Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chipotle-Cilantro Crema



I feel silly calling this a 'recipe' because I just kind of threw stuff in a blender until it got to how I wanted it to taste. I was attempting to replicate the chipotle crema I had with my dinner at Ratatouille a couple of weeks ago. Theirs was very creamy and cool, a little thicker than my version, but with a spicy kick.

I added a little more spice to mine, and I think chipotle and cilantro go together like whoa, so I added that. Try it and let me know what you think. It goes great with Mexican style food (such as the Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan! by Dreena Burton, aka my dinner last night) but I also used it as a bagel or sandwich spread and as a topping for scrambled tofu and it was excellent. The first time I made it was for a brunch with some friends, when I made the Tempeh Hashbrown Cassarole (also from ED&BV!) and served it with avocado, black beans, and this sauce. It got rave reviews from my brunchmates so hopefully you'll like it too.

I got the chipotles in adobo sauce in a can for like a dollar at Food Maxx. Yeah they're not organic or anything, but I had never tried them before and didn't want to buy a huge thing of chiles if I didn't like 'em. I looked online and you can get organic chipotles in adobo from any number of brands and places, but really I'm guessing any form of canned or jarred chipotle peppers would work, as long as they're not dried. The amount of chipotles I used depends on how spicy I want it - one is enough if you're not a spice fan, 2-3 is great for spice-freaks like my boyfriend (I am slowly becoming a more spicy girl, thanks to his influence).

If you hate cilantro, you can leave it out; you'll just miss the pretty green flecks it makes in the sauce. :)

Chipotle-Cilantro Crema

1/2 cup Tofutti or Toby's non-dairy sour cream
1/4-1/2 cup cilantro (packed, no stems)
1/4-1/2 tsp chipotle hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
1-3 chipotles in adobo sauce
1/2 tsp lime juice (optional)
salt to taste

Put everything in a food processor (blender would probably work too). Pulse for a while until the cilantro is in pretty tiny bits. The consistency should be creamy but drippy (ie you should be able to drizzle it relatively well).


Enjoy!

Here it is on my tofu scramble this morning (which included: cumin, chili powder, tumeric, salt, pepper, shiitake mushrooms, and green onion, topped with avocado and the crema):


Tofu scramble (VwaV) with chipotle cream


If anyone makes this, feel free to give me feedback on what I can do to improve the recipe!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Teese me please me



Nono, not the song by the Scorpions, you silly. Teese cheese!


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Log of Teese, you so fiiiiine.

As I mentioned in my last post I got a pound of Teese from Food Fight when I was up in P-town for idk my BFF Morgan?'s birthday last weekend. I don't usually use cheese substitute products, finding them to be tasteless and mostly unnecessary. But I figured, what the hell, and there have been plenty of positive reviews on the interwebs. I haven't made pizza in a long time, and what better vehicle for testing vegan mozzarella? Since I'm poor, I decided to make both dough and sauce from scratch, using the recipes for both found in Vegan with a Vengeance.


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Impossible to get a good picture of white grated Teese. Blast!

My first impressions are VERY positive. It grates really well, though it is a bit wetter than I remember dairy cheese being. The consistency is a bit like fresh mozzarella (the kind sold with water in the package), but saltier. I have to say, I kept sneaking bits off the pile to eat raw, it was tasty. I actually later cut off some small round slices and tossed them in balsamic vinegar and olive oil with some basil leaves and tomato slices - mmmm, very fresh and cool, reminds me of summer in Germany in the student dorm and eating outside. I know that's kind of weird that I like it raw (heh); most cheese substitutes taste like ass uncooked. But there was no weird aftertaste, no weird texture. Don't get me wrong, it's not an exact match for the cruelty-derived/pus-filled/orphan-producing stuff, but it definitely is running ahead of the pack as far as cheese substitutes go.

