Sunday, October 25, 2009

VeganMofo: Vegan at weddings

::sigh:: Going out to eat is hard enough. Weddings are even harder.Yesterday, a friend of mine from middle school got married. I was prepared for the worst, but it actually wasn't that bad, comparatively. I didn't think to take pictures until the dinner portion, so some of the best stuff from the cocktail hour is missing. They had bread, pasta (which I was able to get plain), sun dried tomatoes with spinach in garlic oil, some eggplant-y stew-y thing, marinated mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, and plenty of raw fruits and veggies. I mixed it all together and made a really yummy pasta salad.

(Apologies for the bad pictures. The lighting was awful.)
Later, we went into the other room for the main portion of the reception and this was on everyone's plate. It's a salad, with grilled veggies and fresh mozzarella. I gave another friend my mozzarella and she gave me her mushroom. Grilled portabella mushrooms are fantastic, but the rest was just okay to me. It wasn't spectacularly seasoned or anything.
The second course was pasta, but it wasn't vegan. After that, they gave everyone Italian ices. Mine was lemon flavored and quite enjoyable. I wasn't expecting to have anything dessert-y, so it was a pleasant surprise. Meanwhile, they took the orders for the main course. There was a vegetarian option (a vegetable lasagna), but of course no vegan option. My friend had told them ahead of time that there would be a vegan, but the waiter looked at me like I had seven heads. I explained that I needed something with no cheese or meat or dairy, etc. and he offered grilled vegetables. Fine.
As expected, the vegetables in question were almost exactly the same as the uninspiring vegetables in the first course but the mushroom was traded for asparagus and there were strips of roasted red pepper strips instead of tomato. Overall: blah. Now don't get me wrong. Grilled vegetables are great....when they are prepared correctly. At my sister's wedding last year, they made me the best grilled vegetables I have ever had. Ever.

What makes it worse is the fact that grilled vegetables are the standard go-to vegetarian option so I end up eating them all the time. Why is that the only thing omnis can think of? It's not even easy. It's actually really hard to make good grilled vegetables. They'd be much better off with a pasta dish like the one I made in the cocktail hour. The dish they gave me was so boring. The vegetables were poorly cooked so they were rubbery in some parts and oily in others. The only exception was the asparagus. It was perfectly cooked and well seasoned. And where did my mushrooms go? Mushrooms are the best. That was a serious fail for them.

And of course, it wouldn't be a wedding if I didn't have to answer a million questions about veganism. It was the usual questions: Why are you vegan? How long have you been vegan? Isn't it hard? and the standard statements: I could never; I like cheese too much. I could never give up seafood. etc. I know these questions are fueled by curiosity and, for the most part, genuine interest. Still, it's annoying because I have to be careful not to sound judgmental and not to insult the grand omnivorous diet and not get defensive and not sound too fanatical, etc. But the girl I was talking to seemed very nice and genuinely interested, so I didn't mind too much.

Ah weddings. But the point that really matters is that I had tons of fun at the wedding and it really was a lot of fun and beautiful and completely spectacular. Congrats to the happy couple!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

VeganMofo: Tempeh Stir Fry

I make a lot of 10 minute meals. I just don't have much time in the kitchen because I live with six other people, so my mom or sister is usually using the stove around dinner time. By the time they finish, I'm starving and I just want something as quick as possible. Hence, my quick and easy tempeh stir fry. First cut up some tempeh, and simmer it in a tiny bit of water until the water boils off. Then add some oil and the peppers and onions (or whatever you have on hand--bok choy, broccoli, etc) and pour some of Trader Joe's Island Soyaki teriyaki sauce over the top with a splash extra of soy sauce. Stir fry until the veggies are softened.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

VeganMofo: Sweets

The best thing about fall is that you have the excuse to put pumpkin in EVERYTHING. The funny thing is, I used to not like pumpkin, so I always kept away from things like this. But after giving some pumpkin-flavored lovelies a chance, I found that I really like it--except pumpkin pie, I don't really like the texture much. These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cupcakes are going to be the perfect substitutes for pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner this year.  These are on the borderline between cupcake and muffin, so you can pretend they're breakfast too (hypothetically, of course, I would never do that). Or top them with vegan cream cheese frosting for the perfect fall dessert. Yum!

