Thursday, February 26, 2009

The 5 Minute Baked Apple

From Foodsies!

Who knew fruits and veggies could be so easy?

Most of my life I have shunned fruit and vegetables like a particularly healthy strain of plague. But times have changed, and I am gradually building a trust-based relationship with both fruit and vegetables. I eat a banana, it doesn't take like ass nor kill me, and so I start to learn that it won't hurt me. Ditto with veggies. I steam some spinach, it tastes good with a bit of Earth Balance and salt, and before you know it, i'm telling the carrots how I really feel about the time I ate a strawberry that turned out to be rotten. It's like we're growing, together.

But both fruits and vegetables seem so boring. I thought the problem was me. Something wrong with my taste buds, or some childhood trauma (looking at you, sneaky rotten strawberry). Like something must be wrong with me that I can't appreciate the flavors and textures.

But i've come to realize that the problem is actually with the fruits and veggies. Who wants to eat the same spongy banana-y banana every day? Or the same bitter steamed broccoli with its little feelers tickling the top of your mouth? Well, this is why we invented cooking and recipes. So I guess the problem really was with me - with me being too dumb to realize you can cook fruits and veggies to improve them, just like with any other food.

This will be the first in a series of posts on tasty and easy recipes to gussy up Fruits and Veggies.

The 5 minute Baked Apple


1 Apple
1 TBSP Raisins
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Earth Balance
1 tsp Water


First you need to core your apple. This is by far the hardest part, although it is made stupidsimple if you have an apple corer. An apple corer is totally on my Kitchen Want List, as it will save me at least 5 minutes a day.

If you are corer-less like me, take a sharp knife and stick it in the top of the apple and cut around the core. You don't want the knife to go all the way through the bottom of the apple, btw. Now use the knife, your hands, a spoon, whatever to pull the core and seeds out from the apple.

You should now have an apple with a nice cavity in it and no seeds and no remaining core. Take your knife and chop off a thin slice from the top or peel off about 1/4 inch of skin from around the opening. You may also want to chop a thin slice off from the bottom of the apple so that it sits flat.

Pour your tsp of water into a custard dish or another small microwaveable bowl.

Place the apple in the water, in the bowl.

Sprinkle half the cinnamon and nutmeg into the hole of the apple. Stuff with raisins. Sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon and nutmeg on top. Top with the Earth Balance.

Place the microwaveable bowl on top of a microwaveable plate (in case the water/juices boil over a little this will keep your microwave clean). Microwave the apple for 6 minutes.

Remove, let cool enough that you don't kill yourself, and enjoy. PS do not eat the bottom stem of the apple. After you've eaten the insides you can cut this out or just eat around it. Or eat it I guess, but eww.


You can fill the apple with anything you want. Raisins, dates, walnuts, maple syrup, chocolate, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, rum, schnapps, jam/jelly, anything you can think of. NOTE: If you are using a liquid such as rum, please cover the apple with saran wrap and poke several holes through it. This way the steam can escape but the rum won't boil over everywhere.

Further Options!

You can even fill the apple with onions that you've sauteed to a deep brown and fake bacon and fake sausage. Add in a splash of dark rum or red wine and you're ready to go.

NOTE: You can also make this dish in the oven. In fact, for the "dinner" style option with the fake meat, it may even be preferable. It just takes more time. But it's certainly the best option for making several apples at once.

To prepare in the oven:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the cored apples in a square or rectangular casserole dish. Score the apples a little bit with a knife so that the skin doesn't break apart during baking.

Fill the apples with your fillings.

Pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of water over the apples around around them into the baking dish.

Bake for 35 minutes.

After removing from the oven, baste with the remaining liquid from the casserole dish, or if you're lazy like me just spoon it over the apples.

Oven-baked apples have a slightly different texture and appearance than ones cooked in the microwave, but both methods are a tasty treat. Experiment and enjoy.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Non-Carne Adovada (Red Chile Seitan)

When Tuesday feels like Thursday, or feels like next Thursday without even a weekend in between, you know you need a little break. A mini mental vacation. Perhaps even a mini dinner vacation. A trip for your tastebuds. Something to take your senses away from the work week for a little bit, so they return refreshed and ready to drink the swillish coffee at the office the next day. And the next. And the next. Man, is it really only Wednesday?

My favorite vacation destination is New Mexico. The adobe architecture, rich history, breathtaking landscapes ... oh, and the FOOD!

New Mexico cuisine is rich with sweets flavored by cinnamon, anise, or honey, with unleavened bread baked in clay ovens, and of course with spices that warm you from the inside out and leave you with a slight sniffle but don't burn your tongue. This latter is provided courtesy of red and green chile. You can choose one or the other or both (referred to as Christmas), and its good every which way.

[EDIT: The bread baked in clay ovens is leavened. I was thinking of Fry Bread, which isn't leavened but also isn't baked in a clay oven, it's fried. But anyway they're both good, and I guess I was missing them both.]

So when I wanted a break from it all yesterday, I decided to veganize a wonderful New Mexico dish called Carne Adovada. In its omni form, it is made by marinating pork for ever and ever in red chile sauce and then slowly, very slowly, baking the pork. The result is a thick sauce covering pork so tender that it practically chews itself in your mouth. Pssshhh. No problem!

I put my veganizing mind to work and...

From Foodsies!

In the end, I had dinner in hand by 8pm and it was splendid. It technically requires one specialized ingredient that will need to be ordered from New Mexico. However, if you aren't dedicated to ordering Red Chile Sauce, you can use Hatch Red Enchilada Sauce (found in a can from the international section of your local large grocery), but don't tell anyone from New Mexico that you did so.

I do think the texture of the Seitan needs a little work, as it isn't as mouth-meltingly tender as the pork would normally be in this dish. However, the flavors and the sauce came out great, so it's a pretty minor quibble.
Because I was lazy and just whipping this together (mini dinner vacation after all), I used some Seitan that I already had in the fridge. It was my Mexican-spiced version of the baked Seitan under Method 2 at the bottom of this post. It was great, but it doesn't have that melt-in-the-mouth tenderness that slow-cooked pork has.

Next time I may make the Seitan using a different method (boiling, or slowly cooking in a Dutch Oven) or make it the same way as before but with some soy flour replacing some of the vital wheat gluten to make it more tender, or I may just shred the baked Seitan and serve it like that rather than cubed. Or I might just cube it smaller and cook it at lower heat and for longer. Who knows?

But what I have below works just fine and will make you a hearty and delicious Non-Carne Adovada without any fiddling at all.

