Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A look back...

2008 was a year of many changes for me including meeting a new group of friends and creating this blog which I am truly enjoying. Here are some of my favorite memories from the year I wanted to share.

In March I went to some Treehouses in southern Oregon for my friend Deanna's birthday. I hardly knew her then but decided it could be fun. Now I am good friends with her and many others from that weekend. I was also proud of myself for going on the wobbly bridges between the treehouses since I am afraid of heights.

I have started a tradition of visiting a friend in San Francisco every spring. This year I took the Amtrak down since I didn’t want to drive myself and I don’t fly. We ate some great food, had a little vegan ice cream cake every day, walked down to the beach and went paddle boating in Golden Gate Park. We saw lots of turtles, ducks and even baby Grebes!

The weekend of 4th of July I went camping with some friends. As we were on a walk, I started to feel the heat and decided to turn back. On my way to the river to cool down, I spotted an adorable little spider who I nicknamed Spike. I have never found a spider to have so much personality and cuteness before. I talk of him often.

Later that month I went camping with the girl I mentor to Clear Lake. The beauty of this lake is worth mentioning a second time and I definitely want to go back! The morning that we left, we made record time packing up and leaving. The moment we got out of the tent, mosquitoes started their attack so we ran. So bring very good bug repellant when you visit this place.

I visited Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary for the first time this fall. The people who run this place or so kind and the animals seem so happy. There was a donkey who stole my heart cause he was so sweet and got jealous when I tried to say hello to others. The goats were friendly and were very photogenic. Of course the pigmy goats didn't want to have anything to do with us which was a crime since they were so cute. It was great meeting all the critters and I look forward to going to another volunteer work party.

In the fall I was on a bike ride with some friends and suggested we stop by the Rhododendron Gardens which is my favorite place in Portland. I go there all the time and take pictures, visit with the water birds, rats and squirrels. Sometimes you can even get a glimpse at a blue heron, but they tend to be very shy.

This visit I saw a blue billed duck which I remembered to be a Ruddy Duck. I had seen them in pictures but never in person. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself! I didn’t have my camera with me so I made a special trip back the next day and got some pics.

I want to pick a favorite recipe for the year to feature but this is such a hard thing to do. I love so many of my recipes and have so many more to share. I did decide on my Vegan Joys though. They are unique and tasty and you can play with the recipe to make them your own. You can add nuts of any type, use sweet potato instead of regular mashed potato for a different look, or whatever else you can think of. You could also make this in a square dish instead of making balls and just cover the coconut mixture with the melted chocolate and refrigerate.

Thanks for all the people who have visited my blog this year! Next year I have in the works Buffalo Tofu Sticks, Lime Melt-Aways, Pecan Squares, Twix Cut-outs, Creamy Red Pepper Sauce, Pizza Rolls and so much more!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


We have at least one foot of snow in Portland!  I grew up near here and this is the most snow I have ever seen.  It is a novelty for me so parts of me are really enjoying this, although parts are ready for the roads to be clear to drive.  I took the above photo when I thought the snow had stopped and now this angel figurine is completely covered.  The morning of all that extra snow, I went outside and stood in front of my yard and just fell backwards, letting the snow catch my fall.  It was tons of fun and I repeated falling into the snow another three times.  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity since I don't know if I'll ever see this amount of snow again.

Chocolate Oat Thumbprints

1/2 cup Soy Margarine
1/2 cup Organic Brown Sugar
2 Tb. Soymilk
1 cup Unbleached White Flour
1/2 cup Quick Oats
1/4 tsp Salt
60 Chocolate Chips

Cream together the soy margarine and brown sugar.  Add the soymilk and blend until fully combined.  Add the flour, oats and salt and mix until just combined.  Form into 1 1/2 inch round balls and place on greased cookie sheet.  With the palm of your hand, flatten the cookies slightly.  Use your thumb to make holes in the middle of the cookies.  Place 5 chocolate chips in each cookie.  Bake at 350ºF for 15-18 minutes.  When cookies come out of the oven, use a small spoon to swirl the chocolate to a smooth consistency, or leave the shape of chocolate chips.  Makes 12 cookies.

