Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vegan Mayonnaise

Mayo

I had originally made this several months back but a computer crash happened before I had a chance to post about it.

As Batgirl said in her post back in June about the Vegan Mayonanaise on page 573 this is very easy to make. Short of the silken tofu possibly, everything else most folks will have on hand already!

It just uses a few ingredients & it's easy to tweak it to satisfy your tastebuds & make various flavors.

As Batgirl said it takes under 5 minutes to make! I used it on my Black Bean Burgers & can't wait to use it on other things!

--Gymmie

Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burger2

Since it had been a while since I made something in the book I decided to make the Black Bean Burgers on page 120. This is very easy to make, I hadn't checked my spices very well so missed that I didn't have thyme but for me the flavors were great that it wasn't missed. Not that I have that talent to pull out flavors by trying something unless it's an obvious flavor.

The recipe makes 4 but I doubled it so that I could have some just about all week & not have to stop & make it again.

--Gymmie

Friday, October 22, 2010

Grilled Portobello Burgers

Grilled Portobello Burgers

Who says vegans can't have juicy, meaty, satisfying burgers? Grilled Portobello Burgers (page 118) prove any naysayers wrong.

In this sophisticated but simple burger, tender and succulent portobello mushrooms are marinated in a balsamic glaze and grilled to juicy perfection. The burger is topped with grilled red onions, basil, and tomato. All of the flavors compliment each other so well, no one will be asking "where's the beef?" with this satisfying burger.

I know cook-out season is officially at an end, but these burgers are worth firing the grill up for one last time.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hiatus

Even with the best of intentions, life can get the better of you. All of us have been super busy and we've been unable to keep up with the project.

A big thanks to Batgirl who was so diligent in keeping up with recipes and for creating our backend spreadsheet to help us keep track of everything.

So I guess consider this a hiatus. I know I would like to pick this up again in the future when things aren't so crazy and I hope that some of my fellow bloggers will as well.

Thanks everyone for visiting and commenting. Check back once in a while to see if anything's been posted. Until then, stay happy and stay vegan!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

White and Wild Rice Salad w/ Walnuts, Cranberries, and Figs

White and Wild Rice Salad with Walnuts, Cranberries, and Figs

White and Wild Rice Salad with Walnuts, Cranberries, and Figs {page 84} is one of the easiest, prettiest, and most flavorful salads I've had in a very long time.

The preparation, although it does require a decent amount of chopping, is quite easy, and the salad itself comes together in no time at all, once the prep work is complete. All of the colors and flavors play beautifully together to make a concoction that is not only a treat for the eyes, but for the mouth as well.

This salad is sophisticated, but at the same time simple enough to be enjoyed by people of all ages. Best of all, it has a vinaigrette-based dressing, which makes it perfect for picnics and other events outdoors, as you don't have to worry about it sitting out in the sun.

This salad is going to become a regular fixture at many of my outdoor gatherings, I'm sure of it!

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blazing Sunset Salad

Blazing Sunset Salad

Something about summer just makes me want to devour an inordinate amount of fruit salad, and that desire is simply amplified when it comes to summer cookouts. Blazing Sunset Salad {page 96} was my choice for our last cookout.

This beautiful, quick, and easy fruit salad distributes the limelight gracefully between juicy cherries, refreshing oranges, sweet nectarines, toothsome bananas, and crisp apples, all dancing in a light dressing.

There's really only so much you can say about fruit salad, but this one is definitely a keeper. I truly look forward to testing out the rest of them in the book. Yum!

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fettuccine with Fresh Figs and Walnuts

Fettuccine with Fresh Figs and Walnuts

I cannot believe I didn't find this recipe until now. Fettuccine with Fresh Figs and Walnuts {page 211} has just about everything I could ever want in a dream pasta.

Tender pasta is coated with a creamy cashew sauce, and then tossed with sauteed fresh figs and walnuts. The whole thing is topped up with crispy homemade breadcrumbs. The creaminess of the sauce paired perfectly with the sweetness of the figs, and the heady deepness of the walnuts. The salty toasty crunch provided by the breadcrumbs was really the icing on the cake...erm...plate of pasta, so to speak.

Fresh figs are rather expensive, so I cannot see myself making this often. However, this would be an easy and impressive dish to serve to guests on special occasions. In fact, I think I impressed myself with this one. I may just come back to my kitchen to eat again sometime. You're invited too, of course.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sunflower Zucchini Bread

Sunflower Zucchini Bread

A twist on classic zucchini bread, Sunflower Zucchini Bread {page 405} has protein-rich sunflower seeds baked right into the bread.

This delicious bread has all the components you've grown to love in standard zucchini bread - moist, comforting, slightly sweet, the illusion of health {"Hey, it has zucchini in it, so it's good for me!"}. All of those factors are amped up by the presence of the delightful little sunflower seeds. They add interesting texture and flavor, as well as amp up the nutritional qualities.

The Ninjahusband found the bread a little odd with the seeds in it, but I really liked them. Maybe next time I'll make 2 loaves - one without seeds for him, one with extra seeds for me.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mango Morning Quesadillas

Mango Morning Quesadillas

Mango Morning Quesadillas {page 513} were a concept too novel to pass up. A sweet mango filling sandwiched between two tortillas, baked till crispy, and topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon? Sign me up!

And it was good...mostly. Honestly, the filling was a little weird. It baked up funny in the oven, almost to the consistency of scrambled eggs {ew, gross, I know, sorry!}, and wasn't as sweet as I'd hoped. The Ninjahusband thought it was pretty good, but I'm a little on the picky side, and I didn't really love it.

I may be persuaded to try it again, but I think I'd make some modifications first.

Overall, major points for ingenuity and concept...just a touch lacking in execution.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

White Bean and Walnut Patties

White Bean and Walnut Patties

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Robin is the master of all things patty, and White Bean and Walnut Patties {page 122} are no exception.

These little patties are made from simple yet flavorful ingredients, and they have a fantastic texture. They're more sturdy than most bean-related patties {thanks to the high ratio of vital wheat gluten to other ingredients}, making them the perfect candidates for a backyard grilling session.

I can see them going beautifully in a bun with your favorite toppings, but I chose to serve them here cozied up to some Creamy Cauliflower and topped with Watercress Sauce.

They are elegant, but also quick and kid-friendly - the Supertoddler devoured his portion. They also make great leftovers, so make a double batch and take some to work with you the next day!

