Monday, December 29, 2008

An Enormous "Thank You!"

You know how sometimes you receive a gift that's so unexpected and thoughtful that it brings a lump to your throat? Such was my reaction today when I saw a shiny purple box addressed to me on my desk at work. I'd stepped away and missed the mail person bringing it by, so there it was, ready to greet me when I walked back. I don't know if she wants her identity revealed, so what I'll tell you is that this gift came straight from one of the most talented, generous, and kind vegan bloggers among us. While I thanked her privately via e-mail, these delicious brownies laced with Oreo-type cookies deserve a thank you post. Thank you, sweet and fabulous blogger friend! Again, you made my week!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday Lunch

This year, I really wanted to make a holiday meal. I've been invited to a vegan holiday dinner party tonight, so I made lunch!

On the right is Salisbury Seitan from the Real Food Daily Cookbook. I made a half recipe, using seitan that I'd frozen after my Iranian feast in October. My only changes were to omit the oil and substitute vegetable broth in both the seitan marinade and the Golden Gravy. Oh, and I omitted the onion and increased the garlic in the gravy, as well.

The Salisbury Seitan is a very delicious and festive dish. I've had it at the Real Food Daily restaurants, where it's served with mashed potatoes and salad in a TV dinner sort of way, but I think it transitioned well for a holiday meal. The thyme and sage compliment the other flavors, such as dijon mustard and tahini, beautifully.

Surprisingly, it was a fairly easy main dish to make, too. I already had the seitan (but that was easy to make way back when and can obviously be prepared in advance) and the marinade barely required anything more than whisking. The gravy took a very long time to thicken, so be prepared to exercise your patience and you'll be nicely rewarded for the wait.

To the left is a repeat of the cranberry sauce that I made for Thanksgiving this year, but I added in the optional balsamic vinegar this time. At the top is my favorite stuffing, made with vegetable broth instead of orange juice and pecans instead of walnuts because I'd run out (I much prefer this with the orange juice and walnuts).

I'm bringing dessert to the party this evening and it's a test recipe for Hannah Kaminsky's current cookbook project. I haven't tasted it yet, but I know it'll be worth it's own post!

P.S. Although Indian dinner would have been nice last night, yesterday's Copper Chimney post was actually from a lunch I had the first week of December! Sorry for the confusion. :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Copper Chimney, Part 2

I can hardly get enough of Copper Chimney's fabulous food. On my second visit, which was at the beginning of December (and, yes, there's already been a third!), I ordered something entirely different than the first time. Taking Foodeater's advice, I tried the Tofu Masala (from the menu: Tofu sautéed with tomatoes, onions, spices & garnished with cilantro (specially prepared sans onions pour moi)) and Paprika Rice.

Wow, the masala sauce is packed with spice and flavor and so delicious! The tofu was a bit soft, but not unpleasantly so. I'm just not sure if a tofu novice would care for the texture. While I couldn't taste the spices in the rice, it was perfectly cooked and a wonderful accompaniment to the tofu dish.

I'll be sure to stagger my Copper Chimney posts so you're not inundated, but please visit this restaurant if you're local. The staff is courteous, knowledgeable, and very friendly.

Have a wonderful holiday, whatever you're celebrating!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Proximity Award

I'm slowly making my way through the 350 or so blog posts that have been begging me to catch up on them, so you can imagine my surprise when I realized I'd completely missed being presented with an award! On December 10, the generous, hard-working, and very kind Becca of A Vegan With a Reason gifted me with the Proximity Award that's making the rounds. Thank you so much, Becca!

So as not to leave this post without a photo, here are a few goodies that I ordered with my most recent supply of Deva supplements from Vegan Essentials. From left to right, there are a vegan marshmallow kit by Angel Food, Dr. Cow aged cashew nut cheese (this had better be good considering it's a teeny tiny 3 oz. for $7), and Crumblz (now called Laura Lee's Flaky Peanut Butter Treats), which shockingly do taste like the inside of a Butterfinger candy bar.

I really dislike taking supplements, but I'm trying to heal some joint issues with Thai massage therapy and vegan supplements, so I'm doing the whole "grin and bear it" thing. It just so happens that vegan go down a little bit easier with a side of vegan goodies that aren't readily available in L.A. ;)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

L.A. Vegan Blogger Potluck!

It's true that I have many things on my figurative plate right now and I should be working on getting them done. However, last night was so amazing that I wanted to share with you as soon as possible. You see, Your Vegan Mom, Foodeater, and I decided to co-host an L.A. vegan blogger potluck at my house. Here's a break-down of who was there and what they brought (I apologize if I didn't properly describe your contribution and/or got something else wrong!):

Your Vegan Mom and her husband: Pear-ginger cocktails

Foodeater: Thai appetizers made of rice, peanuts, and taro root and rice (I think), banana, and black beans (these resembled tamales)

Quarrygirl's Miss Anthrope and Mr. Meaner: Chocolate chip cheesecake, vegan Doritos, and spinach (oops, thought it was cilantro!) dip

JennShaggy of Veganize It, Don't Criticize It: Vegan brisket and vegan jelly donut Twinkies

Sunny of Vegan Beauty Review and her husband: So Delicious ice cream and popcorn

Liz of Yo Soy: Pate from Veganomicon with tiny toasts

Alix of Cute and Delicious and her boyfriend: Mini panini filled with white bean spread, mushrooms, and (I think) spinach

Lex of and his girlfriend: Baked or broiled (I forgot to ask their method) ravioli with marinara dipping sauce

The Vegan Collection's Kevin & his girlfriend: Cinnamon rolls

I made Twice Spiced Ginger Cookies from the upcoming Sweet Freedom cookbook:

and Potato-Parsnip Latkes (oil-free!) that I adapted* from The Candle Cafe Cookbook's Mini Potato Latkes recipe:


I can hardly wait until next time!

