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Friday, December 26, 2008

"Chicken" Curry with Cashews

Ok, all I'm saying is that I DREAM about this dish ever since we made it.


* 1/4 cup earth balance
* 1 medium onion, finely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
* 3 tablespoons curry powder or curry paste
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
* 2-3 cups of diced seitan
* 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes (we used Rotel with cilantro and then didn't add the fresh cilantro)
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 3/4 cup cashews
* 1 cup coconut milk (I used unsweetened vanilla Almond milk since Dave can't do the coconut)
* cooked basmati rice or jasmine rice, to accompany
* chopped fresh cilantro or mango chutney or raisins or cashews, to garnish

Heat earth balance in a 5- to 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately low heat until foam subsides, then cook onions, garlic, and ginger, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add curry powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add seitan and cook, stirring to coat, 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, including juice, and cilantro and bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes to allows the flavors to meld.

Just before serving: Pulse cashews in a food processor or electric coffee/spice grinder until very finely ground, then add to curry along with coconut milk and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Serve over rice with additional broken cashews and TRY not to moan out loud, I dare you!!!

I see a trend here, which only *I* have the power to change

I notice that when I go to post a recipe, it is usually a dessert and when I read the other postings, they're for a healthy, very veggie-focused dishes. = ) So, as I sat down to post yet another delicious dessert that I concocted for yesterday's Christmas feast, I decided to instead share the lovely Moroccan Stew that my friend Pam so generously made to accommodate her veggie-centric guests.


* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed zucchini
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1/2 cup chopped carrot
* 1 cup cubed yams
* 1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
* 1 cup veggie broth
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
* 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
* 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added stewed tomatoes, undrained

Heat oil in a large stew pot over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, onion, carrot, yams and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in broth and the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally. Add more broth as needed for your desired consistency. Serve over cous cous.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lemon Tahini Dressing

My friend, Jikan, currently the Tenzo at Great Vow Zen Monastery gave me the following recipe. This comes from Hollyhock Cooks, a wonderful cookbook from the Hollyhock Retreat Center in British Columbia, Canada.

This is a very nice dressing to top what Christie & I refer to as a 'Monk Bowl', as taken from a dish at Blossoming Lotus. Top your choice of grain (brown rice, qunioa, steamed barley...) with steamed or sauteed greens (yay, kale), some kind of legume (beans, tempeh, tofu would probably be good too), add other veggies if you want, and then a tasty dressing.

We've been playing with a few dressings. Our attempt to recreate the "Hollyhock", a nutritional yeast and tamari based dressing served at Great Vow hasn't been quite as successful, once I figure that out will post. Christie has made a great ginger one too, will see about getting that posted. Here's the lemon tahini batch that turned out very tasty.

Lemon Tahini Dressing
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juic
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (optional)

Whirl all of the above up in a blender until smooth and enjoy.

We found at first that the garlic was VERY strong in this. Might be a vote for using roasted garlic instead. Once the garlic mellowed in the fridge a few days it was much nicer.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow Day Soup

What is Snow Day Soup? It is the soup you come up with out of the ingredients you have on hand during a snow day.

Yesterday I cleaned out the fridge in order to determine what was truly edible in there. Yes, I could walk to a market if I had to, but it really is best to stay inside with the cat where it is warm. That meant when I was pondering lunch today, and the lone pack of tempeh in the fridge, I decided I should investigate the freezer to see if there was back-up tempeh for more snow days. That's when I rediscovered the bag of legumes.

A few weeks ago Christie and I decided to make some soup using the back of "17 bean and barley" dried mix she'd picked up from TJs. Having had this idea the day of said soup making, we put the whole 16 ounce bag through the "quick soak" method (bring to a boil, cook for 20 minutes, let stand covered for an hour). As we set to making the soup we realized that 16 ounces of dried legumes was going to cook up into more soup than the pot would hold. We took half of the pre-soaked beans put them into a Ziploc and tossed into the freezer.

Today, Snow Day Number 3 in Portland (Snowmageddon 2008), I decided those legumes were just what I needed. Yes, a big o'pot of hearty soup is what every snow day needs. Today's batch, given the ingredients on hand, had something of a "Southwestern" flavor to it on account of the cumin, fire roasted corn & tomatoes, and smoked paprika. The only thing that would have improved it is a loaf of crusty, whole-grain bread. Since having that would have meant at least a 30 minute walk, one-way to Whole Foods (closest market), I had some toasted Nature Bake instead.

Snow Day Soup

  • 8 ounces dried legumes (could be a mix or just one kind of legumes), pre-soaked
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced (good use for those ones that are getting a little limp)
  • 5 stalks, plus heart of celery, sliced (ditto on the limp produce)
  • celery greens from heart, sliced fine and set aside
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced fine
  • 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes (diced would be fine, in fact what I'd usually use, but this is what I found, Muir Glen fire roasted kind)
  • 1 cup steamed barley (this is already cooked)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn (there was the fire roasted kind from TJs in the freezer)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano*
  • 1/2 teaspoon "21 seasoning salute" (a salt-free savory blend from TJs)*
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast*
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin*
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked, sweet paprika*
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt*
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

* seasoning measurements are estimates

Add olive oil to a large pot. When oil is heated saute onions and garlic until they being to brown slightly. Add chopped carrots and celery (do not add celery leaves at this time) and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes longer. Pour in water and pre-soaked legumes. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables and legumes are tender. Add crushed tomatoes, barley, frozen corn, celery leaves, and seasonings. Let simmer an additional 20 minutes to let flavors combine before serving.

Makes approximately 7 quarts.

No, I don't really have a knack for making soup in small batches. I do try to put the extra into 2 quart mason jars and either eat or freeze right away.

Friday, December 19, 2008


This is a riff on the old Taco Hell "meat & potato burrito", only better, because it won't give you Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease. It can be very easily veganized.

For each burrito, you'll need roughly 7-10 seasoned tater-tots. I have the magic of a convection toaster-oven to get them deep-fried crisp from frozen in about 12-15 min. Also, don't try this with a 12" tortilla; they're just too small for the amount of stuff you're putting in there.

My go-to subs of full-on critter products are indicated with *'s.


* 18"-24" restaurant-sized flour tortilias
* Bag o' Classic frozen tater-tots
* Taco spice
* Taco meat or meat-like substance (I luuuv me some El Burrito SoyTaco*)
* Refried beans
* Diced onion
* Green onion
* Fire-roasted frozen corn (optional)**
* Shredded cheese or cheese-like substance***
* Shredded letuice
* Guaccamole
* Sour Cream or sour cream-like substance****
* Salsa Picante OR can of diced tomatoes -drained ("salsa fresca"-w green chilies is goodness). I don't use really wet salsa in a burrito due to leakage.
* Sliced black olives (optional)
* Sliced pickeled jalapeño (optional, but if you opt out, you're a wuss. Go make yourself some farina).


1) Toast up your tots. If you want good, crispy tots in a regular oven, ignore the bag destructions, use an air-bake pan, preheat to 350f, and bake them longer. Or, use the broiler at the last minute. You want crisp, because they're going into a skooshie burrito. We're looking for contraste, mis hermanos y hermanas!

2) While tots are a'toastin', prep all your other fillings. I tend to make my refried beans more restaurant-style by adding extra water or veggie broth to thin them, then heating in the nuke-box. If you've ever slung taco for a living, you know what I mean about thin frijoles, and you know its utility to good burrito assembly.

3) Heat your meat filling in the microwave. If I'm doing the frozen corn, I typically add it into this step.

4) When the tots are done, spritz lightly with spray oil, then toss in a bowl with taco seasoning.

5) Microwave or moist-towel oven-steam your tortillas. Soft tortillas are key to proper and safe burrito structural integrity!

6) Lay out your tortilla on a large clean flat work-surface. Get your mise uhhh... in place.

