Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The end of 'mofo

It looks like I just squeaked by 20 food posts for the month, some better posts than others.

I guess I'll keep going from here, though definitely not averaging 5 posts a week, more like one or two. This upcoming week will be pretty hard, with the amount of work due on Thursday and Friday, and two tough exams on Monday and Tuesday. After that, I'll be free to cook, but I'm hesitant to buy any food that won't be eaten before I go home the 14th.

Some of the reasons I'm excited to go home:

  • I have a car! I can drive to the grocery store and buy lots and lots of food and not have to worry about how I'm bringing it home.
  • I have a whole kitchen, all to myself! No more prepping food on my desk while hunched over as to not hit my head. No more dodging dirty pans left to rot in the sink for weeks. No more fridge tetris.
  • Mellow Mushroom: a pizza chain where I can get all the daiya on my pizza that I want. A little expensive, and a little tacky, but so tasty.
  • Both my parents and my brother like eating at Basil, a tasty Thai place downtown. It's a bit cheaper than Silk Elephant and Bangkok Balcony, too. 
  • The forecast for the next two weeks for Pittsburgh is mid-to-low 30s in the day, and the mid-to-low 20s at night. For Charleston, it's 50s in the day, 30s at night. 
In the meantime, I'll get by, somehow. I have some bags of frozen beans, so I can always just eat beans and rice for all my meals (!!!).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pigs in a Blanket

Our last night in Pinehurst, we decided to watch the UNC-Duke game, which mean tailgate food. (Even though we were inside the house the whole time).

I was kinda lazy, so I used the crescent rolls in a tube. So cheap, they're vegan.

Wrapped up some smart dogs in the crescent rolls, then stuck them in the oven at 350 for about 16 minutes. 

I actually prefer the rolls a little bit on the undercooked side, because it leaves the part touching the dog all gooey and delicious (There's a reason I like them this way: my grandmother used to make these for us with cheese wrapped around the dog. The mouthfeel of the melted cheese is just like the mouthfeel of the slightly undercooked crescent roll dough...) Most people probably want to do these 20 minutes.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Survey Saturday - little-food edition

1. What time did you get up this morning?
2pm...? 1pm...?

2. How do you like your steak?

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

4. What is your favorite TV show?
Either the Office or Firefly. Just started watching the latter, but OMG! SO GOOD.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
New York, maybe? But living up north in the winter is so cold. Still, New York is awesome.

6. What did you have for breakfast?
Haaa... Cereal and thanksgiving leftovers - sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy, sweet potato casserole.

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
I'm a big fan of spicy foods, all the time. I guess, then, Thai or Mexican or something.

8. What foods do you dislike?
Cucumbers, some mushrooms, sushi (!!!), pickled anything.

9. Favorite Place to eat?
Oooh. New York has all my favorite restaurants. It's probably Red Bamboo. So much tasty food.

10. Favorite dressing?
Balsamic Vinaigrette!

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive?
Dahon Speed D7. So awesome! It's a bike... and it folds in half (maybe more than half)!

12. What are your favorite clothes?
Jeans, tshirts, warm jacket (Pittsburgh, it is cold).

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?
I'd say Tokyo, but I got to go there last year (next time, I'm bringing energy bars). So now... I dunno, almost everywhere is up for grabs. I don't have time to go many places because of classes.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?
You're not done pouring, keep going. And give me a larger glass, please.

15. Where would you want to retire?
Uh... I dunno. I'm not even a part of the workforce yet.

16. Favorite time of day?
In the summer, late afternoon; in the fall and winter, the morning.

17. Where were you born?
Some hospital in Mount Pleasant, SC.

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?
Um... Soccer?

22. Bird watcher?
Not particularly.

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?
I vary. I'll get in a wake-up-at-5-am rut and do it for weeks, then suddenly, I'm in an up-until-5-am rut and do that for weeks.

24. Do you have any pets?
Lucky, a cute black cat. My mom's two dogs.

25. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share?

26. What did you want to be when you were little?
I think I wanted to be a cat. Yeah, that one's not going to happen.

27. What is your best childhood memory?
I'm not particularly sentimental, but I remember sitting next to the window at a beach house, reading a book and playing games while a huge thunderstorm went on in the late afternoon.

