Wednesday, 4 February 2009

I've Moved!

I've moved over the Wordpress as I'm tired of Blogger!

I've not posted anything new yet but have a ton of pictures and a stack of cookbooks out ready to tell you about what I've been making!

Please update your bookmarks, Bloglines, Google Readers etc to find me here:

http://vegfoodforthought.wordpress.com/ (someone had already registered veganfoodforthought and even though they're not using it Wordpress won't let me have it...).

See you there and sorry for being so quiet, I promise to catch up soon!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Carrot Burgers


These sounded quite nice and interesting but they turned out to be horrible... Piggle was the only one who ate a whole one, Jim and I had to make a deal that we would eat half of ours each and the leftover 3 were thrown away....

They are made from carrots (duh), onion, garlic, sunflower seeds, firm tofu, miso and tarragon. You basically stick it all in the food processor and the form it into burger shapes before baking them for 30 minutes. The recipe says that these are soft burgers but I think soft is an understatement, they just didn't stay together at all, I think they needed some vital wheat gluten, flour or breadcrumbs to hold it all together or something and give it more of a bite as they were far too soft for my liking. They also had a strange taste, I found them really sweet which was a bit off putting for a burger and I didn't use the sweet miso like the recipe called for but a darker one so with sweet miso they would have been even more awful I think.

I served them with roasted potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts so at least we filled up on other vegetables even though we didn't eat the burgers.... You win some you loose some!

"Beef" and Broccoli in Vegetarian "Oyster" Sauce

This was another pretty easy stir fry from this book. I used tvp chunks in it which had been reconstituted using the recipe from another of Bryanna Clark Grogan's books. The stir fry just has the chunks, mushroom soy sauce, broccoli, onion, garlic, ginger, vegetarian stir fry sauce (they're not allowed to mark it as vegetarian 'oyster' sauce over here as it breaks a trading standards rule being as there's no oysters in it...), some stock, a pinch of sugar and some salt (although the sauce is quite salty so that wasn't really needed). It's cooked your standard stir fry way so nothing tricky about it!

I served it over noodles from my Chinese supermarket haul along with some vegetable parcels I got at the same time which I fried. I have to say I wasn't a fan of the parcels at all, the pastry was a bit odd and the filling really wasn't my cup of tea. Jim, however, declared that they were delicious and ate quite a few so at least I know the rest of the huge bag will disappear over time!

We're done with Chinese for this week at least. I was supposed to make fried rice but I had a night where I couldn't be bothered to cook so the boys had tinned spaghetti on toast and I had some toast later on. I do really enjoy Chinese though but after overdosing a little this week I don't think I will ever put so much of it onto one menu!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Tofu and Broccoli with Hoisin-Ginger Sauce

Please excuse Blogger and it's odd habit of flipping photos for no apparent reason...

First outing for this new book and it looks like a good one to have, I am a big Robin Robertson fan and am trying to collect all her books when I see them for good prices. I read on her blog that she's finished '1,000 Vegan Recipes' so I'll be keeping my eyes open for a publication date for that. She's apparently now working on a book called something like Vegan on the Cheap which should be a good addition to my collection someday too.

As I said previously we visited a brilliant Chinese Supermarket so there is a lot of Chinese on the menu this week. I managed to find a bottle of Hoisin sauce that didn't have the words 'consume within 5 days of opening' which really annoys me because who the hell will use a whole jar in a week really? I also bought some extra firm tofu as I'd never seen the words 'extra firm' on any tofu before and I wanted to try it out.

The recipe is simple just like most Chinese dishes are. You don't actually stir fry the broccoli, you steam it. The tofu is fried until browned (which always takes longer than it says but was worth the effort) and then you add a lot of ginger and some spring onions before adding the sacue which is the hoisin, some chili paste (I used garlic and chili sauce which I love and it worked really well), water and soy sauce. Once it's all boiled together for about five minutes you stick the broccoli back in and then when it's all hot you serve it up.

I served it over noodles that I also got on our shopping trip and they were really nice. I also fried up some spring rolls that I bought there. It was really funny when I got them out of the freezer and was opening the box as I'd assumed they were quite big spring rolls. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that the box contained 60 of them, they're really small, so mainly pastry with a teeny tiny bit of vegetable in them and some seaweed by the taste of it. I put about an inch of oil in a saucepan and used that to deep fry them as they were so small and it worked out just fine.