Marionberry Thumbprints

1/2 cup Soy Margarine
1/2 cup Organic Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Soymilk
1 1/4 cups Unbleached White Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Marionberry Preserve or Jam

Cream together the soy margarine and brown sugar.  Add the soymilk and blend until fully combined.  Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined.  Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet.  With the palm of your hand, flatten the cookies slightly.  Use your thumb to make holes in the middle of the cookies and fill with the marionberry preserve.  Bake at 350ºF for 15-18 minutes.  Makes 12 cookies.

Hope everyones holidays are filled with laughter and joy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Tis the Season for Rosemary

Today I found out my nephew did a super considerate thing. In one of his classes, they made pie. He wanted me and my sister to be able to eat it so he asked the teacher if he could make it different. He left out the milk the recipe called for an just used water instead. For a pie crust, this should work great. I often find myself around people who know I am vegan but do not make an effort to make sure I can eat what they bring to share with people. It is great to see my nephew already being so thoughtful of others. Now when I visit him and other family members at Christmas, I'll be able to try this fabulous pie.

On a completely different note, I love rosemary. I received the perfect culinary christmas tree as a gift from a friend. I decorated it with tiny ornaments and it is now resting in my livingroom brightening up the atmosphere and contributing a great smell to the area. Now I can make this savory tofu squares recipe anytime since I now have fresh rosemary growing in my house. The recipe is very versatile and the herbs give it a unique flavor that works just right. The tofu is a perfect topping for pizza, can be used in sandwiches or wraps, in burritos and so much more. I hope you find more unique ways to use this as well.

Savory Tofu Squares

2 oz. Tofu, diced
1 tsp Olive oil
1/2 tsp thyme
1.2 tsp Rosemary
1/4 tsp garlic Granules
1 Tb Braggs liquid aminos

Fry tofu in the oil until brown on medium heat. Add the rosemary, thyme and garlic and cook an additional minute. Add the Braggs and cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Use as desired.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Angels and Cookies

Today I was so thrilled to see snow falling to the valley floor.  In Oregon, we only get a good snowfall once every few years and I still hold the childhood excitement for the white stuff.  I woke up earlier than I would have liked and have been thinking about taking a nap all day, but who can sleep when there is snow to play in.  So instead I wrapped some presents, watched a movie, made a sad attempt to make a snow man, and made cookies.

Being a caretaker of two adorable kitties, my first mission was to take photos of the cats in the snow.  Roy was hesitant at first but then adventured out and enjoyed the day, for about 10 minutes at least.  That is all he could handle.  

Loki was a way more apprehensive.  He did not like the snow and did not want anything to do with it.  You could see from his face that he was perturbed about the situation, but that didn't take away from him being so cute.  He has such fluffy fur and it was puffed out for the perfect photo opportunity.  They are my two snow angels.

Cream Cheese-Lemon Snow Cookies

1/2 cup Soy Margarine
4 oz. Tofutti Cream Cheese
1 cup Organic Unrefined Cane Sugar
2 Tb Lemon Juice
2 cups Unbleached White Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

Cream together the margarine and non-dairy cream cheese.  Add the sugar and cream until smooth.  Blend in the lemon juice until it is fully incorporated.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredient into the wet and blend until just combined, careful not to over mix.  

Place by 1-inch round balls onto a greased cookie sheet.  Flatten the dough and scrape the top with a fork to make etchings on the top of the cookie.  Bake at 375ºF for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool a few minutes.  In a small bowl, pour the powdered sugar.  Take a cookie and place it top down into the powdered sugar.  Make sure the sugar covers the top of the cookie with a light layer.  Repeat this step with the rest of the cookies.  If you have a sifter, you can simply sift the powdered sugar onto the cookies.  Makes about 20 cookies.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A quick plug for the holidays.

