Friday, July 20, 2007

Pretty Much Raw Tootsie Rolls

I'm alive, and well fed! I have a whole back-log of photos I need to post, with recipes.

I made this by accident, it's quick, easy, and tastes a LOT like tootsie rolls (but better, IMHO)

1/2 c pitted dates
1/3 c coconut milk
1 c raw almond butter
1/2 c carob powder (I used roasted, it's what I had around)
2 T raw cocoa powder
1 T vanilla paste
1/2 t salt, or to taste

Blend the dates and coconut milk in a food processor, until you get a fairly smooth paste.

Add the rest of the ingredients, blend until you get a fairly gummy but solid mix. I put my mix into a loaf pan, but you can also shape it into truffles, rolled in carob powder, make it into little tootsie roll logs, etc. Tell me how it turns out!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I love filler, baby

I'm starting to explore raw and living foods. I just picked up I Am Grateful, the Cafe Gratitude raw food cookbook. So far it seems awesome. I mean c'mon, "I Am Heavenly; Mudslide Pie," "I Am Devoted; Live Coconut Cream Pie," or "I Am Adoring; Tiramisu," anyone? I also just picked Ani's Raw Food Kitchen, which is the book that started my interest in raw foods.

I am having a lot of fun with Ani's book, and have started drinking home made nut mylks (as she calls them, to clearly differentiate them from dairy based milks) daily. I feel great, overall. It is totally conducive to easy living and quick foods that wont make you feel bad.

Last night I was hungry but did not have the energy to invest into cooking something. Inspired by the raw food books and the ease of having your food pre-digested by a blender, I threw together some frozen banana chunks, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, hulled hemp seeds (all three nuts/seeds were raw/unsalted), carob powder, mate powder, and vanilla extract.

Push down, blend, suck down.

Man I felt better.

I used the pumpkin seeds and mate as (frank female problems warning) the first day of my period was kind of bumming me, and those are both supposed to be hormonal balancing agents. Today I feel completely fine and unburdened, did some pilates first thing in the morning without a hitch!

Monday, May 21, 2007

munch munch munch (snack sammich)

I'd apologize for the lack of updates but nooo one is reading this. I will be posting more once I process a few photos and decide which recipes to begin posting.

I will try to be good about posting what I am eating, for my own logging sake or inspiration in simplicity. So before I go to the Poconos for Memorial Day Weekend, I am trying to clean out the fridge rather than make more food.

Tonight's dinner was stupendous, and it only took 3 minutes!

I tossed a piece of sprouted grain bread in the toaster, I mashed up half of a haas avocado in the skin, spread it on the toast, layered it with the rest of my adaptation of Vegan with a Vengance's chorizo, and dotted the top with tofutti's "better than sour cream."

All done, all tasty, all eaten up yum. Seriously you could have told me my cat was found horribly mutilated and I wouldn't have cared, while I was eating this open faced delight.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spring is Undeniably Here! Borscht

ooh pretty... want to touch!
2 cups water
2 cups strong vegetable broth (I use Better than Bullion for my stock)
6 Medium peets, trimmed, peeled, cut into chunks
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 red, yellow, or orange pepper, seeded, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
1 dash dried dill
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 T olive oil
Lemon Juice, Stevia, Salt, and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Chopped cilantro
Vegan sour cream, for garnish (I linked a recipe for convienience, use whichever you prefer, including commercial)

1. Combine water, broth, beets, tomatoes, pepper, bay leaf, dill, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook, partially covered, for about 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat, discard bay leaves, set aside to cool. If it is cooler outside than inside, I often leave the soup base 'outside,' it cools faster and saves more energy than putting it in the refrigerator.
2. While base is cooling, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the onions, scallions, and garlic and cook until tender. Remove from heat, add to soup base, along with parsley.
3. Remove about one cup of liquid from the soup base (more if it seems really 'watery'), add orange juice. Puree with a blender bowl, food processor, or immersion blender in batches if necessary (I used an immersion blender). If soup is very thick, add more of the beet juice liquid, continue to add liquid until you get desired thickness (thinness?).

Let base cool all the way. Here is where you custom tailor it, with the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and stevia. Some people like their borscht tart, some sweet, some both, etc. etc. When you are satisfied with the flavor, let cool.

Spoon into white bowls, and garnish with sour cream, sprinkle with cilantro.

