Thursday, March 27, 2008

Foodporn roundup

Well I'm feeling a little under the weather today so I figured I'd post some long overdue foodporn.

I go through cookbook phases where I'll make a bunch of stuff from one and not others, and then switch after a while. I went through a Joy of Vegan Baking phase not too long ago; I think it was because I was so excited about going to Germany to work in an archaeological dig this summer, because I made Apfelkuchen and Apfelstrudel. The Apfelstrudel (which I am capitalizing because now that I know German, I capitalize all of my Nouns) was a little harder for me. I used sucanat, which didn't seem to melt as well for the topping. I'd never used phyllo dough before, which was a fun learning experience - it wasn't as scary as I thought! And I hardly ripped anything. I used whole wheat phyllo which gave it a 'healthy' flavor; I think next time I will use regular. It was still really yummy and JP gave it an "om nom nom nom nom nom" (5/5 noms).

Crunchy appley goodness

The Apfelkuchen was sooooo easy and so yummy. The only annoying part was slightly cooking the apples but it's so worth it, it makes the cake so suculent and tasty. I again used sucanat, which made my cake kind of brown but it was exactly how I remembered it in Germany. It was my first time using a springform pan; damn those suckers are convenient!

We wanted to eat it all in one sitting

I made biscuits and gravy for the second time but decided to use a recipe other than the VwaV; I liked the VwaV version but I found the gravy to be too thick (probably due to me not blending enough, I'm gonna make it again). This one (from the VFF) was okay. The biscuits were excellent and puffy and wonderful. The gravy however took for-freaking-ever. Also, because the grocery store was out of plain West Soy, I used plain Pacific Soy and Jesus FUCK was that a mistake. It made the gravy sweet, it was pretty dang nasty. JP and I put our heads together and added a shitton of salt, black pepper, two crumbled vegan Trader Joe's sausage patties, thyme, sage, and basil, and salvaged it but will definitely NOT be using Pacific Soy again. Still, it came out alright.

I'm pretty sure we ate all the biscuits that day

I wanted to give a shoutout to my newest favorite quick meal. I had a really freaking busy term (UO's on the quarter system, so I just finished finals last week and begin a new term on Monday), and spent way way WAY too much time stressing out. Enter peanut tofu and stir-fried bok choy. When I got home from school, I would press a block of tofu for an hour or longer, depending on how late it was. Then I'd chop it up into little cubes, throw it into a pan with some peanut oil, and let it get nice and brown on one side, and then flip them all to get all nice and toasty on the other side. About this time I'd take my bok choy and chop it all up (leavs AND stems - 2 veggies for the price of 1!), throw it in a pan with some sesame oil, salt, pepper, and tamari, and let it cook down. Right before I took the tofu out of the pan (if there's a lot of leftover oil you can drain it, I just never really used very much), I poured some store-bought peanut sauce all over it. Easy as pie, and not super unhealthy. Sometimes if I was feeling fancy I'd make some quinoa or brown rice to go with it. Best meal in the world if you're typing in specimen names for Old World cercopithecids for hours on end and realize at 9pm, that maybe it's time to cook dinner. If I haven't already convinced you of my love for that which is bok choy, allow me to elaborate. It's cheap, easy, delicious, and super healthy. It goes with freakin' everything. It smells amazing while cooking. Leftovers heat up nicely. I'm having a love affair with it and we're going to have a green leafy crunchy stalky lovechild named Filbert.

How noble, how simple thou art!

So now on to the fancy stuff. Kelly and I both came home to our parents' in California for Easter. Unfortunately I didn't take NEARLY as many pictures as I should have on Easter, because there was a ton of yummy vegan food. Kelly and I were in charge of making brunch that morning, which was Easter Pie, which I stumbled upon at VegCooking while looking at Italian food recipes. It's like a cross between a breakfast quiche and a potpie. Everyone loved it. The crust was hard to handle but so worth it, very flaky and 'butter'y and melt in your mouth. The filling is tofu, spices, parsley, and Lifelight 'sausage' - and is just amazing. We loved every second of eating it. I ended up adding some tumeric to the recipe to make the tofu a little more yellow. The sausage didn't crumble super well, but I liked it that way because it made these lovely little spicy sausage pockets! Also, instead of using 1/4 cup soy parmesan, I used 1/2 cup shredded FYH cheddar. I liked it.



Kelly made some lovely potatoes for breakfast as well, using the VwaV recipe but frying instead of baking them, for extra fatty goodness!

Mmmmm potaters

The final product! Mine was the only piece that didn't have its crust break in some way. It's not superpretty but it was very yummy. Like quiche with extra crust. Who doesn't love piecrust? Terrorists, that's who.

