Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

Creole Black-Eyed Peas

I actually made this months and months ago, but I couldn’t find it in myself to post.  But I promised myself that this week I would post a new recipe if it killed me, and now that I’m doing it I have a very good feeling it will indeed, not kill me.

Since I was taking care of our foster son at the time, you can imagine that one of the big reasons I loved this recipe from FatFreeVegan is because of course, it’s easy as pie.  She uses a slow cooker to cook the black-eyed peas, but I don’t have one of those, and won’t until after we move in a couple of years.

For the purpose of this recipe, however, I used canned black-eyed peas, which I suspect do not have the same kind of lovely flavor as dried ones do.  So if you feel so inclined to cooking your own, please do so.  In the meantime, have at this:

In a frying pan or soup pan, saute
1-2 ribs celery, sliced
1 green and 1 red bell pepper (red is optional but tasty and pretty), roughly chopped
1 large onion, diced*

When the vegetables start to get slightly tender, briefly saute
3-5 cloves garlic, minced

Then add
2 cans black-eyed peas, drained
1 can petite diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 tsp dried oregano’

And to taste, add about:
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Simmer the mixture for about 15 or so minutes, then add
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with rice.

* It always amuses me when recipes call for 1 large onion, or 2 small onions, or half a large onion… why not a small one?   In any event use the equivalent to approximately one large onion.  However you wanna do it.

 

 

 

4 Comments »

Days of Our Lives… Cheesy and True

It’s been … a while, since I’ve posted.

I wanted to take a minute to thank each and every one of my readers, you’ve all been such a support and so patient in my absence.  I also wanted to explain a little and in doing so to remind each and every one of you to take a minute and give your children an extra hug.

This photo was taken on 6/18, the day before we saw our foster son for the last time. It was both his and my first time at the zoo.

Some of you know that we’d been taking care of this little guy for a while.   I posted a video when we brought him home.   And I posted a picture when we got custody.   We’d had him since he was just about 7 months old, and he went back into his mother’s custody on 6/20 (I appreciate no negative or positive comments on this fact, as we do not have any good feelings towards the mother or or feigned interest, and it is neither productive nor healthy to dwell on).

If you have any comments to make on the subject, please feel free to send him prayers, positive thoughts, and good energy.  He needs all that he can get.

In any event, there we have it.  I can’t guarantee that I’ll be back into things just yet, but I will eventually.    And while I’m not okay, I also know that I will be eventually.

Wishing you all blessings of love, peace and joy… and the perfect love of a child.

6 Comments »

MEAL IDEA: Taco Black Beans and Rice

Meal Ideas are a general idea of things to put together to make a meal, without having to worry about following an exact recipe.  I’m doing a series of these to help myself on the days when I simply don’t know what to make or have a limited number of items on hand.

Before you read, be sure to submit your entries for the Light Saber Chopstick GIVEAWAY, celebrating my 1 year Veganniversary.

Since I learned how to make Izzy Proof Brown Rice, I have been using it a lot.  I made big batches of it, and froze portions for ease of use.  I love it, it makes my life a heck of a lot easier!  I froze them into about 2 serving portion sizes, which fit perfectly into a sandwich baggy.

Sautee onions, bell peppers and garlic until soft.  Throw in some jalapenos too if they’re you’re kinda thing.

Stir in some cooked rice, a can or two of black beans (drained), a packet of taco seasoning* and a can of diced tomatoes.

Season with salt, pepper and other spices to taste (smoked paprika, not-chicken bullion, etc)

Cook until all liquid is absorbed.

Nom.

Eat this as is, on a bed of lettuce, or wrapped up in a warm tortilla with vegan sour cream, salsa and lettuce and fresh tomatoes for a yummy burrito.

* If you don’t have a packet of taco seasoning on hand or prefer not to use it, use some  spices like Chili Powder, Cumin, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, etc.

2 Comments »

1 Year Anniversary and Top 10

Thai Curry – Lightsaber 

But first, lets talk about 10 reasons I’m glad I became vegan: In recipes.  These are recipes I absolutely probably would never have tried before becoming a vegan.  Click on the picture for the recipes.  These recipes are listed in no particular order.  Well, except the numbers are sequential. ;)

1.  NO BAKE CRACK BALLS.

Why I wouldn’t have tried these prior to becoming vegan.  WTF IS FLAX SEED MEAL??  Seriously, I’m really familiar with it now, but prior to becoming vegan, it simply was not in my home.  It should be in every home, vegan or not.  It might be in yours.

