eating with grandma

Random food pictures from this weekend, when Mother and I visited the grandparents.

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Grandma found these gluten free vegan mushroom rolls at the Farmer’s Market. I was the only one brave enough to eat a couple. They were…weird. The texture was nice for gluten free, but taste was kind of strange. Even grandma said to please take them home because she tried one little bite, and that was enough. I try not to eat things with a million ingredients, but I guess I’ll do it for my grandma, and for Mother’s Day : )

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At least we had nice salads for dinner. I brought along some of the cashew cottage cheese-type stuff I made for Pascha and I didn’t even need any dressing, just a little salt and pepper.

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Mom added balsamic vinegar to hers.

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Luckily most of my family loves popcorn as much as I do. We each had our own giant bowl to eat while watching the season finale of Survivor (I never watch the show at home, but have seen the past two finales with my grandparents). I made another mustard sauce, but used olive oil this time instead of margarine.

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Pretty good stuff. I sprinkled it with a little garlic and a lemon seasoning blend.

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Asparagus for lunch, blackened in olive oil with fresh garlic and lemon juice, and a bit of salt.

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Even more blackened food. Mom did the cauliflower…

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and grandma lightly boiled some Brussels sprouts.

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Our lunch.

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Lovely.

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We used some of the fancy mustard from my Pascha basket to dress up the veggies.

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And P.S. I had Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum for the first time in about 20 years. I spent both the car ride there and back blowing bubbles and then biting them and making that horrible popping sound. Mumra didn’t even complain.

Vegan Super Bowl Sunday aka Puppy Bowl!!!! (also: Day of Eating)

I’ll be real honest with you. I’m not a huge football fan, and I don’t get excited about the Super Bowl or even the supposedly awesome commercials. Or the halftime show. I would rather watch the Puppy Bowl and Kitty Halftime Show on Animal Planet. But one thing I like about Super Bowl Sunday is…the food. Super Bowl Sunday is the 2nd biggest eating day in the US, second only to Thanksgiving. Seriously! And I did my part.

Let’s go through each item…

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Soaking some cashews overnight for a cashew “cheese” spread.

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After draining them, I put them in the food processor with fresh lemon juice, a few tablespoons of leftover liquid from fermented sauerkraut, and salt.

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Get it nice and smooth, adding more lemon juice and water as necessary. You can see the rest of the instructions here.
Next…

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I cooked up some peruano beans (nevermind the photo bombing lime).

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I did a quick soak (thanks, BFF), bringing them to a boil and then removing them from the heat, covered, and letting them sit for an hour. Then I simmered them for about 2 hours.

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When the beans were nice and soft, I drained them…

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and added them to a pan where I had onions & garlic sauteing in olive oil.

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Added a little salt, then mashed about half the beans…

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added a little water…

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stirred and cooked the water down until it had a nice “sauce” to it.

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Then added some orange bell pepper, paprika and pepper.
Next:

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Buffalo tofu. I started by freezing this water packed tofu, then thawing it in the fridge (it does take a long time to thaw in the fridge, give it a couple days). Drain the tofu.

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Freezing water packed tofu changes the texture and gives it a spongy, somewhat meaty texture instead of the usual mushiness. You can kind of see in the picture here, the edges are no longer shiny and smooth.

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Press as much water out of the tofu as possible. I do it by pressing each piece between two small plates over the sink. It’s okay if the tofu breaks a little, but try not to smash it flat.

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Another thing about the spongy texture, it actually soaks up liquids – and flavor – like a sponge. Of course I use a tahini sauce for mine. This is the basic sauce: tahini, lemon, salt, garlic & water. Then I added Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, and turmeric for color. Make it as hot as you like. I kept the sauce pretty thin.

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Pour the sauce over the tofu…

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enough to cover. I let mine marinate for a few hours, but even if you only have 15 minutes or so it should be okay.

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Pop it in the oven around 400. Keep an eye on it and turn it every so often to it can get crispy around the edges, and preferably a nice crust all around. This stuck to the pan like crazy, so you may want to use parchment paper. Either way, it’s going to be a bit of a mess.
And then…

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I found a wonderful recipe for coconut bacon on FettleVegan.com.

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2 Tbsp liquid smoke, 1 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce (I used soy sauce), 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup, 1 Tbsp water. Pepper optional.

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Add 3 1/2 C flaked coconut, and toss lightly with a wooden spoon to coat. I accidentally only used 3 cups, but I’m glad because the flavor turned out just right, in my opinion.

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I also used my hands to mix it, the spoon is just for show. I love sticking my hands in food.
Spread the coconut on a non-stick baking sheet and bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, turning with a spatula about every five minutes to keep it from burning. She says in the original recipe it will burn fast if you don’t watch it – she’s right!

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The first bite I wasn’t sure if I liked it. The second bite, I thought, “Okay, it’s not so bad.” By the 10th or 12 time I caught myself picking in it, I realized…I really like this stuff. A lot.
And now:

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Time to get into the hardcore faux stuff. The original recipe is my dad’s, and is not vegan at all. He calls it Mexican dip, but I don’t think it’s really Mexican. And…we all call it Mickey dip (he hates that!).
I usually use Tofutti cream cheese for this, but I decided to try Follow Your Heart. I got one of each in case the Follow Your Heart wasn’t as good. Guess what? It wasn’t.

