Sometimes, I just start throwing together foods that  I’m craving, and see where they take me.  If I’m lucky, it turns into something delicious.  If I’m not…well, then I just try to eat quickly.

However, these two dishes were successful ones.

Bowl O’ Things

This one was mostly leftovers in my fridge, and makes a very quick lunch.  It was mostly created because I was craving the mango salsa and the peas, but didn’t know how they could go together.  It may sound like a stretch, but trust me, this one’s tasty!  Sorry, no pic today.

– rice noodles

– sugar snap peas

– a falafel, crumbled

– mango salsa

Layer in a bowl in that order, warming up the falafel first.

Pot O’ Stuff


Pot o Stuff

– 3 ish green onions

– a clove of garlic

– mushrooms (a few handfuls or however many mushrooms you have leftover in your fridge)

– 2-3 leaves of kale

– a small can of tomato paste

– a dollop of molasses

– Rosemary

– a lemon, sliced

– chick peas, a can, or a couple of cups

– black olive slices, however many you like

Cook the onions and garlic in a pot with a little water.  Add the mushrooms and cook a little longer.  Add the kale, cook some more (I prefer my kale to still have some crispiness to it, so I don’t cook it long, only a minute or two).  Add the tomato paste, molasses, rosemary, and lemon slices, as well as a little more water if you need to thin the sauce a bit.  Stir, and once heated, add the  chickpeas and olives.  Once those too are heated through, serve.  I served it on rice noodles, but if I had actually been planning ahead, I would have chosen brown rice for this, I think.  The rice noodles were just convenient.

cubes

First, I would like to bust a myth; vegans do not live off tofu alone.  (Gasps fill the internetz.)  Varying your diet is a good thing!  However, tofu is a good friend of mine.  So after some cooking advice requests from friends that resulted in a tofu night as well as inspiration for a student newspaper article I wrote, I’d like to share a little on how to prep tofu.

Tofu can be prepared in about a gazillion ways.  Today, I’m basically going to share just one way to prepare it for two different dishes.  For these dishes, you will want to buy regular extra firm tofu (not the silken kind…it’ll crumble easier, so it isn’t very beginner-friendly.  More on other types of tofu to come later).  When you open a package of tofu, it’s a good idea to rinse it off first.  Any leftover uncooked tofu (assuming you have leftover) should be stored in the fridge, covered in water.  The water should be changed every day.  The packages say that they keep for 3 days after opening, however that looks as though it doesn’t account for the whole storing in water thingy, and I’ve had tofu stay very fresh up to a week after opening.

Both of these recipes are created by basically frying tofu cubes in a pre-heated pot or pan with a little oil.  The trick to doing this well is not to get flip-happy; let the tofu turn golden on the side that’s facing down before you stir it!  I cook tofu on medium heat to make it a little chewier on the outside, but some people prefer it cooked on a lower temperature.  Also, this can be done in a non-stick pan without oil too, and you will still get nice, golden tofu.  I will often skip the oil when I make myself lightly stir-fried veggies and tofu in a non-stick pan for a quick meal.  Actually, if you’re not worried about getting the outsides golden, then just lightly heat your tofu cubes and call it a night (half the time, I don’t really care if the tofu in my stir-fries is golden on the outside).

Tofu marinates very well.  Try putting it in a marinade for at least an hour, and it’ll soak up a bunch of flavour.  Also, being meat-free, you can re-use the marinade as a sauce for the same dish later.  Glee!

When cutting tofu, make sure you don’t cut it into pieces that are too small or too thin.  I would guess that a good rule of thumb is to keep everything at least a centimeter thick, or it might crumble badly while cooking (which can be a desired effect at times).  Also, if cooking tofu to add to veggies or the like, cook the tofu first.  You may even want to cook it and set it aside while the veggies cook, and add it back in after if you fear it’ll end up getting too beaten up in the stir-fry process.

Ready for some recipes now?

Miso French Onion Soup

Since this one’s supposed to be richer and almost gravy-like, I would cook it with the oil and the sugar, however if you were wanting to make a healthier version, by all means skip those two ingredients and cook the tofu and onions in a non-stick pan.  I didn’t bother with the bread or the fake cheese on top, because I personally was in it for the rich broth and excessive amount of onions myself.  That and soggy bread makes me irritable.

(Serves one.  Multiply for more.  I’m actually guessing at the measurements a bit, just so that you know.  I never measured this one out.)

– 1/2 onion, chopped in fair-sized pieces

– 1/4 block of tofu

– a little cooking oil (not pure olive oil, as it’ll heat too hot, and have the wrong flavour)

– a small spoonful of not-so-refined sugar

– Freshly ground pepper.