If you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, do you ever cook with flax seeds?  If you ARE, did you have it in your home prior to becoming vegan, vegetarian?

2. Mujaddara.  If fancy names intimidate you, call it Spiced Lentils and Rice.

Although I haven’t made it since the first time I cooked it, I freaking dream about this stuff.  I don’t know what the hell it is about it, if it’s the sweet spices or if it’s the salty sweet caramelized onions, but the fact of the matter is it was yummy as hell.  Ok, technically there isn’t a recipe for this on my blog yet because I haven’t revamped it just yet.  But if you have “THE GOOGLES” (as my husband calls it), you’ve got yourself a recipe.

Why I wouldn’t have tried this prior to becoming vegan: Many of the dishes I now make are ethnic, not because I enjoyed ethnic foods, but because you can only eat rice and beans so many ways before you try to branch out into other parts of the world.  And lets face it, Americans are not known for their vegetarian cuisine.

What is your favorite ethnic dish?

Lentils and Rice

3.   TOFU AND DUMPLINGS

It’s not really “out there” per say.  But because I was desperate for a crust, I decided to try dumplings.  Since I was trying dumplings, I figured I might as well make a chicken and dumplings kind of thing.  And it was amazing.

Why I wouldn’t have tried this prior to going vegan: I made it out of desperation.  The only dumplings I’ve ever known were soggy mushy doughy grossness and this was amazing.  Also, tofu.  Duh.

What is your favorite vegan comfort food recipe?

Dumplings of Awesomeness

4.  TAHINI SOY DRESSING


Oh my god can I drink this stuff by the bucket.  Well, actually I probably couldn’t cause it’s so stinking creamy and rich and amazing and I want to hump it.  I crave the hell out of this stuff.  Like, a lot.  I eat salads just so I can drench it in this dressing.  It’s so muy yum.  Topped with bacuns, ugh I seriously could eat this by the boat load.

Why I wouldn’t have tried it prior to becoming vegan:  Because I was a ranch dressing purist.  A little bit of lettuce with my ranch, cheddar cheese, bacon,  and hard boiled eggs.

How do you like your salad?

Tahini Soy Dressing

5. CASHEW CREAM SAUCE

Even if I weren’t vegan, I’d still make this.  This shiitake is way yummier than even alfredo, in my opinion.  It’s crazy rich, sweet and salty and just amazing.   I only make it occasionally due to the fat content, but it’s a hit with everyone, even omnivores.

Why I wouldn’t have made this prior to being vegan?   Who needs cashew cream when you’ve got cow cream?  Also, who the hell creams a cashew?  I do, that’s who.

What is your favorite serve-to-omnivores recipe?

6.  FRENCH LENTIL SOUP

Or really anything with lentils. I love lentils. There, I said it.  They’re easy to cook, and they fit into anything.  Also, leeks.  I think I might like leeks more than lentils.  Tough call.

Why I wouldn’t have made this recipe prior to becoming vegan: Where’s the beef? Also lentils and leeks, ewwww.

What is your favorite lentil recipe? 

French Lentil Soup

7.  BLACK BEAN SOUP

Eh, ok so this is a crappy picture and I can’t find my most recent one.  To be fair, it’s debatable whether I would have made this, but it’s my favorite recipe so it makes the post.

What is your favorite soup recipe?

8.  CHICKPEA CUTLETS

These are great on a boat, or in a moat.  I would eat these with a kite, I would eat this in one big bite.  Omnivore or not, these are good eats (sorry Alton).  Isa (from post punk kitchen) sure got these suckers right!  As an entree on a plate, or smooshed between bread and cool veggies… no matter how you serve it, these are awesome.

Not sure why I would want to eat a kite though.

Why I wouldn’t have made them prior to becoming vegan: Vital Wheat Gluten.  Had no clue what the stuff was.

What is your faux meat entree recipe?

9.  DILL CARROTS  

Yum!  Sweet and salty and dilly, these are just amazing.  I never would have thought to put dill with sweetener, but it really worked.

Why I wouldn’t have made this prior to becoming vegan:  You know who needs to find new and creative ways of eating vegetables?  People that primarily eat vegetables. Not carnivores.

What is your favorite vegetable recipe?

Sweet Dill Carrots

10.  TOFU LO MEIN

To be perfectly honest, it’s the sauce that makes this recipe amazing.  I’ve carried it over into pretty much all of my Asian style cooking.   Also the fact that I learned how to seriously fry some tofu in this helped a lot.

