we interrupt this broadcast for special news bulletin

Bad news: My laptop attempted suicide last weekend and work is much to hectic this week for me to post anything.

Good news: My tech-savvy brother is visiting me this weekend and he will fix said laptop. Expect a post on Sunday!


zombie pancakes! (aka sweet potato latkes)

Did any of you ever play the Sega Genesis/Super NES game Zombies Ate My Neighbors?*
It was a random spoof on almost every horror movie you can name, and it was a fun video game. My brother and I used to play it together. There was one level where alien meteroids crashed into earth and made odd purple plants grow all over the ground that can kill you unless you have a weedwacker to drive them off.
Not the best picture,* but those purple plant thingies were really frustrating.

A little while ago I found a sweet potato that had been hiding, forgotten, in a box. Strange purple growths?!
A ZOMBIE YAM! It was GIANT, too, which clearly means it had plans to take over the world.

Yes, I know, to follow to logic of the video game, it would technically be an alien meteroid (in fact, the meteroids were reddish orange... like sweet potatoes...?!), but I like zombies better than meteroids. So of course I had to use it in SOMETHING.

I fished through many cookbooks for a savory sweet potato pancake recipe, but I couldn't find any simple (ie, without a million ingredients), nightshade free latkes. So I made one up!

Zombie Pancakes (aka Sweet Potato Latkes)
(serves 2 easily, doubles or quadruples or does whatever you need it to do well [ie, does your bidding, like a true zombie])

1 small onion or large shallot
1 humungous zombie yam or two smallish yams
1/4 C chickpea flour (or normal flour - see note)
1/2 cup water
generous pinch each salt and pepper
1-2 Tbsp oil (for frying)

Chop the onion or shallot into tiny pieces. Be careful not to cut yourself, as once a zombie [yam] smells blood, you're toast. Wash the yam carefully, to remove any sort of dirt it might have drudged up with it from the grave. You don't have to peel it unless you want to remove undead growth. Grate the yam. It will probably fight back, or look at you poignantly to try to remind you that it was once a loveable yam, but it's all a ploy to stop you from eating it. Once you've grated the yam, you're safe from any zombie contamination.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. If it seems too watery, add some more chickpea flour. It it seems too dry, add more water. Form into palm-sized patties.

Heat a small amount of oil (probably about 1-2 tsp per batch of latkes, depending on the size of your pan) over medium heat. Cook the latkes until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.
You can serve these in multiple ways. The one in the back left has soy sour cream and dill (WAY recommended), the one on thr right has soy sour cream and garam masala - you could also serve them with chutney. Or gravy. Or ketchup. Or vegan tartar sauce. Some people like maple syrup on even their savory pancakes but that kinda grosses me out. People like that are probably zombies.

Note: You can probably use normal flour in place of the chickpea flour. I like chickpea flour because I wanted to make this gluten free, plus it adds a sort of "eggy" taste and binds better than wheat flour. But it's not necessary.

*- I do not claim any sort of rights to Zombies Ate My Neighbors. I didn't create it or any of the images associated with it. I just played it a lot. Don't sue me. Or I'll sic my sweet potato on you.


I do eat food other than cupcakes

...but this is a valentine's day post, and v-day is a day that MUST be filled with chocolate and pastel pink:
More on this little fellow later. First I need to post a REAL recipe, something without sugar, so you believe me.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine studied abroad in Ghana. She visited many West African countries while she was over there, and spoke pretty highly of many of the dishes she'd tried there. I've since veganized a few - though you haven't seen them (yet), I make mean ghanian groundnut veggies and a decent senegalese stew. I love the spice combinations in North African food: Moroccan, Algerian, and Egyptian dishes are great. Pretty much all of the African cuisine I've tried, I like. But when my roommate's sister spent several months in Tanzania recently, I realized I have no idea what is typical of eastern African cuisine. So I looked ut up! and found a great website called the African Cookbook. It's not very vegan, though. So I veganized and adapted a few of the recipes, and have found one I really like.
Tanzanian Braised Cabbage
(serves at least 4 as an entree, 8 as a side)

