Month: November 2011

Taiwan – Day 1

We woke up early this morning. H’s parents and sister woke up even earlier and brought us breakfast. The breakfast place is very popular, so hopefully we’ll get to go there again. It lives up to its reputation. After breakfast, we walked around Taipei and H’s parents pointed out their favorite spots when they lived here.

Taipei’s Peace Garden

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The Presidential Palace

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Lunch
Appetizers: Kimchi and tofu

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Pumpkin Tofu

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Spinach with gou-qi (goji) berries. Apparently, the trend in Taiwanese cuisine is to use things from Chinese medicine.

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Eggplant

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The tofu was original and two of my favorite vegetables are spinach and eggplant, so it was a great lunch. My mother-in-law called it a light lunch. Need to start running tomorrow!

We took the train to Taizhong, took a long nap and went to dinner with H’s uncles. We had a great meal at King Young Restaurant. One of H’s uncles is a vegetarian, so we had lots of great veggie dishes: tofu, snow pea leaves, squash, dumplings and glass noodle soup.

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In Transit

So United doesn’t offer vegan meals anymore. They offer non-dairy vegetarian meals, which they cannot guarantee are actually non-dairy. I brought along a couple Clif bars just in case. The first meal was a chickpea and sweet potato curry with Israeli couscous.

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The dressing did have whey in it, so the salad was out. The curry was edible.
The snack was a couscous pita sandwich. Yes, you read that correctly. A pita stuffed with couscous. Vegans love carbs! The last meal was baked apples with a big ball of dough and a side of applesauce. The dough was not edible, so I ate applesauce and apples. Nice thing about international United flight: free wine.

We had a 3 hour layover in Tokyo, so we got some sushi. I imagine it’s just as authentic and delicious as a Chili’s at an American airport. I was pleasantly surprised to find a veggie roll and some vegetable nigiri. And most important: protein from edamame.

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Pretty good for an airport meal!

Iron Bowl Victory!

In Alabama, the Iron Bowl is an essential part of the Thanksgiving weekend festivities. Fortunately, the game was an afternoon game, so my family was able to stick around to watch the game before heading back to Alabama.

While buying vegan sprinkles on Etsy, I saw these houndstooth cupcake wrappers. My dad really likes the chocolate mint cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, so I did a Crimson Tide version of the cupcake.

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Instead of dyeing the mint frosting green, I made it red. Then I topped the cupcakes with a Trader Joe’s JoJo, an oreo-like cookie with crushed candy canes (which, BTW, is amazingly delicious).

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For our meal, we had chili from Vegan Holiday Kitchen with Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, salsa and guacamole. I used pinto beans, black beans and chili beans (half hot and half mild) in the chili.

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Happy Thanksvegan

The only turkey that was part of my 100% vegan Thanksgiving was Antoinette , who I adopted at Farm Sanctuary.

The Menu

Appetizers

Teese Ball with crackers

Spinach Artichoke Dip with crackers, chips and veggies

Cocktail

Floating Star Martini

Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Main Course

Mushroom, Lentil, and Wild Rice Timbales with Mushroom Gravy

Polenta, Sausage, and Mushroom Stuffing

Agave-Mustard Green Beans

Sweet Potato Casserole with Sweet & Sara Cinnamon-Pecan Marshmallows

Dessert

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cheesecake

Apple Crisp with Caramel-Cinnamon Ice Cream

Truffles

Barnie’s White Christmas Coffee

We worked up an appetite at the 5K and dinner would take a while, so we filled up on a vegan cheese ball made with Teese. So delicious!

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The spinach-artichoke dip tasted healthier than your typical mayo-filled restaurant dip, but it was flavorful. The lemon and the arugula are a nice touch. I did the bean version and added a can of artichoke hearts. Super easy.

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I messed up the cocktails by adding 6 ounces of pomegranate liqueur when I should have been adding 6 ounces of apple cider. I threw in more cider and bourbon, so in the end it still tasted good, just a tad more pomegranate-y than the original. It’s a very pretty cocktail.

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My mom made this salad. The butternut squash was perfectly roasted and the warm cider vinaigrette was a nice touch. The recipe calls for parmesan cheese, but that is not needed at all.

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I made a couple things from my new cookbook, Vegan Holiday Kitchen. The polenta, sausage and mushroom stuffing includes a shortcut by using pre-packaged polenta, but I couldn’t find that at Whole Foods or Jewel (I didn’t look that hard at Whole Foods, because I knew they sold it at Jewel). Jewel was sold out until this weekend, but it was a sun-dried tomato version and I’m not sure that would have worked. Anyway, I had to make my own and I used this recipe, subbing Earth Balance. I should have halved it though, because I ended up throwing a lot of polenta away. It’s a good, and very easy, recipe.

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My sister made her favorite Thanksgiving dish, sweet potato casserole. I always avoided this dish, even before I was vegan, because it was too sweet for me. My sister did not use all the sugar my grandmother does. I still didn’t eat more than a bite, but it was the best sweet potato casserole I’ve had. Better than what I made last year. The Sweet & Sara cinnamon pecan marshmallows were our modern twist to the classic recipe.

