Monday, December 12, 2011

Favorite Sandwich Spread

This is really simple and really good. I have been making it for years.

1 can vegetarian refried beans
1 T veganaise
2-3 T ketchup
lots of chopped pickled jalapenos

Mix it all together. The amount of ketchup depends on the consistency you like.
That's it!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last Visit to My Favorite City (At Least For A While)

The day after Thanksgiving was 55 and sunny, so I thought it would be a good day to visit my favorite city for the last time before we move. Nothing specific to do, just visit our old house and favorite places in the neighborhood. I will miss it so much!

Winter sun and trees make a striking landscape. You can see the art museum behind the trees. The "wings" open up daily and have a 218 foot wingspan!

It seemed much colder here with the wind whipping off the lake!

Must climb trees! Hohn bridge in background.

Surfers in Lake Michigan in November!

St. Mary's and Water Tower. The old hospital on the right, with the new Columbia-St. Mary's behind it.

The pavilion at Bradford beach. This reminds me of the pavilions in South Beach, except they are not made of brick!

Looking north on Bradford Beach. No one wanted to walk with me. Look at those white caps!

We ate at the Comet Cafe on Farwell. Love this place - makes both me and the Carnivore happy. I had the seitan Philly steak with a vegan nacho cheese sauce. Why can't my seitan taste like that? No cardboard here. In the foreground is the mashed potatoes with beer gravy. Only in Milwaukee!

This was the only good thing at my Thanksgiving dinner. It is a cranberry marinated and pan fried tofu. For some reason none of the side dishes were good! Don't know why - I have made them all before.

Had these for dinner the other night. They are really tasty. No nasty soy after taste. Yes, I know they are processed, but I just don't always want to eat beans!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Message from a 7 Year Old

This was written by my daughter in school, without any prompting (or editing) from me:

"Please don't eat me for Thanksgiving dinner. I look better sitting at the table, not on it. I have a bad case of turkey pox and I will make you very sick. I'm too young to die. I'm a loving bird, not a meal. My meat's not ready yet. I'm so fat that I'll make you fat.

So you can see, I wouldn't be a good meal for Thanksgiving dinner."

Not sure where this came from - we don't talk much about things like this and we are an omnivorous household, with the extended family always making a huge deal about the turkey. Wow!

Also, they did an essay using the letters in "Thanksgiving" as the first letter of every sentence:

"G":  Giving thanks for what we eat. Making prayers for God.

"V": Vegetables all over the table. I love to eat with my family.

"I": Instead of turkey I eat cranberry sauce with my sisters.

"N": Now we're all happy together. We eat.

"G": Giving and doing good things is a good thing to do on Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, however you celebrate!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cheater Curry

Sautee in oil.

Add sauce and bring to simmer.
Add pressed, cubed tofu.

Add halved grape tomatoes. Simmer 15 minutes.

Add spinach, simmer 5 minutes.


Serve over brown rice.

Can you tell where I like to shop?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Beans for One

Here is something easy and delicious to add some protein to your dinner.

3 baby carrots, chopped
olive oil
2 T chopped onion
1/2 c pinto beans
1 T tomato paste
1 bay leaf
dash soy sauce
scant 1 T paprika

Sautee carrots in oil until browned. Add onion, sprinkle with salt, and cook until browned. Add beans, tomato paste, bay leaf, soy sauce and paprika. Add water just to cover beans. Smash some beans against the side of the pot so the liquid will thicken. Cook about 12 minutes more, till sauce is the thickness you like. Serve over pasta.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Banana Party

Those of you with young children are probably big fans of Elmo's World. This was the show that used to buy me yoga time when my kids were little. My 3 year old and baby would sit on my bed transfixed by the cute furry red monster (and I must admit how much I enjoy him myself, unlike that big purple guy). By the time the third baby came along, the oldest had outgrown Elmo and had control of the remote, so the youngest never really got a chance to enjoy him. Now she is seven, and she and her nine year old sister and their friends have rediscovered the old tapes (yes, tapes!). Their favorite is the banana episode, where they cook all things banana. We decided to recreate the all banana meal in our kitchen.

First up, banana smoothies. Just fresh and frozen bananas, vanilla extract, and vanilla Silk. Creamy and delicious!

Banana bean dip. Sauteed onions, garlic, pickled jalapenos, pinto beans, and banana chunks. This came from a banana cookbook (you knew I had one, didn't you?) It was great with corn chips. I was so happy that my two non-eaters loved this - they ate beans!

