What a weekend!

May 26, 2008 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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We had a really great Memorial Day weekend! M. and A. were here visiting us, and it was so great to see them! We did a lot of fun touristy stuff, and ate a lot of really great food. The highlight of the whole weekend, in my opinion, was the incredibly delicious meal that A. cooked for us last night. I have to say, for not being vegan himself, A. cooked the most delicious vegan meal I have ever eaten! He started the meal off with a pureed vegetable soup, that included sweet potatoes, beets, onions, potatoes, acorn squash, some balsamic vinegar, oregano, dill, sage, and soy yogurt. The flavor was really intense, smoky, and dramatic, just like the color. It was amazing!!

The main course was lentils topped with Thai green curry-flavored vegetables (carrots, chickpeas, beet greens, beet stems, kale, onion, and 1/2 an apple). It was so filling and satisfying!

That day I also made the No-Bake Chocolate Peanut-Butter Pie from The Joy of Vegan Baking. It turned out great! I topped it with strawberries and chocolate chips.

On Saturday, we went to San Francisco, and ate at The Herbivore. I love that place! We had a great time; the food was excellent (although the service was a bit slow… we waited about 15 minutes for our dessert). I ordered the shawarma, with added potatoes and eggplants. It was delicious; I loved the combination of flavors (hummus, hot sauce, pickles, and tahini). And the salad that came with it was delicious too; the shredded beet was a nice touch.

M. and A. each ordered the Coconut Noodle Soup, and they eached finished the entire bowl! (The portion size is not clear in the picture, but it was a very large serving of soup.)

Scott ordered the Potato-Soy PIe, and he cleaned his plate too!

For dessert, we shared the mudslide vegan ice cream, and a chocolate cupcake. They were both definite winners; the ice cream was really luscious, creamy, and had a wonderful coconut hint that complemented the chocolate.

The chocolate cupcake was great too. The frosting was really rich, and Scott commented that when he was a kid he would only eat the frosting on the cupcakes (discarding the cake). I, however, would scoop off the frosting and only eat the cake!

Finally, one more picture! Scott and I often go to our favorite coffee shop on weekends; they serve wonderful coffee and breakfast panini. I love to get this sandwich: a veggie melt (adapted to be vegan by omitting the cheese and mayo, but adding dijon mustard) with lettuce, tomato, sprouts, onion, and guacamole, on multigrain bread, with a side of fruit. It’s a very healthy lunch (or breakfast)!

So, I had a really great weekend, and enjoyed lots of delicious meals. It was so much fun to be able to share such good meals with such wonderful people; I enjoyed M. and A.’s visit so much; it was great to see them and share some good food with them!

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Eating Out

May 24, 2008 at 7:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This week was our anniversary, so we went out for a nice meal! We went to our favorite pasta place, and had a great time. We shared an appetizer– grilled portobello mushrooms with olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, and garlic.

For my entree, I had gnocchi in a tomato garlic sauce. It was delicious! I love gnocchi, and this sauce had a really intense garlic flavor (which I loved!).

Scott ordered a vegetarian dish, the eggplant parmesan. He really enjoyed it!

And, this weekend, my brother and his partner are here visiting us! It’s the first time I’ve seen them in a long time, so I’m really excited that they’re here! We went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant last night, and had a great time. I had been to this restaurant several times before I became vegetarian (and then vegan), but haven’t been back since, convinced that I wouldn’t be able to eat anything on the menu. I was really glad we went, though, because there were at least two items on the menu that could easily be adapted to be vegan! There was a vegetarian burrito (beans, rice, salsa, avocado, cheese), which could be made vegan by leaving out the cheese. However, I ordered the crispy potato tacos. They came with beans and rice (not cooked in lard; I asked!). The tacos were filled with a potato-salsa mixture, and I requested no cheese/sour cream. They were topped with avocado, tomato, and cabbage. It was really good!

May 19, 2008 at 11:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First of all, thanks very much to Robin of Vegan Planet for giving me an honorable mention in her couscous cake contest!! I feel honored! The other couscous cakes look really amazing, and I can’t wait to try those recipes!

This past week has been kind of busy, and I have eaten out several days in a row. When I first became vegan, I thought that it would be incredibly difficult to eat out, but I’ve learned that it’s easier than I thought– you just have to know where to go. Some places it’s easier than others (I’ve been stuck in some kind of remote places recently where the only good option was a veggie delite sandwich at Subway), but it’s actually pretty easy when you can go to either Chinese, Mexican, Indian, or Thai restuarants. Just make sure to ask for vegetarian beans (and no cheese), and ask the server to hold any fish sauce, butter, or other animal-based ingredient that might be added to veggie dishes.

I’ve gotten used to being vigilant about what I eat, and scouring the menu for appropriate food items. So, I was thrilled this week when, at an Indian restuarant, I found a “Vegan Thali” (large platter) on the menu!! I think this was the first time I’ve ever come across a dish specifically labeled as vegan, in a non-vegan restaurant. I was ecstatic! And, it was incredibly delicious: rice, bread, vegetable dumplings and potato fritters (sorry, I don’t know the correct Indian word!), chickpea curry, broccoli and potatoes, some dipping sauces and chutney. It was so delicious! Of course, the plate was huge, so I had leftovers for lunch the next day.

