Blood Orange Glazed Tempeh

We had just the slightest bit of sunshine and warmth this weekend and it totally ruined me for winter. All of a sudden my mind was racing, filled with images of Spring: riding my bike minus all of bulky wintry wear and nose frostbite, starting a windowsill herb garden, sitting in the grass at Dupont Circle reading a book and people-watching, dancing on the deck at Nelly's or 18th street lounge... and then, today it started flurrying. *SIGH*. Well, there's still some wintry hibernating in me yet, and there's no time like the present to get all the boring bar/ MPRE/ job search details out of the way, while I'm still confined to the indoors.
In the meantime, citrus-filled dishes have a way of making me think spring isn't too far off. This last weekend my friend K and I made the Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh highlighted on 101 Cookbooks. We subbed out some juicy looking blood oranges, which together with a little mirin, agave, ginger and garlic made for a unique and bright accompaniment to some pan-fried tempeh, quinoa and broccoli. I've never had tempeh this way it was irresistable! Be sure to check out the recipe. Karen, who had never even heard of tempeh before, thought it was awesome.

Also awesome was the fact that I had enough leftover quinoa to make the superbly great Pineapple Cashew Stir-Fry from V'Con.. I've made this before, but this time it was even better- I think that using leftover, day-old quinoa makes a crunchier stir-fry than making a batch just to use for the recipe. It also dramatically cuts down on prep time- I had time to make this AND cherry-chocolate muffins 45 minutes before I had to be at work. All the bright flavors- pineapple, basil, ginger, garlic- came together to make another spring-y meal in the dead of winter. Oh V'Con, you always save the day.

Song of the Day: ELO- Mr. Blue Sky


Potatoes Faux Gratin, Take 2, and BBQ Tofu


Well its a few days after the inauguration and the whole nation seems to be in a state of post-inaugural bliss, turning to one another, taking a drag of their cigarette, and asking, "how was it for you?" I'm still having fun hearing my friend's anecdotes from the day, checking out everyone's pictures and chatting with people on the metro. Today, a man bedecked in blinking Obama buttons was standing outside the metro doors when I got off besides a mother and her adorable toddler son. The little boy pointed and shouted "Obaaaaa-maaaaa!" It was so cute I almost fainted.

At any rate, my energy is still pretty high and I decided to make myself a complete dinner, with different parts, as opposed to the one-pot meals I've been living off lately. (Yes, the prospect of dirty dishes cannot stop me now!) I made the BBQ tofu from V'Con, some broiled asparagus topped with a little balsamic reduction, and another take on my potato dish. This time, however, I layered sweet and regular potatoes, cut the milk, added more salt and a pinch of garlic powder, and topped the whole thing with japanese bread crumbs (panko.) This was somewhat better than my last try, and went great with the tangy BBQ sauce. Here's my recipe, keeping in mind that a) its a small, single girl portion, and b) that I will probably keep tinkering with it.

Two Potato Faux Gratin Serves 1, with leftovers

-1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin rounds
-1 med boiling potato, peeled and cut into thin rounds
-unsweetened soymilk
-soy creamer
-pinch nutmeg and garlic powder
-Salt and pepper
-A handful of panko mixed with nooch

1. Butter a tiny casserole dish with some earth balance and preheat the oven to 350. Add both kinds of potatoes to a small pot, and fill almost to covering with equal part soymilk and soy creamer.
2. Add in a nutmeg, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.
3. Remove from heat and spoon out potatoes into dish, arranging if desired. Pour remaining sauce in to cover, then sprinkle nooch and panko over top. Cook until bubbly and browned on top, about 25 minutes.

Song of the Day: Ton Steine Scherben- Rauchhaus Song


Inauguration Pictures!

These pictures were taken by my Dad, who was right in the thick of things on inauguration day. I realize they don't have anything to do with veganism, but they have everything to do with soul power. :)





Photobucket Bush flying away...


Cheap as Free!

Food is an important part of a balanced diet. - Fran Lebowitz

My loan check finally came!!!! Finally I can buy produce again! See, just days after inauguration and the economy is rebounding already!

I have to say though, that this recent bout with poverty, while not especially thrilling (particularly all encounters with my hellish bank) did teach me some lessons about surviving on little to no food except what's already in my pantry. Its been a while since I've had to think about what I'm going to eat so much, and I got some good new ideas, and pulled out a few good old ones. They say necessity is the mother of invention. At any rate, here are a few....


1. Drink Tea. When Eva Peron was a young aspiring actress, not an iconic and controversial martyr married to a semi-dictatorish Argentinian President, she maintained her budget by drinking lots of Mate. Its a natural energy booster and appetite suppressant and is pretty delicious with some agave nectar. Similarly, I drink mate and peppermint tea to stay awake-- and its cheaper than coffee. (Especially effective when combined with a good book, pictured above.)

