Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Every Little Bit Counts

"I celebrate everyone who makes steps toward a cruelty-free lifestyle, whether they are vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or even eat meat sparingly. Every bit counts." - Melissa Morgan, Vegan Baker

Whether you're saving the environment by eating organically/ethically, reducing animal cruelty, or improving your health by incorporating more vegetables, every little bit counts. It's discouraging to see so many all-or-nothing messages about vegetarianism. It's okay not to be perfectly vegetarian, especially when you're starting out and aren't sure what to eat. Just keep trying new things. Every little bit counts.

Click Here to read the VegNews article.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Meatless Monday: Garden Fresh

Summer has turned into a hiatus from recipe writing and for good reason. Everyone has been giving me grocery bags full of home grown, garden fresh vegetables all summer long. Just this afternoon I got a bag of squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and green beans. Home grown vegetables are so much more flavorful than what we typically find at the grocery store so rather than cooking I've been sprinkling home grown tomatoes and cucumbers with a little sea salt or eating green beans and new potatoes fresh from the pressure cooker.

Lima beans are a perfect example of the difference between home grown and store bought veggies. Garden-fresh limas taste rich and buttery - a bit like a buttered potato. Store bought lima beans taste...well...mealy and mushy by comparison. If you're new to vegetables. (Yes, some people grow up without eating vegetables) I highly recommend stopping by your nearest farmers market and trying veggies you may have previously overlooked.

The other reason I've taken a recipe writing hiatus? My dining room looks like this:

The Great Built-In Cabinet Project of 2013

Although garden fresh veggies are a much better excuse than a trashed dining room.

Monday, July 29, 2013

No-Crab (Vegan) Rangoons

Crab rangoons were one of my favorite Chinese restaurant treats prior to going vegetarian. I have no idea if rangoons are in any way authentically Chinese, however. I wanted to create a vegan version of this favorite for the Chinese New Year themed potluck I held a few months ago. Vegan wonton wrappers can be difficult to find. I found mine at a local Asian food store. Most wonton wrappers contain a small amount of egg. Both the typical and egg-free varieties freeze well so vegans, stock up when you find the egg-free variety.

No-Crab (Vegan) Rangoons
1 container of Tofutti brand cream cheese
1t sugar
1/2t garlic powder
2t lemon juice
3 scallions, diced
24 wonton wrappers
olive oil spray

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-large bowl combine all ingredients (except the wonton wrappers and oil spray of course).

2. Spoon 1t of filling into each of the wonton wrappers like so:
I use 2 spoons. 1 to scoop the filling and another to scoot the filling into the wonton wrapper. 

3. Fold the wonton wrappers like this:
Bring 2 flat sides of the wrapper together and pinch.
Bring the remaining 2 flat sides together and pinch.
Poof! You have a fancy looking rangoon there.

4. Place the folded wontons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spray lightly with olive oil. Spraying (or brushing) with olive oil helps the rangoons stay crispy rather than becoming tough and dry while baking
Note the lack of parchment paper in the photo below. 
Don't make the same mistake. 
Parchment paper is your friend and will keep the rangoons from sticking to the baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the edges of the rangoons are golden brown.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lebanese Lentil Stew

Lebanese Lentil Stew
For most in the northern hemisphere, it may be too hot outside to consider this savory, tangy stew for dinner. However here in Roanoke, VA we've had one rainy day after another. With lots of time indoors and cloudy skies causing cooler temperatures, this stew hit the spot.

Lebanese Lentil Stew

2C lentils (the type of lentil found in bags in most American grocery stores)
9C water
2 medium potatoes, diced into cubes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2-4T olive oil 
2t citric acid (found in the canning or spice section)
1-2t salt to taste
1t pepper
1T dried mint

1 - Wash and drain lentils because eating dirt or tiny stones is bad news.
2 - Add lentils and water to a large pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (or until lentils are soft) stirring occasionally.
3 - Add the diced potatoes, salt, pepper, mint, and citric acid. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes (or until the potatoes are soft) stirring occasionally.
4- After adding the potatoes, add 2-4T of olive oil to a medium frying pan and fry the diced onion to a golden/medium brown.
5. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, stir the onion into the stew.

The desired color of the onion in question.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Not-Food Friday: Where Have I Been?

Let's see...Where have I been?  Philadelphia, Washington DC, and working on my house in addition to taking care of the animal herd and holding down the fort at work.

Today's Not-Food Friday is brought to you be the pets I've been pet sitting during my hiatus. Basque in their adorableness:

Jango the German Shepherd mix puppy. So silly. He's laying across my purse in this picture.

Azreal the naughty escape artist ninja kitty who is in love with my hair.

