Saturday, June 25, 2011

Battle of the "Egg" Salads

In one corner: Missing Egg Salad from the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart iPhone app.

In the other corner: Egg Salad Sandwiches (p. 208) from The Kind Diet.

A few weeks ago Rob the Husband was on the hunt for silken tofu and didn't tell me what he needed it for. This could only mean one thing...a recipe surprise was on the horizon. When he set up shop in the kitchen and wouldn't tell me what he was working on I was intrigued, but I backed off and let him work his magic. When he proudly presented me with what looked like a friggen egg salad sandwich, I was pretty excited, and even more excited when it ended up tasting pretty much like a friggen egg salad sandwich.

This Missing Egg Salad (which can be found on Day 11 of the app) is made with silken tofu, green onion, relish, vegenaise, mustard, soy sauce, turmeric, cumin, and garlic powder. And it's good. I'm not a big relish fan, so the sweetness of the relish didn't thrill me in the sandwich, but I could still appreciate that this was really, really good.

A couple of days later, to maintain his status as an awesome husband, Rob made the Missing Egg Salad again. This time around I suggested adding in some regular firm tofu in addition to the silken tofu to thicken it up, as it seemed a bit runny the first time around. Because I'm always right and after 13 years together Rob knows this, he took the suggestion and the salad did indeed turn out less runny.

We had totally found our vegan egg salad.

Or so we thought...

Fast forward to a few weeks later. I was flipping through The Kind Diet looking at recipes I hadn't tried yet. Sure enough, I came across Egg Salad Sandwiches. The recipe was somewhat similar to the Missing Egg Salad...both used soy sauce, turmeric and Vegenaise, but Alicia's was minus the relish, mustard, cumin and garlic powder. Alicia's recipe also used diced celery and onions, and called for firm tofu, but I ended up using one package firm and one package I added diced pickles because pickles are just ridiculously fantastic.

And this too was a super delicious "egg" salad sandwich. Even my tofu-hating mother really enjoyed it. That's a pretty big deal considering the bulk of the dish is tofu. Go figure.

So we ended up trying two different vegan egg salads and both were thumbs up, which now leaves us with a problem...which one do we adopt as our own?

I prefer Alicia's, as I'm not a fan of the relish in the Missing Egg Salad.

Rob is a fan of the Missing Egg Salad, and he likes the sweetness of the relish.

How do we decide?


I feel like a thirteen year old autotuned singer who is waiting at a bus stop when her underage friends pull up in a convertible and they're kickin' in the front seat and kickin' in the back seat and she has to decide which seat she can take.

It's just toooo hard.

Perhaps we can settle this Princess Bride style, with a good ol' sword fight.

Best. Movie. Ever.

And in case you were wondering what the Best. Movie. Ever. would have been like if the cast had flatulence issues, you need wonder no more...

Yes, I am crude, immature, and unrefined.

But you totally laughed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bono/Natalie Portman/Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kick Vegan Shepherd's Pie

Ladies and Gentlemen, a celebration is in order.

So far, the only dish on which Rob the Husband has bestowed the elusive 5 Happy Tongues honour has been Alicia's Caesar Salad.

The Caesar Salad (with a very minor adjustment on our part...using half the dijon the recipe calls for and subbing in the rest with Vegenaise) has been a 5 Happy Tongue staple in our house that we always look forward to busting out, whether we have company over or whether we just want to enjoy a really stellar dinner for two.

While a few dishes have made it to 4.5 Happy Tongues, nothing other than the Caesar Salad has been earth shatteringly- mind blowingly- can't shovel it into my nouth fast enough- holy crap I hear the cherubim singing- Bono/Natalie Portman/Chuck Norris roundhouse kick hybrid level of awesomeness amazing.

Until now.

I present to you, with some minor tweaks to the recipe to veganize it (as the original contained dairy), what I am now officially referring to as Bono/Natalie Portman/Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kick Vegan Shepherd's Pie.

