Friday, April 29, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 29

I think I did it. The ULTIMATE Non-Meat Burger (according to our taste buds). Satisfying, full of flavor and texture. I think these are a winner. I looked at more than 20 recipes and then pulled out the formula of what I thought would work. And it did.

I ended up adding a wee bit more texture to this recipe than what I tried in the actual burger making trial run. The minor addition of 1/4 cup mushrooms and a TBSP more of Textured Vegetable Protein (sold in health food section of grocery store - I used Bob's) should give the exact density that a good "burger" needs.

Vegan Adventure Ultimate Burger

1/3 Cup T.V.P. (Textured Vegetable Protein)
2 tsp Soy Sauce
1 TBSP ground flax seed
1/2 Cup of Salsa (or Spaghetti Sauce - for Italian version, or Vegetable Broth for Middle Eastern flavor)
3 TBSP water

Put together in a bowl. Set aside.

In 2 TBSP of Earth Balance or fat of choice saute the following until tender then remove from heat.

1 Small dice small zucchini (or 2 grated carrots)
1 Small dice onion
2 minced cloves of garlic
3/4 cup small dice mushrooms (or diced cooked potatoes)

Then toss in one can of beans (with the bean juice) (or two cups of home cooked beans) - pinto or black (Mexican) or kidney (Italian) will give you more color, garbanzo if you want a more Middle Eastern flavor.
Semi-mash as you stir it all together.

Add the following spices to the veggie mixture.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin (Mexican, Middle Eastern (and if you want to add a teaspoon or two of sesame seeds or tahini to a Middle Eastern burger, go for it.)
1 teaspoon cilantro (or curry if going for Middle Eastern and 1 and 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasonings if going for an Italian flavor and omit the cumin).
Add 1 cup uncooked old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup cooked brown rice

Add the flax/TVP mixture and stir together.

Refrigerate for 1/2 an hour or so.

Form into patties. Makes a dozen or more thinner ones, and go for thinner to get a more burger texture.

Fry patties in a little bit of oil (coconut, or Earth Balance or your choice) a couple of minutes on each side. They will crisp nicely and have a decent texture.

(I made them all up and froze a half dozen of them for another meal - I'll toss them frozen into an oven at 350 for 15 min or reheat them on the stove top.)

I toasted the buns (with a little garlic spread) and added avocado slices and tomatoes, lettuce, etc. The usual hamburger stuff.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 28

We've been talking about what our post-Vegan-trial life is going to be like.

Rob says he is absolutely convinced that the change in his diet has made a huge difference in his health and his pain level. He keeps sharing his journey with others, telling them how good he feels.

He has to meet a business acquaintance for lunch today and he's planning on how he can stick to his plan. He is also talking that fish is one thing he'd like to add back into his life. But he also said that wants us to continue to cooking as we have this month, with the occasional addition of something that may have a mother, a face or both.

I can live with that. This is a man who "needed" red meat three times a week, and chicken wasn't really meat at all in his book.

Personally, I don't think I need eggs in the house, or real butter, or real milk. We have broken past the necessity of these items. I don't miss any of them. Nor do the others in the house. Cheese, sorry, Kim, I think we can leave it alone. Not to say we won't dive into a cheese tray or succumb to a cheesy pizza every once in awhile. I can live with that.

Flexitarian means we can live our lives a huge percentage one way with an occasional splurge or dive into something different. Outside of faith and vows and primary relationships, I'm pretty sure flexitarian is something we should all strive for in life.

However, I think I'm going to miss the focus. The adventure of trying to make sure everything on the table is faceless and motherless but tastes amazing. I don't want it to end. Even blogging about it every day has been a fun challenge.

I think I've learned something about myself in this process. I love learning, and the challenge of making that knowledge work for me and my life. The past few years are coming into sharp focus as I think about my "writing" career, my day career in the medical field, my intensive period learning how to really study the Bible and how to teach from it, etc. etc. etc. Each of those growing/learning periods fed me. And each of them, when the intensive learning bursts quieted into the daily humdrum of just doing...well, contentment is nice, but spark and passion and hunger are hard to satisfy with contented sighs.

So. I guess my soul, my spirit, my spark of life within need good food, just like my body. And I'm not okay with giving in to cheap, fast, and fake there either.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 27

Last night was pretty tasty.

Here's the recipe if you have a hankering for a Vegan version of Cashew Chicken.

Cashew No-Chicken, No Kidding.

