oh, am i ever in trouble.

i have a total food crush on katie.

her cinnamon rolls blew my mind the other day and now i'm (again) dumbfounded by her recipe for spicy tempeh wingz, which she included in DEOTS #1. i often find tempeh too substantial and chewy, so i adapted it to make some sort of buffalo-y tofu sticks. holy hell, are they ever amazing. i'm actually a little worried about what might become of me now that i've gotten around to making them. i foresee myself holing up in the apartment, shutting off the phone and otherwise ending all contact with the outside world, and getting all hopped up on hot sauce and vegan bleu cheese dressing. (yeah, you read that right.)

i prepped the tofu by freezing, defrosting, and pressing it, then slicing it in eight pieces across the width, like this.

then i halved each piece and put them through the breading assembly line - almond milk, flour & seasonings, and panko bread crumbs, shown here in reverse order. (i ran out of panko after 12 pieces of tofu and had to resort to regular bread crumbs, which coated more thoroughly and crisped up a little more than the panko. even so, i think she made the right choice in suggesting a bigger crumb for the coating.)

after baking at somewhere between 300 and 400 for, oh, a while - everything is kind of random in my kitchen - i tossed all the tofu pieces in the sauce. i plated them up with a dressing i made while they were baking. they were so, so, SO good and right now i feel like i just want all my food smothered in hot sauce and served with a side of creamy cooldown.

katie has posted the tempeh wingz recipe on her site and here's the dressing recipe, which i adapted from an outback restaurant copycat. it's pretty much slaying everything in sight right now. it's that good.
vegan blue cheese dressing
1/2 wheel of sunergia "soy bleu" vegan blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup vegenaise
2 T soy milk
splash of apple cider vinegar
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t onion powder
fresh ground white pepper, to taste

combine the soymilk and vinegar in a small bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. add all other ingredients and mix well. can be used immediately, but it's best to cover and refrigerate it for at least half an hour before serving.


with cinnamon rolls like these...

...who needs friends? or anything else, for that matter?

much has been said about katie's pumpkin cinnamon rolls recipe (from don't eat off the sidewalk, issue 2). i must confess, i foolishly tried to make these once before, only to find that i was out of AP flour, and tried to make do with whole wheat flour. yeah...as anyone who has ever tried knows, the two are not interchangeable. my first batch, though a miserable failure, still provided a few half-cooked rolls that testified to this recipe's genius. i knew i would be making them again...

i had a pumpkin project all lined up for the weekend, but i was less than satisfied with my preliminary results. having restocked the pantry, i figured i should give the pumpkin cinnamon rolls another go. i'm really glad i did, as was my coworker today, who was the lucky recipient of one roll, and as i'm sure my other coworkers will be tomorrow, when i bring in what's left of the batch. i, for one, don't need them sitting around my kitchen, luring me in with their siren song of deliciousness. it's bad enough that i had one for dinner tonight. that's right, not WITH dinner, not AFTER dinner, but FOR dinner. if you've tried them, you are no doubt picking up what i'm putting down.

i made a few changes to the recipe from DEOTS. i wanted to add another little seasonal touch and find a use for some dried cranberries i had, so i added them to the filling. when i made the glaze, i added 1/2 teaspoon of cranberry concentrate. as it turns out, i definitely could have used more, but i glazed them right before work this morning and didn't want to start my day off with regret. i almost wish i'd added some nuts, too, but i suspect i might just be cinnamon roll crazy. here they are, in detail, pre- and post-bake.


funghi among i.

old me: funghiphobe.
new me: funghiphile.

i think i turned the corner to mushroom appreciation one night when i was at a summertime cookout on my friends josh & mo's rooftop downtown. they grilled some creminis that had been tossed with olive oil and salt and i was immediately smitten. mo's friend karl was super sweet about it, too, and he kept passing them my way. i didn't experiment much with mushrooms after that, but it did open me up to the possibility of eating them in different ways.

this past september, i had a mushroom tagliatelle for my birthday dinner. and this afternoon, when i was shopping at trader joe's, i couldn't resist buying a half-pound assortment of mushrooms - oyster, cremini, and shiitake. i wanted a similar pasta dish, so i sought out a recipe and, wouldn't you know it, mario batali came through. i worked from his recipe for perciatelli al funghi, but used less oil, my 'shroom mix instead of porcinis, linguine instead of perciatelli, and added a little dry white wine. it was flippin' awesome.

