Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Vegan Ice Cream That Could

All summer I drooled over the mouth-watering ice cream recipes popping up on blogs across the Net. I had such a passion to make my own little batch of cold vegan goodness, but there was only one problem: I don't own an ice cream maker. :(

So, I drooled and drooled. I sent recipes to my mom, who owns an ice cream maker, trying to lure her into giving animal-free ice cream a go. She offered to loan me her machine but I didn't want her to go without, so initially I declined and went back to the visions of ice cream dreams dancing in my head.

Then, Tofu-n-Sprouts posted an irresistible-sounding pumpkin spice ice cream recipe that reminded me of the delicious "limited edition" pumpkin ice cream I've had from a certain mass-manufacturer of the cold stuff. The temptation was growing and I wouldn't be able to wait much longer... so I asked to borrow the ice cream maker from my mom.

I was so giddy when I finally had the machine in my hands. Like a child on Christmas morning who must decide which present to open first, my mind was spinning as I contemplated my first recipe. Pumpkin. It had to be pumpkin. Dammit, it's 30 degrees F outside but I wanted pumpkin ice cream.

I tried to be smart about it. I printed off both Tofu Mom's recipe, and the one at A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise. Both recipes contained an ingredient I wasn't sure if I could find, but if I took both recipes along, I was bound to be able to make one if not the other right?

Wrong! It was as if some higher force was telling me it was too cold to be making ice cream. "You should be making hot cocoa or baking warm muffins instead," I heard the voice taunt. I searched high and low but I could not for the life of me find the Silk brand Pumpkin Spice soy milk for Tofu's Mom's recipe, or the arrowroot for the Vegan Paradise recipe. Dammit! What's a girl craving ice cream to do?

Find another recipe! LOL Thankfully, I remembered that one of the recipes I had sent to my mom was the vegan ice cream base from Vivacious Vegan. The magic ingredient in her recipe was coconut milk... and I knew I could find coconut milk! Finally! The vegan ice cream that could! :)

After all the frustration, I chose to keep it simple and made the vanilla ice dream recipe (pictured above) from VV. My fiance and I sampled it over an episode of Heroes recently. Good, but for me, the texture was a bit off. And, the coconut milk seemed to leave an aftertaste I could've done without. I'd have to do better to convince my omni-fiance that vegan ice cream is worth eating.

So once again I went in search of arrowroot and ended up at my local bulk food store. They had it. Yippie! I bought close to a pound. :) And I rushed home to make Agnes' Pumpkin Ice Cream.

Tom Petty has it right. The waiting IS the hardest part. The time period to wait for the ice cream to firm up was grueling, especially since my sample taste in the soft-serve state told me it was divine! Oh, but this ice cream was worth the wait. I loved this recipe. I felt the texture was more along the lines of what I had hoped for, and I felt it was a healthier recipe without the coconut in it. I think this recipe gives that famous E brand a run for its money. My omni sister thought it was delicious too!

My fiance, on the other hand, hasn't had a chance to try it yet... somehow the batch disappeared before he could come over for a taste! ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Catching up

I'm finally back after five days without Internet or cable service at my home! Rather than bore you with the cable company fiasco, I want to share with you my personal effort to raise awareness for veg*n food in my community. (Back to veg*n food postings tomorrow!)

I work in higher education. There are many "free food" opportunities on campus throughout the year. In the past, the organizers of these events have been accommodating to vegetarians. For instance, they've served veggie burgers at campus picnics. However, one of the last events held this past summer left me completely disappointed because all three of the main dishes offered were meat based. No attempt was made to serve a meatless dish. I expressed my disappoint to the organizers by sending them an e-mail outlining my concerns and offering to meet with them to talk about vegetarian options for future events. I never received a reply to that e-mail.

Last week, campus dining sent out an e-mail announcement advertising the third annual holiday brunch. This is an event with a $10 cost to attend. Of course, memories of the summer event came flooding back in my mind. Instead of complaining again that the menu is not veggie friendly, I decided to take matters into my own hands! I e-mailed the head of campus dining to ask exactly what items on the brunch menu were vegetarian and/or vegan. The response I received was that the corn and carrot dishes were vegan, but everything else had either dairy, eggs or meat in it. The woman from campus dining indicated that if 25 people expressed an interest in vegan dining, and paid for the brunch in advance, they'd be more than happy to add a couple vegan items to the brunch menu. That sounds like a challenge to me! So, I took the liberty of sending out a campus e-mail, asking if anyone else was interested in animal-free food choices at the brunch. Responses are still slowly coming in... but overall, the result has been positive. There are six people (me included) so far who will commit to buying a tix for a vegan food option. I'm not sure if we'll make the required 25, but what I'm hoping to accomplish is just an overall awareness that alternate food choices are desired at events like this. I've had several people e-mail me to say they can't attend the event, but they agree with what I'm trying to do. I've even had support from meat eaters, who themselves cannot believe there's not even a green salad on the menu.

