Split Pea and Barley Stew   Leave a comment

This weekend I bought Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker: 200 Ultra-Convenient, Super-Tasty, Completely Animal-Free Recipes by Robin Robertson.

I am so excited to add this book to my collection. I will continue to post as I make my way through all of the recipes, such as Spicy Tomato Queso Dip, Slow Cooker Pho, and Wine Braised Seitan with Cremini Mushrooms.

On to the meal:

Wow! I am impressed.

This Split Pea and Barley Stew was fantastic! But don’t take my word for it, my omni friends, P, PRT, and T all raved as well.

So, this stew was actually made by my awesome partner, T. He used yellow split peas, instead of green. It doesn’t define which to use in the recipe, and since we had yellow that’s what was used. I am so glad, because the yellow color really stood out against the deep red of the tomato sauce and the vibrant orange of sweet potato and carrot.

The recipe calls for 1.5 lbs sweet potatoes, but here we used 1 lb. sweet potato and .5 lb. red potato. I think T also doubled (or tripled) the herbs/spices.

I topped it with Tofutti brand Better Than Sour Cream, some avocado slices, and toast. YUM! I brought a bowl of it to work for lunch, and added 1/3 C of some cooked spelt. Delicious, again.

A special thanks to my partner for making me some awesome dinner.

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20 Minute Breakfast Noms   Leave a comment

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After a long day of hanging with friends (aka moderate drinking, slight hooliganism) I need some easy and delicious replenishments. I like to model my meals after the Harvard Healthy Plate. This breakfast is easy, nutritious, and tastes awesome!

Tools:
Small sauce pan
Medium size frying pan
Toaster oven
Spatula
Plate and fork

Ingredients:
1/2 c quinoa (makes 3 servings, we’ll use one in this recipe)
1.5 c Easiest Vegetable Broth
1 Yukon Gold Potato
1/4 c sliced crookneck squash
1/4 c sliced carrot
2 large monterey mushrooms
1/2 shallot
handful of spinach
1/2 cup cooked (or rinsed, canned) adzuki beans
2.5 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
shoyu, to taste

1. Wash your hands!
2. Clean vegetables
3. Prick holes in potato with a fork. Add to toaster oven and bake at 425 for 20 minutes.
4. Add quinoa and vegetable broth to sauce pan, cover. Heat on medium high to boiling (about seven minutes), then turn heat down to medium. (Total cooking time is approximately 15 minutes. Remove the cover after 10.)
5. Add sesame oil to frying pan, heat on medium. Add onion and cook for one minute. Add mushrooms and cook for two minutes. Add carrots and squash, cook 3.5 minutes. Add spinach and beans and cook two more minutes.
6. Deglaze the pan with rice vinegar.
7. Add veggies and beans to plate.
8. Add 1/2 cup quinoa to plate.
9. Add 1/2 potato to plate.
10. Drizzle with olive oil and shoyu.
11. Eat!!

I took one serving of quinoa (1/2 cup) and half of the potato and mixed them together with a little Earth Balance and shoyu for my partner who was experiencing symptoms concurrent with a hangover. He ate it all right quick.

The extra serving of quinoa I put in a small rubbermaid and put it in the fridge.

4.5 tablespoons of oil is kind of a lot, but I love the mouth feel that oil adds. Add less if you cutting calories. But remember if you’re on a vegan diet, that it is important to make sure you are getting enough lipids.

Yum!

Posted May 25, 2013 by deeats in Breakfast

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You Can’t Win ‘Em All   Leave a comment

Today, I tried too many new things at once and I learned something. Trying too many new things at once is a bad idea.

I made the amaranth that was in my pantry in a rice cooker. I’ve never had it before. I made it with vegetable broth and it was… okay? I think I need to make some with just plain water so I can understand the taste at it’s most basic. I’ve heard (probably on Reddit, so maybe it’s not true) that you need to try a new food fifteen times before it’s bearable or likable or something. So, maybe I just need to have it a few more times. It was kind of the consistency of porridge and was hoping for something more like quinoa or brown rice.

Then my rice cooker broke.

I also tried my hand at a new peanut sauce. My own recipe. I forgot to add the vinegar and by that time I’d tried to make all these fixes, and…. argh.

It was my first day of school today, so I was pretty exhausted. I really wanted to end my day with something awesome and delicious and what I got was just okay. But, I can’t make every dish a home run or it probably wouldn’t be fun anymore. And I shouldn’t feel bad. Sometimes you try something new and you get burned. You just have to keep trying. Now I’m determined to perfect this elusive peanut sauce, so I can share it with everyone.

