Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake or VeganMoFo Day 24

I've blogged about my friend, Kris before and the amazing cakes she bakes. She is a big reason why my kids have vegan cake at most of the birthday parties we attend. She is incredibly talented. For you locals, you may want to check out her new website. (Even for non-locals, take a look and drool.) I highly recommend you contact Kris for your next cake worthy event. She doesn't just make vegan cakes, but I guarantee if you buy a vegan cake your guests won't know the difference.

Now I'm trying to think up a good reason to have her make a cake...maybe my birthday. It is coming up soon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Quick Red Bean Dal or Vegan MoFo Day 23

Sunday night after the kids went to bed, I made Carrot Bisque from Vegan with a Vengeance again because I'm so in love. I used the other curry powder this time and it was not as hot, even when I accidentally dumped what was left in the soup. The kids liked it better this time, but that could just be a second time around type thing. I also made some quinoa to go with it and that was really a great combo. The kids and I ate it all Monday and Tuesday and didn't leave any for Rob. Parker asked for baked tofu sandwiches for lunch on Monday with leftover risotto so I made baked tofu Sunday night as I made the bisque. Mondays are kind of busy with homeschooling activities and this Monday Rob had a ceremony to go to at the local high school for a teenager he tutors and I had a WEFT board meeting, so it takes a little prep time the night before. I don't have pictures of any of this, sadly, because it was such a busy day.
I did take a pick of dinner last night which was Quick Red Bean Dal from Robin (Vegan Planet fame...I've mentioned the Vegan Planet cookbook quite often on this blog). Robin has a new cookbook out called Vegan Fire and Spice (it is on my wish list, hint hint) and she generously shared this recipe on her blog. This dal is quick and simply good. Josie couldn't stop eating it while I was cooking. Parker had two servings this size served over brown rice...good thing I made a double batch! The kids asked for a smoothie when they saw kale in the fridge, but Rob insisted the kale was too good for a smoothie and made garlicky kale instead which made them just as happy. I used the leftovers of the today for lunch over leftover whole wheat pasta for a chili mac type dish. Simple, quick, hearty, and warm!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pepper Pizza or VeganMoFo Day 22

Sunday night was pizza night since we had some leftover sauce from pasta and thawed out pizza dough from the co-op. Rob decided to saute some peppers to go along with our normal carrots and kalamata olives. He also picked some fresh basil from our neighbor's garden while picking up the kids for dinner. It made a super yummy pizza. Too bad I only have an iPhone pic because both my "real" cameras are out of commission.

We have decided Rob will make pizza dough on the weekend for us to use during the week because it just tastes so much better to use homemade dough and Rob is the dough guy around here. The boys can eat an entire pizza on their own (and Parker ate some of ours as well) so we are becoming a three pizza family with Josie eating her share.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oktoberfest or Vegan MoFo Day 21

My dad's birthday was Thursday, but I had the 40N 88W ACE Awards Thursday night (no, I am not an artist, but I was a judge this year for the awards and they like the judges to be at the event). I have to say that it was a lot of fun being a judge and I was impressed by all the people, businesses, organizations which are worthy of an award for work in the arts in our little town. 40N 88W is a great group and promotes art in this area. WEFT 90.1 FM was a ACE award winner in 2006 and I'm on the board of directors at WEFT so that is how I was asked to be a judge. Both organizations are great groups and worthy of volunteer and financial support as we enter the "season of giving". While Rob and I were at the ACE awards (it was kind of fun to go out just the two of us dressed up a bit...we need to do this more often), my sister Karen and her boyfriend came over and watched the kids. Karen, ever the fun aunt, brought several pumpkins and all the stuff to carve them with and the kids had a grand time carving pumpkins.
I saved the pumpkin seeds and toasted them the next day (put some olive oil and tamari on the seeds and baked them around 250 degrees until they smelled done). The seeds were great, but it got me wondering why the raw pumpkin seeds we buy in the store are green and these are white until you roast them...of course this is because we buy hulled pumpkin seeds in the store, but I did ask a couple people before it came to me and they didn't know the answer either so I don't feel so bad. Why should you eat pumpkin seeds? Pumpkin seeds have Protein, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, and Manganese (nutritional analysis here). They are super tasty and fun to eat especially this time of year.
Anyway, I invited my dad to our neighborhood potluck today to celebrate his birthday since we didn't see him on his actual birthday. Rob made what I have deemed Rob's Risotto, I made Mac-Oh Geez from Dreena's blog (except with pumpkin seeds and walnuts as topping instead of bread crumbs) and Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Struesel (except I used walnuts) from Veganomicon. The doughnut is from a friend of Rob's who is in town from Portland and very, very sweetly brought Rob a dozen vegan donuts from Voodoo Doughnut. Parker wanted to share the dozen doughnuts with his friends, but I said that we should just eat them all ourselves because his friends wouldn't understand the value of a vegan doughnut flown all the way from Portland, OR. I know, I'm an awful mom to keep the child from being generous, but come on...these are precious vegan doughnuts we are talking about.
Rob had to leave the potluck early because he messed up his neck. He slept wrong a couple nights ago and hurt his neck and it was finally getting better and then he took the kids on the weekly shopping. Dema accidentally pulled the shopping cart over while he was trying to help get the food out and Josie was in the cart. Rob lunged to save Josie and hurt his neck again pretty severely. Josie and Dema were both fine. It was a little chilly and I felt bad for Rob, but it the potluck was a lot of fun and the food was great. We really are lucky to have great family, friends, and neighbors.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Golden Potato and Tempeh Casserole or VeganMoFo Day 20

I've blogged about FatFree Vegan's Golden Potato and Tempeh before. I've used tempeh and tofu and we liked them equally (well, the kids preferred the tofu). This time I didn't like the flavor of the tempeh as well (it was a different brand (Soy Boy) and a little strong tasting for me). I don't know if I did something different, but it was good just not quite as good. Next time I will use tofu or use our normal brand of tempeh.20 days of vegan food...done! Whew! That was fun so I'll try to keep it up, but I don't know if I can manage 20 posts a month. We shall see. I will at least keep it going the rest of October. (Cheering and applause.)

