Sunday, September 30, 2007

Vicki's vegan version of the Idaho Potato Tart

Here's a savory side-dish made with our state's pride & joy... the potato. I modified this recipe from the Idaho Potato Commission.

5 med. Idaho potatoes (red or white)

1 leek (or a bunch of green onions)
1 red bell pepper
sundried tomato pesto
1/2 c vegetable broth
Earth Balance
fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425*
2. Slice potatoes very thinly using a food processor or mandoline and divide them into 3 equal parts. Do the same with leeks & red pepper.
3. Oil a pie pan with vegetable oil and layer one third of the potatoes in the pan. Spread a layer of pesto over potatoes. Top with leeks, red pepper and sprinkle with some fresh ground pepper.

4. Place another third of the potatoes on top, layering evenly. Add another layer of pesto, leeks, red pepper, and fresh ground pepper.
5. Top with the last third of potatoes, spreading to cover. Pour vegetable broth over all; season with pepper and dot with Earth Balance.
5. Oil the bottom of another pie plate and place on top of the potatoes. Weigh that down with a cast iron skillet. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the skillet and pie pan and bake for another 15 minutes until browned.

Let it cool a bit before serving and it'll slice better. Cover with tin foil and keep in a 200* oven until company arrives, or take it with you to the vegan potluck. It's easily transportable and great to make ahead of time.

Perhaps that's what I'll do next weekend at my first vegan potluck! I found a group after reading on Amey's blog about Meet-up. Go and search your city for a vegan group, or start your own. What dish has been successful for you at a vegan pot luck?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Vinegar is magical!

It feels good to have "Mickey'd" the floor today, which is what we call cleaning the hardwood floor, because that's how the previous owner, Mickey, did it. She told us how, and we've memorialized it with her name. (We think we're so clever!) It's easy, inexpensive, and makes our floor shine. Put some water in the sink, add a couple cups of white vinegar, and with a rag for each hand wipe the floor clean. Old cloth diapers work great! :)

Here's the line-up. They are tough on floors, and the main reasons why I grab the jumbo size white vinegar. I've noticed you can really get in touch with your floor on hands and knees, and as I was down there today bonding, it occurred to me that this might just qualify as a green activity. After all, how many other cleaning agents are completely edible? I googled, and as you may know, there are numerous uses for vinegar. If you're interested in green cleaning, don't buy chemicals you can't pronounce. Instead go here, here, and here for some great vinegar uses! As a segue back to food, perhaps next post we'll be eating off the floor....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Double Chocolate Decadence Cookie

I found a new vice today! Since seeing ads in VegNews, I've wanted to try an Alternative Baking Company cookie. Their goal is to make the best cookie in the galaxy, and aside from homemade, I'd say mission completed. The cookie is moist and full of flavor. What it lacks is hydrogenated oils, cholesterol, preservatives, artificial ingredients, refined sugars, eggs, dairy, and honey. On top of all that, it seems like a really cool company. The back of the packaging explains why one should eat organic and vegan. Do yourself a favor and have a cookie!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Southern Seitan (cue 'The Devil went Down to Georgia')

We really enjoyed this meal yesterday!

Bryanna's 'Vegan Pork Tenderloin' tops steamed organic Collard Greens. Beside that is Robin Robertson's 'Skillet Cornbread' surrounded by tomatoes from a friend's bountiful garden. I prefer collards with a little Earth Balance, sea salt, and a big squeeze of lemon juice.

You need to make the 'Vegan Pork Tenderloin' the day or more before. Plan ahead, it takes well over 4 hours from start to finish, and then, it's best after being in the fridge overnight. It's a great thing to do while laundry is going, and it's really quite fun and easy. Here I'm forming the dough to place in my Romertopf clay cooker with the cooking broth waiting to be poured on. I've printed out the recipes from the Everyday Dish DVD, and keep them in a file folder.

This is our favorite faux meat recipe. Just look at how nicely it slices, and it tastes great. When we eat packaged faux meat products at home, it's usually because we're out of this. This time, I used bbq sauce instead of ketchup in the basting broth, and Art used the same sauce to saute it in on the stove.

