Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vegan MoFo: The Easiest Soup In The World

Get ready for the Easiest Soup In The World.

My husband did 2 days of dishes today and I didn't want to leave him with a mess. Plus I had stuff to do besides cook, so I decided to make one-pot Easiest Soup In The World. I make versions of this all the time. All you need is onion, garlic, a starch, a can of any kind of beans or chickpeas, and a green. Even parsely will do. Or not. If you don't have any greens, don't worry. That's how easy it is. Tonight I felt like using black eyed peas.

Roughly chop the onion and sautee in 2 tbsp (or less!) of olive oil. This soup is also super low in fat and high in fiber. YAY!

Add one cubed potato and as many whole garlic cloves as you like. Here I have a handful, maybe nine? I love garlic. Add the potato, garlic and 2 cups of vegetable broth. (again, this homemade broth is awesome. Will make again this weekend!) I sprinkled some fresh thyme in my prep bowl, just to be fancy. Cover and bring to a boil.

We had some carrot I had cut up when I thought I might stir-fry last night, so I threw that in too. Cook until the potato cubes and garlic cloves start to soften. Throw in the can of drained beans.

When the beans have heated through, chop your greens and add them to the pot until just wilted and bright green. Season and serve!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Brought To You By House of Herbs

MAN I am tired today. Yesterday was a long day in shitty, chilly weather. I wanted to make something quick and easy. Luckily, we had HOUSE OF HERBS cooking wine on hand! It's like the Hamburger Helper of cooking wines!

First, I marinated some tempeh to bake in the oven at 400. I wasn't sure if these guys would end up in a stir-fry or what, but there was gonna be some tempeh involved. I used equal parts soy sauce, the homemade veggie broth from last week still going strong, and HOUSE OF HERBS cooking wine. (Can I say that you can totally taste the difference with the homemade broth?)

I knew we had broccoli from the market -- maybe a stir-fry? With spelt soba? Oops! Half the spelt soba is gone. Fuck. Oooh -- we have Israeli Couscous... make that would be good? Tossed with broccoli and tempeh? Okay, let's cook that up. I sauteed some garlic in olive oil, toasted 1 cup of couscous, and then cooked with 1.5 cups water for 10 minutes.

When the couscous was done I realized I didn't feel like dealing with a stirfry. We had mustard greens and chard: maybe mixing the two would be a nice blend of flavors, the sweet chard and the spicy greens? Sure. Let's do that.

Add some sesame oil too! MMMM!


Then I watched HOUSE!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vegan MoFo: The Great Divide

People who know my husband and I often describe us as being the same person save our genders. We agree on almost everything and when we do have an argument it's usually because one of us didn't understand that the other one was saying the same thing. Sure, we also have dumb couple fights like every other couple in the universe, bouts of relationship bad weather -- that's normal! But overall, I count my blessings every day that I found my soul mate and we get to share a life and family together.

We are friends with a couple who are radically different from us in that they seem like total opposites and yet their relationship is happy and working. He's a liberal Democrat from a WASP-y New England background: She's a hardcore Ayn Rand-ing Republican Jew from Long Island. He's Red Sox and she's Yankees. He's a very mild mannered person and she is a hotheaded kickboxer, actually and figuratively. Privately I've wondered how it works -- not in a judgmental way but in a truly mystified way -- but he's happier than I've ever seen him and they have adorable children. I get the temperament thing, but the Republican thing?

And thinking about this made me remember the one massive difference between Trey and I, an issue almost as polarizing as the clash between liberal and Republican:

Trey loathes mayonnaise and thus, Vegenaise.

I will eat it with a spoon. I adore Vegenaise. We have had at one time 4 jars of Vegenaise in the fridge.

So when I make chickpea salad, I will sometimes split the mashed chickpeas between two containers, and dress one with oil and mustard and vinegar and curry powder and cumin, and that is for Trey. And the OTHER one gets 3 tablespoons of Vegenaise and mustard and pickles and celery and parsely and eaten right out of the bowl.

