Veganly Delicious

Julie-Juliaing one cookbook at a time.

Interview with Kelly Peloza. (Cookie Queen).

I should have mentioned… there should have been more brownies. Brownies makes girls happy too. 🙂
Also – you should be thankful. I pressed a button and something happened and my entire review went poof. I may or may not have cursed by accident , and freaked out a lot). But thankfully, the back button had the review that I had done. If not, it would have been.

“Book was good.” (I am not lying).

Anyway.  My relationship with Kelly started like this.

I was looking up her candy Zine (Vegan Candyland.. Which I will have to admit is buried somewhere in my room. Again. Oh found it). I’ve been eyeing it for ages. I am not the biggest candy person, but sometimes when you want a craving, it’s good to have. When you are a vegan/plant-based eater, 98% of your favourite candies are forboddon. (Damn darn butter).

Anyway – I was looking at this for ages. Since I was in collage. And I finally decide, okay – I’m going to get this book. And it was sold out. (My luck). So I email Kelly and go. Pretty much verbatim.

“Please don’t tell me that this has gone out of print, because I might just freak out.”

(with or without a little more melodrama).

Kelly’s first response was LOL (I tend to invoke that in people. A Lot). and said she had a few more copies hanging around and I bought it. And then as I am the kind of person who needs to dissect every single recipe I made (for clarity), we’ve shot the breeze a few times. And I’m testing for her new cookbook.

Yay.

She has cookies in it.

Double yay.

So She and Alicia were my 1-2 first interview punch. I am getting better at this process. 🙂 Here’s the interview.

Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for letting me interview you! How are you doing?

Good, thank you!

So how long have you been a vegan? What inspired you to be a vegan?
I’ve been vegan for about 8 years now. I was vegetarian on and off since age 10, then fully committed to it a few years later. I started reading about veganism, factory farms, nutrition, and all the issues surrounding veganism, and decided to make the switch a few months later.

What prompted you to write your first cookbook? Was it difficult to get started?
I started reading food blogs after becoming vegan and decided to start my own blog (here http://myvegancreations.blogspot.com/ is my very first blog, for some laughs and truly horrendous food photography!) and write recipes for it. I began recipe testing for other cookbook authors and got a feel for the cookbook writing process. Cookies were always my favorite dessert to make, and that winter, I was making gingerbread people and thought about how cool it would be to write a book of all vegan cookies. A few months later and some recipes compiled, I decided to take the plunge. I wouldn’t say it was difficult to get started with all the resources available on the internet, but the whole venture was a huge learning experience and I definitely made a lot of mistakes the first time around.

I have to say – the name is awesome “Vegan Cookie Connoisseur” What prompted that?
I think it just popped into my head one day. I heard the word connoisseur in the context of cooking and baking all the time when I first started blogging, and it stuck with me. That happens often—I’ve always loved reading and becoming obsessed with certain words. I was a weirdo, always reading the dictionary as a kid. (Liv: me too. I swear, I read the encylopaedias and the dictionaries all the time. 😀 I was the smartest kid in the world, until high school. Then I just couldn’t be bothered).
You have a Zine based on Candy! What prompted that?
I wrote it in the time between finishing the cookie book manuscript and before the book came out. There’s a several month period of down time after writing a cookbook before it’s actually released, so I wanted to try something a little different while still writing recipes.

So you have a candy cookbook and a cookie cookbook – why the focus on sweets? 

Baking allows for creativity while still being a precise science, making it necessary to follow certain formulas and take notes for everything. All throughout school, I loved art and math equally (weird, I know!), and took AP Calculus and studio art classes simultaneously in high school. Since fine arts won out career-wise, I keep my creative work in check by being meticulous and organized. Baking is just like my personality. I love cooking, but I either make up dishes as I go (never really writing anything down), or cook from a recipe. I’ve thought about writing zines that involve cooking, but not sure about books at this point. Cooking is just a whole different animal.

What did you want to accomplish with the book (other than you know, giving us a TONNE of delicious cookies!)
I wanted to create a collection of vegan desserts made the way I cook and bake—using accessible ingredients, fewer bowls and utensils, and decadent ingredients. No tofu/flax seed/applesauce/egg replacer health food-y concoctions!
To which I think I can safely speak for everyone when I say: thank you. 

What do you think of the Vegan Cookbook explosion? Why do you think it’s happening now?
It probably has much to do with the media and celebrity attention veganism has received lately. Veganism on Oprah, and movie stars going vegan every other week definitely help push it into the mainstream. Publishers who normally don’t make vegan cookbooks (or cookbooks at all) are publishing vegan cookbooks as a result, and vegan options are popping up at more restaurants, thankfully!

What’s your inspiration? 
There’s so many! Animals, of course. Art! I’m just as much devoted to food photography as making the actual food (perhaps more so). The work of other artists, cookbook authors, and people in the vegan community is always inspiring.

Who’s your favourite chef (vegan or otherwise?)
I love all the vegan chefs I’ve gotten a chance to meet, work with, and get to know at vegfests and conferences over the past few years. I love me some Food Network as well. (Liv: ME TOO. I miss the Food Network. Anna Olson & Giada and Me – good ole times, y’all).

For those reading and wondering if veganism (or at least very strict vegetarian) is for them, what would you suggest for them?
I would suggest picking up some cookbooks, doing some research online, reading blogs, and checking out restaurants and groups in your area. I imagine it’s SO much easier to go vegan right now than 5 or 10 years ago with all the resources available, so there’s no excuse to not go for it if you’re interested. (Liv: none! if you want one to start with Oh She Glows, & The Post Punk Kitchen for fail-proof recipes that are full of yum!)

Would you say your books are for the newly veganist out there?

My first was Vegan with a Vengeance. Veganomicon may be a bit daunting for a beginner, but it depends on the person. I’d recommend both those books for new vegans. 

What are your favourite recipes from VCC? What about Vegan Candyland?
My favorite recipes from VCC are the chocolate peppermint cream bars and the giant double chocolate chip cookies. I love making Kit Kats from Vegan Candyland, and the caramels are a great place to start for other caramel-based recipes.

Do you have any other books coming out? What about Zines?
Details are forthcoming (on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc) for the next book, but it will be released November 2013! I may write another zine early next year after I’ve finished the book I’m working on now. A couple years ago for April Fool’s Day, I “announced” the release of a new cookbook based on vegan bacon desserts. A few people were disappointed that it was just a joke, so I may do a vegan bacon zine…or maybe something else!

Thanks Kelly!

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Review of the Vegan Cookie Connoisseur

I think it is a little bit obvious how much I love cookies.

Muffins are okay. Cupcakes are decent. But cookies?

Let’s back up.

When I was growing up, Cookie Monster was like my favourite Sesame  Street Character. My little friend-cousin (You know, your families are so close, you call them ‘auntie-uncle, ergo, their kids technically are your ‘cousins’ but they aren’t? anyway, work with me), had this little Cookie Monster counting game, and it was like this awesome juggling thing… it was cool.
My first thing I ever baked…. (horribly, but the house still smelled great), was the Neiman Marcus cookie scam cookie. You know the one – “I asked them how much it was, and they overcharged me, so here’s the recipe, mauhauauha!… note. if anything in baking asks for 1/2 cup salt, you know the fault is totally you and your handwriting, not the recipe.