And it's not even from The Kind Diet. We found the recipe in a Mountain Burger package.

I don't ask Rob for a Happy Tongue rating unless we're trying out a Kind Diet recipe. This time around, though, he just offered it up. As he got up from the kitchen table to get his second helping he announced, "That's a five."


This has all the awesome comfort food flavour one would expect from traditional Shepherd's Pie without the ground up animal carcass. I think what really gives this dish the edge is the layer of creamed corn under the potatoes. It's just sweet and goes so perfectly with the tomato sauce in the veggie ground round.

So here's the recipe with my veganizing tweaks in place, if you are so inclined to hear the cherubim singing, as Rob the Husband did...

- 2 packages (340g each) Yves Veggie Ground Round...I used one package Italian and one package Original (the recipe actually calls for 6 crumbled veggie patties, and considering it's from a Mountain Burger package, I assume they want you to use Mountain Burger veggie patties)
- 3 tbsp. olive oil (the recipe actually calls for 6 tbsp but I thought that was wayyyyy too much oil...3 worked just fine for me)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 can of your favourite tomato sauce
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 can creamed corn (the recipe actually calls for 2 cans creamed corn, but 1 was enough for me)
- mashed potato topping
            - 6 large potatoes, cooked
            - 2 tbsp. Earth Balance butter (I used 2 heaping tbsp), plus a bit more to top the dish
            - 1/2 cup almond milk (or rice milk or soy milk or any milk that doesn't come from something with tits)
            - 2 tbsp Tofutti sour cream
            - 1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 450F.

Boil potatoes and mash together with butter, milk, sour cream and salt.          

Heat olive oil in frying pan and saute garlic.
Add celery, onion, and tomato sauce, cooking for 10 minutes.
Add veggie ground round (or crumbled veggie patties) to the sauce and mix together.
Place on bottom of a pan or casserole dish (I used my slightly larger oval Corningware...the recipe says to use an 8x8 pan).
Spread the creamed corn over the veggie mixture.
Spread the mashed potatoes over the creamed corn.
Spread some butter over the mashed potatoes and bake at 450F until browned.

The recipe didn't say what to do with the oregano. I ended up sprinkling it over the mashed potatoes before putting the dish into the oven because I didn't realize I didn't use the oregano until the end. I assume it would work well sprinkled into the veggie ground round mixture, but it was good just sprinkled on the potatoes as well.
The recipe also suggested layering one can of creamed corn on top of the veggie mixture, followed by half the potatoes, followed by a second can of creamed corn, followed by the rest of the potatoes...but I found that the pie was teetering dangerously close to the top of my casserole dish, and couldn't handle the extra can of creamed corn, hence my decision to only use one. If you have a really high dish, and it can handle the extra layer, and you love creamed corn, go for it. Be crazy. Live your dreams.

I'm still in a state of shock at the absurd level of earth shatteringly- mind blowingly- can't shovel it into my nouth fast enough- holy crap I hear the cherubim singing- Bono/Natalie Portman/Chuck Norris roundhouse kick hybrid level of awesomeness going on in this Shepherd's Pie.

You will notice that the Chuck Norris kick in the above video, while indeed epic, is not a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick. This blog is not built to contain the extreme awesomeness of a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick, and would likely implode if I attempted to post a video of a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick on here, in addition to the awesomeness of Bono, Natalie Portman, and my Vegan Shepherd's Pie.

Safety first people. Safety first.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Time Cooking = Less Time Shit Disturbing

The school year is winding down. Classes are done. Just exams left.

Thank you God.

Idiots rioting in Vancouver last night. People need to be slapped.


Time for some Kind Diet recipe catching up (which I've totally neglected in the last couple of weeks of classes because school has been SOOOO STOOOOPID BUSY...but now it's almost over and life is good again).