And thanks to Meghan, I bring you Chocolate Peanut Butter Yaystacks! These are absolutely delicious and so easy to make too. Sadly, mine are not gluten free because I only had wheaty pretzels on hand. I definitely recommend these to everyone. The salty pretzels and the peanutty peanut butter go perfectly with the chocolately chocolate and they're so quick and easy, they're perfect for satisfying a chocolate craving.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

VeganMofo: Buffalo Wings

I haven't posted in a while because I haven't had a chance to upload some pictures (midterms + not feeling well + nephew's birthday + working on my Halloween costume = very busy times).

For today, I have no picture, but I did cook. I made the Chickenless Hot Wings from VeganDad. It did not go well. They came out rubbery and gluten-y. I don't think it's the fault of the recipe, though; I've heard rave reviews. It is more likely that I messed up at some point. I have issues making stuff from vital wheat gluten other than seitan. Maybe I'll try again someday with more kneading or something.

In the meantime, though, I'll just keep using the old tried and true Tempeh Wingz from Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

VeganMofo: Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 package frozen veggie meat crumbles (reconstituted TVP would work too)
3-4 cups cooked rice
salt to taste
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
6-8 bell peppers (depending on size)

Preheat oven to 375°. Heat the oil, onion, and garlic in a large skillet until the onions soften a little. Add the crumbles or TVP and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned and hot. Add rice, salt, and tomato sauce and cook until the flavors are blended. While that's cooking, cut the tops off the peppers and pull out all the seeds. Put them in a baking pan standing upright (Put the ones with uneven bottoms in the middle, so they can be supported by the surrounding peppers or walls of the pan). Fill them to the top with the rice mixture and bake, covered, for about an hour.

Inside shot:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

VeganMofo: hors d'oeurves

Confession: I love hors d'oeuvres! Maybe it's because the only appetizers I can usually eat at parties are raw veggies. Boring! So I made a dinner of appetizers (but only took a picture of the bruschetta). 
First, I made phyllo cups filled with Trader Joe's artichoke antipasto. They were super quick, so good for parties and very tasty. I also made pigs in a blanket using phyllo dough and veggie dogs. They were poorly wrapped so they unwrapped a bit in the oven. Next time, more pinching of the seam. And then I overcooked them, so the dogs were too chewy and they separated from the dough when you bit them. But overall flavor was great! Just like what I used to love as an omni. Most of the omnis at the house didn't want to try them, but my dad did, and he loved them. Last but not least, and my most favorite, was the bruschetta. Simple, but always awesome. Basily, garlicky, and tomatoey is the way to go with these!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

VeganMofo: I did it!

Meghan, you'll be proud of me, I finally tried tempeh bacon! I got this amazing vegan BLT wrap from Cornucopia, a natural foods store in Sayville. I didn't even know this store was there, but I'm glad I happened upon it. It was absolutely, positively delicious. I have to try to make it myself; I'll bet it's even better freshly made!

Also, happy birthday to my nephew, Aidan! He turns two today! 

Monday, October 12, 2009

VeganMofo: Breakfast

Scrambled tofu. I'm pretty much addicted. I make it all the time. I love to have a big brunch on Sunday mornings with scrambled tofu, home fries, and toast. Ahhh the best ever. I use a variation of Isa's recipe. It's the quickest, easiest thing ever. I like to go to Trader Joe's for my tofu because it's the firmest I've ever tried. Also, I usually save an empty spice container and fill it with several batches of the spice blend. Then I just shake however much I need onto the tofu, so I can make as much or as little as I need.

Scrambled Tofu
1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

Spice Blend:
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt

Heat a little oil in a skillet and toss in the onion, garlic, and tofu. Cook until the tofu starts to get a little browned. Add the spices and cook a little more. If it's too dry, add a few splashes of water. Cook for another minute or so and you're done! If you want to get a little fancy, add some veggies. My favorite is spinach and tomatoes.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

VeganMofo: Best Alfredo Ever.