The pizza dough was actually really fun to make! I've actually NEVER made anything yeasty before, JP being the breadmaker, so I was a little nervous that everything would turn out right, what with the kneading and resting and all. Also I ran out of white flour, so instead of 3 cups of white flour, I used 2 cups white, and 1 cup whole wheat pastry. It turned out just fine, and I punched that fucker in the face (well, there was a chance that was its butt, hard to tell when you're punching a ball of dough). In hindsight I could have kneaded it longer to get a chewier consistency. The sauce was REALLY good - Isa really hit the nail on the head when she said in the recipe description that one doesn't need to ├╝berspice a nice delicate pizza sauce: garlic and a bit of spice to give it a little somethinsomethin, but that's all it needs.

Here is Teese in its pre-melty state on the shiitake mushroom pizza:


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It's not round, so what? Wanna fight?

And here it is post-baking:


Shiitake and Teese
Mmm.

And here it is on the margherita pizza:


Margarita with Teese
Basil is from the Farmer's Market and sooo fragrant

My verdict on the melted Teese: hmmmm. I feel like it loses some of its flavor in baking. Now, I didn't put a lot on; I've lost my taste for cheese and didn't want to hide the subtle flavors in the pizza sauce in case it tasted wonky. But I just couldn't taste much of it at all. But it does mix with the sauce a little to create a pleasant creaminess that both JP and I enjoyed.

Teese will definitely be a 'sometimes' food in our house. I've grown to enjoy cheeseless pizza so much, that now, eating it with 'cheese' just seems weird! It's a fun novelty item but not necessary for making amazing vegan pizza. I think I'll actually enjoy putting it in salads and antipasto and whatnot more than putting it on pizza.

However, for those folks who can't let the cheese go, this is definitely the best cheese substitute I've ever tasted, and it melts amazingly well, as you can see in the pictures.

Portland Veg Fest May 9-10th, 2008




Visit Vegfest 2008 Website

For any of you who live in the area, the Portland Vegfest is coming up! JP and I are heading up on Saturday the 10th to check out Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's talk and sample all the nummy FOOD! So excited! We've never been before so this'll be exciting.

In other news, Saturday was my vegetarianniversary (one year of no meat) and I celebrated by dropping $50 at Food Fight, including a pound of Teese! Next entry will have Teese pizza pics and a first draft of that chipotle-cilantro crema recipe.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Iz all based on proven scientific fact


So, I was sending my sister a care package a while back and on a spur-of-the-moment urge I put together a little illustrated book for her (this has nothing to do with me burning the cookies I was supposed to send her) called Why Omni Boys are Lame. I do not in fact think all omni boys are lame, but I had only been vegan for a while and the questions and comments about my veganism were getting a little tiring.
Anyway, my sister requested that I put it up on the blog. It's not really, um, my finest work, hah, and it's bound to offend somebody, but here it is in all its mini-stapled glory. (Click cover to go to linked image)


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Backlog of food & JP's birthweek festivities



Hey folks. Earth Week and our vegan challenge week was nuts (ended last night with Laura of Guilty Vegan Pleasures cooking us wonderful fried rice and blackberry pudding), Earth Day is sure to be crazy as well, and on top of it all I had a geology field trip (in which I ate healthier than all my omni campmates) last weekend. Cherry on the cake: it was JP's birthday (birthweek, rather, since the festivities lasted from giving him a 22oz. of the Full Sail Original Nut Brown Ale on Wednesday and went until our date on Friday night). So there's a massive backlog of foodpics here for y'all to oogle. I made a fantastic brunch today for us and some friends, and unfortunately forgot to take any pictures. HOWEVER! I made a fantastic chipotle-cilantro crema sauce all by my lonesome, and it will be the first recipe I post here, once I make some more of it tomorrow, as it all DISAPPEARED into hungry vegan tummies.

So enough rambling, on to the pics:

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Balsamic vinegar/tamari/vegan worcestershire glazed tofu on quinoa and kale


Inspired by this post from Lelly's Vegan Kitchen on a night that I was VERY hungry and very stressed. Very easy: I just poured on splashes as I fried a slab of tofu on a pan.


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Italian quinoa and tempeh


Leftover quinoa with parsley and whatever was lying around in the fridge, and sauteed tempeh. JP's creation!


