Monday, January 5, 2009


So I haven't even been on the internet since that last post. Being away from work, one of the last things I want to do is get online...mostly because it reminds me of work. And oh, I hate my job. Today was especially mind-numbingly terrible. Probably because it's Monday. And I've been away from it for 4 days. And the fact that my bosses are jerks and my work is boring. You know. The usual. So anyway, that means that I have a lot of catching up to do. Starting with that exciting thing that I told you I've been doing that Blogger is miraculously letting me upload photos of today. Look!
i'm learning to knit!

Michael got me a basic teach yourself to knit thing for xmas! He also got me loads of yarn and a more advanced book on slinkyrad sweaters for when I get better. And despite not understanding the instructions at all at first (I'm a learn by seeing/doing person), I really have a knack for it, somehow.
growing growing


My first knitting creation! I've gotten loads better since then and have been practicing different pattern stitches. I want to make little animals, like...really bad. For some reason. The cats would just commandeer them and hide them if I did make them, but that might just be part of the fun, yes? Anywho, now I get to participate in W.I.P. Wednesdays (brainchild of shellyfish)! That stands for Work In Progress, in case you are not in the know. I really enjoy making things with my hands that I get to see growing and improving as I do them (hence my love of ceramics). I did not at first think that I had the patience for knitting, but it turns out that I was wrong. It's a methodical, calming process, surprisingly enough. So, while other 20-somethings go out every night and drink themselves stupid at the bars and are generally not acting like 80-year-old women, I am content to act just that way. Let's not call it 'old'. Let's call it 'settled'. K?

Alright, on to the food. Here is what we ate on new years day. I've heard it's lucky to eat cabbage on that particular day, though I'm not really sure why. I couldn't find any decent collard greens at the store, so that one was out. And I was going to make something out of black-eyed peas, but...didn't. So, sauerkraut it was! I've had it in my mind that sauerkraut and sausage are awesome together (which they are) and wanted to make a pizza from this thought, but Michael deemed that idea icky, so we tried this instead:
not as pretty as a pizza, but still, it was good

This is sauerkraut cooked in some veggie broth with seitan sausages and dumplings. The dumplings were the star of the meal, by far. Little doughy bits of savory awesomeness. The kraut got a little watered down from the broth and the sausage got a little...soggy. But the dumplings were great! Michael found the recipe for me here. These are not the dumplings of my youth, which were more like doughy clouds sitting atop stew. They are compact, more like noodles. A nice, chewy noodle. That recipe calls for cornstarch, but it never says where to put it in, so I left it out. I also lacked the patience to roll them out to 1/8 inch thick and cut them all into 1x1" squares, so I just rolled them out to an acceptable (to me) thickness and used a spoon to cut out little oddly shaped noodle-biscuits. It turned out pretty good.

Next up is last night's dinner:
angel hair with garlicky oyster (mushroom) sauce

So here's the deal. I used to make linguine with clam sauce a lot as an omni. It's pretty much the only dish I made that had meat in it. I was good at it, and it tasted awesome. I decided to recreate it last night, with pretty decent results. The key? Oyster mushrooms. Also known as the only mushrooms that I like to eat. And I like them a lot. Too bad they're so expensive, jeez. Like, more expensive than tempeh. What! Anyway, I totally have a recipe for you because I wrote it down right after making it. I'm so on the ball. This is not a pasta that has loads of sauce on it. It's one of the ones where the sauce just coats the noodles and there's bits of yumminess here and there to chew on. Mmmmm... Served up with some olive bread (we found like a million artisan loafs of bread on crazy cheap sale at Kroger and put them in the freezer - score!), it's juuuuust right.

Angel Hair with Garlicky Oyster (Mushroom) Sauce

1 Tbsp EVOO
1/4 cup white wine (i just used white cooking wine)
1 cup veggie broth
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3-4 scallions, finely sliced
5-6 (or more!) cloves of garlic, minced
1 package oyster mushrooms, chopped into smallish pieces
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 - 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp capers, chopped (optional...i sprinkled mine on afterwards)
1 package angel hair pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed*

Make your pasta, set aside. Heat up olive oil in a medium skillet, then add scallions and cook until slightly translucent. Add mushrooms and garlic (and capers, if using), reduce heat and cook until fragrant. At some point, the mushrooms will start sticking to the pan, so deglaze with small pours of the veggie broth as needed. This will take about 3 minutes. Then, pour in wine, the rest of the broth, and lemon juice; stir in nutritional yeast and garlic powder. Cook, uncovered until reduced by about half. You want it to still be fairly liquid, but not like soup. (I reduced mine too much and there wasn't enough to cover the pasta well, so make sure you don't reduce for too long.) Once this has happened (shouldn't take long, really), stir in the parsley and cook, stirring constantly, until parsley is just wilted. You want to retain that yummy parsley flavor, so don't overcook it. Take off the heat and pour over the rinsed pasta. You may have to dig for the yummy mushroom bits when you serve, because they'll tend to fall to the bottom of the pot. Eat, enjoy!