My only minor complaint about this recipe is that it says it serves 4. My Mother was around to dinner so I served up 2 medium sized adult portions, a very small portion to Jim who decided to hate tofu last night (and as we all know is not a broccoli fan) and a medium sized portion to Piggle who wolfed it down along with 2 spring rolls. I can't see that this would serve 4 hungry people, I'd say make half again as much as the recipe calls for to serve that many, or add a few other vegetables to it or something as if we'd not had the spring rolls as well we'd not have been filled up by this meal.

It was incredibly tasty though and all the ingredients I'd got from the Chinese Supermarket were wonderful, I've already started a list for the next time my sister gets to go or I get a chance to go (sans children next time though, please, so I can do more label reading) and more of this tofu will most definitely be on my list!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Cabbage and Pasta Bake

So, this is what we had for dinner last night! It's a really simple recipe, you boil your pasta, throw in the carrots for the last five minutes and then drain all that. In the same pan you simmer the cabbage with some stock, nutritional yeast and herbs (the recipe calls for caraway seeds but I don't like that flavour so I used oregano). Then you throw in some crumbled tofu and mustard and heat it all through with some soya milk and cornstarch. When that's all thick and bubbly you add the pasta and carrots back in and then bake it all for 20 minutes.

I always find that this book doesn't use enough pasta so I doubled it. Next time I will just add half again as much as it calls for (making it one and a half cups) as there being too much pasta and me adding three times the soya milk to compensate obviously diluted the flavour a bit which didn't occur to me until after I'd cooked it!

It's a really tasty dish, although Jim wasn't a fan of it as he's having a love/hate relationship with tofu at the moment, but Piggle liked it and we both enjoyed leftovers for lunch today. I'll make it again and hope it's on a day where tofu is a yes for Jim!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Winter Harvest Soup

As I said in the menu post this was on a previous menu but never got made, but as it contains vegetables that I tend to be getting in the box and I still had the sweet potatoes I bought to make it I put it on again and managed to throw it together last night (yes, I'm caught up!).

There are a ton of vegetables in this soup; onions, swede, celery, yams (I used a regular potato instead), sweet potatoes and bok choy. There are also a lot of herbs and 2 tins of black eye beans, and I only made half the recipe which ended up being enough for about 6 people, so be warned it makes a ton!

It's very simple as most soups are, chop it, saute it, boil it, add the bits that don't need to cook for long and then it's done. I didn't bother thickening it as it was so chock full of bits that I thought a thick broth would make it more a stew.

We all liked this and it reheated well for Piggle's lunch today (he's got 2 more portions in the freezer too) so I'll make it again sometime and maybe try some different beans, the recipe says to choose whatever you like and the black eyed beans were what I had in the cupboard. I didn't add the chopped herbs and didn't read the note to increase the dried herbs if you weren't using the fresh but it came out fine anyway.

Vegetables and Menu

Almost there now, I promise! We've skipped a box here but basically what wasn't used for Christmas will be thrown into things this week. My Mother also came over and did a little bit of shopping from my fridge (which is only fair as I've 'shopped at Mum's' for many years now and never failed to return to University without a bag of food!) after Christmas for her turkey broth.

So, this week there was potatoes, onions, leeks, parsnips, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli and a huge swede. Off the top of my head I also had a bag of kale, a small butternut squash, more brussel sprouts and loads more carrots and swede already in the fridge.

The menu is for 10 days this time in order to get actually using the box a tad bit closer to it arriving. Previously it would arrive on a Friday and I'd not cook from it until Tuesday at the earliest. I'm only moving it a day earlier by using it on a Monday but I don't like to do my food shopping at the weekend as that means I either have to drag both boys around or I have to go on my own when they're away thereby wasting my 'alone time' in the shops. Also I find that Saturday's are when a lot of stuff isn't actually on the shelves, hopefully they will have restocked by Monday mornings, we'll see, if not I may have to go back to Tuesdays but it will be hard in the summer when the vegetables have a shorter shelf life than the winter ones do.

Anyway, that was a long ramble to get to the list which looks like this:

1. Winter Harvest Soup - Vive Le Vegan (never got around to making it last time it appeared on the menu).

2. Sesame Kale Soba - Get It Ripe (this time with kale rather than chard).

3. Tofu and Broccoli with Hoisin Ginger Sauce - Vegan Fire and Spice (a new book I treated myself to over Christmas) and noodles.

4. Cabbage and Pasta Bake - Table for Two.

5. Beef and Broccoli with Vegetarian Oyster Sauce - Authentic Chinese Cuisine, plus rice.

6. Basic Fried Rice - Authentic Chinese Cuisine, with spring rolls.

7. Fall Harvest - Hugger Food.

8. Carrot Burgers - Meatless Burgers with potatoes and brussel sprouts.

9. Stew and Dumplings.

10. ???? I have just noticed that I am apparently somewhat dim and the numbering on my menu goes 7, 8, 10... So who knows what I will cook on this last night, I guess whatever is left in the fridge and freezer!

