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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Dinner last night was very pretty. Witness:

I decided to roast some vegetables in the oven. What you see is a mix of:
– Brussels sprouts
– Torpedo onion
– Carrots
– Red and gold beets
– Sweet potatoes (white and orange-ish)

Roasting vegetables is so easy and really quick! All you need to know about how to roast vegetables is:
– Cut them into roughly even pieces for even cooking. Sturdier things (like beets) can be a little smaller so they’ll cook more quickly.
– Coat liberally with olive oil. According to Alton Brown, this keeps moisture in the veggies and helps them not burn.
– Season as desired (salt, pepper, whatever) and toss in the oven for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Veggies are done when easily pierced with a fork.

In addition to being pretty and rainbow-colored, oven roasted vegetables are also delicious. As the boy said last night, “How are mine already gone? I tried to eat them slowly!”

We also had artichokes with dinner. I love artichokes and should have been eating more while they’re in season! Each of them was a buck a piece at the farmers’ market. Soooooo good.

How to cook/make artichokes:
– Trip 1/2″ off top and pointy things with scissors
– Trim stem
– Toss in a pot of boiling water for 30-40 minutes. Done when bottom is easily pierced with fork.

These are good with melted margarine/butter, but also with some soy sauce and/or lemon juice. I think artichokes might be my favorite food.

Go forth and eat vegetables!

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Phew! So I made granola a few days ago. Every recipe I found was “oats, nuts, seeds, la la la mix of oil and sugar and toasty-toast!”

It came out alright. No clumping action though — I think next time I need more oil/sugar. I used brown sugar in the interest of making it vegan. I may try honey next time. The flavor’s really good. Just unfortunate that the coconut smell (I used coconut oil) gave me a migraine.

Also, I introduce my new favorite way of eating: bowl. In a bowl. I made a bunch of quinoa last night and some of the perfect tofu. My new plan is to (on the weekend from now on) make a bunch of grains and tofu and sauces on the weekend. Then, during the week, toss a mix of it in a bowl with some freshly cooked veggies and greens. Instant meal! No boredom! Yay!

Man I love quinoa. Super fast cooking and awesome source of protein. I made a mix of white and red quinoa last night. I just throw a bunch of it in a pot with a massive amount of water and boil it like pasta. When it tastes/feels done, I drain the water. It’s just that easy.

So last night was quinoa, tofu, chard, some red onions, and tahini sauce. Yummers! It was a nice sturdy meal and made me feel like I was getting a lot of protein.

Grains for the future: brown rice, more quinoa, teff (never had it), millet maybe? I’m trying to branch out with my grains. Also, try my hand at polenta.
Protein for the future: tofu made different ways, chickpeas, other beans…
Sauces for the future: miso-tahini, peanut, Caesar

I’d love recommendations for bowl eating!

Now to the non-vegan portion of this post. I made yogurt! I’d like to try it with soy in the future, but I got a little freaked out by the requirement of agar. I used whole milk from a local dairy (135 miles away). The dairy actually seems really cool and ethical: Straus Family Creamery.

I made the shift away from vegan a few years ago, out of health/time issues. Lately my food priorities have been with local food — I feel better about consuming small amounts of conscientious dairy that comes locally, instead of the processed corn/soy fake meat I was eating. Anyway! Sometimes I feel like I still have to justify not being vegan anymore.

So! I made yogurt. It turned out pretty awesome, and it was really easy. It was mostly a lot of passive time letting it incubate.

I really encourage you to try making your own yogurt. I made 2 pints of yogurt, which was $2.50 worth of milk. The milk came in a glass jar that the dairy takes back, and I made the yogurt in glass jars, so no plastic containers. Probably the cheapest most eco-friendly yogurt possible!

These are some great links I found for yogurt-related fun:
Making Your Own Yogurt
Yogurt on 101 Cookbooks
A cool-looking yogurt-based restaurant in Palo Alto

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My breakfast this morning was about as healthful — and delicious — as it gets. I bet I got two servings of fruit and two servings of whole grains. I just can’t get over oatmeal!

In my previous life at a desk job, I ate oatmeal every weekday. I had my little pint-sized Mason jar that I’d keep at my desk and a bag of thick rolled oats in the desk drawer. Every day it was two-thirds of a jar of oats, some turbinado sugar, and enough hot water just to cover it. Put the cap on, let sit for a few minutes, et voila! Chewy, warm, tasty oatmeal.

