Monthly Archives: May 2013

Hiatus

I am really, really mentally and physically exhausted right now and keeping up the blog on a weekly basis is just not working for me. I have a lot of posts in the “almost ready to go” phase that I just haven’t had the energy to finish preparing, and this makes me sad.

I plan to be back. I just don’t know when, but I hope it will be soon. I just need to clear off my to-do list anything that’s not immediately essential for a while, while I try to get my mind back in good working order and myself out of constant stress mode.

So, until we meet again… have a lovely summerspring!

Categories: recipes | 4 Comments

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Herbed Roasted Potatoes in Cheezy Sauce

For my contribution to this potluck, I chose to make a potato dish, because one Cannot Go Wrong with potatoes. And this is super easy to put together, and also very tasty.

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You can see I had a whole meal of sides when I tested these potatoes. 🙂 Yum.

Begin with:
5 cups red potatoes, skins on, diced into roughly 1″ cubes (you could use russets, but I tested both and the textural results were much better with the red potatoes)

Bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

In a bowl, combine:
2 1/2 T white flour
2 T nutritional yeast
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp basil
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp garlic powder

Stir in:
1 T veggie oil
1 1/4 c water

Whisk together until smooth and no lumps remain. Pour into a sprayed 2-qt casserole dish and stir in potatoes to coat.

Roast at 350 for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until golden brown and easily pierced with a butter knife.

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Return to previous dish * On to the next dish * Start over again at the beginning

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Categories: lunch, recipes, side dish, soy-free, vegan, virtual vegan potluck | Tags: , , , , , | 26 Comments

Cookbook Review: More Peas, Thank You

I got this book free via the Amazon Vine program. I had heard of the Peas and Thank You blog from a friend, but had never visited it, and really my only thought was, “Hey, free cookbook, and it’s already vegan.”

It arrived and immediately I fell in love. I have never gotten a cookbook and been so fixated on trying recipe after recipe. What’s the appeal?

Well, firstly, she uses ingredients that are readily available, and that I generally have on hand. The recipes are also pretty healthy, with lots of use of whole wheat flour and cutting back on fats, even in the desserts.

Secondly, the book is really colourful with pictures of almost every single recipe. I find food photography stimulating in a cookbook.

So, what have I tried from this cookbook? Here’s the rundown.

Breakfast Category:

Strawberry Multigrain Cereal Bars: I’ve tried several different variants of this concept now from different sources: press in a crust, spread on jam, crumble remaining crust on top. The one I grew up with is still my favourite. However, this one has considerably less fat and sugar in it. It was really good and GooGoo loved it too.

Oatmeal Cookie Granola: Very good. I can’t say that “oatmeal cookie” was really my first thought, though, probably because of the abundance of (tasty) roasty almonds. However, I enjoyed it.

PB&J Smoothies: Interesting. GooGoo wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole after the first taste. As it ends up, I fail at reading directions and it said not to add the salt if using salted peanut butter, and so we ended up with a sort of salty smoothie. At any rate, not in a big hurry to try this one again.

Tempeh Bacon: I just heart vegan bacon. Usually I do the gluten bacon bits, but this was super yum. I made French toast to eat with it.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins: I only had enough cream cheese to do half a batch with the cream cheese topping. So we had 6 plain ones and six with the filling, and I guess I actually liked the plain ones better. I couldn’t really taste the cream cheese and it was extremely sticky and messy. I think were I to make these again I’d just do it without the cream cheese, and reduce the nutmeg a touch as well. They tasted loads better when my friend made them, but she said she added a little oil.

Cherry Oat Scones

Cherry Oat Scones

Cherry Oat Scones: These were AMAZING. We snarfed them all up very quickly for supper. I made a double batch the second time and they all disappeared into our tummies except for two.

Peach Cornmeal Muffins: These probably would have been pretty good except that I decided to use my new-to-me muffin tin from the thrift store. I HAD washed it, but apparently not thoroughly enough, because the oven, the house, yea verily the muffins themselves, were all infused with this absolutely vile scent and taste of STALE USED MUFFIN TIN.

