Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No Time

There are tons of pictures to post but of course no time to set aside for editing and updating. I used the purple cauliflower in our scampi recipe and the lemon juice made it look neon. Chris graduated last weekend, maybe I can get him to post before he starts working fulltime.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Family Kentucky Weekend

Despite our extremely sluggish departure, we met up with my brother and sister-in-law Friday afternoon in northern Illinois to begin the drive to western Kentucky for a family gathering. It was also our first full vegan weekend without the convenience of our kitchen, and we managed just fine. Our traveling companions were kind to go with us to Chipotle on the way to and fro so that we could have a full meal on the 10 hour trip each way.

We got to hang out with all 12 members of my immediate family, including my 3 month old nephew and 2 1/2 year old adorable niece. The weather was gorgeous and the company wonderfully refreshing. I love you all.

Our cooking was somewhat stunted, of course, but with a trip to the tiny natural food store and some conventional produce, I managed to make Papa al Pomodoro, a bread-tomato-white bean soup and Greek Potatoes. I'm actually awaiting another pan of Greek Potatoes I put in the oven an hour ago. I make them about once a week, or more when we're uninspired. It's roughly based off of a Moosewood Cookbook recipe, but with insane amounts of garlic and oregano, and the addition of cayenne. We also top with more raw garlic and lemon juice, oregano, cayenne, and a splash of fresh extra virgin olive oil to coat it all together.

It was nice to hear the accolades from family members that have checked out the blog and even passed it on to vegan friends. I'd love to hear comments, recipe requests, and suggestions from anyone and everyone about the site. I like knowing I'm not posting in a diary without an audience.

Being out of town reminded me how appreciative I am of the natural food stores we have here, especially our beloved co-op Outpost. Now to get creative with all the cauliflower in the fridge... Pictures of purple cauliflower will be forthcoming.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Inspired Week

Last weekend Chris made a suggestion to get us out of a food rut. Each week, revamp an old favorite recipe and also try at least one new recipe. I think we did at least 2 of each this time around. Maybe that will count for this week too if we don't have time to be as creative again.

I had bought a head of orange cauliflower, steamed it, and we had the basis for several quick meals.

Revamped recipe: McCormick One-Step Quick Chicken

In college, my mom gave me a "one-step" seasoning and recipe for chicken breasts. Chris, the seasoning expert, has long since mixed the seasoning with our own spices. Per the recipe, chicken (or in our case, cauliflower) is cooked in olive oil with onions and peppers, add some white wine, spices, a can of tomatoes, and simmer. Top with teese.

I love Muir Glen and we discovered they now have No Salt Fire Roasted Tomatoes! They read our minds. I was going to write to them and suggest/plead that they make them without added salt. It's not on their website yet but I've seen it in two stores now, so I will vote with my dollars to promote their wonderful product. The fire-roasted flavor is so good in anything Italian. They will be featured in future posts, I can assure you.

New recipe: Best. Sandwich. Ever.

This wasn't a recipe, but I made the most amazing sandwich. In our curious moments at the grocery store, we have bought fake meats occasionally and then hardly use them. Having smoked Tofurky in the fridge, I decided a sandwich and broccoli sounded delicious the other day. So it included sprouted flourless bread, 2 almost insignificant slices of Tofurky, sliced red onion, tomatoes, and cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, and romaine lettuce with Nayonaise. The picture makes me want another. Oh, and to make it more "turkey club" like Chris put a little liquid smoke on the cucumber to make it resemble bacon, and it worked, haha. And I roasted broccoli with a bunch of lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil.

It's amazing how my tastes have changed after eating this way for the past 6 months. I get major cravings for vegetables. So late-night snacks will often be mixed vegetables of some sort.

This week it was asparagus with red onion and Borsari herb and salt seasoning.

Another night I made myself mushrooms with poblano and jalapeno peppers, onion, and mexican oregano.

We also made a couple new Indian dishes and revamped General Tso's but Chris will blog about those since he's the ethnic chef.

The cat who ate too much

Click the picture to see his tongue

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mmm Refreshing

When we lived in Cincinnati, we would get La Rosa's pizza every so often. We tried their BLT salad which has a creamy garlic dressing which is amazing. The innovator he is, Chris made a substitute for it with some additions to Nasoya's Creamy Italian dressing- oregano, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, and it's really good. A cool crispy iceberg salad is refreshing, and we use bacuns, chopped roma tomato, and red onion to top it off. I guess it could be called BOLT salad with the onion. We use onion and/or garlic in practically everything we eat. Some might be turned off by this. I can't imagine food without the allium genus.

