08 October 2009

Vegan Chili for the Non-Cook

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What I feared has happened: I ran out of pre-blogged posts, and have been too tired to cook in a few days. However, I pressed my husband, who has a fairly limited cooking repertoire, into making some super easy (and yummy) chili on a night I knew I would be way too tired to cook.

I left him with two big cans of organic crushed tomatoes, one can of Hunts Garlic & Herb spaghetti sauce*, two cans of kidney beans, a chopped onion, some Penzey's Chili 9000, and Penzey's Garlic Granules. He sauteed the onion in olive oil, and then added all the canned goods (having rinsed the kidney beans, I assume), plus 2T of the chili powder and 1t of the garlic. The consistency was perfect, and the depth and complexity of the Chili 9000 gives even a super basic recipe like this some extra oommph.

*Especially for the money, I prefer the basic Hunt's spaghetti sauces for a basic marinara. It's easy to modify the seasoning, but the best bit is that there is either no sugar added, or very little. If you check the nutrition labels, most of the more expensive jarred sauces have sugar content at least double the Hunt's vegan sauces.

07 October 2009

Vegan Kindle

I have been a voracious reader all my life. I spent every flashlight battery in the house reading under the covers. I begged to be allowed to read at the dining room table. I've read thousands of pages on buses, as the passenger in cars, on trains, on planes. Even a college class where we read ALL of Solzhenitsyn in one ten-week period could not destroy my love for the written word. If I'm awake, if my eyes are open, I'm often as not scanning my surroundings for something to read.

About ten years ago, I did a product test for Microsoft. I can't remember what their e-reader was called, or even whether or not it was a physical object when I did the test. But I remember that my opinions about e-books at that time were largely negative. No, no, no; I preferred paper. No, there is something special about holding a book. No, I can't read on a screen. And so on.

Somewhere along the way, my thinking changed. For one thing, once Amazon's Kindle landed in the hands of actual readers, their enthusiasm was infectious. Also, E Ink is pretty freaking cool.
And I'm a long-time Amazon customer whose experiences with the company have been nearly always positive, and their commitment to the e-book format frankly gave me more hope for its future than, well, Microsoft could. So I decided to spend my birthday cash on a Kindle 2.

One of the things I was curious about, but resisted the urge to explore fully until my Kindle actually arrived, was how many vegan cookbooks are available for the Kindle. It's a little nervewracking to think of using an expensive electronic device in the kitchen, where I routinely spill water, and, um, occasionally set off the smoke alarm. And maybe splatter things a bit. But my kitchen is home to our washer and dryer, and that's where I set up my conventional cookbooks, and they have been safe from harm. But even more appealing than cooking from a cookbook in e-book form is the prospect of menu-planning in whatever moments I can steal during the course of the day. I usually plan menus by flipping through my cookbooks, and coming up with a week or so's worth of compatible dishes. I do frequently throw a stack of cookbooks in the passenger seat of my car, or into my bicycle's pannier, but how much more convenient could it be to have a library of cookbooks available on my Kindle? With the capacity for annotating recipes?

It's not a complete library, but there are some great titles available in the Kindle Store. My one criticism so far is that the book samples for several titles I checked out did not include any recipes. I think that including at least a few would give potential buyers a better feel for an author's recipe-writing style, for how simple or complicated they like to make things, and to what sorts of ingredients they rely on. The other drawback might be that photos are, and will be for the foreseeable future, black and white. I don't mind that so much. The portability issue carries the day!

06 October 2009


I know, that's terrible. But it's what we call one of our favorite dishes, one we've been loving well before I was vegan and my husband was wandering in that direction.

(In our household, I've been vegetarian since 1988 (? - I think), and vegan since sometime this summer; my husband has been vegetarian since 1995; and the 10 year-old kid has been vegetarian since birth.)

The bonus is that it is super-duper easy and cooks quickly. If you put on some rice about half an hour before you want to eat, you can easily whip this up during the last 10 minutes of the rice's cooking time. (I think short grain brown rice is best.)

The recipe for African Pineapple Peanut Stew is here.

05 October 2009

More cheatin' pre-blogging!

And there are no pictures here, because a) it's night time, and dark, and b) seriously, even the most heavenly soup doesn't look that great in the slow cooker.

But holy cow, the slow cooker is a miracle.

I decided to make the Split Pea Soup from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table for tonight's dinner. It's Sunday (remember, I'm a cheating pre-blogger), and it's my only day off this week, and I knew we were going to see a movie at six. So this morning, I chopped everything for the soup, threw the veggies, the split peas, and the herbs in some water, and then refrigerated it until I was ready to start the cooking at around one.

