Happy Halloween!

My halloween turnips! They're supposed to look like Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie from the Nightmare Before Christmas (my favorite movie - now rereleased in 3D! can't wait to see it)... turnips are more delicate than I'd thought.

When mom visited this weekend, she brought me LOADS of turnips from her natural food store that had begun to wrinkle. Apparently not many people appreciate the wonder that is the turnip. So with loads of turnips and not many recipes for them, I decided to connect to my celtic roots.

watch out little turnip!

Turnips don't have that soft mushy inside that makes pumpkins so ideal for carving, but after I scored the innards several times with the knives, they were fairly easy to dig out with a spoon. The only problem is in the details... As you can see from Jack's nose, I didn't have a small enough knife to do detailing.

but they're so cute.

I was left with a pile of turnip shavings:

There's about 1 tightly-packed cup of shavings. I pickled them, which is to say I added about 3/4 cup vinegar, 1 1/4 cups water, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp dill. If I hadn't been so worn out from cutting, I'd've added some chopped garlic. I left it to marinate for a few hours on the counter, then stuck it in the fridge for 3 days to pickle. Today's the third day - I'll let you know tomorrow how it went.

Enjoy your halloween!


tomatoes are evil

actually, no, they're not, they just make me itch. But this site is hilarious.

On Saturday night I made pasta for me and my mom.

Though this may look like your average italian meal, the marinara sauce is tomato-free. It is delicious and although it takes a bit of time, it's super-easy. Don't be intimidated by the ingredients list - it's mostly spices.

Tomato-Free Marinara Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 1 1/2 lbs carrots (about 7 really big carrots), sliced
1 beet, chopped
3-4 cups water
1 Bay Leaf
2 Tbsp parsley
1-2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp each marjoram, thyme, rosemary (or a tsp of Italian Seasoning)
1/2 cup vinegar (a milder type like red wine or brown rice vinegar works best)
dash of sweetener, if desired
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft. Then add the carrots and the beet. Saute for another minute or two, then add the water and spices. Cook over high eat until it boils, then bring heat down to medium and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beet and carrots are soft.

Note: The smaller you chop the carrots and beet, the shorter this will cook - if they're really small, boiling for 15 minutes will do, if they're chunkier, you might want to allow up to half an hour for the veggies to be tender.

Once the veggies are soft, remove from heat, and allow 15-20 minutes for it to cool. Pour it all into a blender or food processor (in half-batches, if your blender is small) and puree until it's sauce-y. Return to pan, stir in vinegar. Taste to see if you want a dash of sweetener, more of a certain spice, or salt and pepper (you WILL want the latter two). Reheat before serving, add more water to thin if necessary. Can be used anywhere you'd use normal marinara sauce: pasta, pizza, lasagna, or as a dipping sauce.

(makes enough sauce for 6 servings)

Because this sauce takes a while to make, I made it a couple weeks ago when I had time and froze it. It needed a bit of re-spicing and some more vinegar after it thawed, and since it's a very simple sauce, I add chopped zucchini and mushrooms when I reheated it. More garlic or fresh spices or red wine would jazz it up a bit, too. The sauce is a little different from tomato sauce, but an unsuspecting eater probably wouldn't notice until s/he realized it was staining the pasta pink!

Oh and by way of advice, do not make or eat this dish while wearing pale clothing. Then again, chances are you're a neater eater than me.

Other highlights of having Mom come: we wandered around Harvard Square, where we admired (and purchased) a few yummy-smelling lotions and soaps from Lush. Lush's items are all handmande and their website and catalogs (which are in all the stores) clearly label which products are vegan.

We also spent a lot of time in bookstores (there is a bookstore ENTIRELY DEVOTED TO POETRY there!) and the stationers' before heading over to Veggie Planet for brunch! I had waffles for the first time in YEARS and they were incredible. On the way home from Cambridge we went to the Super 88 Market down the road from me and bought many noodles, soy products and hot sauces, which I'm sure I'll feature here sometime.

a long entry. A good weekend.


