Saturday, December 12, 2009

Adjust your bookmarks

Well, despite the rumors, we've been eating pretty well the last few months, we just haven't always had the time to post about it.

In the interest of saving time, we've moved the blog to a short-format tumblr blog here:

See you over there!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sweet Tooth

In the interest of frugality and out of a sense of DIY-i-tude, I was going to make our bread this weekend. But then I made cupcakes and ice cream instead. Oops.

These are chocolate avocado cupcakes, from Vegetarian Times, sans the glaze they called for (and didn't really need anyway), because I couldn't be bothered. I was too busy making Peanut Butter Chocolate Chile Ice Cream, as inspired by this episode of Everyday Dish.

Neither of these are particularly thrifty or healthy. Those cupcakes call for a full CUP of maple syrup! I got a good deal on a giant jar of the good Vermont stuff at the greenmarket, but holy cow, a cup is a LOT of syrup, and syrup, deal or no deal, is not cheap. They are delicious and moist and perfect, though, so it's worthwhile. Especially if you've been dreaming about them for a week like I have. See how dark and delicious they look? That is some serious chocolate action. They do look disgusting when you're mixing the avocado up, though. It turns out looking a lot like snot or the slime from Double Dare:

The ice cream is in the freezer, and will be ready tomorrow, when I have nothing but cupcakes and ice cream for dinner.
 I made it with hemp milk, peanut butter, brown sugar, cayenne, NM red chile powder, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. Early tastes are promising!

Migas, two ways

While visiting the Porters on the Cape (I promise I will eventually put up the pictures of our delicious meals there, as soon as I get them from Pete), we jotted down this recipe from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express, which I love because it's organized seasonally, and is written sensibly, which is to say, with no real formal measurements in the recipes. The whole book is full of recipes like the ones I used to get from my mom over the phone, jotted down in a notebook that is now spattered with batter and oil.

The recipe we brought home to test run was nice & simple and combines two things we love: chickpeas and leafy greens. Our go-to quick & healthy dinner is sauteed chickpeas (with or without garlic, depending non our rush & what's on hand) seasoned liberally with turmeric and kale, chard, or spinach steamed on top and stirred in. It's filling, it's good for you, and it's really easy. Migas, a la Bittman are pretty much the same thing, but with fried bread chunks, no turmeric and a dash of cumin. Pete was worried that they would be bland, but he didn't need to. So yum. (I think it also helped that we cooked our own chickpeas with a clove of garlic & a bay leaf in the water, a la Kellie Porter.)
As if I needed another reason to love Mark Bittman.

While I was looking for the recipe online, to see if Bittman said anything else about it online, I came across a bunch of posts about the more traditional TexMex version of migas, made with eggs & torn up stale tortillas, and a bunch of cheese. Not vegan, but delicious, and we did have some stale corn tortillas in the I winged it, subbing black beans for chickpeas, and corn tortillas for bread, and chard for kale and adding a couple of chopped chipotles in adobo (hot!) and a tomato.

These turned out to be equally delicious (Pete didn't like the smokiness of the adobo sauce, but I didn't mind it), and made a huge amount of bean-chard deliciousness, which I had in burritos for breakfast for the next few days. This one's easy, cheap, and yummy!

Also, congrats to Laura on going all-veg! I've been thinking about putting together a post of resources and tips for eating vegetarian on the cheap, and places to find good and simple recipes. Hopefully I'll get that down here in the next week or so!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Laura the Vegetarian

My identity and practice as a vegetarian have now begun. Of course, most people I know ask me why I've decided to forgo meat (others congratulate me), and the reasons are many and varied. There are aspects of politics, the environment, and my own feelings about how animals are treated in the meat industry that have contributed to this lengthy decision. Part of the change is for health (though I've been told to make sure to replace that protein in my diet) as I want to increase my vegetable consumption. It also seems highly practical in a lot of ways. I will save money buying groceries and will cook at home more often, which I enjoy. The main reason for the choice, though, is that I realized I don't need meat on an emotional/intellectual level, so why eat it?

I enjoyed cooking in Costa Rica a lot and below is a photo of sauteed onion and bell pepper over rice made in the villa we stayed at in San Ramon. It's good to be home in my own kitchen with things like cheese graters and an oven. I'm hoping to post a lot more to this blog in my continued adventures of cooking vegetables because they are so tasty and wonderful.

I am a bit worried about how to start this endeavor without spending a lot of money. I know that in the long run I will save money, but starting out getting spices and cooking supplies can be very costly. I have a fairly decent stock of spices and some staples, but things like muffin tins, baking dishes, cast-iron pans, etc., are lacking in my hodge-podge kitchen. Regardless, I've got the means and the know-how and the hunger, so here goes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Turn Over a New Leaf, or, How to eat a bunch of kale every day.

