Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Challenging Times

I started this post several weeks ago so forgive me if it is disjointed...

Several veg bloggers and some locals have been blogging/Facebooking about a very special challenge.  Vegan Hope calls it the 21 Dollar Week Challenge. (Since I started this post, several local bloggers started talking about the SNAP Challenge.  Check out Jacqueline's blog and Kim's.  Natashia of The Voracious Vegan blogging fame, spotlights world hunger.  So many great bloggers talking about hunger local and global, please check them out.)

When I first heard of the 21 Dollar Week Challenge, I thought it was a great idea and I wanted to participate.  $21/week/person (if you just count us, my sister lives and eats here sometimes as well, but I won't include her) would be a food budget of $105/week.  This is about what we spend anyway, but we also have bulk orders through our buying club.  I don't place an order every month, but I do have a well stocked pantry most of the time. We own a Vita-mix, food processor, stand mixer, dehydrator, and other "big ticket" kitchen utensils which make our lives easier and for many on food stamps would not be an option.  I started to think what would I do differently if I stayed strictly to a $105/week food budget and only used our stove/oven (we haven't owned a microwave for over a decade and we don't have a dishwasher).  I then realized it would be hard to really emulate at this current time in our lives what that would feel like.  I was getting caught up in the "rules" of the challenge and I really didn't want that to be the point.  So I decided not to technically participate, but I've been reading many blogs of people who are and I appreciate them.  I decided instead to be more mindful.  To remember...

Growing up, we were a one income family with three children.  My mother didn't have a paying job, but she was busier than anyone else I knew or have met since.  She was involved in so many community organizations, I am not sure how she kept track.  I remember from a very young age being acutely aware of homelessness, poverty, hunger.  I have many memories of my family helping people out in need, sometimes in the middle of the night.  Even after my mother started working (for a non-profit which helped children in our state), she continued with her countless volunteer obligations.  I don't know how much money my parents gave to these organizations, but I assume it was a sizable amount of their income.  At times it made me feel guilty.  We were not rich by any means, but we weren't poor either.  I felt guilty for wanting more or asking for things when so many people had less.  Sometimes I resented the time and energy my mother spent on others, other families, other children...this resentment made me feel like a monster, but it was there, although my mother never neglected to do everything we needed.  As an adult and parent, this amazes me.  I could never do everything she did.  I can not even imagine the number of lives she touched.  At her funeral, it was overwhelming to hear the stories people had to tell.  Yet, I am not sure as a child if all this knowledge was a benefit.  This is one of the issues I struggle with as a parent.  I want my children to be aware and to be compassionate, but I also worry about putting the weight of the world on their young shoulders.

I have never been on food stamps, but I have known a time when I couldn't think much about healthy food.  There was a time years ago when my partner at the time, not Rob, and I lived in a Knight's Inn week to week.  I lived literally on jars of peanut butter and jelly mixed which I would just eat with a spoon and flavored Tums (one's digestion doesn't due well on just eating goobers).  Once I started receiving my paychecks (my partner and I were both employed) we were able to move into an apartment in a different state from my job so being car free, as we are now, was not an option.  Food options improved somewhat since we had a kitchen, but often lunch was soft pretzel sticks or Crazy Bread and dinner was almost always Taco Bell burritos.  It was all we could afford and I didn't know how to cook.  Not that either one of us felt like cooking after working all day and then driving the 40 miles home in south Chicago traffic.  When I would arrive home after closing, usually around 11pm, the last thing on my mind was cooking.  Sometimes we would have to search for enough change in the cushions of the couch or the backseat of the car to come up with gas money to get to work.  Thankfully, we didn't have anyone else to feed besides ourselves and our cats (who often ate better than we did).  My partner at the time and I both worked in retail and were managers of chain speciality stores.  Looking back, the pay was amazingly low, but we received large discounts on clothing and shoes so I bought new more then than I do now (the majority of our clothing is handed down from others, purchased at used clothing stores, or we've had for many years...I just recently "ragged" some clothes I still had from high school).  Money was definitely tight, even with both of us employed.  Yet, we knew many who were worse off.  A friend and co-worker lived on the south side of Chicago and slept with a knife under her pillow.  She heard gunshots from time to time and never felt safe.  She was often hungry and we would share what we had.  She had an infection laugh and taught me so much about life.  Being friends with her shaped my life forever.

