Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Mostly Vegan Gourmet!

Well, I finally got all my vegan cookbooks and then discovered there was one more i needed- Vegan With a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. However, i must tell you a secret…I’m trying to just veganize the recipes i make now so my kids don’t get all freaked out by the weird stuff I will soon be making.

Today’s lunch consisted of something we make at the restaurant where i work. It’s simply called “escarole with sausage” but my super-Italian boss just calls it “shcarole” pronounced like you’re rolling the R just a tad. I don’t know, it sounds funny to me, so i just say to people, “Oh, you’d like the escarole with sausage? Sounds delicious!” (And he’s kind of a stroke so who cares how he says stuff.)

Anyway, I simply boiled rigatoni pasta noodles for the correct amount of time- no more than that though because I freaking HATE slimy, soggy, mushy pasta- then while that was happening, i sauteed the sliced soy/veggie italian sausage with some olive oil, chopped garlic, crushed red pepper, and salt. When it was mostly done, i threw in the green stuff and let it wilt down quite a bit while tossing it here or there. I kept adding touches of oil because i love the stuff.

Here’s my confession- I’m pretty sure the sausage wasn’t totally vegan. Oh, and my other confession- I’m not sure I care all that much. See, here’s my problem…

I was vegan a long time ago, and I only lasted about 8-9 months. (I already posted why previously so if you wanna know why, go back and read about it.) And i was “that guy.” You know the one. You sit down in a restaurant and you order a BLT and I’m the one who starts in with how pigs are kept in factory farms and tortured and blah blah blah. (Only it’s NOT blah blah blah, but still, not the time or the place.) I harassed everyone i went out to eat with. I was a complete pain in the ass at restaurants and had to make a point of my politics to every single human i came into contact with.

I’m a different person now. I made the veggie transition over a couple of days last month and it worked out well so far. I’m very hesitant to refer to myself as vegan though and here’s why- I’ve met soooo many vegans who are now just the way that i was then. Assholes. “What are you doing using Burt’s Bees? Don’t you know that’s stealing?!” (I love the stuff!) I don’t want to be an asshole. I try desperately to use soy milk in my coffee every time and most of the time i do, but if I’m somewhere where there happens to be no soy milk and the only thing available is that powdered crap with trace amounts of casein…I’m using it. Sorry.

I will do what i can when i can to eat as little animal products as possible but I’m not going be a militant jerkoff about it. I’m not going to lecture people or tell them they’re going to hell. (Is there such a place?) I’m not going to starve myself. Don’t get me wrong, I will never eat meat again, but we plan on going to Italy for our anniversary (apparently he has family there. who knew?) and while I could eat pasta marinara the whole damn time, I’m not going to. I’m going to taste the regional cheeses. I am, after all, a food lover. It’s just something I’ll have to deal with when it happens.

So, I’m only going to refer to myself as mostly vegan. And lazy. And cheap.

The “Lazy, Cheap, Mostly Vegan Gourmet.” It has a ring to it. Enjoy.

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Vegan Cheesecake with Vegan Gluten/Wheat Free Crust

It probably doesn’t look all that great, huh? Well, I’m not sure if it tastes all that great either because i haven’t tried it yet. My best friend Robert said his favorite thing in the whole wide world is cheesecake so i figured I would give it a go.

No, he’s not vegan. But he said he would be willing to try this cheesecake. I went ahead and wrote down all the calories and fat of everything i was putting into this sucker, too. I got just under 300 calories and about 12 grams of fat per slice, if you divide it into 8 pieces and eat it plain. And if you care about the fat and calories you are consuming. Sometimes i care, sometimes not. Plus, I made my own fruit topping of blueberries and cherries that I plan on putting on top of my piece. I know there’s no fat in there, but I don’t know about the calories. I forgot to write it down, and i don’t feel like doing it now. People must not realize how easy it is to make your own fruit topping. They just follow the rest of the lemmings over the cliff and buy that crap in a can. Oh well. Here’s the crust recipe i got with my notes, as usual, following the asterisk and in italics-

2 cups Grape-Nuts cereal or vegan honey-free granola, (remove any dried fruits from the granola beforehand if necessary) *i passed on the Grape Nuts as it has wheat in there and I am somewhat gluten intolerant.i used Health Valley. They left the fruits in a little package on the side so i got to be super lazy and NOT remove them. Yay me!
1/4 cup maple syrup *i just used what was in my cabinet. I know they want you to always use pure, but that crap is expensive, yo!
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F.

