Saturday, May 7, 2011

In Which I Finally Outwit the Insects

A few months ago, I poked 16 holes in the dirt, dropped in 16 carrot seeds, sprinkled everything with a bit of water, and crossed my fingers.

Today, my nephew and I pulled five full-grown carrots from the earth. I can't decide what recipe is special enough for these beauties, but I'm looking forward to finding out!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Please, Take My Photos

I spent some time the last few weeks switching the copyright on my food photos to Creative Commons licensing. There's a lot of great vegan photography out there, let's share it with each other. When we all pool our resources, we can create so much more.

Edit: I spoke too soon! Chris and Crystal Tate, the lovely folks behind Food for Lovers Vegan Queso are working on a vegan stock photo site. Y'all, I'm ready for a group hug now.

Black bean soup with all the fixings
Puttanesca Scramble from Vegan Brunch
CSA veggies. This is the photo we used to build my banner.
Carrots fresh from the ground
Summer Rolls from Veganomicon
Seitan en Croute from 500 Vegan Recipes
Tot Salad
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk

Tortilla Soup

Monday, April 4, 2011

Giant Vegan Passover Post

Clockwise from top left: roasted beets with horseradish sauce, carrot top (karpas), asparagus, carrot, haroset, roasted potatoes

Being vegan at holidays is a challenge for some people. It's a time when we confront our food nostalgia and our family's expectations. But Passover has unique challenges for vegans, especially if they are Ashkenazi.

There are two basic camps at Pesach. Those who eat kitniyot (beans, peanuts, corn, rice, and so on) and those who don't. If you noticed, most protein-heavy vegan foods fall into that kitniyot category. This makes it a challenge for vegan Ashkenazim who avoid kitniyot. My family's tradition, despite my European ancestry, is to eat kitniyot. We really weren't very strict about Passover growing up, and I don't find Passover too hard to negotiate now because of that.

Some general tips about being vegan at Pesach, and then I'll start with the recipe lists.
• Spring vegetables are starting to roll in, and this is a good time to focus on vegetables.
• Think like a raw foodist. Most of the foods that raw foodists eat are Passover friendly and free of kitniyot. Raw dessert recipes are especially helpful.
• Alternatively, think like an Eat-to-Live dieter. This eating plan is also very Passover friendly.
Making your own plant milk is really easy to do. Cashew milk and almond milk are good Passover milk choices. And cashew cream is great for desserts. Leave out the sweeteners for savory uses.
• Speaking of nuts, if you don't eat kitniyot, tree nuts are your friend. Peanuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and sunflower seeds are all kitniyot, but tree nuts are OK to consume for everyone.
• Quinoa is a really popular grain at Passover because it's not actually a grain. Quinoa is high in protein relative to other grains. Quinoa is usually considered acceptable for Passover, though it can be hard to find quinoa with a Passover hechsher if that's your tradition. Use quinoa to make a breakfast porridge, pilaf, or even quinoa milk.
• The seder plate usually contains some non-vegan items. Using a beet instead of a lamb shank is a long-standing tradition. A beet on the seder plate is even mentioned in the Talmud. Wrap a beet in foil, roast it in the oven for an hour, and then peel or rub off the skin. The beet will look bloody, and that's the point.
• Instead of an egg, you can use: a wooden or plastic egg, an avocado pit, or (if kitniyot aren't an issue) mustard seeds. They're all symbols of growth and renewal.
• For those who eat kitniyot, 1/4 cup pureed silken tofu replaces one egg in a kugel. I've tried this substitution in many kugels, and it always works.

Vegan Passover Recipes without Kitniyot
Latkes (replace the corn starch with potato starch and the flour with matzah cake meal or matzah meal)
• Roasted potatoes
Matzo farfel granola (honey=agave)
• Baked apples or poached pears
• Haroset, of course!
Nut roast
Chocolate Toffee Matzo (non-dairy kosher for Passover margarine can be ordered online from a kosher retailer)
Breakfast quinoa (use almond or cashew milk)
Quinoa breakfast porridge (different from the first link)
Potato Leek Soup
• Tzimmes
• Vegan chopped liver spread (no green beans or eggs!)
Potato Mushroom Kugel (use KP margarine or just sub oil)
Gefilte fish
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (skip the sauce)
Tomato Bisque (saute in oil and use potato starch instead of flour)
• Roasted portobello mushroom
Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup (omit nutritional yeast, depending on your custom)
Artichoke Tapenade on matzo
• Smoothies

Vegan Passover Recipes with Kitniyot
Potato kugel (replace the flour with matzah cake meal or matzah meal)
Matzah ball soup
Cauliflower-leek kugel (all the ?? are 1/2). This recipe always impresses people.
• Cholent (leave out any barley or bulgur)
Mock gefilte fish
Quinoa Pilaf
Black bean mini-burgers
Chocolate tofu pudding (put it in a nut and matzah crust for a pie)
• Cornmeal or rice porridge
Vegan Passover Macaroons (I'm unsure about some of these ingredients, so investigate them for yourself)

Helpful Cookbooks
Olive Trees and Honey, by Gil Marks
No Cholesterol Passover Recipes, by Debra Wasserman
The (Almost) No Fat Holiday Cookbook, by Bryanna Clark Grogan
Party Vegan, by Robin Robertson
The Vegan Table, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Elsewhere on the Internet
• Advice and recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz on Heeb'n'vegan
Nut-based Passover cuisine, also on Heeb'n'vegan
• And one final Passover guide on Heeb'n'vegan
• PETA's page of Passover recipes
Happy Healthy Long Life

I've done my best to spot errant cumin, green beans, and the like, but if you're cooking for someone else, it's always a good idea to ask what they eat at Passover.


