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Archive for Just Trying Stuff

Weekend Warrior

So, I had some time to get some food stuffs ready for lunch-packing this week.


This was my first attempt at making some sushi rolls. I got the idea to make my own sushi from the Gorging the Apple blog. You can see how she made hers here. I’ve seen a lot of different versions of making sushi. There’s also one in a video by Isa Chandra Moskowitz of the PPK. On top of all that wealth of knowledge and inspiration, I’ve got a few books to show me how too. Needless to say, information overload! But I’m of the mind that more knowledge is always better.

One of the reasons I never remember a recipe by heart is because I don’t have that great a memory to begin with. So my sushi rolls were kind of a hodge-podge of all that I’ve read or seen on the subject. I made my sushi rolls by mixing two cups of cooked brown rice with a tablespoon and a half of tahini, enough hot water to make it pasty enough to work through the rice, and a half a teaspoon of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. As best I could, I used some tongs to heat the nori like I had seen on Isa’s show. But I can’t say I was the greatest at it. My first attempt put a hole in the first sheet of nori. But after that, it was all good. I used some chopped up zucchini and portobello mushrooms for the filling and rolled them up with wet fingers to seal them firmly. Not bad for a first try, if I do say so myself. They were delicious with a little more of the Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and some wasabi paste. Mmmm…yummy sushi. A little fact I came across somewhere in my readings (don’t ask me where because I haven’t the slightest), wasabi’s spiciness is thought to kill bacteria in foods. That’s a nice little bonus!

I had intended to fix some more banana muffins for my son to eat on the way to school for breakfast this week. But the bananas went bad before I got to them. Since I already had the pans oiled for them, and since I had always wanted to know what zucchini bread tasted like, I made some zucchini bread muffins instead.


The original recipe comes from Vegan Planet. But, of course, since I didn’t have ALL of the ingredients (another reason why it’s no good for me to memorize a recipe), I just substituted what I had and completely omitted what I had no way of subbing. So, there’s no ginger or sesame seeds in this recipe-yeah, the cupboards need to be restocked in a BIG way. I think the bread is probably a little sweeter than it should be because I used the rest of the almond milk rather than opening a brand new carton of soy (I’m married to an accountant, what do you expect?). And I subbed whole wheat pastry flour. I think it makes them a little heavier than what zucchini bread should be like, but, after a quick thirty second heat up in the microwave, I don’t mind it much. The cupcake-sized portions make it difficult for me to feel so guilty eating them. But, they’re pretty tasty. I like them even better with a little pat of Earth Balance Buttery Spread. I don’t think my son will eat them though. He took one look and said, “Oh, herbal muffins…” Well, there’s hope yet. He did try a sushi roll so, I won’t take him out of the will yet.

In the meantime, it has been a little difficult getting around the kitchen effortlessly without having to lock up the Doodlebug. She started at a new school for autistic children within the last couple months after having been assessed as autistic. She has already made a lot of progress. Still, trying to watch her and cook at the same time is a little challenging to say the least. Between her dumping spices and herbs down the drain (today it was the chives) and trying to put away the dishes she grabs from off the counter (which would actually be pretty sweet and very helpful, 1) if they were clean first, and 2) if I wasn’t using them), it’s all I can do to not get my hair in the food from pulling it out trying to keep an eye on her too. It’s really not much better letting her run around in the other rooms either since I have to run back and forth between the kitchen and trying to find her in the house. Nothing is more scarier than a very mischievous child who’s suddenly very quiet (or out of earshot for any length of time). And lately, I’ve been finding myself thinking more and more about what will happen to her should anything happen to me and her father (God forbid). It has been a really sobering couple of months. I’m still believing God for the very best with her though. So, there’s still hope on that front too. In fact, she just used the potty two days in a row! She isn’t asking for it. But she isn’t opposed anymore to going in it. She’s even calling her brother by name too. So, I believe my prayers are being heard, thankfully.

Well, tomorrow I have to get out of the kitchen and back to cleaning the house and getting some work done for school. Sigh…I’m sleepy already.


