Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cheesy Brocolli Soup from 'Easy Vegan Recipes' booklet

I did a tabling* on Saturday, but it was pretty slow, so I started browsing in Compassion Over Killings' Easy Vegan Recipes booklet. Although I was never a fan of cream of brocolli soup, once I saw that recipe in the booklet, I couldn't get the idea out of my head.

See, just like the picture in the booklet!

This is the recipe: Cheesy Broccoli Soup

I halved the broccoli and nutritional yeast, quartered the cashews, used only 1/4tsp + 1/8 tsp salt, only about 2-3 cups vegetable broth, added 1/3 cup chives, only 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and didn't add onion powder or pimentos.

The great thing about this recipe is it really is a snap to make. I placed my cashews in a dish and covered them with water, and microwaved until the water boiled. I then let them sit and soften, and drained them before adding to the food processor. Otherwise, I followed the instructions in the recipe. It really only took me 30 minutes to put together and I'm a slow mover. After finishing making the soup I liked it but I felt like it needed something. Then I left to walk the dog for 30 minutes, and after returning, the soup was perfect! It just needed time for the flavors to set in.

I need to try to control myself and not eat anymore or I won't have anything for lunch tomorrow. I know some people** think cashews are awfully expensive. For those folks its good to know you can halve the cashews in this recipe and still come out with a mighty tasty result.

*this is where you stand at or sit by a table filled with literature and ask folks if they would like some info as they pass by.
**my husband Jon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Portland Eats n' Vegan Conference

For my readers who weren't at the Vida Vegan Bloggers Conference and who don't currently reside in Portland (Hi Mom and Dad!), I'm going to give you a re-cap of the conference, my impressions of Portland, and discuss stuffing my face.

(This is brunch at Sweetpea Vegan Bakery. It was transcendent, and I ate only the biscuit portion of this offering to the Gods. Clearly, we have to move to Portland.)

We stayed with our friend Bernie, who began a string of awesome host actions by picking us up at the metro station. Although we'd had all sorts of dreams of exploring Portland together by bike, Jon had unfortunately broken his toe boogieboarding so instead was relegated to one of those embarrassing knee scooters.

Before I arrived in Portland I printed out my list about 90 restaurants in Portland, and didn't even bother including food carts. I don't know if you've ever been to a food cart in DC - a tiny rectangular tin coffin with gummy oversalted soft pretzels and hot dogs - but I was entirely prejudiced against food carts - how could good food come from them? Thankfully, my yelp-loving husband convinced me to try the highest yelp-rated food cart in all of Portland Kitchen Dances. H-O-L-Y S-M-O-K-E-S, that is some GOOD FOOD.

We feasted on the tempeh Reuben, the raw beet ravioli, and then bought tacos not due to any hunger or actual room left in our bellies, but because that's just how good the food was. We then said 'boy, we should have photographed this food before we wolfed it down like savages'. I kind of felt like with a conference of 200+ vegan bloggers, someone else would probably do the heavy lifting and take better photos than I would have anyhow.

At the conference I got to try two new products which I'm super excited about.

1. Earth Balance's new coconut oil based margarine, cuz it doesn't taste like coconut people, it TASTES LIKE BUTTER!! I totally went back for a few extra samples.

2. Upton's Seitan Italian Sausage style seitan. I'm not much of a sausage person, even when I ate actual sausage, but I really like this product.

3. Is it even possible that I didn't even try the new greek yogurt despite my husband being an old friend of Ken's who MADE the greek yogurt himself? Yes, somehow I didn't realize it was even there. I probably spaced out during an important conversation in which Ken stated "we will have samples of the Greek Yogurt there". Instead of hearing this important information, I was off in Vegan Lady Land..."OMG Isa is here, she is like at the same bar I am at. She is my hero but I can't be a complete fan girl and say anything stupid to her. Okay, think of something not stupid". So as you can see, I was unaware of the greek yogurt being available for tasting.

Our friend Bernie got us two loaner bikes to bike around Portland with! Although Jon couldn't use his too much, I was able to bike to the conference and all around town - hardly getting lost at all, which is unusual for me. I'm lucky Portland is basically a grid - it was designed with the map challenged like me in mind :)

I had a total bikegasm when I encountered my first street sign that indicated that cars HAD to turn left or right, despite the fact that a perfectly full sized street lay ahead, but bikes, and bikes ONLY, could proceed straight. I can't tell you the amount of joy it brings to a cyclists' hard and leathery heart (yes, we cyclists are all very tough and leathery from exposure to the elements and hard bike seats) to see things like a big fatty green painted bike crosswalk with a flashing light that says "yield to cyclists" on a big high speed bridge. Yes you motorist, with your eco-disaster death machine, YOU must stop for ME! (Oh, by the way in case you wondered if I am sometimes an eco-disaster death machine driver, yes I am) anyhow, BikeJOY.

Back to food. Yeah, we had the vegan donuts. They were okay, but I was spoiled long, long ago by the best donuts in the universe, to which none can measure up. My family who eats non-vegan donuts agrees with me that this one bakery in Wildwood, NJ has the best donuts they have ever tasted, and no other donut can ever measure up. Next time I'm there I'm going to do some outreach and see if I can get them to make me a vegan donut. Wish me luck!

Portobello: a fancy vegan restaurant in Portland. Jon is making me write about it, but I'm not a fancy food lady. I don't think I can give P. the proper treatment in writing, but I'm pretty sure Jon will wake up masticating and moaning 'Gnocchi' for several months to come. For the potty minded out there, masticating means chewing.

I highly reccomend a food tourism trip for any vegan who has the cash to spare. Would you like to eat a vegan caramel, a vegan danish, a vegan donut, a vegan _______? <----fill in the blank. Go to Portland.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Winter Coat Without Harm

I opened up the latest Mooshoes email and browsed around in the link to Vaute Couture, a vegan clothing company specializing in coats. I found a coat I really liked, but it was $300 (a special introductory price) and that's a lot for me to spend.

Sarah explores pigdom
Unrelated Pig Photo

The problem, aside from simply finding a coat made without fur trim or goose down, is that most coats are made from eco-unfriendly fabrics and made by people who aren't getting treated well or paid well at their work.

Many vegans work at non-profits, and it's difficult for them to afford ethical products. Its hard to get into the mindset of - hey, I only buy a coat once every 5 to 10 years, I can save up to buy a nice one - because we're so trained to be able to immediately afford clothes and shoes.

I personally hate shopping, so I only go once or twice a year. Generally only when my existing clothing becomes embarrasingly and irreparably stained or worn looking. I go shoe shopping even less. I used to purchase new running shoes more often, but then the whole barefoot running thing became popular and I started to question the value of 'support' in a shoe. Now my gym shoes are super old and worn looking, complete with holes. I make up for my frugality in this area by spending a LOT on food (and my education).

I'm totally sold on the value of organic food, and supporting local farmers who practice organic farming methods. If I ever waver about that $4 organic red bell pepper, I just think of that pregnant mother who picked grapes for a living and whose child was born with a rare deformity associated with exposure the pesticides sprayed on the grapes she was picking. I think about how she didn't have any health insurance. I think also about whether or not she will get cancer or suffer other health impacts from exposure to those pesticides. I've long since forgotten her name which I learned on a radio show eight years ago, but her story is burned into my brain.

My "solution" to avoiding sweatshop labor and buying eco-friendly in the last several years has been to buy used. I purchase my clothes at Goodwill or other second hand clothing stores. I realize this is kind of a copout because I should be directly supporting ethical businesses rather than not directly supporting unethical ones. Its difficult for me to convince myself to spend a lot on clothing. However, I sure could use a really warm coat this winter. I'll let you know if I end up buying the coat, and I'll review it too.

