Sunday, December 26, 2010

We have a giveaway winner....

The time has come to announce the winner of  the Gilding Lilies 2011 Calendar giveaway.

Eleven people entered (in chronological order):

1. Alessandra (I left your name in because the rules say it's open to all the planet)
2. Michelle (LovinLivinVegan)
3. Melody
4. Laloofah
5. Michelle (DirtyDuck)
6. VegSpinz
7. Carissa
8. BlessedMama (in whose dreams I wash dishes very
9. Lizzie Bordello
10. Jenny
11. Thiên Ân

( I couldn't assign numbers to the comments because I commented in between etc...)

Part 1, the set up:

Courtesy of atmospheric noise and

Lucky number 7! Congrats to Carissa!

Email me with your address, and I'll get the calendar on its way in time for 2011!

Merry Christmas and Happy Stephen's Day to everyone! (We're still celebrating!)

I really feel fortunate to be part of  such a wonderful blogging community.

I'll leave you with a little holiday interlude brought to you by Mr Dandelion:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Tis the Season for a Giveaway

Hey everyone, it's a celebration giveaway!

To celebrate the season, and in looking forward to the New Year, I'm excited to give away a beautiful 2011 Calender from Gilding Lilies. If you aren't familiar with Jennifer of Gilding Lilies' art, you're in for a treat. I've been reading her blog for a while now, and have been admiring her work ever since. She couples fine art photography with stunning graphical effects that end up as greeting cards, prints, jewelry and other items. Definitely, check it out!

I originally ordered this calendar as a gift...but then I ran out of people to give it to! So, I figured offering it through a giveaway would be a way to show my appreciation of all you interesting, fun, talented, and wonderful people out there in blog land.

Here's the calendar packaged up all lovely upon arrival:

I didn't want to open the package and get my grubby mitts all over the pages, so here's a sample of the inside taken from Gilding Lilies Etsy shop:

Image Source: Gilding Lilies Etsy Shop

...and of course, there are 8 more months worth.

To enter, leave a comment about your favorite ways to celebrate a holiday. It can, but doesn't have to be a December holiday, tell us about any celebratory traditions you especially like. Or, you can talk about anything else you want instead.

One of my favorite things to do at any holiday/family celebration is play games...charades, or balderdash, or even the limbo. Sometimes it's difficult to round people up, which is where nieces and nephews generally come in handy :)

I'll announce the (randomly picked) winner on St. Stephen's Day...Boxing Day if you prefer, or I guess here in the US, it's just plain old December 26th.

Official Rules and Regulations:
Giveaway is open to everyone on planet earth. Interplanetary restrictions apply---giveaway prize will be awarded to earthlings only. Oranges and nuts not included. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Treats! Treats!

...Cheezy Baco Treats!

Here's Scamp (aka Daffodil). She's a little on the rotund side...ahem... see how she fills up her play tube so nicely?  But as you can also see, she's dutifully eating her carrot sticks--she's on a little weight loss plan at the moment. Notice her good-natured, sweet demeanor in spite of it all.

Diet or no, everyone deserves a treat sometimes, especially when they are healthy, delicious treats like these from Molly at It's a Vegan Dog's Life. The recipe was for muffins, but she also gives conversion instructions, so you can make them into cookies, bagels, etc. (Very handy)

I'm sure a lot of you already know about Molly's recipes and her recipe book of vegan dog treats, but if not, definitely check it out! The treats are rat approved too! :D

Cheezy Baco Biscuits

Look at those cute little toes and fingers...or is it just me?

Here's Scamp as she finds the cheezy baco treats and tries to get two big pieces in her mouth at once:

Treats in mouth, she runs up to her nest to hoard them...that's what she does with prize booty:

I tried to get a sweet picture of her happily munching away on one of the biscuits, but her sweet demeanor seemed to vanish...

"Back off, These are my treats!" 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vegan Pot Roast

I finally came out of a post MoFo-induced stupor and got these pics uploaded. It's a vegan pot roast.

Also, a mizuna salad with roasted squash and pomegranate.