I have learned to simply accept the fact that Vegenaise tastes like slimy hell to my beloved, and to respect it. Also this means I get to eat all of it. If this is the only gulf between us, I am lucky indeed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Vegan MoFo: A Very Bad Idea or Bouquet Garni Gone Terribly Awry

I was feeling pretty crappy and dazed this weekend with some killer PMS and generally panicky. I had planned to get a lot more cooking done on Saturday than I did. But Sunday after 12 hours of sleep and good times at the dog parade in McGolrick, I felt up to making seitan. In particular, I'd been wanting to try Joanna's Chicken Style Seitan Cutlets to have for the week, for a piccata since they seemed perfect for that purpose.

I put the cold water on the stove. I assembled a delicious bouquet garni of a big handful of Penzey's Parisien Bonne Herbes, several bay leaves, some rosemary stalks, some thyme stalks, aroudn ten peppercorns and some sage leaves. I didn't have a tea bag or any cheesecloth, so I just cut the foot off of a lair of laundered tights that had a big run in the leg. I popped the boquet garni into the cold water.

Then I mixed the wet and dry ingredients and kneaded the dough, which smelled delicious. Already I had high hopes for this recipe! Joanna's technique of flattening the cutlets between sheets of parchment paper is pure genius. As I slipped each lovely cutlet into the pot I imagined how delicious they would be, breaded and fried and covered with lemon and wine and fines herbes and capers. I began imagining cutlet-y dishes with which to impress my mother-in-law, who is not so privately horrified at our veganism. This was the first step towards new culinary triumphs chez moi!

I brought the cutlets to a low boil, and then to a simmer. I set the timer for an hour.

I checked on them. They had not risen to the top. And the broth -- The broth ... I had made a BIG MISTAKE.

If you are going to use the foot of a stocking for your bouquet garni -- DON'T USE BLACK STOCKINGS FROM H&M!!

I am off to buy cheesecloth, and we will try this again later in the week.

Vegan MoFo: Greens! Greens! Greens!!

Look at my haul! I had been thinking that October is one of my favorite months, and this clinches it. Our CSA haul Saturday was FULL of greens: we got a chard, a massive kale, and the biggest bunch of broccoli rabe I have ever seen! See the greens poking out of the Trader Joe's bag on the left? That is the broccoli rabe, and the stems are touching the bottom of the bag. Mmmmmmm!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Candle 79

Wednesday was Trey's and my third anniversary. We each played hooky from work and for dinner went to Candle 79, which is one of the best restaurants I've ever been to. We had a bottle of a biodynamic Gewurtzraminer (eugene Meyer, 2006), the seitan chimichurri skewers, the cornmeal-crusted eggplant-tofu napoleon (un!fucking!believeable!) a cashew-crusted pan-fried seitan cutlet over greens and coconut rice, and the grilled pomegranate tempeh with sautéed haricots verts & almonds, sweet potato-squash purée,
chocolate molé sauce, fennel-apple salad. AMAZING. And we had ice cream! I never eat dessert! It was really stellar. I didn't take any pictures, because I wanted to be gazing moonily at my husband while talking about food.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Homemade Vegetable Broth

I had been saving vegetable scraps in the freezer in order to make broth and then LoLo posted her Vegetable Broth recipe on Friday, so I knew that would be a weekend project. I had in the freezer some leftover onion ends and skins, stems from chard, collards, and broccoli rabe, and some green pepper detritus: wilting in the fridge I had some carrot greens, 2 bunches of parsley, and a whole bok choi. I added more roughly chopped onions and their skins, a couple of potatoes, some more wilting peppers, leek tops, a whole celery root going soft, and a pear. Plus a handful of garlic cloves, bay leaves and peppercorns.

After I came back form the farmer's market I added new carrot tops, some celery leaves, some old thyme and basil that were drying out, stems and all. Overall this was simmering away on the stove for about 6 hours, or while I did all the other puttering about I needed to do.

I forgot to get cheesecloth and didn't feel like cutting up shirts again, so I strained the broth in batches in the french press. I had about a gallon!

I decided to use it as a base for the VCon French Lentil Soup With Tarragon (notice I did the prep nicely!)

Homemade broth made a serious difference!

