Monday, August 27, 2007


First, I want to apologize for not posting a photo with this. God knows I have a couple sitting in my camera even after my multi-food postings recently. But mostly, I want to apologize for the rant that is to follow. If it offends anyone, I'm sorry. But sometimes (well, often... OK, so I run my mouth once in a while!) I just need to say things. If you're not ready for a little vegan rant, just click on the above link and go to my most recent, yummy food post. :)

If you succumb to what people call news nowadays, you probably know about the big-headed football player, Michael Vick, and what he did to the dogs (organized a dog-fighting kennel and then murdered or had a hand in murdering roughly eight dogs by horrible stunts such as electrocution, hanging, and slamming them into the ground).

What I want to say is that Vick did a very nice impromptu (maybe) speech today, apologizing to the NFL, the viewers, his teammates, the team, his coach, and most of all (the newscasters loved focusing on this one - get your hankies ready) the little kids who watch and idolize him. He even admitted that dogfighting is a cruel sport. But did he apologize to the animals? To those not fully on the vegetarian or vegan bandwagon, you might snicker at this, but I believe that leaving out an apology for the pain and suffering that he caused to the poor dogs (including those who suffered and starved but did not have the luck to die and be relieved of the pain), was a key to showing that he really is not contrite for what he did. He cares about disappointing his fans, losing his status, the respect of his teammates, but he does not really understand nor mourn the death of the poor dogs that died at his hand. Shame on him.

Some day, people might make the connection between the pity, sadness and revulsion they feel when they hear of this kind of cruelty, and the actions of the workers who slaughter cows, sheep, lambs, pigs, chickens and other sentient beings. They might even make the connection between the pain and suffering dogs (and other companion animals) feel, and the pain and suffering that cows and other such animals also feel. But for now, I just hope everyone can take a moment to pause and think a moment (meditate, pray, whatever) about those poor dogs. And shame on Michael Vick for not doing the same.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Second Chance

Although this photo has nothing to do with the title of this post, I just had to put it up first on the "line up." These are the Raspberry-Chocolate Chip Blondies from Vw/aV, and they were as good as they smelled - perhaps better! The photo does not do them justice (or rather, my digital photo taking abilities don't do them justice!). If you haven't made these yet, they are the simplest things to make, while still impressive looking. The best thing I have to say about these is - they taste better cooked than as raw dough! (That's my highest praise). I used my favorite childhood seedless red raspberry jam - the best there is - made by Trappist Monks in my home state of Massachusetts.

I brought these lovely treats to my veggie group as promised, and there were hardly a couple bites to take home! Everyone asked for the recipe - I urged them to buy the whole book! :) The combination of raspberry and chocolate was sublime. However, coconut freak that I am, I know that I will be trying Dreena's Coconut Raspberry Squares for the next meeting. They will be far lower in sugar and fat, too!

So, here is the photo, or meal rather, that prompted this post's title, "A Second Chance." This is Isa's Mango-Ginger Tofu , also from Vw/aV, which was baking in the oven the last time I wrote. The recipe went very well and it smelled great. The triangles were adorable. However, I made two mistakes. First, I used yellow pepper instead of red. The flavor I am sure was the same, but the color - too much yellow!! I was gagging with yellow, and I usually love the color. The red pepper the recipe called for would have been a nice contrast. I pressed the tofu good and long (see my previous past on how to do this with ease!) However, I didn't have time to marinate it as long as I wanted, so I don't think that the flavors soaked up enough. But no, that wasn't my second mistake. My second error was that.... I disliked it from the first bite! I really, really wanted to like it. I wanted to love it. I love tofu. I love mango. I love Isa's books and her writing makes me cackle out loud! But I just couldn't take the sweetness of this meal! I was so disappointed, because I'd wanted to make this for soooo long. And, it made so much (see next photo!).

However, because it made so much, and my husband really hates fruity main meals, I knew I had to eat leftovers this week. So, the next night I grudgingly sat down with some mixed greens, some corn and bean salad and the mango-ginger tofu.... cold. And.... IT WAS AWESOME!! It was 100 times better cold than hot. I couldn't believe it. The sweetness was calmed down greatly by being chilled and it was so delicious. So, I guess the story ends like this - "Give every meal a second chance!" Read on to see what else I cooked up this week....

Here is a meal that also needs a second chance. Mussaka (I served it on a bed of bulgur, with fresh mint on top. Actually, this is my husband's plate. I eat low-carb, so I had mussaka with a little buglur on top!). It's another one that I've been dying to make, after Fat Free Vegan's post, my recent purchase of pomegranate molasses, and my many recent trips to the farmers' market. I was a little hesitant to use all the onion, garlic and spices she called for, as I have acid reflux, so I cut them down a bit. Well, I think that was a mistake. The textures and smell were wonderful, but the dish didn't have much bite at all. So, I will have to give this dish a second chance as well - and make it the correct way!

