Friday, May 20, 2011


A couple weekends ago (April 30th), our community hosted the Illinois Marathon. This is a newish annual event which we have become to look forward to. It is great to see the community get moving and so many people come to town for the event. No one in the family looks forward to the marathon than Josie. She was looking for runners (we have a lot of runners go by our place on any given day) the day before and convinced the marathon had started. The morning of the real race, she was up and viewing the first people going by from the window before she even got dressed. It was a very chilly morning, hence her winter pjs.
We live in small college town so the marathon goes past a lot of our houses, but each year it has been fun to watch the runners from our porch. The 10K course also went past our place and it was almost more exciting for Josie than the marathon. This year we decided to serve a little brekkie for the neighbors who congregated. Next year maybe we'll plan more than a few hours ahead. Our neighbor, Katie, brought her famous yummy gluten-free granola (based on this recipe, but she uses more spices and quinoa). The only gluten-free items I could think of (we didn't have time to go to the store) was cheesey grits and garlicky kale and tofu. Oh and fresh berries and orange juice. I also made lots of pancakes with various fillings (strawberries, blueberries, banana pecan, etc.) for the folks who eat gluten.

Several of our friends participated in one way or another with this year's marathon and we congratulate them all. It is quite inspiring and even made Rob and consider taking up running (Anyone have ideas on how to avoid shin splints? I always end up with them when I attempt to run on a regular basis), but I think we'll stick to hosting brunch.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

More From Ginger and Ganesh

Another lovely dinner last weekend, thanks to Ginger and Ganesh, or in spite of. I don't think I've ever encountered a more poorly edited recipe, but Rob, the Indian cook in the house, and somehow made sense of Ufala's Chole Bhature (p. 111). It was fun to make our own chole masala (spice mixture) and I can't wait to try the other masalas she has in the book.
The tadka is not mentioned until the end of the recipe and potatoes are not listed in the ingredient list so Rob had to bike out to a store to grab some even after making an earlier trip for fresh ginger (something we usually have on hand, but didn't that day). The potatoes with spices and strips of peppers and ginger are to top the chole as you see on the first picture. We served the chole over Jasmin's Mattar Pulao. My sister and Stuart came over for dinner and enjoyed it as well. The recipes are definitely keepers, but a tad frustrating and hard to follow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Alcohol, It's What's for Brunch and Spring Asparagus Soup

Sunday brunch was Chocolate Beer Waffles from Vegan Brunch with blueberries and local-ish maple syrup (thanks, Jennifer!!).
Rob made a special drink for me on the cold rainy Sunday; Just Coffee, soymilk, hazelnut, and Kahlua. So the morning/early afternoon was a little more alcohol filled then most, but with no ill effects. We have decided to invest in a waffle iron. We've been using one that used to be my mom's, but we're making waffles often enough we'd like a nicer/bigger/easier to clean waffle iron. Any suggestions???
Brunch kept us satisfied until dinner, but we were starving after my radio show so dinner had to be quick and use ingredients we had on hand. I was inspired by Common Ground's FB post of a Creamy Asparagus Soup, but after checking it out and a couple others online, I came up with my own. The kids raved about this soup and literally were licking their bowls.
Spring Asparagus Soup

2 pounds asparagus (trim the ends if your asparagus is not fresh/local, but otherwise eat the whole stalk)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion chopped
1 orange or yellow (red would work too) bell pepper, seeded (don't skip this, it adds a complexity that straight asparagus doesn't have)
4 cups of vegetable broth (we like Better than Bouillon, but check the label because some aren't veg)
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 heaping Tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
iodized salt to taste

Roast the asparagus in glass casserole dish sprinkled with olive oil at 450F for ten to twelve minutes. Turn the asparagus over and add the onion and garlic. Cook for another ten to twelve minutes (don't let the asparagus over-cook, ours was tender, but not too brown). Put half the asparagus, half the vegetable broth, and all the other ingredients in a Vita-mix and process until smooth then transfer to a large soup pot on medium heat (add a little olive oil on the bottom of the pot, if you like). Process the remaining asparagus and broth in the Vita-mix then add to pot and cook until thoroughly heated. If you don't have a Vita-mix, you can add all the ingredients (you may need to chop them up more or even roast the pepper with the asparagus/onions/garlic) to the soup pot at once and use an immersion blender until smooth. Serve hot with a sprinkle of za'atar and drizzle of hot sauce.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Secrect's in the Sauce - Leftovers

Sauteed collards and kale over brown rice with Rob "scalded" tofu with leftover Cilantro-Cumin Vinaigrette from Party Vegan's Romain and Avocado Salad with Cilantro-Cumin Vinaigrette and a sprinkle of gomasio and hot sauce. I said before that we could eat a combo of greens, rice (brown, black, or red), tofu or tempeh every night. It is so simple to throw together and satisfies everyone. We have a few go to sauces we love, but they are often different each time. We had the vinaigrette leftover from Cinco de Mayo and it was really nice to add a different tang to an old family favorite. I can't wait for our cilantro to grow in our garden so I can make this all summer and find different uses for this sauce.

