November 2007

Forgive my lapse in posts. Last weekend I moved for the third time this year. After spending another day hauling boxes and furniture to a new place–this time a studio apartment right down the street from my old house–I can’t help but think of the birds migrating right now. Every morning and evening, I look up into the sky and see flocks of swallows and wrens and other unidentifiable birds (without the aid of binoculars, at least) soar above and past me on their journey south. They move twice a year, some thousands of miles in a matter of days, and they survive battering wind, rain, snow, factories, and hunters’ guns–birds are amazing. Moving is considered one of the most stressful events in a person’s life, but for geese and cranes and sparrows and tanagers, moving, migration, is life, it’s life-giving, life-renewing.

Pygmy Kingfisher
Amazon Rain Forest, March 2007

I’m in the middle of finals now (and 20 page seminar papers on Samuel Beckett) and less than one week into living at my new place. I wrecked my bike on Monday and have been trying to use public transportation to get the four miles to class and work that I normally bike every morning–life is stressful. But the migrating birds are giving me strength right now. And what I would give to be back in the Amazon stalking birds in the canopy or on the river…

Dear world, meet my new kitchen, soup pot and all:

Yes, the place is small–I don’t even have a silverware drawer–but it’s my own. My own dear kitchen. My own dear kitchen with a nice tile counter, a gas stove, a teeny tiny oven, and a refrigerator that is all my own!!! I feel like I’ve dropped into heaven!

Oh, and meet Brautigan:

He’s the kitty I adopted that, unfortunately no longer lives with me. He was only 8 or 9 months old, a growing cat who needs lots of space to run and play and bounce around it. My 250 sq ft apartment didn’t cut it. So I did a cat switch with my mom. I got the two siamese cats in exchange–Sheba, a bitchy 11 year old lass who hides under the bed and hisses, and Mistoffelees, a 4 year old who used to be really playful until he went through rounds and rounds of urinary tract infections and is now just fat. I mean, they’re sweet cats, dont’ get me wrong, but I miss Brautigan already, and it’s only been a few hours. He was my dream cat. But I just couldn’t give him what he needed.

And, just to top it off, a few glamour shots of Rad and Merckx at the new place:

I guess it’s time to catch up on my long delayed (ok, less than a week still) Thanksgiving post. My family came to my house for the meal because I had the most space–a real dining room, the largest kitchen of them all–and because, frankly, I wanted to control the side dishes. My mother did threaten at one point to throw butter in the beans and mashed potatoes…thanks mom. Mind you, my family isn’t huge by any sense of the imagination. The guests were my mother, my brother and his wife, and two of my friends who wanted to have a bigger dinner than one or two dishes shared between themselves.

We had quite a spread, and I would have taken more pictures but I was tired of being ridiculed, so I don’t have more. My mother brought the turkey for her and my brother and his wife (somehow a 12 pound whole turkey was cheaper than a turkey breast…I bet they’re still eating turkey today, actually), stuffing (vegan and non) and a pumpkin pie. Josh and Amy brought Quorn Chickn reubens (which I did eat, swiss cheese and all–yes, I’m a bad bad vegan) and a bean and nut salad. I provided the rolls, carmelized onions and green beans, garlic mashed potatoes, millet pumpkin casserole, and a shmlove pie.

So. Much. Food.

Shmlove Pie

I’m not going to give you the Shmlove Pie recipe–go buy Veganomicon for that. It’s worth the whole book. I’ve made it twice and it gets better every time. Seriously, go buy the book, even if you love meat and can’t abide the thought of cooking vegan food. It’s seriously the only recipe source I’m using right now and I couldn’t possibly be happier with any other book.

But here’s the recipe for my take on Mark Bittman’s Autumn Millet Bake Recipe which I found on Heidi’s site, 101 Cookbooks. Forgive the photo. The lighting in my dining room was horrid and I had to take the picture without any styling.

