Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Sweet Vegan!

I spent the week baking, it seems, after receiving the newest addition to my cookbook collection: My Sweet Vegan, by Hannah Kaminsky. I was impressed by her beautiful photos and by her talent at such a young age (19!). It also made me feel a little old (for those who know me - don't laugh!).

At any rate, I tackled my first recipe from the book on Monday night, as I prepared to take a sweet treat to my former co-workers at the school where I used to teach. They began their work week on Monday, and the kids go back to school the day after Labor Day. Being back just solidified the knowledge that I had made the right decision to leave. But it was good seeing my friends again and nice to share some vegan treats! I had a little nibble of this Lemon-Lime Sunshine Bundt Cake, and I have to say it was pretty good! I thought it might have been a little underdone in the middle and the glaze was too runny (easily fixed next time by adding more sugar) and maybe I could add some lemon or lime juice to the glaze to give it more of a citrusy tang, as the bite I had didn't blow me away. I don't know what my friends thought of their slices, but I think it earns a three star rating. It was really easy to make, too!

Next up was this Plum-Good Crumb Cake. I have been eating plums and peaches out of hand for several weeks now, and thought I could take a break and put them to another culinary use. This required a few more steps than the above bundt cake, but came together quite beautifully in the pan. However, as you'll see in the photo below, it sunk quite a bit. I think that the cake was a little underdone near the plums, possibly because of the large amount of juice in these particular fruits. Next time, I think I'll use fewer plums and squeeze them out a bit - but they were damn good plums! The crumb topping also called for a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, which I thought made the whole topping (which I usually loooove) really taste salty - not sweet enough. I would leave it out next time or just add a pinch. Of course, I am overly critical of things, especially things I make, because our neighbors loved it (I sent two of them a quarter of the cake) and it was really moist and delish. I think that even if you don't care for plums, you would like this! Three solid stars....
Of course, not all things can be rescued by a second try...

These Black-Bottomed Brownies, also from My Sweet Vegan, are a perfect example. I have only once or twice thrown out an entire dessert, and this was one that ended up in the trash. I just couldn't bare to serve it to even random strangers. The bottom was edible (1 star) but not that great as far as brownies go. The top earned zero stars - not only did it NOT bake well, so it tasted doughy, but the flavor was just - blah. I have an oven thermometer, and I followed each step carefully, but all I can think is that maybe I over beat the mixture. At any rate, I will try all of the other recipes before I tackle this one again - if I do! Blech.
Here is one up close - yech!

Of course, I can't leave you with a bad taste in your mouth (pun intended), so here are a couple more yummy shots. This one of my own recipes - really nothing to it - that we whipped up last night after a big trip to the Farmer's Market. I picked up some red peppers, organic zucchini and yellow summer squash, and we grilled them with olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper on our outdoor grill. Using regular linguine (I'm trying to let my husband "win" more when it comes to shared meals - I would have gone with whole wheat pasta!) and jarred Bertolli pasta sauce (the best!), it really hit the spot, especially with the nooch (nutritional yeast - a complete protein) and fresh basil (from my garden) that I added after this picture. The basil really made the whole dish! It was amazing and comforting and practically fat free :) I also added some raw cashews to bump up the protein (there's protein in veggies, pasta, and the nooch! - yay!). Three and a half stars!

My husband's dish was quite stunning, so I had to add a shot here - even though it has dairy cheese on top. I added a prayer for the cows (smile) (to learn more about why vegans don't eat dairy, go to the Vegan Outreach site).

Another spur-of-the-moment dish also came from the Farmer's Market, as I picked up a bunch of organic beets. You see, I grew up eating beets out of a can. With no other sauces or flavors added, they were quite nasty to my childhood palate. As my New Year's Resolution was to try new foods (cooking and eating), and as a co-worker had been reminiscing about how good roasted beets were, I thought I would give them a try. Following a recipe from the Fat Free Vegan site, I cooked up some lentils (great protein, once again!) and mixed up a fresh salad. Then I roasted the beets on a sheet in the oven, covered with foil, but only for about half the time Susan called for, as they were pretty small beets. I cut and peeled them later with my hands, which probably wasn't very smart, but I don't own plastic gloves and the juice washed off pretty well. I drizzled some balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top. And the taste? Well, I'm a beet convert. Even on their own, roasted beets are great! Kind of like a water chestnut, which was my husband's first impression. Try them (you will like them, you will see! Thanks, Dr. Seuss)! I devoured this salad....Three stars.

And to end this post, a slightly blurry shot of my newest tattoo... I've been planning this one for a's similar to the Vegan Society symbol (if you can't tell, it's a V with two leaves at the top). I chose it to symbolize my decade of commitment to vegetarianism and now veganism, and to remind myself that the pain of this tattoo is nothing compared to the millions of animals that die every year in the food industry. Plus, I can see it every day (not like my others) and it is so elegant. It already feels like a part of me! I think I'll have it touched up with some green ink later on, as the pure black looks a little like I drew on myself with pen - ha, ha! It hurt a bit more than my last one, but it was so quick, it wasn't that bad at all! But the best part? My tattooist said that he was going to start using vegan ink! (I asked after we had begun.) Four million stars for this one ;)


Anna said...

I bought My Sweet Vegan a couple of months ago and I haven't been inspired enough to cook anything from it yet. One day!

Nice tattoo!

VeggieGirl said...

Hooray for My Sweet Vegan, savory eats, and a fun tattoo!! :0)

Anardana said...

Oooh! Love the tattoo! I've thought about getting one quite similar to that. I'll probably wait for my 10-year-anniverary too- 2 more years.

Jillian of Bitchin' Vegan Kitchen said...

Hmm, I have tried two recipes from the book and neither worked. I'm a pretty decent cook so I don't think it was my fault. Don't try the peanut brittle or the party mix bars. Sadness.