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Start Smoking.

September 30, 2014

Food, I mean.  For quite a long time now, I’ve been relying on liquid smoke to bring out a flame-kissed flavor in my foods.  I’m sure I’ll still use it in a pinch (it’s great in a tempeh bacon recipe!), but my parents got me a stovetop smoker for my birthday and I’ve since been experimenting with the real deal!  This is only the beginning…I am going to smoke all of the foods.

The little recipe booklet that came with my smoker suggested smoking potatoes.  Potatoes!  Of course!  I happened to have some new potatoes lying around and a cookout to go to, so I decided to make a smoked potato salad.

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This may look like your ordinary, run of the mill potato salad, but don’t be deceived!  Lurking inside of each of those little starchy cubes is an absolute wealth of smoky flavor.  I kept it simple and just used diced celery, scallions, dill, and Vegenaise to round out the potatoes.  The smoke flavor was so prominent!  While this salad was scrumptious and happily different from other potato salads that I’ve tried (and my omnivore friends gobbled it up!), I think that the smoked potatoes would be especially good in some sort of au gratin application.  I can just see thin slices of these pre-smoked taters baked to perfection with a mellow, tangy, cheesy cashew sauce, can’t you?  I’ll keep experimenting!

The thing I’ve wanted to smoke the most has been tofu, of course.  I’ve bought packaged smoked tofu and adored it in sandwiches, and couldn’t wait to try it on my own.  The only tofu I had around today was cubed and frozen, though.  While this turned out ok, next time I’ll use an unfrozen, unsliced block so that the texture is nicer.  I also went with the same cooking directions as the potatoes (medium heat, 45 minutes), and that seemed a little hot and fast for the tofu.  I’ll do it a little lower for a little longer with the block.

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I’ve heard that your best bet when smoking tofu is to marinate it first so that there’s some flavor (and namely, salt) in there before you start cooking it.  I didn’t really know what to marinate it in, so I just whipped up a quick olive oil/balsamic/soy sauce/garlic concoction.  I’ll do some research on marinades for the next go – I just don’t want anything that will interfere with the flavor of the smoke.  You can see that the cubes got a little blackened!  Definitely lower and slower next time.

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I was randomly at Aldi, and they had the most gorgeous Brussels sprouts, so I quartered and steamed those, and made some lemon-dill brown rice.  The sauce is a basic, but delicious, tahini sauce from Julie Hasson’s new vegan casserole book*.  It all goes very nicely together, and really didn’t take that much time to get ready.  Well, admittedly I did shower while the rice and tofu were cooking.  But that’s the beauty of this type of cooking – you can walk away for a little bit and get other things done!  Back to the smoker for a quick second, I’m excited to also try different types of wood chips.  It came with alder, but you can get loads of different flavors.  Applewood smoked Brussels sprouts!  Hickory smoked portobello steaks!  Maple smoked tempeh!  The possibilities are highly exciting.

*Oh, and yes, I did mention a new casserole cookbook.  Just…you…wait.

A Desperate Vegan

September 14, 2014

At the moment, I am stranded at my boyfriend’s house and my car has two trucks parked behind it in the driveway. And then the hunger set in. And I just ordered a fancy new phone and don’t want to order delivery. (I get wicked buyers’ remorse.)

My guy doesn’t really keep a lot of, say, ingredients around the house. I’m usually well stocked on snacks, but pita chips weren’t making a dent in the hunger this time. So. I found some Amy’s burgers in the freezer and ate them, bun-free, with ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce.

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Fancy. But…desperate times call for desperate measures, eh?

Revisiting an Old Favorite

September 9, 2014

Some of you may remember that last summer I was totally broke.  I didn’t have money for groceries, so I cooked out of my pantry and went to the farmers market for all of my cheap produce.  It was terrifying, but it was also interesting to see what I could come up with even when I was forced to really, really improvise.  And I survived!  Big deal.  This summer, I haven’t been nearly as broke, but I was incredibly busy.  So busy that, even though I cooked, making food for myself was a major chore.  It had to be done, but it left me exhausted.  Therefore!  This week I decided to take advantage of my newly free evenings and not-empty bank account and cook some tasty things that I didn’t let myself have last summer.  First up was my favorite summer soup.

chowdah

I’ve blogged about this soup before, but I can’t find a link to it for the life of me.  Oh well.  Anyway, this is the Summer Lovin’ Corn and Veggie Chowder from Appetite for Reduction!  I kind of un-reduced it, though, by using full fat coconut milk.  Oh well, I’ve been doing hot yoga like 4 times a week.  This soup is the epitome of summer produce.  It’s bursting with zucchini, red peppers, and sweet, fresh corn.  The coconut milk and curry powder give it an eastern vibe that many corn chowders lack.  This time around, I used a wonderful sambar curry powder from the Asian market, and I think it adds a depth that my usual mild curry powder is missing.

