19 August 2013

Thoughtful Perspective: Gelatin

I love jello, especially the blue raspberry. I also love jello shots. But a little over a year ago I dropped jello like it was the plague. Unfortunately, gelatin is an utterly grotesque, morbid ingredient. They could probably make a whole horror film based solely around gelatin.

My friend was happily munching on gummy worms (swoons), oh how I miss those. She offered me one; I declined. She asked why not. I told her it had gelatin. She looked very nervous to ask of what is gelatin made. I grimaced and said she probably didn't want to know. A year later she said she was finally ready to know of what gelatin is made. Prepare yourself mentally and hold you stomach.

Gelatin is a protein substance derived from collagen, a natural protein present in the tendons, ligaments, and tissues of mammals. It is produced by boiling the connective tissues, bones and skins of animals, usually cows and pigs. Gelatin's ability to form strong, transparent gels and flexible films that are easily digested, soluble in hot water, and capable of forming a positive binding action have made it a valuable commodity in food processing, pharmaceuticals, photography, and paper production.

Read more: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Gelatin.html#b#ixzz2cQzD6pAL
 Unfortunately it gets worse. It also includes, eye balls, spinal cords, bones, and hides. Now that really puts it over the edge. I'm a huge fan of using everything, but this just crosses the line. I almost feel violated knowing that the tasty poptart with the super fun icing is really made of some cow's eyeball. Real mood killer.

Its important to be aware of what's hiding in your food. I would have never fathomed ground up cuddly animals are in marshmallows, frosted mini wheats, yogurt, candies, etc. Its absolutely heartbreaking. But this is gives me more gusto to hunt down the noble and harmless ingredients, such as agar agar and vegan marshmallows. Its all about social awareness.


18 August 2013

Recipes XIX: Summer Soup

Ahhh!! Harvest time is in full swing. Tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, mmmm...Before you take your excess zucchinis and sneak them into unlocked cars, consider this recipe. If you don't have oodles of fresh veggies, support your local farm/farm stand.

Summer Soup yields 6-8 cups
1 cup= 55 calories (without wine)

4 cups water
2 cups of veggie stock
2 vegan chick'n bullion cubes (1 cube to 2 cups water)
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tsp poultry spices
Couple cranks on the pepper mill
3 small cloves of garlic crushed
2 pinches of salt (if desired)
Splash of dry white wine if you have it ;)

1 medium summer squash
1 medium zucchini
1 peeled carrot
1 garden fresh tomato (no GMO tomatoes allowed)
handful of small yellow cherry tomatoes
2 fresh basil leaves
small cluster of  fresh rosemary
small cluster of fresh parsley

Combine the liquids and spices into a medium size pot on the stove. While the liquids are heating chop tomatoes into cubes, peel carrot, slice the zucchini, carrot and squash into medallions. Carefully dump the veggies into the pot. Mince the fresh herbs and stir into the pot.

Close the lid and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. When complete, serve with butter-drenched crusty bread.

24 July 2013

Bonding over Bread

My grandmother came to visit (sqee!). We had some much fun together during the short 2 day visit. One of the activities I had planned was making bread together. I don't buy that rubbish at the store they call "bread" because we all know its not really bread. She had experienced several problems that I had encountered when I first started making bread a few years back. I am, by no means, a bread professional. But, I do have some possibly helpful advice for the next time you attempt to make bread. We're going to use this bread recipe as a walk through with helpful tidbits.

07 May 2013

Recipes XVIII: Pesto Naan

Recently, I've been making naan to go with our daily lunch salads. Its a simple flat bread, a little thicker than pita. Great for wiping up extra salad dressing and cheese bits. We had some pesto getting close the end of its shelf life and I wanted to use it up. In this recipe I substituted olive oil for pesto. I had hopes it would turn the bread a greenish hue; but it didn't. The end result: absolutely fantastic, aromatic flat bread that is excellent with pesto (duh), vinaigrette, olive oil, salad dressing, you name it!

