Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving


Season's greetings, vegans, vegetarians and others! Kelly here staving off a food coma with some Thanksgiving blogging. Meg and JP and I are currently draped on furniture in the living room here digesting an ample amount of vegan desserts. To give you an impression, let me outline the vegan portion of our thanksgiving menu for you:

1. Pumpkin Black Bean Casserole from FatFree Vegan
2. Mom's Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Colleen Patrick-Godreau's Mushroom Gravy
3. Grandma's Red Cabbage
4. Michelle's Butternut Squash Stuffing
5. Grandma's Rolls
6. Cranberry Sauce (2 kinds!)
7. Green Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Candied Balsamic Walnuts



And the dessert menu:

1. Blackberry Pie
2. Dreena Burton's Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
3. Prune Cake
4. Chocolate Chip Prune Bars



While we found it kind of a bummer that we couldn't dissuade the family from having a turkey this year, we want to stress how lucky we are to have parents, cousins and grandparents that made us awesome vegan food. Our super cool german grandma converted her amazing blackberry pie recipe and her rolls to versions without dairy and eggs for us! How awesome is that!?

I am so stuffed! I am also thankful that we have such a wonderful vegan-friendly family. We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, free of drama and/or snide comments! And if not, well, you have a month to recover and find some amazing vegan recipes to dazzle your family with at Christmas.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving breakfast



Even if you don't like traditional Thanksgiving fare (I know you're out there), how about a sweet yet hearty start to your Thanksgiving morning? Perfect for filling up on if you're facing a dinner with vegan-unfriendly family or clueless cooks.

Making Cornmeal and Cranberry Pancakes
Cornmeal and cranberry pancakes from BitterSweet


(Made with yellow cornmeal instead of the called-for white, because I didn't have any.)

AND it's festive, because corn and cranberries are actually native to North America! (Unlike most of the "traditional" Thanksgiving foods...I heartily recommend the "Thanksgiving FOR the birds" podcast from Compassionate Cooks for more on how we pick and choose our traditions.)


Cornmeal and Cranberry Pancakes


The tartness of the cranberries goes perfectly with the sweetness of maple syrup. I can see these going really well with Dreena Burton's Celestial Cream or eaten later cold with some pumpkin butter spread over them, as well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hey chickadee



Chickpea cutlet time! I'd been eyeballing these Veganomicon delectable dinner delights for a long time, especially since I hear nothing but good things about them. I love chickpeas, but not nearly as much as JP does, so he was super excited. He likes them so much, he made me promise to make them at least once a week from now on.

One small thing: I managed to burn them a little both times with both methods. Let my mistakes be a message to you, my beloved readers: don't trust your oven OR stove, and read comics while waiting for the timer to go off; actually pay attention while cooking. I've learned this the hard way so many times...and still sneak off to play on the internets or read Fruits Basket, only to end up with crispy non-critters.


Chickpea cutlets Attempt #1 (Vcon) (pan-fried)
First attempt: pan-fried


I have to say, I like the pan-frying method better as far as taste, but I felt like I used a lot more oil, so I'll probably save it for special occasions. That said, this recipe is INCREDIBLY easy to make. The hardest part is probably mashing chickpeas, just because I don't think mine were cooked QUITE enough. You basically throw all your ingredients into a bowl, knead for three minutes, cut into quarters, and voila, cutlets. The texture is so toothsome and delicious, a little lemony and earthy, it beats any commercial fakemeat product hands down. I served them with mashed potatoes and the Veganomicon mushroom gravy (also delish, perfect for Thanksgiving, hint hint!).


Chickpea cutlets (Vcon) attempt #2 (baked)
2nd attempt: baked


I burnt these ones a little more, which is why they don't look fabulous, but they were still really yummy, especially slathered in stone-ground mustard. Served up with leftover mashed potatoes and gravy, and roasted veggies (onion/bell pepper/garlic/zucchini/sweet potato). I liked that this method didn't use as much oil, but the texture wasn't quite as pleasing as the pan-fried ones. Still good though.

