Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Top 10 List

Everyone seems to be doing top 10 lists, so I decided to join since it is always good to think of all the notable things from the year passing. I am sure I missed some great stuff but my memory only goes so far and my phone died so I can no longer access my calendar.

10.) Vegan Prom/Try Vegan PDX – Every year, Try Vegan PDX hosts a week of education and fun times encouraging a vegan diet. The classes were well done and the party at the end, the vegan prom, was a blast! Try Vegan PDX is hosting a Vegan in the New Year event this Sunday, January 3rd at 2pm at Peoples Co-Op. Please join!

9.) Juice Cleanse – In February my naturopath suggested I do a juice cleans which I hesitated to do. I was surprised how easy 4 days of just juice was to sustain and was thankful to my friends Deanna for joining me on the fast and Liz for lending me her juicer. I plan to do another one soon.

8.) Mentorship – The girl I have been mentoring for over 6 years graduated from high school and turned 18, all within a few days of each other in June. It is great to see her become a responsible adult and work hard to do something with her life. She has always amazed me with her strength and spirit! As a graduation gift I took her to San Juan Island and we got to kayak, camp, whale watch, pet alpaca and so much more. I love that place!

7.) Everyday Cuteness – My cats Roy and Loki mean the world to me. They are constantly available to be cute or give love or be a pain. Regardless, I am so happy to have them in my life and appreciate them tremendously.

6.) California – I took a trip to California with my friends Deanna and Mark and visited Yosemite, Mono Lake and San Francisco. This was such an amazing trip with the beauty of nature all around us. Mono Lake was a dream it was so astonishing. San Francisco we stayed with my friend Kate and enjoyed the California Science Academy where butterflies can land on you in a three-story simulated rain forest. Truly an experience!

5.) Photo Blog – I finally started a new blog, AnimalKind, focusing on my wildlife photography. I have been enjoying taking photos for a couple years now and even got a new camera this year to help improve my photo quality. It is fun to share my wildlife adventures with others!

4.) Cake – This was the year of cake. My sister does not like cake so I must have taken that trait all to myself since it is my favorite dessert. I made Coconut Cloud Cupcakes for my friend Jenn’s wedding and again for a friend’s house-warming party by request. I appreciate when someone tells me exactly what they want and my friend Liz insisted I make her an Orange Spice Cupcakes for her birthday. My friend Jax requested Carrot Cake and this was my favorite of the year! I also made bundt cake for a neighborhood block party and peppermint cupcakes with chocolate frosting for my family at Christmas; recipe to be posted soon.

3.) The Cove/Sea Lions/Marine Mammals – Marine mammals have been in the news a lot this year. The Cove is a must-see documentary about the Japanese killing dolphins for their meat and it is heart-breaking but important to see. Seals are still killed for their fur in Canada and elsewhere, sea lions are subject to death in the Columbia River for eating fish and a record number of marine mammals have been affected by various human-caused ailments. When in California I visited the Marine Mammal Center who is doing wonders for the animals they can help. The Sea Shepherd Society also has a television series and documentary focusing on stopping the whale hunts every year in the Antarctic.

2.) Going back to school – I decided to change my career and am going to school part time and plan to be a full-time student next fall. Animals have always been my first love, which is why I am vegan. I believe I’m a great cook and plan to still do it a lot, but for a career I am looking at either wildlife sciences (preferably with marine mammals) or an animal rehabilitator. I got an A in my biology class, my first class in over 10 years. I am on my way to new and better things!

1.) Audubon – In the spring, I started to volunteer with the Portland Audubon Wildlife Care Center. The experience has been life changing! I have been able to give fluids to owls, feed red tails, handle northern screech owls, care for swifts, witness necropsies and so much more! This experience has strengthened my resolve to work with wildlife as a career.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gingerbread Men Veganized

A friend of mine gave me some really cute cookie cutters for gingerbread men for my birthday. I’ve made sugar cookies the last few years and gingerbread years before that, so I was excited for gingerbread men. This base makes a good cookie and allows a good playing ground for decorating the cookies with candy or frosting.

This recipe comes from Joy of Baking and then I veganized it. Veganizing can be so easy! This recipe I simply used vegan margarine instead of butter, switched the white sugar to organic cane sugar and instead of the egg, I used cornstarch and water. Usually only one egg is used for cookie recipes as a binder. Cornstarch and water is a good substitute for this since the starch will work as a binder and the water will replace the liquid from the egg.

