Hope Sinks


VeganMoFo: Cop Out Survey!
October 27, 2008, 10:02 am
Filed under: Cooking, VeganMoFo | Tags: , , , , ,

Since I’ve slacked so hard, I’m trying to make up, and what better way to 1) dredge up ideas and 2) kind of bullshit an entry than with a survey! This one comes courtesy of Jess at Get Sconed via B.A.D. at Unhealthy Vegan. Thanks, ladies

1. What was the most recent tea you drank?

Fresh ginger, for my creeping-up illness. Cut up an inch or two of fresh ginger into chunks. Pour boiling water over it. Steep 5 minutes.

2. What vegan forms do you post/lurk on? If so, what is your username? Spill!

Oh, you all know this already: The PPK Forum. My name is, surprisingly, jordanpattern.

3. You have to have tofu for dinner, and it has be an Italian dish. What comes to mind first?

Isa’s Italian Marinated tofu with roasted veggies over polenta with a balsamic vinegar reduction. Shit, now I’m hungry.

4. How many vegan blogs do you read on an average day?

I don’t really have an average day, but if you average out all my non-average days, probably around 4? I have some favorites, but I will never tell!

5. Besides your own, what is the most recent one you’ve read?

Katie‘s post on her famous Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Yeow!

6. If you could hang out with a vegan blogger that you haven’t met, who would it be, and what would you do?

I would be pretty darn stoked to hang out with kittee of Cake Maker To The Stars and Jess of Get Sconed, oh, and Pamela of Pamela Cooks. I mean, really, I’d be down with hanging out with all the vegan bloggers out there, really, but it’s much easier to deal with the logistics of just four people, you know? Plus, I’ve met a lot of vegan bloggers! I think Kittee and Jess and Pamela and I could have a pretty great tea party, though.

7. If you had to base your dinners for a week around one of the holy trilogy – tofu, seitan or tempeh, which would it be?

Well, in real life, I would say tofu, because I don’t have to make it before I cook with it, but in an ideal world, I would say seitan. Seitan sandwiches, cutlets, chili, maybe even breaded and fried!

8. If you had to use one in a fight, which would it be?

Tempeh for sure – that stuff is like a brick when frozen.

9. Name 3 meals you’d realistically make with that tough protein of choice!

Katie’s tempeh wingz, Spicy tempeh roll sushi a la Post Punk Kitchen Show Ep. 2, and, uh, some kind of marinated tempeh, possibly on skewers and grilled with veggies and served over rice.

10. What’s a recipe in vegan blogland that you’ve been eyeing?

Julie Hasson’s sausages! I have had these made by other people, but I want to make them myself so bad! Why am I so damned lazy! I need to re-read all that crap I talked about the virtues of delayed pleasure one more time I think…

11. Do you own any clothing with vegan messages/brands on them?

Yeah, but I don’t wear it a whole lot these days. I own 5 or 6 Herbivore shirts and also the “I ❤ Hunting Accidents” shirt from Food Fight.

12. Have you made your pilgrimage to the ‘vegan mecca’ yet? (Portland, duh)

Yes, though I didn’t have as much time there as I would like, and it wasn’t really a pilgrimage so much as a show my old band played, the morning after which I accidentally ditched a whole cadre of PDX PPKers. I’m still sorry, guys!

13. What age did you first go vegan? Did it stick?

I was 22, and yes, it stuck. I’m coming up on 6 years vegan next March.

14. What is the worst vegan meal you’ve had? Who cooked it?

Yucky summer camp french fries that were lukewarm and soggy. This was at the camp where I often teach french horn, but it was before I knew to bring my own lunch. Seriously – is a veggie burger so hard???

15. What made you decide to blog?

I have honestly no idea. Vanity? I fancy myself an okay cook and a fairly decent baker, but I am too busy/cheap/lazy to cook/write as much as I’d like. I’m working on it. I may soon have a super ultra mega cheap blog, since my money might be becoming real tight real soon…

16. What are three of your favorite meals to make?

Isa Pizza – I never get tired of that stuff. I could eat it morning, noon, and night forever.

