Monday, 11 October 2010

Family Potato Dumplings...VEGAN STYLE!

I have recently decided something...I was absolutely meant to be vegan because the only signature family dish on my mother's side of my family was so easily veganized that our entire family couldn't tell the difference between the vegan and non-vegan version. You see, every year (sometimes twice a year) my maternal grandmother makes a dish labelled 'potato dumplings' for our family to stuff our faces with. Even though it is called potato dumplings it is actually potato dumplings mixed with fried cabbage. Doesn't that sound delicious? I haven't been around for potato dumpling fest for a long time now since I am usually away at university when it occurs, but having graduated I was there this time. The only thing standing in the way of this dish being vegan is one pesky egg in the dumplings. My grandmother, being the thoughtful lady that she is, decided to just try making the dumplings without the egg. Considering that it is only one egg in a batter to make about a zillion dumplings, how much could it really do. It turns out that the dumplings turned out exactly the same!!! And they are absolutely delicious. I couldn't give you the recipe right now...I don't know it. Once I learn how to do it, I will try to share it with you all.
Delicious potato dumplings with salt, pepper, and melty Earth Balance covering the top. This is the 'traditional' way to serve them!
Since this post can't be all about potato dumplings, here is a bit more. I got so excited about the presence of pumpkins at the farmer's market that I cooked up three of them. One of the products of all that cooked pumpkin was pumpkin bran muffins from Vegan Brunch.
Pumpkin Bran Muffin made with whole wheat pastry flour. Bran + whole wheat flour = fibre joy!
Last weekend I went to a haunted house with my brothers and some of their friends. It was supposed to be super scary, but I just can't get over the fact that it isn't real. The fact that they couldn't touch us didn't help the case either. Here's a photo of my brother with one of the characters:
Nate told this guy that his breath smells. 
Well, that's all for now. As soon as I get something else cooking I will be sure to post about it. Just thinking about the possibilities is making me hungry!

Making Applesauce...from scratch!I

So, what have I been doing? Since it's been so long since I last updated my blog I'll give you the short version. Considering my current state of unemployment (I actually start a job at Kohl's tomorrow!), I haven't been doing too much. I really have no good reason for not updating...just the fact that I've been too lazy. The main culinary event has been applesauce made from scratch. I went apple-picking with my aunt and got quite a lot of apples for only $5! I had been wanting to try canning foods for quite some time now, and fresh apples were perfect for trying it. It was quite an expedition to learn how to can. It's not so hard, but there are several steps involved and accurate timing and sanitation are key. 
Fresh apples, just washed and ready to be not so favourite part!

The lovely ingredients to be made into applesauce. The original recipe called for honey, but everyone knows how vegans feel about honey...agave nectar to the rescue!
Here are the apples all chopped, peeled, and mixed with lemon and apple juice to simmer until soft.
I used a food mill to puree the soft apples into a smooth, but still textured applesauce.

Here's my applesauce, ready to be simmered on the stove. I don't know why that step was necessary, but it probably had to do with bacteria content.
Here's the applesauce after I added the agave nectar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The applesauce tasted fine without any of the additions, but since it was the first time I was trying the recipe I wanted to keep as true to it as possible.
Here are the pretty jars all washed and ready to be boiled before filling them with tasty applesauce!
The finished product! The applesauce was put into 1/2 pint jars and then boiled for twenty minutes to seal the lids. Now I will have applesauce all winter and probably into the summer. I got nine 1/2 pint jars.
Now, since this is a vegan blog we have to end on some cuteness. Here are a few shots of some of the pets at my house.
Gus, enjoying himself at the dog park.

Baily, in one of his favourite spots: a dining room chair!
Well, that's all for this post, but I have a question for you all: has anyone tried canning and if you have what is your favourite thing to can?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Is There Anything Better Than Home-Baked Bread?

So, I hope that you have all been well through this last week or whenever my last post was. I haven't really been doing anything too exciting. Being a recent college graduate (13 August!) I have been looking for work. I graduated with a BS in Dietetics, but haven't completed a dietetic internship yet. This means that I'm not a registered dietitian, but hopefully someday I will be. Eventually I would like to move to the UK, so I'm not sure whether or not I should do that in the States. Or, maybe I'll go to graduate school for something to do with nutrition. I really just want to make some money for the time being and if I could get a job relating to nutrition, that would be best! There are other things that I have been thinking about, but I'll save that for a later post when I've thought about it more. Let's get on with the food then!
Mushroom-Sundried Tomato Risotto with Cauliflower and
Homemade Seitan
Last Thursday I made the mushroom-sundried tomato risotto from Vegan with a Vengeance for my mother and myself. She had just gotten back from a business trip to Windsor, Ontario so I thought it would be nice to cook her dinner. She really enjoyed it and so did I. I have never made risotto before, but the experience of constantly stirring the arborio rice was rather soothing. The seitan was also from Vegan with a Vengeance. My mum tried it, but thought it tasted like dog food...I beg to differ!

