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A day of eating

November 29, 2010
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It’s been a while, so here’s the main meals we ate today – breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

Breakfast: Vegan Tofu ‘Egg’ Scramble

Ingredients

  • 1 package mori-nu organic silken tofu (firm)
  • 1 medium onion (we used a red onion)
  • 1 package mixed frozen bell peppers
  • Soy sauce (tamari) (1 tbsp)
  • Nutritional yeast (2 Tbsp)
  • Garlic powder (1 tsp)
  • Onion powder (1 tsp)
  • Cilantro (1tsp dry, as much as you like fresh)
  • Turmeric ground (1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan buttery stick

Chop the onion. Open up the tofu package and slice it up, then crumble with your hands. Sautee the onion, tofu, and peppers for 3-5 minutes using the vegan butter. Turn heat down to medium and add the rest of the ingredients – cook for 5-7 minutes more.

We served this with some slices of homemade seitan we pan-fried with some fennel seeds and cumin seeds for a sausage-y flavor.

  • Servings: 4
  • Basic nutrition info:
    • Calories: 108
    • Fat: 4.1 g
    • Fiber: 2.4 g
    • Protein: 9.4 g

Lunch: Ethiopian Lentil Stew & Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry lentils, rinsed (we used red lentils)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of berebere paste
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • water
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • Olive oil spray

First, get the lentils cooking. Measure out and rinse the lentils. Place into a crockpot. Chop the onion and crush the garlic, and put these in the crockpot as well. Measure out 2 teaspoons of berebere paste, mix them well with the rest of the ingredients in the crockpot. Pour enough water to cover the mixture and cook on high for 2 hours.

After the lentils have cooked for about an hour, prepare the cauliflower. Turn oven up to 450F. Break the cauliflower head into small florets. Place florets in a roasting pan and spray lightly with some olive oil (or other oil of choice), mixing the florets to make sure all are lightly coated. Roast for 45 minutes.

Once everything’s done, serve the lentils poured on top of the cauliflower.

  • Servings: 6
  • Basic nutrition info:
    • Calories: 91 (lentils) + 55 (cauliflower) = 146
    • Fat: 0.4 g (lentils) + 2.5 g (cauliflower) = 2.9 g
    • Fiber: 6.0g (lentils) + 3.5 g (cauliflower) = 9.5 g
    • Protein: 7.3 g (lentils) + 2.8 g (cauliflower) = 10.1 g

Dinner: Sweet & Sour Tofu

Ingredients

  • 3.5 Tbs Seasoned Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Tamari
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 Tbsp arrowroot

Fire up the broiler! Dice the tofu up into biteable chunks and arrange in a grid (no tofu pieces touching!) on a lightly-oiled pan. Spray some oil on top of the pieces when done arranging. Stick pan in the broiler, 4 minutes the first side, 4 minutes the second.

While the tofu’s going, mix and heat all the other ingredients in a small sauce pot, stirring occasionally. When your tofu’s ready to go, stir it into the pot to coat in sweet & sour sauce. We served it on top of some vermicelli / rice noodles. Enjoy!

  • Servings: 2
  • Basic nutrition info:
    • Calories: 230
    • Fat: 5.3 g
    • Fiber: 0.8 g
    • Protein: 9.8 g

Dessert: Cottage Cheese Peach Compote

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 bag frozen peaches (we used Cascadian Organic)

First we’ll make a compote of the peaches. Put the peaches in a pot at a low temperature. It’ll take about 10-15 minutes but they’ll eventually turn into an applesauce like delicious peachy mixture. While the peaches are cooking, spoon out 1/2 cup each of the cottage cheese in two dessert bowls. Once the peach compote is done, distribute it between the two dessert dishes.

  • Servings: 2
  • Basic nutrition info:
    • Calories: 130
    • Fat: 0.5 g
    • Fiber: 2 g
    • Protein: 15 g

Beet Pickles!

August 3, 2010
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So we have a lot of beets lately. I’m not really sure what to do with them. I’ve roasted them and sliced them before but I’m just not that into them prepared that way. Sigh. Since we just did cucumber pickles this weekend, we were thinking, why not pickle the beets? So tonight I searched for a pickled beets recipe and found this one from beetrecipes.org:

Tangy Pickled Beets by Kim Stakal

We followed the recipe pretty much as written except we didn’t have tarragon so we used rosemary. I took pictures so I’ll rewrite the recipe as we prepared it.