Sugar kick!

I went out for falafel last night with some friends, which meant I had no leftovers to pack for lunch today. I was running late this morning, so instead of being inventive I threw together a peanut butter sandwich.

But my boss took me out to lunch today! We went to a thai place called the Brown Sugar Cafe, where our waitress was really helpful in regards to figuring out what menu items were vegan. (I had spring rolls and a thai basil stir fry, in case you're wondering, with the best tea EVER... it was orange in color, but I have no idea what it was.)

I finished work STARVING and with no idea what to make for supper. UNTIL I remember my poor dejected sandwich. I stopped at Whole Foods for some fruit - just fruit, I told myself, and ended up splurging on the long-coveted temptation strawberry soy ice cream. I mean, it has fruit in it, right?

Got home and threw together:

Grown-Up PB&J with Red Fruit Salad

DELICIOUS... I couldn't stop myself from taking a bite out of the sandwich before I took a picture ^_^; I'm not going to post a recipe, because all I did was grill the sandwich and add more peanut butter... and strawberries! The fruit salad is pomegranates, strawberries, and banana, with a dollop of strawberry soy yogurt on top.

I definitely prefer to eat pomegranate straight from the fruit, rather than have to pull all the seeds out myself. So much work!

As if that wasn't enough sugar, I wanted to try that ice cream. I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed. When I tried it, I tasted more Peach than Strawberry. At first I thought my tastebuds were screwy, but then I read the ingredients... natural peach flavors. gah... I don't really like peach-flavored things. So this flavor was not a big hit. (The Cookie Dough one is really good, though.)

I melted some dark chocolate and soymilk together to make a quick fudge sauce, which made all my problems go away:

It started to melt into the sauce, so I had to eat it quickly!

tomorrow my mother's coming to visit me, and she doesn't really like sweet things, so I'll be healthier then.


a stew by any other name...

For most of my life, I have hated soups, stews, and chilis. I hated their very soupiness, the fact that everything kinda tastes the same in them, the fact that they are neither entirely liquid (drink) or solid (food). But I love curries. And in some cookbook I read once, the author called curries "Indian stews." I realized I'm just stubborn, and it's all about the flavor of the soup/stew, not the name. So last year I started to try soups, and now I've tried my hand at stew... so I'm acclimating. Expect a (tomato-free!) chili sometime this winter.

I made up this stew last night, and I'm very happy with how it worked out. I'd never made stew before, but a few friends came over for an impromptu dinner and the only veggies I had were root veggies. There are no pictures because I forgot to take photos when I was setting up everyone's plate, and we ate it all! But it was GORGEOUS, all orange and brown and beige, with a nice stewy sauce that serves as a great gravy.

Out of the four of us eating last night, two had never known the wonder that is the rutabaga. In case you, too, are a stranger to the great Neep (scottish phrase), let me give you a brief description:

Rutabagas are like radishes, just less watery. They don't have the same spicy taste - they're more cabbage-y in flavor. They are, in fact, a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. Prepare them like a potato: wash well, cut off outer skin, cut. Bake or boil till tender. Very simple, very stew- or soup-friendly.

Autumn Root Stew
(serves 4 quite comfortably)

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
4-5 cloves of garlic, cut into quarters.
2 -3 large (or 4-5 small) parsnips, sliced
3 large carrots, sliced
1 large (2-3 medium) rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp sage
1 Tbsp thyme
2 tsp parsley
pinch each oregano, rosemary (optional - or whatever spices you like)
1-2 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp miso
salt to taste

In a big pan, saute the garlic, carrot, and parsnips over medium heat until slightly soft and fragrant (5-10 minutes). Add the rutabaga, stir, then add enough water to reach the top layer of veggies - but not to cover. Raise heat to high. Add spices and vinegar. When the stew boils, turn the heat down to medium-high, cover, stir occasionally. Let stew (ha!) for 10-15 minutes. You can use this time to make sure your guests (or you) are comfortable and have enough to drink.

