Saturday, March 28, 2009

when the cat's away...

I finally got together some pictures of food.  It's about time right?  Michael's been out of town this week, so I've been eating stuff he doesn't like or gets tired of faster than me.  Like...falafel!  And capers!  The thing is, I forgot that when you cook for just yourself, if you don't cut recipes in half, you'll have leftovers forever.  So I really only had to cook twice in 5 days.  That's pretty sweet, in theory, but I did get a little tired of eating the same stuff.  Anyway, I guess you probably want to see it, yeah?  Ok.

A few days ago, I got this rad idea from Dreena Burton's blog for braising tempeh with lemon and capers.  She didn't post a recipe, but I got some ideas from the photo.  Besides...I really don't need an excuse to put lemons or capers in my food, so this was a no-brainer.  Still, I had some tricks up my sleeve that I blatantly stole from her.
bubble bubble toil and trouble

Yeah, so those are lemon slices.  They add a really great kick of lemon flavor that juice and zest alone do not.  If you do this though, make sure you don't eat those rinds...they are hella bitter if you bite into one.  They do look pretty though, don't they?  The other thing I ripped off Dreena was to add red onion.  That's not a real big rip-off, but I rarely remember about how awesome cooked red onions are, so I don't normally use them.  The best part about the whole thing?  Braised tempeh absorbs so much flavor that it's unbelieveable.  There was no trace of the bitterness that is associated with...badly cooked tempeh.  You could serve this sauce over just about any grain, but I chose bulgar wheat, which absorbed the sauce nicely.
brussels sprouts a la cart

I really want to post a recipe of this...but I need to think of a new title first.  Here:

Braised Tempeh with Capers, Artichokes, and Grape Tomatoes

1 block tempeh, sliced thinly into 16 rectangles
1 Tbsp olive oil
water, as needed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 Tbsp capers, chopped (or more if you like)
1 Tbsp caper brine
2 lemons, one sliced very thinly into rounds, one juiced
1/2 cup white cooking wine
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cups water with a chickn bouillon (or use veggie bouillon or veggie broth)
1/2 15-oz can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
couple handfuls of grape (or cherry) tomatoes
1/2-3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
cracked black pepper to taste

First up, steam your tempeh for about 12 minutes to prepare it.  In a large skillet, heat up the oil, then toss in the red onion, garlic, and shallot.  Cook on medium heat until the red onion starts to soften, then throw in your tempeh slices.  Things will probably start to stick to your pan at this point, so I add splashes of water (kept in a little salad dressing bottle by the stove) to deglaze and keep things moving in the pan.  Once the onion cooks down fully and the tempeh is getting some browned spots on it, add the white wine, capers, caper brine, water + bouillon (or broth), red wine vinegar, lemon juice and lemon slices to the pan and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, reduce heat to a simmer and let that liquid reduce by about 2/3.  You still want some liquid in there, but not over 1/2 cup (so my math is probably wrong here, huh?).  This will take about an hour, by my calculations.  Meanwhile, prepare whatever grain or pasta you want to serve this with, get any side dishes in order, and chop up your parsley.  Before the liquid is fully reduced (about 45 minutes in), add the tomatoes and artichokes.  Continue to cook until the liquid level is where you want it, then stir in the parsley and cook only for 1-2 minutes, so that's it's wilted, but not discolored.  Turn off heat, add black pepper to taste.  Serve with a grain to soak up that saucy goodness!

It's really a lot of downtime, you don't even have to really stir the sauce while it reduces.  I stirred the whole thing maybe twice in an hour.  Still, remember to pick out those lemon rinds!  They will be very soft and look enticing, but you really don't wanna eat 'em.

