24 December, 2009

God Save The Queen. . .but who will save me?

Today I’m listening to my John Lee Hooker station on Pandora and baking for Christmas. I was going to try to make the Buche de Noel this year to bring to my mom’s house but changed my mind when Joel suggested I make a Battenberg cake (which is infinitely more portable than a cake shaped like a log and covered with SOB Battenberg. meringue mushrooms). We first heard about this cake whilst reading the Thursday Next novels. The mother of the main character bakes these cakes and everyone seems to love them. So, here is it the recipe I’m using and here is a picture of the finished product. (Note the GIANT bowl of cake behind it.)

And now begin the problems: you’re supposed to be using two yellow cakes and dye one pink for the checkers but the store only had one box of yellow cake in the right size so I had to buy a chocolate one instead. Also, they didn’t have seedless raspberry jam. We saw another recipe that called for apricot so Joel picked out some apricot preserves that I had to heat and then run through a sieve to make sure it wasn’t lumpy. *sigh*

The final word:

So, uh, this cake is the most wasteful, annoying cake I’ve ever made. First of all, my marzipan had to have been on the old side because it as HARD AS A ROCK! I hurt my finger trying to knead it and I could barely get it to roll out.Then, after trimming away all the cake I didn’t need I was still left with about 1/2 of a cake left in little pieces that you can’t really do anything with all over the place. Fortunately, I have a back-up plan: cakeballs. Yes, yes, that bastion of American tastefulness! Le lazy-man’s truffle! Behold!

Additionally, as you may have noticed, there are some days missing. I believe it was Friday when I made the black bean burgers from Sandra’s Money Saving Meals. I followed the advice in the comments section and let my mix sit in the fridge for about an hour before making the burgers and it definitely made a difference in the workability of the mix. I also added the recommended spices: 1/4 teaspoon coriander and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. I made one final change on my own: 2-3 chipotle peppers DOUGH!!!in adobo sauce that I had left over from another recipe. If you like Morningstar’s Spicy Black Bean Burgers you’ll flip over this. I even went so far as to follow this blogger’s advice regarding making my own burger buns that came out spectacularly.

Also, on Sunday I made Superchunk Banana Bread.little soldiers at the ready. ginger, apricots, hazlenuts Again, I had a bunch of stuff left over from other recipes and this seemed like a perfect place to use it. I started with a basic banana bread recipe and added in, well, super chunks. In the first loaf I added candied ginger, apricots, and hazelnuts. The second loaf was raisins and almonds. Each of the “chunk” ingredients got a rough chop and that’s about it. Needless to say, the first load is almost gone while the second loaf, although good, is still only about half way through. LOAF!

And finally, last night for dinner I made potato gnocchi. breakfast of champions

I’d post the recipe but I can’t. Here’s how the story went: My family made about 10 pounds of mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and had about 6 pounds left over. Since everyone in my family is consistently on a diet I take home pretty much all the leftovers from every family event. So, my grandmother looks at this HUGE bowl of potatoes and says, “for this much you need 3 eggs, a hand full of spaghetti cheese, and as much flour as it will take.” Ummm, yeah. So, I’d say, if I had to guess, the recipe goes something like:

for every 2 pounds of mashed potatoes you need:

1 egg

1/2 cup parmesan, or whatever. I have a fontina, asiago blend

salt and pepper to taste

and, because I was in the mood, I added some Italian herbs to the mix.

once that’s all mixed up sprinkle in flour by the handful and stir until a dough forms. I kept adding a little at a time until the dough was juuuuuus barely not sticky but was still sticky enough that you had to flour your hands to work with it. . . .it’s not a science people!

After that I measured it dough out into 1 pound baggies and froze it for when I’m in a pinch for dinner or I’m feeling like an Italian feast. This is SERIOUS “stick to your ribs” food.

Oh, and to get that cute shape you need a fork. Preferably one with long, straight tines. First, take your dough and roll it out into snakes just like when you play with play dough. Then cut each snake into small, bite-sized pillows. You can eyeball it but don’t get crazy: 1/2 inch at most. Then place the pillow on the fork and, using your thumb, press and curl the gnocchi down the tines and around your thumb. Voila! Seashell shapes! This lady does it differently then we do but it seems to work just as well. Maybe next time I’ll remember to show you how to do it my way.