The colors look weird in this picture, I guess I should have put the plate on the dark granite countertop like I usually do.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Testing the Teese

Chris had heard about this great soy cheese made in Illinois called Teese. It's natural, not made with isolated/hydrolyzed soy protein or autolyzed yeast extract or other processed stuff like some vegan alternatives and well, processed food in general. We found it's sold at Vegan Essentials, which happens to be on the west side of the Milwaukee area. We finally made it there a few weeks ago. It's really not set up for on-site shopping, definitely more of a warehouse and online business. But the staff was friendly and let us take our time perusing the aisles. We picked up some stuff we didn't really need, as often happens when grocery shopping, like some candy and such that we have yet to try.

Anyway, so we felt the best experiment with the faux cheese would be on a pizza. Instead of making our own crust this time, we bought a millet flour and flax seed crust by Sami's that we found at a natural food store near Chris's grandparents' house.

It was fun to experiment, but I wish I had put more toppings on. Compared to our first attempt with another vegan cheese a while back, this was almost creepily cowmilk-like both in texture and smell. We actually made a white pizza over this past weekend with a thin brown rice/potato crust which I topped sufficiently this time- half jalapenos & crimini mushrooms, half spinach & artichokes, red onion on the whole thing. It hit the spot, but I didn't want to interrupt the enjoyment to take pictures. It's refreshing and invigorating to make all this crazy food that it usually so based on dairy. I can't explain the difference I feel in my body without the congestion that stuff causes. It's liberating.

I had been wanting to try making a new version of my mom's hamburger pie (aka shepard or shepherd's pie). Well I succeeded last week! My first attempt at vegan potatoes was interesting, and a good starting point. I baked the potatoes as opposed to boiling them when I was using the oven for something else anyway, scooped out the insides, and added coconut milk, lots of fresh garlic, and a little cayenne. For the pie, I used tomato sauce, ratatouille seasoning from the Spice House, lots of onion and mixed vegetables- corn, lima beans, carrot, peas, and green beans. I kept adding more seasoning because it tasted too much like just tomato sauce, but after broiling it to melt the Teese, it was really strong. Less ratatouille next time. T'was yummy though. And I'll be playing with how to make the mashed potatoes differently too.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Seitan Stir Fry

We bought some seitan to try out of curiosity. It's most familiar to Americans as mock duck in chinese restaurants and as a versatile soy-free meat substitute. We're intending to make a vegan version of the beef stroganoff recipe we used to make but haven't been inspired lately. So, watching the seitan sit unused in the fridge, I decided to throw it in a stir fry. As long as you are well prepared with everything chopped and ready to go, I like how easy and quick a stir fry comes together, and it's great to use whatever vegetables you have on hand. The seitan had a spongy texture and took on the flavor of the sauce. I'd use it again, but am just as happy without it. It would be interesting to try as a substitute for something that's more dependent on the meat as part of a dish.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vegetable Biriyani

I've been making this for years now, just have made some adjustments over time. Brown basmati rice goes better with all of the earthy spices like clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, turmeric, and kashmiri chili powder. The rice is fried in a little coconut oil (as opposed to butter), spices added, and then placed in a casserole in the oven with a some chopped raw cashews to cook. Mixed vegetables, onion, green pepper, and a dozen thai chilies are sauteed and then stirred into the rice, and it's topped with yogurt on each plate. Yum. We've tried both "So Delicious" coconut milk yogurt and a brand of soy yogurt that I can't remember right now. They both were a little sweet in my opinion, but fit the bill. The picture with the yogurt didn't turn out as pretty, so this is what it looked like in the dish.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mac and Trees

Inspired by a homemade version of the boxed Mac and Chreez by Road's End I found here I made an adapted version with about double the spices and sans salt and the few ingredients we didn't have on hand- i.e. miso, smoked paprika, and tahini. We bought some kids shaped brown rice pasta for the occasion. As I always did with real mac and cheese, I added a bunch of steamed little broccoli florets and peeled stems. For the first time using nutritional yeast, I was pleased with the flavor. Hopefully it will be duplicable because it was fun and turned out well.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Another mass update ...