On my quest to find more recipes like this, I emailed Bryanna, and found out she is working on a seitan e-book. I can't wait for it to be available!

The 'Skillet Cornbread' recipe is in this month's VegNews (p. 63). The article convinced me to break out our cast iron skillet, but first I needed to season it:

1. Scour thoroughly with hot water and soap; dry
2. Coat with cooking oil (vegetable works well)
3. Heat in 300* oven for an hour
4. Remove excess oil after cooled

We really enjoyed the cornbread! Art says it's possibly the best he's eaten. It was crusty outside & soft inside. I think using a cast iron skillet makes all the difference.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tag! You're it!

Thanks for tagging me, Veganista! I've enjoyed getting to know you and other bloggers better like Amey, Bazu, and VeganNoodle by reading their responses to this meme.

Want to get to know me better?

is for Vegetarian & Vegan (in sign language and all languages, it stands for peace!): Sitting on the sofa at Mastadon in PB, circa 1995, waiting for Art to get his ear pierced, I picked up what I thought might be a cookbook to pass the time, "Diet For A New America." I became enthralled, and by the time I finished reading about how all God's critters have a place in the choir, I was buying a copy with my hard-earned tips. My life would profoundly change, and my journey to being a vegetarian progressed as I read each chapter. First cutting out cow, then pig, poultry and fish. Once I knew this information, there was no turning back. I knew what veganism was, but didn't understand why, until I stumbled upon Vegan Lunchbox blog several years later. Cooking never interested me until "discovering" veganism, and now, I find it to be satisfying and full of meaning.

I is for Igloo: One of my earliest childhood memories are snow days! The snow was too high for the buses to get through. One year, I remember making an igloo in the backyard. When I was a little girl (stop snickering, I'm not THAT old!) it snowed like CRAZY! The ground would remain blanketed nearly all winter long. Then, in 1990, I moved to CA and stayed 13 years. When I moved back in 2003, I was stunned by the lack of snow. There was really none to speak of in the valley, and rarely if ever lasting more than a day before melting off. The snow plows were sold years ago, and our gardening climate zone was adjusted to a more mild rating. Record low moisture readings were being broken each year. I clinch my chest with concern for my daughters when I imagine the climate changing as much in their lifetime as mine.

C is for Crafty: I seem to always have a project going. Right now, I'm in the process of our anniversary quilt, family place mats, stained glass lamps, mosaics, and I've lost track of what all. I also finished projects (lol!), and I'm most proud of a king size quilt made of recycled men's neckties, a tile and broken plate mosaic, and a photograph collage of the City of Angels art statues. I spent much more time doing these types of things before the girls were born, but still find great satisfaction when time allows. I particularly enjoy taking used items and transforming them to something new.

K is for Kids: Art and I were married 10 years before we decided to have children. We savored the freedom to take risks, travel, and self-indulge. My time clock was ticking, but I ignored it because I'm a really good procrastinator. Then I had a "near-death" experience (well, it's all relative...) that made me deeply want to have kids. It was actually an infected root-canal. Because it was just a tooth, I have to defend myself, and you can ask Art, I have a pretty strong pain threshold. One of my biggest accomplishments (though it'll never make it on a resume) is that I gave birth to both girls naturally. I didn't even have a Tylenol, not that I'm against anyone giving birth in the way that it happens. Just to illustrate that this tooth thing made me feel like I was seriously dying! I was warped on codeine, and puking up everything and getting much weaker. It was then that I realized that if I died right now, not having kids with Art would be my only regret. That realization snapped an awakening in me and we began planning our family.

I is for Interstate: A childhood friend was going to Law School in San Diego and generously flew me out to see her for my birthday. I needed a change, and she needed a roommate. I went back home, packed and moved in with her one month later. During the 13 years I lived in Southern California, I lived in 12 different places, earned a teaching degree, got married, and had my first child. Wanting to raise our children in a different environment, we moved to Idaho, with Art's work still coming from California. The girls and I frequently visit California to see relatives/friends, and we keep a tiny studio apartment to use for our visits there and for Art's weekly business trips. We have driven many times but we typically fly these days, about every 6 weeks or so.