The sauce on this is salty, sweet, spicy, savory and sour.   It was the moment I finally perfected the stiry-fry sauce.  Without fail, if I make baked tofu cubes with this sauce for my foster toddler, he will gobble the hell out of it.

What is your favorite way to prepare tofu?

Lo Mein

37 Comments »

Meal Idea: Tofurky Kielbasa Skillet

{Pan fried Tofurky Kielbasa, then sauteed with sliced onions, cabbage, cubed potatoes and seasoning salt until tender..  Yum}

***Don’t forget to check back on 4/19 for my 1 year Veganniversary / Blog anniversary and  a GIVEAWAY!! ***

2 Comments »

Moron Proof Brown Rice + Upcoming Giveaway Information

Before I talk about this miracle of brown rice cooking, let me tell you that something exciting  happening on 4/19.

1. My 1 year Blog and Veganniversary.

2. My very first Giveaway.  No, not telling what it is.  You will just have to come back and enter.  But I will give you a hint, if nerd and geek blood runs through your veins, you will approve.

It’s a surpriiiiiise.

Be sure to follow my blog to be sure you don’t miss the big day!

Ahem, moving on.

So lets talk rice. Brown rice, specifically.

It takes forever, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably ruined batches upon batches of it.   If you haven’t ruined more brown rice than you care to admit, this post probably isn’t for you (except for the fact that you need to know to come back on 4/19 for a giveaway).  If, however, you end up with one batch of brown rice still hard and burning, another batch mushy-broken grains with tons of water leftover, etc… then you NEED to try this.

Cause let me tell you, if you can cook pasta – you can make this.  If you CANNOT cook pasta, then there is no hope for you.  Order pizza.

So – pasta.  Boil water, add pasta, cook, strain – there are only a few minor differences when it comes to cooking brown rice, which you will see below.   I’m so thrilled about this method of cooking brown rice that I cooked it two days in a row, just because.  Of course I froze most of it, but there’s that rice all ready and waiting for us when I want it.


Rinse the rice well.


I mean it!  Rinse it like the dirty, dirty rice it is!


Dump the rice into a pot of boiling water.  No, you don't need to measure the water out - but like pasta, have a lot of it.


Return to a boil, then cover - reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 30 minutes.


After the 30 minutes are up, strain and shake out the excess water.


Dump it back into the pot, cover it and take it off the heat.  Let it sit for 10 minutes - the remaining heat and moisture steams the rice, finishing it off.
*coughgiveawaycough*

Yum!!  All set.  What you end up with is perfectly cooked, fluffy yet chewy grains of rice.   I've tried this twice now to be sure it wasn't just a fluke, but sure enough, they came out perfectly the second time as well.

Now for an added bonus - here's how to freeze it.


For 2 servings at a time, line a sandwich sized container with plastic wrap and pack down some rice into it.
Obviously use a larger container and larger bags for more servings.


Fold it over nice and tight.
(Did I mention to come back on 4/19?)


See?  Nice and tidy.  Now toss it into the freezer as is.


When it's frozen, shove it into a plastic baggy of your choice and freeze for up to 6 months.

To re-heat, unwrap and place in a microwave safe dish with a lid.  Sprinkle about 1 tsp of water for every cup of rice.
Heat at 50% power for 1 minute, fluff with a fork and repeat as needed until rice is desired temperature.

Oh, by the way - don't forget to come check back on 4/19.

	
5 Comments »

What are your favorite salad dressing recipes?

These are my two favorite dressings.

Lemon Tahini Soy (My favorite of all time)

Tahini Dressing

 

 

 

 

 

and

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Cilantro Lime Dressing

 

 

 

 

 

What are YOURS?

11 Comments »

Chickpea Couscous Bowl

When I’m feeling down, I have a few go-to recipes.  Tonight it was my Black Bean Soup which I omitted the liquid on and just made black beans and rice.

The other night my husband chanted, “Couscous! Couscous!” when asked what he wanted. So I guess that meant I was making couscous!

I typically keep all of the ingredients on hand, so it’s almost always a “Sh*t I forgot to cook” meal.  But as a bonus, it has won over every single person who’s tried it.  It’s packed with fiber and protein, it fits into one bowl, it makes everyone happy, it’s cheap, it’s easy and best of all it’s comforting.

