All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. ~John Gunther

Sunday, December 30, 2007

norwegian raisin buns - vegan style

My mom made raisin buns all the time when I was a kid, and I would always complain because she didn't put enough raisins in them. When I found this recipe for a vegan version, I decided to become master of my own destiny. Raisins galore!

I borrowed the recipe from here:

I took 1/2 cup of earth balance and put it in a saucepan on low. Then I added 1.25 cups unsweetened soy milk to the saucepan. Careful not to let it boil!

In a bowl I combined 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of cardamom, and a packet of dry yeast and stirred.

Then I poured the earth balance/soy milk mixture over the dry ingredients, and added a little more than a cup of raisins. Then I kneaded it with my hands for about five minutes. I set it, in the bowl I had kneaded it in with a handtowel over it, on top of the stove (the oven was preheated to 430F so the stove was nice and warm) for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes I dumped the sough out on a cutting board coated in flour and kneaded it for another 3 or 4 minutes. I kneaded it into something of a flattish square, and then I used a sharp knife to cut it into about 20 pieces - 4 slices one way and three the other. I took each little dough square and mushed into a ball and set it on a cookie sheet.

Finally, I had prepared a mixture of a few tables spoons of sugar in some warm water on the stove. I brushed this over the top of each bun. ("brush" may not be the word - lacking any kind of pastry brush, I used a spatula.)

Then I put them in the over for about 12 minutes.

When I took them out they required some spatula-ing off of the cookie sheet (maybe I should have greased it) but sliced in half and spread with some earth balance - they tasted exactly like they should.

Fair warning - these aren't a dessert so much as a snack or something to have with coffee. They're not super sweet. yummy though ;)

sunday rose muffins

sometimes breakfast is the hardest meal of the day. you wake up, you're hungry for something tasty, but you haven't been awake long enough to make actually decisions about what that something is. you could go out and buy something, but that would involve putting on shoes. cereal isn't serious enough and pancakes are so...expected. before the first cup of coffee is even half done, the whining has started and the morning is off to a rocky start.

this is when it's time to bust out the muffin recipes - especially if you've never made muffins before. as I type this, the muffins are in the oven and I have no idea how they'll turn out. however, it's been determined that if they taste anything like the batter, they'll taste pretty damn good. I clicked over to the post punk kitchen's website to get an idea for flour-sugar measurements, but the rest is pure invention. the cardamom is a tribute to sarah elisabeth's norwegian roots since norwegian baking puts cardamom in everything, thus making it the most delicious bread products to grace the planet.

*1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
*1 1/4 cups of sugar
*1 tablespoon baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon cinnamon
*3 teaspoons cardamom
*1/2 cup soy milk
*1/2 cup vegetable oil
*1 tablespoon vanilla yogurt
*frozen raspberries
-preheat the oven to 400 degrees
-mix together the dry ingredients
-in a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients
-combine the two, suckers!

at this point, I poured half of the batter into a separate bowl (reusing the wet bowl). I added the defrosted raspberries to one batch and let the other batch stand as is. I opted to pour in some of the raspberry liquid too, which may have been a mistake. it made the batter much more liquidy than it had been. but, since the muffins are still in the oven, I have no idea what the consequences of this action will be.

-fill a greased muffin pan with the batter, filling the tin 2/3 of the way
in this version of muffin adventures, the six on the left are raspberry, the three on the far right are walnut, and the second row in from the right is just plain muffin flavored:
okay! now this is the part where I take the muffins out of the oven and see how they turned out. excitement!

twenty minutes later...

the muffins, folks, they're damn good. I'm not going to lie. they're pretty fantastic. you should make these. see how delicious they look? so delicious. they're very sweet (I blame the sugar), but they taste like divinity. so moist and full of cardamom. they fell a little bit because I wanted to make sure they weren't burning and kept the oven open a tad too long. oh dear me. sometimes I am so excellent at solving the breakfast dilemma.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

the (macro)biotic woman

come january 1, I'm back on the macro wagon. I fell off during the summer when I decided that it was more philosophically sound to fully partake of my farm share and eat the local deadly nightshades (otherwise known as potatoes and tomatoes and peppers) than to avoid them and eat foods grown outside of my neighborhood farm. but now the farm share is over, the rules have been bent, and I'm so far outside of macrobiotic guidelines that it's a bit of a sham to even claim the title for my own.

I got into macrobiotics about a year ago through a book that had been recommended to sarah elisabeth. two things struck me as I studied the basics of this diet:

  1. macrobiotics is a lifestyle choice, not a diet. it's a philosophy that manifests through food but is actually about the way a person chooses to live her life;
  2. macrobiotics is pretty much exactly what my nutritionist had me doing when I was prepping for my back surgery - and that period of my life was the healthiest I think I've ever had.

the description of macrobiotics was so sane and so familiar - creating a diet that is balanced with a person's life and the world around her - that any sort of extremes were diminished in face of the larger picture. (I will admit, however, that it didn't hurt that I had just discovered I was lactose intolerant. cutting out all dairy is much easier when eating it gives a kid crippling gas.) plus the people who were teaching me about macrobiotics, like my friend robin and jessica porter, were so normal when explaining the details to me. yes, there was talk about the yin and yang of foods, but all of it was delivered with a shrug and a take-it-or-leave-it attitude. it was the most rational food talk I'd heard in a long time.

macrobiotic eating is hard to describe to people who have never heard of it, especially because there are some parts of macro living that are guaranteed to raise the crazy flag. like the fact that many people insist that macrobiotics can cure cancer. I don't believe that (not many folks do, it turns out). but I do believe that what I eat should be a balance of foods that are good for me and good for the world around me. I do believe that how I eat is more than just the food on my plate.

this is probably the most straightforward explanation of macro eating and life that I've found. in addition to the macro food pyramid, it also suggests that fresh air, a good night's sleep, and singing are key parts of macrobiotic life. any dietary guideline that tells me that singing a song is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, well, you've got my heart right there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

getting saucy

my cooking can arguably be described as variations on a theme: I cook some vegetables up and serve them on brown rice or whole wheat pasta. sometimes I throw some polenta in there but mostly I don't. however, even I sometimes want a bit of variety. and that's where the sauce comes in.