Autumn Millet Bake

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for the dish
1 1/2 cup millet
1 small pumpkin, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used half of a medium sized pumpkin)
1 cup fresh cranberries
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 cup vegetable stock or water, warmed
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 2-quart casserole, a large gratin dish, or a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the millet and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes (hs note: don’t overdo it). Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Scatter the pumpkin cubes and the cranberries on top of the millet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the sage and drizzle with syrup. Carefully pour the warmed stock over all (cp note: I did about 1 cup stock & 1/2 cup soy milk ). Cover tightly with foil and bake without disturbing, for 45 minutes.

Carefully uncover and turn the oven to 400F. As discreetly as possible, sneak a taste and adjust the seasoning. If it looks too dry, add a spoonful or two of water or stock. (hs note: This is key! The millet should be close to being cooked through at this point, if not you need to add liquid and keep it moist and cooking ). Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top, and return the dish to the oven. Bake until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned (hs note: and the millet is cooked through), another 10 minutes or so. Serve piping hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6.

I moved the day after Thanksgiving and I don’t have internet yet, so my post is a bit on the late (but still on time!) end this month.

This month Tanna of My Kitchen In Half Cups chose “Tender Potato Bread” as the November Daring Bakers challenge. I love bread! And it’s automatically vegan. From the get-go I was excited about the recipe. In the spirit of an already DB vegan recipe I decided to follow it to the letter of the law. So on Thanksgiving morning (mind you, I’m hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year–for the first time ever…) I woke up and started on the delicious carbohydrate goodness.

Following the recipe EXACTLY was a bad bad bad idea. DO NOT add in all of the water first. I used, I swear to god, 8-10 cups of flour and the dough was still hell to work with. Sticky, soppy, sad sad mess. Luckily my mom was at my house by the time I tried to shape the rolls and she gave me a helping hand. It was a two person job. Seriously, the dough was ridiculous.

The rolls, however, were taaaasty. Mmm mmm good. They were soft and sourdoughy and perfect for a mixed vegan-meaty Thanksgiving dinner. Because the dough was so hard to work with, the rolls didn’t turn our nearly as pretty as I was hoping. They were huge and moundish…but the taste is what matters.

I would totally make this recipe again (I’m still eating off of it now!), but I would recommend adding HALF of the water and at the end, when you’re kneading, probably, add more water or flour as needed. Adding all of the water and then trying to add enough flour was a mess and a pain in the ass (pardon my french, I’m young, it comes second nature to me) and got flour all over the kitchen–my clothes were thrown into the hamper as soon as I was done attempting to knead the stickyness.

Anyways, here’s the recipe. Bake if you dare!

Potato Rolls

4 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet & Yukon gold
4 cups water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
6 ½ cups to 8 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 cup whole wheat flour

Put the potatoes and 4 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender.

Drain the potatoes, SAVE THE POTATO WATER, and mash the potatoes well.

Measure out 3 cups of the reserved potato water (add extra water if needed to make 3 cups). Place the water and mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread in – directions will be for by hand. Let cool to lukewarm – stir well before testing the temperature – it should feel barely warm to your hand. You should be able to submerge you hand in the mix and not be uncomfortable.

Mix & stir yeast into cooled water and mashed potatoes & water and let stand 5 minutes.

Then mix in 2 cups of all-purpose flour and mix. Allow to rest several minutes.

Sprinkle on the remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly.

Add 2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour and stir until all the flour has been incorporated.

At this point you have used 4 cups of the possible 8 ½ cups suggested by the recipe.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but as it takes up more flour from the kneading surface, it will become easier to handle; use a dough scraper to keep your surface clean. The kneaded dough will still be very soft.

Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently several minutes. It will be moist and a little sticky.

Divide the dough into 2 unequal pieces in a proportion of one-third and two-thirds (one will be twice as large as the other). Place the smaller piece to one side and cover loosely.

