Archive for the ‘Fat Free Vegan’ Category

Success! And…It Begins

May 2, 2010

First, let’s get the food out of the way.  I made Susan V’s tofu omelette for one for, like, the 6th time and I finally, FINALLY got an omelette!!!  Made my day!  I added twice as much corn starch as the recipe calls for and a little less milk.  I also left the temperature on med-high for a bit longer.  You can’t see from my super cool picture, but there are fresh shiitake mushrooms inside this baby.

Look at that color!

 I had a can of black beans and some bananas in the freezer, so I experimented with Happy Herbivore’s low-fat black bean brownies.  Tasty and different, but I would rename them cocoa bars or something other than ‘brownie’ because they are not remotely similar.  This is a horrible picture, but if you go to Happy Herbivore, you can get a better view.  And no, they really, truly DO NOT taste like beans!

Finally, these were just too cute not to take a picture of.  Baby summer squash from the farmers’ market, roasted with onions.  Awww.

For Mother’s Day weekend I will be meeting my parents and little brother in Wrightsville Beach, outside Wilmington, NC.  I’ll be packing some fruit and nut bars, originally from Vegan Lunchbox, which are my traveling staple.  I use whole wheat flour instead of spelt and mix up the type of nuts and dried fruit, but I love these suckers.  The only downside is that they need to be refrigerated.  Suffice it to say, I don’t share well when I have my fruit and nut bars.  My brother has also requested ANOTHER Joy of Vegan Baking bundt cake.  I suppose the Orange-Blueberry Bundt Cake has become a stand-by (although I use lemon, not orange, so the name is misleading)…stick with what you know is good!  This will be the first time I’m putting it in muffin form, for easier transportation and delivery.  To my mouth.

My mother-in-law called me this week to chat.  This is unusual.  She’s a lovely lady, but one question has stuck with me and I can’t shake it: “How about you, are you healthy?  Are you getting all your vitamins and protein?”  Mind you, this was a totally random question.  Just so you know, I did my yearly bloodwork this week, and I’m getting ALL my vit-a-mins, thank you very much!  Good on B12, iron, calcium, low cholesterol…I’m a vivacious vegetarian!  Nanny nanny boo boo.  Ok, that was childish and uncalled for, but I feel contrary when I get peculiar questions like that.  And I’m still not sure what she was insinuating or what was really motivating this question, but I have my suspicions. 

So, big news for the week: I’m moving from Fredericksburg, VA to Texas!  Hopefully within the next month-ish, somewhere in the Ft. Hood area.  I’ve already joined Vegans Rock Austin and you can see I’ve added Sugar-Skull’s helpful Austin blog to my daily reading list in anticipation.  I read in the VRA forum some chick from LA complaining about what a vegan back-water Austin is since there are only 8-10 vegetarian restaurants.  Are you kidding me??  8-10 ALL VEGETARIAN restaurants, plus the flagship Whole Foods–Mecca!  Unfortunately, we will be outside Austin, but I hope to find a happy medium between the world of the U.S. Army and my home with tree-hugging crunchy granola-eating hippies.

Am I scared?  Terrified.  I’ve found so much to love about Fredericksburg and I’ve never been to Texas before.  But in the 9 years I have been with my husband (married almost 7 months), we have never lived in the same zip code together before and now is our chance to see if we really like each other.  Huh, guess we should have decided that BEFORE we put on the rings!  We met in high school, but even then lived in different towns.  So not only am I moving to a new time zone, not only am I facing imminent unemployment for the first time in 11 years, and not only am I faced with packing an entire house up by myself, but I also have to learn the habits and foibles of my dear husband.  Excited, but a little skeered!

So for the next few weeks, food posts will slow down considerably as I eat my way through my freezer of Mom soup and transition to Central Standard Time.  Wish me luck, I’ll check in occasionally.  Any tips on living in the Ft. Hood area or how to properly enjoy Austin are always welcome!  Oh boy, vegan Mexican food!  Happy happy joy joy!

