Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year from the Veggie Guy!

I just wanted to take a minute to wish you a safe, happy, and abundant New Year!

It's been quite a year for The Veggie Guy - lots of happenings (both fortuitous and challenging), and to be honest, I'm still reeling a bit from the whirlwind of activity.

Still, I'm looking forward to the coming year, and all of the opportunities that are coming down the way.

For instance, I've recently joined a Toastmasters group. Through this, I plan to build my speaking skills (and confidence) so I can start doing vegan cooking demonstrations. I believe this will be a great opportunity to help even more people understand the benefits of a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle.

Also, my vegan cookbook is well underway - although I've published 3 books, I'm looking for a different publisher for the cookbook... I just need a publisher that understands the unique interests and needs of vegetarians and vegans.

So I'm wondering - what do you have planned for 2009? What accomplishments do you intend to achieve? What opportunities are you lining up for personal/professional/ethical/spiritual growth? I'd love to hear what's in store for you in the new year!

Wherever you are, whatever you have planned... I wish you the best of fortune and prosperity in the New Year!

Lee, The Veggie Guy

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blackened Garlic Asparagus

Here's the recipe for the side dish pictured with my Spicy Eggplant Rolls recipe I posted a few days ago.

I usually like my asparagus steamed, with just a bit of Earth Balance vegan butter. But every once in a while, I prefer a side dish that's a little more... well, bad. Not that this side dish is horrible for you... but breaking out the olive oil twice for the same meal was an unusual experience. Let's justify it by just saying it's comfort food.

Anyway, this is a pretty simple recipe, and can easily be completed in about 10 minutes.


Garlic Blackened Asparagus

1 lb fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 tbsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic; saute for 1 minute.

Add asparagus spears; stir to coat with olive oil. Continue to stir fry for 7 minutes.

Add cumin, basil, and crushed red pepper; stir fry for an additional minute.


That's it... crunchy, garlick-y asparagus with an earthy, slightly spicy taste. It's a good accompaniment that stands up to Italian inspired main dishes, especially those using heavy sauces or lots of "cheese".

Oh, and my wife adds that it works great with a glass of chianti... but that it would probably suck with anything sweeter. I tend to stay away from red wines, so I'll defer to her expertise on the matter. After all, pretty much everything goes well with beer. :-)

Completely irrelevant tangent: I was buying some wine for the New Year's festivities.... you know how if you read the back of the label, it will usually say that the wine evokes notes of cherries, strawberries, or whatever? One particular cabernet - I won't divulge the label - stated that the wine "evokes notes of 'old leather'".

Wha~?

I'm thinking of all the times I've thought, "you know, I really wish I had an alcoholic drink that reminded me of an antique belt." Yeah, there aren't many.

Oh well, I guess I'll never be a good wine snob.

Anyway, that's it for today... may you have an enjoyable and safe New Year's Eve and ridiculous abundance and joy in the New Year!

The (No Life After Leather) Veggie Guy

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Social Aspects of Veganism

Laci posted a couple of very good questions a couple of days ago, and I thought I'd address them here.

(By the way, Laci, your link isn't working. If you comment with your blog address or email it to lhrowley AT gmail DOT com, I'll update this post with the link.)

Anyway, here are her questions:

Thanks for the family story! I understand what you mean about being a model, not a punishment. People listen when they are inspired,not when they feel forced. Another question; if Aria (sorry about Samantha) went vegan, would in interfere with her socially as she got older? Also, what do you do when it comes to family dinners and they say "this is what you can bring" but it's kinda light for a main for your self, and you don't want to insult the chef by only eating what you bring? Thanks! =]

If Aria went vegan:

This is definitely one of the touchier aspects of veganism. As a person who had a tough time "fitting in" as a child (hell, I still don't fit in as an adult, but that's another story), I'm quite sympathetic to how veganism could affect her socially.

At least here in the midwest, being vegan is about as "different" as you can get. We live in a city that is nicknamed "Cowtown", so you can imagine that veganism is less than wholeheartedly embraced here. Can you imagine how a kid would feel going to a birthday party and not being able to eat cake or ice cream? I certainly think that it would be a significant social challenge for her. We all know how cruel kids can be...

Here's another aspect of that: If she does make that decision, she's going to have to understand that some kids (and parents) aren't going to get it. I'm anticipating at least a few calls from concerned parents and school staff who think we're forcing that lifestyle on her.

Most of us have read at least one news story about a parent who was charged with child endangerment for forcing the child to adopt a vegan diet. These stories typically paint a horrific picture of a child suffering from severe malnutrition - in some cases, the children have even died as a result of the parents' actions.

These kinds of stories set the stage for people to want to step in and set the child/parents straight. These people are well intentioned, of course, but they mistakenly confuse healthy veganism with the kinds of diets adopted by the crazies you read about in the news.

The challenge here will be for her to be able to explain how a balanced vegan diet offers all of the protein, nutrients, and vitamins needed for proper growth and health. She's also going to have to be prepared for the fact that some people just aren't going to listen, no matter what the facts say.

So there are definitely some troubling social aspects to consider. It's a lot easier for an adult to shrug off mean/stupid comments than it is for a child, who has an innate need to be accepted.

I'd never discourage her from becoming vegan, but I would definitely want to educate her about the types of social issues she's going to have to deal with if and when she makes that decision.

On family dinners:

I've found that if you explain to the host beforehand that you're vegan, they usually won't expect you just to eat a side dish. It's pretty important that you make sure they understand what vegan means, though - many omnis don't know the difference between vegetarians and vegans. (Of course, even if you're vegetarian, there are still those who will ask if you eat fish - they're not being stupid, just misinformed.)

One of the most useful things for me in this situation is to simply point them to my blog for recipe ideas. I've never had a host say outright, "No, I won't try to make a vegan dish." In fact, they usually appreciate the challenge. And it almost always turns out decently.

It can be a little uncomfortable asking a host to cater to your dietary needs as a vegan - in fact, it can feel downright imposing. But think about this - let's say you're hosting a dinner, and one of your guests adheres to a strict kosher diet. Would you tell that person, "Hell no, we're having bacon cheeseburgers and you're going to like it"? I wouldn't. But I would greatly appreciate that person taking the time to educate me, so I could prepare something acceptable.

So I would take the time to educate, offer to bring a dish or two... and then if the host is offended, it's not your fault.


Laci, thanks for your thoughtful questions. It's nice to do more than just post recipes and complain about the Ohio weather. Any of you can feel free to post more questions, and I'll be happy to blog about them. Think of me as your own personal Dear Abby... only bald, grumpy, and vegan.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Spicy Eggplant Rolls

So I've been wanting to try out this recipe for about a week now, but with all the holiday goings on, I just haven't really had time. Well, with a bit of the chaos out of the way, I was finally able to give this a go. (The fact that I was dragging my feet on taking down the tree and clearing the present-opening mess out of the living room might have had a bit to do with it too.)

I'm still calling these "eggplant rolls" even though, as you'll see in a minute, the damned things didn't really "roll" as I had envisioned. So I lose a few points on artfulness.

Anyway, here we go...


Spicy Eggplant Rolls

1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/3" strips and salted on both sides, like so:


3/4 cup Veggie Shreds mozzarella cheese
1/2 medium onion, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips
1/2 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves, stems trimmed
4 tbsp olive oil (not pictured... solely the fault of the Veggie Guy)
Cayenne pepper (also not pictured... not sure who to blame this one on)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Using a kitchen towel, press moisture out of salted eggplant slices. (This removes the bitterness that can ruin the whole shebang).
Fry eggplant slices in olive oil, sprinkling each side with cayenne pepper. 1 - 2 minutes per side is sufficient. You want them soft, not charred.

