02 February 2018

Creamy Black Lentil Soup

Sometimes I go to grocery stores and buy something I've never cooked with before because it looks interesting. I did that a while ago with some black lentils. Then, of course, they sat in my pantry for a long time because I didn't have a recipe that called for them.

Finally, I decided they had existed, unused, in my pantry long enough, so I started in on some creative googling. I don't remember exactly what search term or random list I found this recipe, but I flagged it as a good option. I loved the idea of a creamy soup with the toothsome chew of lentils. I loved the idea of a subtle influence of Indian flavors. I was intrigued at the addition of tahini.

More importantly, this soup had an ingredient that would make Shana want it, too. See, this beautiful creamy soup calls for eggplant.Shana loooooves eggplant. Me? I feel strongly middling about eggplant. It's fine. I never crave it and will always pick another option over it, but I don't hate it, either. But here, in this recipe, it looked like we would both have something to love. I was right.



12 January 2018

Maggie's Vegan Cheesy Taco Mac

So... we went to a mac & cheese party this past weekend. No joke. Sounds like a weird place for a vegan to go. Nevertheless, go we did.

The mac & cheese party was hosted by Shana's former principal and her husband; it was their second annual mac & cheese party. They held their first event last year because getting tickets to the Indianapolis Return of the Mac festival was apparently really difficult. Our hosts planned very well! The party had 14 entries, which party goers tasted in small cups that rested perfectly in holes drilled into clipboards. This allowed you to take notes as you ate. After eating them all, you voted* (via google form) for your favorite entry in three categories: best overall, most innovative, and most gourmet.

After deciding to go, we debated just going for fun, but then Shana reminded me that she'd asked me to veganize a cheesy taco mac recipe she saw in one of those food videos. My first attempt to make this dish was a delicious success, but we hadn't had it in over a year! I was intrigued with the idea of adding a vegan entry to the mac & cheese party, but decided I needed to test it once more. A second successful result (with a few tweaks from the first) made me confident it would be okay as an entry.

As it turned out, we didn't win, but came in third in the best overall category and had the second most votes overall! Moreover, people didn't know it was vegan until Shana announced it after the votes were tallied. All in all, that makes this a winner in my book.

Filling a tasting cup to the brim (and then some)!

21 December 2017

Saffron-Garlic Rice

Fall semester finals were last week and final grades were due on Tuesday. The nearly instantaneous flexibility that comes with the end of the semester generally means I can cook more creative meals and/or more time-intensive meals with some frequency. Thus, this week we've had all sorts of fun dishes, including chickpeas romesco, which we haven't had in ages!

To be honest, I'm not sure why we don't make this saffron-garlic rice more often. It's an easy recipe that involves mostly hands-off cooking, and the flavor is seriously good. I could see this rice as a side dish for a fancy dinner party, an option for a night you want something other than plain rice, or our favorite way to eat it - under chickpeas romesco. Regardless, we should eat it more and you should eat it, too! While it does take a bit of time, I'll remind you that it's easy and that your taste buds will thank you.

See that little spot of red? That's a saffron thread!


02 December 2017

Maggie's Vegan Challah

Hanukkah is coming up. Neither of us is religious, but we both grew up with holiday traditions. Although Shana's Jewish traditions weren't my own, many of my friends were Jewish while growing up, so they are more than a bit familiar to me. One major tradition at Hanukkah is eating challah bread. Beautiful, braided, sweet, soft, magical challah bread; generally full of eggs.


A while ago I had an idea to try to make challah, figuring there had to be a way to make that magic vegan-friendly. Plus, the way Shana's eyes lit up when I mentioned the idea meant I had to try. More important was the way her eyes closed in pleasure when eating the finished bread. One way I show my love is through feeding people, so feeding my wife a food she'd not had since childhood made my heart overflow. It was only a matter of time before I'd make it again. With Hanukkah coming up in less than two weeks, I can feel the magic coming.



19 November 2017

Vegan Viands #20: Vegan Brown Sugar Cookies

Yesterday was my mother's birthday; she would have turned 66. Growing up, my dad did 98% of the cooking at our house. He also made pies. But my mom, she was the baker. Cookies, cakes, sweet breads - those were her primary culinary home. I've shared some of the things she was noted for, such as Christmas wreath cookies, chocolate chip zucchini bread, and rhubarb bars.

One year, my mom got a giant recipe book filled with nothing but cookies. I remember her going through the book and exclaiming over the recipes. I think that most of the cookies in the book got made at least once, but one recipe kept returning: brown sugar cookies.

I think what made these cookies a hit was some combination of the crunchy/chewy cookie, the frosting that is reminiscent of the frosting we all put on our birthday cakes, and the group effort necessary to frost the cookies before the frosting set.

Since we were headed to a party last night, I wanted to bring a dish to share. I'm sure that the memories of my mother brought these cookies to mind. Making and sharing them with others was a wonderful way to honor her memory.