Last week I shopped more than our usual Saturday shopping so I tried to make it last through this week. I made it until Thursday and just had to buy some apples, bread, and a couple other things. It does feel good to use what is around and not run to the store on every whim. We end up spending less and it makes mealtime interesting as we get to the end of the week. I like thinking more about our shopping choices. We still have a lot of room to improve, but it feels good to be more and more deliberate and not take food for granted while still enjoying what we eat.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Carrot Bisque or Vegan MoFo Day 19

Every once in a while you make something and you think to yourself, "How have I lived this long without eating this before?" or at least I do. The Carrot Bisque from Vegan with a Vengeance is one of those dishes for me. Really, where has this bisque been all my life? I've owned Vegan with a Vengeance since it came out, I sell it in my store, and I have never made this...for shame! It is love at first bite.
For added pleasure, this soup is very easy to make, especially if you have children. Dema peeled the carrots while Parker diced them so it came together in no time at all with a little help from my favorite kitchen gadget...my immersion blender. We made tomato sandwiches with the rest of the tomatoes our neighbors gave us and called it a meal. I will be buying and growing carrots just for this soup.

If you have kids or don't like spicy food, you might want to go easy on the curry. Rob brought home two curries a couple months ago from a local international store and said something like "this curry is really spicy and this is normal spicy", but I didn't really pay attention and I sure as heck didn't mark them so I have no idea which is which. We like spicy so it is not an issue, but I could see how some people would find this soup a little on the hot side...it may be my particular curry though. I don't think I have to sell anyone out there that carrots are good for ya, but just in case here is the nutritional analysis. Carrots have Vitamin A (duh), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Manganese, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium. When I was a kid, I would only eat raw carrots and never cooked. Thank goodness I got over that, especially since there is some evidence that eating carrots cooked helps the body absorb more the nutrients. Raw or cooked, orange, red, purple, yellow, white, or black, carrots are yummy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta or VeganMoFo Day 18

We were playing at the park Monday afternoon and our neighbor Vicky was gardening. She asked if we wanted any herbs because she was cutting hers back in order to take them inside. I was happy to take some off her hands and ended up with an arm-full of wonderful herbs. As the day progressed, we received tomatoes from two more neighbors (Margie and Deborah) so dinner materialized right before my eyes...Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta.
I've blogged about this dish several times before so what are you waiting for? This might be your last chance to have fresh tomatoes and basil for several months. Why should you eat basil? Did you know basil has Protein, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper, and Manganese (nutritional analysis here)? Basil comes in a lot of different varieties, is easy to grow (even inside), and tastes great. I used two different types of basil in this dish. Josie likes to eat the basil leaves right off the plant. The kids like this dish, especially Josie, she gives it a lick smacking endorsement.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pasta with Esme Sauce and Great Friends or VeganMofo Day 17

Mondays we have a homeschooling group which also eats lunch together so I ask the kids on Sunday what they would like to take for lunch. This week Parker requested whole wheat pasta with Esme Sauce and Garlic Bread Topping (which everyone in the family calls "crunchies") and a baked tofu sandwich. I just made an extra amount (1/2 cup of each of the ingredients) of Esme Sauce Sunday night and used some of it to bake the tofu. When I don't won't to do dishes, I serve Esme Sauce because it is quick and easy and the family licks their plates clean (I really do wash the dishes anyway, promise).
Parker always requests peas when we eat Esme Sauce. They go well together, but it is also good with broccoli or any other green veggie of your choice.

Garlic Bread Topping (or Crunchies):
1 tablespoon olive oil (you may want more)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I've made it without bread crumbs...the pumpkin seeds and walnuts are the important part, in my opinion)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pumpkin seeds
red pepper flakes to taste

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet on low/medium low heat, add the garlic and saute for couple minutes then add the remaining ingredients and mix together and serve over pasta (or if you are like Rob just eat it with left over sauce and don't wait for any pasta).

The weekend was jam packed with lot of fun and good food, but no pictures. We went to a friend's second birthday party Saturday late afternoon and everyone had so much fun and I drooled over my friend, Susan's kitchen. The food was great and most of it vegan! Parker had two plate fulls of food before they served the birthday cake (made by the famous and uber-talented Kris and again it was vegan...we've been to 3 birthday parties in the last couple weeks and they have all had a beautiful vegan cake by Kris and none of the families were vegan! We are spoiled, I tell you, spoiled!)

Susan's recipe for the excellent bulgur salad the kids could not get enough of at the party:

2 cups of bulgur
2 cups of hot water
1 T tomato paste
1 T red pepper paste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 small onion, cut in thin half rounds
1 bunch *fresh* flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (dried parsley just won't do
for this recipe)
1 cucumber, finely chopped
1 small or banana shaped green pepper, finely chopped
2 T pure pomegranate juice (optional)
Juice of 1 or 1/2 lemon (make to suit your own taste)
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground black pepper (or to suit your own taste)
1 tsp mint flakes
1 tsp cumin
salt to taste
Romain lettuce leaves
tomatoes

Put tomato and pepper paste in a big bowl and melt them with boiling hot water. Add bulgur and 1 tsp salt into this mix. Stir once. Cover with a thick kitchen towel and let it soak the water for 10 minutes. Cut the onion in half first, then into very thin half-moon shapes. In a little bowl, knead/mix onion with 1 tsp salt. Rinse salt and squeeze excessive water. Fluff bulgur with a fork. Add pepper flakes, ground pepper, cumin, mint flakes, oil, pomegranate and lemon juice, and kneaded onion. Mix well. At this point taste to see if it needs more lemon juice. Add green peppers, green onions, cucumber, and parsley. Mix well.