Place eggplant slices in a large baking dish. Fill half of eggplant slices with spinach leaves, red pepper slices, onion slices, and mozzarella "cheese". Fold in half, and cover with a bit more "cheese".
(Note: I use Veggie Shreds because it more or less melts like real cheese, especially in covered dishes.)



Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.



The finished eggplant rolls pictured above are served with blackened garlic asparagus, which I'll cover in a later post.
The verdict? My wife thought they were quite tasty, and even commented that I should have done a video demonstration instead of just posting pictures. Yeah, that was my original plan, but sometimes these things just don't work out.
I thought they were very good too, although I have to admit I'm miffed about the whole "roll" concept not panning out. I was envisioning something that looked like a sushi roll, only with eggplant.
Softening the eggplant slices requires a bit more oil than I'm used to, but it's still far healthier than, say, eggplant parmesan (or most anything that omnis eat, for that matter).
And, I'm proud to say that this meets the coveted "30 minutes or less" criterion, so you can get this on the table without screwing around in the kitchen all night.
Well, that's about it for the moment... I'm told it's time to but together the 3-story Barbie Dream House I've been putting off. Better go dust off the Dictionary of Colorful Expletives...



Thursday, December 25, 2008

Is My Family Vegan Too?

A quick response to a question posted on my Vegan Mexican Casserole post:

"When you went vegan, did you take your family too?"

Well, yes and no. I guess I'm a little different than some vegans, because I don't have any desire/need to try to force my views on anyone else, even my own family. Call it old age, but I've found over the years that trying to force your views on someone is a pretty good way to get them to do the opposite of what you want.

Instead, I favor the "lead by example" approach. I do what I do, and if someone else is interested, great. If not, then pushing isn't going to help.

When I decided to go from vegetarian to vegan, I sat down with my wife and discussed the changes that would naturally surface as a result of this choice. Since I am the one who spends most of the time in the kitchen, I knew that going vegan might translate into a kind of "force", because I would be cooking and serving vegan meals for the family.

Fortunately, my wife was very supportive of the change, and decided to go vegan with me. Our motivations are primarily health-related, so it wasn't too hard for us both to get on the same page.

Aria, for the most part, is vegetarian by choice. She's old enough to understand that hamburgers come from cows, etc., and she's decided that she doesn't want any part of that. We were vegetarians long before she was born, so she didn't have to deal with any major "omnivore to vegetarian" shift.

Obviously, if and when she decides to go vegan, we'll support that, too. I don't feel it's right for me to tell her that she can't have cheese pizza at school, or ice cream at a friend's party. I know my daughter well enought to understand that this would only foster resentment.

Some of you may disagree with my approach, and I respect that. But I know I don't deal well with having changes forced on me, and I don't think most other people do either. My daughter sure as hell doesn't take kindly to it. My job is to educate and support, and the rest is up to her.

So there you go, a very long-winded answer to a simple question. The support I've received from my family has been wonderful (why else would my wife agree to record my silly videos), and I've been very fortunate that they've been receptive to my journey into veganism.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Vegan Mexican Casserole

Ok, so I did manage to try out a new recipe last night... and since the family is sleeping in this morning, I thought I'd do a quick post.


This vegan Mexican Casserole came in at about 30 minutes - I decided to cheat and use canned vegetables (mostly), so if you're using fresh chopped tomatoes and such, it would probably take considerably longer. Either way, it's well worth the time.



Vegan Mexican Casserole


6 corn tortillas, cut into 1 inch strips
1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
1 small can black olives, sliced
White vinegar
1 tsbp extra virgin olive oil
1 package taco seasoning
1 can golden corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
2 cans diced tomatoes with jalapeno peppers (not drained)
1 package Soyrizo
1 small can diced green chiles
1 package Veggie Shreds Cheddar and Pepperjack "Cheese"




Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In separate bowls, add enough vinegar to cover the onions and olives. Let sit for at least 5 minutes to marinate.

In a medium saucepan, combine tomatoes, black beans, and taco seasoning. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Add olive oil to a medium skillet and brown Soyrizo according to package directions.




Drain olives and onions.



Layer corn tortilla strips, soyrizo, corn, chiles, onions, olives, tomato/black bean mixture, and "cheese" in a casserole dish.

Cover casserole dish and bake for 20 minutes.



As you can see from the picture, my baking-dish-to-plate execution left a bit to be desired. I was envisioning a neat sort of lasagna-like stack, but it all fell apart as soon as it hit the plate. Maybe it was repulsed by the tacky gingham-and-sunflower pattern, which was, I believe, the result of a wedding gift gone awry.



I wish I could say that the green blob appearing here is my made-from scratch guacamole, but the truth is, the avocados at the store were in a pretty sorry state. A few were still green and hard as a brick; the rest were pitifully over-ripe. So I ended up buying the guacamole from the deli. Not bad, I guess. Just not good either.

Okay, time to venture out for some last minute holiday purchases. We had freezing rain last night (I nearly killed myself on the driveway), but strangely, it's back up to about 50 degrees today.

I leave you with a pic of my smug daughter, who had just conned us out of and early gift - Spongebob pajamas. Is it any wonder the kid is spoiled?






Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays from The Veggie Guy


I seem to have done myself in with the Kahlua cheesecake. My wife liked it so well, she talked me into making a couple for work, two for the Christmas shindig at the in-laws, one for my dad... so I've turned into a cheesecake making machine! :flex:

As much as I'm dying to do a video demonstration for my eggplant rolls, the last minute runnings about for the holidays are going to absorb most of my time. So that may just have to wait for a bit. But I'm happy to leave you with that bit of antici-



...


...

......


wait for it...



...





-pation. After all, nothing says Happy Holidays like a chain-smoking transvestite in faux leather.

So today is wrapping up things at work, getting some last minute items taken care of for the business, and possibly, the enjoyment of a frosty alcoholic beverage.

Tomorrow is wrapping presents, running to the store to get wrapping paper/gift bags/tape/bows/whatever else we've forgotten. We let Aria open gifts on Christmas Eve, watch movies, have a glass of wine (Aria gets cherry coke with grenadine), and try to rest up for the day ahead...

Christmas day is driving, driving, eating, driving, eating, driving... with Aria picking up more loot at each stop.

So hopefully I'll be back in the swing of things by Friday. In the meantime, I leave you with a video demonstration for Chocolate Espresso Truffle Pie.



Whatever you're celebrating this season, I wish you good times, safe travels, and excellent company!

- Lee, The Veggie Guy

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Recipe: Vegan Kahlua Cheesecake

Could it be? The Veggie Guy... Captain Savoury, Defender of the Cayenne Pepper, Enemy of All Things Sweet and Yummy... has baked something?!


Well, don't get too excited - it's just a cheesecake. A vegan cheesecake, but still...


(And before we get into all this... yeah, I know there's a bit of debate over whether Kahlua is really vegan. This site says it is. So I'm going with it.)


Okay, so here's the roundup:


1 graham cracker crust (Arrrowhead mills makes a ready-to go crust that is vegan. If you want to make your own, feel free.)

1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips

1 tbsp En-R-G egg replacer

2 tbsp turbinado sugar

1/4 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp Earth Balance non-dairy butter

1 cup (8 oz) Tofutti vegan sour cream

16 oz (2 packages) Tofutti vegan cream cheese

1/2 cup Kahlua


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Soften Tofutti cream cheese (I was in a hurry, so I cut it into chunks and microwaved it for 1 minute).


In a medium saucepan, combine chocolate chips, Earth Balance, and Kahlua. Melt on medium heat, stirring frequently.


Mix En-R-G egg replacer, turbinado sugar, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Add Tofutti sour cream and mix with a fork. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth.