The rest of the beet broth you can save in the fridge for food or clothing dye, a morning drink, use in another soup, fake blood ;), etc. etc.

Enjoy! And I'm not going to pretend I'm not totally proud of the photo up above.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Amaranth Stuffed Kabocha Squash

Here is a quick n' easy.

1 2-3 pound Kombucha squash
1 cup amaranth
6 green onions, washed and diced
2 T Braggs Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
2 1/2 cups water

Fill a sauce pan up about one inch. Bring water to a boil.

Cut the top off the squash off, remove seeds, guts, etc. Place top and squash in sauce pan. Turn water to simmer. Cover, let steam cook for 30 minutes until soft but not mushy. Remove from heat and drain water when done.

In the meantime, wash the amaranth in a fine sieve and drain well (I use my sprouting bag for this). Preheat a frying pan on medium high, and gently brown the amaranth (takes about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. In another sauce pan, bring the 2 1/2 cups water to a boil, add Braggs, stir, add amaranth, cover, turn to a simmer, and let cook until the water is absorbed (about 30 minutes). If the water is still not absorbed, turn up the heat a little and continue to stir until it is a bit of a thick porridge. Add the diced green onions, and pour the mixture into the squash. Serve warm and fresh, by cutting it into eight wedges, or refrigerate and serve the next day. This is a great easy, quick, simple healthy whole food side dish.

Peanut Butter Banana Pudding Espresso (and the kitchen sink!) Brownies

This recipe is sorta-kinda-a-little inspired by Vegan with a Vengeance's "banana split pudding brownies." It is about as true to/inspired by the recipe as made-for-T.V. movies are true to/inspired by actual events that happened at some point in this world. I would go so far as to say I only ganked the recipe for the banana pudding topping, everything is is completely different (as completely different as any chocolate+sugar+flour+stabilizers basis can be). It turned out quite well. I skewed for a healthier recipe, because of that it is still complete decadent and not lacking in any way, but is cakier rather than fudgier because there is no added fat.

Peanut Butter Banana Pudding Espresso (and the Kitchen Sink!) Brownies

Wet ingredients
4 ounces baker's choclate squares
4 mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar (use 1 cup if not using the stevia recommended below)
1 T vanilla extract
3 dropper fulls of liquid stevia or enough to achieve desired sweetness (I used chocolate flavor ed stevia but you can also add a dash of chocolate extract)
1 t instant espresso

Dry ingredients
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

For the topping layer:

3 mashed very ripe bananas
2 T sugar
1/4 c vanilla almond milk
1 t vanilla extract
1 T arrowroot powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease a 9x13 baking pan.

To make the brownie batter:
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. While the chocolate melts, mix the rest of the "wet" ingredients, until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and continue to mix.

Combine the dry ingredients and add to the banana mixer until pretty consistent, mixture will be a little gummy. Don't worry :). Spread the mixture out in the baking dish.

In a clean bowl mix the topping layer ingredients together, and spread atop the brownie mix.

Bake for 30 minutes, remove from oven, let cool. Cut up and can serve with diced up bananas and cashew cream or other non-dairy whipped or delish topping, or just enjoy plain!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Kinda Sorta Sour Pickles

If there is one thing I love doing, it's learning how to make new foods. Master? Not really, but have a capacity to make in at least a basic form, yes! So I figured I would give pickles a try, after having learned how to make sauerkraut.

O.K. actually that is not what happened. I just happened to pick up some pickling cucumbers (along with other vegetables) for a buck twenty-nine on clearance. Still, I can't let them go to waste, can I? Pickles are no where near as daunting or intensive as sauerkraut, as I found out. Say hello to a recipe I'll certainly be doing again...

Kinda Sorta Sour Pickles

1 m onion, thinly sliced
2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon pickling spice
4 whole garlic cloves, smashed

Combine the onion and cucumber slices in a clean jar or container of choice.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 full minutes to wake up the spice flavors.

Slowly and gently pour the pickling liquid over the onion and cucumber slices, filling to the top of the jar.

Cool to room temperature. Top off the pickles with any remaining pickling liquid and refrigerate.

Note, the smashed garlic will take on a great bright blue-green shade due to chemical interactions. You can add the garlic at the pouring stage to minimize this, I believe, but I prefer it colored.

The pickles will last awhile. I end up tossing them with whatever sandwich, wrap, roll up, or whatever else I make for the next couple of days... for example...

