Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Waffles or the Answer to World Hunger

Last year over a long weekend, while Rob happened to be out of town (his loss), we had four families over for a vegan waffle party.  It was so much fun, but I might have had a selfish motive for hosting.  We didn't have a waffle iron.  I know, sad, but I shun all things plastic and non-stick coated.  I did, however, have no problem whatsoever with everyone coming over to my house and cooking up their favorite vegan waffles on their non-stick waffle irons.  Hmmm.  I caved this winter and went over to my dad's house and grabbed my mom's old waffle iron.  The kids are so happy to be able to have waffles again.  

Here is a picture Josie waiting for her first waffle from our very own waffle iron in January:

We still don't make them often (read, I still have not made them, but Rob does from time to time), but last weekend Rob made the Peanut Butter Waffles from Vegan Brunch.   Oh my!  Per usual when we make pancakes or waffles, we serve the kids first and then Rob and I might eat one or two if there are any leftover.  I think Rob doubled the batch so the kids ate their fill and I was surprised to see some left.  That was until I sat down to eat one.  They are super, super filling!  Very good, but it would be hard to finish one (the kids seemed to do okay though, but they weren't hungry again until supper).

They freeze beautifully and toast up even better the next morning.  Here is Parker's toasted waffle with fresh blueberries (these waffles pair splendidly with fresh fruit) and real maple syrup.

I decided these waffles are the answer to the world's hunger issues.*  High in protein, filling, yummy, easy to make, and easy to store.  Problem solved.

*Not to make light of a serious issue like hunger.  Here is a real way to make a difference.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fourth Festivities, Friends, and Food

What do vegans eat at all the summer cookouts?  Especially, for vegans in the US, on July 4th.  In the VeganLinda house, we don't have any one particular dish we make every Fourth of July.  I always like to try out new things since we usually have busy schedule of cookouts and parties to attend.  This year, I felt like our weekends have been jammed packed and we needed to try for a "relaxing" long weekend.  We worked in our yard, the garden, took care of neighbor's plants, attended a neighborhood parade, Rob went to the Market at the Square, I did my radio show, we spent a lot of time at the pool, etc.  We did not make it to a couple cookouts we were invited to because life is just too busy, but we did have a mini impromptu cookout at our house with my sister and Stuart and Loretta and family.  Hosting a meal with Loretta as a guest is always the best because she brings so much wonderful vegan food.  Really all we did was clean off our long neglected grill (it hasn't bee used for almost four years) and make a quick dish or two.  Loretta's omni sister, Katie, visiting from Virginia even made and brought some delish vegan cupcakes.  We might just have to invite them over every night.

Here is some of the spread:  Grilled portobello mushrooms (bread, fixings, and mushrooms all provided by Loretta and Co.), Propect Park Potato Salad (Loretta again, from Veganomicon), Spicy Sesame Noodles with Green Beans (Rob made this from 1,000 Vegan Recipes), grilled bbq seitan (Loretta and Co.).  David did the grilling, which we all appreciate, since I never grill and it is not Rob's favorite thing to do.  Rob also made a huge batch roasted red pepper hummus (not shown).  I was so incredibly stuffed by the end of the meal!  We watched the fireworks from our roof (we have a Captain's Walk), but all the kids were a little nervous about being on top of the house (even though our boys ask to go up there all the time).  All in all, a very nice holiday!

The leftovers the next day were just as good; grilled portobellos on whole wheat buns with the roasted red pepper hummus, avocado, and tomatoes.   A peach and nectarine from the Market at the Square, round out this lovely lunch.

Some years we participate in our "big" parade in town.  Either on a Homebirth is Healthy float or with the Anti-war Anti-Racism folks, but since Josie was born we've opted for the cute little "parade" around one of our neighborhood parks.  No long waiting in the heat.  We walked down with the kids on their bikes, chat a bit with neighbors, the kids bike a few blocks, and we make it home before 10am.  Some years that is the extent of the excitement I need.  We don't decorate the kids' bikes, but this year Parker's red/white bike worked well with Dema's blue bike.

It was already very hot and humid at nine in the morning, but that didn't stop the boys from having fun.  All the brotherly love definitely put me in a celebrating mood.

Josie was a little less festive since she woke up early on the wrong side of the bed, but it was nothing a little nap couldn't fix.  She was ready to party that evening when her buddy, Teagan, showed up.

Fried Green Tomatoes

I woke up waaaayyyy too early this morning and got nothing productive done before Josie and Rob woke up.  The three of us hung out preparing for the normal Saturday summer routine of biking to the Market at the Square and afternoon pottery/art classes for the kids.  The boys slept and slept until Josie and I grew impatient and went upstairs to wake them up.  This resulted in me somehow falling back to sleep and waking up to an empty house.  The family left without me, but I wasn't too disappointed since the day turned into a scorcher with humidity that makes you want to hang out on the porch (that is the coolest place "in" the house on days like today) in the hammock.  My family took pity on my tired/lame self and brought me brunch.  Common Ground Co-op debuted their new vegan breakfast burrito and my family delivers.  The combo of rice, black beans, scrambled tofu, and potatoes topped with salsa was just what I needed to get recharged for the afternoon.  Thank you, awesome co-op, thank you thoughtful family!