Please note, these cookies need 2 hours or overnight to refrigerate in the refrigerator. I forgot and made them late last night and had to wake up early to roll them out and bake them for my co-workers. The funny thing is people keep thinking someone took a bite out of a cookie, until they realize ALL the cookies have a “bite” taken out of them. You can use any cookie cutter for these cookies although gingerbread men are always fun.

Gingerbread Men

3 cups Unbleached White Flour
¼ tsp Sea Salt
¾ tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Ginger, ground
1 tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp Nutmeg
¼ tsp Cloves
½ cup Vegan Margarine
½ cup Organic Cane Sugar
1 Tb Cornstarch
3 Tb Water
2/3 cup Molasses

Place the flour, salt, soda and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, cream together the sugar and margarine until smooth. Combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and add it to the sugar/margarine mixture along with the molasses and blend until fully incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture until fully blended. Split the dough in half and wrap in plastic; refrigerate 2 hour or overnight.

After refrigeration, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thickness. Use cookie cutters and place on a grease cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350°F. Decorate as desired. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Got any good recipe ideas?

I am taking input! Anyone have some recipes they would like to see on the blog? Please share some recipe ideas to get my creativity going. Thanks!

I am in planning to make Crescent Rolls which are super yummy and a great addition to a holiday meal. For my family’s Christmas dinner this year, I am thinking of making a biscuit-topped pot pie with stuffed mushrooms, salad and dessert. For dessert I am thinking of a peppermint cupcake or a frozen ice cream cake if I can find a good vegan peppermint ice cream. Gingerbread men will be baked as well since I got some fabulous gingerbread men cookie cutters, with a twist, for my birthday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

It's my birthday! At my work we have a policy we have to bring in our own birthday treat, which I think was created because they didn't know how to buy or make vegan cake for me. Not everyone like cake either, so some birthdays we get a unique display of food to share.

This year I did not have too much time and had just bought some White Chocolate Peanut Butter and remembered making a yummy peanut butter pie in the past, so I decided to recreate this tasty treat with some modifications. My co-workers love it!

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

3/4 cup White Chocolate Peanut Butter
1 1/2 - 12.3 oz package of Mori-Nu Silken Tofu (Extra Firm)
1/2 cup Organic Cane Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

Pie Crust

2 cups ground Sugar Cookies
1 Tb Cornstarch
2 Tb Earth Balance Margarine, melted
3-5 Tb Almond Milk

Combine the ground cookies and cornstarch. Pour in the melted margarine and combine it with the dry ingredients using a fork. Add the almond milk a tablespoon at a time until the consistency is not wet, but when pressed together it sticks together.

Pour the pie crust "dough" into a greased pie pan. Press the crust into the sides, turning the pie pan to cover all sides. With the left over crust, press it into the bottom of the pie pan. Pour the pie filling into the center and spread evenly with a spatula. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Optional Topping:

1 cup vegan White Chocolate Chips*
1 Tb Earth Balance Margarine
2 Tb Almond Milk

Melt the ingredient over medium-low heat. Whisk together when melted until smooth. The white chocolate chips take away to cook down, so patience will be needed. Pour over pie filling and refrigerate overnight.

*Vegan white whocolate whips can be found at Food Fight! in Portland, otherwise, vegan regular chocolate chips can be used instead. Regular peanut butter can replace the white chocolate peanut butter as well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has meant a lot to me over the last 10 years or so, pretty much since I became vegan.  After an argument with my parents concerning their consumption of turkey, they agreed to not eat turkey and I agreed to visit them and my sister on the holiday and we all enjoyed a delicious meal together that I cooked.  Luckily my sister being vegan as well helped my side quite a bit.  I started out with a veganized version of a traditional meal and eventually decided on food themes to further my culinary curiosity and skill.  Just recently I started to spend more time with friends rather than family on Thanksgiving, but I appreciate and recognize the uniqueness of my family forgoing turkey out of respect for me.  Obviously I wish they would forgo the turkey out of respect for the animal, but we haven't gotten there quite yet.

