Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!!I got the cutest barrettes ever a while back from Devil & Mouse. These pumpkins are my rendition of the boy & girl design. Love love! Happy Haunting Day!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Garden Scramble with Save-the-Chicks Pate' & much more!

I am loving my new "un-cookbook" Ani's Raw Food Kitchen, by Ani Phyo. It is informative and makes raw eating accessible without the need for panic-inducing crazy appliances, wild ingredients, and such. She includes a variety of preparation styles and ingredients, but I've gotten by just fine on a blender and local grocery store supplies so far (I did order some kelp noodles just to see what they are like...upcoming post!). Her writing style is great and her outlook is inspirational! I've really started looking at my foods and habits to find ways to make things more healthful, fun, and diverse.

I also am sticking with the skin brushing and LOVE using coconut oil as a moisturizer (suggestions from Ani's books and Get It Ripe by Jae Steele). I finally sprung for a Sigg water bottle- no more plastic- and feel very festive toting it around all the time! Ebay is good for picking up a Sigg bottle without breaking the bank, but the home site features tons of different bottles, lids, and accessories too. I picked out one I love, because I hope we will be together for a long time!! :)

Yesterday afternoon I made Ani Phyo’s Garden Scramble with Save-the-Chicks pate (irresistible cute recipe name, right!?) to bring for my breakfast today. Yum! It's my first attempt at a raw breakfast beyond fresh fruit. I really like the idea, because I have often eaten dinner leftovers for a late breakfast and loved it. This raw scramble is a healthy way to get the morning started! This is the save-the-chicks pate', which I ate on a bed of baby greens. So delicious! Swell Vegan suggests adding parsley and nutritional yeast (maybe making it not quite as raw, but crazy good!), which I will try next time. The cookbook has lots of different versions of a raw scramble, and I am excited about them. Another nice aspect is that Ani lists storage time for her recipes, which means you can prepare some meals ahead of time and then still grab them when you are on the go. Yay!

Happy eating!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Candy Apple Craziness!!

Our friend Jen made us some candy apples! I don't think I have ever had these! After a really excellent After Nine Show, we biked home with these babies in the basket and chomp chomp chomped!!

We got our candy eating faces on!

Brad verifies the goodness!

I laughed my way through it...

We demolished these things!!

We impressed Chloe with our apple-eatin' skillz.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All I Need Is Love & Sushi...

I saw that on a bumper sticker once..."All I Need Is Love & Sushi." Not quite true in my case, but a nice expression of my deep affection for a good sushi dinner. Last night I threw together a little sushi meal. Evil bugs (experienced cooks, what are these called!?) invaded my sushi rice because I never remember to seal the bag up properly, so I made sushi with some boil-in-bag brown rice. Don't throw things at me Kittee! We sampled some seaweed salad from the local Asian market, and rounded things out with the miso soup from Vegan Planet.

Seaweed salad...
Yummy sushi, although weeble-wobbly due to lack of sticky rice!

My favorite addition to sushi lately is a smooshy mixture of fresh avocado and Tofutti cream cheeze. Yummmmy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Detoxing with Get It Ripe

I am really loving my copy of Get It Ripe by Jae Steele. I haven't even made it to the recipes yet because the informational chapters are so full of good things!

This morning I had my first detox elixir. It's filtered water and fresh squeezed lemon juice. I liked how it tasted. I am still keeping up my plan of eating mainly raw for breakfast and lunch. We shall see if I start bounding out of bed with loads of extra energy!
Another tip I've started applying is the skin brushing. It feels so good and I know my skin is already softer after a few days. I will be keeping this habit up.

There is lots of information on skin brushing for detox. I found this website that I liked. Here is a basic rundown.

