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Jan. 1st, 2011


Okra Stew

Food blog lives!!  Here I am.

I don't have a photo for this post, but I wanted to share one of the best things I've made in awhile: Okra Stew!  If you're a midwesterner like me and you've never cooked with okra before, fear not--it was really easy!  I bought about one pound of it at the store and wasn't sure what to do with it at all.  After some google searches it seemed like my choices were to fry it like they do in the south or make it into some kind of Indian curry.  But then I remembered that this middle eastern restaurant near my apartment makes an amazing Okra Stew, so I went on a quest to find a recipe that might yield something similar.  When I found this one I was a little bit hesitant--usually things with nutmeg and allspice aren't really my thing, since I don't love those flavors.  But somehow in this recipe together everything tastes great--and I didn't really focus on or notice nutmeg flavors while I ate.  It all just blends together into a big bunch of deliciousness.

Also, don't be afraid of okra.  I'd heard all of these horror stories about how it gets slimy and disgusting and you can't prevent the slime, etc.  It DOES feel a bit slimy as you cut it.  I tried not to cut it too much--I went with 1-inch chunks.  There are ways you can reduce slime by soaking it in vinegar first apparently, but the acidity in the tomatoes takes care of that problem in this recipe. (I read about that online on other sites).

Wish I had a photo!  Seriously, this was SO EASY to make, and so flavorful.  Make it--you won't be sorry!

Okra Stew (recipe taken from CheckItOutVesta)

16 oz frozen or fresh baby okra (I didn't have baby, but regular was fine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (don't drain them)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I used ketchup--all was well)
2-3 cups water
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon allspice (I didn't have this so I used some cinnamon, more nutmeg, and some cloves)
1 teaspoon red hot pepper (optional) (I thought the recipe meant cayenne powder, and I thought that seemed like a lot so I went with 1/2 tsp.  Even that was nearly fatal.  Perhaps the original recipe meant red pepper flakes or chopped hot pepper).
salt and pepper to taste (about 1-2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper)

Saute the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil just till soft. Add the tomato paste and saute for another 30 seconds and then add the diced tomatoes and mix well. Season with the nutmeg, cumin, allspice, hot pepper and salt and pepper and stir.

Add the water to the mixture, mix and bring to a slight boil. Add the okra, cover your pan and lower the heat to simmer the stew. Let the stew simmer until it has thickened and the okra is nice and soft, continue to mix during the simmering process.

Taste the stew before serving to make sure your seasoning is right as the flavors should intensify as the stew reduces.  (I reduced mine until there wasn't much liquid left.)  Add more water if your stew is overwhelming or add more spice if it is not to your liking. Serve over rice or just in a bowl with some naan or pita bread (I used quinoa--yummy!)

Jun. 5th, 2010


Super Easy Blueberry Muffins

I got this from vegweb.  Make them, you won't be sorry.  You just need some normal things that you probably already have in your pantry... and they're low fat and low sugar... pretty crazy healthy actually for as good as they are.  And faster/easier than blueberry pancakes!

Easy Blueberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour (I did half wheat/half white flour)
1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup oil (next time I will use applesauce and reduce the sugar)
1 cup frozen blueberries
Mix everything but the blueberries in a bowl; fold in the berries.

Preheat oven to 400.  Pour into muffin cups (lined to save yourself trouble; otherwise grease the pan).  Makes about 8 muffins.  The original recipe says to cook 25-30 minutes, but CHECK THEM because mine were done--even burning!-- in 15.  (Gotta love my oven.)


Kinda Raw Cheesy Kale Chips

Well... I haven't posted recipes in 100 years.  Part of this has been that I haven't been cooking as much, but the larger part of it is that I am lazy.  Now you can has recipes but no photos because I don't have any :(  But trust me this is good.

Kinda Raw Cheesy Kale Chips

For the cheese, puree this stuff in a blender:
1/2-3/4 c. raw cashews or macademia nuts
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
2 Tbs. white miso paste
1 Tbs. Apple Cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. chipotle chili pepper flakes or to taste
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbs. Extra virgin Olive oil
1/3 c. Water
1/3 or 1/2 of a red bell pepper

Clean and destem entire bunch of kale and chop into bite sized pieces.  Toss the cheese with the kale in a large bowl (easiest to just use your hands.)  

