Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good:
Oprah and staff are going vegan for a week (or more, we'll see)!  Show airs Tuesday, Feb. 1st, 2011. 
Her choice of Michael Pollan as a panelist sort of makes me think she is looking for validation to keep eating animal products.  He isn't vegan friendly and has never been vegan (to my knowledge) so it doesn't make much sense why he is featured on her "going vegan" show unless she still wants to eat meat.  There are SO many other much better choices for cool vegan friendly guests: Jonathan Safran Foer, Dr. Neil Barnard, Erik Marcus, Bryanna Clark Grogan, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the list is a long one. Oh well, at least Kathy Freston will be there, too.  Still goes in the "good" category.  As a side note, I'd like to see a pay-per-view cage match between Erik Marcus and Michael Pollan. Really.

The Bad:
     The USDA (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) allows Monsanto (THE DEVIL) total deregulation of the use of GE (genetically engineered) alfalfa seeds. Our favorite organics, Organic Valley and Stonyfield as well as Whole Foods Market totally cave, openly supporting this policy.
     These are corporations who spent years creating a trustworthy image among organic consumers.  Actually, I don't buy Organic Valley or Stonyfield products since they are all animal based (anymore, I did when I was an omni, and I'm sure some of you do, too) and I don't shop WFM because it is so expensive and Wegmans is superior. However, I know many of us still trust these organic, coporate giants to do the right thing.  And they are NOT.  They are in bed with the USDA (WFM and OV's CEOs are personal friends with USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsak, apparently) and none of them are willing to do battle with the giant of the seed industry, Monsanto.
     The GE "Roundup Ready" alfalfa, for example, is "guaranteed to spread its mutant genes and seeds across the nation; guaranteed to contaminate the alfalfa fed to organic animals; guaranteed to lead to massive poisoning of farm workers and destruction of the essential soil food web by the toxic herbicide, Roundup; and guaranteed to produce Roundup-resistant superweeds that will require even more deadly herbicides such as 2,4 D to be sprayed on millions of acres of alfalfa across the U.S. [organic consumers article below]"  OMG.  If you haven't heard of how horrendous Monsanto is, check out the film Food, Inc..

Articles:  I wasn't aware of this organization until now (thanks, cuz!).  Check out their home page for more articles on Monsanto and other pertinent organic food related issues.  Subscribe to their e-newsletter if you are interested.  Erik Marcus posted this article today. 

The Ugly:
I didn't get to attend any fun Vegan Pizza Day events (long story) but I did make this Ugly Vegan Pizza to show you! It is just a whole wheat pita with marinara sauce, nutritional yeast, dried basil, roasted peppers & onions and Daiya mozzarella.  It was really tasty.  I am feelin' the Daiya now, ya know?  I wasn't really feelin' it before, but something about it now, it was really really good.

            Have a great week!  Let me know if any of you catch the Oprah show, email John Mackey (the CEO of Whole Foods) or make a vegan pizza.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vegan Pizza Day Approacheth!

Now, I use any excuse to eat pizza, so this works for me.  Saturday, Jan. 29th is Vegan Pizza Day!

I've been mentioning a bunch of resources on how to consume pizza, vegan style, in some of my other posts, so I will recount those for you and hook you guys up with great VPD resources!

More info on Vegan Pizza Day:

Vance Lehmkuhl's article (Philadelphia Daily News):

Blackbird Pizza (6th and Lombard):

Another Philly shout-out (older PW article): Grindcore House (and Blackbird) opened up right after I moved out of Pennsport! Bah! It's okay, I still plan to make it over to both establishments soon.  I'm still within 10 miles!
Great podcast by Vance Lehmkuhl: #93 is about Grindcore house, Blackbird and the PW article!

Now for more info on pizza itself:
Tony's pizza in Haddonfield is my favorite delivery pizza.  They are located at 419 Haddon Ave, and their number is 856-795-4200,  This one is a tomato pie with eggplant, roasted peppers and sliced tomatoes on an amazing whole wheat crust!

I also use my Cashew Ricotta on top of tomato pie, which I love to get with spinach:

I personally prefer tomato pie with veggies and tofu or cashew ricotta to those with vegan cheese (though Daiya is the best one produced so far, in my opinion, and it is what they use at Blackbird).

Most pizza places will do a tomato pie with any veggie toppings you like, and many have whole wheat (my now go-to favorite) or gluten free crusts for those of you who don't tolerate gluten.

My other favorite South Jersey pizza joint is Vito's in Cherry Hill. 
Vito's is located at 561 Browning Lane Cherry Hill, NJ 08003.  Their number is (856) 429-9244.  They also make a killer tomato pie.  You have to pick up from there, but it is worth the trip.

Need another reason to eat vegan pizza?? More problems with factory farmed dairy products (milk, cheese, etc.). Juiced up cows.  [Thanks to Erik Marcus of for posting his reaction to this article].

Kay, guys, time for me to go play in the snow.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Mid-Week Conversation

So, it's funny. I've been reading a few of PETA's status updates occasionally (on facebook, of course) and the fights that break out over what starts out as the most benign stuff is really amusing.  I got involved in one a couple weeks ago on "Fashion Friday," and it got nasty between some of the folks.  Much of the dialogue (in the form of FB comments, of course) has been totally erased.  Nearly half the comments for the post (it was up to about 300 when I stopped following it, it has been edited down to 150). Thought it would be fun to break it down for y'all:

Peta's status post: "Check us out, we are hot!" (hot, young female staff pictured wearing leather looking boots)

FB1: you guys look amazing!

