Vegan since 1975, I decide to answer the question, "What DO you eat?" These posts tell about some meals and recipes my family and I have enjoyed over the years.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hash

The other night there were just a few of us home, so I decided to make some HASH.

Wash and cut the eyes (or long roots, if you've stored your potatoes all winter, like I have) off two medium sized potatoes for each person. I used eight potatoes. Cube them into very small cubes, sized about a centimeter.
Chop a medium sized onion.

Fry the potatoes and onion together, breaking up an eight ounce slab of tempeh into the mixture. Tempeh can be made of soybeans or grains, and is a fermented food that is easy to digest. I hate to say any more on the subject, or you won't buy it and try it. Suffice to say the tempeh should have a whiteness between the beans which is a normal part of the cake of fermented beans. It has sort of the flavor of cheese (but what do I know, having not eaten it in so many years...) and can hold up to frying or using in all sorts of recipes instead of meat, not having the flabby texture of tofu.

Clean the Refrigerator Vegetable Soup and Crackers Even the Dog Loves

I needed to clean out the vegetable drawer anyhow, so thought I'd make some soup. To make VEGETABLE SOUP, first wash the vegetables and see what you've collected, then peel the thick skinned ones and scrub the carrots and peel the onions and garlic.

Chop up the vegetables, using as many as will fill your large soup pot about one third full. Or like me, you will start off using one soup pot, end up adding too much water, and have to transfer to the largest stock pot in the house.
In a tablespoon or so of olive oil, saute the chopped large onion. Add the cut up slices, sticks, rounds or wedges of your other chopped vegetables after a couple of minutes. I used turnips, carrots, golden beets and celery because that's what I had. Towards the end of sautéing add the minced garlic cloves (as many as you'd like).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coconut Chick Peas, Quinoa, Greens and Salad


I had a creepy experience last night while preparing to make some QUINOA and COCONUT CHICKPEAS. You'll remember I said I have attempted to be a vegan for the past thirty five years?

Now I find, upon looking at the microscopic ingredient list on my Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste which I've used occasionally for years, which my curiosity led me to examine with a large magnifying glass, that it contains anchovy extract and shrimp paste. Grrr. Poor little shrimp and anchovies! And, I am sorry, children, for I knew not what I did.

I promptly disposed of it and then cut my thumb on a can's edge, which made the dinner last night take an hour to prepare, though normally it might take at the most forty five minutes. I hope this is penance enough, along with now giving you an alternative to typical Thai cooking. My vegan version has everything else that the paste would normally have had, with the exception of the fennel seed and tamarind paste, which luckily I had on hand, but would normally have forgotten to add to my dish. (I think they have changed the formula since I wrote this, or I was using a very old version. Yet the moral of the story remains: always read labels before you buy new products. Look for the green V for vegan, or to see if it says vegan, or at least get to know what isn't vegan, and do your own determining.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Desperation Soup

The other night we got home after eight at night and still had to unpack the car. I was hoping nobody was hungry, but it seemed like they were, so I went to the pantry and only found one can of Trader Joe's Black Bean soup, not nearly enough for five moderately hungry people. I did have some cans of black beans, though, so I figured I could stretch it.

To make DESPERATION SOUP, dump a can of black bean soup and a can of black beans and one can's worth of water in a small soup pot.

Quick Black Beans

Last night's dinner of black beans was pretty good, and it didn't take that long to make. First I used my rice cooker to make two cups of dried rice in two cups of water turn into enough rice for five people with some left over, and I steamed a bunch of chopped Red Russian Kale over it. You could do this on the stove top the usual way, but I liked not thinking of these two aspects of the meal once I had them in the cooker. They were just done whenever I got around to unplugging the device, as long as the button had switched itself up to the warm setting. In other words, I didn't have to wait for the rice water to come to a boil, let it boil five minutes, then turn the heat down to simmer and cover the pan, nor did I have to use a second pan to steam the greens.

While those were cooking, I decided to make some BLACK BEANS. They were done by the time the rice was, and it all took place within half an hour.
Saute two small chopped onions in a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add about half a teaspoon of whole cumin seeds, turmeric, chili powder and oregano.

Add two fifteen ounce cans of black beans once the onions are softened.
Chop up sprigs of fresh basil and parsley (which is starting to grow back from the guinea pig pruning), or add a half teaspoon of dry basil and parsley along with the other seasonings.

Add a dash of tamari, nutritional yeast and smoky Serrano hot sauce (or whatever hot sauce you like), and a dab or so of tomato sauce. You made that yesterday, right?

Stir and let simmer on low until the rice and kale are ready.