Vegan MoFo: Trip to Penzey's Spices/ Mmmm, Zatar

on my way home from work Friday I stopped by the Penzey's Spice stall at the Grand Central Market. I bought chipotle chili powder, a big bag of tarragon, cumin and coriander seeds, sumac, savory, and zatar. Also a "French" spice mix with culinary lavender whose exact name I cannot recall. I was very tempted by the Indian spice mixes but I could probably do better on Atlantic Avenue and should take advantage of that while we are still living here.

I first tasted zatar pie at Najeeb's, which is now Odara, and is still probably very good. The Penzey's version incorporates sumac which is not the norm, per the Wikipedia on Za'atar (which would make kind of a great boy's name, although it'd like naming your girl "Mrs. Dash") At any rate, I like the citrusy bite of the sumac added in.

I made Trey a little snack of roasted garlic and oil smeared on a halved baguette and then paved with zatar. Really, really delicious.

Also: Can I say, Harissa is addictive? It is the chili garlic paste in the picture next to the Zatar container. It's got such a different smoky depth in comparison to the lighter, zingier sriracha. So so yummy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vegan MoFo: The Fridge, Saturday Afternoon

Here's a cameraphone shot of the fridge with this week's produce. I think I may make cassoulet tonight because it is getting CHILLY and I have leeks and carrots and organic potatoes. The best thing about organic potatoes is being able to leave the skins on when you cook them, for extra vitamins and also because peeling potatoes sucks if you are lazy like me.

The Garden of Eve farmstand had ORGANIC broccoli rabe and I got two bunches! We had one last night with some French lentil soup (pics etc will be up tomorrow) and it is surprisingly different from my regular Rosemary Farm brocoli rabe, more tender and green and sweet. Still super-delicious.

Vegan Mofo: Not Just For Humans

We switched Sir Specialness to Natural Balance's Vegan Formula around a month ago. At first he wasn't that into it (he loves junk food, like the time we ran out of food and I had to snag a bag of Purina at the Korean deli at 7am -- he could have eaten the whole bag in one go!) and I would put flax oil and nutritional yeast on it. Now he loves it! Other vegan foods he likes are chickpeas, peanut butter, and most of all, BREAD. If I break off a piece of bread for him he does a little wiggly seated dance and when I surrender the bread he gingerly takes it in his mouth and pads off to his bed to enjoy it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vegan Mofo: Quick Debate-Watching Comfort Food

Yesterday was a pretty stressful day for me, 10 hours at the office amid some intense speculation regarding the future of the company I work for, followed by a decent time at the dog run until I had to immediately remove Sir Specialness because some imbecile too lazy to throw a ball with their actual hands brought a laser pointer to the run. Laser pointers can trigger really bad, medication-requiring OCD in dogs, and furthermore, you aren't just putting your dog at risk in the run, because every dog sees it and reacts. Sir S. is already really shadow and light sensitive and I am going to have to figure out how to confront this situation in a graceful yet uncompromising way.

So when I got home at 8 I was tense and spent and wanted fast comfort food, so I came up with this fast pasta. While the spaghetti boiled, I sauteed 5 diced cloves of garlic in a generous amount of olive oil in my big skillet, and then added 2 Tofurky beer brats that I sliced into tiny half-moons and stirred them until they browned. Then I added one bunch of shredded collards and a tablespoon of red pepper flakes and a splash of red wine vinegar. It was comforting and yet had garlic and greens and even Joe Fucking Plumber would have asked for seconds.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vegan MoFo: A Survey

I was an idiot and did not document last night's delicious Tofu Piccata. :-( So here is a survey in honor of Vegan MoFo that I found on Vegans Are Friends Not Food!

