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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

I’ve been reminded the past few weeks why Spring may be my favorite season, and I need only one word for it: asparagus.

I’ve been pining or asparagus season since, oh, November or so. Granted, this is California, so I could theoretically get asparagus anytime I want, but it’s usually conventionally grown and from Mexico or Chile. With a vegetable that’s technically a young shoot and is best when it’s fresh, there’s no way this stuff is going to cut it.

When I spied local, fresh asparagus at my farmers’ market three weeks ago, my jaw literally dropped. I’ve been buying a pound of it every week since, which I usually consume singlehandedly in two sittings.

roast-asparagus

The above is one of my more successful asparagus endeavors: roast asparagus (with salt and pepper), a poached egg, and a miso butter sauce on the side. Dipping the asparagus in the egg yolk was great, and the miso butter — get this vegans — tasted exactly like parmesan cheese. As one who’s been eschewing dairy lately, this discovery made my evening. (Miso butter recipe here, I used margarine: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/19/dining/193crex.html)

However, pan-roasting asparagus turned out to be the best option. Even better than roasting. I made a giant plate of it for me and my sweetie; prep was little more than cutting the asparagus spears into bite-ish-sized piece and sauteeing in olive oil over medium-high heat for five minutes, then cutting the heat to low for the last five. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and you have a meal fit for a king. Or queen. Or whatever royalty you want to be.

We’ve also started enjoying our CSA share — our second pick-up is tomorrow. Our CSA seems to favor a really wide variety of vegetables. Last week, it was parsnips, which I’d never had. We discovered that we really like parsnips. Veggie prep this week has been roasting them — a mix of a parsnip, some carrots, a beet, red onion, some fennel root, coated with olive oil and put in a pan with about a cup of veggie broth. Roasty at 350F for an hour; dress with mixture of (2 T soy sauce + 1 T balsamic vinegar), salt, pepper, some cayenne, fresh herbs (we had parsley). We found feta to be a nice addition as well. Also good with brown rice. Pretty much any root veggies would do well in this way of preparing, which I found in my CSA cookbook. Note to veggie lovers out there: CSA cookbooks are great, if you can get your hands on them.

roasted-root-vegetables

Here’s to Spring and all of the adventures it brings.

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Starting my new job today (!!!), so a quick post full of quick vegan noms.

Fast and easy vegan breakfast, take 3-ish:

How to: Fry up some potatoes in olive oil. After flipping (once brown on one side), add soyrizo. Fry a little more. Nom. Swoon.

Quick vegan dinner in October:

Souuuuuup. Minestrone soup. Ok, ready? Set?
– Pan. Olive oil. Onions + garlic. Saute (no burning!) until slightly wiggly.
– Add carrots, celery, potatoes, other harder veggies of your choosing. Saute a little more.
– Add pasta, chopped kale/cabbage, small can of crushed tomatoes (with liquid), veggie stock to more than cover. Also add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning. Simmer for a while — until pasta is cooked.
– Again, nom.

Easy like… something that’s really easy, like… slipping on a banana peel. Or, considering I’ve never done that, someting easier. Like sleeping in on the weekend. Only tastier.

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I’m drowning in greens. No, seriously.

I might be keeping them in my laundry room. There's no more room in the fridge!

I might be keeping them in my laundry room. There's no more room in the fridge!

I came home with a LOT of greens from the farmers’ market. I already had some beet greens and one bunch of golden chard (I couldn’t resist, and it was one dollar). Then at the market on Saturday I bought two bunches of kale (russian and some other kind) and two bunches of rainbow chard, all from a vendor who has the smallest most tender greens. But then my partner in crime at the stand told me to see another farmer down the way for greens as the market was closing. He gave me six bunches of greens — four kale (one curly, two lactino, one russian purple), and two rainbow chard. That’s a total of ten bunches of greens.

Naturally, I’m looking for a way to get through them. Some of the daintier chard became a breakfasty thing yesterday morning. One beautiful bundle of the smaller-leafed kale was destined last night for colcannon. Colcannon, I learned today, is a traditional Irish dish (some say the traditional Irish dish), meant for serving on Halloween. How appropriate! It is made with a combination of potatoes, onion or leeks, and cabbage or kale. Differing sources will tell you that cabbage or kale are the more correct green. Considering that kale is a relative of cabbage, I say it’s all good.

Here’s how I made colcannon — a delicious, healthy comfort food.

You need:
– Potatoes (I used one big one and four little ones), chopped into 1″ cubes
– One medium leek, cut into 1/2″ pieces
– One bunch kale, stems trimmed and cut into 1″ strips
– Milk of your choice, 1/2 – 1 cup
– Margarine or butter-like substance of your choice
– Salt and pepper

Start by boiling the potatoes in salted water. These take the longest. Then move on to the leeks (wash well!), which are sauteed in olive oil on medium heat until soft. The kale gets cooked (see how to cook kale) — do this last, as greens get cool very quickly and only take 5-7 minutes.

Once potatoes are fork-pierceable, drain water and transfer to bowl. Add leeks and 1/2 – 1 cup of milk. Mash. I like some chunks in there (and I leave the potato skins on anyway). Season liberally with salt and pepper. Create a crater, into which you put the (drained) kale. Top with a pat of butter-like substance. Curl up and carb out.

This is dirt-cheap and takes under an hour. Making kale tonight illustrated to me what a difference good produce makes in meal preparation — the kale I got was made of very young leaves, which cooked quickly and were tender and not bitter at all. If you’re looking for how to cook kale to make it taste good and so that it isn’t bitter, get ye to a farmers’ market! Get good kale! Your efforts will be rewarded.

Also, a reminder of why we wash our vegetables:

Go forth and celebrate the coming of Halloween with some colcannon!

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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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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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