Pour in 3/4 of the melted chocolate mixture and blend.


Pour mixture into pie crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes.


Remove from oven, let set for 15 minutes. Drizzle some of the chocolate mixture over the cheesecake. If you want to get all artsy about it, sprinkle chocolate shavings on top.


Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until you can't stand it any longer and have to tear into the cheesecake with your bare hands.


Do I have documentation of my foray into dessert making?


Yes indeed:


So there ya go. The Veggie Guy has made dessert, and the kitchen didn't implode. Perhaps I'm turning over a new leaf. Or I could just regain my sanity before I do something really dangerous, like baking bread...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Avocados for Fat Loss?

I was having a discussion (as it often happens) with a couple of omnivorous friends yesterday about the relative merits of vegetarian vs. omnivore diets. This happens a lot - when people find out I'm vegan, they typically want to talk me out of it, as if I've just had my head up my arse for all these years, waiting for someone to come along and enlighten me.

Quite a bit of the discussion was pretty rote, at least for me, but one comment stuck out in my mind:

My friend, a diehard meat eater, said, "meat isn't any worse for you than vegetables. Just look how fattening avocados are!"

I thought the statement a little odd, but really, that's the conventional wisdom in the omnivorous world. Avocados contain a high amount of fat; therefore, they are fattening.

So, discounting the niggle about an avocado being a vegetable (it's not - it's actually a large berry), I thought I'd do a little digging, and see if that statement really had any merit.

Well, it turns out that a medium avocado has about 30 grams of fat - as much as one of those fast food quarter pound hamburgers. That's quite a bit, especially since keeping fat intake down is a central tenet for most weight loss and health programs.

But eating an avocado and eating a hamburger are not the same thing.

Animal fats are saturated fats - meaning that they contribute to low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, which cause the body to store these fats, rather than use them to reduild cells and detoxify the body. It also increases the risk for heart disease.

Avocado fats are monounsaturated - the "good" fats that supply high density lipoprotein (HDL), which lowers cholesterol and reduces the chance of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats are easily assimilated by the body and turned into raw energy. In other words, the body knows what to do with these fats... so it doesn't shove them off to pad your butt.

Also, avocados contain the enzyme lipase, which actually breaks down fat that is stored in the body. So not only do avocados not contribue to weight gain, they actually facilitate fat loss.

(Now, don't get the idea that you're going to drop a couple of dress sizes in a week by shoveling down avocados day and night. The fat burning effects of lipase are rather mild - this is something that you can see happen over months, not days.)

Finally, organic avocados contain enzymes such as protease which detoxify the body. Because toxins are stored with excess fat, these toxins are released into your body when the excess fat is burned. This can cause bloating and water retention (both are a really great time). Protease works to eliminate these toxins, helping you achieve steady weight loss.

So am I saying that the avocado is a "superfood" for weight loss? No, not really. To achieve rapid weight loss, you'd pretty much have to eat the things exclusively for weeks on end. I'd wager that you'd forever swear off anything green before you'd see results worthy of a spot on the cover of People Magazine.

Plus, I'm always a little leery of "superfood" claims anyway - most of these claims are artfully spun by some guy trying to, say, figure out what the hell to do with a crate of dried goji berrys. Antioxidants? Ah-ha! Goji berries are now the key to eternal life! But I digress...

Superfood or not, I think it's safe to say that avocados are not the hip-bulging beasts that most of us think. And you certainly can't compare them to a slab of meat, in my opinion.

I eat them pretty much every day. And I just recently got back the results of a screening I had to do at a health fair for work (well, it was either that or take a 20% hike on my health insurance). My cholesterol is in the low-normal range, and my HDL levels are in the high-normal range. I was scored as a low risk for heart disease.

And if you've seen my videos, you know I'm not at any risk of being called "chunky" anytime soon....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Spinach Pomegranate Salad

One of the things I like best about this time of year is the availablity of pomegranates. The seeds from these fruits are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, as well as betacarotene, making them a great nutritional source. Plus, they're downright tasty!


So I decided to whip up a salad using pomegranate seeds. Trouble is, it turned out so wonderfully that I forgot to take a pic before we devoured it. (The fact that my daughter was using the digital camera to chronicle the adventures of her Barbie dolls didn't help the matter either.



But anyway, here you go.





Spinach Pomegranate Salad





1 lb baby spinach leaves, torn into pieces
1/2 lb watercress sprigs, chopped
Seeds from 1 large pomegranate (remove bitter white membranes)
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp agave nectar
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tbsp black pepper



Mix spinach, watercress, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts in a large salad bowl.



Mix olive oil, rice vinegar, agave nectar, and lime juice. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to combine.



Sprinkle black pepper on salad mix, and pour in dressing. Mix well and serve.


I don't usually post salad recipes in the winter, but this salad is a great choice with a hot bowl of soup.





Visit this post to find out how you can help the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Alagille's Syndrome Alliance without spending a penny. I'd be eternally grateful!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Contest for the Alagille's Syndrome Alliance

First, my apologies for not posting a new recipe for a few days. I've gotten mired in a ghostwriting project - one of those "what the fvck was I thinking" projects. Bah. New recipe coming soon, I promise.

Ok, so on to my rediculously off-topic post. As some of you know, my daughter has Alagille's Syndrome, a rare, life-threatening disease. She's been through 8 surgeries (including open heart surgery when she was 6 months old) in her 5 years... with more to come.

I'm participating in a contest to donate to the Alagille Syndrome Alliance, a non-profit that supports research for a cure for this disease, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which was kind enough to send us to Disney World last year. Basically, I've submitted a post to a new social bookmarking site, and the post that gets the most 5-star votes wins a cash prize.

So if you'd like to help, it would be greatly appreciated. Here's the link to my post - all you need to do is go to the site, register (just make up a username and password - no email address required), and then visit the post and rate it 5 stars. The rating bar is above the image in my post.

My goal is to get 500 5-star votes by next Tuesday (Dec. 16) at midnight EST, when the contest ends. If you can pass this along to anyone who might be willing to vote, it would be a great help.

Pimping of this post is also much appreciated!

Hopefully, you've never heard of Alagille's Syndrome before... but as you can guess, this is a very important thing for me. One day, I hope to see a cure for this disease... and perhaps this contest will help me do my part in facilitating a cure.

Thanks for your help! (And again, I'll get back to vegan recipes very soon!)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Vegan Black Bean Soup

Man alive, it's freezing here in Ohio! So it's time for a nice winter soup... this time, I've chosen black bean soup. Spicy, hearty, and thoroughly yummy, this soup has become a staple of our winter fare.

It's also pretty easy to make - it easily falls into the coveted "under 30 minutes" category, which makes me a pretty happy guy.

So, without further nonsense, here's a happy (and I mean Bob Ross happy) little recipe to brighten these crappy winter days.

Vegan Black Bean Soup

4 cans vegetable broth
2 cans black beans
1 can chili hot beans
1 can golden corn
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 stalks celery
2 poblano peppers, chopped
1 medium red onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1/3 tbsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 cup long grain brown rice, uncooked
vegan shredded cheese (optional)

Pour 1 can black beans, 1 can vegetable broth, and 1 can tomatoes into a blender; blend until smooth.

Place remainder of ingredients (except for shredded cheese) into a large stock pot; bring to a boil. Add mixture from blender, return to boil. Lower heat to medium and let cook for 20-25 minutes or until rice and vegetables have cooked through.

Serve with vegan shredded cheese, if desired.

Now, I know you're expecting some pithy statement, silly sidebar, or nugget of nonsense... but I've got stuff to do, so I'm going to take it easy with the crapola tonight. So all you get is a recipe. Consider yourself duly shortchanged.