As much as I love cookbooks that have meals, and stuff, I kind of geek out at the dessert cookbooks that just dedicate themselves to cookies. (even the non vegan ones. I always wonder, how can I veganize it? I saw one called “Very Merry Christmas Cookie Party” and it was awesome. In my mind i’m just thinking flax seed for most of them, or more oil for the rest….Someone’s really gotta get on that y’all. Vegan Christmas Cookies. The Bible of Vegan Cookies. Something, I’m just shooting out ideas)

Cookies make everything better. I don’t even think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t like a cookie. And if you are one of

In the vegan world there aren’t a lot of books dedicated to just the cookie. Oh sure, some books have whole dedicated sections for just cookies, but an entire cookie book?. No.

This is where I sing praises to Kelly Peloza for taking the plunge and help inspire the market with her book. (the first was Isa & Terry’s Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar Nov. 10th 2009).

And I was very excited when ThomasAllen  (The Canadian Publishing company based in Toronto), gave me a copy of this book to review because I was interviewing Kelly!  (I may or may not have squealed happily). So here we go. My first official review of a book (without doing the whole month cookthrough, but not a quick breeze by either)… I bring to you…..

hmm…. 140 cookies….

The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur
Kelly Peloza
Published Nov. 4th 2010 by Skyhorse Publishing
Hardcover  – 288 Pages – ISBN-13 978-1616081218

This book is a miniature coffee book . Skyhorse Publishing used the same format for Hannah Kaminsky’s Vegan Desserts and Vegan A La Mode books. So the minute you look at it and the the pages (without even cracking the spine) you know it is going to be rift with pictures. (a little note – did you know that the author does not control if the book has pictures or not? Or how many are used, or the format of them? That’s all publishing.).

It’s a hardcover book, which I like for baking. Don’t ask me why, I just do. Actually a little thing is I like hardcovers for all my cookbooks. They just… have this presentation to it, they tend to lie flat once you crack the spine enough, and if the signatures (sorry, Library term, – the pages), are sewn tightly enough, it lasts you for a good long time.

The fonts is a nice curly-que. (This is used for all headers, and titles). Your basic standing book font is used for the recipes.

There are Thirteen chapters in this book –

  • Introduction
  • How to be a Vegan Connoisseur (no word of a lie – that word gives me fits, I always forget the extra “s”)
  • 11 chapters on the cookie variations themselves. (Eleven chapters. of cookie variations.)
  • Decorating Ideas

Also – Kelly is really sweet. She acknowledges everyone first (I think that’s really awesome. I may or may not bypass it to get to the awesomeness of the cookie – but to have it first shows that the book isn’t possible without those who helped out. I lie, I do always read the names in the acknowledgements. I also stay until the credits are finished rolling).

 

As with all (vegan) cookbooks, we start with your what you needs, what to dos, and why we uses.  Pretty straight forward stuff, what Kelly prefers, product suggestions, frequently used things. Basically if you bake – you most likely have these things, if you don’t, you might want to head to your nearest Wal-Mart or Bed, Bath & Beyond. Also, I am jealous that Kelly has 100+ cookie cutters. I have like 3.

She also has a chocolate melting guide (for both microwave use + a faux double broil method). This was really useful, because honestly, until I read that, I had no clue how to do it. I just thought, pop it in the microwave, toss it in the pot with the water. (or rather – don’t even bother).

Also a question/answer section. (And this is key, because she does knock out a few specific questions, that pertain to the cookies in the book). For example sifted flour. I always sift. (once I figured out it makes baked good awesome). However, some recipes require that you don’t sift. She talks about flours you can/can not (or should not used).  These may seem tired and old, but I always read the Q&A portions of books.

And now. the recipes.
coookies….

Kelly has provided us: Cookies that are inspired by drinks. (So Apple Cider, Lemonade Cookies, White Russian Cookies, Pina Colada Cookie Bars)… Kelly is not afraid to go out of the box, y’all. What I’ve noticed about Kelly’s innovative cooking style, is that it might not be the cookie. It might just be your basic cookie, and it’s the glaze/icing that puts it over the top. I – will be honest. I was never a glazed/icing kind of girl on my cookie. A cookie doesn’t need frosting. (gingerbread, Oreos excluded), it doesn’t need sprinkles, it doesn’t need… stuff.

It just needs to be a cookie.

However, take it from me: if Kelly has a glaze for the cookie – the thing that takes the cookie over the top is the glaze. At least glaze a few. Do a taste test. I won’t mind.

What would be nice here, especially that she addressed the peanut butter usage question in the Q&A, is it were possible to use homemade apple butters, or peanut butters. (To be fair, this was before the big “Make your own!” boon).

Then Kelly goes nuts (Really – 21 cookies based on nuts variations…. and okay she cheats, one is not a cookie. But she has a fudge recipe!). And it’s not all just your basic peanut butter recipe. (This is where, if it were me, I’d run to the store and experiment with Peanut Butter & Co’s peanut butter collection to make these, just to give it an extra punch of flavour. And Kelly gives you tips if your peanut butter isn’t natural, what to do with the salt). She also uses different kinds of butters. Almond butter cookies, Cashew Butter Cookies (Yes, please!)

I made the Cranberry Almond Cookies from this section. (I also stupidly bought the wrong kind of almonds (sliced, not slivered), so my roommate saved the day – to which I had to give her a dozen cookies. So sad. I also made these with the variation of chocolate. (Hello. Cranberry. Almond and Chocolate? It’s like, a necessity).

Then there is the whole “Hi. I am addicted to chocolate and/or It’s that time of month, and I need chocolate before I smack someone” section. (No, Kelly just named it Blissfully Chocolate. Same difference).  My goal is to find some orange extract and make the Orange Chocolate Chunk Cookies. (also. when you read this and see “Puppy Chow Cookies” do not think what I thought, and go “a dog biscuit recipe?” No, it’s for humans. 😀

There is then a small No-Bake  section (this is for the summer time!)

Then Kelly does a DIY version of Massed Produced Cookies. (So yes, Oreos – which are vegan by the way are included – but it would be better, because Oreos make me sick, and I know homemade versions will not. hah!).

Then so you can tell your doctor you do have your daily required amount of fruit (You don’t need to tell them, that it’s served up with a cookie!)- you’ve got 10 cookies based on Fruit. I made from this section Chew Pumpkin Spice Cookies. (Which is a whole another story on its own. Really, it’s an upcoming blog post). Needless to say, it rocked mine + my Omni Besties worlds.

Then we’ve got bar cookies. (You know, I’ve never really had a lot of bar cookies.. That’s going to change: Nanimo Bars are in here! <– though I’ve had a bazillion of those, I don’t count those as a cookie. Those are like heaven in your mouth). And if you were wondering if she has a brownie recipe: yes. yes she does. Caramel Hazelnut Brownie. Hmhm.

Ive now noticed I’ve used the word “then” a lot, so now we go to the Take on Tradition section (so your gingerbread cookie recipe would be here. as well as rumballs, and Mexican Wedding Cookies!).