A Confession to Make

I must confess. I haven’t been late night snacking. No…I have been late night eating. I had put on four pounds in the past few weeks. It didn’t help that I was also eating out a lot-and not getting to the gym as much or for as long when I was able to go. I was eating so much, I was so heavy going the gym that when I did get there, I really wasn’t able to endure quite as long on the treadmill. So, this past week, I stopped the late night eating and if I couldn’t cook from home, I grabbed something quick to fix from the market (like a salad in a bag or a Smart Chili or something like that). I put a fruit basket in my studio and also a basket to hold some wheat bread. And because I was so exhausted after school these days, I got a panini maker. Best piece of cookware I’ve bought in a long time! Voila! Now I can cook something quick at home-and it tastes good too!


I made this panini using a Calphalon Panini Maker. I lightly oiled the pan with some olive oil and heated it up with medium heat. While the pan was heating, I sautéed and seasoned a few slices of portobello mushrooms, some slices of green, red, and yellow pepper, and some slices of green and yellow zucchini squash. I could have used the Panini Maker for that too, but it’s so new and shiny right now, it’s like almost sacred. Yeah, I’m weird that way. Anyway, I mixed a tablespoon and a half of tahini with two teaspoons of basalmic vinegar and spread that on some hearty slices of wheat bread. I assembled the sandwich, added some salt, pepper, and some nutritional yeast to make it a little cheesy tasting. I lightly oiled both sides of the bread with olive oil. Then I browned and pressed both sides in the Panini Maker. It was super yummy!! These take no more than fifteen minutes to assemble (including a veggie sauté) and less than ten minutes to make into a panini. The one drawback is I can’t put it in the dishwasher. But it only takes a few minutes. Then I’m eating vegan and off to getting on with the rest of my night…which these days includes a lot of sleeping when I can get it.

Boscov’s has these Panini Maker’s on sale in my area. Originally, they are $110. I got it for $49.99. Sweet! It works perfectly and browns evenly. I liked it so much I bought an electric panini maker for my studio. The paninis from it aren’t the greatest, but they’re healthier than going to get take-out on campus everyday.

To make a long story short, I lost those four pounds in one week by reversing those bad habits. Not a bad return for some small adjustments. It’s hard trying to stay fit, stay in school, and be a vegan. These are the ways I cope. Hey, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

Burrito Anyone?

We just installed our show in Philadelphia and this weekend I decided to spend some time at home to make myself a small congratulatory meal.


I call this masterpiece of veganny goodness an Everything Burrito. Why? Because I’ve been really feelin’ this Mexican food lately. If it’s wrapped in some kind of tortilla, I’m eatin’ it. Guacamole? Spread it on. Salsa? Hand it over. Beans? More please. My favorite place for this stuff on campus is a Mexican Grill joint called Santa Fe. They have a veggie burrito that is amazingly good and super-duper HUGE. But I can never get a wheat tortilla there in the afternoons when I’m able to go and the white tortillas just ruin my diet altogether. So, for my own burrito, I used white kidney beans, some refried beans, some salsa, some basmati rice (I had some left over to get rid of), some Holy Guacamole, and just to make it interesting, I crumbled some Tostitos Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips in the mix right before folding a 100% wheat tortilla around the whole shabang. It was delicious!! And don’t let the picture fool you. I ate about three of those things! And for the best part…I made enough to last a few more days so I can eat vegan on the go!! I am simply awesome, lol!

The next thing I need to learn how to make is that amazing General Tso’s Tofu I get from Bamboo House. That stuff is finger-licking good. Forgive the reference to the colonel.

Inauguration 2009!

Can you believe it?! I just had to document this day. The day where I could actually say I feel like I’m not just African-American, but an American like any other. Waiting for my mother to come out of surgery…and not sure what I will fix for dinner, but off to celebrate!!

Update: With the recent inauguration, I felt the order of the day was “trying new things”. So, I decided to try some things I hadn’t had before rather than the things that I have learned how to make.


This fit the bill for me. This is an Open Faced Santa Fe Sandwich courtesy of the Student Go Vegan Cookbook. It’s made with tempeh and a homemade barbecue sauce (from the same recipe book), with some herbs and a toasted roll (though I only had toasted wheat bread). It tasted pretty good. But I learned after I ate it that I could have used a method called “poaching” to make the tempeh a little more tender. This was good but chewier than I would’ve expected. Not bad for something new though.

