Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Foodz

I think I speak for both Kev and myself when I say: we love being vegan. Love it. We love it so much that we're willing to both (a) bring our own food to the myriad holiday family events, and (b), "inconvenience" our families into cooking vegan dishes for us. Our families have taken some time to catch on and learn some vegan cooking techniques, but now that years have passed and they realize this veganism thing isn't going away, they've been wonderfully accommodating. I'm grateful for their kindness and support of our choices. I'm also grateful for my mama, my fellow family vegan!

Holiday dining highlights include:

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole on Xmas morning, a hybrid of this recipe and the recipe from Vegan Brunch. Kevin recently replaced my broken breadmaker with a Goodwill score, so I made two homemade loaves of French bread, cubed it, and allowed it to go stale on the counter. It broke my heart to let all that wonderful, fresh, crusty bread go dry, but the results were worth it. Even the picky teenage boys liked it. I baked it with pecan pralines on top and served with maple syrup.

Christmas dinner was at Kev's aunt ML and uncle Jim's gorgeous waterfront home on the Eastern Shore. ML made all vegan sides: mashed sweet/russet potatoes, braised shredded brussel sprouts, and a huge salad. We wanted to bring an entrée to contribute, so we made the Cauliflower and Mushroom Pot Pie from V-con in pie shells instead of the black olive biscuit dough. Kev has also become quite the little seitan-maker, so he made and dry fried some to go in the pie too. Here's a photo before we topped it:

We brought coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream and made floats with a Belgium lambic as dessert for everyone. Idea stolen from the Kitchn

photo from the Kitchn.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, old boy!

Back from Florida and ready to rumble!

I flew back in time for Mr. Kev's 28th Bday. A lovely birthday brunch was had by all at Great Sage, an all-vegan cafe in Clarksville, Maryland.

Breakfast of champions... Vegan Bloodies.

Kevin only eats tomatoes if the taste is masked with vodka and hot sauce. I found more gray hairs while he was sipping away.

"Huevos" Rancheros with sour cream and guac.

Birthday Boy Breakfast Burrito, with collard greens so that he'll grow up strong.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Collapse from Cooking

It's all made. Cooked. In the fridge.

Two cooked chickpea cutlet roasts, stuffed with apple-cranberry dressing. Also, surplus pumpkin pie that has fallen prey to my quality-control measures. The house smells divine.

Time for a glass of wine.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Vegan MoFo: It's Beginning to Smell a lot like Thanksgiving!

 Grandma's antique Native American napkins with happy birds, probably made by Florida Seminole Indians.

Commence preparation! I have my work cut out for me. Our menu is set to include:
  • Stuffed chickpea cutlet loaves
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Cornbread stuffing
  • Spiced sweet potatoes 
  • Gravy
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Apple Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Guest contribution: swamp cabbage! More on this later...
My mom had to go to work yesterday, so I was home alone with nothing to do but cook! Woe is me. I've done a good amount of the prep work, including making the cornbread for the stuffing.

Whole Grain Cornbread (adapted from VegWeb)

1 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 T cornstarch or arrowroot + 1 T water, whisked to combine

3/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup cornmeal, medium grind
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
  1. Combine the wet ingredients, whisking to combine well.
  2. Assemble the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix.
  3. Add dry to wet, stir only until combined. Prolonged stirring makes for flat, stiff bread.
This bird guards the clean napkins year-round.

Papayas! Ah, Florida in November.

Papaya blossoms

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vegan MoFo: It was only a matter of time...

...before I was another vegan gone gaga for Vita-Mix. You may remember my former post: SOS, Send Vita-Mix. Well, the Vita-Mix didn't come to me, so I went to the Vita-Mix. In addition to awesome photo props, my mom also has fabulous cooking appliances. I guess some people come to Florida for the sunshine and beaches, but I come to rave about the awesome food blogging opportunities. Nerd alert.