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Mushroom gravy: easy and versatile – could go over the stuffing or the timbales.

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Instead of green bean casserole, we had agave-mustard green beans. Nava stresses the importance of keeping the beans bright green, but I got a little distracted by the martinis. They were still good.

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My only problem with the timbales was using a little too much non-stick spray in the ramekins. I was worried about the dish getting stuck in the ramekin (hence the overspraying), but it came out easily. It tasted great and the mushroom on the top was cute.

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Dessert, the best part of any meal. I made a chocolate swirl version of Peta’s pumpkin cheesecake, but I used the graham cracker crust from Vegan Pie in the Sky. Honestly, I think I like a store-bought version better. The crust was too buttery and it competed with the cheesecake.

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I also made truffles from the candy article in the most recent VegNews. It was a coconut truffle, but I made half without coconut, because my sister and I do not like coconut shavings.

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And finally, apple crisp, a Thanksgiving tradition. I did a test run of this last weekend after a trail run at Veterans Acres and it went fast. It’s from Vegan Pie in the Sky. It went perfectly with the caramel-cinnamon ice cream from Bittersweet.

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Thanksgiving Day 5K

We started Thanksgiving with Hillstriders’ 5K. Hillstriders raised $2,000 and a truck load of food for the Crystal Lake Food Pantry. It was about 20 degrees warmer this year than last year, which was ideal racing conditions. I brought along my entire family, including H who completed his first 5K! It’s hard to write a race report for a 5K. The race is over so quickly. My goal was under 23 minutes. I did the last 5K of the Hot Chocolate 15K in 23:28, so I felt my goal was doable. The race was pretty consistent.

My unofficial time was 22:20! Another race, another personal record!

I went back to find my sister and brother-in-law and ran a little bit with them. Then I found H and ran in with him, but I forgot to take a picture! So mad.

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H went back to sit in the car, because he was cold, but the rest of us went to cheer on my parents. This picture makes me laugh so hard.

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Iron Chef Challenge: Panko-Encrusted Ginger-Wasabi Brownies

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Vegan Iron Chef is continuing throughout the year! This month’s secret ingredient was bread crumbs. I bought panko at the grocery store yesterday with the idea of creating a panko-encrusted tempeh “fish” and I still might do that, but I was browsing panko recipes at Foodgawker (sometimes I go there just to see if anyone else has put together the weird ingredient combination in my head) and I saw this recipe: panko-encrusted wasabi brownies. Perhaps this violates the spirit of Iron Chef: does adding ginger and veganizing count as “making it my own?” It’s pretty good , so I’m sharing it anyway.

  • 3 ounces extra firm silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or any nondairy milk)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi sauce, or 2 1/2 teaspoons wasabi powder
  • 3/4 cup floor
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 cup panko

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8×8-inch brownie pan with parchment paper, including the sides.

Puree tofu, milk, and oil in a blender until smooth, Transfer to a mixing bowl and use a fork to vigorously mix in the sugar. Then add the vanilla. And then the wasabi.

Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, ginger, baking powder and salt. When everything is combined, fold in the chocolate chunks. Transfer batter to the pan and smooth out the top.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and evenly distribute the panko on top of the partially-cooked brownies. Return to the oven and bake for another fifteen minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

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Cookin’ Southern Vegetarian Style

I’ve had this cookbook for a while, but this is the first time I used it. For this week’s Alabama game versus Mississippi State, we had jambalaya, fried “chicken” tofu, and greens. Except for the greens, it was really good. And I think the greens were fairly authentic, because they were overcooked and slimy.

For the jambalaya, I used the chicken seitan from Fat Free Vegan, which is probably the best seitan I’ve ever had! It’s my new favorite recipe.

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Top Chef Wednesday: Smoked Sweet Potato Soup with Black Beans & Tequila Cilantro Lime Cream

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It’s the first recipe form the new Top Chef Texas season! Instead of pig cheeks (seriously gross!), I used black beans.

Smoked Sweet Potato Soup with Black Beans & Tequila Cilantro Lime Cream

Adapted from Molly Brandt

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 4 cups sweet potato, peeled and large diced
  • 1 quart  chick’n or vegetable stock
  • 1 large can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • d 1/4 teaspoon ground peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Tofutti Better than Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, untoasted
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon tequila anejo
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced + sprigs for garnish
  • Canola oil, as needed

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, mix black beans, pepper, bay leaves, olive oil and thyme.

2. In a large pot, saute onion until tender and translucent, then add in garlic.

3. Add the smoked paprika to the onions and stir until fragrant, then add the sweet potato. Cover with stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer until tender.

4. Meanwhile toss the peanuts in a sauté pan over medium heat with a bit of canola oil, salt, and 1 teaspoon chili powder until toasted, reserve.

