Vegan MoFo Day 16 – Your Typical Weeknight Meal. . .

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. . . If your typical Monday brings you home at 3:00pm and you don’t have to be back at work until 11:00am the following day. Maybe this isn’t so “typical.” The in-progress title that I chose to go without: Clusterfuck Pizza. Because the toppings are just a little on the random side.

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My main motive for this pizza (besides pizza being the best ever meal), is that I wanted to bake. I wanted to bake something nice and yeasty. The fact I have new-to-me Vegan Pizza was a smaller factor.

My current flour stock has a whole wheat to all purpose ratio of about five to one. I have nearly-full bags of whole wheat and white whole wheat flour, plus about half a bag’s worth of whole wheat pastry. I only have half a bag’s worth of white flour, which I use a lot more of. . . obviously. So a crust that’s whole wheat to white in a ratio of 2-1 is just perfect for what I have. Enter the whole white wheat crust! Tasty, and it barely even looks different than a white crust.

My only complaint on this recipe is. . . No knead? Really? I tried using a fork as directed, but after about half of the flour was incorporated, I found it necessary to knead the dough to get the rest of the flour in. I’m not complaining – I love to knead. But I can see someone expecting a hands-free crust getting a little frustrated.

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I flipped through the book for appetizing combinations but nothing really caught my fancy, so instead I went to my fridge for inspiration. My last pizza had been straight-up veggie and while that’s fine, I was craving a more meaty pizza. Enter seitan – I’m pretty sure it’s the Isa Does It simmered seitan, but I rotate between so many that I could be wrong. I let it marinate in liquid smoke and “pizza seasoning” – it gave it a flavor that was a mix between pepperoni and italian suasage (my favorite pairing!). For veggies, I used spinach, black olives, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh (seeded) jalapeno.

Un-pictured because sauces make for boring pictures: the red sauce from the book (using both the oil and tomato paste variations) and an impromptu cheeze sauce made with leftover Toffutti, silken tofu, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil.

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Here’s my little pizza ready to go. I sprayed the crust with oil before topping to prevent the sauce from absorbing – a little “trick” that I find to be necessary 99% of the time. Cornmeal and a pizza stone: also beneficial (though a cookie sheet will still make decent enough pizza in a pinch).

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Here it is fresh out of the oven. Yummy! I was shocked (and happy) to see that the Tofutti sauce browned, bubbled, and formed a skin! It still wasn’t as good as cashew creme, but if you’re out of cashews. . . Do what you need. This was a nice alternative, but not “perfect” – so no recipe.

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Here you have the one and only photogenic slice. I was impatient and cut into the pizza immediately after it came out of the oven. Yeah, um. If you like pizza to be pretty and not a mushy mess. . . Don’t do that.

Vegan MoFo Day 15 – Cast Iron Skillet en Flambé

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I had my first kitchen fire!

Am I proud of this? Hardly. Am I amused by it? Oh, yes.

It started out innocently enough. I was making the Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl from Isa Does It and trying my best to multitask. The cast iron pan was heating to a high heat, the sauce was done and kept on a low heat to keep warm. The rice was all but done and I tossed my greens in to steam a little. Oh, did I mention that the pan had been “preheating” since the other ingredients started?

Yeah, that was stupid of me. As soon as I added oil, the whole pan caught on fire. It was, to say the least, startling. And unlike my “clever” little title, it wasn’t a legitimate reason for fire. Alcohol catching fire? Cooking! Oil catching fire? Disaster! But apparently screaming “OH MY GOD!” attracts attention, even if there is Sunday night football. So nothing got damaged in the end. . . Not even the pan, since it was cast-iron and not Teflon! Not even my face or hair, even though I have horrible posture and the flame shot at least a foot in the air!

Also, I think I’m finally getting in the swing of things, blogging-wise. After everything calmed down and the pan was running under cool water to cool off, my first thought was, “Damn, I wish I caught a picture!” But I guess an in-tact kitchen is more important than an exciting blog. I guess.

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After the pan was brought to a safe high heat, I fried up my tofu cubes and got to work on the bowl. Don’t those cubes look perfect?

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Best tofu I ever made. And that sauce, oh my god! So tasty! I didn’t shop for this dish, but rather flipped to the recipe when deciding what to do with some tofu that was getting close to turning. I had most everything on hand, all but the kale and the ginger. Kale I changed out for spinach – easy. Ginger was tricky. . .I didn’t have it fresh/frozen, and I didn’t even have the powder that you use for pies and stuff! What I did have was pumpkin pie spice. It worked better than you might think! The sauce was amazingly flavorful and won over meat-eaters. Yay, Isa Does It!