1. Name a song that involves food in some way.
- France Gall, Les sucettes
2. What criteria do you use when choosing a new cookbook to buy?
- The pictures, and if when I flip through it there are at least 10 things I want to make and eat right away.
3. What did you eat today?
- A banana, a peanut butter granola bar, sesame noodles with broccoli, tempeh with broccoli rabe and rotelli (leftovers)
4. Name a vegan food that you know exists but you have never tried.
- Soy curls
5. The Food Network just called and needs you to start your new show tomorrow. What will the title of the show be?
- okay, I am STUMPED! And snappy titles are usually my forte! Can anyone help me out here?????
6. Favorite hot sauce or other spicy condiment?
- Sriracha and harissa
7. How old were you when you became vegetarian/vegan?
- 34.
8. Favorite vegan cheeze?
- Whatever S’Nice uses on their vegan cheezesteak.
9. Cutest baby animal?
10. Favorite type of jam/jelly/marmalade/preserves?
- Blackberry
11. Do you take any vitamins/supplements?
- Yes I take New Chapter Organic Perfect Prenatals and Dr. Fuhrman’s Osteo-sun.
12. What food/dish most embodies the Fall season?
13. What food would you have a hard time living without?
- Tempeh, kale
14. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
- Coffee
15. It's 10PM and you're starving. What do you eat?
- Chickpeas out of the can, beer
16. If you have an animal companion, what is his/her favorite food?
- Sir Specialness, our dog, loves BREAD! He freaks out about bread, it is crazy!
17. Worst injury you've gotten in the kitchen?
- Draining pasta, I accidentally poured boiling water on my thigh. 2nd degree hell.
18. When you have a food-related question, who do you call?
- Google
19. Summer is ending- What food will you miss most?
- heirloom tomatoes
20. What snacks do you keep in your purse/backpack/desk at work?
- Green and Black’s 70% Dark chocolate
21. Favorite soup to make on a rainy day?
- Potato-garlic-greens
22. What's your favorite combination of fresh vegetable and/or fruit juices?
- Carrot Ginger Beet
23. Favorite brand of root beer?
- N/A
24. What is one dish that you have never but would like to veganize?
- A vegan white pizza.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Broccoli Rabe

I adore broccoli rabe. It is one of my favorite things in the world. It's also pure nutritional goodness, full of calcium and iron and vitamins A, C, and K. But did you know also that broccoli rabe is packed with PROTEIN? Yes. One bunch of broccoli rabe, cooked, has 17 GRAMS of protein. A PREGNANT WOMAN requires 60 grams of protein a day. One bunch of cooked broccoli rabe has as much protein as a hard-boiled egg. Amazing! I think I want to try a version of the infamous Julie Hasson seitan sausages with broccoli rabe this week. I will keep you posted!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Not Vegan MoFo But Awesome Just The Same

Vegan MoFo: A New Creation -- Coconut Israeli Couscous With Cashews and Garam Masala

(Every time I see this brand of coconut milk I sing that French Kicks' song, Roland. Ro-Ro-land, blah blah blah BLAH, la laaaa la LAAAA, la LA! LA! LA! LA!)
Sunday we went to Fairway in Red Hook. I love Red Hook and imagine living there, it feels like you are in a little seaside town to me. Trey always says we could never live there because you can't get anywhere else from there, but that's what I like about it. Besides, what more do you need than Fairway and a view of the water?
Every time we go to Fairway we spend a ton of money, but since much of it is on bulk food items it ends up being a massive savings. Case in point: I cook at home almost every night. If I'm not cooking at home, Trey is eating leftovers and I bring leftovers to lunch at least 70% of the time. We make coffee at home, that's a savings of up to 8 dollars a day. When I first started "sleeping over" Trey would get two lattes from Lola's (now Magda's) a day. In the pre-gan days of yore it was not uncommon for us to go to Fada and blow close to 100 on dinner. Etc. Now we eat better at home and BQE Liquors is right around the corner, so I can get a whole bottle of bordeaux blanc for the price of a glass + tip. I digress though, I just love Fairway. They have organic French Lentils. Stay tuned.
They also had Israeli couscous in the bulk food aisle and I had been having it on the brain: I hadn't had it since (I think?) Ashbloem's wedding, and had been thinking it would be a nice thing to experiment with. I was craving the spicy tempeh I make fairly often, inspired by the VCon spicy grilled tempeh but I always tweak the sauce recipe and I bake it in the marinade for about 50 minutes so that the tempeh gets really saturated with the flavor and sort of falls apart in a delicious BBQ-y way. I thought that the israeli couscous could be a nice compliment to the tempeh ... but how to make it? I checked on the Israeli Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots in VCon: but I didn't have half of those things in the house -- and the only pistachios were the spicy ones Trey got for himself and I didn't want to mess with that. Plus those flavors seemed like they'd be upstaged by the tempeh. I needed something simpler.

