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Happy Chinese new year everyone! For once I actually got to celebrate it, in a way – and on the correct day as well! At least, this was my lunch on the 26th. What tickles me more than anything is that I was able to make vegan tofu potstickers with an empty fridge boasting only carrots, cabbage and tofu. Because that’s all you really need! Admittedly they were wanting for some sprightly green onion inside, but otherwise they were purrrrrrfect. Chewy gyoza can be for lunch anytime it wants at my house. Oh, and the star of the meal was actually the Hot Mustard Dipping Sauce from Vegan Fire & Spice. Two minutes to make and so flavourful!

As for the year of the Ox:

“This year will no doubt bear fruit, but the motto is: “No work, no pay!” Time waits for no man; if we are too lazy to sow then we can blame no one if we have nothing to reap. We will find a great many things requiring our attention, and the list of what needs to be done will seem endless. The Spartan influence of the Ox will be a constantly cracking whip over our heads. Better to apply oneself diligently than waste time arguing with the authorities. They will prevail, as the year of the Ox favors discipline.”
Feng Shui index

You know what? I can get behind that. I’ve been drawing temples and mandalas lately and I will be completely honest – it is tedious as all get-out. But I really do feel it will pay off later on. And I don’t mind working hard in other areas of life too right now, perhaps with no evident reward. It’s almost… liberating. I forget myself a bit.

But that’s enough about life! Onto the good stuff, the foodstuff! ———–>

Okay, so I couldn’t even believe I was eating this soup while I was eating it. It was lavender, and it tasted cheesy. I mean, it was magical princess soup or something. I’d made the cauliflower bisque from Vegan World Fusion before (it is SO good and easy, it’s in my permanent repertoire), but never with a purple cauliflower. I also added delicious chunkies to it this time, like corn niblets and extra bits of cauliflower and ate it with a tiny little henge of caraway & raisin whole wheat soda bread.


And would you believe I didn’t plan the symmetrical photo-op? Or even the symmetrical dinner? I guess it’s not surprising that I was going for blended soups and little toasted starchy things though, it’s been a flurried-snow january and I’ve been nursing a flu for a while. This one is the mellow lentil sniffle soup from Eat Drink & Be Vegan and I think it’s actually my favourite lentil soup ever so far. There’s something just so… right about it. It doesn’t try to be anything but nicely balanced and nutritious and slurpy, and with some squash biscuits alongside I couldn’t ask for a better snowy day dinner.

Oh, do you remember when I asked if anyone had any advice for non-sugary cranberry recipes? I think someone mentioned a cranberry dhal, which totally piqued my interest and that inspiration led to this creamy sweet potato & romano bean concoction, served with lemon rice cooked with a whole lemon. I was really wanting sour that day, and this was perfection.

Just the other day I made vegan*core’s snickerdoodles because I’d never had one before and it was on the mental list of cookies to try someday (and also I had a tarot party to go to and cinnamon-sugar just seemed like a good idea to bring with me). The photo is terrible, but the cookies are fantastic. They’re a white flour and sugar-fest (I only bake like this when I know I can give them away!), with a perfect slight-chew texture and crispy edges, and oh, they’re gorgeous too. Like shimmery brown stars…. mmmm.

Another bad photo of something very yummy – I made essentially a flatbread pizza the other day on a homemade chapati with basil chipotle hummous on the bottom and tomatoes and peppers on top. But the real special part was what I managed to make out of leftover pureed squash. I only added nutritional yeast, lemon, olive oil, garlic powder, salt & pepper, but once it was baked up it tasted so much like a cheezy thing. Something gooey to sink the teeth into! I was pleasantly surprised!

Finally – possibly my favourite chinatown find of late – Hopia Baboy. It’s a Filipino wintermelon pastry flavoured with green onion!! Astoundingly good. You just pop it into a very hot oven for 5 minutes or so to get toasty and flaky and then oh my goodness, it’s like an instant sugar pie with sesames and a haunting bit of onion that totally works. I think some of the time they’re flavoured with pork fat, which is slightly horrifying, but these ones were clean and clear. And they last forever. I bought a little blue package of them months ago and I just pull one out of the fridge and bake it whenever I want something aromatic and sticky to nosh. Sooooo good!

