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!


such a lazy dinner

For the most part, I try to make every meal a square meal. Especially since I started living with Kevin, I try to make sure that dinners are really well-rounded, because no matter what else we might have eaten (or not eaten) during the day, when we're together we can count on at least one healthy, nutritious meal.

But sometimes when Kevin isn't home, I make less-rounded meals, the kinds of lazy comfort foods I used to have more often back when I was single. These dishes usually involve large portions of chickpeas, or just grilled Daiya cheese sandwiches; they are usually beige and not at all photogenic. Kevin was out of town this whole weekend, so lazy dinners were on my mind:
Roasted broccoli with Daiya shreds and store-bought onion bread. Not the most healthy or square meal, but it just really hits the spot.


Saturday Snack: olives in a pack

I couldn't resist the rhyme in the title.

When Kevin and I went on a recent day trip to Provincetown, we found Cat Cora's Kitchen "snack packs" at 141 Bradford Natural Market. They're just olives and some herbs, sealed in a bag, perfect for snacking.
We got the Kalamata, but there were also green olives with lemon and thyme. Kevin didn't like that they were oily, but I don't mind slightly oily fingers if it means a healthy, filling snack.


taco party taco truck!

There are some good food trucks in Boston, but as a vegan with nightshade allergies, I often can't eat at any of them. So when earlier this week a coworker told me about plans to go to the Taco Party vegan taco truck today, I assumed I wouldn't be able to eat there, either. My coworker suggested I message them on facebook, since they're very active there, to see if there was anything for me... so I gave it a shot. They got back to me on the same day to inform me that the Seitan tacos (without the chipotle crema) and guacamole were safe for me.

So! To the vegan taco truck!
Awful/awesome puns in all the food names? YES PLEASE.

Tacos are $4 each and sides are $3, but you can get a "meal" of any 2 tacos and 1 side for $10. I got 2 Seitanthony tacos and a side of guacamole.
For 50 cents extra, you can get Daiya cheese on a taco--I tried one with and one without. I actually liked the one without Daiya better (less salty), but they were both good. Note that everything the taco truck makes is vegan, but in addition to Daiya, they do have the option of adding dairy cheese to a taco. (So there's some dairy on board, but you would have to specifically request it.)

My coworkers and I are talking about making the taco truck trip a weekly venture. If you live in the Boston area, I recommend doing the same!


the joy of bowls

I've been getting really into bowls lately. Not the actual dishes themselves (though actually I love buying bowls more than any other dishes; they're so pretty and round!). I mean what some restaurants refer to as "Dragon Bowls." They always, on menus at vegetarian restaurants, sound like one of the more boring options: a grain (usually rice), a green (usually kale), a protein (usually beans, sometimes tofu), and a sauce on top. But they're also usually one of the more reliably nightshade-free options at a restaurant, so I have started ordering them more often.

AND LOVING THEM. I have never had a bad Dragon Bowl. Recently I realized it's ridiculous that I don't make them more at home, especially when they're fairly easy to put together, so I've been giving it a shot.

Starting off simple, this bowl has maple-glazed grilled tempeh over sauteed zucchini, carrots, and spinach (basically the first veggies I reached for in the fridge), and rice.

Beans, quinoa, and teriyaki zucchini and greens, all under green goddess dressing. (And, for Kevin, some Indian pickles on top.) We had an abundance of chives this year, so I might have over-chived the dressing.

This one isn't very pretty, but was so tasty: chickpeas sauteed with greens and green beans, rosemary beets, and rice, with a light tahini sauce on top.
To show you that this was actually a pretty meal BEFORE it got to the bowl, here are the beans and beets cooking:
I think one of the things I like best about Dragon Bowls is that I don't have to worry about having strong or distinct flavors as I prepare each element (though that's a nice touch); adding the sauce at the end ties it all together.

What are you favorite things to put on Dragon Bowls? What sauces do you like?


quick smoothie

No time this week, arghhh!

But I always have time for a green smoothie for breakfast. (Not true, actually--when I do make one, I usually make it the night before and then just give it another pulse or two in the blender in the morning.)

