Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Heeding warnings of cold temperatures, we harvested all the remaining frost-vulnerable items from our little backyard garden, including a bunch of green tomatoes. When I was a kid, we would put all our green tomatoes in paper grocery sacks in the basement and they would slowly ripen. I am more likely to turn these into fried green tomatoes.
There are a number of different fried green tomoato philosophies. Lately, I have seen many FGTs that are completely encased in a cornmeal crust. Beyond the fact that these are likely to involve eggs (and thus be non-vegan), such a complete shell is contrary to the way I learned to make them. (I am equally opposed to encased okra.)
To make fried green tomatoes, my way, do this: Slice tomatoes, and toss with a mix of equal parts flour and cornmeal, with some salt and pepper. You can add other seasonings, and I often go for thyme and cayenne. Fry in a hot cast iron skillet with a thin layer of oil, until well-browned on each side.
I would be tempted to make a green tomato pie, but we have been very over-sugared of late (tester cookies and a delicious pear crisp from The Joy of Vegan Baking). If you are interested, most traditional green tomato pie recipes are easy to veganize, requiring only a substitution of vegan margarine or oil for butter - for example, this recipe looks very similar to that made by relatives of mine.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Burke has traced a complicated spiritual pilgrimage, as can be seen in his autobiography. At the time that this cookbook was published, he headed an independent sacramental christian community called the Gnostic Orthodox Church, apparently now defunct. Burke's Hindu influences (esp. Paramahansa Yogananda and Anandamayi Ma) have been important throughout his adult life. He and his community now follow a Hindu path as the Atma Jyoti Ashram. Today, Burke is known as Swami Nirmalananda Giri.
Simply Heavenly! is an unfortunate casualty of the transitions in Burke's community, and has been out of print for some years. It remains one of my favorite cookbooks, and I use it frequently. I have made Burke's recipe for Anadama Bread at least a zillion times. Thanks to Burke, I own (and love) a steam juicer which makes truly excellent broth, among other uses.
When I have leftovers that need repackaging, or random items that need using (tonight: some leftover chicken-style seitan, chopped up in a skillet with a little red bell pepper and bbq sauce), I often turn to his formula for "Square Meals" - an Americanized relative of the pierogi and the calzone. He provides a number of recipes for fillings, but you can use whatever you have. He also gives a separate recipe for a sweet dough, and a number of sweet fillings. As the book is out of print, and used copies are often hard to find and pricey, I will give you the basic recipe for savory square meals:
2 T yeast
1 c. warm water
1 t. unrefined sugar
3 T. vegetable oil
3 c. flour (white or whole wheat or a mixture)
1 1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
1/2 t. onion powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
Mix yeast, water, and sugar, and let stand 10 minutes. (I don't find this waiting necessary, and usually proceed with the recipe without waiting for the yeast to proof. Your mileage may vary.) Whisk in the oil. Sift the dry ingredients together and slowly add to the wet. When well-combined, turn the dough out on the counter, and knead for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball. Roll out until approximately 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into 4 inch squares. Moisten all four edges of a square with water, and then put 1/3 cup of your chosen filling in the center. Fold in the corners toward the center (like folding an envelope). Pinch the center and the seams carefully to be sure they are sealed. Place on lightly greased baking sheet (or parchment, as in my photo), seam side down. Prick the top with a fork several times. You can brush the tops with oil or vegan milk if you want. Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes. These freeze well and make great work lunches.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Even the quickest glance at this blog will demonstrate that we don't follow Brazier's diet recommendations with any great strictness. Nonetheless, we consume his smoothies very frequently for breakfast (ginger-pear in the photo above), and we also like his nutrition bar recipes (easy and better than any of the commercial ones). We haven't gotten too far beyond smoothies and bars, but I hope to do so, soon. He has some intriguing pizza recipes that beg to be made!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I had some eggplant that needed to be used, so I pulled down The Festive Fast: Greek Meatless Cooking in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition by Marigoula Kokkinou & Georgia Kofinas, a consistently reliable source of good ideas. I messed around with their "Baked Eggplant with Walnuts" recipe, altering it enough that I don't mind giving you the details of what I did:
