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Archive for November, 2009

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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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The October Farmer’s Markets were full of lovely pumpkins and I could not resist their siren song.  So, this year I bought a Halloween pumpkin with wonderful intentions of carving it into a masterpiece… but that didn’t happen.  Halloween came and went and my pumpkin sat on my porch looking very autumnal but not very scary. 

On Monday night I was feeling inspired by all of the posts I have been reading about roasting pumpkins.  I figured that since my pumpkin hadn’t quite turned out to be the ultimate Halloween decoration I could still get my money’s worth.  All needed to do was roast it and turn it into tasty pumpkin puree.  Such a wonderful idea, at least in theory.  When I actually set about roasting and pureeing, my brilliant inspiration gradually turned to determined frustration and ended in exhausted triumph.

At this point I should probably mention that I was not using a “cooking” pumpkin.  My pumpkin was about 19 inches tall and 16 inches around.  The Pumkin as compared to my 12 cup tea kettle

The size should have been my first clue that this would not be a quick task.  I also got a bit of a surprise when I cut my giant pumpkin open.  I was expecting it to have an 1-1/2 inches or so of meat to it.  Boy was I wrong!  The walls were about 3 inches thick on the sides and 4 inches thick towards the bottom.

Pictures 006

Okay, we have now established that this pumpkin was no shrinking violet.  I fact only 1/4 of the pumpkin fit into my modest oven at a time.  It took 30 minutes at 450 degrees for the pumpkin to become perfectly roasted.  When the roasted pumpkin became cool enough to handle it was time to remove the skin and puree it.

Now is a good time to mention that the sole blending device in my kitchen is a blender.  Not a fancy vita-mix type blender either.  Just a run of the mill 6 cup Oster blender.  It has always served me well and makes a mean smoothie, but I was about to discover that blending frozen fruit and blending roasted pumpkin don’t even come close in comparison. 

I peeled and sliced roughly 1 cup of pumpkin and proceeded to attempted to puree it.  My blender put out an awesome effort….for the first 5 seconds.  After the addition of some water and some coaxing with a spoon I got my first bit of pumpkin puree.  2 hours, a bit of cursing and a few tears later I had pureed half of the pumpkin.  You may be asking yourself, exactly how much puree can one make from half a giant pumpkin?

  The answer, 23 cups.23 cups o' pumpkin

Half of this pumpkin is still sitting in my fridge, sliced and waiting to be roasted this weekend.  I decided that pumpkin roasting/pureeing  is not a great weekday activity for me.  I definitely won’t be doing this on a Monday night ever again.

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I have definitely been keeping busy the last few days and I fully intend to fill everyone in on several tasty creations that I have come across.  Tonight however, I took a bit of a break from the usual to hang out with some friends for a potluck style dinner.

It was a wonderful night.  The conversation was plentiful and entertaining, the atmosphere cozy and welcoming, but the real magic happened when I had my first bite of the main dish.  It was a warm, creamy heaping fork full of Mac n’ Yeese. 

I found a bit of heavenly bliss in every mouthful of this cheese replacement dish that I have been dreaming of for the last 4 weeks. And while I am tempted to horde the recipe and keep it all to myself, it just wouldn’t be right not to share this divine bit of vegan food paradise.  So here it is, the recipe for Heidi’s Mac n’ Yeese.

Heidi’s Mac n’ Yeese

  • 1/2 Cup Margarine
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 3 1/2 Cup Boiling Water
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Pinch of Turmeric
  • 1 Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • about 1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp. Mustard

Making It

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add salt to taste, and add macaroni.
  2. Melt the margarine over low heat.  Beat in flour with a wire whisk.  Continue to beat over medium heat until mixture is smooth and bubbly.
  3. Whip in boiling water.  Add salt, garlic powder, turmeric, cayenne, pepper flakes, soy sauce and mustard to the liquid.
  4. Let the sauce cook until it thickens and bubbles.  When that happens, beat in nutritional yeast.  If the sauce is too thick, add more water.
  5. When the macaroni is cooked, drain and add the sauce.  Serve immediately.

If you want to get the story behind this fabulous recipe and what inspired it check out Heidi’s blog at http://rootielicious.com.  You can also see some of her amazing jewelry there as well.

That is all for tonight but stay tuned.  In the next 2 days you will get to hear all about an amazing tofu scramble, fauxtess cupcakes and an adventure with pumpkin roasting.

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