Do you have a favorite vegan sauce you use on anything (or maybe even take a spoonful when no one is looking)?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An Evening with Jose Cuervo (and Friends)

I don't think we've ever celebrated Cinco de Mayo before and for some reason (maybe because I'm reading The Lacuna?), I decided to start this year. It was pretty last minute, but it came together. Great food and great friends, it is all I need. I intended to read with the kids about the holiday and decorate during the day. We did check out the six fun facts about Cinco de Mayo and Cinco de Mayo: History of an American Holiday, that my friend, Monique, posted to Facebook, but we mostly we cooked and had fun all day.
I made Mexcian Chocolate Snickerdoodles from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I love these for any occasion or none at all. I made two batches and used molasses instead of maple syrup on the second batch (not a full 1/4 cup, I used a few tablespoons) and I didn't have chocolate extract so I used unsweetened chocolate soy milk for the rest of the maple syrup liquid. Clear as mud? Trust me, they tasted good. Rob said he wants me to use more cayenne next time, but as it was Loretta's son only ate half of one because it was spicy (yay, cookies the adults get to eat before the kids devour them all!).
I whipped up a double batch of Chorizo en Croute (sausage in crust?) from the Cinco de Mayo section of Party Vegan by Robin Robertson. The kids ate a bunch of the "chorizo" before I was able to "en croute" them so I think they might be a keeper. Robin calls for baking them between two sheets of aluminum foil, but I wrapped each individually for the second batch and that worked better and used less foil. Loretta bought Party Vegan before a get together we were both attending a few months ago and I was lamenting I hadn't bought this cookbook yet. I took it and never gave it back, she may have meant it as a loan, but possession is nine tenths of the law, right? I'll make it up to her someday, I promise. Loretta brought a vegan cheese sauce (about six o'clock on the picture) and an enchilada bake (around twelve on the picture) similar to one I posted about previously. It was darn tasty and I kept going back for more. Gita brought some yummy potato tacos, but sadly I didn't get a picture. My sister, her boyfriend, and another friend came later in the evening and deemed all the food delicious.
The Black Bean and Corn Salad from Vegan Planet (Robin's blog, not her cookbook of the same name) caught my eye May 4th so I threw it together last minute. We also made the Cilantro-Cumin Vinaigrette from Party Vegan's Romain and Avocado Salad with Cilantro-Cumin Vinaigrette to pour on the salad if people preferred (and prefer they did). I added mangoes and avocados because we love them. This was Josie's choice dish of the evening.*
This salad reminds me of one of my favorite salads to eat out, Aroma's Southwest Salad. Loretta hooked me on this salad. To tell you the truth, I rarely order salads at restaurants, but this one always hits the spot. I'm happy now to make something similar at home.

*Josie (3.5 years old) quote of the day as her brothers ran out the door to meet up with neighborhood friends at the park: "I'll go outside and play after I eat a huge bowl of salad mix." Okay, she is sitting next to me now and saying "That salad looks good (the one with the mangoes), can you make that salad for my birthday?" I love a girl who is silly for salads.

We did have a little Jose Cuervo, in the form of margaritas, it was Cinco de Mayo. I think Cinco de Mayo might become annual event at our house.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Easter Weekend (Belated Post)

I know, I know this is late, but I have other posts which are even less timely to write so deal...

We celebrated Easter on the Saturday before. The festivities started with the kids opening their Easter baskets (which were recycled cotton bags from Art Mart this year). One of Josie's presents was a set of wings. She loves them!
Our neighbors, Margie and Rick completely outdid themselves this Easter with the biggest egg hunt yet. It completely took over their two yards and the park as well as one of their houses. The kids just adore the hunts and all the plastic eggs are filled with change instead of candy so it makes me happy. Margie did buy some special vegan candy for the kids because she is like a surrogate grandmother (since my poor kids have no grandmothers left and Margie is a total sweetie). The kids couldn't wait for the Easter egg hunt to start so they busied themselves with painting pictures for our neighbors.
This is a painting by Parker for Margie.
Josie trying out her new wings.
Look at how busy the Easter bunny was this year!
Josie waiting patiently on the porch for the "Go!" to start the egg hunt.
My three egg hunters.
Parker busy finding eggs with all the fallen blossoms from the tree in the park.
Dema finds a purple egg hidden on the tree.
Eggs in trees.
Even Princess Ninja Fairies need help sometimes reaching the high ones.
Help from the big "kids". Margie and Rick's son was ever so helpful and sweet. Josie adores him!
As soon as the Easter eggs were found, we had to quickly walk several blocks to Erin and Brian's house for a potluck. Rob is displaying the Easter Pie we made for the occasion.
We spotted the elusive Princess Ninja Fairy on our walk to the potluck. This dress was given to us by our friends Mark and Anna back when Josie was just a baby. They brought it to a potluck at a mutual friend's house to give to someone else, the person with a three year old didn't show up so they gave it to us. I forgot about it in the attic, but luckily Josie found it and uses it for all special occasions.
Here is my plate piled high with vegan goodies! Richelle's marvelous asparagus and mushrooms, our Easter Pie (I used the Herbed Breakfast Patties recipe from Vegan Diner), perfect roasted potatoes (can't remember who brought these), Loretta's luscious couscous salad, Erin's fantastic mac an cheeze, and Susan's beautiful Bulgar salad.
Brian is the master bar tender/gracious host and happily made pretty drinks all evening for the lushes, thus I will forgive him for the jokes about carving the ham. Josie did tell him how sad she was for the dead pig and chicken, but I don't think it swayed him at all. He's a great sport though!
After the fun at Erin and Brian's, we walked the kids home to hang with Aunt Karen and Stuart. Then headed to Urbana sans children for Wade's birthday party. I baked my favorite "adult" cake, Lower-fat Deep Chocolate Bundt Cake from Veganomicon for the occasion. All in all a lovely weekend with loads of great food and awesome friends/family!