Preheat oven to 400. Wash 1 lb eggplant, trim off ends, and slice lengthwise into thin slices. (As my eggplant were young and organic, I did not peel them. In retrospect, I suggest using 2 lbs of eggplant, as the recipe makes plenty of topping.) Drop the eggplant slices into boiling salted water for only 2-3 minutes, and then drain. Place them in a casserole dish, and sprinkle with salt and smoked paprika to taste. Pour a little olive oil over the eggplant, add about 1/3 cup of all purpose flour (or 2/3 if using the larger eggplant amount), and toss until combined. Bake for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put 7 oz walnuts in the food processor with 4 cloves of garlic, 4 T red wine vinegar, and about 2-3 T water, and process until you have a thick paste. (To make it easy to peel multiple cloves of garlic, gather them on the counter, and give them a good smack with the back of a cast iron skillet to loosen their dry outer skins.) Spread the walnut paste over the top of the eggplant casserole, lower the oven temperature to 350, and bake for 20 more minutes. Enjoy!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
If you grew up here, you have surely had Hot Chicken in the wee hours of the morning. Most of the establishments which serve it (including Prince's, the originator) stay open all night. It is a food that seems most compelling when one's judgment is impaired by alcohol or other substances. I've had it in my head to veganize this, and last night was my first try. I'm quite pleased with the results. With a little fine-tuning, I may enter a vegan version in next summer's Music City Hot Chicken Festival. You can still set yourself on fire with no animal cruelty and no cholesterol!
Non-Nashville people, in order to understand Hot Chicken, you need to watch this film. Sorry for all the meat in it, but it's a very well done film and will teach you what you need to know. Once you have educated yourself about the subject in general, here's how to make your own vegan version at home:
First you need vegan meat. I made Joanna's Chicken-Style Seitan Cutlets, which worked well. You want your vegan meat and your breading to be very plain. You will be adding enough flavor in due course. (There is at least one place in town that marinates the meat in hot pepper sauce before frying, but that is insane overkill.) Joanna's cutlets are quite thin when made as directed, which results in a high breading-to-gluten ratio. If you are going to make your Hot Gluten really really hotttt, you may want a more substantial cutlet to help balance it. You could make a thicker version of Joanna's recipe, or go with something like the DEOTS chicken-style seitan, or the Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon, or even steamed tempeh.
Once you have your vegan meat, dredge it in self-rising flour. (If you don't have self-rising, you can add 1 1/2 t baking powder and 1/2 t salt to a cup of all purpose flour.) Don't go adding seasoning to the flour - plain, plain, plain. Heat up some oil in a cast iron Dutch oven and fry away. You will see mine above. When done, put the fried gluten on a brown paper sack to drain.
Here comes the hot part. You need a hot pepper paste, which you can make in advance. I tried two versions. First, I veganized this year's winning recipe, by simply subbing vegan shortening for the lard. Then, on impulse, I made a second paste out of 3 T Indian chili powder (which is mostly ground red peppers), 1 T + 1 t coconut oil, 1/2 t salt, and 1/2 t unrefined sugar. The second paste did not taste Indian or coconutty at all. It still delivered the same knockout blow as the cayenne paste, but with a little more grace. See photo above.
Put on gloves. While the fried gluten is still hot, gently rub on the desired amount of paste. Fingertip action works well. You don't want to break the breading. Try to be very even - no remaining globs of paste (as such a glob would kill you if you suddenly met it in your mouth). Use much less than you think you need to. Traditionally, you want the whole thing to be dark red, and this happens pretty quickly, even with a very light application. Warning: Even "Mild" hot chik'n is "Hot" by any other standard.
Place your Hot Gluten on a couple of pieces of bread. We used french bread as that is what we had, but that is an outrageous heresy. Spongy nutrition-free white bread of the Wonder Bread / Bunny Bread sort is traditional. After applying hot paste to the first side of the gluten, you can flip it onto the bread to work on the second side, so that some of the hot red greasiness of the first side runs into the bread. Finally, throw a few slices of cucumber pickle on top. Some people go for a spicy pickle, but that's c.r.a.z.y. Regular pickles will be fine. There is a contingent that believes in mayo, so feel free to apply a little Vegenaise if you see fit. I didn't get a photo of our assembled Hot Gluten - it was (appropriately) late and it went fast!
Enjoy carefully, and with respect. As Ms Andre says in the film, "It's a cleansing, and we need it."
