Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I'm a Year Old! Holiday Home Cooked Meals

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Yay! Today is Adventures in Veganism/Vegan Travel's Birthday! And it continues where it began last year, with raw egg(less) nog from a recipe provided by Autonomie Project.
The rum was not raw

So, here's a quick spill of how we spent our Christmas Holiday Weekend: Lots of cooking.

Christmas Eve is also Marya's birthday. The fizzer about this is that most restaurants are closed, so it's hard to take her out for a lovely birthday dinner. So we stayed home, and I made her these tasty fondues from Jo Stepaniak's Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.
Smokey Fondue on the left, and the Classic Fondue on the right.
The fondue recipes in the book are my favorite part.


Christmas morning we made blintzes, also from the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. First, I made the crepes (not all of them came out in perfect circle):


Next, we filled them with a tofu ricotta (Marya made off camera) and placed on a baking sheet and baked for 10 minutes:


Then, served with blackberry jam and Tofutti sour cream:
Not pictured was the home made raw applesauce Marya made.

Next, we began prepping the Tofu Roulade, the recipe for which can be found in the Chicago Diner Cookbook. Sort of a home-made version of Tofurky. Sort of.
Marya is filling the thing here with her favorite stuffing recipe.

And here's the finished product:


And our Christmas Dinner:
Clockwise from the orange stuff at the top is: Coconut Sweet Potatoes, Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Slivered Almonds, more of Marya's stuffing, Fennel Cranberry Sauce, a fine Shiraz we brought back from Australia five years ago, Shiitake Mushroom Gravy, a crazy wine goblet made from a recycled windshield (thanks for my present, Marya!), and the Tofu Roulade.

For dessert was this Bourbon laced Pumpkin Pie:


Served with Grand Marnier:


For breakfast the next day, Marya made this lovely Tofu Benedict with (store-bought) sprouted English Muffins, Tofurky deli slices, spiced/sauteed tofu, and a tangy Hollandaise sauce. Topped with a Kalamata olive:
She has the best bloody mary recipe I've ever had, and she coached me through making some (pictured upper right), garnished with pickled green beans and okra from The Pickle Guys in New York City. The vodka in the bloody maryas was infused with farmers' market garlic and horseradish.

This Bakon bacon flavoring was one of my stocking stuffers:
Pretty good for only two ingredients.


This football season we've made a somewhat of a routine watching the Redskins lose each weekend. It's a great excuse for us to sit and have a big bowl of popcorn, and Marya's always coming up with new ideas for seasoning it. For this batch, I suggested we make bacon popcorn.
It turned out quite nicely, though only lasted a 1/3 an inning...quarter. Miraculously the Redskins won this one in overtime.
The Bakon seasoning came from Food Fight! Grocery.

For dinner, I decided to make Portuguese Potato Kale soup using potatoes and kale we got at the farmers' market earlier in the day. Step #1 was making the chorizo for the topping:
The recipe for both the chorizo and soup came from Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan Latin food cookbook.

After making the batter, I rolled them up in foil and baked:


They came out looking quite nicely:


And here's the Portuguese Potato Kale Soup topped with chorizo and home made annatto oil:


Whew! That was a lot of cooking. And cleaning. Now my dishpan hands are looking forward to a week of leftovers.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cooking for a Family of Omnivores:

My last Vegan MoFo Post! Tomorrow I rest.

We went to Colorado to celebrate Thanksgiving with Marya's family. As mentioned in previous posts, they aren't vegan, but they're very considerate omnivores and are willing to try our food and often branch out in their own cooking.

Because they recently tried cooking tempeh at home and absolutely hated it, we volunteered to cook a tempeh dish for them they could...tolerate - to prove that they must have gotten a bad batch of the stuff from the local grocery. So after preparing several tempeh dishes at home to decide which they'd like best, we settled on this Maple Grilled Tempeh triangles recipe. We've been trying to cook with more tempeh these days, as it's among the best ways to eat soy. Do we love it? When Marya's mother asked if we like it, we looked at each other and said practically in unison, "It's alright."

So Marya prepared the marinade, boiled the tempeh, marinated it for 20-some hours, then grilled it. This was the best batch of this recipe ever, having thoroughly absorbed all the marinade.
Incidentally, I ate that crumb on the top of the tempeh in this picture, and think it might have been the match used to light the grill.

So, despite the expression on Marya's sister's face in this picture, the tempeh was received warmly.
I haven't met anyone who feels tempeh is the greatest food in the world, but prepared well, it can be delightful.