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This is the soup in my newest cooking vessel – a deep blue 6.5 quart enamel cast iron dutch oven that my guy got me for my birthday!  I’ve wanted one for so long, and I just love the color of this one.  (He has the same one in red.  Consequently, our toothbrushes are blue and red, respectively.  Adorable.)  Ok, enough mush.

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This chowder also has a bit of a kick due to the addition of crushed red pepper.  I recommend eating it in an air conditioned room!  At any rate, it’s basically the perfect late summer bowl of goodness.  Remember, there is never a wrong time for soup.

Date Night In

September 8, 2014

Friday night is usually date night for me and my guy, but during football season we tend to take it easy. We live in a university town and he owns a restaurant directly across from the football stadium, so Saturdays can be nuts for him. That’s why we decided to eat in this past weekend!

He’s an omnivore who doesn’t eat a lot of veggies or veg protein, so our favorite compromise is pasta with marinara, of course!

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He always makes the pasta and sauce (he is Italian, after all), and I handle the bread. This loaf is from a local bakery, and I doctored it with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and salt. We grew the rosemary ourselves in his backyard, and it is divine! Nothing quite like bread with fresh rosemary.

It was a nice, quiet evening – just what we both needed.

Spanish Tortilla. Ish.

September 5, 2014

I had a bad day yesterday, and after yoga I got a falafel wrap from our Mediterranean food truck (our only food truck!  Thank goodness it’s Mediterranean!) which was not terribly photogenic and also I just wanted to hide from the internet and watch football and not edit photos.  But today I’m back with one of my non-recipes!  Lucky you.

I was looking for something to feed the kids at work the other day and came across a Spanish Tortilla.  I’m not doing any research right now because it’s 85°F in my apartment and I’m lazy and just because, but from my understanding, a Spanish Tortilla is kind of like a frittata?  But, like, with potatoes?  So you sauté a bunch of veggies and potatoes in a skillet, then pour on some blegh egg mixture and let it cook.  A vegan version of that sounded just dandy to me, so I decided to make it happen! Of course, I made it after it got sorta darkish out and the only photo I have of it in the skillet was impossible to color correct, but, thus:

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I know, you’re saying, but that’s a quiche.  Except it’s not!  Because it doesn’t have a crust!  And…I don’t think I’ve ever seen a quiche with potatoes in it?  Anyway, this is what I did.  In my cast iron skillet (so it can go into the oven, too, plus it’s nonstick) I sautéed onions, an orange pepper, cubed yellow potatoes, the stems from swiss chard, and then the leaves of the chard once everything was close to cooked.  While that was going on, I pureed some stuff in the food processor: a box of firm silken tofu, a package of regular firm tofu, a ton of nooch, garlic and onion powder, smoked paprika, crushed red pepper, salt, and lemon juice.  Once the veggies were about done, I stirred the tofu mixture in, then popped it into a 375°F oven for about 30 minutes.

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Um, yum!  (I waited until it was brighter out to take the slice photos, obvs.)  Yeah, it holds together like a quiche, but this has so many potatoes in it that it’s way heartier than any quiche I’ve ever had.  (We’re talking about 5 fist-sized yellow potatoes…of course your hands are probably a different size from mine, but you get the idea?)

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You can see that after it sits for a bit, it slices really well.  I’ve mainly been eating it smushed up in a tupperware at work, though.  Also, this is totally customizable!  Throw in whatever veg you like.  Exchange spinach or kale for the chard, use red potatoes or (!!!) sweet potatoes, top it with fresh sliced garden tomatoes – whatever you’ve got handy, you can throw in here.  You can also adjust the flavors of your tofu puree.  I made mine really basic, just to see if it would work, but I can imagine it being lovely with a curry flavor (think Bombay potatoes) or a Mediterranean twist (kalamatas!).