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Quinoa Summer Squash Pilaf



Yes, my camera is dead. Yes, this was taken with my phone. No, I'm not exactly proud of that. I suppose this is my punishment for taking such a long hiatus. :)

So with the best of intentions, I attempted to make the Quinoa Summer Squash Pilaf (p279). Intentions I say, because thanks to a minor bug problem that I'm sure no one wants to read about on a food blog, I found my quinoa to be infested and therefore unusable. Well the onions were already sauteing, the squash was already diced, and with the oppressive humidity I was in no mood for creativity. Apparently these bugs don't like couscous because that was fine, so this dish became a couscous pilaf.

As I am prone to do, I found it a bit bland for my taste so I added some garlic powder, and after separating Grandma V's portion, some red pepper flakes. It's still too mild for me, because I like a big ole spicy party in my mouth, but this is a simple dish to put together on a weeknight, made bright and fresh by the appearance of summer vegetables. And let's be honest, fresh basil makes anything more lively and delicious! There's really no "secret" to this one, it's great for the beginning cook and a palette of potential for the more advanced.

I'll make it again--this time with bug-less quinoa--so as to have the full experience, but will likely add fresh garlic near the end. That would really finish it off. I can also see this being a good dish for a picnic or some other outdoor dining adventure, as it would be fine chilled or at room temp, and there's nothing in there requiring refrigeration.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Watercress Sauce

Watercress Sauce

Watercress Sauce {page 553} is a healthy, vibrant, and tasty sauce that can liven up a boring "meat"-and-potatoes type dinner in a hurry.

The sauce is mainly made from blanched watercress, with other key ingredients such as vinegar and garlic used to play up its peppery notes. It is easy to throw together, and very healthy. The flavor is distinct, but I can see it pairing well with all manner of tofu, cutlets, croquettes, or roasted vegetables. I often find myself wanting a sauce to go with something like that, and I usually fall back on gravy. This would be an awesome healthier, more vibrant alternative in situations like that.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Creamy Cauliflower

Creamy Cauliflower

I love {love} love mashed potatoes. And while it is definitely not mashed potatoes, Creamy Cauliflower {page 364} still falls into the realm of Mashed Deliciousness.

Simple to make, and using ingredients you'd expect when mashing any vegetable, this dish came together quickly into a montage of creamy, savory, comforting goodness. The texture is not exactly the same as mashed potatoes, and the taste is a little off, but it was close enough that it fooled the Supertoddler.

I think the best thing about this dish is the lowered calorie count. Let's be honest, mashed potatoes are delicious, but not too friendly to the waistline. This Creamy Cauliflower is not only yummy, but it won't increase your pant-size.

This was a very good recipe, and a technique I will be using often, I'm sure of it.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Vegetable Fried Rice

Vegetable Fried Rice

I hate to give a bad review. I am a people-pleaser to the core, and admitting that I didn't really like something - be it a recipe, a book, a movie, or whatever - just doesn't jive with me. However, I'm kind of a food snob, and I can be rather picky about what I eat. If I'm eating something and I don't love it, I'm likely not to finish it. I'd rather waste food than eat something I don't love. I know that's horrible of me, but that's the truth.

As for more horrible truth, I just have to admit that Vegetable Fried Rice {page 268} didn't really impress me. It was definitely edible, and everyone I served it to ate it and said it was just fine. It just seemed to be a little lacking.

I amped up all the seasonings, as I could tell from tasting all along that it might be a little on the bland side. Even that didn't really help though. If I made it again, I'd at least double all the seasonings, and maybe even add in more ingredients.

I guess one book cannot be expected to win them all. However, I still feel guilty for the bad review.

Apologetically,

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cherry Berry Watermelon Salad

Cherry Berry Watermelon Salad

First of all, to my American friends: Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone is having a lovely day full of cruelty-free celebrations.

I attended a family BBQ last night, and I brought festive Cherry Berry Watermelon Salad {page 98} to share with everyone. With the patriotic red and blue, this salad is just begging to be all dolled up for a celebration. In the absence of a melon baller, the more creative side of my brain took over, and I realized this was a perfect opportunity to take a mini star cookie cutter to my watermelon. While it was a bit of work, it was definitely worth the appreciative ooohs and ahhhhs that special touch brought.

The salad is simple in its construction, and takes advantage of fresh summer fruit in its prime. The dressing is light, consisting mainly of orange juice, and serves to brighten and compliment the already amazing flavors mingling in this salad. Pitting that number of cherries can be somewhat daunting if you don't have a cherry pitter, but the ever-helpful Ninjahusband figured out that a thin pair of kitchen sheers {or a chopstick} will work in a pinch.

This was a fabulous salad for a cookout on a hot summer night. I would encourage you to whip this up next time you need something colorful and delicious to compliment your veggie burgers and corn on the grill.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Friday, July 2, 2010

Beans Bourguignon

Beans Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon is practically synonymous with French cooking. This classic French stew, rich with red wine and thickened with beurre manie {"kneaded butter"}, is given a vegan makeover and makes its glamorous reappearance as Beans Bourguignon {page 253}. Tender red kidney beans stand in for the traditional cow's flesh, and vegan margarine is kneaded with flour to make a vegan beurre manie.

Don't let the genre frighten you - this recipe was easy peasy to throw together. I had it on the table in just over 30 minutes! Additionally, it's made from inexpensive ingredients {depending on the wine you choose} and is a one-pot meal. Although it can be eaten as a stew, I found it especially good served over egg-free wide noodles.

The flavors were complex and deep, and only improved in the fridge, making leftovers of this stew absolutely delightful {which is convenient, as the stew made quite a lot}. Even though I made this and enjoyed it in the dead of summer {not sure what I was thinking}, I think this would be especially good served in the cool fall or winter months, with some crusty bread for sopping up the delicious broth. The ultimate comfort food - French-style!

Bon appetit!

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Seared Portobello Fajitas

Seared Portobello Fajitas

Ole! When you need a quick meal, few things are more delicious and time-friendly than fajitas. Being a working mother of a very active Supertoddler, I am always in the need of a quick meal, and Seared Portobello Fajitas {page 125} were not only fast, but featured one of my favorite foods on earth - the portobello mushroom.

