June 13, 2017

Date Lady coconut caramel sauce

I've mentioned previously that I don't have much of a sweet tooth. My idea of sweet is usually another person's idea of 'not too sweet'. I didn't eat much candy growing up — because I didn't like it. I remember once finding a box of Valentine's Day chocolates I'd been given by a boyfriend, stuffed away into a drawer, a year later. A few of the chocolates were missing, however, because before stashing the box away, I'd searched for, and eaten, the caramel-filled chocolates. Caramel was the one candy I liked. Maybe that's why I like dates so much — they are reminiscent of caramel, and work well for making a vegan, vanilla-spiked caramel sauce, and giving baked goods a hint of caramel flavor. When I was offered a sample jar of Date Lady coconut caramel  sauce, what could I say but yes?

Date Lady's new syrup is not only easy to use and delicious, it's made from natural, organic, GMO-free, gluten-free ingredients. The sauce starts with a base of 67% organic dates and then includes organic coconut cream, organic vanilla extract and baobab powder.



"'From the beginning, we have always wanted to produce a caramel sauce that was made with traditional ingredients and methods,' said Colleen Sundlie, President, Date Lady. 'Our initial Date Lady Caramel Sauce was a top-seller, but we had trouble wrapping our head around the fact that we couldn’t get a detailed ingredient list for the organic flavoring. So, we decided to move forward and take on the challenge of creating new recipes using only food to create rich and creamy flavors.'"


I tried my syrup on a scoop of mint chocolate chip coconut ice cream. The syrup's flavor straight from the jar is rich, dark and delicious, with a velvety taste of coconut cream, but I'm afraid the flavor was a bit overpowered by the sweetness and mintiness of the ice cream. I was wishing I had vanilla ice cream to try instead, but, it's possible ice cream may be too sweet for the syrup to be its best.



I was thinking I needed something more cake-like to really showcase the flavor ... or maybe a waffle. And yes, it was perfect on the waffle, eliciting an enthusiastic "mmmmm" from both my husband and myself. I think it would be excellent drizzled over a bundt cake or on top of a muffin. Any slice of plain cake would be transformed with a bit of Date Lady coconut caramel sauce.

Normally $7.99, the coconut caramel sauce will be featured in a one-day flash sale on June 15 for $5. This would be the perfect time to grab a jar, and enjoy a bit of the luxurious topping. 

DATE LADY COCONUT CARAMEL SAUCE ($8.99, 11OZ. JAR)
100% Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free, Non-GMO
Ingredients: Date syrup, Coconut Cream (coconut, water), Coconut Oil, Vanilla Extract, Baobab Powder, Pectin, Sea Salt

I was given a free jar of coconut caramel sauce for review purposes. I was not paid for my review. All opinions are my own.

June 09, 2017

Everyday Vegetarian, cookbook review and recipe

Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. 
All rights reserved.

I usually only accept vegan cookbooks for review, but I made an exception for Everyday Vegetarian for several reasons. The book, by the editors of Cooking Light, contains more than 150 vegetable-centric dishes using easy-to-find ingredients. Although only 20 percent of the recipes are vegan, most experienced vegans could easily turn a majority of the other recipes vegan by a simple substitution or two — rice syrup instead of honey; plant milk, vegan butter or vegan cheese instead of dairy, etc. The recipes are straightforward, easy to follow, and each recipe is accompanied by an appetizing full-color photo.

So why am I reviewing a vegetarian cookbook? (No, I'm NOT a newly minted ex-vegan. No, no, no — never!) Vegetarianism and veganism seem to be on an upswing right now. More and more restaurants are offering vegan options, and more people than ever are expressing curiosity about plant-based and vegetarian diets. However, even when the interest is present, changing one's diet can seem like an insurmountable task without some sort of gentle introduction. Not everyone wants to be hit over the head with a 'be-vegan-or-else' mandate. Some folks prefer to ease into change more slowly. Lots of vegans, myself included, were vegetarians for a few years before becoming vegan. People give up animal products for different reasons. For some it's for health, others care deeply about reducing animal suffering, some might become plant-based for the environment. Some embrace multiple reasons for dietary change.  I try to accept people at whatever dietary stage they are, and help them move forward, which is why I'm reviewing Everyday Vegetarian; I think it's a great stepping stone to helping people move towards a vegetarian, and hopefully, vegan diet. Or just to add more plant-based meals to the menu.