Oh, I noticed that my recipe for Vegan Seitan with Sesame Garlic Sauce was featured on several blogs over the past few days. Hell, Digg it, StumbleUpon it, whatever... I'm happy to spread the garlicky goodness.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

With the holidays looming near, I'm finding myself in the mood for chocolate chip cookies. Thing is, it's pretty tough to just stop by the local supermarket and buy a batch of vegan chocolate chip cookies. Sure, they've got them at Whole Foods, but I'm just not impressed with what they offer.

So I decided to make my own vegan chocolate chip cookies. After scouring the internet for ideas on how to make cookies that don't suck, I ran across this video. I more or less followed the recipe, the cookies were pure yumminess, and even my non-vegan friends liked them.

I didn't have the foresight to make a video of my endeavor, so I decided to just post the video I used. Enjoy!




Oh, by the way, the lovely lady in this video has, among other resources, a great vegan blog. Go check it out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vegan Seitan Stir Fry with Sesame Garlic Sauce

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I'm rather partial to Iron Chef sauces. Most of them are vegan, and they take a heck of a lot of work out of making stir frys.

I'm sure there are some purists that would shake their heads at my little shortcuts, but hey... I'm a working guy with a family. If I can make a tasty vegan meal without spending hours in the kitchen, then by Cthulhu, I'll do it!

Today's recipe is a stupidly simple one, with relatively few ingredients. Aside from steaming the rice, this dish took all of 15 minutes to put together. That gave me plenty of time to play Candy Land with the kidlet, floss my cat, and spend some time on some of my other hairbrained endeavors.

So here we go:

Vegan Seitan Stir Fry with Sesame Garlic Sauce

1 package chicken style seitan, drained
1 large crown (about 2 cups) fresh broccoli, cut into florets
1 bunch scallioned, sliced
1 can Asian style baby corn
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bottle Iron Chef Sesame Garlic Sauce
1/2 tbsp Korean Chili Sauce (It has a rooster on the label - I have no idea why)
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 cup uncooked brown long grain rice

Cook rice according to package directions. In my world, this actually means according to the little instruction booklet that came with my rice cooker - 1 cup of water in the rice, 1 1/2 cups water in the steamer, cook for about an hour. I tend to start the rice well before I get anything else ready... usually even before I go to the store to pick up whatever ingredients I've forgotten.

Pour olive oil in a wok or large skillet; heat on medium high for 1 minute. Add seitan; stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the remainder of the vegetables. Continue to stir fry for about 5 minutes. (Any longer, and the broccoli tends to get a bit icky.)

Turn heat to low; add chili sauce and tamari. Stir for about 30 seconds. Add Sesame Garlic sauce; stir for another 30 seconds.

Serve over brown rice.

One tip I should give: I listed the measurement of the Korean Chili Sauce as 1/2 tbsp. In case you're new here, I like things hot. Maybe not quite as hot as when I was young and thought I was cool... but hot nonetheless. 1/2 tbsp puts you comfortably in the "my forehead is sweating" range. Any more than that, and you're probably approaching "my head just blew clean off" territory. Just sayin'.

Incidentally, you may be wondering about the egg roll in the picture. Egg roll = "made with eggs" = not vegan, right?

Usually, yes. But Health is Wealth makes a pretty good vegan egg roll. We have a local store called Raisin Rack that carries them; I have no idea where else you can find them. Maybe Whole Foods? If you can find them, though, they're well worth the extra buck or two you'll pay (and if you shop for vegan foods, you should be used to this by now).

So there you go. Vegan Seitan Stir Fry with Sesame Garlic Sauce... just the kick to warm the cockles of your heart as the weather turns downright dismal.

(Irrelevant tangent: I grew up with the phrase "warm the cockles of your heart"... but never really considered what it meant. For an overly nerdy explanation, go visit World Wide Words, where you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about this weird little idiom.)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Where the Heck Do I Find That Spice?!

With various other projects running amuck, I've had very little time to devote to new recipes. (Boo...)

But I did want to share a website I stumbled on, called MySpiceSage.com. It's become my go to site for those times (and there are many) when I see a great recipe and go, "Where the heck do I find that spice?!"





Garam masala for Indian dishes? Check.

Smoked Spanish paprika? Check. (Don't remember what I needed that for, but when I figure it out, I've got smoked Spanish paprika!)

Star anise? Check.

I think this could get rather dangerous... :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vegan Huevos Rancheros (and a brief poll)

There's a brief poll at the end of this post. If you would be kind enough to give your opinion in comment form, it would be much appreciated (even if I don't like what you have to say...)


Ok, so no video today... My old Dell laptop (yes, it was old at the ripe age of 3) crapped out its hard drive, so I've been furiously trying to save files and import them to its replacement (an ACER Extensa 4420... at just over $400, this thing was a steal)...

But I digress.

Today's recipe is all about comfort food... you know, those meals that make things better, no how crappy your day has been. We've all got 'em... and since I'm still working through the batch of chili I made a while back, it was time to veganize one of my other favorite comfort foods...

Huevos rancheros.

I wasn't sure how to tackle this one, but it turned out to be fairly easy. About the worst thing I can say is that it takes several skillets, which is usually a no-no in my world. But hey, sometimes a bit of comfort food is worth it. So here we go...

Vegan Huevos Rancheros

2 corn tortillas
Olive oil
1/2 package Morningstar Farms Soyrizo
1/2 package firm tofu, drained, pressed, and crumbled
1/3 medium red onion, finely diced
1 roma tomato, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/3 tbsp cayenne pepper, ground
Fresh guacamole

Place tofu in a medium skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Heat for 5-7 minutes on medium heat.

In a separate skillet, brown the Soyrizo in 1 tbsp olive oil.

Place 2 tbsp olive oil in yet another skillet, heat. Fry corn tortillas for about 1 minute on each side, transfer to serving plates.

Place a layer of Soyrizo crumbles on each tortilla, then top with tofu mixture.

Layer on onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, and cilantro. Top with guacamole.


Good for your body? Probably not (although much beter than the omni version).

Good for your soul? Boy howdy!


Speaking of "good for the soul", VeggieGirl did a post on yeast-free sweetbreads. Ah, the siren call of carbs run amok...


Ok, so here's the poll.

The Veggie Guy is kicking around the idea of adding a cookbook to his list of endeavors. Obviously, this would be a collection of vegan recipes, but I want to focus on meals that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. If I published such a book, would you most likely:

A) Buy it
B) Borrow it
C) Steal it
D) Recommend it to a friend
E) Roll your eyes and chuckle
F) Say, "Please, I have enough cookbooks already. I need room for groceries, hombre!"
G) Flat out advise me against such a hoopleheaded endeavor?

So let's hear it! If none of the above apply, make something up, or just say, "Meat."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Quick Baba Ghannouj Demo

The Veggie Guy and his imp-ish sidekick, Aria, return with a kinder, gentler demonstration on making baba ghannouj for fun and profit - or at least for a tasty snack with pita chips.






In case you don't have time to follow along (or you've seen enough of my videos to realize they're complete rubbish), here's the breakdown:

Vegan Baba Ghannouj

2 eggplants (aubergines)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 cup soy milk
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tahini
1/3 tsp ground cayenne pepper (BIG surprise!)
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

With a large knife, make several slits in each eggplant to keep them from exploding in the oven (believe me, I've had it happen. Nothing like a late-night date with a can of oven cleaner).

Place eggplants directly on top oven rack and bake for 50 minutes, turning every 10-15 minutes to make sure eggplant is roasted thoroughly. Remiove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

De-stem and peel skin from eggplants. Cut eggplant flesh into 1/2 inch cubes, transfer to blender.