Oatmeal still serves me as perhaps the quickest, easiest breakfast I can muster. I’ve also been stirring in a spoonful of yogurt lately, for extra creaminess and probiotic action. Today, though, was special. I added a chopped-up pear, and things went to another level. These pears from the farmers’ market are SO sweet and the perfect texture. And what a good, easy way to kick up oatmeal! I bet it would be easy enough to chop them up the night before and take them in a plastic container, then add them at work. Yummers.

In conclusion: Dear pears, I love you.

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As October progesses, tomatoes are on their way out. Looks like next week may be our last week at the farmers’ market. I guess for everything there is a season, and for tomatoes, October is not a happy time. It is, however, the beginning of winter squash.

My favorite exchange of the day:
Customer (buying tomatoes and some squash): Gotta put these in the bag carefully so I don’t squash the tomatoes.
Me: Yep, that’s exactly what you would be doing. Squashing the tomatoes. Ba-dum-ch!

Painful jokes aside, at $1 a pound, I’m inclined to say winter squash is one of the best deals out there. These babies are usually between one and four pounds, with the smaller ones being more than enough for a hearty two person serving.

A visual squash guide:
– Sugar pie pumpkin – pretty recognizable
– Acorn squash – dark green, pointed end
– Carnival squash – I believe these are a hybrid of acorn and delicata
– Delicata squash – longer squash

We get a lot of people who buy these for decoration. Understandably so, since winter squash will keep for about a month at room temperature, and even longer if kept somewhere cool, dark and dry like a garage. I’ve even had a few people ask if they’re edible — I guess before this year I usually thought of them as just decorative also! Gourds are, however, not edible, and the jack-o-lantern pumpkins at pumpkin patches aren’t going to taste nearly as good as the sugar pie pumpkins.

Each week brings a few of these tiny cabbages — literally petits choux — that everyone always likes. I’m tempted to joke that they’re giant brussels sprouts.

This was the cutest one today — less than one-tenth of a pound! I like that they’re the right size for a one-person coleslaw or something.

I definitely took advantage of all the seasonal produce October has to offer. I snagged some beautiful kale and rainbow chard, some dried torpedo onions, some pears (Bosc, Warren, and Asian), Pink Lady apples (there were some incredible Galas today too), and a giant amount of squash.

There’s also some slightly droopy flowers from last week’s market in there. The pears are destined for muffins, the Asian pears and apples are probably destined for eating by hand, and the squash, well… let’s just say that if the apocalypse does happen, I can survive on squash.

In the face of crazy amounts of winter squash (Acorn, Delicata, Pumpkin, Carnival, and Butternut), I declare from now until (U.S.) Thanksgiving SquashFest 2008. More to come…

ETA: I have more varieties of squash than I thought! Internets inform me that the smaller green and white ones are Sweet Dumpling Squash. Interesting…

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I’ll admit, I’ve been sucky on the breakfast front lately. I’m a picky breakfast eater — I don’t like anything sweet or cold, and it has to be sturdy. I’ve been eating a lot of oatmeal (thick rolled oats + boiling water + sugar), but I’m also easily bored. I decided to take back breakfast this morning.

A big cup of tea and my favorite vegan breakfast — and actually sitting down and deciding to make a meal of it, instead of eating in my lap while on my laptop.

In my brain I’m all about valuing eating. Food is important! Put away the internet and sit down at a table! I’m pretty good at dinner since the boy and I have been eating meals I make at home regularly, but the rest of the day’s meals get tossed away. I know it’s even worse with an 8-5, or if you’re a student. Breakfast becomes a hassle, pitting your body’s needs against time. And time kind of wins usually.

But today breakfast won. With my favorite, quick and easy vegan breakfast. Here’s what you do (taken from one of the How It All Vegan books).

– Leftover rice and tofu into a pan with some olive oil and soy sauce
– Bread gets toasty
– Toasty bread receives Vegenaise treatment
– Soy saucy rice and tofus go onto lubricated bread
– All gets topped with ketchup

Kind of weird, but really fast and tasty. And man, talk about stick to your ribs! I was full full full after two pieces.

Now, of course, I’m imagining out-the-door versions. Rolled in some lavash bread maybe?

But for now, I’m going to stick to my sit down breakfast. I think I owe it to myself.

(Books are a nutritious part of this balanced breakfast. I’ve discovered the library, can you tell…?)

