Tag Archives: Vegan

Yummy Summer Pea Soup

The question, “what’s in the broth?” could be asked in any number of tones of voice in my household these days. Sometimes it is laced with the suspicious nervousness of a wary eight year old. At other times, like tonight when I served this amazing soup for dinner, it’s a different tone–one that I get occasionally–the “is this really vegan?” tone of voice. I prefer the last one because it usually means I’ve made something that tastes so good it doesn’t matter to the concerned party that it actually is really vegan. The ‘cream cheese’ frosting I made last week, for example, had my eight year old asking whether or not it was vegan. I told him if he had to ask, he must have liked it. He looked at me funny and finished the cake without pushing the point.

So here is another really delicious recipe, pretty much just made up from experience and what I felt like doing on the fly.

Ingredients:
Peas (3 cups after shelling)
two large leeks, white part only, minced
one yellow onion, minced
two large shallots, minced
three cubes Rapunzel broth cubes
Water
Salt and pepper to taste

No, really. That’s it.

Using a non-stick stock pot, place the onions, leek, and shallot into the pot with cup of water or so. Cover and steam them until they are soft. Watch carefully and allow the onions to begin to brown and stick just a little bit–but stop them from burning. Just as they are getting brown, pour in another cup of water and de-glaze the pan. Put the broth cubes into the pan and mush up with the onions until they are dissolved. Add six cups more water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let the broth simmer for about half an hour. Meanwhile, shell the peas. Once the broth has simmered, use an immersion blender to puree any bits of onion that haven’t dissolved into the broth. Put the soup back on the stove and add the peas. Cook for three or four minutes, but not so long the peas get mushy. I like it when the peas sort of still go pop in my mouth when I bite down on them. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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The Best Ever Summer Salad

The smell of garlic, herbs and summery freshness fill the room.

Bill first found this recipe in Christopher Kimball’s Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook. I take no credit for the yumminess to be found other than that I actually do all the shopping and chopping. One of the things that I love about this salad is it’s “naturally vegan.” What I mean is, it is in a traditional cookbook and needs absolutely no modification. It’s very approachable by people who are wary of things with the big “V” attached to it. I tend to shy away from “fake meats” and can totally relate to being rather suspicious of what is in something if it doesn’t have what I am used to.

After three weeks away with limited fresh vegetables to be found, I jumped at the chance to make this for a potluck we are going to this evening. It’s hard to beat the smell of freshly snipped oregano from the garden with garlic, lemon, and fresh veggies.

The basic ingredients are four cups beans (any variety of legume will do), two tablespoons onion, three chopped scallions (or some chives), chopped parsley and two ribs celery. These get mixed with two tablespoons lemon juice. I’ll note that I don’t follow the exact proportions all that closely. It’s just a salad, so almost any combo of good stuff is going to taste great.

Kimball lists a large number of “optional ingredients.” This is, in my mind a “what do you have in the fridge/garden” sort of decision. Today, we have cucumber, corn, cherry tomatoes, and green beans (cut and cooked until just tender.) I think almost any veggie will work here except I’d caution against mushrooms. I tried that once and they got slimy on the second day. And trust me, this salad is all about the second day. I hope there are leftovers tonight!

The dressing starts with three tablespoons red vinegar, whisked with a 1/4 teaspoon salt and fresh black pepper. Whisk it up and add in two tablespoons (fresh, not dried) tarragon, two tablespoons (fresh, not dried) oregano chopped together with two cloves garlic. Add that to the vinegar with a tablespoon dijon mustard and whisk in 1/2 cup to 3/4 olive oil until it’s thick and creamy. Toss the salad with the dressing and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Stir it around every hour or so to bring the dressing back up to the top. Just before serving, taste to see if you want more lemon, salt and pepper. Beans very with how well they take up the flavor, so this last step can make a difference.

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Veg in Ireland

Maybe it was the clearly labeled gluten- free oatmeal on the shelf as we walked into The Phoenix B&B near Castlemaine, or perhaps it was the delicious savory smell of veggies simmering in garlic, or it could have been the Lazure-like paint on the walls that made this place feel like home away from home, but it was clear from the moment we arrived that we would have no problem finding healthy eating options for all our various diets.