And wouldn’t you say this would be a nice meal for a brunch?  In all honesty, I threw it together on the stove in about 15 minutes before it went into the oven.  You know, while you’re sautéing the onions and peppers, cut the potatoes, while the potatoes are cooking, cut up your greens, etc.  I don’t normally cook like that (I love mise en place!), but it really does work when you’re in a hurry.  Then once you get it in the oven, you can…I dunno, make pancakes or drink a mimosa or whatever.

Let me know what you think if you try it!

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Veganizing Kid Food

September 3, 2014

I did manage to actually make myself dinner this evening, but it was a mad dash in between teaching and going to yoga, so I only ate a portion out of some tupperware…in my car.  Needless to say, I will take photos of it tomorrow and talk about it then!  Instead, I’m going to show you a version of what I ate for dinner all last week.

It’s pretty ridiculous.

I’m still getting used to cooking all day as my job, which has meant that I have not really wanted to cook once I get home.  And cooking for kids has me craving all sorts of weird food that I might not normally eat.  Most of what I’m cooking at work isn’t vegan (but some is…but since most isn’t, we’re not going to really talk about that during Vegan Mofo), so I’ve been crafting up vegan versions once I get home.  Last week it was dreadfully hot and the AC in my car will basically never work again (unless I get rich quick), so turning on any heat source at home was the last thing I wanted to do.  Combine that with a veganized version of something I made the kids for breakfast and you get…

pinwheels

Yes, pinwheels.  Or trashy sushi, whichever.  I’ve been calling it both.  Start with a whole wheat tortilla (I found some that are actually really flexible, so they’re good for rolling), schmear with Tofutti cream cheese, layer with Lightlife turkey slices, then slice up some snow peas (last week’s had carrots, too, but I was out of those last night).  And uh, roll.  Then slice!  You get little bite sized morsels that didn’t require any heat, and include a whole grain, protein, and veggies.  Not bad, really.  

Actually, they’re really pretty good.  The cream cheese makes them creamy (if you’re feeling healthier and more industrious, smooshed avocado would work well here); the turkey slices add a chewy, salty factor; and the fresh veggies give it a sweet crunch!  I could do worse for being lazy and exhausted.  Bonus: since they don’t require a ton of ingredients, a package of tortillas, the cream cheese, a pack of deli slices, and some fresh veg should make several roll-ups.  I wasn’t exaggerating when I said I ate these for dinner every night last week.

What do you make when you absolutely can’t stand to cook, are sick of eating out, and are feeling ultimately lazy?

Quiet Birthday Dinner

September 2, 2014

Excuse the cruddy iPod photos, it’s late-ish and dark-ish and stormy. I celebrated my birthday all weekend since the actual day is in the middle of the workweek. Saturday was fajitas with my parents and Sunday was at a little burrito place with my friends. Tonight I wanted to play it low key, so my guy and I got Indian takeout!

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I got the vegetable mango and roti, and it is divine. We rarely eat at the Indian place because it’s kind of pricey and the atmosphere is a bit awkward, but that makes it perfect for takeout.

We finished it up with a piece of cake that my mom made – chocolate with peanut butter frosting! Yes, my mom still bakes me a birthday cake.

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Anyhow,I’ve been up since 5am and wine is calling my name. Sleep tight, mofos!

Labor Day

September 1, 2014

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Hot dog, anyone? During the summer, I spend a lot of time with my pals at my friend’s pool. I don’t eat a lot of meat analogues, but I do enjoy a good not dog.

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I like mine with dill relish, mustard, and ketchup – classic. I found these accidentally vegan pretzel buns at Kroger and they’re awesome! Very chewy and pretzel-y.

Anyhow, I know this is the beginning of Vegan Mofo, but we’re on a holiday weekend and tomorrow is my birthday, soooo…more in depth posts will start on Wednesday. Tune in tomorrow to see my birthday dinner (3 out of 3), though! In the meantime, enjoy your holiday BBQs!

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‘Sup?