Scott ordered a vegetarian dish, the Mushroom Vindaloo.

I hope to be able to do more cooking this week. It’s been really hot here in Northern CA, so I’m hoping to buy an ice cream maker and try some recipes for vegan ice cream that I’ve seen on other blogs/forums. So hopefully I’ll have some more recipes and pictures to share later this week!

Shitake Lasagna

May 15, 2008 at 9:21 am | Posted in Vegan Recipes | 6 Comments
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The other night I made up a shitake lasagna! It was delicious; it was a slightly less tomato-y version and slightly more mushroom-y. Different, but good! To start with, I didn’t have any tomato sauce, but, still determined to make lasagna, I used a Progresso tomato-basil soup as the sauce (which appears to be vegan). Also, I saved the reserved liquid from rehydrating the mushrooms, and added it to the soup, which gave the lasagna noodles a dark, mushroomy taste. It was good! I also made up a mock ricotta, using the “herb-chive” flavor of Tofutti, mixed with ground walnuts, nutritional yeast, and vinegar. (I got this idea from a recipe for vegan parmesan– walnuts and nutritional yeast– that I saw somewhere, but I can’t remember where.)

Shitake Lasagna

1 box lasagna noodles
1 bag of dry shitake mushrooms
2-3 tbsp. red wine (optional)
1 carrot
1/2 green pepper
1 box of frozen spinach
1/3 of a small container of Tofutti “herb and chive” flavored mock cream cheese
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vinegar
1 19-oz. can tomato-basil soup (I used Progresso… you could also use regular tomato sauce)
the reserved water from rehydrating the mushrooms

Directions:
First, rehydrate the mushrooms: rinse them, and then simmer them in water on medium heat for about 20-25 minutes, until they’re soft. (I actually also added about 2 tbsp. of red wine to the water, to give it even more flavor.) Then drain the mushrooms, reserving the water.

Make the mock ricotta: grind the nutritional yeast and the walnuts together in a coffee grinder. Mix in the salt and sage. Spoon the tofutti into a bowl, and mix with the vinegar. Then stir the walnut-nutritional yeast mixture into the Tofutti (leaving out about 2 tsp of the walnut mixture for the top of the lasagna), and mix thoroughly.

Slice the mushrooms, carrots, and peppers, and cook the frozen spinach. Preheat the oven to 375.

In a casserole dish, spread a few spoonfuls of the soup (or tomato sauce.) Layer lasagna noodles on top. Then spread some veggies on top of the noodles, and spread some of the tofutti mixture over the veggies. Cover with some of the tomato sauce, and keep repeating until everything is used up (either mix the soup and the mushroom broth together to pour over the layers, or alternate the tomato soup and the mushroom broth). On the top layer of noodles, spread more sauce and then top with the reserved nutritional yeast-walnut mixture.

Bake at 375 for one hour, covered with aluminum foil.

Traveling

May 13, 2008 at 11:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I was on the road several days last week, and I ended up eating a lot of not-so-great meals, as well as some surprisingly good meals. Some days I decided to just hold myself over on a granola bar and juice for lunch until I got home, and some days I stopped at a Subway for a veggie delite and chips. There wasn’t much choice other than that, sadly! I did, however, find a Mongolian BBQ place that was great! I ate there twice last week. You load up a bowl with whatever veggies and noodles you want, choose your own cooking oils/sauces, and they cook it for you on the grill. They even had tofu! Some vegetarians and vegans, I’m sure, would object to eating food that’s cooked on the same grill as meat (and I usually would feel that way too), but this was something I was willing to live with, at least this time. They kept the grill clean in between uses, and at least I knew exactly what was in my meal.

Another story entirely is my experience driving. I drove on Highway 99 several hours, and it was so incredibly sad. I called Scott several times, in tears; there were cattle feed lots all along the highway. I constantly passed trucks carrying cows, and also saw the empty trucks returning. There’s just no way to be happy when you see that. Scott comforted me by reminding me that I’m doing my part by being vegan, and that he hasn’t eaten beef in over a month now (ever since he saw the videos of mistreatment of cows on the news recently). I know that animals are used for food, and I know that I’m taking my stand against it by being vegan, but it still makes me so sad when I see the animals in trucks. I think that if more people saw the animals before they reach their plates, they would think twice about eating meat.

But, anyways, I made myself a light, yummy lunch yesterday. I had a marinated mushroom and radish sprout sandwich on ciabatta bread, with vegenaise, lightly fried in walnut oil. I also had a smoothie with a banana, strawberries, cherries, hemp-seed milk, pineapple-coconut juice, and 2 kale leaves. It was delicious!

Then, I took some time yesterday afternoon to take some pictures of the flowers in my yard. Appreciating nature helped me feel better after my sad experiences on the road last week! Here is a hollyhock that is finally blooming! I planted a bunch of seeds indoors about a year and a half ago, and then transplanted the plants into the yard last summer, and they are finally blooming! This one is about four and a half feet tall! I love the colors!

A flowering tree:

And, this is my favorite– the orange tree! You can see the little tiny oranges starting to form where the flowers were. So neat!

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