Recently I received a request for a traditional vegan pumpkin pie recipe and realized I could not find mine which was probably written down on some abscure piece of paper from years ago that somehow disspearred in the mean time.  I remember most of what I did, so I decided to go back in the kitchen and share the recipe before I forgot.  

I was never much of a fan of pumpkin pie myself, but I like this recipe since it is not overwhelmingly pumpkin.  It uses moderate spices so feel free to up the amounts if you like alot.  

Pumpkin Pie

1 - 15 oz can of Pumpkin Puree
1 - 12.3 oz package of Mori-Nu Silken Tofu (Firm)
3/4 cup Organic Cane Sugar
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground Ginger
1/4 tsp ground Cloves
1 prepared Pie Shell

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until creamy.  Spread into a pie shell.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Allow to sit a couple hours before serving.  

If you are looking for other Thanksgiving recipe ideas, I have many more to share.  

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Basic Bundt Cake

I am so sorry for neglecting all my recipe developing, and enjoying, for the last month.  I have been so busy with school my culinary time has been cut down considerably.  But I have so much more flavor to create!  I will try harder.  And have fun doing so.

The last thing I baked up was some Orange Spice Budnt Cake.  This is such a great recipe to base a zillion variations on.  I have also made blueberry, strawberry and chocolate chip bundt cakes and have many more ideas to implement.  Here is the basic recipe and some variations you can try.

Basic Bundt Cake

3 Tb Flaxseed Meal
1/2 cup Water
1 cup Alternative Milk (Soy, Almond, Coconut, Rice)
1 1/2 cups Organic Cane Sugar
1/2 cup Oil
2 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 cups Unbleached White Flour
1 Tb Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

Combine the flaxseed meal and water, let stand a few minutes.  In a large bowl, combine the milk, sugar, oil and vanilla and mix to combine.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Use a whisk to blend the dry ingredients together.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine, careful not to over mix.  When the batter is mostly mixed, add any extras and finish mixing.  Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 - 55 minutes.


Orange Spice- Add 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground clove, zest of one orange, replace 1/2 cup orange juice for milk alternative.
Berries- Add 1 cup berries of choice (blueberry, strawberry, cranberries).
Lemon Poppy seed- Add 2 Tb Poppy seeds and replace 1/4 cup lemon juice for milk alternative.
Double Chocolate- Add 1/3 cup cocoa powder and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Raspberry White Chocolate- Add 1/2 cup vegan White Chocolate Chips (if available) and replace 1/2 cup fresh raspberry juice for milk substitute.
Apple Walnut- Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1 cup finely chopped apple.
Coconut Almond- Add 1/2 cup shredded coconut and 1/2 cup sliced almonds.

You can also be creative, or basic, with a topping for the bundt cake.  You can simply combine powdered sugar with milk alternative until you reach the consistency you desire.  Or you can use orange/lemon/raspberry juice instead of a milk alternative with powdered sugar.  The cake can also go bare since it can stand alone.

What other flavors can you think of? 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Seitan 101

I taught a class about seitan through NW Veg and their Veg 101 series. A class about seitan is great to teach since there is so much more involved than just a recipe. Seitan has a certain texture you are looking for, so seeing it first-hand can make a difference.

Gluten is the protein found in some grains, especially wheat. Vital Wheat Gluten is a flour made from a concentration of the protein in wheat and contains 75-85% protein. Do not get this mixed up with high gluten flour which is used for baking.

There are many different types of recipes you can make using gluten. Seitan is basically a gluten dough which is cooked through a boiling process, while gluten is when you bake the dough. For this class, I sampled and shared recipes for basic seitan, thanksgiving gluten roast (including a buckwheat stuffing) and restuarant veggie burgers; recipes below. You can also make BBQ gluten strips which are always popular at potlucks.

Basic Seitan

2 ¼ cups Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
2 cups Hot Water
2 Tb Tamari

8 cups Water
3 Tb Tamari
2 Tb Molasses

In a medium bowl, blend together the gluten flour and seasonings. Add the hot water and tamari and blend with a sturdy spoon until combined. Knead the dough for about a minute, making sure all the flour is absorbed, but there no excess of water in the dough. Cut the dough into two-inch pieces.

Combine the ingredients for the broth and bring to a boil. Add the cut pieces of gluten to the broth, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour. The gluten will float to the top, so stirring the gluten often will allow the pieces to cook evenly. Drain the liquid and use for stews, stir fry, sandwiches and so much more.

