Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pizza like I remember from pregan days!

BlackBird Pizzeria, Philly

You have to immediately stop what you are doing, (if at work, feign ilness), get someone to care for your pets, and drive/fly/bike/ride the rails to Philly (short for Philadelphia, PA) now and order this pepperoni pizza from Blackbird Pizzeria. You will not regret your decision.

Yes I borrowed this image from a yahoo review. That is because when you are either eating this pizza or even contemplating it, all other thoughts leave your mind. There is no room for things like "I should photograph this". I have no excuse for the polenta I made - because while it was good it wasn't mind blowing.

The location for the restaurant is exactly the same place as a former omni establishment which served both standard and vegan sandwiches and offered vegan treats dessert. Now its 100% vegan and thank the flying spaghetti monster it is! The sausage is from a specialty company in Chicago, and the cheese is a combo of mozzarella and cheddar daiya, and the sauce is really, really, really good. The crust is crisp and if you are an east coaster like me, you will really appreciate it as a re-creation of the pizza you thought you would never have ever again.

For Christmas we got 3 vegan cookbooks, and I'm very excited to start whipping up some delights from them! We got one called fresh & fast vegan pleasures which I hadn't heard of before, a pressure cooking book by Lorna Sass, and Isa's new book Appetite for reduction. The pressure cooking book I wanted because we have a plug-in pressure cooker and I want to use it more often, especially if it will save us time. Also, we want to eat really healthy (I say this as I am eating a candy cane) until the wedding, when we will revert to eating like pigs, as usual. Anyhow, I want good skin for my wedding and I'm hoping - well, after Jan 1 and all the candycanes are gone I can really stick with a skin-friendly plan.

I made the planned dishes and also, an unecpected one. I made the spaghetti squash leek polenta from Vegan Yum Yum with flavor sauce. I don't know what to call it. White sauce? Cheezy Sauce? Its really not that cheezy. I guess its white but white sauce sounds like it tastes boring, which it doesn't. I wouldn't eat the sauce on its own but with the polenta it was quite delicious. I was very happy to have a new way to eat spaghetti squash, and I really liked this even though I'm not too big on plain old polenta. Also we felt healthy for eating this, and it was a good way to clean out our cookie-stuffed bodies. Not that it made us "go", but you get the idea.

I had a request to put root vegetable recipes on the blog. I will definately do so, but right now we have almost no food in the house so we have to do some research and ingredient buying before I can post anything.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Eats & My Crazy Packing List

My bus trips to work today were awkward. In addition to a giant suitcase with Christmas gifts for my whole family, I have a smaller food/clothes/cookbooks suitcase, which contains two 32 oz. jars of salsa, ready to ride the train with me up to my Grandmothers this evening.

I know it sounds odd, and I guess it is, but I want to make one of our favorite and onmi-friendly dishes, the Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas from Vegan Planet, and sub-par salsa just won't do. I am trying hard to make omni-friendly dishes that I can share with others, and I don't want them thinking 'oh, this is vegan food, its really not that good'. Especially with this recipe, it would be extra sad because with good salsa, it is really, really good. (Okay, so I have never actually tried making it with bad salsa, but this would not be a good time to start).

In addition to the enchiladas, I am making Snobby Joes from Veganomicon, spaghetti and gimme lean meatballs (I'm even bringing breadcrumbs in that suitcase, breadcrumbs are often not vegan from the normal stores), and finally, "tuna fish" sanwiches made from Vegan Planet. Okay, the final one is not really that accessible to ominis but when I made it last time for my Mom she LOVED it and asked for the recipe. And she eats real tuna! So of course I had to toast and grind some dulse (kombu) and bring a small container of that. And three boxes of silken tofu.

For my Uncle's gift I will be making him JOVB lemon bars. Given that my Mom would have tried to pressure me into using that bottled lemon juice "its easier! it tastes just the same!", and the fact that my Grandmother does not possess an electric juicer*, Jon kindly zested and juiced the required lemons for me and placed them in my new adorably small tupperwares for transport up North.

*I too, made fun of Jon for owning an electric juicer, but it is lightning fast and does a top-notch job - no muscle required. Its a very classic style (probably 15 years old).

What else is in my suitcase? Well, nutritional yeast (of course, I am vegan after all), tahini, earth balance buttery sticks, a tiny sample pack of parma, a tiny sample pack of Chreesy mozzarella sauce. Joy of Vegan Baking, Vegan Brunch, and a bunch of printed-out recipes from other cookbooks. Ground psyllium husks for egg replacer, Energ-G egg replacer powder, gluten flour, vegetarian beef broth cubes. I know you are thinking holy heck, what DIDN'T she pack. Well, the answer is: espresso powder, high quality soy sauce, and miso. I gave those some strong consideration, but in the end I felt I could probably live without them.

