Friday, November 30, 2007

VeganMoFo: Pizza

On the last day of VeganMoFo, I bring you pizza! I'm having Internet issues, so photos and links will have to wait. :( I'd been thinking about Hawaiian pizza for some odd reason. It was never something I liked as an omni, so goodness knows where this thought originated. I had leftover pizza sauce from the day I tried Trader Joe's faux meatballs (see previous VeganMoFo post), so I bought frozen crust, Follow Your Heart faux mozzarella cheese, faux ham, and organic pineapple chunks on my last Follow Your Heart trip.

The pizza crust was a no-brainer because the ingredients are whole grain brown rice and potato. That's it. It's gluten-free and low fat on top of it. It turned out crispy, which I like, but it stuck to the back of my teeth a little. Still, I'd by this crust again (the brand is Nature's Hilights) as it tasted good and is quite healthy.

The verdict? I like pizza, but pineapple on pizza isn't my thing. I might try FYH jack on pizza next time to see if the flavor has more punch. The mozzarella is good, just very mild.

I'm cutting this post short because it's late. Photos as soon as the Internet starts behaving!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

VeganMoFo: The Great American Detox Diet

I mentioned in an earlier post that I followed Alex Jamieson's The Great American Detox Diet for 7 weeks in June and July 2006. It was a very enjoyable experience and I've maintained many of the detox points as part of my daily diet. The book is a fantastic resource and I highly recommend buying a copy or at least checking it out from the library.

My favorite recipe from the cookbook is for Orange Date Scones. I made a batch of these every week while I was on the detox and ate them every weekday for breakfast. Except that I made Lemon Raisin Scones because it's easier to throw raisins in than to chop dates and because lemons are less expensive and easier to find than juice oranges. These scones are fantastic! They use 2 kinds of spelt flour and maple or brown rice syrup, so no refined flour or sugar (obviously, because those are 2 things from which you are detoxing on Chef Alex's plan).

I suppose I should tell you about the photo, though, right? Those are the Broccoli and Miso Calzones from Chef Alex's book that I made at some point while I was following the detox program. For me, this was an ambitious project because it was the first time I'd worked with yeast other than the 2 whole times I used my bread machine (and the last so far, actually). I remember it being a very time-consuming recipe, but also one that was worthwhile and delicious. The combination of broccoli and miso is delicious. I wonder, though, since the miso is baked inside of the calzones, does it lose most of its nutritional benefits? I just now thought of that.

In other news, my copy of The Damn Tasty! Vegan Baking Guide arrived today. I took advantage of the sale over at Squirrel's Vegan Kitchen and bought one of the "oops!" copies for only $8! Plus, she sent me a postcard and an adorable little pin of a chocolate chip cookie w/ a bite out of it. The chocolate chips form a "V" for vegan. I put it on my lunch bag. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

VeganMoFo: Sweet & Sara Review

I think it was sometime at the end of September when my most recent Vegan Essentials order arrived. Being that I'm surrounded by multiple Trader Joe's and Whole Foods stores and Follow Your Heart is so close, I rarely order from Vegan Essentials and the equally wonderful Vegan Store Pangea. However, on occasion I want or need something that I can't find locally. This particular order included Cheezly (see my VeganMoFo review of it in an earlier November post) and a bottle of vegan flax oil capsules, among many sugary goodies.

I first tried Sweet & Sara marshmallows last winter, I believe. At the time, they had three flavors: Vanilla, Mexican Chocolate, and Toasted Coconut. The vanilla flavor is good, but the chocolate and toasted coconut flavors are GREAT. I really loved the chocolate, which is apparently now obsolete. :(

I must've been feeling feisty when I placed this recent Vegan Essentials order because I added Sweet & Sara's S'Mores to my little online shopping cart. The verdict? They are very sweet. You know how some things are just so sweet that they barely taste like anything? Sweet & Sara's S'Mores are a good example of that. Instead of a marshmallow and a piece of chocolate between two graham crackers, this S'More is a layer of graham with marshmallow fluff on it and the whole thing is enrobed in chocolate. The graham cracker layer is very crumbly and not terribly flavorful. The chocolate is too sweet and could've been higher quality. This S'More is a pleasant treat, but I'd rather make my own with better quality graham crackers and chocolate. Luckily for me, Follow Your Heart now carries the vanilla Sweet & Sara marshmallows and vegan graham crackers, so I certainly could make them if I wanted to!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

VeganMoFo: 3-in-1

Well, I guess I owe you 3 posts in today's installment to make up for Sunday and Monday. Honestly, I haven't been eating anything interesting. I finished my leftovers today at lunch and I had cereal for dinner (I know). So, I think I'll just give you a few anecdotes. How's that?

1. As you may recall, I spent a year living in Toulouse, France, where I was fortunate enough to be a friend of Your Vegan Mom. At that point in my life, I really didn't know how to cook. Let me demonstrate: Nearly every day for lunch, I ate a salad of canned chickpeas and canned corn. Really. Nearly every night for dinner, I ate white rice and canned lentils. As an aside, I've never had better canned lentils than those they sold at Casino (my French grocery store) and I used to get this yummy golden crust on my rice because my pot wasn't non-stick.

