10 October 2008

I took my parents to Fressen for dinner tonight, and they were thoroughly impressed. I didn't have my camera with me, and in the low light I wouldn't have been able to capture the gorgeous dishes that were brought out, but it was a tasty, tasty meal.

So, since I can't blog about Fressen, here's the survey that's been floating around.

1. Name a song that involves food in some way.
On the Road Again - Bob Dylan

Well, I asked for something to eat
I'm hungry as a hog
So I get brown rice, seaweed
And a dirty hot dog
I've got a hole
Where my stomach disappeared
Then you ask why I don't live here
Honey, I gotta think you're really weird.

2. What criteria do you use when choosing a new cookbook to buy?
Good muffin recipes. Seriously. Nothing too sweet or dessert-y. I love me some muffins.

3. What did you eat today?
Breakfast: wholewheat raisin toast, soy yogurt, raspberries, coffee;
Lunch: pita, hummus, eggplant dip, green beans and grilled veggies (I took my parents to a Greek restaurant. Yummy)
Dinner: Tons of food from Fressen - gluten roast, Moroccan stew, chickpea and avocado salad; squash ravioli, sautéed broccoli, mushrooms in phyllo pastry, and sauvignon blanc.

4. Name a vegan food that you know exists but you have never tried.
Butterscoth chips.

5. The Food Network just called and needs you to start your new show tomorrow. What will the title of the show be?
The Vegan ... I don't know.

6. Favorite hot sauce or other spicy condiment?
Good ol' tabasco.

7. How old were you when you became vegetarian/vegan?
Vegetarian at 21; vegan at 23.

8. Favorite vegan cheeze?
I don't have one.

9. Cutest baby animal?
I can't decide between cows and puppies.

10. Favorite type of jam/jelly/marmalade/preserves?

11. Do you take any vitamins/supplements?
A multivitamin, a vegan omega-3, calcium, ginseng.

12. What food/dish most embodies the Fall season?
Pumpkin pie.

13. What food would you have a hard time living without?
Tofu. And not because I'm vegan, but because I love it! There's so many different ways to prepare it, I could probably eat it every day and not get bored.

14. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
Coffee. Lots of it. Black.

15. It's 10PM and you're starving. What do you eat?
Muffins or potato chips.

16. If you have an animal companion, what is his/her favorite food?
All I have is a mouse living in my kitchen. It hasn't taken the baits I've tried in the humane trap, so I kow it doesn't like chocolate, bread, peanut butter, or sunflower seeds.

17. Worst injury you've gotten in the kitchen?
I scratched my nose after chopping hot peppers. Oh god, my nostrils were on fire!

18. When you have a food-related question, who do you call?
I google.

19. Summer is ending- What food will you miss most?
Tomatoes; I had 5 heirloom tomato plants and they produced the most incredibly tomatoes I've ever had.

20. What snacks do you keep in your purse/backpack/desk at work?
Muffins, granola bars and apples.

21. Favorite soup to make on a rainy day?
A can of Amy's alphabet soup.

22. What's your favorite combination of fresh vegetable and/or fruit juices?
Live has a juice with kale, ginger, lemon, dandelion greens and pear that's awesome.

23. Favorite brand of root beer?

24. Make up your own question!
If a vegan falls in a forest, and no one's around, does she/he make a sound?

07 October 2008

Assorted jams & jellies

This fall I made good on the threat I made last year to my boyfriend to go all bad-ass-pioneer-woman and start canning things. We moved into the house we currently rent in February and I watched all spring as the seemingly dead vine that grew all over a good third of the backyard started sprouting some very grape-y looking leaves. I was hoping to make wine, but it turned out to be concord grapes. I made about a million jars of grape jelly (the middle jar) and it was so surprisingly easy that I wanted to can more things!

The top jar is a spiced pear jam, but I think it's a bit too sweet. The bottom jar is sugar-less aplpe butter from a recipe that afoolsays posted on the PPK forums. I hope she doesn't mind me reposting it here, because it is delicious!

Apple Butter

Preparation time: 2 1/4 hours including baking time

3 lbs cooking apples
1 c pitted prunes
3 c apple cider
1 t cinnamon
1 t allspice
2 t ground cloves (I used fewer cloes, about 1 1/4 tsp)

Peel, quarter and core apples and put them, with the prunes and cider, in a kettle and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft. Preheat oven to 300° F. Put fruit and cider mixture in a food processor, add spices and puree the mixture. Pour into a shallow 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Spread mixture out evenly and bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour. During baking, scrape sides and stir occasionally.

To test for doneness, dab a spoonful of apple butter on a saucer and turn the saucer upside down: Apple butter should be thick enough to stick to the saucer. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Seal with new lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath at least 5 minutes. Yields about 2 pints.

04 October 2008

Vegan Whipped Cream!

Pumpkin pie with vegan whipped cream. This is the best thing I have made in a long time. I used Wolfie's Pumpkin Pie Recipe from La Dolce Vegan (has the unknown Wolfie ever surfaced in the world of vegan blogs? Her recipes in LDV are always hits), but the exciting part is the whipped cream.

I found it in an article in The Oregonian (where else?) about Ivy Entrekin, who keeps a blog here, but I didn't see any recipes posted. The article is now in the archives and you have to log in to see it, so I've posted it below. It is almost painfully easy and delicious. The only thing I might change when I make it for Thanksgiving is to lower the amount of sugar. The pie has a crumble topping on it already, so it doesn't need more sweetness.