I followed the recipe exactly, deviating only to add about 1/2 a red bell pepper I had hanging out in the fridge. I was actually surprised there were no bell peppers in the recipe to begin with - nothing screams fajitas like peppers! The flavorful ingredients seared up so quickly, I hardly had time to heat some tortillas and sort out a side dish. Major flavor for very little effort - what a great combination!

The Ninjahusband took the leftovers for lunch the following day, and said they were even more delicious. This would be a great thing to make a double {or triple} batch of to have around for lunches throughout the week.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Brownies

Coconut Brownies

Um yeah. I admit that I may have been conceited about my brownie-making in the past. I even named one of my own recipes "Marry Me Brownies" because of the number of marriage proposals they've gotten me throughout the years. Count me sufficiently humbled. Chocolate Coconut Brownies {page 436} are hands down the best brownies I've ever had in my life. Everyone who tasted them agreed.

The brownies are made rich with both coconut milk and shredded coconut, and the added chocolate chips boost them to that down-right-decadent level. I used dark cocoa powder {I always do, I have a slight love affair with it}, and these dark little brownies were fudgy, moist little morsels of heaven on earth. Not only do they taste fantastic, but the smell that was wafting through my house while they baked...I cannot even describe. I could scarce keep my hands out of the oven until they were finished.

Coconut-haters obviously wouldn't find these enjoyable {although really, if you hate coconut, you are grumpy and probably not enjoying life anyway - I jest, I jest}, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a single other individual alive who could resist these babies.

Dozens of thumbs way, way up on this recipe {I shared the brownies with my coworkers}. I already have repeat requests for them to make an appearance at Tuesday Treats in the near future. {Every Tuesday I make treats for my coworkers and bring them into work.} I think I will selflessly oblige {and enjoy every savory lick of the batter in the process}.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tamari-Dijon Marinade [Pan-Seared Seitan with Herbed Potatoes]

I had just made simmered seitan (a.k.a. “wheat meat”) for the first time and was looking to do something with it aside from freaking out about how I’d just created, from flour and some vegetable stock, cutlets that looked and felt and, uh, kind of smelled disquietingly like slices of pigs. But they weren’t!


So I was ready to pan sear them and serve them alongside some herb-baked potatoes. Not, however, before marinating them in some Tamari-Dijon Marinade (page 576). I chose it because it’s composed solely out of standard-pantry ingredients. I wasn’t expecting much, given the brief list of pedestrian ingredients. To my surprise, I couldn’t’ve chosen a better marinade. Uncomplicated, it was the perfect accent to the honest simplicity of my meal.


I’ll most definitely be keeping the Tamari-Dijon Marinade in mind for the next time I need to give something a good pre-preparatory soak.


-- Ulpia, gives savory baths to slices of wheat - -

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Macadamia-Cashew Patties

Macadamia-Cashew Patties

Nothing is more stereotypical of being vegan than the ubiquitous veggie burger. Most think of the frozen variety - flat, flavorless, more like a mere apology for not being a burger than an actual food item. You all know those burgers. Well rejoice, because I'm here to tell you, Macadamia-Cashew Patties {page 119} are anything but boring.

Slightly sweet, and complex in flavor and texture, these patties could liven up any meal or gathering. They are very flavorful, and cook up nicely. My only complaint is that you have to handle them carefully or they may break apart. Treat your burger well and it will treat you well, though. At least, that's my philosophy on the matter.

I served these on thin buns w/ homemade vegan mayonnaise {see previous post}, mixed baby lettuce, slices of ripe roma tomato, and radish sprouts. This made for one healthy, sophisticated, and satisfying meal.

The Supertoddler and Ninjahusband both enjoyed them immensely. These golden little gems are definitely going into regular rotation.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vegan Mayonnaise

Vegan Mayonnaise

Let's be honest, mayo, any mayo, even if it's delicious homemade Vegan Mayonnaise {page 573}, is not very photogenic.

Although it will never win any beauty contests, this mayonnaise is dynamite! First off, the ingredient list is short, and is made with things I generally have on hand. The ingredients are inexpensive, to boot. Secondly, it is super fast to make! Literally 5 minutes and voila! Vegan mayo! Third, it is MUCH lower in calories and fat than your standard mayonnaise {even a vegan mayonnaise}. This stuff has no added oil or fat in it at all - not a drop! Last but not least, it is YUMMY. So yummy! It has a tangy but pleasantly smooth flavor. I don't usually like the flavor of mayo enough to really put it on much, but I can see myself becoming very addicted to this stuff. I've already used it twice today.

First off, I used it to make a delicious classic macaroni salad:

Macaroni Salad

{Please note: my cute kitty bowl. NOTE IT!}

It gave great flavor and creaminess to the dish without overwhelming the over flavors and textures. I'm sure it would be KILLER in potato salad as well.

Secondly, I decided to make my grilled corn Mexican-style by slathering some on the corn and sprinkling it with paprika:

Father's Day Dinner

You know you've got a good mayo on your hands when you like the taste of it enough to put it on your corn. This was DYNAMITE.

All in all, I am extremely thrilled to have found this lower fat, lower calorie, inexpensive, easy, and DELICIOUS alternative to store-bought vegan mayo. Try it today! You won't regret it.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Spice Cake with Mango and Lime

Spice Cake with Mango and Lime

One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of ripe, juicy, delicious {and cheap!} mangoes. Nearly daily you can find me standing in my kitchen, eating pieces of mango straight off the knife I used to cut it, moaning to the Ninjahusband "Oh man, is there ANYTHING on earth that tastes better than a mango?"

{In case you're curious, the answer is no. No, there is nothing on earth that tastes better than a ripe mango.}

Therefore, Spice Cake with Mango and Lime {page 451} is the perfect summery dessert.

Because I was having a crowd for dinner, I doubled the recipe to yield a two-layer cake. It was easy to throw together, standard cake protocol. The batter was really thick, but baked up beautifully.

The recipe suggests using mango puree in place of the applesauce, which I did, even though it required a trip to the Indian market to acquire said puree. It really bumped up the mango flavor, and I'm glad I went to the trouble.

The cake was heavily spiced {but not overly spiced} with cinnamon, allspice, and ginger, and those flavors complimented the mango and tangy lime perfectly.

I frosted the cake with vegan cream cheese frosting, and it paired perfectly. Everyone who tried the cake loved it - in fact, there's just one small piece sitting alone on the cake pedestal now, waiting for someone to come along and snatch it up.