Anyway, while we were in France, the little group of friends that included Your Vegan Mom and me used to have dinner parties. I can't remember if they were monthly or just whenever, but we each hosted one in our apartment. Since Your Vegan Mom was vegetarian (I'm not sure if she was vegan yet), our dinner parties were also vegetarian. I might be completely mistaken, but I think we might have had Mexican food the night the Your Vegan Mom and her roommate hosted. When it was my turn, I think I bought pre-made crepes and filled them with something and pre-made tart shells that I filled with vanilla pudding and berries. Seriously gourmet. I'm sure there was some kind of salad, too. Thank goodness I learned how to cook once I became vegetarian!

2. The title of this blog corresponds to a little chant I used to have whenever I wanted to eat at Real Food Daily as a new vegetarian. My then-boyfriend (a lovely omni) and I would be driving and trying to decide what we wanted for lunch/dinner. I'd break into chants of "Hug-ger Food! Hug-ger Food!" If only you could've heard my voice as I chanted this. Real Food Daily was pretty much the only dedicated vegan restaurant I knew about at the time and, unfortunately, my then-boyfriend was not a fan (of the restaurant; he loves vegan food in general).

3. I used to get upper-respiratory infections very frequently when I was growing up (mostly bronchitis and I had walking pneumonia once). As a pre-vegan adult, I got a sinus infection every time my allergies flared up (so, several times a year). Since I eliminated dairy from my diet (February 2001), knock on wood, I have never had a sinus infection. Ever. In that time, I've had the flu twice (once that lasted 12 hours and once that lasted 3 days), one cold, and laryngitis. That's it in 6 years. It was shocking to me once I started to realize how I had changed from someone with frequent illnesses to someone with an immune system of steel. And I have veganism to thank for that. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

VeganMoFo: Stuffing

Sheree of Boo's Veg-a-Nut requested the Del 'n' Coluch vegan stuffing recipe that I use every Thanksgiving and clued me in on the etiquette behind posting someone else's recipe. Here's the modified recipe w/ my notes in brackets (some of the bracketed notes are in present tense to represent what I always do with this recipe and some are in past tense to represent what I did this time):

Toasty Tasty Stuffing (Vegan)

1/2 c. walnuts (chopped)
1/2 c. almonds (slivered)
1 block tofu (soft) [I use water-packed soft tofu and press it]
1 1/2 T. Earth Balance [I used a small pat, probably less than 1 T.]
5 small stalks celery (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 c. apple juice
1/2 t. un-chicken bouillon (Bill's Best) [I used poultry seasoning]
1/2 t. veggie bouillon (Organic Gourmet)
1/2 t. yeast extract (Organic Gourmet)
1/2 c. orange juice [I used apple juice]
5 large slices bread [I use a bag of pre-cut Whole Foods bread cubes]
1/2 c. applesauce

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the walnuts and almonds on aluminum foil and toast approx. 3 minutes until brown. Set aside.

Drain and rinse the tofu [I press mine]. Pat it dry to get rid of excess water. On a low flame, melt the EB in a large pot. Crumble the tofu into the pot of melted EB. Chop the veggies, then increase the flame to medium and add the veggies to the tofu. Mix well. Saute for 10 minutes or so.

Carefully add the apple juice, seasonings [Bill's Best does taste better in this recipe than poultry seasoning, but I had run out and was using what I had on hand], yeast, and orange juice [again, OJ tastes better in this recipe than twice the apple juice, but I don't usually have OJ on hand and had forgotten to buy some]. Stir, then cook another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cube the bread into bite-sized squares [unless you've bought pre-prepared cubes like me]. Add the bread and applesauce to the mixture, then mix well. Cook another 5-10 minutes until you like the consistency. The tofu should be slightly brown by this time. Season with salt and pepper to taste [I didn't]. Add the nuts and serve hot. If you'd like crispy stuffing, place the stuffing in a greased 9x13 glass dish and bake at 350F for 15 minutes [I do bake it for crispiness].

Friday, November 23, 2007

Vegan MoFo: Thanksgiving

3 or 4 years ago, I attended a vegetarian Thanksgiving cooking class offered by Whole Foods with local chefs Del 'n' Coluch. Every year since, I've made the Toasty Tasty Stuffing for my Thanksgiving meal. I do change some things in the recipe, but I'm not totally sure of the etiquette for putting up someone else's recipe (i.e. how many changes do you need to make for it to be ok), so I'll keep it to myself for now. I'll say that the recipe includes soft tofu and toasted almond and walnuts, so there's plenty of protein to be found just in the stuffing. That's my way of telling you that I don't usually make a separate protein for my meal. :) Whole Foods sells bags of bread cubes (or rectangles) around this time of year, so I just buy a bag of those to make life easier. Otherwise, this recipe involves celery and garlic (I sub more celery for the shallots) and seasonings. It's a recipe that's easy to make, reheats well, and tastes great!

