Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sweet holiday treats

Happy holidays!

Last night I went to a cookie party and brought these sparkly ginger cookies, using a recipe from "Vegan With a Vengeance." The dough is made with extra ginger, cinnamon and ground clove, so it tastes exactly like a winter night in front of the fireplace.

For other holiday parties (and gifts for the neighbors), I made candy-cane fudge. The recipe is an adaptation of the five-minute fudge in "My Sweet Vegan." (Check out the recipe here.)

The fudge is completely non-dairy but has a coconut milk base, so it has a really intense, rich flavor. And don't worry, haters, you can't even taste the coconut in there.

I have a bunch of other food to post soon, but I'm about to leave for a Wild West road trip to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam and so on. We're supposed to leave in an hour and I haven't showered or packed yet, so The Boyfriend is getting antsy.

Much more vegan food when I return! Plus road trip food!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rosemary garlic crackers

I never imagined it was possible to make crackers at home.

I guess I thought crackers were just something that always existed, like God or trees or something.

Well, that all changed when I became inspired by Julie Hasson's wonderful Everyday Dish blog, and I've been making my own crackers ever since. I tend to stick to her recipe, since it's so easy and good, but sometimes I go crazy and toss in some sundried tomatoes, olive pieces or curry powder.

This recipe has especially come in handy since I've been recovering from surgery. I've been sucking down soup like it's air, and of course nothing goes with soup like hearty, aromatic, homemade crackers.

Try them:

Julie's Rosemary Garlic Crackers
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp granulated garlic
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper, optional (but good!)
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt crystals, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. In a bowl, mix together the flours, nutritional yeast flakes, baking powder, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the water and oil, stirring until dough comes together. If dough is too dry to mix, add another tablespoon of water or as needed. Divide dough in half.
3. Roll the dough out very thin. If you have a small little rolling pin, simply roll the dough right out in your pan. Transfer the dough to a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Score the dough into squares so that it's cut, but not separated into pieces. If desired, sprinkle a little coarse salt over the tops of the crackers and lightly press into dough with the rolling pin. Repeat with second piece of dough.
4. Bake crackers in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden and crackers look crisp. Let crackers cool in pan before removing. They will crisp up as they cool. If crackers are still a little soft, place bake in oven and bake for another five or so minutes until crisp.

Copyright © 2008 Julie Hasson

As Julie says in her blog, once you go homemade you'll never go back.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bone marrow donation = success!

The bone marrow surgery went quickly and smoothly.

All I remember being wheeled into the operating room and staring at the big lights above me ... the rest is blackness. Suddenly I was shaken awake by some cute guy named Cody. He held my hand and talked to me about Santa Fe in the post-op room.

The nurses kept trying to give me chicken broth or some kind of creamy soup. But even though my lips were chapped and my throat was raw, I summoned up enough energy to hiss, "COFFEE."

Later, when they insisted I consume something other than coffee, I tried my best to explain that I'm vegan, I don't eat animal products and ... well, who knows what I said? I was on tons of painkillers. Luckily, I brought my own food -- a package of Imagine organic broccoli soup.

I was eventually allowed to order anything I wanted off the hospital menu, which had a surprisingly good variety. I got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat, a cup of veggie soup and fresh fruit.

Now I'm at home, minus 1.3 liters of bone marrow. I'm in pain, but it's not unbearable.

I'm trying to send all my good, healing energy to the woman who needed this donation -- hopefully she's reaping the benefits of my super awesome marrow, which was given with love.

The best part of recovery is that all my friends have been stopping by to bring me vegan goodies: Homemade potato leek soup by Judi, spicy hummus from Maria, soy ice cream from Deborah, Native Foods' sandwiches from Eileen ... and so much more. I am one lucky girl.

I also prepared for the surgery by making a couple pots of soup ahead of time. The chickpea noodle soup from Veganomicon is the classic "sick" soup, and I tore through that my first couple days of recovery.

Now I'm working on eating the roasted squash soup I froze last week. I'm calling it Dog Park Soup, because I invented it after a trip to the dog park with the new puppy.

Here's what's in it:

Olive oil
One onion, diced
One roasted butternut squash, cut into chunks
One potato, diced
Two medium carrots, diced
One Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and diced
Two chipotles, chopped finely (Or just one, if you don't want a ton of heat)
One can black beans, rinsed and drained
Big dash cumin
Cayenne (to taste)
Cinnamon (to taste)
Vegetable broth

First I cooked the onion in the olive oil until softened. I added a few cups of vegetable broth to the soup pot (you can add more or less, depending on how "soupy" you want it).

