Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Very Vegan New Year

Another vegan year has happily slipped by and despite many personal (and political) issues, it turned out to be one of the best yet. With a new job and a new outlook, 2008 really flew by! As usual, I like to reflect on the past year's resolutions and see how I did.

In 2007, I was out to eat more greens, start a garden, start composting and get more involved in my local Veg and Sierra Clubs. Two years later, I am still chomping on kale, expanding my garden, working hard with the clubs AND getting a second composter! Yay and thank you, Mum and Dad :) One unexpected goal was leafletting for the first time (which I did before Thanksgiving - not sure if I posted about it, but how AWESOME it felt - to be handing out vegan info during one of the most cruel holidays of the year!). I also attended my first Animal Rights Conference and did my first (two!) vegan presentations.

Last year, I resolved to take better care of myself (and I did!) but in the vegan realm, I vowed to try more difficult, even daunting recipes. The results? Sometimes, pictures speak for themselves!

Roasted Cauliflower (with olives) - I never knew cauliflower could have so much flavor!

Roasted chestnuts - a pain to peel but soooo worth it!

Spanikopita - lots of folding = lots of yumminess!

Sushi - no raw fish here - sushi means sweet bite of rice!

Rice pudding - basmati here

A pot pie without chicken??? Yes, and it was good, too!

A cheesecake to die for!

Phyllo dough isn't that scary!

Roasted beets - one more veggie I now LOVE!

Injera made from teff flour

The wat that goes with the injera

Faustess Cupcakes - many steps but worth every one!

Raw food is just rawsome!


No animal was harmed in the making of these seitan ribz...

Mini muffins aren't any harder to make than regular ones! And, they're perfectly bite-sized :)

The only recipe that I promised to try that I didn't get to, were the samosas. We went out for Indian food on New Year's eve again (becoming something of a tradition!) so I just ordered one there and called it a year!

So, what's up in 2009 for this vegan librarian? Well, I think in this economy I could stand to pinch a few pennies when it comes to my food budget. So, I resolve to make more meals that use up my pantry items (like I've actually been trying to do these past few months) and require fewer esoteric (or expensive) ingredients. I'll try to post the estimated cost of each recipe, and help show the rest of the world just how cheap and easy we vegans are! ;) My second major resolution is to be a better vegan. Sounds silly, but it's hard to be completely vegan in this society, with animal products hidden in so many things. I'm on a mission to veganize my makeup (yes, cow urine in a lot of it) and hair products. Of course, I will also continue to make recipes that "scare me," (samosas, cinnamon rolls/buns, Twinkies, roasted brussel sprouts, waffles) as well as eat plenty of greens, raw foods and do more gluten-free baking! Happy New Year, everyone!!! (P.S. - I just posted yesterday as well, so make sure to check it out - the Best of 2008!)

The Best of 2008

It's been a great year! But the best part was all the awesome vegan food I got to eat and share with others. Here are the "Best of 2008," according to moi....(I made so many recipes - it was hard to choose! These are all ones I would "make again," which is a big compliment coming from my kitchen....) ...in no particular order.

Pumpkin Ziti Bake w/ Carmelized Onions, from Veganomicon

Sweet and Sour Tempeh, from Vegan World Fusion Cuisine

Swallow-it-all Banana Balls, from The Everyday Vegan

Thai Chik-Un Pizza, from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan (ED&BV)

The Bliss of Krishna Tropical Rice Pudding (otherwise known as rice pudding), from the Vegan Fusion World Cuisine

Mediterranean Pressed Picnic Sandwich, from Vegatarian Times magazine

PB-Chocolate No Bakes, from The Joy of Vegan Baking

Peanut Butter Bombs from My Sweet Vegan

Birthday Cheesecake from Food Snobbery is My Hobbery

Olive-Oregano Tofu Bake, from Dreena on the Food Network Site

Mushroom Cashew Patties, from Veg News magazine

Jam-Print Cookies from ED&BV

Indian Wraps, from the Candle Cafe Cookbook

Inari sushi pockets (recipe from can)

Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Cake, with coconut frosting, from Vegan with a Vengeance

Fudgy-Wudgy Blueberry Brownies, from Veganomicon

Ethiopian Wat w/ Injera, from Veg News

Faustess Cupcakes, from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (for hubby's b'day)

Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookie Bark (my coconut version), from the Big Fat Cookies cookbook

Cinnamon Donut Holes, from Vegan A G0-Go.

Cauliflower Red Lentil Soup, from Vegan A Go-Go

Caramelized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts from Veganomicon

Delightful Banana Nut Muffin recipe from my new (also mini) cookbook, Vegan A Go-Go

Grilled Chreese sandwich, from Animal Rights Conference in D.C.

Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing , from Vegetarian Times

Cranberry Sauce, from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan

Grilled Yuca Tortillas from Veganomicon

I haven't counted up how many recipes I made in total this year, but I figure I've been blogging and counting recipes for about three years and I've made 500 NEW recipes total, so you go do the math and I'm going to get ready for New Year's! See you in 2009!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Treats for Your Elves

Are there some real "elves" in your life? People who work hard, are almost always cheerful, and just plain make your life (at work or elsewhere) a joy? Treat them to this Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookie Bark! This was probably my first attempt at veganizing a dessert ever and much to my delight, it turned out good enough to bring to my own "elves" at the library where I work AND earned rave reviews!

I got the recipe from a book called Big Fat Cookies. What a kick-ass title, huh?! I saw the picture next to this recipe and thought - I'm going to make that! The only thing I had to do to "veganize" it, was use non-dairy butter in lieu of the dairy butter and non-dairy chips in lieu of dairy-based ones. A cinch!

The recipe calls for making a batch of chocolate cookie batter, with chocolate chips mixed in. You spread the dough out in two large "rectangles" on two separate cookie sheets. When the cookie parts are done, you sprinkle the tops with chocolate chips (more chocolate! - ummm!). After these begin to melt (about 5 minutes), you spread them around to create a thin layer of melted chocolate (drooling yet?). Last, you sprinkle crushed candy cane pieces on top and let it cool for a while. You just break it up into pieces when you're done!

This version was fantastic, but, like I am wont to do, I didn't read the directions completely, and put the entire amount of candy canes on one of the two batches of cooked cookie batter. What to do with the naked one? My first thought was to sprinkle chopped walnuts on top, but as I perused my baking cupboard, a brainstorm hit. What's the most amazing food in the world? Coconut, of course! I know that there are just as many people who can't stand the stuff as who love it, but being a coconut hound myself, I dug out a bag of sweetened coconut (not the unsweetened kind) and sprinkled some on top of the second batch of cookie.
The results? Amazing!! I let my husband have a bite of each (they were for work, after all!) and he said he couldn't decide which one he liked more!!! This is incredible coming from him, because he really loves peppermint and chocolate. He likes coconut fine, but is by no means as obsessed by it as I am. Co-workers confirmed the dilemma. In fact, one person said the coconut one reminded her of a Mounds bar! This recipe is really pretty simple, and makes a ton, so it's great for bringing to your elves at work ;) Four stars for both recipes ****.

Mmmmm......coconut......and chocolate....


With hubby out of town for a couple of days, it was time to go pick up his Christmas present and hide it in the garage. I drove my little Beetle up to the merchandise pick up and they came out with....a three piece tool box. They took one look at my car and laughed. I said, "Try it." And lookee-here. It all fit. Of course, I was lucky to only have to drive a half mile or so home, but this just goes to show that you don't need an SUV or truck to get by.

With that chore done, I settled into some leftovers from the week: Vegetable Masala from the latest Veg Times magazine issue. It was pretty good! I thought it would be way too spicy, but it was just perfect. I subbed sweet potatoes for the plain ones, because I had them on hand (this was a great recipe to use up the leftover cauliflower from Cauliflower Red Lentil Soup I made again this week - it is so good!). But I think it would have been better with the plain ones. It was almost a little too sweet! Three stars ***.

When I was nourished, I set about wrapping all the Christmas presents (I complain that I do it all - husband hates to wrap - but honestly, I just love it! I love picking the perfect ribbon and making my own gift tags from old card fronts). I wheeled the gift wrap station in from the garage (we can't fit a car in there, by the way - too much crap like this!) and my two cats decided that it was the perfect perch. Actually, I was happily surprised today that they didn't get into the paper and ribbon and left me to my own devices (maybe it was the Christmas tunes blasting).

Tomorrow being one of the last days of work before the holidays, I thought I'd treat my co-workers to one last vegan sweet. To start their morning off right, I tried another new recipe: Cinnamon Donut Holes, from Vegan A G0-Go. I didn't have quite enough dough to fill up the pan like the recipe stated, but it worked out just fine. The results? Crispy and cinnamony on the outside, soft and tender and donut-like on the inside. I think these might be my first vegan donuts ever!

If you're having brunch on Christmas morning, these would be perfect to serve to your family. The aroma as they bake will entice them out of bed, if the presents don't first! This'll be it for this blog until after the holiday, but I'm already planning a big New Year's post with a review of the Best and Worst recipes of the year, as well as an assessment of my resolutions! Happy Winter Solstice everyone!