Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some Food Pictures from a Happy Thanksgiving!

Roasted Chrysanthemum Onions

Gluten-Free Wild Rice Mushroom Stuffing

Vegan "Buttermilk" Biscuits

Roasted Tomatoes

Tofurky with all the trimmings

Gluten-Free Smokey Baked Marinated Tofu
Sherry-Roasted Yams

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Vegan Style!

In case you are in need of some Thanksgiving Day inspiration, I thought I'd share my menu and a few suggestions with you. As usual, I am going the "traditional" route and cooking a Tofurky roast. I like to cook mine in a covered casserole dish surrounded by veggies (usually potatoes, carrots, and onions), and I usually go with the recommended baste of orange juice, soy sauce, and broth or olive oil mixed together, although I also jazz it up a bit and brush the Tofurky with some kind of glaze as well, like fig paste or apricot preserves or something like that.

In addition to the Tofurky, I will of course make mashed potatoes, and also vegan stuffing, (using almond milk and Earth Balance in the potatoes and vegetable broth in the stuffing.) I also like to saute the celery, onion, and parsley, and other herbs in an olive oil white wine combo before baking the stuffing--it adds a lot of flavor.

This year I think I will make yams using the recipe for "Sherry-Roasted Root Vegetables" from Cooking Light. (Basically, all you need to do is preheat your oven to 425, coat your  yam pieces with sherry, olive oil, salt and pepper, add some thyme and some rosemary, and bake for an hour and fifteen minutes, turning when needed.)

I am also cooking my favorite Roasted Chrysanthemum Onions, and Slow Baked Tomatoes.  In addition, I am going to tackle for the first time a dish my mother-in-law makes which I absolutely adore, fresh spinach sauteed in olive oil with golden raisins and pine nuts.  

Another dish that will go well with everything else and will also add some more "green" is asparagus cooked in a way I never get tired of from a recipe out of The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. It is so easy and can be done as one of the final dishes while you are waiting for everything to finish up in the oven. Thinner asparagus works better.

Sauteed Asparagus:
  • Cut the asparagus  into 2 or 3 inch pieces.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and saute 3 cloves of minced garlic for about half a minute.
  • Add asparagus and saute for a few more minutes, depending on the size of your asparagus, but anywhere from 3 to 6 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from heat and toss the asparagus in a bowl with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
And finally, I am going to make my perfect "buttermilk" biscuits, a modified version of  the  "Easy biscuits" from Sarah Kramer's cookbooks.  

Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits:
  • Preheat oven to 450. In large bowl sift together 2 cups flour, 3 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt.
  • Cut in 1/4 cup vegan margarine.
  • Stir 1 1/2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into 1 cup of almond milk. Add the "buttermilk"  to the dry ingredients and mix.
  • Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and use a round cookie cutter to cut out biscuits. I usually stack two circles on top of each other so that they will break apart easily after they have baked.
  • Bake for 12-18 minutes or until slightly golden on top.
 And, for your gluten-free guests, might I recommend for dessert, FatFree Vegan Kitchen's "Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie?" This is really quite tasty, (although I would cut the cloves in half--I made it last year and thought the clove flavor over-powered the pumpkin a bit. But other than that, it's a yummy dessert. ) And if you are still needing inspiration, don't forget to check out the Thanksgiving section of VegWeb's recipes--there are a ton of ideas to choose from. I hope you and yours have a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with delicious food and great conversation!

Thanks to the Norwood Cole Library at Skagit Valley College, and the Cardinal Cafe!

Just a post to say thanks to all of my wonderful friends at the Norwood Cole Library at Skagit Valley College, the good people at SVC's Cardinal Cafe who created this wonderful vegan dish for me, and the lovely Sheryl who had the brilliant idea of getting us all together to make our fabulous lunch possible.

The dish pictured  above consisted of chickpeas, green beans, artichoke hearts, onions, tomatoes, and hazelnuts, seasoned well with fresh herbs and  finished with a citrus vinaigrette. It was fantastic! (As was my dessert of poached pears in pear brandy. )  It was awesome catching up with everyone last week and it made me realize that I will always miss you all, no matter how much time passes. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had  to spend time with dear friends while eating great food! Thank you all!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sad News for Bellingham as we say goodbye to Pastazza

In case you have not yet heard, Pastazza, home of my Favorite Sandwich Ever, will soon be closing its doors as owners Lynn and Fred Berman retire at the end of this month. Which means, if you have not yet tried the vegan smoked apple sage sausage sandwich, you had better do so soon. November 27th is the last day for Pastazza, so get down there fast! Just be prepared to miss them like crazy and try not to cry at the thought of never having the chance to enjoy such a perfect sandwich ever again. . .

