Sunday, February 18, 2007

Giant post from a scattered brain

Oh boy, have I been a bad blogger/bloggee! I'm so sorry I haven't been around much lately. Things have been kind of nuts around here and I've been swamped, but things will be settling down in the next few weeks and I'll get back into a better blogging routine again. It seems like I have had a hard time getting back in the swing of things post-holidays, but at least I'm not the only one.

But, even thought I haven't been posting, I have been cooking and taking pictures, so here I go!

Chicken fried tempeh with mashed potatoes and mustard greens. This recipe is the one that Jess posted about a few weeks ago from It was SO good. I would halve the recipe if you're using a regular sized brick of tempeh, because I had a lot of leftover batter.

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Valentine's Day breakfast. I got up early to make Jim his breakfast, which I don't normally do during the work week. A few weeks early we were at a kitchen gadget store and Jim spotted a cookbook called Peanut Butter Planet, by Robin Robertson. Jim could live on peanut butter alone, and I was so happy to see in actually interested in a cookbook, and actually cooking, so I made a mental note of the title and I got it for him for V-Day. At the store, he showed me a recipe for apple peanut butter pancakes that he was drooling over, so I made those along with tempeh white bean patties and some fresh kiwi. He was delighted to have pancakes AND peanut butter and I was delighted that he eagerly accepted a cookbook as a gift. I'll let you know when he finally makes something from it.

Random dinner last week when I really needed to go to the grocery store. Black bean and carrot stew, millet and mustard greens. It was "eh". But I got rid of stuff in the fridge.

A local restaurant here that normally only serves breakfast and brunch has started a series of 4 course vegan dinners that happen one Friday a month. They have become so popular they are booked well in advance, so you have to reserve your spot ahead of time. Jim and I went early this month and it was incredible. It costs a flat $15 a person and it's served family style, so you can go back for seconds if there are still some at your table. The Friday we went we were treated to roasted garlic and potato soup, fennel and beet salad, mushroom risotto stuffed chard with butternut squash sauce, sprouted wheat pasta with roasted veggies and chocolate and dried cherry cupcakes with chocolate mousse. OMG.

Our favorite item was the mushroom risotto stuffed chard, so I decided to try my hand at it this week. I made some mushroom risotto in the pressure cooker, roasted the squash and pureed it, blanched the chard leaves, then filled the leaves with risotto, rolled them up and covered them with the sauce. It was good, but not as magical as the ones we had that night. I know that March is all booked up, but if you're local, I highly recommend contacted them ASAP to try and get a slot for April.

Simple apple crisp with some vanilla Soy Dream. Soy Dream is my new friend, it kicks Soy Delicious' butt.

And our new fun treat! I've heard about people making frozen banana soft serve in the Champion juicer for some time now, but just recently decided to pull out our sadly underused juicer and give it a whirl. Oh boy, is it ever amazing! I expected it to be like banana smoothie texture, but it comes out as soft and creamy as soft serve. We've been alternating chunks of bananas with peanut butter for an amazing treat with no added sugar. I LOVE IT! I've gone bananas buying up ripe bananas and freezing them.

A close up of the nana goodness.

We had a lovely dinner party last night with a handful of friends and I made tempeh fajitas! Naturally, I forgot to take a picture, but this is part of the leftovers, sans salsa. Marinated tempeh with red and yellow bells peppers and onions, tofutti sour cream and guac. Chris and Kate made two yummy salsas, one with roasted tomatoes and olives and another with bananas(! it was really good!) and Sandy and Joe brought homemade sangria. Delicious.

And what else goes better with a Mexican-inspire feast than Isa cupcakes? Especially Isa cupcakes displayed in my new cupcake tree?

Margarita cupcakes. MAKE THESE! The lime and tequila mixture was so freaking good, with the slight crunch of the rim sugar and the creamy frosting with an occasional bit of course salt. The frosting recipes make much more than needed so Jim and I were enjoying it on it's own and man, it is incredible.

Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes, sprinkled with powdered sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon. These have a combination of flours, all-purpose, corn flour and ground almond meal, for a really soft and delicate crumb, that was a nice compliment to the margarita ones. We love you, Isa!