1 pound perciatelli
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
4 garlic whole cloves peeled
1 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 pound fresh porcini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

drop the pasta in salted boiling water.
meanwhile, in a large saute pan heat 4 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil, add the sliced and whole garlic. remove the pan from the heat if necessary; you do not want the garlic to brown too much or burn.
add 1/2 cup of the parsley and continue to cook either on low flame or using the residual heat for 1 minute. if you find the garlic cooking too quickly, add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking liquid to slow it down.
add the sliced porcini and 4 more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
remove the whole garlic cloves and continue to cook until your pasta is ready.
once your pasta is done, drain it and place in the saute pan with the oil and porcini tossing to combine, let it cook for 45 seconds more, and then toss in the remaining 1/2 cup parsley and the remaining extra-virgin olive oil.
plate and serve immediately.

happy red velvet day!

yesterday was my friend and favorite new baby mama sheila's birthday, so i made her a red velvet cake to commemorate it.
it started off as a 2-layer cake, but i wasn't satisfied with the height so i doubled it. jesus, it was really tall! i used this recipe and it turned out really awesome. the only issue i have is that my crazy old oven has two settings, off and 500°F, so i always end up with slightly overdone edges. i don't know how i got any cupcake testing done in that thing. i guess the smaller cakes/shorter cook times were more forgiving.

(the superbly amateur cake decorating was at once fun and anxiety-inducing, last-minute as it was.)

no inside shot because we ate at a korean restaurant (sura: the king's meal) on 9th street that was lovely inside but very dark. i had a deliciously spicy kimchi stone bowl bibimbop that was perfect for a cold, cold night. again, no pictures, so you'll have to take my word for it that it was not only delicious but also beautifully served, sizzling in a giant hot black stone bowl.


memphis-style forque sandwich.

continuing my lazy and warm-weather food themes, i took advantage of my decision to enjoy a mental health day today and recreated one of my favorite nonvegan sandwiches for lunch.

i admit, barbecue food is weird because its history is so intimately tied to carnivory, but i liken it to the wearing of faux fur. except, i'm assuming, barbecue is more delicious than faux fur. anyway, if it can be done cruelty-free, i'm all for it.
there are barbecue philosophies all over and beyond america and they all have their rabid supporters and critics. i'm no bbq expert, but i do know about this one particularly awesome style of sandwich.

to create my vegan memphis-style bbq sandwich, i started with some morningstar farms veggie steak strips and sauteed them with some yummy barbecue sauce. i then piled some strips onto a hamburger bun and topped it with some celery remoulade i made earlier this week. lolo posted an adapted julia childs recipe for this celeriac slaw and i'm kind of embarrassingly addicted to it. it's crisp and tangy and creamy and...just super ogod, especially when it's made with horseradish dijon. and because it's french, now you get the payoff of my post title: faux + pork + vaguely french spelling.
even now, remembering how the spicy, gluteny goodness married with the tangy, creamy remoulade is making my mouth water. i served it with thick-cut potato chips, which provided a little crunch and the perfect amount of saltiness.
i'm going to have to make this again with homemade seitan. it might just become my mission to perfect the the memphis-style forque sandwich. when i have, my dream will be to open a vegan smokehouse over the summer, when i'm free from teaching, so i can share its deliciousness...i mean, be able to eat one whenever i want.

oh, i also learned that just putting a little effort into a relatively easy meal pays off exponentially. it took about 10 minutes to get my lunch ready, but it was easily worth an hour's work.

warm weather food for cold weather nights.

i do really try to center my meals around foods that are in season, agriculturally or traditionally. i think it forces variation into my diet and also is just complementary. when i lived in florida, i lamented the lack of seasonal change, and now that i'm back in the northeast, i'm always excited when one season gives way to the next. eating in accordance with natural cycles only adds to my appreciation of them.

