i speak veganese

Hey, I haven’t burned the house down yet!

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!

panini

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.

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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.

everythingburrito

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.

Keep it Healthy and Keep it Movin’

Our show opens next week and I’m still frazzled and scrambling for time. I have a bunch of drawings to grade and give back to my students tomorrow afternoon. And I’m so sleepy, I could sleep on nails if I had to.

Still eating ready made stuff too for the most part. Not liking that one bit. I had teriyaki tofu today from a Japanese take out/delivery joint in Newark. It wasn’t bad. But, I feel like if I followed a recipe, I could have made it better. Lol, who’d have thunk I would come out my mouth like that! I had a California Veggie Pocket by Dr. Praeger that was pretty tasty.

veggiepocketandsalad

I smothered it in the only recipe I’ve had time to make in the last few weeks: VWAV Tahini Dressing. Okay. I admit, I didn’t follow it to the letter. I was feenin’ for some so I just threw it together and suited it to taste. That stuff is simply amazing….a regular yum machine.

At any rate, I do have a picture of the last black bean burger I made from Student Go Vegan.

sgvblackbeanburger

Mmmmm….I miss cooking my own stuff.

School’s In!!!

I must apologize for the lack of posts as of late. School just started back up so I’m in the midst of getting ready for a show. Not only that, but I got a brand new laptop and figuring it out hasn’t been too difficult. But it hasn’t been too easy either. I’ll get to that in a minute though…

But back to school. I can’t say I’ve planned my meals well. Still as vegan as ever. But for the past couple weeks I’ve had to rely on either dining out or getting something from the vegan food sections at the supermarkets (which aren’t very clearly marked everywhere …but kudos to Super G! They have a very well-stocked section in each of their markets that I frequent). Here’s what I found:

Thumbs Up-
Dr. Praeger’s Veggie Burgers-I can’t say anything about how they are with heart health. But I really enjoyed the taste of the curry flavored and the tex burgers. I added some of the tahini spread from Vegan with a Vengeance on one and it was so good I almost slapped my mama!

Thumbs Down-
Dr. McDougall’s Soups– Okay. You can have these. I tried the Miso soup and the Pad Thai soup as well. In my very humble opinion, they sucked. I still have a Tortilla soup left that I’m actually afraid to even try! Pray for me.

Anyway, along with some veggies and the occasional bean dish, the veggie burgers have pretty much kept me alive.

Now about that new laptop…If you’re an art student or know someone who is, then you know the art world is in love with all things Apple. I have yet to find someone in our entire art program at my school that doesn’t own a Mac. And our library is full of the things that I’m beginning to think, it might not be restricted to the art program either….I avoided Mac’s very purposefully back in the day. Only the dang things still didn’t go away. Then an iPod entered my life. I felt like a traitor. But I sure was a happy one! The biggest blow, however, came earlier this month. First year MFA’s had to give presentations for our “constellation” of artists. All the ones done on Mac’s seemed so much more professionally done that I had to admit, I was more than a little envious. I trucked to the nearest Apple Store with my education discount and got one of those babies. I don’t know if I just didn’t know how to use PC to its fullest potential or what with visual media. I just know once I got the Macbook Pro, it was a cinch figuring out how to make a slide presentation rock! Keynote is a godsend! Still, there are some very clear differences between a Mac and PC laptop. They just think differently. Anyway, since I got it a few weeks ago, I have been trying to make the switch to Mac from being a hardcore PC user. But, you know what they say. If you can’t beat ’em…I’m trying to figure out if I’m going to keep the Compaq laptop (which I still do like) or if I’m going to sell it to offset some of the cost of this Macbook Pro. Jury’s still out on that one. But, I’m using the Macbook Pro almost exclusively until I figure out the dang thing. That’s my punishment for waiting so long I guess…

Sorry for the lack of pictures but I just got a mobile broadband plan too from Verizon. The 5GB per month plan (or as I call it-the “unlimited” limited plan). Until I find out how much it costs for me to upload those suckers, I’ll have to be a little bit stingy with those, lol.

Here’s to good living on a budget!

Burger Queen

Before trying to get my health back and before going vegan, I was a fast food junkie. My favorite burgers were from Burger King…Favorite fries were McDonald’s…favorite nuggets were Wendy’s on the cheap and Chic Fil A when I had some extra cha-ching. Today, I had mad cravings for some fast food. Just a burger and a fry fix. So, being the greenie behind the ears that I am, I got a cookbook.

The closest I got to a burger was a black bean burger and roasted potatoes. The black bean burger comes from The Student Go Vegan book. I wanted to try the one from Veganomicon but I didn’t have the vital wheat gluten. This one, oddly enough, called for rolled oats, which I did have. Plus, it’s topped with the sweet corn relish! That stuff is just the most amazing topping…sigh. The roasted potatoes I remembered from somewhere. This time I added some malt vinegar and ketchup to my roasted potatoes though like I used to get at Surf Side Fries-and lunch was heaven! Although not fast by any stretch of the imagination…kind of like a fast food drive thru actually. At least this time I didn’t waste a tank of gas.

When I am able to post pics again I’ll update. Bye for now!

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.

santa-fe-tempeh

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.

pumpkinoatmealcookie

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.

veganpizza

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):

phyllo

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.

shepherdspie

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.

first3course

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.

banana-muffins

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.