Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tempeh with Potatoes and Cabbage or Farewell VeganMoFo

Tempeh with Potatoes and Cabbage (1,000 Vegan Recipes) and Berry Smoothie (by Parker)

If there is one vegetable Rob and I don't reach for often, it is cabbage.  I don't know why, but we rarely buy it and when it comes in a CSA share, I leave it until I have to make something with it.  The one exception is sauerkraut.  We love sauerkraut and Rob has been known to eat it straight from the jar.  Sauerkraut is what saved me from making a mistake and overlooking this recipe from 1,000 Vegan Recipes forever.  I had a package of tempeh in the back of the refrigerator that was dangerously close to going into the compost bin when I decided to open 1,000 Vegan Recipes to see if any of the tempeh recipes spoke to me.  I don't know why I even looked at Tempeh with Potatoes and Cabbage because it doesn't really sound super appealing and I had no cabbage.  I looked anyway and I am so glad I did!  I, obviously, used Robin's sauerkraut option she mentions at the beginning of the recipe so I can't vouch for plain ole cabbage, but I might buy some just to try it out.  This dish is that good.  She says it is "stick-to-your ribs cold-weather comfort food" and she is right.  It is also one of those meals my family was talking about days after.  It is oh so easy and I served it over whole wheat pasta just because, but I think it would be great by itself or over brown rice or quinoa.  Vegan sour cream is an optional ingredient and I just happened to have a bit also in the back of the refrigerator needing to be used or composted.  I love it when meals just come together and I get to clean out my refrigerator at the same time.  Parker completed the meal by throwing some frozen berries (I think he used blueberries and blackberries), flax seeds, beets, almond milk, and rolled oats in the Vitamix for a tasty dessert.
Don't forget to head over to Vegan MoFo Headquarters to make sure you didn't miss out on any notable posts this November.  It was so nice to read new blogs and see old favorites do a bit more blogging this month.  See ya in December.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seitan Noodle Casserole and Broccoli Soup

 Broccoli Soup (loosely based on V-con recipe) and Seitan Noodle Casserole (from 1,000 Vegan Recipes)

A family pleaser from the week before Thanksgiving.  Often I have dinner to put on the table and then I need to run to a meeting or the gym so I like to have meals I can stick in the oven or let simmer on the stove.  This way the food is ready when people are ready to eat, but I can cook when it works into my schedule for the day.  As I've stated before, I'm not a huge plan ahead kind of gal, but I do have key ingredients in the back of my mind.  I asked Rob to cook up a double batch of Simple Seitan from Veganomicon since we hadn't made seitan in a while.  The double batch was added to a wide variety of dishes throughout the week.  On this particular night, I searched my magic cookbook (1,000 Vegan Recipes) for seitan and the above is what I came up with.  Seitan Noodle Casserole is satisfying comfort food.  It is also a great way to get non-mushroom loves to eat them.  I used whole wheat pasta and topped it with chopped walnuts instead of vegan Parmesan.  I started making Broccoli-Potato Soup with Fresh Herbs from Veganomicon, but I was low on fresh herbs so I winged it (adding za'atar, of course, because I'm obsessed).  I also used sweet potatoes from our garden instead of white potatoes.  Broccoli soup is super nutritious, fulfilling, versatile, and delicious.  If I don't know what make to go with a main dish, in cool weather broccoli soup is often the answer.

 Crispy Tofu with Sizzling Caper Sauce (from 1,000 Vegan Recipes)

Here is a bonus picture of Crispy Tofu with Sizzling Caper Sauce from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.  We've already made it again since our first experience.  This is also a great quick addition to any meal.
As VeganMoFo 2010 draws to a close, I was reflecting on how often to blog and find that while I didn't write every day in November, by a long shot, I do enjoy updating the ole blog more often.  I have several posts in my drafts folder and in my mind.  I think my kids might get more involved as well.  My ten year old, Parker, is starting a homeschooling project today and he would like to share it with all of you when he is done.  Sometimes, I will log what we eat for a week or two to see how it stacks up nutritionally or to help others see what we eat.  This time, Parker is logging and choosing all his food himself.  He will use the nutrition info online to see how he does for a week.  He'll do a guest post at the end of the week to let you know what he learned.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Present

