Day 26: Rained in, Snowed in

  

Today’s Vegan MoFo Theme: You’re snowed in and can only use ingredients in your household. What do you make?

Brainstorming ideas for this topic, I just thought to myself about foods I used to make in college. Pastas and stir fry were both easy things for me to create, though back then they probably tasted like garbage. They are both something you can wander around your kitchen, pull pretty much anything off your shelves, and make (an at least okay-tasting) dish with. You have to try pretty hard to jack this up.

It doesn’t ever rain in California. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we are pretty sepia out here. When I moved here the grass

Yeah, we are f**'d.
Yeah, we are f**’d.
was green, trees were flourishing, and everyone had smiles on their faces. Now people’s houses are burnt down, all the grass is dead, and the trees are slowly dying too. It’s a pretty dire situation, and besides price increase in certain items and water, we haven’t specifically been affected as of yet, luckily. Before I continue on this tangent, my point is that we don’t ever get rained in, or snowed in for that matter, though snow does fall in some parts of California (just not here).

Instead of rained in/snowed in, I am often “lazy’d”-in. Meaning I am too tired to put on clothes and leave the house. It’s my inner teenager coming out, but I know you all do it too, so I ain’t ashamed! This was conveniently one of those nights, and went right along with our theme here for the Vegan Month of Food (that’s almost over! omg). If you’re ever at home, and have no idea what to make… the most basic of basics is to stir fry some veggies. Even if you only have one kind, like lettuce, you cannot go wrong. Tonight I had quite a few; bean sprouts, carrots, bamboo, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, red onion, and green onion. Not to mention I (surprise!) had some flat noodles too! Do you ever find something you didn’t know was in there? Thank you pantry.

Once you chop everything up (the labor part…), start by putting your tougher veggies into your wok, like the cauliflower, carrots,FullSizeRender etc. Once those break down a little, add the softer items like cabbage and spinach. Sautee on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, then stir in your sauce. The sauce doesn’t look like a lot at first, but it spreads out pretty evenly among everything once you toss it in the wok.

The sauce is as easy as dumping all of the following into a bowl, swirling with a spoon, and dumping on your veggies, post stir-fry:

  • 3 tablespoons peanut/almond/cashew butter (we used almond)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (mmmmmmm..)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (we like it HOT)

You can serve this on anything you have; white rice, brown rice, soba noodles, hell… even spaghetti would work. You’re trapped in your house remember, so times are desperate! What did you all make?

– E&E

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Day 25: pick a food, any food…

Vegan MoFo theme of the day: Share your fave cuisine!

Erin and I discussed this topic together today. What could we make? What is (together) our favorite cuisine? What could top those empanadas we made last night (which were killer, my husband is asking for them already again)? 

Choosing a favorite cuisine is really tough. Some people imagine that the vegan diet is really limited, and that our favorite cuisine would be something like “SALAD… With water as a dressing”. It’s quite the opposite though. I love empanadas and flautas, but I also love miso and sushi, juk and bibimbap, pakora and samosas, all kinds of shit, you name it! All things you imagine a vegan couldn’t eat can be made vegan nowadays and it’s never been a better time to switch to a plant-based lifestyle. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES ANY MORE, people. 

For me, I don’t think I could choose just one favorite cuisine. So many are fitting to my lifestyle. When I first became vegetarian, and even my early veganism, I preferred Thai and Indian food above all else, mostly due to the wide range of options they had for special eaters like me. My sister and I also discovered a type of food called Buddhist Mountain Cuisine, and diet held by some traditional Buddhist monks, especially in Korea. It is easy on the stomach and vegan. We stumbled into a Korean restaurant in New York’s Korea town, Hangawi, and were exposed to this type of cuisine a few years back (definitely hit this place up if you are visiting Manhattan). 

Nowadays things are different though. I don’t feel restricted by food boundaries, or what others think I should eat, and whatever I prepare by my own hand becomes my favorite type of cuisine. I get the most amazing sense of accomplishment if I cook something that actually tastes GOOD. Doesn’t everyone? And nowadays that happens more and more often (phew!).  Eating out is fun too, but I find myself at work daydreaming about what I’d like to cook that night, instead. It’s a complete 180 from me 5, 10 years ago, who had no passion or interest in cooking. 

So, long answer short, I just wasted your time in reading this to say that I don’t quite know what my favorite is anymore. My favorite is ELLY cuisine, made by me. And when going out to eat, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, Indian, Lebanese, Italian, all top that list. Eating has become such a pleasure over the past few years, and since going from vegetarian to vegan. Did this happen to anyone else?