There are 3 key ingredients.

Better Than Bullion No Chicken Base, it’s my favorite bullion.  It literally tastes just like chicken.  And if you’re one of those vegans that says, “If you want to eat meat or have stuff taste like meat, then why did you become a vegan?” you can just find your way out. :)

Whole Wheat Couscous:

I’ve never seen this in the grocery store, but the whole wheat couscous in bulk at a health food store is cheaper than packaged couscous anyway, so why not?  If you’ve never worked with couscous – it’s easy.  Bring 1 1/2 cups water or broth to a boil (some fat optional), stir in 1 cup couscous, cover and remove from heat.  Let it set for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork, and it’s done!  I love the stuff.

And last, but not least – Blurry TVP.  But regular TVP will work as well.  TVP is Texturized Vegetable Protein.  It’s what’s leftover from soy beans when the oil has been extracted.  It’s extremely inexpensive, versatile and LOADED with protein.  I don’t use it very often, but it’s perfect in this recipe.  Use equal parts water and TVP.

So those are the 3 basic ingredients.  From there I add a can or two of Garbanzo Beans, and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.  When I have a little more time, I saute some onions and garlic first.    But that’s about it.

So here’s about how I do it.

In a small pot or saucepan, saute (optional)
1 large onion, minced
3-5 cloves garlic, minced 

Add
1 cup water
Chickpeas – 1 or two cans, your choice
About 3 cups worth of bullion – in this case 3 Tbsp

When the chickpeas are desired tenderness, add some mixed vegetables (I usually use an entire small bag).  This time, mine had corn, carrots and asparagus in it this time, but usually I use the standard variety.

Return to a boil then add TVP and cook until liquid is completely absorbed.

Meanwhile,

Bring 1 1/2 cup “chicken” broth to a boil.  Add 1 cup couscous, cover and remove from heat.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Mix the two together.

Salt to taste and serve topped with plenty of fresh ground pepper, and some Earth Balance for a nice buttery flavor.

Baby Approved

2 Comments »

Refreshing Lettuce

Have you ever had a head of lettuce that you didn’t exactly get around to using right away?  You take it out of the crisper and find that it’s anything but crisp?  It’s wilted, limp and sad.

Prior to learning this trick, I tossed my share of lettuce (and celery – the principle is the same but you can leave the celery in the water).  In these pictures I’m using green leaf lettuce (isn’t all lettuce green leaf??), which I’m really not a fan of but the produce stand was out of romaine.  It doesn’t hold up as well as romaine does (which, when using this method can last a week or more).  It also seems to die faster, it’s just not as hearty. I’ve refreshed 1 week old romaine lettuce and had it taste great – green leaf is dead slime by then.  After using this method, the green leaf lettuce lasted 3 days.

In any event, this is the method.  I suggest using this method with romaine lettuce.

You NEED a salad spinner for this.  Just go get one.  OXO brand is my favorite.  You will never buy another bag of overpriced bag lettuce.  I’ll take my $.99 cent lettuce, thank you very much!

Chop off the lettuce butt.

Pile the lettuce leaves on top of each other, and slice down the center.

Either use a long knife to cut it again into slices, or roll it up and cut it thick-chiffonade style (or shape-an-egg as my husband calls it).

Toss it into your favorite salad spinner.

Oops, that looks empty.

There, that’s better.  Now fill with ice water.  Or water and ice which turns into ice water!  We have a handy, dandy water cooler I use.

Swish it around like you’re washing it because, well, you ARE.

Now go cuddle for a bit with your the loves of your life.   Or if you are sad and lonely, poor yourself a glass of wine.

Or clean.

Or watch TV.

I’m flexible like that.  Be creative with this portion of the recipe.

Now drain the water.  The conveniently located (under the lettuce) salad spinner basket helps with that.

Then spin away.

When you’re done spinning, the lettuce will be moist, but not wet.  Romaine – I pack away moist.  I’m kind of inclined to suggest eating green leaf right away.

So there you  have it.

3 Comments »

Grieving

I don’t generally talk about my personal life on my blog.  Typically it’s a little bit of an escape for me.  But lately, the overwhelming sadness has taken over our lives.    I haven’t actually cooked much of anything in weeks, other than just plain vegetables so I’ve been trying to spread out the recipes I’ve made as much as possible.

So I’m not sure exactly why I’m typing this now.  But here it is.  A cry to the universe for some answers or the tiniest sprinkle of peace.