Next up is dinner last night.  Earlier this week, I made falafel and ate it on a salad that I'd made a hummus dressing for (which was totally awesome, by the way).  All the pictures of it are terrible though (pre-new camera).  Anyway, I made enough to have falafel for lunches and snacks throughout the week.  Last night I ate the last of it and made little flatbread falafel pizzas with it!
falafely goodness

I have these spinach flatbread things for rollups, but they're also great for crispy pizzas.  I just put a healthy dose of the hummus on them, then crumbled up the falafel and covered them with thin slices of tomatoes.  After baking at 400F for about 10-15 minutes, I took them out and added diced pickled jalapenos, avocado, lettuce, and......radish shoots!  Yes, those are shoots from the garden (the radishes needed thinned out and I couldn't bear to just throw out those lovely little sproutlings).  They were delicious, by the way.  As was this whole pizza!  A nice change from how I'd been eating the falafel...and I can never have enough creative pizza in my life.

So that's really all I ate of note while Michael was gone...  It all lasted me a long time, plus I had pizza out one night with a friend (and accidentally ate parmesan cheese on a breadstick, blarf).  I had a nice palate vacay, but I can't wait for him to get back today and for us to cook together again!

Oh, by the way, this stuff is amazing:
dr. cow tree nut cheese

My boss brought these back for me from New York last week (upon my request and payment, of course).  They are freaking tasty, kids.  Made from aged cashews, they taste like what I remember sharp cheddar to have tasted like.  I let my boss taste some and he said that I was crazy and it didn't taste at all like cheese, but that it did taste good (for weird vay-gun shit).  Anyway, I reccommend these to those of you with a penchant for a tasty spread, because these are a hit on fancypants crackers.  It's really rich, and it's also pretty expensive (about $9 for one of those tiny things), so use sparingly.  Thanks, Dr. Cow, for making something so yumtastic.  I'm not sure where all you can find these except in nice health food stores and possibly from food fight, but you can go to their website here and check it out.

I have more pictures of foods we ate last week (or...earlier), but I really need to go do some laundry before Michael gets home.  Hope you're all having a great weekend!  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WIP Wednesday: garden progress and something awesome

I want to first apologize for my lack of posts this past week...  It was a hectic and bothersome week, and though I thought of you often, I wasn't able to make time to write anything.  Or really even cook anything good.  We had brussels sprouts and french fries for dinner Monday night.  Seriously.  But anyway...

The garden is coming along so nicely!  Lookit!

They live!  Those are some radishes and lettuce of some kind (I've been having a hard time keeping track of what is in what pot for now...that will all change once they are actually recognizable plants.  Oh, and no I can't read my handwriting on those sticks.).

And then there's this:

A little fairy ring of sprouty happiness!  Almost big enough to start thinning.  They grow up so fast...

And beets!
strain your eyes, they're there

Even the herbs in our little kitchen window pot are starting up:
little basil (or parsley) and chives

So yes, the garden is doing very well.  I'm so pleased!  They only just started sprouting on Monday really...and they've grown so much since then.  I didn't even show you all of what we've got goin' on.  Sadly, Michael's out of town and our babies will practically be toddlers once he gets back on Saturday.  Sorry, it's just way too easy to personify these plants.  We've got a lot invested in them and I care about them so much!

Oh...  hey there, bloggy buddies.  Did you notice something awesome about those photos?  I did promise awesomeness in this post as well.  Hmmm...  Did I fail to mention last week that I ordered a digital SLR?  Well, I totally did!  And it came today!  And it's raining so I can't go outside and take photos.  So here's some other examples of what my fabulous new (well...gently used and 4 years old) camera can do.

It can take pictures of the inside of my fridge.

It can take pictures of the bed.

It can take pictures of my cat.

Heck, it can take pictures of both my cats.
so happy to oblige

It can take pictures of stuff I'm gonna eat tonight.

It can take pictures of my sink.
tempeh for din

It can take pictures of garlic.
and up close, mind you

And it can even take pictures of my blogging station.

Which brings me back to where we started.  Did you notice?  How awesome?  Did you see all that selective focusing?  The shallow depth of field?  Did ya?  

Color me excited because this girl has finally got a decent digital camera (Nikon D70 for those who are interested) and can show off the photo skillzzzzzz.  Yeah!