Marinated tofu with roasted veggies – roast everything together. This is so flavourful and so good and reasonably healthy to boot!

Soup – I can’t pick a type, but I fucking love making soup. Uh. Literally.

17. What dish would you bring to a vegan Thanksgiving-themed potluck?

I’m totally going to bite on B.A.D.’s answer and say stuffed squash… with my own special stuffing recipe that I’m developing that involves cornbread and apple-sage sausage crumbles.

18. Where is your favorite vegan meal at a restaurant? How many times have you ordered it?

I feel like I should say Millenium, both meals I’ve at at which have been amazing, but I’m going to go with the Kung Pao fake chicken from Jasmine Tea House in San Francisco.

19. What do you think the best chain to dine as a vegan is?

I’m going to cheat a little here and say El Toro taquerias in the Bay Area. I think there are 3 of them, so they count, right? I love me some tacos.

20. My kitchen needs a……

kitchen! I don’t have my own right now. When I finally (and I mean finally) move in with my husband, our kitchen will need a tonne of stuff, including a huge clean, twice as many shelves, and, well, kitchenware that isn’t irreplaceable collector beer glasses from Belgium. Ugh.

21. This vegetable is not allowed in my kitchen…

Eggplant. Fuck eggplant.

22. What’s for dinner tonight?

The above-mentioned stuffing, I think. I’m going to create it for the Iron Chef challenge.

23. What’s your favourite cookie cutter?

I don’t own any! The shame!

Okay, that about wraps it up! Thanks again to Jess and B.A.D. for the inspiration!



VeganMoFo: Back On The Wagon

I was so diligent in my MoFoing for the first 10 days or so of the month… right up until I went to San Francisco to visit my husband. Darn the luck. Anyway, there’s still time for one more (business) week of MoFoing, so hold on to your butts, because I’m starting out with Katie‘s Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

Like many of you, I’ve been meaning to make these for a really, really long time. Now that I’ve made them, I feel like a dope for not having done so earlier. I’ve talked before in this blog about how yeasted things tend to subconsciously freak me out, meaning that I tend to not make them much. I haven’t gotten to the root of why this is (I’ve never screwed up any yeasted thing I’ve made; I don’t find yeasted recipes difficult; etc.), but it’s prevented me from trying a bunch of things that I would normally been all over before even finishing reading the description. I suppose the time factor is a big one for me (I work 60 hours a week and have to find time for a bunch of other extracurriculars and international phone calls as well), but that’s not really a good reason either, given the amount of time I waste on the internet and the amount of reading I try to get done every day. Anyway, my point is, I have an irrational yeasted recipe aversion, and I’m happy I overcame it long enough to make these because they are fucking crazily good.

Bam! That’s right – they are all up in your face.

Having made these, I have the following to say to those of you who haven’t yet taken the plunge, whether from laziness (like me) or worry about your cooking/baking skills, or just plain old ambivalence: Get over it. These are really pretty easy – the hardest skills involved are kneading the dough (easy) and cleaning the countertop afterward (harder, but worth it). They don’t even have to rise for that long (45 minutes + 5 minutes resting time), and they really do produce fluffy, delicious, better-than-the-bakery cinnamon rolls. If you’re like me, you haven’t had one of those since well before you went vegan. Assuming you’re vegan.

The other thing I thought of while I was waiting for these to rise is that one of virtues of yeasted food is that they rely on the principle of delayed pleasure. That is, I tend to pass over yeasted breads and rolls in favour of stuff that uses soda or baking powder, and I do this because I want instant (well, as instant as baking can be) gratification. I can’t be bothered, most of the time, to wait for an hour or 90 minutes while dough rises, and I don’t like that in myself. Yeasted foods, if you want to get really hippie dippy about it, force us to indulge in delayed pleasure, which probably fosters a good impulse in us.. particularly those of us who are considering fucking the whole delayed-pleasure thing in favour of more immediate (well, delayed by 8 months, so not that instant) pleasure… oh, I’ve said too much! But you get my drift, don’t you? Waiting for the things we want tends to be a good thing that encourages good traits in ourselves (just look at Love In The Time Of Cholera), and these pumpkin cinnamon rolls can improve me anytime.

