Posts by ethnic vegan

Tiki Citrus Beach Slam

Tiki Culture at your table: fresh fruit, festive mugs, fun decor

This is a delicious two-part liquid libation in which you can control the flavor and the potency. So it could be a potent drink that may result in a face plant, or it might just be a delightful diversion – you choose. You can use an insulated mug; a short, wide glass; or a fancy Tiki mug. (You may need to taste and add more ginger ale.)  This recipe will quench the thirst of two or three people.

Mix the following in a small pitcher:

3 ounces (2 shots) Sailor Jerry spiced rum

3 ounces light rum

Juice of 1 lime

3 ounces pineapple juice

Pour over ice in two or three Tiki mugs. Add half an orange slice to each glass.

Pour ginger ale over all until desired strength is reached. Stir and add a colorful umbrella!

Mint Fuzzy Slipper

Mint Fuzzy Slipper, a festive alcoholic vegan drinkSue decided to call this drink a Mint Fuzzy Slipper because if you drink too much of it, your brain will feel like fuzzy slippers (as will your mouth the next morning). Vegan versions of Crème de Menthe and Crème de Cacao are readily available, but check labels to be sure.

1 oz. green Crème de Menthe
1 oz. clear Crème de Cacao
3 oz. unsweetented almond milk (we used Blue Diamond)
Mini peppermint candy canes (green, if possible)

Place 3 candy canes on a ceramic plate. Cover with a paper towel and use the bottom of a sturdy glass to carefully crush them. Moisten the rim of a 3 oz. glass and dip into crushed candy.

Place the first three ingredients into a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Shake vigorously, then strain into glass.  Add a candy cane as garnish. Sip in front of a fireplace if possible.

Rustic Tuscany Flatbread

Rustic Tuscany Flatbread
What is it about fresh, warm, home-baked bread that is so comforting? This Italian flatbread recipe is surprisingly easy to make, and its delicate flavor goes with almost everything. It cooks up so fast; you’ll want to make this for dinner a couple times a week.

3 cups organic flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. dried rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup ice-cold water
Extra kosher salt for sprinkling
Extra olive oil for brushing

Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and use a fork to gently blend them. Make a well in the center, and pour the oil and water into it. Mix gently until completely blended. If necessary, add a teaspoon or two of cold water; then knead with your hands until dough is smooth.

Pull out a wad of dough about 2 1/2 inches across – slightly larger than an egg or a ping-pong ball. Place onto a lightly floured surface and spread with your fingers into a flat disk about 8 inches across. The top will be uneven.

Heat a large nonstick frypan over medium-high heat. (We used one of those grill pans with the ridges in the bottom, which gave the bread in our photo the sear marks.) When pan is hot, brush the flat dough disk with olive oil and place oiled side down in the pan. Heat for about 2 minutes until a few brown spots appear on the bottom. Brush top with olive oil, flip bread over, and cook another 2 minutes. Slide out of pan onto a plate with paper towels on it, and sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Serve while warm.

What do you all think about maybe adding some flecks of sun-dried tomatoes to this recipe…or pine nuts? I also think this bread might be delicious with a homemade veggie burger.

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash lends a lovely color and flavor to this soup. Coconut milk makes the soup creamy without the cream, and the red curry paste provides a touch of heat. This would be a good first course for an Asian-themed meal.

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbs. fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
32 oz. vegetable broth
13.5-oz. can coconut milk
1/2 tsp. red curry paste (or to taste; you can use sambal oelek instead, but it’s not as authentic)
Fresh lime juice (optional)
Fresh or dried cilantro for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss butternut squash chunks with olive oil and place on a greased baking pan or a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake the squash until tender (about 40 minutes).

2. Heat the olive oil in a large stewpot over medium heat. Saute the onions until softened. Don’t brown them; add a little broth to the pan if they start to brown. Add the ginger, garlic, and salt; cook for an additional minute or two. Add the vegetable broth and squash chunks; heat thoroughly. Stir in coconut milk and sambal oelek.

3. If you have an immersion blender, use it to puree the soup in the stewpot. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth.

4. Divide soup among serving bowls. Drizzle a teaspoon of fresh lime juice over the soup in each bowl. Garnish with fresh or dried cilantro if desired.

boulder slaw

boulder_slaw
What can we say about a beautiful, colorful, nutrient-filled dish that takes after its namesake (well, at least the beautiful, colorful parts)?  This salad starts with a coleslaw base, but you can add everything you like and can only make it better! It’s so flavorful, you don’t need any fancy spices.  When you see the bright colors and taste the sweet-sour dressing, you’ll be bowled over by Boulder Slaw!

Start with a coleslaw base:

shredded green and red cabbage and shredded carrots (you can use a prepared coleslaw pack, if you like)

Add:

Lots more shredded or matchstick-cut carrots
Broccoli florets, blanched 30 seconds and cut very small
Red and green bell peppers, diced
Red or sweet yellow onion, diced
½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine

Also, you could try one or two of these ingredients:

Finely chopped apples
Dried cranberries or raisins
Pineapple pieces or crushed pineapple, drained
Finely chopped mushrooms

Dressing:

½ cup sugar
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
Dash of black pepper
Dash of red (cayenne) pepper
1 tsp. celery seed

mountain lentil stew

IMG_1699
Here’s a recipe for a cold mountain winter – it’s hearty and filling and delicious! We created this from several other lentil recipes but added a twist – a tomato base. In this recipe, it’s important to make sure the lentils are cooked until tender before salt is added; the salt may prevent the lentils from getting tender. Nothing worse than crunchy lentils. Add jalapenos to taste – one tablespoon gives you a medium spicy bite. And the stew is great the next day! If it’s too cold for a dark beer with this stew, you might want to try a hot spiced cider drink, and try to stay warm until spring!