I think I might be that someone...as long as my Ninjahusband-someone or my Supertoddler-someone doesn't get to it first.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sesame Soba Noodles

Sesame Soba Noodles

Previously, I've been a little afraid of cooking with soba noodles. However, what better way to conquer one's fear than to face it head on? Sesame Soba Noodles {page 236} was the perfect recipe to help me do so.

This recipe is easy to prepare {although it does involve a fair amount of chopping}, gorgeous to look at, and delicious to eat! I like the bountiful variety of vegetables it includes, and how the flavors work together to make a cohesive and simple {but complexly flavored} dish.

I especially liked the notes of sesame playing throughout. They worked as a nutty undertone in the background, and really helped draw out the flavors in the other ingredients.

This dish is definitely going into regular rotation, and I think I've now conquered my fear of the weird gray noodles.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Winter Pasta Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette

Winter Pasta Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette

For an interesting twist on your standard creamy pasta salad, why not give Winter Pasta Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette {page 90} a try?

This simple salad features vegetables that are easily found during the winter months {and coincidentally are hardy enough to keep around in your fridge as staples}, and is dressed in a deceptively healthy creamy mustard vinaigrette.

The salad was quite easy to put together, and was rather flavorful, but had a couple of shortcomings. First, I would have liked some sweetness in the dressing. I think if I make it again, I will include a tbsp or two of agave nectar. Second, the mustard was very strong and almost too tangy to eat the first night it was made {this may be corrected with the use of the agave nectar mentioned}. However, upon trying to leftovers the next day, most of the dressing had soaked right into the noodles, and the salad was then dry and quite flavorless. This definitely seems to be a salad that needs to be eaten the day it's prepared.

Overall, I really liked the idea. I thought it was very unique. With a couple of tweaks, I think this recipe could be a keeper!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hash Brown Potatoes

Hash Brown Potatoes

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and also can be the most delicious -- especially if it includes Hash Brown Potatoes {page 525}.

Let's be honest: hash browns are mostly just an excuse to have french fries for breakfast, but what a beautiful excuse they are! The Ninjahusband and I often make hash browns for lazy weekend breakfasts, but this recipe really stood out. For one thing, the recipe specifies to grate some onion in with the potatoes. For some reason, we'd never thought to do this before. This really amped up the flavor factor and made the 'browns just that much more delicious and decadent.

Although hash browns are something you don't really need a recipe for, I will definitely be using the onion idea from this recipe for years to come. Two enthusiastically greasy thumbs way ups!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Golden Veggie Burgers

Golden Veggie Burgers

Since becoming Vegan I'm trying not to rely on processed "convenience" foods because I do find that making them is more convenient and though vegan still has ingredients to keep them shelf stable.

One of the items that I've learned is pretty easy to make are veggie burgers. There are a variety of recipes out there and I'm trying as many as possible to find my favorite. The Golden Veggie Burgers on page 121 definitely will make the list! This is very easy to put together and you can either bake or fry them depending on your preference.

For most people the ingredients will be on hand already and what helps this "bind" is the Vital Wheat Gluten which can be found in most grocery stores near the flour or easily ordered online.

The burger was very good and will be made again. The only change I would make would be to double the recipe :).

~~Gymmie

Slow-Simmered Collard Greens

collard greens

The Slow-Simmered Collard Greens on page 365 is a pretty simple recipe to put together. Being a picky eater growing up, greens was one of the few things I would eat :).

The "work" is the washing and chopping or tearing of the greens and let it cook for about 40 minutes. I didn't get a chance to get to Kroger so I wasn't able to get the optional Chipolte Chile in Adobo since Albertson's didn't have it. Next time I make it, I'll definitely add it.

The greens were fine by themselves but would have been better that that extra zing of the Chiles :).

I incorporated the greens with some black eyed peas over rice and Fired-up Cornbread that I had made before but hadn't marked in my book!

slow cooked collard greens, black eye peas, fired-up jalapeno cornbread

~~Gymmie

Red Bean Jambalaya

red bean jambalya3

The Red Bean Jambalaya on page 252 was very simple to put together. I prefer Brown Rice but used white to stay in with the recipe.

I missed the crushed tomatoes in the recipe so used 2 cans of diced since I was in the middle of the recipe when I realized the error but it still tasted good :).

For me the beans were protein enough but if I have left over seitan or some vegan sausage links I would add that next time for sure for additional flavor.

The spices were fine for me so I don't think I'd make any alternations.

~~Gymmie

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Creamy Potato-Chard Soup

Creamy Potato-Chard Soup6

My latest foray was the Creamy Potato-Chard Soup on page 178 and I really liked it. I did like it better after it sat for a while but it was still good fresh.

The soup was easy to put together. The cleaning/chopping of the potatoes, onion, celery and of course chard took a bit but the soup itself comes together in about 45 minutes.

The garlic was a bit small this time around so I added a few extra cloves so that was the only change I made.

I'm enjoying these various creamy soups and they are so easy to make and by placing them in a storage container and freezing you'll always have something on hand when there's no time to cook or just don't feel like what's in the cabinet.

~~Gymmie

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

I'll admit right now that lasagna is my "go to" dish to make when I can't think of anything else. It's easy and makes a ton so there's leftovers the next day. I normally make a simple lasagna with just tofu ricotta because I think I've been scarred by terrible vegetable lasagna in the past where the vegetables were totally undercooked and not seasoned. Roasting vegetables is my favourite easy method so I thought, hey, why not combine the best of both worlds and make the Roasted Vegetable Lasagna (page 216)?

The great thing about lasagna is that you can just throw in whatever you want. Robin suggests zucchini, eggplant and red bell pepper which do go together really well. Our terrible grocery store was of course out of eggplant (I don't think I've ever seen it there) so I opted for a vegetable mixture of onion, garlic, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini and red pepper. Roasting vegetables is one of the easiest things to do and the flavour is so much better than steamed or sauteed. Just toss or drizzle with oil, salt and pepper and any other herbs & spices that you want and then throw in the oven. Because I can't leave well enough alone, I did sprinkle on some onion and garlic powder and roasted it a little longer than the recipe suggests because I like my vegetables really caramelised.

The tofu ricotta is also simple to make. Just crumble, season and away you go. I ended up using two packages of extra firm Nasoya tofu and added just a spoonful of lemon juice for a bit of acidity to the ricotta along with the parsley, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast.