Banana soup from the same book. Bananas, habanero pepper sauce, broth, soy creamer, salt and pepper. This was Just okay. My middle girl (on of the non-eaters) actually ate some, and I was proud of her for being adventurous. I didn't like it that much myself, but it was something fun.

Banana chocolate chip bread from Vegan Diner. I subbed 1/4 cup lime juice for some of the soy milk and made a streusel crumb topping. Couldn't really taste the lime in the finished product  - maybe it would have worked better if I had used grated lime zest. No matter, still great. Very moist and cake like.

Side view.

Well, there was a big pile of dirty dishes, but worth it to have fun with my kids and have them try some things they wouldn't normally eat!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Stack

I have a habit of printing recipes off the internet and sticking them in the drawer. Many of them I have never (and will never) cook, but still I save them. For some reason, I just can't throw them away (kind of like how old magazines suddenly get really interesting when you are trying to get rid of them.) The stack also contains old family recipes scribbled on paper, and favorites cut out from magazines. I have to search through the stack whenever I want one of these treasures. It is actually fun (although time consuming) to do, because then I remember with fondness all my favorites!  Nowadays I just bookmark files on the internet - takes up much less room. But it is not quite as much fun!

This is one of my daughter's contributions to the stack. If all that was mixed together, it would indeed be an interesting concoction! I believe vacation milk refers to cow milk, which is what they usually call it (soy milk being just "milk.") Not sure why, because on vacations we still buy soy milk to go on our vacation cereal (Fruit Loops and Cocoa Puffs, which we are not allowed in real life!)

Anywho, this tomato recipe is what I was looking for in the stack. (You can also find it here -  a much easier way to find recipes.) It is a salad with two sesame dressings - one vinaigrette and one creamy. So delicious, you must make it!

Is there anything better than a tomato sandwich on whole wheat with veganaise? Won't be having these for a while now. Hoping Georgia has a longer tomato season that Illinois!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Does It Count?

This is one of my favorite soups. It has onion and celery sauteed in Earth Balance, white beans, broth (Better Than Bouillon No Chicken), lemon and orange juices. An unusual combination for sure, but so good.

This tofu was (I think) from Better Homes and Gardens new cookbook. Can't remember exactly as I returned it to the library. The tofu was marinated in a sauce of mint and cilantro. After grilling it was amazingly juicy (can tofu be juicy?) and flavorful! I will have to get that book out again and write it down this time!

Here is the 40 clove chickpeas and broccoli from Appetite for Reduction. Good but the broccoli was overdone. The recipe calls for roasting first, then adding broth and cooking another 15 minutes. I think next time I will take the broccoli out before adding the broth. Why, yes, that is ketchup on my pasta!

Here is the new label on the Junior Mints box. As you can see, the gelatin has been removed, as a reader previously reported. How about that line "milk and egg may be present?" Guess that is just a CYA line for allergy sufferers. Does it count?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On The Road Again....

Well, here we go again. After two years in Chicagoland, we are taking off for the Atlanta area! I have mixed feelings about this. My husband is really happy, so that is good. Kids are lukewarm, not so good. For me, I have been really happy here. It was easy to move here since I was already familiar with it and already had lots of friends here. I have never been to Atlanta and don't know anyone. So it will be a bit of a challenge. However - average temperature is 50 in January! And no snow to speak of. Today in Chicago it is a beautiful 68, and I can't help thinking it will be like that in March in Atlanta. And it's always exciting to try new restaurants, shopping, etc. But I will miss my friends, neighbors (who are also friends), yoga teacher, church, house dearly.

On to the food - more gluten free adventures. Here is a stew from the book Gluten Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook by Leslie Cerier. This book is really interesting to me because it focuses on whole foods and of course is vegetarian (mostly vegan). Most of the gluten free cookbooks focus on combining different flours and gums to approximate the wheat based cooking we are all used to (or they focus on meat). This stew had cabbage, tomatoes, parsnips, and other veggies in a peanut butter broth. Yummy.

The next recipe is from Carol Fenster's 125 Vegetarian Gluten Free Recipes. The burrito filling is made of marinated mushrooms, black beans, spinach, onions, etc. The sauce is green chile based and brothy.  Different than a green salsa. I liked it. This book is also mostly vegan, and references vegan products with dairy alternatives. I will be trying more recipes from these books in the future.

