Friday, February 29, 2008

There were bells on the hill, but I never heard them ringing...

This line comes to mind as I sit on my couch, craving cake and cookies, and thinking about the photos I should be putting up here. Photos from meals in the past week or so, photos of delicious sandwiches, seitan cutlets with red wine roux and rice pilaf, even mediocre-seeming pastas that I now feel I so took for granted. Let me explain. It won't take long.

After twenty-two years of mysteriously bad health, and nine months of terrible digestive problems (all of the doctors and the dietician decided it must be IBS, because, as a 22 year-old vegan, I just "shouldn't" be experiencing this), I was told at the doctor's yesterday that it just might be celiac disease - try not eating ANY grains for the next 2-3 weeks and see if you feel better. After going home and researching it, I actually feel a bit pissed at the whole medical profession for not having come up with this explanation earlier. The long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms perfectly describe the bizarre health issues I've always had, right down to my lack of tooth enamel (just in case you were curious about my teeth).

So yeah. I would post all my backed up, beautiful, delicious pictures, and I should, but on Day 2 (only Day 2!) of grainlessness, I'm more than a little bitter. Trolling the food blogs is not helping.

I'm going to go eat some potato soup now!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More catch-up

Another Bikram morning. This means, of course, an insatiable appetite all afternoon, so there will be a lot of food porn.
Some recent meals...
A feast of delicious beige! Leftover chickpea cutlet my new favorite sustitute for mashed potatoes - caulifower, steamed then pureed with a little soymilk and nooch, natch.
This was my dinner on Monday, another Bikram day, which meant I was stuffing my face constantly, and was still starving for dinner by 4:30, when I wolfed this down.
Followed by this...
This is from the frozen remains of my delicious birthday cheesecake. My mom veganized my grandma's amazing recipe for me - best birthday cake ever. Originally it was served with homemade raspberry sauce, but I just topped it with organic chocolate sauce. Mmmmm. I'm hoping to have the recipe up on the next blog.

And just for shits and giggles, yesterday's breakfast: a berry/spinach smoothie with flax.
Usually these turn out grey and swampy, but I thought this was actually quite pretty next to the flowers, served in J's beer glass for your viewing pleasure.

And finally, my lunch today, consumed about an hour ago.
This salad is sort of a long story. So, on Monday evening I was planning on making the lentil salad from Vcon, to keep in the fridge for lunches this week. However, I only had red lentils, but presumptuously assumed that these would be fine in the recipe. So, as they're simmering away in the homemade veggie broth that had taken almost two hours to make, I'm mincing up onions, radish, celery and carrots in preparation for the lentils. I pour the finished lentils into a sieve and tap-tap-tap, they turn to yellow mush. I just stared at them, aghast for a minute, then my food failure adrenaline kicked in. I dumped in some bread crumbs and flaxmeal, made two big patties, and tossed them in a skillet to brown. Voila! Two beautiful lentil patties that can still be lunch next week. Then I look at the bowl of veggies on the counter, still awaiting their legumes. Not one to waste food, I dash over to Albertsons (not my usual store, but it's a block away and I didn't want to drive to the health food store) to pick up some chickpeas. Another bad call. A can of regular, non-organic, chemically-infused chickpeas are $1.30. $1.30, people! I usually by organic for MAYBE .90. In my supermarket rage, I refuse to give them the extra forty cents for inferior beans, and instead go straight back home to just put pasta in the salad. And when I walk in the door, the lentil patties are gone. J is on the couch, eating the last one (after he had already eaten the baked tofu dinner I made him). So now, it's just me and the salad. Grumpy, I make some whole wheat rotelle, whisk up some vinagrette, dump them in a bowl, then console myself with the aforementioned cheesecake and season 1 of Sex & the City. Long story short, this is that salad (with the addition of .90 ORGANIC chickpeas that I picked up after bikram). It was good, but in my usual fashion, I sort of picked out the pasta and veggies and ignored the chickpeas. Yes, after all that trouble. But the truth is...I don't really like chickpeas. Don't get me wrong! I love them in cutlet and hummus form, but by themselves, I think they taste kind of like farts.
That said, I then dug into this, after perusing way-too-appetizing vegblogs.Photobucket
That would be the last third of a pint of Vanilla Rice Dream, with chocolate sauce poured in and eaten directly out of the carton. I'm sorry, did you mistake me for someone with class?
Tonight, since J and I actually get an hour to eat together, I'm thinking about making fatfreevegan's sweet & sour baked seitan, but with frozen tofu. Looking forward to it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Is it me, or the computer?? I blame the computer...

