Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gift from Hubby

After a lot of great reviews and seeing how many containers of soymilk we're going through a week, dh "authorized" the ordering of a soymilk maker.  I looked at various reviews and decided this one meets the basic requirements I'm looking for.  I also ordered the "tofu" kit and some organic soybeans.
We're excited to have the ingredients for quick milk on hand and to lessen the amount of boxes we toss in the trash.  Then add that it costs less than I am current spending.  Makes for a happy decision.

I've been reasearching recipes for the Okara and looking at tips for "homemade" tofu.

I still haven't planned this weeks menu and tomorrow is the day to
I'd better get busy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I so love my UPS lady!

I really do.  I know every time she pulls up I'll be finding something fun on the back porch.  Just look at what she left today!

I'm really hoping this book lives us to its reputation.  It came highly recommended and since I am relying on my "super" Walmart market to supply the bulk of our foods I am hoping it is right up my alley.

So tonight I'll be settled in for a good read and then I'll see what recipes to try first.

Other notes --

I didn't stick completely to Wednesday's menu.  I had leftovers of the Speckled butter beans and rice.  So of course, I served them for lunch.  Then I took the final bit of them and used them to make soup that night so instead of barley I used rice.  No big deal...but today I didn't stick to the menu either. I had extra time this morning and we made hashbrowns.  Then I forgot to bring the potatoes with me so we're having left over soup for lunch.  Thank goodness I did start the blackbeans in the crockpot!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cupcakes Rule the Day

I know the menu calls for cookies, but it was just a cupcake kind of day.
We decided to try a new recipe, Vanilla Cupcakes, in a fabulous book called 500 Vegan Recipes.
I used the basic recipe except I substituted whole wheat flour. I also made an 8x8 inch cake with the
leftover batter rather than more cupcakes.

This is really a great cookbook because it has everyday dishes and the slightly more exotic.
A good mix for a family. I think I'll make it a goal to try each of these recipes over the next 2 years.

Supper went as planned...I think.

We had speckled butter beans, which I buy frozen. They aren't anywhere near as inexpensive as dried beans
but they taste so good. (It takes about $4.50 to buy enough for a meal and a few leftovers to add to something else.)  I cooked them in Rosey.

I learned how to cook rice in the pressure cooker and it was so fast!  I used the directions in this great book by Lorna Sass.  It isn't all vegetarian meals, but the directions on cooking beans and grains are fabulous.

The slaw was simple:
pre shredded cabbage
3 huge tablespoons of brown spicy mustard
big dash of Original Mrs. Dash
And let it chill.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cornbread and Rutabegas

My husband and I love simple meals. Eating a vegan diet makes it easy to stick to simple meals and this is one of our favorites.

I love my BRK pressure cooker. It was expensive, but has quickly repaid me with fast, tasty food.

To cook rutabagas in pressure cooker -- peel and dice in cubes and put in pot. Add spices of your choice. I use garlic and various herbs along with a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then put lid on. Set pressure on 2. When "button" pops up and steam begins to escape at a steady pace lower your heat. Set time for 6 minutes. When time is up do rapid cool down. (Put under running cold water.) When button drops you can remove lid. Test doneness and seasoning. Super easy!

I'm a "Southern Lady" and I love cornbread. I grew up always eating white cornmeal and I often use it if I am buying meal and not grounding my own popcorn. Blue Ribbon is the best brand....just because my mama says

When I first starting trying to get my family to consider a vegan diet I was constantly looking for old favorites reworked.

The Vegan Lunchbox has a wonderful recipe for cornbread that we just love. My children ask for it and tell me it is sweet enough that they could eat it for cake. I love the fact that I use all whole grains and no milk/eggs. It isn't an inexpensive bread because it does have pure maple syrup in it, but boy is it good! (By the way, my book is one of the first editions, but there is a second edition that doesn't cost $

The corn and bean salad was my variation of a recipe I found in a McDougall book. I just didn't want the complicated additions so I simply used 1 can of corn and 1 can of black beans -- both drained. Then I added a big dollop of hot salsa. Stir and chill.

This was our simple supper for Monday night.

