Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2nd Annual Vegan Baking Roundtable

Maybe Jocelyn has got a nice photo of one of our creations to insert here, but until then this frosted Chokecherry plant will hold the place :)

For only 6 adult participants ( and two great kids! ) there sure was a lot of food at our 2nd annual Vegan Baking Roundtable on November 22nd. Some of the recipes will follow my shameless gushing of our wonderful vegan baking efforts, and others are available on several links provided. All in all, it was another wonderful testament to how great cruelty-free cooking can be :)
Meggin brought the most incredible Blueberry Pie...only one ragged little piece was left standing by the time we wrapped up ( I got to have it all to myself the next night ). The blueberry flavor was intense in a perfect balance of sweet yet tart. Amazingly deep color and a lightly browned lattice crust made this pie as nice to look at as to eat! Keep reading to find her recipe.

Vineet and Pooja brought 2 gorgeous pumpkin pies that were made from pumpkins they grew themselves. I have had issues with "traditional" Pumpkin Pie in the past...too sweet, too dense....all that egg and dairy I guess. Vineet's pie was fresh and light, the pumpkin and spices were the stars, not just a flavor. He generously brought the second pie for Jamie and I to keep and have for Thanksgiving...thanks Vineet! You can find his recipe and check out his cool blog, The Green Vine.

Jocelyn, her husband Michael Neese, and their two kids, Nylah and Jackson brought a ton of food! Before long she was browning a skillet full of Tofurky sausages she'd found at a bargain price, and decided to share with us ! We munched on those along with my Roasted Cauliflower Quiche ( recipe to follow ), some local Winesap Apples w/ Vegan Caramel Sauce ( also to follow! ) to dip the slices in if you wanted to. Then Jocelyn, with help from Nylah, did her Spiced Banana Pancake demo, including a variation that uses an easily found brand of vegan chocolate chip, Gheradellis. Visit Jocelyn's awesome new blog, Vegan Family Values ! Check out Michael's informative little essay on a strange , but harmless ( and apparently tasty! ) fungus found growing on a tree, and how they cooked and ate it on their blog as well.

A Vegan Baking discussion would not be complete without talking about all the ways to replace eggs, not only as a leavening, but as a main ingredient as well, as in my quiche. We also surfed the net some, looking at several vegan sites, including Veganbaking.net which has loads of information on all things vegan baking. Check out the recipe for the Raw Cranberry Cheesecake there...I've got to try that soon ! Of course, we also showed off our own lovely blogs.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's book The Joy of Vegan Baking is highly recommended for clear instructions and inspired recipes...this would make a nice gift for the baker in any family.

Jamie ( who provided our tech support for the computer/tv connection) joined us towards the end, bringing Bosky back from a visit with Dad, and offering his opinions on our efforts...the pies were his favorites!

Meggin's Blueberry Pie
For the Crust:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
8-10 Tablespoons cold water

For The Filling:
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup tapioca
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon lime juice
Stir together the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until pieces are pea-sized. Add in the water 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing with a fork until dough is moistened, but not sticky. Sepearte dough into two halves. In another bowl, stir together the filling ingredients. Roll out half the dough and line a 9" pie pan with it. Add the blueberry filling ingredients. Roll out the second half of the dough, and either cut into 1/2" strips for a lattice top or place entire sheet over the filling and cut steam vents. Roll together and pinch crusts along edge of pie pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crust is lightly browned.

Vegan Caramel Sauce
3/4 cup canned coconut milk ( i used Trader Joe's light)
3/4 cup light brown evaporated cane sugar
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
2 Tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Combine milk and sugars in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Mix the arrowroot and water, stirring to dissolve the arrowroot. Add to the simmering mixture,whisking well to keep it moving. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Cool completely before pouring it into a jar for storage. Store in the fridge. Will keep for several weeks. Try it on ice cream, pie, or as a dip for apples.