Just a few short years after my goober and tums diet, I was living in the metro DC area making a six figure income with a partner, Rob, making the same.  Nothing had changed about my education, but opportunities came up, I had a little bit of luck, I worked hard, and I was able to drastically change my situation.  I realize most people who live on food stamps or go hungry don't have the same opportunities present themselves and even with luck, it can be close to impossible to dig out of the hole.  Hard work isn't enough, everyone I know who is on food stamps or living at or below poverty levels, works very hard.  I often wonder what happened to my co-worker friend with the knife under her pillow.  I don't even know where to begin to cover class and race issues in this country.

During our pre-child days of making money, we ate out all the time.  No longer living on Taco Bell, we took advantage of all the great vegan eats in the DC area.  We sometimes spend $1000/month on food for two people.  It is embarrassing when I think of it now.  Even then, we shopped at locally owned health foods stores like My Organic Market or the Bethesda co-op, but we also frequented Bread and Circus, Fresh Fields, Whole Foods, and the like.  We never spent money on cars and we lived in a very modest apartment in downtown Rockville, MD, but food is something we never cut corners on.  Rob would tease me about being an organic snob and not wanting to buy produce if all I could find was conventionally grown.  When I was pregnant with our first, we made the conscience decision to move to the Midwest so I could stay home for a couple years with our new baby (over a decade now).  We knew going down to one income and taking a large pay cut for that one existing paycheck would change things.  Living closer to my family for a while seemed like a good idea and was worth changing our spending habits.  In retrospect, it was probably the best thing we have ever done.  Sure, there are things I miss about our life of plenty, but I love the time I am able to spend with my family and would never give that up.  I know I am fortunate, oh so fortunate...

As I type, I have organic eggplant from our neighbor's garden roasting in the oven, organic tomatoes from our garden cooking into sauce on the stove, organic yams from the co-op steaming, and green tea brewing on the porch.   I have a full kitchen; packages of organic tempeh in the fridge/huge jars of organic nuts in the freezer/25 lb. bags of various organic dried beans and organic brown rice in the pantry from the buying club, and I could go on.  At times it feels almost obscene how much food we have in the house even when we are "low on food".  I want my family to understand how fortunate we are how many others in our community, friends of ours and strangers, go hungry.  Globally, things are even harder to understand.  I know I cried all time after seeing poverty in the Domincan Republic.

All of these thought and memories have been brewing in my head, especially over the last several weeks.      Many complex emotions and thoughts come to the surface, which I can't yet put into written words.  It makes me glad we are vegan.  Consuming plants can cut down on the amount of resources we use, but there is so much more we can do.

Talking With the Animals

I can't believe I haven't posted about our visit to Wedrose Acres Animal Sanctuary yet.  We met up the Sunday before last with folks from the local Vegan Meetup and others from Chicago.  I was excited to hear about an animal sanctuary so close to home.  One of the many things I miss about the DC is my beloved Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, it will always be one of my favorite places on the planet.  I was a tad disappointed when I looked at their website because they don't have many "farmed" animals.  I wanted the kids to be able to experience the animals many people eat in a peaceful loving environment.  Despite this small let down, I was still excited to take the family to talk with the animals and commune with other vegans.  I even blew off a family reunion to check out Wedrose Acres with like-minded people.

The kids had a fantastic time and asked if we could visit again.  They really enjoyed meeting the animals and getting to know them.  They also enjoyed the vegan meetup gang, as always.  We were the only ones with kids, but we met Shawn and Shawn who are raising two veg children.  We can't wait to get together with them again.  Enough about the people, you can see a few of the furry friends we made.

The camel was amazingly big (and sweet)!
The pot-bellied pigs were adorable, pigs of all kinds have always been a favorite of Parker's.  He tried in vain to get a good picture of them.  The day was hot and they retired to the coolness of the barn.
The goats really stole Dema's heart...
and also a bite or two of his shirt.
Of course, it wouldn't be a gathering of vegans without some delicious food.  We picnicked in between chats with the furry ones.  This was lovely getting to know some new friends and spend time with old ones.  The food was so good, I just sat, ate, and talked the afternoon away.
The kids didn't want to leave, but Josie passed out almost as soon as we settled hot, tired, full, and content into my dad's car.
They are planning a one day yoga retreat at Wedrose Acres next month, we'll have to go back again to talk with our new friends.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Savoring Summer

