just in time for winter... picnic food?

This is not the most timely of entries, I know. But I left my camera in New York when I went there over Thanksgiving (man, do I have some awesome month-old pictures of food to share with you that, alas, I can't), so I've been rooting around my old pictures for an "okay, I made this months ago but never posted about it UNTIL NOW" moment.

When I think picnics, I think "what will still taste good cold?" because I generally have to drag everything around for a while before I get to a picnicable time/spot. So back in June, when picnics were possible, I made an Asian-themed picnic!
Starting from the top, going clockwise: Green Tea Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (I accidentally halved the amount of oil, so they sunk, making a nice little bowl for the frosting), Asian Marinated Tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance, my own Cold Sesame Noodle Salad, made with rice and buckwheat noodles (gluten-free!), and last but not least...

Snow Pea Oranges!
These things are cute, healthy finger food. If you ever need adorable hors d'oeuvres, you know what to do. Oh, and this isn't really an ingredient, but you'll also need 20 toothpicks.

20 fresh snow peas*
20 mandarin orange sections
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 1-inch section of ginger, peeled and minced

Bring pot of water to a boil, then dump in the snow peas. Take them out after 1-2 minutes; they should be sorta floppy, but not discolored. Wrap each citrus section in a snow pea and stick a toothpick through it to hold it together. Put in a shallow dish or bowl.

Whisk together the other ingredients in a small bowl; pour over the snow peas and allow to marinate for at least an hour. Store in the fridge until ready to serve!

*- Note: If using frozen snow peas, you don't have to blanch them to make them flexible. Just run them under warm water until they aren't frozen anymore.

Also, jd over at Veggie Terrain tagged me to do this image meme. I think I was supposed to do 10 "this is so me/this is so NOT me" things, but finding that many images was exhausting, so I gave up after 7.

This is so me:
This is so NOT me:

This is so me:
This is so NOT me:

This is so me:
This is so NOT me:

This is so me:
This is so NOT me:

This is so me:
This is so NOT me:

This is so me:
This is so NOT me:

This is so me:This is so NOT me:

Thanks for the tag, jd! I think most other bloggers have tagged each other by now, but if you're a vegan blogger who reads this and hasn't been tagged... You're it!


my rediscovered love of rice

Two years ago, if you asked me what my favorite food was, I would unhesitatingly tell you it was brown rice. I cooked a large pot of brown rice a couple times a week and breakfasted, lunched, dined and snacked on it hot, lukewarm, cold or reheated. Plain, with margarine, with soy sauce, with soymilk and molasses, any way I could get rice to my mouth was a good way.
Then something changed. I make less of it in the summer, and when I went back to cooking rice last fall... I just wasn't enjoying it as much. I assumed, like stir fries and curries and hoe cakes, that my love of rice had been a phase, and that phase had ended. So I've made fewer rice-compatible dishes recently, and have stopped stocking humungous quantities of rice on my shelves just in case I get a rice craving.

Last night, however, I made cauliflower pakoras, and wanted some rice to go with the meal, so I meandered down to whole foods to get some. I usually go for short-grain brown rice, because it is cheaper, lower-calorie and higher in fiber than other kinds of rice, but I decided to splurge and get brown basmati.

And as I ate my dinner (and breakfast and lunch today), I realized: IT WAS ALWAYS BASMATI. I had always liked basmati rice. The switch had been too subtle; I didn't lose my love of rice, I had just stopped buying the kind I liked! So no more bland and boring short-grain brown rice. BASMATI, I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU AGAIN.


(professor) plum cake

I love Clue. I used to play it (the version pictured above) for hours when I was a kid; it was my favorite board game. When I first saw the movie, I was probably 6 or 7 and it quickly became one of my favorites (also high on the list: Splash and The Little Mermaid. We can therefore deduce that in first grade, my main interests were McCarthyism and Mermaids*).
I always had to be Professor Plum. We can analyze my attraction to this character in three ways: 1.) Aesthetic - the purple game piece was the prettiest.** 2.) Romantic - Okay, so he's not attractive, but who cares--I prefer "intelligent" over "good-looking" (case in point: at age 5 I wanted to marry Donatello, the smartest of the teenage mutant ninja turtles). [Who ALSO wore purple!] 3.) A sort of far-seeing Narcissism (my career goal? PROFESSOR).
And in the movie, who should play Professor Plum but Christopher Lloyd, one of my favorite actors (as a child I loved him in Taxi and in Back to the Future because he was so crazy)!