Bring the broth to a boil, then toss all the big stuff in together -- the black beans, the squash, carrots, potato, apple, chipotles -- and let it boil for a while. You'll know it's ready when the squash cooks down and almost melts into a creamy base.

Now add the spices. I added a big dash of cumin, because everything tastes better with cumin. I used just a teensy bit of cayenne, for the kind of heat that sneaks up on you. And even the tiniest bit of cinnamon will bring out the sweetness of the squash against the earthiness of the beans and potatoes. Don't forget salt.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ironing things out

Long story short: In about a week I'm donating my bone marrow to a stranger. All I know about the lady is that she's 59 years old and has leukemia. A bone marrow transplant is her last hope.

For obvious reasons, the bone marrow donor (i.e. me) needs to be extra healthy. And so I had a day-long physical at City of Hope cancer center to make sure I'm a good match for this woman.

Four chest X-rays, a dozen vials of blood, a long meeting with a transplant coordinator, two health surveys, two meetings with surgeons and one cup of pee later, I was officially declared healthy. All my levels of everything are precisely where they should be. Yay!

Here's the thing, though. After the surgeons extract the bone marrow, my hemoglobin will drop dramatically. So much so that I'll probably need a blood transfusion. (That's why I've been donating pints of blood the past couple weeks for my own transfusion. Weird, huh?)

And even though my iron levels are really good right now, I need to have even more iron than usual before going into the surgery.

So what does this have to do with the beets in the picture?

Plenty. Beets are super high in iron. So are dark, leafy greens. Combine the two, and now you understand why I've been eating beet salads every day for the past week.

I've also been integrating other great sources of iron into my diet: Lentils, tofu, blackstrap molasses and lots and lots of beans.

Keep your fingers crossed that everything goes well for the transplant next week! I've never had a surgery before, so I'm nervous -- but I'm even more concerned about the lady who is receiving the marrow. I really hope my donation will help her get better.

Pumpkin soup

I had such high hopes for this pumpkin soup.

First, I scooped out all the guts (and saved the seeds to roast later, of course), I rubbed fresh sage and olive oil all over the inside, then filled the pumpkin with a mixture of soy milk and veggie broth.

After it cooked, the pumpkin flesh was soft enough that I could just stir, and everything transformed into a thick and creamy soup.

And it tasted like baby food.

I'm determined to make this work, though. I went to the pumpkin patch with Abby and picked up three more pumpkins -- a big orange fatty, a small white one and some squatty thing. I'm going to keep making pumpkin soup until I get it right.

Suggestions are welcome, by the way.

Tortillas from scratch

I screwed up.

I made homemade tortillas, which were ridiculously quick and easy. And now I've ruined myself for good -- I can never have store-bought tortillas again. (Not even the good ones from the tortilleria at the Mexican grocery.) Never ever.

Looky here. You just make balls of soft dough ...

... roll them out into thin rounds and cook for a few seconds on each side ...

... and serve, preferably with charo beans, fresh tomatoes and olives.

Try it at home! Here's the recipe.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Salt and Pepa Tofu

I don't know about you guys, but I lately I'm having more and more of those weeks where time escapes me. Suddenly I look in the fridge only to find I haven't been to the grocery store in a week ... maybe two? And by the time I realize my error, I'm too hungry and tired to leave the house again.

So I was cringing at the thought of yet another meal of Larabars, beans and red wine, when I located a block of vacuum-packed tofu in the pantry. Then I remembered the PPK recipe for salt and pepper tofu -- the list of ingredients doesn't go far beyond salt, pepper and um, tofu.

I had all that on hand! Dinner was saved!

Here's the recipe. It serves four regular people, or two vegans. I recommend listening to Salt & Pepa while you prepare it.

Crispy Chinese Salt and Pepper Tofu
Cooking time: 40 minutes

This crispy fried tofu features the simple yet stunning flavor combination of red pepper, black pepper and salt that usually reserved just for seafood in Chinese cuisine. While it’s fried this recipe still uses far less oil than its more traditional counterparts and far less than anything you’ll ever encounter in a restaurant.

For the tofu:
1 lb firm tofu, drained
1 tablespoons dry sherry or rice wine
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons corn starch
3-4 tablespoons of peanut oil for frying

For the stir-fry:
1 tablespoon peanut oil, optional
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ inch cube ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon or to taste red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, such as kosher salt
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Press the tofu first: slice tofu into ½ thick slices and layer between sheets clean dish towels or paper towels. Lay on a cutting board and weigh down with another cutting board or other heavy items. For best results place entire assembly in a sink and allow liquid to drain from tofu for 20 minutes. When ready, gently separate tofu from towels and cut into ½ inch cubes.