Well, now I will be cooking out of my pantry and freezer to try and empty them by the time we move. Isn't it amazing what accumulates in there? So my cooking will either be very boring or very creative!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sushi Success and Edamame Mustaches

My oldest daughter really loves Japanese food. Last year for her 11th birthday we took her and her friends to a hibachi style Japanese restaurant. This year she wanted sushi, so we decided to have a party at home. This gorgeous sushi platter was made for us by a local Japanese restaurant. It was so delicious and fresh. I had never been to this restaurant before, but I picked it because it had so many vegan rolls on the menu. Great choice!

I made the rest of the meal myself. Edamame, salad with "Japanese restaurant" dressing, and garlic noodles! This summer on our annual Lake George trip, we ate at our favorite Japanese restaurant (and the only good restaurant in Lake George). It is actually a Chinese and Japanese restaurant, and I usually order Szechuan tofu there. This year we went with friends, and they wanted to sit on the hibachi grill side. They made these garlic noodles on the grill that my daughter could not get enough of. They are made of spaghetti, tons of garlic, butter (Earth Balance), soy sauce, and brown sugar. So simple and so delicious! It cracks me up to see the big gobs of butter they put on everything at hibachi restaurants. Do the real Japanese even use butter at all?

Here is the salad dressing made from this recipe. I substituted carrot for the celery. I think it really tasted like the dressing at the Japanese restaurants! I have tried many times to duplicate it and this is the closest I have come.

That is the birthday girl with the edamame mustache.

Of course the little girls only ate the noodles.

Except for this one....she eats everything I give her. It is a pleasure to have her over for dinner!

Because we are an omnivorous household, my husband grilled some chicken, thinking most of the girls would not eat sushi. I was so pleased that the chicken went almost untouched - only one girl had any! And yet the vegan seaweedy sushi was devoured. A great party all around!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mom's Special Cereal

 Doesn't my pantry look like Seinfeld's? We always have at least 5 or 6 cereal boxes open at the same time. This drives me crazy - hate stale cereal.

This one is what my daughter calls "Mom's Special Cereal." We used to be able to get a cereal called "Familia." It was raw oats, nuts and dried fruit. Not sure you can even get it anymore, and it was super expensive. So here is my own version. I have been making it for years and it never gets old!

Mom's Special Cereal

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (you can mix in other rolled cereals for variety)
1/2 c sunflower seeds, chopped
1/2 c almonds, chopped
2 cups dried fruit, chopped (have at least some tart fruit like cranberries or cherries. A bag of mixed chopped dried fruit works nicely and is super easy.)
2 t cinnamon
3 t vanilla extract
1 t almond extract

Mix together the oats, nuts and fruit. Sprinkle the cinnamon and extracts over the top and mix well. Cover and wait a day before eating (to let everything get scented with the cinnamon and extracts). Pour milk of your choice (I prefer vanilla Silk) over cereal 5 minutes before eating so the cereal gets soft. 

No sugar needed!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Gluten Free Adventures

Once again I am trying to be gluten free for a while to ease my achy joints. It annoys me to be so creaky at this age - thought I had at least another ten years before that. It has been a week, and I must admit i do feel better. An interesting side benefit is that I am not even thinking about candy. I know I have mentioned what a sugar junkie I am - mostly candy and cookies. When I try to quit sugar, I always crave it. But I am not really trying to quit sugar, just gluten. And I haven't thought about candy once! Also, I do have a marked increase in energy. I have never been an energetic person. Usually I get really tired around 3 pm, and also around 9 pm. Not having those energy slumps at all this week. Don't know how long I'll be able to keep this up. It's easy at home, but really hard on the outside. I am grateful that I do not have celiac, where even a trace of gluten is dangerous to your health!

Although of course it is better to concentrate on whole foods, I wanted to try some gluten free pasta. This is a famous one, and it is pretty good. A bit too much of an aftertaste to eat plain, but it is good mixed with sauce and veggies.

Tomato rice soup with the last of the basil from my yard.

The kid who won't eat anything loves kale chips!

I am grateful to Trader Joe's who makes specialty products that are affordable. This bread is too heavy for a sandwich, but makes good toast!

Oats are naturally gluten free, but most commercial products have cross contamination from wheat (both from processing and from wheat fields grown close to oats). Trader Joe's gluten free oats are $3.99. Similar product in Whole Foods was $7.99!

I mentioned the Paula Reds last fall. They are only available for 3 weeks in September. At my old house I used to drive out to a farm a half hour away just to get them. Here I found them in my local grocery store!

Gratuitous dog shot. Their hair is finally growing back in. I think this is a good look for them!