Tuesday 18.0: Christopher's Cauliflower Steaks (p. 271) / Hot Rice with Cold Lemon, Basil and Tomato (p. 151)

These cauliflower steaks (Christopher, incidentally, is Alicia's husband) were one of the first recipes to catch my eye when I first started looking through The Kind Diet. I never really felt motivated to make them, though, because they seemed pretty simple and boring. As it turned out they were indeed simple, but definitely not boring.

I wasn't in a rush to try this recipe because the cauliflower is only seasoned with some olive oil, salt and pepper. It really didn't seem like it would be that interesting. Here's the thing about cauliflower is so incredibly flavourful when it is cooked, you really don't need any elaborate seasoning. Roasted cauliflower compared to raw doesn't even taste like the same vegetable. The recipe also includes fennel, which is also ridiculously flavourful when cooked. The fennel turned out to have a pretty bold, sweet flavour that I wasn't really a fan of, but Rob the Husband loved it.

This recipe, therefore, works out perfectly for me...I'll eat the cauliflower and Rob will eat the fennel and we'll live happily ever after.

It's like when I used to eat fruit juice berry gummy bears with my bff (before realizing they were made of horse hooves, of course)...she liked the citrus flavoured ones and I liked the berry flavoured ones, so it always worked out perfectly.

Because you can't just eat cauliflower and fennel for dinner (or can you?) I made the Hot Rice with Cold Lemon, Basil and Tomato to go with this meal. I absolutely loved this rice dish the first time I made it, but I think I screwed something up this time around, because it was way too lemony for me and definitely did not impress me like it did before. This just means I have to make it a third time now to see which version (the delicious one or the not delicious one) was the anomaly.

Monday 19.0: Azuki Beans with Kabocha Squash (p. 241). 

This was the first meal I made for my sister after she saw Forks Over Knives and decided to go Plant Strong. This is by far the "healthiest" tasting quintessential macrobiotic Kind Diet recipe I've tried thus far. That's not a good thing.

I'll be honest...this dish was a bit hard core healthy for me. And by hard core healthy I mean boring as shit. I actually found myself unintentionally making faces while I was eating it. It's not gross or anything. Just...boring. Sooo sooo boring. I know it's crazy healthy and stuff, and therefore perfect for my tube-fed sister who doesn't have to taste how oh so very boring it is, but this was really not one to brag about.

I will be making it again though. Why? Because both my mom and Rob actually liked it.

I was alone in my face scrunching. Go figure. Their palettes must be a lot more grown up than mine.

Thursday 19.0: Ginger Pasta with Zucchini (p. 238)

This was my second attempt making this pasta, as the first time I tried it I had to use asparagus since I didn't have zucchini. I liked it a lot the first time and I liked it a lot this time. This is a great dish. The tofu provides more layers to the texture (and throws in a punch of protein) and the zucchini adds a nice firmness. I just love love love ginger, so of course flavour-wise this one is a winner with gives off this great zing that just tastes really fresh.

The salad was pretty kickass the suggestion of my veggie buddy Heather I tried Little Creek dressing, and it is just delicious on salads. I love busy salads (the more stuff you put in it the better), and I find they are a great way to use up a lot of the veggies you may have sitting around in the fridge. Needless to say, the salad complimented the pasta perfectly.

And that brings us to this week, and Tuesday 21.0 (don't even ask about what I had been eating during week was the last week of school and I was desperately trying to finish marking a whole crapload of assignments and input marks before classes were over...there wasn't much sleeping going on, let alone cooking).

I wanted something totally superhero but NOT totally boring, so I made Nabeyaki Udon (p. 231). This looked like it had a lot of leafy green goodness going on, and lately I have been noticing myself craving leafy greens, of all things (bok choy, collards, you name it). It's really weird, actually. It's like my body knows when it has been deprived of Green. Better craving that than fruit juice berries, I guess.

This is a really mellow has subtle flavours and is super healthy tasting (but not boring like the azuki beans & kabocha squash dish).