When we finally made the decision this year to stay home, Rob had already arranged for a week off from work.  He decided to go ahead with the time off, even with more layoffs looming, so we could get some things done on the house and maybe relax a bit.  We went back and forth on what to do for Thanksgiving and we went with Rob's idea of an Indian food feast.  As I've mentioned before, we all enjoy Indian culture and food so it seemed like a great plan.  Rob and I have issues with Thanksgiving and what it is supposed to celebrate.  Of course, a day of gratitude I can get behind, but the horrible history of genocide and deceit should make the Thanksgiving myth hard for any of us to swallow.  We have friends who fast on Thanksgiving and I understand their reasons.  We've decided to take back Thanksgiving and make it a time of deep thought, reflection, and a time to count our blessings.  We both loved the irony of feasting on cuisine from the the area in the world which was the destination for Columbus, which had an impact beyond imagination on the people of the time.
One of the things Rob is particularly grateful for this year is spices.  So incredibly appropriate for our celebration.  We do love our spices and we are so very abundantly endowed.
We have an entire little table to hold our most often used spices and a cabinet for our more exotic spices or surplus of other spices, since we usually buy organic in bulk and refill old spice jars.
We think a lot about what we eat and where it comes from and spices are sometimes taken for granted these days, but spices have a long and important history which has touched more than just food.
I know, I know, get to the food.  Rob started cooking Wednesday night because he just couldn't wait.  There was a Diwali celebration at his office, a couple weeks ago, and Rob cooked up over ten pounds of chole/channa masala (an Indian chickpea curry) for the event and one of his friends loaned him traditional dress (see picture above).  The recipe he used was from Manjula's Kitchen website.  It was quite good and disappeared quickly so he was tempted to use the same recipe.  I talked him into using The Asian Vegan Kitchen because we were so taken with the aloo gobi.  At first, Rob was worried the channa masala was going to disappoint, but it ended up being one of his favorites from our Thanksgiving spread.  I think making it the night before was genius because Indian is so much better the next day, after the spices have a chance to meld.
Our buffet with aloo gobi (Cauliflower and Potato with Spices from The Asian Vegan Kitchen), baingan bburta (Spicy Roasted Eggplant Curry from The Asian Vegan Kitchen), and channa masala (Chickpea Curry from The Asian Vegan Kitchen).  You can also see the pumpkin in the background which our neighbor, Margie, gave us before Halloween and Dema cut and cleaned so I would make the pumpkin pie I had promised him since the pumpkins arrived.  Yes, we had pumpkin pie for dessert.  I was going to make sheera (Semolina Pudding which is Indian, but we went with the pumpkin pie for Dema instead).
The okra drying for the bhindi masala (Rob used the recipe from Manjula's Kitchen).  We had okra all over the kitchen.  Bhindi is one of my favorite ways to eat okra.
Gita and her family came over for Thanksgiving.  We've been talking about having an Indian potluck for a while and this was a great excuse to do it.  Gita is an expert with Indian and she brought Mutter Paneer, which was a real treat because we never eat paneer in restaurants since it is a cubed cheese.  Gita used frozen tofu thawed then fried for the paneer, with great success.  It was one of Dema's favorite dishes of the day.  Gita brought raita with soy yogurt, a cooling condiment we rarely eat unless we are at Gita's.  Gita also brought basmati rice, her rice cooker, and spices to make lovely rice and she made the dough to fry poori.  For some reason, the poori did not really puff up much, but deep fried bread is a hit either way.  Rob made aloo paratha from Manjula's Kitchen for our bread contribution and biryani (from The Asian Vegan Kitchen) for our rice contribution.  The biryani soaked cooked for a little too long so it was a tad sticky, but we'll definitely make it again when timing is not an issue.  Not pictured is Gita's perfect gin and tonics and the pumpkin pie (see that below with the picture of leftovers).  We chatted with Gita and her family almost into the next day.  When we finally went to bed, we were warm and full.
Obviously, we made enough food to feed several families so we had lots yummy leftovers.  Indian is always better leftover, in my opinion, so we were super happy to indulge in homemade Indian food for a couple days after.  Here is breakfast Friday with mango juice (don't know why I didn't remember we had this on Thanksgiving).   Our Thanksgiving this year was aromatic, delicious, nontraditional, and oh so enjoyable.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Ghost of Thanksgiving Past

