Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vegan Grilling

It's barbecue season, and just because you're cutting out or cutting down on meat isn't any reason to retire your grill. Here are some tasty and healthful ideas for veggie grilling.

1. Vegetable slices. Eggplant, squash, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and probably whatever else you can think of. For smaller vegetables, you might want to invest in a grilling basket to keep pieces from falling onto the coals. Cut the vegetables into similar sized pieces, brush with a bit of oil, and grill until crisp-tender. (Alternatively, I have a friend who makes tinfoil packets of vegetables with marinade and grills those campfire-style.)

2. Fruit. Pineapple is the quintessential fruit to grill, but peaches, pears, apples, and bananas are great, too. Keep a close eye on softer fruits as they'll get a bit mushy if they cook too long. (Bananas can be grilled in their peels with chocolate.)

3. Kebabs. Either soak bamboo sticks or use metal skewers and thread them with whatever you can imagine. Try for lots of different shapes, textures, and colors. This is a good place to use a marinade. And don't be afraid to add cubed tofu or tempeh here. Try this recipe Kim O'Donnel posted for barbecued tofu skewers.

4. Pizza. Go easy with the toppings here, and feel free to precook vegetables that might need a bit more time to get soft. Here are Heidi Swanson's instructions for grilling pizza.

5. Burgers and sausages. Let's face it, vegetarian hot dogs aren't very good. But there are some excellent vegan sausages out there. I really like Tofurkey and Field Roast sausages. They're flavorful and grill up nicely. There are a million veggie burgers out there, so I'll leave that one up to you.

If you're up for making your own vegan sausages, try this recipe from Everyday Dish. It's really versatile. I've seen everything from chorizo to pepperoni to boudin come out of this basic recipe.

6. Portobello mushrooms. This is a great option if you're looking for something on a bun but you're not into veggie burgers. Marinate or brush with oil before cooking.

7. Corn on the cob. Remove the silk but leave the husks on. Soak the ears (with husks) in water. The wet husks help steam the corn. Turn the ears occasionally as they cook. More complete instructions are here.

8. Salad. I know, I know. But really, you can grill a head of romaine.

9. Polenta. Recipe from the NYT's great new "Recipes for Health" column. (Obviously sub Earth Balance or olive oil for the butter if you're cooking for vegans.)

10. Bread. Recipe from the Food Network.

11. Grill and mix. Use grilled vegetables to make fajitas, sandwiches, wraps, or pasta.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Teriyaki Eggplant

Dewey and I have a culinarily mixed household. I'm vegan and health-minded and a treehugger. He's an omnivore, and while he's interested in health and the environment, he's not nearly as invested in it as I am.

Our meal planning has to take into account my diabetes, too. That means avoiding meals that combine too many carb-heavy options (like spaghetti and garlic bread). (Note: When they cure diabetes, my first diabetes-free meal will be pasta, garlic bread, tiramisu, and several glasses of wine.)

We combined our households about six months ago, and I think we've finally found a balance that works for us. We take turns choosing what to eat. I push for more vegetables, Dewey pushes for fewer of certain vegetables (raw tomatoes, mushrooms, and avocado are on his banned list). Most of the time, this means we eat the same food. Occasionally, we eat separate, but equal.

The meal above is an example of this. Dewey wanted to make teriyaki beef and soba noodles. So we made teriyaki sauce together (this video recipe), and I used my part of the sauce to make teriyaki eggplant.

I sliced my eggplant, brushed it with oil, and baked it in the oven for about half an hour. Then I finished my eggplant by glazing it in the teriyaki sauce following the directions for glazing the teriyaki beef. When I make this again, I'll peel the eggplant. It looks prettier with the skin on, but the texture of the skin was a bit tough and added a bitterness to the eggplant.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The way my garden grows

I'm beginning to think I should stop growing vegetables and start cultivating bugs. I'd be more successful that way.

Here are some adorable aphids sucking out the juices of a pepper leaf. With them, their friend the ant.

Here is a picture of a spidermite on a sheet of white paper. The mite is that light colored thing in the middle of the photograph. For size comparison, they're about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

I spent the evening washing aphids, ants, and spidermites off the leaves of my plants. Too bad the snails will love all that moisture.

Leaf damage on an eggplant leaf. The white spongy part is actually where a pest sucked the bottom layer off the leaf, leaving just a thin top layer.

And finally, a holey squash leaf. These holes are circular unlike the irregular holes above. I think the black bits are waste left behind by whatever is chowing down on the leaf.