End of 2013~And it’s a wrap! (or maybe a bowl)

Lots to say because I kept putting off making a blog post–for too long I’d say!

Veg Cookbook Club-It’s been a great year to participate, again. I cooked at least one recipe from these 2013 books (remember, you don’t have to buy them all–that would be a fortune and take up a whole lot of space!)…I cooked from Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr and Chad Sarno, How it All Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer , Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Meatless from the kitchens of Martha Stewart, and Isa Does It, also by Isa Chandra. Some I was able to get from the library, and a few I ordered after using the library copy. Britt and the other members usually help you find the recipes that are online in the authors’ blogs and social media, which is nice if you can’t get the book or aren’t sure about buying it without seeing it. Here are my favorites that I have gone back to…

  • Sautéed Chard from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. Everyone I have cooked it for is a fan. Now I think that’s pretty good for non-vegetarians and non-vegans. Ha! They’re eating nutritional yeast in this recipe and loving it.

sauteed chard from Crazy Sexy Kitchen

  • Chickpea Nibbles from How it all Vegan, an easy but so tasty roasted chickpea recipe (although my oven required much less cooking time than hers)…and I know I will get back to the applesauce muffins and some of the other desserts because they’re easy and very good.

chickpea nibbles from How it all Vegan

  • Basic Scrambled Tofu in Vegan Brunch. I’ve yet to try the variations because the basic version is flavorful and filling. Vegan Brunch is very “steady” in its successful recipes. I also liked the pumpkin French toast, pancakes, roasted potatoes, home fries etc. I know I’ll get back to the scone recipe too, which I just tried for the first time this month as VegCookBook Club is cooking from all the 2013 books.
  • My recipe of the year goes to: Pad Thai from Isa Does It. Pad Thai has been a favorite food of mine since I was in my early 20’s. But I hadn’t had any in the 4 years I had been vegetarian. The traditional recipe has fish sauce. Love, love this, and the bonus is that Isa taught me how to make amazing tofu in a cast iron skillet, after all my tofu tribulations…I’ve now made 12 items from this book and feel like I’m just getting started. Love it!

pad thai from Isa Does It

As a follow-up, I wanted to show you my Tofurky Roast from Thanksgiving. We really liked it. I ended up fixing it just for my immediate family. I would certainly have to have gravy, and my usual tons of cranberry sauce. My first attempt at the silky chickpea gravy from Appetite for Reduction (another Isa Chandra Moskowitz book) was delicious. I’ll use that recipe again and again in the future. I cooked the roast exactly as they suggested, with veggies and basting with a simple baste. The “line” on the roast in the picture is from cutting the casing around the roast open. The second picture was later in the day when it was dark, so it’s not the best.

Tofurky roast with veggies

tofurky roast with silky chickpea gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance

Finally, here are my time saving techniques/props/devices I really put into play this year for more veg cooking:

my counter

I agonized over spending on a Vitamix. I had several useless blenders over the years that could not handle anything. No regrets on buying this. I got the basic 5200 at Costco at a better price than anywhere else.  It has been awesome for making creamy sauces. I’ve made many already from Isa Does It, subbing in sunflower seeds for cashews, and they all comes out beautifully. Of course it makes great smoothies (you can’t even detect a piece of kale or spinach in there), hummus, and salad dressing. Really it makes all my sauces so good!

The Zojirushi rice cooker next to the Vitamix is great for cooking oats (including steel-cut), each morning with the timer, lentils to use in recipes,  and various types of rice. It can cook any grain, but I haven’t tried much variety. Apparently it has smart technology that helps it find the perfect cooking time/moisture levels and adjusts to water temperature, etc. For me, the timer is the best part. Setting the rice on a timer eliminates a step at dinner time and the bowl is super easy to clean out. I’ve used the quick cook rice setting for white rice many times–works in about 30 minutes with no “work” as you focus on the other cooking. I love how it cooks brown rice too–short grain seems to come out better– without any effort. It is helpful to know that this is a true Japanese product and the instructions aren’t the best. I learned a lot by reading comments on Amazon and other internet sources.

The third time-saver is my jar of measuring spoons, 2 complete sets. I finally figured out that when you detach them from the ring,  you end up making less mess as you try to use the same set for wet and dry ingredients. And having two sets means less cleaning along the way. Pretty basic, right?

What were your top recipes or cookbooks of the year?

I wish you the best holiday season, and see you next year!