This is pretty standard "quick n' easy" sandwich for me, fresh tomato, avocado, pickles, some flavored tempeh or tofu, topped with whatever home made cheese I have lying around and tossed under a broiler for a couple of minutes. Always satisfying.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Semi-Italian Style Stuffed Green Peppers

I happened to leave my camera at Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar, anyway... I will be able to do pictures soon, intermittently. But until I get my own, sadly my food photog quality may be lessened.

Today's dinner, I just threw some leftovers together. I cut a green pepper in half and scooped it out. I sauteed up some diced shitake mushrooms in a little olive oil, with salt, put them aside. I then sauteed up some diced tomatoes in the same mix, and then tossed the tomatoes and mushrooms together and placed them in the peppers. I then covered this mix with some leftover tofu ricotta I had lying around, tossed them in a 425 degree oven and set to bake for 30 minutes.

Here's hoping all turns out well (they're baking right now, eep!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Whole Grain Grilled Cheese. First "real" entry, before I enter a (food) coma.

O.k. I am going to toss up a quicky. Statistically speaking, after this post, I will likely never update this blog again... Did you know how many blog titles I had to go through to find this one? Every single taken blog name I tried that was taken had no more than 3 posts, and has not been updated since 2006.

Onto the show!

Whole Grain Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ruby Caraway Sauerkraut

Whole Grain Grilled Cheese

Cashew Cheddar Cheese (recipe below)
Margarine or cooking oil of your choice
Fresh Tomatoes
Sprouted Grain Bread (I used Sesame Ezekiel, and you can honestly use any kind you want)
Salt and Pepper

Warm up a frying pan on medium to high. Coat with oil. I season my pan with a little salt and pepper, at this point, especially if I am using olive oil. While the pan is heating up, I spread the cheese on one side of the bread, slice and layer the tomatoes, dash with salt. Place on frying pan and remove when golden brown on each side.

I normally cook the sandwich open face, with a cover over the frying pan, and then assemble it when ready.

Cashew Cheddar Cheese
This recipe is courtesy of Ann Gentry's the Real Food Daily cookbook. If I had to keep only one cookbook, it may possibly be this one.

1 1/4 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup nutrirional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 1/2 cups unsweetened plain soymilk (or other unadulterated milk of choice)
I cup agar flakes (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup yellow miso
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about I lemon)

Using the pulse button, finely grind the cashews in a food processor; don't allow the cashews to turn into a paste. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. Pulse three more times to blend in the spices.

Combine the soymilk, agar, and oil in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the agar is dissolved. With the food processor running, gradually pour the soymilk mixture through the feed tube and into the cashew mixture. Blend for 2 minutes, or until very smooth and creamy, and then blend in the miso and lemon juice.

For grated or sliced cheese, transfer the cheese to a container, cover, and refrigerate about 4 hours, until very firm. Once it's firm, grate or slice the cheese as desired.

For melted cheese, use the cheese immediately as melted cheese. Alternatively, make the cheese in advance, cover, and refrigerate. When you're ready to use the cheese, melt it in a saucepan over medium heat until smooth and creamy, stirring frequently. If needed, add more soymilk for a thinner consistency.

For Jalapeno Cashew Cheddar Cheese: Stir 2 tablespoons of minced jalapeno chiles into 2 cups of melted cheese. The cheese will keep for 4 days, covered and refrigerated

Make 4 cups.
I personally pour the cheese mix into eight individual miniature "loaf" pans, and freeze the ones I am not using immediately. They freeze well, so long as you give them time to thaw. It also makes a good 'pate' style cracker spread.

Sauerkraut recipe will be on the way.

Let's start simple, shall we?

I have a back-log of food I have made, but don't have all the recipes on-hand, so I am going to begin with the results of a pantry-filling trip from not so long ago. I will also talk about a few of the ingredients, what I can and did use them for.

1. Umeboshi Paste: A Japanese condiment, often found in macrobiotic cooking. It is a form of pickled plum, salty and tangy, it is often used in lieu of butter. It is also used for dressings. For a quick and simple dressing, toss some umeboshi, fresh garlic, tahini, and water into a blender. It goes great with both cooked and fresh greens.

2. Avocados: Oh my god, Wild Oats was having a 50 cents each sale on organic avocados! Yes please! You will be seeing a lot of avocados here, on average I eat at least one or two a week, sometimes one to two meals a day. Avocado is extremely versatile, I use them for sandwiches, sushi style rolls, salad dressings, accessories, even as a substantiator in pies!