My only mods to the recipe were that I added about 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast at the end of the cooking time, plus about 1T of Earth Balance margarine. It took about 6 hours in my slow cooker, which I boost when cooking legumes by putting it in rice cooker mode for a bit before starting the slow cooking. The liquids come to a boil, and then are hot enough to simmer for awhile before settling down for a true slow cook.

I all but refuse to see movies anywhere but our local theatre, and since it is in easy walking distance, we always walk unless there is a downpour. Tonight, we were at the tail end of a warm afternoon when we walked there, but it was right brisk when we came home--having hot soup waiting at home was perfect.

02 October 2009

I am pre-blogging, and it is my birthday. Now, I like pie, apple pie, specifically, far better than birthday cake anyway, but when you combine the first crop of apples from our tree in about five years* and Vegan MoFo, you get a homemade vegan apple pie.

I used the pie crust recipe from Veganomicon, but since I can't follow directions to the letter ever, really, I used Earth Balance stick margarine instead of vegan shortening, and instead of cutting it into the flour mixture by hand, I processed it in the food processor. It could have been a little flakier, perhaps, but it had a nice flavor and held together well. (I even got the first piece of pie out of the pan intact.)

I don't have the faintest idea what variety our apples are, but they are small, dry, cooking apples. I used the Apple Pie recipe (p100) from The Joy of Vegan Baking, but I substituted the Streusel Topping (p84) for the top crust. I also substituted Apple Pie Spice from Penzey's for the spices specified.

The result was a very firm textured, tasty pie. And as a special birthday treat, The Pickiest Vegetarian Kid in All the Land agreed to try some. And he liked it! The good news: he liked it! The bad news: now we have to share the pie!

*We used to have an apple tree that was about 100 years old, per our neighbor who grew up in the neighborhood. One afternoon about five years ago, I was in my office upstairs when I heard an odd crash. The tree had collapsed, and had done so into a driveway we don't park in. Nothing and no one was hurt. Eventually, suckers started coming up from the old stump, and we let them come, to see what would happen. This year, for the first time, apples!

01 October 2009


I was browsing my new copy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's fabulous Vegan Brunch when I paged upon the vegan sausage recipes. I'm not a huge fan of meat analogs EXCEPT for 1) bacon (fakin) and 2) sausage. Love the other fake white meat. Do not love: the price of purchasing the commercial versions or the slightly scary ingredient lists.

So while I was skeptical, I decided to give it a try. And holy cow (pig?), the recipe worked. VeganDad has Isa's basic recipe posted here; I used navy beans, and a slightly different array of spices. Not only did the recipe produce the desired results, I got to use one of my favorite appliances in a new way. I have a combination rice cooker/slow cooker/steamer, which worked like a dream for the 40 minute steaming period.

So now we have vegan sausages. What to do with them? The answer in my book is usually this: saute them with potatoes and greens. And guess what? Not only did I make the sausages, I grew the potatoes and the greens. There may even have been homemade vegan lemon poppyseed muffins to go along with this breakfast-for-dinner affair. Because I don't know what got into me.

20 September 2009

Vegan MoFo III

In which my listless web browsing one night led me here.

Now here's the deal: I have now been vegetarian for longer than I was an omnivore. (And I was an unenthusiastic meat-eater even then.) For those playing along, that's 21 years, roughly. I stopped eating meat one day when I was cutting up a chicken breast for a stir-fry...and I knew I just couldn't do it again. Ever. I read Diet for a Small Planet, and its basic arguments--that people can be fed more efficiently via a plant-based diet and that a vegetarian diet is nutritionally sound--made TOTAL sense to me. (They still do.) I'm an animal-lover, too, and I think our food choices affect the health of our planet.

But until fairly recently, I didn't make the leap from vegetarianism to veganism. Even though I understood that factory farming of dairy and eggs involved animal cruelty, and the processes of factory farming are an environmental nightmare. I kept inching toward being vegan, especially when I'd get frustrated by my allergies and asthmatic tendencies, which are made worse when I eat dairy. I'd start avoiding dairy, and start feeling better. Huh.

And then a few months ago, I decided IT WAS TIME. As with the chicken breasts, it was pretty much an "okay, we're done here" moment. All of the cookbooks I've bought in the last year have been vegan. I cook from them all the time; it finally hit me that it wouldn't be that hard to only cook from them. We don't eat out much any way, and if we have to eat out less, c'est la vie.