For the noodles, I chose not to cook them first. For years I used to cook them first but now I just soak the noodles in cold water (don't use hot, it will release the starches and make them stick together) while I'm prepping the other ingredients and then use more sauce than called for. For store bought, I use two large jars — one full jar of sauce at the bottom of the pan and one full jar on the top. The noodles are perfectly cooked during the usual cooking time and it saves me from washing another pot.

For the layering, I opted for a single layer of vegetables and a single layer of tofu ricotta rather than split them both into two layers. For the topping I went with straight nutritional yeast which is usually my standard lasagna topping since I never have vegan parmesan and always forgot to make some.

The finished lasagna was delicious. The roasted vegetables added a great flavour to the entire dish and was so much better than just plain vegetables and the leftovers were even better the next day. Not sure why I didn't think of roasted vegetables in lasagna before but now I think this will be added to my regular rotation.

— Ms. Veganorama

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spicy White Bean and Tomato Soup

Spicy White Bean and Tomato Soup5

Although Spring is right around the corner and we enjoyed weather in the mid-70s here in Texas today I still wanted some soup. Hey soup is comforting and fine all year round right :).

This soup came together quickly and easily. I had some jalape├▒os to use up so I added those to the soup since my store only has the mild chilies. I wanted that extra punch of the hot chilies.

As usual, using canned beans keeps the cooking time short unless you're mean and have a Fagor (I'm looking at you and you know who you are :p).

The jalapen├▒os added the punch I was hoping for and the soup is really good. This soup also adds peanut butter which I did have to refrain myself from putting the entire jar in. YUM Peanut Butter :).

Another very good soup that takes under an hour with ingredients you probably already have on hand :).

~~Gymmie

Silician Stuffed Tomatoes

Silician Stuffed Tomatoes3

first learned about Couscous when I was an Omni. Someone had brought some for a potluck at work. I had never made it although I really liked what he had made. After I became Vegan I finally tried to and kicked myself over not making it before. It literally takes the time to boil water and 5 minutes to "cook" to make. And of course you can do all sorts of things with it.

So in seeing that this recipe used one of my favorite grains I had to make it. The prep time for the various chopping of ingredients and took under 30 minutes. The bake time about 20 minutes. This was my first time making a recipe where you stuff a vegetable so I'll definitely work on that!

It may have been the size of my tomatoes as well but I did have extra stuffing so if you have a good sale on tomatoes get extras!

There wasn't anything that I'd change other than more raisins and nuts as I love them :).

~~Gymmie

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spiced Apple Pancakes



When the Supertoddler and Ninjahusband were craving pancakes one morning recently, I thought it was a perfect time to try Spiced Apple Pancakes {p. 515} on for size.

Apples and cinnamon are a classic, delicious combination. The pancakes themselves were easy to put together, but lacked a bit in flavor. However, the topping made up for some of the sweetness, and the combination of the two provided a very pleasant pancake experience indeed.

I'm not dying to make these again anytime soon, but this is a good, solid pancake recipe, made a little more special by the apple topping.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ginger-Molasses Bread with Blueberries


Much as I adore it in all of its incarnations, I’ve never made gingerbread before. So since I had all of the ingredients on hand, and since anything with molasses piques my interest (I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what that was until hopping the pond), I decided to bake up the Ginger-Molasses Bread with Blueberries (page 404).

I substituted white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose and a mix of light brown sugar and dark brown (the stuff is amazing, it’s moist and wonderfully fragrant, calling to mind molasses; I love it so much, I sometimes sneak pinches just like that.)

The aroma emanating from the oven? Dreamy. The bread? Delicious. The half cup of cornmeal really does wonders for the consistency. Tender, moist, and flavorful, there’s nothing more I could wish for in a sweetbread. I’ll be keeping this in mind for next winter and a big audience. (Frozen blueberries = definitely the way to go.)

- - Ulpia, bakes 'em up - -

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vegetable Lo Mein and Hot and Sour Soup

20100221_VegetableLoMein

Warning: super long post ahead!

I know, I've been making a crazy amount of stuff from this book lately. Not really sure why, it just sort of worked out that way. Anyway, it was Chinese New Year (a.k.a. Lunar New Year) last weekend and I didn't make or go out to eat Chinese food at all. I wanted to but just didn't get a chance to so I decided to at least make a couple of Chinese dishes from the book a few days ago. Even though these are not traditional new year's dishes, or even dishes I grew up with, I settled on Vegetable Lo Mein With Tofu (page 234) and Hot and Sour Soup (page 152).

For the lo mein, I ended up using linguine. I normally don't substitute semolina pasta for Chinese wheat noodles but the texture and width worked really well. The recipe follows a standard format for stirfried noodles: prepped vegetables, precooked noodles and premixed sauce. I made the recipe as is at first (tweaked it afterwards, keep reading) and I found it really lacking in seasoning and flavour. Not a huge deal for me. I'd rather have a dish that is underseasoned so I can adjust accordingly, than one that is overseasoned.

Now this is just my personal take on it but here are my suggested tweaks. The recipe initially calls for only 3 tbsp soy sauce. It does say to adjust the seasonings when you're done, but in my opinion, 3 tbsp as a starting point is way too little for 12 oz of noodles. It should be closer to 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup. That may sound like a lot but if you compare recipes, the Pad Thai recipe uses 1/3 cup of soy sauce for 12 oz of noodles. The amount of sherry is about right since the flavour is fairly strong. The sugar however should also probably be upped to 1 tbsp or more to balance out the other flavours. The last thing that this dish would have benefitted from was a few spoonfuls of vegetarian "oyster" sauce. You know when you make some Cantonese dishes at home and it never tastes quite right with just soy sauce? That missing flavour is usually from the vegetarian "oyster" sauce. Other ingredients too, but the "oyster" sauce makes a huge difference. I also ended up adding some chili oil with roasted peanuts (the peanuts are in the oil) and sriracha on the side

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a "bad" recipe by any means. The basic blueprint is there, but keep in mind that you will want to up the seasonings by quite a bit.

On to the soup!

20100221_HotAndSourSoup

Hot and sour soup is one of those things that is never really the same from restaurant to restaurant. Pre-vegan, I consumed so much hot and sour soup and have had so many different variations with the most interesting one being a really sweet tomato-based one. It was kind of odd, but good at the same time. But I digress...

