It’s Cookie Time!

Super-quick post because I am running out to go to dinner at H’s aunt’s house. I have a ton of great stuff to share in the coming days, but no time right now to put together a detailed post, so I’ll save it for later this weekend.  For now, I wanted to put up pictures of the cookies I am bringing tonight (I hate to show up anywhere empty-handed!).

They are the Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton.

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Here they are fresh out of the oven, on my reusable parchment paper (which I adore!)

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I singled this one out as the most attractive of the bunch, and he got his own photo-shoot.

Then I ate one, because, ya know…I need to make sure it’s good before feeding it to other people.

…it was.

This recipe is completely fail-proof, quick, and easy.  And DELICIOUS!  I honestly wonder how anyone could think you need a ton of butter and eggs to make cookies after trying these.  A great starter recipe for those times when you’re trying to convince omnivores that vegan food is good. Which for me is all of the time.

Back soon with a special edition Food Truck post!!!

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Spring Things

The weather in Boston has been less than delightful the past week or two, despite that it’s now late April.  Last week it was pretty frigid, extremely windy and in the 40’s.  However, yesterday we got a glimpse of the sunny days to come with morning sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s!  Even though it got cloudy later in the day and threatened rain, the temperature stayed comfortable, which was a big relief to me (I hate being cold!).  Today is much the same; cloudy but mild.

Anyway, enough small talk.  Whether or not the weather cooperates, it’s spring, people!  And that means it’s time for fresh produce and love.  It also means that it’s almost summer, the time of year when for all intents and purposes I follow a raw diet because there is just that much fabulous produce available!  But I digress.

Lately I’ve been loving me some zucchini and summer squash.  I made a couple of random yet tasty dishes with these recently.

One night I was “using up” so I tossed some cut-up zukes and squash into a sautee with onions, garlic, chickpeas, and olive oil.

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Then I mixed it all into a pot of whole wheat couscous that I’d cooked in vegetable broth that needed using.

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Sorry for the dark picture…the evening lighting in my apartment sucks

This was so friggin’ easy and versatile.  I ate it as pictured above the first night, but when eating as leftovers, I topped it with mushroom spaghetti sauce.  True to form.  I love sauce.  Like whoa.

And so, a few days later I made my own sauce that was comprised of spring vegetables: zucchini, squash, and red bell pepper.

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It’s a stop light!

Then, I browned them in a stock pot with garlic and olive oil:
browning

Once the veggies had a nice caramelized look to them, I added jarred mushroom spaghetti sauce and a bunch of spices (chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic salt, oregano…I am not very specific about these things) and let it simmer.  While it cooked, I had a very typical A. Cook appetizer…

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Garlic dill pickles and kalamata olives…salty heaven!

Finally I cooked up some elbow macaroni and vegan meatballs and tossed it all together in a bowl.  The result: veggie-filled, warm, spicy goodness.

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Dinner!!

In case anyone is curious, these are the meatballs I used:
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I always keep a bag of these in the freezer. You can get them at Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s makes a version of them now as well.  I prefer the ones pictured, personally.  The price is pretty comparable and I find that the Nate’s brand are softer when heated, whereas the TJ ones sometimes have hard bits around the edges.

In other news (and H can testify to this), over the last week I have been consuming obscene amounts of green vegetables, namely spinach, kale, and broccoli.  (Lucky for Mr. Asparagus, though unlucky for me, he is never on sale for under $4/lb. anywhere in Boston and that is the only reason he has been spared from my insatiable green appetite.)  But seriously, I can’t get enough.  And that, my friends, is how I know it’s springtime!

Earth Day

I just realized something…for some reason, I have never really thought very much about Earth Day.  Sure, back in grammar school I made a few vaguely globe-shaped masterpieces out of blue and green finger paint and papier-mâché, and in middle school my Girl Scout troop would head out to Sandy Hook and pick up trash, but it’s not the type of holiday I tend to bookmark on my calendar or make special plans for.

However, today I’m feeling alot of Earth Day spirit.  I’m not sure why exactly it is, but it’s enough that it’s made me feel I want to post about it.   A significant portion of my personal reasons for following a vegan lifestyle have to do with the effects that the human race’s food “preferences” and “tastes” have on our planet.  I don’t usually get on any kind of soap box on this blog, so if anyone is put off by it, I apologize, but I really feel this is worth writing.

Put quite plainly, factory farming is completely and utterly destroying the earth.  It is indisputably one of the top contributing factors to global warming in the world, and this will only worsen as countries like China and India continue to industrialize and expand.  It contributes to world hunger, as the food that could be used to feed starving humans is instead diverted to animals who will themselves be eaten.  It destroys the oceans.  It pollutes available water supplies while simultaneously depleting them.  This article by One Green Planet provides a neat and thoughtful summary of the foregoing facts.

