Sunday, January 30, 2011

Forty-seven Ronin Bagels

The 47 ronin avenged the death of their daimyo, Asano Naganori, by killing Kira Yoshinaka 308 years ago. If you're not familiar with the story, check it out on Wikipedia. So much ritual suicide! All's well that ends well, including the story of my failed dough. I'm still surprised and delighted that cooking method #3 transformed the dough into something edible and appetizing: sesame seed bagels.

I referenced this recipe for the boiling and baking times, and next time I make bagels intentionally I'll probably use the whole recipe.

makes 3 


1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Cut dough into thirds. Roll into a ball, punch a hole in the center with your thumb, and knead into an appealing shape.
3. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop a bagel in and boil for a minute. Flip and boil for another minute.
4. Sprinkle top of bagel with white and black sesame seeds. Place the bagels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 min., then flip and bake for another 10 min.

I'm itching to make cream cheez, but I couldn't neglect the leftover patties and dip.

Kansas Red Kidney Bean Patty Open Sandwich with Green Spread

That title's a mouthful, and so is this recipe! Hahaha ugh. This one's named for the 150th anniversary of Kansas' admission as the 34th state. It makes use of the failed bread recipe from yesterday, which I thought I'd be able to fry like chapati bread. I was wrong. Since the dough is sort of sticky it made a mess in the pan. So I rolled it up again, flattened it out, and baked it. Bam. Kinda weird, but whatever. I think tomorrow I'll venture a third attempt at recuperating all that flour by boiling the dough. Bagels?

One thing to note is that I meant to use only 1/4 cup of water in the patties but wasn't paying attention to the measuring cups and used 1/3. There seems to be a new trend in my cooking of failure to properly mind water.

makes approx. 4-5 servings

1 15.5-oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. vital wheat gluten
1/3 c. water
2 Tbsp. shoyu soy sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. tarragon
1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. paprika

1. Fry the onion in a pan with some oil over medium heat. When translucent, add garlic for a minute or two. Remove from heat.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Mash the kidney beans in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon or other blunt instrument. Add everything else, mix together, and knead with your hands until it holds together in a dough. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, form the dough into patties, and stick those suckers in the oven. After 15 min., flip them and flatten them out if need be, then bake for another 15 min.

1/2 c. cashews
1/2 c. water
1 red bell pepper
1 avocado, skinned
1 jalapeno, chopped and partially seeded
1 Tbsp. sunflower oil
2 Tbsp. tahini
1 handful cilantro
1/3 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
ground black pepper, to taste

1. Soak the cashews in water for several hours.
2. Roast the bell pepper over your gas burner. If you've got electric you're out of luck. I held the pepper by the stem, removed the grate (or whatever it's called), and cranked the burner to Hi. Wait for the skin to sizzle and blacken. Once it's crispy, place the pepper in a bowl and cover (e.g., with a dish towel).
3. Puree the cashews and water in a blender. Add remaining ingredients except bell pepper. Puree.
4. Seed the bell pepper. It's turn has come, so jam it into the bottom of the blender and press the button.

1 failed recipe of yeast bread

1. Attempt to fry in a pan over high heat. Remove from heat, knead, and form into a patty.
2. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

This is one of the only meals I've eaten with a fork and knife since going vegan. Maybe it's because I like to cut things up pretty well before cooking them, but a knife is only really essential when you're trying to slice through flesh.

I recently bought a book from Friends of Animals by Lee Hall, On Their Own Terms. According to some guy on the back cover, "In this fascinating and illuminating book, Lee Hall calls [...] upon us to seek and celebrate a world where fish can swim, free in clean water, and bees and birds can fly in peace. And it offers a plan to make it happen." Can't wait!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Data Privacy Bread

This bread was a failure, so I figured I'd name it after today's holiday, Data Privacy Day. Baking bread should be pretty straightforward, but I managed to screw up my first attempt at yeast bread. My guess is I wasn't paying attention to the temperature of the water and shocked the poor yeast with a cool drink when what they wanted was something warm. I made the preparatory error of deciding to veganize this honey-heavy recipe instead of just trying to remember what my dad does. I subbed brown rice syrup for the honey, but even that wasn't enough to revive the yeast.