This one contains  carrot greens, bananas, and pineapple juice.


peanut curry furikake from just bento

I love rice. I have already established this fact many times on this blog, but in case you were left wondering: I love rice. I'll eat any kind of rice and be happy (though at home I prefer cook with brown basmati or brown jasmine rice). In college, I used to make rice as a snack and just stir in tamari and/or margarine: instant comfort food.

But as much as I love rice, sometimes it can use a little spicing up. This is where furikake comes in. Furikake is a dry assortment of seasonings you sprinkle on rice to add flavor. Gomasio is a type of furikake.

A quick, easy, and so-delicious-you-might-be-tempted-to-eat-it-with-a-spoon furikake that I found recently is Just Bento's Spicy Curry Peanut furikake.
Brown rice with the furikake,  steamed carrots, salad, and teriyaki tofu.
I left out the chili powder (and added a little black pepper) to keep it nightshade free. It's already gluten-free and vegan (some/most furikake have fish flakes, be careful with store-bought types!), and this recipe lasts for ages--weeks--in the fridge. Though if you're a big rice-eater like me, it will probably not be around that long...


appetite for reduction's baked falafel

Just a quick entry tonight, since I am so busy--work job is really picking up. I'm hoping I'll have time to write some substantial entries (with actual recipes, even) over the weekend, but in the meantime, a couple posts on some quick weeknight dinners... since quick weeknight dinners are all I have time for!

I have already written about my love for Appetite for Reduction's Baked Falafel recipe. I especially like it because it's a quick dinner, so I often make it on weeknights. ESPECIALLY if I can find whole wheat pita bread!
There's so much else in this falafel wrap that it's hard to find the falafel. I like falafel with either Isa's Green Goddess dressing (above; the recipe is also in Appetite for Reduction) or some kind of creamy (think Ranch) dressing, but a light tahini sauce is good too.


purple carrots

When any of us think of carrots, the first thing that comes to mind is a bright orange vegetable. But if you do some research into the history of carrots (I know, I'm a dork), you'll find that orange carrots are a relative novelty compared to  the other colors of carrots.

Remember when I wrote about yellow carrots? Until the 1600s, carrots were usually one of two colors: yellow, like I posted about before, and PURPLE.
The lighting is bad here... but these carrots were actually really dark! I got them from my CSA, and had first thought they must be a trendy new breed of carrots. Little did I know it's actually a very old strain!

A little internet sleuthing (supported by the Carrot Wikipedia page) tells me that orange carrots were cultivated in the Netherlands in the 1600s in honor of the House of Orange. Before that, any recipe that called for carrots either had white-ish, yellow, or purple carrots!
They taste just the same as orange carrots, but feel much more historic (ha ha). Here we enjoyed them raw in a salad.


dang toasted coconut

Have you had Dang toasted coconut chips? I LOVE THESE THINGS.
They're just chips of coconut, with sugar and salt. They're lightly sweet, but the sweetness is mostly to enhance the flavor; they're not candy/candied by any means. Each bag is supposed to be 2 servings, which feels about right--even though the bags are small, coconut is filling. You can also use them as a topping for sweet or savory dishes, but I haven't gotten past just eating them straight out of the bag.


True Bistro, my favorite vegan place in Boston

Back in my (now out of date, I know) "Vegan Eating in Boston" post, I wrote this about True Bistro:
Tasty upscale vegan food, and they offer vegan cocktails and wine pairings. While there aren’t a lot of nightshade free options, they do have some, and the waitstaff has been really helpful when it comes figuring out what I could have. Dinners are quite pricy, but they charge average prices for lunch and brunch. (Website here.)
True Bistro is one of my favorite restaurants in Boston, and definitely my favorite veg*n place. The servers are really friendly (though there are always, at MOST, 2, so if things get busy, service can be slow), and the food is consistently great. Kevin and I have been there dozens of times, and of all those times, only once were we not impressed with the food (and it was stuff we'd had before and liked, so it must have been a rare off day for them).

They are incredibly helpful about food allergies, and list gluten- and nut-free menus on their website. As I said above, dinners are pricy, but not overpriced. I don't normally like to order salads when I go out, but I've loved every salad I've had here, which makes me inclined to order them more often!