I have never been the kind of person to tell others what they should think or how they should behave.  I do feel strongly, however, that it is every person’s responsibility to at least be educated about and aware of his or her own impact on this planet.  Being in denial doesn’t change what is happening in front of our very eyes.  If we keep treating our earth the way we currently do, it’s not going to be around very long.  And that is really a sad thought.  I want my children and great-great-great-great-grandchildren alike to be able to enjoy this planet as I have throughout my life…to be able to see and appreciate the beautiful cities that mankind’s ingenuity has produced as well as the natural wonders of this world.  Something’s gotta give.

I’ve read a couple of great articles today that give a pretty good summary of some of my feelings about veganism and helping the environment.  One is by a Huffington Post blogger who succinctly discusses the meaning of one’s choice to eat animals, and the other is a really great piece by Kathy Freston about the positive impact that simply decreasing our consumption of animal products could have on the world.  It’s inspiring stuff, and is certainly food for thought (no pun intended!).  On a more upbeat note, I found a cool Boston.com article about Boston area Earth Day events!  I am at work so will probably not get a chance to check any of them out, but it was fun to look through the little slideshow anyway.

And finally, I will leave you with a picture of the flowers I bought for my apartment last week.  They were cheap but pretty, I thought, and they help me remember that spring is actually here, despite that it’s been in the 40’s and brutally windy the last few days here.

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Happy Earth Day!!!

The Crave

Anyone else remember this guy?
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“Me want Honeycomb!!!” 

Well, today I have the Crave.  Not for Honeycomb, but for food from the Clover truck

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Guess what though?  I can’t have Clover, because it’s Passover, and everything yummy that I love to eat from there comes on a big slab of chametz fluffy delicious pita.  Ooh…except the French fries!  But wait, what’s that?  Oh, damn…the wedding diet just leaned over, shook its finger in  my face, and said, “No, piggy, you can’t have those either.”  Sads. 

I can, however, wistfully recount the delightful Clover sandwich I had last week. 

It was Clover’s classic Soy BLT, made with tempeh bacon.  It contains mayo but if you ask for a vegan version, they will leave off the mayo or substitute something way more fabulous like tahini, which is what I had on this baby:

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I ate this in about 4 minutes flat.  It was that good, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, I don’t even like tempeh all that much.  And so, next Wednesday, when Passover has ended, I will likely break that record.  I’m placing a bet on myself to scarf 3 of them in 5 minutes.  Watch me.

**UPDATE 12:10 p.m.**:  I received the following information from Rolando Robledo via Twitter–@acooknthemaking If you ask for a boat we’ll make you a sandwich w/ no bread- Works better w/ Eastern sandwiches – Egg & Eggplant & Chickpea.

You see why I love the Clover truck?!

Red Lentil

On Monday, I had a wonderful evening out with a group of veg friends at Red Lentil in Watertown, MA.  It is an all vegetarian restaurant, with a menu full of vegan options (clearly labeled) as well as vegan-izable options (clearly explained).   My group consisted of four ovo-lacto-vegetarians and two vegans (myself included), and we were all very happy at the end of the night!

What follows is a rave review and a more photo-heavy post than I normally do, so enjoy!

Red Lentil
The interior of Red Lentil (love the bright green color!)

We started with appetizers…
Sesame Encrusted Seitan Strips
Sesame Encrusted Seitan Strips (with miso horseradish dipping sauce)

Gobi Manchurian
Gobi Manchurian

Grande Nachos
Grande Nachos (not vegan)

Then the entrees

Shepherd's Pie
Vegan Shepherd’s pie

Special Salad
Salad with mango, avocado, and grapefruit (it was on the specials menu so I’m  not sure what else exactly was in/on it…vegan though, I think)

Mexican Pizza
Mexican Pizza (not vegan)

Special Lasagne
Lasagne (also from the specials menu…not vegan)

Three Bean Burrito
Three Bean Burrito (not vegan)

And obviously, dessert!

Peach Almond Cake
Peach Almond Cake

Choco Banana Cake
Choco-Banana Cake

Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake (with one bite out of it…someone couldn’t wait!)

Whew!  I’ll start with the appetizers.  The Gobi Manchurian was awesome; I am sure that I could have eaten two plates of it by myself.  I also was a big fan of the seitan strips; the texture was dense and chewy, and I loved the complement of the scallions and especially the dipping sauce.  I didn’t eat the nachos but the others said they were pretty good.  (I think they all preferred the vegan appetizers though!)