In case you are wondering last second what to get friends and family for the holidays, let me point you in the direction of my friends' etsy pages. PonyBoy Press offers a unique selection of cards, buttons, notebooks and so much more. RadBean has an amazing assortment of jewelry sure to please. Remember this holiday season to support smaller businesses as much as possible. During these hard economic times, the dollars you spend really makes a difference to individual people.

If you love the fun of making and decorating sugar cookies this holiday season, don't forget my recipe. You can use all sorts of cookie cutters and simple frosting for decorations. Try using some raspberry juice to color your frosting for a natural and pretty pink.

I just read how you can adopt ocean animals, including sharks, from Oceana and you get a cookie cutter with the donation! This would make a great gift idea and is only one of many adopt-an-animal organizations which help animals all over the world. I am wanting to adopt an orca from The Whale Museum and eventually will.

I got to visit with the J pod a few years ago while floating on a kayak and it was truly spectacular! From the photos I took, you can even identify the orcas who graced me with their presence. Granny swam past me and after I identified her I realized she is over 80 years old! Slick breached fairly close to my kayak and I was lucky enough to get a photo. This was off San Juan Island and I want to go back so bad. Hopefully I'll make it there for a visit next year.
This month I hope to do a lot of playing with cookie recipes, so stay tuned for some great recipes!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A sad story I have to share

For some reason I decided to take advantage of the zoo's free admission on Thanksgiving day. It is not that I wanted to see all the animals and how cute they are and how amazing different species are. If I had gone for those reasons, I probably would have been even more surprised than I was. I hate zoos. I feel they are simply holding animals captive in depressing conditions. I do not believe they help endangered species and I question whether they really teach anyone about animals and the threat of extinction. How can you learn about respect for a species when you see the sadness in their eyes, or see they can not spread their wings or find the form of freedom they crave? I did not see one animal which seemed to have adequate space or an appropriate environment. The majority of the animals lived in cement prisons, how is this anything like what they would find in nature?

Like most humans, I related the most to the various primates they had caged up. I don't care what other people say, you can see the sadness in their faces, in their eyes. They seem so defeated. I have seen that look before. I knew a dog named Spuds who lived his life chained up in a back yard. I knew him for a short while when he lived as a dog should, in a home where he was fed well and had others to play with and care for him. Then he was taken away to the chains. All the life in his eyes disappeared. I cried every time I saw him. One day I found a way to rescue him. After I did so, the life came back to his eyes and he was the sweetest dog I have ever known. I wish I could find a way out for these other animals.

When my eyes came upon the chimpanzees I almost lost it. One of them was by the glass pane, his back mostly facing me. He was hardly moving and when he did, the movements were very slow. I could tell right away that things were not right. A stupid little boy next to the glass started to taunt him; someone else was taking photos with a flash. Both of these things were disturbing the chimpanzee greatly, and no one seemed to care or notice. I started to say out loud to my friend, "I can't believe these people can't see the pain and suffering these animals are going through. It is so sad. It is unbelievable". I doubt anyone really heard or got it. Years ago I learned a hard lesson about what goes on behind closed doors.

The animal rights group I worked for was able to get a tour of the animal facility at University of Oregon . Professors there do pointless research on rats, owls, rabbits, rhesus monkeys and other animals. After a high profile break-in during the 80s, a professor switched from using kittens and cats to rats, thinking the public would be more accepting of the killing of those animals. The stories of what happened to those cats were heart-breaking. The idea of this now happening to rats, who are one of my favorite animals, is maddening. I read about it through some court documents. I cried often during those times, learning the truth about closed doors and what happens when you are not looking.