No matter what their dietary motives are, I'd guess most people want their food to taste great, and that is where Everyday Vegetarian steps in.  Written by the editors of Cooking Light, it brings creative, colorful, delicious vegetarian and vegan cooking expertise into an already popular, mainstream cooking forum. I think it would be an extremely appealing cookbook not just for established vegetarians and vegans, but esprcially for those just starting to incorporate more plant-based choices into their diet. The people who are looking to make plant-centric changes to their diet, no matter how small those changes start out, are the perfect target audience for Everyday Vegetarian. (Note that the cookbook doesn't address food sensitivities so you will have to make your own adjustments to the recipes if you must, or choose to, avoid certain ingredients. I'm used to adjusting recipes for my own dietary needs so this isn't an issue for me, but I wanted to mention it for those who might be interested.) While easy cooking methods and familiar ingredients are emphasized, the authors also encourage readers to be open to trying new ingredients and flavors. For those just venturing into the whole foods, plant-based cooking experience, a description of ingredients and where to find them is helpfully included.

Asian stir-fry quinoa bowl - photo by Andrea

I have to say, I was delighted with the recipes I tried. They were easy, beautiful and delicious. The vegan recipe for Asian stir-fry quinoa bowl was so good, belying its everyday ingredients and simple preparation. It looked and tasted great — I loved it.  The main thing we did differently was cook the tofu in the air fryer — just because we love our air fryer so much, but that's certainly not a requirement for the excellent recipe!

Roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat spaghetti bowl - photo by Andrea

We also tried roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat spaghetti bowl — another seemingly simple vegan recipe with outstanding flavor. As I mentioned earlier, the recipes don't take food sensitivities into account, but if you are used to making adjustments for your own health and taste preferences, it shouldn't be a problem. For example, instead of whole wheat spaghetti, I subbed quinoa spaghetti to accommodate my gluten intolerance. And a sweet pepper was used instead of a chile pepper, because that's what we had. Next time, it will be a chile pepper.

There are so many more recipes I want to try, such as one pot green curry stew with potatoes and cauliflower, black bean cakes with ginger and cilantro cream, whole roasted carrots with black lentils and green harissa, tempeh with charred peppers and kale, etc., etc.

If you are looking to add more plant-based recipes to your diet, Everyday Vegetarian is a cookbook I recommend. If you're already vegetarian or vegan, you'll find lots of wonderful recipes to inspire you.

I have permission from the publisher to share the recipe for roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat spaghetti bowl with you. Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did.

Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. 
All rights reserved.

Roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat 
spaghetti bowl Hands-on: 35 minutes Total: 35 minutes Serves 4

This one-bowl meal is an ideal option for healthy meals on the go; It comes together quickly and can be made ahead. It gets wonderful texture from the chickpeas and cauliflower, nuttiness from the whole-wheat pasta, and rich umami flavor from the miso and tahini. You’ll find the miso paste in the refrigerated produce section and tahini in the international aisle.

  • 1 small head cauliflower, broken into 1-inch florets (about 31/2 cups)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 6 ounces uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
  • ½ cup firmly packed parsley leaves
  • 1 red chile pepper, thinly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Combine the cauliflower, chickpeas, oil, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Spread the mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet; bake at 425°F for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned.
2. Place ¼ cup water, miso, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a mini food processor; process until smooth.
3. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, omitting the fat and salt. Drain. Divide the noodles evenly among 4 bowls. Top evenly with the cauliflower mixture. Drizzle evenly with the miso dressing; top evenly with the parsley and sliced chile. 


Excerpted from Everyday Vegetarian by the editors of Cooking Light. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved. 
..............................................................................................................

EVERYDAY VEGETARIAN: A Delicious Guide for Creating More Than 150 Meatless Dishes by the editors of Cooking Light (Oxmoor House, May 16, 2017, $21.95) was sent to me at no cost. I was not paid for my review. All opinions about the book are my own.

May 25, 2017

Baking experiments etc.