In a medium bowl combine sherry and soy sauce. Add cubed tofu and toss to combine. Set tofu aside for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When ready to fry tofu, heat peanut oil over medium-high in a large, heavy skillet or wok. Sift cornstarch into a shallow bowl. Drain tofu from marinade, shake off any excess liquid and roll tofu into cornstarch. Using a slotted spatula, carefully lower tofu into oil and be carefully of splattering. Fry tofu for 3-4 minutes, not stirring to allow it brown on one side, then carefully turn cubes and fry for an additional 3-4 minutes on the other side to brown. Turn and fry cubes an additional 1-2 times to brown sides, if necessary. Remove browned tofu from pan and place in a large dish or bowl. Remove skillet from heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Drain or wipe away any excess oil or browned bits.

Pour 1 tablespoon peanut oil into skillet and heat to medium high. Add garlic and ginger, stirring quickly for 30 seconds till sizzling and fragrant. Add red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt and tofu and fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly and gently breaking up any chunks of tofu that stick together. Remove from heat, sprinkle with rice vinegar and scallions and move to a serving platter.

New place in town!

I am a lucky, lucky girl.

I live just around the corner from the luscious, vegantastic Native Foods. Plus, just a wee bit down the road from that is the newly reopened Nature's Cafe, featuring a menu loaded with vegan goodies.

And now, less than a mile from my house is ANOTHER vegetarian restaurant, Palm Greens Cafe.

It's a really casual joint, serving fresh juices, wraps, sandwiches, salads and fresh baked goods. They do breakfast and lunch, and the place is simple but cute and clean.

This Cockadoodle Sandwich is my favorite thing so far. It's zippy and flavorful -- a far cry from the bland fake egg salads I've had from other places.

The Venus Wrap was also good. Just not as good as the sammich.

If you're in Southern California, please support this new business!

They are located in the same plaza as Palm Springs Cyclery and Revivals, 611 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. Call for more info: 760-864-9900.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lentil Soup: Two ways

First, I made red lentil soup. Unfortunately (or fortunately, rather), it was so yummy I didn't take a photo before scarfing it down.

To make this, you will need:

1 onion, diced
Olive oil
1 cip split red lentils
4 cups water
1 carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 medium potato, diced into small pieces (optional)
Salt, pepper
1-2 teaspoons cumin (optional)
Turmeric to taste (optional)

Warm the olive oil in your soup pot. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add lentils, water, carrots, celery and potato (if using). Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked.

Add the other ingredients -- lemon, salt, pepper, etc. -- until the flavor is to your liking, then simmer for another 5 minutes. Most of the time I prefer a couple teaspoons of cumin and lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice. If I'm starting to feel ill, I'll add grated ginger. If I'm in the mood for zest, I add some chili and curry spices. Sometimes I add some coconut milk to make it super creamy. (In other words, add whatever you want. It's very difficult to screw up this recipe.)

With the leftovers, I did this:

Red lentil patty

I added matzoh meal to thicken the soup until it was firm enough to form into patties. (You could also use breadcrumbs if you don't have matzoh.) Then pan fry them in a little olive oil until cooked through and golden brown.

Midwestern meal

I wanted to make the kind of dinner I grew up eating in Dayton, Ohio -- except veganized and all organic, of course.

So last night's meal was tofu "fish sticks," tater tots and sweet peas.

Tofu "fish" sticks

As soon as Jason took a bite, he began to laugh.

"What's so funny?" I said.

"I don't know how you do it, but these are 100 times better than fish sticks."

They were.

I used this recipe from Vegan Lunchbox. I skipped the step where it said to put all the ingredients for the coating in a blender, since I was already using almond meal and not almond slices. I also had a little bit of trouble finding kelp granules; it turns out they are stocked in the spice section at the health food store, not the seaweed section.

Jason specifically requested sweet peas from a can, so I was finally able to use up that one can of peas that has been lurking in the pantry forever.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In a hurry curry

It didn't take long to pull together this green curry, loosely based on this recipe.

Green curry

My fridge is low on fresh veggies right now, so I didn't have exactly what the recipe called for. Instead, I used baked Thai tofu, broccoli, green peppers and tons of mushrooms.

