Saturday, August 26, 2006

College

What have I been doing this past month, other than not blogging?
I have spent the month getting ready for school and hanging out with all of my friends who will soon be scattered around the country. I have been cooking here and there, but nothing notable or special. Tofu scramble has become a regular for my breakfast -- I started using frozen potatoes that were already cut up with green and red peppers, added spices and tofu, and frying. So easy!

Tomorrow (well, today technically) I will be moving into dorms. Since it is my freshman year of college, I have not lived in the dorms before. It will be very interesting to see how my veganism progresses (or regresses, though I hope not). There is a kitchen with a stove/oven on my floor, but I don't know yet how close my room is to it. I bought a LOT of equipment for baking/cooking...I am hoping that I have the opportunity to make food on an at least semi-regular basis, especially since I do not know how the food service will be in the cafeteria.
It will definitely be...interesting.
I don't know how much time I will have to write (or cook!), but I will try to update as experiment. Maybe I will even throw up a post about all my new kitchen gear, since I am excited about it. I have the cutest little rice cooker! I don't know how they can be cute, but this one is.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wishing and Hoping...

...and yes, even praying.
Mac & cheese (fake cheese), muffins, pancakes, tacos, pad thai....I wish I was eating all of this, right now. I have been sick for the past 3 days and unable to eat anything (really, anything). Today is the first day I haven't thrown up, and I am so tempted to go all out and eat something that I have been thinking about. But, remembering what it felt like to be throwing up, I am deciding to only have pasta. Plain. Plain, plain pasta.
Sigh.

In other news, I took a short trip to Boise, Idaho. Really my only reason for going was because I was offered the free ticket (yay frequent flyer miles) to meet my parents there. My dad has traveled to Boise more than a dozen times for business and wanted to take my mom there. Since I am jobless for the summer, they asked if I wanted to join them at the end of their trip. Never one to turn down free flying or going new places, I said yes.
For those of you who haven't heard of anything interesting to travel to Boise for, it is because there isn't anything. While it is a nice city that has a few interesting things, there is nothing to spend a couple hundred of dollars flying there for. And, as far as I am concerned, it might be one of the most un-friendly cities to vegans -- not including small towns in the middle of nowhere. This is the capital of the state! Show some variety.
I did all of the searching of restaurant guides and websites, things like that. There was one place I was hoping for: Kulture Klatsch (or something along those lines). Long story short, they don't exist anymore. That was the one restaurant that I could find suggestions for. Most of the people there looked at me like I was on crack when I said the word "vegan." I spent most of my vacation with the "gee, I HOPE this is vegan..." attitude.
One night my parents and I met with a co-worker and friend of my dad's. We just ate at their house, which was so pretty. They had two dogs, both neurotic. They weren't really prepped ahead of time about my eating, ah-hm, style. So I brought a few things along to make sure I didn't starve. There was this wonderful spinach and strawberry salad that I commented on how much I liked it -- my mom proceeded to ask the ingredients for the dressing...and there was Worcestershire sauce in it. Of course. I tactfully continued to the other parts of the meal...the people were very nice, and had they known ahead of time that I was vegan I am sure they would have accommodated me in some way.
There were two bright spots: their co-op (yay for co-ops!) and P.F. Changs. The waitress at PF Changs knew what veganism was. Or had at least heard of it. So I had a delicious meal there.

So, in the end, Boise. Not a friendly city to vegans. And I am sick but will be making food again, very very soon.


PS: I updated that earlier entry to add the pictures -- titled something along the lines of "I am a bad blogger!"....

Friday, July 14, 2006

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Another recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. I have made her Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes twice now, because they are so good. Once for breakfast, once for lunch. I haven't taken a picture of them, I am too busy eating them, but I will try to take a quick one before I eat them all next time.
Here is the recipe for all to try:

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Makes: 6-10 pancakes, depending on size

1 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. water
1-1 1/4 c. rice or soy milk (I use 1 c. soy milk)
2 Tbsp canola oil
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional, I don't use it)
1/3 c. chocolate chips
Canola oil/cooking spray for pan (if not non-stick)

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Create a well in the middle of the flour and add water, rice/soy milk, oil, maple syrup, and extracts. Mix until just combined, fold in chocolate chips (I find it easier to add the chocolate chips into the batter once I pour it onto the pan, otherwise the chips get all in one spot and not evenly placed, which makes it TOO chocolate-y in some places and not enough in others).
Oil (if needed) and preheat a large skillet for about 2 minutes.
For larger pancakes, use a ladle to pour the batter into the pan (I used a 1/2 cup measuring scoop). For smaller pancakes, use 1/4 cup measuring scoop. Cook until bubbles for on top (and the sides start to dry out somewhat), about 3 minutes. Turn the pancakes over and cook until the bottoms are browned and the pancakes are cooked through, about 2 minutes.
Serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve.