Obviously, my pics are still not coming out right. They are all cut pretty much in half. But at least they're in the body of the blog! I'll keep workin on it...

Catch up

Just got home from my first Bikram yoga class in a month! Not as grueling as I expected - just grueling enough. For those of you who don't know, Bikram is also known as "hot room yoga." It's a 90 minute class, a series of 26 asanas (poses) in a room that is heated to about 105 degrees. With it being a national holiday, the morning class was the most crowded I've ever been in - about thirty people - and that really increases the temperature. The idea is that the heat relaxes your muscles and increases flexibility, while detoxifying your body through sweat. Which you do. A lot. Seriously, by a half-hour into class, I'm like a seal.

Anyway, thought I'd catch up on a few meals, including .... dun dun DUN, my first trip to Whole Foods! I know, "how is that possible?" you say. But the nearest whole foods is about 40 minutes away, and I knew how expensive it is. Plus, I'm still sort of conflicted about it, ethically. From what I gather, it's sort of the foodie equivalent of WalMart. I recently read a fantastic book, "Omnivore's Dilemna," and a fifth of the book is devoted to investigating the industry of organic foods, specifically Whole Foods. The conclusion the author draws seems to basically be that, yeah, you can get organic asparagus in November, but it's shipped from Argentina and leaves a hell of a carbon footprint.

But this little excursion was not for my own shopping needs, but rather, it was the umpteenth round of my 22nd birthday celebrations. One of my best friends, a fellow veggie, knew I'd never been, so she took me to dinner at the buffet. As cheezy (haha, cheese...cuz we're vegan...oh, nevermind) as that may sound, it was awesome. And I have never seen so many different kinds of soymilk in one place! Some random guy even tried to pick us up in the faux meat aisle. He didn't seem to understand that the way to our hearts would not be by telling us about how he USED to be a raw vegan, but now eats meat. It was very awkward, and I kept staring at the Yves Sausage in an attempt to indicate that this was NOT going to happen. But he was tough to shake.

But despite this, we had a lovely dinner, pictured here.
My plate above includes (clockwise from the top) a green salad with vegan caesar dressing, some strawberries, multigrain tabouli, red pepper tofu salad, vegan potato salad (this stuff is the SHIT, I took home more for lunch the next day...yeah, I ate potato salad for lunch, you got a problem with that?), some barely visible sweet bulgur salad, and a totally invisible dolma. Yum. We also split a moist and delicious chocolate cake. Unfortunately, there is not picture because, well, we ate it. Immediately.

The next day, J and I were at CSU Los Angeles all day, since we were partners in an acting competition (does this seem like an oxymoron to anyone else?) for The American College Theatre Festival. We were in East LA and there was NOTHING for me to eat. But I will confess what I shame. My lunch before we left was the aforementioned potato salad, and then I had a scoop of dacquiri ice in a cone from Baskin Robbins and for dinner....McDonalds fries. I can't remember the last time I ate there. My body was SOOO not happy with me.

The next day (being yesterday) J and I started back on a healthy regime after a week of birthday food, Valentine's dinner/dessert, and nasty takeout. I finally made the Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon (which my lovely sister and her husband gave me for my birthday). I am going to include a picture of the breadcrumbs, just because I was very proud of my first homemade breadcrumbs. They are made from leftover whole wheat French bread. Here they are sitting atop the cookbook that gave them life...
I went the baking route on the cutlets (delish, btw) and served them with steamed asparagus and Vcon mustard sauce.
Our table, looking so pretty with V-Day flowers:
And the gratuitious close-up..
After forking out four bucks for a tiny jar of capers (I'm cheap and I am not ashamed!), I didn't think the sauce really needed them. I'm sure I'll be using them on Vcon Seitan Piccata in the near future. The sauce was great all the same, and went really well on the asparagus. Tonight's dinner will probably look suspiciously like this one, considering that there are leftovers in the fridge that need consuming.