It was a satisfying dinner ... but I'm really looking forward to the leftovers for lunch.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Black beans and guac

Even though I was lucky enough to eat some wonderful meals while traveling, I couldn't wait to get home and return to my kitchen. It does my stomach good as much good as my heart. Plus, I had these black beans I needed to cook.

See, my friend Abby has been raving about a particular dried black bean for months now. She purchases them from a tiny little fruit stand somewhere in the wilderness between L.A. and Palm Springs, just off the highway. A couple weeks ago I finally stopped there and picked up a bag, even though I didn't have a chance to make them before I skipped town.

During my whole trip, I daydreamed about those black beans. I'm not even kidding. Everyone else in the world dreams up all kinds of pervvy stuff, and I sit around fantasizing about legumes.

So it wasn't more than an hour after my plane landed that I grabbed my dried beans and wooden spoon and got to work.

I asked Abby how her family prepares their black beans, and she replied with a text message:

"Boil cup of rinsed beans. No soak. In water with half an onion, half a green pepper, 1 bay leaf, salt and a lot of garlic. Like five cloves. Should simmer semi-covered for 1.5-2 hours."

I diced the onion and green pepper, because that's how I interpreted the message. Turns out that's not how Abby does it -- she puts the halves of onion and pepper in the pot, then removes them when the beans are done -- but it didn't matter. These were so, so good. I'm never going to soak and boil my beans again.

We also had avocados at the perfect ripe stage, so I served the beans on mini corn tortillas with an ample spoonful of guacamole.

Black bean tostadas

Oh, I also had a couple purple tomatillos laying around, and I didn't know what to do with them. I didn't have enough to do a purple twist on salsa verde, so I just smooshed them into my next batch of guac. They were mellow in flavor, with only the slightest tang, so it was a nice accessory for the avocado. Aren't they pretty?


Road food: On the go

It feels like I've been traveling a lot lately. And when I'm not traveling, I've been going out with friends and celebrating my birthday ... and not spending a lot of time in my own kitchen.

The good news is that I've sampled a lot of great vegan food all over the place. Not all salads either!

Here's a sample.

From The Spot in Hermosa Beach, once Paul and Linda McCartney's favorite hangout:

Burrito baby

This was black beans, tofu, collard greens and steamed veggies, all topped with the restaurant's signature savory sauce:

Beans and savory sauce

This was a roasted veggie pizza during a random dinner in Dayton, Ohio:

Vegan pizza

Here's the very best veggie burger I've ever tasted -- from the Northstar Cafe in Columbus, Ohio:

Veggie burger

The spicy vegan burrito at Casa Nueva in Athens, Ohio. Nearly everything on the plate is from local organic farmers. (The crappy lighting doesn't really do this dish justice):

Casa scramble

Casa is an old favorite hangout from my college days, so my friends and I returned for brunch the next day too. Here's the vegan breakfast scramble:

Casa vegan burrito

Vegan garlic breadsticks, plus spicy marinara dipping sauce, from Avalanche Pizza in Athens, Ohio:


The "I Was a Teenage Vegan Werewolf" pizza from Avalanche in Athens:

Avalanche vegan pizza


And finally, a truly awesome 3 a.m. red bean burrito from Burrito Buggy in Athens, another favorite from when I was in college:

Burrito Buggy


I swear, I really do eat more than burritos and pizza, even though there's plenty of photographic evidence to the contrary ...

Friday, July 25, 2008

I got served

Jason has returned from vacation, and he made me dinner the other night -- the same sweet chili lime tofu he made for his family.

It was loverly.

Chili lime tofu

Trust me when I say that the chili lime glaze was magical.

A couple hours after the meal, Jason saw me eyeing the dirty cast iron skillet.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I meant to clean that right away ..."

"That's not it," I said. "I was just thinking about lifting the pan to my face and licking off the rest of the glaze."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A 'Vegan de Guadalupe' day

I stayed in bed most of the morning (and afternoon) with a ridiculously bad hangover, which is so lame at my age.

When I finally downed some coffee and Excedrin, I needed something easy, comforting and nutritious to fill my belly. It seemed like a perfect time to break out this Vegan de Guadalupe cookzine, a fun bilingual recipe book that is chock full of Mexican fare.

Vegan de Guadalupe

(Aside: How darling is that cover? I desperately want a tattoo of it. Maybe for my first veganversary.)

First I made the Sopa de Fideo, a quick and flavorful noodle soup. The original recipe didn't call for tomatoes, but I'm a weirdo who craves diced tomatoes when I'm hungover, so ...