1-2 Tbs. light olive oil
1 med. yellow onion, chopped fine
½ tsp. minced garlic

Sautée the onion and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes, until onion is transparent.

Add:

1 1/3 cup lentils
6 cups water
1 Tbs. fajita seasoning
1 ½ tsp. dried dill weed

Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer and cook 30 to 40 minutes, until lentils are tender.

DO NOT ADD SALT YET. Salt will prevent the lentils from becoming tender. You may need to add a bit of water to keep the stew from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Stir in 2 peeled russet potatoes (about ½ inch dice). Continue to cook on medium-low for another 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Add:

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1-2 Tbs. diced jalapenos
1 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste

Stir well. Garnish with fresh dill or parsley and a dollop of non-dairy sour cream.

Helen’s veggie burgers

helens_veggie_burger
These yummy veggie burgers were created by a student in Sue’s vegetarian nutrition class. (Helen gets an A+ for this recipe.) They are super-healthy, high in protein and fiber. TVP stands for textured vegetable protein. Helen suggests using frozen TVP crumbles to make shaping the patties easier. We used Amy’s organic lentil soup in the recipe, but you can substitute tomato for a different flavor.

This recipe makes a lot of veggie burgers. After you have shaped all the burgers you need for your meal, you can put the rest into a meatloaf pan and bake it for 25 minutes. Freeze the loaf for another day, and then slice and serve the reheated loaf with pasta sauce and linguini on the side. Add a green salad and a glass of red wine, and voila! Easy weeknight meal.

1/2 medium onion, diced
1 portobello mushroom cap, gills removed, finely chopped
1-2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 10-ounce bag TVP
1 12-ounce package soft tofu
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and mashed
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning blend
1 15-ounce can lentil soup
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash of black pepper and cayenne pepper

Sauté onion and mushrooms in oil until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside. Chop nuts in a grinder or blender, and then place in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Shape into patties. Cook in an oiled pan on medium heat until browned. Turn gently. Or cook on the grill for a couple minutes per side. Serve on a bun with lettuce, a slice of tomato, and vegan mayo, ketchup, or brown mustard.

peanut brittle

peanut_brittle
This recipe is easy, although it may take 10 to 15 minutes to boil the ingredients. You can also use chopped almonds, pecans, or pistachios instead of peanuts.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water
1 cup peanuts
1 tsp. baking soda

1. Grease a large cookie sheet. Set aside.

2. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the peanuts. Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan, but don’t let it touch the bottom. Continue boiling the mixture on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 300 degrees.

3. Remove candy thermometer, add baking soda, stir, and quickly pour mixture onto the baking sheet. Spread it out with a fork. Allow the pan to cool on a rack, and then break candy into pieces.

Green Pepper restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal

While on vacation in September, I broke my foot in three places. I spent two days in Lisbon before flying back to the States, and it was a sad affair. Instead of the planned sightseeing and city tours, I was laid up in the hotel for most of that time. Learning to use crutches is difficult, but using crutches on sidewalks with centuries-old cobblestones is even more of a challenge. I stayed in our hotel’s lounge while my cousin went out to see the city sights. On the first day she came back and reported that there was one restaurant close to the hotel, and she thought it was near enough that I could make it on crutches. “I don’t know what kind of restaurant it is and whether they have anything for you though,” she said. I was so excited to leave the hotel and experience something (anything!) of Lisbon, I was willing to try. Even in non-veg-friendly restaurants, you can usually at least order a salad, right?

We decided to try it. After a herculean effort on my part maneuvering over the uneven sidewalk stones, we made it to the restaurant door. What kind of restaurant was it?

Green Pepper restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal

I laughed out loud. And enjoyed a heaping plate from the buffet:

buffet plate from Green Pepper in Lisbon, Portugal

When in Lisbon, check out Green Pepper at 14 Avenida José Malhoa. The food is fresh and inventive, and they also have a wide selection of yummy drinks. The servers are friendly and attentive. They made my day.

quinoa & corn salad

quinoa_corn_salad
This summer salad features delightfully crunchy quinoa and sweet corn kernels in a tangy dressing. Never tried quinoa? It’s similar to millet; look for it in the bulk section of your local natural foods store. We used red quinoa for this recipe, but other colors are available.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups corn kernels (canned, frozen, or fresh; if fresh, briefly cook kernels in boiling water, rinse with cold water, and drain)
1 medium cucumber, diced
8-oz. package cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Several large romaine leaves, sliced into ribbons

Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice from 1 large, fresh lemon
3 Tbs. maple syrup
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt

1. Combine rinsed quinoa, salt, and 1 1/2 cups water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat. Let quinoa simmer until all the water is absorbed (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat. After about 10 minutes, “fluff” the quinoa with a fork by lightly stirring.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa with the corn kernels, diced cucumbers, and tomatoes.

3. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together, and stir into the salad.

4. Arrange romaine ribbons on plates. Scoop quinoa salad on top.

raw doughnut holes

raw_doughnut_holesRaw foods are even more delicious in the summertime, when the hot temperatures deter even us diehard cooks from venturing near a stove. I came across this recipe for raw doughnut holes on the Rawmazing site. I happened to have a bag of Brazil nuts on hand, so I tried it right away. Yum. Let the doughnut holes sit in the refrigerator for a bit before you eat them or else the texture won’t be quite right (but they’ll still be delicious).

thai noodles with spicy peanut basil sauce

thai_noodles_with_spicy_peanut_basil_sauce
Who needs takeout? Your family will think you stopped at an Asian restaurant on your way home when you serve these tasty Thai noodles, and you can make them as spicy as you like.