BUT...there's no denying that there are prototypical meals that exemplify the seasons. it finally got COLD here this week and i found myself wanting to escape the winter come dinnertime, so i worked up a summery plate. in my eyes, barbecue goes hand in hand with rising mercury. luckily, it's easy enough to prepare indoors any time of year and there are any number of foods that lend themselves well to a healthy dousing of sauce.
asparagus and basil, like most produce, are available not only "in season" but year-round, which i guess warrants some kind of dubious gratitude. i mean, i'm glad to have them whenever i want, but they're also indicative of the disruption of farming by consumer demand. (get these politics off my plate!) ah, well, i balanced all this with the ever-loving potato, a cold-weather crop and also only the greatest thing nature has ever invented.

a meal for the dog days of december: BBQ tofu (lightly breaded, sauteed & brushed with BBQ sauce), asparagus (lightly doused with olive oil, tossed with salt, and broiled) and pesto mashed potatoes (garlic steeped in some melted EB, then tossed with basil chiffonades and mixed with soymilk & potatoes).

meal of the lazy.

this is what happens when:
1. i feel like i need to have a burger and fries for dinner,
2. i have to do laundry on a weeknight, and
3. i'm exhausted from a full day of teaching.

i can't remember the last time i had a boca burger, but it seemed like the right thing to have for dinner on monday. and i'd been craving french fries for a few days and didn't feel like fighting the urge any longer. in between trips to the laundrette, i managed to pick up everything i needed to assemble this terribly low-effort meal:

i'm lucky to have a small health foods store just around the corner, even if it is a little pricy. (is a 4-pack of boca burgers usually $5? i feel like that's a lot!)
right across the street, there's a cramped little bodega where i grabbed a hoagie roll, at once eliminating the need to trek further in the cold to find hamburger buns and leaving me with enough roll left over to recreate a beanball sub.
next door to the bodega is a chinese restaurant which, like many in NYC, serves hybrid chino-latino food and crappy american staples like french fries and fried chicken.
it was cold and rainy and i was grateful to be able to get everything i needed with minimal outside time. it meant that i wasn't too bummed out when my burger-fries combo disappointed. i must have romanticized the boca because it was pretty lackluster. i suppose the makeshift roll didn't help, but it just seemed too mushy and blah and packaged-tasting. the french fries should have redeemed the meal, but they were slightly undercooked and tasted like they were fried in oil that should long ago have been given over to a higher cause, like motoring a converted biodiesel bus on its way to burning man.

i've really been avoiding packaged foods and not eating out very much and although this meal isn't necessarily typical of either phenomenon, it did kind of validate my slow conversion.


veganmofo #18: cassoulet

monday was cold and rainy...and laundry night. UGH. i've been meaning to make the leek and bean cassoulet from veganomicon for a while now, but finally decided i could wait no more. i need something hot, hearty, and spirit-restoring. it was just the thing!

the stew is seasoned perfectly and even if, like me, you don't cook the carrots quite enough because you are getting goddamned impatient and they come out a little firm to the tooth, on its own it would be enough to counteract the stresses of a dreary workday. BUT they're not alone and it's the biscuits that really take center stage in this dish. they're simple to prepare, cook right on top of the stew in 15 minutes or so, and rocket this meal to the outer stratospheres of delectableness. i only found out after the fact, from esme, that the correct way to make this cassoulet is with a double batch of biscuits so you can have a dough-filled maw the whole way through. mmm. whether you stick to the recipe religiously or go for the full-on-biscuit-fest, this is a dish that will get you through many an unforgiving blizzardy night. bring it, old man winter!


veganmofo #17: piccata, you say? piccata, i say.

whenever i have seitan piccata at candle 79, it haunts me. every meal i have, for weeks afterward, is unfairly judged against that dish. salty, lemony, and accompanied by potatoes - i don't think a dish could speak more to my soul. for dinner tonight, i attempted a recreation at home.

i've a feeling seitan will be a lifelong project for me. as much as i love it, i don't make it very often and each time i do, i fiddle with my recipe and/or method a little bit. there's always something i think could be improved, be it in the realm of taste or texture. it's like there's this mythical seitanic ideal that i'm trying to make materialize in my kitchen. whether or not that ever happens, seitan remains one of my favorite protein bases because it's hearty, versatile, and can wear coats of many colors.

tonight, i baked katie's chicken seitan recipe, from the latest issue of don't eat off the sidewalk. when it comes to cooking seitan, i consider myself a boiler at heart. but i figured - new recipe, try a new cooking method. the taste of the seitan was right on but the texture was a little dense for a piccata. if i were looking for a sliceable, more solid gluten, i'd stick with baking. i have an ancient chambers range that has two temperatures - off and hellfire - and despite my careful wrapping and twisting of aluminum foil, my loaf split open a little and got a little overcooked.

