24 September 2013

Vegan Viands #13: Vegan Snickerdoodles

When I sat down to write this post, my first thought was about the origin of the name "snickerdoodles." I love words (even though my professional life has nothing to do with words), so any time I can learn about a new word, I get a little bit excited.* Although I do not allow my students to EVER cite from Wikipedia, I do admit that I go there from time to time to get a little bit of background on a topic. According to the Wiki article on snickerdoodles, the word is either a bastardization of the name of a German pastry or simply a New England "whimsical" name for a cookie. Either way, they are delicious.

Snickerdoodles are actually one of Shana's favorite types of cookies. I don't make them that often, so when I offer to do so, she jumps at the chance to eat them. I'm not sure why I got the bug to make snickerdoodles this time around. Maybe it's the cinnamon tickling my nose and eliciting a wonderful feeling of nostalgia that alternates between suffused elation and a feeling both tender and bittersweet. I always feel this way during autumn. Maybe it's that we just spent a wonderful weekend celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary and I wanted to maintain that feeling of connection a little bit into the week. Maybe I just felt I was rushing the season too much if I made my pumpkin cookies. Or maybe it's just that I haven't made snickerdoodles in a really long time. Regardless, they sure were delicious!

22 September 2013

Vegan Cornbread Muffins

Tonight Shana is cooking dinner! Just like I'm doing crockpot meals once a week, she's cooking dinner one night a week now. It has been fun to NOT cook dinner one night a week, but, in all honesty, I wouldn't like it if she cooked all the time. I just enjoy cooking too much for that. Anyway, Shana is not a very experienced cook, so she's opting to make dishes from my blog because she knows what they are supposed to taste like and because I'm here while she's cooking in case questions arise. It's actually been quite helpful for me to have a novice cook attempt recipes, as she's pointed out areas where I don't provide enough information (e.g., how much heat does one use for a simmer?), as well as the occasional typo.

We'd been talking about having the best vegan chili for about a week, so the cooler temperatures of today (perfect for the autumnal equinox) made this a perfect choice for dinner. Since Shana was cooking the main part of dinner, I thought I'd take the time to make the classic chili accompaniment of cornbread. Most cornbread recipes call for at least one of the following non-vegan ingredients: buttermilk, eggs, or butter. However, none of those ingredients are necessary to make a moist and delicious cornbread! You can make a delicious cornbread without animal by-products and no one will ever know!

19 September 2013

Crockpot Corn Chowder

As I mentioned a week ago, I'm using Tuesdays this semester to attempt new crockpot meals. This week got a little turned around with a dinner for a potential new faculty member on Tuesday night, but Wednesday night was parent-teacher conferences, so Shana stayed and I attempted a new crockpot dinner. I was trying to decide between two different meals in my crockpot book, and although I'm not sure what made me choose this dish, I am very glad that I did!

Perhaps I was predisposed to like this meal because of the ease of crockpot cooking. Perhaps it was just that I was really hungry when I first tried the chowder. But I don't think that I've ever had non-vegan corn chowder, so I might not be a fair judge (though I did share bites of it with two omnivores at school today and they both liked it). In reality, I think the recipe is just a delicious one! Plus, you can make this using fresh from the farm corn in the summer or frozen kernels in the winter. To be honest, I used frozen kernels even though it is summer because it's just easier.

Overall, this soup is full of corn flavor and fresh whole foods. By pureeing some of the cooked veggies and then adding the puree back into the soup, there's a slight bit of weight to each spoonful without an overpowering heaviness. The corn makes it a bit on the "sweet" side (think sweet corn, not cake), but maybe that's normal for corn chowder? Regardless, there is certainly a balance of other savory flavors. If nothing else, the chowder is a lovely shade of yellow!

15 September 2013

Curried Seitan Pumpkin Stew

Last weekend my aunt and uncle visited us as a stop on their road trip to Virginia. They brought a number of items that my dad sent us from his garden, including two small pie pumpkins. I looked at those little pumpkins and knew exactly what needed to happen - curried seitan pumpkin stew. Showing Shana the two little pumpkins (and not saying a word), her eyes lit up. She knew what the little pumpkins meant: one of our favorite dinners was going to happen, one that can only happen for a relatively short period of time in the fall.

Shana and I planned to have curried seitan pumpkin stew on Saturday, but we've made a practice of sharing this meal with friends. When talking about which friends we should share with this time around, we talked about a couple with whom I traveled to Jordan over the summer. Although we've hung out with them in groups (and I traveled across the world with them), we thought it would be fun to spend an evening with them. Invitations were extended and accepted, I purchased two more small pumpkins at the farmer's market, and preparations began.

When I say preparations, I mean it. This is NOT a quick meal you can just throw together on a whim. Although it's not particularly complicated, there are a number of ingredients for which you need to plan ahead, and there are long cooking times so you also need at least 3 hours before you want to eat on the day of meal. But all the planning and prep work is so incredibly worth it! These flavors are magnificent together!

13 September 2013

Maggie's Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

If it's not clear already, we love soup. Over 10% of the recipes in this blog are soup. Since we knew the weather was going to be fall-like today, we planned for soup. This soup, though, isn't just any soup. This soup is an homage to my wife's Jewish heritage and allows her to tell me that I'd make a wonderful Jewish grandmother (because apparently to be one I'd need a recipe for matzo ball soup and a penchant for feeding people - and technically, I'd need to be Jewish, too).

To be honest, I don't remember why I started making matzo ball soup. Perhaps it was a Seder we shared with friends while I was in grad school, as we shared many. Maybe it was me trying to figure out foods we'd both love. Maybe I was just feeling adventurous. In all likelihood, I probably saw some ingredients at the store (Manischewitz Matzo Ball mix) and decided I should buy some. Whatever the reason, this a soup recipe that makes both of us incredibly happy.

Although I've tweaked the recipe a bit over time, this is a fairly straightforward recipe for matzo ball soup. It uses some convenience ingredients and things you can easily find at a grocery store. FYI, my matzo balls are a bit on the dense side of the spectrum, as is my preference. If you feel like being a master chef, you can always try the recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance, as this recipe makes matzo balls that are supposed to be fluffier.

11 September 2013

Maggie's Stuffed Peppers

Before I begin, let me apologize for my significant absence. I'll try not to leave for that long again.

So, the semester is in full swing by now. What that means is that I'm busier than I was during the summer (I've got 13% of the student body across all of my classes this semester), but that the semester has mostly settled into a routine. I know which nights I'm going to have more work to do and which nights I'm going to have more free time. For this semester, I've decided that Tuesday nights will be nights when I attempt a new crockpot meal (Shana stays in Indy, so I can test new recipes and engage in minimal effort). Last night's new crockpot meal was a big bust. Perhaps because of that, I wasn't feeling hopeful about tonight's dinner. Turns out my fears were unfounded.

The necessary back-story to this dinner is that I've tried numerous (4? 7?) times to make a stuffed pepper recipe that we like. I've been unsuccessful. We've eaten stuffed peppers that we like (notably with friends from NY), but I couldn't make a delicious version at home. I'd make an attempt, it would turn out poorly, and neither one of us would want to eat stuffed peppers for a while. Eventually, I'd start to think about them again, playing with ingredients in my mind, and would convince Shana to let me try again. Tonight was a success!! Now I guess I need another recipe to ponder.