Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!



Happy whatever holiday you're celebrating, and if you're celebrating none, happy Wednesday!

We at the Sisters Vegan household do celebrate Christmas, though for us (well, me, anyway), it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with family. This year is particularly meaningful for us. Our grandparents were in a car accident on the night of Thanksgiving. Everyone is fine, though my grandma had to have knee surgery and is off her feet for a while. My mother's parents are some of the finest people in existence, and the love and support they give their grandchildren is without bounds. That, Charlie Brown, is what Christmas is all about. Loving unconditionally and joyfully.

...and COOKIES!

Cookies are the embodiment of love! Who doesn't like cookies? Cookies are the best way to win over family, snotty coworkers (*cough*), neighbors, and frenemies.

I was lucky enough to be picked to test for Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's cookie book coming out at the end of next year. If any of you heard a delighted shriek echoing across the Bay Area last week, that was me.

I used some of the recipes as my Christmas cookies this year. I was in charge of baking (and still have more to do!), so this whole arrangement worked out perfectly. Here are some previews:


Macadamia Ginger Drops 3 (Isa/Terry tester)
Macadamia Ginger Drops


Citrus Glitters (Isa/Terry tester)
Citrus Glitters


Gingerbread Biscotti 1 (Isa/Terry tester)
Gingerbread Biscotti - perfect for the holidays, no?


Cranberry white chocolate biscotti (Isa/Terry tester)
Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Biscotti - these are damn good

So on that note (i.e., loving unconditionally and joyfully), please consider helping out those who are less fortunate this year, human and nonhuman. Organize an office food drive through the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Donations to Salvation Army, Goodwill, and St. Vinnie's are down - maybe now is the time to go through your closets and donate those sweaters, scarves, and boots you never wear, so they can go to someone who will. Buy video games, toys, and books through Child's Play, which will be donated to children who are stuck in hospitals over the holidays.

Find animal organizations to get involved with at the 2009 AR Volunteer Roundup. Save a life by donating to an animal sanctuary. Volunteer to walk lonely puppies and play with abandoned kitties at an animal shelter.

Or better yet, save thousands of lives by going vegan. Make it your new year's resolution. It's the best Christmas present you can give the animals, the earth, and yourself.

Happy holidays, peace on earth, and may all the days of the next year be filled with love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Herbivore's E-Cookbooks



With rain and early darkness encroaching on my running and biking, AND the ubiquitous presence of vegan holiday baked goods, it's time for me to pay a wee bit more attention to how much and what I'm eating.

Enter Happy Herbivore, a blog devoted to fat-free, whole foods cooking. Lindsay says on her "About" page: "I created this blog as a way to bring healthy but delicious food to others. If I can help even one person eat healthier and feel better - my job here is done."

With two e-cookbooks and a slew of free recipes available, how can you NOT eat a healthy vegan diet, at least most of the time?

We've been trying out recipes from both e-cookbooks, and here's how the recipes have turned out:

Sneak Peak e-cookbook:


Mondo Chickpea Tacos (Happy Herbivore)
Mondo Chickpea Tacos

Mondo Chickpea Tacos (Happy Herbivore)

Love love love LOVE these tacos. In fact we're having them again tonight. Very easy, so cheap (especially if you buy dried chickpeas and cook them yourself). You can make them a little fancier if you make your own refried beans (we like Joanna's recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes), but if you're in a hurry, just use store-bought! It's such a snap to make and you'll be horfing down tacos in no time! We top ours with Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, avocado, romaine lettuce, tomato, cilanto, and hot sauce.

Pudge-free Holidays:


Happy Herbivore's mushroom stroganoff
Mushroom stroganoff (over noodles, with baked potato and swiss chard)

The boy has really missed stroganoff and this was my first attempt at a vegan recipe. He devoured 3/4 of the pan by himself!