Spray a baking sheet with olive oil; put your oven on the "warm" setting, or the lowest possible setting it will go on.  You need the temp to stay below 118 degrees F if you want the kale to keep all its nutrients and still be "raw."  If you have a dehydrator, you're in luck; dehydrate these bad boys.  I wish I had one.  I called the recipe "kinda raw" because I have no way of knowing how hot my oven is on the warm setting, but the first temperature setting is 200 degrees so I have my fingers crossed.

Leave em in the oven about 1.5 or 2 hours.
Salt and eat.  These are amazing.  I can't remember where I got the recipe, but I made some changes to it as well so maybe it can count as "mine" now?

Dec. 16th, 2009


Beans and Rice Casserole

This is the "Red Beans and Rice Casserole" from Vegan Fire & Spice. Well, it kind of is. I did my usual hefty dose of modifications. For starters, I didn't even use red beans. Ha.

Beans & Rice Casserole (with my changes)
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 onion)
1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper (don't like peppers...used some celery I had lying around)
3c. cooked brown rice (btw, 1c uncooked = 3c cooked, roughly)
1 can kidney beans, drain & rinse (i used black)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can mild chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 c. vegan sour cream ( I pureed 1/2 block of tofu with a ton of lime juice--and I do mean a ton, garlic, salt, and a couple spoons of the tofutti cream cheese that's been in my fridge longer than I'd like to think about...it smelled ok, so meh)
2 tsp. chili powder 3/4 tsp. salt
1/4c. dry bread crumbs (skipped this)

Preheat oven to 375. Saute the onion and celery until softened. In a casserole pan, pour in the rice, the onion/celery, the beans and tomatoes, and the green chiles. Then in a small bowl make and blend the fake sour cream stuff, adding the chili powder and salt. Stir thoroughly until everything's coated. Bake for 30 mins or until you're impatient and can no longer stand it.

Sooo... this was pretty good. If I would've left out the few spoons of cream cheese, it would even be basically fat free I think. I had my usual reaction to the recipes from this book, though,... that it would be even better with more complex flavors, maybe more spices (cumin? chipotle powder?) and that it was DEFINITELY not spicy enough. The book only gives it 1 pepper out of 3 on the heat scale, so I should've realized that and dumped in a bunch of cayenne or something. But with the salt and a bunch of cayenne it was a simple, basic, cheap dinner. With lots of leftovers. And I feel full. And it was different to have a creamy-ish sauce for a change. 

Nov. 21st, 2009


The many merits of matcha tea: I'm sold.

So I've recently been trying to wean myself off of coffee and onto matcha tea. In case you don't know, matcha tea is a powdered japanese green tea.

Photo taken from matchasource.com so you can see how beautiful green this stuff is (also, <3 matchasource, more on that in a minute).

Why matcha? Because it is powdered, when you make the tea you are actually *drinking* the tea leaves, not just brewing with them and throwing them out. A few different sources I've read say that an 8oz cup of matcha has 137 times as many antioxidants as regular green tea merely because you're consuming the leaves (insane!) The antioxidants themselves along with the small amount of caffeine give you slow sustained energy rather than jittery coffee energy (and I have actually noticed this to be true). Also, I've read in several sources that matcha tea or roobios tea powder is really good for runners to consume because it helps your body repair and recover faster. And I'm somewhat vain and obsessed with trying not to look old, and it has anti-aging properties too. haha.

Also, coffee has been destroying me. I'm teaching a morning class this quarter, which means I get up very early to finish lecture prep and shower and get on the bus. By the time I'm done teaching I've usually consumed 2-3 cups of coffee to compensate for the lack of sleep I'd gotten, and then I'm too wired to do anything useful. I crash hard in the evening, then wake up and can't sleep until really late... which leads to needing still MORE coffee the next morning when I have to get up early. Also coffee is really really dehydrating, so I'd always feel crappy from that, and the energy ups/downs were starting to mess with my race training.

The drawback is that this stuff is *expensive.* There are generally 3 grades you can buy: ceremony, regular, and low quality. Ceremony is made only of small young leaves on the top of the plants and there are special tea ceremonies for preparing it traditionally. Low quality has some stems powdered in with the leaves and also has fewer amino acids. It's often recommended that the lower-grade kind be blended into a latte or somesuch, or sprinkled on food, since it's not quite as tasty as the expensive stuff. From what I gather, the quality of tea doesn't effect the quantity of antioxidants--rather, just the quantity of amino acids.