I got the idea for the salad from Cadry's Kitchen blog. If you go to her site, you'll see that she has some fun cooking videos in the sidebar, and one of them talks about roasting winter squash, and some suggestions on how to use it. One of her suggestions was to put it in a salad, which I thought was a great idea. I found Cadry's site through MoFo, when she did a delightful series of posts around Deserted Island Packing Lists...(highly recommend), and thanks to Cadry for the salad idea! The dressing was just a little olive oil, whole grain mustard, and sherry vinegar.

The pot roast  is based on Jo Stepaniak's recipe in the Vegan Vittles cookbook. I've made it several times, and by now have  tweaked the recipe into my own variation by adding in a few bells and whistles, and omitting a few other things.

I like to eat it with sweet and sour red cabbage and/or lots of spicy mustard. Mr. Dandelion likes it ok as a pot roast, but prefers the leftovers broiled up with BBQ sauce.

Pot Roast Seitan, adapted from Vegan Vittles, by Jo Stepaniak

generous 1.5 cups vital wheat gluten....I usually end up using about 1 and 3/4 cups
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
generous pinch of celery seed
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegan worcestershire
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients, add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until it's all incorporated, then stop. Don't continue stiring or kneading, this will make the seitan come out rubbery. (I mean, it's a little rubbery anyway, but not to make it more so. )

Put the seitan on a work surface and shape into a rectangle. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high, add a touch of olive oil  and brown off the seitan rectangle on each side. Be sure to put it on a well-heated skillet, or it will end up sticking.  It may stick slightly anyway, but just keep sliding a spatula under the seitan as it browns to prevent it from sticking too much.

Setian Braising Liquid

1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium shallot, sliced
2 ribs celery, or 1 celery heart, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 carrots, chopped into large chunks
pinch of oregano, or other herb/s of choice
1 bay leaf
3 cups rich veggie broth ( I used 1 cup no-beef broth, and two cups low-sodium veggie broth)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Saute the onion and shallot over medium-low until the onion begins to caramelize ~ 15 minutes, add in the bay leaf, oregano, garlic, celery, and carrot, and saute for another 5 minutes. Add in veggie broth and vinegar and increase heat to bring the broth to a simmer. When the broth is simmering, drop in the browned seitan, cover partially, turn down heat just enough so it's not boiling, but continues to simmer gently. Allow the seitan to simmer for  ~ 60 to 90 minutes, turning the seitan about halfway through.

About 30-40 minutes before serving, drizzle a selection of veggies with a little olive oil (or omit for fat free) and ladle some of the simmering broth over them, then roast them in the oven.

After you remove the seitan from the pot, you can puree the simmered broth with the simmered veggies to make a gravy (you may want to remove the bay leaf first) :

Pot roast on the table. It takes about 2 hours from stove to table, but most of it is down time.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Green Banana Curry, Shukta Vegetables and Panch Phoron

**Post Factum:** 
This is one of a series of posts for Vegan MoFo 2010; my theme was a 'Virtual Random Road Trip', where I used's random geographic location generator to select locations around the globe, I then attempted to cook a few dishes from the traditional cuisine of that place. I didn't have a lot of time between generating the locations and coming up with recipes (~ 1 day). So, lacking time to do proper research, I can't vouch for the authenticity of anything I came up with. However, they are what they are, and it was a fun theme. 

The road trip has fizzled out a bit over the  last week or so, but I wanted to put up one last post in honor of wrapping up VeganMoFo. The last locale for the road trip turned out to be Bangladesh, so here's my shot at a couple of recipes I found on this Bangladeshi cooking site.

The first recipe that caught my eye was a green banana curry. As with the green mango recipes, I can't say whether the plaintains I used are the same variety of hard, cooking banana that would be traditional, but at least these plaintains were truly green, and I think,  probably similar in texture starch content to ones used in that part of the world.

Kanchkolar Dom or Green Banana Curry from Bengali Cooking Recipes
(Serves 6)

4 green/unripe plantains, peeled and sliced  into 1/2-inch pieces
2 green chilis, chopped (I used green serrano chilis)
2 potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 small or 1 large onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
1-2 tablespoons cooking oil as needed/or desired
1/4 teasoon ground cardamon
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon sugar or other sweetner of choice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt to taste

In a sauce pan add two cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, and the plantain slices, bring to a boil and allow to cook for ~5+ minutes. (I boiled mine for ~ 7-8 minutes). Drain the plantains and pan fry in ~ 1 tablespoon oil/or use a non-stick pan w/o oil, unitil the plantain slices are browned on both sides.