FB2: so hot! Great outfits.

FB3: yeah, I wish I looked like that!

Slaughterpuppy: Die, Vegans! I am going to eat a huge steak covered in blood, just like your boots!

FB4: Oh, you guys look so great, where are the boots from? Are they leather?

Iluvanimlz: @ Slaughterpuppy, um, what is your problem? The boots are synthetic, cruelty free leather.

FB6: How cool!

KillEverything: I love to rape cows. And then slaughter them and eat them.

Slaughterpuppy: (essentially) My problem is you stupid vegans. (And that is why I love to argue on PETA's FB page)

Vegan7: Get campylobacter, Slaughterpuppy!

Iluvanimlz: E. Coli for Slaughterpuppy.  Can someone have him removed?
(one like)

Slaughterpuppy: Get raped, Iluvanimals (This is a direct quote. No joke. Obviously it was removed later).

FB8,9,10, etc.: Oh, pretty! and, I wish I had that and I love PETA you guys rock, etc. completely ignoring arrestable exchange perpetrated by Slaughterpuppy.

FB11: A rant about something either pro or anti-animal related. A few.

Offtheedge: I can't even believe anyone at PETA would wear anything that looked like dead animals. Disgusting! (several versions of this, by several different folks)

GoodE2Shoes: Why does this page have more "likes" than the Rhino page?

Annoyer200: Nice leather boots.

VF: So, throw everything not vegan (all leather products in the whole world, including all of those being used by lots of people, every day) into a landfill?

FB50, 67, 201:  (to the tune of) Are those leather boots? WTF Peta!

KillEverything: I'd eat a rhino.  In fact, I'm eating one now.  And I'm wearing leather boots.

The End.
And with that, have a tolerable rest of your week.  Ta ta for now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Week (or so) in VF's Kitchen

I thought I would share what I've been cooking over the last week or so.  I couldn't really decide what recipes to post, so here is a photo-essay of some of the dishes I made recently.

Last weekend, I didn't feel like cooking anything complicated.  My husband roasted some beets and I made a salad with walnuts, pears, olives and arugula.  I think the dressing was a olive oil, shallots and capers, but can't be sure.  I don't think I see any capers, do you?

For an easy dinner one night I sauteed some chick peas on top of the stove (as opposed to roasting them in the oven) in olive oil, a little smoked paprika, salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of tomato paste.  Then I took them out and sauteed some Swiss Chard in a few more garlic cloves.   I put it all back together in the same pan, boiled up some pasta shells, and sauteed everything together for a minute or two:

 One night, my hubby made dinner (he is an excellent cook).  He whipped up a "beefy" mushroom soup with Israeli couscous and parsley:  That "Better Than Bouillon" stuff is great.  We used the mock-beef broth for this.  It is called "No Beef" Beef Base. :-)

It was so good I made him write down his recipe for it.

And, let's see, I was really craving desserts, so I made the oatmeal cookies from The Joy of Vegan Baking with a few modifications.  They were truly astounding.  All the recipes I've made so far from that book have literally been the best baked goodies I've ever had. 

I was inspired by what I had in the fridge one night and wanted cauliflower, so I made a Monster Plant-Protein Packed "Gratin" with Cauliflower, Edamame and Chick Peas (yes, more chick peas, my son made me open a can of them for a snack and I had the whole can left, basically).  The "cheese" is a vegan (of course) nutritional yeast sauce that was great and easy.  Here's the pic:

It was delicious.  I served it with rice pilaf with tiny currants in it.  My son dogged it.

Then, I was inspired to bake a bunch of stuff I had into a pie.
It is an Almond Quiche with Caramelized Onions:

And I just had to try my cookbook by Bryanna Clark Grogan, Nonna's Italian Kitchen for some vegan biscotti.  I made the classic almond ones.  Top photo shows some with nuts (the cookies on the top of the screen, a few without are in that container, too.  Bottom shows ones without nuts, for my son who loves nuts but doesn't like them in things!

Because I made biscotti instead of dinner, I ordered a vegan pizza from a great place that delivers.  This time my husband remembered that we had wanted to try their whole wheat crust, so, I got it and it was GREAT.  I will never get a "regular" crust again.  There are roasted peppers, eggplant and sliced tomatoes on a tomato pie.  I just can't get the picture to upload, I'll try again later.  The place is Tony's in Haddonfield on Haddon Ave.  Their number is 856-795-4200.  Try their tomato pie with whole wheat crust.  Get some veggies on top.  It rules.

OK, that's it for now.  Enjoy your week.  Let me know if you'd like to see recipes for any of these things (the ones that are cookbook recipes I can't post, of course, but highly highly recommend those cookbooks).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Honey-Soy Soba Noodle Salad with Perfectly Cooked Green Beans & Broccoli

So, I have a lot of things I wanted to blog but had a very busy week (in a non-productive way, annoying work related stuff that I shouldn't have had to do taking up a ton of time).  But, today I made a noodle salad (with amazing greens on the side) for lunch that I have been meaning to make since the spring.  It is the perfect balance of sweet/salty, cold/warm, crunchy/soft.  The noodle salad is a recipe from one of the dads at our old preschool/day care center that he brought to our classroom's potluck. It's been sitting in my email since Memorial Day. The dressing recipe proportions and ingredients are the same, I didn't have a lot of the salad ingredients, so I just left them out (but the salad is AWESOME with the cilantro and chopped scallions, so use 'em if you've got 'em).  The perfectly cooked broccoli-green bean saute is my own recipe.  Heads-up, you are going to make your dressing while the water for your noodles is coming to a boil.  If you are fast in the kitchen, you can also chop your veggies and garlic, prepping your saute if you have more time.