Best when served cold. Serve on a lettuce bed (you can wrap some of the salad in a lettuce leaf and eat like that) with slices of tomato on the side, or just eat the salad as is in a bowl or as a side dish.

After the party, we had dinner at Catharine and Ricky's which was superb. Rob and I still had room for more yummy food. The kids played more than ate, but that is pretty usual. We talked and drank and ate...perfect! We left Parker's coat at their house. We always leave something to ensure we will be asked back.

Sunday was a little lazy since Rob and I hadn't really seen much of each other, but still I was up and out with Loretta and Emily and at the movies by 11am to see "W". Now, I really shouldn't post about this movie while posting about food because it certainly made me lose my appetite. I can work in the vegan theme by saying James Cromwell, a long-time veg*n, plays Bush Sr. in the film. I was happy to get out with some friends and see a movie, but it was like reliving the nightmare of the the last eight years, but paying $6 to do it in a movie theater. I'm not saying don't watch it, but it is not what I consider to be an uplifting or feel good movie. I don't get into politics too much on this blog for many, many reasons...one being that I think our two-party system is broken. Watching this movie makes me even more nervous about the upcoming election here in the good ole U S of A. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping and praying we will have good outcome, but whatever the result, our jobs as citizens only begins with our vote, it doesn't end there. We need to stay on top of our politicians and remember that they work for us.When I came home from the movie, the boys were at a neighbor's house playing and I walked in to this scene which made me feel much better about the world.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Freeze Tag or VeganMoFo Day 16

I was tagged by sweet Lisa at Cravin' Veggies to show my freezer. I saw this tag game start with Billy over at Vegan Talk and I thought it was a cute idea, but I was sort of hoping it would not stop by my freezer because it is obviously in dire need of cleaning. I guess I have nothing to hide from you all so here it is in all its loveliness. Pay no attention to the stray berries at the bottom of the freezer. I have one of the "freezer on the bottom" refrigerators because I thought it would be more environmentally friendly, but it is also down at just the right height for all the children to open it (losing any energy savings, I am sure) and snag some frozen fruit whenever the mood hits.
So, what do we have here?
Top shelf: Baking soda, hazelnut flour, frozen pizza crust from the co-op, tofu (I don't use frozen tofu very often and I bet I put it in the freezer because it was about to expire, but that may have been a year ago. Can anyone tell me if it is somehow suspended in time and has not gone bad despite the expiration date just by being in my home freezer?), two bags of whole flax seeds (communication problem between me and the hubby), organic frozen fruit (cherries, strawberries, mangoes), organic bananas frozen in a Pyrex container, way in the back is several packages of different types of whole wheat and or sprouted tortillas, two of those light up things you put on your wrist or around your neck at night events (given to the kids by our neighbor Vicky and she said they would last longer in the freezer so there they sit).
Bottom shelf: Organic whole wheat flour, organic all purpose flour (I always put my flours and bulk items in the freezer for at least a week before I transfer them to containers outside of the freezer...I think this might kill any moth eggs or whathaveyou, but it probably makes no difference aside from annoying my husband), whole wheat pita bread, misc. frozen beans, bread from the natural food store (I usually buy up several loaves at a time and defrost them as I need the bread...I know, I need to start baking my own, but they have very good vegan bread), a 1 lb bag of oregano I bought when we were in a buying club a couple years ago and I'm gradually going through it (stop on buy and take some), organic frozen vegetables (spinach, peas, corn, broccoli), a huge bag of ice is under all that because we don't like ice in our drinks normally so we don't own ice cube trays (I also don't like plastic or aluminum which most ice cube trays are one or the other), but we do like to entertain so the bag of ice is from our last party, I think there is some philo dough in there somewhere, and some vegan meatballs which our friends Matthew and Sandra gave us before moving out to Portland (vegan mecca) over a year ago (we really did use most of the food you gave us and we are grateful, just not vegan meatball fans).
We have a small deep freeze in the basement, but I have literally not opened it since we moved into this house (almost 2 years ago now). The only thing I know is in the deep freeze is the placenta from Dema's birth. Now aren't you glad I spared you that picture?

If you are vegan and want to show us your freezer, consider yourself tagged.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Channa Aloo or VeganMoFo Day 15

Rob arrived home today in time for lunch. I decided to use up most of the remaining chickpeas by making channa aloo. I don't have a recipe I particularly like for this dish so I made it up on the fly and it was probably the best (so says the family) channa aloo I've made. I will remember everything I threw in, but sadly I have no idea how much of anything I used since I would just put something in and taste it and add something else. I know I used the following: canola oil, diced onions, mustard seeds, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, chili powder, curry powder, ginger, cardamon, salt, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, crushed tomatoes, a ton of cooked chickpeas, boiled potatoes, and a little of the secret ingredient (don't tell Rob) Tofutti non-hydrogenated sour cream. I wish I'd had some fresh chillies, but it was fine without. I used regular basmati rice and we had garlicky kale too. Warm and yummy on this fall day. Gluten-free too for those of you who avoiding gluten. I only have about a cup left of the chickpeas. Yay!

