By jen | February 6, 2011
I haven’t given up on this blog yet, but let’s just say I’ve got a new baby: a blog dedicated exclusively to vegan desserts. I hope to continue both, but here’s my new blog if you’d like to check it out: Dessert? Dessert!
Happy new year!
By jen | October 25, 2010
With the weather turning cold and rainy, and my partner coming down with a cold, I decided to improvise some “chicken noodle” soup for dinner last night. In place of “chicken,” I used Gardein chicken strips and in place of noodles, I used orzo. As I use veggie broth powder instead of making my own veggie broth, this soup was super easy and fast to make. I know…this soup uses a few processed ingredients, but sometimes I crave that high-sodium-chicken-noodle-soup-from-a-can-tasting kind of soup I had as a kid, you know? And I assure you, this soup tastes way better than Campbell’s soup!
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tb olive oil
6 cups “chicken-style” vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 Tb yeast extract (Marmite)
1/8 tsp paprika
2/3 cup dried orzo
1 package (8 oz) Gardein “chicken” strips, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parsley for garnish
1. Sauté onion, carrots, celery and garlic in olive oil in large saucepan on medium-high heat until softened.
2. Add vegetable broth, bay leaves, Marmite, paprika, cayenne and salt (to taste). Stir to mix in ingredients.
3. Bring broth to boil and add orzo. Reduce to medium heat and let cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Turn off heat and add diced “chicken.” Stir to mix in.
5. Add freshly-ground pepper to taste. Serve with chopped parsley.
By jen | April 29, 2010
I found an article on Huffington Post with a slideshow showing seven animals that are going extinct because people can’t control their appetite for their flesh. Ready for the list? In no particular order:
You’d think that with this knowledge, people would be working to make sure these animals don’t go extinct (even if only to ensure they can continue to eat them), right? Wrong! According to an article by Ocean Sentry, a nonprofit organization based in Spain, corporations such as Mitsubishi (yes, the company that makes cars and electronics!) and Taiyo are buying and freezing as much tuna as they can. They are banking on the expectation that tuna will become extinct and ensuring that they will get rich from selling their exclusive supply of tuna meat to the richest consumers when that time comes.
By jen | April 21, 2010
I came across a post from Veganbaking.net, a fantastic site and resource on vegan baking (duh), on a new butter alternative called Vegan By Nature. Like many other vegan butters, such as the super popular Earth Balance, this product contains palm (in this case “palm fruit glycerin” instead of oil). Unlike the other brands, however, Vegan By Nature actually lists where it sources its palm (Indonesia). While some vegan sites are touting this brand as a good alternative to Earth Balance because it contains more “natural” ingredients, I take issue with the continued promotion by vegans (on websites, blogs, cookbooks, etc.) of “vegan” products containing palm despite growing awareness of the detrimental effects its production has on the environment and animals.
Here was my response to the post:
Don’t think I’ll be trying this product
According to the Center for Science in the Public interest (http://www.cspinet.org/palm/), palm oil production is responsible for the widespread destruction of rainforests and wildlife populations. Specifically, according to their site:
“Of the more than 400 land mammal species of Indonesia, 15 are critically endangered and another 125 threatened. Of Malaysia’s nearly 300 land mammal species, 6 are critically endangered and 41 threatened. The numbers of threatened species climb higher when terrestrial reptiles, amphibians, and birds are included. Moreover, certain animals, such as the orangutan, are only found in these countries; when their rainforest habitat vanishes, so will they.”
I think the ecological implications of supporting products that use palm oil (especially palm oil harvested from Indonesia or Malaysia, which account for the vast majority of the world’s production), are far too great to be ignored by vegans. Yes, it’s true that the ingredient lists for these dairy alternatives are free of animal products, but animals (and the environment) are suffering as a direct result of our desire for “healthier” baked goods (containing non-hydrogenated fats). I, like you, try as much as possible consume products that contain more natural ingredients. However, I find the notion that somehow cookies, cakes, pastries and other baked goods are supposed to be “good” for us is absurd. I do not believe pastries–vegan or otherwise–should be included as a regular part of anyone’s diet.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any solutions in the way of recommending a more ecologically/vegan-friendly butter alternative (yet!). I will, however, gladly eliminate my use of any palm oil as much as possible, the same way I eliminated meat, eggs, dairy, honey and other animal products (to the best of my ability) because my consumption harmed animals, my health and the environment.
There are a lot of news and research articles (as well as blog posts) on this topic online. Simply do a search on “palm oil” with “Earth Balance,” “Indonesia,” “Malaysia,” “Orangutans,” or “Rainforest destruction” to learn more about this issue. (Note: the above photo was borrowed from a post by the International Land Coalition.)