It was a long, hot, humid summer full of activity and abundant life.  Our neighbor friends, Vicky and Greg, made the hot humid parts more tolerable.  They are super sweet and generous with everything, including their lovely pool.  I feel like we lived in their pool this year and it kept me from going completely out of my mind.  I don't deal with prolonged humidity and heat levels both in the 90s.  I start to loose it.  This week has been perfectly wonderful with daytime highs just where they should be, cool nights, and most of all, no humidity to speak of.  You would think I would be ecstatic, but hand me perfection and I'll want to tweak it, even perfection could use a little improvement.  I'm trying to live in the moment and savor the last of summer; the produce from the garden, the beautiful days at the park, the last few chilly dips in the pool, and not think of the frigid mind-numbing temps of my future in our cold drafty old house.
Lunch Friday was Fat Free Vegan's Sunny Summer Squash Soup, Tomato Rosemary Scones from Vegan Brunch, stuffed grape leaves, and fresh picked plums courtesy of another fabulous neighbor friend, Margie.  The stuffed grape leaves are organic from a can.  I am lazy about making homemade dolmas and my sweet little children are the reason why.  I bought ten containers of dolmas through our buying club on Monday.  These are the last of them.  My kids completely devour them.  Especially, Parker, he has loved dolmas since he started to eat solid foods and he always requests them on his birthday.  The scones were again made with tomatoes, peppers, and rosemary from our garden.  I've blogged about the soup before, in fact it has been a summer favorite for a couple years now and has a space in my cookbook notebook (I print out recipes I use often, slip them in a plastic sleeve, and store them in a binder).  Susan from FFV is amazing.  I've raved about her dessert recipes recently and her blog is probably the one I use the most often for recipes which will be perfect every time.  Of course, I couldn't help but change the recipe around a bit.  I told you, I love to tamper with perfection.  I used yams instead of white potatoes, added red peppers from the garden, and through in leftover quinoa (after blending).  I made this soup Thursday night for an after soccer practice meal.  It is so easy to cut up the veggies and cook the soup before practice then I left it covered on the stove with the burner off.  Rob pureed it when he arrived home so when the rest of us walked in the door, we had dinner waiting for us.  With the added quinoa it was hearty enough to fill Parker's belly after cycling 10 miles and over an hour of running on the soccer field.  I was out the door, as the family was eating, for a much needed girl's night out so I didn't get a chance to taste it until lunch the next day.  As with many soups, I think it is even better the next day.  I fried up the last of the Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Grain Meat Sausages and added a few to each bowl of soup, along with a dash of hot sauce.  Better than perfection.  I love the taste of summer!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Curried Chickpea Patties

I know, I know, chickpea patties have been done.  I love Veganomicon's Chickpea Cutlets and Chickpea Sensation Patties from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan just as much as the next vegan, but I think I may have found my favorite fried/baked pattied chickpea.  1,000 Vegan Recipes comes through again with Curried Chickpea Patties.  (Don't just take my word for it, here is the review of this recipe on Cooking From 1,000 Vegan Recipes.)  Pretty much anything with curry has me at "hello".
Here these flavorful patties are served with quinoa and drizzled with this Carrot Coconut Sauce (I forgot the sesame oil and I think it would have been much better if I hadn't, as it was the kids liked the sauce, but Rob and I found the sauce to be missing something now that I look at the recipe I know what it was missing, doh)
Here is Parker goofing around eating the patties and quinoa (he was eating with his fork until I started taking pictures, really!) which we ate on the porch.  The weather is now lovely and we are eating on the porch to enjoy the weather instead of to escape the humid oven which passed as our house.
We also had blueberries and watermelon from the Market at the Square, mixed greens from Vicky and Greg topped with Rob's tahini dressing and organic (goes without saying, 95% of what we eat, especially unprocessed foods are organic, but I like to stick it in there from time to time) dried cherries and walnuts from our buying club.  One of the nice things about chickpea patties is you can usually make the mixture ahead of time and stick it in the fridge until you are ready to cook them up.  I made a double batch and should have tripled it.  The kids only left two for Rob by the time he arrived home from work.
Here they are again.  Josie loves to help make chickpea patties from harvesting parsley from our garden to pouring ingredients into the food processor to molding them into balls and flattening them out. She also might eat a little of the mixture before putting them in the pan, but that is part of the fun of cooking.  This time I served them on Pekara's focaccia bread with tomato (from our garden), mixed greens (from Vicky and Greg), and curry mayo (as suggested by Robin Robertson in 1,000 Vegan Recipes).  Grapes from Common Ground, watermelon from the Market at the Square, garlicky kale from the Market at the Square with Field Roast Mexican Chipotle vegan sausage from Common Ground (it was on sale this week) rounded out the meal.  Dema who loves vegan sausage, homemade (my favorite) or store bought, was not a fan of the Mexican Chipotle.  Josie liked them and Parker was so-so.  I think we'll stick with the Italian or the Smoked Apple Sage on the rare occasions when we splurge.  It was a unanimous win on the Curried Chickpea Patties and I think these will make a great quick go-to meal on busy soccer days.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Fruit Bowl Runneth Over

