tbs. cold water)
1 Tbs. flour

1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. oil (I use olive)
1c. water

*if you don't use/have Parma, you can just add additional nutritional yeast and some walnuts ground fine to equal 1/4c, or just omit it altogether

Mix everything but the oil and 1/2 c. water in a pot and cook over med. heat until it starts to thicken, add remaining water and oil, cook until it's bubbly and thick, stirring constantly. Add to pasta, veggies, whatever!

For the sp. squash, I just cut it in half (no easy feat!) and place it in a covered baking dish with 1/4 c. water. (I have an aversion to using my microwave for more than reheating, but I know you can cook it there, as well. there's lots of info on the 'net on how to). This goes in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 min. Allow it to cool a bit, then shred out innards with a fork.

Mine was not as subltly sweet as it usually is. I think I got a dud squash for one, and overcooked it just a tad also. It was still yummy, just a little mushy and a tiny bit watery. I've never had that happen before so I didn't really sweat it and it certainly won't deminish my love for spaghetti squash. :)

There was a bunch of the sauce leftover so, after a long day of football watching (Go Gators!), we got home and I remembered I had defrosted some seitan. So, we had this for dinner...

Crispy Seitan nuggets with Agave Mustard Sauce and Macaroni uN'cheese with some chopped leftover brussel sprouts. Basically, I needed to finally get rid of my huge batch of brussel sprouts and thought they'd be good chopped up and stirred in the macaroni (they were) and u'Ncheese sauce.

For the nuggets, I just seasoned some flour with sea salt, pepper, and paprika, dredged them in that. Dipped 'em in soy milk, then coated 'em in Ian's Panko breadcrumbs (these are sooo amazing! what crunch!). Then I sauteed them in olive oil until crispy, which only takes a few mintes each side.

A great honey mustard substitute is equal parts of Vegannaise, Dijon Mustard, and Agave Nectar. It's not at all thick (I like a tasty but thin sauce for dipping), but the flavor is wonderful and really compliments the seitan nuggets. I'd like to try baking them next time and see how they brown. I'm sure the crunch factor will still be way up there, but in this case I find that sauteeing is just another word for frying.

Tomorrow the Cap'n is taking me to my favorite sushi place in town for my 'last meal' before my gastric endoscopy early Monday morning (already dreaming of their Nerudo Veggie chi, asparagus, avacado, tomato, romaine, all wrapped up in the thinnest slices of cucumber and doused in two sauces, one sour, one sweet....mmmmmmm). I doubt I'll be blogging any food until after that. They say my throat will be a bit sore right after, and I've never been put under anesthesia so we'll see how long it takes me to get back into the groove of things. I'm typically pretty sensitive to medications so I don't know. Until then!!!!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Naked Tofu...

Naked Tofu Marsala, that is... I say naked because, in the past, I always veganized an old Italian recipe, typically, by swapping the meat with tofu and then breading it first. You know, tofu marsala, tofu parmesan, tofu piccata. First you bread the tofu, saute or bake it, then sauce it as the original recipe calls for. I guess I did this because it seemed the best way to translate the taste and texture and because, honestly? I never really cared much for 'naked' tofu in many recipes as it rarely took on the flavor well and just tasted like blocks of bland ol' tofu swimming in a savory sauce that didn't seem to ever seep in.

Well, NO MORE OF THAT!!!! at least not where marsala is concerned. I promise you, you will not even believe the yumminess of this recipe. The Cap'n was raving with every bite and I have to agree, the flavor is amazing, the recipe simple (just one pot!), and comes together quickly. What a great way to win over nonveg's and nontofu-eaters alike.

So, without further ado....

Nekkid Toful Marsala (from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers)
serves 4

4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs olive oil

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. salt

2 c. Marsala wine

1 cake firm tofu (I should note that I pressed mine in paper towels in the fridge over night as I meant to make it last night but got whisked away to hang out with friends instead. I think that the extra time being pressed really helped dry it out more than usual and prepare it to soak up extra flavor)

10 oz. cremini or moonlight mushrooms

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (I use a no salt added variety)

1/4 c. fresh chopped basil (using fresh basil here is imperative, if you don't have it on hand. wait until you do, it's worth the wait!)

salt and pepper

In a pot on medium heat, cook garlic in oil just until it sizzles, then add bell pepper, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring often, for five minutes, but be careful not to let the garlic burn. Add Marsala and tofu and cook on high heat 4-5 minutes to reduce the wine a bit. Add mushrooms and tomatoes and cook on med-hi heat for five more minutes (this is a good time to stick some bread in the oven to heat if you have some on hand). Add basil and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warm, crusty bread to sop up the delicious broth or over pasta or a grain, if you prefer.

nutritional info per serving: 217 cal, 14g prot, 12g total fat, 1.5g sat fat, 14g carb, 0g chol, 729g sodium (using no salt added tomatoes will reduce this quite a bit), 3g fiber, 2g sugar.