5. In a small bowl whip sour cream with salt, lime zest and juice, tequila and minced cilantro and reserve. Place in freezer until ready to use.

6. Simmer seasoned black beans over medium-low heat until warm.

7. When sweet potatoes are tender, puree the soup in batches until smooth and season with the almond milk, sherry vinegar, liquid smoke, brown sugar, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon chili powder and salt.

8. Place a small mound of the seasoned black beans in a soup bowl. Pour soup around the mound of beans. Garnish with peanuts, tequila lime cream and a sprig of cilantro.

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Hot Chocolate 15K Race Report

My only goal at this year’s Hot Chocolate 15K was to beat last year’s time and, considering I didn’t race it last year (I just ran for fun), this was an easy goal. We spent the night downtown, so it was nice not having to get up at 4:00 to catch a train from Crystal Lake. On Friday night, we went to Japonais for dinner, which H enjoyed, but it’s not great for a vegan unless the vegan is on a diet. They have a fairly large selection of vegetables to put in rolls, a couple of salads (the red miso dressing on the bibb lettuce salad is delicious), and they will steam the side veggies. No edamame!! It was too dark upstairs for food photos, but I did take this pretty photo at the bar downstairs.

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My stomach was actually growling at 6:00 on race day. Usually I have a hard time eating anything before an early run, especially a race, but I devoured my Clif bar, drank my coffee and went out to the race.

With my March Madness half-marathon time, I missed qualifying for the A corral, by 45 seconds. The other race times were a minute or two off.  I started in Corral B, which, if I have one complaint about this race, it’s what a big mess the start corrals were. Last year, they were strict about who got into the one fast corral, but this year, you could go wherever you wanted. I zigzagged around a lot of people at the beginning.

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This was my first race with a Garmin, so I had an idea of what my pace was. I was a little worried about starting out too fast, but in the back of my mind, I was hoping to run a 1:15, which is 3 25-minute 5Ks. I passed the first 5K mark at 25:02. That was encouraging, and I picked it up a tad. I passed the second 5K mark in 24:11, which is 3 seconds slower than my 5K PR and the 10K time was 49:13, which is faster than my 10K PR! I still felt great, and was sure I could beat 1:15, I decided that if I could stay strong to mile marker 8, I would really kick it in for the last 1.3 miles. I got to mile 8 and picked up the pace. Garmin said I was running around a 7 minute mile. This lasted almost a mile until I got really tired . The last .3 seemed so long! I ran the final 5K in 23:28, which is faster than my 5K PR. Final time, 1:12:43! I beat last year’s time by 8 minutes and ran one of the best, if not the best, race of my life. My Garmin was off a bit, but here are the splits.

I’m pretty sure the hot chocolate and marshmallows at the post race party are not vegan, so I brought my own Dandies marshmallows and got a soy hot chocolate from Starbucks.

Most of the chocolate passed out at the race had milk in it, but a dark chocolate bar at the expo was safe.

The race jacket is nice, too.

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Top Chef Wednesday:Grilled Tofu Skewers with Smoked Red Curry BBQ Sauce

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Top Chef Wednesday is back! The new Top Chef season started tonight with a Texas theme. I’m sure it will be vegan-friendly, right?!? Oh well, I”ll still be here to veganize. I begin the new season with Angry Dale’s delicious smoked red curry BBQ sauce.

Ingredients

MARINATED MUSHROOMS:
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/8 cup agave nectar
  • 1.5 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 1.5 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 16 ounces button mushrooms
MARINATED EDAMAME:
  • 1/4 cup yuzu juice (or a lemon-lime combo if you live in the ‘burbs)
  • 1/2-1 cup soy sauce (start with 1/2 cup and add more if needed)
  • 2 teaspoons chili oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 16-ounce bag shelled frozen edamame, thawed
SMOKED RED CURRY BBQ SAUCE:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Thai red curry
  • 4 pieces medium-sized onion, julienned
  • 2 heads garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fysh sauce
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 cup honey
PORK SKEWERS WITH GRILLED RED ONION & MANGO:
  • 1 package super firm tofu, cubed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for grilling
  • 8 pieces red onion, quartered
  • 1 mango, peeled and cut into pieces

Directions

MARINATED MUSHROOMS:

In bowl, combine all ingredients adding mushrooms last; allow to marinate. When marinated, cook until done.

MARINATED EDAMAME:

In another bowl, combine all ingredients adding edamame last; allow to marinate. When marinated, cook until done.

SMOKED RED CURRY BBQ SAUCE:

Blend all ingredients together. Set aside.

TOFU SKEWERS WITH GRILLED RED ONION & MANGO:

Season pork with salt and pepper and grill in olive oil to medium. Grill red onion with salt and pepper then pineapple with salt and pepper and olive oil.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Take cube of tofu and thread through wood skewer. Next, thread mango then tofu, red onion, and tofu. Drizzle with sauce and plate. Add marinated mushrooms and edamame to sides.

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