My father gave me one of his old cameras. It's complicated, I really do not understand it. It makes me want to cry a little bit, actually. Seems like I can never get it to focus right. Nevertheless, this entry is my first foray into photography with my new Sigma DP1S, so try not to judge me too much, OK?
Food time. Let's start way back. Do you guys read the Earth Balance web site Made Just Right? They send me an email or two every day, and I check out the recipes they post. The recipes are submitted by readers and bloggers -- they're not tested by anyone, but that's OK by me. I like to test things. Anyway, back in March, they posted a recipe for Lemon Tofu with Pasta & Vegan Cream Basil Sauce, which came from the blog Mighty Vegan. I had never read that blog before, but now I love it! At the time, I made the recipe for a bunch of my girlfriends, and it was delicious, so I made it again more recently, figuring I'd, you know, take a picture this time and post it on my blog, and talk about it, as I so enjoy doing.
Couple things. The recipe, as printed on Made Just Right, is way too complicated. I didn't make it gluten free, just used normal pasta. Also, it never tells you when to add the lemon juice or, more importantly, to what. There are three parts to the recipe: the tofu, the veggies, and the sauce. OK, and the pasta part, but that's just "boil the pasta." Eventually, I found the original recipe as posted on Mighty Vegan, and it turned out the lemon juice was supposed to have been added to the tofu. Well, guess what, I added it to the sauce. And guess what: IT WAS DELICIOUS THAT WAY. I did it again that way the second time, cuz why mess with a good thing? Also, the basil cream sauce was apparently just supposed to be drizzled atop the tofu and veggies at the end, but I wasn't feeling that, so I mixed it into the pasta. The recipe makes so much sauce that there's plenty to mix in. Then I put the tofu and veggies on the pasta. One more thing! The veggie portion doesn't call for any onion or garlic to be sauteed in it, but I was like "F that!" and added them both. Actually, the recipe does say, "Put whatever veggies you want into it" (not in those exact words). My point is, I guess, the recipe is written in a way that is somewhat problematic, but it's an excellent recipe, and on the Mighty Vegan site, it's written much more clearly.
Next! On the day that was the hottest of 2012 thus far, I thought I'd prove I was hardcore by not giving up my plans to bake jalapeno cornbread and have some friends over for a dinner of home-cooked chili. I made Veganomicon's Skillet Corn Bread -- the Jalapeno-onion variation. I actually totally failed to take a picture of it while it was all pretty in my cast iron skillet, but my friend Julian did, so here it is. I don't know why the pic's all long and stuff.
And then I also made, from Quick-Fix Vegan, the Smoky Chipotle-Chocolate Chili. I made it nice and spicy. This book is so great! It's just so easy to throw something together from it, yet the recipes are solidly tasty.
Do you know what the problem is with cornbread that has veggies cooked into it? You either have to keep it refrigerated, speeding up its getting stale, or let it turn to poison on your counter. I did both, half and half. What I learned is that there is absolutely no point in NOT putting it into the fridge (as I said -- poison), but putting it into the fridge sucks too. I've made all the variations of the Skillet Corn Bread, but, well, never again, I'm only making the original recipe now. They are delicious, especially the double corn one, but totally not worth it if you intend to have leftovers. I ended up throwing much of the bread out, and then I was left with tons of spicy chili (I'd doubled the recipe) with no starch to temper it. The solution I came up with was to make some kind of vegan mac and cheese and mix it into the chili. It would have to be the "cheater" kind of mac, not the kind you bake. I decided to do the nice and simple one that's in Vegan Diner, called Cheezy Mac. Brilliant idea, me! I mixed them together and enjoyed the hell out of my leftovers.
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But wait, there's more! For dessert, I finally made something from Vegan Pie in the Sky! It came out, when? October of last year, November? I had it pre-ordered, and then I proceeded to never bake from it. I know that there are those out there who would consider me an inexperienced baker no matter how many cookies I make because I have not perfected pies. Those people are really not wrong: there is a pie-shaped hole in my heart. But I finally bought a spring form pan and I started with something easy: Chocolate Galaxy Banana Cheesecake.
It looks kinda shiny, that's too bad. It's really quite beautiful in person. Also, I'd never made a graham cracker crust or any kind of cheesecake, so I didn't realize that I didn't need to push the crumbs against the sides of the pan to be so high up. I wasn't thinking straight, I guess. Live and learn, though, my next cheesecake will have a neater, more-tame crust.
The question stands, though, how did it taste? AMAZEBALLS! Really, so extremely good. I'm a fan of the old bananas-in-baked-goods trick, and this, thankfully, contained no vegan cream cheese. If it had, I would not have made it, because I hate that crap. Instead, it had silken tofu. I didn't think it really tasted like a real cream cheese cheesecake, more like a delicious cream pie, but some non-vegan friends who ate some told me they would not have guessed it wasn't "real" cheesecake" if I had not told them. Probably, I'm just harder on my own cooking/baking than others are.
Oh my god, there's so much more. It HAS been two months since I last posted. For my friend Mary's graduation party, I made these Two-Tomato Pastry Purses from Quick-Fix Vegan. I only managed to hold on to one to take a picture of, and it's leftover and doesn't look as good as it originally did, but let me tell you, these are great, so so easy, and were a huge hit with everyone. The olives cook in with the tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes in this way that makes it taste like they were cooked with wine, which they totally weren't. And puff pastry -- who doesn't love puff pastry? So delicious.
I also made some chocolate chip cookies for her party, which I forgot to photograph, but someday in the future I will tell you all about how I've made every kind of vegan chocolate chip cookies and finally found a recipe that is as delectable and chewy as the butter-filled kind and it's actually kinda healthy! But that's for another time.
OK, just one more thing! So I went away for this past weekend (when I get the pictures, I'll post about what I cooked during my weekend at the beach!) and when I got home, I didn't have a chance to cook and I hadn't been shopping but a girl's gotta eat, right? So, TO THE FREEZER! I had some frozen hamburger buns, some of those Black Bean Sunburgers frozen from before, but no fixins, really. You know, no onion, lettuce, tomato. What else? Well, I also had some frozen pesto! I have five basil plants going (and going quite well, if I may say so myself) and so I'd made some pesto and frozen it. I heated up a burger, spread the defrosted pesto onto it, and put it on a defrosted bun. Presto, pesto! (OK, that was lame, shut up.)
ONE FINAL THING. Happy 2 year anniversary, blog! I may have neglected you on occasion, but you're never far from my thoughts.