Anyway, I’m a bit rusty. I don’t know how to write about food or innovate or anything, but this is my attempt to get back on the wagon.



Carnitas!
August 15, 2008, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Veganism | Tags: , , , ,

Now, I’m a Canadian. As my husband is constantly reminding me, that means I have no idea when it comes to Mexican food. While I know me a good burrito when I eat one and know enough to know that the “Mexican” restaurant here in town (Julio’s Barrio) sucks, he’s probably right about the rest of it. I don’t know a torta from a flauta from a churro, and, until yesterday, I didn’t really know what carnitas were either. Thanks and praise be, therefore, to the mighty melisser for posting her recipe for carnitas that use young jackfruit in the place of meat.

Jackfruit is weird.

Jackfruit is weird.

Wikipedia tells me that carnitas is a type of heavily seasoned braised or roasted pork that is relatively common in Mexican cuisine. The meat is used to make tacos, sandwiches (tortas, apparently), burritos, and any number of other dishes. I’ve heard about young jackfruit as a substitute for meat (particularly pulled pork type meat) from a couple of different people now, so when the husband gave me a can of young green jackfruit as a parting gift on one of my last visits, I knew it would eventually get made into carnitas. Unfortunately, I’m lazy and a big procrastinator so that can of jackfruit had been sitting in my cupboard for several months by the time I finally got around to doing anything with it, but I had the day off and the kitchen to myself yesterday, and as luck would have it, I was feeling homesick for San Francisco and wanted some Mexican food. The time was right.

Uncooked jackfruit with salsa verde, garlic, onions, and seasonings in the crock pot before cooking.

Uncooked jackfruit with salsa verde, garlic, onions, and seasonings in the crock pot before cooking.

Having never tasted either jackfruit or carnitas, I felt like I was flying a little blind with this recipe. Melisser doesn’t list quantities for the seasonings in her recipe, so I guessed as best I could (I tended to go heavier on the smoked paprika and oregano than the cayenne and cumin) and came out with (I think) a pretty satisfactory result. I also had never really tasted salsa verde (in fact, I had never seen salsa verde for sale in Edmonton before until a recent visit to the new Sobey’s market on Jasper Avenue and 104 st., where I shelled out $12 for a container big enough for the recipe – a flagrant rip off), so I wasn’t sure how all the spices called for would interact with those (if any) already in the salsa. I guess you can see why I felt like I was flying blind…

Melisser’s recipe cooks up the jackfruit in a crock pot with a bunch of salsa verde, onion, garlic, lime, and spices. Melisser likes to let her jackfruit simmer for 8 hours, but I’m not that organized. I originally planned to give it 2 hours, but in the end, I think my jackfruit cooked for about 4 hours, during which time I added a couple of tomatoes I had on hand that were about to go off.

My best guesses seemed to be okay, since my carnitas came out savory and with just a bit of kick. The green salsa leant a distinctive flavour to the dish, though if you asked me, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it tasted like. It is apparently impossible to get corn tortillas in Edmonton. I was forced to use mini flour torts instead, and next time, I’d like to make my own corn ones.

Cooked jackfruit and seasonings in the crock pot.

Cooked jackfruit and seasonings in the crock pot.

On the husband’s recommendation, I topped the carnitas with pico de gallo (which he informed me is a traditional Mexican “chopped sauce,” or chopped tomatoes, onions, and chiles – plus whatever else you care to add – I added lime juice and cilantro) and a bit of lettuce and extra cilantro. The result was awesome. It didn’t taste like the the packaged Old El Paso taco meat of my childhood at all. Instead, the jackfruit took on a bit of the zest of the salsa and the smokiness from the smoked paprika (a wonder ingredient in my opinion). The rest of the flavours blended together nicely, and while I have no way of knowing how authentic my carnitas was, I do know it was tasty and that I’ll make it again.

Finished product in tortilla with homemade pico de gallo. Mmmm.

Finished product in tortilla with homemade pico de gallo. Mmmm.