 After an hour of pilating, this was my healthy, wealthy, and wise lunch. It's a result of asking myself "what in this house can I Vita-Mix (v.) that isn't for Thanksgiving?" The result:

Low-Fat Cauliflower Alfreda Sauce
  • 1 lb frozen cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup almond milk, or other non-dairy "milk"
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 scant tsp onion powder
  • 1 scant tsp garlic powder
  • 1 T. white miso
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • Cracked black pepper
  1. Cook your cauliflower per package. I quickly blanched mine. Don't boil the hell out of it, or you'll destroy it's nutritiony goodness. Drain when done.
  2. Place milk,cauliflowers, and remaining ingredients in Vita-Mix. 
  3. Turn that baby on, and oh my god it's amazing. 
You can eat as soup, but I had some leftover soba and ate it as an alfreda sauce, sprinkled (in my case, sloppily) with paprika. A twist of lemon might be nice too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Where the heart is...

In celebration of my "inter-employment" break, I've flown to Florida to enjoy the warm weather and family holiday. My mama and I are off to a good start: a visit to her community garden, a nice long walk, shoe shopping, and lovely dinner. We've been setting the menu for Thanksgiving, and the master shopping list is ready for our pilgrimage to Whole Foods tomorrow. All that food-talk got me in the mood for something sweet, and luckily my mom had bought these treats from the farmers' market. They're made by local celebrity, Chef Brooke. She has a cozy little cafe that focuses on clean eatin' called... (are you ready?)... Chef Brooke's Natural Cafe.

Pumpkin Muffin with Marshmallow Raisin Topping
My mom's house has better photo props, like this cute little pumpkin guy that our Japanese friend Kazuko glazed and fired for us. Ah, memories.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Long live the turkeys!

Kevin and I are both taste testing a few Thanksgiving recipes. We did vegan T*giving together at my mama's house last year, but this year he'll be staying in Maryland and showing his family how amazing cruelty-free "Turkey Day" can be. Mom and I are making Thanksgiving for a few omnivores, so we're all aiming to please and impress. I was inspired by Vegan Yum Yum's seitan roulades. Here's our attempt at a stuffed chickpea loaf that goes great with gravy. You could consider this your homemade version of Field Roast of Tofurkey, cause who really wants to bring packaged food to Thanksgiving?

First you have to make a double batch of chickpea cutlet dough and a batch of stuffing. Roll the cutlet dough out to an 8x11 inch rectangle-oval. Place string underneath, fill with stuffing (not too much or you'll have that same "too full burrito" type dilema.) Roll it up, overlapping the edges slightly and sealing with a little water. Tie it off. Brush the top with olive oil.

(Next time, I may try cooking seam-side down for a cleaner appearance.)

In an oven heated to 350F, cook your chickpea loaf and additional stuffing for about 30 mins. Chickpea loaf should, like cutlets, be firm to the touch and slightly golden brown.

On their way to the oven.

Cremini mushrooms make stuffing yummy and moist.

VegWeb 'I Can't Believe It's Vegan' Gravy. 

I love this stuff. 

Heed my warning, friends: let your loaf COOL for at least an hour or so before you slice it. This would work well to be made the night before, then wrapped in foil and reheated in the oven on Happy-Turkey Day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vegan MoFo: A day in the park

Since resigning from my job, I have time on my hands to do fun things like picnic with my friends in the park. Today's blog post is brought to you by yesterday's lovely lunch.

My dear friend Kimber and her four year-old daughter Harper are my closest vegan friends here in Maryland. Kimber was an inspiration when I first transitioned to veganism. She's one of the birth center nurses, and we would stay up late nights with laboring moms, talking about veganism or looking through whatever wonderful cookbook she'd brought. She also seemed to never come to work without some sort of delicious homemade vegan treat. There were a lot of long nights made better by vegan cookies. She was a great support when I decided to give up my sinful ways and come over to the lighter side.

She made the tempeh pecan salad from I Eat Trees, and I contributed a bottle of sake. We packed it all up and headed to the park for a lovely lunch in the crisp fall air.

(Thanks so much to my amazing and inspiring friend Kimber for sharing lunch with me and taking these photos! Check out her blog: Vegan Hippie Mama.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Upside-down Chili Bowl

Why has it taken me so long to realize that the freezer is awesome? It's the key to maximizing leftovers' potential. Freeze that shit before everyone you know gets tired of eating it. Wait six weeks, thaw it out, and smile because you'll have an awesome dinner without the kitchen mess.