I'm not posting a recipe, because I wouldn't want to lead anyone astray. I went through with the whole rising, kneading, rising, punching, rising, molding, baking process. Only there was no rising on the part of the dough. It baked nonetheless, and I had a quick pre-work meal of the above ultra-dense loaf with olive oil. It was essentially a roll fashioned out of flatbread dough. Tomorrow I think I'll make flatbread with the remaining dough (there's a lot of it) and cook some bean patties and red pepper dip and have myself a sandwich.

Published a twitter-fiction piece on Nanoism.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mike Patton Eggplant and Potato Curry

I didn't post anything yesterday because me and the roommates went out to a pan-Asian place to "celebrate" the first day of classes. It wasn't too vegan-friendly, so the less said the better. Turns out January 27 commemorates some horrible events. Luckily, today is also Mike Patton's birthday, so this curry is in his honor. He was/is the vocalist for like 8 million influential bands. Haven't really listened to his work since high school, but still got respect. Check out his band Fantômas.

I acknowledged in an earlier post that I'm not too good at making one-pot meals. Why don't I listen to myself? This came out fine, but all of the durations and some of the measurements are approximations based on little more than hunch. And I still haven't figured out how to make thick curry.

1 c. rice
1 medium red onion, diced
1/2 small bulb garlic, pressed
1 large eggplant, sliced into French fry-esque strips
1 small eggplant, similarly sliced
1 1/2 lb. red potatoes, quartered
3 1/2 c. water
1 14-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 13.5-oz. can light coconut milk
1 small jalapeno, chopped
2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne (90K Scoville)
1/4 c. cilantro

1. Cook rice.
2. Fry the onion with oil in the bottom of a large stock pot. When translucent, add garlic. After a minute, add the eggplant and potato as you finish cutting. I actually added the small eggplant halfway through cooking because I panicked that the ratio was all wrong. You should probably not follow that example.
3. Add 2 c. water, cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cook for something like 10-15 minutes.
4. Lower heat to medium-low. Add seasoning, optionally reserve half the cilantro for garnish. If it needs more water, use up to 1 1/2 c. Put the lid on leaving space for the steam to escape. Cook for 30-45 minutes, or until the eggplant is squishy and the potatoes are soft.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shays' Rebellion Almond Porridge

Named after the Shaysites' failed attempt to take control of Springfield Armory in 1787. The Founding Fathers weren't so great if they thought debtors' prisoners were a good idea and that their property was more valuable than the lives of poor farmers.

This recipe makes use of the almond pulp byproduct of the almond milk recipe.

makes 1 serving

1/4 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. almond pulp
3/4 c. water
6 shakes cinnamon
1 handful jumbo black raisins
1/2 banana, sliced
1/2 spoonful brown rice syrup

1. Bring oats, almond pulp, and water to a boil in a small pot. Lower the heat and cook for several minutes, until the oats are tender and the porridge is your desired consistency.
2. Shake cinnamon into a bowl. Add raisins and banana slices. Pour the porridge on top, then combine with brown rice syrup.

From Bob Black's The Abolition of Work:

"Sahlins concluded that 'hunters and gatherers work less than we do; and rather than a continuous travail, the food quest is intermittent, leisure abundant, and there is a greater amount of sleep in the daytime per capita per year than in any other condition of society.' They worked an average of four hours a day, assuming they were 'working' at all. Their 'labor,' as it appears to us, was skilled labor which exercised their physical and intellectual capacities; unskilled labor on any large scale, as Sahlins says, is impossible except under industrialism. Thus it satisfied Friedrich Schiller's definition of play, the only occasion on which man [sic] realizes his complete humanity by giving full 'play' to both sides of his twofold nature, thinking and feeling. As he put it: 'The animal works when deprivation is the mainspring of its activity, and it plays when the fullness of its strength is this mainspring, when superabundant life is its own stimulus to activity.'