Just to sum up my weirdness in a list format, the vegan packing list:

2 32 oz. jars high quality salsa
1 strip toasted and ground kombu
3 TBS ground psyllium husks (as egg replacer)
4 TBS Ener-G Egg replacer
vegan breadcrumbs
gluten flour
vegetarian beef broth cubes
parma (vegan parmasean cheese substitute)
Chreese Mozzarella style packet
3 boxes silken tofu
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon Zest
Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style
Nutritional Yeast
Earth balance buttery sticks
2 bags vegan chocolate chips

In my defense, I will be there 12 days, I won't have a car for the first five, and the walkable grocery store is very traditional. Also...I'm a weirdo.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dedicated to the Hummus Sandwich

We used to eat a lot of Hummus sandwiches. It was easy, it contained a lot of veggies which made us feel saintly. But I got SERIOUSLY bored. They tasted so...healthy. Jon likes a hummus with very little tahini, which just made it healthier tasting :(

Then we had our Star Trek party, and in our food research, discovered:

A hummous sandwich with a twist! The shredded carrots and sliced cucumbers are marinated with 50% rice vinegar and 50% soy sauce. You also add horseradish and sriracha chili sauce! Wow, what a HUGE difference. We served this to my Mom and Dad when they came to visit and my Mom loved it so much she now serves it to her friends from the Civic Club and Red Hat Club. I wonder if she explains to these ladies that this sandwich is an interpretation of a sandwich mentioned in a tv show about travelling through space, and this dish is in fact from another imaginary planet. Perhaps not.

Anyhow, we recently discovered a new possibility for this sandwich, which you wouldn't think would be a big deal but I LOVED it. We steamed some kale instead of using cucumbers. Then we added the steamed kale and carrots to the 50/50 vinegar soy sacue mix, and marinated about 10 mins and drained. We just stuffed that into a pita with hummus and it was super good. We also used store-bought hummus. I will try this recipe again and let you know if it was the store-bought hummus or the use of the kale.

Oh, while thinking of Vegan Yum Yum, we made the Spicy Tomato Soup from that book. It contains lots of interesting spices and chickpeas. It was amazingly good though and so so so easy! All you need practically is canned tomatoes and canned chickpeas (perfect for winter). As I have previously mentioned, quarter the salt from her recipes. Then at the end, if you need to add more salt, do. But you can't remove salt, and she prefers much more salt than Jon and I, and possibly, you, do. Dang, I totally gotta make that soup for my Mom and Dad, they'll love it. The list of cookbooks I just HAVE to haul up to my Grandmothers on the train just keeps growing....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gardein's Beefless Tips make an appearance

In an effort to make this week easy, given my final exam is on Thursday, I decided to get some pre-made/easy items for dinner. One of those was Gardein's beefless tips, which I'd put in Mushroom Stroganoff before and yowza, so good! Strangely, I cannot stand veggie burgers because they remind me too much of hamburger, yet I can wolf these guys down with relish. So Jon simmered some garlic in olive oil, then added the beefless tips and red wine. He kept reducing and adding more red wine until he was happy with the flavor, and we mixed it together with the tinkyada rotini and some pasta sauce. Very yummy....but I couldn't even finish my lunch portion. I ate too many french-style green beans. Sigh. Well, I'll eat the rest later.

Did I mention my seitan disaster? Well, here's a recap in case I didn't. I attempted to save time by not boiling the seitan (Vegan Dad can do it with his hot wings, right?). Well, this did not turn out all delish like those Vegan Dad hot wings. I smashed the slices out and baked them, and baked them, and baked them some more until unfortunately they became like bready chewy sponges. I have been eating this mistake this week. I guess it could be worse...the flavor is okayish. Well, its non-offensive anyhow.

I don't know how I'm going to maintain any self control next week with the cookies I'll be making, and I'm sure I will probably bake a bunch of stuff and eat chips. Well, there's always Jan-May to get lookin' good for the wedding. 1.5 weeks off plan won't kill me. It'll probably make it harder in the end, but...cookies!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mihl's Vegan Macaroons

Yup, I went to WF and bought psyllium husks. They were in the health food section, being a fiber supplement as they are. I made Mihl of Seitan is my Motor's vegan macaroons, and they turned out great, or so said my macaroon loving friend. I was never a macaroon kind of lady. It was actually quite funny. I tried one, Jon tried one and I said "are they like normal macaroons?". We couldn't remember. Then we both admitted to not really ever liking macaroons when we weren't vegan. Oh well! At least the macaroon-loving recipient of the gift love them! They have a chewy texture and very coconutty flavor.

(will put up picture soon!)

Next up in Holiday Baked Good Gifting: Lemon Bars from Joy of Vegan Baking!

In other news, apparently I was anemic during the summer and unaware. I went to the Dr. this past week and she said "Let's test your blood to see if you are still anemic" I said "anemic, I am anemic?!?!". She said, yes, didn't you check the lab results hotline? No, I figured they would call if something was wrong. Anyhow, after the re-check I am actually 100% normal, without having done a single thing to correct my deficiency! I guess I must have eaten enough iron in my diet. I even stopped taking a supplement that contained iron during that time (I switched to Dr. Joel Furman's vitamin with no Iron because the latest research supports not taking iron unless you need it). Here I was for a week eating blackstrap molasses like it was going out of style. I even discovered that 1 TBS of cocoa powder has 10% of your daily iron. That is pretty crazy. Just make some blackstrap molasses cocoa-powder heavy hot cocoa (make sure you do it with non fortified soymilk though b/c otherwise the calcium interferes with your iron absorption), and that is one iron rich, delicous snack (as long as you add plenty of normal sweetener too). During the time I thought I was anemic, I found biking uphill suddenly VERY hard and tiring, and climbing stairs was also exhausting because I was constantly visualizing my deformed red blood cells weakly transporting not enough oxygen to my muscles. Not surprisingly, when I found out my anemia cured itself, I perked RIGHT up! I am so glad everything is fine now, I was sure my Mom was going to be very, very upset with me if I was anemic. Phew! I will make an effort now to get more iron in my diet, because I take Nexium (an acid reducer), and that also reduces your body's ability to absorb certain vitamins, among them: iron, calcium, and B12.