I did some comparison shopping on matchasource.com (they have a lot of information on their site too) and ultimately ended up purchasing the "gotcha matcha"--the lowest quality (they call it cafe grade). Clicking on that link will make you choke on the price... I got the smallest container, because apparently it isn't as good after 4 weeks open in the fridge or so. And also because it's so freaking expensive. Amazon has some cheaper matcha teas but I felt confident through matchasource about the quality of product I was getting. One of the Amazon sellers had a spoon of regular grade matcha powder next to the stuff they bought on amazon, and the amazon stuff was BROWN compared to the bright green that matcha is supposed to be. Since I'm in it more for the health than the taste, I wanted it to be at least reasonably green. Matchasource also got my order to me insanely fast (2 days? 3? and I'm across the country) and they sometimes have coupon specials if you follow them on twitter. Waiting to see how long this 80g will last me so I can see how much it costs me per day to have a cup a day, and then I can decide if it's too expensive, I guess. (But I am buying less coffee so maybe it evens out eventually).

Originally I was drinking it straight (just water and tea) but because I don't have a bamboo tea whisk the powder is often a bit ...chunky at the bottom. So I started mixing a little hot water with the powder, then adding the rest of about 8oz water. Then I add some soy or almond milk and a drizzle of agave. It's really good. Do be careful not to drink it on a completely empty stomach though--it makes me feel a little nauseous if I do that. The internets seem to suggest it's either from the tannins in the tea or from your liver detoxing from the antioxidants. But it's fine after food.

As good as matcha is, it's hard to give up coffee and do my job. It seems like nearly everything centers around "oh let's meet for coffee to talk about it." or "oh, let's get together for some coffee after x or y." It's both social and professional, rolled into one. Pair that with the fact that coffee is always readily available and matcha is not, and that I love coffee, and that black coffee is cheap, and that I *already* have limited options to purchase at a cafe due to being vegan and...well, it's been tough. I haven't actually gone cold turkey, but I've cut down to one cup a week. And I have noticed a difference in how I feel. I swear to god that going vegan was easier than weaning myself off coffee has been... and this isn't the first time I've tried to cut back. I love black coffee so much.

So... that's my little (or not so little) endorsement of matcha tea. If you're looking for something new to try, check it out.


Carribbean Sweet Potato Hash

This is some kind of something or other that I ended up making for dinner upon realizing that I have a nearly bare fridge, no produce, and *still* have not made it to the store. My intention was to make something mexican-ish, but it kinda evolved from there. I have no idea how Caribbean this is but the flavors make me think of it so... yeah.

Caribbean Sweet Potato Hash
1 large sweet potato
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 small onion sliced very thinly and then chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 to 1/3c. coconut flakes
1.5 Tbsp. coconut oil
small bit of cumin (maybe 1/2 tsp or less)
lime juice (lots)
salt (some to taste)
salsa for eating purposes
cilantro (if you have some add it... it definitely would've made this better but i was out)

Grate the sweet potato (this is where my kickass food processor comes in handy! no way would I be able to grate potato like this by hand..). Put the coconut oil in a skillet and warm; add the sweet potato, onion, and garlic, and stir. Add a dash of lime juice; cover the skillet and steam a little until the onions are clear. Add the black beans and coconut flakes, and add more lime juice (In fact, just keep adding some as you go to keep the pan from getting too dry). Saute a few minutes more. Serve with salsa.

It's filling and not too bad... probably good without the black beans too, but I just added them in hopes of making it more nutritious. This could probably serve 4, but the way I eat it serves more like 2.


Miso Noodle Soup

I got this recipe from Economical Vegan after beingbecca posted it in an LJ community. This soup was so so amazing! It takes miso soup to a new level because the rice noodles make it filling. The best part is, it's made from normal pantry things and incredibly inexpensive.

Miso Noodle Soup
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 medium sized carrot, shredded (I was lazy and just cut it up, so the soup wasn't quite as pretty)
4 TBS chopped onion
3/4 cup extra firm tofu, cubed
1/6 package of rice noodles (I had some really cheap ones from the asian market)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 TBS miso paste
  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, add broth, carrots, tofu, garlic and onion. Heat on medium high for about 4 minutes.
  2. Add rice noodles and stir them in as they begin to soften.
  3. Meanwhile, dissolve miso paste in 1/4 - 1/2 cup warm water.
  4. When carrots and noodles are tender, remove pan from heat. If it had been boiling, let it cool, then add the miso/water mixture. Stir well and serve.
Serves: 2

Super good!!