Our mother & stepfather live in the charming beachside town of Half Moon Bay, California. I love to visit them for so many reasons (they are fabulous, the beach is nearby and the pelicans fly right along the waves if you sit on the beach early enough in the morning, they live much nearer to my siblings and the all-important nephew), and one of them is the coastal farms all around and the Californian ecological ethos that makes it possible to get good, fresh, local, healthy food.

A fairly recent addition to the area, and the list of places I like to visit when I'm out there, is a local chain of grocery stores (pardon me--community markets) called The New Leaf. The store seems kind of like Whole Foods at first, and it is, but if Whole Foods weren't evil and corporate, but actually what they present themselves to be: committed to sustainable agriculture, commerce and community. They source as much as they can locally, produce-wise, and tell you where stuff comes from and the staff is super friendly and like to let you taste things and make conversation. It's probably a lot like what Whole Foods was like when it was a whippersnapper.

Last time we were out there, my mom pointed out, in the deli case, a kale salad that she & Mike had been enjoying a lot lately, and knowing how I feel about kale (and worried that vegan me will starve if she doesn't get tons of special food for me), she got two big containers of it. You guys, I lived on that stuff for the week I was there, and I never ever got sick of it even a little bit. It was good on its own, and it was good with avocado on top and it was good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We ended up going back to get more, I ate so much of it. So of course when I left, I wrote down the ingredients listed on the label and promised myself that I would try to duplicate it at home because I really need to eat more green leafies.

Here's the list:
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds
sesame seeds
red onion
liquid aminos (Bragg's)
lemon juice
olive oil

So here's what I did tonight, when I finally made this salad at home, and it turned out to be just as good as the New Leaf's version:
  • Wash and stem two bunches of farmer's market kale, then tear or chop into bite-sized pieces.
  • Put the kale in a mixing bowl with a half teaspoon of salt and massage the kale until it wilted down and turned emerald green and was stewing in its own sweet juices.
  • Chop half a red onion into dicey pieces, add to bowl.
  • Add a handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Mine were raw, but you could toast them, I suppose.
  • Add another big handful of sunflower seeds. Again, mine were raw, but this is optional.
  • Add a generous pile of sesame seeds. These were toasted, because that's what I've got and that's how I like them.
  • Squeeze the juice of one lemon into small bowl.
  • Add a generous squirt of Bragg's Liquid Aminos. (Maybe I'll measure next time, but I think it would be hard to go wrong here.)
  • Add a couple of generous squirts of flax oil. (I know it's not on the list, but if you're going to eat healthy, you might as well go all the way. Also, flax oil has a really lovely nutty flavor that I have grown quite fond of.)
  • Add a little olive oil, because you can't go wrong with olive oil. Probably not necessary, what with the flax oil, but it was on the list, so I added some.
  • Whisk to emulsify and pour into the salad bowl.
  • Toss that salad up and you're ready to eat!
This is a recipe that will keep in the fridge for a while. Make a whole bunch and take it for lunch every day! Mix it up by adding apple slices and raisins, or topping it with baked tofu, or tempeh cooked in some delicious manner, or add home made croutons just before eating or eat it over rice or other cooked grains. It's great in the summer, because you don't cook anything, and great in the winter because there's only kale and onions at the farmer's market in the winter. It's great nutritionally because between the kale and the seeds you get a ton of calcium and proteins and other good stuff. It's cheap, too, and it feels like a real meal. I'm full right now. So full. And I have lunch for tomorrow. Did I mention that the whole thing only took me about half an hour?

Sunday, August 23, 2009


As we all know, Pete loves potatoes. No brunch is complete without some kind of home fries. Since making the Lemon Roasted Potatoes (minus lemons) from Veganomicon for dinner with Reed & Courtney, he'd decided that this dish is It. The Potatoes. So we had them again for brunch this morning.
Along with the Tofu Rancheros from the September issue of Vegetarian Times. The recipe is pretty quick, and the ingredients are simple. The potatoes take forever, though, so we started those first, and everything was done almost exactly on time.