This year we decided to stay home for Thanksgiving and we had a lovely Indian feast.  Our friends/neighbors, Gita and Seth came with their girls and my sister was here, but I'll cover this year tomorrow.  Today I don't feel like uploading pictures and I still have some dishes to do so I'll share last year's Thanksgiving instead.  I never posted about Thanksgiving 2009 because we spent the week in North Carolina visiting Rob's family.  I always feel so busy when we arrive home that I don't get around to blogging about our trips.
Thanksgiving 2009 was very traditional, or at close as we get.  We stayed most of the week with Rob's cousins John and Jamie. They are so incredibly sweet and generous to open up their home to a family of five, especially when they don't have any human children (horses at their country place and dogs and the dogs had to spend most of the time outside because they don't do well with kids).  Not only did we stay several nights, but on Thanksgiving Rob's family, on his mother's side, converged on their house for lunch.  Here is a picture of some of the kids.  My kids only have one first cousin (my brother and sister don't have any children) so they adore getting together with extended family and running around with a hoard of cousins.
One of the nice things about spending Thanksgiving in North Carolina is the weather.  We had beautiful weather so the kids could spend a good portion of the day running around outside and some of us ate outside in John and Jamie's beautiful yard.  What a contrast to Thanksgiving this year in the Midwest.  It was cold and rainy and we even saw the first snow of the season.  As nice as this year's Thanksgiving was, I have to admit looking back at these pictures does make me appreciate this part of our celebration last year.
John and Jamie were gracious with their kitchen and we pretty much had the run of it to cook up our vegan fare.  Rob has been vegan over twenty years, but I fear many in his family still don't quite understand it.  We made collards and when people arrived with collards (as all good Southerns do on Thanksgiving) they questioned why we went to the trouble to make our own.  Our collards were the only ones not "seasoned" with meat, of course.
I also whipped up some Car Crash Casserole and Field Roast Sausage.  Rob's sister-in-law, Stephanie, roasted some squash which rounded everything out nicely.  The food was great and none of us went hungry.  It was hard for the kids to see a turkey being carved, but it was a good time to discuss how to respect our loved ones, even when we don't agree with certain actions.  I feel torn sometimes about how much to suppress or discourage certain questions from the kids.  Dema, especially, feels compelled to ask people about their food choices and bring up the cruelty involved in meat.  While I understand where he is coming from, I think there are times and places for such discussions and our views on the subject are not a secret.  Sigh, I'll save this for another post, but holidays with family are always bittersweet, veganism or no.
Speaking of sweet, we made two Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecakes from Fat Free Vegan and it was divine.  Sadly, pretty much no one else would try it...being a "vegan" dessert and all, but there was a brave soul or two.  More for us! Other sweet parts of our holiday included Dema on cloud nine playing cards with everyone, all the cousins running around laughing and jumping rope, Rob's uncle's wife from Russia teaching Parker new logic games, seeing the newest additions to the family so Josie and I could get our baby fix, watching The Count of Monte Cristo with Rob's nuclear family in the evening after everyone else had gone and our kids and their cousin, Lillian, sneaking down to watch long after they should have been in bed, Josie passing out from exhaustion after playing and laughing for so many hours straight, and all the adults catching up on each others lives.  It makes me miss Rob's mother, although she died from cancer in her early fifties, years before I met him.  It makes me miss Rob's grandparents, whom I did know and love, and how they hosted Thanksgiving every year before his grandmother passed away.  The family is still feeling their way through losing their matriarch, which is understandable.  It was so lovely how everyone made it a priority to get together even without the glue of the Joyce and how new traditions may be able to emerge.
On the long drive home to Illinois from North Carolina, we stopped at Stephanie's parents' cabin in the mountains.  Stephanie and Marc (Rob's brother) and their daughter Lillian are also quite accommodating and generous with their time and space.  Visiting them is always the highlight of any trip south.  The five of us crash for a couple nights at their house nearly every trip.  Stephanie's parents are so sweet to the kids and we all love visiting them.  Their getaway house in the mountains is beautiful and being from the flat Midwest, I completely understand the allure of such a place.
Since Dema was not exactly cooperating in the group picture, I snapped some of him at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  We've found Indy is a great stop before we make the final leg of our trip and the museum lets the kids get some suppressed energy out.
All three kids love ICM and are happy to spend hours there, but while I love to have a break, I'm usually pretty spent from all the driving and living out of suitcases.  This year it was nice to stay home and cook in our own kitchen.  I would love for Rob's family to come to our place one Thanksgiving, but I know this will probably never happen.  Being the odd ones out, living out of state, the traveling is usually ours to do.  So we enjoy my family and friends when we have holidays at home.  I'll post about our 2010 Thanksgiving feast tomorrow.  I hope all of you in the US had a great Thanksgiving and some rest and relaxation.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

