Posts filed under ‘Vegan Thoughts’

Snow Day!

Those crazy farmers who write the almanac…they were right! They said we wouldn’t give significant snowfall (after the crazy Halloween blizzard, of course) until February. The Leap Day Snow Extravaganza! Go ahead and take that one for free news anchors – so catchy. And guess what? Next year, yesterday didn’t even happen, so this snow doesn’t count. Accordingly, I’m pretending it doesn’t exist.

On such a snow day, one would think to spend the entire day cozy and maybe cooking? Especially since I’m slowly discovering a joy in cooking, but no, I spent the day writing and getting distracted by my adorable cats and Pinterest. Plus, we literally have no food. We live in New England and knew about this blizzard, but didn’t run frantic to the grocery store for bread and milk and other snowed-in-for-God-know’s-HOW-long essentials.

Let’s discuss what I cooked over the weekend to eat this week.

For lunches, as a side, I made Quinoa Pizza Casserole. I ate it today with leftovers from Saturday. This was my first dive into vegan cheeses. Not disappointed in the cheese at all! I find that shredded mozzarella cheese kind of has a fake cheese taste anyway, and Galaxy’s mozzarella chese has the exact same flavor. When it was baking though, I did notice that it doesn’t get as gooey-melty as regular cheese, which is a common complaint amongst vegans. As long as it tastes similar, I can get over the non-meltiness. Before I baked it, the casserole was yummy, but when I ate it on Monday (after baking, obv) it tasted burnt and just…strange. I didn’t finish it and I was so disappointed.  And I haven’t tried it again since Monday, so that was an unfortunate waste. I may have just cooked it too long, due to the non-meltiness of the cheese. I’m sure I’ll give it another go some time.

For Monday’s dinner, I made Happy Herbivore’s Hippie Loaf with mashed cauliflower and a reappearance of the ginger garlic string beans. So much went wrong with this. The cauliflower calls for milk, so I poured in my almond milk. Yeah, that milk is VANILLA flavored. So, I made vanilla, cream cheese, garlic mashed cauliflower. Sound appetizing? And to top it off, they got ice cold instantly, so when I served dinner, they were basically frozen. No one liked them. The hippie loaf wasn’t bad, but it was very plain. I’m not sure what I can do to spice it up, but I’ll figure something out because I really love quinoa. The string beans, though, did not fail.

I already know what I’m making next week, and I’m very excited. It’s pretty basic and I’m telling myself it’s a no-brainer.

On another note, I need to do a quick advertisement. My name is Briana and for years I have tried very hard to like hummus. It’s a healthy dip for vegetables. It’s spreadable on sandwiches. Everyone I know is all, “Oh, I LOVE hummus!” I’ve tried many flavors – plain (vomit), hot pepper, spinach and artichoke. They all failed me, even the artichoke one, which I still can’t believe. Hummus has rejected my efforts until I found Roasted Garlic Hummus. Rainbows spread across the sky, Heaven opened up, and God said, “Here, Briana, be at peace with hummus.” It’s from Good Neighbors and their slogan is “Hummus the way it should be.” Yes, my thoughts exactly! It’s just so garlicky and I’m truly in love. So thanks Good Neighbors for making me wish I could be your neighbor.


March 1, 2012 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

Discovering a liking for tofu

Since the beginning of my vegan journey, I have seen tofu as a necessary evil. It would be something that I would have to try very hard to like. And man, have I tried hard to be besties with this veg staple, but our relationship wasn’t very friendly until I discovered a recipe for Bulgogi-style tofu.

The only thing I know about actual Bulgogi is that it is Korean and some kind of meat. And it’s probably really good, considering I found the tofu recipe DELICIOUS. Can you even believe it? It is flavor packed; it’s supposed to marinate for at least 8 hours, but I had it marinating for much longer…much, much longer. But as far as I’m concerned, there is nothing wrong with that!

So apparently, tofu is something that needs to be pressed. I learned that from the recipe, but I pressed mine for way longer than necessary (because I suck at reading directions) and it was still not completely dry. So, I REALLY want (read: need) one of these – TofuXpress. It smushes the crap out of the tofu without stacking books on top of tofu and waiting an hour for it to smush. And without wasting approximately seventeen paper towels.

The other issue was that I didn’t slice the tofu thin enough, but this only excites me about making it again. This was so good on the first, clearly imperfect attempt that I can only imagine it getting tastier and tastier with each try. I enjoyed it with brown rice and a side of garlic kale.