These are so quick to put together, especially on a weeknight, all you need is some veggies and maybe a grain or some crusty bread to go with it, and you have an amazing meal. I heartily recommend you go and make these as soon as humanly possible.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Recent dinners






Ancho-Lentil Soup with Grilled Pineapple (Vcon)
Ancho-Lentil Soup with Grilled Pineapple (Veganomicon)


Delicious, wonderful, spicy (I doubled the spice) perfect-for-autumn soup. You wouldn't think that sweet grilled pineapple would complement the ancho so well, but it does! It's like culinary magic!


Brooklyn Pad Thai
Brooklyn Pad Thai (VwaV)


Minus pepper sub carrots and mushrooms. As you might recall, tamarind concentrate was among my haul from the Thai market, so I finally got to use it in this recipe! It really adds an "authentic" flavor (ie, one of those tastes I notice in restaurant pad thai but couldn't seem to replicate at home). I also used wide rice noodles since that was all I had.


BBQ pomegranate tofu (VwaV), green bean salad (VYY), steamed kale
BBQ pomegranate tofu (VwaV), green bean salad (VYY), and steamed kale


Mom and dad gave me LOADS of pomegranates, which, in addition to eating as is, I love to use as a finishing touch for the tofu. I must say, either my culinary skills have improved immensely since last year or the different brand of tofu really helped. This recipe is AMAZING and I can't get enough of the sauce. (And of course, VeganYumYum's green bean salad...I substituted mirin for the white wine since I never seem to have any wine that doesn't go straight into my belly...)

Next up: I finally made the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon! Stay tuned!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hannah tester recipe #2



Yay, the next test recipe from the multi-talented Hannah from BitterSweet! This recipe sent my taste buds soaring with two of my favorite flavors - cherry and coconut!


Cherry Maccaroon Tart (Hannah tester recipe)
Cherry Macaroon Tart


A crispy yet chewy crust of coconut, filled with an amazingly addictive dark cherry filling. This was made using frozen cherries, as it's not exactly cherry season, but you can use fresh, too! I took one little taste of the filling as I was cooking it on the stove and then proceeded to eat about half of it, it was so good! I could barely wait until it had set so I could eat it. And it was pretty easy and very quick to throw together - another plus for a busy bee like me!

And I was also pleased that it matched my nail polish:


Cherry Maccaroon Tart (Hannah tester recipe)


Vegan nail polish + vegan baking = happiness!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sometimes you just have to chill out...



...and have a salad. Last weekend was all about the comfort food (biscuits and gravy, Indian food, pizza, etc.), so I detoxed with this lovely bowl of happiness on Monday night while we watched a couple episodes of Blue Planet.


Nommy salad


Field greens, mushrooms, olives, sprouts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, carrot, radish, veg bacon bits, drizzled with Annie's Naturals Shiitake & Sesame Vinaigrette. Served with crusty french bread. (The carrots and walnuts are from my grandma!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Roast your root veggies



...because it makes them indescribably delicious!


Roasted carrots, broccoli, and cashew-ginger tofu (ED&BV!)
Roasted carrots along with steamed broccoli and cashew ginger tofu from Eat Drink & Be Vegan! by Dreena Burton

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Be kind to sheepies (and other woolly animals)



As winter rolls around and I start shivering in 55 degree weather (I don't want to hear about how it's below 30 where you are - my chill is enhanced by my icy cold heart, sob!), clothing stores start hawking wool like it's made of pure happiness and will cure all your ills. I was never a wool fan to begin with (my skin does not like the scratchies), but when I first went vegan, I was sort of ambivalent about the wool issue.

'Meh,' I thought, 'It's not like it's fur, it doesn't hurt anyone, and besides, they NEED to be sheared, right?'

I am the first to admit I was dead wrong. Emphasis on dead.

Wool vocabulary every vegan should know:

Flystrike: [A]n animal or human disease caused by parasitic dipterous fly larvae feeding on the host's necrotic or living tissue. Blowfly strike, known as myiasis, is a common disease in sheep, especially in areas where there are hot and wet conditions. The female flies lay their eggs on the sheep in damp, protected areas soiled with urine and faeces, mainly on the sheep's breech (buttocks). It takes approximately 8 hours to a day for the eggs to hatch, depending on the conditions. This results in sores as the larvae lacerate the skin; this is the primary reason for the early removal of lambs' tails. The larvae then tunnel into the host's tissue causing irritating lesions. After about the second day bacterial infection occurs and if left untreated causes toxemia or septicemia. This leads to anorexia and weakness and if untreated will lead to death. Blowfly strike accounts for over $170 million a year in losses in the Australian sheep industry and so prevention measures such as mulesing are practiced. - Wikipedia