I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who made Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan's Chocolate Pumpkin Pie this year. I bought an Arrowhead Mills Chocolate Pie Crust, but thought it'd be nice to bake the pie in a Pyrex pie plate instead of in the foil pie plate that was the crust's packaging. So, I put my hand on the inside of the crust and turned it upside down, thinking it'd come out whole on my hand and I could slip it into the Pyrex. No such luck. Most of the crust ended up in my sink. Oops! Thinking back to this FatFree Vegan Kitchen pie, I decided to make my Chocolate Pumpkin Pie crustless. After I took the photo, I realized that I could make crumbs out of the remaining crust and sprinkle it over the top of the pie. The pie is fantastic without the crust, so disaster averted! If I make this again, I'll make it crustless on purpose. I used Sunspire Grain-Sweetened Chocolate Chips, which is my favorite vegan chocolate chip. The pie came out richly chocolatey and nicely spiced from the organic pumpkin pie mix I used. I've never liked pumpkin pie, but I liked this one, so there may be hope for me to like regular pumpkin pie yet!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

VeganMoFo: Gratitude

Tomorrow, I'll post the photos of the Thanksgiving food (stuffing and chocolate pumpkin pie) I prepared. In the meantime, I'm taking a moment of gratitude for all of the blessings and challenges in my life. It's a moment I take daily in my mind and one I wanted to quickly share with you this evening. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with those you love and who love you. Bonne nuit!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

VeganMoFo: Vegyogini Routine

Vegan Noodle asked which are my favorite Luna Bars and I'm not feeling like a long post, so I'm going to tell you about my weekday morning routine. I don't know about you, but I don't like to eat first thing in the morning. I also don't like to eat a big breakfast during the week (I save those for special occasions). I wake up at 6:30 to get ready for work and am out the door by 7:20 for what is generally a commute of an hour and fifteen minutes or longer. On my morning commute, I drink an entire bottle of water (either 16 or 20 oz. depending on what I have on hand). When I get to work, I refill my water bottle* and make myself a mug of green tea, usually around 9 a.m. After I nurse my green tea and finally finish it, it's on to the day's Luna Bar.

I'm sure you won't be surprised when I tell you that, every Monday, I bring in a week's worth of Luna Bars and that I eat them in order of my favorite to my least favorite (although I obviously only buy flavors I like). Yes, I'm that regimented. Here's the order:

Monday: Caramel Nut Brownie (lick-the-extra-caramel-off-the-wrapper good)
Tuesday: Peanut Butter Cookie (just like the Girl Scout PB sandwich cookies)
Wednesday: Chocolate Peppermint Stick (like Girl Scout Thin Mints, but better)
Thursday: Chocolate Raspberry (soft with a strong raspberry flavor)
Friday: Cookies 'n Cream Delight (sweet & more crumbly than the other flavors)
Runner up: Chocolate Pecan Pie (sweet and chocolatey)

I haven't tried the new Berry Almond flavor yet. The only flavor I actually dislike is Lemon Zest. It's too sweet and has an odd flavor. I'll eat it if I have no other option, but I'd rather not.

What if I have a day or two off one week, you might ask? I still go in flavor order from top to bottom and I'll save the extra Cookies 'n Cream Delight for a pre-yoga meal or for a weekend breakfast.

I buy my Luna Bars at Whole Foods because they cost 99 cents each and, if you buy a whole case of a flavor, you get 10% off the case. Meaning, that I buy a case each of the aforementioned flavors at a time and don't have to replenish my supply for about 15 weeks.

The rest of the morning, I just drink water until lunch time. I'm not a snacker. :)

*I'm a strong believer in drinking at least 64 oz. of water per day, which is about 4 bottles.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

VeganMoFo: Clif Bar Review

This one's going to be kind of short and sweet...

I practice yoga, as you may have derived from my screen name, and a couple of the classes I regularly attend leave me nothing more than 5 minutes between finishing my nightly commute and arriving at class. Many people practice yoga on an empty stomach, but I find the hunger pangs distracting, so I at least eat a piece of fruit about an hour before class (while I'm driving or right before leaving work). When I was at Whole Foods the other day, with a coupon in hand, I decided to try a few flavors of Clif Bars as a pre-yoga meal. Usually, I stay away from Clif Bars because they are a little high in calories for my taste, but I had a coupon and MoFo posts to produce. I bought 3 flavors and have tried 2 so far: Peanut Toffee Buzz and Cool Mint Chocolate.

Both flavors were soft, but dense and chewy; a very nice texture combination. The Peanut Toffee Buzz had a really good peanut flavor. My only complaint is that it only had a couple toffee pieces in it. I would've liked a little toffee in each bite. As for the Cool Mint Chocolate, I'm a big fan of the mint chocolate flavor duo and this had just the right amount of both.