Add soy milk, garlic, olive oil, cumin, cayenne pepper, tahini, and garlic to eggplant. Puree for 60-90 seconds.

Pour into serving bowls. If desired, chill for 30 minutes before serving.

So there you go. No shennanigans, no pumpkin roadkill... just a tasty Mediterranean dip with a nice little kick. Aren't you proud of me? :-)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Vegan Pumpkin Crepes

Wow... Pumpkin Crepes to get in the Autumn spirit...and Criss Angel makes a guest appearance on the Veggie Guy show! Find out what happens when Criss attempts his most dangerous stunt ever!



So anyway, here's the recipe for Pumpkin Crepes:

Batter:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp maple syrup

Filling:

1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp melted vegan chocolate chips

Topping:

1 Bartlett pear
1/4 cup soy milk

Mix together batter ingredients, and let sit for 10 minutes. Run over Criss Angel. Mix together pumpkin filling ingredients, except for chocolate.

Spoon batter into olive-oil sprayed medium skillet, spreading to make a thin crepe. Cook for 3 minutes; flip. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer to serving plates.

Spread pumpking filling along center of crepes. Melt vegan chocolate chips in microwave for 90 seconds. Spread over pumpkin filling. Fold crepe into thirds.

Puree pears and soy milk, allowing large chunks of pear to remain. Spoon over crepes. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Autumn Vegan Tacos with Roasted Corn Tomatillo Salsa

Ok, so here's my first shot at video blogging. As it were, my 5-year-old daughter was the only available camera-person, so it's a pretty... interesting video. So take it in context. My wife tells me she'll help out with future video blogging efforts, so long as I give her a bit of advance notice.



Autumn Veggie Tacos with Roasted Corn Tomatillo Salsa

Tacos:

4 corn tortillas, taco size
1 cup asparagus, trimmed
1 cup yellow squash, diced
1/2 large jalapeno, diced
1/3 xup red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped portabella mushrooms
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp groud cumin
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp olive oil
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and mashed


Salsa

1 can yellow corn, drained
3 large tomatillos, husked and diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/32 jalapeno pepper, diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Drain corn; empty onto kitchen towel. Press dry with a second kitchen towel. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray; arrange corn in a single layer; bake for 15 minutes.

Combine olive oil, asparagus, yellow squash, red bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno. Stir fry on medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.

Meanwhile, mash together avocado, cumin, and cayenne. Set aside.

Combine chopped tomatillos, cilantro, 2 cloves chopped garlic, and lime juice in a medium bowl. Place in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to combine.

Warm tortillas in a microwave for 30 seconeds, or steam for 2 minutes to soften.

Fill tortillas with vegetable mixture; top with avocado mixture. Serve with tortilla chips and corn-tomatillo salsa.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lentil Walnut Veggie Burgers - Video

I found this clip from "Before and After" on how to make lentil walnut veggie burgers. I haven't tried it yet, but I thought I'd share.





I'll be giving this a shot sometime over the next week (doing a little veganizing, of course), and I'll post my own results here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Non-Smoking Update - 1 Week!

So a week ago, I posted my official announcement that I, The Veggie Guy, quit smoking.

As you might have guessed, I did it as much to give myself a sense of accountability, as to bore the hell out of my readers.

Seriously... for you smokers - how many times have you thought, "I'll quit, and then I'll tell everyone, just in case it doesn't stick"? I'll tell you, I played that stupid game many times. And you know what happened? I'd find an excuse not to quit smoking, because there really wasn't any embarrassment, any real accountability.

So that's why I blathered on about my official quit smoking date. Even though I've never met most of you in person, I thought of you every time the craving for a cigarette hit. And I knew that sooner or later one of you would ask, "So how's that non-smoking thing going?"

But since none of you have done that (*sob*), I'll ask it myself. :-)

"So how's that non-smoking thing going?"

Quite well, thank you. Really, getting through the habit changes once (driving to work without a cigarette, having a cup of coffee without a cigarette, etc.) was enough to make it stick. Of course, the simple act of wanting to quit was far more powerful than any gum, patch, pill, psychological trick, or anything else. Trust me, I've "tried" to quit dozens of times when I really didn't have the desire.

So a week has come and gone, with little more than a passing thought of smoking. The thought of being around to watch my daughter grow up; to grow old with my wonderful wife; and maybe even to teach a few people a bit about healthier living - these things are far important to me than the "privilege" of filling my lungs with disease-causing crap.

Anyhoo, that's it. One week down, the rest of my life to go. :-)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tarragon Stuffed Eggplant

My wife has been bugging me to make stuffed eggplant for a while now... it was a staple of our menu a couple of years ago, but for some reason, I had forgotten about it.

I've made a few changes from the old version... I used to use soy sauce (probably out of a lack of imagination more than anything else), but for this version, I substituted tarragon vinegar and added fresh chopped sage.

The old version also involved stir-frying the filling before stuffing and baking the eggplants. I dunno - maybe I was afraid of getting Mad Mushroom Disease. Anyway, I skipped this step, and it greatly improved the dish.

Enough blathering...


Tarragon Stuffed Eggplant

1 large eggplant (aubergine), cut in half lengthwise
2 baby portabella or 2 large white button mushrooms, chopped
1/3 cup orange bell pepper, chopped
1 large roma tomato, chopped
2 tbsp fresh chopped sage
1/3 cup tarragon vinegar
2 oz vegan mozzarella"cheese"
1/2 tsp dried parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Scoop out flesh from eggplant halves, chop coarsely and place in a large bowl. Mix mushrooms, orange bell pepper, tomatoes, and sage with the chopped eggplant. Add tarragon vinegar and mix well.

Stuff eggplant shells with vegetable and mushroom mixture. Place stuffed eggplant sells on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle dried parsley over top and serve.
Sprinkle vegan "cheese" on top and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's Chili Season! (a little early, but still...)

Ok, it's mid-September... and in Ohio, that means really screwy weather. You know, the kind where you run the heater on the way to work/school in the morning, and the air conditioner on the way home. This is the season when you take a jacket and a t-shirt with you no matter what.

Mid-September also means one scrawny, middle-aged vegan is itching to make the season's inaugural batch of chili. Really, I try to wait until the leaves start falling and you can *shoof* through them in the yard... but it never happens that way.

This year, I have home-grown habanero and jalapeno peppers, so I was even more anxious than usual.

Now, I never make chili the same way twice... this time I opted to use soyrizo... and as much as I generally dislike meat analogues, this turned out pretty tasty. Too bad I forgot pics... but I'll get 'em tonight and update the post.

Also, I tend to favor crockpot-friendly varieties. There's nothing like coming home and having comfort food ready to eat!


Vegan Soyrizo Crockpot Chili

1 12-oz package Morningstar Farms Soyrizo, crumbled
1 40-oz jug tomato juice (alternately, I sometimes use V8 Hot & Spicy)
4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 habanero pepper, seeded and finely minced (wear kitchen gloves!)
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 can light kidney beans, drained
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can sweet yellow corn, drained
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp turmeric

Optional for garnish:

chopped fresh cilantro
Veggie Shreds cheddar "cheese"
Tofutti vegan sour cream

Add all ingredients to a large crockpot and stir. Cook on high for 4 hours; then turn on low and cook an additional 2-3 hours. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with cilantro, Veggie Shreds and Tofutti sour cream, and enjoy!

Note: Ok, you have probably guessed that I like my chili pretty damned hot. Really, you could probably get away without the habanero just fine... but I think it imparts a distinctive flavor in chili, if you don't mind the heat.

Let Chili Season 2008 begin!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"The Vegan 100", or," Why is the Veggie Guy Being a Slacker?"