Adapted from CanuckCuisine

1 tsp of active dry yeast
1 cup of whole cream heated to 115-117 degrees F
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp pink salt
2.5 cups bread flour or white wheat
3 tsp vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup pesto

Proof the yeast in the sugary milk to it get a nice foamy cap. Combine the dry ingredients and stir together until uniformly mixed. Pour in yeasty, sugary milk. Still well. Let sit covered for 10 mins for autolysis. I like to clean up during this time. Then come back and kneed bread until well combined. Dough should be post-it note tackiness. In a well oiled bowl, preferably glass, allow to rise for 1 hour. Then punch dough down and divide into 8-10 balls. Flatten dough into "pancake" shape. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake on preheated, oiled pizza stone or ceramic tile for 3 mins/side. Flip and repeat. When naan is golden tan, remove and allow to cool. Feast away!

22 April 2013

Thought You Should Know....

Food, besides sex, is one of the most intimate activities you perform everyday. You stick it inside your mouth and you body digests, extract nutrients and releases it. You know the joke, " you are what you eat". We're seeing more and more obesity, cancers, ailments and disease. Its time to give the food we're eating a thought.

How Monsanto Went From Selling Aspirin to Controlling Our Food Supply

Sunday, 21 April 2013 09:28By Jill RichardsonAlterNet | Report
Monsanto researchers in Stonington, Ill., are working to develop new soybean varieties that will be tolerant to agricultural herbicide and have greater yields in July 2006. (Photo: Monsanto via The New York Times) Monsanto researchers in Stonington, Ill., are working to develop new soybean varieties that will be tolerant to agricultural herbicide and have greater yields in July 2006. (Photo: Monsanto via The New York Times)Monsanto controls our food, poisons our land, and influences all three branches of government.
This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.
Forty percent of the crops grown in the United States contain their genes. They produce the world’s top selling herbicide. Several of their factories are now toxic Superfund sites. They spend millions lobbying the government each year. It’s time we take a closer look at who’s controlling our food, poisoning our land, and influencing all three branches of government. To do that, the watchdog group Food and Water Watch recently published a corporate profile of Monsanto.
Patty Lovera, Food and Water Watch assistant director, says they decided to focus on Monsanto because they felt a need to “put together a piece where people can see all of the aspects of this company.”
“It really strikes us when we talk about how clear it is that this is a chemical company that wanted to expand its reach,” she says. “A chemical company that started buying up seed companies.” She feels it’s important “for food activists to understand all of the ties between the seeds and the chemicals.”

Monsanto the Chemical Company
Monsanto was founded as a chemical company in 1901, named for the maiden name of its founder’s wife. Its first product was the artificial sweetener saccharin. The company’s own telling of its history emphasizes its agricultural products, skipping forward from its founding to 1945, when it began manufacturing agrochemicals like the herbicide 2,4-D.
Prior to its entry into the agricultural market, Monsanto produced some harmless – even beneficial! – products like aspirin. It also made plastics, synthetic rubber, caffeine, and vanillin, an artificial vanilla flavoring. On the not-so-harmless side, it began producing toxic PCBs in the 1930s.
According to the new report, a whopping 99 percent of all PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, used in the U.S. were produced at a single Monsanto plant in Sauget, IL. The plant churned out toxic PCBs from the 1930s until they were banned in 1976. Used as coolants and lubricants in electronics, PCBs are carcinogenic and harmful to the liver, endocrine system, immune system, reproductive system, developmental system, skin, eye, and brain.
Even after the initial 1982 cleanup of this plant, Sauget is still home to two Superfund sites. (A Superfund site is defined by the EPA as “an uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people.”) This is just one of several Monsanto facilities that became Superfund sites.