*the reason you want to rinse your pasta for this recipe is that you don't need the extra starch on the noodles to grab onto your sauce, as you would for a tomato sauce. I usually never, ever rinse pasta, but you really need to for this one, otherwise the noodles will just soak up all the sauce and it will be dry.

Yay, a recipe! I feel like I never post enough recipes. Mostly this is just because I throw stuff in and don't measure and then forget exactly what I did. Maybe I'll start keeping track a little better. Anyway, on to some random food that we ate before new years.
thai coconut green curry

Seriously, the best way to eat kale ever. Ever! Normally, I find kale still just a tad bitter, but after simmering for awhile in this scrumptious green thai sauce, it was tender and sweet and just fabulous. The tempeh in there wasn't so great, though. Still sorta bitter, even though I cooked it from the beginning to the end of the process (about 45 minutes). Bummer!
gnocchi with okara pesto

Now this was amazing. I completely forgot what I did, except this: I had some basil, but not enough for a proper pesto. I had some pine nuts, but not enough for a proper pesto. In order to fill it out, I added about half a cup of okara to the mix, in addition to some nutritional yeast and lemon juice. And possibly other things, but alas! This dinner happened so long ago that I truly am at a loss. It was very delicious though.
crabbycake casserole w/sesame quinoa

I keep forgetting not to use frozen tofu in this recipe. It won't allow for the cakes themselves to stick together properly. In the midst of utter frustration and cakes falling apart left and right, Michael suggested we just make it into a crabbycake casserole. It worked and tasted delicious. By the way, I don't really follow that recipe above, I just use it as a guideline (mostly to remember how much Old Bay and nayonaise to add). That quinoa was cooked with tahini, nutritional yeast, spinach, tomatoes, lemon juice, and oregano. It was creamy and wonderful and tangy. I've come to really love the taste of tahini with lemon juice. Which isn't a great thing, since it's so fatty. Oh well.
ceasar salad

This is the ceasar salad from the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, which my brother and sister-in-law got me for xmas. Loads of awesome recipes in that one, by the way! This ceasar dressing was...nothing like what I remember ceasar dressing tasting like, but it was still totally delicious. I used to love love love ceasar salads back in the day (which went on to become a greek salad obsession when I went vegetarian) and this is a nice reminder of them. Greek salad, you are next! I must master tofu feta (feta was the last thing I gave up before becoming vegan and I've been to scared to recreate it...I'm waiting until I fully forget what it tastes like first so I won't be disappointed haha). Anyway, we added some tomatoes to our salad because it looked a little bare with just lettuce, which tasted awesome, but added way too much acid. The dressing has a bunch of lemon juice in it, and apparently, I've developed a sensitivity to overly acidic foods. My mouth feels all scratchy and sore when I eat them. Sad. But most likely, worth it. Moving on...
the best tempeh i have ever eaten

And which of course, I forget what I put in the marinade, except that I know it had some of that sweet and hot mustard I'd just bought. I did boil it, then marinate it for like an hour, then fried it up (with the marinade) in the cast iron skillet. Delicious! That's mexi-millet and some green beans with it. Oh man, I have been craving tempeh ever since we had this. But I'm afraid I can't remember how to do it again!
sweet potato n brussels sprout chili

I kept hearing people rave about Isa's recipe for chili with brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. At first, I was like 'meh'. But then all of a sudden, I was all 'hmmm!' instead. Naturally, instead of actually trying her recipe, I just added sweet potato chunks and brussels sprouts to my normal chili recipe (minus 2 cans of beans) because I couldn't be bothered to look at yet another chili recipe. So, I have no idea if Isa's actual recipe for this is any good, but I can tell you that chili with brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes is awesome. Hint: the sprouts hold onto all these juices that when you bite into them totally explode in your mouth! Try resisting that!
where i got the idea that sausage is good with kraut

