Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Corn Maze Food

I went to my first ever corn maze last night. I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but I was kind of disappointed anyway. It was mostly...well, dead and trampled. But, we did get to partake in some nasty greasy carnival type food, which Josh was kind enough to model.

Behold, ladies and gentlemen, the a-maize-ing, the awesome, the frightening....tater twister!!!!
That is a $5 potato that has been thinly cut into one long potato chip and soaked cooked in oil. Along with that there too sweet lemonade, we had a complete meal. That counts as a fruit and vegetable, right?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vegan MoFo: 2 Days in the Soup

While it is warming up a bit, this weekend was cold and nasty. And we didn't even get snow, which would've made it worthwhile. Instead, we closed up the house, fired up the woodburning stove, and turned on the crockpot. One of my all-time favorite cookbooks is Fresh from the Vegetarian Slowcooker. I've used it quite a bit and seldom been disappointed.
The first soup we tried is the French White Bean and Cabbage soup, which I topped with some homemade seitan sausage. I'll admit that I seldom like cabbage, but this soup is really really good--the flavors are simple and good together wonderfully. I usually only buy cabbage so I can make a small amount of salad for my calabacitas, since cabbage holds up better than lettuce and lends a nice crunch to the dish. Unfortunately, the rest gets composted. Now I know what I'll be making with my leftover cabbage.
The second soup is the Almost Irish Stew. I have to admit that I didn't really care for this one. There's just something slightly off about the taste and after I mentioned it Josh tasted it too (though I think he may just be sensitive to the power of suggestion). However, this only the second of 12-15 recipes I've tried that hasn't been quite good. And, those Pilsbury crescent rolls more than made up for it, I'm ashamed to say.

(Funny...looking at those pictures side by side, the soups look the same, but the taste is totally different.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Pizza Hut

Just the other day, Josh and I were discussing the finer qualities of Pizza Hut's crust--namely, the gooey inside and the oily, crispy outside. It's been a good 15 years since I've had one of their pizzas, but I still remember the goodness. Admittedly, this conversation started with me wondering how the Pizza Hut near us possibly stays in business, but this conversation also ultimately led to us helping the local Pizza Hut stay in business.

Facing a long, busy, work-focused weekend, neither of us really felt like cooking. And, since it's suddenly about 38 degrees outside, neither of us felt like riding our bikes either. So, we started brainstorming about delivery options. We came up with two possibilities: Pizza Hut or the generically named Colorado Wok. After glancing at the Colorado Wok menu and deciding that I'm not nearly brave enough tot give it a go, we decided to see if Pizza Hut's crust is as good as we remember. Since the last time I ordered pizza for delivery, they've developed a nifty online ordering system. At least it would be nifty it worked. It kept insisting that my name was already taken and, trust me, there is no way in hell that anyone else in the country has my full name. After screaming at the online system, I finally just called and ordered in a cool 3 minutes. We decided on sauce, red onion, green pepper, and pineapple, with no cheese. While we were waiting, I whipped up a variation of the Native Chi's from the Native Foods cookbook to put on top of the pizza when it finally got here.
Final Verdict: That cashew based cheese was delicious on Pizza Hut pizza. And the crust is good, though not quite as greasy and delicious as either of us remember it. I'm a little worried that this worked out so well. Ordering one large pizza with a tip was a pricey proposition (about $23) and it turned out so good that I can see us doing this more often than we should. Luckily, the shame I'll feel at putting out a recycling bin with a Pizza Hut box in it will probably deter me.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Balsamic Lentil Soup

I am a lazy lazy slob of a girl. Yes, I may commute 24 miles on my bike. I even make dinner most nights and keep the house --with all its accompanying animal messes--clean. But what did I do today? I slept until 3:00 in the afternoon. I didn't intend to. With piles and piles of grading slowly starting to take over the dining room table and floor and a dissertation proposal to finish (or suffer very dire consequences), the last thing I can afford is a day in bed. It started innocently enough: I grabbed my laptop and sat down with my writing materials. One problem is that I work in bed because the office is a disaster and it's the most comfortable place to type on a laptop. The next problem saw me get into bed with my work and promptly deposited himself between me knees full of purrs and stretches. Then the third problem thought he might as well join the second problem....and, well, what can a person do except sleep the day away when two purring cats are cuddled up against you and it's damn cold outside? Especially when Nico asks so nicely:
After sleeping the day away, I knew I needed something easy and delicious and comforting. It's been a while since I made my favorite lentil soup, so it seemed to be just the thing to have before I crawl back in bed for the night.
Balsamic Lentil Soup

1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 cups water
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed
4 tbsp. tomato paste (I think that's what two frozen ice cubes worth equals)
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. dried dill
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a soup pot and saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until almost cooked through. Add chopped tomatoes and cook 1-2 more minutes. Add water, lentils, tomato paste, dill, bay leaf, and peppers. Bring to a boil, then simmer until lentils are cooked. Turn off the heat and balsamic vinegar and salt/pepper.

