Kale with Berbere Seasoning

Kale and Berbere
I think I have mentioned this before but I LOVE Ethiopian food and especially anything with a berbere spice blend. Berbere isn’t always easy to find in a general grocery store. I ordered mine online. However, Fat Free Vegan has a great recipe for Ethiopian Lentil Stew and the recipe includes the berbere spice mix recipe.

One of the best things about berbere is that the blend is rich enough that I can fix a quick dinner without needing any additional seasoning. As much as I love to chop veggies and experiment with different spices, some days I just want to come home and put something together without much thought or effort. Berbere makes putting together something quick and flavorful very easy.

Ingredients (makes 2 servings):
½ package extra firm or super firm tofu drained
¼ cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons berbere
1 bunch kale torn into bite sized pieces
Handful of grape tomatoes

Steps:
1. Cut tofu into bite size cubes and lightly brown on all sides
2. Add the vegetable broth and berbere
3. Add the kale and stir the mixture to coat the kale and tofu with the berbere
4. Cover and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the kale is bright green and still firm
5. Toss with grape tomatoes

Amaranth Patties

Grilled Amaranth Patties

One of the best things I did for myself this year was to start taking my running a bit more seriously. I have been running 5k’s for a while now but if I am going to be honest with myself I have to admit that I didn’t push as hard as I could have. This summer that all changed and it has been amazing. I can’t believe how healthy I feel and how much stronger I am than I ever, ever dreamed I could be. I just signed up for my first ½ marathon. It is in about 5 weeks and I have been training like a crazy person.

However, after reading Finding Ultra I realized that I’m not paying enough attention to the food I am putting into my body. Sure I’m vegan but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m eating what I should or enough of what I should to fuel my body.

After reviewing my diet for a few days I found that I eat little to no whole grains on a daily basis. So now I’m working on how to add grains to my diet. One of the best recipes I came up with is the following for amaranth patties. I just love these. I made enough to take them to the office for my lunches this week.

Grilled Amaranth Patties
1 cup cooked amaranth (click here for information on how to cook amaranth)
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons crushed red peppers
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup vegan bread crumbs
1/4 cup wheat gluten
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth

1. Knead together all ingredients until the consistency is firm enough to form into patties (may need to add more water if mixture is too dry)
2. Form into 4 patties and grill until firm and well browned on both sides

Vegan Brie and Raw Seed Crackers

Brie

Happy MOFO day One! Ok yes, I’m a day late. But that doesn’t mean I’m any less excited. This is my 3rd year participating in MOFO. My plan for this year is to post my own recipes on most days with one day a week devoted to trying a recipe posted by another MOFO blogger and one day a week I’ll do a vegan cookbook review.

To all of you participating in MOFO I can’t wait to visit your blogs and try your wonderful vegan food ideas. Enjoy.

Vegan Brie and Raw Seed Crackers

It is still a couple of months until the holiday parties and seasonal meal planning starts. When I go to parties or have friends over I like to fix something that people often claim is the one thing they could not give up. Usually that means a nice cheese. However, I often struggle with making vegan cheeses. For most cheeses it takes a few days before they are ready and nothing is more frustrating than after days of carefully following instructions to end up on the day of the party with a block of something that only slightly resembles cheese. My sister-in-law still laughs at my first attempt at vegan almond nut cheese. However, I am not easily dissuaded and I continue to look for the perfect vegan cheese.

But this year I may have found my go to vegan Brie recipe. I ordered a copy of the cookbook “The Non-Dairy Formulary Vegan Cuisine for the Ethical Gourmet” by Skye Michael Conroy. I ordered it specifically to try the vegan Brie. I’m so glad I did! I can’t reprint the recipe here due to copyright laws (and it is just plain wrong to give away what someone else worked so hard to create) but I can tell you that the texture is creamy and just firm enough to make it great for either slicing or spreading on crackers. While it has been years since I’ve eaten any dairy brie, if my memory is correct then this is about as close to the authentic taste as anything I have had.

Vegan Brie

While my brie was firming up I decided I would make a batch of raw seed crackers. The version I made to go with my brie isn’t as spicy as I usually make them because I wanted to be sure the crackers didn’t overwhelm the flavor of the brie.

Flax Seed Crackers

So now I think I’ll make myself some wonderful cheese and crackers, pour a glass of wine and go browse MOFO blogs. So to everyone, again happy MOFO!

