Monthly Archives: October 2009

Happy Halloween! Quesadaiya and Chocolates!

Happy Halloween, everyone! After Thanksgiving, it may be my favorite holiday. Okay, so I really like Christmas and Hanukkah too–shoot me!

My costume this year is GREAT – I’m being one of my favorite characters in all literature/pop culture: Alice (in Wonderland). I’m so excited to get ready and go out with my friends, although the big 5-college party here, Harwood Halloween, is pretty disgusting (Imagine thousands of drunk, sweaty, scantily clad students in a dark, underground parking garage; liberties are taken). I won’t be getting crunk, as it were, but I do plan on having a lot of fun and looking illegally cute.

What’s the perfect Halloween treat? Orange and black quesadilla, of course! Or should I say, quesaDAIYA?!

Cheddar Daiya cheese +black beans + Food for Life Whole Grain Gluten-Free Brown Rice Tortilla = not only appropriately festive and absurdly delicious, but absolutely allergen-free! Daiya, made of cassava root (a.k.a. tapioca) is free of soy, casein, lactose, gluten, eggs, corn, and nuts, and the tortilla is as it’s named–gluten-free! In other words, move over casein-dillas! There’s no one who can’t enjoy the comforting richness that is a quesadilla! I swear I’m done with quesadilla wordplay.

Of course, being the good little vegan that I am, I added some veggie power in the form of bell peppers, red onions, and fresh cilantro.

I’ve had Daiya on zpizza before, but this was the first time I’d used it myself. I picked up a pack of both the Cheddar and Italian at Whole Foods yesterday, along with the tortillas, craving the microwave quesadillas of my childhood after-school snacks.

Daiya definitely delivered. It literally melted exactly like cow’s milk cheese in the microwave, and tasted phenomenal. The tortillas were great too! I’ve never had them before.

Stringymeltylovelovelove.

CHOMP.

Of course, you can’t have Halloween without candy. But I’m classy, so I went with some fancy vegan chocolates that my wonderful vegan superstar friend Stephanie got me from Whole Foods.

One.

Two.

Three.

The first one was your basic chocolate caramel. Except better, because it definitely had a hint of warm autumn-y spices. The second was also caramelish, but with a nice, crunchy almond in the center. My favorite by far, however, was the raspberry jam-filled apostrophe! (Haha, isn’t that the best way to describe that shape?!) It was not only printed with a gorgeous design, but the gooey, sugary filling was to die for. Plus, it reminded me of oozing, bloody guts, which is perfect for Halloween.

Dorm Room Dinners: Indian Feast

This is the first of a series of posts I’ll call “Dorm Room Dinners,” even though sometimes, it might be lunch. The point being to give you a look–or taste!–at how easy and delicious it is to be vegan, even on a dining hall meal plan in college. Sure, the quality’s not comparable to what you could produce living at home with your own kitchen (plus, I feel like, a year and a half into being vegan, my cooking skills have gotten to the point where I usually prefer my own handiwork to the meals I get–and pay more for–when I eat out anyways). Still, with a little creativity, dining hall food can be quite enjoyable.

Here’s a recent lunch from Pomona’s dining hall, Frary (it’s our “Harry Potter” dining hall…see for yourself!)

I got some Indian-spiced mixed vegetables (cauliflower, celery, carrots, potatoes, green beans, and onions) and stewed lentils from the regular buffet line, and steamed asparagus from the “Farm to Fork” vegetarian/vegan section. I brought them back to my dorm room in my reusable plastic take-out box, and rounded out the meal with half a microwave-nuked sweet potato (I know, I know, but I don’t have an oven!), drizzled with coconut oil, cinnamon, and sea salt.

Life could be worse.

An Afternoon at Animal Acres

Excuse the excessive alliteration!

This is an insanely belated post, but there was no way I could let it go unshared! Last month, my vegan friend Stephanie took a group of us to Animal Acres Farm Sanctuary, just an hour and a half away, to celebrate her birthday. It was a lovely visit, full of every farm animal imaginable, all of whom were as amiable as can be! (I’m sorry! I can’t stop with the “A” words!)

