Oh wow, where I begin?

I have been cooking up a storm! One could say I am on FIRE!!

But then again, I haven’t been blogging anything because I’ve been too busy cooking. I have taken photos, tho. So, where do I begin?

Our neighbor is a hunter, a fisher and a most self-suficant man. I have no problem with these kinds of people- he lives off the land, he respects the land, and he doesn’t hunt because of sport or social. He is a serious hunter/gatherer and I can respect his respect for the earth. Tho he does burn plastic in his burning pile. I’ll work on that…

Last year he brought us puffball mushroom. He has been collecting these wild mushrooms since he was a kid, so he knows what he’s doing. This year, he brought us two. The size of my head!!

puffball mushrooms

 

These two mushrooms were literally the size of my head, ok, maybe a little larger. We pealed them, which was fairly easy. They peeled back to reveal a very white flesh. (I joked to Craig that we could make lampshades out of the peels, but he ignored me…) Then we chopped them up to about inch squared sized cubes and sautéed them in some olive oil.

And because it was 9 p.m. when I got home and Craig revealed the surprising bounty, we had three different pans going to be able to cook down all of the mushroom “flesh.”

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Why, you may ask, did I cook it all up that night? Puffball mushrooms don’t last long. Their window of freshness is short and once picked, you need to use them up as soon as possible. Our neighbor informed Craig that they were at the end of their freshness so we processed them right away. Online, I read that once cooked, they can be frozen, which is good because there’s no way wed eat THAT much mushrooms, that quickly. I froze about 10 cups of cooked mushrooms. I saved some of the fresh cooked for tasting at the library, and a few did! Most of them liked it! You have to understand, these mushrooms do not look, feel or taste like regular button mushrooms. They are mushier, wilder, and a bit weird. I like them. It reminds me of tofu, a mushier tofu… Next, I used used another 2 or 3 cups of cooked mushrooms and puréed them into a cream. I also added some sautéed onions, soy milk and herbs and garlic. Made it nice and creamy, but to give some texture I added some regular button mushrooms, sautéed, and some vegan ravioli. To get  it a little creamier, I made some vegan roux-olive oil, flour and soy milk. I added it in and wow, it turned out awesome! Oregano, garlic, salt and black pepper, some rosemary and whatever else was lying around. I love seasonings!

No, I didn’t take a photo of the finished product. I should have, but didn’t. You’re going to have to trust me on this!!

Enjoy!

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Potato Tomato Casserole

Yea, so I’ve been sick. Every time I sat down to write out a recipe, I got foggy, closed the lap top and put on the next Harry Potter DVD.

But being sick didn’t mean that I hadn’t been eating well!

My first recipe was 2 weeks ago: A potato casserole, like a lasagna without the pasta.

I used my 9×9 deep dish to create the wonder. Peel and thinly slice about 2 pounds of good baking potatoes. Rub a little olive oil in the bottom of the pan so the potatoes don’t stick. Place a nice thick layer on the bottom, then layer with veggies: I used thick slices of onion, mushrooms and shredded zucchini. Alternate veggies and potatoes for about 3 layers. Add a little Daiya cheddar cheese on the second to last layer, along with some oregano, garlic and salt and pepper. Top off with a layer of potatoes. Over the last layer, add about a pint of tomato sauce/spaghetti sauce. Cover with foil and bake for an hour at 350 degrees. After an hour, uncover, bake for another 15-20 minutes, topping off with more cheese and letting it melt in. Let stand for a while to give the potatoes a chance to soak up the moisture.

Jazz up the casserole with some sliced yellow bell pepper. I happened to not have any on hand at the time. 

On the side, I sautéed the rest of my onion and the left over mushrooms with some seitan slices. Funny, that the protein was the side dish!!

An easy casserole that really satisfies, and I am all about comfort food! Especially in the cooler weather, with the fireplace crackling and the snow falling outside. My favorite time of year.

Enjoy!

A very quick #vegan dinner

This took less than 10 minutes. I won’t show you a picture, it looks hideous. But it tasted really good!

Here’s what I did:

Vegan Nacho Dip.
2 cups TVP
1 1/2 cups water
-boil water, add TVP, take off heat and let absorb.
Add salsa: I added 2 pints of homemade salsa.
Add some vegan cheddar cheese and mix.
I sprinkled some Curt’s Seasoning on it as well, just to brighten it.
Scoop with chips.
Smile.
Enjoy!