BBQ pomegranate tempeh (VwaV), African kale and yams mash (Happy Herbivore No Pudge Holidays ecookbook) and tomatoes
African Kale and Yams Mash (with leftover BBQ pomegranate tempeh (VwaV) and tomatoes)



Baked Mac n Cheese (Happy Herbivore Pudge Free Holidays)
Baked Tex Mex Mac and Cheeze

I think this is now my favorite mac and cheese recipe. We made the Tex Mex variation (add in a can of chili), and I put slices of avocado on top. Mmm! Tasted even better the next day heated up as lunch.

We also made the Maple-Glazed Root Veggies but it wasn't to our taste, I think we're just too infatuated with roasted root veggies! It wasn't bad though and came together quickly on a night that I was really busy.

Also not pictured are the Maple Kissed Sweet Potato muffins, but they got eaten so quickly there was no time for a picture! They were some of my favorite muffins EVER, so these are a must-make! And if you don't like sweet potato, you can make them with the alternative pumpkin!

Downloadable almost immediately and only $5 each, Happy Herbivore e-cookbooks make a great last-minute holiday gift!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Proof that office potlucks CAN be fun



Today was our office's Secret Santa gift exchange and potluck. I was ambivalent about the potluck; the sign-up list for dishes that people were bringing was mostly non-vegan stuff (except for me, obviously), so I figured I'd eat a lot of my hummus and chips and buy something afterwards.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I walked into work this morning and found out that not one but TWO of my coworkers had brought in vegan food! One made these cookies sans the chocolate chips, and my boss made this Cheesy Bean Enchilada Casserole. Both were FABULOUS and were enjoyed by omnis AND the office vegan (yours truly) alike. I was really touched, I almost teared up. I don't like posting pictures of food where there's omni stuff visible but I was so touched by their wonderfulness that I wanted to post a picture and this was the only one I had (just don't look if you know you'll be offended):


Office Potluck - almost 1/3 vegan! :D


I made cards for all the dishes using this image printed out on cardstock and cut into tag shapes!

I brought three things: hummus (my go-to recipe is the one in Veganomicon, subbing sesame oil for olive oil and using extra lemon juice), cupcakes, and fudge.

The fudge was the Five Minute Coconut Fudge from My Sweet Vegan. It turned out great, and coworkers were sampling it before the potluck even started! I had one small hiccup while making it: the hot coconut milk and melted margarine didn't melt my chocolate chips, so I stirred everything together as the recipe said, spread it in the pan, and popped it into the oven (which was preheated for the cupcakes) for two or three minutes. After the chips melted I took it out, gave a quick stir with a silicone spatula, and then proceeded with the rest of the recipe, and it turned out beautifully.


Five Minut Coconut Fudge (MSV)


The cupcakes were the standard Cookies 'n Cream recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but instead of making them with Oreos (or Newman-O's, as I do), I made them with the candy cane JoJo's from Trader Joe's, which are randomly vegan in some parts of the country, and not vegan in other parts. Luckily, they ARE vegan in the Bay Area! (Or unluckily, because this means I have candy cane sandwich cookies to horf down...ugh, like I'm not already going into a sugar coma from all the holiday baked goods I've been eating). Anyway! I stole the idea from moooooooooo! on the PPK, who made these in mini-form for a birthday party I was invited to by Melisser to last weekend, and I ate like five of them while there and took more home. I added peppermint extract to the batter and I was worried that they were going to taste like toothpaste, but the mint really mellows out after baking. There was almost a disaster because I forgot to put the god damn cookies in the COOKIES 'N CREAM CUPCAKES...but it was averted. Huzzah! Hey simmer down there Tobias!


Candy Cane JoJo's Cookies 'n Cream Cupcakes (VCTOtW)


Anyhoo. All my food was much loved by coworkers, and it's seriously taking all my willpower not to go in and snarf down some more fudge.

Tonight we are celebrating both Kelly and JP's VEGANNIVERSARIES! YAYYYYYYY! Congratulations to the sis and the boyfriend! :3 I'm very proud of both of you for living a compassionate life for a YEAR now! You guys rock and make my life way more punk rock/awesome/wonderful. MUAH! BIG HUGS! There will be much eating at Weird Fish and Maggie Mudd's tonight (we finally get to use the gift certificate we won at the Vegan รก Go Go Book Bash back in September!).