It kinda reminded me of Alicia's Magical Healing Soup, which is totally subtle in seasoning and lets the flavours of the veggies shine through. I loved it. As per Alicia's suggestion, I added tofu cubes to the broth, and was just really satisfied with how nicely everything went together. Rob commented that it was a little bland, but the dipping sauce that goes with it (in the little bowl) took care of that and added the burst of flavour that he found lacking (the sauce is just shoyu, ginger juice, lemon juice, and mushroom broth).

Rob's rating: 
Nabeyaki Udon - 4 Happy Tongues

***the previous dishes didn't get a Happy Tongue rating because it had been so long since we had them that Rob couldn't remember them well enough to give an accurate rating. I guess I just have to make them again...including the azuki beans. Frack.***

Well, considering what went down in Vancouver last night, and considering that everything that could possibly be said about rioting idiots has already been said, I guess I'll just end off with a brief thought.

I think if people spent more time cooking and figuring out how to live Kind they would have less time and less inclination to be anarchists and shit disturbers.

And if I was Supreme Ruler of Vancouver I would definitely institute punishment by cheese grater for all rioting shit disturbing assholes.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Love and Other Blogs

Sometimes, to mix things up a bit because we're crazy like that, Rob the Husband and I venture outside of The Kind Diet cookbook and take our chances with vegan recipes from other sources. Blogs are an awesome, awesome place to find some kickass (and sometimes not so kickass) recipes. As much as I love making my way through The Kind Diet recipes (and I estimate at this point I've tried about 2/3 of them), every so often I'll come across a recipe from another blog that looks pretty friggen kickass. With a bit of tweaking, even the non-vegan recipes can work out just swell...

Recipe #1: Soup. Black Bean. Hot. from wilwheaton dot net in exile.

Ah, Wil Wheaton. Seriously, what high school girl growing up in the 90's who happened to be a huge fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation didn't just adore Wesley Crusher? He was completely non-threatening, had the most gorgeous kissable lips (as Ashley Judd was lucky enough to experience for herself...lucky bitch), and could totally rock not only a Star Fleet uniform, but also 24th Century sweater.

Alas, after his Star Trek departure, I went on with my life, only to wonder several years later what had happened to my dearest Wesley. I was thrilled to discover during my internet roaming, that tv's Wil Wheaton had a blog (even though I wasn't entirely sure what a blog was back in 2002) that he maintained himself and updated rather frequently. I've been an avid reader of his ever since, and every so often we get a precious snippet of his home life, which interests me verily. ....holy crap, verily is actually a word...I didn't get the dotted red underlining thing under it like I was expecting as I wrote it. Whadayaknow?

So it was in one of Wil's awesome posts about the every-day little things that go on at home that he shared this recipe for black bean soup. Aside from the clever title (an homage to the great Jean Luc Picard and the way he ordered his tea)...

...Wil's recipe was totally vegan and required no tweaking.

The soup was hearty and delicious. It had a very tangy limey flavour, which was pretty refreshing, and a bit of a contrast to the overall warmth and heartiness of the dish. If sour is not your thing, you can always cut back the lime juice a bit. This soup was definitely a win and will be making a reappearance in my kitchen come cooler weather...definitely a good one to break out in stew season.

The same day I made Wil's soup, Rob the husband was busy experimenting with a recipe he found online as well (I love when he gets all domestic like that). We had been seriously missing mac n'cheese. I mean, seriously. So much so that when we stayed overnight at the Fairmont Pacific Rim for a cheerleading competition in April, we totally cheated and ordered some room service real dairy mac n'cheese because we are weak, weak people. Thankfully, we discovered Daiya and our vegan journey took a very pleasant turn in the direction of even more awesome awesomeness.

Which brings us to Recipe #2...

