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Vegan for the Holidays

Okay, I want to start by apologizing for totally neglecting my blog for the last week.  I have been craft obsessed this holiday season and totally immersed myself in creating all kinds of holiday fun.  But I am back in the blogging saddle and ready to update everyone on the happenings in my world.

First we’ll back track a bit to Thanksgiving.  My family and I traveled to Boise and had Thanksgiving with our relatives.  I spent several days before the trip preparing road snacks and gathering plenty of vegan friendly menu items for our holiday meal.  Pretty much everything that had been made by my relatives had butter in it so I improvised for my Thanksgiving meal.  I had a lovely lentil soup with mashed potatoes, pumpkin biscuits and cranberry sauce.  My family were even willing to try a few vegan items.  They loved the pumpkin biscuits and chocolate cupcakes (I neglected to tell them there was silken tofu in the cupcake recipe, tee hee).  Everyone accept my cousin Becky were a bit leery of the green smoothies though.

When I got home from Thanksgiving I fell headlong into preparations for a small craft fair that I was doing with some friends.  I made several teddy bears and sock monkeys and printed up some original art work on greeting cards.  The show went well and I sold a few items.  I also bought a few items so it all balanced out.  : )

Now I am in the home stretch for Christmas.  For me that means baking up a storm.  This year will be a bit different from the Christmases of years past.  While I have gone vegan most of my friends and family are not and quite a bit of my gift giving revolves around home-baked goodness.  So while I am not depriving them of homemade caramels from my grandmother’s recipe I am veganizing all of my cookie, zucchini bread and truffle recipes.    I am excited to experiment a bit with the caramel recipe and see if I can successfully veganize it.

That is all for now.  How are the holidays going for everyone else?

Wow!  Time has been flying by since the Thanksgiving holiday.  I have been getting things ready for a little craft fair and prepping things for Christmas.  Tomorrow I will be blogging about my first vegan Thanksgiving and later this week I will be doing a post on pizza.

Sorry this is such a short post.  I promise lots of goodness to come this week so stay tuned.

The Traveling Vegan

Thanksgiving is nearly here and it will be my first vegan holiday.  I’ve spent most of the week getting things ready.  I will be going to have Thanksgiving with family in Idaho this year and I will be the sole vegan in the group. 

The feast with the family is sure to be replete with butter, eggs, milk and all manner of non-vegan food.  I am also sure that there will be quite a bit of good-natured ribbing.  But I also intend to show the family how tasty veganism can be.

I will be bringing pumpkin biscuits, pumpkin truffles and chocolate cupcakes.  It will be interesting to see how it all goes.  I will be taking a lot of pictures and will more than likely have more than a few stories when I get back.

To everyone who will be celebrating this Thursday, Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I was reading through some of my favorite blogs and I came across this post by Bianca at Vegan Crunk.  She had just adopted this handsome fellow named Gideon.

Image from Farm Sanctuary

After reading about her post I felt inspired to pop on over to the Farm Sanctuary website and check out this Turkey Adoption thing for myself.  Once I got there I became immediately taken with this little sweetie.

Olive (as pictured on FarmSancutary.org

I gladly contributed my $25 donation to be able to adopt Olive.  Her gentle eyes paired with the obvious trauma of  debeaking tugged at my heart-strings.  At a time of year when we are all gearing up for the holidays, seeing Olive and Gideon makes you realize that one of the greatest gifts we can give is to help those in need.  Whether they be people or turkeys.

Another way to help others this month is to visit Chocolate Covered Katie and help out with the Operation Chocolate-Covered kindness page view charity drive.  Just by visiting her blog and clicking on the different pages you will be helping to raise money that will go toward the Enough Project.

Wow!  Time really flew this last week.  I fully intended to post a follow up to Appliance Excitement much sooner, but I got caught in playing with my new friend and trying a bunch of raw food recipes.  The great thing about all that experimenting is that I have a new found love for raw desserts.

The little blender-that-could has served me well for the past several years.  Especially when it came to what is now being refered to as the Great Pumpkin Incident of ’09.  My new little friend, however, has the kind of chopping and blending power that I have only dreamed of.  I put that power to good use this weekend by making a melange of raw desserts including, chocolate pudding (chocomole), cashew whipped cream and cranberry kremecakes. 

My new friend.

The chocomole is going to be the focus today along with the cashew whipped cream.  Both of these taste wonderful on their own but together they are an unstoppable force of tastiness.