It's too bad I didn't notice that the recipe made enough for 6 people. We were starving by the time everything was ready, so our eyes may have been a bit bigger than our tummies.
But we have leftovers to last us pretty much the whole week.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chickpea Fried Rice: Fast, Furious

We got home from a weekend of fresh, delicious food with the Porters at the Cape (about which more later) to a home devoid of fresh vegetables. And we were tired. And it was hot. The solution? A quick, cheap, easy and nutritious meal of fried rice with chickpeas. It's not ideal, but we had all the ingredients, and it was fast. Plus, it made enough that we don't have to worry about lunch for tomorrow!
Start 1 & a half c. rice cooking in stock or broth. When it's about halfway done, start the chickpeas frying in the wok/pan. Add frozen corn & peas to the rice when it's nearly finished, stirring it all together. When the chickpeas are beginning to brown, and the rice is finished, mix it all together and stir fry in a wok or large pan.

I added a squirt of liquid aminos right at the end. A touch of soy or tamari sauce would also be good. I also topped this with hoisin sauce because I love that on everything, and we have a jar of it from our Pet Cemetary dinners/band practices.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Costa Rica Tacos

While staying at the hostel in San Jose in my first week, I bought groceries to save some money and made food in the hostel kitchen. It was nice also to be able to cook while on vacation. There's definitely something to being in charge of your own food.

As it was a communal kitchen, I didn't end up taking photos of the process, but got a couple good ones of the final product. It was a very simple meal, starting with yellow saffron rice, topped with sauteed onions, tomatoes, and avocado. It was almost perfectly vegan on corn tortillas when I ruined it with cheese! But it was a delightful dinner and the onions were fantastic. I found some seasoning here that is a nice complete blend. I'm taking it back home with me to experiment with some more.
While cooking, another hostel resident struck up a conversation with me. He was a Canadian who was cooking some Ramen noodles beside me. When I was telling him how great my tacos were going to be and described the different parts, he said all I needed was some chicken or steak to make them complete. I shook my head and said, "Nah, I don't need meat." I realized that I totally and completely meant this statement. Maybe there will be a day that comes when I don't need cheese or eggs or yogurt, too. Who knows. But I think my life as a vegetarian is going to start very soon. I feel ready to live the lack of need on an everyday basis.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jicama & Radish Salad

Okay, enough with the wrap-up. This is a recipe deserving of its own post, mostly because it came out of nowhere and I really like it.

We had our friends Reed & Courtney over for dinner tonight, and I'd been wracking my brains all week to figure out what to make. I had half of a giant jicama left that Mom had sent me (the package came to my office, and one of my coworkers said: "Your mom knows that we have jicama here, too, right?"), and some limes that were on the verge, and then I thought some more, and then I came up with this recipe. I didn't take a picture of the finished product, but I got some nice ones along the way.

The Dressing

Squeeze one lime, hard, and get all the juice out. If you have two limes, squeeze them both. But maybe, like me, you discover that one of the limes is old and hard. That's okay. One will work. You want to squeeze the juice into a medium-sized jar.

Add 2 Tbsp. Sesame oil and 2 Tbsp. Flax oil (or 4 Tbsp. sesame oil. I added the flax for nutritional value). Add 1 tsp. Tamari. Put the lid on the jar and shake it. Emulsify!

Add a generous pinch of black pepper. If you have a pepper grinder, you should grind some fresh pepper in here. Shake the jar again. Yum.

You could use lemons, but you should probably make lemonade with those. Add basil or mint to the lemonade, and a couple squeezes of agave nectar. Later, before dinner, spike this lemonade with gin and add a splash of tonic. Then remember that you have blueberries in the fridge. Add some blueberries and muddle. This drink is so totally refreshing it almost makes you forget the stupid humidity.

The Salad

This salad is way too much of a hassle unless you have a food processor with a grating element. Or if you love grating things, or cutting them into matchsticks. I have a food processor with a grating element, which is why this recipe was born.

Grate your jicama.

Mine was really giant, which is why it filled the entire bowl of my food processor. That was only HALF of the jicama! I know. I hardly believe it myself.

Then grate a bunch of radishes from the farmer's market. Toss the two together in a bowl with the dressing (shake the dressing again first! emulsify!). I didn't get a photo of this, but it turns a little pink.

You can set this aside for as long as you want. Prepare ahead and assemble the salad later, like this:

Get out your nice salad bowl and line it with a mixture of baby arugula and baby spinach. The spinach is optional, but the arugula is kind of necessary. I suppose you could sub with watercress. Both have a little bite, which is nice here.

Put the jicama and radish mixture on top and toss together.

Wash and quarter some fresh cherry tomatoes. If you have a garden, I hope these come from it. Otherwise, farmer's market. Or, okay, wherever you can find them. There is a blight and all. Add them to the salad.