Wonder - Just Because

Since I was looking up Natalie Merchant on YouTube (not something I spend a lot of time on because it could become addictive), I had to listen to Wonder. I sang this song over and over to Parker when he was a baby. It had more meaning to me because of Parker's heart defect and it always makes me cry.



Even tonight as my little baby has lived through open heart surgery at 2 1/2 and is now 8 1/2 years old and sweetly sleeping.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Food for Thought or VeganMoFo Day 14

I was thinking today about Rob in California, eating at veg restaurants while I drown in a sea of lovely chickpeas. Sure, he is out there on business and working very hard, but still. I then thought about the fact that I prefer to eat at home most of the time now. I have more control over the content of my meals, I feel better after eating at home, and we eat 99.9% organic which is not possible while eating out in the middle of the country. Then my thoughts went to all the great veg places we have eaten through the years...Atlanta, GA has Cafe Sunflower where we used to eat while we were working for Nextel and basically commuting from DC to Atlanta for a time. There was this place in Boulder, CO which we couldn't find when we were back there last year, but I remember the food and the feel of the place and we ate there when we went to a wedding many years ago. The Sweet Onion Inn in Vermont where we stayed for our second honeymoon (which I just noticed sadly is no longer a vegan bed and breakfast...sniff!). Of course, I've blogged about the Laughing Seed in Asheville, NC and probably the Chicago Diner. I have fond memories of eating at the Zen Palate when I took Parker to NYC when he was three without Rob. It was such a nice bonding time with Parker, walking to Central Park every day and checking out the museums and walking on Broadway at night.

So many places we loved in the DC area and the many memories. I miss "number 2" at Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant in Vienna, VA and the many co-workers we hooked on General Tso's Surprise. Of course, The Vegetable Garden and Yuan Fu's in our town of Rockville, MD. When we were both working and pre-kids, we ate at one of those restaurants at least once a week. Mary the owner of Yuan Fu's would always give us a little something special and she remembered us years later after we moved away. Niwanohana, also in Rockville, where Rob taught me to love vegetarian sushi. Working in NW DC for Fannie Mae (yes, I admit I worked there during the Clinton years when the economy was booming) with wonderful people for long hours and ordering Thai food on many, many long nights. Ethiopian food in Adam's Morgan. Eating our weight in Indian at Udupi Palace in Takoma Park, leaving the restaurant with yellow fingers from the turmeric. Amma Vegetarian Kitchen in Vienna, VA with cheap, fast, yummy Indian food for a quick lunch. So many, many great meals and so many, many wonderful memories.

The one that sticks out for me today though is a restaurant that is now only in our memories. Food for Thought. I can't think of this place without thinking of our friends, Sean and Jen. I miss them. I miss the vegan nachos, the vegan chocolate cake, but most of all the vegan lasagna. Oh my gods, the vegan lasagna. I have never before and never since had lasagna that good. I hear you can still get some at the Black Cat, but it couldn't be the same for me. I wish I could replicate that lasagna though. I have thought about it many times and tried a time or two, but never succeeded. If anyone out there remembers the Food for Thought lasagna and has a recipe which will come close, I would love you forever. For now, I just drool and remember, and get jealous of my husband enjoying the Cali (then Chicago) restaurant scene without sharing with sweet little ones or worrying about having to get them home to bed. As much as I love my life in my small little town, far away from the animal rights scene that I love and the plethora of vegan dining options, I am also a tad jealous just for today of all of your living out there.



Even more appropriate since I used to go see Natalie with my friend Jeff every chance we could when I lived in DC. One very memorable time in Baltimore where we met her after the concert and she shared pompadoms.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baked Tofu and Hummus Sandwich or VeganMoFo Day 13

Today I was trying to use up more chickpeas (we've had chickpeas or hummus on everything lately...the other night we had one pizza with chickpeas and the other with hummus to mix things up) from the "you got coffee on my chickpeas, no you got chickpeas on my coffee" incident. I don't think you realize just how many chickpeas we are talking. I'm thinking at least 20 cups cooked. Rob can tell me how many he bought dried. On top of this, Rob is in California all week so I have one less chickpea eater in the house. I would love to make a gazillion recipes, but I have no time, no naps, and no husband. Usually, I kind of look forward to Rob being gone so I can catch up on stuff that never seems to get done while he is home, organizing things, moving furniture around, watching movies he wouldn't want to watch, etc. This week has not been one of those fun weeks. I'm ready for him to get home already. Anyway hummus is something the kids can make and it takes less than a second so it has been on the menu.At Common Ground, they have a baked tofu sandwich with hummus and sprouts which I've had once or twice. It is really good, but I can't remember what else is in it. This was my attempt to mimic that sandwich plus a sandwich we used to buy at M.O.M in Maryland. It is baked tofu, hummus, shredded carrots, greens, avocado, and the kids added pickles which I didn't think of for the picture on a whole wheat bun. It is still missing something, but the kids liked them. We had apples and frozen peaches as well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why are Vegans Obsessed with Mac and Cheese or VeganMoFo Day 12

Why are we as a "people" obsessed with veganizing mac and cheese? Is it really such an amazing food? Is it just American vegans who seem to be inflicted with this disease? Only American vegans who grew up in the 70's or later when I'm guessing mac and cheese hit its stride? If we get it "right" will there be eternal world peace and the end to all suffering? These questions and more will never be answered because I'm busy, busy, busy today. But, take a look at this...
Vegan Dad's Creamy Mac and Cheeze with a few changes. I accidentally put a lot of paprika in, because I couldn't be bothered to measure anything, which accounts for the reddish hue. I also used pumpkin seeds in place of pine nuts (did that before and it works fine) and walnuts and sesame seeds instead of sunflower seeds (couldn't find the sunflower seeds). I topped it with roasted tamari roasted chickpeas (I still have a ton of chickpeas to use up, but not a lot of time to do anything amazing) and steamed broccoli. Yum!