You will be missed Pastazza!!!

India Grill: 1215 Cornwall Ave

Every now and then I get a craving for Indian food, and ever since we enjoyed that amazing meal at the Tandoori Grill in Whistler, both my husband and I have wanted to check out our local Bellingham Indian food options. A couple of weeks ago after work on a Friday, we stopped by India Grill for an early dinner, and  while at first  I wasn't sure what I was going to order, I was sure that I  had a yearning for something with spinach and cauliflower.

We knew upon entering the restaurant some time between 5:00 and 5:30 that we were definitely beating the Bellingham dinner crowd, but there were a couple of people at two different tables who were already seated, which made us feel a bit better since at least we weren't the first ones to arrive. I did get the sense, however, that the kitchen was prepping for the dinner service to come, and since the restaurant  itself was quiet, the sounds of pots and pans clanging from the kitchen were noticeable in the distance as a very nice man with a dishtowel wrapped around his waist emerged from the back of the restaurant to greet us and bring us water and menus.

The interior of the restaurant was cozy with dim lighting and a pretty tapestry hanging on the ceiling. The booths were more appealing to me than the tables, so I was glad that was where we were able to sit. I often find that there is something more intimate and cozy about a booth against the wall when compared to a table in the middle of the room. I also found myself really wishing there was music playing softly in the background, because I think it would have helped create a more special and yet also comfortable feeling. As the evening grew darker, the gentleman who was helping us came to our table and lit the candle that was on it, which was also quite nice. I like to eat by candlelight and having the warm light on a dark evening was cheering.

 I did have the feeling that the gentleman who was helping us and acting as waitstaff may have been performing duties in addition to his usual job, maybe filling in before the regular dinner staff arrived. I have to admit I didn't follow my usual dining protocol and I neglected to email or call in advance to inquire about vegan options. As a result, I had a few questions to ask in person, which was a little confusing in the beginning, but after he understood what I meant by "vegan," he very kindly pointed out several options on the vegetarian section of the menu that could be made vegan. Luckily for me, the Aloo Gobhi was one of them (cauliflower and potatoes) and the Channa Saag (spinach with chickpeas), which contained the veggies I wanted.

When our food arrived we were first greeted by the wonderful aroma of the spices and seasonings that were cooked into the food, acting as a preview of the flavors to come. I was very pleased with both of our menu choices, and my husband and I agreed that the degree of spiciness and heat was just right. As I have come to realize, the pretty little copper pots housing the food are deceptive in size, able to hold much more food than you think at first glance. We enjoyed our meal very much and we ended up having leftovers to take home--which were fantastic by the way--as is often the case with well-seasoned food, the flavors were even more enhanced the next day after marinating overnight in the fridge.

As we were finishing up our meal and preparing to leave, more staff began to arrive and the music came on at last. Another gentleman who I think my have been the owner or manager came over to our table with our receipt and  to ask if everything was all right and to thank us for dining with them. We grabbed a takeout menu on our way out, pleased that we now had another place to add to our list of vegan-friendly restaurants in Bellingham.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thanksgiving, compassion, and a unique matching opportunity

It's that time of year again, time to think about what you are thankful for and time to appreciate all of  the life that surrounds you and all of the good things that you get to experience every day. I am thankful for Farm Sanctuary and the incredibly valuable work that they do, and I am thankful for the opportunity I have to celebrate the anniversary of my decision to  stop eating meat on Thanksgiving 21 years ago by adopting a turkey today.

Right now and until November 25th, Farm Sanctuary is offering a special matching opportunity as part of their adopt-a-turkey program, which means for every turkey you adopt before November 25, another one will also be adopted. Since 1986, Farm Sanctuary has rescued over 1000 turkeys, and this year we have the unique opportunity to sponsor twice as many turkeys as ever before.

Check out their website for more information, where you  can also read  "10 Fascinating Facts about Turkeys" and learn about how turkeys communicate and recognize each other by their voices. As I said last year, holidays are a great time to start and strengthen traditions of compassion, so please consider celebrating what you are thankful for this year by sponsoring a rescued turkey from Farm Sanctuary.