Coming up next (once I find the #*!&$ camera cord): Monstera Deliciosa, Indian Salad, Tom Yum Eggplant Stir Fry & Creamy Tomato Soup!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Greek 'Feta' Salad Sandwiches

Greek Salad Sandwich(this post from was a while ago, but since I lost my camera cord, I didn't post till now!)

The dog was tired enough to not even bother waking us up, so we didn't roll out of bed until ten thirty am! We had our friends Noelle, and Joe (of Carpe Vegan) over for dinner last night, and even more folks came over for board games after that and we played until the wee hours. We made a few dishes for dinner, but the star of the show was the Greek Sandwiches - a recipe of Jon's we enjoy every few months.

I just started uploading the pictures to Jon's flikr account as he was heading out the door, and he called over his shoulder "make sure to only upload good pictures, I don't want any blurry ones in between" and "make sure you tag everything properly". That cracked me up that he actually cared about the quality of the photos in his feed, whereas I treat flikr like one of those catchall drawers filled with paper clips, expired coupons and museum putty.

Jon wrote up his recipe and the associated blog post, so here's Jon:

One of my favorite sandwiches as a kid (after I went vegetarian but before I went vegan) was a Greek sandwich from Cross Rhodes in Evanston. Cucumber, Tomato, Red Onion, feta, olive oil, and vinegar in a thick, soft Greek pita. Damn. I tore those sandwiches up in my youth. While investigating the various cheese substitutes out there, we have made two key discoveries:
1. All vegan "feta" cheese you can buy at the store is disgusting. The range is from "bland and weird and unpleasant" to "please erase my memory of that flavor."
2. Sheese "strong cheddar" flavor does not taste much like cheddar, but in context DOES actually taste quite a bit like feta (more so than homemade feta we've made)

This led me to chase my dream of recreating that sandwich, and lo, it was glorious. After making it about a half dozen times I figured I should measure the ingredients I add and write the recipe down. Also, originally I would shred and crumble up the cheese into little bits and make a light dressing more like the basic sandwich. But I hate screwing around with trying to make fake cheese crumble, so here is a simpler recipe where you just blend it with the dressing. It is still all kinds of delicious, and much less work. Also, the original recipe only used half the block and then the other half would spoil in the fridge. After doing that several times I just started doubling it and freezing the unused sauce for later. Here's the recipe:

3 cucumbers, sliced
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped (can't get good tomatoes? don't bother with this recipe, as they are key)

1 small red onion, sliced into thin crescents (quarter the onion then slice thin)
Optional: lettuce, or sprouts, or whatever else you like (I skipped them in the batch shown in the photo)
Greek pita or lavash (Greek pita is thick and soft and awesome, but if you can't get it normal pita will suffice)

1 block Sheese “strong cheddar” flavor vegan cheese
2 large cloves garlic
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp lemon juice (~1.5 lemons)
3 Tbsp fresh oregano (or ~1 Tbsp dried oregano)
¾ tsp black pepper
¾ tsp sumac (optional, but awesome)

½ tsp dried dill (optional)

¼ tsp salt
1 cup water (after cutting the tomatoes & cucumbers up, drain them into the measuring cup to start with and add plain water until you get to 1 cup)

Note that this recipe makes about twice as much sauce as you need, but just freeze the other half and next time this recipe will be crazy easy. Just cut up the veggies and let them drain a bit to start. Mix all of the ingredients for the sauce in the food processor (I add everything except the sheese and water first and puree it for a while to get a nice base, then add the drained tomato juice & remaining water & sheese). You can either toss the veggies with some of the sauce to taste and eat on the pita bread, or just spread the sauce on the pita or lavash and add the veggies. Definitely don’t pre-mix the veggies and sauce if you’re not going to eat it all right away or it gets watery. Adjust any ingredients to your liking, this is just a rough guide rather than a hard and fast recipe