Another marvelous market day with lots of friends to see and chat with (my sister and Stuart were the highlight, for the kids, as usual).

The bloodmobile was there to take Rob's blood.  He gives until it hurts.  You can tell it has been a while since I gave blood.  I was impressed with his cool looking bandage.

Sprouts at the Market featured corn today.  We all learned a little about corn, even the adults.  You would think growing up in the Midwest surrounded by corn (and soybeans) and with farming relatives, my sister and I would know all there is about corn, but apparently not.

Fruit skewers thanks to Little Blue Stem Natural Play Group.  I think Josie and Dema might have eaten more than their share.  The skewers were fun to make and featured tasty local fruit.

Amara Yoga was out with paints and canvas, Parker's absolute favorite part of Saturdays.  The adults painting were so respectful.  Parker said he was asked a couple times about what colors he mixed together and other techniques.  I love the idea of community art.  They have yoga, arts, and crafts classes for kids.  I need to enroll the boys.  I am so glad to have Amara Yoga in our community.

Common Ground Co-op was jam packed with produce and people this morning.  I was happy to fill my fruit bowls with sale organic plums, nectarines, and pink lady apples.  We went a little over-budget today because Field Roast vegan sausage was on sale so I couldn't resist.  I was hungry and they always say not to shop when you're hungry.

I haven't eaten all day and you would think I would start munching on some of the spectacular looking local/organic produce, but it is hard for me to eat before the kids.  Do any of you parents out there do this?  I usually save the best food in the house for the kids and only eat produce I know they love once they have had their fill.  Now Rob and the kids are swimming at the public pool (first and probably time this year since we have fabulous neighbor's who are extremely generous with their awesome pool) so I can take a second to relax (do laundry, freeze peaches, wash dishes) and use up last week's kale to make my own personal smoothie.

I'll leave you with this song we were listening to in the co-op as we shopped.  This in the Johnny Cash version instead of the Depeche Mode version we heard this morning.  This is just for you, honey.  What if I play this version at your funeral?  Still no?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Low Fat Desserts High on Taste

I am not fat phobic.  In fact, I love fat.  We eat lots of nuts, avocados, and seeds.  We also eat our share of oil, although I try not to go crazy since I don't think of oils as healthy.  We also eat coconut milk from time to time and try not to think of the saturated fat.  I have no issues with healthy fats or even not so healthy fats in moderation.  Still, I love Fat Free Vegan and find Susan's recipes delightful.  I made two of her desserts over the last month.
Tonight's dinner was homemade pizza, garlicky kale, and Low-Fat Plum Cobbler.  This is the second time this week I've made the cobbler and the kids would eat it all in one sitting if I let them.  I didn't have any soy yogurt and I'm trying to make due with our weekly shopping instead of running out for this and that during the week.  I subbed silken tofu for the yogurt (something the original recipe Susan was working from called for) the first time and vanilla soy milk the second.  Both turned out well, although I think the second had a better consistency.  I didn't have stevia so I used a bit of date sugar with no issues.  Thumbs up from all three kids.  I didn't get a bite of the first cobbler since they devoured for breakfast and I had a small taste of the second.  It is not overly sweet and allows the natural flavor of the plums shine through.  I chopped up the plums more the second time for ease in eating for Josie.  This is a great way to use plums when they are in season.
Several weeks ago, Loretta invited us over for dinner (and most of us ended up staying the night and not leaving until almost dinner time the next day, but that is another story).  I didn't want to go empty handed (not that this cake made up for her feeding my family three meals when she invited us for one!) so I made Fat Free Vegan's Chocolate-Blueberry Cake with the organic blueberries I bought locally through Strawberry Fields.  Another kid pleaser (Loretta's and mine) which I didn't try.  I did hastily take a lame picture with my iPhone, but please check out Susan's site for a mouthwatering view of what this cake looks like.  Blueberries and chocolate are always a winning combo in my book.