Monday, October 13, 2008

S'More? No Thanks or VeganMoFo Day 11

In case anyone is paying attention and wondering about my VeganMoFo day numbering...I am counting the days I've actually posted, not the number of days VeganMoFo has been going since I'm going trying to hit the 20 posts this month about food, but take a day off now and then. Make sense? No one was wondering. I didn't think so. I hate it when I over explain things.

This was not my best day on so many levels. One was nutritionally and the second was organizationally, financially, and efficiency...and that was only the tip of the iceberg. Sigh. At least Parker did pretty well eating more turnip kale soup and an avocado hummus wrap on a sprouted wheat tortilla and an apple for lunch. We had a homeschooling function which included a To-Go Ware lunch and Dema talked me into buying Follow Your Heart vegan cheese and crackers. I abhor cheese and crackers, even the vegan kind...pretty much zero nutrition. Dema feels much more peer pressure to eat things which look like the other kids' lunches. I guess Dema also had an avocado and hummus wrap so it wasn't a completely nutritional loss for lunch, but then we were invited over to our neighbor's house for a cookout at dinner. The kids love these cookouts and it is fun chatting with neighbors and I don't mind doing the vegan hot dog thing once in a while...this was just not the day for it. Today it meant going to the store yet again (Rob shopped with all the kids on his bike Saturday morning for our week and since then I've been to the store three times...one time I went into the store and didn't find what I need and left without buying anything, but still). Since I'd already blown our budget and our once a week shopping, I went ahead about bought some organic fair trade chocolate which was on sale at Strawberry Fields and some Heaven Scent Windmill cookies (I can not find a vegan - without honey - graham cracker to save my life) to go with the vegan marshmallow creme in our refrigerator from last cookout season for the kids to make s'mores.

S'mores, now whoever thought that up...let's give kids a bunch of caffeine and sticky sugar after dark...was not a parent. Seriously, I'm not a complete fun sponge. I'm just in a mood and my kids have ingested more sugar in the last 10 days than they do most of the year which reflects in their behavior and the holidays are around the corner...my least favorite is Halloween...so it is not likely to improve any time soon. I also am worried about my grandfather and my father for completely different reasons, but I am probably powerless to do anything for either one of them. The economy is in the toilet and the environment is worse than anyone thought so I'm in funk and you all get to listen to me bitch about s'mores.

I'm also irritated in a completely irrational way that I have to cook so many chickpeas before the end of the week. I know this is crazy because I love chickpeas and would have cooked something with chickpeas anyway, but there sheer number of them and the fact that they were forced upon me by my own moment of weakness for coffee which I don't actually like (except when it is decaf, mint, with loads of soy and ice) and the deteriorating infrastructure of this country of ours (the bump in the road) makes me not want to eat them (yes, I realize I can freeze them, but I don't have any freezer bags and that would mean yet another trip to the store). Stomping my feet and taking my marbles and going home...or just going off to read other vegan blogs to find something completely new and interesting to do with chickpeas which I will never actually be able to make because my 13 month old has decided that napping (all napping not just morning naps or afternoon naps) is for babies and as such she will no longer be taking one. Yes, this is just a guess since the adorable little ball of energy can't actually communicate such a concept just yet, but she does now say "baby" quite distinctly so it is fair to assume this is exactly what she is trying to convey.

I was going to give you a picture of the s'mores, but to heck with it. I'm in that kind of mood.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Anytime of the Day Turnip and Kale Soup or VeganMoFo Day 10

Saturday Rob made Parker's Favorite Turnip and Kale Soup which needs to be renamed Josie and Parker's Favorite Turnip and Kale Soup, but really that would be way too long of a name. I was busy with customers and the kitchen was full of chairs which are usually in our dining room, but I had transformed the dining room, living room, and music room into a "store" so I'm not sure how he even had space to make anything. He also made some quick pasta with tomato sauce for dinner...the soup was to be for Sunday. We ate the pasta and did our evening stuff and were going to bed when Parker asked about the turnip kale soup. He had a lot of dinner, but who is going to say no to their kid wanting turnip kale soup. So he ate two bowls before bed. Then Sunday morning he asked for turnip kale soup for breakfast (two more bowls, one bowl of oatmeal w/raspberries, and a Sunbutter and jelly wrap...what is this kid going to eat as a teen???). Often we eat leftovers for breakfast, but it just made me laugh that he wanted the soup last thing before going to bed and first thing waking up in the morning.
Saturday, Rob bought some dried chickpeas and also brought me a coffee treat (iced decaf mint soy latte...except he didn't make it decaf which became an issue as the day went on...I do not deal with caffeine well) since I'd only had a couple hours of sleep Friday night preparing for the Tribal Life sale. Somehow the coffee spilled while he was riding over a bump on his bike and got all over the dried chickpeas. This meant that we had to rinse them and soak all of them right away. So...this week with be everything chickpea. Thus, dinner was more turnip kale soup with hummus (with the paprika Parker requested sprinkled on top and some Bible bread stuck in the middle). We are sadly out of kalamata olives, but it was good hummus anyway.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sunbutter Tempeh Surprise or VeganMoFo Day 9