"Giving your body a firm brush all over makes the skin glow by removing the top dull, dead layer of skin and encouraging new cells to regenerate. The gentle massaging motion of the bristles also has a beneficial effect on areas of cellulite, and it is an effective treatment for helping eliminate toxins from the body during a detox programme.
The technique is a simple one, and you need only a body brush with natural bristles, such as those of goat or boar, or a loofah. There are various types of brush, all widely available at chemist shops. You will need a brush with a handle - some have detachable handles - so that you can reach all the inaccessible parts of your back. There are also brushes mounted on long straps, which are ideal for the back and buttocks, and most loofahs are long enough to reach over the shoulders and down the back. You need a much softer brush, or a flannel, for the face.
Skin brushing is carried out on dry skin. Start at your feet and work upwards, brushing the legs, then buttocks, then on to the chest and stomach and finally the face. Brush more gently where the skin is thinnest and always brush towards the heart.
This kind of skin-brushing , if done daily, is one of the simplest and effective treatments for lumpy thighs and hips that you will find anywhere.
Brushing your whole body in this way will take you between three and five minutes, depending on how many strokes you give to each area. Try to keep a rhythm going and brush for up to five minutes every day and preferably immediately before you have a bath or shower so that the dead cells are washed away.

Skin brushing is best done in the morning as the acceleration of blood flow has quite an invigorating effect. You should be able to see the difference in your skin after just a few sessions - it will become very soft and develop an attractive rosy glow.
Good reasons for skin brushing:
Stimulates blood and lymph flow
Helps eliminate toxins from the body
Removes dead skin cells
Encourages cells to regenerate
Stimulates production of sebum
Helps combat cellulite
Results in smooth glowing skin

5-minute skin brushing routine
Make sure the room is warm and there are plenty of towels. Undress, and find somewhere comfortable to sit so that you can easily reach your feet and lower legs.
Take the brush and begin with the sole of your right foot.Use firm, rhythmic strokes to cover the sole several times. Next, brush the top of your foot, brushing up towards your ankle. Then go on to your lower leg, making sure you cover the whole surface - shin and calf. Always brush in an upward direction. Stand up and brush the area from your knee to the top of your thigh. Make sure you cover the whole area several times, using long, rhythmic strokes.Brush your buttock area as far as your waist. Now repeat the whole procedure on your left leg, starting again with the sole of your foot. Starting from the top of your buttocks, and always moving in an upward direction, brush the whole of your back several times all the way up to your shoulders.
Next, brush your right arm. Start with the palm of your hand, move on to the back of your hand and then brush from your wrist up to your elbow, always in an upward direction and ensuring that the whole surface of your skin is brushed. Brush your upper arm, working from your elbow towards your shoulder, again covering the whole surface of your upper arm.
Repeat on your left side, starting with your hand. Then, very gently, brush your abdomen, brushing in a circle, always in a clockwise direction. Cover the area several times but with less pressure than on your arms and legs. If it feels uncomfortable, stop.
The neck and chest are also very sensitive areas, so, again, brush here very gently. Always work towards your heart. If the bristles are too hard on your neck, don't brush here. Lastly, work on your face. Use your soft brush or a dry flannel and soften and shorten your action, as brisk rubbing can stretch or otherwise damage the facial skin."

Friday, October 24, 2008

IronCupcake: Cheese!

I astounded my very own self when I woke up in the middle of the night with a solution to my Iron Cupcake challenge. The secret ingredient was cheese! The only stuff I could think of involved Tofutti Cream Cheese, which while delicious, didn't offer a lot of revolutionary options in my mind. I remembered seeing something a while back about Mac & Cheese Cupcakes, so I decided to take it a step further and build a vegan version of my favorite meal! Hence we have the Vegan Dinner Cupcakes! They are made of a cornbread cupcake, mashed potato and gravy frosting, mac & cheeze topping, and a little piece of cooked carrot to finish things off!
If you feel so inclined, please amble on over to NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKE IN A CORNER and vote for me! Voting will begin on Sunday, October 26 at 12 noon and will be open through Thursday, October 30 at 12 noon.
Now for the recipe!
The base is a vegan cornbread recipe, courtesy of Vegan Explosion!

