Thursday, February 28, 2008

Chili and a Surprise

As I have mentioned in the past, I make dinner for my family about once a week, not only to help out my mother with all the work she does around the house, but to incorporate more vegan meals into my family's lifestyle. It's gotten to the point where my dad suggests certain meals that he would like for me to try to veganize so he can enjoy it without it weighing him down to much while he works out (he's very much into running and biking so he's cutting back on some meat). I have made this chili casserole before and my family really liked it (my changes: I used 2 15 oz. cans of kidney beans and 2 15 oz. cans of black beans. I also left out the "burger" crumbles). However, the cornbread layer took soooo damn long to cook, so we ended up growing impatient and hungry and scraping off the raw part on the bottom. The chili itself was very good though, so I decided to make it again today. I only changed the recipe a tiny bit this time, I promise! I just added a small dash of cinnamon and about a teaspoon of vegan chocolate chips to add a depth of flavor. I know, it sounds weird, but you know those packets of chili spices they sell in the grocery store (why people buy them if they probably have all of the spices already, I do not know)? If you look you'll see they usually contain cocoa powder! I even managed to get my little brother to eat some of this. He's very odd....he only ate the kidney beans, not the black Anyways, I also baked the cornbread layer on the side in a 9x9'' pan for about 35 minutes. It didn't taste awful, but it had a very strong metallic after taste. I think this was because I used organic corn meal, which I suspect reacted weirdly with the baking powder. Oh well- it still tasted good with some EB slathered all over it or crumbled in the chili (I did both....yum!). My dad ate TWO bowls of chili and said it tasted very hearty and "almost meaty." It always makes me so happy to see my family slowly accepting and liking more and more vegan food because it makes me more open to cook for them, as well as make me feel better about their health.

Okay, so this is what has made me especially happy today. After coming home from school today, I noticed a package on my kitchen counter addressed to me. Opening it up, I quickly realized what it was! Well, you see, I won a random drawing a few weeks ago and I had received my prize today from Vegan Noodle from Walking the Vegan Line. just look at how amazingly generous she was:

Wow! She was so sweet with these prizes. I got some adorable magnets (I though these were very clever when I finally realized that they spell out "vegan"!), two homemade vegan truffles, and one of the recipe booklets from the Society of PEACE potluck that she hosted, which includes recipes from ED&BV, several vegan blogs, VCTOTW, and other sources. WOW! The recipes in this booklet really excited me since I didn't have most of them. I plan on making the Nicer Krispies from ED&BV soo because I have been eying them since I saw them on her blog. Thank you sooo very much, Vegan Noodle! I really didn't expect all this and it was so very generous of you. It really perked me up after a long day.

And of course I can't forget about the truffles! rich and creamy. I am eating these as we speak- hehe. I love the flavor combination of chocolate and hazelnuts, but hazelnuts are so difficult to find around here, so my craving has finally been satisfied!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


.....pies, that is :) My first attempt at a recipe from "My Sweet Vegan" was a success, so I'm super excited (that... and probably the sugar high too)! I actually got about 15 sandwiches from these instead of 8-10 as the recipe suggested, which was perfect actually since they were still pretty large. If these were any bigger, I'm sure it'd be far too much sugar for me to handle. While I was making these, I was a little bit worried since the cookie batter and the cookies themselves did not taste very good, so I began to worry that the filling wouldn't be able to add enough flavor or sweetness to salvage them. Well, I am very pleased to announce that I was wrong- the filling on it's own was way too sweet, but was perfect with the cookies! I knew that Hannah from Bittersweet knew exactly what she was doing. Some of the whoopie pies got a bit too crumbly and fell apart after sitting for a few hours, but I think it was just because of the way that they were stacked on the plate since the ones on the bottom are fine. Either way, my family and I love these and my mom even said that even though these are about a week and a half late for Valentine's Day, they were worth the wait. I loved the vanilla filling in these, but I'm also very eager to make them again and maybe make the filling for half of the "pies" some different flavors (mint, maybe? raspberry? Oh, I know- peanut butter!) But before I remake any recipes from "My Sweet Vegan," I really wanna try as many different ones as possible.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My First Quinoa Experience

(alright, you get two pictures just because I couldn't decided which one I like more!)

