Supper and the Single Girl

Vegan Meals and Random Thoughts

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm back

Iknow it's been a long time, and I will explain after I tell you about this new dish I discovered tonight. I saw a link for tofu recipes on my MSN homepage, clicked it, and found a recipe called Spice-Crusted Tofu. It's really simple--tofu dredged in coriander, cumin, and paprika, then sauteed, and then drizzled a sauce of boiling water, lemon juice, and honey. But since I don't use honey, I subbed agave nectar instead. Agave is a little thinner than honey, but just as sweet, and I think the next time I get a cold (right about when it starts getting cold), I might try agave nectar in my hot tea instead of brown rice syrup (which has the texture of honey but is not nearly as sweet). I also didn't have the pine nuts the recipe calls for, but I did have some slivered almonds, and I used those instead. I heated up some leftover pilaf (a box mix from Seeds of Change) and some frozen haricot verts, and as soon as I get done with this, there's a carton of Purely Decadent Pomagranate Chip calling my name.

I guess it's been mid-July since I posted. I turned 39, attended the Taking Action for Animals conference the next week, went out of town to visit my family where we celebrated my grandmother's 90th birthday, what else? I've had a bit of a health crisis the past couple of weeks, and I have not felt like cooking anything blogworthy, much less actually blogging. It began with some mild chest pains, so I eventually went to the emergency room, had a bunch of tests, including two EKGs, which all came back normal (thank goodness). They took blood from me three times! They had to take it from my lower left arm after one vein on my outer elbow area did not cooperate, and the bruise has finally faded. Can I just say that being in the hospital sucks out loud and in stereo? After all my tests were done and the docs were saying I could probably go, I waited hours for them to spring me. A doctor had to take the IV needle (pro forma when someone's on a cardiac monitor) from my arm after it was clear I probably wouldn't need it.

A nurse friend says that when patients my age have chest pains, it's usually GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and my internist, who I just started seeing before all this happened, also thinks it might be that. I'll know the results of the last test, an upper GI scan with barium (ick!), for sure on Tuesday. If it isn't, I don't know what I'm going to do.

But I figured it was time to start blogging again, even if what I cook isn't the most exciting stuff on the planet. Heck, I should write about this new line of analogues from Germany called Viana. It's truly awesome stuff. Both Vegan Essentials ( and Pangea ( carry the six varieties: Chickin Fillets (delicious! My favorite!), Chickin Nuggets (they're decent--get them for kids), Cowgirl Veggie Steak (needs something with it for flavor), Spicy Veg Kabob, Cevapcici (Yugoslavian sausage), and Veggie Gyros, the latter three I haven't tried yet. They use mostly organic ingredients and ones you can pronounce, too! The stuff is pretty easy to cook; I just toss it in a frypan for about five minutes total, and it's done. It also looks very much like the image on the box, always a good thing.

So if you're looking for a new analogue, check out Viana. Yes, it's kind of expensive, but it's worth every penny.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Veganizing is so much fun!!

Okay, I got a little overenthusiastic there. But I do love taking cruel recipes and making them animal friendly. If you make your own seitan--and as I've said before, I recommend that you do--you can adapt just about any recipe that calls for boneless pieces of meat by using seitan. So I dragged out my American Heart Association cookbook, found a recipe for rosemary turkey with mushrooms. The only changes I made? Instead of turkey, I used seitan. Instead of chicken broth, I used vegetable broth. And since I was out of the shallots the recipe called for, I used half an onion. Oh, and since I didn't have cornstarch, I used arrowroot instead. I made the Seeds of Nature Seven Grain Pilaf, heated up some frozen green beans and had myself a tasty little dinner. Depending on how the leftovers go (sorry to say, but sometimes it's best when it's freshly cooked), I may just make this again. It would go best with a grain pilaf instead of potatoes, so I'll have to make another make some more.