Whew! That’s a lot of cooking. . . but, I do eat every day.

18 December, 2009

Feeling Chilly About This Recipe

My chili for dinner last night was a bit of a disappointment. I took the recipe from Savvy Vegetarian (it’s in my intro-blog if you really want to look it up). The recipe was disorganized, poorly written, and hard to follow.

I used such an amalgam of great ingredients! Look:


That’s a LOT of spices. . . it just wasn’t beany enough and, maybe, it was too thin in the sauce department. Not to mention that 4 chipotles in adobo still didn’t make it spicy enough for me.

I froze the left-overs and, hopefully, with some luck and a little kitchen magic, I can make them into something a little more palatable.

In other news, They sell this wine at Whole Foods and I LOVE IT! If you can find it drink it all up!

SSPX0010You see, it has the “reflection” effect because it's that good.

17 December, 2009


I do believe that last night’s potluck was a success. After some well-timed tidying and a couple fabulously-easy make-ahead recipes I was ready for the night. Unfortunately for Mr. Crow, I was not as ready as I should have been and I had forgotten to pick up the ingredients for the raita that was to be served atop the samosa pie. Darn! So he very kindly stopped at Whole Foods on the way home from work to acquire the much needed ingredients.

My creepily punctual friends all arrived at EXCACTLY the same time (about 7:03 PM) and both my front and back doors were awash with hungry, and hello-ing faces bringing a multitude of delectable edibles to my abode. The M.s, who, amid contracting disasters and heaps of stress, very kindly made time for me and my extraterrestrial, meat-free shindig, brought Kalamata Olive tapenade and some incredible bread. The C.s brought a beautiful fruit platter with some kind of yogurt-y, delicious dip. An the Mc.s brought Indian spiced, julienned rutabaga and butternut squash with a balsamic reduction; both of these dishes kicked my ass with fabulousness.

Last Friday was Mrs. C.’s birthday so, knowing she was coming, I made her a special birthday treat: a tiramisu cheesecake! Mr. Crow found me ladyfingers and it came out pretty well, I’d say. A couple of them fell over into the cake but the taste was there even if the presentation was not :) Mr. M., who loves tiramisu, conspired with others in the party to hide the calorie-laden sweet all for themselves causing me to walk back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room with a confused expression looking for it, much tot he delight of all those present and making me feel l like I was more insane than usual.

As far as my dishes, they included two recipes from the most recent issue of Vegetarian times. First, my dinner offering:

Indian Samosa Casserole (annotated)

Everything you love about Indian samosas is here in one low-fat, easy-to-make pie. Serve with Cucumber Raita or Tofu Raita from vegetariantimes.com *This recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to . . . well, a while. Skip to the end for heating instructions in that case. Also, don’t preheat our oven if you’re going to freeze this; that’s just silly.

I'll be making this again.


1/2c all purpose flour

1/2c whole-wheat pastry flour

1/4t salt

2T vegetable oil


1T black or yellow mustard seeds (I used yellow)

1t curry powder

1t ground ginger

1/2t ground cumin

1/8t red pepper flakes, optional (I left this out)

5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered (Yukon gold, I left the skin)

1 1/2t vegetable oil

1 medium onion, dices (1 c)

1 medium carrot, diced (1/2 c)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1c frozen peas

1c low sodium vegetable broth (Better Than Bullion is the best!)

2t agave nectar or sugar (I forgot this)

2T soymilk (I used the cow-type because that’s what I had)

1. To make the crust: Preheat oven to 375*F. Whisk together flours and salt in a bowl. Stir in oil until clumps form. Add 6 to 10 T of cold water 1T at a time until dough holds together. Shape into a ball, cover with a damp towel, and set aside. (I used my food processor for this and it worked perfectly.)

2. To make the filling: Stir together mustard seeds, curry, ginger, cumin, and pepper flakes, if using, in a bowl; set aside.

3. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water 15 minutes or until tender. Drain, return to pot and mash, leaving small chunks.