Patience is a virtue when trying new recipes, or just cooking for yourself in general.

Posted January 7, 2013 by deeats in Kitchen Disappointments

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Easiest Vegetable Broth   1 comment

When I first started making soups from scratch and buying grains from the bulk bin, I went through a lot of tetra-packed vegetable broth. That got expensive. It’s about $3 for 32 oz., or four cups of broth. This recipe is an easy way to make broth, and take advantage of vegetable scraps you would have otherwise thrown away.

Collecting the scraps is easy as long as you remember to put them in the freezer.
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Take a sharpie and ziploc bag. Write “broth” on the outside of the bag. When you are making meals take the tops, ends, and skins (really any part that you are going to throw away) of celery, carrots, onions, shallots, potatoes, and garlic, and put them in the broth bag. You could try using tomatoes as well, but only the fruit. The leaves and stems will make you sick. There are probably some other vegetables you might like as well. I do not add any vegetables from the Brassicaceae family, because they are bitter, and will make your broth bitter. The Brassicaceae family includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, radishes and many more. I have never used spinach or beet greens, but those are in the Amaranthaceae family and might be okay.

So, when you have some spare time and about 1.5 cups of vegetable scraps you can make your broth. The broth takes less time to make if you chop the vegetables up before freezing them, but it shouldn’t take too long to cut them if you were feeling lazy. You will want to chop the veggies into really tiny pieces. The greater the surface area (the smaller the pieces), the better the broth will taste and the less time it will need to cook. Alternatively, you might try tossing everything in the food processor, but I think this might make straining difficult. I’ll try this next time and add an update.

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After the vegetables are cut, add them to a large sauce pan with 10 cups of water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a roaring boil. Turn the heat to medium and watch three episodes of South Park. My broth cooked for 1 hour, 20 minutes including the time it took for the water to boil. You may or may not need to cook for longer depending on the vegetables you used.

I tried the broth after it had been cooking for 35 minutes and it tasted strongly of celery. Then I tried it at one hour and I could taste the onion it, but it was faint. At 1 hour, 15 minutes I thought it needed just a little longer and it was perfect five minutes later.

You’ll have to taste the broth a few times to get it to a flavor that you like.

Take a strainer and put it inside of a pitcher (can use a bowl, but really not very good for this). Pour the broth from the pan, through the strainer, and into the pitcher. Put the leftover veggies in your compost (or the trash, if you must). Take an empty jar (I use old whiskey bottles, which hold 3 cups of liquid) and put a funnel at the top. Pour the broth from the pitcher into the bottle. Store in your refrigerator. Alternatively, store in your freezer and just take out two nights before you plan to use it, or when you run out. If you plan to freeze it, make sure the bottle is only 2/3-3/4 full.

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In total, this recipe made between five and six cups of broth. I only got five because I used a bowl instead of a pitcher and about a cup spilled all over the counter and the floor. It took about an hour of passive time, and about ten minutes of active time. Really easy, really delicious.

I don’t add salt to my broth. I salt dishes as I cook them. But if you do want to add some, do it at the end, when the flavor is where you want it. Adding salt in the beginning might be deceiving in terms of taste.

____________ UPDATE! February 1, 2013_____________________________
Last weekend I made more vegetable broth. I threw the vegetables in the food processor beforehand, and I’m going to do that from now on, because it didn’t make straining more difficult, and made the flavor even better.

My broth turned out slightly spicy. I’m not positive, but I think it’s because I added carrot greens this time, unlike the time before. Next time I will not add them and see what happens. The spiciness didn’t make the broth bad, it was just an unexpected end note. I guess I’ll have to have a taco night and see if it gives an extra kick to the rice. My rice cooker is still broken so I will try to find soon.

Posted January 6, 2013 by deeats in Soups and Stews

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The Last Saturday – Vegetable Barley Soup   2 comments

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I love soup, therefore I love to make soup. I like to take my time. I am adamant that all the vegetables be cut into roughly the same size – 1/2″ – 3/4″ cubes. This soup took me two hours to make. It doesn’t have to take anyone this long to make soup if you have a fancy vegetable cutter, but if you don’t, it takes time and care to cut up 9-10 cups of vegetables. You can also speed things along by making sure your grains and beans are cooked before you start. I don’t mind. First, I listened to Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. Then I listened to In Rainbows by Radiohead, and to finish up I turned on the Prince and the Revolution spotify station. I sang the whole time, and I am easily amused by repetitive tasks and the sound of my own voice. But now I sit, eating my soup, and blogging about how great it turned out.

