Sunday, February 22, 2009

Breakfast Pizza and Seeds and Not Milk

Most of you know, we turn out heat down at night. Basically, we turn it off since our thermostat doesn't go below 50 degrees. It saves energy and it isn't that tough if you use lots of blankets, but mornings are cold until the old radiators kick on again. This means on cold weekend mornings we all hang out together and snuggle, talk, read, etc. until the house warms up. This morning, I was surfing blogs on my iPhone and Rob was asking what was for breakfast while we listened to the knocking of the steam heat and procrastinated about getting out of bed. Rob had made a double batch of pizza dough earlier in the week and we hadn't gotten around to making pizza so he said he could make pizza for breakfast. That sounded good to the rest of us and about that time I was reading a local blogger, Sulking in Illinois. Her latest post had an awful link I just had to visit. It was like rubber necking at an accident. I just couldn't look away from the "food". Nope, I don't think it can be classified as was all too de-custing (as the boys used to say) to be seen as food even for omnis. I was reading the descriptions to Rob for added horror. This prompted a memory of his teenage years. He used to work at a restaurant in NC owned by the parents of his friend, Buzz (still a dear friend whom he just caught up with on the phone yesterday). This restaurant experience is why Rob is in charge of making pizza dough in our house. Rob recalled on some weekend mornings, Buzz would make a special breakfast pizza for them. The pizza was loaded with scramble eggs, Canadian sausage, and other "traditional" breakfast fare. We often gross each other out with the things we ate as kids...usually Rob wins, he is from the South after can I compete with Southern food when it comes to things we wouldn't dream of eating as vegans. This breakfast pizza was a new story to me and it sounded pretty bad. Rob is not one to miss non-vegan foods, but he said the breakfast pizza was pretty good. We'll have to try some scramble tofu and fauxsages sometime, but this morning he stayed with more normal (for us at least) toppings. This pizza has carrots, kalamata olives, and chickpeas.
In the background you see some of Parker's seeds sprouting. He received a recycled plastic pot and seeds kit for Christmas. It is keeping us going during this long cold winter we find ourselves frozen in. The funny thing about the kit is that recycled plastic is ironically made from milk jugs. I didn't notice when he opened his box, but when I was looking at them at the store the other day I saw that they actual promote milk drinking on the sets. How messed up is that? It says something like "Step 1. Drink Milk, It's Good for You!" Well, as we all know cow's milk is good for baby calves, but not good for human kids or grown up for that matter. Humans are the only mammal that regularly drinks the milk from another species and continues to drink it long after we wean. Consumption by humans of milk meant to take a calf to a large cow in a short amount of time causes lots of health problems, environmental problems, and obviously issues for the poor cows who are kept lactating for human consumption while their calves are usually taken away from them within 24 hours after birth. I'm concerned that a toy which is sold as "eco-friendly" would promote something as unhealthy, unethical, and environmentally damaging as drinking cow's milk.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Vegan Quiche and Pumpkin Pie