And now, for our latest challenge. Maybe it was the cupcakes talking, but last night after our guests left Jim and I started talking about Lent. We're not religious and neither one of us has ever given up anything for Lent before, but our raging sweet teeth have gotten out of control. Jim is at the point where if there is nothing for dessert he will put chunks of baking chocolate in his mouth, wait for them to melt and then stuff in a teaspoon of peanut butter! So we decided, as of this Wednesday, we are giving up sugar for 40 days. Not fruit, because that's natural, but no sweets, no baking, no sugar added cereal, no maple syrup, nothing. It's going to be hard, but it will be well worth it to see how we feel 40 days from now. I'm really excited to have a goal and to have Jim in on the deal. The first thing is that in the next few days we need to clear everything out of the house that has sugar in it, which isn't much, but I have a handful of things that I need to have far, far away from reach. The Champion will be getting lots of use, so I'll have to go stock up on bananas!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

To those who think vegans are deprived...

Giant food post coming at ya, so I'm just going to plunge in!

Last weekend Jim and I went with Chris and Kate to the lovely city of Eugene, about 2 hours south of Portland, for a day of exploration and, in reality, excessive food consumption.

Besides being home to Soy Delicious and a vegan chocolatier, Eugene is a very vegan friendly place to eat. They not only have options, they have options that make Eugene a very desirable place to visit and heck, maybe retire one day!

Our first stop was Sweet Life Patissarie. Between the 4 of us, the table was quickly covered with 5 pieces of cake/pie and 3 pizzettas. Being a grown-up is great if for nothing else than the fact that you can eat dessert for lunch if you want to.

Raspberry Cheesecake. Heavenly. My personal favorite. Light and tofu based, but the best one I've ever had. Not bean-y tasting at all. Each couple indulged in a piece of this beauty.

A rich chocolate silk cake with a chocolate cookie crust and a whipped strawberry topping. This one was also incredible, the silk was rich and deeply cocoa-flavored and the strawberry whip was light and fruity.

Majorly rich chocolate cake, with a chocolate cream center. It was very good, but may have just been bit much chocolate (can you believe I said anything is a bit much chocolate?!)

Coconut Cream Pie. Very creamy and delicious without being too rich. I wonder if the whipped cream is that Rich's whip that Crystal blogged about recently.

Mushroom and pesto pizzettas. Last time Jim and I were there we had roasted pepper and hummus ones that were better, but it was good to get a little something substantial in our tummies.

Sweet Life really knows how to bake, nothing is overly sweet or sugary, they are truly baking artists.

After spending the afternoon walking off our sugar-induced comas, we went to the famed Pizza Research Institute. It's not really a research institute, but they are known for creative and sometimes questionable pizza combinations.

The 4 of us split 3 small pizzas so we could try more options. Here were our rankings (me and Jim, although I'm pretty sure Chris and Kate would agree).

Delicious, but just not quite able to compete with its friends, this pizza had red sauce, spinach, roasted garlic, red onion, tofu ricotta and asparagus on it.

This one was the chef's special. It was loaded with goodies and one of those questionable toppings they are known for: red sauce, spinach, tofu ricotta, snow peas, green beans, green bell pepper, broccoli, tomatoes, olives, eggplant and, the kicker, nectarines. It was very, very good and the nectarines added a subtle touch of sweetness.

The winner, oddly enough, was the one I had the most doubts about. Red sauce, spinach and tofu ricotta for the base again, but dressed up with a delightfully chunky walnut pesto, potatoes and poached pears. Pears! Most unlikely thing ever on pizza, at least for me in my little pizza bubble. Anyway, it was incredible, more perfumed and fragrant than sweet and the mixture with the crisp crust and chunky pesto, I could have eaten a whole pie myself! Now it has my mind churning with new pizza ideas...

We also had chocolate mousse with shredded coconut on top, but my pics didn't turn out. It was good, not great, but a nice creamy way to cap off an otherwise incredible dinner. The PRI isn't just vegan friendly, it's a vegan must if you're ever near Eugene. They do keep funky hours, though, so be sure to check if you're passing through.

Dinner last night was paella, inspired by Susan. I've been wanting to try this for awhile now and her recent post gave me a boost to finally do it. I really enjoyed it, although I think I used a bit much garlic (dragon breath!) but it's very good and I'm looking forward to leftovers.

I will respond to previous comments in the next day or two, so please hang in there and be patient with me! Thanks for reading!