Thursday, December 25, 2008

Purely Decadent !

Wow...This is the best ice cream I've had in years !!!! My sweet husband picked it up at a mainstream grocery store ( tomorrow he's going to look for more flavors ! ) I've seen it around, but had not tried it yet. The chocolate flavor is smooth and rich, and blends seamlessly with the incredibly silky coconut milk. I can't wait to try the other more making excuses or apologizing for vegan ice creams ! The ingredients read : Organic coconut milk, organic agave syrup,chicory root extract, cocoa, carob bean gum, guar gum, natural flavor. What baffles me is if such a good product can be made from such simple, pure ingredients without harm to the animals, why on Earth would you have it any other way ?

Friday, December 19, 2008

For The Birds

This morning I made 10 "suet" cakes to give away as gifts, and to feed to the wild birds that visit our feeders. I used tofu tubs as molds. Last Spring I used tofu tubs as seedling starter trays.
the recipe I found online and then adapted, using some older wheat germ and buckwheat kernels to bulk it up a little. I hope they hold together ! They're all in the fridge, chillin down and firming up right now.
I'd followed an older thread online about making vegan suet cakes for birds and someone chimed in and said that the vegan was "self-righteously imposing their warped values on the natural order of things" if using animal suet rendered from farmed animals was not imposing on nature, or , the very animals who had to endure very unnatural conditions and then slaughter. Jeez !
I'll post the recipe later :>

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gingerbread Peace Activists

The results from the flurry of baking for CCAN's Open House at Mike Tidwell's home in Takoma Park on the 13th of December included these guys, ready for action and totally vegan !

Mike graciously lets us set up our vegan advocacy tables and tent during the event to offer plant-based food information and bake sale goodies to compliment their message of reducing our impact on the planet. Chesapeake Climate Action Network promotes individual actions such as eating lower on the food chain, replacing old lightbulbs with CFLs , installing solar panels, collecting rain from your roof in barrels for the garden, and writing to our representatives in government demanding clean renewable energy. Check out their website and get involved :>

Mike Tidwell is a tireless, informed and engaging speaker and writer for the cause and can be heard hosting Earthbeat Radio, along with Daphne Wysham and on Jay Tomlinson's excellent podcast, The World On Fire , as well as appearing on numerous television shows. He's written essays for Orion, Audubon, Grist and others as well as authoring the prescient book Bayou Farewell and a follow-up of sorts, Ravaging Tide. It is an honor to be associated with him, CCAN, the small army of dedicated interns, and of course, Jay!

Here's the recipe for the cookies. Of course, use organic ingredients when ever's better for everyone . The dough is easy to work with, and does'nt spread out or puff up too much while baking. Makes 10-12 4" delicious Agents Of Change.

GINGERBREAD FOLKS ( adapted from a Vegetarian Resource Group recipe )
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup evaporate cane brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses ( not blackstrap...use a mild molasses )
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oat flour ( grind some oatmeal in a blender till is is finely crumbled...some bigger particles are don't need it as fine as wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest ( optional but nice :> )
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon orange juice
Beat together the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl ( or bowl of stand mixer ). Sift together all the rest of the ingredients except for the orange juice. Add the dry, sifted ingredients to the sugar and oil mixture, alternating with the orange juice. Refrigerate dough for several hours. Roll out dough no thinner than 1/8", cut out shapes, transfer to baking sheets and bake at 350 for 8-12 minute...depending on shape and thickness. The thinner they are rolled the crisper they will be when baked. Don't over-bake ! Cool on racks. These also freeze well.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vegan Baking Musings

It has recently occured to me that there seems to be two major reactions to vegan baking, as a subject.
The predominant one : " How could you possibly bake without eggs, butter, milk ? ! ", and then there is, " What ? Why would there be any animal "product" in this bread, cookie, pie, cake..." I was of the first opinion before I became vegan. But pretty quickly I came to (and after two years of baking, sampling, reading, talking about, sampling some more....) the second opinion...why would you want to sully sweet baked goodness with the pain and suffering inherent in animal abuse and slaughter ? Especially when easy effective alternatives abound.

Maybe that's what is so wonderful about vegan baking...every cookie, cake, pie or loaf of bread that gets baked without using the animals is a silent offering to them.

I'm getting ready to go into bake-sale mode for an upcoming event and look forward to introducing more people to the joys of vegan baking ( and eating ! ).

So many great vegan cookbooks out there now..including this fantastic one by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau: The Joy Of Vegan Baking.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Western Maryland Vegetarian Society and a recipe

Wow...almost 2 months since I've posted anything. It's not like there is a lack of vegan related topics to blog fact, the further I get into this, the more I realize how much loops back to our society's brutal ( or indifferent ) treatment of animals and our disconnect from nature. Living right across from a cow and calf operation is a constant sad reminder.
But yesterday afternoon, I took a break and attended a Vegan Holiday Potluck in Hagerstown, hosted by Western Maryland Vegetarian , met some great people and am now re-energized ! We had some fantastic food at the potluck . The big hits were Chocolate Almond cupcakes made by the daughter of a couple attending. I'm sorry I don't remember their names, but I do recall that the young baker got the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I think there was a total of 15 people ...and like Ginnie says, we were all speaking the same language :> Nice, also, to see a table loaded with beautiful, tasty vegan foods and not have to wonder about it's origins.
And now, a recipe for a chicken-like Seitan. It is easy to make, just make sure you have everything. I've made this several times and love it as a sandwich filling ( slice it thinly ) , cut into strips and fried up for fajitas, chopped up and added to a Shepard's Pie...and it freezes very well. The recipe originates from Ann Gentry's Real Food Daily cookbook. Lot's of great recipes in it, and all vegan !

Chicken-style Seitan:

1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for pan, plus 1/2 cup canola oil

2/3 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 1/2 cups gluten flour

1 cup garbanzo flour

2/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1 3/4 cups freshly cooked cannellini beans, see Cook's note*

1/3 cup tamari

3 cups water

*Cook's Note: If your blender isn't large enough to hold all of the water called for in this recipe, add just enough of it to create a smooth and creamy bean puree, then stir the remaining water into the puree in a large bowl. You can substitute canned organic white beans for the freshly cooked cannellini beans, if desired. After draining, a 15-ounce can will yield 1 3/4 cups of beans.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with 2-inch-high sides with parchment paper. Lightly oil the parchment paper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool.

Stir the gluten flour, garbanzo flour, nutritional yeast, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Puree the beans, 1/2 cup canola oil, tamari, and sauteed onion mixture in a blender until smooth, adding some of the water to create a smooth and creamy consistency. Whisk the bean puree and the remaining water in another large bowl to blend. Quickly stir the bean mixture into the flour mixture until a very wet dough forms. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Cover with aluminum foil.

Place the pan of Seitan Dough in a larger roasting pan. Add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the pan of seitan. Bake for 2 hours, adding more water to the roasting pan if necessary, or until the seitan is firm on top. Cool the seitan to room temperature. Quarter the seitan into 4 equal (1-pound each) squares.

The seitan will keep for 2 days, covered and refrigerated. Wrap the seitan squares separately in plastic wrap, then enclose them in a resealable plastic bag and freeze them up to 1 week, if desired.

Yield: 4 1/2 pounds