Ohhhh yeaahhhh...I had forgotten I even ate this. That's a Tofurkey beer brat with some Ezekial bun action. Add a little kraut and some sweet hot mustard (I love that stuff!) and you are in heaven. Oh, and because you can't get enough cabbage (apparently), brussels sprouts are a key side dish.
french onion soup

Last, but not least, we have this stuff. Another recipe from the Uncheese book. I must say, I have never before in my life had french onion soup. It always seemed gross to me. Beef broth...onions as the main component...bread...cheese...blegh. But without any of those grossy things (well, bread still, not that bread is gross, but soggy bread in soup?) I decided to give it a whirl. And it, too, was really good! I got a little freaked out by the 'cheese' eventually because it kind of just made me think of wet dough that I was eating, but had I followed instructions and schmeared the 'cheese' onto french bread instead of using croutons and plopping the stuff in the soup itself, I wouldn't have been bothered by it. I know because the next day, I spread the leftover cheesy stuff onto toast and it was delicious.

Wow. That was a long post. Now it's time to start cooking again. Happy (hellish) Monday, kids. Hope you survived. I barely am, with the help of some PBR and LOST on tv. Thank goodness.


Anonymous said...

WOW. amazing creations, all.
& happy new year to you and michael!
laura (long}

Sal said...

happy new year!

It's awesome that you're learning to knit. I would like to learn to knit, I just keep forgetting to get around to it!! I used to know how when I was younger, my nan tought me but I've forgotten.

That's a hell of a lot of awesome food. Especially the gnocchi! YUM.

Anonymous said...

Your knitting is coming on great! (I can't knit but it looks fab to me!). I like the term 'settled' instead of old. T.V told me a new term they use for that now but I cant remember'll come to me.
The food looks amazing. I have not yet tried tempah (I hear it's an aquired taste so I'm nervous of it) but you always make it look so yummy! Maybe I should bite the bullet and try some?
Oh that's it! They've started to call us 'Young Aged Pensioners' over here now~ or "Yappies". I hate the term! So I quilt and I bake?! I much prefer to think of myself as 'settled' too!
I look forwards to seeing more of your handiwork >:o)

miss v said...

several things:

1. that sauerkraut goodness looks oh-so-yum. i'm thinking i might try it with soyrizo (i'm trying to perfect my recipe).

2. you should post more recipes because your dishes always looks freaking amazing! i bought a cheap little note-card book and keep it in my kitchen. it's one of the first things i get out when i start to cook.

3. knitting is awesome. it is entirely calming. i was just finishing up a purty little scarf when i decided to log on. also, once you get the hang of some of the more complicated things, you should get either stitch-n-bitch, or s-n-b nation. that have super-awesome patterns in there that i think you'd like.

ps - sorry your job blows. :)

Anonymous said...


That is so cool that your learning to knit, I wish I had the patience! I used to crochet but I stopped for some reason.

Your food looks oh so good!!! Especially that caesar! I used to be obsessed with them too, it was the only thing I would order at restaurants. I found a pretty good dressing recipe in the Real Food Daily Cookbook.

Virginia said...

i totally and completely JUST said the other day that i wanted to learn to knit. i tried in the past and even got a book and everything and was just like "huh? i do what with what and move where huh how?" i was all kinds of confused. maybe when i have more time i will try it again =/

food looks awesome! i feel kinda "meh" about brussells sprouts and sweet potatoes in chili though, even though they are both ingredients i LOVE.

pixiepine said...

Power packed post! Yay on the knitting- what a fun thing to learn. I am also of the "let's not call it old" camp who would rather cook and play a board game than dance on a bar somewhere. Hehehe.

jessy said...

look at all those rock'n eats! damn, girl! deeeeeeeeeelicious, indeeds!

you should tell Michael that sauerkraut + sausage on pizza are quite tasty! my friend emily got me hooked on that - especially yummy on a nutty kinda whole wheat crust. mmmmm! i never woulda thought the kraut would have gotten soggy - good to know. the dumplings sound so good! i haven't made dumplings in years. i need to do that super soon!

thanks for the recipe, Jessica! i've never had any kinda oyster sauce before - i need to pick up some oyster mushrooms and try this one on a night when dan's out. i loooove mushrooms - and while he kinda likes portobellos sometimes - i'm gonna make this one for me! alllll mine! muuuahahahaha!

