Friday, April 04, 2014

Small Bites - Caviart Tofu Puffs & Caviart Edamame

I never really indulged in caviar before going vegan. I had it once or twice, wasn't obsessed with it, wasn't disgusted by it. I did love sushi of all kinds, and there were plenty of fish eggs in that. Wow, now that we're vegan that sure sounds disgusting LOL. Anyway, the kind people at Caviart sent me some of their truly mind boggling-ly (yes, that's a word now) amazing product. Just wow. If you want truly authentic vegan sushi, an elegant appetizer for a cocktail party, or just used to really love caviar pre-vegan days, this stuff is great!

For my first shot at creativity, I stuffed some fried tofu puffs with black caviar. The caviar shone. The tofu puffs were kinda greasy. Just a lesson learned - don't buy pre-made fried tofu puffs unless you like a little grease, or have a knack for de-greasing pre-fried items. Or if you're not lazy like I was that day and want to make your own tofu puffs. That would be smarter. Next time I'll bake some off. So just take your cooked tofu puffs, cut a small slit in the top and spoon in a little bit of Caviart. Voila, elegant and quick appetizer or small bite.
Caviart Tofu Puffs

As I stared at each bottle of Caviart, I kept begging myself to come up with something creative instead of looking at the orange vegan caviar and immediately seeing a vegan sushi roll. But of course, I had to do a sushi roll, too. My husband was (pre-vegan) a California Roll lover and I loved Spicy Tuna Rolls. Why not combine the two, veganize it, and be done with it, right? But you're going to have to wait for that recipe since I've got the small bites theme going today. My last quick and simple small bite is a spin (using the orange caviar!) on edamame. Usually, I like to boil or steam my edamame with a little chopped garlic and then sprinkle on sea salt. Delicious. I thought, why not add some elegance and use the Caviart for some of the saltiness. And boy did it add something. There really is no recipe, just cook your edamame however you normally do (my favorite way is to boil them with chopped garlic right in the water. Then drain, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and gently toss some Caviart in (or, even better, so the pearls do not break, just sprinkle on top).

Caviart Edamame

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Vegan Butternut Squash Garlic Knots

I try VERY hard to stay away from oil. Usually it's pretty easy because I've come up with ways to substitute for it in pretty much every recipe. With a garlic knot, however, what other way is there to eat it other than smothered in garlic butter & olive oil? And Parmela.

My husband had been begging for a good garlic knot for quite some time. We do indulge every so often and get a Whole Foods vegan pizza and some garlic knots but they are just so damn expensive. And even when you say "light on the vegan cheese" most non-vegans don't know that two shreds of Daiya spread like the plague and cover an entire slice of pizza LOL. So it's always swimming in cheese. And costs $15 or something crazy like that, plus the $12 (I think) for the knots. Then while you're there you always have to get some vegan chocolate chip cookies for dessert ($6), some Zevia ($6) and before you know it you've got an entire paycheck's worth of groceries all for some garlic knots. Skip the shopping spree (for tonight) and make my vegan butternut squash garlic knots. You know you want to. I figured that if I was going to indulge, I had to at least make the knot itself healthy.

Butternut Squash Garlic Knots

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 1 tbsp. applesauce, divided
  • 7 oz. (approximately 2/3 c. + 1/4 c.) Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. applesauce
  • 2 tbsp. butternut squash, pureed
Garlic Butter:
  • Earth Balance (butter flavor, coconut spread, your choice)
  • Olive Oil (I didn't have any but you are certainly free to use)
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • Parmela
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt (to taste)

Heat your water and 1/2 tbsp applesauce to approximately 115°F. Stir in yeast. Allow to bloom.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, mix flour & salt. Pour in water/applesauce mixture, additional 1/2 tbsp. applesauce, and butternut squash. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for an hour.

Cut dough into equal pieces. Roll out in your hands into long cigar shapes. Tie into knots. Set aside on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with damp cloth and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes in a warm place. I like to use the top of the stove while it is finishing up preheating.

Bake knots for approximatley 10 minutes, or until browned.

In a small saucepan on medium low, or in the microwave, heat minced garlic in equal parts olive oil and earth balance. Add salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Pour over top of warm knots. Dust with Parmela. PLENTY of it!

So tell me, what will you be serving these knots with?

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Monday, February 10, 2014

"The Chicken Story..."