Starting with coconut oil! I love coconut oil, even if I can't get the jar open half the time. I find it's a really good base oil when the flavor of olive oil or peanut oil might interfere with what you are going for.

I sauteed 5 cloves of minced garlic and a small diced white onion for about 2 minutes, then added 2 cups of the israeli couscous to toast it, stirring for about 5 minutes. (I'm using the VCon recipe as a guide here for liquid-to-couscous ratio and approximate cooking times.)

Then I added 1 can of Ro-Ro-Land coconut milk + enough water to equal 2 1/2 cups of liquid, added that to the pan, and then, because it smelled right, several generous shakes of garam masala (probably 1 tablespoon, a little more maybe) 1 teaspoon salt and some black pepper. I let this boil and then covered it, reduced the heat to low until everything was absorbed. I had some diced green pepper ready to go but thought better of it and was glad I did. I let this cook on low for about 10 minutes and then stirred in some crushed cashews, and gave it another 5 minutes until it seemed the couscous had absorbed all it could.
Meanwhile, the spicy tempeh was done, as you can see, and I prepared a bunch of swiss chard and a handful of the braising greens from the CSA share in a wok: heating the wok, splashing in some coconut oil, adding some chopped garlic and ginger when the oil was HOT, and then tossing the chopped greens with some soy sauce and a splash of rice vinegar. This takes like 5 minutes, tops.

And here you go!! My beautiful plating!

I have to say this is one of the yummiest dinners I have ever made. The combination of the coconut milk with the garlic, salt, and garam masala made this almost like tapioca pudding but not too sweet: a really nice silky and comforting side for the spicy tempeh. Next time I will make the tempeh even spicier! I was glad I listened to my nose as I went along and didn't add anything too "green" to the coconut couscous.
Coconut Israeli Couscous with Garam Masala and Cashews
2 cups israeli couscous
1 can coconut milk + enough water to make 2.5 cups
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tsp salt
black pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions until they begin to soften, about 1-2 minutes. Add the couscous and stir constantly so it begins to toast, about 5 minutes.
Add the liquid (coconut milk and water), salt, garam masala and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on lowest heat for 10 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed. Add cashews and stir a bunch of times: cover again for another 5 minutes or until it seems like the couscous can't really absorb any more liquid -- use your judgment here. Serve with
Spicy Baked Tempeh
1 package of tempeh
3/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup srirachi hot sauce (or any ol' hot sauce)
3 tbsp maple syrup
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 thumb-sized lump of ginger, minced
1 tsp cayenne powder
dashes of cumin and coriander
1 tsp molasses
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
Preheat oven to 400. Slice the tempeh into 1/2-1/4 inch "fingers". Combine all marinade ingredients in a measuring cup. Place tempeh in a 9 x 14 baking dish and pour marinade over pieces, turning to coat. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes: then turn pieces over, re-cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes: then remove foil and bake uncovered for 10 more. Serve with couscous above and yummy greens.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Garam Masala

I wish your screen could be scratch-and-sniff. This is a close up of garlic and garam masala sauteeing for the Dill Basmati Rice with Chard and Chickpeas from VCon: I know I've posted lots of recipes from that book and will be branching out in the coming days, but it's just such a great book that it's the one I would take to the desert island. Veganomicon and the His Dark Materials trilogy, that's all you need.

This was the first time I opened the bottlejar of garam masala we bought at Fairway. The smell of it in the pan is totally intoxicating, like, Annick Goutal intoxicating, almost floral, in fact almost the glycerine floral of a Gewurtzraminer! It's been a source of wonder to me how much cooking is about smell as much as taste. Obviously everyone knows this intellectually, but when I'm experiencing it first hand it thrills me as much as playing music, the way the coriander and the cumin and the cardamom make a sort of chord, which is obviously (duh!) why perfumers talk about "notes." The garam masala's perfume gave me an amazing inspiration for something to try that could be genius or could be a train wreck but I'm going to try it Sunday and post it Monday.
I wanted to use coconut oil for this but I couldn't get the jar open and was feeling lazy so I used canola. I love love coconut oil for how it lets flavors shine through when you cook with ginger or cook greens. I need to try harder to open the jar this weekend.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Chard Porn

Swiss Chard makes me so happy. I never thought I'd get as excited about buying greens as I do about buying expensive underwears, but it comes pretty close.