1-2 Tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large head of cabbage (2 lbs-ish), roughly chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp salt
cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
3/4 cup veggie broth or water
1/4 cup tamari
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks (optional)
1 handful of spinach or other such green, roughly chopped (optional)

In a large pan, saute the onion over medium heat in the oil until transparent. Add the cabbage, spices, and salt. Saute until the cabbage is slightly tender, about 10 minutes. Then add the veggie broth, tamari, and optional carrots. Cook until the cabbage is soft, at least 10 more minutes. Adjust spices to taste. Once the cabbage is at the tenderness you want (I like mine pretty darn soft), remove from heat and stir in the optional spinach.
(Pre-spinach. I made a half-batch because my cabbage was tiny.)

Serve over rice, millet, or, if you want it to be a one-dish meal, add a little extra water and serve it in a bowl with glass noodles! (aka bean threads, starch noodles, vermicelli, worm noodles, or cellophane noodles, available in asian food stores, natural food stores, or the specialty aisle of a normal grocery store)
I love these things because 1) they are made from bean starch (you can also get ones made from sweet potato starch, but they smell awful. Taste okay, smell awful), so they are pretty much free of EVERYTHING and 2.) all you have to do to prepare them is let them sit in hot water for a few minutes.

Okay, healthy food aside: HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! My coworker had a delicious vegan potluck dinner, and my contribution (surprise) was CUPCAKES! I really wanted to try the Red Velvet cupcakes from vegan cupcakes take over the world, but I don't believe in food coloring, and as I made them around midnight last night, I was too tired to bother to make my own. I used a bit of beet juice in the batter, but it wasn't strong enough to cover up the cocoa powder:
Though not red, they were a little paler than chocolate cupcakes would be. These cupcakes had a really light texture and rose quite a bit in the over.
Gorgeous! I made a little Earth Balance, Soymilk (colored with beets), powdered sugar glaze and topped them with pecans, which sort of resemble hearts, right?
OH but do you want to hear a cupcake-related (well, sorta) tragedy? I had a nasty nightshade reaction (ie, a rash)to something I ate in NYC this weekend, but I wasn't sure what. After reading my last entry, my mother asked, "didn't the babycakes desserts make you sick?"
"Of course not," I said. "Why would it?"
"There's potato starch in it."
"No there's not," I told her. "I asked the workers if there was potato starch in anything and they said no."
She pointed me to the babycakes website, where they say all of their frostings have potato starch. On one hand, it was good to know whence my rash came. On the other hand - the spacy hipster babycakes employee BETRAYED ME. So I rescind some of my babycakes review. Really good taste, slightly less allergy-friendly than they advertise, especially because the employees don't actually know what's in their products...

That's why I bake so many cupcakes of my own. Because NO ONE ELSE'S ARE SAFE. : /


sweet treats! and NYC

...in approximate order of healthiness.
Did you know that the plural of Mango can be either mangos or mangoes? I can't decide which I like better.

I have this problem with recipes that involve mango: I eat the fruit before it makes it into a recipe. BUT last week I had a delicious mango one night, then went to Whole Foods the next day and - organic mangos on sale for $1.50 each! That is a humungous bargain. I had to buy one, though I had been sated the previous day on fresh mango. Finally, an opportunity to use one in a recipe! I've always been a bit jealous of omni friends who order huge thick mango lassis when we go to Indian restaurants, so this was a necessary modification:
Super Easy Mango Lassi
Serves 2

1 Mango
1/2 cup soy yogurt*
1 cup soymilk*
1 Tbsp Agave**
1 pinch cardamom

Peel the mango, cut the fruit away from the seed, and chop the pieces. Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until it's smooth.

*-Or rice yogurt/milk, or almond milk, or whatever floats your mango boat. Do they have mango boats like they have banana boats? Oh man, the image of a boat full of mangos... Anyway, if you don't have non-diary yogurt, you can use more soymilk - it just won't be as thick.
**-Or sugar, or whatever sweetener you're into these days. OR, if you use a sweeter brand of non-dairy yogurt, you can omit the sweetener altogether.

