Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Look Over There!

No, not there. There!

I've moved elsewhere. Join me!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

a tale of two kales

Quite the pun-like subject, right? Like any good vegan, I enjoy kale immensely. My favorite reasons would be that it has a host of health benefits and takes on other flavors easily while still holding its own. It's also fairly inexpensive (I get a big bag of chopped, washed kale for $2, although when not available I will buy organic and do that crap myself for more money).

More often than any other usage, I throw kale into a green smoothie and call it a Green Monster. I have a magical combination of not measuring non-dairy milk, ground flax, massive amounts of kale, a frozen banana, and an apple into my awesome blender. It's refreshing and clean without tasting too healthy, if you catch my drift.

We recently subscribed to a CSA. I'm sure you've heard all about these in the blogosphere. Shares usually begin in May (ours was the last week in May) and my family has enjoyed the vast amounts of quality produce. We've received different varieties of lettuce, collards, strawberries (absolutely perfect ones this week, the best strawberries I have ever tasted), cherries (not as great, waiting for next week), dill, and garlic scape (similar to a green onion/garlic hybrid). So far I am very pleased with our full share from Great Country Farms!

I wanted to make something different because we received such a massive quantity of kale. I remembered that when testing for the new HH cookbook, I had made a recipe for Kale a la Maryland, or Fisherman's Kale. I took a spin off of that recipe by sauteing kale in vegetable broth until it was bright green and topping it with a liberal amount of old bay, salt, and pepper. I turned off the heat and drizzled over the juice of half a lemon. It made eating a large plate of kale so incredibly easy.

I've made kale chips before, twice from Mama Pea's recipe. Hers is fairly involving (I do not have a dehydrator) but the results are worth it -- crispy kale pieces that are so flavorful and tasty, they are all gone that afternoon. I found a less time consuming recipe, and video, from KathEats and prepared it using different seasonings on each batch. I tried curry powder, nutritional yeast, old bay, and an italian seasoning blend. I think I liked the curry/nooch combo best. The flavor wasn't as intensified as Mama Pea's develops more with the tahini and other flavors, but these did the trick.

It's actually quite funny, I don't think I ever would have tried kale had I not decided to incorporate a vegan diet into my lifestyle. I really believe the blogging community has done a lot to share and make positive suggestions for people to get to know new things, whether it be techniques, foods, cuisines, or mechanisms  -- I currently have my eye on a pressure cooker...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

carrot cake madness!

Last week I invited my friends Natalie and Sasha over to experiment with more vegan baking. I guess experiment isn’t quite the word, seeing as I’ve become quite the seasoned vegan baker as of late, and that’s just what I’ve blogged about! Actually, I may (or may not) have baked every test recipe for the new HH book. I’ll have to post about my favorite recipes when the book is released at the end of the year! Until then, I hope you like carrot cake!
I didn’t always enjoy carrot cake. What drew me in was the cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting is my favorite frosting by a landslide. Sweet, creamy, and slightly tangy, it has been my favorite for some time. I’ve made cream cheese swirl brownies and iced many a cupcake with cream cheese spread. I’ve been pleased with the Tofutti product, although not really its ingredients list, the taste is fantastic and truly similar. At any rate, I’ve come to enjoy the taste of raisins, shredded carrots, and a mild cake flavor covered in creamy frosting.
I’ve amassed three distinctly different recipes over the past year or so and have yet to make a vegan carrot cake. I have made two vegan carrot cake pancake recipes, both of which were very good, but never an actual cake (or cupcakes). I decided to tackle all three one afternoon to determine the best! One disclaimer: I frosted them all per Mama Pea’s frosting recipe, although I did add the lemon zest in last to ice OSG’s.
Third Place: Angela (Oh She Glows) Carrot Cake Loaf (pictured in the loaf pan, naturally). Angela’s recipe was a brilliant combination of healthy flours (spelt and ww) with natural sweeteners. But the taste didn’t wow me. It also did not hold up very well over time. I had it covered/refrigerated and served it three days later, only to find it fairly dry. It went unfinished. This loaf may have been best served immediately, and I give her some props for the healthy recipe, but it was simply not the best.
Second Place: Lindsay (The Happy Herbivore) Carrot Cake Cupcakes (pictured as cupcakes in the zig-zag pattern). Lindsay has prided these as being one of her new most popular recipes from the HH cookbook. Always a fan for a fat-free dessert, I knew I needed to try these. When the time came, I finally examined the recipe and was fairly disappointed. One large carrot to make a dozen cupcakes? I felt as though these fell short in nutrition. I’m not looking to eat a salad in a dessert, but the other recipes really bulked up on the carrot count. Needless to say, these lacked in the taste department. There was not really enough discernable carrot flavor for me. I may have had to tell someone that tried them that they were actually carrot cake cupcakes. Nevertheless, they tasted very good, and not anywhere close to fat-free. Light, fluffy, and some added flavor from the spices. I would add two more carrots and definitely make these again.
First Place: Sarah (Peas & Thank You) Carrot Cake Squares (pictured in the 8x8 pan). Sarah’s take is most interesting seeing as she calls for the carrots to be steamed first and then blended. She garnered the most amount of carrots in her recipe and, in turn, the maximum carrot taste. But it wasn’t overwhelming, it was just right. I also enjoyed the raisins in her recipe. While she did use earth balance, it really made these decadent and not terribly caloric or fatty. I could serve these to an omnivore and they would have no idea they were vegan. She “take the cake”, so to speak. I have always had good fortune with her desserts.
My friends never got to try them as they needed to cool and we all had other plans before frosting. More cake for my co-workers and family friends!