1 1/4 Cup White Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
3/4 Cup Yellow Cornmeal
2/3 Cup Soymilk Generous 1/2 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Agave Nectar
1/4 Cup Vegan margarine (melted)
2 Ener-G Egg Replacer Eggs
3/4 Cup Canned 100% Pure Pumpkin
OPTIONAL: 1/2 Cup Corn
OPTIONAL: 1/2 Cup Seeded Jalapenos, diced

Sift together: Flour, Baking Powder, Salt and Coriander in a large mixing bowl
Stir-in Cornmeal and mix well.
Make vegan buttermilk by combining soymilk and vinegar. Set aside.
In a separate bowl: Combine Brown Sugar, Agave, Melted Margarine, Egg Replacer Eggs, Pumpkin
Add Vegan Buttermilk to Brown Sugar Mixture.
Combine wets with dry ingredients. If adding corn and jalapenos, do this now.
Mix thoroughly but do not over mix.
Pour batter in baking pan.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the cornbread is golden on top.

The "frosting" is homemade mashed potatoes (no recipe...just hand-mashed potatoes, soymilk, and Earth Balance with a minced clove of garlic or two) mixed with gravy. The gravy is from Vegan With A Vengeance and it's delicious!!

Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy

1/4 C all purpose flour
Approximately 2 1/2 C water
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium sized onion, quartered and sliced thin
2 tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 C cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, rinsed and drained
2 pinches ground cumin
2 pinches paprika
1 pinch dried rosemary
1 pinch dried thyme1 pinch dried oregano
1 pinch dried coriander
3 Tbs soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 C nutritional yeast

Mix the flour with 2 cups of water until the flour is mostly dissolved. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onions and mustard seeds; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are browned and the mustard seeds are toasted. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more. Add the chickpeas; use a potato masher to mash them -- you don't want to mash them into a paste, just make sure each one is broken up although if there are a few whole ones left, that is ok. Add the herbs and spices, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits of onion. Lower heat and pour the flour mixture into the pan. Stir constantly until a thick gravy forms. Stir in the nutritional yeast. If it looks too thick and pasty, add more water and mix well. It may look like it doesn't want any more water added to it, but just keep mixing and it will loosen up. Keep warm until ready to serve.

The Mac & Cheeze topping is my most favorite vegan mac & cheeze recipe yet. It's so awesome we call it "Sexy Mac" at our house! The recipe is originally from, but I always reference the RecipeZaar site, as that is where I found it.

1 1/2 cups plain soymilk
1 cup water
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
3 ounces firm tofu
1 cup canola oil
1 1/2 lbs macaroni noodles
2 teaspoons mustard (optional)
1Preheat oven to 350°F.
2Boil water in a big pot for the pasta.
3All of the ingredients sans pasta can easily go in a blender (liquid and powdered) -- this is by far the easiest way.
4Once pasta is cooked, drain and put it in the baking pan pour the cheese sauce over the pasta. I like to sprinkle Kellogg's Cornflake crumbs over the top for some nice texture.
5Bake until the top of the pasta looks slightly browned and crispy about 15 minutes.

The topper is just a little cooked carrot, but so important, as carrots are my #1 favorite treat!

As always, IronCupcake has a host of fabulous prizes from fabulous sponsors. Take a looksie!

Lots of Sprinkles at
Bakelove Bakewear,
HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson,

Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, http://____________/ .

Thursday, October 23, 2008


According to ye olde Wickipedia, "Fattoush (Arabic: فتوش ) is a Levantine salad made from several garden vegetables and toasted or fried pieces of pita bread. Fattoush salad allows cooks to use seasonal produce by mixing different vegetables and herbs according to taste, and also to make use of pitas that have gone stale. The vegetables are cut into relatively large pieces compared to Tabbouleh which requires ingredients to be finely chopped. Sumac is usually used to give Fattoush its sour taste."