The other “something new” I tried was cookies. At 32, I’ve never baked a batch of cookies before. Well, with this recipe I had plenty of practice under my belt when I was finished. From Vegan With a Vengeance, these are Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies.


This recipe made near four dozen cookies! But I ain’t mad at ’em. They are so chewy and moist! I love them. They called for raisins and optional flax seeds. I didn’t have flax seeds on hand at the time. But they came out chewy just the same. Mmmmmmm…so good.

So that’s my “new”s in the kitchen.

Everyone I know is talking about our newly inaugurated president. I’ve never seen so much pride from blacks. It truly is an amazing thing. I didn’t think America had it in her and I know so many others share that same sentiment. I never would have thought I would ever see a black president. This is not the America I thought it was. It’s a better one. One that is trying to live up to it’s reputation. Haven’t seen that ever. I still don’t think that the economic status of the nation will turn around immediately. But I do think the cultural mentality is undergoing major overhaul. It’s an exciting time to be alive!!

And I suppose Biden actually did put D-ware on the map for good! I see their photo everywhere I go now. I wonder if he can get a few vegan restaurants around here…

In very local news, my dad had to move to another plant out of state since Chrysler shut down. My mom is still here and he has to commute on the weekends. It feels like a loss because he’s very close to my son and he and my husband get a long pretty good. He bounces the Doodlebug on the bed everytime he sees her (which come to think of it, is a bad habit, lol). But, now he’s gone and I miss him.

I know it won’t turn around right away. But I’m giving in to the spirit of hope that this inauguration has ushered in.

Yes we can! (If I can cook, anything can happen!)

Body Snatchers

I think that my body got taken over recently. Since we went on break for school, I’ve been in the kitchen practically everyday. That’s really unusual. And before I’ve left the kitchen, there has been food cooked (gasp!!). And it’s not burned (fainting!!). Very strange.

This holiday I promised myself that I would learn some baking. Don’t get too excited because I haven’t memorized any recipes just yet. I really should have called this blog the The Wannabe Cooking Vegan or something like that. But, I think there are a few books out there that are trying to help folks like me. At least that’s why Isa Chandra Moskowitz said she wrote her Vegan with a Vengeance (a mighty good book that I got for Christmas-amongst others). Thank God for books for cooking idiots!! Still, the first recipe that required baking I actually got from a cross of The Students Go Vegan Cookbook by Carole Raymond and Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. I was trying for a basic pizza dough and sauce recipe.


I added some tomato sauce that I seasoned up with some pesto from the Vegan Planet book, and shredded and sauteed some squash. I really don’t know if pesto is supposed to go on a pizza. But it sounded good. Now, the dough was a little tricky (and I’ve since heard that I might have tried one of the most difficult baking tasks trying to make dough). But it came out okay. I figure the next time, I’ll add a little something to sweeten it up though. I like sweet breaded pizza for some reason. Which reminds me that I need to see a dentist….But, on the whole, I found that the recipes that I’ve tried so far from these books are quick and really tasty!! Like the one for Sweet Corn Relish (again, SO need to see the dentist):


This was from The Student Go Vegan Cookbook too. I paired the relish with white kidney beans that I had seasoned with the same stuff that I know how to season black beans with (cumin, chili powder, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, a little salsa). I found some phyllo thingies at the supermarket (I have yet to find one in Delaware with some phyllo wraps). I thought they were pretty cute and they could be heated or not heated so they were no fuss (which is just my kind of food accessory). I really liked this too. Of course, you don’t see the other nine because…I ate those.

I am actually pretty surprised that vegan food tastes so good. No offense to lifetime vegan-ers. But, I’m a newbie and as an omnivore, folks think that you guys (I mean us now) are a little weird and that all the food from a vegan diet is pretty bland and couldn’t be half as tasty as a diet that includes meat. I was knocked off my feet when my kids actually wound up liking the foods I’ve been making-and that three year old is a tough one to win over. This one was the favorite of all.