Earlier in the day, I checked out the menu online, and when I read the description of the Shepherd’s Pie, my jaw dropped.  I knew I had to have it.  The other vegan in our party actually ended up ordering the same thing, and we both LOVED it.  Look at that picture.  No, seriously, scroll back up for a second and soak it in.  It was gorgeous.  And huge–I got two meals out of it!  But most importantly, it was delicious.  There were so many complex flavors and textures…I was in heaven.  It took alot of self-control to stop eating and save enough to take home for dinner the next day…

All of the desserts on the menu were vegan.  We decided on the three slices above to share around the table.  My favorite was the Peach Almond, second favorite was the Carrot Cake.  The Choco-banana one fell a little short of my expectations.  It seemed a little dry to me.  Also I think I just really, really liked Red Lentil’s  “cream cheese” icing, which topped both of the other slices.  Sorry for the less-than-stellar pictures of dessert…the table was so full of stuff by the time it arrived that photographing them was sort of awkward! 

I wish I lived closer to Red Lentil.  It is a little on the pricier side (for this little student’s budget) so maybe it’s good that I don’t.  I would really like to eat there again some time though!

Love That Dirty Water

Hello!  While it is Monday and I am back to my crazy grind, I had a wonderful weekend and wanted to do a quick post to recap one of the highlights–last night’s excursion to see Red Sox vs. Yankees at Fenway park!  And the Sox won!  2 and 7 baby–woo!

H and I were super-excited to get to Fenway on the weekend of the Sox’ home opener.  We decided to save a little cash by doing a ballpark-style dinner from the comfort (not to mention veg-friendliness) of our own home beforehand.  I am so proud of what I came up with! 

Using Lightlife’s Smart Dogs, I did a classic “ballpark dog” with ketchup and mustard as well as a spicy chili dog, which was topped with Amy’s black bean chili, chopped jalapenos, and chopped caramelized onions.  H had the same thing but with Stupid Dogs regular beef hot dogs.

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Beautiful, right?

Then we headed to the ball game.

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Green Monster!

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Pedroia the destroya–definitely MVP of the game, imo

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Papelbon running out to Shippin Up to Boston–my favorite moment of any game in which he closes

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H  and me, wearing many layers but also big smiles!

All in all, a fantastic evening of ballpark fun–I finally feel like spring is here!

Go Easy

Well, I’m sorry to say that I have little to report that is very interesting from my weekend away.  Failed veganventure.

H and I and our two travel companions began our trip south early Friday morning.  The first leg of the trip consisted of snow, freezing rain, ice, and fog.  And traffic.  Not pleasant.  I had packed a whole giant bag of food for the ride, knowing that there might not be many roadside options for me.  The bag contained: bananas, two PB&J sandwiches, a bag of original flavor Pop Chips, a baggie stuffed with pretzels, another baggie full of Oreos, and a container of Very Simple Blueberry Muffins from VegWeb (see below for recipe and pictures).

The entire journey took about twelve hours and was very pleasant in terms of company and conversation.  Biggest problem for me was being hungry for alot of the time.  I don’t know what it is about my body/preferences/metabolism (?), but I can’t just subsist on snacky food.  I wanted to eat something real after all that time.  Unfortunately, our three stops for food consisted of McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and KFC.  No thanks.

By the time we got to Charlottesville my body was practically begging for some real food.  Before we checked into our hotel, we stopped at a veg-friendly Chinese restaurant called Ming Dynasty.  I got some sort of veggie-pork with vegetables and brown rice.  I didn’t take a picture because my camera was packed somewhere in the car and I was too hungry to wait until we got out and unpacked and everything.  So no picture…sorry 😦  However, karma repaid me for being too greedy to do my blog duty, because after a few bites, my food then spilled all over the car floor, and got filled with grit and who knows what else so that I couldn’t eat it anymore.  But from what I remember, it was tasty.   And it smelled pretty good in the car the next day, since the sauce got into the carpets (sorry again!!)  So, go Ming Dynasty, I guess.  (I was extremely upset about this whole incident, by the way.)

I didn’t eat or do anything for the rest of the weekend that I’d care to share on this forum.  What I can tell you is that I had a muffin and banana for each of Saturday and Sunday breakfast, and on Saturday, I had a salad from Chipotle (with all the vegan trimmings) while the rest of my friends chowed down at Buffalo Wild Wings, and then Saturday night I had a similar dinner (rice, beans, hot sauce, veggies) from Qdoba.  Again, not my best weekend.

So there you have it.  A failed veganventure.  Hey, we can’t win ’em all!  And anyway, the muffins were delicious!  I made another batch that had blueberries and strawberries in it and those were good too (though I preferred the blueberries-only version).

Here are some pictures, and the recipe is here.  I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk in both of my batches.  I also added about 1/4-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1-2 dashes of nutmeg to each.  Just my personal taste preference, but I was happy with how it came out.  These are super-easy and very quick.

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A beautiful blueberry muffin

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The whole batch (I made four giant ones and one smaller one [seen top left–cute, right?]…you could definitely get at least 8 cupcake-sized muffins out of this recipe)

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I thought this was cool…the one blueberry that didn’t burst in the oven! Here you can see the cakey texture, too.

Back soon with a positive attitude and more delicious vegan eats!