Cheers!

– E&E

Day 24: Empanadas for the Pope

Vegan Mofo Theme:What [insert well known person] would eat if they were vegan.

Plated

If you reside in the United States, you’ve probably heard the Pope is in town! We thought the Pope would be pretty down with the whole idea of compassionate eating and we wanted to show him that it would be super easy to remake some popular favorites from his heritage in a vegan fashion. I can’t quite vouch for the true authenticity, but our meal tonight was certainly inspired by traditional Argentinian favorites!

You never eat alone
If you live in a Catholic household…you’ll never eat alone. Also, we aren’t sure if the Pope likes Yerba Mate, but it’s an Argentinian speciality that we were inspired to try for the first time today. Yum!

This recipe is truly forgiving; substitute your heart away. Don’t have sweet potato on hand? Use regular potato. No green onions?  Red, white, yellow, or more garlic (fakemeat&truelove, we’re talking to you and your love of elephant garlic here) will do fine. If cilantro tastes like soap to you (I’m so sorry), use parsley-it’s truer to traditional chimichurri anyways. Go wild with your spices people and have fun in the kitchen!

Without further ado-I give you our veggie empanadas with chimichurri sauce!

Ingredients-Empanada Filling

  • 1 cup sweet potato, diced (we used about half of a large potato)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (we used up some leftover frozen corn and two fresh ears)
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large handful spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients-Empanada Dough (Adapted from The Kitchn)

  • 1 flax seed “egg” (2 Tablespoons ground flax seed mixed with 3 Tablespoons water)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (additional all-purpose is fine to sub, but the whole wheat lends a great nuttiness to the crust)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted cold butter spread, cubed (we used earth balance)
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus more as needed
  • Melted butter spread for brushing

Ingredients-Chimichurri 

  • 1 bunch cilantro (stems and all)
  • 3-4 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons vinegar (we used regular white because that’s what we had on hand; red or white wine vinegar would be pleasant too-but you might need to bump up the amount since they are a little milder in flavor)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • FillingMake the filling: Spread chopped sweet potato on a roasting pan, spray/drizzle with a little oil, and place in a 400 degree oven to roast for 15-20 minutes, while you prep your other filling ingredients.
  • Heat a little oil in a pan over medium heat, add garlic, and sauté until the garlic becomes a little fragrant. Add in corn kernels and green onions and cook until corn becomes tender (3-5 mins). Add in spinach and spices and cook for an additional 30 seconds or so until the spinach has wilted slightly. Turn off the heat. Remove your roasted sweet potato from the oven and mix into the rest of the veggies. Set aside the filling until you are ready to make your empanadas.
  • Make the dough: Mix up your flax seed egg in a small bowl and set aside while you gather your dry ingredients. In a large bowl measure out your flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter, your hands, two knives, or an electric mixer, cut cold butter into the flour until it resembles the consistency of small peas. Add the flax seed egg and the cold water and mix until the dough holds together. Adjust with more water, about a Tablespoon at a time, if the dough is not coming together or more flour, if the dough is too sticky.
  • Filling+DoughAssemble your empanadas: Grabbing a small handful of dough each time, roll it into a ball with floured hands and roll out into a circle using a rolling pin, aiming for a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch. Spoon filling into the center of the dough. Wet the inner edge of one half of the dough, fold the other half over and press edges firmly together to shape your empanada. Place empanadas on a lightly greased, or parchment paper lined, baking sheet. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, gently brush/rub empanadas with melted butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the crust is slightly brown around the edges.
  • Make Chimichurri: Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined, with small flecks of cilantro remaining (about 10 -12 pulses).

This dish makes approximately eight medium empanadas with a little extra filling left (enough to feed about 4 humans, or 3 if they’re hungry). These will also reheat wonderfully in a toaster oven/regular oven if you have leftovers.

Enjoy (compassionately!) by dipping your empanadas in the chimichurri and serving with some chilled Yerba Mate (another Argentinian speciality).

-E & E

Day 23: Banana Pumpkin Bread

Vegan Mofo Theme of the Day: Autumn equinox eats.

Whether it be cookies, cake, brownies, or bread, I’ve always had an affinity to lick the spatula and bowl clean after baking. I mean come on, you don’t want any of that dessert or carb goodness going to waste! I used to live on the edge-tempting my luck with any batter (sorry Mom, if you’re reading this), but one of the upsides of going vegan is I will never again feel guilty for my raw habit. And you’ll definitely want to sneak a spoonful of this batter before baking-full of pumpkin and autumn goodness-here is our fall twist on banana bread.