While the plantain slices are browning, parboil the potatoes in salted water until somewhat tender, but not cooked all the way ~ 6-8 minutes. (Alternately, you could process the potatoes along with the plantain, but keep in mind that depending on how big your potato slices are, the plantain will probably take a little longer to cook.)

When the plantains are brown, remove from pan and set aside. In same pan with remaining oil, or a touch more if there's none left, add cumin seeds, onion, green chilis, cinnamon, and cardamon and allow them to saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes and saute for another few minutes. Finally, add the plantain back in with the lemon juice, sweetener, and 1/2 cup of water, bring to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for another ~ 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.

The starch from the potatoes and the plantain should help thicken the broth. (Use more water for more broth if desired.)

An easy way to peel the tough skin from the unripe plantain is to cut the ends off, slice through the skin lengthwise and then pry the skin off slowly by running your fingers underneath the skin. (I hope that doesn't sound x-rated or anything.)

I was tempted to add coconut milk to this, but didn't in order to keep with the original recipe. The dish is quite pretty because the turmeric turns the plantains a lovely yellow hue. It is nicely spiced, and I especially like the lemon juice added at the end. 

The second dish I made is called Shukta Vegetable with Lentil. The recipe calls for a lauo (or lau), which is bottle gourd. Bottle gourd is a squash/or melon (whatever you want to call it)...a curcubit at any rate that is described as having a light green skin with white flesh inside. Harvested young, it is used as a vegetable. Harvested when mature and dried, they can be used as bowls or bottles. (Very cool, I totally want some gourd bowls now.)

Well, it probably won't come as a surprise, but I did not use bottle gourd. It's not generally available in my local grocery, and I will admit that I'm a bit lazy when it comes to sourcing ingredients. Instead, I used another member of the curcubit family: chayote, which is like bottle gourd in so far as it has a green skin and white flesh inside...outside of that, I do not have a clue as to how they might compare. 

I had never tried chayote before, and didn't actually buy it specifically for this recipe. But rather, I bought a couple a few weeks ago after being inspired by Zoa's cool post on this squash earlier this month. With no bottle gourd around, I figured what the hey, let's give the chayote a try.

Shukta Vegetable with Lentil from Bengali Cooking Recipes
(serves 6)

1 lb lauo/bottle gourd (I used 2 chayote squash (unpeeled)), cut into 1/2-inch peices
1/2 cup dry mung beans
1 cup green peas, (not dried)
1 teaspoon sugar or other sweetener of choice
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
handful of coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt to taste

In a sauce pan over medium-low, dry roast the mung beans slightly (~1 minute). Now add the ginger and turmeric, salt and 2 cups of water, cover and cook over medium-high until mung beans are tender. About halfway through cooking, add in the chayote pieces. When the mung beans and squash are tender, toss in the peas, the sweetener, and cilantro and cook for another minute or so.

When you are ready to serve, heat the oil in a separate pan, add the mustard seeds and stir quickly. Remove from heat and pour cooked vegetables/mung beans in the oil and stir through.

(Note: the original recipe says to add the bottle gourd in at the beginning and cook it with the mung beans the whole time, but I wasn't sure whether the gourd might be a little harder than the chayote, so I added it in later, probably  ~10 minutes before the mung beans were done.)

Both dishes were tasty, especially with a little Frank's Red Hot sprinkled over the top.

And finally, this is more of an aside, but I wanted to quickly mention Panch Phoron, or Bengali 5-spice (panch=five, phoron=flavor). I thought I would use it for this destination, but as it turned out, none of the recipes I ended up making called for it. It consists of fenugreek, anise, nigella, mustard (some sources call for yellow mustard, some for brown), and cumin. It can be used to aromatize oil, or stewed into dals and other dishes. The overall flavor is a little bittersweet, a little licorice-y, and I think it looks pretty.

So there you have it. This random road trip has come to its end. I had a great time and learned a lot from trying new (to me) recipes from other countries and veganizing them. Although, I didn't get to many destinations, I think Algeria and Hungary were my favorites.

I didn't get to read nearly as many blogs as I would have liked either, but I intend to keep perusing the blog roll at over at Vegan MoFo HQ throughout the year to come. There are so many great blogs out there, in MoFo land and beyond!