We were greeted by curious goats of all shapes and sizes.

I know this is how I look when I’m eating. What about you guys?

And then came the ducks. Oh ducks, how I love you. One of my favorite childhood storybooks was Make Way for Ducklings. :)

Stephanie AND the duck cooperated for this photo…

And I thought this was hilarious (though most likely, no one else did…): all of a sudden, all the ducks just walked away in a line. I bet they had some official business to attend to.

Next up, piggies! Some piggies at Animal Acres take naps.

And some take baths.

Seeing the cows may have been my favorite part of the day though. They’re so gentle and loving. Um, you got a little something hanging from your mouth there, buddy. :)

Me and a happy cow.

You didn’t think we could celebrate a birthday without cake though, did you? Even if you did, I knew I couldn’t disappoint my readers by omitting the obligatory food porn. ;)

Animal Acres ordered this cake from a nearby bakery called The Whole Wheatery, I believe. Wasn’t it gorgeous?

Chocolate with super thick coconut frosting.

It was only fair that after enjoying our own food, we feed the animals! Except they prefer popcorn.

Turkeys may like me, but I could not find a chicken that would let me hold it for the life of me! (Okay, so one eventually let me pick it up, but I had to earn it!)

Going to a sanctuary like this is a definite must for vegans! It reminds you of who you’re fighting for. It’s a great place to take your non-vegan friends as well because who knows? Cuddling with a friendly chicken could be what it takes to forge that connection between the chicken on their plate and the chicken in their lap.

A Little More Hamilton Love

First of all, I wanted to thank all you guys for your incredibly nice comments, especially on my last post! I really want to take a photography class, but so far I’ve just been teaching myself, so it means a lot to hear that I’m doing something right! You guys made my day.

Consider this post “part two” of my fall break visit with my sister.

I think “part one” adequately conveyed how beautiful Colgate’s campus is, so I think I’ll focus on how delightfully adorable the town is.

The town basically consists of a café, a chocolate shop, a movie theater, and an apothecary.
Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but still, they have an apothecary!

So getting back to how I lied, there are two coffee shops in town. My sister’s favorite is the Barge, and being the coffee shop connoisseur that I am, I must say that I approve her choice.

Not only is the Barge super cozy, with tons of tables and squishy armchairs, and a wide selection of tea (including desert sage!) but they have vegan sandwiches and vegan cookies!

I didn’t get one, but aren’t they cute?

We spent a lazy Monday morning studying there–Liv reading, and I thesising.

And alongside my cinnamon-cardamom tea I had two brown rice cakes with a packet of Justin’s Classic Almond Butter and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Perfect.

The chocolate shop I mentioned is called Maxwells. It’s your classic candy shop & soda bar. It even had vegan milkshakes (chocolate and vanilla!), though, again, I didn’t have the pleasure. Sorry!

That night we saw Where the Wild Things Are at the Hamilton Movie Theater.

It was a long, cold walk to and from our 8:45 showing, and I may or may not have looked like a wild thing in my ridiculous–yet beloved–Betsy Johnson faux fur-trimmed velvet coat, but I enjoyed reliving a childhood classic with my little sister, even if it couldn’t possibly capture the book’s magic.

Speaking of magic, I thought this house on the way into town looked like it was full of it. It’s like my Victorian-inspired dream haven.

And now I want a pink house. With a blue door.

Pumpkin for My Pumpkin

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies for my little sister, that is!

I’m currently visiting my favorite person in the world. She’s a sophomore (and DI soccer player!) at Colgate University in the charming town of Hamilton in central NY. It’s my first time here, and I’m loving it.

Of course I couldn’t come empty-handed–I’m her big (wonderful vegan baker) sister, after all! I had to make something seasonal, and having my own fond memories of my mom sending me pumpkin chocolate chip cookies in October of my freshman year at Pomona, I decided that was the route to take. Good decision, I think.