By jen | April 8, 2010
A true croissant is crisp, dry and flaky on the outside, with soft, moist, buttery layers on the inside. Each bite leaves fallen crumbs all over the plate (or all over the front of your shirt and on your lap if you’re me). It should never taste bready (Pillsbury crescent rolls are just that — crescent-shaped bread rolls). As a vegan, I never thought I’d ever get to eat a real croissant ever again. Until now. Including wait times, making these croissants took about 18 hours, but ohhhh, they were worth it!
I made a small batch that yielded 12 small traditional croissants and four small chocolate croissants.
Croissants are best right out of the oven. I ate three of them within minutes of taking them out of the oven (basically as soon as I could hold them without hurting myself) and was so happy to see the crumbs falling off!
By jen | April 8, 2010
I’ve been taking a chocolate class for fun and have learned so much! There is so much that I didn’t know about chocolate, including how chocolate is processed, how the cocoa butter content affects the viscosity of melted chocolate, various methods of tempering chocolate (proper tempering is key to getting chocolate shiny and giving it its snap) and creative uses for chocolate. The great thing about this class is that I get to use dark chocolate (that is vegan).
Here are a couple things that I’ve made in the last few weeks:
My first project was making a chocolate box. I used red and gold colored cocoa butter to paint the design on mold for the lid of the box. I then tempered dark chocolate and filled both halves of the mold. I drained and scraped the excess chocolate from the molds and set them in the fridge to set. 15 minutes later, I unmolded the chocolate and put the two pieces together. And voila, I had a chocolate box!
We were also asked to create Easter chocolate using bunny and egg molds. I opted to use the large egg-shaped molds, but decided against doing more traditional designs. I looked at the shape thought “hmmm, how about penguins?” The difficulty for me was having to paint the design on the inside of the mold before pouring in the chocolate instead of painting on top of a finished piece, which is why the design is sloppier than I would have liked. I still think they’re pretty cute though!
I’m tempted to purchase some molds for home use now!
By jen | February 25, 2010
I <3 dumplings. When I walk by shops in Chinatown and see trays of dumplings in the window, I reminisce about being a kid again and making homemade dumplings with my beloved nana. Making my own dumplings now as an adult evokes fond memories of those special moments. These potstickers in no way resemble the ones my nana used to make and would hardly be considered “authentic” but they’re pretty tasty! The following recipe makes 40 potstickers.
1 16 oz package of potsticker wrappers (available at a lot of Asian food markets; just check the ingredients on the label)
6 oz seitan, chopped
6 oz kale, finely chopped
4 oz Shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2 scallion (green onion), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
2 Tb tamari
1 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tb sesame oil
Oil for sautéeing
water for steaming and moistening potsticker wrappers
Sauté the garlic, ginger, seitan, kale and mushrooms in oil. Season with tamari, chili flakes, black pepper and sesame oil. Cook until tender. Let the filling cool slightly before filling the wrappers.
When you’re ready to fill the wrappers, have a small bowl of water handy. Spoon a tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each wrapper (do not overfill). Wet the edges of the wrapper with water and fold the edges together. Press tightly. Then pinch and fold four or five times along the edges to “seal” the potsticker.
You can freeze the potstickers if you’re not ready to use them right away. Otherwise, to cook them, steam them until the skin is soft and almost translucent (I put 10 potstickers at a time in a pan with a little water and a lid on top) . Then add a little oil to a dry pan and pan fry them until crispy.
For a sauce, I added some rice vinegar, sugar and chili flakes to soy sauce.
Dip the potstickers in the sauce and eat up!
By jen | February 23, 2010
What do turtles, pugs and hippos have to do with food? NOTHING (not for me, at least). What do they have in common? They are ridiculously cute! I keep oohing and ahhing at these photos, so I might as well share them with you.
Snuzzy.com is a blog dedicated to adorable photos of animals all day, every day. They recently did a post with 20 super cute photos of baby and adult hippos. I wish I could pet a hippo right now! The captions are hilarious, too. The ones below are my own captions, which are not so hilarious. Click here to see the rest of the photos.
Here’s another one from Snuzzy.com. Again, RIDICULOUSLY CUTE!
So my posting of this photo is not in any way an endorsement of purchasing dogs from breeders – please adopt! — but Cody, one of the dogs who competed in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, is such a cutie pie. I’m a total sucker for pugs. There’s a whole article about the competition on SFGate.com (where I found the photo) but I really didn’t bother reading it after seeing Cody’s picture. Look at that face!!! Don’t you just want to kiss it?
And lastly, here’s one of my own. I don’t know what it is about pugs that inspires people to do silly things, such as putting bow ties on them (see above), or in my case, wrapping my dog in paper and ribbon. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Meet Kobe, my rescue pug.