For those who want to be healthier, there’s a cookie for that too, Seven infact! (and this is the section where you’d want to go first  – page 192 for easy reference if you want to ditch the fat – note: if you ditch the fat in cookies, you aren’t getting cookies. You are making a hand held cake. No really, it becomes cakier. Not … cookie-r. And she even tells you what cookies you can make over).

And how to make a cookie healthier with the grains you use, (how to make gluten free), how to ditch the sugar, and how to bake for vegans with allergies. (or in my case, how to bake for omnivores who happen to be your best friends with allergies).

What’s not stated (and really, since I seem to be the only one in the world – Okay not the only one, but the only one i know of, is that she doesn’t suggest how to substitute coffee. Sigh).

We end the book with the last chapter and where you’d find Kelly’s signature Hypnosis Cookies (the cookie you see on the cover).

Oh wait, I lie. 😀 The decorating chapters has a “Sprinkles Kit” A Buttercream Frosting and a Marzipan recipe.

The Pros:

The pros. A: an entire book on cookies. Thank you Kelly. 😀
Also – the font is really clear.

The recipe breakdown is great. Often (for me), when I read the recipe, I sometimes have to go. “Wait? I have to use that? where does that go? Is that even in the recipe). There are no “out of the blue” instructions. Everything is pretty much how you expect it to be. Each recipe starts off with your first steps (preheat oven). If that’s not there – it’s basically because the cookie is going to be frozen for a bit

The recipe tells you how much cookies to expect. In both cases, I got that. (and you know me – I never get what I’m supposed to). Some end up a bit smaller than I like, But that’s fine.

The pictures are amazing. there’s is pretty much a picture for each and every single recipe. (even if it is a little in-shot). And – as a bonus when you take your cookies out of the oven, it kinda looks the same.

A Lot of these are one bowl babies. One bowl, a few instruments, your baking tray. If you are a dorm room kid, this is great, just crank up your convection toaster oven and away you go. (She has a section about that (a little insert how to do it), no one can ever be without cookies.

The Cons

What I don’t like about the book is that  – if it’s a stepped process, that

A: the ingredients aren’t clearly marked. Specifically, it’s not bolded, or separated by a space. So they all just run together, so read carefully).

B: Some recipes run into the next page. Biggest pet peeve ever. (Well, not the biggest, but I like my recipes on one page). This is minute though, most of the recipes are on one page, and if they do spill over it’s on the next (and I guess to get more recipes in so you really can’t complain about that)

C: Unlike my Isa/Terry cookie doughs which always end up how they are told they are supposed to look – my Kelly doughs are often dry.(ish),  Which results in when my cookies are done, a bit cracky on top. This – minute. It doesn’t bug me perse, but if I were to give them out as gifts, it could ruin a bit of the presentation. This – could be me. (No this is me. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ll work it out).

Final Thoughts

This is a great book – my cookie love aside. I love reading my cookies like a novel, reading the little blurbs and insights on what motivated the cookie to begin with. The recipes are innovative. It’s not just standards you know & love, but Kelly is one of those ladies that pushes your baking comfort zone and you thank her for that because then you get people who love you because you made them amazing, and intriguing mouth fulls of yums.

This is is a book that I’d use any time of the year (a lot of them are great for Christmas times, potlucks and birthdays), but a lot of my Christmas baking is going to come from this one here book.

So would I Fry, Buy or Try this book?

Regardless of your kitchen acumen, I would say that the instructions, directions and methods are clear enough that anyone could try any recipe without any sort of failure. (unless you forget to set your kitchen timer, and gab on the phone with all your friends – and forget you are making cookies. Or, you pull a Liv and had 1/2 c of salt instead of 1/2 tsp.). So with all of that in mind, I give this a solid rating of Buy.

 

While the Canadian  publishing rights holder Thomas Allen graciously gave me this book to review, a positive review was not required in trade, so do not worry, if the book had sucked, I would have told you. (Seriously –  all thoughts were my own). 

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When Life Gives You Sour Cream….

Use up your cilantro and make cilantro sour cream!

Hey everyone 🙂 I hope everyone had a good week. I’ve been busy testing recipes and working on some reviews for you all 🙂 That’s right, testing recipes 🙂 So not only am I doing the cookbook challenge here, I am also helping some really awesome ladies work on their manuscripts for new year. Let me tell you this is homework I could really have done with in high school! 🙂

Menu #3 Breakdown

Breakfast – Cranberry Spice Bagels with cinnamon peanut butter and pear butter spread (w/an apple and some milk)

This was a very filling breakfast. For the most part it kept me full from when I ate it (around 7:30), until lunch time which is 12:15 for me. (Some days not so much, but that’s due to other issues, such as you know, a weird tummy). The bagels like the bread and the scones had that heavy “I’m bread, and I’m delicious, but I’m not really bread…” feel to it. just “harder” and not that ahh.. bagel!! feeling. I honestly think the more gluten free foods I eat, is the more I’ll get used that that heavy feeling.

It could just be me. I could not be working with my flours well enough. It really is a mystery.

The cinnamon peanut butter (Peanut Butter and Co) and my pear butter (homemade by moi!), was a great spread with this. it was thick and creamy. And as I have a tonne left over, it’s going to be swirrled into my oatmeal. (I need anything/everything to plump that sucker up because oatmeal leaves me starving after like 5 minutes).

Lunch – Fajita Soup with Creamy Potato Salad.

The last thing anyone wants to eat is potato salad. When it’s snowing. With that said, this was damn… erm. darn good salad. Really good. I would actually boil my potatoes more (about 5 minutes more) to get them a bit more softer. I had that potato salad-y bite to it, but not the mush needed to make my potatoes cream up with the mayo and just be creamy. Not potato. Mayo. Stuff. (which is what I had). I also think had I celery salt instead of a celery seed/salt mixture, it would have popped.

The Fajita soup was amazing. My suggestion if you use it for leftovers, stir the bottom of your container, and salt/pepper it. really, if you just nix the soup-y part, you’ve got a nice filling right here. This kept me full until dinner time.

Dessert was fruit and 2 pumpkin cookies

 

Dinner – 2 Mushroom & Asparagus Tacos w/Cilantro Mayo Sour Cream.

My mayo was used up in the potato salad and I didn’t want to go buy more vegenaise. (I mean I’m going to have to, but it wasn’t needed). So I used my sour cream. Which I had on a whim. And it is yummy. yummy. (and this was my first time having Tofutti sour cream). it wasn’t hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm as the real stuff was, but it’s good, and it’s thick and it has that tang.  These are a good dinner. I think I’d really use these as a one off meal though not so much a weekly meel.

 

So all in all – good menu choices 🙂

And since it is almost time to wrap this up, you know what that means:

A: Soups. It’s snowing and cold and that’s all I really want.

Breakfast is again Oatmeal (or probably some cereal) with more cinnapear butter.
Lunch (from the book): Cheesy Broccoli Soup.
Dinner (from the book): Corn mushroom chowder w/biscuits (biscuits are from Hannah Kaminsky’s blog, bittersweet).