Coconut Whipped Cream
From Ivy Entrekin, published in The Oregonian, August 19, 2008

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 can regular (not lite) coconut milk

1/3 cup organic powdered sugar
1/4 cup coy milk powder
1/8 tsp vanilla

Refrigerate the coconut milk for 4 hours. Place a medium-sized metal bowl and beaters for an electric mixer in the freezer.

Remove chilled coconut milk from refrigerator and scrape the thick cream from the top of the can into the chilled bowl. Fold in the powdered sugar, soy milk powder, and vanilla. Beat coconut cream with electric mixer until thick and fluffy (This took me about 5 minutes). Cover bowl and chill for 30 minutes. Remove just before serving.

03 October 2008

I was intending to write about The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee tonight, but work has got me too beat to condense my thoughts on it, even after skipping cooking and going out for Chinese. Had my fortune cookie said something like "you will condense your thoughts and post them to the blogosphere" then maybe I would, but instead it told m I would try something new and be successful at it (in bed).

The NY Times recently had an article about the vanishing Mediterranean Diet, considered to be one of the healthiest in the world and one that's easily compatible with veganism:

"The traditional diet, low in saturated fats and high in nutrients like flavonoids, was based on vegetables, fruit, unrefined grains, olive oil for cooking and for flavoring, and a bit of wine — all consumed on a daily basis.

Fish, nuts, poultry, eggs, cheese and sweets were weekly additions. Red meat, refined sugar or flour, butter and other oils or fats were consumed rarely, if at all."

Ok, so I - and a lot of other vegans I know - have a hard time keeping sweets to a weekly indulgence! (I have a pumpkin pie in the oven right now).

I haven't used Donna Klein's The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen as much as I would have liked too; when I'm short on time to cook, which is often, I go for a tried and true recipe that I've made before. That being said, there are some great recipes in this book:

- Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms. It sounds like a boring staple of every veg*n cookbook, so I was surprised at how good this was. It's baked in the oven for over an hour, with stock added to it periocically and giving it a risotto-like texture.

- Marinated Button Mushrooms with White Wine, Cloves and Saffron. This was too fancy to have been eaten by a rube like me. This is a tapas-style dish and not something I'd make just for myself again. A lot of recipes in this book are good for "entertaining", i.e. cooking for someone who's not my husband because there's nothing vegan in them: no nutritional yeast, no tempeh, no tofutti products. I've found that omnivores more often than not wind up loving dishes with tempeh and nutritional yeast, but it's getting them to try it in the first place that's the stumbling block. Don't we all have a sibling who's grimaced at the site of a vegan peach cobbler and asked if it will "taste funny"?

- And for dessert, it has a huge variety of fresh and baked fruit dishes. The Macedonia of Melon in Mint Syrup and Apples Baked in Red Wine are two that I've tried and loved. They're not show-offy desserts, but I like their simplicity.

I'll post photos of the pumpkin pie, with homemade whipped cream, tomorrow!

02 October 2008

Veganmofo unfortunately coincides not only with fall and Thanksgiving and crisp a and other nice things, but also with the start of cold and flu season. Yesterday I was too beat to cook and kicked off Veganmofo by eating left-over lasagna from the freezer and falling asleep on the couch, but today I got around to the project I meant to do.

The only family recipe that I've missed since going veg*n was the Thanksgiving/Christmas stuffing. My mum always made a simple bread and sausage stuffing and I've tried and failed to duplicate it on just about every holiday. The closest I've gotten is the Bread Stuffing recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan's The (Almost) No-Fat Cookbook (but I make mine with lots of fat).

I tried again tonight, with fresh herbs from the garden (rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley), sauteed mushrooms, celery, onion and what I was hoping would be the magic ingredient: fresh fennel. Something is still missing and I can't put my finger on it. Savory? More of one herb? Less of another?

Until I figure it out, I deem it a work in progress, unworthy to serve my parents for Thanksgiving dinner. So I'm in search of another stuffing recipe, or any other bread or grain dish, to fill the void on the dinner table.

Sourdough Watch: Day 3

My starter has exploded with life! Lovely fungal life!

My last starter took a week to get to this point and I wasn't expecting this so quickly. It might be ready to bake some bread as early as this weekend, which would be great because who has the time during the week to make bread that needs four hours to rise?

30 September 2008

The most wonderful time of the year

It's VeganMoFo, starting tomorrow. I sat it out last year because it was in November and I was occupied with it's antecedent NaNoWriMo (which I didn't finish) and a French class. MoFo nicely coincides with Canadian Thanksgiving; a visit from my parents, who unexpectedly love tofu; weather cool enough for me to use my oven; and the season of baking pumpkin into everything!

When I first started to cook for myself, about 3 years ago when I was just finishing up university, there were two things I really wanted to learn how to make: Chinese food and bread. My Chinese cooking is still a work-in-progress, but I've gotten the hang of bread. One recipe that's on my list to try out this month is Vegan Dad's rustic pumpkin bread.

Last spring I made a sourdough starter, using the basic instructions found here. It's the first page Google finds when you search for "sourdough starter", but it worked like a charm and produced some yummy bread. I left the starter in the back of my fridge all summer, unfed and uncared for, and when I dug it out last week it both looked and smelled foul. I tried to start again using some of the grapes that are growing in my back yard, a la these directions but I must have done something wrong because all I produced was paste that smelled like spoiled grapes. I'm giving it another shot using good ol' S. John Ross's directions. I'll post daily updates on the fascinating state of its fermentation.

Sourdough rye I made last spring from my starter.