1 cup diced celery
1 minced garlic clove
6-7 green onions (use the whole thing except the hairy tail) chopped.
Melt 2 TBSP of dairy free butter substitute in a pan (EARTH BALANCE) or coconut oil would work.
Saute the veggies in the "butter".
Stir in 5 TBSP flour of your choice. Until pasty.
Add 3 TBSP soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos (less sodium in the liq aminos)
Pour in a 32 oz package of Vegetable Broth and begin simmering.
Toss in 2 cups of cashews (I used unsalted and salted would be overkill!!!)
Chop half of a red roasted pepper, toss in.
Simmer until thickens to the consistency you want. 15 minutes or so.
Add 2 tsp of sesame seeds
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes

Serve over rice, noodles or quinoa.


I am finding that there are loads of Vegan recipes out there. However, again, I have to admit I just can't leave it alone and make a recipe exactly as directed. There is always an item I want to switch out, or one that needs to be added or tweaked.

I googled Vegan Cashew Chicken and found very few and the two I found had some really complicated stuff. I want tasty AND easy. I had no idea how I'd come up with the texture and flavor. But I considered the strongest flavors in the cashew chicken I've enjoyed and figured out how I might be able to pull off the flavors and the mouth feel. This was pretty close.

I didn't share the recipe exactly how I made it. I put together, tasted, added, scribbled down more details and finally served it. Our meal did not have the garlic clove and the three of us decided that's exactly what was missing. The heat, the texture and the overall taste were there but the garlic would've made it.

And EER, you cracked me up. Don't make me say "no crumbs for you!" And DO NOT bring me your plate!!!

And I need to hear the kefir story. Was your kefir grain from the famed Caucasus Mountains ? I must know this. You will tell me the story or your crumb supply will be cut off!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 26

So I'm not going to tell you how amazing last night's meal was. But it was pretty amazing, anyway. It consisted of the new pasta "alfredo" sauce that I've been told looks like an unfortunate byproduct of digestive distress. And the now staple marinara sauce, garlic rolls and roasted brussel sprouts and leftover delish bits from Easter vegan desserts. There could be a crumb or two, EER. And Kim, it's deliciously cheesy...not Cheddar, but tasty. If you lived closer I'd so have you over to taste it.

I do need to give a report about my 21 day commitment to working on the novel. I completed the task. I rewrote a problematic scene. Then wrote and edited three more scenes. And discovered a creative way to work out a fairly big plotting point. I read all that we had written out loud, found several issues and suggested how we might fix said issues. And most importantly, I think I've got the remaining 7 or 8 chapters blocked out, broken down, and skeleton figured out. Now we just need to hang the muscle and meat on the skeleton and pump it full of life.

And I enjoyed it. I had committed to a half hour per day, focused on an aspect of the book. But as I dove in I found that I wanted to spend more time, that I was enjoying writing. I also think I've grown as a writer. The words flowed easier. The sentence structure, the getting under the character's skin, the hanging onto the voice...those happened easier...almost like my brain was still working on those skills while I was refusing to go any further on this story.

Glad I took that little venture on. And I'm going to keep on, keeping on that one, too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 25

Scalloped "Cheesy" Potatoes

3 lbs potatoes
4 TBSP of Earth Balance Spread (or fat of choice)
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
4-6 ounces of fresh mushooms
5 TBSP of flour
2 and 1/2 cups of non-dairy unsweetened milk
1/2 cup of nutritional yeast (bulk or packaged at health food stores, on-line or some grocery stores.)

Prepare (I just cut eyes out, left most of the skin on) potatoes. Bake in 350 oven for approx 25 min (for small to medium potatoes) until half baked. Cool. Then slice into slightly greased 9 x 13 pan and sprinkle with salt.

In a sauce pan melt:

4 TBSP of Earth Balance
Toss chopped onion, minced garlic and mushrooms.
When veggies are sauteed and tender add 5 TBSP of flour and blend together until pasty.
Stir in 2 and 1/2 cups of non-dairy unsweetened milk of choice. (i.e, almond, soy, oat or rice)
Stir over low heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast (bulk or packaged at health food stores, on-line or some grocery stores.)

Pour "cheese" veggie sauce over potatoes.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Not the best picture. But the potatoes were pretty tasty. Even the non-vegans scarfed them down. Win. Win.

Every dessert we had was Vegan. And, again, no one complained. The chocolate cake was a little crumbly, but oh so good.

These cookies are amazing.

Orange Cranberry Pecan Coconut Cookies

1 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Sugar
Zest of one small orange. (zest before juicing)
Juice of one small orange
1 Cup chopped nuts of choice
2 and 1/4 Cups flour (King Arthur, unbleached, Oat or spelt flours or a blend)
1/2 to 3/4 Cup of dried cranberries

Set oven to 350. Blend coconut oil and sugar until mixed. Add zest and juice. Mix. Add flour, stir. Add nuts and cranberries. Roll into small balls, or use small cookie scoop. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 350 oven for 11 minutes. NOTE: These little guys are frail. Loosen them on the cookie sheet. Cool for a few minutes, then place on cookie rack. Store in the refrigerator or they are really fall apart crumbly.