Fettuccine Alfredo that doesn't taste like nutritional yeast! It is possible! Vegan versions of cheese based sauces usually taste like nutritional yeast and anytime I make them, they usually end up in the garbage or on my nutritional-yeast-loving-friend anita's doorstep, so it took me two years to muster the courage to finally try this recipe. Now I'm in love.I haven't had cheese alfredo sauce in years, so I can't say that it tastes exactly the same, but I think it's pretty damn close. My omni family liked it too. Including my 8-year-old niece who is very picky.
The recipe is from Lachesis on the PPK. I just left out the cooking wine because I didn't have any and I didn't  do the whole stroganoff thing. I just did the sauce and added Trader Joe's chicken strips.

VeganMofo: Survey

I got this survey from Whoa Wren. Pretend I posted this yesterday. I didn't make anything special yesterday because I had some leftovers to eat, so I'll do this in place of yesterday's post and I'll make something to post later today.

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Chocolate almond milk is pretty darn tasty.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
I was recently lusting over the chicken wings from Vegan Dad, so i'll probably make those at some point this month. Also lasagna and Puerto Rican rice with gandules (pigeon peas)

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Salt. NOTHING else, people!

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
Maybe the time I put baking soda instead of baking powder in biscuits. ugh that was so gross.

5. Favorite pickled item?
Pickles! I don't think I've ever had anything else pickled.

6. How do you organize your recipes?
I don't. It's horrible. I keep meaning to put everything on index cards and put them in this recipe box I have, but then I just lose the index cards.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
Rice, garlic, and tofu.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Eating tuna sandwiches on toasted bread with friends at my house. We used to say "one more bite and I'll go crazy!" with every bite until the last one. Then we'd go crazy. Ah, good times.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
That chocolate peanut butter one from Soy Delicious

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Ooh it's between the food processor and the stand mixer. They are both wonderful.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
I don't know if any of the non-vegan books were mine. My first vegan cookbook was How it All Vegan

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Tofu and Quinoa salad

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
It's been tempeh lately, but usually tofu

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Bagels, Boca chick'n patties, and apple pie

20. What's on your grocery list?
I actually went shopping recently, so I don't need anything now. I'm running low on rice flour, though.

21. Favorite grocery store?
Trader Joe's

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
Ham and cheese on a croissant. I just don't feel like making croissants ever. They're just so labor intensive.

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
Henry and Zelda

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Just plain dark chocolate. But I really want to try the Chick-O-Stick

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
I bought a wrap from a store near my school. It was like $8, and I was just going home anyway so I could have easily made myself something. But I just had to buy something from them--support the vegan businesses ya know?

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
Nutritional yeast because I hate the flavor. So I always have anxiety trying to decide if it can be left out or if it's necessary/not noticeable. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

VeganMoFo: Cheater's Chana Masala

This is cheater's chana masala because it's not the way you're supposed to make it. It's not authentic and it doesn't taste AS good as when you do it right, but holy crap is it tasty. To make this, you just start by sauteeing some onions in a pot. Then you put in roughly equal amounts of curry powder and garam masala and a little bit of tomato paste or tomato sauce. Then you add canned chickpeas and more of the seasoning if needed. If it's dry, add some water. If it's too wet, boil some water off. Just let it simmer a little bit for the flavors to blend. Serve over rice or with naan or whatever. I had it with some plain ol flatbread.

Monday, October 05, 2009

VeganMoFo: 100 vegan foods

I got this list from B.A.D. (Unhealthy Vegan) who got it from Jodie (The Picky Vegan) who got it from it's original creator Jenn (Tiny Choices)The rules are simple folks, steal this list from the blog you read it off of, giving props/credit/shout outs or plugs to those who posted before you and bold the ones you have eaten… please copy the list and paste it into the comments below, bolding the ones you’ve tried!

My total: 27, damn, I suck!

