Thursday, July 26, 2007

Vegan Food Fever!

Never fear, my friends, despite being busy I've still been baking & of course, I cook dinner just about every night. Lately the baking & cooking have gone a different direction, VEGAN! I've always been a herbivore in the kitchen with my meals, I love having a plant based diet & tend not to rely on processed foods to bulk things up, but my baking is typically traditional & not bashful with butter, eggs, & milk. I've had bad luck with vegan baked goods I've purchased, many of them too dry or too oily & I think many others have had this issue as well, which has scared them off. Well, I'm here to tell you- it can be done & it can be done WELL!

I was partially inspired by a trip to Sidecar for Pigs Peace in Seattle, the 100% vegan store benefiting Pigs Peace Sanctuary. While there I picked up Sinfully Vegan by Lois Dieterly & The Damn Tasty Vegan by Kris Holechek, as well as other fun items. Both books have a plethora of great recipes & ways to veganize classic desserts, quick breads, cookies & other gems.

Additionally, Celine at Have Cake Will Travel always has fabulous vegan foods on her blog, so I've been dying to make some of her treats. I'm geared up to try some of her recipes soon & I know we're all looking forward to her upcoming recipe zine!

So, what have I been making?

This weekend they were showing 16 Candles for movie night in Dolores Park. We went to meet friends for a pre-movie potluck with a mixed audience of vegans & non. I wanted to make things everyone can eat, especially as the vegans tend to get very limited options. I made Potato & Pea Samosas, which were delicious! For dessert, I tried to replicate the Maple Butter Bars from Flying Apron bakery, only with a brown sugar crumble topping & I made Fudge from Sinfully Vegan. I also attended a birthday party that same night & brought desserts to the fabulous birthday girl, Megan! Everything turned out very well & I think I have some new favorite recipes!

Monday, I noticed I had excess bananas, so I decided to make muffins. Of course, I can't just leave a recipe alone, so they became Banana Cocoa Cinnamon Muffins.

The recipe was pretty basic:
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour (I used 1 cup all purpose, 1/4 cup whole wheat)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
I added approximately 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa & 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another, mix them together & bake at 350 degrees for 18 - 20 minutes.
! You have chewy, dense banana bread muffins! You could also lighten them up with some whole wheat pastry flour if you prefer a fluffy muffin.
I made them in an extra large muffin tin, so it yielded 6 large muffins of joy. Additionally, this recipe is pretty low calorie, even in the large muffin size, they were just under 250 calories each. If you made minis, you'd have great little lo-cal snacks! yum yum.

After I made the muffins, I found out some friends were passing through town, so I sprung to action & pulled together some Peanut Butter Cookies from Sinfully Vegan & another round of fudge, this time with added cocoa, because I am a glutton like that. My husband LOVED the cookies & is already asking for another batch. I thought they could use some sugar, as they were sweetened by maple syrup & on the crunchy side. The friends were fans of the fudge & enjoyed the muffins as well, so I sent them off with a goody bag, so we couldn't consume it all ourselves!

My many trips to Rainbow Grocery & Co-Op have resulted in a new love for bulk bins & trying new things. I brought home some lentils recently & decided to try using them last night. I scoured the internet for recipes & decided to use the red split lentils to make a curry dish. As usual, I couldn't stick to one recipe, so I combined a few, plus came up with my own ideas, especially since I wanted to use a bunch of fresh vegetables we had on hand. Red bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, & garlic started off our journey, red lentils, vegetable stock, tomato sauce, turmeric, cayenne pepper, & curry powder continued it & eventually we had a curry that would make Baby Jesus weep with joy! I'm not often impressed by my own work, but this was GOOD, really good. Lentils & curries are going to be a new staple in this house. I'm also excited that the 1st two Indian dishes I've ever made turned out so wonderfully! woo.

In addition to all of the above, there's been a lot of vegan cupcake baking with my favorite vegan psychopath Laura & the darling & sassy Megan. Sadly, this has not yielded nearly as many photos as cupcakes, but here's two vanilla-vanilla cuties we made tonight. These do not taste like cornbread, thankyouverymuch. Come hang with us, we'll force feed you many delicious cupcakes & show you what vegan baking is all about!

What's your favorite vegan dish? Do you have a favorite flavorful recipe? Share with me!
I was asked to make a vegetarian dish for my Grandmother's upcoming 70th birthday party & I really want to blow them away & let them know just how good food is without the use of animals! I have a few ideas & I know I don't want to use any faux meat, but I'm looking for more opinions & suggestions. Let me know what you would feed to the meat eaters in your life to knock their socks off!