Seriously, I already cannot wait to make this again and for other people. It's healhty, easy, and sooooo good! Didn't hurt that it gave us a reason to use up some more of our bread, either.

And, of course, no meal around here is complete these days without a little Caesar salad on the side (didn't I warn you that you'd be seeing a lot of this? :) So what's so great about tonight's version*?Brussel Sprouts, that's what! We had some left over from the other night (amazingly, as I spend lunchtime camped out in front of the fridge nibbling on these for a couple days after making them) and, as luck would have it, the last head of romaine we had was mostly all limp and yucky on the outside, leaving on the heart of it still edible. Our salad was in dire need of more green leafy something. I chopped up the good part of the romaine, tossed in the brussel sprouts (right outta the 'fridge), threw in a handful of hemp seeds, a good sprinkling of Parma, and the Caesar dressing and woohoo! This salad just gets better and better!

I hereby retract my previous promise to stop posting about the glories of my favorite salad. I have decided that, while it grows, changes, morphs, and evolves, it is my duty to pass along the deliciousness that is summoned whenever this scrumptious salad hits our table. You can thank me later :).

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Color Cravings?

While sometimes I'll crave certain foods, mostly I crave certain colors. As in, 'I'm reeeally wanting something green right now' or 'Ya know what sounds good? Something orange...and some green!'. So even when I don't think I feel like whipping up something for a meal, these cravings get my butt in gear pretty fast and, before I know it, I'm happily working away.

Last night it was the green and orange thing. I wanted to use up some leftover tempeh (which I'd turned, not all that successfully into the spicy tempeh part from PPK's Spicy Tempeh Rolls. So, I chopped up a little red onion, red pepper, and loads of carrots, then mixed in a handfull of sunflower seeds, another of hemp seeds, some tamari, cumin, dill, and a touch more of veganaise. Put that, open face, atop some of my homemade bread, topped it with some fresh avacado and a little of Vive's Cashew Avacado Sauce.

While I was doing that I threw VwaV's Garlicky Brussel Sprouts in the oven. While the orange isn't so evident in the picture, I loved crunching into them in the open sandwhich. It was reeeally tasty but entirely too big a sandwich! I could only finish half of it, you know, what with all the brussel sprouts I was devouring! I

I tell ya, I can't believe I waited all my life to enjoy this vegetable. So good!

As a treat for having to trek all the way to the doctor's today (looks like I'm getting an endoscopy in the very near future. FUN!), of course I had to come home and bake cookies. Especially after Out of My Vegan Mind's claim that these are her most favorite. I typically make Dreena's Homestyle version from Vive and love them. I thought I should venture out in my vegan baking of choc. chip cookies though and LOVED these as well. I don't like using margarine, so will be working on a sub for that. Actually, I don't like using canola oil all that much either, which is what the homestyle cookies call for. I'm thinking Earth Balance will be my best bet. I have Soy Balance right now. Is EB a margarine?

Either way, these are heavenly and I highly recommend them. I've already enforced a new rule in the house, bread can only be baked once a month if cookies are made once in that month. If no cookies, pies, cakes, etc. then bread can be made twice....but no more! Hopefully that will help me steer clear of getting too into the vegan baking while we live out here with no one to share all these goodies with but our waistlines. :)

Ooh, and quick note. that glass in the photo? sooo cool! got 'em a couple of years ago from they recycle old glass bottles to make glasses and vases and such. have some of their candle holders as well. LOVE THEM! they're reasonably priced, really nice, and make perfect gifts for the eco-minded friend or family member.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bread Baking, A First Attempt...

While I've no problem whipping up a pizza dough or some quick biscuits from scratch, and I'm also schooled in the art of cookie and cupcake making, for the most part....bread was just something I never made. Not as a carnivore a decade ago, not as a vegetarian, but as a new(er) vegan, I find it harder and harder to find bread I'm willing to eat that doesn't contain eggs, milk or whey, honey, or high fructose corn syrup.

I don't have a bread machine and always thought having one would just mean trouble (I love me some hot, fresh bread), but I was beginning to ponder my options in the hopes of having good bread now and then that I felt good about eating.