Restaurant Veggie Burger

1 ½ cups TSP (Textured Soy Protein)
6 oz Tomato Paste
1 ½ cups Hot Water
2 Tb Braggs
1/3 cup Olive Oil
½ tsp Liquid Smoke (optional)
¾ cup Gluten Flour
1 cup Quick Oats
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tb Onion Flakes
2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
1 tsp Garlic Granules

Combine the hot water and tomato paste. Pour into the TSP and mix; let stand 5 minutes. Add braggs, oil and liquid smoke to the TSP mixture. *TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) can replace TSP in any recipe.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix until all is combined. Form into patties and place on a greased baking sheet.

Bakes at 350°F for 20 minutes, flipping burger after 10 minutes. Makes 8 burgers.

Thanksgiving Gluten Roast

2 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
1 ½ tsp Marjoram
1 ½ tsp Onion Powder
1 ½ tsp Sage
1 ½ cups Water, warm
2 Tb Tamari
2 Tb Oil

Tahini Mixture:
1/2 cup Onion, chopped
1 tsp Paprika
2 Tb Oil
½ cup Tahini
¼ cup Nutritional Yeast
2 tsp Salt

Basting Liquid:
2 Tb Sesame oil (toasted)
1 Tb Tamari

Gluten: Mix together all wet ingredients 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. Squeeze out any excess liquid.

Tahini paste: Fry onion in oil until soft and golden. In a small bowl, combine the cooked onion and the paprika, tahini, nutritional yeast and salt.

In food processor, process ¼ of gluten dough and ¼ of tahini mixture. Set in bowl and do the same with the rest of the gluten dough and tahini mixture. Place dough in a greased bread pan if baking alone. If forming dough over stuffing, or to bake with vegetables, place is a 9-inch square baking pan. Pour basting liquid over the roast and bake at 375°F for 1 hour.

Buckwheat Stuffing

I was preparing for a cooking class all about seitan and gluten making when I decided I wanted to make stuffing for the Thanksgiving Gluten Roast. The roast dough is wrapped around the stuffing and it works wonderfully for a Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t have any breadcrumbs though, so I looked around my pantry. I recently discovered Buckwheat Groats even though I knew of them for many years. Buckwheat is almost circular in shape, has a mild flavor, cooks up in a jiffy and is a super nutritious whole grain. The class participants demanded I include the recipe on my blog so here you go!

Basic Buckwheat Stuffing

1 cup Buckwheat Groats, dry
2 cups Vegetable Broth
2 Tb Earth Balance Margarine
3 stalks Celery, chopped
½ cup Onion, chopped
1 tsp Sage, rubbed
1 tsp Parsley
¼ tsp Black Pepper

Cook the buckwheat in the broth until absorbed, about 15 minutes. In a frying pan, melt the margarine and add the celery and onion and cook until soft. Add the cooked buckwheat groats to the celery/onion sauté and add the sage, parsley and pepper, stirring to combine. Serve by itself as a side, or in the recipe for the Thanksgiving Gluten Roast.

The seitan and gluten recipes will be posted next!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cookies for camping

I leave this afternoon to go camping and since I had the day off, I decided to make some cookies for my trip.  I bought some Dandies Marshmallows for the campfire and white chocolate chips for the cookies at Food Fight! today.  I am not a big chocolate fan, so the white chocolate chips are especially great for me.  I also made some Artichoke & White Bean Sauce from my last post for sandwiches and a dip.  

Vanilla Fan Cookies

1 cup Unrefined Cane Sugar
2 Tb. Earth Balance Margarine*
3 Tb. Vegetable Oil
1/3 cup Almond Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 3/4 cups Unbleached White Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup vegan White Chocolate Chips**

Cream together the sugar, oil and margarine.  Add the vanilla and almond milk and blend well.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Blend until barley combined, then add the chocolate chips and blend until combined.

Place by the double tablespoon on a grease cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.  Makes a dozen cookies.

*I used the new soy free Earth Balance in the red tub since I am trying to cut down on soy.
**Regular chocolate chips or vegan peanut chips can be added in this recipe since the white chocolate chips are hard to find.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Portland this weekend

So much potential fun this weekend!  All day Saturday is Veg Fest which will be bigger and better than ever!  Music, food to eat and plenty of samples, food demos and talks galore.  Admission is only $5 for all this.  There will be something for everyone at this event! 

