So I spent the day today preparing to go away on a business trip and in doing so, was required to spend some time cooking. I do this for two reasons: I do not want my DH to spend the next week eating Little Debbie snack cakes & Snickers bars but also to supplement my own diet while I am in the great unknown. I am going to Fargo, ND and I am willing to bet there are not alot of cool vegan friendly restaurants, so I bring my own stuff, afterall there is only so much salad a girl can eat.

Funny thing about this trip is that it is actually a sales and marketing thing for Microsoft and when you sign up, part of the process is to indicate any special requirements you have: wheelchair lift, equipment for the hearing impaired and of course, dietary. I am not deaf nor do I require the use of a wheelchair, but I am vegan, so... Jasmine, presumably one of the coordinators of this event called me late friday afternoon and inquired as to what exactly is vegan. She's going through all the meals and making sure there will be something I can eat. I thought this was very kind and unusually considerate, yes? The thing that I actually found funny was that she, like so many others I'm sure are completely unaware of what they eat. During the rundown of the food, she told me that for breakfast I would have to skip the eggs and sausage, but at least there would be muffins for me to eat... no, muffins generally have butter, eggs, maybe even milk... oh, she hadn't thought of that.

It is certainly not my intent to make fun of her or anyone else, and I do know that veganism is not for everyone, but I cannot help but feel if the average person was more aware of what they put in their mouth, the less disease and obesity we would have.

So, back to today's cooking. I made a double batch of oatmeal raisin cookies, pumpkin spice bread for my DH and then banana bread with chocolate chips for myself. Ok, I did sneak some of the cookies into my suitcase, but Bo got the most of them. I also made an interesting twist on an Oriental noodle bowl, presumably to feed him for a few nights this week.


The Oriental noodle bowl was a spicy peanutty sauce with all the veggies I could find, all tossed with soba noodles.


The sauce was made up of:
  • minced onions, sauteed until translucent
  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 3/4 cup Thai chili sauce
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha chili sauce
  • 1/3 cup organic peanut butter

I simmer this for about 30 minutes, then I add

  • 1/4 lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

The veggies I added, after stir frying were:

  • 1 coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 coarsely chopped orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, blanched for 1 minute
  • 8 carrots, chopped diagonally
  • 1 zucchini, coarsely chopped

And then finally the noodles were just a package of buckwheat soba noodles that I found in the organic section of Hannaford. After everything was mixed together, I through some scallions on top. Yummilicious!


Reactions: 

Summer harvest rocks!

Posted on 2:13 PM In: , ,

There are so many things to love about summer, but by far, my favorite thing is readily available fresh produce, including from my own garden! although happily, there are several farmer's markets available to supplement where my meager gardening attempts fail!)

Well, it's a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I have nothing to do, so instead of being outside like most Maine folk (who know what winter is just around the corner) I took today to cook!

Because I have an abundance of ripe tomatoes from my garden, I decided to make a sauce, either for immediate consumption or for freezing for those cold winter days. I started with about 15 medium sized tomatoes...



Tammy's Tomato Basil Sauce

15 medium sized tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 habanero pepper

  1. First, I skinned and seeded the tomatoes, then chopped them roughly.
  2. Add tomatoes and finely chopped basil leaves to a large stockpot and bring to a simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, finely chop onion, mince garlic and finely chopped habanero pepper to a small fry pan with oil oil and saute until onions are translucent.
  4. Add onion mix to tomatoes, cover and let simmer for 2 hours. Buon appetito!

So, while I waited for my sauce to be ready, my rumbling stomach reminded me I needed lunch. So I scrounged through my refrigerator and sound ingredients to make a yummy veggie wrap.

I started with a sun-dried tomato wrap and covered it with out 1/3 cup of my homemade red pepper hummus, then I piled on cucumber slices, quartered grape tomatoes, brocco sprouts and some blanched asparagus, folded it up, put it on my panini maker for a couple of minutes and voila - lunch is served!




