I’ve never been a coffee drinker; it’s one thing I’ve never acquired a taste for as I’ve gotten older. But I do love chai tea. And ever since I’ve had kids I sometimes feel the need for a little caffeine boost. I used to buy boxes of pre-mixed chai tea bags but one day it occurred to me that those boxes cost 3-4 times more than basic black tea and chai is just black tea with some spices added. There are plenty of recipes on-line for chai but this is what works for me and what I find to be a very simple method: put a black tea bag in a mug and add half a cinnamon stick, one or two whole cloves, a cardamom pod (slightly crushed) and an anise star (or piece of one as you see in the photo). If I happen to have fresh ginger on hand then I might also cut off a thick slice, crush it slightly and add that to the mug as well. Then fill the mug about 3/4 full with boiling water and steep everything for about 5 minutes. Finally, top off the mug with soy milk (or another non-dairy milk) and add sweetener to taste (I like just a tad of agave). You could also add all the spices and some loose black tea to a tea ball and that would probably cost you even less. Enjoy!
I’m re-using some content here but with good reason. I love this stuff! So much so that these veggie patties made the top 10 list on our previous blog. Here’s an updated picture from tonight’s dinner. Background and recipes here. (Also note that the 5 year old loved these and also loved helping make them.)
I know this blog is only 14 posts old and we’ve already posted about pizza once. But I felt slightly bad that our goal here is to demonstrate from-scratch cooking and we posted about a pizza with packaged store-bought vegan cheese. Not that I have anything against Teese or Daiya (other than the fact that they’re expensive and come wrapped in plastic). We do buy these things from time to time but I’m also feeling compelled to post about the times we make pizza with our own homemade vegan cheese. In particular, Darlene has experimented of late with making vegan block cheeses that are shreddable. She tried this cashew cheese recipe from Real Food Daily and it was tasty but alas, it didn’t shred very well so we just crumbled it on a pizza (along with spinach and slices of homemade seitan).
She also tried adding agar powder to an old standby cheese-y sauce that we often make from The Uncheese Cookbook. Again, not really shreddable but still it was delicious crumbled on a pizza with spinach and mushrooms. Of course there’s nothing wrong with an entirely cheese-less pizza either. So save yourself some money and experiment with your own vegan cheese making!
Though we’re not Southerners by heritage, we’ve been living in Virginia for 12 years and at some point during our time here we started honoring the tradition of eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day. If you’re not up on Southern food traditions, the black-eyed peas represent good luck and the greens represent wealth in the new year. We broke from tradition this year though in how we prepared our peas & greens. We got ourselves a copy of Isa Does It for Christmas and as soon as I saw the recipe for Black-Eyed Pea & Collard Tacos, I figured that would be a great twist on our New Year’s Day tradition. The apple-avocado salsa is a great accompaniment and we may well make these our new tradition. Here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2014!
We hope everyone is having a great holiday season! Thanks in large part to Darlene (aka Super Mom) we had a fabulous Christmas dinner yesterday. We spent a good bit more time cooking than we usually do but we made a lot of food. And the nice thing about that is we didn’t cook dinner tonight – there were plenty of leftovers.
The main course was a simplified version of the Smothered Seitan with Mixed Mushroom Gravy from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen. To go with that scrumptious creation we also made apple-sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, cranberry sauce and roasted sweet potatoes with bananas. There was so much food the sweet potatoes didn’t make it onto the plate and since we didn’t make anything for dessert they filled in quite nicely in place of dessert. The kid loved them too (and he also requested extra seitan).
Everything was totally from scratch save for the store-bought bread we used for the stuffing and packaged vegetable broth for both the stuffing and gravy. Both of those items we would’ve liked to make from scratch (and do make from scratch regularly) but time was a little short.
The nice thing about having leftovers for dinner tonight was that we had time to make a proper dessert. Darlene used the Apple-Ginger pie recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance and turned it into more of an apple crisp. Yum!
This was our 17th vegan Thanksgiving so I don’t want to hear about how you have to eat turkey on Thanksgiving because it’s tradition. This is our tradition. More often than not in years past we’ve cooked a huge feast just for us but this year we were happy to have some friends join us for dinner. It was nice to have good company and nice to share the cooking. They brought a fabulous salad with roasted beets, mandarins and an orange vinaigrette, mac & “cheese” and an apple crisp. Since we had guests I didn’t spend a lot of time taking pictures but I did get a quick shot of the salad.
We made a pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and the main course – a vegan wellington filled with apple-sage stuffing, greens, maple-glazed seitan and roasted butternut squash and topped with sage-walnut gravy. The wellington was something new this year but we regularly break out the puff pastry for holidays.
I didn’t follow any particular recipe for the wellington but here’s a general idea on how it came together. First, make some puff pastry according to this recipe but substitute Earth Balance or other vegan margarine for the butter. Don’t worry about the cake flour either, just use regular all-purpose flour. Or do what I did and use about a third white whole wheat flour. (Hey, it’s got 3 sticks of Earth Balance but it’s got some whole grains so it’s healthy right?)
For the stuffing: I sauteed a little minced onion and diced apple in oil then added some day-old bread slices that I chopped up along with salt, pepper, fresh sage and thyme. Then I added vegetable stock until the consistency was to my liking.
For the greens: I sauteed kale with garlic and olive oil then added a little fresh thyme and lemon juice at the end.
For the seitan: Fry seitan cubes until brown then quickly mix in a tamari/maple syrup mixture at the end.
For the squash: Peel, seed and cube a butternut squash, then mix with olive oil and salt and roast until tender.
To put it together: Roll the puff pastry into a large rectangle, about 15″ x 20″. Spread the stuffing over about the middle half, top with the greens, then the seitan, then the squash. Brush some water onto one side of the puff pastry, fold the opposite side over the filling then close it up and seal it. Fold the ends on top then flip it over onto a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.
It’s a fair bit of work, but well worth it for a holiday meal. Same goes for the pumpkin pie that Darlene made, mainly using the recipe in Vegan Pie in the Sky with an almond crust. The pie was amazing and had not just fresh pumpkin but sweet potatoes in it as well. And the crust was made with almonds and white whole wheat flour – again with the healthy whole grains!
We love having Thanksgiving leftovers the next day too!