– 2 cups water or veggie broth

– 2 tbsp of miso paste (or to whatever strength you prefer)

– (oh, and if you want some greens, wilt a little bok choy greens in here too!)

Fry the tofu and onion together in the oil, adding in the sugar to speed up the caramelizing and browning processes, and give everything a slight glaze.  Season with pepper.  It should look like the picture below, where the sides of the tofu are slightly brown in places, and the onions are turning transparent.  Note that for the onion’s sake, you’ll need to stir this more often than you normally would stir tofu, but the sugar will help with the browning so it’ll be ok.

tofu-and-onions

Add the water or broth, and heat until warm, but not boiling.  Remove a little of the warm water or broth and stir it into the miso paste.  Add the miso to the rest of the soup and stir well.  Again, make sure none of this ever comes to a boil, or your soup will be bitter.

Tofu Stir Fry

Of course there’s never been one true way to make a stir-fry, but some people like a place to start from.  This is the stir fry from our tofu night.  Serves fourish.  Again, sorry for the not so exact measurements.

– a block of extra firm tofu

– cooking oil (optional)

– Green onions

– broccoli

– Chinese bean sprouts

– bok choy

– carrots

– any other veg your heart desires (am I missing anything we used that night?)

for a simple sauce:

– soy sauce

– lime juice

– a little not-so-refined sugar or maple syrup, but keep this to a minimum

– freshly grated ginger

– fresh or powdered garlic

– dried chili (we used 2 chilies)

– a little corn starch

Cook the tofu either in oil, or in a nonstick pan.  Note- if you’re using a really nice wok (like somebody’s…you know who you are…) you won’t need much heat to do this, so keep it on medium-low!  Warm up the wok to medium-high, and tir-fry the veggies for about 3 minutes (or more if you’re not into crispy veggies, but I urge you to try it).  Add a sauce, such as the one I described above (blend everything together before adding), or just a little soy sauce.

Sorry there’s no picture…we kinda forgot the camera part-way through cooking.

More tofu tutorials in the future.

Experimenting time!  As mentioned previously, I’ve been doing some reading on raw foods.  I had read about eating raw potatoes, and mentioned it to a friend, who immediately wanted to know more.  Yet the book I read didn’t have any actual recipes for raw potato in it.  So, I made up my own.  Can’t say it’s my favourite thing to eat, but it’s not terrible.  Needs some work still.  That and the graininess of raw potato kinda irks me.  Still, I’ll share my recipe, and if anyone knows how to make a better raw potato recipe, please do speak up!  (Oh, and I’ve got plenty of raw sweet potato recipes, so don’t worry about that one.)

raw-potato-slaw

Some Sorta Potato Slaw

1 potato, grated
a few cherry/berry tomatoes or a whole tomato, sliced
a large handful fresh parsley, chopped up
half an avocado, mashed
lemon juice (about 1/4 a lemon)
small drizzle olive oil
a little sea salt and pepper

Just mix everything together.  Not much more to it than that.

Grains.egg by mendicantcrow on Aviary

If I were a zombie… because these are the important things that we discuss.

Recently, I recorded another year of living on this planet.  I’ll leave you to guess my age- suffice it to say, my brain was in seven-year-old mode, so it doesn’t really make a difference.   I was tricked into coming to my own surprise party by all my delightfully crazy friends (they told me we were gonna celebrate Friday the 13th…which could have been fun too).

In culinary-related news, Kiekaisu made me a sushi-themed vegan cake- all on her own!  Yay for omnis who like to learn how to cook vegan.  She has offered to share her creation with the internetz, so I’ll hand you off to Kiekaisu…

Mah Vegan Cake

Sam and the Cake

Sushi Cake

This was a fun cake to make, because the recipe has been altered to the point that it doesn’t look like the original barely at all (I had also considered how to make this gluten free… I will notify when I try it out!) Also, this was my first attempt at making a vegan cake! I may reduce the sugar a little more next time if I were to use the fondant again, but was still good!

¾ cup organic sugar

½ cup earth balance

1 portion Starch-based egg replacer*

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1 ½ cups flour

1 ¾ tsp baking powder

½ cup soy milk

* Starch-based egg replacer recipe (from Goodbaker):

1 Tbsp tapioca or corn starch
1 Tbsp potato starch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp xanthan gum (if you have it)

– Add a scant 1/2 cup water and 2 tsp oil. Whisk until thoroughly combined and somewhat frothy

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and earth balance. Beat in half of the “eggs”, then the second half, then stir in the vanilla and almond. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the soy milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

I doubled this recipe to get the amount for the cake, which fed 12 people easily. I suggest using some sort of organic jam in between, as the jam won’t spoil as fruit will (fondant and fridge don’t always get along for me)

Sorry for the neglect, oh internet world!  I’ve still been writing tons o’ vegan recipes, but I’ve been writing them mostly for our university’s newspaper, and the forgetting to take colour photos and share them here too.  That, and sometimes the real world is just too distracting.  Lots o’ pretty colours.