Rob and I were able to pass up the half and half, the ham, the venison (that wasn't tough. Ha.) and a few more non-Vegan items without feeling super deprived. Because the vegan dishes were pretty delish.

And boy, did we ever have fun with Kombucha and the mother. Several brave souls tried a sip of both Kombucha and Kefir. And there were some seriously hilarious expressions on people's faces when they were introduced to Mother in her new home. She now resides in a 6 quart crock pot crock. She was getting too big for her huge pickle jar. One of her babies is now living there. Mother is fully unfurled across the top of her tea bath. Pulling back the curtain on her was quite the trip. Ha. Ha. We also did do a little I Pad/I Phone research and found that Kefir has tons of probiotics...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 22

No pictures of poo food, EER. So sorry. However, last night's dinner was fajitas made with portebello mushrooms sliced into strips, tossed with onions and red, yellow and green peppers and sauteed.

With that much taste you don't really need cheese. Okay. I didn't.

Add to that cilantro lime rice. Which was precooked and frozen servings of brown rice. Juice of a lime and fresh cilantro (or dried) to taste.

Threw it all together into a multi-grain tortilla. Added tomatoes, good lettuce. Really satisfying and delicious.

I also did some searching for the difference between coconut oil (which is one of our staples) and coconut butter which we've never used (not even on our heels, EER.)

I'm also reading the Coconut Oil Miracle that goes into all this Coconut Oil craze.

More to report after the Holiday weekend.

For Easter dinner I will be serving Tropical Eggplant - eggplant coated with toasted coconut and served with Mango/Pomegranate Salsa. And Vegan Scalloped Potatoes. And some delicious Orange Cranberry Pecan Vegan Cookies.

And there will be items to please the meat eaters who will attend as well.

Hope you have a meaningful Resurrection Sunday. Christ is alive. He is indeed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 21

All these comments and questions, Friends. Thanks for all the support/interest.

Just in case you are looking for a healthified treat I'm posting a recipe I "fixed/veganated".

Apple Chunk Cake

4 TBSP ground flaxseed
6 TBSP warm water (combine these two ingredients in a small bowl and let sit approx 7 or so minutes. This will gel and will replace eggs)
1/2 Cup coconut oil (don't melt, but you can set in a warm place to soften.)
1 Cup sugar (minimally processed - I used turbindo which is darker because it retains some of the natural molasses)
2 tsp vanilla
2 Cups flour (I used spelt)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt.
2 medium apples cut into small chunks. (I used tart ones)

Preheat oven to 350 and oil a 13X9 pan.

Combine the coconut oil with the sugar, add flaxseed/water blend and vanilla. Stir in the baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Add the flour, stir, and finally mix in the apples. Spread in prepared pan.

If you want a crunchy topping mix equal amounts (approx 2 TBSPs each) of oatmeal, finely chopped pecans or walnuts and approx 1 TBSP of brown sugar. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the dough.

Bake for approx 40-45 minutes.

Xta asked about Earth Balance and Coconut butter.

Here's the skinny Earth Balance.

Earth Balance
spreads are: "made with a proprietary blend of expeller-pressed oils and are a good source of important Omega 3’s. Available in both tub and stick forms, Earth Balance® Natural Spreads are vegan, non-GMO and free of gluten, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and artificial ingredients of any kind. Earth Balance® Nut Butters are Non-GMO Project verified. Earth Balance® Soymilk is certified organic, Non-GMO Project verified and made with USA grown soybeans. Earth Balance® Soymilk is vegan, free of lactose, cholesterol, dairy, gluten and is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and ALA omega 3s."

You can use in place of butter. Cook, bake etc. And it tastes good. Of course it's fat/oil so sitting down and eating a tub would be a poor choice. But when you need an oil/fat, this is a good choice. I linked their website above, there are lots of recipes hanging out there and I have favorited it as a nice resource.

As far as coconut butter, Xta. I have not tried it. I've also heard of coconut cream. So I need to look into that a little more. Coconut oil. Here's the best price for organic and great quality (look around a bit on Amazon. The free shipping at the 25.00 mark is great, but I've gotten a better deal before, I've noticed prices change almost daily on lots of items.) I use coconut oil as a lotion, as a facial moisturizer and as a butter replacement in recipes. It makes super delish popcorn. (The cook on the stove kind, and you won't need to add butter to it. Doesn't take much, just a coating in the pan.) But I'll look into the other coconut products and report back.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 20

So Xta asked a good question.

If we aren't animal activists then why avoid animal products? Why are we staying away from animal milk, yogurt, eggs, cheeses, butter?

After all. Organic means that the animals are treated well, fed well and aren't pumped full of hormones, genetically modified "food"stuff and are allowed to do things like move and feel sunshine. Organic is better. period.