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I enjoy recipe testing for cookbook authors. I wind up trying recipes that I would not have picked out of the published book. I also learn new tricks and techniques. Thanks to all my cookbook- and cookzine-writing friends for the opportunity!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I was so delighted to open The New York Times food section on-line today, and find an article on Bluegrass Soy Sauce, a small-batch soy sauce made in Kentucky. Go read about it, and buy yourself some. It's really good stuff. PS... the company also makes bourbon smoked paprika...
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
We are halfway through the Vegan Month of Food!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
The Vegan Month of Food continues. As people seemed to like the SDA post, here's another chapter of the veg story:
Like all organzations, the TS has had its splits over the years. One of the most important schisms was the exit of Rudolf Steiner and a large part of the German Section in 1913. Steiner and his students then founded the Anthroposophical Society. Steiner is perhaps best known for his central role in the origins of Waldorf education and Biodynamic agriculture. Much like Blavatsky, he often recommended vegetarianism to his students, but did not require it. (See his lectures collected as Nutrition and Stimulants, Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Assoc., 1991) Steiner gave some interesting indications to bakers which are included in the Nutrition and Stimulants volume. You can find a (veganizable) bread recipe worked out from Steiner's guidance here. The Waldorf and Biodynamic movements have produced a number of books on food and cooking, few of which are strictly vegetarian, but most of which are veg-friendly. The books of Wendy Cook are a good example, and one might note the forthcoming lacto-vegetarian cookbook by Hermann Spindler.
To give only one more example, travelers to southern California may have encountered the Rosicrucian Fellowship's beautiful headquarters in Oceanside (between San Diego and Los Angeles), complete with a vegetarian cafe. This organization was founded in 1909 by a former Theosophist named Max Heindel, who also had connections to Rudolf Steiner. Heindel's organization promotes vegetarianism and publishes a couple of veg cookbooks.
The world of late 19th / early 20th century occultism can be a strange one indeed, especially to the newcomer. Regardless of one's evaluation of these organizations and their teachings, we owe them a debt of gratitude for promoting a veg*n diet for ethical and spiritual reasons, long before it became fashionable.
I am headed to Asheville later today. If I can get internet access, I'll post from there. Otherwise, MoFo posting will return on Monday.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I had leftover taco fillings (refried beans, corn relish, spinach, taco-spiced soy curls) from the other night, and lots of masa, so I decided to try my hand at pupusas. I love to order this wonderful Salvadoran food at Las Americas - they will make me a vegetarian-beans-only pupusa, and they are really nice about it. There is at least one other place nearby that makes them (Delicias Mary Chuy Restaurant) but I have not strayed from Las Americas.
There are apparently many ways to make a pupusa. After some internet research and watching the guys at Las Americas, here is what I did:
1. Mix masa harina with hot water from the tap until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Let rest for 30 minutes or more.
2. Pick up a golf-ball sized lump of masa, and hollow it out to make a cup. Put filling down in the cup, pull the sides around as far as you can, and then place a cap of masa on top to seal it.
3. Roll the ball around in your hands until it is smooth and sealed. Then gently flatten until it is 1/4 inch thick or a little more. If it breaks around the edge or filling pops through, just repair the best you can, and keep going. No worries - imperfections won't hurt. I found it easier to do most of the flattening in my hand and then finish on a plate.
4. Place in a hot skillet and fry on both sides until done. A dry skillet was recommended in a number of sources, but I saw someone on YouTube use just a wee bit of oil, so I did that. I think it was a good idea.
5. Eat! Tomato salsa and a cabbage/carrot slaw are the usual sides. We had the salsa but not the slaw, because I am lazy. You need the tomato salsa to point up the flavor, especially if the fillings are mild. When I make these again, I think I'll experiment with adding a little salt and/or seasonings to the masa.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Hopefully, I will get to the tortillas tonight, but I doubt I will have time to finish the blog post until tomorrow. Thus, I bring you this filler post to keep the MoFo going:
When you go veg*n, your pantry begins to morph, with previously unknown ingredients becoming staples. Here are four homemade mixtures which I cannot live without:
1. Vegan Parmesan from Joanna Vaught's Yellow Rose Recipes. Quite simply the best - and so easy! I always make a double batch. Don't bother buying the crap from the health food store. It is incredible on pasta - and udon noodles!