I don't like heavy sauces because the whole point of my cooking is that I want to know what my food tastes like. but I do want a sauce that will make my veg taste like super exciting versions of themselves. and, if possible, I want to make it myself.

there is an art to the sauce. I am aware of that, although I have no idea how to access that art. for me, sauces are still in the lab stage - I mix some things together and hope that nothing blows up. (I've finally learned to do my mixing outside of the dish in which I'm cooking.) but I like this experimentation. I don't get a white lab coat - a long-standing dream of mine, but I do get to feel like I'm creating a dish versus enabling one.

last night's sauce recipe: 1 healthy teaspoon of red chili paste, 1 healthy pinch of brown sugar, and 1 slow pour of soy sauce. mix in a glass. mix with the carrots, broccoli, and red cabbage over medium high heat. get a little reckless and splash some red wine out of your glass into the pan. enjoy over brown rice.

Monday, December 10, 2007

lentil soup

I work at Downtown Crossing near the Filene's Basement building. When I used to buy my lunch (that is a no-no now, since I am not spending money) I would go to this amazing place that was literally a hole in the wall of the Filene's building called Mediterraneo (sp?) and I would buy their lentil soup and it was amazing. It was agreed in my office that it was probably the best lentil soup
*ever* - but I was truly the strongest adherent. It also came with mouthwatering warm pita - for which I broke my whole grain oath. This was an oath-breaking kind of place.

The Filene's building and everything in it have closed until 2009 or some other godforsaken time when I will probably not be working here anymore. Mediteraneo didn't make it, and so my lentil soup life has been really lacking. I've looked for substitutes, but they're just not right. Nothing in a can compares. The Whole Foods one is too watery, the Bagel Plus one is too oily. I haven't even tried the Finagle A Bagel one because it's too expensive.

So it's been many months since I had good lentil soup, and in the summer and when it was still warm, that was sad but OK, but now I am just over it. So I decided to try to make my own. I read like 18 recipes on the internet, and finally decided to use Post-punk Kitchen's French Lentil Soup recipe as my base:

I managed to make it without going to the store too - everything I needed was in my house! yay simple food.

I drizzled some olive oil in my big stock pot, and then added a whole chopped yellow onion and a huge cubed carrot both from the farm share. I added the onion first, but I let the whole thing saute for quite a while - till it almost smelled like it was burning (but then not quite). Then I chopped pretty much an entire head of garlic (6 cloves?) and added it in, along with a teaspoon and a half of paprika, a teaspoon and a half of thyme, a big dollop of Dijon mustard (Grey Poupon, there was a theory in my office that the secret ingredient in Mediteranneo's soup was mustard) and a teaspoon and a half of salt and probably two teaspoons of pepper (I would have added less salt, I think). after about two minutes I plopped in half of a one of those very large cans of crushed tomatoes and stirred. Then I covered it and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, I uncovered the pot and added 4 cups of water and two veggie bullion cubes and brought it to a boil with the cover on. Then I took the cover off and added 2 cups of generic lentils from stop and shop and 2 bay leaves to the soup and stirred. I let it cook for about an hour with the cover on and then added about 1.5 cups more water. Then I brought it to a boil and let it cook for about 15 minutes with the cover on, and then another half an hour or so with the cover off.

I think I took some pictures, but I don't have them uploaded yet. I'll add them when I get them.

The soup came out really well, it was very thick, which is what I prefer, and I served it with some warm crusty bread, which is always a plus, It reheated well with a tablespoon or two of water added per serving before reheating in the microwave. It wasn't quite mediteranneo - I think it was a little too tomato-y, but I think the mustard gave it the right kick.

I'm going to make it again soon, I think!


remember those breakfast potatoes referred to in the earlier post about breakfast in Norway? I made them the other day to bring to brunch at Max and Lyssa's. And someone thought to take a picture!

I had carrots from the farm share, so I threw those in, and I bought a red pepper and used the potatoes and onions I had from the farmshare. I used oil in stead of butter to enhance vegan-ness. also, heavy on the pepper, and long on the cooking. I put the lid on at the end too. mmmm mmmm.

Monday, December 3, 2007

minimal minestrone. as in, where's the broth?

I decided that I wanted to make minestrone soup. I was having an unknown number of people over to play games, and I have never made minestrone soup. So I found a recipe, and then didn't follow it. yay! The recipe, like most of them, came from allrecipes. The original is at:
It involved a lot of chopping. Luckily, I had help. and lots of potatoes and carrots. yay farmshare!

I chopped 4 big carrots and sarah emily chopped 4 big potatoes. We also chopped a yellow onion and a lot of garlic, I don't remember how much. We put that all in a big pot with some oil oil and started sauteeing.

Then I added a can of tomato paste, a can of red beans (kidney?) and white beans (canellini maybe?) and a can of corn from gina marie's cubpoard. then I stirred. then I added a can of vegetable broth and a 1.5 quarts of water. and then some more water. (another two cups?). This soup ended up suffering from a lack of broth, so I think it would have been appropriate to add even more water at this point. maybe in total 2 cans of broth and 2 quarts of water.

I am trying to remember what spices I added, but since this was 10 days ago, it's hard. I remember that I had fresh oregano, I think, and gina marie chopped that, I think, and we added a lot of that. also salt and lots of pepper, and I bet I put some dried basil in too, because that's yummy. I think probably whatever you like works well. at that point I think it looked like the picture to the left.

I let it simmer for about 45 minutes at this point - I wanted to make sure the potatoes were nice and tender. I added some more water too.

Finally, I added a package of whole wheat elbows and cooked it for another 15 minutes or so. Then Mark stirred.

Then people ate lots of it with crusty bread that Lyssa and Max brought, which was excellent. And then there was very little broth left, and it looked like the picture to the left. Luckily though, people brought more food to the potluck, so the joy did not have to end!

Kristin brought yummy salad with special candied nuts and amazing brusselsprouts, as demonstrated below.

The salad is a little blurry, but it had amazing nuts and was pretty colors and very tasty. and she did not bring it on a pink plate. I just only have pepto pink plates because that's what I got from my grandma when she moved to Cali. the brusselsprouts were seriously to die for. so good. am I spelling brusselsprouts rung? blogger is upet with my spelling.

There was also a serious desert option, which was insane because we were all so full and had played celebrity, mafia, and I think something else too, before we even got to desert. also there was cider and whiskey. obvi. I bought Jim Beam for the occasion even though I'm not supposed to be spending money.

Christopher, in a moment of devious awesomeness, made a blackberry thingy (crisp? buckle? compote with topping?) in the casserole that I made blueberry buckle in to take to his potluck and then left the dish at his house. so we took matching pictures. except we didn't have vegan condoms this time. c'est la vie. it was yummy. but not vegan because he used strawberries and cream instant oatmeal packets for the topping. which I think is hilarious.