Make the Soba Noodles:
Use a whole package (the package I get has 10.58 ounces) of soba (buckwheat) noodles.  You can use the fancy ones made with yam as well, they are great.  Tony only used 8 ounces of noodles for the dressing recipe above, but I found that a little "too saucy" as Larry David likes to say.  You can also use spaghettini, vermicelli, glass rice noodles or angel hair noodles.

You just boil them for 5 minutes, drain, and rinse immediately with cold water until they are room temperature or a little cooler.  Toss in a large bowl with all of the sauce (recipe below. You will prepare it while your water is coming to a boil and your noodles are cooking)  Chill, covered in your fridge for at least an hour.  Don't know when they get soggy, you might be okay to even leave them overnight.

Make the Honey Soy Dressing
1/4 cup oil (I used 3 tablespoons olive oil & 1 tablespoon canola oil, I think any oils would be fine)
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper or chili powder
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used one tablespoon Bragg's Amino Acids and one tablespoon of organic tamari)

Put the 1/4 cup oil plus red pepper in a one-cup Pyrex measuring cup and microwave for about a minute or so just to warm it (you need it to be a bit warm to dissolve the honey you are going to add).  Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk a bit to combine.  It doesn't have to be emulsified, just thoroughly combined. 

OK, now you are going to...

Make The Perfectly Cooked Veggies:
2 heads of broccoli, chopped into florets
A bunch of green beans (about the volume of a cantaloupe. Sorry, don't know how many cups that is) with the ends snapped off.
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil (or olive oil/canola oil combo)
3 tablespoons of water
*1/2 tablespoon Bragg's Liquid Aminos
*1/2 tablespoon Organic Tamari
*If you don't have Bragg's or Tamari, you can just use 1 tablespoon of regular soy sauce.

These are just the veggies I had in the fridge.  You can use whatever you have on hand.  Adjust the cooking time appropriately if you are using different veggies.

Prep: Chop your broccoli and snap the ends off of your green beans.  Mince your garlic and set aside.  In a one-cup measuring cup (you can use the same one from the noodle dressing, no prob) or just a little bowl, measure out your water and the soy sauce or Braggs/Tamari combo and whisk a bit to combine.  It is 1/4 cup liquid total, which is why I like to use the measuring cup.

Cook: Warm the olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat (you could use stainless if you are careful not to burn the garlic) and saute the garlic and salt for about a minute to two minutes tops (do NOT burn it! Do not multi-task while sauteing garlic EVER EVER EVER. It goes from not burnt to totally burnt in seconds flat).  Set  a timer if you think you will lose your focus with the garlic :-). Add all the veggies and stir to coat.  Increase the heat to medium.  Saute about one minute.  Then add the 1/4 cup of liquid to the pan, stir to coat again and cover.  Cook a total of 10 minutes, taking the cover off and stirring it about every 3 minutes or so (stir 2-3 times total during the cooking time). 

Once the noodle salad is cooled and you are ready to serve it, you are going to add these toppings:
1/4 to 1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped
1-2 Tablespoons of toasted (or not) sesame seeds
*1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
*1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions/scallions
*1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
*I didn't have these ingredients, so I just used the cashews and the (un-toasted) sesame seeds and it is still great.

I served the noodle salad cold and the veggies warm.  It worked great for texture and temperature contrast in this dish. 

You could also add (pressed and drained) extra firm or firm tofu cubes, cooked chick peas or cooked, shelled edamame or any other veggies you have on hand.  I think raw, thinly sliced or julienned carrots would be great as well, as would kale or Swiss chard as the greens on the side.

Here is the final product:

Oh, and this actually has plenty of protein for you folks worried about that.  You can pack more in if you add the cubed tofu or beans, too.

Enjoy and have a great weekend (it is a cold one here!).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cashew Ricotta In Action!

So, now you have made a nice container of Cashew Ricotta from my last post, but what to do with it now?

Here are some ideas.  Instead of posting formal recipes, I just bolded the ingredients and typed away.  Please let me know what you think of this style, is it as usable as the "listing" style with ingredients separated? Curious.

I made some some roasted fennel and asparagus that I happened to have in my fridge.  I roasted them in the oven w/ olive oil, salt & pepper (oven at about 400 or a little hotter for about 20-25 minutes).  You could also do carrots, parsnips, potatoes or whatever else you like.  Stir/turn them once about half-way through the baking time. Here are the fennel & asparagus:

Roasted asparagus & fennel.  So easy, guys.