Place cereal in a blender or food processor and grind to fine crumbs (but NOT to cereal-dust), about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and mix in the maple syrup and almond extract. Mix well until crumbs are moistened. *The food processor part only took me like a minute.

Pour into oiled 9-inch pie pan and press mixture in evenly to form a crust. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool while preparing filling of your choice. *I used one Tbsp of canola oil

I may actually use about half cup more of this stuff as it did not go all the way up my pie plate’s sides. Bummer. So here’s the cheesecake part-

1 container Tofutti brand cream cheese alternative

12 oz or one package silken tofu *Don’t forget to drain out the water, like i did!! Also, i used Mori-nu extra firm. I hope that doesn’t affect it. Oh, well. (extra firm, my ass.)

1/3 cup soy milk

1/3 cup corn starch

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp maple syrup (optional) *I put it in mine just for extra flavor

2/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 tsp egg replacer

2 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Oven at 325.

Mix the egg replacer with the water in a small bowl until smooth and add to blender. *I used my food processor. I love it. Blend together all ingredients, except for oil and crust (*duh) at medium speed until smooth.

Mixture should be thick and creamy. Slowly incorporate oil by pouring in at low speed.

Pour into pie crust and bake 45-50 minutes or until just barely firm. The cheesecake will not change color or rise up, but don’t be afraid to take it out of the oven! Allowing it to cool and refrigerating or freezing slightly before serving will firm it up to the proper texture. *I baked mine for exactly 45 minutes and it was a tiny bit brown around the edges, but that’s okay with me. Really.

Enjoy your tofu cheesecake! Drizzle with chocolate syrup or garnish with fresh fruit as desired. *I made a fruit topping.

For my homemade fruit topping i simply took 1 cup frozen cherries, i left them whole, and about 1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen blueberries. I put them in a saucepan. I added water just to cover. I added 1/4 cup sugar. I also hit it with a tiny bit of lemon juice. I let it boil and stirred here or there. You can add more sugar if you like it sweeter but I like to taste the actual fruit, thanks. Then i added a previously blended mix of 1/4 cup cold water and 1/4 cup cornstarch. I let it drizzle in and let my berries come to a boil again. It got super thick, so i added extra water, a little at a time. It got to a perfect consistency for me so i took it off the stove, transferred it to a bowl and let it cool.

I think i could have eaten the whole bowl of fruit right there, as gross as that may sound because of the corn starch. I love blueberries, though. When i was a kid and i used to visit my daddy in Maine, we used to pick the blueberries that grew right in our front yard. Sometimes, that was all i would eat for days!

Well, enjoy your vegan cheesecake. I hope mine turns out okay. I can’t wait to try it later.

By the way, i still haven’t gotten my book by Dreena Burton, Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I wonder what happened to it? Curse you, Barnes and Noble online!

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A Little Post About Bags…

First, i would like to say that I am not really a tree hugger. I’m what you call a poser. When it’s convenient for me, I’ll do whatever you ask as far as recycling or whatever. But honestly, we drive an SUV. And the worst kind, too. It’s an H3. Barf. Now, don’t get too excited, it was a lease. Anyone can get a lease. Even us broke folk. But regardless, from the second he brought it home, i was embarrassed. I think they’re ugly. They use way too much gas. Plus, they aren’t all that good for hauling stuff. There’s no hitch and that back door opens to the side. Not downwards like every other truck on the planet. What’s the point?