I like to eat this with a dollop of Tofutti sour cream.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Tsuey Yuh Slice

Don't know how to pronounce it. Don't really know what it's supposed to be, but I know it's good:
This little nugget of veggie goodness resides at Pacific Ocean Market, the mother of all Asian markets (at least in this neck of the woods). It is the size of a small Safeway, is stocked with exotic and wonderful foods (and some not so wonderful), and smells like day old fish. It's quite an adventure shopping there since most of the labels aren't in English, products tend to migrate around the store, and everyone there speaks a combination of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog with perhaps a bit of Korean thrown in. I speak none of these. Once when I asked after curry leaves, one of their employees threw a bag of bay leaves in my bag. I tried to explain that I wanted curry leaves and she simply replied, "Yes, to put in curry." I bought them anyway.

The real pleasure, though, is digging through the shifting freezer section of mystery veggie meats. Twice in a row now (!!!), they've had Tsuey Yuh Slice which is best described as a dense sponge with a chickenish taste. You know, if an old sponge full of chicken flavor actually tasted good.
(Tsuey Yuh Slice with veggies, coconut milk, green curry, and lime juice)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Vegan MoFo: Costco Run

I've been slacking. Again. Despite Vegan Mofo. But, to be fair, Friday night dinner was me slumped on the couch watching the VP debate clutching a bowl of popcorn with nooch and dill. Last night, we had company and I had no oomph to post or take a picture with a belly full of calabacitas and a brain full of Aliens.

I did, however, get a picture of our Costco run yesterday. When we ran into some friends in Costco, they were amazed to see us there (I guess we don't seem like the big box types), but, every once in while, we do give into a great American pastime: overindulging at Costco. Since we don't drive, we have to be careful about how much we buy and yesterday we just managed to fit everything into the trailer--which Josh was gracious enough to pull home. The trailer must've weighed 90-100 pounds thanks to 60 pounds of cat litter. But, when you have 3 cats, it's worth slogging to Costco and back--especially when you have someone else willing to do the slogging--for cheap litter that doesn't make the cats smell like artificial meadows or some such madness.
What you can't see under the paper towels and ziplock bags and canvas stretchers and the crockpot is our brand new Vita-Mix. I seldom get excited about anything, but, rounding that corner at Costco, I ran smack dab into a Vita-Mix demo which literally caused me to squeal, do a little hop, and start pointing at it excitedly. Anything that gets that kind of reaction out of me is bound to cost a lot of money and it did. But, we made salsa in it last night and shredded cabbage and I am completely impressed. I immediately put the old blender in the donation bin and stuck the cuisinart in the cupboard, because I think it too may have just been made obsolete.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vegan Mofo: Egg in my Face

Saying you're vegan often elicits a list--from whomever happens to be around--of a wide range of food that people can't live without. Cheese usually tops that list for omnivores. Vegans will often cite things like Nutella as the food they miss the most. Neither of these things moves me. I thought I would miss cheese and I still sometimes get a yen for feta, but Nutella does nothing for me. Instead, I miss eggs (and steamed clams, but that's another story).

As good as tofu scrambles are (especially the one in Vcon) and as delicious as the Skinny Bitch egg salad is, I still dream about the perfectly fried egg. There simply is no substitute--or, at least, there wasn't. I came across this recipe somewhere on the internets, so kudos to whoever came up with this. Perhaps it's been so long that I don't remember what a real breakfast sandwich tastes like, but I don't care. This is crazy good. I have ended my love affair with eggs once and for all.

Now, if only I can figure out a way to make vegan steamed clams...

Vegan Breakfast Sandwiches (4 servings)

1 pound extra firm tofu
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. black salt (find this at all costs)
8 thin slices FYH cheddar
8 slices veggie ham or canadian bacon (or use tempeh bacon)
4 vegan english muffins
Earth Balance

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Slice tofu into 8 medium width rectangles and brush one side of tofu with vinegar mixture. Put tofu mixture side down on a baking sheet and brush the other side of the tofu. Heat oven to 425 and wait 10 minutes. Brush tofu with mixture one more time and bake each side for 10-12 minutes. If you have any leftover mixture, brush the tofu again when you flip it over.

Meanwhile, pour a little oil in a frying pan and fry fake meat a minute or two on each side. Toast and butter muffins.

About 3 minutes before the tofu is done, break each cheese slice in half and place both halves on each piece of tofu. Comtinue cooking until cheese melts.

Layer the tofu and fake meat on the english muffin and try not to burn your mouth.