Sopa de Fideo

For dinner I made Calabacitas Guisadas using some amazingly flavorful squash from my organic CSA share. With corn and zucchini in a tangy tomato sauce, this tastes exactly like summer. I also tossed in some chickpeas that were looking for a good home.

Calabacitas Guisadas

Jason can cook

Years ago, on one of my first dates with Jason, he cooked dinner for me. He was under the (incorrect) impression that any food could be improved by generous amounts of curry powder. So that night we dined on curry fish with curry rice and curry green beans.

That's the last time I let him in the kitchen.

I mean, he's not like some Al Bundy who sits on the couch with a beer and expects me to feed him. He can follow a recipe, and he's always willing to be my personal sous chef. But he asks too many questions and can never find stuff in the pantry, so it's just easier for me to do it all myself.

Well, right now he's in Indiana and wanted to impress his family with a vegan meal. He asked for my favorite tofu dish, and I directed him to VeganYumYum's sweet chili lime tofu.

And it looks like he did a GREAT job with it.

Making a vegan meal

Chili lime tofu

The family loved everything but the quinoa. (They had never eaten quinoa before and didn't like the texture.) Jason said everyone raved about the chili lime glaze and loved it enough that they want to eat it again ... but on chicken. Oh well.

Anyway, he's already promised to make the tofu for me when he gets home.

Looks like I'll be putting him to work in the kitchen much more often.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fancy-schmancy cocktails

Last night Abby and I were invited to a party for "The Official Filthy Rich Handbook."

We drove past the party and there were just three Mercedes, a Bentley, a Jaguar and an Audi. We decided there weren't enough people to make it worth walking into the party yet, because we hate being the first to arrive, standing around, making awkward small talk. So we headed over to a nearby resort to have a drink.

We each had two drinks and headed back to the party. Only this time all the cars were gone, the lights were off and the place was closed! By 8:30 p.m.! (Maybe the filthy rich go to sleep right after sunset?)

At least we had a couple great cocktails while we were out and about. Here are two of the fancy-schmancy (and ridiculously overpriced) drinks we sampled.



2 oz. Hendricks Gin
1/2 oz. pomegranate syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Directions: Serve over ice or combine in martini shaker and strain.

Pear-rosemary martini

Pear-Rosemary Martini

(I'm not certain this is the recipe the bar here used, but it sounds close enough.)

2 oz. vodka
1 oz. rosemary syrup (recipe follows)
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. chilled sparkling pear or apple cider
1 lemon wheel

Directions: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, rosemary syrup and lemon juice. Shake well, stir in the sparkling pear cider and strain into a chilled martini glass. Float the lemon wheel on the surface of the drink.

Rosemary syrup:

6 oz. simple syrup
2 rosemary sprigs

Directions: In a small saucepan, bring simple syrup to a boil. Remove from the heat and add rosemary. Let cool, then refrigerate overnight. Strain the syrup into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cutest thing ever

Right now my boyfriend is back home in Indiana, visiting his family. He called me last night to ask me a favor.

"Can you send me your favorite tofu recipe?" he said. "I want to make a vegan meal for my mom."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The big easy

Jason is out of town, so I've been looking for new and different ways to eat all the leftovers in the fridge by myself.

It looked like a wasteland in there -- little bits of things, but nothing individually substantial enough for dinner. I was about to give up and go out for sushi instead.

Then I eyed the black-eyed peas, brown rice, seitan and fresh spinach ... and TA-DA! Cajun stir-fry.

Cajun stirfry

First I sauteed some diced onion and minced garlic in some veggie broth, then added chunks of seitan. I threw in the black-eyed peas and brown rice with about half a can of diced tomatoes, as well as a few pinches of a cajun spice mixture, and let that simmer for a couple minutes. Finally I added a fistful of fresh spinach and stir-fried everything until the leaves wilted.

Dinner was on the table in less than 10 minutes. I'm not even kidding. It was really delicious too.

I wish my boyfriend would leave more often!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Semi-homemade dinner

If Sandra Lee were a vegan and not a robot, this is something she would make:

Soba noodles

It's just soy ginger broth (package from Trader Joe's), chopped green onions, diced zucchini, chunks of tofu, and soba noodles, all boiled together.

If I had more time, I would have stirred in some miso for more flavor and depth.

And then this sushi bowl:

Sushi bowl

It's sticky white rice with seasoned rice vinegar, avocado, green onions, chopped carrots and seaweed flakes with just a dab of tamari.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

All hail seitan

I made a big batch of the amazing chicken-style seitan from "Yellow Rose Recipes." The seitan slowly boils in broth, resulting in tender, flavorful cutlets.

