Posts Tagged With: vegan

Vegan Blog Challenge 2013, Week 4: FatFree Vegan

When I was first starting to dabble in vegan cooking 4-ish years ago, my husband found some recipe on FatFree Vegan he wanted me to try. I have no idea now what it was. I do remember trying her macaroni and cheese recipe and not particularly liking it. But I have a feeling it was due to using, oh, vanilla soy milk. I was a total newbie to all of this, after all.

A few weeks ago when I was browsing the blogs chosen for the challenge and deciding what I wanted to make, this blog had tons of stuff that appealed to me. I had a list of 13 recipes I would potentially try (including a second try at the mac and cheese), and these are the ones I’ve ended up doing.

Pineapple Coffee Cake

Pineapple Coffee Cake

Pineapple Coffee Cake

I cut the sugar in half since it had sugar sprinkled on top, and it was plenty sweet. And, of course, there was no oil. It was a really yummy cake and definitely something I’d make again.

Curried Chickpeas and Kale

Curried Chickpeas and Kale

Curried Chickpeas and Kale

On a whim I made a double batch of this. I did mostly kale (dino and Russian), but I also used a couple gigantic collard leaves and some broccoli greens. Astounding how much greens cook down. As I was putting in the seasonings, the cardamom smelled SO overpowering and I was all, “I’m NOT going to like this,” – but ya know, it wasn’t really noticeable while actually eating it. It was there but it was fine. I liked it a lot – sauteed greens are the only way I can really get much greenery into me that’s not lettuce or spinach – and so did Mr Pine Nut. I ate it on toast and it was very nice. I’m not sure it’s something that’ll go onto my regular menu rotation, but it was definitely great to have a good curry flavour without a bunch of heat.

Cherry Chocolate Mousse Pie

I was a little amused at the comment that chocolate mousse is the first dessert new vegan cooks master. For me that wasn’t true. I had no trouble at all veganising all my old favourite cookie recipes with margarine and Ener-G egg replacer in the early days of my veg cooking, so I was on a roll with that. I have no clue what my first non-cookie vegan dessert would have been, but it wasn’t chocolate mousse (or wacky cake). In fact, I’ve never *had* chocolate mousse in my life, vegan or otherwise. My mom used to make chocolate pie and I turned up my nose at it (I know, what was my PROBLEM?)

So I guess it’s high time I tuck the experience of VEGAN CHOCOLATE MOUSSE under my belt. This was a ridiculously simple recipe to make and it is SO DELICIOUS. Intensely chocolatey. I didn’t have agave, so I used dilute molasses with a little white sugar thrown in, and I added a pinch of salt just because I was worried that there was none called for. I used a chocolate graham cracker crust and it’s so, so yummy. Did I mention it’s awesome? BECAUSE IT IS. I may or may not have eaten a quarter of the pie after lunch today.

Oh, and it was gone before I could take a picture.

Mac and trees

Mac and trees

As for the mac and cheese, I tried that again today. I had it as mac and trees, with some random broccoli Mr Pine Nut had picked and left on the counter. I liked it much better than I remember liking it before. My own mac and cheese recipe is still my preferred, but as she says, we’ve all got our favourite.

Finally, I made the seitan veggeroni. 

Seitan Veggeroni

Seitan Veggeroni

It’s delicious and very spicy, at least the slice I had. I can’t wait to make a pizza with it.

All in all, I am super happy with everything I’ve tried on this blog. I plan to come back and use some of these again as well as try new ones.

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Categories: challenges, vegan blog challenge 2013 | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

From Early Death to Corrosion by Spinach

Some people become vegan because they watch those horrifying videos of animals being sliced and diced to death. Other people do it for health reasons. Other people marry vegans.

Plant Life On My Plate

Waiter, There’s Plant Life On My Plate

I really rather hesitate to use the term “vegan” for myself, so perhaps I should clarify something right off the bat. When I do call myself “vegan”, it’s according to the Adventist definition of the word, not the ethical/activist definition. It just means I avoid meat, dairy, and eggs, or in perhaps more accurate terms, it’s a plant-based diet. I have no issues with eating honey or wearing leather shoes at this point in my life.  I should also clarify that I do not STRICTLY follow a plant-based diet; I do occasionally take in some dairy or eggs at other people’s houses or potlucks, or because I’m pregnant and my aversions are all across the board. But I don’t eat meat. I’ve been completely off that now for close to a year and have NO interest in going back.

So how did all this come about?

When I was going through tech school in my early twenties, I worked at a pizza place for a while. One of my coworkers was vegetarian. I would gag every time he’d make us workers a pizza because it would be “corroded with spinach”, and in turn he called my favourite pizza “Early Death”. I loved meat, and the “Early Death” was corroded with it: pepperoni, sausage, beef crumbles, and Canadian bacon, and I liked adding bacon bits on top of that. I quipped back that someone had to make up for all the meat he wasn’t eating. I didn’t like eating “leaves and green things” and frequently informed people I was a plants rights activist and therefore would rather not eat veggies.

