Friday, January 16, 2009

Winter Vittles

It's gotten pretty cold here in Virginia. It was a solid 11 degrees when I got up at 5:30 this morning for my usual trip to the gym. Brrrr.... I know that elsewhere in the country, our high of 22 today would be considered downright balmy, so I'll try not to complain too much but honestly, after living below the Mason-Dixon line for about 14 years, my blood has seriously thinned out. And it wasn't that thick to begin with.

But I digress. We're here to talk about food. Good, hearty, VEGAN food. Stuff that fills you and warms you up when temperatures are any kind of cold. Enter the Tuscan White Bean Bread Soup (or something like that) from The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook (see picture above). You can guess that this was my husband's choice of meals last weekend (I'm not a potato or white flour person). You put a piece of bread on the bottom (white bread, of course) and ladle the soup over it. Well, I had some vegan white potato rolls in the freezer, so I played along. Even without the bread, this soup was STELLAR. It was spicy, but not overly so. It wasn't too salty or too watery or too thick. It was JUST RIGHT. And we ate it all up (bookworms out there - where did that come from?). It was so good, we're planning on serving it to our friends (non-vegan, of course) when we host the next monthly potluck. Kicked ass. Four stars ****.

To make up for my husband's choice, as good as it ended up being, I served up Thai Tofu with Pineapple and Veggies, a curried dish from Vegan Express by Nava Atlas. It has pineapple and coconut milk in it, two things my husband despises in a dinner dish. I ended up cubing the tofu instead of slabbing it, to spread out the deliciousness, but everything else I kept the same. It was really good! Not too spicy, not too soupy, lots of veggies and GREAT with brown rice....A strong three stars ***, maybe three and a half. Makes a ton!

Unfortunately, I still suck at making brown rice in the rice cooker. Somehow, it ends up underdone. Maybe I just need to add more water...Hubby nabbed a piece of baby corn (which he loves) and had just put it into his mouth when I mentioned that it had coconut milk on it. He almost spit it out, but finished it and then - lo and behold! - stated that it wasn't that bad! We're working on him, folks.

After two nights, I needed more whole grains to eat with it, so I whipped up this quick cooking barley. It only took about 15 minutes total. I just love the firm, round, nutty texture and flavor of barley! It's such a nice change. And, I had some already in my pantry. Score.

I also cooked up a second batch of Brussels sprouts, this time halving them before roasting, as the recipe calls for. MUCH better! Still not like "popcorn" as Isa suggests, but sooo good. Aforementioned man also found reason to nab some of these and was surprised at how much he liked them! I'm going to make them with cranberries next time :) (He also hates any kind of fruit - dried or otherwise - in his hot meals).

At the last post, I forgot that I promised to state the cost of each meal, to try to show how cheap vegan eating can be (or at least to cut down on my food spending). This wasn't the most frugal meal I've ever made. I had the rice, barley, baby carrots, veggie broth, coconut milk (leftover in the freezer - yay!), and frozen peas, but we had to purchase the tofu, bell pepper, canned baby corn, and cilantro (for the main meal). Total cost? About $7 bucks. Not bad for a week's worth of meals!

The other meal I made this week was from Vegan A Go-Go! I didn't post a pic because I couldn't get a good shot. It was Kathleen's Mom's Tortilla Chip Soup. I had all the ingredients on hand for this one, including some tomato paste, green chilies, and corn in the freezer, black beans, veggie stock, garlic, diced tomatoes, and of course all the spices in the cupboard. I even had tortilla chips leftover from a recent Sierra Club meeting to go on the bottom of each bowl (not necessary, but a neat twist!). The only thing I had to buy was one bell pepper. Total cost for this big pot o' soup? $1. Now tell me you can make some meat dish for less. Oh, I guess you could get McDonald's crap food for a buck a piece, but that's only one meal!! Not a week's worth of lunches :) However, the soup was a little disappointing. Kind of like black bean salsa, warmed up. Two and a half stars, maybe ** 1/2*.

Sort of food was so cold this morning, that the peel left from my morning banana (the one I eat on the way to the gym and leave on my car floor so I can bring it home to compost it) actually FROZE after only an hour and a half in the car, waiting for me. It was so cool. I could pick it up and it stuck straight out like a piece of cardboard. Once I got it back into the house, it immediately started to soften back up, but you get the idea. Wooh. This weekend's menu includes a Chickpea Spelt Soup (lots of pantry foods!), a White Pizza, and Sweet Potato-Black Bean Quesadillas! Stay warm, everyone!


VeggieGirl said...


Stay warm, for sure!!

Courtney said...

Everything looks so good! I am sorry the soup wasn't great, though.

It was negative 20 here (air temp) last week one morning...I won't even mention the wind chill! I go to the gym in the mornings too, and I had some clementines in the car to take to work with me after I worked out.
They froze into solid little orange balls while I was in the gym! They took quite a while to thaw out so I could eat them...