The reason for there being so much Chinese food on the menu is that my parents, my sister, the boys and I made a trip to a Chinese Supermarket in Leeds on January 2nd. I went in with a tiny mental list and somehow spent £38 coming away with 2 big bags of stuff! I have a couple of frozen things (the spring rolls being one of them) that looked nice plus a load of noodles and 2 packets each of silken and extra firm tofu (the silken has a really long expiry date on it so I'm not worried about using that up right away). Of course when I got home I realised I'd forgotten to look for some things (as we all had) so another trip is planned in 3 months time, I probably won't be going but I'll be sending a list with my sister and whoever else does go. I also finally got my hands on some bok choy, they had several different kinds there and lots of other interesting vegetables I wanted to try. Anyway, I'm sure I'll visit it again sometime so I can browse again, hopefully without a baby in a pushchair and a 5 year old pushing a trolley willy nilly around the place!

Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale and Sun Dried Tomatoes

This sounded like an odd dish but as I had kale and brussel sprouts out the kazzoo I decided to give it a go and was really pleasantly surprised. It's a really simple quick dish to make too which is even better!

I used the second half of the seitan from Yellow Rose Recipes even though I think this dish would be a little better with a more 'beefy' kind of seitan, the 'chicken' style one worked just fine. You fry the seitan and shallots, throw in the sprouts, chuck in some garlic, herbs and salt and pepper and then add the sun dried tomatoes. Some broth and wine goes in (I think I used white again if I added any at all, I really can't remember now...) and once that is boiling you put the kale in and after 5-7 minutes your dinner is done!

This had a really nice warming flavour and was really filling with the mashed potatoes. Both the boys liked it as well and Jim ate a few more sprouts than he would normally have done had they been served on their own, he's not a big fan of sun dried tomatoes though but I guess they can be a bit strong (although Piggle ate them fine, but if you've been reading for any length of time you'll know that Piggle will eat just about anything!).

When kale and sprouts are filling my fridge I will pull this recipe out again.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Having 2 small butternut squashes in the box and feeling like trying lasagna again this recipe was just right for my needs. It has quite a few steps to it but it's more complicated written out than it is to make, although the 40 minutes baking time does add to the length of time it takes to prepare considerably.


There is tofu in the layer with the squash and you add some of the squash to the sauce too so the whole thing is pretty yellowly orange when you're done. I think if I make this again I will add some different vegetables to it or perhaps some vegan mince or something as it just needed a different flavour in there I felt. Instead of cooking the lasagna noodles first I used the Veganomicon method of pouring a cup of warm water over the whole thing before adding the final layer of sauce and the noodles cooked just fine. Whenever I've tried to cook the noodles ahead of time in the past I just end up with a pan full of noodles all stuck together so it's far easier to do it this way and I'll use the method whenever necessary in the future.

However, we all really enjoyed it and Piggle especially liked it and enjoyed it for lunch the next day too!

Simple Chicken Style Seitan and Crispy Beer Battered Seitan

I hadn't made seitan in a while and wanted to keep my hand in, so to speak, so I picked out 2 dishes for the menu that required it and hunted out a new recipe to try. If you recall I'd had some problems with simmering seitan on my electric cooker, I can't keep the heat at a level where it just simmers rather than boils so I decided to try the stick in in the oven method that I'd read about on a few blogs. Basically you follow the recipe up to bringing it to the boil and then instead of keeping it on the cooker you bung it in the oven at 325 for however long the recipe calls for.

The seitan from Yellow Rose Recipes is really simple to put together and it actually had a chickeny kind of smell which was pretty good. I made 8 'steaks' rather than the 10 the recipe said but next time I will go for the 10 as mine were a bit large when it came to the breading and frying process. Once it came out of the oven I discovered that the method works for me and I didn't have all spongy horrible seitan like I made last time I tried the boiling type so I will be using both the recipe and the method again in the future.

I had considered not using beer for the Beer Battered Seitan as I was serving it to kids, but after discussion with my sister we decided that it would be fine considering I was using a Miller Genuine Draft which is less than 5% alcohol anyway and I was frying it off which would get rid of the little alcohol there was. I'm not too hot on the whole frying breading thing and I normally come out with a big mess that looks horrible but this recipe really worked for me and I did 4 lovely crispy steaks. However, due to the size of them before they started and the lovely sticky batter they were absolutely humongous and I only managed about 2/3 of mine and the boys didn't even make it through half before they were full, so next time I will either do smaller steaks or I will do little cutlets instead.