My serving suggestion: try it with strawberry jelly! I did this last time I had them, and it was fantastic. Much better than with syrup, in my opinion. I'm sure you could try other kinds of jelly or jam too, but strawberry is just my favorite.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vegan Menu Items at Panera Bread

When at Panera the other day, I checked their ingredient book for their vegan options. I only checked the breads, bagels, soups, and salad dressings -- I figured the other things would be easy to figure out (sandwiches: consider the bread, then common sense on the toppings).

Bagels
blueberry
dutch apple & raisin
everything
plain
sesame
with honey but otherwise clear:
whole grain

cold drinks
kids' organic apple juice
lemonade
iced green tea
IC Mango (without whipped cream)

soups
low-fat garden vegetable
vegetable black bean

salad dressings
balsamic vinegar
fat-free sugarless poppyseed
raspberry vinagrette
reduced sugar Asian sesame vinagrette

breads
Artisan Country: demi, loaf, and miche
Artisan French: baguette and miche
Artisan Multigrain: loaf and miche
Artisan Sesame Semolina: loaf and miche
Artisan Three Seed: demi
Artisan Stone-milled Rye: loaf and miche
Ciabatta
Lower-Carb Italian Herb Bread: loaf
Lower-Carb Pumpkin Seed: loaf
Nine Grain: loaf
Sourdough: baguette, loaf, roll, soup bowl, XL loaf
with honey, but otherwise clear:
White Whole Grain: loaf
Whole Grain: loaf, miche, baguette

In their "book," they list things as vegan, vegetarian, etc., but I have noticed that some things they listed as vegan contain honey. Once I realized that, I double checked everything I listed and noted what has honey.
Also, items they list as vegan contain L-cysteine and mono & diglycerides (especially their bagels) without specifying that it is from a vegetable source...I guess you could just assume they are, if you are comfortable with that. The dutch apple and raisin has "less than 2% of the following" with a long list containing glycerin, also not specified as a vegetable source.

To triple check me, which I always appreciate (really!), their website section with nutrition info is located at http://www.panerabread.com/menu.aspx.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cereal Excitement!

One cereal I have missed since becoming vegan is Frosted Mini-Wheats. I don't care how bad they may have been for me -- eating a bowl of them with a tiny amount of milk (so as not to make them soggy...) was my favorite breakfast. I was so pissed to read they have gelatin in them! I had no idea what I had been eating (which has become a big realization for me, since becoming vegan -- actually knowing what was in what I ate). So I was so excited when shopping at Walmart (I know, I know...) and found ORGANIC Mini-Wheats!! They do not have any gelatin in them.
Their ingredients: Organic whole wheat, organic evaporated cane juice syrup, reduced iron, niacinamide, zinc oxide, pyridoxine hydrochloride (b6), riboflavin (b2), thiamin hydrochloride (b1), folic acid, vitamin b12.
I am eating them right now, and they are yummy. They are a little flatter than the originals, and don't taste exactly the same, but are still good.

The past few days, I have been testing different applications to keep track of recipes for me on my Mac. I checked out every cookbook that my library system had on veganism (about 25) and am trying to write down (or rather, type) all the recipes I really want right now, and then I can check them out again when I have tried all of those. I have about 40 recipes typed so far today...only about 100 more to go...I have a lot of time on my hands, ok!? :)
I'll share my opinions of the different Mac programs I have tried, soon.

Sorry for the gratituious use of parenthesis...it must be all of the recipes I've been typing, combined with my current state of ADHD.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I am bad at this "blogging" thing...

I am a terrible blogger. I always have been. I get so involved in doing whatever little things I am doing with my life that I never just sit down and write an entry. Its not even like I am doing anything important or interesting! Half the time I am on the computer, I just don't remember. But, I have been taking pictures of some of my food along the way, since I last wrote. I've made quite a few things.

I have been experimenting with my Vegan With a Vengeance cookbook -- it IS as great as everyone says. I've made the Brooklyn Pad Thai (sorry, no picture). My friend and I made it the night before she left for a vacation. It was really messy and involved, since I've never made it before, and we screwed up the recipe at least 5 times....but it still turned out sooo good! It says something like 4-6 servings -- I don't know who they are kidding!? It was at least 8 servings, and I didn't finish it all, even eating it as leftovers.

I also made the Raspberry Blondie Bars from VWaV...for some reason, stores around here don't sell plain soy yogurt, so I used raspberry. It seemed to turn out fine. Everyone loved them. My family always tries all of my creations and they always say the food tastes good, but these were so enthusiastically eaten it was unbelievable. My grandma even took a piece home, which was a shock -- normally she tries whatever it is, says it has an "interesting texture," but doesn't love them. Everyone liked them -- except me. They weren't bad. I think I just am not a huge fan of the raspberry taste. I should try it with strawberry...that is much more my flavor.