I now blog at Lone Star Plate. Come check out my fool-proof vegan matzah ball soup.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Austin Bakes for Japan TODAY

Austin Bakes for Japan will be going on at five locations in Austin today, beginning at 10 AM.

My hamentashen weren't quite as pretty as usual, so I made these shortbread cookies as well. You'll find both at the Central Austin location.

There will be vegan and gluten-free baked goods at all five sales tomorrow. Details about the sales plus pretty pictures of the baked goods can be found here:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Austin Bakes for Japan

This Saturday, there will be five bake sales across Austin to raise money for AmeriCares, a disaster relief charity working in Japan.
  • Downtown: Woof Gang Bakery, 1204 n. Lamar Blvd. 78703, 10 AM-2 PM
  • East: Nomad Bar, 1213 Corona Drive, 78723, 10 AM-2PM
  • West: The Shops at Mira Vista (between Keith Kristofer and Collectic), 2785 Bee Cave Road, 78746, 10 AM-5 PM
  • Central: Foreign & Domestic, 306 E. 53rd St., 78751, 10 AM-2 PM
  • South: Hotel San Jose, 1511 South Congress Ave., 78704, 10 AM-2 PM
I'll be at the Central location with poppyseed hamentaschen.

More information can be found at:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Broccoli and Fried Rice

We had a cold snap awhile back. For all my friends up north who are laughing at me, no, really, it got cold. The temperature was in the low 20s for a few days and there was just enough "snow" to cancel work and school. This is all to say, I had to harvest my garden. And by my garden, I mean these two stalks of broccoli. One of which probably should have been harvested a week earlier.

You keep your broccoli in a podiatry mug, too, right?

How do you feed two measly stalks of broccoli to two adults for dinner? Fried rice, of course! I made rice as part of a meal earlier in the week and planned ahead so we'd have some leftover. Fried rice (and really stir fries in general) is one of the easiest ways to get a vegetable-filled dinner on the table fast. Most of the time will be spent chopping vegetables, which means if you can get moderately efficient with your knife skills (check out some videos on youtube), you can make this meal in about twenty minutes.

The fried tofu was surprisingly eggy.

Most fried rice recipes call for 2 parts rice to 1 part vegetables/protein. We like to increase the amount of vegetables, so we usually do a ratio of 1 part rice (often brown rice) to 1 part vegetables. You want all your vegetables to be chopped about the same size. You don't see broccoli in stir fries very often, but it's actually a great use for it. All the tiny bits of broccoli mingle with the rice, and you can use every bit of the stem.

Vegetable-Filled Fried Rice
2 teaspoons canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, any size, chopped
2 cups chopped vegetables [see note]
fried tofu, in cubes or slices (optional)
2 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin or sake
salt to taste

Heat oil in a wok or large saute pan over high heat. We'll be adding all the food in shifts, and you'll want to keep stirring as you cook everything constantly. Add chopped onions and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add chopped vegetables starting with those that are hardest and need the longest cooking times, like carrots. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until the vegetables turn a bright color. If you're using spinach, bean sprouts, or scallions, add them just before you add the rice in the next step. Add the rice and the tofu, if you are using it. Cook 3 to 4 minutes longer, until the rice is heated through and slightly crispy. Add the soy sauce and mirin or sake and cook a minute longer. Season to taste and serve.

A note on vegetables: The thing about fried rice, and stir fries in general, is that any vegetable works. Use whatever is hanging around your fridge or freezer. Carrots, bell peppers, greens, scallions, broccoli, corn, peas, turnips, celery, green beans, asparagus, sweet potato, lima beans, greens, sprouts. Any vegetable that's generally cooked will likely work. Hard vegetables like carrots should go in first and quick-cooking vegetables, like many greens and bean sprouts, can go in briefly at the end until they wilt or warm. Alternatively, use a frozen vegetable mix that includes carrots, peas, green beans, and lima beans.

You can chop the vegetables any way you like, so long as they're all chopped the same. Cubes are easiest, but other shapes, like julienne, are fun for a change.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Weeknight Meal: Pizza and Imperfection

I know that isn't pizza up above (smart readers, you!). But you've seen me make pizza before.

If you're going to cook at home more often (which we're trying to do), it takes planning and preparation. I am great at planning. I have four to-do lists going at all times, and our meal plan is on the fridge right next to the shopping list. I am terrible at preparation though.

  • We were supposed to eat pizza for dinner one night this week. We already had pizza dough in our freezer (preparation success!).
  • But I forgot to take it out to thaw in the morning (preparation failure!).
  • I remembered in time to email Dewey to ask him to take it out (preparation success!).
  • I did not remember to tell him exactly how to take it out of the freezer (preparation failure!).

So Dewey didn't remove one of the pizza dough balls from the plastic package, place it in a bowl, drizzle it with oil, and return the other dough ball to the freezer for another night. Instead he plunked the entire package down on the table to defrost, which is a perfectly ordinary thing to do.

When I got home from work at night, there was a bit of a crust on the dough balls because they weren't oiled. And they were still pretty cold from being in the plastic packaging. And there were two of them.

But I figured it would work out OK, and it did. This wasn't the best pizza we've ever made, but it certainly wasn't the worst. It was pretty good. That might be the third skill it takes to eat more meals at home, accepting imperfection.

I let the balls rise a bit more in a slightly heated oven, and then set out to making pizza. For us, one dough ball makes two personal sized pizzas. This has the advantage of letting us choose our own toppings so we can both be selfish and eat things the other one doesn't like. It's also much easier to work with 6-inch pizzas than 9- or 10-inch pizzas.

After dinner, we were still left with a dough ball, which I didn't think I should return to the freezer. So I tried my hand at making calzones, using some leftover steamed broccoli for the filling. I still need a bit of work on my shaping, but now we have leftovers for lunches or quick dinners this week. Preparation success!