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vera Zasulich Tofu Scramble Fried Noodles

Maybe I should work on my presentation. Poor arrangement, good flavor. I didn't go to the grocery store today because I worked 7:30am-4pm and it was below 10F. Not good traveling weather. So there's no onion in this dish, although you should use some if you've got it! Also, I intended to use coriander rather than cardamom but I mislabeled my baggies and wasn't paying attention. Turns out cardamom and yeast flakes complement each other.

This one's named after the 133rd anniversary of Vera Zasulich's shooting of then-Governor of St. Petersburg, Fyodor Trepov. I just read about this in Kropotkin's memoirs! Zasulich won the trial and moved to Switzerland a popular hero. Someone else who's a hero is Isa, whose tofu scramble recipe inspired my method.

makes approx. 3 servings

1 lb. tofu
1 large stalk broccoli, diced, with florets
1 handful shiitake mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
shoyu soy sauce
1/3 package rice bran Pad Thai fettuccine
1 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
ground black pepper
1/4 c. yeast flakes
2 Tbsp. sesame oil

1. Cook the noodles according to package directions.
2. Fry broccoli in a pan with some oil over medium-high heat. Mince garlic, then toss it in with broccoli. After a minute, crumble tofu. Slice mushrooms and add to pan. Splash some soy sauce on top. If using a metal pan, scrape the bottom with a spatula.
3. Mix the seasoning in a small container with a little bit of water. Once the noodles are done, add all remaining ingredients and cook over medium until things are warm and sticky.

From Hyun Höchsmann's and Yang Guorong's introduction to the Zhuangzi:

"The cook works with his spirit and not with his eyes. Following the natural forms, he lets the knife slide through the large crevices and follows the big cavities. After nineteen years the edge of his knife is as sharp as if it had just come from the whetstone."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ming Dynasty Black Beans and Quinoa

After the labor-intensive seitan stir fry of two nights ago, I wanted to make something simple tonight. I don't have a lot of vegetables right now because the cold weather kept me from biking to the farmers market yesterday. But this meal hit the spot, plain and delicious. Named after Zhu Yuanzhang's ascension to the throne of China as the Hongwu Emperor, which occurred exactly 643 years ago.

If you're impatient like me you'll forget to soak the black beans, then you'll turn up the heat to cook them faster and end up splitting the skins. I'd make 1 1/2 cups of beans, because as it is the ratio's off in the direction of quinoa. Also, you probably don't need to use as much liquid to simmer the beans as I did.

makes approx. 2 servings

1 c. black beans
3 c. leftover seitan broth
3 c. water
1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
1 avocado
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt
hot sauce
olive oil

1. Bring the black beans to a boil in the broth/water mixture. Simmer until done, which in my case was approx. 2 hours but should be more like 90 minutes if you've soaked (right?).
2. Bring the quinoa to a boil, then simmer until fluffy, which only takes 15 minutes. Mix in cumin and chili powder, cover until ready to serve.
3. Mash the avocado with the salt to make guacamole. If you have lemon juice and tomato you should add that.
4. Serve black beans over quinoa and top with guacamole. Drizzle hot sauce and olive oil over the whole shebang.

From a text which first inspired me 5 or 6 years ago, David Hinton's introduction to the Tao Te Ching:

"Only in the human realm is the Integrity of wu-wei [doing nothing; nothing doing; enacting nonbeing] problematic. Here we encounter the sense of exile that drives much of Lao Tzu's thought, that rupture dividing human being and natural process. While Western civilization set out headlong into the barrens of that exile, China returned and stayed close to its lost homeland, cultivating the rich borderlands."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This & Blumethal Chocolate Mousse

I don't think I need to make a joke about what this looks like. It's actually chocolate mousse, as conceived by Hervé This and Heston Blumenthal. My right forearm and hand were killing me after this, I think because I used some fair trade African chocolate which was only 55% cocoa solids rather than 70-80%. But the work was worth it, because this is delectable stuff. 

makes approx. 3 servings 

6 oz. chocolate chips
<2/3 c. water
1 Tbsp. light brown sugar

1. Melt the chocolate in the water with the sugar over the stove.
2. Pour the melted chocolate into a bowl which rests in a larger bowl full of cold water.
3. Whisk until your arm falls off. Or until the chocolate thickens. You want it to get fluffy but if you whisk past the point of no return the mousse gets grainy. It's not really a point of no return, though, because you can always melt it again and start over.