Pickled Beets

  • 5 medium beets (roughly 1 pound)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • Chop the greens off of the top of the beets, and trim the bottom root off as well. Rinse them, scrubbing them with a vegetable brush under the tap, cleaning off all of the dirt. Then, slice them very thin – you can use a mandolin like we did or slice them very thinly with a knife.

    Grab a large jar (we used an old tomato sauce jar) and sterilize it by submerging it in boiling water for 5 minutes. Place all of the sliced beets into the jar, pushing down on them if needed to fit them in.

    Combine the water, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, rosemary, and mustard seeds in a pot, and set it to boil on high. Once it starts bubbling, remove it from heat and let it cool for 2-3 minutes.

    Pour the liquid on top of the beets – we used a funnel to keep things neat. Completely submerge the beets. If there isn’t enough liquid, top it off with some extra water and apple cider vinegar.

    Refrigerate for 3 days and then they will be ready to enjoy!

    • Servings: I’m going to guess that it’s 7 servings.
    • Weight Watchers Points per serving: 1

Pickles!

August 1, 2010
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We cleaned the refrigerator out today and discovered we had 10 cucumbers. A lot more than we thought we had, for sure! What to do? We decided to make pickles. :) This recipe is very heavily based on Mark Bittman’s recipe from his How to Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook with minor changes based on our taste.

Pickling Spice

  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 small dried red chilis
  • 1/4 cup mustard seeds
  • 2 Tbsp allspice (whole)
  • 2 Tbsps dill weed
  • 2 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsps cloves (whole)
  • 2 tsps cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1 tsp green peppercorns

Crush the cinnamon sticks; break them into small bits. You can roll a jar or can on top of them to help break them up. Place the pieces in a bowl.

Chop the dried chilis up into small bits – if you are sensitive to spiciness, leave out the seeds. If you like a little spice, leave only 1/4 to 1/2 of the seeds. If you love heat, leave ‘em all. Add the chili pieces to the bowl.

Measure out all the other ingredients and add them to the bowl. Crush the ingredients in the bowl lightly – I used the bottom of a clean jar and pressed down on them. Crush them enough so you can smell the aroma but you don’t want to completely crush or grind them into a powder.

Pour the spices into an air-tight container and store. This makes roughly 1/2 cup of pickling spice.

Pickles

  • 2 pounds cucumbers (we used a mix, including a lemon cucumber!)
  • 6 Tbsp salt
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pickling spice
  • Grab a large bowl. Wash and scrub your cucumbers, and slice them up. You can slice them into quarters for spears, or you can slide them into rounds, depending on which type of pickle you prefer. If you have a mandolin, you can use it, but all you really need is a knife.

    Set a large colander out. Take 1/3 of your sliced cucumbers and layer them on the bottom of the colander. Sprinkle roughly 1 Tbsp of salt evenly on top of this layer of cucumbers. Take another 1/3 of sliced cucumbers, place them in the colander, and repeat, sprinkling roughly 1 Tbsp of salt on the layer of cucumbers. Place the rest of the cucumbers in the colander and sprinkle one last tablespoon of salt evenly on the cucumbers. Place the colander inside of the large bowl you took the sliced cucumbers from. Stir up the cucumbers in the colander with a spoon or with clean hands to make sure the salt is evenly distributed, and allow the cucumbers to sit for about 2 hours to sweat water into the larger bowl.

    Mix the 3 cups of vinegar, 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 of pickling spice, and 3 Tbsps of salt in a pot. Heat the mixture to a boil, then remove it from heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

    Remove the colander with cucumbers from the large bowl, and pour out the water in the large bowl. Move the sliced cucumbers from the colander to the large bowl. Then, pour the cooled-off pickling brine over the cucumbers in the large bowl and let it cool to room temperature (we waited about 45 minutes.)