Now, you could just cut up the veggies and put a tablespoon or more of the ricotta on them, stir it up, letting the ricotta "melt" into the warm veggies and snack away,

Or, you could boil up some pasta, any shape or size, and just mix some of the ricotta into it while it is still warm (or even use cold leftover pasta from the fridge and microwave it with some of the ricotta and a little olive oil and just mix it).   I made my son some using the microwaving leftover pasta method, and he ate THREE bowls. Ratio was about 1 cup of cooked pasta to about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta. I put the roasted fennel & asparagus in mine:

Then, with the SAME batch of ricotta (I still had tons) I made eggplant & zucchini "Parmesan." Peel one eggplant, cut on a bias (or just into rounds) and put it in a colander covered with Kosher salt for 30-60 minutes to suck out some of the bitterness.  In the meantime, peel 3 small zucchinis and slice them up.  Oil a 9x13 Pyrex pan or aluminum baking dish.  Rinse the eggplant slices in cold water once they are done (you will see that the eggplant looks wet/moist because the salt draws out the water from the eggplant) and pat dry. Now, just layer the eggplant with the cashew ricotta (smoosh some ricotta onto a piece of eggplant with a spoon) and stick the zucchini on top of the ricotta.  Here are pics:

You have a lot of zucchini left, right?  Now you "glue" them on top of the other zucchinis/eggplant.  I was using the rest of the zucchini as little chips and "scooping" up a bit of ricotta from the container and then "gluing" them onto the eggplant and the other zucchinis.  A little like an arts & crafts project, fun! Like this:

You can make a recipe of my quick marinara sauce as follows: In a large, stainless saucepan, I just sauteed two chopped carrots (for fun) in some oil, added about 1 1/2 tsp of dried oregano and salt & pepper, sauteed about 7 minutes total.  Then add two chopped cloves of garlic and saute one to two minutes more (don't burn it!).  Go ahead and add one 28 ounce can of organic, chopped tomatoes. a tablespoon (or more if you like it) of nutritional yeast in it to add body and 2-3 tablespoons of the ricotta in it to add flavor and "cheesiness."   Simmer about 20-30 minutes.  Guess what?  If you only cook it for five minutes it will still be great!  You could also (gasp!) just use a jarred sauce as well, just make sure it is a good, organic brand.  Add the nutritional yeast and the ricotta to the jarred sauce and I'm sure it will be pretty good.  Pour the sauce over the eggplant and zucchini like so:

I put some breadcrumbs on top, too.  Now, if you like, add some Daiya cheese (mozzarella kind):

Now, bake at 375 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until cheese is melted and it is hot & bubbling.  Stick a fork in it to test the eggplant/zucchini for doneness.  It will be soft, fork will pierce right through.

                                                                          Yummers! Serve over linguine, like so:

I think I'll get me some right now, I'm starving!  Guys, have fun using your Cashew Ricotta, I know I did!

BTW, I got me a new cookbook, The 30 Minute Vegan and made the coconut-lime banana bread to bring to a friend's house today.  It is AMAZING (but, um, took like an hour and not 30 minutes, but that is what I expected for a recipe like this).  Here is a picture of it:

The glaze didn't dry yet, so it looks goopy in the center, but it was great!  The authors of that book live in Hawaii, so a lot of the recipes seem to have coconut oil and macadamia nuts in them :-) no nuts in this one, just coconut (oil & shredded).  Get out the paddles of the defibber, it's worth it! Thank goodness for my friends who served a yummy vegan tofu scramble and vegan bran muffins for brunch today, we needed the detox after this guy!

Questions, comments, etc. are all welcome!  As usual, my FB friends, I'll answer anything you'd like there as well.

Have a great weekend! Dawn

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cashew Ricotta, No one will know!

Stock Your Pantry Episode Seven: Raw Cashews Take the Stage!

Raw cashews are used very frequently in vegan cooking to make things creamier, including sauces and baked goods.  Get a nice big bag of them and keep them right in the freezer to preserve them.  I keep my bag of raw cashews in the freezer and just use them right out of the freezer without thawing them in recipes.  It works just fine! 

This is one of those plant-based substitutes for a popular animal food that most will agree actually tastes better than the animal product version.  Awesome!  And it is so easy.  My version is based on the one in Veganomicon, actually I sort of combined the Tofu Ricotta and Cashew Ricotta recipes into one!  I put Vcon's original recipe for Cashew Ricotta instruction below.  Recipe variation noted with the *.

I go lighter on the cashews and oil (using the water from the undrained/unpressed tofu as a sub for the extra oil as Isa does in her Tofu Ricotta). 

Vegan Fazool Does Veganomicon, Tofu-Cashew Ricotta!

¼ cup raw cashews *                                                                            
2 cloves of garlic
1 pound extra firm tofu, crumbled (but NOT pressed or drained)*      
Juice from ½ a lemon
¼ cup fresh parsley or basil  *                           
1 tsp Kosher salt*                
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tsp. olive oil  *                                             

Process cashews and garlic together in a food processor until nuts are in a fine crumb.  Crumble tofu into processor and add the rest of the ingredients.  Process until smooth.  It will look exactly like the real thing.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.  Scoop out into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. You can make this ahead and I’m sure it lasts a while in the fridge. I make it the day before or the morning of to save time.  Done!

Here are the ingredients for the original Veganomicon Cashew Ricotta, which I made tonight:

    I used Kosher salt, not regular iodized as pictured. 

*original calls for 1/2 cup cashews, draining the tofu, 1 1/2 tsp dried basil instead of fresh parsley, 1 1/2 tsp of salt and 2 tablespoons of oil.  Veganomicon's instructions for the original Cashew Ricotta: Process cashews, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic until a thick, creamy paste forms.  Add the crumbled tofu and process until it is thick and well blended.  Blend in basil and salt.  VCon's is thicker, richer and a bit saltier than the hybrid version I make, but also amazing and works very well when you want a richer taste or are using it for a special occasion. 