Sometime I’ll have to try it again sans stale used muffin tin.

Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins

Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins

Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins: Mmm. I lack a jumbo muffin tin, so I went to the opposite end of the spectrum and made this as mini muffins. I cut pineapple slices into eighths, so I needed 3 slices to fill 24 muffin cups, and I topped with maraschino cherries chopped into eighths as well. Delectable.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: I wouldn’t say these are “to die for”. We found them a bit dry. I really want to try adapting my own cinnamon roll recipe with the same spices and pumpkin, though.

Snacks, Sides, and Sauces:

Pizza Popcorn: I think this is the only recipe I’ve actually just plain not liked. I’m pretty sure it has to do with my iffy relationship with nooch, and I think were I to do it again I’d use almond parmesan instead of straight nooch for the cheesy flavour. And probably not bother baking it.

Then again, Mr Pine Nut has a very happy relationship with nooch, and he didn’t like it either.

Cocoanut Rice: This had promise, but something seems amiss in the directions. I felt like it needed more liquid and longer cooking time. I don’t know if regular brown rice is drastically different from jasmine brown rice? Anyway, it was still really chewy after cooking for the designated time and I’m going to have to add more liquid and cook what was leftover some more to be really edible.

Cracklin’ Cauliflower: I love curry tremendously… but these were a little too spicy for me and therefore definitely not something either Mr Pine Nut or GooGoo cared for. But I liked the texture of the roasted cauliflower (roasting veggies is kind of a new thing to me) and I think with slightly less spice I’d enjoy it more.

Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches:

Tofu Noodle Soup

Tofu Noodle Soup

Tofu Noodle Soup: I realised as I was making this that it’s supposed to be like Chicken Noodle Soup, except, well, tofu. It was good. It calls for cubed baked tofu but no instructions for how to bake tofu, and I hadn’t time to look it up, so I cubed it up and threw it in the oven at 350 and turned it once and it got this awesome texture. Next time, though, I’ll marinate it in some salt/mock chicken seasoning first, because the flavourless-ness was a little much. But otherwise, the soup was fantastic.

Green and White Bean Chili: I made this for company. I did a double batch and used 1 jar of Herdez salsa verde because I was in a hurry and fresh out of tomatillos. That’s less than a doubled batch would actually have called for (I think, I can’t do math), and it was pretty hot. None of the kids were really fond of it based on how much got left in their bowls. I liked it, though. It’s possible that the Salsa Verde recipe in the book isn’t nearly as hot as the Herdez stuff. One of these days I’ll try it – soon, I hope, because I love green salsa.

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar: We ate this over baked potatoes, and it was super yummy. (I subbed lemon juice for the vinegar as per my usual.) I also made it with garbanzo beans once – delish.

Even the cat approved of Cowboy Caviar.

Even the cat approved of Cowboy Caviar.

Dinners:

Tempeh Tamale Pie

Tempeh Tamale Pie

Tempeh Tamale Pie: This was a little iffy in my book. I’m not sure if my cornmeal was bad, or what it was, but it tasted really off to me. My friend made it and liked it a lot. So who knows. It was really pretty, though, and my first attempt at a tamale pie that actually has the cornbread on the top.

Roasted Chickpea Tacos: Yum and a hit with the company to whom I served them.

Black-eyed Pea Patties

Black-eyed Pea Veggie Burgers

Black-eyed Pea Veggie Burgers: As I was perusing this book on receipt of it, I noticed a few of the recipes called for black-eyed peas. As luck would have it, we had none in the house either canned or dried, but our local Thriftway happened to have cans of them for 69 cents a piece in their discard carts.

Desserts:

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookie Dough Balls: Turned out nothing like the ones in the picture, although they tasted pretty good. Mine came out very very flat.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: These also came out really flat and rather fragile, but OH were they tasty. I did half raisins, half chocolate chips.

