VeganMoFo Day 7: Baagan Restaurant in San Ramon, California

After hustling around the house all morning, my husband and I took an hour and a half drive to check out a Potential New Project. After the Potential New Project was promoted to For Sure New Project, we zoomed off with it loaded in the back of our truck and drove for another hour and a half toward home. We also stopped a couple of places to acquire supplies while I tried my hand at being an impromptu sportscaster for someone unable to watch the 49ers-Cowboys game. 

When we got home, we caught the end of the game, I did my Sports Wrap Up for my devoted audience of one, and we got to work scrubbing and sanding and constructing and carpeting. Yes, carpeting. It’s a doozy of a project, but we’ll save those details for another day. It was getting dark when we called it a night, and I’m plumb tuckered out tonight, MoFo-ers. What a day. What a week!

One thing that we don’t really have in our neck of the woods is convenient restaurant options. Eating out is always a special treat for us because it’s so rare that it happens. But today, travel took us to places afar. In addition to acquiring the For Sure New Project in yonder Bay Area, we were fortunate enough to have time to stop and check out a new restaurant along the way. While planning our day, we’d discovered this new vegan place had recently opened in San Ramon. We decided to make a well-deserved stop there to refuel our tanks.

I loved the change of pace and the personality of the place, a restaurant called Baagan, which was nestled into a busy little shopping center on San Ramon Valley Boulevard.

Baagan

http://www.baagan.com

Baagan opened in San Ramon last month. They already have a well-liked restaurant in Roseville and a reputation for great food. Reviews on Yelp were a bit mixed primarily because the shop has only been open for a few weeks and is still finessing some aspects of the business. We knew we’d be getting great vegan food, but we weren’t sure what to expect beyond that.

BaaganFrom the start, Baagan’s unique atmosphere and menu surprised us. The woman that met us at the counter was friendly and knowledgeable. She recommended some menu options for us and struck up a conversation with me about my Animal Place t-shirt. After we placed our orders, another employee also asked us how we were and engaged us in friendly conversation.

Baagan

The atmosphere is different from other restaurants. Someone in a review labeled the décor as stark, but that’s the wrong word. It’s clean. The walls are painted with fresh colors and very little art is on the walls. Most of the tables are white squares with glass tops and the vinyl and metal chairs have clean lines. The overall atmosphere feels welcoming and calming.

The food served at Baagan is organic, non-gmo, and soy-free. Many of the menu items are also gluten free, but be sure to check with the staff to be certain that you choose well for your specific dietary needs.

In addition to teas and smoothies (and, yes, the smoothies are pricey, but I’ve read they’re excellent), there is self-serve filtered water available. You can choose to dine in or eat out. Either way, prepared food is delivered to a pick up window and the customer picks up his or her own order and brings it to the table. When finished, customers clear their own tables. Although some may find that unusual, it felt appropriate to the atmosphere and allowed us to leisurely eat and chat without pressure from a wait staff.

Baagan

Baagan: Eat the Way Nature Intended

We ordered the Baagan Veggie Burger and the Grilled Veggie Quesadilla. The food arrives on large square plates without adornment. Displayed this way, the food feels like a showpiece, a piece of art to relish and enjoy. It didn’t seem like very much food, but the plates are large and the food is filling and excellent.

Baagan

The Baagan Veggie Burger is made on site from sprouted chana beans and fresh veggies. The taste is subtly spicy. It’s very tender and easy to eat, almost melting in your mouth. The flavor is excellent and even the bun was toasted just enough to add texture without drying out the bread. 

Baagan

I was worried that after the burger the quesadillas would be a letdown. They looked so simple on the plate; I couldn’t imagine they’d be as satisfying as the burger. Boy, was I wrong.

Quesidillas and salad

The quesadillas are spicy and filled with yummy sliced veggies. Both my husband and I devoured them along with the salad that accompanied them. Although we’d intended to try the vegan cheesecake, we we’re too full when we were done. We’ll definitely get that next time! I know we’ll be going back soon.