Chard tip: If you don't get around cooking your chard when it is super fresh, chop it fine and throw it into soup, it is still delicious.

I am obsessed with looking up food on Look how amazing chard is!

Vegan MoFo: Nothin' Says Lovin' Like A Tofu 'McMuffin'

I don't miss or think about cheese ever, but for a while I missed eggs, or I thought I did. Then I figured out that what I was craving was something fried between two pieces of something toasted, and lo, the perfect breakfasty sandwich! I had a batch of baked tofu in the fridge, so I pan fried two slices in a little olive oil while my english muffin toasted in the oven. I then put Vegenaise on each toasted muffin-half, a little ketchup and sririacha or rooster sauce (which is not made from roosters! it's vegan!) and a slice of tomato. Holy hell, it is soooo good!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Collards and Quinoa -- The Starsky And Hutch of Good-For-You Goodness

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm! I like cutting the collards into 1/2" ribbons, sort of like a fat chiffonade, and then cutting the ribbons in half again before sautee-ing them. I think that works well with the stiffer and thicker texture of the leaves. Also the very edges of the pieces get ever-so-slightly caramelized.
I think "quinoa" is Inca for "Rice of The Lazy." I love it because you can buy it in bulk, it's a complete protein, it takes 18 minutes to prepare. Blam!! And it really soaks up flavor so nicely. The only thing lazier is couscous. This is a picture of our lunch from Sunday: the stew from the night before ladled over quinoa and with the collards on the side. My only regret is that I didn't grab two bunches of collards as the bunches availaible were on the small side.

Vegan MoFo: Spicy Peanut, Eggplant and Shallot Stew

When I was in my final semester of college, a gang of my friends started coming up with a series of fairly elaborate pranks -- one of which involved attaching someone's strap-on dildo to the sculpture in the Quad -- and decided to name ourselves after colors, like in Reservoir Dogs, except that, since it was Wellesley, we'd all be shades out of the J. Crew catalog. I was "Aubergine" and that is fitting as I have come to love eggplant like nobody's business.

This recipe from Veganomicon is soo delicious and warm and spicy, and the perfect thing to make it starts to get cold at night. (It also used the green beans, eggplant and potatoes from my farm pickup this morning!) Whoever figured out that salting eggplant made it delicious deserves some kind of culinary Nobel.

Vegan Mofo: Farmer's Market Haul

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm a Cancer. I used to scoff at the whole Linda Goodman "Cancers Love Food" characterization:
Cancer never feels really secure, and no matter how much love he gets, he always needs more. His emotions never let him become sure enough to relax completely. He's always piling up tangibles against some imaginary future disaster. Some Cancerians actually keep big cardboard cartons of food of all kinds under their beds. It keeps away those nightmares. You may think that's stretching the truth, but when was the last time you looked under a Cancer's bed? If you don't find the canned foods there, look on the closet shelves. You may find two dozen cans of paprika and twenty-eight boxes of fortified bread crumbs he bought on sale in 1943. What's he saving it for? Don't ask ridicu­lous questions. There might be a famine someday. He's prepared. (Noah must have been born in July. The flood didn't catch him with his rudders down, either.) Why doesn't he use all that paprika and all those bread crumbs? The answer to that one raises another question. Why doesn't he use those fourteen pairs of new pajamas and the seven dozen cashmere scarves he's been given over the years as gifts? They're still in the original tissue paper. Who knows? Maybe he's planning to wrap them around the animals to keep them warm when the next flood comes. Could be. He thinks that far ahead, and he remembers yesterday's catastrophes vividly, even if he wasn't there.
Ha ha ha!! Linda Goodman, you are right on the money! It is so so hard for me to control myself at the farmer's market because everything there COULD BE MADE INTO SOMETHING DELICIOUS! This is a typical Saturday haul, mostly CSA share items. Here is a list of what is in the picture, and I'll try to blog what happens to each in the coming week.

