Monthly Archives: October 2011

MoFo #28: Book review – Vegan for Life

How great is it that Celyn over at Miso for Brekfast has been doing a giveaway EVERY DAY this MoFo?! I was lucky enough to win “Vegan for Life” by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina, which is awesome because I’ve been lusting after this book ever since it was released. I’ve had it in my Amazon shopping cart so many times but I always end up clicking “save for later.”

First of all, Jack and Virginia know their stuff. They are both registered dietitians and write extensively on vegan nutrition and health. There is a LOT of junk out there on the internet, and a lot of false info about vegan nutrition (from both pro-vegans and anti-vegans). I am a trained scientist and I can’t stand reading articles that talk about detox this or living enzyme that, or reference a case study and use the results to make broad generalizations.

One thing I appreciated in the beginning of this book is a break-down of what actually constitutes good scientific evidence. Sometimes I forget that the rest of the world isn’t an egg-head academic like yours truly. So if you have ever been confused about what makes a research study “good” or “bad”, then you will find this helpful.

They start by going through specific nutrients and explaining exactly what you need and what foods you should be eating. And don’t worry if all of the daily requirements seem mind boggling, because they provide a nice vegan food guide that is designed to make sure your diet is balanced. They also suggest certain supplements you should be taking and how often. I know I found this useful and will be stocking up on a few different things.

The second half of the book has chapters devoted to specific target populations, such as pregnant women, feeding vegan children, people over 50, people with medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, and athletes. There is also an entire chapter devoted to the soy debate. And if you are the type of person who likes sample menus, you are in luck because there are plenty of those as well.

All in all I’m super stoked about this book and I don’t think I could have asked for a better giveaway prize, so thank you Celyn!

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MoFo #27: Cheater Chole

I recently posted about my latest used bookstore cookbook find – Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. A lot of the recipes in this book are pretty time-consuming and call for grinding your own spices and what-not. While this is great on a Sunday afternoon when you have the time, it doesn’t always work out in real life.

Recently on a weeknight I found myself wondering what the heck I was going to make for dinner. The pantry was pretty bare, but I did have some chickpeas and some other miscellaneous things. Of course I immediately thought of chole (or channa masala, or curried chickpeas, or whatever else you want to call it).

I flipped to this recipe in the cookbook, but I knew I didn’t have time to follow all of the steps. So here is my ‘cheater’ version of Yamuna Devi’s chole.

Cheater Chole (based on recipe from Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking)

-1 can chickpeas (or around 2 c. cooked)
-1 tbsp. shredded ginger root
-1 tsp. dried chiles (use more/less depending on desired level of spiciness)
-1 tsp turmeric
-1.5 tsp. paprika
-1 tbsp. ground coriander
-1/2 tsp. cayenne (again, adjust for desired level of spiciness)
-1/2 tsp. asafetida (or hing)
-1 can diced tomatoes
-1/2 c. water
-juice from 1/2 lemon (or use amchoor powder if you have it, I did not)
-2 tsp. garam masala

1. Take aside about 1/4-1/2 c. of chickpeas and mash them into a coarse paste. Set aside.

2. In a saucepan, add a splash of water and put over med. heat. Saute the ginger and chiles for a couple of minutes. Add in turmeric, paprika, coriander, cayenne, and asafetida. Add can of tomatoes. Stir around until the spices and the juice from the can of tomatoes forms a nice paste.

3. Stir in whole chickpeas, mashed chickpeas, 1/2 cup of water, and the amchoor (or lemon/lime). Turn heat over low and simmer until the liquid reduces into a nice thick sauce. The longer you let this simmer the more the flavour will develop, but I think I left mine for about 20 min. or so since we were in a hurry to eat. When the chole is done cooking, sprinkle with the garam masala.

Was this as good as the full recipe? No where near. But it was still quite tasty and it came together pretty quickly, and that was exactly what I was after!