I get to tag 5 people, so if you'd like to join in the fun, Pisces Place, theONLYtania, TK, Maybepigscanfly, and Everyday Dish consider yourself tagged! :)

Here's the fineprint about how to play:
Players must list one fact, word, or tidbit that is somehow relevant to their life for each letter of your first or middle name. When you are tagged you need to write your own post containing your first or middle name game facts, word, or tidbit. At the end of your post choose one person for each letter of your name to tag.
 Don’t forget to leave a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog. If I’ve tagged YOU, please join in on the fun!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

3 Product Reviews & Encouraging Global Warming News!

I haven't been cooking much lately, and it really shows in my posts! But getting back into blog surfing sure brings on the cooking inspiration, and my list is growing. I was actually inspired this morning reading my local newspaper. I saw a recipe for 'Tempeh, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches' and nearly fell off my chair when I saw that it was a Fatfree Vegan Kitchen recipe! How cool is that? Did you see this in your paper? Susan said it ran in several. These cookies were OK.

This is one of our all-time favorite prepared faux meats. Since striving to be vegan, it has been a sore spot that this product was only vegetarian.

Last time I was at the Co-op, I noticed the subtle difference in the packaging.
Vegetarian Plus has veganized its 'Citrus Sparerib Cutlets' ! Here's the tip: only cook this for 7-8 minutes, otherwise the sauce get overcooked too easily and is too sticky, add pineapple for a treat!

Now here's some encouraging news! Art sent me a text this morning that read, "new study out today eat less meat helps global warming, on and ktla today."
And just last night, I even heard Leno joking about the meat industry connection to global warming. It's happening! People are taking note of the negative impact of the meat industry on the world. This information will only empower people. You can fight global warming every time you eat. Now where have I heard that before?? Oh, and the girls didn't really like these nuggets.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Orean the Health Express (Pasadena, CA 5 of 5)

Orean is a great place to tide you over between here & there. I ordered the 'Chicken Burger' and it was delicious. Like clock-work, Art ordered the 'Pastrami Dip' and recieved the 'Philly Cheese.' Is it odd that this has happened to him 3 times!? Next time, he's contemplating ordering a Philly in hopes of receiving a Pastrami Dip. We joke cuz it really doesn't matter. It's awesome fast-food and we keep coming back for more.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

SipZ & EnvironGentle (San Diego 4 of 5)

We always enjoy eating at SipZ Fuzion Cafe. Karen took us here for the first time over a year ago, and now, we never miss an opportunity. Even if we're not hungry, we'll stop in and get it to go. The food is simply amazing.

And, there's a cool second-hand store (which I think benefits an animal rescue?) next door to the restaurant where I picked up a back issue of VegNews (#49) along with some flyers & a Goveg pin.

We've zeroed in on what we like to eat at SipZ!

Two bowls of
the 'Sweet n Sour Chicken' -- which is soy chicken cubez coated in a tangy sweet n sour sauce that includes bell peppers, celery, onions, and pineapple.

Art downed a smoothie, and I drank a passion fruit ice-tea.

Missing our girls, we started making our way back to the LA area, but we still took time to stop in at EnvironGentle, which is at 543 S. Coast Hwy 101, in Encinitas. They sell the coolest things! You can order all kinds of great shirts on the above link, and in the photo, you can see my first message t-shirt, "Tree Hugging Dirt Worshipper." It is made of 70% sustainable bamboo and 30% organic cotton and is the softest t-shirt I own. They have a bunch of great messages.

As you can see, it's a pretty big store, and it's jam-packed with environmentally-friendly products and clothing. They had extensive sections for cleaning, personal care, baby items, bags, candles, hemp products, and so much! I could have (and wanted to) spent several hours here.

