Archive for the ‘Veganism’ Category

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Vegan Brunch at Devil’s Backbone.

October 10, 2010

Attended a vegan potluck brunch this morning in Loveland, or just west of it, really. The hostess’ backyard faced Devil’s Backbone.

Granted, I was forty-five minutes late as Google Maps totally led me astray! The whole drive over there was a disaster. I was driving down one lane roads and over one lane bridges and the directions were telling me to turn down a gravel road that didn’t exist, and there was so much turning around that I actually got carsick. Which I don’t believe has ever happened to me while I was the actual driver of the car. And all I could think about was my co-worker Amy’s story of how she drove off a cliff at Horsetooth and how I didn’t want to do the same. And I saw a woman in an Outback on the side of the road on her cellphone while I was on the phone with Michael asking him for help, and I’m convinced that she was on her way to the brunch as well, but she must have given up before finding the way. I, however, persevered! Though I did almost cry at one point. Pathetic, but true.

Back to talk of a pleasant nature! I took pictures of what I made to take along. First pictures of food that I’ve taken in quite some time. Although the quiche didn’t get to attend, as I left it out on the counter all night and was scared that I’d poison the other guests if I brought it. Michael voted that I bring it anyway, as no one would be able to tell which of the dishes got people sick. I admit I considered it!

Not that talk of potential food poisoning is pleasant. But pictures of food before it goes bad is pleasant.

Vegan Quiche:
Vegan Quiche

Recipe here. And we did eat one of those last night, just to make sure it was good before I served the second one to strangers. It was quite good, too. The recipe had me at roasted vegetables.

Next up. Carrot Spice Muffins – on an LSU plate:
Carrot Spice Muffins

I did bring more. Those are just the two that I have left over! I made those at 7 o’clock this morning, right after I sat up in bed and said, “I left the quiche out all night!” I was worried about how they’d turn out because it wasn’t really a recipe for high altitude baking. And I didn’t have soy yogurt, so I subbed soy buttermilk (i.e. that DIY recipe of soymilk plus apple cider vinegar).

But the first guy to take a muffin immediately tapped his wife’s shoulder and said, “You have to try one!” So they worked out in the end.

Got the muffin recipe from fatfreevegan. Which means I shouldn’t have doubted a thing, as that site never lets me down.

We were supposed to actually hike Devil’s Backbone after eating, but the weather was really kind of iffy, so we bailed on the idea. This guy didn’t let a bit of drizzle stop him though.
Keyhole

You do see him, right? In the keyhole? I took that pic from the hostess’ backyard! That’s what she gets to look at while drinking coffee on her back deck. (Not the guy. Just the view in general.) Assuming she drinks coffee on her back deck. Which she probably does because wouldn’t anyone?

Now I wasn’t really listening when she was explaining what this shed was on the property adjacent to hers, but I’m almost positive she said some college kid stays in that shed on the weekends. Which is wicked cool and all, but I couldn’t do it! Even though it’s about the size of our flat in the Netherlands. So maybe I could.
College Kid's Weekend Home

I’m kind of sad I didn’t think to take a picture of the rest of the spread there. It’s always nice to be surrounded by food from which you could choose to eat anything that catches your eye!

And speaking of, I’m off to find the recipe to a breakfast casserole one of the girls made. It was definitely the best item there. I went back for seconds. Or thirds. I’m choosing not to remember how much I actually ate.

Since we didn’t even hike to burn off all of our brunch calories!

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Three Day Food Diary.

May 10, 2010

All right, gang.

Here we have a slight variation on the always fun What Does This Vegan Eat series.

It all started when a writer for cleveland.com decided to address that same question for her readers. She wrote out three days worth of her vegan meals for everyone to see for themselves what a vegan eats.

Because her diet is not representative of all vegans (I would starve if I only ate chips and salsa for dinner!) and because it’s always nice to see how much variety there can actually be in a vegan diet, Erik over at vegan.com asked other vegans to follow suit. Of course, he asked us to post our meals on our Facebook, but since I have no Facebook, have never had a Facebook, and will never have a Facebook, well, this will have to do.