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Booksale Mayhem and the Weekend in Review

April 18, 2010

On Friday evening I went to the Central Rappahannock Library’s booksale preview soiree.  I arrived on the dot at 7PM and the line was out the door.  At first, it was quite congenial–folks my age, retirees, parents with kids, all gathered to peruse and enjoy books.  However, chaos followed.  There were folks with dolleys, huge plastic tubs, handheld ISBN scanning devices, crazy people with Mom jeans, men with scary facial hair, women with skin that had possibly never seen the light of day, and old women who used their substantial girth to impede all traffic past them.  It was  a dorkfest.  And yes, I was there and realize that, by extension, I am a dork.  I only found a few books, nothing spectacular, and when I started getting the “ExCUSE me” tone, I knew it was time to leave.  So I hightailed it upstairs and helped myself to a plastic cup of cabernet sauvignon, put together a goodie plate with baked goods from the volunteers, and walked home. 

Speaking of books, one of my current reads is Jane’s Fame about how Jane Austen became one of the greatest authors of all time.  In honor of her, I’m watching the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as the hunka hunka Mr. Darcy.  I think the first time I watched it, I must have been way too young, because now it has me in stitches.  And even though I’m a happily married woman, I’d leave my husband for Mr. Darcy.  I guess that makes me a statistic.

So, some of my recent eats and treats.  I don’t pretend they’re pretty, but they were pretty good:

Orange Cauliflower With Curry Sauce

From Moosewood Low Fat Favorites, subbing silken tofu for the yogurt.  I like spicy, so I think I tripled the cayenne, belatedly realizing that the cayenne I’ve had for 2-3 years is still quite potent.  Next, Fat Free Vegan’s Omelette for One.  I love this omelette, but although I’ve made it several times, it never ever ever turns out as an omelette.  Why???  Am I not spreading it thin enough???  Is it because I just guestimate the TB of cornstarch???  The bottom is a lovely golden brown, but when I go to fold it over, it breaks and when I leave it alone, the top never cooks all the way.  Oh well, still yummy in MY tummy.  This one has swiss chard with onions.

Another from Susan at Fat Free Vegan.  Substituted thyme for ajwain and added chopped spinach.  This was a make-ahead for this week’s lunches.  Dal is one of those dishes that improves as a leftover.

The piece de resistance!  East Coast Coffee Cake from Vegan Brunch.  I don’t own it, but–sneaky sneaky–copied some intriguing recipes from the library’s copy.  I did a double-whammy, adding blueberries AND raspberry jam swirls.  Next time, I would bake it a tad bit longer and add more raspberry, but it was moist and delish.  I made the coffee cake because 1) I enjoy baking, 2) I’m trying to ‘eat down’ my pantry and freezer, and 3) I was meeting up with my friend Drew for lunch today.  Drew is a super duper secret squirrel and now that he’s moved to DC, I dont see him as often.  We met at Eileen’s, where I discovered, to my glee, that they now do lettuce wrap sandwiches.  Unfortunately, no hummus or bean spreads, but the very nice gentleman behind the counter let me know they did have avocado.  I felt kinda like a rabbit, with my sprouts and leaves, but a happy rabbit.

Part of My Bday Present From Kat--Cake Doneness Tester Thingy

And finally, what I am grateful for today–bananas, mangoes, and apples.  I eat ’em everyday.  Interesting sidenote: I did not eat bananas AT ALL until I was 25 and now I can’t live without them.  In fact, when I was little, I would flush my bananas down the toilet and my parents didn’t catch on for years until the potty finally backed up and the plunger brought up my nanner.  In fact, I was at Giant Grocery at 6AM the day the big snowstorm was supposed to hit, raiding their stock of bananas to ride me through.  On that note, what did you abhor as a kid and now you can’t get enough of?  Or, what did you like then and won’t eat now?  I can think of plenty of things I loved as a kid–Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, sausage gravy, Fritos, butter, MEAT–that I wont eat now because I know it’s the devil, but nothing comes to immediately to mind as something I just don’t like the taste/texture of.

Pyramid of Gloriousness

Sayonara Sunday.

Get In My Belly

April 2, 2010

It’s the end of a long week.  I had a glorious dinner, even if it was slurped down too quickly.  I’ll take more time to enjoy the leftovers.  For now, I will simply post my dinner pictures.  And then I will go plop on the couch and zone out. 