I loved the battered seitan, I won't be making it every week as we're really not used to fried food in this house and it was a bit much. However, as I said if they were smaller then it would be much better. My only gripe with the finished product was that the first layer of batter seems to go a bit soggy when you have applied the second layer and there was almost a tiny layer of uncooked batter around the finished product. I'm not sure if that was to do with my frying technique (ie try not to burn myself or burn the house down) or whether it's just the way using two layers of batter come out.

Anyway, lovely food, will make again, probably enough said!

Paul's Giner Fried Rice with Vegetables


I started to cook this one night by cooking the rice but couldn't be bothered to make the whole thing so left it until the next night, which is fine as the rice is supposed to be cold anyway! I used white rice instead of brown as the boys prefer it and I'm also careful not to fill Piggle up on too many wholegrains as that could mean that he isn't getting all the vitamins he needs.

It's a pretty simple dish to put together once you've got the rice cooked, just stir fry the onion, ginger, carrots, courgette, broccoli and mushrooms, add some tamari and you're done. The recipe also calls for bok choy but I couldn't find any at all in the town I shop in so I used shredded cabbage instead and it worked fine. I even added the dash of cayenne that the recipe calls for and it added a really nice hint of heat to the dish so I'll do it again. The only omission I made was to leave out the walnuts as I thought they just sounded odd in a stir fry.

I really enjoy fried rice and the boys seem to like it too so I'm sure this will make a repeat appearance in the nearish future when we have the vegetables to hand, yet another way to dispose of the dreaded broccoli!

Spiced Roasted Parsnip Soup and Sesame Bread Sticks

This soup is so simple it's amazing. You roast the vegetables together (parsnips, carrots, onions, tomatoes) with the spices and then after you try not to eat them all you puree them with the stock and a bit of lemon juice and behold, soup!

As the vegetables were roasted the flavour was great and it didn't add any time to soup making preparation time either as I'd have have to peel and chop it all anyway. It also meant that I could do the vegetables in advance and leave them to cool before adding the stock which gave me soup at a cool enough temperature that I didn't have to do my usual shoving of bowls into the freezer to cool the food down so the boys could eat it.

The bread sticks were a bit more work that the soup and they didn't seem to raise very much, but then my kitchen isn't the warmest of places. I thought that there were too many seeds on them and a little too much salt too so I have made a note to reduce those next time.

We all enjoyed this meal, Piggle loved the bread sticks but then he's into feeding himself at the moment (and has doubled his number of teeth from 3 to 6 over the holidays!) so they would appeal to him as they were just the right size for him to hold onto and suck on!

I'm enjoying this soup book a lot and looking forward to trying a few more things from it soon!

Baked Penne with Broccoli and Tofu

Please excuse me while I dump out all these things I've cooked in one go! I'm doing them as separate entries so that they are easily found under the right book's label but I'm tired of having a stack of cookbooks on my desk and I want to post about what I make sooner after I've made it. Last year I was writing about five or more entries at a time so by the time it posted and you'd commented on it I'd forgotten what it was I'd actually made! My goal is to bring the blog into more 'real time' rather than having a delay of a week or more between the cooking and the actual post relating to that food appearing.

I also need to apologise for the fact that I took absolutely no food photos over the holiday season! We had some good food and did an awful lot of cooking but I never managed to get the camera and the food in the same place at the same time. The 3lbs I gained back over the holidays should attest to the fact that a lot of good eating occur though!

So here's something I made way back before Christmas!

This was the first outing for this book I believe and it was a really simple dish of broccoli, pasta, olive oil, onion, tofu, tamari, tinned tomatoes, wine (recipe says red, I used white as that's what I normally have in the house), herbs, breadcrumbs and some vegan parmesan.

Basically you cook the pasta and broccoli, make the sauce and then throw it all together in a casserole dish, cover it with breadcrumbs and bake that sucker.

It was really tasty and we all enjoyed it (although Jim is not a broccoli fan and we have to barter how many pieces he has to eat before he can have pudding, I know, bad parenting bribing a kid with sugar but it's healthier sugar than most kids get and I really want him to eat his vegetables!) and I will be making it again without a doubt.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Happy Christmas!

I have a load of recipes that I've yet to post about but I will catch up with those after the festivities have ended. I'm also cooking up a storm today getting things ready for the 3 days of eating our family will be doing, I will try and remember to take photos so I can tell you all about it after it's been consumed!