August 8, 2014

Been a minute, huh?  Since November, I’ve been working 3 jobs, at around 60 hours a week.  Finding time to cook, let alone blog, was a challenge.  Every week I would have one night off, and I would spend hours cooking all of my food for the week.  Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  When you’re a vegan in a not so vegan friendly town who doesn’t want to spend money on the same crappy fast food every day, that’s just something that you have to do.  When people say that being vegan must be hard, I usually just tell them that I cook a lot.  Well, when you’re doing all of that cooking during a single weeknight, it isn’t easy, that’s for sure.  But I did it!  I lived to tell the tale.

The good news is this:  I just accepted a new job.  I will now only be working at two places!  Never thought I’d be excited to say that, but I am.  I’ll have my evenings back.  I’ll have time to see my friends, go to yoga, hang out with my cats, clean my apartment, cook, bake, and blog.  What with Vegan Mofo coming up in September, I figured what better time than the present?  I still have two weeks before that new job starts, and I’m sure my new schedule will take some getting used to (I have to be at work at 7am – ha!), so this is just a teaser.  Just a little something to let you know…

I’m back.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup

So get ready for more soup.

Soup from alternate angles.

Side view!

Side view!

More gravy and sandwiches!

Mushroom Gravy

 

For the love of all that is good in this world, more noodles with loads of veggies and tempeh!

Peanut Noodles

 

And much, much moreness.  I’ve missed you folks.  Guess I’d better get cooking.

steamingsoup

My Broke Month.

October 3, 2013

Ha, I totally lied to you guys about posting during MoFo.  September was even more stressful than I anticipated.  Work was nonstop and I was dealing with some anxiety on top of being completely broke.  I did cave twice and buy some stuff, but I only spent about $20 total on food last month.  I usually spend about $50 a week on stuffing my face, so that’s a huge cut.  And I’m pretty damned proud of myself.  Granted, my boyfriend took me out to dinner a few times, so it wasn’t all lentils and freezer burned leftovers.  But still.

Oh, on top of that, I didn’t take a single photo with my DSLR, only Instagram, so we’re going to do this up right, shitty photo essay style.  Ready?

c11abeb6081711e3b75f22000ae803db_6This is the last time I ate tofu that I cooked for myself (and thus, the only good tofu because the fried, unseasoned crap you get at some Asian restaurants does not count).  It was over a month ago.  Gah, I miss tofu.  This is a scramble I made with some pesto I had frozen, swiss chard from my parents’ garden, and some bread that my dad made.

9ce78a220b5711e39e3522000a9f18ab_6Ah, the last of the lettuce for salads.  Most important is the socca, though.  The recipe is in Vegan Eats World, and I used the herbs de provence option.  All ingredients were already in my pantry.  Socca is darned tasty and high in protein thanks to the chickpea flour.  For a minute, I thought I could trick myself into thinking it was like bread, but I was wrong.  It’s good, but it’s not bread.

c9be5ba8100b11e393f522000aeb4102_6Which is why it was really weird as the base of this little pizza I made.  This batch of socca had sundried tomatoes and basil in it.  The pesto is from my freezer, and I grew that tomato on my balcony.

a77720e80b7411e3be5222000a1fafb5_6These sesame peanut noodles with ginger marinated cucumbers were a treat.  The cucumber came from my parents’ garden, and I had the rest of the ingredients on hand, so no substitutions had to be made.  Bonus: it made a huge amount of food, so I had leftovers for a week.  Recipe also from Vegan Eats World.

4b75cd5e10be11e3b09522000a1fb25d_6Those cucumbers came in handy as a snack, as well.  I really love the maple mustard vinaigrette from Veganomicon as an alternative to honey mustard for salads and dipping veggies, but I was out of maple syrup, so I used agave.

c8ed5fe0198811e39c3622000ae904f9_6My dude got me a Kitchenaid stand mixer for my birthday (I know, right?!), and it was killing me that I couldn’t afford to buy ingredients to make something in it, so I looked around at what I had and ended up making the green monster bread from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.  I had to alter the recipe a little to fit what I had on hand, so I used the last of my parents’ swiss chard as the green, subbed chickpea flour for the wheat gluten (thinking maybe it had more to do with the protein than the stretchiness factor?), and used a mixture of whole wheat flour and bread flour, since I didn’t have enough all purpose.

16f25488199911e38d7822000a1fa48d_6And then I made them into sandwich rolls!