Apple
June 27, 2008, 9:56 am
Filed under: Veganism | Tags: , , , , , , ,

My grandma makes something she calls Baked Apple. It’s something of a misnomer, since it’s not actually a baked apple, but a thick applesauce with a sweet bread-crumb-ish topping. It’s super simple, but really flavourful and satisfying in really any season.

When my grandma makes it, she uses homemade applesauce, which is both a nicer colour (kind of pinkish – delightful!) and more flavourful and tart. When I had my craving this morning at breakfast, I only had unsweetened store-bought sauce, so I made do with that, but I highly recommend making your own applesauce if you have the time – it’s easy and so much better than the store-bought alternatives.

For my version, I put about a cup of applesauce into a small corningware dish. For the topping, I didn’t have any breadcrumbs, so I made a mixture of about 1/3 cup large flake oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1.5 tbsp vegan margarine, and 1 tbsp flax seed. I mixed it all together and then crumbled it on top of the applesauce. I threw the whole thing into the oven at 400 degrees and baked it on up for about 20 minutes.

The result was a satisfying, reasonably healthy breakfast I hadn’t eaten 800 times before. I’d like to get my grandma’s recipe for this and do it up proper, and I’ll be sure to write about it when I do.



Moroccan
June 27, 2008, 9:23 am
Filed under: Veganism | Tags: , , , , , ,

I find myself house sitting this past week (and next week) or so, and I’m really enjoying having a kitchen all to myself. The first 5 days I was pretty slack on feeding myself (I had either a burrito or nachos for pretty much every meal, which is fine with me but boring). Yesterday I had the full day off, so I decided to make the best of it by trying out a new recipe. I’m broke until payday, so I had to find something that wouldn’t require a lot of ingredients I didn’t already have. I just happened to have come across Mark Bittman’s NYT food blog for the first time yesterday, so for dinner, I decided to adapt the recipe of the day from that site: Shrimp in Moroccan-Style Tomato Sauce.

The recipe itself was super simple, so the challenge became finding a good substitute for the shrimp. Now I’ve been vegan over five years and was vegetarian for a good 8 years before that, so I’m pretty good with the cravings (that is, I don’t really get them). I don’t really miss any non-vegan foods, but if you were to grill me, you’d find that the thing I come closest to missing is seafood. I’m a prairie girl, so good seafood was awful hard to come by in my childhood, but I have some pretty fond memories of eating salmon jerky on Vancouver Island and shrimp and clams and things while camping on the coast. I don’t crave this stuff, but because I had such a taste for it when I ate meat, I think I’m pickier about subbing for seafood now that I keep vegan, so I wanted to find a tasty, nice-textured substitute for the shrimp in this recipe. What I ended up with was medium-firm tofu.

It probably sounds overly simple, but what immediately sprung to mind when thinking about the texture of shrimp was this tofu. What I ended up doing was slicing an entire medium block into cubes about 3/4″ and throwing it all in a skillet with some olive oil (maybe 3 tbsp – I didn’t want the tofu to stick and come apart) and 3 cloves of chopped up garlic and about a teaspoon of sea salt. I fried all this up over medium heat for about 15 minutes. I stirred it occasionally, but I tried to keep it so that only really one side of the tofu got browned/firmed up at all.

After the 15 minutes were up, I started on the tomato sauce, which was super easy and really only involved sauteeing the spices and ginger in oil and then adding the tomatoes to simmer for 20 minutes or so and then combining with the “shrimp.” Served over white basmati rice with a lime wedge on the side and cilantro on top, this was an amazing summer meal that I highly recommend you all try. Oh, one quick note on the recipe: Bittman writes in his intro to this recipe that basically, this is normal tomato sauce with the spices changed up. I say why stop at Moroccan? Since this is so easy and cheap, it’s a great one to try with different spice combos and maybe to use to introduce yourself to some new tastes!