28. Are you a cat or dog person?
Cats rule, dogs drool.

30. Always wear your seat belt?

31. Been in a car accident?
Yeah, none too serious. I wasn't driving in any of them. One, my brother was rear-ended in bad weather and got the car in front of him too; the back windshield shattered and his air conditioning broke. J's had a fender bender with me in the car, too.

32. Any pet peeves?
Don't touch my laptop while I'm using it.

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings?
Spinach, tomatoes, red peppers, onions, and garlic.

34. Favorite Flower?
Eh... Not a big fan. They die and get all over everything. (I always forget to add water)

35. Favorite ice cream?
Mmm. Lula's Sweet Apothecary, please!

36. Favorite fast food restaurant?
Chipotle (I mean, you can get it to go. That makes it count, right?).

37. How many times did you fail your driver’s test?
Not once.

38. From whom did you get your last email?
Google Calendar.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
Amazon, probably.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?
I dunno. Not lately, really.

41. Like your job?
I'm a student with classes that take up most of my time, so no job for me.

42. Broccoli?
Yes, please.

43. What was your favorite vacation?
Most of my vacations are really good. Any visit to NYC is standout, and last summer's week in Japan was amazing.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with?
J and his family.

45. What are you listening to right now?
"If I only had a brain".

46. What is your color?
Black. It goes with everything! Except brown?

47. How many tattoos do you have?

49. What time did you finish this quiz?
8:56 pm.

50. Coffee Drinker?
No, espresso and tea. It's hard, living in a dorm - no espresso for me (uh, that's not the hardest part).

Friday, November 26, 2010


A satisfying, filling vegan thanksgiving lunch for any vegans you might have with you:

I kid, I kid. That was thanksgiving lunch that I had with my cousins and family at a country club. I'm not a fan of salad. Fortunately, I had dinner later with J's family.

I left out of the gravy from this picture, but tofurky (?), sweet potatoes, green beans almondine, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole.

Later, I went back and grabbed some apple pie.

Sweet Potato Casserole

I made an extra dessert for the Thanksgiving dinner with J's family, sweet potato casserole. I used the recipe from fat free vegan. Even though this was definitely an omnivorous affair otherwise, the sweet potato casserole went over pretty well.

We grabbed Japanese sweet potatoes by mistake, which I understand to be a little drier and more subtle than normal sweet potatoes. I also learned that you can microwave sweet potatoes to cook them. Mind blown. It took about 35 minutes to get these done in the microwave, two at a time, which is at least a bit shorter than the oven.

I peeled their skins off and stuck them in a bowl with some earth balance.

No potato masher or pastry blender here, so I just went with a fork to mash them up. 

Dumped in the soy milk, orange juice, vanilla extract, sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon - no nutmeg for me, I am a hater. I added a bit extra soy milk and orange juice, since Japanese sweet potatoes are supposedly a little drier.

Stirred it all up. The result is super sweet - if Japanese sweet potatoes are less sweet, than this would really be overkill with the normal ones.

Spread it in a 2 qt dish, then get the topping ready.

Earth balance, brown sugar, flour, pecans, and maple syrup. I used a fork to cream it all together. It came out thicker than I expected, so I had to drop hunks of it on the sweet potato filling and spread it.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished casserole, but no fear - J saw my camera out and took a picture for me. Since we came to the party late, the casserole came out long after everyone else had gotten food, which is why some was left at the end. Given that everyone got to try it after they had eaten themselves silly, I'm happy that so much got eaten.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


J and I are in North Carolina to see our families for Thanksgiving. 

Pinehurst is pretty great on a lot of levels - it's not dark at 5:30, it's reasonably warm, there's Thai food...

Since we got in early, we ordered some pizzas for lunch (laziness ftw!). Diced tomatoes, onions, spinach, and roasted red peppers. I ate most of this one by myself, because I'm a glutton...

For dinner, we went to Thai Basil, a nearby Thai (and Japanese...?) restaurant. I had their green curry (hurray, curry!), which was pretty good. I didn't quite agree with the choice of veggies - not a fan of zucchini - but the curry sauce was really good, so the whole plate was decimated.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Why don't I make gravy more often? It's so good! So tasty! So delicious!

