Archive for March, 2010

Kale Chips, Vegan Kitchen

Posted in Being Green, Food and Recipes on March 29th, 2010 by Lacey – 3 Comments

Kale about to be oven-baked where it will turn crispy and you will forget it ever started as kale.

Since I started cooking more seriously last fall (I should say, since I started cooking last fall, period), I’ve discovered there are several things I’d consider staples to our vegan food stash. Here’s a partial list of things I keep on hand at all times. But before you read that, first admire this tray of innocent kale, about to be baked into a delicious treat known as kale chips. Now I know you know that I have lost my mind but I swear–THIS IS SO GOOD. There are so many recipes out there, but here’s your crash course recipe: preheat oven to 400. Take a bunch of organic kale, wash it, cut off the ends, and tear into bite size pieces (as you see here). Toss to coat (lightly!) with 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil.  Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and lay the kale on the parchment (if you don’t have parchment, don’t sweat it). Bake for approx 10 min until it’s papery-sounding when you poke at it. Remove from oven. Enjoy!

Now, the list of things you can’t live without!

Proteins:

  • organic tofu
  • tempeh
  • variety of canned beans (garbanzo, black, white, etc)

Grains/pseudo-grains:

  • quinoa
  • brown or red rice
  • all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour (and also all the other usual baking stuff–baking soda, powder, organic sugar, vanilla, etc)
  • smattering of other stuff–flax, barley, amaranth, millet, whatever you’re in the mood for trying

Produce:

  • some variety of dark leafy green (swiss chard is my favorite right now, but kale and spinach are also usually in there, or you could try mustard or collard greens)
  • onions-red and white
  • small or medium organic potatoes
  • fresh broccoli
  • frozen corn, okra, green peas, snow peas, and organic edamame (for soup)
  • frozen stir fry veggies
  • 28oz can of cooked, diced tomatoes (for soup)
  • one or two varieties of whole fruits such as oranges, bananas, organic apples, or plums

Misc:

  • nutritional yeast
  • olive oil
  • powdered vegetarian boullion (yes, I know it has tons of salt, but it’s good for so many things)
  • Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • Veganaise
  • various seeds such as pepitas

Myk and I are going to try to start buying our produce at farmer’s markets on the weekends here in Houston. We really are in one of the few places in the country that has a year-round growing season, so we are going to try to take better advantage of that.

A note on cooking: I’ve been cooking a lot from Vegan Brunch lately, but I will also cook pretty much anything from Veganomicon. I find their scones and muffins especially worthwhile in that book (my personal favorites are the lower-fat banana bread and the pumpkin cranberry scones), but everything I’ve tried has been pretty good.  I also hope some magical elf will leave me How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman someday–I’ve immensely enjoyed learning about food in How to Cook Everything, so I think it’s vegetarian counterpart will be awesome.

Now all I need is a bigger kitchen!

Notes from SXSWi

Posted in Being Green on March 28th, 2010 by Lacey – Comments Off

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending SXSWi for my day job (as an interaction designer). I can’t decide if it was good or bad fortune, but the conference grew 40% in attendance this year over last year, so it was quite a different experience than what I’ve had in the past (I’ve attended since 2008).  One good-turned-bad thing that happened was that I wasn’t able to attend as many tech-related sessions due to them being completely with crowds spilling out the doors, but this gave me the opportunity to attend some “greener” sessions held at the same time.

Austin really is the perfect place for this conference, what with all the greenery, the bicyclers everywhere, the healthy eating, and the Whole Foods flagship store (my favorite!).  People had some GREAT eco-geeky ideas, mostly benefitting society as a whole.

Charging Station This is a Sol Design Lab charging station, one of several set up around Austin for the crowds of SXSW.  The founder explained that the project is a result of her MFA program. The panels are solar and the charging stations are repurposed retro gasoline pumps. Quite the fitting (and dignified) tribute to Texas oil, if you ask me.

I also learned about leading a zero-waste lifestyle (which would involve a lot of sacrifice to me, so I’m trying to find something that’s more sustainable) and about dozens of awesome start-ups (such as Recycle Match) designed to help people and the environment.  Mostly, things designed around recycling, upcycling, and connecting people who need things (whether they realize it or not).  I was pretty excited to see the VP of marketing for Patagonia among the attendees, but there were really some stellar ideas floating around and I was humbled by all the ingenuity.

