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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cookie Time!!!

There is nothing in this world that defines me more than cookies.  If you want to know how I am feeling then ask me what cookie I want to make. 
Happy = shortbread
Sad= Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
Angry= Almond Lace Cookie
Forgiving= Black Bean Brownies
Perplexed= Lemon Sugar Cookie
Sexy = Chocolate Crinkle
You see my vegan diet all started with cookies. After finding out my son had a dairy allergy I wanted to make him some cookies. I searched the internet and found literally thousands of chocolate chip cookie variations. I was overwhelmed and very confused . . . . . what is flax meal? Do I have to use soy milk? I hunted for a recipe that included items I had on hand and at last found a recipe. It did not look like a normal cookie recipe and  I was amazed that it tasted like a cookie . . . . and a good cookie at that! This hunt lead me to recipes and ingredients that peaked my interest like tofu, carob, and bron rice syrup. I went straight to the bookstore and bought Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar. Fron this dive into  vegan cookies I chose to change my life and become a balls-to-the-walls vegan.
My friend Lori told me once that she loved that my cookies have flavor. So many cookies are all butter and sugar but vegan cookies tend to be more delicate in flavor. I don’t want anyone confusing this thinking I mean they are healthy because all cookies are just sugar and carbs . I think vegan cookies have more integrity.  Oh yes . . . . . I went there . . . . 
Here are two of my favorite cookie recipes that really speak to who I am as a person

Lavender Coconut Crunchies

6 oz Earth Ballance buttery spread
1 cup dried coconut
1 cup flour
1 cup turbindo
2 cups oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp culinary lavender
1 tbl honey (no this is not vegan but we need bees so I support local bee keepers . .  .the haters can suck it!)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (seems low but it works)
Mix dry ingreditents  -set aside
melt butter in sauce pan and add lavender, honey and baking soda. Whisk this until frothy
add to dry ingredient and mix thouroughly
press into  a cookie pan and bake 30 minutes
cut into squares while hot
allow to cool and serve


White Wine Cookies
5 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 flax egg
1 cup turbindo
1 cup white wine ( a sweet and fruity wine is perfect)
1/2 cup Earth Balance shortening

1/2 cup olive oil (it really works well with the fruity wine and almonds)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar (for rolling)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Mix in all wet ingredients
Sift together all dry ingredients
mix together completely
Roll into Tablespoon sized ball and roll in powdered sugar.
place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart and flatten slightly
bake for 25 minutes until bottoms start to brown

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tofu Tuesday 8/30

Okay so I missed the Meatless Monday to post my menue this week. Shame on me.  In my defense my daughter started Kindergarten. I was the mom who sent my daughter to school in spaghetti straps and flip-flops. I was was late picking her up and this morning we lost her name tag.

Deep Breath . . .Pull It Together

But even with all the insanity I was able to make my family dinner . . . a healthy, beautiful dinner. 
For Dinner This Week
Smoky Hot Pot of Great Northern Beans
Pizza Night!! - This is my favorite night and I will be takingt he time to discuss how important pizza night is to get children to eat their veggies.

Lunch
Pinto  Bean Quesadillas
Tahini Coleslaw Wraps

Breakfast

Snacks
Green bean Pakoras


Hot Pot of Great Northen Beans

1 cup of dried great northern beans
rinse and soak for at least 6 hours. Drain and place in a large saucepan with enough room to have the beans covered with water. Boil for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2 Tbl olive oil
1 large onion -diced
2 garlic cloves -chopped
1 clery rib -diced
1 carrot -diced
2 medium potatoes -diced
2 fire roasted anaheim peppers How does one roast a pepper?
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
2 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1. heat the oil in a saucepan on medium high heat and add the onion and  garlic. Cook for 2 miutes
2. Add in cleery and carrot and saute for another 2 minutes.
3.Add peppers and sautee for 2 minutes
4. Add in potoatoes and stir . . .cook for 4-5 minutes. Lower to medium heat
5. Add in beans paprika and liquid smoke. stir in until everything has been coated.
6. Once potatoes have softened a little and get some browning ont he outside add the stock and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.
7. Add salt and pepper to tast and eat with crusty bread
8. ENJOY!

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Patience is bitter, but it bears sweet fruit.”

Today my darling husband was out running errands and stumbled upon a Asian Market in Chantilly call Lotte that was highly reccomended. I would normally want to to go with him but my lazy butt was cat napping at home. He brought home all sorts of delights . .pomegranites, leechees, guavas, seeweed salad (my favorite!) and an Indian snack called treat Pani Puri. Pair any of these with a box of red and you have a perfect nite cap. I got a good man.