Really, I will get a recipe in here soon. I really will. But right now, I'm woefully unmotivated and just feel the need to blather about something inconsequential.

Enter The Vegan 100. I got it from Vegan Deliciousness, who got it from Bitter Sweet, who channeled it through a spirit who would only be identified as "Disco Joe".

Ok, maybe I made that last part up.

Anyway, I'm a little late in the game with this ("The Vegan 100 is so, like, last week") but this just further solidifies my position as "uncool dad" and perhaps even "rogue nerd".

So here we go:

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis - I almost crossed this out, but you never know... I could get stuck in a fallout shelter with a Scotsman someday.
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite - Hell, damnation, morning breath, and teal carpet, that stuff's bad!
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush - yum. and I finally got the hand of making my own. Wanna see? Mebbe I'll post it.
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes - yes, I even made some! (It was quite dreadful.)
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper - thankfully, access to these was limited back when I was stupid enough to try that.
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar
29. Baklava
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas
32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider My late friend Elrick Morningstar used to make it... Valhalla rest his soul.
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries - a personal weakness of mine.
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - yeah, and I have to say I've had $10 plonk that was just as good. Guess I'll never make a good wine snob.
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi - Yes! And it even comes with free weird looks!
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. PiƱa colada - only once. As far as I'm concerned, alcohol and coconut should never mingle.
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe - Another relic of my misspent youth
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes - Boy howdy! Er, I meant, mon deiu, these are good!
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers - um, eaten? No! Wait... I mean yes!
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough

So there you go. More than half... who says vegans can't be adventurous?!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Interesting program

I was shocked to find this among my posts:

(Links obscured. If you really want to pay somebody to tell you how to make a million bucks by this time tomorrow, I'm sure you can find willing parasites accomplices.)
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As it turns out, some douche waffle from the Copywriter's Board hacked my gmail account and sent this crap to my entire contact list. And since I've posted via email a time or two, it showed up here as a post.

Nice.

It also went to a number of my copywriting clients, so I've been doing a lot of damage control with that.

So anyway, rather than take it down, I figured I'd leave it here as a neatly framed testament that SPAM is alive and well on the internet. And, unfortunately, so are the people who serve up this poo.

Bah!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Omnivore vs. Vegetarian Digestion Speed Comparison

So, living in the heart of the Midwest as I do, it only makes sense that I'm going to find myself in a, um, discussion here and there about my vegan lifestyle. Some people are genuinely curious, and some (of course) are just out for blood. (Pun intended.)

Anyway, one question that a friend-of-a-friend asked was whether vegetarians digested food faster than omnivores. I should have asked her for the reasoning behind the question, I guess... I assume it has something to do with the myth that vegetarians are perpetually hungry. Good question, anyway.

The thing is, how fast food is digested really doesn't have much to do with it - the vast majority of the digestion process takes place in the intestines, not the stomach. So whether vegetarians digest food faster or slower than omnivores doesn't have much of an effect on how often they feel hungry.

Now, as far as the omnivore vs. vegetarian digestion speed comparison issue, all the research materials I can find suggest that plant foods are quite a bit tougher to break down than animal flesh, so it takes your body longer to digest plant based foods. It appears that's why humans have intestinal tracts that are quite a bit longer than strictly carniverous animals, but shorter than those of strictly vegetarian animals.

So, for all practical purposes, it seems that the digestion process is actually slower for vegetarians than for omnivores. This is assuming, of course, that we're talking about a vegetarian that primarily eats plant foods, rather than one who primarily eats Twinkies and potato chips. Processed foods are, of course, excellent straight-to-fat vehicles that don't require a whole lot of consideration from your digestive tract.

To the extent that digestion speed actually matters, the slow process of plant food digestion faciliatates even, long term energy, while the faster process of animal flesh digestion provides faster (but shorter-lasting) energy. I suppose that makes sense from a practical perspective, too (or at least it did, once upon a time) - hunters of old needed quicker energy to keep from becoming dinner themselves, while gatherers needed long-term energy to search for edible vegetation.

Although, to me, it's largely an academic question, I still enjoyed researching it... and maybe the slower digestion of plant-based foods does partially account for why I started feeling better, and having more consistent energy, when I went vegan. I plan on doing additional research, though, to see if this digestion issue has other implications.

The "vegetarians are always hungry" thing is still a sham, though. I mean take around my blog, and the others on my blogroll. There are enough amazing recipes to try something new every day for years! Many of us have a backlog of things we're waiting for the chance to try out.... how many carnivores do you know that can say that? :-)

The Veggie Guy Quits Smoking!

Seriously. I'm a charlatan.

All this hoopla about healthy eating, and all along I've been doing something to my body that is as bad, if not worse, than living on fast food.

Yup. Cigarettes.

It's pretty interesting how the human mind can rationalize all sorts of crazy shit in the interest of staying in its comfort zone. I mean, what person in the developed world doesn't know that cigarettes wreck your body, pollute the environment, and just generally suck ass?

And yet, it was always "okay", because:

  • I only smoked outside
  • I was eating good food to make up for it
  • I could quit whenever I wanted
  • It would be far worse if I was out drinking and crashing cars instead
  • I always kept it under a pack a day
  • I'm still relatively young

Never mind the fact that I felt like the south end of a goat every morning when I lit that first cigarette. Never mind that cigarettes contain acetone, formaldehyde, arsenic, benzene, hydrogen cyanide (gas chamber poison) and a host of other nasty chemicals. It's easy to forget about all of that when you wake up and your body is screaming for nicotine.

Then there were all the times I would have to drop everything and go have a smoke, no matter what the weather or what had to be put on hold. It was more important for me to stand out in the snow in January, trying to light a cigarette with half-frozen fingers, than it was to start another game of Chutes and Ladders with my daughter. She would understand.

*facepalm*

Well, anyway, today I finally declare myself free from the idiocy. Few things are more important than my health, and I can no longer pretend that smoking and having good health are concurrently possible.

So I'm done. I quit.

Actually, I quit about 1:00 PM yesterday... but since this is my first full non-smoking day, I'll call this my quit date.

And you know what? I'm not ready to mangle somebody like I thought I would. I'm not even really any more irritable than usual. (I mean, come on - I am a curmudgeon-in-training.) Getting to sleep last night was kinda tough, but a short meditation (and the ousting of a couple of daredevil cats) fixed that.

You do bump up against all kinds of situations that remind you of the "smoker programming", though. I woke up this morning and started to head outside out of habit. Then I just kind of went, "Oh, right, I don't do that anymore", and went in the kitchen and made a smoothie instead. Then, the drive to work. Then, the morning coffee run. Then, the daily "meeting", which was just an excuse for the department to go out to smoke.

Funny how a smoker's brain associates everything s/he does with a cigarette. What's even more interesting, though, is how freaked out the human mind gets when the prospect of changing those associations is introduced. "What?! Drive to work without a cigarette? I'll get stuck in traffic and have nothing to do and end up dragging someone out of his car and and and..."

Uh, yeah.

Now for all of that fear, here's what really happened:

I got in the car, drove out of the subdivision, got on the freeway, and ended up in a traffic jam (big surprise). Oddly, though, instead of committing battery, I plugged my iPod into the stereo and cued up a collection of Mussorgsky compositions. ("The Great Gate at Kiev" makes it kinda hard to get too mad about anything; "Night on Bald Mountain" just makes me silly.) In about 3 minutes, traffic started moving again, and I made it to work with no altercations whatsoever.

Not so bad.

So now, it becomes not so much about "getting through my day" as "getting my life back". I can handle all of the little habit changes. It's worth it to start getting my health back.

Goodbye, Marlboro. Don't let the door hit you in the ass. Or do. Whatever.

I'm done with you.

