Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tofreaken Awesome

Ok, so I just started this blog and I've already been slack. Lots going on the last couple of weeks-- we had a major storm and a tree limb busted out the back window of my car... my NEW car...

I tried cooking tofu for the first time last week. It was also my first time eating more than 2 pieces of it off my husband's plate. Now I can say I've eaten about 8 pieces of tofu in my entire life. So I drained an extra firm block of the stuff between two cutting boards and weighted it down with a heavy bottle of Whole Food organic wine my husband hasn't opened yet. Then I tried to cut it into little pieces like Isa described in Vegan with a Vengeance. Then I marinated it in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, garlic, and Sriracha sauce. After about 30 minutes, I fried those suckers up with a bit of Earth Balance and extra virgin olive oil. I tossed in a bag of fresh stir-fry mix from Publix that had broccoli and snow peas in it as well as a frozen bag of broccoli and cauliflower. It was pretty good. My problem with tofu is that after a couple pieces, I don't want to eat anymore of it. Here it is. I call it Asian Broccoli Tofu.

In other news, my grandpa's family had a reunion last week. Of course, grandma says "We'll be eating at 2". I assumed that meant superstar hubby and I were supposed to be there at 2. Everyone had been there since 11am and had already eaten by the time I got there. I brought some Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Everyone was full by the time I got there so my dad polished them off.

Thursday I noticed I've been very bad at watering my container garden this week and the pepper plants are dying. So I pulled all the peppers. I chopped up 2 bell peppers, 2 hot banana peppers, 2 mild banana peppers, 2 jalapenos, and an onion and sautéed them in a little extra virgin olive oil. Then I tossed in two cans of organic black beans. To taste, it was too hot for me. Usually I like hot stuff but it just felt too hot that night so I tossed in a couple tablespoons of Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese. YUMMMMMY I served it over rice with some sweet potato cubes I tossed in a little extra virgin olive oil, cumin, and Chipotle powder and baked at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes. It was based off a recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance.

In other news, superstar hubby took the day off so we could make an hour and a half trip to Asheville NC for Organicfest... but we ended up sleeping in until noon. Instead, we had a veggie burger at Burger King because I was in the mood for one. He has them for lunch a couple times a week and just raves about how awesome they are. I preferred the one they had at Red Robin that was 3 times more expensive. The best one I've tried so far is from Barley's Taproom downtown. It is awesome! So is their black bean hummus. I am going to try and recreate the hummus this week. After lunch, we drove to the Asian Market. The pepper guy at work told me about how they had canned seitan. He let me try some of it and it was pretty good. I actually liked it more than the tofu I've tried. So here is what we scored for $15.

That's a bag of black rice, a jar of Sambal Oelek Chili Paste, Black Bean Paste, Tofu marinated in chili paste and sesame oil, firm Tofu, a can of Curry Seitan, Agar-Agar Powder, and some Fried Tofu marinated in lemongrass and red chili. Funny story about the Sambal Oelek Chili Paste. I've been looking at every grocery store and health food store in the area for this stuff and had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to buy a jar for $5 plus $5 shipping. Well that was $1.69!!!!!!!! I've been trying to find some chili paste without garlic for a couple years. I want to mimic the dipping sauce at PF Changs and the garlic chili pastes just don't do it. I'm so excited I can't stand it! We also visited another farmers market and scored all this stuff for $12.

I know what your thinking... that's a lot of tofu for someone who doesn't really care for the stuff. I've always heard it was an acquired taste, so I'm trying to like it. In other news, we went to our favorite Indian Restaurant Saffron's twice this week and enjoyed some yummy food. They had vegan options, but my food was so spicy the first time I ended up dipping my naan into the yogurt they had on my plate to cool my mouth down. We had the vegetarian combo that came with naan bread, Vegetable Pakora, Vegetable Korma, Chana Masala, and Palak Panir. Last night, I was just in the mood for Mulligatwany soup and Vegetable Masala and it has cream in it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Butter me up, hon.

The apple butter is complete! Beautiful! Tasty! It will be delicious on some waffles in the morning... I doubt I'll be pulling out the waffle iron anytime soon... my thumb is still throbbing. So here goes. I tweaked this recipe for apple butter in the crockpot.

Lazy Apple Butter

• Crockpot full of Quartered apples, stems removed
• 4 cups sugar (I used a bag of raw sugar and a couple tablespoons of brown sugar I had sitting around just to use it up)
• 2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1. Place apples in crockpot.
2. Sprinkle with sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and stir.
3. Cook on high for 1 hour.
4. Decrease heat to low; cover and cook on low for 9-11 hours or until thickened and dark brown.
5. Stir occasionally.
6. Uncover and cook on low for 1 hour longer.
7. Puree with hand blender.
8. Pour into jars. Since I didn't boil the jars and can them properly, they'll have to live in the refrigerator. I'm not that advanced yet. :)

I got these two jars and ½ of a small pickle jar full. Neat thing about this recipe is, it's hard to mess it up. Just cook it until it's mush. If it's not sweet enough, add more sugar. If it's too sweet, well, I guess your out of luck. I suppose you could make another batch and make it not sweet enough and then mix the two together. :) Can ya tell the only training I've had was watching Food Network? :oP

Saturday, August 23, 2008

An apple a day keeps the aliens away...