I also celebrated my 31st birthday. (And, no, I do not mind admitting my age.) Two of the highlights were this nifty ice cream cake from the boyfriend and my 2 favorite kids and these tasty local chocolates from the owners of Hellow Yellow.
Ice cream cake time!

Amazing local chocolates from Baylee's
What have you been up to during my hiatus?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Culinary Highlights from a Madison, WI Business Trip

What I have been up to lately? A better question is what have I NOT been up to. Business trips, lawn projects, and home repair...Oh my!  All this hasn't left me much time in the kitchen, but hey, I guess it goes to show that I am a normal person with a busy schedule just like most of you. 

Here are some culinary highlights from my recent business trip to Madison, WI:

Rest assured it is tastier than it looks in this photo discreetly snapped at the table with an iPhone.
If you're ever in an area with a HuHot, I highly recommend stopping in. It's a Mongolian grill style restaurant where you pick your dish and sauce then your dish is grilled by spatula flipping stir fry artists. It's definitely child and vegan friendly. 

Brennan's Market

Sierra Soups Mix...I also should have snapped a photo of the fancy cheeses. You know what they say about hindsight...

Anyway, Brennan's Market is a pretty cool place for lacto-vegetarians to pick up some delicious, local, specialty cheeses. Although I don't consume vast quantities of cheese myself, I picked up quite a bit to take home to my boyfriend and his kids. Everyone has enjoyed the 5yr aged cheddar and the adults enjoyed the chipotle jack.

For the vegans, Brennan's offers Sierra Soups mixes which are also largely allergen free.

Please visit the TSA's guidelines before making your cheese selection. Soft cheeses are prohibited...I guess people could hide things in the cheese??? Not sure on that one. Also be prepared to whip out your cheese during the screening process. It will typically be run through the xray machine separately.

Wicker Park inside the Chicago Airport

It's really quite challenging to take a good picture of sushi with a phone in an airport.

I had a really REALLY long layover on the way home. (Something like 4hrs of roaming the airport). With time to burn, my business associate and I decided to have a relaxed sushi lunch at Wicker Park. "Sushi" refers to the roll rather than the raw (or cooked) fish typically incorporated into the roll. In my experience, veggie rolls are available at most sushi restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised by this vegetarian roll which offers an array of different veggies (in addition to the usual cucumber and avocado) and a tender bright green soy wrapper instead of the traditional seaweed wrapper. Surprisingly tasty find for airport fare.

Other highlights from the trip:

This giant banana, made of bottle caps, designed to be ridden.
A banana...made of bottle caps...that can be ridden.

Flying over the great lakes
Gorgeous view
Discovering that most everything in WI is still frozen in April

I did not walk across the ice because showing up to meetings soaking wet is typically frowned upon.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Grocery Store Lo Mein

Last week, I was in the mood for lo mein. It seems everyone else in my neighborhood had the same idea because the grocery store was sold out of almost everything I had planned on adding to the dish.  Good thing I just make stuff up as a go along.

Here's what I came up with given the extremely limited selection at the grocery store:

Grocery Store Lo Mein

Grocery Store LoMein
4 Shiitake Mushrooms, cut into match sticks
4 Green Onions, diced
1 Red Pepper, cut into match sticks
1 large handful angel hair (finely shredded) Cabbage
1 package of Spaghetti Noodles
1" ginger root, peeled and shredded
1/2C Soy Sauce
1T Sesame Oil
1T Vegetable Oil
1/2t Red Pepper Flakes

Assorted veggies prepped and ready to cook.

Step 1: Cook spaghetti noodles according to the package directions. Drain the water from the noodles, put 1T of sesame oil in the bottom of the pot used to cook the noodles, add the drained noodles back to the pot and stir. This keeps the noodles from sticking together.

Step 2: Break out the wok. That's right. A wok. I have an electric wok and it is the most useful kitchen gadget ever invented. (I'll extol the virtues of woks another day.)  Heat the wok to 350 degrees, add 1T of vegetable oil and shredded ginger. Stir fry the ginger until it begins to brown around the edges.  (About 5 minutes)

Step 3:  Next, add a large handful of shredded cabbage, and the red pepper cut into match sticks. Stir fry until the peppers start to soften just a little. (About 3 minutes)
The Wok: Most useful kitchen gadget ever.
Step 4: Add Noodles, shiitake mushooms, 1/2C soy sauce, 1/2t red pepper flakes, and green onions. Stir fry for another 3-5 minutes so the noodles are evenly coated with soy sauce and red pepper flakes.

MMMM. Lo Mein.
Also, I need some new props for food photography.