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I had one of my baby brothers over for dinner a few months ago. His gorgeous, sweetheart of a girlfriend and one of his oldest friends also came. It's always nice to just sit around with family, talking and catching up. We were talking about the blog, social media, and then somehow the conversation turned in the direction of my crippling fear of both Kevin Bacon and Keifer ("Creeper") Sutherland, and my former fear of chickens. Yes, chickens. Well, to be honest, if this were a year and a half ago and you came at me with anything bigger than a finch, I'd probably hyperventilate and start running.

Whether I was running from a large duck, covering my head as I ran to the car while blackbirds flew overhead, I knew that my fear definitely started with a chicken at a petting zoo about 5 years ago. Leah asked to go in and visit the animals. I obliged, thinking nothing of it. The minute I entered that tiny pen, I felt eyes looking through me. As I looked up, a chicken no bigger than a honeydew made eye contact with me. I swear, she gave me the death stare. She may not have been able to say it out loud, but if I didn't know better, I'd have sworn I heard that chicken mutter, "Die, bitch," under it's breath at me. Instantly, I was terrified. I felt helpless to defend myself. What can you do when the poultry maffia puts a hit out on you? Nothing!

I guess I could sense her stress, or her fear, or her anger. She did, after all, mutter direct death threat. Hell, I'd be angry if I was shoved into a tiny pen so a bunch of grubby little hands could feel all over me. Well, I'd probably be swinging if that was the case, but given the fact that chickens can't make fists...there wasn't any punching. I was convinced, however, that they all wanted to peck my eyes out. Back then I ate meat and eggs and dairy. Back then I didn't make the connection and truly think about why I was picking up on such stress from that poor chicken. I was just convinced that all birds wanted to peck my eyes out for no good reason. And I thought that made perfect sense. Now I see that it made just about as much sense as me having a panic attack whenever I saw commercials for 24 before it went off the air. But at least Creeper truly is creepy. Chickens are just innocent creatures in cages that we force them into. And generally, they don't peck out anyone's eyes.

"Hey, mommy, do you think that the ducks know that we're vegan?" Leah asks, thoughtfully, as we pass the pond by our house.

"I don't know, baby, but I can honestly say that I feel like they know we won't hurt them." I answer. I mean every word, too. I feel that just as those petting zoo chickens sensed my fear as I sensed their fear and anger, the animals we encounter now can sense our peace, and that's why they can be so at ease around us.

"I think they do know. I think they know that we aren't going to eat them, and that's why they let us get so close, and why they aren't afraid of us anymore." Leah is convinced of  the truth in this statement, which she makes at least once a week when we have these conversations. Ever since going vegan, when we encounter an animal, whether it's the family of ducks at the pond in our neighborhood, or a turtle crossing the road in the rain (who we've helped out of the road 3 times now!), or the crows in the parking lot at Whole Foods. The squirrels at the park were clucking at me last weekend and as I "tsk tsk-ed" back at them, they started to follow us along the running trail. Whatever I said to them really got them motivated to keep up with us. They really liked whatever I said. Hopefully I wasn't hitting on them, LOL!!

Even as meat eaters, we never would've dreamed of killing a chicken or a duck at the pond for dinner. Now that we don't eat animal products of any kind, the hypocrisy of that is so apparent. We were perfectly okay with consuming animal flesh, but wanted no part in knowing how it got to our plate. Maybe in some way, I feared our winged neighbors because my guilt made me wonder if they knew that I had no qualms about eating a bird just like them - as long as someone killed it, beheaded it, de-feathered it, and neatly wrapped it in plastic packaging for me. Maybe they knew that I thought that just because I was bigger and smarter than they were, I could eat them if I damn well pleased. They must have known that I thought that just because they couldn't fight back or speak up, I could do to them what I saw fit. So whether I was willing to do the "dirty" work and kill the animal or not, I thought that it was my right as the bigger, stronger, smarter being to use those beings I viewed as lesser in any way I liked. As a woman, typing those words and re-reading them now makes me feel ashamed because I think about a larger, stronger man taking advantage of a smaller, and less sober me when I was 19 years old. He thought that he could do what HE damn well pleased - simply because he thought he was smarter, and because he was bigger and I was in no way able to speak up to say no, nor could I fight back.

So even though at face value my fear of chickens was hilarious, having been told "you should blog about that" made me quite introspective. I pick myself apart on a daily basis and usually I come to no useful conclusions. Tonight, I hope I made some conclusions that helped you make some connections or at the very least, got you thinking. I also hope you were able to laugh with me at myself. Maybe some day, I will make some profound connection about Creeper. As far as Kevin Bacon goes, I think it's just that he reminds me of Creeper. But until then, I will stay away from re-reuns of 24, Footloose, and have my husband fast forward through certain scenes of Stand By Me.