Loretta and her lovely crew (her kids are so adorable I just want to eat them up!) came over for dinner last night. It is always a delight to get together with them, but it was even better this time because they brought dinner. Sweet! I didn't want to feel like a complete slouch so I decided to make something. I noticed I had two Wholly Wholesome Pie Crusts in the freezer which Rob bought a couple weeks ago when I meant to tell him to get a different type of crust. Parker has been asking me to make something with the crusts and for some reason I thought of quiche. Now I have never made quiche before that I can remember, vegan or otherwise, but I remember my mom's quiche. Mom was a feminist. She was a stay-at-home-mom or home maker or whathaveyou most of her adult life until I was in Middle School (and I'm the youngest by 7 1/2 years), but she worked without pay. She worked a lot and I'm not just talking about the normal work which is plenty that those of us who "stay home" do. She was a professional volunteer, except the professional part would imply money earned and she received none for her tireless time and effort making the community better. One of the many, many organizations she belonged to was NOW. One of the first political rallies I remember attending was when I was young, but old enough to know what was up, and my mom took me to Springfield, IL for an ERA rally. What the heck does this have to do with food? I'm getting to it, I promise. I remember a bag mom carried with the logo "Real Men Eat Quiche". It always made me laugh, unlike the poster which was on our family room wall which read "A Woman's Place is in the House...AND Also in the Senate" which just made me think. Years later, I'm vegan and I think real men don't eat animal products, but I guess they can still eat vegan quiche. I found a recipe for vegan quiche in my Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook and it made filling for a 10 inch crust and mine was 9 inches so Josie and enjoyed the filling before it baked. It tasted just like my memory of my mom's quiche. It was great to be taken back. I didn't have two boxes of silken tofu so I used one box and some leftover cooked worked well and it was a good balance of tofu and beans. I added steamed broccoli, but next time I think I'd also add some homemade seitan or something too. I didn't know if quiche was supposed to be served warm or cold so I warmed it up a bit. It was even better this morning for breakfast.I still had another crust to use up and I didn't want to make another quiche in case no one liked quiche. I also thought the kids would enjoy a pie since I rarely make them. I didn't have any silken tofu left though so I was sort of cleaning up the kitchen wondering if I could find a pie filling without tofu. I picked up one of the cookbooks Josie had been playing with on the floor. It was Vegan World Fusion. I was looking through the cookbook thinking about the fact that I have never once cooked anything from this book. It is one of Josie's favorites because of the pictures (I'm just guessing since she isn't even 1 1/2 years old yet and can't tell me what it is that draws her to it, I'm just pretty sure it isn't the words and it does have beautiful pictures). I was writing a blog post in my head about what makes a good cookbook and pictures is up there, but there is something that turns me off about this cookbook as well which is why I'd never made any of the recipes. Maybe it is a tad to "hippy healthy" looking for me. I'm all about healthy, but it has a slightly new agey feel which just isn't me. I like to look at it, but not to cook it. I was about to put Vegan World Fusion back on the shelf when Prem's Pumpkin Pie caught my eye. It called for cooked pumpkin, but I figured subbing canned pumpkin would be okay. No tofu at all in the recipe which is unusual for vegan pumpkin pie and the almond butter and molasses had me sold. I didn't have enough almond butter, but it was fine. The pie came out very dark due to the molasses so I was worried it would be too over-powering for some people. It was hard to tell last night what I thought of the pie because I was so incredibly stuffed from Loretta's wonderful food (she brought Indian Cauliflower and Kidney Bean Stew with Coconut Milk from Robin Robertson's Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker which was a big hit and I definitely need to buy that book, Roasted Garlic Bread from Mirabelle, salad, samosas, and Raspberry Blondie Bars from Vegan with a was all so yummy and I was stuffed long before I stopped eating). This morning's breakfast confirmed that I have a new pumpkin pie recipe. It was gone before lunch time and Rob wasn't home to help. The boys loved it, but they love molasses. If you are looking for a vegan pumpkin pie with no soy...this could be it. Next time I'll make some sort of topping for it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Collard Greens, Sweet Potato, and Lentil Curry

Last night I had collards to use up and Rob had to bike five miles with temps in the teens to play indoor soccer after work so he wasn't around to work his Southern Magic. Last week I made Green on Green Soup again with collards and broccoli (I also used dried shiitake mushrooms since I didn't have fresh and it worked great), but the week the collards we had left looked too nice for a pureed soup. I searched and found Collard Greens, Sweet Potato, and Lentil Curry. The ingredients look great, but the recipe left something to be desired. It didn't even have a estimated amount of time to cook in the oven, just until sweet potatoes are tender. I cut up the sweet potatoes pretty small, but even so the dish wasn't done for an hour and a half. It was good, but I will work with it. I topped mine with leftover Coconut Curry Sauce and sprinkled it with za'tar.Parker, uncharacteristically, didn't like it, but he likes his curries on the spicy side not the sweet. Dema complained (as he is wont to do...he even complained about pancakes the other morning), but ate it all and said it was good. Josie gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. She started eating before everyone else and was still eating it after the boys left the table. We went to bed before Rob got home, but he came into the room saying "You are a good cook." so I surmised that he even enjoyed it cold. I blew off the compliment because I do that and he says it a lot. If you want me to drop the ball, all you have to do is say, "Nice catch!". Compliments unnerve me. On top of that, my mom was considered a very good cook. Even at her Celebration of Life Ceremony after she died, one of the speakers talked about her cooking for everyone in heaven. Not getting into my personal views on what does or doesn't happen after death, I found the picture and thought of my mom still cooking for people...something I believe she really enjoyed...brought a smile to my face. Anyway, when someone says "this tastes great" or "you're a good cook", I look around for my mom. I still feel like a hack or a poser in the kitchen. When Rob and I first got together, we ate out quite a lot. We both worked and we lived in a vegan friendly area with a couple vegan restaurants a mile or two away. We had the money to eat out even though we liked to cook together. After we had Parker, cooking took on a new dimension for me since I had a precious new life to nourish, but I was also getting used to working in the home and not getting paid and I resisted the role of "cook". About the time my mother got sick or more to the point, started to die since I'm sure she was sick for quite a while before the month of her death, I felt like really spending quality time in the kitchen. We made some things together, but it seems like I was always rushed and flustered...distracted by my sweet toddler and not in my element yet. I remember cooking with my mom as a kid, but mostly I sat and talked with her as she cooked. She did a lot of special cooking late at night (the snacks she found out about last minute needed for school the next day, holiday baking, etc.) and I always felt bad about her sleepless nights spent in the kitchen. Now I realize she might have enjoyed them. I love cooking with my kids and I also love to be alone in the kitchen when the rest of the house is asleep and I can just cook by myself, get lost in thought, and enjoy making something without little ones nursing, asking for bites of food, or getting into long conversations about light sabers and droids. Lately, that is what I miss about my mother most...the hours of cooking together as adults, the sharing recipes and cooking techniques, enjoying each other's company, and nourishing each other that was never to be.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Vegan Meetup