Kale is bitter when raw. It’s so bitter that when I ate it in a salad once, I couldn’t finish the salad. Cooked, however, kale is ah-maz-ing. Smothered in garlic? To. Die. For. Plus, garlic and I are total bffs. I am in LOVE

with garlic. The only change I plan to make to this recipe is to use less Earth Balance. The recipe calls for vegan butter and olive oil, but I’m pretty sure I will be happy with using much less of both ingredients. The garlic and soy sauce flavor is plenty! A bite of tofu and kale together? Divine.

Needless to say, both of these recipes have excited me about going vegan. And both of these pictures have shown me that I really need to work on my food photography skills.

February 20, 2012 at 2:36 am 2 comments

And we’re back

Okay, this is about the bazillionith go-around, I know, but I guess the point is I never stop trying. I get points for that, right? I’m taking a different approach this time, and there are multiple reasons.

My approach is to find vegan recipes that sound delish and make them. How simple! At the same time, I am still eating meat, though I have cut out a lot of dairy. For the most part, I no longer drink milk or eat yogurt or ice cream. I haven’t had eggs either. Then again, I have had foods that contain these ingredients.  I’m easing myself into this, which I think is the best way to do it. Obviously cold turkey didn’t work out for me. Plus, my current financial state is unfortunate and I can’t afford to go shopping for food all the time.

This week I made a quinoa salad with red onion, avocado, cherry tomatoes, red peppers, and a cumin-lime dressing. It was DELICIOUS. I’m in love with quinoa. I’m not really in love with red onion, so I think I will cut back on the amount the recipe calls for, because it’s just such an overpowering flavor that stays in my mouth for hours and hours.

I also made bulgogi style tofu, which is a Korean dish. It smells good, and I tasted a tiny piece. My immediate reaction was, “Wow! A recipe with tofu that I might actually like!” So, that’s promising. We’ll see tomorrow at lunch time. I cut my tofu too thick, and it certainly doesn’t look like the picture from the blog where I got the recipe.

Pinterest is kind of what sprang my renewed interest. There is SO MUCH great stuff (vegan and not) on Pinterest. And, I’m completely obsessed.

I’m getting in to cooking, and by that I mean really trying to follow recipes. No more short cuts and if I don’t have all the ingredients, I’m not attempting the dish. Doing this has led to disappoints, so it’s not worth it. I will attempt to take pictures as I go, but usually by the time I remember to do that, it’s already too late. Plus, the food I make doesn’t look as..picturesque as what I see around the internet. Perhaps with practice, it will beautify.

February 16, 2012 at 4:01 am Leave a comment

A Vegan in Texas – Spiral Diner Review

What? Texas? Yes! I’m now living in Texas. I believe their unofficial slogan is The Land of Beef.

Confession: I’m not currently vegetarian or vegan right now. Excuse: I’m living with family and currently unemployed. I’m conserving money as much as I can, so I’m eating what gets put in front of me. Am I hating every minute of it? No, but I do think about my goal to become vegan multiple times a day.

In fact, the more flack I get from people, the more drive I have. The other night, I made my beloved vegan chili for my meat-loveing family. It went over very well. Honestly, there’s no reason why a meat-lover wouldn’t LOVE this chili. Over dinner, I learned that chili in Texas contains pretty much nothing except meat. WHERE AM I?!?! Later, my aunt and uncle came over to visit their grandchildren and I got it all from my uncle. I didn’t expect him to understand  my reasons (health, ethics, etc.) and he noted that I’ll hear it from him until the day he dies. I’m okay with that.

Last week, I went to Spiral Diner, which I had researched even before I moved and could not wait to try. It’s in Dallas, specifically Oak Cliff. It’s got the old-fashioned diner vibe, but definitely not a typical diner menu. They use 100% organic whenever they can and are 100% vegan. Their menu ranges from coffee, teas, juices, organic sodas, smoothies, and shakes to salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and dinner plates.

I ordered the El Paso nutty burger. The nutty burger is made out of sunflower seeds, carrots, brown rice and spices. Although a veggie burger isn’t very adventurous, I had to try this burger made out of non-typical ingredients. Usually when you go to a restaurant and order a veggie burger, you get the standard frozen burger, but this one sounded unique. The burger came with guacamole, chipotle mayo, pickled jalapenos, and red onions. I ordered it with a side of potato salad. It. Was. Good. And it was gone fast. The burger was kind of crunchy at times, which I assumed were the sunflower seeds, but the texture was great and overall so tasty.

A couple at a neighboring table ordered the meatball sub. It smelled and looked SO GOOD. I made note that I’d try it out next time.

And whilst dining alone (also an experience), I discovered the Texas State VEGGIE Fair. Every year in the month of October, Dallas hosts the Texas State Fair, which is full of vendors selling fried butter, corn dogs, fried Oreos, fried Twinkies, fried pickles, fried whatever-the-heck-you-can-dream. And of course, all of the farmers with the animals. This weekend though, is the veggie fair with veg groups, veg vendors, veg fried deliciousness! I guess there is hope for Texas, after all.