But my absolute favorite thing to eat at True Bistro is the Cornmeal-crusted oyster mushrooms. I actually think that of the dozens of times I've been here, there have only been one or two dinners where I didn't order these.
They come with a chipotle sauce that is usually on the plate, but because I am allergic, we ask for it on the side so Kevin can still enjoy it. The other sauce is a horseradish-dill aioli that I sometimes just want to eat with a spoon. The mushrooms are always perfectly fried, never overly greasy. They remind me of fried clams, which was my favorite seafood dish as a kid.

The entrees can be a little limited if you're allergic to nightshades, but there is always an option. The menu changes by season, but there are a few regulars like the mushrooms and the Vietnamese Crepe in the back of the picture below. (Gluten free, and nightshade free without the dipping sauce.)
The front dish is a pasta dish with spring peas that I had last spring.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of their desserts for you, but the desserts are great. I especially love the Napoleon with white chocolate mousse. I've always loved white chocolate, and haven't found a satisfying replacement in all my years as a vegan; their mousse is the best vegan white chocolate I've had.

Have you been to True Bistro? If you've been to the Boston area, what's your favorite veg*n restaurant around here?


flour frosting

If you've spent much time around this blog, you might have picked up that I'm not normally a big frosting fan. I almost always halve frosting recipes and still have some left over, since I prefer it used sparingly. When Kevin and I go out to eat and order cake, I usually just taste the frosting and then eat around it. It's usually too sweet, and I don't like the greasy feeling it leaves in my mouth after eating it.

But this frosting has changed my mind. Referred to in old recipes as "boiled flour frosting," it may not sound too appetizing at first (that combination of words makes me want to gag)... but the actual product is AMAZING.
I have made both vanilla and chocolate varieties of flour frosting; the most reliable recipe I have found is located at the Obsessed with Baking blog. Warning: the blog and the recipe aren't vegan, but veganizing it is really straightforward. I swapped Earth Balance (margarine) for the butter, and soymilk for the milk. And it came out beautifully! For chocolate, I added 1/3 cup cocoa powder to the cooking phase and a little over 1/2 cup of melted chocolate chips (cooled) to the mixing phase.

So what's the difference between this frosting and normal frosting? To me, it tastes richer than normal vegan buttercream without feeling as heavy. It's also fluffier. It spreads beautifully, keeps for quite a while, and freezes well. My only suggestion is that when you thaw it from frozen, thaw it in the fridge. Thawing it on the counter on a hot day like I did can make it separate. (Oops.)

Have you ever heard of flour frosting? After I started telling my mother how excited I was to have found out about it, she told me that this is the kind of frosting her grandmother used to make! I love exploring/discovering my roots through cooking, however accidentally.


vegan sorbet at Picco

Last week I started a new job: I am an English instructor at a college here in Boston. I'd been applying for positions like this for a while now, and finally got this job, which is EXACTLY what I wanted. I love my colleagues, I love the school and its mission, I love the students I met during our orientation sessions--I am so happy to be starting this job! It makes doing VeganMofo kind of tricky, since it takes a lot of my time, but I'm hoping I'll be able to keep it up.

Anyway, as you may remember from my Vegan Eating in Boston post a couple years ago (which, I now notice, has since gone out of date--a few of those restaurants have closed! I'll update it again sometime soon), Picco is a a surprisingly vegan-friendly restaurant, and is home to some of my favorite ice cream since going vegan: their dark chocolate sorbet. It's so rich it tastes like ice cream, not sorbet. And the place is right around the corner from my new job! So when I received the job offer, to celebrate, I just walked around the corner, plunked down in a booth, and bought myself two scoops of sorbet: dark chocolate and strawberry.
Celebratory ice cream is the best kind of ice cream!

Today is my first day of teaching classes. Wish me luck!


fava beans

Have you ever had fresh fava beans before? I have had them in restaurants, and have had canned fava beans (which are brown), but until last month I never had them fresh. My friend Michael at the Dazed and Infused blog and I split a CSA share from Waltham Fields Community Farm, a great organization in our city, and they had pick-your-own fava beans for a while. So I decided to try them! They turned out to be more labor intensive than I'd thought.

First, you pick them and bring them home and wash them:
Clean and shiny. THEN you remove the beans from the pod (which is inedible unless it's really young):
But wait! You're not done! The beans have a thick coating that is not pleasant to eat, so you have to PEEL EACH BEAN.
Unpeeled, half-peeled, peeled. It is really hard to peel them raw, so you blanch the beans, then slit the skin, then poke each bean out. And only THEN can you actually prepare the beans.