Here's wishing you and yours a lovely Holiday with tons of great vegan food to go around!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Barbecue Baked Tofu with Mushrooms and Bell Peppers

I have actually made this dish twice before, as the mess all over the recipe book pages would show you if you could see them, however it was during my period where I couldn't blog so I've never posted about it.

This dish is really simple to put together, you marinade the tofu and vegetables for a while and then roast them for a while before adding the really tasty barbecue sauce and roasting it a little bit longer. The sauce is made from tomato paste, peanut butter, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, mustard, blackstrap molasses, garlic and pepper. It calls for cayenne but I always leave that out and this time I added a little bit of liquid smoke to it which worked really well.

I served it with rice this time, the reason the rice is a funny colour is that I cooked it in vegetable stock to give it a little more flavour, it worked nicely.

Both the boys like this dish and I always enjoy it so it will go around in the menu rotation for a good while yet!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Shopping For Food

This week my Mother and I hit up Sainsburys and the health food shop as well as a quick jaunt into Morrisons to get Piggle's formula.

I bought; recycled toilet rolls, recycled kitchen rolls, chocolate soya milks, organic baked beans, organic dried parsley, 2 soya milks, organic vanilla soya milk, organic decaf fair trade instant coffee, white vinegar, organic haricot beans, extra virgin olive oil, fruit squash, organic sugar, macaroni, organic sunflower oil, 3 soya yogurts (one organic), margarine, cereal, biscuits, organic bread, baking powder, a courgette, organic tofu, a green pepper, half a cucumber, organic bananas, organic tomatoes, organic apples, organic mushrooms, scheese, 2 organic puddings, organic banana soya milk, 6 tins of cat food and night time nappies for Jim.

My total in the health food shop was £7.21, I spend £1.99 on Piggle's milk after using my coupons and I spent £37.09 in Sainsburys after using £5 worth of coupons. So with the £12 for the vegetable box that is £58.29 (around $84) and sticks right around my average spend each week recently.

I shouldn't spend that much extra for Christmas food as I am only providing the pizza we traditionally have on Christmas Eve (making home made pizza at my house for everyone) and I am also donating carrots and brussel sprouts from the vegetable box for the meal so those won't cost me any extra. I'm roasting the sprouts here and then taking them to my parent's house to be reheated so my Mother doesn't have to figure out how to fit them in her oven! My Brother In Law (the vegetarian chef) are doing some sort of stuffed seitan roll for the vegan main dish, I'm making the seitan and he is doing the stuffing part of it, hopefully it will come out well and there will be enough left for Boxing Day which is at my sister's house this year (making the most of us living close to each other this year!).

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Chickpea Broccoli Casserole

I hadn't pulled out Vegan With A Vengeance in ages so searching for yet another recipe to use broccoli in I found this one. I've read mixed reviews of it on the internet but figured I'd give it a go and see what we thought of it.

It's incredibly simple to prepare, you just throw all the ingredients into a baking dish and then put it in the oven for an hour in total. I was a little worried that it wouldn't come out completely cooked but it was fine. I used only 2 tins of chickpeas in mine as I thought that 3 was a little over the top, I also mashed up the chickpeas with the stick blender as a fork or a potato masher never works for me and I just end up with sore hands and frustrated. You also put in an onion, grated carrots, the broccoli, chives (I actually went outside and cut what few chives I have, yay me!), bread crumbs, olive oil, vegetable stock and salt.

As you can see we had ours with a baked potato and it was a really nice filling meal. The casserole is pretty plain, if you're looking for set your world alight flavours you won't find it with this dish, but it is a nice simple filling and tasty meal and I'm sure I'll use it again in the future.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Vegetables

I seem to have fallen behind again, I thought I'd posted about most things but the cookbooks seem to have sneaked back onto my desk again so I must be a few meals behind, must make an effort to keep it more up to date from now on!


So, in this vegetable box we got onions, potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, leeks, yet more swede (I'm giving them away now to whoever will take them!) and brussel sprouts.

The menu for the week is:

1. Broccoli Creem Soup with bread from Get It Ripe.

2. Barbecue Baked Tofu with Mushrooms and Bell Peppers from Get It Ripe

3. Baked Mac and Cheese from Yellow Rose Recipes

4. Beans in Leek Sauce from The Bean Book with roastie potatoes and probably swede and carrots.

5. Spiced Roasted Parsnip Soup from Soup Kitchen with some sort of bread.

Not many new things in there to post about but I was in the mood for tried and tested things this week and the mac and cheese is for my Mother to feed the boys while I'm at my knitting group as I know she won't have any trouble getting either of them to eat it!