Monsanto’s Shift to Agriculture

04 March 2013

Seitan Stroganoff: A 3 Part Saga

Seitan Stroganoff

A Three Part Saga

Seitan Stroganoff

1 cup of seitan
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup of mushroom broth
dash of curry, basil, pepper,
tiny flick of powdered ginger
3 tbsp olive oil
3 oz mushrooms

In a cast iron pan, sautee diced up mushrooms and diced up seitan in olive oil over medium / medium high heat. When the seitan is browned, sprinkle in the herbs and spices. Pour in cup of mushroom broth. Next add the can of soup.  Turn down heat to low. Stir well. Allow the heat to meld the flavors. During this time cook the egg or eggless noodles. Drain noodles. Serve.

Seitan recipe

1.5 cup vital wheat gluten
.5 cup soy flour
2 tbsp mushroom bullion
1 tsp garlic powder

1  cartons of prepackaged organic vegetable broth
1 cup of water with 2 tbsp mushroom buillion
1 3x3 piece of kelp
3 bay leaves

Mix the dry ingredients and slowly add water until it is a tacky dough. Knead dough well. Roll into a log. Slice into medallions. In a medium size pot, pour in broth and water, bullion, any desired spices, bay leaves and kelp. Gently add the seitan dough medallions. Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 hours. For cross reference: http://www.instructables.com/id/Seitan-Made-Easy/ is a great example.

After simmering save broth and store seitan in it for up to 2 weeks. Extra broth can be frozen and reused in meals or making seitan again.

General Mushroom Broth

A great substitute for beef broth.
Get yourself down to your local Asian food purveyor for some fun treats and treasures. For me Sunrise Grocery is amazing!!! I purchased a good quantity of dehydrated small capped shittake mushrooms for less than $5. I found powder mushroom bullion, loads of bay leaves, kelp, etc.

Makes 2 quarts

8 cups of water
12 tsp of mushroom boullion
10 dehydrated small capped mushrooms
3 bay leaves
dash ginger
1 3x3 piece of kelp
splash of good quality soy sauce

Combine all and over medium low heat simmer for 2 hours. Still occasionally. When complete, strain off large particulate. Collect broth in container of your choosing. Store or use.

12 February 2013

Simple Ones: Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse with a Hidden Vegetable:


I figured since everyone else is posting their swell vegan mousse recipes, I should add the one I whipped up this weekend. Its top notch and wicked easy.

Makes 3 cups in about 20 minutes
2 ripe haas avocados, pitted
1 cup sweet chocolate baking chips
2 tbsp creme de cacoa (of course!)
Agave nectar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch salt

In a double boiler, melt the baking chips. Mash the 2 avocados in a small bowl. Measure out dry ingredients and combine in bowl with avocados. When chocolate is melted, carefully pour into ingredients bowl. With a mixer or immersion blender- blend together. Then refrigerate for 1 hour or eat it in a hurried crazed fashion. Its good either warm or cold. The creme de cacoa is what really sets it apart from others. You need that little boozy spike. 

28 January 2013

6ish Month Mark: Ovo/Lacto/Veg'n

So here we are, at the 6.5 month check in on Vegetarianism as we know it. Doing better each day, really being conscious about my food intake. I thought I'd include some easy foods for those who are thinking about transitioning over or just cutting down on the animal intake.

Some Foods I Love and Their Replacements

Chicken Ramen Noodles--> Top Ramen Oriental Ramen
Hot dogs --> Yves Good Dogs or Morningstar Hot Dogs
Chicken Patties--> Boca Chick'n Patties
Chicken Nuggets-->  Fried Tofu Nuggets
Chili--> Chili recipe with TVP
Tacos--> TVP Tacos or even Quinoa Tacos
Chicken Sandwich-->Here it is-Tasty Bean Burger
Shepherd's Pie--> (recipe to ensue) Meatless Shepherd's Pie
Beef/Chicken Broth-->Vegetable or Not Chicken/Beef Boullion
Chocolate Mousse Pie-->Chocolate Fudge Pie
Hamburgers--> Boca burgers or Bean Burgers

I'm finding its really easy to be vegetarian. If a recipe calls for meat, I just use lentils or tvp or even just more vegetables. It doesn't have to be hard or elaborate. Your favorite family recipes are just too easy to tweak. Vegan Dad, despite the blogging has ended on there, has some great Seitan recipes for steak or meat alternatives.

