Monthly Archives: September 2009

Grilled Tofu Kebabs with Muhammara Slather

Tofu kebabs waiting for their Muhammara slather

I’m trying a new blogging technique: quick posts. Why? Because one is better than zero, and I’ve been hard pressed for time these past few weeks. (Who ever thought that living in the countryside would be so busy? The upshot: it’s a good sign that I’m getting some good work done.)

But back to my point: tofu kebabs. This was a first for me – Heidi’s Favorite Grilled Kabob recipe is now one of my favorites, too. The secret is in the sauce: her Muhammara “slather”, a Middle Eastern spread made with toasted walnuts and roasted red pepper (among other things), is phenomenal. I’ll let her explain:

The great thing about it (in addition to how it tastes) is that it’s multi-purpose spread, slather, sauce, dip, etc, that can deliciously accent not only kabobs, but many of your favorite dishes. Toasted walnuts round out the flavor of the beautiful red pepper base, and a rich splash of sweet pomegranate molasses lends a subtly sweet backnote to the red chiles. I suspect this is a traditional recipe that bends to the taste of the cook preparing it – my version is lighter on the cumin and red peppers than some of the other recipes you might come across. You can easily make it thicker or thinner depending on how you are going to use it.

Heidi’s kebabs consist of tofu, lemon, onion and mushrooms. For lack of mushrooms I used eggplant instead. It was super easy – just skewer the veggies, apply oil and salt, then grill. The Muhammara gets added at the end. I served the kebabs and sauce with grilled corn and whole wheat no knead bread. This is what vegan cooking is all about: good, wholesome food that’s not pretending to be anything but delicious.

Recipe: Tofu Kabobs with Muhammara Slather

Tofu kebabs with Muhammara slather

Lentil Loaf with Cashew Gravy

Lentil Loaf

Whenever I make lentils or brown rice, I always make a little extra and stash it in the freezer for this lentil loaf. My mom sent me the recipe in 2006, and since then it’s been my go-to recipe for veggie roast dinners. And with autumn quickly approaching, I’m all about warming the house and my tummy with yummy, comforting, roasted things.

This recipe originally appeared on 24hour Fitness website (of all places), but it’s since disappeared. But its source should tell you that this roast is a far cry from chicken pot pie. The lentil loaf is an entirely whole food feast, packed with protein- and fiber-giving lentils, brown rice, and walnuts.

The original version used cheese and eggs, but I’ve subbed these for nutritional yeast flakes and “flax eggs” for a totally vegan roast experience. Gravy is essential, and I highly recommend this cashew gravy as an accompaniment, along with some boiled potatoes and sauteed cabbage or other green.

Lentil Loaf

Lentil Loaf with Cashew Gravy

2 Tbsp flax seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
3/4 cup carrots, shredded
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 Tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper

Blend the flax seeds with 6 Tablespoons of water until the seeds are finely ground and the mixture is quite “goopy” (this is the binder and takes the place of 2 eggs). Put this into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Heat up the olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and spices until the onion is soft.

Add the sauteed veggies to the flax mixture along with the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly, using your hands to really mush everything together. Have a taste and add more salt and pepper if it needs it.

Pack the mixture into an oiled loaf pan or pie tin. Bake uncovered at 350 F / 180 C for 45-60 minutes or until loaf is set.

Remove oven and let the loaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with a generous spoonful of cashew gravy.

Serves 6. Per serving: 270 Calories; 12.7g Protein; 10.6g Total Fat; 33.6g Total Carbohydrates; 0mg Cholesterol; 175mg Sodium; 11.2g Fiber

Bad-Ass Vegan MoFo!


October is coming. That means it’s time for pumpkin pie, Halloween costumes, and Vegan Mofo, the Vegan Month Of Food. It’s like Nanowrimo (national novel writing month) for vegan foodies. Here’s the idea:

The idea is to write as much as you can for the month of October about vegan food. The blog entries can be about anything food related – your love of tongs, your top secret tofu pressing techniques, the first time your mom cooked vegan for you, vegan options in Timbuktu – you get the idea. There is no strict guideline for how much you have to write, but we shoot for about 20 times a month, or every weekday.