'Tis the Season

 Does anyone else out there have difficulty resisting seasonal non-dairy milks?  Come on, admit it, they are addicting.  I know they have more calories than eating a spoonful of sugar, but I can't help myself with the pretty packaging and the allure of something which is only around for a limited time.  I make myself feel better by cutting a glass of seasonal succulence with enriched non-flavored non-dairy milk and lately even adding DHA (more on that in a later post), but I still indulge.  Oh yes, I do!
Sauteed kale with scrambled tofu and hash browns help to round out our breakfast of Pumpkin Spice Silk (complete with a pinch of Ceylon cinnamon).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Slow-Simmered Collard Greens

This past Saturday was the Thanksgiving potluck for our local Vegan Meet-up group.  In the stereotypical S(tandard)A(merican)D(iet) Thanksgiving fashion, we all stuffed ourselves silly and appeared to be in food comas for a few minutes.  The food was just so good!  I wish I had pictures, but alas, I was too busy stuffing my face and helping the kids' fill their bellies (Rob was at a friend's 50th birthday party so he missed out).
 I did take a picture of the leftovers from the dish we contributed (Rob actually cooked it, but I picked it out), Slow-Simmered Collard Greens from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.  Yes, I am the one who brings the greens to the party.  I figured mashed potatoes and seitan dishes would be abundant and we all needed a little green to round out our meal.  I feel a bit like the Vegan Meet-up den mother encouraging the kids to eat their greens, but don't write this dish off too fast.  The optional and I would say "secret" ingredient in Robin's recipe is chipotle chili in adobo sauce.  I am a fan of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce and often have the remainder of a can in the refrigerator since a little goes a long way.  The little chipotle zing was what transformed a possibly obligatory eating of the greens to a "Who made the collards?!" kind of dish.  People were pleasantly surprised and asking for the special ingredient.
I baked up some tofu for Sunday breakfast and Rob and I enjoyed the last of the collards as the kids got stuck with the apple walnut steal cut oatmeal and whole wheat blueberry pancakes.  We didn't feel like sharing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Aloo Gobi or Cauliflower and Potato with Spices