Dry roast some pepitas on the stovetop. Pepitas are pumpkin seeds, the shelled kind. They're green and cute and puff up when you toast them. Just put them in a dry skillet over medium heat and shake them around every now and then until they get toasty on their bellies. Top the salad with these.

You could probably double the dressing recipe, if you wanted to dress the salad some more, but I liked it a little subtle. I imagine this would be tasty if you added some cayenne to the dressing too.

We served this salad with two items from Veganomicon: The old standby, chickpea cutlets, and the new favorite, lemon roasted potatoes. Except Pete forgot to add the lemon. That's fine, though, because I want to make more of that lemonade, and they were still perhaps the best, creamiest, most sublimely tasty potatoes I have ever eaten.

We also made some vanilla ice cream based on this recipe from Vegan Dad, to which I added NM red chile powder (just a smidgie) and some cinnamon-vanilla spiced sugar. I used hemp milk, almond milk, and coconut milk. Decadent! We have big plans for our ice cream maker based on this experience. Next on the docket: Peanut butter, carob & chile ice cream! (I really think I could have used more chile powder on this batch.)

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Even though I haven't been posting, I've been cooking. Part of the problem is that I always forget to take pictures, or don't take pictures of the whole project. I have the best intentions, though. I really do.

Anyway, here's a roundup:

Picnic at the Park

We made limeade, which was cool and refreshing

and sandwiches, equally delicious

and packed it all up and ate at the park, watching cargo boats go by. A lovely early summer day.

Homemade Ravioli

Mostly fell apart in the water, but we froze the leftover dough and will give it another shot.

I had a birthday party

I had probably the best birthday yet this year. With a cherry on top.

More sandwiches!

Sandwiches are a great summertime meal because you don't have to heat up the dang kitchen and it's fast, so you can get to the beach quicker.

These ones had roasted garlic, avocado, some seaweed flake stuff, cukes, mustard, and sprouts.

Pete doesn't like cukes, so I had a side of cucumber "chips" too. His sandwich was cheese & avocado, but I couldn't get a good picture.

Summertime Stir-fry

I love the farmer's market in our neighborhood, mostly because it's convenient to bike down there on a Saturday morning.

Stir fries are also great in the summer because you can just grab whatever at the market and throw it together. Easy! Quick! Healthy! Pow!


Sushi is surprisingly simple and fast. I honestly don't know why we don't make it more often.

If you don't have a sushi mat, invest the $5 and get one, and a bit more for a small bag of sushi rice and some nori wraps. Then fill the sushi with whatever you have handy. We were pretty conventional here: cucumber, avocado and radishes! If you get a really spicy radish, you don't even need the wasabi.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fried Plantains

So, I know that I have been so terrible at updating, even though I have been cooking some delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes. Mostly, I forget to take photos while I'm cooking, think that what I'm making is not interesting enough to post, or just am a lazy bum. Sometimes it's all three.

This post is sort of a double fail though because I didn't cook the plantains myself and the photo featured isn't even of the actual plantains I ate. But man, were they delicious.

I figure that this is a good subject as a Costa Rica edition of Sunday Vegan Sunday, or at least the first CR Edition, seeing as this week I am most likely going to be cooking at the hostel to save money and will most likely also buy pretty much just veggies to save money. I'm interested to see what foods I can find and maybe I'll try actually making some fried plantains myself while I'm here. The lunch I had today was awesome, though not vegan. But it did include great black beans, some rice, and the surprisingly fantastic fried plantains. It might be the sort of dish that is only really good if it's cooked correctly, or maybe plantains are just way better cooked than bananas are. Nevertheless, they were very delicious and a wonderful new food.

Now I'm only half of a SVS blog loser.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spring Spring Spring Spring Spring

This spring has been a bit funny, alternating between cold, cold and rainy and warm and sunny until this week, when it decided to get really warm and the pee smell New Yorkers enjoy so much this time of year started to rise off the sidewalks once again. I'm thrilled in spite of the smell, because this means that the farmer's market selection will go from strictly winter greens, if you're lucky, and those wicked apple cider donuts (and I mean wicked in both the New England and traditional senses), to a cornucopia of greens, fruits, vegetables and flowers. It's so much more fun to eat in the springtime, and I was getting sick of winter foods.

Today's dinner, inspired by a recipe from Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins' The New Basics Cookbook, features a bunch of delicious springtime vegetables, and is quick and hearty to top it off. (One of the things I love about The New Basics is that I can look up whatever ingredient I have on hand, in this case, asparagus, and they give you, well, the basics, and a bunch of related recipes. Such a great resource!)