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Alright! For the Love of Guava tagged me to showcase my vegan freezer. This is interesting, since I’m housesitting right now, so my freezer isn’t actually mine. However, I’ve been slowly taking over, and here’s what it looks like:

The meat is definitely not mine, so it gets an X. I’ve been doing a decent amount of freezing things when they’re in season so that I can enjoy them when they’re not. There’s a good amount of tomato sauce and some apple pies my friend and I made, as well as some shell beans. And tofu, since it gets better when frozen!

And the door! Whenever I make rice, I make a lot and freeze it in smaller quantities for use later. Also had some oatmeal pancakes leftover.

Sorry it’s not more interesting! I don’t know that I know the requisite 5 vegan bloggers, but if you’re reading this, and you’re doing Vegan MoFo and haven’t gotten this yet, steal it! Cupcake Punk, I don’t think I’ve seen it on your blog yet…

Who saw Project Runway last night? Yay Leanne! I was really rooting for her — I loved her collection, the way she used a simple color palette to showcase her architectural designs. I made some vegan sugar cookies for our Project Runway Finale party last night. I tried to make them look like pincushions, which is totally the idea of my friend (check her out: Tatiana Supports the Arts).

I veganized a Martha Stewart recipe (here). For the best vegan egg substitute, I’ve had luck with this combination in baking:
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 2 Tbsp flour
– 3 Tbsp water
Mix together in a separate bowl — will get frothy. Equals one egg.

The frosting is just powdered sugar (2 c) with 7-ish tsp of soy milk. Plus all the red food dye I could muster. The frosting worked perfectly! Nice and thin — I’m not a huge fan of super thick frosting. And it dried in time for Runway fun!

For more Project Runway fun, check out Walking the Vegan Line’s Project Runway cupcakes. And, if you’re not into it yet, Project Rungay is my favorite way to relive my favorite Project Runway episodes.

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The farmstand this week brought some winter squash. You can imagine my excitement! I’ve decided this is the winter I learn to prepare winter squash, so I snatched some of these babies up. First on the chopping block: delicata squash.

First of all, if you’re looking for economical food, winter squash has got to be it. This one weighed a little over a pound, and at $1/lb right now, that means that a good amount of food for two people was about $1.50 total, plus tiny amounts of sugar and stuff. Of course, one can’t live on squash alone, but I might try…

Squash friend needed seeds removed. Cutting winter squash can be a challenge. Get out your biggest sharpest knife and proceed cautiously. After much thinking, I figured out the best and safest way to cut the elusive squash. First I cut in half the circle way (so now two half as long pieces).

Then I cut the squash lengthwise, giving me four pieces that were open and half as long as the original squash.

Then I grabbed a trusty spoon with a sturdy handle to scoop out the seeds. I’ve done this with less sturdy spoons. They bent. As you can see from the above picture, the membrane inside the squash is not as moist as that inside a pumpkin — the seeds are also more compact in the drier insides.

And save those seeds! You’re going to use them.

I cut the squash into 1″ wide or so half-moons. After doing that, I got on to what ended up being my favorite part of the meal: caramelizing the seeds. I melted 1 Tbsp of margarine in a pan and put the seeds in on low-ish heat. Move them around constantly so they don’t stick or get burnt! After 2-3 minutes, add 1/2 Tbsp of brown sugar. Keep ’em moving for about 5 minutes or until brownish and caramelized. So good.

After the seeds have been removed from the pan and set aside for later, the squash goes into the pan, gets drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then 1/2 cup of water goes into the pan. Cover, and let cook for 15+ minutes or until you can stab quite easily with a fork. The texture will be really smooth and soft. Watch them at the end — the bottoms of mine got a little overdone, I think partially from the leftover sugar in the pan.

Remove to a plate and cover with seeds.

Yummers! I love that the shape of the squash is retained — and delicata is the only winter squash whose skin is edible, so you get that lovely color too. This was way more delicious than I expected. The seeds were sweet and toasty, and the squash had a really smooth texture and wonderful flavor, all by itself. I ate mine quite happily.

This was the right amount of squash for two people. You could, of course, make it for more by using more squash! This recipe came from my UCSC CSA cookbook — I feel like it was such a simple way of making it that it’s okay to reproduce here.

And hey, I also made some totally non-vegan Snickerdoodles from a family recipe. I’m pretty proud of how they turned out, but I guess that’s what happens with a good recipe!

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