The weather for Sunday is suppose to be nice.  When summer starts to go away I get a little sad, until I remember the great things about fall.  One of my favorite things to do in the fall is going to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens because there are less people in the park and the migrating water birds are showing up.  The most diverse combination of birds are seen around this time of year and I get so excited trying to find some less common sights such as mergansers, ruddy ducks and shovelers.  The air is also fresh and leaves start to change color and it reminds me how beautiful life can be.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Artichokes & Beans

I am trying to cut down on my soy intake.  I have a long love affair with soy ever since going vegan, but too much any anything can be a bad thing.  I think if there is one thing I was told I couldn't eat, soy would have the biggest impact on my food choices.  Luckily, I am just cutting down, not giving it up.  

Almond milk is my favorite milk alternative and there are so many great coconut based vegan ice cream treats will be easy.  However, less soy options for my proteins will be an issue, especially since me and beans are not the best of friends.  Due to this, I am trying to re-develop my relationship with beans and decided to start off with a creamy sauce for pasta.  So far, the new relationship is going well.  

Artichoke & White Bean Sauce 

1 - 15 oz can Great Northern Beans*
1 - 14 oz can Artichoke Hearts, drained**
1 Tb Lemon Juice
2 Tb Olive Oil
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Garlic Granules
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper

Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  If you want a thinner sauce, add some water to desired consistency.

* Cannellini Beans or another white bean will also work great.
** I have found the canned artichoke hearts in water from Trader Joes are good quality and affordable.

I mixed the sauce with 12 ounces of prepared pasta and cooked up a variety of vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms, garlic and spinach) to go on top.  I really enjoyed the combination and look forward to eating more of it this week for my lunch.  This recipe can also be used as a dip or spread.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Carrot Cake!

Birthdays are always a great excuse to celebrate, even if the person isn’t excited about the new number to their age. I remember when I was young, age didn’t really mean much. It was all about doing something fun which was all about me on a certain day. And I got to eat cake. Cake has always been the symbol of celebrating another year of living and with good reason. It is sweet, and moist and soft (hopefully) and can be an adventure since there are so many flavors and ways to dress up it up. For my friend Jacqueline, she requested Carrot Cake and I am so glad she did. I like to add pineapple and a little coconut to my carrot cakes, and no raisins! The results were so perfect I ended up eating two slices that day and getting a little sick from all the sugar. But it was worth it!

Carrot Cake Deluxe

1 ½ cups Organic Raw Sugar
¾ cup Oil
¾ cup Silken Tofu, blended
2 tsp Vanilla
2 cups Unbleached White Flour
1 ½ tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
2 cups Carrot, shredded
8 oz crushed Pineapple, crushed & drained
½ cup Coconut, shredded (unsweetened)
½ cup Pecan Pieces

Mix together the sugar and oil. Add the tofu until smooth. Add the vanilla and mix again. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until barely combined. Add the pineapple, coconut and carrot. Mix until just combined. Spread the batter into two greased 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz Tofutti Cream Cheese
¼ cup Soy Margarine
2 ½ cups Powdered Sugar

Cream together all the ingredients until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if needed for a thicker consistency. Spread on cake and enjoy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It is never easy to say goodbye.

Tasha was the best dog and lived an amazing 16 years.  Even though we never lived together, she always knew I was family.  She liked her freedom and got loose quite frequently.  Getting her back was quite a challenge, but my favorite way was tiring her out by driving around the block in which she’d chase the car.  You’d look in the rear view mirror and she was keeping up even at 25 miles an hour!  Another time she got loose a neighbor complained and my parents had to fight a dangerous dog charge.  The judge dismissed the case so quickly when he learned about how she’s the nicest thing in the world.  We had a rabbit who would often wander the house and you’d find them in the hallway, Tasha laying down with Licorice between her legs while she just licked him.  She will be greatly missed!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yes, the chili is good.