no matter, though, because i found a recipe for candle's seitan piccata online (thanks, esme, for confirming it!) and i think it has the power to cover up the messiest of seitan mishaps. it's a quick-cooking meal, once the seitan is cooked and cooled, and i got four servings out of it. that should be enough to hold me over until i make my next foray into homemade piccata or convince a friend to meet me at candle for an expensive-but-worth-it dinner.

served it with mashed potatoes, natch, because they ratchet everything up, and some green beans for color and crunch. yump!


veganmofo #16: 3,000 4,000 words.

on fatfreevegan's double-layer pumpkin cheesecake.
raw, cooked, and plated. (and, by request, a money shot in hand!)

veganmofo #15: bestnuts.

my formative years were spent in south florida, so i feel like i got pretty screwed when it comes to awesome wintry traditions. i mean, it's green year-round there and "winter" consists of a two-week cold snap, when temperatures drop below 60, spurring the locals to bust out their down coats and crank up their thermostats. no matter that my dad was a born northerner. by the time i was an adolescent, he had long since decided that he wanted to live somewhere where he could walk outside at any time of year without thinking about grabbing a jacket. not a COAT, mind you...a JACKET. my mom wasn't down with the cold anymore, either, likely due to her dreary north of england childhood.

apparently it snowed once in (ancient) recent history, sometime in the '70s. mr. herndon, my 5th-grade teacher, told our class about the blizzard and how the snow settled on one of his students' afros and stuck there longer than it did on the ground.
it's practically a guarantee that christmas day is going to be sunny and warm every year.

so now that i'm an adult and living in the northeast, i find myself trying to make up for lost time by doing and eating all the cold-weathery stuff my family never did. tonight i roasted chestnuts. they're easy enough to prepare, but shelling can be kind of a hassle. i don't know, maybe i should have let them roast a little longer? does that make it easier to pry the meat loose?

they were pretty tasty on their own, kind of rutabaga-y in flavor. they definitely had a baked potato thing going on, so i opted to toss them in melted EB and a little salt. they were pretty good that way, but i think i preferred them plainly roasted.


veganmofo #14: willsgiving.

the seitan roulade i made turned out like crap, i think because i hate the vegetable base i used to make a broth for baking it in. i should have trusted my instinct and used the homemade stock i have in the freezer!

i also made stuffing which, although a bit dry, tasted mostly awesome. too bad it was rolled up in that yucky roulade.

all the other dishes were super good, though, and i ate only one reasonable plateful, just enough to fill me up but not make me feel like i was going to burst.

statement of control! statement of control!

i could not, however, control myself from oohing and aahing over the cutest baby this side of the mason-dixon line. it was all i could do to pry myself away from him when it came time to leave. to make up for my disappointing account of an even-more-disappointing roulade, here's sheila, confirming that her son is indeed good enough to eat. and, for good measure, the little man's take on the traditional post-thanksgiving-dinner ritual.

veganmofo #13: cransome.

a few years ago, i got a bug for making cranberry sauce for our thanksgiving dinner. i don't have anything against the canned jellied stuff, but it just seemed so easy and i thought fresh cranberry sauce would be so good - it seemed like a waste to put so much effort into a grand meal and then serve that tart cylinder of gunk to go along with it.

i admit that part of the appeal surely was the promise of cooking with grand marnier, because really, i can't imagine i've ever heard a better idea.

it's become my one stand-by on thanksgiving. i usually end up eating with friends, potluck style, so i switch everything else up, but cranberry sauce is a given. i've come to realize that not everyone likes homemade sauce better than canned, but even if i were the only one that ate my crancoction, i'd still make it. i like it that much.

i also add other stuff to my sauce, a supremed, zested orange and lemon and usually a granny smith apple. sometimes pear. a cinnamon stick steeped in the sauce while the cranberries cook, but only for about 30 seconds because, well, i've already covered my cinnamon issues. and, of course, the grand marnier. again, this doesn't suit everyone's fancy. some people prefer a simpler version and i alter its busy-ness with my whims.