Note: Sorry about the irrelevant tangent/post. I know this is a vegan blog, and this post had absolutely nothing to do with veganism. But it is about optimal health, in a rather convoluted way.

Maybe somebody out there wants to quit with me today. If you've been thinking about quitting, I challenge you to speak up and make your decision known.

We now return you to your regular Veggie Guy, already in progress.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Vegan recipe: Veggie Chick'n Taquitos with Guacamole

Hey, whaddaya know? The Veggie Guy has posted a recipe for the first time in... well, too danged long. Really, it's a pretty simple recipe, but it turned out very well.

Okay, first, the guacamole.

I have a confession to make - I've always used those seasoning packets from the produce aisle - you know, mash 2 avocados, add the seasoning packet, and... instant guacamole.

But tonight, I decided to make guacamole from scratch. Here are the ingredients (minus the tomatoes, which were fashionably late for the event):



Clockwise from top: 2 monster avocados (really, these were the biggest danged avocados I've seen in a while), 2 cloves of garlic, a few sprigs of cilantro, a red jalapeno, a small red onion, and a jar of cumin. As I mentioned, 2 roma tomatoes showed up just after the picture was taken. Prima donnas...

Step 1: Peel and mash the avocados.



Step 2: Dice 1 roma tomato, about 1/2 of 1 small red onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 jalapeno, and cilantro. Add all ingredients , plus 1/2 tbsp cumin, to avocado.


Step 3: Mash all ingredients with a fork and mix. Put in a bowl and refrigerate for 1/2 hour to allow flavors to combine.


Now for the taquitos:

1/2 package Morningstar Farms Veggie Chick'n Strips

4 small flour tortillas

1/2 tbsp adobo seasoning powder

4 oz. Veggie Shreds cheddar and pepperjack flavored soy cheese

1 roma tomato, diced

1 red jalapeno, diced

1/3 tbsp olive oil

4 oz beer (or whatever you don't drink while cooking)

1/2 small red onion, diced


In a medium skillet or wok, add olive oil, Veggie Chick'n strips, adobo seasoning, jalapeno, 1/2 of the diced red onion, and beer. Cook over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes.



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

At this point, my 5-year-old daughter confiscated the camera and snapped a shot of the Veggie Guy in his favorite place in the house:


Place 1/4 of the Veggie Chick'n in each tortilla, add Veggie Shreds. Roll into taquitos and place in a baking dish. Bake for 5 minutes.

Serve with diced tomatoes, remaining red onions, vegan sour cream, and guacamole. (Kroger had Tofutti vegan sour cream on sale for $1.88 today!)

So there you go. The Veggie Guy has resurrected, like the proverbial phoenix or Jesus or that guy from the Evil Dead series... Only I make way better guacamole.


The Garden of Evil

This year marks the first time I have tried to grow anything since I helped my dad with his garden some 20 years ago. I decided to just start out with some peppers. While the harvest is a bit light, I'm happy to say that I do have some peppers to incorporate into my recipes.

First, the cayenne peppers:


Next up, jalapenos. I let these ripen a bit longer than I intended - jalapenos turn red when fully ripe - but I've read that red jalapenos have a slightly sweeter, more complex taste than the standard green jalapenos. I'm making Mexican tonight, so we shall see:


These are Peruvian purple peppers. I chose these on a whim, and I'm really not sure what to do with them. But rest assured, I will figure something out:





Finally, the kings of evil - habanero peppers. Out of all the varieties, these seemed to do the best. Mind you, I only use one of these in a whole batch of chili, so I really don't know how I'm going to use all of them.


So there you go... my Garden of Evil. I'll be using these in recipes in the next couple of weeks (although I might dry most of the cayenne peppers and use a coffee grinder to make cayenne powder).
All hail the mighty power of capsacin!











Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Coming around...

Hey all,

Well, with a lot of help from my wife, I've finally started getting back in the kitchen. I have to say, my culinary skills are a bit rusty, but they're coming around.

And... I have finally caught up with the times (well, sorta...) by springing for a new digital camera. It's a bit laughable, really... my digital camera was about 6 years old, with 2 megapixels and a capacity of 4 megabytes. It took AA batteries, for crying out pete's sakes!

Ok, I'm still learning how to use the new one. But I think you'll see some less crappy pics in the coming weeks. :-)

What else... Oh! I'm currently working on my fourth book, entitled The Vegetarian's Guide to Las Vegas. It features vegetarian and vegan options in all (well, most) of the restaurants along the Strip, in the Fremont Street/Downtown section, and in the off-Strip hotels.

It's been really great to talk to the chefs of these restaurants, and many of them have been quite willing to discuss off-menu vegetarian/vegan creations they can provide for guests.

Why the heck am I writing this book? Well, the first time my wife and I went to Vegas, I nearly starved! I mean, I had a great time, but the vegan options weren't well-featured. Vegas has a gazillion upscale restaurants, and unfortunately, the town equates "upscale" with "tons of meat".

When I first started writing the book, I wondered if I would have enough information to merit an entire book on the subject. Turns out, I have enough material for over 500 pages, so I'm going to have to narrow it down a bit.

The other thing that is slowing the process down is that I'm seeking a new publisher for this one. The company that published my first three books is strictly interested in "how-to" works, so this one really doesn't fit with their objectives. I'm negotiating with two publishers right now, but if any of you can think of one that would be a good fit, I'd love to hear about it.

Well, that's all for now... back to trying to figure out this camera. [curmudgeon] Danged electronical contraptions... [/curmudgeon]

Monday, June 23, 2008

Holy Mother of Tofu... It's been a long time

Well guys and gals, just wanted to let you all know that I am still among the living - more or less.

The surgery was mostly a success. By that, I mean it did what it was intended to do, which was to prevent further damage to my spinal cord. But nothing comes without a price.

Aside from the drugs I've had to take for pain, which have had effects ranging from moderate sleepiness to hellish hallucinations... I've completely lost the use of my right arm. It's still there, it just won't do anything. It's kinda like having a very large rubber chicken attached to my shoulder.

The doctors assure me that this is a temporary phenomenon, but right now it's a huge pain in the ass for three reasons:

  • I'm a copywriter. I rely on the written word to make bank each month. Fortunately, voice recognition software solves much of the typing problem, except occassionally the medicine will kick in, and "disappointed" will come out on the screen as "This is Porn Ted". Toss in a beer, and it's all over.
  • Ever tried to cook one handed? I've been living on veggie burgers and Veggie Shreds quesadillas for weeks.
  • I can't drive. Well, not more than a couple of blocks. Even that's kinda scary. So when I get inspired to create some new vegan dish, I'm kinda up the river.

We're going to assume that this is indeed temporary, and that life will get back to normal in the coming weeks. I hope so, because I have a slew of new recipes to try out and (hopefully) post.

Anyway, hope all is well with each of you! I look forward to getting back to blogging full time very soon.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Just a quick update...

Hello everyone!

First, my profuse apologies for not having posted for a while... I recently found out I am having back surgery on June 4 - a cervical laminectomy - and I've been running myself ragged trying to get my 4th book finished, wrap up copywriting projects, and finish a few household things I've been putting off. I'll be basically useless for a while after the surgery, so I'm running in high gear now.

Second, I've managed to create a few culinary disasters in the little time I've had to devote to cooking. Most notably, I made a vegetable korma that managed to be insanely hot and depressingly bland at the same time. I'm still puzzling over that one.

Then there were these lentil cakes - I was so excited about these babies - that somehow turned to a skillet full of tasteless goo with crunchy bits on the outside. Bah!

But hey, it happens. That's the thing about being willing to experiment - sometimes, you'll have raucous successes, and sometimes you'll have monumental failures. It all evens out.