I made a mental note a while back to try Vegan Dad's Peanut Tempeh with Noodles. I don't know why this recipe stuck with me, but it did and I was looking in the cupboard yesterday and noticed a lonely package of rice noodles. I don't make rice noodles often and when I saw these way back huddled in the corner, shyly peaking out I had one of those flashbacks to the picture on Vegan Dad's blog of the Peanut Tempeh with Noodles. I didn't know what it was called or even what was in the dish so I searched through a lot of yummy posts on his blog until I found what I was looking for. I am very busy trying to get ready for an open house/sale for my store this Saturday (1 to 5pm for you local peeps, come on by and do some shopping or just say "hi". For not so locals, I will have a sale for you all once I get my new and improved website up and running.) so I don't have time to cook much. I figured the family would be disappointed last night with my quickie dinner, but I was pleasantly surprised.From now on this dish will be called Sunbutter Tempeh Surprise. I didn't have peanut butter so I used Sunbutter and I didn't have cilantro so it looks a little pale, but it was so good that Parker had three and a half servings and everyone else had at least two. Parker even asked before he went to bed last night if we had some left so he could eat it the next day. I was very surprised because as a rule, the kids prefer tofu over tempeh. With this in mind, I made the tempeh into crumbles more than chunks (think ground beef for those of you who aren't sickened by that thought...I can't believe I even typed that) and use more oil and more tamari than VD's recipe called for (I suppressed the urge to nooch it). I also used about a teaspoon of red curry paste. Parker's only complaint was that the peas should have been mixed in with the noodle dish, but I thought it would be better for have them separate so people could do what they like. The strawberry dessert was going to be a smoothie, but it very thick. I put frozen strawberry, soymilk, almonds, cashews in the blender and was going to smoothie it when the kids protested..."Mom, you forgot the kale!!". I had to put chard in the blender before we had a revolt. I also decided to add a little green tea soy ice cream since it was getting freezer burn in the back of the freezer and I figured it would add a little sweetness. It was lip smacking good. Josie was licking her bowl.

Why would you want to eat tempeh? Even soy-aphobes (which we, obviously, are not) tend to be pro-tempeh for nutrition and health benefits, but many people who enjoy other forms of soy find tempeh less palatable. I think it is just a matter of exposure or texture. Many people like the taste better after it is boiled. There are also lots of different tempeh brands and some of them have grains included and they all taste a different from each other. I do encourage you to give tempeh a chance.

Back to cleaning house, creating displays, and pricing items!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chickpea Chippie or VeganMoFo Day 8

Okay, I'm a little old and married to be considered a "chippie", but I do have a thing for chickpeas. Give me a dish with chickpeas and I'm hooked, they have me at hello. Sure, there is hummus (with all the variations, one could fill a cookbook with just hummus), but oh so much more. Why chow down on chickpeas? How about for the Calcium, Iron, Protein, Copper, Folate, Manganese, and even some Vitamin C (nutrition analysis here). We buy our dried organic chickpeas in bulk, soak 'em, and cook 'em, eat 'em, and repeat. Inexpensive and healthy! The kids will eat cooked chickpeas naked so most days I have to give them a bowl to nosh on while I use the rest in a real recipe. Last night I made Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan for the first time (but not the last). It was, of course, a hit. Simple yet satisfying. The protein and iron double punch of chickpeas and lentils is sure to be a favorite on cold evenings. I used up the rest of our pears from the neighbor's tree. I was hoping to try something different, but the boys begged for more pear apple sauce so that is what we had hot from the crockpot. I made some Tamari Roasted Chickpeas (used blackstrap molasses again) with the remaining chickpeas (really you can't have too many of these cute little legumes) and Rob sauteed some kale and garlic since I was going into kale withdrawl. There was enough soup left for lunch today and it was even better than last night. I added leftover brown rice to mine and it hit the spot.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It Cuts Like a Knife or VeganMoFo Day 7

I was chopping vegetables today and I realized how attached to my knives I have become. It has been a long road. When I was a young kid, I remember my mother cutting herself pretty badly while peeling something over the sink. I was awful about blood and it must have emotionally scarred me because knives freaked me out for a very long time. We didn't have a dishwasher growing up so we washed everything by hand and I wouldn't even touch a knife to wash it or even put my hand in soapy water when a sharp knife was in the sink. Obviously, that cut down on my cooking opportunities as a kid. I would use a peeler, but never a knife sharper than a table knife.

As I got older, I was a little better, but not much. I lived on my own for six years before Rob and I started dating and I know I was still pretty scared of knives then. The great toe incident on our first Thanksgiving didn't help things. Gradually, through Rob's patience and understanding (read: relentless teasing and belittling) I came to not only be able to use sharp knives on a regular basis, but actually appreciate a good, high quality knife to the point where I get fussy if my favorite knives are not available. I've come a long way, baby!

So, dear friends, I am here to tell you that the number one kitchen tool that no vegan, dare I say, no cook worth their weight in tofu can live without is a good knife. What constitutes a good knife? Well, it is a very personal thing and everyone has their preference, but for me a good knife starts with the weight. It has to be heavy. Don't give me no silly sissy knives. I need a big honking knife that weighs down my hand and doesn't go flying across the room when I'm chopping like crazy. Henkels is the first brand of knife I fell in love with (again, Rob's influence) so I am partial to my Henkels knives, although if I had an unlimited budget I would like to date around and see what else is out there. Even out of our Henkels, I have one that I will reach for before the others.

When shopping for a knife, don't be afraid to play with it. Touch it, feel the weight and how the handle fits in your hand. You will be using it a lot so don't just go for looks...think long term relationship. Go for a knife that you will still want to use years from now. Buy several knives. Don't go cutting up your tomatoes with a paring knife! Buy a small serrated knife for slicing things like tomatoes and a bigger one for breads. Be selective and don't just buy a set. Make sure they all fit you. If you and your partner both cook, you may want two sets of knives. Especially, for couples who's hands are very different sizes, they may not want the same weight or handle for their knives. Shop around. For quality knives you may be spending some money so don't settle for something that doesn't feel just right and once you find that perfect fit you can look for sales.