Below is a picture of my rendition of fattoush. I used a recipe from Vegan Planet, but great recipes abound on the Internet. This was a delicious meal and has the potential to be added to the shortlist of Pixiepine kitchen favorites!

Give it a try!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Raw-ish Adventures Continue...

I've been making efforts to eat more fresh food, as I blogged about a little while back. I've noticed that having plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand all the time makes it way more workable. When I start running out of produce, that old craving for Dr. Pepper and cookies comes rushing right back! By no means have I been strict about raw, as I generally include a little tofu or like here, a pita or a bit of polenta. I do notice a wacky amount of energy and happy feelings on the days I eat mostly raw for two meals. It's fun!!

Here's a lunch I made for myself. It was a pita with cilantro, sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, onions, edamame, lettuce, vinaigrette, and probably some other stuff!

A fuzzy close-up of the goodness!

Here it is all wrapped up and ready to go to work with me! (Ignore that chocolate vegan donut on the side! Teehee!)

Happy eating!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Corn Cakes & Texas Caviar

I've heard of Texas caviar, but this is my first time making it. Going on the principle that "everything is bigger and better in Texas," black eyed peas make the base of this recipe, along with onions, peppers, corn, tomatoes, and all kinds of goodness. The Texas caviar is mixed up and sits for up to two days to let all the flavors soak in really well!

I was inspired by this blog on Fat Free Vegan to try Easy Corn Cakes with my Texas Caviar. They were truly easy to make, and full of flavor. In the picture above, I've loaded my corn cake up with caviar and added a side of vegetarian refried beans. Very satisfying meal!!

Bonus round: Today is the International Day of The Nacho! Happy Veggie Nachos!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Freezing Veggies

Sometimes I get ambitious and make a grocery list based on my recipes for the next week or so. I love spending time getting organized and then writing my recipes on the chalkboard in my kitchen. However, more often than not, life gets busy and things don't really go according to a schedule For that reason, I decided to learn how to properly prep and store fresh produce for upcoming meals. Freezing is my friend! I found tons of helpful websites that give instructions on freezing anything imaginable. Just Google "how to freeze______" and you will get a wealth of information.

Most instructions follow a basic list: Wash, blanch, ice bath, dry, and freeze.

Here are my vegetables blanching, or boiling for just a few minutes.

Next, they got a happy ice bath.

Finally, I dried, bagged, and labeled them. Now I have a lot of the prep work done for an upcoming ratatouille. Fantastic!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Home Cookin'...sort of.

Sometimes the day has been really hectic and all I want is some nice warm food that doesn't take too long to prepare. With a little planning and some pre-packaged food, you can get it done! This meal was easy, quick, and fairly healthy. I boiled some boil-in-bag rice and warmed up a can of peas-n-carrots. I mixed up a package of vegan brown gravy. Then I took some seitan I had made earlier in the week, sliced it up, and warmed it with the gravy.

I threw in a little green salad to balance out all the food from cans and packets!

Yum :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I found this cute little questionnaire over at Tangled Up In Food and thought I would give it a try. I am loving reading all the great Vegan MOnth of FOod posts so far.

1. Name a song that involves food in some way.
If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked A Cake- Eileen Barton

2. What criteria do you use when choosing a new cookbook to buy?
Colorful, recipes with ingredients I have access to, unusual without being ridiculous

3. What did you eat today? So far, strawberries and a banana

4. Name a vegan food that you know exists but you have never tried. Durian.

5. The Food Network just called and needs you to start your new show tomorrow. What will the title of the show be?
Pixiepine Cafe'

6. Favorite hot sauce or other spicy condiment? Sriracha hot sauce

7. How old were you when you became vegetarian/vegan?
Vegetarian at about 14 with a some non-veg phases through the years
Vegan beginning age 29...a transition that's complete at 30

8. Favorite vegan cheeze? haven't really loved any of them. Teese was good on pizza, recipes from the Uncheese Cookbook are kind of fun

9. Cutest baby animal? lamb

10. Favorite type of jam/jelly/marmalade/preserves? strawberry or cherry. wait, orange marmalade! wait! i love them all :)

11. Do you take any vitamins/supplements? multi, plus some other stuff if i am feeling run down

12. What food/dish most embodies the Fall season? pumpkin pie!

13. What food would you have a hard time living without? carrots

14. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? I like them all.