I know this has been a dreadfully long post, but I want to wrap up on a sad note. Today, I came across this news article/video online, and it broke my heart. Apparently, undercover film reveals horrible cruelty to "downer" cows (cows that are crippled from disease) at a slaughterhouse in nearby Chino. The meat from this slaughterhouse supplies public school lunch programs. Subsequently, the FDA issued the largest beef recall in US history. I've included the video, for anyone who wants to see it for themselves. (Warning: this is pretty graphic and will probably upset you)

What is so upsetting to me about this is the fact that this is only one of the hundreds of slaughterhouses across the country, and do they really think this is the only place where such horrible abuse is happening? Apparently, people have to see the atrocities with their own eyes before they think about what they're eating, and even then, they just send the meat back and make it disappear so they can feel absolved or something. Does that mean that, if we put cameras in every slaughterhouse in the US, people would stop altogether? I doubt it. I don't want to sound anti-omnis, I'm really not. It's just so infuriating to me that people can see this, feel sad and sick, and then go out and grab a burger.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My first blog!

After a year (I'm a relatively new vegan) of trolling the veg blogs, mooching off the recipes of others, I have decided that it is in my karmic best interest to contribute to the vegan internet world.

#1 I am a poor, poor college student, so my recipes will not be very fancy. Neither will the ingredients. Right now I'm girding myself to buy capers since I HAVE to make the mustard sauce from Veganomicon....and the Seitan Piccata....and the myriad of other recipes that require the little buggers. My point is, my recipes will probably never contain coconut extract or saffron threads or truffle oil. Not that I don't appreciate recipes containing these items, I'd just rather spend my money on...well...toilet paper.
#2 I am computer-challenged. My monitor even has one of those giant black "cracks" in it (don't ask). Thus, it may take me a while to figure out links and tags and such things. Without the help of tech-saavy Omniguy, these things will never happen.

For those of you who are still reading this, I'll tell you a bit about myself. I just got my first apartment where I live with my boyfriend, J, (who takes great offense at such nicknames as "omniguy," so for his sake, I'll drop it), and our cat Tilly. She's still adjusting to the new pad, but she's always been a bit aloof. I am almost done with a BA in Theatre, and I commute to LA for acting work. I come from a very Republican, meat-eating, NRA card-carrying family (don't judge - my dad once said that my seitan "wasn't bad"). This makes me a bit of a black sheep where most things are concerned, but we do just fine. I think they've decided to find me quaint, and I'm okay with that.

Anyway, enough about me. I'm sure you'll learn way too much in the future.

On to my first food post. Definitely not the most attractive. But I promise, it tastes better than it looks. It's at the top...because I haven't figured out how to put it down here. I call this Chai Breakfast Cake. It's a modified version of the Chai Marathon Muffins from Vegweb (originally submitted by fiffreak99). Basically, it's a cake because I don't own a muffin tin. I halved the recipe, so I'm sure the full version would have been taller and more aesthetically pleasing. Obviously, it could have benefited from a smaller pan, but let's not be superficial, eh?

Chai Breakfast Cake

1 cup - whole wheat flour
1 cup - rolled oats
1/2 cup oat or wheat bran
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2-3/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I'm generous because I love this stuff)
2 tea bags of Chai Tea
1 cup of hot water
1-2 bananas mashed (or any other fresh fruit - apple works well)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 Tablespoon of canola oil (or applesauce, to cut the fat)

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix dry incredients while brewing one cup of chai tea with the two bags. Once dry ingredients are mixed, add the tea and the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a greased pan or muffin tin and cook for 20 minutes. Do the toothpick test after 20 minutes, and add another five or so as necessary.

So yeah, ridiculously easy, and I thought, very tasty. I'm a sucker for cinnamon and all other warm spices, so this was a winner for me. A bit dry on the outside (I'm still getting used to my "new" oven), but super moist on the inside. I kept going back for more, and J pretty much had to forcibly remove me from the cake, which is usually the indicator that a recipe is a keeper.