Be good to your knives. It is best to wash them by hand. Sure, I get lazy and throw them in the dishwasher, but I fell better when I wash them by hand and they will last longer that way. Sharpen them at home on a regular basis and have them professionally sharpened when needed. Put them in a handy place (not thrown pell mell in a drawer) where you can always reach them (while in the kitchen...please don't sleep with one).

If you have children, teach them to use knives safely and as early as you can (when they are developmentally ready and responsible). I love that my eight year old feels completely comfortable and confident slicing up veggies and my four year old is great with supervision.



Now get chopping!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chickpea Sensation Patties or VeganMoFo Day 6

We soaked and cooked some chickpeas this weekend so I decided to finally make the Chickpea Sensation Patties from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I had some summer squash to use up so I sauteed them with some onions, which always reminds me of Rob's grandmother since she always served us squash from her garden this way. I used up all the potatoes yesterday which is a shame because these patties scream mashed potatoes and gravy. There is brown rice in the cutlets so I didn't want to serve them with rice and I should have gone with quinoa, but I went with pasta instead. We are still trying to stay on a pretty tight budget food-wise so we are down to one bag of whole wheat bow tie pasta. I used the rest of the green beans and covered it all with Thick 'n' Rich Gravy also from EDaBV. These patties are great. We liked them better than the Veganomicon Chickpea Cutlets. I thought the V-con cutlets were a little too chewy from the vital wheat gluten so I've been wanting to try the EDaBV patties since they use brown rice and oats to keep it together. I also like the idea of getting everything together for the patties the night before (which I would have done if I'd read the recipe and seen they call for refrigeration prior to cooking). Thumbs up from all the kids on the patties. Josie even liked the patty mixture before I cooked them. While I was sauteing the vegetables for the patties, she kept asking for more celery. I never really liked celery as a kid so that sort of surprised me, but that girl loves everything. She'll eat raw garlic, fennel seeds, spicy, bland, pretty much anything I can dish up (she doesn't have a big sweet tooth though). As a parent, I am a big believer in being open to your kids liking foods you don't like yourself so I try not to limit them with only the plants I prefer to eat. Anyway, back to celery. I saw one blogger used carrots in this recipe instead because she doesn't like celery and I would have done this as well except I have a ton of celery and it is pretty darn good for you (not that carrots aren't). Celery has Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium and Manganese (nutritional analysis here). I'm always glad when I eat celery, even if my first thought of it is a not so happy flashback to the celery slathered with peanut butter from my childhood. I might just add some carrots along with the celery next time I make them.

13 Months Old

Because I know you are jonezing for some toddler pictures, I thought I'd take a second to say Josie is 13 months old today (but who is counting?). She loves to swing at our park still, but more often than not will request to be on the "big" swings. She loves to try to keep up with her brothers and their friends. She watches them from the swings when she isn't chasing after them.I never would have admitted this prior to having a little girl and any generalizations about gender are really not fair, but my particular little girl is in love with babies and dolls. Sure, the boys liked dolls too, but not like this. She will climb over the trains, cars, etc. to get to the dolls in the play area. She loves her D and Me doll bed and can be found sitting in bed with her dolls or bringing them to me to nurse. She will cuddle up with a baby doll when she nurses or falls asleep.
Josie is in love with fresh produce. She is not happy in a grocery store unless she is gnawing on a some fruits and veggies. She still only has four teeth, but it doesn't stop her in the least. She is always walking around the house with an apple or a pear and by the end of the day I find the stem and seeds is all that is left.
Unlike the boys, who at this age would smile for the camera every chance they could, Josie is more of a "no pictures, please" kinda girl.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Great Gluten or VeganMoFo Day 5

This post is definitely gluten-full, sorry in advance to those of you who are gluten-free. Sunday we relaxed, enjoyed the weather, Rob played soccer, and made seitan. Rob made two SO'G logs for me to use during the week. Our neighbor's have a pear tree and I still had a bunch of pears left after we ate quite a few. I asked my local natural parenting group what I should do with the pears and there were several recipes I need to try, but I went with pear apple sauce. I figured pear apple sauce was quick and easy and Parker was more than willing to do the peeling and cutting. We just cut up a bunch of pears and a couple apples into the slow cooker, added some date sugar and cinnamon, set it to low for a few hours and voila. It made the house smell great! Thanks Jodi! Lunch today was seitan sandwiches on whole wheat buns with Vegenaise (I need to start making my own!), spinach leaves, and avocado with pear apple sauce. Why use date sugar (nutritional analysis for chopped dates here)? Well, first of all it isn't really a "sugar" in the traditional sense, it is just dates ground up very fine. It is my granulated sweetener of choice. I am not saying it is a "health food", but it does have some Protein, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Manganese, etc. and fiber. It also tastes great and gives everything you make a nice dark color.
For dinner, I realized I had all the ingredients (thanks again to our friends who gave us a bunch of produce before they left, I had some green beans to use up) for Veganomicon's Seitan Piccata with Olives and Green Beans. We have a hit on our hands. Right away Parker said, "This has all my favorite foods in it!". It is no secret that we are a family of kalamata olive lovers. I served it over mashed nooch potatoes and it is all gone. Rob was wondering if we could also serve it over rice (I think potatoes was better, but I might try quinoa sometime or maybe pasta). I did change the recipe a bit: I added nooch (nutritional yeast) to the flour for the breaded of the seitan because I just can't help myself...it is a sickness, I used up half of a yellow onion because it needed to be used and I only had one shallot, I used red wine instead of white (that is what was open in the refrigerator), I used a little less seitan (since Rob is my seitan maker, I feel the need to use it sparingly, but he promises to make more if I use it all so I'll won't be so stingy next time or maybe I'll get off my lazy butt and make seitan myself) and more green beans, I cut up the green beans in smaller pieces to be more kid-friendly, I subbed 1 cup of cooking water from the potatoes for 1 of the cups of vegetable broth (in most recipes, it is fine to sub water for veg broth - it can save you sodium and money), and I didn't have any fresh parsley so I omitted it. The piccata was delish!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