And if you don't subscribe to Ms. magazine, check out the latest issue. In the banging-my-own-drum category, I had my letter published. Their last issue, in the spring (it's a quarterly magazine), had an article on global warming. After reading the articles, I was chagrined to see there was no mention of how what we eat affects the state of the planet. I found several big stats that would hopefully make people think and fired off a letter. Sadly, most of those stats were excised, but I'd like to think my point will get across to the readers. When I checked the website early this week--it just came out on the newsstand Monday--the new issue hadn't yet been put up. But, really, buy the magazine. Better yet, consider subscribing!

And when you see an article in a magazine or newspaper that affects you, that angers you, or an issue comes up that you feel needs to be addressed, write a letter to the magazine/paper. If you don't feel confident about the letter, get a friend to review it before you send it off. And even if your letter doesn't get published--and many letters I've written haven't, although a handful have in various magazines on various issues--editors (hopefully) have taken your views into account. I have read that for every letter the newspaper or magazine receives, there are dozens of people who feel the way you do.

So get writing!

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Miss me?

I've been rather busy the past few weeks. I have started taking classes in American Sign Language at the local library, and I love it. It turns out a number of people I know have some knowledge of it, and almost eveyrone I know thinks it's pretty cool that I'm learning it. One of the women in the class pointed me to a website that has video of the signed word, which helps, but I would really love a site that not only had a person doing the signing, but an indication of what handshape, where you start, and the motion you use to make the sign. Sometimes the signer goes too fast, and I have to play the thing over and over. I keep a dictionary with me at all times and will look up random words while riding Metro. I don't know that I'll ever be good enough to be an interpreter, but if I can communicate with other deaf people--and there are a number of deaf and hard of hearing in DC--that will be a plus. I just wish I could get my boyfriend to learn, but oh, well.

This means I haven't had much time to cook, as the class is twice a week, and while it's supposed to be an hour, it frequently runs over. Not that I mind. I seriously want to learn. I will also be attending ASL Meetups if I can and trying to find fellow ASL newbies to practice with me to keep our knowledge and skills.

But never mind that--you probably miss my cooking, right? I recently discovered that there is a little farmer's market near my office building every Thursday. One day I saw a vendor with green tomatoes, and I knew I had to get some. However, I had plans for that evening and didn't think it would be practical, so I decided to wait. Last week, even though I had plans, I bought a bag of green tomatoes. I wanted to cook fried green tomatoes at some point! Warning: if you do buy green tomatoes, cook them the very same day. Even three days later, they've ripened quite a bit, much to my dismay. But I dipped them in soy milk, dredged them in a mix of flour, paprika, salt, and pepper, and then fried them up. I made a simple gravy from The Dirty South (which has another Southern-style vegan cookbook, Hot Damn and Hell Yeah on the other side), and then dredged some tofu in a mixture of flour, sage, pepper and powdered garlic. Mmmmm, gravy. The tomatoes were juicy, tart, and crisp, although I suspect a real Southern cook would disapprove of my cooking them in canola oil. Some recipes I looked up suggested using bacon drippings--ewwww. But mostly, you take some flour, toss in some seasonings, dip, dredge, fry. If you have ample space in your kitchen--which I certainly do not--it's easy, easy, easy. If you don't have ample space in your kitchen, trying to work around it can be challenging. But it was so worth it. The tomatoes really didn't need the gravy, but the tofu surely did. I've got a lot left over to try to use in a week (maybe I should halve the recipe next time), so I'm going to have to get creative here.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Mmm, tempeh

One of my favorite foods to cook with is tempeh. It's got a nice nutty texture and is quite versatile. Whenever I make chili, I crumble a cake of tempeh in the pot for a "meaty" texture. Tonight I made Maple Walnut Tempeh (in Enemy of the Steak, it's Maple Pecan, but I prefer pecans), some balsamic rosemary yams from Garden of Vegan, and heated up some frozen green beans. I was a good girl; while my yams were cooking, I had a salad. I unfortunately ran out of the mustard used to coat the pieces of tempeh before I saute it--hmmph. I'll have to grab more at the store next time.
Now, those of you reading this probably know this, but in case you don't, always buy real maple syrup. Do NOT get the pancake Aunt Jemima/Mrs. Butterworths/whatever stuff--it's corn syrup with a little maple flavor. No, spend the extra money, get the real stuff, preferably organic. It's got better flavor, and if you want corn syrup, buy corn syrup, not the maple-flavored stuff.
I probably won't be cooking much in the next week--I cook in spurts anyway--but I have family visiting and will be spending time with them.
Happy eating!