Collard Greens
Swiss Chard
Honey Crisp Apple
Bosc Pears
Wax and Green Beans
Bok Choy
Green Peppers
Red Onions

Friday, October 03, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Peppers, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Use The Food Processor

Look at these gorgeous peppers! They are all from Garden Of Eve Farm, the farm where our CSA produce is grown. The paler green one and the red one came in the share, and the poblano (dark green unsliced one) I bought at the stand. I cannot begin to describe the difference between farm-fresh peppers and the other kind, but it is the same gulf that separates fresh tomatoes from stringy flavorless store tomatoes. And the smell!

You can see the bite I took out of the poblano before cutting it. I am not sure why I did that, especially given that the last time I used poblano peppers from this farm I cut them without wearing gloves and not only were they so hot that I started coughing as I de-seeded them, but my hands began to burn for ELEVEN HOURS. ELEVEN HOURS, people! I now wear surgical gloves when I deal with peppers, I bought a giant box of them. Because the only thing worse than having your hands burn all day is taking out your contact lenses after you are SO SURE you washed all the pepper juice away. (And the only thing worse than that is when you change your tampon. Your OB tampon. Gloves. Are. Your. Friends. )

In the periphery of this photo you can see my two favorite kitchen items: the handle of our happy orange Le Creuset saute pan, and the food processor. When I first moved in with Trey, I had a phobia of the food processor. It seemed so complicated and I had been warned about how sharp the blade was, and I think I had a vague idea that you had to press something down into it, like a juicer. When I first started cooking a lot, I made many things out of Vegan With a Vengeance and I remember making the marinade for the (excellent!!) Jerk Seitan in the blender. I can't remember the first time I summoned the courage to use the processor, but once I did I was hooked. I am thinking it is likely that I made pesto. For a while the running joke was that I dirtied the food processor every night for Trey to clean up. But it is addictive! So many worlds open to you! Creamy soups! Chimichurri! Tapenade! Hummus! PESTO!

Mmmm, vegan pesto! This is another example of a flavor trick I learned: The salty funky note dairy cheese provides in sauces, such as the parmesan in dairy-full pesto (How about dairylict! Neologism Alert!!) or in a traditional Alfredo can easily be provided by onion powder and nutmeg. I kid you not. I first learned of this trying Lachesis' vegan Alfredo recipe from the PPK fora, and started applying it when I made pestos. Now the idea of cheese in pesto seems insane to me. Nutritional yeast and a bit of onion powder provide all the umami you need.

And this leads me to what is to many non-vegans the Unbelieveable Truth: I don't miss cheese. I don't miss cheese at all. Even though I used to go to Murray's and bring home tubs of gorgonzola cremificato and butterscotchy gouda, my palate has really changed to the point where when I open the office refridgerator and the milk has gone off it smells like cheese to me. I don't even like Teese! I'd rather have vegan sour cream on my nachos or a cashew-tofu ricotta for that fatty creamy goodness. Or avocado. On a toasted everything bagel. Right now.

Arugula Pesto

1 bunch arugula, washed and patted dry
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts or more to taste
1/2 cup best olive oil you have in the house
1 big handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tsp onion powder
Dash nutmeg
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (or more to taste)

Put all the ingredients in the food processor. Press the magic button. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and press again. Taste. Adjust anything accordingly.

My Worst Vice

We are addicted to garlic in our house. We eat a lot of it, which is probably why we don't get sick much. In fact it is rare that I cook without garlic somewhere in every meal. But I have a very bad habit, and that is that I buy the pre-peeled garlic from the Rosemary Farm produce stand on Graham. I know. It is bad. And I keep meaning to bring the containers back there to have them refilled but then I forget. I know. Very bad! Just because I am vegan and that means I already use less water than those beef-eating peoples, so much less that I guess I could run the shower for a YEAR and still use less water, does not give me a license to buy that pre-peeled garlic from Rosemary Farm. Even though I did order a gallon of rice vinegar from them so I would use less bottles.