Bye, bye Vegan MoFo, until next year! Thanks for all the great blogging and good luck to all MoFoers everywhere! And to all vegan bloggers in general (MoFo or not): you guys rock my world! --Love Central--

Finally, *thank you most sincerely* to everyone who came along on the road trip...I really appreciated your company, humor, wisdom, and fun comments!

So long, farewell, and adieu to yieu, and yieu, and yeiu in the languages from the road trip along the way:

Catch ya later
Ma’a salama 
Aabar dekha hobe

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday Eats & Mushroom-Pecan Pâté

The road trip theme is once again eclipsed by more local events. I hope to get one or two more road trip posts up, but today I'm talking family feasting. 

We celebrated Thanksgiving at my mom's place and shared dinner with her and one of my brothers. Mom and bro ate some unmentionables, but we brought our own main course, our own gravy, and the pies. My mom is such a sweetie, she made all the side dishes vegan.

The salad above was really lovely, mom made a raw cranberry salsa and stuffed some anjou pear halves with them, a nice dish. The sweet, soft pears went nicely with the crunchier, more tart cranberry salsa.

Our main course was based on the Portabella Wellington recipe from the Cafe Flora cookbook, which is a mushroom-pecan pâté, layered with braised leek and portabella mushrooms, then wrapped in puff pastry.

In my version, I used crimini mushrooms for the pâté, and instead of the portabellas, I used a layer of maple-cranberry sauce (find Laurie's delicious recipe here!) and maple-roasted kabocha squash. Ground flax and nutritional yeast  stood in for the eggs and cheese in the original recipe. The leeks are braised in white wine, and add a very nice mild allium dimension:

My brother said they looked like pop tarts, lol, and that's exactly what I thought of too as I put them together. These were about 6-inch pastries, and one of them is plenty for a meal. They are nice because everyone can eat one, or half of one, as an extra side dish. I have to say, these were delicious, and were also very popular with the non-vegans at the table.  

Here's the mushroom-pecan pâté after baking:

Not exactly eye candy, but it's rich and super tasty. And, as the cookbook guides, leftovers that don't go into the Wellingtons are excellent in sandwiches. The pâté can be made a day or two in advance. 

Pecan-Mushroom Pâté, based on Portabella Wellington recipe from Cafe Flora Cookbook, by Catherine Geier and Carol Brown

1/2 pound crimini mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced,
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tbsp chopped, fresh thyme / or use herbes de Provence (I used both, probably 1 tbsp fresh thyme and 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1.5 cups lightly toasted pecans, chopped into small bits
3 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Grease a bread loaf pan and line with parchment/baking paper. Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor, until finely chopped...maybe 4 or 5 pulses.

Saute the onion over medium heat until translucent, add the garlic and chopped mushrooms and saute for another ~8 - 10 minutes. Add the sherry and the herbs to deglaze the pan. Continue cooking until most of the sherry has evaporated, add salt and pepper to taste and fold in the chopped pecans, ground flax/water mixture, and the nutritional yeast. 

Put pâté into the lined loaf pan and bake for ~45 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then chill in the fridge for at least an hour before cutting pâté into slices. 

For the braised leek, just clean and chop one large leek and saute in olive oil until the leek begins to caramelize, then add 1/4 cup white wine and allow to cook for another ~ 10 minutes, or until most of the wine is evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

For the squash,  brush 1/2-inch slices of kabocha, or other winter squash of choice with maple syrup, salt and pepper to taste and roast in 350F oven until tender.

Here's another delicious side my mom put together, roasted yams with apples and pecans:

And mom's yummy rolls:

We did imbibe quite liberally, and I think I must have had a little too much wine, because all the photos of the plated dinner came out somewhat blurry:

Blurry or not, it was quite satisfactory. The gravy is a rich red wine gravy, but any kind of gravy that suits your fancy would be good with the Wellingtons in my opinion.

Road trip resumes soon, (hopefully).

Happy Weekend! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vegan SnoFo

Yaay, for snow days! I spent last weekend getting my garden winterized for the snow... and it's here. I haven't had to go into work, and that is good. We've been out playing and wanted to make a snow creature, but the snow is too dry and it won't pack, so we wrote messages instead.

Here's a little hummingbird at the feeder, which looks empty, but it's not.