Now.  Off to make dinner and take an awesome picture of it.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WIP Wednesday: greening up 2 ways...well, actually 3

I feel bad about using plastic shopping bags.  We all should, really.  I couldn't really afford to buy a bunch of reusable bags though, so I decided to make some.  Out of my old tshirts that will probably never fit again because I'll probably never be a size extra small ever again.  I have all these old shirts that I love...but never wear, so this is a way for me to use them again and help out the environment.  The funny thing is that most of these shirts are from a store I worked at for awhile, and I had a major Volcom obsession for awhile and now all my shopping bags (except for like...2) have their logo.  Fun.  Psssst....these were really, incredibly easy to make.  Like ridiculously easy.  If you have a sewing machine (or just a shitload of patience), you can do this.  Looky here:
amazing how those xsmall tshirts stretch 

They hold so many groceries!  That's only three of around ten that I made.  Here's what you do:  
1. Find a tshirt that you don't wear anymore.
2. Cut off the sleeves, but keep the seam that holds them on intact (for stability)
3. Cut out the neckline so it's wider.
4. Turn it inside out.
5. Sew together the bottom hem (I did it twice for extra sturdiness).

That's it.  Go make your own grocery bags!  You no longer have an excuse not to.  Also, as you can see in that photo, Kroger is now carrying these Tasty Bite Indian dinners that you just microwave up and the ones that are vegan say vegan on them.  Which is pretty much unprecedented in West Virginia.  I was so excited that I had to buy one!  Haven't tried it yet, but they seem good.  Added bonus?  They're lower in fat and calories than most of those microwave meals, so you don't feel all gross after eating it (I'm assuming).  You might have also noticed these:
even greener

What's the point of using a reusable shopping bag if you just fill it up with your produce that's in those silly plastic produce bags?  If you're like us, you buy a lot of produce, either at the store or at the farmers market.  Well...fret not, my friends.  There is a way around it!  Some people, like our buddy Amy at Tahinitoo, make their own out of lightweight nylon.  There's no fabric like that at my fabric store, so I ordered some bags from Etsy from a girl who is making these (at $2 a bag) to pay for her college education.  Go check it out!  They are as light as the plastic bags so they don't screw up the scale, plus you are (yet again) helping out the environment.  And helping a kid pay for college.  Where can you go wrong?  They come in sizes small, medium, and large with these nice little ribbons to pull everything shut.  Rad!

Another way we are greenifying our house is by starting an indoor garden.  We made a trip up to Lowe's on Monday to get's our seeds:
so many exciting veggies and herbs!

Last night Michael and I started planting the seeds that specified March for our region.  It was some work (and some money spent...), but well worth the effort (assuming we get loads of veggies out of it).  We have a sunporch on the front of our apartment, so all the containers are going out there.
do you see our garden owl?

Those are the ones that don't need to be transplanted.  Lids on top to keep the kitties out.  Now I really need advice on how to keep cats OUT OF THE PLANTS!  It's a big problem, because our cats are curious to the max and like to destroy things.  If you have any advice, let me know!  

My mom gave me a growlab that I can start seeds in for things like peppers and tomatoes.
happy plantlings

I can't find the list of all of our seeds, but here's what we planted last night:  brussels sprouts, cayenne peppers, chili peppers, scallions, golden beets, red beets, kale, red radishes, watermelon radishes, regular lettuce, mesclun, rainbow chard, and sugar snap peas.  Should be an adventure, eh?  This is all due to a book my brother got for Michael for Christmas called The Bountiful Container by Rose Marie, Nichols McGee, and Maggie Stuckey (thanks, Jonah!).  We highly reccommend this book for anyone with a small space that would be interested in gardening (indoors or out!).

Stay tuned for progress throughout the spring and summer on how our little plant buddies are doing!

