Eat Me.

Anything you can do we can do vegan.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Pictures of sunflowers from the garden. Everyone's sunflowers just exploded so now the garden is super lovely. We planted about 18 plants but a cat dug up all but three which is fine because they are large plants with multiple flowers. One is orange, one yellow and one a deep red orange.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Love

Hello everyone! I wanted to have a little chat about chocolate chip cookies. Some chocolate chip cookies are good and some are just bad. Like the way your mom made chocolate chip cookies was always the best and then you would go over to your friends house and their cookies were just a little off. Same is true for vegan chocolate chip cookies. Some are just not right.

Take for example the vegan chocolate chip cookie sold to us at the Crescent City Farmer's Market. I was trying to break the cookie in half by holding half in my teeth and pulling up with my fingers and it was so dense and hard and dry it abruptly snapped in half and put a bleeding gash in my gum. This is an example of a not right chocolate chip cookie.

So my job after this cookie experience was to make my own cookies and share them with you because for starters they are just as good if not better than any chocolate chip cookie with eggs and uber-refined sugar and second they will not cause bodily injury when eating. (Plus whole foods changed their chocolate chip recipe to not include milk products so I can now get chocolate chips for less than $7.99 a pound.)

Basically the recipe is the one found on the tollhouse bag that I have had memorized since I was 12. For the past year and a half I have played with it adding and subtracting to get results ranging from no-sugar no-fat hippie cookies to cookies identical to the non-vegan version.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

You Will Need:

1 Cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread (Using a high quality butter substitute is key)
3/4 Cup Evaporated Cane Juice
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Medium Ripe Banana (Yellow with many brown spots)
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
2-1/4 Cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flower
1 Bag Vegan Chocolate Chips


If done correctly you can make these cookies using one bowl, one measuring cup (3/4 c) and one measuring spoon (1/2 tsp).

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two cookie sheets with a light spray of pam or a bit of Earth Balance and spread around pan with paper towel.

In large mixing bowl cream together evaporated cane juice and Earth Balance. Add banana, brown sugar, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Now add the flour 3/4 cup at a time. Dough should be firm but not dry. When that is mixed in well stir in chocolate chips by hand.

With a spoon drop balls of dough onto greased cookie sheets. Chocolate chips will not stick well in dough so you must either ball them up in the dough or place rogue chips back in ball. About 16 cookies should fit on a sheet. Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes until lightly browned on top. Cool cookies on sheet for about 4 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Cookies will be soft when first removed from oven but harden as they cool.

Cookies freeze well and taste fantastic after thawing for two to three minutes.

Makes 28-36 3" cookies.


Use variations one at a time or all together.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: Add 2 cups rolled oats. Only use 2 cups flour.
No-fat cookies: Exchange 1 cup butter for 1 cup unsweetened organic apple sauce. After dropping cookies on sheet press into cookie shape. (Without fat cookies will not spread as they bake.) Substitute raisins or cranberries for chocolate chips.
Less-Sugar Cookies: Use about half sugar suggested. Add additional flour as needed to make dough correct consistency.
Whole Wheat Cookies: Use whole wheat flour instead of unbleached flour.
Spice Chocolate Chip Cookie: Add 1 tsp cinnamon. Not really a spice cookie but it adds a certain depth to the flavor.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Mixed Herb and Walnut Pesto

This pesto is from a mix of herbs we have growing in our garden (listed in order of highest quantity): purple basil, sage, oregano and lemon mint. We also had a few leaves from a regular basil plant from another neighbor's garden. The purple basil gave it an interesting color.

I also followed the Italian grandmother hand-chopping method described here on 101 cookbooks. It took me about 20 minutes to chop everything (I was really going at it though). I think the texture was better than usual pesto made in a blender or food processor because I added the walnuts last so they were a nice contrast to the slippery finely chopped herbs and garlic. I think it was well worth the extra time and was therapeutic to boot.

We ate our pesto over capellini but I love thin noodles and you might choose something that grabs the pesto. Remember to use 1/2 package of pasta unless you double this recipe. Our pesto was really lemony although not overpowering - you might want to use less lemon.