Simple Chocolate Cookies

Yesterday my daughter and I wanted to bake cookies. Every cookbook I consulted that had a chocolate cookie recipe had ingredients I didn't have on hand. Chocolate was the key requirement because when I tried to bribe her with oatmeal cookies she wasn't impressed. So these are our attempt at chocolate cookies and they didn't turn out too badly. They were a little soft, cakey like but over the course of the night and in packing my darling hubbies lunch, the whole batch is now gone.

Here's our recipe:

Simple Chocolate Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 F...and line pans with parchment paper.

In small bowl mix the following well to make sure you have no lumps:
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of baking powder
2 tbsp of egg replacer
1/2 tsp of salt

In large bowl whisk the following together:
1 cup of soy milk
1 tsp of vinegar
Let this sit for a moment to "clabber."

Then in same large bowl add 1/3 cup of canola oil and whisk.

Pour flour mixture into liquid and mix well.

I don't have a cookie scoop, so I simply used a tablespoon (from the silverware) to put the cookies in the pan. Leave about 2 inches between them. Bake for 10 minutes, cool in pan for 5, and then on rack until completely cool.

If anyone tries these please let me know how you like them. I think they'd be fabulous with tea. (I'm open to any suggestions for improvement, too)
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Blackberry Pancakes and Weekly Menu

Yesterday at the store I found fresh blackberries. Don't they look yummy!
And they were fabulous with pancakes this morning.

Menu for this week:

Monday: B -- blackberries and pancakes
L -- Mexican Corn Salad
D -- Rutabegas and Cornbread with leftover salad from lunch
Snack -- Chocolate cookies

Tuesday: B -- Crockpot Oatmeal with peaches and blueberries
L -- Spicy Cole Slaw, Hashbrown potatoes
D -- Speckled butter beans, brown rice, and chopped onion
Snack -- Ginger snaps

Wednesday: B -- Grits with cinnamon apples
L -- Baked sweet potatoes and a veggie salad
D -- Vegetable and Barley Soup
Snack -- Oatmeal Cookies

Thursday: B -- Cream of Wheat with bananas
L -- Baked potatoes with salsa, steamed broccoli, leftover slaw
D -- Black beans, cornbread, fruit salad
Snack -- cupcakes

Friday: B -- Oatmeal with fruit
L -- Lima Beans, hash browns, leftover fruit salad
D -- Chili, brown rice, corn chips
Snack -- Chocolate Chip Cookies

Saturday:  B -- Blender Pancakes, Fruit Syrup
L -- Chili Casserole (from leftover chili)
D -- Veggie burgers, whole wheat buns, fries
Snack -- Cake

Sunday:  B -- Biscuits and jam
L -- Stewed Potatoes, Cabbage, Baked sweet potatoes
D -- Clean out leftovers from week and add to if needed
Snack -- Leftover cake

Head over to Organizing Junkie to see more great menus for the week. 
I always find something new I want to try.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Pleasant Surprise

Do you ever notice that no matter how much you plan things other things come up? Well, my plan for this week was to use my set up of menus to showcase The Vegan Family Cookbook. It won’t be this week though. To get to Walmart I’d have to drive three hours round trip and it just wasn’t happening. I thought it would because we weren’t as planned as busy as we ended up to be on Saturday. Then today I got a call from my mama at a few minutes after ten wanting to know if she could come visit for the afternoon. It has been a long time since she came down so I wasn’t about to say no. So I am saving my menu for next week.

We did go to the local grocery store and I picked up more things than I had imagined I could find. One thing about it – there aren’t many processed vegan foods there.

We’re looking at a good eating week even without my trip to Walmart.

I came home with:

• Rutabegas –2 large

• Cabbage – 1 large

• Slaw mix – 1 bag

• Carrots – 2 bags

• Yellow onions – 2 large

• Red onions – 1 large

• Spinach – 2 tubs

• Apples – 1 bag

• Zucchini – 4 tiny

• Canned giant lima beans – 2 cans

• Green onions – 1 bunch

• Red potatoes – 15 lbs.

• 1 can of olives (new brand to try)

• Dill pickle spearbs – 1 jar

• Celery

• Blackberries

• Frozen speckled butter beans

• 2 bags of frozen hashbrown potatoes

• Green bell pepper

• Chocolate soy milk – I know, but at least they had some kind of soy milk…and I wanted to encourage them to order it.

