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.
Fancy. But…desperate times call for desperate measures, eh?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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?)
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!
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…
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?
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!
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.
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!
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…
So get ready for more soup.
Soup from alternate angles.
And much, much moreness. I’ve missed you folks. Guess I’d better get cooking.
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?
This 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.
Ah, 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.
Which 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.
These 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.
Those 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.
My 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.
A 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.
A 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.
More 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.
My 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.
Isa 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.
I’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.
Using 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:
(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.
I think I’ll start with my thoughts on being broke. It sucks. Mostly the whole worrying about whether the bills will get paid is the worst bit, but also…I like food. And I like to experiment with my food. I like to buy fresh vegetables and peruse the grocery shelves for interesting food items that I’ve never tried before. I like splurging now and then on some fancy new vegan item. Because of this rather compulsive random food buying, I happen to have an extremely well stocked pantry. I forget things are even there, which means sometimes I buy them more than once and thus have twice as much as I need. So when things get thin in the financial district of Ciudad de Jessica, it’s not that big of a deal.
Unless that also happens to be the time when Vegan Mofo is going to happen, and then it’s just downright painful.
I know! I know I said I was going to do Mofo, and I was even going to use my spice hoarding as a theme. But my budget is kind of not allowing me to buy any groceries (save for kitty food and toilet paper) until…October. Like, seriously. Don’t worry or anything. Like I said, my pantry is well stocked. And remember how I was freezing stuff all throughout the spring? I’m not going to starve. By any means. And my parents are coming this weekend (for my birthday!) and bringing me tons of veggies from their garden, which I am going to freeze so I can at least have some green things here and there. But it does mean that I’m not able to commit to blogging every day with new and exciting dishes. Or even new and boring dishes, because most of it will be stuff from my freezer that you’ve already seen before.
Not to fret! I will still be blogging. You’re totally going to groan after reading about my 4th batch of socca and how it’s basically the only way I’m getting protein aside from those 4 packages of frozen bologna-style deli slices I stockpiled a month ago. (Which will surely taste great wrapped up in the socca!) But I’m not going to be on the Vegan Mofo blogroll. Still, check and see what I have been coming up with. I mean, I just saw that I have grits, matzo meal, two cans of jackfruit, packaged chestnuts (which I will actually probably save for that one Fall-ish casserole from Veganomicon that calls for them, since I’ve never actually seen them in, like, November, when you would think that packaged chestnuts would be out and about), several types of dried beans, and even a really old container of peppermint chocolate soymilk for if I get a sweets craving. Sadly, I am almost out of flour…but I have a ton of gluten free flours, so maybe something will come about from that. Who knows. I tend to get creative when I’m desperate (desperate being used rather loosely here), and creativity breeds some of the most delicious meals.
So…bear with me? Check back, even though I’m not on the blog roll? Pretty please?
All groveling aside, I do have some food photos to show. The lovely Dreena Burton almost never fails me when it comes to the tastiest of vegan recipes, and Let Them Eat Vegan is her latest (and greatest?) effort yet.
This is Tofu Baked in an Olive, Grape, and Herbed Marinade, served over Creamy Polenta. Sounds fancy, huh? It actually came together really quickly. You just sort of combine everything in a casserole dish and bake it. Voila! Fancy-sounding tastiness with minimal effort!
There were sun-dried tomatoes in there as well. The sweetness from those and the grapes greatly mellowed the briny saltiness of the olives. I do remember it seeming a little oily…but paired with the polenta to sort of soak all that up, it was divine. Naturally, a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley as a garnish makes everything bright and pop-py. The recipe also says to garnish with pine nuts, but I left them out because…meh. Also, as if fancy olives and sun-dried tomatoes weren’t pricey enough, eh? Anyhow, definitely a winner, and one I will make again once it gets chilly and I need a nice comforting casserole-type dish to warm me up.
I had previously shied away from the Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew because the ingredients list is really very long. It takes up a whole page, honestly. But one day it sounded good to me, so I examined said long list and realized that it was really just a bunch of spices and pantry supplies that I already have and some awesome vegetables. Won me over. It’s pretty much exactly what you would think it is: peanut-y, ginger-y, coconut-y, lemongrass-y, spicy…with lots of hearty veggies and some tofu cubes for good measure. Those cubes don’t absorb a lot of flavor, as they’re added towards the end, so use a tofu that you think has a nice, neutral flavor to begin with. You could probably leave it out, too, or substitute some chickpeas. I liked it as is, though. Nothing like a nice hearty stew to settle down with at the end of the day. Naturally, leftovers were doubly tasty.
Ha, and here is one that I avoided because it seemed too darned simple: Tempeh Tickle. Also the name weirded me out. But that’s my own thing. (Served with the Creamy Polenta again, plus Thai Green Beans [with some added zucchini] from Appetite for Reduction, which was a weird combination…but it worked somehow.) Dreena knows how to do right by tempeh. So many recipes don’t tell you that you have to steam or simmer it to release the evil bitter flavor inherent to the stuff, and then marinate the living daylights out of it to make it taste good. That sort of makes it sound like, ‘Why bother if it’s nasty?’, but the answer is, ‘Because it’s worth it, so shut your pie hole!’ Anyway, once you get the tempeh properly simmered and marinated in a lovely concoction of things that I never thought would go nicely together, you can basically cook it however you like. She suggest grilling it, but I prefer to bake it. So bake it I did! All methods for cooking are clearly instructed in the directions. I like that sort of thoroughness in a recipe. This tempeh would go great as a sandwich filling, but I enjoyed it just smooshed into the polenta (not pictured).
Ok, that’s it. That’s the last of my pre-summer, money-having meals. For the next month you get to watch me create my own stuff, which is generally what people seem to sort of want out of food blogs in the first place. Hope you’re happy, you’re finally getting what you want. (I say, as if I’ve never been so gracious as to give you an original recipe before.)