Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegan Mofo, Day 22: THE END. Also, my deep dark secret.

So, it's the last day of November! Which means that it's pretty much acceptable to put snowmen on your lawn if you are my neighbor, and it is the last day of this for another year.
I had fun this year, even if I didn't know what I really had to talk about and signed up on a whim. Food seemed to be a good subject, right? Vegans love their food! Lately I have felt like I'm becoming more adventurous in the kitchen and I don't need to stick to a recipe or else DOOM will occur, particularly with raw foods. Though I still love a good cookbook for direction. And thus, my deep dark secret.

My favorite pre-vegan cookbooks were spiral bound (the plaid Better Homes and Gardens, a binder). I hate paperback spines on my cookbooks. I hate holding them open, I hate folding down page corners in case I get lost, and I hate the way the book stands up on the spine like an "M" when I do pin the pages down with cans or something else handy. I can't bring myself to crease a spine and make the book lay flat.

Currently, Veganomicon is the only book by Isa C. Moskowitz I own that has its original backbone. And by backbone I mean spine. And by spine I mean, well that thing books use to hold pages together.
Because the rest of her (& Terry's) books are paperback, and they have been corrupted under my direction, and that's something the book lover in me can't rightly accept. But the busy, OCD part of me that likes her cookbooks to lay flat is overjoyed.
The Vegan Cupcakes and Vegan Cookies books are embarrassed by their black coil treatment and don't wish to be photographed (but the small size of the books means they benefit the most for ease of use).

And the madness doesn't stop at Isa and Terry's tomes. Our most used cookbooks have had the treatment.
This all started when I saw the idea on a knitting blog. It made it so much easier for me to knit while traveling when I didn't have to hold my pattern book open with my feet.
And then I wondered as I lost my place in a cookbook for the ninth time one day, the pages surreptitiously sweeping shut as I turned around, what I was waiting for.
Our most used cookbooks
Sure, I miss my pretty spines, and the bookshelf can be a little tricky to navigate when several books have no indicator of their title (my lazy fault entirely, I should totally tag them somehow). But oh the happiness it has brought me.

I made my husband stand and wait when he took the latest addition to the family up to OfficeMax for binding. Sometimes they will have you drop it off. But I, as you may have noticed, am a little attached to this book right now.
And all it's exciting treasures inside.

Yesterday I mentioned I want to cook everything in this book, and I think that is just what I am going to do. After taking December off to enjoy the holidays with family and recover from this month's posting blitz, I will be back in the new year with pictures, stories, and food, all from Appetite For Reduction. I hope to see you then! Thanks for the mofo love! Be good.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 21: Appetite for Destructing This Bowl Of Food, A Cookbook Addiction

This will go down as the longest title I will ever come up with.
Friday I was a lucky recipient of a certain book.
Immediately we put it to the test.

Green Goddess Dressing? Awesome. Devoured on salad.
Veggie Potpie Stew? Tremendous. Eaten with Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits.

Just glancing through this book, I give it two eager thumbs way up, but don't take my word for it-the table of contents is available to preview on Amazon and I recommend you do so if you are interested. And if you are a gluten free type, as I am striving to be, you may be doubly interested- 97% of the recipes within Appetite For Reduction are gluten free or easily made that way by subbing out such things as soy sauce for wheat free tamari, flour to thicken stews like the above Veggie Potpie with arrowroot, etc.

I truly think that this will be the first cookbook I will try every recipe in. In fact, that is my plan, and my future for this blog. Get excited! More on that tomorrow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Vegan Mofo Day 20: Reese's can kiss my grits...

While I'm certain the food at Mel's Diner was on par with most diners of the day, I don't think they had these.... Nor does Hershey's, in case you're looking.

Wife and I had talked about making these before, but never actually did.  So, finally she says... Lets make them, and so we did.

We started with the Chocolate, a bar each of Green and Black's Organic Dark and Theo's Organic Cherry Almond.   Melt in a double boiler, just until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Turn off the heat but leave the bowl on to keep it warm.  Don't get any water in it or it will seize on you.  If the happens, add some fat to it, like coconut oil to loosen it back up.  it won't be quite as good, but it will still work.