1 cup fresh snow pea pods
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. ground coriander
Crushed red pepper to taste
12-oz. package Udon noodles (substitute spaghetti or fettuccine if you can’t find Udon noodles)
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped

1. Trim snow pea pods and blanch for 45 seconds. Set aside.

2. In a large stewpot over medium heat, whisk together coconut milk, vegetable broth, soy sauce, and peanut butter. Add lime juice, garlic, sugar, coriander, and red pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Reduce heat to low.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add pasta to sauce, along with snow pea pods, basil, and bean sprouts. Mix gently and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle with peanuts.

spinach-mandarin power salad

spinach_mandarin_power_salad
Spinach is an amazing powerhouse of vitamins and minerals: Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, and K, plus folic acid, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Mandarin oranges contain vitamin C. Both mandarin oranges and spinach are fat-free, and pecans are high in fiber and protein. This colorful salad is not only nutritious, it’s also beautiful, and the complex dressing provides a wonderful burst of flavor!

1/4 cup pecans, toasted
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. brown mustard
2 Tbs. orange juice
Dash of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed
11-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

1. Toast pecans in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes, watching them carefully. When they start to brown and release their oils (about 2 to 3 minutes), remove from pan and place on paper towels to cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine next 7 ingredients with a wire whisk to make the dressing.

3. Add spinach leaves and orange slices; combine with dressing. Arrange salad on serving plates. Top with toasted pecans.

Variations: You can add sliced green onions if you like them, or substitute toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts for the pecans.

Download the PDF: Spinach Mandarin Power Salad

classic potato salad

potato_salad
This is a vegan variation of my mother’s potato salad recipe, which was always very much in demand.

1 cup vegan mayonnaise (Spectrum makes a tasty one)
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cane sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup mild onion
5-6 medium Yukon Gold or red potatoes

Slice potatoes in half and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil until potatoes are tender but not mushy. Cool slightly; peel and slice into cubes.

In a large bowl, stir together the first five ingredients. Add celery, onions, and potatoes; stir gently to coat. Chill. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and a parsley sprig.

cinco de mayo chip dip

cinco_de_mayo_chip_dip
Besides chip dipping, this salsa also works great as a taco or burrito topper. If you prefer chunkier salsas, substitute 4 chopped tomatoes for the tomato juice (for a total of 6).

12-oz. can tomato juice
4-oz. can pickled jalapenos, drained and diced (save the liquid)
1 Tbs. pickled jalapeno juice (more if you like)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet white or purple onion, minced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Combine all ingredients. Dip your chips.

food labeling in India versus food labeling in the United States

Food labeling in India

Food labeling in India: The green image denotes a product without animal ingredients, while the image on the right labels products containing animal ingredients. Image courtesy of Kotra and the Wikimedia Commons.

A reader named Pradeep wrote to tell us about India’s veg-friendly food-labeling system, in which a green dot on a product means it does not contain any animal ingredients. Pradeep is now in the United States and has difficulty identifying veg products. He has to examine food labels and determine whether unfamiliar ingredients might be derived from animals.

And it’s no wonder. Here’s a little background for those who may not be aware of how veg food labeling works in the United States (hint: it’s much different from India’s system). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Food Labeling Guide only addresses animal products in the food allergen section, and the FDA passes the buck by saying: “We recommend that producers of meat products, poultry products, and egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), contact appropriate USDA agency staff regarding the labeling of such products.” A search through the bewildering maze of the USDA’s Web site doesn’t shed much light on that agency’s stance on labeling.

Enter the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), which provided a thoroughly researched overview of the labeling situation in 2006, concluding, “There is no federal regulation of the word ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ in the United States.” So although food products in the United States lack a federal label that would indicate products containing animal ingredients, individual organizations are stepping up to the plate to address the issue. The Vegetarian Label Fact Table in the VRG’s article compares these labels and what each might indicate.

If anyone is interested in working with Pradeep on a labeling campaign in the United States, contact us and we’ll forward your info to him. In the meantime, keep reading those labels, and share your shopping strategies with us.

delicious dairy-free milks

Dairy-free milks have come a long way in recent years. Many restaurants and coffee shops offer soymilk or rice milk (and unlike years past, the servers usually know what you’re referring to if you ask for it). And I think that every major grocery chain now offers soymilk and almond milk in the dairy cases. But even more options are available.

Although I was accustomed to the “beany” taste of soymilk, I can’t say I ever really got off on it. About a year ago, my friend Jill recommended coconut milk, and I haven’t gone back to soy since. I love the creamy texture of the coconut milk in my coffee, soups, and baked treats. I buy the organic So Delicious brand, which can be found in the refrigerated section. Aseptic packaging on the shelf is also available, so I keep a few extras in the pantry. Try it in broccoli rice soup.

I love the taste of almond milk. Although some brands lack the thick, creamy texture that I prefer for coffee, it’s a great choice for cereal and also in baked cranberry walnut oatmeal. It also adds a terrific nutty flavor to smoothies.

Hazelnut milk is similar to almond milk. Look for it in aseptic packages on the shelf.

Like soymilk, rice milk is available in unsweetened versions as well as flavors like vanilla and chocolate. Although I don’t cook or bake with it, I do use it in smoothies. And the mini packages are nice to take along on trips and camping excursions – no refrigeration required.

One dairy-free milk that I haven’t tried yet is hemp milk. It’s on my next shopping list. Let us know if you’ve tried it.

So Delicious coconut milk

Our favorite all-purpose “milk”

broccoli rice soup

broccoli rice soup
This soup tastes creamy (without the cream).

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
4 cups broccoli florets
1 cup soymilk or coconut milk
1 tsp. dried basil
Pinch Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large stewpot. Sauté onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and rice. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until rice is tender (about 20 minutes).