Bonus: The Clif Bars kept me full for a good 4 hours after eating them.

Although Clif Bars are yummy, that won't change the fact that I'm a Luna Bar devotee, but that's another story for another day. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

VeganMoFo: Follow Your Heart

I went to lunch at Follow Your Heart yesterday afternoon. I'd call it brunch, especially because I ordered a brunch special, but it was about 2 p.m. Does that still count as brunch? Anyway...

All I had was my cell phone, as it was an impromptu visit, so I apologize for the quality of the photo. I ordered the Tofu Benedict special, which came with tofu scramble, breakfast potatoes, and chorizo. They have an amazing breakfast white bean side dish that is one of my favorite foods there, so I subbed it for the tofu scramble. I was already getting a big slab of tofu per English muffin half for the Tofu Benedict, so I thought tofu scramble would be overkill. What about the rest of my picky habits, you ask? Yes, I ordered the Tofu Benedict without the tomato. Sue me. The Tofu Benedict was a first for me and it was DELICIOUS. Wow, I didn't expect to like it so much, but I loved it. I will definitely order it again. The English muffin was whole wheat and the tofu was firm. The sauce was thick and creamy. It was so flavorful, but I couldn't put my finger on the flavors, so I looked it up in my Follow Your Heart Cookbook when I got home. If it's the same recipe, the ingredients are: Vegenaise, lemon juice, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. I ate one half of the benedict and was pretty full, so I only sampled the other items on my plate (ok, I ate all the breakfast potatoes, but there wasn't so much after I picked out the onions). The potatoes had red pepper and the aforementioned onions mixed with them. They were crispy and very yummy. I wasn't a fan of the chorizo, so I only tasted it. It was kind of sweet and not hot enough. I thought chorizo was supposed to be spicy. Was I wrong? The white beans, as I mentioned, were fantastic. I brought home most of the white beans and an entire half of the Tofu Benedict for some yummy leftovers. :)

Of course, no trip to Follow Your Heart would be complete without some grocery shopping. Stay tuned to see what I bought and how I use those items!

I also had to make trips to both Whole Foods and Trader Joe's yesterday afternoon. I confirmed that our Whole Foods does still carry the WholeSoy Chocolate Hazelnut frozen yogurt. Whew! You guys had me scared for a moment! I picked up some Peppermint Chocolate and Holly Nog VitaSoy. I absolutely love the Peppermint Chocolate. Then again, I'm just a mint chocolate kind of girl. Is it too late to change my favorite candy response in the VeganMoFo survey to Peppermint Ritter Sport? It somehow slipped my mind at the time.

Ok, I'll stop rambling now...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

VeganMoFo: Your Vegan Mom Treats

You may have already seen these beauties over on To Live and Eat in L.A., but they're deserving of a post here, too. I'd never been fortunate enough to sample Your Vegan Mom's cooking before, but boy was it ever worth the wait! These tiny almond-apricot-chocolate cakes were nothing short of divine. The cake was delicate and perfectly almondy, the apricot jam layer was subtle and sweet, and the chocolate was dark and lovely. Topped with toasted almonds, these tiny cakes were hands-down the best dessert I've had in a VERY LONG time. I can only hope that she'll share the recipe!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

VeganMoFo: Friends, Pure Luck, & Scoops

Today involved several "firsts." Your Vegan Mom, her adorable and energetic son, and I met Foodeater in person for the first time! We had so much fun talking about anything and everything that came to mind over food at Pure Luck in Los Angeles on N. Heliotrope. The others had sampled Pure Luck's cuisine before, but it was my first time. I had the burrito with jackfruit "carnitas," which was accompanied by a caesar salad. As you know, I'm picky, so I got the avocado on the side to share with Your Vegan Mom's little guy, no onions on anything, and the salsa verde on the side. Now, I don't recall ever having eaten carnitas as an onmi, but let me tell you that jackfruit does an amazing impression of meat (from what I can recall). Wow, I think you could fool the most die-hard meat-eater with this stuff. They should start pre-packaging jackfruit to sell at Whole Foods in the tofu, tempeh, and seitan section. The burrito was fantastic and I dipped my bites in the salsa verde, which was perfect. The caesar was so good. I really enjoyed this meal. Of course, I had to save half of my burrito so I'd have room to get vegan ice cream across the street at Scoops!

By the way, the server at Pure Luck was so friendly and accommodating. It was obvious that she recognized my lunch companions from their previous visits and she had a lot of fun running around after the little guy. When she came out to let me know that they had accidentally put the salsa on the burrito instead of leaving it on the side, she was totally cool about it when I opted to have them make a new one (I'm sorry I'm so picky!).