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Oh, what a beautiful day

On the third Saturday of every month, a local restaurant Java Green has a funding day for a wonderful local organization, Compassion Over Killing. Basically, 10 percent of sales go to COK. Another local place, Vegetable Garden, has funding days on the first Thursday of every month. Recently, COK has started leafleting near well-trafficked areas before going to eat at the funding restaurant. I can't help them hand out Easy Vegan Recipe guides and veg-dining guides on Thursdays, but I can do it on Saturday, after which we go to eat at the supporting restaurant. So I met up with the woman running the leafleting, grabbed some stuff and went to the entrance of a Metro station a couple of blocks away. Almost everyone was polite, whether or not they accepted the guides I was handing out. One man said that his wife was vay-gun (this after I'd said "vegan"), and I said that the guide was a restaurant guide. He took it. I don't know if running to catch people counts as exercise--it should.

Afterwards, we all gathered to eat, and I had my usual "chicken" rice bowl (really chunks of soy protein in a delicious sauce) and Cricket Cola, a green tea cola I love. With us was someone new to activism, but apparently has been vegetarian for a few years, so the organizer and I explained the environmental damages wrought by the animal foods industries. I did a bit of research to send a letter to Ms. magazine in response to an article they did on global warming, plus I've read numerous books on the subject, so I felt I could talk with some authority. COK focuses primarily on the animal rights issues, but I like to touch on health, animals, and environment because you never know what may get through to a person.

The weather has been manic depressive this week, going as low as the 50s Thursday and Friday and up into the 80s today. It was beautiful today--the complete opposite of grey, chilly, rainy Friday--but if I was in the shade, I needed my hoodie, and when I was in the sun, it was too hot for my hoodie. I sat in the sun while we ate and basked in the warmth. I even splurged on a chocolate vegan milkshake (ohhhhhh) while my boyfriend got a create-your-own smoothie with banana, mango, and coconut milk. A few other friends showed up, and we chatted and just hung out.

After everything broke up, my boyfriend and I made our way to my place, where I collapsed in bed and napped for an hour. I don't know if it was the running around, sitting in the sun, or a combination of both, but I was sacked out. I think I recall having spent days at the beach as a kid, and being in the sun would just put me to sleep. I didn't want to nap too long--I do have to get to bed tonight so I can work Sunday--but I was very reluctant to drag myself out of bed, which my cat supported wholeheartedly.

But I did get up and do the laundry and eventually cook dinner, another recipe adapted from the Heart Association cookbook, this one a lemon seitan dish (the original dish called for lamb and chicken broth; I used seitan and vegetable broth). I veganized it, of course, and added capers to the sauce. I'm trying to decide if I like the mustard in the sauce, or if I should remove it and add more lemon juice or something else, maybe garlic or tamari. I think it's mostly good, but I will be tinkering with the recipe to try to perfect it.

And like a good girl, I did have a salad with it, although it isn't pictured here. I made the same type salad and the same Sesame Ginger dressing I did last time, but instead of olive oil, I used half flax oil and half sesame oil, and I think that enhanced the flavor. If you want a sesame or Asian flavor, get yourself some toasted sesame oil, and keep it in the fridge once opened. If you want to add omega-3 fatty acids, get some flax oil, and absolutely keep that refrigerated. I once read somewhere that all oils, except for olive, should be refrigerated once opened. Flax oil should be refrigerated always, although you can't really do that between the grocery store and your home. Don't buy flax products from a store that doesn't keep them in a refrigerated case, just to be on the safe side. Flax is very delicate and can go bad very easily. I actually freeze my flax seeds because they stay fresher longer. And because I have more than enough stuff in my fridge.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A plus and a minus

I made a couple of recipes from Enemy of the Steak tonight: a luscious tempeh dish called Picadillo (tempeh, onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomato sauce, raisins, capers, and seasonings) and Glazed Plantains. I had a dab of the Saffron Rice left over (gotta buy that again) and heated it up. I guess you can tell which is the plus--it's the tempeh dish. The cinnamon gave it a nice kick, and lazy girl that I am, I used Whole Foods "Stoplight" (red, yellow, and green) peppers even though the recipe calls for one green pepper. It's something I do when I have dishes that call for chopped bell peppers. It adds a splash of color to my favorite tofu dish.