Final product

One last picture of the pretty table with Tina the grumpy cat in the b/g

Unfortunately I neglected to take a picture of the lemon cheesecake with fresh strawberries that I made from Joy of Vegan Baking, or the vegan Hummingbird Cake my mom and dad made. Both were astoundingly delicious and Mom and Dad both agreed that the Hummingbird Cake tastes even better when made vegan. Oh well, next time

That's all I got for now. I'm going to go poke Kelly to update more.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vegan trilobites?!

But I thought they were detritus feeders?! Badum *ksh*.

They're in mating pairs, like horseshoe crabs!

Haha. Geology brings out the nerd in me (...not that it wasn't fully out in the first place). I stumbled across a recipe on the PPK for veganized trilobite cookies the day before my last GEOL 431 (Invertebrate Paleontology) lab. There's only three of us in the class, plus the professor, plus the awesome graduate teaching fellow Christine, so I decided to make cookies.

For anyone who doesn't know, trilobites are fossil arthropods that lived during the paleozoic, and are pretty awesome. They have funny lobed bodies and big heads and primitive eyes. I think they're so awesome I have a tattoo of one. I win the trilobite-liking game. Anyway.

I was all amped up to make these too, because as you can see from the recipe, it uses a cookie dough press/frosting gun, which I own! My grandma randomly gave me one before I was vegan, which I thanked her for and promptly thought, "Shah, like, I'll never use this." Since then however it has saved my ass several times during frosting emergencies and I've come to love it.

However, mine is small enough and crappy enough to be good for frosting and ONLY frosting, as I found out. The dough is thick enough that it kept popping the top off and basically not doing anything I wanted. So I basically rolled the dough into little oblong balls, pressed them into a roughly ovalish, trilobite-ish shape. I pressed ridges into them with a fork, using the peanut butter cookie method but only in one direction. Then I used a knife to make the three lophs, sprinkled them with purple sugar sprinkles, and baked.

The chocolate was a pain in the ass. I didn't have any semisweet and had no money to buy any (welcome to the life a student). So I threw together 8 oz of chocolate from a ragtag assemblage (get it, assemblage? Geology joke! Wah wah wah...) of vegan dark chocolate bars I had and melted them. They were REALLY thick though - not suitable for dipping trilobite heads in! So I added a little soymilk. BAD IDEA. The chocolate got super grainy so instead of dipping in chocolate I was kind of scooping and mushing the chocolate onto their heads. I used heart shaped sprinkles for eyes, and into the fridge they go! The chocolate ended up tasting SUPER yummy and creamy though. Hmm.

The cookies tasted FABULOUS. Very buttery, almost like shortbread. O_o I was impressed, and so was everyone who ate them (all omnis except for one vegetarian). Make them to win over that geology geek you have a crush on!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Take a deep vegan breath

So this is another article for vegans who are newish, like Kelly and I. She had posted a entry on here about a stressful day and trying to find vegan food on a quick break during a long day in a grocery store she didn't usually go to and how everything kind of built up and became WAY more stressful than it should have been.

I know many of you who have been vegan for a long time are probably thinking, pffft, it's a grocery store, how can you not find vegan things to eat? Okay, fine, maybe you adjusted to being vegan really quick. Yeah, maybe some folks can scan ingredients and spot the 'whey' immediately? But how many of you had a moment of panic the first time you stepped into the store after going vegan? What's vegan, what's not, how can you tell, I'm too nervous to ask someone, oh my god I only have 10 minutes and then I have to be back at the workshop and I'm really hungry and I've had a crappy day and URRRRRRRRGH.

The important thing to remember, is that it's not about being perfect. It's about not commodifying animals, and not supporting suffering. If you make a mistake, or are nervous, stop, think about what you're trying to do by being vegan, and remember that.

Kelly and I are both students (Kelly = illustration, me = anthropology/German/geology), and I have a job as well. We also participate in clubs and do volunteer stuff. And sometimes, very rarely, we sleep. Food is eaten between classes, sneakily on the bus, and with friends. And sometimes, we forget to make a lunch to bring with.

Dr. Yummyfudz (or How I Learned to Be a Student AND Eat Proper Food)

1. Stop. Stand still. Take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out. Repeat 2x more. There. Don't you feel better?

2. The best place to get vegan food when you're in a pinch (in terms of both money and time), even if it seems big and intimidating and unhelpful, is a grocery store. I think the problem is, we often associate grocery shopping with lugging a big bag or two of crap back home and using ingredients to make complex dishes that require cooktime and a stove and chopping etc etc etc. There's PLENTY of vegan stuff that you can munch on, even when pressed for time.

3. Head to the produce section - bananas, appos, oranges, kiwis, cherries, mmmmm. Carrots, celery, and snow peas = yum, especially when accompanied by a container of hummus. Avocado + crackers are one of my favorite snacks, especially if the deli has little packets of salt and pepper to add to it. Bag o' lettuce plus veggies and a bottle of dressing = salad.