Non-Carne Adovada (Red Chile Seitan)


1 Cup Red Chile Sauce
(purchased or made from powder - see powder to sauce recipe at the very bottom of the post)
1 Batch
Mexican-spiced Foil-Baked Seitan (Method 2)
1 tsp
1 tsp
Onion Powder
1 tsp
Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp
1/4 tsp
Canola Oil or Earth Balance
All-Purpose Flour
2 Cups

*If you are using the Hatch Red Enchilada Sauce - you heathen - then you probably want to use the sauce straight and ignore all references to water in this recipe.


First, dice up your log of Seitan.

In a small bowl, mix 2 TBSP of the Red Chile Sauce with about 1/2 Cup of Water. Pour into a shallow casserole dish.

Dump the pieces of Seitan into the casserole dish and stir around until completely coated with the Red Chile sauce. Set aside.

From Foodsies!

Now get out a medium pan and heat a TBSP of oil or a TBSP of Earth Balance on Medium-High heat. Once it's warm, add in 2 TBSP of flour and whisk briskly to form a roux (French word meaning a thick slurry of flour and fat). Once it's mixed, continue to heat until the mix starts to darken in color and/or it starts to give off a nutty/toasted smell.

Now immediately pour in the rest of the Red Chile Sauce and the remaining water. Heat on medium-high for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. When it starts to bubble and thicken (a result of the roux), turn the heat down to Medium-Low and add your spices.

Stir and let heat another 2 or 3 minutes and then add your Seitan and any sauce from the casserole dish that comes with it.

Continue to heat on Low for about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 or so, or until the sauce has all thickened and just about disappeared except for where it has glommed itself to the Seitan.

Remove from heat and serve with something cool and refreshing (like corn). I served with some experimental "eggs" and spinach, but those aren't really ideal sides for this dish.

From Foodsies!


New Mexican Red Chile Sauce is incredibly versatile and wonderfully tasty. You would be doing yourself a favor if you bought yourself some. You can buy the sauce in concentrate from The Shed among others.

You can also make your own from Red Chile Powder (lower shipping costs you see). Once you have your powder, you'll need to heat up about 2 cups of water and then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Also, any Red Chile Powder you buy should have instructions (probably a bit more involved) that you can follow as well.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

My Vita-Mix is the Final Cylon

This is going to be a boring post, because I neglected to take pictures most of the weekend. The only one I have is of Friday night's dinner, which was essentially the same as Friday's lunch - Seitan Picatta over instant noodles (classy and unclassy combined).

It was crying out for some vegetables so I quickly steamed up some frozen green beans. While those were steaming, I diced and sauteed half of a roasted red pepper with some garlic. When both were finished I combined them along with some Earth Balance. I found the result pretty (albeit Christmasy) and tasty.

Overall the meal looked much fancier than it should have for 10 minutes of exhausted after-work Friday evening effort.
From Foodsies!

But perhaps the biggest news of the weekend is the two new additions to our kitchen - the Vita-Mix and the Whirley-Pop!

Thanks in large part to my awesome mother-in-law, Abigail's dream of owning a Vita-Mix has finally come true. In case you are unaware, the Vita-Mix is a serious, serious blender. Abigail has wanted one since I met her, but I was long a skeptic. Who needs such a good blender? I hate blenders anyway! What a pain to use, not to mention the cleaning. How often do we even use a blender?

As if to validate my anti-blender stance, our blender broke a month or two ago. No worries. I had already been avoiding any recipes that required a blender because I hated to use it. Also (this becomes relevant in a moment), our Soymilk Maker broke. I swear we aren't cursed or anything, we just cook a lot. Our stuff takes a beating. We were making Soymilk probably twice a week (or two batches once a week is more accurate) and I guess it couldn't take it. Not mention which, talk about hard to clean!

What does the Vita-Mix have to do with all this? First of all, it is the blender to end all blenders. It is easy to clean, easy to use, and it can make Soymilk! It can also of course make almond milk and rice milk. So now we don't need to buy a new Soymilk maker.

It can also make soup and simultaneously heat said soup.
I'm sure it goes without saying that it makes smoothies, but would you have expected it to make Apple Sauce?
What about ice cream? Yeah, it makes a vegan ice cream too - just add fruit, ice, soymilk, and a little sugar (and for chocolate ice cream, add cocoa and/or chocolate chips). Done on the correct setting, the result is a gelatinous, cold, ice cream. That's just the beginning (did I mention it comes with like an enormous recipe book?)

From Foodsies!

And it's so easy to clean (a few cups of water and a drop of dish soap, then blend on high for 30 seconds and rinse) that i've actually been using it!

Actually, that's an understatement. We've been using it like 10 times a day. That's a lot of blending. I'm going to have to re-evaluate my stance on blender-involving recipes now. Way to prove me wrong, Vita-Mix.

In other news - I finally got a Whirley-Pop!

From Foodsies!

I know, why can't I just make microwave popcorn like a "normal" person, right? For starters, we're clearly a more DIY kind of family. Also, we are control freaks.

By using the Whirley-Pop I can choose what kind of corn kernels to use (cheap bulk or fancy gourmet), and I can choose to use very little oil, and to use Earth Balance rather than Butter, and to season it to my taste (I like Nutritional Yeast, garlic powder, and red pepper powder, but not much salt). And it takes about 2 minutes start to finish, so it's not like it takes longer than using the microwave. I was blown away by how fresh and good the popcorn tasted. It seems like every time i'm skeptical about some hippie-ass concept like Make Your Own Whatever, I get proven completely wrong.

I am not sure how much money the Whirley-Pop will save, because I guess microwave popcorn isn't very expensive to being with, but popcorn is one of my favorite snacks, so I win regardless. Plus, it's so much fun! It's like a toy. Spin spin spin, pop pop pop. And the reward is light fluffy corny kernels. Mmmm. Now that's $20 well spent.

In other news, i've been working on modifying a great recipe of my mom's so that it's free of oil and low on sugar. It worked great to replace the oil with apple sauce and to replace the water with orange juice and omit the sugar, but I want to fiddle with the spices and with some kind of topping and/or filling perhaps. It's promising, though.

Now to figure out what I want for dinner tonight...

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Seitan Picatta (cutlets in lemon-caper sauce)

This is horrible, but I have to say it. I miss veal. Or rather, I miss Veal Picatta. And Veal Parmigiana but that's for another dinner I guess. Anyway, what's a good vegan to do? Why, make the cutlets from seitan rather than veal of course!

From Foodsies!

