Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tester Tuesday - Curried Rice and Chickpea Salad

Another handy tester recipe from Robin Robertson's soon to be published cookbook. Curried Rice and Chickpea Salad is one of those recipes you'll use for a quick side dish, picnic, or potluck. It just gets better as all the flavors combine and it would be easy to throw in a little of this or that depending on what you have on hand. Oh how I cannot wait for picnic season to begin, we had a few days of spring-like weather and then snow flurries (nothing sticking) today. Thinking of this salad brings a little sunshine into my day.
It is also pretty!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Red Curry Pie - Leftovers as Brunch

Yesterday, I made a version of In a Hurry Thai Red Curry (I always improvise so it tastes a little different each time, but always a kid pleaser) for lunch. This morning we were slow to get moving so we ended up having mangoes and bananas until about eleven when we were hungry for brunch. I must be channeling my "seventies-home-maker" (maybe because the anniversary of my mother's death and her birthday are coming up soon) because I just had to make the leftover curry into a pie with a puff pastry top. Speaking of puff pastry, you have to check out Vegan Dad's homemade version. I tell you, Vegan Dad is nor mere mortal. This was sadly store bought, but was taking up room in my freezer, as was a Whollly Wholesome pie crust.
Here is a side shot of the red curry filling; brown rice, peanuts, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and tofu. I added a quick sauce to the mixture since it was a little dry. The sauce consisted of ginger, garlic, tamari, lime juice, peanut butter, water, hot sauce, and molasses. I put some of my latest favorite hot sauce on top of the puff pastry. I baked everything on 350 or 375 until the puff pastry was golden brown.
Josie loved it so much she had to go tell Margie and Rick, our neighbors who were walking their dog past our house. She ate two and half slices. Dema deemed it "the best pie ever" after eating two servings. Parker was in a hurry to get back to playing with his friends, but he said he liked it as well as he liked the curry yesterday. It didn't hold together all that well, but no one minded.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Food For All Friday - Ramrong Over Noodles

The awesome manager of our incredible local food co-op does a monthly cooking class (free) called Eating Healthy on a Budget.  She also created several Food For All recipes using co-op ingredients. These recipes are printed out at the co-op and always available for the taking (free) and the price per serving can fit into almost any budget.  Great services for the community, especially in these tough times. Several months ago, we made one of the recipes for the first time.

We prepped for this recipe the night before, which is unusual for us, but just worked out well.  Rob made the sauce and chopped/steamed the vegetables.  This way all I had to do was cook the noodles for dinner and mix it all together.  It was quite good and filling. We are not huge cabbage eaters so it was great to try out a new recipe using an ingredient we don't reach for often. The next time you are at Common Ground Co-op, pick up a Food For All recipe or sign up to attend a Eating Healthy on a Budget class. If you aren't local, look into starting a program like this in your community or helping with one which is already established.

Here is Jacqueline talking about the Food for All and Eating Healthy on a Budget:

Jacqueline has graciously allowed me to reprint the recipe here so others can benefit. Thanks!
Ramrong Over Noodles, Food For All recipe from Common Ground Food Co-op
1 lb whole wheat spaghetti noodles (bulk)
1/2 tsp canola oil
2 large carrots, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
4 cups of green or red cabbage, sliced thin but not shredded

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut milk (Jacqueline had a great tip, when you don't use the entire can of coconut milk, freeze it)
1/4 cup water
pinch red chile flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

In a large pot, start your water boiling for the noodles. Once the water is boiling, add a dash of salt and 1/2 tsp canola oil. Break the noodle lengths in half or thirds and drop into the pot. Boil for 6-7 minutes and test for doneness. When done, drain immediately and rinse with very cold water. Set aside.

The best way to get the real Thai ramrong effect in this dish is to steam the vegetables. Place a steamer basket in the bottom of a large pot over 1" of water. Bring to a boil and add the carrots. Cover and steam for 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and steam for another minute, then add the cabbage and steam for 2 more minutes. If you do not have a steaming device, heat 2 tsp canola oil in a saute pan. When it is hot, add the carrots. Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium high heat, then add the bell pepper and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the cabbage, stir, and cover. Lower the heat and coo 2-3 minutes more, until the cabbage begins to soften, but is not wilting.

Sauce and Putting it All Together
Mix all ingredients for the sauce together. You can use a food processor for this or just mix thoroughly in a bowl with a fork. Put the noodles and the veggies in the pasta cooking pot, add the sauce, and mix well. Taste, and add more soy sauce or lime juice if necessary. Serve immediately hot or chill and serve cold.

Delicious Additions and Variations:
Minced fresh cilantro, roasted peanuts, and /or grated coconut would make beautiful and delicious garnishes for this dish.