So it's a makeshift double boiler, but it works fine

Next, the filling.  In this case, we opted for almond butter cups, so some homemade almond butter mixed with nooch.  The base recipe can be had here... so you can add your own ideas to it.
Somehow this doesn't SEEM appealing, but it tastes good.
Next, add some cupcake liners to a pan... this to me is the easiest way to make these, and it also gives you those little ridges like on Reese's... you know, if you're into that sort of thing.

You could also use a mini pan, but this one is regular sized...
Pour just enough chocolate into each mold to just coat the bottom, maybe an 1/8 of inch worth.  Then spoon on some of the nut butter mixture. 

Flatten it out a little with the back of the spoon to make it easier to cover and to press it into the chocolate below.

Don't have to press hard...just a tap...

After that, spoon chocolate on the top until the butter mix is covered.  Don't add more than what you need to cover it, otherwise it will be too thick.  Oh, and you'll run out of chocolate and have to melt more.  I mean, not that it's a bad thing to eat more, but if they get too thick, it's a little hard to bite through, especially if you prefer them frozen.

Ready for the freezer... and no the banana was not an ingredient.
Refrigerate these for a couple hours until the chocolate is set, or if you prefer them frozen, they only need about 20 minutes in the freezer to be ready.  Just pull them out of the pan and peel off the paper, and put them in an airtight container and stick them back in the freezer or fridge. Once cold they won't stick together, unless you leave them out too long.  The container is to prevent freezer burn or moisture build up, but if they last long enough for that, you're doing it wrong.

These didn't last long; less than two days in fact, and I only got 2 or 3 of them.  That's OK though, I know where I can get more.

*A note from Rach: I didn't tell the chrisasaurus beforehand, but this recipe is scaled up from Averie's Raw Peanut Butter Cups (with almond butter subbed for peanut butter, obviously).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vegan mofo Day 19: Thanksgiving!

There are ten minutes left to this day and the holiday before it officially becomes "Christmas Season" and Black Friday. But I'm here with today's eats:
Tempeh Shepherdess Pie filling from Veganomicon.
This is the filling-sadly there is no final put together shot with the mashed potatoes. It was devoured by omni and veg alike too quickly! We used chickpeas instead of tempeh and it turned out fantastic.
Chocolate Gluten Freedom Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World
A family member has recently been instructed to be gluten free for health reasons, and mentioned that baked goods were one thing that they missed. We brought these cupcakes which were very well received by the omnivore crowd. They were eaten over the pumpkin and pecan pies also present today.

As for our meal, husband and I needed a simple and portable dish since we were traveling across town to visit family. We prepared the shepard's pie up until the point of baking it in the oven and then drove over, finally popping it into an oven about 40 minutes later. This was also made gluten free, as we replaced the flour in the recipe with arrowroot in the gravy. It came out amazing, leaving me to wonder: why have I never tried shepard's pie before?

I am thankful for many things today, one being the path of veganism which has led me to try new things.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 18: Key Lime Pie!

My husband is an anti fruit sort of person. He swears it's the texture that weirds him out. So when I try a new dessert that is admittedly very fruit based, being a key lime pie flavored with lots of fresh lime juice, I am very surprsied when he decides he likes it.
And eats it without my prompting. Lots of it!
This would be my daughter's fingers, swooping in for a taste.
This Key Lime Pie recipe came from Matthew Kenney's Everyday Raw Desserts. It's cool, sweet and tart-very refreshing for the warm fall days we've been having. Yes, I said warm. Come on, summer, let it go already.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 17: Raw Energy? Bars

So, I don't know what to call these treats, really. They are sort of like Larabars, which are billed as energy bars sometimes? When I think of energy bars, I think of cardboard coated in chocolate that tastes like a sock. These are so not that.