A little less fresh, but still fairly healthy:
Banana Bars
I had a flatmate once who wanted to make brownies but realized we didn't have any chocolate, so she used bananas and we called them bananies. I adapted a recipe from sarah kramer's la dolce vegan.

And finally, for NEW YORK CITY sweets: I WENT TO BABYCAKES!
I bought spelt cupcakes, though there were gluten free options for each kind. Pictured, from left to right: Lemon, Red Velvet, and Chocolate. I swear, I didn't eat all these myself. In fact, I didn't eat any of them - I gave them to friends and made them let me try a piece of each. The chocolate was incredible, the lemon was reallllly good, and the red velvet was okay, but I didn't really know what it was supposed to taste like anyway. I'm not usually a big fan of frosting, but their frosting is creamy and smooth and sweet but not obnoxiously so. And I ate a lot of the frosting, as I DID buy myself a frosting-filled cookie sandwich:
Babycakes uses unrefined sweeteners: mostly agave, but some unrefined sugar, too. Check out their website for a list of the amazing breads and brownies and cookies. I had one of their biscuits, too, which was not sweet, but that was while I was at the bakery and I ate it before I could take a picture. It was delicious.

I'm afraid those are the only pictures I took of my food in NYC, but I DID eat out at the Candle Cafe ("organic and vegan? Oh, honey, that's us," my mom said wistfully when I told her about the trip). I'd heard mixed things, but I went there twice over the course of the weekend and LOVED it. I went there with my friends Janet & Angry Jenny, who are omnis. They loved their meals, too! The Mezze Plate was a great starter, and Paradise Casserole was really simple and hearty. The Chocolate Mousse Pie was one of the best desserts I've had. And that's really saying something, as I eat a lot of desserts... Janet ordered the homemate mocha (soy) ice cream, but they were out, so she got another kind - and then our waiter came back later with a free bowl of the mocha on the house, ebcause he'd found it and felt bad he'd lied to us!

I went back with other friends two days later and had the Pumpkin-Seed Crusted Tofu, which was very good, though the quinoa salad underneath it was kinda boring. Had the pie again, and my friend Greg tried the homemade pumpkin ice cream, which was awesome. I have to start making my own ice cream!

no, wait, no, the last thing I need is ice cream any time I want it.

I went with another friend to Red Bamboo. I wasn't a huge fan of this place, but it's vegan Soul Food, and soul food isn't a very nightshade-allergy-friendly cuisine. The menu is almost entirely meat analogs, which is another strike against them in my book. We split the soy chicken satay skewers, which were really rubbery. They had a good charcoal-grilled flavor, though, and came with a tasty peanut sauce. My friend had the eggplant parmesan and was not impressed. I had the soy salmon with a ginger teriyaki sauce that I never really tasted. The food was really heavy, so we were too full for dessert, which is apparently really good here - maybe that could've made up for an otherwise so-so meal.

I also went to Souen, a macrobiotic restaurant by Union Square. Also organic, and since its macrobiotic - nightshade free! I went with two co-workers, and though we all found the desserts here to be lacking much in terms of flavor, the entrees were worth the visit! I had the generously portioned Chickpea Croquettes with miso-curry sauce and roasted squash. I'm melting a little bit just thinking about it, and my co-workers had the carrot leek soup (in a HUGE bowl) and the stuffed pita. I'm definitely hitting this place again when I'm in NYC.

There are still so many places I didn't get to... I'll have to go back again soon!


a superbowl spread

I never really watch the Superbowl, but I've never missed one. That is, every year, I end up in a room with people who are watching it, sometimes even voluntarily. I'm not a big football fan, but I always seem to be surrounded by people who are. My father, for example, my brothers, my friends and now my roommate, who is a HUGE Patriots fan. So when roommate Mish suggested a superbowl party - what's more, an all-girl, potluck (snacks) superbowl party - I could not refuse!