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MoFo #26: budget tricks – veggie broth & what to do with leftover tomato paste

After being a student for 9 years I am pretty sure I will forever be a cheapskate. I hate when a recipe calls for 1-2 tbsp of tomato paste but then the rest of the can goes to waste in the fridge. Here is a perfect solution for that: freeze it! You can spoon the rest of the can into lumps on a sheet of wax paper and pop it in the freezer:

Once frozen solid, place the lumps into a baggie or a container and then you have tablespoon-sized lumps to throw into a recipe when needed (and you don’t need to open up a new can).

Another trick, which is pretty popular it seems, is to freeze your veggie scraps and make your own broth. Whenever I am chopping veggies, I just throw the scraps into a bag I keep in my freezer. When it’s full, I make a batch of broth. I’m not very picky about which veggies I use. I’ve used onion, potato peel, carrot, celery, broccoli stalks, etc. I’ve read to avoid using any greens in your broth though, as they can make it bitter. As you can see, we eat a lot of onions in this house.

Just place your frozen veggie scraps in a pot with water and simmer for awhile. If I’m just puttering around the house I let mine go for a couple of hours.

When you are done simmering, strain the broth into a bowl and discard the scraps.

And you are left with a nice, sodium-free broth. If I’m going to use the broth in the next while, I put it in a glass jar in the fridge. Otherwise I freeze it for later use.

What are your favourite money-saving tips?

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MoFo #25: Butternut squash soup & caramelized onion focaccia

After caramelizing a few onions in my slowcooker this weekend I was chomping at the bit to use them in something. I thought soup and focaccia sounded like a great meal and so I puttered around the kitchen on Sunday afternoon while watching the worst football game ever (oh Raiders, why do I get my hopes up…?).

Typically when I make focaccia I use the poolish focaccia recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. That recipe is GOLD. Best focaccia ever, seriously. But it is also quite time intensive and can’t be made in one day. I wanted to make a less laborious version, and so I used the focaccia recipe in Veganomicon. While normally I love everything out of Veganomicon, I wasn’t a fan of this focaccia. I found it quite dense and the bread ended up reminding me of a biscuit, which is odd because biscuits aren’t yeasted. I followed the recipe as is, but topped the loaf with the caraemlized onions before baking:

To go with it, I made the roasted butternut squash soup from Vegan with a Vengeance. That’s my go-to butternut soup recipe, I love it so much and it’s so simple! This time when I was roasting the squash I also roasted some garlic cloves and used them in the soup, mmm!

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MoFo #24: My first soy curl experience

On a recent trip to Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, I finally got my paws on some Butler Soy Curls! For years I have read on the internet how glorious these things were, but I was too cheap to pay for shipping and I couldn’t find them locally. My two prized bags of curls sat in my pantry for awhile, as I thought about what my first soy curl experience should be.

 

The answer was obvious – smoky soy curls from Julie Hasson’s new book: Vegan Diner. It’s a fairly simple recipe, and is meant to be Julie’s take on bacon. She suggests using them in a BLT sandwich, but since I was out of lettuce AND tomato, I simply put them on a toasted hot dog bun with a bit of Daiya cheese:

Yum! Soy curls definitely live up to all of the hype! I can’t wait to try the aforementioned BLT. And next time I’m in the city I will need to make a special trip to stock up on more curls!

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MoFo #23: Caramelized onions in the slow cooker

I’ve heard of caramelizing onions in the slow cooker before, but I never got around to trying it. Recently someone on Facebook posted a link to Bryanna Clark Grogan’s instructions, and it gave me the push to finally try out this method.

I love love LOVE caramelized onions, but I’m also lazy. This means that I don’t often put in the effort to make them. Enter the slow cooker. Essentially you slice a bunch of onions (I found some huuuuuge onions on sale this week!) and throw them in the slow cooker with a tiny bit of olive oil (although Bryanna also has instructions to make an oil-free version if you are so inclined).

Let the onions do their thing for a few hours on low heat (the time depends on how many onions you have – approximately 6 hours worked for me). The beauty part is once you have a giant batch of caramelized onions you can leave them in the fridge to use throughout the week, or you can freeze them and then have caramelized onions on hand any time your little heart desires.