Dessert this week. Brownies.
If you guessed why, you get a .. well. brownie. 🙂

My Kelly Peloza interview will go up tomorrow. Like I said, I just needed to clean it up a bit and add my thoughts, and I got my review copy so I needed to make some things from it.  Allyson’s interview will go up Wednesday, and the announcement and first impressions of November’s book will go up then too.

As well as the Buy, Fry, Try? Rating 🙂

Now my tacos are getting cold.

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Menu #2 Analysis and what’s up with coffee?

Hi Everyone! 🙂

(Is anyone there? I wish I knew how to add subscribers, or whatever. I’m not used to wordpress and I can’t find things, but I’ll get there!) I also know I am quiet. It will get better. Work should hopefully slow down soon!

 

I don’t like deconstructing my menu when I am sick, because when your stomach hurts all day and then you eat, the last thing you want to do is be like “So how is your meal?” But I was very much unbiased in this deconstruction (also I had omni-people taste everything this week…. and they were in love).
Lunch:
Mushroom Stroganoff

This is hands down top five pasta dishes I’ve ever had in. my. life. I am a firm believer that pasta are one of those dishes that taste better the next day (some are the exception to this rule). If you were to eat this the day you made it, you will have this delish very saucy creamy dish. If you have it for leftovers, it is this light, yet filling dish. (light is the sauce). If you serve it with Ginger Brussels sprouts it’s this amazingballs meal.

My World Order (Cookies)
seriously…. I am a firm believer that cookies make everything better. Cookies will be seen as the ultimate tool to bring peace to Korea, the Middle East, and any other squabble.

Butterscotch Amaretti

This is one amazing cookie. And I’ve had a lot of cookies. A note – if you make these, I would suggest really flatting them out, they don’t spread. (I’ve yet to discover what makes cookies spread, vs. not spreading, but these are a not spreading cookie). They are also really rich (the base is almond flour). And this is what I am talking about. My stomach was really yucky, so I would have one and it was more yucky. (and really, am I going to give up a cookie? Eh, no.) But this cookie got rave reviews all around.

Dinner
Baked Corn Pudding, Cinnamon Roasted Cauliflower, Compassionate Calamari

Let’s get this out of the way. The Calamari (king oyster mushrooms), was a fail, but this was a me, not the recipe. So I had no-cluck cutlet sandwiches. (Always, always have cutlets in the freezer for this purpose).

The baked corn pudding – this really needs to be fine cornmeal (the book does state this by the way, I just didn’t have any). so my corn pudding simply tasted like thick cornbread. (Which was equally awesome).

But the star of this show was the cinnamon roasted cauliflower. And I’m thought what you thought, why the heck would you put cinnamon on a cauliflower? Well, if you coat it with cornmeal and roast it, it makes it amazing, that’s why you’d do it. The book does say “serve immediately”, if I had a convection toaster oven, I would heat it up there to get it crispy again.

All of these meals were very much leftover friendly, easy to make and just stinking yummy.
(except again, the Calamari. Again thats my fault).

 

This weeks menu is:
Fajita soup
Mushroom & Asparagus Tacos with Cilantro Mayo
Cranberry Spice Bagels (with pear butter & cinnamon peanut butter)

I’ve not had the bagels yet – but do they ever look like them. Like I bought them or something. my roommate had one and thought they were really, really good.

The Fajita soup smelled delicious. Like..well. fajitas. 😉
I didn’t make the tacos yet, but I mean, come on. Tacos.

So. let’s talk about about coffee.

Im actually allergic to caffeine. I can (thankfully) have chocolate but the caffeine in black tea, coffee and other things gives me violent migraines. So when I see it in things like chili or cookies, or other recipes I have to wonder… why? Why add the coffee flavour? I don’t even like coffee. Even when I had it. (one little sip). or the smell of it, it’s gross. (truly if you ever want a pick me up, detox tea (with gingko, lemongrass and green tea is the way to go).

Here’s the reason. Coffee helps balance the sweetness in the chocolate. (Sort of the same reason why you have a little bit of sugar in tomato sauce). This doesn’t really change the fact that A: I can’t have it, B: even if I could, I hate the taste of it, and C: how to substitute it.

Insert: Chicory, Dandelion Root and well, non-caffeinated coffee.

I’m going to see if I can do things (using chicory/dandelion root), to substitute for some recipes,but its the ones that call for “1 cup strong black coffee”,  “2tbsp espresso powder” etc. How do I replace that? I’ve got to figure that one out.

That’s it for me 🙂 talk to you later

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Interview with Alicia C. Simpson.

A sad note: my camera decided it doesn’t so much like taking pictures, so until it does like doing it, no more. (I am really sorry. There were a couple I managed to snag).

And now – my very first interview (I’ve now done two) Yay!. This one is with Alicia C. Simpson, the writer of Quick & Easy Low Cal Vegan Comfort Food. Yumm. If you remember, out of a Buy, Try or Fry, I gave this book a solid “Buy” rating.

My one tiny complaint, and I am going to pick this up in every book that has a nutritonal serving…. even if it is listed at the back/beginning of the book, I’d like a serving to be weighed out/measured out for the particular recipe. Just don’t say “serving”. Especially when it comes to combination foods. If pasta is 1/2 a cup, veg 1 cup, and beans 2/3rd a cup pers serving, and all of that is in the dish… you see the problem?

But it’s minute.

Anyhoo. Here’s my conversation with Alicia. 🙂

Liv: Hi Alicia, thanks so much for being my interview-y! (My first one!) :), So how long have you been a vegan? What inspired you to be a vegan?

Alicia: First of all I’m super excited to be your first interview!

I’ve been vegan for over 6 years now (vegetarian for 4 1/2 years before that). My road to veganism was a long one that I went down kicking and screaming until I realized that I was just being silly and foolish. I was sitting in a class on fasting with a woman who will always be near and dear to my heart, Arden Zinn, who at the time was in her late 80s and is now in her 90s! I told her I was a vegetarian and gave the typical “I just love cheese soooo much I could never give it up” spiel that everyone says and she, without flinching, looked at me and said “why would you as an adult human drink the milk of a cow that is designed to grow a calf into a 1/2 ton cow or bull?” For some reason, that simple question made everything else come into focus and I realized that drinking milk and consuming milk based products was just about the most unnatural thing I could do. So from that day forth, I was vegan.

(Inside my head: You know. this is a good question. My sociology teacher asked something similar in university to me. Why do people drink things that make huge, honking animals…. makes no sense to me!).
Liv:  What prompted you to write this book in particular (and your first two books?) Was it difficult when you got started?

Alicia: This fall I’ll be graduating with my masters in Nutrition and sitting for the RD exam, so health and wellness are passions of mine. There is so much misinformation out there about what healthy eating is and what healthy eating isn’t that I wanted to write a book that set the record straight without the gimmicks and forcing people to cut out incredibly valuable parts of their diet like fats. The process of writing a book, I find, to be easy and fun – I’m in the kitchen every day anyway so it’s just a matter of writing everything down and organizing it. To that end, so many great recipes are lost forever because I jotted them down on a piece of junk mail that accidentally got thrown in the recycling bin or compost heap. (Liv: heeee. me too! it’s really sad, actually). 