Roasted Cauliflower Quiche
The crust was pre-baked, at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, using the recipe from an earlier post on this blog, titled Hand Pies...or you can use your own recipe, a store bought crust, or even make crustless naked quiche. Try also in-season asparagus, broccoli, greens ( Vineet has made some great ones using Swiss chard ). The filling is based on a recipe from the cookbook, You Won't Believe It's Vegan! I like all the ingredients to be room temperature before it goes into the oven.
2 heaping cups of cauliflower florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, cut into a small dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14oz. water-packed block firm tofu, drained but not pressed, room temp.
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons light miso ( optional)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt-free Spike seasoning "salt"
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
Heat the oil in a big heavy skillet, add the onion and cauliflower, cover lightly and sweat the veggies for a few minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook,on medium-high, stirring the veggies to keep them from burning, but allowing them to caramelize some. Cook until just tender. Remove from heat. ( alternatively, you could roast these or just about any other veggies you want in your quiche, in the oven at 400 for about 20-30 minutes. Be sure that the vegetables are cooked thru ).
Crumble the tofu into a food processor or blender, along with the next 5 ingredients and blend until very smooth, adding a little water or plant milk as needed to get a very thick batter. Stir the roasted veggies and parsley into the tofu blend and spread into your pie crust and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Serve hot, warm or cold!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A NYTimes Look at "Eating Animals"

I just finished reading this book, "Eating Animals", by Jonathan Safran Foer a few days ago. I really enjoyed Foer's style and the hard questions he asks himself and others about our connections with the animals we live with and that animals that are brought into this world to be eaten. There is enough humor, modesty and self discovery here to keep it real.
The New York Times has a nice little review of the book, AND a cute picture of a Boston Terrier !

Sunday, November 1, 2009

World Vegan Day

Today, November 1st, has been declared World Vegan Day by the venerable Vegan Society of the UK. The term "vegan" was even coined there. Here's a quote, lifted right off the Vegan Society's website :

The Vegan Society, the world's first, was born in November 1944 - after a lengthy gestation. As early as 1909 the ethics of consuming dairy products were hotly debated within the vegetarian movement. In August 1944, Elsie Shrigley and Donald Watson (a conscientious objector later to be acclaimed as the Vegan Society's Founder) agreed the desirability of coordinating 'non-dairy vegetarians'; despite opposition from prominent vegetarians unwilling to even consider adopting a diet free of all animal products.

In November, Donald organised a London meeting of six like-minded 'non-dairy vegetarians' at which it was decided to form a new society and adopt a new name to describe themselves - vegan derived from VEGetariAN.

It was a Sunday, with sunshine, and a blue sky, an auspicious day for the birth of an idealistic new movement.

And so was today ! Here in Northern Virginia, it started out rainy and cold but the clouds moved off and it warmed up enough to enjoy the sunshine and the last of the Fall leaves, glorious on the rain-darkened tree trunks and limbs.

However, a cloud was cast yesterday when Nicolette Hahn-Niman authored an essay in the NY Times. She's muddied the waters with her particular form of moral schizophrenia that allows abstinence from eating the very animals she raises and sells for premium dollars in niche markets. She explains this dichotomy to Jonathan Safran Foer in his wonderfully written new book Eating Animals, " I feel I can make a choice and I don't want it on my conscience . But that's because of my personal connection with animals. It would bother me...I think because I know it's not necessary. "
Huh. Not necessary. But doesn't that kind of make all pain and suffering the animals must endure, in making a profit for her, her responsibility ...? In the NY Times essay she delivers this cloudy bit of self-serving logic:

To a rancher like me, who raises cattle, goats and turkeys the traditional way (on grass), the studies show only that the prevailing methods of producing meat — that is, crowding animals together in factory farms, storing their waste in giant lagoons and cutting down forests to grow crops to feed them — cause substantial greenhouse gases. It could be, in fact, that a conscientious meat eater may have a more environmentally friendly diet than your average vegetarian.

