Friday, July 29, 2005

Food for Vegetarians

Originally uploaded by plainsight.
I love this sign--it's a huge billboard atop a building in the industrial district of Seattle. It sits across the street from Starbucks headquarters. I've only eaten at the place once. The food was good, fast, chinese food--nothing fancy, lots of vegan choices, and they were very friendly to Selma who was about two at the time.

Although Seattle is a pretty enlightened city, there are lots of restaurants where it's hard for a vegan to find something to eat. In Takoma Park, where we've just moved, the local pizza joint has a vegan cheese option, and most restaurants label their menu choices "Vegetarian" and "Non-Vegetarian" in a veg-centric sort of way which I like.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Dinner Diary

Tonight I was planning to make falafel, but Selma said she'd prefer pasta, so we had whole wheat spiral noodles mixed with Whole Foods organic sauce, Light Life Smart Ground and topped with soyco vegan parm. We chose frozen broccoli as our vegetable. So much for cooking from scratch! Tomorrow it's falafel for sure...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What's for Dinner? Fried Rice Recipe

So I've been having a bit of dinner inertia lately. I wonder, if I make a point to post a small entry about each night's meal, perhaps I'll put more thought into it or be more inspired.

I tend to do a lot of shortcut cooking these days--like using dehydrated onions or meals made with prefab veggie meats, but if my daugther Selma is getting healthy balanced meals, I don't worry too much about it. It does cost quite a bit more when you don't do things from scratch, and after a second week in a row of $100+ bills at Whole Foods, I'm thinking I should find ways to economize.

Tonight we had veggie fried rice. I make 1 1/2 cups of brown rice in the rice cooker early in the day. (It's also a great way to use up leftover rice) Then right before dinner I saute some frozen veggies ( 1 c. peas, 1/2 c. carrots, 1/2 c. green beans) and some dehydrated onion in canola oil. I add the rice and 1/2 lb. crumbled soft tofu or 4 beaten eggs for a non-vegan version.

Season with nama shoyu (soy sauce) and gomaiso (a sesame-seed seaweed mixture), and a dash of toasted sesame oil to taste.

If the rice is pre-cooked the whole meal takes about 15 minutes to make.


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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Barbecue Memories and Onigiri (Rice Balls)

We spent the last year in Princeton, NJ living in tiny Butler graduate school housing. The row-houses were small and old, and the kitchens were tiny, but we shared a lot of food with our neighbors. When the weather was warm, you'd find Aaron firing up his grill and everyone would bring their family favorites to share. One neighbor, Junko, would bring Japanese rice balls which she'd grill over the fire, basting with a tamari-based sauce. They were delicious!

I've since learned that these rice balls are called onigiri and they are a traditional picinic food in Japan. While there are many recipes online the ones I read seemed more complicated than the simple treasures Junko made.

Last night I tried my hand at recreating them. I cooked two cups of sushi rice in 3 cups of water. Then I used what I had around the house to make a teriyaki-ish sauce:

2/3 cup Nama Shoyu (an unpasturized, raw, cultured soy sauce)
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 Tablespoons organic sugar
1 ounce rice wine vinegar

I simmered this mixture until it had reduced by about half.

When the rice was done, I donned latex gloves, because the little I have read about rice balls said they had to be worked while hot. I scooped about 1/3 cup of rice onto a plate and placed 1/4 t. of brown rice miso in the center. Then I started forming the balls with my hands.

The rice seems to like a lot of "hand-holding." As you squish it together, the grains loose their individuality and "become" the ball. The traditional shape for rice balls is a triangle, so I shaped it with my thumbs and index fingers, and placed it on a plate, covering with plastic-wrap to keep it from drying out. The mixture made 1 dozen.

I made the balls in the afternoon, and kept them covered on the counter until we were ready to grill several hours later.

When the grill was hot, I placed the balls on the grill and basted the top side with the sauce. After about 10 minutes (or when the grill lines were clear on the first side) I turned them over with a spatula, and basted the already grilled side. 10 more minutes or so, and they were done.

It worked beautifully. It's an easy treat that would go great with grilled vegetables, teriyaki tofu or an edamame salad.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Creamsicle Cupcakes

I have made these cupcakes 3 times in the last few days in various forms for various summer parties. They're so easy! A dairy and egg-free cupcake is great even for non-vegans because so many kids these days have food allergies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cupcake pan with papers before you start so you can put the batter in the oven quickly.

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 cup sugar or other dry sweetener
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup orange juice
scant 1/3 cup canola oil
1 T. vanilla

Leavening magic: 1 1/2 T apple cider vinegar

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients. Mix with a whisk. In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients and whisk. (If you're planning for a party and want to do some prep the day before, you can mix the wets and drys in their separate bowls but wait to combine until just before you bake.)

Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry mixture and stir well to combine. Add the vinegar to the batter and stir lightly just until the vinegar is incorporated. Pour batter into cupcake tins filling each well 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 minutes or until cupcakes are firm and golden brown.

Remove from pan to cool, and frost or glaze as you'd like (a chocolate ganache or soy butter cream works great--but a powdered sugar and orange juice qlaze would also be good)

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Currant Affair...

Sorry about the bad pun... I was making a great red rice salad today from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special. The recipe called for currants, but my local grocery store didn't carry them, and since it was Independence Day, I couldn't go roaming around Maryland looking for dried tiny little grapes.

Instead, I just chopped the organic raisins I had into tiny little pieces. It worked great, and it's a less expensive ingredient.

Currants are actually a type of raisin made from the zante or champagne grape, so flavor-wise, the recipe shouldn't change too much.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Sticky Tip

If you need to chop something sticky (like raisins or vegan marshmallows) try spraying your knife with nonstick cooking spray.

Sticky Tip #2

If you need to measure molassas or honey, in a recipe that also calls for oil, measure the oil first, and then the sticky liquid will slide right off the measuring spoon. Not using oil in your recipe? You can oil your measuring spoon with non-stick cooking spray.