September 30, 2009
September 27, 2009
When I became a vegetarian, one of the first cookbooks I bought — maybe the first — was "The Vegetarian Epicure" by Anna Thomas. It was filled with recipes that not only I, but my omnivore friends, found delicious. It was a book that made vegetarian cooking seem almost mainstream and gourmet at a time when vegetarians were still seen as a little odd. Anna Thomas was a graduate student in film production at UCLA in 1973 when she wrote that classic book. She went on to write "The Vegetarian Epicure Book II" in 1978 and "The New Vegetarian Epicure" in 1992. In addition to writing cookbooks, Anna Thomas is a screen writer and producer. She won an Academy Award for best writing/screen play written directly for the screen for El Norte, and additional kudos for My Family/Mi Familia which she co-wrote and produced. She was also a screen writer on Frida as well as other films.
Ms. Thomas has just released a new cookbook, "Love Soup," devoted to wonderful-sounding soup recipes, and I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to review her latest effort. Although the book is described as vegetarian rather than vegan, it's "vegan friendly" in the friendliest of ways. Ms. Thomas' two sons are vegan, and she knows her way around a vegan recipe. In nearly every chapter (desserts might be an exception) the vegan recipes outnumber the vegetarian ones, and most of the non-vegan ones could easily be made vegan with the simple substitution of Earth Balance or olive oil for a bit of butter, by using a vegan garnish instead of a non-vegan one, or by substituting vegan sour cream or cheese in the few recipes using those ingredients.
|The veggies from spicy Indonesian yam and peanut soup|
The Book begins with lots of useful information about stocking the pantry, choosing ingredients and equipment, and measurements. It continues with a chapter on homemade broths, offering seven recipes for soup stock, all vegan, for those who like to make their own. The main soup chapters are arranged by season, to facilitate shopping at farmers' markets or using produce from your garden. There are also chapters for breads, enticing condiments and spreads to round out your meal.
I was planning to try a fall soup, but was too attracted to certain winter and summer recipes to do that. The summer soup I chose features zucchini, Yukon Gold potatoes, and fresh basil - all of which are in abundance at our farmers' market now. The second recipe, spicy Indonesian yam and peanut soup, sounded so delicious I just couldn't wait until winter. The next soup I plan to make is also a summer recipe, roasted eggplant and garbanzo bean soup. Doesn't that sound tempting?
|Zucchini and potato soup|
|Spicy Indonesian yam and peanut soup, simmering|
I'm looking forward to trying lots more of the soups from "Love Soup," if I can stop myself from making these two over and over! If you enjoy making soups filled with seasonal vegetables, beans, fresh herbs and condiments, you should take a look at "Love Soup."
September 24, 2009
Have Cake Will Travel to have on hand when our hungry guests arrived. I especially had in mind the mini-guest, aged 19 months, who really likes to eat, and appreciates a good cracker or two. I was right about this - she had a cracker in each little fist both before and after dinner, and even carried a couple home with her. Because I was thinking about Miss E, I reduced the pepper in the recipe by about half. Although the crackers were delicious, they were a bit salty for me so next time I think I'll reduce the salt a little, too. I used white whole wheat flour with a very small amount of baking powder and they turned out great.
My favorites were the ones I thought I had rolled too thin! I didn't have a tiny duck cutter - just a pig and a flower - but I opted to use a pastry cutter, and cut the dough into rectangles because I'm lazy, and it's the easy way out of a lot of cutting. But I made pigs and flowers out of the scraps left over from straightening the dough. I may be lazy, but I like a certain amount of variety. :)
For the main course my husband prepared Sweet Chili Lime Tofu With Wok Steamed Collards, and Quinoa from Vegan Yum Yum. This has become one of our favorite dishes. We used a combination of collards and kale for the vegetable, and a combination of red and regular quinoa for the grain. I've already blogged about this dish in the past so I didn't photograph it. Here's a photo from the old post, just so you can see how attractive it is:
I also made a simple salad of sliced, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
butterscotch blondies forever, and finally got all the ingredients together to make a batch. She warned me in the recipe not to over-bake them, and I tried really hard not to, but without a working timer in the kitchen, and so much going on, I probably did over-bake them just a little. (Sorry, Ricki, I'm not used to the oven in this house, yet.) But, they were still fantastic! Everyone loved them, and now I have a really good excuse to make them again.
Now go make all this stuff! You won't be sorry.