I don't know what went wrong with the plantains--maybe they weren't ripe enough, and time in the fridge didn't help. I'll have to keep an eye out for ripe plantains. Considering my neighborhood has a large Latino population, one of the stores must carry plantanos. I suspect this recipe will work better with soft, ripe plantains rather than unripe "tostones." I made a couple of other very minor changes, but it shouldn't have affected the flavor. It was the texture that was sort of problematic.

I've mentioned that I do not object to using frozen veggies. Unless you're doing a stuffed pepper, you can easily sub a few handfuls of the frozen bell peppers. I usually run warm water over them to get the ice off and start the defrost process. The upshot is my freezer is crowded with frozen fruits and veggies, plus some shortening, stick margarine, a few convenience foods, and soy ice cream. My small fridge is also crowded with tea pitchers, grains, nuts, stuff I've cooked, sauces, dressings, and a few cooking oils.

I need a larger fridge.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Pasta and Salad

I did a bit of shopping today and then went set about cooking dinner. I love bagged salad mixes--they're prewashed, so all you need to do is dump them in a bowl and toss in the rest of your salad fixings. I grated a couple of carrots, cut up a couple of Roma tomatoes and a Gala apple, threw in some golden raisins and some peanuts, and made a lovely Sesame Ginger dressing from Garden of Vegan. I love these little condiment bottles I get at Bed, Bath & Beyond. They're the size of your average bottle of dressing, but you can use them over and over. The only thing I don't like about them is there is no removable tip, so I have to cut off the tip of the lid to squeeze. They also work well for frosting cupcakes if you aren't doing any fancy swirly stuff.
I found a couple of really neat recipes in last Wednesday's Washington Post Food section. This is a recipe for Udon Noodles with Baby Bok Choy. Wow--a vegan recipe from the Post. What a shocker. Well, I didn't have udon noodles (or the sub of linguini), so I used whole wheat fettuccine instead. It was pretty tasty, although I don't eat pasta enough that I have a handle on the taste and texture of whole wheat pasta. And since I had more pasta than the recipe called for, I could very well have used that third head of bok choy that was in the package I picked up at Trader Joe's last week. Still, with the salad, it was a very nice dinner. I topped that off with a bowl of Purely Decadent Pomegranate Chip "ice cream" (well, they call it non-dairy dessert, probably because they can't legally call it ice cream). This was some seriously good stuff. I typically put chocolate syrup on my ice cream, but when I discovered I was out of syrup, I ate it plain. This is some good stuff. You must get some NOW (oh, okay, if the store is closed, wait until it opens and get it then).
I have become a bit of a pomegranate freak since they became popular. I love pomegranate blueberry juice and pomegranate molasses flavoring. Clif Nectar bars, their almost raw division, has a new pomegranate cherry bar that rocks. I think I love it almost more than their dark chocolate and walnut flavor, which has served as my chocolate fix at work on a few occasions.
And I totally forgot to mention in my post of last week that if you're a guy, you should eat lots of cooked tomato products. Pasta with marinara sauce (and veggie meatballs), pizza with tons of veggies (no cheese), recipes with tomato sauce, tomato paste, or processed tomatoes--eat up. Tomatoes have lycopene, an antioxidant, and eating them helps prevent prostate cancer. It is most bioavailable when the tomatoes are cooked or processed, but it's still not a terrible idea to put some in your salad anyway. Even ketchup on your veggie burger will provide you lycopene.
I wonder what special benefits it has for women. Either way, I'll try to eat more of them.

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