Come on...why not promote a vegan diet, that we know for sure is much more environmentally friendly than the "average vegetarian" diet, or "conscientious carnivore" diet and leaves the needless suffering of billions of farmed animals behind ?
Let the sun shine for all, especially for those who have no say in how they may be brought into and used in this world to make a buck.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Veal Calves

I don't know what disturbs me most...knowing that this calf has been separated from its mother very soon after birth, chained to hut and will be fed a milk replacement before moving on to a short, stressful life as a milk cow or even shorter life as a veal calf; OR the fact that this picture is so proudly displayed on the cover of this magazine with a caption to go with it on the inside proclaiming : "Livestock exhibitions area a favorite of young and old alike at the State Fair of Virginia." I'm guessing that this very young calf would rather not be one of the exhibits on display.

And then I read this article in the Food section of the Washington Post. It's titled, "Veal, Cast in a Kinder Light",with the subtitle stating ,' The rosy meat from humanely raised male calves is reviving U.S. appetites.' It goes on to ask a stunning question : " What if, under the right circumstances, eating veal were actually more ethical than shunning it? " The logic is that since male dairy calves are, "an otherwise useless by-product of the dairy industry", and a "resource that needs to be utilized", leading one producer in Pa. to conclude , " If you consume dairy, you should eat veal".
Wow. The veal industry does exist because of the dairy industry, true. You cannot have the dairy without the calves. If you consume dairy you are already consuming veal...maybe just not directly. But to encourage people to eat yet more calves, directly, seems especially callous.

Humans do not need to consume dairy, dairy products, calves or the 'spent' dairy cows that enter our food stream as hamburger and other low-grade meat products and as pet food. There are many tasty vegan alternatives that are less polluting to produce, healthier for our bodies,and certainly more humane.

Here's a few sites to check out for information and some great recipes:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hand Pies

I had recently become curious about making Hand Pies...sweet or savory filling wrapped up in a nice crust and baked in the oven. However, my concerns about palm oil, and it's prevalence in Earth Balance and other vegan margarines, kept me from making them. And even though I use Earth Balance for cooking and spreading, I have been trying to cut back. If you don't know about the issues with palm oil,take a look at Mattie's posting about it on his fantastic site, VeganBaking.net...he shares his experiences as a vegan baker and includes lots of recipes and product reviews.
Back to the crust! I tried using refined coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature like the other fats, but it was kind of difficult to work with and very pricey. And then I remembered seeing recipes for making oil-based crusts, and after a few minutes of Googling "oil pie crust", I found this. Wow...so, not only did the oil crust work well, but it beat some of the other, more "traditional" ways of making it...like with butter, lard or shortening. Ok ! So I went to work and made a filling of peeled ( they werent organic )and chopped apples, maple chunks ( very solid chips of reduced maple syrup...too hard to use without melting them down ), cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and lemon juice. I cooked the filling some, so that the apples would be cooked through in the little pies.

Here's the recipe I used to make the crusts...it needs another name, since "Vegetable Oil pie crust" does not really inspire. But in the meantime, here's the recipe, lifted from the Boston Globe. You will notice that 'milk' is listed in the ingredients...of course, us vegans would use a plant milk of our choice. Next week, I'll try using whole-wheat pastry flour and try some small additions of other flours as well. I divided the dough into 8 balls, each one weighing about 2oz. Each ball got rolled out 1/8" thick and shaped into a 5" circle ( more or less). Then I spooned a few tablespoons of filling onto one side, (leaving enough room for sealing the edges), wet that edge with some water, and then pulled the other side over the filling , bringing the two edges together, crimping and sealing them with a fork. I made some vent holes on the top of each one with the fork, brushed with some oil and sprinkled sugar on top. They baked in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Not only do they look pretty, but they taste really great, with lots of crisp edges and no soggy bottoms !

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finally...a new post!!!!