I decided to make a large pot of chili and made so much, I had enough for 4 lunches and to bring it to a potluck. Normally when chili shows up at a potluck I am not excited, but I've experienced many boring chilis in my time. So I was not too surprised when a friend asked me if it was good (of course!) and didn't touch it at first. As soon as she found out the chili contained the Gimme Lean Vegetarian beef, she was reaching for her share. Luckily, she and many others, did enjoy this chili and I hope you do as well. It will make a lot so either cut the recipe in half or plan to have it for lunches for awhile, or bring to a potluck, or both.

So this is the part where I share the recipe.  Um...  I have a bit of a problem.  I am horrible at not losing my recipes.  There are so many other recipes I have wanted to share, but then when I sit down to enter them in my computer, the nice piece of paper with all my notes has disappeared.  I don't believe my house is haunted, so there must be little fairies who take them and enjoy them too much to give back.  So, this is what I approximately did.  It is always best to use spices to your own liking anyway.

Exciting Veggie Chili

1 Tb Oil
1 tube of Gimme Lean "Beef"
1 medium Onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Bell Peppers, chopped
1 15 oz can Kidney Beans
1 - 25 oz can Pinto Beans
1 - 28 oz can Tomatoes, diced
1 cup Tomato Sauce
3 - 4 cups water
1/2 lime, juiced
1 - 4 oz can Green Chiles, chopped
1 Tb Chili Powder
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Garlic Granules
2 tsp Onion Granules
1 tsp Salt

In a large pot, heat the oil on medium heat.  Break apart the gimme lean into the pot.  I keep my hands wet so it does not stick to my hands.  Cover the gimme lean pieces in oil.  Once it starts to brown, add the onion and cook about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and bell pepper and allow to cook a few more minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook about 20 minutes to combine flavors.  For a thicker chili, use less water.  

Monday, August 17, 2009

Last Minute Notice

Tonight I am giving a talk as part of Try Vegan Week. It is about dairy free cooking, baking, pie making and dairy free living in general. Since egg-free baking is a popular inquiry, I will also be discussing that. The best part is, there will be samples!


Hungry Tiger Too (207 SE 12th Ave in Portland)

"Waste of Dairy" talk at 7pm
"Cooking without Dairy" at 8pm.

Here is what I will be samping:

Chocolate Silk Pie

Amazing Cashew Spread

Heavenly Biscuits

Go vegan!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Report Back From San Juan Island

This last week I was on vacation. I went to San Juan Island just north of Seattle where you have to take a ferry to get there. I visited Bellingham, WA first to look at a school there. I am planning on going back to school so that was my first stop. Just a few miles south of Bellingham is a beautiful state park that borders the bay. On the rocks you can find purple starfish. One got caught out of the water and was near death when we found it and put it back in the water.

The ferry in Anacortes was our next stop. A view of a quaint shore with rocks and old piers and wildlife allowed our wait to go quickly. There were blue herons flying and dancing all over which I tried my hardest to catch on camera. I had never seen so much activity from these beautiful creatures before. 

Under every other rock was a crab or tiny hermit crabs. The algae the lined the rocks and piers and everything else along the shore was intricate and colorful, displaying a different world the shore sometimes sees when the tide is in.

While on the ferry, but not yet moving, we discovered a rookery for comerants in the metal framework for the ferry gates. Nests were crammed into tiny spaces while older babies and their parents interacted. I find these birds to be intriguing, but as babies they aren’t the cutest.

The baby seagulls on the other hand, were adorable. We had to rush to the top of the ferry to get a decent shore of these birds and we got there just in time, since the ferry was off for the islands.

San Juan Island is my favorite, since the west shore is a great spot to look for orcas. Once we got to town, we headed in that direction. Almost as soon as we could start looking for orcas, we saw one. He was just swimming by, but it’s an orca! Just seeing this breath taking animals enough to make your day. We followed the orca, running to a good viewing spot of Lime Kiln Park, also know as whale watch park. We got there just in time to watch him go by and get some more pictures.

That night we went back to town in Anacortes after setting up tent at San Juan Park. We read about a pizza place which offered a vegan option, but they only took cash so we ended up going to Golden Triangle, a Thai place. Last time I went to a Thai restaurant I was unfamiliar with, I discovered there was only one menu item I could eat. My first question at the restaurant was vegan options. I was so happy when the owner knew the word vegan, and when I ordered, let me know if something was not vegan. We ended up getting vegetables and tofu with peanut sauce and vegetables and tofu with a garlic sauce. This was the freshest tasting Thai food I’ve had in a long time! The vegetables tasted like they came right out of someone’s garden and included a wide variety of mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and more. I recommend anyone who is looking for a good place to eat while in Friday Harbor, Washington, go to this place! So good!