It turns out I don't have to make my whole thanksgiving dinner, because J's dad was all 'yeah! we weren't sure that there would be a lot of food for you, so we ordered you a dinner from whole foods!' They are not kitchen-minded people, so this is really, really nice of them. The whole foods dinner includes a hunk of a "tofu-turkey" (I think it's tofurky, but I didn't see a listing, and they keep saying "tofu-turkey". "tofurky?" "tofu-turkey!" ... it looks like tofurky), green beans, stuffing, and mashed sweet potatoes.

Still, there's no dessert and no gravy in there. So J and I grabbed an apple pie while we were still at Whole Foods (I really need to make my own to re-establish my credibility...), and I got together the ingredients to make mushroom gravy (PPK recipe) and sweet potato casserole (fat free vegan recipe). Since I'm the only one eating my gravy, I did a half recipe.

For some reason, I really like peeling mushrooms before I use them. I dunno. When they're brown on top, they look dirty, and they tend to feel slimier. 

First things first: wh

Left to right: vegetable broth whisked with flour, very very roughly chopped onions, mushrooms.

Saute the onions in a bit of oil for a few minutes.

Add in the mushrooms and spices, saute for a few more minutes.

I notice this the most with mushrooms, but I guess all vegetables do it - they let off so much water!

I didn't have any wine on hand (I don't drink?), so I went straight to adding the broth-and-flour.

And some nooch.

Since I didn't add wine, I added a tablespoon or so of soy sauce, then let it simmer for about 20 or 30 minutes.

I ended up having a bowl of gravy for second dinner. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just about time to go home...

I'm finally feeling about 90% (I still have a bad cough), but instead of being able to cook, I have to pack up to go to North Carolina for Thanksgiving. Not that I mind, really.

I figure, though, that if I want any Thanksgiving food, I'm probably going to have to cook it myself. Between the country club (I still love you very much, dad's side of family!) and the deep-fried turkey (I didn't know people actually did that...), the pickings are going to be mighty slim.

I'm hoping to stop at a grocery store on the way from the airport tomorrow, though, to pick up just a few things so I can have a proper - if minimalist - Thanksgiving meal.

Hoped-for Meal:
Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy (as posted on the PPK)
Roasted Broccoli or Roasted Brussels Sprouts (whichever looks better)
Some Sort of Faux Turkey (I've never had one! I need to find the tiniest...)
Sweet Potato Casserole (the one on fat free vegan looks really good)

Ingredients I would have to buy in NC:

yukon gold - 3lb
yellow onion - 1
cremini mushrooms - 16oz
broccoli/brussels sprouts
sweet potatos - 4-6
orange juice
vegetable broth
unsweetened soy/almond milk
all purpose flour
vanilla extract
brown sugar
olive oil
FAKE TURKEY!!!!one11!!1eleventy

(no nutmeg, I am a hater)

I'm willing to go without Sweet Potato Casserole, but it'd be nice to be able to have a dish to share with everyone else (and dessert, dessert is important).

As far as food today goes, I'm kinda boring. I had some soy yogurt and (way out of season) fruit from whole foods, and it was delicious? 

I never eat a lot of fresh berries, because they're so expensive - It's always frozen for me. But I figured I'd treat myself tonight, and had some berries and soy yogurt. Even though the picture's kinda ugly, it tasted wonderful (because... berries. and yogurt. win allatimes.)

Also, everyone: watch Firefly! It's like a western, but in SPACE. And with lots of nonwestern elements. It's really, really awesome. I watched four hours of it last night.

Mad Mex

One of my friends is obsessed with Atwood Street because it's "so sketchy" (He says he would be happy to live in a dumpster on Atwood). It is, by far, the sketchiest gentrified area I've ever seen - the combo of Pitt college students and liquor stores are probably the cause. 

On the other hand, I would probably also be happy to live in a dumpster on Atwood, but because of the food. SO MUCH GOOD FOOD. There's Fuel and Fuddle, not much vegan food, but they might put crack on the diner fries; Spice Island Tea House, which has really good green curry for a pretty good price; and Mad Mex, which is the Mexican restaurant I've been looking for the past three years. Just about anything on the menu can be veganified - they have tofu-based sour cream and vegan cheese - and it's so tasty.

Still, takeout from mad mex wasn't the best idea.

The bag is SO BIG. Half of it is filled with tortilla chips.