When we first moved to this town (or moved back in my case since it is my home town), I was all about finding a veg*n community. In the DC area, it was easy. There was a great Veg Society and lots of veg*n friends, animal rights activities, animal sanctuaries, etc. When we moved to the Midwest, I knew it wouldn't be DC, but I had hopes...high hopes. We were new parents and I was determined to find the quiet veg*ns lurking in our town so our child would not grow up feeling like the lone vegan.

So, I started potlucks. They were fun, but surprisingly enough most of the people who showed up to our house were single guys. Not negative at all and they could cook which is always an added bonus for potlucks. Somehow things dwindled and died out. We made some lasting friendships from the potlucks, but it didn't become what I was hoping it would be. We live in a transient college town so at times we've had quite a few veg*n friends and at other times not so much. Lately, I've been craving a veg community again and so has Rob (which is slightly unusual since, although he's been vegan much longer than I have, he's not a big joiner or starter). Anyway, Rob found a notice somewhere about a new local vegan meetup group. They have monthly potlucks.Last night was our first potluck we were able to attend and we also hosted at our house. It was so nice to get to know the people in the group, eat great vegan food, and connect again with like-minded vegans. I just started to cook when a couple people arrived an hour and half early (an issue with multiple emails with different times). I was a little worried we were wrong about the starting time and I would have nothing to offer at a potluck we were hosting, but all turned out fine. I didn't take any pictures, but I made Car Crash Casserole and Peanut Noodle Salad.
We are the only people in the group so far with kids (many of them seem to be zero pop people and I totally respect that and understand that thinking...we were dead set again having more than one child ourselves for many years...things changed for us), but it is pretty diverse from the age angle. The kids had a great time and Parker spent quite a bit of time talking with someone who we found out was a friend of a friend of my mother's...small town. Dema and Josie fell asleep pretty early in the night and Parker (who is a night owl) also ended up falling asleep before the night was over. I look forward to more potlucks and getting to know everyone better. If anyone locally is interested in veganism or just enjoy good vegan food, feel free to click the link above and join the meetup group.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Za'tar Spiced Bean Patties with Coconut Curry Sauce

I have wanted to make the Za'tar Spiced Bean Patties with Coconut Curry Sauce from Vegan Planet for years. I know that is so silly because why didn't I just make them? Why drool over a recipe for so long? I don't know. I don't have a good reason. The title of the recipe sounded time consuming? I would run out of za'tar, not have the right beans soaked and cooked, out of coconut milk...? So the other night, I was determined. It didn't matter that Josie was teething and fussy and the house was falling apart at the seams. It didn't matter that I had started dinner late because Rob wasn't home from work yet and Dema was already very sleepy. I was making them, even when it meant I was nursing Josie to sleep while I was cooking. Josie is big reason why I finally made them. She loves za'tar. Sometimes Rob will come home and put za'tar on a piece of toast or dip bread in olive oil and then za'tar. Josie will be right there with him every time and she will lick the za'tar off the bread and ask for more. She will lick it off your finger if you offer some. She is nuts for the stuff. All the kids like it, but Josie is in love. One of Rob's co-workers gave us some homemade za'tar when he came back from a visit to his home country. It is even better than any za'tar we've been able to buy locally and this made me more determined to make the patties.
Verdict? I should have been making this recipe once a week. It wasn't hard or even terribly time consuming. I made brown rice to go with the patties so I had all four burners going at once plus the oven to keep them warm, but no big deal. It was really quite easy. If I wasn't nursing a toddler while cooking, it would have been quicker and easier. Thankfully, Rob came home and was my extra hands. Very yummy, but I'm a sucker for curry and coconut milk as well as za'tar and beans so I excepted to be happy. Unfortunately, Josie was suffering from teething so much she didn't feel like eating and Dema fell asleep on the couch before they were done, but they both had leftovers yesterday and gave them a thumbs up. We even tried the patties in a sandwich with the curry sauce as a spread...good, but it needed some greens. Another hit from Vegan Planet.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Peanut Noodle Salad and Parker's NEW Favorite Kale Soup