Yes, I got this from The Student Go Vegan Cookbook too. I’ve never had a shepherd’s pie with mashed potatoes before. I always thought that pot pie’s and sheperd’s pie were all the same. You know with the crust. But I think the crusted one’s must be the pot pie’s and the mashed taters go with the shepherd’s pie. Whatever, the dish was delicious!! I was so upset when my son wanted more. I only fixed two small casserole dishes (the market had these really cute Corningware and a few other knock-offs on sale). The boy actually looked at the dish that I was about to reheat the next day for another meal and said, “Mom, do you have anymore of that shepherd’s pie thing?” How manipulative is that, right? Oh well, he’s a growing boy. I gave him 49% of it.

I got over the hump of making my first three-course vegan meal. Cauliflower, breaded/baked tofu cutlets with cream sauce and some cocunut rice and beans.


This was a hodgepodge of a meal and came from a hodgepodge of books. Skinny B*tch and The Students Go Vegan Cookbook being the main players. I guess I felt a like my confidence had grown a little trying all these dishes. So, I decided to try something from one of my more difficult recipe books at the moment. Yes, I tried a treat from Isa Moskowitz’s book called Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.


Actually, I find that this book has a good mix of easy stuff and things that I might have to work up to…and some things that I still don’t even know how to pronounce just yet. But, do you know how good these banana muffins are? Do you see that space at the top of this pyramid? That’s where a muffin that got curiously scarfed down used to be. They are SO good. And it’s so open to experiments that I figure the next time I’m going to add some nuts and not be a punk about it (no pun intended). Her other book, Vegan with a Vengeance, also had a great recipe for some kale and tahini dressing. It reminded me of a veganized creamed spinach. It was so yummy! Since she had written that she likes to put her greens into her mashed potatoes, I used the kale with the tahini dressing over a baked potato. If heaven was a food….

I don’t know. I’ve tried a lot of things. Pancakes, cauli mash, bean dishes. I even tried some pumpkin scones that were so good that I wanted to smack somebody. I ate them with some vegan buttery spread and some cherry preserves. Mmmmmmm….

In my spare time….well, there actually isn’t much because cooking takes a while. Most of the things I’ve tried have been quick. But not all. I’ve spent full days in a kitchen on some of them. But I was told by my mil that once I get used to cooking, I’ll find my own work arounds-like using frozen veggies rather than fresh. Duh. Why didn’t I think of that? Anyway, I started to say…in my spare time, I’ve bought up just about ever kitchen thingie I could think of for making my cooking life a little easier. I spend endless hours in the cooking and baking sections at just about every department store anymore (what the???). My mom thinks I’m becoming domesticated. Again (what the???). I’ve got silicon mats for dough now….I mentioned the stoneware….more measuring cups and spoons…large and medium glass casserole dishes….more utensils because for some reason, I cook more with those than the large spoons and forks…large cookie sheet and cupcake pan…an ultra small cupcake pan and bread pan (so I could just try it out)….a mandoline (spelling) cutter thingie that I’m still trying to figure out. It just sits on the counter and I stare at it from different angles between sips on my banana-strawberry smoothie. But I used that to shave the veggies on that pizza. I’ll really get it some day, I guess.


Who said toys are just for kids? I played with every toy I got this Christmas. My rolling pin, my non-stick dough surface, my very cheap, but all I need juicer, and both blenders (my pre-Christmas gifts), plus nearly all of my recipe books (which as of today I have all the recipe books I could ever need). And I have made everything. Easy dishes, mind you. But I’m never one to belittle the day of small beginnings. I’ve made everything from cauliflower mash to homemade vegan pizza-dough and all-to sweet potato fries. How’s that for a former microwave queen? I am a mad woman! Pics soon to come.

Right now I’ve got to go nurse a cold. The Doodlebug is taking meds for an ear infection and I may be next. I’m a regular snot factory.

Faking it

Last night’s dinner was a hodgepodge of stuffs. I had some leftover red cabbage and potatoes. I made some quinoa rice blend and topped it with black beans. For a little something extra, I tried some fake chicken strips. It was tasty. The quinoa had a nutty flavor to it. Even my daughter liked it and that’s a picky sister. Here’s me inhaling it.


I joined a vegan twitter group yesterday too. I’ve already found that it’s much easier to tweet from tweetie on my iPod than from my cell. I just learned about this twitter network, therefore, I live under a rock.