17 December 2012

Maggie's Indian-Inspired Curry

I mentioned a bit ago that veg*n eating pushes your food boundaries beyond your own culture and encourages you to try new things. This dish is no exception. I'm not sure I ever ate a curry prior to going vegan (a few dishes called for a bit of curry, but that was about it). However, the smell of curries always pleasantly tickled my nose, which led to trying them, and liking them, and craving them.

At some point, Shana and I were meal planning and I decided I wanted curry sometime that week. Shana was skeptical.* However, we agreed that she could eat something else if she didn't like what I made, so curry was on the menu. The problem was that I had never made a curry, watched someone make a curry, nor looked at a recipe for curry. I knew I wanted it to have a few specific foods in it (though why those foods...?), but my Google searching didn't turn up anything quite like what I wanted. Or, it did, but it included ingredients I couldn't easily obtain. So I just sort of threw things into a large pot, crossed my fingers, and sampled the end result. It was delicious!

The recipe below has the ingredients of both a liquid curry and a drier aloo gobi dish. As such, it isn't authentic to either style, but the taste is worth it. The overall recipe is not hot-spicy, but it is warming in your tummy due to the included spices.

13 December 2012

Almost Thai (Peanut Butter) Pasta

One of the best things about being veg*n is that I've become way more open to eating new types of food or food combinations, in addition to getting more adventurous with food overall. I don't want to lead you toward thinking that I'm up for anything (as I'm certainly NOT), but I do eat a larger variety of foods than I ever did pre-veg*n.

A type food that I started eating post going veg*n is Thai food. I love it! I love curries and spices with lime and peanuts everywhere! Unfortunately, for most of the past few years, we haven't had good Thai food near us (there's an AMAZING Thai restaurant in Dayton, but it's pricey and about a 45 minute drive). More recently, a Thai restaurant opened here in Richmond. It's good food, but we haven't been that often.

Instead, we sometimes eat a meal that is Thai-inspired at home, despite its lack of authenticity. The beauty of this meal is three-fold: it is easy, fast, and cheap! Based heavily on a recipe from The Garden of Vegan, this recipe uses foods that are already in a well-stocked veg*n kitchen. Plus, it's super omnivore-friendly!
We didn't have any peanuts tonight, so this picture is missing them. Bummer. 

08 December 2012

Vegan Viands #3: Apple Crisp

I have an apple problem. Well, it's not a problem in the "uh oh how do we fix this?" sense of the word, it's more like how we use the word to euphemistically explain someone else's addiction. I'm not really even addicted to apples, but I am a bit of an apple snob. I even have a 100% accurate way of picking the most crisp apples in the grocery store.

Honestly, apples are amazing! They are good for you (high in fiber and Vitamin C), delicious, and can be eaten in a variety of ways (from sweet to savory or on their own). Did you know there are over 2000 varieties of apple?! If you want an amazing website about apples, check out OrangePippin, which is named for one of the favorite varieties of apples in the UK, even though the site is world wide. Almost every year we go apple picking at Way Fruit Farm in PA. (They make the most amazing apple cider, too.) If you'd like to go apple picking, here's a good website to check: http://www.pickyourown.org/.

Although most of them are a bit out of season, you can still find some great apples. For example, check out this chart of apples available at a farm about 30 minutes from me. Because I love apples, I decided to make an apple crisp for my minions when they came over earlier this week. Apple crisp is such an easy dessert to make and it's practically vegan from the get-go! Add in some vegan ice cream and you're all set.

06 December 2012

Veganomicon's Penne Vodka for my Minions

On Monday night, Shana and I hosted our semi-annual "Minion Dinner " (that's Shana's term for the students that help me out in various ways throughout the semester, not mine!). Minion Dinner is a night at the end of the semester when I cook for the students who have helped me out during the semester as either Research Assistants (RAs) or Teaching Assistants (TAs). This tradition is one I started just before I finished grad school. To thank them for all of their work (on my dissertation, no less!), I had the undergrad RAs and my lab-mates over to our house for a games/dessert party. That 2008 group was so much fun (see below)!

Since then, I've done something fun for my RAs, and also my TAs now,  every semester, and this one was no exception. This semester, I had 5 students over for Minion Dinner. They are such a great group of students; I'm lucky to have had them working with me. They certainly made my life significantly easier this semester than it would have been otherwise. We played games, laughed a lot, and they ate and enjoyed an entirely vegan dinner and a mostly vegan dessert! I think they were a bit hesitant, but they all left full and satisfied. 

Feeding a crowd (is 7 a crowd?) is always a challenge, but the added issue of feeding a crowd of non-veg*ns with vegan food they will like takes the challenge up a notch. Luckily, I have some go-to recipes for times just like this. One these go-to recipes comes from the cookbook Veganomicon, which is a bit like a vegan The Joy of Cooking. The recipe included for Penne Vodka is so good that one of my best friends calls it "Love Sauce." Judging from the speed with which this gets devoured every time we make it for anyone (omnivores and veg*ns alike), I think many people would agree with that assessment. Plus, it's a pretty quick dinner - under 30 minutes!

02 December 2012

BBQ Tofu and meal planning

A blog post about BBQ tofu feels like a cheat of a blog post. By cheat, I mean that this is almost too simple to call a recipe. However, it's delicious and we hadn't had it in a while, even though it's been on the meal plan for the past three weeks. One thing or another came up and we just didn't eat it.

Speaking of the meal plan, I've mentioned it in an off-hand way before, but maybe it's time to make things more explicit. When I was in grad school and Shana was working three jobs, we dealt with food in the following way.
1. Go to the store. "Oh, let's have broccoli* this week." "Good idea!" Purchase broccoli.
2. Come home from school/work. "I'm tired. What do you want for dinner tonight?" "I don't know, what do you want for dinner tonight. I'm tired too."
3. Go out to eat or order food from somewhere.
4. (Eventually) Throw away bad broccoli.
* or any other random perishable food

I mean, we ate at home sometimes, but our meals were not well-planned and were certainly not as well-balanced as they should have been. We finally realized the errors of our ways and instituted a weekly meal plan. A meal plan is a great way to make sure that you aren't feeling overwhelmed by vegan cooking, too!

Here's how we do it. Every Sunday, we sit down with our list of dinners we like (and occasional new recipes when I'm getting antsy for something new), discuss plans that may impact dinners (like meetings or practices or concerts or ...), check the weather, and plan! The plan gets written on a white board that lives on the fridge, we make a list of things we'll need from the store, and then we look forward to dinners every night. Plus, we don't waste mental energy, time, money, or food. It's a delicious win-win-win-win.

Why was I talking about this? Oh yeah! Because BBQ tofu had been on the meal plan for a few weeks, I think that made it especially delicious tonight.