Oh how I've missed blogging.  My computer completely bit the dust in the middle of VeganMoFo.  I am up and running on a new machine and can't wait to share so many different foods we've been enjoying over the last week and a half.
The other day while surfing my local library website, I put a few vegan cookbooks on hold.  A short decade or so ago, I would just buy any cookbook with the word vegan in the title.  Vegan cookbooks were few and far between.  Now, it seems everyone has a vegan cookbook out, even non-vegans.  While, I am pleased to see veganism crowding the shelves in bookstores, I am not so quick to snatch up each and every vegan cookbook with my hard earned money.  I love to be able to test drive a cookbook by borrowing it from my local library.  One of the cookbooks I have on loan this month is The Asian Vegan Kitchen Authentic and Appetizing Dishes from a Continent of Rich Flavors by Hema Parekh.  This cookbook attracted me because it features vegan recipes from all over Asia, but I didn't have high hopes.  We have quite a few Indian and Thai cookbooks and still find ourselves scouring YouTube for cooking videos and blogs for tried and true recipes.

Our love of Indian food and culture is no secret.  My first love, when introduced to Indian food years ago, was Aloo Gobi.  A spicy mixture of potatoes and cauliflower sealed my fate, to forever adore Indian cuisine.  Since my love affair began, years ago, I have branched out to many other dishes as my love of darker vegetables evolved and the pale Aloo Gobi is no longer my go-to dish when eating Indian in a restaurant or at home.  It has been way too long since I tasted the dish which sparked my interest in all things Indian. 
Rob cooked the first recipe from The Asian Vegan Kitchen on my prodding to whip up some Aloo Gobi.  OMG!  The house was soon filled with an amazing aroma and my mouth was literally watering.  When we finally sat down to eat, I was not disappointed.  The dish was probably the best Aloo Gobi I have ever tasted.  In some restaurants, I find Aloo Gobi a tad greasy.  Not so with Hema Parekh's version.  It was spot on.  The perfect amount of spice, we like things spicy at Case Vegan Linda, but it wasn't so spicy to induce water chugging and nose blowing.  We served it over brown rice, although basmati would have been more traditional.  I wouldn't change a thing.  Parker had two large servings and all Rob cooked was consumed in record time, although Rob and I intentionally restrained ourselves.  We will be making this dish again (Rob assures me it was quite simple) and we look forward to trying so many of Hema's other recipes.  She covers India, Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Indonesia, Malysia, and Korea.  Her forward is delightful and she talks about how she tried to stay with recipes which are traditionally vegan instead of relying on a lot of substitutions.  Hema titles her recipes as English descriptions, but includes the traditional dish's name as well.  Appetizing pictures are included, which always makes me happy.  We've already decided this is a cookbook we must own.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crispy Tofu with Sizzling Caper Sauce

When I first started cooking from Vegan Planet, I was intimidated by the long or expressive sounding titles to Robin's recipes.  I quickly got over this and realized although the titles were great and very descriptive, it didn't necessarily mean the recipe was difficult.  Now I look forward to seeing what Robin comes up with in each new cookbook.
Tonight my sister had a friend over for dinner so I felt a little more pressure to make something good and hearty, but I ended up with just one hour to decide what to make and cook it.  I decided on Chickpea Noodle Soup from Veganomicon because we had chickpeas in the refrigerator and Parker has been asking for this soup.  I realized too late, I didn't have an udon noodles, or noodles of any kind, so I subbed some star pasta, we had in the deep dark corners of the cabinet.  I ended up adding more water to account for the different type of pasta, but it turned out fine and even easier for the kids to eat than noodle soup.  I'll have to make it with star pasta from now on.  I didn't want to just serve soup, especially since the weather is super warm for November this week.  I went to my favorite "go to" cookbook (1,000 Vegan Recipes) and looked under her fast recipes (they are labeled and indexed).  I only had 15 minutes before our guest would arrive and I really had no clue what to pick.  Then Crispy Tofu with Sizzling Caper Sauce caught my eye.  Anything with capers is pretty much a must make in our house.
I doubled the recipe so we were a little late sitting down at the dinner table, since I had to fry the tofu in batches, but it was a complete hit. The guest even took the last few pieces home with him which always makes me happy.  It didn't photograph well in kitchen after dark, but you can see the top view and side view.  I promise it tastes much better than it looks.
Rob can't wait for us to make this dish again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Birthday Cakes