I eat a big 4 cups of salad for lunch, cottage cheese or yogurt (homemade, of course). Later a snack bar or banana. Its important to have fresh produce on hand: bag of apples, oranges, lemons, limes, bananas, box of organic salad, cukes, tomatoes, potatoes, acorn/ butternut squash and onions. Fresh produce is quite inexpensive. Especially in comparison to 1 steak at $12 vs. 1 bag of organic apples ($4) 2 quarts organic yogurt ($4), bag of blue corn chips ($3). That's a lot more food at a cheaper price. Have these items replace the usual junk: chips, cookies, crackers, box lunches and the like.

 Then when you want something unhealthy, you have to make it. If I want brownies or that awesome fudge pie, I have to take the time to make it from scratch. Result: Laziness usually prevails and I eat an apple or I make an amazing dessert that has quality ingredients and is worth it.

The freezer should be your dear chum. I like to make many things up in advance such as bean burgers, sandwich rolls, fried spring rolls, cookie dough, soups and freeze them. So when I'm home from work and am on lazy lane, the food is in the freezer ready to go. Its cheaper, produces more product and is far healthier to make things in bulk and freeze, can, or preserve them.

27 January 2013

Sneaky Peak

Sneaky Peak 

Inside My Pantry

Staples for cooking, baking, creating.
Necessary Spices: Taco, Black Pepper, Basil, Red Pepper, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Liquid Smoke,
White Pepper, Garlic Powder, Parsley, Dried Onion, Poultry, Paprika, Alum, Curry, Tartar, Clove,
Nutmeg, Celery Flakes, Mustard, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Chile Powder, Cloves, Bay Leaves,
Vanilla Bean, Cinnamon Bark, Baking Powder, Sprinkles
Staple Grains & Sugars: Rice, Risoto, Quinoa, 10x Powdered Sugar, White Sugar, Lentils, Brown
Sugar- light and dark, Molasses, Agave Nectar, Raw Honey, Pink 84 Mineral Salt,, Chicken/Beef Boullion
Dried Pastas, Wild & Long Grain Rice, Hazelnuts, Dried Beans, Tin of  Powdered Sauce Packets, Chewing
Gum, Jar of Pesto, Alfredo Sauce

Bonita Flakes, Toasted Sesame Seed oil, Dashi, Sirarcha Sauce, Parmasean, Bread Crumbs, Seaweed,  Black Sesame Seeds, Medjool Dates, Assorted Herbal Tea, Turbinado Sugar, Baking Powder

Nori Sheets, Mirin, Rice Wine Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, Cake Flour, Torani (for yogurt), Adobo Season Salt, Panko Crumbs, Cans of beans, Sauerkraut, Dried Pineapple.

And there you have it! In the inner workings of my pantry. I get a real kick of happiness just looking at my treasures. So many possibilities. 

26 January 2013

Recipes XVII: Vegetarian Tacos

TVP-Tastic Tacos

No cows, chicken or pigs in this recipe.

Every time my husband goes out of town for a work trip, I rub my hands together with glee-Taco night!! I don't know what it is. But I associate unrestrained taco eating with solitariness.

TVP is my most favorite meat alternative. Its dried yellowish vegetable protein. Sounds unappetizing, eh? It is completely versatile; you can make meat balls, meat loaf, meat crumbles with it in any flavor. It is easy to purchase on Amazon and very cost effective. I favor the Bob's Red Mill brand. Back to the tacos now. This taco recipe is wicked fast, faster than frying up a chub of ground chuck.