Okay, so I'm getting to the food part. A friend invited me and my boyfriend over to watch Clue, and I wanted to bring a dessert. What, then, could I make to fit a Clue theme? (I'd been thinking Cupcakes with little marzipan Clue weapons, but alas, I loaned out my [roommate's] muffin tin, so no cupcakes.)

And then it hit me.

This is a dense little cake. If you want to make it a little healthier, you can replace up to half the flour with whole wheat pastry, and half the oil with soy yogurt (both work fine) but I wouldn't go much further than half.

1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom
5 Tbsp margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 Tbsp flax meal
6 Tbsp water
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I always use canola
1 Tbsp orange zest (1 orange) - OR - 1 tsp orange extract (but zest is best!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 C plum preserves, stirred around in the jar to loosen them up (see Note at the end of this post if you'd rather use real plums)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 8x8 baking pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, use a mixer to beat the margarine until soft and (I hate this word) creamy (about 2 minutes). If you don't have a mixer, use a fork for a long time. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the flax meal and water and beat for 2 MORE minutes. Add the oil, orange zest, and vanilla, and beat until they are all combined. Now put away the mixer, and STIR in the dry ingredients, until just combined. It'll be a thick batter. Finally, pour the plum preserves into the batter, stirring it ONLY enough to marble it in.

Pour the purply goodness into the baking pan and bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden. I turned mine upside-down and drizzled a light glaze over it (recipe follows).

Simple Glaze
(I actually halved this for my plum cake, but that's because I'm not a big fan of icings)
1 C powdered sugar
1 Tbsp margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp soymilk (vanilla soymilk is especially awesome, or soy nog if you have it--yum)

With your mixer, or a fork if the mixer is covered with plum cake batter, blend the sugar and margarine until there are no chunks of margarine left. Add the vanilla, then add the soymilk one tablespoon at a time - if it seems dry after 2, add the third, and if it's still a bit dry, try another tsp or so. But if it seems runny enough after 2, by all means, stop. Icing can be so finicky. Drizzle over your cake or any other dessert.

Note: I couldn't find fresh plums anywhere, so I used plum preserves. If you actually have plums, you can still make this recipe, but increase the amount of brown sugar to 3/4 cup and either: a.) chop 6 plums into wedges and fold them into the batter in place of the preserves, or b.) cut them into halves and press them into the top of the batter after pouring it into the pan but before baking [google search "dimply plum cake" and you will see what I mean].

*-This gives me a fantastic idea for a movie. Must get to work on a screenplay...
**-Though I was occasionally Mrs. Peacock because the blue was almost as pretty, and SOMETIMES Miss Scarlet because she was the babe of the board game.



I just realized that as of yesterday I have had this blog for a year. Man, I missed my own anniversary! if I'd thought ahead I could've done a commemorative post, but now, on the spot, I can't think of something to post that is representative of my first year's attempts at vegan blogging.

What represents this blog, I thought? Something pretty and classy? Something innovative and interesting? Something complex? Something bizarre and/or frightening? Something with chickens or carved, glowing turnips?

No, I thought. This will have to be a pictureless post. And then suddenly, it hit me. They're a little weird. They're a little sweet, a little salty. They are interesting. And I love them! They are... PICKLES.
But not just any pickles! Exciting pickles from the nearby Babushka Deli. The jar on the left is pickled celery (which is just celery, salt, sugar, and vinegar), and on the right, pickled summer squash (patty pans), pictured in front.

So happy 1 year, everyone. Thank you very much for reading my blog, and I hope you continue to do so!