Reactions: 

What to do with all that zucchini...

Posted on 8:36 PM In:
I have a small garden where I plant what I feel are my essentials... tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, more tomatoes, hot pepper and zucchini. As anyone else who has ever planted zucchini, you end up having more than you can use, so you have to start getting creative with what you cook. In addition to being plentiful sometimes they grow 12 inches in one night... slight exaggeration, but zucchini is one of those examples where smaller tends to be better. So, what to do with plentiful, over sized zucchini? Stuff 'em! I took three over sized specimens tonight and did just that!

I started with concocting the stuffing, mainly from leftover stuff and this is roughly the recipe:

1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 cups brown rice, cooked
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off
1 bell pepper, diced
1 can cannelloni beans
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T dried basil
spaghetti sauce
  1. Saute onions with garlic until onions are translucent.
  2. Combine onions with right, corn, pepper, beans, spices and approx 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce
  3. Cut the zucchini lengthwise, remove seeds and blanch the zucchini for 1 minute.
  4. In a large baking dish, put approx 1 cup of water, then lay zucchini halves in. Fill each zucchini with stuffing. using approx another cup of spaghetti sauce, cover the stuffed zucchini.
  5. Cover Pan with aluminum foil, cutting a couple slits in it to allow steam to escape.
  6. Bake at 375 for approx 30 minutes - serve.

It was really good. With my next batch of over sized zucchini, I might try a Mexican twist and instead use black beans, cilantro, salsa and of course some hot peppers for good measure.

Reactions: 

Day 60

Posted on 1:26 PM In: ,
I cannot believe it is Day 60 of this 30 day experiment. In all honesty, I guess I have to stop calling it an experiment and call it what it is: a life change.

Over the past two months, I have developed some new habits and found new restaurants to frequent. I read labels alot more... anything with more than 8 ingredients, I generally do not bother. Have you ever read labels consistently? I work part-time in a retail store that specializes in high-end cooking implements as well as many food items. I have been shocked and disappointed in how many of the food items contain animal products. What on earth does CHICKEN STOCK add to a Artichoke Lemon Pasta Sauce? It's been an education. I have come to the conclusion that perhaps this high-end store I work at doesn't put as much emphasis on high-end food as I would have thought it did.

I have really enjoyed the cooking end of things. Although, I have to say I wish I had more self-created inspiration instead of having to rely on cookbooks so much. I sometimes follow recipes to the letter, but more often than not, I use them as inspiration and put my own twist on the creation. Most recently, I have made alot of sorbets. Who needs ice cream when you can have fresh berry sorbet, right? I just made a blackberry version which was really good. I took 3/4 raw sugar and combined it with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. I brought it to a boil, stirring constantly and allowed it to boil for one minute. Then I put the mixture in the refrigerator to allow it to cool completely. meanwhile, I take about 5 cups of blackberries and puree in a food processor, then push through a sieve and then finally through cheese cloth to remove the seeds (lots of seeds in blackberries!). Once the syrup is coll, I combine it with my pulverized berries, add it to my ice cream machine and let it run for 30 minutes. I have also read that you can accomplish the same result without the addition of the ice cream machine. Simply add the fruit and syrup to a large Ziploc bag, then put this beg into another large Ziploc bag full of ice. Then, take this bag-in-a-bag and shake it around for 30 minutes. Either way, put the finished product in the freezer and in an hour or so, voila - sorbet! Healthy, refreshing and most importantly - delicious!!


Reactions: 

Sunday Brunch

Posted on 2:47 PM In:
So, since I've gone vegan, my brunch options have been nill. What's so hard about making a vegan waffle or blueberry pancake folks? Pre-vegan, my hubbie and I were regulars at The Frog and Turtle for, among other meals, brunch. One of my favorite parts about brunch was the Bloody Mary. Now, it's not just any Bloody Mary... it is a fantastic, mood altering, spicy concoction... best I've ever had.

