April 18, 2017

How to impress the kids with an air fryer



Two of my young grandchildren recently spent the day with us, and at one point during the visit I saw my nine-year-old granddaughter looking at my food blog on my husband's computer. I had no idea she even knew about the blog, and I asked her how she found it. "I just googled your name," she said. "Look. I'll show you how." Okay. That was weird. But it got even better.

"I love looking at pictures of food," she said. "Want to see my favorite thing?" she asked. "Ummm sure," I answered. She then went to an air fryer post and found a photo of French fries.


This is the photo she showed me. "Fries are my favorite food. I wish I could have these right now," she said, wistfully. "You can!" I answered, and less than 20 minutes later, she was sitting in front of a plate of puffy, crispy fries, which she devoured. I think the air fryer has become the most used appliance in the kitchen. And I now have super powers!

I admit, in the beginning days of owning the air fryer, I was so obsessed with fries (and tofu) that every time I went to make something in the air fryer, I ended up making one of those two things. I've expanded my repertoire a bit, though if I'm being honest, they are still my favorites.

April 05, 2017

Seattle Vegfest 2017



Before heading to the latest incarnation of Seattle Vegfest, I checked my last vegfest blog post for inspiration, to get myself excited to head down to the Seattle Center, and spend several hours battling the crowds for samples and insight into the newest vegan and vegetarian products. (Vegfest includes vegetarian as well as vegan items, so we have to ask before sampling any unfamiliar foods to make sure they're vegan.) If I'm being honest, I think the 2015 post was a much better post than this one is going to be — better photos, better samples — maybe you should go read that one instead of this. (Just kidding.)

Some of my favorite products and people weren't there this year, including So Delicious. I was really looking forward to sampling So Delicious cashew ice cream. And Jill from Someday Farm B&B wasn't there either. At least Miyoko Schinner was there to give a cooking demo. I'm sure you know her from Miyoko's Kitchen vegan cheese, or from one of her cookbooks, Artisan Vegan Cheese, The Homemade Vegan Pantry, Japanese Cooking, or Now and Zen Epicure. I have all of her cookbooks and have been to many cooking demos and a book talk. At Vegfest this year, she made almond feta, which she then used to make stuffed shells. It really doesn't matter what Miyoko makes, her demos are always entertaining and informative. She did a very amusing demonstration of how to peel almonds by bringing a bunch of kids from the audience on stage and having them shoot almonds at the crowd. One of the samples I tried and admired at Vegfest this year, was Miyoko's Kitchen smoked mozzarella — excellent!



We also attended a cooking demo by Chef Ramses Bravo, executive chef at TrueNorth Health Center. He made a couple of vegetable dishes that looked delicious. Chef Ramses has a cookbook, too, (which I reviewed here), so I was interested in seeing him in person. When I reviewed his book, I was cooking with, and eating, a lot more oil than I do now, so it was fun to watch an oil-free cooking demo.



In between the cooking demos, we systematically wandered all the isles of the room to seek out as many samples to try as we could. It was so crowded I had trouble getting good photos, but beyond the crowds, we weren't as intrigued by the food as we have been in the past. That said, we did try a number of foods we really liked. Above, you see my husband happily holding a dish of delicious polenta about to be topped with a condiment that was so good, he ended up buying a jar on the spot.

Hero The Mighty Condiment Giardiniera.

I had just tasted the condiment, Hero The Mighty Condiment Giardiniera, on a cracker, and agreed we should take a jar home. It contains sweet red peppers, celery, carrots, Spanish olives, Serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers, pickled pearl onions, canola oil, white vinegar and salt. It's vegan, gluten free and GMO free, but not organic. It's made in Seattle so I don't don't how widely available it is.

We tasted a  a bunch of stuff I didn't get photos of like Frooser, a frozen soft-serve type snack made entirely from whole fruits and veggies, and Wildwood GF baked tofu. Hodo Soy, which I wrote about here, was sampling their wares so of course, we tried some. We also tried numerous versions of kombucha (our favorite is still GTs), and I got to try a sample of Go Umami baked tofu bar from House Foods, which I'm told will be available soon in Seattle, but which tasted extremely salty to me. I have to say, though, I have strong reservations about how many single serve products wrapped in plastic we consume. What do you think about that?

Samples from our bag.

Before we left the hall, we renewed our membership in Vegetarians of Washington, and received a large bag of samples and coupons for free products and restaurant meals. The bag included the usual suspects as well as bottles of kombucha, Odwalla fruit smoothie. and more. There was even a full box of So Delicious ice cream sandwiches, which my husband is enjoying. In the photo above you can see a bit of what we brought home in our bag. I already buy the hemp hearts in a big bag, and add them to smoothies and baked goods. Haven't tried the Teechino, yet, and loved the Thin Stackers from Lundberg, which we will probably start buying.



My favorite item may have been the NadaMoo mint chocolate chip organic coconut ice cream. Whoa — delicious! I'm not even going to look at the ingredients until it's gone — why spoil a good thing. I've never had NadaMoo but it's definitely a most impressive dairy-free ice cream. Have you tried it?



Last but not least, is a jar of Make Me Smile, from Pascha Chocolate. It's made in Belgium for Pascha Chocolate in Toronto. Make Me Smile is a fruit and chocolate spread. When I tasted it, I was surprised at how incredibly sweet it was, and looked again to see the ingredients, because the label said it was made from fruit and chocolate. It is made from fruit, but it's made from fruit concentrates (pear, apple and date), sugar, fair-trade cocoa and citric acid. I think if you have a sweet tooth, you might love it, but for me the sweetness was too intense and overpowering. I couldn't eat more than a bite or two of my cracker, and had to run to the kitchen for a jalapeno-stuffed green olive chaser — shows you where my taste buds lie.

I'm sure I'm leaving some tasty things out, but I've described what I remember most from Seattle Vegfest 2017. I'll probably attend again next year, and hopefully pay more attention to photographing the goods!

March 30, 2017

Sauerkraut sushi? Maybe not.



When the rain stops and the sun comes out in Seattle, you don't grab a quick shower, throw a load of clothes in the washer, or write a blog post. You go outside and plant the parsley! The parsley that's been sitting on the deck waiting for this moment is now in the ground. And it's raining again. Oh well. I was kind of hoping the sun would stay out for a while longer, but this season has been especially rainy and sunless. Normally, Seattle has a lot less rain than many other large cities, like New York, D.C., Baltimore, etc. It's often overcast and gloomy, though, except in later spring and summer, when it tends to be gloriously sunny and dry. Today, though, I'll probably be taking the dog for a walk in drizzle, and thinking about the parsley spreading its roots and preparing to grow bigger as the weather turns to spring. But first, a random post about some of the food we've been eating.



About the sushi in the post title ... I had a terrible craving for sushi. With a quantity of sushi rice in the pantry, and my Instant Pot standing at the ready, I got busy cooking rice and thinking about what to fill the rolls with. The fridge was bare of interesting things, and I wasn't in the mood to go shopping — it was probably raining. Not a cucumber. green onion or avocado in sight, and no creative thoughts in my brain. Nothing but a jar of sauerkraut stood out as a possibility. Let's just say I won't be making sauerkraut sushi again, and you shouldn't either. Not as the only add-in. Perhaps it would be an interesting flavor along with other, more colorful items like roasted red peppers or fried tofu.



I've been having loads of fun with my new air fryer; I use it constantly for everything imaginable. Here is a bowl of rice and veggies with air fried tofu and a sweet/sour sauce.



Leftover dinner salad filled with arugula — my favorite green of the moment — made a pleasant lunch. Although we eat a lot of salads in the summer, sometimes I forget to eat them in the chilly, gloomy months. And when I do consume raw greens in the winter, they have to be special. This is a Chinese salad with mandarins and toasted peanuts from Kristy Turner's cookbook, But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan, 125 Recipes to Win Everyone Over, which we can't help but make again and again.




The leftover salad nicely complemented leftover Thai food the following day. Most of our lunches are made from leftovers. I love leftovers.



My husband made tacos last week, and I wanted a cheesy topping, but I only had 10 minutes before the start of the Rachel Maddow show, to which I'm currently addicted (it's Pacific time here so she comes on at 6 p.m.). I made cheese sauce in under 10 minutes so I could get to the TV in time to watch. I didn't use a recipe, which made it faster, and didn't write it down, which I'm sorry about since it tasted so good. I made it in the Vitamix with approximately 1/2 -3/4 cup of cashews, 1 cup of hot water, one clove of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle chili powder, 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast flakes, two roasted red peppers from a jar, 1 scant tablespoon of tapioca starch, dash of rice vinegar (no time to squeeze lemon) and salt. After it was blended to a creamy sauce, I cooked it in a small pot to thicken it a bit more. It tasted great on the tacos, and now the leftovers are being spread on crackers and toast. I've been making vegan cheese sauces since the 80s, when I first acquired a copy of The Farm Cookbook, then later, from The Uncheese Cookbook and Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. Since then, vegan cheese has skyrocketed in popularity, and every vegan cookbook and vegan blog has multiple recipes available. If you don't feel like making one up based on past experience, just look for a recipe online. You won't have a problem finding something appealing. I have a few favorites that I turn to again and again — when speed isn't an issue! When I need something fast, and don't have time to undertake a recipe, I wing it.

The toast is made from the buckwheat millet bread I wrote about here. I've been experimenting with the bread again, and when I finish, I'll post an updated recipe.

I ran into a little problem after I made the bread because the air fryer bumped the toaster from its accessible location on the counter. The bread absolutely needs toasting to be at its best, so now the air fryer is also a toaster! And, it makes better toast than the toaster ever did. Love my air fryer!

March 16, 2017

Hodo Soy tofu products are now available nationwide

Hodo Soy Thai Curry Tofu Nuggets served with veggies over rice.

