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I didn’t do much cooking yesterday or today–I went out to lunch with a friend, and then had pizza for dinner (and then for breakfast, and then for lunch). But I DID indulge in one of my favorite activities:  baking. I made some vegan chocolate and butterscotch chip cookies. If you live on the East Coast, the super-generic butterscotch chips sold at Food Lion (they’re just called “butterscotch morsels”) are vegan.

The basic recipe is Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies from VegWeb. I added 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips, 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, and I substituted 1/2 cup of plain light soymilk for the 1/4 cup of water called for. The cookies came out with a nice crunch on the outside (probably due to the turbinado sugar) and a chewy center, and they aren’t overwhelmingly sweet. Friendboy praised them extensively (between these and the pumpkin muffins I am “the best baker [he] knows,” even ahead of his ex-gf and her peanut butter cup cookies) and I sent him home with a generous bag of them to share with his roommates.

I’m going to use the rest of the butterscotch chips in butterscotch-pear muffins later this week, to further indulge Friendboy’s love of sweets, affinity for muffins, and admiration of my baking skills.

Friendboy was feeling sick today, and spent most of the afternoon reading or napping and making sad, sick noises. I am a huge compassionate soft-hearted girl, so I offered to make him soup for dinner. I ran through a list of possibilities–tomato, carrot, bean and barley, pumpkin–but he didn’t have any preference, so I went with one of my favorite combinations, kale and great northern beans. I don’t usually make it with barley, but I wanted to get as much good healthy stuff into him as possible, so I tossed some in.

Kale and White Bean Soup (with Barley)
2 1/2 cups water (or broth)
2 cups shredded kale
1 cup canned great northern beans, rinsed
1 medium-size carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/4 sleeve of Gimme Lean vegan sausage, or about 3.5 oz of your preferred vegan sausage
1 vegan stock cube (I use Telva Kosher Vegetable broth cubes; omit if using broth instead of water)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Grease your hands with a little bit of oil or margarine, and form the Gimme Lean into small balls (about 1/4 inch or so each). If using another kind of vegan sausage, dice/cube/roll as you see fit. Heat 1T olive oil in a pot, and brown the “sausage.” When the sausage is browned, add the garlic and onions and let cook until onions are translucent. Stir in the kale–two cups will look like a lot, but it will shrink down–and the carrots, and add one cup of water. Cover and let sit over medium heat for a few minutes while the kale cooks down. Crush and add the stock cube. Add the seasonings and the beans and stir. Cover and let it cook down for another five minutes or so, then add the remaining cup and a half of water and the barley. Cover and let sit over low heat until the barley is cooked, about fifteen or twenty minutes. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. Serves 2 as a main course, would serve 4 as an appetizer.

On the side were saltine crackers, plus ice water for Friendboy and orange juice for me.

I’m sure this seems ridiculous, but of all of the things I cooked over the past couple of days, I was most excited about blueberry pancakes. Not because I had a surplus of blueberries kicking around and not because I am particularly fond of blueberry pancakes, but because I have never IN MY LIFE successfully made pancakes before this week. They always came out lumpy, thin, translucent, burnt, or rubbery, no matter what recipe I followed. Scratch? Failure. Boxed mixes? Failure. Who messes up making boxed pancake mix? I do, every time.

But the stars aligned on Thursday morning, and I pulled off perfect light, round pancakes. Accompanying these blueberry-cinnamon pancakes are a cup of Greek yogurt topped with three-berry preserves, red grapes, and Gimme Lean vegan sausage.

Next up are vegan chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. The recipe:
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 16-oz can of pumpkin puree, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, Ener-G egg replacer (2 eggs’ worth), 1 1/4 cups vegan cane sugar, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, and 2/3 cup of vegan chocolate chips.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonguetrip/3957097056/in/photostream/

 

At Whole Foods the other day, I discovered that Gimme Lean (my favorite vegan sausage) also comes in a beef-style version, so I bought some to make meatballs. I thought about just serving them with spaghetti, but my friendboy had a meatball sub for lunch and it sounded good to me. “Meatballs” browned in olive oil, served on a toasted sesame bun with tomato sauce and an Italian six-cheese blend that my roommate uses for pizza. On the side are braised brussels sprouts with carrots and onions and a green salad with grape tomatoes.

I was not in a good mood today, so I went with something very lazy and comforting for dinner. The recipe comes from the Jif peanut butter website and is called “Easy Peanut Pasta Twists.” One of my former roommates used to make this dish, and while the ingredients seem kind of like a strange combination (peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, chili powder, crushed red pepper, garlic, ketchup), it’s spicy and creamy and delicious. I didn’t even bother to plate it, I just ate it out of the serving bowl with a tall glass of orange juice and a Law and Order marathon.

Veganmofo III is about to begin in October. While I didn’t have a blog until this year, I followed Veganmofos I and II. I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian, not a vegan, but I will be going vegan for the month of October to participate. I was a vegan for several years, and I “reverted” to vegetarianism after a period of serious illness during which I lost a lot of weight. I wasn’t gaining weight back fast enough on a vegan diet, and so I returned to eating eggs and dairy. It bugs me a lot, but I feel… fallen? Disgraced? Strangely religious language to use, but lacking a religion, veg*nism is an important part of my ethical views and I feel like I’ve let down myself and factory farmed animals by falling off the vegan wagon.

