what to do with a crisper full of turnips

"It was as true... as turnips is. It was as true... as taxes is. And nothing's truer than them." - Charles Dickens

As you may remember from the Halloween Turnip entry, my mother brought me loads of turnips a month ago. Turnips keep practically indefinitely, so I have been slowly working my way through a very full crisper.

At first I tried to highlight the flavor of the turnips:

Pickled Turnips (pictured in the upper left), which, after keeping in the fridge for a while, tenderized nicely. Their sort of daikony taste went really well with the veggie fried rice!

And then:

Apple-Turnip Bake

This highlighted the flavor of the turnips a little too well, and my roommate and I decided we were turnipped out.

But our crisper wasn't.

So I threw them into my favorite kind of soup, figuring it would warm me to turnips again:


I never use a recipe for borscht, but sometime I'll bother to notice the amounts I use and will give it to you. After this meal, I was okay with turnips again, especially because I was down to the LAST TWO POUNDS!

So I made:

Mashed Turnips with Orange Sauce

2 pounds turnips (about 5-6 turnips, depending on size)
2 TB Brown Sugar
1 TB Earth Balance (or other vegan "butter")
1 1/2 cups Orange Juice
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Orange

Peel turnips and cut into cubes. Boil for 20 minutes until they are soft. Drain, mash.

While the turnips are boiling away, combine the sugar, butter, OJ, and salt in a small saucepan. Stir frequently over medium heat until smooth.

Stir the sauce into the mashed turnips, put into baking pan. Top with orange slices. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

It was really tasty. And pretty. And this dish has renewed my faith in the humble turnip.

And now Mish and I have sworn off turnips for... MONTHS. But the moral of this story is that if you are looking for a vegetable that keeps well and can be used in many different dishes, the turnip is your man. Er, veggie.

Oh and they age amusingly, too! I leave you now with the dried, withered, more life-like version of my oogie boogie halloween turnip:

I keep him on top of the fridge.


The Thanksgiving Post!

...a little overdue. But I now have my camera cable back, so there will be pictures! hooray!

Thanksgiving in upstate New York was chilly but lovely. Some culinary highlights:

A Festive Chickpea Tart from VegNews:

Good, very flavorful, and because you puree most of the chickpeas, it was very quiche-y - not especially beany or grainy, so non-veg people liked it, too.

This was my mother's idea: a Sunchoke Salad for those of us who can't enjoy the mashed potatoes (she's allergic to nightshades, too). I'd never had a Sunchoke before (also known as Jerusalem Artichokes).
They're bumpy, swollen root vegetables that look like a cross between ginger and a potato, but have a definite artichokey taste when boiled. I recommend these! Christina Pirello uses them in Cooking with Whole Foods a lot. Here they are boiled and mashed with lots of vinegar, some salt and a dash of dijon mustard.

This is a phenomenon known only to my mother's side of the family: Pea Salad.

Imagine potato salad, but with peas. Peas, celery, onion, vegenaise, and to make up for the lack of egg, I put in silken tofu and a generous pinch of turmeric. No one ever believes me, but it's delicious.

THIS was my triumph of the day:

A Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake from the Fat Free Vegan. It was my first attempt at vegan cheesecake, and it went well. It tasted just like pumpkin pie, and was AWESOME.

There were loads of other Thanksgiving foods in addition, of course - candied sweet potatoes, rolls, salad, corn, mashed potatoes, as well as some foods for the non-vegans, but all you get are the ones I made. It was embarassing enough to be taking pictures of food around my family (they think the whole "me having a food blog" thing is hilarious and nerdy) - I went minimalist.

And finally... our family pets enjoying the leftovers:

they're so cute.

Hope you all had a great holiday!


thanksgiving approaches. without pictures.

so you may be wondering, why hasn't vegetalion posted in a while?

BECAUSE MY SISTER STOLE MY CAMERA CABLE. The one that lets me upload pictures. And I like pictures. ALAS. it will be a photoless entry. My sister came to visit this weekend (the theft was an accident, by the way - it happened when she was packing to leave for home again), and brought with her a lovely diwali gift from my mother - Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World! I have already made some cupcakes from it... but no pictures till later in the week. They'll be worth the wait.