Either way, it will look something like this:

You can use the ricotta in your baked ziti, your stuffed shells, on top of your vegan pizza, etc. etc.  I can also post my recipe for baked ziti using my version of the ricotta, with quick spinach marinara sauce, it is to DIE for!

Anyway, I also use this just on top of vegan take-out pizza.  Order a tomato pie with whatever, and just stick scoops of this on top, OMG.

Hope you guys enjoy this one.  It is SO easy and fast.  Try it right now!  If you don't have a food processor, then just make my hybrid version of it and leave out the cashews (which would be really close to Isa's tofu ricotta).  Blend up the tofu by hand and "squish" it with your fingers to get the right consistency (this is actually how Isa does her tofu ricotta, she doesn't use the food processor).


Vegan stuff in the news

Veganism is getting a lot of press lately, thought you guys might be interested to see a few of the articles that have been posted by the vegan pros.  This article from The Atlantic comes to us courtesy of VegNews' post on FB

Also, the most recent beef recall:  This is Erik's page from, but the link to the recall is at the end of his article.  Check out the cartoon lady.  If you have questions about food safety, just give that cartoon lady a call and she'll take care of it.

PETA's recent article generated something like over 300 comments on FB:

Erik Marcus of posted this article a few days ago about 1 million pigs being buried alive due to a foot & mouth outbreak, omg:,_Mass_Criticism

And in another link from Erik, an interesting story about the vegan cheese everyone loves, Daiya!

Guys, I am working on a new recipe post, hang in there!

Have a great day, Dawn

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dawn's Unsolicited Advice

Dawn’s Fave Vegan Resources, Tips, Tricks & Unsolicited Advice:

Guys, here is a post about some of my favorite vegan stuff, cookbooks, blogs, websites and the like.  This is not a comprehensive list by far, just some highlights.  I am going to just type until I get tired and then post it.  I can always answer any specific questions right here on the blog or on facebook if that is easier.  Don’t be afraid to post to the blog, folks.  No worries.  Okay, here we go in no particular order:

Get one or two cookbooks you think look really fun and fit your cooking style.  If you consider yourself a “foodie” and already love to cook, then go with something a little more sophisticated, if not go with something more basic.  Go hog (or saag ;-) wild on amazon shopping for cookbooks, but visit first so that they get some kick-back.  Actually Erik breaks down some more “basic” cookbooks and some more “advanced” ones for you already:  I already liked to cook and had been cooking for years so I wanted to start with the more “advanced” books as they got me all worked up and excited about making impressive vegan stuff first time out of the gate.  And it was totally fine for me, but if you aren’t comfortable, go with some of the Erik’s basic choices!

Here is a list of my vegan cookbook collection to date and why I like each one.  I only have seven, so don’t worry J :

Three by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero:
Veganomicon Great for basics (nice chapters at the beginning, pantry items, “how to cook a vegetable” and “how to cook a bean” chapters are great) as well as for advanced/gourmet vegan entrees, snacks, sandwiches, desserts, etc.!
 Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World Because, um, there are vegan cupcakes to be baked!
Vegan Brunch I love to make brunch/big breakfasts on Saturday and/or Sunday, and this fit the bill.  Have made and loved the pancakes, banana flapjacks, tempeh bacon, waffles, homemade vegan sausages, tofu scramble, vegan quiche, and probably a bunch more, and they are all amazing.
All their books are great, but hey, I’m no millionaire.

On recommendation from Isa, I also got:
The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld. Gourmet stuff, here! Made the carrot-ginger soup with lemongrass stock from this book and it was amazing.

Because I LOVE baking and eating baked goods: The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.  This is actually one of the best baking books I have ever read.  She is incredibly detailed in a helpful way, troubleshoots every possible baking problem with specific advice for how to fix cookies, yeast breads, cakes, etc. etc.  Great. Oh, and great recipes!

And yes, I am 50% Italian and sort of speak Italian, so needed this: Nonna’s Italian Kitchen: Homestyle Vegan Cuisine. Bryanna is serious, dude, so don’t mess with her.  She knows her stuff and can kill anyone in an iron chef battle.

And 50% American, so I needed this: American Vegan Kitchen by Tamasin Noyes.  Get this one if you are telling me that your husband is the one who doesn’t want to eat vegetables J

Now let’s talk about web resources.  See those blogs posted in the right hand column of this blog? Yeah, I actually read those.  And a LOT of other ones.  Blogs are so much fun and folks are so generous with their time and free information. They are one of the most amazing aspects of the modern internet, in my opinion. 

You can get updated information by subscribing to blogs or “friending” these guys on facebook or tweetering them on twitter.  For those of you just entering the blogosphere, note that often websites and blogs have different content, you should check out both to see what suits your needs.  I always do both. And you’re already not surprised.

Cook along with Isa & Terry in The Post-Punk Kitchen, both the website and the blog are awesome resources for all things vegan cooking & baking.  They have a friendly and welcoming punk-rock tone.  

Susan of the FatFree Vegan Kitchen, at is a wonder.  I have made a surprising amount of her recipes, including her pumpkin pie cheesecake for Thanksgiving this year and it was amazing:  That one is definitely not fat free, though! Thank goodness!

The Betty Crocker Project is a vegan version of Julie&Julia.  The Shannons are so cute! 