Back to the food...It was also my first time going to Scoops, an ice cream parlor that features four vegan flavors daily. The four vegan flavors of the day were: cookies & cream, pumpkin spice, coffee (& Jim Beam, I think), and strawberry jasmine. They happily allowed me to try each and every vegan flavor before deciding. :) When you order a scoop, you actually get two, so I got the pumpkin and coffee in a cup. The coffee was really good and the texture was spot-on. I couldn't taste the Jim Beam, which is good because I don't like alcohol. The pumpkin tasted fantastic, but the texture was a bit course and icy.

On our trip to Scoops, the little guy had a first, too...his first ice cream cone! You should have seen the zest with which he ate this ice cream. What an incredible joy it is to watch kids discover things for the first time.

Oh, and another was my first time photographing food at a restaurant!

Friday, November 16, 2007

VeganMoFo: Jelly Donut Cupcakes

These Veganomicon cupcakes were a birthday gift for my dear friend J, who used to be the assistant in my department and moved into another assistant position within our company. In March, I made her the Coconut-Lime Cupcakes from VCTOTW when she left our department. I apparently set the bar extremely high with March's cupcakes because these didn't go over very well. We both thought they were ok, but not great. The cake is very moist, which is wonderful, and these are really easy to make. So easy, in fact, that I was hoping they'd be the best cupcakes ever and I could make them for everybody's birthday from now on. Alas, I probably won't be making these again. I don't know how to pinpoint my disappointment. Maybe it's because I'm not used to eating baked goods full of AP flour and white sugar. They made my tummy hurt. :( Maybe it was because the cake part didn't have a lot of flavor and, instead, sort of tasted like the AP flour more than the added vanilla and nutmeg. Whatever the reason, I'm sorry to say that these were not all that I'd hoped.

Chickpea-Noodle Soup update: Still great the next day! I was right that a lot of the liquid was absorbed overnight, but there was still enough left to keep its soup title. I also gave a bowl to an omni who quite enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

VeganMoFo: Chickpea-Noodle Soup

We interrupt the regularly-scheduled Veganomicon Jelly Donut Cupcake review for this emergency Veganomicon Chickpea-Noodle Soup review. Like many of you, I have allergies. They generally kick in when the barometric pressure changes drastically and/or when the Santa Ana winds are in action. Well, here in L.A., we've been enjoying 85 degree days when, just a week ago, it was cold outside (ok, it was only cold for a few days). My point is that I started to feel a tiny twinge of my allergies last night and then again beginning late this afternoon. I quickly downed some Emergen-C and realized that dinner tonight really needed to be soup. I was going to make Cindy O's "Chicken" and Rice Soup for the Soul from La Dolce Vegan, which was very comforting when I had a bad cold in March (since going vegan, I pretty much only get sick once every 2 years or so and it never lasts as long as it would in a non-veg). Then, I remembered that, among the generous sampling of Veganomicon recipes on the PPK site, there was a recipe for Chickpea-Noodle Soup (I didn't have the book with me and I wanted to see what the recipe entailed). I looked up the recipe and, lo and behold, I had all the ingredients! I only made a few substitutions: 5 stalks of celery, chopped, in place of the onion, pre-packaged grated carrot, 3 cloves of garlic instead of 2 (I have pre-peeled garlic from Trader Joe's and the cloves are vacuum-sealed in sets of 3 cloves), Organic mellow white miso, and 8 ounces of Trader Joe's Organic Sprouted Wheat Pappardelle (I didn't have any soba and I thought the fat pappardelle noodles would be nice, plus Isa and Terry warn against using soba in this soup if you're not going to eat it all at once). I meant to add spinach, but I forgot. I was worried that it would be too garlicky with the 3 cloves, but I really can't even taste the garlic. Oh, I used Trader Joe's Organic Vegetable Broth. Anyway, as if it weren't already evident from this enthusiastic entry, I LOVE this soup! Seriously, I can't wait to eat it again for lunch tomorrow. I'm pretty sure that it'll be far less soupy tomorrow, though, because the noodles already appear to be soaking up the broth as it cools on the stove. I really don't care because it's just that good.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

VeganMoFo: Dislikes and News

I seem to have caused quite an uproar in the last post where I "outed" myself as a devout onion hater. So, just to get this out of the way now, here are the other strong "no thanks yous" on my list:

1) Avocado. I don't like its texture or flavor.
2) Raw tomato. I'm definitely a fan of cooked tomatoes, but I can't handle their taste and texture raw. Also, since I was born, I've had a sensitivity/allergy to tomatoes. They give me eczema and, when I went on a tomato spree a couple months ago, gave me abdominal pain. I need to eat tomatoes in moderation.
3) Sea veggies that taste like the sea. I didn't grow up eating seafood because my brother is allergic and my mom doesn't like it. Between the time that I was 18 and 22, I incorporated a TINY bit of seafood into my diet in the form of sushi and the occasional salmon. Ever since going veg, though, I can't stand the taste of nori, so no vegan sushi for me. Oh, and no thank you to vegan faux seafood (i.e. fake shrimp and the like).
4) Side note: As a non-veg, I couldn't stand cream cheese, sour cream, ricotta cheese, and cottage cheese. Basically, white creamy stuff and I didn't mix. So, as a vegan, I've generally stayed away from substitutes for these items (I don't think a cottage cheese sub exists, though), but I'm open to trying them.

