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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!

Hurray! As of July 10th I have officially been vegan for a year! It actually feels like forever (and do I count the year I was vegan in high school?), and what a full year of crazy amazing cooking it’s been. I’ve learned so much I can hardly believe it, when all I could really make back then was paratha bread, some lasagna, and maybe a rudimentary curry or two. I wish I had pictures of the weird stuff I managed to come up with — iced guava puddings, lemon carrots, raw onion dip… haha. Oh, the long way I’ve come…

Notably – check out that tempeh bowl up there. Much improved, culinarily, and also – I got to try tempeh for the first time! I LIKE it. Pomme marinated it in some maple syrup, tamari, liquid smoke, and maybe something else drop dead yummy, and we ate it over rice with all the fixings, including nori strips, peppers, daikon, sprouts, and loads of miso-tahini dressing. Magnifique!

And it seems to be becoming a dangerous yet wildly entertaining habit for us to finish dinner and then go make dessert. Mostly for entertainment value, but also for the sugar, you know… these were an adaptation of Dreena’s oatmeal raisin cookie, with chocolate chips instead of raisins, and also cashews. Chewy, perfect… maybe even perfecter with coconut, but still – perfect.

I tried to make plum chutney! It didn’t work at all (note to self: 1 teaspoon of asafoetida is a heck of a lot for one recipe to call for), but boy were the plums pretty.

Plum carnage! So pretty. :D

And then, and then – my actual veganversarry dinner! I actually forgot what day it was, so I was just using up leftovers when I made it, but it’s definitely a testament to my year of vegan-ness that I was able to turn the odds and bobs into well executed dishes. I faked a brown rice crust with toasted sesames and coconut oil, and put into that some blended turnip, carrot, sauteed onion, garlic, kale, coconut cream, maple syrup, garam masala and a bit of lemon and it was pretty damn good!

And marinated broccoli stems (of course). Which are great because they look like flowers, feature fresh basil this time, and get even better the longer they sit in the fridge.

We had it all together with a cold vichyssoise for a nice light summer dinner.

…… and then made cookies. :D

Pomme made little chilled hermit-balls with flax and cocoa and coconut – 100% healthy and chewy and good. And they were a nice foil for….

Crispy, almond-y white sugar city! It’s Terry’s favourite almond cookie from the Veganomicon! The touch of sesame oil in these is inspired, truly. And maybe the chinese-style cookies predicted the future, because Pomme and I ended up wandering to chinatown many hours later to see if a restaurant was open at 11 (it was), if they served vegetarian (they did), and we ordered up a bit of mapo tofu.

Why oh why does mapo tofu come with floating bits of flesh in it???? :(
It was our mistake for assuming that a tofu dish from the normal side of the menu would be safe… but our server was incredibly kind and he didn’t even charge us for the won ton soup that I stupidly ordered thinking “well, it’s just dumplings, right?”.

Yeah, dumplings filled with meat. I’m obviously very good at this eating out business (d’oh!). Anyway, it was an eventful veganversarry, and when the tofu did come, oh was it jiggly and delicious! I do love a good med-firm bean curd. Maybe next veganversarry I’ll think ahead and go to a place that serves up a good hunk of tempeh. Oh, that IS a good idea! :D

It’s interesting these sayings one hears and doesn’t think about, like “cheap as dirt”. Yes, apparently dirt is very very cheap! Shows me. I picked up a ginormous bag yesterday and lovingly transferred my slightly cramped tomato plants to their rightful places in separate pots. They’re so beautiful, and not even so stunted for a few mishaps along the way (icy cold nights with the window accidentally open, and Satchmo deciding to munch on a few of them, ack). I’ve never grown things before, but I hope I get tomatoes by the end of the season. At the very least they make the apartment look great!

So that was the living part. The LEARNING part is hoboy, I should listen when a cookbook author describes something as a warming defense against winter weather, and possibly not make that on a gorgeous sunny evening. I mean, it used up all these mysterious odds and ends of things I had, and I tallied the total cost of this meal to be pennies (so really nothing lost), but I just wasn’t in the mood for braised seitan with chicory and brussel sprouts. The broccoli polenta was awesome, though. Thank goodness for freezers, maybe there’ll be a cold night later on.

And this isn’t living nor learning, but actually the exciting lead-up to what has immediately become my new obsessively favourite dessert thing ever —

Banana chocolate chip bread pudding! Oh yes, oh yes yes yes. Feel the mapley cinnamony soft deliciousness through the computer screen? I hope so, I would devise a device to do so if I could, forget wonka bars through the television, I wanna make bread pudding for everybody.

Seriously, I’m completely gah gah for this, I’ve had it for lunch for the past three days (with, you know, some bean salad so I don’t drop dead of malnutrition). Thumbs up again, Vcon!

Well, now I know what a coulis is (a veg/fruit pureed sauce), and eating a soup with multiple layers and swirling options is always a good thing in my book. It’s from VeganYumYum so there’s no going wrong, really, and this a definite make-again recipe. 40 minutes from grocery bag to dinner table, I think? And shmancy/not-too-shmancy enough to make for a drop-in guest (all you need is roasted red pepper and broccoli). I feel nourished like a queen. :D

I also found out you can roast chestnuts in the microwave! I was all transfixed by the shells steaming open and the steamy/nutty/sweet meats that came out of the nuker-box. Even the burnt one tasted good!

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