Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Check out these potatoes! (does that sound like a euphemism?)

Forgive my lack of posting! Once my finals ended, it was straight to my new job, and alas, my vegan adventure posts have been lacking.

There's purple, red, and yukon potatoes - I just think they look lovely. I don't have a lot of time for breakfast in the morning, so I make up a huge batch of these babies and put them in a tub in the fridge and scoop some out for breakfast, heat them up, and add some ketchup and seasoning. Homestyle potatoes on the go, yum!

Random aside, I've been starting to switch over from Clinique facial care products. It's a big deal for me because I've got pretty sensitive skin, and in high school, switching to Clinique was the only thing that made my hideous acne and dry skin issues go away. But Clinique, though they don't test on animals, uses animal products up the wazoo. So I invested in some vegan Alba products, and I'm going to give them a try. It's from their Hawaiian line, which is a little less pricy: the coconut milk facial wash and the aloe & green tea oil-free moisturizer. Here's hoping! some areas, summer's a-comin, so how do you stay cool, eh? Homemade vegan popsicles, that's how! You can get popsicle makers anywhere - Ross, Ikea, whatever. These are Blackberry Apple popsicles. There's apple sauce on the bottom because I ran out of blackberries. Anyway, delicious! And I know exactly what's in them, too. I'm hoping to try some chocolate dipped vegan ice cream pops or something.

In other news, I signed up for 24 Hour Fitness, and I'm anxious about what my "trainer" will think about my being vegan. In any case, I've memorized the answers to the 10 Standard Silly Questions about Veganism, so if he pulls a Lame Omni Boy I'll know what to do.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

School + GRE + moving = I need comfort food

I hope everyone is having fun spreading the word about veganism! Just two more days of World Vegetarian Week! Oprah's pledge to go vegan for 21 days couldn't have come during a more appropriate time!

I have been a busy bee lately. One week until I take the GRE, three weeks until I graduate, a month until I go to Germany, and then in August we are moving to Berkeley! From now until then I will be a crazy woman, yes indeedy.

What makes me feel less crazy? Alcohol. Obscene amounts of chocolate. Snuggling. Devious plans to make vegan paleosol cupcakes (Paleo-huh? You'll see...) And FOOD. So, my chickadees, I have much foodpr0nz for you ahead:

I love listening to Colleen of Compassionate Cooks (whom I and JP saw speak at Portland's VegFest a few weeks ago!) talk about her favorite foods. She's done two podcasts about them now and I love that she likes everything that JP and I like (except for brussels sprouts...but I'm open to new things, so one of these days...). One of those foods is dates. I totally agree with her that dates are nature's candy: sweet and sticky and chewy and delicious and omnommy. I had purchased a bunch of dates for 50% off at Sundance Natural Market, and in the podcast she recommended the date-almond butter smoothie from her Joy of Vegan Baking cookbook, so I made it last Monday.

Date-almond butter smoothie (JoVB)
Date-almond butter smoothie

And EVERY DAY THAT WEEK. OMG it's so creamy and dericious, it's like a milkshake for breakfast, but there's so many good things in here for you: we used hempmilk for the nondairy milk, and the dates and almond butter of course, and also banana, cinnnamon, maple syrup, and vanilla. I ended up leaving out the vanilla later in the week because I thought the dates made it sweet enough as it was, but WOW. So good. And a nice change-up from the fruit/kale smoothies we'd been drinking (though I love those too).

Also relating to VegFest: I finally FINALLY got my hands on a copy of Yellow Rose Recipes by Joanna Vaught of the very near and dear Portland, Oregon. I'd been waiting for this since Christmas. The first recipe I tried was the tofu scramble. I love the fact that the spice measurements make enough for a smallish jar sized supply of tofu scramble spice. I think I'm going to make a huge batch of it and keep it around for when the scramble bug bites me.

Tofu Scramble (YRR)
Tofu scramble with Teese and avocado

It's totally in keeping with the Texas style of the cookbook and the food itself that I added avocado, and the 2nd time we made it (seen here) we added Teese cheese. Very omlicious. Can't wait to try more from this book.

Speaking of Portland, last time I was there I bought these 'shrimp' from Food Fight.

Fake 'shrimp' from Food Fight
Fake shrimpies

Our favorite local Chinese place, Lotus Garden, is all vegan and features yummy little fried 'golden delights' aka fake shrimp. I was hankerin' for something that used these little buggers so I veganized this recipe from Ina Garten. I used to love Ina Garten, before I realized (a) how unhealthy most of her recipes are and (b) how heavily meat & dairy-based her recipes are, in that order. Very annoying. But the recipe (veganized, of course) turned out right fine. I also replaced all the butter with olive oil and cut the total amount of oil in half, and added fresh spinach for some green. It was okay, it actually ended up still being pretty oily. And I think I'm over most meat substitutes. But it would be a great meal for people who are transitioning, I would think.