On to the news (I'm covering my ears so I don't hear you booing at me for my dislikes list. I can only hope you'll forgive me soon.): I received Veganomicon today!! I also received vegan butterscotch chips from BitterSweet. They don't taste great plain, but I'm hoping they'll perk up in baked goods. :)

UPDATE: Ok, so I posted this less than 2 hours ago, but I just had to tell you that Veganomicon's Jelly Donut Cupcakes are cooling on my counter! They're for a work friend's birthday tomorrow. My book got here just in time!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

VeganMoFo: Faux Meatball Review

Sunday night, I decided to FINALLY try Trader Joe's faux meatballs. As mentioned previously, I hate onions (and anything that tastes like an onion, which includes leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives...did I leave anything out?). I'm sure you're thinking that I can't possibly hate onions so much that their mere presence in a faux meatball would stop me from trying said meatball, but you'd be wrong.* Onions are very low on the ingredients list and, yet, I still avoided the faux meatballs due to the onion factor. In honor of VeganMoFo, I decided to give them a shot. I cooked up a batch of my favorite pizza/marinara sauce, which is the one that accompanies the Pita Pizza recipe in Foods That Cause You to Lose Weight and baked up a serving size of faux meatballs. They were good as long as they were drenched in sauce. Otherwise, they were just ok. I don't think I'd buy them again, but it was a good experiment. :)

P.S. Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan and The Joy of Vegan Baking arrived yesterday!

*Let the record show that I will pick onions out of anything...pasta sauce, soup, rice dishes, ANYTHING...and I won't begin eating until I've successfully rid my food of the offending veggie. If I'm ordering off a menu and the chef isn't able to leave the onions out, I won't order that dish. It's true; I'm hard core on the onion issue.

Monday, November 12, 2007

VeganMoFo: Q&A

This list was posted on But Did They Eat It? today. Apparently, it originated with Food Snobbery Is My Hobbery. Here are my answers:

1. Favorite non-dairy milk? West Soy non-fat plain soy milk. That's what I use in cereal, cooking, etc. If I'm going to actually drink it, which is rare, Living Harvest chocolate hemp milk or chocolate soy or almond milk. You'll never catch me drinking plain "milk" because I was never a milk drinker as an omni

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook? If the question means to ask what are the 3 dishes I'm planning to make next, the answer is: probably cupcakes for a friend's birthday Thursday, the Smoky Seitan, Pinto Bean, and Hominy Stew from the November issue of Cooking Light, and something having to do with the pizza sauce I made last night (maybe pita pizzas).

3. Topping of choice for popcorn? I'm not much of a popcorn eater, but lemon pepper and faux parmesan are good.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure? One of my favorite cookbooks is Dr. Neal Barnard's Foods That Cause You to Lose Weight. When I was a brand-new vegetarian, I attempted the Spinach and Mushroom Fritatta. Within the instructions, there is a prompt to "process tofu and tahini," but tahini isn't listed in the ingredients list. So, I just kept adding tahini until the mixture got smooth and it was inedible by the time I was done with it. I haven't tried this recipe again, but if I ever get my hands on a newer edition, I'll check the recipe to see if they fixed it.

5. Favorite pickled item? Cucumbers!

6. How do you organize your recipes? I keep recipes that I print from the internet in a binder on my cookbook shelf. I rarely print them anymore, though, keeping them instead in a "recipes" folder in my e-mail. My cookbooks are organized alphabetically by title in a series of three consecutive overhead kitchen cabinets.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal? Trash and garbage disposal.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)? Fresh blueberries, fresh raspberries, red grapefruit.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood? My maternal grandparents had a crabapple tree that almost never bore fruit, but I remember it for some reason.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream? Whole Soy makes a chocolate hazelnut soy frozen yogurt that reminds me of nutella...yum! Also, pretty much any So Delicious Purely Decadent flavor (mmm, Coconut Craze and Cherry Nirvana). I'm going to Scoops in L.A. this weekend, though, so this answer might change!

11. Most loved kitchen appliance? It's all about the KitchenAid Professional Stand Mixer!

12. Spice/herb you would die without? I wouldn't die without it, but freshly ground black pepper.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time? The two French-language vegetarian cookbooks listed at right.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly? Boysenberry.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend? Either my yummy broccoli-tofu stir-fry or vegan cupcakes.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh? I guess I'd have to say tofu.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)? Dinner.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator? Extra cartoons of soy milk, hemp milk, and Trader Joe's vegetable broth, champagne flutes, and an old dish drainer rack.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking. Corn, Morningstar Farms Vegan Grillers Burgers, raw cashews.

20. What's on your grocery list? I just went to Trader Joe's yesterday, so the list is empty!

21. Favorite grocery store? Trader Joe's!

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet. I would never be so bold as to attempt to veganize angel food cake and meringue cookies, but I'd love it if someone else would do so!