Later on I graduated tech school and moved out on my own for the first time. At that time I decided I was going to stop eating the animals that were Biblically declared unclean, but that still left plenty of options open, and I still loved my meat. Large, luscious cheeseburgers. Fish. Oh yummy. Fish and chips. Fried chicken from Applebees. That chicken sandwich from Arby’s. Omnomnom. Arby’s was tantalisingly close to my job, too.

When I met my husband, I was dismayed to find out he was vegan. Was he going to expect me to be one too? Me, the meat-lover extraordinaire? I have many memories of our early dating days that revolve around food. I wanted to make food he’d enjoy, but his ideas about making food were alien to mine. Not only was I a meat girl, I was a recipe girl. While he would just pull stuff out of the fridge and throw it in a pan and make deliciousness, I would be faced by all these veggies and not know what to do with them except make a salad or something.

Time went by and, me being the impressionable sort, his ways began to rub off on me. He managed to squick me out so much by referring to the “lumps of dead animal flesh” in my freezer that my luscious hamburgers would go untouched for weeks until I stopped gagging at his terminology, and I learned to season food by smelling the seasonings, and I could make spaghetti sauce and stir fry that met his approval.

And time went by and I discovered that actually going without meat wasn’t as hard as I thought, although I still jumped at any opportunity to wolf down a bird or a fish or even a buffalo burger if given half a chance.

But it wasn’t until we’d been married about two years that I became fully convinced in my own mind that I would have better health without consumption of animal flesh and decided I was done eating dead animals.

It is true that you learn to like what you eat – or, at the very least, tolerate it. I’m still not in love with spinach, for instance, but I eat it because it’s there, and in the proper context it can be quite palatable. (I still decline to corrode my pizzas with it, though.) The endless array of what you can do with plant-based foods is a dazzling, exciting world, and meat seems so boring in comparison now.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, what’s your story? What prompted you? How is it going for you? Have you felt positive health impacts from your choice?

[Just a note: I’m going to be doing a food post every second Wednesday now instead of weekly. I may be beginning to fill in the alternate weeks with new topics, or I may just leave them blank. Getting ready for baby in a few months and so I’m wanting to not spend quite as much time on the blog! If I do pursue alternate topics, is there anything YOU would especially be interested in?]

Categories: Mrs Pine Nut | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Cookbook Review: Of These Ye May Freely Eat

I had the notion that it might be nice to do reviews of all the cookbooks I regularly use in my kitchen, so every few weeks or so I’ll probably highlight one for you. I’m going to start with the first all-vegan cookbook I ever had that I consider to be a staple now.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 4.24.57 PMIt’s a very small book: 96 pages. It has about 250 recipes in it, and most of them are extremely simple and call for very basic, easily accessible ingredients. It’s a great resource either for new vegans or people who aren’t yet very comfortable in the kitchen at all and need simple recipes to start with.

The author, Joanne Rachor, opens the book with her story of how she began her journey toward a healthier diet. Other helpful features of the book are bread baking/pizza making tips and information, how to make sprouts, how to dry a wide variety of foods including soups, camping/travelling tips, and miscellaneous other interesting diet facts and nutrition tidbits.

I have made nowhere nearly all the recipes in the book, but have enjoyed most of what I have tried. Some favourites of mine are the Soy Oat Waffle, Oat Crackers (I couldn’t quit eating those!), Basic Cheese Sauce (I use this all the time, and there are LOTS of variations to try!), Macaroni and Cheese, and White Sauce. Other recipes I’ve used as a springboard and adapted on the fly.

Oh. And one indispensable piece of equipment you’ll need for many of these recipes is a blender. Sometime I’d like to do a post about blenders, but I need to do some more research first.

My main complaint about the book is – no pictures. I like pictures. However, considering its cheapness and compact format (you really can’t beat the price, at $2.95), I’ve been able to make do without pictures.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, you can get it through Amazon here.

You can also visit Joann Rachor’s YouTube channel here for some video recipes and tutorials.

Categories: Cookbook Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Delicious Homemade Bread Anyone Can Bake

Someone once said:

If girls were taught how to cook, especially how to make good bread, their education would be of far greater value.

(Boys can benefit too!)

Now, how about a recipe using delicious grainy goodness?

I’ve had a lot of issues making bread. Most people have. But because I usually can’t bring myself to shell out $4 or more for a loaf of bread that’s actually reasonably healthy, I’ve made it myself. With endless issues. It sank. Or it was gooey. Or it felt like I should sell it to the third little pig for his house. You name it, it’s happened to me. I tried all the recipes friends and family would throw at me and checked out book after book from the library, and while I’d occasionally get a freak good result, the frustration and failure was monumental. I gave up for a long time and my husband took over the breadmaking for several months.

UNTIL I BEGAN USING THIS RECIPE, and I have never had a failed loaf of bread since (even though I continued on to modify it slightly, because that’s how I roll).

The measurements in black text make 1 loaf. The numbers in red are a double recipe for 2 loaves. I recommend making just one loaf for starters.