Fortunately, my wife has been extremely supportive (and tolerant), and has refused to let me through away the figurative apron, no matter how badly my creations suck. Gotta love that - thanks Carla!

Anyway... since I have no deliciousness of my own to offer you, I'll take this opportunity to pimp another blog. Fat Free Vegan Kitchen posted a wonderful grilled asparagus and spinach salad recipe, which I tried last night. This recipe uses smoked paprika dressing, but I wasn't in the mood to drive halfway across Columbus to get white miso paste, so I just sprinkled paprika on the salad and doused it with seasoned rice wine. Oh, and I used chickpeas instead of walnuts.

Rest assured that I will be back very soon with something inspired and yummy. My cooking curse is about to lift, I can just feel it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Finally, Strawberry Yumminess of My Very Own


A few days ago, I posted a link to Teenage Vegan's blog. I've been waiting all week to try these strawberry crepes out for myself.

I was most certainly not dissapointed.

The only changes I made were the addition of a tablespoon of soy vanilla yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of each crepe.

I used the basic crepe batter recipe I posted a week or so ago. For the filling, I threw 6 large strawberries and 2 tbsp of agave nectar in a blender (made way too much for 2 crepes), and layered sliced bananas on top. Then, more strawberry sauce, soy yogurt, and cinnamon on top, and these light and yummy breakfast treats were ready for savoring!

Note: I actually found agave nectar at Kroger (a large regional supermarket chain) in the natural foods section. So you might not have to find a specialty foods store to make these crepes.

Thanks again to Teenage Vegan for the inspiration!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Vegan Recipe: Spicy Marinated Tofu with Avocado Sauce

So tonight's entry went down something like this:

All day, I had it in my head that I'd like to try marinating tofu in adobo sauce. After all, you can buy jalapenos packed in adobo sauce, so I figured I must be able to buy the stuff in a jar by itself, right?

Nope. At least not at the Kroger down the street.

So I stood in the Mexican foods section, staring at the bottles and jars of things which, for the most part, I was entirely unfamiliar with. I found dry adobo seasoning, but I figured tofu wasn't really going to absorb the taste of that very well. Tofu is a rather recalcitrant substance, after all.

I realized I looked like some dumb tourist that had wandered off the beaten path in a Mexican village, and decided that I needed to come up with Plan B quickly.

So I grabbed a jar of something called "sofrito", gathered the rest of my groceries, and headed home, confident that I had salvaged my plan.

That is, until I tasted the sauce.

It turns out, sofrito has a pretty heavy green bell pepper taste. There aren't too many vegetables I don't like, but I absolutely hate green bell peppers. Bah.

So now what?


Clearly, it was time to improvise. So a quick scan of the pantry, a couple of irrational decisions, and a Hail Mary was launched to try to make this potential disaster work.

Amazingly, it did work. So here you go:

Spicy Marinated Tofu with Avocado Sauce

1 package extra firm tofu, frozen and thawed

1 tbsp olive oil

Marinade for tofu:

1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce

1/3 tbsp cayenne pepper

1/3 tbsp cumin

1/3 tbsp garlic salt

Avocado sauce:

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup plain soy milk

1 clove of garlic, peeled

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Garnish:

1 small/medium tomato, diced

1/4 cup fresh scallions


Mix all marinade ingredients in a flat casserole dish.

Drain tofu. Wrap it in a dishtowel and press out excess water. The more water you remove, the better the tofu will absorb the marinade.

Slice tofu into 8 pieces, cutting across the longer side of the tofu block (pieces will be about 1/2" thick). Place slices in marinade, making sure that the tofu is completely covered. If it's not, you'll need to turn it a few times while it is marinating. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Remove tofu slices from marinade and place in a large skillet with the olive oil. Turn several times during cooking. I pan fried the tofu for about 8 minutes, which seemed just about right. Any longer, and I think the tomato sauce would have started burning.

Place all of the avocado sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Transfer tofu slices to plates. Spoon avocado sauce over tofu, garnish with tomatoes and scallions.

Notes:

Not much to say, other than it turned out wonderfully, despite my trepidation. I really did use a lot of cayenne pepper in the marinade, but the cool, citrus taste of the avocado sauce balanced out the heat.

Oh, and it really is important that you wait as long as you can before making the avocado sauce - preferably until the tofu is almost done. Right out of the blender, it has a nice, vivid green color that compliments the deep orange-red of the tofu to create a visually appealing dish.

After dinner, though, I noticed that the leftover avocado sauce had turned an icky brownish green color - kind of like what it would look like if the neighbor kid rode his bike through your hostas right after a thunderstorm. About 12 times.

Anyway, the only thing I would change here is the side dish. I decided on baked tortilla chips (take tortillas, cut them like a pizza, bake on a nonstick baking pan at 400 degrees for six minutes) and fresh salsa... but that wasn't quite right. Not bad, just not right.

I'll have to ponder that. If you have any suggestions, I'd be glad to try them out.

On a completely unrelated note, I'll leave you with this picture I took of my daughter this morning as she was leaving for school. She was proud of her new dress, so I couldn't deny her a couple of pictures.



Monday, April 28, 2008

A Delightful Crepe Recipe from a New Friend!

Hi everyone,

I'm glad so many of you liked the crepe recipe I posted a few days ago.

Teenage Vegan used the batter recipe to create a delicious-sounding breakfast dish... I can't wait for the weekend so I can try it out myself!

You can read her post here!

Yum...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Vegan Recipe: Portabella Caps with Mustard Crusted Tofu

There really isn't much of a story to go with tonight's entry. I had no idea what to make for dinner, so I simply drove to the market, planted myself firmly in the produce section, and waited for inpiration.

Fortunately, the produce gods came through, by casting my gaze at two plump, fresh portabella caps.

The rest just fell into place.

I think Carla was a little concerned when she asked what I was making, and I responded, "I really have no idea."

Then I threw her out of the kitchen.

Anyway, this is a relatively simple dish (meaning few ingredients), and I think that with a little practice, it could make the coveted "under 30 minutes" category.

So without further prefacing, I give you a recipe that came out of the blue, but turned out wonderfully:

Portabella Caps with Mustard Crusted Tofu

2 large portabella caps, stems removed
1 medium tomato, diced
4 oz extra firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
White cooking wine
2 tbsp sweet and spicy mustard
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried parsley

Mix 1/4 cup white cooking wine, mustard, and sage in a large, shallow bowl. Add tofu and mix to coat.

Steam broccoli florets in a vegetabole steamer for 20 minutes, or place broccoli in a microwave safe bowl with 1/4 cup water and microwave for 4 minutes.

Pour 1/2 cup white cooking wine in a large skillet. Place portabella caps in skillet and cook on medium heat, stem side up, for 5 minutes. Turn portabella caps, sprinkle basil on top, cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add more white cooking wine as needed.

Place tofu and mustard in a medium skillet and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Transfer portabella caps to plates, stem side up.

Place tofu, tomatoes, and steamed broccoli in a bowl (I use one of those food storage containers with a lid) and shake to mix. Don't worry, you didn't miss a step - I didn't cook the tomatoes.

Spoon tofu and vegetable mixture over portabella caps. Sprinkle dried parsley on top.

That's it! As you can see, I served this dish with vegetable rice and french bread, and it all turned out quite nicely. The picture's a little fuzzy, but what can I say... I need a new digital camera.

And Carla, who had been watching from the living room, said she was quite pleased with my creation. Especially since she saw me mix white cooking wine and mustard together, and was convinced that dinner was indeed doomed.

Admittedly, it's a bit of an odd combination, but sometimes you have to experiment to get out of a food rut.

And sometimes, it even turns out well. :-)
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