I can't believe 6 months have flown by since i last posted a entry to this poor neglected blog. I have been very busy...I just got out of the groove of posting regularly , I guess. There is no shortage of subject matter, that's for sure!
New Leaf has been involved in several events over the last six months, including tabling at the Earthfest at the Barns at Rose Hill in Berryville, Va. on the 6th of June. Jocelyn and her family (that's her working away behind the table, and her blond-haired, pink-skirted daughter offering advice on the other side of the table ) helped make our booth probably the most popular one at the event since we were giving away free fantastic vegan food! We had slices of Chickpea of the Sea and Eggless Egg Salad wraps, an awesome Pasta Salad Jocelyn made, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Oatmeal Raisin cookies. People were genuinely interested in how we made these items and went away with recipes and brochures on how and why to Go Veg. Thanks so much to Cheryl Ash from eCycle for inviting us to her event; Vegfund.org for financial support ( ingredients for the menu! ) and everyone out there who stopped by and sampled how good vegan food can be.
And then there was our stint at Watermelon Parkfest, also in Berryville, Va., in late September, where we gave away various baked goods and got to enjoy some amazing live music as well. The rain did not dampen Jocelyn's spirit as she offered brochures, cookies and advice to cold and hungry attendees at this 3 day music festival. She covered our booth while I came home to teach a Vegan 101 class , with the help of Lori ( thanks Lori!!! ). We had 12 "students" who gamely sampled some very unfamiliar foods ( seitan, cashew cheese, nutritional yeast... ) and we had such a good time we are meeting for a potluck at one of their homes next month!
Whew...enough for now ! I am currently reading 3 books relevant to the vegan lifestyle...they are The Face On Your Plate by Jeffery Moussaieff Masson, Just Food by James McWilliams, and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. I did not set out to read 3 books at the same time...I am just greedy, I guess ! I was already reading Just Food on my Kindle, and then saw The Face On Your Plate ( which I had meant to read earlier ), and then read this piece by Foer in the NY Times Magazine a few weeks back and KNEW I had to read his book as soon as possible. So. Time to get back to reading!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Soyatoo's Soy Whip Topping

I'll be the first to admit that the word "soy" or "soya" does not conjure up images of tasty lusciousness, and so I wish they'ed come up with a tastier name for this remarkable product. The ingredients are : organic soymilk, coconut oil, sugar-beet syrup, organic maltodextrin, palm oil, and 2% or less of natural vanilla, tartaric acid, carrageenan, sea salt,and fractionated palm kernel oil. It's made in Germany, and not very available here, yet. As an alternative to whipped cow's cream or Cool-Whip, it is more than satisfactory...it is superior. It also holds together nicely, once whipped, and keeps in the fridge several days without separating out...AND it's the perfect balance of sweet, but not too sweet with no overwhelming flavor...just a light vanilla background...perfect for berries ! It's very simple to "make"...just dump the chilled contents of the box into a bowl and beat at high speed for about 3 minutes....it makes about 4 or so cups for about $4.00. I need to find a regular supplier of this stuff so I can have it on hand ! Will update when I figure out where to get it locally.

Here it is on Mother's Day, dressing up a Bisquick shortcake, with North Carolina strawberries. This was great, but the berries were neither organic nor local,and I havent used Bisquick in several years, but it IS vegan, and I was dying to test the Soyatoo!!! In few weeks we'll redo this with our own berries, and homemade oat shortcakes, I promise :>

Monday, May 4, 2009

Don't Give Up Pork Because of Swine Flu !

Give it up because it is an incredibly wasteful, polluting and cruel way to feed ourselves. So sad that even in the face of a pandemic disease, people still want to keep things as they are, ignoring the connections that breeding, keeping and eating animals in extremely unnatural, crowded conditions must eventually have some consequences.