2. While the rice cooks, steam the broccoli florets until they’re tender (but not mushy).

3. Allow the rice mixture to cool a bit, and then ladle into a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Process the rice mixture with the broccoli florets. Return the soup to the stewpot and stir in milk and spices. Heat through and serve. Serves 4.

easy weeknight vegetables in curry sauce

There’s no need to serve an uninspired meal after a long day at work. This dish is super fast, and the tasty sauce easily rivals one from your local ethnic family restaurant. The bonus of eating at home: You get to personalize it with your favorite veggies. We included more ingredient ideas below the recipe.

vegetables in curry sauce
Rice or udon noodles

1 14-oz. can coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and paprika

2 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, chopped
16-oz. frozen stir-fry vegetable blend (ours included edamame, carrots, mushrooms, bamboo shoots), thawed
14-oz. can baby corn
Fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Start preparing rice or udon noodles according to package directions. While the water boils or the rice cooker heats up, prepare the veggies.

2. In a small pot, combine coconut milk and salt, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and paprika. Heat on low while veggies cook, stirring occasionally.

3. Heat the canola oil in a large pan or wok. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add mushrooms and zucchini; cook for 3 minutes or so. Add thawed frozen vegetables and canned vegetables at the end; cook until heated through.

4. Serve veggies over cooked rice or noodles, and spoon curry sauce over the top. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro leaves.

More ingredient ideas: Sliced kale ribbons, a handful of fresh spinach, tofu or tempeh cubes, canned water chestnuts or straw mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, diced chili peppers, fresh ginger, tomato

grapefruit soda

We’re extremely fond of a certain imported Italian grapefruit soda from a well-known natural foods chain. Inspired by the abundance of excellent citrus in stores right now, we wondered if we could make our own homemade grapefruit soda and duplicate the flavor of the imported soda. Well, the results were REALLY GOOD.

First, halve a grapefruit and squeeze the juice from the fruit. (We averaged about 3/4 cup of juice from each grapefruit, but these seemed to be very juicy, and I suspect that most grapefruits may yield a bit less.) Pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup juice per glass. Add sparkling mineral water and a squirt of agave nectar if you like a bit of sweetness. Stir and add ice. Sip and enjoy.

homemade grapefruit soda

homemade grapefruit soda

Latin-inspired meal

Fried plantains, fiesta beans and rice, and pico de gallo. This meal is a medley of Latin-inspired flavors, and these three items work SO well together. The slightly sour bite of the lime in the pico de gallo is balanced by the warm, sweet plantains…and the beans and rice complement both of them. I found myself trying to get a bit of all three on the fork at the same time…try it!

A Latin medley

A Latin medley

pico de gallo

pico_de_gallo
This delightful, fresh Mexican condiment, also called salsa fresca, is simple and delicious. Use it as a taco or burrito topping, or pair it with plantains and black beans and rice for a Latin-inspired dinner. Or just dip your chips in it.

2 large, ripe tomatoes, cored and seeded
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium red or sweet onion, finely diced
1 to 2 finely diced Serrano chiles (or more, depending on your heat tolerance)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate briefly before serving. Pico de gallo is best served shortly after preparing it.

a new favorite: Chimayo chile powder

We adore heirloom foods and ethnic ingredients, so we cheered the tale of the Chimayo Chile Project and the efforts of the Native Hispanic Institute in Santa Fe to preserve this 400-year-old chile. We purchased some back in November and promised to test it and let you know the results.

Well, we LOVE this chile powder. We tried it in veggie chili, south of the border soup, burritos, and breakfast potatoes. It adds a delightful, subtle smoky heat that we are now addicted to. And look at this amazing color:

Chimayo chile powder

Is this a fabulous color or what?

Chimayo chile powder

I will reserve a spot for Chimayo Red in my spice drawer.

homemade vanilla extract

I recently experienced sticker shock at the grocery store while shopping for vanilla extract, which prompted me to instead purchase vanilla beans and vodka. Time to make homemade vanilla extract!

First, I checked Barnivore to find a vegan-friendly vodka and settled on a pint of Skyy. Then I found two empty jars with lids. You can use one large jar, but I’m going to divide my batch and give my kitchen cohort Sue a jar of homemade vanilla extract so that she can bake something yummy for me.

extract_fixins

Slice four or five vanilla beans down the middle and split each one, place them in the jar(s), and cover with vodka. Seal tightly and let sit for at least 5 weeks. The longer they stew, the stronger your extract will be.

winter minestrone

winter minestrone
If you’re experiencing post-holiday blues and you’re still facing weeks of winter weather, try focusing on one really good thing about winter: big pots of hot soup. This one incorporates the best of winter’s produce offerings.

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 carrots, diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp. thyme
8 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 can cannellini beans, undrained
1 cup small pasta shapes (we used spirals)
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups kale leaves, washed and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a stewpot over medium heat. Sautè the onion 5 minutes or until transparent. Add celery and garlic; stir to combine. Stir in the carrots, turnip, and potatoes. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Add spices, vegetable broth, and barley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.

3. Add beans, pasta, and tomato paste. Return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook over medium heat until the pasta is tender.

4. Stir in the chopped kale and cook for about 5 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

vegan peanut butter dog biscuits

Your best furry friend enjoys treats. Store-bought dog biscuits often contain scary unmentionable by-products, and natural and organic treats can be budget-busters. What’s a dog guardian to do? Roll up your sleeves, heat the oven, and start mixing.

Combine the following in a large mixing bowl:

1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
2 Tbs. canola oil

Roll the dough out on a floured surface to a uniform thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes. (We used cutters shaped like dog bones, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.) Place shaped dough on a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Vegan peanut butter dog biscuits, ready for the oven!

