K, lets start with my birthday weekend. Sunday, Michael and I drove to Athens, OH to go to Casa Nueva, a lovely restaurant that is worker owned and very supportive of local growers, producers, and healthy eating. While their menu is not entirely vegetarian, there are lots of options, and even specially marked vegan items (and more than just one or two!). If you live close by, definitely pay them a visit. If the food pics below aren't enough incentive, they also have an extensive beer list (over 100 types, I'd say) and they make their own liquor infusions for mixed drinks. Come on, now.
tofu fries appetizer, served with a sundried tomato/basil aioli. we ate a bunch before i remembered i had my camera there for a reason.
stacked vegan enchiladas w/swiss chard and eggplant, served up with jasmine rice, black beans, and guacomole
They make all their salsas and guacomole in house (there are lots of varieties of salsa!) and they even have a vegan queso. Mmmmmmm... Unfortunately, they had already sold out of their only vegan dessert option. That's ok, though because we were stuffed.
Next up is the day my parents came down and I cooked them lunch. My mom insisted that I take process pictures for my blog, so here she is, adding the tofu mixture to the veggies for our mini crustless tofu quiches (from FatFree Vegan Kitchen). I didn't get a picture that day of the finished product, but there is one below from where I made them earlier that week (yes, they are that good).
now you see where i get my skillz
Next up is me kneading my seitan sausages. These were a major hit, when served up hoagie-style with some Italian peppers on buns.
sooo appetizing, that ball of mush
sweet potato fries...we made way too many
this is what it looked like all plated up. we served the quiches earlier as appies.
The truly awesome thing that is next is my birthday cake. Our family birthday cake recipe is called Wacky Cake and it is naturally vegan and amazingly chocolatey, and perfect in every way. The fudgey icing my mom makes isn't though. Well, it's chocolatey and perfect in almost every way except that it's not vegan. So I gave her the chocolate buttercream icing recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and she made it PERFECTLY. Way better than I ever could. I'm missing my cake now, darnit. Anyway, here again is another case where I ate half my serving before I remembered to take a picture. Get over it. That's Rice Dream mint chocolate chip ice cream, by the way.
i could barely slow down enough to bother with this photo, but my mom deserves some credit, here
Presents were rad of course, too. I got a cast iron skillet, a cake decorating set, a cooling rack, loaf pans, new measuring cups/spoons annnnd.... the Veganomicon. Finally. Anyway, more on that later. First, feast your eyes on some tired kitties that love presents almost as much as me, for a different reason.
tired from playing too damn hard
And the very last thing from the birthday part of my post is.. the beautiful flowers that Michael sent to my office on my real birthday! He handpicked each flower at the florist and they were just perfect. (He also got me an AWESOME bike!) We had dinner that night at the Indian place in town, but I didn't bring my camera.
he is just tooo sweet. also, if you look close, you'll see my mom there with my nephew, my dad's radtastic mustache, my neice, and a stack of planet earth books. glimpse into my life!
Next up is my recent foray into the world of the Veganomicon. If you don't have this book yet, please do yourself a favor and go get it, immediately. So many delicious recipes, so little time... *sigh* Anyway, first is the dish that has made me love kale.
I didn't do the seitan with this because I was using a different protein, but had some kale that needed used up. There are sundried tomatoes in this, and seriously, it is so delicious that I almost died. We served this up with some scalloped potatoes and hot sauce marinated tofu. Michael made the potatoes and used more potatoes than the recipe called for, but didn't really add more of anything else, so they weren't too creamy, but still tasted yum.
The tofu was very good, although a little too spicy. This is my fault for insisting on using a habanero hot sauce that I'd never had before. It is apparently incredibly fucking hot!
The next night I made the chili-cornmeal crusted tofu and some mexican millet. Both were absolutely perfect. Besides the fact that I don't know how to cut tofu into triangles. We left out the cilantro in the millet and topped it with scallions instead. Michael and I both think that cilantro tastes like pure death. Yeah, we don't like it.