There are many, many recipes out there for "lara" type bars. Try googling your favorite flavor + the word "recipe" to see what sort of results you get. Probably at least one or two. I do like to eat them, and other brand name raw energy bars, though they can be costly and don't taste quite as fresh as the ones I can make at home. And boy, do we ever make these at home. They are "cookies" to my almost 3 year old. Packed full of nutrition, I'm not going to complain if she wants to call them that.

Today I'm going to make a chocolate-cashew variety, but I want to say now that you can use any kind of nuts you like! And the chocolate can be optional. Or replaced with carob powder. Mesquite powder also makes an interesting add-in (use just a little, though!) Spices are also a nice touch-cinnamon, as an example. This is the sort of thing that can't be horribly screwed up, so feel free to experiment. Actually, this recipe started out as a quick experiment when my kiddo wanted a cookie, now! while I was trying to make an uncheesecake crust she was determined to eat if I didn't get her something else to nibble on.

First step, gather some ingredients.
Hemp seeds, Flax Seeds, Cacao Powder, Medjool Dates, Cashews, Chia Seeds. Everything raw & organic. Not pictured: Vanilla Extract, Pink Himalayan Salt.
The base recipe is something like, dump in a cup of nuts and measure out an equal portion of dates. So 2 cups nuts = 2 cups dates. Pit the dates, if they aren't already. This is a very important step! Ask me how I know.

Grind the nuts for several seconds alone, until finely chopped.
These are almonds (for another upcoming post), not cashews, but you get the idea
Now run the food processor and add the dates one at a time, so we don't overload the machine.

You'll have a nicely ground mix of dates and nuts after you let it process for a moment.
Stop the machine. You officially have an energy bar. You can stop here if you like. One of my favorites is just pecans and dates mixed together. Or, throw in some other fun things you may like. I believe I added about 2 tablespoons each of chia, flax and hemp seeds.
Note that pre-grinding your flax into meal is ideal if you want it completely ground when making things in a food processor. I forgot here. But that's okay, it's still good.
Now add cacao powder! About 1/2 cup. This is completely dependent on you and your taste buds. Here is where I add some vanilla extract (alcohol free is preferred for raw desserts, but whatever you got!) and a pinch of pink Himalayan salt (less than 1/4 tsp).
Run the machine for a minute or so, and things will start binding together in a gooey yummy mess. Now let's make cookies!
All the fun of baking without the hot oven to contend with.
I find it easiest to make small balls and smoosh them flat by hand, thus the cookie resemblance. You can pat them into a large pan (I would recommend pre-cutting bars in this case, they firm up quite a bit!) or shape them into bars with your hands/plastic wrap. Husband even cut them out with cookie cutters for us recently. Pop them in the freezer if you like them cold like me, or the fridge if you prefer.
A flower cookie for C-bear from Daddy, left most section.

Ani Phyo has a great cookie recipe in her dessert book, Carob Walnut Cookies. They follow the same basics as discussed here, and she puts her cookies in the freezer-this is how I learned I like them really cold!

See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 16: Cookbooks & Their Authors

Hi! How was your weekend? Are you (U.S.-ian's) buisily preparing for a certain holiday this week? We have been invited to a relative's house for Thanksgiving, necessitating a quick and easy dish and a gluten free dessert. More info on that later.

For the majority of this week you may find me babbling about raw desserts. Because they are good! And they are or can be very low in added sweeteners! Also, they are basically free of gluten and soy. And those are all neat things, for the allergen folks, and also for our taste buds and the waist line, things I haven't really focused on before in my life until now. Today though, I want to feature some of my favorite cookbooks and authors, both for raw things and cooked. The first being, of course, Miz Isa of the Chandra Moskowitzes.

My journey to veganism started with the Vegan Lunchbox blog, which shortly introduced me to Isa's website and her books. The Veganomicon had just come out and after picking up this book and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World I was one spoiled, happy food eating vegan. Her latest book, Appetite For Reduction, looks just as promising as all of her current books, and I am so excited for December to get here this year, delivering this book into my grubby little paws.