7) Stripe the side nearest you with a nice line of refried beans. Then a line of taco filling. Sprinkle shredded cheese on the beany-meat to encourage melty-goodness.

8) Place your seasoned tots on and near the melty-line.

9) Add the rest of the optional components in rough lines throughout the rest of the field of play, making sure to leave at least 1/3 of the tortilla empty. To this last 1/3, place a very thin later of refried again, but leaving about 1"-2' of the outer tortilla lip empty. The scant extra frijoles will help bind the universe together.

10) Lastly, sprinkle a layer of shredded lettuce. This is a capillary safety-net that keeps the good goos in the burrito, and not ooozing out on to your plate to languish in a shameful puddle of fail and lack of burrito-making mojo. You're better than that!

11) Start by rolling the bean/meat edge up first. When you get to the tot demarcation line, pleat and tuck your ends in. Keep rolling and gathering in as you go, until you have a burrito.

Eat, be happy and thank me later...

* =
**= Trader Joe's carries frozen fire-roasted corn. It's a staple to me. If you don't have a TJ's by you, it must really suck...
***= I really like Lisanatti-brand Soy-Sation shredded cheese sub in all it's flavors, but for you vegans, it ain't (magical melty casein in every bite...)
****= Tofuti's Sour Supreme - Non-hydrogenated is all I'll eat...

Monday, December 15, 2008

An Appreciation of Sprouts

Up until 2007 I thought Brussels Sprouts were nasty, smelly and not worth eating. When they were made in my family they were boiled until the smelled badly, were a uniform ugly greenish color, and mushy. Even when an effort was made to pick up a stalk of them fresh at a farm market the end result was the same. Occasionally I'd be coaxed to eat a few raw, but that was it.

Last year, after reading a recipe in Farmer John's "Real Dirt on Vegetables" cookbook and much encouragement from many people I talked with, I bought a stalk at the Pumpkin Patch and decided to try them out. The result was so amazingly delicious! I'm not sure why I didn't have any more last year, but during the summer I thought about them, looked forward to seeing them return to the farmer's markets.

The past several weeks there have been multiple meals with sprouts on a similar theme, braised until tender. Each time the result is eaten quickly, any lingering ones in the pan popped into our mouths as we cleaned up.

Here's my suggestions for enjoying these delicious and nutritious vegetables in season until early spring. Trim the ends of the sprouts and clean off a few of the outer leaves, revealing the bright green underneath. Cut the sprouts in half. Heat a pan with some olive oil and when the oil is hot place the largest sprouts first, cut-side down into the oil. Put as many of the sprouts cut-side down into the pan and let them saute, covered, until the start to sear and caramelize slightly.

Here's where you can go simple or more complex. After the sprouts have sauteed a bit, add some liquid to braise, covered, until they are just tender. Serve and enjoy! I have tried the following for my braising liquid with great results:

  • Molasses, balsamic vinegar and a little water
  • Just water & sea salt
  • Water & sweet chili sauce (the kind you dip spring rolls into)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pumpkin Quinoa

File under, "I love quinoa!"

This is so simple I hate to call it a recipe, but so yummy I wanted to share it! It really came out of some of the leftover stuffed pumpkin from Thanksgiving and my need for a quick-to-make lunch to take with me to yoga teacher training.

1 cup qunioa
2 cups broth
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 cup cooked, diced pumpkin (or other winter squash)

Bring broth to boil and add quinoa and lemon pepper. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is mostly absorbed, about 20 minutes. Add pumpkin, mix well into quinoa and continue to simmer until any remaining liquid is absorbed.

Serve immediately as a hot, nutritious side dish or chill then mix with chopped veggies, legumes and dressing for a protein-rich salad.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Quinoa & Carrot Salad

This salad has no pictures because I just threw this together out of what I found in the house one afternoon while foraging for lunch between conference calls. We had a bag of grated carrots from Trader Joe's that had been picked up for the veggie sushi and needed to be used up! I was kind of wanting a macaroni salad, but really wanted something with more protein. With those two things in mind I came up with something that was tasty, heartier than many salads as it uses high-protein quinoa in addition to legumes, and Andy & Devon both raved about how good it was as a wrap with some lettuce.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups broth
12 oz grated (large grate or julienned) carrots
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans
1 15 oz. can white kidney beans (cannellini)
1/2 sweet onion, small dice
2 large stalks celery, small dice
1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
3 Tablespoons Vegenaise
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Cook quinoa in broth and set aside to cool while dicing vegetables. Drain and rinse kidney beans. Toss vegetables, beans, and quinoa with mustard, Vegenaise, and vinegar.

Sambar Pudi

A pudi, or "Powder" in Hindi, is part spice blend and part thickener used in many Indian dishes, especially soups or stews. Rather than breaking down all the spices, grains and legumes at the time of cooking a dish, like sambar, they are mixed together in a fine powder that can then be added when needed to a dish.

This particular pudi is used to thicken and richly flavor sambar, a lentil stew.

2 teaspoons chana dal
1 teaspoon red lentils
1 teaspoon brown lentils or yellow split peas
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
2 Tablespoons coriander seeds
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 Tablespoon long-grain rice, raw
2-inches cinnamon stick
20 fresh kari leaves (or 1 teaspoon crushed, dried)
3 dried red chilies (stemmed, seeded, broken into pieces)

Preheat a large skillet, add all ingredients and toast over a medium heat until the mixture is very aromatic and the rice has toasted brown.

Cool mixture and grind into a fine powder*

Sambar pudi will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months in an airtight, glass jar. 3 months if kept unrefrigerated.

*I have found that a small, electric coffee grinder works nicely. Run a tablespoon or two of raw, white rice through first to clear out coffee residue. After grinding pudi run more raw rice to clean again.

Diwali Happiness 2 - Sambar

Still, no pictures. Really, I will get better about this. I also realize that it is December and Diwali is many weeks past now, but I am at least going to get my recipe for sambar posted!

Sambar, a lentil stew very popular in India, is one of my favorite dishes. Over the past few years I've been learning to make some of the foods I most enjoy. I try to read many recipes and if it is a dish I eat at a restaurant, I try to pay close attention to what I enjoy (or sometimes dislike) about the dish. After aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower, Indian style), sambar is high on my list of favorite Indian dishes.

The third part of my recipe, the oil and spices added at the end, is derived from the one in the Laxmi's Vegetarian Kitchen cookbook. I really find this flavor to be so nice that I haven't varied it much. In looking at other recipes this does seem to be pretty standard, a few differences here and there (more chilies, some other spices).

DO make the effort to get toor dal and fresh kari leaves (I like shopping for Desi items at India-4-U)! These particular details are part of what will make this dish taste like Indian home cooking. There are many steps to this dish and one step involves hot oil (very exciting), it is entirely worth the effort. I am very pleased to share that my sambar leaves my co-workers from Chennai smiling and happy!

This makes a huge amount of sambar -- I often make it for office potlucks (like the one for Diwali this year). It freezes quite nicely too!

makes 4 quarts

Step One -- The Toor Dal
  • 2 cups toor dal
  • 5 cups water
Wash lentils and put into pot with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are soft. The lentils will begin to break apart. If you are using a pressure cooker, the toor dal cook in 8 minutes.

The lentils are pre-cooked; half will be used immediately in the stew and will thicken it. The other half will be added at the end for more texture.

Step Two -- The Stew Base
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup carrot in 1/4" rounds
  • 3 cup chopped cauliflower (Romanesco broccoli is also nice)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped, fresh tomatoes (yes, canned is OK, but if you have fresh, use them, it is worth the effort)
  • 1 cup green beans, snapped into 1" pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Sambar Pudi
  • 2 Tablespoons tamarind paste (e.g. Tamco Tamarind)
Add water and chopped vegetables to large stock pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat, add half the toor dal, half the fresh coriander, salt, sugar, sambar pudi, tamarind, and stir well. Simmer, covered until vegetables are tender.

