Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vegan Vs.Total Vegetarian

I was googling around some vegan blogs and websites last night and found some interesting reading material. Apparently there is a huge conflict between the healthy vegans and the ethical vegans.  Ethical vegans don't wear leather, wool, or silk.  They don't eat honey, take medication with gelatin capsules, use down comforters, or use any product that had animal testing.  They seem to have a lot of contempt for the health vegans who are focusing on the lifestyle  for the medical benefits. Of course there is some overlap, but generally not from those that scream the loudest.  The ethical vegans call the other group total vegetarians because they are not ensconced in a pure vegan lifestyle.  They also do not approve of ethically raised meat, it is all animal murder. The health vegans complain about the others lack of a healthy diet because they subsist on processed foods and tend not care about environmental issues like GMO corn and soybeans and the manufacturing processes of the alternative clothing products.  There are competing web pages to see who can complain the most about the other group.  A lot of hyperbole is thrown around.  As you have probably notice from earlier posts, I fall under the healthy vegan category.

Today, I made a few more staple items. The picture on top is the straining of the veggie stock. This one had the stems from collard greens, parsley, and basil,  tops of zucchini, bell pepper and eggplant, and the end piece of purple cabbage.  It made a very purple stock.  I also made a  vegan mayonnaise.  It tasted very close to the real thing.  The  consistency was not as heavy, but that will work out just fine. I intend to make some creamy salad dressings with it.  I wanted to make some olive bread, but have been fighting a migraine all day.
For breakfast I made a smoothing from almond milk, kale, an orange, and a frozen banana.  This was the first time I have frozen a banana.  I am guessing that I should have peeled it before freezing because peeling a  frozen one is not easy.
For lunch I shredded a carrot and a zucchini  and added some green onions, garlic and chickpeas.  This mixture was microwaved for 5 minutes then added to white rice that was cooked in veggie stock.
During the afternoon, I snacked on some the Oatmeal Orange Coffecake and an apple.  Dinner was simple.  I sliced some cucumber to go with the hummus I made on Monday.  A fruit salad was made with grapes, blueberries, and currants with a poppy seed dressing. Finally, I grilled a zucchini and dressed it with a little roasted garlic olive oil.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More Bread

Last night I baked the rolls that were rising during my last post.  They are mixture of white flour, ground pumpkin seeds, and  oat bran cereal, which makes and interesting type of multigrain bread. They turned out very well.  For breakfast this morning I had one of the Ginger Scones. Still awesome the second day.  I continued with the salad for lunch.  Today's was mixed greens with black beans (leftover from last night), sliced almonds, and prunes sprinkled with some nutritional yeast and dressed with an balsamic vinaigrette.   I had a couple of brown rice cakes to finish it off.

For dinner I made a Pilaf of quinoa and the leftover white rice.  I took slices of extra firm tofu, dipped them in almond milk, then a breading mixture then baked them.  I grilled long slices of eggplant and finished off the meal with a salad of spinach and almonds.Everything on the main plate ended up being the same color. The picture of the spinach was blurry.

For snack time, I baked an Oatmeal Orange Coffecake.  Oatmeal, brown sugar, and flour were mixed with bananas, orange juice, zest, and some cooked oatmeal to replace the egg.  The glaze is powdered sugar, orange juice and zest.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stocking up

Today was grocery day,which came none too soon.  We were a little short on food which is why we were eating out more than usual. This week's cost was back up to 249.68.  That is the same as when I was buying  meat and dairy.  I still needed some pantry items like flour, canola oil. plum vinegar, Earth Balance, and amino acids.  The most expensive item was almond butter.  A small plastic container was 11.39.  These food items should last for the 2 weeks. I had to raid the freezer for dinner tonight.  I made a Black Beans and Rice dish using the leftover rice with some corn and black beans that I found in the freezer.  I added some shallots, garlic and red wine for flavoring.
During the day it was cooking prep for the week.   First up was a small loaf of whole wheat bread.
Then I made a big batch of hummus.
Next were some Ginger Scones.  I had a little bit of a cheat going on.  I still had 4 and a half sticks of butter leftover from the end of the year.  So I used them in the scones. Instead of cream, I used a mix of silken tofu and almond milk.  I had one  when they came out of the oven.  Awesome.
For my last prep dish, I made some Chipolte Black Bean Burgers that are ready to go on the grill. These are made with onion, black beans, oatmeal, parsley, bread crumbs, garlic, BBQ sauce and salt and pepper.
I have some Pumpkin Seed Bran Rolls that are currently rising.  I will show those tomorrow.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ra Sushi