And to point you in the direction of a few other options: Elaine at vegansoapbox.com answered the call, as did Sayward at bonzaiaphrodite.com (check out her comments section for more food diaries from her readers) and relatively new vegan Trish at binaryvegan.com (I only point out her newness to demonstrate that it’s pretty easy to make the switch, as soon as you convince yourself you want to!).

And if reading the words aren’t enough to show you that a vegan diet is far from boring, please check out this livejournal vegan food porn community.

But here, behind the cut, we finally come to MY 3 day food diary.

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What does this vegan eat? Part 3.

April 22, 2010

Stir-fry! Slash fried rice! Slash veggies and rice and maybe some beans or nuts, who knows!

I first fell in love with this smorgasbord in a skillet back in the UK when I realized almost every Thursday night that I had a huge box of veggies arriving in my CSA delivery the next day, and I had a random assortment of last week’s veggies still hanging out in my fridge.

So I just put them all together, add some seasoning, and voila. There you have it.

I don’t belong to a CSA here in the Netherlands, though I really should look into that, but I still fall back on the one pot meal pretty regularly. Especially on days like today, when I hit up the Farmer’s Market even though I knew full well that I had a boatload of veggies at home already.

So tonight, I decided to use at least one color of every vegetable in my fried rice. Except for blue/purple. Because I didn’t have any. I did have blueberries, but I figured I’d save those for my cereal in the morning. They’d work better there than in a wok.

What I DID have though is:
shallots, garlic, mushrooms – whiteish?
bell pepper – red
summer squash – yellow
bok choy – greeeeeeen.

Plus some dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Oh, and cashews! Not the most extravagant of meals, but everyone needs an easy, fall-back meal for those days when you just don’t know what else to do.

May I present to you this week’s version of that very meal for the Gorka household:

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Thank you, and good night.

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Bookmarking Frenzy.

March 31, 2010

One of the reasons I’ve started my Filemaker Pro recipe database is because my browser bookmarks are out.of.control.

I spend an absurd amount of my time on the web looking for new dishes to make, and I bookmark them left and right, and sometimes I go back to them and sometimes I don’t, but almost never do I actually clean out that folder.

So I’m trying to methodically go through my bookmarks and make some of the recipes, then if they’re worth saving, into my database they go, and if they aren’t, well…at least I tried.

Here’s a sampling of the recipes I’ve recently bookmarked but have yet to try. (Alas, I have no oven, so some of these won’t be tried for a while to come.)

Breakfast

Avocado Berry Smoothie

Soups
Puree of Chickpea Soup (via Kate!)

Sides
Cheezy Polenta with Sundried Tomatoes
Cumin Herb Rice Pilaf

Beans/Lentils
Spicy Teriyaki Chickpeas
Snobby Joes

Casseroles/Mixed Dishes
Italian Rice and Beans
I Am DIY Rice Bowl
Spiced Potatoes with Lentils and Barley

Pasta
Penne Pasta with Butternut Squash and Walnuts
Happy Bowl

Raw Entrees
Garden Burger
Mushroom Meatloaf

Desserts
Jasmine Rice Pudding
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Bars

And one last dessert that will need a bit of work to make vegan, but I have confidence that it can be done! These were sent to me by the one person I know who likes food more than I do (I’m looking at you, Katherine), but they just look so good that even if I end up with a disaster on my hands due to my iffy substitution abilities (there are amazing vegan bakers out there, BELIEVE ME, I am just not one of them), I’m still pretty confident that these will be worth my time:
Choco-nana Muffins with PB Filling and PB Crumble
Don’t they just look so tasty.

As for the two new recipes I tried Monday and Tuesday (the Pasta Della California and Spicy Sweet and Sour Tofu), I’m having trouble deciding exactly what to do with them. I think I’m just going to wave good-bye to both of them. Sure, they were both edible, way above edible even, especially the spicy sweet and sour tofu from last night. But were they good enough for me to put the time and effort into making them again? Probably not, not when there are dozens of recipes that I’ve made in the past that I know I really love, as well as millions of other brand-spanking-new recipes out there for me to try.

