Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Vegan Christmas!

My boys on Christmas, plus girlfriend Hailey

Christmas snow!

It's been a crazy year.  So crazy, we've had nobody over.  We've had no holiday gatherings at our house in something like 3 years?  We've always politely suggested that we "meet at *your* house."  Because our house was what we euphemistically like to call "in flux."  I was working like a maniac and Ben was doing about seventy-five projects at once, and, know how it goes (or maybe you don't, but if that's the case, then let's meet at *your* house).

However, my poor mom, who hates to cook, and whom we abandoned on Thanksgiving to visit Ben's parents, really needs a break.  Therefore, I finally agreed we would have Christmas Day dinner at our house.

So, never mind my sprained ankle, stress level, and work load I am ignoring this week for the sake of my own sanity.  It's Christmas, which means it's a time for family, love, sparkly gifts, and especially cooking.  Here is the menu I'm planning:

Tofurken from here (because doesn't that just look so cool?)
Garlic mashed potatoes (no recipe, winging it)
Roasted blue-and-sweet potatoes with onions and mushrooms (no recipe, winging it)
Isa's punk rock chickpea gravy (from VWAV)
Dinner rolls with Earth Balance (purchased)
Peas (just plain and roly-poly, the way the kids like them)
Big Christmas Salad (with red peppers, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, all that good stuff--free form)
Jamaican rice and peas (by which they mean beans--a recipe we got from a girl named Nana in Jamaica--she says it's the best)
Cranberry sauce (homemade because really, it's so easy, I don't get the canned thing--no recipe, winging it)
Gooseberry pie (with the berries from my dad's gooseberry bush, waiting patiently in the freezer--no recipe, winging it)
Red velvet cake with pink frosting (special-ordered from Fair Grounds coffeehouse, my fave vegan bakery)

Do you think that will be enough food? (Full disclosure: We also got a local organic ham so my dad doesn't swoon from a perceived lack of sustenance, and I'm working on him to take his first baby step from supermarket meat to locally-produced-on-small-family-farm meat, but the ham doesn't get to come to the table.  I know.).

I will report back with photos once cooking has commenced.   For now, I'm off to finish my shopping and then do some yoga so I can calm down enough to have a steady hand in the kitchen tomorrow and the next day.  Peace on earth and happy merry to all!

UPDATE:  Pictures!  Also, I was lucky enough to win one of the handmade cookbooks from Vegan Eats and Treats, so added the Panforte from that to my Christmas menu.
Grace, the cockatiel, is helping me choose a recipe.

Panforte ready to bake
Finished Panforte from Vegan Eats & Treats homemade cookbook, "Inter-Galactic Vegan Delights"

Rolling out the dough for Tofurken

Adding the sausages

Adding the cashew cheese layer

Rolling it up

Getting ready to steam it


Finished Tofurken--yum!

Preparing the gooseberry pie

Ready to bake

Cranberry sauce

Blue white sweet potatoes, ready to roast

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Refrigerator!

For about six months now, we've been limping along with a refrigerator that needs to be completely emptied about once every ten days, turned off for 24 hours, then restarted.  This is due to some fancy-schmancy broken part that would cost nearly half the price of a new refrigerator to replace.  Finally, after one too many trips down the stairs and out to the garage (aka beer) refrigerator with armfuls of food, I decided enough was enough.  We were going to have to suck it up and buy a new one.

So, after much research and a series of fortunate mishaps for which Sears and LG were variously to "blame," we are getting this new refrigerator, at a drastically reduced price.   It's a long story, but suffice it to say, I am a happy customer.

However, upon measuring last night, we realized that our cabinets above our old refrigerator are too low.  At some point, we plan to rip them all out anyway, so Ben took the circular saw and just cut off the bottom of the cabinets.  Why not?  I never liked those cabinets. 

Now, we've got a space all ready.  They will come and haul away the old one and install the new one.  Supposedly.  I remain skeptical, as it all seems too good to be true. 

I swear I'm going to keep this one shiny-sparkling-clean, oh mighty refrigerator gods!  I swear it!

In the meantime, I let the camera battery die so wasn't able to take pictures of what I've been cooking all week, but this included:

-A vegan butternut squash cheesecake, based on this Vegetarian Times pumpkin cheesecake recipe, but subbing puree I made from butternut squash I had from my CSA and using some homemade cranberry sauce in place of the candied cranberries.  Easy and so good, seriously, you should try it.  My kids had no idea it contained tofu.  Even my son's very picky girlfriend ate an entire piece, and she usually won't eat anything.
-Butternut squash soup with coconut milk, to use up my leftovers.
-Tofu breakfast burritos
-Follow Your Heart quesadillas (used their "monterey jack" cheese) with green salsa and Amy's chili (my "fast food")
-A failed attempt at Essene bread. A friend has enlightened me to my errors so I'll re-do that and post it later. 
-Probably a lot of other food I can't remember, since I eat a lot.

Now, my camera is charging and I am waiting with baited breath for my new friend, Ms. Fridge. She's stainless steel.  With four doors.  French doors.  And separate drawers for fresh fruits, crisp veggies, and various tofu-related products.  And two freezers.  And a wine drawer.  And a really tall ice maker, so I can fit the whole pitcher in there.  And...and...and..  Oh, I'm sure the reality of our relationship will soon bring my reverie to a screeching halt, but until she arrives, just let me have my fantasies. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hells Yeah Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies will spoil your dinner!
Now that Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas is next, and I'm sitting here at my desk looking out the window at actual SNOW, I have a hankering for cookies.  Peanut butter cookies.  My 12 year old son Emmett gave me the idea the other day, when he said, "Mom, will you make peanut butter cookies?" 

Hells yeah.

So I looked around and found these, on the Hell Yeah It's Vegan website.   Thanks Claryn!  I don't know you, but I like you already. 

First, I prepared my mise en place. Because I'm fancy like that.  The only thing I did differently from the recipe was to use some light coconut milk I happened to have leftover, instead of the soy milk. 

I mixed it up in my KitchenAid stand mixer (LOVE), formed the dough into balls, and then on a whim, rolled each dough ball in Florida Crystals before putting on the cookie sheet and making the old-school fork marks.  (Because it's the secret code for peanut butter cookies.)  I admit to eating some of the dough--but if I hadn't, it would have made more than two dozen cookies, and I only have two cookie sheets.  And two dozen peanut butter cookies should be enough for anyone.

Here they are, ready to put in the oven:

And here they are, all baked and delicious.  Chewy, soft in the middle, as promised.  I even baked them a little longer than stated, and they were still perfectly textured.  As you can see, between oven and plate, I now have far fewer than two dozen remaining.  Because we are all naughty cookie-snatching dinner spoilers.  All of us!