If I don't get a commitment from 25 people, I won't be attending the event. Instead, I plan to create my own mini taste fest; I've received permission from my department to use its conference room for animal-free food sampling. I plan to make several different yummy animal-free goodies and bring them in for anyone on campus to stop by and sample. Again, I just want to begin to raise an awareness on campus about veggie food options. My hope is that someday there might be more of an acceptance of yummy animal-free food!! :)

I'll keep you all posted and let you know what happens in December. :)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Technical difficulties

Just a quick note to say I've had some technical trouble, which is why I haven't updated my blog. My home Internet/cable service was down yesterday, as well as this morning, so I called the company and it's being looked into today. Normally I could update it during my lunch break, but today I have to run out on an errand. If everything is peachy-keen when I get home, I'll post a new entry. If not, my blog may not be updated till late Sunday or so because I have a busy weekend planned.

I have been cooking though... made some vegan ice cream and a BBQ chickpea recipe (which unfortunately, wasn't very good... I'm hoping to 'fix' the dish to make it edible and post the results). Hope to share my experiences once my home Net is working again!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tempeh Tuesday #3 - Smoky Breakfast Tempeh

Ok, so I didn't have this for breakfast.

The fact is, when I saw it over at Pamela Cooks, I had to have it right at that moment. All the ingredients were in my cupboard already, so it was a no-brainer what I was having for dinner.

This was delicious. I added in a touch of peanut butter and pomegranate molasses, just because. The only thing I would do different next time is make more sauce. Mine seemed to cook off fast and it would've been nice to have some extra.

As I was chowing down, I realized that I'm really becoming a tempeh fan! I find myself craving the taste of it. I may have to add in a Tempeh Thursday, so I have an excuse for devouring tempeh twice a week. LOL

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Vegetarian Combo Plate @ LaPita Restaurant

I had the night off from cooking yesterday because last night was kind of special; my fiance and I picked up my engagement ring from the jeweler! We had it custom designed and it turned out beautifully! To celebrate, we went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, LaPita Mediterranean Cuisine in Dearborn, Mich. This restaurant is where R and I had our second date, and it's been a favorite ever since. He usually orders the lamb chops. I, of course, go veg. The menu has plenty to offer vegetarians, going so far as to mark each veg entree on the menu to make choices easier. Last night, I ordered the vegetarian combo plate #2, which is my favorite. Lots of food for $9.99. Sides of salad and rice, as well as grape leaves, spinach pie, falafel, hummus and baba. The food is always excellent. However, last night the service left a lot to be desired. We've never had such bad service there and it was unfortunate since we were trying to celebrate a happy occasion. :( I told my fiance the restaurant should be glad we've eaten there before, because if last night's dinner had been our first there, we would not be returning.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Moroccan Lentil Stew

The last of the crockpot dishes for this week!

(And I definitely need the break... I've made WAY more food than one girl can handle in a week... I'm hoping all this stuff freezes well!)

This veggie stew was really good. Lots of good stuff in it to fill ya up! This is certainly one of those prep recipes tho, since it took more than 30 minutes for me to cut up the squash, potatoes, onion, etc. and get everything in the pot. Still, it was nice to come home to a cooked meal after a long day at work. :)

Moroccan Lentil Stew

1 c. dried lentils, rinsed and sorted
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
10 small red potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 c. water
8 oz. package frozen cut green beans, thawed

Put everything except the green beans in the crockpot and simmer on low for 8-10 hours (or until all the veggies are tender). Then, switch the setting to high and toss in the green beans, stirring to combine with the rest of the stew. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the beans and the entire stew is thoroughly heated. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sweet-Hot Pumpkin Soup ... veganized!

If you like your pumpkin with punch, then have I got a soup for you!

This is a recipe I found in a non-vegetarian crockpot book. It seemed easy enough to veganize--I replaced the chicken broth with veggie broth, and the three tablespoons honey became three tablespoons agave nectar. The book says it serves five to six people. It took me about 20 minutes to prep the ingredients for the slow cooker. I saved a bit of time by using packaged shredded carrots instead of peeling and chopping my own.

I thought this soup was delicious! It almost had too much of a kick for me (I used one jalapeno), but I'm the person who thinks mild spice at Thai places is too "hot." LOL Personally, next time I'll only use half a jalapeno, but foodies who like it hot should definitely enjoy this dish! I had my omni sis sample this soup, too, during our Halloween pasta night, and she agreed it was tasty. She saved some for her hubby to try; she thought the spice temp would be perfect for him--lucky her, he likes it hot! ;-p

This cooked all day (nine hours) in the crockpot without crusting up the sides. :) I have leftovers for lunches later in the week... good thing, too, because it's supposed to get cold 'round these parts.

Crockpot Sweet-Hot Pumpkin Soup

1 - 16 oz. can pumpkin
4 cups (32 oz. carton) vegetable broth
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons watercress, chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Sauterne wine
watercress leaves for garnish

Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in crockpot and simmer on low for 9 to 9.5 hours, or until vegetables are soft. Puree soup in a blender or food processor. Reheat if needed or garnish with watercress and serve! Enjoy! :)

Up next: a lentil stew in the crockpot.