I didn't invent any of these, but all are awesome

So all of you bloggers and blog-readers may have noticed that I am not participating in "vegan mofo" ("vegan month of food"). I cannot find the time to update every day... but I am enjoying everyone else's posts! My readers should definitely check out some of my favorite vegan blogs (see links at right>>>>>); most of them are participating and doing a great job ^_^

Anyway. Everyone has a tofu quiche recipe. I myself have tried quite a few vegan quiches, some tofu based, some chickpea based, and of all of the ones I've tried, the following recipe remains my favorite. It's not innovative or inventive, and it would never fool someone into believing it is anything other than tofu. But it is simple, easy, and delicious, especially sice you can adjust the herbs and veggies to whatever you're in the mood for or have in your kitchen.
Tofu Quiche

1 9- or 10-inch pie crust
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cups chopped veggies (I like broccoli and mushrooms, but you could go for anything)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs, or 2 tsp dried herbs
1 lb (one block) Tofu
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 Tbsp tamari
1/2 tsp turmeric (for color)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat over to 350.

In a medium pan, saute the onions in the oil until translucent. Add the other veggies and cook until tender.

In a large bowl, crumble the tofu and add the herbs, lemon juice, tamari, salt, turmeric and nutritional yeast (if using). Add more salt/pepper to taste. Stir in the veggies.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust, pressing it here and there with a spatula or the back of your spoon so that it's flat. Bake for 40 minutes, allow to cool for about 5 mins before serving.

Yum! Also in the brunchy/tofu category, my boyfriend made me Tofu Benedict a couple weeks ago! He made a vegan hollandaise sauce and we used the Yves brand of canadian bacon.
I never actually had eggs benedict before I went vegan, so I don't know if it tasted "authentic," but it tasted good!

I'm still on a mission to make every cupcake in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. My only problem is that I am afraid to attempt the filled cupcakes. There are a bunch I can make before I have to get that far, though. Including:
Green Tea Cupcakes (with special thanks to Bazu for helping me find the matcha)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing

Finally, this is not food, but it is also awesome: a picture of the kitty my roommate and I are fostering! His name is Ziggy and he is staying with us until december. I was iffy on the idea of having a cat, even temporarily, but then I met him:


no recipes, but lots of pictures. It's a fair trade.

I've been making lots of stuff from cookbooks these days, so while I don't have any recipes for you today, I DO have some pretty pictures!

In approximate order of healthiness:
Golden Squash Rings from christina pirello's cooking the whole foods way (yum!).

One of my favorite scrambled tofu recipes: Garam Masala Tofu from 101 cookbooks.

Quinoa from eat, drink and be vegan.

Blueberry Carob pancakes from... vive le vegan? One of Dreena Burton's cookbooks.

Cashew butter cupcakes from vegan cupcakes take over the world.

Toasted coconut cupcakes from the same.

Dulce Sin Leche cupcakes, pre-glazing, from -- you guessed it. Nothing will replace the lychee cupcake in my heart, but these came close.

Also, apparently if one leaves a kiwi next to garlic for about a week and then eats said kiwi for breakfast, it will taste a little garlicky and garlicky kiwi will put one a bit off one's breakfast. Just thought I'd let you all know.


filo cups!

I like working with filo. It tends to take a lot of time to make something out of it, but whatever you make ends up in such a cute little package, or crisps nicely when you bite into it - it's worth it. I recently had 4 sheets of filo in my freezer. 4 is not enough to make a pastry of substance. What, then, could I make?

Remember my french toast cups? I have since decided that anything you can bake in a muffin tin is 1000x more fun to eat than something you can't. AND SO:
I was so relieved when these came out of the oven (and then out of the muffin tins!), because I wasn't sure it would work. I've seen them in restaurants, but I always suspect that restaurants use magic in making pastries. You know, like in that scene from Sleeping Beauty, where the fairy godmothers break out their wands to make a birthday cake?

Filo Cups

4 filo sheets
canola/veggie oil for brushing

Preheat the over to 350. Lightly brush the insides of a muffin tin with oil.