Step Three -- The Exciting Part!
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 dried, red chilies - stemmed, seeded and broken into 1" pieces (more or less of these to change the heat level of the stew)
  • 30 fresh kari leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Heat oil in pan, add seeds and chilies and fry until spices are fragrant (mustard seeds may begin to pop). Add in turmeric and quickly incorporate. Add kari leaves in last (these will make quite a lot of noise as they fry in the hot oil, a splatter shield is useful). After leaves are frying scrape all spices into the pot of vegetables and lentils (again, there will be quite a lot of noise as the hot oil hits the stew).

Simmer the sambar for at least 15 minutes more to allow the spices, lentils and vegetables come together. Stir in the remaining toor dal & fresh coriander and allow to simmer again for 5 minutes before serving.

Garnish with additional fresh coriander. Serve with rice, cream of wheat pilafs, and pappadum.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Super Simple Quinoa-roni

This recipe is in the "easier than falling off a log" category, subcategory: OMFG.

Quinoa is apparently the proteiniest thing ever. Like protein in protein sauce on a bed of leafy proteins garnished with protein artfully shaped into an elaborate flower that looks suspiciously like a molecular diagram of a protein.

All I know is it's like nature's own couscous, and it's damned nummy.

I went looking for a simple rice-based dish that could be adapted to my new protein-rich friend. I was going to do a paella or a pilaf, but I wanted something that could be assembled super-quickly, thereby qualifying for the regular last-minute dinner rotation. Luckily, I found a five-star Rice-a-Roni (rtmcallrightsreservedpatentpending) knockoff with four, count 'em, four ingredients. I did a little math (yeah, I used Excel -- shut up!), threw the ingredients on the trusty and ironic Frigidaire stove, and took a bite. Then my tongue went all happy and licked me all over my face.

Here's my not-exactly-four-ingredient version of the recipe:

1 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup vermicelli, spaghetti, or other thin pasta
14.5 ounces (just under 2 cups) flavored broth or water
(if using water, add a boullion cube or two)
a clove or two of minced garlic
1 TB Earth Balance or olive oil or some other tasty fat
optional - a few shakes of parsley flakes, salt, pepper, and/or anything else you might add to rice

  1. Soak the quinoa in a bunch of water for 15 minutes or so, then rinse it really well.
  2. Break the pasta into 1/2" pieces.
  3. Throw the fat in a pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Stir in the pasta and quinoa, coating them with the fat.
  5. Stir frequently until the pasta browns a little. A few of the quinoa grains may pop and/or brown.
  6. Stir in the liquid, garlic, and boullion, if using.
  7. Bring it to a boil, then drop it down to simmer.
  8. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Take off heat.
  10. Wait 5 minutes.
  11. Serve with damned near anything.

Serves 4.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Diwali Happiness 1 - Besan Ladoo

I suck - again, no pictures! I will just have to make some of these again and photograph.

Two of my co-workers are here from India and they came up with the idea of having a big lunch to celebrate Diwali. This is a huge, multi-day festival celebrated across India; a time for big gatherings and lots of food. My co-workers missed this celebration working in Portland, Oregon, so decided to bring it to their American teammates.

When I started looking at recipes for desserts I noted that they all contained dairy products. This is pretty standard for Indian sweets, so I never have any now (oh, how I miss gulab jamun). The only way to ensure a sweet at a potluck, should I desire one, is to make them myself. Not being really familiar with any of the sweets in the recipes for Diwali I thought I'd try out the recipe for cashew cardamom cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I hadn't yet and have always thought it sounded tasty.

A couple of days before the potluck I stopped into my favorite Desi market, India-4-U, to pick up fresh kari leaves for making sambar. While purchasing these I was chatting with one of the owners, Alka, about my plans to make the cupcakes although I know they're not traditional.

She looked at me and said, "Oh, you should make besan ladoo!"

I know what besan is, but a ladoo?? Alka assured me it was easy, if time consuming, to cook the besan. She knows I'm vegan and that I have something I use where ghee is called for (hoaray, Earth Balance). She said that ghee was the only non-vegan thing in besan ladoo, so I should have an easy time of it. Besan ladoo, she insisted, we the best thing to make as a sweet for a Diwali party.

Right. Once home I stashed the kari leaves in the fridge for sambar making later and did a little research. After a few Google searches I found a recipe that sounded like the rough ingredient list Alka gave me: besan, ghee, sugar, cardamom, cashews and raisens. The only problem -- no pictures and the recipe directions ended with the notation to, "shape into ladoos".

Uhh... Google image search to the rescue! Moments later I discovered that "ladoo" meant "little ball".

As Alka had said, it was pretty easy if a little time consuming. I followed the recipe and directions exactly, substituting the amount of Earth Balance for the ghee, and after many minutes the kitchen was scented with the nutty aroma of the toasted flour. I added the sugar & cardamom and immediately found a problem.

I had a pan of toasted, cooled besan, a bunch of sugar, a fair bit of cardamom, some chopped raises & toasted cashews. It smelled wonderful, however, there was no way that it would be pressed into any kind of firm shape!

Since ghee is clarified and Earth Balance is a vegetable fat, something was lost in trying to do a direct substitution. What I've learned is that when substituting Earth Balance for ghee the amount should be doubled! This worked fine and the results delighted Indian co-workers who said I got them just right. They were thrilled to get a handmade sweet they associate with home.

The Recipe

Besan Ladoo -- Vegan Style!

1 cup Earth Balance
2 cups gram flour
1 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 teaspoon powdered cardamom
1/2 cup of chopped raisins and cashews

I toasted the raw cashews and set them aside. Once they were cool I chopped up these and some raisins for the 1/2 cup.

In a large frying pan melt 1/2 the Earth Balance over medium-low heat and add in the 2 cups gram flour. Keep stirring with a spoon, making sure there are no lumps, until flour has turned a rich, dark tan and smells very aromatic -- at least 10-15 minutes. Take off heat and let cool.

Once the besan has cooled add in the sugar, cardamom, cashews and raisins. Mix together so that all ingredients are well incorporated. Melt the other 1/2 of Earth Balance. Drizzle Earth Balance into other ingredients, keep mixing and adding Earth Balance until the dough can be pressed together in a small ball and retain shape when set down.

Form dough into small balls, ladoos, and plate. Should be kept refrigerated if not being served right away. Makes approximately 24 ladoos.

**Note: I am not sure at this time if I could have just toasted the gram in the full amount of Earth Balance. Since I discovered after all the other steps were done that I needed more Earth Balance, this is how the steps went. I will amend this if I discover I do not need to do the Earth Balance in two parts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lemon Spice Applesauce

Christie and I went on a field trip to the aforementioned Kiyokawa Orchards at the beginning of the month. We got a map, directions, a box, and a little red wagon and set out to pick apples from the u-pick orchard.

Let's check the map

In short time we had bags of Elstar, Gala, Empire, Swiss Delight, and a couple of other varieties. Once back in Portland we split up the pounds of apples and put them in the fridge. Then we both marveled at the sheer number of apples we had. Piles of them.

I love apples, truly they are my favorite fruit. I spend much of the spring months missing the really good apples that only around in late summer and autumn. Sure, there's some that are still from local orchards and keep well into spring and early summer (like a Pink Lady), but I really miss the crispness of an Elstar or Newtown Pippen. Well, now I had piles of glorious crisp delicious apples.

Having just made the apple preserves a week before I looked through my copy of the Ball Blue Book and was shocked to discover just how little there is to making applesauce. This news was confirmed by the lovely folks at Kiyokawa who were offering samples of fresh made, chunky applesauce in their market.

Kiyokawa Orchard Store

In order to make sufficient room for the newly picked apples in Christie's fridge we set to chopping up all the ones she already had in the fridge from the Farmers Market, all Honeycrisps. Sugar is optional so we went further optional by using agave. I added some bottled lemon juice as well since we weren't going to be canning any. All this and a little water went onto the stove, some time later, when the flat smelled delicious, we added cinnamon and enjoyed a bowl of piping hot, amazing applesauce.