In case you haven't noticed, vegans tend to be unique folks, myself probably included (you can tell me the truth, guys.).  Vegans tend toward the anarchistic, pro-punk rock, do-it-yourself, anti-establishment and paradigm shifting type.  Just like in all walks of life, some vegan folks are irreverent, naughty and hysterically funny.  Some are serious, focused, true animal welfare advocates or environmentalists with no tolerance for part-time vegans, vegetarians or the new breed, the “flexitarian.” They aren’t mutually exclusive, but Lindy Loo is that hysterically funny, irreverent vegan.  She doesn’t seem to post a lot, but her posts are really funny.  And her mock tuna salad kicks a**.

One of the first blogs I subscribed to was  Sometimes irreverent and sometimes serious, Claryn seems to have gotten more serious over the past year.  Maybe she is getting older.  Here is the first recipe I made from her blog, and it is a great one.  I’ll probably repost the link over the summer when zucchinis are taking over your CSA box:  

Want to delve into the issues? Visit for serious vegan activism, article posts, reviews, great book lists as well as links to vegan resources.  Heads-up, Erik makes no apologies for doing everything 100%, he is a dedicated vegan so don’t be put off by his direct tone.  He’s got a LOT of great info and you will learn a lot from him.

Oh, and films, there are a lot of great documentaries out there about the food/meat industry.  If you haven't already seen them, try Super Size Me and Food, Inc. for starters.  There is also a new documentary coming out that looks great, called Vegucated, here is the film's website, where you can see the brand new trailer they just completed: and you can follow them on both FB and Twitter.  Looking like Spring, 2011 for the film release! Looking forward to that.

Always great for amazing photos and links up to the appropriate blog:

Oh, and this was a useful find, lists a lot of vegan/veggie faux meat products:   You can subscribe to that blog, as well!

I should have been in bed two hours ago, but this was worth it.  Hope this helps some of you to experience the vegan world with a little more confidence.


P.S. I forgot one of my favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant New Classics.  It is a nice big cookbook and is vegetarian/pescatarian, I had it before we went vegan, but has a LOT of vegan recipes and many that are easily made vegan.  Also, I forgot Cooking the Whole Foods Way by Phily peep Christina Pirello.  Uber healthy and fun vegan fare.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Your New Friend Nutritional Yeast, i.e. Awesome Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo

Stock Your Pantry, Episode Five: Nutritional Yeast is FRIEND not FOE!

*Do NOT fear Nutritional yeast.  I was literally afraid to use it more than sparingly, I was afraid it would taste funny or something, until like two months ago.  And thank goodness I conquered my fear because nutritional yeast, even in larger quantities, is AWESOME.  It is deactivated yeast, in either sort of flaky or powder form (looks like cornmeal).  Comes in a shaker (Red Star brand) or you can buy it in bulk in your health food store.  It is a great nutritional supplement found in many vegetarian and vegan dishes, low in sodium and fat, and very high in protein and B vitamins. The flavor and aroma are nutty and slightly salty, making it ideal in place of sprinkled cheese. It can also be used to make gravies and sauces. It is often my "secret" ingredient that people can't quite put their finger on, but the food tastes great.  It's called "nooch" by vegans/vegetarians in the know.

Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo with “Shrimp,” Peas & Tomatoes

So, before Christmas I made this dish (minus the “shrimp” and peas, and plus broccoli).  It was amazing. I make a whole pound of pasta with the appropriate amount of sauce You can half the recipe easily if you’d like, or if you are only cooking for one person or two not so hungry people J.

One pound (one box) fettuccine noodles, preferably DeCecco brand.
3 ½  cups  plain, unflavored soy milk (My new fave is Westsoy Organic Unflavored)
1 tsp soy sauce or Tamari (I always use organic Tamari)
5 cloves garlic, 2 chopped or pressed, 3 just smashed with the flat side of a knife.
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried sweet basil
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2-3 tablespoons non-dairy butter like Earth Balance
1 tsp to 1 tablespoon tomato paste (you can leave it out if you want, no biggie)
3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast* Here is your new pantry item! 
1/8-1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper if you want it a little spicy
salt and pepper to taste

½ to 1 cup frozen peas or 1-2 cups fresh chopped broccoli florets
1 package frozen vegan “shrimp,” defrosted
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped

In a large, microwaveable 4 cup measuring cup, add the milk through basil.  Stir a bit to mix.  Microwave just to get the milk & herbs/garlic mixture warm.  It’s fine if it gets hot or whatever, nothing will happen.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for your fettuccine.  In the meantime, make the sauce:

In a large, stainless steel sauce pan, melt your non-dairy butter over medium heat and add flour, whisking to form a roux (in other words, a smooth paste).  Cook the roux for about 1-2 minutes (this is in the French style, some say don’t cook the roux, some say do, I say do!)  While whisking, gradually pour the soy milk mixture into the sauce pan and continue to whisk.  Once all the milk is added, keep whisking until the mixture thickens, about 5-10 minutes.  Add the nutritional yeast about 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking it to incorporate between additions.  The nutritional yeast will thicken it a lot, so don’t worry!  Add cayenne (if you want it spicy) and continue to whisk until sauce is thickened (it will be pretty thick, like will definitely coat your spoon, think of a nice, thick restaurant cream sauce). Add the tomato paste and whisk it some more.  Be sure to taste for seasoning at this point. Add whatever you feel it needs.  Remove the bay leaves, but leave in the garlic cloves.  Add the peas and the defrosted shrimp and stir to heat everything through while you are cooking your pasta, about 8 minutes.