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Steamed veggies and tempeh over brown rice with sweet & sour sauce


This sweet and sour sauce recipe from VeganYumYum has become a staple in our house. I only add 2 Tbsp. sugar instead of 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. and it tastes just fine. It's quick and simple and tastes amazing. Plus it makes me DEVOUR any and all steamed vegetables in it. We do carrot, onion, any color bell pepper, snow peas, mushrooms, broccoli (and pineapple)...many possibilities. I usually scavenge the market's "50% off" produce shelf for ideas.


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BBQ baked tofu, seared portobello mushrooms, asparagus w/Vegenaise, and brown rice


I finally made something else from Veganomicon...sorta. I used bottled BBQ sauce. We cleaned out the fridge and it needed to be used, so... :P Anyway it was dang good, especially along with those amazing mushrooms from Eat Drink & Be Vegan! and asparagus that my mommy sent home with me from California.


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Apple pie-crumb cake muffins


Wow. These are one of my new favorite recipes from VwaV. Very coffee cake-y, but the apple juice, grated apple, and apple chunks make it a party in my tummy. These got rave reviews from the brunch folk this morning.


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Vegan birthday dinnarz!


On to the birthday celebrations...JP's mom had us over for dinner on Thursday for JP's birthday, where she made us kickass vegan lasagna (from one of the Moosewood cookbooks) with zucchini and spinach and tofu ricotta and portobello mushrooms, and also amazing sweet potatoes and garlic bread. She sent us home with a huge pan of leftovers (lunch yesterday and no doubt dinner tonight). This is from lunch yesterday. It inspired me, as I had never made lasagna even as an omni and it intimidates me. So many NOODLES! The JP-mommy kindly invited me over to get a tutorial. I can't wait! We went to Sweet Life Patisserie (lovely bakery/cafe in Eugene that has gorgeous vegan desserts) afterwards and I of course forgot my camera. I got a piece of lemon poppyseed raspberry cake and JP got a slice of chocolate peanut butter silk pie.

Then on Friday I took JP out for a swanky date at Ratatouille in Eugene, a beautiful (though pricey) vegetarian/vegan restaurant that opened just last year. We've been there three times now and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves each time. Despite the price tag, the portions are actually pretty big - I leave full every time, and the time we got dessert there, I rolled out the door like what's-her-face in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Almost everything on the menu is vegan (there's like one or two things with cheese, that can be left off easily), and it focuses on local organic ingredients so the menu changes a lot.


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Shepherd's pie with sauteed mustard greens


JP's Shepherd's pie was amazing, with parsnips, carrots, mushrooms, and some other veggies, and the potato crust on top was delectable: crunchy on the very top and creamy further down. We'd never tried mustard greens before and found them to be delightfully peppery. More investigation is required.


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Blue corn empanadas


I ordered the blue corn empanadas, which ZOMG if I had to eat something every day for the rest of my life, it would be these. They were spicy and delicious, filled with corn and green olives and tomato and I think carrot and many yummy things, and came with black beans over salad greens, with this smooth beautiful vegan crema sauce, and dollops of this amazing spicy chipotle cream, which is where I got my inspiration for my chipotle-cilantro crema, the recipe for which you'll get later. Anyway the flavor and texture combinations in this dish blew my mind: spicy and smooth, warm and cold, the crunchy outsides of the empanada and the warm soft insides...I ate every last bit (and a few bites of JP's shepherd's pie, haha! Just ask Kelly, I'm like a food ninja.)


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Triple chocolate layer cake with caramel coconut pecan frosting


And JP came home to a German chocolate birthday cake! The frosting was kind of hard to make, mostly while I accidentally put too much coconut milk in, but oh is it worth it. And it actually gets better a day or two later. I used the Triple Layer Chocolate Cake from Dreena Burton's recipe blog and the frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It's hard to believe there was a whole cake sitting on the counter on Friday and now there's...much less than that. Oops.

I'll leave you with us looking studly for our datey-poo. :3


Date night


Hee!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Looking past the labels



This week is Earth Week at the University of Oregon, where I am an undergrad. UO Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is doing a Vegan Challenge Week in conjunction, encouraging students to pledge to go vegan for a week for the animals, the planet, and themselves (if you or anyone you know goes to UO and is interested in going vegan, send them by the EMU amphitheater between 11 and 1:30 tomorrow through Friday and they'll get a free lunch!). I wrote this article for a zine we published to give out to new vegans. It makes me sad when people bring up happy meat as the solution to the declining state of our planet - you can't have your planet and eat animal products, too.