My #Vegan Lunch!

It’s getting cold out, and it’s time to break out the comfort food. The two ultimate comfort food dinners I love are mashed potatoes and meatloaf and grilled cheese with tomato soup. Well, the meatloaf is out, but I will be trying variations in the near future, but I did do half of the second one for lunch today.

I made a grilled cheese sandwich made with Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheddar cheese. It turned out great! It had the cheddar flavor and it melted like real cheese. I also added some Curt’s seasonings, a little garlic and some oregano. The one thing I did wrong, however, was put too much cheese on-something I had done with the real stuff time and time before.

But I must say, I am impressed with the cheese and will be thinking about other things to do with this: i.e. Mac and Cheese for starters! It is also something I think I can pass off on Craig and he’ll never notice the difference. We just won’t tell him… life is easier that way… wink wink.

Tonight, I think I will make tacos: or a version there of. I want to use the TVP again, soak it in the onion soup base bouillon and then season it with cumin and paprika. I think it will work well for a meat substitute. And of course, let’s not forget my new cheddar cheese, a must with any mexican dish. Oh, I’m excited! I’m so glad that at least that’s settled: I can happily enjoy some of my cheese love vegan style! I really enjoy the Daiya cheese too that I bought-but that was the mozzarella kind. And what else is exciting is that my local Sentry store is going to see if they can stock the Daiya for me! Also with the WholeSoy yogurt, tho I need to tell them what size and flavors yet. (I like them all!) I have to decide which ones I would eat most often and then we’ll go from there.

So it looks like my vegan life is looking up, getting better all the time, as the Beatles say.

Enjoy!

Another simple vegan dinner…

So, the last few nights we have had uneventful dinners. Some rice, some pasta, nothing too frilly. I did put some TVP in with the rice and some Daiya cheese with the pasta, but other than that, nothing to write home about.

Tonight, I made a little more effort than just that. I had two pans and the grill going. Ok, so the grill was for my meat-eating hubby, for whom I bought some chicken breasts and so lovingly cooked them for him. The chicken, however, will serve him for about four meals, instead the two of us for two meals. I made tofu for me.

I also made rice: 2 cups brown rice, 2 tablespoons of veggie bouillon, 1 cup TVP and 4 cups of water. I added the bouillon in when the water started boiling. Turned down to simmer, added the rice and cooked for about 25 minutes, then added the TVP and let it cook. Once the water was almost gone, I turned off the heat, kept it covered and just let it absorb all of the liquid.

I love tofu. I have always loved tofu. I could have tofu just about every day of the week. This time I cubed the extra firm tofu and sautéed it with some olive oil until a nice golden brown. I also used some of my favorite seasoning blend, called Curt’s, found at the Oilerie, http://oilerie.com/,  along with their delicious truffle oil! (I’m almost out, must be time for another trip to Door County!) The seasoning has a little more of a kick, tho not spicy, that I find really brings out a nice flavor in basically everything!

Then I mad some sautéed mushrooms and garlic, in the same pan as the tofu. Of course, I put the tofu in a separate bowl, because heaven forbid he should eat any of my yummy tofu! The mushrooms went quickly, and before serving, I added another one of my favorite seasonings, Morton’s Nature’s Seasoning.

Combining all together, I added a little Earth Balance into the rice, and topped it all off with some Bragg’s Amino Acids and some chopped green onions. So savory, I ate the whole bowl!

(Soy Dream Butter Pecan ice cream for dessert!!)

Sorry if the photo is out of focus, I was hungry!

Enjoy!

Lasagna! Oh, you know it was going to happen…

Tonight’s menu called for something easy-peasy and yummy. Lasagna is my go-to meal when I have stuff to use up in the fridge, but somehow, each one becomes my new favorite. But ask you might, do you ever make the same lasagna twice? Answer: Never. Reason: I never have the same ingredients in the house at the same time.

And to get a little creative (shh, don’t tell honey…) I sprinkled just a little TVP in it (on the bottom) for protein.

The layers go in this order: in a 9×9 pan (preheat oven to 350 degrees)

A little tomato juice (from chopped tomatoes) and olive oil sprinkled on the bottom.