You can often purchase an entire bunch or organic broccoli for the same price as one red bell pepper, depending on the time of year. Watch prices and consider substituting half a bunch of broccoli for the bell pepper, steaming it at the same time as the carrots. If you want to make this dish even cheaper, leave out the bell pepper entirely and add another carrot.

This recipe makes four servings at about $1.82/serving!

I mentioned before that my husband was laid off from his job right before Christmas. While we are quite lucky that we aren't in trouble financially, it hit home how important sticking to a food budget can be. I am dedicating the next several Fridays to Food for All recipes.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wee Ones Wednesday - Happy Birthday, Parker!

Okay, so my eldest isn't such a wee one anymore. I think he may officially be a "tween" now that he turned eleven two Saturdays ago. He had a small party again this year (some of the birthday parties for the kids top one hundred) with around sixteen or so children. This is a nice nice, in my opinion, for winter birthdays when they can't all easily flow into the park.
Rob was able fly back for Parker's birthday so that was the best gift, but I also bought him this organizer for the Lego pieces. I've been eying this for months at Art Coop and I finally had a reason to buy it. Luckily, Parker shares my joy in organization and found this to be an excellent present.
It came in handy for the Lego building contests.
Rob and I made the kids' favorite birthday cake (when we don't get an artistic edible masterpiece from Kris), Raspberry Frosted Cake with Chocolate Cream Center from Vive le Vegan! and pretty much relied on snacky type foods instead of making tamales. Parker had stuffed grape leaves, of course, he has requested them almost every birthday since he could talk. The rest was hummus, chips, salsa, etc. I felt bad that we didn't do more, but we all wanted to spend time with Rob and not in the kitchen.
The eve of Parker's birthday, I took the kids out to Parker's favorite restaurant, Thara Thai. Parker had his usual, yellow curry and birthday pot stickers.
For those of you who enjoy birth stories, here is the link to Parker's. You might also want to check out his ninth and tenth birthday. Parker remains one of my favorite people on the planet to spend time with and I am truly blessed to have him in my life.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tester Tuesday - Vietnamese Tofu Wraps

 At first bite, I was completely smitten with these wraps. I mean really in love. It is one of those things you taste and it makes you happy to be alive (and vegan). The kids adored them too. Parker ate three, Josie ate two, and Dema gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. Vietnamese Tofu Wraps is another one of Robin Robertson's tester recipes for her upcoming cookbook. I really could think of no way to improve this recipe. We'll make them often as wraps, but I also the think the filling would be great in a spring roll. They remind vaguely me of something I've eaten before, but have forgotten. I really can not wait for her new cookbook to be out, I know it will be another family favorite.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Thai, Delivered

I'm not big on having food delivered, well, I love having people bring food over or getting produce from my neighbors, I mean having restaurant food delivered. I live in a small college town so we don't have a lot of delivery options, especially vegan ones. However, it has been ridiculously cold and snowy this winter. On an extra-productive homeschooling day, I hated to take a break from our flow to cook lunch. The kids asked for Thai and I think My Thai/Siam Terrace might be the only Thai restaurants in town who deliver. We had plenty of leftovers so it was worth the money and I love supporting local businesses.
Spicy Seitan
Mock Duck Curry
Veggie Supreme with Tofu

As usual, I ordered brown rice to go with all the dishes and everything was excellent. A sweet couple runs the My Thai and Siam Terrace. The wife delivered our food and she asked how we liked having the new restaurant closer to our home. We'll have to eat there more often when the weather gets warmer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Saved By the Dal

Have you ever made something and it was edible, but not quite what you were wanting and then turned it into something really scrumptious? It doesn't happen often that I make something and I think "meh, not quite right", but the other night I made Yellow Split Pea Soup with Green Pea Garnish from Vegan Planet to go along with black bean burritos. I love pretty much everything I've tried from Vegan Planet, but this was just so-so. I don't blame the recipe, I blame summer savory. I don't think I'm a fan of this spice and rarely use it, so it may be that my summer savoy is way past its prime. I want to use this spice because it is in a jar labeled by my mother. I don't know if I took hers when she passed away, almost nine years ago, or if she was helping me label my spices when Parker was little. Either way, I love to look at the jar because it has her hand-writing on it. There are certain things about my mother which will always stay with me, her hands and her writing are two of them. I have always loved the look of her writing and it is seems so uniquely her. I often wonder what my kids will remember about me. I have terrible penmanship and rarely write much since everything is texting and emails these days. Maybe they will have this blog.
Anyway, the dish wasn't so awful that I thought to compost it, but I didn't want to be the only one eating Yellow Split Pea Soup for days. So Josie and I turned to the recipe, I had debated on using the first time, The Vegan Table's Yellow Split Pea Dal. We added an extra onion, leftover veggies from a couple days prior and the spices from Yellow Split Pea Dal and voila, a dish we could all sink our teeth into.
I've been off my game as far as soaking and cooking beans lately so lentils have been on the menu. Tonight I made a dish which has become somewhat legendary on a local parenting list I belong to. My friend, Sarah S. shared this recipe years ago and now any time someone asks for lentil recipes it is posted. I apologize for not knowing the recipe's origin so I might be stepping on toes, but I assume it has gone through changes over the years and is fairly simple. I hate to admit this might be the first time I made this dish, but I remember tasting it at potlucks in the past. It is quite good and oh so simple so I'll share the recipe with you. Thanks, Sarah!