Friday, January 21, 2011

National Hug Day Stir Fry

Apparently it's National Hug Day here in the US, and I haven't received a hug yet. On top of that, this meal was overambitious and overly salty. It was my first attempt at making seitan, and for the first time ever Isa let me down. Or rather, I let Isa down, seeing as she's made the recipe "foolproof." I must be the fool to beat them all.

Too much soy sauce, that was my problem. I don't know why I thought this dish needed a mushroom soy gravy. Here's the recipe if you want to improve it.

makes approx. 3 servings

1 lb. seitan (using Isa's above-linked recipe)
1/3 pack of rice bran Pad Thai fettuccine
1 large stalk broccoli, diced, and florets
2 handfuls shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
2 serrano chilies, chopped
1 large red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 c. shoyu soy sauce
2 c. water
2 Tbsp. oat flour
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. cumin
red pepper flakes

1. Prepare seitan. I don't know what I did wrong, but mine didn't hold together too well, and even after 45 minutes of simmering and 10-15 in the pan, it was soft. Not too different from the baked stale bread I used in a curry a while ago.
2. Cook 1/3 of the diced onion in a small pot over medium heat for several minutes. Add 2 cloves pressed garlic for a minute, then add water and oat flour. Once the oat flour is dissolved, add the soy sauce and one serrano pepper, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer until the rest of the meal is prepared.
3. Cook the remaining onion in a large pan over medium heat. Add 2 cloves pressed garlic, then the broccoli and serrano pepper. After several minutes, add in 2/3 lb. seitan. Raise heat enough to char the bottom of the broccoli and seitan, scraping the pan with a spatula occasionally. Add in the cumin and red pepper flakes along with a little bit of water to coat.
4. Boil the noodles in the seitan broth or water. (I did the former, which was frugal but probably contributed to the overpowering soy flavor).
5. Serve stir fry over noodles with gravy.

I watched the final episode of the Nickelodeon cartoon, Avatar: The Last Airbender, this afternoon before making dinner. I feel no embarrassment at an aching compulsion to watch all three seasons again, because it's escapism born of living a representation of political empowerment. It's a kids' show, it's full of hope and goodness and justice. Happiness is the hardest thing in this world for someone who abhors injustice, which in so many places goes by the name "necessity" and is reproduced by so many people whose dearest vices are cynicism and complacency. How many centuries ago did we sacrifice balance in this world.

In other words, where's my hug?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Almond Milk

Almond milk is unfortunately not as delicious as raw almonds, but it's still good with cereal or baked into desserts. The recipe for this is the same as the one I posted for cashew milk. Which is to say 1 c. almonds, soaked in water for at least 8 hours, plus 4 c. water, blended and strained. Almonds make slightly less milk than cashews because they're harder to grind down, as you can see in the following picture.

What to do with this leftover junk? One option is to bake it into cookies. I make some pretty mean chocolate chip ones with this almond pulp. Alternatively, you can make it into a porridge for breakfast by adding some almond milk, cinnamon, raisins, and brown sugar or maple syrup.

Four million animals have been buried alive in South Korea as a horrible alternative to vaccination against foot and mouth disease and avian flu. The least you can do in response to something so unspeakably atrocious is to email the Minister of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as the American Embassy to Korea.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Y2K38 Red Lentil Stew Over Rice

This stew is named after a potential computer problem à la Y2K. I guess exactly 27 years from now everything is going to hell (again). You can read about that on Wikipedia. This stew was not a disaster, however. It's not super flavorful, so it's better served less than piping hot. I anticipate it'll be better reheated.