I will say, however, that both the lemon asparagus and garlic bok choy sides were superb. Neither night made for a very pretty dinner, but Monday night’s pasta was just barely presentable enough to share, I suppose.

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As for tonight, the black beans are soaking. This week has gone from California-inspired pasta to Chinese tofu and veggies to Cuban black beans and rice. Then tomorrow’s International Quinoa Salad will just bring the whole world together in his hands into one bowl.

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What does THIS vegan eat? Part 2.

March 29, 2010

Today’s WDTVE segment is all about the two extremes that vegans get accused of being. We have the Junk Food Vegan in one corner and the Beans and Veggies Vegan in the other.

Well, guess what, people. I AM BOTH.

It’s true, I mostly try to stick to beans and veggies, while avoiding too many processed products. But sometimes cravings hit even me, and sometimes, I even give in to them.

So I figured I’d share with you two meals from opposite ends of the nutrition spectrum. BUT what’s actually awesome about these two meals is the common characteristic they do share. And that is the fact that they take about a half hour to make.

I actually love to cook. And given the fact that I don’t go to school and I have no J-O-B, it’s not like I don’t have the time to spend all day in the kitchen. But still, sometimes it’s nice not to spend all day in the kitchen anyway. Like, today. When I spent at least an hour sitting on the couch talking to my family over webcam. Even Lillian participated for about three minutes, showing off her new Dora the Explorer pull-ups.

But enough about underwear you can have accidents in. Let’s get back to the food.

Man, whose idea was it to talk about food and bodily functions in the same post?

I’M MAKING IT WORSE.

Food. Recipes. Two dishes. Okay, I’m recentered.

Let’s address beans and veggies first. So that recipe will be this past Sunday’s meal: Moroccan Couscous from The 30 Minute Vegan by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray. Because this recipe comes from a cookbook, I won’t be sharing it with you, sorry.

But when it comes to ingredients, we’ve got saffron and parsley and mint and onions, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, chickpeas, raisins, artichoke hearts (swoon), curry powder, and cinnamon. Oh, and orange juice. Which is quite possibly the least healthy ingredient in the mix! And you only use three tablespoons of it! And you could probably just make fresh squeezed orange juice yourself, and then the least healthy ingredient would be what? The salt you add in at the end? The couscous since it’s a carb? Maybe the vegetable broth if you cook the couscous in there, that is if it’s storebought and has extra sodium?

But how nice to have such a problem figuring out an ingredient that could be considered unhealthy.

As for its taste, I have no idea if it’s actually authentically ~Moroccan~ because what do I know about Morocco, but it was delicious. I didn’t have as many tomatoes as the recipe called for, and I do wish I had. Not really because of the taste but because of the look. When I served the dish to Michael, he said it looked good, and I said, “It looks like the desert.” Because doesn’t it?

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But I guess if a dish is going to look like a desert, a Moroccan dish makes the most sense.

A couple extra tomatoes might have helped give it more color. I also didn’t have as many raisins as the recipe called for, and again, I do wish I had. When I had the occasional bite with the raisin, it gave the flavor such an interesting tang. And I’m not even a big fan of raisins!

Also, that is a very good eye you have. I did use quinoa instead of couscous. Because it’s what I had! I took a second pic of the food once I had mixed the vegetables with the quinoa, but it kind of looked a mess, so even though it tasted like they were meant to be paired, I’ll spare you the visual evidence.

Oh, and speaking of visual evidence, I know you can’t see the mushrooms, but that is because I’m still in the chop-’em-up-tiny phase. I’m getting better at cooking with them regularly, but I still need to hide them from myself in order to swallow them down. I hope to be a master mushroom eater by 2011.

In the meantime, I did promise you a Junk Food Vegan masterpiece.

So now for the less healthy dish! Where my other tomatoes went! This is Saturday night’s meal: chilaquiles. Now I admit I had never even heard of chilaquiles before I found this recipe, and as far as I can tell, it’s nowhere near an accurate representation of the real deal, but I don’t really care.

It is so freaking good.

But it is so not freaking good for me.

