Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One Blog vs. Two Blogs

Has anyone tried running multiple blogs at once? And if so, what was your experience?

I have thought about starting a second blog to record unfood related items, like books, music, crafting, etc. Some days this seems like a perfect idea and other days I think it could all just be collected into this blog.

Any thoughts?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Giveaway Winners!!

The winners are...

Winner 1: River - Sweet Utopia

Winner 2: Mihl - Speed Vegan


I was going to take pictures to show the drawing process and my less than perfect handwriting on the slips of paper, but my camera batteries failed me...oh well!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Living in the Raw - Cookbook Review

Enter here before 7 p.m. on Monday, January 24 for a chance to win one of four cookbooks!

Living in the Raw contains an assortment of raw fare. It opens with some general info. on raw living, such as sprouting and transitioning to a healthier lifestyle. For these recipes you will need the usual weapons of a well-tooled raw kitchen: food processor, blender, and dehydrator. We chose to make several dips, since we do not have a dehydrator, and were very pleased with each of them.

My only complaints are against full pages reserved for short recipes, like zucchini chips, that could have easily fit the two other recipes like it. This only occurred in a few places, however. When it came to the juice section, pages were happily shared between recipes.

For the newbie interested in trying raw recipes or others who want to add a few to the collection, this book would make a great addition.

Avocado Dulse Dip

If you like avocados, you'll like this :) This seaside guacamole is just as friendly as it's cousin.

Spinach Herb Dip

This was a very nice, herby dip. I would recommend using it as a topping on pizza or on a sandwich coupled with something like the "Crab Delight." On its own it's decent, but it is best paired with something else. We only had 1/4 lb. of spinach left and the dish calls for a full pound. I love the creamy taste of avocado and was just fine without the extra spinach. The herb combination was good and I'm excited to revisit this when I have some fresh herbs in the garden!

"Crab" Delight

This was our favorite! Perhaps because we've never really made anything like this. It's made up mostly of almonds and is oh-so-filling. We added in some dulse flakes and a little veganaise to make dipping easier. I also liked the additional creaminess from the veganaise, making it a perfect sandwich filling ;)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sproutman's Kitchen Garden Cookbook - Book Review

This book really excites me! Someday I will borrow or purchase a dehydrator and make some sprouted bread of my own. Unfortunately, I have not tried any of these recipes. The recipes I most wanted to make call for a dehydrator or, as you might guess, advanced planning for sprouting.

It is full of exciting recipes, such as Sweet Potato Raisin Sprout Bread, Sprout Pizza Dough, Cashew-Apple Nuggets, Cashew Egg Nog, Sunflower Farmer Cheese, California Wine, Coffee Ice Cream, Dried Onion Rings, Sunny Parmesan Cheese, Manhattan Sprout Chowder, Natural Sesame Halvah, Braised Tofu, and much more.

Prepare to be entertained by cute, and sometimes flirtatious, cartoon sketches, sketches ("Sproutman Meets The Marx Bros"), and poetry ("Ode to the Banana"). I also found this book to be very informative. It contains information on the benefits of sprouting, the benefits of alternatives to dairy, and benefits of light cooking (or dehydrating).

Without having tried any of the recipes, I still feel as though I have gained a lot from this book. There are very detailed explanations on the processes used in each recipe, as well as the information I mentioned above.

Some recipes do use honey, so this book is not completely vegan. But without having actually tasted anything, that was the only fault I found in this book. And luckily, there are easy substitutions for honey.

Has anyone tried any of these recipes? Feel free to list your experiences with this book in the comments!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Speed Vegan - Cookbook Review

Everything we have tasted from Speed Vegan has been very enjoyable. Besides the good tastes, one of my favorite things about this book is the personality. The titles are pretty straight forward, labeled for what they are, but it's the introductions and descriptions for each dish that entertain. Roettinger might tell a little story of how the dish came to be or tell you why he thinks a dish is tasty. I enjoyed these little snippets :)

In general, the recipes from start to finish have been speedy to make. As for ingredients, you must plan ahead. Though they are listed in the "Stocking the Vegan Pantry" section, many recipes included one or two ingredients that I do not regularly have on hand. So speedy, yes, as long as you have all of the ingredients ahead of time. Right after the pantry section are the "Jump Starts," which include recipes for other pantry items to stock. How cool! One other thing I'll mention, there is huge salad section, almost 50 pages worth. I'm really not much of a salad eater and it takes much convincing for me to remember that I do enjoy them (usually by eating one someone else has served me ;) But for those of you that do salads, there are plenty of options here.

