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Apr. 11th, 2009

Reading on the green

I’m Moving…

my blog to Google Blogger.  I’m still organizing and cleaning house, but you can view it here:



See you there!

Apr. 8th, 2009

Me b&w

Leftovers are Great Lunches

Even though I love to cook, the whole idea behind it is to have food for several days so that I’m not cooking from scratch every single day.  That’s why I make a different sandwich spread every week and extra amounts of my recipes. 

For lunch today before I went to the library, I warmed a whole wheat pita in the toaster oven at 200 degrees for about 3 minutes, then spread the black bean/artichoke spread on it, added baby greens & slices of avocado, then rolled it up. The toothpick is Jim’s trick to keep it together, just like in a restaurant.  And that’s the last of the wonderful chickpea toss from the other night, served at room temperature.  Delicious!




And, of course, my double shot of espresso with a scone.


Reading on the green

It’s Still Cold Here

in Michigan.  Spring is teasing us very, very slowly.  Last Saturday it was nonstop sun and in the fifties; Monday night it dipped into the thirties with snow flurries yesterday.  So I felt like soup.  Something to warm me up completely, right to my bones.  Soup does that (so does herbal tea).

This is  the Tomato Chickpea Soup with Tiny Pasta and (Fresh) Herbs (I used dried from my garden), adapted from Vegan Express:

2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
4 C water
1 C tiny pasta (I used ditalini)
1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes (I used diced)
1 15-16-oz can of chick peas, drained & rinsed
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill
sea salt & ground pepper to taste
1 tsp of sugar

1. In a soup pot, heat the oil & add the garlic.  Sauté until golden (be careful not to burn).

2. Add 4 C water, bring to a boil, then add pasta & cook until al dente.  I actually cooked it until it was not quite done, since it would cook with the rest of the ingredients later.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, except salt & pepper.  Return to a boil, then cover, lower heat & simmer gently about 10 minutes.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.


And because soup is so good with homemade biscuits, I made these Basic Baking Powder Biscuits, adapted from La Dolce Vegan:

2 C flour
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 C vegan margarine
3/4 C soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, & salt.  Stir in margarine (I cut it in with a fork), then add soy milk & vinegar until well blended.  Knead dough lightly.  I HATE rolling out & cutting biscuits (or cookies for that matter), so for fun today I took a muffin tin, lightly sprayed it with Pam Cooking Spray, then rolled the dough into little balls placing 3 in each muffin tin.  When they cooked, the balls formed together to make little cloverleaf rolls.  So cute.  They were the perfect accompaniment to the hot soup!  See for yourself.



Apr. 7th, 2009

St. Augustine

A Few Quick Meals

On Sunday I made a batch of Artichoke & Black Bean Dip for sandwiches, adapted from The Garden of Vegan:

1 15 oz can of black beans, drained & rinsed
1 clove garlic
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
ground pepper to taste
1 6 oz jar marinated artichokes, drained (I eyeball this, I don't use the whole jar)

Combine all (except artichokes) ingredients in a food processor & blend till smooth.  Add artichokes & pulse briefly to incorporate.


For dinner last night, Jim made spaghetti with his Neapolitan grandmother’s sauce (aka Josie’s Tomato Sauce) while I made a quick Chickpea Toss adapted from The Garden of Vegan:

1 15 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp dark (toasted) sesame oil
1/4 C olives (your choice; I use Spanish w/pimientos stuffed in them), chopped (but I just leave them whole)
1/2 tsp sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp curry powder

In a large pan on medium-high heat, sauté the onions & garlic in oil until onions are translucent.  Reduce heat to medium & add olives, chickpeas, & spices & simmer for a few more minutes.



Josie’s Tomato Sauce

1 large can (28 oz) of high quality tomato puree or crushed tomatoes, preferably organic
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried basil (or 1/2 C fresh in summer)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp olive oil , plus another 1/2 tbsp for finishing

In a saucepan, sauté garlic at very low temperature in the olive oil, until softened but make sure you don’t brown it.  The idea is to release the aroma not burn it.   Add the basil & sauté a bit longer, then the tomato puree & sugar & bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat to low then simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.  Add water if you want a thinner sauce during this time.  You can even use the pasta water that you use to cook your spaghetti so it has a little bit of starch in it.  Salt to taste, or even pepper, too.  Just before serving, add 1/2 tbsp more olive oil & stir.