I've seen/heard quite a few vegans hating on thanksgiving recently. Granted, it IS a terrible day for turkeys. And people gorge, especially on rich, unhealthy, unvegan foods. But I have been raised in a very veg*n-friendly environment, and the day is really about having our closest family members sit around our dining room table and talk and laugh, and eat and tell each other their secret ingredients. And then after dessert the adults slowly waddle out to the kitchen table to have tea and talk about all of the relatives and old friends whose names haven't been dropped recently, while the kids split off to play outside or in the cellar or video games upstairs. Hours roll on, and sometimes we break out Scrabble or Pictionary or family videos, and my relatives stay until the first one says, "how did it get to be 8:00?" And they all leave. I love my family, and I love food - the two together are magical.

Plus my mother is an amazing cook and is totally willing to make me vegan pie. ohhhhh the vegan pie.

That said, I don't want to trivialize the mass slaughter of turkeys that goes on for this holiday. Last night I watched the I Am an Animal: the story of Ingrig Newkirk and PETA, an HBO documentary that is totally worth watching no matter what your views on PETA. Though it was not at all the main focus, there was some appalling footage taken at the Butterball factory. Watching it made me think that most people don't ever consider that the basted shape in their ovens started out as a bird - nor do they think about the conditions under which it was raised, conditions to which they would probably object - if they thought about it.

I think hunting is wrong. I do not like or approve of hunting. But I can feel a certain degree of respect for a hunter who hunts for food, because s/he at least sees where their meat comes from, studies how it lives and is actively involved in the process from death to plate. I think the disconnect between food as it grows and food on one's plate is one of the biggest causes of our dietary and animal-rights related issues.

I don't know where I was going with that preachiness. See the documentary, though. And I'll post a Food post on or after thanksgiving, I promise.

oh EW and I tried the hachiya persimmon... it tasted okay but it was REALLY GRAINY, so that it felt like I had a mouth full of baby powder with each bite. I had to throw it out. Stick to the fuyu, people! gah...


fruit is so pretty

I like to start my day with fruit. and when I'm not in a blur of a hurry throwing my stuff together for work, I remember to take pictures.

persimmons, in a sexy soft-focus.

the one on the left is a fuyu persimmon, which you eat when it's firm, like a tomato. The one on the right is a hachiya, which have to get basically so soft they seem rotten before they're sweet enough to eat.

Here's a fuyu:

They look so much like tomatoes that they're a little scary for me to eat. But tasty!

My mother and brother often complain all I ever eat is asian food. And looking over my blog... I see how someone could make that claim. But I eat a variety of foods! In fact, I had a very continental day the other day. A huge pesto pasta (no pictures), thanks to the fresh pesto my roommate made, and then:

Stuffed Button Mushrooms

this is not a great picture. But they were good. Quite savory and garlicky. I'm still refining my ideal stuffed mushroom recipe... so I won't post a recipe. I've tried some from christina pirello's cooking with whole foods, which were okay, and adapted this one from dreena burton's everyday vegan to be nightshade- and gluten-free (used chopped walnuts and mashed rice as a grain/binding agent). But I'm not satisfied yet. I'll keep you posted.

(oh snap! "post"ed. ha!)

my sister's visiting this weekend. my thai for dinner tonight, veggie planet for brunch tomorrow (vegan waffles!!!).


less strange fruit

for breakfast yesterday, I had a dragonfruit!

These BRIGHT PINK, user-friendly fruits are so photogenic!

I'd never had a dragonfruit before - this little guy was another adventure in super 88 produce. The texture and taste resemble kiwi. I should've let it ripen longer - some parts weren't as sweet as others- but I couldn't resist.

And for lunch, some tasty leftovers - cold sesame noodle salad. I improvised a big batch of it for a boston vegan association get-together the night before.

The purple noodles are actually cooked black rice noodles:

Cold Sesame Noodle Salad

Enough Rice Noodles for 4 people
4 Tbsp Toast Sesame oil, divided
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
2 Tbsp Tamari or soy sauce (more to taste)
1/2 cup Edamame, shelled
1 cup Bean Sprouts
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds*
1-2 Tbsp green onion, chopped

Cook Rice Noodles in boiling water until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, stir in 1 Tbsp sesame oil to prevent sticking.