• Coffee and chicory blend

• Sweet potatoes – 3 whole

• Sweet potatoes – 2 cans

• Brown rice – 1 bag

• Whole wheat flour – 5 lbs.

I may have been wrong about my initial assessment. Obviously you see no tofu, no vegetarian pre-mades (like burgers) or things like that, but I don’t need them to survive.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Another Kitchen Friend

I have another kitchen friend that is a little shyer than Rosey, but she is just as sweet.  Maybe even sweeter because I use her for almost all of my baking.  Why don't we just name her -- Sugar.While I don't have an exact picture of her, this is very close to what she looks like.

She's this lovely gray color.
She can mix and whirl.
Beat and whip
in general help me make up the best baked goods.

She and I have a few favorites:
  • cookies of any sort
  • brownies
  • cake batter
  • bread dough if I only want to make 1 or 2 loaves
Now can you see why sugar is an appropriate name?

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    Planning Next Week

    This cookbook is one of my favorites already. Most of the recipes are very down to earth. There are a few ingredients I cannot find. The nutritional yeast, vegan mayo and flavored tofus aren't in Walmart. However, I do have another cookbook with a recipe for tofu mayo that I can use and this book gives information on flavoring your own tofu so all is not lost.

    I'm working on next week's menu. This week I fell short on some meals. We ate larger amounts of them than I planned for. I'm trying to make a more liberal menu this week. So I've decided to use a lot of the recipes in this book in my menu. What better way to review a cookbook than trying out recipes and sharing my experiences here.

    So be prepared for a lot of recipe talk next week.

    And as for tonight -- I'm trying to convince dh that we should skip the menu and eat out...LOL
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    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Barley and other Grains

    One of the hardest things about rural shopping is finding whole grains -- at least in their whole form.  I can find whole wheat flour with no problem.  I can find barley, but it is the quick cooking.  Brown rice isn't too hard to find, but after a while I get tired of it.  I can find popcorn and grind it for cornbread, but I don't think popcorn would "boil" up too well.

    I can order them online in bulk.  I wonder if the cost is worth it though.  For that matter, how does every other vegan find their whole grains?  I can't grow them myself..LOL

    Oh, that reminds me.  I forgot oats...we love 'em.

    On my too make list -- Rolled Oat Burgers

    I think I have all the ingredients on hand except red bell pepper and fresh basil.  I'll use green bell pepper and dried basil.  If I make them up tonight and I can fry them tomorrow.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Rosey -- The Ultimate Kitchen Friend

    My family jokingly calls me the Queen of Kitchen Appliances.  I just smile and ignore them, because I know the great things in my kitchen aren't mere appliances because they are my friends.

    The Ultimate Kitchen Friend for a new vegan cook has to be a crockpot and the second would be the food processor and the third would be a stand mixer.  (Wow, what run-on  Shhh!  Don't tell them I rank them because I don't want them to start fighting for my attention.

    This is Rosey.

    Rosey is my best kitchen friend so far.  She loves me so much that she cooks for me while I do other things -- like read blogs, cookbooks, teach school and yes, even while I sleep.  With such a wonderful friend a new vegan is bound to succeed.

    Rosey cooks almost everything.  She can cook whole grains to perfection.  She can make a mean pot of chili or soup.  She cooks beans like nothing.  Homemade broth is breeze to her.  She cooks me oatmeal while I sleep.  She's just awesome.  She can even cook pasta with a little supervision.

    With those basics if I add a little fruit or veggies and maybe some bread...I can have a meal ready in no time.

    Here's how Rosey has helped me this week:
    1. a huge pot of rice to go in the frig for meals
    2. a huge pot of beans -- part for soup and the rest in the frig to add to meals
    3. chili -- because I'm miserable with a cold and chili is awesome
    4. vegetable broth -- because I hate to waste money by tossing veggie bits
    Rosey is quite a frugal lady, too.  The pot of chili was enough for two meals and she used part of the beans she had cooked earlier.  Speaking of which, dry beans are way cheaper than canned beans and the salt content can be controlled.  The second meal of chili was great over a big bowl of rice.  By the way, rice is a pretty inexpensive grain and Rosey loves that!  She also loves that it is so versatile.