“What about 'humanely-raised' meat and dairy?”

Vegans get this question a lot. The concept of milk, eggs or flesh from animals raised 'humanely' has gained a lot of momentum, especially after the most recent highly-publicized undercover videos of inhumane treatment at a slaughterhouse in California. So what's wrong with this picture? It's reducing suffering, and that's good, right?

What most people don't realize is that this is not some compassionate step towards a better world – it's a marketing ploy, aimed at reassuring consumers' guilty consciences: we want to believe we're not hurting animals, that we're not supporting pain and death and unsanitary conditions. The meat companies are unabashedly taking advantage of our own compassion and pity, and using it to sell us products that make us feel better about eating animals. Just because consumers have grown more concered with treatment of animals raised for food, doesn't mean corporations or even family farm owners have. Sales of 'humanely-raised' and 'organic' meat and dairy have consistently risen every year, and meat-producers would be dumb not to capitalize on that.

One might think a 'organic' or 'natural' or 'grass-fed' or 'hormone-free' label means that the cows or chickens or pigs were treated better. It doesn't. These labels denote what kind of diet the animals eat, and whether or not they were injected with growth hormones.

Often a 'humanely-raised' label means exactly what it says – humanely raised, not slaughtered. By law, animals must be slaughtered in USDA-certified facilities. USDA certification has standards that make it difficult and expensive for independent farms to slaughter their own cows. As a results, many 'humanely' raised animals are sent to the same slaughterhouses as those raised in factory farms to meet the same brutal and terrifying end.

Similarly, 'free-range' or 'cage-free' on egg cartons means next to nothing. In these operations, often still housed in a closed building, chickens are crowded in unsanitary conditions, debeaked as chicks, and killed for cheap meat when they're 'spent.' Somehow the fact that they're not in a cage doesn't make me feel much better about eating them.

'Heritage-bred' simply means that the farms that raised these animals are attempting to save particular breeds of livestock from extinction. I find this incredibly bizarre – we're saving animals, only to kill and eat them? Doesn't make much sense.

The 'sustainable' labels make me sad – 'sustainable' clearly does not mean 'for the animals, too.'

The labels are intended to do one thing – to sell the product. The labels do not tell the whole story.

To be frank, the point is not that the animals are sung to, petted, or given handjobs before they're slaughtered. The point is that the animal is still being treated as a commodity. Try to put yourself in the place of the animal for a moment: would you want to live a 'happy' life, only to be slaughtered at the end, even if you didn't know? The animals don't have a voice to say what they want, but no animal actively desires to die. It's not like cows got together, realized what a great product they were, and lined up to be killed for humans.

The problem isn't how the animals are raised, it's that we eat them (to quote Colleen Patrick-Goudreau). If you care enough about the health and welfare of the animal to desire for them to have a 'happy' life, I suggest taking a moment, thinking about why that is important to you, and then thinking about the reasons you still eat the flesh of those same animals.

If you want to do some research and decide for yourself, the following books (and many others) are helpful resources:
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry by Gail Eisnitz
The Food Revolution by John Robbins
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, and Money by Erik Marcus

Sources:

Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma. New York, NY: Penguin Books. 2007.

Patrick-Goudreau, Colleen. “From Cradle to Grave: The Facts Behind “Humane” Eating.” Satya Magazine. Sep 2006.

Vegan Freak Radio with Bob and Jenna Torres: http://veganfreakradio.com/

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Quickest Way to a Man's Heart...



Okay, I'm sorry, but I'm going to subject you all to my squealing! I made this killer cake for my friend's birthday (specifically, Isa's Raspberry Blackout Cake) and it turned out amazingly. I don't know if vegan cooking makes matters more difficult for me, or maybe I've just never been too great of a cook to begin with, but it's honestly the tastiest thing I've ever baked. It probably doesn't help that I grew up with cake mixes where all you have to do is add eggs and butter and voila, instant deathcake. Making a great cake from the ground up (AND the frosting!) makes me feel really good. I think I didn't let the frosting soften up enough because it kind of mixed in with a lot of the raspberry preserves on the top of the cake, but meh, you couldn't really tell from looking at it. And it was kind of a squat/lumpy cake (due to my not-so-expert frosting skills) but hey, I'm pretty sure the taste is more important.