But. Why are we avoiding those items? Mostly for the inflammation aspects. And because of possible underlying allergies to things we've always eaten but didn't know we didn't tolerate oh so well. 24 has a longer trial and error period. She has decided that she is definitely going to avoid dairy because when she has played her flexitarian card and eaten something containing dairy her head gets stuffy feeling. And when she eats several things that are non-Vegan she feels it energywise. Since Rob and I aren't at the flexitarian stage yet, I am interested to see if we notice differences in the way we feel if we eat dairy. As far as I'm concerned, this whole thing is a lifetime learning process. If there are alternatives to dairy products that leave us feeling satisfied then I feel like I'm going to lean towards those products.

These links go into all sorts of information. I even put a counter-point one in there. Casein is one that raised a few red flags in my mind. (The China Study) And there is a compelling enough reason to me to avoid it. But, there are other scientists who say "pshaw!"

But isn't that life? No matter what subject you chose to expound on, someone is going to be able to tear it apart....maybe only within their own mind....maybe to multitudes. Since I'm not a scientist, since I can't tear things apart on a molecular level and figure out the puzzle of life, since life is a journey...I guess I'm just going to keep on keeping on....doing my best to become more and more like the person I was created to be.

So. Share your thoughts. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 19

Delicious Eggplant Parmesan for dinner.

And some answers to a couple of questions.

EER asked about Rob's joints. I have been guessing that once he overcame the plague he'd start feeling some differences.

But last night I asked him. And this was his answer. "I am very pleased with this proj
ect. I feel good. I worked physically hard today. And I don't have a tweak or a twinge in the normal problem areas."

Losing the quotations...he went on to say that he has struggled with little intense flashes of pain in different joints almost every day. His hands, shoulders and arms especially. And he is currently not having any of those. Even though he was fighting the creeping crud for the first ten days of so of this adventure....he's been feeling okay. And now he is feeling good. He says this is a success as far as he's concerned. Though he won't claim rigid Vegan as a lifestyle, he is planning to be as conscientious as possible about what he
puts into his body.

He also said that the small changes we've made over the past couple of years, going more toward organic and natural, one step at a time, have all been little steps that have made a difference.

Stopping the fueling of his body with chemicals, sugar, highly processed and total crap began the process of reclaiming his health. Animal-product-free-eating is one more tool in his health arsenal. The early steps kept him from having to add that injectible to his regimen. Will he ever be able to remove the prednisone and methotrexate? We can hope and keep trying. If not, the real food he eats will strengthen his body to maybe avoid some of the side effects of those big gun medications.

He did say he suggests that no one go completely cold turkey into something this extreme. 24 and I have been slowly learning, rethinking and restocking our pantry,freezer, and garden ... getting rid of the the stuff that is not fuel for our bodies and replacing those uber-processed and food-free items with things that really are fuel. Today has come about because of almost three years of rethinking and learning. But. Every step we have taken has been important on some level.

I will continue to share products, information and recipes with you because this trial month is the beginning of another lifestyle change. We may not end up 100% animal free, but those items are not necessary to eat things that taste good.

So stay tuned.

And now that I've gone on and on, I'm going to have to save the rest of my thoughts til later.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 18

Lots of opportunity to eat not-so clean this weekend.

We had a tea party at church. Full of delectable sounding and smelling desserts and sandwiches.

However, I stuck with the four Vegan friendly items on the menu.

A cup of fruit. Check.

A cup of celery and carrots (and a whole lot of extra carrots as my table mate kept giving me hers.) Check.

Cucumber sandwiches. Classic seasoned cream cheese with a cucumber on top. One of my favorites. And we made the recipe with Vegan Cream Cheese (Soy). My table mate said it was hand's down the best sandwich. So that was all good. And the dang thing was tasty.

The Vegan cookies fooled lots of people and tasted just grand.

I created a dish Saturday night that was super good. I had some sauce leftover because I only cooked half the box of spirals so I adapted it for a casserole on Sunday, too. I was really excited that the sauce kept it's flavor. If you ever eat leftover alfredo or mac and cheese you know what I mean.

At the beginning of our journey I said I had made a Scalloped potato dish that needed tweaked. This sauce will do it. Seriously. The other one was good. But it was made with more Nutritional Yeast and cashews and lemon juice (among other ingredients). So it cost more, too.

This would be fabulous with sauteed mushrooms, too. Rob loved it. So did the girl...and her dogs.

Here is the recipe.