What better way to try quinoa for the first time then with the Pineapple Cashew Quinoa Stir Fry from Vcon? At first I wasn't sure if I really loved quinoa on it's own, but after tasting it in the stir fry, I think I am in love! Wow. I love edamame (used instead of the green peas), I love pineapple, I love cashews, and I get really excited when I get to use my wok, so this dish is officially perfect in every way. Even my parents didn't mind it. However, I learned that apparently my mom has a strong hate for ginger and can taste even the tiniest bit in every dish, so she wasn't crazy about the ginger in here. I find this pretty weird since I didn't think it was a dominant flavor and my dad couldn't even taste it....go figure. I've been eating the leftovers (unfortunately, not a lot.....) for the past two days and I'm still craving this stuff. Yum..... Well, sorry for the short post, but I have some friends coming for a mini movie marathon (Saw, to be exact- I know, really weird coming from someone who cannot stand the thought of living creatures being harmed for any reason, but I do love my gory movies), but I promise to post within the next few days with something that has suspiciously been missing from my past few posts........dessert!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ft. Lauderdale

Just got back from Florida last night and I'm still super tired from the trip (especially since I had school again today) so I intend on keeping this a relatively quick post. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the beach or palm trees since I was trying to conserve my camera's batteries, but these pictures are still beautiful even if they are not typical "Florida vacation pictures."

Some of my grandmother's orchards in her yard:

Unfortunately, one of my grandmother's dogs, Nel, recently passed away last month. She was a very sweet dog and was relatively young, but she had been very sick for awhile. My grandma was especially devastated from this loss and planned on not getting anymore new dogs. However, after going with one of her friends to get a dog, my grandmother fell in love with one of the puppies that she saw. Here's Gypsy, a Pomeranian. She weighs only two lbs. and is less than 2 1/2 months old, as my grandmother unfortunately always gets pets from breeders :( But nonetheless, she's such a sweet and energetic little puppy and is very social already. This picture of my mom holding Gypsy really doesn't show just how tiny she is, but trust me- she's tiny.

Haha, funny story here- well you see, when my grandma told my grandfather about the new puppy she got, he was very upset since they had agreed that they were too old and traveled too much for any new dogs. After a few hours, he lightened up on the idea and offered to go with my grandma the next day to pick up Gypsy. According to my grandma, on the car ride there my grandpa kept mentioning how the dog better not be a little, white, scruffy dog since he didn't want to have to worry about keeping it clean. Well.........apparently, once they got to the breeder, my grandpa saw another little dog. So, being the softy he is, my grandfather fell in love with this dog and came home with not only one, but two new puppies. So below are some pictures of Rags, my grandparents little, white, scruffy dog (talk about irony)!

It's truly adorable to see Rags and Gypsy playing together. It's obvious that they will grow up together and be very close. Plus- they're both so damn small and cute!

Of course we cannot forget my grandparents other beloved dogs:

(Eeeek! Bad lighting!) Here's Nebell, she's rather old and sleepy and has been deaf for awhile, but she's still super friendly. It's just sad that we can no longer call her over to us to play with her....

Mya, my grandparents' oldest dog. I truly connected with her over this vacation and I'm not entirely sure why. I think it's because when she was younger, none of the grandchildren in my family could ever pet her since she was so skiddish. Now, because she is completely blind, she has to depend a lot more on people and actually enjoys when people pet her. It breaks everyone's hearts to see her constantly bump into people and walls, but she's still such a happy dog, so that's what really counts and we're happy to have her still around to be with us.

Update: Sadly, Mya was put to sleep only a few days after we returned home from Florida. In addition to poor eyesight, Mya also had awful heart problems and a very difficult time breathing for her last few days. My grandmother is, of course, heart-broken. I just feel thankful that I was able to finally get close to Mya during our vacation because she didn't like most people when she was younger and was very difficult to get to know. I hope she is much less pain now and she will be missed very much.

And last, but certainly not least, Mistro. He's a Bernese Mountain Dog, which I of course must mention since my three doggies are all Berneses. I think he's actually distantly related to my youngest dog, Bo, but I can't remember....

Now, just because this is food log after all, the only food picture I managed to get this week: the sweetest, juiciest nectarine I have ever eaten. Mmmmm....