7e22adb4199a11e3ba2422000a1f9376_6I used my last frozen veggie burger to make the first sandwich.

db2e88361d3511e384ca22000a1f8d78_6And then I made a whole bunch of these silly veggie sandwiches with the rest.  This one was special because I unearthed some tempeh sausage patties I had frozen.

86879802045f11e3bf3522000a1f8ac6_6A couple of those tempeh sausage patties also went into this totally desperate, weird ramen I made.  I don’t even.  There are peas in there?  And some canned baby corn, which was the best part of the whole thing.

4c98ccc41d3211e39f5522000a9f14ae_6I went to the farmers market with $10 and came home with this, which was exciting.  Although I killed that mum almost immediately.

6c93af7c1e3a11e3877022000a9f1278_6Some of the red peppers went into this freezer pesto pasta that I made with the last bit of a box of macaroni I had kicking around.

8273242209e911e3ac9b22000a1fb864_6Oh, forgot about this.  I wanted some Indian food, so I made some up with some roasted sweet potatoes from the first part of the month.  Yay, lentils!

13be33361b3d11e3a1bd22000a9f1361_6A bunch more peppers went into this fajita bowl.  I spent ten more precious dollars on brown rice (I used what I already had trying to save my phone, which I dropped into a glass of water on my birthday…don’t ask, but it was a waste of brown rice), some pasta, a loaf of cheap bread for toast in the mornings, and some limes and lemons.  The rice was a nice base for this.  The only thing is that I used soy curls that I’d had in my pantry from about 2 years (or more?) ago, and they tasted super stale and gross.  The cheesy sauce was great though, as were the peppers and onions.

7963fda820b811e3b4ef22000a1fbd4d_6More of that produce went into making this bowl of Mexican-style goodness.  I had a can of black beans that I bulked up with zucchini, carrots, peppers, and onions.  More cheesy sauce.  I must have deficient in something, because I made four different nooch-based meals in the past couple of weeks.  Also ate this over brown rice.

89aeff8e23a911e3ad2b22000ae80c6b_6My guy got me a Moe’s burrito one day (bless him) and they always stuff your bag full of chips and salsa, so I used those under the leftover, mixed together beans, veggies, rice, and cheesy sauce for some nachos.

07b07270217811e3b9fd22000a9f4dd4_6Isa posted a recipe for BLT mac n cheese, and I wanted it so bad, but couldn’t splurge on arugula for the green bit.  I had an eggplant and tomatoes from the farmers market trip, and I pilfered some broccoli that was set out for dipping into things from a Monday Night Football night at my guy’s house for the green part.  Instead of the cheese sauce from her recipe, I used the butternut squash one from Oh, She Glows, because I had a butternut squash and I like that sauce a lot.  This was so good!  I’m excited to make it again, following the recipe more closely.

fb446ed01e1e11e3912322000a1f933e_6A friend took pity on me and made me some falafel.  I threw together some cucumbers (parents!), tomatoes, dill, tahini, and lemon juice to with it.

e51063fc24a011e3ac8a22000a9e2947_6I’m particularly proud of this one.  I roasted one of the butternut squashes, smashed the potatoes with roasted garlic, nooch, and rosemary, and then finagled a version of the Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes from Vegan Brunch using a block of tempeh I had frozen.  I didn’t have mayo, so I used tahini and lemon juice, and then used a poblano instead of red pepper.  They were fantastic, and this was the first meal I’d had in weeks that resembled a complete dinner.

3cfa1f10264d11e38a1922000a1fb0ef_6Using the last of the farmers market produce and some button mushrooms a friend gave me, I made this Indian inspired soup with some Bob’s Red Mill veggie soup mix from my pantry.  This was my last money-saving meal!

I got paid this past week and promptly went to the grocery store and bought ingredients for taco lasagna:

6da55d182b5d11e3b5f422000a9e5ad5_6and samoa cupcakes:

a32aca2c2a2711e3903222000aeb3edf_6(Both from Bake and Destroy, which my brother sent for my birthday, I had to wait ALL MONTH to dig into it.)  You know, to treat myself.  It was actually pretty eye opening to see how much I could make using just what I had on hand and $20 worth of veggies, pasta, and rice.  Not that my pantry would stay well stocked forever, but it’s good to know I can make do in a pinch.  I’m totally buying some tofu next week though.

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