13 November 2016

Vegan Viands #19: Maggie's Vegan Ranch Chex Mix

Every late fall/early winter growing up, my mom would make chex mix. It was a frequent snack and even more frequent gift - going to teachers, neighbors, and friends. The smell and taste of that chex mix is unmistakable. It is one of those recipes that is so easy and delicious, taking just a bit of patience for a long, slow bake and seemingly longer cool. Although her recipe wasn't vegan, it was easily veganizable, meaning that I make my own every year.

Because of the ubiquity of my mom's chex mix, I thought that was the only way to take the on-their-own unremarkable cereals and make them into something magical.

As it turns out, I thought wrong.

Growing up, Shana often had a ranch-flavored chex mix. While similar in idea, the chex mix in Shana's recollection involved a ranch seasoning packet and oil, no bake time, and thus, no cooling time. This fall, when I expressed an interest in making my version, Shana requested that I attempt to make hers. After some googling, including to assess the ingredients of a ranch packet (so not vegan), I made an attempt. It was...not right. Fine, but not right. After some discussion, I made another version and brought it with us on a trip to see all our best friends. That version was delicious - not to mention gone in no time once we arrived.

So, if you're a vegan adult with memories of a ranch-style chex mix, look no further. This takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and will last a bit longer than that if you make sure to hide some from the masses.


05 October 2016

Vegan Peruvian Lomo Saltado

More than three years ago, I mentioned that there were some Peruvian recipes in Bryanna Clark Grogan's World Vegan Feast that I wanted to try. Let's just say that life got a little bit hectic between then and now.

In any event, we have some Peruvian friends who work with me at Earlham and we have a night of dinner and games with them. Last month, I told them that I wanted to try cooking a vegan version of a popular dish in Peru called lomo saltado. According to Robertson, this dish is an example of a fusion between Chinese and Peruvian cuisine and has become an incredibly popular dish all over the country. Our friends agreed.

When we first decided to make lomo saltado, I was a bit perplexed by the variety of flavors that I saw in the dish. Traditional to Peruvian cuisine, potatoes play a role, as does steak (for which strips of seitan substitute wonderfully), vinegar, lime juice, oregano, and cumin. Traditional to Chinese cuisine, we have the stir-fry technique, along with soy sauce and rice. I was skeptical until I took my first bite, wherein I discovered what a wonderful and flavorful fusion these two traditions created! Our Peruvian friends thought it was delicious, too! Shana and I decided to have it again this week, which is why I'm sharing it with you.



24 September 2016

Maggie's Stir Fry Sauce

The first day of fall has come and gone, but it sure doesn't feel like it's fall in Indiana. We've had temperatures in the mid to upper 80s all this past week. So while I've been staring longingly at all of the soups and stews I cook in the fall, it's just not happening for a while. Instead, we have been cooking like it's summer, using all sorts of fresh veggies and flavors.

Since I've been so ready for fall, I couldn't keep making the same summer dishes. Instead, building on Shana's love of Asian flavors, we had an excellent stir fry tonight! With a ton of veggies and light and flavorful sauce, we enjoyed it immensely tonight. This is something we'll be sure to eat again, plus the recipe is a great base for all sorts of experimentation.



21 August 2016

Thomas Family "Special Syrup"

Every once in a while, you want a special treat for breakfast, like cinnamon rolls or candy coated clouds. But sometimes, with a busy week behind you, a full day ahead, and the semester looming, you just want something to make a more typical weekend breakfast a bit special. You want "special" without the effort "special" often requires. I have just the thing for you.

When I was growing up, we would have waffles or pancakes for weekend breakfasts with regularity. Nearly all of the time, those treats would be covered with maple syrup. But every so often, my dad would say that he was going to make "special syrup" for us to pour over our waffles. This pronouncement was met with glee! I assumed that special syrup was an occasional treat because it was labor intensive - I couldn't have been more wrong! This syrup recipe is all of the "special" with next to no effort. Instead, with three simple ingredients and about six minutes of your time, you'll be able to drench waffles in a delicious syrup with at least a three generation family history* (granted, I made mine vegan).

Served this morning with hash browns and Amy's brand vegan breakfast sausages (because Shana is obsessed with them).

This was just what I needed the weekend before my semester starts in earnest.

09 July 2016

Summer Tortilla Pinwheels

A few months ago, some friends moved from our town and threw a big going away party. They are always very conscious of the myriad eating habits of all of their friends, so they made sure that some vegan-friendly food was available. One of those dishes were tortilla pinwheels that some vegan potluck friends brought and I've been dreaming about since. They were so simple, but so delicious!

I finally decided I needed to stop dreaming, so I contacted the friend who made them for the recipe. Her response sounded pretty much like what I say when Shana asks how I made something new and delicious: "Well, I added some of this, some of that, a little bit of that, and some of something else." To Shana, that response is infuriating, but to me, it leaves the door open to experimentation. My friend said she used my sun-dried tomato spread recipe, a "hummus" made with cannellini beans and cashews, and arugula, but wasn't sure exactly what proportions she used or what other ingredients were in the hummus. That was enough of a start for me, so I set to work to figure out my own version.

My own version in hand, Shana and I made our way to a Fourth of July party. I cut into the rolls, hoping they'd stay together (they did) and made sure to express to our hosts and other friends that the recipe was new and that I'd love feedback and wouldn't be offended if people didn't like them. As the wraps disappeared, the only feedback I heard was "mmmmmmmmmmm" and "these are delicious, Maggie!" We took just a few of them home with us, but Shana ate them the next day and has been asking for them since. Recipe success!