Seitan Picatta


4 Cutlets of Seitan
(I made these using veggie broth-based wet mix with a little "beef" bouillon mixed in as well since I couldn't make up my mind)
1.5 Cups Veggie Broth/No-Chicken Broth
3 TBSP Lemon Juice
2 TBSP Capers (drained)
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Earth Balance (or other vegan butter)
Dash of Salt and Pepper

For later in the process:
2 TBSP Cold Water
1 tsp Cornstarch

First heat a skillet on medium-high heat and throw the seitan cutlets straight on. It might help to spray a little oil, but if you actually pour any oil in the skillet, the cutlets will get too oily and greasy since there's no flour on them. I guess if you aren't worried about rioting all over your own diet, you can dust the cutlets with flour and then saute them in a dime of oil. Probably tastier that way anyhow :P

Either way, brown each side for 3 minutes or so.

While that's browning, mix together all the other ingredients (except the cornstarch/water) in a bowl, preferably one with a pour spout.

Once the cutlets are done browning, remove the skillet from the heat and wait a minute. Then pour in the liquid mix and allow the cutlets to soak for a 2 or 3 minutes. If the liquid does not cover the cutlets, flip them after a minute.

Now remove the cutlets to a plate somewhere.

Put the skillet back on medium-high heat. In a small dish or pyrex measuring cup, mix about 2TBSP of cold water (next time i'm totally trying white wine in place of the water here just cuz) with 1 tsp of cornstarch. Now slowly pour it into the skillet and stir it into the liquid mix which is already there. Continue to let the liquid heat up, stirring constantly, until it simmers. Keep stirring and let simmer another minute or two. You want it to thicken up just a leeeetle bit, then remove from heat.

Serve the cutlets over noodles and spoon the sauce liberally overtop.

A note about the picture:

It's a little weird because it's all set up for my lunch. So the dish it's in is from my Mr. Bento. Also, since I didn't prepare my lunch until this morning, I didn't have noodles on hand. So I just microwaved some Ramen (without the seasoning) and added a touch of Earth Balance and Garlic Powder, then put the cutlets and sauce over that.

In the end, my lunch was this (in case you're stalking me):

Bottom container: Tomato Basil Soup
Main container: Seitan Picatta (as pictured)
3rd container: Mashed Potatoes (instant, my favorite)
Top container: Apple sauce with cinnamon and nutmeg

For snacks I brought carrots (for the morning) and an apple and peanut butter (for afternoon). At the office I snagged a banana for breakfast.

Btw, Mr. Bento is the best. I've had mine for almost 2 years now, and it's never failed me. I have occasionally gone through extended periods of laziness during which I didn't use it, but Mr. Bento will never tell.

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How to Worship Seitan: The Easy Way(s)

Wherein I shall explain two very easy and successful methods for making your own seitan at home.

Any good vegan (or vegetarian) should know how to make their own seitan. It's easy (as you'll see), saves money, and lets you get creative without too many consequences.

Making seitan has a few basic steps. First you mix some dry ingredients together, then you slowly add some wet ingredients, you mix into a dough and knead and shape, and then you cook.
At this point you might eat it as-is, or you might prepare it further by pan-frying, baking, grilling, etc.

Traditionally, the cooking step of seitan was a very long and tricky affair involving getting water to almost boiling and maintaining it at precisely almost-boiling for several hours. Fah! I knew from the start that this would never work for me, because I can't seem to keep water at a constant heat to save my life - anytime I try to "simmer" something, it winds up swinging wildly between "intense boiling" and "bored, placid water" with no in-between.
In fact, even more traditionally, the dough-making steps of seitan were time consuming and involved hours of kneading and rinsing under cold water.

Thank goodness for Progress!

Before going any further, a little on the key ingredient in this process: Vital Wheat Gluten. This is the stuff that eliminates the kneading and rinsing for hours part. It is very important that you get the right product. You don't want Wheat Flour, you don't want Gluten Flour. You want Vital Wheat Gluten. It is not so hard to find. Bob's Red Mill makes some as does Arrowhead, and if your grocery store carries bulk flours and grains, it can sometimes be found there in bulk as well.

The recipes also call for Nutritional Yeast (not to be confused with Brewer's Yeast or similar). This too is sold by Bob's Red Mill and can be found in most bulk sections. You can experiment making it without (maybe substitute with soy flour, or even regular flour) but what the hell is wrong with you that you don't have Nutritional Yeast? It's awesome! And used in many great vegan recipes. So stuff yourself full of seitan and then go buy some Nooch (affectionate shorthand not to be confused with Hooch although that is also good to have on hand).

So without further ado, here is a basic recipe. I will follow it up with some notes on spices and then we'll get to the actual easy breasy sleasy peasy cooking methods.

Basic Seitan

Dry Ingredients

1 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Sage
1 TBSP Oregeno

Wet Ingredients

3/4 Cup Veggie Broth
(No-Chicken Broth, veggie boillon, whatever)
2TBSP Tahini (you can use 1 TBSP Cashew or Peanut Butter instead)
1 TBSP Soy Sauce (or Tamari, or Braggs)


3/4 Cup "Beef" Broth
(If you are lucky, you can find this at a grocery near you - I could only find it at Shaws wierdly - or you can use 1/2 Cup Veggie Broth plus 1/4 Cup of Soy Sauce)
2 TBSP Tahini (you can use 1 TBSP Cashew or Peanut Butter instead)
1 TBSP Ketchup

Making the Dough

1. Dump all of the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix together with a fork.
2. Now Dump all of the wet ingredients into a Pyrex measuring cup or bowl with a spout. Stir.
3. Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry mix. Stir it around with the fork or your hands.
4. Pour the rest of the wet mix into the dry.
5. Mix it all together with your hands to form a wet dough. Knead it, smoosh it up, punch it, however you want to abuse it, for about 5 minutes.
6. Wrap in saran wrap (or place in a pot with the lid on) while you decide how you want to cook it and in what shape you want it formed.

A few notes on seasoning in the dry mix:

You can season any way you like. You can experiment with any spices and any broth combinations. The main thing is to maintain a general ratio of wet ingredients to dry of 1 Cup Wet to 1.5 Cup Dry. Although certainly 1.5 Cup Wet to 2 Cup Dry works too. It will affect your final consistency, but not necessarily in a bad way. Don't be shy of playing around.

How to Cook Seitan Method 1 - Steaming!
Time: 30 minutes

This is a very fast and easy way to cook your seitan. It's especially great if you plan to saute/brown the seitan or even grill it later. I really like the texture of this method as if I find it to be meaty, moist and chewy without being too soft or too spongy.