P.S I had pictures of my food; HOWEVER, I updated my iPhone and it deleted all of my pictures and sent them to iCloud (I think and hope), but I can’t figure out how to access them. Sad. If you can offer assistance, please do!

October 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

Vegan Cooking: Favorites & Flops

This weekend, I went to Barnes and Noble in search of vegan cookbooks. I’ve decided to take the plunge to veganism and do the best I can. Avoiding meat is a lot easier in the sense that you know it’s there on your plate. You don’t always know when eggs or dairy are on your plate, or maybe you pop a Cheez-It in your mouth and remember after the fact. Cooking vegan is the best way to ensure that I’m eating vegan!

I needed cookbooks because I’m inexperienced in the kitchen. I need step by step instructions with complete lists of ingredients, and even then it sometimes doesn’t work. Thankfully, I found two great recipe books: Veganomicon The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, and Vegan Bites: Recipes for Singles by Beverly Lynn Bennett.

Both books do a fantastic job of explaining different foods to use in place of non-vegan ingredients, as well as healthier or more natural options. Plus both go over the tools you’ll need, or would at least be helpful to have stocked in your kitchen. They also both have a whole, long list of vegan pantry staples, which I find really helpful. A checklist is always going to work for me and it’s comforting to know that I have the basics stocked. Veganomicon even explains various ways of cooking several different kinds of veggies. Reading through it, I felt that this was all relevant and helpful information not just for an inexperienced, but willing chef, but also for the inexperienced vegan chef.

I just bought these books yesterday and haven’t had a chance to cook anything from them, but I looked through the recipes and am happy with what I’ve seen. Both offer quite a few recipes that play off of what meat eaters are used to eating, like meat loaf, tuna sandwiches, and sloppy joes. That doesn’t mean that they’ll taste or look the same – they might be better! Or, they might be awful, but at least it got you experimenting with vegan ingredients!

So far, I’ve eaten a lot of flops. For 4th of July, I made BBQ Seitan sandwiches, which were supposed to mimic BBQ beef/pulled pork. I also made BBQ sauce and marinated tempeh in it to grill. I made my own burgers out of mushrooms and they were ridiculously greasy and crumbly. All of it was bad, just BAD! And I was discouraged by those experiences, but I won’t give up, especially after tonight’s dinner, which proved that this way of life can truly be tasty and satisfying!

What cookbooks do you go to for recipes or inspiration? Have you tweaked any meat meals you used to enjoy to accommodate your vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. Share your favorites and your flops!

August 22, 2011 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment

Third time’s the charm, or so the saying goes

Tonight, I ate chicken. And it was delicious. Truly exceptionally delicious. It was Ritz Cracker chicken. Divine.

Yesterday, I ate turkey and bacon.

The day before that – okay, I could go on for approximately a month, specifically since July 9th. That was the day of my friend’s wedding when I devoured several bacon wrapped scallops. I love bacon, but I LOATHE fish. I was starving, though, and everyone kept saying “Wow! This is so good!” And down my gullet it went, with slight regret, and my world was changed. Whoa, bacon wrapped around scallops completely takes away that disgusting ocean flavor. Revolutionary! And so my veggie diet was botched for a day.

Then, I visited my Texas family for a weekend. Texas taught me that vegetarians do not exist there. If you’re from Texas and you’re a vegetarian, please comment on how you manage to survive in this state because I would love to know.

Then, I went to Vegas. Vegetarian in Vegas?! Psssh! Today, I found out that Steve Wynn (owner of multiple hotels in Vegas) is Vegan and makes sure that all of the restaurants in his establishments have Vegan options. Curse me.

It sounds like I’m blaming all of these events on my failed second attempt at vegetarianism, but I’m really not. Obviously it’s my choice. Liz’s wedding had a pasta buffet with meatless options. I could have made my fajita that we had for lunch one day in Texas without the chicken. I could have had only the pasta and salad at the Vegas buffets. But, I didn’t. It’s all on me.

So, back to the present time…I ate chicken for dinner. Clearly, my motivation is lacking. Here in lies one of the reasons for this blog. We’ve all had that teacher that would randomly call on students instead of waiting for someone to volunteer an answer. You wanted to be well prepared for that class, right? It was embarrassing to be called on and not know the answer. This blog is that teacher. I’m going public with my triumphs and mistakes. Owning up to it will motivate me to make the right (right, for me, being meat-free) choices, or at least that’s the idea.

July 1, 2011 at 9:17 pm 2 comments

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