Baagan

San Ramon is out of the way for us, but Baagan has the most incredible hours I’ve seen in a long time. They’re open Monday thru Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s probably a good thing it is out of the way for me. If I lived too close, I’d be there at some point every day. If you live in the area, make time to check it out. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

There’s a cool breeze scooting through my room and I keep creeping closer to my bed. I’m on the floor with my rabbit girl right now. Once she’s done proofreading this, I’m hoping we’ll hop into our beds and sail off to sleep. Tomorrow we welcome week two of VeganMoFo. It’s also a work and school night, and everyone from bloggers to bunnies needs to rest up for next week’s adventures, whatever they may be.

So, sleep well, MoFo-ers. Happy Sunday. May we all dream happy dreams tonight. Good night.

VeganMoFo Day 6: Mom’s Skillet S’getti and Quinoa Meatballs

Soooo… if you receive my blog as an email, you may have noticed I made a ginormous grammar gaffe in the first paragraph. I could pretend it didn’t happen since it was fixed online seconds after the post was published, but (grrr) I hate it when I do that. I made a correction that required changing other words, then I corrected that, and then I missed something else in my rush to post before the clock struck midnight and POOF! my computer turned into a pumpkin. In my haste, well… Fooey!

First thing this morning, I resolved to manage my time better. Mere moments later, it was 5 p.m. Bizarre! What in the world caused this inconvenient and poorly scheduled time warp? I’m an information sponge with a powerful research drive. Sure, I needed to be cooking, but… Oh, Google…

I expected to find something amusing, perhaps something very Rod Sterling-esque, to reassure and entertain me. What I found intrigued me enough to want to share it with all of you. So I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled post for a moment to give you a dose of SCIENCE.

Oooohhhhh!

In 2012, scientists Melanie Rudd and Jennifer Aaker of Stanford University Graduate School of Business and Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management performed a set of experiments to test the result of observing or recalling an awe-inspiring experience versus a happy experience. They asked participants a series of questions to determine the impact of these images and recollections. They discovered that participants who experienced awe experienced an increased sense of well being. They also concluded that the experience of awe changes a person’s view of time by slowing it down and making it seem more abundant. The awe group indicated they were more willing to donate their time and felt they had more time available to them.

These studies suggest that if a person chooses to participate in and witness events that fill them with a sense of awe, that person’s perception of time will be altered, making time feel more plentiful and usable, and thus create a greater sense of fulfillment, happiness, and potential in life.

This conclusion definitely has me thinking. Too frequently, we pass by awe-inspiring experiences in our haste to get everything done in a shrinking amount of time. If taking the time to drink in the awe-inspiring opportunities around us allows us to feel as though we have more time, imagine how much richer, calmer, and happier our lives can be.

So, I’m challenging all of you out there to seek awe-inspiring visions and experiences this coming week along with me. They’re out there. We just have to choose to recognize them.

Aaaaaannnndddd now, back to our regularly schedule VeganMoFo post!

I’ve been thinking about my childhood a lot as I’ve been doing MoFo this year. My mom made family cookbooks for my brother and I several years ago before either of us were vegan. I pull mine out sometimes and experiment with ingredients to veganize our old favorites. One I hadn’t played with was my mom’s skillet spaghetti recipe. I was charmed once again by her note on the recipe, which reads:

 “My first recipe. Got it off the back of a bottle of Whirl Cooking Oil back in 1963 in Ohio. And, yes, after walking a mile to the store and back in the snow! Grandpa was already in California and Grandma was working and very appreciative of my first fumbling attempts to cook.”

I’ve been craving pasta and decided tonight was the night to give it a whirl and recreate a vegan version of a favorite staple from my childhood dinner table.

Mom's S'getti

Mom’s Skillet Spaghetti Sauce

  •  1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup TVP
  • 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • ½ cup to 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Sauté your onions in a skillet with olive oil. Add your remaining ingredients and stir well. Simmer spaghetti sauce at low to medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Add water if needed for the sauce to achieve the consistency you desire.