Sarah's Dal Soup

2 tsp olive oil (the "original" calls for 2 Tbsp butter)
4 garlic cloves, minced (the "original" calls for 2 chopped)
1 onion chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 cup red lentils (rinsed)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (water would work)
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute garlic and onions in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and cook for about a minute.
2. Stir in tomatoes, red lentils, lemon juice, vegetable stock, and bring to a boil.
3. Add coconut milk and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.
4. Take off heat. Lightly puree with immersion blender (you can skip this step if you like).
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Great served over brown rice or quinoa, in the picture I served it as is with just a little za'atar as garnish.
For dessert, I served Lower-Fat Deep Chocolate Bundt Cake from Veganomicon. I had leftover icing from Parker's 11th birthday party cake (I'll post about his birthday on Wednesday) so I repeated the cake I made for my sister's friend, except I added shredded coconut to the top. The kids only have a sliver since I wanted them to go to bed sometime before midnight, but they loved it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tester Tuesday - Skillet Lasagna

Today's tester recipe for Robin Robertson's upcoming cookbook, is so easy and quick to prepare, it instantly became a go-to lunch for days when we don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. I have to admit, I was skeptical. I didn't think this recipe would work out. I mean, how will the noodles cook up without baking them in a casserole dish? Somehow, it magically does and this recipe is very versatile. I used sauce I froze when our garden we producing tomatoes, but you could easily just used jarred sauce. This picture has the lasagna topped with prepacked vegan cheese, but I prefer my skillet lasagna topped with Robin's Three-Nut Cheeze Whiz (another tester recipe which I use add to almost anything). I think we just might have to make Skillet Lasagna today.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday Thoughts - Questioning

I haven't had enough ranting on my blog lately.  In case you don't hear enough of my thoughts on my radio show or in person, you can stop by the blog and get an earful.  It may be about veganism, but it might be about parenting or dust bunnies.  Who knows?

At the risk of opening up Pandora's box, I decided to talk a bit about a recent (okay, not so recent now, I started this post a while back) reversion back to consuming animals by a popular food blogger.  My "confession post" was in some ways a satirical comment to this blogger's "coming out" post and others who have followed, as well as some who have been angered by her post.  Those of you who are not vegan or not into the vegan blogging world may be completely oblivious to what the heck I'm talking about, which is one of the reasons I was reluctant to post anything directly.  Yet, I feel some good can come out of almost any situation and I wanted to share the positives I see when a vegan advocate reverts back to consuming flesh.

In this particular situation, the person went from a strong proponent of veganism as a diet as well as a way of life.  She even had her father go on the diet for a month to see the positive health aspects.  She was honest about what she fed him, how he felt, etc. and he did appear to have health benefits from his month of veganism.  Several months later, she comes out very dramatic and verbose about how her health suffered (which is not what she had originally claimed throughout the blog previously) as a vegan and now she no longer feels eating animals is morally wrong.  She didn't just start eating meat again, she came out as fanatically for consuming things like bacon as she was when she pushed her green juices. I feel for her and unfortunately, although rare in my experience, I do know a person or two who also had an extreme transformation, seemingly overnight. I, of course, wish her the best, while I strongly disagree with some of her comments in her coming out post, I disagreed with some of what she had to say as a vegan a well. I rarely agree one hundred percent with anyone, what is the fun it that?

Several points came to the surface after reading her posts and others who also have converted back to meat-eating as well as vegans responding in anger or empathy.
  • None of us speaks for all vegans. The views expressed here are strictly mine or any guest author's views. Some people may agree, but I am not speaking for more than myself or sometimes my family.
  • Why do we do what we do? (No, I'm not trying to write the refrain for a 80's love song.) I think this is an excellent question to ask oneself, no matter what you are doing. This is our third Midwestern winter living car-free. We balance the pros and cons of this lifestyle choice at the first snowfall of the season, lol, we try to question it often and see if we've stuck the right balance for us. Although, even my youngest child has been vegan longer than the blogger mentioned above who decided to go back to eating meat, I don't blindly go through our vegan life without questions how and why we live it. A friend said to me a couple months ago that she's been veg so long it has sort of just become a habit. Life can be like that and thus, taking stock of our choices and values can be beneficial.
The next few Thursdays are going to be dedicated to my personal current vegan journey. Thanks for coming along with me.