We had lunch today Ra Sushi in Harbor East. I was hoping a Japanese inspired restaurant would have several vegan options.  They really did not have  that many.  Several vegetable appetizers are cooked in garlic butter.  I am thinking that is not very authentic. I started with a Strawberry Sakitini.  Sake is used in place of the vodka.  I am not a big sake fan, but I thought the strawberry might over power the sake taste, it didn't.  If you like sake, this might work for you.
For the an appetizer, I had the Miso Soup.  It tasted like it was made with a chicken broth.  That is okay for me, because miso has a lot of good health qualities.  The soup was very tasty once I got to eat it. The bowl was not very stable and my first bowl was dumped on the table and floor before I had any.  Tommy had a shrimp appetizer that was in an unstable dish that kept tipping over.  Function should outweigh aesthetics at a restaurant.
I had some grilled vegetables next.  They were are mix of sweet potatoes, asparagus, onions, bell peppers and Japanese eggplant. I had eaten most of the dish before I remembered to take the picture.
I finished off with the Tempura Vegetable Sushi.  This was very nice with a mix of sweet potato, asparagus and eggplant for the filing.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ouzo Bay

We stopped by Ouzo Bay for a happy hour dinner on Friday.  The restaurant is in Harbor East and serves Greek fare. They have a large deck area for outdoor seating when the weather permits.  Unfortunately, dogs will not be allowed in the outdoor seating area so we will not be making any stops there in pleasant weather. That is too bad, because the food is very good.  We started with a Greek sparkling wine which we did not know existed and items from the happy hour menu.  I had the Zucchini and Eggplant Chips and we split as assortment of spreads.

The first one is the Tzatziki which we did not eat because of the yogurt for me and the cucumber for Tommy.  The second one is a ground almond sauce, the red one is roasted red peppers and feta, and the last one is made from fish.  I had the almond and red pepper sauces.  I forgot about the feta until after I had eaten some. They were excellent spread on the chips. Tommy has the Grilled Octopus  that he proclaimed was the best ever.

Friday was National Margarita Day, so I had one!  It was good and in the traditional style without that syrupy sweetness. To finish off, Tommy had the Lamb Sliders and I ordered two sides from the dinner menu - Lemon Herb Potatoes and Green Beans in a Tomato Sauce.  I loved the contrast of the tart lemon with the soft potato.
On Thursday night, I broiled some of my faux sausage with a tofu sauce and paired with white rice with cilantro and peas.  The sauce was silken tofu with garam marsala, cayenne, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Catching up

It has been a few days since I have posted, so I am going to cover the highlights of the last few days.

After some errand running on President's Day, we decided to drop in at Vino Rosina for happy hour.  It is hard to find something that will top buying a new water hose.Vino Rosina infuses various liquors for making cocktails.  I had the one on the right, an apple infused rum with cider and champagne. Very nice, especially for the cold weather.  It was like a Hotty Toddy Martini.
We started out with the Almonds and Olives as appetizers. Tommy tried the popcorn which was a bacon caramel corn. I did try a bite.  It had a smokey, buttery taste. More adult that Fiddle Faddle or Screaming Yellow Zonkers.  The kitchen also made a custom flatbread so me, roasted cauliflower and potatoes on a tomato sauce.

I finally used the faux meatballs I made earlier. This was a pasta and meatball soup with spinach. The meatballs and pasta were cooked in a veggie broth and the spinach was added at the end.  I sprinkled some nutritional yeast on top for flavor. The soup was still hot when I took the pic, so you can see the steam.

For breakfast on Monday, I made some Homefries.  I sauteed onions and potatoes till soft and added grape tomatoes, green onions, and soy sauce.  I served them with applesauce and Pepita's.
Tuesday night I made Broiled Tempeh over Couscous with a Romanesco Sauce. I used pearled couscous with toasted almonds and mint.  The sauce was a mixed of almonds, breadcrumbs, and roasted red peppers that were pureed and spread over broiled tempeh. I liked tempeh best when it is broiled.  It has a nice crispy texture.
Tonight we had my Faux Sausage and Broccolini over Spinach Fettuccine. I crumbled the 'sausage' I made earlier with garlic and sauteed in some olive oil.  I added broccolini and rapini and steamed with some veggie stock. I tossed with the fettuccine and sprinkled some nutritional yeast over the top.

I have been leftover pancakes for breakfast and a variety of salads for lunch.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Night Out

Isn't he cute?
For breakfast, I made another version of a tofu scramble.  This one was more vegetable oriented.  I sauteed onions, carrots, celery, bell pepper, garlic and kale in some vegetable stock. Then I added extra firm tofu, chili powder, turmeric and basil to the mix.  I had half of a sprouted wheat english muffin on the side.
For lunch I made a different salad with a new vinaigrette.  The salad was the classic spinach, strawberry and pecan.  The dressing was on the sweet side. It was a mix of cocoa powder, balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, garlic, shallot, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  The mix of cocoa powder and olive oil gave it the appearance of a chocolate sauce.