Simple Roasted Fennel, Butternut Squash, Onion, Parsnips, and Garlic

Spaghetti Squash Stir Fry With Peanut Sauce

Peanut Sauce derived from this recipe: http://fatfreevegan.com/blog/2010/02/25/peanut-sauce/.  I replaced the lime juice with rice vinegar and left out the red pepper flakes cause I had a spicy lunch and (gasp) wasn’t feeling it.

Stir Fry and Foil Pack Sprouts

My favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts, originating from a Hungry Girl post.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray square of tinfoil with olive oil.  Trim and slice sprouts and put on foil.  Add 3 TB or more chopped onion, 1TB or more minced or chopped garlic, some kosher salt, about 1 tsp rosemary.  Light spray of olive oil on top.  Add another sheet of tinfoil and crimp up all 4 edges.  Voila!!!!!!  Cook ~30 minutes to get ’em really soft, less if they’re small sprouts.

4 weeks until the Fredericksburg 5 Mile/Spotsylvania Farmers’ Market opens!!!  The Hurkamp Park one may be operational now, but I was so disappointed and disgusted last spring when the few vegetable vendors out this early were trying to pawn off Florida hothouse tomatoes.  Thanks, but I can get those at the grocery store.

A Low-Key Weekend

March 28, 2010

This weekend was devoted to spring cleaning and trying to prepare as many meals ahead of time as possible in order to free up my evenings.  I also found time to begin watching the BBC Scotland series Hamish Macbeth, which was recommended by a coworker.  It’s quirky, hard to understand, and yet, I’m kinda hooked.  Seriously, I think I’m missing a good third of what the characters say, given their thick Scottish burrs.

Baby Bok Choy

I haven’t used bok choy much because I didn’t really know what to do with it, other than saute it and slap some soy sauce on it, but thanks again to this website for providing me with a new and extremely easy bok choy cooking method: http://sweetbeetandgreenbean.net/?s=bok+choy.  Perfectly wilted leaves, and the body still had some crunch. 

PB and J Cookies

I had a hankering for some peanut butter and I’m doing my best to incorporate more recipes from cookbooks I own into my weekly rotation, so I made these PB&J thumbprint cookies from The Vegan Table.  Oh yes, of course I used my homemade peanut butter : )  You can read Chay’s review here: http://pinkvegan.wordpress.com/category/colleen-patrick-goudreau/peanut-butter-jelly-cookies/.  I liked ’em, but didn’t love ’em.  I made these with strawberry jelly and set aside one with raspberry jelly.  Next time, use the raspberry.  Or chocolate!!!!!!  I didn’t have to add any extra liquid or any other modifications.

Messa' Collards

Crockpot collards from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.   I like the liquid smoke option rather than the vinegar option as the final addition.  One note–push those collards down in the pot as the space becomes available, otherwise they stick to the sides and burn and who wants to waste perfectly good collards?  These collards are great as leftovers and will be the perfect accompaniement to my tofu/bell pepper/zucchini roast with Susan’s Golden Mustard BBQ sauce (http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/08/south-carolina-golden-mustard-barbecue.html). 

And so, the week begins again.  It’s raining outside with possible thunderstorms this evening.  I suppose it’s “out like a lion”, but we’ve been lucky so far.  After such a hard winter, I welcome the rain since it means flowers and vegetables and good good things!  But I hate worms.

A Compendium of Random Thoughts

March 26, 2010

Properly Dressed with Chili Sauce

Hot and Sour Shiratake Noodles with Tofu

Howdy!  This week has been a little all over the place.  What follows will probably closely resemble a stream of conciousness!  First, food:  Up above, you will see a meal taken from Fat Free Vegan http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/05/hot-and-sour-shirataki-noodles-with.html.  I used the lazy girl’s pre-packaged coleslaw mix instead of Napa cabbage and added some dried shiitake mushrooms.  Quick and easy!  This week’s experimental vegetable was the sunchoke, aka Jerusalem artichoke.  This link intrigued me: http://sweetbeetandgreenbean.net/2010/01/22/sunchokes-roasted-with-lavender-and-garlic/.  I didn’t use lavender, but the sunchokes did, in fact, have an earthy potato-like taste.  I liked ’em even better as re-heated leftovers.  I took photos, but they look like strange fungi and are simply NOT photogenic.  Just click on the link.  Up next…fennel!  And may we all do a little jig because champagne mango season is finally upon us? 