kale & collard can be pretty damn bitter. me no likey. i find that a squirt/squeeze of lemon juice while it's cooking usually does the trick, but now i want to try green thai curry sauce. that's one glorious way to enjoy some green goodness!

gnocchi & okara pest, dayyyyum that looks divine! thanks for the tip on frozen tofu not sticking - never would have thought of that either. i learn so much from your posts! wheeeeeee!

the only caesar dressing i've found that's caesar tasting is the recipe from Vcon. i'm still too scared to try tofu feta - i just don't wanna mess it up! i hear ya on forgetting what real feta tastes like before trying the vegan version. i did that with cream cheese! nice to know other people are thinking the same way!

glad you had some super scrumptious tempeh after the disappointingly bitter batch. man, i still need to try some mexi-millet. we're got loads of millet at the house...

beer brats = mmmmmmmmmmmmm! huzzah for french onion soups, too!

what a tasty post filled with awesomeness! made my tuesday more awesome! thanks!

jessy said...

p.s. - i can't believe i totally pulled a "spacey jessy" and forgot to comment on your knitting! so here we go...

knitting ROCKS! i loooove it the mostest! you're way more awesome than i ever was when i first started out! yay! i love how calming and meditative it is too. part of my news years resolution (#1. no drinks until my birthday in May #2. run a 1/2 marathon and #3. knit more & relax!) is to knit more. because i am ALWAYS getting up to do stuff around the house and i can never sit still. it drives dan banana pants. but when i'm knitting i totally sit there and zone out and it's awesome! so hooray for another knitter! i may just have to (as dan says) show you my knits on W.I.P wednesday, too! i've been too chickenshit to participate - but i may give it a go. wheeeeeeeee!

p.p.s. - stich 'n bitch (or is it bitch 'n stich) is a GREAT knitting book. you may wanna convince Michael to get it for you! or save up some bucks and treat yourself! :) it's got some great tips & gloriously fun patterns! w00t!

Anonymous said...

yay! You're learning how to knit, that is awesome!
And all those eats look DELICIOUS!

Gina said...

Hooly crap that's a lot of food, haha. It all looks delicious though!

Have fun learning to knit! That's one of those things I always say I want to do but don't.

Anonymous said...

This much awesomeness in just one post should be illegal Jessica! You are on fire woman!
First of all, rock on for the learning to knit! I have yarn, needles and a book - so I need to set aside a little time to start knitting! I love that you're gonna WIP! That is the best ever.
Or is it your pasta recipe that's the best - not sure, they tie for amazing coolness. I'm also jonesing for a brat with kraut (I've never had the meat version, but I love the way yours looks!) and some green thai goodness!
Oh, I'm sorry your job sucks. I hope you can find one where you are a little happier...or maybe just a little less sucky!

Anonymous said...

Hooray for teaching yourself to knit!!! It's so fun and relaxing; I love the clackity clink of the needles. What do you think your next project will be? Slinky sweaters sound interesting, I have yet to step into sweater territory...

Your food always looks delicious and filling and perfect for colder weather.

I hate my job too. I ended up getting sick over the long weekend and had 6 days off total as a result. I guess sometimes being sick has benefits?! Urg, I go back tomorrow though...

Hannah said...

Great to see that you're picking up knitting! If you ever need help/advice, I'd love to help in any way possible. :)

aTxVegn said...

Dang, you've been cooking so much good food! I am intrigued by the sweet potato and Brussels sprouts stew, since I love both of those ingredients. And spicing up the kale in a curry is such a great idea!

Vegan_Noodle said...

That is one heck of a food post! Thanks so much for the recipe! My husband would have loved your new years day dinner... he is crazy about cabbage!

That is so awesome that you're learning to knit! It is so relaxing and the best part is that when you're done... you have something useful!

Eric said...

Ooh I love french onion soup. I'm not a fan of soggy bread either, so I usually have a crustier type bread, and I toast it.

Is the cheese in the soup a nut cheese? I haven't gotten my grubby mits on the Uncheese book yet, so I'm kinda clueless.

That beer brat looks great also. I'm German and therefore I dig brats...but I never really liked the meat version even when I did eat meat. I'll have to try the Tofurky one.

K.E.N. said...

your dumplings and sauerkraut look tasty! did you see my post about my new years meal ( don't know how to link without the link button...)? i ask b/c i make an awesome recipe from Nava Atlas' 5-Ingredient Cookbook. you would probably really like it. it's freakishly easy and there's only 5 ingredients :o)

lin said...