i'm having thanksgiving dinner with a cute baby and some adults and i'm bringing my sauce, a seitan/stuffing roulade, some gravy, and maybe some roasted chestnuts. after my crummy work week, though, i needed a lie-down after work today and didn't get around to starting to prep or cook anything until late tonight. making the sauce ahead of time is a must, as it has to rest for a while before serving.

here are the cranberries, simmering away. kind of looks like chili, but whatever.

i'm anxious about making the stuffing and roulade tomorrow morning. stupid biting off more than i can chew!


veganmofo#12: sofa, so good.

after a grueling day of parent-teacher conferences, it took all the energy i could muster upon arriving home to take a hot bath and park myself on the couch for a solid night of work avoidance. so glad i had the prescience to bring food and drink with me. my sofaside dinner:

woodchuck granny smith cider - i've (mostly) quit drinking, so i need to get these out of the fridge anyway. plus, my back hurts. so it's like a karate chop one-two.

sabra hummus with roasted pine nuts - my favorite prepared hummus. it's so creamy and delicious; the only way i can see it being improved upon would be if the manufacturers would throw in JUST A FEW MORE pignoli.

trader joe's soy pita - got these for the first time when i ventured out to TJ's on my great candy cane joe-joe hunt. they're chewier than traditional pitas and provide 11g of protein per serving. or 22g, if you are a normal person and realize that one full pita is one serving.

i should tag this post "totally pathetic," but i poured my heart out yesterday! and also, i'm flippin' exhausted, i have to put together a test for my squirrelly algebra students, and i'd rather be singing along to "i don't like mondays," so this is the best i can do for now.


veganmofo#11: happy memories warm the heart

i grew up with an american father in the military and a confused irish emigré mother (she considers herself british...don't ask.) my dad came from a real meat-and-potatoes philadelphia family and my mother grew up eating shepherd's pie, bangers and mash and mushy peas, and whatever the hell else was served in the family homes of mid-20th century leeds. i guess they had kind of similar food experiences and, as a result, so did my brother and i. my favorite dinners were always a little against the grain although they weren't particularly exotic, even by the standards of the 1970s. my mom made a kickass taco casserole and i know my birthday meal was chicken cacciatore for a couple of years running, when i was in elementary school.

the all-time title holder in the competitive dinner table world, however, was none other than spaghetti. those seductive tendrils of carbohydrate splendor wrapped themselves around my little culinary heart, never to be rent away. the meal always played out in pretty much the same way. i'd get a small plate of noodles served with just butter, salt, and dusting of parmesan cheese. (truth be told, that was always my favorite way to eat it - no muss, no fuss, pure pasta perfection.) then i'd have another serving with my mom's meat sauce, which i rarely finished. i developed eyes that were bigger than my stomach pretty early on, i guess.

i guess my mom had kind of a cyclic menu planning thing going, because we used to have a particular meal on the same night every week. i remember my dad saying how one of his pilot buddies used to come over and say, "oh, you're having spaghetti? it must be monday!" i think my mom got kind of offended by that, which i can understand, because what the fuck with criticizing your friend's wife's cooking habits? but that whole time seems like it was kind of a boy's world and, well, we were living on a military base and all. you get the picture.

i don't know if my dad minded that we had the same thing on the same night every week, but i tend to think he didn't because he was a total creature of habit and also not just a little bit obsessive. he died seven years ago last month and not long after he did, i found an index card with a printed table and some handwritten notes on it in a box of tea bags in my parents' cupboard. he was experimenting with tea-sugar-lemon ratios to find the perfect balance for iced tea. i had to laugh because it was quintesssentially him, always wanting everything just so, all scientifical and whatnot.

my father and i both made a lot of mistakes in our relationship, both said and did awful, hurtful things to each other - some intentional, some not. but we finally got our shit straightened out, separately, and for the last 5 years of his life, we were able to relate like a father and daughter should. even better still, we cultivated an incredible friendship together.

my mom always says we had such a hard time with each other because we were so much alike. i used to really resent that idea, but now it fills me with this crazy pride, so strong and beyond measure.

anyway, it's monday, and even though i had whole wheat farfalle instead of spaghetti for dinner, the combination of the food and the plate i ate from brought all these thoughts of my dad rushing back to me. i still miss him so hard.


veganmofo #10: minty. fresh!