Om nom nom nom nom nom nom
Ok! On with the randomness part of my post. First up, farmers market from last Saturday. I'm super sad that I missed the market this weekend for the wedding. I mean, it was totally worth it, but I'm gonna miss my fresh veggies this week. Oh, I spent $13 here:
Michael loves pancakes. Almost too much. I love pancakes to an extent, but... Like the late, great Mitch Hedburg once said, 'Pancakes... great at first, but by the time you're done, you're sick of em.' Or something like that. But it's true. Still, these were really good. I made an apple compote (maybe... I'm not sure what a compote really is) to go on top. I'll even give you the recipe! The pancakes are just made from Bisquick. We're lazy, at times.
3-4 small green apples, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs vegan butter
pinch of salt
1-2 tsp of cinnamon
nice little amount of fresh grated nutmeg (or some powdered would be fine)
Melt the butter in a small skillet, then add apples. Saute for a few minutes, then add the brown sugar and stir well. Sprinkle on the cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg, stir, and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally until apples are tender, but not mushy (about 8-10 minutes). Serve over pancakes... or ice cream!
One day for lunch I made a sammich. I prefer most sammiches openfaced because you get to have more stuff on them, with less mess falling out of your bread. This is some tempeh (boiled 10 minutes beforehand) heated up with some cheeze sauce, atop homemade bread and topped with yellow tomato slices and some sliced basil (plus salt and pepper).
Oh, and here is some potato salad that Michael whipped up from a combination of the recipe from Accidental Vegan and my additions. You can find this recipe on VegWeb.
And here's some more randomness:
And now for the grand finale! My closer today is something I made up, mostly all by myself, with just a teeny bit of inspiration (just the herb combo) from a Turkish cookbook I have. I present to you... Baked Butternut Squash filled with Mint and Dill Rice! Oh, but it's so much better than it sounds. The addition of apples, raisins, peas, and slivered almonds really rounds out the rice, making it a little sweet as well as savory. And if you've never tried mint and dill together before, try it before you mock it. I didn't know how good it would be, but I was seriously just blown away by the flavor combination. You'll see.
all plated up nice and purty
And now, for the recipe.
1 large or 2 smaller butternut squash, slice in half lengthwise
1 3/4 cups jasmine rice (forgo the brown here, ok?)
3 cups veggie broth or water
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup frozen (or fresh) green peas
1/3 cup apple, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 green cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds (toasted would be good)
1 small bunch of dill, minced
1 small bunch of mint, minced (I'd say about 1/2 cup each here, or more, if you like)
1 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for drizzling over the squash)
2 Tbsp vegan butter
salt and pepper to taste
Start by placing the squash into a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place into a 400F oven and bake for about a half hour.
Meanwhile, start your rice. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Add onions, apples, and raisins and saute until onions are translucent. Add the rice, stirring to coat in the oil mixture, then stir in the broth or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until almost all liquid is absorbed. Toss in the peas, almonds, mint, and dill (plus season with salt and pepper), cover the pan and leave to steam for another 5 minutes (if you were cooking this alone, steam it 10 minutes).
Remove the squash from the oven and spoon in the rice mixture. The squash at this point should be almost soft enough to eat. If it's not yet, then leave it in the oven until it is. Anyway, you'll probably have more rice than can fit in the openings, so just spoon it around the squash. Cover and put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the flavors mingle.
It's so good. You'll love it.
So that's it for my mega post. I'm going to try to start posting more often, now that things have quieted down around here, for the most part.
Oh, I almost forgot! Mom and Dad brought me down a ginormous growlab on my birthday! It stands about 5 feet tall with 2 shelves that have sunlamps over them, and it's about 5 feet wide, too. What should I grow? I'm planning on herbs (I already have 2 types of basil in my window, so that'll go in) like rosemary, thyme, oregano, dill, etc. But what else do you think? Cherry tomatoes? Cucumbers? Lettuces? Does anyone have any growlab experience and know what types of veggies would be good here? I'd love to do bell peppers, but I'm not sure they would work.
Well, until next time.....