I put a shamrock on the top (yeah, I know it looks like hearts) because my friend Kevin looks like/is a crazy irishman. I had to make it personal somehow!
I brought a piece to one of the teachers in the fine art building. He really, really, really liked it. Like, inhaled it before mine very eyes. Knowing FULL well that it was vegan - because I TOLD him. And then he offered me homework help anytime! Baked vegan shit gets you places, man.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Eating vegan on the cheap



"Being vegan is soooo expensive."

Well yeah, if you're (a) a douchebag who shops at Whole Foods and buys $39.99/lb. imported European mushrooms (and nobody likes you), or (b) a slacker who eats nothing but processed, prepared, frozen, packaged, ninety-two hundred ingredients crap that you probably shouldn't be eating anyway.

Let me give it to you straight: if it comes in a box, wrapped in plastic, has a bunch of questionable ingredients in it, and costs $5.99, you should put it down. Now. Hey, you, in the back, I said NOW. Walk away, son.

I know meat substitutes, frozen entrees, nondairy cheese, soy ice cream, etc etc, are convenient, especially when you're transitioning from omni to vegan, omni to vegetarian, etc etc. They look and sort of taste like your old comfort foods. But they make a huge dent in your wallet, and if you're wondering why you're lower on cash at the grocery store than you used to be, despite not buying meat and dairy, I suggest taking a look at your last grocery list long and hard.

Proof: A 5.5oz package of fakeham at the store was $2.39 yesterday. 16oz. of locally-made tofu is only $1.99, for comparison. Come on. Basic math. Tofu is also healthier and a minimally-processed whole soy food, which = happy heart and circulatory system! You're getting WAY more for your money if you're eating less-processed foods.

I used to eat fakemeat a LOT when I was vegetarian. I stopped eating as much when I went vegan because many of the processed fakemeat products contain eggwhites or cheese. What also came with going vegan was cooking more on my own, and learning to cook with whole grains and legumes and veggies and lovely fruitses. I stopped relying on fakemeat mostly by accident; no one told me to, it just sort of naturally happened. I also noticed that I wasn't spending as much on groceries as I was before, despite buying way more food! I realized I was buying way more things in bulk, way more produce, and way less packaged stuff.

Since I hear the "waaaah buying 'vegan' food" (whatever that is, what are we, rabbits?) "is so expensive!" argument so often, I thought I'd share some of my strategies to save money. Students, or soon-to-be students would do well to heed my words.

1. Yes, actually, I like a little junk in the trunk

...Or, BUY IN BULK. I never bought ANYTHING in bulk until this year, and wow do I feel like a fucking idiot. Not only are you reducing the amount of garbage swirling around in the pacific ocean, but you are slicing the cost sometimes in HALF if not more. These are examples of what I buy in bulk. Many are high-protein or high-fiber, which are very good for you!: Lentils (green and red), beans (dry), brown rice, quinoa, split peas, TVP, pasta, cous cous, oats, nutritional yeast, herbs and so on.

A lot of places sell liquids in bulk as well. All you have to do is bring (and weigh ahead of time) a container or buy a reusable container from the store. I buy maple syrup, canola oil (and all other cooking oils), agave nectar, and tamari in bulk, too. JP bought a flat of mason jars and we use those to store stuff in. I also buy my baking stuff in bulk. Organic sugar, flours, cocoa powder, spices, and salt are all available for less.

Also Mother Earth will love you more. :3

2. Spend your day in the produce section

That big area in the middle where all the processed and frozen and packaged stuff is? Give it a WIDE berth. Go for fruits and veggies, which you should be anyway, since you are supposed to get 7-9 servings of them a day! Are you? If you're not buying crap, you'll have more money to spend on healthy, beautiful, yummy fruits and veggies. Like bok choy, squee!