First you need to shape your seitan dough into pieces for cooking. You can make cutlets or larger chunks/loaves. Always keep in mind that the seitan WILL expand so make your pieces a bit smaller than you want them to be in the end.

For cutlets, shape your unwieldy seitan dough into a large loaf and roll it on a cutting board so that it forms a thick log. Using a serrated knife, slice off very thin slices (about 1/4 inch). They might not come out perfectly round, but they should look vaguely like chicken or veal cutlets in shape and size (maybe a bit smaller).

For chunks (such as for making kebabs (!!! yum !!!) later), do the same steps as above but making your slices a little bit thicken (about 1/2 inch) and then slice the cut-off pieces into strips and then rotate 90 degrees and cut through them again to make cubes. I totally made that sound harder than it is. Just cut off some slices and then cut those slices down into cubes. Viola.

Now you need to figure out your steamer situation. With luck, you have a bamboo steamer or a real steamer pot or steamer pot insert. This should allow you to put your seitan pieces onto a place with a slightly smaller circumference than the steamer (the plate will sit inside the steamer). Now top that with another plate facing down, so that you have a UFO made of plates, with seitan bits inside rather than aliens. Place the UFO inside the steamer.

But wait! What if you are stuck with a lame ol' veggie steamer style basket, or even just a rice cooker? You could wrap each piece of seitan in foil and rest it on the veggie steamer or the rice cooker steamer insert. But if you are making the tiny chunks, then that would be a lot of wrapping and you're no MC Hammer.. so make your own steamer!
The hell you say?
Sure, just overturn a few shot glasses in a pot, fill with 2 inches of water or so (to just below the top of the shot glass) and place your UFO directly on top of the shot glasses (balanced properly of course). But really, go get a bamboo steamer and it'll make your life much easier.

Actually, before you place the UFO inside of anything, you should first get that water boiling. Once it's boiling, place the UFO in the pot and put the lid on.

Clean for about 25 minutes and then (with oven mitts!) turn off the heat, remove the lid (alwayas open a steam lid away from you so the steam doesn't blast your face off), and remove the UFO. Still with gloves on, lift the top plate off. You might need to use a knife or two in this process to really get the plates out and apart, but just try not to burn yourself, break any plates, or drop the seitan on the floor.

Anyway, there you go - yummy seitan of your very own!

How to Cook Seitan Method 2 - the Seitan O' Greatness method (baking in tight foil):
Time: 90 minutes

This couldn't be easier. This method is great for sausage, but if you make one large sausage log, you can also slice off very thin slices like lunch meat. You can also slice off thick slices and then slice and/or cube it further.
This cooking method produces a sausage-like texture, with a tough outside and nice meaty inside. As always, it can be further prepared in any dish by grilling or adding to a gumbo, or placing on pizza, or crumbled into ground "beef"

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Take your glob of seitan dough and roll it out into a large log or big thick sausage. Or break it apart and roll each chunk into the size and shape of a hotdog/sausage. Then take each sausage (or just the one big sausage) and place one a sheet of foil. Wrap the foil around the sausage and twist the ends. It should look like a tootsie roll, basically. I then like to wrap it again in a 2nd piece of foil, so that the flaps where the foil ends are in different places. This prevents the seitan from exploding out (as it is wont to do), although if it does explode out a little it's fine and no cause for alarm.

Place the foil-wrapped sausages in an oven-safe dish (such as a casserole dish) or if you are confident they won't fall through to the bottom of your oven, you can just place them directly in the oven.

Bake for 90 minutes at 350. Remove. Unwrap. Enjoy.

Bonus (and an example of spice changes): Mexican Style Foil-Baked Seitan

This is great for fajitas and whatnot.

Dry Ingredients

1 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Cilantro (dried)
1/4 tsp Cayenne

Wet Ingredients

3/4 Cup Veggie Broth/No-Chicken Broth
2 TBSP Ketchup
2 TBSP Lime Juice

As per usual, mix the dry, mix the wet separately, then mix slowly together, then form into a dough and knead for a few minutes.

Then form into one big sausage or a few small sausages, wrap tightly in foil, and bake at 350 for 90 minutes.

What else can you do with all this great seitan? Well, you can make Seitan Picatta (lemon and caper sauce) for one. That's what I did last night! I will post up the recipe in a bit.

Also important: You can store seitan for a very long time! You can refrigerate for about a week, but you can freeze it for 3 months (!!!), so don't hesitate to make a bunch.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Amazing Momos (Tibetan Steamed Dumplings)

From Foodsies!

My absolute favorite restaurant in Boston has to be Rangzen. It is a small Tibetan restaurant and their food is great. My favorite dish there is Momo Thukpa which is a dumpling soup. The dumplings are stuffed with tofu and veggies, and although the soup comes with egg as standard, they are happy to produce it without the egg. In fact, one time when I ordered it, they said it always came without egg. But I still ask for it without, just in case.

But Rangzen (which I refer to simply as Momo, because that is what I order there and it's easier and more fun to say than Rangzen) is all the way in Cambridge. And it costs money. But last night I was delirious in my desire for Momo. So I just went ahead and made my own!

It was surprisingly easy, although a little time consuming I guess. But Wednesday is a night that there isn't much on TV or anything, and it was snowing out, so it seemed like a good night to just relax in the kitchen.

I'm going to share two recipes, one for what I actually made last night, and one for a version that I think will more closely replicate the Momo that Rangzen makes. I was constrained by being unable to find fresh cilantro at the local co-op, and by having some veggie-beef crumbles I needed to use up. Next time i'll make the 2nd recipe.

Both recipes are low fat, low calorie (and Scott - for low-sodium, just use less soy sauce and/or low-sodium soy sauce). I don't really count veggies towards that stuff, and that's about all that is in here. Almost no oil is used at all (only the tiniest bit rubbed on the bottom of the Momo so that they don't stick to the steamer). So they taste divine, and you can eat as many of them as you want!
Um, unless you are watching your carbs, in which case I guess the flour screws you. Sorry!