Well, my favorite barkeep, Ian, seized the challenge and made me a vegan batch. So, guess where we had brunch this past Sunday? Granted, I had fruit for the meal part which wasn't exactly filling, despite how delicious and beautiful it was, but my Mary put a smile on my face all the same!

Now I just have to work on James and those vegan pancakes!


Reactions: 

Grand Plans

Posted on 10:56 AM
So, my grand plans of cooking and experimenting this week fell by the wayside. I figured with my husband away for the week, I'd have time, right? Well... Monday night I grocery shopped and went to the gym, Tuesday night I worked @ WS, Wednesday night I had dinner and a margarita at my favorite eating drinking establishment, Frog & Turtle and then Thursday night, he was home!

I did however make some banana bread that turned out really nice. I also made some preserves, this time it was strawberry blueberry jam.... yum!


Every day of being a vegan is a learning experience. I just found out yesterday I cannot have Worcestershire sauce. I think I knew it had anchovies in it, but I think I forgot or blocked it out because of my deep seeded hatred of anything aquatic (to eat that is... love the animals - really) because once my very favorite bartender told me he'd make me a special batch of vegan Bloody Mary's for me for Sunday's brunch, I was perplexed for a minute and then when he brought out the bottle, it didn't come as a surprise.

Ya, so that's all I got. Another fairly uneventful week in my world.

Reactions: 

Who's the worst blogger ever?

Posted on 11:43 AM In: , ,
Well, that's easy! me... (ahem)

So, here it is, the 3rd freakin' week of July. I say it every year... oh hell, everyone says it every year... summers go by way too quickly.

Since my last post:

1) We have gone to Boston for our anniversary... and tried several vegan restaurants, all varying in levels of fantasticness. My fav was Addis Red Sea Ethiopian restaurant. Neither Bo nor I had ever eaten Ethiopian, but once we got used to the tiny little chairs, the table, the lack of utensils, we were fine! On a scale from 1 to 5, I'd give it a 3.75. I'd def go back, I just may order differently. Others that we tried include Grezzo (raw, vegan food, very good, phenomenal dessert but over priced) and The Grasshopper, which was ok, but not outstanding.
2) I went to Vermont for the Brewer's Fest in Burlington. I had fun, it was good seeing old friends from my previous life.

I've also been cooking, reading and berry picking!

As far as cooking is concerned, I have been doing a lot of experimenting with items I pick up at the farmer's markets as well as recipes from my newest cookbooks. My garden has also come alive with zucchini! I made a vegan zucchini bread, which was fanfreakintastic, recipe originating from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I resist the urge to freely post a recipe, because I want you to buy the books and support the folks who work so hard to put them together, but that being said, if you send me an e-mail, I will send you the recipe... but I still think you should buy the book! I also made some fried plantains with black bean dipping sauce from one of my other fav cookbooks from Cafe Sunflower. I have pictures of neither because, well, I am still a blogger in training and it does not always occur to me to take pictures... I'll get better, I promise.

On to reading... at the suggestion of the parents of a friend of mine, I am now reading The China Study and have been for a while. Truth be told, once I got back from ATL, I have not had a lot of time to read. But, I have the best of intentions of getting back at it this week. fantastic book, it'll change your life if you are open to it.




Berry picking... strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, oh my! I have a number of strawberries frozen and have made both raspberry and strawberry jam. The jams were a bit of a challenge. I'm off the white sugar and I will not use the artificial stuff (Splenda, Nutrasweet, etc) so what to sweeten the jam with? You need sugar for it to set. I have opted for turbinado sugar, but would be interested in suggestions of anyone has any.