Ingredients:
1.5 (3) c warm water (if you’re going by a thermometer, 105-115 degrees; I just stick my finger in it)
1.5 (3) Tbsp sweetener of choice – agave, honey, or sugar
1.5 (3) Tbsp yeast
1/4 c (3/4c) ground flaxseed (optional)
1.5 (3) Tbsp olive oil
1.5 (3) tsp salt
1.5 (3) c white flour or (3/4 c) gluten flour
3-4.5 (6-9) c whole wheat flour

Instructions:
Place warm water in a large bowl. Add yeast and sweetener and whisk to dissolve yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes, until you see the yeast bubbling and frothing rabidly on top of the water. (This is called proofing the yeast, to make sure it’s alive and functional.)

Yeast and sugar

Here is my yeast with three blops of brown sugar.

Whisked Up

Now I’ve added the 3 cups of warm water and whisked it up.

Frothing Yeastiness

IT’S ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE

Add flaxseed, oil, and salt. Add the white flour and stir 1-2 minutes. This will help develop the gluten to make a light loaf of bread.

Flaxseed, oil, and salt

Adding in my ground flaxseed, oil (corn oil in this case), and salt.

Add remaining whole wheat flour about a cup at a time until you can handle the dough without it sticking to your hands. [I don’t really count the cups I put in; I just add until it feels right, because it seems to vary depending on weather and temperature and other factors.]

Knead the dough in the bowl or on a floured surface for 5-10 minutes. Add flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to your hands. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a clean, damp towel, and let rise in a warm place approximately an hour until doubled. [Just keep an eye on it, because I find it often will double long before an hour hits, and you want to not let the yeast die out. 30-45 minutes is usually what I do.]

Stirring

Stirring in my flour

Kneaded lump

It’s all kneaded and ready to rise. (Yes, the picture is blurry. I have lousy lighting conditions in my current place of abode.)

Punch down the risen dough and knead a little to work out air bubbles. Shape into a loaf (or two loaves) (or divide dough into 12-16 equal blobs and shape into buns!) and place in oiled bread pan (or cookie sheets for buns). Cover with towel again and let rise 30 minutes approximately, until nearly doubled. Preheat the oven to 350 during this time. [It will continue to rise the first minute or so in the hot oven, sometimes quite dramatically!]

First Rising

After rising for a while, it’s ready to punch down and shape into loaves!

Division

Here I’ve cut the blob of dough in two equal parts.

Rolling out the air bubbles

You can squish the bubbles out by hand if you like; I usually roll it out and then roll it up tightly.

Second rise

In the loaf pans ready to rise the second time.

After rising

Ready to go into the oven to bake!

Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, until golden brown and sounding hollow when tapped on the bottom. [After about 30 minutes, I take the loaf out of the pan and just put it right on the oven rack for another 10 minutes or so. This gets a good crust on the bottom and seems to help keep the bread from being soggy.] (Buns usually go 20-25 minutes, and you can just turn them upside down on the cookie sheets to crisp up the bottom.) Cool on a cooling rack.

All done!

Out of the oven, cooling on a cooling rack!

I also let the bread sit out at least overnight before putting it away. 24 hours would be ideal. It really cures it nicely.

In my next post, I’ll share some substitutionary ideas you can try out once you’ve mastered the plain template above!

Categories: around the kitchen, bread, nut-free, recipes, soy-free, vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Every Blog Has to Have a First Post: Baked Oatmeal

21 years ago, on a dusky November evening, my family pulled into the driveway of some friends, who opened their home to us our first few days in our new state of Idaho while we found a place to live. This family loves to socialise, and they love food, and many of my favourite memories involve times at their house.

The next morning we were welcomed to consciousness by the warm loveliness of something I’d never encountered before in all my seven and a half years: baked oatmeal. It was love at first taste.

I have, over the years, made modifications to the original recipe so that I have a vegan version. (I’m not hardcore vegan, but prefer it on the whole, so much of what you see on this blog will reflect that.) How many does it serve? Well, my husband and I can clear out the entire pan in one breakfast. We are rather voracious consumers of foody goodness.

Baked Oatmeal

Warm, luscious breakfasty goodness.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

2 whole eggs, beaten (vegans: substitute 4 T water mixed with 2 T ground flaxseed)
½ cup honey (or agave, or just substitute water if you’d rather not have sweetener)
1 cup milk (soy, rice, cocoanut, whatever)
½ cup melted butter (Nucoa margarine or olive oil)
3 cups rolled oats (other rolled grains can be used, or gluten-free oats!)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed (fresh berries and any kind of berry can be substituted)

Beat the eggs. Stir in honey. Add milk and melted butter or oil.

Add dry ingredients. Stir in blueberries last.

Put into an ungreased 13×9 pan and bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes. It should look nicely browned on top without being burned. Serve warm, with milk of choice.

***

Make this version first, and then try the following if they appeal to you: substitute applesauce for half the oil; throw in some cocoanut or finely chopped nuts.

Categories: breakfast, gluten-free, nut-free, recipes, soy-free, vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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