I cooked them with some garlic, olive oil, and a splash of cooking sherry, then mashed them to top some toast (pictured below with a salad).
They're tasty beans, but I didn't think they were worth all that work! From now on I will probably only buy prepared fava beans, either at restaurants or in a can.


vegan chocolate from Bees Knees Supply Co.

Bees Knees Supply Co. is a gourmet grocery store and deli that opened up right underneath my office this summer, so I had to check them out. I never went through their deli counters, but it looks like they have some sandwiches that could be made vegan, and some snacks that already are there. Their fridges and freezers have some vegan (non-hydrogenated!) puff pastry and canned cinnamon rolls, as well as some vegan pates and such.

But the REAL reason I would go down to Bees Knees during the work day was their CAFE/CHOCOLATE BAR. They have a great selection of teas, coffee, and juice, soy milk (and possibly almond milk?) available for all drinks, and at least one freshly-made vegan chocolate of the day.
LIKE THIS LUCKY CAT CHOCOLATE! It is filled with a raw chocolate ganache. (In addition to the prettier chocolates I'm showing here, they also have raw chocolate truffles with coconut oil rolled in hemp seeds, coconut, or sometimes chia seeds.)
Look at this little chocolate mouse! He's all shimmery! They do such a nice job of making the chocolates pretty there.
This one was called a "peace mouse."
It was delicious.


Vegan Mofo Begins! ...a camping post!

It's the first day of VeganMofo, the Vegan Month of Food! In honor of Vegan Mofo, I'll be posting every day this week with some pictures of, links to, and/or recipes for delicious vegan food.
Check out VeganMofo.com for more information, or to look at blog rolls and check out events and giveaways throughout the month of September.

Just an hour ago, I got home from a weekend camping trip on Lovells Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands. Kevin and I have been to a few of the islands on day trips, but not to Lovells, one of the more secluded islands. So we chose that one for camping!

Lovells Island was used as an outpost in the Civil War,  WWI, and WWII, then was just abandoned until the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation acquired it in the 1950s (it would otherwise have become either a landfill, a fuel outpost, or a nuclear waste depository). The ruins of Fort Standish and various gun batteries are still here, though mostly overgrown.
 ...And you're totally allowed to explore them!

 (Bear with me, pictures of food are coming soon, I just wanted to post some of the cooler things from the island!)


 All this hiking and exploring worked up quite an appetite!
 This was our campsite. We did have a fire in the grill at one point, but we didn't do any cooking this time around.
These St. Dalfour "Gourmet on the Go" meals were awesome camp food! There are 4 different types, but only 3 are vegan, and only 2 are nightshade free: Couscous with Veggies, and Three Bean with Sweet Corn (the 3-bean one is also gluten free). We packed two of each, and alternated the ones we ate for dinner one day and lunch the next. This was the first time we'd tried them, and they're really good for canned meals! They come with a packet of "gourmet culinary sauce," which is basically oil, vinegar, and pineapple juice (kind of weird, but not bad).
Our second dinner was the spinach dal Tasty Bite (for Kevin, obviously) and New Harvest Kitchen's teriyaki mix (for both of us) over kelp noodles; no heating or prep required! This was the first time I had the New Harvest Kitchen stuff; it's a little pricy ~$8 a pack, but I ate less than half and was REALLY FULL. It's soy based (I think the little soy nuggets are supposed to resemble beef chunks?) and gluten free.  Pretty salty on its own, but it would be good with a bunch of veggies added.

Breakfasts were apples and Clif Bars, but I was too sleepy to remember to take pictures in the mornings.
We hung our garbage from a tree branch and jokingly called it our "bunny bag" instead of bear bag. (Lovells was, for a while, a rabbit run, and when later abandoned, was covered in rabbits. The hawk population increased in the last few years... so bunnies are fewer and farther between now.) There are no bears on the island, but there are some rats, so we figured our garbage shouldn't just be lying around.

That concludes my first entry of VeganMofo!  I'll see you all tomorrow with more posts about vegan food... and I'll leave you now with a few shots of the view from our campsite--the Boston skyline!