Blackberry-Banana-Cashew Breakfast Crumble

The next day for breakfast I made something that I have been making about once a week for breakfast. I know that it doesn't look like too much of a breakfast and more like a dessert, but hear me out. I modified the recipe for 'Microwave Apple Crisp' in Vegan A Go-Go by Sarah Kramer. I reduced the margarine, used different fruit, and replaced the sugar with stevia. It actually fit into two ramekins, and you guessed it - I ate both!

So, here's the recipe that I used:
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and spray two small or one large ramekin with cooking spray.
1 small banana
1/2 cup frozen blackberries
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Margarine (or your favourite vegan margarine)
2 packets stevia
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup rolled oats
Arrange the fruit within the ramekin(s). Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and rub the margarine into the dry ingredients with your fingers. Once the flour and margarine are mostly combined sprinkle the mixture evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins into the oven for about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven and how dark you want the topping to turn out. You can also use any combination of fruit that you want; I have used many different kinds!
Banana Everything Cookies
We had quite a few bananas that were getting too ripe at our house, so I had no choice but to bake! I froze some of them, but when bananas go bad you just have to bake! It is some sort of unwritten rule of life. I chose to make Banana Everything Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. They have bananas, walnuts, chocolate chips, and oats. They were so good that I had to give most of them away so that I wouldn't eat them all.

Vegan Omelet with Vegetables and Daiya Cheddar Style

Before I left for the night to visit Stevens Point (my college town) for a few birthdays I made a quick dinner. I sautéed snap peas and cauliflower with Bragg's Liquid Aminos along with a Vegan Omelet with Spinach and Daiya Cheddar-Style Shreds. I have never used Daiya in an omelet-style dish before, but it was absolutely delish! I'm thinking that I will have to have this again tomorrow just writing this post!

Crazy woman with yarn for hair!

This past Saturday was Octoberfest in my hometown. Now, I know that it's not October yet, but Octoberfest always seems to be in the end of September in Wisconsin (is it like this other places in the USA?). Anyways, I saw a woman with YARN FOR HAIR!!! Sometimes I just wonder what people are thinking when they leave their houses. The colours represent the football team in Wisconsin (Green Bay Packers) and this woman is obviously a big fan, but come on!!!

Gus the Shih-tzu

Now, since this is a vegan blog and all vegans love animals (probably the only true vegan stereotype!) I just have to include some photos of my pets. This is our dog Gus who is a shih-tzu. I know he looks angry and disheveled, but he was 'playing' with the cats and in dire need of a haircut. He's cute though anyhow! As of now he has had a haircut and looks much thinner and cleaner!

Baily the King of the Cats

Now, this photo deserves a story for sure. This is my darling cat, Baily. Some of my family attended a wedding on Saturday and my brother caught the garter. I decided to put it on Baily and he loved it! I think he thought that he looked pretty and I can't help but agree. Doesn't he look royal too? He is just the sweetest cat ever.

Dusty the Queen of the Cats

Here is my sister's cat, Dusty. She's Baily's sister, but much more irritable than Baily. I decided to put the garter on her to see if she would enjoy it too. Turns out that she didn't like it as much as Baily did, but I just had to get a quick photo. I got my mum to hold her up so I could get a photo. She's cute, but getting a bit irritable in her old age (both her and Baily are thirteen).

Espresso Chip Oatmeal Cookie Cake with Vegan Fluffy
Buttercream Frosting

For the second celebration of my brother, Ethan's, birthday (the usual family bunch actually came this time) I made a cookie cake using the recipe for Espresso Chip Oatmeal Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and Vegan Fluffy Buttercream from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I didn't have any powdered espresso so I had to use powdered coffee, but it was still really tasty. Who doesn't enjoy a cookie cake?

What a birthday brat! Who gets two cakes???

Here's a picture of Ethan with cake #2!

Home-baked whole-wheat bread with the fluffy top cut off.

Today I made whole wheat bread in our bread maker. It had whole wheat flour, agave nectar, blackstrap molasses, and ground flaxseeds in it. I was really surprised at how tender it turned out. I don't know about you, but my favourite part of home-baked bread (especially when using a breadmaker) is the fluffy top portion. I have a compulsive need to cut it off as soon as the bread is cool enough to handle and eat it!