In other news, I went to another “Great Lives” lecture at the University of Mary Washington.  This week author Caroline Weber spoke about her book Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution.  She was an extremely engaging speaker.  I read the book and I’ve read many other works on Marie Antoinette, but I always love learning something new and this lecture sent me home with some new, juicy tidbits!  For instance, the reason 4,000+ peasants marched on Versailles prior to the Revolution, convinced that Marie Antoinette was personally hoarding flour from the starving masses, was because she was the icon of the massive 2+ foot hair pompadour, which was held together with massive amounts of…flour paste!  I’ve always just kind of passed over the reasoning behind why they would hold her responsible, but here’s just one more example of how fashion and personal taste, for a French royal, could truly have political consequences.

From flour to cauliflower.  Remember my previous post where I discovered the textile artist Kaffe Fassett while reading Margaret Drabble’s memoir??  Well, in late August my husband and I are planning a pre-deployment road trip from TX through the Southwest, up the coast of California.  I started poking around Monterey sites online and my co-worker Bonnie went into ecstasies about Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur.  I pull up their website and who do you think sells her works at the gift shop??  Kaffe Fassett!  What a peculiar, roundabout coincidence.  I went to San Diego when I was 3 and my husband lived in Monterey when he was in elementary school, but otherwise the whole western part of the U.S. is uncharted territory.  I think we’ll stay in hotels on our sojourn through the NM and AZ deserts, but perhaps try to camp in the numerous national and state parks in Cali.  Should be about 60 hours roundtrip, if we drove all the way through, but we’ll stop and smell the air and enjoy the sites, naturally : )  Maybe go to a rest stop occasionally.  Eat.  Sleep.  You know.

I finally saw Food Inc. and enjoyed it.  Just reaffirmed my committment to knowing what I’m putting into my body and creating a healthy, natural environment for myself and my husband, as much as possible.  I suppose that’s the nurturer.  My husband was more intrigued by the economic implications of a food system monopolized by a few industrial corporations.  He is an omnivore and does not actively shop for organic foods, but if all-natural meats are available, that’s what he’ll choose.  He’s just somewhat convinced that organic eating is too cost-prohibitive.  And, I can say, it just hasn’t been that important to him, but maybe now…

Happy Friday.

The Top 3 Questions I Get Asked

March 14, 2010

Lunch for my abbreviated work week: North-South Chili from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health.  I replaced the kidney beans with pinto beans (’cause I like ’em), but otherwise stayed faithful to the original.  Next time, the only modification I will make is to add more spices!  I’m not sure where the “North” comes from, but you can certainly see the “South” portion, chock full of sweet potatoes, okra, and bell pepper goodness.  The spices were reminiscent of gumbo.  I enjoy taking soups for lunch because 1) my office is chilly and, duh, soup is warming and 2) soup is filling without costing you a lot of calories.

Moosewood Restaurant's North-South Chili

Yes, I pretty much rely on other peoples’ recipes, whether I find them online or in cookbooks.  And, I confess, I typically choose recipes that contain nutritional information.  That information could be completely arbitrary, but I feel better with a reference point (so I have some quirks, I admit!).  I have 3 cookbooks that are my go-to for meals: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Vegan Table, and 2 Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks, Cooking for Health and Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.  The Moosewood cookbooks are not totally vegan, but are easily adjusted.  As you may have noticed, I also use Colleen’s Joy of Vegan Baking a good bit and I’m learning my way around Robin Robertson’s Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  My favorite websites for recipes are listed over to the right.