Next time I make something like this I'm going to up the herbs and spices, either increase the amount of lentils or decrease the amount of tomatoes, and cook the lentils separately. One-pot meals are not my specialty. I'm going to be eating these leftovers FOREVER!

makes approx. 5-6 servings

1 c. rice
1 c. red lentils
28 oz. can fire roasted crush tomatoes
4 large stalks and leaves green chard, chopped
1 medium red onion, diced
1 small bulb garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
28 oz. water
2 dried red chilies, chopped
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. whole Tellicherry peppercorns
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Cook the rice.
2. Over medium heat, cook the onion in some oil in a large soup pot. When translucent, add the garlic. After a minute or so, add the chard stems. Let cook for a few minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, lentils, vinegar, and 14 oz. water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Add the remaining water, chard leaves, and seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

I might have had something to do with this zine, Total Liberation #2.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tropical Almond Smoothie

I had leftover soup for dinner tonight because for lunch I made grilled pb&j sandwiches with some stale bread I've got hanging around. But I also have frozen fruit in the freezer, so I figured I'd make a smoothie for dessert/snack.

This is essentially almond milk plus frozen fruit, but I decided to blend the mylk immediately prior to adding the fruit. I.e., I didn't filter the almond pieces out. I thought that would make it thicker, which it did, but it also made it grainy. If you've got time to make proper almond milk beforehand that's probably a better method.

makes approx. 2 servings

1/2 c. almonds
2 1/4 c. water
10 oz. frozen fruit (tropical blend)
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1. Soak almonds in 1/2 c. water for somewhere in the area of 8 hours (or overnight). Liquefy with additional 1 1/2 c. water in blender. Optionally, strain and pour back into blender.
2. Add frozen fruit and maple syrup. Grind or liquefy in blender until smooth.

In unrelated news, Tiny Mix Tapes published my review of the film Petition today.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bonanza Curry Soup

I came up with this recipe while on the bus back from NYC. It was a Bonanza bus, hence the name. My memory of what was in my kitchen was accurate except that there turned out not to be a can of corn. Oh well.

I might suggest using a little less curry powder than I did, but I'm keeping the recipe as is to reflect what I actually ate for dinner. Discretion is always advised when taking my culinary advice.

makes approx. 3-4 servings

1/2 acorn squash
1/2 c. cashews
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. tofu, cubed
1 1/2 c. edamame, shelled
1 c. broth
2 c. water
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp. chile powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 sun-dried tomatoes, julienned (sort of)
Earth Balance

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Fill the center of half an acorn squash with cashews. Bake for 10 minutes.
2. Heat a pad of Earth Balance margarine with some canola oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook the onion until translucent, then add the garlic and tofu. Let the tofu brown on the bottom, then scrape with a spatula.
3. Remove the squash from the oven. Empty the cashews into a blender. Cut off the rind of the squash and slice into chunks. Place in the blender along with broth and water. Puree until relatively smooth.
4. Add the edamame to the soup pot and cook for a few minutes. Pour the pureed cashews and squash into the pot, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
5. Add the seasoning and let the soup cook for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with sun-dried tomatoes.

"I don't think of love as — in this context — as emotion bosh. I don't think of it as a weak force, but I think of love as something strong, and that organizes itself into powerful direct action."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, January 14, 2011

NYC and Kropotkin

I had leftover lentil patties for dinner tonight, so no recipe. Also, I'm going to NYC for the weekend to visit a high school friend, so I won't have anything new until probably Tuesday.

Instead of food, I'll leave you this incredible passage from Peter Kropotkin's Memoirs of a Revolutionist (New York: Dover, 1971): 

"After a hurriedly eaten dinner we hastened to the great hall, to which the younger housemaids soon repaired. All sorts of games were started, — blind man, vulture and chickens, and so on; and then, all of a sudden, Tíkhon, the Jack-of-all-trades, would appear with a violin. Dancing began; not that measured and tiresome dancing, under the direction of a French dancing-master "on india-rubber legs," which made part of our education, but free dancing which was not a lesson, and in which a score of couples turned round any way; and this was only preparatory to the still more animated and rather wild Cossack dance. Tíkhon would then hand the violin to one of the older men, and would begin to perform with his legs such wonderful feats that the doors leading to the hall would soon be filled by the cooks and even the coachmen, who came to see the dance so dear to the Russian heart."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Green Lentil Patties with Spicy Green Spread

I didn't actually end up eating both of these. I went overboard with the spread so I was pretty full. If you anticipate liking the spread, consider increasing the recipe by 50-100%; I'm not sure I'll have enough to cover all the patties I made.