I am such an awful mother, I haven't posted about several of my children's birthdays.  I'll have to do so soon.  The kids love to go to my blog and check out the pictures and I write more for me and the family than anyone out there who might be reading.  I wasn't going to mention this cake until I mentioned Josie's 3rd birthday, but here ya go.
My sister asked me to make a cake for her PhD advisor the night before she needed the cake.  I had some leftover icing from Josie's birthday cake (Raspberry Frosted Cake with Chocolate Cream Center...I can not believe I haven't blogged about this cake before, it is hands down the kids' favorite cake), but not much else in the house.  I scoured my cookbooks looking for a cake I could bake without running to the store.  Veganomicon's Lower-Fat Deep Chocolate Bundt Cake to the rescue!
Rob brewed some coffee for me, yes folks, I have never brewed coffee and have no idea how to do it, but the recipe calls for it.  I used white whole wheat flour and it worked out perfectly.  I added the raspberry icing and some dark chocolate chips and voila!  Karen, my sister, said it was a crowd pleaser.  I will make it for my family around the holidays, but use decaf coffee.  Luckily, you don't even have to own Veganomicon (like there is anyone out there who doesn't already have a copy) to make this easy yet delicious cake.  Check out the recipe here.
Speaking of cake, our friends, Faith and Wade (the organizers for our local vegan meet-up) sweetly brought over two scrumptious cakes for my birthday last night.  I usually don't celebrate my birthday, but it was nice to have some cake, wine, and chat.  The Green Tomato Spice Cake (left) is a great idea for using up the last of our tomatoes.  I found a recipe here.  It was a hit for the entire family.  Josie asked for more as soon as she woke up this morning.  The Vegan Pumpkin Cake with Cranberry-Walnut Streusel (right) was also wonderful.  I love pumpkin and cranberry this time of year and I could eat walnuts every day.  I don't know if this recipe is the one Faith used, but it looks close.  I may have enjoyed a slice of each this morning for breakfast, with my organic peony white tea, sitting on the porch this unseasonably warm November morning.  Thanks Faith and Wade!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Chicago Diner

I blogged about Karyn's Cooked so I can't leave out one of our favorite places to eat comfort food in the city, The Chicago Diner.  Our friend, Todd, used to live quite close to the Chicago Diner so he is always happy to trek over there with us when we come to town.  I think this last visit to Chicago Diner might have been my best visit ever.  I hear they are opening a second location and I wish them continued success and look forward to eating there.
We felt a little guilty, but we went to The Chicago Diner for a late breakfast before heading over to Vegan Mania.  We knew we were ruining out appetites for the yummy food at VM, but it was our only chance to head to the diner.  For those of you who haven't been there, it is very kid-friendly and serves comfort food as healthy (or not) as you like.
I think I ordered the Egg-Biscuit Sandwich (that is the only thing that fits the description on the online menu).  The Chicago Diner is veg, not vegan, but almost everything can be made vegan.  The menu is clearly marked (it appears they even have gluten free options marked now) and wait staff is knowledgeable. This sandwich was so scrumptious, I can't even begin to tell you.  I went with the optional vegan cheese (I'm guessing Daiya), but would probably get it without next time.  I'm sure it is excellent either way.  The kale and fruit really made the dish for me.  It was comfort food with some nutrition which is my favorite way to eat.  Oh how I wish we had a vegan breakfast/brunch place in my town.  I could eat one of these every day.
Dema ordered a vegan Grilled Cheeze, but could only finish half.  It was very rich with Daiya cheese!  We took the rest to go, but he had room to mooch off all our plates.  We had to order a fruit side because the kids wouldn't leave my fruit alone.
Parker ordered the French Toast Combo and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Two slices of vegan french toast, scrambled tofu, dinner style potatoes, seitan sausage patty, and fruit.  How could you not?
Rob ordered Country Fried "Steak" which was enjoyed by all of us.  We didn't order anything separate for Josie since we didn't want to lug a bunch of leftovers around with us at Vegan Mania so she took some off all our plates.  No one went hungry, that is for sure!
The icing on the meal was a Vegan Cinnamon Roll, which we all split.  I have to make these at home sometime soon.