1. Molasses
2. Cactus/Nopales
Scrambled Tofu
Grilled Portobella Caps
5. Fresh Ground Horseradish
6. Sweet Potato Biscuits
7. Arepa
Vegan Cole Slaw
Ginger Carrot Soup
Fiddlehead Fern
Roasted Elephant Garlic
Almond Butter Toast
Aloe Vera 
15. H and H Bagel NYC
Slow Roasted Butternut Squash
17. White truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
Freshly ground wasabi
. Coconut Milk Ice Cream (not store bought) 
Heirloom tomatoes
Orchard-fresh pressed apple cider
23. Organic California Mango (in season Sept-Oct only)
Papaya Smoothie
Raw Scotch Bonnet (habanero) pepper
27. Goji Berry Tea
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie
30. Radishes and Vegan Buttery Spread
Oven fresh Sourdough bread 
33. Sangria made with premium fruit and juices
Acai Smoothie
36. Blue Foot Mushrooms
Vegan Cupcake from Babycakes nyc
Sweet Potatoes and Tempeh combo
Spelt Crust Pizza
Salt and Pepper Oyster Mushrooms
42. Jicama Slaw
43. Pumpkin Edamame Ginger Dumplings
Hemp Milk
45. Rose Champagne
46. Fuyu
47. Raw Avocado-Coconut Soup
48. Tofu Pesto Sandwich
49. Apple-Lemon-Ginger-Cayenne fresh-pressed juice…with Extra Ginger
Grilled Seitan
. Prickly pear
52. Fresh Pressed Almond Milk
Concord Grapes off the vine
Coconut Water fresh from a young coconut
Organic Arugula
Vidalia Onion
58. Sampler of organic produce from Diamond Organics
Honeycrisp Apple
60. Poi
61. Vegan Campfire-toasted Smores
Grape seed Oil
Farm fresh-picked Peach
Freshly-made pita bread with freshly-made hummus
65. Chestnut Snack Packs
66. Fresh Guava
67. Mint Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

68. Raw Mallomar from One Lucky Duck, NYC
Fried plantains
Golden Beets
72. Barrel-Fresh Pickles
Liquid Smoke
Meyer Lemon
75. Veggie Paella
Vegan Lasagna (raw optional)
 Homemade Soy Milk
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Lychee Bellini
Tempeh Bacon
Sprouted Grain Bread
83. Lemon Pepper Tempeh 

Vanilla Bean
Carrot you pulled out of the ground yourself 
Vegan In-Season Fruit Pie
Corn Chowder
High Quality Vegan Raw Chocolate--how high quality?
Yellow fuzz-free Kiwi 
92. White Flesh Grapefruit
93. Harissa
Coconut Oil
95. Jackfruit
Homemade Risotto
98. Seedless ‘Pixie’ Tangerine
Gourmet Sorbet, not store bought
Fresh Plucked English Peas

Sunday, October 04, 2009

VeganMoFo: Epicurious Game

This is a fun game that Isa came up with. You have to go to and follow Isa's instructions and then try to veganize whatever recipe you end up with. I got this recipe called "Minced Chicken with Vegetables in Lettuce Cups." I've been wanting to make something like this ever since I tried something similar in a friend's dad's restaurant, so it was the perfect challenge for me. I used seitan instead of chicken and actually added vegetables (instead of that recipe's pitiful excuse for vegetables). The sauce is somewhat different and the process is way different. Their way sounded really gross. I didn't measure everything when I made this, but this is approximate quantities to start with. Adjust according to taste.

Seitan and Vegetable Lettuce Cups

1 head iceberg lettuce
1 cup chopped seitan (I used the veganomicon recipe)
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup chopped cremini or mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped baby corn 
1/4 cup chopped water chestnuts
1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 tbsp cornstarch
Peanut oil for stir frying

Heat a tablespoon or two or oil in a wok or big skillet and add all the vegetables except for the lettuce. Let them heat a little while you mix the other ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the sauce mixture and stir fry until the vegetables are soft. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Peel off lettuce leaves and put a couple of spoonfuls of the filling in each and eat!