Mixed Herb and Walnut Pesto

You Will Need:
1/3 C Fresh Herbs, Mixed or Just Basil (Whole Leaf, Packed Loosely)
4 Cloves Garlic
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Nutritional Yeast
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 C Walnuts (Raw)
2-3 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 Package Pasta (2 servings)

Put all your herbs out on a large cutting board. Take about 1/2 of them and the garlic and with a sharp knife start chopping. (Sharp knife is key - you want to cut through your herbs not just mash through them.) Continuously scrape and mix herbs adding remaining 1/2 bit by bit. When adding final batch of herbs add all walnuts and chop everything until walnuts are finely chopped.

In a small/medium bowl mix in remaining ingredients gradually with chopped mixture adjusting lemon and salt to taste.

Toss through warm pasta and serve.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Vegan Weddings

I really wish I had found this resource by the magazine Veg News before our wedding. It is a profile of 8 couples who had vegan weddings. Vietnamese Snow Rolls, Wild Mushroom Risotto Cakes, Portobello Lasagna, Olive Wreath Antipasto?!

Ok - so our wedding was very mushroom/rice centric as well - but many of the couples had dishes with tempeh or seiten and a wider variety of ethnic foods that our caterer just couldn't/wouldn't prepare. Paella? NO. Falafel? NO. Also when I asked our caterer if they could do without the cream or butter when we did decide on a final dish they just didn't know how. I personally didn't really like the main entree but everyone I asked said they loved it - but I think they are just being polite. Is vegan food for a crowd really that difficult?

I just remember looking over at my grandpa and seeing him choking down a giant hen of the woods mushroom with a look of utter horror on his face. And the ultimate slap in the face? They re-used the leftover rice pilaf the next morning at brunch and still charged us $17.95.

I must admit that they did willingly depart from their standard menu of filet mignon with a side of chicken and a fish option for those vegetarians out there. I just wish they had done it a little better.

So vegan brides - stick to your guns and demand vegan food. Good vegan food. Because you don't want to pay 13,000$ for a party where you are roped into serving your friends and family second rate food just because they can't learn to cook without using animal products. Rant over - look forward to new recipes soon!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Eatin' Local

I was just cleaning off my desk at work and had these statistics about local food written down on a piece of scrap paper I really must throw away.

-A meal grown more than 50 miles away takes 17 times more energy to produce than the same meal grown within 50 miles.
-20% of our nation's fossil fuels is used on food production.
-1 calorie of food takes 10 calories of energy to produce.

If you are curious about the validity of these facts (as you probably should be knowing my note taking skills) listen to this episode of Talk of the Nation. It is really interesting and about an hour long if memory serves.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Red Lentils

Lentil Soup Recipe Soon!

Tempeh Tutorial

What have we been up to food wise? Not too much except our garden has made yet more cucumbers which we have successfully given away. I'm so sick of cucumbers! I made soy yogurt, worked on my drunken noodle recipe (not quite there yet) and made a ton of cupcakes. All that work and nothing to really mention...

But we had four (!) Japanese eggplants from our garden of which we gave two away and ate two tonight along with tempeh in sandwich form and I have already posted the recipe here. They were so good I didn't even get to take a picture.

Let's take a moment to talk about tempeh. Tempeh is cooked soy beans that are fermented and sold in a brick form, approximately 1/2" x 3" x 8". It is by far one of my favorite ingredients to use in place of meat in sandwiches or on pizza. It is really versatile and can be seasoned different ways. It does not need to marinate like tofu so you can make it on a whim - which is how I like to cook so it works well for me.

One thing you must remember about tempeh is that it is bitter and really dense when uncooked then turns almost sweet and softens as it warms through. I like to just slice it into 1/8" slices then throw it in a pan with sesame oil and soy sauce and a few tablespoons of water and brown on both sides. I have steamed it then crumbled it - then sauteed it with sesame oil, soy sauce and Italian seasoning and this worked really well on pizza. You just have to remember to cook it long enough and all the way through and preferably brown it. Yum.

We buy ours at whole foods ('ho foods) although I am surprised we don't just make it ourselves since we make everything else.

And amos' cashew carob ice cream rocked. Best yet.