Spring Fling Greenfredo

5 Chopped Green Onions.
10 Chopped Asparagus Spears
1 Minced Clove of Garlic
4 TBSP Soy Free Earth Balance Spread
4 TBSP favorite flour (I used Spelt)
1/3 tsp salt
2 and 1/2 Cups unflavored Almond, oat or soy Milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder.
2 Handfuls of raw spinach leaves (approx 2 jam-packed cups)
1/4 heaping cup of Nutritional Yeast (this is sold in bulk at Whole Foods)(and probably at health food stores. I couldn't find it at my local store that has a healthy/organic food section)(It has a cheesy, almost parmesan-y flavor).
1 - 12 oz Package Eden Organic Kamut Spirals

Put water for pasta on to boil in a saucepan. When the water reaches boil. Add pasta and stir. Then cook for 7-8 minutes.

While pasta boils, in another saucepan melt the Earth Balance spread.

Toss in the minced garlic, the asparagus spears and the green onions. Saute until tender. Approx 2 minutes.

Add the flour and salt and garlic powder and stir. The mixture will become paste-like. Add the milk and stir. When blended toss in the spinach which will wither and cook down. Stir until mixture thickens into an alfredo type sauce. About 3 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Toss in nutritional yeast and stir.

Spoon pasta onto plates. Top with Greenfredo sauce.
Serves about 6.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 15

Oh Snap!

These are tasty!

Found them at Whole Foods, thought we'd give them a try.

Yum. If I don't find the perfect "burger" in my pantry, and in my quest to make the perfect one, I can find something totally satisfying in my freezer.

Cooked them on our cast iron stove top griddle, popped them on buns with avocado slices, alfalfa sprouts and spinach.

Not just any buns. Rudis. Also at Whole Foods (T.J.'s has one or two of their products). These are tasty buns. (We ate the dinner roll version, cut the eggplant burger into smaller portions and had mini-"burgers". I haven't tried the actual full-size buns or bread yet, but we will since the dinner rolls are so tasty. They've got the texture and feel whole grain, but not cardboardy or sawdusty. If you click on the picture you go to their website where there is a $1 off coupon.

Nice that we are finding products that are something we can keep on hand for those nights where we just couldn't find the creativity to think ahead. And when the alternative is oatmeal for dinner, or a smoothie. Or when the thoughts of Applebees dance through our heads.

Cooking and creating is fun. Lots of fun. But finding something in the freezer that we feel good about eating is terrific, too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 14

We tried this recipe last night. Some of the comments are helpful and interesting, too.

Over coconut ice cream (not the mouth feel of the real deal, but works when you've got a wicked bad ice cream craving - kind of fudgsicle texture). We used Almond Milk though. It was a nice treat. Creamy. Decadent.

Rob shared that now that he's kicked his final bits of plague he's feeling terrific on his new no-animal lifestyle. However, he is looking forward to the kick-off of the Flexitarian part of the experiment. In other words, he is planning for his reentry into eating occasional meat dishes. Told the people he was talking to that he had his first meat meal planned out in his mind. Hmmm. Wonder what it will be. I also wonder if it won't have some kick-him-in-the-head negatives. This stands to be seen.

The TJ's pizza crust was okay. I like Naan as pizza crust way better. So I'm going to have to perfect that Vegan Naan recipe so we can do that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 13

Day 13 delivered a fabulous dinner of Kamut pasta (delicious, didn't taste or feel whole grain. And it's an ancient grain with high protein), the marinara sauce I posted yesterday, topped with sauteed mushrooms, spinach and zucchini. Garlic bread (a dribble of Olive Oil, a smear of Earth Balance and Garlic in whichever format you prefer spread over lengthwise split Italian bread and broiled.) Tasty salads. Yum.

We made enough sauteed veggies for pizza tomorrow, too, and with the leftover sauce, pizza will be easy breezy. We are going to try the Trader Joe's $.99 whole wheat pizza crust. I made a bunch of "meat" balls last week that aren't quite ready to share with you. But decent enough for tonight's pasta and tomorrow's pizza. (It is my goal, over the next couple of weeks, to tweak/create/find the perfect "meat"loaf recipe that works as burgers and "meat"balls, too.

We've found a cheese we really like, too. Dayia. It doesn't taste amazing just out of the bag, but it melts well and tastes good. Not cheap, about $5 for 8 ounces. But we use less and get the taste and feel of cheese, not a thick, melty layer. (If you put this on your list, know that you need to use it once you open it. Within days. We open it and place it in 1/2 cup portions in small bags and freeze it.

This adventure is turning out to be less painful and more pleasant than I expected. I really thought I would feel very, very deprived. We are training our taste buds. Some training is not so pleasant....I guess it's a lot like Jillian Michaels' Shred at 5:30 in the morning. So good to know I'm making that choice to do something great for myself but i sure don't like it. But. The thrill of mastering a move, or having done the workout bright and early thereby starting my day off right feels fine. And knowing that the food choices that we are making are good for our bodies is kind of the same. And finding a recipe or item that tastes great is a yippee moment.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 12

I don't have a lot of exciting things to report on Day 12. I'm working out plot details in my sleep. Trying to think like my character. That's a good thing.