Liv: 
You have three cookbooks now, and two focused on comfort food, why the focus on (Southern-y) based Comfort Food?

AliciaI think when people make a big lifestyle shift, like going vegan, they still need to know that the foods they have always loved will be there. Even though I’m a California girl, born and raised, there’s something about southern comfort food that is just nostalgic and utterly fantastic. In our house southern food was only served on special occasions, like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter so for me it’s synonymous with family, togetherness and home. I think those that buy Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food will find is that it isn’t focused on southern comfort food but comfort foods from around the country and some new twist on old favorites.
Liv: What did you want to accomplish with this book? (You know, other than the low-cal aspect!)

Alicia: As I said before I really wanted to breakdown the stereotypes around what healthy eating is and present a low-calorie book that still had real food – poundcakes, fritters, casseroles, the whole nine.
Liv: What do you think of the Vegan Cookbook explosion? Why do you think it’s happening now?

Alicia: I think it is fantastic! What I also think is amazing about the vegan cookbook explosion is the level of creativity out there. The bar is continually raised and I am a fan of so many vegan cookbook authors. I think that we, as Americans, are in such a horrific place in terms of health that we are finally starting to see that the meat and dairy based diets we have enjoyed for the past couple of generations will ultimately be our demise and to that end people are looking for alternatives. I also think that people are often more compassionate than we give them credit for and when the truth about the horrific practices of the meat and dairy industry are put in front of them it’s hard to deny that the way we eat has to change.

(Note: I didn’t know this during the interivew – but this is actually the year of the Vegan Cookbook. In case you were wondering, last year was the year of the Canning book. Do it yourself is in ya’ll).

Liv: And I’ve got to ask – All those recipes, and not one Pizza recipe? What gives?! 😀

Alicia: There is! There are mini-pizzas in Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food. (Note: this is Alicia’s first book, which I don’t have). I actually have several pizza recipes (even a few deep dish ones) that are tried, tested, and fantastic that just haven’t made it into the books yet. I usually brainstorm and cook somewhere between 200-250 recipes and then whittle it down to the final 150+ for each book so, unfortunately, not everything makes every book. If I get the chance to continue to write vegan cookbooks then, I promise you, there will be more pizza recipes!

Liv: Out of three books, which one is your favourite?

Alicia: Hands down it’s Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations. It might not be PC to say you love one of your books more than the others, and they are all fantastic and represent a different place in my life and a growth in my cooking and writing but I have to say I just adore the recipes in Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations. It’s the book I cook out of most. It is full of comfort food recipes as well as a really diverse group of recipes from Louisiana style cooking for Mardi Gras like Gumbo, Oyster Po Boys and Beignets to Shepherd’s Pie (St. Patty’s Day) and Homemade Irish Creme Liquer. I literally make the traditional and North African Meatballs from Vegan Celebrations at least 3 times a month and my daughter loves them!

Liv: What’s your inspiration?
Alicia: Helping people wade through all the misinformation out there and get to the root of really great, simple, food that is good for them is my passion. I’m inspired by my readers, their stories, and their experience with each recipe and each book. New vegans excite me and invigorate me and make me want to just keep on creating fantastic recipes that will help people discover how easy and delicious veganism is. My goal is to make veganism as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. Of course, my biggest inspiration now is the little vegan in my life, my daughter. She’s a phenomenal little recipe tester and has really changed the way I cook and eat. Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food was actually written while I was pregnant with her.
Liv: Whose your favourite chef (vegan or otherwise?)
It’s so hard to just name one! There are a lot of great up and coming vegan talents who’s books have made it across my desk. If I had to name one Kelly Peloza brings me immense amounts of joy. I’ve never tasted a recipe of hers that I didn’t love. Her egg nog cookies are reason enough to fall head over heels in love with her.

(In my head: Heck. freaking. yeah. Kelly’s stuff is amazing. Ah. mah. zing. Seriously.).

And I know this seems completely insane but I love Paula Deen, in a sort of ironic way. Her over the top, completely unhealthy, butter on top of butter with cream on the side recipes are what inspired my blog The Lady and Seitan so I have to give props to Paula since she inspired an entire blog of mine and I spend my days veganizing her recipes now (and trying to make them a bit healthier).
Liv: For those reading and wondering if veganism (or at least very strict vegetarian) is for them, what would you suggest for them?

Alicia: Yes it’s for you! Going from being an omnivore to a herbivore is a lifestyle change and you have to treat it as such. As with any lifestyle change you can’t just jump into it without a plan, if you do you won’t make it long-term. If this is truly the way you are going to live for the rest of your life you need to go about it thoughtfully.

Find a few cookbooks that you like, or good recipe blogs to get an arsenal of go-to vegan recipes that you really love. Don’t give up if the first couple recipes you try aren’t great.  Not every recipe is for everybody that’s a universal truth to all cooking not just vegan cooking. Find out where you can eat out, when you’re out at your favorite restaurants look over the vegetarian menu and ask if they can make things without eggs or dairy products, you’ll be surprised how often the answer is yes and how many mainstream convience foods are already vegan. Find like minded people to bounce ideas off of and get inspiration. There’s nothing worse than that isolated vegan who doesn’t go out with friends anymore, doesn’t go to dinner parties, and kind of removes themselves from everything not vegan in life. That’s no way to live!

Vegan Celebrations really talks in depth about how to be a party starter and not a party pooper (that’s literally the name of one of the chapters) and how to be vegan anywhere and everywhere. The more people that see you’re a happy, healthy, vibrant, vegan the more attractive veganism will be to them and you might be the spark that helps someone else make the change to being vegan without even knowing it! Online forums like the PPK are amazing places to bounce ideas off of people, vent frustrations (seriously how many times can you answer “where do you get your protein from?”) and just connect with others.
Liv: Would you say your books are for the newly veganist?<<– yes that’s a word. I made it one.

Alicia: I really believe my books are for everybody. I started writing  Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food during my transition from being a vegetarian to a vegan and it was published after I had been vegan for 3 years. For that reason I think it appeals to new vegans more because it really takes you step by step through my vegan journey, information on vegan nutrition and dispells a lot of vegan myths. Overall, my books are for people who love food, because at the heart of it I’m a foodie who would spend everyday in the kitchen if I could.

Liv: What are your favourite recipes from “Low Cal Comfort Food?”

Alicia: The Corn dogs made with homemade ball park hotdogs, Chili Cheese Fries, Seitan Cheesesteak, Chickpea Cacciatore, Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Butter Rum Poundcake, Strawberry Milkshake, Fried Green Tomatoes… Hmmm…the more I think about it this might be my favorite book afterall! I just want to name every recipe!
Liv: Is there anything else coming down the pipeline?

Alicia: I’m bouncing around several ideas for cookbooks right now and looking for what really fits me best for where I am in life right. Any cookbook author will tell you, that looking back at old cookbooks is like looking at a yearbook – it’s a really good picture of where you were creatively at that time. Beyond cookbooks, now that I’ve finally finished with school I also have the opportunity to write more about my areas of speciality which are maternal and pediatric nutrition and lactation and there’s several projects I’m actively working on in that arena.

Liv: Thanks again!!