Balsamic-Cranberry Tempeh and Eggplant Sandwich

This recipe took maybe 20 minutes to make. Amos found the original recipes on VegWeb here and here then we adapted it for what was on hand in our kitchen. The peanut butter and Siracha make it crackalicious.

Balsamic-Cranberry Tempeh and Eggplant Sandwich with Spicy Peanut Butter

You Will Need:
2 Medium to Small Japanese Eggplants
1 Small Baby Bok Choy (Optional)
1 Package Multi-Grain Tempeh (8 oz.)
1/4 Cup Tamari (Soy Sauce)
1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

2/3 Cup Cranberry Juice (Or whatever juice you have on hand)
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

Pita Bread
Tomato (Sliced Thinly)
Peanut Butter
Siracha Hot Chili Sauce

Combine 1/4 C tamari with 1/2 C balsamic vinegar. Slice tempeh into 1/8" slices and place in marinade. Set Aside.

In a small saucepan mix cranberry juice and remaining balsamic vinegar. Turn the heat to high and reduce while cooking tempeh, eggplant and bok choy.

Slice eggplant into strips, cut in half to match length of tempeh strips. Heat a few tablespoons water and olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. Add eggplant and approximately 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir occasionally but let cook until eggplant is soft and begins to turn translucent, approximately 5-8 minutes adding a bit more water if necessary. If using bok choy add when eggplant has about two minutes left to cook. Remove from pan and set aside.

Re-heat skillet over high heat and add the tempeh along with 1/4 cup marinade. Brown tempeh on both sides - about 3-4 minutes each side. After tempeh is browned add balsamic cranberry reduction along with eggplant and bok choy. Let cook until almost all liquid is evaporated.

While filling is cooking or after filling is done cut pitas in half, open and toast in toaster until just warm. If toasted too long they will break and will not be conducive to sandwich making. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter and siracha in pocket of pita (2 tsp. peanut butter max, siracha to taste). Add lettuce and tomato and enjoy!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sesame Sweet Potato Salad

This recipe is an adaption of a recipe found in Japanese Cooking: Contemporary & Traditional by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner when I was looking for a potato salad recipe that uses sweet potatoes. I didn't find a recipe for sweet potato salad and figured out why - the sweet potatoes get really mushy but to me that hardly matters since I wasn't schlepping it around all over the place anyway. It is great hot and cold.

Sesame Sweet Potato Salad

What You Need:
2 Large Sweet Potatoes; Cut Into 1" Cubes
1/4 Cup Toasted Sesame Seeds
2 T Soy Sauce
2 T Mirin
2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 t Sesame Oil
1 Cup Peas (Optional)

Cook the cubed Sweet Potato either in a pan on the stove or in the microwave in a bowl with just enough water to cover the potatoes. It took my microwave about 8 minutes. Cook until soft. Drain.

Meanwhile whisk together liquids in a large bowl. Toss in sweet potatoes, sesame seeds and peas. Serve warm or chilled.

To toast the sesame seeds: In a heavy skillet over medium heat constantly tossing until light brown and crackly sounding.

Cucumber Salad with Wa-Fu Dressing

This salad is soooo good. It is sweet and salty and the razor thin slices of cucumber make for the most fantastic texture. Since our cucumber invasion we have made this three times.... Unfortunately this one doesn't keep so well. Nor does recycling the dressing for a new batch work as well as we hoped either - the vinegar loses it's bite and it becomes really sweet. But you probably won't have leftovers.

Cucumber Salad with Wa-Fu Dressing
From Japanese Cooking: Contemporary & Traditional by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner.

You Will Need:
1/3 C Rice Wine Vinegar
1 T Soy Sauce
1-2 T Sweetener of Choice Such as Frozen Apple Juice Concentrate, White Grape Juice Concentrate, FuitSource, or Sugar
1/2 t Sea Salt
Several Drops Sesame Oil
2 Japanese Cucumbers or 1/2 European Cucumber; Sliced as Thinly as Possible


Whisk the dressing together. Pour over cucumbers in a bowl and toss very gently. Serve or let marinate for 30 minutes.

Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad

This recipe came out right the first time I made it. I even substituted for quite a few of the ingredients. Instead of mint I used lemon mint. Instead of red onion I only had a plain yellow onion. I probably used way more cucumber than recommended. And I used about 4 roma tomatoes.

Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad

From The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein.

You Will Need:
1-1/2 lbs. Ripe Tomatoes
1 Large Cucumber; Peeled, Seeded and Chopped
1 Large Red Onion; Chopped
1/2 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves; Finely Chopped
3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 T Fresh Lemon Juice
1-1/2 T Fresh Lime Juice
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste

What to Do:
Whisk together all liquids in a large bowl. Add vegetables and toss well to combine. Let Stand for 15 minutes. Toss again.

Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for an hour or so and serve chilled.

Makes 4 servings.

Cucumber Mania

Walking back from the garden just now we ran into our next door neighbor who said "I love cucumbers" as we were pawning off as many as possible on her. She's probably going to regret saying that.

I have two cucumber recipes to post - both from vegan cookbooks I use all the time. The first is Persian Cucumber and Tomato Salad from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen: Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Dishes from the Healthiest Region Under the Sun by Donna Klein. The second is Cucumber Salad with Wa-Fu Dressing from Japanese Cooking: Contemporary & Traditional by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner. As a bonus I am also posting a recipe adapted from the Japanese cookbook: Sesame Sweet Potato Salad.

I hope to post a separate blog about what cookbooks we own and use all the time. The two we own by Donna Klein are gems as is the one by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner. Luckily they both have a few more cucumber recipes as there are quite a few more to come...


Apparently this is what Roti is supposed to look like... Mine did not look like that. Unfortunately no recipe. Maybe I should post the recipe I used and someone else can try it out and tell me the tricks they find for making it look this delicious.

For a full description on the pictures above visit Foodie Paradise. Foodie Paradise is a new blog I just discovered while doing my daily check of Tastespotting. She is a self described "Singapore Food Blog." If only...

Pictures are by Foodie Paradise. I hope she doesn't mind if I make the rest of the world hungry.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's Been Awhile...

The name of this blog "what we ate last night" implies that we would post about what we ate last night. Not what we have eaten over the past seven nights. Otherwise I would have suggested we call the blog "what we have eaten over the past week or perhaps during the previous fortnight."

Now, where to begin. I mentioned our trip to Chicago but failed miserably to mention the one night we cooked! We had sandwiches. But grilled veggie sandwiches. The veggies came from a Puerto Rican grocery miraculously close to Sasha and Vanessa's apartment. Amos and I thought this store was some sort of god-sent food oasis (we live in a food desert of sorts - it's a real term check it out) but Sasha and Vanessa brushed it off since they have had many a bad experience there with bruised and leaky produce. I have no recipe to share with you except listing ingredients of grilled vegetables: banana peppers, tomatillos, zucchini, red pepper, onion and maybe more. Topped with avocado and sliced tomato on this bread that was fantastic -but from a special store so it cost 5$ - this sandwich was by far one of the best roasted vegetable sandwiches I have ever eaten. A side of cebollitos finished it off. Then we sat around and picked at the remaining veggies chatting it up like old ladies who hate t.v.

On to the topic of vegan cake. We have been fortunate enough to have two vegan cake experiences within the past week or so. In Chicago (last mention of Chicago I swear) we went to the Chicago Diner (oops) after our roasted vegetable extravaganza. I hold firm that any cake that is vegan that I didn't have to make is good. I have never had bad vegan cake. We have to represent when it comes to cake because when you aren't vegan you just plop down your Betty Crocker and mix in some disgustingness, pop it in the oven and bang. Pus and chicken v-j-j surprise.

Personally I like clean cake so I made a carrot cake with lemon coconut custard filling and cream cheese frosting for our friend Jordan's graduation party. Fantastic! Lucky for us we served it after dark so no one actually saw the cake and we had a piece for ourselves to eat today. Check out the original carrot cake recipe here at PakuPaku and make sure to graduate from Kittekake Kindergarten before attempting. I followed the recipe exactly and it came out delicious. Oops I lied, I used my food processor to puree all wet ingredients.