Recipe adapted from Vegan Pumpkin Bread by Amy in the Kitchen.

DSCN2226Ingredients-Dry

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/12 cups whole wheat flour (optional-just use more all purpose flour if you don’t have it on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon*
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    *if you can find whole spices and grind them yourself you will be amazed at how their flavor shines through versus pre-ground ones


DSCN2227Ingredients-Wet

  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 + 2 Tablespoons water
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 x 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • First, make your flax seed “egg” by combining ground flax seeds and water in the bottom of a medium bowl. Let sit while you get your dry ingredients together, or until the flax seeds soak up the water and the mixture becomes gooey.
  • Measure out your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the rest of your wet ingredients to the bowl with the flax seeds and mix until combined. If you don’t mind chunks of banana in your bread, feel free to let the power of an electric or stand mixer break them up. If you want a more uniform consistency, mash your bananas with a fork first.
  • DSCN2228Dump your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Don’t over-mix! Count to ten and walk away! Just walk away! (Otherwise your going to have a chewy, gummy loaf syndrome. If you’d like more information on preventing that terrible disease and a science lesson, check out the ever-knowledgeable Alton Brown on the Muffin Method.)
  • Spoon mixture into a greased loaf pan. Bake for approximately 1 hour until a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean.
  • Lick your spatula and bowl and enjoy some Good Eats reruns while waiting for your bread to bake. (Optional, but highly suggested)
  • Let the bread cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and let it cool completely on a cooling rack.
  • Take into work tomorrow and share with your non-vegan coworkers to remind them how awesome vegan baking can be! (Also optional, but again, highly suggested if you don’t devour it on your own)

DSCN2235

Happy Autumn!

-E&E

Day 21 – Being Stranded Ain’t So Bad..

Today’s Vegan MoFo theme: “What three endless food supplies would you take if you were going to be stranded on an island? (Imagine your nutritional needs have been met, these are a bonus!)”

For this post, I’m really taking the “stranded on an island” thing to heart. This means no oven, no dishes, no stove, microwave, blender, etc… If I had to be stranded somewhere with no method to cook and all of my nutritional needs were met, I would eat fruit for the rest of my life! Fruit is something I never tire of. I try to eat at least one fully raw meal each day, and recently those meals have consisted entirely of fruit. The longest I consistently ate only raw was for two weeks, and I have never in my life felt so clean and refreshed each morning. I didn’t need coffee, I was happier, and my body completely changed. It was like a cleanse without the deprivation, and the thing I ate more than anything was fruit. Two social media women (that many of you are probably familiar with) that I really enjoy reading and learning from are Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram (FullyRaw Kristina, who also does posts in Español!) and Freelee the Banana Girl. I especially liked watching Freelee’s recent trip to Thailand and her fruit adventures there. She is a brave voice for animals that I really respect.

I like to imagine, for this scenario, that I end up shipwrecked on an island where there is bountiful amounts of my three favorite fruits; nectarines, lychee, and bananas. Not only are they my favorite, but I also feel they each have such a different consistency that I wouldn’t get bored for a long while. I once at a nectarine that was so juicy, and I was so hungry when I ate it, that I nearly cried. It was the best piece of fruit I have ever had in my life, and I would want that with me on this imaginary island. Hopefully I will have a basketball or something around to draw a funny face on and make friends with, or meet some turtles and dolphins to hang out with too. A girl’s gotta stay busy, right?

IMG_6013I think this was a tough prompt to think about, especially since you can be so creative with how ‘stranded’ you really are. How many of you took this to heart like I did? What are your favorite fruits? And what magical creatures did you make as friends on your island? Until tomorrow… Cheers!

– E&E

Day 20 – Veganizing Things

Today’s Vegan MoFo theme is to veganize an “old family recipe”. Last night I cooked, and today we went for brunch, and so I have two amazing items to talk about.

FullSizeRender(12)
Thug Kitchen’s Ravioli Recipe

Growing up I can never remember anyone in my family preparing their own pasta. So sorry, Mom, I didn’t end up veganizing one of your recipes. Last night I made my own ravioli, instead. While ravioli is not my family’s tradition to make, it IS really old school. How old, you might ask? I read a few different sources tracing it to the 14th century in Italy, or the 11th century in the Arabic world. If that isn’t traditional, I don’t know what is! For dinner last night I put in some serious labor. Thug Kitchen‘s cookbook has a great recipe for ravioli. A few months ago when I got the book, it was the first time I had made pasta EVER. There is something so satisfying though about making your own tofu ricotta, house marinara, and preparing the pasta dough and each individual pouch. The effort poured into a dish like this gives that same special home-made feel that you would receive from a meal your grandparents made.