The other night I made another teaser, I mean tester, from Robin Robertson's new cookbook due out this year. Folks, I have yet to make a Robin Robertson recipe I didn't like, but the Peanut Noodle Salad had Rob packing some for his lunch the next day before we even finished eating dinner. This is from the guy who can take or leave a peanut sauce and will more than likely give me a hard time if he knows that is what I'm making for dinner. So...this recipe is excellent. The Peanut Noodle Salad is beautiful (my picture doesn't do it justice, but it was everything I could do to keep Rob from devouring it all before I got the camera out) and the Easy Peanut Sauce which tops the salad is, well, the tops.Just so you have something to make before the new cookbook comes out, Parker announced today that he has a *new* favorite kale soup. This is big news since his *old* favorite was, well, his favorite. I made the Spicy Kale Soup from Robin Robertson's blog (yes, there is a theme here) for dinner Sunday night since I have some kale that Rob was going to just throw willy nilly into some stir fry. I banished him from the kitchen and I think it was the best thing I did all weekend. Parker asked for the Spicy Kale Soup for homeschool lunch and was sad when there wasn't any left for dinner tonight. He asked if I could make it again, but settled for leftover chili instead. I had several people at the homsechool group ask what the delicious smell was after I warmed up Parker's soup. When I said it was kale soup, one of them turned up their nose, but they are missing out. We do love kale in this house, there is no mistaking that (the other day on the bus ride home from the co-op, the only thing that kept Josie quiet was sneaking her bites of aren't supposed to eat on the bus), but I think even people who aren't big fans of kale will like Robin's Spicy Kale Soup. I served the soup along with whole wheat pasta, steamed broccoli with more of of Robin's Easy Peanut Sauce on top.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Guy is Nine and That is Sublime

My first love, the person who opened my eyes and taught me more in a second than I'd learned in the twenty-something years before he came into my life put together, turned nine today (well, I'm writing this after midnight so yesterday). He is an amazing young man and I love him more today than the day he was born.
I asked what he wanted for breakfast, anything at all...he opted for his usual two bowls of oatmeal with flax seeds, molasses, and berries. This is so Parker. For Christmas his favorite stocking stuffer was a container of organic stuffed grape leaves. He is so easy to please. We played and read books all morning and then left via the bus to have lunch at Y Eatery for vegan pad thai. Parker ate his dish of pad thai and half of his brothers (Dema likes to eat all the tofu and seitan and leave a lot of the rice noodles).
Then, as requested, we went to the Urbana Free Library for more books and some computer time. After the library I suggested we look at Art Mart (a locally owned toy store) to see if they still had the "trainer chopsticks" Parker wanted for Christmas. He didn't like that the chopsticks are plastic (have I mentioned how much I adore him?), but we made due. We went to the co-op to buy blueberries for his requested dessert (we had a family dinner with my dad, my sister and Stuart - Karen's boyfriend, and us) and I said he could have a ABC cookie to eat while waiting for the bus. He said "no thanks". He continued to say "no thanks" when Dema kept offering bites from his cookie while we waited in the cold for the bus. He has so much more balance in his life than the rest of us. Where did he come from?He was so happy to have the family over for dinner (we ordered vegan pizza...he originally asked for homemade tamales and Rob made some over the weekend, but they were gone quickly and it has been a busy week so he said he was fine with his favorite delivered pizza - black olives, green olives, and pineapple). Karen read Star Wars graphic novels, which I found at the library and they turned out to be a big hit with both boys, and snuggled with him on the couch after dinner. Dessert, as requested, was Blueberry Coffee Cake from Vegan with a Vengeance.Parker fell asleep on the couch next to Stuart and Karen sometime before midnight. We will have a party with all of his friends later on this month, but he said he had a great ninth birthday.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cincinnati Suburb Chili