Two no-cook lasagna noodles (Like I said, easy-peasy)

TVP, chopped tomatoes, julienned zucchini, garlic, oregano, and salt/pepper, Daiya Cheese

Two no-cooked lasagna noodles

Sliced crimini mushrooms, a little spagetti sauce (ironically I picked up the veggie can!), some more “cheese” and

Two more no-cook lasagna noodles. Cover the whole thing with the rest of the sauce and then cover the pan with tin foil.

Cook for about 45 minutes, let stand uncovered for another 15 minutes, if you can wait that long, so that the noodles and the TVP can soak up all of the excess moisture. As my mom says about any casserole, ‘It’s always better the next day because it soaks up all the juices.’ I agree.

So, I might have put some tofu, or some seitan layered in between the noodles, but then I would have had to bring out another sauté pan and that means another dish to clean up. I’ll tweet the results of the TVP. Really, I barely covered the layer of noodles with it (See photo above). I usually put too much stuff into my lasagna, too much “meat” or veggies, or whatever I was using as a filler. I forcibly put the broccoli back in the fridge, and as I was slicing the mushrooms, I was glad I had. Two more noodles and I had just enough room for the sauce. Oh, crap. I forgot the onions again! Oh, well, they wouldn’t have fit anyway.

Ah, buzzers chiming!! Dinner time!!Enjoy!

Grocery Shopping as a #Vegan

I stopped at Outpost Natural Foods on Capitol Drive tonight on my way home from the East Side. When I attended Grad school at the University of WI-Milwaukee, I would stop there all the time-so much that I became an owner of the co-op. That was years ago and now that I live in the middle of nowhere, I don’t get there as often. (inset frowny face)  But I did get to go there tonight. The bank  account, however, put a kibosh on the amount of things I could stock up on, so I settled for the basics-or rather items that I could not find in my little hick-ville supermarkets. What I got:

I spent $35.00 total. Not to say that this was an expensive trip, these are items I cannot get at my stores. Well, okay, the olive oil I can get anywhere, including Wal-Mart, and one store does carry the tempeh, but not this brand and this one was cheeper… BUT the cheese and the yogurt I cannot find at any of the nearby stores-nearby is at least 7 miles away. (3 if you count the little convenience grocery in the next town, and they do carry some organic things-how progressive-but none of these items.

I have to laugh, because the one thing that is missing from this picture is the Snap Pea Crisps, which I ate some of on the way home as “dinner.” Those I can find at our little grocery, as I can soy creamer, but not vanilla soy creamer. (insert big smiley face!)

I have been craving a grilled cheese sandwich like nobody’s business! I have tried a rice cheese, which I really liked! But I learned that the casein in it comes from milk. So bummed was I!! I also bought another “cheese,” but threw it out. Bleh! I’ve heard rave reviews of the Daiya, so I thought I’d chuck up the cash and try it. I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, I must say WholeSoy, the yogurt is good! I got a strong tofu flavor at first, but after a few bites, it got lost. And I am one who actually likes the flavor of tofu. I know…

As for tips on saving money on a #vegan diet, this is an interesting article: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/6-tips-to-eat-vegan-on-a-budget.html

I’ve also taken to making my own seitan. Once I perfect my own recipe I will post it, but in the mean time, there are hundreds, ok not hundreds, but at least 10 seitan recipes I’ve found on the web. The most recent from The Vegan Zombie. I liked his recipe. I also want to try making it into a “sausage” flavor. I used to make my own chicken sausage, so the seasonings are a no-brainer, I just hope it works with the new medium. As always, I’ll let you know!

Then, I want to make my own soy/almond/coconut milk ice cream. We found a gelato machine at our St Vincent du Paul’s last year for $8.50 and we’ve been making yogurt ice cream on a frequent basis. It make take longer with the more liquidey ingredients, but it should work. So many things to try, so many ideas… Oh! AND I want to make my own “cheese.” We can make our own milk, why couldn’t we cultivate it to turn it into yogurt or cheese? No offense WholeSoy, but I can’t be driving 45 minutes every time I get a yogurt craving! And it happens often… More so with the cheese. (I live closer to an actual cheese factory/farm than I do to a store that sells soy cheese.)

Oh, the adventures in the kitchen!

This is going to be fun!

Enjoy!

Coconut Fingerlings

As I may have mentioned somewhere- Facebook, twitter, blog… I can’t remember… I have run out of most of my olive and grapeseed oils. But I do have something else I haven’t worked with much: Coconut oil.