3. Adzuki Beans: Popular in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisine, I have yet to use these. If you have ever had any sort of Asian dessert filled with a red, sweet paste, you have eaten Adzuki. I plan on using these for something like sloppy joes, or just as a side dish of their own.

4. Dates: You know these, many of Scheherazade's Thousand and One Nights began with some merchant carelessly tossing a date-stone and accidentally killing some guy, forever being indebted to a Djinn, evil Vizier, yada yada. Thus far I have used them for date crumb bars (tasty recipe, but needs tweaking. Will likely post the results when I make them again), and some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, another recipe that is promising but in need of serious tweaking.

5. Assorted whole grain products. These are serious stuff. I generally prefer to keep my whole grains cooked, as it's a good 'backdrop' to any food. Still, I also like my decadences and these are vital for baking-cookies, pies, breads, bars, cupcakes, biscuits, etc. The puffed millet is good quick n' easy no-bake dessert bars, though I am experimenting to find a better puffed whole grain besides brown rice. Overwhelmingly you will see that I pretty seriously avoid processed flour if I can help it, though I am starting to dabble in the occasional "junky" food, just to refine my cooking repertoire.

Finally, here we go.

This will probably end up in the "about," but for now...

Ok so let us see how well I can stay dedicated to the rapidly multiplying list of vegan blogs. This should help keep track of the recipes I try, success and failure, and keep me from doing too much of the same thing. Hopefully, if my cooking doesn't improve, my food photography will.

I have always been passionate about food, but also have something of an ethical, moral, and environmental conscience. As time went on, I started to see meat and animal produce increasingly coming into conflict with such values (not to mention health). I don't personally believe in total abolition of consumption of animal product, but not as it is currently harvested, nor anywhere even close to the current rate of consumption in the Western world.

Overall, my biggest concern is the resource-intensiveness of producing animal product (meat, dairy, eggs, wool, etc.). Currently there are about 1 billion pigs, 1.3 billion cows, 1.8 billion sheep and goats and 15.4 billion chickens on this planet. We dedicate more land to feeding them than we do the rest of humanity (not counting the land animals occupy as 'dedicated to food'). This wasn't too bad until ethanol replaced the now-banned MTBE as a required fuel additive, and seen as the "fuel of the future."

Until this point, most countries maintained grain surpluses, now not only are these surpluses evaporating, grain prices are going up as ethanol plants compete for the grain slated to go to surplus and developing economies. Unfortunately, livestock growers and ethanol developers have more resources than citizens of developing economies, meaning that they can pay more for the grain that is increasingly in demand. This means that staple foods are becoming less affordable in places like rural China, Southeast Asia, Africa.

I don't want to ramble or anything, so I'm going to cut it short. If you have any regard for the environment, any concerns about global warming, anything at all... Realize that short of owning your own plane and using it regularly, consumption of meat/animal product is probably the biggest burden you are placing onto the environment.

Quick numbers:
To raise one pound of beef requires over 12,000 gallons of water just for the grain to feed it, half a gallon of gas, and 16 pounds of grain. Doing the math, that is over 14,000,000 gallons of water, 600 gallons of gas, and 19,200 pounds of grain to raise one slaughter-ready steer. This does not include many other costs, such as transportation of grains, to/from slaughterhouses, grocery stores, methane, waste matter, etc.

To grow one pound of wheat requires 25 gallons of water, 2.5 acres of land produces enough wheat to sustain 15 people. Twenty-two people could be sustained on cabbage grown on 2.5 acres of land. Only one person could be sustained via beef on 2.5 acres of land (according to Oklahoma State, you can't even raise a cow on less than 10-14 acres without fertilizer).

40 (another source claims 54) calories of fossil fuel are needed to produce one calorie of protein feedlot beef.
2 calories of fossil fuel are needed to produce one protein calorie of tofu.

The United States Geological Survey says that 40 percent of fresh water used in the U.S. in 2000 went to irrigate feed crops for livestock. Only 13 percent was used all for domestic purposes including showers, flushing toilets, washing cars and watering lawns.

Also meat/animal product eaters are hurting everyone, which is totally unfair to anyone who eats vegetables. You think e.coli 0157:H7 is naturally occurring in spinach and almonds?

For more information, go to The Global Benefits of Eating Less Meat.

In the meantime, on to the food!