My do-it-yourself water kefir kit seems to have worked. I found a website that said I could train milk kefir grains to adapt to water/sugar so I could make my own sugar-free "soda". I'm on my second batch and the first one was tolerable...took awhile...thought I killed the grains but I think I'm cooking with gas now. Literally. : )

I saw a tree full of hawks? Vultures? on my way to work yesterday. Something creepy about multiple carrion eating, massive birds in a tree, especially a tree hovering right over a day care center. Shudder.

Dinner was so-so last night. Used up some leftovers. But here's an easy and light but tasty spaghetti sauce that is getting raves.

Marinara Sauce

1 Large can chopped tomatoes (not huge as in Sam's/Costco sized but like the 20-28 ounceish size)
1 Tomato paste (small can)
Dump into crock pot. Add 1 and 1/2 Tomato Paste cans of HOT water (and stir to get all the tomato out).
Add 1 and 1/2 tsps (approx) Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon (approx) Granulated Garlic (or powder or 2 0r 3 minced cloves)

On low for 4 or more hours to let the flavors marry. Even better if put together the night before. I added the basil to the one that got the raves.

Additions. Chopped Black and Green olives. Fresh Basil. Chopped Garlic. Mushrooms, green or red peppers.

I have had a few questions about Veganism directed toward me. I'm stewing those thoughts, too. And will comment later when something forms.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 11

Lots of activity over the weekend. Lots of food trials and errors and a few successes like Asian night and "meat"balls. Another coconut kefir lover won over. (Remember, kefir is the less scary, and much more socially acceptable first cousin to THE MOTHER of all teas.)

A birthday party with veggies and fruit and that made the fudgy cake not so difficult to pass up.

And a family party where these cookies drew raves and requests for the recipe and disappeared like ice cubes spilled on a parking lot on a 98 degree day. Of course, as pointed out, these cookies are in no way "diet" cookies. Good thing this Vegan adventure is not about counting calories.

Orange Cranberry Pecan Coconut Cookies

1 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Sugar
Zest of one small orange. (zest before juicing)
Juice of one small orange
1 Cup chopped nuts of choice
2 and 1/4 Cups flour (I used King Arthur, unbleached and Oat flour blend)
1/2 to 3/4 Cup of dried cranberries

Set oven to 350. Blend coconut oil and sugar until mixed. Add zest and juice. Mix. Add flour, stir. Add nuts and cranberries. Roll into small balls, or use small cookie scoop. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 350 oven for 11 minutes. These are really fragile when they come out of the oven. Loosen and let sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes. Then place on rack or plate, let cool and then store them in the fridge.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan ...8

Dinner was SUPER delicious last night. Way better than the picture.

The details...

Mushroom Onion Scrambled Tofu

1 Pkge firm or extra firm Tofu, drained, and patted dry. 12 to 14 ish ounces.
1 Onion chopped
3 Cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz of sliced mushrooms (approx)
1/2 Cup chopped frozen or fresh red, green, yellow, or combination of all of them, peppers
2 - 3 TBSP sundried tomatoes
1 tsp onion or garlic powder (or use onion or garlic salt and skip the salt below).
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp tumeric (this is for the color...if you don't have tumeric you could use curry)

In a large frying pan or on a griddle, place a dollop of olive or canola oil. Heat and add the onions, garlic, peppers. When they begin to shrink, toss in the mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. When mushrooms cook down a bit, slide the veggies to one side of the pan. Lay the tofu in the pan. Sprinkle it with the tumeric, salt, garlic or onion powder (or garlic or onion salt, skip the salt). Begin "chopping" the tofu and the spices into it, thoroughly working the yellow throughout the tofu.

That's it. You can either keep the veggies to the side or mix it all in together.

The Blueberry Lemon Waffles are AMAZING, too. Here's the link.

We made the following changes.

For the dry ingredients we used a Vegan pancake mix. (2 cups)

The wet ingredients were only 2/3 Cup of plain non-dairy yogurt (couldn't find blueberry).
1 1/3 cup almond milk,
No water, no oil.

SUPER fabulous.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 7

Okay meatloaf fans. Here's the scoop.

I looked at seven different "meat"loaf recipes. There was something I didn't like in each of them so I combined the best each had to offer in measurements that seemed to be consistent. Here's what I came up with. And the parenthesis will be things I'll be changing in my next batch and why.