Food:
Vegetables
2 c chopped celery*
1 c chopped turnips**
2 cloves shallots*
1/2 medium onion*
1 small yukon gold potato* Leave the skins on
1 small red potato* Leave the skins on
2 very small eggplants, chopped, about a cup***
2 c chopped carrots, cut carrots in half lengthwise, then cut on a bias*
1 c chopped mushrooms****

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Grains*****
1.5 c cooked barley
1/3 c uncooked long grain brown rice
1/3 uncooked wheat-berries

Beans*****
1.5 cups cooked adzuki beans
3 servings tofu
1/2 cup dried split peas

Herbs n spices
3/4 tbs dried basil
1 tbs dried thyme
1 tbs dried sage
1/2 tbs cumin
1/2 tbs turmeric

Other
6 tbs sesame oil
6 cups vegetable broth (made at home, no sodium)******
1 cup vegetable broth (pacific coast, low sodium)
Water
1 tbs salt
3/4 tbs rice vinegar

Tools:
Medium size sauce pan
Large Stock/Soup Pot
Spatula
Spoon
Chef’s knife
Cutting board

Prep:
Put on an apron.
Get all ingredients out, and on the counter.
Wash your vegetables.

Action:
Add four cups homemade, sodium free****** vegetable broth to saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add the split peas, rice, and wheat-berries.
When the broth/grain/bean mix boils, turn the heat down to medium or medium low and let simmer for 50-60 minutes.

Cut the vegetables*. Take your time; soup shouldn’t hurt. Turn on some music.
Make sure to keep an eye on the simmering grains and beans, and the last two cups of homemade broth as the mixture boils down. You may need more than six cups. If you run out of broth, just use water. You may have to take the grains and beans off the heat if they finish before the vegetables are ready for them to be added.

Put the soup pot on the stove. Turn heat to medium and add the 3 tbs sesame oil.
When the oil is heated (sprinkle a drop of water on it, if it sizzles it’s ready) add the herbs and spices, wait a minute, then add the vegetables.
Sauté.
Stir the veggies every few minutes and add the rest of the sesame oil as necessary.
Cook the vegetables on medium for 15 minutes.

Cut to tofu into bite size pieces, 1/2″-3/4″ cubes.
When the onions are translucent (after they’ve cooked on medium for 15 minutes), add the tofu, adzuki beans, and barley. Stir.
Add the wheat-berries, split peas, rice, and any leftover cooking liquid. Stir.
Add one cup of low sodium vegetable broth, and enough water to cover the veggie/grain/bean mix.
Bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer until the carrots, celery and potatoes are of a texture you enjoy. Also try the peas and wheat-berries to make sure they are also cooked through.
In the last five or so minutes of cooking, add 1 tbs salt, and 3/4 tbs rice vinegar.
Eat.

I don’t have high blood pressure, in fact, I have relatively low pressure, so salt is not a worry for me. If it is for you, skip the last step, but maybe add a little vinegar still. It helps the flavor to dance.

*I use onions, carrots, celery, shallots, and potatoes to make homemade vegetable broth. Take the parts you were going to throw away and put them in a quart size ziploc and toss it in your freezer. Throughout the rest of the week, add your scraps to this bag. I don’t add bitter foods – mustards (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), or radishes because they will make your broth bitter.

**If you do not like turnips, or other bitter foods, do not add them to this soup. I love turnips, that’s why they’re here. If you do not like them, sub for more mushrooms.

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***You might be wondering where I found eggplants so small. In my garden. It froze here on New Year’s Eve at night, so I cut those off of my eggplant earlier in the afternoon. The plant had a really great run, and has been producing since April. I probably got 100 eggplants. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I’m not sure. Given enough sunshine, eggplants go wild. If you do not have a mutant eggplant, substitute a cup of cubed eggplant. If you hate eggplant substitute something else, but I couldn’t even taste them in the soup.

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****There’s a chance you live with and/or feed people who think they don’t like mushrooms. If you want them to eat this soup, cut the mushrooms up into 1/4″ cubes. I have something called a salad genius or something and it does this really easily. If they don’t look like mushrooms, the mushroom haters will never know.

*****To cut down the time to make this soup. Use canned, or precooked grains and beans. Alternatively, if you don’t have any cooked beans or grains, you could cook them all together in the saucepan, by increasing the amount of broth and cooking time.

******I make my vegetable broth from scratch. It’s easy, and free, and it uses scraps of food that would’ve either gone to the landfill or my compost bucket. Is it sodium free? Probably not, since vegetables have sodium in them, however it does not taste salty, and I do not add any extra sodium to it.

I hope you enjoy the soup!