Stay warm little hummingbird!

Here's a kitty paw:

Here's a kitty:

The hoop house, housing what are surely frozen veggies by now:

We walked down to the lake and saw that someone else was one his way down there too:

Some pretty flowers along the way:

The lake is lovely in the snow, especially on a sunny afternoon:

Bottoms up:

Two bottoms up:

I guess it was rude of me to take pics of their hineys...they swam off in a huff...who can blame them?

A pretty tree, who likes to grow sideways into the lake:

These guys are Canada geese. If you look closely in the background, you'll see the Seattle Space Needle.


If you're in the US, happy holiday weekend, if you're not, then just happy happy.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Everything's Coming up Green Mangoes

Aamer Ombol and Aam Porar Sharbat: green mango refreshers

**Post Factum:** 
This is one of a series of posts for Vegan MoFo 2010; my theme was a 'Virtual Random Road Trip', where I used's random geographic location generator to select locations around the globe, I then attempted to cook a few dishes from the traditional cuisine of that place. I didn't have a lot of time between generating the locations and coming up with recipes (~ 1 day). So, lacking time to do proper research, I can't vouch for the authenticity of anything I came up with. However, they are what they are, and it was a fun theme. 

This post couldn't be less appropriate to the local weather here at the moment. Both of the recipes are cooling summer treats, while here in the Pacific Northwest, we're having our first snow of the season.

Yet, the roadtrip happened upon Bangladesh and while searching for recipe ideas, these two caught my eye. I'm not trying to imply that the weather in Bangladesh is terribly warm at the moment. From what I can gather, April tends to be the hottest month there, while January is the coolest month with temperatures averaging in the mid-70's F. According to an online weather site, it's 84F and clear in Dhaka today. But, I digress.

I was a bit befuddled over the weekend, trying to figure out what to make for this destination...I quickly came to find that there are many regions, so many dishes: some sort of familiar, others completely new to me...Where to begin? What to do? How to begin on the path of the unititiated?

After all that, I decided to try a beverage and a cold soup, both made with green (unripe) mango. I have a confession about these recipes: I believe they are common in West Bengal, but I do not know for sure whether they are also common in Bangladesh. I'm hoping that they I say, befuddled.

I'll begin with the chilled soup: Aamer Ombol – Chilled Green Mango Soup

This was my favorite of the two items. A thin, cooling soup, usually eaten as part of a meal during hot summer months, it consists of green mango, dusted with turmeric and then simmered with chili, mustard seeds, and some sugar.  If you're interested, I highly recommend reading the engaging post (with full recipe).

Note: In the recipe link above, I think she leaves out the turmeric on the ingredient list, but mentions it in the directions. I just sprinkled the fruit with a light dusting of  turmeric before adding it to the pot to simmer.

Not surprisingly, it tastes like stewed fruit, pleasantly settling on the tastebuds somewhere between sweet and slightly savory. The chili in my batch (I used 1 small chili)  was not too strong; I think I would have preferred it a little hotter. The turmeric and the mustard seeds add a mellow dimension and it turns into a mild soup with sort of a deep undertone (if that makes sense). It's easy to imagine this being very suitable and welcome in hot weather. As it was, I was happy to eat it for breakfast, amidst the snow.

The next item is called Aam Panna, or Aam Porar Sharbat (in West Bengal)

I forgot to save some mint for a garnish, (darn it), but this is a beverage made with roasted unripe mangoes, mint, cumin, black salt, and green chilis. (In case you haven't guessed, aam = mango.) It's a cool beverage, meant to be the consistentcy of orange juice rather than a thicker shake-like drink. Again, I encourage you to read through the delightful post where I found the full recipe.

After you roast the mangoes, you remove the skins, collect the pulp and blend it with the mint and other spices, along with enough water to acheive the correct consistency. It was a fun process, and the drink is wonderfully minty. I have to say, the cumin was a bit strong for my tastes, and making this again, would reduce the amount by half. According to the recipe, using the kala namak, or black salt, is essential to the flavor.

Post scriptum: I used the wrong kind of salt! The salt I used is indeed black, but it was black lava salt, the Hawaiian kind. Oh well, next time I'll try it with real kala namak! Thanks to Laurie for pointing me in the right direction.

...Looking in on the colorful world of aam from the snow:

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