September 20, 2009
Lullaby Moon is a year-long invitation to Seattle to explore a world of dream. A celebration of the night sky, the series of performance events brings bedtime whimsy and wonder to parks and other public spaces throughout the city, enlivening and enlightening the dark time of each month. Performances take place on each new moon for an entire lunar year beginning in October 2008.
update: Here's a link to the Singapore noodle video my son watched before making our dinner. He veganized the recipe but I don't have any specific information about what he did other than to use tofu instead of meat. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFVJeiHzUrQ
September 15, 2009
We ended the morning at a vegetarian Thai restaurant where we had lunch. I had something called ginger delight, and if I'd had any socks on, it would have knocked them right off. It might have been the most ginger I've ever eaten in one sitting. Good thing I love it.
Not a lot of creative cooking has been going on around the house as we've been living an undisciplined end-of-summer life. We eat when we want to, which can mean lunch at 3 or 4 o'clock, and a late dinner when we're too tired to put a lot of thought into the meal.
Another day my son made this spicy tofu sandwich for lunch and it was so good. I rarely eat sandwiches but when I do, I'm always surprised at how good they taste.
Tuscan stew and we ate so much of it last year that I couldn't even look at it for a while. But it was just right last night, filled with late-summer veggies from our kids' garden. Yesterday was dark and gloomy, with a windy chill in the air, and this soup was exactly what we needed to warm us up.
September 10, 2009
|The Theo Chocolate store is filled with chocolate you can taste and buy.|
At Theo Chocolate, we are changing the definition of “quality” by uniting creative excellence that results in deliciously award-winning chocolate with our unwavering commitment to changing the way the cocoa industry conducts business. At Theo, we believe there is no luxury in products that benefit us today, while jeopardizing future generations ability to meet their needs. When you taste our chocolate you will experience our passion and integrity in every luscious bite. We promise, there is something for everyone from the adventurous “foodie”, to those seeking the simple comfort of a delectably creamy milk chocolate bar.Even Jane Goodall has given the chocolate her blessing, and has two varieties, a milk and a dark, in her name. "Proceeds from the sale of these [Jane Goodall's label] chocolate bars will benefit cocoa farmers, promote conservation in the tropical rainforest and directly contribute to the Jane Goodall Institute’s efforts to save chimpanzees, develop community centered conservation efforts and direct youth education programs around the world."
We follow our passion for excellence to bring you chocolate that will delight your palate, ignite your imagination and inspire you to think and act sustainably! Be a part of our movement to save our planet and its capacity to nurture and sustain all living things. We can’t do it without you!
|We had to wear "cool" blue hair nets on the tour.|
Did you know the reason chocolate bars are divided into sections is because they were originally designed by doctors, and each section was a dose? Yes, my friends, dark chocolate is a medicinal product.
Nicobella is an online small business. Click here for the Nicobella blog.
I wish I could send everyone a bar of Theo chocolate - perhaps a giveaway would be appropriate. What do you think? In any case, I'll share a chocolate recipe.
chocolate crispy rice treats. I just made them the other day because I needed a quick dessert, and as I was stirring away at the stove, dipping my (clean) finger in for a taste, I thought, "this would make a great fudge sauce for ice cream or whatever." I made some (with slightly different ingredients) to try it out, and it was really good. As it sits on the cold ice cream it starts to harden and become caramel-like and stretchy in consistency. Makes my teeth tingle just to think about it. This recipe makes one cup of thick sauce.
Chocolate-almond hot fudge sauce
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup barley malt syrup (for gooeyness and caramel-like texture)
1/4 cup agave syrup (for sweetness)
1/4 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch sea salt (opt.)
Place almond butter, syrups, and chips in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly until melted, thick and hot. (about 5 minutes) Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. (Gets thicker as it cools.) Make hot fudge banana splits using 1/2 banana, a scoop of ice cream and a ladle of fudge sauce.
Here's a link to a chocolate - peanut butter dessert sauce that I haven't tried but sounds wonderful.
note: Instead of saving my leftover sauce as sauce, I stirred crispy brown rice cereal into the pot of chocolate then pressed the mixture into a pan for some brown rice treats to have on hand.
September 06, 2009
|Vegan pizza takeout from Pizza Pi in Seattle|
We loved the film, and all the actors were terrific. My only complaint was that Julie Powell and her husband couldn't have possibly eaten all that butter and cream and not put on weight. "Julie" SAYS she gained weight but the tiny and adorable Amy Adams shows no outward signs. Meryl Streep was fabulous as Julia. I will have to rent some videos so I can watch the real Julia Child. I think I love her. The whole movie was wonderful.