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You can kind of see in this picture there is a difference in color and texture. The Follow Your Heart brand is on the left, much softer in texture and darker in color. It has the sort of slight graininess and “off” aftertaste that give vegan dairy subs a bad name. The Tofutti brand has the same thick texture as “real” cream cheese, is nice and smooth, and a lot closer to the real deal. I used most of the cream cheese from each container, but saved a little to have on toast or whatever later.

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Tofutti brand sour cream. I think the cashew cream could also be used here, but I didn’t have enough cashews for all that. Again, I used most of the container, except a couple spoonfuls for a snack.

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You can mix it by hand, but I used the hand mixer because I was in a hurry.

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Add salt, pepper and garlic, to taste. I use A LOT. You can play around with other spices, but everyone I serve this to is used to it this way, and I’m afraid to change it.

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Spoon the mixture into your serving dish and smooth it out. I like to use a glass dish so you can see the layers.

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My dad makes a hot sauce with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and tomato paste, but…I just use Frank’s. Use whatever hot sauce you want, and as much as you’d like.

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Finely chop onion, tomato and bell pepper. Again, pretty much as much as you want…

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Enough to cover.

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Vegan cheddar by Follow Your Heart. This is something the brand does get right.

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Shred enough cheese to cover the veggie layer.

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The Layers.
Next…

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Kale. For kale chips.

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Tear the cleaned kale into pieces (not too small, they really shrink!), toss them in a very light drizzling of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, to taste.

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Spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 325, turning them about every 10 minutes, until they are nice and crispy.

Okay, we’re almost finished. Here’s what we’ve made so far:

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Oooh, I forgot to mention, Z was kind enough to make the guacamole for us.

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Here is our dip…

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barely enough time to get a picture of it before we started to dig in.

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We had corn tortillas (hidden under the paper towel) for the guacamole, beans and walnut taco filling. Where was the walnut taco filling recipe??? Take a look at this post from Worldwide Vegan Taco Day 2012.

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Here’s my little guy.

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The buffalo tofu, a favorite.

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And beautiful, shiny green kale chips.

So, that was great. But the meal isn’t complete without a dessert, right?

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I chopped and froze three bananas.

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This was my first time trying Amande Cultured Almondmilk.

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I liked it.

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I added about 3 Tbsps to the frozen bananas, along with a few Tbsps of plain unsweetened almond milk.
Why yes, that is a Blendtec. Isn’t it nice when friends let you use their fancy stuff???

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After I started blending it, I thought of one more thing I wanted to add. Carob syrup! Add to taste.

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You could also use a food processor for this, maybe it won’t be as fast or as awesome or as expensive, but it will do the trick. Just get everything nice and smooth.

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I divided the mixture between three glasses. Each glass got a nice thick layer of banana smoothie, topped with a spoonful of the savory cashew cream, and sprinkled with the coconut bacon. Then I drizzled a little extra carob syrup over it. I was nervous about the flavor combinations, but it worked!!

What is your favorite vegan Super Bowl snack?

su chee (yes, another sandwich)

I love carbs and I love sandwiches. Sorry for posting so many, but…I can’t help it. Anyway, tonight I had dinner with my family and everyone else ate hamburgers. I try to avoid Boca Burgers, so I decided to use up the rest of the dry tofu I bought for the sushi the other day.

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The sandwich:

Dry tofu & a thick slice of onion, pan fried in olive oil with salt, pepper and garlic. I threw in a big slice of tomato for the last couple minutes. My cashew spread made yet another appearance on the top and bottom buns. Lettuce, pickles and potato chips topped off with plenty of ketchup and mustard.

Corn on the cob smothered in Smart Balance and salt and a nice fruit salad on the side. I wish I had another sandwich….

fourmis adultes sur un bois

I don’t do a whole lot of cooking on weekends. Saturday I got the All You Can Eat special at a local Ethiopian restaurant, last night I went to a Chinese buffet. Today I went to the monastery for confession and the nuns prepared a nice pasta meal for lunch. I just wanted a light snack when I got home, so I went with a variation of the classic Ants on a Log. I guess it’s like “adult” mac n cheese…adult ants on a log.

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I filled the celery with my cashew spread. From the top, the ants are:
Green onions & romaine lettuce, raisins & pistachios, pistachios & green onions

Oh, and on the way back from the monastery we stopped and picked about 100 grape leaves. I think I’m going to have to make some soon.

yummy snack & sushi salad

Today I had to take my pooch to the vet right around dinner time, so I wanted to have a quick snack first. I had some Kavli Garlic Crispybread (basically a giant, thin cracker with only 50 calories per serving of three pieces). I made a couple little open face sandwiches with the cashew spread I made earlier in the week, and some veggies.

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The spread got nice and thick in the fridge, and it tasted great with the garlic & tomatoes.

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…and I have a whole jar to experiment with!

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When I have leftover ingredients from making sushi, but not enough to make another roll (or am just too lazy to make another roll), I throw the stuff in a bowl all together and make a kind of salad. I added some chopped pickled ginger, and then a little Kikkoman Sushi & Sashimi soy sauce.

Anyway, that was a couple hours ago, and now I’m hungry again!