Apple Cider Doughnuts: I don’t have a doughnut pan, so I did it in mini muffin pans. When I tasted one still warm from the oven I was not impressed. They tasted really weird to me, like I’d accidentally put in too much of one of the spices, and I was bummed. But then after they were cool I tried them again and they were really awesome. So I don’t know what was up with that, but at any rate, I will definitely make these again.

Blueberry Doughnuts: These are interesting because the blueberries get blended up, so there’s no worry about blueberries sticking to the pan. Very tasty and a hit with all three of us. Well, four, if you count Lou Who trying to get to them, even though she’s still too little for muffins.

***

In summation: I really like this cookbook, and I’m looking forward to trying more of the recipes out of it. I highly recommend it as an introduction to meatless cuisine. If you’d like to get a copy for yourself (and you really should!) there is both a paperback version and a kindle version.

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Categories: Cookbook Review | Tags: | 2 Comments

Literary Post: Farmer Boy. Keeping House. Pound Cake.

I got a set of Little House books, paperback with the solid sky-blue binding, when I was seven. I deemed the first book “babyish” and “stupid”. My friend Edda tried to sell me on it: “But it’s so neat! They go spend Christmas with their cousins!”

Eh, thought I. Cousins are NO BIG DEAL. I only had one at that time in my life, and he was considerably younger and considerably far away. (These days I have to admit Edda had grounds to speak with some expertise on the awesomeness of cousins, however, having quite a horde of them herself.)

No, I was far more interested in the gruesome idea of putting one’s mouth on a pig bladder and blowing it up like a balloon. Aside from that, Little House in the Big Woods held little appeal for me.

The third one, Farmer Boy, I had no interest in, either. It was a BOY story, about BOYS, and surely it was therefore BORING. But finally I read it and it immediately became my favourite in the series, and I think it still is (though Little Town on the Prairie is awfully close.)

The entire series talks about food a lot. I have to admit, most of the food doesn’t appeal to me at all, but I felt I could hardly do a literary food series without giving some sort of nod to the Little House books. Pickled watermelon rinds were out. Salt pork was out, and blown-up pig bladders definitely out.

And then I remembered this:

That day they made ice-cream again, and they ate the last cake. Alice said she knew how to make a pound-cake. She said she’d make one, and then she was going to go sit in the parlor. Almanzo thought that wouldn’t be any fun. […boring paragraph where Eliza Jane tells Alice not to sit in the parlor, blah blah blah…]

That afternoon he came into the kitchen to see if the pound cake was done. Alice was taking it out of the oven. It smelled so good that he broke a little piece off the corner. Then Alice cut a slice to hide the broken place, and then they ate two more slices with the last of the ice-cream.

(My friend graciously typed the quote up for me, since my own copy of the book is currently in storage. I left her bracketed comment in because it amused me.)

I decided to experiment with the notion of pound cake in the sense that the Wilders would most likely have eaten it: the 1:1:1:1 ration of butter, flour, sugar, and eggs. I tried it first with flax eggs, and that was a gooey, strange piece of denseness. I tried it the second time with Ener-G Egg Replacer. It was still fairly gooey, but extremely tasty. The third and final time I added a little baking powder just to lighten it up and make it less gooey.

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So, here are the weights (quarter-pound of each of the main ingredients) converted to cups, because I hate weighing, and in the event you do too, this makes it easier for everyone. 🙂

1 stick vegan margarine
1/2 c sugar
7 T water
2 1/4 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder

Cream together margarine and sugar. Add water and egg replacer and beat together. Add flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix until incorporated.

Bake at 350 in a greased mini loaf pan for 55-60 minutes. Toothpick should come out clean.

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The end result: It’s still not the light-fluffy-lemony pound cake we’re all familiar with today. However, it’s got a really lovely flavour and a nice tender texture that would be perfect for eating with fresh berries in the summertime.

Kind of like shortcake.

Maybe even with… ice cream.

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Categories: book-inspired food, dessert, nut-free, recipes, vegan | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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