Stay tuned to see how I used some of my batch.

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MoFo #22: MoFo time machine: 2007 MoFo survey

Are you starting to feel MoFo burn-out? Blogging everyday is hard, yo! So far I have kept up with one post per day, and I am on track to hit my target of 31 posts in 31 days. But my material for posts is wearing thin so I thought I would take this vintage MoFo survey (from 2007!) that was resurrected over at PB and Kelly.

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?  Honestly I don’t buy non-dairy milk that much, I don’t drink it anymore. No reason why, I just don’t. Back in Canada when I was buying it regularly, I bought VitaSoy light, but I think I heard VitaSoy was discontinued. I do use a bit of soy milk in my coffee at work, which is Silk vanilla.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?  I keep thinking about some vital wheat gluten sausages, as well as lasagna and pumpkin cinnamon rolls. I’ll probably make the sausages this weekend, but I don’t know about the lasagna or cinnamon rolls.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?  Hot sauce!

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?  There have definitely been a lot of these. The most recent was when I was trying to make chickpea flour pancakes. I ended up with a gooey mess all over my cast iron skillet that took awhile to clean.

5. Favorite pickled item?  Dill pickles. Preferably in a sandwich with peanut butter. Don’t judge me until you try it.

6. How do you organize your recipes?  For online recipes I use Evernote. It’s really cool. You just highlight what part of the text/pics/whatever on a page you want to save and then it saves it for you! You give things keywords and it’s really easy to find things. I love it!

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?  I wish I composted but we don’t have a garden so I don’t know what I would do with the compost. Anything that can go into the garbage disposal does.

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)?  Sriracha, chickpeas, and nutritional yeast.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?   My Mom was a busy working mom and didn’t have much time to cook/bake. One thing we did make together though was what I called “crunchy chocolate.” Basically you melt peanut butter and chocolate chips and add in rice crispies. Then you put blobs of the concoction on to wax paper and freeze them. So good! This would be really easy to veganize, I should do it.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream? I don’t often buy vegan ice cream because I’m a cheapskate, but the time I broke down and bought that chocolate chip cookie dough stuff made from coconut milk was pretty awesome.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?  Lately I’ve been using cumin a LOT. But does garlic count for this question? Because I can’t live without garlic.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?  Easy Indian Cooking. My cousin bought it for me a really long time ago when I was vegetarian. I think I’ve had this book for 10 years or so. I didn’t cook then, so I haven’t made much out of it.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?  Chokecherry! It’s usually homemade and full of sugar. Maybe it’s a western Canada thing.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?  Everyone loves baked goodies! If I had to pick something savory, I would say a hearty stew or chili with homemade bread.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?  I like to cook in the afternoon. Sunday afternoons are usually perfect for this.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator? Dust.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.  Edamame, almond meal, and veggie scraps for veggie broth

20. What’s on your grocery list? Fruit, vegetables, and dried beans. Okay that’s kind of cheating because those are three categories, but whatever.

21. Favorite grocery store? Trader Joe’s! But it’s hard for me to get there since I hurt my foot. It’s about a 20 min. walk away.

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.   Now I can’t stop thinking about that ‘crunchy chocolate’ stuff I was talking about in a previous question.

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?  I read a lot, especially now that I’ve found so many through MoFo! I don’t think I can pick just 3!

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?  Go Max Go Vegan bars. But I’m cheap and don’t buy them.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?  Hmm, a bag of Daiya I bought and froze. I don’t buy too many extravagant goodies typically.

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MoFo #21: Lord Krishna’s Cuisine

I tend to go through different phases in my cooking. For a month I was all about Japanese cuisine. For about six months, I was cooking Mexican every night. Lately my ‘thing’ has been Indian cuisine. Sure, I’ve always loved Indian food. As a vegan, I think it’s almost a requirement that you love legumes, and what better way to eat legumes than in delicious curries and dahls. But lately I’ve  been wanting to learn more about the cuisine and I wanted an authentic book that went beyond recipes and gave me more of an in-depth look at the culture this delicious food stems from.