In the summer I like to serve this dish with chopped up yellow onions, green peppers and red tomatoes on top of the black beans, which is served on top of the rice, with the greens to the side. Sprinkle the top with tamari, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and you have a colorful, yummy and nutritious meal.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fried Tofu

FRIED TOFU is a staple dinner food around here. It is fast and easy to make, and goes well with a pasta dinner, rice, or any other grain, served with some steamed vegetables (including the ever-important daily dark green leafy vegetables) and maybe some sauce or gravy, or a dash of a store bought dressing or hot sauce.

Buy extra firm tofu. Be sure the store you are buying from understands how to handle and store tofu. It should smell fresh and beany when you open the package, not off in any way. Nasoya, Vitasoy and Soyboy are my local favorites. Other parts of the country will have their own. In Vermont there is a small company making tofu locally. It costs twice as much, but I like to buy some from time to time to keep their enterprise going, and to support local agriculture and industry. The aseptically packaged extra firm tofu doesn't work as well for this. Fried tofu needs to have a little body to it, and the Morinu tofus are too custard-like for this particular application.

Tomato Sauce

About once a week if you have time it's helpful to make some TOMATO SAUCE. If some vegans are stopping in for dinner, you can't go wrong with some pasta and sauce, a salad and maybe some garbanzo beans either thrown in the sauce or cooked up on the side, and perhaps some cooked greens. Then the sauce can hang around for about a week in the refrigerator, helping out in other dishes, or repeats of a pasta dinner, or, if you live alone, you can freeze it in small portions (or in an ice cube tray, transferring it to a freezer bag) for use in soups or whenever you need a little sauce. It's cheaper than store bought, and it tastes a lot fresher. It's also good on pizzas—homemade or store bought rounds, or even english muffin pizzas in your toaster oven for lunch, topped with your favorite vegan cheese substitute, or shredded Tofu-Lin, nutritional yeast, olive oil, oregano and a ring of onion.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tofu Jerky

Today I got a case of three pound blocks of TOFU from my buying club, so I am going to roast some long strips of it with olive oil and tamari. You could also sprinkle it with herbs or garlic or onion powder while it's cooking, but that isn't necessary.


I preheat the oven to 425 degrees and lay out the strips of tofu that have been cut about a quarter of an inch thick on an oiled cookie sheet (what I call a cookie sheet is probably really a jelly roll pan—it has sides).

I sprinkle the tofu with olive oil and tamari and roast it on one side for about half an hour and then flip it over with a spatula and cook it on the other side for another twenty to thirty minutes, until it becomes quite chewy and a little crisp around the edges.

Check on it, because your oven might be different than mine. You don't want the tofu to get burnt. The thinner you slice it, the shorter the cooking time will be. The longer it cooks, the more leathery it gets, so don't overdo.

You can use the regular extra firm blocks of tofu for this (getting about ten slices from one block), and you can fit two blocks of those on one sheet, with room for a halved onion for more flavor for your meal. If you eat a lot of tofu, and can find the industrial sized blocks like I sometimes can, one three pound block will fit on one cookie sheet, if you lay them out touching each other, and even up on their sides around the edges of the pan.

Serve with a grain and some greens, or with potatoes and squash.

Leftovers of these are great to munch on or bring as a snack when you want a little chewy protein if you're feeling hungry. It's sort of like homemade jerky, and will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Savory Roast Seitan and Gravy

SAVORY ROAST SEITAN is an easy dish to prepare. I usually just call it roast gluten, but I didn't want to scare anyone off from trying it. 

Gluten is the protein part of the wheat berry, that which is left over if you wash away all the starch from whole wheat flour, after mixing it with water and kneading it a while into a dough ball. You can do that if you want, but it's a lot easier to just buy some vital wheat gluten powder, available at natural food stores. I checked with Arrowhead Mills, one of the main producers of gluten in this country, and they are still making their own and not importing it from China, like the pet food companies do, so there is no need to worry about melamine contamination if you buy their brand, or ask if they are the source of bulk gluten powder, if that's what your store carries. Seitan is a seasoned cooked substance made from gluten, which is available in the freezer or refrigerated sections of your natural food store. The plain gluten dough ball is usually cooked in a seasoned broth for an hour or so to make it the traditional way, but I find it easier to do it my own way at home, which is probably cheaper, too.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once you've brought home a package of the gluten powder, which should be about two cups, dump it in a mixing bowl and add the following seasonings, stirring them all together: two tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (better pick some of those up when you get the gluten, along with the tamari soy sauce you'll need), half a teaspoon of garlic powder, a quarter teaspoon of ginger powder, a sprinkle of cumin seeds, and a dash of red pepper. You can use a little more of any of those, if you'd like.

Add an eighth cup of tamari soy sauce to one and a half cups of water and pour that into the dry mixture. Stir it together with a fork, cleaning the sides of the bowl with the forming gluten ball. If there is any leftover dry mix, then just add a little more water. It will form a springy, spongy ball.