Speaking of that dinner, I had a bunch of fresh parsley that needed to be used up after I added some to the 'scampi', so I started experimenting with making my own ranch dressing to put on our salads. I used to be addicted to the stuff. I would put it on ANYTHING. What I came up with is a relatively good substitute. It was good enough to put on my salad, but was a little thin and was lacking some bite. I'm thinking I'll add more garlic and onion powder, and maybe some paprika next time, and use more vegenaise. Once it's closer to what I remember, I'll post the recipe here.

Salad with improvised ranch dressing!
Ranch? No...but close!

Alright enough with the 'speaking of's, I got no connection for this one. Sweet and sour chipotle tempeh with sweet potatoes from ED&BV!. Sweet potatoes got excellently with sweet and sour; I never would have come up with that combination by myself, but it works! The sweet and sour tastes way better than that pink stuff in typical American Chinese restaurants, it's lighter, milder, and thicker. We served this with couscous, which was nice, because the couscous stuck to the vegetables and tempeh in a delightfully tasty way!

Sweet and sour chipotle tempeh with sweet potatoes (ED&BV!)
Sweet and sour chipotle tempeh with sweet potatoes

To finish off that meal right, I used the last of the rhubarb JP bought at the Lane County farmer's market (we get to go again tomorrow, yippee!!). I didn't have enough to make a full Rhubarb Crunch (from The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnhard), so I made a mini one in one of my little oven-safe Corningware pans. Since I was basically using 1/6 of the recipe I kind of guesstimated some of the amounts (I don't think I put enough Earth Balance in the crust), but it turned out great, perfect for two smallish servings.

Mini strawberry-rhubarb crunch (GoV)
Rhubarb (and strawberry) Crunch

And last but not least:

Cumin-lime tofu (ED&BV!), steamed mustard greens, and Vcon Broccoli Polenta
Cumin-lime tofu, steam mustard greens, and broccoli polenta

The cumin-lime tofu frm ED&BV! was delicious as always. This was our first time steaming mustard greens - I think I like them better saute├ęd. Now, the polenta: this was my first time making polenta. I'd heard that it requires lots of stirring and attention, but this was quite simple. It's the broccoli polenta from Veganomicon, and we ate it out of the pot, but I saved the rest and put it into a muffin tin to broil later (I love lots of leftovers). It's not unhealthy by itself, and the broccoli (we used almonst a whole head!) makes it even better. I recommend it to anyone who wants comfort food but is tired of mashed potatoes (though I'm not sure how that could ever happen).

Monday, May 19, 2008

World Vegetarian Week (May 19-25, 2008)

Hello guys and gals! Just a reminder that this week (May 19th through May 25th) is World Vegetarian Week! Take a minute to educate someone on the many benefits of going vegetarian (or even cooler, of course, vegan!). 7 days out of 365 ain't that many.

If you already are, pat yourself on the back for being morally superior doing a service to the animals, to the earth, and to yourself! ;)

I'm celebrating by eating a falafel as I type this. NOM.

If email forwards/rabid Facebook or MySpace posting is more your thing, send this excellent article to everyone you know! (But please, be kind to your bloodpressure and don't read the ubiquitous "But but but waaaah" omnivore nay-saying comments below it). If you're all about free food, Johnny Rockets is doing a buy one Streamliner, get one free deal this week. (That's apparently their vegan burger. I wouldn't know, we don't have one around here.)

Check out the many sources of nutriton/recipes/animal rights info/vegetarian starter guides/etc on the web!:
The Vegetarian Resource Group

The chickens suggest learning more about veganism!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Little History

Thought I'd post number seven of my autobiographical comic I do for one of my old journals. Not entirely vegan-relevant, but it's fun - There's been a meme going around about what you were like as a teenager, so I did a comic.

A Sister Comic!

More sweet, less spicy

I was rather pleased with my very on-the-fly dinner tonight. I get home late on Wednesdays and since I start my day at 9am I'm usually starving by the time I get home. Hmmm, what to make? I had some already-cubed tofu, and annoyingly large amounts of white rice (we never eat it, but our grandma kindly gives it to me for free, so it gets eaten when we're out of brown rice), and green onions leftover from making General Tao's Tofu last night.

So I decided to make this recipe from

Sweet hot tofu
Sweet Hot Tofu

A coworker of our dad's recommended this to my parents, who recommended it to me. (My parents, incidentally, are both eating more vegetarian/vegan and have made substantial improvements in their health and well-being; everyone give Mumsey and Waddums a round of applause! Yes they have awkward nonsense nicknames too, it's a family tradition.)