we've had a couple of warmier days here in NYC this week, but it seems like tonight might have been the night when winter staked its claim. i didn't even wear a jacket to school this morning, but by the time i got home and walked the dogs around 5:00, i was super chilly in jeans, a sweater, and a hoodie.

it was also kind of rainy and i realized on my walk home that someone else was going to be doing the cooking tonight. anyone but me. well, that anyone turned out to be the good souls at number one chinese kitchen, the only chinese restaurant within spitting distance that's not bulletproof. but that is neither here nor there.

when i was shopping for last night's dinner, i stumbled upon some awesome treats at ye olde HFS. i found myself unable to resist the lure of minty newman-Os and almost peed my pants when i realized they had chocolate peppermint vitasoy, which i had only heard tale of but never seen in the wild. although dinner had been out of my reach tonight, i felt fully confident that dessert was something i could handle.

behold, my wintry post-meal treat.

it was just what i needed to take the edge off the bitterness outside my windows the heat is hissing, i've got a dog warming my feet...life could be so much worse.

veganmofo #9: ball? no, ball!

i had a massive craving for a hot tomato saucy sandwich last night, which is weird because it's not like i ever used to eat that kind of thing anyway, regardless of my dietary outlook. i am all about giving in to my urges right now, though, probably because i feel some pressure to get a veganmofo post up at least every other day. it's a good feeling of obligation, though, because it's (partially) torn me away from really simple and unbalanced dinners. i haven't made angel hair in weeks!

still, the downside of getting home from work in the late afternoon, only to start thinking about dinner around 6PM or so, is that i have ended up eating well past 8 o'clock most nights these past couple of weeks. i have finally gotten my sleeping schedule regulated, giving up my much-loved long afternoon naps, so i try to be in bed by 11PM. that doesn't give me a whole lot of time between eating and sleeping. in an ideal world, i guess i'd start thinking about dinner before i got home, but i'm too busy worrying whether my students are learning enough, dodging meetings and extracurricular commitments, and generally trying to sort out the tangled web that is my worklife. i hop from milestone to milestone with very little forethought: go home. walk dogs. do NOTHING. consider food.

anyway, when the craving for sloppy balls on a roll came over me last night, i deliberated for a few, considering a quick-fix meal, but ultimately gave in. am i ever glad i did.

the beanballs are from veganomicon and not only are they really tasty, but they come together really quickly, too! i baked them for this sandwich, but next time i'll likely pan-fry. my oven is a wonky old beast and heats really unevenly, so baking is always a risk. they turned out good, but i lost a few to overheating. (when i say lost, i mean i had to dip them in sauce and eat them bread- and cheeze-less.) too bad, because the huge benefit of baking them is that i don't have to hover over a skillet and can get some work/nothing done from my couch. after baking, i assembled rolls, extra sauce, and a couple slices of tofutti mozzarella on some italian bread and chucked it in the convection oven for final toasting and melting madness.

i confess...i didn't actually end up eating the hoagie for dinner last night. i cut an inch-thick slice off of it and had that, but then bagged the rest to take for lunch today. so good!

why, you might ask, did i delay enjoying the loaf of my labors? all the while i was mixing, rolling, and preparing the beanballs, i was snacking on a bag of boulder canyon malt vinegar & sea salt potato chips. i've not been able to find salt & vinegar chips near my apartment in washington heights, but stumbled upon these at carrot last night, while out in search of vegan mozzarella. they're kind of a little too apple cider vinegary for my taste, but they were good enough to eat an entire bag of for dinner, so i'm not even sure it's worth mentioning.

(note: that bottle of brooklyn local one was not part of dinner. it's awaiting shipment to mike in california and by including this picture, i'm guaranteeing myself an earful tomorrow when he reads this. what? i'm a gift delayer! there are worse things i could do!)


veganmofo #8: the sincerest form of flattery

imitation, right? i had a lovely meal at candle 79 on saturday night, made even lovelier by the company, and was surprisingly bowled over by the wild mushroom trio appetizer. i'm a latecomer to mushroom appreciation, but the prospect of cornmeal crusted oyster mushrooms with a horseradish cream (holy fuck) had me drooling. i loved that third of the trio, but i was really smitten with a little pile of warm scallion-curry-mushroom business. i don't think anyone else liked it as much as i did, probably because mushrooms are so old hat to them that any mushroom dish has got to be stellar to impress. what i'm really saying, in this veiled language of judginess, is that i have a fresh outlook on fungi that my friends lack. there, i said it. it's been lying just under the surface for so long, it was only a matter of time before i had to drop that bomb. deal with it.
::makes 'talk to the hand' gesture*::