During my chili cook-off recipe testing, I froze a lot of chili. This was some black bean pumpkin chili. In my book, chili just ain't chili without cornbread. It's usually served over cornbread, but this time I decided to see how things tasted on the flip side. Here's what came of it:

Corn muffin batter spooned over hot chili, cooked in an oven-safe bowl for 15 mins at 400F.

Today was my last day seeing patients in my office. I'm on call tomorrow, and a few hopefully women have told me that they're determined to go into labor before I leave the birth center. As of 7 AM on Wednesday morning, I am unemployed and can't freaking wait!

Me with some sweet ladies and babes I've helped get born.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vegan MoFo: SOS! Send VitaMix!

Don't those pregnant women know I have MoFo to keep up with? Sheesh. I've had so little time to cook, and even less time to blog because there's a baby-birthin' bonanza on my hands. Do you remember the blizzards of Winter 2009/2010 that covered the mid-Atlantic in snow? Because people were home from work and couldn't drive anywhere, they spent their quality time getting pregnant. We're now knee-deep in the resulting "blizzard baby" births. It's great. After hanging up my catcher's mitt this morning, I had some time to make a proper brunch. 

This Potato and Tempeh Casserole is gooey and savory and noochy and downright nummy. It's a snap to whip up. The sauce comes together really nicely in even a brokedown blender like mine. She's a family heirloom. After all the buttons broke from over-use injury, my brother "Mister Mechanic" (nickname given to the four year-old who could fix your TV) made this lovely all-purpose, after-market RED button. Yeah, this is how I roll. And blend.

Easy peasy... just slice the tempeh and make the marinade. Microwave for like 10 mins:

Layer the nuked tempeh and sliced potatoes in pretty dishes given to you by friends:

Whip up the cheezy sauce in your ghetto-rigged and possibly dangerous appliance, and pour over the layers:

Bake, but then resist the urge to devour until almost room temperature. Please, please. Head my warning; it's so much better once slightly cooled and more congealed.

Project for the rest of the day: attempt to veganize the Libby's Pumpkin pie recipe. My mama and I are making vegan Thanksgiving for our wonderful--but very not vegan-- relatives and want to impress.

Question: Have you ever attempted to veganize a classic pumpkin pie recipe? How'd it go?
Also, what's your favorite pumpkin pie recipe? I need to know!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Thanksgiving Beta 1.0

Few things are as good as coming home to a warm, home-cooked meal after a long day at work. There's a reason he's earned the blog nickname "Kitchen Kevin." After some gentle arm twisting, Kevin agreed to guest-post about the awesome stuffing he made a few nights ago. Without further adieu, Kitchen Kevin presents...

Chopped and seasoned.

Thanksgiving can be a challenging time for a vegan. I don't know about yours, but my family tends to give me a hard time about not eating the same things as they do. I try to be diplomatic, even when they don't... that's the hard part.

So this year, I've decided to show them how I do (rather than meekly eating double servings of side dishes). I'm going to whip up some kind of chickpea cutlet roast with mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy, but these are posts for another day.

My favorite part of the traditional meal has and always shall be the stuffing (with gravy, of course). I had a look at the ingredients list of the old faithful (Stovetop) box and I was appalled, though not surprised. There's a lot of stuff in there! Obviously I needed to learn how to make it from scratch... but there are few things in this world that aren't better made from scratch. So, I put that box of crap back on the shelf, bought a loaf of seeded Jewish rye, and scurried home to give this recipe a try.

Yeah! Put me in the oven!

It was great! It didn't take very long to make, and it tasted just like I think it should! I used Megan's veggie broth, and I added some sauted mushrooms to the mix and extra sage. Generous application of sage is critical, IMHO, to this as well as the requisite gravy.

 I also added extra veggie broth and made sure the stuffing was on the moist side, so it wouldn't dry out when I put in in the oven at 325 for 15 minutes.

The only thing I'll do differently next time is let the bread air dry for longer (more than 45 minutes, which is as long as it took me to make the stuffing and gravy). Megan suggested that throwing the bread in the oven briefly will speed up the processe when you're pressed for time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Special Delivery!