Monday, April 20, 2009

800 lb. Garbanzo and an Oatmeal Cookie recipe

This banner made it's debut at CCAN's Clean Energy Open House this Saturday, April 18th. New Leaf was there to offer free samples of fabulous vegan food and information on the hows and whys of going vegan. We had recipes of all the dishes : Chickpea of the Sea, Eggless Egg Salad, Spinach Dip, Chocolate Chip cookies...all except the recipe for these really awesome oatmeal raisin cookies.
I was hoping the banner would spark some conversation about our diets' neglected role in greenhouse gas emissions, and it did ! People are finally becoming aware of the cruelty, waste and pollution inherent in using animals as a commodity. We had help from Vegfund.org, a fantastic organization that helps us get the message out there. Thanks Vegfund, and Animal Voices, where I first heard about it.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
From The Joy Of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
6 tablespoons water
1 cup vegan margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat bran
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups Old-Fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins ( or vegan chocolate chips )
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 3 cookie sheets.
whip up flaxseed and water till thick, creamy and somewhat gelatinous. Set aside.
Cream margarine, sugars and vanilla till fluffy , then beat in the flaxseed mixture, until well combined.
In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, oat bran, baking soda and baking powder, salt and the spices. Add to the margarine mixture and mix until blended and smooth. Stir in the oatmeal and raisins and stir til well combined. This is where I refrigerate the dough for at least two hours, to stiffen it up, so it won't spread too far out on the cookie sheet. Scoop out walnut-sized balls, set them 2" apart on the cookie sheets and flatten slightly. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let them set up a few minutes on the cookie sheets before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fantastic New Organization !

While having a look at Grist this morning I saw an ad promoting vegetarianism...and of course, I had to look ! What I saw gives me great hope to see that we are combining talents, energies and resources towards positive change. The tone of the website is upbeat yet urgent. The organization is called Let's Act Now, check it out !

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Guest Blogger -- Lori

I am a new vegan. I am a new vegan. I am a new vegan. Ok, I've said it 3 times. It feels good to say. It's been 5 weeks now and it has been an adventure with frustration, food boredom, sugar & meat withdrawals, enlightenment, lightness, some very inquisitive conversations, and plain stupidity. My brother, who has been a vegetarian for over 20 years asked me the day before yesterday if I was still vegan. I guess he didn't think I had it in me.

So, my life has changed. Some shows I used to love to watch, like Food Network Shows and Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmern now sadden me. I accidentally ended up on the Food Network yesterday and they were cooking ribs. I found myself counting the number of racks and adding up how many dead animals they were grilling up. Selfish! But, I guess I was that way too.

Yesterday, Dale Ball came to my house and we cooked together! Thanks Dale, you're the best! Passover is coming up and I wanted to learn how to make some meat-like loaves with gravy. We made two that were very different, but both very good. I think the highlight was the mushroom gravy. In fact, I ate some for lunch today and basically used the vege loaf as a platform for the mound of gravy I put on my plate. We also made this phenominal chocolate/peanut butter pie. Everyone loved it and couldn't believe it had tofu in it. That tofu made it so filling.

Next on my culinary agenda is to get more vegetable dishes into my meals. I don't want to be a junk food vegan and I can't seem to get out of the plain steamed vegetable rut. Boring!!!

Well, thanks for letting me be your guest Dale. Now I'm off to create my own blog.

Vegan Cats

Adopting a vegan diet for ourselves turned out to be way easier than I had imagined.
But what to do about feeding our cats, however, has remained an uncomfortable issue. The dogs took to a vegan dog food ( V-dog) right away and have thrived on it for over a year now, and had been eating Nature's Recipe Vegetarian formula ( bought at Pet Smart ) for a year before that.
Sam and Nemo, our basically outdoor cats ( they come in to sleep at night ) were eating various brands of dry cat kibble and way too many wild creatures outside. We took in another kitty last November. He was 12 weeks old then and I knew that I'll always have to keep him inside to keep the birds safe. And what to feed him ? Of course I'd heard scary stories about vegan-fed cats getting sick and dying. That you cannot possibly feed a cat a vegan diet.
And what about imposing my "vegan values, lifestyle" on my poor pets, who cannot choose for themselves ? What about cats killing birds outside ? People tell me it's "natural" , it's what cats do ! But really, there's nothing natural about us humans clearing off land, throwing up houses, roads and parking lots ( with the attendant water run-off....but I digress....) , nothing natural about poisoning the soil with pesticides and fertilizers to grow lawns and ornamental shrubs and then turn out our pets on what's left of the wildlife. Hmmm.
What I came to was this: Standard cat ( and dog ) food is mostly slaughterhouse by-products or fish/seafood products and/or by-products deemed unfit for human consumption. And considering what I know about the state of the oceans and the awful truth of farmed animals' "lifestyles" imposed on them, NOT feeding our pet cats a vegan diet seemed incredibly selfish and cruel. Here's the article that finally got to me : Paul Greenberg's opinion piece in the NY Times . Thank you, Mr. Greenberg, for the wake-up call.