I need apple recipes!!!! Preferably recipes that utilize non-peeled apples... because I don't know how to peel them because I've never been an apple eater... and never learned magic cut stuff in your hand skills. I love the suckers cooked though.

I went to visit grandma and came home with 2 giant bags of apples.... and the tree is still loaded and she is begging me to come take them away! How in the world do you make vegan apple jelly!? I found an apple butter recipe that goes in the crockpot I am going to put on tonite. I have an apple cake I am going to start in a few minutes after I take the eye "spray" back to the pharmacy... what was I thinking buying SPRAY for my dry eyes? And it's just WATER... I had a lapse of sanity.. that must be it. At any rate, it made my eyes worse, and I could hardly keep my eyes open while spraying it in there... and my checks are red... I look like Santa Claus without the beard!

Back to the apples. Tomorrow I'll make some apple muffins and maybe some apple scones.... anyone want some apples? Grandma's tree is waiting.
To celebrate randomness....Here's another cat. Her name is Minnie after the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy song "Minnie the Moucher".

In an aside from apple-speak... I made the pumpkin waffles from Vegan with a Vengeance this morning.... yummy. My first time making waffles and all was well until the last batch when I burned my finger... kiss it and make it better?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ratatatat and the Blues

Last night I made the most exhausting meal ever-- Dad's Ratouille. I had two light purple eggplants on the verge of being taken over by the mold creatures, a green and yellow bell pepper from the farmer's market, 2 zuccini, and 3 squash, and a beautiful red banana pepper a guy at work brought me that I had to use up, so this recipe just felt right. I need to stop living by "feelings" only. It looked a little time-intensive but I had no idea what I was in for.

I started at about 6pm and it was ready a few minutes before my husband got home from work a little after 9:30. All the prep and the fact that I don't have a dutch oven that will go from stove to oven made it a stressful experience... I had to sautee in batches, them dump into a cassarole dish, then strain over a pot, then reduce. I filled up the dishwasher-- completely-- and I am not looking forward to emptying it tonight.

The only modifications I made were salting the eggplant and letting them drain (this is my second time cooking with them and I heard it takes the bitter taste out), leaving out onions and adding dehydrated granuals because I didn't have a fresh onion, and adding some fresh oregano because my plant is becoming a bush.

The other night, I made my first attempt at scones. I must say, I impressed even myself!!! They were awesome! I used the scone recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance and tossed about a pint of berries in there. My hubby the superstar ate about 3 of them while they were still steaming. I left about a cup of the batter in the frig for about a week and I threw it in the oven last night and it was still delicious. I'm so at the downtown market in the morning to get about a pound of those blueberries buddy!

I feel bad posting photos after I read some "rules" on another blog about posting photos... I'm sorry I'm not a professional photographer with a million plates and lenses and a skill for placing cilantro in just the right area.... I'm new to food photograpy, vegetarian/vegan cooking, and blogging... so I'm learning here. I can take some pictures of cats though... I'm a pro at that... here ... see... gratuitous kittyness... Meet Earle

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cuppy Cakes! Vegan Vanilla with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ok ... so I did it. I started baking. Generally, the only time I bake is around Christmas. I bake enormous amounts of fattening treats that end up getting thrown away... generally half of them taste good and the other half are nasty. Let's not discuss the Sweet Potato thing the other year.... that was a disaster!

Well this week, I didn't actually bake one thing... I baked THREE THINGS-- all vegan! Jelly Donut Cupcakes and Chewy Chocolate-Raspberry Cookie thingies from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero. The most awesome were the Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting from their Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

How is Cream Cheese Frosting vegan you ask? Well... it was Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese... and I for one am just starting to sample tofu and I couldn't tell it had tofu in it!
Next: Coconut Lime Cuppycakes and Whole Wheat Muffins.
PS- This blog marks a series of firsts: My first REAL blog, first vegan cupcakes, first piping experience (pretty good for a ziplock bag with the corner cut off huh?), and first time trying to photograph something I made. WHOO HOO for me!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

So this is a blog....

Ok... so now I have my own blog. I blog on MySpace... but this... this is totally unprecedented. What do I do now? What do I blog about? Am I interesting enough for such an undertaking? I need to think about this... What about me... I am a technical writer. My husband and I embrace a "green", cruelty-free lifestyle as much as possible. My mom refers to me as an "animal-lovin', granola-munchin', hippy, freak." My husband and I have been married for 4 years. We have 8 cats. I'm so interesting, words just can't express it.