So on this animal facility tour, we basically witnessed the animals currently being used and housed at the university. The head of the animal facility tried to talk about how well these animals were cared for and how clean the facility was. There was a lot of heartbreak for me that day, but when I saw the rhesus monkeys my heart stopped. I couldn't see one of them, but the other two were visible. One was going crazy in his cage. He would look at us and freak out, then cower in a corner. He kept repeating this behavior the whole time we looked in the room. Another monkey just looked at me. You could read her eyes. She was so unhappy. She was looking for help and all I could do was go to the next room to witness the room full of animals.

Two years later I was talking with someone who was involved in the law school's animal rights group and who had just gone on the same tour I had previously. I had not told her my experiences and she started to describe what she went through. Everything was the same. And then she got to the part where she saw the Rhesus monkeys. She told the same story I did. I started to cry. Every single day, this is what the monkeys are going through, whether we are on tour or not. The fact we witnessed the exact same behavior showed me they had no escape from their captive, tortured lives.

This is true for the zoo animals as well. As stupid families allow themselves to be herded through the zoo paths, they are unaware that these animals are unhappy every single day of their existences and those families are responsible for this torture. Their admission to the zoo pay for this industry where these animals are bred and sold to the highest bidder, not for the sake of saving any species. Thanks for listening. Sorry to share that. But it is important. I was their witness and I had to share their stories. We need to care about the zoo animals, about the animals used in animal research, and the animals we see in our lives who are not being treated properly. We cannot always do anything to help these animals directly, but there is always something you can do to help animals in general. Please do. We have that freedom.

Here is a link to Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. Read the positive stories of chimpanzees getting a second chance and donate if you are able.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Birthday - I'm eating cheesecake!

Today is my 33rd birthday.  At my work we bring in what we want to share on our day.  I was about to bring a cake, then realized I hadn't had cheesecake in a long time and that sounded really tasted.  Everyone in the office loved it!  I'm off to celebrate the rest of my day.  Enjoy!

Vegan Cheesecake

2 - 8 oz containers Tofutti Cream Cheese
1 - 12.3 oz pkg Silken Tofu
3/4 cup Organic Cane Sugar
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1 tsp Vanilla

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Pour into prepared pie shell (or make you own) and bake at 350ºF for 50 minutes.  Cool overnight.  When making your own pie crust, you can shape the crust to a 9-inch cake pan instead of a pie plate to get a more traditional cheesecake appearance.

Make Your Own Pie Crust:  I simply baked some sugar cookies, let them cool, then ground them in my food processor.  I then added some melted margarine and soy milk to get the cookie crumbs to a consistency to stick to the pan.   You can also do the same with other cookies, graham crackers or Almond Meal.

Cherry Topping

10 oz Cherries, frozen
1/3 cup Organic Cane Sugar
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1 Tb Cornstarch.

Heat cherries, sugar and lemon juice in a sauce pan.  When cherries have defrosted and sugar is dissolved, add the cornstarch and stir in.  Continue to heat until thickened.  Pour over cheesecake and cool as directed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Heavenly Biscuits

I had such a great Thanksgiving feast with my friends. A friend of mine brought over stuffed squash filled with wild rice, nuts and even pomegranate seeds. These were an interesting addition to the dish which gave you bursts of flavor in every bite. Great idea! I made my gluten roast with stuffing and these biscuits which helped cheer me up after having a sad morning. Just watching the biscuits puff up nicely and tasting the flaky layers made me remember good things do happen. I joked to a friend that these biscuits took a trip to heaven while in the oven. Hope you like them as much as I did!

"Buttermilk" Biscuits

4 cups Unbleached White Flour
1 Tb. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. salt
1 Tb. sugar
1 cup Soy Margarine
2 cups Soymilk + 1 Tb. Lemon Juice

Combine the soymilk and lemon juice and let stand a few minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut the soy margarine into the flour mixture until pea sizes or smaller. Pour the soymilk mixture and blend until combined. Place dough on a floured work surface and knead a couple times. Spread the dough out to about 3/4 inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes. Makes about 20 biscuits.