Your pasta water should be ready now.  Salt it well and add the pasta.  Boil 8 minutes (for DeCecco fettuccine) If you are doing the fresh broccoli version, try this: boil pasta for 3 minutes, then add chopped broccoli florets to the water with the pasta for the rest of the cooking time (5 more minutes). Drain everything together at the 8 minute mark. A great technique. Fun! 

Using your long cooking tongs, add cooked and drained pasta gently to your big pot o’ sauce.  Use tongs to stir to coat.  Now you have Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo w/ Vegan Shrimp & Peas (or a big bowl o’ awesome).

A note on the vegan frozen “shrimp.” I got these guys, called, "Healthy Food," from a huge Asian market in Cherry Hill, NJ right on route 70.  About 5 min from my house.  I’m sure all the big Asian markets carry some brand of vegan shrimp.  Here is a picture of the empty package of the shrimp in case anyone is going to that store:

Don't forget to CHECK THE LABEL.  The last time I got lizardfish in my edamame dumplings (if you follow me on Facebook, well, you already know about this).  Here is a link to his lovely visage:  Just scroll down to see him. OMG. 
Ok, guys enjoy your pasta.  And, have some of these guys for dessert!

These are sugar cookies from The Joy of Vegan Baking.  OMG.  I think I ate like seven of them today :-!

Have a great Friday and enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Who wants to lose weight without exercise? A LOT of weight?

If you are overweight and would like to lose some of it (potentially quite a lot of weight) without exercise, resolve digestive issues (you probably don't know how many digestive problems you have right now), lower your cholesterol, better manage diabetes, decrease arthritis pain, or just look hotter, go vegan.  If you still eat cheese, eggs, yogurt, butter or other dairy or animal products, though you just won't see results in these areas, so if you want the best health benefits, you must go vegan (or mostly vegan).  You can start with one day a week or just GO FOR IT whole hog, cold tofurky ;-).  You will also drastically improve your carbon footprint, save hundreds, maybe even thousands of animals from suffering a painful and disgusting life and death, and save yourself from at least some of the increasing number of e. coli infested animal products out there (and be careful of the e.coli infested plant products, too ;-) Use a CSA or your farmer's market for produce, guys.  You needn't eat animal products at all to be perfectly healthy, though many myths abound about this.  If you are 100% vegan, make sure you take a B-12 supplement (or eat B-12 enriched foods, many many vegan foods are B-12 enriched, anyway).  For more nutritional information on eating a vegan diet, check Jack Norris's blog or Ginny Messina's blog, they are great resources.  If you are concerned about "getting enough protein" then do your research on delicious plant-based proteins.  However, many many studies have shown that getting "enough" protein is not a problem in a plant-based diet. We have certainly not had any problems.

My family went vegan cold tufurky style.  Since it is a New Year and some of you probably have weight loss resolutions, or actually want to try to go vegan or vegetarian for the New Year, I wanted to share some of the resources I used to go vegan that really helped me.  They cover all the areas I wanted to educate myself in: health & nutrition, ethics, animal welfare, and, of course, amazing recipes!!  Here are some of the best ones, categorized per the bold headings:

Health Related information (supporting a vegan diet as the #1 healthiest diet to eat):
1. Dr. Neil Barnard's books.  He is the president and founder of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine.  He advocates a vegan diet as the best possible diet for health.  A good one is Breaking the Food Seduction.

2. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell.  Again, supports a vegan diet, health benefits even noticed if you go from eating only 10% of your diet as animal products to zero percentage animal products.  No eggs, milk, yogurt, butter, common' folks, you can do it!

3. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Revised and Expanded Edition. By: Marion Nestle. She is a nationally recognized expert in nutrition, worked for the government/FDA for many years and has written many other interesting books about food.

Ethical & Environmental Issues:

1. The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. By: Peter Singer, Jim Mason.  These guys have been discussing animal welfare for decades, there is a great chapter at the end with all kinds of other web resources and suggestions for reading (many books I have already mentioned, but many more, too).

2. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. This book is great for so many reasons, including the fact that it came out recently, in 2010, so he has all of the most updated statistical information to support his text. In addition to ethics and animal welfare he also discusses the environmental impacts of factory farming extensively, the public health nightmare that factory farming contributes to, etc.  Great read.

3.  In a Perfect Ocean: The State of Fisheries and Ecosystems in the North Atlantic Ocean. By: Daniel Pauly, Jay Maclean.  This one is mainly about environmental impact of fishing.  For each and every pound of shrimp caught, there are 25 pounds of other sea creatures caught and killed (commonly referred to as "by-catch" in the industry).  Um, that's just one statistic.  Ugh.

4. Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, and Money. By: Erik Marcus.  A logical and concise overview of the problems with animal agriculture.  Check out Erik's blog for daily updates on all things vegan.

Okay, now for the fun part:

Cookbooks, a VERY Short List!!  I just love cookbooks:

I just started with two cookbooks, Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero which was the most recent and largest cookbook that they had published at the time, all their books are great.  I also got  Cooking the Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello.  Very different styles, different pantries, but worked for me.  Then I just added reading blogs and tons of websites devoted to vegan stuff.  I really got into the blog reading during VeganMoFo (the Vegan Month of Food, which is November, where vegan bloggers try to blog every day about their delicious fare).  I now have more books, but am so much more comfortable in the vegan kitchen, that I don't really need them anymore.  I just like them.  I buy everything possible from Amazon, which I find to be the best way to shop with an almost 3yo at home.  I'd say try your library, and you can, but you will probably end up either buying or borrowing these great books.  My library actually had Vegan with a Vengence (Isa's first book) which I promptly checked-out and then renewed for 3 cycles :-).  But they had NO other vegan cookbooks, many vegetarian ones, though. 