This recipe is ridiculously easy and quick, including the time it took to cook the rice and prep ingredients, I probably spent less than 30 minutes on it. I've made this twice now and enjoyed it very much both times, JP also gave it two thumbs up. It actually reminds me a lot of General Tao's, but sweeter, maybe a LEETLE saltier (both probably due to the hoisin sauce), so if you like that, you will most likely think this is tasty too.

While poking around the website I noticed that a lot of the recipes are either already vegan or close to being vegan (probably 'cause veganism is, you know, good for you, and all that), so you may see more (veganized) recipes from in the future. I stir-fried some baby bok choy to go with it, because as you all probably are tired of hearing about by now, I want to have (baby) bok choy's...babies.

...That just seems inappropriate.

I made the following subs:

-2/3 cup veg broth (I actually was even lazier and used water) for 2/3 cup dead birth broth
-1 tsp agave nectar for 1 tsp honey
-Fresh garlic and ginger instead of jarred
-I didn't even know reduced fat tofu existed, so I just used Surata firm tofu like always

I also found that it needed slightly more cornstarch to get the desired consistency, but I like my sauces a little goopier, so start with the given amount and then add a bit more if you want more goopiness.

I also wanted to add a quick THANK YOU! to everyone who's linked us on their blogs or whatnot. Kelly and I really appreciate the vegan love. :3

Monday, May 5, 2008

So many spicy things!

I never used to like spicy food. My mother loves to tell the story of how I dumped tons of red pepper flakes on my pizza at a restaurant when I was like four, took a bite, and then proceeded to scream bloody murder after realizing that my pizza was, indeed, made of searing hot flame.

But dating changes a person, for the better, in this case. JP is a spice fiend: the hotter the better! Oh and that goes for the food, too (wah wah wah...I'm so crevah). Anyway, since we started dating I've been trying spicier foods (such as kim chee, green curry, etc) and I've really been enjoying the culinary delight that is your mouth being on fire. In a good way. I think it is in part due to becoming vegan; when one's palatte is not constantly inundated with fatty cream and cheese sauces, it becomes exposed to all of those flavors that were overwhelmed before. I now enjoy so many foods that I didn't even consider trying before.

So bring on the spicy recipes!:

Quinoa, blackened tofu (ED&BV!), cheater baked beans & simple stir-fried greens (Vcon)
Fantastic taste explosion dinner

At the recommendation from Lelly on the VFF, I made the Blackened Tofu from Eat Drink & Be Vegan!. I was not expecting to like this (after all, black = burnt, right?), but I was puh-leasantly surprised. Black does not = burnt, black = yummy crispy blackened layer of cajun-style spices on both sides of my tofu! Very very pleased, not TOO spicy, and the flavors were balanced nicely by the Cheater Baked Beans from Veganomicon,which = mmm, molassesy goodness. I really liked how easy yet delicious the beans were. I like sweeter baked beans, and these were perfect for me. Plus it calls for canned beans so if you're lazy (or busy) they are great when you're pinched for time. I added sides of quinoa, and the Simple Stir-Fried Greens, also from Veganomicon. This was my first time using mustard greens. They're very peppery and tender, and I used the optional chili oil which made them even more spicy. Highly recommended meal!

Blackened tofu (ED&BV!) sammich
Leftovers taste even better at the beach

The tofu also makes awesome sammiches. This is the blackened tofu (cut in half lengthwise) on polenta bread, with field greens, avocado, and chipotle-cilantro crema. We took these delicious little darlings to Hobbit Beach up on the Oregon coast along with bananas, trail mix, Newman-O's, chips, and a couple of beers we hadn't tried from Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head (one of our favorite breweries, sucks that they're not local), and Bayern Brewing (the doppelbock is reeeeally well-rounded and tasty). It was a lovely frolicky afternoon.

And one last trip down Spicy Lane: today is Cinco de Mayo! Which as every college student knows is about the conquering of France by alcohol. Er, Mexico. Er, something. Whatever, it's an excuse to drink. The temperature in Eugene finally rose above 'cold and rainy as all get out' so JP and I sipped homemade mojitos on the front lawn, and then made these for dinner to eat in the backyard (aka the paved back parking area where there's a plastic picnic table and chairs):

Baja-style tempeh (Vcon) in tacos
Baja-style tempeh tacos

They're the Baja-Style Tempeh Tacos from Veganomicon, but without any of the fancy fixins'. I didn't feel like buying anything or making the lime crema (I had leftover chipotle-cilantro crema from the picnic sandwiches), so I just used the chili-beer marinade for the tempeh (nice and easy, just needs to sit in there for at least an hour, then grilled on my grillpan) and then we made refried black beans and piled the tempeh, beans, the crema, and lots of veggies and cilantro on locally-made corn tortillas. I think this recipe is my favorite way I've EVER had tempeh. The tacos were spicy, warm, and refreshing all at the same time, and the perfect cruelty-free end to the first warm day of the year.