Mom always put meatballs in her spaghetti, so it was imperative that I recreate those, too. I’ve developed an aversion to certain “meaty” textures since becoming a vegan. Meatballs top the list of things that can creep me out if they mimic the non-vegan texture too closely. I’ve been trying to develop something protein-dense and unexpected, and I keep getting closer. Today, being a bit bored with veggie crumbles as of late, I decided to experiment a little and use quinoa.

By the way, quinoa is a grain that is deserving of our awe. I cup cooked quinoa packs in 24 grams of protein. Quinoa’s vitamin E, foliate, B vitamins, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and bit of calcium make it even more awe-some!

Quinoa

Feel the awe. Guess what? All of you probably just got an extra ten minutes in your day. Woo hoo!

Quinoa and Shitake Mushroom Meatballs

  •  2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3.2 oz. package of shitake mushrooms, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • ¼ – ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup vegan mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons hot water (more may be needed to improve binding)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Cook enough quinoa for two cups cooked quinoa and allow to cool.

In a skillet, sauté the onion and garlic until the onion softens.

Meatball Mixture

In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, onion, and garlic. Add the almond milk, panko, and oats, and stir well. Finally, add the remaining ingredients and stir until completely mixed.

Form the mixture into balls about 1-½ inches in diameter and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake them for 20 minutes. Turn carefully and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until browned.

Meatballs

Heat olive oil in a skillet and, when hot, add the meatballs. Gently sauté the meatballs. I did this step to give the exterior of the meatballs a bit more of a “shell” so they could hold up better in the sauce.

Many of the meatballs did fine in this step, but I definitely saw some quitters in the mix. I think that doubling the flax/water mixture will correct this issue.

Meatballs and Quitters

Quinoa meatballs fraternizing with some quitters in the skillet.

After the meatballs are nicely browned, gently place them into the sauce, stirring carefully.

Serve them over hot cooked pasta and there you have my snow-free attempt at Mom’s spaghetti. I served ours with a quickly tossed salad and garlic bread. (Almost) just like Mom’s spaghetti meal!

Dinner

The meatballs, however, were very different from the ones I remember and a denser vegan meatball may be better suited for more enthusiastic sauce dunking and spaghetti twirling. Still, these are flavor-packed protein balls that evaporated almost as soon as they were put on the table. They’re the most popular vegan meatballs I’ve made so far, so I’ll definitely be making them again.

Mom's Spaghetti

Tomorrow, I’ll be on a drive with my husband because we have too many ideas and an overabundance of enthusiasm and self confidence and we just NEED another project. You can bet I’ll be on the lookout for the awe! (Not the awww, mind you. The AWE!) It’s gonna be a busy, busy day. But I’m not worried; I’m sure I’ll have time to give you a MoFo-tacular post.

With a head and heart filled with awe, I’ll have all the time in the world!

VeganMoFo Day 5: Soyrizo Tacos, Mexican-Style Veggies, and Grilled Corn

I had a low-key meal planned for tonight, but my day got out of hand. You’d think that when everything started going a bit haywire, my easy meal plan would be even more perfect to me. “Go with the plan!” should’ve been ringing in my ears. “Keep your eye on the ball!” “Focus!”

I don’t play that way.

So, when my car’s transmission decided to act up at one of my least favorite places on I-5 today, locking me in the middle of a five lane highway on which, apparently, no one was in the lane they wanted to be in and, oh, pretty much everyone needed to go 75 while my car locked me in at 50 with the rpms dangerously close to the area I was told meant, “Self destruct sequence commencing,” I stopped singing along with the music and started fretting.

As much as I love my car, I wasn’t thrilled about pulling off in some weird place in a skirt and heels to check my transmission fluid. Plus, I had no idea what I was doing after checking the fluids. I knew it was the transmission, and I also knew that if I couldn’t see the answer by myself right then, I probably didn’t want to know the answer anyway. 

I didn’t see anything.

Filled with trepidation, I started her up and… she drove like a pro the rest of the day, reminding me of the time when I brought my son to the pediatrician because he’d been limping. When the doctor told my son to walk down the hall so he could evaluate this terrible limp I’d described, my son obliged by skipping gleefully down the hall, turning around, and running back with a big grin on his face.