I sat down to write a post about my pizza and bread baking experiments with a few air fryer photos thrown in, but when I went through my last few posts to make sure I wasn't repeating myself, the fry photos attacked me, and I had no choice but to give in and make a batch. At least I know my blog is inspiring somebody, even if it's only me. The fries have a half teaspoon of oil, a sprinkle of coarse salt and too many crushed red peppers. They were delicious, yes, but a little too spicy for me, and now my nose is running. I guess it's a small price to pay for fries-on-demand. I usually make them sans oil but wanted to see if they would be a lot different if I used some. Maybe a little different, but I like them so much plain that I think I'll stick to that method when air frying for myself.



About a month ago I started experimenting again with making gluten-free pizza crust. You can see the results above, topped with mozzarella made from the recipe in Miyoko Schinner's book, The Homeade Vegan Pantry. It was a crust raised with baking powder but not yeast. After I made it I watched a video about applying science to gluten free baking, specifically pizza, and was surprised that I'd added most of the recommended ingredients on my own. I felt so scientific, and intended to take it to the next level, but it never happened. (The ingredients included: Bob's Red Mill GF flour mix, millet flour, coconut flour, psyllium husks, sugar, baking powder, salt, almond flour, flax eggs, water.) Before making the dough, I'd thought about what ingredients I should add, and why I was adding them. The crust was good, but not great. After watching the video, I decided to increase certain ingredients and add additional ones, and now I'm trying to  inspire myself to try it again tonight, so perhaps there will be an update soon. Sadly, I don't have homemade mozzarella, but I'll just make a cheese sauce. The aforementioned video said to make the dough very wet, spread it on a pizza pan, bake it in a slow oven for 45 minutes to dry it out, then let it cool while preheating the oven to 425˚F. Add the toppings and bake about 15 minutes. I'll have to watch the video again, but the long, double baking time might exceed my attention span. Perhaps I will selectively incorporate ideas from the video.



I discovered an interesting thing about the pizza while heating up the leftovers. I used my air fryer to heat the leftover slices, and they improved dramatically — becoming crisp on the bottom and chewy inside, just as they should be. Maybe there is something to that scientific double baking time.

As for the cheese, it takes two days to make the mozzarella, but once the ingredients are mixed and cooked, it practically makes itself. Most of the time is just waiting for the cheese to ripen. The recipe is called oil-free melty "mozzarella," and I made the sauerkraut juice version. I recommend it, but would probably make the Rejuvelac version next time.



In addition to making pizza with the homemade mozzarella, I also made a vegan version of poutine. I've never actually had poutine made with cheese curds and gravy, so I can't speak to how my version compares, but I can tell you, with mushroom gravy and mozzarella, it was damn fine (as Agent Cooper would say). I swear, if my air fryer ever breaks, I will immediately replace it.


Along with my pizza trials, I revisited the buckwheat-millet nut-and-seed bread that has appeared on the blog periodically — here, here, and here. I've slowly been making changes to the recipe, and when I'm satisfied, I'll post a revised version. The original, unyeasted, naturally leavened loaf is still delicious, but I've been working on a yeasted version in an attempt to make the texture lighter. My husband recently had some dental work done that requires him not to eat nuts or seeds for a month, so the bread is on hold for a couple more weeks. I can't eat the whole loaf by myself.



Here are a few more random dishes made with the aid of the air fryer. (Baking in the oven or frying in a pan are alternatives to the air fryer.) When I air fry tofu, I find it most efficient to cut the tofu into strips, then cube it after it's done. So here's what it looks like before I turn it into a recipe. (It takes a lot of will power to not just eat it as is.)



Fancier-than-usual miso soup, or any miso soup, is always welcome at our house. I love to add air fried tofu to miso soup.



Vegetables and (air fried) tofu with peanut sauce is a fast option when we're too tired or lazy to think of something new for dinner. My husband found a recipe called almost instant peanut sauce on the Forks Over Knives Web site that was surprisingly delicious, and turned a simple dish into a wonderfully satisfying meal.

My dog is patiently waiting for me to take her for a walk, so I'm going to conclude my post here. I'm working on a cookbook review, and a new product review which I hope to finish soon. 

April 29, 2017

Braised greens with tofu, cashews and raisins, with polenta



I tend to try a recipe, love it, and never make it again. If my husband, on the other hand, tries a recipe and likes it, he makes it again and again until neither of us can stand the sight of it. That's what happened to the recipe I'm sharing today, twice, but he made it recently and, unsuspecting, I tasted it and said, "this is delicious, what is it?"

It seemed vaguely familiar, and turned out to be a recipe I had posted back in 2008, and again in 2012. With some minor changes to the ingredients, I'm re-posting it again since we enjoyed it so much. I want to occasionally share some of the older recipes that have become buried in the archives, and this one deserves another look.

Braised greens with tofu, cashews and raisins, served over polenta (serves 2 to 3 adults)
 
The polenta

The polenta is based on a recipe from Passionate Vegetarian, by Crescent Dragonwagon. The author says it's an old Tuscan peasant recipe.
  • 1 cup course grind cornmeal (our co-op sells a bulk coarse grind labeled "polenta")
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes (not brewers yeast powder), optional but recommended
  1. Oil a 3 quart oven-proof skillet or dish. Put all ingredients in the dish and mix together casually.
  2. Put the dish, uncovered, in a pre-heated 350˚ oven. Bake for 40 minutes, undisturbed. After 40 minutes, stir and bake 10 more minutes, if needed. Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes. Creamy, dreamy, heartwarming polenta. Mmm.
I always make the polenta in a 3 1/2 quart enameled cast iron casserole pan from Le Creuset. It's one of three pieces of the cookware I own, and it gets used nearly every day. Because the pan isn't supposed to go directly from cold to hot, I put the polenta in the oven when I turn it on to pre-heat, and start the timer when the oven reaches the correct temperature. Lately, I've been making the polenta in my Instant Pot, but if you don't have an Instant Pot, the oven method is foolproof and easy.

the braised greens with tofu, cashews and raisins

Based on a recipe that I think was from the NY Times, but I'm not sure. The inspiration may have come from Parade Magazine.

  • 1 pound collard greens (I used a large bunch - no idea what it weighed) (or you can use kale, which was in the original version of the recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or low sodium veg broth
  • 1/2 pound extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (one slice of bread should be about right- use gluten-free bread if desired)
  • 1/4 cup raisins (I use dried cranberries when making this dish for a certain raisin-hater)
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (shiitake are recommended)
  • one good sized carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon natural sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (unseasoned)
  • salt to taste, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Wash greens, remove any thick stems, coarsely chop and set aside the leaves.
  2. Place the tofu cubes in a small bowl and drizzle with one teaspoon tamari. Toss to coat all the cubes. Let sit five minutes.
  3. Heat one tablespoon oil in wok or skillet. Add the tofu cubes and cook over high heat until browned.*
  4. Turn the heat down. Add the mushrooms, cashews and bread crumbs and sauté until they are lightly browned. Stir in the raisins. Remove mixture from pan and set aside.
  5. Add the other tablespoon of oil to pan, add the shredded carrot, increase heat to high and add the greens. Stir to mix, then cover and cook about three minutes until the greens have wilted but are still bright green. (Be careful not to burn them.)
  6. Reduce heat, stir in sugar and vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the tofu mixture. Spread over polenta and serve.
Sometimes I spread the polenta on a large serving platter and arrange the veggies 'decoratively' on top. You can garnish with parsley and olives if desired.

*I used my air fryer to fry the tofu without oil. I let the tofu cook while I prepared and cooked the rest of the dish, and added it at the end. The tofu takes about 20 to 30 minutes in the air fryer. Low sodium vegetable stock was used to sauté the veggies.

The whole vegetable part takes about 15-20 minutes including prep time, so plan accordingly so you can have the veggies and polenta finish cooking about the same time.

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 my 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.

February 09, 2017

My air fryer — What? I bought an air fryer?

Fries made from yukon gold potatoes.

I've been bested in my latest battle against the acquisition of new kitchen appliances by the powerful, almighty, fabulous-bargain-price, one-day-only-sale monster. I encountered the monster on a Facebook group for vegan air fryer enthusiasts, so what did I expect? I was there of my own free will, reading about other people's air frying fun, when the price notice popped up. And, I might add, I was conversant with the various models and their usual prices because I'd been researching them, just out of curiosity, you know. I didn't plan to actually buy one just then, but the one-day-only price appeared, and before I could stop myself I went to the Web page and clicked 'buy'. In the photo above you can see the first thing I made — oil-free fries. I ate them all myself, and, yes, they were good.  Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I seasoned them with granulated garlic, granulated onion and Old Bay Seasoning before I air-fried them.