Yes, I know the soup looks a bit oily in the pic. It's most likely from the sesame seed oil at the end (and maybe because I used roux...). Anyway, this recipe is a good starting point for hot and sour soup. Balanced flavours that really come together after simmering. I did have a few small tweaks though.

I was completely out of cornstarch so I ended up making a light roux first (that's why my soup isn't clear) and then adding in the water and bouillon powder. The recipe calls for a light broth since the flavour and sodium comes mostly from the other ingredients, so I cut the amount of bouillon powder in half. I also didn't have any bamboo shoots on hand and I really don't like water chestnuts so I skipped that. I did add in both shiitake and white mushrooms along with some sliced cloud ear fungus for texture and some chopped bok choy.

On to the seasonings! For the chili paste, I used (double) chili garlic sauce. I ended up adding in a little bit more soy sauce, a pinch of sugar and also a splash of balsamic. What? Yeah, I said balsamic. I wanted to add in a splash of Chinese black vinegar, but I didn't have any on hand. Balsamic is an okay substitute in small doses as long as it's not the primary flavour. It adds a similar depth in taste as Chinese black vinegar and worked well here too. The sesame seed oil at the end helped to round everything out nicely. The soup was even better the next day.

All in all, everything turned out pretty tasty, but only after some major additions for the noodles. Keep that in mind if you're making them.

Lastly, a belated gung hay fat choy to everyone!

Ms. Veganorama

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baked Pasta Shells and Broccoli (but with macaroni)

20100219_BakedPastaBroccoli

I'm always up for trying new pasta and "cheese" recipes so I decided to make Baked Pasta Shells and Broccoli (page 224) but with macaroni. The recipe uses the Mornay-Style Cheeze Sauce (page 552) that Gymmie also made previously.

The Mornay sauce came together easily and is also low fat as it uses cornstarch to thicken instead of a roux. I think though that this would have been better with more fat since it is baked (more on that below). What I liked about the Mornay sauce is that it used vegetable stock instead of plain water. It added a fuller flavour to the sauce, but of course it depends on how good your stock is. I like to use Bryanna's broth powder or the Seitenbacher brand powder.

The entire dish was nice and super creamy before it went into the oven but after it came out, not so much. The pasta absorbed almost all the sauce as you can probably tell from the pic. Now, I do make mac & "cheese" a lot and I know that there is some absorption after baking or in the fridge but this was a huge amount of absorption. The only difference really between my usual sauce and this one is the fat. I make a full fat roux (margarine and oil) for my own. Maybe someone can enlighten me on whether fat content in a sauce would affect absorption?

Regardless, the dish was still tasty, just a little drier than I would like. If making this, I would suggest coating the cooked macaroni with a bit of oil or margarine before adding the sauce, or using some fat in the sauce, or baking for less time, uncovered (to crisp up the breadcrumbs), or skip the baking entirely, or make an extra batch of sauce to serve on top, which is what I did today with the leftovers.

Ms. Veganorama

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Apple "Waldorf" Loaf - Guest Post by Mindy

Apple Waldorf Loaf

For my second guest spot, I once again chose something in a loaf form. Having just posted that I inevitably fail at loaves, this seems like a bad choice at first, BUT I received my brand new range on Monday, with my first ever convection oven setting! What better way to check out the supposed greatness of convection than to put my loaf ability to the test.

The Apple "Waldorf" Loaf (page 405) is easy to put together with standard pantry ingredients. It comes together quickly and bakes in about an hour. I subbed pecans for the walnuts and used golden raisins. I also had to use brown sugar as I was out of white. This is a tasty, moist, wonderful loaf, and yes, it even baked well for me! It was very exciting to cut in half to check and see if I had the standard dense area at the bottom, how my loaves usually turn out. There was a little bit, but nothing like I am used to. I call this a great success and will enjoy being a new loaf convert.

- Mindy, Guest Blogger

Austrian Noodles and Cabbage

Austrian Noodles and Cabbage

Sometimes you just want something simple and comforting and nothing says comfort like Austrian Noodles and Cabbage (page 213).

This dish is easy to throw together and oh so tasty. I used wheat noodles instead of pasta because I felt like having a softer noodle, green cabbage instead of savoy and I added in extra margarine. A lot of extra margarine because well, that's how I like it. :p

There's not much else to say about this except that this is excellent comfort food. Simple ingredients with a tasty result. It doesn't look like much, but it's delicious.

Ms. Veganorama

Friday, February 19, 2010

Falafel Sandwiches and Classic Tabbouleh

Falafel Sandwich with Classic Tabbouleh

Most vegans I know love falafel sandwiches. What's not to like? Fried seasoned chickpea patties with fresh ingredients in a soft pita. It's been a long time since I had a really good falafel and the last one I bought recently sucked (Maoz — it was dry and flavourless) so I put Falafel Sandwiches (page 117) on my recipe list along with Classic Tabbouleh (page 87).

Both dishes were easy to make, but I'll start with the tabbouleh. I used fine bulgur since that's all I had on hand and omitted the cucumber since I forgot to put that on this week's grocery list. The tabbouleh calls for 1/4 cup of oil but you can always reduce that if you are limiting the amount of oil in your food. I did ramp up the lemon juice though after tasting but the recipe is a good starting point, so adjust the lemon to your tastes. I do wish I had cucumbers though because it would have added some extra brightness to the salad since my tomatoes weren't great.

For the falafel sandwiches, I used canned chickpeas. My food processor is terrible so in the process of getting the onions to get chopped down along with the parsley, I ended up almost pureeing the entire mixture instead of just processing to combine. After refrigerating, I did have to add some flour to thicken everything up. Even though it was still pretty soft and sticky, they still fried up nicely. Crispy on the outside and soft and flavourful on the inside.

I served up the falafel sandwiches with hummus and tabbouleh inside the pita and a dash of hot sauce on mine. We had no tahini in the house so I had to skip that. Normally I would also throw in sliced dill pickles, but we were also out of those. The sandwiches were great and filling and SO much better (and cheaper) than my last takeout falafel.

Ms. Veganorama

P.S. As you can probably tell, all my dinners this week are from the book with more to come. I'm a slacker and have a hard time following recipes but I wanted to make an effort to make a whole bunch of stuff from the book. Go me!

