Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Eating Better: Lunch and Dinner Edition, and Preparing for Vegan Mofo

Even though I've been blogging since 2010, and this really ought to be the third year I participate in Vegan Mofo, I've never done it before.  The thought of posting Every. Single. Day. for the Vegan Month of Food was all, like, whoa.  I mean, who has something to post about every day?  OK, I know there are people like that, and they are just incredibly amazing bloggers, but I'm not that amazing.  I don't even invent recipes!  I just cook from books and act all pithy and stuff!

It occurred to me, though, that this October, it's actually possible for me to participate in Vegan Mofo because, well, remember that WTF-long break I took from blogging?  Well, during that time, I was all, "No, really, eventually I'll blog this crap!" and I took pictures (in my dark, dark kitchen).  And now those pictures just sit on my computer, feeling neglected and resentful.  No more!  Those pictures have a job to do now.  They shall fill the Vegan Month of Food with its titular food, for the titular month.  And, you know, I'll blog currently-cooked things as well.  It's gonna be a blast!  I love October, don't you?  Something big happens to me every October, either something bad or good, but always something momentous.  Like, last year, my precious 1985 Mazda 626 took its last gasps and died.  And Elliott Smith died in an October.  And I've met a number of my longer-term partners in various Octobers.  And I had my first kiss in an October.  And I got my first period in an October.  And I first started working in law in an October.  I hope it's not something that sucks this year.  But even if it is, at least the Mofo will keep me satiated.  Mofo!

Let's talk dinner?  Trying to eat more veggies and less crap, I decided to make The Happy Herbivore's Blue Torn Chickpea Tacos.  Only, I didn't want any corn taco shells.  Instead, I cooked some of the bulk wild rice they sell at the East End Food Co-Op to use as the base of the recipe, and made the crispy spiced chickpeas from this recipe.  Then I just put some nice green lettuce and tomato from my garden atop.
Not too shabby.  I also made the tofu-based Lime Creme Sour Cream the author suggests to serve it with.  I'm not crazy about tofu sour cream, but mixed it all into this, and it was pretty good.  Those chickpeas would be a great snack on their own for a lot of people.  Like, instead of wasabi peas, have some chili chickpeas.  Hey, that's got a nice ring!

Having gotten the book Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner pretty much as soon as it was released, I knew I needed to make something from it despite the high fat content of the cashew-based cheese.  Probably most people who read this blog know about the book; it is taking the vegan world by storm because it's truly ingenious.  The author decided to make plant-based cheeses using the same ideas about fermentation that dairy cheese-culturing uses.  Most vegan cheeses try to imitate the flavor of dairy cheese, but completely fail to imitate the sharp flavor of good cheese.  She gives you methods for creating friendly bacteria that will interact with cashews as it sits on your counter and cultures. You taste it along the way until it reaches the flavor you want.  This book takes some commitment, and it truly requires you to be active about creating a food work of art.  You simply must use your taste buds to decide when it's ready. 

One of the easiest recipes in the book, the Cashew Cream Cheese, uses the bacteria in non-dairy yogurt as its culturing agent.  She's also so kind as to give you a recipe for cashew yogurt that lets you buy a non-dairy yogurt from the store only once--you use just a bit to ferment a cashew-based yogurt, and you can keep saving just a bit of it to make more.  But this time for the cream cheese I just used some soy yogurt from the store.  Mix it with soaked raw cashews, let it ferment until it tastes like cream cheese!  It's that easy.  There's a bit of salt and water, too.  But that's it.  And it's really good!  It tastes like cream cheese.  I mixed some sun-dried tomatoes and garlic (and more salt) into half of it to make her Sun-Dried Tomato and Garlic Cream Cheese and kept the rest plain for other uses.

And then I went to the book Practically Raw and made the stupid-easy and good Rosemary-Garlic Bread.  It's a bread made from zucchini, almond and oat flour, flaxseed, dates, and some spices and lemon juice.  Like many/most of the recipes in the book, there's an option for dehydrating and an option for baking.  I had to bake it, but someday I'll get a dehydrator, I know.  This bread and the cream cheese was a match made in heaven!
I was so blown away by the extreme tastiness of these two things that I pretty much attacked everyone I encountered and made them eat some.  I gave a bit to the only person at my office besides me who is seriously interested in healthier foods, and he absolutely could not believe that the cream cheese was non-dairy.  He said the thing that people always say: "You could sell this!"  People just say that because they can't understand doing something good and productive for pleasure and for more-roundabout rewards, instead of for profit.  I always say, "Someone already DOES sell it.  I bought the recipe in a cookbook!"

Do you want to see the bread on its own?  OK, here it is.
You know, I'd been looking for a really great savory zucchini bread recipe.  During Vegan Mofo, I'll show you a failed attempt of mine.  This is perfect, though.  Yet, it's got no wheat.  And uses unprocessed foods (or minimally processed foods, since I guess the grinding of flaxseed, oatmeal, and almonds is all processing).

Also, I've been eating salads.  Salads!  I eat a lot of salad every day.
You can pretty much fill up on a salad like this.  At least for, like, two hours, and then you can have lunch part 2.  That's what I like to do, anyway.  I buy the organic, pre-washed greens in a box.  My favorite is the one that's half mixed greens and half baby spinach.  Also appearing in this salad: mushrooms, baby carrots, cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, grape tomatoes, red onion, chia seeds, and some Bacos.  I know!  The Bacos.  They're not healthy, they have trans fat, but when I'm out of the bottle I have, I'll make my own with TVP, I promise.  I'm using up my bottled salad dressings also, before I start making my own.  My friend Kate, a woman who has influenced me enormously these past few months, turned me on to these recipes for chia seed-based dressings, so I think I'll try them in order to make lower-fat (and healthier-fat) dressings without a bunch of sugar.  For now, though, I'm using Whole Foods brand Ginger Soy Dressing, which is, well, delish. 

I made many more dinner foods, but this entry has gone on long enough, and I have to have SOMETHING left to feed the Mofo!


  1. This is my first year NOT participating in VeganMofo! It was a hard decision to let it go, but I'm just too busy right now, unfortunately. Luckily, since I won't be blogging like a madwoman, I'll have a little time to catch up on my blog reading, and I'm excited to see what you've got to show! I'm impressed by your making of any of the cheese from that new vegan cheese book, as I am one of those intimidated by it. I'm loving seeing everyone's creations though. Have a fun Mofo!

    1. Know what I just remembered, though? I'm totally going to visit my little sister in San Francisco during October. So, that's kinda bad cuz I'm unlikely to cook much while there, but it's kinda great because she has, like, 10 vegan-friendly restaurants within walking distance of her apartment.

  2. Aw, I just spent three weeks with the gorgeous and magnificent Amber Shea Crawley, and as a result I feel proud as punch whenever I read about people loving her amazing recipes! Hurrah for raw (well, baked :P ) vegan deliciousness!


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