The same day I was making Wil's soup, Rob found this recipe from a Vancouver vegan blogger for Mac n'Cheese with Daiya, and he proceeded to make it all by himself :) And it was awesome. No, really, I'm serious...this mac n'cheese was AWESOME.

Now, let's be clear...this is not your traditional mac n'cheese...oh no no, this is much more sophisticated. This shit has curry powder in it.

That's right...CURRY POWDER. It's like, Indian-inspired incredibleness.

This dish is so ridiculously addictive and has all the essential properties one would expect from an excellent mac n'cheese dish...the gooey cheesy goodness (thank you Daiya), the slightly crunchy breadcrumby texture (thank you nutritional yeast...which btw is supposed to be crazy good for you), and the satisfaction that comes from eating a truly delicious comfort food. I will bust out this dish for anyone and everyone (as we did at our last very vegan dinner party) is that good.

Needless to say, this was indeed a day of good eatin'...

And now Recipe #3...

When we started the process of our adoption in 2007 I came across this This is written by a mom of ten kids...4 bio and 6 adopted (4 adopted from Ethiopia, which is where we are adopting from). I've been following her quite regularly since then, and in addition to blogging about parenting and frugal living, she is also quite the cook and has even published a cookbook on frugal cooking.

I came across this West African Sweet Potato Soup on her blog and had to try it...I mean, it has PEANUT BUTTER in it. So weird, right? Yah, it was. Weird but good.

This is definitely a more adventurous dish, and probably won't appeal to everyone. It took a bowl or two for Rob the Husband to get on board, but it is really worth trying. The only adjustment I had to make was using Earth Balance instead of butter, so it was an easy recipe to veganize. The peanut butter lends a really rich, deep, unique flavour to the soup, and it is truly unlike anything I've tried before. If you dig Thai peanut sauce, you should appreciate this dish. I'm not sure that I'd make it for company because it is pretty weird, but I will definitely be repeating it for my family as the weather cools down again come fall. It's a really funky soup (funky in a good way!) to have in your arsenal if you want to expand the horizons of your palette.

Her picture is so much prettier than mine :(

Now THAT looks like an appetizing soup. Mine just looks like orange mush. Why did my soup turn out so orange compared to hers? Her veggies are also much more chunky and prominent than mine. Hmmmph. I will definitely be working to try to make my soup look more like this the next time I make it.

Recipe #4...Lentil Cookies.

One of my co-workers has recently started blogging about her journey to healthier living, and she told me about these lentil cookies a couple of months ago. I've had quinoa cookies before, but never of course I was really interested in trying them. I mean, friggen lentils in a cookie? Hells yes. I was definitely thrilled when she posted the recipe on her blog. 

This recipe was also easy to veganize...I once again used Earth Balance in place of the butter, egg replacer instead of the egg, agave nectar instead of sugar, and raisins in place of the chocolate chips (I could have just used vegan chocolate chips, but I didn't really feel like putting chocolate in what was ultimately a breakfast cookie...not this time anyway). When I was mixing all the ingredients together I thought it was all a bit much...a whole cup each of nuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins? But it worked beautifully...these cookies have sooooo much good stuff going on. And like my lovely health-conscious co-worker says, you can do soooo much with them, adding whatever tickles your fancy in terms of nuts & dried fruit. I love the chunky texture...and my mom ABSOLUTELY loved these too. She's not a big fan of anything too sweet, so because this is more of a breakfast cookie instead of a dessert cookie, she gave them a huge thumbs up. 

So there you have it...sharing some yummy stuff from the blogosphere.

Speaking of yummy stuff from the blogosphere...

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch the Canucks win the Stanley Cup.

***edited at 7:20 pm to add...

or not.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My U2-Vegan Connection (a bit of a stretch, but there is one)

I really want to blog about my U2 concert experience...but this blog is supposed to be about my Kind Diet journey, so blogging about U2 would be totally off topic. Unless I found a way to link U2 and vegan livin'.