There was also leftover pumpkin chocolate chip squares, but you'll have to get that recipe in another post!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

justify my love: the garlic edition

over brunch this weekend, the food blog came up. here's how the food blog has changed my life: I have discovered that I have a serious garlic issue. I won't call it a problem, but let's just say that my instinct with garlic is to lean hard on the extreme; I always at the very least double the number of cloves required for a recipe and, when just free-wheelin' in the kitchen, tend to throw in a good half head or so for a simple stir fry. my hands tend to reek of garlic at all times, let alone the impression that my breath can leave.

thank goodness, then, that the NYTimes has my back: Unlocking the Benefits of Garlic. not only does this explain that garlic is good for you, but it emphasizes that a lot of garlic is good for you. y'all should be thanking me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

brussel sprouts return to the neighborhood

here's my theory: people who don't like brussel sprouts just don't know they like brussel sprouts. here's the corollary: brussel sprouts are the enigma of mainstream vegetable life. here's my example: how many folks out there know that brussel sprouts look like this prior to packaging:

it's a stalk - cool, right? and so my premise is that if most people don't even know how brussel sprouts come into the world, how can they possibly know how to treat them right? here's my suggestion for a night on the town with your dear friend, monsieur b. sprout, chaperoned by my culinary panacea, garlic.

1. preheat the oven to 350.

2. mince a lot of garlic. like, five cloves at least. go nuts. or hold back, but know that I would be going nuts with the garlic if I were you.

3. wash your brussel sprouts and peel off the top leaves. cut brussel sprouts in half and lay them on a baking sheet with the newly cut side facing up. the number of brussel sprouts is really of no importance. how many people are you feeding? what else are you serving? are you nervous about the taste? (don't be. keep washing and cutting brussel sprouts. this is good.)

4. when you've maxed out your sprouts, sprinkle them with olive oil and minced garlic. I like to toss on a sesame seed-seaweed-sea salt mixture as well, but you can skip that entirely, or use plain salt and pepper.

(also, please take a moment to observe my DIY pot lid on the back burner. nice, huh?)

5. check on the brussel sprouts after 20 minutes. you want the insides to be soft and the outside leaves to be crunchy. a good hint is to examine the state of the garlic. if it's still brown and roasting, you're fine. if it's looking burnt, well, take those puppies out of the oven.

6. if you're feeling crazy, scrape all the brussel sprouts and garlic-olive oil mixture into a bowl and toss before serving. otherwise, just use a spatula and place these on a plate. it's good stuff. I had these with brown rice for lunch this week, added them to a soup for extra flavor, and just ate them cold out of the fridge. seriously. this will change your mind about brussel sprouts.

and if I'm wrong, you're not using enough garlic.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

bumpin' garlic bread

garlic bread is super easy to make. also, it involves garlic, which means it is awesome. at sarah elisabeth's prompting, I'm going to share a little garlic bread recipe. I think this recipe may have just come straight out of my head and I'm pretty certain I make it slightly differently each time, so please feel free to tweak where it seems necessary. the version I'm writing down right now may not have reached its optimal garlic-ness.

1) begin with a loaf or half loaf of bread. the exact kind of bread doesn't really matter, but it should stem from the same philosophy as the baguette - crusty on the outside and soft in the middle. I'm a sucker for sourdough, but sarah elisabeth is not (among others). pop the bread into the oven as you preheat to 325.

2) while the oven (and bread) are preheating, mince yourself some garlic. if you're hardcore about hand mincing, be my guest. however, I like the garlic press in this instance, because you get more of a garlic paste that works better for spreading. I use a lot of garlic. like, five cloves minimum, but that's because I think garlic will save us all.

3) take the bread out of the oven. it should be warm and a bit toasty, but not burnt. slice it into inch-wide pieces, leaving the loaf connected at the bottom. like gills. you want to make bread gills.

4) with a knife, spread some buttery thing (I use earth balance, but real butter has been known to work as well) in between the slices. it doesn't have to be perfectly spread or fully covered. this is going to work as a...palette setter for the garlic. plus, buttery-tasting things are generally a hit.

5) with your fingers, insert the garlic or garlic paste in between the bread gills. rub the insides of the slices with the garlic so that there's a complete coating. consider the bread a house for garlic-y goodness.

6) wrap the loaf up in tin foil. I have a theory that this keeps the garlic from escaping into the ether, but maybe I made that up. either way, it will keep the bread from burning when you pop it back in the oven.

7) take the bread out of the oven after 15-20 minutes. check it. maybe put it in for longer. or don't. really, this is your call.

7.5) now, I do have to say that I have been occasionally criticized for having actual pieces of garlic in my garlic bread. apparently some people just want the garlic flavor without the garlic. if you must, take a fork and scrape out the pieces of garlic before you serve your garlic bread. just don't do it when you have me over because I will be offended on behalf of the garlic.

8) place loaf on a pretty plate. serve. allow people to rip off pieces and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

onion soup could use some improvement

So I want to start by highly recommending something. It is vegetarian, but not quite vegan, and it tastes yummy, and it comes in a box and all you have to do is heat it up:
Pacific French Onion soup is very yummy, you just heat it up, and, add croutons and some grated hard cheese, and, voila!

It's just broth though, so I thought it would be yummy to saute some onions to put in the soup. This came out pretty well, but could have been better. I put some olive oil in the pan and then chopped a very pungent onion from the farm share and sauteed on low for like 20 minutes. The onions weren't as translucent/brown as I wanted them, but we were hungry, and I figured that I'd add the soup and they would keep getting limper.

sauteeing onions:

It came out perfectly nice to eat, but I think it would have been nice if the onions had been much limper and more caramelized - who wants crispy onions in their french onion soup? next time I think I will put the heat on a little higher and saute the onions a lot longer. c'est la vie.

We ate it with some bumpin' vegan garlic bread though, which sarah emily made and I'm hoping she'll post about it soon :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

beef stew - are you tired of my weekend yet?

So here comes, finally, the beef stew I've been threatening to make for ages. I just realized I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but you'll just have to deal with seeing the process.

Also, will someone please buy me a digital camera? the phone camera sucks.

Once again, as with the spaghetti sauce, this is my dad's recipe. but all mistakes are mine :)

For starters you need 1.5 pounds of beef. I like to just buy the precut stewing beef, because then you don't have to trim it. I still cut it into smaller pieces though. If you can't get it precut or it's much cheaper not too, get a nice piece of beef and trim off the fat on the outside and cut it into cubes about 3/4 inch.