15. It’s 10PM and you’re starving. What do you eat? something sweet if i have it. Otherwise, some cold fresh veggies.

16. If you have an animal companion, what is his/her favorite food? yucky stinky squishy can food

17. Worst injury you’ve gotten in the kitchen? lots of cuts and burns

18. When you have a food-related question, who do you call? Google or the PPK

19. Summer is ending- What food will you miss most? tomatoes from my garden!

20. What snacks do you keep in your purse/backpack/desk at work? Hehehe. There is no telling. Lots of times fruit or dips and veggies.

21. Favorite soup to make on a rainy day? I am excited to try the Compassion Over Killing cream of broccoli soup.

22. What’s your favorite combination of fresh vegetable and/or fruit juices? Sweet Jane- carrots and apples

23. Favorite brand of root beer? Don't have one.

24. Make up your own question!
Post a comment with something neat about your food preferences!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Raw Eating

I have been reading up a little on raw. A while back, I read Natalia Rose's book, The Raw Food Detox Diet. I jumped right in and learned quickly that you cannot just munch on random fruit all day and feel well. Raw eating takes some planning, preparation, and knowledge. While I admire raw foodists, I think my goal after learning more is to be aware of what I eat. I want to incorporate more raw foods in my diet to balance out all the very junk foody vegan stuff I also love! Some other interesting blogs and books I have checked out include:

Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Blog (also her movie, Crazy Sexy Cancer)

Mattye Lee (a PPK-er too!)

I've made a goal of having one raw day a week, or one raw meal a day. I'm not sure what plan I will pick. Being vegan is a challenge sometimes in terms of socializing and eating out. I am careful to base my food choices on what is right for me, but also focus on feasible ways to still eat and enjoy food with my friends and family. We'll see what develops.

Yesterday was the first day I gave it a shot. For breakfast I had apples and grapes. For lunch, I made a big salad with every vegetable-y thing I could find, plus some sunflower seeds and a little smoked tofu (not raw I know!). It was delicious! Afternoon snack was a big treat! I got two of my favorite fresh juices from a local place, the Daily Harvest: Orange Twist (orange and pineapple) and Sweet Jane (carrots and apple). YUM!! I had a normal dinner and finished up my day feeling great.

This morning I am munching on strawberries and a bottle of water. I can definitely see the difference between fast food breakfast or even home-made toast, tofu scramble, etc. Starting the day with something fresh feels good.

If you have raw favorites, comment with them!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Ode To Mac-N-Cheeze

Long ago and far away, I used to get up really early on Saturday mornings and go garage sale-ing with my good friend Rachel. We would make thermoses of coffee and hit the road armed with a newspaper and a highlighter. After we made it to all the sales, we would sit at McDonald's with the old people and have some breakfast. Rachel always got pancakes, and she would sing this special loving song to them, just letting them know how much she enjoyed their fluffy goodness.

I would like to sing an ode to this macaroni recipe. See that laughing girl decoupaged onto our table under the dish? That is how you will feel after you eat this mac-n-cheeze. I have made the recipe my own by adding a topping of Cornflake crumbs. Yum!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Tour Of My Kitchen

Food, food, and more food! Ever wonder where it all gets made and eaten? You're in luck! I decided to share a few of my favorite parts of the Pixiepine Kitchen!