Here's what we've got: asparagus, ramps (whose leafy tops were erm, over refrigerated), some spinach, tempeh, and toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce and sesame oil. If you can't get ramps where you are, some garlic or green onions might do the trick. Shallots might also be good. That's all you need. It's simple, delicious, and cooks up in about 20 minutes.

I separated the tips of the asparagus from the stems (the original recipe called for just the tips, but I can't be bothered to find something else to do with the stems), and the ramps from both of those, and cooked in stages, according to the delicacy of my ingredients. Here's my method:
1) Heat about 2 Tbsp. of sesame oil in your trusty wok over medium-high heat and add the tempeh, stirring it around for a bit until it gets slightly brown. Add 1 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari and stir it around. I also add a splash of water so the tempeh steams a bit (I've heard this tempers the bitterness that tempeh sometimes has).
2) Add the stems of the asparagus and stir around (this is a stir fry, so you should pretty much be stirring constantly) until they just start to brighten in color.
3) Add the ramps (if you're using the leaves of the ramps, you should probably hold them to add with the spinach) and stir until they just start to get translucent.
4) Add one more Tbsp. tamari/soy sauce, stir.
5) Throw in those asparagus tips, and yes, stir.
6) When the asparagus tips are tender, but still crunchy, add the spinach and mix it in until it cooks down. Taste, and if necessary, add more soy sauce. Sprinkle sesame seeds liberally over the whole shebang.
7) Dinner is ready! (Oh, you could make some rice or cous cous to have this over if you want to, though I like naked stir fries every now and again.)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

So much catching up to do!

So the end of the semester happened, and even though I haven't been posting, I have been cooking, and taking photos. Here are some highlights:

I mixed up recipes from Vegan Yum Yum and Vegan Dad and made these with a chickpea-shiitake filling. They're fun to put together!

Be sure to get all the air out so they do that thing where they seal up at the end:

You fry AND steam them, and then fry them again! (They go vacuum-sealed when you lift the lids after they're done steaming. So cool to watch.)

A quick, delicious and elegant meal. It will really impress someone if you invite them over for home-made potstickers, and it's a fun dinner to make with a friend, since you have to assemble them.

These might be the easiest thing ever, and they're delicious with Pete's curried lentils, or, as I had them here, with avocado and salsa for breakfast.

I didn't write down where I got the recipe from, but I looked at a few different places, and might have made this up as an amalgamation of a few, or maybe not. Apologies if this is your recipe. Here's what I used:

1 c. chickpea flour (garam)
1.5 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne (or a little more, if you like it spicy like we do)
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Gradually add the water to the flour, whisking to remove lumps. After a smooth paste is formed, add the rest of the water and spices. Cook these kind of like crepes over medium-low heat, brushing your skillet with oil before and between pancakes, and swirling the batter over the bottom of the pan to cover it. They should cook ~3 minutes/side. The cooked parts turn kind of reddish-brown when they're ready.
If you add a little curry powder to the batter, they get a nice flavor as well. This seems like a versatile base, and because it's made with chickpea flour, it's protein-packed!


These took a long time, but most of it was spent waiting for them to rise. Plus, kneading them for 10 minutes was my workout for the day!

I made a half-batch, but should've made a whole batch, because then I'd have enough for Pete & I to have one each for breakfast every day for the whole week. As it is, we gave two to our friends this morning, split one, and will have one each tomorrow. Good enough for me!

We've been making some really yummy sandwiches lately. Pete likes to make a parmesean/honey sandwich every now and then, which is not not not vegan, but it's delicious if you eat that sort of thing. We've decided that sandwiches are the thing for the summer. You know what else sandwiches are good for? Picnics. But maybe not these monsters. I had sandwich all over my face while I was eating that thing. I had to hold on with both hands so it wouldn't totally get away from me, and I still had a bit of a salad left on my plate in the end.

Here's what's inside: roasted baby garlic & onions from the farmer's market, avocado, tomato, roasted cherry tomatoes, sunflower sprouts (my favorite) from the farmer's market, and cucumber (not in Pete's). So delicious.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Isa & Terry, You Geniuses, I love you.

I made these "Peanut Butter Pillows" of theirs and they were so good. Not too hard to make, not too many esoteric ingredients and it's chocolate & peanut butter together. What else do you want? Eat these warm out of the oven with some cold milk.

This is what you need for the chocolate cookie mantle:
And this is what you need for the creamy peanut butter magma:
Use your kindergarten clay skillz to make peanut butter balls:

Wrap up the pb ball in a layer of chocolate cookie dough:

They cook up a bit, so give them space on the cookie sheets:

Did I mention that these are delicious?