Oh, and there are certain things i get nasty about, I’m not gonna lie. If I’m in a restaurant with friends and one even thinks about ordering the veal, i go through my rundown about baby cows. I did this even when i happily ate the baby cows mama as my own dinner. I just happen to think treatment of baby cows for this purpose is unacceptable. Same thing with goose liver pate. I would love to do the same thing to some jackass that’s done to those geese. But i would gladly eat Mother Goose’s cousin, el pollo. Get what I’m saying? Total poser.

I stopped eating meat and am currently cleaning out my fridge of most animal products. Except for the stuff my hubby eats. He refuses to go veg. Whatever, that’s his choice and I’m not going to be a sterotypical vegan asshole about it.

But this bag thing…it’s got me bummed. I ordered cloth grocery bags from Bake And Destroy and I love them so i leave them in my car because I’m a forgetful moron, and i often have to stop for crap like paper clips, or diapers. When i do, my local chain grocer employees look at me like I just asked them to wear a leopard thong and grease up. No, really, it’s getting ridiculous. I go into the bag-the-damn-stuff-yourself lane and one of the workers came over to help in an effort to hurry me out of there. The first thing she did was open up a plastic bag. I very quickly-and shortly- told her i brought my own bags and I will do it myself. Cue the eye roll, please. Grrr…. I wrote a letter to Jewel, yes, Jewel, or Albertson’s to all you westerners, and i got some very generic form letter back. Jerks.

To all of you reading this…if you’re not going to buy the bags Jewel sells for a dollar a piece then please please please make sure you are recycling those plastic bags. Each Jewel has a giant box posted by the front door for this purpose. Use it! Good karma will follow you everywhere, i swear!

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Cinco de Mayo!

Well, that was yesterday, but still.

My best friend came over to see if i wanted to go out and get a drink. I said, “Why go out when I’ve got a perfectly good Margarita right here!” In cupcake form, of course. The recipe is from-where else- Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Someday soon i might read a different cupcake book, but don’t bet the farm that it’s going to be THAT soon.

So the recipe called for a quarter cup of lime juice with another 3 tablespoons for the frosting, but i only had one lime so i had to make it work. I grated off all the peel i could, then juiced the holy hell out of that poor little lime. I got barely a quarter cup. I used most of it, and the zest, in the cupcake batter, then added whatever was left to the frosting. Can i just tell you how lime-like these things tasted? And that was with barely half of the lime juice that i should have used so imagine how puckered my face would have looked biting into one made from the full amount!!

The recipe also called for two tablespoons of tequila. In all fairness, she does state to let them rest for a couple of hours so that the flavors may develop. I anxiously waited…about an hour and a half. I could wait no longer. At least one of those cupcakes needed to get in my belly. Now. They were delicious, as i already said and with enough lime to cure the rickets of any Brit, but i couldn’t really taste the booze. Maybe i didn’t let them sit long enough? Who knows. I hate tequila anyway. I think it tastes…brown. So I guess I’m glad my cupcakes didn’t taste brown. If i were any more of a boozehound, though, i might have been disappointed at the lack of tequila flavor, but as it is, I’m okay with it.

I also made cholent from Veganomicon. I guess it’s a traditional Jewish meal, veganized. Or as my visiting friend called it, Jew Stew. “Is it made from real Jews?” She says. (Not offensive at all, right?) apparently she’d heard of it before. Very funny. The only things i did different to the recipe were A) i did not add caraway seeds. They were too expensive at Jewel. I’m in the process of getting all my herbs and spices online and in bulk but until then, you’re not going to see these little guys in my food and B)I did not deglaze with wine, i used veggie broth. I have used wine in my cooking before and my kids think it makes stuff taste funny. Since they will be eating two-thirds of what i make, i must comply with their wishes. I guess that’s good, though, right?