Spaghetti and T-Balls with Marinara Sauce

Spaghetti and T-Balls with Marinara Sauce

A vegan take on a classic dish: Spaghetti and T-Balls (page 194) with Marinara Sauce (page 194).

Let's start with the marinara sauce. Super easy to throw together with pantry staples. This recipe is a great base for your tomato sauces and easily customised to your tastes. The better the quality of your crushed tomatoes, the better your sauce will be. I added in lots of chopped garlic (see the chunks up there), diced onions, some red pepper flakes and a splash of balsamic vinegar. I like adding balsamic because it adds a bit of depth to tomato sauces.

The T-Balls were also really easy to throw together. Similar to the Tempeh Tantrum Burgers, everything goes into a food processor and then cooked. The only thing I changed was that I used regular flour instead of vital wheat gluten and they still held together really well. I opted for the baking method but before I threw them in the oven I gave everything a spritz of oil. They baked up perfectly and held together.

The seasonings were just right combined with the sauce in this dish. Tasty but not overpowering. If you are going to use these without a sauce, ramp up the seasonings. These T-Balls would totally be great in sandwiches too. Of course they still taste like tempeh, so if you don't like tempeh, skip these.

This dish was a nice break from the usual "meat" balls that I've made for spaghetti (usually TVP-based) and it was nice to have pasta with a homemade sauce again instead of jarred (I confess I use jarred a lot). If you're looking for a hearty and comforting meal, make this.

Ms. Veganorama

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Korean Noodle Stir-Fry and Soy-Glazed Tofu

Korean Noodle Stir-Fry

Anyone who knows me knows that Korean food is one of my favourite cuisines. Unfortunately, it's not a very vegan friendly cuisine so I end up making my own dishes including cabbage kimchi, chajang myun/jajang myun and jap chae/chap chae. So when I saw that Robin had a recipe for Korean Noodle Stir-Fry (page 242) a.k.a. jap chae, I had to put that on my list of recipes to make. Instead of the seitan called for in the recipe, I made Soy-Glazed Tofu (page 283).

Soy-GlazedTofu

For the tofu, I used firm tofu pressed overnight in a Tofu Xpress (I think it is totally worth the money) and then marinated and baked. The marinade ingredients were well balanced and tasty and the tofu baked up perfectly in the time alloted. It is great hot or cold and worked great with the noodles. This recipe is super easy so give it a shot and quit buying pre-marinated tofu!

Now on to the noodles. Since I make a lot of Korean food, I had the specific noodles (dang myun which are made from sweet potatoes) on hand. Unless you have a Korean grocer or an Asian grocer that stocks Korean food, chances are you won't be able to find it. I buy mine online from HMart. You could substitute mung bean noodles or rice vermicelli but it really won't be the same since dang myun is firmer and chewier. Also, mung bean or rice vermicelli are a lot more delicate and could easily turn to mush if you're not careful.

My package of noodles was 12oz so I adjusted the other ingredients accordingly. Also the recipe says to soak the noodles for 5 minutes. That may be fine with bean noodles or rice vermicelli, but dang myun need to be cooked for about 5 minutes, then drained and rinsed with cold water. Well, I rinse them at least. Also if you're using uncut dang myun, after it's cooked, cut it with kitchen shears to manageable lengths so it won't be unruly.

For the vegetables I used everything called for an also threw in some sliced cloud ear fungus which doesn't taste like much but adds texture. Since it's a stirfry, add anything you'd like. Sometimes I add red pepper and spinach.

The dish itself is pretty easy to throw together, but there is prep work involved with cooking the noodles and slicing the vegetables. You'll want to have everything prepped before you start. Taste-wise, everything was perfectly balanced for me, but you can adjust any of the seasonings to your liking. Some people like sweeter jap chae, so taste it as is and then add more sugar if you lean towards the sweet side. This recipe makes tons, especially if you use 12oz of noodles, but fear not, the leftovers hold up really well when using dang myun noodles and are also great in lettuce wraps too.

If you are new to Korean food, this is a great dish to make because it doesn't have any flavours that you would be unfamiliar with (like cabbage kimchi), isn't spicy, but still very flavourful.

Ms. Veganorama


Friday, February 12, 2010

Drop Biscuits

Drop Biscuits

I got the cutest email the other day while I was at work. It was from the Ninjahusband and Supertoddler. It said something to the effect of "We wanted biscuits, and we thought we'd help you out with your project, so we made Drop Biscuits {page 407} from 1000 Vegan Recipes. There are several pictures of the finished project attached." Apparently my food blogging is so ingrained in my life that my husband and toddler continue it on, even when I'm away from home!

Ninjahusband said that the biscuits were easy to make, although the dough was a little stiffer than he'd expected for drop biscuits. It could be because of our dry climate. The biscuits had a great flavor and texture, and paired perfectly with Earth Balance and jam. Apparently both of them liked the biscuits a great deal, as there were only a few left when I got home from work. I was able to try one of the leftover biscuits, and they were quite delicious, even cold. I particularly enjoyed their flavor.

These were easy, quick, and delicious, and will likely become my go-to drop biscuit recipe going forward.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl {and Ninjahusband + Supertoddler by proxy}

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Vanilla Walnut Cookies

Vanilla Walnut Cookies

I am a shy vegan. Although I believe strongly in animal rights, and the abolition of the property status of non-human animals, I am rarely vocal about these topics unless directly asked. My "activism" exists mainly in the practice of showing people how easy and "normal" it is to be vegan, and how delicious vegan food is. Along that vein, I bring treats to work with me nearly every Tuesday to share with my coworkers. Vanilla Walnut Cookies {page 432} were last week's pick.

These little cookies were easy to throw together, and quite unique, having ground walnuts in the dough itself. Robin recommends decorating each cookie with a walnut piece, and I took that recommendation.

The cookies themselves were sweet, but not too sweet, with a pleasant mouthfeel. They were a touch biscuity, but who says that cookies can't be biscuity? I thoroughly enjoyed both the flavor and texture, and so did my coworkers. They disappeared very quickly. Which, after all, is the best compliment a cook can get.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tempeh Tantrum Burgers

Tempeh Tantrum Burgers

Like a lot of vegans I know, I'm always on the search for a good vegan burger recipe. Not of the grainy/vegetabley/healthy variety, but the hearty, "meaty" kind which also includes tofu burgers and bean burgers. Pretty much a patty that is uniform in texture with blended ingredients. Anyhoo, when I spied the Tempeh Tantrum Burgers (page 118), I knew I had to try the recipe.