Lay one filo sheet on a piece of parchment paper. Lightly brush the top layer with oil, then put another sheet on. Oil that one. New sheet. You get the idea. Oil the top of the 4th sheet, then carefully cut the pile into 12 squares. Place each square into a muffin cup. The edges are floppy, but there's probably a prettier way to arrange them than I did above.

Bake 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven; allow to cool completely before pulling out the cups.

I turned one into a cute little salad cup for lunch:
It reminded me of a cuter, healthier version of those big deep-fried tortilla things some restaurants use for edible salad bowls.

But the other 11 went on to become dessert! Fruit fillings are pretty standard for filo cups, but I had just found a recipe for Vegan Lemon Curd, so I made that!
This is it right off the stove. It's pretty viscous-y; it solidifies a bit further after it's chilled a while. I used arrowroot instead of cornstarch, but it turned out great. So I poured that into the filo cups, added a bunch of chopped strawberries, and voila:
Fruit cups fit for a dinner party!

Warning: Filo cups do not store well; they get stale, or, once filled, they get soggy and lose that fun crispyness. So 1.) make them the day you want to eat them and 2.) once you've made them, EAT THEM ALL.*

*-Enlist friends.


a garden entry (aka a couple ideas for a glut of zucchini)

This is my garden:
It is a basil plant whom I have named Gary Snyder (I name food plants after literary figures). Gary and I have been cooking together for a while now, and I find him to be quite impressive.

But I was lucky to be able to visit my family's homestead in Upstate NY, where my father has raised a much fuller, organic, composte-fed garden:
Parsley, Basil (don't be jealous Gary Snyder), Chard!
Butternut squash!
Buttercup squash!
And oh, wait, what's below all this green stuff...?
Yellow Squash!
And of course, zucchini. That's my father, holding his biggest find yet. His garden makes me wish I had a lawn. Carrying any/all of these things on the train home to boston would've been impossible, but the thought of that zucchini made me decide to work (store-bought) zucchini into every recipe I've made lately, from
a simple chick pea pasta
to (even simpler) veggies covered in peanut sauce (my default "healthy" snack [I make an approximate 2:1 ratio of sauce to veggies])
to Heidi Swanson's Lemon Chick Pea Stir Fry (can you tell I've also had quite a bit of chick peas around lately?).

BUT the [vegan]creme-de-la-creme of zucchini-containing recipes I made lately were my Veggie Gyoza - aka Potstickers!
30-40 dumpling wrappers (thanks, Super 88 Market!)

1 box silken tofu (Mori-Nu, for example)
1 small zucchini, grated
1 small carrot, grated
2-3 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup spinach, chopped or shredded (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1-inch knob ginger, minced
2-3 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar or 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 Cup say sauce/tamari
salt and pepper
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except the wrappers) and stir savagely until it is one big mush.
Take a wrapper.
Put on 1-2 Tbsp of the filling.
Wet the edges of the wrapper with a bit of water. Crease one side of the wrapper so it bunches nicely. Repeat until you run out of filling. At this point, you have three options: 1.) freeze the potstickers for later use. 2.) Steam the potstickers for 10 minutes, or 3.) the more-work-but-more-tasty way: lightly oil a pan and fry the postickers, flat side down, no stirring, on medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, or until slightly browned. Pour 1/4 cup water into the pan, cover it quickly, and cook for 5 minutes, until all the liquid has turned to steam. Serve with a 2:1 mixture of soy sauce and vinegar, with a touch of mirin/sugar (if you like).

I froze about a bazillion of these when I made them, so I'm sure you'll see them again.

And let's be honest, you are all just reading this far because you were hoping for a chicken update. Fear not! The chickens are doing well. The pullets are now full grown, grumpy hens:
And the rooster and old chickens are doing well, though apparently the rooster may have some chickeny version of pneumonia. Poor fellow!
I'll be visiting NY again sometime this month; I'll try to refrain from too much chicken news, but I'll let you know if Rooster's pneumonia clears up.

ALSO, in good news, this whole "quitting the 9-5 to go back to school" thing means I will probably have a little more time to update this blog! Hopefully we'll be back to once a week starting this month.