Vegan MoFo 2014! Labor Day BBQ

It's Vegan MoFo, the Vegan Month of Food! And what a good time to bring this blog back to life, since it was during Vegan MoFo last year that I fizzled out. I have a good excuse (working two jobs, one of them full time and totally new to me), but now that I have more time (quit the part-time one), I have less of an excuse and would like to get back to blogging!

As I am a college instructor and live on an academic schedule, Labor Day means back to school, so I never look forward to it, but the weather was hot and summery here in Boston and Kevin and I had a lazy day, complete with a nice dinner from the grill: tofu burgers with grilled onions and corn on the cob. Having everything (even the buns) on the grill made it feel like a real Labor Day Barbecue, which made the approaching autumn seem acceptable.

For the tofu, Kevin made a marinade of vinegar, tamari, mustard powder, and olive oil. I used the marinade to baste the tofu and the onion slices as they were grilling.
Also pictured : loads of homemade pickles. It was my first time grilling corn on the cob! Which, of course, means I studied up on the best method. I read this article on the difference between the 3 most-used methods and opted for the third (shucking and cooking, simple!).

And that's it for now! This year, I don't have a theme for VeganMoFo or anything, except: GET BLOGGING AGAIN. I always feel a little apologetic about this, since there are so many great bloggers with cool themes, but maybe next year I, too, will be able to have a cool theme. In the meantime, it's nice to be back! And I'll work hard to have a post each day.



Recently, we'e been getting beets fairly often in our CSA share. At first, this was awesome! I love beets! And their greens! So healthy! And then around week 4 or 5 I got tired of beets. I just don't know enough different dishes for beets, I thought.

And then I started looking through photos I've taken of past meals. It turns out I have used beets in a lot of different ways. Here, for my future benefit and yours, are some of the ways I like beets the best:

Roasting is far and away my favorite way to cook beets. You wrap them in foil and back for about 40 minutes, and then the skin slides right off and they have all this amazing flavor. So here are some sliced roasted beets, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, with a raw kale salad.
 ...and of course Bac'Uns, because Kevin loves imitation bacon bits.

I've also made a really simple beet gratin by slicing beets and cooking them with herbs and lots of daiya cheese.
 But where it's really at for me with slicing and roasting beets: making free-form beet "ravioli." A lot of raw foods restaurants use thinly-sliced raw beets as the material between which to sandwich some tasty herbed nut cheese, but I like it best with roasted sliced beets.
 Above, nut-cheese-stuffed beets with an almond cream sauce; below, a very similar dish but totally smothered in a garlicky cashew cream.
 Cooking beets in stovetop dishes takes about the same amount of time, but usually doesn't lock in as much flavor as roasting, so I tend not to do that as much unless the other flavors are very strong. Here is a dish Kevin made, with the beets cooked in a mustard tahini sauce.
 And below, a beets with curried lentils.
 I've also really enjoyed a recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian that involves cooking beets with black beens (and greens, but I think I added those myself).
 After the ingredients cook, you add cilantro and chopped oranges. The flavors worked really well with the beets; I didn't expect it!
And finally, a beet risotto-type dish, with chickpeas and tahini sauce.
I am such a fan of including beets in dishes! Hopefully with this compilation to refer back to, I won't ever again think "I don't know what to do with beets."


Vegan Brunch's tofu benny

I talk about brunch and brunch foods a lot around here, because Kevin is obsessed with brunch. I think this stems back to when he was a kid and his father made a big brunch every Sunday. So we have a nice brunch at least once a weekend. Vegan Brunch, therefore, is one of our most-used cookbooks.
I rarely make the tofu benny recipe directly out of the book, but Kevin does a great job with it, and it's worth it every time. Because I can't have tomatoes, we use lightly cooked zucchini (a replacement you may remember from my post on how to replace tomatoes). And we were lucky enough to have a very happily flowering chive plant the morning Kevin decided to make these. I really think that every meal looks (and tastes) nicer if there are flowers involved.


quick snack: cashew ricotta on crackers

I was recently lucky enough to find myself with leftover cashew ricotta. It's one of my favorite and probably most-used recipes from Veganomicon. It's good in lasagna or pasta dishes, lumped on pizza, or just dipped into with a crusty piece of bread. But it is also, as I discovered, really delicious on crackers with a little jam.
Discovering this use makes me want to make the recipe all over again, just so I can have it for snacks...


my annual VeganMofo pizza post!

Each VeganMofo, I've done a pizza post showing pictures of pizza I've taken and then accidentally stockpiled over the course of the year. This year I actually did a pretty good job of not stockpiling picture after picture of pizza... in fact, while I think I make pizza at least once a month, I only have one pizza photo for the whole year!

I have recently rediscovered Nomato "Tomato" Sauce. It's a nightshade free tomato sauce that I've been using in everything from BBQ sauces to... you guessed it, pizza sauce! So this pizza, between the Daiya cheese and the Nomato sauce, was basically like a real person's pizza, not one of my crunchy hippy pizzas. (Which I love, but sometimes you just want to be able to eat as close to the real thing as you can.)
It's topped with artichoke hearts, onions, and fresh basil from my garden.

SO just one picture of pizza. BUT I am including something else in this post because it goes hand-in-hand with pizza: BREADSTICKS.
 And not just any breadsticks. Sometimes I get a craving for the delicious, junky Pizza Hut breadsticks I used to love as a kid. I found a recipe online that I use as my base. I just use water, not dried milk and water like they do, and for the topping I substitute nutritional yeast for the parmesan. I still haven't been able to bring myself to use all the oil they call for, since it seems like a lot... though some of my find memories of Pizza Hut breadsticks involve having greasy fingers at the end, so maybe someday I will.
Taste-wise, it's just like the real thing (though a little lighter without all the oil).


rustic mango tart

A while ago we had houseguests coming over and were going to serve them dessert and drinks. We didn't have a lot of groceries in the house, but we did have a couple mangos, so I whipped together a rustic mango tart, figuring I'd use a simple pie crust recipe, chop and mix the mango with a bit of sugar and spices (I think powdered ginger?), and call it a day. Unfortunately, I was out of shortening for the crust, so I decided to try coconut oil. The crust was a little trickier to manage, but the taste went perfectly with the mango--so voila! A tropical-tasting, quick dessert.
There was even enough crust to put a little heart in the middle! <3 p="">


okra from my garden!

I have a real garden this year, which is a new venture for me. I've been discovering the challenges (rabbits, heat waves) and joys (pesto whenever I want, and so many butternut squashes ripening!) as I go. One thing I decided to try growing this year is okra.

I associate okra with cuisine from hot places: the southern US, India, Africa. I didn't know how it would grow in a first-time gardener's New England garden. It came up kind of late in the season, and it has remained small; I figured it was too small to produce any okra. But then I got some tiny flowers, and now... some tiny okra pods!!!
 Aren't they cute? Two of them--that is, two pods--were ripe yesterday, so I picked them and mixed them with some CSA-acquired okra and other veggies to have with our dinner.
Obviously it's not like I'm growing (or able to grow) okra as a crop, but it was  cool to supplement our dinner with something from our garden.
Barbeque tofu, quinoa "risotto," and mixed roasted veggies--including our two okra pods!