Fluffy bread top with my favourite toppings!

Here's what I ate the top of the bread. I spread the entire slice with smart balance light w/flax and had Smucker's natural creamy peanut butter, Smucker's Apple Butter, my mum's home-made strawberry jam, and Marmite. Since I have such a love affair with bread I would have to say that this was the best thing that I ate all day! I think I could spend the whole day just eating bread or bread-y things!

Banana 'Ice Cream' with peanut butter and semi-sweet chips

Have any of you ever made 'ice cream' with frozen bananas? If you haven't you absolutely must. Anytime you have bananas going bad, peel them, place in zip-top bags and freeze. Then when the urge for something creamy and frozen hits you're all set. The basic recipe is a frozen banana and a bit of non-dairy milk. Then you can go from there.

The recipe for this one is:
1 small frozen banana
7 frozen strawberries
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Put all of these ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. That's it! I also put one teaspoon of semi-sweet chips on top and some natural peanut butter.

That's all for now, but I'm sure to be cooking up some more goodies soon!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Back in States and DAIYA cheese!

So, I've been back in the States for twenty days exactly and it hasn't exactly been easy. I've been applying for jobs, sitting on the sofa, doing some housework...and oh yeah eating! So you may be wondering what exactly I have been eating all this time? Well I'll tell you right now!

This was my first meal back in the States  -a fresco bean burrito from Taco Bell. You would not believe how much I missed Taco Bell while I was across the pond. They should definitely try out the T-Bell again in England or at least London. I'm sure that many of you Englanders out there would agree that some fast Mexican food is needed!

After I got home it was time for dinner (travelling from Chicago to central Wisconsin is no easy task amidst construction and traffic!) and I was hungry. I bought this in a health food in Germany and brought it home. It is a vegan ravioli with mushrooms. It was very tasty and since I hadn't had canned pasta for a very long time I was surprised how much I still liked it. There is something oddly satisfying about pasta that doesn't require much chewing. It just brings me back to my childhood and eating Chef Boyardee (so gross!).

Well, here it is with some corn and broccoli on the side. Doesn't it look delish? Nothing like German canned  pasta to take away the hunger of travel!

Then, guess what I found at the local grocery store the next day??? A Tofurky pizza with DAIYA cheese on top. I got the 'Italian Sausage & Fire-Roasted Veggie' flavour and it was absolutely delicious.

Here it is before I cooked it - nice and frozen!

Here it is post-pizza oven. Doesn't it look completely yummy? Now I'm not saying that this is as good as if I were to make my own crust with toppings that I chose and then added the daiya, but it is good when you're in a rush. I plan to only buy it then anyhow since it cost between $7 and $8! Oh well, good to try anyhow!

After I got home, I went to Stevens Point (my old college town) and Heidi, Dan, and I went to the Gyro and Kebab House downtown. I love that place so much - such good food. Here is the hummus plate that I ordered as a starter. I also got a falafel pitta, which I forgot to photograph so maybe next time... The hummus is so creamy and delicious. I just wish that it wasn't refrigerated and so cold. I prefer room temperature hummus.

Here is a new product that I haven't had before. I don't usually subscribe to the faux meat foods all the time idea, but I had never seen these before and enjoy other Food for Life products. They were pretty good, but slightly mushy. Even though I made them in the oven the texture wasn't great. I enjoyed them though as part of a main or chopped up on a salad.

Here's how I ate them. I made some sautéed broccoli on the side as well as some chips that I covered with malt vinegar and German pommes seasoning. I also had curry ketchup and HP sauce on the side for dipping. This was definitely a great lunch, if not a bit of a naughty one.

I'm so glad that I was able to get all of these sauces at Woodman's grocery in Appleton. I just love their international foods section. I can get all of these, baked beans, digestives, and everything I need to be able to pretend that I'm in England or Europe in general!

It was recently my mum's birthday and she wanted a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. If that wasn't the case I would've made her a vegan cake, but she asked so I obliged. I made these chocolate-vanilla marble cakes with vegan buttercream for my sister and I. The recipe was from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World of course and of course they were fabulous! I just love cupcakes or just cake in general, or if we're being really honest I just love dessert!

Then it was my brother's birthday. He just turned thirteen and let me make him a vegan chocolate cake for him for his birthday. The recipe was from La Dolce Vegan and was a form of the 'Wacky Cake' and had a fudgy frosting on top with the writing in buttercream. It was good as the wacky cake is always my favourite chocolate cake, but the frosting was too runny and the buttercream was a bit grainy. Good thing I'm the most critical with everyone else just excited by cake!