Lastly, there are a few things that I have recently discovered and feel strongly about that I would like to share here:
  • Blue Mango Veggie Burgers - very tasty, absolutely delicious
    I think that's it... you are up-to-date. I have some serious cooking plans this week, so stay tuned for a more successful effort at picture taking and posting.
  • Maria & Ricardo's Tortilla Factory wraps - yummy, elastic-y, makes it easy to stuff 'em with the good stuff, then slam 'em in my panini press. I got Sundried Tomato... would be interested in knowing what other flavors they come in. I called the company and they aren't a lot of help as they sell through distributors and the guy I talked to told me they only had white and whole wheat... what?!? (no website that I found, but I bought them at Lois' Natural Marketplace in Scarborough)
  • Healthy Living Market on Dorset St in Burlington, VT. They are kinda like a WFM, but are smaller, have a eat-in deli / cafe area and carry some really cool stuff that I have yet to see at WFM... like lots (10 maybe) of different flavored tofu / tempeh...BBQ was the only one I can recall but they all looked fantastic. Their bulk area was also way cooler with more choices for grains and pilafs.

Well, I believe that concludes my rambling. Stay tuned as I have some serious cooking plans this week and I will be more diligent about my pictures.
Ciao!


Reactions: 

1 Month off the juice...

Posted on 10:46 AM In: ,
Ok, not really juice, but Diet Pepsi. Today is my one month anniversary since I have ingested a DP... pretty cool!

Bo and I went to Atlanta last week and my in-laws were great about trying to accommodate my eating preferences. On our last full day there, Mom and Dad wanted to eat someplace Vegan,. so they could see what it was like. We found this fabulous restaurant in Buckhead called Cafe Sunflower. I cannot wait to go back! My FIL even had desert - a chocolate peanut butter pie which he LOVED and it was mostly tofu... go dad! Everyone really enjoyed their meals. Truth be told, the only one I was concerned about was dad.

I have started reading this book called The China Study. Wow... did you know they (the rest of the world) refers to cancer and heart disease as WESTERN DISEASES. OMG... this was news to me... kinda scary news. How is it that the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, the one who spends the most on health care lays claim to the most horrible diseases?!? It's our diet and lifestyle. The more I read this book, the more I want everyone I love to be vegan. It has definitely shown me how people can become extremists and even preachy about the subject... this is some really scary shit!

About my veganism... I am loving it! I am excited about the foods I can cook and the new veggies I can incorporate into my diet. I know I do not have to be vegan to have to do this, but it has been a great motivator. During my recent trip to Atlanta, I also found 2 new cookbooks: the cookbook from Cafe Sunflower (of which I was excited to see they have included many recipes from their restaurant) and also The Joy of Vegan Baking, which has some fabulous recipes for everything from biscuits and cornbread to apple and pumpkin pies.

Bo is also being amazingly supportive. Do you know he actually requested soy half-n-half for his coffee the other day when we were at the grocery store. It means so much to me that he is being so wonderful and supportive about this. How lucky am I??

I guess that's all for now.

Reactions: 

Little Lad's Herbal Corn is Crack Corn

Posted on 9:11 PM In:
it is zesty and spicy and delicious and has all of the addictive characteristics of crack... can't get enough.

Reactions: 

Day 19 - Holy Strawberries Batman!!

Posted on 7:51 PM In: ,
So, what does one do with 12 1/2 lbs of fresh picked strawberries? Back in the old days, I made shortcake... today I freeze them while I figure it out. I will make some jam once I find the right type of pection, I see some smoothies in my future... and probably some strawberry margaritas!

I had one of the most amazing discoveries this week - Silly's! My girlfriend Jen came down from L-Town to visit and I wanted to try out someplace new for dinner, and also someplace where she wouldn't go on her own as she does not come to Portland that often. I had read about Silly's in a few spots so I decided to give it a shot. Holy yummers! I had the special, which was called the Farmer Boy - a veggie burger on focaccia with vegan spicy sauce with hand-cut french fries with more vegan spicy sauce. Then, Jen had another special called Corntastic that was this bowl of Mexican food... corn tortillas with some ground beef... I saw cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole and she loved it! We had a couple of beers and because they were on my trusty PDA (Portland Dine Around) we dined on the cheap, not that it would have broken the bank full-boat.