Terry Hope Romero is the second author I automatically trust when it comes to cooking delicious food, and her latest book Viva Vegan is not a let down. Every recipe we have tried we have liked, if not loved. And the seitan recipes? Absurdly easy. If you had troubles with making your own before, look no further.

The third author that came into my early vegan life was Dreena Burton, and her book Vive le Vegan! Her latest, Eat Drink & Be Vegan and her first, The Every Day Vegan, are just as superb. I like that she uses little if any wheat in her recipes and relies on hemp foods in baking, making her baked goods healthy and delicious. The tamari roasted chickpeas we eat almost daily come from ED&BV. And as a bonus to you vegan mamas wondering what to feed your kiddos, Dreena has included an entire section on this in the back of Vive.

On the raw side of the vegan spectrum, I have two favorite authors who never let me down-Ani Phyo and Matthew Kenney.

My favorite book from Ani will be her dessert book, because hey, who doesn't like a sweet now and then? But her latest book, Ani's Raw Food Essentials, is also a treasure trove of knowledge on raw food. Things I had been experimenting with on my own or recently been reading about are covered here, from kombucha to kefir, dehydrator pancakes to cookies made from leftover almond milk pulp. I have read over this book twice now, and I am still learning things.

Matthew Kenney has several books out. Raw Food, Real World and Everyday Raw contain some great recipes that I really use, well, almost every day. His latest dessert book, Everyday Raw Desserts is also amazing (and the best part is most recipes don't involve needing a dehydrator-bonus for the instant gratification set like me). The photography in his books is always amazing, and I love leafing through them when I'm feeling uninspired.

Some people (not you, gentle reader, of course!) often wonder what a vegan eats, or perhaps presume that veganism involves eating carrot sticks and leaves, and decadent food can not be had. These authors and their books all aim to prove that theory wrong, and in my opinion they succeed beautifully. If you are unfamiliar with these authors or want to learn more about their works I urge you to check out your local library, preview the book on Amazon where available, and try checking them out on Google Books as well (I am always surprised at what book I can find on there to glance through before buying it). They have treated me well, and maybe they will offer you the same enjoyment.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 15: Dinner, Dessert and a Pantry Challenge

Last weekend we had an easy going day around the house, finishing up projects and making some good food-pizza and raw "uncheese" cake.
Even the C-Bear got in on the action.
This was my share, with olives, pesto, tomato sauce, and broccoli slaw. Topped with a healthy shake of our parm.
And then, the cake. This was a bit of an experiment but it came out pretty good. A little too much chocolate for me (shocking, I know!)

This weekend I am faced with the project of the pantry. It is a mess.

Part of my end-of-year organizational sprint around here will involve cleaning it up!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vegan Mofo Stardate 14 : Roll with it baby!

So, lets talk Spring rolls (no, not old 80s songs as implied by the title).  So, these were made at the direction of my wife, who, I might add, likes Spring rolls.  A lot.  Particularly the ones from a certain Thai place we happen to currently frequent.  Truth be told, I do to, so it's not like I'm complaining here; except when she eats all any of mine.

What we were really going for here was a raw roll, or at least mostly raw, in that once made, we wouldn't actually cook the rolls.  As it turned out, some of the ingredients in these were cooked, but the roll itself and the accompanying dippin sauce were raw.

You'll need:

1 pkg of Spring roll wrappers.
There are so many varieties of these I can't begin to tell you which ones to buy specifically, but you want ones that are for all purpose use, not frying.  Generally, the frying only ones are the "rice paper" kind, and the general purpose ones are wheat based.  You can also get them in many shapes and sizes.  The particular ones I used this time were dried triangular Vietnamese wrappers.   Next time I have a batch of frozen larger square ones to use.

 Something large enough to hold the wrapper so it can soak in

As for the filling:
This time around I used shredded Napa cabbage (1 whole head)
shredded raw carrots
some pre roasted green beans
a lightly toasted combination of 1/4 cup of each of the following (6-7 minutes in a 350 oven)
Amaranth, sesame seeds, ground up cashews and ground up walnuts
If you want to leave these raw, I'd swap the amaranth for Hemp or Flax seed instead.  Totally up to you, I just chose these because they are mild in flavor.
The assembly table...