We all loved it. It really was delicious, even without the seeds. I added some leftover tvp i had in the freezer from when i bought it for Carmen and she was supposed to learn how to stir-fry. Turns out she’s a lazy vegetarian. “I don’t wanna do all that work,” she said. Yeah, me either. But i did.

Well , i sort of did. This stew is not that difficult to make. I’m a huge fan of being able to throw things in a pot, let ‘em simmer and then get to eating an hour later or so. It needed salt, but that’s because i don’t put it in anything i make. All my food is bland and i get to hear about it daily. Whatevs.

See you tomorrow for some more news on baking and eating!

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Adventures in Vegan Cooking! And other stuff!

So much to post about today and i think i will start with this hilarious cross-stitch i got from a gal named City in New Zealand. Yes, that’s me in the picture. Ain’t i cute? Her site is on my blogroll where it says ‘city the nz cupcake queen.’ I think it should also say “city the nz cross-stitch queen’ cuz this thing is awesome. I have already pissed off my husband by not just owning it, but proudly displaying it in my kitchen where his uber-religious family members can see it. His brother-who is in a locally popular screaming hardcore band- says to me, “What kind of crowd are you running with these days? Geez…” I reply with “the usual. But it’s funny right? Cuz I’m a suburban housefrau but i worship satan. Come on, that’s funny, dammit!” Well, i think so.

City also features knuckle tattoo cross-stitches that read ‘cupcake’ and star wars.’ Cupcakes rule! Star wars, well, i guess thats an acquired taste but anyway. She sells her stuff on Etsy, which is where i picked mine up. you can go here to look at her shit.

Next, as i have said in my previous post, i am going mostly vegan. Why not all the way? Because I have to taste frostings and stuff, made with butter and a tiny bit of cream, to make sure they don’t taste like poo before someone pays money to eat them. When my hubby is home, he is usually my guinea pig but since he works nights, and a lot of my baking gets done at night, what do i do? I call myself vegetarian with a serious bend towards the darker side.

I went to our local health food store and holy mother of god are they expensive. But i want to support local business so i do it anyway. Plus, the place is owned by two of the coolest broads ever, and quite militant about eating vegan. Usually that turns me the hell away from vegans (and another reason why i hesitate to call myself that) but she says it with a smile and that just makes it all better.

I stocked up on some of the stuff i need to get a good start (oh, how i wish the whole foods wasn’t an hour away, sniff) but i have to go back for other stuff. My pal Kristen wants me to experiment with gluten-free crap so i’m going to buy about four different kinds of flour, probably to the tune of about $30. That’s okay though. When i open Joliet’s first cupcake shop/bulk spice store, i want to know what the hell i’m doing, you know?

Forgot to mention- this was my lunch for the past few days. I roasted some asparagus by rolling it in about a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and throwing it in the over at 400 for 15 minutes. When those tips turn black, you’re done. then i did about the same thing to the cauliflower, only i added garlic and oregano. It took about half an hour. Again, when some of the tips turned black, i took it out. i let it cool and then tossed it into the food processor until it was a coarse meal. Frigging awesome! Heaven (if i believed in it) on a platter!!! This is actually quite economical, too. All you need is a head of cauliflower and a bundle of asparagus. Next, i made some delicious pan fried tempeh to go with it. Just slice into strips, put it in a pan with veggie broth, cook until the broth goes away and it starts to get more browned, then put in some tamari(or soy sauce, whatever, really) and liquid smoke. i ate this for lunch for four days!

A super healthy meal and completely cruelty free. Unless you count the smell that’s all up in my house and my husband saying stuff like “making me smell that crap is mean.” He doesn’t count though, right? I’m only supposed to be nice to animals? ok, cool.

So my next experiment was with Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. the babes who wrote this book have an amazing blog that you can view here. I made the chocolate ones and i didn’t even bother making frosting. Seriously- they did not last that long in my house. they were loved by all. I think i may use this recipe for all my chocolate cupcakes in the future. the were the most moist, most flavorful, and garnered me the most compliments, which is really what i’m after.