The final way of going green is our St. Patrick's day meal.  As soon as I saw the colcannon puffs on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, I knew I wanted to make them.  And I'm so glad I did!
nice little potato balls

These were seriously tasty.  I'd say you should make them all the time.  Not just on St. Patrick's day.  They are lightly crispy on the outside and nice and soft on the inside, with loads of flavor.  The recipe made more than I could fit on my cookie sheet (which was 30 puffs), so we put the rest in a loaf pan so Michael (the potato lover) could have colcannon loaf as snacks.
tato loaf

To go along with these loverly potato puffs, we seared some tofu according to a sort of tofu recipe that some lady behind us in line at the Healthy Life Market gave us.  Basically, you don't press it, just cut it into steaks (we got 4 out of our cake), salt both sides with sea or kosher salt and leave for awhile to sweat the water out.  Then heat up some olive oil in a nonstick pan and sear both sides until brown.  Adding cracked black pepper to both sides beforehand makes them extra yummy.  
i had no idea this would work so well

They came out with a great texture, but still pretty flavorless (which we figured would happen) so we served them up with some gravy, also via Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  Mushroom gravy.  And it was freaking amazing.
gravy in the back, croissants in the front

It all turned out so well...  Which made us and our tummies mighty happy.
how can you resist?

I was going to make some soda bread to go along instead of the croissants, but I got some really sad news right when I started cooking and it just didn't happen.  I will make some soon though.  It was all in all a very successful meal, with all the right awesomeness to make vegans happy.

And I don't want to end this post on a sad note, but I do want to say....  Please, if you are depressed and thinking of taking your own life, don't.  There are always other options out there.  Your friends and family will miss you when you are gone, and their pain after that fact outweighs the pain you are feeling now.  I've been in the same position a few times in my life, but let me tell you...  life is a better choice.  You never know what it holds for you.  Please, get some help instead.

In loving memory of my brother's and my friend, Shane.  Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts.

Friday, March 13, 2009

google searches and answered questions

Well. I finally got a couple of interesting Google searches that led people to my blog. I've probably had more, but I forget to check all the time. Most times it's just food stuff or people googling my blog name or something like 'awesome vegan chili'. Anytime anyone wants to google anything that is awesome and vegan, I'm like the number one link. Yay! Anyway, here's two that I feel are worth mentioning...

1. Little Chinese Friend
2. Bananas Lips Hurt

hrm. Ok then. Moving on...

My lovely friend from Tahinitoo (click for her interview!) offered to interview anyone who wanted it, and I'm terribly self-absorbed and like answering questions (sometimes...well, I do today anyway), so I volunteered. You know. In case you need to know something about me. This is where you learn it.

1. What is a food you disliked before going vegan, but now enjoy?
So many things. I used to hate avocados. I'm learning to love mushrooms, which I never thought would happen. Sauerkraut is a big one. I just got way more adventurous with my palate in general once I became vegan. It was like...none of the things that I'm eating now are truly gross to me because they are all plant-based. Or maybe I just got more open-minded. Who knows. Also, they say your taste buds change every seven years. So maybe it's all actually just a coincidence.

2. If you could convince one person to go vegan, who would it be, and why?
Just one person? Hm. I kind of wish one of the people I worked with (any of them, it doesn't matter) was vegan so that my bosses would lay off on picking on me so much. Or at least I'd have someone with whom to commiserate. Really though, I wish everyone was vegan. It just makes so much more sense...if you're willing to see it.

3. What is the kitchen appliance you can't live without?
Food processor all the way. I tried making hummus without it once and almost died from the inconvenience.

4. What is your favorite veg restaurant you have eaten at (or your fave restaurant in general)?
The only fully vegan restaurant I've eaten at was Blossom in NYC (the nice one in Chelsea, not the cafe). And it was spectacular. Granted, I have nothing to compare it to, really, but it was one of my first seitan experiences (Wild Ginger being my very first just a day or so earlier). I had no idea that vegan food could be so darned fancypants and wonderful. Well, I knew it could be wonderful, but that experience really inspired me to start branching out with my vegan cooking (less one-pot-indian meals) and see what I could do.

5. Do you face any dilemmas/struggles as a vegan?
Only that I live in a place that is not at all accommodating to veganism. It is impossible to go out and have a nice dinner, so I never really feel like I get a night off from cooking (and still get a decent meal). Also, the only other real life vegan I know is Michael and it's difficult to relate to the people here sometimes because they are incredibly close minded and would rather poke fun (defensively) at veganism than give it a fair chance. Honestly though, I've never been happier or more satisfied with my life since becoming vegan, so any struggle I have to deal with through ignorance and/or inconvenience is worth it to me.

