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VeganMoFo #7: Love for Isa

I had the best intentions of blogging the hell out of VeganMoFo. But as always, complications arose. First off, my oven broke, making a recent trip to the farmer’s market a new kind of hell where everywhere I looked I saw beautiful fall vegetables just begging to be roasted. But today, thanks to $180 and a man named Ivan, I’ve got an oven again. After nearly three ovenless weeks, what’s a girl to bake? Cookies! I decided that in between making Matilda’s Halloween costume (my first very amateurish adventure in this kind of frightening arena) and finally getting up another blog post, I’d throw together one of my favorite easy cookie recipes, pumpkin oatmeal cookies from Vegan with a Vengence. They have flax seed, walnuts, molasses, and oats in them, so they’re practically health food, right? Well, except maybe for the white flour, sugar, oil, and chocolate chips. But that’s at least a balance of good and bad, so I’m going with it. I can’t wait to eat some tomorrow, as they are way better the next day, nice and chewy.

And while I’m proving that roughly 82% of my culinary repetoire relies on Ms. Isa Moskowitz, I might as well write about last night’s dinner, seitan chops smothered in apples and ginger. I had to saute the apples, since the oven was not yet fixed, but they turned out great. And even though I think I misread the seitan instructions just a bit (I formed the dough into four chops before boiling, meaning I had very thick chops in the end) and had a bit of trouble getting the breading to stick (that never quite works for me), they turned out great. The inside was so tender, a little like a super dense bread. Maybe due to the altered boiling technique, maybe due to the chickpea flour, but this seitan was very different from any other I’ve made, and I loved it. Spongy yet toothsome. It was a nice balance, as were all the flavors in the dish. I took it easy on the ginger, as I’m just getting over a long-held hatred of the stuff, but it came out totally mellow and warm and wonderful. And really, what’s better than getting to eat apples and cranberries for dinner? It was sort of like eating a totally sophisticated version of my oh-so-high-class childhood favorite, pork chops and applesauce.

VeganMoFo #5: Apple-Pear Crepes with Soyatoo and Toasted Hazelnuts


I haven’t done much cooking this week, partly because I’ve been sick for most of it, meaning all I want to eat is toast. If I were less culinarily inclined, I might eat toast twice a day. It’s good food. But also inhibiting my cooking projects this week was the fact that my oven broke. Which I discovered after spending half an hour assembling a Mexican lasagna that now sits in my freezer. But luckily only the oven is out of commission and the stovetop is unaffected. So to make up for the lack of delicious food this week, I spent a ridiculous amount of time making breakfast this morning. Well, that, and to celebrate my first wedding anniversary. OK, that’s probably the only reason I went overboard. It takes the oven being broken to realize that I rely on it heavily for breakfast. Scones, muffins, coffeecake; there’s not much else in my morning repetoire. So today I fancied it up with sweet crepes (from Veganomicon) with sauteed apples and pears, vanilla whipped Soyatoo, and toasted hazelnuts. There was also Chicago Diner style tofu scramble with sunflower and black sesame seeds, but it wasn’t very photogenic. And how can humble tofu stand up next to fancy ass crepes?

Oh, and hazelnuts are delicious and crunchy and all, but it’s much more fun to call them filberts. Especially if you say it in the voice of an eighty-year-old woman. Filberts.

VeganMoFo #4: Chickpea Leek Soup


I’ve been sick for a few days and today is grey and rainy, so obviously it’s soup time! I love love love soup. Could eat it every day. Well, at least when it’s cold out, which means about nine months in Chicago. The problem is, Dan and Matilda aren’t so stoked on soup. Usually a loaf of bread and some olive oil for dipping will cure that though. This particular soup I start to crave as soon as fall hits. It’s so velvety and luscious and simple, with just leeks, garlic, potato, and chickpeas. It’s from The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver, only tweaked a little bit to use canned beans, which makes it pretty fast to pull together. (The only other recipe I’ve tried from the book is the basic risotto recipe, which is perfect and I use all the time as a base. It has teeny bits of celery that stay crunchy for a nice contrast.) I’m still a total loser when it comes to photographing soup, so it looks like a mess of yellow goo, but it’s pretty outstanding, especially sprinkled with sea salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and a drizzle of olive oil. The perfect thing to soothe my itchy throat.

Hey, that’s a lot of leeks!

VeganMoFo Day 1: It’s Food, Just Really, Really Small

Recently my friend Mary hosted a mini food party. The original idea was just to make a few tiny, maybe complicated, things, but soon the guest list tripled, and we all panicked that there wouldn’t be enough food. Man were we wrong. There was so much food that even the champion eaters among us met their limits (and by “met their limits” I mean “retreated to the backyard in case they had to puke”). There’s something about making food very small that makes you think you can eat at least twice as much of it. But before the coma set in, everything was really delicious. Some of the highlights (desserts first, of course):

Mary’s chocolate-chip cheesecakes


Megan’s mini apple pies with vanilla ice cream, homemade caramel sauce, and peanuts


Mini root beer floats! With mini straws!


Mary’s lemon cheesecakes


Cass’s cinnamon rolls


Cass’s chocolate-chip cookies. Maybe the best chocolate-chip cookies I’ve ever had.


Megan’s mini trifles. Well, mini might be a bit misleading. The glasses may have been small, but it was still a lot of trifle. I don’t know how she makes that vegan whipped cream (it’s sort of half custard, half whipped cream) but it’s incredible.


Lemon and lime curd tartlets, by me. Awhile ago I threatened to make an entire pie out of just Bryanna’s lemon curd and Soyatoo. This was my not-so-pathetic answer to that desire. So sour, so good.


Megan’s mini burgers


Mary’s sushi, delicious as always

Mini tortilla cups filled with guacamole and garnished with mango and cherry tomato. Mine.


Cherry tomatoes stuffed with mixed olive tapenade, by me. These were a pain in the ass, to say the least. The next time I’m browsing through Martha Stewart’s Hor D’oeuvres Handbook and I say, “Ooh, those are cute,” I have to think about the crazy amount of work involved. Cutting the centers out of a couple of pints of cherry tomatoes takes forever. They sure were tasty though.


Mary’s grilled BLTs with basil mayonnaise


Candice’s twice-baked potatoes (really excellent, especially considering Candice had never even eaten a twice-baked potato before)


The leftovers. Yeah, we might’ve made too much food.

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