I bought stewing meat, so I just made the pieces smaller and then dumped them into my big pot and turned the gas on about medium. I stirred every so often until the meat was pretty brown on all sides. This creates some nice juicyness and drippings that will make the stew taste good. add some salt and pepper at this point as well. while it's cooking chop one small-medium sized onion or half a large onion. when the meat is pretty brown, add in the onion. and then it will look like this:

Next it's time for spices. lots of spices. add dried thyme, basil, and marjoram (marjoram is key - it's totally what makes it taste/smell like stew!) I usually add about 1-2 tablespoons of each - but mostly I just play it by ear. whatever I have enough of. Stir.

Then comes the tricky part - not that tricky, but my dad made it sound tricky when he was first explaining it to me. add 2 tablespoons of flour, like this:

stir the flour until the meat and onions are nicely coated. this is what will thicken the broth into a tasty, thick stew.

next add water. I like to add a lot. the general rule is 2 cups of water for every bullion cube that you are going to add, and you need to bring the water level up at least as twice as high as the meat, but I like to bring it up much higher. This time I added 6 cups of water, but then I added more later, so it might be prudent to add it all at the beginning. now turn the heat up to high. then I added 3 beef bullion cubes - however, these were extra large bullion cubes, and I think made the stew a bit saltier than I liked it, so if you used extra large bullion cubes, I'd go with 8 cups of water for 3 bullion cubes.

Next use a wooden spoon to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot so all those nice drippings the meat made earlier get mixed into the broth.

Add a bay leaf.

now lower the heat so that the soup is simmering, not boiling. just little bubbles. Let it sit on the stove simmering for about an hour. if you only have half an hour, that's ok, but longer is better.

While it's doing that chop your vegetables. My dad always says 3/4 cup of carrots and 3/4 of a cup of potatoes, but I always add more than that because that's my favorite part. I think I chopped 1 1/2 cups of carrots and 2 cups of potatoes (peeled first) and it was about right.

The carrot was actually all one carrot, because it was an enormous carrot from my farmshare. the potatoes were also from the farm share, but unlike the carrot, were not so spectacularly large as to require me to take a picture of them:

Look how big that is!!!

After an hour, add the carrots, and stir.

let the carrots simmer for ten minutes in the stew, and then add the potatoes.

finally, add the secret ingredient:

2 tablespoons of plain tomato paste, and stir. You will see that this completely changes the color of the stew, and makes it amaaaaazing.

cook until the potatoes are nice and tender - but take it off the heat before they get mushy!

You can check the salt and pepper at this time and adjust to taste as needed. I say less salt, but sometimes really peppery stew is excellent.

you can serve it right off the stove once the potatoes are done, but it is best 1-2 days later out of the fridge. if the broth has dissipated, feel good about adding a fair bit of water to it before it hits the stove/microwave for reheating. The leftovers are always better than the original.

blueberry muffins. so not vegan.

On Sunday morning I woke up and made blueberry muffins. blueberries were on sale at wholefoods, but still ridiculously expensive. nonetheless, I powered through - I combined two recipes from the internet and then modified them - because I'm awesome like that.

I hadn't made muffins in ages, so I was a little worried, and I ran into several snafus, but then gina marie told me they were the best muffins she's every had, and then I felt good about it. they are really freaking good.

so first I went to whole foods in my pajamas and slippers because I had forgotten to buy muffin cups. I am now the proud owner of 60 organic unbleached muffin cups.

then I sprayed the muffin pan with Pam and spread it around in there with a paper towel. Then I put a muffin cup in each little round. I had 4 foil cups yet so I used those to see if there was any measurable difference - there wasn't.

then I began the long and arduous process of making the muffins, which was a pain in the butt because I have no mixer (it turned out I had my hand blender, but I couldn't find it at the time.)

because of the lack of mixer, I but a stick of butter (1/2 cup) in the microwave for 20 seconds so that it would be somewhat beatable, then I added 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and went to town with a wooden spoon for about twenty minutes. (read some new york times and checked my email while I was doing it). When I felt like I couldn't stand to make it any "fluffier" I gave up and mixed 1 3/4 cups white flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder in a separate bowl. I decided against buttermilk because, really, who needs buttermilk? so I measured out 1/2 cup of organic 2% milk and I alternated mixing in spoonfuls of the flour mixture and pours of milk until it was all well blended with my eternally useful wooden spoon.

I was feeling saucy so I also added a little more than 1/2 a teaspoon of lemon flavoring to the batter, just to see what would happen.

I had 4 of those little-bitty plastic containers of blueberries. I mashed one of the containers in a bowl with the back of a spoon, and stirred it into the batter. I took the other 3 and tossed them with a 1/4 cup of flour in a larger bowl. then I took the flour-dusted blueberries out of the bowl and mixed into the batter what was left of the flour I used to coat the blueberries. Finally, I gently folded in the flour-dusted blueberries.

Then I used my wooden spoon and my blueberry crushing spoon and dumped a sizeable amount of batter into each muffin cup (there were 12) and tried to keep it even until I had used all the batter (they get very full! - it's ok!)

Finally, I sprinkled the tops with sugar.

Then I put them in the preheated 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes - really I just waited till the tops were light brown because my oven timer didn't work (I'm kind of incompetent with that.

The results... mmm...

yay! aren't you proud of me?

Vegan Blueberry Buckle

On Saturday I had a vegan potluck on my list of things to do, and I had promised to make a dessert. This was maybe not the best idea since I am no vegan baking expert, but I turned to the internet, which is always my friend in times of baking crisis. On the Post-Punk Kitchen website (created by the same vegan chef extraordinaire referred to in sarah emily's last post) I found a user-submitted recipe for blueberry buckle.

I have never made a buckle before, and certainly not a blueberry one, but it seemed like a good adventure. My roommate was using the cake pan to make Jello (she offered it up to me, but I decided I would just be crazy) so I decided to make it in a casserole pan. Why not?!

Here's what I did (lightly adapted from this recipe:

I used my hands to rub earth balance around the inside of my casserole pan.

In a big silver mixing bowl I mixed:
1/4 cup corn oil
1/2 cup sugar (so maybe some vegans won't eat that. so sue me. I'm not about to waste by buying sucanat when I have white sugar sitting in my kitchen!)
1/4 cup soy yogurt (plain plain plain unsweetened)
1 pinch of salt

I mixed these with my very incompetent whisk-that-is-missing-a-handle. It worked ok though, this was not hard to mix. It smelled good too. Like yogurt.