They have several inspirational quotes painted on the walls, including my favorite.

We were still full from SipZ, but if you find yourself hungry in this area, you could visit Swami's Juice Bar at 1163 First St. ---or Roxy Restaurant at 517 S. Coast Hwy. 101. I understand they both have vegan options.

Encinitas is such a lovely area to explore!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Stephanie's Bakery & room with a view (San Diego 3 of 5)

We popped over the bridge to Ocean Beach in search of Stephanie's Bakery. I've been wanting to go since reading about it in VegNews. The "Vegetarian Dining and Shopping in the San Diego Area" guide that I picked up at "All Vegan" describes it as "a mostly vegan bakery cafe." But when I asked the girl behind the counter if something was vegan, she replied, "It's all vegan."

I looked to the left and saw the sign "all vegan" and knew the sky was the limit in here.... save my goal of wanting to look good in my little jeans.

We arrived late in the morning, and they appeared to be out of certain selections. Art chose the last cherry strudel, and I picked the last black forest strudel. We scarfed them on the sidewalk in front where you see the chairs.

From our view, the "powers"
at be were kind, giving us a nice view and also a nice location from a last-minute Craig's list find. The Pacific Ocean can be seen in the background if you look closely past the power pole (which appears much closer than it actually was...) We also could see, from the other side of the building Mission Bay, as well as busy Mission Boulevard below.

This is the view from our bedroom window. A big, bright billboard, which reads "stick head in sand" and "" obviously intended to pique interest in the issue of global warming to visitors.

The morning fog burned-off each day and the weather was a cool break (in the 70's and 80's) from the summer we have had in Idaho this year.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Biking & The Vegan Zone (San Diego 2 of 5)

We had a great time in San Diego enjoying the summer fun! Back in the day, we lived 2 blocks from this location.

Bicycles are the best way to get around. We rode from Mission Beach to Bird Rock and everywhere
in between. You can see the Crystal Pier in the background, and if you want, there's a hotel on it so that you can sleep over the water! (though we have never stayed there)

We eventually made our way back to Mission Beach. We locked the bikes, and headed into Canes for some libations. This is the breezy, outdoor view from my chair. (Yes, it was difficult to leave!) But after a couple cocktails and our fill of people watching, we got hungry for some "real food."

I was excited to try Vegan Zone "the exotic vegan bistro" -- the newest veg restaurant in Pacific Beach after reading this and this. It's close to the beach, but has more of a "Melrose" vibe with it's dramatic paint colors, giant golden Buddha, and modern flare. It's vegan, so if you're in the San Diego beach area, you gotta try this. They offer lots of starters, salads, sandwiches & soup, noodle & rice dishes, as well as curries & sushi rolls.

'Golden Nuggets' $4 Lightly battered and fried soy chicken nuggets with choice of a sweet chili sauce or BBQ sauce.

We were hungry from bike riding, so the smoothie & nuggets helped calm our tummies. The nuggets would have been too bland without the sauce, and we weren't given a choice -- I think it was the BBQ that was automatically given.

Art had the 'Pineapple Burger' $8 Grilled pineapple on fried soy chicken in kamut flour, with home fries. (I had a bite, it's yummy!)

Below that is my 'High Protein Salad' $8 Crispy romaine, garbanzo beans, edamame, avocado, red onion and tomato topped with crunchy walnuts. I chose the Peanut dressing over the Tahini and Italian. The waitress happily subbed sunflower seeds for the walnuts at my request. It was just right -- light & satisfying. Again, this place is definitely worth a visit!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Karen, All Vegan, & El Zerape (San Diego 1 of 5)

Here's Art and I on August 22, 2007.


And, here we are August 22, 15 years earlier.

In honor of that, we put the girls in the
loving hands of CA G'ma & G'pa so that we could go celebrate.

Back to where it all began.... in San Diego.

Going to San Diego also means cultivating new relationships. Like hanging out with
Karen and enjoying a vegan meal together. So far, she has introduced me to three awesome eateries Sipz, Kung-Food, and now, El Zerape.