I immediately wanted to play around further with the applesauce idea having discovered how simple it is. I made a point to I use a mix of ALL the varieties of apples we picked at the orchard. I liked the lemony note the bottle juice brought to the batch, but wanted fresh and also to try using the zest of the lemon. I had loved the cardamom in the preserves, so added that as well and the results were 2.5 quarts of incredibly tasty applesauce!

This brings me to the recipe!

6 1/2 pounds of apples (about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 per quart)
1/4 cup dark agave syrup
1 teaspoon powdered cardamom (or less, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon (or less, to taste)
1/2 cup water (or less)
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Wash, drain, peel, core and roughly chop all of the apples. Cook apples in a large saucepan with just enough water so they do not stick. When apples soften and break down use a potato masher, whisk or even a fork to help process the apples into sauce. Add the agave, lemon juice, zest and powdered spices. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

At this point you can put the applesauce into jars, let it cool, then refrigerate if it will be eaten quickly.

If you'd like a little chunkier applesauce reserve one or two of your apples. Once the other apples begin to breakdown into sauce finely chop the reserved apple, add to the sauce pan, and cook until the newly added apples have just softened.

If you want to can the applesauce, here are the directions from the Ball Blue Book:

Bring applesauce to boil (212 degrees Fahrenheit). Maintain this temperature as you ladle the hot applesauce into hot canning jars. Leave 1/2 headroom. Remove any air bubbles. Adjust two-piece cap. Process pints and quarts 20 minutes in a boiling-bath canner.

Rosey Spiced Apple Preserves

The NYTimes had some recipes up related to Rosh Hashana that I emailed along to Gayle. One is a beef dish that she and I talked about how to make vegan. I haven't tried that yet, but with the gorgeous bounty of apples from Kiyokawa Orchards I was prompted to make the Apple Preserves with Cardamon... with a twist. I made up a batch as described below to give to Lev & Gayle for Rosh Hashana.

Here's the recipe that appears with that link above:

2 tart apples, like Granny Smiths, cored, peeled and quartered
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or 3 whole pods, smashed.

Place apples in a medium heavy pan and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons water, plus other remaining ingredients. Bring to a slow simmer for about a half hour or until apples are soft.
Remove from heat and cover pan for 20 minutes. Serve immediately or transfer to a jar with a lid. Refrigerated, apples will keep for at least a week.

A few distinct changes I made in this recipe:

Well, first isn't a change so much as an "oops". I forgot to smash the cardamom pods. This meant I ended up adding the ground cardamom as well as having some whole pieces in there. I rather like cardamom, so I didn't mind the whole pieces and think the black specks are rather dramatic, but Christie found them hot.

The cardamom was nice, but I also added about a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon too.

I used 1 Honeycrisp and 1 Pink Pearl apple instead of two Granny Smiths. The varieties I used both are quite tart apples and I think far tastier than a Granny Smith. What happened was that the Pink Pearl cooked away into sauce. I ended up cooking it for a bit longer that suggested so the Honeycrisp would cook down a bit more. I also needed to reduce some of the water because...

Christie and I had picked fresh raspberries at a u-pick on Sauvie Island just before I made this so I was moved to throw about 1/4 cup of those into the mix. This added an additional tartness, but that wonderful summer berry note. It also turned the batch brilliant red -- beautiful!

I haven't talked to Lev & Gayle to ask if they enjoyed it. Not sure if the same issue with the cardamom seeds will surface. I must say that I liked it very much, ate it all up on toasted, sprouted wheat English muffins (and forgot a picture).

Easy Breakfast Tofu Eggs

I'm not an egg person. Even when I was just a vegetarian, I ate eggs maybe twice a year, and then it was EggBeaters, cooked extra hard, usually to placate someone in the car who had to go to Elmer's or IHOP for breakfast because their coffee has extra crack or something. I never quite understood the pancake house fetish.

But I'm becoming a tofu person. I'm already amazed that extra-firm tofu can become delicious pudding with just a little cocoa, almond extract, and agave. I've enjoyed several Hawaiian meals with fried sweet onions, cabbage, sauce, and tofu. I've been repulsed by the flan-from-Hell-like ickiness of Ma Po Tofu in MSG sauce.

So I decided to try tofu for breakfast. My tofu-for-brekky experience has mostly been with the godawful, half-hearted tofu scrambles that non-vegan restaurants throw on the menu to appease picky Portlanders. Even Mother's restaurant, which flings some pretty good fare, managed to serve me a boring, pass-the-salt-and-pepper-and-anything-else-that-looks-flavorful tofu scramble. To be fair, Lisa at Sweet Pea does come up with a pretty good tofu scramble for brunch sometimes.

With help from others in the PDXVCC, I invented an easy tofu breakfast that is, if I say so my own damned self, quite passable.

The secret: not just turmeric, which is good for a yolky yellow and a little spark of flavor, but also BLACK SALT. This little monster is available at Indian food stores for next to nothing, and it adds a mildly sulphuric, eggy flavor to anything it touches. It's also not black. My bag (from India Food World, I think) is pink. A little dab'll do you with this, so in my short recipe, it's 1/8th teaspoon, but it makes a world of difference to me.

Easy Breakfast Tofu Eggs

  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, drained and cut in 1/4" or 3/8" slabs (or minced, or mashed, or whatever)
  • 2 T large-flake nutritional yeast (nooch is good for cheesiness, even though I add cheese after)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 t black salt
  • 1/4 t turmeric
    1/4 t paprika
  • 1/4 t garlic sea salt
  • a couple shakes (1/8 to 1/4 t) black pepper
  • a few spritzes of nonstick oil
  • 1 or 2 slices Tofutti vegan American cheese

All spices in a bag or bowl. (Careful with clumping in the paprika and black salt. Shake or squeeze or whisk those out.)

Shake or dredge the tofu with the spices.

Frying pan on medium heat; slam the tofu in it. (Warning: do not actually slam the tofu in the pan or you'll look foolish.)

Cook for 5 minutes. Flip. Cook for 5 more, or until it looks about 2 minutes from being as crispy as you want it to be.

Drop the Tofutti cheese on it. Cover. Cook for another minute or two until the Tofutti cheese melts.

Serve over wheat toast, hash browns, English muffins, or anything else that you grew up eating with eggs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bulgogi-style fake chicken

When you think "cuisines that are super-easy to veganize," you think "Korean!" Right? Right?!

OK, so the meat-heavy Korean barbecue is not the most natural fit for vegans, what with the sauces and side dishes that always manage to sneak in powdered shrimp (who the heck needs to powder a shrimp?). But that doesn't stop your intrepid PDX Vegan Cooking Club. We threw down a fast bulgogi-type, pan-Tsushima Basin* dinner tonight, and everyone was happy -- even an omnivorous guest.

* It's the blue part of the map between South Korea and Japan.

The first few times we tried bulgogi, we used steak-style Meal Starters. It worked well, but the omni (who's addicted to "real" bulgogi -- which, apparently, is made from pig muscles) didn't think the beef flavor was right. We also tried Tofurky Oven Roasted Deli Slices. That approach was delicious, and the texture was pleasingly al dente. The omnivore, however, is not Tofurky compatible. If we didn't love her, we probably would have stopped with the steak-style Meal Starters, or the Trader Joe's analogue. But, because we're a good guy or something, we went back to the ol' drawing board to try to find a recipe that would convince her that she didn't have to go to meat-cooking places to find Korean goodness.

Tonight, we won. Yeah, score one for the vegans!

The breakthrough was using chicken-style Meal Starters. (We'd have preferred the TJ's version, but we had a freezer full of the Meal Starters.) After all, pig flesh is supposed to be "the other white meat," according to the television in the 80s. Why not try a fake white meat?