I’m not vegan, nor am I trying to be , but I like the “good to think” aspect of vegan cooking and this is a great excuse to get to know some fellow foodies and try out a few new recipes.

Anyone else taking part in VeganMofo? Let me know!

To read all about Vegan MoFo and get your name on the list of participants, check out the official post from Kittee:

Vegan Mofo III (2009 edition)

Easy Delicious Cashew Gravy

Flickr Photo Download_ Saturday Roast Dinner.jpgThis cashew gravy could make just about any dish taste better – steamed veggies, veggie burgers, potatoes. You could even exclude the onion and add a bit of honey or other sweetener and use it as a breakfast drizzle for crepes or pancakes. Or leave the onion and pour gravy on your omelet. Me? I like this cashew gravy with a good ol’ slab of lentil loaf and roasted veggies, as we had for dinner tonight.

Oh, and did I mention how easy it is? It takes less than 10 minutes, unless you’re me and you don’t hold the lid of blender down tight, causing cashew gravy to go all over the kitchen. Whoops.

Cashew Gravy

2 cups hot water
1/2 cup cashews
1 Tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp onion powder (or 1/2 onion finely chopped and sauteed in a bit of olive oil)
2 tsp nutritional food yeast
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
Set aside 1 cup of hot water. Put everything else in the blender and blend until smooth, about 3-5 minutes (note: hot liquid in the blender puts pressure on the lid, so hold it down tight with a kitchen towel when you blend!).

Pour the mix into a saucepan with the rest of the hot water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with biscuits, lentil loaf, noodles, veggies – whatever you wish!

Serves 4. Per serving: 118 Calories; 3.8g Protein; 8g Total Fat; 9.5g Total Carbohydrates; 0mg Cholesterol; 524mg Sodium; 1.1g Fiber

Healthy Cooking for One

Tim’s in London this weekend, so I’m left to fend for myself. When it’s just me, I’m less ambitious in the kitchen – somehow cooking is far less rewarding if I have no one to share it with. But this is where having a well stocked freezer comes in handy. Today I uncovered some samosas, lentil dal and a tasty black bean burger from the depths of the ice box, which helped make lunch and dinner both fast and delicious.

Of course, I couldn’t escape my true nature – even on my own I still love to cook. So to comfort my solo self, I made a runner bean casserole that seriously rocked my world. Click here for the recipe, or read on for my Saturday life diary.

Food and Exercise Log | Saturday, September 20, 2009


Vegan buckwheat crepes with fruit and tofu “cream”

Breakfast Crepes with Fresh Fruit and Tofu "Cream"

Recipe: Vegan buckwheat crepes


Thames Path

What a beautiful morning. A little over 4 miles through Lower Moor Farm and along the Thames Path.


Banana and peanut butter crepe with raspberries

Buckwheat Crepe with Banana & PB


Samosas with lentil dal, apple chutney, carrot coconut chutney and raw veggies

Samosas al fresco

Lunch al fresco! These are some baked samosas I made last week then stashed in the fridge. One is filled with spiced lentils, the other a more traditional potato filling. The lentil dal is an old favorite.

Recipe: Red lentil dal with panch phoran


Black bean and sweet potato burger with runner bean casserole and cabbage salad

Black bean and sweet potato burger

The burger is made with sweet potato, quinoa and black beans, then topped with a tofu-based mayonaisse (Mark Bittman’s "Veganaisse"). The cabbage salad is a simple combo of cabbage, carrot, parsley, chives, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The runner bean casserole is like a fancy version of green bean casserole, and the star of the meal!


Lentil Quinoa Sweet Potato Burger (but with black beans instead of lentils)
Runner bean casserole


A sliver of apple pie and a spoonful of coconut ice cream

Just a sliver...

Vegan apple pie – and I made it myself!