4. Heat oil in a skillet (9” worked just fine) over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic and sauté 5 minutes, or until carrot is tender. Move to side of pan, and add mustard seed mixture in the center. Toast 30 seconds. Stir in peas and broth. Fold onion mixture into potato mixture: stir in agave nectar/sugar. Season with salt and pepper, if desired (I desired it). Spread filling into a 9” pie pan and set aside.

5. Roll out crust dough to 11” circle on floured work surface. Cover filling with dough, pressing down to make sure no air pockets remain. Trim away excess dough and crimp edges with fingers. Cut an X in the center to vent steam: brush with soymilk just before baking. Place pie on a baking sheet (oops), and bake 40-50 minutes, or until crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

6. Frozen cooking instructions: Preheat oven to 375*F. Place casserole on baking sheet and bake 75-90 minutes or until filling bubbles and crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Sadly, there were no leftovers of this for me to have for breakfast. Also a tragedy, I completely forgot to put out the raita that I sent Mr. Crow to get he ingredients for. . . merrr.

For dessert I made an incredibly easy, gluten free crisp:

Orange-Apricot Crisp

Brown rice flour, vegan margarine, orange zest, and vanilla come together to make a crunchy-sweet, topping for a fruity winter dessert.looks a little sandy but tastes so good

8 Oranges, plus 1t grated orangege zest (I just used the zest of 1 orange rather than measure)I love my microplane!

2c dried apricots, thinly sliced

1/2c dried currants or raisins (raisins)

1/2c chopped candied ginger (Thanks General Electric)

1c brown rice flour

1/2c sugar

1/2t salt

6T vegan margarine, softened (I used cow-butter, don’t judge me)

1/2t vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350*F Coat a 9’ square baking pan with cooking spray (uh, yeah, I used a 9x13 pan and it was fine)

2. cut ends from oranges. Stand 1 orange on cutting board, and slice away peel and pith. Cut orange into quarters; cut quarters into 1/2” thick slices. Repeat with remaining oranges, and transfer to bowl. Stir in apricots, currants, and candied ginger. Spread mixture into prepared baking pan.

3. Stir together brown rice flour, sugar, zest, and salt in a bowl. Rub margarine and vanilla into flour mixture with fingers until combined and mixture forms large crumbs. Spread crumb mixture over orange mixture.

4. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until top of crisp is golden brown. Cool 10 minutes: serve warm.

This recipe was surprisingly good. It seemed a little weird but the picture in the magazine looked SO GOOD I just had to try it out. Plus, I love apricots. So there. This is a really nice fruit dessert for when nothing else is in season and you’re sick of eating pears, apples, and bananas. . . which I am.

WHEW! Now that that’s out of the way I can say whet else we did.

Unfortunately, the Cs had to leave because Mr. C is a diligent, hard working individual who must get up at the butt-crack of dawn to crawl into small places and get dirty for money. Bu-hao! But we’re glad they could make it and share food at our table. Those of us left, the Mc.s and the M.s along with Mr. Crow and myself, of course, played a game called 7 Deadly Sins. This game is a hilarious cross between Trivial Pursuit and Truth Or Dare. Throughout the game we had to spank our own butts and say “I’m a dirty, filthy pig!”, crawl around on the floor like amorous slugs, and demonstrate our favorite sexual positions using chairs/pillows. One contestant even had to show everyone their underpants. . . oh, and we had to rub lotion on “all 4 cheeks”. . hopefully no one breaks out. A good time was had by all. The “sin-off” between me and Mr. M. was a decided victory in his favor. The M.s left then, leaving the Mc.s and us to play Wii Fit Plus and laugh uproariously until the wee hours of the morning. Joy!

And now it's Thursday. I slept all cozy-snuggly with my Sambot until noon (holy crap), ate left-over tiramisu cheesecake for breakfast, regretted it immediately, and sat down for a serious blog-session, obviously. So now, I must do dishes, sweep the floor and jump on the treadmill so I don’t feel too bad about my food-choices. Oh, and if you want me to post that cheesecake recipe let me know and I’ll do it another time. I’m sick of typing.