So we took this recipe for Spicy Pork Bulgogi from Recipezaar. Substitutions: 2 8-oz. bags of chicken-style Meal Starters for the meat; 1 Tablespoon of red pepper flakes instead of two. We also added about 2 cups of sliced white mushrooms from Trader Joe's, 1 chopped red bell pepper, a dozen or so thin slices of lotus root, and one tablespoon of toasted sesame oil.

Marinated the whole mess for an hour or two (though overnight would have been better); cooked it; served it. Had tremors of taste bud happiness throughout the meal.

If you've been to a Korean Barbecue restaurant, you know that they serve a million side dishes with the main dish. Bean sprouts, kimchi, veggie salads, pickled things, peppers, unidentifiable black things, marshmallows, flip-flops, calculator keys marinated in Wite-out... um... what were we typing about? Oh, yeah... side dishes. Here's where we decided to go Japanese, with a little Korean thrown in for authenticity.

The Korean is kimchi, for sure. You don't do bulgogi without kimchi. So when we started this odyssey, we went to the Pado World Korean market in Beaverton and looked through the dozens of kimchi brands to find one without shrimp, fish, squid, or centipede toes. That's also where we picked up the delightfully tangy and hot Kochi-jang (spelled 470 ways on Google -- good luck).

Today, it was off to Uwajimaya for side dishes. We decided on seaweed salad, bean sprout salad, fresh bean sprouts, and pickled radish salad (hari hari zuki). Paid about $7 total for enough salads to last three people for two or three meals, and enough bean sprouts to last 94 meals (or, truthfully, about one more meal before the remainder goes slimy).

The hit of the side dishes was the pickled radish salad. A forkful of bulgogi with a crisp, pickled radish on the end made for a perfectly sweet, tart, savory, spicy bite. The Japanese seaweed salad combined interestingly with the bulgogi as well, with the complementary elements meeting at the toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds. The bean sprout salad was fine on its own, and it was all right combined with the bulgogi.

Served with TJ's frozen-for-the-lazy-person brown rice and spicy veggie potstickers whose package threatened, "You can be served with delicious roasted dumplings."

A good meal was had by all, and no people (or pigs) were served with delicious roasted dumplings.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Farmers Market Dinner Surprise

I hit up the Farmers Market this morning and as I strolled around, polka tunes playing in the background (live), I came up with dinner tonight for Christie and I.  The end result was a simple, but very flavorful dish really showcasing some of the best of the season from local farms. 

The first stop at the market was for cylindrical beets (I'm biased and I think they're easier to work with when you want them raw for salads).  Persephone Farm had bunches of four of these complete with lovely greens.  While in line to pay they were putting out gorgeous, tall bundles of Lacinato (or dinosaur) type kale and I asked for one of those.  Dish one:  Balsamic Braised Beet Greens and Lacinato Kale (recipe below)

At the last stop I picked out a small Delicata squash.  This would be dinner dish number two.  After cutting it in half lengh-wise and removing the seeds, I microwaved the halves; cut side up for 3 minutes and skin side up for two (in a lower-powered, apartment sized microwave).   The squash was then roasted for about 20 minutes in a 400 degree (F) oven with about half a teaspoon of dark agave drizzled on top of, and about 1/4 teaspoon of Earth Balance in bits across, each half.    

When the squash was finished roasting in the oven quarters of it were plated with steamed barley, the braised greens and some thin-sliced, tempeh grilled with garlic pepper & olive oil. 

Farmer's Market Dinner Surprise

Balsamic Braised Beet Greens and Lacinato Kale:

Greens and stems from two beets
3 leaves of Lacinato or other type kale
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, chopped small
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1-2 Tablespoons or more balasamic vinegar
2-3 teaspoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded and/or flowers

Remove stems for beet greens, slice into 1 inch bits and set aside. Remove center stalk from kale and discard.  Chop beet greens and kale roughly and set aside.  Saute onions and garlic in olive oil.  Sprinkle on some salt and fresh pepper to taste when onions are translucent and add beet stems.  Continue to cook until stems begin to soften a little.  Add the greens and toss with onions and garlic.  When greens start to wilt add in vinegar and cover to steam.  Once greens are completely wilted, remove pan from heat, uncover and toss basil with greens.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thai-style hot and sour soup...

So, Sherri has been wanting hot and sour soup. I prefer the Thai-style to Chinese, and so that's what she got. I wanted to see how I'd do at recreating the Thai street soup "tom yam" I had while there, so I use odd asian fake meats (veggie kidney, crab and mushroom "pork" balls) as well as grilled and cubed tofu. The fake organ meat really made this, uhhh... "authentic", which means Sherri hated everything but the broth and veggies ;)

Hot and Sour Soup is a world favorite. This recipe is based upon the one found at, but with a few key differences, most notably the doubling of the recipe to make enough soup for the next day!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes


• 12 cups (three boxes) "chik'n"-style broth - Serves 8 as an appetizer, or 2 for main entree (with left-overs)
• 8 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, grated or finely sliced into matchstick-like pieces (skip the galangal, imo; the stuff befuddles me...)
• 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
• 2 Tbsp. red miso paste (in place of fish sauce)
• 3 Tbsp chilli & garlic paste
• 1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce (like Dan's bento sauce)
• 2 Tbsp chilli oil
• 1/4 cup rice vinegar
• 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
• 4 kaffir lime leaves (frozen, fresh, or dried) OR 2 Tbsp. lime juice
• 1 heaping Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp. water (whisk)
• 1-2 cups mixed "critter-bits" plus tofu

VEGETABLES (choose from the following, or add your own selection):

• 1 red or green bell pepper
• handful fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms (if dried, soak them in hot water for several hours)
• 1 cup Chinese cabbage such as bok choy, roughly chopped
• handful of fresh or frozen spinach
• frozen or fresh broccoli
• bamboo shoot strips


• Serve soup over pre-cooked rice noodles. We used a very thick and chewy kind (not flat-wide rice-stick. Think more like "rice-udon") that we were dubious of before hand, but worked out most excellently, although rice-stick would work well.


• handful of fresh coriander OR fresh basil
• lime
• mung bean sprouts


1. Heat broth in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, galangal or ginger, soy sauce, miso paste, chilli, vinegar, brown sugar and lime leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer while you add next ingredients.
2. Grill meat/tofu on a cast-iron grill or the like to give it some character, then add it to the pot, plus the vegetables. Simmer 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables are lightly cooked (but still on the crisp side).
3. Prepare the cornstarch thickener by using some broth. Whisk until smooth, then add to soup pot and stir to blend.
4. Ladle the hot soup into bowls (by itself or over noodles) and garnish with fresh coriander or basil.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tammy's Non-Traditional Chunky, Spicy Lentil Soup

Keep in mind folks that I don't really follow a recipe, but let your taste buds be your guide and customize this hearty and delicious soup to suit your needs and desires. The weather will soon be perfect for eating this often.

2-3 Cups of a combination chopped onion, chopped celery and chopped carrots. Use the proportions that make you happy
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 TBLSP crushed garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried or fresh cilantro
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste (sea salt works best)
2 cups red lentils
8-12 cups of water
1/2 pkg Ore Ida O'Brien Potatoes
Tapatio or your favorite hot sauce

In a mongo sized stock pot over medium to medium high heat, add olive oil, celery, onion, carrots and a dash of salt and cook until tender. Add spices and stir, cooking mixture for 2-3 minutes before adding lentils and water. I use enough water to fill the stock pot 2/3 of the way full. Add salt and simmer for about 30 minutes stirring often to facilitate the blending of flavors. Add O'Brien Potatoes and more salt. When lentils have completely broken down, add tapatio to your favorite level of heat, find the pesky bay leaf and remove it, then serve.

Tropicana Sardine-y Orange Juice

The article that you sent was understandably appalling and so I decided to share my consumer opinion with the source. I doubt that it has really been of much help, but it made me feel slightly better. Note that my letter to them was entered on one of their web forms, oh and the bolding is mine, as it is my favorite sentence in the whole letter.

RE: Tropicana Healthy Heart

I'm speechless. I understand the importance of Omega 3 fatty acids and take Flax seed oil capsules every day. My husband and I are vegetarians and it is horrifying that we have to check the label on ORANGE JUICE to make sure there are no animal products included. Why not flax? I drink Tropicana every day, and I realize (hopefully) that this is just in ONE of your products, but this decision makes me want to boycott all Pepsi products. Please explain the rationale behind anchovies in my orange juice!


We're sorry the presence of ingredients sourced from fish in Tropicana Pure Premium Healthy Heart Orange Juice with Omega-3's causes you concern. Clearly you were upset about this, and we are sorry.

Your well being and the reputation of our products for quality and safety are of the utmost importance to us. Please be assured that we take your concerns seriously and have forwarded your comments and concerns to our product development and management teams for review.

Healthy Heart is the only Tropicana product containing fish; fish based Omega-3s are the only two that are approved to use the FDA's qualified heart health claim. Over 75% of Americans don't get enough Omega-3's in their diet. That's why Tropicana created Healthy Heart with Omega-3. It's an excellent source of Omega-3 EPA & DHA, with Potassium, Folate and Vitamin C.

You may be interested to know that in addition to listing fish in the ingredients, there is also a kosher symbol (circle K, F) on the front lower left hand corner of the carton; the letter "F" stands for fish.

We understand that consumers are concerned about various ingredients and always try to consider these concerns when developing our products. We'd like you to know, many of our juices don't contain ingredients sourced from animals, such as our Pure Premium No Pulp Orange Juice.

We've mailed you a coupon in the hopes that you'll consider purchasing one of our other varieties of juices; your coupon should arrive in about a week.

Please be assured that your feedback is important to us, Tammy, and we appreciate having your comments on file. We thank you for your business and hope you will continue to be a valued Tropicana consumer.

Tropicana Consumer Relations

Tropicana's 514 railcars utilize environmentally-friendly refrigerants to keep our products tasting fresh.

September Market Soup

It was chilly yesterday so I felt like something warm and hearty. Came up with this soup based upon the veggies in the kitchen from prior trips Christie had made to the Farmers Market as well as the bounty of end-of-season tomatoes from the garden. It reminded us of minestrone, although it did not get any basil or other herbs. We also used a grain medley from Trader Joe's which contains Israeli couscous, red quinioa, some orzo, and yellow split peas (or maybe split, baby garbanzos, channa dal).

The result was very hearty, warming and full of bright flavors. The couscous continued to suck up the scant liquid, so we ended up with a thick stew; perhaps less of this should be used. We made some toast out of Dave's spelt bread and enjoyed bowls of the soup, it really hit the spot after having had a chill all day.

The details:

This made a whole pile of soup, so if you follow along and make this on the weekend you'll end up with plenty of leftovers to have during the week, or you can freeze some for some night when you don't feel like cooking.

6 cups of water
1 package of liquid bullion/veggie stock concentrate (TJs)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large, red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, chopped
2 large stalks celery, diced
1 cup chopped cauliflower florets
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 sunburst squash, diced
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup or LESS of TJs Grain Medley
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent, add salt and saute a little longer. Stir in water and bullion. Add in carrots, celery, cauliflower, red pepper, and tomatoes. Simmer and cover.

When carrots are starting to get tender add in the squash, the grain medley and the nutritional yeast. Continue to simmer until grains and split peas are cooked. Serve with salads or some toasted bread.

  • Patty pan is another name for sunburst squash, we used a white one.
  • Canned, diced tomatoes would easily work with this recipe, we used fresh because we are overwhelmed with ripe tomatoes in the garden!
  • I think barley would be delicious with this soup! It should be steamed separately and stirred in at the end or even serve the soup over the barley.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Vegan Sushi, Baby!

So Andy's been craving sushi. We've talked about going out to Mio, however, haven't really followed through since Andy's noted that it really smells of fish (something I'm not real wild about). Although we have made it at home in the past it isn't something we've done in ages.

Well, that's changed and we've been reminded that it isn't all that difficult once you have all the ingredients prepped and ready to go. We couldn't find the rolling mat so I improvised with a bamboo place mat folded in half. I discovered the avocado was all brown inside so while Andy ran to the market I got the rice prepped with some sushi vinegar. By the time he was back the rice was ready to go.

At first I tried pushing the rice into place with the paddle, but Andy quickly reminded me that in the past I found using wet hands worked best. He got me a small bowl of water so I could keep my hands wet and I quickly set to getting the rice spread out against the nori.

In pretty short order we had two avocado/cucumber rolls, one done inside-out. A vegan remake of a roll Andy used to love: vegan cream cheese, avocado, and asparagus tempura with spicy sauce and "roe" on top. We also made a yam tempura roll, one of my favorites. Some rice was left over and Andy had grilled some mock salmon. I put those on the top of rice, nigiri style, along with two pieces of tempura tofu.

All told there was an enormous pile of sushi! After both of us ate until quite full (and I sit here with two pieces next to me yet still), I had 12 pieces left for lunch/snack tomorrow at teacher training! What a delight to rediscover how much we enjoy making sushi at home.

So, how 'bout some details!

The shopping
  • There are some really particular things needed for sushi and most can be picked up at a well-stocked, Asian market. Fubonn might be a better option for eastside PDX folks whereas Uwajimaya would likely be easier for westside folks.
  • Strange things like mock crab bits and faux salmon (used to make some grilled "salmon" nigiri) are a speciality of Fubonn, there's huge freezer section filled with mock meat.
  • Sushi rice is a particular type, shorter grained. This is important because it helps the rice stick together. There are short-grained brown rice varieties out there, when we make another back this will be tried and posted about.
  • Sushi vinegar, also known as Seasoned Rice Vinegar, is also something particular and you should use it.
  • The sheets of sea vegetable (a.k.a. seaweed) used to wrap roll are called nori. There are several types at an Asian market, just pick one that sounds good. These can be cut up at home if you want smaller bits for hand-rolls (think a little cone of rice and fillings as opposed to a cut-up roll) or strips for affixing things to the top of the rice for nigiri style sushi.
  • Tempura batter mix, wasabi paste, gari (pickled ginger eaten between different bites to clear the palate or sometimes with a bite), soy sauce (tamari or shoyu could also be used), and a bamboo rolling mat should also be at the same market you're getting the rice, vinegar and nori at.
  • Vegan roe, made by Cavi-Art, can be obtained at Food Fight. New Seasons might be carrying this now. Made from sea vegetables this is salty, slightly crunchy, strangely accurate.
  • Vegan Cream Cheese -- made by Tofutti and available at Food Fight, New Seasons, Whole Foods, and at Peoples Co-op in BULK!

  • The rice is vital to sushi. Sushi means "rice with vinegar" and goes back in tradition in Japan to salt-preserved fish being served with vinegared rice.
  • All the other ingredients are just added to the rice, so you want it to be right. Too sticky and it is like eating paste rolls. Too dry or too wet and the sushi falls apart.
  • I use about half a cup of this vinegar to 4 cups of cooked sushi rice. Some people call to add about a teaspoon of sugar for every two cups of rice, however, I do not do this as sushi vinegar already has sugar in it.
  • The vinegar should be tossed with the rice, I prefer to use a tall wooden bowl to do this in (traditionally it is a bamboo bowl), until the rice is evenly coated. I then cover the bowl with a tea towel while I prep the various fillings and toppings.
  • When ready the rice should be sticky, roughly room temperature, or slightly warmer.
  • Use wet hands to work with it, keep a small dish of water nearby when you're making things.

The Stuff:
  • From here on out you can do whatever you want really! Slices of avocado, cucumber, daikon, carrot, bits of tofu (grilled, baked, fried, smoked, fresh, tempura battered, whatever), etc. All of these can be used inside of your rolls or topping nigiri-style, just go crazy with whatever you like.
  • Cut everything up into either thin strips for making rolls or small rectangle shapes (roughly 2" by 4") for nigiri
  • Make your tempura up ahead of time if you are including in rolls. You want everything prepped and ready to go so the fresh tempura can come from a brief drain & cool and go right into the sushi.
  • Directions/recipes I've seen for tempura note to use ice water, not merely cold, ice water to make the batter. This is supposed to keep it from absorbing too much oil and becoming greasy.

Maki Style:
  • These are the actual rolls, using the sheets of nori. The rice is spread onto the nori. If you flip it over, rice-side down (or spread rice and cover with nori) then you'll be set to make an inside-out roll.
  • After you spread out the rice in a thin layer (e.g., about a half inch thick or less) using wet fingers and hands put a little of the desired filling onto the rice, spreading across the surface in a thin line.
  • Less is good when it comes to filling rolls, unless you're trying to go for a huge roll by design.
  • Start the roll by turning over the edge nearest you filling so those things are on the inside. You use the mat to help turn the roll, tightening down on it as you go until the whole thing has been rolled up and you can give it a good squeeze inside the mat.
  • Cut in small rounds with a damp, sharp knife. We have a thin, cheap one with holes in the blade that came in a sushi making kit, it works well. Re-wet, clean the knife when it becomes sticky from the rice.

Close up of Cutting the Sushi

Nigiri style
  • This is the hand-rolled ovals of rice topped with stuff. (sorry the link I gave talks about making shrimp sushi, but it has good images to get the idea so just fill in "grilled tofu" every time you see/read "shrimp")
  • You start by taking a small ball of rice into your wet hands and pressing/rolling it into an oval roughly 4 inches long, 2 inches wide, and a couple of inches deep (at least)
  • It is traditional to put a spot of wasabi onto the bit of food you're going to put on top of the rice, but this can be skipped if it isn't going to work well (e.g., asparagus tempura)
  • You press the rice into the back of your topping (if you used wasabi, that is the "back" side)
  • Roll the whole thing over and give it a slight press, roll it over again and repeat
  • If you're going to wrap the whole thing in a bit of nori, do so now

That's it! Sit back, enjoy the applause and the yummy food! (**note: rice is orange. These were taken Halloween 2008 and orange rice was made for an added festive touch)

Halloweed Sushi

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

File Under Ewww!

The NYTimes has an article up about the surge in what the food industry labels, "functional foods". Particularly noted are some products that will be appearing at a mega-mart near you soon, Tropicana Healthy Heart orange juice and Wonder Headstart bread, which will contain omega-3 oils from anchovies and sardines. Yep, you read that right, fishy OJ and Wonderbread.

Add hidden fish to all the ways in which animal ingredients are snuck into commonplace food. Especially becuase this keeps happening in foods where one would think of checking to see if there are animal ingredients. I mean orange juice for cryin' out loud! Who'd think of checking that for fish? Especially if you're served it, without the comfort of the packaging there to reassure you.

Not only from a vegan perspective, but from an allergen one as well. What happens if some kid is served a nice glass of orange juice with breakfast after a sleep over at a friends house and falls over in anaphylactic shock. Everyone knows the kid is allergic to fish, but this is juice so no one thought to prevent the child from consuming it.

Ugh! It also just really irritates me the ways in which people are trying to compartmentalize all the compounds in food, so called "nutraceuticals". In turn this gives rise to businesses dedicated to the extracting, microencapsulating, in order to sell it to Tropicana to mix into orange juice devoid of any fishy taste or smell but chock-full of "heart healthy" fish oil!

There's just so many ways in which I find this wrong. That we're putting fish into juice, that we're focusing on micronutrients while not looking at the terribly complex way real food is digested by real people, and that doesn't even get around to the ways in which companies can claim food will offer some health benefit merely so people will consume more.

Ewww, indeed. Real food, that's what people need; tasty, in healthful proportions, and prepared with care.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tofu & Veggies with Miso

Tonight's dinner plan went ever so slightly awry, but still managed to be quite tasty. We planned for some fried rice with red cabbage, onion, and carrots served with some of the squash & eggplant from the garden and tofu.

I cut up all the veggies, dicing those that were going to go with the rice. I cut nice slices of super-firm tofu, planed the eggplant in half ("Hansel" heirloom variety, very small fruit) as well as a "cue ball" squash from the garden, and the last patty-pan that was brought over with the CSA box from AJ. All of these were put on the cast iron grill pan and seared until they all had some nice, blackened stripes. Then these were transferred to a foil-covered pan and each item glazed with a mixture of mostly red miso, peanut oil, ginger vinaigrette, and maple syrup.

Once the Zojirushi beeped at us Andy fried up the onions with some ginger & garlic paste then added the carrots and cabbage. Once everything fried a little in peanut oil he tossed in the brown rice. At this time the broiler went on for the grilled veggies with miso glaze.

Here's the bit that went wrong. The veggies were broiling, the miso glaze was starting to bubble very nicely, and then we looked away. The rice was finished so we got out bowls, etc.

We should have pulled the pan out of the oven before getting bowls. In that very short time we went from bubbling miso glaze to blackened! I was pleased to find it was not truly burnt tasting, but it did not taste at all like the miso and maple combination that went on. It was more like a salty, slightly sweet, kind of barbecue char. More Korean than Japanese, although not really sweet enough to be truly Korean style.

Ever since having tofu with a miso paste broiled on the top at Medicine in San Francisco I've been experimenting with this combination. It was just so tasty, in fact it was the tastiest thing about the whole meal which was under whelming considering the built up. We'd far rather go to Cha Ya any time!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chocolate Pudding

Have you ever purchased a recipe shortcut and then realized that you might as well have thrown a few bucks into the food processor? No? Damn. Well, just pretend you did, because I really did and I don't want to feel like the only schmuck on this blog.

I actually purchased a tofu pudding mix that promised to make a brick of extra-firm tofu into a bowl of creamy, delicious pudding. And it kind of worked. I had to add some sweetener and cocoa to pep up the flavor, but the end product was surprisingly puddingish.

Then I looked at the ingredients:

dehydrated raw cane juice, Dutch cocoa powder, potato starch, guar gum, non-hydrogenated coconut oil, soy lecithin, vanilla
Hmm... sweetener, cocoa, thickeners, oils, and vanilla. Not exactly rocket science.

So I zipped over to to see if anybody had a reasonably easy recipe for pudding, and found this five-star recipe. The ingredient deck here is even simpler:

1 block extra firm tofu
3 tablespoons high quality cocoa powder
3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup soy milk
3 tablespoons liquid sweetener. (flavored syrup, or maple syrup works really well)
And the method is exactly like the mix: throw everything into a bowl or blender and blend until smooth; chill while licking the mixing equipment.

I made it tonight, using agave for the sweetener, and I'm never buying pre-made pudding or a pudding mix ever again. My Pizzakrap blender even managed to puree the tofu into a darned interesting approximation of pudding. Or, really, more like mousse.

Future pudding explorations:

  • a teaspoon or so of mint extract for chocolate mint numminess
  • one of the commenters on VegWeb -- commenting on a similar recipe -- says this makes a tasty frozen treat
  • I'm thinking of trying a vanilla or almond version and layering it with the chocolate for a party parfait

*** Next day update ***

I was dreaming of parfait, I think, or maybe just Shrek. Anyway, I decided to make the parfait.

I made a vanilla-almond pudding this morning:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 4 T maple syrup, or to taste (I thought 3 T was a little light on the sweetness, but I'm aiming for decadence)
  • 1.5 t pure vanilla
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 3 T almond milk

Method: Blend until smooth.

The chocolate I made last night set up firm and silky, so I spooned some into a large, glass bowl and poured the vanilla over it. Chilled that for a couple hours, then spooned the rest of the chocolate over it. Topped with Soy Whip and sprinkles.

I can't wait to see my little creation demolished at a potluck this afternoon. Ev'body love parfait!