Well, that was a little embarrassing.

The limping thing never happened again. I never did find out what was going on with my son before the miracle stroll down the doctor’s office corridor, but I was thankful. I’m really hoping for a similar experience with my car.

The rest of my day was fueled by the flood of adrenaline created by the woosh-wooshing of cars roaring past me. So did I stick with an easy dinner? Naw. I decided I wanted a bit of fiesta time!

I also decided I didn’t want to make the tacos I normally make, so I made the Vegan Chorizo and Potato Tacos from http://www.peta.org/living/food/definitive-list-vegan-taco-recipes/

Soyrizosoyrizo tacos

I followed the recipe pretty exactly for a change, but it really didn’t seem to require any tinkering. We used taco shells instead of tortillas and topped them with sour cream and avocado. They were pretty amazing. But tacos do not a fiesta make. We still needed a side dish! More veggies!

Mexican-Style Veggies

  • 1 medium onion
, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
, minced
  • 4 medium zucchini squash, sliced
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • 
1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pickled jalapeño , chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro paste
  • juice from one lime
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil until fragrant. Add zucchini and red pepper and sauté for about 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat and add tomato, jalapeño, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix all ingredients together and serve warm.

Veggies

But that’s not all! I did say a fiesta, right? And who came to the party? None other than:

Grilled Corn

  • 5 corn on the cob, husks removed
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • ½ cup Vegenaise
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Vegan Monterey Jack cheese, cut into thin slices and chopped
  • salt and pepper

I boiled salted water in a very large pot and add the husked corn. After they’d boiled for about ten minutes, I removed the corn and preheated my grill. This part made me a little nervous, but I wanted the corn to have some charring, so I placed it directly on the grill and grilled it for 5-10 minutes, turning frequently so it wouldn’t stick to the grill. The objective was to brown some of the kernels without truly burning them. When I was happy with the amount of browning, I took them off the grill.

Grilling Corn

Inside again, I whisked together Vegenaise, lime juice, Sriracha, and smoked paprika and brushed it on the corn, turning the corn to cover all sides thoroughly. Then I brushed on the melted Earth Balance and continued to alternate the Vegenaise mixture and the butter mixture until the corn was thoroughly coated. Finally, I sprinkled them with salt and fresh ground pepper and put a few slices of vegan Monterey Jack cheese on each piece. I served it all with some fresh sliced watermelon and ta-da!

Fiesta!

Grilled Corn

The good news is that dinner was fabulous. The tacos were a nice change in texture and taste from our old standby. I don’t use Soyrizo very often, but it made the tacos crazy easy. I think I’ll have to see what else I can find for quick and easy spicy foods.

The veggies were good, but the corn is what really made the party. It was worth the effort of the barbeque and I’m even going to forgive it for making me boil water in my kitchen while it was 90 degrees outside. Now that I’m thinking about the corn again, I’m remembering how we were short one person at dinner. I may go steal their ear of corn and it eat before they ever know it was here. That’s how good it was!

IMG_0988

But, then again, I may be all fiesta-d out. Halfway through dinner, my adrenaline springs ran dry. Fiesta time is going to soon be turning into siesta time, and that’s a good thing. I’m planning to dream happy dreams, and my husband promised to give my car a check up and check her vitals tomorrow. I’m hoping she takes a page out of my son’s book and runs like a champ while I shrug and say, “Well, no, really, that’s not how it was yesterday” and my husband chuckles.

 Then I’ll put her top down and go cruising through the parched California hills, blaring music and singing, and come home and cook that sedate dinner that I’d planned on making tonight.

Taco MealMaybe.

VeganMoFo Day 4: Creamy Chocolate Berry Bowls

Last night when it became clear we had plenty of leftovers for dinner tonight, my husband suggested that I make a dessert to post for VeganMoFo today. He’d stumbled on these cute little chocolate bowls that had surprised him with a vegan ingredients list a few weeks ago. He bought them knowing they could be used for some kind of goody.IMG_0881They’d been sitting in the pantry just waiting for something as spectacular as they are to embrace with their chocolaty goodness.