Do you have cute or silly photos (or videos) of animals to share? I can seriously never get enough of them.
By jen | February 22, 2010
Yum, yum, yum! These buns taste amazing right out of the oven (I couldn’t help myself) and the kitchen smelled heavenly as they were baking! These buns are soft, fluffy and gooey, with a light coating of icing — just the way I like ‘em.
By jen | February 21, 2010
Damn, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog! As I type this, I’ve got some cinnamon bun dough resting and waiting to be put in the oven (and eventually into my mouth!). In the meantime, here’s a recap of some food adventures I’ve had these past few months.
When I was in L.A., my parents, brother, Jesse and I decided to try Real Food Daily in Santa Monica. Between the five of us, we tried the Salisbury Seitan, Supreme Burrito, enchiladas, and the tamale special. The general consensus was that the food was just okay. I really wanted to like this place because I’d heard so many great things about it, but I found my dish (the tamales) to be bland and flavorless.
The seitan in my Jesse’s Salisbury seitan consisted of three dull-looking, triangle slabs of wheat gluten topped with a thin gravy and he could barely bring himself to finish his meal.
We decided to try the desserts, which were a little better, but not great.
The chocolate cheesecake was pretty tasty, but tasted more like a chocolate mousse pie than a cheesecake.
The Boston Cream Pie was a little dry in my opinion.
Every time I go to Southern California, I stop by Veggie Grill. I wasn’t a fan of the “chicken” salad (I would have liked to get some real greens instead of iceberg lettuce) but all of the sandwiches (and I’ve tried them all!) are delicious! With the exception of their tempeh and portabello sandwiches, all of their sandwiches and burgers use Gardein brand “chicken breasts” or “beef” strips. The food kind of reminds me of the guilty pleasure of eating fast food during my teenage, meat-eating years, minus the guilt! My only complaint is that they are on the pricey side for what you get — the default side for sandwiches and burger is a small coleslaw and all other sides cost you extra — but they are my favorite place to go for vegan fast food. My carnivore parents and brother like the place and every time I go, the place is packed, so they’re doing something right!
Next food adventure: Las Vegas! It had been a few years since I’d been to Vegas and that was before I became vegan. Shortly after arriving, I realized that Vegas is not a fun place for people who don’t smoke, eat prime rib, gamble, seek the services of escorts or enjoy large crowds. I will probably not go back for at least another decade, but there are some gems worth seeking out if you do go.
Red Velvet Cafe isn’t vegan, or even vegetarian, but has lots of great vegan items on the menu. Seriously, thank goodness for this place so that Jesse and I could have something substantial to eat! I would have liked to have seen more veggies on the menu, but we definitely enjoyed ourselves anyway. The highlights for us were the “chicken” spinach mushroom panini and the “chicken” soft taco plate with black beans and rice.
I thought the quesadilla with soy cheese and avocado and “pepperoni” pizza with soy cheese were also tasty. Jesse, who hates cheese of any kind, thought they tasted too much like real cheese for his taste.
The only disappointment was the buffalo “chicken” wrap, which looked and tasted as though it were made with Trader Joe’s brand soy chicken nuggets, some limp, shredded iceberg lettuce and flavored with Tabasco-like sauce.
On our last day, we stopped by the famous Ronald’s Donuts that we’d heard about for so long in various vegan circles. Our omni friends Katie and Eric, Jesse and I each had a donut in the shop and Jesse and I decided we weren’t going to get on the plane back to California without bringing a box back with us. I much prefer yeast raised donuts to cake donuts and these babies did not disappoint. These are the best donuts I’ve ever had, vegan or otherwise!
Fast forward to 2010! I’m going to miss Alameda Pie, a local pie delivery business that has recently gone on hiatus. It’s not an exclusively vegan/vegetarian business but Chris, the owner, always offered some vegan options. I got to try some of his vegan creations on a couple occasions including his strawberry rhubarb pie and veggie coconut pot pie.
The strawberry rhubarb was just like I like it, slightly tart.
The pot pie was simply amazing, with a flaky, buttery crust, and a yellow curry filling with a hint of spice.
Recently, Jesse’s friend Keith invited us over for some wine and dessert. He made us a vegan version of bananas foster topped with toasted coconut and pomegranate molasses that was absolutely wonderful. I don’t think I’ll be attempting it anytime soon because knowing me, I’d probably set the kitchen on fire, but I’m sure impressed with Keith’s culinary skills!
The unbaked cinnamon buns are now calling to me to put them into the oven. Who says you can’t eat cinnamon buns for (now a late) dinner? Maybe that’s why I’m down to two pairs of pants that fit me!