TV Cooking Shows and Other Odds and Ends

Confession: I have spent more hours watching Chopped episodes lately than doing any type of true creative or intricate cooking from my  myriad of cookbooks. I am so hooked on that show, and I really am not much of a TV viewer. I just found it this winter, but now that I know there are maybe 4-5 episodes to DVR every Tuesday, it’s bad…Did you see the episode with the vegan chef in June and all vegetarian ingredients? They did use honey as an ingredient (by accident or design–let’s discuss…), but that wasn’t too serious.  I really don’t enjoy watching them (as in most episodes) use meat, but I just can’t get enough of the drama, the wacky ingredients, and the cooking techniques. We all walk around the house saying I’m going to reduce this, reduce that…we don’t actually boil water around here anymore, we reduce it.

Here’s what I have discovered outside of my Chopped compulsion—

1. I have a serious Isa cooking crush. Isa Chandra Moskowitz. She’s really funny and she makes me want to cook. I finally figured out Twitter this year and her tweets make me laugh. And then I saw the other day she loves Chopped too. So I didn’t feel so bad about liking a non-vegan cooking show, ha ha. A few weeks ago I actually made homemade seitan from her blog, called Post Punk Kitchen. Now keep in mind, I’m probably about as un-punk as they come (except on a rebellious kind of day), and I still feel welcome there–so don’t be afraid to check it out. I don’t know how to describe seitan except to say it is a wheat-based, high protein, cooked “dough” that can be the protein in a dish and sort of be the “meat” substitute.  I used the time-saving tips she included in her Seitan Piccata recipe that I linked to below. I made a common mistake in walking away at one point and boiling the blobs of dough, but overall I think it was supposed to look like this. It had great flavor. I think I will make it again, because I don’t like the looks of seitan in the store packages.

homemade seitan


I used the seitan the next night for her Seitan Piccata with greens. It does improve even more when browned/seared in the pan. I wasn’t crazy about the flavor, which I think is due to capers. I think I will try the basic sauce again and use something else–maybe olives? It might be weird in a piccata theme, but I love olives on just about anything. I used some quick cooking rice in a cheater package-recipe suggests mashed potato/cauliflower, which sounds delish. I  didn’t have the time or energy though.

seitan piccata



2. I can make a good smoothie that is not exactly from someone else’s recipe…I’m sure someone else has thought of this, but here’s a really good one I figured out:

avocado, green organic grapes, lime slice, water, ice, curly kale, 1/2 scoop Vega Vanilla Chai protein powder (vegan), agave syrup-probably not needed but I thought of the Vega powder after this was already in there.

Sorry, I don’t have precise amounts of ingredients, but I can give you a rough idea if you are interested.

green smoothie July 2013

3. Sadly, I have not discovered a new product I so want to try. I am still looking for Daiya brand cream cheese. I love their cheese “wedges”–purchased 3 on my last trip to Whole Foods so I don’t run out–but I can’t believe Whole Foods doesn’t carry the cream cheese here. It really is true, Ohio has to wait for some pretty serious diffusion of anything new to arrive from the East or West Coasts…

Daiya cream cheese pic

Well, I guess it’s available somewhere…picture from Google Images.

Our home renovation project is winding down, so I’m hoping to enjoy summer a little more. A good friend is coming this week from North Carolina with her family and I’m very excited for a trip later in the summer to Colorado, which will include Boulder. I should find some awesome veg eats there!

I hope you are enjoying your summer (or whatever season it may be!).






Cooking from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Isa's pancakes

I started with a simple recipe from this month’s cookbook Vegan Brunch as I cook along with the VegCookbook Club. I can already tell I want to own this one (and guess who got an Amazon gift card for her birthday?). I did try to buy this locally to support our last brick and mortar book chain, but none in the city had it.

The pumpkin pancakes quickly caught my eye in Vegan Brunch. But I decided to play it safe first with the “Perfect Pancakes”.

They were delish and were also nice as a snack later. This was my first try at pancakes in a cast iron skillet. I would love feedback on what I encountered: I sprayed lightly with cooking spray (I was following her instructions for using cast iron which are given with the pumpkin pancake instructions) and the first side browned well. The second side, which hit the less oiled pan surface, was a teeny bit too crispy and didn’t look as nice. Do I spray again as I flip the pancakes, possibly spraying the other pancakes?  I’m asking in case I serve these to company. I usually cook pancakes for visitors, so I would love to have a great homemade version to whip out. This will meet the need.

In that spirit, I took a picture of the aftermath, i.e. how much cleaning and washing by hand were left when it was said and done. This was pretty light for me. Not pictured were: skillet, spatula, whisk, and bowl, which are hard to avoid whether you used a mix or not. I’d say, this certainly is a good recipe from the clean-up perspective.

pancake cleanup

I told my son he was the luckiest kid in the world-pancakes ready at 3:45 when he walked in. As for me, I’m already dreaming about those pumpkin pancakes.

I’d also like to try some savory recipes and master one sure recipe for guests. I’m thinking of trying Mushroom, Leek, and White Bean Pie or Basic Scrambled Tempeh, which has greens, onion, red pepper, garlic…

Have a good one!