These were damn good, but next time I might cut down on the breadcrumbs a tad and substitute some wheat gluten. If you have a food processor (I don't), there's nothing to worry about. Also, I'm running low on spices so instead of using cumin and thyme or something I used garam masala, paprika, and coriander. Worked fine. The recipe for the patties is adapted from Isa's Olive Lentil Burgers.

makes 4-6 patties

3/4 c. green lentils, uncooked
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 handfuls shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced
1 c. breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. coriander
ground black pepper

1. Cook lentils. Drain and set aside.
2. Fry the onions in a pan for a few minutes. Add the garlic, then a minute later throw in the mushrooms. Cook for another several minutes, then set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the lentils, contents of the pan, and everything else besides 1/2 c. of the breadcrumbs. Mash for a few minutes until the mixture begins to coalesce.
5. Add in the remaining breadcrumbs (or wheat gluten if you're trying that) and knead until a dough forms.
6. Apportion the dough into between 4 and 6 patties, depending on how fat you want them.
7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the patties on it. Bake for 12-15 minutes, then flip and bake on the other side for approximately the same amount of time.

2 c. shelled edamame
1 jalapeno, chopped
6 sun-dried red tomatoes
1/3 c. pine nuts
4 Tbsp. oil
3/4 c. water
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/4 tsp. lemon zest

1. Cook the edamame in a pan over medium heat for a couple minutes. Add the jalapeno, and after another couple minutes add the pine nuts. Pine nuts burn easily, but they shouldn't be too bad in there with other things. Cook until you can smell the pine nuts or until you catch a sight of some browning. Remove from the heat.
2. Place the sun-dried tomatoes, water, oil, and contents of pan in a blender. (Secret: I used 1 Tbsp. peanut oil. Magic.) Puree until relatively consistent.

Done! There is one major cost, though...

For those who read to the end, here's a special treat. I figure I'll start posting cool non-food links. I had never heard of Charles Cohen, Jeff Cain, or this album until the other day, but it has got to be one of the coolest things from 1981. I wasn't even alive!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cashew Milk

I had leftovers for dinner tonight so I figured I'd post a recipe for cashew milk. It's super creamy. This recipe works for making any sort of nut milk, but cashew is my favorite and as far I know not commercially available. Substitute almonds or hazelnuts if you'd prefer.

1 c. cashews
4 c. water

1. Soak the cashews in 1 c. of water for several hours. Today I left them for eight. You want it to be long enough that they blend well. Overnight's fine.
2. Pour soaked nuts and water into a blender and add the remaining 3 c. water. Puree for a minute or so, then flip up to grind, and finally crank into liquefy. I move up to a higher setting when the noise of the blender becomes regular, because at that point the nut pieces are of uniform size. Pulse a few times for good measure.
3. Set up some mason jars. Either cover the opening with cheesecloth or place a mesh strainer in a funnel. Pour the milk through the filter into the jars.
4. If you've soaked and blended well, there will be almost no cashew paste at the end. This is bittersweet, because pulverized cashew paste is tasty. Almonds don't blend as well so when I make almond milk I usually have a big bowlful of pulp left over that I make into porridge or bake into cookies.

Here's the sort of strainer I use.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Macaroni and Cheeze and Pea Greens with Baked Sweet Potatoes and Acorn Squash

I know, my spelling of "cheeze" is horrible and offensive, but I feel that it needs an idiosyncratic spelling to make it obvious that no dairy is involved, even though this is a vegan space. I'll use "mylk" if I'm not qualifying "milk," too, but if I'm saying "almond milk" or "cashew milk" then I'll go ahead and use the standard spelling. But "nondairy cheese" is a mouthful, so "cheeze" it is.