Everything we tried took 30 minutes or less to prepare, that includes chopping veggies and all prep. I'm not very good about pulling everything I need out of the cabinets before I begin, so it even makes time for that ;)

The color images are tasty, but the black and white images I could do without. I don't think they add much to the book and many of them look a little grainy and unimpressive (perhaps due to printing). If you have flipped through this book and had similar thoughts, making you question the book's quality, I would suggest that you give this one a second chance. Once you have gathered the ingredients and made a few recipes, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Since this book is about the speed, I will list approximate cooking times for each dish, based on my experience. Sample recipes can be found on Alan Roettinger's website, the author of Speed Vegan.

Glass Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Start - Finish ~ 30 min.
Haha...know what I said about salads? Well, I was being honest. Although, pasta salads are more likely to catch my eye. But we didn't eat this one as a salad. We couldn't find any glass noodles (or mung bean threads) and decided to warm this dish up with sprouted wheat noodles instead.

Often I am disappointed by the heat level of "spicy" dishes in cookbooks, but this one was pleasantly spicy. Not hot enough to need a sip of water between every bite, but enough to enjoy and recognize it as a spicy dish.

We substituted sprouted noodles for the glass noodles and cashew butter for the peanut butter. We may have added a little more garlic as well; I used 3-4 cloves. The cucumbers made this dish fresh and crisp, and every ingredient in the sauce blended to leave my mouth savoring each component. If you like to tweak recipes as you go, I would definitely recommend trying the sauce "as is" on the first round. Other things that would go great in this dish: green onions and avocado.

Tofu and Soba Noodles with Hot-Sweet-Sour-Pungent Sauce
Start - Finish ~ less than 20 min.
It has been many months since we made this dish. But what I can tell you is, we liked it so much that it became a quick meal staple. We just wore this one out and haven't added it back into the rotation.

Hominy Hash
Start - Finish ~ 25 min.
Do you gaze with longing at small diners wishing there was something on the menu for you? Does your mouth start to water when you hear the words "homestyle cookin'?" If so, then this might be a dish for you. A different take on the traditional hash, this one uses hominy instead of potatoes and smothers the whole dish in tomato paste. It's really great. This was my first time (to my memory) that I have every eaten hominy and it will not be the last. And since it's so cold outside, it seems only fair to post the recipe so that your belly can be overwhelmed with a warm, filling happy feeling.

We did not make the garlic oil, or have any on hand, and I have no doubt that it would have been a spectacular addition. The dish is good, either way. We actually used 2 cans of hominy, one white and one golden. We used a 6 oz. can of tomato paste. For the sausages we made a black bean version of a recipe from Vegan Brunch and we would happily do it again ;)

Thanks to the kind folks at BPC, I get to share this recipe with you. Enjoy!

Hominy Hash
4 Tbl. olive oil
4 (3 oz.) vegan Italian sausages
1 red onion
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 can (15 oz) white hominy
1/2 c. tomato paste
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
2 Tbl. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. Garlic oil
Sriracha sauce (optional - but I highly recommend it!)

Put 2 Tbl. of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook, stirring constantly until it has browned lightly (about 2 min.). Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 2 Tbl. of olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring constatly for 1 - 2 min., or until softened. Add the celery and bell pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 min. Add the hominy and cook fo 2 min. Add the tomato puree, salt, and pepper. Cover the pan, decrease the heat to medium, and cook for 5 min., or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the sausage and parsley, stirring well until the mixture has warmed through. Serve at once with garlic oil and Sriracha sauce on the side.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Year of the Cookie: Chocolate Chip Cookies and Carrot Raisin Spice Chewies

One of my goals for the year is to try a new cookie recipe every week. We're using Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar to jump start the project. Everything in this book looks fantastic! I've had it for a year now and have only tried a few recipes, but that's about to change ;) In my cookie posts, I will try to include tasty-looking finds from other bloggers, too. That way if you want to take on a cookie challenge yourself, you will have plenty of options. ;)

A few blog notes, then back to the cookies... I have finally switched my blog ownership over to my new e-mail address aveganfox(at)gmail(dot)com. In the next week or so I will be making a few updates and updating my Google Reader.

For those who don't know, we're in the midst of a giveaway. It's my first and I'm psyched! Currently your chances are pretty good. ;) Two people will win a cookbook of their choice (out of four). So hit this, and get signed up! Next week I will post book reviews and winners will be chosen at random on January 24.

Back to the cookies:
Week 1: Last week we made the chocolate chip cookies that everyone raves about. They are definitely worth the reviews! Even with the substitutions we made, they still had the best texture of any chocolate chip cookies I've made in a long time! You can check out the original recipe at the PPK.