Tibetan Momo


3 Cups Flour
1 Cup Water
1 Onion
1/2 Cup Baby Bok Choy
1/2 Cup Spring Onion/Scallions
1 Cup Cabbage
(the whitish-green kind, not the reddish-purple kind, although I guess you could use either)
1 Cup Mushrooms
(dark asian mushrooms would be best, but you can use regular button also)

1/2 Cup Veggie-Beef Crumbles
(I had to use it up. You can use tofu instead)

2 TBSP Fresh Ginger
(grated/minced - you can use one of these or these or mortle/pestle, or just chop it really fine with a knife)

1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro
(if available - if not, use about 1/4 cup dried cilantro)

3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
1 TBSP Soy Sauce
1 TBSP Veggie Broth (or No-Chicken Broth, Veggie Boillon, etc)

If you don't have fresh ginger, then sub in 1/2 TBSP of Ginger Powder. If you like ginger, you may wish to add this anyway.
You will also want some extra flour on hand for rolling the dough later, as well as a small dish of water. You will also need a teeny dish holding about 1/2 tsp of Canola Oil.


First you will make the dough. Dump 3 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl. Now gradually add water as you mix (by hand, not with a bread mixer) until the dough is moist and a bit sticky. You want to be able to shape it into a ball and be able to stretch it out a little before it breaks apart. Don't sweat it if you aren't sure if it's too dry or too wet. It's such a basic dough that you don't need to do anything perfectly.
Now wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside, or to be more ecofriendly, place the dough ball in a non-stick pot and put the lid on. You don't want the dough to dry out.

Now for the filling. You can do this two different ways. You can chop all of your veggies by hand, into fairly small pieces, or you can dump them all in a food processor and chop them up. I used the food processor and wound up with a mix that was chopped very fine as a result. In hindsight, I think it may have been better for the ingredients to have not been so finely chopped, but just because of how I like my dumplings. I like a bite with big chunks in it, not teeny chunks. So, personal preference - but get the veggies chopped up somehow.

Dump your chopped up veggies into a mixing bowl and add your garlic, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, and veggie broth. Stir and mix well. The result should be moist and wet, but not like, sitting in a puddle of juices. If for some reason you wind up with a huge puddle of juices, just pour a little of it out, or squeeze some of it out from the mixture. We're going for juicy dumpling filling, not soup.

At this point you should go ahead and get your water boiling in your steamer. WTF is a steamer? A steamer can be many things. You can use a standard pot and then place a steamer basket in it. You can use one made from bamboo, or from metal.
There are also special steamer pots, which have special steamer inserts. You can get a similar insert for your standard pot (like a fancier version of the bamboo or metal steamers above). Also, even the cheapest rice cookers usually come with a little steamer tray. It allows you to load up the rice as normal, then put the steamer tray in place, and then cover. As the rice cooks, the veggies (or dumplings in this case), get steamed.

If you are using the rice cooker, you don't need to start the water boiling, because the rice cooker will take care of that step automagically for you.

NOTE: You want the water to reach just below the steamer. So pay attention when filling your pot. Also, you do not want your pot to run out of water to boil (won't steam very well then will it). To avoid this, place a penny or small pebble in the water. It will rattle when the water boils, so if it stops rattling you will know you are out of water. It will suck to have to open everything up (releasing precious steam) and refill it with water, but you do what you gotta do.

Now that you've got the water going, set up your Dumpling Making (Makling!) Station. You will want a rolling pin, rolling pin cover (if you have one), cutting board or dough mat (unless you want to roll it out direct on your counter? eww?), a dish of extra flour, the teeny dish of oil, and your steamer tray.

There are a few different ways to roll out the dough and form your dumplings. Here is my method:

1. Pull of a small amount of dough, about the size of a ping pong or golf ball.

2. Dust some flour between your fingers and roll the dough around in your hands to form a ball and to pick up some of the flour from your hands.

3. Plop the ball onto the cutting board and pat down into a thick round pad. Use the rolling pin to roll it out as evenenly as possible in every direction. You want to get the dough very thin, although not so thing that it rips.

4. Now pick up the circle of dough (or oddly m ishapen geometric shape of dough) and place it in your left palm. Use a spoon (I like using an ice cream scoop) and grab about a tablespoon or a little more of dough and place it in the center of the dough on your palm.

5. Use your right hand to pull up two sides of the dough to meet in the middle above the filling, sort of forming a basket. Rotate the dough in your palm and pull up a bit of dough from the side to meet at the top also. Continue this until you have a little round sack with a pinched up top. Make sure it's all sealed pretty well, because you don't want any of the juices escaping when it steams.

Another method is the same as the above, except in step 5 you simply pinch up all the dough together in a line, like forming a taco with the top sealed. Conversely, you can do this on the cutting board rather than in your palm, and simply fold over one side of the dough over the other to form a half-moon and pinch the edges down.

Finally, you can use a different method to get the dough circles by rolling out all of the dough at once and then using a round cookie cutter or a highball glass to cut it into dough circles. I don't like this method as much because I find it to be a pain to roll out so much dough, and also you have to do it a few times to use up all the dough. But to each their own.

Now, as each dumpling is finished, dip your fingertip into the bit of Canola Oil and rub on the bottom of the dumpling. Place it on the steamer rack.

Once your steamer rack is full, check to see if your water is boiling. If it is, place the steamer rack in place and cover. Let steam for about 10 minutes. Or if you are using a rice cooker, place the rack into the rice cooker and turn it on. The rice cooker should tell you itself when it is finished (you may want to check your rice cooker's instruction booklet to be sure how the steamer part of it works).

After 10 minutes you should have sweaty delicious Momo! Like a Momo fresh from the sauna! Despite the sweaty appearance, if you pick one up, it should be surprisingly firm. At least, that's how I like them, because I like to eat them with my hands. But be careful! The filling will be wet which means even when the outside of the momo has cooled down some, the inside could still be very hot! And burning your tongue sucks, so consider yourself warned.

You may need to make two or more batches. Make the 2nd batch while the first batch steams.
Then just turn off the heat to the steamer, remove the momo's and wrap them in plastic wrap or place in a pot with a lid so they don't dry out. Put the new batch in the steamer and go.
Feel free to clean the kitchen while the 2nd batch steams ;)

Mmmm Mmmm Momo!

From Foodsies!

Didn't I say that I want to change the recipe for the future?

Oh yeah, I did say that. I think my Momo turned out lovely and very, very tasty! But I feel like the Momo at Rangzen have a sort of lighter, fresher flavor. Part of this is no doubt due to fresh cilantro (which is like a drug or love potion to me), but may also be a reflection of other ingredients as well. As a result, here is what I plan to try next time:


3 Cups Flour
1 Cup Water
2 Cups Cabbage
1/2 Cup Spring Onion/Scallions
1 Cup Mushrooms
(or maybe Bok Choy instead, for a lighter flavor)
1 Box Firm Tofu (non-silken)
1 Ton Fresh Cilantro ;)
(in reality, probably a good size handful or two chopped)
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 TBSP Fresh Ginger, minced
1/2 TBSP Soy Sauce
1/2 TBSP Veggie Broth
1 TBSP Water

Directions being the same.