Well, time passes more quickly than I can keep up with and so this is somewhat of a lumped post. A week ago, I decided to try my skills at mixing up an herbal formula (using mostly organic herbs, some wildcrafted) at a massive savings over the premixed type. I must say, after taking the capsules for a week this stuff is pretty potent. Dr. Christopher's Herbal Eyebright, which I am using to improve my eyesight. I hope to make tincture soon (alcohol extract) and at the cost of the herbs plus the ease over stuffing them in capsules, I'll probably take more of it then, in addition to using it for eyewash.

The tube amplifier is happily singing again after a mishap with some vintage tubes I was dying to try. I may throw a few meters on it when I try them again, to make sure the bias doesn't drift and cause trouble. One of the tubes may be going gassy (losing vacuum), which is a shame since they sell for $$$$$.

On the food front, we had a nice breakfast yesterday morning - Amy's "Sausage" which was delicious. All the flavor, without the meat! Add a side of unpeeled red potato hash browns with onions and that rounds out the plate. Top with some cayenne and it just can't get any better.

Today, we hit the kitchen hard for the first time in a while - gourmet inspiration and future preparation. We're starting to get back into the swing of things, inventing and trying new recipes. First was Lemon/Garlic Tahini sauce, followed by Falafel, Mixed Vegetable Pakoras, and Poori. The Tahini is used on our falafel wraps (in sprouted grain tortillas). This is topped with a mixture of cucumber, tomato, and red onion. This is then finished off by a large helping of alfalfa sprouts. Crunchy, creamy, fresh, and earthy. There is literally a few cups of the tahini sauce, about 40 falafal, countless pakora, and a few poori (fried, Indian whole wheat bread). Enough for a buffet or a huge party, but some will be frozen for later enjoyment - it beats the flavor and junk in store bought food. The Indian grocery is frustrating since most of the breads aren't whole
grain and we aren't really supposed to have much bread unless sprouted. Though every now and then a piece is good with a flavorful Indian meal. Until next time, enjoy the pictures and remember that healthy food CAN taste good!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm an Aunt times Two

Talked to my Mom yesterday afternoon. Lorri had her baby at 3:17pm, and Ted is a proud father. So now I have a nephew, who is as of this writing still unnamed as far as I'm aware. He was 7 lbs 14oz, and other than a scare of not breathing the first minute, is healthy and doing well. Lorri's birthday is today, I hope the proud parents are having a great day. Happy to now have a nephew and niece! Hope to hear more details soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Delayed Pictures

Finally got around to looking at the food pictures we've taken over the last couple weeks. So here they are.

Vegetable Korma with Paratha bread

Spicy Pasta with Artichokes, Tomatoes, and Spinach
This is a standby I make when we want a quick fresh meal. We usually don't use the pasta anymore. This has lots of garlic, crushed red pepper, and french basil. I top it with some chopped raw garlic too and kelp powder. So good.

Cauliflower Scampi on a bed of Millet

Aloo Methi (Pan Fried Red Potatoes with Turmeric & Fenugreek Leaf)

Monday I came home to the delicious smells of Dal and Chana Masala that Chris had made. We hadn't had indian in a long time and it was so satisfying. Yum.

I veganized a favorite recipe for Chicken Giardino with coconut oil instead of butter, cauliflower instead of chicken, and coconut milk in place of the cream. I had been craving it and it was divine.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some July events

I'm finally blogging for the first time! There are a few things I've been meaning to post including some food pictures. As far as news, though...

Two Saturdays ago, Chris and I went to Glow Salon downtown to have our hair cut and donated for Locks of Love. We took pictures before we left, and Kari also took before and after pictures of us, which may show up on their website eventually. She said she'd never had a couple come in before to donate. She put my hair in a loose ponytail, and we decided a little over 10 inches would meet the length requirement but leave me with a long enough 'do. I had been wanting to get rid of all the length for so long. She was really cool. We talked about her wanting to convert her turbo diesel Jetta that gets 48mpg to run on biodiesel, about living in Washington Heights/Wauwatosa, about the conspiracies of food/drug industries and the government in general, and natural healing and quality food (her parents are farmers). I was in love with my new haircut and how she styled it, I couldn't stop playing with it while I waited for Chris to have his done. I filled out our donation forms while his hair was evened out. He was able to give 10 inches of hair too, and she layered his hair a little in the back so it's now very fun and about chin length. She was impressed Chris has a job where his long hair didn't matter- her boyfriend has dreadlocks and he works at Outpost- the organic supermarket where we shop regularly- because a lot of employers wouldn't allow dreads. She said she hoped we'd come back if we want to donate again in a couple years or for a maintenance trim. I'm not sure if either of us would have the patience to grow out that much hair again, but it was something I'd always wanted to do.. at least once.

