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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Last night, I had a date. A date with an eggplant.

Eggplant and I have had a touch-and-go relationship. Well, actually, there’s never been much touching. Maybe a one-night stand at my favorite Sri Lankan restaurant where they actually know how to prepare eggplant. Usually, though, my relationship with eggplant consists of me finding it in mediocre grilled vegetable sandwiches that are the only thing on the menu I can eat. The eggplant is always squishy.

So I tried last night to make amends with eggplant and cook something delicious. Here was my game plan: fried polenta, broiled eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted Anaheim pepper, balsamic onions. Pretty much everything I read recommended some combination of eggplant-tomato-pepper. Makes sense, as they’re all in season around the same time.

By the way, did you know eggplant is a berry? And in the same family as tomatoes? Never woulda guessed.

Anyway, the players:
– Balsamic onions: Slice an onion (I used red) into rings and saute over medium-low heat in olive oil until translucent and wiggly. Move to a bowl and cover in balsamic vinegar. Allow to steep until you’re ready to use them.
– Roasted pepper: I roasted my Anaheim pepper directly over the stove flame. I’m not sure I like setting things kind-of on fire in my kitchen. However, it worked well.

– Sun-dried tomatoes: Reconstituted in olive oil, which I then used to brush on the eggplant.
– Eggplant: Sliced into 1/2″ circles and salted for quite a while — an hour? more? Broiled for 5-ish minutes each side as in this recipe.
– Polenta: Pre-made polenta roll (will try to make my own soon), sliced into 1/2″ circles and pan-fried in olive oil.

The results?

Really good! The polenta had a little bit of a crust and lent a sweetness to the dish’s foundation. The eggplant was not squishy and had remarkable flavor — I think I’ll peel it next time, as the skins got a little tough. The tomatoes were just a little tangy and chewy, providing a nice complement to the roasted pepper. The balsamic onions, though, were what really tied the dish together, picking up on the tanginess of the tomatoes while making the polenta and eggplant more interesting.

I am so making this again. I really surprised myself!

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On a whim, I bought some coconut milk ice cream last night. I opted for Coconut Bliss ice cream, choosing Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge. How could I not?

Oh my goodness. It was delicious — a sturdy enough chocolate flavor, not too sweet but avoiding bitterness, with chunks of real (!) hazelnuts. The coconut flavor from the coconut milk was subtle but added a richness to the chocolate and really brought out the hazelnut flavors. The texture was incredible, possessing a smoothness and creaminess that, although light, didn’t feel airy.

Best of all, Coconut Bliss is totally vegan and free of soy, dairy, and even sugar. It’s sweetened with agave syrup, which is supposed to be a more stable sugar for the body, evening out any blood sugar spikes that would normally happen. Agave has the added bonus of being totally vegan, for those of you for whom that is an issue. Apparently, too, coconut milk offers “better” fats that work with the metabolism, so don’t get scared off by the seemingly high fat content. The ingredient list is simple, and I easily recognized all its components. With its fair trade chocolate ingredients thrown in there, this seems to be the most well thought out and conscientious ice cream I’ve ever had.

This is absolutely my new favorite ice cream. The richness of the texture and flavor, combined with the responsibility Coconut Bliss takes for the quality and production of its ice cream, totally sold me. I can’t wait to try the other flavors (which include Cherry Amaretto and Mint Galactica).

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I woke up this morning. It’s October. It’s been October for a week now. And what was the thing that got me out of bed?

Pumpkin! It’s pumpkin-flavored-coffee-drink season!!

Decaf pumpkin soy latte. Seasonal flavored goodness.

And, of course, the (October) February Lady Sweater continues apace. I’ve got a few more inches left on the body and then it’s on to the arms. I may be a convert to top-down knitting for sweaters. Call me an instant gratification fiend. Go on, do it!

Decided to commit a little time tonight to a more epic dinner, since the boy’s been a little stressed. How very domestic of me. Enter: vegan “chicken” Caesar salad from Veganomicon, complete with home-made dressing, home-made croutons, plus some of the delicious tofu I keep making that I just can’t get over.

I loved the tanginess of the dressing, plus the fact that, hello, my salad dressing is made of to-freakin-fu so I can eat as much of it as I want. The croutons were a little tedious, but a good adventure. And this tofu keeps performing! It was the perfect complement to the lemon of the dressing, and cut the intensity of the garlic nicely.

He and I both reek to high heaven right now, but it was worth it.

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Friends, colleagues, fellow vegetarians and vegans alike,

Do you struggle with tofu? Do you feel as though you’re one of those infomercial people in black-and-white, wrestling with preparing tofu? Have you gotten your hopes up for a broiled, steamed, fried, or baked tofu recipe, hoping this could be “the one,” only to be met with disappointing results?

Well, join me in the color part of the infomercial. I think I have figured out how to make tofu perfectly, every time.

I’m going to walk you through the steps. No monthly payments.

1. Procure some tofu for yourself. I used this:

I’ve found that tofu that comes with minimal water is usually the tofu that has the best texture. Tofus that come in plastic containers seem to hold more water. Obviously, you want extra firm or firm tofu.