There you go. Info about me. Excitement!

Anyone else wanna play? Leave me a comment that says you want to be interviewed and I'll leave you a comment with some questions. It could be fun, you never know. It could also kill 20 minutes on a Friday afternoon when you're at work and would much rather be napping.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

back to the books

It's been awhile, eh?  I'll give it to you straight: it's been beautiful here this past week.  This basically means that I never know what I'm going to be doing in the evenings because it's finally comfortable enough to go outside, out and about.  This could include trips to the park to fly kites (hi, Dad!), impromptu croquet games, a day at a friend's house doing laundry, random walks, and/or learning how to play shuffleboard (rules!).  I've been enjoying the weather and my life to the fullest, in other words.  That also means less planned meals and just grabbing easy stuff that's not really worth blogging about.  However!

At the beginning of last week, Michael and I decided to utilize more of our cookbooks and shopped for specific ingredients to do so.  We chose a few recipes out of each book we felt was gathering dust.  This went strong for exactly two meals, both from Yellow Rose Recipes, strangely enough.  You get to see those first, then a couple of randoms that were pretty darned good.

First up is the tamale pie:
oh so mexi

There were parts of this that I loved and parts that I was pretty 'meh' about.  Loved: the cheesy nacho sauce.  Holy mother nature.  I almost didn't make the recipe for this from the book (opting to make my own version) because it seemed too simple to be good.  Which is dumb.  Because it freaking rules!  Michael and I decided that it tasted identical to the nacho sauce from various snack bars of our youths such as the pool (for me) and the bowling alley (for him).  And I know the recipe only says to use 1/2 cup of it, but I just poured the entire batch on top.  It was that crazydelicious.  Oh, here's my plate, by the way:
showstopping avocado love

I will admit that I put this in a bowl and ate it with a spoon after this shot.  It's total bowl-food, guys.  Ok, so...meh: I made the chicken style seitan from the book for this.  The flavor was good, but, as is the case with every single batch of seitan I've ever simmered, it had the texture of wet bread.  In fact, I tried making a sammich out of a cutlet of it the next day and it just became one with the bread and was a complete soggy mess.  Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I'm finished with ruining my seitan.  I'm gonna stick to steaming, no matter what the recipe says.  It just always, always works that way.  Also kind of meh: while this was a yumtastic casserole, overall it really just tasted like mushy nachos.  Not that that in and of itself is a bad thing, but it was an awful lot of work for something that tasted like nachos.  Next time I might just use certain elements and pile it up on some chips, because that would be way easier.  And crunchier.

Next up was the butternut squash lasagna.  This was so easy to make, with a little teamwork.  Once we divided up who was doing what, it came together in a flash.  On a Wednesday, nonetheless.

So, it's not so pretty.  So what.  I put the end of our Teese on the bottom bit (which was awesome, btw).  I really have no complaints about this recipe, honestly.  It was even better the next day after the flavors had concentrated.
such a looker

It's prettier once it's sliced.  And garnished.  We ate this with slices of roasted garlic bread (it has whole cloves of garlic in it!  what!).  Michael and I have picked up a new habit: perusing the day old bread section at Kroger.  We get like 5 loaves/baguettes/whathaveyou for like 89 cents apiece and put them in the freezer.  Anytime we need or want some bread, just pop it in the oven for a few minutes.  It's never tasted stale or off.  Bargain shopping rules the school, kids.  Back to the's the perfect combination of salty and sweet.  Comfort foodiness.  

Oh, bonus shot of the squashes after they were roasty...

Ok, so that is it for planned meals.  The rest of this stuff was good, but definitely came together in a hurry.  First is a wonderful lunch that Michael and I made together on Sunday that includes everything I love (his idea, so sweet!).