So I’ll be a vegan again for the month of October, eating and blogging exclusively vegan food every day for thirty-one days.

Once upon a time, my grandmother gave me a giant multi-pound bag of Israeli couscous. Nearly a year later, I still have trouble coming up with things to do with the stuff. Tonight some of it was incorporated into a straightforward pasta salad with radishes, grape tomatoes, diced red onion, diced cucumber, diced red pepper, garlic, and apple cider vinegar.

To go along with the pasta salad, I also made some cabbage steamed in vinegar and great northern beans with Gimme Lean vegan “sausage” and paprika.

Also, some seedless red grapes. I’m not a big grape-eater, but they were on sale, so now I have a very large bag of them and they need to be eaten.

The pasta salad was tasty, but I don’t care for the texture of Israeli couscous and I wouldn’t use it at all if I didn’t have a giant bag of it. The beans were great–I love the combination of beans and Gimme Lean. Usually I put them in soups together, but they’re just as friendly with each other like this. I didn’t care for the cabbage cooked like this, but I didn’t have the necessary two hours to braise it.

I had swine flu. No, really. It was very similar to the regular flu, except that I have asthma, and developed a lot of difficulty breathing because of it. I ended up on several different steroids, antibiotics, and expectorants to keep me from developing a secondary infection in my lungs. With all of these things together, I ended up not eating very much last week.

The night before I got sick, I had some friends over and I whipped together some Southern cooking for our dinner. Clockwise from the top left:  fried green tomatoes; fruit salad with raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and red grapes; butterbeans with peppers and onions; and spicy cheddar grits (made with stoneground Anson Mills grits, which I LOVE–I will never go back to quick grits). The butterbeans were actually the hit component of dinner, everybody liked them.

And the next day, I had a 101-degree fever and a persistant cough, and cooking got put on the back burner for the week. All day every day from Monday to Saturday, I had herbal tea, vegetable broth, electrolyte drinks, and applesauce. My dinner every night was Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable Soup with friendly little cheddar whales swimming about on top.

My first non-soup meal was on Saturday, just a straightforward bowl of couscous with peas and smoked tomato dressing. Very boring, no pictures. On Sunday I fixed myself a simple but tasty breakfast:  scrambled eggs with garlic, blueberries and raspberries, and Mayan Dark Chocolate “coffee.”

For my Sunday dinner, I braised a red cabbage that had been sitting in my fridge all week. I wanted to use it before it turned on me, and I had been planning to make a vinegary slaw for sandwiches, but I didn’t have anything else for sandwiches, so I threw together a carrot, a couple of cloves of garlic, and about 1.5 lbs of cabbage in a pan with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, onion broth, and some seasonings. It went into the oven at 325 degrees for two hours. On the side, I made smashed red potatoes with light Smart Balance and mushroom gravy and some steamed peas with garlic and salt. To round it out, I had a cup of unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon on the side.

This is the beginning of what I hope will be an ongoing blog about what goes on in my kitchen. I’ve been reading (and drooling over) a variety of vegan and vegetarian food blogs since 2005 or so, and while my photography skills are somewhat lacking, I am completely capable of taking a snapshot of a sandwich and writing about it at length.

I am a woman in my twenties. I live with a roommate whose life is run by his sense of wanderlust and an extraordinarily stupid (yet lovable) cat. I have been a vegetarian since 2002, and for a few years in there I was a vegan. I went back to being an ovo-lacto vegetarian for personal reasons, but I may return to the vegan fold someday. I have been cooking for about four years. There are no cookbooks on my shelf, vegetarian or otherwise, but there are a few back issues of magazines like Gourmet, Vegetarian Times, Cook’s Illustrated, and Food + Wine. I cook mostly with fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and whole grain pastas, and a variety of cheeses, although lately I’ve been eating a disproportionate amount of Morningstar products.

These are mostly very simple dishes without any “recipes” involved per se. I moved recently and don’t have all of my kitchen appliances unpacked, and my cupboards are not as well-stocked as I would like.

First up is a couscous salad. Couscous with onions and peas, dressed with a mix of sour cream, Cholula hot sauce, and smoked tomato dressing, over a bed of spring greens. On top are diced tomatoes, feta cheese, and some more of the smoked tomato dressing. On the side is a glass of chocolate almond milk.

 

Next is a wrap and a salad. The wrap filling was sauteed portobella mushrooms, baby bella mushrooms, garlic, red onion, and boiled red potatoes. I spread some mayonnaise and some Cholula on a whole wheat tortilla and topped the filling with feta cheese. The side salad was a base of spring greens, shredded carrot, diced tomatoes, avocado, and smoked tomato dressing.

 

I had a fair amount of wrap filling leftover, so the next day I ate it straight-up as part of my post-class brunch. Accompanying the mushrooms and potatoes are scrambled eggs with diced green tomatoes and jalapenos topped with cheddar, diced jazz apples, and a slice of double fiber toast spread with Smart Balance and Irish whiskey marmalade. I love my sectional plates, it makes every meal feel like an elementary school cafeteria.

 

I have a virus which might be a mild case of swine flu, so I might not be up to anything culinarily exciting, but I do have a lot of pictures from the past couple of weeks saved up. Either way, more will be forthcoming.

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