Other variations on this sauce include, onion & oregano (instead of garlic & basil) or olives & oregano, whatever you like!  But Jim says never combine basil & oregano together because their very different tastes will cancel each other out.

P4060191 Scrumptious w/some crusty Italian bread!

Apr. 6th, 2009

Summer in my house

Jim’s Granola

My husband makes the best granola I’ve ever had.  We eat this for breakfast or a snack sometimes as a change from muesli. We’ve experimented over the last few years with different recipes, but since becoming vegan, he’s the one who has taken the time to really come up with the best recipe.  Here it is:

5 C rolled oats
1/2 C raw sunflower seeds
1/4 C whole flax seeds
1 C coarsely chopped walnuts
1 C chopped pecans
1/2 C unsweetened medium shredded coconut
1/2 C pure maple syrup, grade B (cheaper than A, good for baking)
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all dry ingredients & stir well.  Combine wet ingredients & stir well then add wet to dry & stir to coat.  On jelly roll pans, spread out the granola.  The thinner you spread it out the crunchier the granola, the thicker the chewier.  Jim uses one 9 x 12 inch pan & then another 10 x 7 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes, remove & stir well.  Then bake for another 10 minutes, remove from oven, & stir again.  Let cool then store in closed containers.  Jim uses old oatmeal cans or large glass jars.  Enjoy with soymilk for breakfast or a snack. If you want at this point (or even later when you’re ready to eat it), add any dried fruit like cherries, cranberries, or chopped apricots.  In the summer, this is wonderful with fresh blueberries or strawberries, sprinkled on fruit or even on ice cream!


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Apr. 5th, 2009


Sharing Kitchen Memories

I’m really into this book right now: image


A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg, the creator of the addictive food blog, Orangette.

Wizenberg is not vegan by any means (in fact, her recipes make me almost cringe with their enormous amounts of butter, milk, eggs, and cream), but it’s her stories & reminiscences that are so beautifully written, they make me nod my head in complete agreement and understanding.  As someone who also loves to cook and eat well, I associate many of the recipes I make with my own memories of family, situations, and childhood.  This book perfectly captures that. 

I first heard about this book on another blog I read, The Angry Chicken.  That blogger is a stay-at-home mom/crafter/artist who lives in Oregon.

A Homemade Life would be the perfect gift for that cook you know who is in love with food.


Today I made some more biscotti (recipe posted on Feb. 7).  Here are some pics of what the process looks like:

P4050160 the dough as I form the “logs” pre-baking


P4050163 cutting them after they’ve cooled for 10 minutes


P4050167 And the finished delectable-ness of it all as they cool on the pan!


I also made a batch of scones (recipe also posted on Feb. 7):

P4050178 The recipe made 12 scones in all. 


Here’s my original 1951 kitchen—many people would be horrified but I find it charming in a June Cleaver/Donna Reed sort of way:


Apr. 3rd, 2009


A New Kind of Pizza

Look what was waiting for me when I got home from work today:


Jim gets home earlier than I do and he was apparently in a cooking mood!  And I thought I was going to have to come up with my own dinner.  As it was, I only had to do the dishes.

Like most recipes in Dreena Burton’s cookbooks, this one takes a few steps to put together but, hey, if Jim wanted to, hooray for me!

This recipe is adapted from the Brown Rice Pizza from Vive Le Vegan:

After cooking 3/4 C brown rice and 1/2 C millet in 3 1/4 C water, he mixed it with some olive oil, oregano, basil, marjoram, sea salt, & black pepper.  He then spread the mixture on a lightly oiled baking sheet until it stuck together like dough, even up the rim of the pan.  He then baked it for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.  He made a quick tomato sauce and smoothed that over the rice “dough.”  Earlier, while the grains were cooking, he roasted some mushrooms & onions spiced with sea salt, olive oil, & balsamic vinegar on a parchment paper covered baking sheet, then cut them up & added them to the pizza, along with some roasted red peppers, martichokes, & Spanish olives.  Then he baked it once again for another 15 minutes.