My husband and son are committed omnivores, my daughter is happiest wheat and dairy free, I prefer a low-fat high fiber vegan diet, and our adopted-for-the-week teen is a dedicated vegan. Let’s just say I have felt as though I have given a number of the waitresses a thorough interview about the detailed contents of their menu options.

The Phoenix Restaurant bills itself as a seafood and vegetarian restaurant with accommodations. When booking their rooms for three nights, I looked at the menu, saw three obviously vegan options and knew we’d have three nights at least of easy eating. We weren’t disappointed. And it was easy because they knew veg-speak. The question “Is it vegan?” didn’t need any explanation. (The flyer for a Camphill festival made it abundantly clear there was a Waldorf connection–as If the food and decor weren’t enough.)

I’ve opted to be vegan-leaning without too many worries about eating vegetarian instead or even meat–I am on vacation after all. I have to admit the warm chicken and chorizo salad I shared with my daughter the other night was delicious. There have been eggs at breakfast, but I’ve passed up the sausage and ham options.

We’ve found an organic or “whole foods” type store in several places to ask where we can find a soy latte, and the tourist offices are very helpful in pointing out places that are most likely to have veg options. The hostess here in Killybegs happened to have soy milk in her fridge. We found hummus and pita at the local market, and there’s always fruit available.

The photo below is my delicious potato with beans and veggies with salad at the Stonechat in Killarney.

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Another Yummy Cookie

It would be completely wrong of me to take any credit for this delicious cookie, other than the fact that I chose a good recipe. I posted about this cookie on Facebook, and a few people asked for the recipe, so I figured I’d toss it into a blog post. I know, I post a lot of things about food. It’s a passion of mine. Cooking and eating are two of my greatest pleasures in life. Even though I’ve switched to a primarily plant-based diet, I’m not at 100% simply because it would reduce my ability to be flexible when I am with others who don’t eat with such restrictions.

The recipe that follows is basically straight out of Veganomicon, except that what I’m putting here is the quantity I used to make a larger batch. I tripled the recipe to make enough for two different potluck gatherings. They are wheat free, and if you buy GF oatmeal and grind it yourself, you are going to have a bona-fide GF Vegan cookie on your hands.

22oz bob’s red mill oat flour (one whole bag)
1 1/2 tsp soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c canola oil
3 tbsp ground flax seed
3/4 cup soy milk (almond or rice would work, too)
1 tbsp vanilla
3 c chocolate chips or so…

Pre -heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Sift dry ingredients together.
Emulsify flax, soy, sugars oils and vanilla until thick. Add to dry ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips and drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets. The recipe called for ungreased sheets, but I always use parchment paper anyway. Bake 10-12 minutes. They will look a little shiny and crackly when done.

The end result is a delicate, oaty, nutty, cookie that is simple yet very tasty. My husband is still a bit wary of baked vegan items. He’s been pretty good about “regularly vegan” things–that is stuff that I make that doesn’t have stuff that ‘pretends to be meat’ in it. When he tried these cookies, he declared them more than edible and ate his fair share.

They were very good the first two days. By the third day, they were beginning to show signs of being chewy-hard rather than delicately crispy. If you don’t plan on sharing them, you might consider doing a third the recipe I’m including–which would reflect the original.

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Tofu Conundrum Solved

Low Mein with Tofu

One of our favorite Chinese dishes has been something called “Dried Tofu with Pork,” and another dish our now defunct restaurant called “Delicate Chicken.” This latter was code that the waitress used mostly for just us as the dish was only offered in the Chinese portion of the menu. We often do the “look and see what people are getting and ask for it” trick and have ended up with all sorts of wonderful and interesting things not on the English menus. When we asked for a translation the waitress looked at the 20 or so characters of Chinese, paused and made up the name for us on the spot. It was a delicious dish with the strips of hearty and chewy tofu, chicken, bright green edamame, mixed veggies and some hot pepper. Ever since, I’ve tried all sorts of tofu found at our regular stores, but nothing has held up to the chew of the stuff from the restaurants.

The packaging

The Unopened Package

Just Monday, I found myself at the Renton Uwajimaya, our local Asian chain store, and remembered to look for the tofu. After going through the regular tofu section and finding plenty of beautiful bean curd in all firmnesses as well as the brands I see at PCC, I decided to ask someone in the store for help. The first clerk seemed clueless, but she asked someone else who appeared to understand what I was talking about. She called it “Taiwanese style stew curd.” I followed her to the refrigerated Kim Chee and pickle section. She picked up a package and frowned a little saying there were other brands at the store in Seattle, but she thought this was what I was looking for. I eagerly brought it home for Tuesday’s dinner.