I use an entire bag of tortilla chips. And whatever storebought salsa catches my eye that day.

And sure, I add lettuce and fresh tomatoes and homemade guac, which is really just avocado and lime juice and salt and pepper, so that it’s almost like I’m cooking real food.

But any dish that relies on a bag of chips and a jar of salsa cannot be praised for its health factor.

So I only make this like once a month. But how happy it makes us when I do.

Just look at it!
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So there you have it. More information about what this vegan eats. Not a meat substitute in sight! Just beans and veggies and grains and beans and, that’s right, chips and salsa.

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Dirty. Cajun. Vegan.

March 28, 2010

It is rare that you read anything positive about Louisiana. Unless it’s about pure gluttony. We’re known for Mardi Gras. Alcohol. Good (i.e. fattening) food.

So it was with a bit of pride that I read this profile of a rice farmer turned organic rice farmer in the New York Times. Someone in Louisiana thinking about health? His phone number at the bottom even has my hometown’s 337 area code! He’s a man ahead of his time. Okay, on time with most of the world, but ahead of his local standard time:

“I started this because I could not see the future in conventional farming,” Kurt told me when I visited him last month. Back then, he and his brother were farming 2,000 acres. But “it got to where you could plow 100 acres and you wouldn’t find one earthworm.” As he spoke, he turned over the soil in his experimental vegetable garden, sending earthworms squirming back toward the ground. “And as I learned about the nutrition, there just wasn’t no stopping. You’re dealing with life!”

And how his business has grown:

A decade ago, he was selling 200 pounds of brown rice a month at the Red Stick farmers’ market in Baton Rouge. Now Unkel takes 1,000 pounds of jasmine rice from the grain bin near his house every week and mills it himself using a compact Japanese machine.

From 200 pounds a month to 1000 pounds a week? That’s awesome.

He includes a recipe in the article, but it is decidedly unvegan, so I thought I’d share something that Susan from FatFree Vegan Kitchen came up with instead.

May I present to you: Not-So-Dirty Rice!

So good. And authentic! I’m pretty sure Susan is originally from Louisiana, so she knew the taste she was after, and she did a great job of hitting it. In fact, she hits it so well that when I serve it, I don’t call it Not-So-Dirty Rice. I simply call it Dirty Rice. And in my household, it’s a given that it’ll be vegan as well.

Now I’ve tried it both on its own as a side and as a stuffing for baked acorn squash (which made a perfect autumn meal, and I recognize it’s March now, but hey, maybe someone in the Southern Hemisphere can make use of the idea now, and anyone else can simply bookmark the idea for a few months!).

But it would be the perfect recipe to try with some of Mr. Unkel’s Louisiana farmed, organic Cajun Grain rice. 🙂

As it happens, btw, I have had massive success with every recipe I’ve tried from FatFree Vegan Kitchen (wait, typing that out made me remember that I did muck up a bean burger from that site once, but considering I have yet to make a successful bean burger with any of the >5 recipes I’ve tried, I’m not really sure I can blame her for my failure), so I do recommend that you guys follow the link and poke around till you find more that you like.

Speaking of, I was just looking around for proof that Susan grew up in Louisiana, and I landed on THIS: Chickpea Gumbo!

That is so on my must-try list now. I love it because almost every vegan gumbo recipe out there relies heavily on fake sausage and the like, and I’m not really interested in items like that. And Susan mentions it as an optional item, but the recipe can stand alone without it.

If only I could find okra at my local g-store. Albert Heijn needs to seriously get with it.

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Directions included.

March 24, 2010

I made risotto tonight. I also tweeted about making risotto tonight. About how much of a better idea it is before I’m chained to the hob, adding stock and stirring. Adding stock and stirring.

It gets kind of old.

But it turned out to be pretty good! Makes the stirring worth it. Almost.

I only decided to make risotto because I’m trying to empty out my pantry a bit. I don’t have much space in this apartment kitchen, and life is just easier when I’m not trying to maneuver between half-empty bags of grains and ne’r-before touched bags of sundried tomatoes.