Peace Sign Tomato Rosemary Scones

Last year I blogged about the awesomeness which is Vegan Brunch's Tomato Rosemary Scones, but apparently there are a few people out there who still have not tried them.  For shame!  These beauties are perfect for any meal, easy to make, nutritious, and a wonderful way to use the abundance of tomatoes growing in the garden this time of year.  I intentionally grow rosemary just to make these scones, yet my rosemary was taken over by our sweet potato plants so I snagged some rosemary from Cynthia's garden for one batch of scones.  When I make my daily sauce, I add different things depending on what I have on hand.  This batch has peppers (sweet and spicy) from the garden, carrots from the co-op, and yams from the co-op so the scones turned out even brighter orange than normal.  I never have all purpose flour so I used white whole wheat instead.  I also lived dangerously and omitted the sweetener altogether with excellent results.  The yams and carrots were plenty sweet and these are savory scones anyway.  Josie helped me make them and she could not stop licking the dough.  It sticks to your fingers and is quite good so I might have licked a bit myself.  As we were cutting the dough into scone-ish shapes, I had my mind on various other things and Josie brought me back by saying excitedly, "Look mom, a peace sign!  We made a peace sign out of the scones!"  We had indeed, without thinking about it.  She was so thrilled and now she asks me to cut a peace sign with every batch.
This was a double batch, 32 scones, and was devoured within 24 hours by my crew.  We took them to the Market at the Square Saturday and shared one or two with friends, but still, they ate a lot of scones.  I made more for Parker's first soccer practice of the season (they are great to take along for a quick snack).
These beauties go with almost any meal, but this night I was in a hurry and made VeganYumYum's Mac and Cheeze.  I use cauliflower and yams/sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.  This time I used peas instead of broccoli (didn't have any left) and added walnuts on top.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Plate Lickin' Good

I made Tempeh and Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie Sunday night from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.   It was one of the those nights when I didn't know what I was making until everyone was already hungry and things did not come together well.  I made the dish before*, but I was pretty sure this time it would not satisfy.  The chemistry in the kitchen was not the best.  Rob and I were discussing some tough relationship baggage and neither of us had our minds on nourishing our family.  The potatoes wouldn't mash properly (I had steamed the yams a day or two before and used them in various dishes, I will post about later, so I had to supplement with white potatoes from our garden), things kept spilling, Rob left in a huff leaving the gravy undone, I couldn't find key ingredients, it was utter kitchen chaos.  I put dinner on the table with a defeated exhausted sigh, not even sure I had the appetite to eat it.

I was absently picking at my plate and the younger two kids were chattering incessantly when I heard Rob gently chastise Parker.  Parker had finished his large serving quickly and proceeded to lick his plate.  For what it is worth, I would say that our kids usually have better than average table manners.  We often get compliments from strangers at restaurants and friends ask how we do it at home.  Of course, there are times when eating seems like a zoo, but we've dined with enough children to say we are doing okay.  Thus, when Parker at ten years of age is licking his plate, it was met with surprise and disapproval from Rob (remember it wasn't the best time leading up to this point).  I, on the other hand, was secretly pleased.  Job well done.  Even with all the insanity, the dish was darn good...literally, plate licking good.  I had to laugh inside and this fed my soul much more than the food.

*I can't believe I didn't post about our last vegan potluck at our friends' Kit and Emily's few weeks ago.  I will have to blog about it soon.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Typical Summer Haul

I took pictures of our weekly grocery haul for my car free blog and thought I had to share it here as well to show our typical summer shopping.  Two pints of blueberries, a broccoli bunch, 4lb. package of tofu, large bag of peaches, a dozen ears of sweet corn, bag of grapes, loaf of bread, bag of okra, reusable grocery bag full of kale bunches, 1lbs. bag of mushrooms, bag of salad mix, two bags of frozen pizza dough, 3lb. bag of carrots, large watermelon, five summer squash, two onions, banana bunch, reusable bag full of nectarines/plums/and more peaches, bag of apples, and a container of miso. All the food is organic or locally grown/made or both.  It is all we will buy this week and the total was around $100 (I almost forgot, this includes a big bowl of soup and a couple rolls the kids ate at the co-op after shopping).  We have herbs, tomatoes, and peppers producing in the garden and usually receive some extras (zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, etc.) from neighbors' gardens as well.  We already have a very stocked pantry with organic dried beans, nuts, grains, oils, etc. Most of which we buy through the buying club we belong to.  We don't order every month, but it probably adds roughly $200 to our monthly grocery bill if I look at it annually.  We could probably get this amount lower, but we are pretty happy with our grocery bill at this time.  We are willing to put money into food instead of other things.