Here's what we provided:
All vegan! What guests brought (not pictured): ice cream (vegan [thanks S!] and diary), vegan lentil koftas (thanks Lo!), a fruit plate, hummus, dried lychees and candied ginger. (Also not pictured: Mish's famous non-vegan pizza.)

We had chips of all kinds (corn chips, all-natural triscuit equivalent [Quilts!], Mish's amazing homemade pita chips), so we needed some dip to go with it. Hummus and salsa are standard, of course, but we also had Veganomicon's Curried Carrot Dip:
I was worried "Curried Carrot Dip" would sound a little too foodie/vegan for our guests, but everyone dug right in. This was a big hit! and since I am obsessed with carrots, of course I loved it. I used some of the leftovers for a tasty sandwich spread earlier this week.

Mish has a super-decadent, VERY not-vegan Williams-Sonoma Dessert Cookbook, in which every recipe calls for approximately 5 cups of butter and 10 eggs. She kindly veganized (earth balance and flax seeds - hooray!) the chocolate chocolate chip recipe:
("I really did it just so I could be on your blog," she joked.) I ate four that day.

And because one dessert is not enough: pineapple right-side-up cupcakes from vegan cupcakes take over the world!
I used almost entirely whole wheat flour for this recipe, and the pineapple I used didn't have a lot of juice in the can, so the cupcakes came out pretty squat and dense:
But needless to say, they were delicious.

I even used what was left in the blender after making the recipe to make a little pineapple-soyyogurt smoothie!

Finally, I will actually post a recipe for you. I am a big fan of Cracker Jack, but not a big fan of high fructose corn syrup or all the pesticides involved in producing non-organic peanuts. So I have come up with a solution to this problem:
Cracker Jack-y Popcorn
(makes a pretty big bowl)

For the Popcorn:
1/2 C popcorn kernels
1 Tbsp olive oil

For the Topping:
3 Tbsp peanut oil
1/3-1/2 Cup Molasses, depending on how much of a molasses fan you are.
1/4 Cup agave (or sugar)

1/2 cup Shelled Peanuts

Heat the oil and popcorn kernels in a large (6-quart) pan over medium heat, partially covered. Once the kernels start to pop (1-2 minutes later), cover all the way and shake continuously until most of the popping stops. Remove from heat, keep covered until all popping stops. This whole process takes maybe 5 minutes.

Now make the topping! In a small pan, combine all topping ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir for about 30 seconds after it has reached a boil, then remove from heat. Pour over popcorn and mix well! Add optional peanuts now if you so desire, then let it cool for a few minutes before serving, stirring occasionally.
I am off to New York City for a work meeting thing this weekend - I'm going to try to hit up as many vegan restaurants as I can. Wish me luck!


oven-roasted celeriac fries!

I had never had celeriac (celery root, or, my favorite: the rastafarian turnip), so when I saw it available organically grown at Whole Foods, I decided to take my chances! Most recipes call for it to be boiled in soups or stews, and often pureed, but I wanted my celeriac to be naked - I wanted to see what it tastes like by itself. So after peeling it (which was a rouch job) and cutting it,
I sprinkled a little bit of curry powder and olive oil on it and roasted it in a 350 oven for about 40 minutes.

It only slightly tastes like celery. I kinda thought it was turnippy, but we all know how obsessed I am with turnips. It could've roasted longer (or at a higher temperature? I'm all for really hot ovens), but it was tender enough. Yay for celeriac wedges!

And what is that mysterious sauce with which I ate them, you ask? a gift from my mother:
Nomato Tomato-free ketchup!

Nomato is night-shade free, gluten-free, mostly organic, and pretty tasty. Its main ingredients are Carrots, beets, and onions. (There are more ingredients but I don't have the bottle with me as I write this.) You could've easily convinced me it had tomato in it, but it resembled ketchup neither in taste nor in texture. It tasted like and had the consistency of a not-spicy, pureed salsa. It was a little odd with the celeriac but I had some with the empanadas from last week's entry and the flavors suited each other perfectly.

Sometime I will make nightshade-free ketchup, just to prove I can do it better than the nomato people. But in the meantime? Nightshade-free french fries and ketchup craving SATISFIED.