Then I added 1 cup of whole wheat flour and beat that in with the special whisk.
then I beat in 1 teaspoon of baking soda and an additional 1/3 cup of soy yogurt (who knew soy yogurt was useful for anything??)

I spread my dough in the greased casserole with a spoon
then I dumped a little more than 2 cups of frozen blueberries on top and tried to even them out with my hands and not have frozen blueberries all over my floor for stepping on.

Finally I had to make the topping. the vegan topping presents some challenge - vegan fake-butter melts so easily that it is hard to make it crumble. I tried, and failed, but it came out ok anyways:

I scooped 1/4 cup of Earth Balance out of its tub with a measuring spoon and put it in my measuring cup since that was already dirty anyways.
Then I dumped in 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour, and a 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground coriander, and ground ginger. This smelled really good.
Then I mushed it around with my (clean) fingers and tried to make it crumbly, but then I realized that the more I worked it, the more my fingers warmed it up, so I gave up and just sort of tried to crumble it evenly over the top of the buckle.

Then I put the casserole in the preheated 350 degree oven and left it there for just under an hour (but for a bit more than the 50-minute recommended baking time because I was worried that since my pan was deeper but not as big that it might not cook ok in the middle.)

Finally I took it out, put a lid on it, and put it in a bag and took it on the T to porter square, where it was eventually consumed :).

Here are some pictures (thanks Hilary!):

me eating the buckle because I wanted to try it before I had to go:

with vegan condoms:

also, fyi, a buckle seems to be something with a cake-y bottom, a pie/cobbler middle/ and a crisp/crumble top. Make sense? In theory this was supposed to be cut into bars, but since I made it in a round casserole, that was not happening. Plus then it would cool too fast. but the point is, the bottom is solid and thick and full of soy yogurt-fortified cake, so you could cut it into bars.

Get ready for more posts soon. this was a hard-cookin' weekend.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

3am snacks at 48 fairmont...

1 package of ramen noodles
lots of frozen diced mixed veggies
half a can of corn
all the broth out of sarah's bowl
all the broth into gina's bowl
an electric blanket

= two happy campers at 48 fairmont having a happy 3am picnic in sarah's warm cozy bed. the end.

Friday, November 9, 2007

my new fetish

you know what I want? this:

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is pretty much the bee's knees when it comes to incredible vegan cooking. almost every recipe I have that I use to dazzle the masses comes from her punkrawk hands. her previous cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance, is basically my bible. this new book is huge, gorgeous, and full of recipes I cannot wait to try. I'm in love with it. when it becomes mine, I will have a hundred of its hardcover, animal-free babies.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Breakfast in Skurdalen, from the one who makes it.

Sarah emily posted a bit about breakfast in Norway. The breakfast that she and others have eaten that I make in the cabin in Skurdalen (pronounced, roughly, "skrewdallin,") is influenced by the smorgasbord-y breakfasts common in scandinavia, the bread, cheese and eggs that they consume constantly, and my dad's awesome cooking skills, straight outta southern california.

Basically, the key is, use everything in the little cabin refrigerator, including whatever is left of last night's fish dinner. It's important to have at least one hot "centerpiece" - this is to satisfy the American in me.

Usually, it's potatoes. To make the potatoes:

scrub a buncha little potatoes (you can peel if you want, but I never do) - either red or white
cube the potatoes
cube one small-medium sized onion
finely chop or crush 4 cloves of garlic
put a 1/4 stick of butter or (for vegans, lactards, and the rest of the butter-averse) a bunch of oil (vegetable or olive) in a frying pan
add onions on medium heat
add garlic
saute about 2 minutes
add in potatoes
stir pan with spatula every 1-2 minutes
dice 1 red, yellow or orange pepper (optional)
dice 1 zucchini (optional)
(you can add pretty much any vegetables you have, they will change it up a little, I have found peppers and zucchini particularly satisfying, but carrots, broccoli, etc can also be good - or you can skip the extra veggies altogether and just revel in starchy goodness)
after potatoes have been in pan for about 10-15 minutes, add zucchini and pepper
add salt & lots of pepper
add garlic powder if you feel like it
cook - stirring often to avoid burning, and adding more butter/oil (especially necessary when using butter) whenever it seems prudent.
you can now be done, if you wish. Vegans must finish here.

optionally, you can scramble/fry an egg into the potatoes.
to do this, whisk an a few eggs, and optionally, some milk in a bowl.
pour the mixture over the potatoes and stir it around.
it's done when the eggs are cooked to your liking.


add cheese!
you can grate it or just break off hunks. In Norway I almost always use gulost (yellow cheese - which is sort of like a mild cheddar) or jarlsberg (a mild swiss-like cheese) for this.
add chunks of cheese liberally with the heat on medium low and stir until it melts.

when the potatoes are done, put them in a brightly colored bowl with some kind of ikea utensil for serving.

Moving on from the potatoes,
another key element is the boiled egg.
you need an egg cup for everyone
boil the eggs to their liking (softer is better for this purpose).
put each egg in an egg cup.
when it's time to eat the egg, tap your knife on the side of the egg near the very top to crack it a little, and then slice off the top.
if you like, add a little salt and or pepper to exposed egg.
now using your little bitty spoon, scoop the egg out of it's shell to eat it. you can eat it off the spoon, or you can put it on bread as part of your smorbrod assembly.

which brings us to smorbrod, the real heart of the breakfast. "Smor" in Norwegian, means butter. "bord" means table, thus, smorgasbord, buttertable. smorbrod is what norwegians eat for breakfast and lunch - butterbread. basically, you take some bread - usually a pretty heavy one with lots of seeds and stuff in it, and you spread some butter on it, and then you spread more stuff on it. the "smor" (butter) has come to mean more than just bread, so the smor is the spread, whatever you spread on it, and that's what we but on the smorgasbord (spread table!)