The rest of the trip we ate sandwiches. A ban on campfires was announced the next day so the other food I was planning was out. I love campfires so I don’t have propane or anything else. Luckily I like sandwiches.

The last full day on San Juan Island was spent with a tour guide from The Whale Museum. She was so knowledgeable and I asked her questions about her field and she was so inspiring to pursue a new career (I’m looking into aquatic sciences). This island and this environment brings me to life so the idea of spending a career around this is thrilling. I didn’t get my close ups with the J-pod (orca family) like I did last time while kayaking, but this was a really great trip!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


This is the month of orange.  I was thinking it was just an orange day, with my friend Liz's birthday and I was making her an orange purse and orange spice cake.  Then I realized orange is all around me.  My cat is orange, my bike is orange, my water bottle is orange, I recently sewed an orangish-yellow top, I got an orange toothbrush from the dentist, the sun, which is orange at time, has been shining strong.  See, lots of orange.  Plus, Liz loves orange, which is why I decided to make her an orange purse for her birthday.  She also loves purses.

Liz requested a long time ago for me to make her an orange spice cake for her birthday.  Some time long ago I guess I made one and she's been requesting it ever since.  I don't remember making that cake she fell in love with, but when I made this cake I re-fell in oranges.  I decided to use fresh squeezed oranges and they were so good!  I accidently ate too many of the oranges so I had to go back to the store to get more.  

Orange Spice Cupcakes

1/2 cup Soy Margarine
1 1/2 cups Organic Raw Sugar
1/2 cup Silken Tofu, blended
1 1/2 cups Orange Juice
Zest of One Orange
1 tsp Vanilla
2 1/4 cups Unbleached White Flour
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1 Tb Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cloves

Orange Cream Frosting:
1/3 cup Soy Margarine
2 cups Powdered Sugar
4-6 Tb Orange Juice
Orange Zest for topping

Cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth.  Add the vanilla and tofu and blend some more.  Pour in the orange juice and blend until incorporated.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and spices.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and blend until just mixed in.  Stir in the zest with a spatula since it will cling to beaters.  Fill cupcake cups about 3/4 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Makes 18 cupcakes.

Frosting:  Blend the powdered sugar and margarine together.  Add the orange juice, a little at a time, until you reached the desired consistency.  Apply the frosting to cooled cupcakes and sprinkle orange zest on top.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cool Down With Creamsicles

Although now the weather is fairly mild, last week the sun was shining and I had to get out my fan to find comfort in me house.  I know it was time to start creating desserts to help cool me down.

This photo does not really give this sweetness justice.  The creamsicle has a mild sweetness, creaminess and really allows the flavor of the fruit you use to come through.  The first time I made this I used strawberries.  So yummy!  For this trial I used cherries.  I don't think you can go wrong with what fruit you use and you can get creative with what you add.  Maybe next time I'll try pineapple and coconut.

Cherry Creamsicles

1 Box Nori Silken Tofu (Firm)
2 cups Cherries (or fruit/berry of choice)
1/2 cup Organic Unrefined Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor.  Pour the mixture into a cup, ice cube tray, popsicle holders and place in freezer.  Allow to freeze for several hours.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fresh Collard Wraps

A couple months ago my friend Liz made some raw collard wraps which I really enjoyed.  I had only made steamed collard rolls before, so I was a little reserved about using it raw.  When I was on my way home from San Francisco this month, we stopped by Green Go's in Redding and I got a collard wrap with veggies and tofu with a sweet pepper sauce.  It was a great reminder about eating raw collards so I decided to make my own when I got back home.

Almost-Raw Collard Wraps

4 Collard Leaves
2 Carrots, shredded
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced long
1/4 Red Onion, sliced long
1 Avocado, sliced
1/2 cup Hummus

Cut the large middle stem from the collard leaf so you will have two pieces of the green.  Each side will provide a separate roll.  About the middle of the collard half, spread out the hummus.  Add a few slices of the bell pepper, onion, avocado and about 2 Tb of shredded carrot.  Roll one side over the insides and continue rolling the leaf until the insides are fully contained.  Repeat this with the rest of the collard leaves.  Makes 8 rolls.