2. Country-Style Seasoning from The Country Life Vegetarian Cookbook. This is a delicious noochy-herby seasoning mix that is great in gravies and anything savory. I find myself throwing it in everything. Sometimes I rub it on vegetables (e.g. summer squash) with a little olive oil and roast them in the oven.
3. Bryanna's chicken-style broth powder. If you detect a nutritional yeast theme in this post, you might be right. The broth powder is so handy for last minute soups.
4. The American Heart Association's salt-free herb mix. I found this recipe over 20 years ago in Jane Brody's Good Food Book and have kept a jar of it in my pantry ever since. As the AHA has distributed this recipe widely, and it is posted all over the internet, I don't feel reserved about giving it to you here. Obviously, all the herbs are dried:
1 T. garlic powder
1 t. basil
1 t. thyme
1 t. parsley
1 t. savory
1 t. mace
1 t. onion powder
1 t. black pepper
1 t. sage
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
Put everything in your blender, and grind until uniform and well-combined.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
My favorite Michealmas food is struan, a mixed-grain bread originally from Scotland. We make it every year, but I ran out of time last weekend, and had to postpone for a few days. In some places, the celebration of Michaelmas runs past the day itself, for a week or even a month. Thus, I'll say that for my baking purposes, we are still in Michaelmas season.
The baker and cookbook author Peter Reinhart is responsible for reviving struan within the larger baking community. For many years at Michaelmas, I have made the recipe he gives in Brother Juniper's Bread Book - more recently in my own veganized form. The original recipe is posted all over the internet if you search for it, but the book is well worth buying. I have had it since its release in 1991, and it remains one of my favorite bread books - thoroughly stained and marked up. In Peter's recent whole grains bread book, he gives a 100% whole grain version of struan, but I have not tried it yet. (However, everything I have made from the new book has been fabulous.)
Struan was originally made with the products of the local harvest. Thus, I like to use some local items like sorghum molasses and grits in my version. I have also veganized Peter's recipe, which calls for buttermilk, honey, and an egg wash. Even if Michaelmas is not part of your cultural or religious traditions, I encourage you to try struan. It is a wonderful autumn bread, and makes the best toast on earth. You can find ways to incorporate ingredients from the local harvest of your bioregion - grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, syrups, etc. To get you started, here is my version:
7 c. bread flour
1/2 c. uncooked grits
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. wheat bran
4 t. salt
7 t. instant yeast
1/2 c. cooked brown rice
1/4 c. sorghum molasses
1 t. cider vinegar - add vegan milk (today I used hemp) to make 3/4 cup
approx 1 1/2 c. water
small cup of dark coffee with a big spoon of sorghum stirred into it
Mix all the dry ingredients (including the yeast) in a large bowl. Then add the brown rice, sorghum, vinegar/milk mixture, and 1 cup of the water. Add more water as needed until the dough comes together. Knead for approximately 15 minutes. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
Punch down risen dough, and divide into 3 pieces. Shape each into a loaf and put in greased pans. Brush the tops of the loaves with the coffee-sorghum mixture (a great substitute for an egg wash, which I learned from the talented L) and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Allow to rise, covered, for another hour or so. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, and then cool on racks.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Breakfast: Julie Hasson's Creamy Rice Pudding made with hemp milk. We had it with roasted hazelnuts, dried cranberries, and cinnamon. It took me right back to bygone days of rice pudding in New York City diners, except better!
Lunch: Bryanna Clark Grogan's Caponata from her book, Nonna's Italian Kitchen. (If you do not own this book, buy it now.) When T was in Sicily, one of his favorite things was caponata, and he doesn't even like eggplant. As we had a lot of eggplant from our Community Supported Agriculture box, we decided to give it a try. Bryanna never disappoints, and this was totally delicious. We used all the optional ingredients. For the olives, I pulled out my precious jar of mesquite-smoked, almond-stuffed olives from the Queen Creek Olive Mill, which the wonderful Veg-in-Training sent to us.
Thanks Julie, Bryanna, and ViT for such a tasty day so far. We've got piles of errands to do, so dinner may be cheap Mexican on Nolensville Road.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I recently picked up a discount copy of Alex Garcia's In a Cuban Kitchen. This book could have used a better editor, as details are sometimes missing from the instructions. For example, he will call for a can of something but not tell you how big the can should be. Nonetheless, the 3 or 4 recipes we have made thus far have turned out well. (If you have a favorite Cuban cookbook, recommend it in the comments!)