Green Bean Casserole Reinvented

Runner Bean Casserole

Fresh, young runner beans are a gem amongst the many wonderful vegetables available during the British summer. At their best they are at once tender, succulent and bursting with flavour. – eat the seasons

Runner beans are a popular summer staple here in Britain and they’ve been making regular appearances in our organic box. Prior to living in the UK, I’d never seen or eaten runner beans. As a result, they’re a mystery and I never know what to do with them. The end result is a big ol’ pile of beans in my fridge, threatening extinction with each passing day.

beans.jpgSo this evening, I decided to face the beans. While contemplating my options, I had a sudden recollection of green bean casserole – you know, the kind made with mushroom soup and french fried onions. I didn’t have either of those ingredients but I decided to go for it anyway. The result was both delicious and vegan! I think this will be my go-to method for dealing with runner beans in the future.

How did I veganize it? Instead of mushroom soup, I made a mushroom gravy using Mark Bittman’s Bechamel Sauce. Instead of french fried onions, I sauteed onions in olive oil until they were golden then tossed them with a mix of flour and cornmeal. In the future, I’ll use breadcrumbs for this step, but I didn’t have any on hand. Regardless, these beans rocked my world. Ultimate creamy rich comfort food without all the weird preservatives and additives in traditional green bean casserole. You could even argue that it’s healthy, as I used whole grains for the crumble top and olive oil for my fats. And of course, there are the runner beans, which are a good source of vitamin C, folic acid and fibre.

But I didn’t really eat this for the health benefits. I ate it because it tasted good. Really good. Next time I’ll add fresh mushrooms in addition to the dried.

Here’s the recipe… I’m estimating some of the quantities here because I was pretty much winging it. But it should give you some ideas if you’d like to try your own vegan green bean casserole at home.

Runner Bean Casserole

Runner Bean CasseroleThe gravy for this is adapted from Mark Bittman’s Bechamel Sauce.

5-6 cups runner beans

For the gravy:

2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
salt and pepper

For the crumble topping

2 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for crumbling
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp cornmeal
salt and pepper

“Top and tail” the runner beans, then slice them into very thin diagonals. Fill a pot with boiling water and a good pinch of salt. Add the runner beans and cook until they are tender. When they are done, “shock” them under cold water to stop them from cooking further.

Make the gravy: Rehydrate the porcini mushrooms by soaking them in about 1/2 cup hot water. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until they are soft. Slowly add the flour and mix with a wire whisk. Turn the heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour turns tan (about 3 minutes). Add the mushroom soaking water, the soy milk and the stock, whisking all the while. Let the sauce simmer on a low heat until the mixture is at a desired thickness. Add the diced porcini mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste.

Make the crumble top: heat the olive oil on a medium heat then add the onion. Cook until the onion rings start to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour and cornmeal and toss with the onions. Add a bit more olive oil until you’re able to form crumbs with the mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Make the casserole: Mix the runner beans with the gravy then put in a casserole pan. Top with the crumble topping. Bake at 350 F / 180 C until the top is golden and crispy.

Ode to Cabbage Salad

Rainbow Cabbage Slaw

I seem to be eating a lot of cabbage lately. We get a head of the green stuff every week in the organic box and it seems to last forever. Since the weather’s been warm and sunny, my tastes tend towards raw, cold and crispy, so various permutations of cabbage salad (i.e. cole slaw) have been gracing my plate.

Cabbage salad makes me super happy. I like to shred all the cabbage in one go (not in the box shredder, but with a knife – here’s how), then store the extras in the fridge for quick cabbage salad goodness whenever I feel like.

So what can one person do with that much cabbage without getting bored? Here’s a few ideas:

  • My favorite cabbage salad recipe is this Oriental Cabbage Salad, made with a sweetened cider vinegar dressing and toasted sesame seeds. The original recipe (a Shaw family classic) calls for uncooked ramen noodles to be added to the mix, though I tend to leave these out because they’re really weird and bad for you. But I gotta admit, the ramen noodles add a nice savory crunch. Then again, so do toasted sesame seeds!
  • Lime and chili cabbage slaw – I’ve been eating a lot of this because it’s just so easy. Cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, chili, salt. And if you really can’t be bothered chopping anything, lime, oil and salt would do just as well.
  • Celery seeds. They kick up just about any cabbage salad. Case in point: Amish Slaw.
  • From my friend, Brant: Grate a head of purple cabbage, one sweet onion and a carrot. Add some finely jalapenos. Mix all that together and then dress with about 1/2 a cup of 1:1 rice/apple cider vinegar, a little olive oil, some salt and pepper.