The last recipe I made up for an article was a pretty cool chocolate dessert biscuit recipe focusing on fair-trade ingredients.  It may end up here eventually.  It’s awesome because it’s not an overly sweet recipe, but delightfully cakey in texture.

However, on to what I really want to write about.  This simple variation on fresh rolls is just too yummy to pass up posting.  I kinda was thinking of the flavours in the Curry Sunrise rice bowl at 13th Ave Coffeehouse, when it occurred to me that this would transfer wonderfully to a salad roll.  And it does. If you’re feeling more traditional, you can check outmy past fresh roll recipe, which was also written after forgetting that I had a blog for awhile.  I’m also thinking  might need to tackle dessert fresh rolls again someday.  I tried a Vegetarian Times one once (ps-needs veganizing, but not hard), but the sauce that the recipe used was disgustingly sweet, and I don’t know if I was too thrilled at how they treated the jasmine risotto in it (I’ve done better adding savoury flavours and mushroosm and making a supper dish out of jasmine tea risotto).

Curry Rolls

Salad Rolls and Simple Coconut Curry Sauce

for the rolls:

– lettuce

– tomato slices

– cucumber strips

– avocado strips

– if you have some, a little cooked tofu

– sprouts

– rice paper wrappers

Just prep your veggies, shred the lettuce, boil some water so that you can soak each rice paper for about 30 seconds, place veg on wrapper and roll very carefully like a burrito.  I like to make two or three large ones for myself, but you can also get small rice paper wrappers that require you to make more.

for the sauce:

– coconut milk

– curry powder

– a little lemon juice or lime juice

Blend all those together.  Too simple, yet it hits two of my biggest craving foods lately, coconut and curry.

I’ve been wanting to get to this post for awhile, ever since I finished interviewing a raw food cookbook author/instructor Rose Vasile from BC for our University paper.  I’ve been intrigued by the concept of eating raw foods for awhile now, and since I can really explore whatever food concepts I find interesting for my articles, I decided to delve into it.  What kind of spurred my interest was the realization that there are certain foods that I can digest when I eat them raw or lightly heated, but that sometimes start battles in my stomach if I eat them cooked.

The interview went awesome, and Rose even sent me a copy of her cookbook …which is absolutely awesome.  I’ve become addicted to these lemon poppy seed energy ball things…sooo delicious,  treat-like (without being too sweet), and filling.

Pre-Green-Smoothie

For the article, Rose let me borrow a green smoothie recipe from her website, which you can check out for yourself (along with other info on what a vegan raw food diet looks like).   I should also note that I’m addicted to these too, and drink some variation of this every morning.  I’m one of those people whose stomachs don’t always agree with them in the morning (although I’m never a breakfast-skipper), but this is so easy to digest that I actually feel really good after eating it.  Also, the energy it gives me for the morning is just crazy.

For the time being, I’m still eating cooked foods, but far less of them.  I think that whether I become a raw foodist or not, I should still be increasing my raw food intake.

My other point of interest for today is the rewards of living a more conscious lifestyle.  Most vegans seem to gravitate towards being overall healthier people, as though by sparing lives, we are gaining life ourselves.  You will, of course, find the odd junk food vegan, however even those people often change their eating habits over time, gravitating towards the ever-healthy fruits and veggies.  It feels like I’ve been given some sort of unexpected reward for my choices, and I’m very thankful for it.

Sinead had an awesome rant on salads going, which echoed many of my sentiments on these often misunderstood meals, and therefore has compelled me to share a few of the simple salad combinations I’ve been eating this past week.  They’ve just been making use of what happened to be in my refrigerator, and since I didn’t intend to post these, I have no pics for you (might possibly add one later).  Please do experiment with salads people, you never know what wonderfulness will result.

Sweet Carrot Salad

Chop up a pear into bite sized pieces.  Add a fair sized grated carrot.  Add some unsweetened coconut, and a handful of chopped unsalted almonds.  Wash a fistful of sprouts (I like radish ones best, and I don’t know why), and add those.  Throw together with a little lemon juice.  Glee.

This has been multiple lunches this week.

Tomato Thyme Salad

Make sure the bulk of this salad is tomatoes (so make sure you have good tomatoes before making this).  Add some lettuce of some sort, some avocado (about a quarter of one), and pine nuts.  Sprinkle with lemon juice, then drizzle a very little bit of olive oil.  Add some thyme (I used lemon thyme I dried from my garden this summer), and mix.  This is a great one to make the day before for you lunch, because the thyme comes through better.

This one’s gonna be my lunch tomorrow, so I may get a pic tonight.