Which I totally have :) So now I'm free to talk about the Seattle show on June 4th. Score. 

Only for U2 can you line up at 5pm on Friday for a concert that doesn't start until 7pm on Saturday and be number 120 in line. 

But it's worth it. 

Rob the Husband, Kathy the Cousin, Ryan the Cousin-to-be and I spent our Friday night going back and forth between the line and our hotel. Luckily we had the comfiest chairs and the weather was cooperative for queueing outdoors. 

This was an odd GA line for me. I've now been to 8 U2 concerts (queued for 7 of them), and we've always been expected to put in our time in line...meaning that once you show up and get a number, you are there for the long haul. This time around people were able to show up and get a number and take off until the morning (which was pretty uncool). But whatever...I wasn't running the show and I'm not confrontational, so we just went with it. By around 5am, most of the 119 people ahead of us (and about 180 after us) were at Qwest Field ready to be moved onto the premises for the "official" GA line. True to their word, at 7am the Qwest staff moved us onto the property. 

After settling in, we headed back to the hotel to shower and check out, and then returned to the line for a day of basking in the sun and U2 fan camaraderie. 

One may wonder, what does one eat over the course of the day queueing for a U2 concert if one wishes to stay true to the Plant? Well, our  breakfast was Perfect Oatmeal from Starbucks, lunch was a veggie dog (there might have been dairy in the bun but I wasn't being picky), and dinner was nonexistant...we didn't want to leave the line after 4pm and I figured the less stuff in my system, the better. 

I also made sure to wear my cutesy vegan propaganda shirt because it's awesome.

The anticipation for the show was building up over the course of the day, and became even more intense when Lenny Kravitz started his sound check. Qwest being an open air stadium, we could hear absolutely everything, and it was INCREDIBLE. And then when U2 started their soundcheck the excitement built up even more, so much so that I may just pee myself if I attempt to describe it. 

Once they let us in it was a mad dash to score a spot on the rail, but we managed to secure our real estate.

Knowing we were there for the next six hours or so, I realized that water (in small quantities of course) might be a good idea. When I went to get a drink from the kiosk they had set up on the floor, however, it turned out that they didn't sell anything non-alcoholic there. 


Who doesn't have water available at a beverage station? Seriously.

Because the girls working the kiosk didn't direct me anywhere else, I assumed there was no place close by that was selling water, so I settled for a Mike's. 

Which they wouldn't sell me because I didn't have ID. Frack. 

Pet Peeve: People who are CLEARLY younger than me asking me for ID when I'm friggen thirsty and there are no non-alcoholic beverages available. 

Fail Qwest Field. Fail.

It all turned out ok though, because my cousin-to-be Ryan scored me a Mike's, and all was right in the world again. All became even more awesome in the world when Lenny Kravitz took the stage. 

Holy shit this guy can rock it out. I was never an OMG I LOVE LENNY KRAVITZ AND I WANNA HAVE HIS BABIES AND BRAND MYSELF WITH A LENNY TRAMP STAMP superfan, but it's hard not to feel that way when he's giving it his all on stage right in front of you. What an amazing performer.

Lenny's set was over all too quickly, and we soon found ourselves listening to Ground Control calling Major Tom, and then the moment of truth...

I love these guys. So. Much. Ima shut up now and let the pics do the talking.

They even had a message recorded from a space station. Outer SPACE! For a rock concert! And then the astronaut piped in some lyrics during Beautiful Day. From OUTER SPACE. Did I mention this was just for the rock concert? 

Only U2 man.

An incredible concert, an inspiring message from Bono raising awareness for Amnesty International and the ONE Campaign, and worth every second in that line up to score an unobstructed position on the rail.

And the U2-vegan connection? Well, aside from me sporting my Eat Vegies Not Friends t-shirt at the concert, Bono endorses the book Veganist by Kathy Freston, who is the wife of Tom Freston, Chairman of the Board of the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History. 

I love this man. 

So much.