Another tester recipe from Robin Robertson's cookbook due out this year. This one is a keeper. I ended up with a lot of the pasta recipes this go around (I just noticed that tonight while I was making another tester recipe). They have all been great and unique so I didn't even notice the pasta link. The chili topping is great by itself and on top of the pasta it reminded me of a much more sophisticate version of a chili mac. Quick, simple, inexpensive, and yum!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hummus Soup

I made this last week after a fun day at the Orpheum Children's Museum with Gita and her girls. We all rode the bus downtown and played at the museum. We parted ways because I ran some errands (mailed a package to a customer), but we ironically ended up at Aroma with Gita and her twins after we were done. We all walked home together through the snow (come on people, shovel your sidewalks already!). I don't know Gita was able to walk with one child asleep on her back and another asleep in her arms. I only had Josie on my back and every once in a while Dema asked me to carry him. We ate a bunch of hummus at Aroma, but I still wanted to make this Hummus Soup I'd seen on Yeah, That Vegan Shit. Rob was crazy and biked 5 miles in the cold to play indoor soccer so the kids and I enjoyed the Hummus Soup without him. I served it with whole wheat pita bread (and a couple of drops of hot sauce) and mangoes. Everyone loved it! I think all the garlic we consumed that day has kept us healthy while many people around us have fallen prey to the dreaded cold/flu season. This is a great soup to keep everyone well.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Help Fight Hunger Right Here at Home

Economic times are tough. Most of the food blogs I frequent have mentioned cutting their food bill in some way, it is a real concern, but what if you really didn't have enough food to eat? Sometimes in the land of plenty called the US, it is hard for us to imagine someone going to bed hungry, but it happens all the time in our own cold backyard.

FACTS: Hunger In Eastern Illinois

Of the households served by the local Foodbank:
40% are children under 18 years old.
12% are children ages 5 years and less.
Up to 9% are elderly.
Over 1/3 of the households include at least 1 employed adult. Over 2/3
have incomes below the federal poverty level during the previous month.
Approximately 60% of clients are white; 34% are African American; 4% are Hispanic; 2% are from other racial or ethnic groups. 2% are homeless. 50% of the Foodbank's clients must choose between paying for food or for utilities or heating fuel.
Nearly 40% have to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage.

Nearly 1/3 have to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.
For every $10 donated to WEFT 90.1FM, our station will donate $1 to the Foodbank. For every $1 the Foodbank receives, they will provide $10 worth of food to families in need in our community. Your donation has 2x the IMPACT!

Contribute online at Or send a donation to: WEFT, PO Box 1223, Champaign, IL. 61824

Green on Green Soup

A long while ago, I was talking with my friends Jenny and Stephanie about all the recipes I print out from vegan food blogs and how it was hard to keep track of them. They both suggested I use a three-ring binder and plastic paper protectors to make my own book of favorite recipes. I know, so simple, I have no idea why I'd never done it before. I guess the buying plastic sleeves went against my loathing of all things plastic, but it is so worth it. The binder makes a lot of sense and it is so nice to be able to take the recipe out that I'm working with and not worry about it getting ruined (one time a bowl of water was spilled on my entire notebook and after day of drying out all the pages were fine). I see a recipe I like on a blog or elsewhere, print it out with reference to the place I found it, put in the notebook and then I don't have to worry about finding the blog again when I want to try it, I have it right in my kitchen.
I was flipping through my recipe book yesterday looking for some recipe I hadn't made before. I also had a drawn full of collards and kale I wanted to use. I saw the Green on Green Soup recipe from FatFree Vegan which I've meant to make for a while now, but never seem to have the sweet potato or enough greens left or something. I am a fan of green soups, as is Parker, so I'm biased, but this was excellent. I've mentioned before that we shoot for 10 different vegetables/fruits each day in our diet (with at least one being a leafy green) and I love that this soup covered five of them at once...bam! I didn't have any cashew butter so I threw in about a half a cup or so of cashews in at the second step. I served it with the suggested plain soy yogurt and added my beloved za'atar sprinkled on top, pink lady apples, and baked tofu.