So here’s what I made with the Stew Bean Curd.

Dave’s Low Mein, Adapted (Vegan and Gluten Free)

One package Seaweed Noodles
four carrots–sliced into tiny matchstick pieces
one large onion–sliced into thin half rounds
six stalks celery–sliced thin
a half cup or so cloud ear mushrooms, before re-hydrating
one package edamame–par boiled
1/4 slivered almonds, toasted
one package stew bean curd–cut into matchstick slices
1/4 C Hoisin Sauce
1/4 C brown bean sauce
4 cloves garlic–I use a press, mincing is fine too
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil for frying (I use peanut, but canola would be okay, too)

The tofu cut into matchstick pieces.

Get all the veggies chopped and place in one bowl. (If you have bok choy or other cabbage like veggie, it would be fine to add that in as well). Mix the Hoisin, brown bean, garlic, soy, rice vinegar, sesame oil, water and sugar together in a bowl. Prep the seaweed noodles (or you can use soba, whole wheat, or rice noodles–just cook so they won’t be mushy after being reheated.) by soaking in warm water and cutting with scissors, drain in colander.

Place the bowls next to the stove with the veggies first, the sauce next, then the edamame, tofu and noodles.

Heat a wok to high and add the oil. When the oil is hot, toss in all the veggies and stir fry until they are coated in the oil. Once they are fully coated, turn down the heat and cover with lid. Stir regularly until they are soft and wilted. Watch closely so they don’t burn. When the veggies are how you like them, add the sauce and bring to a boil by increasing the heat. Add the edamame and let it cook a minute. Add the tofu, let it cook another minute. Add the noodles and stir fry on high until they are covered in the sauce and everything is evenly distributed. Put on a platter and garnish with the almonds. If you don’t have almonds, don’t make the dish. Well, go ahead, but that little crunch is truly the kicker.

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2/3 Vegan

In my previous post about Lizard Spit, I give the general history of my diabetes and a look at the latest treatment I am using. Months later, I was finding my blood sugar manageable and under control. Even so, in November my eye was drawn to the book at the left as I perused the aisles of my Whole Foods Market. People in the Vegan world usually recognize Neal Barnard. He’s been on the “pro-vegan” scene for more than twenty years, and he’s written a bunch of books on why eating vegan is healthy.

I bought it out of curiosity and on a whim, buffered a little by hope. Frankly, as much as I am relieved that the Lizard Spit and Metformin combo I’m taken seem to be doing their job, I’d be more than happy to not have to carry the medicine around in a cooled packet or inject myself twice a day. In fact, if I could, by diet and exercise alone, actually maintain decent blood sugars, I would.

While reading Barnard’s Reversing Diabetes, almost everything I had been taught about how to eat with diabetes was turned on its head. I was completely and totally skeptical, even in the face of clinical studies that clearly show patients with reduced Ha1Cs after following a vegan diet. Add to it that he’s someone that Oprah has given a thumbs up to and my skeptometer was beeping wildly.

Teriyaki Tofu on Toast with Goddess Dressing and Arugula...Mmmmmm...

The idea of being vegan is one that I’ve found…distasteful. Literally. I LIKE the flavor of meat. I love ribs. BBQ. Ham. Turkey. Chicken. Give me a burger with bacon and cheese and my mouth is a happy mouth. Eggs? Yes! Ice Cream? Love it. Cheese? Puhllllleeeeease, yes.

Still. He’s done three studies with a statistically significant number of patients. And, the numbers are impressive. Can you hear my longing sigh? The one that says, “I wish I could just ignore all of this and continue to just…the things I like!”

I had to see what would happen if I actually started eating the kind of diet that Dr. Barnard recommends. So I started with going Vegan…sort of. Here’s what I mean by that. I’ve gotten it 2/3 of the way there–my breakfasts and lunches have been vegan since the end of November. I’d say fully a half of my dinners have been as well. The youngest is less than thrilled with this arrangement, but everyone else seems to be okay with it so far. Almost everything I’ve tried has been really, really good.

Oh…and my blood sugars have plummeted. Like. A. Rock.

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