Also from VWaV, I've made the scones TWICE now. The first time I made them as chocolate chip scones, cut fresh (organic! yum) strawberries (that I left covered in sugar for a bit, so they could get syrupy), and poured them over it. I do have pictures, but they aren't on my computer yet...I will add them later. I used soy milk in this recipe...they were great topped with strawberry, though a bit wet when plain. Then, I made them with fresh strawberries in them (did I mention strawberries are my favorite fruit?). This time I used the soy creamer like suggested, which gave them a different, better texture. Still a bit wet, but better.

I've also made at least two different pancakes (both also from VWaV!! Its just a great cookbook). Today I made the Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Pancakes. They were delicious, not too chocolate-y. Next time I might even consider making them without the added chocolate chips -- they were excellent. Again, I have a picture, but not on the computer yet. The other kind of pancake I made was sort of...made up. I used a variation that the cookbook suggested, but changed it to a different fruit...strawberries! They were strawberry lime pancakes. Sooo good.
I made the Extraordinary Quinoa Tabbouleh from Garden of Vegan. Also enthusiastically received. It was my first time cooking quinoa, but it was very easy. The only problem was that I forgot to rinse the quinoa before I cooked it -- it didn't end up being a big deal, because it was organic (so I wasn't worried about nasty chemicals or anything) and no one had even eaten quinoa before, so they didn't know the difference!

Last but not least, I made my own granola as well as tofu scramble. The scramble was from VWaV (surprise, surprise) -- after having a long confusion about types of tofu, I used the right kind this time (real firm, not silken firm...), it was delicious. I want to eat it every morning...too bad it takes an hour to make.

It was also my first time making my own granola. I decided it was time, since I eat it like crack. I have been spending a lot of money on premade granola, so it was fun to see a successful result that was so cheap and easy. I hadn't made it earlier because I was too cheap to buy real maple sugar -- 32 oz at $13?! That is so expensive. I am using it sparingly. Anyway, I found an Apple Raisin Granola recipe online. I just omitted the raisins and added pine nuts, soy nuts, sesame seeds...maybe a few other nutty things (literally, not crazy things). It is great. I've been eating it with applesauce for 1 1/2 meals every day, and have gone through a whole jar of applesauce in 24 hours.

A lot of text, I know. I will add pictures later (probably...). I have also found a few technological things that are handy, but I will share them at a later time.
To sum it up: BUY VEGAN WITH A VENGEANCE. It is as great as everyone says -- cheap ingredients, easy recipes, and they taste great. Just add about 2 servings to however many Isa says ;) Check out her website at http://www.theppk.com/.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Carrot Zucchini Walnut Cake

Whew. I am back. I was having serious computer issues -- more internet issues, I guess. My computer decided to stop connecting to the internet, basically. I have been cooking and baking a little bit in the interim, though nothing too exciting. Except for my Carrot Zucchini Walnut Cake that I am going to write about, because it is great. I love zucchini. I love carrots. They are my favorite vegetables. So I combined them and made this cake! The original recipe was for apple or zucchini or carrot cake and wasn't vegan...okay, it was pretty different. But I DID have a base recipe. I'm not good enough (yet) that I can completely make up recipes.

Carrot Zucchini Walnut Cake
2 c. shredded carrot
2 c. shredded zucchini
2 cups sugar/dry sweetener
2 eggs worth of egg replacer (I used the flax/water mix I mentioned earlier)
2/3 c. walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c. vegetable oil

1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and egg replacer. Add oil and mix well.
3. Mix in flour, spices, salt, and baking soda.
4. When well combined, add the carrots, zucchini and walnuts.
5. Pour batter into pan. I used a dark colored glass dish – it took 50 minutes to cook. The original recipe suggested 40 minutes, but they used a "pan" (of unspecified type).

Though the picture isn't great, the cake is. It looks sort of healthy to be a cake, but it is delicious. After eating several pieces without, I decided some of my non-vegan friends (ok, all of my friends) might be more tempted if I added some icing. So I whipped up some "cream cheese" icing:

Cream Cheese Icing
(from La Dolce Vegan)
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. margarine
1/2 c. "cream cheese" (I used Tofutti)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend it all up in a food processor until smooth.

I halved the recipe and then added more powdered sugar (it smelled a little too margarine-y for my taste). The icing is amazing. I just want to eat it plain! But, it also tastes good on the cake, which is the point.

Also, I found out today that there are more Nature's Valley granola bars that are vegan (I mentioned the granola bars in an earlier entry). I guess the store I was looking in didn't have many of the varities or something -- but after I checked their website, I noticed that only Banana Nut, Oats and Honey (which isn't vegan anyway, because of the honey) and Roasted Almond say "natural flavoring," which is the only ambigious ingredient.