Here is our veganization of a lovely corn soup, which is our favorite recipe thus far, and very appropriate to the cooler weather:
Guiso de maiz
2 T olive oil
1 package SmartBacon, chopped fine (or tempeh crumbles or reconstituted TVP and a little liquid smoke, or more chorizo or whatever - or leave it out)
2 vegan chorizo sausages, chopped fine (Soyrizo or home-made)
1 medium white onion, chopped fine
1 medium bell pepper, chopped fine (red is nice for color)
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 15 oz can whole tomatoes, smushed
3 T sherry
8 cups broth (I added a handful of Bryanna's chicken style broth powder to 8 cups of water)
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1 cup chopped squash (calabaza, butternut, pumpkin, or even zucchini)
4 cups corn kernels (frozen is fine)
salt and pepper to taste
chopped cilantro to taste
Fry chopped veggie bacon (or whatever you are using) in big pot in the oil, for a few minutes. Then add chorizo, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until vegetables soften. Add tomatoes, sherry, broth, potato and squash. (If using summer squash, wait and add it with the corn, so it does not overcook.) Bring to a boil. Cook covered for 20 minutes. Add corn. Return to boil. Cook partially covered for 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper. Top with chopped cilantro.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
When I am home alone for a few days, I cook with ingredients (e.g., lima beans and turnips) that are, ahem, under-appreciated by the rest of the household. Thus, last night, I reached for one of my first vegan cookbooks, Moistly Vegan by Liz Flanigen, self-published here in Nashville in 1994. The odd title refers to the fact that she's big on soaking, sprouting, and the like.
I transitioned to a vegetarian diet, with the predictable bumps along the way, when I went away to college in 1987. Over the next few years, I became aware that the motivations behind my vegetarianism - doing what is best for the animals, the earth, and my health - would make me vegan, if I was consistent. (If this is new to you, I suggest reading Will Tuttle's World Peace Diet, and, for the health perspective, any of Neal Barnard's books.) I tried going vegan for the first time in the very early 90s. There was no internet to speak of. Information and support were hard to come by, and the conventional grocery store did not carry many of the helpful products which are common today. I was making soy milk from powder, I had no idea how to cook tofu, and let's allow my ill-conceived spirulina experiments to remain forgotten. End result: I spent many years going back and forth, with gradual changes and failed attempts, before finally going vegan, no-way-back.
In 1994, I found Liz Flanigen's book, soon after it was published. Her recipes are more restrictive than my usual approach. For instance, she's not big on salt or fat or members of the nightshade family. However, the recipes are very straightforward, calling for a small number of ingredients. (This was especially good for a poor grad student!) From her, I learned how to make simple milks from nuts and seeds, which were much better than my powdered soy milk. I don't think the book was ever distributed beyond the Nashville area, and it has been out of print for years. I don't know where Liz is today, but I hope she won't mind if I share a couple of recipes with y'all:
Lima Bean Salad
1 10 oz box frozen baby limas, steamed 10-15 minutes
3 T olive oil
pinch of thyme
pinch of tarragon
1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1 head of leaf lettuce
Combine limas, oil, herbs (fresh herbs are great if you have them), pepper and onion. Serve on a lettuce leaf. I usually junk this up with some salt, but I discovered last night that a sprinkling of dulse flakes (thanks, L) is a great salty addition to the salad.
Turnip & Collards Soup
1 quart water
1 T. molasses
5 - 8 collard leaves, chopped
1 medium turnip, chopped
1/2 t. extra virgin olive oil
cayenne pepper to taste
1 t. flax seed (she doesn't say, but I always grind the flax seed)
Bring the water to a boil, and dissolve the molasses. Add turnips and collards, and cook 15 minutes or so, until tender.
This makes enough for 2 servings. In each bowl, put 1/4 t olive oil, a good dash of cayenne, and 1/2 t flax seed. Pour the soup into the bowls. I think this dish needs something salty, too - sorry Liz. Sea salt, dulse, or tamari would work, but this is one of the few recipes where I prefer Bragg's Liquid Aminos. The milder flavor of Bragg's blends nicely into the background.
Liz, if you see this post, thanks for your inspiration, and I hope you will consider a 2nd edition someday!