Mulesing: In Australia, the most commonly raised sheep are Merinos, specifically bred to have wrinkly skin, which means more wool per animal. This unnatural overload of wool causes many sheep to collapse and even die of heat exhaustion during hot months, and the wrinkles collect urine and moisture. Attracted to the moisture, flies lay eggs in the folds of skin, and the hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive. To prevent this so-called "flystrike," Australian ranchers perform a barbaric operation-called "mulesing"-where they force live sheep onto their backs, restrain their legs between metal bars, and, without any painkillers whatsoever, slice chunks of flesh from around their tail area. This is done to cause smooth, scarred skin that can't harbor fly eggs. Ironically, the exposed, bloody wounds themselves often get flystrike before they heal. - Save the Sheep!

Live export: Millions of sheep who are less profitable to wool farmers are discarded for slaughter. This results in the cruel live export of 6.5 million sheep every year from Australia to the Middle East and North Africa, where sheep are crammed aboard multitiered open-deck ships. Nearly 800,000 sheep enter the live export trade from the U.K. and are slaughtered abroad.

Australian and New Zealand sheep are slaughtered in the Middle East, after enduring a grueling, weeks- or months-long journey on extremely crowded, disease-ridden ships with little access to food or water through all weather extremes. Many sheep fall ill, many become stuck in feces and are unable to move, and many are trampled to death by other sheep trying not to fall or trying to reach water when it is available. Shipboard mortality ranges up to 10 percent.
- Save the Sheep!

Mutton: From the earliest of times there was complicity in the use of wool. Merinos, which were originally from Spain, are the most efficient wool producers. Mutton breeds, which primarily originated in England, are used predominately for meat. Cross-breeds are raised for the dual purpose of meat and wool. Nevertheless, Merinos also yield mutton and mutton breeds also yield wool. No sheep escapes either function; it is just a matter of emphasis. Essentially, all wool is a slaughterhouse product. - What's wrong with wool?

Paid by volume: Because shearers are usually paid by volume rather than by the hour, they often work too fast and disregard the animals’ welfare. Sheep are routinely punched, kicked, and cut during the shearing process. - Vegan Voice: Why Wool is Bad News

If the facts aren't enough to sway you, consider this. Walk into an Old Navy or Gap or JC Penny or other clothing store. Go over to a stack of wool sweaters. There's like 20 or so, right? Then take a look around the store, and see how many of those stacks there. Consider that there are many, many more of these stores, filled with stacks of wool sweaters and coats and mittens and scarves and hats and boots. How much wool did it take to make all of those? And how many sheep need to be sheared in order to make that much wool? The Wikipedia article I quoted above talks about how flystrike costs Australian farmers $170 million in losses every year - translate that into how many sheep are suffering, especially when you consider that flystrike often occurs even when mulesing is used.

This image of stacks of sweaters and piles of gloves is no different than stacks of egg cartons or blocks of cheese in the supermarket, and the underlying ideology is no different. The concern is NOT for the animals involved: it's putting as much "product" on the shelves as possible, and quickly. Commercial sheep shearers have the same thing on their minds as slaughterhouse workers trying to butcher animals as they're moving along the kill floor: faster faster faster. Get it done.

This is not a mindset that allows compassion or concern for an animal that is nothing more than material for a sweater.

The bottom line: exploiting another creature for fashion is not nice. So quit it.

More information for your consideration:

Save the Sheep!

What's wrong with wool?

Wool: the reality for sheep

Veg For Life: The Truth about Down, Leather, Wool, & Other Fibers

Vegan Society: Sheep & Wool

Inside the Wool Industry <--well cited!

I'll be doing an entry soon about the best places to get non-wool winter goods, as well as an entry on being vegan and knitting/crocheting, for those of you who are knitters like myself! :D

Monday, November 10, 2008

I <3 turnips



My new favorite root vegetable, beautifully smooth and creamy in The Garden of Vegan's Country Turnip and Carrot Soup (with vegan bacon bits on top...yes, I have an unhealthy obsession, so what?).


