Monday, January 12, 2009

Staples & Homemades

There's a great article at The New York Times by Mark Bittman about must-haves in the kitchen. I've read a few articles by him (notably one about how tiny his kitchen is) and I like his style. He keeps things simple (thus, "The Minimalist") and is no-nonsense in his cooking approach.

I think the best place to start is to start saving your jars and then start a collection of grains and dried beans, and then experiment with those. Also, keeping lemons in the house is great, not only for cooking, but for adding to water. I like to start my day, many days, with a big glass of water with a whole lemon squeezed into it. On those days, I am more awake than usual. It's also great for your liver, I understand.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

"Tuscan" White Bean Soup

I made this last night as a sort of whip-it-up soup, and as a tester for the dinner I'm making tonight for my father-in-law, who pretty much only eats Italian food. He especially mentioned a white-bean soup. I had looked up about a million white-bean soup and pasta fagioli recipes, and even picked one, but then last night, Pete was on his way home and had a sinus thing going on, and I hadn't soaked beans or done anything, and I didn't have the patience for the fancypants recipe I was going to use, so I just made this instead. It's a lot like my other Friday-night soups (and I even made it on a Friday night!), but with tomatoes and white beans.

I'm not calling it Tuscan because it's particularly Tuscan in origin, but because it makes it sounds more Italian, and because I used canned beans and tomatoes. (Get it--TusCAN?) I'd use fresh tomatoes if they were in season, and soak the beans if I were planning better. I made ours pretty spicy, to try to help clear up Pete's sinuses, but you can leave out the cayenne altogether if you want.

A word of warning: this makes a lot of soup, which is good for feeding a large group, or for freezing, or bringing to someone in need of home-cooked meals who can't cook for themselves and loves to eat soup every day. Pete & I each had two bowls, we filled this giant jar, and there was still another bowl left over. We're eating this soup all week long!

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
5 carrots, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme (about 6 sprigs)
1 Tbsp. miso paste
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4-5 roma tomatoes, diced--use fresh or canned depending on the season, with their juice
1 can white beans (cannelini or navy beans, your choice), drained & rinsed
~6 c. water
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch of kale, washed & chopped into bite-sized pieces
cayenne, salt, pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions & saute until just translucent, then add carrots & stir. Add thyme & stir well for a minute or two. Add garlic slices and cook until you begin to smell the garlic. Stir in miso paste and a splash of water. Stir until water is evaporated and miso coats other ingredients. Deglaze the pot with water, and add tomatoes and beans. Stir until ingredients are well mixed, add water and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat. Add lemon, cayenne, and salt/pepper. Add kale and stir until wilted & bright green. Dilute as needed, reduce heat, and serve!

Christmas Vegan Christmas

Happy New Year!

A lot of vegan cooking happened while Pete & I were on the West Coast with Laura & the rest of the family. (Even some SVS-team cooking, about which more later, from Laura.)

We made vegan versions of some of Mom's traditional Christmas cookies (snickerdoodles and walnut bars, whose recipes I'll post later on), and even roasted vegetables again, this time with Mom and stepDad, who loved them:

We used brussels sprouts, carrots, yams, butternut squash, scallions, pearl onions, parsnips, broccoli, and cauliflower. For the sauce, I tried to remember the Vegetarian Times recipe to my best ability, and ended up using:
2 Tbsp. OJ
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
and tossed everything together over spinach. We ended up with leftovers AND with enough chopped vegetables to have a second batch after we left!

Since Mom & stepDad also have a waffle iron, we took the opportunity to try out the Pumpkin Waffle Recipe from I've been dying to try since I saw it reviewed on vegalicious.

We subbed coconut yogurt & almond milk for the soy ingredients. Both of them were vanilla-flavored, so we left out the vanilla.

We made them three times that week, and the last time, when Laura was there to help, I decided to make a few revisions, just for fun. I used applesauce in place of the oil, and agave nectar in place of the sugar, which made for a much wetter batter. This was fine by me, since I'd had to thin out the batter considerably the first two times.

Unfortunately, the lack of oil meant that the waffle stuck to the iron for longer, and Mom had told Laura that she would know the waffles would be ready when they don't stick to the iron. So, the first batch was a little crispy.

But still delicious. We didn't take any pictures of the next batches, which turned out perfectly light and fluffy and delicious. You'll just have to take our word for it.

While we were trying out pumpkin recipes, Mom also made a batch of Vegan Dad's Pumpkin Scones. Even though we all had huge sandwiches for lunch that day, we couldn't stop eating them. We had eaten all of them by the time I thought to take a photo. I wasn't there for the baking (I was out trying on my bridesmaid's dress with the future-sister-in-law!), but Mom said they were really easy. Recommended!