Monday, September 29, 2008

The "Meat" Loaf Chronicles

Once upon a time, when I was a lacto-ovo veg, one of my favorite meals was a lentil loaf from a book called "The Gradual Vegetarian." I had always enjoyed meat loaf as a child, and this was a really good substitute. Unfortunately, it has an egg and 1/2 lb. of cheddar cheese in it. Then I wanted to give up eggs, so I eliminated the egg from the recipe. Still tasty, but the wrong texture (who would think one egg would make that much difference?) Then I found Amy's frozen vegan lentil loaf - really good (that yummy tomatoey gravy!) and so convenient, but at $5 for one serving, too pricey for this family of five. This weekend, inspired by River's meat cakes and Tracy's Salisbury Steak (for the gravy), I tried a vegan version. I looked up a bunch of recipes on the web, but nothing seemed right. So as usual, I combined a bunch of recipes to make up my own. Usually this works well, but not this time! I mixed up lentils, brown rice, cooked mushrooms, and soft bread crumbs with seasonings. The taste was ok, but the texture was all wrong. The lentils were too mushy - the overall effect was grainy paste. Maybe the bread crumbs were wrong? The loaf did hold together well, surprisingly. The gravy did not thicken at all (I sometimes have this problem with corn starch thickened sauces) and was too salty from the broth powder I used. Two of three children refused to even try it. Sigh. Does anyone have a good recipe to share?(Those are roasted parsnips on the side - at tleast they were good).

So what's a girl to do? Make scones! Yes, orange chocolate chip again. Nice rainy Saturday breakfast.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Easy Supper Idea

One of my favorite cookbooks is Nava Atlas's Vegetarian 5 Ingredient Gourmet. While not exclusively vegan, most recipes are either vegan or easily made vegan. The recipes are delicious and easy, and there are suggested menus for most of them. I turn to this book frequently for both family meals and entertaining.

My favorite easy meal from this book is black beans with garlic and lemon. That's basically all that is in them (well, olive oil, water, s & p). I have tried adding other things, but the simplest way is the best. With microwaved sweet potatoes (with Earth Balance and Frank's hot sauce), fresh guacomole, and a green salad, dinner is on the table in 15 minutes!
(No picture needed - we all know what black bean soup looks like!)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Last of the Pasta

Well, the Carnivore ran his race on Saturday morning. It was a 10K and he ran it in 50 minutes and 28 seconds. I thought that was pretty impressive for a 48 year old guy who runs 2 miles on his regular run (it would probably take me an hour and a half).

Anyway, Friday night was the last of the pasta nights. I must say, I do not love pasta like I used to. It makes me feel kind of clogged - I guess it doesn't translate to "paste" for nothing! At least the sauce was outstanding - Vegan Yum Yum's Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta. Make this before your garden gives out! It was very tasty and easily made while the pasta is cooking. Only maybe next time I will serve it over brown rice!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Finally, a New Post!

We have not been eating anything blogworthy lately due to settling into the new school year - homework, girl scouts, band practice, meeting the teachers, etc. I don't remember it being so complicated when I was 9. I certainly didn't have the homework that my kids have - I have trouble myself with some of the 4th grade vocabulary words!
We are having lots of pasta this week due to the Carnivore running a race on Saturday. That's something he normally won't eat, so the rest of us are really enjoying ourselves. Of course, the Carnivore eats his with ketchup and has taught the children to do the same. A self-respecting Italian girl like myself needs a little something more!

Last night's pasta was Italian style, but tonight I went with Asian flavorings. I whipped this up from pantry and produce staples - it is basic but pretty tasty for something made on the fly while the spaghetti was cooking.

Easy Spaghetti and Peanut Sauce

2 T peanut butter

1 T hoisin sauce

1 T soy sauce

1 T sherry

1 clove minced garlic

1 t ginger (I used the jarred from Trader Joe)

4 T hot water (from the spaghetti pot)

Mix all together and pour over 1/2 lb. spaghetti. Throw on some chopped veggies (here, carrot, cucumber and scallions) and toasted sesame seeds. The sauce will taste salty by itself but goes well with the bland spaghetti.

Served with cabbage salad - cabbage, carrots and scallions with Japanese-style dressing from my local produce market.

And teriyaki eggplant - sliced and baked with teriyaki sauce, sugar and toasted sesame oil. (Put the sauce on toward the end and only on top - I put it on both sides and it burned!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Breakfast Beans

When I first became a vegetarian, veg cookbooks were few and far between. A classic was Laurel's Kitchen. I pretty much had all those early books memorized, and this was no exception. I remember in their bean section they talked about eating beans for breakfast, and had several recipes that were a mix of different kinds of beans. The idea was to cook them in a crockpot so they would be ready for breakfast. Since I am trying to eat more beans, and no one else in my family will eat them, it seemed like a good idea to try fitting them in at breakfast.

Back in the days before children, we were adventurous vacationers and would just book plane tickets and a rental car, then see where we ended up. On a trip to New Mexico, we discovered after talking to a fellow passenger that they were in the middle of their famous balloon festival. An hour after the plane landed, we were sitting in the middle of a dirt field surrounded by magnificent hot air ballons! Those were some fun times, and we saw lots of things we probably wouldn't have had we had a planned itinerary. Anyway, the food of New Mexico is fabulous and different from Mexican food.This recipe is from book called "The Feast of Santa Fe." I believe it is out of print now. Although not vegetarian, I have always loved this book for its authentic New Mexican recipes. I always make these beans in the crockpot - somehow they are not the same on top of the stove. And they do indeed make fine breakfast fare!

Frijoles de Olla

2 c dried pinto beans (1 lb.)

water to cover

1 small onion, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 t whole cumin seed (I use powder)

1/2 t cracked pepper

1/2 t oregano

1 t salt

(original had 4 slices salt pork, which I obviously leave out)

Soak beans in water to cover for 8 hours. Drain and cover with fresh water by 2 inches. Add all else except salt. Cook until tender (overnight in crock pot, a couple of hours on the stove); add salt (I find it needs more than 1 t). Mash some beans against the side of the pot and cook until liquid is thickened to your liking. Serve with green chili relish and warm flour tortillas.

Green Chili Relish

1 small can roasted green chilies

1 t chopped jalapenos (fresh or canned), or more if you like it spicy

1 glove garlic, pressed


pinch of coriander

Mash all together.