Makes 4-5 tacos

Taco "Meat"
1 cup of water
3/4 cup of tvp dried crumbles
1/4 cup of taco seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil

Chopped lettuce
Chopped tomotoes
Yogurt or Sour cream
Taco shells

In a cast iron pan  pour in the water, seasoning and olive oil. Turn burner onto high. Stir occasionally. When it reaches a frothy boil, remove from heat. Pour in tvp stir a couple times and let sit. It will absorb the taco seasoning. I like to prepare the toppings while its absorbing. After 3-4 mins it is ready for use. Blamo! Tacos!

22 January 2013

Recipes XVI: Creamy Rice and Squash

Creamy Wild Rice and Yellow Squash

It sticks to your bones on a cold night. 

Serves 2 hungry adults

1.5 cups of alfredo (jar or Knorr packet made up)
1 cup of Texmati Royal Blend Rice (long grain, white, brown, red, wild)
1.5 cups water for the rice
.5 tsp salt
1 large yellow crookneck squash or 2 little ones
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme

Simmer the rice for 15 minutes, not opening the lid. Then stir. Remove from heat and let stand for 7 minutes. If the water has not evaporated all the way off, its ok to put on low heat, stirring to encourage evaporation. 

Wash and slice the squash into bite size. Prepare the steamer basket on the stove and drop the squash in. I'd recommend doing this during the 7 minute waiting time for the rice. Steam the squash for 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Either heat 1.5 cups of alfredo or have the Knorr Alfredo sauce packet prepared. In a medium bowl, pour in rice, then squash and lastly, the alfredo. Stir gently. Serve.

Blog Changes!

Well after some haphazard incidents yesterday, my blog has been updated. I've added features that well, just make sense.
*Search Feature*
*Label Cloud*
*Share This Feature*
*Better Titles!!*
*Veg'n Alternative Recipes*
*Easier to Read Fonts*
*Different Colors*
I'm pretty pumped. Now if I only had a new camera....hmm...
There will be plenty more baking benders on the horizons. Get pumped!

21 January 2013

Simple Ones: Restaurant Style Baked Potatoes

Restaurant Style Baked Potatoes

Really, just too easy.

This is my lazy-man entry. I pursue baked potatoes at restaurants like a starving carnivore pursues fillet mignon. I think I've found the most energy efficient and quickest way to get them from potato sack to table. 
My dad always microwaved hole poked potatoes. But I love that crunchy & salty exterior. 

1 potato (can be red, russett, etc)
1 sharp knife
Smedium (yes smedium: like small medium) piece of foil
1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
Salt (kosher, pink, sea, or any kind)
toast oven 
1 cup water

Wash the potato thoroughly. Then stab the knife thru the potato many times, like a voodoo doll. Turn on toaster oven to 350 degrees. Put the potato in a bowl with the water. Microwave for 2.5 mins then flip over in the bowl and microwave for another 2.5 mins.Remove from water & bowl carefully. Roll potato in melted butter/olive oil. Lift potato and sprinkle salt on all sides of it. Then put into foil and wrap it up. Place in toaster oven. Bake for 7-10 mins. Or longer if desired. Then remove from toaster oven, unwrap, slice open top of potato and insert pat of butter. Then demolish it with your mouth :)

02 January 2013

Simple Ones: Pesto Cream Crescent Rolls

Pesto Cream Crescent Rolls

Fast, easy and tasty

We hadn't planned on having a New Year's Party at our house but our friends really wanted to come over. It was cheaper than bar hopping, cab riding, staggering around late at night. I had bought two tubes of crescent rolls just on a whim. I avoid buying processed foods. I believe the last time I had crescent rolls was my youth. These are really tasty and if you have filling left over you can easily use it as a veggie dip or with crackers. 

2 tubes of crescent rolls
1 package of cream cheese
3 tbsp of pesto
2 cloves crushed garlic

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mash the cream cheese, pesto and crushed garlic together into a nice homogeneous mixture. For ease, I recommend a silicon baking sheet (SilPat) lined large pan. Or a baking stone will work well too. Unroll the crescent rolls, with a teaspoon plop a small amount into the large end of the crescent. Roll gently large end to small end. You can pinch the ends closed if you want. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Then serve & enjoy!