Aaaaaaand . . . I’m back.  I had to put some other priorities before blogging for quite awhile.  Hopefully any readers will forgive me.  At least, they should once they’ve eaten some delicious, mushroomy goodness that I made up for New Years munchies.  I’ve also got a pic of the delicious vegan baklava that I managed to make (with a little help… right J?), but no recipe, as I don’t really deem this a creation of my own, just a slight variation on the recipe found in the Essential Mediterranean Cookbook.  It’s pretty simple to sub out the honey for any other liquid sweetener of your choice, and the butter for Earth Balance.

(note- I was doing some research, and apparently you should check if your phyllo contains a substance called L-cysteine, which can be derived from duck feathers, or human hair.  Or it can be made chemically, but you have to do some research to find out.  There’s also plenty of phyllo out there without L-cysteine.)

So…baklava (just to taunt you)!

Delicious Baklava

And a recipe for these guys.

Mushroom Tapas plus Mushroom 2

Mushroomy Goodness

Spicy Mushroom Phyllo Hors D’oeuvres

Sauce:

1/4 cup tamari or regular soy sauce

1-2 cloves garlic, minced or put through press

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp corn starch

Filling:

3 cups finely chopped portabella mushrooms

2 cups finely chopped shitake mushrooms

Assembling and Baking:

Cooking oil

4 sheets phyllo pastry

Non-stick cooking spray

Combine the first six ingredients for the sauce, mixing very well, and set aside.  Heat a little cooking oil in a pan and cook mushrooms on medium until they have released all of their water, and that water mostly cooks off.  You may need to drain off some of the water from the pan.  Add the sauce, mixing with the mushrooms, and cook until it thickens slightly.  Cool the filling.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut four phyllo sheets into four strips  lengthwise, and then cut each strip into five squares.  Keep phyllo under a damp towel when not working with it.  Place two squares on top of each other, brush with oil.  Layer on two more squares, with the corners of squares overlapping the straight edges of the first squares.   Brush with oil again.  Place a large teaspoon of filling on center, and fold up the sides around it to make a crimped bundle.  Place on a baking tray coated with non-stick cooking spray, and repeat with the remaining filling and phyllo.

Bake 10-15 minutes, or until golden.  If tops brown too fast, place foil loosely over hors d’oeuvres partway through cooking.

More mushrooms, and mushroom pics.  Because I kinda went photo-crazy.

Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Vegan Stuffed Mushroom Caps

24 button mushrooms

3 ryvita flat breads

2 green onions

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

olive oil

100 g cashews

1/4 cup water

2 tsp whole-grain Dijon mustard

3 tsp nutritional yeast

nonstick cooking spray

Wash and de-stem mushrooms.  Chop up stems fine, and mix with finely crushed ryvita breads, finely chopped green onion, and finely chopped fresh rosemary.  Cook in a pan with a little oil until the mushroom stems have released water, and it evaporates.

In food processor, blend cashews, water, Dijon, and nutritional yeast until you’ve made a fairly smooth paste.  If it’s not entirely smooth, it will still work just fine.  Mix the paste and the mushroom stem blend together.

Uncooked Stuffed Mushrooms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place mushrooms on a greased baking tray, and fill with filling.  I baked for about 45 minutes, I believe, but just make sure you bake until the mushrooms are cooked through.

I apologize for my lack of recipes; it’s the end of the semester, and the degree I’m taking doesn’t have final exams, rather a series of projects and “mid-terms” all happening at the end of the semester.  It’ll be another week or so until I can get some of the recipe back-log up here.  School will do that to blogging.

So, here’s something absurdly awesome, simple, and healthy to amuse you until then.  I can’t take credit for this- it was a co-worker’s suggestion, and I believe she got it from someone else, though I’m not positive.  Anywhoo, I can’t believe I haven’t tried this before.  Take a banana.  Peel, chop it up a bit, and throw the pieces in your freezer.  Once frozen (or pretty much frozen, if you’re impatient), blend it up until it’s smooth and creamy like soft serve.  Voila, banana ice “cream” with no dairy, no added sugar, no preservatives, no penicillin-like taste, and a whole serving of fruit.  Apparently bananas are just as delicious frozen as not, and have a wonderfully ice-cream like consistency.  Who new?  It’s almost too simple, after various other ice-cream making escapades.  I may become an addict, which might be a problem, because even at times when I’m not baking, my family goes through an absurd quantity of bananas every week (we actually have to make mid-week banana buying runs, because our kitchen wouldn’t be our kitchen without bananas).

So, some more complex recipes will come once I get my freedom back.

Umm….somehow I felt this needed to go up here.  I know, artwork online is often iffy, but it’s something I likely won’t be looking to sell or anything.

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