Last night I simmered a couple of the cutlets in marsala with mushrooms and diced zucchini, then served it over pasta with a big dollop of marinara. (Heh. I tried to slice it so you could see the cutlet from the inside, but it just looks like I ate a big wedge before the photo.)

Seitan marinara

The seitan was so tasty, I had to have it again tonight.

This time I made a very nontraditional po' boy. (In fact, I think it's only a po' boy because that's what I stubbornly insist it is.)

I thinly sliced the seitan and lightly pan-fried it in the cooking broth. I topped it with a thick, brown mushroom gravy, also from "Yellow Rose Recipes," and served it on a fluffy baguette.

Vegan po' boy

There's still more seitan left, and I'm not sure what to do with it. Seitan stirfry with loads of veggies? Seitan piccata? Barbecued seitan/black bean burritos? Seitan ice cream?

Heh. Just kidding with that last one. (Maybe.)

Popping a cherry

These pickled cherry peppers are bursts of hot, tart, sweet and salty all at the same time, almost more like cherry bombs than peppers.

Cherry peppers


I'm sure these are good in some recipe or salad or something ... but they're even better straight out of the jar and into my belly.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pie, I smlove you

FINALLY I had an excuse to make the Smlove Pie from "Veganomicon" -- to celebrate the birthday of my cubicle-mate, Judi!

But what is Smlove? Oh, my.

Well, it's a graham cracker crust with a creamy and rich chocolate filling, then a layer of peanut butter sauce, topped with candied pecans and drizzled with chocolate.

It's so good, I wanted to toss my fork and eat it all with my fists. (But this was Judi's pie, after all, so I had to play nice.)


Knowing that Judi is a Kiss fan, I set it up on her desk with Gene Simmons cutout. Isn't that one badass pie?

Gene Simmons Smlove Pie

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Potluck of Horror

Roasted eggplant dip

Oh, man. I keep forgetting to post about the terrible potluck experience I had last weekend.

It was a group of about 100 people, and most of them were complete strangers.

There was nothing for me to eat, but I figured that would be the case. So I brought along my own awesome veggie burgers. Seriously, these things are the shiitake.

Best tofu burgers

For my contribution to the potluck, I brought two batches of jelly doughnut cupcakes and a big container of roasted eggplant/red pepper dip with organic flaxseed tortilla chips.

I drew cute little signs for the food that listed the ingredients and potential allergens, since I didn't know if anybody there would have food allergies. (And I was secretly hoping there would be other vegans who would be happy to discover some goodies.)

People treated my food like it was poison. Most turned their noses up at the "vegan" label.

I saw people laughing at my signs. "Who cares?" said one lady as she gnawed on an almost-raw hamburger.

One person brought a big bowl of ranch dip and stole most of my chips because they neglected to bring their own.

Then someone started mixing the ranch dip with my roasted eggplant dip.

And then some lady came up with the bright idea to eat the ranch/eggplant mix with Cheetos and proceeded to dip the Cheetos DIRECTLY in the serving bowl. She used a few Cheetos to pull up great big globs of dip, used those Cheetos to sop up some ranch from the other bowl, ate the whole mess of it, licked her fingers and stuck them back in my bowl with more Cheetos.

Ugh. People are gross.

On the up side, the eggplant dip was really good before it was tainted. It's a Barefoot Contessa recipe that I found via the PPK forums. Here's how to make it:

2 medium eggplants, peeled
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, cayenne and salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly.

Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the lemon juice and tahini, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and add the chopped parsley. Garnish with extra parsley. (I subbed fresh basil, because I didn't have any parsley.)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cinco de Julyo

For Independence Day, we drove to Pasadena and bought new dishes at IKEA. Here are the adorable bowls, in Palm Springs-y orange and green:


Jason loves the square black plates. I love the wide bowls with just one flower.

Plates & bowls

Here are the side plates.

Side plates

And FINALLY I have a great big serving platter.


Then we stopped at a fast foodish noodle place, because we were low on time and high on hunger. I ordered the tofu lo mein:

Tofu lo mein

And Jason and I split the spinach/tofu gyoza:

Spinach and tofu gyoza

After we got home, we had just enough time to get changed for a night hike. We climbed the Lykken Trail and watched five fireworks displays at once.

PS after dark

Hope all of you had a great Fourth of July and are having an equally good fifth of July!