Seitanism

In addition making granola yesterday, I made a double batch of seitan (to be precise, the seitan cutlets in Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Veganomicon). Seitan, to the uninitiated, is often referred to as a meat substitute. It’s made from wheat gluten, water or veggie stock, and oil, with many recipes calling for flavoring elements as well. The ingredients are mixed together and kneaded much like bread dough, and then the resulting gummy dough is then either boiled, baked (either in broth, straight up, or rolled into a log inside tight aluminum foil), or occasionally fried. Basic seitan is high in protein (more than tofu even!) and low in fat and salt.

Now, I’m usually a tofu girl. I love seitan when I can get it pre-prepared at a restaurant (or vegan cheese steak style like in San Francisco), but I often tell myself I don’t have the time to make it from scratch myself. While making a batch of my own seitan is more time consuming than opening up yet another package of tofu, seitan tastes better, has a better texture, and is probably better for me than my regular extra firm. Seitan slices thinner and works better in sandwiches and doesn’t get hard in stews, stroganoffs, and other saucy concoctions, and since I make it myself, I can customize the flavour without dropping an extra $3 for a flavour combo I don’t like anyway.

What am I saying? Seitan is my friend, and it should be yours too.

There are a bunch of great seitan recipes kicking around out there. Isa Moskowitz has posted her basic recipe. Jess over at Get Sconed is just one of the many bloggers who has posted the famous Seitan O’ Greatness recipe invented by a PPKer known (to me, anyway) only as Lachesis. Julie Hasson of Everyday Dish even made up a seitan-based sausage recipe that produces great homemade vegan sausages.

My point, I suppose is that seitan may be a bit more work than slicing into a pack of tofu, but it’s worth it, and I encourage all of you to experiment and find your own favorite uses. As for me, I’m rocking the Vietnamese seitan baguette dip sandwiches from Veganomicon, and I’m stoked.

Hello there



Substitutions
May 5, 2008, 6:54 am
Filed under: Cooking, Good Days, Veganism | Tags: ,

Vegans tend to make a lot of substitutions in their cooking. Whether it’s subbing flax goop for eggs or soy for cow, vegans who cook tend to get pretty good at swapping out undesirable elements in exchange for shiny happy good ones. Though I would eventually like to write more in depth on these kinds of subs, today, I’m writing about subbing food/cooking for something else: my husband.

Everyone who reads this likely already knows, but I don’t live with my husband. I’m in the process of immigrating so we can be together, but for now, it’s just me and my basement. Some days are shittier than others, but I’ve found that the worst is when I have time to actually notice that I’m alone. When I’m working or teaching or running off getting accidentally drunk, I’m distracted enough not to get totally depressed and mopey. When I have days off (like I had yesterday – my first real, full day off in months, actually), it’s harder to keep it together. So what do I do? Well, yesterday I watched Veronica Mars, practised, went for a run, and cooked like a crazy person.

Since my last visit to San Francisco to be with the DH, I find I can’t sleep through the night, and exacerbating matters, I can’t sleep in. Yesterday started off at 7:00 am, and first thing I did was get up and make granola. Granola is one of those things that I think people forget how easy and how good it is. It takes well to all kinds of customization and keeps well to boot. My granola tends to be simple, but the recipe I use can be supplemented without really any call for monkeying around with the base mixture. Here it is, Jordan’s Simple Stupid Hippie Granola:

Granola!

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup oats (NOT quick cooking!)
1/3 cup walnuts, pecans, or almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 – 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 – 3 tbsp oil
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, and coconut. Put the mixture on a cookie sheet, spreading it out so it sits evenly on the sheet. Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes and then take it out to mix it around (the danger with this part of the process is that the stuff on top can cook faster than the stuff underneath, and you end up with burnt nuts or oats – gross!). Put the oat mixture back in the oven and bake (making sure nothing on the top layer is getting too toasted) for 15 – 20 minutes, or until you start to smell the nuts toasting and the aroma of the oats. Remove from oven.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the maple syrup, oil, flax, and dried apricots. Add the hot oat mixture, and stir well to combine. If you like your granola warm, eat it now. Otherwise, wait a bit, and it will start to get all clumpy, just like store bought. Store in an airtight container, but not for too long. Granola is easy and quick and best when fresh, so make it often!

Stay tuned for Seitanfest later today!