Vegan peanut butter dog biscuits, ready for the oven!

Find a good excuse to give your pup a tasty treat, warm from the oven. Store leftover biscuits in an airtight container.

handsome dog eating homemade vegan peanut butter biscuits

Rex loves homemade peanut butter biscuits!

a visit to the all-vegan Vegetarian House in Portland

I recently traveled to Portland on business and had some time to kill before the big evening event. Of course I visited Powell’s books (it took all of my willpower to leave the cookbook aisle without an armload of new acquisitions), and then I headed back to my hotel a few miles away on foot. It was a cold, damp, windy, dreary day, and just as I was starting to think how wonderful a hot drink and a bite to eat would be, I saw this:

The all-vegan Vegetarian House restaurant in Portland

The all-vegan Vegetarian House restaurant in Portland

The waitperson was friendly, the tea was hot, and the tasty all-vegan lunch buffet was $7. Enough said. When in Portland, pay this little establishment a visit.

thai cucumber salad

The flavor combination of vinegar, sugar, and crushed red peppers is downright addictive.

2 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced
4 Tbs. kosher salt (you can substitute regular salt)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
3 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 cup peanuts, finely chopped
Scallions for garnish

1. Place the cucumber slices in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Drain for about 30 minutes. Rinse slices; drain again.

2. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and red pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Cool.

3. In a medium bowl, combine drained cucumber slices with vinegar mixture. Chill before serving. Garnish with chopped peanuts and scallions.

cindy’s italian salad dressing

Use fresh herbs for best results.

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. ground mustard seed
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped fine
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 tsp. fresh dill weed, chopped fine

Combine all ingredients in a large container; combine with a whisk. Keep refrigerated.

artisan bread

artisan_bread
Love the flavor and texture of artisan loaves from the bakery but tired of paying sky-high prices? Make your own for a fraction of the cost! Yes, baking your own bread can be time-consuming, but it’s also very satisfying. And once you taste that warm, crunchy crust fresh from your oven, you may never go back to store-bought breads.

Here’s a basic recipe to get you started. No kneading is required. Feel free to experiment with some variations: Try topping with coarse salt, sprinkling some dried herbs into the dough, or adding some special ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped olives, or sprigs of fresh rosemary.

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 packet yeast (~ 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 tsp. sugar
3 1/4 cups organic, all-purpose unbleached flour (if using whole wheat or bread flour, increase the amount of water by 1/4 cup) plus a bit more for dusting
3/4 Tbs. coarse kosher or sea salt
Olive oil

1. Mix 1/4 cup of the warm water with the yeast and sugar. Let stand for about 8 minutes until yeast is foamy.

2. Add remaining warm water. Mix flour and salt in until well incorporated (try adding the flour 1 cup at a time). Dough will be “wet” or rather sticky. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp dish towel, and let rise for 2 hours in a warm, draft-free area. (If our house is cool and drafty on baking day, we place the bowl inside the oven on its lowest setting with the door propped open a bit.) Note that the dough may be hard to work at this stage.

3. After the dough rises, place it on a tabletop lightly dusted with flour. Divide dough into two small rounds* if desired, or just make one loaf. Add a little more flour if the dough is sticky and hard to work. Sprinkle flour on top of dough, and tuck sides under to create desired loaf shape(s). Place dough on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Allow it to rest for approximately 40 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 450°. For best results, add 3/4 to 1 cup boiling water to a broiler tray on the bottom rack. This creates steam in the oven and improves the texture of your loaf. (As a precaution, cover your oven window with a dish towel while adding the water container, and be very careful to avoid splashing water on the window to prevent cracking it.)

5. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until golden brown. Oven times and temperatures vary, but with practice, you’ll be able to produce a picture-perfect loaf every time.

*A small round loaf of artisan bread is sometimes called a “boule” (from the French word for ball).

confessions of a junk food vegan

a guest post by Bettina Rosmarino

When I first became a vegetarian years ago while in college, I had no concept of nutrition. A box of crackers would sometimes suffice as my sustenance for the day. Sure, I’d read the literature about complete proteins and mixing your legumes with your grains. But hell if I knew what a grain even was. I was in college; ergo, I was poor, at the mercy of the dining room, and I got most of my calories from beer. I tried. I did. I combined cottage cheese with Cap’n Crunch cereal. That was a complete protein, right?

Even after college, when I was working and earning a living wage, I didn’t take the time and opportunity to educate myself about healthful eating. I wasn’t healthy at this time, and I was also overweight. When people learned that I was a vegetarian, they were always surprised. I did lose weight after I gave up cheese and started working out, but I still suffered from bouts of lethargy and dizziness.

When I moved to Colorado in my mid-twenties, I became a vegan. I lived with my sister who, to this day, continues to be a self-professed junk-food vegan. She showed me the wonders of fake meats, processed vegan food, and vegan cookies chockfull of chemicals. I loved it all and truth be told, I found it easy to be vegan on that kind of diet. I still ate fruits and vegetables, just not enough. I knew that I was probably slightly anemic and that I sometimes failed to get enough protein. I had almost a completely carb-based diet with some occasional tofu and fake meat products thrown in. And I only eliminated about three times a week.

When I moved to California a few years ago, I realized that my diet needed an overhaul. My hair was thinning and, unfortunately, it sometimes takes an aesthetic problem to wake you up to underlying issues. I had my Total Binding Capacity and ferritin level checked, and although they were within the normal range, they were on the low end. I also realized that according to the formula used to determine the daily recommended amount of protein grams (for someone who exercises, it should be between .5 and .7 grams per pound of body weight), I was deficient. Also, I was probably deficient in Omega 3s (even meat eaters are typically deficient in this essential fatty acid).