In a cup or small bowl, combine the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup water. Stir well, until all of the cornstarch is dissolved. Add to the pot, cook uncovered and stir often. Over the next 5-10 minutes, the cornstarch will help thicken up the sauce. Once the consistency gets to the thickness you want, dissolve the miso into about 1/4 cup water, then stir into your stew. Remove from heat; serve over millet (or bread or biscuits or... a grain) on a bed of spinach.

Note: An onion would be nice in this, too, but I made Mashed Millet from Christina Pirello's Cooking with Whole Foods, which is very oniony, so I decided against adding more onions to the meal. If you want to add onions, saute them in the beginning with the other veggies.

Fun note: in Scotland, people used to carve turnips instead of pumpkins for halloween. So if you find yourself with a leftover rutabaga, carve it up!

What I Don't Eat Part II

In addition to being allergic to nightshades, I'm allergic to dairy, which is how this whole "vegan" thing came to be. I've been vegetarian since I was 14, but my mother is of Irish descent (ie, milk in everything. also her father was a dairy farmer), so milk was a staple in my house growing up.

I'm allergic to a protein in milk called casein, which is NOT the same thing as lactose intolerance. People who are lactose intolerant can still eat cheese, yogurt, and some small amounts of dairy without a problem. I can't have any dairy or anything that's touched dairy.

I found out about my casein allergy when I was a senior in high school - and from there, it was a gradual 2-3 years as I transitioned to veganism. So you will not find, in this blog, eggs, meat, or dairy.

My little brother is also allergic to casein, AND he's allergic to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and sometimes oats. The chemical makeups of casein and gluten are really similar, so often if you're allergic to one, you're allergic to the other. I've noticed that if I have a lot of gluten in the course of a day, I get itchy and my stomach hurts a little. I'm not going to go gluten-free unless I have to, but I do try to avoid eating too much gluten. So you will also (probably) never see seitan on this blog, and most of my recipes are gluten-free or easy for celiacs to convert.

On with the cooking!


What I Don't Eat: Part I

This is deadly nightshade. It's... deadly.
Nightshades are a family of flowering plants. Not all members of the nightshade family are deadly, but all contain varying amounts of a powerful alkaloids called Solanine. Solanine is poisonous, but occurs in such small amounts in edible nightshades that most people can eat them without experiencing any problems. I am one of those poor souls who can't eat nightshades. I'm too sensitive to the Solanine.

So what are edible nightshades? What can't I eat?




I KNOW. A vegan who's allergic to vegetables? It's a tragedy. I LOVE all those foods, too, and for a while I was able to tolerate them in small amounts... but now the smallest amount I can manage is when I have spicy (ie, contain hot pepper) foods. So no french fries, no tomato soup, no ratatouille or roasted red peppers... sniffle.

The recipes you will see on this blog (and I will put up recipes soon) will not contain nightshades... except maybe the occasional sprinkling of cayenne. I can't help it! I love spicy things.


by way of introduction...

My name is Sarah, and I will be your blogger for this evening.

I'm a recent college grad who's moved from upstate NY to Boston to try her hand at the "real world" for a while. I'm a vegan, and I have a bunch of food allergies. I'm crazy about cooking and am always on the lookout for new recipes... but it's a little hard when I'm allergic to a lot of the foods I see.

I'm always a little sad when I come across great recipes for things that I can't eat. I do a lot of adapting and a lot of "winging it." I'm a long-time reader of various vegan blogs and websites and recently, after a day of making several dishes I'd adapted or completely made up, I thought, man, it'd be great if someone would post this sort of stuff online. And then I realized... I could. So I got off my lazy bum and started this blog!

Stay tuned for recipes for all sorts of foods, reviews of various vegan and organic products, and accounts of eating and living vegan out and about in boston!

Thank you for coming to vegetalion.blogspot.com