Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Of Cabbage and Quinoa

Below is the dinner from a while back that I promised. There are other dinners that I want to talk about, but I didn't manage to snap a picture. I guess that I'll just have to wait until I eat what was stashed in the freezer.

I'm sad that I haven't been able to keep up my red cabbage addiction, but Trader Joe's has been out of it the last few times that I have been there.  Here is one of the last things that I tried.

For some reason, I just couldn't bring myself to cook the cabbage even though I decided to have it in a German/Eastern European style.  Basically, I just nuked apple pieces in cinnamon, ginger, water, little maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar then poured the mixture on top of the cabbage. It was an interesting set of contrasts with the sweet/sour of the cooked apple and then the soft/crunchy between the apple and cabbage. I may make it again but with some alterations.

Here is my lazy quinoa dish, which turned out surprisingly good.  I had some leftover cooked regular and red quinoa that was reheated along with some frozen corn and peas.  On top is the tomato chutney from Trader Joe's.  It was missing a little something, and then I mixed the chutney in and added a little bit of soymilk and siracha hot sauce.  It was quick and easy, and I'll probably be making up several variations when I need a fast but healthy and tasty meal.

Future posts: I'll be in Chicago this weekend to visit one of the graduate schools to which I was accepted.  The chemistry department knows that I'm vegan, so I'm curious as to how I'll be accommodated for outside meals, and I know that I'll be visiting some sort of veg place on my own before I leave town.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dessert First is Always Better

This is not the aforementioned carrot cake that was promised nor the dinner, but it is close. (To the cake at least...)  I have pictures of the dinner but figured dessert is more exciting, and my friend, whose birthday the carrot cake was for, still hasn't given me the pictures that he took of it.

I realized last week that I had a bag of home-cooked black beans that needed to be used up before they went bad.  I had bookmarked the recipe on have cake, will travel, which involved making brownies with black beans as a base, so I figured that it was time to finally give it a try.  Here is the result:

On their own, the brownies were a little bland and had a healthy taste to them.  I don't think my roommate liked them very much, but I didn't think that they were too bad with raspberries (frozen ones nuked in the microwave) or melted extra chocolate on top.  The healthiness made me not feel as guilty when I ate them once (or twice) a day. Plus, the all the fiber in the beans and oatmeal has other healthy digestion benefits.

I ended up tweaking the recipe Celine posted and making it a hybrid of the two found on her site.  If I make this again sometime soon, I'll probably work on the recipe a little bit more.  Here is what I did:

2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup coca powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1 banana
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tbsp peanut butter

I used the food processor to grind up the oats, beans, and then mix everything else together.  After putting the batter in a 9x9 baking dish, it was baked at 350 F for 30 minutes.  I think that I may have added a few chocolate chips to the batter, now that I think about it. The fact that I almost forgot probably means that I didn't add near enough.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Snow Day Cooking

Okay, I'll be honest. The hinted upon snow day was really a week ago, but I felt obligated to blog about it (since I've been meaning to do so) before I blog about my dinner and bread baking tonight.  It was actually a very fun meal that involved me and two other roommates each making a dish to contribute. (Please excuse the messy kitchen in the background below.)

In the front are some frozen vegetables which were sauteed with balsamic vinegar among other things.  To the right are latkes, or "those Jewish pancakes" as my roommate likes to call them.  I always top them with apple sauce and never ketchup, because I want to do it the German way, plus I think ketchup just overpowers the potato taste.  The recipe that she used was from Veganomicon.

And last but not least, is my contribution on the left. I had a bunch of swiss chard, a great vegetable love of mine, and I somehow got the idea to make a pesto with it. I had seen recipes were spinach had been used for some of the basil, and, since I didn't have any basil, I figured that I should give it a try with chard.

It may be a bit difficult to see, but this pesto was absolutely lovely.  I followed the pesto recipe in VwaV except that I used three rather large chard leaves.  I think one of my favorite parts of this pesto was how the red stems give it these gorgeous red flakes amongst all the green.  Even though I served it on top of a lemony brown rice with white beans and tomatoes, I have plans on making this again for pizza along with the vodka tomato sauce. Such a combination could only turn out absolutely amazing and may cause me to forget to put any other vegetables on the pizza!

Coming soon: another variation on red cabbage salad with lazy quinoa and carrot cake!

Monday, February 2, 2009

An Unofficial Vegetable Challenge

I know that so many people do some sort of resolution nonsense (well, sometimes they can be practical rather than silly), thus I decided to wait a while until admitting mine even if it is not a resolution, per say. I am considering it more of a challenge to myself.  Just like everyone else, I notice sometimes that I get a little over-enthusiastic in the baking department.  I also realized that I wanted to branch out a little bit more in my eating. Thus, I have been consciously trying vegetables that I had not eaten in a while or try new ones that I don't recall ever eating on a regular basis.  It probably sounds silly, but I am thinking of it as a vegetable adventure.

The first casualty to this experiment was Brussels sprouts.  To many, they are a feared vegetable since youth, but I honestly couldn't recall eating any in my youth.  After consulting my cookbooks, I knew that baking them would be the best option.  Sadly, there are no pictures of this first foray, but that is only because those sprouts did not last long! Using the cornmeal crusted recipe in Veganomicon, I discovered a new favorite side dish.  Even the rest of my roommates couldn't resist the slightly spiced smells coming from the oven!

My next foray took me by surprise, to be quite honest.  On an impulse, I picked up a bag of shredded red cabbage while at the store.  Being somewhat familiar with German dishes, I have tried and occasionally liked the stewed red cabbage side dish stable. (The ones that I've experienced have usually been more on the sour side, which wasn't always pleasing. There was this stewed plain cabbage that I was once given in Prague, but I am not quite sure how that was prepared differently.)  I perused favorite food blogs and cookbooks, unsure of what to do with this vegetable.  There is a recipe on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen that I shall be trying later this week, but for now, my new salad that I can't seem to get enough of is seen below.

I hadn't realized how good red cabbage was raw if you just have the right dressing! Upon seeing the high vitamin C content, I knew that I didn't want to cook it the first time around.  Here, I have it paired with a spicy peanut sauce that I threw together (along with some carrots on top).  The recipe is more of a guideline than anything exact, but I'm including it to give you a general idea.

apple cider vinegar (a tbsp or two)
garlic powder
ground ginger
red pepper flakes (this gives it that kick)
a little lime juice
a few dollops of peanut butter (I use crunchy, since that is what I keep around.)

Just mix it all together with a fork and then add a little water to thin it out.  Add the veggies and coat them well. This simple ensemble turned out to be surprisingly delicious, and I used my whole first bag eating it with dinner several days in a row. I just couldn't get enough of it! (I'll blame it on my peanut butter addiction.)

My next challenge will be to actually do something with cooked cabbage, and I also have an eggplant sitting in the fridge, wanting to be used.  I've cooked with eggplant before in making hummus, a vegetable quinoa dish, or a hungarian paprikash.  This time, I want to try something new, so I'll see what I can find.