Here are some typical things for the smorgasbord:

bread, sliced in a basket sitting next to the toastmaster (person sitting next to the toaster is the toastmaster. they toast bread on request for the rest of the table) you might have a graabrod, very rough bread, "loff" (pronounced "loof") which is yummy white bread, solskinnbrod, which is sunshine bread and has sunflower seeds, and whatever other bread you baked or picked up at the bakery. Also in the breadbasket there may be Wasa crackers or other breadlike objects that you can spread things on.

cheeses. set them out on a wooden board with a knife and a cheeseslicer (norwegian invention!). I usually but out all the kinds of cheese in the fridge, usually at least one yellow cheese, one brown cheese (usually geitost, a brown sort of sweet caramelly goat cheese - geit means goat), something kind of creamy and/or stinky, and then whatever else you picked up.

veggies. usually a tomato (tomat), a pepper (paprika), a cucumber (agurk), put on a board with a paring knife so people can slice their own. these are key.

meats/fishies. salami or other sliced meat, any leftovers. often I poach the fish (fisk) that we catch in the lake, and if you make it nice the night before it's very yummy the next day. sometimes I reheat it by sauteeing it in a little parsley butter (persillesmor) just before breakfast. (there is no microwave at the cabin, which is why the food always tastes better). also, jars of little fishes, brined and pickled - herring mostly. These are not my favorite, but sometimes I put them out so folks can try. Norwegians also like to eat little shrimps (reker) and breakfast. I can't usually afford it, but smoked salmon is also a biggy. and yummy. sometimes also there is bacon, but the norwegians have nothing to do with that :).

Boiled eggs. I know we already had them in our eggcups, but it's important to also have them hardboiled for peeling and putting in the eggslicer (another norwegian invention!), which then makes perfect smorbrod slices.

also key are butter, jams (syltetoy) (the norwegians are big on blueberry), nutella or other chocolate (sjokolade) spread.

then everyone sits down with their hot beverage, their cold beverage, and gets started on their eggcup, the bread gets toasted, people have some potatoes, and then the spreading begins. At this point it is also key to *make your lunch* - which you do by spreading your bread (all open face sandwiches in norway) and then putting a piece of wax paper between each piece of spread bread. then you wrap it in more wax paper - or if you're modern like me, a plastic bag.

then you go swimming in the lake and fall asleep with your book on your face.

breakfast in norway

in norway, breakfast is a big deal. sarah elisabeth is a master of creating the extravagant meal with which one begins the day. here you can see the wide array of foods - eggs, rice, two types of cheese, bread, vegetables, meats, and more. sarah and zeke (a friend of the happy diner) lovingly prepared breakfast for the rest of the cabin one morning this past august. norwegian breakfasts mark a turning point in my appreciation of the meal. two years ago I returned to the states with a new understanding of what a leisurely, filling breakfast can do for a person. I also returned pretty convinced that I needed a job where admiring public sculpture was required, but that's a meditation for a different blog.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

leisure is hard

shortly after my leisurely breakfast confession, I created a zen corner in my apartment. the theory behind it was to have an area that could serve as a space with no other purpose but for me to chill out, tucked away from the main rooms in my home. I made a low table out of a paned window and put some cushions on the floor. in my head, I imagined this as a place where I would go and drink tea and think about trees and life goals. in reality, I knew that it would likely involve me sitting there, muttering, "zen. zen!" under my breath.

but mostly, I envisioned eating breakfast in my zen corner, beginning my day slowly and calmly. I even switched my schedule around a bit so that I had more time for breakfast, more time to relax and reflect as I got ready for the rest of the day. I had a zen corner and it would allow me to have more than 7 minutes for cereal.

this hasn't happened. I'm going to be honest here. I'm still eating a 7 minute breakfast and now using the extra time to get to my job early and work, uh, 9 hour days. my zen corner looks very peaceful whenever I rush by it on my way from the shower to my room.

more cookie adventures with gina marie.

let's continue to follow gina marie in her adventures and misadventures in the world of chocolate chip cookies.

if you remember, last time we saw gina marie, she had made some chocolate chip cookies with egg whites from a carton and soy butter substitute type thing. these cookies were not good, although we can't stress enough that it was not the fault of the fake/soy/vegan butter stuff, and there have since been more successful attempts at vegan baking, although, as sarah emily mentioned, there was no fake butter involved.

so, this time, gina marie made the best cookies ever, and enjoyed by many a lantern maker. the goodness of these cookies was a result (we learned from later testing) of real butter, real eggs, an oven that heats 50 degrees hotter than you tell it to, and some serious undercooking. mmmmm raw cookies.

so my suggestions to cookie makers: use lots of butter, crank up the oven, take the cookies out when they still look like melty dough in the middle, and always always always *always* use the nestle toll house cookie recipe.

Monday, October 22, 2007

white bean and roasted garlic soup

I'm sick right now and cannot taste a damn thing. this makes eating difficult because I have to rely entirely on texture - a dicey issue for me in the first place. soup, however, is a perfect antidote to the problem since it has a nice, neutral texture. last sunday night I made one of my favorite soups, one particularly suited to being sick because it is loaded with garlic. I've been eating all week, tasting it a little bit more each day. I love this not only because it's delicious, but it also requires very little prep.

Roasted garlic and white bean soup:
*2 tbsp olive oil
*1 medium onion, chopped
*1 tsp salt
*1/2 tsp fennel seeds crushed
*4 cups vegetable broth, or 2 tbsp veggie bouillon sauce and 2 cups of water
*3 cans of cooked white beans, drained
*3 fresh sage leaves, chopped or a couple of large pinches dried sage
*1-2 bay leaves
*juice of 1/2 lemon
*2 heads of garlic roasted or 4 heads of garlic, chopped in large pieces

saute the onions in a stockpot in olive oil for about 5 to 7 minutes. add the salt, some black pepper, and the fennel seeds and saute for about another minute. (I like to use a mortar and pestle to crush the fennel seeds because then my house smells like fennel and I can think about severus snape, greasy git that he is.)

add the broth (or broth elements), beans, sage, and the bay leaves. bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer for about five minutes. turn the heat off and remove the bay leaves.

if you have a hand mixer, you can do the next part directly in the stockpot. otherwise, you'll need to put the soup into a blender: add the garlic and puree yourself some soup so that it's thick and somewhere between lumpy and smooth. add lemon juice to taste and then serve. I like to eat it over brown rice.

this makes a lot of servings which is good because, if you are sick like I've been sick, you won't be able to taste anything the first time you eat it. but, as you get better, you'll be able to revel in the garlicky goodness.

Friday, October 19, 2007

meat sauce for spaghetti. like bolognese. but different

So I made my spaghetti sauce for the first time in two years last night - it came out pretty good I thought! Could have used some more kick, but overall, it worked out. I make a lot so that I can freeze more than half of what I make and then thaw it out of nice little meal appropriate containers when I'm ready. It tastes better after it sits around for awhile anyways.

Here's my recipe. I'll try and take some pictures next time I thaw...