Vegan Mofo Day 14 – Earth Balance (Vegan Cheddar Flavor) Squares

Plenty of people have reviewed these crackers already, and I am aware that I am some months late on the band wagon. I hadn’t purchased these yet because while I did enjoy the odd cheese cracker before going vegan, it isn’t something that I miss too much. I didn’t find myself craving them regularly, like cheese puffs or boxed macaroni. So while I was curious, I couldn’t motivate myself to purchase crackers that were nearly a dollar per ounce at the local Whole Foods.

What made me change my mind? A sale bringing them down to a mere four-fifty per box? (Have you ever seen Whole Foods’ sales? Silliness.) Shop lifting? A charitable donation?

Try the 99 Cents Only store. I found myself in this store this week because money is extremely tight for us right now while we work out some debt. I figured we’d buy what we could there and figure out what’s left for food after the bills. Not a bad plan, right?

The 99 cents store is actually pretty awesome. If you haven’t been and your frame of reference is The Dollar Tree, trust me when I say it is nearly fifty times better, food-wise. Sure, there aren’t any mini jars of Just Mayo, but isn’t that Dollar Tree’s one vegan selling point? The only one? 99 cents store is like a tiny Grocery Outlet. In addition to regular offerings like cheap-tasting bread and processed “cheese product,” they have factory rejects and overstock out the ying-yang. And unlike the overstock at Grocery Outlet, everything is a dollar. It’s really hit or miss, shopping there. Once I found Silk yogurts and Enjoy Life cereal. Once I found Earth Balance cheese puffs (and bought eight bags). Often times I find nothing special, but a few decent items. Friday I found Earth Balance crackers.

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Sorry, Earth Balance, but one dollar for a 6 oz box is more my budget. In a lapse of logic, I bought five. I quite literally bought five for the price of one. (Wasn’t the idea to NOT spend five dollars on cheese crackers?)

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I was shocked when I opened the bag. They smelled just like a box of freshly-opened Cheez-its.

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As for the flavor. . . they’re alright. They’rd oddly sweet, and don’t have the grease and salt that I miss from the Nabisco treats. I’m kind of glad I didn’t pay a steep price, but I’m a bit overwhelmed by the five boxes. I might try making crusted tofu/seitan, or maybe doing a casserole. Cheese-cracker baked mac and cheese, anyone?

Vegan MoFo Day 13 – Breakfast Food Has Many Uses

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One thing you should all know about me: I am addicted to a few sitcoms. When I get addicted to sitcoms, I quote things at stupid times. My latest obsession has been Parks and Rec, and don’t think for one minute that it’s been off the hook, quote-wise.

Favorites:

  • “Give me all of the ________ you have. I’m afraid you heard, ‘give me a lot of _____.’ What I said was, ‘give me all of the _____ you have.” Item changed by situation. Sometimes I even say the real “bacon and eggs,” though I obviously eat neither.
  • “Oh, you beautiful tropical fish.”
  • “LITERALLY. . . ” not more than usual or anything, but I use Chris’ tone every damn time. Do you remember this year’s shark week commercial? “So. . . sharky. . .”? LITERALLY the weirdest commercial I’ve ever seen. Except for all the product placement in Wayne’s World I’M SORRY I’M SORRY!!!
  • The Pit
  • And best of all. . . “Hey baby, if you’re going in the kitchen, can you make me pancakes real quick?”

Like, I’m not kidding. Every time my boyfriend goes to the kitchen or is even remotely near it, I will find an opportunity. Yesterday, he obliged.

!!!!!!

Not mine!!

Yes, I have the best boyfriend in the world. I was feeling crampy and icky, and he made me feel 102101230x better with pancakes!

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The recipe was none other than the famous Puffy Pillow Pancakes. These are seriously the best pancakes I’ve ever had – vegan or no. And they’re very easy to make! I’ve made them so many times that I actually summarized the Isa Does It version onto my print-out home “cookbook.” You know, so I can wipe the page covers clean and not ruin my gorgeous book any more than necessary. That’s how much I use it.

I thought of being creative with fruit, peanut butter, or even chocolate. But before I could make any suggestions, they were delivered to me the old-fashioned way: with “butter” and flavored corn syrup. Yum.