Cheezy Quinoa Casserole

Posted in Food and Recipes on March 10th, 2010 by Lacey – 3 Comments

The casserole, pre-cheeze

Whenever I describe vegan cooking or baking to others, it sounds disgusting. All the things that are actually delicious to me just sound gross. The wost offender, of course, is nutritional yeast. Even it’s nickname, “nooch,” isn’t much better.  What’s also amusing to me is that people seem to think vegan cooking/baking is “healthier” somehow. It won’t save you any calories, but it certainly is a healthier way to live, long term.  This recipe is definitely not health food.  You have been warned.

That being said, I’m going to just forge ahead with this recipe in hopes that you will look past all the weird things it’s asking you to do, make, and eat, and just enjoy the fact that it’s pure, delicious, and will make your tummy happy.

Cheezy Quinoa Casserole

You will need:

  • 1cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups parboiled broccoli
  • 1 cup sauteed mushrooms (or canned, if you’re lazy…no shame)
  • 1 package extra firm organic tofu
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (optional)
  • 1 batch of the cheeze sauce from VeganYumYum (holla! Great recipe if you ever want mac and cheeze. Which I do. Frequently.)

Preheat your oven to 350F and spray a medium-sized casserole dish (or souffle dish). If you don’t have spray, don’t sweat it–just lightly grease with olive oil. Or, if you don’t want to do that, it’s not the end of the world. Just have a dish ready.

Bust out the rice cooker and put your quinoa in there with 1 1/4c of water. Alternately, put 2 cups of water and your quinoa on the stove and boil, covered, until the little white circle forms around your quinoa. If the white rings don’t form throughout the quinoa and you run out of water, just add a bit more. In my experience, it’s much harder to overcook quinoa than rice. Also–about quinoa–I really like Alter Eco red quinoa more than the white kind. It’s really full-flavored and delicious…and ethical! Also, because of the color, it’s easier to see when it’s done because those white rings pop right out.

Next, prep your cheeze sauce. VeganYumYum does a pretty good job of walking you through all the steps. Obviously, just make the sauce and omit the mac part.  I’d like to mention that my daughter is allergic to sesame seeds, so I replaced the tahini with almond butter and it worked very well. I’m sure I’m missing some of that great nutty tahini taste, but it’s better than a trip to the hospital and the epi-pen, right?!

Next, prep your tofu. Now, I have discovered the secret to having fun while cooking tofu and/or tempeh. The secret, friends, is an iron skillet (side note: my friend Cinnamon just wrote a cookbook praising the iron skillet–hooray Cinnamon!). It’s darn fun to cook on one of these things because you don’t worry about scraping it, burning it, or denting it otherwise. It’s just a straight-up, honest to goodness cooking tool. Use it. Love it. Here’s how I cook my tofu, and it’s based on a beloved favorite restaurant from college, The Grit in Athens, GA. First, drain the tofu and shake off the excess water. Slice the tofu into either cubes or triangles (I am a fan of the triangles because it’s so cute to hear my toddler identify them). Then, take 2tbsp of olive oil and heat it on med-high in your skillet. Once it’s hot, place your tofu in the pan. Turn the tofu periodically using a metal spatula and let it get a lovely yellow color on every surface. You may need to add a little bit (maybe another tbsp) more oil during this process. If you’d like, you can also add the optional splash (or squirt/spray, as the case may be) of Bragg’s in there at this time. Take the tofu out of the pan once golden, wipe out your skillet (carefully, iron skillets stay really hot for a while) with a paper towel. At this point, you can roll your tofu in some nutritional yeast to cover it. Heat your skillet again, place 2tbsp of oil in there, and repeat what you just did. Your tofu should be nice and brown and not nearly as wet as when you started. My mouth is watering just writing about this.

Next, parboil your broccoli. It will only take a couple of minutes, and you basically just want to make the broccoli bright green and barely soft. I put about 1/2″ of water in the bottom of a pot with a lid, boil it, put the broccoli in, wait a couple of minutes, and then it’s done.  Also at this point, you can sautee your mushrooms until they exude a juice, remove from heat. Or, open the can of mushrooms and drain.

Now comes the fun part: LAYERING. Take your beautiful red white-ringed quinoa and layer it on the bottom of the casserole dish. Then, take your broccoli and mushrooms–layer those next. Then, the tofu layer. Then, take your cheezy sauce and carefully pour it over the top of the whole concoction. It’ll seep down in between all the delicious bites of tofu and broccoli and will touch the top of the quinoa. YUM. O.

Bake at 350F for 25 min until it’s bubbley and the cheezy sauce it slightly browner than it was before. Remove from oven, allow to cool, and serve.

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