I’m sorry, I’ll make a real post tomorrow (pink soup!), but for now this is the awesomest thing ever:

I don’t remember what prompted the lasagna. Something prompted it… oh yeah! Friends came over eating giant gloppy plates of cheesy tvp-veggie lasagna last saturday and it stuck in my mind. Then I woke up on sunday slightly hungover and thinking that making lasagna would be a kind of ideal and relaxing way to spend the afternoon. I was right, too… so laid back this was. I made some tofu ricotto with fresh basil and a roasted red pepper sauce with nutmeg, then layered with whole wheat noodles, sliced mushrooms, zucchini, loads of swiss chard, and some ground up almonds, sesames and lemon zest on top. It turned out so exactly like I wanted – fresh and vegetabley and clean, and hearty too! I ended up eating most of it cold, too, like the risotto.

Later on… I haven’t actually been baking all that much lately, but I figured maybe trying to make a single cookie might amuse me and get some chocolate into my system, so last night I tried. Here’s the measurements, in case you’re curious…

dry ingredients:
1 tbsp ground up oats (I used my fingers to grind)
1 tbsp flour
2 tsp unsweetened coconut
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of baking soda
pinch of chinese 5-spice powder
wet ingredients:
2″ of banana, mushed to a pulp
1/2 tsp canola oil
splash of vanilla soymilk (if needed)

12 chocolate chips

** Add wet to dry, bake @ 350 for 12-15 minutes, until it’s glossy and browned. Would be mad good with tea and apple juice methinks.

It’s more like a chewy muffin top than a cookie per se (doubling the sugar might get you a cookier cookie), but I loved it as a near-guiltless snack. My next single cookie experiment will probably run along the lines of lemon-cranberry-almond. Come to think of it, does anyone have any delicious recipes for cranberries that aren’t too indulgent dessert-like? For some amazing reason they’re on for $1 a bag at my favourite grocery store and I can’t think of a darned thing I want to do with them besides eat them out of the freezer and add them to oatmeal. Maybe cranberry bars? I just don’t want to make them into something too sugary…

Oh yeah, speaking of good deals… I found 72% organic non-animal tested moisturizer and actual Scharffen Berger chocolate at the dollar store! The labels are ever-so-slightly off center and the bars are maybe 1 degree convex, like they’d been warm for a second, and I am a happy girl to take the misfit chocolate under my wing. Er, teeth. Yummy. (actually, verdict is I like Lindt better, but it’s nice and fruity with a bit of pepper and I’d like to make a sauce with it maybe)

Yesterday I made some of Melanie’s wonderful hummus, quinoa and broccoli soup. That particular combination got stuck in my head the moment I saw it, and I thought adding 2 cups of hummus to a soup pot was pretty novel. I added tomatoes to it today and loved it even more, but I could probably add tomatoes to ice cream and I would think it improved. :P
I also feel like mentioning that after finishing this bowl I felt just inexplicably amazing. Really, really good and energized, like my belly was a rotating rose. Wish I’d made more!

I came home to this sight the other day. It was kind of funny, actually – I’d just trudged home through a blizzard with visions of hot stew in my head and what do I find but the storm decided to join me in my kitchen!

Ha, it was okay. I managed not to step in any of the puddles and was very very thankful for the crockpot stew I had put on the night before. Yeah, I actually used my crockpot! *shock* my mom would be proud. I had actually been so busy that I acted the great cliche and took it down off the highest shelf I have to put some veganomicon cholent-style ingredients together the night before.

I’m actually not sure if I’m sold on the tarragon + caraway thing… but it was warm and hearty and perfect at the time. (ie: full of potatoes). I added tabasco and corn, too.

Earlier than that (or later? oh I don’t remember. sometime!) I made vcon lemon & pea risotto with roasted red peppers.

I don’t know why people complain about leftover risotto! I actually thought this was tastiest cold out of the fridge, slurped up like cold lemony pudding. I’m weird, yes. I tried Risotto al Salto too, to try it (basically fried up like a fritter), which was fine. But nothing on the ice-cold stuff!

I posted about hoecakes before, so there isn’t much to say about the big yellow thing on the plate – except maybe to amend my recipe to stress than fine cornmeal should be used in a hoecake. This one was coarse which did NOT work anywhere near as well, but ah you learn. The interesting bit, at least to me, is that grayish dip-like blob in the corner. It was very tasty! It’s black bean & orange dip from ED&BV, and it’s a little sweeter than a regular b.bean dip and really great on wraps and things.