So I overhauled. I incorporated a protein shake in the morning with flax, wheatgrass, sunflower seeds, and fruit. I started eating brown rice, veggies, and tofu or a salad with legumes for lunch. I eat fruit daily, and I eat a salad or greens and veggies (including sea vegetables) at night. I moved away from processed foods, and I instantly saw improvement. I have more energy, I’m happier, I can run faster, I eliminate more than once a day, and my hair grew. I now realize that although I felt like I was healthy because I gave up meat, eggs, and cheese products, I still had to work to achieve true health.

When people ask, “So what do vegans eat?”, I tell them. Eat flaxseeds for Omega 3s and sunflower seeds for Omega 6s. Eat wheatgrass and greens. Juice ‘em if you have to, but I like them steamed with lemon juice and garlic. (Raw is always best, though.) Eat a variety of fruits, but try to stick with what’s in season. Strive to only eat organic products. They are becoming easier to find and are cheaper than a few years ago. My last piece of advice for vegans is to supplement with a vitamin and maybe even an iron pill because iron is very difficult to absorb unless it comes from heme sources (read: animal flesh). You should seek advice for supplementation from a nutritionist or a doctor, but I think educating yourself is important too.

List of Essentials:

Wide variety of vegetables: greens (collards, kale, chard, spinach, lettuce), tomatoes, carrots, celery, cabbage, potatoes, yams, onions, garlic, etc.
Fruits: in season, but I eat apples, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, and grapes year-round
Grains: brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, amaranth
Legumes: tofu, tempeh, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, miso, brown rice protein powder
Seeds and nuts: peanut butter, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, cashews
Sea vegetables: dulse, wakame, arame.

Even though I still eat an occasional fake meat or processed food, my diet is pretty much devoid of the chemicals that are part and parcel of standard grocery fare. I am blessed with year-round farmers’ markets and easy access to organic grocery stores, and I’ve also noticed that organics and fruit-sweetened items are appearing on the shelves of my local Kroger’s.

The process of educating oneself on eating well and being a vegan is a daunting one, I know. I wish that when I first decided to take the ethical and enlightened path in life, someone had stressed to me how important the nutritional aspect was. Convenience is easier but far less rewarding. And anyway, eating foods made from chemicals or stripped-down versions of plant products is really just buying into the industry that’s making sickness a way of life for most people on the planet. So while you’re out there protesting the murderous fur industry or evil vivisectors, do it with a shot of wheatgrass and a carrot juice chaser. Hopefully, we’ll outlast them.

Author Bettina Rosmarino uses her high energy levels to further animal rights and save the planet. She can be reached at brosmar at hotmail dot com.

asparagus “cream” soup

asparagus "cream" soup
Asparagus is full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It has been cultivated around the world for centuries, dating as far back as ancient Egypt. What’s the secret to tender asparagus? Using a paring knife, cut a half-inch off the bottom of the stalk. If it cuts easily, it will be tender. If it resists cutting, try again a half-inch higher until you find the place where it can be sliced easily.

This soup is light, healthy and tasty. It’s great for a spring lunch or light supper. Try topping it with spicy croutons, and maybe a dollop of soy sour cream.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced (about 2/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-oz. cans vegetable broth
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 bunches of medium-size asparagus (about 7 cups, when chopped into 1-inch pieces)
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
6 to 8 mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup of your favorite non-dairy milk

1. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is transparent (about 5 minutes). Add broth, carrots, celery, and asparagus. Reduce heat. Simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes.

2. Add spinach, mushrooms, parsley, and salt. Simmer another 30 minutes.

3. Turn off heat and add soy milk; stir. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with croutons and a dollop of soy sour cream (if desired).

roasted rosemary potatoes

roasted_rosemary_potatoes
Here’s a fast, easy side dish. We added some leftover bell peppers to provide nice color, but you can omit them and use only potatoes if you prefer. The fresh rosemary smells divine.

4 Tbs. good-quality olive oil
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh rosemary
Sea salt crystals (to taste)

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Combine olive oil, vegetables, rosemary, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss until veggies are coated with oil and salt.

2. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread vegetables evenly over foil. Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are desired consistency.

tempeh vegetable stir fry in curry peanut sauce

tempeh vegetable stir fry with peanut curry sauce
This is a really flavorful sauce that could be the foundation for a zillion variations. Try tofu or a chicken substitute instead of tempeh. Add some shitake mushrooms. Use brown or white rice instead of soba noodles. Omit the curry powder and just enjoy the peanut sauce.

sauce:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 Tbs. agave nectar
4 Tbs. white miso
2 Tbs. sesame oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 cup water

stir fry:
2 Tbs. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
8 oz. tempeh, cubed
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 16-oz. bag frozen Asian-style stir-fry veggies
Salt and pepper to taste

Package soba noodles (or brown or white rice)

1. In a medium-size pot over medium heat, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, making sure all peanut butter and miso lumps are dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Fill a pot with water and bring to boil for soba noodles. Cook according to package directions.

3. Heat the oil over medium heat in a wok or heavy skillet. Add the garlic, onion, bell peppers, and tempeh. Stir fry for about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and frozen veggies and continue to stir fry until the vegetables are just tender. Stir in the peanut sauce; heat tempeh and veggies until simmering. Remove from heat and serve over soba noodles.

south of the border soup

south of the border soup

Make sure you use red and yellow bell peppers for this soup. The colors contrast beautifully with the brilliant green cilantro for a festive dish. If you prefer vegan chowder, stir in 2 cups of your favorite unsweetened non-dairy milk after your soup is ready. Heat through and serve.