Raw Seed Crackers
½ cup flax seed meal
¼ cup golden flax seeds
¼ cup hemp seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¾ cup water

1. Mix all ingredients except for the water.
2. Once well mixed slowly pour in the water while stirring. The mixture should quickly become gelatinous but should not be runny.
3. Spread the mixture evenly on a dehydrator tray keeping the mixture at about ¼ inch thick
4. Set dehydrator to 110 and let the crackers dehydrate for 8 hours
5. Gently flip the tray over onto another dehydrator tray. The bottom of the crackers should still be very soft.
6. Score the crackers to desired size
7. Place the crackers back in the dehydrator and set the dehydrator to 110.
8. Dehydrate for another 8-10 hours or until the crackers are dry on both sides.

Vegan Bolognese with Whole Wheat Pasta

PastaVida Vegan Bloggers Conference is over but just attending and mingling with these amazing vegans inspired me to start writing again. I didn’t get to meet all of the bloggers I wanted to. But I was able to meet the author of The Gay Vegans (one of my favorite blogs). However, I wasn’t able to find the author of Know Thank You, which has been the most inspiring and thought provoking blog I have run across.

So in honor of the wonderful experience that was Vida Vegan Con and as a first step back to blogging regularly, I made one of my favorite veganized recipes: Vegan Bolognese with whole wheat pasta.

For this recipe I made my own whole wheat pasta. The recipe is one I have used for a long, long time so if this somehow is identical to anyone else’s recipe please let me know and I will add the link to this post. I try very hard not to take credit for the work of another. At what point does a basic recipe become public domain?

Vegan Bolognese with Whole Wheat Pasta (4 servings)

Whole Wheat Pasta
¾ cup whole wheat flour (with extra for flowering the rolling pin and cutting board)
¾ cup Semolina flour
2 tsp olive oil
¾ cup water

Steps:
1. Mix all ingredients and knead until very smooth
2. Form into ball and set aside to rest

Vegan Jerky

Bolognese Sauce
1 Tbsp minced garlic
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup diced mushrooms
2 stalks celery thinly sliced
½ cup shredded carrots
¼ cup vegetable broth
1 cup red wine
¼ cup chopped vegan bacon or jerkey
3 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 cube not beef broth
2/3 cup TVP
½ cup milk

1. While the pasta dough is resting combine the garlic, onion, mushrooms, celery, and carrots with the vegetable broth in deep skillet. Cover and simmer until very tender.
2. While the vegetables are simmering roll out the pasta dough and cut into fettuccini sized noodles and hang to dry.
3. When vegetables are tender add remaining ingredients to pan and stir until well mixed
4. Cover and simmer
5. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook for 3-5 minutes until tender
6. Drain pasta, cover with sauce and serve

Final note, I find that ground hemp seeds mixed with equal part of nutritional yeast makes a great substitute for dairy parmesan.

Bolognese

Spinach and Udon Noodle Soup

Spinach Udon Noodle Soup
27 degrees! It is 27 degrees outside right now. Burrrr. We don’t get too many really cold or really hot days in Oregon so I guess I shouldn’t complain. And since this is the last evening before I take down our Christmas tree a little frost outside the windows seems appropriate. Besides, this gives me an excellent excuse to make some nice hot soup.

One little twist; I have decided to try the 21-day kick start program written by Dr Neal Barnard. While I eat a completely plant based diet I must admit that I include too much olive oil, the occasional bag of chips, and my go-to dinner after a long hard day is kale with fried udon noodles.

So the challenge for tonight was to make a tasty, filling soup with no added oils. Usually when I make this soup I start by stir-frying the tofu in oil and lots of garlic. I love crispy tofu. Instead of oil I used a bit of veggie broth. The tofu wasn’t as crispy as I’m use to but it also didn’t absorb a bunch of oil. The important ingredient was the Not Chick’n Boullion Cube. These little cubes are packed with rich flavor.

I’m actually kind of glad it is so cold out. It just made the evening of sipping on soup with my dog Bo next to me as we looked at our Christmas tree for the last night, a bit more cozy.