After blogging about awesome Chicago veg restaurants, we might just have to schedule a trip to the city to celebrate my birthday.

Craving Karyn's Cooked

Several times in the last couple weeks, my friend, Loretta, and I have had the same conversation about where to go out for dinner.  Our small twin college towns have a lot to offer and many restaurants have vegan options, but we are missing a nice all-vegan or even vegetarian restaurant.  Yes, we have The Red Herring and I love it for what it is, but being only open during the school year and for lunch leaves a lot to be desired. Our search for a nice place to eat good quality vegan food, made me crave Karyn's Cooked.
The family took the train to Chicago a couple weekends ago to visit friends, attend a Michael Franti (my favorite vegan artist) concert, and Vegan Mania.  While we were in the Windy City, we took advantage of a few of the fabulous veg restaurants the city has to offer.  Rob and even the kids have eaten at Karyn's several times since it is close to our friends' Todd and Katherine's place and it is really excellent food.  This was my first chance to partake and I will definitely be back again.
Parker patiently waiting for me to take a picture so he can enjoy his Potato Soup and Cornbread.
Karyn's is not what most people would consider kid-friendly.  It takes a while to be served and there isn't a lot of seating so even a family of five is a little cramped, let alone going with a couple families (which we tried before and gave up).  It is worth the wait, though.  Parker shared some of his soup and cornbread since his sibs were obviously dying of starvation.  He is a soup guy and gave this two thumbs way up.
Artistic shot of Dema and his Homestyle Meat Loaf with Mashed Potatoes and Shiitake Gravy and Steamed Broccoli.  Dema and Josie fought over the broccoli, which was steamed to perfection.  Dema devoured the mashed potatoes, but even though it was his idea to order the meat loaf, he was a little weirded out by it.  We don't do loafs often, I can't remember ever making one.  He ate a few bites, but I think he was pretty full...just look at that plate full of food!  No worries, Rob and I took care of the leftovers after the Michael Franti concert.  Delish!
We ordered an appetizer Vegan Pizza for Josie and this is what they brought out.  Don't you hate it when restaurants have tiny appetizers and you can barely share them with the family?  Not so with this pizza.  We could have just ordered this and been satisfied.  Okay, this bit was a tad confusing.  We took a piece of this pizza and the server came over and apologized for giving us the wrong one.  She whisked the remaining pizza away and brought back this.
I am still trying to figure out which menu item is which.  They have listed Vegan Pizza (everything is vegan at Karyn's) and Jerry's Pizza.  I tried both since we had already taken a slice of the first.  They were both very good, but this second one was by far my favorite.  I am drooling just thinking about it.  As you can see, it is piled high with veggies and drizzled with a cheese sauce.  I am not usually a paper thin crust fan, but it is a perfect appetizer pizza crust.
Rob ordered the Reuben Sandwich.  Reubens are one of those things I don't think I ever ate as an omni, but I love as a vegan.  I have to say, we were little disappointed with the Reuben which also carries over to the Steak Sandwich below.  The tofu/seitan steak tasted on the burnt side.  We don't eat a lot of steakish tofu/seitan so maybe they were trying to satisfy meat eaters on this one, which I understand.  We just aren't fans of the charred taste.
Parker ordered the Steak Sandwich.  He was pretty full from the soup, but still made a big dent in his sandwich.  Parker's tofu/seitan steak didn't taste quite as charred as Rob's, but it was still there.  Parker enjoyed his sandwich, but said he would probably order something else next time.
I saved the best for last.  I would marry this Classic Lasagna, if I wasn't already married to the best vegan guy on the planet, of course...oh and if it were legal to marry food, which is isn't.  The point is, this lasagna is completely awesome.  I grew up hating lasagna, too many foods touching each other at the same time, ew!  Going vegan opened up my still pretty young palate to the lusciousness which is lasagna.   I swore I could live on Food for Thought vegan lasagna when we lived in DC.  I would probably give one of my children (just for a couple days) for the Food for Thought vegan lasagna recipe, but sadly FFT is no more, but I hear you can still get the lasagna at Black Cat for people lucky enough to live in the area.  I now love lasagna, just saying.  This lasagna is nothing like FFT's, but my post-three children and now thirty-something body is happy about the differences.  Karyn's lasagna is just the right balance of filling and light.  I felt like I could go on eating it forever and never get that uncomfortable stuffed feeling, but I was completely satisfied after eating one serving.  It was lick your plate good, but I didn't.