This whole thing with my other half and what I have "done to him" because of my choice to be vegan doesn't seem to be going away. In a fit of rage today, he advised me that he didn't marry a vegan... I will stop there with the rest of what we said to each other, but it only went downhill from there. I have no idea if anyone is even reading this, but if you are, and you have had or currently have similar challenges, I would love some advice. I always accommodate his desire to still eat meat and cheese with what I prepare for dinner, so it's not like he's choking on the veggies... and I have not even brought tofu into the house, I just don't get it. If your spouse is making a choice that is improving their health and potentially removing some of their chronic pain from the equation, why wouldn't you be happy about it?!?!? Is it just me or is this really too much to expect of your spouse?

Reactions: 

Day 16

Posted on 8:29 AM In: ,
It's Day 16 and I'm not wavering. I feel good, my back doesn't hurt as consistently as it used to when I got out of bed and... I'm wearing clothes I have not worn in some time. Sweet!

The past few days have been very challenging though. Saturday I went to the veg food fest at USM and I really enjoyed it... tried some great food, joined a vegan meetup in an effort to expand my like-minded friends. The food was catered by The Pepper Club and it was all scrumptious. Then Sunday came... Ever since I started this new lifestyle, we have been in search for a brunch place that could accommodate. Now I understand having anything close to breakfast without cheese or eggs is going to be a challenge, but I am not completely discouraged. So, we went to The Good Egg, which is The Pepper Club's morning-time alter-ego. I was so disappointed. The only thing I could eat was granola with fruit - they were even out of rice milk! The granola was pretty good, but the fruit was melon... who eats cantaloupe with their granola?? I wanted berries. I got cantaloupe. Oh, and it was $7. grumble. grumble. grumble. Needless to say, I left disappointed and hungry. Then my biggest challenge yet: Last night, I went to a going away party and I loved all the food there, but aside from a plate of grapes and strawberries, it was all off limits. (My disclaimer: this was a private party of meat loving folks, so I fully expected to not be able to partake in the food. It's one of those things us vegans have to learn to live with - no biggie! But knowing who cooked it and how freakin' delicious it was was challenging all the same.) But, the good news is that I stuck to it and ate some delicious rice and lentils when I got home. Phew!

The reward? This morning, I got up with no back pain and while getting ready for work, I put on a pair of capris that I have not comfortably worn all spring. Nice!

Ciao!

Reactions: 

I don't watch Oprah...

Posted on 7:12 AM In: ,
... but unless you live in a cave, you can't help but hear someone, somewhere make reference to her. I was reading a recent blog and I read something about Oprah going vegan for 21 days (wimp... apparently she can't commit to the 30 days like yours truly). Then, I was at the gym on Thursday, I heard some verbiage from a preview for one of those TV magazine shows that led me to believe she was done her 21 days of veganism. So I was curious...

I went to oprah.com and checked her blog on her 21 day "fast" and verified she is indeed done. I was curious what she did, why she did it and what the end results were. Bottom line, she did this fast as a result of reading a book, she was happy to be done and she was looking forward to adding meat and Bordeaux back to her diet. I can't relate.


Day 12

First of all, I have not eliminated alcohol from my diet. Not that I am a big drinker, but knowing I can have a beer or a glass of wine when I want to is good. And second, I do not miss meat; instead, I am really having fun exploring the new foods I can eat. I have made some pretty cool recipes and tried out some pretty good food. I do have to say, I made a curry the other night, which ended being more like a chili and it was screaming for sour cream or cheese or something... but it was fine without it. I just feel good. I am losing weight, I never feel icky after I eat and my back may be getting a little better.

I bought a book the other day called Veganomicon. It is packed full of some really cool recipes and I am looking forward to experimenting with some of them. I am also going to check out the Veggie Food Fest this weekend at USM. Food is a good thing!

That's all for now.

Have a great day / weekend.