I used this recipe from the PPK, subbing 1 cup of chocolate chips for the walnuts and raisins because, um, which would you prefer? I added the optional flax seed as well because, in my book, chewier cookies always take the cake. (Uh oh, mixed metaphor!)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try them (still doing elimination diet stuff, so no sugar or gluten for me at the present!), but my friends and Olivia all seemed to love them! From making and at least smelling them, however, I got the sense that they weren’t quite pumpkin-y enough. Liv said the molasses kind of overpowered the pumpkin (I think maple syrup would be a better option), and my mom thought they could use a bit more spice. Still, they’ve all been wolfing them down nonetheless, so I’m marking them as a win, even if I would probably try a different recipe next time!

So far, the weather’s been surprisingly mild (for NY in October…). We’ve been enjoying the brisk and sunny autumn days to the fullest, an enjoyment that necessarily includes playing in the leaves:

Please notice the heart formed by the leaves around Livers. She’s so talented.

The novelty of foliage to an AZ girl who goes to school in SoCal.

Can I switch schools, please? Freezing 98 percent of the time must be worth a month or so of this kind of magical.

Don’t quote me on that. ;)

Baked Sweet Tater Breakfast!

Nothing special here, folks. Just a deliciously simple breakfast that anyone could–and should–make! A baked sweet potato slathered in almond butter.

My secret: when I bought my recent jar of Trader Joe’s Raw Almond Butter, I made my own special flavor blend by mixing in coconut oil, ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, unsweetened shredded coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt! Tastes like snickerdoodle cookie batter, and goes perfectly with sweet potatoes, if I don’t say so myself! It would be even better with a touch of maple syrup or maple sugar (or even some raisins!), but I’m off sugar for a little bit for health reasons. YOU, however, should add it. :)

A Celebration of Healthy Fats

I might as well call this post “A Celebration of Color,” because I just realized my recent eats have also been a veritable rainbow. You’ll see.

But back to fats. Healthy fats. Like avocado, cashews, almond butter, and–my favorite–coconut! I’ve been incorporating a larger than usual variety of these foods into my diet lately because my usual main source of fat (peanut butter–do I even need to tell you that?) has been absent due to the fact that I’ve been doing an elimination diet the past week to see if I have any food sensitivities.

Anyways, I gotta satisfy the place in my heart that PB generally fills somehow, right? So, how about avocado smashed rice cakes?!

I just “smashed” half a beautiful avocado on two brown rice cakes, sprinkled on some salt, and called it a day (maybe next time I’ll try some nooch too). This would be better warm on toast, but I didn’t have any gluten-free toast (for the elimination diet), and rice cakes are cute, so there.

I bought some perfectly ripe juicy peaches at the farmer’s market last Sunday. They were also ridiculously humongous considering they were organic.

For a light breakfast a few days ago, I just sliced one up and drizzled it with coconut oil, and cinnamon. That was enough to fill me up because I’m not joking when I say these peaches were oddly large. The coconut oil kind of solidified on the peach slices because they were cold. It was weird, but still delicious.

Finally, a brilliant discovery I made at my local health food store, Ecoterra: Tomberlie’s Raw Vegan Ice Cream! I bought a–I wanna say pint, but the container was so tiny, it was probably half a pint–of the blueberry flavor because how often do you have blueberry ice cream? Or maybe I just wanted to complete the color spectrum of this post.

Tomberlie’s uses young thai coconut and raw cashews to achieve its creamy texture, and raw agave nectar for sweetness. Most of the ingredients are organic, and there are literally no thickeners or filler ingredients. Besides the ingredients I already mentioned, there was only filtered water, blueberries, lemon juice, and vanilla bean!

I think it’s pretty amazing that the ice cream had such a wonderful, authentic texture given that there’s no emulsifiers or anything. As much as I love So Delicious and Purely Decadent, they have fairly lengthy ingredient lists. Snaps for Tomberlie’s! Plus, what a cool name! :)

Despite its excellence on its own, I had to try the ice cream in my own elimination diet-friendly form of a sundae! The obvious solution: add more frozen blueberries, a squeeze pack of Justin’s Classic Almond Butter, and some cinnamon and more cashews (the last two aren’t pictured here). It was decadent, and, as this post is all about, full of healthy fats!