On the 7th, the Monday after the haircut, I had to go across town for New Employee Orientation at headquarters. It was mostly a review of general company things I already knew, but the tour was pretty interesting. The Mission Impossible-esque server rooms were definitely the highlight. Card access allows you to a rectangular temperature and humidity regulated room with a raised paneled floor. Our tour guide commented that the coded coordinates on each of the four walls corresponding to floor panels of data was like a lifesize Battleship game. The 3 double door curved glass entryways in this room each held different crucial information accessible to very few people. Fingerprint recognition is required to open the door, and after the door closes behind you, heat & weight sensors sense if a single person is entering. A second fingerprint is recognized, and the second door opens to allow access to the mainframe room. No one was going in or out to witness the process when we were in the paneled floor room, but it was nonetheless intriguing.

So I've been working as a permanent employee since June 23rd, including lots of overtime hours. This week I will be working more closely to my official 27 hour workweek. While the pay won't be as much, it will be nice to have time to maintain the house and accomplish some other things during the week, instead of cleaning like crazy on the weekend without achieving anything new.

But the even bigger and better news is that Chris got a permanent job offer this week with his summer internship at LS Research! He doesn't know the details yet, but since he has accepted the position, he'll be finding out more soon. We're hoping to move somewhere near Cedarburg where the company is located (about 30 minutes north of downtown) in the next few months. He currently has a 45 minute commute, and its such a waste of time and gas. It seems like we outgrow wherever we're renting after about 7 or 8 months anyway. We've been disenchanted with the lack of assistance of the maintenance people and the rudeness of some of our neighbors lately. I still can't believe our recycling dumpster was removed, too, so we've been having to set aside recycling and take it to the local drop off site every few weeks. Among other things I won't go into detail about here.

Pictures will be forthcoming, too tired to look at them now. Going to read a bit and subsequently sleep.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A trip down memory avenue...

After an awful day in our current dinge-hole (aka apartment) it was time for some much needed relaxation, but we couldn't stand being here - so a virtual trip was the next best thing... back to Chase Avenue

To set the stage, we decided to make some grill packs - but instead of having meat we used black beans. Delightful, and a must-do again - they added great flavor. A spoonful of coconut oil replaced the fat from any meat, and is much better for you anyway. The mouth feel was unmistakable, and along with the normal other items and some purple potatoes, it made for a memory-returning meal.

Things were going well, but too much noise was distracting - some Pink Martini cleared that right up, taking us outside to the patio. A snifter of Oban and a game of Carcassonne finished the night with a happy glow and the warmth of memories past. It was a great way to bring a good finish to a less than desirable day!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sichuan Stir Fry

The first food picture - Vegetable Sichuan Stir Fry

A "touch" of heat from 12 Tien Tsin chiles, plus the elusive Sichuan Peppercorns made this a very flavorful and spicy dish. As you can see, there are a number of various fresh vegetables.

What made this meal truly unique was the use of Millet in place of rice. Possibly the first domestic grain, it was grown in China as early as 2700 BC and was the prevalent grain before rice was introduced. It is a whole grain, and takes about as much time to cook as most white rice. This makes it attractive when time is of the essence, since brown rice generally takes about 3 times as long to cook.

Millet is also unique since its time from seed to harvest is only about two months. It does well in poorly fertilized and dry soils. It is non-glutinous and also NOT acid forming like most grains. It has a great deal of protein and fiber, B-complex vitamins, lecithin, vitamin E, and is a significant source of plant based, assimilable iron. There are many phytochemicals present which science has yet to even study, making it a great alternative to the standard wheat in the American diet.

Hooray for sustainable, nutritious, healthy foods!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Beginning ... A Good Place To Start

After a year's worth of considerations, procrastination, and having way too much to do we've finally launched a blog. As things become more seamless, we'll probably use it more regularly. There will probably be many pictures and recipes for delicious Vegan gourmet food, the occasional picture of the cat, or of some crazy electronic project or incredible deal that couldn't be passed up.

And thus, I leave you all with anticipation and a picture of 34 carillon rolls that I recently acquired. The weirdness begins....