2. Bake. This should be obvious, but I always forget about all the whole wheat flour, yeast packets, and other baking accoutrement hiding in my cupboard. When you've got nothing but time and flour, you can always come up with something. (And a lot of recipes that call for soymilk work ok with water...)

3. Reconsider your condiments. I found myself relying more and more heavily on condiments the last few weeks, since they are always plentiful in my fridge. Can I eat a barbeque sauce and onion sandwich if it comes down to it? Yes, yes I can. Soy sour cream and fried bananas? Yes, please. A grilled mango chutney sandwich? You betcha. An even better option though?
Secret grilled sammies: Mix up a good knob of earth balance with some nooch, salt and pepper, and garlic powder. Spread it thick on the bread of your choice, and grill it, buttered side down, in a pan. Once its brown and crusty (and scrumptious!) fill it with tomatoes, avocados, or whatever else you have. These are good enough to eat even when you're rolling in cash.

4. Lie. For some reason, people are more likely to buy you a drink/ dinner if you lie and say its your birthday or someone just broke up with you. I didn't try this one, but I feel like one could procure some beer or cupcakes out of the deal...

5. Try the magic one pot combo. I have developed a formula that combines the grains and canned beans on hand in every cupboard with spare veggies, hopefully ones you might have in the freezer. Here it is:
Garlic + bean of choice + spices + frozen veg + liquid + grains= dinner for two days, at least

Basically, all one need do is fry some garlic or onion in a little oil, add in the beans, veggies if you have some, and spices, cook until a little browned, and enough liquid (veg broth or water) to cook the grains, which is the last thing you add. At the end, cover with nooch and hot sauce and it will (probably) be good.

Possible combos:
-garlic, chickpeas, asparagus and sundried tomatoes, white wine and cous-cous! (pictured)
-onion, black beans, canned pineapple, frozen broccoli, water and quinoa!
-garlic, kidney beans, frozen peppers, hot pepper, veg broth and yellow rice!
Combos are finite, but very likely to use up every last can in your pantry.

6. Pretend. When you go on a fast or detox you don't have a lot of solid food on hand either, right? Might as well make the best of things, drink a bunch of juice and nettle tea and just pretend this whole "broke" thing is an illusion... you're just intentionally detoxing for a few days!

*Ummm, you probably shouldn't use these if you're going to be out of money for more than a week or two, or you might starve/ get scurvy/ alienate your friends.

Song of the Day: Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk- Rufus Wainright


Inauguration Day in DC!

What a completely amazing day! Finally, DC revealed some hidden advantages to living here when I got to be part of the joy as Obama got sworn in just down the street. Guys, I actually thought to myself today that I am *proud* to be an American! I'm not sure when, if ever, that thought has crossed my mind before. (Certainly not during the last 8 years.)

All over DC people were swarming the streets smiling and laughing and talking to strangers. (Even on the metro!) And by the time I got back to Columbia Heights, it was just in time for thealternative inaugural parade, which had some amazing drummers. It just felt like the mood was so lightened and that, although no one is expecting a miracle, that we are moving out of an era defined by fear, greed, and narrow-mindedness. Now, of course, we still need to ban Prop 8 and its counterparts, close Gitmo, and withdraw from Iraq but... it seems possible now!

I especially liked how during his speech, Obama emphasized that responsibility is an outward thing: a duty we have towards our family, communities, and global neighbors. For so long "responsibility" has been a term invoked by the right to mock welfare mothers and pregnant teenagers (or worse, as part of a "culture of ownership"). Its great to see this term turned around!

Anyways, I made some muffins to help me and my Mom brave the cold to head downtown. It helped somewhat, but it was still incredibly f*&king cold!

These muffins are the quick banana-oat muffins from The Garden of Vegan, one of my favorite cookbooks. I subbed in whole wheat flour and added some blueberries in there too, and they were fabulous, as is everything that comes out of Sarah Kramer's mind. (Did I mention I had a dream that she had a new cookbook out the other night? Someone needs to buy me Vegan A -Go-Go.)

Oh man, I'm still broke and I still despise law school, but I can't see how anyone could be in a bad mood after this! Hope everyone had a great day!


Hungry and Poor

Holy Frying Pan, I have been SOOOO HUNGRY lately! Seemingly since the second I got back from Budapest I've been eating non-stop... and every second I'm not eating I'm plotting my next meal. Its like that scene in Rosemary's Baby where she's possessed by the urge to eat raw meat... except it would be, like, raw beets. (And also, I'm not carrying the child of Satan.)

Usually this surge in appetite would be a minor inconvenience, but at the moment I have exactly $.88 in my account since I'm still waiting for my loan check to come in, so its becoming sort of an issue... After the yummy tortilla stacks and vegan hot dogs I've been living on ran out, I started fantasizing about all sorts of concoctions with the remaining groceries and canned goods I have around. Which, truthfully, should be what I always do, not just when I'm broke.