Man, this picture is making me hungry. Do you know what would be so delicious right now? A pizza! A vegan pizza with cashew alfredo sauce, caramelized onions and leeks, spicy tempeh sausage crumbles from VwaV and maybe, just maybe some Swiss chard shreds on top!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vegan MoFo Salsa Porn

YEAH BABY. A co-worker generously brought me a bag of frozen roasted green chiles from Hatch, New Mexico last month and I made salsa with them. You can see the black roasted bits from the chiles: the bright green apple-ish bits are fresh tomatillos from the Garden of Eve farmstand, and the red bits are organic heirloom tomatoes and Thai hot peppers from my plants out back. Oh, and a ton of minced garlic and lime juice.

I had never made anything with tomatillos before and they blew me away with their crisp fresh taste, almost as if an asian pear and a granny smith had a litter of fat little babies.

It's Vegan Month Of Food!

The Vegan Overlords have declared October to be VEGAN MONTH OF FOOD in the blogosphere, and I cannot deny their sway. I will be blogging about vegan food as much as I can this month, and hopefully learning how to post multiple pictures in one blog entry.

I took pictures last night while I was cooking and left the camera in the kitchen, alas!

For most of the past year -- year and a half? I have taken over as primary cook in our house. As Trey has famously said, when we married I "couldn't boil water" and now I have grown into [in my humble opinion] a pretty decent cook. I am very grateful to Trey for his infinite patience through my obsessive phases, because once I get an idea for a recipe or get a craving for a certain dish, we have it many times in a row until I move on to something else. So we had the Vegan Scalloped Potatoes phase and the Pot Pies! phase and the Beer - Battered Seitan phase and Red Cabbage Korean Slaw Fest and the Lolo's Mac - And - Cheeze phase and the Spicy Baked BBQ Tempeh phase and lately it's been the Variations on Piccata Inspired by The Seitan Piccata Recipe In Veganomicon phase because you just cannot, CANNOT go wrong with pan-fried things in a sauce of lemon, capers, herbs and white wine.

The great joy I have discovered in cooking and in cooking vegan is how creative it is and how much like making music. In the same way you hear a chord progression and suddenly "see" where a melody belongs, I'll see poblanos at the farm stand and be able to smell what to do with them in the coming week. Two years ago, this attitude towards food was utterly foreign to me. Now cooking falls in with music, perfumery and wine tasting as Ultimate Synaesthetic Funtimes.

And speaking of synaesthetic funtimes, (which maybe should be the new title of this blog, come to think of it) is discovering the secret ingredients that make something delicious and become the fulcrum for their veganization. Like how chickpea salad is a million times better than tuna salad, because the flaky mashed chickpeas make a better backdrop for a dressing of Veganaise, coarse mustard, diced celery and cornichons. You lose the metallic fish tang in favor of a more velvety creaminess even more comfort-foodish than the tuna salad (or chicken salad) of yore. [I love chickpeas! Love them! I will eat them out of the can with a fork. They are the perfect legume! If the world blows up I will be in my cave eating the bejeezus out of canned chickpeas. There will be more on this blog about chickpeas in the coming days, much, much more. With pictures, I promise you!! NOM NOM NOM! ]

Another secret is celery, celeriac and celery seed. The thing that makes chicken soup taste chicken-y is actually celery seed. Go to your spice rack, open the celery seed, and smell it. See? I told you! So you don't need a dead chicken in every pot, you can make CHICKPEA noodle soup that will kick the ass of every soup you have ever had in your life. Saute in the soup pot a handful of celeriac dice, a diced yellow onion (tennis-ball size,) 5 cloves of garlic and a medium sized carrot, also DICED. Sprinkle the sautee-ing dice with salt and a dash of celery seed and cover to sweat a bit. Add 3 cups of veggie broth (or water and chuck a bullion cube in there) and let come to a boil. Toss in a can of drained chickpeas and let cook for 3 minutes: then add whatever noodles you like best (linguine, alphabets, soba, whatevers) and keep stirring. When the noodles are almost done, toss in some chopped parsley and celery leaves and even some chard if you have it and MMMMMMMMMS!

Best of all, there's no arsenic!