When we travel to San Francisco, our primary purpose is to visit a loved family member, but I'd be lying if I said we also didn't look forward to the city itself — and the food! I have a number of posts on the blog about our visits to San Francisco, and the great times we have had exploring the Bay Area, and eating in the amazing vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants. Another of the things we always enjoy is visiting farmers markets like the one at the Ferry Building, and the Marin Farmers Market. When I go to a store in Seattle to buy a lemon or a lime or dates — I buy a lemon, a lime or dates. When I go to the farmers markets in and near San Francisco, I have to choose among 10 different varieties, all grown nearby. It's mind boggling. Even the tofu seems more exotic. It was at one of the farmers markets that I first tried Hodo Soy tofu, and I loved it so much, it really bugged me that it was only available in the Bay Area. Whenever I visited San Francisco, I always had to have some. The Hodo Soy tofu has a texture that is firm, chewy and almost squeaky. It's kind of like fresh cheese curds, if you've ever had those. And the yuba is so good. When I read they had started selling nation-wide, I was so excited. The Whole Foods near my house carries it, though the selection and availability are limited. So far we've only seen the curried tofu nuggets and the spicy yuba noodles, but hey, it's a start!

Hodo Soy Spicy Yuba noodles served with mixed veggies and miso soup.

You might be wondering what yuba is. When a pot of soymilk is heated, a skin forms on the surface. The skin is yuba. The skin is removed, and a new skin is allowed to form. The process is repeated over and over again. The yuba can be used fresh, or it may be frozen or dried. We often buy the dried form rolled up into tubes, which we re-hydrate and cook in soup, especially miso soup. The sheets can be used to make wraps. The Hodosoy Spicy Yuba Noodles are something special. They come in a vacuum pack ready to eat, or add to a dish.

Since last summer, I've been cooking pretty much fat-free, but when using prepared foods or eating out, fat-free doesn't apply. The tofu nuggets are fried, but the fat content doesn't seem terribly high to me and the taste is excellent. We don't eat them very often, but they add a great taste and texture to our dinner when we do.








I've included photos of the box fronts and backs so you can see the ingredients and other information. I hope you can find Hodo Soy products where you live. They are so delicious.



Here's one last image of the Thai curry nuggets served with a homemade curry sauce over rice.

p.s. I was not given free product to write a review. I wrote it because I enjoy Hodo Soy products and wanted to share  information about them.

February 23, 2017

What we've been eating lately



Every time I write a blog post I promise myself I'll write another one in a few days — or at least in a week. But the time just seems pass so quickly, and before I know it, two weeks have slipped by. I haven't stopped eating, I've just stopped thinking about it as much. And because I'm not thinking about it, I'm not taking photos of the food. Sometimes, though, I enjoy a dish I've made so much I can't help but photograph it. Today I'll share a collection of random foods I've managed to both enjoy and remember to photograph.

In my previous post I talked about my new air fryer, and I'm happy to report I'm still using it nearly every day — or more. In addition to lots of other foods, I've made a lot of fries, and have started embellishing them. The fries you see here are smothered in mushroom gravy, and were quite a treat. I've had many variations of the dish and plan to make one with cashew cheese and gravy — a take on poutine.



Yesterday, I made a 'baked' apple in the air fryer. I had already halved and cored the apple to eat when it occurred to me to air fry it. It took about 20 minutes at 390˚. The apple was sweet and sticky on the outside, and tender enough inside to cut with a fork. I added a dab of plum jam to make it look prettier for the photo, but honestly, it looked great the way it was. Tasted great, too.



Here is a dish of pasta with a side of bok choi. The interesting thing about the pasta, which we used to buy from Costco, is it's made from chickpeas. It's very high in protein so you don't really need another protein in your meal. I say "used to buy" because although I liked the pasta a lot when we first started eating it, I started to fall out of love with it after a while. It has a bit of a strong flavor that you either like or don't. Maybe I'll change my mind again, but for now, it's off the table.



We were also enamored with edamame spaghetti — another Costco find.



Seriously, where can you find pasta that has 24 grams of protein per serving. Wouldn't it be fun to answer the next "where do you get your protein?" question by saying, "oh, I get my protein from pasta." We used to love it, then we got tired of it. There's still a large box in the basement (it's from Costco, so quantity is part of the deal), and I'm hoping to start craving it again. Craving might be too strong a word, though.



These are spiced nuts from Kristy Turner's book,  But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan. (I reviewed Kristy's book here, if you want to read more about it.) The nuts are GOOD — sweet and spicy and perfect to have on hand when company is coming. I made this particular batch to take to a snack potluck.



Last but not least, here is what a day's food might look like for my dog. I've mentioned before she's on a special diet for liver failure. She gets a hepatic formula dry food which I mix with veggies to attract her attention. Sometimes there are chickpeas, rice or quinoa. Most of the time, the add-ins are broccoli, peas and pumpkin. Ironically, the hepatic diet is vegetable-based, as she's not supposed to get too much protein, especially animal protein. Her appetite can be erratic, but most days she eats. I've found she prefers a shallow dish rather than a typical dog dish. She's doing extremely well, considering, and you would never guess she's got such a serious problem. She's my baby, and I love her a lot.

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