Last, we have a Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad, adapted from a Cooking Light recipe. The fresh corn (can we say farmers' market?) was a thousand times better than canned corn, and was roasted in the oven with a little olive oil. The green onions, tomato and red pepper were also from the market. The black beans weren't called for, but I added them to make the dish more substantial. The dressing is incredibly easy and simple. The dijon mustard blends deliciously with the white balsamic vinegar (the latter of which doesn't stain the dish brown, like the regular balsamic would). This light, tasty summer treat was also enjoyed by my veggie group. Here's to summer and second chances!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Confessions of a Cooking Addict

As we speak, Isa's Mango-Ginger Tofu is baking in the oven, and I'm typing quickly to get this done before it is! I thought that after all the food I made last week, I would be burned out, but then I just spent three hours in the kitchen this afternoon! I am truly a cooking addict, and my feet are killing me but I still love it!

In the first picture, we have leftover BBQ Pomegranate Tofu, also from Isa's book (Vegan with a Vengeance), after an inspirational post on pomegranate molasses by Susan at Fat Free Vegan. I had had the molasses for a while, but hadn't gotten around to using it. It is atop some fresh, raw corn kernels and a mix of salad things I had laying around. I got a new book recently, on raw food, and I realized that I already eat so many things raw! How many of you try raw foods and what things do you try? One of my absolute favorites is raw corn straight from the cob :)

Here is a far shot of the BBQ tofu over the salad. The late summer sun is highlighting it so gracefully. Notice the pretty teacher's apple bowl? A subtle reminder that school will be back in session soon. I have always looked forward to the new school year, despite it meaning the end of my long summer break, because I am usually ready for the routine again! Although I worked my butt off this summer with my graduate school work, I am still crazy enough to be excited again about September. I think that with all the weight off of my shoulders, I feel free again and ready to be inspired by my little charges (I teach Kindergarten!). Also, I know that I have the weekends free now, so I can actually recharge instead of study! It is an indescribable feeling, except to say that once you lose something (like free weekends), you appreciate it even more when you get it back. Sort of like when you get really sick, being healthy again feels like being reborn!

Here is the fresh BBQ Pomegranate Tofu with the extra sauce over some broccoli rabe. The sauce was very sweet - could have used some more spice - but still very good! I am on a tofu kick, I think. I have neglected it for so long!

Here is the Broiled Eggplant with Miso Sauce from Fat Free Vegan's sort of recent blog. I printed it out a while ago and just had to wait for the perfect Farmer's Market trip to get the ingredients!

Here are the Fresh Corn Fritters from Isa's V w/aV book as well, alongside Dilly Beans from a Moosewood cookbook I checked out of the library. The beans were very spicy but somehow I didn't enjoy them because I couldn't taste the freshness of the beans! That was a real shame, too, because the beans were organic from the Farmer's Market (where else?). The fritters, meanwhile, I renamed, "Corn Floppies." Either the recipe sucks, or I suck, which the latter is probably true. My corn fritters burned quickly on the outside, soaked up way too much oil, and were still complete mush on the inside. I think that lowering the heat, using less oil, and adding some cornmeal or more flour to the mixture would have helped. It was too bad they flopped, because the batter with the fresh corn tasted totally amazing! I could have eaten the batter raw ;)

And here are the results of my latest trip to the local farmer's market. Isn't everything just beautiful? Can you imagine laying out slabs of bloody meat or dead-eyed fish the same way?

My mother wanted to know about the different kinds of eggplant, so here is a closeup shot of baby globes (striped, or variegated), and the long, pale purple Japanese variety. Just gorgeous.

Let's end this post on a good note, and quickly, because my Mango-Ginger Tofu is almost done. Here are Isa's Raspberry-Chocolate Chip Blondies, whipped up this afternoon (after some Banana Blueberry Muffins for a new mom!). The blondies will go to my vegetarian group meeting tomorrow. They smelled incredible in the kitchen! Hark - it is the oven timer! Off I go to cook some more!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vacation Vittles

After two months of studying and practicum work, I was ready for a vaca! We took our usual weeklong tour to visit my big sis and both sets of parents. Thus, the long absence from posts on this blog! That doesn't mean, however, that I wasn't eating up a storm! My thoughtful, sweet mother-in-law (no, I'm not sucking up!) copied several recipes from La Dolce Vegan the last time I was visiting her, and secretly prepared three vegan recipes for me! The first picture here is actually Isa's Tempeh Reuben, which I've made before, and which we had planned on making for her! We brought the ingredients and showed her how to make them. It was her first experience ever with tempeh!
Here she is, cooking those bad boys up for us. She has lots of experience with the real reubens!