See. that was so informative. 🙂 (and Alicia was a real sweetie!). She was super busy, so I didn’t want to expand a lot of the answers which were straightforward enough, but as you can tell with the thoughts in my head, – there are some questions that you ask yourself once you really think  (like the milk thing), why do we do it, other than.. you know, marketing, etc? (Or because you are told to). Not to get too political or anything, just an observation 🙂

And I have another interview coming up (like I mentioned).  Featuring, the lovely, and talented dessert goddess: Kelly Peloza! (honestly, when I saw Alicia name her as one of her favourites, and Kelly had just graciously agreed to interview with me, I was like, see. all of these things work out for the best!). 🙂

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A ‘Shroom Affair.

Hello everyone! 🙂

So here is the breakdown of the menu one week later (for those who cook like me and eat leftovers during the entire week, or just want to know how things taste like the day after).

Basic Brown Bread
Really good the day after. It got a bit dry-ish on me, but put in the toaster, and put a schmear of ______________ on it. (my schmear of choice was naturally the cranberry apple butter). I still have some slices left over, so that’s going to be used to mop up the Dilly Stew with Dumplings that I made this evening. (I always cook for my best friends when they come over).

 

Banana Bread Scones (w/optional nuts).
Yum yum in my tum. I am not  a banana bread person. Not in the slightest. I always think I am, and then I find that I am not. Weird, I know. but these were good. Not too banana-y and not too sweet. They don’t even need anything, just a quick minute in the microwave, or toaster oven.

Pumpkin Chili
Like this really needs me to talk about it? It was so freaking delicious. Every morsel. This will be made again and again. (this is where you kind of wish books had detachable pages and you can put all your favourites in one spot – I swear I said this before). But this is totally worth it. (and I am not even a big pumpkin fan. Well what North Americans call pumpkin – the big Jack-o Lantern things. When I grew up, my daddy (who is from ‘da Islands, mon), made “pumpkin” all the time, but it was like the ones with the green skin, you know? I think it’s called acorn squash here Or pepper squash? It’s the thickgreen skin. One of y’all know what I’m talking about). And I eat that all the time! But the jack-o-lantern stuff is good. but not in pie.
Black Bean, Potato & Cheese Enchiladas.
These were okay. They would have been fantastic, had I the following

  • bigger corn tortillas
  • or flour tortillas.
  • they weren’t dry.

Yeah, my corn tortillas were a touch dry. (which could be my fault) and they didn’t really re-heat well (sometimes). But it was still really good, and I will totally make them again.

 

All in all – Menu #1 was fan-tas-tic.

 

Now. Let’s talk fungus.

There are some crazy weirdos out there. (You know who you are). who don’t like mushrooms. Why and how, I don’t understand. Mushrooms are amazing. I haven’t tried all of them (like porcini and the other fancy dancy ones) but I add mushrooms to everything. It’s like right up there with onion (a staple) and garlic. Whip up a little mushrooms and bam! A great meal.

So when I chose Menu #2 I was really excited because it was going to focus on the ‘Sroom in the big way.

Stroganoff
Compassionate Calamari
Baked Corn Pudding
Roasted Cinnamon Cauliflower
Butterscotch Armaretti

The pasta dish (stroganoff) was… amazing. Just like to die for. I used tri-coloured rotini (yes the wheat. Backoff, I don’t (thankfully) have gluten issues, plus, it makes the dish look all nice and pretty). And this called for 20g of mushrooms. That, folks is a lot of mushrooms. Deelish.

Then, I made the baked corn pudding, which smelled good. And become I am dumb (and cooked right after the longest day of work ever), I forgot to add the jalapeno peppers, cumin and everything. I just made basic corn pudding. Which, basically is still really good. (I didn’t try this yet).

The roasted cinnamon cauliflower really had me guessing. But it was really good as well. (Omni-Roommate really liked it as well).

So now we come to the calamari. (which called for King Oyster Mushrooms).

I don’t know what on earth made me think that this would be a good idea. I mean, I liked fried food. (Kind of. Sort of. in a way). I’ve fried veganly before. But I’ve never had in my pregan (fyi that’s PRE-gan. not pregnant like my friend thought). calamari. Which is a squid thing. Ever. But I could imagine that it is squishy, ishy and just yuck. And for someone who has texture issues, I would have most likely have avoided it.

Then whydid I decide to make this? I should have bypassed the recipe, gone directly to jail, not collect 200 dollars. But I did.

And..

Well, let’s just say, I won’t be making it again any time soon.

To be fair. And I always am that, if anything else, had I used king oyster mushrooms (not the regular ones), and cut them into size), and had I had fine cornmeal, it maybe would have come out a teensy bit better. Teensy. but they still crisped up really good, and had I remembered to make the tarter sauce, It would have been better,  but….

It was squishy.
And chewy

Not for texture eaters.
(Why do I feel that all mushroom haters just went, “ha-ha!”?)

This is my flop for the cookbook, (I hope). I am instead going to be having gobblers/no-clucks with the meal. Good ole ready made seitan (which means I really should make some more up soon, my backup supply is running low).

But. You know what made up for this?

The cookie.
(Like, there was any other doubt?)

I’ve never had Butterscotch Armaetti before. I never even knew what it was. But It’s Allyson’s favourite cookie. And it was very simple to make, if you dodged the flying bits of dough. (also – cookie scoop didn’t like this batter). And it takes a while to get – 30 minutes. But . holy. cow. Is it worth it when you bite down. It is so chewy. And soft. And tender. and butter-scotchy. (and there’s no butterscotch!) .

These will be made again. Not often. They need a lot of almond meal. Not the cheapest thing in the world.
But hooboy. Worth the cost of the book alone.

Here’s the schedule folks.
I’ve got some interviews for you, so stay tuned (will be up by Tuesday the latest)

Menu analysis by Thursday of this week (baring any mishaps. ie: Market Day takes forever. per-usual).

And pictures.
(oh hush. you know they’re coming).

🙂

 

 

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First Impressions of “Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats” + Menu #1

Happy Thanksgiving To Canadians! 🙂

Well it’s tomorrow, but we’re going to celebrate this a day early. My thanksgiving involved having some Field Roast Celebration with some flat bread and Daiya Harvarti (yum), and my orange sauce (nothing special, just mix mayo, ketchup and mustard together. It’s so tangy and yummy). And the rest of my soup.

I made some more sugar cookies from the book, I had a craving. This is where I have to give a lot of thanks to my cookie scoop. It’s several shades of amazing. I made some pretzel apple cookies as well, for the holiday, and I actually got the 2.5 dozen it should make. (shocked, I know, I never ever get that). 🙂

Again, I am not ignoring the blog, I really am enjoying blogging about my food exploits. Again: 12 hour days, and I do have other stuff to do. 😦
This week that’s not GGFVE related, I made some cranberry apple butter. It… it rocked my world, y’all. I love apple butter. And it’s the beginning of cranberry season so I figured, hey? Why not buy some. I was fully intending to make cranberry applesaucebut something told me to make butter

This was spiced with caradmon, cloves, a little nutmeg, a little mace, a vanilla bean and other stuff. I did add sugar. (Next time, I might reduce it a bit, I don’t think 1.5 cups were needed), and some apple cider. I also used my honeycrisp apples I got at the farmers market. It took about 12.5 hours from start to finish (I used my crockpot. Not Chuck, just a crockpot), to really get it all reduced. Making this teaches patience. I thought it would reduce somewhat quickly, but it didn’t get buttery and thick until like the 12 hour. (and truthfully, I could have made it go another hour, but I didn’t want it to reduce too much).