We were feeling pretty good after this film but as we headed back to the car we saw tickets being placed on windshields. What? Did we overstay the two-hour limit? What? What? What? Yes, there was a ticket on our car, and it soon became clear why. There were multiple, stacked parking signs on the street - you know the kind - and we'd spent some time trying to decipher their meaning. We finally thought we'd got it worked out when we decided it was okay to park from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for two hours, except on Sunday. What we missed completely was the top sign that said "no parking AFTER 6 p.m." The ticket was for $44, making this the most expensive movie we've ever seen. As we drove away, I was wishing that the seat had at least been comfortable and the screen, bigger...
We went home to organize dinner because we didn't really have a set plan - the kind that involves reservations - and we were feeling a bit deflated after the ticket. No one really wanted to cook so I said I'd make a salad if he went out for a pizza. Going out for a vegan pizza isn't an option we've ever had before, so the novelty was kind of appealing. He went off to Pizza Pi to pick up the broccoli and mushroom pizza we ordered, and I went to see if there was anything left in the refrigerator to make into a salad. I've always wanted to be able to do this - order out for pizza like any normal family might. La-di-da.
|Surprisingly elegant homemade salad from the dregs in the fridge|
Teese for the cheese topping. We re-heated some slices in the microwave (yes, we have our first microwave in the rented house) and they improved greatly. It wasn't quite as good as homemade but it was good and I'm sure we'll be having it again. The salad was perfect.
September 02, 2009
|Buffy in her traveling crate|
We live near Green Lake, which is surrounded by possibly the most popular walking/running path in Seattle, and have taken advantage of that. Unfortunately I bashed my big toe on a piece of raised sidewalk the other day, and walking for pleasure and exercise has temporarily lost some of its appeal. We're also within walking distance of various shops and restaurants and have sampled some of the local offerings. Restaurant food prices are surprisingly reasonable here considering the high cost of everything else. At the local farmers market last week I saw green beans for $9/pound! I also saw them for $3 and $4 which seems like a lot compared to back home. And the regressive sales tax is a whopping 9 percent, 9.3 in restaurants.
This week we're taking care of our granddaughter full time until her new day care center opens next week. She's napping now and I thought this would be a good time to catch up with the blog. My husband took her to the zoo this morning (I didn't want to do the walk with my wrecked toe) and I used that opportunity to make a soup that I've been wanting to experiment with since before we left Madison.
Before I get to the soup I have to mention some of the food-related places we've visited recently starting with the Theo chocolate factory. We didn't plan enough ahead to get a spot on the factory tour, but we visited the storefront, and holy cacao! All you chocoholics would have been in bliss consciousness. There are displays of all the different chocolates they sell with heaps of samples in front of each one. I bought two bars and a lip balm but I think I may have eaten my weight in chocolate samples. Sorry Theo...
Kisaku. At Kisaku we had delicious edamame and very good vegetable rolls. To our surprise, the rolls came with a complimentary salad and bowl of miso soup. Too bad the soup was made with fish stock, and when I told the waitress we were vegetarian, no offer of veg soup was made. Bummer.
So about the soup I made for today's post.. I was trying to make something similar to the soup we had at a vegan meet-up dinner back in Madison, and while the two main ingredients are the same, the soup tastes very different. My son and I liked it a lot but my granddaughter was not thrilled. To be fair to the soup, I have to add that she wasn't very hungry today, and mostly dumped her food onto the floor, to the delight of the dog. I think she would have liked it more yesterday when she seemed to have the appetite of a young bear. (You can view her reaction below.) I didn't spice the soup up as much as I might have because I was planning to offer some to the babe, but I probably would have added something hot. I have to say that the soup had a very fresh taste exactly like the veggies it was made from.
Zucchini spinach soup
- 6 cups fresh zucchini, in small cubes
- small bunch fresh spinach, washed well
- 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 - 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup) plus zest
- 1-1/2 cups white kidney or cannelini beans, rinsed well and drained if from a can
- 1 cup water or broth
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar (evaporated cane juice)
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried dill weed (to taste)
- fresh ground pepper to taste (optional)
- Saute the zucchini and garlic in the oil in a wok or large pan until the zucchini begins to brown and soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the spinach, and toss to wilt, about 1 minute or less.
- Place the vegetables, lemon juice and zest, beans, water or broth, salt*, sugar and dill in blender and blend until very smooth and creamy. (*If you are using broth, blend and taste before adding salt.)
- Place blended soup in a pot and heat gently to desired temperature. Grind pepper over the top if desired.