4. A package of tortillas is cheap and come in all manner of types (whole wheat, corn, etc). Spread with soy yogurt, soy pudding or peanut butter and put in slices of banana, mango, apple, or pear, and top with vegan granola, nuts, or raisins for fruity goodness, or spread with hummus, margarine or Tofutti cream cheese and put in slices of bell pepper, avocado, cilantro, olives. Also try using vegan bread, pita, or bagels.

5. Nut butters are a cheap source of protein and fill you up, and you can put them on anything - bread, bagels, the aforementioned tortillas, apples, rice cakes, crackers, cookies, celery, and so on.

6. Pre-cooked tofu is your friend. Cut into slices (or hell, just tear chunks off with your fingers) and throw into wraps or salads or sammiches.

7. A can of beans, a single-serve package of pre-cooked rice, and a microwave or stove is easy peasy protein. Grab a small jar of salsa and an avocado and throw that shit in there too.

8. The freezer section can be your friend - some Safeways and natural food stores carry Amy's frozen meals and burritos and vegan Boca burgers, etc. If your school/office/etc lounge has a microwave or even an oven, these can come in handy if you want something warm.

9. I always try to keep some type of emergency-type food packet with me if I'm going to be gone for a really extended period of time (ie, holed up in the science library) or in an area that I'm unfamiliar with. It won't substitute for a meal, but it will keep you from getting cranky. I usually bring some kind of fruit. Some of the (not as perishable) things I try to keep with me are:

-Granola bars or trail mix
-Dried fruit (mmmm dried banana)
-Crackers, chips, or bread

Anyway those are my survival-type tips. I'm sure there's plenty I'm forgetting but I have echinoderm fossils on the brain and I need to go study. Thanks for stopping by, as always. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


So after discovering a ton of great vegan blogs that I hadn't seen before, I thought I'd post a couple of them, seeing as how I love having new stuff to read when I wake up in the morning. And reading like 25 ensures that there's always something new!

Get Sconed! is written by Jess from Portland, OR, which is excellent because I'm only 2 hours away and get to hear about all sorts of neat Portland shit that I wouldn't have otherwise (Chinese dinosaurs at OMSI, anyone?). AND she's testing for Isa Chandra-Moskowitz's new brunch cookbook ('Crack of Noon', tee hee!), so there's all sorts of yummy tantalizing hints of what's to come. Her food is just really damn yummy-looking, it's the kind of food you want to come home to from a long day on campus. It inspires me to get off my ass and cook instead of plopping on the couch with a sandwich and watching American Idol.

Guilty (Vegan) Pleasures is written by my friend from UO's Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals group, Laura! The premise: "This blog is named "Guilty (Vegan) Pleasures" because, despite being vegan, I tend to eat a lot of fattening foods." Eeeeeeexcellent. There really shouldn't be anyone left anywhere who thinks vegans eat twigs and rocks, but apparently there are, and Laura's blog defies that! Rarr! Also look at the quiche, oh my god the quiche. Very excited to make quichey goodness now.

Last but not least, Hezbollah Tofu is a cleverly-named blog dedicated to veganizing Anthony "I have a stick up my ass a mile wide and compare vegans to terrorists" Bourdain's recipes! I love it! Fabulous! There's clafoutis! I didn't even know what clafoutis is and now I'm dying to make it! Personally I'm a fan of anything that shuts up everyone who cries about French cooking being the alpha and omega of cuisine and that it's impossible to veganize and wah wah wah. Would you like some soy cheese with that WHINE? I'm also a fan of anyone giving Bourdain a virtual firm kick to the kneecaps, so booya, Hezbollah Tofu, booya.

We're going to be throwing up some links to these and our other favorite vegan blogs on the right here soon. Got a blog we'd like? Email us!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Favorite Santa Cruz Silly Yak

Or, Kelly and Mark's Adventures in Gluten-free Vegan Cooking!

So, recently I went down south to visit my good friend Mark in Santa Cruz. He promised that if I cooked some food for him, he'd buy the ingredients. The fun part? I'm vegan, and Mark is a celiac, so naturally, we wanted to make ALL of our food gluten-free and vegan for the entire weekend. It means substituting even more ingredients than usual (although, thank god, things like EnerG egg replacer are vegan already) but we chose Pad Thai for the main dinner dish. Aside from that, there are some marvelous places to eat in Santa Cruz like Jumping Monkey which I must recommend a thousand times over. They have like 5 things on the menu but most of them are gluten- and animal-free. They also have desserts and brownies with labels that say if they're vegan or celiac friendly. We also went to Saturn Cafe which is a great Veg hangout, although not so great for celiacs - Mark had some badass corn nachos, though! So, here's Mark and I with our VERY creative rendition of Isa's Brooklyn Pad Thai from VwaV. :) Besides the vegan riblet sandwich I had at Saturn Cafe, the both of us ate vegan AND gluten free the entire weekend! Go us!

I'm going to harass Mark about doing some guest columns about the gluten-free aspect of cooking, so that'll be way cool! He's a smart cookie.