For 14 dollars. (10.00 for the honeycrisp, 3 for the cranberries, and 1.00 for the apple cider, everything else i had), I got 2 HUGE jar fulls of Cranberry Apple butter, one small pint jar for my friend, and 1/2 a jar for breakfast. I am kicking myself for not canning these so I can have it later, but it ain’t going to be the last time I’m making this. And to be honest, this stuff is really only good for the winter.  (the small tiny jar I buy at the health food store, (or at Superstore) is 6.99. and it is a TINY jar. So for double for what I spent, I got 4 extra jars of the stuff. Chalk one up for homemade).

Book Finds:

Allyson Kramer’s Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats Gone Global is now available for pre-ordering (which I did..), as well as Chloe Coscarelli’s Chloe’s Vegan Desserts.. Now, I don’t really know why I preordered that one. I haven’t even cooked from Chloe’s Kitchen yet. But I have this thing about free shipping. I’d rather spend the extra money to get the free shipping, than the spent like 6 dollars on the taxes + shipping. It’s some weird logic I’ve got. My mom’s tried to hammer it out of me for ages. But I mean if you could spend 14 dollars to get a free book, or 6 on shipping, wouldn’t you want the extra money for the book? See, Logic?

(and crikey moses, I lost 1/2 my blog post. grr!). So Let’s just get into the book analysis 🙂

Book at a Glance

I have to say this is one gorgeous looking book. It’s your average size book, so it doesn’t make your bookshelf look all wonky, but it’s the colouring. It’s big and bright and green (squares), against the white book, so if you were at the bookstore, it would be the first thing that would grab your eye.

What Im giving a lot of bonus points of, is that each section has a different colour heading. So when you look at the signatures (sorry, Librarian term, the pages of the book), you see a rainbow of pink, blue, green, etc. Which means that you don’t need to flag or anything . You can just pick out the section right away. (I have bought a lot of flags from WalMart so I can start separating meals and stuff).

Something that you will notice right away.

Pictures.

Pictures, pictures everywhere. Pictures on the front cover, pictures inside…. There are no plates of pages (sorry, librarian term again), there are not inserts of pictures in the middle. Every single recipe in this book, has a picture facing the recipe.. Win. (I recently found out it is the publisher’s decision to either have pictures or not, and how they will be included. Let’s here it for Fair Winds Press (who actually does a lot of my favourite authors) for making an awesome decision here).

As with all vegan cookbooks we’ve got a Pantry section – which actually tells you how to stock up a xgfx (gluten free) pantry. what flours you’ll need and so on. (Almond Meal, Sorgum, Chickpea, Buckwheat, Teff, etc etc). Allyson uses Superfine Brown Rice Flour, for a lot of her bakes goods. This flour is available on Amazon.com, but sadly it will cost me like 40+ dollars to get a 20.00 bag. (thank you amazon.com and your fair pricing, really appreciate it). I can’t get this ordered in Canada, so I am going to just be using regular brown rice flour/white rice flour. I was told in some cases it won’t be as “all purpose floury” but it will still get the job done. I am working on the Superfine though.

We’re also given an introduction to why Allyson is xgfx, how one can be xgfx & vegan, and encouragement to “make the recipe your own.” 🙂

Then it breaks down to

Basics  (this is attached to the Gluten Pantry, aka, what you’ll most likely want on hand).
that have basic every day items – milk, pie crust, bisquik (heh), a bread recipe, basic pasta recipe and so on

Breakfast, Main Courses, Soups, Appetizers, Dessert, Resources.

Now. I have to say this. I like the order of this. Maybe it’s because I’m single, but I don’t get why the appetizers always go near the front of the book. 9×10 for me, that’s not the first thing I flip through, I go through things I’m going to be eating every day. So the order really works well for me here.

Something that I also kind of like – she has nutritional info!

(I can take it or leave it. It’s very easy to do it yourself on various websites, and there are often variables. E.G: I don’t know what soyrizo is, and I don’t seee it at my store. But I’m assume it’s some sort of soy-crumble, thinger. So I can use t.v.p. All of a sudden the NI is different and I’m eating something different). I might not use the same milk as she does etc. So the NI makes no difference to me because the variables are different. But it’s good to have the basis. Where Allyson gets extra bonus marks is that she says what the severing is (5 balls, 2 enchiladas, 1 scoop), where as in Quick & Easy Low Cal Vegan Comfort Food, the serving wasn’t always broken down.

The font is really clear (and she uses a nice interesting “handwritten” font for the little basic information (like the little blurb at the beginning  of the chapter, for the serving sizes).

My cookbook holder likes this book (but to be fair my cookbook holder is dumb, i truly need another one).

All the recipes follow on one page, so there is no flipping back and forth.

This reads like a gorgeous picture book. If you like to read your cookbooks like novels. (Raise hand) it’s great to to do that with. And there are a little side recipes as well 🙂

So my first menu from this book was:

Basic: Brown bread
Breakfast: Banana Bread Scones (with Isa’s Scrambled Tofu with Mushrooms, & Zucchini)
Main Meals: Pumpkin Chili (It is Thanksgiving after all) &  Black Bean, Potato and Cheese Enchiladas
Appetizers: Pizza Crackers

The cost of gluten free shopping isn’t really cheap, especially when you are not xgfx. I think I have to go to the bulk store and stock up on a lot of flours because it will cost more than buying them organically at my local organic health food store. But then again to be fair, I spent a lot this week, to make a lot of different things. (aka: cranberry apple butter, and spices from the spice shop). If I take those out, plus take out some things I bought for thanksgiving, I spent about 80 dollars on this week’s menu. Which is pretty on par for me.

(and yes. that means I spent a lot this week, but I have a lot of food for the up coming weeks, so eh. Plus I really needed my spices).

 

Pizza Crackers: 
Some came out thin (and burnt) but the ones that were nice and thick, baked up really nice and puffy like real crackers. I was very impressed. The one drawback that I have with this book again is that Allyson is assuming you can purchase pizza seasoning (or soyrizo). Which I can’t, and I can’t. So I made my own pizza seasoning, just by doing a Google. It wasn’t a big deal, but it would have been nice to be given a recipe, or a suggestion of where they could be.

Anyhoo these made up really fast. I finally figured out I had a freaking cookie cutter. (I still intend to get some biscuit cutters the minute I can get to the kitchen store, or Bed Bath and Beyond). The recipe said 70 crackers, I got about 50 or so, so good for me the serving size dunce. I think for me I won’t bake these at the full 30 minutes either, (that’s how some of the thin ones got burnt). but again I think they need to be a bit thicker, so that’s my error.