*This tastes great with Cranberry "Butter". Simply mix up equal proportions soy margarine and cranberry sauce. So if you use 1/2 cup Soy Margarine, you will use 1/2 cup Cranberry Sauce. Simply put this in a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Give Turkeys A Chance

This time of year can be difficult. Even though people eat just as many animals every other day of the year, hearing "turkey day" coming out from everyone's mouth drives me crazy. Thanksgiving has become more about eating turkey than anything else. Although I find myself lucky that my family is open-minded to vegan food during the holidays, I think it is insane that other families would not be. How much intolerance towards a vegan is due to the inconvenience of "different" food versus the inconvenience of being reminded that you're eating the flesh of another.

In the news, Sarah Palin has again made headlines due to her stupidity. During a news conference while she was giving a turkey a "pardon", other turkeys were being slaughtered in the background. Although people understood the irony of such an act, maybe this mistake was a good thing. It exposes the ridiculous notion of forgiving a turkey of having tasty flesh, yet millions of others are brutally slaughtered. Read Farm Sanctuary’s statement about this.

The whole notion of giving a turkey a pardon is completely absurd. How did this become a presidential tradition in this country? Isn’t a pardon something you give to someone when you forgive them of some wrongdoing? What has a turkey ever done to anyone? What happens to these turkeys after Thanksgiving? Today, these animals are sent to Disney World to live out there life as a spectacle. Their life is short lived however, since these animals are bred just like any other turkey meant for slaughter, so their heart and other organs cannot support the size their body has grown to.
During the 2003 turkey pardoning ceremony, President George W. Bush states, "I appreciate you joining me to give this turkey a presidential pardon. Stars is a very special bird with a very special name. This year, for the first time, thousands of people voted on the White House website to name the national turkey, and the alternate turkey. Stars and Stripes beat out Pumpkin and Cranberry. And it was a neck-to-neck race." Was this meant to be a pun on their previous fate?

This is why you should make my tasty vegan Thanksgiving recipes or buy a tofurky or anything else you can do to spare another life from being taken for this ritualistic murdering holiday. That is my rant. It is important to not only give alternatives to eating animals in this world, but explain why as well. A wonderful NEW tradition you can do for a turkey every year is to Adopt-A-Turkey!

Friday, November 21, 2008

So Thankful for Stuffing

I am truly thankful that I have a family who is open-minded. Although I grew up eating meat, I also was taught to care for animals. My compassion towards lost and injured animals was honored by my parents who helped me, help animals. When I went vegan, and my little sister followed quickly behind, my parents were receptive to the possibility of having no meat on the table at Thanksgiving to respect our beliefs. My family had the extra bonus that I made the entire meal. It was a wonderful win-win situation since I love to cook and I knew everything on the table was something I could eat. My parents and sister got to enjoy tasty food and relax for the day. This has been my family tradition for many years now. Although I take a year off now and then to spend time with friends instead of family, this new tradition is always open to me.

Traditional Stuffing

3 1/2 cups Bread Crumbs
1 cup Vegetable Broth
1/4 cup Margarine (Non-hydrogenized)
6 celery stalks, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp Sage, rubbed
1 tsp Marjoram
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Melt the margarine over medium high heat in a skillet and add the onion and celery. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. In a medium sized pan, heat the vegetable broth until boiling. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, herbs, salt and cooked celery and onion. Stir all of this to combine thoroughly. Slowly add the vegetable broth, stirring occasionally to cover all the bread crumbs. Use as directed in the Thanksgiving Gluten Roast or place stuffing in a greased 9-inch square pan bake at 375°F for about 30 minutes.
*To make your own bread crumbs, cut a loaf of bread in cubes. Place on a large cookie sheet and bake at 300°F for about 20-30 minutes, using a spatula about every 5 minutes to move around the bread so it will dry out evenly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes

Jess and I taught the Cooking for the Holidays cooking class as a part of Try Vegan PDX. It was tons of fun! We had 16 people taking the hands-on class and they were all super nice. I have taught a few cooking classes before, but this was a first for Jess who did awesome! She'll have to be convinced to do more of them.

