22 April 2015

CSA Excitement!

Everybody. We have a CSA this year. An organic CSA.

Don't know what a CSA is? It's awesome! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it basically works by people like me & Shana paying a farmer before the growing season for a share of the crops that are grown. If you want more information, check out Local Harvest or Wiki. Today was the first day that we got our CSA share from Christopher Farm. I am SO EXCITED about it!! Here's a picture of what was in this week's share.

From bottom-left, going clockwise: box choy, kale, spinach, carrots & greens, lettuce, cilantro, garlic, shallots.
I've decided to post our weekly shares and have created a new tag for CSA-related posts. I'm very hopeful that the CSA will force us to explore new veggies. For example, this week I'm going to try a carrot-top pesto, a carrot-top soup, and roasted garlic compound butter. I've been feeling a bit in a cooking rut (as I think I do every spring), so having all of these ideas feels awesome. YAY!

12 April 2015

Vegan Frisket (Faux Brisket) for Non-Kosher Seder

It seems like I am starting every recent blog post with an apology. I've been gone for over a month, but again, my absence has a good reason: we bought a house! The closing happened early in Feb, then my dad came to help us do stuff in the house for about a week. Then I went to a conference, then I went to another conference, and then we officially moved when The Bests (what we call our best friends) came to help about two weeks ago. Since then, we've moved all of our stuff and unpacked enough that we can functionally live. There are still boxes and there's no art on the walls, both of which will make me crazy pretty soon. Here's a picture of our house right after the closing!

The doilies in the windows are going. 
The days we moved, I spent an entire afternoon organizing the kitchen. Since the kitchen is mostly my domain (and Shana hates the unpacking part of moving), Shana and The Bests just let me work. I'm glad they did, because I got the kitchen organized and ready for cooking. Less than a week later, Shana and I hosted 6 good friends for a nearly 100% vegan non-Kosher Passover Seder. It was so much fun! 

For the second year in a row, I cooked what we've lovingly referred to as frisket - faux brisket. Shana grew up having brisket at nearly every major family gathering, but she recently learned that many non-Jews didn't have the same experience. I can count on one hand the number of times I had brisket growing up. Although neither Shana nor I are religious at this point in our lives, Seder is a beautiful tradition (and I've written about loving traditions). Due to our lack of a specifically religious identification with the meal, we feel a bit more free to deviate from some of the required elements, such as all the food being Kosher for Passover. Thus, this delicious (but unattractive) main dish isn't religiously sanctioned, but it is an interpretation of a regularly served dish.



06 March 2015

Lazy Dinner Not-Pigs in Blankets

Even though spring is supposedly on the way, the first two and half months of the year are always tricky for Shana and I when it comes to planning dinners. Our best laid meal plans are often dramatically destroyed by Mother Nature. We'll have planned a lovely dinner just to have a major snowstorm force Shana to stay in Indianapolis. Thus, I'm more often trying to figure out random things for me to eat (e.g., the other night I had Alice Salad and mini tater tots, simply because I had all of that on hand). Luckily, I've got a number of Lazy Dinners that are easy to do.

This is another one of those dinners where I don't remember how it started. Maybe we saw someone else eating them. Or maybe I saw a non-vegan recipe and decided to veganize it. Or maybe something else happened that was equally trivial. Whatever the reason, these not-pigs in blankets are SO easy I feel badly calling them a recipe. But I guess that makes them a perfect Lazy Dinner (or game-watching food or snack).

Now, before you go all crazy and start making these all the time, I just want to say up front that these are not - I repeat, NOT - the most healthy thing for you to eat. They rely on heavily processed fake meat and high-in-fat bread-in-a-can. Obviously that means they're delicious. It also obviously means don't eat them all the time! As a occasional Lazy Dinner, they're great.


27 January 2015

Vegan Sun-dried Tomato Spread

Long ago, for much of high school and even some early college breaks, I worked at a bagel store called Bruegger's Bagels.* While working in the same place for so long, you get tired of eating the same things over and over, so I would experiment with new foods and food combinations over the years. It helped that while I was working there, Bruegger's started introducing new foods and expanding their menu. One of the new foods I tried was a sun-dried tomato spread. I had never been a big fan of sun-dried tomatoes, and I'm still not, but dang was this spread delicious. As time passed, I stopped working at Bruegger's and then went vegan. Although there's stuff for me to eat there as a vegan, the sun-dried tomato spread is not on that list; it contains cheese and gelatin.