* I omitted the onion and substituted 2 large parsnips, added 1 teaspoon of sage, went with the applesauce rather than flax egg option, used spelt flour, and made them on my non-stick electric griddle. My mix started to pool liquid, so I strained it again part-way through the prep time and just left the mix in the colander instead of in a bowl. These are probably the first latkes I've ever liked!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Photoless Post

While I was in the Bay Area, I had the chance to cook dinner twice. I was there to help one of my oldest and dearest friends who'd just had her second baby, so what better cookbook to take along than Eat, Drink & Be Vegan? It's very kid friendly and I was cooking for two omnis and a 2.5 year old (the baby was only 2 weeks old when I arrived!), so I needed recipes with easily-recognizable ingredients. My friend and I chose the recipes that I'd be making and settled on Sweet Potato Lentil Chili and Popeye Pasta.

For the chili, I had to use yellow split peas instead of red lentils. Trips to Trader Joe's and the neighborhood Safeway proved futile in the red lentil department, so I used something I thought would provide a fairly similar texture. I also used a can of diced tomatoes and left them as they were instead of blending them as the book suggested. The wonderfully-spiced chili was a huge hit.

The Popeye Pasta was also delicious and packed with nutrients. I made chiffonade of an entire 12 oz. bag of baby spinach. That took quite a bit of patience, especially with knives in need of sharpening, but it worked out well. This was another hit with my friend and her husband, so I'm very pleased! Thanks, ED&BV!

Better Late Than Never...

As you know, I left town the day after Thanksgiving this year and was gone until the following Wednesday. It didn't make sense for me to have a ton of leftovers if I wasn't going to be able to enjoy them, so I didn't make anything that wouldn't last until I got home. I made the same stuffing and pie I blogged about last year here and, true to my word, I made the pie crustless on purpose this time. It's so fudgy and rich, but also warmly spiced. I posted the stuffing recipe here. You know it's delicious since I make it time and time again.

The new player in my Thanksgiving repertoire this year was the Traditional Cranberry Sauce from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. I love cranberry sauce and I don't care for it with orange peel, so this was my ideal recipe. I really wanted to add the intriguing optional balsamic vinegar, but my super yoga strength was not enough to wrest the cap off my bottle of vinegar. Next time!

My mom also set aside some plain green beans and sweet potatoes before she prepared their respective casseroles. All in all, it was a perfect Thanksgiving meal.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Copper Chimney

About a month ago, Foodeater wrote about an Indian restaurant called Copper Chimney. I love Indian food, but rarely eat at Indian restaurants because I'm wary of getting a belly full of ghee. So, when Foodeater mentioned that Copper Chimney has a clearly marked vegan section of their menu, I knew I had to eat there as soon as possible. The Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving was my first opportunity.

A vegetarian friend and I took our sweet time poring over the menu, having eschewed the mostly un-vegetarian lunch buffet.

Our sweet waitress started us with this complimentary trio of chutney and pappadam. I probably would've walked away completely satisfied if this had been my only lunch. I especially loved the chutney at the top right, which was a spicy mix of crunchy veggies and garlic cloves. Moving counter-clockwise, I could detect coconut, cilantro, and chili pepper in the green chutney that was similar to salsa verde. I believe the third was a tamarind-based chutney, as it was sweet and smooth, but it also might have been mango chutney. The pappadam were crispy and flavorful, albeit a bit too thin to withstand the weight of the veggie and green chutneys.

My friend ordered Papad Roll for an appetizer (from the menu: Lightly spiced mashed potatoes stuffed inside thin lentil wafer, deep fried.) and I tried one. It was the only part of the meal I didn't enjoy. The flavor of the pappadam and the potatoes was lost in the frying, I believe. All I could really taste was fried food and I'm not a fan of fried food.

We shared the Samber Soup (from the menu: A Southern Indian style lentil soup with fresh vegetables.). It was very good and perfectly spiced.

My entree was Dal Lashooni (from the menu: Mixed dal cooked with exotic spices and garnished with garlic flakes.). I detected mung beans, two types of lentils, and kidney beans in this dish, which was basically an Indian-spiced chili. If I were to order this again, I'd order it with rice, but this time, I went for chapati (from the menu: Thinly rolled whole wheat baked bread.). I only say "if" because I'm really looking forward to sampling the other vegan dishes on the menu. There has already been a return visit to Copper Chimney! I'll blog about that later.

I just spent about 6 days in the Bay Area starting the day after Thanksgiving, which is why I haven't blogged about Thanksgiving yet and why you haven't seen many of my comments on your blogs. When I got back yesterday, I had 209 new entries on my Reader! I have my work cut out for me.