Sunday, January 28, 2007

Behind the Apron


Humm.. What can I share about myself? I am a 36 year old mother of four. I have a degree in biology w/ an emphasis in ecology. After I got my degree I worked as a fisheries biologist. An awesome job, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel all over Alaska to some VERY remote places.. I got my degree as a single mother w/ my two older kids in tow. Kinda of a strange turn of events -that I ended up after all of that blood sweet and tears of being a single, working mother going to collage only lead me to be a stay at home mom w/ my two younger ones.

Why Vegan? Unlike many of you long time vegetarians I am a newbie.. At first when the news came of Mad Cow in the U.S. I immediately stopped buying/cooking beef. I started replacing some of meals w/ vegetarian. Then when my youngest daughter, Emma was about 18 mo old we had just quit breastfeeding and she broke out in the most un-godly rash/hives for six weeks. So bad that at times her joints/ hands and feet would swell up and it was too painful for her to even walk. Terrifying. She had also dropped off the growth chart from the fiftieth percentile to the 12th, and was diagnosed w/ failure to thrive- again terrifying. I had spent hours on the Internet as well as hours at the doctor. I had begun her on a gluten free diet and switched to soy. Meanwhile still feeding her eggs. Finally a blood test had shown that she was allergic to all dairy (milk and eggs). The signs were there her whole little life.. The only time I ever really drank milk was when I was pregnant or breastfeeding. So began our journey. I had to relearn how to cook everything. So, I bought some vegan cookbooks. For a while I was cooking basically two dinners- that got old quick. And after expanding my vegan cookbook selection all of the food just looked so good. One thing lead to another I quit cooking meat and began cooking one dinner every night-Vegan.

Here I am in Hong Kong last November. I was very fortunate to be able to join my little brother in Thailand for two weeks. He had been traveling throughout South Eat Asia for a year and was getting ready to come back when I thought to myself that he would be the perfect tour guide. A trip of a life time. We stopped in Hong Kong for a couple of days on our way home. I was happy to be there despite my picture..Really. I had woken up that morning w/ a KILLER sore throat.

This is my family- my oldest daughter Amber(17) holding Emma(4), my oldest son Keith(20) holding Eli(5), my honey and I . This was taking last summer at my little brothers wedding.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Busy week = Vegan Fast Food

Wow, a whole week has just zoomed by. DH had to leave again on business and that makes life a bit hectic around here. Before he left, our little social butterfly Emma had orchestrated a family date. We went to a noodle place kinda like a Mongolian barbeque kind of thing. You fill your bowel w/ veggies, noodles and a sauce and they fry it up. All of the sauces that are vegan are clearly labeled. So, I couldn't decide on which picture to post .. The one w/ o the flash or the one w/ the flash.. This is the Gee Whiz Spread from the Uncheese cookbook on the noodles w/ green beans. The kids ate it, but I think they would prefer the my normal cheese sauce on their noodles. I was intrigued by this one because it uses white beans for the base..And I had just pressure cooked a boat load of beans (white, chick and black). Besides I am always on the hunt for the next family favorite. This sadly wasn't it though.
A meal on the run, the kids and I got home after school and running around w/ just enough time to make a quickie sandwich and steamed asparagus before we had to leave again for a preschool meeting. I had bought a tofu cutlet- blahh very bland. But, affordable and quick. The real selling point was the new bread from Costco.. The kids just loved it! I was pretty surprised they both don't like to eat crust but, LOVED this crust.
From the Vegan Vittles cookbook the Cheddary Cheeze Soup. Well, sort of my modifications include using two cups white beans instead of silken tofu, sweet potato rather then a white, veggie broth instead of water and added some of the left over cauliflower from the other day.. Yum, I Love this soup! The kids - ehh,, I can't say they love it, but they will eat it. They did love the bread sticks though.
One very dolled up Annies cheesless pizza.. I added oodles of zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, red onions, and veganrella. From The Everyday Vegan some Soul-full Chili. We had my daughter Amber and her boyfriend for dinner that night and need to make something that wasn't going to our weird vegan food. I.e. no tofu, seitan and what not. This chili got mixed reviews though, a bit to tomato-y for some. It did age well, the leftovers were great.
To go w/ the chili I made corn bread using the country corn muffin recipe from How It All Vegan. Only I cooked it in my cast iron skillet.

I see a lot animals on other vegan blogs out there. Now, let me introduce you to our dogs.. Emma is on the girl dog her name is Tani. A great big love bug! They were trying to ride her. One would throw a snowball to get Tani to jump up and chase. Nobody got a ride though, it was more like being thrown from a bucking bronco.

Here is the boy dog Timber.

They are Black Russian Terriers my honey got them from a very good friend and colleague from Russia. They are very good family dogs, Timber however is a guard dog and will bite when a stranger approaches the door. Once inside he will be your best bud, and leaving generally isn't a problem either. It is just getting guest into the house that's the problem. He is a very sweet boy though once he gets to know you. They have quirky personalities and are very smart and playful.
Traditionally their breeds hair looks like this.. They don't shed, their hair just grows and grows. Ours are outside dogs and living in Alaska we don't want them to get a chill during the winter.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tofu sramble success!!!