* Someday I’ll get the hang of taking pictures but, right now, our camera is in the shop for repairs and I have a hard time remembering to bust out my phone to take pictures. Sorry.

15 December, 2009

Caught Rasterbating!!!

No recipe tonight because it's Tuesday and Tuesday means that Mr. Crow and I go to "our" bar, Hal & Al's and eat Rad Dogs. I ate a Radneck and the stellar bartender helped me into one of my favorite drinks, Purple Haze. Finger lickin' good

Taping down the edges.Sam is helping!Mr. Crow himself.Neil, lord of all he surveys.

Now we're home and Quan Yin is going up on the dining room wall to the tune of 5' x 7'. Epic to say the least. We used a program called Rasterbator to giant-size a picture I found on the Internet. This program turns any picture into a multi-page PDF extravaganza that you can print out and tape to your wall. After three days of struggling with our printer we just put the file on a flash drive and took it to Kinkos where, for about $5.00, they printed out the most glorious 45 pages EVER! We used the double-sided tape that came with our window sealing kits to affix the picture to the wall.
BEHOLD! The finished product!Quan Yin

14 December, 2009


Mr. Crow was in the mood for a burger and not in the mood to do dishes so we warmed up a couple Planet Burgers and added some fabulous toppings: applewood smoked mozzarella cheese from Whole Foods, sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil that we grew ourselves on the windowsill, and some whole wheat toast. It was positively luscious.

Planet Burger Recipe (adapted from Vegetarian Times)

12 oz cooked chickpeas
1 medium onion
4 oz cooked adzuki beans
1/2 cup of almonds
1/4 cup Braggs liquid aminos
2 eggs
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 meduim carrot, shredded
1/3 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup dried parsley
1 tsp. Dried thyme

Put the first 6 ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and form into patties. Easy-peasy.

The recipe in VT said it makes 9 burgers but I got 13 out of it. I put mine on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper in the freezer for an hour or so to solidify and then retired them to a giant freezer bag for safe keeping. Any time I want one I just defrost it a bit in the microwave and then crisp it up in a frying pan.

Le Menu

Lots of good things start out with a plan. That is not to say that impromptu goodness doesn't exist(the Universe is full of it, after all) but, when you're hungry and a random assortment of aging fruits and ramen noodles is staring back at you balefully from your kitchen counter you kind of wish you'd organized your week better. So, with my college graduation looming in a matter of weeks and a newly "veggefied" partner to feed I feel that we could benefit from a little bit of planning.

So, I have assembled the troops: Major Mixer, General (Electric) Food-Processor, Lieutenant Colonel Immersion-Blender, Captain Bowl, Sargent Whisk et al to aid me in my crusade. Our mission: non-boring vegetarian food, for two, on a budget. We have the maps, the measurement tools, and, so long as the trains are running, the supplies to make it through. We will slog through the jungle of nutritional misinformation with the power of our mental fortitude to forge a bright, delicious new future for us and our people! HUZZAH!

So, now that we've gone over the mission statement, let's continue on with this week's menu briefing. First, Then this website told me to have a potluck. Then Mr. Crow brought home a little treasure for me this week: someone from his work gave him the latest issue of Vegetarian Times which is chock full of inspiring recipes. Thus, the potluck was born of cosmic alignment. On top of that, last Friday was my fiend Blake's birthday and I'm making her a food-gift. Okay, now, with the exposition over, let's get to the heart of the matter:

For the potluck tomorrow I'm making a samosa pie (Vege Times) and an orange-apricot crumble (Vege Times) as well as a tiramisu cheesecake for my dear Blake. The rest of the week will be these recipes in no particular order:

1. slow-cooker Chili

2. Black Bean Burgers

3. The corresponding enchilada recipe from that

4. Spaghetti Squash with tempeh Bolognese (vege times)

Unfortunately for whomever my audience is, last night's dinner was oven roasted brussel sprout medley with nori over rice noodles. That was super-delicious and you can find that recipe in the latest vegetarian Times issue as well.

That's it. We're diving right in with the recipes and the power. There will be a second post today after I find out what Mr. Crow wants for dinner. And, before you ask, yes, there will be pictures.