1 Cup Black Beans (or half a can, mostly drained)
1/2 Cup Mushrooms
1 Carrot. (Next Time: I will chop the tip off and dice in tiny bits, then toss the remainder in the processor)
3 Garlic Cloves (Next Time: 4)
1 Cup Brown Rice (also Next Time, I will add an additional 1/3 cup rice)
1 tsp soy sauce or Br
agg's Liquid Aminos (Next Time: 2 tsp)
1 TBSP Lemon Juice
1/3 tsp dried celery
1/2 tsp salt (Next Time 1 tsp)
3 TBSP chopped onion (Next Time: 4 TBSP)
2 TBSP ground flax seed, in 1 cup of water, let sit for 10 minutes. (Next Time I will use 1 Cup of salsa or 1 Cup of pasta sauce).(This is a binder and replaces eggs)
2 TBSP of sun dried tomatoes (Next Time: 3 TBSP or Kalamata olives).
1/4 Cup favorite nuts

Blend in a bl
ender or food processor but not too much. A few whirs will do.
Add 1 tsp dried parsley (Next Time Cilantro if using salsa, or Italian seasoning if I use pasta sauce.)
Add the additional 1/3 cup rice
And 1 Cup Old-Fashioned oatmeal (1/4 additional Oatmeal)
And add the carrot bits.

Grease a loaf pan. Place the contents in the pan. Bake at 350 for approx 45 minutes.

The texture of my trial loaf was a little too blended. I think the additional rice, oatmeal and carrot bits, and a lighter blending touch will help.
The taste was pretty bland. Goodish, but bland. So I will increase the flavor quotient. It was pretty easy. Lots of ingredients. But once I am satisfied with the results it will be easier to throw together.

And, Kim, I so didn't take any comments of yours as snarky. I know I tend toward crazy. And this is the new crazy trip we have embarked upon. Glad you are enjoying the ride. And who knows, you may develop a hankering for Booger Tea. wink. wink.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 6

Day 6 into my 21 Day Project. Writing/Editing every day on my co-written mystery. So far I've written three scenes and have edited each of them. I've also thought ahead a bit about what will be happening to bring the skeletal plot to life. I've been reading the first several chapters out loud, looking for glaring issues.

I can't say I'm having "fun" with this. I'm enjoying parts of it. I like putting my thoughts down in coherent word pictures that are supposed to evoke some sense or other. And when something I've written survives multiple edits and still makes me see, hear, smell or taste what I was describing...well, that's pretty cool. Especially since the co-writer is a ruthless editor. She loves to murder darlings. Lives for it, actually. : )

Day 6 Vegan = will usher in my first attempt at Vegan meatloaf. I'm not a meatloaf fan. So this could be interesting. I think I don't like it because I've chomped into things that I've not been able to chew and had to hide in my napkin. Oh, and the ketchup frosting always gives me pause. However, I'm thinking a bean/mushroom/nut/oat meatloaf might be delicious. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles Thirty Day Vegan...Day 5

Xta has asked for more info. And Kim has thrown down the dreaded gauntlet-like..."you aren't making Veganism appealing what with the BOOGER tea...." or some such comment that was worded better and with less sarcasm.

Ladies, sit back whilst I blather a bit.

Veganism, boiled down is this (and this is my understanding, no doubt someone may quibble) you don't eat stuff that comes from things with faces or with mothers. (Not to be confused with MOTHER i.e. the Booger tea).

So. Meat, dairy products including milk, eggs, butter, cheese, etc. and honey are no-no's in the Vegan lifestyle. And Vegan is a lifestyle not a diet. Most people choose to be Vegan out of respect for the creatures whom others eat or harass for food. I bought a Vegan cookbook at a thrift store and later went online to see the reviews. While paging through the book I was surprised to see fish recipes but shrugged it off. The reviewers DID NOT. The reviewers were NOT AMUSED. And it gave me another layer of how seriously folks take this lifestyle.

We, however, are maybe better called....hmmm... well, click here and you can see all the options. I guess we'll go with Strict vegetarian (or Pure Vegetarian) when it is all said and done. When our month of Pure Vegetarian eating is finished. We will proudly call ourselves flexitarians.

Our goal is to try and to explore the benefits of being as animal by-product free as possible to see what difference it makes in our lives. When the next month rolls around and we are faced with graduation parties and wedding season, none of us are going to laser stink-eye holes through each other if we succumb to wedding cake. Our digestive tracts may punish us enough. I, personally, think I will remain pretty much meat and dairy free. Once I find the magic balance of plant proteins and am able to make items that taste delicious (to me) I really will have no reason to go back.

The cake thing is that there is likely butter, eggs and or/milk in the cake or frosting. Rumor has it (I've heard but not looked for myself) that Oreos and Fritos are Vegan i.e. made with non-animal products. This doesn't necessarily fit the goal we are going for. : ). Kind of like the guy who got his stomach stapled and lost 200 lbs and lived off Coke and Cheetos because he only had so much room in his tummy pocket, and he didn't want to fill that pocket up with anything but those two little vices he'd grown to love.