That's some bowties with Morningstar Chickn Strips (they were on sale, come on), peas, capers, sherry, balsamic vinegar (I don't like this, but it was good by the end), lemon juice, grape tomatoes, parsley, artichokes, shallots, garlic, and oyster mushrooms.  We had it for lunch, then ate it again for dinner since it was so rad.  This was probably my favorite meal this past week.  Simple and heavenly.

Oh!  I had almost forgotten about this one.  My mom called me last Sunday (a week ago) and told me that it was St. David's day and he's the patron saint of Wales and leeks are the official veggie of Wales and that I needed to eat a leek today.  Mom.  As if I need an excuse to eat leeks.  But thanks for letting me know, regardless.
probably not the best use of leeks, but whatever

I had meant to make the lasagna Sunday and add the leeks into the sauce, but by the time dinner came grumbling at my tummy, I was exhausted.  And I just wanted something easy and tasty.  Solution?  Sauteed leeks with green beans and vinegar and salt and then some boxed couscous mix that Michael likes.  Don't let the grossness of that picture fool you - it was nummy.

Do any of you other food bloggers get tired of trying to think of alternate words for 'delicious'?  I'm out of synonyms.  Time to find my thesaurus.

Here's a bread success:
not dense

I splurged on some white whole wheat flour.  King Arthur makes damn good flour, but it is hella expensive.  Kroger brand flour is like a buck and this kind is around 4 bucks.  Alas, flour is apparently the one thing that Kroger doesn't make well.  For bread anyway.  (You should see our cabinets.  Everything that isn't a specialty item is Kroger brand.  I's cheaper and their stuff doesn't suck.)  Blah blah, so I've made some sammiches with this bread and they didn't suck, either.  And the flavor is pretty good, too.  Woo!

A not so successful bread attempt were these hot dog buns:

They were doing great until I uncovered the formed buns before putting them in the oven and they deflated like it was their job or something.  There was an upside, though!  The outsides got crispy, so when we cut the slits for the dogs, the buns made these awesomely sturdy shells for holding loads of condiments.  Any excuse to put more mustard on something is fine by me.  

This meal was Michael's idea and was made on the first really nice day this past week.  Summer food.  We'd got that corn on the cob (just...corn?) for 50 cents apiece at the store expecting it to be terrible, but it ruled pretty hard.  Nice and sweet.  The potato salad is an invention of ours that is based on a recipe from The Accidental Vegan, but we put too much red onion in it and it hurt my mouth.  That's pretty easy to pick out though.  Once summer hits, I'll post the recipe, but I'm not feeling it right now.  We make this potato salad practically once a week once it gets warm.  It's that good.  You're just gonna have to wait and come back to find out how to make it.  That's some incentive if I've ever heard any.  

Hey, have a good rest of your weeks.  It's almost Friday, but as everyone that works a crappy job knows, each day lasts like a millenium until the weekend, and then every day is like 3 seconds long.'s hoping that your days are more like 24 hours long this week.

PS - one of my brothers and his wife are going vegetarian for Lent.  For Lent, I gave up Veganomicon.  So they could use it, you know.  Wish us both luck.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

old favorites...they live!

Sometimes a girl just wants spaghetti and meatballs (without the meat).  It's hard though, isn't it, to find a decent vegan meatball?  Store bought ones are...ok, but they lack oomph, plus they're full of stuff I can't pronounce.  A lot of the ones I've made at home either fall apart or are incredibly mushy (sorry, Vcon), or just don't have a good flavor.  However, I've finally come across an incredible vegan meatball, by way of our buddy Jessy over at Happy Veganface.  Actually, her hubby Dan created these balls of awesomeness.  I give you...  Dan's tempeh meatless balls!
little beauties

And seriously?  So easy to make.  And they didn't fall apart, once they were browned.  They have the best flavor of any meatball I've had, ever actually.  I can see why Jessy and Dan chose to eat theirs over some rice, as the flavor would really shine that way.  Still, our goal was spaghetti and meatballs, so I just paired them with a plain, but tasty, sauce and some angel hair.
could not stop eating this.