The Evolution Cat food kibbles arrived Monday, and the boys have all accepted it not only without complaint , but actually dove right in ! I had expected there to be a long transition period. Even the 14 year old, Sam, ( hunter extraordinaire, and responsible for the untimely deaths of numerous birds and small rodents over the years) gobbled it up right off the floor when I first opened the package and spilled some. I'm mixing the Evolution cat food with what was left of some Purina catfood kibbles, about half and half. So far, it's just the dry stuff...guess we need to order some canned ! I'll post about the transition now and then as we go, along with pictures of the guys. Featured today is the new guy, Tomsky, aka Mr. Cutey Pants.

Wiki Article Worth a Look

This article on "environmental vegetarianism" is pretty good ( if you ignore the odd criticism by an Australian towards the end ) and has lots of links to important resources. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_vegetarianism

Monday, March 30, 2009

Homemade Falafel Fest !

The recipe for these falafels is basically the recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook, circa 1977. The biggest difference is that I used uncooked chickpeas ( instead of canned or cooked ) that had been soaked for about 36 hours. 48 hours would not have been too long to soak, so long as the water is changed now and then, and kept cool, but not in the refrigerator. The last time we made falafels I treated the chickpeas as sprouts...by soaking and rinsing them for the first twentyfour hours then rinsing and keeping them in a colander ( above any water )covered and not too cool, and after 48 hours most of the seeds sported adorably tiny roots on one end. I have read that sprouted beans and seeds are more digestible...that seems to be the case for me. Even the long soak for the beans used in this recipe seemed to dramatically reduce the usual gasiness I get from canned chickpeas. These are very easy to make.... the hardest part about making falafels is remembering to start your chickpea soaking ahead of time ! We didnt plan things right, so we did not have any tzatziki sauce on hand, so after Jamie fried these babies ( perfectly...not greasy at all ! ) we just stuffed them in pitas with onions, lettuce, mustard and Vegannaise.
Falafels are fantastic party food with several dips to go with them... we need to make these more often !

4 cups soaked raw chickpeas, rinsed
3 large cloves garlic, minced or microplaned
juice of 2 large lemons
3 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Spike seasoning salt ( optional )
1 3" dried chili pepper pod, crumbled ( or equivalent )
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced flat-leafed Italian parsley, packed
3 Tablespoons flour
extra flour for dredging
oil for frying

Combine all the above in a large bowl, and then pulse in small batches in a food processor or blender until ground up like a coarse-ish meal...not too fine, or they may get tough when cooked. Too coarse and they'll fall apart...test a little as you go and see how it holds together. The flour will help bind it when cooked. Set aside for at least 2 hours, or cover and refrigerate for several days. When ready to cook...have all your sandwich makings ready ( don't forget the tzatziki sauce ! ) make walnut-sized, slightly flattened balls of the mixture, dredge in the extra flour and deep fat fry a few at a time till golden brown...just a few minutes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another Dairy Product

Milk selling at 2.49 a gallon in grocery stores two blocks away from this dry-lot dairy in Arizona seemed especially insulting to the lives of these animals. Especially this little guy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