Also, yes, I failed out of veganmofo :'( I got the flu and fell behind on posting since food sounded icky for awhile, and I felt like there was no hope for redeeming myself during the month of October after that. Here is some cute kitty love to try to persuade you to love me anyway:

Look at that faaaace. haha.

Oct. 13th, 2009


The secret to a good tofu scramble... (mofo2009)

...is to make sure there's some moisture in the pan when you add the nutritional yeast at the end.  Whether this means adding a bit of water, or a bit of broth, or a dash of soy sauce and water together... I love the sauce-y texture that results when nooch goes in with some liquid.  It's the only way to go.  It's becoming my "signature" way to prepare tofu scramble.  Click the "tofu" tag to find my usual recipes....and mentally update them with this modification :o)

I should probably eat less tofu than I do.  I'm sure you're seeing this trend where I've posted about tofu scramble like.... 5,000 times.  And I often eat it and don't post it.  Must...remember...soy is a condiment, not a food group...soy is a condiment, not a food group....bah.

Oct. 12th, 2009


Vietnamese Noodles with Tempeh and Peanuts (not)

This was the Vietnamese Noodles with Tempeh and Peanuts recipe from Vegan Fire and Spice, though I subbed some stuff so it wasn't exactly it.  I used tofu instead of tempeh because it was all I had, and I'm fairly sure I used the wrong noodles.  And some cabbage made its way in there.

Good, but I got reeeeeally tired of the leftovers after awhile.

 Lame food photo post today, because I'm verrry busy.

Oct. 11th, 2009


Restaurant Reviews: 2 in one day! (mofo 2009)

I'm not doing so well with keeping up on Mofo this week... work has been completely insane lately.  I'm going to have some catching up to do...

Anyway, on Friday I went to 2 restaurants here in Columbus that I hadn't been to before.  The amazing thing about Columbus is that I am *still* discovering new places to get great vegan food, and I've lived here for 3 years already!  And there's still more new vegan options to be had.  So wonderful.

For lunch, I went to On The Fly, the little street-food cafe attached to the crazy-expensive but delicious Dragonfly Neo-V restaurant.  I had the chili+cornbread, and my friend had the empanada.  The chili was good (primarily lentils) and had a mysterious sour-creamlike creation on it; the only thing I wished was that it was a little bit more spicy.  I also had an apple turnover thingy for dessert that was freaking delicious.  In the future I might stop by just for a fancy dessert option.  They had some amazing looking desserts for reasonable prices.

The chili:

The empanada:

The thing about On The Fly that I wasn't that crazy about was the fact that all the food came in these plastic bowls.  I know that's a pretty nitpicky thing to complain about when the food was good but... can't an empanada and my apple turnover come on a plate? please?  And is it really that much cheaper/more pratical to use washable plastic rather than glass?  I guess I always just have this thing where I hate eating off of plastic of any kind, so maybe that's just another of my quirks.  Food was good, and I'll definitely be going back for desserts if not for lunch (and maybe lunch too.)

For dinner, S. and I went to Starliner Diner.  I know a lot of people who rave about this place, but I haven't been because it's basically across town from where I live.  I'm still not entirely sure where it is relative to the rest of the world since I didn't drive and it was dark and rainy when we went.  But anyway, it was a pretty cool place.  The server was very knowledgeable about veganism-- I asked whether something had dairy in it and she was like, "Oh, are you vegan?  Here's some things you can try" and then listed off ways to modify certain dishes and other dishes that were already vegan.  The menu has a cheeseless pizza on it!  Like, it's already cheeseless--no modifications needed.  That made me happy.  They also have some pasta options, a burrito, and I think at least one other item.  We had plantains for an appetizer, and I had the pizza, which was very good (though it needed some hot sauce).

That's the other thing... this place had FOUR KINDS of hot sauce on the table to pick from.  FOUR KINDS.  Do you have any idea how happy that made me?

Anyway it was a really quirky little establishment... tables and chairs from like the 60s, an entire wall full of metal clocks, and this really wacky mural on one wall:

Thumbs up to both places.  Yay Columbus.

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