Every weekend I like to peruse my recipes and cookbooks to make a list of upcoming meals. I made myself a little chalkboard from a canvas, chalkboard paint, and some ribbon. It hangs in the kitchen and reminds me of my list for the week.
Here's our "Taters & Onyuns!" Anyone else remember those silly wooden bins that said that on the lid? We just have a nice basket! The smaller basket usually holds shallots, banana peppers, and little things like that.
Here's the bar!! Well...some of it. This is a magical jumble of corks, umbrellas, stirrers, and other treasures.
A little smattering of my cookbooks along the wall. I love all books, cookbooks especially!
And finally, this is where the magic happens (well, after the initial magic which happens when I cook!) Here's where we eat and talk and laugh and such. Bonus shot of Pumpkin the kitty. Can you find him?

Thanks for looking and enjoy!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Roast "Beef" PoBoys!

What can I say! Kittee's Roast Beef Po Boys, though a little involved start-to-finish, were delicious and so worth the effort. The actual recipe is easy as pie, with a few modifications that I'll share.

The process actually began a few steps back, with making the seitan upon which the recipe is based. I used Joanna's seitan recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes. It's my second time making seitan, and I just love it!

Once I had my little seitan cutlets all ready, the Po Boy fun began!! I made a giant stinky burning mess the first time I attempted a roux, so this time I was prepared with a nice jar of store bought Cajun roux. I also made my very own Kitchen Bouquet for the gravy. The gravy in Kittee's recipe is easy and very tasty, so save some for leftovers!
We didn't have any lettuce, but we made due! Ha! These sandwiches were excellent, and we were covered in brown gravy. A side of Mac & Cheeze and we were in business!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Stumbling Happily Onto Tricks Of The Trade...

Recently I stopped into the local cookware/kitchen outfitters extraordinaire and was delighted to find a 50% off sale! I am still pretty new to cooking, and have a long way to go as far as a well-outfitted kitchen. A spoon and an old pot will get a girl a long way, but I've decided to dedicate a little money and effort to slowly building up my stash of tools. The next step will hopefully be replacing the scary flaking cookware with some more sturdy and quality pots and pans. I usually scour estate and garage sales for kitchen finds (a 75 cent brand new muffin pan and ceramic travel mug embossed with mermaids from Chaleur for 50 cents are among my favorite finds), so it was exciting to shop in a kitchen store full of shiny new things!

I'd like to share some of my bargains today and post a little wishlist for the ever-evolving kitchen of Leslie!

A smattering of the mark-down goodies I found today included:

* A lovely large Le Creuset slotted spatula in green!
* Mini jars of baking flavors. I got a butterscotch and an orange. I smell new cupcake creations!!!

* Tiny pewter condiment spoons to match my beloved pewter serving dishes!

* A cute Louisiana themed tea towel edged in rickrack and decorated with all the special places and symbols. I can smell a big Cajun dinner cooking already!

* And finally, that which I cannot leave this wonderful store without...a little bag of dark chocolate-covered coffee beans! Crunch crunch yum!!

The perfect weather for garage and estate sales is here. Hopefully I will set the clock, get the coffee pot ready, and hit the yards and carports for more fancy finds. Coming up soon in my kitchen:

* cookware
* pizza cutter & pan
* casserole dish (My dream version of this would be to stumble onto a beautiful vintage Pyrex piece pink!!!)
* food processor
*cake stand with clear cover
*Vita Mix blender
*Breville juicer
*Le Creuset bell-pepper shaped cooker in the eggplant color...mmmmm.
(Ok I know those last two are seriously ambitious, but you never know!!)
Enjoy your cooking! I'd love to hear your neat kitchen ideas!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


On our last trip to New Orleans, we found this magical store full of pretty sugary things!