Part of this, I submit, is related to my newly intensified work-out schedule. After a few weeks of practically nothing (unless you count walking up the Buda hill, pictured at right, which, come to think of it, was quite strenuous) I came back to a whole new schedule of classes, not to mention weather that permits (and compels!) bike riding. My (gorgeous and perfect) roomie M and I take Step class a few times a week, which is sort of a dancey cardio workout, plus a weight-training class and whatever we do on our own. This week we're also going to take a couple Bhangra dance classes, which I'm beyond stoked about. But it should make me even hungrier...

Anyways, one dish I dreamed about the other day was the Tamarind Chickpeas from The Healthy Hedonist by Myra Kornfeld. Its such a cheap and delicious dinner, and I decided my friend Karen and I should make it for a girls cooking night we had. Basically, its canned chickpeas, canned diced tomatoes, ground toasted cumin and a ton of ginger and garlic. On a given night I usually have all those ingredients! (I sub ginger for the tamarind, since its easier to find and I like it better.) And OH MAN. SO good with mango chutney and rice. Karen thought so too, and she is mega-picky so its saying sumthin. :) But alas, no pictures. However, if we start to cook weekly, like Karen says, then hopefully there will be pics to come.

Later, in a fit of hunger with very little actual food remaining save for some old potatoes, I also felt compelled to recreate a childhood classic, potatoes aux gratin. My Mom used to make this to accompany some meaty dinner, and its basically an ultra creamy potato dish that can be as fancy or homey as you like it. It has a ton of milk and usually a ton of cheese, but I think it actually can be quite marvelously veganized! I adopted the Joy of Cooking Recipe, but I think it needs some work to make it truly delectable so I'll wait until I've improved upon it a bit.
Not that this wasn't fabulous, but I felt it was a little too sweet (too much nutmeg?) and needed something other than nooch on top to get brown and crispy. Next time I'll try it with a mixture of teese and breadcrumbs I think. And did I mention this dish reheats really well? That works for one of my resolutions.

So until the loan check comes in I think I'm reduced to more hot dogs and oatmeal, which, to be fair, is not a fate worse than death. Let's just hope I go back to my normal, non-crazed appetite sometime soon.

Song of the Day: Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts- Wolf Parade


New Years Resolutions

Me and S. in Budapest, NYE with an awesome old Trabbi in the Jewish Quarter

I find that most people fall into one of two camps on the topic of New Years Resolutions. You are either of the sort that makes a list, fully (and foolishly) intends to follow through, tells everybody, lalala... or the type that loudly proclaims that if you want to accomplish something, you simply do it, without waiting for some bullshit holiday to push you along.

Well, I'm sorry all-year-long achievers, but that is simply obnoxious. Play along with the rest of us, won't you? I mean, you really just like to pick some random day in April to, say, start going to the gym or quit smoking or leave your dead-end job/ town/ relationship... and then you, like, just DO IT?

Well, not being a Nike ad myself, I need that little push. In fact, I would like if there was a New Years Eve at the beginning of every month, as I seem to pick up new (and unique!) bad habits on a weekly basis. At any rate, I like the fact that the whole country is pulling along with me to stop the annoying and self-destructive things we did last year, and pick up all new cancer causing habits/ relationships. Let's do it, America!

And further, like the Washington Post, I like to do an In/ Out list, rather than a plain old list. For comparison sake.

So, food-related resolutions for 2009!!!!

In: Saving money by sticking to a weekly food budget and making lists before I get to the grocery store.
Out: Just wandering aimlessly around the grocery store like "Lalala, I think I'll have chocolate soymilk, potato chips, and ginger snaps for dinner tonight..."

IN: Cooking one recipe a week from my massive cookbook collection.
OUT: Merely reading my cookbooks, like novels, from cover to cover.

IN: Making my own fabulous lunch, composed of nifty ideas from Vegan Lunch Box!
OUT: Stealing free soup-crackers from cafeteria, if I remember to, then almost passing out from starvation on route home.

IN: Cleaning my house with safe, non-toxic, DIY housekeeping methods (baking soda and vinegar and the like.)
OUT: Er... just, not cleaning at all.....

IN: Making cheap and fabulous dinners in two batches so I can successfully utilize that whole "leftovers" phenomenon. (Like, for example, the simple corn tortilla stacks from the other night, with spiced black beans, chipotle salsa, cheddar Teese, sour cream and avocados.)
OUT: Making expensive single-person dinners that take a ton of effort and do not produce leftovers.

(Yum! These beauties lasted me two days instead of one! Economizing!)

Hm, so I guess the bottom line is that I'm going to try to save money without sacrificing my fabulous vegan lifestyle. Sounds achievable... right?

Happy (belated) New Years!

Song of the Day: The New Year- Death Cab for Cutie