One Lucky Vegan

OK, so this isn't strictly vegan, but watch how it ties in.
I had the good fortune to go on a National Geographic/Lindblad's Among The Great Whales cruise in Baja California Sur with my intrepid 80 year old mother ( thanks, Ma ! ) from Feb. 28th thru March 7th. We shared the ship National Geographic Seabird with 60 other passengers, about half of whom we're either from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, or were big supporters of their work. My love for birds and birding grows every year, so to find myself amongst some serious ( and generous ! ) birders was an unexpected bonus. And wow...birds galore ! Pelicans, egrets, cormorants, ducks, geese, coots, shearwaters, boobies, sea gulls, frigate birds, verdin, grey thrasher, cara caras, cactus wrens.... and the elusive Belding's Yellowthroat thanks to the persistence and patience of several people from the Cornell group.
I had come aboard prepared to "make do", food-wise. Peanut butter, good bread, homemade date/nut/coconut balls, Primal Strip Jerky traveled in my suitcase all the way from Virginia...just in case. And even tho I had filled out and sent my 'special diet' inquiry weeks before, I wasn't sure how 'vegan' would be interpreted. Turns out that a vegan staff member, Erin Tenille, from Portland , Oregon had just been promoted to the kitchen that week. She made fantastic vegan sandwiches, pilafs, risotto, soups and desserts all week long...it certainly made my trip a pleasure, knowing there was a vegan in the kitchen watching out for me. There were a few others that requested vegetarian, and the whole kitchen and dining room staff were very accommodating. Most of the vegetarian options offered were vegan- based and could have cheese added if wanted. Their salads were gorgeous. One salad even had fresh flower blossoms scattered over the tender young greens. There were vegan salad dressings at each lunch and dinner ( and not just oil and vinegar ). My only gripe is that things that could have ( should have :> ) been vegan, were not. Take mashed potatoes...no reason to introduce dairy to that...leave out the butter and heavy cream ! Use vegan margarine and soy creamer ! Also the morning's hash browns or fried potatoes...why butter ? Why not olive, sunflower, safflower, walnut, avocado, or any number of other wonderful oils ? Amazing how many dishes are ruined through mindless additions of cheap, plentiful animal products.

I was thrilled to see that the Lindblad Expedition company left cards in our rooms explaining why they don't serve shrimp on board ("... the shrimp industry is one of the most destructive processes of the industry." ). However, modern industrial dairy practices have got to be one of the most destructive "farming" methods of all time. Yet they get a pass. Hmmmm. Our society really is addicted to dairy, isn't it ?

We saw Blue Whales off Cabo San Lucas. Blue Whales ! The Grey Whales were inexplicably friendly, considering how close we came to wiping their whole population off the planet...rendering their bodies down for oil to burn. A mother Grey repeatedly presented her baby to us humans, who were reaching their hands out of the Zodiac boats, splashing the water...hoping to touch the sweet immense creatures. What an exhilarating and conflicting experience. Part of me shrank from bothering these animals at all, even tho they approached our boats,on their own, once we were in the area. I only wish that people would value the lives of cows, pigs, chickens and all the other animals that suffer at our hands as much as the whales of the oceans. A life is a life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Magic of Tofu

I am constantly amazed at how versatile tofu is. Today I made a quick tofu sour cream to go with my lunch of black bean dip ( a can refried black beans, canned fire-roasted tomatoes, fresh onion and lots of cilantro and a squeeze of lime) and organic corn chips. Does that sound skimpy ? Not if you make it your meal ! I ended up using a half a can of the refrieds, half a can of the tomatoes, and about 1/3 of a carton of the tofu. Loads of protein, taste and fun to eat !
The picture shows Mori-Nu tofu...in an aseptic, or Tetra-pak package. This kind does not need to be refrigerated before it is opened, but is sometimes found in the chilled veggie section in grocery stores. The other kind of tofu usually found in grocery stores is the kind packed in water. But this Tetra-pak type is really great when you want a very smooth creamy texture. The tofu is draining in an old yogurt screen...meant to reduce dairy yogurt by removing the excess moisture. Worked fantastically for the tofu ! One whole carton fit into the cone, and was weighted down with a can of beans for an hour. Almost a 1/2cup of liquid drained off of it. I tossed the drained tofu into the container that came with one of those electric blender sticks ( way better than hauling out a food processor or blender )that my Mom left with us during her last visit ( thanks, Mom! )along with the juice of one lemon, a spoonful of nutritional yeast, several spoonfuls of olive oil, some salt and pepper, blended it up, and, wow...something way better than dairy sour cream and far cheaper and healthier than the commercial non-dairy version. A handful of cilantro tossed into it at the end of blending would be a nice touch !