Then I stumbled upon what seemed to be an easy and yummy bread recipe over on Vegweb, and it did not disappoint! As promised, it has that yeast-y flavor that I remember from childhood cafeteria days, is so easy to make, and loaded with possibilities. Tonight I stuck strictly to the recipe (ok, I deviated and threw in 1c. whole wheat flour and 2c. unbleached flour each time), and didn't add any herbs or ingredients that would shake up the recipe too much. I wanted to try it out as it was (mostly) and see what came up.

Well, it rose quite a bit on the second proofing, but didn't become nearly as huge in the oven as I'd hoped, kind of died back down, as you can see. I'm sure this is due to the flours I used, and I'm fine with that because it was almost foccacia like in density and the flavor is simple but sooooo tasty! I can't wait to bake it with cloves of roasted garlic and herbs in the future or turn it into cinnamon buns, sandwhich rolls, breadstix, the possibilities are endless! (see why I knew making my own bread would be trouble? ;)

I highly recommend checking it out, along with all the recommendations over on Vegweb. I, the bread baking novice, am giddy at the thought of trying some of their suggestions.

No, we didn't just have bread for dinner (tho, I must admit I was tempted!), but served it with some fresh steamed garlic broccoli and a Vegan version of Moosewood's Butternut Squash Soup that I found at Recipezaar. I like the soup a lot but made it with the apple juice suggestion (we had cider, actually) and found it to be wonderful, though a bit sweet to eat again any time soon. So I froze the rest for a later date. I'd love to find a recipe that is creamier in texture and more on the savory side of things. But it sure is pretty!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Asian Inspired Eggplant & Invisible Sushi

After finally getting a sushi mat and some sushi rice (I got brown as I can only bring myself to eat white rice when we're out at restaurants. Keeps us eating more brown overall this way), I thought it high time I tried my hand at rolling my own sushi.

My MOST favorite accompaniment at our fave sushi place is their Aged Nasu, which is basically braised eggplant with a gingery sweet sauce over the top of it. Not sure how they make their sauce, I did a bit of searching around on the internet and combined a few recipes. The result? AMAZING! Not exactly what we get at the sushi restaurant (theirs is sweeter), but I honestly liked mine better. I liked that the one I made had much more ginger and garlic flavor and the little bits of both in this sauce were just heaven! Here's the recipe:

Asian Inspired Eggplant

1 heaping Tbs gingerroot, minced

3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced

3 Tbs tamari

1 Tbs rice vinegar
/2 tsp sesame oil

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1/4 tsp cornstarch

1 lg eggplant

1 Tbs oil (I used canola)

1/4 c. water

Combine first 7 ingredients and set aside. Cut top off eggplant and cut in half, lenghtwise. Cut criss cross marks in the flesh of each half, making sure not to pierce thru the skin of the eggplant. Heat Tbs of oil in skillet that will hold both halves on med. heat. Place eggplants, cut side down, in the skillet, add water,
cover, and cook 10 min, or until it's browned a little and cooked thru. Remove eggplant, add sauce to hot skillet and simmer for about 3 min, or until sauce thickents. Pour sauce over eggplant and serve!

Seriously. It was amazing. I will be making this again and again, with and without sushi.

Speaking of the sushi....I took a tip from Chris and Darlene of Eat Air and decided to make PPK's spicy tempeh rolls. I didn't have pepper oil, so I just used a little canola oil with some chili powder, then added a bit of salt and some red pepper flakes to the tempeh when adding the veganaise. I'd like to try this with actual pepper oil or tinker with it to give it more flavor. it was a little bland. Should have just added tamari or something.
I added that, cukes, carrots, scallions, and avacado and got to rolling.

As I've never done this before, the whole thing was new to me... and not quite successful. Basically, the first roll I made I had to eat like a hand roll as it was a
m-e-s-s. The second I served to my husband and it was better, but not anywhere near good yet. The third actually held together okay and I think, had I had to make any more I may just have gotten the knack of it! I tried to take a picture, but the flash didn't go off, making it reeeally blurry...then....the battery died. So I give you the worst picture you're ever likely to encounter here just to show that I did attempt it and it was fresh and delicious, if not totally messy and obviously rolled by a total nubie in the sushi rolling dept. :)

On a totally non asian inspired note....

I think we may have perfected the parts of my new favorite salad. It's funny, every time I make it I add something new and the flavor gets better and better. First, there was the added sundried tomatoes and avacado. Then there was the addition of Hemp Seed. Last night I roasted some portabello caps (just drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled on some sea salt and some fresh black pepper then tossed in a 450 oven for 20 min)...and perfecto! My most favorite Caesar Salad EVA was born. And now I promise to stop posting pictures of this salad, even if it does show up on our table at LEAST once a week. hehe.