I made the tofu scramble from VWAV last Saturday night. We had a weird kind of day, we just hung out and snacked all day. Except Eli who went to a birthday party where he got to make his own pizza (very exciting). Anyway, there was just no need for a big dinner production, when I got hungry I made this scramble thinking I would offer it to everyone and they could eat it or not..(oh ya, I was in a mood). This is what Mom wanted- this is what I was cooking and everyone was welcome to join me. Now, mind you I have been pureeing my veggies for my kids sake FOREVER! Not this time can you see the tofu, mushrooms, green peppers, onions -OH MY! Nothing hiding there huh? I cooked it in our quesadilla maker w/ a bit of veganrella. Everybody came to the table and never said a word about what was inside their tortillas.. Even Eli ate it!

Looks kinda creepy huh? I used up some of my seitan from last week in this Vietnamese "beef" noodle soup from Vegetarian Soups for all Seasons. I have made a soup like this before using a recipe from the Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow cooker and all though they are very similar I think I prefer the slow cooker recipe.
My first recipe from the Vegan Lunch Box- the "fish" sticks. Pretty good, a nice change from the baked tofu nuggets. I think they would be a better using a "fishy" marinade I found in the Cooking Southern Vegetarian Style cookbook. Maybe next time. Along side we have some carrot-potato pancakes from Vegan Family Favorites. Those were awesome! I must say that is one recipe that everyone wished I had doubled!
And finally, a Vive le Vegan recipe, the Sweet curry chickpea casserole. This one just didn't strike my fancy. I loved the idea, loved all the ingredients but, I think we would all prefer the Sweet potato curry from Vegan Family Favorites. Or really a combo of the two.
So, lastly I was invited by Laura from the Jewish Vegan to participate in a vegan/vegetarian recipe exchange I was wondering if I could recruit anybody out there in blogland? Anybody interested? You would be asked to send a recipe to two people then pass on the e-mail to ten of your friends. In return if everybody does it you should get a boat load of new recipes. If your interested please e-mail me at

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Monday, January 15, 2007

seitan three ways..'beef', 'turkey' and 'ham'

Quinoa and Black Beans (a repeat ). To this recipe I add a can of fire roasted tomatoes and a can of green .
From La Dolce Vegan -Mock Beef and Rice Noodle Toss. Yet another Honey's favorite! The mock beef is kinda freaky stuff though.. It is really "beefy". It was unanimous this was an awesome dinner and the leftovers the next day were even better!
I guess I got stuck in my seitan rut only using the VWAV recipe and was ready to try another recipe. The LDV method of seitan making requires some time investments as you need to deflate the seitan every ten minutes.
After the rave reviews from the "beef" I was anxious to try the other seitan recipes from LDV and decided on the "ham" and "turkey".. Funny, I really liked the "turkey", but Eli and Emma preferred the "ham"- I thought it was just too salty. Overall though the "beef" was by far every one's favorite. I will be sticking w/ the VWAV recipe when I want to make nuggets though it just has a denser texture I prefer.
Here we have a peak into my quesadilla w/ the 'ham' seitan and veganrella mozzarella along side some of my cream of tomato soup.
I used the turkey seitan in this noodle dish. I was winging it and trying to get a creamy noddle dish- sauteed an onion, lots of celery and mushrooms then pureed w/ some soy creamer and plain soy milk seasoned and volia. It was okay, though not great. I think it was the whole wheat noodles I really didn't care for. It was a brand I had never tried before and evidently some are way better then others. Nobody complained though..
Yes, we have been eating an obnoxious amount of carrots lately.. The available produce at the store is in a mid winter slump around here.. Over priced and marginal at best.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

this weeks far..

Here's what has been happening in my kitchen latley... Before we get to the pictures, let me just say that the sunflower lentil sandwiches are soo delicious! I didn't get a picture but, if I ever make it again I may just have to make two pies - one for dinner and one for sandwhiches. It is that good. I added a bit of 'mayo' but I mostly moistened it w/ the mustard sauce and then added lettuce and sprouts.. Eli snubed it, but Emma ate it.

Not the most flattering picture, eh? This is one of those Mommy is too lazy to cook kind of meals that really does make the kids happy..Its from How it all Vegan - Mums bean & cheese casserole pg. 108.
Here we have some of the yummist muffins I think I have ever made. From La Dolce Vegan pg. 275 Cinnamon Apple Muffins. I had to make something for Emma to bring to school because one of her classmates was going to be celebrating a birthday.. So, she got to bring this for her snack.
From The Everyday Vegan pg. 84 Chickpea Mash Stew. Pretty good.. I substituted about 1/2 an eggplant for the zucchini- and well, when I went to the fridge to get the sun-dried tomatos I realized I had accidently bought smoked- ohhh not good - so that got left out. Bummer. Yes, it is extra pureed because there is just less dinner-table drama from the little ones that way. My honey thought it tasted a pizza soup. Hmmm.. I also made some wheat beer-bread.