Today after morning mass we finally made it to Mesa Verde in Santa Barbara. They are a mostly-vegan restaurant (they offer eggs for some reason, but there is nothing else animal-based on their menu). For an appetizer we had the hummus with zatar flat bread. I am a huge fan of zatar, and definitely a hummus snob ever since spending a few months in the Middle East. Even so, I loved the seasoning on the flat bread and the harissa sprinkled into the hummus. For our meals I had the empanadas (a vegan version of a traditional Spanish food) while

Mesa Verde's 'ABLT' on seasoned flatbread
Mesa Verde’s ‘ABLT’ on seasoned flatbread

my husband had the ‘ABLT’ (avocado, tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato). I asked my spouse for a comparison between his tempeh bacon and real bacon, and to my surprise he said that although it tasted different, he enjoyed it a lot.

Another reason I like the idea of “veganizing” familiar items is that it helps to introduce new vegans to the lifestyle. Last night we watched the documentary “Cowspiracy” which has finally been released on Netflix. I could talk about it at length, but what I really wanted to mention (for the sake of this post) are the companies interviewed in the documentary, including Beyond Meat and Plant-based Eggs. While I am not a fan of egg-like and meat-like substitutes, products like these are important in revolutionizing the way people think about their diets. With companies like this, there is literally no excuse to not go vegan. You’ll miss the taste? There is a replacement. You’ll miss the dishes you enjoy? There is a replacement. When Chipotle, who champions using animal products in their meals, offered a FREE sofritas burrito to anyone who would try it, I was shocked. A meaty company was encouraging meat-eaters to try a meat substitute, FOR FREE, and I hope in the future there are more companies open to this idea. Veganizing recipes you are familiar with like ravioli, like the ‘BLT’, shows people that vegan lifestyle isn’t about depriving, it is about surviving.

– E&E

vegan-30-days

Day 17/18

Vegan Mofo Theme: Make (or eat!) a traditional local dish. & Honor a human or non human animal who inspires your veganism.

LM-Web-Glass-with-CoasterA lot of people think of California as the wine capitol of the New World, but here in the Central Coast area, beer is just as big of a local-fest. Last night I went out for a few work events, both hosted at hometown craft breweries: Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Figueroa Mountain Brewery. Firestone Walker had a great tasting room where they were experimenting with some lovely new sour style beers. I’d never tried a sour beer before and I was pleasantly surprised. I’m sorry I have minimal pictures to share (I need to invest in a camera of some type if blogging becomes more of a habit); to elaborate, each of the sour beers I tried had lovely shades of pink or red due to the fruit added to them. My favorite was a cherry-infused Saison style that was brewed with peppercorns. I ended up not drinking anything at Figueroa Mountain (I was driving and we are all about responsible consumption here!) but I have tried their Lizard’s Mouth Imperial IPA before and for someone who dislikes almost all IPA’s-this one is so yummy and unique. The first time I tried it, I described it to my husband akin to “feeling like you are drinking a field of wildflowers.” The aroma is pretty amazing (up there with the smell of tomato vines…anyone with me on that weird olfactory addiction?).

When it comes to honoring someone who inspires my veganism there are some amazing women I need to mention. To begin with, my Aunt Amanda. For someone so young (she’s only 10 years older than me), she has so much insight and wisdom to share. She was into the whole local and sustainable food movement way before it was a thing and was the first person to introduce the idea of vegetarianism to me. She lent me Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which was the first book I read in my adult life that made me confront the facts about factory-farming. And she paved the way within our family for understanding each other’s food choices (thankfully my family has always been very accepting of my vegan lifestyle-but I think it took way less explaining thanks to the amount of conversations about food we’d already had).

Secondly, my blogging partner in crime, Elly. Her accepting attitude is what drove me to understand and learn more about veganism and ultimately go vegan myself. She continues to inspire me everyday!

486171_380449915366699_1323729281_nAnd third, my sister Connie. This chick is a farm gal and sees the beauty in animals from baby goats to draft horses. I always loved going on the trip to pick her up from horse camp at the end of the summer and see how well she worked together with such massive and majestic creatures. She also inspires me because she went vegan after educating herself about it! I think it takes someone truly strong to open their mind to something new and different and then decide to change their actions to match their values. And in fact, that sums up all these amazing women-they are women who are educated, empowered, and go out of their way to support their values. What wonderful humans to be surrounded and inspired by!

-E&E