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Posted January 5, 2013 by deeats in Soups and Stews

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When in Phoenix – Cornish Pasty Company   Leave a comment

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The Cornish Pasty Co., with locations in Tempe and Mesa is a great place to frequent if you live or are visiting the Phoenix metro area! I love this place. They have some really great vegan options – two kinds vegan pasties everyday, curried potatoes, rosemary potatoes, oven chips, and a full bar. The pasties really fill you up. My favorites are the vegan greek, vegan portabella, and the fiesta. The vegan philly, and vegan cheese and onion have too much fake cheese and not enough of anything else, so I don’t really like those. But lets not dwell on that. Some of the salads can also be made vegan by forgoing the cheese. I’m not a big salad person myself, so I can’t say how those are.

I think the best thing about the CPC is that you can go with whomever – vegetarian, omnivore, or alcoholic and everyone leaves happy. They have an entire menu full of vegetarian pasties which use the Quorn brand sausage and chicken. The meat and cheese pasties are delicious as well. I recommend “the mexican” and the “rosemary chicken” from my omnivorous days. The menu is fairly priced with pasties between $8 and $10.

CPC has a full bar with great beer and wine specials for happy hour. And as always, $3 car bombs all the time!

The above photo is the vegan greek. It comes with a delicious tahini sauce, and I usually ask for some marinara as well. So, so good. It’s probably my favorite pasty.

Posted January 2, 2013 by deeats in Dining Out

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Roasted Garlic Soybean Dip/Sauce   Leave a comment

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I love bean dips and sauces. They are creamy, delicious, cholesterol free, and filling! They’re also versatile. I made this dip for a party I had, but it tasted a lot like the bĂ©chamel sauce that comes on white pizza, so I plan to use this as my next pizza sauce.

I was inspired by Spabettie’s Roasted Garlic White Bean Spread and used it as a template when creating this dip.

Cook the beans during the day in your crock pot with one bay leaf, and this dip is made easy at dinnertime. Or use canned beans, however I feel that canned beans really up the flatulence factor, and create more waste than buying dried beans in bulk. Should you decide to use canned, rinse them in a colander with water, and heat them up in a sauce pan before making the dip.

Food:
12 – 14 medium sized roasted garlic cloves*
2.5 c cooked soybeans**
5 tbs olive oil
3 tbs tahini
4 tbs lemon juice
4 tsp oregano
1/2 piece (half of fruit) roasted red pepper*
salt to taste

Tools:
food processor
spatula
Bowl

Prep:
***Below are some tips about soybeans and roasting your own garlic and peppers. It’s very easy, but depending on how much you get paid, it is probably easier to buy them.
**As stated earlier, you’ll want to have beans that are already cooked, and more importantly are HOT. This will help them blend creamier. If you made your beans from scratch, save the extras in a Rubbermaid container with all of the cooking liquid. Bean cooking liquid is gold. I use it to add flavor to mashed potatoes, as a soup base, to make gravy, I cook rice and other grains in it. Don’t throw it away, just remember to use it.
* Roasting your own garlic and red peppers is really easy. I made three roasted red peppers, and one head of garlic in about an hour using my toaster oven. Preheat the oven to 500*F on the broil setting. Cut the top off of a head of garlic, and set it in a ceramic ramekin. Add a few tablespoons olive oil to the top the garlic head. Put the garlic in the far back corner of the toaster oven, and add the three peppers. Turn the peppers one-quarter turn every ten minutes, their skin should be charred. After forty minutes, remove the peppers, and set the oven to bake. Cut out the stems of the peppers, this should quickly remove most of the seeds. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise, set in on a clean cutting board flesh side down, and remove the skin. Repeat with the other peppers. Remove the garlic from the oven (at this point, it should have been roasting for 50-60 minutes) and let it cool. When cooled, hold the garlic in your hand, turn it upside down, squeeze the cloves out and into the ramekin, take out what you need for this recipe, and put the rest in a small, tightly sealed jar covered in olive oil. You can store the peppers and garlic together in the same jar, or separate.

Action:
Add all ingredients to a food processor. Blend until creamy.
Use the spatula to remove the dip and put it into a pretty bowl, on top of noodles, on a pizza, over rice and vegetables, whatever you need a creamy sauce or delectable dip for!

This is a great consistency for a dip or sauce immediately after processing. If you’d like a slightly firmer dip, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the top and toss it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. If you’d like to have a thinner sauce, add a little of the bean cooking liquid while processing to thin it out a bit.

That’s all! If you have all the ingredients on hand, this dip takes ten minutes or less to make!

Enjoy!

Posted December 25, 2012 by deeats in 15 minutes or less, Dips

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