Rob and I don't remember actually eating fried green tomatoes before, but I'm sure we've talked about making fried green tomatoes.  This year, I understand why people started eating them.  We lovingly started most of our tomato plants inside from seed (thanks to Kate and Ben for the lights!) this year and I swear it seems like they are taking forever to ripen.  I finally found a few in the garden which were big enough to eat green and I noticed that my magical cookbook (1,000 Vegan Recipes) has two fried green tomato recipes (I know!).  After a lovely swim in our neighbors' Greg and Vicky's pool, we were cool enough to actually cook.  Rob felt inspired by our July 4th to grill portobello mushrooms outside.  I decided on the Panko-Fried Green Tomatoes with Peanut Sauce from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.  The tomatoes were a hit and the sauce was excellent.  So fast, so easy, so good!  While Rob was grilling the mushrooms, we chatted on our porch with neighbors, Katie and Ian and their adorable two year old daughter played with Josie.  Then our neighbor, Dave, biked up and asked if we would like some ripe tomatoes from his awesome garden.  Hell yes!  I know I've said it a million times, but I looovvveee our neighborhood!  I bought 10 lbs of fresh organic blueberries from a farmer in Indiana, through Strawberry Fields and we are quickly working our way through them.  The berries were a snack for Josie and her friend while they played and the leftovers made their way to the dinner plate as well.  Rob roasted some peppers to top the mushrooms, ripe tomatoes also topped the mushrooms thanks to Dave.  Thanks to Loretta, we had to have focaccia bread from our local bakery, Pekara, for the mushrooms.  We also sauteed some kale from the garden (not pictured, I was trying to catch the last rays of sun...we ate dinner by citronella candlelight on the porch).  I used blackstrap molasses in the peanut sauce instead of sugar and double the recipe.  I am so glad I did, the sauce is great on anything!

I'll leave you with Fried Green Tomatoes, the movie.  I couldn't find my favorite line by Sipsey, "A big old ox like Grady won't sit next to a coloured child, but he eats eggs which shoot right out of a chicken's ass."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Louisville with Loretta

Loretta took her awesome sister to Louisville, KY yesterday and asked if I wanted to tag along.  I was in desperate need of a road trip and Loretta's entertaining husband, David, was up for watching their two kids plus my three until Rob got off work.  It was fun to have hours of uninterrupted chatting and so relaxing to sit down for dinner without worrying about little ones.  After a quick peek at the Swan Dive (while it was a place where I might have eaten, if I was alone with Rob...minors are not just wasn't the type of place we were in the mood for at all), we decided to eat at Ramsi's Cafe on the World instead.  Loretta had eaten at Ramsi's before and highly recommend the food and the ambiance.  I will always go with Loretta's restaurant choices from now on.  The food was excellent, the staff was extremely nice and helpful, and the restaurant itself was very large and nice with ample outdoor and inside seating.

I started off with a Raspberry Rum Martini.  The tilt to the picture is apropos of how one will be seeing the world if they drink many of these rum martinis with just the right amount of sweetness.

It was very hard to choose from all the delicious sounding veg options which were all clearly marked on the menu.  From appetizers to sandwiches to entrees and side dishes (I didn't look at the desserts), there was plenty to tempt any vegan.  We shared the Vegan Original Foccacia.  All the portions were quite large and the foccacia was a taste of what was to come.  It was quite good with vegan feta cheese, pesto, and tomatoes.  We didn't come close to finishing it, but it was still excellent as leftovers.

I ordered the Egyptian Kitchen, highly recommended by Loretta, and was not disappointed.  Lentils, chickpeas, and as many refined carbs as you could possibly pile on one dish (datilini, white rice, and angel hair) topped with fried onions and a zesty harissa sauce.  Good thing I had nothing to eat all day, but even so I took home at least half the dish to enjoy at breakfast this morning.

Loretta ordered the Roasted Vegetable Masala which is described on the menu as roasted sweet potatoes, oven tomatoes, carrots, peas, raisins, chickpeas, and potatoes in a traditional Indian tomato sauce served over Basmati rice with Indian paratha.  There seemed to be seitan added to this dish as well.  I had a taste and it was also quite good and bountiful.  Loretta also took home a good portion of her meal.

As if all of the above was not enough, we shared samosas which always hit the spot, but I rarely eat due to them being deep fried.  Quite tasty.

I may have followed dinner up with one more Raspberry Rum Martinis, but who is counting?  Thank goodness Loretta was driving.