Butter a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake pan or a shallow cake pan. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball under the palm of your floured hand and place on the baking sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between the balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 35 minutes, until puffy and almost doubled.

Dust risen rolls with a little all-purpose flour or lightly brush the tops with a little melted butter or olive oil (the butter will give a golden/browned crust). Slash crosswise two or three times with a razor blade or very sharp knife and immediately place on the stone, tiles or baking sheet in the oven.

Bake rolls until golden, about 30 minutes.

My family is coming to my house tomorrow and they threatened to boycott if a Tofurkey showed up. But I’ve never eaten one and I really wanted to and I live next door to the vegan store and it’d been a long day–I just had to. So maybe I should revise that survey and state that my most extravagant food purchase was the tofurkey for tonight. I had no idea that it would take 3 hours to cook frozen, so I thawed it in the microwave, popped it in the oven while I was working on a pie for tomorrow’s feast, slopped some frozen snow peas in 15 minutes before it was done, pulled the tofu football out, and sliced it up.

You know what? It tastes kinda turkeyish. I mean, the texture is way off–it’s too dense–but the flavor wasn’t too bad. Not turkey, but not tofu. Or seitan. Or TVP or whatever that thing is made out of–don’t tell me, I really don’t want to know. And now I’m stuffed. I feel like I ate too much turkey like my mom and brother and his wife will tomorrow, tryptophan and all.

Tomorrow I’ll be cooking more legitimate food, never fear, so those pictures and recipes will be up soon. But for now I’m going to laze around in the delicious fake meat-ness that is the all-American, all-processed, all-salty Tofurkey.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Plain soymilk…I don’t really have a favorite brand, just whatever is on sale.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
I’m going to be remaking the Shmlove pie for Thanksgiving and I totally love that, I’m baking my secret weapon, the vegan crepe cake, for a bake-off on Dec. 1, and I really want to go to town this December with vegan Christmas cookies.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Nutritional yeast with a bit of Earth Balance!

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
That strawberry mirror cake that was a Daring Baker’s challenge this summer. It used two huge double quarts of strawberries and didn’t taste like strawberries, the texture was disgusting, and I had to use gelatin which made my heart die a bit inside.

5. Favorite pickled item?
None, ew.

6. How do you organize your recipes?
I don’t. I used to have a fairly comprehensive blog, but since I rashly deleted it, that’s not a method anymore. I use cookbooks with post-it notes on the pages for upcoming recipes and log specific recipes from blogs in a Google Doc.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
I wish I could compost. But I can’t, so I have to trash. Or my rats eat the food scraps. 🙂

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)?
Broccoli, chocolate, and chickpeas. I’d have to make hummus somehow!

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Jesus’ birthday cake. Two dark chocolate cake layers with an amaretto or chocolate chip cheesecake in between and frosted with dark chocolate butter cream frosting. Jesus knew how to order the holiday cake, let me tell you.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
Temptation. They don’t sell it in Georgia anymore. I’m really pissed off.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
If I had it, a kitchenaid mixer. Since I don’t…my hand mixer.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Cinnamon! I over spice everything (baked good-like that is) with cinnamon.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
I don’t have any old cookbooks anymore…There’s a Food & Wine cookbook I’ve had for a few years. I rarely use it though–too many fancy ingredients.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Can vegan nutella count? I don’t eat jam or jelly.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Some sort of vegetable pot-pie dish with vegan biscuits on top. Mmm comfort food.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Tofu. Not a big fan of any of them though.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
Dinner. I often cook late at night after writing papers or reading boring lit. theory books as a way to destress.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Bread, potholders, our lease.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Vegan ice cream, frozen pizza sauce, frozen split pea soup.

20. What’s on your grocery list?
Baking chocolate, silken tofu.

21. Favorite grocery store?
Sevananda. It’s the grocery coop in Atlanta and out of my price range most of the time, but I love their emphasis on local/organic produce and tasty vegan ingredients.