Oh, I must mention this quickly. Well....about trying to eat at Sulbime- it didn't work out, which really was quite disappointing :( We were unable to go there as a family all weekend since my grandparents were unwilling to try the food there and they are not open for lunch, so my dad suggested that I order something to pick up from the restaurant and eat with my mom at home while the rest of the family went to some seafood restaurant. My mom and I were literally on the phones for half an hour trying to call the restaurant with no answer. Not even an answering machine- it just kept ringing! Sigh..... to say the least, I was a little upset by this since I didn't really have any food for a last-minute dinner left in my grandparents house that was vegan except for some cereal, but I didn't let it get to me (I like cereal for dinner anyways!). For now, I just emailed the restaurant to ask if they know why no one was answering, not because it will get anything done, but because I can't leaving anything unanswered- haha. Oh well, there's always next year....

Update: I received a reply from Sublime about why their phone line was not being answered. Unfortunately, they had their phone line down for a few hours that night. Of course- the few hours on the one night I try calling...

So that's my vacation! The occasional bump in the road, but it was very fun and I enjoyed being with my family for the entire weekend (not to mention getting away from the weather!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Shall Return

Just posting to let you all know that I won't be posting again until next week since we're leaving for Florida tomorrow morning. I can assure you, though, that my next post will be filled with beautiful pictures of nice, warm sunny weather. Truth be told, I'm just happy to be leaving the 5-10'' of snow and single-digit degree weather we've been having here in Chicago. Oh, and I'm hoping to be able to eat at Sublime (an all-vegan restaurant) while I'm in the area. Guess we'll just have to wait and see, so 'till then- toodles!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Pasgetti and Beanballs

Yeah, that's how I said it as a little kid....I also pronounced "burger" as "booger" until I was eight. Either way you pronounce it, nothing goes better with spaghetti than Beanballs from Vcon. Just to continue with my freezing obsession that I've had since winter break, I made a bunch of these lil guys and (what else?) froze 'em! I just baked them as the recipe said but didn't add any sauce, let them cool, froze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet for a of couple hours, and put them in plastic baggies! I suspected after reading the recipe that these would be pretty good, but I had no idea how good- I really really love them. My dad has been trying to eat less meat since he's really into running and has noticed that a lot of his running buddies aren't huge meat eaters, so he tried a few of these beanballs on his pasta and really liked them. He said that they're a little more bready than "meaty" in texture than he was expecting, which I think is probably because of the vital wheat gluten, but he enjoyed them nonetheless! Oh, and because this recipe is pretty "hippy-ish," I decided to go ahead and add some chopped walnuts and pecans just because I love embracing my inner hippy. So, for those of you who still haven't bought Vcon, go do it- NOW! This recipe is probably my favorite from this book so far!

P.S.- I finally decided on a dessert to make for Valentine's Day (to try out "My Sweet Vegan"). However, because my family and I will not be in town on Valentine's Day, I'll be making for the week after- but it still counts, right? Oh yeah, me not being in town- I should probably explain that. Well my grandparents own a house in Ft. Lauderdale and we usually spend President's day weekend down there every year, so that's where well will be going! So... I probably won't be able to post from the 14th- 18th, but I'll try to take lots of good photos!

Friday, February 1, 2008


YAY!!! While I actually hate snow and cold weather, I am happy that I'll be getting an extra day added onto my weekend. This is only the second snow day my high school has had in over 15 year, I think. The first one was just last year, so the odds of this happening were not likely (while the rest of the school near me always have snow days, mine apparently is evil). So what's a girl who doesn't like playing in the snow to do on a day like this? Bake, of course!

I made banana bread using some overly ripe bananas I had frozen a few weeks ago. Sorry- no inside shots! Anyways, I've been using this recipe for years and it was so easy to veganize, so if figured I didn't want to experiemtn with any new recipes. It's nothing special, just a typical recipe that my mom has in her cookbook. Oh, I don't think I've mentioned my mom's book before! Well, when I was younger my mom dedicated every night for about two year to typing up every single recipe she collected over the years from magazines, books, or family members and put them all into a giant binder that is known as "Mom's Cookbook." I also made an extra half batch after I made this loaf for some muffins which I froze. I know that most people probably already have a banana bread recipe that they use (religiously, if you;re like me), but if anyone wants a really good, reliable one, I'm share my family's recipe.

Banana Bread:

1/2 c. oil
2/3 c. sugar
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 flax "eggs"
1/2 t. vanilla
3 T. soymilk
2 c. flour (any kind will do- I like 1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 whole wheat)
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
chocolate chips or chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, soft together dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture along with the nuts/chocolate (if using). Put batter into a loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, though it may take up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.