Reactions: 

Vegan For Thirty Days

Posted on 8:24 PM In:
For reasons that are plentiful, I have decided to make some changes to what I put in my body and try out a vegan diet with extras for thirty days.

I like to think that I ate fairly healthy to begin with... I always loved fruits & veggies (I could sit and eat a quart of blueberries without blinking), aways opted for whole grain anything and shied away from the bad whites (flour, sugar, rice). All that said, I had some vices: I drank a minimum of 5 Diet Pepsi's a day (it was my coffee), I enjoyed real good micro brew beer and there was no such thing as too much cheese.


So, my vegan diet with extras... extras, you say? Yes, well in addition to removing all the animal products from my diet, I am also eliminating Diet Pepsi and all the bad whites. I am going to do my best to eat organic where I can, but in the interest of not doubling my grocery bill and therefore putting my husband completely over the edge, I will not be as strict on that point.

Today is Day 8. Hindsight being what it is, I wish I would have started this last Monday, June 9th when this endeavor began, but better late than never, right?

My goal here is to document my journey: what works, what doesn't and how I feel along the way. In addition, I am sure how my husband feels will sneak in as he has already shared much of his feelings about this and shed light on things I had not considered. So, here we go...


Day 8:

I have not had a Diet Pepsi since Sunday June 8th and the cravings are all but gone. I suffered from some pretty good headaches the first couple of days, but they have subsided. I do not miss meat at all. I miss cheese and I miss brunch at my favorite restaurant, The Frog & Turtle in Westbrook. (James, the owner, has already given me his thoughts on my experiment, reminding me his scrumptious donuts contain eggs - thanks James).


My initial feelings about this experiment were those of intimidation. I do not have any vegan friends to call upon for advice. Luckily, a very good friend of mine Amy pointed me in the direction of a phenomenal blog entitled Commune Tested, City Approved. The dialog is great and so far, the recipes are fantastic. Bo, my husband is working tonight, so after the gym I came home and experimented with Pad Thai, a recipe I found on the fore mentioned blog. Check it out:



It was really good and the recipe can be found here. (Admittedly, hers has a much prettier presentation.) The taste is a bit more peanuttier than I am used to but the all the flavors are very full, fresh with a little heat. Next time, I think I will experiment with additional vegetables and more heat. Also, I am not happy with the noodles I got this time, rice noodles from Hannaford. Next time, I will make the effort to go to Vientiane Market and hopefully find something a bit more authentic.

As far as how I feel, I feel really good. As a whole when I eat, I feel full and satisfied and not at all deprived. Yes, there are places I will miss going to eat, but the way I see it, this forces me to get out and check out restaurants I may not have checked out before.

Another recipe I have tried that has worked out well are these yummy Rockin Roasted Vegetable Burritos. I made them with some chili tortillas I found at Whole Foods. There are things I have tried that do not work for me... like fake cheese. I tried some, hoping, but it just wasn't good. So, I have decided that I just don't eat cheese - real or fake.

How has my body reacted to all of this? Well, I do not feel tired, my energy is starting to get pretty darn good and I have lost weight. I am not a weigher, I have to go by how my clothes fit. And jeans that I used to have to suck in to zip up now zip up easily... and this is only after one week!!! My back pain is about the same, which is what I am hoping to alleviate with this experiment, but I am not at all deterred... these things take time, right?

And the last thing I will talk about in this post is how my dear ol' hubby is dealing with all of this. It really never occurred to me that this would cause more than a hiccup in our relationship, but apparently, I was wrong. Bo and I love to eat and we have some places that we love to frequent - a few of them where the staff know us by first name. Because of my modifications, this is going to have to change. This didn't sit well with my husband. If I could do it all over again, I would sit down with him and have a more in depth conversation about this before doing it. regardless of how the conversation went, I cannot imagine it would have changed my mind, but it would have given him the opportunity to be part of my decision and to voice his concerns.

All in all, I am very happy I have decided to do this and am anxious to see where the journey will take me.

Ciao.

Reactions: