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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.