For dinner, we went to Alladin Kabob in Mt. Vernon with friends.  It is in the same space that Abercrombie once was across from the Meyerhoff.  The restaurant was not crowded even though there were two shows at the Meyerhoff.  But, the shows were stand up performances by Larry the Cable Guy.  I guess his crowd is   not the Indian/Pakistani food crowd.  I did see a lot of locals walking in for carry out.  We started out with some plain and garlic Naan.  I forgot to take pictures when the food was brought out, so my shots are of leftovers or from the website.  The Naan and fresh and light.  There was a little bit of an oil on it. I am not sure if it was ghee or olive oil.
Garlic Naan

For an appetizer I had the vegetable samosas.  They were a crispy, deep fried triangle. All of their food is spicy, including these.  I had a sweet and sour sauce for dipping and passed on the spicy cilantro sauce in the  picture.  They also had a chickpea appetizer and Aloo Tikki that I did not try.  It is nice to have options, which is becoming rare when eating out.
Samosas are in the upper right hand shot
My entree was a Vegetable Biryani.  The rice was mixed with potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, and onions.  It was definitely on the spicy side and I ordered the medium spice which was the lowest heat level. The dish was large and picture is of the take home container with the leftovers.  The dish was good, but there was nothing special about it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day

and the day after.  I made another attempt at pancakes.These were Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes with  the banana acting as the binder for the dough. The texture was much better than my last attempt.  Not exactly the same as egg pancakes, but an improvement over the silken tofu ones.  The big down side would be if did not like bananas. I ate them with maple syrup.

For lunch I had a mixed greens based salad with a Red Wine Vinaigrette.  The dressing was made with olive oil, dijon mustard and red wine 'vinegar'. When we buy a wine that is not very good, I save them the cooking.  Often a red is kept for a while and allowed to vinegar. When used in a dressing it has a very strong distinctive taste that is a little wine and a little vinegar.  Tommy and I enjoy this, but it might not be everybody's style.  The salad was composed of mixed greens, peanuts, butternut squash, dried cranberries and roasted bell pepper.

We usually do not go out for dinner on Valentine's Day because it of large crowds, limited menus and less tasty dishes than the regular menus offers.This year was no different.  I decided to go with comfort food and make a French Toast Sandwich.  Last time I made French Toast, I just ended up with soggy bread. This time I blended the silken tofu and almond milk in a mixed for a smoother soaking liquid.  That part worked. However, when the bread was toasted the mix stayed in the skillet and did not adhere to the bread. The bread was crispier because I cooked it longer, but it did not resemble French Toast. I spread the bread with a mix of dijon and honey to make a honey mustard.  It was not as sweet as regular honey mustards and had that dijon zing. I used flax seed tempeh for my meat (Tommy had deli turkey.) that was fried in the olive oil while the bread was cooking.  This did not have the best texture.  Next time I will try a different cooking method. Finally, I melted some rice 'cheese' over the sandwich.  This stuff was awful.  I knew it would not taste like real cheese, but I hoped it would taste good. That didn't happen.  The photo makes the sandwich look more palatable than it was.

For today's breakfast, I made a Pumpkin Oatmeal. Old fashioned oats were simmered with water, dried cranberries, raisins, pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg with a little agave nectar to sweeten it.

Lunch was a vegetable and bean salad featuring a Lemon Vinaigrette.  This was a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, salt and pepper. The salad was made with red cabbage, kidneys beans, butternut squash, snap peas, walnuts,cucumber, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives,  roasted yellow bell pepper, carrot and watermelon salsa.

Dinner was based on the basic idea of meat and potatoes.  The tempeh was grilled this time, since I was also grilling steak for Tommy. The browning of the tempeh improved its taste and texture.  For the sides I microwave baked some small russet potatoes and boiled green beans.  All of these were topped with a Miso Sauce that included ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil, green onions, sesame seeds and olive oil.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Hour

Tuesday night we had a neighborhood Happy Hour at Shiso Tavern. Got to meet a few more locals.  I started with a Peach Bellini and an order of Vegetable Spring Rolls to split with Tommy.  They were nice and crunchy.  For the main course I ordered the Tofu Pad Thai.  I have never had Pad Thai before.  There were lots of noodles with friend chunks of tofu surrounding the bowl.  After I had about 2/3 of the dish I noticed something that was not tofu or a vegetable. EGG.  It was not distributed throughout the dish so I probably ate very little. So when I get home I look up recipes for Pad Thai and see that egg is a common ingredient for the dish.  Live and learn.
At breakfast on Wednesday, I started making new dishes.  First up was a Zucchini Breakfast Scramble. It was similar to the other ones I have made.Sauteed onion, garlic and zucchini were added to cubed firm tofu. Chili powder and soy sauce were the spices.  This was served on top of a sprouted wheat english muffin and topped with Watermelon Salsa.

For dinner, I had a saute of butternut squash, onion and kale with walnuts and dried cranberries. Some veggie stock, lemon zest and juice, and soy sauce were the sauce. The original recipe was from a fitness magazine.  My only adjustment was leaving off the crumbled goat cheese, though I did add it Tommy's plate.  I am finding that I am using certain staples a lot more than I did before.  A bottle of Tamari (type of soy sauce) would last several months, now it lasts several weeks. I am miso paste for soups and dressings.  I never really used it before. I am also  keeping a good stock of vinegars - rice, sherry, apple cider, and balsamic.  I use at least one every day. Fresh lemons and limes are a must have. I keep several vinaigrettes on hand for salads - miso, soy ginger, and balsamic maple are some of my favs. I will be making more this week.  Tahini, a sesame paste, is very useful for hummus and chickpea dishes.