Ingredients:
1 cup vegetable broth
½ package previously frozen and well pressed extra firm tofu
2 garlic cloves minced
1 cube Not Chick’n Bouillon
3 oz udon noodles
½ cup water
1 cup baby spinach

Steps:
1. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable broth to a hot 2 quart sauce pan
2. Cut the tofu into bit sized cubed and add to the pan
3. Add the garlic and cook, stiring often until tofu is lightly browned
4. While the tofu is cooking bring a pot of water to boil and add the udon noodles, cooking for 4 minutes then drain the water from the noodles
5. Add the remaining broth, the bouillon cube, spinach, and water to the tofu and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the spinach is soft and the bouillon cube dissolved
6. Add the udon noodles to the tofu and serve

Christmas Tree

Roasted Chestnuts and Brussel Sprouts

Chestnuts and Brussel Sprouts

Today I made my annual call to my sister-in-law to ask what she wants me to bring for Christmas dinner. Before going vegan it was really just a formality. I always had my assigned dish specific to the holiday. It never changed from year to year. Now things are a bit more complicated. Thanksgiving I always bring cranberry salad and a pie. The cranberry salad is naturally vegan but this year no one wanted a vegan pumpkin pie. I couldn’t taste a difference but they did. Easter my dish was always scalloped potatoes. Last Easter I made a vegan version that I think everyone liked. For Christmas however, we haven’t found a traditional dish for me to bring. Last year was my first vegan Christmas and none of us could remember what I fixed for Christmas dinner so this year I get to bring something completely different. Just another perk of going vegan among meat eaters. :)

For Christmas dinner I have decided to try and incorporate some traditional holiday foods. I’m making roasted chestnuts with brussel sprouts and for dessert a twist on traditional sugar plums. Hopefully these will be welcomed more than the pie at Thanksgiving but just like the pie, if no one wants any it only means more for me! In my opinion life is good either way.

My recipe for roasted chestnuts and brussel sprouts is based on Martha Stewart’s recipe. However, instead of butter I use Earth Balance and I altered the ingredients for the caramelized syrup.

Chestnuts

Link to Martha Stewart’s Recipe

My version
Ingredients• 1 pound fresh chestnuts
• 1 tablespoon Earth Balance
• 1 pounds brussel sprouts cut in half
• 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1/4 cup hot water
• 1 cube Not-Chick’n bouillon

Steps
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a line across each chestnut and roast for 15 minutes.
2. Melt Earth Balance in a frying pan and add brussel sprouts cooking until almost tender
3. While the brussel sprouts are cooking, peel and chop the chestnuts into large chunks.
4. Add the chestnuts to the brussel sprouts and cook until the brussel sprouts are tender
5. In a small bowl mix the balsamic vinegar, sugar, water, and bouillon cube until the cube has melted.
6. Add mixture to the chestnuts and brussel sprouts.
7. Cook until the liquid has turned to thick syrup and the brussel sprouts are browned.

Tofu Fried Quinoa

Christmas 2012

I have been neglecting this blog. It has been a year of changes and I started feeling overwhelmed so I stopped writing for a bit. My year started with the death of my springer spaniel and a few weeks ago my chow chow died of cancer. In between those two events so many things have changed in my life and I don’t think I was ready for them.

This will be the first Christmas that the family won’t be together. It happens. Kids start growing up, family members die, and life changes. I always spend the holidays at my brother’s house. We have some great family traditions that I look forward to every year. But a few months ago my niece moved to Connecticut, one of my nephews is spending Christmas with his girlfriend’s family, and my younger nephew, while he will be home on Christmas didn’t come home from college to go on the annual Christmas tree hunt. This year it was just my brother, his wife, and me who went to get the trees. It was fun but it also put into focus just how much has changed this past year.

My tree stayed in my garage until Tuesday.

I think the horror in Connecticut made me stop and consider how lucky I really am. Yes life changed a lot for me this year and yes I had some painful loss but I did have 10 amazing years with my dogs and I do have a wonderful family no matter how far apart we live. So I got off the couch last night and decorated my tree and now I’m writing this blog post. Life is too short and too precious to waste time feeling sorry for myself.

And now that I’m back I decided to make one of my favorite comfort foods; Tofu Fried Quinoa. Similar to making fried rice with tofu instead of egg, this recipe substitutes rice with quinoa. The best part is how easy it is to make.

Crumble Tofu

Ingredients
2 teaspoons cooking oil
1/3 cup diced onion
2/3 cup frozen peas
½ package extra firm tofu
1.5 cups cooked quinoa
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1.5 tablespoons tamari
2 teaspoons roasted sesame seed oil

Steps:
1. Cook the onions in the cooking oil until the onions are tender.
2. While the onions are cooking crumble the tofu with a fork.
3. Add the frozen peas and tofu to the onions and cook over medium heat until the peas are no longer frozen
4. Add the quinoa
5. In a small bowl mix the liquid smoke, tamari, and roasted sesame seed oil then pour over the tofu and quinoa
6. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until the liquids have all been absorbed

Fried Quina