Go to Super Stop & Shop and buy all the cans of tomato products you need for cheap
Go to Whole Foods and buy 1 to 1.5 lbs organic grass fed not-too-lean ground beef. the 90% lean stuff is not juicy enough. And I'm afraid of beef that's not all yuppie and expensive.

This is totally my dad's recipe. He taught me to cook it, and mine will never be as good as his.

Brown the beef all by itself (no oil or anything) in the bottom of the big pot you're going to make the sauce in.
When the beef is half way to brown, add 1/2 a big or 1 small chopped yellow sweet onion. stir it up.

Add some salt and cracked pepper. be liberal.

When the meat is all cooked through (all brown, no pink) add about 1 teaspoon of finely chopped or crushed garlic (usually about 3 cloves in the garlic press) and keep sauteing.

Stir and then immediately add 2 tablespoons of dry basil, 1 teaspoon dry thyme and 1 teaspoon oregano. Don't brown the garlic! turn down the heat a little to avoid this.

after about 4 minutes with the garlic and spices in there, return the burner to high heat and add 2/3 cup of red wine and cook it on high for 2-3 minutes to burn off the alcohol.

Reduce the heat and add a regular-sized can of chopped tomatoes and stir,

add 2 regular-sized cans or one of the mega cans of tomato sauce (plain tomato sauce made by Heinz or whatever that comes in a can, no fancy jars or ragu necessary.) Add one little can (a little more than 2 tablespoons usually) of tomato paste and 2 large bay leaves and stir.

Sometimes at this point I add a little water by running the same half can of water through all the cans of tomato sauce of used and stirring that in. reduces waste, helps cleaning, and adds a little liquid.

Reduce heat so that the sauce is simmering but not boiling - no big bubbles. Leave it for 1/2 an hour to to 2 hours. I think at least an hour is ideal. Then you can eat it on pasta! Freeze the rest unless you're eating it tomorrow, in which case put it in the fridge. the more days on, the better it will be.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yes and No

three foods that I will almost always say yes to, no matter what form they're in:
1) red cabbage
2) bok choy
3) kale

three foods that I will almost always say no to, no matter what form they're in:
1) maple syrup
2) honey
3) eggplant

I'm lactose intolerant and will drink a pint of milk sooner than I'll have anything that is remotely maple flavored. I would prefer to have crippling gas than even smell the stuff.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

toast, hash browns, and big plans

So last night at just before 11pm gina marie and I rolled up to Super Stop & Shop to buy cans of things. I managed to buy only *1* item requiring refrigeration because I am classy. And that item was crescent rolls that come in that little metal & cardboard cylinder, again, because I'm classy.

The reason I bought crescent rolls, and a whole bunch of cans of tomato products, is because I am gearing up to make meat sauce for spaghetti and to make beef stew. I've decided that if I go to Whole Foods and buy organic, grass-fed, insanely expensive beef, that I will not get mad cow disease, and I will be able to make yummy food that lasts awhile. I love making food that tastes *better* the next day.

It's really not so in line with the macrobiotic plans, although it is all dairy free... but I don't know how to make any really good vegan soups, and I miss this stuff now that it is getting cold. Any recipes for vegetable soups (including stock and stock recommendations) especially soups with beans and lentil soup, are much appreciated.

In the meantime stay tuned for the beef stew experience and results (the secret ingredient is tomato paste) and for the meat sauce (the secret ingredient dad's recipe?).

The other exciting thing about Super Stop & Shop was that they had my whole grain raisin bread! I had been looking for it for ages since they stopped carrying it at Whole Foods, and I had despaired and all but given up. But now, glory be, I had yummy whole grain raisin toast with earth balance this morning.

And then I got to work and had hash browns from burger king. gross, but satisfying in that oily potato way, but still gross.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

csa adventures

this is where most of the cooking begins. we find out what our vegetables for the week are, we pick them out and take them home, and then begins the wondering: "what does one make with two heads of cabbage, an acorn squash, and five hot peppers?..."

we promised you pictures

sarah elisabeth and I - and now gina marie as well - have a share in a CSA - community supported agriculture. this means that every week, from june through october, we get veggies fresh off a local farm in granby, ma. the food is incredible because it's very much alive and in its purest form, not like the things that we get at the grocery store that are frequently grown for longevity, not flavor. example: I fell in love with carrots this summer after remembering (discovering?) what they're supposed to taste like.

this week we got lots and lots of peppers. red ones, green ones, greeny-yellow ones, and amazingly bright orange ones. I took my half home and set about making dinner. after remembering sarah elisabeth's post about successful sauces, I opened my fridge to see what I had that could be turned into a sauce of dazzling proportion. huh, I thought to myself, I haven't used mustard for a really long time - and I have three different kinds. so mustard it was, and several big squirts of stoneground mustard went into the pan with my onions, peppers, and spinach. it smelled amazing. the sautéing vegetables sizzled in the mustard and I had to keep reminding myself that the smell of a dish while it cooks frequently means nothing about what it's going to taste like. still, I was excited.

except, when I poured the vegetables over brown rice and served a bowl for myself and for gina marie, the mustard flavor had mysteriously vanished. I had warned gina prior to her first bite that I had no idea how it would taste, but that it was likely to be very mustard-y. this was, apparently, a big fat lie. where did the mustard go? did I cook it off? did the water from the spinach dilute it? the dish didn't even smell like mustard anymore. I'm stumped.

the time i set the kitchen on fire...

...ok, so i didn't actually set the kitchen on fire, but almost. so sarah elisabeth gave me an eggplant, because she and sarah emily don't like them. and it was getting old, so i decided to make eggplant parmesan, because what else do you do with an eggplant? this involved buying tomato sauce and cheese, then salting, pressing, and drying the eggplant (and being amazed by how much water came out of them!), making breadcrumbs (they were too expensive to justify buying, so instead i filled the kitchen with smoke by burning bread in the toaster, then chopping the bread into little crumbs), covering the eggplant in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs, and fryng the eggplant in olive oil.

so this is when i got in trouble. i turned on the oven to preheat while i was frying the eggplant, and i was so focused that i failed to notice that the kitchen filled with smoke, until the smoke detectors went off. apparently, cooking a whole bunch of ethiopian food the past weekend sometimes leaves your oven a bit dirty. so i knocked on michael's door, since he is the landlord, but he didn't know how to turn off the alarms, and went back to eating his dinner. sarah elisabeth didn't answer her phone, so i looked up how to turn off smoke alarms on the internet, then fanned them with a book for ten minutes. then michael came back, and as soon as he rang the doorbell, the alarms went off. thanks michael!

i'm not quite sure that eggplant parmesan was worth an almost fire and losing my hearing.

salsa salsa salsa...