Russet potatoes.

I've done lots of potato things, including crinkle cuts and wedges, and used different varieties of potatoes, and preparations. I've tried coating them with potato starch, pre-cooking them, etc., and have liked them all. Sometimes I have fries for breakfast.



The easiest thing is just to wash the potato, cut it into wedges and throw it into the air fryer. No matter what I do, the result is always delicious. One day I cut thin slices and made potato chips, but I ate them so fast I didn't have a chance to photograph them.

Russet potato.

My favorite potato to use is a russet, and a hefty russet like you see here (hand for scale :D) will make enough wedges or fries for three normal people or two greedy ones. (Or one incredibly greedy person.)



Although it's true I've eaten more potatoes lately than usual, I've also made a few other things in my air fryer. Like fried tofu cubes, for example. Here are some cubes I made to use in miso soup.



I've gotten much better at air-frying tofu since taking the photos here, and have started cutting the tofu into strips instead of cubes — I find it easier to cube it after it's done. And I'm frying it longer so it puffs up and becomes more crispy. I don't have any photos of my more recent efforts.



Here's a tofu experiment I did using three different coatings, but unfortunately, I neglected to write anything down, and now I've forgotten. It doesn't really matter though since everything I've tried has worked well, and most of the time I just air fry the tofu plain to use in other recipes.

Fries from garnet yams.

Sweet potato fries turned out great in the air fryer, and again, I didn't use oil. We gobbled these beauties up, and I was wishing I had more.

Carrots.

I did a little experiment with skinny carrots where I marinated them in tamari, a touch of maple syrup, liquid smoke and sriracha, before air frying them. They were tasty but I doubt I'll make them again. I also did tempeh strips with a homemade barbecue sauce. They came out a bit too dry, and I may try steaming the tempeh first, next time. We usually steam it before cooking but I was in a hurry.

Leftover pasta and tempeh.

I've also been using the air fryer to quickly reheat leftovers. I used it to reheat leftover pasta with tempeh chunks, and it tasted better than the original dish. The tempeh developed a nice crispy edge. It does an amazing job on leftover pizza. The pizza crust had a fabulous texture after its turn in the air fryer — better than at the restaurant! And I made onion rings!



This is my latest experiment — spring rolls stuffed with an egg roll filling of cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and air fried tofu. I would say it's a dish in progress —  I see great potential but it's not quite there yet.



This is my air fryer. If you're not familiar with air fryers, they cook with moving hot air similar to a convection oven. They achieve results comparable to deep fat frying but with little or no oil. Some people use a small amount of oil and others use none, depending on preference. If you use no oil, the food won't come out tasting like it's coated in grease, but it will be crispy and delicious.

I'm having great fun experimenting with my fryer, and am glad I bought it, but I'm still trying to figure out where to keep it. Right now it's on the counter where the Cuisinart food processor used to be, while I wait for my recalled processor blade replacement to arrive.* Once the food processor is reinstated to its usual spot, I'll have to figure something out. Unless ... the food processor moves to a new location. Hmmm. Hadn't thought of that. The food processor is a lot smaller.



Here's the inside cooking basket. It looks larger in the photo than it actually is. The machine itself is a bit bulky, but the cooking basket is only about seven inches square. I like the Phillips, which gets good ratings but is expensive (unless, you know, there's a one-day-only special) because it has a metal cooking basket rather than non-stick. If I'm cooking something sticky, like tofu, I use parchment paper. Another air fryer that is popular is the GoWise. But, there are lots — and the prices are coming down.



Anyway, there are many more people who know much more than I do about air fryers, and I can point you to them if you're interested. I'm a novice. One thing I do know, though, is while I was putting together the blog post, I got a strong craving for fries, and as you can see in the photo, they're ready. Got to go now.


* Cuisinart food processor blade recall

Cuisinart issued a recall for the blades in certain processor models because slivers of the metal can break off and become embedded in food. People have suffered injuries due to ingesting the metal. If you haven't yet checked to see if you have one of the recalled models, you should!



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