3. Look for sales/buy in season

I love asparagus. JP loves asparagus. Kelly loves asparagus and could eat it all day. Does that mean I buy it as soon as it hits the shelves hear in Oregon for $6.99/lb? Absolutely not. Not only was it not really in season yet at the beginning of March, but fucking $6.99/lb, are you kidding me? Just keep your eye on it. Right now, almost 4 weeks later, it's down to $4.99/lb. I'm waiting a little longer. Often the produce on sale will be what is in season. It pays to do some internet research and find a chart of what's in season when and to plan for what's in season and what's GOING to be in season, and what's about to go OUT of season and may go on sale soon (such as this one). A bonus is that in-season produce tastes SOOOO much better than tastes-like-cardboard out of season stuff. Your taste buds will thank you, trust me. I hate living without peaches for 9 months out of the year, but it is so worth the wait to have that first juicy bite come summer.

4. Buy local/buy small/shop farmer's markets or join a CSA

You all know to support your local small businesses. Why? Because they're not evil (or not as much, anyway). Buy local, and organic if possible. You'll keep supporting YOUR local economy. Local produce will often by what's in season and what tastes best. Farmer's markets and CSAs are another great resource: you can establish a one-on-one relationship with the person supplying your sustenance. Doesn't that sound nice?

For those who are going to whine about small stores having higher prices: look, I worked at a Safeway over the summer, who is supposed to have some of the lowest prices around, yeah? Well their organic prices matched, or were HIGHER than those of one of the small local organic markets at which I now exclusively shop. If I'm going to be paying the same prices anyway, I'd rather support a local store that supports local farmers that support local agriculture. :) Plus Sundance has a 50% off wall for fruit that's either damaged or they have too much of. I make a beeline for that first thing.

Any of you non-vegans who are thinking "Hurrah for me, I buy local humane meat," I suggest reading this article very carefully.

5. DIY

Make your own bread. Brew your own beer or kombucha. Grow your own fruit and veggies and herbs. Start a community garden with neighbors or friends. Grow your own edible flowers to decorate cupcakes. Grow your own flowers and aloe plants and cacti and little succulents, plants make you feel good! The point is, take things into your own hands. Literally. You'll save money, be kinder to the earth, and maybe even learn something new. JP learned how to make bread, I am starting a mini-garden after we move.

6. Do your homework

Cookbooks are expensive. Well not unless you have a problem like me and want to buy every single one but anyway. To get good vegan recipes, the public library can be your friend, as can the internet. Listen to cooking podcasts (such as Food for Thought or Vegan Freak Radio), read vegan blogs (such as VeganYumYum or Guilty (Vegan) Pleasures), or browse VegCooking, VegWeb, and The Post-Punk Kitchen. Vegan cookzines are another great way to buy a personalized product made with all sorts of love, usually for a pretty low price. Check out Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk! and Kittee's Papa Tofu.

This article, "Go Vegetarian to Save Money", was mentioned by Colleen from Compassionate Cooks in an episode of her amazing podcast Food for Thought. It quotes the difference in prices between meat and plant-based protein (at Whole Foods, which means many of the prices quoted are even cheaper for many of us), and how processed plant foods jack up the price. It also touches on some of the more troubling issues and inherent costs that arise from a meat- and dairy-based diet. It's a quick read, check it out.

Got any other awesome money-saving tips for living vegan? Leave a comment or send us an email at sistersvegan@gmail.com!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Eating, drinking & being vegan!


So remember how I said the other week that I get on a cookbook roll? Lately it's been Eat, Drink & Be Vegan! by Dreena Burton. How can I say enough about this book? Everything I've made has been a hit. It's also very parent-friendly; I got a copy for my mother for Christmas and she and my dad (not vegan but eating less and less meat and dairy, hurrah for them for being more compassionate!) have enjoyed everything they've made from it, and recommended it to a friend of theirs inquiring about vegan cookbooks to start with.