2. Cut your tofu into 1/4 – 1/2″ slices.

This will give you a high surface area to volume ratio (crucial for flavor absorption and crispiness), but also give you tofu that, in the end, is good for anything.

3. Freeze your tofu for a few hours! This helps to really firm up the texture and give it a very chicken-like texture — I like a sturdy tofu. This is a departure from how I was taught to make this tofu, and I think it’s an improvement.

4. Thaw your tofu.

5. Marinate your tofu.

Marinade recipe: juice of 1 lemon PLUS 2 – 3 Tbsp of soy sauce, PLUS a little water if you don’t have enough for your tofu to soak up. You could add minced garlic to this, or red pepper flakes.
Let this sit for at least an hour, turning regularly to make sure it is evenly coated. You should see that your tofu is getting darker, because it is soaking up the marinade.

6. Dredging time! Put some (1/2 c?) nutritional yeast into a container a little bigger than your tofu slices, add a piece of tofu, shake to coat, flip, repeat until all the surfaces of the tofu are covered in yeast. The nutritional yeast will soak up some of the moisture, so you may have to flip a few times.

7. Frying time. Heat a frying pan, with enough oil to coat, over medium-ish heat (depends how hot your burner is). Fry each piece until golden-brown, about 3 minutes. Flip. Repeat.

Hooray! Tasty tofu with a bit of a crust. Should keep at least a week — probably way longer — in the fridge.

Ideas for using:
– eat with your hands
– use on a sandwich
– slice up in salads (I did this last night and I think it’d be good in a “chicken” Caesar)
– add to a rice bowl for some extra flavor and protein
– substitute for breakfast “sausage”
– eat with ketchup and a little hot sauce instead of “chicken” nuggets
– make “chicken” parmesan

Go forth and make tofu! I’m looking forward to cooking amazing tofu from here on out…

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Ugh. It appears that a weekend of traveling and one drink too many has left me sick. What’s a girl to do?
I have been playing this game all day in bed. Go doggy, go! Gotta say, it’s a good way to amuse myself.

But on the food front:

I’m whipping out one of my favorite vegan cookbooks, How It All Vegan. This cookbook, Garden of Vegan and La Dolce Vegan are my go-to cookbooks and have been with me since high school. They’re well-loved, with oil stains, pages falling out, writing all over my favorite recipes.

When I’m sick, I always get myself some kombucha and mix it with pomegranate juice and nurse the mixture all day. I figure there are enough antioxidants in there to give my body what it needs to fight the ickies. I’m also a fan of, early in the getting-sick process, mincing some garlic and putting it in a spoon, then covering that with honey and swallowing everything. It sounds weird but it is a good way to get raw garlic without killing your stomach.

So I’m whipping up a batch of Jana’s Winter Sicky Soup, which appears in How It All Vegan. I’m hoping it does the trick.

Ingredients:

1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled & cubed
4 medium carrots, sliced
1/2-1 c burdock roots, sliced
1/2 dandelion ROOT (I almost got leaves), chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
4 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
8 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
8 c vegetable stock or water
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp curry powder
pinch of salt
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
3 lemon slices
4 whole leaves of collard greens, roughly chopped
1/4 c miso
1/4 c green onions, chopped (garnish)

In large soup pot, saute the squash, carrots, and burdock and dandelion roots in oil on medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes or until ingredients are tender. Add the onions, ginger, and garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Pour in the stock and add the cayenne, curry, salt, rosemary, lemon, and collard greens and simmer on medium-low head for 40 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in miso*, and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with green onions. Makes 4-6 servings.

*Miso should never be boiled, as it will destroy all the good stuff in it.

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I introduce to you, the food that powered me through college:

There’s a reason my breakfast today is arranged in a heart shape: I love this quick, simple, healthy, vegan! breakfast. It requires little hands-on time — perfect for rushing out the door to an 8am class — and is sturdy enough to sit in your stomach until there’s time to get a real meal.

Preparation is simple. Toasted bread (I used sourdough), plus some margarine. I use Earth Balance because it is trans-fat free and the best for any kind of vegan cooking/baking. Once the margarine has melted, sprinkle nutritional yeast on top. The yeast will soak up the moisture from the margarine, and that’s when you add MORE.

The result? A cheesy delicious meal on the go. Please note that it’s really good on bagels. This would also make a good accompaniment to soup, especially if you were to add garlic bread spices.

Hooray Vegan MoFo!

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I just found out today from For the Love of Guava about Vegan MoFo, a blog movement from The Post-Punk Kitchen — the same kids that brought you Veganomicon. This is my most recent vegan cookbook purchase, and a regular in my kitchen, so hell yes I’m in!

The idea is simple: one blog post every weekday for the month of October about vegan food. I’ve been getting back to my vegan roots lately and limiting the amount of dairy I include in my food, in an effort to eat more grains, tofu, vegetables… and not frustrate my digestive system.

So here’s to delicious vegan food! I can’t wait. I retroactively tagged my yummy tofu recipe as Vegan MoFo, since it is totally vegan and incredibly delicious. And in October!

Today’s (vegan!) dinner: Sarah-riffic Fried Tofu, brown rice, miso-tahini sauce (a Veganomicon recipe), kale, and avocado.

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