I got a big box of pea greens from the farmers market last weekend. The box makes all kinds of promising claims about the wonderful micronutrients in pea greens. Whatever. The mac and cheeze turned out pretty much as I'd hoped, but the sweet potatoes and squash was a bit lacking. If it weren't for the sweetness of the potatoes I might even call it a failure. It's nice to have something simple to go with the tangy cheeze dish, but maybe I could have sprinkled something other than salt and pepper into the oil. ANYWAY...
makes approx. 3 servings

1/2 lb. macaroni
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
1/2 acorn squash, cubed
box of pea greens (2 c.? 3 c.?)
1 c. yeast flakes
1/2 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. water
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 spoonful mustard
2 spoonfuls tahini
4 tsp. capers
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Cube the sweet potatoes and acorn squash half. If you haven't dealt with hard squash before, you'll probably need more time and patience than you anticipate to cut off the rind. The skin? I bet you could find a magical time-efficient method on the internet, though.
3. Coat the bottom of an oven-safe pan with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss the potato and squash cubes until coated. Stick in the oven for 45-40 minutes. If you remember, it's a good idea to check up on it once or twice and toss.
4. Heat oil in a small pan on low-medium heat. Mince the garlic cloves and cook for a minute or so. Add the broth and 2/3 of the pea greens. Let the greens cook down a little bit, then add the yeast flakes and water. Crank the heat to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
5. After the cheeze starts to thicken, go ahead and stir in the seasonings, followed by the mustard and tahini, the capers, and finally the remaining pea greens. I spaced those additions a few minutes apart. You can turn the heat real low and add some more water if the cheeze gets too thick.
6. Bring water to a boil. I heeded the instructions on my package of macaroni, which was a mistake. Never listen to the pasta company! It called for 2.5 quarts of water for 1/2 lb. pasta, which took forever to boil and was totally unnecessary and a waste of water. I'd use like 1 q. (= 4 c.) water next time. I don't make pasta a whole lot.
7. Once the macaroni is
al dente and drained, pour the cheeze sauce into the pot and incorporate.

Instant comfort! Okay, not instant, but also not too much work.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly and Apple Sandwich

I thought about coming up with a clever name for this one by riffing on Elvis and Johnny Appleseed or something. You can see why I decided against that and went with a more straightforward approach. The explanation for having this for dinner goes like this: I was hungry after work at 4pm, which is too early to make dinner, but I didn't want to eat leftover curry since I had it for lunch, but I also won't have time to cook a proper dinner since I'm going to a 6:30pm screening of White Material. So I needed a filling snack.

If you're wondering what in the hell I was thinking with this particular choice of snack, I'd like to point out that 1) peanut butter goes great with apples and also with jelly on a sandwich, so they must all combine splendidly (don't think too hard about this one), and 2) eating bananas in the dead of winter is weird. I know, we're importing them from the same place regardless of the season here in the US and storing them in state-of-the-art climate-controlled sections of huge supermarket warehouses, but... well, no buts -- eat a PB&J&A sandwich!

2 slices bread
peanut butter
1/4 large apple (I used a Honeycrisp, but I think it would have been even better had I used one of the smaller Empires I bought more recently), sliced into 1/4 in.-thick pieces

1. Spread jam on one bread slice and peanut butter on the other.
2. Slice the apple and lay the pieces on top of the peanut butter. Complete the sandwich.
3. Heat some oil in a small pan over low-medium heat. You can use any old oil I suppose, but I think using peanut oil makes sense given what's on the sandwich. Another favorite of mine in situations like this is sunflower oil.
4. Cook the sandwich several minutes on each side, until browned but not burned (unless you're into that, of course).

While having peanut butter and banana get all melt-y together is delicious, I think the apple crunch is a nice change. It's like those people I've heard about who put potato chips in their savory sandwiches.