It was delicious & very different.  The vegetables were the perfect complement on top of the sticky, firm grains underneath.  This isn’t like bread dough pizza, however, and it isn’t supposed to be.  If you try to pick it up with your hands it will fall apart.  You eat it with a fork and knife.

As you can see, this would be a great recipe for any leftover rice you might have & tomato sauce.  It would come together a lot quicker. 

Apr. 2nd, 2009


This Salad Looks Like Spring

I wouldn’t call it a spring salad, though, since it doesn’t have any seasonal vegetables in it.  It’s not quite the growing season here in Michigan.  But soon the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market will be filled with the farmers & all their delicious produce.  I can’t wait.  I’m starting to get impatient.  I really miss the taste of a fresh tomato.  I hate grocery store tomatoes out of season so I haven’t had one since the fall.  Cucumbers, too. Jim’s got his seeds started under grow lights in our dining room & they’re already getting their secondary leaves.  We’ve got lemon cucumbers (I swear they’re shaped like lemons but they are cucumbers), Riverside onions, Arkansas Traveler  & Ropreco Paste tomatoes, & Fino Verde & Greek basils.  He also plans to grow lettuce, potatoes, & beets.

In the kitchen garden outside my side door, I see the parsley popping up & the chives are already several inches tall (& very green).  And our mints are poking up so it will soon be time to put them in pots again for the summer (otherwise they will take over the gardens). 

I decided to make this salad because I had some soft wheat berries I want to use.  Wheat berries are yet another grain out there in the big wide world of grains.  I first heard about wheat berries in this wonderful cookbook I own called Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson.  It’s a gorgeous soft cover cookbook filled with recipes made from whole foods.  She talks about so many different grains—I can’t wait to try them all.  They have beautiful names like amaranth, teff, & farro.  And they look so pretty in salads & soups.  Best of all, they are very high in fiber so when added to recipes, they can be very filling.

For this salad I used a recipe on the back of the Bob’s Red Mill bag that looked really good.  I’m usually not a fan of package recipes and, as always, I didn’t follow it exactly, mostly because I didn’t have all of the ingredients.  The important thing is that it came out pretty and it tastes good.

Wheat berries take forever to cook so I thought I’d save some time by soaking them overnight; well, let me tell you that that didn’t help much.  They still took about 45 minutes to soften completely.  They look like fat rice-shaped pasta & are kind of chewy like pasta, too.  I like the color & different look they give to this salad.

While the wheat berries were simmering, I made the dressing (or “vinaigrette” as the package called it).  It specified 1/2 cup of olive oil which I always think is too much, so I used a 1/3 cup instead.  Then I added 2 tbsp fresh lime juice, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, some dried parsley (because I didn’t have fresh—not yet anyway), 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (it called for honey mustard but I didn’t have), a sprinkling of minced onion (it called for 1 tbsp minced shallot—now that I think of it, I could have used garlic), 1/4 tsp sea salt, & ground black pepper to taste, & whisked it with a fork. 

When the wheat berries were cooked, I drained them then put them in a large bowl.  I then took 1 15-oz can of white kidney (cannellini) beans & drained & rinsed them.  I added the beans to the bowl, as well as 1/2 cup of chopped onion & 1/2 cup chopped celery.  I then poured the dressing all over the salad & tossed to combine.  I chilled it in the refrigerator for a few hours to blend the flavors.  Isn’t it beautiful?


See? It does look spring-like, doesn’t it?



I served it on a bed of mixed greens.

Mar. 31st, 2009

Front yard

A Nice Warm Soup

It’s still cold here in Michigan, even though the calendar says it’s spring!  I feel like I need a little bit of extra love today (read, comfort food) so I made a soup.  This is a Chipotle Corn Black Bean Soup from Vive Le Vegan:

1 1/2-2 tbsp olive oil
1-1 1/2 C onion, chopped
3 medium to large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 C celery, chopped
1 1/2 C carrots, chopped
4 tsp cumin (I used 3--this is a strong spice)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4-1/3 C sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I didn't have so I left out)
3 1/2 C cooked black beans (about 2 14-oz cans)
2 C vegetable stock
1 1/2-2 C water
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp tamari
1/2-1 tsp chipotle hot sauce (I used 1 tsp Tabasco)
2 bay leaves (I used 1)
1 1/2 C frozen corn kernels
fresh lime wedges (for serving)
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish (I didn't have anymore today! :( )

I didn't measure any of the onions, celery, or carrots--I just eyeballed it. 