I love this photo of Mattie, Karen, and I because we all have the same "I'm so happy to see you!" expression.

But, before lunch, Karen took me to
All Vegan across the street from the restaurant. I've been wanting to visit this cruelty-free store since I read about it in VegNews.

It was smaller than I anticipated, but jam-packed with loads of vegan goodies like shoes, bags, shirts, and snacks. We had a great conversation with Karen's friend who works there, and I bought a couple "beans wax" candles and picked up some flyers & stickers. We both noted the Everyday Dish DVD on a display as well as a copy of Vegan Lunch Box.

Then, we walked across the street to El Zerape. Karen said she likes to get the soy protein burrito without cheese, so that's what we both got.

We walked to a pretty nearby park with the burritos, marinated carrots & salsa in hand to enjoy on a shady picnic table. At one point Karen says, "I don't know what's in this burrito, but it's really good!" We laughed and puzzled over it for a bit. What was it? The only thing we knew for sure was that it was plant-based and delicious. In the end, that's all we needed to know.

Thanks for introducing me to cool places and taking time to hang out, Karen! I thoroughly enjoyed it. :)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy Labor Day Weekend

After being away for a while, we wanted to spend the long weekend close to home.

We started the weekend by going to the Farmer's Market. It was the biggest FM of the year (doubling in size) and lasted 2 days (doubling in duration). There were two stages for performers and an extra street was blocked to accommodate more vendors. Lots of people came out for the City Harvest and to support local farmers and artisans.

I took home apples, peaches and green beans.

Abi & I enjoyed sharing a couple Honey Crisp apples. Art took a look at us and wanted to know what all the crunching was about, and ate one also. These are THE BEST apples. They are super crisp, juicy, and perfectly tart. But the lady who grows them says they aren't the best for cooking.

We were invited to a BBQ, and that morning, Wendy called to ask if tofu would be a good sub for hamburger. There was a recipe in the newspaper (article by Jim Romanoff) for burgers, and she wanted to make them vegan for the party. I steered her in the direction of LightLife, which is what she did. Here they are all prepped for Fred to grill.

Art and I were touched and impressed that she served these. They were super tasty! Wasn't this so thoughtful & generous?!

'Smokey "beef" and Black Bean Burgers'
1 tsp. canola oil
1 sm. yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
3/4 c. canned black beans, rinsed & drained
2 slices firm ww bread, torn in small pieces
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 package Litelife "Smart ground"
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a small nonstick skillet over med. heat. Add onions and saute until softened. Add the garlic, cumin, & chipotle and saute 1 min. Transfer to a dish to cool.
In a med. bowl, combine the beans, bread and tomato paste. Use potato masher or fork to mash them into a rough paste. Add the Smart ground, cilantro, salt, pepper and the onion mixture. Mix thoroughly, then shape into four 3/4-inch thick patties.
Grill the burgers on a well-oiled rack. I chose a sesame seed bun and added avocado, lettuce, mustard, & sriracha. Served with that was the sweetest corn on the cob, and Fred's insalata caprese. We all enjoyed some laughs in the backyard while the kids played.

We picked up an electric ice-cream maker at a garage sale earlier this summer for $5, and I tried it out today. On page 284 of this cookbook is 'Chocolate Sorbet' and the description fits, "a rich, chocolaty frozen dessert, with a texture between that of sorbet and ice cream."
3 first time events for me: first time making home made ice cream, first recipe I've made from this cookbook, and first time making cashew milk.

I'm happy to report that it was a big success all the way around. The sorbet is delicious -- perfect texture and the flavor is major chocolately with a touch of espresso. My daughter went to bed asking if she could have more tomorrow. And, I'm ready to try another Voluptuous Vegan recipe, like the 'Coconut Sorbet' or any of the many other recipes that caught my eye.

I admit to being a delinquent blogger lately, and I miss your inspiring blogs. But vacation has a way of picking up my momentum. I'll be back with that next time.