We went for a stroll down Bardstown Rd., an area I highly recommend you visit when in Louisville.  We encountered quite a few cyclists and a surprising number of pedestrians and diners for a Tuesday night along the mile or so stretch.  We were seeking out Ray's Monkey House for a caffeine fix before hitting the road again, but sadly the Monkey House seems to be no more.  We were able to find iced soy lattes at a cool fair trade coffee shop on the way back the car, so all was not lost.  The walk did us both good after the car ride and the filling meal.  All in all it was quite a pleasant visit to Kentucky (not something I often think to say as someone from Illinois).  Great conversation, yummy vegan food, and a quite adult night.  Don't feel bad for the kids left behind, they had an absolute blast with "Mr. David"; lollipops, movies, and an expedition to "bug city", "magic rocks", "healing tree", "throwing rock bridge", "the wishing bee hive", etc.  Rob and David fed the kids dinner and had them asleep when we arrived home.  We might have to find another excuse for a road trip soon.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Blueberry-Blackberry-Gooseberry Grunt

I've mentioned that berries rarely are made into anything in our house and are instead eaten au naturel, but we have a plethora of frozen blueberries so I tried making Vegan Yum Yum's Blueberry Grunt a couple weeks was a total fail.  I mean we actually had to compost some of it.  I asked my sister to try it and she gagged and couldn't swallow.  The kids ate the fruit, but the dough part was really inedible.  This is Vegan Yum Yum we are talking about so I was sure it was something I did wrong.  As far as I know, I've never eaten a grunt before, but I've had cobbler and I knew this is not what it should taste like.  First, I used white whole wheat flour which is my flour of choice and I use it instead of all purpose flour all the time with excellent results, but maybe it added to the bitter taste of my grunt.  We also buy our baking soda and baking powder in similar Bob's Red Mill bags so I may have put baking soda in for baking powder.  That would probably account for the bitter taste.  I also cooked it the 20 minutes, but it was too long.  All of these things aligned in such a way that I was left defeated.
Thursday I went to the Farmers Market on Historic N. 1st St. with the kids and picked up some black berries (among other things).  See Dema above, very happy to be carrying some of our market loot to the bikes.  The kids ate their fill at the library after the market and I still had a few left over.
The week before I picked up gooseberries.  I wanted to do something special with the gooseberries since they remind me of my maternal step-grandmother (my biological grandmother died of a heart attack at 52 when I was too young to remember her) who loved gooseberry pie.  Grandma Mary was diabetic most of the time she was in my life and she had an amazing sweet tooth and gooseberry pie seemed, to my young mind, to be my grandmother's obsession.  I was an extremely picky eater in my youth and don't think I ever let a slice of gooseberry pie pass my lips, much to Grandma Mary's disdain and frustration (I wouldn't put a worm on a hook and felt sorry for the fish when they were caught on those frequent summer days at their lake cabin, which was also the source of much eye rolling and grumbling from my fisher woman grandmother.  Too bad she did not live long enough to be annoyed at my veganism, it was bad enough for her when I stopped eating mammals.)  As much as my grandmother never really understood me, I do have fond memories of being at her house and the many cousins her marriage to my grandfather brought into my life and being surrounded by home-cooked food, billiards, playing cards, swimming in the lake, riding in the boat, etc.  Thus, the gooseberries caught my eye and I knew I had to buy them.  Josie, of course, ate many of them while I was paying the farmer, discussing the origin of gooseberries, and how to prepare them if they didn't all get eaten before we arrived home.  I ended up putting some in a green smoothie, at Josie's request so I didn't have enough left for a pie.
Last night, I decided to try the grunt again and added the blackberries and the few gooseberries I had left to the frozen blueberries.  I used all purpose flour that was in the back of my freezer (we rarely use it) and made sure to grab baking powder, not soda.  Everything came together nicely and the grunt was a success!  My sister was here to have some so her first grunt experience wouldn't leave a bad taste in her mouth.  I topped it with a little vanilla rice cream and everyone was happy.  I think even Grandma Mary would have approved.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Love the Smell of Sambar in the Morning

Yesterday morning, I woke up to the smell of sambar cooking on the stove.  It smelled like...dinner!
Dinner was coconut chutney, vada, sambar, uttapam, and dried figs for dessert.  I think Rob used Dakshin:  Vegetarian Cuisine from South India by Chandra Padmanabhan for the recipes.  When we lived in Maryland, pre-kids, Rob used to cook from this book quite often, but it can be time consuming to cook Indian from scratch.  I don't have the patience.  Rob started this meal a couple days ago.  Things have to soak and ferment, etc.  He made the sambar this morning so it would be one less step when he arrived home from work.  I love that he isn't daunted by the process and I get to eat the results.  Our stomachs were quite full of Indian goodness last night.  Thanks, sweetie!