Also, I ask for your forgiveness in advance for the potentially morbid future posts.

~

9 months ago a little man came into our lives.

That was the day after we met him.  Cute, isn’t he?  Well, we think he is.

The funny thing is, I didn’t want kids.  I was horribly abused as a child by people that were supposed to love me, and I was afraid I didn’t have the capacity the love a child.  But when we walked into the trailer he was living in, my entire world turned upside down and inside out.  I fell instantly and unequivocally head over heals in love with him.

We were asked to bring him home and raise him as our own.  Not really sure what to do or think other than that he needed a home and that he didn’t even recognize his own mother and she didn’t want anything to do with him, we did.  We bought him his first crib, and he’s been with us ever since.

A number of months passed and his mother never once asked after him.  Never contacted us.  We tried to get medical release papers, every person in the family asked, and she couldn’t seem to make time for it.  Until she needed money, then she asked for some in exchange for giving us the ability to take her son to the doctor and get him the shots he never got, and the checkup he hadn’t had since he was born.   After we said no, we didn’t hear from her again.  And nobody could get in touch with her.

My whole family was supporting us, “Let her hang herself,” they told us – meaning not to call DCF until she had no chance whatsoever of getting him back.  They didn’t want him going back to her.  After all, she smoked pot in the same room as him, she smoked in the house with him, she let him eat a cigarette butt and laughed it off.    And we could count on one hand the number of times he’d been OUTSIDE.

We just wanted to do what was right for him.

When we finally called DCF, she decided to perk right up and suddenly be interested.  Oh?  Interested now that someone is looking?  Where were you the past how many months when we needed to take him to the doctor?

She got her case plan in November and has been following it.  APPARENTLY taking a bus to parenting classes shows dedication.  

We are the ones that have stayed up all night with him when he was sick/teething.

We are the ones that comforted him through the pain of his first tooth.

My husband is the one he took his first steps to.

He ran for the first time to me.

We got him his first book.

We got him his first crib.

We took him to the library for the first time.

And to this day, he still doesn’t recognize his “mother.”   He still reaches back for us when we take him to visitations.  He squeals and runs to us from her when we go to pick him up.

But we’re not his biological mother.  We have no rights.  Nevermind the fact that he doesn’t KNOW her despite weekly visits and the fact that he supposedly “needs his mother.”

We’re nothing, other than a place holder in his life.  Could we get a lawyer?  Maybe.  For what?  To lose thousands of dollars that we don’t have on a situation we never had a hope to win.

After all, Florida is about “keeping families together.”  At all costs, especially the child – the one the “system” is supposed to protect.  And we have absolutely no recourse.  We’ve offered to adopt him, but nobody cares – the mother is the one that has all the rights.  We’re essentially just foster parents.

We have learned that children are possessions and that while we’ve been fighting to love and protect this little person, while the court has been trying to return property to the original owner.

He’s our world.  He’s our heart.  He’s everything we never wanted or expected in our lives.

We KNEW from the beginning that we would be hurt.  We chose to love him with our whole hearts, not holding back for one moment because we knew he deserved better.  We knew a day might come when he’d go back to a home where he’s note even wanted, much less loved.

What we didn’t know is that our whole family would turn against us once we called DCF, and that I would end up along except my husband and the family I married into (and love very much).

What we also didn’t know, is just how much this would hurt.

We’ve been living for months with this hanging over our heads.  We knew for a while we’d be losing him soon, but we have been trying to live every day in the moment as much as possible.  We’ve been hanging onto some small sense of false hope that the stars would align themselves and protect him from this trauma…. of being pulled away from the people he knows as his parents to be given back to a girl he doesn’t know, that doesn’t know him, that abandoned him.  

But the fact of the matter is, we’re losing him.  And the time is almost here.   Less than 3 months to go.  In just a few short weeks he starts overnight visits.  No, she doesn’t have a roof for him, but my also-abusive aunt (remember the one that told us to let her hang herself so she’d never get him back) does, and that’s good enough for DCF.

Working, taking care of a child, and trying to keep your head just above the most earth shattering depression is more difficult than it sounds.  We know we have to be strong for him, and thankfully when he’s near us we are blessed with near super-human strength.  

But the moment he’s out of our sight, the tears flow and our just-barely-glued-together hearts crumble, heavy with the knowledge that after court on 6-20, we will see him walk away from us for the last time.

Support and love welcomed.  Questions are not.

21 Comments »

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