We had some left over chickpea mash and so we recycled it for a quick dinner. Added it to some whole wheat penner and baked it w/ some veganrella mozzarella.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

veggie dumplings and sunflower-lentil pie

This could very well become one of our family favorite! I made the Veggies an Dumplings from Vegan Family Favorites pg. 175. I did spruce it up a bit by sauteing an onion w/ the celery and carrots. I also added some corn and chopped up seitan making it a one pot wonder! My DH could not get enough of it! It was so much better then the chicken and dumplings I use to make using the recipe of from the Bisquick box..(Although, my daughter Amber would very much like to disagree w/ that statement- she is far from being even vegetarian let alone vegan. She did try it though.) If you are ever in the mood for some wholesome, kid friendly, vegan comfort food I would highly recommend this recipe! Next, we have from Dreena's Vive le Vegan we have the Sunflower-lentil pie, with some very lightly steamed broccoli and some butternut squash on the side. I did make the recommended Sesame Mustard Tahini Sauce to go over the pie I also drizzled it over my broccoli (oh my-YUM). Okay, this was not one of the kid's faves.. But, me and my DH thought it was very-very good especially w/ the sauce! Dreena also recommends mashing it w/ some vegan mayo and making a sandwich out of it- Me oh my that's whats happen for lunch tomorrow. We'll see if the kids like it better that way.
Okay so Fiber at 28 cooks has a round up going on -

Fiber writes-

"Have you ever visited a food blog, day after day, and stopped and wondered what the chef behind the magic looks like? I often wander through my Blogroll and wonder who's on the other side of the computer. As food bloggers, we focus so much on the food that we often reveal nothing of ourselves to our readers. On any given street, I probably couldn't pick out more than 2 or 3 of the writers of the 100 or so food blogs I read on a regular basis. That's where this "Behind The Apron" round-up comes in. Starting today, and ending January 31st, post a picture of yourself on your blog, revealing as much (tastefully, of course) or as little as you want. Introduce yourself, show us your family, do whatever you want. "

And well, if you haven't been to this site before you should- there is by far the most stunning food photos ever and lots-o-yummy recipes!

A lot of you are braver then and I and already do this- with your avatars and what not. My Mom has been encouraging me to do this for months! She is absolutely on of my biggest blog fans and is positive that me showing you pictures of the rest of my family (i.e. not just those cute kids Eli and Emma) would please all of you! ahh.. but, I am shy.. and really don't photograph well.. I am one of those people who just HATES my picture being taken- it just never seems to lead to any good! But, I am up for the challenge!! Stay tuned in the mean time spread the word.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

a post .. a post..

Hello to all! Here is to hoping every one had a fabulous holiday season. I have really felt guilty about not posting during my absence! I was still taking pictures w/ the intent of posting.. I swear! My life was kind of struck, well, more like blind sided in November with some bad news and then I was on a crazy emotional roller coaster until mid December. Anyway, everything turned out well, as well as it could and we are are extremely thankful for that! A cute picture of Eli and Emma in the Christmas duds from their Granny. (ya, the windows are steamed up -I was making seitan;)
On with some food now- huh? Like I said I have many, many pictures of our food for the last month, but, it is a new year so I will just start fresh.
Two days ago my oldest son who was down visiting us for the holidays was leaving. For his farewell dinner I made some peanut noodles (coconut milk, peanut butter, splash of maple syrup and soy sauce and a dab of red curry paste) w/ a side of spicy stir fried red cabbage, onions and mushrooms. To say this boy (oops, he is 20 years old- no longer a boy-rather my boy) is meat and potato kinda guy is an extreme understatement- he is a pure carnivore. Anyway, during his stay I did try to feed him familiar foods like spaghetti, enchilada's, pizza and what not- minus the meat. He didn't complain, but as he was saying his goodbyes he told me he would be going on a meat binge when he got home, he felt so deprived during his stay.
Last night the kids and I got home late and I made some clam-less chowder. I combined two recipes one from La Dolce Vegan and the other from 20 minutes to dinner. It worked out well, I didn't have any kelp powder but, I had some nori strips I shredded up instead -guesstimating how much was needed. I came very close but, ever so slightly to much. I also had to puree the onions, carrots and celery for the little ones sake. I was pleasantly surprised that both Eli and Emma liked the soup. No, it didn't really come close to my Mom's clam chowder but, it was very satisfying non-the-less!
Well, folks that's all for now.. I truly hope everybody has a fantastic, happy and healthy new year! I am hoping to get back in the swing of things again and become a more regular blogger as well as commenting again.... I am very grateful for all of my new blogging buddies! You guys are the best! Blogging for me has become a very satisfying hobby and I just wanted to say thanks- for all of your great comments and fabulous blogs!