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil.  Add onions, garlic, salt & pepper. Stir, cover & let cook for a few minutes.  Add celery, carrots, spices, & tomatoes, stir, cover, & let cook 5-7 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.  Add beans,stock, 1 1/2 C water (reserve 1/2 C), balsamic vinegar, tamari, hot sauce, & bay leaf.  Increase heat & bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover, & let cook for 15-20 minutes.  Remove bay leaves, & using a hand blender, puree the soup until somewhat smooth but still has chunks of goodies in it.  Stir in the corn &, if you want to thin the soup, the reserved 1/2 C water (mine didn't need this).  Cover & let soup simmer for a few more minutes.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce.  Serve with lime wedges & avocado. 

We ate it with a side salad of the warmed potato salad I made yesterday.

Mar. 30th, 2009

Holly Golightly

I Need to Read Even More

As a librarian, I read a lot, about three books a week, but sometimes more, in addition to online sources such as newspapers, blogs, & other information for my job.  But I’m finding that I think I need to read even more about veganism.  I have never, ever been a person who is quick with the comebacks and that is why I sometimes get tongue-tied when people ask me direct questions about myself.  Even though I’m a librarian and work on a busy reference desk every day, I can handle questions about other topics but when it comes to me and my life, I find it harder. 

But, as a new-ish vegan, I find myself sometimes stymied when people ask me questions about why I’m vegan, what I eat, etc.  Now that I think about it, it’s only some people that have that effect on me.  They seem genuinely confused, sometimes even angry, & bewildered that anyone would want to be a vegan.  They think it’s limiting, boring, weird, etc.  But this is why I need to read more so that I can talk about it easier.  On my blog, I at least have time to think about what I’m going to say and phrase it right. 

Jill Ovnik (of the Vegan Gal DVD) gave me the advice of reading more, especially information by Dr. McDougall.  She said you probably won’t change anyone’s mind or convert them to veganism, but you will give them something to think about and ponder.  For example, where do cows get their protein & calcium?  How much protein is in breast milk?  Or, what species drinks the milk of another?  Or, as Dr. McDougall asks on his site, “Ever consider Diet vs. Drugs?; Oatmeal vs. Obesity? or “Peas vs. Pills?”

What I’m finding more and more is that most people only think of food and eating when they’re hungry, and then as a nuisance, another task in a busy day, instead of the nourishment and necessity that your body needs to keep working well.  So if it seems like a lot to think about, it is.  Most people don’t think about their body and what they put into it until their body isn’t working right (indigestion, headache, etc.), then they go to the doctor and ask for drugs.

And I know vegans are in the minority.  A quick perusal of this site and it was ALL meat or seafood every single day for all meals!  http://food.yahoo.com/everyday/dinner/  It’s crazy.

I’ll let you what I’m reading and what I learn in the process.


In the meantime, today I made this super delicious warm potato salad, adapted from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan:

1 1/2 lb new potatoes or fingerling potatoes (I used an unspecified amount of red potatoes, & it was a lot more than this recipe called for--good for leftovers!)


2 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
4 tbsp olive oil
1/8 C pine nuts (I didn't have so I left it out)


2 1/2 C loosely packed baby spinach leaves
1/4 C packed fresh basil (I didn't have so I left it out)
3/4-1 C artichokes chopped (I used marinated, drained)
1/2-3/4 C red bell peppers, diced (I used green)
1/4-1/3 C pitted Kalamata or green olives (I used green), halved or chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts (again, I left out)
1/2-1 tbsp olive oil (optional if need for more moisture)

Boil potatoes in a large pot of water.  Reduce to simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced, about 12-15 minutes.  If using the pine nuts, blend all vinaigrette ingredients in a blender until smooth; just stir together in a small bowl if not.  When potatoes are done, drain & allow to cool just enough to handle, then cut in half or in quarters (I cut mine into bite-sized pieces).  I then returned potatoes to the cooking pot (no need to dirty yet another bowl), then tossed in vinaigrette & salad mix & tossed that all together.  I ate some warm after making it but it’s also just as good chilled or at room temperature.

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