My portion of the cooking class was the Thanksgiving Gluten Roast and the Flaky Pie Crust. I developed the gluten roast recipe many years ago to share with my family on Thanksgiving. Most people would guess I would not be a fan of Thanksgiving since it is otherwise known as "turkey day" and did not had very ethical roots. I say lets take back the day to celebrate our families and communities. I love creating tasty recipes for all to enjoy and trying my best to support others in sparing a turkey.
Thanksgiving Gluten Roast

Gluten mixture-
4 cups Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
1 Tb. Nutritional Yeast
1 Tb. Marjoram
1 Tb. Onion Powder
1 Tb. Sage
2 tsp. Salt
3 cups Warm Water
¼ cup Tamari
½ cup Oil
Onion mixture-
1 cup Onion, chopped
¼ cup Oil
½ cup Nutritional Yeast
1 Tb. Paprika
1 cup Tahini
1 Tb. Salt

Basting Liquid-
¼ cup Sesame Oil
2 Tb. Tamari
Mix together all the wet ingredients for the gluten mixture in one bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring quickly. This will form a sponge-like dough. Knead the dough a few seconds so the dough will tighten up a bit.

For the onion mixture, fry the onion in the oil until soft and starting to brown. In a small bowl, combine the cooking onion and the rest of the ingredients together. In a food processor, blend together the gluten and onion mixture, ¼ the amount at a time. Process the mixtures for about 10 seconds. A blender can work as well but you will want to blend in smaller batches. Set the processed dough in a bowl and slightly blend all the mixtures together. Oil a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Place about 4 cups of stuffing in the middle of the pan and form into a neat mound. Form the gluten mixture over the stuffing and slightly fold in the edges.

Blend the oil and tamari of the basting liquid together and brush the outside of the roast with this basting liquid. Use about half the basting liquid and reserve the rest for later. Bake the loaf at 375ºF for 1 hour. Half way through, remove the roast from the oven and brush with the remaining basting liquid.

*Optional: Surround the roast with cut potatoes, carrots and other vegetables and pour basting liquid over them as well. Tastes great!

Later this week I will post a recipe for stuffing which works perfect for this gluten roast recipe.
Jess found a great Pecan pie recipe for us to use for the class which is the filling in the pie. This was not too sweet and had a great texture.

Flaky Pie Crust

1 ½ cups Unbleached White Flour
½ cup Soy Margarine (Cold)
½ tsp Sea Salt
4-6 Tb Ice Water

Place flour and salt in medium-size bowl. Break up margarine and cut into flour with a pastry cutter until there are pea-sized pieces of dough. Slowly add ice water and blend with fork. Do not overwork; blend until just mixed and dough holds together. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to be slightly larger than your pie pan. Place in pie pan and form dough as desired.
Dough can be used right away or cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Place pie contents on top of crust and bake according to pie instructions. Makes one 9-inch pie crust.
Thanks to Jess for teaching the class with me and for everyone who attended the class!

Thanks to Chris Emery for taking the photos!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Making You Own Pizza Crust

Everybody loves pizza, right?  Making pizza from a freshly made dough is cheap, easy and fun!  I think people can be intimidated by pizza dough since it is a yeast risen dough which needs rising time and kneading.  Hopefully these directions will help you successfully make you own pizza.

Basic Pizza Dough

1/2 cup Warm Water
1 tsp Agave Nectar
1 tsp Active Dry Yeast
1 Tb Olive Oil
1 1/4 cup Unbleached White Flour
1 Tb Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
1/2 tsp Salt

Dissolve the agave nectar in the warm water.  The water should be a little warmer than room temperature but should be comfortable on your skin.  Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the olive oil to the liquid ingredients.  You can then add the flour, gluten and salt.  Mix this all into the liquid ingredients and blend until combined.  Pour the contents on a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.

