Monday, January 28, 2008

A Glaring Omission

As I reviewed my last couple of posts, I noticed that a book was missing from the pictures of our new shelving system. Gasp! The missing volume was a new book I've just acquired: Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. Like the Veganomicon, it is a tome! The 400 recipes and heaps of tips, tricks and trivia make this an inch and a half at minimum - and it is worth its weight in gold!

The reason it was absent from its shelf was because I was using it to create a grocery list for Sunday evening's dinner: tarragon-scented mushroom and white bean strudel with hot mixed vegetable and spinach salad. OK, so the rice salad was my recipe, but the strudel was definitely not one I would have come up with alone.





and again:

I did make a couple of changes - the original recipe called for 8oz firm tofu, but since I'd cooked a big batch of white beans, I substituted those instead. Also, instead of just one kind of mushroom, I added in some thinly sliced dried cremini mushrooms (rehydrated of course) which lent the dish an added woodsy depth of flavour. The other main ingredients were fresh tarragon and artichoke hearts which I adore so am thrilled with this recipe!

Moreover, there was waaaaaay too much for one meal, so we're having it again tonight. I guess I'll do a different side dish, but the strudel is on the menu! I can barely wait to get home!

Stay Vegan, Friends!

Fun and Puns with Poppadoms

Susan, over at FatFreeVegan has an inspired-looking lentil and cauliflower curry dish I simply had to try out. The only problem? My Beloved turns a perculiar shade of purple when confronted by members of the brassica family. In this instance: cauliflower.

As a child, I was never overly partial to the white florets, but these days I find myself increasingly interested in getting my gnashers around those tender little morsels. Be that as it may, I knew that hiding the cauliflower amidst the lentils and calling it good would not fool My Beloved, so I substituted potato instead and this is the result:

It is served here with a simple white basmati rice (yes, brown basmati is infinitely preferable, but sometime you have to pick your battles...) and poppadoms! Eons (well, at least a couple of months) ago, one of My Beloved's colleagues gave him a poppadom cooker. It's a little mesh-type device with a handle and you sit it on top of your stove flame to cook the poppadoms. Well, we'd never quite had the nerve to test it out, assuming that there was some trick or technique that you had to learn at your mother's knee, but this proved to be a fallacy.

On a trip to the local asian grocery store, we happened upon some poppadoms in the raw (as it were) and so gave it a go.

And it is simplicity itself!

All you do is lay one on the mesh, pop it over the flame and watch as it blisters beautifully. When it's almost all blistered, flip it over to complete and stack high!

I am perplexed as to why these are not given away in Indian restaurants as a courtesy, they are that simple to make! Yes, if I were Queen of the World, there'd be a free poppadom on every plate!

Vote for me in '08 and Stay Vegan, Friends!

New and Streamlined Kitchen!

OK, I am a cookaholic. I admit it. I've always enjoyed preparing food, but now that I can do so with a clean vegan conscience there is almost no stopping me. I am baking for My Beloved and myself, for coworkers at both of my current places of work, for our friends, for our doglets...for anyone who sits still long enough to have a vegan pastry stuffed into their hot little hands!

So, given the above, it is with immense pleasure that I can announce a slight kitchen reorganisation. We had a butcher's block - which now seems hideously inappropriate in a vegan kitchen - which we replaced with some wonderful open shelves, thereby increasing storage at the same time as gaining a little extra floor space. See here:

Top shelf entertainment includes:

And my favourite shelf is the one bearing my precious new cookbook collection:

Now doesn't this just look so wonderfully organised?!?!

But of course, it's no good if it's all for show so in the next post I'll show you what I made this weekend...

Watch this space and Stay Vegan, Friends!

Priority Cupcake Delivery

You may recall me talking in an earlier post about the 'secret santa cupcakes'...if not, here's the gist: to overcome that awful problem at Christmas parties of what to do about the person who brings you a gift even when you have nothing to give in return I devised a cunning scheme last holiday season whereby I gave out 'promissory notes' to all party goers. These little notes promised the recipient a variety of vegan baked goodies - a dozen cupcakes here, a dozen cookies there...and the first note was called in last weekend.

My friend, we'll call her D, had 'won' a dozen chocolate-stout cupcakes so she called in the order and I sprang to action, whisk in hand. This is what they looked like:

The box was slightly too large, which is a shame as I bought 3 of them (to have 2 in hand for the next couple of callers) but all in all it worked out. I arranged with a mutual friend, who we'll call MES as those are her initials - she knows who she is!, to drop them off at her house for D to collect when convenient. That way, I don't have to go driving all around Western Mass delivering these little wrappers of fun! Not that I mind, but on a journey longer than say 5 minutes I'd have given in to the temptation and eaten the lot! This way, as MES lives not 2 minutes from my house, all arrived safely!

So, one down, around another 15-20 to go!

Stay Vegan, Friends!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

An Interesting Few Days

On Friday last week, My Beloved and I visited a place we don't usually frequent as it involves driving out there and usually we prefer just to walk to one of the myriad cafes and restaurants in Northampton to grab a sandwich or bowl of soup for lunch. However circumstance found us at Spoleto Express, an offshoot of the 'Spoleto empire' which includes the eponymous downtown location, Pizza Paradiso, the Del-Ray, Mama Inguana's and a couple of others whose names escape me. Anyways, trepidently we surveyed the menu boards and discovered no vegan options as such but a couple of dishes that could easily be veganised: grilled vegetable panini with mozzarella and mayo or the hummus and vegetable wrap with cheddar cheese.

Being as it was a chilly day, I plumped for the former but requested they hold the cheese and mayo - a simple concept, one would have imagine. But no! Apparently, they could 'leave the cheese out' but the mayo was already spread and nothing could un-do that. Hmmmm, I thought to myself, OK I'm flexible, I'll just go with the hummus vegetable wrap instead and ensure that the cheese is left out. 

Great, so we paid, grabbed our coffees and sat to await our lunch.

Then the chef came over - a young guy who was very nice but full of remorse that they'd run out of hummus. Would I perhaps like the grilled vegetable panini?, he enquired. Yes, I said, very much so - it being a hot sandwich and it being about 8 degrees below outside and blustery - but I don't eat dairy - being vegan - so I need the cheese and mayo left out.....

No problem, he said, we can always accommodate special requests.

Which left me sipping bemusedly on my coffee and wondering whether I have not yet, in fact, mastered the native tongue after all....????