Country Turnip and Carrot Soup


Why should you go get some turnips? They last for flippin' EVER. Seriously. Had these been carrots or parsnips, lo, they would have perished eons ago. But these robust little babies kept soldiering on, resolute in their determination to end up in my tummy-tummy.

Plus, soup season is upon us. I never liked soup before I went vegan - now, I am all about that shiz. One cutting board and one big pot and maybe a wooden spoon gets dirty and that's it? Heck yeah. I hate doing the dishes. Dirty dishes are the best reason to get yourself a boyfriend, IMHO. Laziness is, oddly enough, a great motivator.

So get thee to your nearest farmer's market, heave some veggies and water into a pot and voila, soup. It's pretty great.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Leftovers



You'll have to forgive me for not posting for a while. My 99% sureness that I did not pass that test, and the looming knowledge that I will probably NOT being going to grad school next year, and also the crap weather (until yesterday) merged to make Meg into a big smelly lazy lump of grumpy depressive motivationless suck.*

Hence why there's nothing but a couple of really old zucchini and an ancient tub of miso in my fridge. No motivation = "Hmm, I should go grocery shopping (and do laundry), but I could sit on my ass and read Perez Hilton's blog for 3 hours instead."

No one can withstand the power of snarky commentary concerning Lindsay Lohan's latest drams. It's like sweet sweet crack candy.

So I've been making a lot of I'm just going to take everything in my fridge and put it in a pan and call it a night dinners.


Election night dinner! 1
Roasted sweet potatoes and delicata squash, maple tempeh (Get It Ripe), green bean salad (VeganYumYum) and leftover crunchy breads from the Halloween party at work.


And Bridgeport IPA, of course.

This was our election night dinner, eaten while curled up on the couch listening to NPR. Sweet potatoes and squash were from last week's farmer's market, and the beans were from my mom's garden. I can't get enough of this green bean salad recipe from VeganYumYum, it's so simple to put together but it's so tasty! The maple tempeh from Get It Ripe is fabulous and took no time at all to put together. The squash and taters were tossed in olive oil with rosemary, salt, and pepper. NOM! I cried into my Bridgeport when NPR announced that Obama had won. 8 years is a long time.


Stuffed acorn squash
Stuffed acorn squash


I had a long day on Wednesday, and luckily JP had the foresight to put the acorn squash we had sitting on the counter in the oven. What to have with it was more of a challenge. Enter the magic frying pan! In went leftover maple tempeh, chopped zucchini, black beans, kale, and chipotle chili powder, and then into the squashy bowl that went. It was really good, if I do say so myself. The filling was sweet and spicy, and it really went well with the creamy acorn squash.


'Leftovers' Fried Rice
Leftovers fried rice


JP had a late night last night, and so it was one of the rare times where I'm cooking for one person. Not wanting to add to the stack of dirty dishes, I started chopping and came up with this fried rice. It's got leftover brown rice, chopped zucchini and carrots from my grandma's garden, frozen peas and corn, veg bacon bits, a slice shallot, and black beans, all fried in just a tiny bit of oil and a healthy dose of Bragg's Liquid Aminos, and topped with some avocado. I made some for John later (the douche who arranged dinner for their meeting LIED ON PURPOSE about some of the food being vegan; as in "Shhh, don't tell the vegans but this has butter in it" - WHUT?!), and added green onion and kale and fried it with tamari instead of Bragg's and it was even deliciouser.

I encourage everyone to show their fridges some love and dig through and find some stuff to make nommable leftovery food with.

*(And also hence why I'm going out and getting wrecked tonight. w00t! One thing though: Berkeley needs more bars! Come on, this is a COLLEGE town? There should be a bar every two feet. AND THIS IS NOT THE CASE! One WITHIN two miles radius of my apartment would be nice...show the boozesluts in this town some respect, Berkizzle!)

Oh also: OBAMA FOR THE WIN! WOO! Bay Area people: if you're in San Francisco around 5:30pm tonight, go protest Prop 8, because that hater shiz is NOT what California is all about. We're all about the love here, and all kinds of love, not just lame unsexy hater straight love, people - ALL KINDS DAMMIT.