Sometimes you don't just want to eat plain salsa.

There are two things that you can do. one is kind of gross. both taste really good.

This first one I learned as an exchange student at Mt. Holyoke. The girls there get all crazy at about 3am because there are no boys there. They get a wild look in their eyes and start screaming "Queso!! Queso!!"

Then they take a block of velveeta and a jar of salsa
put them in a bowl
and put it in the microwave.

Now dip things in it. yummy. mmmm cholesterol.

The much classier salsa I like to make is:

1 can of black beans, drained
1 ripe avocado, chopped
2-4 tablespoons of that salsa in the back of your fridge that you need to use

dip away. This keeps ok for the next day too. You can also add other things... chopped carrots, cilantro, canned corn, whatever you need to.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

let's talk about vegan cheese

I have only ever had one vegan cheese product that I liked. I like the "Grated Vegan Topping" in the purple salt-shaker sized container. the other few I have tried are all real gross or weird or just not worth it.

I stopped eating most dairy products because they made me congested and I think my body has to work too hard to process them. Cutting down on cheese has been good for my congestion, weight fluctuation, amount of energy, and avoiding processed foods (lots of dairy products, weirdly). I really miss cheese though.

Ironically, parm is probably one of the more innocuous cheese products - hard cheese are usually minimally problematic for the lactose intolerant, you don't eat as much of it as, oh, cream cheese on a bagel, or giant blocks of cheddar in the woods, and it has a lot of bacterial breakdown goodness. It's weird then that it is the only thing that I have found an acceptable (I wouldn't make risotto with it) substitute for.

Does anyone have any recommendations for cheese substitutes? or suggestions for what I should eat when I'm splurging? (I've been eating a lot of mint chocolate chip ice cream. oops.)

hypocritically speaking

confession: I do not regularly practice the leisurely breakfast. in fact, there are between 7-10 minutes allotted for breakfast in my morning routine on work days.

breakfast consists of soy milk and the Kashi whole grain cereal that resembles cat food. I inhale my cereal, make sure I don't have any left in my teeth, and then rush out the door by 6:35 am to catch the bus.

I hate it. I miss reading over breakfast, not getting hungry again by 8:30 am, and mostly feeling in control of my morning - something that sets the tone for the day. eating on the run feels gross and far too modern for my liking, but when I have to choose between a leisurely breakfast and waking up even earlier than I already do, I'm afraid there's not much contest. it's unsatisfying and counter to much of what I believe about both food and life.

I'm considering skipping breakfast at home entirely and just having it at work. this would be multitasking and awfully yuppie, but maybe would give me more time to pull myself together in the morning? I'm not sure. suggestions are welcome.

Monday, October 8, 2007

benedictine tastes like apples cider

After dinner today we decided to try the Benedictine that my dad cryptically gave me last year after learning that my plan for boozing up the apple cider was Wild Turkey. We hadn't opened it but finally decided to try it.

It smells like spicy rubbing alcohol and cough syrup. It tastes like very sweet cinnamonny alcohol syrup, but when you put it in cider it tastes like... sweet cinnamony cider that will get you drunk. I don't know if that's a good thing, but it is certainly interesting.

We strongly discourage doing shots of Benedictine, drinking it straight, or smelling it - ever.

The wikipedia article reads, in part, :Every bottle of Bénédictine has the initials D.O.M. written on the label. Mistakenly thought by some to refer to "Dominican Order of Monks," it actually stands for "Deo Optimo Maximo"; "Deus" is Latin for God, "Optimus" is Latin for "best" and "Maximo" is Latin for "greatest" - you could in English interpret this as "To God, most good, most great".

And, my favorite part:

Burnley Miners' Club in Burnley, United Kingdom is the world's biggest single consumer of Benedictine liqueur thanks to the Lancashire regiments that acquired a taste for it during the First World War. --

pasta sauce with red wine

Today I made some rotini and I made some sauce with whatever was left in the fridge. It came out pretty good!

some olive oil in a saute pan
1 very pungent yellow onion (they were crying in the dining room), coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
I put that on low heat, onions first, then garlic.

EDIT: Then I added a big handful of pine nuts. This is key!!!

Then I chopped a little red pepper that I had from the farmshare (the garlic is from the farmshare too) and dropped that in.

Next I chopped up some farmshare kale that had been sitting in the fridge for awhile and put that in. Then I put the water in.

Then I realized that spices are good, and I added salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder.

Then I went into Susan's cupbard and got a can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes and put that in too. At this point we are on medium heat.

once the pasta was in the boiling water, I took the $4.99 bottle of chianti from Trader Joe's that we were drinking and added a whole bunch to the sauce. Then I turned the heat up to medium high so that it would bubble and burn off the alcohol, drank some more wine, and drained the pasta (which was not quite al dente, but turned out fine).

once the sauce had bubbled viciously for a few minutes I turned it down to a simmer and added just a little more oil and let it thicken for a few minutes. Then I put the rotini in a white bowl and poured the sauce on top and stirred. It was good!

We followed it with mint chocolate chip ice cream (excellent) and Benedictine Liqueur (weird).

fake butter makes yummy cookies, or the secret of successful vegan eating

oh, gina marie. I have to disagree with your quick dismissal of fake butter. I mean, I had the cookies and yes, they resembled Hagrid's rockcakes more than chocolate chip cookies - which is perhaps the one time in my life that I've been disappointed by a Harry Potter moment. however, I must argue that fake butter can make amazing cookies, but only if you go in with this essential piece of knowledge:

vegan food products are totally not substitutable for their non-vegan counterparts.

you see this error a bunch with tofu. just like chicken! the package will declare. tastes better than bacon! the ads will claim. well...not exactly. tofu is not the substitute teacher for the class of twenty-first century vegetarians. tofu is best when it's taken for exactly what it is.

take this lesson into dairy-free cookies. fake butter does not work the same as real butter and will really only leave you disappointed and grumpy if you treat it as such. however, fake butter falls under the vegan but if you set out to make dairy-free cookies and use a smart vegan recipe, you'll have crazy awesome cookies.

interestingly enough, most of my vegan cookie adventures have not required fake butter at all. I'll post a recipe later for the practical part of the class.

fake butter makes yucky cookies.

ok, so one time, i made chocolate chip cookies with fake soy margerine stuff, and egg whites in a carton. they were not good. the end.