I try to remember to say that I "catch" babies, since I don't deliver the babies. Mom's deliver their babies. And Johnny Rads delivers some awesome pizza. (How's that for a segue? After a day of "catching," I've got babies on the brain.)

MoFo's had me cooking up a storm lately, but I was sick of the cooking-cleaning routine last night. The weather was unseasonably warm, and a the combination of bike ride/beer/pizza was too much to resist. Time to try some place new. Johnny Rad's was voted Baltimore City Paper's 2010 "Best New Bar." It's a pizza tavern with vegan goodies on the menu. Isn't their logo super cute and Black Flag-esque?

After a brisk four mile bike ride, pretty much everything on the menu sounded awesome. They have Teese available for veganizing any meat-free pizza, but there's also a vegan cheese-free pizza called the Templeton. Isn't that a great name? It makes me want to have a veritable smorgasbord. We put Teese on a pizza with mushrooms, black olives, arugula, marinara, salt, and olive oil. The crust was killer and neared perfection. Unlike my former favorite vegan pizza place here in Bmore, they actually got the Teese melty. So good. So, so good.

If ever you're in Baltimore, definitely check this place out.

(Logo and Natty Boh photos are property of Johnny Rad's, FYIz.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Enchilada Pie

I've been wanting to make this for weeks now. It's Susan V's Mexican Lasagna. I had a bottle of Trader Joe's enchilada sauce and a can of their authentic refried beans (both vegan) just burning a hole in my pantry!

Susan's recipes are great. They're usually pretty simple, quick, use basic ingredients, and are fairly healthy. I don't think I've ever had one of her recipes flop on me, which is sayin' something for low-fat, vegan cooking!

In the interest of not having a surplus, I halved the recipe and made in a pie pan instead of a 9x13. After all, can't have too many leftovers when there's so much more food-creation and blogging to do!

Other alterations include: used a can of diced tomatoes (drained) since tomato season is d-o-n-e.  Used whole onion, whole green bell pepper, and whole jalapeño for the halved recipe.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Bubbie Baby's Mandel Bread Recipe

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about veganizing my Grammy's mandel bread, I'm finally organized enough to share the recipe. Like biscotti, mandel bread can accommodate many different additions. Family favorites include candied ginger, dried cherries, cranberries, almonds, and pecans. The main difference between mandel bread and biscotti is vanilla vs. almond, respectively. Grammy's recipe used a dash of orange juice too, but I subbed with a couple drops (literally, drops) of orange extract. It's optional.

What makes these really tasty is their toastiness. If you can read the last 2 lines of the handwritten recipe, Grammy says to "Toast with fire for 10 min." I like that part.

Bubbie Baby's Vegan Mandel Bread
(adapted from family recipe and V-Con Biscotti)

1/3 cup soy milk
2 T ground flaxseed
1/2 cup sugar, heaping
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
drop or two of orange extract, or a tablespoon of orange juice
1 cup all-purpose flour + 2/3 cup WW pastry flour (or all AP if you prefer)
2 T arrowroot powder or cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Cinnamon and sugar from dredging


  • In a large bowl, combine flaxseeds and soy milk. Whisk briskly for 30 seconds. 
  • Add sugar, oil, vanilla, orange juice/extract and stir to combine.
  • Sift in the dry ingredients and stir just until the dough is formed.
  • Fold in your fruit and nuts.

  • Briefly knead the dough.
  • Line the baking sheet with a piece of foil or parchment (this makes things easier later.)
  • Form the dough into a long loaf, roughly 12x4 inches.

  • Bake for 30 minutes at 350F.
  • Remove from oven and transfer the loaf onto a cutting board. This is where the foil/parchment comes in handy.
  • Let cool for about 30-40 mins, until firm. During this time, heat oven to 375.
  • Very carefully slice the cooled, firmed loaf into 1/2-3/4 inch thick slices. A sharp knife helps is essential. Use firm, confident slices. Don't be tentative or try to saw the loaf-- this causes crumbles!
  • The slices are fragile! Carefully dredge the cut sides in cinnamon/sugar and place them, crust side down, on the baking sheet.
  • Toast with fire for 10 min!
  • (This means bake at 375 until slightly browned.)
  • Let cool on the baking sheet, then store in a sealed container to retain crispiness. 