*also known as 'giving the hand', but that might be a regional colloquialism.

so tonight, i decided to attempt a recreation of the holiest of the trinity by sauteeing some shiitakes and a portabella with scallions and some curry. on the cooking scale of difficulty, it falls just above ants on a log (because it involves heat and has one more ingredient). it came out pretty good, though not as sublime as candle's. it's pictured here on my math text bookshelf. also note my perpetual calendar.

glad i decided to cook this tonight because i made shells & cheeze and i think my nooch is off because they came out kind of like crap. so i had this nice, light dish for dinner and tomorrow i'll go back to caesar salad and pumpkin ziti for all my meals.

the downside is that now all i smell is curry. did i mention that curry powder used to be in my culinary crosshairs? yeah, we've made peace.

veganmofo #7: redemption

okay, so maaaaybe i shouldn't have said those awful things about pumpkin before trying this pumpkin ziti from veganomicon.

the pasta is mixed with a cashew ricotta-pumpkin mixture that is super savory and caramelized onions. it's divine. for real. then it's topped with lots of crunchy, nutty bread crumbs. it really is the perfect cold weather casserole. i have to give it up to terry, once again, for concocting this dish, because it made my mouth and belly so freaking happy.

in retrospect, i realize my comments about pumpkin may have been made in haste. it hit me while i was caramelizing slices of a big ol' onion.

when i was a kid, the prospect of eating even the tiniest sliver of onion was enough to turn me off a meal, no matter how hungry i was.

it took some time, but i guess when i started branching out and becoming an adventurous eater, i grew to love onions - more cooked than raw, but i can take them any way now.

i ESPECIALLY love a thick slice of vidalia onion caramelized in a grill pan, served alongside bbq tofu, mashed potatoes, and some garlicky, lemony dark greens. that strikes me a warm-weather meal, but it's one of my favorites so i'll eat it no matter what the weather.

but that's neither here nor there. my point is that i judged harshly yesterday, said some rash things that i'm now regretting, and i realize that i should have known better. have i learned NOTHING since i came to forgive my mom for making macaroni and cheese and putting onions in it, which made my 10-year-old self so sick i puked into the kitchen sink, all over the clean dishes? (i mean, have i learned anything deeper than to aim for the dirty side, of course.) i was wrong about onions, so it's possible i short-changed pumpkin. i can admit my mistake. and i don't mind eating crow, if "crow" means oatmeal raisin cookies from terry and isa's cookie test kitchen (WITH CINNAMON!), because it turns out crow is actually pretty goddamned delicious and perfectly spiced.


veganmofo#6: a seasonal "dear john"

i had this whole diatribe prepared regarding a quandary i face every year when autumn and winter roll around, but i think it best to cut to the chase. take some time to process this and examine whether or not we can move forward from here. if not, i understand. just know that while i didn't choose this life, i won't accept any pity.
dear cinnamon, sweet potato, and pumpkin,
i think you're all overrated and it annoys me that you insist on forcing your way into otherwise perfectly awesome cold weather dishes.
i hope you won't take this the wrong way*, but you can all suck it.

*the only "wrong way" is the one where you don't all go suck it!


veganmofo #5: it's no dr. pepper.

my mother visited me for a week last month and when we were out shopping for dinner one day, we came across this fentiman's dandelion/burdock soda. she was so excited about it, having not had it since she was a little girl growing up in leeds. we picked one up, but she left a couple of days later without drinking it. (it was passed over repeatedly, in favor of more adult beverages.)

after a long and draining week of work, i found myself needing a DRINK on friday night. having recently given up
booze, embarking on the path of no fun, i thought i'd give this wacky british drink a go.

if you've never had a dandelion/
burdock soda, i think i can sum its flavor up for you:

botanical. vomit.

i tried, mom. i really did.

veganmofo #4: pancakes and self-destruction

for no reason in particular, i went a long time without making pancakes. i've examined the situation and, really, i can only up with one lame explanation: i'm self-destructive.