In the midst of being busy I made some muffins to take to school. I wonder why I decided to make jammy muffins to put in my bag? Ha ha, anyway, they’re hearty jam-dot muffins from Fran Costigan’s second book. They’re okay… I like that there’s lots of toasted oats and sesame in them, and my mom’s homemade plum jelly. A wee bit heavy, but I subbed some stuff so it could have been my bad.

Over christmas my dad bought me some veggie burgers for christmas eve Burger Night (woohoo!), which happened to be Amy’s California Burgers. They’re soooooo good! They don’t taste a blessed thing like fakey meatstuff, but they DO taste like toasted bulger and mushrooms and loads of other great all-natural things. I had some on buns, and some on salad with tahini dressing and both ways were awesome. I had the last one today though, and I don’t know what to do because I never buy pre-packaged food for myself but I think I’ve fallen in love!

And finally… we call this an economic birthday, or a belated one, or whatever. It’s a full moon tonight and though it’s neither of these boys’ birthdays (although it’s close), it’s definitely always a good time for a chocolate jalapeno cake with ganache topping and strawberries inside. Yeah, I know!! It’s another Extraveganza cake recipe and holy schlamoli, it’s SO tender and delicious and soft peppery perfect, I tried a whole bunch of it that stuck to the cake tin. ^_^;

Word to the wise: the recipe mentions nothing about de-panning this cake, and in fact implies that it shouldn‘t be, I think, at least when you read the icing recipe along with it. I did anyway and it was a total headache cause it was so fluffy and sticky (and criminally delicious. did I mention that?), but I think it came through the operation 97% intact. Minus the chunks I ate. (I’m starting to think that being able to fix cake disasters is as useful as baking one that tastes good… :P)

Anyone else notice how the stuff on top kinda looks like a crab? Not planned! But I like it.

Happy new year everyone! Did you get kissed last night? I got a hug! :)

Maybe it was due to eating those lucky black eyed peas everyone goes on about. I’ve got no problem with an excuse to them, though, being all mushy and sweet and darned adorable with that little black spot. I found out later that the collards they’re traditionally eaten with in the south symbolize paper money, so I missed out on that part, but do you see those basil leaves? Looks leafy and green to me! I even ate this all on lettuce, I’m probably set on the symbolic moolah front. Oh, and the beans themselves were a vegan version of Jukut Murab – a Balinese salad with coconut, tamarind, chile and lime and very very delicious – it’s going into bean salad rotation and will definitely be gracing the table of a potluck sometime in the future. It’s exotic and wonderful on the tongue and easy and healthy and cheap = win!

And speaking of inconceivably delicious food being actually very healthy – stuffed zucchini globes, Isa-style definitely qualify. How had I not made these yet? The millet here is basically a delivery device for tomato-y, olive-y, caper-y superflavour, which doesn’t get any further up my alley. I ate the leftover millet rolled up in steamed red cabbage with a squish of lemon, which forgive me, may have been even tastier than the squash, and um… I even put this stuff on crackers. Recommended!

Oh Extraveganza, shall you be in all my posts and will I never mind? Yes. :)
Especially when you offer recipes like pear and cardamom pudding, zomg. I doubled the cardamom and I shouldn’t have done that, because it became somewhat impossible to NOT have perfumed vanilla sweetness for dinner two night in a row. I am considering making more…

Finally, eek, I made saucy asian takeout style food! I can see why people do this now… It’s kind of a Gyudon (japanese beef and rice bowl) made with eggplant, as per Vegan Ronin‘s excellent adaptation, and somewhere between adding a splash of requisite sriracha and licking my bowl clean this was dreamy good eating. Even the rice happened to be purple in aubergine agreement! Goodness, I think now I’m gonna have to make General Tao’s tofu and cross that dish off my lifetime list now that I’m all hooked on sweet thickened sauces. YUM!

Bonus picture >>>>>>>>>>>>>
My favourite salad these days involves green apple and crushed up organic Wheat Thins, which was inspired by fatoush, if you can believe it. The crackers are sweeter than the apples, and with a noochy citrus dressing it’s a perfect snack.

(can you believe I got organic crackers at the dollar store? madness! I’m not complaining though)

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