With these fantastic treat he also brought me some bitter melon . . . uhh . . . thanks?

Bitter Melon is exactly that  . .a really really really bitter ass vegetable. Not only is it bitter but it is ugly. I was slightly confused why on earth he thought I might want this thing. I can only imagine that I mentioned it once and he thought he was doing good. I did not complain since I take what can get when it comes to my husbands romantic gestures. In fact, I was up for the challenge.

Last time I did anything with bitter melon it was 3 years ago when my MIL was still alive. She took me to the local Gran Mart and we brought home 2 bitter melons cut and stuffed them. They were so freaking bitter and unpleasant. It was just an experiment and she only cooked it because I was curious so the meal was considered a learning experience/experiment. I decided that it was something I did not want to try again.

And then came today  . . .

It's not like I had to make it today but the thought of that nasty little vegetable taking up space in my fridge just bothered me. I started checking out recipes and sifting through curry after curry after stuffed melon after stuffed melon and nothing jumped out as special or worth a shot. When in doubt . . fry.

And the Lord saw this and he said it was good.



Fried Bitter Melon

1 medium bitter melon
1/4 cup salt
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/8 cup rice flour
1 Tbl cumin
1 tsp garam masla
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of pepper

1. cut melon lengthwise and scrape out seeds -slice melon into thin slices.
2. Cover wit salt and lemon juice and let sit for an hour

3. Heat fryer to 375
4.mix the flours and spices together
5. After the hour is up take the melon out of liquid and add to flour

6. Fry until golden brown
7. ENJOY! I recommend serving with  a tamarind chutney or vegan raita





Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tomato Soup w/ Grilled Cheese

So this is a favorite food of mine -creamy tomato soup. I have missed eating it and made a promise to myself that I would once again the creamy simple pleasure of this old school comfort food. I hit the nail right on the head and feel this recipe is really really special. So yummy that I failed to take pics because I ate it all.

It is tomato season so I will suggest that taking advantage of the local heirloom and field tomatoes is a good idea. However, this recipe was made with convenience in mind. Instead of using canned diced tomatoes use 3.5 cups of  roasted tomatoes

What is tomato soup without grilled cheese? I have found a wonderful bread recipe that makes a lovely little sandwich. I have to admit it was time consuming but easy! It is also perfect for a nice crusty piece of bread to add to the side. Perfect Crusty Piece of Bread. Slice the bread and grill with Galaxy Vegan Rice Cheese and enjoy!


Tomato Soup

1 Tble sunflower oil
1 leek chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 Tbl Zahtar season
2 tsp dried oregano
28 oz canned tomatoes
 15 oz can coconut milk

1. eat oil in a large sauce pan and add leeks and garlic. saute until soft about 5 minutes.
2. add Zahtar and oregano and saute another 3 minutes
3. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil.
4. Simmer for 20 minutes on low-med heat
5. Add coconut milk and bring just to a boil
6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and the run through food processor until smooth.
7. (optional) run through a sieve or mesh strainer)
ENJOY!