i can recall plenty of instances when i did/ate something that i knew would come back to haunt me. on the odd occasion i'd catch myself doing something fulfilling and supportive to my body/mind, i'd ask "why don't i [whatever it is] more often?" it's like i don't think i'm worthy of being happy or satisfied or something and if i ever managed to spur myself to seek out professional help, i'm sure i could blow my yet-to-be-conceived children's college funds in therapy trying to figure out why.

last weekend, i took on the task of making brunch for my friend sheila and her husband, dave, because i pretty much have to bribe them to let me hang out with their deliciously handsome little man, william.

anyway, cooking brunch is a small price to pay to hang out with this awesome kid, so i planned to whip up a simple tofu scramble, fry up some tempeh bacon, and make a batch of pancakes. i really wasn't satisfied with the pancakes. i was surprised by the realization that making pancakes is not, as legend goes, like riding a bicycle. i guess i...forgot how to do it? i don't know, i used their nonstick skillet, which i'm not used to, so that could have been part of the problem. it might have been an issue of insufficient heat, too. i was just kind of bummed out because i hear that pancakes can be anxiety-inducing for some people but i consider them pretty simple fare and if i don't screw up making seitan or cupcakes, how in the hell can i fuck up pancakes? (to be honest, i would really like to attribute this failure to cooking at a higher altitude than i'm used to, as dave and sheila live on the 8th floor of their building and i'm street-level.)

this weekend i set about trying to figure out what i'd done wrong. the first few pancakes of my batch were utter crap, but i hit my stride at the batter's midpoint. i'm still having some issues with cook temp and, oddly, my cast iron skillet, but i think i'm almost ready to make 'cakes without training wheels*.

progress made, exhibit A:

*i say "almost" because i did get a little overambitious today and made lemony pancakes, which turned out to be not quite the bright light i was hoping for.

i'd better slow my roll.

one foot in front of the other.


veganmofo #3: the intersection of mathematics and dinner

i was wary of doing too much to the romanesco, lest i strip it of its defining beauty, so i went on the hunt for a simple dish that would allow me to use florets. i found a mario batali recipe for orrechiette with broccoli and chickpeas, which i modified slightly. behold, shells with romanesco and chickpeas.

(what? you want i should say i made a cheap version of mario's dish? first, do you know how it feels to be low-budgeting a guy that wears orange crocs? on the other hand, if you knew orrechiette is $4 at my deli, would you judge me harshly for passing on it? and C, let's face it, i wasn't about to walk an extra half-block without a guarantee that i would find what i was after!)

i balanced my plate with more leftovers from last night, the awe-inspiring caesar salad with roasted garlic croutons from veganomicon. normally, i wouldn't even consider eating leftover salad that had already been dressed, but this batch held up okay overnight. the croutons lost their crunch, but i used a nice, chewy bread to make them, so they still held their own. i've pretty much been eating this salad twice a day for the last couple of weeks. my waistline owes terry a huge debt of gratitude. for reals, i love that woman.

veganmofo #2: farmer's market bounty

the inwood farmer's market is smallish, but it's close enough to school that i can stop by before or after saturday academy.
today i found the holy grail of cruciferous vegetables: romanesco broccoli.

i'll have it for dinner, though i'm not quite sure how i'll prepare it. i also grabbed some late corn, a bunch of collards, purple & red potatoes, one bigass beet, a rutabaga, and some white turnips.
root vegetables got me going crazy.

veganmofo #1: cold udon noodles with peanut sauce and seitan

my girl isa knows from food and her cold peanut noodles have a pavlovian effect on anyone who's ever tasted them. i made a batch last night to share with some friends at an office-watching party and if it weren't for competition from terry's infuckingcredible caesar salad and mrsbadmouth's tempeh wingz, courtesy of ijdi and served with vegan blue cheese dressing (!), i'm sure the "noonoos" would have been the runaway favorite. as it was, i think there was a three-way tie for best foodstuff. nevermind that there were only three foodstuffs on offer because two-thirds of the guests attending were empty-handed freeloaders.

best of all, there were leftovers for lunch today. thanks, eppy!

that said, this week's episode of the office was the star of the evening.
it's true, the eyes ARE the groin of the head.