We decided not to simmer the meatlessballs in the sauce for fear that they would fall apart with all that liquid, but I don't think we needed to worry, as they held up really well, even once I mixed all that spaghetti together.  Oh, yes, and that is garlic bread you spy perched atop my plate.  Michael made the most crazydelicious garlic bread on the planet.  It's rosemary ciabatta bread that he spread with melted butter (vegan of course), loads of garlic powder, and parsley.  Possibly other things.  I wasn't in the kitchen when he made it.  But hot damn, this was the best garlic bread I've had in a very, very long time.  I highly reccommend that you go make some rockin' spaghetti with these amazing meatlessballs, though.  You will not regret it!

Yesterday I told Michael that I would make him whatever he wanted for dinner and dessert, as he was a sweetie to me when I felt like shit on Friday (tummy bug, blegh).  He opted for biscuits and gravy, with toaster hash browns and greens.
nothin' like some soysage gravy, now is there?

First off, I used my mom's whole wheat biscuit recipe (scroll down for the recipe).  Then I crumbled up some GimmeLean sausage in the cast iron skillet to brown.  Then in went some flour and butter.  Then soymilk, and seasonings.  The only problem with making gravy from storebought soymilk is all the freaking sugar they put in that stuff.  I never notice it (and hence, forget) until I try to make something savory like gravy with the stuff.  Still, with the help of poultry seasoning and loads of salt, we counteracted the sweet.  Next time, I'll remember, and start off with veggie broth, and add soymilk at the end for a little creaminess.  Anyway, it was still totally rad.

The greens are collards, which I have not had success with before last night.  These turned out really great though!  I sauteed some garlic and an onion, then added the chopped greens and some apple cider vinegar and let them steam, covered, for about 15 minutes.  I finally learned that the longer they cook, the less bitter they are (but I feel like they lose some nutritional value when I cook them that long...oh well, I guess).  Anyway, once they were nicely soft, I added a few dashes of liquid smoke, some more vinegar, salt, and a pinch or two of cayenne.  They were so yummy!  I'm not scared of collard greens anymore.  Now I just have to master turnip and mustard greens.  Le sigh.  

Michael opted for toaster hash browns from our friendly neighborhood freezer section, as they're his favorite anyway, and I'm not really to be trusted when it comes to making something like that from scratch.  All in all, it was a hit!

As for his cookies, Michael asked for "chocolate macadamia cashew cookies" to which I added white chocolate chips.  Voila!

I adapted this recipe from Dreena Burton's Double Carob Cashew Cookies in Eat, Drink and be Vegan.  I've never actually made this recipe as it's stated, as I have no need for carob anything when I can have chocolate, plus they call for spelt flour, which I've never seen anywhere here.  Still, the recipe lends very well to adaptation, which just goes to show you what a genius she is.  Here's my version of her cookies.

Chocolate Macadamia Cashew Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

1 cup AP flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unrefined sugar (I used sucanat)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup white chocolate chips (or regular would be good too, if you don't have white)
1/8 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/8 cup chopped cashews (both nuts should be unsalted)
6 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp almond butter
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1 tsp canola oil

Preheat over to 350F.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and powder, and cocoa powder; mix well.  Add in cinnamon, sugar, and salt; mix again, then stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  In a smaller bowl, combine the maple syrup, almond butter, and vanilla and stir until well combined.  Stir in the oil, then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.  Mix until just combined.  If needed, add a splash of soymilk for added moisture, if it doesn't come together quickly (we had to do this).  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then form 12 cookies out of your dough, flattening each one (they'll be about 1.5 inches across this way).  Pop in the oven for exactly 11 minutes.  Take them out and leave them on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

These cookies are not for the faint of heart, by the way.  They are fudgey and moist and incredibly rich.  The nuts add just enough crunch to mix things up a bit.  However, they are ridiculously easy to make for such a dangerous cookie.  From mixing to baking, they're done in about 20 minutes.  Bake with care.  We finished the entire dozen in about 15 minutes (with the help of a friend).  By the way, omni approved.  As were the collard greens.  Go me.

So yeah, it's been a pretty decadent weekend so far.  Hope yours has been just as lovely.