Chocomole (a.k.a. Raw Chocolate Pudding)

Chocomole
1 Avocado (pitted and peeled)
4 tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1/4 cup Agave Nectar
1-4 dates (optional but excellent for a little additional sweetness)
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup water
 
Place avocado, cocoa powder, agave nectar, dates (if using) and 1/4 cup of the water into your food processor.  Pulse until thick and smooth.  Continue to pulse while slowly adding the rest of the water and until the consistency is pudding-esque.    The texture is everything with this recipe.  The first time I made this I didn’t blend it as well as I should have.  While it still tasted rich a dark chocolatey, the bits of avocado and date threw me a bit.  So remember to blend thoroughly.
 
Cashew  Whipped Cream (pictured above as the topping for the Chocomole)

1-1/3 cup Raw Cashews (soaked 2 hours)
1/2 cup Water
3 tablespoon Agave Nectar 
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Blend all ingredients in your blender until smooth and fluffy.  If making  in a food processor, start by blending all ingredients, minus 1/4 cup water.  Stop often to scrape the bowl.  Once it is quite smooth, drizzle in the last 1/4 cup water and blend till fluffy.  This is so good that is could be dessert all by itself!

If you are looking for more dessert inspiration you should stop by Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog.  Not only does she have great recipes for all things chocolate, but she is also doing a charity drive called Operation Chocolate Covered Kindness.  Just by checking out her blog you will be helping her earn money that will go to those in need.  While your are there  be sure to enter the her Big, Fat Chocolate Covered Giveaway.

Appliance Excitement!!

Today I got to experience love at first sight pulse.  My new Kitchen Aide food processor arrived and I am completely smitten.

If you happened to have read about my pumpkin experience then you know that my modest blender was the only blending/pureeing device in my kitchen.  While the Little Blender That Could survived the pumpkin experience I found it was time to add a new gadget to my kitchen counter. 

More info on my new friend will be coming tomorrow, along with some tasty raw food goodness that it helped me create.

Tonight I would also like to take a moment to let you know about what is happening on one of my favorite vegan blogs.  Chocolate Covered Katie is doing a page view charity drive for the month of November called Operation Chocolate Covered Kindness.  If you haven’t been to her site yet you definitely need to check it out.  Not only will you get to see her awesome recipes, but you will also be helping those in need just by viewing her blog.

Thank you in advance for helping out this amazing blogger!!

Tofu Experiment #1

I have always been more of a baker than a chef.  Certain things in cooking tend to elude me.  I know that I like my food to have a lot of flavor but I don’t always know that right way to achieve the flavors that I am looking for.  This has never proven more true than when I cook tofu.  So, with the help of several cook books and internet resources I am beginning my own personal Tofu Experiment. 

For the Tofu Experiment I will be making at least one meal a week using tofu in different ways.  Tofu tends to take on the flavors of whatever you season it with and can be prepared in a variety of ways.  I figure that this will encourage me to flex my culinary muscles a bit before they atrophy.  Hopefully the end result will be scrumptious and add a few new recipes to my repertoire.

For the first installment of the Tofu Experiment I took a simple tofu scramble and (in the words of Emeril) kicked it up a notch.  I love spicy food so I decided to do a South of the Border inspired tofu scramble.  It ended up being a big enough that I will be eating for lunch for the next couple of days.  But I don’t mind, it’s really tasty.

Salsa Verde Tofu Scramble

1/2 medium Onion  (diced)

3 cloves Garlic (minced)

1 Red or Green Bell Pepper (diced)

2 tsp. Olive Oil

1 tsp. Chili Powder

2 tsp. Cumin

1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

1-1/2 cups Salsa Verde

12 oz. Extra Firm Tofu

2 cups Frozen or Canned Corn

1- 15 oz. can Black Beans

Before you get started cooking you are going to want to press the excess water out of your tofu.  My technique for this is really simple.  Place your tofu on a plate and cover it with another plate.  Place several heavy books on th top plate and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When the oil is ready add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin and red pepper flakes.  Continuing at medium heat, saute this mixture for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.  Add the pressed tofu to the skillet and break it apart using your spatula.  Add the salsa verde and mix well.  Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently.  Add the black beans and corn and continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed and the beans and corn have been thoroughly heated.  You can serve this on its own or roll it up in a tortilla with some guacamole.

The Verdict: This tofu experiment is a resounding YUM.  The first night I ate it all by itself with some era salsa and triscuits.  Yesterday I had it as a burrito for lunch and it was completely satisfying.

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