There are so many, many resources for eating vegan out there, so don't let me stop you from exploring those as well.  Check out some of the blogs I follow in the right hand column of this blog.  They are a fun, free way to get awesome recipes and get social support in your quest for a healthier self and a healthier world. 

Let me know what you find!!!  You may also be interested in my post, Dawn's Unsolicited Advice for many more resources, including LOTS more cookbooks, blog reccs, websites, etc.  Enjoy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Elementary school essay, anyone?

Hope everyone had a great holiday week.  With all that packing, unpacking, decorating, un-decorating, wrapping, unwrapping, boxing, storing and stuffing, I think we are all ready for a vegan lunch break.

But, first, let's recap in the form of the elementary school essay, "What I did over my Christmas vacation," starting with Santa plunder, of course.  I did QUITE well this year, so I must have been very good.  Let me show you what Hubby-Santa got me:

Hummmmm, you wonder, what's that?  Well, folks, it is the amazing TofuXPress, a handy little spring-loaded press for all your tofu-pressing needs.  It is fast and works wonders.  No more piling my biggest cookbooks on top of plates for me!  They have it on Amazon if you'd like one from your Hubby-Santa your Wifey-Santa or your Partner-Santa.  Various other Santas, including the all-knowing, all-important, Santa-Self, helped me procure the following: some vegan cookbooks (The Joy of Vegan Baking, American Vegan Kitchen, Nonna's Italian Kitchen), a new waffle iron (can't wait to try it! from Sister-Santa), a new stainless steamer/saucepot from Mommy-Santa (already used 2x), some desperately needed new baking pans (NordicWare's commercial grade aluminum pans) in 9x9 cake pan, jelly roll pan, and loaf pan as well as an extra Silpat so I can alternate two cookie sheets when baking my cookies! Oh baby!

Next, perhaps you are wondering what I ate over my Christmas vacation.  Well, folks, it wasn't exactly vegan.  I haven't quite figured out how to accomplish that as a first year vegan, so we do vegetarian/pescatarian for vacations (about 10 days or so a year).  Anyhoo, this year, as for the past 17 years, we went to this lovely place:

Where's that, you wonder?  Well, compliments of my mother-in-law, it is the view from our room at Mohonk Mountain House, home of the gods :-) nestled in the Shawangunk Mountains in New Paltz, NY. Thank you, Mom B!!! It receives my highest recommendation in all areas of vacationing, including being uber family friendly.  Here are some of the things I ate there:

Okay, well, I didn't eat ALL of those waffles, my kid ate some and my hubby ate some.  Mohonk was kind enough (upon request) to always serve us soy milk for our coffee and soy milk for my son, but we definitely ate eggs/milk/butter baked into a few things such as these waffles and a few dessert items.  We always ordered the vegetarian dinner option (one night it was VEGAN, all three other nights had cheese/dairy of some sort in it).  We could pretty much eat vegan for lunch and everything else for breakfast (fresh fruit, grains, etc.) was vegan.  But the waffles were irresistible.  I wish they knew they could make them vegan!  It was kinda funny, at the dessert bar they had everything labeled with "D,E,G or N" signifying dairy, eggs, gluten and nuts.  EVERYTHING had D&E in it.  Mohonk has a bit of work to do in that department...desserts are very easy to make vegan!  Perhaps I will email them to that effect.

After the last snowstorm of 2010, we safely made it to my family's Christmas lunch. I got to see my sister, my sister-in-law, my niece, and my parents!  My mom, Mom C., had an amazing spread of vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian items.  Be forewarned, some pictured items are NOT vegan! ;-)

You can see the olives, hot peppers, pickles, bread, cheese, macaroni salad to the far right, and my son's hand reaching for the pepperoni which he tried to eat but spit out, probably because of the chewy texture.  There were also stuffed clams, crab cakes and fried artichokes (to the right of the stuffed clam).

                                Thanks, Mom C. for the amazing feast! 

At yet another high-point of gifting, my sister gave my dad a metal detector. He was excited. He just loves presents!  I'm sure he'll try to plunder the Jersey Shore this summer.

Once we made it back to South Jersey, we shoveled ourselves out (not too much snow left, it had melted a bit before we got home) and made this guy here:

Then on New Year's Day, we went to my brother's house and made this guy below, with the THREE FEET of snow he got (only 50 miles from us!):

That's me in the red sweatshirt.  It was a mild day.  My niece and nephew on the left, and I am holding my son.

Made a few things this week as well, once we got home.  Here are my phyllo triangles w/ vegan mushroom creme and crumbled tempeh inside:

And my New Year's Guacamole with a bit of Tofutti Sour Creme:

As you may have noticed from the pictures in this post, I have officially moved on to my Sony DSLR.  I'm not sure why it took me so long (I bought it two years ago) to make it my primary camera.  Wait a minute...I think I know:

Well, hope you all enjoyed my essay.  May you all feel like this in the New Year:

                                                     What did you do over your Christmas vacation??