I’ve never used completely dry sundried tomatoes. I’m used to the kind packed in oil. But when I sent my husband to the store several weeks back to get me sundried tomatoes, he wasn’t quite sure which kind I meant, so he got me the kind packed in oil, which I used immediately, and the kind hanging out in air inside a bag, which I stared at night after night and wondered if I’d ever use.

So I asked three (3) people in my life and did a google search, just to see what one does with sundried tomatoes like that. The answer was easy enough. Rehydrate, drain, and use.

Armed with this new knowledge and the accompanying confidence, I marched to the kitchen, pulled out the bag of tomatoes, and saw, written in several languages, directions for using these tomatoes. And for ONCE, they even included English! I am quite used to multilingual directions only including Dutch and French. Sometimes German. Sometimes a Slavic language. Or maybe it’s Danish. Rarely do they include English.

But there it was tonight! The bag told me to rehydrate the tomatoes in 2/3 water and 1/3 vinegar for two hours. Drain, add olive oil and oregano, and use!

So I followed those directions. And did the following to showcase those tomatoes:

Kale and Courgette Risotto with Sundried Tomatoes

Ingredients:
Your favorite butter substitute – I just use soya butter
Onion, garlic, celery, green bell pepper – diced
Red chili pepper – diced
2 c risotto rice (I use arborio, but I think there’s another kind that works, too)
7-8 c vegetable broth
Courgette, cut into half moon slices
Kale
Rehydrated sundried tomatoes
Salt & pepper
Italiany herbs – I used oregano and basil (I started to add thyme, but realized I wasn’t really digging the addition, so then I tried to cover it by adding more oregano and basil)
Nutritional yeast

Now, most risotto recipes call for white wine, and I do wish I had had some. But I didn’t. And I don’t really enjoy drinking white wine. So I just didn’t feel like doing the research to find vegan wine (as easy as barnivore makes it for us, the selection at the nearby g-store isn’t that awesome, so while I’ve done the research for red wines, I just don’t have it in me for white wines), so…you may want to add white wine. And once I’m back in the States, with a selection I’m more familiar with, I plan to do the same. You’d add it first, before you start adding the stock.

Also, the only reason I’m using the word courgette instead of zucchini is because I like the way the K sound flows between kale and courgette and the T sound flows between courgette and risotto. Consonance, my friends, wins every time.

Back to the recipe!

Directions:
1. Heat the stock in one pot. In another, heat the butter and add the onions, etc. I add the red chili peppers a little later than everything else because I don’t like the way that red peppers can color the onions and garlic and turn them into this unappetizing pink color. Adding them a little later prevents that.
2. Once the onions are clear, add rice. Fry it till it turns translucent.
3. If you’re using wine, you’d add it here. Otherwise, we’ll just jump straight into adding the stock. Add stock slowly, ladleful by ladleful, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding more.

ACTUALLY. Let’s pause here. I shouldn’t be the one to teach anyone the intricacies of making risotto. I’m not a good enough cook for that. So look elsewhere for tips on that. All I should really say is: cook the risotto. With your herbs. And some salt and pepper.

4. When you’re about halfway through cooking the risotto, take another pan, heat some oil, and saute your courgette. This part isn’t totally necessary because you’ll be adding the courgette to the risotto, so you could let it cook there. But either way, add your sauteed or not sauteed courgette, kale, and sundried tomatoes to the risotto. So that they can start to absorb the flavors for the last half of cooking.

5. Once the risotto is cooked, take off heat, stir nutritional yeast, and allow it to hang out, covered, for a few minutes. Serve onto plates, topping with a little more nutritional yeast.

Like so!
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Oh, yeah. I just saw a piece of tofu in that picture. I forgot that I had some extra tofu from the vegan mac and cheese I made the other night, so I fried it really quickly and added it at the end there. Didn’t make the dish, didn’t break the dish, just helped me clean out my fridge.

Gosh, the theme of so many of my dinners seems to be, “Cleaning out the fridge and/or pantry.” Seems kind of uninspired, but at the same time, if it ain’t broke and all that.

And really, who am I trying to impress here?