In a small pan, saute carrots in 1 Tbsp sesame oil over medium until just tender.

In a large bowl, combine noodles, carrots, edamame, tamari, and the remaining 1 Tbsp sesame oil. Add bean sprouts only if/when everything else has cooled, then garnish with sesame seeds and green onion. Stick in the fridge until cooled.

*To toast Sesame Seeds:
Put sesame seeds, dry, in a pan over low heat. Shake it around from time to time to make sure they turn over. Remove from heat when VERY LIGHTLY browned. Pale is better than dark - they continue toasting after you've removed them from the heat due to the oils inside. ***WATCH THEM CAREFULLY: they burn really easily, and once they've burned - ew.

and in durian-related news: the majority of things in the freezer either have a faint taste or smell like durian. Some, both. It's the fruit that keeps on giving.


Culinary Adventures

If you remember from my last post, roomie michele and I picked up a bunch of random things from super 88 market. One of which was a Durian:

We saw some in the frozen section and, after a too-friendly guy came up and told us all about how durians taste and smell like a sort of soft cheese, and that they were an acquired taste, we decided to take this five-pound, spiky (painfully so!) monster home with us.

As it was frozen, we left it on the coffee table overnight. When we woke, the whole apartment had a sort of odd, trash-like smell. Like a rotten melon. Our durian had thawed!

We brought it to the kitchen, laid down some newspapers, and took turns attacking it with a large knife.

It's surprisingly easy to cut, once you can get a grip on it. And we laid it upen to find the edible parts looking remarkably like fetuses, or livers, or something I definitely don't eat:

And I haven't mentioned the smell. The once tolerable trash/rotten melon smell had grown stronger. It's a rather indescribable odor, but I'll put my creative-writing-major skills to work here: imagine, if you will, hollowing out a honey dew, stuffing it with sliced onions, then leaving it to rot for a week. Sprinkle with sulphur and you have the smell of durian. The edible part is the fleshy seed coating, so you have to pick around the seed.

This fruit is obscene. The texture is appalling, too. Websites that list it as a delicacy call it "custardy." I would say it's closer to thick snot.

We had two bowls full of durian. We tasted it. IT WAS DISGUSTING. Apparently, there are a few different varieties, and only one can be shipped out of Southeast Asia, home of the durian. And since they smell so terrible when thawed, super 88 market sells them frozen. So there's no way of knowing whether you're getting a good durian or not - some websites I read just now mentioned that there are some unsavory sulphury ones that make you burp a lot - that'd be our little darling here!

Maybe there are tasty durians out there, but even under the sulphury taste, the flavor was still reminiscent of onion-stuffed honeydew. Michele and I realized we couldn't possibly eat this thing, so we removed the seeds and scooped what was left into tupperware to freeze.

EW. But we both believe this terrible thing can be saved. I, for example, was thinking that if we blend it with other vegetables and use it as a sandwich spread, it would not be very unlike a "veggie and chive"-flavored cream cheese. Michele was not convinced.

Anyway it'll be a while before we take it out of the freezer - it took 2-3 hours with our windows wide open to get that terrible stench out of our apartment.

After a long walk outside the stinky apartment, I got my appetite back, so I made myself a thai dinner (in honor of the durian... but durian-free):

baked rama tofu and fresh spring rolls! (with dipping sauce)

I made my own sauces, but next time I'm going to just use peanut sauce (for the tofu) from a jar. Faster. The dipping sauce is mirin, rice vinegar, and tamari.

Spring roll ingredients: snap peas, bean sprouts, basil, grated carrots and daikon radish.

The daikon was a little overpowering, but enough sauce helped drown it.

Moral of this story: durians are gross.


more groceries, less cooking

My roommate and I went to super 88 market today, because I haven't been there enough in the past week. and we got:

there will be posts about most of these foods sometime in the future.

Went to Bagel Rising with some of the BVAers for lunch today, then roommate Michele had a dinner party tonight! She made a yellow thai curry with shrimp, but reserved a vegan portion for me:

My portion was also red-pepper free, but it was in a smaller, separate pot from this one and didn't photograph as well. And then we had haagen daas sorbets afterwards - not all of which are vegan, I will tell you (treacherous sorbets!), but the coconut IS and is delicious.