*Use a raw hummus or spread of choice if you would like this to be 100% raw.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Report back from Yosemite

Last week I went on vacation to Yosemite and San Francisco.  I had tons of fun!  I ate some great vegan food at a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant called Andy Nguyen's.  I love camping food so I got to eat lots of sandwiches, kabobs, veggie burgers and even nachos.  Here are some pictures from my Yosemite and Mono Lake visits.  

I think this photo is hilarious!  There were numerous little forest squirrels and chipmunks in Yosemite.  On one grueling uphill hike to Vernal Falls (it was mostly hard since I had been hiking for days) squirrels were posing all over for me.  It was nice to break for the uphill trek to capture their poses. 

This photo I took while eating lunch at a stream just past one of the famous waterfalls in Yosemite Valley.  It was such a tranquil spot to stop and take a break from the crowds, which luckily weren't too bad.

This is Half Dome from a distance.  With binoculars you could see what looks like little ants climbing up the mountain.  We didn't have time to attempt this.  Ha!  Like I would try.  My friend Deanna would have loved to, but hiking as much as we did was enough for me.

Most people spend most of their time in Yosemite valley where all the picturesque waterfall photos are taken.  The rest of Yosemite is quite beautiful as well.  The east side of Yosemite had many amazing mountain sights.

Mono Lake!  Wow, what a place!  I describe it as a photographer's dream.  This was all of our favorite place on the vacation.  The tufas (calcite rock) in the lake are so mesmerizing and reading about the unique ecosystem to the lake was fascinating.  

The weather was perfect for reflections on the lake.  It was hard to see where the lake ended and the sky began.  I couldn't stop taking photos of all the tufa formations, along with the clouds and blue skies.

Beautiful!  Can you ask for any more than tufas and mountains and clouds reflecting in the water?  Visiting Mono Lake is an absolute must!

Swallows and lizards could often be seen at Mono Lake.  We also saw a pair of osprey who may have had a nest on top of a tufa in the lake.  This little swallow was allowing me to get closer and closer to get the perfect shot.

I refer to these flowers as death flowers since they grow from decay.  They are actually called snow plants.  These were pointed out to me to take some photos since they are so unique and only bloom between May-July at certain altitudes.  We had just stopped to join the side of the road commotion of taking photos of a bear.  I got to see a bear!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Coconut Cloud Cupcakes

I went to a friend's wedding on Sunday and it was beautiful! The decorations were hand-made and so creative! On the tables there were magnets made from old scrabble tiles with pretty designs on them for the guests to take home. The centerpiece were white puffs that looked so cute! The cupcakes were displayed on color-coordinated and decorated tiers. I felt privileged to have my cupcakes among them. My friend is not vegan, but she is super vegan friendly and wanted me to bring vegan cupcakes and food for people to enjoy. When I was there I was worried she just asked me to bring the food so I would have something to eat, but then people started to come up to me asking for my Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Spread which I brought with marinated tofu, veggies and bread.

I was super excited for these cupcakes since I had never baked with coconut milk before and found that it allowed the margarine to mix better with the other ingredients and the cupcakes turned out ever more moist and soft than usual! I will definitely be using the coconut milk in my baking again.

Coconut Cloud Cupcakes

Vanilla Cake:
½ cup Soy Margarine
1 ½ cups Organic Raw Sugar
½ cup Silken Tofu
1 ½ cups Coconut Milk
2 tsp Vanilla
2 ½ cups Unbleached White Flour
1 Tb Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt

Coconut Frosting:
1/3 cup Margarine
2 cups Powdered Sugar
½ cup Shredded Coconut
2-5 Tb. Coconut Milk

Cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth.  Add the vanilla and blend, then the tofu and blend some more.  Pour in the coconut milk and blend until incorporated.  Add the flour, baking power and salt and blend until just mixed in.  Fill greased muffin tins, or cupcake cups about 2/3 full with batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  When cupcakes are done, the top should spring back when lightly touched.  

Frosting: Blend the powdered sugar and margarine together.  Add coconut milk, a little at a time, until you reach the desired texture.  Add in the shredded coconut.  When frosting the cupcakes, dip the frosted top in more shredded coconut.

Makes 18 cupcakes.