I got the Mad Mex Enchilada with tofu. The cheese was suspiciously melty, but biting into it shows (reassuringly) very unmelty cheese. The tofu hunks were a little bit big, but still really tasty. On the other hand, it was kinda soggy by the time I got to dig in.

We also got the pickadippa, with guacamole, pico de gallo, and their original salsa. They lean towards a bit spicy - even the guacamole has lots of onions and maybe some jalapeno.

Jaime got the Thai Burrito, which sounded really good, but he didn't get it with tofu. His was a bit soggy, too, by the time he got to eat.

Verdict: Mad Mex is tasty, but not for takeaway.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Still Sick

Didn't cook a thing today. Instead, I went to Chipotle (no pictures, it's chipotle) and got a free burrito (use a smart phone, check in on facebook, show it to the cashier - bogo!).

On the way back, grabbed a cupcake and cookie at dozen.

The Mostess cupcake had a cream filling on the inside... The molasses cookie was amazing. I'm not the biggest cookie person - usually they're too sweet or gooey or something, too cakey or too thin or too much - but these were just about perfect to me. A little bit hard, but so good.

Come dinner time, I didn't feel much up to cooking, and most of what I had on hand was completely unappealing to me at best. I think I probably associate some of it with getting a cold and headaches. So I decided to make a run to Whole Foods to grab some microwave dinners. 

I got an Amy's pot pie, some green smoothie/juice stuff, and an apple pie*. Jaime had pirogies, which were almost, but not quite vegan... I need to get on making those. They don't look too impossible.

The smoothie thing isn't that photogenic. The pie isn't either, but not to the same degree.

It was pretty tasty. I mean, the Almost All-American Seitan Potpie is better by a mile, but for something that I can have ready to eat in 20 minutes, it's pretty good. The tofu in the pie is a bit weird.

Afterwards, apple pie. Pretty good. I have a weakness for apple pie and ate... oh, about half.

*I was hoping to go a thanksgiving potluck tomorrow, but since I'm sick, I think that might not be the best thing to do...

Survey Saturday, Excuses Edition

I almost couldn't find a survey for this survey Saturday, but never fear, I pulled through and found one on veganville. (no one likes my survey saturdays, though...)

I missed a MoFo because...
1. A firebear* swallowed my recipe.
2. I spilled my green smoothie on my computer and the keys jammed.
3. I had almost 6 hours of classes, two exams, and a programming assignment.
4. I had a berry, berry bad cold that alternately made my head stuff up and then made it run like a faucet.
5. My teese spent the night in West Virginia.
6. I was completely and totally sober and unwilling to embarrass myself**.
7. I pigged out on tings, fritos, and sprite for dinner and didn't want to blog about it.
8. I made an awesome meal and i totally forgot to take pictures.
9. I had a rough time with a pastry blender.
10. I looked at the stats for my blog and each day, I get fewer pageviews than the last... 

*Firebears! They eat buggy drivers. (That documentary is mostly about the buggy org I'm in, CIA)
** CS Majors. They don't drink or go to parties.

Friday, November 19, 2010


So in all my fuss about J being sick, I ended up getting sick as well*...

One of the great side effects of that is that I can't taste much right now. I tried to take some medicines this morning, and thought, "I'm sick, so I'll treat myself with pumpkin spice soymilk**!" So I take a sip and nearly spat it out. Tasted like cleaning fluids (not that I've had those to drink...).

So nothing in my fridge right now is the least bit appetizing for eating. I decided to go with my standard sick-day procedure: spicy food, and lots of it. That meant ordering thai from Spice Island Tea House (the best bang for the buck in the area... Silk Elephant and Bangkok Balcony are better, but they're also twice as expensive).

Instead of my normal, I accidentally ordered red curry***, which had fried tofu, eggplants, potatoes, and green beans. Normally, I get green curry, which has instead fried tofu, cauliflower, broccoli, and green beans. I don't mind changing it up every now and then, especially when I have a hard time tasting the difference (in my current state, all I can taste is spicy and not spicy). I don't know that I would want to get this normally; I don't think it was as good as the green curry, but that's just my hate for eggplant talking.