Here is the homemade apple crisp, also from La Dolce Vegan. It had raisins in it! I just love raisins.... But very different for an apple crisp! You can tell it was good because of how little is left after one day! She also made spinach tofu lasagna and chili from the same cookbook. Both vegan and both out of this world! Now, she says she wants a vegan cookbook to learn more. It was also her first time working with tofu, and she told us funny stories about working with it! I just can't believe that her meaty, hunting state even
had tofu. Yay vegans!

Meanwhile, in my own home state, vegan and vegetarian food abounds. My mother, gone vegetarian over a year ago, thanks to Erik Marcus's book, was ready to prepare Kung Pao Seitan from Robin Robertson's book, The Vegan Planet. Unfortunately, my father has acid reflux disease and can't stand any spice, so the kung pao was.... well, not spicy at all. But at least the homemade seitan (I showed her how, you can see my previous post) was very juicy and tender! My father kept reaching back to snatch pieces from the pot. The sesame asparagus from Vegan with a Vengeance, and the kale with raisins and pine nuts (from a thousand similar recipes) were both decent, though I think I'm burning them out (those two were my idea for side dishes). We got all the ingredients at my favorite store in the world, Whole Foods Market! Every time I visit, we make a special trip there for me to stock up on specialty items, but it is getting less and less exotic for me as my local Ukrop's has more of the items I need! It's pretty funny that my idea of a vacation excursion is a grocery store, but what do you expect from a vegan foodie?

But the first stop of our trip was really my sister's, in Rhode Island. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera on our first meal trip, to Julian's in Providence. Freakin' incredible food, whether or not you eat meat! We had vegan gingerbread pancakes that just melted in my mouth! And, real maple syrup ;) The only kind, of course.

That night, we enjoyed apple martinis (at her home) which I am certain were vegan. We continued on to the Garden Grille in Providence, a bounty of vegan and vegetarian foods that will make anyone drool! I had the sweet potato quesadillas, but unfortunately the vegan cheese just ruined the meal for me. The cheese was greasy and plastic-tasting. Such a shame, since I only get here once every couple of years if I'm lucky!

Speaking of lucky, I did take home a slice of their delicious vegan carrot cake with COCONUT FROSTING... a little on the dry side so it probably wasn't that fresh, but great flavor overall and made up for the quesadillas!

Meanwhile, her non-vegan cats were all saying, "feed us!!"

Here is the Block Island light house that we visited the next day (vegan salad wrap was enjoyed thoroughly and unexpectedly at a take away food stop on the island! Hubby had clam chowder and some fried fish parts - yuck!).

After visiting my mother's and drooling over her Everyday Vegan cookbook that I had been putting off buying, I snatched up my own copy and spent the drive home deciding on my next cooking ventures.

When I returned, I was ready to cook some meals of my own (we also ate out a fair bit). First, I made her pesto sauce, and froze most of it in ice cube trays (I put two tablespoons in each cube spot). This is a great way to save extra pesto without wasting it! The pesto has tofu and pine nuts in it, so it's very heart healthy and protein filled! I kept licking the bowl :)

The pesto sauce was used in the filling for the Thick 'n' Juicy Pesto Portabellas shown here. Unfortunately, the mushrooms at our local grocery store were a little old, so the mushrooms weren't very thick and juicy. But that filling .... oh my! Fresh spinach, marinated artichokes, and that pesto make for a hearty, flavorful stuffing. The breadcrumbs were a little too much, and I had to spritz the tops with olive oil to make them brown. Next time, I'll use less breadcrumbs and mix them with some olive oil for less mess. As you can see, I also used a frozen pesto cube to rub on my grilled corn! On the side, I used the leftover fresh spinach and some grape tomatoes with my own balsamic vinaigrette to round out the meal.
After all that cooking, I was ready to bake! Using a humongous zucchini from my mother-in-law, I made apple zucchini muffins from a Moosewood cookbook (shown here), zucchini bread from La Dolce Vegan (not shown) and ....

Cherry-Almond Muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance (these didn't have any zucchini in them, but I wanted to use some fresh cherries up!). Phew! I think that this is the longest post ever in the history of blogging... or at least in my blog! I hope that this makes up for the lack of blogging these past weeks! Inspired by veggiegirl, I will be stocking my pantry with muffins and things for the upcoming school year. Question of the week: what's your favorite kind of muffin?

Slightly blurry close up of the inside of the cherry-almond muffins. Delish!