I had essentially stopped thinking about this spread until a ridiculous craving for it hit me.  Luckily, it turns out a vegan version of this is super easy to make and just as delicious as I remember (and without the non-vegan bits). I brought this to school the other day to eat on a bagel sandwich (everything bagel + faux turkey + lettuce + spread = magic). I also shared some with some colleagues over lunch and I was rewarded with rave reviews! Many of them asked that I share the recipe. So, colleagues, here you go!



24 January 2015

Quick & Easy Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits

Despite the fact that I know we should eat something other than carbs for breakfast, that's often where we revert on weekend mornings. There are exceptions, such as tofu scramble, but carbs commonly grace our breakfast plates. Often I use Heart Smart Bisquick when I make pancakes, waffles, or biscuits, but the other week I was out and really craving biscuits. I figured it couldn't be that hard to make my own, so did some quick google searching. Turns out there are a ton of different ways to mix a few simple ingredients to make biscuits. After a bit of pondering (and a bit of guessing), I made an attempt at a recipe that turned out really well!

Even though the biscuits were delicious, I've got a rule. The rule for the blog, is that if I make up a recipe, I have to make that recipe at least twice before it gets posted. (FYI, if I make a recipe from a cookbook that's awesome, then I can post it after just one time, as it went through all sorts of testing before getting published.) Lucky for me, the second attempt at the biscuits turned out just as well as the first! Shana even said "good biscuits, love" multiple times during breakfast. We slather our biscuits with vegan butter and agave nectar, but you could easily do jam, maple syrup, gravy, or even use them to make a vegan breakfast sandwich (despite the addition of sugar, the biscuits themselves aren't sweet). Let me know what you do with your biscuits!

All slathered and with some fake bacon.

21 January 2015

Vegan Coq au Vin

This semester I hope to cook a ton of new recipes. I'm pretty sure I say that every semester, but I am on a "pre-tenure leave" this semester, which means that I'm not teaching anything! Instead, my time will be spent working on writing up all the research I've been doing over the past years. I've got big goals (four manuscripts of the six I have waiting, plus seriously revising a class I will be teaching in the fall), but I have been told that I am also to take time to relax and rejuvenate. For me, that means cooking, singing, and reading books for fun. All of that sounds amazing.

To start off the semester of fun new foods, I decided to pick a recipe from an awesome cookbook that I've barely used: World Vegan Feast. Bryanna Clark Grogan is amazing. She has a number of awesome vegan cookbooks and an extensive vegan recipe blog. She also has an interesting background with family members from various parts of the world. Aside from her amazingness (not a word) as a cook, I also wanted this cookbook as a way to stretch my taste buds and culinary repertoire. This "coq" au vin does just that. The flavors are traditionally French for a taste of international cuisine when you don't have the money and time to actually go there!



05 January 2015

Vegan Baked Oatmeal

My wife loves routine. She loves the structure it provides to life. Shana's love of structure was another reason why the implementation of our meal plan has lasted for so many years. Her food routine spreads to breakfast, too. Nearly every morning, Shana eats a bagel (usually an everything bagel, sometimes a cinnamon raisin). However, at some point this past semester, Shana said that she'd not been eating a bagel because it was "too much" in the morning. Given that she teaches small children all day, having something for breakfast is important, and I lamented the fact that she doesn't like oatmeal due to its texture. She agreed with my lament, but it got me thinking if there was another way to get her to eat oatmeal (full of fiber, protein, a minerals like manganese, but low in fat and calories!).

Enter baked oatmeal; I hoped for all of the goodness, none of the texture issues. I did a lot of googling and found a ton of recipes, but most of them contained eggs and/or milk. Adding "vegan" to my search terms led to a bunch of recipes. Somewhat at random, I picked one that had some flavors I liked and dove in and hoped for the best. I'm so glad that I did because this recipe is AMAZING! It is easy to put together, has awesome texture and flavor (it tastes like fall!), freezes like a dream, and got Shana to eat oatmeal!