In matters concerning potlucks we had a potluck last Wednesday. I called everyone and canceled about two hours before the show was supposed to go down but Jordan calmed me down and talked some sense into me. Game on. We served bbq on home made sesame and flax buns with cucumber salad and sweet potato hash browns. Jordan and Albert made banana/vanilla wafer puddin' that was 2% or less not vegan (damn sodium cassienate) and as I can not stress enough vegans are not perfect and I did eat the puddin' and it was good.

Pertaining to our garden I harvested the first eggplant, zucchini and cherry tomatoes. Pictures below. It seems a tomato ripening bell curve is beginning.... maybe because it is already hotter here in New Orleans than Chicago's hottest day ever and the tomatoes think the vegetable Armageddon is coming.

Amos is making carob cashew ice cream so I'm out of here!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Since We've Been Gone

Since we just got back from Chicago this evening we had a simple meal of sweet potato hash browns, frozen dumplings and cucumber salad with wa-fu dressing. The cucumbers came from our garden - there were two large ones and a million itty-bitty ones that grew over the past five days. Unfortunately cucumbers don't win the nutritional content of the year award.

Lest I forget I wanted to mention a restaurant we visited in Chicago - Lula's Cafe. Lula's Cafe is in the Logan Square neighborhood a block or so off the blue line. I was excited to eat there because it was the setting of this episode of This American Life. Besides the staff acting exactly as they are described on the show and the table next to us being psychotic it was a good experience.

Although we arrived around 8:30 or so the wait was about 40 minutes but I love waiting as long as good friends are on hand. Compared to restaurants in New Orleans it was trendy and all the people in there seemed like they were trying to be pretty hip with mod-ish hair cuts and laid back clothes. Or maybe that is just how people in Chicago look and I have forgotten. Amos commented it was unlike New Orleans because we could see the floor and ceiling. The interior was pretty nice - fantastic silkscreens for sale on the wall, antique and modern mixed furniture, muted colors - you get the idea.

The menu seemed pretty exciting even after I had edited out all the non-vegan items. I ended up having the Moroccan Sweet Potato Tagine which was fine but nothing to write home about. Amos however had the Tineka sandwich - spicy peanut butter on multi-grain bread, tomato, cucumber, red onion, sprouts, sambal and Indonesian sweet soy sauce - which was really good. So we traveled 900 miles only to find yet more proof that peanut butter sandwiches are indeed king of the sandwich world and can dominate almost every food category known to man.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Thinking of the weekend...

While I am sitting here waiting for Amos to make Kyuri No Sinome (Japanese cucumber salad) I thought I would blog about the roti we ate last night. I was excited but it turned out just O.K. It was a bit too dense for my taste but Amos liked it. Once I get the method and the recipe down I will be sure to post it. It was still way better than any of my attempts at making naan without the worries of yeast. Served with a dry chickpea and cauliflower curry it hit the spot.

One thing I think I need to post right away is the sweet strata recipe I spoke about a few days ago. It was adapted from this recipe posted on vegweb by mdvegan. I can't thank them enough for giving me a leg up on the vegan strata.

Cranberry-Walnut Strata

You will need:

1 package extra firm tofu
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 cups vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons vegan sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 egg's worth Ener-g egg replacer (without liquid)

1 small loaf white bread (or a really fluffy wheat)
3/4 cups walnuts
1 to 1-1/2 cups dried cranberries


Start this process the night before you intend to eat the strata.

In blender puree tofu and 1-1/2 cups of the almond milk. (Go ahead and puree it all if you have a blender with that sort of capacity.) Add the zest, orange juice, nutritional yeast, sugar, egg replacer and vanilla. Blend.

With a serrated knife cut the loaf of bread into cubes. In large bowl mix bread cubes, cranberries and walnuts. Spread evenly in a greased 9x13 glass baking dish.

If needed use the large bowl to mix the remaining almond milk with the pureed mixture that has been hanging out in the blender.

Pour liquid over the bread in pan filling in all the dry spots. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the dish and press down gently compressing everything evenly.

Store covered overnight in fridge.

The next day remove from fridge and allow to reach room temperature. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve with maple syrup.

Serves 8-12.