I kinda feel bad, because this weekend is shaping up to be blah in the cooking department, and next week definitely will, since I'll be out of town from Wednesday until Sunday. I might do some sort of baked goods tomorrow (like cinnamon rolls for dinner..?), and depending on how I feel Sunday, maybe actual food. If anyone has suggestions for what still tastes good with a cold, I'd love to hear it.

*My bad. I'm bad at basic ways of not getting sick, like not drinking or eating after sick people.
**At any other time, I am all over that stuff.
***I spent a couple minutes freaking out when I opened up the food, because I mistook the eggplant for meat.

Chickpea Cutlets

Meant to put this up last night, but I fell asleep while studying*.

I bought my copy of Veganomicon almost 2 years ago, a month or two after it came out. I can't believe it took 22 months for me to finally make the chickpea cutlets. I decided to make up for it by quadrupling the recipe.

I decided to use the food processor to deal with my chickpeas, since all the beans I've cooked lately have been on the hard side. 

Protip: Don't use frozen beans. Defrosted ones will get beat up faster. About a third or so of the beans were still frozen solid, so they were in bigger chunks. 

I whirred them around for about 20-30 seconds. I think that's a bit slow, but on the other hand, it's a tiny machine, I overfilled it, and they were really hard.

After two batches of beans, I dumped them all in a bowl.

I added all the other ingredients: vital wheat gluten, bread crumbs, paprika, thyme, basil, soy sauce, vegetable broth (I tried to whisk in a bouillon... it was semi-effective). Then I stirred everything together and hauled it downstairs.

Down there, I kneaded the dough a bit, then separated it into two halves, which were further separated. Pictured above are two quarters of the dough.

Further separated them into eighths. The bigger chickpeas that fell off were from the frozen batch.

Then the eighths into sixteenths, which I smooshed down to form cutlet-shapes.

I put them on a baking sheet, stuck them in the oven, flipped them at 20 minutes, and took them out at 30.

They reminded me of chicken fingers (mystery chicken meat! oh, the things we do in childhood), so I ate them with ketchup. I might pretty them up tonight if I feel like it with some sort of sauce or something, but I'm not sure I'm going to be up to it.

*Before I got to that part, really...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

I was going to make chickpea cutlets tonight, to celebrate the new food processor. But J is sick, so I decided to cook something for him so maybe he might feel a bit better. I had ordered some teese over the weekend so I could try it, and it was supposed to get here today, so he asked for tomato soup and grilled cheese (even though he's not vegan at all, he was excited to try a new vegan cheese). Sadly, the teese didn't come in today*, but I still made some grilled daiya sandwiches and soup.

Ingredients for tonight's dinner: tomato soup, grilled cheese, and roasted broccoli.

Ingredients for the tomato soup. I loosely followed a food network recipe (I've never made normal tomato soup before, okay?), but I deviated heavily.

1/2 cup olive oil (though it wouldn't hurt to reduce this to a couple of tablespoons)
1 onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots
2-3 stalks of celery
28oz canned tomatoes
1 ts basil
2 bay leaves
2 tb earth balance
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup nondairy cream
16 oz white beans

Heat up the oil, then dump all the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in it. Saute for about 10 minutes.

At the end of ten minutes, dump in the tomatoes, earth balance, basil, bay leaves, and vegetable stock.

Stir it all up, let it simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes. 

Puree it, either with an immersion blender, a normal blender (be careful with the steam! cover the top with a towel and take out the center plug of the top if it has one), or puree the solids in a food processor, like me. The blender or immersion blender would probably do a better job getting it silky-smooth, but this worked well enough.

It was a bit redder in person. Still, I might add some tomato paste if I make it again, or leave out the cream.

While the soup was simmer, I made some grilled cheese sandwiches. Two pieces of bread, daiya on one slice, butter the outside.

No oil or anything in the pan. Just heat it until the cheese makes the sides stick together, then flip it. Make sure the butter the top side! (I forgot... twice in a row). 

I also roasted a bit of broccoli. Take a head or two of broccoli, cut it up, toss it with some oil and salt, bake at 425 or 450 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

Overall, pretty good. I'd puree it a bit more next time, but I liked it. (also, grilled cheese! oh man, I haven't had that stuff in years! SO GOOD). J liked it, too, and made a point to eat all of the soup before he had to go.

*That's bad, because I didn't order an ice pack with it. Hopefully it's really cold wherever my teese is.