The moral of this story is: I have not cooked today. Although I made rice to go with mish's curry. So I leave you with a pretty little picture of soap suds in an olive oil bottle from when I was doing dishes.

I will write a VERY INTERESTING entry tomorrow. I promise.


Happy Diwali!

Today is Diwali! I didn't really do much to celebrate other than make mithais...

Carrot Fudge:

Carrots, soymilk, agave syrup, earth balance, some cashews. I'm playing with ratios, so no recipe yet.

I'm used to this being a pastel orange color, like sherbert - but since soy milk is not the same pristine white that milk is it's beigey. Next time I am going to try half soy, half coconut milk.

I also made a date roll that turned out to be SO HUMUNGOUS and unwieldy that I refuse to post a picture. but that was tasty, too.

AND since it was my last day at this particular temp job, I made COOKIES for my co-workers:

I was inspired by the pictures on what do vegans eat? of the post-punk kitchen's jam cookies, so I made my own. DELICIOUS. And everyone at work gobbled them down, almost spoling our appetite for SUSHI - my boss took us out to lunch in honor of my last day!

and then, to make it an even MORE festive diwali, I went out with two friends from the boston vegan association to My Thai Vegetarian Cafe and Bistro, where we ordered loads of food and shared it all - I LOVE hanging out with other vegans! and their german chocolate caramel coconut cake... INCREDIBLE. And then we wandered around super 88 market for while, because no night out is complete without ending up grocery shopping. A good night. ^_^



sorry I haven't posted...

I don't get sick very often, but when I do - oh man. I had a fever earlier this week, from which I'm just now recovering. It would have been quicker, I suspect, if I hadn't been going to work each day - but as a temp, I don't really get time off unless ABSOLUTELY needed, and jobs can be sporadic enough that I don't want to take it off unnecessarily - I was able to sit up for long periods of time, which is all I really need to do at work.

As a result, my food situation has been less than thrilling. Mostly, I've been eating mush - applesauce, leftover rice mashed into oblivion, bread soaked in soup, bread pudding a la urban vegan (delicious recipe, TERRIBLE idea when sick - chocolate made me queasy)... my roommate made a sick-gal-worthy lentil soup on monday, though, and I ate a lot of that. She's a winner.

This is a staple for when I'm not feeling well:

I get the "lite" version because it's the only kind without sugar. The sugary ones remind me of sports drinks. (Ew.) This makes water taste like seltzer with lime. It helps me to get better quicker, and if I ever think I'm getting a cold, a pack or two of this a day makes it go away before it gets too serious. Plus... B vitamins!


a blog by any other name...

When I told my mother my blog title, she told me not everyone speaks French, so not everyone will get it. She said I ought to explain it. I dismissed this idea because I dismiss a lot of my mother's ideas before realizing she's right. (Don't tell her I said so.) But recently a couple people have asked me about it, and stumbled over trying to pronounce it because - surprise - not everyone speaks French. So:

The French word for vegetarian is vegetarien.* The french word for Vegan is Vegetalien.* I love lions. And so - Vegetalion.* It's a subtle difference in pronunciation, making my username a play on words. It's cute, really. I swear.

and because I wanted to relate this post somehow to food, a marinated-then-baked tofu, kale, and roasted sweet potato meal roomie Michele and I made last week:

*- there are actually accents above the Es in these words, but I don't know eough html to insert accents.


Dia de los Muertos!

Mexico's dia de los muertos is my perfect holiday. Lots of eating, particularly sugary foods; lots of skeletons decorating everything; lots of time with your family (living and dead); lots of hanging out in cemeteries. Um... IDEAL. It's also a nice way to extend the general joy I associate with halloween.

It's traditional to have tamales on the dia de los muertos, but I did not want to deal with corn husks, so I made:

Sweet Bean Tamale Casserole
This bean recipe, with but with refried black beans, 1/2 cup kidney beans, and a generous sprinkle of cumin and garlic powder.
a thin layer of chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1/2 cups each chopped green onions and sliced olives
1 cup cornmeal mixed with 2-3 cups water, boiled and stirred until it forms a thick paste. Mix in chili powdwer and salt to taste.
Serve with vegan sour cream and - if you're not allergic - salsa.