And speaking of cabbage, Monday saw a double dose of my green-leafed friend, both cooked and uncooked. Read on for the details…

Food and Exercise Log | Monday, September 14, 2009


Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and fresh fruit

Toast with fruit and peanut butter

Recipe: Whole Wheat Seed Bread [Bob’s Red Mill]


Leftover savoy cabbage thoran

Savoy cabbage thoran

This is one of my favorite recipes from from Das Sreedharan’s “The New Taste of India”. It’s even good as a mid-morning snack!


Black bean taco with pineapple salsa and cabbage salad

Black bean taco with pineapple salsa and cabbage salad



A nice walk around the fields behind the cottage. About an hour and 20 minutes.


Mixed grill bonanza

Mixed Veggie Grill

Grilled pineapple, mushrooms, onions and red pepper with a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad, plus avocado and no knead bread. This meal rocked!

Recipe: “Faster” No Knead Bread [New York Times]

Weekend Food Tracking

Food Log | Friday, July 11, 2009


Toast with fruit and homemade apple sauce

Toast with fruit and apple sauce


Buckwheat crepes with berries and soy yogurt “cream”

Buckwheat Crepes with Berries and Soy Yogurt


Lentil “bolognese” with broccoli and carrots

Lentil Spag Bol


Smokey grilled tempeh and onions with salad and potatoes

Smoky Grilled Tempeh

Food Log | Saturday, July 12, 2009


Toast with peanut butter, banana and apples

Saturday Breakfast





Leftover tempeh with cabbage salad and apple chutney

Leftover tempeh and cabbage salad

Beer in the sun

Beer in the sun


Homemade samosas with apple chutney, green chutney and savoy cabbage thoran

Two Hot Samosas!

Food Log | Sunday, July 13, 2009


Toast with PB, bananas, apples and blackberries

PB, Banana and Apples on Toast


Chickpea salad sandwich with cabbage salad

Chickpea salad sandwich


Chocolate and beetroot cake with blackberries

Chocolate beetroot cake


Tofu stir fry with brown rice

Sunday night stir-fry

After dinner stroll

Working on my routine

Our cows

I didn’t do my 20 minutes of morning exercise today – instead I did over 60. Tim and I went for a long walk around the farm. It was a glorious clear morning and we saw lots of deer (or as I call them, “giant rabbits”).

Still, I didn’t get in my strength exercises. It’s a tough one. I love walking in the morning, but I also have a much easier time doing the muscle work early in the morning when the world is asleep. I don’t know why but I feel like I need absolute privacy. Maybe I just need to get over that. Oh well, I’m not complaining. It was a great day and it was good to get so much time in the sun.

Food and Exercise Log | Thursday, Sept 11, 2009


Buckwheat Crepes with Soy Yogurt Cream

Buckwheat Crepes

One crepe is filled with banana and cocoa, the other with sauteed apples. The apple one was my favorite – it went really well with the soy yogurt cream stuff.


Buckwheat crepes
Soy yogurt cheese


Three laps around the fields behind our cottage. A little over an hour’s walk.


Breakfast Tacos with Various Salads

Breakfast Taco (for Lunch)

Avocado Salad

Tim made the best breakfast tacos (for lunch) ever! He first scrambled an egg, then sauteed onion and potato with a bit of cumin. Meanwhile, made some avocado-tomato salsa and a little cabbage salad to go on the side. The tacos were assembled in the following order: potato/onion, egg, lettuce,avo-tomato salsa, chipotle salsa. It’s not much to look at, but it tasted mighty fine!

Recipe: Smokin’ Hot Chipotle Salsa


A pre-dinner stroll around Lower Moor Farm, via the blackberry bushes.


Lentil Bolognese with Polenta, Baked Zucchini and Broccoli

Lentils and Shrooms with Zucchini and Polenta

I love lentils on baked zucchini. This batch was made with sauteed mushrooms, onions and garlic. SO good. There’s polenta hidden somewhere under the pile.