Next, I prepared the raw scramble from Ani Phyo's "Ani's Raw Kitchen". I had the recipe committed to memory. Of course, raw food is somewhat an oddity among many vegans. Was I insane to think omnivores would like it?
The 2 and 5 year old were too afraid of the stuff to get it anywhere near their mouths. Come to think of it, they cried when they saw it in on the table in front of them. Everyone else liked it. Made of mostly almonds and sunflower seeds, it is quite filling. We had plenty of leftovers, and they're looking forward to eating it for breakfast over the next few days. No guarantees, though, that they won't microwave it.

As we explore new food options, it's fun to share them with family, at least those willing to give it a shot. Even if we must endure the slings and arrows of outrageous facial gestures before they tell us, "It's pretty good!" And we surely wouldn't have made them these dishes if this were their first experience with vegan food.

And this is what happens when a 5 year old gets ahold of your camera:

Thanks to all the Vegan MoFo readers who've stopped by, and to those who have subscribed! Vegan MoFo (Vegan Month of Food blogger extraveganza)is a great way to get all the bloggers around the world talking. Please check back for updates - next week we'll be in Miami, and next May we'll be in Southeast Asia.
'Til the whole world is vegan,
Your pal,
Mike

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ft. Collins, Colorado: Tasty Harmony and New Belgium Brewing!

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Had a great day this past weekend with the...[I'll call them] in-laws in Ft. Collins, Colorado. First, we took a tour of New Belgium Brewing Company's plant, including very many samples of their beer. Then we had a lovely dinner at Tasty Harmony.

First, the vegan related stuff:


This isn't the first blog post I've written about Tasty Harmony, but since we tried all new dishes this trip, it's worth revisiting. I really like this place. I have my favorite places identified in New York City, DC, Munich, and Milwaukee, and Tasty Harmony is my favorite place in the Loveland/Ft. Collins area of Colorado.

They use all fair-trade coffees and teas, and chocolate, which scores big points with me. They have many raw dishes, and make just about everything they serve on premises. Plus the place has a really nice feel to it. Truth be told, our large group had to sit in a much less cozy side room where the kitchen was.

There were 8 of us. The two kids in the pack got peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (not pictured). The family shared a plate of Tasty Harmony's Nachos de Ynez, with black beans, cashew cheese, guacamole, vegan (of course) sour cream, and salsa. We paid the extra $2.50 for added Mexican jackfruit. On my last visit, I didn't get to taste their house made hot sauce, but got to try it this time.
Pic on the right is the soup of the day, Creamy Broccoli, which was just right.

A few of us tried the raw dishes. Marya tried the Roy G. Biv's Taco Extravaganza - the raw tacos wrapped in cabbage leaves with what they call "rawfried beans" on the side. I sampled both and they were delcious.
I had the raw cheesburger, made of seeds and nuts, almond/brazil nut cheese, and house made ketchup on raw bread. Came with their raw version of onion rings - dehydrated bread-like onion triangles. I'll be honest and say the burger itself did not floor me, but the cheese was tasty and I liked the onion triangles.

Another raw dish, the Living Falafel and Hummus Wrap. Falafal is made of sprouted almond and walnuts (guessing only the almonds were sprouted), sprouted hummus, loads of sprouts, served in a large collard leaf. Lots of sprouts all 'round, and though I didn't sample it, just bet it was delicious.
And on to the cooked food. Pictured above are the Seitan Kabobs, made with marinated seitan, served with Lebanese millet and quinoa. If I wasn't in such an adventurous mood to try something raw, I would have gone for this. Doesn't that look lovely?

Someone ordered the Bigboy Burger - charbroiled patty with Thousand Island and mustard. Honestly not sure what it's made of, and didn't taste it. Looked great, though. As with most of the dishes served this evening, I felt it rude to ask for a sample of everyone's dish. It was bad enough I had to ask that they pause long enough for me to photograph everything.
To the right is the Royal Hawaiian, a teriyaki stir fry mix of cabbage, carrots, zucchini, peppers, pineapple, and red onion, sauteed in coconut oil, topped with mung bean sprouts, and served on brown rice, plus the $2.00 extra for the tofu. Again, wanted to try some raw food this evening, but very nearly ordered this myself. The person who ordered this, a serious omnivore, loved it. "Very very good", he reported.

And for dessert, we shared the raw coconut cream pie (yes, a repeat from last time), oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and chocolate pie.


Next, a bit about our tour of New Belgium:

I've been on my share of brewery and winery tours, and have gotten to the point where I quietly say to myself "Just give me the hooch, already." But I found the New Belgium tour quite enlightening.