The back of the box suggested mousse as a filling, but I was kind of attached to the idea of cheesecake. In the end, I figured I could do a mixture of both. I glanced over a few recipes and decided I had this in the bag.

And then, suddenly… not so much.

They say patience is a virtue, but did you ever notice that no one says the same thing about tenacity? Interesting, isn’t it? Determination seems like a good thing, but if you’ve ever seen a woman hoist her hand mixer skyward and yell, “Noooooo!” you might know why. It’s possible that people in the house saw such a scene this evening. They are all male and were occupied with other things, though. This means it’s equally possible they saw nothing at all.

You see, the first recipe I tried was simple enough. It called for full fat coconut milk with no guar gum. I’ve had varied success with my ice cream making and know how big a deal the right coconut milk is. Unfortunately, it’s not something that is easily found anywhere near my house. But with the kind of cockiness that can only come from anticipating chocolate right after dinner, I plowed forward anyway. I could give you the long version, but it’s a very sad story and I don’t know if you have any chocolate to get you through the telling.

I was determined to find something I already had in the house, anything at all, that I could use to make my dessert. This might have been when the hand mixer was hoisted to the sky, lightning crackled above me, the clouds converged and darkened, and a distant roll of thunder shook the house. Naysayers will tell you it was simply sundown and the roar of the crowd at the Green Bay/Seahawks game on the television.

Naysayers are such buzzkills, aren’t they?

And so, our heroine (that’s me!) tried again. I traveled through the jungles of Google and met my wise and helpful guide, a website called wakingupvegan.com wherein the recipe for vegan whipping cream that would make everything right in the world was revealed to me. You may see it for yourself here: http://wakingupvegan.com/2012/09/10/make-homeade-vega-whipped-cream/

I used the Coconut Free Version, sprinkling in a bit of my own magic.

Vegan Whipping Cream

  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons agar agar powder
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch

Blend all ingredients on high in the blender for about 3 minutes, then put your mixture in the fridge to chill. It’s that easy!

The result was very good, but it was an imperfect solution for this particular application. The cream was a bit thinner than I’d anticipated, but it tasted just as I’d hoped it would. I’ll be sure to post what I use when I achieve creamy whipped perfection. For now, this recipe is sweet and very tasty, so it seemed to have good potential for the rest of my dessert plan.

If there were Ewoks in this story, they might be hearing my battle stories from C-3PO right now.

Thumper!

Ewok?

With that drama behind us, we may now move on to the fun n’ fruity part!

Fruit Sauce

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • juice from one lemon
  • 2 cups mixed berries

Berries

Heat the frozen strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a boil. Lower the heat and stir pretty much constantly for about ten minutes or until a syrup forms. Let cool for a few minutes, then toss with the rest of the berries and chill.

Mousse

  • 8 ounces vegan cream cheese
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan whipping cream

Mix all ingredients with your blender until smooth. Fill your chocolate cups and chill for an hour or so. When you’re ready to serve them, spoon the berry sauce over them, drizzle them with a tiny bit more of the mousse, and celebrate!

Chocolate berries

 For everyone waiting for the end of the movie, this is where the Ewoks dance and sing songs of celebration and everyone enjoys a well-earned feast! The Creamy Chocolate Berry Bowls were messy but decadent. We only had one box of the chocolate bowls, so we still have about half the berries and cream chilling for a special breakfast treat tomorrow, too.

Berry Chocolate

Hurray! And, as the Ewoks would say, “Allay loo ta nub!” (which, if you aren’t a big Star Wars nerd, means “Celebrate the love!”) and enjoy your dessert!

VeganMoFo Day 3: Sizzling Seitan Summer Salad

I have a confession to make. The first time I attempted to make seitan, I didn’t understand the difference between wheat flour and gluten flour. Somewhere in my mind, “wheat meat” and “flour” merged into “wheat flour,” so that’s what I used. The result was that my first batch of seitan was spectacularly disappointing. It was like gnawing on old shoe rubber. It was breaded and served with gravy, but still. It was shoe rubber.