    Sterilize some glass jars – it took us 3 jars, two empty peanut butter jars and one empty tomato sauce jar – by pouring boiling water into the glass jars and letting it sit for at least 5 minutes. Transfer the cucumbers along with the brine into the jars – we used a soup ladle, and seal them tightly. Let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 3 days, after which they will be ready-to-eat.

    • Servings: Hard to say! It’s 3 jars of pickles! :) Let’s say it’s 12 servings.
    • Weight Watchers Points per serving: 1

Espresso Machine

April 17, 2010
by

Mo and I finally decided to a get an espresso machine a couple of weeks ago. We ended up on a used Pasquini Livia 90 that we found on craigslist. Turns out the girl who used to own it lives right up the road from us, so it was easy to pick up.

We’re still trying to figure latte art out, but so far it’s been a lot of fun.

Here’s a video of me playing with the new toy.

(youtube for now, will add oggs a bit later)

The Durian Experience

January 24, 2010
by

The Durian

An H-mart opened up nearby, so we took a trip yesterday and ended up picking up a Durian fruit. We’d never had it before and were up for an adventure! The Durian came frozen – we let it thaw overnight so that its shell was a bit more pliable, and opened it up.

I have to say – the smell was not like dead bodies or stinky gym socks like some folks have written online. To me, it had a very heavy sulfuric / rotten eggs smell. It tasted good to me, but only if I held my nose. If I let the smell penetrate my noise, I simply could not enjoy it in my mouth at all. When I ate it, it felt like it stunk up my whole mouth – I had to drink something to rinse it out with every mouthful. It’s a savory kind of fruity taste. It was mild so I’m guessing it wasn’t super ripe.

The smell doesn’t let loose as soon as you open it – it took a few minutes for us to fully absorb it. Note that Ray enjoyed the durian a whole lot more than me – the smell didn’t really bother him at all!

The Durian

We made some videos of the opening of the durian and the aftermath:


The Durian Experience, Part I


The Durian Experience, Part II

Butternut & mushroom soup and yummy crusty bread

January 17, 2010
by

So we attempted the ‘Butternut Squash and Duxelles Casserole’ in the latest Vegetarian Times print magazine but it came out a bit of a disaster. The problem? We used butternut squash we had chopped and frozen from our bi-weekly share and didn’t bother to defrost it first. Whoops, look at those frost crystals:

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

So, hopefully we won’t make that mistake again. I mean it came out *looking* pretty great:

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

But the butternut was lukewarm-to-cold. We kept it in the oven double the time Vegetarian Times recommended, still not much improvement. So we decided to make it into a soup! With crusty bread on the side to go with it!

Butternut Squash, Mushroom, and Spinach Soup

Butternut Squash, Mushroom, and Spinach Soup

Ingredients

  • 8 oz mushrooms with stems
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 tsp butter
  • Parsley (we used dried flakes, 2 tsp)
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 oz munster cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped – and DEFROSTED
  • 10 oz frozen spinach (a little over a cup)
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 dried chilis

Directions

Pull the stems from the caps of your mushrooms, and stick them in a food processor in batches until you’ve got mushroom paste. Put the mushroom paste in a large bowl.

Before:
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

After:
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

Peel the shallots, chop them roughly (no need to be precise or pretty), and food process them into a paste as well. Add that to the bowl with the mushroomy paste.

Before:
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

After:
Shallot Paste

Warm up a skillet (we use cast-iron) and melt the butter. Add the bowl of mushroom and shallot paste, and cook it for 5-10 minutes. It’ll get really fragrant and delicious smelling. :) Towards the end add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste:

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Grate 3/4 of the munster cheese into a bowl and keep it next to the stove. Whisk the milk, flour, and garlic together in a small saucepan on low, simmering. Whisk until it gets thick – it’ll happen fairly quickly – and then add in the grated cheese. Add the nutmeg now too, and remove the saucepan from the heat.

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

Layer 1/3 of your squash chunks in a casserole dish. Glop 1/3 of your cheesy sauce on top with half the mushroom-shallot mix. Add another layer of squash. Layer another 1/3 of the cheesy sauce and the rest of the mushroom-shallot mix. Add one final layer of squash, the rest of the cheese sauce, and shred the rest of the cheese on top of it all.

Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes:

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

At this point you should have a delicious casserole. We goofed, so ours was not quite delicious. In either case, you may have a couple of servings of this 8-serving casserole and be at a loss as to what to do with the leftovers. Fear not! You can make a yummy soup.

Butternut Squash, Mushroom, and Spinach Soup

We used 6 servings of the casserole above, and put them in a cast iron pot. We added 8 cups of our homemade veggie broth, and a 10 oz package of frozen spinach. We seasoned it with 3 dried whole chilis, 1 tsp dried minced onion, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Bring this all to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes until you’re ready to eat!

Crusty Bread

Homemade Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 packet of dry active yeast (or 2 packets of old dry active yeast as in our case ;-) )
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Butter (we used Earth Balance vegan butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 Tbsp minced rosemary
  • Sesame seeds (~1-2 tsp)

We used a stand mixer, but you can mix by hand as well, it’s just more work! Add the all-purpose flour, wheat flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and butter in a large bowl and mix well. Add the two eggs. Mix well. Add the milk and mix at least 30 seconds more with the mixer.

At this point the flour may be quite sticky – if so add some more wheat flour until it’s reasonable to handle. Toss the 1 Tbsp of rosemary in and work it into the dough using your hands. Then, pull the dough out of the bowl and pat it (it should not be sticky! If so, flour as needed) into a nice round ball, then place it back in the bowl and cover it with cling wrap.

Let the dough rise. We gave it three hours, and it doubled in size. It may take less if you’ve got more active yeast than we did. You could also leave it to rise in the fridge over night or while you’re out at work.

Once the bread has risen sufficiently, preheat the oven to 350 F and lightly flour a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan – we used a silicon one. Pat the dough into a rectangle a bit bigger than the loaf pan. Lengthwise, fold the left and right sides of the rectangle to meet in the center, then pinch them together. Fold the short sides under so that the loaf is the right length to fit into the loaf pan. Set the loaf into the loaf pan and pat it down, and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds. We made diagonal cuts along the top of the dough as well for decoration.

Bake the bread for 40 minutes. The smell of the bread and the rosemary is going to make it hard to wait the full 40 minutes. But once the 40 minutes are up and the top of the bread is nice and golden, you’re in for more torture – you’ve got to let the bread cool. :) Pull the loaf pan out of the oven, place a cutting board on top and flip it over. The loaf should come out without much trouble. Now let it cool on a wire rack at least 10 minutes and try not to eat it whole. :)

Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread

Stretch Your Veggies!

January 15, 2010
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Homemade Veggie Stock

Tonight was the first time we made homemade veggie stock!

It’s so convenient to buy stock at the store, isn’t it? We love the little single-serve tetra packs… just grab one and you’re done, it’s about a cup of broth per pack which is what recipes typically call for so you don’t even have to worry about using up a half-used open veggie broth later in the week before it goes bad.

I have always felt a little bad though, using the pre-packaged veggie broths. Tetrapacks are made of composite materials making them trickier to recycle. Plus, it’s extra money.

What we’ve done over the past couple month is to save our food scraps – that last little bit from the end of a carrot or onion, or the dark green ends of leeks and scallions – and dump them in containers in the freezer. This week I noticed we had five containers full of scraps so I decided to try my hand at making some broth with them.

We started out with scraps from some of the following:

  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Bell Peppers
  • Kale Stalks

We stuck them in a stock pot, filled it almost to the very top with water, added some salt & pepper and a tablespoon of oil, and brought it to a boil. (It took a while in such a big stock pot!) Then, after it boiled, we simmered it for a good hour or so.

Homemade Veggie Stock

Next, I strained all the veggies out using my silicon strainer, and dumped them into a bowl.

In the spirit of using what you’ve got to its full extent, sustainability, and just plain hippy-ness, Ray took the strained scraps a stuck them in our bokashi to help make nutrient-rich soil for our garden. :)

Homemade Veggie Stock

I’m now letting the broth cool down. Once it’s cool, I’m going to pour some into ice cube trays so we’ll have convenient little cubes we can melt down as needed. Any excess that doesn’t fit in the trays I will pour into glass jars to also stick in the freezer.

This was so easy. I will probably not have to buy broth ever again. All it takes is a little discipline to wash your veggies really well and to save the scraps!

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