I live pretty close to an awesome used book store. My husband likes to go there about once a month to look for novels. While he heads right for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section, I make a beeline for the cookbook section. Typically I thumb through the different books but I rarely buy anything. I’m a cheapskate and I have way too many cookbooks as it is. If there’s something I really need/want I usually get it through the public library (if they have a copy). However, last time I was at the bookstore I stumbled across this large book from 1987:

Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking is a really, really large Vedic cuisine cookbook. I am totally in love with it! Reading through all of the stories and recipes as well as going through the glossary of techniques and ingredients was fascinating to me. The author, Yamuni Devi, was a personal chef for a spiritual leader and as such, traveled with him around India learning different dishes from all over the country.

This was the first meal I made from the book…included on this plate is chole,brown basmati rice, whole wheat chapati, pureed broccoli and spinach, and spicy cauliflower with tomatoes (sorry for the crummy picture).

As this is a Vedic cookbook, you won’t find any onions and/or garlic. At first this worried me, as garlic and onions tend to find their way into almost EVERYTHING I make…but the flavour of the dishes is still amazing! I honestly didn’t miss the onion nor the garlic, which is pretty shocking to me.

I haven’t had a chance to make much else yet, I’m still working my way through this humongous book, but rest assured I will be posting more info and pictures soon! The best part of this book is her recipe introductions explaining the history of the dish and any stories she has about learning to make it.There are definitely some favourite dishes of mine in the book (I’m looking at you, chole), but there are so many things that are brand new to me. I definitely need to make a trip the local Indian grocer to pick up some ingredients.

What are your favourite Indian dishes?

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MoFo #20: A few healthy snack ideas

I am always on the lookout for great, healthy snacks to add to my repertoire. I have a pretty big sweet tooth, so when banana soft serve “ice cream” became all the rage on the internet I was quite a happy camper. In case you have been living under some sort of internet rock, to make banana soft serve you freeze bananas (I chop up overly ripe bananas and keep them in a baggie in my freezer), then whir them in the food processor. That’s it.

One thing I love about this is that you can add all sorts of goodies to switch up the flavour. I’ve used peanut butter, different flavours of protein powder, and of course, cocoa! This batch had cocoa and is sprinkled with date sugar and slivered almonds:

Doesn’t it look like ‘real’ ice cream? I posted this picture on Facebook and I had someone accuse me of lying about it just being frozen bananas!

Sometimes I crave salty snacks, such as popcorn or potato chips. I like to keep a big  bag of edamame in my freezer for this occasion. Not only are edamame great on salads, but they make a delicious snack. Usually I snack on edamame still in the shells, but this particular bowlful is pre-shelled as I had bought the bag with salads in mind:

What are your favourite healthy-ish snacks?

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MoFo #19: Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Cookies!

I was having a grouchy day at work. I have mostly been working at home, since getting to/from work is not fun with an aircast. Today I was in the office and I was having a bad day. In the middle of my grumbles, my co-worker in the office next door stopped by to give me a cookie! She knows I’m vegan, and someone gave her a cookie marked ‘vegan’ and she thought I might like it. How nice! I don’t know what kind of person gives away a cookie like that, I am pretty sure I would have hoarded it for myself.

But I digress. The flavour was oatmeal chocolate chip and I was eager to try it out when I got home. These things certainly aren’t health food. One cookie is considered TWO servings, and each serving has 244 calories. It is definitely a special treat cookie! I am a piggie and gobbled mine up in one go, but they are pretty big. Here it is in my hand for scale:

This was really soft and had the texture of a freshly baked homemade cookie. One thing I really liked about this cookie is the buttery taste. At first it was pretty faint, but it really builds as you eat more and more bites.

All in all, this was a pretty awesome pre-packaged vegan cookie. I don’t usually buy them, as they can be a fair chunk of change, but it was a really nice gesture and brightened up my day. On a side note, I often lament that I let it slip to some co-workers that I’m vegan. It has made for some awkward moments. But getting an amazing cookie more than makes up for them!

Om nom nom.

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