I guess it isn't so very different. I just want more cabbage/cilantro/scallion flavor along with the ginger and mushroom flavors, and the refreshing non-flavor break that the tofu gives to each bite. It's hard to explain. I just want something that tastes lighter and springier, less dark and meaty.

Anyway, Momo is always great!

From Foodsies!

My next Tibetan mission will have to be making Thukpa soup to go along with the Momo, so that I can make my own Momo Thukpa! And also to master the Momo dipping sauce, which is a sort of spicy green cilantro-y tomato-y chile-y sauce.

For the record, I didn't find my Momo to even need a dipping sauce. They were quite flavorful and juicy on their own. But the dipping sauce at Rangzen is to die for..

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vegan Crabcakes

From Foodsies!

I considered calling these "Kat's Crabs" but that has too many unseemly implications.

I know it's been a while since i've had a crab cake, but I think i'm still pretty in tune with my taste memories, especially of my favorite foods. Growing up in Virginia (close enough to Maryland to have access to great crab) in a family that loves seafood, crab cakes were definitely one of my favorite dinners.

And I have been craving crab cakes for a while now, but I just wasn't too convinced about using lentils or tofu or okara to replicate the crab. I was at a loss. Lucky for me, I remembered a week or two ago when while looking up a recipe for vegan pulled 'pork' bbq, I learned about Hearts of Palm. I then actually found Hearts of Palm at Whole Foods this past weekend.
So I thought to myself - if it makes good "pulled pork" then I bet it would make great lump crab!

And boy howdy was I right! Hearts of Palm make the best lump crab this side of actual crab meat. Plus, Hearts of Palm have a slighty briney taste to them (from the citric acid they're soaked in I think) like crab although sometimes the brineyness can be overwhelming, and actually make them less crab-tasting, so you may want to soak and rinse well with water prior to using to avoid that problem. They're low in calories and fat to boot. Not to mention having a spot-on texture. Really. I could rave about this all day long.

Kat's Vegan Crabcakes

1 Can Hearts of Palm (about 8 pieces)
1/4 Cup Carrot (finely chopped)
1/4 Cup Celery (finely chopped or minced)
1/4 Cup Onion (finely chopped or minced)
1 Cup Panko bread crumbs (to go into the crab cake mixture)
1/4 Cup Panko bread crumbs (for the outside fo the cakes)
1/2 tsp Mustard Powder
1 tsp Dill
1 tsp Parsley
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
2 TBSP Veganaise


1. Preheat the oven to 350

2. Open your can of Hearts of Palm. Soak the pieces of Hearts of Palm in cold water for 10 minutes and then rinse two or 3 times. This is to remove most of the citric acid from them. We want them to be a touch briney, not totally vinegary :)
Now pull out each piece and slice it in half the long way. Or you can just stick your fingers in it and pry it apart. Basically, you want to open it so that you can pull out the tender insides, which should shred easily in your hands. Then rip or slice the rest (the outer area) into small chunks. If you have some stringy sheet-like bits that you don't feel are crab-like enough, save them and use them as-is in a salad. It's wonderful.

3. Now you should have a pile of shredded Hearts of Palm as well as some small chunks. Throw into a skillet with NO OIL along with the carrot, onion, and celery.

4. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes. You want the Hearts of Palm to be tender and not at all crunchy. We're going for crabmeat consistency.

5. Once the Hearts of Palm mixture is cooked and tender, remove from heat and dump the mixture into a mixing bowl. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

6. Add your spices, veganaise, and 1 Cup of panko bread crumbs to the bowl and stir and mix thoroughly. Sniff and taste, and if desired add 1/2 to 1 tsp of each spice/seasoning. Also, if you really like your crab cakes to taste like Old Bay, you can add more to taste.

Here is what mine looked like in the bowl after mixing:
From Foodsies!

7. Now use your hands to shape into patties about 2-3 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. Pour about 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs in a shallow dish.

8. Dip both sides of each patty in the bread crumbs and place on a non-stick baking pan.

Here are mine, ready to go in the oven:
From Foodsies!

9. Bake in the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Flip each patty and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

10. Remove, cool, and enjoy. I put ketchup on my place but they were so perfect and delicious as they were that I didn't wind up using it for fear of tarnishing the taste. If you want, sprinkle a little extra Old Bay on the top of each crab cake prior to serving or eating.

From Foodsies!

Mmmm mmmm!

I can't rave about these enough. When I smell them my mouth waters and it takes all my self control to not devour them on the spot. It was very hard to save some for my lunch today, but I managed. I failed at saving any for Abigail though (sorry, love!) but it will provide an excuse to make it again soon.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Tomato and Chickpea Curry

Oh. My. God. I have finally made a perfect curry dish for myself! It may not be perfect for anyone else, but eff 'em. It's an Indian spiced dish that fulfills my Indian food desires just as well as the best Indian restaurant in our neighborhood.

See, I like Indian food, but i'm fairly picky about it. So far, I can only ever find Indian food the way I like it at actual Indian restaurants. Anytime I try to cook it myself, it turns out... wrong. Just doesn't capture the right flavors. Doesn't make my mouth water in the same beautiful way.

But no more! I have conquered my personal Indian food mountain!

From Foodsies!

I think the key was to stop using recipes. Only I know what Indian food I like, so I should be the one to decide what goes in it. Seems obvious, but I guess I wasn't confident enough in my own cooking skillz til now. But last night I got a wild hair up my arse and decided to just go for it.

Kat's Tomato and Chickpea Curry

1 Can Chickpeas
1 Can Diced Tomatoes (I used fire-roasted cuz it's all I had)
1 Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
1 tsp Fresh ground ginger (or just throw in 1/2 tsp of ginger powder with the other spices)
2 Cups Water
1 tsp Cardamom
1 tsp Coriander
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Cloves (in powder form)
1/4 tsp Mustard Powder
2 Bay Leaves

Chop up your onion, press your garlic (or dice if you lack a press), grate your ginger.
Heat up a dime of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat
When the skillet is hot, throw in the onion, garlic, and ginger.
Saute for about 5 minutes, until the onions get clear and soft and are browning.
When they start to stick a bit, pour in about 1/2 cup of water and stir it around.
Turn the heat way down to simmering.
Add your spices, minus the bay leaf, and stir. Should smell amazing.