I can’t wait to try more Tomberlie’s flavors! Especially Fudge Ripple, Chocolate Chip, Praline Pecan, and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut. It’s definitely hard on the wallet, but for being raw and mostly organic, I’ll take it. :)

Autumn is for Foodies

1. Favorite non-dairy milk? I’ve only had it once, but that one time might have been enough to convince me that the creaminess of oat milk can’t be beat. Almond milk is my everyday favorite though.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook? Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping (Veganomicon), Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (Don’t Eat Off The Sidewalk), and Pumpkin French Toast (Vegan Brunch). What’s wrong with me?

3. Topping of choice for popcorn? Can’t remember the last time I had popcorn, but I think I’d go with Earth Balance, nooch, salt, and maybe some dill.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure? Well, I tried to make the Mushroom-Pecan Burgers from The Everyday Vegan, but I halved only some of the ingredients, while putting in the full amount of the rest. I also puréed the mushrooms instead of chopping them by mistake. It was gross and I was about to give it to Rupert before I realized that even he didn’t deserve that.

5. Favorite pickled item? Not big on pickled items, actually. But the pickled ginger I used to make peanut sauce this summer was pretty darn good.

6. How do you organize your recipes? Whenever I get a new cookbook, I go through it, and post-it note every recipe that I’m especially drawn to. Sometimes it’s only a couple, but others–um, Vegan Yum Yum–end up having almost every single recipe marked. For online recipes, I have a hierarchical bookmark system. E.g. under “Baked Goods” is “Bread,” “Muffins,” “Rolls/Buns,” you get it. Since I view Veganomicon as the vegan bible, and since it contains such a wide variety of recipes, I used a lot of Isa and Terri’s chapter labels to guide my bookmark scheme (like “One-Pot Meals and Stove-Top Specialities”). Then I have a lot of recipes from magazines, newspapers, and pages I’ve made copies of from cookbooks I don’t have. Those will eventually make it into a binder. Someday. Maybe. Probably not.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal? Compost bin when I have one (I don’t when I eat at the dining hall, sadly, though some of our dining hall waste gets brought to Pomona’s farm). I think running the garbage disposal is kind of fun though–Is that embarrassing? However, I have to say that one of my biggest fears is someone turning it on when my hands in there trying to get out a mischievious spoon or the like.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)? Peanut butter, sweet potatoes, and the banan-oat-chickpea. What, you haven’t heard of that vegetable? Well, I guess I’ll have to go with the banana for my third, then. :(

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood? Matzo brei! I’m dying to try the Vegan Brunch one.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream? So Delicious Coconut Milk Cookie Dough. Though I don’t love it so much that I’m not open to other contenders. If there was a cookie dough flavor that incorporated peanut butter, my heart would melt faster than a pint of Rice Dream on an Arizona afternoon.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance? It WILL be my Vita-Mix when I get it someday. Okay, lame answer. Food processor, for sure. I need to make hummus and tofu-based mousses, don’t I?!

12. Spice/herb you would die without? Cinnamon! It goes with sweet and savory!

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time? My first vegan cookbooks were birthday presents from my dear parents a month or so after I went vegan: Vegan with a Vengeance, The Joy of Vegan Baking, and Vive le Vegan! One from each of my three favorite vegan chefs: Isa Moskowitz, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, and Dreena Burton!

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly? Raspberry–it’s the perfect combo of sweet and tart.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend? So far, chocolate chip cookies have always been my best bet. Or banana bread.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh? Tempeh. It’s the closest to its whole state, has the best texture, and who doesn’t love that rich, fermented taste? Plus, um, tempeh bacon. Duh.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)? Brunch! Doink.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator? My Magic Bullet blender, cinnamon, nutmeg, carob powder, a tea cup, avocados, coconut oil, and Rawmesan (a raw parm substitute made of walnuts, nooch, sunflower seeds, and sea salt–I keep it in my purse to spice up dining hall meals). Oh, and this isn’t all just on top of any fridge. It’s on top of my dorm room Micro-Fridge, which consists of a microwave, super intense freezer, and a refrigerator.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking. A shit ton of frozen fruit (pineapple, cantaloupe, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and mango), carob chips, and vegan candy bars (the Mahalo and Twilight by Go Max Go!).