If you look really closely at the left, you can see Josie's impatient hands making their way to the blueberries.  The blueberries are already gone, along with half the watermelon, broccoli, mushrooms, grapes, half the peaches, a third of the nectarine/plums, one of the onions, several carrots, a couple apples, all but two pieces of the bread, half the sweet corn, one and a half bunches of bananas (only one bunch made it into the picture), and 1 lb. of the tofu.  We bought this food Saturday morning!  I am always amazed at how much my family eats.  I can only imagine what our food bill will be like when the kids are teens.  I love that they enjoy produce so much and usually have a fresh fruit or veggie in their hand.  Josie asks to go out to the garden to eat "cilantro" (our cilantro didn't make it but she loves to eat the fresh basil, but refuses to let go of calling it cilantro).  She and Dema also eat leaves off the mint plant by the steps every chance they get.  

Even with the heat and humidity, I love summer!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Week of Tempeh

Have you read the novel, My Year of Meat by Ruth Ozeki?  Parts are hard to read from a veg point of view, but a great book which gets into the meat industry from a different angle.  She also wrote, All Over Creation which I also recommend.  Well, this week was my week of tempeh.  I bought a case (probably a dozen or maybe sixteen 8oz. packages) of tempeh through the buying club last order and I purposefully did not buy any tofu last weekend when I did our weekly grocery shopping.  I had hoped to soak and cook some beans, but it has been really hot and humid in our house and it seems like mold will grow on anything which is left out in this weather.  Who wants moldy beans?  (Ironic humor, tempeh is basically moldy/fermented soybeans.)  I was also tying to be as conscience as possible about using what we have, efficiency, and cutting down on waste.  At the end of the week, all our fresh produce was used up and we made a dent on our bulk foods.  Just as important, we had a lot of yummy food!

The week started out with homemade vegan pizza.  Rob didn't have time to make his awesome crust so we used locally made frozen crust from Common Ground Co-op.  It comes as a frozen dough ball so we thaw it and Rob tosses it in the air, to the delight of the kids, and shapes it.  We buy two crusts and it makes four pizzas.  I bought some Teese the other day when Loretta and I took the kids to Bloomington (I'll post about that soon) and grated some on the pizzas.  I don't mind using Teese or Daiya once in a while, but I think pizza is better with no "cheese" at all.  Since we have ripe tomatoes now, I've been making my daily sauce.  There is nothing better than making tomato sauce from garden tomatoes.  It is the best way to start a summer day.  I love to slow cook it, adding different things as the mood hits me.  My sauce is never exactly the same, but it is always good.  I also made some tempeh sausage from Vegan Brunch.  I've blogged about it over and over.  This stuff is awesome!  We added capers and carrots (Parker started the carrots as a pizza topping when he was little and the other two kids love it just as much).  Josie adores capers and eats them out of the jar so I almost have to hide them.  The other pizzas were similar, with added local mushrooms here and a little something extra there.  As always, left over vegan pizza is so good for breakfast.

After the leftover pizza was devoured, we had pizza topping pasta.  I had a few odds and ends (sauteed mushrooms, tempeh sausage, sliced carrots) from the pizzas and I added some steamed broccoli and peas, made Esme Sauce, served it over whole wheat pasta and topped it with walnuts (I top almost anything with walnuts because they are so awesomely good for you and they are especially yummy with pasta).  Using leftovers in a delicious way is so satisfying.

My take on Indonesian Tempeh in Coconut Gravy from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.  The kids prefer tempeh when it is served in small pieces instead of large chunks so I took liberties with the recipe.  I used some semi-hot peppers from the garden (we can't remember what peppers we planted there) for the serrano the recipe called for.  I added some red pepper flakes as well (dried chiles from last years garden).  I didn't have peanuts so I used walnuts for garnish.  The tomatoes were from the garden instead of canned and I served it over udon noodles.  The last of the frozen mangoes were on the side.  Josie and Dema turned up their noses at this one.  Then I served it for lunch the next day and Josie begged for me to make it again sometime.  I've found that timing is big for those two.  If we eat too late in the evening, they will complain about any food.  They are over-tired and over-hungry.  Eating earlier is a goal, but Rob doesn't get home from work until after seven some nights.  I've decided, for now, it is more important to feed the kids dinner earlier and then I can wait for Rob and eat with him later.  We'll see how that works out.  Summers have always meant later meals for us.