As far as Booger Tea, Kim. That's just an extra bonus activity. That falls into the category of fermentation. Which is one we've barely looked into but are intrigued with, it's up there with raw. Both have terrific benefits but are also things that will take a lot of work and time to look into. In the interim it makes for a great ice breaker though (and fun to write blog posts). Really. And I have to admit that the gross out factor is way fun for me. And as crazy as it sounds, I kind of like the shot of Booger Tea to start my day. Gluten free and Paleo eating are items I've run across that I'd like to explore a bit more, too. And then there is the word macrobiotic which I've seen pop up and don't have the first clue about....

As for what we ate today. I ignored a lot of junk at the office and felt good about being a good girl and snacking on my orange, salad and leftover pizza.

Tonight I made potato casserole (pictured) with organic potatoes, artichokes, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and a little quinoa covered in a bubbly "cheese sauce." The "cheese sauce" was made of cashews, water, lemon juice and nutritional yeast. I need to tweak it a bit and will post the recipe when I get the creation to the taste and texture I'm happy with. (I didn't think the potatoes were soft enough and it was tangy enough that I think I need to add less lemon juice.) Rob and 24 loved it....and I liked it quite a bit....but...there are a few tweaks I need to make before I post the recipe.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thirty Day Vegan...Day 4

Four days Vegan and I have no issues with feeling deprived.

My poor husband has
had the flu, so no doubt, the only deprivation he's feeling is the three days he lost to his personal plague. It was cute because he'd come out of his feverish fog and stumble around for food other than what we had for meals and actually ask if said item was on the approved list. So he managed to be a Vegan Zombie over the weekend.

The birthday part
ies were cake. (or cake-free in our case.) 24 and I left the sick man home and attended. But first we ate lunch at home. I carried Larabars in my purse in case someone needed to pull me back from the edge.

We have a menu for this week. And a plan. I'll tell you, I'm looking forward to Farmer's Market season, though. And am so glad Trader Joe's came to the metro area. You might want to buy stock if you are looking to invest in a company bec
ause I'm probably singlehandedly keeping them in the black.

Today we had Vegan Naan Quinoa pizza. I need to tweak the recipe for the Naan and will post that when I get the buggar perfected.

I also have been working on my manuscript like a good girl. Three days in I've written or rewritten two scenes and edited a few more. Nice feeling of accomplishment.

And we unearthed
the Kombucha. And unearth is a good word because this little nasty mother is other-worldly. The Kombucha tastes fine....think raspberry vinegar shots and you'll have a good idea of what we are drinking. If Rob ends up on antibiotics then his body will thank him for the extra Kombucha probiotics. The Kombucha mother is, seriously, one of the most disgusting things I have ever encountered. It is solid and gelatinous and waves from the big glass jar as it eats the sugar in the tea preparing another batch.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Vegan Scrambles Day 1

had a few moments of Vegan-deadline panic last night.

I am content to eat oatmeal for dinner. My husband has not really ever been that kind of guy. So I always had a few tricks up my sleeve. Since I'm generally okay with no meat on my plate I could cook up something for him and whichever of the meat-eating kids who happened to be here to scarf down and make dinner for myself and/or the non-meat lover kid out of the sides. And I had a habit of planning ahead. When meat was on sale I'd grab several pounds and prepare it then freeze it in dinner size portions. So I almost always had a plan A or plan B that kept everyone fed...not gourmet style...but without the need to rely on hunger-induced fast food runs. The kids also helped out by learning to cook and survive on what was available. I'll never forget my hero, Toad-Boy the Leftover Annihilator, and 19's omelet-in-a-bag phase.

Tonight Rob came home wondering what the "last meal" would be and I palpitated. Since it was last meal it should be special, and I was thinking functional and getting the leftovers gone. Oops.

He ended up feasting on the last three eggs in the house and two slices of leftover venison pizza (I know...uck). And the refrigerator is looking "out of my comfort zone" empty. Now what? So I spent a decent portion of after "dinner" surfing for meat-style vegan recipes for the weekend and feeling not at all prepared for this big task. Oy. I did make, portion out, and freeze a big batch of quinoa for quick meal options. And brown rice is cooking as I type this. The brownie recipe I tried seemed like it should be fabulous. But when the banana flavor overshadows the coffee and chocolate it might be a recipe to rethink.

And then was the issue of cookbook and recipe reviews which are conflicting at best.

How is my husband going to deal with the "hamburger" substitutes I dish up to him til we find a winner. The turkey/green apple burgers didn't go over well when we began our trek toward healthier eating...could a bean or mushroom burger actually win him over?

This quandary will test his motivation and stick-with-it skills. And my kitchen skills to the maximum.