The ingredients are easy to find with tempeh being the most "exotic" ingredient in the recipe. This is a bonus for those who don't really like buying specialty items for just one recipe. The burgers were also super easy to put together. After simmering the tempeh, you just throw everything into the food processor (the cooked tempeh provided the right amount of moisture), shape and fry. They fried and browned quite nicely, BUT with any homemade vegan burger (at least those that don't use vital wheat gluten or some other form of thick binder like flour) they have a tendency to be tender and can fall apart. No biggie though as I'm sure you're all used to that. I actually doubled the recipe and put 1/2 of it in the fridge to fry up the next day. The stuff from the fridge shaped and fried better I think because the oats had a chance to absorb everything overnight.

Taste-wise, they were good but they could have used more salt and seasonings. Maybe some smoked paprika, onion and garlic powder and a few dashes of cumin. You'll want to taste the mixture after you process it and adjust the seasonings to your liking. If you don't like tempeh, don't make this. Because there aren't any strong flavours, the burgers taste like tempeh with nothing to mask that distinct tempeh taste, which you may or may not like.

Robin suggests using dijon on the burgers which I know would pair nicely, but I went with ketchup, yellow mustard and vegenaise (under the lettuce) on homemade buns with lettuce, onion and some sad looking, out of season, grocery store tomatoes.

All in all, this was a new take on a vegan burger for me and a nice change from my usual tempeh dishes. The Mr., who is really picky about tempeh, said "they were pretty good." If you like tempeh, give this a try but adjust the seasonings before you shape the patties.

— Ms. Veganorama

P.S. With this post, we have cooked through 200 recipes!

Quick Apple Crisp

Quick Apple Crisp

Apple crisp is one of the first things I ever learned how to make back in the olden days of junior high school Home Ec class. I fell in love with the dessert instantly, with its rich crumbly topping and soft sweet apple pieces. Plus...it has apples, so it's "healthy", right? Right! Or something. However, for all the apple crisp I've made in my life, I've never made an apple crisp quite like Quick Apple Crisp {page 472}.

I was drawn to this recipe because of my love for apple crisp in general, and because of a couple of unique ingredients in the recipe. The apple layer is sweetened with maple syrup, which sounded like a genius idea to me. Also, there were walnuts included in the topping.

The maple syrup turned out to be not such a great idea. I generally make the apple layer by tossing apples with sugar, cinnamon, and flour {to help create a "sauce" out of any extra liquid that is exuded from the apples during cooking}. However, adding maple syrup just added to the liquid factor. The bottom layer was basically apple soup when it came out of the oven. It was not the end of the world. I just used a slotted spoon to serve the portions, and dumped the "soup" out of the bottom of the pan at the end. I think that the maple syrup would have been a good idea if some corn starch or flour were included in that part of the recipe, as it gave the apples a really lovely flavor.

The walnuts in the topping were DYNAMITE. The Ninjahusband decreed that I should never make apple crisp again without including walnuts in the topping.

Over all, the topping was delicious. The apple part could use a little work. It was a good recipe, in general, it just needs a little tweaking.

-- Your Friendly Neighborhood Batgirl

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chickpea and Vegetable Loaf & Golden (Mushroom) Gravy - Guest Post by Mindy

Chickpea and Vegetable Loaf

I decided on the Chickpea and Vegetable Loaf (page 265) for dinner,as it has fairly standard ingredients, seemed pretty easy, and sounded like it might be a nice, hearty meal. The instructions are easy to follow, although I had some issue with it all being too much for my food processor and I ended up dumping it all into a big bowl to finish mixing with my hands. It seemed a bit dry to me but I resisted the urge to add some sort of liquid to it, and I just pushed it all together into the loaf shape and into the oven it went. My changes - less onion (due to an onion-hating boyfriend), 3 garlic cloves, I subbed some thyme for the savory, as I have never been able to find it, and I had no parsley. I also used 1/2 of a large potato, as I had no small, and 2 small carrots, as I had no medium. I really hate instructions that call for things like that. It's so subjective and I do wonder if some of my problem with the dryness could be due to not enough or maybe too many vegetables.

While waiting on the loaf to cook, I decided to make the Golden Mushroom Gravy (page 547) to go with the loaf, as suggested in the book. One problem - it calls for a can of chickpeas and I had just used my last can to make the loaf. So doing what any good vegan would do, I scanned the cupboard for something else, and decided Great Northern beans would work quite nicely. Now one other problem, I detest mushrooms. So yeah, there wouldn't be any of those in my gravy. I decided to just add the rest of the beans (it calls for one cup, leaving about 1/2 a cup from the can) instead, so there would be something there. Again no savory, so I subbed some oregano this time. The gravy was very thin, probably due to the lack of mushrooms taking up space, so I also added some cornstarch slurry to try and thicken it up, but I didn't use enough and it was still quite thin.

I tend to like loaf-y things, but I have a horrible track record in terms of actually making them. I shun pumpkin bread, as it will inevitably fail, and make only muffins. Loafs just don't like to cook for me, so I was of course quite wary going into this. And yes, I did check my oven temperature! So an hour later, I pulled an ugly little loaf out of the oven and just hoped it would be okay. I let it sit for 10 minutes, as instructed, while I finished up the gravy, mashed potatoes and salad I was making to complete our meal. I sliced up the loaf with a little effort (it got pretty crunchy on the sides and bottom) and looked in the middle to see if it looked done. Not too bad, so I plated it all up, as shown above.

Now, I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about this loaf. It is definitely a bit dry and dense, although having ample gravy definitely made a big difference with that. The flavors are good, if not that exciting. The boyfriend seemed to like it pretty well, but he's not really a good indicator on food, plus I gave him the end piece, which would have been the most done. As I cut out a little piece further towards the middle, I found it seeming stringier (from the gluten) and a bit less done. It's my loaf failures of the past come to haunt me. But I don't think this loaf is beyond redemption. I think the basic mix would probably work well as patties perhaps, or maybe in muffin tins. I will probably try frying up the leftovers, as I have often had good luck with lackluster loaves from frying the slices. The gravy was very good flavorwise, despite the thinness, and I will enjoy the ease of it in the future.

- Mindy, Guest Blogger
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