To make a roll, soak the wrapper in the water for about 15 seconds, until it gets soft.  Don't leave it in too long or else it'll turn to mush.  Also, once you take it out of the water it will continue to soften until it starts to dry, so don't worry if it's a little stiff when you take it out.
Lika dissa...

Add the filling ingredients at the bottom, being careful not to over stuff.  For these wrappers, you'll notice i put everything in the middle at the bottom of the larger rounded edge.  This gives you the ability to fold the sides over before you finish rolling in the vain hope that your filling won't fall out of the ends when you pick it up or bite it.  I used about a tablespoon each of the cabbage and carrots, added 1 or 2 beans, then a tsp or 2 of the seed and nut combo.

The order does.....not matter

Once you get everything added, roll up by first lifting the bottom up and over the stuffing, then pulling it back to tighten it up and get it started.  Fold the ends over toward the middle, making sure to tuck the wrapper over the filling.  You want to fold it once, then go back and pull the little flap that's left over into the middle too.  It's hard to explain, but once you do it a few times, you'll see what I mean.  If everything falls out, don't panic, just start over.  If the wrapper tears, just get a new one, no big deal.  The art of making these is something that takes patience and practice, so just hang in there and you'll get it.  For reference, the first time I made rolls, I put the ingredients on the wrong end and couldn't for the life of me figure out why they wouldn't roll up correctly.  It's all about the skills.

I couldn't take pictures and roll at the same time... so work with me here!

Finish rolling by using your index fingers in the middle, and your middle fingers on the ends, and roll it up, keeping it taught, but not so tight it tears.  You can feel the wrapper stretch as you roll, and that's ok.  Once you reach the top, make sure to gently press the little pointed part down so that it will bond to the rest.  Place it on a cookie sheet to sit for a few minutes, so that the wrapper sticks to itself and seals up the roll.  Were you going to fry them, that would be the time, but as I said we chose not too.

1 down.. 4 bajillion to go
After I ran out of beans, I switched to shredded broccoli slaw.  I let them sit for about 10 minutes (after I made the last one) before serving them.  In the end I stopped because I ran out of wrappers.  As you can see I did get quite a few done.  After they sit, they will be a little gummy, but they won't stick to your mouth when you eat them.  With all the crunchy veggies inside, the texture of the wrapper gets lost pretty easily.

These ones have peanuts and soap in them!!!!
If you can name that show.. you win a cookie.
Somewhere in there I made the dippin sauce.

Raw Nut dipping sauce
1/2 cup raw almond butter
2T Tamari
1/4 cup water
1T of Rice Vinegar
a few dashes of Sriacha (or Asian chile sauce)
tsp of garlic powder
tsp of date sugar

I whipped this up in a bowl with a whisk for a minute or so.  If you like yours thick like, leave out a tablespoon of the water.  This was pretty thick to begin with, so experiment a little with what works best for your desired consistency or flavor.  One idea I have is swapping the Tamari with Coconut Aminos...

That's right..I'm awesome.  The pan on the right has the string beans, broccoli slaw on the left.  It didn't matter..for them.
All was eaten with great fervor by the wife and I.  C to her credit tried one, but didn't like the wrapper, so she got something else to eat instead.  As far as the filling goes, you could really use about anything.  Any crunchy item works well as the base, so any cabbage, or crunchy raw veggie is good (oooooo, I wonder what shredded jicama would be like in these!!!).  Rice noodles would work too, just make sure to soak them first to soften them.  We would have added avocado to ours, but ours were bad and so we missed out on that.  The great part is that since these aren't cooked, you don't have the issue of things releasing water and making the roll soggy, so you can use mushrooms, and the like.  I know I used some cooked ingredients, but I'm labeling these as raw because it's very easy to make them that way.  I liked the idea of lightly toasting the seeds and nuts for extra flavor, but it's certainly not required.  Go crazy, I won't tell.