*** Two days later update ***

The parfait went like a Sweet Pea turtle cheesecake, which is to say, WHOOSH! I set it on the table at the potluck, went away to swim, and came back in maybe half an hour to see an empty bowl. It was a huge hit. While the different flavors were nice fresh out of the blender, they turned into a delightfully creamy moose mousse when properly chilled.

The frozen version, however, is a disappointment. I put it directly from the blender into the freezer (using a container -- this time), and it froze into a snirt-like mass of ice crystals. Perhaps I'll try letting it set up in the fridge before freezing, or adding a little oil to see if that keeps the mess from solidifying too much. Ideas welcome.

Also, chocolate mint works very well. I'd start with 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract added to the chocolate recipe above. 1 teaspoon is a little too Altoid-y (or a comparable, vegan mint-y).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Recipe newsletters

I was just looking at my inbox, noticing that about half of the interesting mail I get every day is recipe newletters. The titles below show up daily or weekly.

Vegetarian Times (, "Vegan Recipe of the Week," "Vegetarian Recipe of the Week," "Low-fat Recipe of the Week," and "Dairy-free Recipe of the Week." Nicely designed HTML newsletters with one recipe in each. Today my vegan recipe of the week was "Potato, Pea, and Couscous Hash," an easy-looking, one-skillet dish flavored with olive oil, garlic, tomato, paprika, parsley, and salt. What's with recipes calling for one clove of garlic, anyway? I put at least two cloves of garlic in my morning Panda Puffs cereal. Which may be why I always get a seat on the bus. Ba-dump-bump.

Chet Day's Dayzines (, "Healthy Vegetarian Recipes" and "Healthy Crock Pot Recipes," weekly. All right, these are pretty cheesy (Cheezly?), text-only newsletters with a pretty heavy emphasis on supplement and diet ads. Still, Chet's crew serves up an interesting recipe once in a while. The crock pot ones aren't vegetarian, and the vegetarian ones aren't vegan, but it never hurts to get new cooking ideas -- and it turns out I can lose 10 pounds a week by eating only moss.

Better Homes and Gardens (hey, shut up!) Daily Recipe (, signup box in lower right), "Daily Recipe," "Weekly Recipe," and "Healthy Eating." Again, not vegan. Sometimes vegetarian, but usually not. Attractive newsletters, each with multiple recipes and recipe ideas. One of their hallmarks is the bunch-o'-pages recipe collection, usually with names like "20-minute Fall Dinners" (9 recipes) or "Irresistible and Easy Pizza Ideas" (22 recipes). For our purposes, should we decide we don't want to adapt meaty recipes (very much), they have collections like "Slow Cooker Vegetarian Favorites" (10 recipes) and "Anytime Vegetarian Suppers" (23 recipes), many of which seem to lean heavily on the inexpensive, moo-juice-derived cheese and butter. Still, armed with only a tub of Earth Balance, it's easy to adapt this simple, intriguing "Onions with Pasta Nests" recipe (which seems like it's absolutely gasping for the addition of some garlic and herbs). And I just picked up a bunch of Walla Walla onions, too.

Allrecipes (, "Recipe Notes," "What's Cooking," "Daily Dish," "Healthy Bites," weekly or daily. Not vegan, but, again, good ideas. Usually a half-dozen or so recipes from their archives, which I think are user-generated. I like Allrecipes because the dishes are rated, 1-5, by people who have (presumably and hopefully) cooked them. It's hard to tell how something is going to turn out just by looking at the ingredients and method, so I'm happy to have others do the guinea pigging for me.

That's my idea-sparking list. Whadya got? Please post suggestions in comments.

Christie's Quick Late Summer Veggie Pasta

Yummy!  I should let her post about it!  Lots of Trader Joe's stuff in tonight's dinner!    I believe everything came from TJ's unless it came from the garden.

We had sprouted wheat parpadalle pasta tossed with some artichoke antipasto stuff, topped with a Middle Eastern zucchini from our garden sauteed with garlic paste, spinach, and lemon juice.  Add some diced tomatoes from the garden and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and that's dinner!

Dinner was very quick, hence Christie's name for the dish, and a lovely way to appreciate more of the tasty things we planted this summer.  I especially enjoyed her use of "quick" and "late" following one another in the dish name.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Impromptu Sweet & Sour

Since Andy & Kate went out to the cinema and dinner tonight and Christie decided to join me for dinner.  I had some stuff from the CSA box AJ brought over (they're house sitting and ended up with a second box to spare), namely broccoli and patty pan squash, and over ripe tomatoes from the garden.  There was spicy tempeh in the fridge, but I thought Andy was going to use it for something so I was opting for some of the super-firm tofu instead.  There was also some leftover brown rice in the cooker from yesterday, we set that to reheat right away.

I'd thought I'd sear the tofu in olive oil and balsamic, reducing the tomatoes to sauce, however, Christie finds tofu to be so intrinsically Asian that going the pan-Italian route with it wasn't going to work.  She suggested something gingery with all the stuff.  I didn't really feel like peeling ginger and wasn't entirely sure the hunk on the wooden block was very fresh, but I remembered we've got a jar of ginger & garlic paste from one of the Desi shops we visit for ingredients.  I described it to Christie and sent her to the fridge to hunt it down.

Peanut oil into the pan and then the tofu for a good fry, white pepper on top.  I let that fry, even stick a little until I could see some golden color on the pieces.  Then the broccoli florets and sliced up patty pan went in along with one and a half large diced, over ripe tomatoes.  I poured in about a tablespoon and a half of soy sauce, at least two tablespoons of sweet chili sauce (the stuff you dip spring rolls in), and a tablespoon the garlic & ginger paste. 

Popped the lid on and let the tomatoes cook down, which didn't take much time at all.  We hung out and chatted.  After stirring things around a bit we tasted and I then added a teaspoon of sugar, the juice from half a lime, and a couple of pinches of coarse sea salt.  A little while longer and we got warmed rice from the cooker and dished up.

It was great!  I was hoping for "good", just something quick and nourishing after yoga practice and a ride home.  It turned out so much better than I'm writing about it here!   I don't think I'll be able to think of standard, syrupy sweet & sour the same, this was so easy.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Massaman Curry

Andy made massaman curry tonight.  He tried to lobby for vegan brats since the Packers were playing the Vikings on Monday Night Football, but he'd already suggested Thai and I said I'd rather we stick with it.  Besides, I wanted rice!

Some of the pre-made pastes, Maesri in particular, have neither fish sauce nor shrimp (dried, fresh or otherwise) and are vegan.  We've used this brand and this type, massaman, before and I don't recall it being quite as spicy!  Not searingly hot, but certainly had both Andy & I sniffing.  I began to regret that I'd taken so much sauce that I had no plain rice to help relieve the slight chili burn.  Andy used a can of light coconut milk, from Trader Joes, but I believe we used less curry paste in the past because the sauce was much lighter.  This is likely why I recall it as being milder.

The best parts in it?  The carrots I pulled out of the ground of the field next to my Mom's, the summer squash brought by AJ (from friends' CSA box while they're out of town... extras!), the red potatoes.  The carrots were so sweet and lovely, I ate up bits of one while I chopped then up.  The squash, a "butter stick" type variety (yellow zucchini) was really tender and nice in the curry sauce.  Red potatoes always seem to be just succulent and lovely in massaman curry and these were true to form.

Cooking Ideas Compiled!

I've been thinking about this for a while -- creating a blog space where vegan cooking ideas, successes, failures, cries for help and comments can be gathered together.  This blog is to share a love of making and eating wonderful, vegan food.  I'm hoping over time it will grow to be a place of sharing and support, not another spot for tirades and "more-vegan-than-thou" types of judgement.

I'll be planning on including links to websites if I got the idea from somewhere on line, or at least a link to the cookbook that was used.  No one has to be vegan, but the cooking tips and recipes should be.