In the kneading process you will want to create a pattern of folding the dough and pressing it out again.  You will need to add more flour as you go, but it is best just to add a little at a time.
Once I have pressed the dough out and start folding it again, I often rotate the dough to make sure the entirety of the dough is being kneaded properly.  Kneading the dough allows for the gluten in the dough to develop.  Kneading too little can cause the dough to not rise as much.  Kneading too much can cause dense results.  
You can tell when the dough is finished kneading since it will have a smooth, elastic feel and will spring back when pressed out.  

When I am done kneading the dough I cover my hands with a little oil and then use my hands to cover the dough with oil.  Put this dough in a bowl, cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for about 20 minutes.  The dough will get about double in size.  

This is a good time to preheat the oven and prepare all the great topping for your pizza.  My favorite vegan cheese on the market is the brand Follow Your Heart.  Sometimes I will use a tofu spread, cashew sauce or pesto instead.  

When the dough has finished rising, simply spread the dough out on an oiled pizza pan, put on the toppings and bake it at 425ºF for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cooking Vegan for the Holidays Cooking Class

Try Vegan PDX is hosting a cooking class called Cooking Vegan for the Holidays!  I am teaching the class along with Jess of Get Sconed!  I am super excited about the class since I will be showing how to make a Thanksgiving Gluten Roast and making a pie shell.  Jess will be teaching us to make her Sweet Potato Pie Casserole and the insides for Pecan Pie.  Yum!  We plan to share other traditional foods gone vegan at the end of the class for all to enjoy as well.

The class is Sunday, November 16th and starts at 3pm.  It will take place at Cleveland High School in their home-ec classroom so the class is hands-on!  Cost if $10 in advance and $15 at the door.  If interested, and you know you are, register here.

For those who do not live in the Portland area, I will be sharing the recipe for the Thanksgiving Gluten Roast before Thanksgiving so you will want to watch for that.  

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Perfect Dip for Potlucks

This is absolutely not related to Halloween at all, but I do have another recipe to share. I have again been sick, otherwise I would have loved to share some fun Halloween themed treat. I do have a tip though! A friend of mine decided to make my Vegan Joys recipe and used mashed sweet potato instead of regular potato and it made the insides a little orange!

Cannellini Herb Spread

2 - 15 oz cans Cannellini Beans
¼ cup Olive Oil
2 Tb Lemon Juice
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Rosemary
½ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Black Pepper

Pour the beans into a collander and rinse and drain them. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Great for dipping crackers, chips, vegetables, to use in sandwiches and more.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Time for Sugar Cookies!

This recipe is very versatile since it can be made for any holiday or occasion. You can dress them up however you like; frost them, sprinkle them, cut them in multiple shapes and sizes or just eat them plain. Luckily this cut-out sugar cookie does not need to be refrigerated before rolling out and cutting as many other recipes direct you to do. So you will go from craving the cookies to enjoying them in no time!

Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup Soy Margarine
1 cup Unrefined Cane Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Tb Cornstarch
2 Tb Water
2 cups Unbleached White Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder

Cream together the margarine and sugar. Mix together the cornstarch and water. Add this along with the vanilla to the sugar mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Slowly mix in the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, careful not to over mix. Roll out dough and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350ºF for about 10 minutes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A different type of Pumpkin Pie

Here is another recipe I sampled for a baking class. I describe pies made with silken tofu as "silk" pies since they are so rich and creamy. There is also a lot of options when baking this type of pie. You can use chocolate, coconut or any type of fruit to make this type of pie, although the amount of tofu you use does depend on what you are making.

