Thursday, December 27, 2007

Several things

Why did I think I would get back here during the holiday season? I have been busy, busy, busy. On the bright side, I have done a lot of good cooking, but almost no writing. Here are some updates on the many topics I have thought about blogging in the past few weeks.

Having Friends Over for a Thanksgiving Meal

This is the meal with 3 other vegetarians sitting at the table, plus two friends who were just along for the totally vegetarian meal. We had a great time, and ate way too much food!

First, the appetizers--I made the dill dip I referenced in my last post, and my friend Tracey brought over olives cooked in crescent roll dough. These were SO GOOD! It may be a very 70's dish, but who cares? While we munched and I finished other things, I instructed Tracey in the making of the cranberry upside down cake from Urban Vegan. She did a great job! That was one of the best cakes I have ever had, just the right amount of sweetness without being too much.

I made:

A Tofurkey roast with carrots and onions
The gravy that came with the roast
My veggie sausage stuffing
Cranberry orange sauce
Pecan pie

My friend Andrea brought:

Nut loaf (pecans and sunflowers seeds, with rice and other yummy stuff)
Red potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes
roasted Brussels sprouts with lots of pepper (so I didn't steam the broccoli and cauliflower that I had purchased for the meal)
Some spiced apples that we forgot to get out of the microwave until after everyone was totally stuffed

We had some wine, and we played Boggle after we ate. I loved having my friends from different spheres over--one couple who have a daughter in S's class, two moms of boys in M's class, and Mandy, my friend from high school. Everyone got along and I had a great time.

An Update on the Egg Thing

I had some eggs for breakfast the other morning, and they tasted kind of yucky. That was partly because the egg whites were still a little runny (shudder), but also, I think I am getting over the weird craving, whatever that was all about. I don't fantasize about eating eggs anymore, and I can easily look past the eggs in the morning to grab something else for breakfast. I don't know what that whole thing was all about, but I am glad it is over. I am still not cutting eggs out entirely, but I am making it a much more occasional thing.

Christmas cooking

I had friends over for Christmas Eve, and I made Snobby Joes, from the teaser recipes on the Veganomican page over on The PPK. I also made a bunch of Herb Roasted Potatoes from Vegan with a Vengeance, because I wanted them for Christmas breakfast, but I didn't want to get up over an hour early to get them ready. I thought both recipes were delicious, but the kids thought the joes were a bit too spicy. Next time I will tone down the chili powder, because I want this to be a kid-friendly recipe.

I did get up a little early on Christmas morning to make the asparagus and tomato fritatta, also from Vegan with a Vengeance. Wow, was that so good! After my mother ate a serving and talked about how good it was, I told her that it was a tofu fritatta, and she was surprised. She asked, "There's no egg in this at all?" Nope, and it was extremely yummy. I think it would have been even yummier with the sun-dried tomatoes that the recipe called for, but my mom doesn't like those, so I used fresh. I have enough trouble getting her to eat my "weird" vegetarian food, I don't need to start on a bad note with something she doesn't even like. I heated up the potatoes in the oven right after I pulled out the fritatta, and they were great.

New Cookbook

No one gave me a cookbook for Chirstmas, but my brother gave me a gift card to Border's, and Veganomican was the first book I picked up. I have been drooling over that book since it came out, but I was holding off and spending my money on gifts for other people. I went right to Border's the day after Christmas though and picked up the book first thing! I cannot wait to start cooking from that book!


That's all the news that's fit to print for now. Have a happy new year, everyone!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

All the Thanksgiving meals

November was definitely a month for eating too much food. I have a lot more difficulty eating moderately around Thanksgiving than Christmas, because Thanksgiving food is real food, not junk. Well, except for the pie and cake, but it's still not an endless supply of cookies and candy like Christmas food is.

The first Thanksgiving meal was about a week before the actual holiday, at work. We do a big potluck for all the people on my floor. Okay, not all, but a lot of people participate. Of course, these meals generally have a lot of meat, and I don't even want to think about the dairy involved, but there is generally enough food available for me to eat far too much anyway. This year I brought my favorite stuffing, made with veggie sausage:

Sausage Apple Stuffing

~6 cups bread crumbs (I use whole wheat bread, cut into cubes and toasted a bit in the oven)
1 pkg. Lightlife Gimme Lean sausage
1 apple, diced
1 onion, diced
¼ cup raisins
1 TBSP poultry seasoning
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 ¼ cup apple juice (or, in my case, 2 6.75 ounce juice boxes, because that’s what I had on hand)

Gimme Lean sausage is very low fat, so I find it difficult to just crumble it in the skillet and cook it like normal sausage. So, I spray some cooking spray in the skillet, slice the sausage, fry until done, and then chop it into small pieces. Remove to a large bowl. Saute the apple, onion and raisins (the original recipe called for celery, too, but you will never find that stringy vegetable in any of my recipes!) with a little more cooking spray, then add to the bowl with the sausage. Mix in the poultry seasoning and walnuts, then stir in the breadcrumbs. Finally, pour the juice over the top and mix one more time.

Don’t do like I do every time, and put it straight into an unprepared baking dish. This stuffing is too good to be missing all the stuff that sticks to the dish. Spray the pan down well, then throw in the stuffing and bake at whatever temperature all your other dishes are cooking, generally 350. I bake it until it smells great in my kitchen and looks done, which is not a scientific measurement. I know it when I see it, but I can’t tell you how. I think it is about 30-40 minutes, though.

I am also lucky in this sort of potluck in that we have a fair contingent of Indians on my floor, so I am not the only vegetarian. This year, though, there weren't any good veggie curries. Still, I had a good salad, lots of my stuffing, veggies, cranberry sauce, fruit, pumpkin pie, cherry cobbler and peppermint patties. I am sure the pie was not dairy-free, but overall, it was a fairly successful meal.

On Thanksgiving day, we went to my parents’ house. I didn’t cook as much as I intended to make originally, because I knew that most of the stuff I was making would not be appreciated by my family, and I would be having friends over the following weekend that would appreciate it all. I did make a pecan pie, cranberry sauce, mashed candied sweet potatoes, nutmeg mushrooms, steamed green beans and this great dill dip:

Dill Dip in a Round Rye bread
1 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
2/3 cup Nayonnaise
1 tsp dill seeds
1 tsp English Prime Rib seasoning (the original recipe calls for Beau Monde, but Penzey’s doesn’t carry that—I am only a little freaked out at all these “meat seasonings” I am using; first poultry seasoning and now this ;-))
1 TBSP dried onion flakes
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 large round loaf of rye bread

Mix the first 6 ingredients well. Cut a bowl into the top of the rye loaf, tearing up the cut out bread for dipping. Place the dip in the bowl and eat with the rye bread chunks, tearing up the bowl when the chunks are gone.

This is insanely good. My family devoured this in about 20 minutes, just me, my mom, my dad and my brother. The kids did eat a little of the bread, but they aren’t much for dip.

I still have one more meal to describe, but that will have to wait for another time. It was delicious, though! And, of the 5 people I had over, 3 of them were actually vegetarians, so I wasn’t outnumbered in my non-meat-eating ways for a change. Not that I mind cooking for anyone, it was just a nice change.