It does not come out of the pan very prettily. but it's muy delicioso.

After that, the traditional Pan de Muerto! Most translations call it "bread of the dead," but how much better is it to say Deadbread? So hardcore. Deadbread usually consists of one large loaf, with two strips in an X and a round ball on top. Somehow, this represents bones and a skull. It's FASTER to make rolls, though, so:

Deadbread Rolls

1/4 cup soymilk
1/4 cup earth balance spread (or other vegan butter)
1/4 cup sweetener
replacement for 2 eggs - see note
1 tbsp anise seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (or 2 1/4 tsp) yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2-4 tbsp maple syrup, to glaze

Scald (but don't boil) soymilk in a pan on the stove. Stir in butter, sweetener (I used agave nectar), egg replacement (see note), salt, anise seeds. Set aside.

Stir yeast into warm water until dissolved. Let sit 5 minutes, then mix into soymilk/seed mixture.

Gradually add the flour, mixing well until you have a stiff dough. Knead on a floured surface until it is uniform throughout. Roll into a ball, put in a floured or greased bowl under a dishcloth in a warm place for 60-90 minutes.

After that time is up, the dough will have almost doubled in size. Push it down (it makes a satisfying "poof" noise), knead it a bit, then shape into balls slightly smaller than a fist. Use dough to make long, thin snakey bits of dough that you can cross over each roll - these are the "bones" - and crown each one with a little ball - the skull.

Put on a greased baking sheet, then leave them alone again to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Just before baking, glaze each one with a bit of maple syrup. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Mine were a little too golden because "the Office" was on.

Makes 8 rolls.

***NOTE: my favorite vegan replacement for eggs is a flax seed/water mixture. It works really well for binding and rising and is very simple: boil 1 tbsp flax seeds and 3 tbsp water (this is the equivalent of 1 egg) over medium-high heat until the mixture is the consistency of eggs (or boogers). Voila! The only problem with this is that there will be whole flax seeds in your final product - something I like but my father HATES. I hear you can also do this with flaxMEAL with the same proportions - and you don't even have to heat it up.

Here are our rolls, some marzipan skulls I made while waiting for the bread to rise, and brown-rice Horchata:

Dia de los muertos: SUCCESS!



I almost forgot! Happy World Vegan Day!

To celebrate, look up some info on veganism and eat something spectacular (vegan, of course. check out the links to other blogs and websites to the right for inspiration).

I'm clearly a celebrity. A celebrity full of turnips.

Look! I wrote a letter that the Weekly Dig published. It looks much less impressive on the website than it is in the magazine, I swear. So go get a copy (it's free). It's a bit of a long story - the Dig published a food compendium about where to eat around boston, and the boston vegan association co-founder eric prescott wrote a response. Some guy wrote a jerky response to eric's letter... so I responded. (As did eric, as you can see in the link.)

Anyway. Food. A couple nights ago, my roommate and I made miso soup with kale and mushrooms:

The best part about making a lot of this soup is that you can have it for breakfast the next day!

The tofu we used for this was Ithaca Soy tofu, which is such a small company that they don't have a website. You can't really get it too far from the source, but if you are EVER IN UPSTATE NY, (especially at my mom's natural food store ^_^ ) BUY THIS TOFU. It holds together better than any tofu I've ever used, and has a really nice, firm, chewy texture.

Also in tofu review, last night my roommate and I ate "Nature's Wonder Soya Sausage," which is also so obscure that i can't find a link to post here. I got it at Super 88 Market - it was a rather unappealing, lumpy log in the package, but we braved it anyway (it was organic and made of tofu - how could it go wrong?). We baked it with some spices sprinkled over top, and the skin hardened so it was sorta crispy. It was good!

The moral of this story is that, unlike what a seventh grader (who had never actually had tofu, it turns out) told me on tuesday, Tofu is Not Gross.

Also, I tried the pickled turnips - they were pretty good, but next time I think I'll blanch the shavings first - still a little too crunchy.

and I still have about 50million turnips and rutabagas in my fridge. More turnip recipes soon. Maybe I'll do ONE HUGE turnip entry. and then no more turnips for me - I'm afraid of turning into one!