We left Karyn's with our to-go bag full, knowing we would be back soon.  Karyn's seems like a great place to take omni friends when you have some time to spend savoring the atmosphere and the cuisine.  I would love to go on a date night with Rob to Karyn's in the near future.  Loretta and I need to do a girls' weekend in Chitown so she can try out Karyn's.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'm Vegan, Now What Do I Put On a Sandwich?

November 3rd was National Sandwich Day so I thought I'd post some vegan options.  Of course, the possibilities are endless, but here are two we enjoy.
Introducing No-Egg Salad and Curried Chickenless Salad Sandwiches from Vegan Planet.  I made both these sandwich fillings for our Halloweegan Party.  It was my first time making No-Egg Salad, but it was a huge hit with the kids.  I make Curried Chickenless Salad pretty regularly, but usually with chickpeas instead of tempeh (recipe calls for tempeh).  Both work, but I prefer the tempeh.  I could eat this stuff with a spoon (okay, I might have eaten a little with a spoon).  I used chipotle relish because that is what I had, so the Curried Chickenless Salad a little more zing.  The No-Egg Salad is tofu based and tasty, but more mellow so I thought the kids at the party might prefer it.  I cut some up with ghost cookie cutters to go with the theme, but felt it was too wasteful (my kids ate the "scraps", but still).  The picture is the last little bit of the spreads for lunch the next day.  I added some za'atar and raw pumpkin seeds to the No-Egg Salad and they are both on Flax Nut Bread from Strawberry Fields.  They are both even better with spinach leaves and shredded carrots and great in a wrap as well as on bread.

Here is a post about Vegan Planet's Curried Chickenless Salad from All That Vegan Jazz.  One of our Halloween party attendees asked about tempeh and what it is exactly.  Many people think of tempeh as a whole food, more so than tofu.  Obviously, I'm not apposed to either.  Here is the wikipedia link about tempeh and the nutritional breakdown.  I have made tofu at home, but not tempeh.  Here is a link on how to make homemade tempeh.  Many people prefer the flavor of tempeh if it is poached first.

You may have noticed, I add raw pumpkin seeds or pepitas to everything from soups to pasta to sandwiches.  This is intentional.  I usually only add a few since they are high in fat, but they are also little tasty nutrient power houses.

I served the sandwiches with black mission figs.  I'll take a second to talk about figs.  I didn't really eat figs before going vegan, but I grew to love them. We buy them in bulk since having kids.  I have figs and a variety of nuts available anytime for their snacking pleasure.  Why?  Well, the taste good, but that is rarely enough for this mom. Figs are naturally sweet, so satisfying to those with a sweet tooth, but also high in nutrients, calcium and iron to name a few.  I started adding a few to my hot cup of tea when Parker was very little.  Figs were hard for him to chew with his small and sporadic baby teeth, but rehydrating them in tea made them easier to chew and added a little sweetness to my cup.  Figs are also high in fiber so I guess you wouldn't want to overdo, but we've never had a problem.  Now that Parker is older, the figs in the tea also turn into a science lesson.  He talks about how it must be a reversible physical change since the fig can be dehydrated then hydrated again.