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3? This would be like choosing your favorite child; it's an unfair question and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Please see the blogroll at right.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate? I don't buy these often, but I think Sjaak's Nuts and Chews assortment is the best of the vegan chocolate boxes. I wish Jelly Bellys were vegan...that's my all-time favorite candy. I always went for the sugary candy as opposed to the chocolaty candy.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately? As far as price goes, probably Newman's Own Ginger-Os. I saw so many bloggers using them that I had to give them a try. I think they were about $4.50!

26. Make up your own question to put here (and answer it). Name a vegan staple food (or one that appears to be a staple in everyone else's eyes) that isn't one of your vegan staple foods: Tofu scramble. I think I'd better step up and give it another try! For some reason, it just doesn't really appeal to me.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

VeganMoFo: Red Rice & Beans

Last night, I decided it was time to put my Trader Joe's veggie juice to use. I had bought a bottle of the aforementioned juice to use in Celine's Creamy Tomato Soup about a month ago and it's been sitting sadly and about half full in my fridge ever since. You see, drinking veggie juice, or tomato juice for that matter, plain does not strike my fancy. After leafing through Vegan Lunch Box, it became clear that the Red Rice & Beans recipe would use a little of my veggie juice, so I decided to go for it. I cut the oil down to 1 teaspoon because I'm a "the lower the fat, the better" kind of girl. I am also an onion hater (my apologies), so I substituted grated carrots for the onion and for the bell pepper that I was missing. I was very excited about this dish, mind you. I used to love that boxed Spanish rice back when my mom made it in my youth and I figured this would be similar. I was right; however, I had one big problem with the recipe. The problem was that the amount of veggie juice and water called for in the recipe wasn't nearly enough to cook the rice. Unfortunately, this didn't become clear until my kitchen timer beeped 25 minutes after covering the pot and leaving it to simmer. So, here I am with partially cooked red rice, not quite sure what to do next. I added another 1/4 cup of veggie juice and 1/4 cup of water and left it to simmer for a little while longer. No luck. At that point, I decided to cut my losses, portioned a bowl out for myself, drizzled it with water, and stuck it in the microwave for 3 minutes. That made it edible, at least. The flavor of the dish is good; the rice just wasn't fully cooked. Today, I had leftovers for lunch, mixed with some chipotle sauce. It was much better and the rice must have absorbed some moisture overnight in the fridge because it was tender enough this time. Whew! Another recipe saved!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

VeganMoFo: Faux Cheese Review

I fear that I might be kicked out of the vegan blogging community for this, but here goes...

I've tried the Mozzarella Style and Smoked Cheddar Style Sheese and the Mozzarella Style and Mature Cheddar Style Cheezly and they are nearly identical products, in my opinion. I was not impressed. Don't get me wrong, they're not unpleasant and they're not bad. They're just not great or worth $8+ per round. The texture is too soft for my taste, maybe a little like more solid cream cheese (I never ate cream cheese as an omni, so I don't know if that's a perfect comparison) than the mozzarella and cheddar cheese I remember. Mind you, I haven't eaten cheese in 6.5 years, but I believe I remember its texture. They melt, but they don't melt how real cheese does...they just kind of soften more.

The taste of all 4 flavors was pretty mild and not necessarily cheesy (the smoked cheddar Sheese probably had the best flavor). I tried them all plain, in grilled cheese, and in recipes. I used the last of the mozzarella Cheezly to make a "quesadilla" on brown rice tortillas. A liberal dose of chipotle sauce livened up this otherwise bland meal. The moral of the story is that, again this is only my opinion, these are not realistic cheese replacements.

For now, Follow Your Heart's cheese will remain my preference (although, I have to admit that I very rarely eat/use faux cheese at home). Their nacho flavor is really good. I've yet to try Veganrella (I can't find their website, so no link), so I suppose that should be next on my list. Stay tuned...

VeganMoFo: Restaurant review

Being that yesterday was Friday, I didn't have a chance to blog, so I'm aiming for two entries today. First off, an omni restaurant review: Our go-to restaurant in the Valley that consistently pleases everyone is Gio Cucina Napoletana in Encino. They always have at least 4 freshly-made vegan soups daily (these change based on what's available seasonally), a vegan calzone(!) made with whole wheat flour, a vegan whole wheat pasta dish, and a number of salads that can be veganized by requesting that the cheese be left off. All that, plus they give you fresh bread w/ vegan olive tapenade and little bruschettas while you're contemplating the menu. There's a lovely selection of sorbets on the dessert menu if you're not too stuffed from your meal. It's a tiny, mom and pop Italian restaurant where the staff rarely changes and they greet you with a smile of recognition. This is my absolute favorite Italian restaurant by far.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