It took some time for me to believe that actual humans could make seitan. My brother would talk about how great my sister-in-law’s seitan was, and I would hum uncomfortably and stare out the window. Hadn’t we grown up eating the same kinds of foods? My mom is a great cook. Shouldn’t my brother’s palate have been trained like mine? Why did my brother like shoe rubber so much?

Frankly, it was a bit mind-boggling.

Fast-forward a few months. I found the courage to mumble to my sister-in-law about how my seitan was eaten only by grim-faced family members who I believed secretly thought I should sell my recipe to a popular running shoe manufacturer. She kindly told me that it took a while to get the hang of it and suggested I try different recipes. This was good advice. I studied recipes and read more about gluten. The first time I made decent seitan, I was awash with relief regarding my brother’s gustatory perception. We do still like the same foods! Seitan’s great! It can be a bit labor intensive, but when you get it right, it’s pretty rock and roll!

Now we fast-forward to this morning. I woke up pretty much/more or less/kinda sorta/mostly okay. I wasn’t quite 100%, but I could just tell that yesterday’s cookies had helped me kick that summer virus. I figured that positive thinking could take me the rest of the way to well. Rock and Roll is my middle name! Seitan for dinner it is!

I planned to use Isa’s recipe for seitan, which you can find here: http://www.theppk.com/2014/02/chicken-stylee-seitan/ However, due to some grocery related difficulties, I had to punt a bit. Fortunately, I’m used to it. Living where we do, I’ve developed pretty strong punting skills. It’s true; there really are areas of California in which people still scratch their heads at the word “vegan.”

I try to feed many of those people cupcakes and cookies as often as I can. But I digress…

 Without further ado, I bring you

Sizzling Summer Seitan Salad

ingredients

Seitan

(recipe makes about 2 pounds of seitan)

 Broth for cooking seitan

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 5-8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

Bring the ingredients to a boil in a large pot, then lower the heat until the liquid is simmering. Do not allow it to come to a boil again. This is important to the texture of your finished seitan.

Seitan

  • 2 cups vital wheat gluten
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

In a very large bowl, whisk the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, whole wheat flour, onion powder, dried sage, and salt in a large bowl. Add the broth, soy sauce, and olive oil.

Mix everything with a spoon for just a minute. It will start to kind of clump up very quickly. Once this happens, knead the dough until you have incorporated all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. It may seem like you have too much dry, but just keep kneading. Eventually, it will all form a ball with very little left in the bowl that isn’t part of the dough ball.

Dough ball

Cut the ball into eight pieces. Press each dough piece into a flat, semi-smooth cutlet shape. It’s very springy; so just do your best to make the pieces flat and even. They don’t have to be especially thin, but do keep in mind that they will expand when you cook them. If you are making the recipe for skewers, you want them to be a little dense.Cutlets

Place the dough into the broth one by one. Cover the broth, but allow a bit of space between the lid and the pot. Being careful not to allow the broth to boil, simmer the seitan for about 45 minutes. Use tongs to move the seitan around at least once halfway through the cooking. Allow to cool in the broth.

Next, it’s time for marinade!

But first, a quick story.

We had a tangelo tree in our backyard when I was a kid. It produced what seemed like a hundred thousand tangelos each year. No one family could eat that many tangelos. We gave them away in paper grocery bags to anyone who would take them or, better yet, anyone who was too busy to notice we’d just plopped a bag loaded with about 40 tangelos beside them and then quietly slunk away.

I hadn’t had a tangelo in years, but my husband brought some home the other day. They’re sweet and tangy and, as it turns out, inspiring, too!

And now, back to our marinade!

Sizzling Seitan Skewers Marinade

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1-½ tablespoons chiles in adobo, chopped (These come in a can. I freeze the rest in a flattened baggy and break off what I need when I want to use them.)

Whisk ingredients together and add the cooked seitan. Allow to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of an hour, turning at least once.

Marinating

After marinating the seitan, cut each piece into 4 pieces.