Pumpkin Silk Pie

15 oz. can Pumpkin Puree
1 pkg Mori-Nu Silken Tofu (firm)
¾ cup Agave Nectar
2 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Ginger
½ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp Allspice

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Can be eaten be itself or poured into a prepared pie shell and refrigerated overnight.
Almond Crust

2 cups Almond Meal Flour
1 Tb Cornstarch
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
3 Tb Organic Cane Sugar
1/4 cup Soy Margarine
1 Tb Soy milk

Mix together almond meal, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Pour melted margarine and soy milk into mixture and use a fork to combine. Pat almond mixture into 9-inch pie pan. Pour blended pie filling on top of crust, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baking Class at NW Veg Potluck

On Sunday I will be teaching a vegan baking class at the NW Veg Westside Potluck.  These potlucks are a lot of fun and a great way to taste the variety of cooking styles in the vegan world.  The first half is potluck style, and the second half is a presentation, which is where I come in.  So if you live or around portland, check it out!  Fun starts at 5pm.

West Hills Unitarian Fellowship
8470 SW Oleson Road
Portland, OR 97223

Here is one recipe I will be demonstrating and discussing.

Blueberry Bundt Cake

3 Tb Flaxseed Meal
1/2 cup Water
1 cup Soymilk (or another milk replacement)
1 Tb Lemon Juice
1 1/2 cups Unrefined Cane Sugar
1/2 cup Oil
2 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 cups Unbleached White Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Blueberries

Mix together the flaxseed meal and water; set aside.  Mix together the soymilk and lemon juice to create a "buttermilk" and let sit a few minutes.  Combine the sugar, oil and vanilla.  Add the flax and water mixture, as well as the "buttermilk" and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine the salt, baking soda and flour.  This step allows the dry ingredients to blend better into the wet ingredients, but I do often skip it for convenience.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until half combined; then add the blueberries.  With a long circular motion, continue mixing the batter until the ingredients are all combined, but be careful not to over mix.  

Pour the batter into a greased bundt pan and bake at 350ºF for 50-55 minutes.  Tap the top of the cake to see if it has finished baking.  When done, the top of the cake should spring back.  

You can then add a simple glaze to the top of the cake, although this is not necessary.  Combine 1 cup powdered sugar with 4-6 tsp of lemon juice.  Whisk in the lemon juice until you reached the desired consistency.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Halloween Goo

I signed up late to be a part of VEGANMOFO.  There are so many vegan bloggers involved it's exciting!

Today I was talking with some co-workers and started to think back about my trick-or-treating days.  A woman up the street from us would always offer popcorn balls and they were my favorite.  It is too bad we no loner live in a society where such offerings would be accepted, or kids would be eating vegan cookies around my neighborhood on Halloween.

Halloween was almost my favorite holiday growing up.  It was definitely the holiday I was most involved in.  My mom is a very creative person and made me and my sisters our costumes when we were young.  Then I reached an age I could make my own and my favorite material to use was cardboard.  I was a haunted house, a mailbox, a carousel (which was impossible to walk in) and when I was a flower pot with flowers in it, I won first prize in a costume contest for the "Most Creative".  Luckily they also offered a "Most Imaginative" category which my little sister entered and won as a monster vacuum cleaner, a creation my mom put together.

All the Halloween talk made me want popcorn balls.  Although I plan to make some from scratch before Halloween and posting about it, I couldn't wait that long.  I am about to leave to go to a friends for dinner and I volunteered to bring dessert.  Then I realized I didn't have any ingredient or much time.  But I did have some of the Suzanne's Ricemellow Creme.  And that started my fast track to popcorn balls, except the gooey popcorn was pressed into a casserole dish.

Popcorn Gooey Delight

1 container Rice mellow
1 Tb Vanilla 
2 Tb Agave nectar
6 oz. bag Popcorn (or about 15 cups)
1 Tb. Caramel Syrup (optional)

I heated up the rice mellow very briefly and added the vanilla, agave nectar and caramel syrup if you have it.  Add the popcorn and stir it in unto all the yummy goo has been properly distributed.  Spread into a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.  Enjoy!