Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dusting off my bento box

I've posted laptop lunches before, but it's been a while. Here's my latest: homemade pesto with basil from our garden on brown rice pasta; tomato & cucumber with more homemade pesto, and fresh strawberries & blueberries. Perfect summery meal!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Indian Dinner

Oh yum, I checked out Madhur Jaffrey's book World Vegetarian from the library two days ago, and today I cooked an Indian meal entirely from this book. We had invited our friend Lynn over, and we see her rarely enough that it felt like an occasion to celebrate! Everyone (me, Nigel, Claire, and Lynn) loved the food. I am very pleased that I pulled off a nice dinner party with brand new recipes. My only complaint is that my rice was sort of sticky, and I'm not sure why. Otherwise, great eats were had by all.

The first picture shows the red lentils (masoor dal) before stirring in the fried red peppers, basil leaves, garlic cloves, and mustard seeds. It just struck me as so pretty that I had to snap a picture. The second picture shows everything plated, clockwise starting from the rice: Lemon Rice, Green Bean & Potato Curry, Apple Cranberry Chutney (from Trader Joe's!), and Masoor Dal Hyderabadi.

For dessert I served mango and chocolate sorbets with a pineapple and lychee compote. I don't have any pictures of dessert, but here's how I prepared the compote: I heated 1/2 can of coconut milk and a few tablespoons of brown sugar until the sugar dissolved, then I gently warmed up chunks of fresh pineapple and lychee in this sauce. In retrospect, there were too many flavors competing in the dessert bowl. Others agreed with me on this. In the future I would modify it to include only mango sorbet, and only pineapple compote. I think that coconut sorbet with mango compote would be divine, but there wasn't any coconut sorbet at the store today. Live and learn! I experimented a lot in the kitchen today, had a great time, and enjoyed a wonderful dinner with family and friends. Success!

New skill: spice mixing!

I've never mixed my own spice blend before, but for an Indian meal I cooked tonight, I made this recipe for Sri Lankan Raw Curry Powder, from Madhur Jaffrey's cookbook World Vegetarian. The first picture shows the spices on parchment paper, just before I roasted them in low heat for an hour. Aren't they lovely? The recipe calls for uncooked rice and coconut as well as several Indian spices, and fresh curry leaves. The second picture shows the spice blend in a jar, after everything was roasted and ground up. This curry blend went into the potato & green bean curry pictured above. It was delicious.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer Brunch

I cooked brunch today for about half a dozen non-vegan friends and family. The menu: tofu scramble with basil and sundried tomato, cocoa-strawberry muffins, yam home fries, banana-pineapple-coconut salad, and (not pictured but sooo yummy) spelt blueberry pancakes. The muffins, scramble, and pancakes are recipes from Vegan Brunch with a few modifications: I used strawberries instead of raspberries, and spelt instead of regular flour, in the Cocoa Raspberry muffins. I used spelt flour and added blueberries in the Perfect Pancake recipe, and I added basil & sundried tomatoes to the Basic Tofu Scramble.

For the yams, I diced two large yams and one medium sweet onion, tossed them in olive oil and salt, and cooked them in a heavy pan over medium heat, tossing frequently, until well-browned. For the fruit salad, I chopped three bananas and one pineapple, and tossed them with about 1/4 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut and 2 Tbsp. each of lemon juice and powdered sugar.

To drink: lots of coffee and juice! We ate out in the backyard. Good times. Pictured are our friends Marshal, Melissa, and their daughter Ramona.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Quick Lunch, aka I'm still obsessed with Soy Curls

I just needed a quick lunch for myself, so while I soaked some soy curls, I picked lettuce, oregano, and cilantro from our veggie patch, then fried up the soy curls with half a packet of organic taco seasoning mixed with water. Voila! I ate three of these. Mmmmm!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Green Smoothie

Called "green" because there are leafy greens in it, in this case frozen spinach. The rest is fruit: one banana, frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, and a splash of rice milk. Sorry about the blurry picture of the smoothie itself. I was anxious to eat it before it got melty! Tastes like fruit, sweet and creamy, but my body knows its also getting a wallop of spinach. I actually really like spinach, raw or cooked, so there's no need for me to hide it in a smoothie to get my greens. But I confess I do like the idea of sneaking extra nutrition in. Stealth spinach!