It is a bakery and sweet shop kind of place with amazing chocolates and such. I took a few pictures of the goods. I'm not sure if any of the chocolate or pastry offerings were vegan, but there were lovely non-dairy sorbets. Check out the website and menus.
This was a cute wedding/groom's cake combo on display.
When I see a place like this, it inspires me to learn more so that I can create vegan versions of these beautiful confections!
I got the little girls tiny pink cardboard and ribbon purses with a peanut butter and jelly chocolate and a fancy Whopper style chocolates. For the handsome man, there was a nice blue and brown box with my choices of Chai Tea chocolate, lavender chocolate, absinthe chocolate, thyme chocolate, and Meuniere Fleur De Lis. Wheeeee!!!
Go visit if you are in the area!
3025 Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA 70115
Tel. 504.520.8311
Fax. 504.520.8312

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beginnings In The Kitchen

I can still remember the day I developed a distaste for honey and ginger ale...what a lot to lose in one fell swoop!

My brother and I decided to make ourselves a snack. With his reckless abandon and my poor matching skills, we came up with Saltines covered in honey and mushy toppings (can't remember what!). Our beverage was ginger ale that had lost all it's fizz. I still remember how gross this snack was, and how excruciating it was to eat.

My favorite concoctions as a child were mostly pretty normal: Lucky Charms, Milkshakes made of ice cream, milk, and malt powder, hot cocoa, sandwiches. Once I got into high school, my eating habits got a little odd. I liked cans of room temperature English peas for breakfast, and ate pickles and vanilla shakes for lunch many days. College was signified by a free meal plan and a LOT of coffee.

As I've grown through my twenties, and now in my 30th year, I can say I love the way I eat. A friend introducing me to sushi* in the last few years was wonderful. Now I experiment and make my own sushi that I love. I am always excited to try new foods in new places, and am particular enamored with regional cuisines (my own region and others!). Slowly making my way from "lazy" vegetarianism to conscientious veganism has really taught me many things. I have learned about health and animal welfare, but also to my surprise, about the amazing variety of foods, kitchen tools, cooking methods, and so on .

For my 30th year, I have some cooking/food goals on my mind. Here are a few:

-Veganize some serious Cajun recipes
-Learn to make bread products! I am hopelessly terrified to even try things like pie crust and savory breads. Being part of the Daring Bakers Challenges is curing me of this fast! Last month we made crackers! More wild challenges ahead! Wish me luck!
-Improve my tofu-preparation abilities!
-Create some original recipes.

*This cute sushi pic is linked from a neat craft blog.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pasta E Fagioli with "Parmesan" Topping

Oh the joy that is Yellow Rose Recipes by Joanna Vaught!

Featured today: the delicious and hearty Pasta E Fagioli, a chunky, zesty Italian soup. I topped the soup with Joanna's vegan parmesan cheese. Delicious!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Eggplant Creole...and it's good for you!

I can always count on the recipes at FatFreeVegan to taste great and eliminate a lot of unnecessary yuck like extra oil and fats. This Eggplant Creole is no exception! (We won't discuss the prepackaged Dirty Rice cradling that oh-so-healthy dish!!)

Eggplant Creole

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 bell pepper, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1 15-ounce can salt-free diced tomatoes

2 tbsp. tomato paste1 cup vegetable broth

2 tbsp. minced parsley

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. Zatarains' liquid Crab Boil (if unavailable, use hot sauce to taste)

1/8 tsp. red pepper (to taste)

1/8 tsp. white pepper

1/4 tsp. celery seed

freshly ground pepper

1/2 tsp. powdered nori (or other seaweed)

1/2 tsp. sugar

salt, to taste

Sauté onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes, adding water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add eggplant and sauté for 5 more minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, reduce heat, and cook until eggplant is completely tender, about 20-30 minutes. Serve over rice, garnished with additional parsley.

My notes: I powdered a sheet of nori in the blender and stored the extra in a jar for next time. I also used canned diced tomatoes with salt, so I eliminated the additional salt in the recipe.

Bonus round! I made Po Boys with the Eggplant Creole and leftover Cajun Tofu from Yellow Rose Recipes. Delicious!!