20. What’s on your grocery list? Raw oat groats (to make oatgurt!), almond butter, and more dates (for smoothies and snacking).

21. Favorite grocery store? Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. And Food Fight! in Portland!

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet. My mom’s sour cream chocolate chip banana bread.

23. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3? My three favorites are have cake, will travel, Another One Bites the Crust, and Vegan Crunk. Celine, Nicole, and Bianca are all lovely people, each of whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a bit, and their blogs are full of gorgeous photos, exciting recipes, and adorable rambles.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate? Uh, Sweet ‘n Sara S’mores?

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately? Artisana Cacao Bliss! Worth every penny of the 7+ dollars! Haha, for a tiny-ass jar too. Still, amazing.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with? Agar agar. Also, though I’m not afraid of it, I still haven’t worked with yeast!

Scone and a Cuppa

Here is what I daresay was a very agreeable breakfast I had last week on a gray morning. It was an English breakfast, in fact! Channeling my inner Austen–or, more appropriately, Elinor Dashwood.

Coconut-Cherry-Carob Chip Scones with a steaming cuppa–you guessed it–English Breakfast tea.

The scones are based on the recipe for Chocolate Chip Scones in Simple Treats, so they’re wheat-free (ST uses only barley/oat flour in its recipes!). I just substituted a mixture of unsweetened dried coconut, dried Montmorency cherries (my favorite dried fruit from Trader Joe’s), and carob chips for the chocolate chips called for. Um, don’t tell anyone, but I may be pretty close to liking carob more than chocolate. I know this comment may very likely incite a mass freak out, but please just accept it.

These are NOT decadent scones. The barley flour makes them quite dense, and a little dry (though I think I over-baked them a tad?), and there is very little sweetener (I halved the batch, making 4 scones, and only used two tablespoons of turbinado sugar, and one tablespoon of maple syrup).*

However, the lack of inherent richness in these scones was quite easily remedied by warming them up and slathering them with PB & Co. Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, raspberry jam, and a dot of Earth Balance.

In conclusion, toppings to the rescue, but I probably wouldn’t make these scones again when there are so many fluffy, good-on-their-own ones out there!

*Also, it wasn’t a hugeee problem, but I felt like they had a slight baking powdery/salty taste. I may have just messed up–it wasn’t a deal breaker.

A New Favorite Breakfast

Okay, maybe one of my favorites. I’m a big breakfast girl, so them’s fightin’ words. But this is really good and perfect when you want to start your day with something both satisfying and refreshing: Katie’s Banana Blender Cereal!

I’ve made this a few times, and have deviated from her recipe by various degrees. I mean, it’s really only an adaptation of her recipe to the extent that it’s blended cereal, banana, and soy milk, but still. It always turns out great regardless of the cereal, nuts, or other mix-ins I decide to add, but my one this morning was by far the best: made with (gluten-free) Nature’s Path Peanut Butter and Chocolate Leapin’ Lemurs puffs!

If I had to guesstimate, I’d say this was a cup of cereal, one frozen sliced banana (okay, that‘s not a guess), 1/2 cup soy milk, a teaspoon vanilla, a dash of nutmeg, a shit ton of cinnamon, a couple teaspoons of carob powder (to boost the chocolately flavor!), and about a tablespoon of ground flax seeds (because I put flax seeds in everything I blend for brekkie…) If you don’t have a frozen banana, definitely add some ice, though I think it would turn out a lot less creamy without one, so just don’t go there.

It came out extremely rich and creamy and ice cold from the frozen banana. I seriously felt like I was eating a decadent milkshake for breakfast–even more decadent than my usual PB/Carob/Banana smoothie! I think it’s the cereal that does it. Anyways, make this.

Please don’t let my consecutive posting fool you! I’m NOT doing Vegan MoFo–seriously! Just wanted to share a simple yet delightful breakfast.