I’m constantly surprised by how many people know what “vegan” means…and also how FEW people know what “vegan” means.  “So you don’t eat eggs?”  Well, last time I checked, eggs DO come from an animal and I try NOT to eat animal products, so….  The top 3 questions or comments I normally get are (and I know this is a general vegetarian favorite): “Where do you get your protein?”, “Don’t you ever crave a big, juicy hamburger?”, and “That seems very restrictive”.  Only the protein question bothers me.  Let’s be clear.  Given my height and weight, I need 44 g of protein a day.  1 serving of tofu has 40 g.  I think I’ll make it.  Not to mention that too much protein is what most Americans suffer from, resulting in kidney issues and osteoporosis.  But I digress.  Actually, no, I don’t ‘miss’ any meat dish.  And if I did, I could eat it, I just choose not to!  I really and truly do not have any cravings for meat.  In fact, when I came back from Iraq and went 100% vegetarian, my first stop was the grocery store, where I spent $70 on 3-days worth of fresh vegetables and fruits!  Finally, I would posit that eat a much greater variety of foods than most ominvores.  I didn’t know what quinoa or bulgur or winter squash or kale looked like until I became vegetarian, and now these items are kitchen staples. 

Anyways, I actually enjoy and appreciate questions and comments because it gives me a chance to think through my reasoning and most people are just genuinely curious.  I was the same way before I transitioned!  I don’t mean to sound smug or pretentious or know-it-all-ish, so please forgive me if this came across as a soapbox diatribe.

On a completely different subject, I’m off to enjoy the rest of a rainy Sunday with Season 3 of The Tudors.  Fantastic historical soap opera if you take it for what it is–soft-core porn loosely based on history.  I leave you with this photo of the world’s hardiest pansies.  I have not watered or fertilized these suckers since I planted them in September.  They’ve had 2+ feet of snow on top of them, but look, they’re still going strong! 

Still Going Strong!

Oh, and one final question.  KitchenAid mixers?  Worth the investment?  How are they better than a hand mixer?

Richmond, Discovered (sort of)

February 28, 2010

First, I’d like to provide a link to Pink Vegan’s blog: http://pinkvegan.wordpress.com/.  Like “Julie and Julia”, Chay is working her way through cookbooks, recipe by recipe, but she’s using one of my favorites, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s “Vegan Table”.  I’m always happy to have someone else’s recipe review (and photos) before attempting it on my own!  I also enjoy reading the reviews of her 2 little girls and husband for entertainment. 

This weekend my dear friend and I discovered Richmond.  I regret that I have not visited here soon–it was so much easier to get to than D.C., so much less stressful, and just cute!  We started by visiting Agecroft Hall (http://www.agecrofthall.com/), which is an actual Tudor-period manor house that was purchased in auction in 1926, disassembled, and shipped over to Richmond.  Although less than 50% of the original manor survives, that’s still quite a feat and the house today is furnished with time-period pieces.  I spotted a few snowdrops around the house, but would love to go back in April for Garden Week.

Beautiful detail of timber-work on exterior

Next, we visited Carytown and had lunch at Weezie’s Kitchen http://www.weezieskitchen.com/, which was loud, vibrant, and busy.  I enjoyed a delicious veggie wrap stuffed with steamed broccoli, onions, squash and lettuce.  There weren’t a ton of vegan options on the menu, but it was a fun place to enjoy and I especially liked playing ‘spot the tatoos’ on all the waitresses.  It’d been half a year since I got to stock up at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, so that was our final portion of the day.  I found some flavors of ( http://www.primalspiritfoods.com/) Primal Strips jerky that I hadn’t tried yet.  These are handy to have when I travel since I need a snack pretty much every 2 hours.  Couldn’t find Clif Nectar bars…I think they’ve stopped making them?  I also stocked up on different flavors of hummus, organic Pink Lady apples, trail mixes, and dried fruits.  I know I’m spoiled with Wegman’s, but I need a little diversity every now and then! 

In the evening, we watched “Possession”, based on the Booker Award-winning novel by A.S. Byatt and tried out India Queen, Fredericksburg’s 2nd and newest Indian joint.  I enjoyed Vegetable Kholpuri and my pal had the Aloo Ghobi, with chapati on the side.  I think Indian is one of those meals that just improves the next day.  I appreciated that when I ordered “hot”, my meal was actually incredibly spicy and not “American hot”, but I might tone it down a notch next time so I can concentrate more on the flavors and less on my dripping nose!