I've wanted to get back to writing again, and Vegan MoFo will give me some structure in that. I love September too much to wish it away, but once October arrives, let the mad vegan blogging begin!

01 August 2009

So, my bike wreck.

The bruise on my leg looks worse.
The good news: I am fine. My bike is fine.
The bad news: I had more interaction with the pavement than I needed at 7:10 am.
The continuing truth: In car vs. bike, car always wins.

My kid can vouch for the fact that I repeat, over and over, that it doesn't matter if you are right; a car is bigger than you. Car is rock to bike. Car is scissors to paper. Car is paper to rock. I try to ride as if I were invisible, that is, I take nothing for granted. I always wear a helmet. I don't ride with my earbuds in. I am watching and listening for cars every second I am on my bike. Sometimes that's not enough.

This morning, on my way to work, I was traveling a street which is a through street. From my house to my work is 3.4 miles, and the only traffic control is one roundabout, and one stop sign. All traffic entering the street is controlled by stop signs on the side streets. Less than half a mile from work, I spotted a black SUV with tinted windows. I had my eyes on it, and it was at a full stop as I approached. I braked a little, but I estimate my speed at 15-17 mph. (I was riding without electric assist, as I always do in the morning.) And then the SUV started rolling forward. I had time to brake hard and slide off the bike. My elbow, knee, and palm all hit the pavement, and I got banged up by the bike some, too.

I don't remember what I said, but I read the driver the riot act. I'm pretty sure I didn't swear, but I wasn't very nice about it. His response? "I didn't see you! You're not even wearing orange!" OH! I missed the part in the driver's handbook about only yielding to ORANGE traffic. If he had apologized at all, I might think I was a little harsh. But I was standing there bleeding, with giant sized bruises raising up, and he still wanted to be *right*.

I know I did the best I could under the circumstances, but it's still unsettling.

03 April 2009

10 February 2009

08 February 2009

I am bothered by something which is best left unsaid (really), but here is video of Gene Robinson's pre-inaugural prayer.

06 February 2009

Cutest socks ever!

How often do I say that about non-handknits!?

20 January 2009

I loved

that bit when our President and First Lady (!!!) were dancing at the Home State Ball, and he gave her a little twirl, and she shrugged and kind of rolled her eyes like, "Can you believe what a cornball this guy is?" That was cute.

10 January 2009

There are

a lot of thing that bring me to tears.

This is one.

05 January 2009

My awesome day

commenced with a twenty-minute session of driveway-digging. I quit a few feet from the end, figuring that I would have enough momentum to get through the last bit, even in reverse. This was a faulty assumption, as I slid a little, and wedged the passenger side of the car up against the street-side snow bank. Also, it was totally high-centered. I called work to say I would be late. My husband came out to help dig and push, and after lots of laying on the ground, scraping snow out from under the car with the shovel, and multiple attempts, we got me out of the driveway and started down our rather large hill. I nearly buried the vehicle again, but recovered. Also, did I mention that I'd turned off the defroster while we did all the digging, and couldn't see much at all? Narrowly avoided a pack of wee dogs running in the street. Barreled around the corner and gunned it, but the plow hadn't been anywhere near, and I high-centered my dear little CR-V once more, well and truly. Neighbor gal got dropped off at her house; I asked for a shovel. She provided two, plus her husband and their snowblower. We got me out, again, and as I approached the end of the street, I knew I couldn't stop without getting stuck YET AGAIN, so I prayed and hit the accelerator. The main road had been plowed, and was passable. I got to work, an hour late, soaking wet, and sore. Happy Monday!!

01 January 2009

I had a dream

in which we were moving to a new house (no plans to do so, relax, kid), and though we had presumably gone through the entire purchasing process, I kept discovering rooms in it. For instance, we were debating whether a walk-in closet could be configured into a studio space for Mark, when, HEY! Look here! There's another room.

Also, the kitchen had a salad bar in the center island, complete with a sneeze guard.

And due to the ubiquity of the internet, all of the neighbors were expecting us, and came over for coffee. They weren't really having coffee with us, as we were moving, but they were all gathered around a table in our kitchen.

Photo was taken this morning. It snowed all night, and hasn't let up. The snow is sliding off the roof of our house, but the studio building (pictured) isn't heated, so the snow isn't moving, and it's making me nervous. I may see if I can rake some snow off the lower edge and get it moving, but I'm worried about disturbing the even distribution of the weight. The building is about 400 square feet, and the snow depth is about two feet.

Currently all three of the major passes that connect eastern Washington with western Washington are closed. Good times!