According to my homeopathic/acupuncturist friend, Jan Halonen (google her if you are in the Mequon, Wi area!), she mentioned that coconut oil, tho higher in saturated fat, can actually help coat the nerve endings in the brain, helping stave off Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t have a lot of family that has suffered with Alzheimer’s. Heart disease is more popular, however, my dad’s mother suffered with severe Alzheimer’s. She died two months after her 100th birthday. Yes, that may seem awesome, but at her birthday party, after we had songs and cake and presents and pictures, she asked her care taker as he was taking her back to her room, “Oh, is it my birthday?”

I doubt I will make it that long, but in any case, I want to do everything I can to help my brain along. Believe me, it needs all the help I can give it!

So, as I prepared some turkey burgers for honey-yes, he’s a meat eater-I thought what else could I make that wouldn’t involve the flesh of a poor animal? Fingerlings sat on the counter, biding their time before they were finally culinaritized (yes, I make up my own words, fun as they are…). Coconut oil: I spread a bit of it over the potatoes, still in its solid state because of the cool weather we are now having. It will soon melt and coat the fingerlings nicely. Plus, it smells like Hawaii in here! I could totally go for a piña colada! (Are those vegan?)

Parchment paper helps keep everything from sticking. I use it for everything I need to place on a cookie sheet.

I cut some of the larger ones, just so that they all cook together. As for spices, I added some finely chopped red onion (one half of a small one-I was only going to use a quarter of it, but I realized that I had already thrown away its plastic bag), garlic, oregano, salt and white pepper. The oregano is from my garden, “certified” organic! The garlic is, too, which reminds me that I need to get them ready for planting next month. Add whatever seasoning you’d like to it. I think a little paprika or curry seasoning would be really yummy on these little guys. Especially with the very slight coconut flavor.

I set the oven for 350 degrees and once heated, I popped them in for 45 minutes. Half way through I took my spatula and turned them a little, to help with the browning. Once they were finished, I noticed that the onion really baked down. May try something else next time, but I do love that flavor! Especially with potatoes!

As a finisher, I put out the ketchup, the veganaise, and the spicy chipotle sauce. (Ooo, it’s spicy, too!!)

These wonderful little fingerlings made a nice french fry experience, without the deep-frying or a lot of prep work. They also work as a side dish and no one has to know that they are vegan!! I suppose if I had more time, I would have made a spectacular side sauce, especially if I were to bring this to a party or had guests over. I’ll work on that for next time.

Enjoy!

My First Vegan Dinner!

I was cooking dinner and thought, Wow. That looks good.

Then  I thought, I like reading foodie blogs so much, why don’t I write one of my own?

I already have my MilwaukeeWriter blog, which has been read by a few people, why not catalogue my decent into veganism? So I said ok. I set up my blog site, my email, my Facebook and twitter pages all under the name My Vegan Dinner.

This, of course, was after I finished cooking. I was hungry, I had to eat first, blog second. Oh, and I took some pictures along the way.

I started with some rice. Both hubby and I were craving rice, and though I would ordinarily use brown rice, I had about 2 cups of white rice to use up. For the 2 cups of rice I brought 3 cups of water up to a boil, added the rice, and turned it to a low simmer, covered. I make so much rice that I didn’t even time it, but I’d say it was about 20 minutes. As soon as the water was absorbed, I turned off the heat and kept it covered until I finished with the rest of the meal.

Mushrooms. Fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced. I heated a sautée pan with some porchini flavored olive oil and tossed in my mushrooms. They cook quick so I also added some dried onions, about a teaspoon, and some garlic powder. I would have chopped everything from scratch but it was late and we were hungry! Let the mushrooms cook down, adding a little extra olive oil if they start to stick. Meanwhile, I used my julienne peeler to make some zucchini strings. Once the mushrooms were done, I turned off the heat and laid the zucchini over the mushrooms. After a minute or so I stirred them in. The first time I did this with the zucchini, they got all mushy from being cooked too long. The residual heat from the mushrooms and the pan heated the zucchini well. Cover it if you want a less crisp zucchini string!

I added some of my favorite seasoning salt and some peanut sauce.

Earth balance vegan butter melts great on hot food!

The finished product was a great vegan meal! Usually I like to throw some other kind of protein into the mix like tofu, homemade seitan or adding some quinoa in the rice mix. But like I said, it was late, and we were hungry!

Enjoy!