Monday, February 26, 2007

Spinach Quiche (Rating = meh)

Saturday night, I made a tofu spinach mushroom quiche from a recipe out of Peter Berley's book, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. I have never made anything out of this book that I didn't like. But, this time I did. I actually loved the crust on this pie, which was made from whole wheat flour, toasted oatmeal, and toasted sesame seeds, but the filling was bland. It really needed something, but I couldn't figure out what - maybe a lot of black pepper would have done it. I'll definitely need to make up something to go with this crust. The crust is a keeper.

Here is are some pictures of the quiche (paprika on the top):


I served it with a baby arugula & romaine salad with dried cranberries and toasted sunflower seeds along with the rest of the cooking wine:


I do still recommend this book even though I didn't like this one particular recipe. It is not 100% vegan, but it is probably about 95% vegan. Any recipes that call for cheese in this book, call for it optionally.

Feeding children who don't eat vegetables

I don't have children and I don't have to deal with this kind of thing very often but, my 12 year old niece, C, is coming to visit this weekend for a long weekend. We are taking her to Maine to learn to ski. Mike emailed her to find out what kinds of foods she won't eat and she replied that she eats pretty much anything but vegetables. Well, um, this is definitely going to be a problem. Furthermore, her mother emailed and let us know that she is not a big eater and that she likes to eat pasta. This honestly just made me sad. To go on a bit of a holier-than-thou-I-don't-know-anything-about-kids kind of tangent...

I tend to think that kids/adults who tell me that they don't like vegetables haven't been exposed to any "real" vegetables. Let me explain the "real" part of that sentence. I grew up in the south where vegetables are an accessory to the meat on the plate and they are generally waaayyyy overcooked. The kind of vegetables I was exposed to as a kid (and was pretty standard fare for this part of the country) included canned peas, canned corn, corn on the cob, tomatoes, fried okra, overcooked green beans, really overcooked broccoli (I'm taking at least 20 mintues here), over cooked asparagus, carrots (candied of course), and mashed potatoes. Oh, and the overcooked broccoli usually came with some melted velveeta. I can see why I thought I didn't like vegetables.

Back to the subject at hand. What the heck am I going to feed my neice? I pulled out my Vegan Lunch Box cookbook to see how I could get her to eat some veggies. I decided that one night we would have "Sneaky Momma's Tomato Sauce" with spaghetti, roasted vegetables (butternut squash perhaps), and, optionally for C, some lentil rice balls. For the other night I am making Chili with lots of beans and veggies and TVP. I am going to make the Chili and Spaghetti Sauce ahead of time to hide any ingredients that she might find scary or unfamiliar (like TVP).

I haven't made the Chili yet, but I did make the sauce this weekend and freeze it. Here are some pics of all the veggies that went into the sauce (with the exception of a couple of big cans of tomatoes). The big green piles are Kale and Basil.

Sneaky Momma's Tomato Sauce Prep

And a close up of the other pile, which has shredded carrots, parsley, and red bell peppers:

Sneaky Momma's Tomato Sauce Prep

And here is the finished product (and it tastes really good too):

Sneaky Momma's Tomato Sauce
No veggies in sight!

Hopefully this devious veggie hiding plan will work. Now I just have to figure out how to entertain a 12 year old!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Chocolate Cupcakes take over the World

Chocolate Cupcake

Another cupcake from Isa's cookbook. I made this batch of chocolate chocolate cupcakes to take over to a friends house for dinner tomorrow night.

PS. The chocolate frosting swirled on top looks a bit like a pile of poo. :o

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Dinner in a pinch - Lentil stew

Tonight we were SUPPOSED to have baked tofu coated with herbs, nutritional yeast and cornflakes served with mashed potatoes and steamed kale. We got ready to press the tofu and realized the neither of us picked it up at the grocery yesterday. And, since we were standing in the kitchen in our pajamas, neither of us wanted to go to the store. So, we improvised. We made a lentil stew with kale and served it over mashed potatoes. I always have bags of lentils in the pantry. It came out really well. I didn't measure anything, but it would be hard to screw it up, so here you go:

2 Tbs Olive oil
1.5 - 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced (or 1 russet)
2 carrots, sliced (You can also add celery with the carrots if you have it)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/4-1/2 cup white wine, or red wine
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 lb Lentils du Puy, brown lentils, or green lentils (NOT red lentils), sorted, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
~2 cups water
1 bunch kale, chopped
2 Tbs shoyu, or soy sauce
pepper to taste
salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat. Add potatoes, carrots, garlic, onion to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will probably stick a little bit. After about 5 minutes, deglaze the pot with wine. Add stock, lentils, and enough water to cover, plus about another 1/2 inch. Add the dried herbs, crumbling the thyme between your fingers as you add it to the pot. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer about 25-30 minutes, partially covered. Stir occasionally and check to ensure there is enough water. When the lentils taste like the are almost done (tender), add the chopped kale. Cook for about 15 minutes. Add shoyu, and pepper. Add salt if necessary. Serve over brown rice or mashed potatoes.

Note that the time will vary slightly depending on which type of lentils you use (check the cooking times on the package). I used the lentils du puy.

S'mores cupcakes take over the world

S'mores cupcakes from the cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:

S'mores Vegan Cupcakes

S'mores Vegan Cupcakes

Do as much as you can and push that edge every day (the incremental approach)

I thought I should share more about how I went vegan. I don't think I have talked about that much here. So, here is my story...

My husband, Mike, and I had been vegetarian off and on over the course of our marriage. We went vegetarian when we lived in Charleston, SC about 13 years ago-ish. We did this for a variety of reasons, but over time got comfortable and forgot why we had gone vegetarian in the first place. We didn't take the time to remind ourselves. We made a bad decision and went back to eating meat after about 6 years of being vegetarian. We ate meat for a few years after that, but realized that we had this lingering guilt floating around us. We decided that we needed to live by our morals and go back to being vegetarian. We did not want to kill or cause suffering to any other living creatures. It took me a while to transition back over. I went pescotarian and continued to eat fish for a while. One day I was watching Iron Chef USA on TV and the ingredient was some kind of fish. They took living fish out of tanks of water at gutted them alive. I was horrified. That was the day I made the full transition back to vegetarianism. I never planned to go vegan. I thought that was way to extreme, too difficult, and thought that vegans were crazy people.

I thought that I was no longer causing harm to other animals. I started reading articles and listening to the Vegan Freak podcast. I thought I would enjoy the podcast as a vegetarian. At first I resented the pressure I felt from the podcast (and other things I was reading) to go vegan. But the more I listened, the more I learned about the suffering of animals used to produce our food, including milk and dairy, and I learned that animals are still killed for me even though I was not eating meat (see previous posts on milk and eggs). I decided that I wasn't going to go vegan, but that I would do my best to reaplace these things when possible. I learned to bake without eggs (I make mean muffins and cupcakes!) and replaced milk in recipes with soy milk. Each day I realized that I could do a little more. After a few months of this thought process, the only animal products I still consumed consisted of cream in my coffee, cheese, and hidden ingredients (since I didn't read labels to check for milk or eggs). I found Silk creamer and got rid of the cream in my coffee too.

One day I was listening to the Vegan Freak podcast and Bob challenged people to try going vegan for 3 weeks. I decided to do this. At first I didn't even tell Mike. I was just doing it on the sly. I didn't plan any meals that week that contained animal products. I finally told him that I was only "trying" it for 3 weeks. I had previously promised not to go vegan because Mike also saw it as difficult and too extreme. He was a little irritated with me because we both knew that I wouldn't go backwards. I knew after about 1 day of being vegan that I was going to stay that way. Mike eventually came around too a couple of months later.

It really was easy. The food tastes good. It is not any more expensive that being vegetarian or eating meat (probably cheaper). The only thing hard about being vegan is dealing with other people. People ask so many questions and some make fun. I have a co-worker that irritates my by bringing it up every day at lunch. It can be difficult to eat out. But all of that is really not a problem because if you believe that we shouldn't be using sentient beings for our own ends (eating them because they taste good) then you really have to live by that and go vegan.