VeganMoFo: Chili

Way back in March (I believe it was March 2), we had a chili cook-off at work. There were 14 entries and mine was the only vegetarian one. The panel of judges consisted of 3 avowed omnis who were not in our department. I entered only so I would have something to eat, knowing that I would still have a full crock pot to take home at the end of the day. I made the only chili I've ever loved, the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili from The Great American Detox Diet along with the corn muffins from Vegan Lunch Box. Imagine my great surprise when I won third place for my chili! The judges said the only reason I didn't win first place is that there was no meat in my chili. Whatever. I was thrilled with third, especially because that was their criteria. Oh, and I'm pretty sure that I went home with an empty crock pot. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

VeganMoFo: Eggplant

Months ago, I bought some beautiful Japanese eggplants at my local farmers' market with the sole intention of making this FatFreeVegan dish. Oh my goodness, it was amazing! I absolutely loved the flavor and texture. Plus, it was very easy to make even though it seems fancy. Wow, I posted a photo!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

VeganMoFo: Eat Your Greens!

As you can see by the list at right, I have a LOT of cookbooks. One great thing about VeganMoFo is that it gives me the motivation to actually, *gasp*, cook from these lovely books. Tonight, I dove into La Dolce Vegan for the Sesame Roasted Asparagus. I also sauteed some baby spinach in a little sesame oil because it needed to be used before going bad. These lovely green dishes are for my lunches the next two days, so I haven't tried them yet. I'll most likely pack the green veggies along with a brown rice tortilla (I believe I'm the only person in the world who truly likes these from Trader Joe's) and a red grapefruit.

I don't know how this happened, but I have been eating a red grapefruit at lunchtime daily for so many months that I can't recall when this habit began. I painstakingly peel away all the layers of pith and eat them like an orange. What can I say? I have no explanation; it just is what it is. :)

San Francisco Green Festival

Guess what? I won 2 tickets to the San Francisco Green Festival THIS weekend! I entered the VegNews contest without realizing the dates of the fest, so the tickets are up for grabs. If you're in the L.A. area, I'm happy to meet you to hand them off. Otherwise, I'll mail them to the first person who wants them. They aren't in my hands yet, though. They're being mailed to me first. So, if you're not on the West Coast, it might be difficult to get them to you in time. Let me know...

Monday, November 5, 2007

VeganMoFo catch-up

Does this count? I missed blogging on Nov. 2 and 3, so I'm going to make this post a 3-in-1! The lovely Katie posted this list to help people with VeganMoFo topics and I'm going to answer/discuss three of them here:

1. My first vegan restaurant experience was while I was in my first year of law school (also the year I went vegetarian). I had made a vegan friend and we, with some other law school colleagues, went to Real Food Daily in West Hollywood for lunch one day. I still remember that I ordered the Yin Yang salad and loved it! I feel incredibly fortunate to live in a city that is so vegan-friendly.

2. Last night, I pulled out my copy of The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak and made the Cheezy Rice and Broccoli Casserole. This is only the second recipe I've made from this book and I've had it for about a year. Let me tell you, it was easy to make and it tastes great! I left out the optional olive oil and also left out the garlic. Now, don't get me wrong, I love garlic, but I wasn't feeling like adding it to this casserole. Something interesting to note, though: I think I might have a mild allergy to nutritional yeast. :( Don't worry, that won't stop me from eating it!

3. I've found that the best vegan "dish" to make for someone afraid of vegan food is a batch of cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World or Vegan with a Vengeance. I've made a couple batches to take to work and, let me tell you, they disappear. People stop by my cubicle, peer into the container of cupcakes and tentatively ask if they may have one. Next thing I know, they're asking for thirds!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Cooking Light

I've had a Cooking Light subscription for years. It was always a gift subscription and, despite the fact that nobody has paid for my subscription for years, it still comes in the mail on a monthly basis. I enjoy flipping through it and a lot of their recipes are easily veganized, but I rarely make recipes from it and I won't be renewing if it actually stops coming this year. That being said, imagine my immense surprise and excitement when I received the November 2007 issue and found that this month's "Inspired Vegetarian" column features Alex Jamieson, author of The Great American Detox Diet! Her book is one of my favorites and I recommend it to people quite often. I spent 7 weeks on her detox program in June and July 2006 and really enjoyed it. The "Inspired Vegetarian" column is usually more of a lacto-ovo veg column and I was very happy to see them recognize veganism this time. As if all that weren't exciting enough, there's also a recipe in a completely different column for "Smoky Seitan, Pinto Bean, and Hominy Stew." Hooray for seitan in an omni magazine!! I believe they also featured tempeh recipes in another recent issue. So, big kudos from me to Cooking Light for being open to sharing vegan recipes and meat replacements with their readers!

P.S. I still don't know how to post photos and I know today is already 4 days into VeganMoFo, but maybe this post can count toward it anyway?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy World Vegan Day!

As the lovely and talented VeggieGirl pointed out in someone else's comments section, today is World Vegan Day. Isn't it cool that there is such a thing? Now, if I only had time to make something special tonight to celebrate...