April 30, 2010


I eat way too much popcorn.  Salted, sometimes with a little nutritional yeast.  Made in a magical device:

No oil needed, just airpopped goodness.  A few tablespoons of those yellow gems transform into heaps of crunchy starchy munchy snacks.

April 29, 2010

Raisin Walnut Bran Muffins

Hello, muffins.

Last weekend, in between waiting for the split peas to cook down, I made bran muffins from The Joy of Vegan Baking.  I added some walnuts.  I wished I had molasses and not just piles of agave.  I wished I had giant, fresh blueberries instead of the recommended raisins.  But then I ate a muffin.  And then I ate a couple more.

Bran muffins are another one of those things that I hadn't had until going vegan.  My family tends to be "anti veg" and "anti healthy."  After I went vegan, my white grandma informed me that "if it's not made with real butter, it's not worth it."  I didn't really know what to say.  That visit also entailed a lot of "our family eats meat," comments.  I don't know what they were trying to tell me.  But if it was that I'm out of the family, that's fine.  I guess they won't get any muffins!

What I'm really trying to find and/or create is a recipe replicating a fabulous "omega" muffin piled with flax and raw sugar and blueberries and walnuts and possibly cranberries that I had at a fabulous coffee shop in Appleton, Wisconsin.  This coffee shop was rad, and its name was equally rad: Brewed Awakenings.  Its organic coffees were never watery, and its selection of vegan baked goods was diverse and delicious.  This recipe is a good start.

Here's hoping these muffins freeze well.  I need one and some coffee please.

April 28, 2010

Verdant Mush

Green was the mood.  33 cent avocado from the farmer's market.

We stuck an onion in some water to grow a couple weeks ago.  It was trimmed down a couple inches from the bulb, but as you can see, it is growing nicely.  But the green didn't stop there.
Split pea soup!  It may look like otherworldly vomit, but this stuff is so, so good and so easy.  Just toss tons of fresh veggies and some potatoes in a giant pot.  The bigger the pot, the better, because that means you can make more soup.  The boy's grandmother has a soup pot of titanic dimensions; we make do with this average stainless steel soup pot.
Add a ton of water and some bouillon, boil, then add 2.25 lbs of bulk split peas.  I only used a little oil to cook the onions, so this soup is not too calorific but still hearty and creamy and best served with a slice of toasted homemade bread.
Soup is the best thing.  I don't know what we'll do when it becomes too hot to stand over a warm stove.  Giant batches of ice cream, probably.

April 23, 2010

Vegan Beeflike Barley Soup

The boy is really wonderful when it comes to trying vegan things.  We usually make a soup every week to freeze for later and to nibble during the work week.  Our rotation includes soups like split pea, chili, and lately chickenish noodle soup.  This week, the boy put together a very tasty barley soup with chunks of beefy seitan that I'd made earlier in the weekend...
This soup included not-beef boullion cubes, carrots, potato, seitan, a bit of Widmer hefeweizen, and some farmer's market onion.  It's so good!  Especially with the toasted remnants of the no-knead bread.  I really want to try some new soups that the cohabiter might like...

April 22, 2010


Last weekend (and again this week, and again) I made Alton Brown's "sourdough" recipe.  You bake it in a dutch oven...or a pot with a lid.  Then you remove the lid and let the crust get crispy!

Out of the pot...
It crackled as it cooled, its crust settling.  Sliced open, it revealed its moist, pocketed texture:
This week (unphotographed, it was late!) I also made a whole wheat version of this recipe...doubled and cooked in a much larger steel pot.  It was much softer than its AP flour cousin, and it was also VERY salty...nearly too salty.  This recipe is a step in the right direction when it comes to crusty, artisan loaves...but I think it still needs a bit of something...and less salt.

I also made some seitan cutlets ala Bryanna Clark Grogan's seitan turkey roast recipe.  I decided to make them into little cutlets, however, to make it a bit easier to freeze.  The texture wasn't as fabulous as it was on the full size roast, but this could have been to my lazy kneading as much as to the size of the cutlets.
Mmm wheat meat.

At the farmer's market, we bought some big ol' onions.  The tops of the onions were too pretty to toss, so I chopped up a couple.
And threw them in a stirfry with seitan, butternut squash, a bit of bok choy...
And put in too much sauce for my boy's taste.  I like mushroom sauce, okay?!
He's also not a fan of sweet + savory, which the butternut and soy/mushroom sauce does with gusto.  But my point is that onion tops are super tasty.
Anyhow, looking forward to another weekend of cooking.  Tomorrow I'll post about the tasty beefy seitan and barley soup the boy made this week... so good!