Here's a picture of my brother, Ethan, and his birthday cake all lit up with his thirteen candles. He looks happy with it, right. His birthday was actually yesterday (we celebrated Sunday) and he got birthday cards, gifts, and a decorated locker from some girls at school. He is already a womanizer in the seventh grade!

Earlier this week I found some more DAIYA cheese in the bag at a local health food store. I knew right away that I needed to make a grilled 'cheese.' It turned out amazing and melty. Can you see the stretching action between the two sides of the sandwich? Mmmm...

I had a salad on the side of romaine, baby spinach, carrots, sautéed tofu, and light Western dressing. Even though I'm sure that Western dressing is horrible for me I haven't found any dressing (besides my grandmother's homemade) that I enjoy as much as this!

My sister went to Liverpool for the semester on Tuesday (lucky!!!) and asked me to make her some muffins. She's vegan too (my doing) so I made her two selections from Vegan Brunch. First is the Zucchini (courgette) Spelt Muffin with Raisins. It was super tasty and tender. I love how huge they are.

Then came lemon poppyseed. I couldn't believe when I made these that I've never used poppyseed before. Does a drug test really come up positive for heroin if you eat poppyseeds??? Does anyone know? Anyways they were super yummy and lemon-y with lemon juice and lemon zest included.

Lastly, I made Seitan-Portabella Stroganoff (I know portobello is spelled wrong, but that's how it is in the book) from Vegan with a Vengeance on Tuesday night. I also made the seitan from the same book for the recipe. It was so, so yummy! It was rather labour intensive, but so worth it and since it made eight servings I will have it around for quite a while. Just looking at the photo brings back all of its savoury memories!

That's all for now and I hope that you enjoy reading all about my lovely eats during my time back at home in the States. I will keep you posted again soon with more adventures in my world of food!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Bruxelles, Belgique

So, last stop on this tour of the European Union, or at least the institutions of the European Union. The last place we visited was Brussels. I was happy just to be back in a big city again, all of the others that we visited were rather small, so this was definitely a welcome visit! On the way to Brussels from Trier, we stopped in Waterloo to see the battle site. Here is a photo of the big hill that we climbed at the battle site. Does anyone know if it's a natural or man-made hill?

Once we got to Brussels, Heidi and I found Mr. Falafel, a place that seemed a lot like Maoz Falafel, but the small business version. There is only one option at Mr. Falafel, so there isn't even a menu! Also, you put your own hummous on; that means you can put as much as you want on. It was wonderfully tasty, so if you're ever in Brussels, visit Mr. Falafel!

The next day we visited Den Teepot, a vegan , macrobiotic restaurant in the first level of a health food shop. They offer one daily plate, a few sides and desserts, and several drinks. I got the pear juice and it was incredibly fresh and refreshing tasting.

Here was the daily plate the day that we visited. It had a side salad, roasted beets, tempeh, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, mushrooms, and possibly swede (I'm not sure if that was what it was). It was really tasty, and incredibly healthy. I was so happy to have such a great meal when I have been living on such unhealthy food!

There were unfortunately no vegan cakes available that day, so I got a mix of the vanilla and chocolate soya puddings. The chocolate had a very authentic chocolate flavour and the vanilla was equally delicious. I really enjoyed it!

Brussels was full of hilarious statues and here is one of them - cute, huh?

We visited Musée de l'Armée as well and of course I had to have a photo taken inside one of the children's photo stops. I mean, who could resist this?

We also visited the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique and saw so much beautiful art. This particular piece was part of a series of many such sculptures by a Mexican artist called Javier Marin. I really loved his sculptures, they reminded me of Body World for some reason. Does anyone else see the resemblance?

When one goes to Brussels, one has to see Mannekin Pis. He is the symbol of the city and someone even dresses him up in seasonal outfits. He unfortunately wasn't dressed up when I went to see him, but here he is in all his pissing glory!

The only logical thing to do after seeing Mannekin Pis is to go have some chips and Manneken Frites! As you can tell by the illustration on the window it was inspired by the statue Mannekin Pis. 

Here were the frites with ketchup that I got at Manneken Frites. They were lovely and even came with a cute little plastic fork!

I bought this Sojade soya yoghurt at a health food shop when Heidi and I got lost on the way back from Mannekin Pis. I had this in London and thought that it was incredibly tasty and creamy. I really liked it and was so glad to have the chance to blog about it when I bought some and remembered to photograph it. 

Here's what it looked like on the inside. Yummy, right?

Well, that's all for Europe. The rest of my posts will be of the American Vegan in America...imagine that. I plan to be back to London in the spring for a little holiday to visit some missed friends and food. I can't wait to tell you what I've been eating since I've been home!