Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I missed my kitchen!

Kevin and I just got back from a four day backpacking adventure in Shenandoah National Park. I didn't have much time to plan because I worked 60 hours in the three days before our departure (yes, it's legal.. though midwifery borders on human rights violation, if ya ask me. I digress.) I did, however, get the food planned pretty well. We feasted on vacuum packs of Indian food and seasoned soybeans/chickpeas from TJ's, along with lots of fresh apples, avocados, and a big ol' bladder full of wine. 'Cause when you take the 'box' out of 'box wine,' you're left with wine in a bladder.

After some post-hiking indulgence at my favorite Korean home-away-from-home, Spa World, and more kimchi than you can shake a chopstick at... I returned home to my cozy kitchen and started cooking up a storm.

Brunch was Gingerbread Waffles from Vegan Brunch. Apples baked with cinnamon were yummy as topping.

Between brunch and dinner, I made more zucchini spelt muffins, roasted a massive butternut squash, cooked a spaghetti squash, and made homemade veggie broth. I keep a freezer baggie of all of my veggie scraps that are good broth makin's (peels from onion, leeks, carrots, pieces of celery, scraps of herbs) and eventually cook it all down once the bag gets full. One gallon freezer bag made about 4 quarts of veggie stock!

Because Kev and I are both fighting off the allergy-induced, post-nasal, almost-sick-but-not-quite nasties-- soup was in order! I reworked an old Gourmet magazine favorite. This soup really warms your soul. I added a little Sriracha at the dinner table, just to clear my sinuses! You could skip the potato step; it just thickens the broth.*

White Bean and Arugula Soup

1 small to medium potato, finely diced*
1 cup water or broth*
1 large onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
3 cloved garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
1 T water
1 T tomato paste
2 cups veggie broth (I used my homemade freeze scrap stock)
2 cups water
2 cups cannelli beans or chickpeas
salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
7 oz of arugula (TJ's sells in this size bag, less or more is OK too)

In small but heavy saucepan, boil the potato in the water or broth until tender and set aside.*

In a heavy pot (about 5 qt capacity,) heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, salt, and water. Cook until veggies are tender, stirring often.

Add tomato paste, stir to combine, and let cook for about a minute.

Add beans and broth. Simmer briskly until everything is tender, about 15 minutes.

In blender, combine the contents of the potato pot with 1 cup of the bean soup. Blend to puree, then transfer back to pot, stirring to combine. Careful with hot liquids in the blender! 

Stir in arugula, partially cover the soup pot, and let cook until the leaves are wilted, about 1 minute.

Enjoy with crusty bread!

Camping kitchen: good in a pinch but not ideal for vegan gourmet.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bittman's Beets-n-Lentils: my way

I've made this really fabulous beet and lentil recipe twice from Mark Bittman's blog on the New York Times site. It's actually his posting of a recipe from blogger Emily Nunn. The flavors are great, but the original recipe is a bit complicated.

Here's how I do it: simplified and half the amount.


3-4 medium beets, washed and unpeeled
1 1/2 cup green lentils (I've also used yellow split peas with good success)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 veggie bouillon cube (I like Not-Chicken) dissolved in 2 cups water, or two cups of veg stock
10-15 basil leaves, chopped
1-2 T olive oil
Dijon vinaigrette (recipe below)

To cook the beets:
You can steam them stove-top or roast them in foil in the oven. Just be sure they're nice and tender when they're done cooking. Slough off the skin under cool water and dice.

In a heavy pot, sauté the onions in the olive oil until translucent.
Add the stock and lentils, cover and cook on low until tender.

When the lentil are done, add the beets, stir, and let cool to room temp.
Once cooled, add the basil and vinaigrette (see below)

I make my vinaigrette with less oil than the original. In a jar, combine:
2 T olive oil
1/3 cup water
3 T red wine vinegar
Heaping tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
cracked pepper

Place lid on jar. Shake, shake, shake until emulsified. Pour over the lentils, stir to combine. Serve room temp or cold.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Baking Bonanza

When I was in nursing school, they told us that the only healthy coping mechanism is altruism. Helping others. I think I found another healthy mechanism for coping through stress: baking. (Nothing is terribly wrong, just life changes.) I'm a baking machine these days, and with the only fully functional oven still being down in the basement, it's not as bad to do some summer baking.

Above are zucchinni spelt muffins from Vegan Brunch and carrot cake muffin/cupcakies from VegWeb.

I haven't worked with spelt before and enjoyed working with it-- less gluten so less risk of over mixing. Isa warns of a "health-foody" taste, but I didn't have that problem.

Other recent forays in the baking department include Fat Free Vegan's Can't Be Beet Chocolate Cake (nuuuumm) and her Berries and Spice Muffins.

All this baking is more than I can eat, so if you're local here: look out. Baked goods coming your way.

(Photos by Kev. Thanks, Kev. Eat up!)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Vegan Lady House

I am tardy in blogging about so many things. I've been busy living life away from the internet.

Last month my mama and I took a much-needed vacay to Maine. She flew in to Bmore, and we drove north from here.

  • First night was spent in NYC, where we ate so much delicious vegan food at Red Bamboo.
  • Night number two was in Portland, ME. Mom helped me polish off the sampler at Gritty McDuff's brewery.
  • Night three was in Searsport, just outside of Belfast. We stayed in Elm Cottages, a veg'n B&B. If you ever make it to Maine, you MUST stop in and see Janet. The B&B is set in a charming coastal Maine town in a 1800s cottage. She has a massive garden outside. The beds were cozy, but the breakfast was truly phenomenal. Tofu scramble, homemade bread and homemade jams/preserves, granola with soy milk, and good company. Janet was so warm and hospitable. She shares her home with several rescued animals, all of whom were very sweet. Can you tell I liked this place? 
  • Subsequent Maine nights were spent in Bar Harbor. Would you have ever in a million years though that touristy Bar Harbor would be a vegan mecca? Almost every restaurant has vegan options or a vegan menu. Even the homemade ice cream shop in town square had two soy ice cream flavors!

Maple Pecan and Cappuccino vegan ice cream!

The time away gave an opportunity to have work done in the casa while I was away. This Vegan House is now This Vegan (Single Lady's) House. Ch-ch-ch-changes were in order. High on the light of priorities was ridding myself of the cat piss soaked carpet (Kitty decided litter boxes were for sissies and that the carpet was preferable.) There were original pine floors under the nasty-rug. However, they were covered in grey lead paint. Grrreat. So, I got some pros (same guys who did the concrete counters I so adore) to come re-do the floors. 

Narsty grey lead paint in the sewing room.

Sanding the bedroom.

Bedroom now!

fuzzy Droid photo of the sewing room now!