Blog faux pas, reusing yesterday's photo. Sorry!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Hey, Good Lookin'!

What ya got cookin'?

Southgate Publix. Lakeland, Florida.

I'm a third generation down-home cook. My Grammy made some dang good food. She used to move around the kitchen, preparing local produce from the "curb market" and crooning Hank Williams songs. She was a Southerner and a Jew, so all that fresh produce wasn't weighed down with bacon and ham-hocks like so many traditional southern veggie dishes.

Grammy had her own arsenal of special recipes that she'd perfected over the years. They weren't from a book. Maybe some were shared from relatives on handwritten scraps of paper. Most existed in her mind and were enjoyed on the occasion that you came to visit. For me, her classic is Mandel Bread. It's a traditional Jewish cookie, similar to biscotti and very adaptable. When she passed away, her legacy was distributed via photocopies of some handwritten recipes that someone had coerced her into recording. Her Mandel Bread is part of the collection.

I haven't made the non-vegan version of her mandel bread. After a consultation call was placed to my mom, I attempted veganizing the recipe. I loosely used Isa's V-Con Biscotti recipe for veganization purposes. It seemed an appropriate source, since Isa is my go-to for vegan Jewish cooking.

Bubbie Baby's Mandel Bread

I don't know what my Grammy would say about vegan mandel bread. I won't say mine is as good as hers, but they share an important quality: I can't stop eating them!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Broth

I've been fortunate to catch two "butter babies" in the last couple days. I just learned this term from a midwife friend who uses it to describe those babies that just slip out like soft butter (or Earth Balance, as the case may be.) After last night's 4 AM butter baby birth, I was pretty wired when I got home in the wee hours. Tack on the circadian confusion of Daylight Savings Time, and there was no way I was going to sleep. 

What's a sleepy midwife to do? The only reasonable solution is to start messing around in the kitchen. 

Time to make some freezer bag veggie broth. Anyone who cooks with me knows that my savory scraps don't go down the disposal; they go in a freezer bag. See, composting's hard when you live in Baltimore City. There are rats that tamper and rowhouse neighbors' noses to offend. My solution is to save up my broth-worthy scraps (onion peels, carrot tops and peels, odds n ends of herbs, celery bits, and any other parsnip/leek/garlic-type ends.) I collect all of this in a gallon freezer bag, and when the bag's full I make broth! Just empty the bag into a stock pot of water and simmer for a long time. I add a little salt, but I usually do most of my salting when cooking with the broth.

Once the broth has cooked down, I use a mesh strainer to pour it into a bowl and divide it amongst plastic storage containers or jars. Warning about freezing broth in jars: refrigerate first, then freeze with the lid off for a few hours. Physics tells us that liquids expand when frozen. I was never good at physics and have had a glass jar of broth crack in the freezer. That sucked. Oh well...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vegan MoFo:

Since stumbling upon the world's best vegan gravy in a little Asheville cafe (Rosetta's Kitchen,) we've been searching high and low for a recipe that would recreate the divinity. I think we may have found it. This is the I Can't Believe It's Vegan Gravy recipe from VegWeb. Kevin made breaded-n-baked chickpea cutlets. We served these with smashed red taters and collards greens, all smothered in our heavenly gravy.

Note: the gravy was just so-so until we made a mid-prep grocery run for some sage. Don't bother making this gravy unless you have some ground sage to sprinkle in.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Secret's in the sauce!

On MoFo Day 1, I posted a picture of the pie I brought to my friends' Halloween Potluck Wedding. (I know. Cool, right?) We also brought a load of Vietnamese summer rolls. The secret to a making a good summer roll is serving them with some really awesome sauce. I've tried quite a few sauce recipes, and this one's money. Not only is it delicious; it's also insultingly simple. The hardest part is reading the label on the hoisin sauce at the grocery store to make sure it's vegan.

Freaking Awesome Peanut Sauce for Summer Rolls

1/4 cup vegan hoisin
3 T creamy peanut butter
3 T water

Mix, mix, mix. Top with chopped peanuts if you're feeling ambitious and aren't also making a pie and two Halloween costumes the way I was that day!

This is my photo of Kevin taking the photo of the summer rolls. Oh what big pixel count you have!