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.
Angel Food Cake. It was given to me as a challenge back in May, I tried, I failed, it’s been bugging me ever since. I just can’t afford that much agar agar!

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, 101 Cookbooks, Smitten Kitchen.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
Erm. I don’t make extravagant food purchases since my student budget is kinda slim. I do buy coffee and vegan ice cream more than I’d want to admit.

26. What was your favorite food BEFORE becoming veg*n?
Everything chocolate and tasty. Or cheesecake. Or pastries. Oh my god chocolate cream cheese filled croissants, croissants in general, cream puffs, everything. I can make these all myself, but I miss being able to go to restaurants and coffee shops and being able to order whatever looks good.

Fall saunters into Georgia like belles to a ball. Always late, but fashionably so, and wearing the most vibrant dresses.

I believe in comfort food. I believe that it can cure all ills, warm the heart and stomach, and woo lovers. I believe in warm soups and stews in the winter (even though God knows it’s ain’t winter in Georgia yet…schizophrenic weather). And most of all, I believe in my mother’s split pea and ham soup.

Crap. Ham in soup. That’s not very vegan. Or vegan at all.

So I made Veganomicon’s split pea soup with roasted red peppers. The red pepper idea is genius. Unfortunately, red peppers, although tasty, don’t add the same effect as ham to a split pea soup. Don’t get me wrong, the soup is good. It’s just not comfort food good. So I’m going to steal my mother’s recipe this week and try this again at a later date. I can almost guarantee that the roasted red peppers will show up again, but I just need more flavor than the recipe gave me.

The rats were a fan. They might not be the best taste testers ever, but their positive attitude towards everything I make is quite humoring.

The cornbread, however, worked really well with the soup. After reading Heidi’s yeast raised cornbread muffin recipe, I really wish I would have made that recipe instead, time consuming as it is, but Isa and Terry’s recipe from Veganomicon is quite tasty in a more traditional way.

Vegan Double Cornbread

2 c soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 c cornmeal
1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c oil
1 c frozen and partially thawed corn kernels

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a skillet over medium heat, saute the corn kernels in oil for approx. 7 minutes, or until the corn is slightly browned.

Combine the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside to curdle for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Create a well in the center and add the soy milk mixture and oil. Mix together with a spoon until just combined. Fold in the corn kernels.

Pour the batter into a 9×13 baking pan. Bake for appox. 30 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remember how I said I made pumpkin squares for the Monday Night Vegan Potluck? Well, here’s the recipe (finally!).

The recipe is from Veganomicon (I’m in a rut, a happy tasty Veganomicon rut!) and everyone loved them. I talked to my friend Stuart yesterday and when I mentioned I still had a few left over he immediately asked if I happened to have any in my messenger bag because, really, that would make his day.

I must admit that I’ve breakfasted on these this week and eaten slivers all throughout the day. They remind me a lot of banana bread…except pumpkin, and the pecan streusel is uber tasty (even though I bought the salted pecans instead of plain roasted pecans by accident).

Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Streusel

Pecan Streusel:
1/4 c all purpose flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 c coarsely chopped pecans

1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree
3/4 c soy milk
1/4 c canola oil
1.5 c granulated sugar
3 Tbsp molasses
2 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 c all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan.

For the streusel:
In a small bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, and spices. Drizzle in the canola oil and mix with your fingertips until crumbs form. Add the chopped pecans.

For the cake:
Combine the pumpkin, soy milk, oil, granulated sugar, molasses, and vanilla. Mix well. Add half the flour, the baking powder, salt, and the spices. Use a fork to fold everything together. Add the remaining flour and mix gently until combined.

Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Scatter the streusel on top as evenly as possible.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Governor Sonny Purdue held a prayer meeting at the state Capitol today. The purpose? To bring an end to the drought.


“We come here very reverently and respectfully to pray up a storm,” Perdue told those in attendance. –Atlanta Journal Constitution

There was only one demonstrator. I should have been there. Where has reason gone?

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