To make the skewers, I slid button mushrooms, tomatoes, and the seitan on each skewer, then brushed them all with the extra marinade. You can use whatever you like. Improvise! It’ll be fun.

Barbeque the skewers over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side, brushing the skewers frequently with the extra marinade.

BBQ

I served ours with salad made with chopped avocado, chopped green onions, spinach, arugula, sunflower seeds, golden raisins, craisins, black rice, and (dun-da- dun-na) chopped tangelos! I also put out salt, pepper, and some vegan salad dressings. Everyone assembled their own salad and ate like royalty.

Salad

All of it makes for a very hearty meal that filled everyone’s bellies ‘til they couldn’t eat any more. There were only three of us, but we easily had enough for six.

Salad

Seitan and tangelos! Together they made a hearty meal flavored with citrusy sweet childhood memories, and how great is that?

VeganMoFo Day 2: Flu Fighter + Fall + Fruit + Cookies = Fookies!

I have an untamed sweet tooth. I’ve learned that in some of life’s darker moments, strength can be found in a bag of Skittles and a smoothie. Many moons ago, the best cure for my morning sickness was a cherry Slurpee. So it isn’t a surprise to anyone around here that a summer flu necessitates cookies consumption.

“But,” you say, “where in the world will you find a cookie that’s good for the flu?”

Well, I had that very same question. Fortunately, my good friend Google came to the rescue. When I typed in “Flu Cookie Recipe,” my reward was:

Flu-Fighter Cookies!

That’s right! You, too, can eat cookies and combat the flu!

SupermanWell, in all fairness, the idea is that the cookies have things like ginger, cranberries, and yogurt that have immune boosting qualities. By the time you have the flu, it may be a bit late for those ingredients to do their work. This means it’s quite likely that the best solution is to eat these (and other) cookies all the time.

 Google, my friend, where would the world be without you?

 The recipe I used was modified just a bit from the Food Network recipe for Flu Fighter Cookies. They’re so good that it would be a disservice to cookies everywhere if we were to focus only on their flu fighting qualities. They smell like fall, require dried fruit, and combat the flu, so I’m calling them Fookies!

cookie ingredients

 Fookies: The Flu Fighting Cookies

recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies

  •  2-¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup Earth Balance
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tablespoons hot water
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup vegan vanilla yogurt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • 1 heaping cup golden raisins (divided)
  • 1 heaping cup craisins (divided)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

You’ll be preheating your oven to 375, but don’t worry about that quite yet.

Take your vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance) out and put it on the counter to soften it. Whisk together the ground flaxseed and water. Line two cookie pans with parchment paper. Now, grab two large bowls, one smaller bowl, your mixer, measuring cups and spoons, a rubber spatula, and, if you’re sick, start thinking about someone in the room who is strong and sympathetic. Anyone who owes you a favor or is easily wooed by flu-born crankiness and a pasty complexion will be perfect.

In bowl number one, mix together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In bowl number two, beat the butter and brown sugar until it is completely blended. Take your bowl of whisked flax and water and add it, then mix until blended. Now add the molasses, vegan yogurt, ginger, and lemon zest and mix all of this until it is a uniform consistency.

Mix the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, adding the dry to the wet about a ½ cup at a time. It will start to become a pretty dense batter by the end. This is where you grab a sturdy mixing spoon and either harness your super powers or entice someone special into stirring in the last few ingredients.

Fold in the oats first. Then add ½ cup craisins, ½ cup golden raisins, and the walnuts. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ½ cup craisins and ½ cup golden raisins. Set aside.

At this point, the batter will look like fall and remind you that soon, despite what it feels and looks like, it won’t be in the 90s every day in California.

Put the batter into the refrigerator to chill. Now is the time to preheat your oven and eat the rest of that container of vegan vanilla yogurt while thinking happy thoughts about the four remaining months of 2014.

After ten minutes, take the batter out of the fridge and use a tablespoon to measure and drop the cookie batter onto the parchment paper. Press fruit from the craisins/raisins bowl on top of each cookie.

cookies

 Bake the cookies about 12 minutes. They are soft cookies, so be careful not to overcook them.