Friday, April 29, 2011

VYY: Apple Cranberry Salad w/ Country Fried Seitan

I'm not a lover of seitan, if you can't quite remember. But I decided I would give it another shot. A new cookbook, a new method, and a new type of dish. Why not.

Ms. Ulm's Seitan recipe was not as involving as the one in V'con. Surprisingly it was a few ingredients to add, mix, braise, and then fry. I felt as though I was constantly boiling the other recipe, and this one advised against boiling as it would be "spongy and rubbery". Very interesting. She and Isa should have a seitan-off. I wouldn't want to attend that one, though.

I didn't like this one very much either. I liked the crispy texture, although you could fry anything and I'd probably enjoy it. I did not deep fry it as she suggested, rather I decided to shallow fry, and it was crisp and delicious. But I couldn't get over the texture of the seitan itself. It just doesn't have much flavor and is awkwardly chewy.

I did, however, take two different pictures. And I enjoyed the addition of fruits. The dressing was good as well, although too bitter for me. I added a teaspoon or two of agave to sweeten it up, it was almost a honey mustard dressing with some nuttiness from the almonds. If you like seitan, you'll probably like this recipe. It was a bit involving but the salad was well balanced with flavor, texture, color, and nutritional value.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

VYY: Sweet Chili Lime Tofu

Last night for dinner I did up some tofu. Love me some tofu. It's incredibly versatile and I love how the texture can get manipulated. I bought one of these guys a few months ago after I started seeing them everywhere. I haven't turned back since.

(I'm even pressing tofu right now for tonight!) Half an hour in this thing makes all the difference. I usually do at least an hour or two, even overnight if I remember. I highly recommend it. The Tofu Xpress is somewhat expensive, but if you make tofu about once a week like I do, you're bound to save time and plates/odd weights/whatever else you used to get all that water out of it.

The marinade is prepared to allow the flavors to blend before it blankets the tofu. Lime, red pepper flakes, garlic, tamari, and others are tossed together. Personally, when tasting it before and after, I felt as though it was missing ginger. Maybe I am just a ginger-holic now.

This recipe called for the tofu to be dry-fried first. This is a technique I am fairly familiar with -- you allow a pan to get very hot and sear the tofu on all sides. But the creative way that Lauren has you dice the tofu into these perfect little triangles is fantastic and makes for such a great texture. The pieces absorbed so much great flavor yet remained crisp. It is served on a bed of lime infused quinoa and collards (or in my case kale, and even Ms. Ulm says you can substitute!) that made for an awesome bowl of greens/grains over some really tasty tofu.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

VYY: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I've never baked bread before. Not once. Bread baking has been all the rage in the blogging world as of late. I've been meaning to make Jen's recipe for a few weeks now and Allie has sworn by baking her own bread as well. When I opened VYY and realized I had Sunday off work for Easter, I knew I had the perfect opportunity.


Oh well. It was delicious. My family raved about it. It's gone, btw.

The recipe itself was pretty labor intensive. I felt like it took my whole day, although it was almost entirely inactive. I will probably bake it again though, it was that good and not too difficult. The pages looked a little daunting, but I would recommend it. The instructions and immense amount of helpful photographs made it easy. I don't own a bread-maker but felt confident that my bread would turn out great. And it did.

Do you make bread? What's your favorite recipe?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

VYY: Blueberry Waffles with Lemon Icing

Doesn't the recipe in the title just sound fantastic? I couldn't resist. Nope. Not havin' it!

Vegan Yum Yum is the new book selected for The Vegan Cookbook Club. I am already a pretty big fan of this book. The recipes are fairly creative and interesting, but "doable". Some require many steps/pages but aren't too bad. I'm not sure all of them are every day, but the majority of them certainly are. I love the layout of the book with its colorful pages, fonts, and pictures. But enough about this beautiful book...I'll talk it up in about a month or so for a full review.

I'm a big fan of breakfast. I go up and down about it, but in the end, it's a meal I love. As of late I've been doing a juice or smoothie and then some toast and yogurt. When I have the time (i.e. a day off, which I get usually 2-3 per week) I like to make something a little more labor intensive. Sometimes that's HH's super easy French Toast. When I get tired of that, I like to get some new flavors in. I turned to this wonderful plate.

Gorgeous, right? The icing was easy and I garnished the plate with fresh blueberries. I'm not even a blueberry lover and I ate two of those with ease. The waffles weren't exactly light and fluffy, but they weren't super dense either. They were somewhere in between. If you are an "I NEED MY WAFFLES TO BE THIN AS AIR" type of person, you'll probably want to mix these delicately in order to achieve that consistency. I, however, am very content with a somewhat crisp waffle.

Simply beautiful. You can say that again!

Do you like to mix up your everyday breakfast with something snazzy on an off day?