Week 2: This past week we made the Carrot Raisin Spice Chewies from VCIYCJ. These are wonderful and great for breakfast, too! (Take it from someone who knows ;) Filled with carrots, walnuts, raisins, coconut...are you hungry yet? They're crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I'm pretty sure that Adam would like to have these every week.

(Hey River: You can't see it, but that's Teeccino in my cup ;) For any who don't know, you can check out River's experiements with coffee alternatives over at Wing-It Vegan)

(ours : original)
coconut oil : canola oil
coconut crystals/sugar : all sugar listed
spelt flour : AP flour
allspice : nutmeg (We were out!)

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from VCIYCJ)
oven: 350 F/8-9 min. (total time 15-20 min.)
makes: 16-24 cookies, depending on sizw

3/4 c. coconut crystals/sugar
2/3 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. soy milk
1 Tbl. cornstarch
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. spelt flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
chocolate chips - eyeball it ;)

* Preheat oven - 350 F. Lightly grease 1-2 baking sheets.

* Combine sugar, oil, soy milk, and cornstarch in a mixing bowl. Mix well for 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla.

* Add 1 c. of flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until all ingredients are blended in. Mix in the rest of the flour. This dough was not quite as stiff as the recipe suggests (due to changes in the ingredients). Feel free to add more flour.

* Fold in chocolate chips.

* Grab ping-pong or walnut sized dough balls and flatten out a little with your hand, as you place them on the cookie sheet.

* Bake for 8-9 min.

Follow these cookie crumbs for more delights:
Double Chocolate Spritz Cookies
Samples recipes from VCIYCJ

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January Bulk Order

One of my favorite things about ordering stuff in bulk (besides saving so much money!) is being able to walk through the market with mostly fresh goods in my basket :)

Check it out, Adam's dad loaded us up with rice for Christmas.  We're still finishing off our rice from a bulk order many months ago, so we should be set for awhile!  He also gave us more coconut milk to add to our stock ;)

Monday, January 10, 2011

My First Blogiversary! (and giveaway :)

Cam and me playing in the snow last winter
[This giveaway is now closed]

One year ago today I started this blog. Inspired by reading so many wonderful vegan food blogs (secretly ;) I finally decided to try it out myself. It has been wonderful. Mostly because I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful bloggers online!
SO the main event of the day: a giveaway!! Something I have been meaning to do for many months now, but might as well start this year off with a bang, right?

Here's the deal, I will give away two books.
How to play:

* Leave a comment with your first and second choices of the four books listed. Be sure that you leave a way for me to contact you. (If your e-mail address is connected to your profile, that works)
* All winners will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, January 24.
* The first person drawn will receive their first choice.
* The second person drawn will receive their first choice, if different from the first winner's, and otherwise, their second choice.

What can you win??

Before the giveaway is over I will post a review of each book. Most reviews will pop up next week.

Book Reviews:
Living in the Raw
Speed Vegan
Sproutman's Kitchen Garden Cookbook
Sweet Utopia
- Chocolate Chip and Nut Streusel Coffee Cake
- Chocolate-Covered Almond Tangerine Balls

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Welcome to 2011

Happy New Year!  I'm pretty excited about this year.  Here are a few goals I've come up with for this year:

* Play saxophone at least once a week (when able)
* Record (or compose) music at least once a month
* Write often [at least twice a week, but aim for DAILY]
* Read 50 books
* Visit Vancouver
* Make art or craft something every month
* Spend more time with my nieces and nephews
* Try a new cookie recipe every week
* Blog once a week or no less than every other week

For January I have a few things to wrap up from 2010, a few awards I never really honored AND a giveaway that never happened!  So here's the deal, a giveaway WILL happen on January 10.  I will try to do a review or two beforehand, but regardless it will happen.  That's my blogaversary and what better way to celebrate?

Any game lovers out there?  I love games.  The two that have recently kept me occupied are Munchkin, a card game, and Fallout, a post-apocalyptic role-playing computer game.  Any other fans?

Oh and speaking of Troll 2, if you are a fan or would like to be, you should check out Best Worst MovieThis documentary has given me a whole new outlook on a movie that I could finally laugh about after a second viewing (my first impression was not good).  I would recommend this to you whether you enjoyed Troll 2 or not, it will endear the film to you in a whole new way.  Seriously, the director, writer, actors and fans are so sincere!  Art appreciated for art's sake, where the art is exceptionally bad, but strangely wonderful.  And if you need one more reason, the goblins are vegetarians ;)
George Hardy (as Michael; Dad), also the star of Best Worst Movie