According to their website, they've got 30 beers they produce. Of course, much of it is seasonal, so they're not doing all of them year 'round. As you can see, they've got quite a huge production (a building at least 2 acres large dedicated just to bottling).
They are the 3rd largest craft beer manufacturer in the US, and they are an employee owned company. They've vowed to never sell out to a larger manufacturer as I've seen so many smaller craft breweries do.

I should point out that, according to Barnivore, New Belgium's beers are vegan.

As Chris O'Brien's book "Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World" points out, beer manufacturers, even the big ones, are great about energy and resource conservation. New Belgium seems to take it further. They power the plant by purchasing wind credits and they have arrays of solar panels on their roof. They have an interactive display in the works that will show how much energy they're consuming and how much they're putting back on the grid.
After a year of employment, employees are given a bicycle to encourage them to ride it to work, or just to ride around their house for simple chores, rather than hopping into the car. I didn't ask how this sign factors into this, but whatever this means looks quite encouraging:
From the moment you walk into the brewery 'til the time you leave the tour, you're drinking samples of the beer. They've got enough styles so there's bound to be something for everyone. My favorite was the Sahti - a rye ale brewed with juniper. Good thing I wasn't driving. I'm not accustomed to driving anymore, such as it is.
Now, if we could only get some of their products in DC.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 with Vegan Friendly Family

We're presently in Loveland, Colorado, where yesterday we had celebrated Marya's vegan-friendly family.

First, we participated in Loveland's famous Turkey Trot 5k Walk/Run, an annual event on Thanksgiving Day to benefit the Stepping Stones adult daycare program at Loveland's McKee Medical Center Foundation.
We were surprised at how many turned up for the event - hundreds, despite the unseasonably cold 18 degree temperature.

Marya came up with the great suggestion that we would run for Kima, the turkey we sponsored at Farm Sanctuary's Adopt-A-Turkey Program.

For the record, I beat the 5 year old in this picture, but only by a few seconds.

Thankfully Marya's family is exceptionally vegan friendly. Everything was vegan or had a vegan option. There was butter and vegan butter and stuffing that was and was not stuffed in the turkey.

Despite all this, Marya didn't know how she was going to deal with having a turkey on the table for dinner. The thought of it had been bothering her since we booked our airline tickets. As a coping mechanism, I suggested that she think about all of the other Thanksgivings where she had no problem with the turkey at the table, but she said that it made her more sad for all the turkeys who had to die the previous years.
On Thanksgiving Day, she was practically inconsolable.
We were given positions at the table that would be furthest from where the turkey was carved, and the turkey was removed from the dining room once the carving was done.

Here's a gratuitous picture of our Tofurky, post-carving:

And here's my plate:
Generous portion of Tofurky, stuffing, smashed potatoes, Tofurky gravy, green beans and pearled onions, pureed butternut squash, and fresh cranberry sauce.

I don't care what the Tofurky haters have to say, I love Tofurky and don't know why everyone can't transition to it. But then again, I'm biased. Next holiday, though, we hope to make our own holiday roast.

For dessert was this lovely pumpkin pie:
It was topped with Marya's homemade cashew whipped cream.

We are surely thankful that she has such an accommodating family - we know that so many omnivorous families are not so nice to their vegan relatives. As gracious as Marya's family was in making us feel at home for Thanksgiving, Marya doesn't kn ow if she'd be able to spend another Thanksgiving with a dead turkey at the table. I'm willing to support that.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Still More Fun Home Stuff: Pumpkin Dishes - Mostly Raw

Happy Thanksgiving, all!
Just in time for Thanksgiving, some more pumpkin dishes! Two of these are raw.
After Halloween, we had loads of pumpkin from our Jack-O-Lanterns. We chopped up the pumpkin and boiled most of it down to store in the freezer, but kept a few lbs. to make some raw dishes.

This raw pumpkin pie came from Ani Phyo's "Ani's Raw Kitchen" book:
It tasted as good as any pumpkin pie I've had, though must healthier. I'll say, the pumpkin seed crust was the tastiest I've ever had.

Marya used the same pumpkin pie filling recipe as a starting point to create this pumpkin custard:
She added cashews and more spices. Very tasty!

Sadly now all our raw pumpkin is gone, but we've got a year's supply of the boiled down/frozen stuff to go through.

And she made dozens of these egg-free wonton wrap pumpkin/shiitake mushroom ravioli:


Then boiled some and topped them with a lovely cauliflower alfredo sauce, topped with shiitake mushrooms and parsley.
The recipe is loosely based on this recipe from VegWeb, and was very delicious. Who knew cauliflower would make such a lovely alfredo sauce? The recipe made lots, so we've got some leftover that we put in the freezer, and I look forward finishing up the rest.