As you can see i used my silicon baking cups for these. When I’m baking for my family, why waste paper? They are a pain in the arse to clean up, so spray a little no-stick in there to help you out. Although they will still be hard to clean. So whats worse? Wasting paper or wasting water? I have no idea anymore. Sigh…

I also made these fabulous vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, vegan of course. you know, it’s times like this when i think that vanilla might be the new chocolate.

Yes, i did use a bunch of different liners for these, i know. I had a few of each different ones left over. A couple from easter, a couple from valentines day. What’s a girl to do? Who cares, just use the damn things. All people really want is what’s on the inside.

I brought these to my usual sunday night hang out when i don’t have to go bring jerkoffs food at the restaurant i work at. I wait anxiously until the baby is in bed and the teenagers are out of the shower and ready for bed. Then i get the hell outta there for some much needed adult time. The gang and i usually hang out at Britt’s house and watch Family Guy reruns.( ps- i hate the everloving crap outta that show but because i want out of my house so bad, i watch it, pretend to get it, then fake laugh.) Anyways, my friends wolfed these suckers down like they were never going to eat again. When i said, “They’re vegan!” only one person knew what that meant. Wow. Why do i hang out with these people again? They don’t even like chocolate. I know! I think it’s mostly for geographical convenience. Just kidding.

<—-Anyways, buy this book, you will NOT regret it. I’m still working on my Veganomicon, picking out recipes, buying ingredients. Oh hey, no one told me this, but seitan is apparently made from the very stuff that makes my insides feel like a mosh pit. Gluten! Argh! (ha! i went all pirate on ya!) I do indeed still eat the cupcakes that i make with flour, yes. I will pay for it all night with frequent trips to bathroom and a can of Febreze air effects close by, but sometimes, it’s worth it.

YOU try being a vegan with a wheat intolerance! It blows big time! Luckily, i love love love tempeh. Still trying to figure out baking tofu, also. Wish me luck! More to come kids, enjoy!!

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Daring Bakers Challenge

Has it been a month already? Sure has! For the month of April we all got to make the deliciously delectable cheesecake- in lollipop form! I’m not going to bother posting the recipe because it was rather long and tedious. Suffice it to say that i did NOT add the flour to mine and they still turned out marvelously!

I’m guessing the reason to add flour was to hold them together a little better but regardless, I’ve never heard of adding flour to cheesecake filling, and i was not about to try it out. You know what? They stayed together, spitefully, I’m sure. Although, to really irritate me, they did get Mark removed from Top Chef, and we were supposed to have many curly-haired brats together. Mean cheesecake pops.

starting upOh yeah, i also decided to give mine more of a cheesecakey look, so after dipping them in semi-sweet chocolate, i rolled them in some old, dust on the box, leftover graham cracker crumbs. According to my husband, you could not even taste the graham, so perhaps next time, i will crush them myself so they are chunkier and not a fine powder.

I did have to bake mine for a lot longer than expected. I also halved(is that even a word?) my recipe because i have no need for that many little cheesecakes in my house when i’m trying to lose 30 pounds. Although, going vegan two days ago means i’m not really allowed to eat them anyways. That’s another post for another day.

I then decided to wrap them up and send them to work with my husband to go whoring for business. I figured, they are tasty little buggers, and they would make a nice little party favor or whatever. Plus, they’re fairly easy to make, and cheap! What’s not to like? I just punched a hole in my business card (which i hate, by the way. i have seen WAY cuter business cards. that’s what i get for being cheap, though. screw you vista print!) and attached it to the loop of string around the stick. Cute!

Thus ending my post on April’s Daring Baker’s Challenge. Was it really all that challenging? Nope. Would I do it a gain? You bet your sweet aspercreme, I will. What a great idea to bring to a party! Well, minus the business card thing. That would be way tacky.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Suck it! I don’t really care! Happy baking all!

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