April 16, 2010

Alton Brown serves me well

Haven't cut into this yet.  More on this later.  But dear god.  Look at this crust!  It smells so good.

April 15, 2010

Review: The Cravings Place Cinnamon Coffee Cake Mix

Yes, it's another review of a mix from The Cravings Place.  This time, it's the cinnamon coffee cake.

Coffee cake is always fantastic.  My only caution is that the topping was very dry.  Like kitty litter dry.  I added the correct amount of margarine to the topping mix, but it was much like sand.  Hoping it would be magically absorbed into the rest of the batter, I sprinkled it on.  It remained powder.  I pretended to ignore this.
Despite the sandy top, the coffee cake was pretty delicious.  It reminded me of a cinnamon donut.  It was quickly devoured, and I have the notion to make a coffee cake from scratch.  Perhaps a cardamom coffee cake.  With swirls of preserves.  We shall see.

Now is also the time to discuss my distaste for Californian strawberries.  The discussion goes like this: "Even the ones from the farmers market taste like goddamned wet styrofoam.  I make no apologies to Californians, because you are the ones willingly consuming this not-berry."

April 14, 2010

Giant Breads

This is a post about giant breads.  The first is this giant focaccia that the boy made.  It was incredible tasty--I think he used the recipe from the Joy of Vegan Baking, adding roasted garlic and some Italian herbs.  It was dense and tender and all the things that focaccia should be.

This is also a post about giant sourdough.  I tried to make sourdough with "wild yeast."  I was skeptical, but I made a starter and it started to get sour smelling and bubbly, so I figured it would go okay.

The first sponge:
Bubbles are a good sign.  However, the dough did not rise very well in the oven and produced a clay-like loaf that nevertheless tasted wonderfully sour.
After a few slices, I tore up the loaf and am saving it for thickening soups or laying bricks.

Desperate for some fresh bread, I took the remaining starter and made a dough...this time cheating by adding a packet of active yeast.  The result was a giant goddamned loaf of bread:
This picture doesn't really put it into perspective.  Let's try again.
It was delicious and tender, but it was also not very sour.  In fact, it only had the slightest hint of sour.  Next time, I will try using an Alton Brown recipe...  But for now it's time for a break.  I don't think I can handle so many consecutive sourdough failures.

April 08, 2010

Pita and farmers market hummus

Last weekend, we picked up some amazing cilantro and jalepeno hummus from the farmers' market, a rare splurge since it is $4 for a small container!
But alas, we had no chips.  So despite the heat, I decided to whip up a batch of pita!  This was my first time making pita, so I didn't know what recipe to use or if it would turn out.  Fortunately, pita was actually really easy to make.
Through-the-oven-window pita puff action!

And fresh and quickly eaten:
Soft, fresh, would add a little more oil next time so they would keep soft longer.  The recipe made 10 pita (only two survived until the next day) which were best hot from the oven.  I haven't heard the boy rave about anything so much since we made pizza.  Sigh.

April 07, 2010

Review: The Cravings Place Brownie Mix

Let me describe the product of this brownie mix in a few sentence fragments:
Moist and chocolatey.

If I was a nitpicky person, I would voice my usual vegan brownie outrage and not having the shiny crispy crust on the top.

But really, this was a fantastic pan of brownies.  Boy enjoyed them.  They are still being savored.  The chunks of chocolate were huge and rich and wonderful.  I dislike mixes but I would recommend it to a new or lazy vegan person.  It's also great because it only takes oil and water.  And it's gluten free, which is good for folks who can't nom seitan.

April 06, 2010

Vegan Chickenless Noodle Soup

Getting sick is unpleasant.  I started getting runny-nosed and sore in the throat last Friday and was miserable all weekend.  I used to never get sick, but now that I take the commuter train (and a few buses) every day, I've received a refresher course in fevers and congestion.  

I'm still recovering from this latest grossness, but I thought I'd post this lovely chickenless noodle soup.

It's a simple chicken noodle soup type of recipe, with seitan chunks instead of chicken and some added spinach for a little more nutrition.  It's so good for sore throats and stuffy noses.

Seriously soothing.

April 04, 2010

Blackberry Scones

Although blackberries are not, in my opinion, the most delicious berry (the title naturally belongs to the Marionberry), they do go well in homemade I-just-want-something-for-brunch scones.

D&D character sheet sighted!

I've also been attempting to photograph the many baby rabbits that populate Irvine.  They're flighty and mysterious.  Results have been cryptozoological at best:

Big foot.