    I'll be back tomorrow with the beginnings of a favorite cookbook list and perhaps a plan that will let me showcase a week or more of recipes from one of the books.  My goal is to work my way through them because I've promised my darling hubby that I could cook a years worth of vegan food and never repeat meals unless he asked.  So now I have to put my kitchen skills where my mouth is.  (No pun intended.)

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Menu Planning Monday

    In my mind there are three good things about a menu plan.
    1. It makes meal time easier because I can prep things in advance.
    2. It saves me money because I can shop based on my plan and not on whim.
    3. I eat less with a plan, because I can always look forward to the next meal.
    My menu is pretty simple.  I try to plan enough for the evening meals to eat the same dish again the next day.

    My plan for the week is:
    • Crockpot oatmeal with peaches and blueberries
    • Slaw, corn and bean salad, wheat pitas
    • Pinto beans, rice, sauteed onions and peppers
    • Warm rice with soy milk, cinnamon and apple dices
    • Leftover Pinto beans with rice
    • Pasta with tomato sauce filled with chopped veggies
    • Oatmeal bars
    • Leftovers from night before
    • Cabbage, potatoes, and onions with cornbread
    • Cream of wheat with banana slices
    • Veggie tacos
    • Fried rice
    • Grits with maple syrup
    • Baked beans and toast
    • Calzones
    • Fried potatoes with onions, biscuits, jam
    • Crockpot veggie soup with baked tortillas
    • Leftover soup with PBJ sandwiches
    • Crockpot Oatmeal with peaches and cinnamon
    • Roasted root veggies -- potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and added Brussels sprouts, cold bean salad
    • Leftovers from lunch and the rest of the week

    Head over to Organizing Junkie to find many more people who believe in menu planning.  Several have some good vegetarian dishes posted.

    The Humble Cabbage

    One of the great things about vegetables is they are so versatile.
    Take the humble cabbage.
    It is great:
    Steamed with a few potatoes thrown in.
    Stir fried in a pan.
    Added to an "egg" roll.
    Used as a container for fillings.
    Tossed in some soup.

    But my favorite use for the humble cabbage --

    Yes, a simple slaw can add so much flavor and dimension to a meal.

    This slaw is a breeze to make when you use your kitchen friend -- the food processor.

    Spicy "Italian" Slaw
    (all ingredients found at your friendly Walmart Store)

    1/2 medium size head of cabbage, shredded
    5 or 6 radishes, shredded
    5 or 6 baby carrots, shredded

    Remove shredded veggies from food processor bowl
    and put into a mixing bowl.

    Add the following:
    3 Tbsp. of mustard
    1 tsp. of sugar
    1 1/2 Tbsp. of Mrs. Dash Italian seasoning

    Mix well.
    Chill and serve.

    That is all there is to it...the humble cabbage
    becomes a simple side.

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    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Where Is This Blog Going?

    I think it would be fair for any future readers to ask, "Where is this blog going?"  It would be nice if I could answer with 100% certainty, but for now I can share what I hope to share here.

    • Shopping trips finds, meal plans and other goodies of the sort
    • Recipes and "un" recipes
    • My ups and downs as a new vegan.
    • Cookbook Love -- cookbooks I love and why
    • Kitchen Friends -- things that are the next best thing to having your best friend in the kitchen with you
    • Animal stories -- cause I love my cats and dogs
    • Links -- links to sites, recipes and other things I run across that I love
    • More -- I leave this option open so I can post whatever makes me happy.

    All Tales Begin Somewhere

    All tales begin somewhere and this one begins here in a small village on the coast of North Carolina.  A woman, who for health's sake believes that a vegan diet is the best plan for her life, finds herself overloaded with fabulous vegan cookbooks full of ingredients she can't find without traveling for hours. 

    She knows her new diet is supposed to be kinder to her body, kinder to animals and overall kinder to the planet.  She quickly learns that ideally she'd grow all her own food, but reality is what it is....and that just isn't happening.  So now she's left with two choices --

    Does she throw her hands up in the air and give up her new convictions?
    Does she chose the lesser of two evils and figure out how to make the best of her options?

    She wrestles with the online voices that bemoan the evils of Walmart  knowing that it is the most likely source for the widest variety of foods for her and her family.  Finally she decides that a stand, no matter how small, is still a stand and from here on out she will be called

    The Walmart Vegan.