Pour in your chickpeas and tomatoes. Stir around. Make sure it's simmering but not boiling. I suck at that, btw. I tend to go back and forth between boiling and doing nothing. But my meals still turn out well, so I guess it must even out in the end ;)

If you drained the chickpeas and tomatoes, add in a cup and a half of water. If you didn't drain them, but dumped them in with their water, then you will probably only need a cup of water. Basically you want everything to be mixing about in a wet stewyness.

Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
Check on it. Stir. Sample. Are the chickpeas soft? Do you like the spice level? If you don't like the spice level, stir in some more spices.
If the chickpeas are not really soft, and the tomatoes are not all a-mush, then it will need to cook longer. If almost all the water is gone, add in another 1/2 cup.
Cover and let simmer another 20 minutes.
Check again. Stir. Sample. Spice level good? If not, hit it up with some more.
Are the chickpeas soft yet? Are the tomatoes a-mush? Either way, how is the water content? If it's all a big of a stewy mushy mess, then you should be in good shape.
You want it to be goopy and saucy to an extent, but you want it to go over rice without a ton of water draining through the rice to the bottom of your bowl, dig?
Only you can know when it's truly done. I like my chickpeas super mushy but I also like the mix to be fairly saucy.
Some people like their chickpeas harder and/or prefer a less runny curry.
You can really go wrong as long as it looks and tastes like something you want to eat on your rice.

Serve with rice (you did make some brown rice to go with this, right??). Eat.
Enjoy your tummy making love to itself. mmmm mmmm.
Wake up drooling and dreaming of curry.
Make more curry.

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Cooking Backlog - Greek Eggplant Casserole

Before I went vegan, one of my favorite Greek dishes was Moussaka. If you aren't familiar, it's basically a Greek lasagna. It has eggplant, beef, tomato sauce, pasta, and cheese. Sometimes the pasta and cheese layer is mixed with egg and some other ingredients to form a sort of custard. Most importantly, the dish is flavored with cinnamon in addition to the spices you might normally expect. What a difference that makes! For years I couldn't put my finger on what that spice was, I just knew it tasted different and wonderful and I wanted more.

There is another similar Greek dish called Pastitsio. It also involves pasta, cheese/egg/custard, tomato sauce, and beef. It also uses cinnamon as a spice. I tell you, Greece knows what the eff they're doing when they spice their dishes.

So the other day I was really craving something similar. I didn't want to just use veggie beef or something, however, because I am trying to eat healthier and increase my veggie intake. I've also been interested in trying eggplant, which i've always avoided (with the occasional exception in Moussaka, although i'd normally pick around it).

After poking through a few recipes and brainstorming, I came up with my own Greek Eggplant Casserole. It uses a wonderful creamy sauce, so while it doesn't have the thick custard/pasta top layer that Moussaka and Pastitsio traditionally do, I think it mimics the flavor and spirit of those dishes pretty well.

Then again, i'm not Greek.

This is a pretty long recipe, because it involves cooking the pasta, making the eggplant, making the cheese sauce, prepping the pasta sauce, and then combining everything into a casserole dish and baking. But trust me, it's easy and doesn't take terribly long. Otherwise I would never make it myself.

From Foodsies!

Greek Eggplant Casserole

Master List of Ingredients (it will be broken down and re-iterated later, but this is so you can scan and make sure you have everything you need):

1 Eggplant
1 Bag Pasta
2-4 Cups Tomato Sauce (Pasta Sauce, whatever you want to call it)
2 Cups Flour
5 tsp Salt
2 tsp Oregeno
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2.5 Cups Soymilk
3 Cups Water
1 Package Silken Tofu
1 Cup Vegetable Broth
4 TBSP Tahini
1 TBSP Onion Powder
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp White Pepper
1/2 tsp Paprika
2 TBSP Corn Starch
1/4 tsp Mustard Powder

OK got it all? Now preheat the oven to 350 so you don't forget to do it later.

To prepare the Pasta:

Grab a bag of pasta. I used shells, but any non-spaghetti style pasta will do. Heck, you could probably even use spaghetti.

Get a pot of water going on the stove. You're going to need to cook your pasta, so get that water boiling now. Then get started on your Eggplant.

To prepare the Eggplant:

1 Eggplant
2 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Oregeno
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 Cups Soymilk
3 Cups Water
2 tsp Salt (to go into the water)
1 tsp Salt (to be sprinkled on the eggplant)

Slice the eggplant into round sections. You can peel it if you're into that. Some people like their slices to be about 1/2 inch thick, but I prefer really thin slices so I get them as thin as I can.
Pour your 3 cups of water into a bowl.
Now drop about 2 tsp's of salt into the water and place the eggplant slices into the salt water. They'll float. Liberally sprinkle salt all over the exposed part of the eggplant slices. WTF?! you may be thinking. Well, eggplant is bitter and gross by nature, but if you salt it then the poor salt sucks up all the nastiness, leaving you with tasty eggplant.
So let the eggplant hang out in the salt water for about 20 minutes. During this time, you can make the cheeze sauce (skip down to the cheeze sauce section).

Also, your water should be boiling by now, so throw your pasta in.

Once the eggplant has finished soaking for its 20 minutes, mix up the flour, salt, oregeno, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl or pan.
Pour the soymilk into another shallow bowl.

Oil up a skillet and heat over medium to medium-high heat.

Dip each slice of eggplant into the soymilk and then dredge through the flour mix til its coated. If you want to be a good southern cook, dredge first into the flour mix, then into the soymilk, then back into the flour mix.
Throw the coated slices into the skillet and pan-fry til the outside is crispy and golden-brown.
If you run out of the flour mix, just make some more. You may have to do this in a couple of batches. Just set aside the finished slices on a cloth while you cook the others.

Is your pasta done yet? If so, strain it up and set aside.

To Prepare the Cheeze Sauce (you may have some of this leftover depending on how much you use on the casserole. If you don't want leftovers for dipping veggies etc. in, then please halve the ingredients below):

1 Package Silken Tofu
1/2 Cup Soy Milk
1 Cup Vegetable Broth (read: veggie bouillon in a cup of water)
4 TBSP Tahini
1 TBSP Onion Powder
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp White Pepper
1/2 tsp Paprika
2 TBSP Corn Starch
1/4 tsp Mustard Powder (optional - just makes it a wee bit tangier)

If you're weird like me, put all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with an immersion blender until it is all mixed and thickens to a sauce-like consistency. If it's too thick, add in more soymilk.
If you're a normal cook, then just throw it all in a blender and blend to a sauce-like consistency, adding more soymilk if it's thicker than you imagine you'd want.