P.S. What did I get for my secret Santa gift? A 6-pack of local beer! Someone obviously knows me well (thanks Mahlon!).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Orange!



I like orange skies...


View from our window, the SF skyline at sunset
That's San Francisco across the bay

...and orange food!

Maple roasted winter veggies (VwaV), orange-ginger tofu, kale
Ginger roasted winter veggies (VwaV), orange ginger baked tofu, and steamed kale

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pie in the sky



Last Friday the president of the company I work for was nice enough to take the entire staff out to Citron for a holiday dinner. AND, we were allowed to leave work an hour early to make it home and get dressed up. Since I live only 20 minutes away from work by bike, I used that extra hour to make pie!


Impossible apple streusel pie
Apple Streusel Pie



Impossible apple streusel pie


Hannah of BitterSweet recently published Mission: Impossible Pies, a wonderful e-cookbook with all sorts of quick easy 'impossible' pies (pies that "make their own pie crusts," or so my wonderful cook/baker mommy says). I knew that none of the desserts at the company party would be vegan so I thought I'd make this and it would be cooled by the time we got home that night! (When we stumbled home at 12:30am, haha...) The pie was super quick and easy to make and utilized ingredients I had on hand, especially since my grandma gave us a bag of home-grown Granny Smiths at Thanksgiving. I got home from work at 4:25pm, and had this pie in the oven by 5:00pm, leaving me with a full 2 hours to get dressed before we caught our bus to Oakland (during which I farted around on the internet, then freaked out at the time and got dressed in a hurry).

The dinner itself wasn't bad. Since I was in charge of planning it (somewhat at the last minute), I was able make sure the restaurant would be able to accommodate myself and my boyfriend. We started off with a nice salad of baby spinach, dates, and toasted pecans. We were told our entree would be roasted vegetables, and included carrots, potatoes, yams, parsnips, and green beans in some kind of yummy, herbalicious sauce.


Vegan dinner at Citron
Sorry for the shitteous photo, the lighting was mood-tastic


It was good but uninspired. I found myself thinking, "This is like $4.00 worth of root vegetables, and my boss is paying a LOT more than that..." and I kind of felt bad. And knowing what kinds of lovely, flavorful, gorgeous vegan entrees the many, many, MANY talented vegan food bloggers out there can produce, the snarky part of me ("What do you mean by 'part', Meg? Isn't your entire soul full of snark?") felt like snickering. Still, it was wonderful of Citron to accommodate vegans despite being a decidedly non-vegan restaurant.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

'Tis the season: Vegan Etsy



I've recently become addicted to Vegan Etsy, an Etsy team devoted to creating and selling cruelty-free crafts, many of which make perfect holiday gifts for the human and non-human loved ones in your life! If you give gifts, why not give lovely handmade gifts made by friendly vegans?

My first purchase was this dish set from Jeanette of VeganDish:


VeganDish



VeganDish dishes!


I was really sick of using the disposable plates, bowls, and silverware at work, but I also balked at the idea of using the same dishes as my coworkers (some of the TV dinners they microwave on them are FOUL...call me a pussy, but goddamn it if I wanted to eat something that smelled like a butt, there's another way to go about that entirely). I loved the colors and the style of her work, and Jeanette was nice enough to do a custom order for me! Needless to say I love my dishes, I use them every day at work, and I love being able to have a VEGAN label built right in so people will stay the fuck away from them! Snooty? Why, yes, yes I am, and I LOVE IT. Don't play, you love it too. Jeanette also included a bunnybutt keychain with my order and it's hanging on my desk! It makes me happy when I look at it. What's cuter than a bunnybutt?

I've also ordered a couple sets of blank cards from Michelle at MyZoetrope:


Vegan Etsy haul!



Holiday cards from MyZoetrope


These pictures don't do the cards justice, they're so cute and fun and a great way to encourage yourself or someone you love to whip out those Stabilos or other pen of choice and start writing! They're a great way to brighten someone's day, especially since letter writing seems to have gone the way of Mister T. Rex and Missus B. Saurus. I wish I'd taken a picture of the package they came in, it was covered with adorable drawings! It's not every day I get a package with an angry cinnamon roll on it!