Don’t eat these until after they are cool. When they are hot, they taste kinda…. off. but I think it just needs to cool down and taste the awesome pizza flavour 🙂


Basic Brown Bread
This came out really well. I need a smaller bread pan (actually I need a bevy of bread making supplies). but this formed out exactly how the book said it will. Mine is a bit more dense. But what whole wheat is for people who eat wheat, Buckwheat is to the xgfx world. It has this nice taste of whole wheat bread but a bit lighter 🙂

Good result. It doesn’t rise like “real” bread (wheat bread) and not as chewy but still good. This bread has a date with some apple butter, just sayin.

Black Bean, Cheese and Potato Enchiladas. 

I will totally tell you the truth. I wanted to do these with large flour tortillas. I wish I had because my corn tortillas were so tiny, the filling popped out. (sad face). but it really worked. I’ve never even had enchiladas before, but making them (including sauce) was easy. But bigger tortillas were totally necessary for these. This was the “longest” thing I had to make, because I did the sauce (and I didn’t read the instructions so I had a tonne of sauce left over, but this just means now I can defrost, and use sauce, without having to worry about other steps, so it saves me time!. I used Daiya pepperjack, but I really have to start seeing about Follow Your Heart. (this one is a soy based cheese, but it melts really well… or you know, just start making some more cheese from my cheesy book!) 🙂

Banana Bread Scones
I was going to wait on these, and let my bananas get really, really ripe, (and just eat the brown bread with the tofu, but I really wanted these now). These. are. good. VERY good. I made these with both walnut and pecans, for extra yum. These didn’t take too long to make, but my batch came out really crumbly. (Like the dough never really came together, very dry, like it needed some milk or something). But I did my standard, “squish with my hand” trick to get most of the flour and it worked pretty well. These are totally makeable. (and really easy). lesss than 45 minutes. start to finish.

 

I will report on how “leftoverable” these are later, and include pictures.

Stay tune for my interviews!

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Some Musings, Some Updates, and My New Boy, Chuck.

Forgive me. I lied.

I didn’t mean to lie. It wasn’t even my intention to lie, but lie I did. The lie was, that I was going to do a total photo essay of every recipe of all my books and it would be awesome.  Because you know, it’s awesome.

But I think… there are just some days you don’t want to cook from the same book. Yes it is easier because you have all the stuff you need, but sometimes you want to cook from someone else. Or you want to try a brand new recipe that you discovered online, and you pout because it’s not in the book.. Or you just want to eat crackers and soup because you feel kind of icky.

(like this week).

It’s nothing against the book. It’s part of the reason why I stopped in the middle of The Every Day Vegan. (and why I never did make it through the entire Betty Crocker 12th Edition Cookbook). There is a tonne of recipes out there and I want to try to get through a tonne of them. (Plus if I cook through most of my cookbooks, I can buy more. See. Logic!).

And. I’m not forgetting about the pictures. It just takes a while to upload them, edit them, and transfer them to my photo locker and then put them here. And I work 12 hour days. So. it’s not really on the first and foremost thing on my mind. But I am taking them. 🙂 I just need to you know. Fiddle with them! 🙂

So – final reviews on Quick & Easy Low Cal Comfort Food

I made one recipe from every section, minus: salads. so I feel that I can properly comment on everything.

Everything that I made except for the lasagne was really, really good. They came out exactly as it was supposed to minus  the black bean sausage (and that was more of my fault, not the book).

Cooktime – very fast. If I were a weekday chef, and I made sure a little prework (ie: have sausage already made and frozen), a lot of these could be done when someone came home from work.

Vegan to Omni Factor: I’d say pretty high, You shouldn’t have a picky issue here.

Taste: Pretty good, and how I’d expect it to be.

Instruction: Clear (good!)

Variation on the Diet: I’d say fair to middling. Ample parts of seitan, bean and tofu.

Ingredients Forage: minimum. I don’t know what Spike seasoning is, I couldn’t find gumbo file (and I forgot to pick it up at my specialty spice shop) and I couldn’t find vegan whipping creme (and I know I can make my own but I was looking for the one that the book called for… for the most part anything/everything you could find in your local store, Canadian and all.

Leftover Friendly: high. Everything I made tasted good as the week wore on.

Favourite Recipe: I’d have to say the meatball soup with the buttermilk biscuits. I am making sweet potato biscuits & chips as I have a bunch of sweet potato sitting here & it’s thanksgiving… so they do go hand in hand I’d say. The meatballs looked eerily like meat meat balls. It kinda squiged me out! Oh wait. + the lemongrass soda & sugar cookies. Nom.

Is this a Buy, Try Or Fry?:  I would give it a solid buy rating. I made most of the soups (Im a soup fiend) and they were really good. The biscuits and breakast foods (which I find aren’t often quick and grabbable for most vegan books) was worth it, and the a whole section of low caloric drinks (make the lemongrass soda.Just do it).  is worth it.

Now. the question was asked, if you had the first book, did you need the this one. (as this is low cal, and the other one, well is not). Well, I can’t answer that. I don’t have the first book. Some recipes did come over, but they were revamped to be low cal-ed so I don’t know.

New stuff to look forward too…

INTERVIEWS! 🙂

I have one lined up with Alicia (the author of Vegan Comfort Food – and I just realised my tag was wrong. Darn it, must fix). And a surprise one 🙂

October’s Book:

Gluten Free is becoming a huge thing in the weight loss world, vegan world, and the world in general. It’s really tough in the vegan world because a lot of our main sources of nourishment comes from gluten-gluten based products. But there is a huge movement in the xgfx community and there are a lot of people who have awesome stuff. In honour of that I will be cooking from Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats. This book is by Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan. I will do a preview of the book later this week.
This book almost didn’t get chosen because…

My new slowcooker “Chuckwagon!” came.

Okay let me explain. I name all my appliances. That’s right. Every single thing I own that’s an appliance… or electronic, gets a name. (eg: my cast iron skillets are named Bubba and Bobby-Joe. My timer is named Clicky Pig. My Food Processor is named Faith. My Ninja is called, well.. I can’t say it in polite company. But there is a reason I’m saving up for the Holy Grail of Blenders. The Ninja can do its thing but man do I want a Vitamix).

So my new Cuisinart 6.5 quart programmable 12 hour delay crockpot…. is named Chuckwagon. But it’s nickname is Chuck.
Not Chuck. But Chucuuuuk. With a deep thick Southern accent.

Look. I don’t have a life. Give me this.

And with my new boy Chuuuccck (I’ll stop now), along came Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson. (Note: this is not a reprint of her original book “Fresh from the Vegetarian slow cooker”). This came after I made the announcement about October’s book.

A “Darn it!” may have escaped my lips. 😉

 

But, to be fair, I’ve wanted to cook from this book for ages. AGES. And now I can, because I chose it. trallaa. See 🙂

Because it’s Thanksgiving, I do plan on cooking up a nice Thanksgiving feast for… well one. I am going to take advantage of Pear season while its here and make some pear cinnamon jam and pear slow cooker butter. but I think my first menu is going to involve Veggie Kofta (If you had pre-ordered this book way back when you were given some recipes that didn’t make it into the book – Veggie Kofta did not. This will be the only thing I’ll make because I don’t think it’s fair to cook things that you don’t get access to).

See ya next time!

 

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