Friday, January 23, 2009

Little Raviolis

My husband and I made made these cute little raviolis stuffed with a tofu ricotta (and served with a spicy tomato sauce and Field Roast's Smoked Apple Sage Sausages), in celebration of my brother Kurt's 54th Bday, and his daughter coming out to visit, all the way from San Francisco ! The cookie cutter is about 1 1/2" across. Sorry that there's no picture of the final product...we all fell into it so fast that I forgot the photo-op !

The recipe for the dough is slightly altered from Bryanna's suggested pasta dough recipe
...I did as follows:

1 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 teaspoon slat
2/3 cup water
Mix the dry ingredients together till well combined. Add the water and knead well with your hands or stand mixer, or a food processor, until firm and springy. Cover and let rest at least one hour, or up to several days ( refrigerate after several hours ). We passed our dough through a hand-crank pasta machine several times, and ended up on number 5 on the dial. Too thin and it'll split, too thick and it won't cook properly, but it could easily rolled out by hand. So satisfying to make our own pasta...and vegan to boot !
I'll post the recipe for the ricotta in the next day or so.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CCAN's Polar Bear Plunge Recipes

The following are the recipes for the muffins and cookies that came to Chesapeake Climate Action Network's Polar Bear Plunge in Annapolis on Jan 10th, 2009.
New Leaf's own Jamie plunged ! Many thanks to all the others who cared enough to plunge, pledge, or otherwise help support the efforts of CCAN, and a special thanks to Lori Hill ( lorihillevents.com ) for including us !

Applesauce-Oatbran Muffins ( with a hint of orange )
( adapted from Veganomicon , by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero )
3/4 cup soy or other plant milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
3 tablespoons canola ( or other )oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup oat bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries ( optional )
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin. In a large bowl whisk plant milk and vinegar together and set aside for a few minutes to sour the milk. Add the next 5 ingredients and whisk together well. In another, smaller bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together. Then fold the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring only to moisten, do not overmix. Fold in the dried fruit, if used. Fill the muffin tins 2/3 full and bake 25-30 minutes. Allow muffins to cool in tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Makes 12-16.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
( from Vegan With A Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero )
1 cup vegan margarine, room temperature
1 and 1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Cream marg and sugar till fluffy. Add molasses and vanilla and beat a little more. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; and then add to the creamed mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. Add a tablespoon or two of water if dough is too crumbly. Chill dough for a few hours. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet about 2" apart and bake 8-10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Mkaes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

No Bake Chocolate-Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Cookies
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 stick ( 1/2 cup ) margarine
1/2 cup soy or other plant milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
3 cups oatmeal ( 1/2 old fashioned, 1/2 quick works well )
Stir first 4 ingredients together in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil this together for a full two minutes, continuing to stir constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, vanilla,mixing and melting the peanut butter in till it's nice and smooth. Add all the oats and mix well till. Let cool enough to scoop spoonfuls out onto oiled cookie sheets or waxed paper. Do not let mixture cool too long in the pan or you will end up with one giant cookie. Let cool and then store in the fridge. Makes about 24.

Corn Muffins or Bread
1 cup all-purpose flour or wholewheat pastry flour
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 tablespoon sugar ( optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer
4 tablespoon warm water
1 cup soy or other plant milk, room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
Preheat oven to 425. Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat together the Ener-G powder and water till thick and frothy in another medium bowl, and then whisk in the milk and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry till just combined and spoon into greased muffin tins or a 9x9 square pan. Bake muffins for 12-15 minutes, and 20-25 for the square.