A rare lunch out just Rob and I, a "quick" bite at Cafe Kopi.  Well, it takes a lot longer to get a sandwich at Kopi than it should, but we did enjoy our Thai Tempeh Panini and coffee (mine was a decaf, soy iced latte with a hint of mint).  I've had the Thai Tempeh before and need to try to recreate it at home.  A little insane that our one meal out, we chose to have more tempeh.

My favorite tempeh dish this week was Tempeh and Eggplant Pot Pies from The Vegan Table.  Oh my, you have to try this one!  I didn't have individual pots to make personal pot pies so I used a larger casserole dish.  I think this style is perfect for my family.  We ate outside on the porch to try to catch some kind of breeze.  
Here is another picture of the pot pies served with garlicky kale and you can just see my glass of sun Raja's Cup tea from my longtime friend, Julia's newish tea business.  She may not approve of me brewing this tea in the sun, but it is marvelous done this way and served with ice.  Heaven!  The leftover pot pie was as good or even better than eating it fresh from the oven.  I will make this again and again.  I have officially fallen for The Vegan Table.  It is laid out well for people who like to eat in season and into sections for entertaining.  The pictures are fab and I literally have drooled over several recipes.  I can't wait to try more!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Heart Breakfast Burritos

I blogged about the new vegan breakfast burritos at Common Ground Co-op.  I love them!  But they are ever so much cheaper to make at home and we can make them with brown rice.  My co-host, Meat-free Mike, would say these are just burritos and not "breakfast" burritos because we didn't scramble the tofu (nor  did we add white potatoes), but they were great for breakfast either anyway.  We often like to eat non-traditional (even for vegans) breakfasts like leftovers of any kind, but I think anyone would eat these burritos would be great for brunch.  Brown rice, black beans, avocado, salsa, marinated tofu cubes with a huge flour tortilla.  The tortilla is different from our usual ones because it is white flour.  We aren't big on white flour, but these things are sold at Common Ground and are huge.  It will be a once in a while indulgence.  The organic pink lady apples rounded out our morning.

The Vegan Table

I bought The Vegan Table a while ago, I think as a Christmas present to myself.  I love looking at it (beautiful pictures and the recipes all sound divine), but I never made anything from it...until now.  I don't know what took me sooo long!
Tofu Filet with Cornmeal Crust and Tartar Sauce from The Vegan Table

Being from the Midwest, I don't remember eating much fish as a kid.  I never acquired a taste for it (much the chagrin of my uncle in Seattle).  I do remember eating fish sticks from time to time with my mom's homemade tartar sauce.  This is comfort food.  I didn't have cornmeal so I used nutritional yeast and a bit of panko.  I also used white whole wheat flour and smoked paprika (Colleen didn't specify what type of paprika).  I made the tartar sauce from vegan mayo, relish, and capers as suggested.  When you feel like something fried, this might hit the spot.  If you want them to taste "fishy", you might add nori, kelp, or maybe Old Bay, but I'm happy without the fishy taste.  The kids liked them, especially Dema.  Thumbs up from Rob, who did eat fish quite a bit since he grew up on the coast.

Pasta and Green Beans with Peanut Sauce, Tofu Filet with Cornmeal Crust and Tartar Sauce from The Vegan Table and thawed mangoes

I had some green beans forgotten in the refrigerator from last Saturday's Market at the Square so I quickly threw together Past and Green Beans with Peanut Sauce.  I used whole wheat spaghetti.  We doubled the recipe and the sauce turned out a little lemony, but it grew on me.  I like that the peanut sauce doesn't call for oil or sweetener.  This dish is also great served cold with gomasio.  I would add more veggies next time, but we were running low this late in the week.  We buy frozen organic mangoes in bulk and the kids (no help from us) at 10 lbs. of them in less than a week.  I had a few left and thawed them out for lunch, although the kids prefer them frozen.

I look forward to trying many more recipes from The Vegan Table!