For our girly breakfasts, I prepared Susan’s banana-date-walnut muffins from Fat Free Vegan again, along with her Swiss chard frittata (http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/06/savory-swiss-chard-pie.html), subbing spinach for the chard.  We also had Fresh Winter Fruit Salad from Lindsay at Happy Herbivore’s recent piece in “Vegetarian Times” (http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/11164?section=).  A most satisfying and healthy breakfast of champions!

Fresh Winter Fruit Salad from Vegetarian Times Jan/Feb

And now, the weekend draws to a close, as always, with loads of laundry, cleaning, and preparing meals for my lunches this week.  The forecast says we might have snow on Tuesday or Wednesday and I’m just praying that it snows at my office, but not here in Fredericksburg.  These past two mornings I was awoken by chirping birds, so I’m sure that spring WILL come, but I can hardly bear any more cold weather…

I’ll leave with photos from another Happy Herbivore meal, perfectly seasonal and conducive to cold nights that require soup (http://www.happyherbivore.com/recipe/spaghetti-soup/)

Dandelion Greens--no way to make them prettier

Think happy thoughts

February 12, 2010

Another snow day, not that I’m complaining.  At noon, I ventured out and went to the gym and Wegman’s and the gas station.  The main roads were fine, if slushy.  I nearly cried when there wasn’t a single banana to be found at Wegman’s, but I checked back, just to be sure, before going to the cashier and HALLELUJAH they had re-stocked!  Crisis averted. 

This morning I made Susan’s fat-free banana date walnut bread for my husband’s impending visit http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/01/banana-date-walnut-muffins.html.  I cannot tell you how good it smelled coming out of the oven.  I also went ahead and made a crockpot BBQ chili recipe that my mom cut out for me from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  This way I can spend less time in the kitchen and I think chili’s and stews taste better after a few days anyways.  I’m really not a big fan of chili, but this is what my husband asked for and man, I’m glad he did.  See how hearty it looks?  It’s my first time using soy crumbles.  I wont make a habit of it because I prefer to limit processed foods, but they really add great texture reminiscent of ground beef.  But no cow taste.  I don’t understand vegans/vegetarians who buy mock meats attempting to replicate meat products.  I mean, yes, there are smells and textures that I miss, but if I want a chicken nugget, gosh darnnit, why not just get one?

Fat-free vegan banana date walnut loaf

AJC BBQ Chili--the picture does not do it justice

 Side note: I was so pleased when my husband confessed that he ate all the spice cookies I sent him for breakfast this morning because they were just that good.  Coming from someone who eats to live, this is a huge compliment.  And my little brother asked for the recipe.  http://havecakewilltravel.com/2008/04/07/spice-cookies/

My mom read the mother/daughter Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor book “Traveling With Pomegranates” and asked me to read it.  She says she wished she had had a highlighter while she was reading it.  So far I find them both a little verbose and melodramatic, but I am getting into it.  I’m also really curious what my mom would have highlighted and I find myself reading it through her eyes and my own.

My excitement of the day (besides the bananas) was the delivery of a package from my parents.  They made a trip to the Dekalb Farmers’ Market and sent me Sumatran coffee, dried shiitake mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, Turkish figs, Brazil nuts, a ginormous thumbprint cookie, date pecan bread, and coupons.  Jackpot!  I saved $2 on my toilet paper thanks to those coupons.  They also included Valentine’s Day cards for both me and my husband.  Mom said that I could have saved the box and opened it with him there, but I don’t share very well.  I totally hid my cookie. 

I just discovered that Atlanta is expecting 1-3” of snow tomorrow and my husband’s flight is in jeopardy.  With 2+ feet on the ground here in VA, I don’t know what to say.  Fingers crossed…it’s been a month since we last saw each other.  Big plans for the weekend, including a trip to D.C. and reservations at Oyamel  http://www.oyamel.com/.  Please send us happy thoughts.  We can all use good karma, right?  And I want someone to appreciate my freshly scrubbed toilet!

Might be a few days until my next post, but I hope I remember my camera and will attempt to be ‘that dork’ taking pictures of her plate in random food joints.