2 Tbs. canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 1/4 cups vegetable broth, divided
2 Tbs. flour
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
6 cups water
2 Tbs. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4-5 medium), peeled and diced
2 cups frozen corn
1 4-oz. can diced green chilies, undrained
1 14-oz. can pinto beans, drained
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large stewpot over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the canola oil until the onion is translucent. Add the bell peppers. Stir in 1/4 cup vegetable broth, flour, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Cook for about 5 minutes.

2. Add remaining 2 cups vegetable broth and water. Stir in Worcestershire sauce. Add potatoes and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Increase heat to medium and stir in frozen corn, green chilies, pinto beans, and cilantro. Cook for about 5 more minutes until ingredients are heated through.

3. If making chowder, add soy milk and heat through. Serve with warm tortillas, tortilla chips, or a green salad. Optional: Mexican beer with a lime wedge.

black bean soup

The sun-dried tomatoes are a tasty addition to this hearty soup.

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dried, not in oil)
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 4-oz. can diced green chilies
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 15-oz. cans black beans
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Put sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl. Add enough boiling water to completely cover the tomatoes. Cover the dish and set aside.

2. In a large stewpot over medium heat, sautè the onion and garlic in the canola oil until the onion is translucent. Stir in the green chilies, cumin, broth, and tomatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Chop the softened sun-dried tomatoes and add to the soup. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the black beans and cook for 5 minutes.

3. If you have an immersion blender, use it to puree about half of the soup. If you’re using a blender or food processor, process about half of the soup and return to the pot. Add salt and stir.

4. Serve with tortillas and a side salad (or maybe some tortilla chips).

mary lou’s baked butternut squash with apples

A hearty fall dish!

1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise with seeds removed
1 apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces
Cinnamon
Cloves (optional)
Maple syrup
Brandy and brown sugar (optional)
Vegan margarine or canola oil for greasing baking dish

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Poke squash skin with a fork and microwave face down on a plate for 10 minutes. Remove squash when soft; peel and mash.

2. Cover chopped apple with cinnamon (and cloves, if desired). Drizzle with maple syrup or brandy and brown sugar. Mix with mashed squash.

3. Grease a baking dish with the margarine or canola oil, and add the squash and apple mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.

watermelon granita

Jill says: “When life gives you watermelons, make granita.”

4 cups seedless watermelon chunks
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

1. In a food processor, purée all the ingredients until smooth. Pour into a shallow, wide pan and freeze for 1 hour.

2. Rake with a fork, and then freeze for an additional hour. Repeat.

3. Remove from the freezer, rake, and serve in cups. Makes 2 cups.

ratatouille

Ratatouille is a wonderfully flavorful French vegetable stew; it can be eaten hot or cold, and it’s very filling! Try adding a thick-sliced fresh baguette to complement this tasty vegetable stew. This recipe takes advantage of your summer garden vegetables. Allow some prep time – you’ll be slicing and dicing. We added a teaspoon of Herbs de Provence for an intense country French flavor.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 14-oz. can vegetable stock
1 large eggplant, diced
3 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/4″ slices
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
1 tsp. dried Herbs de Provence
3 Roma tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and diced)
5 sprigs Italian parsley, finely chopped
8-10 basil leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and continue to sauté until onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and stir. Pour in vegetable broth and stir until the liquid begins to bubble.

2. Add the diced eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, and dried Herbs de Provence. Stir gently to combine, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. It may look like there is not enough liquid, but do not add liquid – the vegetables will release a lot juice as they cook. Just keep stirring every couple of minutes. The vegetables should be tender but not mushy.

3. Stir in the diced tomatoes. After a minute or two, the tomatoes will be heated through. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Stir in the chopped parsley and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste – Sue adds about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Although ratatouille is usually served hot, it is also delicious served at room temperature the next day, which allows the vegetables a chance to reach their optimum flavor.

southern-fried tofu

Rumor has it that southern-fried tofu will steal the show at a potluck. Try it and see for yourself. We credit Stephanie Tidwell, who hails from the South herself, for this recipe.

1 lb. firm tofu (Stephanie recommends White Wave Tidal Wave)

marinade:
1/3 cup tamari or shoyu soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin or sherry
Splash of balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Splash of sesame oil
1 Tbs. chicken-flavored broth (meatless) (look in the bulk foods department of your natural foods store)

breading:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 tsp. seasoning salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Canola oil for frying

1. Cut tofu into slabs or strips. Mix all marinade ingredients; marinate tofu for at least 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, mix breading ingredients. In a deep pan, heat oil (test by dropping a tiny piece of tofu into the oil—if it sizzles, it’s ready). Coat tofu slabs with breading mix and fry in oil until golden brown on all sides. (For a healthier version, lightly grease a pan and bake breaded tofu slabs in a 350° oven. Turn once after about 25 minutes and bake for another 15 or 20 minutes.)

living tree energy soup

Thanks to Living Tree Community Foods for providing this recipe.

The inspiration for this soup comes from several sources, including an excellent booklet, Nature’s Healing Grasses. It was written some 30 years ago by H.E. Kirschner, a physician who healed people afflicted with serious illness by putting them on a simple regimen: They would prepare a “green drink” at least once a day. It consisted of several greens, including “weeds” like malva, purslane, and lambs-quarters, as well as cultivated greens like parsley, placed in a blender and blended with pineapple juice.

I call it an “energy soup” because in my experience, it is easily digested and has the effect of enhancing one’s aliveness and well-being. We’ve been preparing “energy soup” at Living Tree Community for over a decade. We serve it at every meal. Here’s our basic recipe:

3 carrots, sliced thinly or diced
2 beets, sliced thinly or diced
1 apple or cucumber (in season), diced
Chopped parsley, celery, kale, collards, arugula, endive, spinach, cabbage, cilantro, chard, and lettuce (your choice)
Avocado
Lemon juice

Put the mixture into a blender. Add spring water or freshly made carrot juice. If you want to supercharge the drink, add a handful of wheatgrass. Blend into a thick, smooth “soup.” Serve immediately.