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Breakfast crepes with celestial cream


So let's start with breakfast, as anything should, really, breakfast is the awesomest meal of the day, hands down. These crepes have become a staple in our house. They use spelt flour, which I had never used before, but am now in love with because of its taste, healthiness, and how easy this recipe is. I had heard crepes were hard to make but as long as you don't make them ginormous they're super easy. I actually find them easier to make than pancakes because you're flipping over much less bulk. The celestial cream is HEAVENLY. It's like a fluffy yet smooth cloud of mapley buttery tastiness. I had trouble not eating it with a spoon. I added to this lovely mixture grilled bananas and blueberries, in an attempt to replicate a breakfast that my sister had at Herbivore in San Francisco a while ago, and to finally use my grillpan I got for Christmas. The combination was wonderful, but you can really do anything with these. Last time we made them we blended strawberries and bananas in a blender and then heated up the mixture on the stove until warm, and used that as our crepe filling. MMM!


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Raspberry (+blueberry) cornmeal pancake batter


So I um er uh forgot to take a picture of the finished product (we were hungry!) but the batter should give you enough of an idea as to how thick, filling, hearty, and yummy these pancakes were. I ended up adding some blueberries because I didn't have enough frozen raspberries left. I also didn't have fine cornmeal, so I used what I had, and it made the pancakes quite thick but also quite delicious. The cornmeal is a great vehicle for the tartness of the raspberries, I can't wait to make these at the height of raspberry season. V. good, will definitely be making these again soon. You can actually find the recipe for the pancakes and the celestial cream here at Dreena's sample recipes blog. (It also includes the Cashew Ginger Tofu which I made a few months back.)


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Smoky green split pea soup with tempeh bacon


I've never really been a soup fan but the weather and PMS demanded something warm, comforting, and satisfying. Enter this soup. It's one of my favorites out of the book, and so easy to make. Most of the work is prepping vegetables and then you let it sit on the stove for about an hour. I ended up adding a little liquid smoke for some extra smoketasticness. We also made tempeh bacon to put in with it, but instead of making it in strips JP suggested cutting the tempeh in small cubes so that each piece would be marinated and "bacon"-y. What a wonderful idea! The tempeh cubes almost stole the show, and I can see how this would be great to put in breakfast burritos, quiches, cassaroles, and in potato salad. I can't wait to experiment further!

So on to the main event. Before I left for California for spring break, I made JP and I a pretty fantabulous dinner, if I say so myself. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I know you other cooks out there know that feeling you get when an entire meal comes together and every taste seems to come together almost like a piece of music.

After looking at the recipes I picked, I realized they all had something in common:


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Lime!


So I ended up buying like 5 limes at the store, and oh, it was worth every single penny. The dinner turned out amazingly. OMFG. It was one of the best meals I've ever had in my life.


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Cumin-lime tofu, seared portobello mushrooms, coconut-lime basmati rice, and garlicky kale


The picture sucks because we were hungry and didn't care about quality. XD Oops.

It was my first time preparing tofu that I had frozen and then defrosted, which gives it not only a chewier texture but all these little pockets for flavors to sink into. The cumin-lime marinade was the perfect flavoring for this first time. The tofu sucked it up like a sponge and every bite tasted amazing. The mushrooms stole the show, crispy on the outside and bursting with the most amazing earthy flavor. The rice was rich and creamy. The kale (the one recipe NOT from ED&BV!, it's from VwaV), a standby, was made limey with the addition of a tahini-lime sauce that I made while waiting for the tofu to finish baking. I stirred tahini, lime juice, water, and sesame oil until I came to a consistency I liked.

So there you have it. Dreena Burton is my new BFF. I highly recommend this book (again) to anyone who enjoys really fresh flavorful vegan meals, it's been a joy making her recipes.

Next time I'm going to review a couple of products that I have tried recently and fallen in love with. Ricemilk chocolate = OMG.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Falafelols


Falafel time! I went on a day-long excursion just to find all the ingredients. Was absolutely fun - plus it's great because I can just refrigerate the extra falafel patties and slap them into pitas the next day for a super quick lunch. My standard mini-falafel has a mini-pita, slice of tomato, lettuce, maybe cucumber, and lemon tahini hummus. YUM.




Also, I made baked tofu with Isa's Orange Maple BBQ sauce. See my plate of goodness next to my beverage, Vegenaise - just kidding, there's OJ in the mug. I don't think I pressed my tofu long enough but the sauce sure was great. I've got some left over to put on something. I'm not sure what. But something.



In other news, I really want to join in the next VF bakeswap.