10 Years Ago...

Rob and I were married. (Technically, we had a commitment ceremony because to make it all legal we had to go the the Justice of the Peace a couple days before. That was fun as well since we just had to walk across the street from our apartment to the JOP and then went a block more to watch a movie.) We had a small (maybe 75 people) ceremony at the Strathmore museum in North Bethesda, Maryland. We did the ceremony ourselves which included an Alanis Morissette song, Khalil Gibran poetry, and our variation of the seven steps (Saptapadi) from the Hindu tradition. The reception was also at the Strathmore and all the food was vegan, of course, and prepared by Gail's Vegetarian Catering. We had comments from the pianist and photographer afterwards that the ceremony was the most touching and unique wedding they had ever attended. Omnis and vegans alike raved about the food. Even my grandfather was impressed with the food and he was a farmer and then a butcher when my mom was growing up. Rob and I had a lot of fun at the wedding. It was so nice to have kids (from babies to pre-teens) attending and later running around and laughing. I put my brother on the spot to say a toast and I couldn't help tearing up at his words. We took most of the pictures prior to the ceremony and it sprinkled a little which I took to be a good omen, but it was a beautiful day.

The night before the ceremony we had the "rehearsal dinner" with our friends and family who were in town for the wedding at the Vegetable Garden and the evening after the wedding we ate at Yuan Fu's (two of our favorite vegan Chinese restaurants which were both close to where we lived). I do miss the DC area restaurants and Rockville, Marland, heck all of Maryland, will always feel like "home" to me, but I just can't imagine signing up for the hectic, expensive living now that we have children. Sigh.

Back to the present....We went to the Market at the Square this morning and did more talking than buying which is fun. Then we did our weekly shopping at Common Ground which was even more fun than usual because it was their official grand opening. We stayed around a little while for the pie contest. Our friend Jenny entered a vegan pie and we wanted to see if she won, but we had to leave before the judging was over. She won!! Jenny also said she would teach us her pie making secrets so we win too. We had a great afternoon at a birthday party with lots of fun things for the kids, lots of talking of politics for the adults, beautiful weather, and vegan cake. When we arrived home, we called my sister since she offered to watch the kids so we could go out. We spent a few minutes at Cynthia and Ernie's enjoying their fire before Karen arrived. We were going to take Josie with us when we went out, but I nursed her to sleep. Thus, we ended up having dinner just the two of us (this never happens) at KoFusion (we wanted to stay close to home in case Josie woke up...which she did just as we ordered, but Karen is amazing as was able to put her back to sleep!).We shared a seaweed salad, avocado sushi (and some fuji sushi, but I didn't take a picture), and I had a vegetable stir fry with udon noodles and Rob had the same, but with rice. Why should you eat seaweed? Well, especially for vegans, it has iodine which can be allusive in our diets unless you use iodized salt. Seaweed (since there are several different types of seaweed it depends on which one you are consuming) also tends to have B vitamins, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium.
I had a very yummy pomegranate mojito as well. It was nice to be able to sit, relax, talk, and be able to eat without children grabbing my food or a baby nursing through it all. I missed the kids though and was happy to come home. I ate a ton of avocado sushi while I was pregnant with Josie at KoFusion...sometimes more than once a week...so it reminds me of her. The food was good and never make sushi at home (I should!), but I would have enjoyed a quiet dinner at home just as much. I do appreciate Karen taking care of the kids and they always love spending time with her. She is so busy lately, we haven't seen her except for a little bit at the Market at the Square.All in all it was a very nice anniversary. I'm glad to be married to my sweetheart for ten years and counting.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Extreme Flyer

Parker's friend Leo turned nine this week and Parker went to work Wednesday making something for him. He thought for a while and decided to make a Millennium Falcon because "Leo loves Star Wars....I'm not to keen on it, but it is Leo's birthday so I should make him something he likes." Parker hasn't seen the Star Wars movies so he only had a vague idea (from Lego.com and seeing Star Wars stuff at friends' houses) what the Millennium Falcon looks like. He looked up pictures on the internet and wanted to know all sorts of details. Finally he decided it wasn't the Millennium Falcon, but a ship that Leo could name himself (Parker called it the Extreme Flyer). Parker finished it Thursday and took it over to Leo. I hope he likes it! You never know if kids are going to like something homemade or not. Parker certainly had fun making it. Parker said he thought Leo would like guns and a bomb box in case he needed to get through an underground tunnel or a wall/fence. The attack mobile is for defending from attacks. I asked if he wanted to keep it since he put so much work into it, but he said "No mom, I'm not into guns and bombs...I just want to make Leo happy." Sometimes I worry about my little pacifist and wonder if he has a "dark side" that he needs to explore (I've been reading and researching the benefits of play lately and I sometimes wonder if gun play or good/evil play which I have NEVER liked as a parent may have some usefulness. I don't think I could ever encourage swords or guns, but I am trying to understand that type of play. Rob and I both played with toy guns, but life was different back then.) Parker is very sensitive and thinks a lot...maybe too much for an eight year old...so I look forward to figuring out things with him.Parker took pictures and asked me to blog about it (which I would have anyway).