Variations: Grind some flax, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, or chia seeds in a seed mill or coffee grinder and toss it in, or add a chopped apple.

auntie sue’s peach cobbler

This dessert is perfect for a fast weeknight meal.

2 15-oz. cans sliced peaches in syrup, drained
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup vegan margarine, melted

Place peaches in a 1-quart shallow baking dish. Combine flour, sugar, oats, walnuts, and cinnamon. Stir in melted vegan margarine until crumbly; sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with your favorite frozen soy or rice dessert, if desired.

creamy potato soup

Cold nights require a great soup recipe. This one fits the bill.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4-5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
2 cups vegetable broth
3 cups plain, unsweetened soymilk or coconut milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. dried sage
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and potatoes for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and vegetable broth and cover pot. Reduce heat and cook until vegetables are soft (about 20 minutes).

2. Add soymilk or coconut milk and spices. Cook until heated through. Use your favorite method to puree the soup: blender, immersion blender, or food processor. You can also mash the potatoes with a potato masher for a chunkier soup. Serve with some crusty bread.

thai chili tofu

Chef Robert Church, author of The Tao of Tofu, was kind enough to share this recipe with us. Lime and chilies give a tart and spicy hue to this variation of the Thai classic. The vegetables provide additional flavor and color.

1 16-ounce block extra-firm tofu, pressed, drained, and cut into planks
2 Tbs. light vegetable oil
1 medium carrot, cut into 2″ matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, seeded, veined, and cut into 2″ matchsticks
2 Tbs. light vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, serrano, or Thai bird chili, seeded, veined, and finely diced
2 Tbs. tamari, shoyu, or generic soy sauce
1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 Tbs. palm sugar or light brown sugar

1. In a medium-size sautè pan or wok, fry tofu in the vegetable oil until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.

2. Heat the vegetable oil to medium-high, add the carrot and bell pepper, and sautè 1 minute. Add the garlic, and carefully sautè 1 minute more. Don’t burn the garlic. Add the tofu and continue to cook.

3. Whisk together the chili, tamari, lime juice, ginger, and sugar. Pour into the pan and toss with the vegetables and tofu. Cook until the sauce thickens and coats all the ingredients.

banana streusel pie

Bananas and streusel? It’s an unusual combination, and it works.

1 vegan pie crust (homemade or prepared; we used a Wholly Natural frozen pie crust from a natural foods store)

filling:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
3 medium bananas, sliced

streusel topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup almonds, finely chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup vegan margarine

1. Prepare the pie crust; set aside. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine and heat the sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and continue to stir for 2 minutes. The mixture will gradually thicken. Remove from heat; add banana slices. Pour filling into prepared pie crust.

3. Prepare the streusel. Combine topping ingredients in a medium bowl until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over banana filling. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until topping is nicely browned and filling is bubbly.

summer salsa

What a great way to use up those extra tomatoes from your garden.

4 large, ripe tomatoes
1-2 Tbs. seeded jalapeño peppers
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt

1. Remove skins from tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for less than 1 minute and then plunging them into ice water. Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds, and chop.

2. Combine chopped tomatoes with remaining ingredients. Add fewer or more jalapeños to taste.

red beans & rice

Thanks to Corrie for sharing one of her favorite dishes with us. It’s tasty with or without the vegetarian “sausage.”

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 15-oz. cans kidney beans (1 can drained, 2 cans with juices)
1 15-oz. can Italian stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. Creole or Cajun seasoning or 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves
3 cups cooked rice
1 package vegetarian “sausage” (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sautè until onion is brown (about 15 minutes).

2. Add kidney beans with their juices, stewed tomatoes, Creole seasoning, and the bay leaves. If you like it spicy, try adding the Cajun/Creole seasoning, a few dashes of cayenne pepper, and about 1/2 tsp. cumin.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until flavors are blended and mixture is very thick, stirring occasionally (about 45 minutes). If using the vegetarian “sausage,” slice and add to mixture about 20 minutes before serving.

4. Divide cooked rice among large, shallow soup bowls. Spoon bean mixture over rice and serve. Serves 6.

mushroom salad

Fresh herbs and exotic mushrooms combine to make a memorable salad.

1 lb. of fresh mixed mushrooms (such as shitake, oyster, or chanterelle), trimmed and sliced
1/4 cup white wine (if you prefer, substitute vegetable broth or apple juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, oregano, or parsley
12-oz. package fancy salad mix

1. Heat oven to 325°. Place sliced mushrooms on a large piece of foil. Top mushrooms with wine; drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and rosemary. Fold foil to create a packet; bake in oven until mushrooms are tender (about 20 minutes).

2. Mix fancy salad greens with fresh herbs. Arrange on plates. Top with warm mushroom mixture. Serves 4.

hungarian bean soup

Making a big pot of soup chockfull of vegetables is a weekend ritual around here, and Hungarian Bean Soup is a favorite.

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
6 cups vegetable stock (if you prefer, use vegetarian chicken-flavor broth)
2 bay leaves
1 14-oz. can pinto beans, drained
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a large stewpot. Sautè celery, onion, carrots, and garlic until vegetables begin to soften (about 10 minutes).

2. Add vegetable stock; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; add bay leaves, cover, and simmer until celery is soft (about 30 minutes). Add pinto beans, paprika, oregano, and basil. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

3. Add salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaves and serve with sides of salad and/or crusty peasant bread.