 Now if anyone asks you what vegans eat when they’re sick, you have the answer.  We eat cookies!

cookies cooling

Prop your feet up, pour yourself some ginger ale, and savor your cookies and the balmy end of summer weather because none of it will last: not this moment, the weather, the flu (thank goodness!),

Fookies! and certainly not these cookies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello VeganMoFo 2014! Take a Seat and Let’s Have Some Soup!

Hey, MoFo-ers and all you hungry people! It’s good to see you again! How’ve you been? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? And now, here we are and here we go!

Chef MoFo!

I’ll be pantsing it once again this MoFo because cooking and writing about cooking should be spontaneous and fun! Plus, I didn’t remember VeganMoFo was in September now until a few days ago. I like to think I’d choose spontaneity anyway. Unfortunately, today I was reminded that even the best un-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men often go awry.

Now, do you hear something? Kinda faintly playing in the background? Listen closely and you’ll hear them. Yes, there they are. Tiny violins playing just for me. I’m afraid it’s true.

It’s day one of MoFo, but it’s day two of a summer virus!

Boo! Hiss!

I know, I know. It’s dreadful, really. And I could tell you all about the super fun road trip I missed today that would have taken me out to the middle of nowhere to check out an old car that’s been baking in the desert sun for years. I should note here that I love both the desert and curious old cars. Therefore, bah! Such a bummer. At least they sent pictures.

And such is life. Sometimes you’re the picture-sender, sometimes you’re the bummed out picture-sendee.

So what’s a girl to do when life hands her a lonely (tiny violins) day of sickness? She thanks her lucky stars that Vegan MoFo is here to motivate her and she makes delicious soup!

Ahhh, but of course!

Feel Better! Noodle Soup

Serves 4-6

  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh ginger (grated on a microplane grater)
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups (appx) baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 baby bok choy, chopped
  • 4 baby bell peppers in bright colors, sliced
  • 1 package extra-firm tofu, cut in half, then cut into cubes
  • 1 bundle green onions, chopped
  • 1 carton vegetable broth
  • 1 packet instant Miso soup (mine was made by Mishima Foods)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package Udon noodles
  • Sriracha and Soy Sauce for serving

To begin, chop your onion, mince your garlic, and grate your ginger. Slice your carrots into coins. If you’re sick enough to want some carrot love, but not so sick that friends and family are concerned about your knife handling skills, you can cut your carrots into hearts.

Lovely, heart-shaped carrots

Aww… Carrot Love.

Dontcha just heart them so much?

I saw this done recently and felt it was time to put my Cub Scout Whittling Chip knowledge to work. Using a paring knife, I cut a v-shaped wedge out of the carrot. Then I used my vegetable scraper to create the other edges. It’s really rather easy. Then again, if, like me, you’ve ever been a Cub Scout leader and helped about twenty 9-year-olds armed with shiny, new pocketknives learn how to whittle by carving bars of soap into bears while on an overnight camping trip, well… At least I can assure you it’s easier than that.

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute in oil until fragrant. Mmm, heavenly.

Add your carton of vegetable broth and the carrots. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

I boiled my noodles separately, so this is when I put them on. Follow the directions on the package and drain them according to those directions.

Measure out 2/3 cup of water and heat until boiling. Add miso soup packet and whisk together.

Most of the carrots end up at the top of the strainer.

Use a strainer to strain the broth into another pot or heat-safe bowl. Return the broth to the original pot and add the mushrooms, bok choy, bell peppers, tofu, green onions, and miso soup mix.

The majority of your carrots should be at the top of the strainer. Scoop them back into the pot. No need to be too careful. The goal is to mostly put the carrots back and mostly leave the onion, garlic, and ginger out in order to keep the broth clearer.

Simmer together for about 5 minutes, then add drained noodles

Add sriracha and soy sauce to taste.

Super yummy. Happy tummy. Sleepy chef.

Here’s to good health, happiness, compassion, kindness, and a fun 2014 VeganMoFo adventure for us all!

Cheers!