Ode to Soy Curls

These things are awesome! Here's what I made for dinner tonight, a rare night that I'm home alone and want to whip up something fast and easy just for me. Only three ingredients! Soy curls, of course (available online at Food Fight Grocery if you can't find them locally), BBQ sauce from Whole Foods, and a slice of Mike's Killer Bread, of the flourless/sprouted variety to avoid gluten. Those of you who don't avoid gluten can, of course, use a bun of some sort to make this a more traditional bbq sandwich.

So easy! I soaked soy curls per package instructions for 5 to 10 minutes, which gave me just enough time to water our veggie patch and flower containers - the basil looks great! - then I fried the curls with some nonstick spray until they are quite browned, even blackened in some spots. I found through experience that if they aren't well-browned, they tend to have an eggy texture that I don't care for. They get more meaty-textured the more they cook. Pour some sauce on them, toss to coat, and slam it on the bread! Dinner! I know it's not a terribly photogenic meal, but it was dang tasty, filling, and fast.

FYI this dinner is also very low fat and high in protein, and for those of you who notice the conspicuous lack of vegetables, please note that I'm planning on making a green smoothie tonight for a snack, with banana, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, and rice milk. I'm a virtual powerhouse of nutrition!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Learning to Sew!

Can I just brag about Claire for a moment? She's only ten years old, but SHE'S teaching ME to sew. That's right! She studied sewing and quilting during a four-day "Experiential Days" program at school, after which we bought a simple Singer sewing machine. She is passing her knowledge on to me, and last Sunday we made this yoga bag together in about four hours! She did most of the work, but I followed along closely and I think I could do it myself now. The fabric and pattern are both Amy Butler designs, and the pattern is one of her free pattern downloads!

I love this bag, and I've been WAY into yoga lately, taking classes several times a week and doing it at home also, so this bag will be well-loved.

Now, Claire and I are enthusiastically planning our next sewing project: an apron for my mother-in-law, whom we're visiting next month in England. Woo!

Vegan Brunch!

Wow, I haven't blogged in months. I've been immersed in our new house, we've fixed up the kitchen and the backyard area the most, pics to come. But first... FOOD! Hot off the presses is Isa Chandra Moskowitz's latest cookbook, Vegan Brunch, and the first thing I made from it was these Courico Tacos with Roasted Pineapple Salsa. The recipe calls for soy curls, which I would have blogged about a couple of months ago when I discovered them, because they are amazing. Alongside them is the Roasted Potato recipe, also from Vegan Brunch. Holy moly this was an awesome meal!

Next I made the Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins, which I loved a little too much. I gave most of them away, lest I eat them all in one sitting. I did manage to eat three of them, and I don't regret a single morsel. And spelt is practically gluten-free! Woo!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reluctantly Gluten-Free (almost)

I haven't wanted to admit it to myself, but it's true. I should avoid gluten. For the past several weeks, I've been avoiding it almost completely. And I feel great. Dang it! I really didn't want to be a gluten-free vegan. It sounded like such a pain. But if anything, the past few weeks have taught me that it's not much of a pain after all. Swapping out spelt or sprouted bread and brown rice pasta for "regular" bread and pasta took care of most everything. And I can still bake, thanks to Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free Baking Flour.

Am I 100% gluten-free? Not really. I ate some naan at an Indian restaurant the other day. I couldn't resist! But I noticed that afterward, I felt drowsy, and irritated in both a physical and emotional way. Hard to explain, just a sort of sleepy yet inflamed feeling. That can't be good!

Avoiding this weird reaction isn't the only benefit of avoiding gluten, though. For the first time in my life, I am not constantly craving sweets. Jonesing for junk food, regardless of whether I am hungry, has been the background noise of my existence for as long as I can remember. I didn't think of it as a problem, I just chalked it up to having a sweet tooth. Wow, what a liberating feeling to simply feel either satisfied, or actually hungry. Now I know what it's like to be able to NOT think about food for long periods of time. Is this what normal feels like?