To Prepare the Tomato Sauce:

Pour about 2 cups into a bowl. Now add in about 1/2 tsp of Cinnamon. Taste.
Can you distinctly taste the cinnamon? If not, add in some more.
You want it to taste like tomato sauce with a distinct undercurrent of cinnamon. Or, just add in cinnamon until it tastes yummy to you.
You can also throw in a few shakes of nutmeg. Sorry, I put nutmeg in everything. And it's like the siamese twin of cinnamon. How dare you try and separate them.

To Assemble the Casserole:

You should now have the following:

Some pan-fried slices of eggplant
Some cooked pasta
Some Cheeze Sauce
Some tomato sauce with cinnamon (and nutmeg)

Spray an 11x7 casserole dish with oil or cooking spray.
Layer the bottom with the eggplant slices. You will probably want to overlap them some so that a) you don't have big gaps and b) so you use all or most of your eggplant.
If you sampled the cheeze sauce and really liked it, go ahead and pour a bit of it over the eggplant.
Pour the pasta over the eggplant.
Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the pasta. If you want more tomato sauce, just mix some more up and add. You will probably want to stir it around with the pasta so it all gets coated nicely.
Top with a liberal amount of the cheeze sauce. Feel free to mix it all in with the pasta. Whatever looks tasty to you.

Now bake in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese sauce looks like it's thickened up or is bubbling. Everything was already cooked beforehand, so you're mostly just heating it anyway.

Now eat!

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Cooking Backlog - Mini Vanilla Pudding Pies

Mmm, dessert! And an easy one at that.

I recently bought some pudding, planning to make it with soymilk instead of regular milk to produce quick and easy vegan pudding. But alas! I do not have custard cups! What was I to do?

The answer came when I accidentally stumbled across these little no-bake graham cracker pie crusts. So cute! So perfect!

From Foodsies!

From Foodsies!

Then it was a simple matter of making the pudding (as simple as following the directions on the box but using soymilk in place of regular milk) and putting it in the pie crusts instead of in custard dishes. I chilled them in the fridge for an hour or two as per the directions on the pudding box, and viola! Tiny, perfect vegan pudding pies.

From Foodsies!

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Cooking Backlog - Brown Rice Pudding

I forgot include this in my introduction/cooking criteria, but I am a huge fan of "comfort food." It's a term that probably encompasses different food for different folk, but for me it pretty much includes any food that makes me a) warm and snuggly inside, b) smile and hum with each bite, c) feel great after eating, and d) smells like heaven.

I was sick on a snowy day a while ago, and craving something warm and sweet to comfort me. I've always loved Rice Pudding, but i'm trying to eat brown rice instead of white rice these days due to its lower glycemic index.

From Foodsies!

It was wonderful! Totally hit the spot. It smelled like heaven, tasted like heaven, and was like giving my tummy a hug. For the recipe:

The only problem I had was that it took forever to cook. Instead of 30-40 minutes, I think it took me more like 90. I'm not sure if I had too much milk or the heat was too low, or something else entirely. EDIT: After having made this a time or two, I think that brown rice just takes longer to get soft than white rice. I have found that cooking it covered for a while and then switching to uncovered can improve the cooking time.

Brown Rice Pudding

1/2 Cup Brown Rice
4 Cups Soy Milk
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Cardamom
1/8 tsp Ginger Powder
1 Bay Leaf
1/4 Cup Raisins
1/4 Cup Almonds and/or two drops Almond Extract

Add all ingredients (except Raisins or Almonds) to a large saucepan over medium heat.

Bring to a gentle boil and then turn down to a simmer. Let simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

It will be done when the rice is soft and plump and not overly liquidy (you want it to be a sticky goop, not a soup). If you want your raisins to be warm and soft, you can add them in now and let it all continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Remote from heat and stir in the almonds.

I sliced up an apple and dipped the apple in the pudding as I ate. I cleaned up the rest with a spoon. I can't say that it cured my cold, but it sure made me feel better for a bit!

This is also a great way to use up leftover rice! You'll just want to halve (or even quarter) the amount of milk, and cook for less time.

If you want to reduce some of the fat/calories/sugar, I recommend subbing in some water in place of some of the milk and reducing the amount of sugar. You can of course substitute agave nectar for the sugar, but I don't know the equivalent measurement off the top of my head.
I also tend to up the cinnamon and vanilla and add nutmeg.

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Introduction and my vegan cooking criteria

Now that I am happier and more energetic, I find that I really enjoy cooking. I can't help but take pictures of the results, and I tend to pat myself on the back a lot while I eat. That's difficult, because I don't have three arms, so i'm going to start blogging about it all instead.
And who doesn't like to talk about themselves?

First, a bit about me and my cooking criteria:

- I am lazy. I don't want to spend 3 hours in the kitchen when I could instead spend 1 hour in the kitchen and 2 hours doing something else.
EDIT: Actually I love spending all night in the kitchen now. Oops.

- I hate the blender. I will use it if I have to, but I get really resentful. It's a pain to clean. Anytime I can get away with using the 1970's immersion blender that I got from my parents, I do. So I tend to avoid recipes that won't let me get away with a) stirring with a whisk, b) immersion blending, c) using the small food processor.
EDIT: The Vita-Mix has changed this completely. Now I use the blender at every opportunity. My hatred has shifted instead to the food processor. What a pain to clean compared to the Vita Mix.

- All food must be prepared before whatever TV show I plan to watch. This ties into not wanting to spend 3 hours in the kitchen.
EDIT: Thanks to Heroes and House and Greys Anatomy now kind of sucking, this no longer applies as much. The shows that I still watch like Bones can be watched from Hulu anyway. So now i'm fine with spending 3 hours in the kitchen, unless football is on.

- Food must usually be prepared with a beer in hand. This helps me be less grumpy about cooking and cleaning.
EDIT: While this is still mostly true, my health and mood must kindly disagree. Music must suffice instead.

- The less veggie-chopping, the better. I'm a slow, mentally deficient chopper, so I avoid it when possible. Canned tomatoes, frozen veggies, that's more my speed. I'll suck it up and chop an onion, press some garlic, grind ginger, and maaaaaybe chop a few carrots, but beyond that I get impatient.
EDIT: Duh, a sharp knife and some practice totally changes this. Although I still cut myself regularly.

- And of course, all food must be vegan and preferably delicious, because I am vegan (and delicious).

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