Summer Holidays are Over

Flying Over Detroit

It’s been a pretty swell summer: a move to the country, two trips to Chicago, one trip to Switzerland, our first houseguest, and even a couple side trips to London. But now, summer’s over and there are no big travel plans out on the immediate horizon. I’m a little relieved.

I’ve been looking forward to having a good stretch of time here in the new place. I feel like nesting. And resting. And getting back into my routines, like my daily food blogging, plus a few new routines that I’d like to adopt:

  • Morning stretching and strength training – I’m trying to do about 20-minutes of exercise every morning, focussing on stretching and strength exercises, plus a bit of warm-up skipping for fun. So far, it’s been going okay, but I can tell my plan needs some structure if I’m going to see results. I’m thinking I’ll alternate days with yoga and strength. For yoga, I’m doing the ashtanga series I’m familiar with. For strength, I’ve been mostly doing sit-ups, push-ups, burpees, that sorta thing, but I’d like to work in the monkey bar gym. We’ll see where this goes. One is better than zero!
  • Studying – I’ve just started taking a Human Nutrition short course through the Open University, the UK’s big online uni. In a few more weeks I’ll start Human Biology. I’m excited about each but studying is weird. And by weird I mean hard. I’m interested in the material though and I think it’ll make me a better blogger/writer/learner/eater/liver/etc.
  • Rambling – Now that I live in the country, I want to take advantage of all it has to offer. And that means lots of walking and rambling in the hills, forests and fields of England. I bought a pack while I was in Chicago and really need to get out and use it before winter comes.
  • Getting free – One of the big goals of living in the country is to be financially independent in the next two years. I’ve got a long way to go with my own projects but with consistent work, I’m pretty sure I’ll get there (and even if I don’t, I’ll have a fun time trying). I haven’t quite worked out how to turn self employment into a routine yet. But in the spirit of just getting started, Tim and I designated Wednesdays as the day where we work on our small business. We’ve only had one such Wednesday, but it helped us get started, and that little spark was enough to get us motivated about doing even more work. We just gotta keep those sparks firing. And hey, tomorrow is Wednesday again! Bring on the fire.
  • Walking the dog – we don’t have a dog yet but we’re planning to get one as soon as we get permission from the landlord and find the right pooch for us at one of the rescue shelters.

Some old routines I plan to keep around:

  • Cooking and eating
  • Walking
  • Taking pictures
  • Reading for pleasure (in bed, right before sleep)

So, a new house, a new routine, a new pet, and probably a few new recipes as we take advantage of the weekly organic box. Here comes one now… check out tonight’s Leek and Potato Soup at the bottom of this post!

Food and Exercise Log | Tuesday, Sep 8, 2009

Yoga and Stuff

Some skipping. Some sun salutations A and B. Some burpees. Some wall-sits. What a hodge podge! Need some structure.


Buckwheat crepes with blackberries and cream

Buckwheat Crepes with Berries and Soy Yogurt

Recipe: Buckwheat crepes (not the vegan version)


Cornmeal Crusted Tofu with Salad and Fried Potatoes

Cornmeal Crusted Tofu with Mixed Veggie Salsa

This chili-crusted tofu is the bomb – another hit from Veganomicon.

Recipe: Chile Cornmeal-Crusted Tofu

Yummy Fried Potatoes


Vegan chocolate and beetroot cake with blackberries and coffee

Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Blackberries

The blackberries were foraged from the farm. Love it!

Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Beetroot Cake [Limes & Lycophene]


About an hour’s walk around the farm with Tim.


Leek and potato soup with three bean salad and french bread

Leek and Potato Soup

The soup was was so good – simple ingredients, easy to make (see recipe below). Thanks to Tim for putting this together. Sensational!

Recipe: Leek and Potato Soup from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Three Bean Salad

The salad also came from the Bittman book. I did a non-broiled version of his Broiled Three Bean Salad. Word of advice: it’s way better broiled.

Leek and Potato Soup

Butter or Olive oil
3 leeks
3 medium potatoes
Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes. Wash the leeks very well (be sure to check inside the outer layers for the sand that you will inevitably find there) and slice the whites and the light green parts into thin slices. Saute the leeks and potatoes in butter or olive oil for five minutes, then cover with vegetable broth and cook until potatoes are very tender, about five minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.