Building Boundaries and Straight up Cheating

If this is to be an honest blog about a family becoming vegan then I have to address falling off the wagon. I also need to address what is to have boundaries and what it is to cheat. There is a difference. Despite what some vegans may say.
Boundaries are an easier and more important concept to start with since it is probably the first thing I had to commit to before I became vegan.  The term vegan is referring to a lifestyle of rejecting and eliminating animal products –meat, leather, honey, and etc.  It is a lifestyle that follows a philosophy that no animal should suffer and man can live with the earth and not against it. That being said . . . there are levels and one can be veganish. 
Leather and fur are huge no-no in the vegan community. I personally do not wear fur or even like how it looks. I do like leather so now I have to create my boundaries.  I have made a choice not to purchase any leather from the day I became vegan but I do not feel it necessary to throw out any of my leather shoes or leather purses. My husband and I just realized out new car came with leather seats and felt a little weird about that. If I were to overhaul it all I would explode so I am choosing to make small choices now and grow with my new lifestyle.  I am also keeping the vintage 1950’s mink hat my parents bought me as a gift –it was a gift and I do not throw out presents.
Sweetener leaves more grey area. True Vegan options are agave (which is wonderful), corn syrup (which I use sparingly), maple syrup (which is expensive), turbindo or raw sugar, or sugar from sugar beets.  Regular old cane sugar goes through a filtration process that involves animal bone char. Not all companies do this and I would have to do some research to know who does.  I do not observe this rule yet and I would not judge a vegan who did. It can be argued that you are not consuming animal product but passively allowing it to be part of the process. This is my boundary but that may change. It is okay for boundaries to change and evolve with the lifestyle. Honey is another issue with sweeteners. Bees love making honey and it does not hurt a bee to take the honey so I still consume honey. A true vegan would say no way but I am not quite there yet and that is okay.
Artificial sweeteners are never okay. This is not because I am a vegan but because I do not want cancer.
Alcohol can also be tricky. I like to say “Alcohol, always cruelty free!” But that is not true. As with sugar, some filtration processes involve animal char. The same logic can be used that since the ingredient is not animal product that it is still okay to consume. I am quite comfortable with this because I loves my wine and I really loves my local wine.  No producer of fine wine or spirits has to prove their “veganess” to me
Do not get me started on finding products not tested on animals . . . it is shockingly hard and I have decided to dedicate year 2 of being vegan to that.
 It’s is a journey and a lifelong commitment so I need to stay focused on the boundaries I create. Starting slowly and evolving at my own pace is putting me where I need to be and setting me up for success.
I promise this is my beautiful vegan sushi wrapped in collard greens.

A confession
I cheated this weekend. On Friday I made some vegan sushi and it was delicious. It was so delicious that I wanted to take it to the next level. I was just not sure what that next level might be. I love sushi and actually do crave it. My husband and I actually made the trip out to buy sushi grade tuna, Krab (it was faux),and smoked salmon. This was straight up cheating and it happens.
I also cheated a week ago when we went to my favorite Greek restaurant. I assumed I could find a vegan item but could not and went with my old ‘fave –Chicken Souvlaki. I am not going to lie. .  . It was as good as I remembered. It will be hard finding new ‘faves and saying goodbye to old comfort food. My life may be me eating this occasionally. The thought of cutting out certain thins brings me panic attacks . . . for now. As I grow with my diet I know it will get easier and cheating will not be necessary.
I am a fairly new vegan and I still see things that I want. I miss cheese and Greek yogurt. I am bombarded by images of fast food that I know is poison but it looks so tasty. I am still new to many decisions and have to do so much research sometimes to make a decision. It can get hard and I get overwhelmed.  I have to remember this is a lifelong commitment and I have time to explore, grow and say goodbye to old habits. I may cheat today but I probably won’t tomorrow.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meatless Monday 8/22

My week of meat-free dinners
Monday –tomato bisque w/grilled chz (using Galaxy Rice Vegan)
Tuesday - dandi pie w/greek yogurt 
Wednesday – macaroni –n-chz w/mixed veggies
 this was featured last week also but it is a favorite and very easy to make.
Thursday –  Potato and Kale Enchiladas (from Vegonomican)
Friday  -mushroom sliders w/creamy slaw

Breakfast
French Toast w/ fresh fruit

Lunch
Sweet Potato Fries w/ magic dust

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Do you miss your mommy's mangos?

My mother was horrified when she heard my children repeating the line from RANGO "Do you miss your mommy's mangos?". She knew what it meant . . .we all did. But my children did not and it was a story about an exotic lizard that probably did eat mangos and had no exposure to mammary glands. However, my husband grew up with a mango tree in his grandmother's yard. He did miss his mommy's mangos sometimes. He probably missed her boobies too since he was breast fed until he was 6. Mangos, mothers milk  . . . why wouldn't I think to make ice cream.

This is my family’s favorite thing right now and one of the easiest things to make. All you need is an ice cream maker and some fresh mangos.
The key is to make sure the mangoes are really really ripe. If they are not then it can be stringy and tart . . . just not what a mango ice cream should be.

Mango Ice Cream
 4 cups of ripe mango meat(about 3 mangos)
2 tsp cornstarch
2  -13 oz can of coconut milk ( use full fat . .  I am vegan and need my full fat)
¾ cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla
1.       Put mangos  in a food processor and mix until smooth. If any of the mangos seem stringy or not ripe enough then run through a sieve or wire strainer.
2.       Mix that with the cornstarch and let sit for 10 minutes (no clumps)
3.       Mix fruit with the rest of ingredients and chill in the fridge for a few hours.
4.       Follow the instructions of the ice cream maker or place in popsicle molds.
5.       Freeze and ENJOY!

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