That's just a SMALL example of what Vegan Etsy sellers have to offer. I want these recipe cards and these earrings and this desktop hedgehog like whoa. Give some brown sugar & shea butter soap to the loveable but stanky hippie in your life. This is the rockin'ist bag ever, perfect for sisters and BFFs. Buy something punky or pretty for your canine and feline companions. Buy a gift that will keep on giving: a vegan doggy treats cookbook, a vegan cookzine or a journal.

I know it's easy to get caught up in the consumer mindset of the holidays: TV commercials and radio ads and catalogs and hell, even relatives are telling us to BUY BUY BUY while the buyin's good! But if you buy from Etsy, at least you're not giving money to a huge corporation that doesn't give a crap you, or whether you're satisfied or not; you're buying from someone who put a lot of time and heart into their product, you're buying cruelty-free, and you're supporting fellow vegan artisans. I've had nothing but positive experiences with Vegan Etsy and I'm looking forward to more in the future!

Monday, December 8, 2008

PPK Sweet Swap






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On Saturday I met up with the sister and we went to the lovely Jay Moh's house for the PPK Sweet Swap! Kelly brought snickerdoodles that were DIVINE and I made a boatload of crispy oat cookies, which I'll be posting the recipe for soon. There were so many delicious sweets, and these aren't even all of them!


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2 kinds of truffles, brownies, and rice crispie treats, oh my!


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(My cookies are in the purplish bowl in the middlish back there) Baklava, chocolate chippers, savory snacks in the back!


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Melisser's amazing brownie/chickastick/whipped cream trifle, GF pumpkin white chocolate and chocolate chip cookies, Kelly's snickerdoodles, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies


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Almond cookies, cranberry chocolate chippers, fudge, rum balls, etc! Not picture: oatmeal chippers with rummy ice cream! I was in heaven!


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As you can see, we were very happy vegans. It was awesome to meet and talk with so many PPKers, ones I'd met before and those I hadn't. Let's do it again soon!

There are more pics from the event in this PPK thread for those interested, and you would be a fool not to be, because there are puppy pictures!!

On the way home, we were so high on sugar that we decided to walk the two miles instead of taking the bus, and chattered like ninnies the whole time! And then Kell made me dinner! :D Which she'll be posting about laters.


Oh god...food coma! Glad the snickerdoodles were a big hit though. They seem to win over any omni mouth I can stuff one into. Loved the experience, was great to hang out and not have to answer questions about how God wants us to eat animals between mouthfuls of food (this seems to be happening a lot recently).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gleegan baking





Wheat free chocolate chippers (Vcon)


I thought I'd share my first official foray into gleegan baking! I say official because last Christmas Kelly and I had an unofficial GF baking experience that was the result of lacking all the proper ingredients to make "normal" cupcakes (flour, leavening, etc). They were very tasty, if rubbery, banana-cinnamon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

Anyway. I wanted to make something wheat-free for a classmate of JP's who kindly let us park our car in her driveway while we were waiting for some paperwork so we could get a parking permit from the city of Berkeley (so we can drive it once a month, woo). I decided to stick with something simple; since it's a gift, I didn't want to run the risk of fucking anything up too badly!

This is the wheat-free chocolate chip cookies recipe from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Now, celiacs beware: the recipe uses oat flour. Some people with wheat intolerances/allergies can apparently tolerate it, but others can't. I'm sure that using a GF baking mix would be a fine substitute though; you can buy it or make your own.

These crispy little disks of cookieness turned out great, though flatter than I expected. The batter seemed a little runny, so I did a test batch of 6 cookies, which spread a LOT while baking:


Wheat free chocolate chippers (Vcon)


But I just added more oat flour until the mixture seemed more cookie batter-ish, and they turned out fine. I like thinner, crispier cookies so this is actually ideal for me! Here's a comparison of the first test batch and the ones with more oat flour added:


Wheat free chocolate chippers (Vcon)


For more gluten/wheat-free vegan fun, I recommend checking out Cupcake Kitteh and Gluten-Free Vegan!