To be fair, I wasn’t entirely lazy. The day before, I spent my day off doing this:

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When our stuff used to look like THIS:

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And I actually spared you quite a bit of gory details. I left out any and all detail shots that could have traumatized. It wasn’t just that everything was messy, it was out and out dirty. See the bathtub ring? Imagine that but everywhere. And not all dead skin and soap particles, but also dust and food and god-knows-what-else. I set out to clean the whole house and this took most of the day! Yuck.

I’ve only blogged 8/13 days so far. That’s not the best – but I have drafts now! YAY, productivity!

Vegan MoFo Day 9 – Laziest Apple Pie

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The other night, I was at my mom’s for sad reasons. She already had a get-together planned and didn’t want to back out of it. A distracted mind is a content mind! She decided to make a pie out of a bunch of apples that were starting to go soft. When she asked me to get the pre-made crusts out of the freezer, I noticed that they were shortening-based and. . . . “accidentally vegan!” I got excited and my mom decided to make her crumble topping with Nucoa*, not butter. Yay for me!

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Look at that accidentally-vegan goodness.

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I’m not one to buy pre-made pie crusts, but when it’s already being made and I am asked to chip in, I sure as hell won’t say no. Another benefit of using a pre-made crust is that baking, which is usually a precise science, becomes a more “wing it” type activity like traditional cooking. In pie, the crust is the only thing that’s really finicky. With that out of the way, the rest comes easy!

My mom cut the apples up and tossed them in some brown sugar, cinnamon, corn starch, and the juice of one lemon.

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She made a crumble-topping out of rolled oats, brown sugar, and margarine.

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We then baked that shiz per the package instructions and it was pretty darn tasty! I didn’t even miss the “mode” from a la mode, which I used to consider necessary for apple pie. I wouldn’t enter it to a fair or anything, but it’s not a bad way to use up excess apples in one hour. 

*I can’t, for the life of me, find any evidence of Nucoa’s new formula. When Smart Balance bought them out, it became the poor man’s Earth Balance. Similar process but less authentic buttery taste for half the price. I use this stuff all the time but I can’t! Find! Proof! Online! That! It’s! Okay! Looks like I already have a new post idea. . . 

Vegan Mofo Day 8 – Breaking from Food

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My parents’ beloved dog Sparky passed away yesterday. He was only five years old. 

It was a huge shock for everyone. He was feeling lethargic for a few days, but my parents thought it was from the other dog Annie being re-homed. They thought he missed her, and didn’t feel too worried. By the time his condition worsened, it was too late to save him. 

They went into the vet at six and I got the call at ten that he had passed. 

I was allowed to go home early because I was such a mess. He was just the sweetest little dog and so freaking young. Visiting my mom that evening was really hard – the house felt so empty

I know this is the vegan month of food, but it’s hard for me to think about food. 
To keep this somewhat relevant, I’ll add that I’ve been stress-eating. Apple pie for breakfast, hummus pack and Slurpee for lunch, and Gardein sliders with tater tots for dinner. I ran into my mom at the store on my break. I felt embarrassed, buying such crummy food. Crummy and expensive food. But I just can’t see the point in trying. Not quite yet.

I should have an actual weekend this week, which is the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard. I will cook! It will be glorious! I will blog about good food!

Vegan Mofo Day 7 – A Preview of Things to Come

About a year ago, I found myself really into freezer cooking. This happened to come around right around the time. . . my phone and camera broke. Yep. I had an in-progress draft saved here for months now and thought it would be a great teaser for where my blog is going.

As you can probably see by the picture and description below, I had quite the stockpile going! It was rather eclectic, but it worked.

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Pictured above (in varying degrees of visibility):

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Random snapshot I took while doing the prep. Pictured: chickpea cutlets and mustard sauce (not in freezer pic above).

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I also documented my first freezer-to-crockpot experience: the chili and corn-muffins. I froze everything but the water and lentils and added them in once defrosted. Muffins defrosted on counter while the stew cooked. YEP, amazing.

What did I tell you? AMAZING! The avocado could have been applied in a prettier way, but I was tired. It was near midnight. That was kind of the whole point with freezing and slow cooking. But I was very happy with how it worked out, flavor-wise! 

If you’re curious, the jambalaya didn’t work out so well. It wasn’t the freezing process that killed it, but two things:
1) I was using brainy seitan (my first attempt!)
2) The recipe was just NOT meant for a crock-pot. Oops! 

Everything else worked out just as well as the chili, but I no longer had a camera to document it. I definitely want to show you guys more freezer meals as time goes on, so anyone as busy as I am can still enjoy a delicious meal. 

Until tomorrow!